Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: An Original Belle
Author: Roe, Edward Payson, 1838-1888
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "An Original Belle" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



An Original Belle

By: E. P. Roe

1900



PREFACE.



No race of men, scarcely an individual, is so devoid of intelligence
as not to recognize power. Few gifts are more courted. Power is
almost as varied as character, and the kind of power most desired
or appreciated is a good measure of character. The pre-eminence
furnished by thew and muscle is most generally recognized; but, as
men reach levels above the animal, other qualities take the lead.
It is seen that the immaterial spirit wins the greater triumphs,--that
the brainless giant, compared with the dwarf of trained intelligence,
can accomplish little. The scale runs on into the moral qualities,
until at last humanity has given its sanction to the Divine words,
"Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." The
few who have successfully grasped the lever of which Archimedes
dreamed are those who have attained the highest power to serve the
world.

Among the myriad phases of power, perhaps that of a gifted and
beautiful woman is the most subtile and hard to define. It is not
the result of mere beauty, although that may be an important element;
and if wit, intelligence, learning, accomplishments, and goodness
are added, all combined cannot wholly explain the power that some
women possess. Deeper, perhaps more potent, than all else, is an
individuality which distinguishes one woman from all others, and
imparts her own peculiar fascination. Of course, such words do not
apply to those who are content to be commonplace themselves, and
who are satisfied with the ordinary homage of ordinary minds, or
the conventional attention of men who are incited to nothing better.

One of the purposes of this story is to illustrate the power of a
young girl not so beautiful or so good as many of her sisters. She
was rather commonplace at first, but circumstances led her to the
endeavor to be true to her own nature and conscience and to adopt
a very simple scheme of life. She achieved no marvellous success,
nothing beyond the ability of multitudes like herself.

I have also sought to reproduce with some color of life and reality
a critical period in our civil war. The scenes and events of the
story culminate practically in the summer of 1863. The novel was
not written for the sake of the scenes or events. They are employed
merely to illustrate character at the time and to indicate its
development.

The reader in the South must be bitter and prejudiced indeed if
he does not discover that I have sought to be fair to the impulses
and motives of its people.

In touching upon the Battle of Gettysburg and other historical
events, I will briefly say that I have carefully consulted authentic
sources of information. For the graphic suggestion of certain
details I am indebted to the "History of the 124th Regt. N.Y.S.V.,"
by Col. Charles H. Weygant, to the recollections of Capt. Thomas
Taft and other veterans now living.

Lieut.-Col. H. C. Hasbrouck, commandant of Cadets at West Point,
has kindly read the proof of chapters relating to the battle of
Gettysburgh.

My story is also related to the New York Draft Riots of 1863, an
historical record not dwelt upon before in fiction to my knowledge.
It is almost impossible to impart an adequate impression of that
reign of terror. I have not hoped to do this, or to give anything
like a detailed and complete account of events. The scenes and
incidents described, however, had their counterpart in fact. Rev.
Dr. Howard Crosby of New York saw a young man face and disperse
a mob of hundreds, by stepping out upon the porch of his home and
shooting the leader. This event took place late at night.

I have consulted "Sketches of the Draft Riots in 1863," by Hon. J.
T. Headley, the files of the Press of that time, and other records.

The Hon. Thomas C. Acton. Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police
during the riot, accorded me a hearing, and very kindly followed
the thread of my story through the stormy period in question.

E. P. R

CORNWALL-ON-HUDSON, N.Y., AUG. 7, 1885.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I. A RUDE AWAKENING

CHAPTER II. A NEW ACQUAINTANCE

CHAPTER III. A NEW FRIEND

CHAPTER IV. WOMAN'S CHIEF RIGHT

CHAPTER V. "BE HOPEFUL, THAT I MAY HOPE"

CHAPTER VI. A SCHEME OF LIFE

CHAPTER VII. SURPRISES

CHAPTER VIII. CHARMED BY A CRITIC

CHAPTER IX. A GIRL'S LIGHT HAND

CHAPTER X. WILLARD MERWYN

CHAPTER XI. AN OATH AND A GLANCE

CHAPTER XII. "A VOW"

CHAPTER XIII. A SIEGE BEGUN

CHAPTER XIV. OMINOUS

CHAPTER XV. SCORN

CHAPTER XVI. AWAKENED AT LAST

CHAPTER XVII. COMING TO THE POINT

CHAPTER XVIII. A GIRL'S STANDARD

CHAPTER XIX. PROBATION PROMISED

CHAPTER XX. "YOU THINK ME A COWARD"

CHAPTER XXI. FEARS AND PERPLEXITIES

CHAPTER XXII. A GIRL'S THOUGHTS AND IMPULSES

CHAPTER XXIII. "MY FRIENDSHIP IS MINE TO GIVE"

CHAPTER XXIV. A FATHER'S FORETHOUGHT

CHAPTER XXV. A CHAINED WILL

CHAPTER XXVI. MARIAN'S INTERPRETATION OF MERWYN

CHAPTER XXVII. "DE HEAD LINKUM MAN WAS CAP'N LANE"

CHAPTER XXVIII. THE SIGNAL LIGHT

CHAPTER XXIX. MARIAN CONTRASTS LANE AND MERWYN

CHAPTER XXX THE NORTH INVADED

CHAPTER XXXI. "I'VE LOST MY CHANCE"

CHAPTER XXXII. BLAUVELT

CHAPTER XXXIII. A GLIMPSE OF WAR

CHAPTER XXXIV. A GLIMPSE OF WAR, CONTINUED

CHAPTER XXXV. THE GRAND ASSAULT

CHAPTER XXXVI. BLAUVELT'S SEARCH FOR STRAHAN

CHAPTER XXXVII. STRAHAN'S ESCAPE

CHAPTER XXXVIII. A LITTLE REBEL

CHAPTER XXXIX. THE CURE OF CAPTAIN LANE

CHAPTER XL. LOVE'S TRIUMPH

CHAPTER XLI. SUNDAY'S LULL AND MONDAY'S STORM

CHAPTER XLII. THAT WORST OF MONSTERS, A MOB

CHAPTER XLIII. THE "COWARD"

CHAPTER XLIV. A WIFE'S EMBRACE

CHAPTER XLV. THE DECISIVE BATTLE

CHAPTER XLVI. "I HAVE SEEN THAT YOU DETEST ME"

CHAPTER XLVII. A FAIR FRIEND AND FOUL FOES

CHAPTER XLVIII. DESPERATE FIGHTING

CHAPTER XLIX. ONE FACING HUNDREDS

CHAPTER L. ZEB

CHAPTER LI. A TRAGEDY

CHAPTER LII. "MOTHER AND SON"

CHAPTER LIII. "MISSY S'WANEE"



AN ORIGINAL BELLE.

CHAPTER I.

A RUDE AWAKENING.



MARIAN VOSBURGH had been content with her recognized position
as a leading belle. An evening spent in her drawing-room revealed
that; but at the close of the particular evening which it was our
privilege to select there occurred a trivial incident. She was led
to think, and thought is the precursor of action and change in all
natures too strong and positive to drift. On that night she was
an ordinary belle, smiling, radiant, and happy in following the
traditions of her past.

She had been admired as a child, as a school-girl, and given a
place among the stars of the first magnitude since her formal debut.
Admiration was as essential as sunshine; or, to change the figure,
she had a large and a natural and healthful appetite for it. She was
also quite as much entitled to it as the majority of her class.
Thus far she had accepted life as she found it, and was in the
main conventional. She was not a deliberate coquette; it was not
her recognized purpose to give a heartache to as many as possible;
she merely enjoyed in thoughtless exultation her power to attract
young men to her side. There was keen excitement in watching them,
from the moment of introduction, as they passed through the phases
of formal acquaintanceship into relations that bordered on sentiment.
When this point was reached experiences sometimes followed which
caused not a little compunction.

She soon learned that society was full of men much like herself in
some respects, ready to meet new faces, to use their old compliments
and flirtation methods over and over again. They could look unutterable
things at half a dozen different girls in the same season, while
their hearts remained as invulnerable as old-fashioned pin-cushions,
heart-shaped, that adorn country "spare rooms." But now and then
a man endowed with a deep, strong nature would finally leave her
side in troubled wonder or bitter cynicism. Her fair, young face,
her violet eyes, so dark as to appear almost black at night, had
given no token that she could amuse herself with feelings that
touched the sources of life and death in such admirers.

"They should have known better, that I was not in earnest," she
would say, petulantly, and more or less remorsefully.

But these sincere men, who had been so blind as to credit her with
gentle truth and natural intuition, had some ideal of womanhood
which had led to their blunder. Conscious of revealing so much
themselves by look, tone, and touch of hand, eager to supplement
one significant glance by life-long loyalty, they were slow in
understanding that answering significant glances meant only, "I
like you very well,--better than others, just at present; but then
I may meet some one to-morrow who is a great deal more fun than
you are."

Fun! With them it was a question of manhood, of life, and of
that which gives the highest value and incentive to life. It was
inevitable, therefore, that Marian Vosburgh should become a mirage
to more than one man; and when at last the delusion vanished, there
was usually a flinty desert to be crossed before the right, safe
path was gained.

From year to year Mr. Vosburgh had rented for his summer residence
a pretty cottage on the banks of the Hudson. The region abounded
in natural beauty and stately homes. There was an infusion of
Knickerbocker blood in the pre-eminently elect ones of society, and
from these there was a gradual shading off in several directions,
until by some unwritten law the social line was drawn. Strangers
from the city might be received within the inner circle, or they
might not, as some of the leaders practically decreed by their
own action. Mr. Vosburgh did not care in the least for the circle
or its constituents. He was a stern, quiet man; one of the strong
executive hands of the government at a time when the vital questions
of the day had come to the arbitrament of the sword. His calling
involved danger, and required an iron will. The questions which
chiefly occupied his mind were argued by the mouths of cannon.

As for Marian, she too cared little for the circle and its social
dignitaries. She had no concessions to make, no court to pay.
She was not a dignitary, but a sovereign, and had her own court.
Gentleman friends from the city made their headquarters at a
neighboring summer hotel; young men from the vicinity were attracted
like moths, and the worst their aristocratic sisters could say
against the girl was that she had too many male friends, and was
not "of their set." Indeed, with little effort she could have won
recognition from the bluest blood of the vicinage; but this was not
her ambition. She cared little for the ladies of her neighborhood,
and less for their ancestors, while she saw as much of the gentlemen
as she desired. She had her intimates among her own sex, however,
and was on the best terms with her good-natured, good-hearted,
but rather superficial mother, who was a discreet, yet indulgent
chaperon, proud of her daughter and of the attention she received,
while scarcely able to comprehend that any serious trouble could
result from it if the proprieties of life were complied with.
Marian was never permitted to give that kind of encouragement
which compromises a girl, and Mrs. Vosburgh felt that there her
duty ceased. All that could be conveyed by the eloquent eye, the
inflection of tones, and in a thousand other ways, was unnoted,
and beyond her province.

The evening of our choice is an early one in June. The air is
slightly chilly and damp, therefore the parlor is preferable to
the vine-sheltered piazza, screened by the first tender foliage.
We can thus observe Miss Vosburgh's deportment more closely, and
take a brief note of her callers.

Mr. Lane is the first to arrive, perhaps for the reason that he is
a downright suitor, who has left the city and business, in order
to further the interests nearest his heart. He is a keen-eyed,
strong-looking fellow, well equipped for success by knowledge of
the world and society; resolute, also, in attaining his desired
ends.  His attentions to Marian have been unmistakable for some
months, and he believes that he has received encouragement. In
truth, he has been the recipient of the delusive regard that she is
in the habit of bestowing. He is one whom she could scarcely fail
to admire and like, so entertaining is he in conversation, and
endowed with such vitality and feeling that his words are not airy
nothings.

He greets her with a strong pressure of the hand, and his first
glance reveals her power.

"Why, this is an agreeable surprise, Mr. Lane," she exclaims.

"Agreeable? I am very glad to hear that," he says, in his customary
direct speech. "Yes, I ran up from the city this afternoon. On my
way to lunch I became aware of the beauty of the day, and as my
thoughts persisted in going up the river I was led to follow them.
One's life does not consist wholly of business, you know; at least
mine does not."

"Yet you have the reputation of being a busy man."

"I should hope so. What would you think of a young fellow not busy
in these times?"

"I am not sure I should think at all. You give us girls too much
credit for thinking."

"Oh, no; there's no occasion for the plural. I don't give 'us girls'
anything. I am much too busy for that. But I know you think, Miss
Marian, and have capacity for thought."

"Possibly you are right about the capacity. One likes to think one
has brains, you know, whether she uses them or not. I don't think
very much, however,--that is, as you use the word, for it implies
the putting of one's mind on something and keeping it there. I like
to let thoughts come and go as the clouds do in our June skies. I
don't mean thunder-clouds and all they signify, but light vapors
that have scarcely beginning or end, and no very definite being.
I don't seem to have time or inclination for anything else, except
when I meet you with your positive ways. I think it is very kind
of you to come from New York to give me a pleasant evening."

"I'm not so very disinterested. New York has become a dull place,
and if I aid you to pass a pleasant evening you insure a pleasanter
one for me. What have you been doing this long June day, that you
have been too busy for thought?"

"Let me see. What have I been doing? What an uncomfortable question
to ask a girl! You men say we are nothing but butterflies, you
know."

"I never said that of you."

"You ask a question which makes me say it virtually of myself. That
is a way you keen lawyers have. Very well; I shall be an honest
witness, even against myself. That I wasn't up with the lark this
morning goes without saying. The larks that I know much about are
on the wing after dinner in the evening. The forenoon is a variable
sort of affair with many people. Literally I suppose it ends at 12
M., but with me it is rounded off by lunch, and the time of that
event depends largely upon the kitchen divinity that we can lure to
this remote and desolate region. 'Faix,' remarked that potentate,
sniffing around disdainfully the day we arrived, 'does yez expects
the loikes o' me to stop in this lonesomeness? We're jist at the
ind of the wourld.' Mamma increased her wages, which were already
double what she earns, and she still condescends to provide our
daily food, giving me a forenoon which closes at her convenience.
During this indefinite period I look after my flowers and birds,
sing and play a little, read a little, entertain a little, and thus
reveal to you a general littleness. In the afternoon I take a nap,
so that I may be wide awake enough to talk to a bright man like
you in case he should appear. Now, are you not shocked and pained
at my frivolous life?"

"You have come to the country for rest and recuperation, Miss
Marian?"

"Oh, what a word,--'recuperation!' It never entered my head that
I had come into the country for that. Do I suggest a crying need
for recuperation?"

"I wouldn't dare tell you all that you suggest to me, and I read
more than you say between your lines. When I approached the house
you were chatting and laughing genially with your mother."

"Oh, yes, mamma and I have as jolly times together as two girls."

"That was evident, and it made a very pleasant impression on me.
One thing is not so evident, and it indicates a rather one-sided
condition of affairs. I could not prevent my thoughts from visiting
you often to-day before I came myself, but I fear that among your
June-day occupations there has not been one thought of me."

She had only time to say, sotto voce, "Girls don't tell everything,"
when the maid announced, from the door, "Mr. Strahan."

This second comer was a young man precociously mature after a
certain style. His home was a fine old place in the vicinity, but
in his appearance there was no suggestion of the country; nor did
he resemble the violet, although he was somewhat redolent of the
extract of that modest flower. He was dressed in the extreme of
the prevailing mode, and evidently cultivated a metropolitan air,
rather than the unobtrusive bearing of one who is so thoroughly a
gentleman that he can afford to be himself. Mr. Strahan was quite
sure of his welcome, for he felt that he brought to the little
cottage a genuine Madison-avenue atmosphere. He was greeted with
the cordiality which made Miss Vosburgh's drawing-room one of the
pleasantest of lounging-places, whether in town or country; and
under his voluble lead conversation took the character of fashionable
gossip, which would have for the reader as much interest as
the presentation of some of the ephemeral weeds of that period.
But Mr. Strahan's blue eyes were really animated as he ventured
perilously near a recent scandal in high life. His budget of news
was interspersed with compliments to his hostess, which, like the
extract on his handkerchief, were too pronounced. Mr. Lane regarded
him with politely veiled disgust, but was too well-bred not to
second Miss Vosburgh's remarks to the best of his ability.

Before long two or three more visitors dropped in. One from the hotel
was a millionnaire, a widower leisurely engaged in the selection of
a second wife. Another was a young artist sketching in the vicinity.
A third was an officer from West Point who knew Mr.  Vosburgh.
There were also callers from the neighborhood during the evening.
Mrs. Vosburgh made her appearance early, and was almost as skilful
a hostess as her daughter. But few of the guests remained long.
They had merely come to enjoy a pleasant half-hour or more under
circumstances eminently agreeable, and would then drive on and pay
one or two visits in the vicinity. That was the way in which nearly
all Marian's "friendships" began.

The little parlor resounded with animated talk, laughter, and music,
that was at the same time as refined as informal. Mrs. Vosburgh
would seat herself at the piano, that a new dancing-step or a new
song might be tried. The gentlemen were at liberty to light their
cigars and form groups among themselves, so free from stiffness
was Marian's little salon. Brief time elapsed, however, without a
word to each, in her merry, girlish voice, for she had the instincts
of a successful hostess, and a good-natured sense of honor, which
made her feel that each guest was entitled to attention. She was
not much given to satire, and the young men soon learned that she
would say more briery things to their faces than behind their backs.
It was also discovered that ill-natured remarks about callers who
had just departed were not tolerated,--that within certain limits
she was loyal to her friends, and that, she was too high-minded to
speak unhandsomely of one whom she had just greeted cordially. If
she did not like a man she speedily froze him out of the ranks of
her acquaintance; but for such action there was not often occasion,
since she and her mother had a broad, easy tolerance of those
generally accepted by society. Even such as left her parlor finally
with wounds for which there was no rapid healing knew that no one
would resent a jest at their expense more promptly than the girl
whom they might justly blame for having smiled too kindly.

Thus she remained a general favorite. It was recognized that she had
a certain kind of loyalty which could be depended upon. Of course
such a girl would eventually marry, and with natural hope and
egotism each one felt that he might be the successful competitor.
At any rate, as in war, they must take their chances, and it seems
that there is never a lack of those willing to assume such risks.

Thus far, however, Marian had no inclination to give up her present
life of variety and excitement. She preferred incense from many
worshippers to the devotion of one. The secret of this was perhaps
that her heart had remained so untouched and unconscious that she
scarcely knew she had one. She understood the widower's preference,
enjoyed the compliment, and should there be occasion would, in
perfect good taste, beg to be excused.

Her pulse was a little quickened by Mr. Lane's downright earnestness,
and when matters should come to a crisis she would say lovely
things to him of her esteem, respect, regret, etc. She would wish
they might remain friends--why could they not, when she liked him
so much? As for love and engagement, she did not, could not, think
of that yet.

She was skilful, too, in deferring such crises, and to-night, in
obedience to a signal, Mrs. Vosburgh remained until even Mr. Lane
despaired of another word in private, and departed, fearing to put
his fate to the test.

At last the dainty apartment, the merry campaigning-ground, was
darkened, and Marian, flushed, wearied, and complacent, stepped
out on the piazza to breathe for a few moments the cool, fragrant
air.  She had dropped into a rustic seat, and was thinking over
the events of the evening with an amused smile, when the following
startling words arose from the adjacent shrubbery:--

"Arrah, noo, will ye niver be sinsible? Here I'm offerin' ye me
heart, me loife. I'd be glad to wourk for ye, and kape ye loike a
leddy. I'd be thrue to ye ivery day o' me loife,--an' ye knows it,
but ye jist goes on makin' eyes at this wan an' flirtin' wid that
wan an' spakin' swate to the t'other, an' kapin' all on the string
till they can nayther ate nor slape nor be half the min they were
till ye bewildered 'em. Ye're nothin' but a giddy, light-minded,
shallow crather, a spoilin' min for your own fun. I've kep' company
wid ye a year, and ye've jist blowed hot and cowld till I'm not
meself any more, and have come nigh losin' me place. Noo, by St.
Patrick, ye must show whether ye're a woman or a heartless jade
that will sind a man to the divil for sport."

These words were poured out with the impetuosity of longsuffering
endurance finally vanquished, and before the speaker had concluded
Marian was on her way to the door, that she might not listen to a
conversation of so delicate a nature. But she did not pass beyond
hearing before part of the reply reached her.

"Faix, an' I'm no wourse than me young mistress."

It was a chance arrow, but it went straight to the mark, aad when
Marian reached her room her cheeks were aflame.



CHAPTER II.

A NEW ACQUAINTANCE.



Gross matter can change form and character in a moment, when merely
touched by the effective agent. It is easy to imagine, therefore,
how readily a woman's quick mind might be influenced by a truth
or a thought of practical and direct application. All the homilies
ever written, all the counsel of matrons and sages, could not
have produced on Marian so deep an impression as was made by these
few chance words. They came as a commentary, not only on her past
life, but on the past few hours. Was it true, then, that she was no
better than the coquettish maid, the Irish servant in the family's
employ?  Was she, with her education and accomplishments, her social
position and natural gifts, acting on no higher plane, influenced
by no worthier motives and no loftier ambition? Was the ignorant
girl justified in quoting her example in extenuation of a course
that to a plain and equally ignorant man seemed unwomanly to the
last degree?

Wherein was she better? Wherein lay the difference between her and
the maid?

She covered her hot face with her hands as the question took the
form: "Wherein am I worse? Is not our principle of action the same,
while I have greater power and have been crippling higher types
of men, and giving them, for sport, an impulse towards the devil?
Fenton Lane has just gone from my side with trouble in his eyes.
He will not be himself to-morrow, not half the man he might be.
He left me in doubt and fear. Could I do anything oppressed with
doubt and fear? He has set his heart on what can never be. Could I
have prevented him from doing this? One thing at least is certain,--I
have not tried to prevent it, and I fear there have been many little
nameless things which he would regard as encouragement. And he
is only one. With others I have gone farther and they have fared
worse.  It is said that Mr. Folger, whom I refused last winter, is
becoming dissipated. Mr. Arton shuns society and sneers at women.
Oh, don't let me think of any more. What have I been doing that
this coarse kitchen-maid can run so close a parallel between her
life and mine?  How unwomanly and repulsive it all seems, as that
man put it! My delight and pride have been my gentleman friends,
and what one of them is the better, or has a better prospect for
life, because of having known me? Could there be a worse satire on
all the fine things written about woman and her influence than my
hitherto vain and complacent self?"

Sooner or later conscience tells the truth to all; and the sooner
the better, unless the soul arraigned is utterly weak, or else
belongs essentially to the criminal classes, which require almost
a miracle to reverse their evil gravitation. Marian Vosburgh
was neither weak nor criminal at heart. Thus far she had yielded
thoughtlessly, inconsiderately, rather than deliberately, to the
circumstances and traditions of her life. Her mother had been a
belle and something of a coquette, and, having had her career, was
in the main a good and sensible wife. She had given her husband
little trouble if not much help. She had slight interest in that which
made his life, and slight comprehension of it, but in affectionate
indifference she let him go his way, and was content with her domestic
affairs, her daughter, and her novel. Marian had unthinkingly looked
forward to much the same experience as her natural lot. To-night
she found herself querying: "Are there men to-day who are not half
what they might have been because of mamma's delusive smiles? Have
any gone down into shadows darker than those cast by misfortune and
death, because she permitted herself to become the light of their
lives and then turned away?"

Then came the rather painful reflection: "Mamma is not one to be
troubled by such thoughts. It does not even worry her that she is
so little to papa, and that he virtually carries on his life-work
alone. I don't see how I can continue my old life after to-night.
I had better shut myself up in a convent; yet just how I can change
everything I scarcely know."

The night proved a perturbed and almost sleepless one from the chaos
and bitterness of her thoughts. The old was breaking up; the new,
beginning.

The morning found her listless, discontented, and unhappy. The
glamour had faded out of her former life. She could not continue
the tactics practised in coarse imitation by the Irish servant, who
took her cue as far as possible from her mistress. The repugnance
was due as much to the innate delicacy and natural superiority of
Marian's nature as to her conscience. Her clear, practical sense
perceived that her course differed from the other only in being
veneered by the refinements of her social position,--that the evil
results were much greater. The young lady's friends were capable of
receiving more harm than the maid could inflict upon her acquaintances.

There would be callers again during the day and evening, and she
did not wish to see them. Their society now would be like a glass
of champagne from which the life had effervesced.

At last in her restlessness and perplexity she decided to spend a
day or two with her father in their city home, where he was camping
out, as he termed it. She took a train to town, and sent a messenger
boy to his office with a note asking him to dine with her.

Mr. Vosburgh looked at her a little inquiringly as he entered his
home, which had the comfortless aspect of a city house closed for
the summer.

"Am I de trop, papa? I have come to town for a little quiet, and
to do some shopping."

"Come to New York for quiet?"

"Yes. The country is the gayest place now, and you know a good
many are coming and going. I am tired, and thought an evening or
two with you would be a pleasant change. You are not too busy?"

"It certainly will be a change for you, Marian."

"Now there's a world of satire in that remark, and deserved, too,
I fear. Mayn't I stay?"

"Yes, indeed, till you are tired of me; and that won't be long in
this dull place, for we are scarcely in a condition now to receive
callers, you know."

"What makes you think I shall be tired of you soon, papa?"

"Oh--well--I'm not very entertaining. You appear to like variety.
I suppose it is the way with girls."

"You are not consumed with admiration for girls' ways, are you,
papa?"

"I confess, my dear, that I have not given the subject much research.
As a naturalist would say, I have no doubt that you and your class
have curious habits and interesting peculiarities. There is a
great deal of life, you know, which a busy man has to accept in a
general way, especially when charged with duties which are a severe
and constant strain upon his mind. I try to leave you and your
mother as free from care as possible. You left her well, I trust?"

"Very well, and all going on as usual. I'm dissatisfied with myself,
papa, and you unconsciously make me far more so. Is a woman to be
only a man's plaything, and a dangerous one at that?"

"Why, Marian, you ARE in a mood! I suppose a woman, like a man, can
be very much what she pleases. You certainly have had a chance to
find out what pleases most women in your circle of acquaintances,
and have made it quite clear what pleases you."

"Satire again," she said, despondently. "I thought perhaps you
could advise and help me."

He came and took her face between his hands, looking earnestly into
her troubled blue eyes.

"Are you not content to be a conventional woman?" he asked, after
a moment.

"No!" was her emphatic answer.

"Well, there are many ways of being a little outre in this age
and land, especially at this stormy period. Perhaps you want a
career,--something that will give you a larger place in the public
eye?"

She turned away to hide the tears that would come. "O papa, you
don't understand me at all, and I scarcely understand myself," she
faltered. "In some respects you are as conventional as mamma, and
are almost a Turk in your ideas of the seclusion of women. The idea
of my wanting public notoriety! As I feel now, I'd rather go to a
convent."

"We'll go to dinner first; then a short drive in the park, for you
look pale, and I long for a little fresh air myself. I have been
at my desk since seven this morning, and have had only a sandwich."

"Why do you have to work so hard, papa?"

"I can give you two reasons in a breath,--you mentioned 'shopping,'
and my country is at war. They don't seem very near of kin, do
they?  Documents relating to both converge in my desk, however."

"Have I sent you more bills than usual?"

"Not more than usual."

"I believe I'm a fool."

"I know you are a very pretty little girl, who will feel better
after dinner and a drive," was the laughing reply.

They were soon seated in a quiet family restaurant, but the young
girl was too perturbed in mind to enjoy the few courses ordered.
With self-reproach she recognized the truth that she was engaged
in the rather unusual occupation of becoming acquainted with
her father. He sat before her, with his face, generally stern and
inscrutable, softened by a desire to be companionable and sympathetic.
According to his belief she now had "a mood," and after a day or
two of quiet retirement from the world she would relapse into her
old enjoyment of social attention, which would be all the deeper
for its brief interruption.

Mr. Vosburgh was of German descent. In his daily life he had become
Americanized, and was as practical in his methods as the shrewd
people with whom he dealt, and whom he often outwitted. Apart
from this habit of coping with life just as he found it, he had an
inner nature of which few ever caught a glimpse,--a spirit and an
imagination deeply tinged with German ideality and speculation.
Often, when others slept, this man, who appeared so resolute,
hard, and uncompromising in the performance of duties, and who was
understood by but few, would read deeply in metaphysics and romantic
poetry. Therefore, the men and women who dwelt in his imagination
were not such as he had much to do with in real life. Indeed, he had
come to regard the world of reality and that of fancy as entirely
distinct, and to believe that only here and there, as a man or woman
possessed something like genius, would there be a marked deviation
from ordinary types. The slight differences, the little characteristic
meannesses or felicities that distinguished one from another, did
not count for very much in his estimation. When a knowledge of
such individual traits was essential to his plans, he mastered them
with singular keenness and quickness of comprehension.  When such
knowledge was unnecessary, or as soon as it ceased to be of service,
he dismissed the extraneous personalities from his mind almost
as completely as if they had had no existence. Few men were less
embarrassed with acquaintances than he; yet he had an observant
eye and a retentive memory. When he wanted a man he rarely failed
to find the right one. In the selection and use of men he appeared
to act like an intelligent and silent force, rather than as a man
full of human interests and sympathies. He rarely spoke of himself,
even in the most casual way. Most of those with whom he mingled
knew merely that he was an agent of the government, and that he
kept his own counsel. His wife was to him a type of the average
American woman,--pretty, self-complacent, so nervous as to require
kind, even treatment, content with feminalities, and sufficiently
intelligent to talk well upon every-day affairs. In her society he
smiled at her, said "Yes," good-humoredly, to almost everything,
and found slight incentive to depart from his usual reticence. She
had learned the limits of her range, and knew that within it there
was entire liberty, beyond it a will like adamant. They got on admirably
together, for she craved nothing further in the way of liberty and
companionship than was accorded her, while he soon recognized that
the prize carried off from other competitors could no more follow
him into his realm of thought and action than she could accompany
him on a campaign. At last he had concluded philosophically that
it was just as well. He was engaged in matters that should not be
interfered with or babbled about, and he could come and go without
questioning. He had occasionally thought: "If she were such a woman
as I have read of and imagined,--if she could supplement my reason
with the subtilty of intuition and the reticence which some of her
sex have manifested,--she would double my power and share my inner
life, for there are few whom I can trust. The thing is impossible,
however, and so I am glad she is content."

As for Marian, she had promised, in his view, to be but a charming
repetition of her mother, with perhaps a mind of larger calibre.
She had learned more and had acquired more accomplishments, but all
this resulted, possibly, from her better advantages. Her drawing-room
conversation seemed little more than the ordinary small talk of the
day, fluent and piquant, while the girl herself was as undisturbed
by the vital questions of the hour and of life, upon which he dwelt,
as if she had been a child. He knew that she received much attention,
but it excited little thought on his part, and no surprise.
He believed that her mother was perfectly competent to look after
the proprieties, and that young fellows, as had been the case with
himself, would always seek pretty, well-bred girls, and take their
chances as to what the women who might become their wives should
prove to be.

Marian looked with awakening curiosity and interest at the face
before her, yet it was the familiar visage of her father. She had
seen it all her life, but now felt that she had never before seen
it in its true significance--its strong lines, square jaw, and
quiet gray eyes, with their direct, steady gaze. He had come and
gone before her daily, petted her now and then a little, met her
requests in the main good-humoredly, paid her bills, and would
protect her with his life; yet a sort of dull wonder came over her
as she admitted to herself that he was a stranger to her. She knew
little of his work and duty, less of his thoughts, the mental realm
in which the man himself dwelt. What were its landmarks, what its
characteristic features, she could not tell. One may be familiar
with the outlines of a country on a map, yet be ignorant of the
scenery, productions, inhabitants, governing forces, and principles.
Her very father was to her but a man in outline. She knew little of
the thoughts that peopled his brain, of the motives and principles
that controlled his existence, giving it individuality, and even
less of the resulting action with which his busy life abounded.
Although she had crossed the threshold of womanhood, she was still
to him the self-pleasing child that he had provided for since
infancy; and he was, in her view, the man to whom, according to the
law of nature and the family, she was to look for the maintenance
of her young life, with its almost entire separation in thoughts,
pleasures, and interests. She loved him, of course. She had always
loved him, from the time when she had stretched forth her baby hands
to be taken and fondled for a few moments and then relinquished to
others. Practically she had dwelt with others ever since. Now, as
a result, she did not understand him, nor he her. She would miss
him as she would oxygen from the air. Now she began to perceive
that, although he was the unobtrusive source of her life, home,
education, and the advantages of her lot, he was not impersonal,
but a human being as truly as herself. Did he want more from her
than the common and instinctive affection of a child for its parent?
If to this she added intelligent love, appreciation, and sympathy,
would he care?  If she should be able to say, "Papa, I am kin to you,
not merely in flesh and blood, but in mind, hope, and aspiration;
I share with you that which makes your life, with its success and
failure, not as the child who may find luxurious externals curtailed
or increased, but as a sympathetic woman who understands the more
vital changes in spiritual vicissitude,"--if she could truthfully
say all this, would he be pleased and reveal himself to her?

Thoughts like these passed through her mind as they dined together
and drove in the park. When at last they returned and sat in the
dimly-lighted parlor, Mr. Vosburgh recognized that her "mood" had
not passed away.



CHAPTER III.

A NEW FRIEND.



"MARIAN," asked her father, after smoking awhile in silence, "what
did you mean by your emphatic negative when I asked you if you were
not content to be a conventional woman? How much do you mean?"

"I wish you would help me find out, papa."

"How! don't you know?"

"I do not; I am all at sea."

"Well, my dear, to borrow your own illustration, you can't be far
from shore yet. Why not return? You have seemed entirely satisfied
thus far."

"Were you content with me, papa?"

"I think you have been a very good little girl, as girls go."

"'Good little girl, as girls go;' that's all."

"That's more than can be said of many."

"Papa, I'm not a little girl; I am a woman of twenty years."

"Yes, I know; and quite as sensible as many at forty."

"I am no companion for you."

"Indeed you are; I've enjoyed having you with me this evening
exceedingly."

"Yes, as you would have enjoyed my society ten years ago. I've been
but a little girl to you all the time. Do you know the thought that
has been uppermost in my mind since you joined me?"

"How should I? How long does one thought remain uppermost in a
girl's mind?"

"I don't blame you for your estimate. My thought is this,--we are
not acquainted with each other."

"I think I was acquainted with you, Marian, before this mood began."

"Yes, I think you were; yet I was capable of this 'mood,' as you
call it, before."

"My child," said Mr. Vosburgh, coming to her side and stroking her
hair, "I have spoken more to draw you out than for anything else.
Heaven forbid that you for a moment should think me indifferent to
anything that relates to your welfare! You wish me to advise, to
help you. Before I can do this I must have your confidence, I must
know your thoughts and impulses. You can scarcely have a purpose
yet. Even a quack doctor will not attempt diagnosis or prescribe
his nostrum without some knowledge of the symptoms. When I last
saw you in the country you certainly appeared like a conventional
society girl of an attractive type, and were evidently satisfied
so to remain. You see I speak frankly, and reveal to you my habit
of making quick practical estimates, and of taking the world as I
find it. You say you were capable of this mood--let us call it an
aspiration--before. I do not deny this, yet doubt it. When people
change it is because they are ripe, or ready for change, as
are things in nature. One can force or retard nature; but I don't
believe much in intervention. With many I doubt whether there is
even much opportunity for it. They are capable of only the gradual
modification of time and circumstances. Young people are apt to
have spasms of enthusiasm, or of self-reproach and dissatisfaction.
These are of little account in the long run, unless there is fibre
enough in character to face certain questions, decide them, and
then act resolutely on definite lines of conduct. I have now given
you my views, not as to a little child, but as to a mature woman
of twenty.  Jesting apart, you ARE old enough, Marian, to think
for yourself, and decide whether you will be conventional or not.
The probabilities are that you will follow the traditions of your
past in a very ladylike way. That is the common law. You are too
well-bred and refined to do anything that society would condemn."

"You are not encouraging, papa."

"Nor am I discouraging. If you have within you the force to break
from your traditions and stop drifting, you will make the fact
evident. If you haven't it would be useless for me to attempt
to drag, drive, or coax you out of old ways. I am too busy a man
to attempt the useless. But until you tell me your present mental
attitude, and what has led to it, we are talking somewhat at random.
I have merely aimed to give you the benefit of some experience."

"Perhaps you are taking the right course; I rather think you are.
Perhaps I prove what a child I am still, because I feel that I
should like to have you treat me more as you did when I was learning
to walk. Then you stretched out your hands, and sustained me, and
showed me step by step. Papa, if this is a mood, and I go back
to my old, shallow life, with its motives, its petty and unworthy
triumphs, I shall despise myself, and ever have the humiliating
consciousness that I am doing what is contemptible. No matter how
one obtains the knowledge of a truth or a secret, that knowledge
exists, remains, and one can't be the same afterwards. It makes my
cheeks tingle that I obtained my knowledge as I did. It came like
a broad glare of garish light, in which I saw myself;" and she told
him the circumstances.

He burst into a hearty laugh, and remarked, "Pat did put the ethics
of the thing strongly."

"He made 'the thing,' as you call it, odious then and forever. I've
been writhing in self-contempt ever since. When to be conventional
is to be like a kitchen-maid, and worse, do you wonder at my revolt
from the past?"

"Others won't see it in that light, my dear."

"What does it matter how others see it? I have my own life to live,
to make or mar. How can I go on hereafter amusing myself in what
now seems a vulgar, base, unwomanly way? It was a coarse, rude
hand that awakened me, papa, but I am awake. Since I have met you
I have had another humiliation. As I said, I am not even acquainted
with you. I have never shown any genuine interest in that which
makes your life, and you have no more thought of revealing yourself
and your work to me than to a child."

"Marian," said her father, slowly, "I think you are not only capable
of a change, but ripe for it. You inspire hope within me, and this
fact carries with it the assurance that you also inspire respect.
No, my dear, you don't know much about me; very few do. No man
with a nature like mine reveals himself where there is no desire
for the knowledge, no understanding, no sympathy, or even where
all these exist, unless prompted by his heart. You know I am the
last one in the world to put myself on exhibition. But it would
be a heavenly joy to me--I might add surprise--if my own daughter
became like some of the women of whom I have read and dreamed; and
I do read and dream of that in which you little imagine me to be
interested. To the world I am a stern, reticent, practical man I must
be such in my calling. In my home I have tried to be good-natured,
affectionate, and philosophical. I have seen little opportunity for
anything more.  I do not complain, but merely state a fact which
indicates the general lot. We can rarely escape the law of heredity,
however. A poet and a metaphysician were among our German ancestry;
therefore, leading from the business-like and matter-of-fact apartment
of my mind, I have a private door by which I can slip away into
the realm of speculation, romance, and ideals. You perceive that
I have no unnatural or shame-faced reticence about this habit. I
tell you of it the moment you show sufficient interest to warrant
my speaking."

"But, papa, I cannot hope to approach or even suggest the ideals
of your fancy, dressed, no doubt, in mediaeval costume, and talking
in blank verse."

"That's a superficial view, Marian. Neither poetic or outlandish
costume, nor the impossible language put into the mouths of their
creations by the old bards, makes the unconventional woman. There
is, in truth, a conventionality about these very things, only it
is antiquated. It is not a woman's dress or phraseology that makes
her an ideal or an inspiration, but what she is herself. No two
leaves are alike on the same tree, but they are all enough alike
to make but one impression. Some are more shapely than others,
and flutter from their support with a fairer and more conspicuous
grace to the closely observant; but there is nothing independent
about them, nothing to distinguish them especially from their
companions. They fulfil their general purpose, and fall away. This
simile applies to the majority of people. Not only poetry and romance,
but history also, gives us instances wherein men and women differ
and break away from accepted types, some in absurd or grotesque
ways, others through the sheer force of gifted selfishness, and
others still in natural, noble development of graces of heart and
mind."

"Stop generalizing, and tell me, your silly, vain, flirtatious
daughter, how I can be unconventional in this prosaic midday of
civilization."

"Prosaic day? You are mistaken, Marian. There never was a period
like it Barbaric principles, older than Abraham, are now to triumph,
or give place to a better and more enlightened human nature. We
almost at this moment hear the echoes of a strife in which specimens
of the best manhood of the age are arrayed against one another in
a struggle such as the world has never witnessed. I have my part
in the conflict, and it brings to me great responsibilities and
dangers."

"Dangers! You in danger, papa?"

"Yes, certainly. Since you wish to be treated like a woman, and not
a child,--since you wish me to show my real life,--you shall know
the truth. I am controlled by the government that is engaged in a
life-and-death struggle to maintain its own existence and preserve
for the nation its heritage of liberty. Thus far I have been able
to serve the cause in quiet, unrecognized ways that I need not now
explain; but I am one who must obey orders, and I wish to do so,
for my heart is in the work. I am no better than other men who
are risking all. Mamma knows this in a way, but she does not fully
comprehend it. Fortunately she is not one of those who take very
anxious thought for the morrow, and you know I am inclined to let
things go on quietly as long as they will. Thus far I have merely
gone to an office as I did before the war, or else have been absent
on trips that were apparently civilian in character, and it has
been essential that I should have as little distraction of mind
as possible. I have lived long in hope that some decisive victory
might occur; but the future grows darker, instead of lighter, and
the struggle, instead of culminating speedily, promises to become
more deadly and to be prolonged. There is but one way out of
it for me, and that is through the final triumph of the old flag.
Therefore, what a day will bring forth God only knows. There have
been times when I wished to tell you something of this, but there
seemed little opportunity. As you said, a good many were coming and
going, you seemed happy and preoccupied, and I got into the habit
of reasoning, 'Every day that passes without a thought of trouble
is just so much gained; and it may be unnecessary to cloud her life
with fear and anxiety;' yet perhaps it would be mistaken kindness
to let trouble come suddenly, like an unexpected blow. I confess,
however, that I have had a little natural longing to be more to my
only child than I apparently was, but each day brought its increasing
press of work and responsibility, its perplexing and far-reaching
questions. Thus time has passed, and I said, 'Let her be a
light-hearted girl as long as she can.'"

"O papa, what a blind, heartless fool I've been!"

"No, my dear, only young and thoughtless, like thousands of
others.  It so happened that nothing occurred to awaken you. One
day of your old life begat another. That so slight a thing should
make you think, and desire to be different, promises much to me,
for if your nature had been shallow and commonplace, you wouldn't
have been much disturbed. If you have the spirit your words indicate
to-night, it will be better for you to face life in the height and
depth of its reality, trusting in God and your own womanhood for
strength to meet whatever comes. Those who live on this higher
plane have deeper sorrows, but also far richer joys, than those who
exist from hand to mouth, as it were, in the immediate and material
present. What's more, they cease to be plebeian in the meaner sense
of the word, and achieve at one step a higher caste. They have broken
the conventional type, and all the possibilities of development
open at once. You are still a young, inexperienced girl, and have
done little in life except learn your lessons and amuse yourself,
yet in your dissatisfaction and aspiration you are almost infinitely
removed from what you were yesterday, for you have attained the
power to grow and develop."

"You are too philosophical for me. How shall I grow or develop?"

"I scarcely know."

"What definite thing shall I do to-morrow?"

"Do what the plant does. Receive the influence that tends to quicken
your best impulses and purposes; follow your awakened conscience
naturally. Do what seems to you womanly, right, noble in little things
or in great things, should there be opportunity. Did Shakespeare,
as a child, propose to write the plays which have made him chief
among men? He merely yielded to the impulse when it came.  The law
holds good down to you, my little girl. You have an impulse which
is akin to that of genius. Instead of continuing your old indolent,
strolling gait on the dead level of life, you have left the beaten
track and faced the mountain of achievement. Every resolute step
forward takes you higher, even though it be but an inch; yet I
cannot see the path by which you will climb, or tell you the height
you may gain. The main thing is the purpose to ascend.  For ihose
bent on noble achievement there is always a path. God only knows
to what it may bring you. One step leads to another, and you will
be guided better by the instincts and laws of your own nature than
if I tried to lead you step by step. The best I can do is to give
you a little counsel, and a helping hand now and then, as the
occasion requires."

"Now in truth, papa, do not all your fine words signify about what
you and mamma used to say years ago,--'You must be a good little
girl, and then you will be happy'? It seems to me that many good
people are conventionality itself."

"Many are, and if they ARE good, it is a fortunate phase of
conventionality. For instance, I know of a man who by the law of
heredity and the force of circumstances has scarcely a bad habit
or trait, and has many good ones. He meets the duties of life in
an ordinary, satisfactory way, and with little effort on his part I
know of another man who externally presents nearly the same aspect
to society, who is quiet and unobtrusive in his daily life, and
yet he is fighting hereditary taint and habit with a daily heroism,
such as no soldier in the war can surpass. He is not conventional,
although he appears to be so. He is a knight who is not afraid to
face demons. Genuine strength and originality of character do not
consist in saying or doing things in an unusual way. Voluntary
eccentrics are even worse than the imitators of some model or the
careless souls which take their coloring from chance surroundings.
Conventionality ceases when a human being begins the resolute
development of his own natural law of growth to the utmost extent.
This is true because nature in her higher work is not stereotyped.
I will now be as definite as you can desire. You, for instance,
Marian Vosburgh, are as yet, even to yourself, an unknown quantity.
You scarcely know what you are, much less what you may become. This
conversation, and the feeling which led to it, prove this. There
are traits and possibilities in your nature due to ancestors of
whom you have not even heard. These combine with your own individual
endowments by nature to make you a separate and distinct being, and
you grow more separate and distinct by developing nature's gifts,
traits, powers,--in brief, that which is essentially your own. Thus
nature becomes your ally and sees to it with absolute certainty that
you are not like other people. Following this principle of action
you cannot know, nor can any one know, to just what you may attain.
All true growth is from within, outward. In the tree, natural law
prevents distortion or exaggeration of one part over another. In
your case reason, conscience, good taste, must supervise and direct
natural impulses. Thus following nature you become natural, and
cease to be conventional. If you don't do this you will be either
conventional or queer. Do you understand me?"

"I think I begin to. Let me see if I do. Let me apply your words to
one definite problem,--How can I be more helpful and companionable
to you?"

"Why, Marian, do you not see how infinitely more to me you are
already, although scarcely beyond the wish to be different from
what you were? I have talked to you as a man talks to a woman in the
dearest and most unselfish relation of life. There is one thing,
however, you never can know, and that is a father's love for a
daughter: it is essentially a man's love and a man's experience. I
am sure it is very different from the affection I should have for
a son, did I possess one. Ever since you were a baby the phrase,
'my little girl,' has meant more than you can ever know; and now
when you come voluntarily to my side in genuine sympathy, and seek
to enter INTELLIGENTLY into that which makes my life, you change
everything for the better, precisely as that which was in cold,
gray shadow before is changed by sunlight. You add just so much by
your young, fresh, womanly life to my life, and it is all the more
welcome because it is womanly and different from mine. You cease
to be a child, a dependant to be provided for, and become a friend,
an inspiration, a confidante. These relations may count little to
heavy, stolid, selfish men, to whom eating, drinking, excitement,
and money-making are the chief considerations, but to men of mind
and ideals, especially to a man who has devoted, his heart, brain,
and life to a cause upon which the future of a nation depends, they
are pre-eminent. You see I am a German at heart, and must have my
world of thought and imagination, as well as the world in which men
look at me with cold, hard, and even hostile eyes. Thus far this
ideal world has been peopled chiefly by the shadows of those who
have lived in the past or by the characters of the great creators
in poetry. Now if my blue-eyed daughter can prove to me that she
has too much heart and brain to be an ordinary society-girl like
half a million of others, and will share my interest in the great
thoughts and achievements of the past and the greater questions
of to-day,--if she can prove that when I have time I may enjoy a
tryst with her in regions far remote from shallow, coarse, commonplace
minds,--is not my whole life enriched? We can read some of my
favorite authors together and trace their influence on the thought
of the world. We can take up history and see how to-day's struggle
is the result of the past. I think I could soon give you an
intelligent idea of the questions of the time, for which men are
hourly dying. The line of battle stretches across the continent,
and so many are engaged that every few moments a man, and too often
a woman from heart-break, dies that the beloved cause may triumph.
Southern girls and women, as a rule, are far more awake to the events
of the time than their sisters in the North. Such an influence on
the struggle can scarcely be over-estimated. They create a public
sentiment that drives even the cowardly into the ranks, and their
words and enthusiasm incite brave young men to even chivalric courage.
It is true that there are very many like them in the North, but
there are also very many who restrain the men over whom they have
influence,--who are indifferent, as you have been, or in sympathy
with the South,--or who, as is true in most instances, do not yet
see the necessity for self-sacrifice. We have not truly felt the
war yet, but it will sooner or later come home to every one who has
a heart. I have been in the South, and have studied the spirit of
the people. They are just as sincere and conscientious as we are,
and more in earnest as yet. Christian love and faith, there, look
to Heaven for sanction with absolute sincerity, and mothers send
their sons, girls their lovers, and wives their husbands, to die
if need be. For the political conspirators who have thought first
and always of their ambition I have only detestation, but for the
people of the South--for the man I may meet in the ranks and kill
if I can--I have profound respect. I should know he was wrong, I
should be equally sure that he believed himself right.

"Look at the clock, my dear, and see how long I have talked to
you.  Can you now doubt that you will be companionable to me? Men
down town think I am hard as a rock, but your touch of sympathy
has been as potent as the stroke of Moses' rod. You have had an
inundation of words, and the future is rosy to me with hope because
you are not asleep."

"Have I shown lack of interest, papa?"

"No, Marian, your intent eyes have been eloquent with feeling.
Therefore I have spoken so long and fully. You have, as it were,
drawn the words from me. You have made this outpouring of my heart
seem as natural as breathing, for when you look as you do to-night,
I can almost think aloud to you. You have a sympathetic face, my
child, and when expressing intelligent sympathy it grows beautiful.
It was only pretty before. Prettiness is merely a thing of outline
and color; beauty comes from the soul."

She came and stood at his side, resting her arm lightly on his
shoulder.

"Papa," she said, "your words are a revelation to me. Your world
is indeed a new one, and a better one than mine. But I must cease
to be a girl, and become a woman, to enter it."

"You need not be less happy; you do not loset anything. A picture
is ever finer for shadows and depth of perspective. You can't get
anything very fine, in either art or life, from mere bright surface
glare."

"I can't go back to that any more; something in my very soul tells
me that I cannot; and your loneliness and danger would render even
the wish to do so base. No, I feel now that I would rather be
a woman, even though it involves a crown of thorns, than to be a
shallow creature that my own heart would despise. I may never be
either wise or deep, but I shall be to you all I can."

"You do very much for me in those words alone, my darling. As
I said before, no one can tell what you may become if you develop
your own nature naturally."



CHAPTER IV.

WOMAN'S CHIEF RIGHT.



It was late when Marian and her father parted, and each felt that a
new era had begun in their lives. To the former it was like a deep
religious experience. She was awed and somewhat depressed, as well
as resolute and earnest. Life was no pleasure excursion to her
father. Questions involving the solemnity of danger, possibly death,
occupied his mind. Yet it was not of either that he thought, but
of the questions themselves. She saw that he was a large-hearted,
large-brained man, who entered into the best spirit of his age,
and found recreation in the best thought of the past, and she felt
that she was still but a little child beside him.

"But I shall no longer be a silly child or a shallow, selfish,
unfeeling girl. I know there is something better in my nature than
this. Papa's words confirm what I have read but never thought of
much: the chief need of men who can do much or who amount to much
is the intelligent sympathy of women who understand and care for
them.  Why, it was the inspiration of chivalry, even in the dark
ages.  Well, Marian Vosburgh, if you can't excel a kitchen-maid,
it would be better that you had never lived."

The sun was shining brightly when she wakened on the following
morning, and when she came to breakfast their domestic handed her
a note from her father, by which she was informed that he would
dine with her earlier than usual, and that they would take a sail
down the bay.

Brief as it was, it breathed an almost lover-like fondness and
happiness. She enjoyed her first exultant thrill at her sense of
power as she comprehended that he had gone to his work that day a
stronger and more hopeful man.

She went out to do her shopping, and was soon in a Broadway temple
of fashion, but found that she was no longer a worshipper. A week
before the beautiful fabrics would have absorbed her mind and awakened
intense desires, for she had a passion for dress, and few knew how
to make more of it than she. But a new and stronger passion was
awakening. She was made to feel at last that she had not only a
woman's lovely form and features, but a woman's mind. Now she began
to dream of triumphs through the latter, and her growing thought was
how to achieve them. Not that she was indifferent to her costume;
it should be like the soldier's accoutrements; her mind the weapon.

As is common with the young to whom any great impulse or new, deep
experience comes, she was absorbed by it, and could think of little
else. She went over her father's words again and again, dwelling on
the last utterance, which had contained the truth uppermost in all
that he had said,--"Develop the best in your own nature naturally."

What was her own nature, her starting-point? Her introspection
was not very reassuring. She felt that perhaps the most hopeful
indication was her strong rebound from what she at last recognized
as mean and unworthy. She also had a little natural curiosity and
vanity to see if her face was changing with changing motives. Was
there such a difference between prettiness and beauty? She was
perfectly sure she would rather be beautiful than pretty.

Her mirror revealed a perplexed young face, suggesting
interrogation-points. The day was ending as it had begun, with a
dissatisfaction as to the past, amounting almost to disgust, and
with fears, queries, and uncertainties concerning the future. How
should she take up life again? How should she go on with it?

More importunate still was the question, "What has the future in
store for me and for those I love? Papa spoke of danger; and when
I think of his resolute face, I know that nothing in the line of
duty will daunt him. He said that it might not be kindness to leave
me in my old, blind, unthinking ignorance,--that a blow, shattering
everything, might come, finding us all unprepared. Oh, why don't
mamma feel and see more? We have been just like comfortable passengers
on a ship, while papa was facing we knew not what. I may not be
of much use, but I feel now as if I wanted to be with him. To stay
below with scarcely any other motive than to have a good time, and
then to be paralyzed, helpless, when some shock of trouble comes,
now seems silly and weak to the last degree. I am only too glad
that I came to my senses in time, for if anything should happen to
papa, and I had to remember all my days that I had never been much
to him, and had left him to meet the stress of life and danger
alone, I am sure I should be wretched from self-reproach."

When he came at six o'clock, she met him eagerly, and almost her
first words were, "Papa, there hasn't been any danger to-day?"

"Oh, no; none at all; only humdrum work. You must not anticipate
trouble. Soldiers, you know, jest and laugh even when going into
battle, and they are all the better soldiers for the fact. No; I
have given you a wrong impression. Nothing has been humdrum to-day.
An acquaintance down town said: 'What's up, Vosburgh? Heard good
news? Have our troops scored a point?' You see I was so brightened
up that he thought nothing but a national victory could account for
the improvement. Men are like armies, and are twice as effective
when well supported."

"The idea of my supporting you!"

"To me it's a charming idea. Instead of coming back to a dismal,
empty house, I find a blue-eyed lassie who will go with me to
dinner, and add sauce piquante to every dish. Come, I am not such
a dull, grave old fellow as you imagine. You shall see how gallant
I can become under provocation. We must make the most of a couple
of hours, for that is all that I can give you. No sail to-night, as
I had planned, for a government agent is coming on from Washington
to see me, and I must be absent for at least an hour or two after
eight o'clock. You won't mope, will you? You have something to
read? Has the day been very long and lonely? What have you been
doing and thinking about?"

"When are you going to give me a chance to answer?"

"Oh, I read your answer, partly at least, in your eyes. You can
amplify later. Come, get ready for the street. Put on what you
please, so that you wear a smile. These are not times to worry over
slight reverses as long as the vital points are safe."

The hour they passed at dinner gave Marian a new revelation of
her father. The quiet man proved true the words of Emerson, "Among
those who enjoy his thought, he will regain his tongue."

At first he drew her out a little, and with his keen, quick insight
he understood her perplexity, her solicitude about him and herself
and the future, her resolute purpose to be a woman, and the
difficulties of seeing the way to the changes she desired. Instead
of replying directly to her words, he skilfully led their talk to
the events of the day, and contemporaneous history became romance
under his version; the actors in the passing drama ceased to be
names and officials, and were invested with human interest. She
was made to see their motives, their hopes, fears, ambitions; she
opened her eyes in surprise at his knowledge of prominent people,
their social status, relations, and family connection. A genial
light of human interest played over most of his words, yet now and
then they touched on the depths of tragedy; again he seemed to be
indulging in sublimated gossip, and she saw the men and women who
posed before the public in their high stations revealed in their
actual daily life.

She became so interested that at times she left her food untasted.
"How can you know all this?" she exclaimed.

"It is my business to know a great deal," he replied. "Then natural
curiosity leads me to learn more. The people of whom I have spoken
are the animated pieces on the chess-board. In the tremendous game
that we are playing, success depends largely on their strength,
weakness, various traits,--in brief, their character. The stake
that I have in the game leads me to know and watch those who are
exerting a positive influence. It is interesting to study the men
and women who, in any period, made and shaped history, and to learn
the secrets of their success and failure. Is it not natural that
men and women who are making history to-day--who in fact are shaping
one's own history--should be objects of stronger attention? Now, as
in the past, women exert a far greater influence on current events
than you would imagine. There are but few thrones of power behind
which you will not find a woman. What I shall do or be during the
coming weeks and months depends upon some of the people I have
sketched, free-handed, for you alone. You see the sphinx--for as
such I am regarded by many--opens his mouth freely to you. Can you
guess some of my motives for this kind of talk?"

"You have wanted to entertain me, papa, and you have succeeded.
You should write romances, for you but touch the names one sees in
the papers and they become dramatic actors."

"I did want to entertain you and make a fair return for your
society; I wish to prove that I can be your companion as truly as
you can become mine; but I have aimed to do more. I wish you to
realize how interesting the larger and higher world of activity is.
Do not imagine that in becoming a woman, earnest and thoughtful,
you are entering on an era of solemn platitudes. You are rather
passing from a theatre of light comedy to a stage from which
Shakespeare borrowed the whole gamut of human feeling, passion,
and experience.  I also wished to satisfy you that you have mind
enough to become absorbed as soon as you begin to understand the
significance of the play. After you have once become an intelligent
spectator of real life you can no more go back to drawing-room
chit-chat, gossip, and flirtation than you can lay down Shakespeare's
'Tempest' for a weak little parlor comedy. I am too shrewd a man,
Marian, to try to disengage you from the past by exhortations and
homilies; and now that you have become my friend, I shall be too
sincere with you to disguise my purposes or methods. I propose to
co-operate frankly with you in your effort, for in this way I prove
my faith in you and my respect for you. Soon you will find yourself
an actor in real life, as well as a spectator."

"I fear I have been one already,--a sorry one, too. It is possible
to do mischief without being very intelligent or deliberate. You
are making my future, so far as you are concerned, clearer than
I imagined it could be. You do interest me deeply. In one evening
you make it evident how much I have lost in neglecting you--for I
have neglected you, though not intentionally. Hereafter I shall be
only too proud if you will talk to me as you have done, giving me
glimpses of your thoughts, your work, and especially your dangers,
where there are any. Never deceive me in this respect, or leave
me in ignorance. Whatever may be the weaknesses of my nature, now
that I have waked up, I am too proud a girl to receive all that I
do from your hands and then give almost my whole life and thought
to others.  I shall be too delighted if you are happier for my
meddling and dropping down upon you. I'll keep your secrets too,
you see;" and she confirmed her words by an emphatic little nod.
"You can talk to me about people, big and little, with whom you
have to do, just as serenely as if you were giving your confidence
to an oyster.

"But, papa, I am confronted by a question of real life, just as
difficult for me as any that can perplex you. I can't treat this
question any more as I have done. I don't see my way at all. Now
I am going to be as direct and straightforward as a man, and not
beat around the bush with any womanish finesse. There is a gentleman
in this city who, if he knew I was in town to-night, would call, and
I might not be able to prevent him from making a formal proposal.
He is a man whom I respect and like very much, and I fear I have
been too encouraging,--not intentionally and deliberately you know,
but thoughtlessly. He was the cleverest and the most entertaining
of my friends, and always brought a breezy kind of excitement with
him.  Don't you see, papa? That is what I lived for, pleasure and
excitement, and I don't believe that anything can be so exciting
to a girl as to see a man yielding to her fascinations, whatever
they may be. It gives one a delicious sense of power. I shall be
frank, too. I must be, for I want your advice. You men like power.
History is full of the records of those who sold their own souls
for it, and walked through blood and crime to reach it. I think it
is just as natural for a woman to love power also, only now I see
that it is a cruel and vile thing to get it and use it merely for
amusement. To me it was excitement. I don't like to think how it
may all end to a man like Fenton Lane, and I am so remorseful that
I am half inclined to sacrifice myself and make him as good a wife
as I can."

"Do you love him?"

"No. I don't think I know what love is. When a mere girl I had a
foolish little flame that went out with the first breath of ridicule.
Since that time I have enjoyed gentlemen's society as naturally
as any other girl of our set, perhaps more keenly. Their talk and
ways are so different from those of girls! Then my love of power
came in, you see. The other girls were always talking about their
friends and followers, and it was my pride to surpass them all. I
liked one better than another, of course, but was always as ready
for a new conquest as that old fool, 'Alexander the Little,'
who ran over the world and especially himself. What do you think,
papa? Shall I ever see one who will make all the others appear as
nothing? Or, would it be nobler to devote myself to a true, fine
man, like Mr. Lane, no matter how I felt?"

"God forbid! You had better stay at your mother's side till you
are as old and wrinkled as Time himself."

"I am honestly glad to hear you say so. But what am I to do? Sooner
or later I shall have to refuse Mr. Lane, and others too."

"Refuse them, then. He would be less than a man who would ask a
girl to sacrifice herself for him. No, my dear, the most inalienable
right of your womanhood is to love freely and give yourself where
you love. This right is one of the issues of this war,--that the
poorest woman in this land may choose her own mate. Slavery is the
corner-stone of the Confederacy, wherein millions of women can be
given according to the will of masters. Should the South triumph,
phases of the Old-World despotism would creep in with certainly,
and in the end we should have alliances, not marriages, as is the
case so generally abroad. Now if a white American girl does not
make her own choice she is a weak fool. The law and public sentiment
protect her. If she will not choose wisely, she must suffer the
consequences, and only under the impulse of love can a true choice
be made. A girl must be sadly deficient in sense if she loves a weak,
bad, disreputable man, or a vulgar, ignorant one. Such mesalliances
are more in seeming than in reality, for the girl herself is usually
near in nature to what she chooses. There are few things that I
would more earnestly guard you against than a loveless marriage.
You would probably miss the sweetest happiness of life, and you
would scarcely escape one of its worst miseries."

"That settles it, then. I am going to choose for myself,--to stay
with you and mamma, and to continue sending you my bills indefinitely."

"They will be love letters, now."

"Very dear ones, you will think sometimes. But truly, papa, you must
not let me spend more than you can afford. You should be frank on
this point also, when you know I do not wish to be inconsiderate.
The question still remains, What am I to do with Mr. Lane?"

"Now I shall throw you on your own resources. I believe your woman's
tact can manage this question better than my reason; only, if you
don't love him and do not think you can, be sure to refuse him.
I have nothing against Mr. Lane, and approve of what I know about
him; but I am not eager to have a rival, or to lose what I have
so recently gained. Nevertheless, I know that when the true knight
comes through the wood, my sleeping beauty will have another
awakening, compared with which this one will seem slight indeed.
Then, as a matter of course, I will quietly take my place as 'second
fiddle' in the harmony of your life. But no discordant first fiddle,
if you please; and love alone can attune its strings. My time is
up, and, if I don't return early, go to bed, so that mamma may not
say you are the worse for your days in town. This visit has made
me wish for many others."

"You shall have them, for, as Shakespeare says, your wish 'jumps'
with mine."



CHAPTER V.

"BE HOPEFUL, THAT I MAY HOPE."



LEFT to herself Marian soon threw down the book she tried to read,
and thought grew busy with her father's later words. Was there then
a knight--a man--somewhere in the world, so unknown to her that
she would pass him in the street without the slightest premonition
that he was the arbiter of her destiny? Was there some one, to
whom imagination could scarcely give shadowy outline, so real and
strong that he could look a new life into her soul, set all her
nerves tingling, and her blood coursing in mad torrents through
her veins?  Was there a stranger, whom now she would sweep with a
casual glance, who still had the power to subdue her proud maidenhood,
overcome the reserve which seemed to reach as high as heaven, and
lay a gentle yet resistless grasp, not only on her sacred form, but
on her very soul? Even the thought made her tremble with a vague
yet delicious dread. Then she sprung to her feet and threw back her
head proudly as she uttered aloud the words, "If this can ever be
true, my power shall be equal to his."

A moment later she was evoking half-exultant chords from the piano.
These soon grew low and dreamy, and the girl said softly to herself:
"I have lived more in two days than in months of the past. Truly
real life is better than a sham, shallow existence."

The door-bell rang, and she started to her feet. "Who can know I
am in town?" she queried.

Fenton Lane entered with extended hand and the words: "I was passing
and knew I could not be mistaken in your touch. Your presence was
revealed by the music as unmistakably as if I had met you on the
street. Am I an intruder? Please don't order me away under an hour
or two."

"Indeed, Mr. Lane, truth compels me to say that I am here in deep
retirement. I have been contemplating a convent."

"May I ask your motive?"

"To repent of my sins."

"You would have to confess at a convent. Why not imagine me a
venerable father, dozing after a good dinner, and make your first
essay at the confessional?"

"You tax my imagination too greatly. So I should have to confess;
therefore no convent for me."

"Of course not. I should protest against it at the very altar, and
in the teeth of the Pope himself. Can't you repent of your sins in
some other way?"

"I suppose I shall have to."

"They would be a queer lot of little peccadilloes. I should like
to set them all under a microscope."

"I would rather that your glass should be a goblet brimmed from
Lethe."

"There is no Lethe for me, Miss Marian, so far as you are concerned."

"Come, tell me the news from the seat of war," she said, abruptly.

"This luxurious arm-chair is not a seat of war."

"Papa has been telling me how Southern girls make all the men
enlist."

"I'll enlist to-morrow, if you ask me to."

"Oh, no. You might be shot, and then you would haunt me all my
life."

"May I not haunt you anyway?" said Lane, resolutely, for he had
determined not to let this opportunity pass. She was alone, and he
would confirm the hope which her manner for months had inspired.
"Come, Miss Marian," he continued, springing to his feet and
approaching her side, his dark eyes full of fire and entreaty; "you
cannot have misunderstood me. You know that while not a soldier I
am also not a carpet-knight and have not idled in ladies' bowers.
I have worked hard and dreamed of you. I am willing to do all that
a man can to win you. Cowardice has not kept me from the war, but
you.  If it would please you I would put on the blue and shoulder
a musket to-morrow. If you will permit more discretion and time,
I can soon obtain a commission as an officer. But before I fight
other battles, I wish to win the supreme victory of my life. Whatever
orders I may take from others, you shall ever be my superior officer.
You have seen this a long time; a woman of your mind could not help
it. I have tried to hope with all a lover's fondness that you gave
me glimpses of your heart also, but of this nothing would satisfy
a man of my nature but absolute assurance."

He stood proudly yet humbly before her, speaking with strong,
impassioned, fluent utterance, for he was a man who had both the
power and the habit of expression.

She listened with something like dismay. Her heart, instead of
kindling, grew only more heavy and remorseful. Her whole nature
shrunk, while pity and compunction wrung tears from her eyes. This
was real life in very truth. Here was a man ready to give up safe,
luxurious existence, a career already successful, and face death
for her. She knew him well enough to be sure that if he could wear
her colors he would march away with the first regiment that would
receive him. He was not a man to be influenced by little things,
but yielded absolutely to the supreme impulses of his life. If
she said the word, he would make good his promise with chivalrous,
straightforward promptness, facing death, and all that death could
then mean to him, with a light, half-jaunty courage characteristic
of the ideal soldier. She had a secret wonder at herself that she
could know all this and yet be so vividly conscious that what he
asked could never be. Her womanly pity said yes; her woman's heart
said no. He was eager to take her in his arms, to place the kiss of
life-long loyalty on her lips; but in her very soul she felt that
it would be almost sacrilege for him to touch her; since the divine
impulse to yield, without which there can be no divine sanction,
was absent.

She listened, not as a confused, frightened girl, while he spoke
that which she had guessed before. Other men had sued, although
none had spoken so eloquently or backed their words by such weight
of character. Her trouble, her deep perplexity, was not due to a
mere declaration, but was caused by her inability to answer him.
The conventional words which she would have spoken a few days before
died on her lips. They would be an insult to this earnest man,
who had the right to hope for something better. What was scarcely
worse--for there are few emergencies in which egotism is wholly
lost--she would appear at once to him and to herself in an odious
light. Her course would be well characterized by the Irish servant's
lover, for here was a man who from the very fineness of his nature,
if wronged, might easily go to the devil.

His words echoed her thought, for her hesitation and the visible
distress on her face led him to exclaim, in a voice tense with
something like agony: "O Marian, since you hesitate, hesitate
longer. Think well before you mar--nay, spoil--my life. For God's
sake don't put me off with some of the sham conventionalities current
with society girls. I could stand anything better than that.  I
am in earnest; I have always been in earnest; and I saw from the
first, through all your light, graceful disguises, that you were not
a shallow, brainless, heartless creature,--that a noble woman was
waiting to be wakened in your nature. Give me time; give yourself
time. This is not a little affair that can be rounded off according
to the present code of etiquette; it is a matter of life or death
to me. Be more merciful than a rebel bullet."

She buried her face in her hands and sobbed helplessly.

He was capable of feeling unknown depths of tenderness, but there
was little softness in his nature. As he looked down upon her, his
face grew rigid and stern. In her sobs he read his answer,--the
unwillingness, probably the inability, of her heart to respond to
his,--and he grew bitter as he thought of the past.

With the cold, quiet tones of one too strong, controlled, and
well-bred to give way violently to his intense anger, he said:
"This is a different result from what you led me to expect. All
your smiles end in these unavailing tears. Why did you smile so
sweetly after you understood me, since you had nothing better in
store? I was giving you the homage, the choice of my whole manhood,
and you knew it. What were you giving me? Why did your eyes draw
out my heart and soul? Do you think that such a man as I can exist
without heart and soul? Did you class me with Strahan, who can
take a refusal as he would lose a game of whist? No, you did not.
I saw in your very eyes a true estimate of Strahan and all his
kind. Was it your purpose to win a genuine triumph over a man who
cared nothing for other women? Why then don't you enjoy it? You
could not ask for anything more complete."

"Trample on me--I deserve it," she faltered.

After a moment's pause, he resumed: "I have no wish to trample
on you. I came here with as much loyalty and homage as ever a man
brought to a woman in any age. I have offered you any test of my
love and truth that you might ask. What more could a man do? As soon
as I knew what you were to me, I sought your father's permission
to win you, and I told you my secret in every tone and glance. If
your whole nature shrunk from me, as I see it does, you could have
told me the truth months since, and I should have gone away honoring
you as a true-hearted, honest girl, who would scorn the thought of
deceiving and misleading an earnest man. You knew I did not belong
to the male-flirt genus. When a man from some sacred impulse of his
nature would give his very life to make a woman happy, is it too
much to ask that she should not deliberately, and for mere amusement,
wreck his life? If she does not want his priceless gift, a woman
with your tact could have revealed the truth by one glance, by one
inflection of a tone. Not that I should have been discouraged so
easily, but I should have accepted an unspoken negative long since
with absolute respect. But now--" and he made a gesture eloquent
with protest and despair.

"But now," she said, wearily, "I see it all in the light in which
you put it. Be content; you have spoiled my life as truly as I have
yours."

"Yes, for this evening. There will be only one less in your
drawing-room when you return."

"Very well," she replied, quietly. Her eyes were dry and hot now,
and he could almost see the dark lines deepening under them, and
the increasing pallor of her face. "I have only this to say. I now
feel that your words are like blows, and they are given to one who
is not resisting, who is prostrate;" and she rose as if to indicate
that their interview should end.

He looked at her uneasily as she stood before him, with her pallid
face averted, and every line of her drooping form suggesting defeat
rather than triumph; yes, far more than defeat--the apathetic
hopelessness of one who feels himself mortally wounded.

"Will you please tell me just what you mean when you say I have
spoiled your life?" he asked.

"How should I know? How should anyone know till he has lived out
its bitterness? What do you mean by the words? Perhaps you will
remember hereafter that your language has been inconsistent as well
as merciless. You said I was neither brainless nor heartless; then
added that you had spoiled my life merely for one evening. But
there is no use in trying to defend myself: I should have little
to urge except thoughtlessness, custom, the absence of evil
intention,--other words should prove myself a fool, to avoid being
a criminal. Go on and spoil your life; you seem to be wholly bent
upon it. Face rebel bullets or do some other reckless thing. I
only wish to give you the solace of knowing that you have made me
as miserable as a girl can be, and that too at a moment when I was
awakening to better things. But I am wasting your valuable time.
You believe in your heart that Mr. Strahan can console me with his
gossip to-morrow evening, whatever happens."

"Great God! what am I to believe?"

She turned slowly towards him and said, gravely: "Do not use that
name, Mr. Lane. He recognizes the possibility of good in the weakest
and most unworthy of His creatures. He never denounces those who
admit their sin and would turn from it."

He sprung to her side and took her hand. "Look at me," he pleaded.

His face was so lined and eloquent with suffering that her own lip
quivered.

"Mr. Lane," she said, "I have wronged you. I am very sorry now.
I've been sorry ever since I began to think--since you last called.
I wish you could forgive me. I think it would be better for us both
if you could forgive me."

He sunk into a chair and burying his face in his hands groaned aloud;
then, in bitter soliloquy, said: "O God! I was right--I knew I was
not deceived. She is just the woman I believed her to be. Oh, this
is worse than death!"

No tears came into his eyes, but a convulsive shudder ran through
his frame like that of a man who recoils from the worst blow of
fate.

"Reproach--strike me, even," she cried. "Anything is better than
this. Oh, that I could--but how can I? Oh, what an unutterable fool
I have been! If your love is so strong, it should also be a little
generous. As a woman I appeal to you."

He rose at once and said: "Forgive me; I fear that I have been
almost insane,--that I have much to atone for."

"O Mr. Lane, I entreat you to forgive me. I did admire you; I was
proud of your preference,--proud that one so highly thought of
and coveted by others should single me out. I never dreamt that
my vanity and thoughtlessness could lead to this. If you had been
ill or in trouble, you would have had my honest sympathy, and few
could have sacrificed more to aid you. I never harbored one thought
of cold-blooded malice. Why must I be punished as if I had committed
a deliberate crime? If I am the girl you believe me to be, what
greater punishment could I have than to know that I had harmed a
man like you? It seems to me that if I loved any one I could suffer
for him and help him, without asking anything in return. I could
give you honest friendship, and take heart-felt delight in every
manly success that you achieved. As a weak, faulty girl, who yet
wishes to be a true woman, I appeal to you. Be strong, that I may
be strong; be hopeful, that I may hope; be all that you can be,
that I may not be disheartened on the very threshold of the better
life I had chosen."

He took her hand, and said: "I am not unresponsive to your words.
I feel their full force, and hope to prove that I do; but there is
a tenacity in my nature that I cannot overcome. You said, 'if you
loved'--do you not love any one?"

"No. You are more to me--twice more--than any man except my father."

"Then, think well. Do not answer me now, unless you must. Is there
not a chance for me? I am not a shadow of a man, Marian. I fear
I have proved too well how strong and concentrated my nature is.
There is nothing I would not do or dare--"

"No, Mr. Lane; no," she interrupted, shaking her head sadly, "I will
never consciously mislead a man again a single moment. I scarcely
know what love is; I may never know; but until my heart prompts
me, I shall never give the faintest hope or encouragement of this
nature. I have been taught the evil of it too bitterly."

"And I have been your remorseless teacher, and thus perhaps have
destroyed my one chance."

"You are wrong. I now see that your words were natural to one like
you, and they were unjust only because I was not deliberate. Mr.
Lane, let me be your friend. I could give you almost a sister's
love; I could be so proud of you!"

"There," he said. "You have triumphed after all. I pledge you my
word--all the manhood I possess--I will do whatever you ask."

She took his hand in both her own with a look of gratitude he
never forgot, and spoke gladly: "Now you change everything. Oh, I
am so glad you did not go away before! What a sad, sleepless night
I should have had, and sad to-morrows stretching on indefinitely! I
ask very much, very much indeed,--that you make the most and best
of yourself. Then I can try to do the same. It will be harder
for you than for me. You bring me more hope than sadness; I have
given you more sadness than hope. Yet I have absolute faith in you
because of what papa said to me last night. I had asked him how I
could cease to be what I was, be different, you know, and he said,
'Develop the best in your own nature naturally.' If you will do
this I shall have no fears."

"Yet I have been positively brutal to you to-night."

"No man can be so strong as you are and be trifled with. I understand
that now, Mr. Lane. You had no sentimentality to be touched, and
my tears did not move you in the least until you believed in my
honest contrition."

"I have revealed to you one of my weaknesses. I am rarely angry,
but when I am, my passion, after it is over, frightens me. Marian,
you do forgive me in the very depths of your heart?"

"I do indeed,--that is, if I have anything to forgive under the
circumstances."

"Poor little girl! how pale you are! I fear you are ill."

"I shall soon be better,--better all my life for your forgiveness
and promise."

"Thank God that we are parting in this manner," he said. "I don't
like to think of what might have happened, for I was in the devil's
own mood. Marian, if you make good the words you have spoken
to-night, if you become the woman you can be, you will have a power
possessed by few. It was not your beauty merely that fascinated me,
but a certain individuality,--something all your own, which gives
you an influence apparently absolute. But I shall speak no more
in this strain. I shall try to be as true a friend as I am capable
of becoming, although an absent one. I must prove myself by deeds,
not words, however. May I write to you sometimes? I will direct
my letters under the care of your father, and you may show them to
him or your mother, as you wish."

"Certainly you may, and you will be my first and only gentleman
correspondent. After what has passed between us, it would be
prudery to refuse. Moreover, I wish to hear often of your welfare.
Never for a moment will my warm interest cease, and you can see me
whenever you wish. I have one more thing to ask,--please take up
your old life to-morrow, just where you left off. Do nothing hastily,
or from impulse. Remember you have promised to make the most and
best of yourself, and that requires you to give conscience and
reason fair hearing. Will you also promise this?"

"Anything you asked, I said."

"Then good-by. Never doubt my friendship, as I shall not doubt
yours."

Her hand ached from the pressure of his, but the pain was thus
drawn from her heart.



CHAPTER VI.

A SCHEME OF LIFE.



MARIAN waited for her father's return, having been much too deeply
excited for the speedy advent of quiet sleep. When at last he came
she told him everything. As she described the first part of the
interview his brow darkened, but his face softened as she drew
toward the close. When she ceased he said:--

"Don't you see I was right in saying that your own tact would guide
you better than my reason? If I, instead of your own nature, had
directed you, we should have made an awful mess of it. Now let me
think a moment. This young fellow has suggested an idea to me,--a
general line of action which I think you can carry out. There is
nothing like a good definite plan,--not cast-iron, you know, but
flexible and modified by circumstances as you go along, yet so
clear and defined as to give you something to aim at. Confound it,
that's what's the matter with our military authorities. If McClellan
is a ditch-digger let them put a general in command; or, if he
is a general, give him what he wants and let him alone. There is
no head, no plan. I confess, however, that just now I am chiefly
interested in your campaigns, which, after all, stand the best chance
of bringing about union, in spite of your negative mood manifested
to-night. Nature will prove too strong for you, and some day--soon
probably--you will conquer, only to surrender yourself. Be that as
it may, the plan I suggest need not be interfered with. Be patient.
I'm only following the tactics in vogue,--taking the longest way
around to the point to be attacked. Lane said that if you carried
out your present principle of action you would have a power possessed
by few. I think he is right. I'm not flattering you.  Little power
of any kind can co-exist with vanity. The secret of your fascination
is chiefly in your individuality. There are other girls more beautiful
and accomplished who have not a tithe of it.  Now and then a woman
is peculiarly gifted with the power to influence men,--strong men,
too. You had this potency in no slight degree when neither your
heart nor your brain was very active. You will find that it will
increase with time, and if you are wise it will be greater when
you are sixty than at present. If you avoid the Scylla of vanity
on the one hand, and the Charybdis of selfishness on the other, and
if the sympathies of your heart keep pace with a cultivated mind,
you will steadily grow in social influence. I believe it for this
reason: A weak girl would have been sentimental with Lane, would have
yielded temporarily, either to his entreaty or to his anger, only
to disappoint him in the end, or else would have been conventional
in her refusal and so sent him to the bad, probably. You recognized
just what you could be to him, and had the skill--nature, rather,
for all was unpremeditated--to obtain an influence by which you
can incite him to a better manhood and a greater success, perhaps,
than if he were your accepted lover.  Forgive this long preamble:
I am thinking aloud and feeling my way, as it were. What did you
ask him to promise? Why, to make the most and best of himself.
Why not let this sentence suggest the social scheme of your life?
Drop fellows who have neither brains nor heart,--no good mettle
in them,--and so far as you have influence strive to inspire the
others to make the most and best of themselves. You would not find
the kitchen-maid a rival on this plan of life; nor indeed, I regret
to say, many of your natural associates. Outwardly your life will
appear much the same, but your motive will change everything, and
flow through all your action like a mountain spring, rendering it
impossible for you to poison any life."

"O papa, the very possibility of what you suggest makes life appear
beautiful. The idea of a convent!"

"Convents are the final triumph of idiocy. If bad women could be
shut up and made to say prayers most of the time, no harm at least
would be done,--the good, problematical; but to immure a woman of
sweet, natural, God-bestowed impulses is the devil's worst practical
joke in this world. Come, little girl, it's late. Think over the
scheme; try it as you have a chance; use your power to incite men to
make the most and best of themselves. This is better than levying
your little tribute of flattery and attention, like other belles,--a
phase of life as common as cobble-stones and as old as vanity. For
instance, you have an artist among your friends. Possibly you can
make him a better artist and a better fellow in every way. Drop all
muffs and sticks; don't waste yourself on them. Have considerable
charity for some of the wild fellows, none for their folly, and from
the start tolerate no tendencies toward sentimentality. You will
find that the men who admire girls bent on making eyes rather than
making men will soon disappear. Sensible fellows won't misunderstand
you, even though prompted to more than friendship; and you will have
a circle of friends of which any woman might be proud. Of course
you will find at times that unspoken negatives will not satisfy;
but if a woman has tact, good sense, and sincerity, her position is
impregnable. As long as she is not inclined to love a man herself,
she can, by a mere glance, not only define her position, but
defend it. By simple dignity and reserve she can say to all, 'Thus
far and no farther.' If, without encouragement, any one seeks to
break through this barrier he meets a quiet negative which he must
respect, and in his heart does respect. Now, little girl, to sum up
your visit, with its long talks and their dramatic and unexpected
illustration, I see nothing to prevent you from going forward and
making the best and most of your life according to nature and truth.
You have a good start, and a rather better chance than falls to
the lot of the majority."

"Truly," said Marian, thoughtfully, "we don't appear to grow old
and change by time so much as by what happens,--by what we think
and feel. Everything appears changed, including you and myself."

"It's more in appearance than in reality. You will find the impetus
of your old life so strong that it will be hard even to change the
direction of the current. You will be much the same outwardly, as
I said before. The stream will flow through the same channel of
characteristic traits and habits. The vital change must be in the
stream itself,--the motive from which life springs."

How true her father's words seemed on the following evening after
her return! Her mother, as she sat down, to their dainty little
dinner, looked as if her serenity had been undisturbed by a single
perplexing thought during the past few days. There was the same
elegant, yet rather youthful costume for a lady of her years; the
same smiling face, not yet so full in its outline as to have lost
all its girlish beauty. It was marred by few evidences of care and
trouble, nor was it spiritualized by thought or deep experience.

Marian observed her closely, not with any disposition towards cold
or conscious criticism, but in order that she might better understand
the conditions of her own life. She also had a wakening curiosity
to know just what her mother was to her father and he to her. The
hope was forming that she could make them more to each other. She
had too much tact to believe that this could be done by general
exhortations. If anything was to be accomplished it must be by
methods so fine and unobtrusive as to be scarcely recognized.

Her father's inner life had been a revelation to her, and she was
led to query: "Why does not mamma understand it? CAN she understand
it?" Therefore she listened attentively to the details of what had
happened in her absence. She waited in vain for any searching and
intelligent questions concerning the absent husband. Beyond that
he was well, and that everything about the house was just as she
had left it, Mrs. Vosburgh appeared to have no interest. She was
voluble over little household affairs, the novel that just then
absorbed her, and especially the callers and their chagrin at
finding the young girl absent.

"Only the millionnaire widower remained any length of time when
learning that you were away," said the lady, "and he spent most of
the evening with me. I assure you he is a very nice, entertaining
old fellow."

"How did he entertain you? What did he talk about?"

"Let me remember. Now I think of it, what didn't he talk about? He
is one of the most agreeable gossips I ever met,--knows everybody
and everything. He has at his finger-ends the history of all who
were belles in my time, and" (complacently) "I find that few have
done better than I, while some, with all their opportunities, chose
very crooked sticks."

"You are right, mamma. It seems to me that neither of us half
appreciates papa. He works right on so quietly and steadily, and
yet he is not a machine, but a man."

"Oh, I appreciate him. Nine out of ten that he might have married
would have made him no end of trouble. I don't make him any. Well,
after talking about the people we used to know, Mr. Lanniere began
a tirade against the times and the war, which he says have cost him
a hundred thousand dollars; but he took care in a quiet way to let
me know that he has a good many hundred thousands left. I declare,
Marian, you might do a great deal worse."

"Do you not think I might do a great deal better?" the young girl
asked, with a frown.

"I have no doubt you think so. Girls will be romantic. I was,
myself; but as one goes on in life one finds that a million, more
or less, is a very comfortable fact. Mr. Lanniere has a fine house
in town, but he's a great traveller, and an habitue of the best
hotels of this country and Europe. You could see the world with
him on its golden side."

"Well, mamma, I want a man,--not an habitue. What's more, I must
be in love with the man, or he won't stand the ghost of a chance.
So you see the prospects are that you will have me on your hands
indefinitely. Mr. Lanniere, indeed! What should I be but a part of
his possessions,--another expensive luxury in his luxurious life?
I want a man like papa,--earnest, large-brained, and large-hearted,--who,
instead of inveighing against the times, is absorbed in the vital
questions of the day, and is doing his part to solve them rightly.
I would like to take Mr. Lanniere into a military hospital or
cemetery, and show him what the war has cost other men."

"Why, Marian, how you talk!"

"I wish I could make you know how I feel. It seems to me that one
has only to think a little and look around in order to feel deeply.
I read of an awful battle while coming up in the cars. We have
been promised, all the spring, that Richmond would be taken, the
war ended, and all go on serenely again; but it doesn't look like
it."

"What's the use of women distressing themselves with such things?"
said Mrs. Vosburgh, irritably. "I can't bear to think of war and
its horrors, except as they give spice to a story. Our whole trouble
is a big political squabble, and you know I detest politics. It
is just as Mr. Lanniere says,--if our people had only let slavery
alone all would have gone on veil. The leaders on both sides will
find out before the summer is over that they have gone too far
and fast, and they had better settle their differences with words
rather than blows. We shall all be shaking hands ana making up
before Christmas."

"Papa doesn't think so."

"Your father is a German at heart. He has the sense to be practical
about every-day affairs and enjoy a good dinner, but he amuses
himself with cloudy speculations and ideals and vast questions
about the welfare of the world, or the 'trend of the centuries,'
as he said one day to me. I always try to laugh him out of such
vague nonsense. Has he been talking to you about the 'trend of the
centuries'?"

"No, mamma, he has not," replied Marian, gravely; "but if he does
I shall try to understand what he means and be interested. I know
that papa feels deeply about the war, and means to take the most
effective part in it that he can, and that he does not think it
will end so easily as you believe. These facts make me feel anxious,
for I know how resolute papa is."

"He has no right to take any risks," said the lady, emphatically.

"He surely has the same right that other men have."

"Oh, well," concluded Mrs. Vosburgh, with a shrug, "there is no use
in borrowing trouble. When it comes to acting, instead of dreaming
and speculating on vast, misty questions, I can always talk your
father into good sense. That is the best thing about him,--he is
well-balanced, in spite of his tendency to theories. When I show
him that a thing is quixotic he laughs, shrugs his shoulders, and
good-naturedly goes on in the even tenor of his way. It was the
luckiest thing in the world for him when he married me, for I soon
learned his weak points, and have ever guarded him against them.
As a result he has had a quiet, prosperous career. If he wishes to
serve the government in some civilian capacity, and is well paid
for it, why shouldn't he? But I would never hear of his going to
the front, fighting, and marching in Virginia mud and swamps. If
he ever breathes such a thought to you, I hope you will aid me in
showing him how cruel and preposterous it is."

Marian sighed, as she thought: "I now begin to see how well papa
understands mamma, but has she any gauge by which to measure him?
I fear he has found his home lonely, in spite of good dinners."

"Come, my dear," resumed Mrs. Vosburgh, "we are lingering too long.
Some of your friends may be calling soon, although I said I did
not know whether you would be at home to-night or not. Mr. Lanniere
will be very likely to come, for I am satisfied that he has serious
intentions. What's more, you might do worse,--a great deal worse."

"Three times you have said that, mamma, and I don't like it," said
Marian, a little indignantly. "Of course I might do worse; I might
kill him, and I should be tempted to if I married him. You know
that I do not care for him, and he knows it, too. Indeed, I scarcely
respect him. You don't realize what you are saying, for you would
not have me act from purely mercenary motives?"

"Oh, certainly not; but Mr. Lanniere is not a monster or a decrepit
centenarian. He is still in his prime, and is a very agreeable and
accomplished man of the world. He is well-connected, moves in the
best society, and could give his wife everything."

"He couldn't give me happiness, and he would spoil my life."

"Oh well, if you feel so, there is nothing more to be said. I can
tell you, though, that multitudes of girls would be glad of your
chance; but, like so many young people, you have romantic ideas,
and do not appreciate the fact that happiness results chiefly from
the conditions of our lot, and that we soon learn to have plenty
of affection for those who make them all we could desire;" and she
touched a bell for the waitress, who had been temporarily dismissed.

The girl came in with a faint smile on her face. "Has she been
listening?" thought Marian. "That creature, then, with her vain,
pretty, yet vulgar face, is the type of what I was. She has been
lighting the drawing-room for me to do what she proposes to do
later in the evening. She looks just the same. Mamma is just the
same.  Callers will come just the same. How unchanged all is, as
papa said it would be! I fear much may be unchangeable."

She soon left the dining-room for the parlor, her dainty, merry
little campaigning-ground. What should be its future record? Could
she carry out the scheme of life which her father had suggested?
"Well," she concluded, with an ominous flash in her eyes at her fair
reflection in the mirror, "whether I can incite any one to better
things or not, I can at least do some freezing out. That gossipy,
selfish old Mr. Lanniere must take his million to some other market.
I have no room in my life for him. Neither do I dote on the future
acquaintance of Mr. Strahan. I shall put him on probation. If men
don't want my society and regard on the new conditions, they can
stay away; if they persist in coming, they must do something finer
and be something finer than in the past. The friendship of one man
like Fenton Lane is worth more than the attention of a wilderness
of muffs and sticks, as papa calls them. What I fear is that I shall
appear goody-goody, and that would disgust every one, including
myself."



CHAPTER VII.

SURPRISES.



MR. Lanniere evidently had serious intentions, for he came
unfashionably early. He fairly beamed on the young girl when he
found her at home. Indeed, as she stood before him in her radiant
youth, which her evening costume enhanced with a fine taste quickly
recognized by his practised eyes, he very justly regarded her as
better than anything which his million had purchased hitherto. It
might easily be imagined that he had added a little to the couleur
de rose of the future by an extra glass of Burgundy, for he positively
appeared to exude an atmosphere of affluence, complacency, and
gracious intention. The quick-witted girl detected at once his
King-Cophetua air, and she was more amused than embarrassed. Then
the eager face of Fenton Lane arose in her fancy, and she heard
his words, "I would shoulder a musket and march away to-morrow if
you bade me!" How insignificant was all that this man could offer,
as compared with the boundless, self-sacrificing love of the other,
before whom her heart bowed in sincere homage if nothing more! What
was this man's offer but an expression of selfishness? And what
could she ever be but an accessory of his Burgundy? Indeed, as his
eyes, humid from wine, gloated upon her, and he was phrasing his
well-bred social platitudes and compliments, quite oblivious of
the fact that HER eyes were taking on the blue of a winter sky,
her cheeks began to grow a little hot with indignation and shame.
He knew that she did not love him, that naturally she could not,
and that there had been nothing in their past relations to inspire
even gratitude and respect towards him. In truth, his only effort
had been to show his preference and to indicate his wishes. What
then could his offer mean but the expectation that she would take
him as a good bargain, and, like any well-bred woman of the world,
comply with all its conditions? Had she given him the impression that
she could do this? While the possibility made her self-reproachful,
she was conscious of rising resentment towards him who was so
complacently assuming that she was for sale.

"Indeed, Miss Vosburgh," was the conclusion of his rather long
preliminaries, "you must not run away soon again. June days may
be charming under any circumstances, but your absence certainly
insures dull June evenings."

"You are burdening your conscience without deceiving me," the young
girl replied, demurely, "and should not so wrong yourself. Mamma
said that you were very entertaining, and that last evening was a
delightful one. It could scarcely be otherwise. It is natural that
people of the same age should be congenial. I will call mamma at
once."

"I beg you will not,--at least not just yet. I have something to
say to which I trust you will listen kindly and favorably. Do you
think me so very old?"

"No older than you have a perfect right to be, Mr. Lanniere," said
the girl, laughing. "I can think of no reason for your reproachful
tone."

"Let me give you one then. Your opinions are of immense importance
to me."

"Truly, Mr. Lanniere, this is strange beyond measure, especially
as I am too young to have formed many opinions."

"That fact only increases my admiration and regard One must reach
my years in order to appreciate truly the dewy freshness of youth.
The world is a terra incognita to you yet, and your opinions of
life are still to be formed. Let me give you a chance to see the
world from lofty, sunny elevations."

"I am too recently from my geography not to remember that while
elevations may be sunny they are very cold," was the reply, with
a charming little shiver. "Mont Blanc has too much perspective."

"Do not jest with me or misunderstand me, Miss Vosburgh," he said,
impressively. "There is a happy mean in all things."

"Yes, Mr. Lanniere, and the girl who means to be happy should take
care to discover it."

"May it not be discovered for her by one who is better acquainted
with life? In woman's experience is not happiness more often
thrust upon her than achieved? I, who know the world and the rich
pleasures and triumphs it affords to one who, in the military phrase
of the day, is well supported, can offer you a great deal,--more
than most men, I assure you."

"Why, Mr. Lanniere," said the young girl, looking at him with
demure surprise, "I am perfectly contented and happy. No ambition
for triumphs is consuming me. What triumphs? As for pleasure, each
day brings all and more than I deserve. Young as one may be, one
can scarcely act without a motive."

"Then I am personally nothing to you?" he said stiffly, and rising.

"Pardon me, Mr. Lanniere. I hope my simple directness may not appear
childish, but it seems to me that I have met your suggestions with
natural answers; What should you be to me but an agreeable friend
of mamma's?"

He understood her fence perfectly, and was aware that the absence
of a mercenary spirit on her part made his suit appear almost
ridiculous. If her clear young eyes would not see him through a
golden halo, but only as a man and a possible mate, what could he
be to her? Even gold-fed egotism could not blind him to the truth
that she was looking at HIM, and that the thought of bartering
herself for a little more of what she had to her heart's content
already was not even considered. There was distressing keenness in
the suggestion that, not wanting the extraneous things he offered,
no motive was left. He was scarcely capable of suspecting her
indignation that he should deem her capable of sacrificing her fair
young girlhood for greater wealth and luxury, even had she coveted
them,--an indignation enhanced by her new impulses. The triumphs,
happiness, and power which she now was bent on achieving could
never be won under the dense shade of his opulent selfishness. He
embodied all that was inimical to her hopes and plans, all that was
opposed to the motives and inspiration received from her father,
and she looked at him with unamiable eyes.

While he saw this to some extent, he was unaccustomed to denial by
others or by himself. She was alluringly beautiful, as she stood
before him,--all the more valued because she valued herself so
highly, all the more coveted because superior to the sordid motives
upon which even he had counted as the chief allies in his suit.
In the intense longing of a self-indulgent nature he broke out,
seizing her hand as he spoke: "O Miss Marian, do not deny me.
I know I could make you happy. I would give you everything. Your
slightest wish should be law. I would be your slave."

"I do not wish a slave," she replied, freezingly, withdrawing her
hand. "I am content, as I told you; but were I compelled to make
a choice it should be in favor of a man to whom I could look up,
and whom I could aid in manly work. I shall not make a choice until
compelled to by my heart."

"If your heart is still your own, give me a chance to win it,"
resumed the suitor, seeking vainly to take her hand again. "I am
in my prime, and can do more than most men. I will put my wealth
at your disposal, engage in noble charities, patriotic--"

This interview had been so absorbing as to make them oblivious of
the fact that another visitor had been admitted to the hall. Hearing
voices in the drawing-room, Mr. Strahan entered, and now stood just
behind Mr. Lanniere, with an expression in which dismay, amusement,
and embarrassment were so comically blended that Marian, who first
saw him, had to cover her face with her handkerchief to hide her
sense of the ludicrous.

"Pardon me," said the inopportune new-comer, "I--I--"

"Maledictions on you!" exclaimed the goaded millionnaire, now
enraged beyond self-control, and confronting the young fellow with
glaring, bloodshot eyes.

This greeting put Strahan entirely at his ease, and a glimpse of
Marian's mirth had its influence also. She had turned instantly
away, and gone to the farther side of the apartment.

"Come now, Mr. Lanniere," he said, with an assumption of much
dignity; "there is scant courtesy in your greeting, and without
reason. I have the honor of Miss Vosburgh's acquaintance as truly
as yourself. This is her parlor, and she alone has the right to
indicate that I am unwelcome. I shall demand no apologies here and
now, but I shall demand them. I may appear very young--"

"Yes, you do; very young. I should think that ears like yours might
have--" And then the older man paused, conscious that the violence
of his anger was carrying him too far.

Strahan struck a nonchalant attitude, as he coolly remarked: "My
venerable friend, your passion is unbecoming to your years. Miss
Vosburgh, I humbly ask your pardon that my ears were not long enough
to catch the purport of this interview. I am not in the habit of
listening at a lady's door before I enter. My arrival at a moment
so awkward for me was my misfortune. I discovered nothing to your
discredit, Mr. Lanniere. Indeed, your appreciation of Miss Vosburgh
is the most creditable thing I know about you,--far more so than
your insults because I merely entered the door to which I was shown
by the maid who admitted me. Miss Vosburgh, with your permission
I will now depart, in the hope that you will forgive the annoyance--"

"I cannot give you my permission under the circumstances, Mr.
Strahan. You have committed no offence against me, or Mr. Lanniere,
either, as he will admit after a little thought. Let us regard the
whole matter as one of those awkward little affairs over which good
breeding can speedily triumph. Sit down, and I will call mamma."

"Pardon me, Miss Vosburgh," said Mr. Lanniere, in a choking voice,
for he could not fail to note the merriment which the mercurial
Strahan strove in vain to suppress; "I will leave you to more
congenial society. I have paid you the highest compliment in my
power, and have been ill-requited."

As if stung, the young girl took a step towards him, and said,
indignantly: "What was the nature of your compliment? What have you
asked but that I should sell myself for money? I may have appeared
to you a mere society girl, but I was never capable of that.
Good-evening, sir."

Mr. Lanniere departed with tingling ears, and a dawning consciousness
that he had over-rated his million, and that he had made a fool of
himself generally.

All trace of mirth passed from Strahan's expression, as he looked
at the young girl's stern, flushed face and the angry sheen of her
eyes.

"By Jove!" he exclaimed, "that's magnificent. I've seen a girl now
to whom I can take off my hat, not as a mere form. Half the girls
in our set would have given their eyes for the chance of capturing
such a man. Think what a vista of new bonnets he suggests!"

"You are probably mistaken. One girl has proved how she regarded
the vista, and I don't believe you had any better opinion of me
than of the others. Come now, own up. Be honest. Didn't you regard
me as one of the girls 'in our set' as you phrase it, that would
jump at the chance?"

"Oh, nonsense, Miss Marian. The idea--"

She checked him by a gesture. "I wish downright sincerity, and I
shall detect the least false note in your words."

Strahan looked into her resolute, earnest eyes a moment, and
then revealed a new trait. He discarded the slight affectation
that characterized his manner, stood erect, and returned her gaze
steadily. "You ask for downright sincerity?" he said.

"Yes; I will take nothing less."

"You have no right to ask it unless you will be equally sincere
with me."

"Oh, indeed; you are in a mood for bargains, as well as Mr.
Lanniere."

"Not at all. You have stepped out of the role of the mere society
girl. In that guise I shall be all deference and compliments. On
the basis of downright sincerity I have my rights, and you have
no right to compel me to give an honest opinion so personal in its
nature without giving one in return."

"I agree," she said, after a moment's thought.

"Well, then, while I was by no means sure, I thought it was possible,
even probable, that you would accept a man like Lanniere.  I have
known society girls to do such things, haven't you?"

"And I tell you, Mr. Strahan, that you misjudge a great many society
girls."

"Oh, you must tell me a great deal more than that. Have I not just
discovered that I misjudged one? Now pitch into Arthur Strahan."

"I am inclined to think that I have misjudged you, also; but
I will keep my compact, and give you the impression you made, and
you won't like it."

"I don't expect to; but I shall expect downright sincerity."

"Very well. I'll test you. You are not simple and manly, even in
your dress and manner; you are an anomaly in the country; you are
inclined to gossip; and it's my belief that a young man should do
more in life than amuse himself."

Strahan flushed, but burst out laughing as he exclaimed, "My
photograph, by Jupiter!"

"Photographs give mere surface. Come, what's beneath it?"

"In one respect, at least, I think I am on a par with yourself. I
have enough honest good-nature to listen to the truth with thanks."

"Is that all?"

"Come, Miss Marian, what is the use of words when I have had such
an example of deeds? I have caught you, red-handed, in the act of
giving a millionnaire his conge. In the face of this stern fact
do you suppose I am going to try to fish up some germs of manhood
for your inspection? As you have suggested, I must do something,
or I'm out of the race with you. I honestly believe, though, I am
not such a fool as I have seemed. I shall always be something of
a rattle-brain, I suppose, and if I were dying I could not help
seeing the comical side of things." He hesitated a moment, and then
asked, abruptly, "Miss Marian, have you read to-day's paper?"

"Yes, I have," with a tinge of sadness in her tone.

"Well, so have I. Think of thousands of fine young fellows lying
stiff and stark in those accursed swamps!"

"Yes," she cried, with a rush of tears, "I WILL think of them.
I will try to see them, horrible as the sight is, even in fancy.
When they died so heroically, shame on me if I turn away in weak,
dainty disgust! Oh, the burning shame that Northern girls don't
think more of such men and their self-sacrifice!"

"You're a trump, Miss Marian; that's evident. Well, one little bit
of gossip about myself, and then I must go. I have another engagement
this evening. Old Lanniere was right. I'm young, and I've been
very young. Of late I've made deliberate effort to remain a fool;
but a man has got to be a fool or a coward down to the very hard-pan
of his soul if the logic of recent events has no effect on him. I
don't think I am exactly a coward, but the restraint of army-life,
and especially roughing it, is very distasteful. I kept thinking
it would all soon be over, that more men were in now than were
needed, and that it was a confounded disagreeable business, and
all that. But my mind wasn't at rest; I wasn't satisfied with the
ambitions of my callow youth; and, as usual when one is in trouble
and in doubt about a step, I exaggerated my old folly to disguise
my feelings. But this Richmond campaign, and the way Stonewall
Jackson has been whacking our fellows in the Shenandoah, made me
feel that I was standing back too long, and the battle described
in to-day's paper brought me to a decision. I'm in for it, Miss
Marian. You may think I'm not worth the powder required to blow me
up, but I'm going to Virginia as soon as I can learn enough not to
be more dangerous to those around me than to the enemy."

She darted to his side, and took his hand, exclaiming, "Mr. Strahan!
forgive me; I've done you a hundred-fold more injustice than you
have me!"

He was visibly embarrassed, a thing unusual with him, and he
said, brusquely: "Oh, come now, don't let us have any pro patria
exaltation. I don't resemble a hero any more than I do a doctor of
divinity. I'm just like lots of other young fellows who have gone,
only I have been slower in going, and my ardor won't set the river
on fire. But the times are waking up all who have any wake-up in
them, and the exhibition of the latest English cut in coats and
trousers is taking on a rather inglorious aspect. How ridiculous
it all seems in the light of the last battle! Jove! but I HAVE been
young!"

He did look young indeed, with his blond mustache and flushed face,
that was almost as fair as a girl's. She regarded him wonderingly,
thinking how strangely events were applying the touchstone to one
and another. But the purpose of this boyish-appearing exquisite
was the most unexpected thing in the era of change that had begun.
She could scarcely believe it, and exclaimed, "You face a cannon?"

"I don't look like it, do I? I fancy I would. I should be too
big a coward to run away, for then I should have to come back to
face you, which would be worse, you know. I'm not going to do any
bragging, however. Deeds, deeds. Not till I have laid out a Johnny,
or he has laid me out, can I take rank with you after your rout of
the man of millions. I don't ask you to believe in me yet."

"Well, I do believe in you. You are making an odd yet vivid
impression on me. I believe you will face danger just as you did
Mr.  Lanniere, in a half-nonchalant and a half-satirical mood, while
all the time there will be an undercurrent of downright earnestness
and heroism in you, which you will hide as if you were ashamed of
it."

He flushed with pleasure, but only laughed, "We'll see." Then after
a moment he added, "Since we are down to the bed-rock in our talk
I'll say out the rest of my say, then follow Lanniere, and give
him something more to digest before he sleeps."

"Halt, sir--military jargon already--how can you continue your
quarrel with Mr. Lanniere without involving my name?"

Strahan looked blank for a second, then exclaimed: "Another evidence,
of extreme youth! Lanniere may go to thunder before I risk annoying
you."

"Yes, thank you; please let him go to thunder. He won't talk of
the affair, and so can do you no harm."

"Supposing he could, that would be no excuse for annoying you."

"I think you punished him sufficiently before he went, and without
ceasing to be a gentleman, too. If you carry out your brave purpose
you need not fear for your reputation."

"Well, Miss Marian, I shall carry it out. Society girl as I believed
you to be, I like you better than the others. Don't imagine I'm
going to be sentimental. I should stand as good a chance of winning
a major-general's stars as you. I've seen better fellows raising
the siege and disappearing, you know. Well, the story I thought
would be short is becoming long. I wanted to tell you first what
I proposed; for, hang it all! I've read it in your eyes that you
thought I was little better than a popinjay, and I wished to prove
to you that I could be a man after my fashion."

"I like your fashion, and am grateful for your confidence. What's
more, you won't be able to deceive me a bit hereafter. I shall
persist in admiring you as a brave man, and shall stand up for you
through thick and thin."

"You always had a kind of loyalty to us fellows that we recognized
and appreciated."

"I feel now as if I had not been very loyal to any one, not even
myself. As with you, however, I must let the future tell a different
story."

"If I make good my words, will you be my friend?"

"Yes, yes indeed, and a proud one. But oh!"--she clasped her hand
over her eyes,--"what is all this tending to? When I think of the
danger and suffering to which you may--"

"Oh, come now," he interrupted, laughing, but with a little
suspicious moisture in eyes as blue as her own; "it will be harder
for you to stay and think of absent friends than for them to go.
I foresee how it will turn out. You will be imagining high tragedy
on stormy nights when we shall be having a jolly game of poker.
Good-night. I shall be absent for a time,--going to West Point to
be coached a little by my friend Captain Varrum."

He drew himself up, saluted her a la militaire, right-about-faced
with the stiffness of a ramrod, and was departing, when a light
hand touched his arm, and Marian said, with a look so kind and
sympathetic that his eyes fell before it: "Report to me occasionally,
Captain Strahan. There are my colors;" and she gave him a white
rose from her belt.

His mouth quivered slightly, but with a rather faltering laugh
he replied, as he put the rose to his lips, "Never let the color
suggest that I will show the white feather;" and then he began his
military career with a precipitate retreat.



CHAPTER VIII.

CHARMED BY A CRITIC.



"WHAT next?" was Marian's wondering query after Mr. Strahan's
departure. The change of motive which already had had no slight
influence on her own action and feeling had apparently ushered in
a new era in her experience; but the sense of novelty in personal
affairs was quite lost as she contemplated the transformation in
the mercurial Strahan, who had apparently been an irredeemable fop.
That the fastidious exquisite should tramp through Virginia mud,
and face a battery of hostile cannon, appeared to her the most
marvellous of human paradoxes. An hour before she would have declared
the idea preposterous. Now she was certain he would do all that he
had said, and would do it in the manner satirical and deprecatory
towards himself which she had suggested.

Radical as the change seemed, she saw that it was a natural one
as he had explained it. If there was any manhood in him the times
would evoke it. After all, his chief faults had been youth and
a nature keenly sensitive to certain social influences. Belonging
to a wealthy and fashionable clique in the city, he had early been
impressed by the estimated importance of dress and gossip. To excel
in these, therefore, was to become pre-eminent. As time passed,
however, the truth, never learned by some, that his clique was not
the world, began to dawn on him. He was foolish, but not a fool;
and when he saw young fellows no older than himself going to the
front, when he read of their achievements and sufferings, he drew
comparisons. The result was that he became more and more dissatisfied.
He felt that he was anomalous, in respect not only to the rural
scenery of his summer home, but to the times, and the conviction
was growing that the only way to right himself was to follow the
host of American youth who had gone southward. It was a conviction to
which he could not readily yield, and which he sought to disguise
by exaggerating his well-known characteristics. People of his
temperament often shrink from revealing their deeper feelings,
believing that these would seem to others so incongruous as to call
forth incredulous smiles. Strahan was not a coward, except in the
presence of ridicule. This had more terrors for him than all the
guns of the Confederacy; and he knew that every one, from his own
family down, would laugh at the thought of his going to the war.
In a way that puzzled him a little he felt that he would not care
so much if Marian Vosburgh did not laugh. The battle of which he
had read to-day had at last decided him; he must go; but if Marian
would give him credit for a brave, manly impulse, and not think of
him as a ludicrous spectacle when he donned the uniform, he would
march away with a light heart. He did not analyze her influence
over him, but only knew that she had a peculiar fascination which
it was not in his impressionable nature to resist.

Thus it may be seen that he only gave an example of the truth that
great apparent changes are the result of causes that have long been
secretly active.

Marian, like many others, did not sufficiently take this fact into
account, and was on the qui vive for other remarkable manifestations.
They did not occur. As her father had predicted, life, in its
outward conditions, resumed its normal aspects. Her mother laughed
a little, sighed a little, when she heard the story of Mr. Lanniere's
final exit; the coquettish kitchen-maid continued her career with
undisturbed complacency; and Marian to her own surprise found that,
after the first days of her enthusiasm had passed, it required the
exertion of no little will-power to refrain from her old motives
and tactics. But she was loyal to herself and to her implied promise
to her father. She knew that he was watching her,--that he had set
his heart on the development, in a natural way, of her best traits.
She also knew that if she faltered she must face his disappointment
and her own contempt.

She had a horror, however, of putting on what she called "goody-goody
airs," and under the influence of this feeling acted much like
her old self. Not one of her callers could have charged her with
manifesting a certain kind of misleading favor, but her little salon
appeared as free from restraint as ever, and her manner as genial
and lively. It began to be observed by some, however, that while
she participated unhesitatingly in the light talk of others, she
herself would occasionally broach topics of more weight, especially
such as related to the progress of the war; and more than once she
gave such direction to her conversation with the artist as made
his eyes kindle.

Her father was satisfied. He usually came home late on Saturday,
and some of her gentleman friends who were in the habit of dropping
in of a Sunday evening, were soon taught that these hours were
engaged.

"You need not excuse yourself on my account," her father had said
to her.

"But I shall," was her prompt response. "After all you have done
and are doing for me, it's a pity if I can't give you one evening
in the week. You are looking after other people in New York;
I'm going to look after you; and you shall find that I am a sharp
inquisitor. You must reveal enough of the secrets of that mysterious
office of yours to satisfy me that you are not in danger."

He soon began to look forward with glad anticipation to his ramble
by her side in the summer twilight. He saw that what he had done
and what he had thought during the week interested her deeply, and
to a girl of her intelligence he had plenty to tell that was far
from commonplace. She saw the great drama of her country's history
unfolding, and not only witnessed the events that were presented
to the world, but was taken behind the scenes and shown many of
the strange and secret causes that were producing them. Moreover
expectation of something larger and greater was constantly raised.
After their walk they would return to the house, and she would sing
or read to him until she saw his eyes heavy with the sleep that
steals gradually and refreshingly into a weary man's brain.

Mrs. Vosburgh observed this new companionship with but little surprise
and no jealousy. "It was time," she said, "that Marian should begin
to do something for her father, and not leave everything to me."

One thing puzzled Marian: weeks were passing and she neither saw
nor heard anything of Lane or Strahan. This fact, in view of what
had been said at parting, troubled her. She was not on calling
terms with the latter's family, and therefore was unable to learn
anything from them. Even his male friends in the neighborhood did
not know where he was or what he was doing. Her father had taken
the pains to inform himself that Lane was apparently at work in
his law-office as usual. These two incipient subjects of the power
she hoped to wield seemed to have dropped her utterly, and she was
discouraged.

On the last day of June she was taking a ramble in a somewhat
wild and secluded place not far from her home, and thinking rather
disconsolately that her father had overrated her influence,--that
after all she was but a pretty and ordinary girl, like millions
of others,--a fact that Lane and Strahan had at last discovered.
Suddenly she came upon the artist, sketching at a short distance
from her. As she turned to retreat a twig snapped under her foot,
revealing her presence. He immediately arose and exclaimed, "Miss
Vosburgh, is it I that you fear, or a glimpse of my picture?"

"Neither, of course. I feared I might dispel an inspired mood.
Why should I intrude, when you have nature before you and the muse
looking over your shoulder?"

"Over my left shoulder, then, with a mocking smile. You are
mistaken if you fancy you can harm any of my moods. Won't you stay
and criticise my picture for me?"

"Why, Mr. Blauvelt, I'm not an art critic."

"Yes, you are,--one of the class I paint for. Our best critics are
our patrons, cultivated people."

"I should never think of patronizing you."

"Perhaps you might entertain the thought of encouraging me a little,
if you felt that I was worth it."

"Now, Mr. Blauvelt, notwithstanding the rural surroundings, you
must remember that I was bred in the city. I know the sovereign
contempt that you artists have for the opinions of the people. When
it comes to art, I'm only people."

"No such generalization will answer in your case. You have as
distinct an individuality as any flower blooming on this hillside."

"There are flowers and flowers. Some are quite common."

"None are commonplace to me, for there is a genuine bit of nature
in every one. Still you are right: I was conscious of the fragrance
from this eglantine-bush here, until you came."

"Oh, then let me go at once."

"I beg that you will not. You are the eglantine in human form, and
often quite as briery."

"Then you should prefer the bush there, which gives you its beauty
and fragrance without a scratch. But truly your comparison is too
far-fetched, even for an artist or a poet, for I suppose they are
near of kin. To sensible, matter-of-fact girls, nothing is more
absurd than your idealization of us. See how quickly and honestly
I can disenchant you. In the presence of both nature and art I
am conscious that it is nearly lunch-time. You are far from your
boarding-place, so come and take your luck with us. Mamma will be
glad to see you, and after lunch I may be a more amiable critic."

"As a critic, I do not wish you to be amiable, but honest severity
itself. That you stumbled upon me accidentally in your present
mood is my good fortune. Tell me the faults in my picture in the
plainest English, and I will gratefully accept your invitation; for
the hospitality at your cottage is so genial that bread and cheese
would be a banquet. I have a strong fancy for seeing my work through
your eyes, and so much faith in you that I know you will tell me
what you think, since I ask you to do so."

"Why have you faith in me?" she asked, with a quick, searching
glance.

"I belong somewhat to the impressionist school, and my impression
of you leads to my words."

"If you compel me to be honest, I must say I'm not capable of
criticising your picture. I know little of art, and nothing of its
TECHNIQUE."

"Eyes like yours should be able to see a great deal, and, as I said,
I am possessed by the wish to know just what they do see. There is
the scene I was sketching, and here the canvas. Please, Miss Marian."

"It will be your own fault, now, if you don't like what I say,"
laughed the young girl, with ready tact, for a quick glance or two
had already satisfied her that the picture was not to her taste.
"My only remark is this, Mr. Blauvelt,--Nature does not make the
same impression on me that it does on you. There is the scene, as
you say. How can I make you understand what I feel? Nature always
looks so natural to me! It awakens within me various emotions, but
never surprise,--I mean that kind of surprise one has when seeing
a lady dressed in colors that do not harmonize. To my eye, even in
gaudy October, Nature appears to blend her effects so that there
is nothing startling or incongruous."

"Is there anything startling and incongruous in my picture?"

"I have not said that. You see you have brought me into perplexity, you
have taken me beyond my depth, by insisting on having my opinion.
I have read a good many art criticisms first and last. Art is gabbled
about a good deal in society, you know, and we have to keep a set
of phrases on hand, whether we understand them or not.  But since
you believe in impressions, and will have mine, it is this as nearly
as I can express it. You are under the influence of a school or
a fashion in art, and perhaps unconsciously you are controlled by
this when looking at the scene there. It seems to me that if I were
an artist I should try to get on my canvas the same effects that
nature produces, and I would do it after my own fashion and not
after some received method just then prevailing. Let me illustrate
what I mean by a phase of life that I know more about.  There are
some girls in society whose ambition it is to dress in the latest
style. They are so devoted to fashion that they appear to forget
themselves, and are happy if their costume reflects the mode of the
hour, even though it makes them look hideous. My aim would be to
suggest the style rather unobtrusively, and clothe myself becomingly.
I'm too egotistical to be ultra-fashionable. Since I, who am in
love chiefly with myself, can so modify style, much more should
you, who are devoted to nature, make fashion in art subservient to
nature."

"You are right. I have worked too much in studios and not enough
out of doors. Ever since I have been sketching this summer, I have
had a growing dissatisfaction, and a sense of being trammelled. I
do believe, as you say, that a certain received method or fashion
of treatment has been uppermost in my mind, and I have been trying
to torture--nature into conformity. I'll paint this thing all out
and begin again."

"No, don't do that. Are not pictures like people a little? If
I wanted to improve in some things, it wouldn't do for me to be
painted all out. Cannot changes for the better come by softening
features here and bringing out others there, by colorings a little
more like those before us, and--pardon me--by not leaving so much
to the imagination? You artists can see more between the lines than
we people can."

"Let me try;" and with eager eyes he sat down before his easel
again. "Now see if I succeed a little," he added, after a moment.

His whole nature appeared kindled and animated by hope. He worked
rapidly and boldly. His drawing had been good before, and, as time
passed, nature's sweet, true face began to smile upon him from
his canvas. Marian grew almost as absorbed as himself, learning by
actual vision how quick, light strokes can reproduce and preserve
on a few square inches the transitory beauty of the hour and the
season.

At times she would stimulate his effort by half-spoken sentences
of satisfaction, and at last he turned and looked up suddenly at
her flushed, interested face.

"You are the muse," he exclaimed, impetuously, "who, by looking
over my shoulder, can make an artist of me."

She instinctively stepped farther away, saying, decisively, "Be
careful then to regard me as a muse."

She had replied to his ardent glance and tone, even more than to
his words. There was not a trace of sentiment in her clear, direct
gaze.  The quiet dignity and reserve of her manner sobered him
instantly.  Her presence, her words, the unexpected success in the
new departure which she had suggested, had excited him deeply; yet
a moment's thought made it clear that there had been nothing on
her part to warrant the hope of more than friendly interest. This
interest might easily be lost by a few rash words, while there
was slight reason that he should ever hope for anything more. Then
also came the consciousness of his straitened circumstances and the
absurdity of incurring obligations which he might never be able to
meet. He had assured himself a thousand times that art should be
his mistress, yet here he was on the eve of acting like a fool by
making love to one who never disguised her expensive tastes. He was
not an artist of the olden school,--all romance and passion,--and
the modishly dressed, reserved maiden before him did not, in the
remotest degree, suggest a languishing heroine in days of yore,
certain to love against sense and reason. The wild, sylvan shade,
the June atmosphere, the fragrance of the eglantine, even the
presence of art, in whose potent traditions mood is the highest law,
could not dispel the nineteenth century or make this independent,
clear-headed American girl forget for a moment what was sensible
and right. She stood there alone under the shadow of the chestnuts,
and by a glance defined her rights, her position towards her companion,
and made him respect them. Nor was he headlong, passionate, absurd.
He was a part of his age, and was familiar with New York society.
The primal instincts of his nature had obtained ascendency for
a mordent.  Ardent words to the beautiful girl who looked over
his shoulder and inspired his touch seemed as natural as breath.
She had made herself for the moment a part of his enthusiasm. But
what could be the sequel of ardent words, even if successful, but
prosaic explanations and the facing of the inexorable problem of
supporting two on an income that scarcely sufficed for the Bohemian
life of one?

He had sufficient self-control, and was mentally agile enough to
come down upon his feet. Rising, he said, quietly: "If you will be
my muse, as far as many other claims upon your time and thoughts
permit, I shall be very grateful. I have observed that you have
a good eye for harmony in color, and, what is best of all, I have
induced you to be very frank. See how much you have helped me. In
brief--Bless me! how long have you been here?"

He pulled out his watch in comic dismay, and held it towards her.
"No lunch for us to-day," he concluded, ruefully.

"Well," exclaimed Marian, laughing, "this is the first symptom
I have ever had of being an artist. It was quite natural that you
should forget the needs of sublunary mortals, but that I should do
so must prove the existence of an undeveloped trait. I could become
quite absorbed in art if I could look on and see its wonders like
a child. You must come home with me and take your chance. If lunch
is over, we'll forage."

He laughingly shouldered his apparatus, and walked by her side
through the June sunshine and shade, she in the main keeping up
the conversation. At last he said, rather abruptly: "Miss Vosburgh,
you do not look on like a child,--rather, with more intelligence
than very many society girls possess; and--will you forgive me?--you
defend yourself like a genuine American woman. I have lived abroad,
you know, and have learned how to value such women. I wish you to
know how much I respect you, how truly I appreciate you, and how
grateful and honored I shall feel if you will be simply a frank,
kind friend. You made use of the expression 'How shall I make
you understand?' So I now use it, and suggest what I mean by a
question,--Is there not something in a man's nature which enables
him to do better if some woman, in whom he believes, shows that
she cares?"

"I should be glad if this were true of some men," she said, gently,
"because I do care. I'll be frank, too. Nothing would give me a
more delicious sense of power than to feel that in ways I scarcely
understood I was inciting my friends to make more of themselves
than they would if they did not know me. If I cannot do a little
of what you suggest, of what account am I to my friends?"

"Your friends can serve a useful purpose by amusing you."

"Then the reverse is true, and I am merely amusing to my friends.
Is that the gist of your fine words, after all?" and her face
flushed as she asked the question.

"No, it is not true, Miss Vosburgh. You have the power of entertaining
your friends abundantly, but you could make me a better artist,
and that with me would mean a better man, if you took a genuine
interest in my efforts."

"I shall test the truth of your words," was her smiling response.
"Meanwhile you can teach me to understand art better, so that I
shall know what I am talking about." Then she changed the subject.



CHAPTER IX.

A GIRL'S LIGHT HAND.



ON the evening of the 3d of July Marian drove down in her phaeton
to the station for her father, and was not a little surprised to
see him advancing towards her with Mr. Lane. The young man shook
hands with her cordially, yet quietly, and there was something in
his expression that assured her of the groundlessness of all the
fears she had entertained.

"I have asked Mr. Lane to dine with us," said her father. "He will
walk over from the hotel in the course of half an hour."

While the gentlemen had greeted her smilingly, there had been an
expression on their faces which suggested that their minds were
not engrossed by anticipation of a holiday outing. Marian knew well
what it meant. The papers had brought to every home in the land the
tidings of the awful seven days' fighting before Richmond. So far
from taking the city, McClellan had barely saved his army. Thousands
of men were dead in the swamps of the Chickahominy; thousands were
dying in the sultry heat of the South and on the malarial banks of
the James.

Mr. Vosburgh's face was sad and stern in its expression, and when
Marian asked, "Papa, is it so bad as the papers say?" he replied:
"God only knows how bad it is. For a large part of our army it is
as bad as it can be. The most terrible feature of it all to me is
that thick-headed, blundering men are holding in their irresolute
hands the destinies of just such brave young fellows as Mr. Lane
here. It is not so dreadful for a man to die if his death furthers
a cause which he believes to be sacred, but to die from the sheer
stupidity and weakness of his leaders is a bitter thing. Instead of
brave action, there is fatal blundering all along the line. For a
long time the President, sincere and true-hearted as he is, could
not learn that he is not a military man, and he has permitted a
large part of our armies to be scattered all over Virginia. They
have accomplished next to nothing. McClellan long since proved that
he would not advance without men enough to walk over everything.
He is as heavy as one of his own siege guns. He may be sure, if he
has all he wants, but is mortally slow, and hadn't brains enough
to realize that the Chickahominy swamps thinned his army faster
than brave fighting. He should have been given the idle, useless
men under McDowell and others, and then ordered to take Richmond.
If he wouldn't move, then they should have put a man in his place
who would, and not one who would sit down and dig. At last he has
received an impetus from Richmond, instead of Washington, and he
has moved at a lively pace, but to the rear. His men were as brave
as men could be; and if the courage shown on the retreat, or change
of base, as some call it, had been manifested in an advance, weeks
ago, Richmond would have been ours. The 'change of base' has carried
us well away from the point attacked, brave men have suffered and
died in vain, and the future is so clouded that only one thing is
certain."

"What is that, papa?" was the anxious query.

"We must never give up. We must realize that we are confronting
some of the best soldiers and generals the world has known. The
North is only half awake to its danger and the magnitude of its task.
We have sent out comparatively few of our men to do a disagreeable
duty for us, while we take life comfortably and luxuriously as
before. The truth will come home to us soon, that we are engaged
in a life-and-death struggle."

"Papa, these events will bring no changes to you? In your work, I
mean?"

"Not at present. I truly believe, Marian, that I can serve my country
more effectively in the performance of the duties with which I am
now charged. But who can tell what a day will bring forth? Lane is
going to the front. He will tell you all about it. He is a manly
fellow, and no doubt will explain why you have not heard from him."

"Real life has come in very truth," thought Marian, as she went to
her room to prepare for dinner; "but on every side it also brings
the thought of death."

Her face was pale, and clouded with apprehension, when she joined
the gentlemen; but Lane was so genial and entertaining at dinner
as to make it difficult for her to believe that he had resolved on
a step so fraught with risk. When at last they were alone in the
drawing-room she said, "Is it true that you intend to enter the
army?"

"Yes, and it is time that it was true," was his smiling reply.

"I don't feel like laughing, Mr. Lane. Going to Virginia does not
strike me as a pleasure excursion. I have thought a great deal
since I saw you last. You certainly have kept your promise to be
a distant and absent friend."

He looked at her eagerly, as he said, "You have thought a great
deal--have you thought about me?"

"Certainly," she replied, with a slight flush; "I meant all that
I said that evening."

That little emphasized word dispelled the hope that had for a moment
asserted itself. Time and a better acquaintance with her own heart
had not brought any change of feeling to her, and after a moment
he said, quietly: "I think I can prove that I have been a sincere
and loyal friend as well as an absent one. Having never felt--well,
you cannot know--it takes a little time for a fellow to--pardon
me; let all that go. I have tried to gain self-control, and I have
obeyed your request, to do nothing rash, literally. I remained
steadily at work in my office a certain number of hours every
day. If the general hope that Richmond would be taken, and the war
practically ended, had proved well founded, for the sake of others
I should have resisted my inclination to take part in the struggle.
I soon concluded, however, that it would be just as well to prepare
for what has taken place, and so gave part of my afternoons and
evenings to a little useful training. I am naturally very fond
of a horse, and resolved that if I went at all it should be as a
cavalry-man, so I have been giving not a little of my time to horseback
exercise, sabre, pistol, and carbine practice, and shall not be
quite so awkward as some of the other raw recruits. I construed
McClellan's retreat into an order for me to advance, and have come
to you as soon as I could to report progress."

"Why could you not have come before?--why could you not have told
me?" she asked, a little reproachfully.

"Some day perhaps you will know," he replied, turning away for a
moment.

"I feared that maturer thought had convinced you that I could not
be much of a friend,--that I was only a gay young girl who wouldn't
appreciate an earnest man's purposes."

"Miss Marian, you wrong me in thinking that I could so wrong you.
Never for a moment have I entertained such a thought. I can't explain
to you all my experience. I wished to be more sure of myself, to
have something definite to tell you, that would prove me more worthy
of your friendship."

"My faith in you has never faltered a moment, Mr. Lane. While your
words make me proud indeed, they also make me very sad. I don't
wonder that you feel as you do about going, and were I a man
I should probably take the same course. But I am learning at last
what this war means. I can't with a light heart see my friends go."

"Let it be with a brave heart, then. There are tears in your eyes,
Miss Marian."

"Why should there not be? O Mr. Lane, I am not coldhearted and
callous. I am not so silly and shallow as I seemed."

"I never thought you so--"

By a gesture she stopped him, as she continued: "I recognized the
expression on papa's face and yours the moment I saw you, and I
know what it means."

"Yes, Miss Marian; and I recognize the expression on your face.
Were you a man you would have gone before this."

"I think it would be easier to go than to stay and think of all
one's friends must face."

"Of course it would be for one like you. You must not look on the
dark side, however. You will scarcely find a jollier set of men
than our soldiers."

"I fear too many are reckless. This you have promised me not to
be."

"I shall keep my promise; but a soldier must obey orders, you know.
O Miss Marian, it makes such a difference with me to know that you
care so much! Knowing you as I do now, it would seem like black
treason to do or be anything unmanly."

Callers were now announced, and before an hour had passed there
were half a dozen or more young men in the drawing-room. Some were
staying at the hotel, but the majority were from the villas in the
neighborhood, the holiday season permitting the return of those
in business. However dark and crimson might be the tide of thought
that flowed through the minds of those present, in memory of what
had occurred during the last few days, the light of mirth played
on the surface. The times afforded themes for jest, rather than
doleful predictions. Indeed, in accordance with a principle in human
nature, there was a tendency to disguise feelings and anxiety by
words so light as to border on recklessness. Questions as to future
action were coming home to all the young men, but not for the world
would they permit one another, or especially a spirited young girl,
to suspect that they were awed, or made more serious even, by the
thought that the battle was drawing nearer to them. Lane was a
leader in the gayety. His presence was regarded by some with both
surprise and surmise. It had been thought that he had disappeared
finally below Miss Vosburgh's horizon, but his animated face and
manner gave no indication of a rejected and despondent suitor.

The mirth was at its height when Strahan entered, dressed plainly
in the uniform of a second lieutenant. He was greeted with a shout
of laughter by the young men, who knew him well, and by a cordial
pressure from Marian's hand. This made the gauntlet which he knew
he must run of little consequence to him. All except Lane drew up
and gave him a military salute.


"Pretty fair for the awkward squad," he remarked, coolly.

"Come, report, report," cried several voices; "where have you been?"

"In Virginia."

"Why, of course, fellows, he's been arranging the change of base
with McClellan, only the army went south and he came north."

"I've been farther south than any of you."

"See here, Strahan, this uniform is rather new for a veteran's."

"Yes; never dealt in old clothes."

"Where's your command?"

"Here, if you'll all enlist. I think I could make soldiers of some
of you."

"Why, fellows, what a chance for us! If Strahan can't teach us the
etiquette of war, who can?"

"Yes, gentlemen; and I will give you the first rule in advance.
Always face the music."

"Dance music, you mean. Strahan has been at West Point and knows
that a fellow in civilian togs stands no chance. How he eclipses
us all to-night with the insignia of rank on his shoulders! Where
will you make headquarters?"

"At home, for the present."

"That's right. We knew you would hit upon the true theory
of campaigning. Never was there a better strategic point for your
operations, Strahan, than the banks of the Hudson."

"I shall try to prove you right. A recruiting sergeant will join
me in a day or two, and then I can accommodate you all with muskets."

"All? Not Miss Marian?"

"Those possessing her rank and influence do not carry muskets."

"Come, fellows, let us celebrate the 4th by enlisting under Strahan,"
cried the chief spokesman, who was not a very friendly neighbor of
the young officer. "It won't be long before we shall know all the
gossip of the Confederacy."

"You will certainly have to approach near enough to receive some
very direct news."

"Gentlemen," cried Marian, "a truce! Mr. Strahan has proved that
he can face a hot fire, and send back good shots, even when greatly
outnumbered. I have such faith in him that I have already given him
my colors. You may take my word for it that he will render a good
account of himself. I am now eager to hear of his adventures."

"I haven't had any, Miss Marian. What I said about Virginia was
mere bluff,--merely made an excursion or two on the Virginia side
of the Potomac, out of curiosity."

"But what does this uniform mean?"

"Merely what it suggests. I went to Washington, which is a great
camp, you know. Through relatives I had some influence there, and
at last obtained a commission at the bottom of the ladder in a new
regiment that is to be recruited. Meanwhile I was put through the
manual of arms, with a lot of other awkward fellows, by a drill
officer. I kept shady and told my people to be mum until something
came out of it all. Come, fellows, thirteen dollars a month, hard
tack, and glory! Don't all speak at once!"

"I'm with you as far as going is concerned," said Lane, shaking
Strahan's hand warmly, "only I've decided on the cavalry."

"Were I a man, you should have one recruit for your regiment to-night,"
said Marian. "You have gone to work in a way that inspires confidence."

"I foresee, fellows, that we shall all have to go, or else Miss
Marian will cross us out of her books," remarked one of the young
men.

"No, indeed," she replied. "I would not dare urge any one to go.
But those who, like Mr. Lane and Mr. Strahan, decide the question
for themselves, cannot fail to carry my admiration with them."

"That's the loudest bugle call I expect to hear," remarked Mr.
Blauvelt, who entered at that moment.

"Here's the place to open your recruiting-office," added another,
laughing. "If Miss Marian would be free with her colors, she could
raise a brigade."

"I can assure you beforehand that I shall not be free with them;
much less will I hold them out as an inducement. Slight as may be
their value, they must be earned."

"What chivalrous deed has Strahan performed?" was asked, in chorus.

"One that I appreciate, and I don't give my faith lightly,"

"Mr. Strahan, I congratulate you," said Lane, with a swift and
somewhat reproachful glance at Marian; "you have already achieved
your best laurels."

"I've received them, but not earned them yet. Miss Marian gives a
fellow a good send-off, however, and time will tell the story with
us all. I must now bid you good-evening," he said to the young
girl. "I merely stopped for a few moments on my way from the train."

She followed him to the door, and said, sotto voce: "You held your
own splendidly. Your first report is more than satisfactory;" and
he departed happier than any major-general in the service.

When the rest had gone, Lane, who had persistently lingered, began:
"No doubt it will appear absurd to you that a friend should be
jealous. But Strahan seems to have won the chief honors."

"Perhaps he has deserved them, Mr. Lane. I know what your opinion
of him was, and I think you guessed mine. He has won the chief battle
of life,--victory over himself. Ever since I have known you, you
have inspired my respect as a strong, resolute man. In resolving
upon what you would do instinctively Mr. Strahan has had such a
struggle that he has touched my sympathies. One cannot help feeling
differently toward different friends, you know. Were I in trouble,
I should feel that I could lean upon you. To encourage and sustain
would always be my first impulse with Mr. Strahan. Are you content?"

"I should try to be, had I your colors also."

"Oh, I only gave him a rose. Do you want one?"

"Certainly."

"Well, now you are even," she said, laughing, and handing him one
of those she wore.

He looked at it thoughtfully for a moment, and then said, quietly:
"Some would despise this kind of thing as the merest sentiment.
With others it would influence the sternest action and the supreme
moments of life."



CHAPTER X.

WILLARD MERWYN.



DURING her drives Marian had often passed the entrance to one of
the finest old places in the vicinity, and, although aware that the
family was absent in Europe, she had observed that the fact made
no difference in the scrupulous care of that portion of the grounds
which was visible. The vista from the road, however, was soon lost
among the boles and branches of immense overshadowing oaks. Even to
the passer-by an impression of seclusion and exclusion was given,
and Marian at last noted that no reference was made to the family
in the social exchanges of her little drawing-room. The dwelling
to which the rather stiff and stately entrance led was not visible
from the car-windows as she passed to and from the city, so abrupt
was the intervening bluff, but upon one occasion from the deck of
a steamboat she had caught glimpses through the trees of a large
and substantial brick edifice.

Before Strahan had disappeared for a time, as we have related, her
slight curiosity had so far asserted itself that she had asked for
information concerning the people who left their beautiful home
untenanted in June.

"I fancy I can tell you more about them than most people in this
vicinity, but that is not so very much. The place adjoins ours,
and as a boy I fished and hunted with Willard Merwyn a good deal.
Mrs.  Merwyn is a widow and a Southern-bred woman. A Northern man
of large wealth married her, and then she took her revenge on the
rest of the North by having as little to do with it as possible.
She was said to own a large property in the South,--plantation,
negroes, and all that. The place on the Hudson belonged to the
Merwyn side of the house, and the family have only spent a few
summers here and have been exclusive and unpopular. My mother made
their acquaintance abroad, and they knew it would be absurd to put
on airs with us; so the ladies of the two families have exchanged
more or less formal visits, but in the main they have little to do
with the society of this region. As boys Willard and myself did not
care a fig for these things, and became very good friends. I have
not seen him for several years; they have all been abroad; and I
hear that he has become an awful swell."

"Why then, if he ever returns, you and he will be good friends
again," Marian had laughingly replied and had at once dismissed
the exclusive Merwyns from her mind.

On the morning of the 4th of July Strahan had come over to have a
quiet talk with Marian, and had found Mr. Lane there before him.
By feminine tactics peculiarly her own, Marian had given them to
understand that both were on much the same footing, and that their
united presence did not form "a crowd;" and the young men, having
a common ground of purpose and motive, were soon at ease together,
and talked over personal and military matters with entire freedom,
amusing the young girl with accounts of their awkwardness in drill
and of the scenes they had witnessed. She was proud indeed of her
two knights, as she mentally characterized them,--so different,
yet both now inspiring a genuine liking and respect. She saw that
her honest goodwill and admiration were evoking their best manhood
and giving them as much happiness as she would ever have the power
to bestow, and she felt that her scheme of life was not a false
one.  They understood her fully, and knew that the time had passed
forever when she would amuse herself at their expense. She had
become an inspiration of manly endeavor, and had ceased to be the
object of a lover's pursuit. If half-recognized hopes lurked in
their hearts, the fulfilment of these must be left to time.

"By the way," remarked Strahan, as he was taking his leave, "I hear
that these long-absent Merwyns have deigned to return to their native
land,--for their own rather than their country's good though, I
fancy. I suppose Mrs. Merwyn feels that it is time she looked after
her property and maintained at least the semblance of loyalty.  I
also hear that they have been hob-nobbing with the English aristocracy,
who look upon us Yankees as a 'blasted lot of cads, you know.'
Shall I bring young Merwyn over to see you after he arrives?"

"As you please," she replied, with an indifferent shrug.

Strahan had a half-formed scheme in his mind, but when he called
upon young Merwyn he was at first inclined to hesitate. Great as
was his confidence in Marian, he had some vaguely jealous fears,
more for the young girl than for himself, in subjecting her to the
influence of the man that his boyhood's friend had become.

Willard Merwyn was a "swell" in Strahan's vernacular, but even in
the early part of their interview he gave the impression of being
something more, or rather such a superior type of the "swell" genus,
that Marian's friend was conscious of a fear that the young girl
might be dazzled and interested, perhaps to her sorrow.

Merwyn had developed into a broad-shouldered man, nearly six feet
in height. His quiet, courteous elegance did not disguise from one
who had known him so well in boyhood an imperious, self-pleasing
nature, and a tenacity of purpose in carrying out his own desires.
He accepted of his quondam friend's uniform without remark. That
was Strahan's affair and not his, and by a polite reserve, he made
the mercurial fellow feel that his affairs were his own. Strahan
chafed under this polished reticence, this absence of all curiosity.

"Blast him!" thought the young officer, "he acts like a superior
being, who has deigned to visit America to look after his rents,
and intimates that the country has no further concern with him or
he with it. Jove! I'd give all the pay I ever expect to get to see
him a rejected suitor of my plucky little American girl;" and he
regarded his host with an ill-disposed eye. At last he resolved to
take the initiative boldly.

"How long do you expect to remain here, Merwyn?"

"I scarcely know. It depends somewhat on my mother's plans."

"Thunder! It's time you had plans of your own, especially when a
man has your length of limb and breadth of chest."

"I have not denied the possession of plans," Merwyn quietly remarked,
his dark eye following the curling, upward flight of smoke from
his cigar.

"You certainly used to be decided enough sometimes, when I wanted
you to pull an oar."

"And you so good-naturedly let me off," was the reply, with a slight
laugh.

"I didn't let you off good-naturedly, nor do I intend to now. Good
heavens, Merwyn! don't you read the papers? There's a chance now
to take an oar to some purpose. You were brave enough as a boy."

Merwyn's eyes came down from the curling smoke to Strahan's face
with a flash, and he rose and paced the room for a moment, then
said, in his old quiet tones, "They say the child is father of the
man."

"Oh well, Merwyn," was the slightly irritable rejoinder, "I have
and ever had, you remember, a way of expressing my thoughts. If,
while abroad, you have become intolerant of that trait, why, the
sooner we understand each other the better. I don't profess to be
anything more than an American, and I called to-day with no other
motive than the obvious and natural one."

A shade of annoyance passed over Merwyn's face, but as Strahan
ceased he came forward and held out his hand, saying: "I like you
all the better for speaking your thoughts,--for doing just as you
please. You must be equally fair and yield to me the privilege of
keeping my thoughts, and doing as I please."

Strahan felt that there was nothing to do but to take the proffered
hand, so irresistible was the constraint of his host's courtesy,
although felt to be without warmth or cordiality. Disguising his
inward protest by a light laugh he said: "I could shake hands with
almost any one on such a mutual understanding. Well, since we have
begun on the basis of such absolute frankness on my part, my next
thought is, What shall be our relations while you are here? I am a
busier fellow than I was at one time, and my stay is also uncertain,
and sure to be brief. I do not wish to be unneighborly in remembrance
of old times, nor do I wish to be obtrusive. In the natural order
of things, I should show you, a comparative stranger, some attention,
inform you about the natives and transient residents, help you
amuse yourself, and all that. But I have not the slightest desire
to make unwelcome advances. I have plenty of such in prospect south
of Mason and Dixon's line."

Merwyn laughed with some heartiness as he said: "You have attained
one attribute of a soldier assuredly,--bluntness. Positively,
Strahan, you have developed amazingly. Why, only the other day we
were boys squabbling to determine who should have the first shot
at an owl we saw in the mountains. The result was, the owl took
flight.  You never gave in an inch to me then, and I liked you all
the better for it. Come now, be reasonable. I yield to you your
full right to be yourself; yield as much to me and let us begin
where we left off, with only the differences that years have made,
and we shall get on as well as ever."

"Agreed," said Strahan, promptly. "Now what can I do for you? I
have only certain hours at my disposal."

"Well," replied Merwyn, languidly, "come and see me when you can,
and I'll walk over to your quarters--I suppose I should so call
them--and have a smoke with you occasionally. I expect to be awfully
dull here, but between the river and the mountains I shall have
resources."

"You propose to ignore society then?"

"Why say 'ignore'? That implies a conscious act. Let us suppose
that society is as indifferent to me as I to it."

"There's a little stutterer down at the hotel who claims to be an
English lord."

"Bah, Strahan! I hope your sword is sharper than your satire. I've
had enough of English lords for the present."

"Yes, Merwyn, you appear to have had enough of most things,--perhaps
too much. If your countrymen are uninteresting, you may possibly
wish to meet some of your countrywomen. I've been abroad enough to
know that you have never found their superiors."

"Well, that depends upon who my countrywoman is. I should prefer
to see her before I intrude--"

"Risk being bored, you mean."

"As you please. Fie, Strahan! you are not cultivating a soldier's
penchant for women?"

"It hasn't needed any cultivating. I have my opinion of a man who
does not admire a fine woman."

"So have I, only each and all must define the adjective for
themselves."

"It has been defined for me. Well, my time is up. We'll be two
friendly neutral powers, and, having marked out our positions, can
maintain our frontiers with diplomatic ease. Good-morning."

Merwyn laughingly accompanied his guest to the door, but on the
piazza, they met Mrs. Merwyn, who involuntarily frowned as she saw
Strahan's uniform, then with quiet elegance she greeted the young
man. But he had seen her expression, and was somewhat formal.

"We shall hope to see your mother and sisters before long," the
lady remarked.

Strahan bowed, and walked with military erectness down the avenue,
his host looking after him with cynical and slightly contemptuous
good-nature; but Mrs. Merwyn followed the receding figure with an
expression of great bitterness.

Her appearance was that of a remarkable woman. She was tall, and
slight; every motion was marked by grace, but it was the grace of
a person accustomed to command. One would never dream of woman's
ministry when looking at her. Far more than would ever be true of
Marian she suggested power, but she would govern through her will,
her pride and prejudices. The impress of early influences had sunk
deep into her character. The only child of a doting father, she
had ruled him, and, of course, the helpless slaves who had watched
her moods and trembled at her passion. There were scars on human
backs to-day, which were the results of orders from her girlish
lips. She was not greatly to blame. Born of a proud and imperious
ancestry, she had needed the lessons of self-restraint and gentleness
from infancy. Instead, she had been absolute, even in the nursery;
and as her horizon had widened it had revealed greater numbers to
whom her will was law. From childhood she had passed into maidenhood
with a dower of wealth and beauty, learning early, like Marian,
that many of her own race were willing to become her slaves.

In the South there is a chivalric deference to women far exceeding
that usually paid to the sex at the North, and her appearance,
temperament, and position evoked that element to the utmost. He
knows little of human nature who cannot guess the result. Yet, by
a common contradiction, the one among her many suitors who won such
love as she could give was a Northern man as proud as herself. He
stood alone in his manner of approach, made himself the object of
her thoughts by piquing her pride, and met her varying moods by
a quiet, unvarying dignity that compelled her respect. The result
was that she yielded to the first man who would not yield undue
deference to her.

Mr. Merwyn employed his power charily, however, or rather with
principle. He quietly insisted on his rights; but as he granted hers
without a word, and never irritated her by small, fussy exactions,
good-breeding prevented any serious clashing of wills, and their
married life had passed in comparative serenity. As time elapsed
her will began, in many ways, to defer to his quieter and stronger
will, and then, as if life must teach her that there is no true
control except self-control, Mr. Merwyn died, and left her mistress
of almost everything except herself.

It must not be supposed, however, that her self-will was a
passionate, moody absolutism. She had outgrown that, and was too
well-bred ever to show much temper. The tendency of her mature
purposes and prejudices was to crystallize into a few distinct
forms. With the feminine logic of a narrow mind, she made her husband
an exception to the people among whom he had been born and bred.
Widowed, she gave her whole heart to the South. Its institutions,
habits, and social code were sacred, and all opponents thereof
sacrilegious enemies. To that degree that they were hostile, or
even unbelieving, she hated them.

During the years immediately preceding the war she had been abroad
superintending the education of Willard and two younger daughters,
and when hostilities began she was led to believe that she could
serve the cause better in England than on her remote plantation.
In her fierce partisanship, or rather perverted patriotism,--for
in justice it must be said that she knew no other country than the
South,--she was willing to send her son to Richmond. He thwarted
this purpose by quietly manifesting one of his father's traits.

"No," he said, "I will not fight against the section to which my
father belonged. To my mind it's a wretched political squabble at
best, and the politicians will settle it before long. I have my
life before me, and don't propose to be knocked on the head for
the sake of a lot of political John Smiths, North or South."

In vain she tried to fire his heart with dreams of Southern empire.
He had made up that part of himself derived from Northern birth--his
mind--and would not yield. Meantime his Southern, indolent,
pleasure-loving side was appealed to powerfully by aristocratic
life abroad, and he felt it would be the sheerest folly to abandon
his favorite pursuits. He was little more then than a graceful
animal, shrewd enough to know that his property was chiefly at the
North, and that it would be unwise to endanger it.

Mrs. Merwyn's self-interest and natural affection led her to yield
to necessity with fairly good grace. The course resolved upon
by Willard preserved her son and the property. When the South
had accomplished its ambitious dreams she believed she would have
skill enough to place him high among its magnates, while, if he
were killed in one of the intervening battles,--well, she was loyal
enough to incur the risk, but at heart she did not deeply regret
that she had escaped the probable sacrifice.

Thus time passed on, and she used her social influence in behalf
of her section, but guardedly, lest she should jeopardize the
interests of her children. In May of the year in which our story
opened, the twenty-first birthday of Willard occurred, and was
celebrated with befitting circumstance. He took all this quietly,
but on the morning of the day following he said to his mother:--

"You remember the provisions of my father's will. My share of the
property was to be transferred to me when I should become of age.
We ought to return to New York at once and have the necessary papers
made out."

In vain she protested that the property was well managed, that the
income was received regularly, that he could have this, and that
it would be intensely disagreeable for her to visit New York. He,
who had yielded indifferently to all her little exactions, was
inexorable, and the proud, self-willed woman found that he had so
much law and reason on his side that she was compelled to submit.

Indeed, she at last felt that she had been unduly governed by her
prejudices, and that it might be wise to go and see for themselves
that their affairs were managed to the best advantage. Deep
in her heart was also the consciousness that it was her husband's
indomitable will that she was carrying out, and that she could
never escape from that will in any exigency where it could justly
make itself felt. She therefore required of her son the promise
that their visit should be as unobtrusive as possible, and that
he would return with her as soon as he had arranged matters to his
mind. To this he had readily agreed, and they were now in the land
for which the mother had only hate and the son indifference.



CHAPTER XI.

AN OATH AND A GLANCE.



As Strahan disappeared in the winding of the avenue a sudden and
terrible thought occurred to Mrs. Merwyn. She glanced at her son,
who had walked to the farther end of the piazza, and stood for a
moment with his back towards her. His manly proportions made her
realize, as she had never done before, that he had attained his
majority,--that he was his own master. He had said he would not
fight against the North, but, as far as the South was concerned,
he had never committed himself. And then his terrible will!

She went to her room and thought. He was in a land seething with
excitement and patriotic fervor. She knew not what influences a
day might bring to bear upon him. Above all else she feared taunts
for lack of courage. She knew that her own passionate pride slept
in his breast and on a few occasions she had seen its manifestations.
As a rule he was too healthful, too well organized and indolent,
to be easily irritated, while in serious matters he had not been
crossed.  She knew enough of life to be aware that his manhood had
never been awakened or even deeply moved, and she was eager indeed
to accomplish their mission in the States and return to conditions
of life not so electrical.

In the mean time she felt that she must use every precaution. She
summoned a maid and asked that her son should be sent to her.

The young man soon lounged in, and threw himself into an easy chair.

His mother looked at him fixedly for a moment, and then asked, "Why
is young Strahan in THAT uniform?"

"I didn't ask him," was the careless reply. "Obviously, however,
because he has entered the service in some capacity."

"Did he not suggest that it would be a very proper thing for you
to do, also?"

"Oh, of course. He wouldn't be Strahan if he hadn't. He has a high
appreciation of a 'little brief authority,' especially if vested in
himself. Believing himself to be so heroic he is inclined to call
others to account."

"I trust you have rated such vaporings at their worth."

"I have not rated them at all. What do I care for little Strahan
or his opinions? Nil."

"Shall you see much of him while we are compelled to remain in this
detestable land?"

"More of him than of any one else, probably. We were boys together,
and he amuses me. What is more to the point, if I make a Union officer
my associate I disarm hostile criticism and throw an additional
safeguard around my property. There is no telling to what desperate
straits the Northern authorities may be reduced, and I don't propose
to give them any grounds for confiscation."

"You are remarkably prudent, Willard, for a young man of Southern
descent."

"I am of Northern descent also," he replied, with a light laugh.
"Father was as strong a Northern man--so I imagine--as you are a
Southern woman, and so, by a natural law, I am neutral, brought to
a standstill by two equal and opposite forces."

The intense partisan looked at him with perplexity, and for a moment
felt a strange and almost superstitious belief in his words. Was
there a reciprocal relation of forces which would render her schemes
futile? She shared in the secret hopes and ambitions of the Southern
leaders. Had Northern and Southern blood so neutralized the heart
of this youth that he was indifferent to both sections? and had she,
by long residence abroad, and indulgence, made him so cosmopolitan
that he merely looked upon the world as "his oyster"? She was
not the first parent who, having failed to instil noble, natural
principles in childhood, is surprised and troubled at the outcome
of a mind developing under influences unknown or unheeded. That
the South would be triumphant she never doubted a moment. It would
not merely achieve independence, but also a power that would grow
like the vegetation of its genial climate, and extend until the
tapering Isthmus of Panama became the national boundary of the
empire. But what part would be taken by this strange son who seemed
equally endowed with graceful indolence and indomitable will? Were
his tireless strength and energy to accomplish nothing better than
the climbing of distant mountains? and would he maintain indifference
towards a struggle for a dominion beyond Oriental dreams? Physically
and mentally he seemed capable of doing what he chose; practically
he chose to do what he pleased from hour to hour. Amusing himself
with a languid, good-natured disregard of what he looked upon as
trivial affairs, he was like adamant the moment a supreme and just
advantage was his. He was her husband over agaim, with strange
differences. What could she do at the present moment but the thing
she proposed to do?

"Willard," she said, slowly, and in a voice that pierced his
indifference, "have you any regard for me?"

"Certainly. Have I shown any want of respect?"

"That is not the question at all. You are young, Willard, and you
live in the future. I live much in the past. My early home was in
the South, where my family, for generations, has been eminent. Is
it strange, then, that I should love that sunny land?"

"No, mamma."

"Well, all I ask at present is that you will promise me never,
under any motive, to take up arms against that land of my ancestors."

"I have not the slightest disposition to do so."

"Willard, what to-day is, is. Neither you nor I know what shall be
on the morrow. I never expected to marry a Northern man, yet I did
so; nor should I regret it if I consulted my heart only. He was
different from all his race. I did not foresee what was coming,
or I could have torn my heart out before involving myself in these
Northern complications. I cannot change the past, but I must provide
for the future. O Willard, to your eyes your Northern fortune seems
large. But a few years will pass before you will be shown what
a trifle it is compared with the prizes of power and wealth that
will be bestowed upon loyal Southerners. You have an ancestry, an
ability, that would naturally place you among the foremost. Terrible
as would be the sacrifice on my part, I could still give you my
blessing if you imitated young Strahan in one respect, and devoted
yourself heart, soul, and sword to our cause."

"The probable result would be that you and my sisters would
be penniless, I sleeping in mud, and living on junk and hoe-cake.
Another result, probable, only a little more remote, is that the
buzzards would pick my bones. Faugh! Oh, no. I've settled that
question, and it's a bore to think a question over twice. There
are thousands of Americans in Europe. Their wisdom suits me until
this tea-pot tempest is over. If any one doubts my courage I'll
prove it fast enough, but, if I had my way, the politicians, North
and South, should do their own fighting and starving."

"But, Willard, our leaders are not mere politicians. They are men
of grand, far-reaching schemes, and when their plans are accomplished,
they will attain regal power and wealth."

"Visions, mamma, visions. I have enough of my father's blood in
my veins to be able to look at both sides of a question. Strahan
asked me severely if I did not read the papers;" and he laughed
lightly.  "Well, I do read them, at least enough of them to pick
out a few grains of truth from all the chaff. The North and South
have begun fighting like two bull-dogs, and it's just a question
which has the longer wind and the more endurance. The chances are
all in favor of the North. I shall not throw myself and property
away for the sake of a bare possibility. That's settled."

"Have you ice-water in your veins?" his mother asked, passionately.

"I have your blood, madam, and my father's, hence I am what I am."

"Well, then you must be a man of honor, of your word. Will you
promise never to take arms against the South?"

"I have told you I have no disposition to do so."

"The promise, then, can cost you little, and it will be a relief
to my mind."

"Oh, well, mamma, if it will make you feel any easier, I promise
with one exception. Both South and North must keep their hands off
the property my father gave me."

"If Southern leaders were dictating terms in New York City, as they
will, ere long, they would never touch your property."

"They had better not."

"You know what I mean, Willard. I ask you never to assume this
hated Northern uniform, or put your foot on Southern soil with a
hostile purpose."

"Yes, I can promise that."

"Swear it to me then, by your mother's honor and your father's
memory."

"Is not my word sufficient?"

"These things are sacred to me, and I wish them treated in a sacred
manner. If you will do this my mind will be at rest and I may be
able to do more for you in the future."

"To satisfy you, I swear never to put on the Northern uniform or
to enter the South with a hostile purpose."

She stepped forward and touched his forehead with her lips, as she
said: "The compact is sealed. Your oath is registered on earth and
in heaven. Your simple word as a man of honor will satisfy me as
to one other request. I wish you never to speak to any one of this
solemn covenant between us."

"I'm not in the habit of gossiping over family affairs," he replied,
haughtily.

"I know that, and also that your delicacy of feeling would keep
you from speaking of a matter so sacred to me. But I am older and
more experienced than you, and I shall feel safer if you promise.
You would not gossip about it, of course. You might refer to it
to some friend or to the woman who became your wife. I can foresee
complications which might make it better that it should be utterly
unknown. You little know how I dream and plan for you, and I only
ask you never to speak of this interview and its character to a
living soul."

"Certainly, mother, I can promise this. I should feel it small
business to babble about anything which you take so to heart. These
visions of empire occupy your mind and do no harm. I only hope you
will meet your disappointment philosophically. Good-by now till
lunch."

"Poor mamma!" thought the young man, as he started out for a walk;
"she rails against Northern fanatics, forgetting that it is just
possible to be a little fanatical on the Southern side of the line."

As he strode along in the sunshine his oath weighed upon him no
more than if he had promised not to go out in his sail-boat that
day.

At last, after surmounting a rather steep hill, he threw himself
on the grass under the shade of a tree. "It's going to be awfully
slow and stupid here," he muttered, "and it will be a month or
two before we can return. I hoped to be back in time to join the
Montagues in climbing Mont Blanc, and here I am tied up between
these mole-hill mountains and city law-offices. How shall I ever
get through with the time?"

A pony-phaeton, containing two ladies, appeared at the foot of
the hill and slowly approached. His eyes rested on it in languid
indifference, but, as it drew nearer, the younger of the two ladies
fixed his attention. Her charming summer costume at first satisfied
his taste, and, as her features became distinct, he was surprised
at their beauty, as he thought at first; but he soon felt that
animation redeemed the face from mere prettiness. The young girl
was talking earnestly, but a sudden movement of the horse caused
her to glance toward the road-side, and she encountered the dark
eyes of a stranger. Her words ceased instantly. A slight frown
contracted her brow, and, touching her horse with her whip, she
passed on rapidly.

"By Jove! Strahan is right. If I have many such countrywomen in
the neighborhood, I ought to find amusement."

He rose and sauntered after the phaeton, and saw that it turned in
at a pretty little cottage, embowered in vines and trees. Making a
mental note of the locality, he bent his steps in another direction,
laughing as he thought: "From that one glance I am sure that those
blue eyes will kindle more than one fellow before they are quenched.
I wonder if Strahan knows her. Well, here, perhaps, is a chance
for a summer lark. If Strahan is enamored I'd like to cut him out,
for by all the fiends of dulness I must find something to do."

Strahan had accepted an invitation to lunch at the Vosburghs' that
day, and arrived, hot and flushed, from his second morning's drill.

"Well!" he exclaimed, "I've seen the great Mogul."

"I believe I have also," replied Marian. "Has he not short and
slightly curly hair, dark eyes, and an impudent stare?"

"I don't recognize the 'stare' exactly. Merwyn is polite enough
in his way, and confound his way! But the rest of your description
tallies. Where did you see him?"

She explained.

"That was he, accomplishing his usual day's work. O ye dogs of war!
how I would like to have him in my squad one of these July days!
Miss Marian, I'd wear your shoe-tie in my cap the rest of my life,
if you would humble that fellow and make him feel that he never
spoke to a titled lady abroad who had not her equal in some American
girl. It just enrages me to see a New-York man, no better born than
myself, putting on such superior and indifferent airs. If he'd come
to me and say, 'Strahan, I'm a rebel, I'm going to fight and kill
you if I can,' I'd shake hands with him as I did not to-day. I'd
treat him like a jolly, square fellow, until we came face to face
in a fair fight, and then--the fortune of war. As it was, I felt
like taking him by the collar and shaking him out of his languid
grace.  He told me to mind my own business so politely that I
couldn't take offence, although he gave scarcely any other reason
than that he proposed to mind his. When I met his Southern mother
on the piazza, she looked at me in my uniform at first as if I had
been a toad.  They are rebels at heart, and yet they stand aloof and
sneer at the North, from which they derive protection and revenue.
I made his eyes flash once though," chuckled the young fellow in
conclusion.

Marian laughed heartily as she said: "Mr. Strahan, if you fight
as well as you talk, I foresee Southern reverses. You have no idea
how your indignation becomes you. 'As well-born,' did you say? Why,
my good friend, you are worth a wilderness of such lackadaisical
fellows. Ciphers don't count unless they stand after a significant
figure; neither do such men, unless stronger men use them."

"Your arithmetic is at fault, Miss Marian. Ciphers do have the
power of pushing a significant figure way back to the right of
the decimal point, and, as a practical fact, these elegant human
ciphers usually stand before good men and true in society. I don't
believe it would be so with you, but few of us would stand a chance
with most girls should this rich American, with his foreign airs
and graces, enter the lists against us."

In her sincerity and earnestness, she took his hand and said: "I
thank you for your tribute. You are right. Though this person had
the wealth of the Indies, and every external grace, he could not be
my friend unless he were a MAN. I've talked with papa a good deal,
and believe there are men in the Southern army just as honest and
patriotic as you are; but no cold-blooded, selfish betwixt-and-betweens
shall ever take my hand."

"Make me a promise," cried Strahan, giving the hand he held a hearty
and an approving shake.

"Well?"

"If opportunity offers, make this fellow bite the dust."

"We'll see about that. I may not think it worth the while, and I
certainly shall not compromise myself in the slightest degree."

"But if I bring him here you will be polite to him?"

"Just about as polite as he was to you, I imagine."

"Miss Marian, I wouldn't have any harm come to you for the wide
world. If--if anything should turn out amiss I'd shoot him, I
certainly would."

The girl's only answer was a merry peal of laughter.



CHAPTER XII.

"A VOW."



BENT, as was Strahan, upon his scheme of disturbing Merwyn's pride
and indifference, he resolved to permit several days to pass before
repeating his call. He also, as well as Marian, was unwilling
to compromise himself beyond a certain point, and it was his hope
that he might receive a speedy visit. He was not disappointed, for
on the ensuing day Merwyn sauntered up the Strahan avenue, and,
learning that the young officer had gone to camp, followed him
thither. The cold glance from the fair stranger in the phaeton dwelt
in his memory, and he was pleased to find that it formed sufficient
incentive to action.

Strahan saw him coming with a grim smile, but greeted him with
off-hand cordiality. "Sorry, Merwyn," he said, "I can give you only
a few moments before I go on duty."

"You are not on duty evenings?"

"Yes, every other evening."

"How about to-night?"

"At your service."

"Are you acquainted with the people who reside at a cottage--" and
he described Marian's abode.

"Yes."

"Who are they?"

"Mr. Vosburgh has rented the place as a summer residence for his
family. His wife and daughter are there usually, and he comes when
he can.

"And the daughter's name?"

"Miss Marian Vosburgh."

"Will you introduce me to her?"

"Certainly."

"I sha'n't be poaching on your grounds, shall I?"

"Miss Vosburgh honors me with her friendship,--nothing more."

"Is it so great an honor?"

"I esteem it as such."

"Who are they, anyway?"

"Well, as a family I regard them as my equals, and Miss Marian as
my superior."

"Oh come, Strahan, gossip about them a little."

The officer burst out laughing. "Well," he said, "for a man of your
phenomenal reticence you are asking a good many questions."

Merwyn colored slightly and blundered: "You know my motive, Strahan;
one does not care to make acquaintances that are not quite--" and
then the expression of his host's eyes checked him.

"I assure you the Vosburghs are 'QUITE,'" Strahan said, coldly. "Did
I not say they were my equals? You may esteem yourself fortunate
if Miss Vosburgh ever permits you to feel yourself to be her equal."

"Why, how so?" a little irritably.

"Because if a man has brains and discernment the more he sees of
her the more will he be inclined to doubt his equality."

Merwyn smiled in a rather superior way, and, with a light laugh,
said: "I understand, Strahan. A man in your plight ought to feel
in that way; at least, it is natural that he should. Now see here,
old fellow, I'll keep aloof if you say so."

"Why should you? You have seen few society queens abroad who
received so much and so varied homage as Miss Vosburgh. There are
half a dozen fellows there, more or less, every evening, and you
can take your chances among them."

"Oh, she's a bit of a coquette, then?"

"You must discover for yourself what she is," said the young man,
buckling on his sword. "She has my entire respect."

"You quite pique my curiosity. I'll drive in for you this evening."

At the hour appointed, Strahan, in civilian's dress, stepped into
Merwyn's carriage and was driven rapidly to the cottage. Throwing
the reins to a footman, the young fellow followed the officer with a
confidence not altogether well founded, as he soon learned. Many
guests were present, and Lane was among them. When Merwyn was
presented Marian was observed to bow merely and not give her hand,
as was her custom when a friend of hers introduced a friend. Some
of the residents in the vicinity exchanged significant smiles
when they saw that the fastidious and exclusive Willard Merwyn had
joined their circle. Mrs. Vosburgh, who was helping to entertain
the guests, recognized nothing in his presence beyond a new social
triumph for her daughter, and was very gracious. To her offices,
as hostess, he found himself chiefly relegated for a time.

This suited him exactly, since it gave him a chance for observation;
and certainly the little drawing-room, with its refined freedom,
was a revelation to him. Conversation, repartee, and jest were
unrestrained. While Lane was as gay as any present, Merwyn was
made to feel that he was no ordinary man, and it soon came out in
the natural flow of talk that he, too, was in the service. Merwyn
was introduced also to a captain of the regular army, and, whatever
he might think of these people, he instinctively felt that they
would no more permit themselves to be patronized than would the sons
of noble houses abroad. Indeed, he was much too adroit to attempt
anything of the kind, and, with well-bred ease, made himself at
home among them in general conversation.

Meanwhile, he watched Marian with increasing curiosity. To him she
was a new and very interesting type. He had seen no such vivacity
and freedom abroad, and his experience led him to misunderstand
her.  "She is of the genus American girl, middle class," he thought,
"who, by her beauty and the unconventionality of her drawing-room,
has become a quasi-belle. None of these men would think of marrying
her, unless it is little Strahan, and he wouldn't five years hence.
Yet she is piquant and fascinating after her style, a word and a
jest for each and all, and spoken with a sort of good-comradeship,
rather than with an if-you-please-sir air. I must admit, however,
that there is nothing loud in tone, word, or manner. She is as
delicate and refined as her own beauty, and, although this rather
florid mamma is present as chaperon, the scene and the actors are
peculiarly American. Well, I owe Strahan a good turn. I can amuse
myself with this girl without scruple."

At last he found an opportunity to say, "We have met once before,
I believe, Miss Vosburgh."

"Met? Where?"

"Where I was inclined to go to sleep, and you gave me such a charming
frown that I awakened immediately and took a long ramble."

"I saw a person stretched at lazy length under the trees yesterday.
You know the horror ladies have of intoxicated men on the road-side."

"Was that the impression I made? Thanks."

"The impression made was that we had better pass as quickly as
possible."

"You made a very different impression. Thanks to Strahan I am here
this evening in consequence, and am delighted that I came."

"'Delighted' is a strong word, Mr. Merwyn. Now that we are speaking
of impressions, mine is that years have elapsed since you were
greatly delighted at anything."

"What gives you such an impression?"

"Women can never account for their intuitions."

"Women? Do not use such an elderly word in regard to one appearing
as if just entering girlhood."

"O Mr. Merwyn! have you not learned abroad that girls of my age
are elderly indeed compared with men of yours?"

He bit his lip. "English girls are not so--"

"Fast?"

"I didn't say that. They certainly have not the vivacity and
fascination that I am discovering in your drawing-room."

"Why, Mr. Merwyn! one would think you had come to America on a voyage
of discovery, and were surprised at the first thing you saw."

"I think I could show you things abroad that would interest you."

"All Europe could not tempt me to go abroad at this time. In your
estimation I am not even a woman,--only a girl, and yet I have enough
girlhood to wish to take my little part in the events of the day."

He colored, but asked, quietly, "What part are you taking?"

"Such questions," she replied, with a merry, half-mocking flash of
her eyes, "I answer by deeds. There are those who know;" and then,
being addressed by Mr. Lane, she turned away, leaving him with
confused, but more decided sensations than he had known for a long
time.

His first impulse was to leave the house, but this course would
only subject him to ridicule on the part of those who remained.
After a moment or two of reflection he remembered that she had not
invited him, and that she had said nothing essentially rude. He had
merely chosen to occupy a position in regard to his country that
differed radically from hers, and she had done little more than
define her position.

"She is a Northern, as mamma is a Southern fanatic, with the
difference that she is a young, effervescing creature, bubbling
over with the excitement of the times," he thought. "That fellow in
uniform, and the society of men like Strahan and Lane, haye turned
her head, and she has not seen enough of life to comprehend a man
of the world. What do I care for her, or any here? Her briery talk
should only amuse me. When she learns more about who I am and what
I possess she will be inclined to imitate her discreet mamma and
think of the main chance; meanwhile I escape a summer's dulness
and ennui;" and so he philosophically continued his observations
and chatted with Mrs. Vosburgh and others until, with Strahan, he
took his departure, receiving from Marian a bow merely, while to
Strahan she gave her hand cordially.

"You seem to be decidedly in Miss Vosburgh's good graces," said
Merwyn, as they drove away.

"I told you she was my friend."

"Is it very difficult to become her friend?"

"Well, that depends. You should not find it difficult, since you
are so greatly my superior."

"Oh, come, Strahan."

"Pardon me, I forgot I was to express only my own thoughts, not
yours."

"You don't know my thoughts or circumstances. Come now, let us be
good comrades. I will begin by thanking you cordially for introducing me
to a charming young girl. I am sure I put on no airs this evening."

"They would not have been politic, Merwyn, and, for the life of
me, I can see no reason for them."

"Very well. Therefore you didn't see any. How like old times we
are!  We were always together, yet always sparring a little."

"You must take us as we are in these times," said Strahan, with a
light laugh, for he felt it would jeopardize his scheme, or hope
rather, if he were too brusque with his companion. "You see it is
hard for us to understand your cosmopolitan indifference. American
feeling just now is rather tense on both sides of the line, and if
you will recognize the fact you will understand us better."

"I think I am already aware of the fact. If Miss Vosburgh were of
our sex you would soon have another recruit."

"I'd soon have a superior officer, you mean."

"I fancy you are rather under her thumb already."

"It's a difficult position to attain, I assure you."

"How so?"

"I have observed that, towards a good many, Miss Vosburgh is quite
your equal in indifference."

"I like her all the better for that fact."

"So do I."

"How is it that you are so favored?"

"No doubt it seems strange to you. Mere caprice on her part,
probably."

"You misunderstand me. I would like to learn your tactics."

"Jove! I'd like to teach you. Come down to-morrow and I'll give
you a musket."

"You are incorrigible, Strahan. Do you mean that her good-will can
be won only at the point of the bayonet?"

"No one coached me. Surely you have not so neglected your education
abroad that you do not know how to win a lady's favor."

"You are a neutral, indeed."

"I wouldn't aid my own brother in a case of this kind."

"You are right; in matters of this kind it is every one for himself.
You offered to show me, a stranger, some attention, you know."

"Yes, Merwyn, and I'll keep my word. I will give you just as good
courtesy as I receive. The formalities have been complied with and
you are acquainted with Miss Vosburgh. You have exactly the same
vantage that I had at the start, and you certainly cannot wish for
more. If you wish for further introductions, count on me."

Merwyn parted from his plain-spoken companion, well content.
Strahan's promise to return all the courtesy he received left a
variable standard in Merwyn's hands that he could employ according
to circumstances or inclination. He was satisfied that his neighbor,
in accordance with a trait very common to young men, cherished for
Miss Vosburgh a chivalric and sentimental regard at which he would
smile when he became older. Merwyn, however, had a certain sense
of honor, and would not have attempted deliberately to supplant one
to whom he felt that he owed loyalty. His mind having been relieved
of all scruples of this character, he looked forward complacently
to the prospect of winning--what? He did not trouble himself to define
the kind of regard he hoped to inspire. The immediate purpose to
kill time, that must intervene before he could return to England,
was sufficient. There was promise of occupation, mild excitement,
and an amusing triumph, in becoming the foremost figure in Marian's
drawing-room.

There is scarcely need to dwell upon the events of a few subsequent
weeks and the gradual changes that were taking place. Life with
its small vicissitudes rarely results from deliberate action.
Circumstances, from day to day, color and shape it; yet beneath
the rippling, changing surface a great tide may be rising. Strahan
was succeeding fairly well in his recruiting service, and, making
allowances for his previous history, was proving an efficient
officer. Marian was a loyal, steadfast friend, reprimanding with
mirthful seriousness at times, and speaking earnest and encouraging
words at others. After all, the mercurial young fellow daily won her
increased respect and esteem. He had been promoted to a captaincy,
and such was the response of the loyal North, during that dreary
summer of disaster and confused counsels, that his company was nearly
full, and he was daily expecting orders for departure. His drill
ground had become the occasional morning resort of his friends, and
each day gave evidence of improved soldierly bearing in his men.

Merwyn thus far had characteristically carried out his plans to
"kill time." Thoroughly convinced of his comparative superiority,
he had been good-naturedly tolerant of the slow recognition accorded
to it by Marian. Yet he believed he was making progress, and the
fact that her favor was hard to win was only the more incitement.
If she had shown early and decided preference his occupation would
have been gone; for what could he have done in those initiatory
weeks of their acquaintance if her eyes and tones had said, "I am
ready to take you and your wealth"? The attitude she maintained,
although little understood, awakened a kind of respect, while the
barriers she quietly interposed aroused a keener desire to surmount
them. By hauteur and reserve at times he had made those with whom
he associated feel that his position in regard to the civil conflict
was his own affair. Even Marian avoided the subject when talking
with him, and her mother never thought of mentioning it. Indeed,
that thrifty lady would have been rather too encouraging had not
her daughter taken pains to check such a spirit. At the same time
the young girl made it emphatically understood that discussion of
the events of the war should be just as free when he was present
as when he was absent.

Yet in a certain sense he was making progress, in that he awakened
anger on her part, rather than indifference. If she was a new type
to him so was he to her, and she found her thoughts reverting to him
in hostile analysis of his motives and character. She had received
too much sincere homage and devotion not to detect something cynical
and hollow in his earlier attentions. She had seen glances toward
her mother, and had caught in his tones an estimate which, however
true, incensed her greatly. Her old traits began to assert themselves,
and gradually her will accorded with Strahan's hope. If, without
compromising herself, she could humble this man, bringing him to
her feet and dismissing him with a rather scornful refusal, such an
exertion of power would give her much satisfaction. Yet her pride,
as well as her principle, led her to determine that he should sue
without having received any misleading favor on her part.

Merwyn had never proposed to sue at all, except in the way of
conventional gallantry. For his own amusement he had resolved to
become her most intimate and familiar friend, and then it would
be time to go abroad. If false hopes were raised it would not much
matter; Strahan or some one else would console her. He admitted
that his progress was slow, and her reserve hard to combat. She
would neither drive nor sail with him unless she formed one of a
party.  Still in this respect he was on the same footing with her
best friends. One thing did trouble him, however; she had never
given him her hand, either in greeting or in parting.

At last he brought about an explanation that disturbed his equanimity
not a little. He had called in the morning, and she had chatted
charmingly with him on impersonal matters, pleasing him by her
intelligent and gracefully spoken ideas on the topics broached.
As a society girl she met him on this neutral ground without the
slightest restraint or embarrassment. As he also talked well she had
no scruple in enjoying a pleasure unsought by herself, especially
as it might lead to the punishment which she felt that he deserved.
Smilingly she had assured herself, when he was announced, "If he's
a rebel at heart, as I've been told, I've met the enemy before
either Mr. Lane or Mr. Strahan."

When Merwyn rose to take his leave he held out his hand and said:
"I shall be absent two or three days. In saying good-by won't you
shake hands?"

She laughingly put her hands behind her back and said, "I can't."

"Will not, you mean?"

"No, I cannot. I've made a vow to give my hand only to my own
friends and those of my country."

"Do you look upon me as an enemy?"

"Oh, no, indeed."

"Then not as a friend?"

"Why, certainly not, Mr. Merwyn. You know that you are not my
friend. What does the word mean?"

"Well," said he, flushing, "what does it mean?"

"Nothing more to me than to any other sincere person. One uses
downright sincerity with a friend, and would rather harm himself
than that friend."

"Why is not this my attitude towards you?"

"You, naturally, should know better than I."

"Indeed, Miss Vosburgh, you little know the admiration you have
excited," he said, gallantly.

An inscrutable smile was her only response.

"That, however, has become like the air you breathe, no doubt."

"Not at all. I prize admiration. What woman does not? But there
are as many kinds of admiration as there are donors."

"Am I to infer that mine is of a valueless nature?"

"Ask yourself, Mr. Merwyn, just what it is worth."

"It is greater than I have ever bestowed upon any one else," he
said, hastily; for this tilt was disturbing his self-possession.

Again she smiled, and her thought was, "Except yourself."

He, thinking her smile incredulous, resumed: "You doubt this?"

"I cannot help thinking that you are mistaken."

"How can I assure you that I am not?"

"I do not know. Why is it essential that I should be so assured?"

He felt that he was being worsted, and feared that she had detected
the absence of unselfish good-will and honest purpose toward her. He
was angry with himself and her because of the dilemma in which he
was placed. Yet what could he say to the serene, smiling girl before
him, whose unflinching blue eyes looked into his with a keenness
of insight that troubled him? His one thought now was to achieve
a retreat in which he could maintain the semblance of dignity and
good breeding.

With a light and deferential laugh he said: "I am taught, unmistakably,
Miss Vosburgh, that my regard, whatever it may be, is of little
consequence to you, and that it would be folly for me to try to
prove a thing that would not interest you if demonstrated. I feel,
however, that one question is due to us both,--Is my society a
disagreeable intrusion?"

"If it had been, Mr. Merwyn, you would have been aware of the fact
before this. I have enjoyed your conversation this morning."

"I hope, then, that in the future I can make a more favorable
impression, and that in time you will give me your hand."

Her blue eyes never left his face as he spoke, and they grew dark
with a meaning that perplexed and troubled him. She merely bowed
gravely and turned away.

Never had his complacency been so disturbed. He walked homeward with
steps that grew more and more rapid, keeping pace with his swift,
perturbed thoughts. As he approached his residence he yielded to
an impulse; leaped a wall, and struck out for the mountains.



CHAPTER XIII.

A SIEGE BEGUN.



"EITHER she is seeking to enhance her value, or else she is not the
girl I imagined her to be at all," was Willard Merwyn's conclusion
as he sat on a crag high upon the mountain's side. "Whichever
supposition is true, I might as well admit at once that she is the
most fascinating woman I ever met. She IS a woman, as she claims to
be. I've seen too many mere girls not to detect their transparent
deceits and motives at once. I don't understand Marian Vosburgh;
I only half believe in her, but I intend to learn whether there is
a girl in her station who would unhesitatingly decline the wealth
and position that I can offer. Not that I have decided to offer
these as yet, by any means, for I am in a position to marry wealth
and rank abroad; but this girl piques my curiosity, stirs my blood,
and is giving wings to time. At this rate the hour of our departure
may come before I am ready for it. I was mistaken in one respect
the first evening I met her. Lane, as well as Strahan and others,
would marry her if they could. She might make her choice from almost
any of those who seek her society, and she is not the pretty little
Bohemian that I imagined. Either none of them has ever touched her
heart, or else she knows her value and vantage, and she means to
make the most of them. If she knew the wealth and position I could
give her immediately, would not these certainties bring a different
expression into her eyes? I am not an ogre, that she should shrink
from me as the only incumbrance."

Could he have seen the girl's passion after he left her he would
have understood her dark look at their parting. Hastily seeking
her own room she locked the door to hide the tears of anger and
humiliation that would come.

"Well," she cried, "I AM punished for trifling with others. Here
is a man who seeks me in my home for no other purpose than his own
amusement and the gratification of his curiosity. He could not deny
it when brought squarely to the issue. He could not look me in the
eyes and say that he was my honest friend. He would flirt with me,
if he could, to beguile his burdensome leisure; but when I defined
what some are to me, and more would be, if permitted, he found no
better refuge than gallantry and evasion. What can he mean? what
can he hope except to see me in his power, and ready to accept any
terms he may choose to offer? O Arthur Strahan! your wish now is
wholly mine. May I have the chance of rejecting this man as I never
dismissed one before!"

It must not be supposed that Willard's frequent visits to the
Vosburgh cottage had escaped Mrs. Merwyn's vigilant solicitude, but
her son spoke of them in such a way that she obtained the correct
impression that he was only amusing himself. Her chief hope was
that her son would remain free until the South had obtained the
power it sought. Then an alliance with one of the leading families
in the Confederacy would accomplish as much as might have resulted
from active service during the struggle. She had not hesitated to
express this hope to him.

He had smiled, and said: "One of the leading theories of the day is
the survival of the fittest. I am content to limit my theory to a
survival. If I am alive and well when your great Southern empire takes
the lead among nations there will be a chance for the fulfilment
of your dream. If I have disappeared beneath Southern mud there
won't be any chance. In my opinion, however, I should have tenfold
greater power with our Southern friends if I introduced to them an
English heiress."

His mother had sighed and thought: "It is strange that this
calculating boy should be my son. His father was self-controlled
and resolute, but he never manifested such cold-blooded thought of
self, first and always."

She did not remember that the one lesson taught him from his
very cradle had been that of self-pleasing. She had carried out
her imperious will where it had clashed with his, and had weakly
compensated him by indulgence in the trifles that make up a child's
life. SHE had never been controlled or made to yield to others in
thoughtful consideration of their rights and feelings, and did not
know how to instil the lesson; therefore--so inconsistent is human
nature--when she saw him developing her own traits, she was troubled
because his ambitions differed from her own. Had his hopes and
desires coincided with hers he would have been a model youth in
her eyes, although never entertaining a thought beyond personal and
family advantage. Apparently there was a wider distinction between
them, for she was capable of suffering and sacrifice for the South.
The possibilities of his nature were as yet unrevealed.

His course and spirit, however, set her at rest in regard to his
visits to Marian Vosburgh, and she felt that there was scarcely
the slightest danger that he would compromise himself by serious
attentions to the daughter of an obscure American official.

Willard returned from his brief absence, and was surprised at his
eager anticipation of another interview with Marian. He called
the morning after his arrival, and learning that she had just gone
to witness a drill of Strahan's company, he followed, and arrived
almost as soon as she did at the ground set apart for military
evolutions.

He was greeted by Marian in her old manner, and by Strahan in
his off-hand way. The young officer was at her side, and a number
of ladies and gentlemen were present as spectators. Merwyn took a
camp-stool, sat a little apart, and nonchalantly lighted a cigar.

Suddenly there was a loud commotion in the guard-house, accompanied
by oaths and the sound of a struggle. Then a wild figure, armed with
a knife, rushed toward Strahan, followed by a sergeant and two or
three privates. At a glance it was seen to be the form of a tall,
powerful soldier, half-crazed with liquor.

"--you!" exclaimed the man; "you ordered me to be tied up. I'll
larn you that we ain't down in Virginny yet!" and there was reckless
murder in his bloodshot eyes.

Although at that moment unarmed, Strahan, without a second's hesitation,
sprung at the man's throat and sought to catch his uplifted hand,
but could not reach it. The probabilities are that the young
officer's military career would have been ended in another second,
had not Merwyn, without removing his cigar from his mouth, caught
the uplifted arm and held it as in a vise.

"Stand back, Strahan," he said, quietly; but the young fellow would
not loosen his hold. Therefore Merwyn, with his left hand upon the
collar of the soldier, jerked him a yard away, and tripped him up
so that he fell upon his face. Twisting the fellow's hands across
his back, Merwyn said to the sergeant, "Now tie him at your leisure."

This was done almost instantly, and the foul mouth was also stopped
by a gag.

Merwyn returned to his camp-stool, and coolly removed the cigar
from his mouth as he glanced towards Marian. Although white and
agitated, she was speaking eager, complimentary, and at the same
time soothing words to Strahan, who, in accordance with his excitable
nature, was in a violent passion. She did not once glance towards
the man who had probably saved her friend's life, but Strahan came
and shook hands with him cordially, saying: "It was handsomely and
bravely done, Merwyn. I appreciate the service. You ought to be an
officer, for you could make a good one,--a better one than I am,
for you are as cool as a cucumber."

Others, also, would have congratulated Merwyn had not his manner
repelled them, and in a few moments the drill began. Long before
it was over Marian rose and went towards her phaeton. In a moment
Merwyn was by her side.

"You are not very well, Miss Vosburgh," he said. "Let me drive you
home."

She bowed her acquiescence, and he saw that she was pale and a
little faint; but by a visible effort she soon rallied, and talked
on indifferent subjects.

At last she said, abruptly: "I am learning what war means. It would
seem that there is almost as much danger in enforcing discipline
on such horrible men as in facing the enemy."

"Of course," said Merwyn, carelessly. "That is part of the risk."

"Well," she continued, emphatically, "I never saw a braver act than
that of Mr. Strahan. He was unarmed."

"I was also!" was the somewhat bitter reply, "and you did not even
thank me by a look for saving your friend from a bad wound to say
the least."

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Merwyn, you were armed with a strength
which made your act perfectly safe. Mr. Strahan risked everything."

"How could he help risking everything? The infuriated beast was
coming towards you as well as him. Could he have run away? You are
not just to me, or at least you are very partial."

"One can scarcely help being partial towards one's friends. I
agree with you, however; Mr. Strahan could not have taken any other
course. Could you, with a friend in such peril?"

"Certainly not, with any one in such peril. Let us say no more
about the trifle."

She was silent a moment, and then said, impetuously: "You shall
not misunderstand me. I don't know whether I am unjust or not. I do
know that I was angered, and cannot help it. You may as well know
my thoughts. Why should Mr. Strahan and others expose themselves
to such risks and hardships while you look idly on, when you so
easily prove yourself able to take a man's part in the struggle?
You may think, if you do not say it, that it is no affair of mine;
but with my father, whom I love better than life, ready at any
moment to give his life for a cause, I cannot patiently see utter
indifference to that cause in one who seeks my society."

"I think your feelings are very natural, Miss Vosburgh, nor do
I resent your censure. You are surrounded by influences that lead
you to think as you do. You can scarcely judge for me, however.
Be fair and just. I yield to you fully--I may add, patiently--the
right to think, feel, and act as you think best. Grant equal rights
to me."

"Oh, certainly," she said, a little coldly; "each one must choose
his own course for life."

"That must ever be true," he replied, "and it is well to remember
that it is for life. The present condition of affairs is temporary.
It is the hour of excited impulses rather than of cool judgment.
Ambitious men on both sides are furthering their own purposes at
the cost of others."

"Is that your idea of the war, Mr. Merwyn?" she asked, looking
searchingly into his face.

"It is indeed, and time will prove me right, you will discover."

"Since this is your view, I can scarcely wonder at your course,"
she said, so quietly that he misunderstood her, and felt that she
half conceded its reasonableness. Then she changed the subject,
nor did she revert to it in his society.

As August drew to its close, Marian's circle shared the feverish
solicitude felt in General Pope's Virginia campaign. Throughout
the North there was a loyal response to the appeal for men, and
Strahan's company was nearly full. He expected at any hour the
orders which would unite the regiment at Washington.

One morning Mr. Lane came to say good-by. It was an impressive
hour which he spent with Marian when bidding her perhaps a final
farewell. She was pale, and her attempts at mirthfulness were forced
and feeble. When he rose to take his leave she suddenly covered
her face with her hand, and burst into tears.

"Marian!" he exclaimed, eagerly, for the deep affection in his
heart would assert itself at times, and now her emotion seemed to
warrant hope.

"Wait," she faltered. "Do not go just yet."

He took her unresisting hand and kissed it, while she stifled her
sobs.

"Miss Marian," he began, "you know how wholly I am yours--"

"Please do not misunderstand me," she interrupted. "I scarcely
know how I could feel differently if I were parting with my twin
brother.  You have been such a true, generous friend! Oh, I am all
unstrung.  Papa has been sent for from Washington, and we don't know
when he'll return or what service may be required of him. I only
know that he is like you, and will take any risk that duty seems
to demand. I have so learned to lean upon you and trust you that if
anything happened--well, I felt that I could go to you as a brother.
You are too generous to blame me that I cannot feel in any other
way. See, I am frank with you. Why should I not be when the future
is so uncertain? Is it a little thing that I should think of you
first and feel that I shall miss you most when I am so distraught
with anxiety?"

"No, Miss Marian. To me it is a sacred thing. I want you to know
that you have a brother's hand and heart at your disposal."

"I believe you. Come," she added, rising and dashing away her
tears, "I must be brave, as you are. Promise me that you will take
no risks beyond those required by duty, and that you will write to
me."

"Marian," he said, in a low, deep voice, "I shall ever try to do
what, in your heart, you would wish. You must also promise that if
you are ever in trouble you will let me know."

"I promise."

He again kissed her hand, like a knight of the olden time.

At the last turn of the road from which he was visible she waved
her handkerchief, then sought her room and burst into a passion of
tears.

"Oh," she sobbed, "as I now feel I could not refuse him anything.
I may never see him again, and he has been so kind and generous!"

The poor girl was indeed morbid from excitement and anxiety. Her
pale face began to give evidence of the strain which the times
imposed on her in common with all those whose hearts had much at
stake in the conflict.

In vain her mother remonstrated with her, and told her that she was
"meeting trouble half-way." Once the sagacious lady had ventured
to suggest that much uncertainty might be taken out of the future
by giving more encouragement to Mr. Merwyn. "I am told that he is
almost a millionnaire in his own right," she said.

"What is he in his own heart and soul?" had been the girl's indignant
answer. "Don't speak to me in that way again, mamma."

Meanwhile Merwyn was a close observer of all that was taking place,
and was coming to what he regarded as an heroic resolution. Except
as circumstances evoked an outburst of passion, he yielded to habit,
and coolly kept his eye on the main chances of his life, and these
meant what he craved most.

Two influences had been at work upon his mind during the summer.
One resulted from his independent possession of large property. He
had readily comprehended the hints thrown out by his lawyer that,
if he remained in New York, the times gave opportunity for a
rapid increase in his property, and the thought of achieving large
wealth for himself, as his father had done before him, was growing
in attractiveness. His indolent nature began to respond to vital
American life, and he asked himself whether fortune-making in his
own land did not promise more than fortune-seeking among English
heiresses; moreover, he saw that his mother's devotion to the South
increased daily, and that feeling at the North was running higher
and becoming more and more sharply defined. As a business man in
New York his property would be safe beyond a doubt, but if he were
absent and affiliating with those known to be hostile to the North,
dangerous complications might arise.

Almost unconsciously to himself at first the second influence was
gaining daily in power. As he became convinced that Marian was
not an ordinary girl, ready for a summer flirtation with a wealthy
stranger, he began to give her more serious thought, to study her
character, and acknowledge to himself her superiority. With every
interview the spell of her fascination grew stronger, until at last
he reached the conclusion which he regarded as magnanimous indeed.
Waiving all questions of rank and wealth on his part he would become
a downright suitor to this fair countrywoman. It did not occur to
him that he had arrived at his benign mood by asking himself the
question, "Why should I not please myself?" and by the oft-recurring
thought: "If I marry rank and wealth abroad the lady may eventually
remind me of her condescension. If I win great wealth here and lift
this girl to my position she will ever be devoted and subservient
and I be my own master. I prefer to marry a girl that pleases me
in her own personality, one who has brains as well as beauty. When
these military enthusiasts have disappeared below the Southern
horizon, and time hangs more heavily on her hands, she will find
leisure and thought for me. What is more, the very uncertainties
of her position, with the advice of her prudent mamma, will incline
her to the ample provision for the future which I can furnish."

Thus did Willard Merwyn misunderstand the girl he sought, so strong
are inherited and perverted traits and lifelong mental habits.
He knew how easily, with his birth and wealth, he could arrange a
match abroad with the high contracting powers. Mrs. Vosburgh had
impressed him as the chief potentate of her family, and not at all
averse to his purpose. He had seen Mr. Vosburgh but once, and the
quiet, reticent man had appeared to be a second-rate power. He had
also learned that the property of the family was chiefly vested in
the wife. Of course, if Mr. Vosburgh had been in the city, Merwyn
would have addressed him first, but he was absent and the time of
his return unknown.

The son knew his mother would be furious, but he had already
discounted that opposition. He regarded this Southern-born lady as
a very unsafe guide in these troublous times. Indeed, he cherished
a practical kind of loyalty to her and his sisters.

"Only as I keep my head level," he said to himself, "are they safe.
Mamma would identify herself with the South to-day if she could,
and with a woman's lack of foresight be helpless on the morrow.
Let her dream her dreams and nurse her prejudices. I am my father's
son, and the responsible head of the family; and I part with no
solid advantage until I receive a better one. I shall establish
mamma and the girls comfortably in England, and then return to a
city where I can soon double my wealth and live a life independent
of every one."

This prospect grew to be so attractive that he indulged, like Mr.
Lanniere, in King Cophetua's mood, and felt that one American girl
was about to become distinguished indeed.

Watching his opportunity he called upon Mrs. Vosburgh while Marian
was out of the way, formally asking her, in her husband's absence,
for permission to pay his addresses; and he made known his financial
resources and prospects with not a little complacent detail.

Mrs. Vosburgh was dignified and gracious, enlarged on her daughter's
worth, hinted that she might be a little difficult to win by
reason of the attentions she had received and her peculiar views,
yet left, finally, the impression that so flattering proposals
could not be slighted.

Merwyn went home with a sigh of relief. He would no longer approach
Marian with doubtful and ill-defined intentions, which he believed
chiefly accounted for the clever girl's coldness towards him.



CHAPTER XIV.

OMINOUS.



SUBORDINATE only to her father and two chief friends, in Marian's
thoughts, was her enemy, for as such she now regarded Willard Merwyn.
She had felt his attentions to be humiliating from the first. They
had presented her former life, in which her own amusement and pleasure
had been her chief thought, in another and a very disagreeable
light. These facts alone would have been sufficient to awaken a
vindictive feeling, for she was no saint. In addition, she bitterly
resented his indifference to a cause made so dear by her father's
devotion and her friends' brave self-sacrifice.  Whatever his
motive might be, she felt that he was cold-blooded, cowardly, or
disloyal, and such courtesy as she showed him was due to little else
than the hope of inflicting upon him some degree of humiliation.
She had seen too many manifestations of honest interest and ardent
love to credit him with any such emotion, and she had no scruples
in wounding his pride to the utmost.

Meanwhile events in the bloody drama of the war were culminating.
The Union officers were thought to have neither the wisdom to fight
at the right time nor the discretion to retreat when fighting was
worse than useless. In consequence thousands of brave men were
believed by many to have died in vain once more on the ill-fated
field of Bull Run.

One morning, the last of August, Strahan galloped to the Vosburgh
cottage and said to Marian, who met him at the door: "Orders have
come. I have but a few minutes in which to say good-by. Things
have gone wrong in Virginia, and every available man is wanted in
Washington."

His flushed face was almost as fair as her own, and gave him a boyish
aspect in spite of his military dress, but unhesitating resolution
and courage beamed from his eyes.

"Oh, that I were a man!" Marian cried, "and you would have company.
All those who are most to me will soon be perilling their lives."

"Guess who has decided to go with me almost at the last moment."

"Mr. Blauvelt?"

"Yes; I told him that he was too high-toned to carry a musket,
but he said he would rather go as a private than as an officer. He
wishes no responsibility, he says, and, beyond mere routine duty,
intends to give all his time and thoughts to art. I am satisfied
that I have you to thank for this recruit."

"Indeed, I have never asked him to take part in the war."

"No need of your asking any one in set terms. A man would have to
be either a coward, or else a rebel at heart, like Merwyn, to resist
your influence. Indeed, I think it is all the stronger because
you do not use it openly and carelessly. Every one who comes here
knows that your heart is in the cause, and that you would have been
almost a veteran by this time were you of our sex. Others, besides
Blauvelt, obtained the impulse in your presence which decided them.
Indeed, your drawing-room has been greatly thinned, and it almost
looks as if few would be left to haunt it except Merwyn."

"I do not think he will haunt it much longer, and I should prefer
solitude to his society."

"Well," laughed Strahan, "I think you will have a chance to put
one rebel to rout before I do. I don't blame you, remembering your
feeling, but Merwyn probably saved my life, and I gave him my
hand in a final truce. Friends we cannot be while he maintains his
present cold reserve. As you told me, he said he would have done
as much for any one, and his manner since has chilled any grateful
regard on my part. Yet I am under deep obligations, and hereafter
will never do or say anything to his injury."

"Don't trouble yourself about Mr. Merwyn, Arthur. I have my own
personal score to settle with him. He has made a good foil for
you and my other friends, and I have learned to appreciate you the
more.  YOU have won my entire esteem and respect, and have taught me
how quickly a noble, self-sacrificing purpose can develop manhood.
O Arthur, Heaven grant that we may all meet again! How proud I
shall then be of my veteran friends! and of you most of all. You
are triumphing over yourself, and you have won the respect of every
one in this community."

"If I ever become anything, or do anything, just enter half the
credit in your little note-book," he said, flushing with pleasure.

"I shall not need a note-book to keep in mind anything that relates
to you. Your courage has made me a braver, truer girl. Arthur,
please, you won't get reckless in camp? I want to think of you
always as I think of you now. When time hangs heavy on your hands,
would it give you any satisfaction to write to me?"

"Indeed it will," cried the young officer. "Let me make a suggestion.
I will keep a rough journal of what occurs and of the scenes we
pass through, and Blauvelt will illustrate it. How should you like
that? It will do us both good, and will be the next best thing to
running in of an evening as we have done here."

Marian was more than pleased with the idea. When at last Strahan
said farewell, he went away with every manly impulse strengthened,
and his heart warmed by the evidences of her genuine regard.

In the afternoon Blauvelt called, and, with Marian and her mother,
drove to the station to take part in an ovation to Captain Strahan
and his company. The artist had affairs to arrange in the city
before enlisting, and proposed to enter the service at Washington.

The young officer bore up bravely, but when he left his mother and
sisters in tears, his face was stern with effort. Marian observed,
however, that his last glance from the platform of the cars rested
upon herself. She returned home depressed and nervously excited,
and there found additional cause for solicitude in a letter from
her father informing her of the great disaster to Union arms which
poor generalship had invited. This, as she then felt, would have
been bad enough, but in a few tender, closing words, he told her that
they might not hear from him in some time, as he had been ordered
on a service that required secrecy and involved some danger. Mrs.
Vosburgh was profuse in her lamentations and protests against her
husband's course, but Marian went to her room and sobbed until
almost exhausted.

Her nature, however, was too strong, positive, and unchastened to
find relief in tears, or to submit resignedly. Her heart was full
of bitterness and revolt, and her partisanship was becoming almost
as intense as that of Mrs. Merwyn.

The afternoon closed with a dismal rain-storm, which added to her
depression, while relieving her from the fear of callers. "O dear!"
she exclaimed, as she rose from the mere form of supper, "I have
both head-ache and heart-ache. I am going to try to get through
the rest of this dismal day in sleep."

"Marian, do, at least, sit an hour or two with me. Some one may
come and divert your thoughts."

"No one can divert me to-night. It seems as if an age had passed
since we came here in June."

"Your father knows how alone we are in the world, with no near
relatives to call upon. I think he owes his first duty to us."

"The men of the North, who are right, should be as ready to
sacrifice everything as the men of the South, who are wrong; and so
also should Northern women. I am proud of the fact that my father
is employed and trusted by his government. The wrong rests with
those who caused the war."

"Every man can't go and should not go. The business of the country
must be carried on just the same, and rich business men are
as important as soldiers. I only wish that, in our loneliness and
with the future so full of uncertainty, you would give sensible
encouragement to one abundantly able to give you wealth and the
highest position."

"Mr. Merwyn?"

"Yes, Mr. Merwyn," continued her mother, with an emphasis somewhat
irritable. "He is not an old, worn-out millionnaire, like Mr.
Lanniere. He is young, exceedingly handsome, so high-born that he
is received as an equal in the houses of the titled abroad. He has
come to me like an honorable man, and asked for the privilege of
paying his addresses. He would have asked your father had he been
in town.  He was frank about his affairs, and has just received,
in his own name, a very large property, which he proposes to double
by entering upon business in New York."

"What does his mother think of his intentions toward me?" the young
girl asked, so quietly, that Mrs. Vosburgh was really encouraged.

"He says that he and his mother differ on many points, and will
differ on this one, and that is all he seemed inclined to say,
except to remark significantly that he had attained his majority."

"It was he whom you meant, when you said that some one might come
who would divert my thoughts?"

"I think he would have come, had it not been for the storm."

"Mamma, you have not given him any encouragement? You have not
compromised yourself, or me?"

Mrs. Vosburgh bridled with the beginnings of resentment, and said,
"Marian, you should know me too well--"

"There, there, mamma, I was wrong to think of such a thing; I ask
your pardon."

"I may have my sensible wishes and preferences," resumed the lady,
complacently, "but I have never yet acted the role of the anxious,
angling mamma. I cannot help wishing, however, that you would
consider favorably an offer like this one, and I certainly could
not treat Mr. Merwyn otherwise than with courtesy."

"That was right and natural of you, mamma. You have no controversy
with Mr. Merwyn; I have. I hate and detest him. Well, since he may
come, I shall dress and be prepared."

"O Marian! you are so quixotic!"

"Dear mamma, you are mistaken. Do not think me inconsiderate of
you.  Some day I will prove I am not by my marriage, if I marry;"
and she went to her mother and kissed her tenderly.

Then by a sudden transition she drew herself up with the dark,
inscrutable expression that was becoming characteristic since deeper
experiences had entered into her life, and said, firmly:--

"Should I do as you suggest, I should be false to those true friends
who have gone to fight, perhaps to die; false to my father; false
to all that's good and true in my own soul. As to my heart," she
concluded, with a contemptuous shrug, "that has nothing to do with
the affair. Mamma, you must promise me one thing. I do not wish
you to meet Mr. Merwyn to-night. Please excuse yourself if he asks
for you. I will see him."

"Mark my words, Marian, you will marry a poor man."

"Oh, I have no objection to millionnaires," replied the girl,
with a short, unmirthful laugh, "but they must begin their suit in
a manner differing from that of two who have favored me;" and she
went to her room.

As Merwyn resembled his deceased parent, so Marian had inherited
not a little of her father's spirit and character. Until within
the last few months her mother's influence had been predominant,
and the young girl had reflected the social conventionalities to
which she was accustomed. No new traits had since been created. Her
increasing maturity had rendered her capable of revealing qualities
inherent in her nature, should circumstances evoke them. The flower,
as it expands, the plant as it grows, is apparently very different,
yet the same. The stern, beautiful woman who is arraying herself
before her mirror, as a soldier assumes his arms and equipments, is
the same with the thoughtless, pleasure-loving girl whom we first
met in her drawing-room in June; but months of deep and almost
tragic experience have called into activity latent forces received
from her father's soul,--his power of sustained action, of resolute
purpose, of cherishing high ideals, and of white, quiet anger.

Her toilet was scarcely completed when Willard Merwyn was announced.



CHAPTER XV.

SCORN.



IT is essential that we should go back several hours in our story.
On the morning of the day that witnessed the departure of Strahan
and his company Merwyn's legal adviser had arrived and had been
closeted for several hours with his client. Mr. Bodoin was extremely
conservative. Even in youth he had scarcely known any leanings
toward passion of any kind or what the world regards as folly. His
training had developed and intensified natural characteristics,
and now to preserve in security the property intrusted to his
care through a stormy, unsettled period had become his controlling
motive. He looked upon the ups and downs of political men and measures
with what seemed to him a superior and philosophical indifference,
and he was more than pleased to find in Merwyn, the son of his old
client, a spirit so in accord with his own ideas.

They had not been very long together on this fateful day before he
remarked: "My dear young friend, it is exceedingly gratifying to
find that you are level-headed, like your father. He was a man,
Willard, whom you do well to imitate. He secured what he wanted
and had his own way, yet there was no nonsense about him. I was
his intimate friend as well as legal adviser, and I know, perhaps,
more of his life than any one else. Your mother, to-day, is the
handsomest woman of her years I ever saw, but when she was of your
age her beauty was startling, and she had almost as many slaves
among the first young men of the South as there were darkies on the
plantation, yet your father quietly bore her away from them all.
What is more, he so managed as to retain her respect and affection
to the last, at the same time never yielding an inch in his just
rights or dignity, and he ever made Mrs. Merwyn feel that her just
rights and dignity were equally sacred. Proud as your mother was,
she had the sense to see that his course was the only proper one.
Their marriage, my boy, always reminded me of an alliance between
two sovereign and alien powers. It was like a court love-match
abroad. Your father, a Northern man, saw the beautiful Southern
heiress, and he sued as if he were a potentate from a foreign realm.
Well-born and accustomed to wealth all his life, he matched her
pride with a pride as great, and made his offer on his feet as if
he were conferring as much as he should receive. That, in fact,
was the only way to win a woman who had been bowed down to all
her life.  After marriage they lived together like two independent
sovereigns, sometimes here, then in the city house, and, when
Mrs. Merwyn so desired it, on the Southern plantation, or abroad.
He always treated her as if she were a countess or a queen in her
own right and paid the utmost deference to her Southern ideas, but
never for a moment permitted her to forget that he was her equal and
had the same right to his Northern views. In regard to financial
matters he looked after her interests as if he were her prime minister,
instead of a husband wishing to avail himself of anything. In his
own affairs he consulted me constantly and together we planted his
investments on the bed-rock. These reminiscences will enable you
to understand the pleasure with which I recognize in you the same
traits. Of course you know that the law gives you great power over
your property. If you were inclined to dissipation, or, what would
be little better in these times, were hot-headed and bent on taking
part in this losing fight of the South, I should have no end of
trouble."

"You, also, are satisfied, then, that it will be a losing fight?"
Merwyn had remarked.

"Yes, even though the South achieves its independence. I am off at
one side of all the turmoil, and my only aim is to keep my trusts
safe, no matter who wins. I see things as they are up to date and
not as I might wish them to be if under the influence of passion
or prejudice. The South may be recognized by foreign powers and
become a separate state, although I regard this as very doubtful.
In any event the great North and West, with the immense tides of
immigration pouring in, will so preponderate as to be overshadowing.
The Southern empire, of which Mrs. Merwyn dreams, would dwindle
rather than grow. Human slavery, right or wrong, is contrary to the
spirit of the age. But enough of this political discussion. I only
touch upon it to influence your action. By the course you are
pursuing you not only preserve all your Northern property, but
you will also enable me to retain for your mother and sisters the
Southern plantation. This would be impossible if you were seeking
'the bubble, reputation, at the cannon's mouth' on either side.
Whatever happens, there must still be law and government. Both
sides will soon get tired of this exhausting struggle, and then
those who survive and have been wise will reap the advantage. Now,
as to your own affairs, the legal formalities are nearly completed.
If you return and spend the winter in New York I can put you in
the way of vastly increasing your property, and by such presence
and business activity you will disarm all criticism which your
mother's Southern relations may occasion."

"Mamma will bitterly oppose my return."

"I can only say that what I advise will greatly tend to conserve
Mrs. Merwyn's interests. If you prefer, we can manage it in this
way: after you have safely established your mother and sisters
abroad I can write you a letter saying that your interests require
your presence."

And so it had been arranged, and the old lawyer sat down to dinner
with Mrs. Merwyn, paying her the courtly deference which, while it
gratified her pride, was accepted as a matter of course--as a part
of her husband's legacy. He had soon afterwards taken his departure,
leaving his young client in a most complacent and satisfactory
mood.

It may thus be seen that Merwyn was not an unnatural product of
the influences which had until now guided his life and formed his
character. The reminiscences of his father's friend had greatly
increased his sense of magnanimity in his intentions towards
Marian.  In the overweening pride of youth he felt as if he were
almost regally born and royally endowed, and that a career was
opening before him in which he should prove his lofty superiority
to those whose heads were turned by the hurly-burly of the hour.
Young as he was, he had the sense to be in accord with wise old age,
that looked beyond the clouds and storm in which so many would be
wrecked. Nay, even more, from those very wrecks he would gather
wealth.

"The time and opportunity for cool heads," he smilingly assured
himself, "is when men are parting with judgment and reason."

Such was his spirit when he sought the presence of the girl whose
soul was keyed up to almost a passion of self-sacrifice. His mind
belittled the cause for which her idolized father was, at that
moment, perilling his life, and to which her dearest friends had
consecrated themselves. He was serene in congratulating himself
that "little Strahan" had gone, and that the storm would prevent
the presence of other interlopers.

Although the room was lighted as usual, he had not waited many
moments before a slight chill fell upon his sanguine mood. The house
was so still, and the rain dripped and the wind sighed so dismally
without, that a vague presentiment of evil began to assert itself.
Heretofore he had found the apartment full of life and mirth, and
he could not help remembering that some who had been its guests
might now be out in the storm. Would she think of this also?

The parlor was scarcely in its usual pretty order, and no flowers
graced the table. Evidently no one was expected. "All the better,"
he assured himself; "and her desolation will probably incline her
the more to listen to one who can bring golden gleams on such a
dreary night."

A daily paper, with heavy headlines, lay on a chair near him. The
burden of these lines was DEFEAT, CARNAGE, DEATH.

They increased the slight chill that was growing upon him, and made
him feel that possibly the story of his birth and greatness which
he had hoped to tell might be swallowed up by this other story
which fascinated him with its horror.

A slight rustle caused him to look up, and Marian stood before him.
Throwing aside the paper as if it were an evil spell, he rose,
would have offered his hand had there been encouragement, but the
girl merely bowed and seated herself as she said: "Good-evening,
Mr.  Merwyn. You are brave to venture out in such a storm."

Was there irony in the slight accent on the word "brave"? How
singularly severe was her costume, also!--simple black, without an
ornament. Yet he admitted that he had never seen her in so effective
a dress, revealing, as it did, the ivory whiteness of her arms and
neck.

"There is only one reason why I should not come this evening,--you
may have hoped to escape all callers."

"It matters little what one hopes in these times," she said, "for
events are taking place which set aside all hopes and expectations."

In her bitter mood she was impatient to have the interview over, so
that she accomplished her purpose. Therefore she proposed, contrary
to her custom with him, to employ the national tragedy, to which
he was so indifferent, as one of her keenest weapons.

"It is quite natural that you should feel so, Miss Vosburgh, in
regard to such hopes as you have thus far entertained--"

"Since they are the only hopes I know anything about, Mr. Merwyn,
I am not indifferent to them. I suppose you were at the depot to
see your friend, Mr. Strahan, depart?" and the question was asked
with a steady, searching scrutiny that was a little embarrassing.

Indeed, her whole aspect produced a perplexed, wondering admiration, for
she seemed breathing marble in her cold self-possession. He felt,
however, that the explanation which he must give of his absence
when so many were evincing patriotic good-will would enable him to
impress her with the fact that he had superior interests at stake
in which she might have a share.

Therefore he said, gravely, as if the reason were ample: "I should
have been at the depot, of course, had not my legal adviser come
up from town to-day and occupied me with very important business.
Mr.  Bodoin's time is valuable to him, and he presented, for my
consideration, questions of vital interest. I have reached that
age now when I must not only act for myself, but I also have very
delicate duties to perform towards my mother and sisters."

"Mr. Strahan had a sad duty to perform towards his mother and
sisters,--he said good-by to them."

"A duty which I shall soon have to perform, also," Merwyn said.

She looked at him inquiringly. Had he at last found his manhood,
and did he intend to assert it? Had he abandoned his calculating
policy, and was he cherishing some loyal purpose? If this were
true and she had any part in his decision, it would be a triumph
indeed; and, while she felt that she could never respond to any
such proposition as he had made through her mother, she could forget
the past and give him her hand in friendly encouragement towards
such a career as Lane and Strahan had chosen. She felt that it would
be well not to be over-hasty in showing resentment, but if possible
to let him reveal his plans and character fully. She listened
quietly, therefore, without show of approval or disapproval, as he
began in reply to her questioning glance.

"I am going to be frank with you this evening, Miss Vosburgh. The
time has come when I should be so. Has not Mrs. Vosburgh told you
something of the nature of my interview with her?"

The young girl merely bowed.

"Then you know how sincere and earnest I am in what--in what I
shall have to say."

To his surprise he felt a nervous trepidation that he would not
have imagined possible in making his magnanimous offer. He found
this humble American girl more difficult to approach than any other
woman he had ever met.

"Miss Vosburgh," he continued, hesitatingly, "when I first entered
this room I did not understand your true worth and superiority,
but a sense of these has been growing on me from that hour to this.
Perhaps I was not as sincere as I--I--should have been, and you
were too clever not to know it. Will you listen to me patiently?"

Again she bowed, and lower this time to conceal a slight smile of
triumph.

Encouraged, he proceeded: "Now that I have learned to know you well,
I wish you to know me better,--to know all about me. My father was
a Northern man with strong Northern traits; my mother, a Southern
woman with equally strong Southern traits. I have been educated
chiefly abroad. Is it strange, then, that I cannot feel exactly as
you do, or as some of your friends do?"

"As we once agreed, Mr. Merwyn, each must choose his own course
for life."

"I am glad you have reminded me of that, for I am choosing for life
and not for the next ten months or ten years. As I said, then, all
this present hurly-burly will soon pass away." Her face darkened,
but in his embarrassment and preoccupation he did not perceive it.
"I have inherited a very large property, and my mother's affairs
are such that I must act wisely, if not always as she would wish."

"May I ask what Mrs. Merwyn would prefer?"

"I am prepared to be perfectly frank about myself," he replied,
hesitatingly, "but--"

"Pardon me. It is immaterial."

"I have a perfect right to judge and act for myself," resumed
Merwyn, with some emphasis.

"Thank you. I should remember that."

The words were spoken in a low tone and almost as if in soliloquy,
and her face seemed to grow colder and more impassive if possible.

With something approaching dismay Merwyn had observed that the
announcement of his large fortune had had no softening influence on
the girl's manner, and he thought, "Truly, this is the most dreary
and business-like wooing that I ever imagined!"

But he had gone too far to recede, and his embarrassment was
beginning to pass into something like indignation that he and all
he could offer were so little appreciated.

Restraining this feeling, he went on, gravely and gently: "You once
intimated that I was young, Miss Vosburgh, yet the circumstances
and responsibilities of my lot have led me to think more, perhaps,
than others of my age, and to look beyond the present hour. I regard
the property left me by my father as a trust, and I have learned
to-day that I can greatly increase and probably double it. It is
my intention, after taking my mother and sisters abroad, to return
to New York and to enter cautiously into business under the guidance
of my legal adviser, who is a man of great sagacity. Now, as you
know, I have said from the first that it is natural for you to
feel deeply in regard to the events of the day; but I look beyond
all this turmoil, distraction, and passion, which will be as
temporary as it is violent. I am thinking for you as truly as for
myself. Pardon me for saying it; I am sure I am in a better condition
of mind to think for you than you are to judge for yourself.
I can give you the highest social position, and make your future
a certainty. From causes I can well understand the passion of the
hour has been swaying you--"

She rose, and by an emphatic gesture stopped him, and there was a
fire in the blue eyes that had been so cold before. She appeared
to have grown inches as she stood before him and said, in tones
of concentrated scorn: "You are indeed young, yet you speak the
calculating words of one so old as to have lost every impulse of
youth. Do you know where my father is at this moment?"

"No," he faltered.

"He is taking part, at the risk of his life, in this temporary
hurly-burly, as you caricature it. It is he who is swaying me, and
the memory of the brave men whom you have met here and to whom you
fancied yourself superior. Did not that honored father exist, or
those brave friends, I feel within my soul that I have womanhood
enough to recognize and feel my country's need in this supreme hour
of her peril. You thoughtful beyond your years?--you think for me?
What did you think of me the first evening you spent here? What were
your thoughts as you came again and again? To what am I indebted
for this honor, but the fact that you could only beguile a summer's
ennui by a passing flirtation which would leave me you little cared
where, after you had joined your aristocratic friends abroad? Now
your plans have changed, and, after much deliberation, you have
come to lift me to the highest position! Never dream that I can
descend to your position!"

He was fairly trembling with anger and mortification, and she was
about to leave the apartment.

"Stay!" he said, passing his hand across his brow as if to brush
away confusion of mind; "I have not given you reason for such
contempt, and it is most unreasonable."

"Why is it unreasonable?" she asked, her scornful self-control
passing into something like passion. "I will speak no more of the
insult of your earlier motives towards me, now that you think you
can afford to marry me. In your young egotism you may think a girl
forgets and forgives such a thing easily if bribed by a fortune. I
will let all that be as if it were not, and meet you on the ground
of what is, at this present hour. I despise you because you have
no more mind or manhood--take it as you will--than to think that
this struggle for national life and liberty is a mere passing fracas
of politicians. Do you think I will tamely permit you to call my
noble father little better than a fool? He has explained to me what
this war means--he, of twice your age, and with a mind as large
as his manhood and courage. You have assumed to be his superior,
also, as well as that of Mr. Lane and Mr. Strahan, who are about
to peril life in the 'hurly-burly.' What are your paltry thousands
to me?  Should I ever love, I will love a MAN; and had I your sex
and half your inches, I should this hour be in Virginia, instead of
defending those I love and honor against your implied aspersions.
Had you your mother's sentiments I should at least respect you,
although she has no right to be here enjoying the protection of a
government that she would destroy."

He was as pale as she had become flushed, and again he passed his
hand over his brow confusedly and almost helplessly. "It is all
like a horrid dream," he muttered.

"Mr. Merwyn, you have brought this on yourself," she said, more
calmly. "You have sought to wrong me in my own home. Your words and
manner have ever been an insult to the cause for which my father
may die--O God!" she exclaimed, with a cry of agony--"for which
he may now be dead! Go, go," she added, with a strong repellent
gesture.  "We have nothing in common: you measure everything with
the inch-rule of self."

As if pierced to the very soul he sprung forward and seized her hand
with almost crushing force, as he cried: "No, I measure everything
hereafter by the breadth of your woman's soul. You shall not cast
me off in contempt. If you do you are not a woman,--you are a
fanatic, worse than my mother;" and he rushed from the house like
one distraught.

Panting, trembling, frightened by a volcanic outburst such as she
had never dreamed of, Marian sunk on a lounge, sobbing like a child.



CHAPTER XVI.

AWAKENED AT LAST.



IT may well be imagined that Mrs. Vosburgh was not far distant
during the momentous interview described in the last chapter, and,
as Merwyn rushed from the house as if pursued by the furies, she
appeared at once on the scene, full of curiosity and dismay.

Exclamations, questionings, elicited little from Marian. The strain
of the long, eventful day had been too great, and the young girl,
who might have been taken as a type of incensed womanhood a few
moments before, now had scarcely better resources than such remedies
as Mrs. Vosburgh's matronly experience knew how to apply. Few remain
long on mountain-tops, physical or metaphorical, and deep valleys
lie all around them. Little else could be done for the poor girl
than to bring the oblivion of sleep, and let kindly Nature nurse
her child back to a more healthful condition of body and mind.

But it would be long before Willard Merwyn would be amenable to the
gentle offices of nature. Simpson, the footman, flirting desperately
with the pretty waitress in the kitchen below, heard his master's
swift, heavy step on the veranda, and hastened out only in time to
clamber into his seat as Merwyn drove furiously away in the rain
and darkness. Every moment the trembling lackey expected they would
all go to-wreck and ruin, but the sagacious animals were given
their heads, and speedily made their way home.

The man took the reeking steeds to the stable, and Merwyn disappeared.
He did not enter the house, for he felt that he would stifle there,
and the thought of meeting his mother was intolerable.  Therefore,
he stole away to a secluded avenue, and strode back and forth
under the dripping trees, oblivious, in his fierce perturbation,
of outward discomfort.

Mrs. Merwyn waited in vain for him to enter, then questioned the
attendant.

"Faix, mum, I know nothin' at all. Mr. Willard druv home loike one
possessed, and got out at the door, and that's the last oi've seen
uv 'im."

The lady received the significant tidings with mingled anxiety and
satisfaction. Two things were evident. He had become more interested
in Miss Vosburgh than he had admitted, and she, by strange good
fortune, had refused him.

"It was a piece of folly that had to come in some form, I suppose,"
she soliloquized, "although I did not think Willard anything like
so sure to perpetrate it as most young men. Well, the girl has
saved me not a little trouble, for, of course, I should have been
compelled to break the thing up;" and she sat down to watch and
wait. She waited so long that anxiety decidedly got the better of
her satisfaction.

Meanwhile the object of her thoughts was passing through an experience
of which he had never dreamed. In one brief hour his complacency,
pride, and philosophy of life had been torn to tatters.  He saw
himself as Marian saw him, and he groaned aloud in his loathing and
humiliation. He looked back upon his superior airs as ridiculous,
and now felt that he would rather be a private in Strahan's company
than the scorned and rejected wretch that he was.  The passionate
nature inherited from his mother was stirred to its depths. Even
the traits which he believed to be derived from his father, and
which the calculating lawyer had commended, had secured the young
girl's most withering contempt; and he saw how she contrasted him
with her father and Mr. Lane,--yes, even with little Strahan. In
her bitter words he heard the verdict of the young men with whom
he had associated, and of the community. Throughout the summer he
had dwelt apart, wrapped in his own self-sufficiency and fancied
superiority. His views had been of gradual growth, and he had come
to regard them as infallible, especially when stamped with the
approval of his father's old friend; but the scathing words, yet
ringing in his ears, showed him that brave, conscientious manhood
was infinitely more than his wealth and birth. As if by a revelation
from heaven he saw that he had been measuring everything with the
little rule of self, and in consequence he had become so mean and
small that a generous-hearted girl had shrunk from him in loathing.

Then in bitter anger and resentment he remembered how he was
trammelled by his oath to his mother. It seemed to him that his
life was blighted by this pledge and a false education. There was
no path to her side who would love and honor only a MAN.

At last the mere physical manifestations of passion and excitement
began to pass away, and he felt that he was acting almost like one
insane as he entered the house.

Mrs. Merwyn met him, but he said, hoarsely, "I cannot talk with
you to-night."

"Willard, be rational. You are wet through. You will catch your
death in these clothes."

"Nothing would suit me better, as I feel now;" and he broke away.

He was so haggard when he came down late the next morning that his
mother could not have believed such a change possible in so short
a time. "It is going to be more serious than I thought," was her
mental comment as she poured him out a cup of coffee.

It was indeed; for after drinking the coffee in silence, he looked
frowningly out of the window for a time; then said abruptly to the
waiter, "Leave the room."

The tone was so stern that the man stole out with a scared look.

"Willard," began Mrs. Merwyn, with great dignity, "you are acting
in a manner unbecoming your birth and breeding."

Turning from the window, he fixed his eyes on his mother with a
look that made her shiver.

At last he asked, in a low, stern voice, "Why did you bind me with
that oath?"

"Because I foresaw some unutterable folly such as you are now
manifesting."

"No," he said, in the same cold, hard tone. "It was because
your cursed Confederacy was more to you than my freedom, than my
manhood,--more to you than I am myself."

"O Willard! What ravings!"

"Was my father insane when he quietly insisted on his rights,
yielding you yours? What right had you to cripple my life?"

"I took the only effective means to prevent you from doing just
that for yourself."

"How have you succeeded?"

"I have prevented you, as a man of honor, from doing, under a gust
of passion, what would spoil all my plans and hopes."

"I am not a man. You have done your best to prevent me from being
one. You have bound me with a chain, and made me like one of the
slaves on your plantation. Your plans and hopes? Have I no right
to plans and hopes?"

"You know my first thought has been of you and for you."

"No, I do not know this. I now remember that, when you bound me,
a thoughtless, selfish, indolent boy, you said that you would have
torn your heart out rather than marry my father had you foreseen
what was coming. This miserable egotist, Jeff Davis, and his scheme
of empire, cost what it may, are more to you than husband or child.
A mother would have said: 'You have reached manhood and have the
rights of a man. I will advise you and seek to guide you. You know
my feelings and views, and in their behalf I will even entreat
you; but you have reached that age when the law makes you free,
and holds you accountable to your own conscience.' Of what value
is my life if it is not mine? I should have the right to make my
own life, like others."

"You have the right to make it, but not to mar it."

"In other words, your prejudices, your fanaticism, are to take the
place of my conscience and reason. You expect me to carry a sham of
manhood out into the world. I wish you to release me from my oath."

"Never," cried Mrs. Merwyn, with a passion now equal to his own.
"You have fallen into the hands of a Delilah, and she has shorn
you of your manhood. Infatuated with a nameless Northern girl, you
would blight your life and mine. When you come to your senses you
will thank me on your knees that I interposed an oath that cannot
be broken between you and suicidal folly;" and she was about to
leave the room.

"Stop," he said, huskily. "When I bound myself I did so without
realizing what I did. I was but a boy, knowing not the future. I
did it out of mere good-will to you, little dreaming of the fetters
you were forging. Since you will not release me and treat me as a
man I shall keep the oath. I swore never to put on the uniform of
a Union soldier, or to step on Southern soil with a hostile purpose,
but you have taught me to detest your Confederacy with implacable
hate; and I shall use my means, my influence, all that I am, to
aid others to destroy it."

"What! are you not going back to England with us?"

"Yes."

"Before you have been there a week this insane mood will pass away."

"Did my father's moods pass away?"

"Your father--" began the lady, impetuously, and then hesitated.

"My father always yielded you your just rights and maintained his
own. I shall imitate his example as far as I now may. The oath is
a thing that stands by itself. It will probably spoil my life, but
I cannot release myself from it."

"You leave me only one course, Willard,--to bear with you as if you
were a passionate child. You never need hope for my consent to an
alliance with the under-bred creature who has been the cause of
this folly."

"Thank you. You now give me your complete idea of my manhood. I
request that these subjects be dismissed finally between us. I make
another pledge,--I shall be silent whenever you broach them;" and
with a bow he left the apartment.

Half an hour later he was climbing the nearest mountain, resolved
on a few hours of solitude. From a lofty height he could see
the little Vosburgh cottage, and, by the aid of a powerful glass,
observed that the pony phaeton did not go out as usual, although
the day was warm and beautiful after the storm.

The mists of passion were passing from his mind, and in strong
reaction from his violent excitement he sunk, at first, into deep
depression. So morbid was he that he cried aloud: "O my father!
Would to God that you had lived! Where are you that you can give
no counsel, no help?"

But he was too young to give way to utter despondency, and at last
his mind rallied around the words he had spoken to Marian. "I shall,
hereafter, measure everything by the breadth of your woman's soul."

As he reviewed the events of the summer in the light of recent
experience, he saw how strong, unique, and noble her character was.
Faults she might have in plenty, but she was above meannesses and
mercenary calculation. The men who had sought her society had been
incited to manly action, and beneath all the light talk and badinage
earnest and heroic purposes had been formed; he meanwhile, poor
fool! had been too blinded by conceited arrogance to understand
what was taking place. He had so misunderstood her as to imagine
that after she had spent a summer in giving heroic impulses she
would be ready to form an alliance that would stultify all her
action, and lose her the esteem of men who were proving their regard
in the most costly way. He wondered at himself, but thought:--

"I had heard so much about financial marriages abroad that I had
gained the impression that no girl in these days would slight an
offer like mine. Even her own mother was ready enough to meet my
views. I wonder if she will ever forgive me, ever receive me again
as a guest, so that I can make a different impression. I fear she
will always think me a coward, hampered as I am by a restraint
that I cannot break. Well, my only chance is to take up life from
her point of view, and to do the best I can. There is something in
my nature which forbids my ever yielding or giving up. So far as
it is now possible I shall keep my word to her, and if she has a
woman's heart she may, in time, so far relent as to give me a place
among her friends. This is now my ambition, for, if I achieve this,
I shall know I am winning such manhood as I can attain."

When Merwyn appeared at dinner he was as quiet and courteous as
if nothing had happened; but his mother was compelled to note that
the boyishness had departed out of his face, and in its strong
lines she recognized his growing resemblance to his father.

Two weeks later he accompanied his mother and sisters to England.
Before his departure he learned that Marian had been seriously ill,
but was convalescent, and that her father had returned.

Meantime and during the voyage, with the differences natural to
the relation of mother and son, his manner was so like that of his
father towards her that she was continually reminded of the past,
and was almost led to fear that she had made a grave error in the
act she had deemed so essential. But her pride and her hopes for
the future prevented all concession.

"When he is once more in society abroad this freak will pass away,"
she thought, "and some English beauty will console him."

But after they were well established in a pretty villa near
congenial acquaintances, Merwyn said one morning, "I shall return
to New York next week."

"Willard! how can you think of such a thing? I was planning to
spend the latter part of the winter in Rome."

"That you may easily do with your knowledge of the city and your
wide circle of friends."

"But we need you. We want you to be with us, and I think it most
unnatural in you to leave us alone."

"I have taken no oath to dawdle around Europe indefinitely. I
propose to return to New York and go into business."

"You have enough and more than enough already."

"I certainly have had enough of idleness."

"But I protest against it. I cannot consent."

"Mamma," he said, in the tone she so well remembered, "is not my
life even partially my own? What is your idea of a man whom both
law and custom make his own master? Even as a woman you chose for
yourself at the proper age. What strange infatuation do you cherish
that you can imagine that a son of Willard Merwyn has no life of
his own to live? It is now just as impossible for me to idle away
my best years in a foreign land as it would be for me to return
to my cradle. I shall look after your interests and comfort to the
best of my ability, and, if you decide to return to New York, you
shall be received with every courtesy."

"I shall never return to New York. I would much prefer to go to my
plantation and share the fortunes of my own people."

"I supposed you would feel in that way, and I will do all in
my power to further your wishes, whatever they may be. My wishes,
in personal matters, are now equally entitled to respect. I shall
carry them out;" and with a bow that precluded all further remonstrance
he left the room.

A day or two later she asked, abruptly, "Will you use your means
and influence against the South?"

"Yes."

Mrs. Merwyn's face became rigid, but nothing more was said. When
he bade her good-by there was an evident struggle in her heart,
but she repressed all manifestations of feeling, and mother and
son parted.



CHAPTER XVII.

COMING TO THE POINT.



WHEN the tide has long been rising the time comes for it to recede.
From the moment of Marian's awakening to a desire for a better
womanhood, she had been under a certain degree of mental excitement
and exaltation. This condition had culminated with the events
that wrought up the loyal North into suspense, anguish, and stern,
relentless purpose.

While these events had a national and world-wide significance, they
also pressed closely, in their consequences, on individual life.
It has been shown how true this was in the experience of Marian.
Her own personal struggle alone, in which she was combating the
habits and weakness of the past, would not have been a trivial
matter,--it never is when there is earnest endeavor,--but, in
addition to this, her whole soul had been kindling in sympathy with
the patriotic fire that was impelling her dearest friends towards
danger and possible death. Lane's, Strahan's, and Blauvelt's
departure, and her father's peril, had brought her to a point that
almost touched the limit of endurance. Then had come the man whose
attentions had been so humiliating to her personally, and who
represented to her the genius of the Rebellion that was bringing
her such cruel experience. She saw his spirit of condescension even
in his offer of marriage; worse still, she saw that he belittled
the conflict in which even her father was risking his life; and her
indignation and resentment had burst forth upon him with a power
that she could not restrain.

The result had been most unexpected. Instead of slinking away
overwhelmed with shame and confusion, or departing in haughty anger,
Merwyn had revealed to her that which is rarely witnessed by any
one,--the awakening of a strong, passionate nature. In the cynical,
polished, self-pleasing youth was something of which she had not
dreamed,--of which he was equally unaware. Her bitter words pierced
through the strata of self-sufficiency and pride that had been
accumulating for years. She stabbed with truth the outer man and
slew it, but the inner and possible manhood felt the sharp thrust
and sprung up wounded, bleeding, and half desperate with pain. That
which wise and kindly education might have developed was evoked in
sudden agony, strong yet helpless, overwhelmed with the humiliating
consciousness of what had been, and seeing not the way to what
she would honor. Yet in that supreme moment the instinct asserted
itself that she, who had slain his meaner self, had alone the power
to impart the impulse toward true manhood and to give the true
measure of it. Hence a declaration so passionate, and an appeal so
full of his immense desire and need, that she was frightened, and
faltered helplessly.

In the following weary days of suffering and weakness, she realized
that she was very human, and not at all the exalted heroine that
she had unconsciously come to regard herself. The suitor whom she
had thought to dismiss in contempt and anger, and to have done with,
could not be banished from her mind. The fact that he had proved
himself to be all that she had thought him did not satisfy her,
for the reason that he had apparently shown himself to be so much
more.  She had judged him superficially, and punished him accordingly.
She had condemned him unsparingly for traits which, except for a few
short months, had been her own characteristics. While it was true
that they seemed more unworthy in a man, still they were essentially
the same.

"But he was not a man," she sighed. "He was scarcely more than the
selfish boy that wealth, indulgence, and fashionable life had made
him. Why was I so blind to this? Why could I not have seen that
nothing had ever touched him deeply enough to show what he was,
or, at least, of what he was capable? What was Strahan before his
manhood was awakened? A little gossiping exquisite. Even Mr. Lane,
who was always better than any of us, has changed wonderfully
since he has had exceptional motives for noble action. What was I,
myself, last June, when I was amusing myself at the expense of a
man whom I knew to be so good and true? In view of all this, instead
of having a little charity for Mr. Merwyn, who, no doubt, is only
the natural product of the influences of his life, I only tolerated
him in the vindictive hope of giving the worst blow that a woman can
inflict. I might have seen that he had a deeper nature; at least,
I might have hoped that he had, and given him a chance to reveal
it. Perhaps there has never been one who tried to help him toward
true manhood.  He virtually said that his mother was a Southern
fanatic, and his associations have been with those abroad who
sympathized with her.  Is it strange that a mere boy of twenty-one
should be greatly influenced by his mother and her aristocratic
friends? He said his father was a Northern man, and he may have
imbibed the notion that he could not fight on either side. Well,
if he will give up such a false idea, if he will show that he is
not cold-blooded and calculating, as his last outbreak seemed to
prove, and can become as brave and true a soldier as Strahan, I
will make amends by treating him as I do Strahan, and will try to
feel as friendly towards him.  He shall not have the right to say
I'm 'not a woman but a fanatic.'"

She proved herself a woman by the effort to make excuses for one
towards whom she had been severe, by her tendency to relent after
she had punished to her heart's content.

"But," added the girl aloud, in the solitude of her room, "while I
may give him my hand in some degree of kindliness and friendship,
if he shows a different spirit, he shall never have my colors, never
my loyal and almost sisterly love, until he has shown the courage
and manhood of Mr. Lane and Mr. Strahan. They shall have the first
place until a better knight appears."

When, one September evening, her father quietly entered his home
he gave her an impulse towards convalescence beyond the power of
all remedies. There were in time mutual confidences, though his
were but partial, because relating to affairs foreign to her life,
and tending to create useless anxieties in respect to the future.
He was one of those sagacious, fearless agents whom the government,
at that period, employed in many and secret ways. For obvious reasons
the nature and value of their services will never be fully known.


Marian was unreserved in her relation of what had occurred, and
her father smiled and reassured her.

"In one sense you are right," he said. "We should have a broader,
kindlier charity for all sorts of people, and remember that, since
we do not know their antecedents and the influences leading to
their actions, we should not be hasty to judge. Your course might
have been more Christian-like towards young Merwyn, it is true.
Coming from you, however, in your present state of development,
it was very natural, and I'm not sure but he richly deserved your
words. If he has good mettle he will be all the better for them.
If he spoke from mere impulse and goes back to his old life and
associations, I'm glad my little girl was loyal and brave enough
to lodge in his memory truths that he won't forget. Take the good
old doctrine to your relenting heart and don't forgive him until
he 'brings forth fruits meet for repentance.' I'm proud of you that
you gave the young aristocrat such a wholesome lesson in regard to
genuine American manhood and womanhood."

Mrs. Vosburgh's reception of her husband was a blending of welcome
and reproaches. What right had he to overwhelm them with anxiety,
etc., etc.?

"The right of about a million men who are taking part in the
struggle," he replied, laughing at her good-naturedly.

"But I can't permit or endure it any longer," said his wife, and
there was irritation in her protest.

"Well, my dear," he replied, with a shrug, "I must remain among
the eccentric millions who continue to act according to their own
judgment."

"Mamma!" cried Marian, who proved that she was getting well by a
tendency to speak sharply, "do you wish papa to be poorer-spirited
than any of the million? What kind of a man would he be should he
reply, 'Just as you say, my dear; I've no conscience, or will of my
own'? I do not believe that any girl in the land will suffer more
than I when those I love are in danger, but I'd rather die than
blockade the path of duty with my love."


"Yes, and some day when you are fatherless you may repent those
words," sobbed Mrs. Vosburgh.

"This will not answer," said Mr. Vosburgh, in a tone that quieted
both mother and daughter, who at this stage were inclined to be a
little hysterical. "A moment's rational thought will convince you
that words cannot influence me. I know exactly what I owe to you and
to my country, and no earthly power can change my course a hair's
breadth. If I should be brought home dead to-morrow, Marian would
not have the shadow of a reason for self-reproach. She would have
no more to do with it than with the sunrise. Your feelings, in
both instances, are natural enough, and no doubt similar scenes are
taking place all over the land; but men go just the same, as they
should do and always have done in like emergencies. So wipe away
your tears, little women. You have nothing to cry about yet, while
many have."

The master mind controlled and quieted them. Mrs. Vosburgh looked
at her husband a little curiously, and it dawned upon her more
clearly than ever before that the man whom she managed, as she
fancied, was taking his quiet, resolute way through life with his
own will at the helm.

Marian thought, "Ah, why does not mamma idolize such a man and find
her best life in making the most of his life?"

She had, as yet, scarcely grasped the truth that, as disease
enfeebles the body, so selfishness disables the mind, robbing it of
the power to care for others, or to understand them. In a sense
Mr.  Vosburgh would always be a stranger to his wife. He had
philosophically and patiently accepted the fact, and was making
the best of the relation as it existed.

It was now decided that the family should return at once to their
city home. Mr. Vosburgh had a few days of leisure to superintend
the removal, and then his duties would become engrossing.

The evening before their departure was one of mild, charming
beauty, and as the dining-room was partially dismantled, it was Mr.
Vosburgh's fancy to have the supper-table spread on the veranda.
The meal was scarcely finished when a tall, broad-shouldered man
appeared at the foot of the steps, and Sally, the pretty waitress,
manifested a blushing consciousness of his presence.

"Wud Mr. Vosburgh let me spake to him a moment?" began the stranger.

Marian recognized the voice that, from the shrubbery, had
given utterance to the indignant protest against traits which had
once characterized her own life and motives. Thinking it possible
that her memory was at fault, she glanced at Sally's face and the
impression was confirmed. "What ages have passed since that June
evening!" she thought.

"Is it anything private, my man?" asked Mr. Vosburgh, pushing back
his chair and lighting a cigar.

"Faix, zur, it's nothin' oi'm ashamed on. I wish to lave the country
and get a place on the perlace force," repeated the man, with an
alacrity which showed that he wished Sally to hear his request.

"You look big and strong enough to handle most men."

"Ye may well say that, zur; oi've not sane the man yit that oi was
afeared on."

Sally chuckled over her knowledge that this was not true in respect
to women, while Marian whispered to her father: "Secure him the
place if you can, papa. You owe a great deal to him and so do I,
although he does not know it. This is the man whose words, spoken
to Sally, disgusted me with my old life. Don't you remember?"

Mr. Vosburgh's eyes twinkled, as he shot a swift glance at Sally,
whose face was redder than the sunset. The man's chief attraction
to the city was apparent.

"What's your name?" the gentleman asked.

"Barney Ghegan, zur."

"Are you perfectly loyal to the North? Will you help carry out the
laws, even against your own flesh and blood, if necessary?"

"Oi'll 'bey orders, zur," replied the man, emphatically. "Oi've
come to Amarekay to stay, and oi'll stan' by the goovernment."

"Can you bring me a certificate of your character?"

"Oi can, zur, for foive years aback."

"Bring it then, Barney, and you shall go on the force; for you're
a fine, strong-looking man,--the kind needed in these days," said
Mr.  Vosburgh, glad to do a good turn for one who unwittingly had
rendered him so great a service, and also amused at this later
aspect of the affair.

This amusement was greatly enhanced by observing Barney's proud,
triumphant glance at Sally. Turning quickly to note its effect on
the girl, Mr. Vosburgh caught the coquettish maid in the act of
making a grimace at her much-tormented suitor.

Sally's face again became scarlet, and in embarrassed haste she
began to clear the table.

Barney was retiring slowly, evidently wishing for an interview
with his elusive charmer before he should return to his present
employers, and Mr. Vosburgh good-naturedly put in a word in his
favor.

"Stay, Barney, and have some supper before you go home. In behalf
of Mrs. Vosburgh I give you a cordial invitation."

"Yes," added the lady, who had been quietly laughing. "Now that you
are to be so greatly promoted we shall be proud to have you stay."

Barney doffed his hat and exclaimed, "Long loife to yez all,
espacially to the swate-faced young leddy that first spoke a good
wourd for me, oi'm a-thinkin';" and he stepped lightly around to
the rear of the house.

"Sally," said Mr. Vosburgh, with preternatural gravity.

The girl courtesied and nearly dropped a dish.

"Mr. Barney Ghegan will soon be receiving a large salary."

Sally courtesied again, but her black eyes sparkled as she whisked
the rest of the things from the table and disappeared. She maintained
her old tactics during supper and before the other servants, exulting
in the fact that the big, strong man was on pins and needles, devoid
of appetite and peace.

"'Afeared o' no mon,' he says," she thought, smilingly. "He's so
afeared o' me that he's jist a tremblin'."

After her duties were over, Barney said, mopping his brow: "Faix,
but the noight is warm. A stroll in the air wudn't be bad, oi'm
a-thinkin'."

"Oi'm cool as a cowcumber," remarked Sally. "We'll wait for ye till
ye goes out and gits cooled off;" and she sat down complacently,
while the cook and the laundress tittered.

An angry sparkle began to assert itself in Barney's blue eyes, and
he remarked drily, as he took his hat, "Yez moight wait longer than
yez bargained for."

The shrewd girl saw that she was at the length of her chain, and
sprung up, saying: "Oh, well, since the mistress invited ye so
politely, ye's company, and it's me duty to thry to entertain ye.
Where shall we go?" she added, as she passed out with him.

"To the rustic sate, sure. Where else shud we go?"

"A rustic sate is a quare place for a stroll."

"Oi shall have so much walkin' on me bate in New York, that it's
well to begin settin' down aready, oi'm a-thinkin'."

"Why, Barney, ye're going to be a reg'lar tramp. Who'd 'a thought
that ye'd come down to that."

"Ah! arrah, wid ye nonsense! Sit ye down here, for oi'm a-goin' to
spake plain the noight. Noo, by the Holy Vargin, oi'm in arenest.
Are ye goin' to blow hot, or are ye goin' to blow could?"

"Considerin' the hot night, Barney, wouldn't it be better for me
to blow could?"

Barney scratched his head in perplexity. "Ye know what I mane," he
ejaculated.

"Where will ye foind the girl that tells all she knows?"

"O Sally, me darlint, what's the use of batin' around the bush?
Ye know that a cat niver looked at crame as oi look on ye," said
Barney, in a wheedling tone, and trying the tactics of coaxing once
more.

He sat down beside her and essayed with his insinuating arm to
further his cause as his words had not done.

"Arrah, noo, Barney Ghegan, what liberties wud ye be takin' wid a
respectable girl?" and she drew away decidedly.

He sprung to his feet and exploded in the words: "Sally Maguire,
will ye be me woife? By the holy poker! Answer, yis or no."

Sally rose, also, and in equally pronounced tones replied: "Yes,
Barney Ghegan, I will, and I'll be a good and faithful one, too.
It's yeself that's been batin' round the bush. Did ye think a woman
was a-goin' to chase ye over hill and down dale and catch ye by
the scruff of the neck? What do ye take me for?"

"Oi takes ye for better, Sally, me darlint;" and then followed
sounds suggesting the popping of a dozen champagne corks.

Mr. Vosburgh, his wife, and Marian had been chatting quietly
on the piazza, unaware of the scene taking place in the screening
shrubbery until Barney's final question had startled the night like
a command to "stand and deliver."

Repressing laughter with difficulty they tiptoed into the house
and closed the door.



CHAPTER XVIII.

A GIRL'S STANDARD.



THE month of September, 1862, was a period of strong excitement
and profound anxiety on both sides of the vague and shifting line
which divided the loyal North from the misguided but courageous
South.  During the latter part of August Gen. Pope had been
overwhelmed with disaster, and what was left of his heroic army
was driven within the fortifications erected for the defence of
Washington. Apparently the South had unbounded cause for exultation.
But a few weeks before their capital had been besieged by an immense
army, while a little to the north, upon the Rappahannock, rested
another Union army which, under a leader like Stonewall Jackson,
would have been formidable enough in itself to tax Lee's skill and
strength to the utmost. Except in the immediate vicinity of the
capital and Fortress Monroe scarcely a National soldier had been
left in Virginia. The Confederates might proudly claim that the
generalship of Lee and the audacity of Jackson had swept the Northern
invaders from the State.

Even more important than the prestige and glory won was the fact
that the Virginian farmers were permitted to gather their crops
unmolested. The rich harvests of the Shenandoah Valley and other
regions, that had been and should have been occupied by National
troops, were allowed to replenish the Confederate granaries. There
were rejoicings and renewed confidence in Southern homes, and smiles
of triumph on the faces of sympathizers abroad and throughout the
North.

But the astute leaders of the Rebellion were well aware that the
end had not yet come, and that, unless some bold, paralyzing blow
was struck, the struggle was but fairly begun. In response to the
request for more men new armies were springing up at the North. The
continent shook under the tread of hosts mustering with the stern
purpose that the old flag should cover every inch of the heritage
left by our fathers.

Therefore, Lee was not permitted to remain on the defensive a moment,
but was ordered to cross the Potomac in the rear of Washington,
threatening that city and Baltimore. It was supposed that the advent
of a Southern army into Maryland would create such an enthusiastic
uprising that thinned ranks would be recruited, and the State
brought into close relation with the Confederate Government. These
expectations were not realized. The majority sympathized with
Barbara Frietchie,

"Bravest of all in Frederick town,"

rather than with their self-styled deliverers; and Lee lost more
by desertion from his own ranks than he gained in volunteers. In
this same town of Frederick, by strange carelessness on the part
of the rebels, was left an order which revealed to McClellan Lee's
plans and the positions which his divided army were to occupy during
the next few days. Rarely has history recorded such opportunities
as were thus accidentally given to the Union commander.

The ensuing events proved that McClellan's great need was not the
reinforcements for which he so constantly clamored, but decision
and energy of character. Had he possessed these qualities he could
have won for himself, from the fortuitous order which fell into his
hands, a wreath of unfading laurel, and perhaps have saved almost
countless lives of his fellow-countrymen. As it was, if he had
only advanced his army a little faster, the twelve thousand Union
soldiers, surrendered by the incompetent and pusillanimous Gen.
Miles, would have been saved from the horrors of captivity and
secured as a valuable reinforcement. To the very last, fortune
appeared bent on giving him opportunity. The partial success won
on the 17th of September, at the battle of Antietam, might easily
have been made a glorious victory if McClellan had had the vigor
to put in enough troops, especially including Burnside's corps,
earlier in the day. Again, on the morning of the 18th, he had only
to take the initiative, as did Grant after the first day's fighting
at Shiloh, and Lee could scarcely have crossed the Potomac with a
corporal's guard. But, as usual, he hesitated, and the enemy that
robbed him of one of the highest places in history was not the
Confederate general or his army, but a personal trait,--indecision.
In the dawn of the 19th he sent out his cavalry to reconnoitre, and
learned that his antagonist was safe in Virginia. Fortune, wearied
at last, finally turned her back upon her favorite. The desperate
and bloody battle resulted in little else than the ebb of the
tide of war southward.  Northern people, it is true, breathed more
freely. Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington were safe for the
present, but this seemed a meagre reward for millions of treasure
and tens of thousands of lives, especially when the capture of Richmond
and the end of the Rebellion had been so confidently promised.

If every village and hamlet in the land was profoundly stirred by
these events, it can well be understood that the commercial centre
of New York throbbed like an irritated nerve under the telegraph
wires concentring there from the scenes of action. Every possible
interest, every variety of feeling, was touched in its vast and
heterogeneous population, and the social atmosphere was electrical
with excitement.

From her very constitution, now that she had begun to comprehend
the nature of the times, Marian Vosburgh could not breathe this air
in tranquillity. She was, by birthright, a spirited, warm-hearted
girl, possessing all a woman's disposition towards partisanship.
Everything during the past few months had tended to awaken a deep
interest in the struggle, and passing events intensified it. Not
only in the daily press did she eagerly follow the campaign, but
from her father she learned much that was unknown to the general
public. To a girl of mind the great drama in itself could not fail
to become absorbing, but when it is remembered that those who had
the strongest hold upon her heart were imperilled actors in the
tragedy, the feeling with which she watched the shifting scenes
may in some degree be appreciated. She often saw her father's brow
clouded with deep anxiety, and dreaded that each new day might
bring orders which would again take him into danger.

While the letters of her loyal friend, Lane, veiled all that was
hard and repulsive in his service, she knew that the days of drill
and equipment would soon be over, and that the new regiment must
participate in the dangers of active duty. This was equally true of
Strahan and Blauvelt. She laughed heartily over their illustrated
journal, which, in the main, gave the comic side of their life. But
she never laid it aside without a sigh, for she read much between
the lines, and knew that the hour of battle was rapidly approaching.
Thus far they had been within the fortifications at Washington,
for the authorities had learned the folly of sending undisciplined
recruits to the front.

At last, when the beautiful month of October was ended, and Lee's
shattered army was rested and reorganized, McClellan once more
crossed the Potomac. Among the reinforcements sent to him were the
regiments of which Lane and Strahan were members. The letters of
her friends proved that they welcomed the change and with all the
ardor of brave, loyal men looked forward to meeting the enemy. In
heart and thought she went with them, but a sense of their danger
fell, like a shadow, across her spirit. She appeared years older
than the thoughtless girl for whom passing pleasure and excitement
had been the chief motives of life; but in the strengthening lines
of her face a womanly beauty was developing which caused even
strangers to turn and glance after her.

If Merwyn still retained some hold upon her thoughts and curiosity,
so much could scarcely be said of her sympathy. He had disappeared
from the moment when she had harshly dismissed him, and she was
beginning to feel that she had been none too severe, and to believe
that his final words had been spoken merely from impulse. If he
were amusing himself abroad, Marian, in her intense loyalty, would
despise him; if he were permitting himself to be identified with
his mother's circle of Southern sympathizers, the young girl's
contempt would be tinged with detestation. He had approached her
too nearly, and humiliated her too deeply, to be readily forgotten
or forgiven.  His passionate outbreak at last had been so intense
as to awaken strong echoes in her woman's soul. If return to a
commonplace fashionable life was to be the only result of the past,
she would scarcely ever think of him without an angry sparkle in
her eyes.

After she had learned that her friends were in the field and
therefore exposed to the dangers of battle at any time, she had
soliloquized, bitterly: "He promised to 'measure everything by the
breadth of my woman's soul.' What does he know about a true woman's
soul? He has undoubtedly found his selfish nature and his purse
more convenient gauges of the world. Well, he knows of one girl
who cannot be bought."

Her unfavorable impression was confirmed one cold November morning.
Passing down Madison Avenue, her casual attention was attracted by
the opening of a door on the opposite side of the street. She only
permitted her swift glance to take in the fact that it was Merwyn
who descended the steps and entered an elegant coupe driven by
a man in a plain livery. After the vehicle had been whirled away,
curiosity prompted her to retrace her steps that she might look
more closely at the residence of the man who had asked her to be
his wife. It was evidently one of the finest and most substantial
houses on the avenue.

A frown contracted the young girl's brow as she muttered: "He
aspired to my hand,--he, who fares sumptuously in that brown-stone
palace while such men as Mr. Lane are fortunate to have a canvas
roof over their heads. He had the narrowness of mind to half-despise
Arthur Strahan, who left equal luxury to face every danger and
hardship. Thank Heaven I planted some memories in his snobbish
soul!"

Thereafter she avoided that locality.

In the evening, with words scarcely less bitter, she mentioned to
her father the fact that she had seen Merwyn and his home.

Mr. Vosburgh smiled and said, "You have evidently lost all compunctions
in regard to your treatment of the young fellow."

"I have, indeed. The battle of Antietam alone would place a Red
Sea between me and any young American who can now live a life of
selfish luxury. Think how thousands of our brave men will sleep
this stormy night on the cold, rain-soaked ground, and then think
of his cold-blooded indifference to it all!"

"Why think of him at all, Marian?" her father asked, with a quizzical
smile.

The color deepened slightly in her face as she replied: "Why
shouldn't I think of him to some extent? He has crossed my path in
no ordinary way. His attentions at first were humiliating, and he
awakened an antipathy such as I never felt towards any one before.
He tried to belittle you, my friends, and the cause to which you
are devoted. Then, when I told him the truth about himself, he
appeared to have manhood enough to comprehend it. His words made me
think of a man desperately wounded, and my sympathies were touched,
and I felt that I had been unduly severe and all that. In fact, I
was overwrought, ill, morbid, conscience-stricken as I remembered
my own past life, and he appeared to feel what I said so awfully
that I couldn't forget it. I had silly dreams and hopes that he
would assert his manhood and take a loyal part in the struggle.
But what has been his course? So far as I can judge, it has been
in keeping with his past. Settling down to a life of ease and
money-making here would be little better, in my estimation, than
amusing himself abroad. It would be simply another phase of following
his own mood and inclinations; and I shall look upon his outburst
and appeal as hysterical rather than passionate and sincere."

Mr. Vosburgh listened, with a half-amused expression, to his daughter's
indignant and impetuous words, but only remarked, quietly, "Suppose
you find that you have judged Mr. Merwyn unjustly?"

"I don't think I have done so. At any rate, one can only judge from
what one knows."

"Stick to that. Your present impressions and feelings do you credit,
and I am glad that your friends' loyal devotion counts for more
in your esteem than Merwyn's wealth. Still, in view of your scheme
of life to make the most and best of men of brains and force, I do
not think you have given the young nabob time and opportunity to
reveal himself fully. He may have recently returned from England,
and, since his mother was determined to reside abroad, it was his
duty to establish her well before returning. You evidently have
not dismissed him from your thoughts. Since that is true, do not
condemn him utterly until you see what he does. What if he again
seeks your society?"

"Well, I don't know, papa. As I feel to-night I never wish to see
him again."

"I'm not sure of that, little girl. You are angry and vindictive.
If he were a nonentity you would be indifferent."

"Astute papa! That very fact perplexes me. But haven't I explained
why I cannot help thinking of him to some extent?"

"No, not even to yourself."

Marian bit her lip with something like vexation, then said,
reproachfully, "Papa, you can't think that I care for him?"

"Oh, no,--not in the sense indicated by your tone. But your silly
dreams and hopes, as you characterize them, have taken a stronger
hold upon you than you realize. You are disappointed as well as
angry. You have entertained the thought that he might do something,
or become more in harmony with the last words he spoke to you."

"Well, he hasn't."

"You have not yet given him sufficient time, perhaps. I shall not
seek to influence you in the matter, but the question still presents
itself: What if he again seeks your society and shows a disposition
to make good his words?"

"I shall not show him," replied Marian, proudly, "greater favor
than such friends as Mr. Lane and Mr. Strahan required. Without
being influenced by me, they decided to take part in the war. After
they had taken the step which did so much credit to their manly
courage and loyalty, they came and told me of it. If Mr. Merwyn
should show equal spirit and patriotism and be very humble in view
of the past, I should, of course, feel differently towards him. If
he don't--" and the girl shook her head ominously.

Her father laughed heartily. "Why!" he exclaimed; "I doubt whether
in all the sunny South there is such a little fire-eater as we have
here."

"No, papa, no," cried Marian, with suddenly moistening eyes. "I
regret the war beyond all power of expression. I could not ask,
much less urge, any one to go, and my heart trembles and shrinks
when I think of danger threatening those I love. But I honor--I
almost worship--courage, loyalty, patriotism. Do you think I can
ever love any one as I do you? Yet I believe you would go to Richmond
to-morrow if you were so ordered. I ask nothing of this Merwyn, or
of any one; but he who asks my friendship must at least be brave
and loyal enough to go where my father would lead. Even if I loved a
man, even if I were married, I would rather that the one _I_ loved
did all a man's duty, though my heart was broken and my life blighted
in consequence, than to have him seeking safety and comfort in some
eminently prudent, temporizing course."

Mr. Vosburgh put his arm around his daughter, as he looked, for a
moment, into her tear-dimmed eyes, then kissed her good-night, and
said, quietly, "I understand you, Marian."

"But, papa!" she exclaimed, in sudden remorsefulness, "you won't
take any risks that you can honorably escape?"

"I promise you I won't go out to-night in search of the nearest
recruiting sergeant," replied her father, with a reassuring laugh.



CHAPTER XIX.

PROBATION PROMISED.



MERWYN had been in the city some little time when Marian, unknown
to him, learned of his presence. He, also, had seen her more than
once, and while her aspect had increased his admiration and a
feeling akin to reverence, it had also disheartened him. To a degree
unrecognized by the girl herself, her present motives and stronger
character had changed the expression of her face. He had seen her
when unconscious of observation and preoccupied by thoughts which
made her appear grave and almost stern, and he was again assured
that the advantages on which he had once prided himself were as
nothing to her compared with the loyalty of friends now in Virginia.
He could not go there, nor could he explain why he must apparently
shun danger and hardship. He felt that his oath to his mother would
be, in her eyes, no extenuation of his conduct. Indeed, he believed
that she would regard the fact that he could give such a pledge
as another proof of his unworthiness to be called an American. How
could it be otherwise when he himself could not look back upon the
event without a sense of deep personal humiliation?

"I was an idiotic fool when I gave away manhood and its rights,"
he groaned. "My mother took advantage of me."

In addition to the personal motive to conceal the fact of his oath,
he had even a stronger one. The revelation of his pledge would be
proof positive of his mother's disloyalty, and might jeopardize
the property on which she and his sisters depended for support.
Moreover, while he bitterly resented Mrs. Merwyn's course towards
him he felt that honor and family loyalty required that he should
never speak a word to her discredit. The reflection implied in
his final words to Marian had been wrung from him in the agony of
a wounded spirit, and he now regretted them. Henceforth he would
hide the fetters which in restraining him from taking the part in
the war now prompted by his feelings also kept him from the side of
the girl who had won the entire allegiance of his awakened heart.
He did not know how to approach her, and feared lest a false step
should render the gulf between them impassable. He saw that her
pride, while of a different character, was greater than his own
had ever been, and that the consideration of his birth and wealth,
which he had once dreamed must outweigh all things else, would not
influence her in the slightest degree. Men whom she regarded as his
equals in these respects were not only at her feet but also facing
the enemy as her loyal knights. How pitiable a figure in her eyes
he must ever make compared with them!

But there is no gravitation like that of the heart. He felt that
he must see her again, and was ready to sue for even the privilege
of being tolerated in her drawing-room on terms little better than
those formerly accorded him.

When he arrived in New York he had hesitated as to his course. His
first impulse had been to adopt a life of severe and inexpensive
simplicity. But he soon came to look upon this plan as an affectation.
There was his city home, and he had a perfect right to occupy it,
and abundant means to maintain it. After seeing Marian's resolute,
earnest face as she passed in the street unconscious of his
scrutiny, and after having learned more about her father from his
legal adviser, the impression grew upon him that he had lost his
chance, and he was inclined to take refuge in a cold, proud reticence
and a line of conduct that would cause no surmises and questionings
on the part of the world. He would take his natural position, and
live in such a way as to render curiosity impertinent.

He had inherited too much of his father's temperament to sit down
in morbid brooding, and even were he disposed toward such weakness
he felt that his words to Marian required that he should do all
that he was now free to perform in the advancement of the cause to
which she was devoted. She might look with something like contempt
on a phase of loyalty which gave only money when others were giving
themselves, but it was the best he could do. Whether she would ever
recognize the truth or not, his own self-respect required that he
should keep his word and try to look at things from her point of
view, and, as far as possible, act accordingly. For a time he was
fully occupied with Mr. Bodoin in obtaining a fuller knowledge of
his property and the nature of its investment. Having learned more
definitely about his resources he next followed the impulse to aid
the cause for which he could not fight.

A few mornings after the interview between Marian and her father
described in the previous chapter, Mr. Vosburgh, looking over his
paper at the breakfast-table, laughed and said: "What do you think
of this, Marian? Here is Merwyn's name down for a large donation
to the Sanitary and Christian Commissions."

His daughter smiled satirically as she remarked, "Such heroism
takes away my breath."

"You are losing the power, Marian," said her mother, irritably,
"of taking moderate, common-sense views of anything relating to
the war.  If the cause is first in your thoughts why not recognize
the fact that Mr. Merwyn can do tenfold more with his money than
if he went to the front and 'stopped a bullet,' as your officer
friends express themselves? You are unfair, also. Instead of giving
Mr. Merwyn credit for a generous act you sneer at him."

The girl bit her lip, and looked perplexed for a moment. "Well,
then," she said, "I will give him credit. He has put himself to the
inconvenience of writing two checks for amounts that he will miss
no more than I would five cents."

"Ask your father," resumed Mrs. Vosburgh, indignantly, "if the
men who sustain these great charities and the government are not
just as useful as soldiers in the field. What would become of the
soldiers if business in the city should cease? Your ideas, carried
out fully, would lead your father to start to the front with a
musket, instead of remaining where he can accomplish the most good."

"You are mistaken, mamma. My only fear is that he will incur too
many risks as it is. I have never asked any one to go to the front,
and I certainly would not ask Mr. Merwyn. Indeed, when I think of
the cause, I would rather he should do as you suggest. I should be
glad to have him give thousands and increase the volume of business
by millions; but if he gave all he has, he could not stand in my
estimation with men who offer their lives and risk mutilation and
untold suffering from wounds. I know nothing of Mr. Merwyn's present
motives, and they may be anything but patriotic. He may think it to
his advantage to win some reputation for loyalty, when it is well
known that his mother has none at all. Those two gifts, paltry
for one of his means, count very little in these days of immense
self-sacrifice. I value, in times of danger, especially when great
principles are at stake, self-sacrifice and uncalculating heroism
above all things, and I prefer to choose my friends from among
those who voluntarily exhibit these qualities. No man living could
win my favor who took risks merely to please me. Mr. Merwyn is
nothing to me, and if I should ever meet him again socially, which
is not probable, I should be the last one to suggest that he should
go to the war; but if he, or any one, wishes my regard, there
must be a compliance with the conditions on which I give it. I am
content with the friends I have."

Mr. Vosburgh looked at his daughter for a moment as if she were
fulfilling his ideal, and soon after departed for his office.
A few days after, when the early shadows of the late autumn were
gathering, he was interrupted in his preparations to return up town
by the entrance of the subject of the recent discussion.

Merwyn was pale and evidently embarrassed as he asked, "Mr.  Vosburgh,
have you a few moments of leisure?"

"Yes," replied the gentleman, briefly.

He led the way to a private office and gave his caller a chair.

The young man was at a loss to begin a conversation necessarily of
so delicate a nature, and hesitated.

Mr. Vosburgh offered no aid or encouragement, for his thought was,
"This young fellow must show his hand fully before I commit myself
or Marian in the slightest degree."

"Miss Vosburgh, no doubt, has told you of the character of our last
interview," Merwyn began at last, plunging in medias res.

"My daughter is in the habit of giving me her confidence," was the
quiet reply.

"Then, sir, you know how unworthy I am to make the request to which
I am nevertheless impelled. In justice I can hope for nothing. I
have forfeited the privilege of meeting Miss Vosburgh again, and I
do not feel that it would be right for me to see her without your
permission. The motives which first led me into her society were
utterly unworthy of a true man, and had she been the ordinary
society girl that I supposed she was, the results might have been
equally deserving of condemnation. I will not plead in extenuation
that I had been unfortunate in my previous associations, and in
the influences that had developed such character as I had. Can you
listen to me patiently?"

The gentleman bowed.

"I eventually learned to comprehend Miss Vosburgh's superiority in
some degree, and was so fascinated by her that I offered marriage
in perfect good faith; but the proposal was made in a complacent
and condescending spirit that was so perfectly absurd that now I
wonder at my folly. Her reply was severe, but not so severe as I
deserved, and she led me to see myself at last in a true light. It
is little I can now ask or hope. My questions narrow down to these:
Is Miss Vosburgh disposed to give me only justice? Have I offended
her so deeply that she cannot meet me again? Had my final words no
weight with her? She has inspired in me the earnest wish to achieve
such character as I am capable of,--such as circumstances permit.
During the summer I saw her influence over others. She was the
first one in the world who awakened in my own breast the desire
to be different.  I cannot hope that she will soon, if ever, look
upon me as a friend; but if she can even tolerate me with some degree
of kindliness and good-will, I feel that I should be the better
and happier for meeting her occasionally. If this is impossible,
please say to her that the pledge implied among the last words
uttered on that evening, which I shall never forget, shall be kept.
I shall try to look at right and duty as she would."

As he concluded, Mr. Vosburgh's face softened somewhat. For a while
the young man's sentences had been a little formal and studied,
evidently the result of much consideration; they had nevertheless
the impress of truth. The gentleman's thought was: "If Mr. Merwyn
makes good his words by deeds this affair has not yet ended. My
little girl has been much too angry and severe not to be in danger
of a reaction."

After a moment of silence he said: "Mr. Merwyn, I can only speak for
myself in this matter. Of course, I naturally felt all a father's
resentment at your earlier attentions to my daughter. Since you
have condemned them unsparingly I need not refer to them again. I
respect your disposition to atone for the past and to enter on a
life of manly duty. You have my hearty sympathy, whatever may be the
result.  I also thank you for your frank words to me. Nevertheless,
Miss Vosburgh must answer the questions you have asked. She is
supreme in her drawing-room, and alone can decide whom she will
receive there.  I know she will not welcome any one whom she believes
to be unworthy to enter. I will tell her all that you have said."

"I do not hope to be welcomed, sir. I only ask to be received with
some degree of charity. May I call on you to-morrow and learn Miss
Vosburgh's decision?"

"Certainly, at any hour convenient to you."

Merwyn bowed and retired. When alone he said, with a deep sigh of
relief: "Well, I have done all in my power at present. If she has
a woman's heart she won't be implacable."

"What kept you so late?" Mrs. Vosburgh asked, as her husband came
down to dinner.

"A gentleman called and detained me."

"Give him my compliments when you see him again," said Marian,
"and tell him that I don't thank him for his unreasonable hours.
You need more recreation, papa. Come, take us out to hear some
music to-night."

A few hours later they were at the Academy, occupying balcony
seats.  Marian was glancing over the house, between the acts, with
her glass, when she suddenly arrested its motion, and fixed it on
a lonely occupant of an expensive box. After a moment she handed
the lorgnette to her father, and directed him whither to look. He
smiled and said, "He appears rather pensive and preoccupied, doesn't
he?"

"I don't fancy pensive, preoccupied men in these times. Why didn't
he fill his box, instead of selfishly keeping it all to himself?"

"Perhaps he could not secure the company he wished."

"Who is it?" Mrs. Vosburgh asked.

She was told, and gave Merwyn a longer scrutiny than the others.

"Shall I go and give him your compliments and the message you spoke
of at dinner?" resumed Mr. Vosburgh, in a low tone.

"Was it Mr. Merwyn that called so late?" she asked, with a sudden
intelligence in her eyes.

Her father nodded, while the suggestion of a smile hovered about
his mouth.

"Just think of it, Marian!" said Mrs. Vosburgh. "We all might now
be in that box if you had been like other girls."

"I am well content where I am."

During the remainder of the evening Mr. Vosburgh observed some
evidences of suppressed excitement in Marian, and saw that she
managed to get a glimpse of that box more than once. Long before
the opera ended it was empty. He pointed out the fact, and said,
humorously, "Mr. Merwyn evidently has something on his mind."

"I should hope so; and so have you, papa. Has he formally demanded
my hand with the condition that you stop the war, and inform the
politicians that this is their quarrel, and that they must fight
it out with toothpicks?"

"No; his request was more modest than that."

"You think I am dying with curiosity, but I can wait until we get
home."

When they returned, Mr. Vosburgh went to his library, for he was
somewhat owlish in his habits.

Marian soon joined him, and said: "You must retire as soon as you
have finished that cigar. Even the momentous Mr. Merwyn shall not
keep us up a second longer. Indeed, I am so sleepy already that I may
ask you to begin your tale to-night, and end with 'to be continued.'"

He looked at her so keenly that her color rose a little, then said,
"I think, my dear, you will listen till I say 'concluded;'" and he
repeated the substance of Merwyn's words.

She heard him with a perplexed little frown. "What do you think I
ought to do, papa?"

"Do you remember the conversation we had here last June?"

"Yes; when shall I forget it?"

"Well, since you wish my opinion I will give it frankly. It then
became your ambition to make the most and best of men over whom
you had influence, if they were worth the effort. Merwyn has been
faulty and unmanly, as he fully admits himself, but he has proved
apparently that he is not commonplace. You must take your choice,
either to resent the past, or to help him carry out his better
purposes. He does not ask much, although no doubt he hopes for far
more. In granting his request you do not commit yourself to his
hopes in the least."

"Well, papa, he said that I couldn't possess a woman's heart and
cast him off in utter contempt, so I think I shall have to put him
on probation. But he must be careful not to presume again. I can
be friendly to many, but a friend to very few. Before he suggests
that relation he must prove himself the peer of other friends."



CHAPTER XX.

"YOU THINK ME A COWARD."



MERWYN had not been long in the city before he was waited upon
and asked to do his share towards sustaining the opera, and he had
carelessly taken a box which had seldom been occupied. On the evening
after his interview with Mr. Vosburgh, his feeling of suspense was
so great that he thought he could beguile a few hours with music.
He found, however, that the light throng, and even the harmonious
sounds, irritated, rather than diverted, his perturbed mind, and
he returned to his lonely home, and restlessly paced apartments
rendered all the more dreary by their magnificence.

He proved his solicitude in a way that led Mr. Vosburgh to smile
slightly, for when that gentleman entered his office, Merwyn was
awaiting him.

"I have only to tell you," he said, in response to the young man's
questioning eyes, "that Miss Vosburgh accedes to your request as
you presented it to me;" and in parting he gave his hand with some
semblance of friendliness.

Merwyn went away elated, feeling that he had gained all for which
he had a right to hope. Eager as he was for the coming interview
with Marian, he dreaded it and feared that he might be painfully
embarrassed. In this eagerness he started early for an evening
call; but when he reached his destination, he hesitated, passing
and repassing the dwelling before he could gather courage to enter.
The young girl would have smiled, could she have seen her former
suitor, once so complacent and condescending. She certainly could
not complain of lack of humility now.

At last he perceived that two other callers had passed in, and he
followed them, feeling that their presence would enable both him
and the object of his thoughts to take refuge in conventionalities.

He was right in this view, for with a scarcely perceptible increase
of color, and a polite bow, Marian received him as she would any
other mere calling acquaintance, introduced him to the two gentlemen
present, and conversation at once became general. Merwyn did not
remain long under constraint. Even Marian had to admit to herself
that he acquitted himself well and promised better for the future.
When topics relating to the war were broached, he not only talked
as loyally as the others, but also proved himself well informed.
Mrs.  Vosburgh soon appeared and greeted him cordially, for the
lady was ready enough to entertain the hopes which his presence
again inspired. He felt that his first call, to be in good taste,
should be rather brief, and he took his departure before the others,
Marian bowing with the same distant politeness that had characterized
her greeting. She made it evident that she had granted just what he
had asked and nothing more. Whether he could ever inspire anything
like friendliness the future only would reveal. He had serious
doubts, knowing that he suffered in contrast with even the guests
of the present evening. One was an officer home on sick-leave; the
other exempted from military duty by reason of lameness, which did
not extend to his wit and conversational powers. Merwyn also knew
that he would ever be compared with those near friends now in
Virginia.

What did he hope? What could he hope? He scarcely knew, and would
not even entertain the questions. He was only too glad that the door
was not closed to him, and, with the innate hopefulness of youth,
he would leave the future to reveal its possibilities. He was so
thoroughly his father's son that he would not be disheartened, and
so thoroughly himself that the course he preferred would be the
one followed, so far as was now possible.

"Well?" said Mr. Vosburgh, when Marian came to the library to kiss
him good-night.

"What a big, long question that little word contains!" she cried,
laughing, and there was a little exhilaration in her manner which
did not escape him.

"You may tell me much, little, or nothing."

"I will tell you nothing, then, for there is nothing to tell.
I received and parted with Mr. Merwyn on his terms, and those you
know all about. Mamma was quite gracious, and my guests were polite
to him."

"Are you willing to tell me what impression he made in respect to
his loyalty?"

"Shrewd papa! You think this the key to the problem. Perhaps it
is, if there is any problem. Well, so far as WORDS went he proved
his loyalty in an incidental way, and is evidently informing himself
concerning events. If he has no better proof to offer than words,
his probation will end unfavorably, even though he may not be
immediately aware of the fact. Of course, now that I have granted
his request, I must be polite to him so long as he chooses to come."

"Was he as complacent and superior as ever?"

"Whither is your subtlety tending? Are you, as well as mamma, an
ally of Mr. Merwyn? You know he was not. Indeed, I must admit that,
in manner, he carried out the spirit of his request."

"Then, to use your own words, he was 'befittingly humble'? No, I am
not his ally. I am disposed to observe the results of your experiment."

"There shall be no experimenting, papa. Circumstances have enabled
him to understand me as well as he ever can, and he must act in
view of what he knows me to be. I shall not seek to influence him,
except by being myself, nor shall I lower my standard in his favor."

"Very well, I shall note his course with some interest. It is
evident, however, that the uncertainties of his future action will
not keep either of us awake."

When she left him, he fell into a long revery, and his concluding
thoughts were: "I doubt whether Marian understands herself in respect
to this young fellow. She is too resentful. She does not feel the
indifference which she seeks to maintain. The subtle, and, as yet,
unrecognized instinct of her womanhood leads her to stand aloof.
This would be the natural course of a girl like Marian towards a man
who, for any cause, had gained an unusual hold upon her thoughts.
I must inform myself thoroughly in regard to this Mr.  Merwyn. Thus
far her friends have given me little solicitude; but here is one,
towards whom she is inclined to be hostile, that it may be well to
know all about. Even before she is aware of it herself, she is on
the defensive against him, and this, to a student of human nature,
is significant. She virtually said to-night that he must win his
way and make his own unaided advances toward manhood. Ah, my little
girl! if it was not in him ever to have greater power over you than
Mr. Strahan, you would take a kindlier interest in his efforts."

If Marian idolized her father as she had said, it can readily
be guessed how much she was to him, and that he was not forgetful
of his purpose to learn more about one who manifested so deep an
interest in his daughter, and who possibly had the power to create
a responsive interest. It so happened that he was acquainted with
Mr.  Bodoin, and had employed the shrewd lawyer in some government
affairs. Another case had arisen in which legal counsel was required,
and on the following day advice was sought.

When this part of the interview was over, Mr. Vosburgh remarked,
casually, "By the way, I believe you are acquainted with Mr. Willard
Merwyn and his affairs."

"Yes," replied the lawyer, at once on the alert.

"Do your relations to Mr. Merwyn permit you to give me some
information concerning him?"

The attorney thought rapidly. His client had recently been inquiring
about Mr. Vosburgh, and, therefore, the interest was mutual.
On general principles it was important that the latter should be
friendly, for he was a secret and trusted agent of the government,
and Mrs. Merwyn's course might render a friend at court essential.
Although the son had not mentioned Marian's name, Mr. Bodoin
shrewdly guessed that she was exerting the influence that had so
greatly changed the young man's views and plans. The calculating
lawyer had never imagined that he would play the role of match-maker,
but he was at once convinced that, in the stormy and uncertain
times, Merwyn could scarcely make a better alliance than the one
he meditated. Therefore with much apparent frankness the astute
lawyer told Mr. Vosburgh all that was favorable to the young man.

"I think he will prove an unusual character," concluded the lawyer,
"for he is manifesting some of his father's most characteristic
traits," and these were mentioned. "When, after attaining his
majority, the son returned from England, he was in many respects
little better than a shrewd, self-indulgent boy, indifferent
to everything but his own pleasure, but, for some reason, he has
greatly changed. Responsibility has apparently sobered him and made
him thoughtful. I have also told him much about my old friend and
client, his father, and the young fellow is bent on imitating him.
While he is very considerate of his mother and sisters, he has
identified himself with his father's views, and has become a Northern
man to the backbone. Even to a degree contrary to my advice, he
insists on investing his means in government bonds."

This information was eminently satisfactory, and even sagacious
Mr.  Vosburgh did not suspect the motives of the lawyer, whom he
knew to be eager to retain his good-will, since it was in his power
to give much business to those he trusted.

"I may become Merwyn's ally after all, if he makes good his own
and Mr. Bodoin's words," was his smiling thought, as he returned
to his office.

He was too wise, however, to use open influence with his daughter,
or to refer to the secret interview. Matters should take their own
course for the present, while he remained a vigilant observer, for
Marian's interest and happiness were dearer to him than his own
life.

Merwyn sought to use his privilege judiciously, and concentrated
all his faculties on the question of his standing in Marian's
estimation. During the first few weeks, it was evident that his
progress in her favor was slow, if any were made at all. She was
polite, she conversed with him naturally and vivaciously on topics
of general interest, but there appeared to be viewless and impassable
barriers between them. Not by word or sign did she seek to influence
his action.

She was extremely reticent about herself, and took pains to seem
indifferent in regard to his life and plans, but she was beginning
to chafe under what she characterized as his "inaction." Giving
to hospitals and military charities and buying United-States bonds
counted for little in her eyes.

"He parades his loyalty, and would have me think that he looks upon
the right to call on me as a great privilege, but he does not care
enough about either me or the country to incur any risk or hardship."

Thoughts like these were beginning not only to rekindle her old
resentment, but also to cause a vague sense of disappointment.
Merwyn had at least accomplished one thing,--he confirmed her
father's opinion that he was not commonplace. Travel, residence
abroad, association with well-bred people, and a taste for reading,
had given him a finish which a girl of Marian's culture could not
fail to appreciate. Because he satisfied her taste and eye, she
was only the more irritated by his failure in what she deemed the
essential elements of manhood. In spite of the passionate words
he had once spoken, she was beginning to believe that a cold,
calculating persistency was the corner-stone of his character, that
even if he were brave enough to fight, he had deliberately decided
to take no risks and enjoy his fortune. If this were true, she
assured herself, he might shoulder the national debt if he chose,
but he could never become her friend.

Then came the terrible and useless slaughter of Fredericksburg.
With the fatuity that characterized the earlier years of the war,
the heroic army of the Potomac, which might have annihilated Lee on
previous occasions, was hurled against heights and fortifications
that, from the beginning, rendered the attack hopeless.

Marian's friends were exposed to fearful perils, but passed through
the conflict unscathed. Her heart went out to them in a deeper and
stronger sympathy than ever, and Merwyn in contrast lost correspondingly.

During the remaining weeks of December, she saw that her father
was almost haggard from care and anxiety, and he was compelled to
make trips to Washington and even to the front.

"The end has not come yet," he had said to her, after one of these
flying visits. "Burnside has made an awful blunder, but he is
eager to retrieve himself, and now has plans on foot that promise
better.  The disaffection among his commanding officers and troops
is what I am most afraid of--more, indeed, than of the rebel army.
Unlike his predecessor, he is determined to move, to act, and I
think we may soon hear of another great battle."

Letters from her friends confirmed this view, especially a brief
note from Lane, in which the writer, fearing that it might be his
last, had not wholly veiled his deep affection. "I am on the eve
of participating in an immense cavalry movement," it began, "and
it may be some time before I can write to you again, if ever."

The anxiety caused by this missive was somewhat relieved by
a humorous account of the recall of the cavalry force. She then
learned, through her father, that the entire army was again on the
move, and that another terrific battle would be fought in a day or
two.

"Burnside should cross the Rappahannock to-day or to-morrow, at
the latest," Mr. Vosburgh had remarked at breakfast, to which he
had come from the Washington owl-train.

It was the 20th of December, and when the shadows of the early
twilight were gathering, Burnside had, in fact, massed his army
at the fords of the river, and his troops, "little Strahan" among
them, were awaiting orders to enter the icy tide in the stealthy
effort to gain Lee's left flank. There are many veterans now living
who remember the terrific "storm of wind, rain, sleet, and snow"
that assailed the unsheltered army. It checked further advance more
effectually than if all the rebel forces had been drawn up on the
farther shore. After a frightful night, the Union army was discovered
in the dawn by Lee.

Even then Burnside would have crossed, and, in spite of his opponent's
preparations and every other obstacle, would have fought a battle,
had he not been paralyzed by a foe with which no general could
cope,--Virginia mud. The army mired helplessly, supply trains could
not reach it. With difficulty the troops were led back to their
old quarters, and so ended the disastrous campaigns of the year,
so far as the army of the Potomac was concerned.

The storm that drenched and benumbed the soldiers on the Rappahannock
was equally furious in the city of New York, and Mr.  Vosburgh
sat down to dinner frowning and depressed. "It seems as if fate is
against us," he said. "This storm is general, I fear, and may prove
more of a defence to Lee than his fortifications at Fredericksburg.
It's bad enough to have to cope with treachery and disaffection."

"Treachery, papa?"

"Yes, treachery," replied her father, sternly. "Scoundrels in our
own army informed Washington disunionists of the cavalry movement
of which Captain Lane wrote you, and these unmolested enemies
at the capital are in constant communication with Lee. When will
our authorities and the North awake to the truth that this is a
life-and-death struggle, and that there must be no more nonsense?"

"Would to Heaven I were a man!" said the young girl. "At this very
moment, no doubt, Mr. Merwyn is enjoying his sumptuous dinner, while
my friends may be fording a dark, cold river to meet their death.
Oh! I can't eat anything to-night."

"Nonsense!" cried her mother, irritably.

"Come, little girl, you are taking things too much to heart. I am
very glad you are not a man. In justice, I must also add that Mr.
Merwyn is doing more for the cause than any of your friends. It so
happens that I have learned that he is doing a great deal of which
little is known."

"Pardon me," cried the girl, almost passionately. "Any man who
voluntarily faces this storm, and crosses that river to-night or
to-morrow, does infinitely more in my estimation."

Her father smiled, but evidently his appetite was flagging also,
and he soon went out to send and receive some cipher despatches.

Merwyn was growing hungry for some evidence of greater friendliness
than he had yet received. Hitherto, he had never seen Marian alone
when calling, and the thought had occurred that if he braved the
storm in paying her a visit, the effort might be appreciated. One
part of his hope was fulfilled, for he found her drawing-room empty.
While he waited, that other stormy and memorable evening when he
had sought to find her alone flashed on his memory, and he feared
that he had made a false step in coming.

This impression was confirmed by her pale face and distant greeting.
In vain he put forth his best efforts to interest her. She remained
coldly polite, took but a languid part in the conversation, and at
times even permitted him to see that her thoughts were preoccupied.
He had been humble and patient a long time, and now, in spite of
himself, his anger began to rise.

Feeling that he had better take his leave while still under
self-control, and proposing also to hint that she had failed somewhat
in courtesy, he arose abruptly and said: "You are not well this
evening, Miss Vosburgh? I should have perceived the fact earlier.
I wish you good-night."

She felt the slight sting of his words, and was in no mood to
endure it. Moreover, if she had failed in such courtesy as he had
a right to expect, he should know the reason, and she felt at the
moment willing that he should receive the implied reproach.

Therefore she said: "Pardon me, I am quite well. It is natural that
I should be a little distraite, for I have learned that my friends
are exposed to this storm, and will probably engage in another
terrible battle to-morrow, or soon."

Again the old desperate expression, that she remembered so well,
came into his eyes as he exclaimed, bitterly: "You think me a coward
because I remain in the city? What is this storm, or that battle,
compared with what I am facing! Good-night;" and, giving her no
chance for further words, he hastened away.



CHAPTER XXI.

FEARS AND PERPLEXITIES.



MERWYN found the storm so congenial to his mood that he breasted
it for hours before returning to his home. There, in weariness and
reaction, he sank into deep dejection.

"What is the use of anger?" he asked himself, as he renewed the
dying fire in his room. "In view of all the past, she has more
cause for resentment than I, while it is a matter of indifference
to her whether I am angry or not. I might as well be incensed at
ice because it is cold, and she is ice to me. She has her standard
and a circle of friends who come up to it. This I never have done
and never can do. Therefore she only tolerates me and is more than
willing that I should disappear below her horizon finally. I was a
fool to speak the words I did to-night. What can they mean to her
when nothing is left for me, apparently, but a safe, luxurious life?
Such outbreaks can only seem hysterical or mere affectations, and
there shall be no more of them, let the provocation be what it may.
Indeed, why should I inflict myself on her any more? I cannot say
that she has not a woman's heart, but I wronged and chilled it
from the first, and cannot now retrieve myself. If I should go to
her to-morrow, even in a private's uniform, she would give me her
hand cordially, but she compares me with hundreds of thousands who
seem braver men than I. It is useless for me to suggest that I am
doing more than those who go to fight. Her thought would be: 'I
have all the friends I need among more knightly spirits who are
not afraid to look brave enemies in the face, and without whom the
North would be disgraced. Let graybeards furnish the sinews of war;
let young men give their blood if need be. It is indeed strange
that a man's arm should be paralyzed, and his best hope in life
blighted, by a mother!'"

If he could have known Marian's thoughts and heard the conversation
that ensued with her father, he would not have been so despondent.

When he left her so abruptly she again experienced the compunctions
she had felt before. Whether he deserved it or not she could not
shut her eyes to the severity of the wound inflicted, or to his
suffering. In vain she tried to assure herself that he did deserve it.
Granting this, the thoughts asserted themselves: "Why am I called
upon to resent his course? Having granted his request to visit me,
I might, at least, be polite and affable on his own terms.  Because
he wishes more, and perhaps hopes for more, this does not, as papa
says, commit me in the least. He may have some scruple in fighting
openly against the land of his mother's ancestry. If that scruple
has more weight with him than my friendly regard, that is his affair.
His words to-night indicated that he must be under some strong
restraint. O dear! I wish I had never known him; he perplexes and
worries me. The course of my other friends is simple and straightforward
as the light. Why do I say other friends? He's not a friend at all,
yet my thoughts return to him in a way that is annoying."

When her father came home she told him what had occurred, and
unconsciously permitted him to see that her mind was disturbed.
He did not smile quizzically, as some sagacious people would have
done, thus touching the young girl's pride and arraying it against
her own best interests, it might be. With the thought of her
happiness ever uppermost, he would discover the secret causes of her
unwonted perturbation. Not only Merwyn--about whom he had satisfied
himself--should have his chance, but also the girl herself. Mrs.
Vosburgh's conventional match-making would leave no chance for
either. The profounder man believed that nature, unless interfered
with by heavy, unskilful hands, would settle the question rightly.

He therefore listened without comment, and at first only remarked,
"Evidently, Marian, you are not trying to make the most and best
of this young fellow."

"But, papa, am I bound to do this for people who are disagreeable
to me and who don't meet my views at all?"

"Certainly not. Indeed, you may have frozen Merwyn out of the list
of your acquaintances already."

"Well," replied the girl, almost petulantly, "that, perhaps, will
be the best ending of the whole affair."

"That's for you to decide, my dear."

"But, papa, I FEEL that you don't approve of my course."

"Neither do I disapprove of it. I only say, according to our bond
to be frank, that you are unfair to Merwyn. Of course, if he is
essentially disagreeable to you, there is no occasion for you to
make a martyr of yourself."

"That's what irritates me so," said the girl, impetuously. "He
might have made himself very agreeable. But he undervalued and
misunderstood me so greatly from the first that it was hard to
forgive him."

"If he hadn't shown deep contrition and regret for that course I
shouldn't wish you to forgive him, even though his antecedents had
made anything better scarcely possible."

"Come down to the present hour, then. What he asked of you is one
thing. I see what he wishes. He desires, at least, the friendship
that I give to those who fulfil my ideal of manhood in these times.
He has no right to seek this without meeting the conditions which
remove all hesitation in regard to others. It angers me that he does
so. I feel as if he were seeking to buy my good-will by donations
to this, that, and the other thing. He still misunderstands me.
Why can't he realize that, to one of my nature, fording the icy
Rappahannock to-night would count for more than his writing checks
for millions?"

"Probably he does understand it, and that is what he meant by
his words to-night, when he said, 'What is this storm, or what a
battle?'"

She was overwrought, excited, and off her guard, and spoke from a
deep impulse. "A woman, in giving herself, gives everything. If he
can't give up a scruple--I mean if his loyalty is so slight that
his mother's wishes and dead ancestors--"

"My dear little girl, you are not under the slightest obligation
to give anything," resumed her father, discreetly oblivious to the
significance of her words. "If you care to give a little good-will
and kindness to one whom you have granted the right to visit you,
they will tend to confirm and develop the better and manly qualities
he is now manifesting. You know I have peculiar faculties of finding
out about people, and, incidentally and casually, I have informed
myself about this Mr. Merwyn. I think I can truly say that he is
doing all and more than could be expected of a young fellow in his
circumstances, with the one exception that he does not put on our
uniform and go to the front. He may have reasons--very possibly, as
you think, mistaken and inadequate ones--which, nevertheless, are
binding on his conscience. What else could his words mean to-night?
He is not living a life of pleasure-seeking and dissipation, like so
many other young nabobs in the city. Apparently he has not sought
much other society than yours. Pardon me for saying it, but you
have not given him much encouragement to avoid the temptations that
are likely to assail a lonely, irresponsible young fellow. In one
sense you are under no obligation to do this; in another, perhaps
you are, for you must face the fact that you have great influence
over him.  This influence you must either use or throw away, as
you decide. You are not responsible for this influence; neither are
your friends responsible for the war. When it came, however, they
faced the disagreeable and dangerous duties that it brought."

"O papa! I have been a stupid, resentful fool."

"No, my dear; at the worst you have been misled by generous and
loyal impulses. Your deep sympathy with recent events has made you
morbid, and therefore unfair. To your mind Mr. Merwyn represented
the half-hearted element that shuns meeting what must be met at
every cost. If this were true of him I should share in your spirit,
but he appears to be trying to be loyal and to do what he can in
the face of obstacles greater than many overcome."

"I don't believe he will ever come near me again!" she exclaimed.

"Then you are absolved in the future. Of course we can make no
advances towards a man who has been your suitor."

Merwyn's course promised to fulfil her fear,--she now acknowledged
to herself that it was a fear,--for his visits ceased. She tried
to dismiss him from her thoughts, but a sense of her unfairness
and harshness haunted her. She did not see why she had not taken
her father's view, or why she had thrown away her influence that
accorded with the scheme of life to which she had pledged herself.
The very restraint indicated by his words was a mystery, and
mysteries are fascinating. She remembered, with compunction, that
not even his own mother had sought to develop a true, manly spirit
in him. "Now he is saying," she thought, bitterly, "that I, too,
am a fanatic,--worse than his mother."

Weeks passed and she heard nothing from him, nor did her father
mention his name. While her regret was distinct and positive,
it must not be supposed that it gave her serious trouble. Indeed,
the letters of Mr. Lane, and the semi-humorous journal of Strahan
and Blauvelt, together with the general claims of society and her
interest in her father's deep anxieties, were fast banishing it
from her mind, when, to her surprise, his card was handed to her
one stormy afternoon, late in January.

"I am sorry to intrude upon you, Miss Vosburgh," he began, as she
appeared, "but--"

"Why should you regard it as an intrusion, Mr. Merwyn?"

"I think a lady has a right to regard any unwelcome society as an
intrusion."

"Admitting even so much, it does not follow that this is an intrusion,"
she said, laughing. Then she added, with slightly heightened color:
"Mr. Merwyn, I must at least keep my own self-respect, and this
requires an acknowledgment. I was rude to you when you last called.
But I was morbid from anxiety and worry over what was happening.
I had no right to grant your request to call upon me and then fail
in courtesy."

"Will you, then, permit me to renew my old request?" he asked, with
an eagerness that he could not disguise.

"Certainly not. That would imply such utter failure on my part! You
should be able to forgive me one slip, remembering the circumstances."

"You have the most to forgive," he replied, humbly. "I asked for
little more than toleration, but I felt that I had not the right
to force even this upon you."

"I am glad you are inclined to be magnanimous," she replied,
laughing. "Women usually take advantage of that trait in men--when
they manifest it. We'll draw a line through the evening of the 20th
of December, and, as Jefferson says, in his superb impersonation
of poor old Rip, 'It don't count.' By the way, have you seen him?"
she asked, determined that the conversation should take a different
channel.

"No; I have been busy of late. But pardon me, Miss Vosburgh,
I'm forgetting my errand shamefully. Do not take the matter too
seriously. I think you have no reason to do so. Mr. Strahan is in
the city and is ill. I have just come from him."

Her face paled instantly, and she sank into a chair.

"I beg of you not to be so alarmed," he added, hastily. "I shall
not conceal anything from you. By the merest chance I saw him
coming up Broadway in a carriage, and, observing that he looked
ill, jumped into a hack and followed him to his residence. You had
reason for your anxiety on December 20th, for he took a severe cold
from exposure that night. For a time he made light of it, but at
last obtained sick-leave. He asked me to tell you--"

"He has scarcely mentioned the fact that he was not well;" and
there was an accent of reproach in the young girl's tones.

"I understand Strahan better than I once did, perhaps because better
able to understand him," was Merwyn's quiet reply. "He is a brave,
generous fellow, and, no doubt, wished to save you from anxiety.
There has been no chance for him to say very much to me."

"Was he expected by his family?"

"They were merely informed, by a telegram, that he was on his way.
He is not so well as when he started. Naturally he is worse for the
journey. Moreover, he used these words, 'I felt that I was going
to be ill and wished to get home.'"

"Has a physician seen him yet?"

"Yes, I brought their family physician in the hack, which I had kept
waiting. He fears that it will be some time before his patient is
out again. I have never been seriously ill myself, but I am sure--I
mean, I have heard--that a few words often have great influence in
aiding one in Strahan's condition to triumph over disease. It is
often a question of will and courage, you know. I will take a note
to him if you wish. Poor fellow! he may have his biggest fight on
hand while the others are resting in winter quarters."

"I shall be only too glad to avail myself of your offer. Please
excuse me a moment."

When she returned he saw traces of tears in her eyes. She asked,
eagerly, "Will you see him often?"

"I shall call daily."

"Would it be too much trouble for you to let me know how he is,
should he be very seriously ill?" Then, remembering that this might
lead to calls more frequent than she was ready to receive, or than
he would find it convenient to make, she added: "I suppose you
are often down town and might leave word with papa at his office.
I have merely a formal acquaintance with Mrs. Strahan and her
daughters, and, if Mr. Strahan should be very ill, I should have
to rely upon you for information."

"I shall make sure that you learn of his welfare daily until he
is able to write to you, and I esteem it a privilege to render you
this service."

He then bowed and turned away, and she did not detain him. Indeed,
her mind was so absorbed by her friend's danger that she could not
think of much else.

The next day a note, addressed to Mr. Vosburgh, was left at
his office, giving fuller particulars of Strahan's illness, which
threatened to be very serious indeed. High fever had been developed,
and the young soldier had lost all intelligent consciousness. Days
followed in which this fever was running its course, and Merwyn's
reports, ominous in spite of all effort to disguise the deep anxiety
felt by Strahan's friends, were made only through Mr. Vosburgh.
Marian began to regret her suggestion that the information should
come in this way, for she now felt that Merwyn had received the
impression that his presence would not be agreeable. She was eager
for more details and oppressed with the foreboding that she would
never see her light-hearted friend again. She was almost tempted
to ask Merwyn to call, but felt a strange reluctance to do so.

"I gave him sufficient encouragement to continue his visits," she
thought, "and he should distinguish between the necessity of coming
every day and the privilege of coming occasionally."

One evening her father looked very grave as he handed Marian the
note addressed to him.

"O papa!" exclaimed the girl, "he's worse!"

"Yes, I fear Strahan is in a very critical condition. I happened
to meet Merwyn when he left the note to-day, and the young fellow
himself looked haggard and ill. But he carelessly assured me that
he was perfectly well. He said that the crisis of Strahan's fever
was approaching, and that the indications were bad."

"Papa!" cried the girl, tearfully, "I can't endure this suspense
and inaction. Why would it be bad taste for us to call on Mrs.
Strahan this evening? She must know how dear a friend Arthur is to
me. I don't care for conventionality in a case like this. It seems
cold-blooded to show no apparent interest, and it might do Arthur
good if he should learn that we had been there because of our
anxiety and sympathy."

"Well, my dear, what you suggest is the natural and loyal course,
and therefore outweighs all conventionality in my mind. We'll go
after dinner."

Marian's doubt as to her reception by Mrs. Strahan was speedily
dispelled, for the sorrow-stricken mother was almost affectionate
in her welcome.

"Arthur, in his delirium, often mentions your name," she said, "and
then he is in camp or battle again, or else writing his journal.
I have thought of sending for you, but he wouldn't have known you.
He does not even recognize me, and has not for days. Our physician
commands absolute quiet and as little change in those about him as
possible. What we should have done without Mr. Merwyn I scarcely
know. He is with him now, and has watched every night since Arthur's
return. I never saw any one so changed, or else we didn't understand
him. He is tireless in his strength, and womanly in his patience.
His vigils are beginning to tell on him sadly, but he says that he
will not give up till the crisis is past. If Arthur lives he will
owe his life largely to one who, last summer, appeared too indolent
to think of anything but his own pleasure. How we often misjudge
people! They were boys and playmates together, and are both greatly
changed. O Miss Vosburgh, my heart just stands still with dread
when I think of what may soon happen. Arthur had become so manly,
and we were so proud of him! He has written me more than once of
your influence, and I had hoped that the way might open for our
better acquaintance."

"Do you think the crisis may come to-night?" Marian asked, with
quivering lips.

"Yes, it may come now at any hour. The physician will remain all
night."

"Oh, I wish I might know early in the morning. Believe me, I shall
not sleep."

"You shall know, Miss Vosburgh, and I hope you will come and see
me, whatever happens. You will please excuse me now, for I cannot
be away from Arthur at this time. I would not have seen any one
but you."

At one o'clock in the morning there was a ring at Mr. Vosburgh's
door. He opened it, and Merwyn stood there wrapped in his fur
cloak.  "Will you please give this note to Miss Vosburgh?" he said.
"I think it contains words that will bring welcome relief and hope.
I would not have disturbed you at this hour had I not seen your
light burning;" and, before Mr. Vosburgh could reply, he lifted
his hat and strode away.

The note ran as follows:

"MY DEAR MISS VOSBURGH:--Arthur became conscious a little before
twelve. He was fearfully weak, and for a time his life appeared
to flicker. I alone was permitted to be with him. After a while I
whispered that you had been here. He smiled and soon fell into a
quiet sleep. Our physician now gives us strong hopes.

"Sincerely and gratefully yours,

"CHARLOTTE STRAHAN."

Marian, who had been sleepless from thoughts more evenly divided
between her friend and Merwyn than she would have admitted even
to herself, handed the note to her father. Her face indicated both
gladness and perplexity. He read and returned it with a smile.

"Papa," she said, "you have a man's straightforward common-sense.
I am only a little half-girl and half-woman. Do you know, I almost
fear that both Mrs. Strahan and Mr. Merwyn believe I am virtually
engaged to Arthur."

"Their belief can't engage you," said her father, laughing. "Young
Strahan will get well, thanks to you and Merwyn. Mrs. Strahan said
that both were greatly changed. Merwyn certainly must have a hardy
nature, for he improves under a steady frost."

"Papa!" cried Marian, with a vivid blush, "you are a deeper and more
dangerous ally of Mr. Menvyn than mamma. I am on my guard against
you both, and I shall retire at once before you begin a panegyric
that will cease only when you find I am asleep."

"Yes, my dear, go and sleep the sleep of the unjust!"



CHAPTER XXII.

A GIRL'S THOUGHTS AND IMPULSES.



SLEEP, which Marian said would cut short her father's threatened
panegyrics of Merwyn, did not come speedily. The young girl had
too much food for thought.

She knew that Mrs. Strahan had not, during the past summer,
misunderstood her son's faithful nurse. In spite of all prejudice
and resentment, in spite of the annoying fact that he would intrude
so often upon her thoughts, she had to admit the truth that he was
greatly changed, and that, while she might be the cause, she could
take to herself no credit for the transformation. To others she had
given sincere and cordial encouragement. Towards him she had been
harsh and frigid. He must indeed possess a hardy nature, or else
a cold persistence that almost made her shiver, it was so indomitable.

She felt that she did not understand him; and she both shrunk from
his character and was fascinated by it. She could not now charge
him with disregard of her feelings and lack of delicacy. His visits
had ceased when he believed them to be utterly repugnant; he had
not availed himself of the opportunity to see her often afforded
by Strahan's illness, and had been quick to take the hint that he
could send his reports to her father. There had been no effort to
make her aware of his self-sacrificing devotion to her friend. The
thing that was irritating her was that he could approach so nearly
to her standard and yet fail in a point that to her was vital. His
course indicated unknown characteristics or circumstances, and she
felt that she could never give him her confidence and unreserved
regard while he fell short of the test of manhood which she believed
that the times demanded. If underneath all his apparent changes
for the better there was an innate lack of courage to meet danger
and hardship, or else a cold, calculating purpose not to take these
risks, she would shrink from him in strong repulsion. She knew
that the war had developed not a few constitutional cowards,--men
to be pitied, it is true, but with a commiseration that, in her
case, would be mingled with contempt. On the other hand, if he
reasoned, "I will win her if I can; I will do all and more than
she can ask, but I will not risk the loss of a lifetime's enjoyment
of my wealth," she would quietly say to him by her manner: "Enjoy
your wealth. I can have no part in such a scheme of existence; I
will not give my hand, even in friendship, to a man who would do
less than I would, were I in his place."

If her father was right, and he had scruples of conscience, or some
other unknown restraint, she felt that she must know all before
she would give her trust and more. If he could not satisfy her on
these points, as others had done so freely and spontaneously, he
had no right to ask or expect more from her than ordinary courtesy.

Having thus resolutely considered antidotes for a tendency towards
relentings not at all to her mind, and met, as she believed, her
father's charge of unfairness, her thoughts, full of sympathy and
hope, dwelt upon the condition of her friend. Recalling the past
and the present, her heart grew very tender, and she found that he
occupied in it a foremost place. Indeed, it seemed to her a species
of disloyalty to permit any one to approach his place and that of
Mr. Lane, for both formed an inseparable part of her new and more
earnest life.

She, too, had changed, and was changing. As her nature deepened and
grew stronger it was susceptible of deeper and stronger influences.
Under the old regime pleasure, excitement, triumphs of power that
ministered to vanity, had been her superficial motives. To the degree
that she had now attained true womanhood, the influences that act
upon and control a woman were in the ascendant. Love ceased to dwell
in her mind as a mere fastidious preference, nor could marriage
ever be a calculating choice, made with the view of securing the
greatest advantages. She knew that earnest men loved her without a
thought of calculation,--loved her for herself alone.  She called
them friends now, and to her they were no more as yet.  But their
downright sincerity made her sincere and thoughtful. Her esteem and
affection for them were so great that she was not at all certain
that circumstances and fuller acquaintance might not develop her
regard towards one or the other of them into a far deeper feeling.
In their absence, their manly qualities appealed to her imagination.
She had reached a stage in spiritual development where her woman's
nature was ready for its supreme requirement. She could be more
than friend, and was conscious of the truth; and she believed that
her heart would make a positive and final choice in accord with
her intense and loyal sympathies. In the great drama of the war
centred all that ideal and knightly action that has ever been so
fascinating to her sex, and daily conversation with her father had
enabled her to understand what lofty principles and great destinies
were involved. She had been shown how President Lincoln's proclamation,
freeing the slaves, had aimed a fatal blow at the chief enemies
of liberty, not only in this land, but in all lands.  Mr. Vosburgh
was a philosophical student of history, and, now that she had become
his companion, he made it clear to her how the present was linked
to the past. Instead of being imbued with vindictiveness towards
the South, she was made to see a brave, self-sacrificing, but misled
people, seeking to rivet their own chains and blight the future of
their fair land. Therefore, a man like Lane, capable of appreciating
and acting upon these truths, took heroic proportions in her fancy,
while Strahan, almost as delicate as a girl, yet brave as the best,
won, in his straightforward simplicity, her deepest sympathy. The
fact that the latter was near, that his heart had turned to her
even from under the shadow of death, gave him an ascendency for
the time.

"To some such man I shall eventually yield," she assured herself,
"and not to one who brings a chill of doubt, not to one unmastered
by loyal impulses to face every danger which our enemies dare meet."

Then she slept, and dreamt that she saw Strahan reaching out his
hands to her for help from dark, unknown depths.

She awoke sobbing, and, under the confused impulse of the moment,
exclaimed: "He shall have all the help I can give; he shall live.
While he is weaker, he is braver than Mr. Lane. He triumphed over
himself and everything. He most needs me. Mr. Lane is strong in
himself. Why should I be raising such lofty standards of self-sacrifice
when I cannot give love to one who most needs it, most deserves
it?"



CHAPTER XXIII.

"MY FRIENDSHIP IS MINE TO GIVE."



STRAHAN'S convalescence need not be dwelt upon, nor the subtle aid
given by Marian through flowers, fruit, and occasional calls upon
his mother.

These little kindnesses were tonics beyond the physician's skill,
and he grew stronger daily. Mrs. Strahan believed that things were
taking their natural course, and, with the delicacy of a lady,
was content to welcome the young girl in a quiet, cordial manner.
Merwyn tacitly accepted the mother's view, which she had not wholly
concealed in the sick-room, and which he thought had been confirmed
by Marian's manner and interest. With returning health Strahan's
old sense of humor revived, and he often smiled and sighed over
the misapprehension. Had he been fully aware of Marian's mood, he
might have given his physician cause to look grave over an apparent
return of fever.

In the reticence and delicacy natural to all the actors in this
little drama, thoughts were unspoken, and events drifted on in
accordance with the old relations. Merwyn's self-imposed duties of
nurse became lighter, and he took much-needed rest. Strahan felt
for him the strongest good-will and gratitude, but grew more and
more puzzled about him. Apparently the convalescent was absolutely
frank concerning himself. He spoke of his esteem and regard for
Marian as he always had done; his deeper affection he never breathed
to any one, although he believed the young girl was aware of it,
and he did not in the least blame her that she had no power to give
him more than friendship.

Of his military plans and hopes he spoke without reserve to Merwyn,
but in return received little confidence. He could not doubt the
faithful attendant who had virtually twice saved his life, but he
soon found a barrier of impenetrable reserve, which did not yield
to any manifestations of friendliness. Strahan at last came to
believe that it veiled a deep, yet hopeless regard for Marian. This
view, however, scarcely explained the situation, for he found his
friend even more reticent in respect to the motives which kept him
a civilian.

"I'd give six months' pay," said the young officer, on one occasion,
"if we had you in our regiment, and I am satisfied that I could
obtain a commission for you. You would be sure of rapid promotion.
Indeed, with your wealth and influence you could secure
a lieutenant-colonelcy in a new regiment by spring. Believe me,
Merwyn, the place for us young fellows is at the front in these
times. My blood's up,--what little I have left,--and I'm bound to
see the scrimmage out. You have just the qualities to make a good
officer. You could control and discipline men without bluster or
undue harshness. We need such officers, for an awful lot of cads
have obtained commissions."

Merwyn had walked to a window so that his friend could not see his
face, and at last he replied, quietly and almost coldly: "There
are some things, Strahan, in respect to which one cannot judge for
another. I am as loyal as you are now, but I must aid the cause in
my own way. I would prefer that you should not say anything more
on this subject, for it is of no use. I have taken my course, and
shall reveal it only by my action. There is one thing that I can
do, and shall be very glad to do. I trust we are such good friends
that you can accept of my offer. Your regiment has been depleted.
New men would render it more effective and add to your chances of
promotion.  It will be some time before you are fit for active service.
I can put you in the way of doing more than your brother-officers
in the regiment, even though you are as pale as a ghost. Open
a recruiting office near your country home again,--you can act at
present through a sergeant,--and I will give you a check which will
enable you to add to the government bounty so largely that you can
soon get a lot of hardy country fellows. No one need know where
the money comes from except ourselves."

Strahan laughed, and said: "It is useless for me to affect
squeamishness in accepting favors from you at this late day. I
believed you saved my life last summer, and now you are almost as
haggard as I am from watching over me. I'll take your offer in good
faith, as I believe you mean it. I won't pose as a self-sacrificing
patriot only. I confess that I am ambitious. You fellows used
to call me 'little Strahan.' YOU are all right now, but there are
some who smile yet when my name is mentioned, and who regard my
shoulder-straps as a joke. I've no doubt they are already laughing
at the inglorious end of my military career. I propose to prove
that I can be a soldier as well as some bigger and more bewhiskered
men.  I have other motives also;" and his thought was, "Marian may
feel differently if I can win a colonel's eagles."

Merwyn surmised as much, but he only said, quietly: "Your motives
are as good as most men's, and you have proved yourself a brave,
efficient officer. That would be enough for me, had I not other
motives also."

"Hang it all! I would tell you my motives if you would be equally
frank."

"Since I cannot be, you must permit me to give other proofs
of friendship. Nor do I expect, indeed I should be embarrassed by
receiving, what I cannot return."

"You're an odd fish, Merwyn. Well, I have ample reason to give you
my faith and loyalty, as I do. Your proposition has put new life
into me already. I needn't spend idle weeks--"

"Hold on. One stipulation. Your physician must regulate all your
actions. Remember that here, as at the front, the physician is, at
times, autocrat."

Mervvyn called twice on Marian during his friend's convalescence,
and could no longer complain of any lack of politeness. Indeed, her
courtesy was slightly tinged with cordiality, and she took occasion
to speak of her appreciation of his vigils at Strahan's side. Beyond
this she showed no disposition towards friendliness. At the same,
time, she could not even pretend to herself that she was indifferent.
He piqued both her pride and her curiosity, for he made no further
effort to reveal himself or to secure greater favor than she
voluntarily bestowed. She believed that her father looked upon her
course as an instance of feminine prejudice, of resentment prolonged
unnaturally and capriciously,--that he was saying to himself, "A
man would quarrel and have done with it after amends were made,
but a woman--"

"He regards this as my flaw, my weakness, wherein I differ from him
and his kind," she thought. "I can't help it. Circumstances have
rendered it impossible for me to feel toward Mr. Merwyn as toward
other men. I have thought the matter out and have taken my stand.
If he wishes more than I now give he must come up to my ground,
for I shall not go down to his."

She misunderstood her father. That sagacious gentleman said nothing,
and quietly awaited developments.

It was a glad day for Arthur Strahan when, wrapped and muffled
beyond all danger, he was driven, in a close carriage, to make an
afternoon visit to Marian. She greeted him with a kindness that
warmed his very soul, and even inspired hopes which he had, as yet,
scarcely dared to entertain. Time sped by with all the old easy
interchange of half-earnest nonsense. A deep chord of truth and
affection vibrated through even jest and merry repartee. Yet, so
profound are woman's intuitions in respect to some things, that,
now she was face to face with him again, she feared, before an hour
passed, that he could never be more to her than when she had given
him loyal friendship in the vine-covered cottage in the country.

"By the way," he remarked, abruptly, "I suppose you never punished
Merwyn as we both, at one time, felt that he deserved? He admits
that he calls upon you quite frequently, and speaks of you in terms
of strongest respect. You know I am his sincere, grateful friend
henceforth. I don't pretend to understand him, but I trust him,
and wish him well from the depths of my heart."

"I also wish him well," Marian remarked, quietly.

He looked at her doubtfully for a moment, then said, "Well, I
suppose you have reasons for resentment, but I assure you he has
changed very greatly."

"How do you know that, when you don't understand him?"

"I do know it," said the young fellow, earnestly. "Merwyn never
was like other people. He is marked by ancestry; strong-willed,
reticent on one side, proud and passionate on the other. My own
mother was not more untiring and gentle with me than he, yet if I
try to penetrate his reserve he becomes at once distant, and almost
cold.  When I thought he was seeking to amuse himself with you I
felt like strangling him; now that I know he has a sincere respect
for you, if not more, I have nothing against him. I wish he would
join us in the field, and have said as much to him more than once.
He has the means to raise a regiment himself, and there are few
possessing more natural ability to transform raw recruits into
soldiers."

"Why does he not join you in the field?" she asked, quickly, and
there was a trace of indignation in her tones.

"I do not think he will ever speak of his reasons to any one. At
least, he will not to me."

"Very well," she said; and there was significance in her cold,
quiet tones.

"They result from no lack of loyalty," earnestly resumed Strahan,
who felt that for some reason he was not succeeding as his friend's
advocate. "He has generously increased my chances of promotion by
giving me a large sum towards recruiting my regiment."

"After your hard experience, are you fully determined to go back?"
she asked, with a brilliant smile. "Surely you have proved your
courage, and, with your impaired health, you have a good reason
not for leaving the task to stronger men."

"And take my place contentedly among the weaker ones in your
estimation?" he added, flushing. "How could you suggest or think
such a thing? Certainly I shall go back as soon as my physician
permits, and I shall go to stay till the end, unless I am knocked
over or disabled."

Her eyes flashed exultantly as she came swiftly to him. "Now you
can understand me," she said, giving him her hand. "My friendship
and honor are for men like you and Mr. Lane and Mr. Blauvelt, who
offer all, and not for those who offer--MONEY."

"By Jove, Miss Marian, you make me feel as if I could storm Richmond
single-handed."

"Don't think I say this in any callous disregard of what may happen.
God knows I do not; but in times like these my heart chooses friends
among knightly men who voluntarily go to meet other men as brave.
Don't let us talk any more about Mr. Merwyn. I shall always treat
him politely, and I have gratefully acknowledged my indebtedness for
his care of you. He understands me, and will give me no opportunity
to do as you suggested, were I so inclined. His conversation is
that of a cultivated man, and as such I enjoy it; but there it all
ends."

"But I don't feel that I have helped my friend in your good graces
at all," protested Strahan, ruefully.

"Has he commissioned you to help him?" she asked, quickly.

"No, no, indeed. You don't know Merwyn, or you never would have
asked that question."

"Well, I prefer as friends those whom I do know, who are not
inshrouded in mystery or incased in reticence. No, Arthur Strahan,
my friendship is mine to give, be it worth much or little. If he
does not care enough for it to take the necessary risks, when the
bare thought of shunning them makes you flush hotly, he cannot
have it. All his wealth could not buy one smile from me. Now let
all this end. I respect your loyalty to him, but I have my own
standard, and shall abide by it;" and she introduced another topic.



CHAPTER XXIV.

A FATHER'S FORETHOUGHT.



STRAHAN improved rapidly in health, and was soon able to divide his
time between his city and his country home. The recruiting station
near the latter place was successful in securing stalwart men,
who were tempted by the unusually large bounties offered through
Merwyn's gift. The young officer lost no opportunities of visiting
Marian's drawing-room, and, while his welcome continued as cordial
as ever, she, nevertheless, indicated by a frank and almost sisterly
manner the true state of her feelings toward him. The impulse
arising at the critical hour of his illness speedily died away. His
renewed society confirmed friendship, but awakened nothing more,
and quieter thoughts convinced her that the future must reveal what
her relations should be to him and to others.

As he recovered health her stronger sympathy went out to Mr. Lane,
who had not asked for leave of absence.

"I am rampantly well," he wrote, "and while my heart often travels
northward, I can find no plausible pretext to follow. I may receive
a wound before long which will give me a good excuse, since, for
our regiment, there is prospect of much active service while the
infantry remain in winter quarters. It is a sad truth that the
army is discouraged and depleted to a degree never known before.
Homesickness is epidemic. A man shot himself the other day because
refused a furlough. Desertions have been fearfully numerous among
enlisted men, and officers have urged every possible excuse for
leaves of absence. A man with my appetite stands no chance whatever,
and our regimental surgeon laughs when I assure him that I am
suffering from acute heart-disease. Therefore, my only hope is a
wound, and I welcome our prospective raid in exchange for dreary
picket duty."

Marian knew what picket duty and raiding meant in February weather,
and wrote words of kindly warmth that sustained her friend through
hard, prosaic service.

She also saw that her father was burdened with heavy cares and
responsibilities. Disloyal forces and counsels were increasing in
the great centres at the North, and especially in New York City.
Therefore he was intrusted with duties of the most delicate and
difficult nature. It was her constant effort to lead him to forget
his anxieties during such evenings as he spent at home, and when
she had congenial callers she sometimes prevailed upon him to take
part in the general conversation. It so happened, one evening, that
Strahan and Merwyn were both present. Seeing that the latter felt
a little de trop, Mr. Vosburgh invited him to light a cigar in the
dining-room, and the two men were soon engaged in animated talk,
the younger being able to speak intelligently of the feeling in
England at the time. By thoughtful questions he also drew out his
host in regard to affairs at home.

The two guests departed together, and Marian, observing the pleased
expression on her father's face, remarked, "You have evidently
found a congenial spirit."

"I found a young fellow who had ideas and who was not averse to
receiving more."

"You can relieve my conscience wholly, papa," said the young girl,
laughing. "When Mr. Merwyn comes hereafter I shall turn him over
to you. He will then receive ideas and good influence at their
fountain-head. You and mamma are inclined to give him so much
encouragement that I must be more on the defensive than ever."

"That policy would suit me exactly," replied her father, with
a significant little nod. "I don't wish to lose you, and I'm more
afraid of Merwyn than of all the rest together."

"More afraid of HIM!" exclaimed the girl, with widening eyes.

"Of him."

"Why?"

"Because you don't understand him."

"That's an excellent reason for keeping him at a distance."

"Reason, reason. What has reason to do with affairs of this kind?"

"Much, in my case, I assure you. Thank you for forewarning me so
plainly."

"I've no dark designs against your peace."

Nevertheless, these half-jesting words foreshadowed the future,
so far as Mr. Vosburgh and Mr. Merwyn were concerned. Others were
usually present when the latter called, and he always seemed to
enjoy a quiet talk with the elder man. Mrs. Vosburgh never failed
in her cordiality, or lost hope that his visits might yet lead to
a result in accordance with her wishes. Marian made much sport of
their protege, as she called him, and, since she now treated him with
the same courtesy that other mere calling acquaintances received,
the habit of often spending part of the evening at the modest home
grew upon him. Mr. Vosburgh soon discovered that the young man
was a student of American affairs and history. This fact led to
occasional visits by the young man to the host's library, which
was rich in literature on these subjects.

On one stormy evening, which gave immunity from other callers,
Marian joined them, and was soon deeply interested herself. Suddenly
becoming conscious of the fact, she bade them an abrupt good-night
and went to her room with a little frown on her brow.

"It's simply exasperating," she exclaimed, "to see a young fellow
of his inches absorbed in American antiquities when the honor and
liberty of America are at stake. Then, at times, he permits such
an expression of sadness to come into his big black eyes! He is
distant enough, but I can read his very thoughts, and he thinks
me obduracy itself. He will soon return to his elegant home and
proceed to be miserable in the most luxurious fashion. If he were
riding with Mr.  Lane, to-night, on a raid, he would soon distinguish
between his cherished woe and a soldier's hardships."

Nevertheless, she could do little more than maintain a mental
protest at his course, in which he persevered unobtrusively, yet
unfalteringly. There was no trace of sentiment in his manner toward
her, nor the slightest conscious appeal for sympathy. His conversation
was so intelligent, and at times even brilliant, that she could not
help being interested, and she observed that he resolutely chose
subjects of an impersonal character, shunning everything relating
to himself. She could not maintain any feeling approaching contempt,
and the best intrenchment she could find was an irritated perplexity.
She could not deny that his face was growing strong in its manly
beauty. Although far paler and thinner than when she had first
seen it, a heavy mustache and large, dark, thoughtful eyes relieved
it from the charge of effeminacy. Every act, and even his tones,
indicated high breeding, and she keenly appreciated such things.
His reserve was a stimulus to thought, and his isolated life was
unique for one in his position, while the fact that he sought her
home and society with so little to encourage him was strong and
subtle homage. More than all, she thought she recognized a trait
in him which rarely fails to win respect,--an unfaltering will.
Whatever his plans or purposes were, the impression grew stronger
in her mind that he would not change them.

"But I have a pride and a will equal to his," she assured herself.
"He can come thus far and no farther. Papa thinks I will yield
eventually to his persistence and many fascinations. Were this
possible, no one should know it until he had proved himself the
peer of the bravest and best of my time."

Winter had passed, and spring brought not hope and gladness, but
deepening dread as the hour approached when the bloody struggle
would be renewed. Mr. Lane had participated in more than one cavalry
expedition, but had received no wounds. Strahan was almost ready
to return, and had sent much good material to the thinned ranks of
his regiment. His reward came promptly, for at that late day men
were most needed, and he who furnished them secured a leverage
beyond all political influence. The major in his regiment resigned
from ill-health, and Strahan was promoted to the vacancy at once.
He received his commission before he started for the front, and
he brought it to Marian with almost boyish pride and exultation.
He had called for Merwyn on his way, and insisted on having his
company. He found the young fellow nothing loath.

Merwyn scarcely entertained the shadow of a hope of anything more
than that time would soften Marian's feelings toward him. The war
could not last forever. Unexpected circumstances might arise, and
a steadfast course must win a certain kind of respect. At any rate
it was not in his nature to falter, especially when her tolerance
was parting with much of its old positiveness. His presence undoubtedly
had the sanction of her father and mother, and for the former he
was gaining an esteem and liking independent of his fortunes with
the daughter. Love is a hardy plant, and thrives on meagre sustenance.
It was evident that the relations between Marian and Strahan were
not such as he had supposed during the latter's illness. Her respect
and friendship he would have, if it took a lifetime to acquire
them.  He would not be balked in the chief purpose of his life,
or retreat from the pledge, although it was given in the agony of
humiliation and defeat. As long as he had reason to believe that
her hand and heart were free, it was not in human nature to abandon
all hope.

On this particular evening Mr. Vosburgh admitted the young men,
and Marian, hearing Strahan's voice, called laughingly from the
parlor: "You are just in time for the wedding. I should have been
engaged to any one except you."

"Engaged to any one except me? How cruel is my fate!"

"Pardon me," began Merwyn quickly, and taking his hat again; "I
shall repeat my call at a time more opportune."

Marian, who had now appeared, said, in polite tones: "Mr. Merwyn,
stay by all means. I could not think of separating two such friends.
Our waitress has no relatives to whom she can go, therefore we are
giving her a wedding from our house."

"Then I am sure there is greater reason for my leave-taking
at present. I am an utter stranger to the bride, and feel that my
presence would seem an intrusion to her, at least. Nothing at this
time should detract from her happiness. Good-evening."

Marian felt the force of his words, and was also compelled to
recognize his delicate regard for the feelings of one in humble
station. She would have permitted him to depart, but Mr. Vosburgh
interposed quickly: "Wait a moment, Mr. Merwyn; I picked up a rare
book, down town, relating to the topic we were discussing the other
evening. Suppose you go up to my library. I'll join you there, for
the ceremony will soon be over. Indeed, we are now expecting the
groom, his best man, and the minister. It so happens that the happy
pair are Protestants, and so we can have an informal wedding."

"Oh, stay, Merwyn," said Strahan. "It was I who brought you here,
and I shouldn't feel that the evening was complete without you."

The former looked doubtfully at Marian, who added, quickly: "You
cannot refuse papa's invitation, Mr. Merwyn, since it removes the
only scruple you can have. It is, perhaps, natural that the bride
should wish to see only familiar faces at this time, and it was
thoughtful of you to remember this, but, as papa says, the affair
will soon be over."

"And then," resumed Strahan, "I have a little pie to show you, Miss
Marian, in which Merwyn had a big finger."

"I thought that was an affair between ourselves," said Merwyn,
throwing off his overcoat.

"Oh, do not for the world reveal any of Mr. Merwyn's secrets!"
cried the girl.

"It is no secret at all to you, Miss Marian, nor did I ever intend
that it should be one," Strahan explained.

"Mr. Merwyn, you labor under a disadvantage in your relations
with Mr. Strahan. He has friends, and friendship is not based on
reticence."

"Therefore I can have no friends, is the inference, I suppose."

"That cannot be said while I live," began the young officer, warmly;
but here a ring at the door produced instant dispersion. "I suppose
I can be present," Strahan whispered to Marian. "Barney Ghegan is
an older acquaintance of mine than of yours, and your pretty waitress
has condescended to smile graciously on me more than once, although
my frequent presence at your door must have taxed her patience."

"You have crossed her palm with too much silver, I fear, to make
frowns possible. Silver, indeed! when has any been seen? But money
in any form is said to buy woman's smiles."

"Thank Heaven it doesn't buy yours."

"Hush! Your gravity must now be portentous."

The aggressive Barney, now a burly policeman, had again brought
pretty Sally Maguire to terms, and on this evening received the
reward of his persistent wooing. After the ceremony and a substantial
supper, which Mrs. Vosburgh graced with her silver, the couple took
their brief wedding journey to their rooms, and Barney went on duty
in the morning, looking as if all the world were to his mind.

When Mr. Vosburgh went up to his library his step was at first
unnoted, and he saw his guest sitting before the fire, lost in a
gloomy revery. When observed, he asked, a little abruptly: "Is the
matter to which Mr. Strahan referred a secret which you wish kept?"

"Oh, no! Not as far as I am concerned. What I have done is a
bagatelle. I merely furnished a little money for recruiting purposes."

"It is not a little thing to send a good man to the front, Mr.
Merwyn."

"Nor is it a little thing not to go one's self," was the bitter
reply. Then he added, hastily, "I am eager to see the book to which
you refer."

"Pardon me, Mr. Merwyn, your words plainly reveal your inclination.
Would you not be happier if you followed it?"

"I cannot, Mr. Vosburgh, nor can I explain further. Therefore,
I must patiently submit to all adverse judgment." The words were
spoken quietly and almost wearily.

"I suppose that your reasons are good and satisfactory."

"They are neither good nor satisfactory," burst out the young man
with sudden and vindictive impetuosity. "They are the curse of my
life. Pardon me. I am forgetting myself. I believe you are friendly
at least. Please let all this be as if it were not." Then, as if
the possible import of his utterance had flashed upon him, he drew
himself up and said, coldly, "If, under the circumstances, you feel
I am unworthy of trust--"

"Mr. Merwyn," interrupted his host, "I am accustomed to deal with
men and to be vigilantly on my guard. My words led to what has
passed between us, and it ends here and now. I would not give you
my hand did I not trust you. Come, here is the book;" and he led
the way to a conversation relating to it.

Merwyn did his best to show a natural interest in the subject, but
it was evident that a tumult had been raised in his mind difficult
to control. At last he said: "May I take the book home? I will
return it after careful reading."

Mr. Vosburgh accompanied him to the drawing-room, and Marian
sportively introduced him to Major Strahan.

For a few minutes he was the gayest and most brilliant member of
the party, and then he took his leave, the young girl remarking,
"Since you have a book under your arm we cannot hope to detain you,
for I have observed that, with your true antiquarian, the longer
people have been dead the more interesting they become."

"That is perfectly natural," he replied, "for we can form all sorts
of opinions about them, and they can never prove that we are wrong."

"More's the pity, if we are wrong. Good-night."

"Order an extra chop, Merwyn, and I'll breakfast with you," cried
Strahan. "I've only two days more, you know."

"Well, papa," said Marian, joining him later in the library, "did
you and Mr. Merwyn settle the precise date when the Dutch took
Holland?"

"'More's the pity, if we ARE wrong!' I have been applying your
words to the living rather than to the dead."

"To Mr. Merwyn, you mean."

"Yes."

"Has he been unbosoming himself to you?"

"Oh, no, indeed!"

"Why then has he so awakened your sympathy?"

"I fear he is facing more than any of your friends."

"And, possibly, fear is the reason."

"I do not think so."

"It appears strange to me, papa, that you are more ready to trust
than I am. If there is nothing which will not bear the light, why
is he so reticent even to his friend?"

"I do not know the reasons for his course, nor am I sure that they
would seem good ones to me, but my knowledge of human nature is
at fault if he is not trustworthy. I wish we did know what burdens
his mind and trammels his action. Since we do not I will admit,
to-night, that I am glad you feel toward him just as you do."

"Papa, you entertain doubts at last."

"No, I admit that something of importance is unknown and bids fair
to remain so, but I cannot help feeling that it is something for
which he is not to blame. Nevertheless, I would have you take no
steps in the dark, were the whole city his."

"O papa! you regard this matter much too seriously. What steps had
I proposed taking? How much would it cost me to dispense with his
society altogether?"

"I do not know how much it might cost you in the end."

"Well, you can easily put the question to the test."

"That I do not propose to do. I shall not act as if what may be
a great misfortune was a fault. Events will make everything clear
some day, and if they clear him he will prove a friend whom I, at
least, shall value highly. He is an unusual character, one that
interests me greatly, whatever future developments may reveal. It
would be easy for me to be careless or arbitrary, as I fear many
fathers are in these matters. I take you into my confidence and
reveal to you my thoughts. You say that your reason has much to
do with this matter.  I take you at your word. Suspend judgment in
regard to Merwyn. Let him come and go as he has done. He will not
presume on such courtesy, nor do you in any wise commit yourself,
even to the friendly regard that you have for others. For your
sake, Marian, for the chances which the future may bring, I should
be glad if your heart and hand were free when I learn the whole
truth about this young fellow. I am no match-maker in the vulgar
acceptation of the word, but I, as well as you, have a deep interest
at stake. I have informed myself in regard to Mr. Merwyn, senior.
The son appears to have many of the former's traits. If he can never
meet your standard or win your love that ends the matter. But, in
spite of everything, he interests you deeply, as well as myself;
and were he taking the same course as your friend who has just
left, he would stand a better chance than that friend. You see how
frank I am, and how true to my promise to help you."

Marian came and leaned her arm on his shoulder as she looked
thoughtfully into the glowing grate.

At last she said: "I am grateful for your frankness, papa, and
understand your motives. Many girls would not make the sad blunders
they do had they such a counsellor as you, one who can be frank
without being blunt and unskilful. In respect to these subjects,
even with a daughter, there must be delicacy as well as precision
of touch."

"There should also be downright common-sense, Marian, a recognition
of tacts and tendencies, of what is and what may be. On one side
a false delicacy often seals the lips of those most interested,
until it is too late to speak; on the other, rank, wealth, and
like advantages are urged without any delicacy at all. These have
their important place, but the qualities which would make your
happiness sure are intrinsic to the man. You know it is in my line
to disentangle many a snarl in human conduct. Look back on the
past without prejudice, if you can. Merwyn virtually said that he
would make your standard of right and wrong his,--that he would
measure things as you estimate them, with that difference, of course,
inherent in sex. Is he not trying to do so? Is he not acting, with
one exception, as you would wish? Here comes in the one thing we
don't understand. As you suggest, it may be a fatal flaw in the
marble, but we don't know this. The weight of evidence, in my mind,
is against it. His course toward Strahan--one whom he might easily
regard as a rival--is significant. He gave him far more than
money; he drained his own vitality in seeking to restore his friend
to health. A coarse, selfish man always cuts a sorry figure in a
sick-room, and shuns its trying duties even in spite of the strongest
obligations. You remember Mrs. Strahan's tribute to Merwyn. Yet
there was no parade of his vigils, nor did he seek to make capital
out of them with you. Now I can view all these things dispassionately,
as a man, and, as I said before, they give evidence of an unusual
character. Apparently he has chosen a certain course, and he has
the will-power to carry it out. Your heart, your life, are still
your own. All I wish is that you should not bestow them so hastily
as not to secure the best possible guaranties of happiness.  This
young man has crossed your path in a peculiar way. You have immense
influence over him. So far as he appears free to act you influence
his action. Wait and see what it all means before you come to any
decision about him. Now," he concluded, smiling, "is my common-sense
applied to these affairs unnatural or unreasonable?"

"I certainly can wait with great equanimity," she replied, laughing,
"and I admit the reasonableness of what you say as you put it. Nor
can I any longer affect any disguises with you. Mr. Merwyn DOES
interest me, and has retained a hold upon my thoughts which has
annoyed me. He has angered and perplexed me. It has seemed as if
he said, 'I will give you so much for your regard; I will not give,
however, what you ask.' As you put it to-night, it is the same as
if he said, 'I cannot.' Why can he not? The question opens unpleasant
vistas to my mind. It will cost me little, however, to do as you
wish, and my curiosity will be on the qui vive, if nothing more."



CHAPTER XXV.

A CHAINED WILL.



IN due time Strahan departed, hopeful and eager to enter on the
duties pertaining to his higher rank. He felt that Marian's farewell
had been more than she had ever given him any right to expect.
Her manner had ever been too frank and friendly to awaken delusive
hopes, and, after all, his regard for her was characterized more
by boyish adoration than by the deep passion of manhood. To his
sanguine spirit the excitement of camp and the responsibilities of
his new position formed attractions which took all poignant regret
from his leave-taking, and she was glad to recognize this truth.
She had failed signally to carry out her self-sacrificing impulse,
when he was so ill, to reward his heroism and supplement his life
with her own; and she was much relieved to find that he appeared
satisfied with the friendship she gave, and that there was no
need of giving more. Indeed, he made it very clear that he was not
a patriotic martyr in returning to the front, and his accounts of
army life had shown that the semi-humorous journal, kept by himself
and Blauvelt, was not altogether a generous effort to conceal from
her a condition of dreary duty, hardship, and danger. Life in the
field has ever had its fascinations to the masculine nature, and
her friends were apparently finding an average enjoyment equal
to her own. She liked them all the better for this, since, to her
mind, it proved that that the knightly impulses of the past were
unspent,--that, latent in the breasts of those who had seemed mere
society fellows, dwelt the old virile forces.

"I shall prove," she assured herself, proudly, "that since true men
are the same now as when they almost lived in armor, so ladies in
their bowers have favors only for those to whom heroic action is
second nature."

Blauvelt had maintained the journal during Strahan's absence, doing
more with pencil than pen, and she had rewarded him abundantly
by spicy little notes, full of cheer and appreciation. She had
no scruples in maintaining this correspondence, for in it she had
her father's sanction, and the letters were open to her parents'
inspection when they cared to see them. Indeed, Mr. and Mrs.
Vosburgh enjoyed the journal almost as much as Marian herself.

After Strahan's departure, life was unusually quiet in the young
girl's home. Her father was busy, as usual, and at times anxious,
for he was surrounded by elements hostile to the government. Aware,
however, that the army of the Potomac was being largely reinforced,
that General Hooker was reorganizing it with great success, and
that he was infusing into it his own sanguine spirit, Mr. Vosburgh
grew hopeful that, with more genial skies and firmer roads, a blow
would be struck which would intimidate disloyalty at the North as
well as in the South.

Marian shared in this hopefulness, although she dreaded to think
how much this blow might cost her, as well as tens of thousands of
other anxious hearts.

At present her mind was at rest in regard to Mr. Lane, for he had
written that his regiment had returned from an expedition on which
they had encountered little else than mud, sleet, and rain. The
prospects now were that some monotonous picket-duty in a region
little exposed to danger would be their chief service, and that
they would be given time to rest and recruit.

This lull in the storm of war was Merwyn's opportunity. The inclement
evenings often left Marian unoccupied, and she divided her time
between her mother's sitting-room and her father's library, where
she often found her quondam suitor, and not infrequently he spent
an hour or two with her in the parlor. In a certain sense she had
accepted her father's suggestions. She was studying the enigma with
a lively curiosity, as she believed, and had to admit to herself
that the puzzle daily became more interesting. Merwyn pleased her
fastidious taste and interested her mind, and the possibilities
suggested by her own and her father's words made him an object
of peculiar and personal interest. The very uniqueness of their
relations increased her disposition to think about him. It might
be impossible that he should ever become even her friend; he might
become her husband. Her father's remark, "I don't know how much it
might cost you to dismiss him finally," had led to many questionings.
Other young men she substantially understood. She could gauge their
value, influence, and attractiveness almost at once; but what
possibilities lurked in this reticent man who came so near her ideal,
yet failed at a vital point? The wish, the effort to understand
him, gave an increasing zest to their interviews. He had asked her
to be his wife. She had understood him then, and had replied as she
would again if he should approach her in a similar spirit. Again,
at any hour he would ask her hand if she gave him sufficient
encouragement, and she knew it. He would be humility itself in suing
for the boon, and she knew this also, yet she did not understand
him at all. His secret fascinated her, yet she feared it. It must
be either some fatal flaw in his character, or else a powerful
restraint imposed from without. If it was the former she would shrink
from him at once; if the latter, it would indeed be a triumph, a
proof of her power, to so influence him that he would make her the
first consideration in the world.

Every day, however, increased her determination to exert this
influence only by firmly maintaining her position. If he wished
her friendship and an equal chance with others for more, he must
prove himself the equal of others in all respects. By no words
would she ever now hint that he should take their course; but she
allowed herself to enhance his motives by permitting him to see
her often, and by an alluring yet elusive courtesy, of which she
was a perfect mistress.

This period was one of mingled pain and pleasure to Merwyn.
Remembering his interview with Mr. Vosburgh, he felt that he had
been treated with a degree of confidence that was even generous. But
he knew that from Mr. Vosburgh he did not receive full trust,--that
there were certain topics which each touched upon with restraint.
Even with the father he was made to feel that he had reached the
limit of their friendly relations. They could advance no farther
unless the barrier of his reserve was broken down.

He believed that he was dissipating the prejudices of the daughter;
that she was ceasing to dislike him personally. He exerted every
faculty of his mind to interest her; he studied her tastes and views
with careful analysis, that he might speak to her intelligently
and acceptably. The kindling light in her eyes, and her animated
tones, often proved that he succeeded. Was it the theme wholly that
interested her? or was the speaker also gaining some place in her
thoughts? He never could be quite certain as to these points, and
yet the impression was growing stronger that if he came some day
and said, quietly, "Good-by, Miss Vosburgh, I am going to face every
danger which any man dare meet," she would give him both hands in
friendly warmth, and that there would be an expression on her face
which had never been turned towards him.

A stormy day, not far from the middle of April, ended in a stormier
evening. Marian had not been able to go out, and had suffered
a little from ennui. Her mother had a headache, Mr. Vosburgh had
gone to keep an appointment, and the evening promised to be an
interminable one to the young girl. She unconsciously wished that
Merwyn would come, and half-smilingly wondered whether he would
brave the storm to see her.

She was not kept long in suspense, for he soon appeared with a book
which he wished to return, he said.

"Papa is out," Marian began, affably, "and you will have to be
content with seeing me. You have a morbidly acute conscience, Mr.
Merwyn, to return a book on a night like this."

"My conscience certainly is very troublesome."

Almost before she was aware of it the trite saying slipped out,
"Honest confession is good for the soul."

"To some souls it is denied, Miss Vosburgh;" and there was a trace
of bitterness in his tones. Then, with resolute promptness, he
resumed their usual impersonal conversation.

While they talked, the desire to penetrate his secret grew strong
upon the young girl. It was almost certain that they would not be
interrupted, and this knowledge led her to yield to her mood. She
felt a strange relenting towards him. A woman to her finger-tips,
she could not constantly face this embodied mystery without an
increasing desire to solve it. Cold curiosity, however, was not the
chief inspiration of her impulse. The youth who sat on the opposite
side of the glowing grate had grown old by months as if they were
years. His secret was evidently not only a restraint, but a wearing
burden. By leading her companion to reveal so much of his trouble
as would give opportunity for her womanly ministry, might she not,
in a degree yet unequalled, carry out her scheme of life to make
the "most and best of those over whom she had influence"?

"Many brood over an infirmity, a fault, or an obligation till they
grow morbid," she thought. "I might not be able to show him what
was best and right, but papa could if we only knew."

Therefore her words and tones were kinder than usual, and she made
slight and delicate references to herself, that he might be led to
speak of himself. At last she hit upon domestic affairs as a safe,
natural ground of approach, and gave a humorous account of some of
her recent efforts to learn the mysteries of housekeeping, and she
did not fail to observe his wistful and deeply-interested expression.

Suddenly, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, she
remarked: "I do not see how you manage to keep house in that great,
empty mansion of yours."

"You know, then, where I live?"

"Oh, yes. I saw you descend the steps of a house on Madison Avenue
one morning last fall, and supposed it was your home."

"You were undoubtedly right. I can tell you just how I manage, or
rather, how everything IS managed, for I have little to do with the
matter. An old family servant looks after everything and provides
me with my meals. She makes out my daily menu according to her 'own
will,' which is 'sweet' if not crossed."

"Indeed! Are you so indifferent? I thought men gave much attention
to their dinners."

"I do to mine, after it is provided. Were I fastidious, old Cynthy
would give me no cause for complaint. Then I have a man who looks
after the fires and the horses, etc. I am too good a republican to
keep a valet. So you see that my domestic arrangements are simple
in the extreme."

"And do those two people constitute your whole household?" she
asked, wondering at a frankness which seemed complete.

"Yes. The ghosts and I have the house practically to ourselves most
of the time."

"Are there ghosts?" she asked, laughing, but with cheeks that began
to burn in her kindling interest.

"There are ghosts in every house where people have lived and died;
that is, if you knew and cared for the people. My father is with
me very often!"

"Mr. Merwyn, I don't understand you!" she exclaimed, without trying
to disguise her astonishment. The conversation was so utterly unlike
anything that had occurred between them before that she wondered
whither it was leading. "I fear you are growing morbid," she added.

"I hope not. Nor will you think so when I explain. Of course nothing
like gross superstition is in my mind. I remember my father very
well, and have heard much about him since he died. Therefore he
has become to me a distinct presence which I can summon at will.
The same is true of others with whom the apartments are associated.
If I wish I can summon them."

"I am at a loss to know which is the greater, your will or your
imagination."

"My imagination is the greater."

"It must be great, indeed," she said, smiling alluringly, "for
I never knew of one who seemed more untrammelled in circumstances
than you are, or more under the dominion of his own will."

"Untrammelled!" he repeated, in a low, almost desperate tone.

"Yes," she replied, warmly,--"free to carry out every generous and
noble impulse of manhood. I tell you frankly that you have led me
to believe that you have such impulses."

His face became ashen in its hue, and he trembled visibly. He
seemed about to speak some words as if they were wrung from him,
then he became almost rigid in his self-control as he said, "There
are limitations of which you cannot dream;" and he introduced a
topic wholly remote from himself.

A chill benumbed her very heart, and she scarcely sought to prevent
it from tingeing her words and manner. A few moments later the
postman left a letter. She saw Lane's handwriting and said, "Will
you pardon me a moment, that I may learn that my FRIEND is well?"

Glancing at the opening words, her eyes flashed with excitement
as she exclaimed: "The campaign has opened! They are on the march
this stormy night."

"May I ask if your letter is from Strahan?" Merwyn faltered.

"It is not from Mr. Strahan," she replied, quietly.

He arose and stood before her as erect and cold as herself. "Will
you kindly give Mr. Vosburgh that book?" he said.

"Certainly."

"Will you also please say that I shall probably go to my country
place in a day or two, and therefore may not see him again very
soon."

She was both disappointed and angry, for she had meant kindly by
him. The very consciousness that she had unbent so greatly, and
had made what appeared to her pride an unwonted advance, incensed
her, and she replied, in cold irony: "I will give papa your message.
It will seem most natural to him, now that spring has come, that
you should vary your mercantile with agricultural pursuits."

He appeared stung to the very soul by her words, and his hands
clinched in his desperate effort to restrain himself. His white lips
moved as he looked at her from eyes full of the agony of a wounded
spirit. Suddenly his tense form became limp, and, with a slight
despairing gesture, he said, wearily: "It is of no use. Good-by."



CHAPTER XXVI.

MARIAN'S INTERPRETATION OF MERWYN.



Shallow natures, like shallow waters, are easily agitated, and outward
manifestations are in proportion to the shallowness.  Superficial
observers are chiefly impressed by visible emotion and tumult.

With all her faults, Marian had inherited from her father a strong
nature. Her intuitions had become womanly and keen, and Merwyn's
dumb agony affected her more deeply than a torrent of impetuous
words or any outward evidence of distress. She went back to her chair
and shed bitter tears; she scarcely knew why, until her father's
voice aroused her by saying, "Why, Marian dear, what IS the matter?"

"Oh, I am glad you have come," she said. "I have caused so much
suffering that I feel as if I had committed a crime;" and she gave
an account of the recent interview.

"Let me reassure you," said her father, gravely. "You did mean
kindly by Merwyn, and you gave him, without being unwomanly, the
best chance he could possibly have to throw off the incubus that
is burdening his life. If, with the opportunity he had to-night,
and under the influence of his love, he did not speak, his secret
is one of which he cannot speak. At least, I fear it is one of
which he dares not speak to you, lest it should be fatal to him and
all his hopes. I cannot even guess what it is, but at all events
it is of a serious nature, too grave to be regarded any longer as
secondary in our estimate of Mr. Merwyn's character. The shadow of
this mystery must not fall on you, and I am glad he is going away.
I hoped that your greater kindness and mine might lead him to reveal
his trouble, that we could help him, and that a character in many
respects so unique and strong might be cleared of its shadows. In
this case we might not only have rendered a fellow-being a great
service, but also have secured a friend capable of adding much to
our happiness.  This mystery, however, proves so deep-rooted and
inscrutable that I shall be glad to withdraw you from his influence
until time and circumstance make all plain, if they ever can.
These old families often have dark secrets, and this young man,
in attaining his majority and property, has evidently become the
possessor of one of them. In spite of all his efforts to do well
it is having a sinister influence over his life, and this influence
must not extend to yours. The mere fact that he does not take an
active part in the war is very subordinate in itself. Thousands
who might do this as well as he are very well content to stay at
home. The true aspect of the affair is this: A chain of circumstances,
unforeseen, and uncaused by any premeditated effort on our part, has
presented to his mind the most powerful motives to take a natural
part in the conflict. It has gradually become evident that the
secret of his restraint is a mystery that affects his whole being.
Therefore, whether it be infirmity, fault, or misfortune, he has no
right to impose it on others, since it seems to be beyond remedy.
Do you not agree with me?"

"I could not do otherwise, papa. Yet, remembering how he looked
to-night, I cannot help being sorry for him, even though my mind
inclines to the belief that constitutional timidity restrains him.
I never saw a man tremble so, and he turned white to his very lips.
Papa, have you read 'The Fair Maid of Perth'?"

"Yes."

"Don't you remember MacIan, the young chief of Clan Quhele? This
character always made a deep impression on me, awakening at the
same time pity and the strongest repulsion. I could never understand
him.  He was high-born, and lived at an age when courage was the
commonest of traits, while its absence was worse than crime. For
the times he was endowed with every good quality except the power
to face danger.  This from the very constitution of his being he
could not do, and he, beyond all others, understood his infirmity,
suffering often almost mortal agony in view of it. For some reason
I have been led to reread this story, and, in spite of myself, that
wretched young Scottish chieftain has become associated in my mind
with Willard Merwyn. He said to-night that his imagination was
stronger than his will. I can believe it from his words. His dead
father and others have become distinct presences to him. In the
same way he calls up before his fancy the horrors of a battle-field,
and he finds that he has not the power to face them, that he cannot
do it, no matter what the motives may be. He feels that he would
be simply overwhelmed with horror and faint-heartedness, and he is
too prudent to risk the shame of exposure."

"Well," said her father, sighing, as if he were giving up a pleasing
dream, "you have thought out an ingenious theory which, if true,
explains Merwyn's course, perhaps. A woman's intuitions are subtle,
and often true, but somehow it does not satisfy me, even though I
can recall some things which give color to your view. Still, whatever
be the explanation, all MUST be explained before we can give him
more than ordinary courtesy."

It soon became evident that Merwyn had gone to his country place,
for his visits ceased. The more Marian thought about him,--and she
did think a great deal,--the more she was inclined to believe that
her theory explained everything. His very words, "You think me a
coward," became a proof, in her mind, that he was morbidly sensitive
on this point, and ever conscious of his infirmity. He was too
ready to resent a fancied imputation on his courage.

She strove to dismiss him from her thoughts, but with only partial
success. He gave her the sense of being baffled, defeated. What
could be more natural than that a high-spirited young man should
enter the army of his own free will? He had not entered it even
with her favor, possibly her love, as a motive. Yet he sought her
favor as if it were the chief consideration of existence. With her
theory, and her ideal of manhood, he was but the mocking shadow of
a man, but so real, so nearly perfect, that she constantly chafed
at the defect. Even her father had been deeply impressed by the
rare promise of his young life,--a promise which she now believed
could never be kept, although few might ever know it.

"I must be right in my view," she said. "He proves his loyalty by
an unflagging interest in our arms, by the gift of thousands. He
is here, his own master. He would not shun danger for the sake of
his cold-hearted mother, from whom he seems almost estranged. His
sisters are well provided for, and do not need his care. He does not
live for the sake of pleasure, like many other young men. Merciful
Heaven! I blush even to think the words, much more to speak them.
Why does he not go, unless his fear is greater than his love for me?
why is he not with Lane and Strahan, unless he has a constitutional
dread that paralyzes him? He is the Scottish chieftain, MacIan,
over again. All I can do now is to pity him as one to whom Nature
has been exceedingly cruel, for every fibre in my being shrinks
from such a man."

And so he came to dwell in her mind as one crippled, from birth,
in his very soul.

Meanwhile events took place which soon absorbed her attention.
Lane's letter announcing the opening of the campaign proved a false
alarm, although, from a subsequent letter, she learned that he had
had experiences not trifling in their nature. On the rainy night,
early in April, that would ever be memorable to her, she had said
to Merwyn, "The army is on the march."

This was true of the cavalry corps, and part of it even crossed the
upper waters of the Rappahannock; but the same storm which dashed
the thick drops against her windows also filled the river to
overflowing, and the brave troopers, recalled, had to swim their
horses in returning. Lane was among these, and his humorous account
of the affair was signed, "Your loyal amphibian!"

A young girl of Marian's temperament is a natural hero-worshipper,
and he was becoming her hero. Circumstances soon occurred which
gave him a sure place in this character.

By the last of April, not only the cavalry, but the whole army, moved,
the infantry taking position on the fatal field of Chancellorsville.
Then came the bloody battle, with its unspeakable horrors and
defeat. The icy Rappahannock proved the river of death to thousands
and thousands of brave men.

Early in May the Union army, baffled, depleted, and discouraged, was
again in its old quarters where it had spent the winter. Apparently
the great forward movement had been a failure, but it was the cause
of a loss to the Confederate cause from which it never recovered,--that
of "Stonewall" Jackson. So transcendent were this man's boldness
and ability in leading men that his death was almost equivalent to
the annihilation of a rebel army. He was a typical character, the
embodiment of the genius, the dash, the earnest, pure, but mistaken
patriotism of the South. No man at the North more surely believed
he was right than General Jackson, no man more reverently asked God's
blessing on efforts heroic in the highest degree. He represented
the sincere but misguided spirit which made every sacrifice possible
to a brave people, and his class should ever be distinguished from
the early conspirators who were actuated chiefly by ambition and
selfishness.

His death also was typical, for he was wounded by a volley fired,
through misapprehension, by his own men. The time will come when
North and South will honor the memory of Thomas J. Jackson, while,
at the same time, recognizing that his stout heart, active brain,
and fiery zeal were among the chief obstructions to the united and
sublime destiny of America. The man's errors were due to causes
over which he had little control; his noble character was due to
himself and his faith in God.

Many days passed before Marian heard from Lane, and she then learned
that the raid in which he had participated had brought him within
two miles of Richmond, and that he had passed safely through great
dangers and hardships, but that the worst which he could say of
himself was that he was "prone to go to sleep, even while writing
to her."

The tidings from her other friends were equally reassuring. Their
regiment had lost heavily, and Blauvelt had been made a captain almost
in spite of himself, while Strahan was acting as lieutenant-colonel,
since the officer holding that rank had been wounded. There was a
dash of sadness and tragedy in the journal which the two young men
forwarded to her after they had been a few days in their old camp
at Falmouth, but Strahan's indomitable humor triumphed, and their
crude record ended in a droll sketch of a plucked cock trying
to crow. She wrote letters so full of sympathy and admiration of
their spirit that three soldiers of the army of the Potomac soon
recovered their morale.

The month of May was passing in mocking beauty to those whose hopes
and happiness were bound up in the success of the Union armies. Not
only had deadly war depleted Hooker's grand army, but the expiration
of enlistments would take away nearly thirty thousand more. Mr.
Vosburgh was aware of this, and he also found the disloyal elements
by which he was surrounded passing into every form of hostile
activity possible within the bounds of safety. Men were beginning to
talk of peace, at any cost, openly, and he knew that the Southern
leaders were hoping for the beginning at any time of a counter-revolution
at the North. The city was full of threatening rumors, intrigues,
and smouldering rebellion.

Marian saw her father overwhelmed with labors and anxieties, and
letters from her friends reflected the bitterness then felt by the
army because the North appeared so half-hearted.

"Mr. Merwyn, meanwhile," she thought, "is interesting himself in
landscape-gardening. If he has one spark of manhood or courage he
will show it now."

The object of this reproach was living almost the life of a hermit
at his country place, finding no better resource, in his desperate
unrest and trouble, than long mountain rambles, which brought
physical exhaustion and sleep.

He had not misunderstood Marian's final words and manner.  Delicately,
yet clearly, she had indicated the steps he must take to vindicate
his character and win her friendship. He felt that he had become
pale, that he had trembled in her presence. What but cowardice
could explain his manner and account for his inability to confirm
the good impression he had made by following the example of her
other friends? From both his parents he had inherited a nature
sensitive to the last degree to any imputation of this kind. To
receive it from the girl he loved was a hundred-fold more bitter
than death, yet he was bound by fetters which, though unseen by
all, were eating into his very soul. The proud Mrs. Merwyn was a
slave-holder herself, and the daughter of a long line of slave-owners;
but never had a bondsman been so chained and crushed as was her
son. For weeks he felt that he could not mingle with other men,
much less meet the girl to whom manly courage was the corner-stone
of character.

One evening in the latter part of May, as Mr. Vosburgh and his
family were sitting down to dinner, Barney Ghegan, the policeman,
appeared at their door with a decent-looking, elderly colored
woman and her lame son. They were refugees, or "contrabands," as
they were then called, from the South, and they bore a letter from
Captain Lane.

It was a scrap of paper with the following lines pencilled upon
it:--

"MR. VOSBURGH, No. -- -- ST.: I have only time for a line. Mammy
Borden will tell you her story and that of her son. Their action
and other circumstances have enlisted my interest. Provide them
employment, if convenient. At any rate, please see that they want
nothing, and draw on me. Sincere regard to you all.--In haste,

"LANE, Captain.-- --U.S. Cav."



CHAPTER XXVII.

"DE HEAD LINKUM MAN WAS CAP'N LANE."



It can be well understood that the two dusky strangers, recommended
by words from Lane, were at once invested with peculiar interest
to Marian. Many months had elapsed since she had seen him, but
all that he had written tended to kindle her imagination. This had
been the more true because he was so modest in his accounts of the
service in which he had participated. She had learned what cavalry
campaigning meant, and read more meaning between the lines than
the lines themselves conveyed. He was becoming her ideal knight,
on whom no shadow rested. From first to last his course had been
as open as the day, nor had he, in any respect, failed to reach
the highest standard developed by those days of heroic action.

If this were true when "Mammy Borden" and her son appeared, the
reader can easily believe that, when they completed their story,
Captain Lane was her Bayard sans peur et sans reproche.

Barney explained that they had met him in the street and asked
for Mr. Vosburgh's residence; as it was nearly time for him to be
relieved of duty he told them that in a few moments he could guide
them to their destination. Marian's thanks rewarded him abundantly,
and Mrs. Vosburgh told him that if he would go to the kitchen he
should have a cup of coffee and something nice to take home to his
wife. They both remained proteges of the Vosburghs, and received
frequent tokens of good-will and friendly regard. While these were
in the main disinterested, Mr. Vosburgh felt that in the possibilities
of the future it might be to his advantage to have some men in the
police force wholly devoted to his interests.

The two colored refugees were evidently hungry and weary, and,
eager as Marian was to learn more of her friend when informed that
he had been wounded, she tried to content herself with the fact that
he was doing well, until the mother and son had rested a little
and had been refreshed by an abundant meal. Then they were summoned
to the sitting-room, for Mr. and Mrs. Vosburgh shared in Marian's
deep solicitude and interest.

It was evident that their humble guests, who took seats deferentially
near the door, had been house-servants and not coarse plantation
slaves, and in answer to Mr. Vosburgh's questions they spoke in a
better vernacular than many of their station could employ.

"Yes, mass'r," the woman began, "we seed Mass'r Lane,--may de Lord
bress 'im,--and he was a doin' well when we lef. He's a true Linkum
man, an' if all was like him de wah would soon be ended an' de
cullud people free. What's mo', de white people of de Souf wouldn't
be so bitter as dey now is."

"Tell us your story, mammy," said Marian, impatiently; "tell us
everything you know about Captain Lane."

A ray of intelligence lighted up the woman's sombre eyes, for she
believed she understood Marian's interest, and at once determined
that Lane's action should lose no embellishment which she could
honestly give.

"Well, missy, it was dis away," she said. "My mass'r and his sons
was away in de wah. He own a big plantation an' a great many slabes.
My son, Zeb dar, an' I was kep' in de house. I waited on de missus
an' de young ladies, an' Zeb was kep' in de house too, 'kase he
was lame and 'kase dey could trus' him wid eberyting an' dey knew
it.

"Well, up to de time Cap'n Lane come we hadn't seen any ob de
Linkum men, but we'd heared ob de prockermation an' know'd we was
free, far as Mass'r Linkum could do it, an' Zeb was jus' crazy to
git away so he could say, 'I'se my own mass'r.' I didn't feel dat
away, 'kase I was brought up wid my missus, an' de young ladies
was a'most like my own chillen, an' we didn't try to get away like
some ob de plantation han's do.

"Well, one ebenin', short time ago, a big lot ob our sogers come
marchin' to our house--dey was hoss sogers--an' de missus an' de
young ladies knew some of de ossifers, an' dey flew aroun' an' got
up a big supper fo' dem. We all turned in, an' dar was hurry-skurry
all ober de big house, fo' de ossifers sed dey would stay all night
if de sogers ob you-uns would let dem. Dey said de Linkum sogers
was comin' dat away, but dey wouldn't be 'long afore de mawnin',
an' dey was a-gwine to whip dem. All was light talk an' larfin' an'
jingle ob sabres. De house was nebber so waked up afo'. De young
ladies was high-strung an' beliebed dat one ob our sogers could whip
ten Linkum men. In de big yard betwixt de house an' de stables de
men was feedin' dere hosses, an' we had a great pot ob coffee bilin'
fo' dem, too, an' oder tings, fo' de missus sed dere sogers mus'
hab eberyting she had.

"Well, bimeby, as I was helpin' put de tings on de table, I heared
shots way off at de foot ob de lawn. Frontin' de house dar was a
lawn mos' half a mile long, dat slope down to de road, and de Linkum
sogers was 'spected to come dat away, an' dere was a lookout for
dem down dar. As soon as de ossifers heared de shots dey rush out
an' shout to dere men, an' dey saddle up in a hurry an' gallop out
in de lawn in front of de house an' form ranks."

"How many were there?" Marian asked, her cheeks already burning
with excitement.

"Law, missy, I doesn't know. Dere was a right smart lot--hundreds
I should tink."

"Dere was not quite two hundred, missy," said Zeb; "I counted dem;"
and then he looked towards his mother, who continued.

"De young ladies an' de missus went out on de verandy dat look down
de lawn, and Missy Roberta, de oldest one, said, 'Now, maumy, you
can see the difference between our sogers an' de Linkum men, as
you call dem.' Missy Roberta had great black eyes an' was allus
a-grievin' dat she wasn't a man so she could be a soger, but Missy
S'wanee had blue eyes like her moder, an' was as full ob frolic
as a kitten. She used ter say, 'I doesn't want ter be a man, fer I
kin make ten men fight fer me.' So she could, sho' 'nuff, fer all
de young men in our parts would fight de debil hisself for de sake
ob Missy S'wanee."

"Go on, go on," cried Marian; "the Northern soldiers were coming--"

"Deed, an' dey was, missy,--comin' right up de lawn 'fore our eyes,
an' dribin' in a few ob our sogers dat was a-watchin' fer dem by
de road; dey come right 'long too. I could see dere sabres flashin'
in de sunset long way off. One ossifer set dere men in ranks, and
den de oder head ossifer come ridin' up to de verandy, an' Missy
Roberta gave de ribbin from her ha'r to de one dey call cunnel,
an' de oder ossifer ask Missy S'wanee fer a ribbin, too. She larf
an' say, 'Win it, an' you shall hab it.' Den off dey gallop, Missy
Roberta cryin' arter dem, 'Don't fight too fa' away; I want to see
de Linkum hirelin's run.' Den de words rung out, 'For'ard, march,
trot,' an' down de lawn dey went. De Linkum men was now in plain
sight. Zeb, you tell how dey look an' what dey did. I was so afeard
fer my missus and de young ladies, I was 'mos' out ob my mind."

"Well, mass'r and ladies," said Zeb, rising and making a respectful
bow, "I was at an upper window an' could see eberyting. De Linkum
men was trottin' too, an' comin' in two ranks, one little way
'hind de toder. Right smart way afore dese two ranks was a line
of calvary-men a few feet apart from each oder, an' dis line reach
across de hull lawn to de woods on de oder side. I soon seed dat
dere was Linkum sogers in de woods, too. Dey seemed sort ob outside
sogers all aroun' de two ranks in de middle. Dey all come on fas',
not a bit afeard, an' de thin line in front was firin' at our
sogers dat had been a-watchin' down by de road, an' our sogers was
a-firin' back.

"Bimeby, soon, bofe sides come nigh each oder, den de thin line
ob Linkum men swept away to de lef at a gallop, an' our sogers an'
de fust rank ob Linkum men run dere hosses at each oder wid loud
yells.  'Clar to you, my heart jus' stood still. Neber heard such
horrid noises, but I neber took my eyes away, for I beliebed I saw
my freedom comin'. Fer a while I couldn't tell how it was gwine;
dere was nothin' but clash ob sabres, an' bofe sides was all mixed
up, fightin' hand ter hand.

"I was wonderin' why de second rank of Linkum men didn't do nothin',
for dey was standin' still wid a man on a hoss, out in front ob
dem.  Suddenly I heard a bugle soun', an' de Linkum men dat was
fightin' gave way to right an' lef, an' de man on de hoss wave his
sword an' start for'ard at a gallop wid all his men arter him. Den
our sogers 'gan to give back, fightin' as dey came. Dey was brave,
dey was stubborn as mules, but back dey had to come. De head Linkum
ossifer was leadin' all de time. I neber seed such a man, eberyting
an' eberybody guv way afo' him. De oder Linkum sogers dat I thought
was whipped wasn't whipped at all, fer dey come crowdin' aroun'
arter de head ossifer, jes' as peart as eber.

"Front ob de house our ossifers an' sogers made a big stan', fer
de missus an' de young ladies stood right dar on de verandy, wabin'
dere hankerchiefs an' cryin' to dem to dribe de Yankee back. I knowed
my moder was on de verandy, an' I run to her, an' sho' 'nuff, dar
she was stan'in' right in front of Missy S'wanee an' 'treating de
missus an' de young ladies ter go in, fer de bullets was now flyin'
tick. But dey wouldn't go in, an' Missy Roberta was wringin' her
han's, an' cryin', 'Oh, dat I was a man!' De cunnel, de oder ossifer,
an' a lot ob our sogers wouldn't give back an inch. Dar dey was,
fightin' right afore our eyes. De rest ob dere sogers was givin'
way eb'rywhar. De Linkum sogers soon made a big rush togedder. De
cunnel's hoss went down. In a minute dey was surrounded; some was
killed, some wounded, an' de rest all taken, 'cept de young ossifer
dat Missy S'wanee tole to win her colors. He was on a po'ful big
hoss, an' he jes' break right through eb'ryting, an' was off wid
de rest. De Linkum sogers followed on, firin' at 'em.

"De missus fainted dead away, an' my moder held her in her arms.
De head Linkum ossifer now rode up to de verandy an' took off his
hat, an' he say: 'Ladies, I admire your co'age, but you should not
'spose yourselves so needlessly. Should de vict'ry still remain
wid our side, I promise you 'tection an 'munity from 'noyance!'

"Den he bow an' gallop arter his men dat was chasin' our sogers,
leabin' anoder ossifer in charge ob de pris'ners. De head Linkum
man was Cap'n Lane."

"I knew it, I knew it," cried Marian. "Ah! he's a friend to be
proud of."

Her father and mother looked at her glowing cheeks and flashing
eyes, and dismissed Merwyn from the possibilities of the future.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

The Signal Light.



The colored woman again took up the thread of the story which would
explain her presence and her possession of a note from Captain
Lane, recommending her and her son to Mr. Vosburgh's protection.

"Yes, missy," she said, "Cap'n Lane am a fren' ter be proud ob. I
tinks he mus' be like Mass'r Linkum hisself, fer dere nebber was a
man more braver and more kinder. Now I'se gwine ter tell yer what
happen all that drefful night, an' Zeb will put in his word 'bout
what he knows. While de cap'n was a-speakin' to de young ladies,
de missus jes' lay in my arms as ef she was dead. Missy Roberta,
as she listen, stand straight and haughty, an' give no sign she
hear, but Missy S'wanee, she bow and say, 'Tank you, sir!' Zeb
called some ob de house-servants, an' we carry de missus to her
room, an' de young ladies help me bring her to. Den I stayed wid
her, a-fannin' her an' a-cheerin' an' a-tellin' her dat I knew
Cap'n Lane wouldn't let no harm come ter dem. Now, Zeb, you seed
what happen downstars."

"Yes, mass'r an' ladies, I kep' my eyes out, fer I tinks my chance
is come now, if eber. Cap'n Lane soon come back an' said to de
ossifer in charge ob de pris'ners,--an' dere was more pris'ners
bein' brought in all de time,--sez Cap'n Lane, 'De en'my won't
stand agin. I'se sent Cap'n Walling in pursuit, an' now we mus'
make prep'rations fer de night.' Den a man dey call a sergeant,
who'd been a spyin' roun' de kitchen, an' lookin' in de dinin'-room
winders, come up an' say something to Cap'n Lane; an' he come up
to de doah an' say he like ter see one ob de ladies. I call Missy
S'wanee, an' she come, cool an' lady-like, an' not a bit afeard,
an' he take off his hat to her, an' say:--

"'Madam, I'se sorry all dis yer happen 'bout yer house, but I'se
could not help it. Dere's a good many woun'ed, an' our surgeon is
gwine ter treat all alike. I'se tole dat yer had coffee a-bilin'
an' supper was ready. Now all I ask is, dat de woun'ed on bofe
sides shall have 'freshments fust, an' den ef dere's anyting lef',
I'd like my ossifers to have some supper.' Den he kinder smile as
he say, 'I know you 'spected oder company dis ebenin', an' when de
woun'ed is provided fer, de ossifers on your side can hab supper
too. I hab ordered de hospital made in de out-buildin's, an' de
priv'cy ob your home shall not be 'truded on.'

"'Cunnel,' say Missy S'wanee. 'Plain Cap'n,' he say, interrupting--'Cap'n
Lane.'

"'Cap'n Lane, she goes on, 'I tanks you fer your courtesy,
an 'sideration. I did not 'spect it. Your wishes shall be carried
out.' Den she says, 'I'se'll hab more supper pervided, an' we'll
'spect you wid your ossifers;' for she wanted ter make fren's wid
him, seein' we was all in his po'er. He says, 'No, madam, I'se
take my supper wid my men. I could not be an unwelcome gues' in any
house, What I asks for my ossifers, I asks as a favor; I doesn't
deman' it.' Den he bows an' goes away. Missy S'wanee, she larf--she
was allus a-larfin' no matter what happen--an' she says, 'I'se'll
get eben wid him.' Well, de cap'n goes an' speaks to de cunnel,
an' de oder captured ossifers ob our sogers, an' dey bow to him,
an' den dey comes up an' sits on de verandy, an' Missy Roberta goes
out, and dey talk in low tones, an' I couldn't hear what dey say.
I was a-helpin' Missy S'wanee, an' she say to me, 'Zeb, could you
eber tink dat a Yankee cap'n could be such a gemlin?' I didn't say
nuffin', fer I didn't want anybody ter'spect what was in my min',
but eb'ry chance I git I keep my eye on Cap'n Lane, fer I believed
he could gib us our liberty. He was aroun' 'mong de woun'ed, an'
seein' ter buryin' de dead, an' postin' an' arrangin' his men;
deed, an' was all ober eberywhar.

"By dis time de ebenin' was growin' dark, de woun'ed and been cared
for, an' our ossifers an' de Linkum ossifers sat down to supper;
an' dey talk an' larf as if dey was good fren's. Yer'd tink it was
a supper-party, ef dere hadn't been a strappin' big soger walkin'
up an' down de verandy whar he could see in de winders. I help waits
on de table, an' Missy Roberta, she was rudder still an' glum-like,
but Missy S'wanee, she smiles on all alike, an' she say to de
Linkum ossifers, 'I 'predate de court'sy ob your cap'n, eben do'
he doesn't grace our board. I shall take de liberty, howsemeber,
ob sendin' him some supper;' an' she put a san'wich an' some cake
an' a cup ob coffee on a waiter an' sen' me out to him whar he
was sittin' by de fire in de edge ob de woods on de lawn. He smile
an' say, 'Tell de young lady dat I drink to her health an' happier
times.' Den I gits up my co'age an' says, 'Cap'n Lane, I wants ter
see yer when my work's done in de house.' He say, 'All right, come
ter me here.' Den he look at me sharp an' say, 'Can I trus' yer?'
An' I say, 'Yes, Mass'r Cap'n; I'se Linkum, troo an' troo.' Den he
whisper in my ear de password, 'White-rose.'"

Marian remembered that she had given him a white rose when he had
asked for her colors. He had made it his countersign on the evening
of his victory.

"Arter supper our ossifers were taken down ter de oder pris'ners,
an' guards walk aroun dem all night. I help clar up de tings, an'
watch my chance ter steal away. At las' de house seem quiet. I
tought de ladies had gone ter dere rooms, an' I put out de light
in de pantry, an' was watchin' an' waitin' an' listenin' to be sho'
dat no one was 'roun, when I heared a step in de hall. De pantry
doah was on a crack, an' I peeps out, an' my bref was nigh took
away when I sees a rebel ossifer, de one dat got away in de fight.
He give a long, low whistle, an' den dere was a rustle in de hall
above, an' Missy Roberta came flyin' down de starway. I know den
dat dere was mischief up, an' I listen wid all my ears. She say to
him, 'How awfully imprudent!' An' she put de light out in de hall,
les' somebody see in. Den she say, 'Shell we go in de parlor?' He
say, 'No, dere's two doahs here, each end de hall, an' a chance
ter go out de winders, too. I mus' keep open ebery line ob retreat.
Are dere any Yanks in de house?' She say, 'No,'--dat de Union cap'n
very 'sid'rate. 'Curse him!' sed de reb; 'he spoil my ebenin' wid
Miss S'wanee, but tell her I win her colors yet, an' pay dis Yankee
cap'n a bigger interest in blows dan he eber had afo.' Den he
'splain how he got his men togedder, an' he foun' anoder 'tachment ob
rebs, an' how dey would all come in de mawnin', as soon as light,
an' ride right ober eberyting, an' 'lease de cunnel an' all de
oder pris'ners. Den he says, 'We'se a-comin' on de creek-road. Put
a dim light in de winder facin' dat way, an' as long as we see it
burnin' we'll know dat all's quiet an' fav'able, an' tell Missy
S'wanee to hab her colors ready. Dey tought I was one oh de Yanks
in de dark, when I come in, but gettin' away'll be more tick'lish.'
Den she say, 'Don't go out ob de doah. Drap from de parlor winder
inter de shrub'ry, an' steal away troo de garden.' While dey was
gone ter de parlor, I step out an' up de starway mighty sudden.
Den I whip aroun' to de beginnin' ob de garret starway an' listen.
Soon Missy Roberta come out de parlor an' look in de pantry an' de
oder rooms, an' she sof'ly call me, 'kase she know I was las' up
'round de house; but I'se ain't sayin' nuffin'. Den she go in de
missus room, whar my moder was, an' soon she and Missy S'wanee came
out an' whisper, an' Missy S'wanee was a-larfin' how as ef she was
pleased.  Den Missy S'wanee go back to de missus, an' Missy Roberta
go to her room.

"Now was my chance, an' I tuck off'n my shoes an' carried dem, an'
I tank de Lord I heared it all, fer I says, 'Cap'n Lane'll give me
my liberty now sho' 'nuff, when I tells him all.' I'se felt sho'
he'd win de fight in de mawnin', fer he seemed ob de winnin' kine.
I didn't open any ob de doahs on de fust floah, but stole down in
de cellar, 'kase I knowed ob a winder dat I could creep outen. I
got away from de house all right, an' went toward de fire where I
lef Cap'n Lane. Soon a gruff voice said, 'Halt!' I guv de password
mighty sudden, an' den said, 'I want to see Cap'n Lane.' De man call
anoder soger, an' he come an' question me, an' den took me ter de
cap'n. An' he was a-sleepin' as if his moder had rocked 'im! But
he was on his feet de moment he spoke to. He 'membered me, an' ask
ef de mawnin' wouldn't answer. I say, 'Mass'r Cap'n, I'se got big
news fer yer.' Den he wide awake sho' 'nuff, an' tuck me one side,
an' I tole him all. 'What's yer name?' he says. 'Zeb Borden,' I
answers.  Den he say: 'Zeb, you've been a good fren'. Ef I win de
fight in de mawnin' you shell hab your liberty. It's yours now, ef
you can get away.' I says I'se lame an' couldn't get away unless
he took me, an' dat I wanted my moder ter go, too. Den he tought
a minute, an' went back ter de fire an' tore out a little book
de paper we brought, an' he says, 'What your moder's name?' An' I
says, 'Dey call her Maumy Borden.' Den he wrote de lines we bring,
an' he says: 'No tellin' what happen in de mawnin'. Here's some
money dat will help you 'long when you git in our lines. Dis my
fust inderpendent comman', an' ef yer hadn't tole me dis I might a'
los' all I gained. Be faithful, Zeb; keep yer eyes an' ears open,
an' I'll take care ob yer. Now slip back, fer yer might be missed.'"

"I got back to my lof' mighty sudden, an' I was jis' a-shakin'
wid fear, for I beliebe dat Missy Roberta would a' killed me wid
her own hands ef she'd knowed. She was like de ole mass'r, mighty
haughty an' despit-like, when she angry. I wasn't in de lof' none
too soon, fer Missy Roberta was 'spicious and uneasy-like, an'
she come to de head ob de gerret starway an' call my name. At fust
I ain't sayin' suffin', an' she call louder. Den I say, 'Dat you,
Missy Roberta?' Den she seem to tink dat I was all right. I slipped
arter her down de starway an' listen, an' I know she gwine ter put
de light in de winder. Den she go to her room again.

"A long time pass, an' I hear no soun'. De house was so still dat
I done got afeard, knowin' dere was mischief up. Dere was a little
winder in my lof lookin' toward de creek-road, an' on de leabes
ob some trees I could see a little glimmer ob de light dat Missy
Roberta had put dar as a signal. Dat glimmer was jes' awful, fer
I knowed it mean woun's and death to de sogers, an' liberty or no
liberty fer me. Bimeby I heared steps off toward de creek-road,
but dey soon die away. I watched an' waited ter'ble long time, an'
de house an' all was still, 'cept de tread ob de guards. Mus' a'
been about tree in de mawnin' when I heared a stir. It was very
quiet-like, an' I hear no words, but now an' den dere was a jingle
like a sabre make when a man walk. I stole down de starway an' look
outen a winder in de d'rection whar Cap'n Lane was, an' I see dat
de Linkum men had let all dere fires go out. It was bery dark. Den
I hear Missy Roberta open her doah, an' I whip back ter my lof.
She come soon an' had a mighty hard time wakin' me up, an' den she
say: 'Zeb, dere's sumpen goin' on 'mong de Yankee sogers. Listen.'
I says, 'I doesn't hear nuffin'.' She says: 'Dere is; dey's a-saddlin'
up, an' movin' roun'. I want you ter steal outen an' see what dey
is doin', an' tell me.' I says, 'Yes, missy.' I tought de bole
plan would be de bes' plan now, an' I put on my shoes an' went out.
Putty soon I comes back and says to her, 'I axed a man, an' he tole
me dey was changin' de guard.'--'Did de res' seem quiet?'--'Yes,
missy, dey is sleepin' 'round under de trees.' She seemed greatly
'lieved, an' says, 'You watch aroun' an' tell me ef dere's any
news.' I stole out again an' crep' up 'hind some bushes, an' den
I sho' dat de Linkum men was a-slippin' away toward de creek-road,
but de guards kep' walkin' 'roun de pris'ners, jes' de same. On a
sudden dere was a man right 'longside ob me, an' he say, 'Make a
noise or move, an' you are dead. What are you doin' here?' I gasp
out, 'White-rose, Cap'n Lane.'--'Oh, it's you,' he say, wid a low
larf. Fo' I could speak dere come a scream, sich as I neber heared,
den anoder an' anoder.  'Dey comes from de missus' room.' Den he
say, 'Run down dar an' ask de sergeant ob de guard to send tree
men wid you, an' come quick!' Now moder kin tell yer what happened.
I had lef de back hall doah unlocked, an' de cap'n went in like a
flash."

"De good Lor' bress Cap'n Lane," began the colored woman, "fer he
come just in time. De missus had been wakin' an' fearful-like mos'
ob de night, but at las' we was all a-dozin'. I was in a char by
her side, an' Missy S'wanee laid on a lounge. She hadn't undress,
an' fer a long time seemed as if listenin'. At las' dere come a
low knock, an' we all started up. I goes to de doah an' say, 'Who's
dar?'--'A message from Cap'n Lane,' says a low voice outside. 'Open
de doah,' says Missy S'wanee; 'I'se not afeard ob him.' De moment
I slip back de bolt, a big man, wid a black face, crowds in an'
say, 'Not a soun', as you valley your lives: I want yer jewelry
an' watches;' an' he held a pistol in his hand. At fust we tought
it was a plantation han', fer he tried ter talk like a cullud man,
an' Missy S'wanee 'gan ter talk ter him; but he drew a knife an'
says, 'Dis won't make no noise, an' it'll stop yer noise ef yer
make any.  Not a word, but gib up eberyting.' De missus was so beat
out wid fear, dat she say, 'Gib him eberyting.' An' Missy S'wanee,
more'n half-dead, too, began to gib dere watches an' jewels. De man
put dem in his pocket, an' den he lay his hands on Missy S'wanee,
to take off her ring. Den she scream, an' I flew at 'im an' tried
to tear his eyes out. Missy Roberta 'gan screamin', so we knowed
she was 'tacked too. De man was strong an' rough, an' whedder he
would a' killed us or not de Lord only knows, fer jes' den de doah
flew wide open, an' Cap'n Lane stood dere wid his drawn sword. In
a secon' he seed what it all meant, an' sprung in an' grabbed de
robber by de neck an' jerked him outen inter de hall. Den de man
'gan ter beg fer mercy, an' tole his name. It was one of Cap'n
Lane's own sogers. At dis moment Missy Roberta rush outen her room,
cryin', 'Help!  murder!' Den we heared heaby steps rushing up de
starway, an' tree ob Cap'n Lane's sogers dash for'ard. As soon as
Missy Roberta see de cap'n wid de light from de open doah shinin'
on his face, she comes an' ask, 'What does dis outrage mean?'--'It
mean dat dis man shell be shot in de mawnin', he say, in a chokin'
kind ob voice, fer he seem almost too angry to speak. Den he ask,
'Were you 'tacked also?'--' Yes,' she cried, 'dere's a man in my
room.'--'Which room?' An' she pointed to de doah. De fus' robber
den made a bolt ter get away, but de cap'n's men cotch 'im. 'Tie
his han's 'hind his back, an' shoot him if he tries to run agin,'
said de cap'n; den he say to Missy Roberta: 'Go in your moder's
room. Don't leave it without my permission. Ef dere is a man in
your room, he shall shar de fate ob dat villain dat I've 'spected
ob bein' a tief afore.' An' he went an' looken in Missy Roberta's
room. In a few moments he come back an' say, 'Dere was a man dar,
but he 'scape troo de winder on de verandy-roof. Ef I kin discober
'im he shall die too.' Den he say, grave an' sad-like: 'Ladies, dere
is bad men in eb'ry army. I'se deeply mort'fied dat dis should
happen. You'll bar me witness dat I tried to save you from all
'noyance. I know dis man,' pointin' to a soger dat stood near,
'an' I'll put him in dis hall on guard. His orders are--you hear
dem--not to let any one come in de hall, an' not to let any one
leabe dis room. As long as yer all stay in dis room, you are safe,
eben from a word.' Missy S'wanee rush for'ard an' take his han', an'
say, 'Eben ef you is my en'my you'se a gallant soger an' a gemlin,
an' I tanks you.' De cap'n smile an' bow, an' say, 'In overcomin'
your prej'dice I'se 'chieved my bes' vict'ry.' An' he gib her
back all de jewels an' watches, an' drew de doah to, an' lef us to
ourselves. Den we hear 'im go to a wes' room back ob de house wid
anoder soger, an' soon he come back alone, an' den de house all
still 'cept de eben tread ob de man outside. Missy Roberta clasp
her han's an' look wild. Den she whisper to Missy S'wanee, an' dey
seem in great trouble. Den she go an' open de doah an' say to de
soger dat she want ter go ter her room. 'You cannot, lady,' said
de soger. 'You heared my orders.'--'I'll only stay a minute,' she
say. 'You cannot pass dat doah,' said de soger. 'But I mus' an'
will,' cried Missy Roberta, an' she make a rush ter get out. De
soger held her still. 'Unhan' me!' she almost screamed. He turn
her 'roun' an' push her back in de room, an' den says: 'Lady, does
you tink a soger can disobey orders? Dere ain't no use ob your
takin' on 'bout dat light. We'se watch it all night as well as
your fren's, an' de cap'n has lef' a soger guardin' it, to keep it
burnin'. Ef I should let yer go, yer couldn't put it out, an' ef
it had been put out any time, we'd a' lighted it agin. So dere's
nuffin' fer yer to do but 'bey orders an' shut de doah. Den no one
will say a word to yer, as de cap'n said.' Den he pulled de doah
to hisself.

"Missy Roberta 'gan to wring her han's an' walk up an' down like
a caged tiger, an' Missy S'wanee larf and cry togedder as she
say, 'Cap'n Lane too bright fer us.'--'No,' cries Missy Roberta,
'somebody's 'trayed me, an' I could strike a knife inter dere
heart fer doin' it. O S'wanee, S'wanee, our fren's is walkin' right
inter a trap.' Den she run to de winder an' open it ter see ef she
couldn't git down, an' dere in de garden was a soger, a-walkin'
up an' down a-watchin'. 'We jes' can't do nuffin',' she said, an'
she 'gan to sob an' go 'sterical-like. Missy S'wanee tole de missus,
an' she wrung her han's an' cry, too; an' Missy S'wanee, she was
a-larfin' an' a-cryin', an' a-prayin' all ter once. Suddenly dere
was a shot off toward de creek-road, an' den we was bery still.
Now.  Zeb, you know de res'!"



CHAPTER XXIX.

MARIAN CONTRASTS LANE AND MERWYN.



"Oh, come, this won't do at all," said Mr. Vosburgh, as Zeb was
about to continue the story. "It's nearly midnight now. Marian,
dear, your cheeks and eyes look as if you had a fever. Let us wait
and hear the rest of the story in the morning, or you'll be ill,
your mother will have a headache, and I shall be unfit for my work
to-morrow."

"Papa, papa, in pity don't stop them till we know all. If Captain
Lane could watch all night and fight in the morning, can't we listen
for an hour longer?"

"Oh, yes," cried Mrs. Vosburgh, "let them finish. It's like a story,
and I never could sleep well till I knew how a story was going to
turn out."

"Wait a moment and I'll bring everybody something nice from the
sideboard, and you, also, papa, a cigar from the library," cried
the young girl.

Her father smiled his acquiescence, and in a few moments they were
all ready to listen to the completion of a tragedy not without its
dash of comedy.

"Arter Cap'n Lane posted his guards in de house an' sent de
robber off," Zeb resumed, "he jump on a hoss an' gallop toward de
creek-road. De light in de winder kep' a-burnin'! I foun' arterwards
dat he an' his ossifers had been down on de creek-road and studied
it all out. At one place--whar it was narrer' wid tick woods on
bofe sides--dey had builded a high rail-fence. Den below dat he
had put sogers in de woods each side widout dere hosses, an' farder
down still he had hid a lot of men dat was mounted. Sho' 'nuff, wid
de fust light of de mawnin', de rebs come ridin' toward de light
in de winder. I'd run out to de hill, not far away, ter see what
would happen, an' it was so dark yet dat eb'ryting was mixed up wid
shadders. When de rebs was a-comin' by de Linkum men in de woods a
shot was fired. Den I s'pose de rebs tought it would gib de 'larm,
fer dey began ter run dere hosses for'ard. An' den de Linkum men
let dem hab it on bofe sides ob de road, but dey kep' on till dey
come to de fence 'cross de road, an' den dey git a volley in front.
Dis skeered 'em, for dey knowed dat de Linkum men was ready, an'
dey tried to git back. Den I heared a great tramplin' an' yellin',
an' dere was Cap'n Lane a-leadin' his men an' hosses right in ahind
dem.  Dere was orful fightin' fer a while, an' de men widout dere
hosses leap outen de woods and shot like mad. It was flash! bang!
on eb'ry side. At las' de Linkum men won de day, an' some ob de
rebs burst troo de woods an' run, wid Cap'n Lane's men arter dem,
an' dey kep' a-chasin' till a bugle call dem back. Den I run to
de house, fer dey was bringin' in de pris'ners. Who should I see
'mong dese but de bery ossifer dat was wid Missy Roberta de night
afore, de one dat wanted de light in de winder, an' he look bery
mad, I can tell you.

"It was now gettin' broad day, an' de light at las' was outen de
winder. Dere was nuffin' mo' fer it to do. De Linkum soger dat had
been in de house was now helpin' guard de pris'ners, an' Missy Roberta
an' Missy S'wanee run up to de ossifer dat had been so fooled an'
say: 'We'se couldn't help it. Somebody 'trayed us. We was kep'
under guard, an' dere was a Yankee soger a-keepin' de light burnin'
arter we knew Cap'n Lane was aroun' an' ready.' Missy Roberta look
sharp at me, but I 'peared innercent as a sheep. Missy S'wanee say:
'No matter, Major Denham, you did all dat a brave man could do,
an' dar's my colors. You hab won dem.' An' den he cheer up 'mazin'ly.

"Den I hear somebody say Cap'n Lane woun'ed, an' I slip out toward
de creek-road, an' dar I see dem a-carryin Cap'n Lane, an' de surgeon
walkin' 'longside ob him. My heart jes' stood still wid fear. His
eyes was shut, an' he look bery pale-like. Dey was a-carryin' him
up de steps ob de verandy when Missy S'wanee came runnin' ter see
what was de matter. Den Cap'n Lane open his eyes an' he say: 'Not
in here. Put me wid de oder woun'ed men; 'but Missy S'wanee say,
'No; he protec' us an' act like a gemlin, an' he shall learn dat
de ladies ob de Souf will not be surpassed.' De missus say de same,
but Missy Roberta frown an' say nuffin'. She too much put out yet
'bout dat light in de winder an' de 'feat it brought her fren's.
De cap'n was too weak an' gone-like ter say anyting mo', an' dey
carry him up ter de bes' company room. I goes up wid dem ter wait
on de surgeon, an' he 'zamin' de woun' an' gib de cap'n brandy, an'
at las' say dat de cap'n get well ef he keep quiet a few weeks,--dat
he weak now from de shock an' loss ob blood.

"In de arternoon hundreds more Linkum men come, an' Cap'n Lane's
cunnel come wid dem, an' he praise de cap'n an' cheer him up, an'
de cap'n was bery peart an' say he feel better. Mos' ob de ossifers
take supper at de house. De missus an' Missy Roberta were perlite
but bery cold-like, but Missy S'wanee, while she show dat she was
a reb down to de bottom ob her good, kine heart, could smile an'
say sunshiny tings all de same. Dis night pass bery quiet, an'
in de mawnin' de Linkum cunnel say he hab orders ter 'tire toward
de Union lines. He feel bery bad 'bout leabin' Cap'n Lane, but de
surgeon say he mus' not be moved. He say, too, dat he stay wid de
cap'n an' de oder badly woun'ed men. De cap'n tell his cunnel 'bout
me an' my moder an' what he promise us, an' de cunnel say he take
us wid him an' send us to Washin'on. De missus an' de young ladies
take on drefful 'bout our gwine, but I say, 'I mus' hab my liberty,'
an' moder say she can't part wid her own flesh an' blood--"

"Yes, yes, but what did 'Cap'n' Lane say?" interrupted Marian.

"He tole me ter say ter you, missy, dat he was gwine ter git well,
an' dat you mus'n't worry 'kase you didn't hear from him, an' dat
he know you'd be kine to us, 'kase I'd help him win de vict'ry. De
surgeon wrote some letters, too, an' gib dem to de Linkum cunnel.
P'raps you git one ob dem. Dey put us in an army wagon, an' bimeby
we reach a railroad, an' dey gib us a pass ter Washin'on, an' we
come right on heah wid Cap'n Lane's money. I doesn't know what dey
did with de robber--"

"Oh, oh," cried Marian, "it may be weeks before I hear from my
friend again, if I 'ever do."

"Marian, dear," said her father, "do not look on the dark side;
it might have been a hundred-fold worse. 'Cap'n' Lane was in
circumstances of great comfort, with his own surgeon in care of
his wound. Think how many poor fellows were left on the field of
Chancellorsville to Heaven only knows what fate. In such desperate
fighting as has been described we have much reason to be thankful
that he was not killed outright. He has justly earned great credit
with his superiors, and I predict that he will get well and be
promoted. I think you will receive a letter in a day or two from
the surgeon. I prescribe that you and mamma sleep in the morning
till you are rested. I won't grumble at taking my coffee alone."
Then, to the colored woman and her son: "Don't you worry. We'll
see that you are taken care of."

Late as it was, hours still elapsed before Marian slept. Her hero
had become more heroic than ever. She dwelt on his achievements
with enthusiasm, and thought of his sufferings with a tenderness
never before evoked, while the possibility that "Missy S'wanee"
was his nurse produced twinges approaching jealousy.

As was expected, the morning post brought a letter from the surgeon
confirming the account that had been given by the refugees, and
full of hope-inspiring words. Then for weeks there were no further
tidings from Lane.

Meanwhile, events were culminating with terrible rapidity, and
their threatening significance electrified the North. The Southern
people and their sympathizers everywhere were jubilant over
the victory of Chancellorsville, and both demanded and expected
that this success should be followed by decisive victories. Lee's
army, General Longstreet said, was "in a condition of strength and
morale to undertake anything," and Southern public sentiment and
the needs of the Richmond government all pointed towards a second
and more extended invasion of the North. The army was indeed strong,
disciplined, a powerful instrument in the hands of a leader like
General Lee. Nevertheless, it had reached about the highest degree
of its strength. The merciless conscription in the South had swept
into its ranks nearly all the able-bodied men, and food and forage
were becoming so scarce in war-wasted Virginia and other regions
which would naturally sustain this force, that a bold, decisive
policy had become a necessity. It was believed that on Northern
soil the army could be fed, and terms of peace dictated.

The chief motive for this step was the hope of a counter-revolution
in the North where the peace faction had grown bold and aggressive
to a degree that only stopped short of open resistance. The draft
or general conscription which the President had ordered to take place
in July awakened intense hostility to the war and the government
on the part of a large and rapidly increasing class of citizens.
This class had its influential and outspoken leaders, who were
evidently in league with a secret and disloyal organization known
as the "Knights of the Golden Circle," the present object of which
was the destruction of the Union and the perpetuation of slavery.
In the city of New York the spirit of rebellion was as rampant in
the breasts of tens of thousands as in Richmond, and Mr. Vosburgh knew
it. His great sagacity and the means of information at his command
enabled him to penetrate much of the intrigue that was taking place,
and to guess at far more. He became haggard and almost sleepless
from his labors and anxieties, for he knew that the loyal people
of the North were living over a volcano.

Marian shared in this solicitude, and was his chief confidante. He
wished her, with her mother, to go to some safe and secluded place
in the country, and offered to lease again the cottage which they
had occupied the previous summer, but Marian said that she would
not leave him, and that he must not ask her to do so. Mrs. Vosburgh
was eventually induced to visit relatives in New England, and then
father and daughter watched events with a hundred-fold more anxiety
than that of the majority, because they were better informed and
more deeply involved in the issues at stake than many others. But
beyond all thought of worldly interests, their intense loyal feeling
burned with a pure, unwavering flame.

In addition to all that occupied her mind in connection with
her father's cares and duties, she had other grounds for anxiety.
Strahan wrote that his regiment was marching northward, and that
he soon expected to take part in the chief battle of the war. Every
day she hoped for some news from Lane, but none came. His wishes
in regard to Mammy Borden and her son had been well carried out.
Mr.  Vosburgh had been led to suspect that the man in charge of his
offices was becoming rather too curious in regard to his affairs,
and too well informed about them. Therefore Zeb was installed
in his place; and when Mrs. Vosburgh departed on her visit Marian
dismissed the girl who had succeeded Sally Maguire, and employed
the colored woman in her stead. She felt that this action would
be pleasing to Lane, and that it was the very least that she could
do.

Moreover, Mammy Borden was what she termed a "character," one to
whom she could speak with something of the freedom natural to the
ladies of the Southern household. The former slave could describe
a phase of life and society that was full of novelty and romance
to Marian, and "de young ladies," especially "Missy S'wanee," were
types of the Southern girl of whom she never wearied of hearing.
From the quaint talk of her new servant she learned to understand
the domestic life of those whom she had regarded as enemies, and was
compelled to admit that in womanly spirit and dauntless patriotism
they were her equals, and had proved it by facing dangers and
hardships from which she had been shielded. More than all, the old
colored woman was a protegee of Captain Lane and was never weary
of chanting his praises.

Marian was sincerely perplexed by the attitude of her mind towards
this young officer. He kindled her enthusiasm and evoked admiration
without stint. He represented to her the highest type of manhood
in that period of doubt, danger, and strong excitement. Brave to
the last degree, his courage was devoid of recklessness. The simple,
untutored description of his action given by the refugees had only
made it all the more clear that his mind was as keen and bright as
his sword, while in chivalric impulses he had never been surpassed.
Unconsciously Mammy Borden and her son had revealed traits in him
which awakened Marian's deepest respect, suggesting thoughts of
which she would not have spoken to any one. She had been shown his
course towards beautiful women who were in his power, and who at
the same time were plotting his destruction and that of his command.
While he foiled their hostile purpose, no knight of olden times
could have shown them more thoughtful consideration and respect.
She felt that her heart ought to go out towards this ideal lover
in utter abandon. Why did it not? Why were her pride, exultation,
and deep solicitude too near akin to the emotions she would have
felt had he been her brother? Was this the only way in which she
could love? Would the sacred, mysterious, and irresistible impulses
of the heart, of which she had read, follow naturally in due time?

She was inclined to believe that this was true, yet, to her surprise,
the thought arose unbidden: "If Willard Merwyn were showing like
qualities and making the same record--What absurdity is this!"
she exclaimed aloud. "Why does this Mr. Merwyn so haunt me, when
I could not give him even respect and friendship, although he sent
an army into the field, yet was not brave enough to go himself?
Where is he? What is he doing in these supreme hours of his country's
history? Everything is at stake at the front, yes, and even here
at the North, for I can see that papa dreads unspeakably what each
day may bring forth, yet neither this terrible emergency nor the
hope of winning my love can brace his timid soul to manly action.
There is more manhood in one drop of the blood shed by Captain Lane
than in Merwyn's whole shrinking body."



CHAPTER XXX.

THE NORTH INVADED.



Merwyn could scarcely have believed that he had sunk so low
in Marian's estimation as her words at the close of the previous
chapter indicated, yet he guessed clearly the drift of her opinion
in regard to him, and he saw no way of righting himself. In the
solitude of his country home he considered and dismissed several
plans of action. He thought of offering his services to the Sanitary
Commission, but his pride prevented, for he knew that she and others
would ask why a man of his youth and strength sought a service in
which sisters of charity could be his equals in efficiency. He also
saw that joining a regiment of the city militia was but a half-way
measure that might soon lead to the violation of his oath, since
these regiments could be ordered to the South in case of an emergency.

The prospect before him was that of a thwarted, blighted life. He
might live till he was gray, but in every waking moment he would
remember that he had lost his chance for manly action, when such
action would have brought him self-respect, very possibly happiness,
and certainly the consciousness that he had served a cause which
now enlisted all his sympathies.

At last he wrote to his mother an impassioned appeal to be released
from his oath, assuring her that he would never have any part in
the Southern empire that was the dream of her life. He cherished
the hope that she, seeing how unalterable were his feelings and
purposes, would yield to him the right to follow his own convictions,
and with this kindling hope his mind grew calmer.

Then, as reason began to assert itself, he saw that he had been absent
from the city too long already. His pride counselled: "The world
has no concern with your affairs, disappointments, or sufferings.
Be your father's son, and maintain your position with dignity. In a
few short weeks you may be free. If not, your secret is your own,
and no living soul can gossip about your family affairs, or say
that you betrayed your word or your family interests. Meanwhile,
in following the example of thousands of other rich and patriotic
citizens, you can contribute more to the success of the Union cause
than if you were in the field."

He knew that this course might not secure him the favor of one for
whom he would face every danger in the world, but it might tend to
disarm criticism and give him the best chances for the future.

He at once carried out his new purposes, and early in June returned
to his city home. He now resolved no longer to shrink and hide, but
to keep his own counsel, and face the situation like one who had
a right to choose his own career. Mr. Bodoin, his legal adviser,
received the impression that he had been quietly looking after
his country property, and the lawyer rubbed his bloodless hands in
satisfaction over a youthful client so entirely to his mind.

Having learned more fully what his present resources were, Merwyn
next called on Mr. Vosburgh at his office. That gentleman greeted
the young man courteously, disguising his surprise and curiosity.

"I have just returned from my country place," Merwyn began, "and
shall not have to go there very soon again, Can I call upon you as
usual?"

"Certainly," replied Mr. Vosburgh; but there was no warmth in his
tone.

"I have also a favor to ask," resumed Merwyn, with a slight
deepening of color in his bronzed face. "I have not been able to
follow events very closely, but so far as I can judge there is a
prospect of severe battles and of sudden emergencies. If there is
need of money, such means as I have are at your disposal."

Even Mr. Vosburgh, at the moment, felt much of Marian's repulsion
as he looked at the tall youth, with his superb physique, who spoke
of severe battles and offered "money." "Truly," he thought, "she
must be right. This man will part with thousands rather than risk
one drop of blood."

But he was too good a patriot to reveal his impression, and said,
earnestly: "You are right, Mr. Merwyn. There will be heavy fighting
soon, and all the aid that you can give the Sanitary and Christian
Commissions will tend to save life and relieve suffering."

Under the circumstances he felt that he could not use any of the
young man's money, even as a temporary loan, although at times the
employment of a few extra hundreds might aid him greatly in his
work.

Merwyn went away chilled and saddened anew, yet feeling that his
reception had been all that he had a right to expect.

There had been no lack of politeness on Mr. Vosburgh's part, but
his manner had not been that of a friend.

"He has recognized that I am under some secret restraint," Merwyn
thought, "and distrusts me at last. He probably thinks, with his
daughter, that I am afraid to go. Oh that I had a chance to prove
that I am, at least, not a coward! In some way I shall prove it
before many weeks pass."

At dinner, that evening, Mr. Vosburgh smiled significantly at
Marian, and said, "Who do you think called on me to-day?"

"Mr. Merwyn," she said, promptly.

"You are right. He came to offer--"

"Money," contemptuously completing her father's sentence.

"You evidently think you understand him. Perhaps you do; and I admit
that I felt much as you do, to-day, when he offered his purse to
the cause. I fear, however, that we are growing a little morbid on
this subject, and inclined to judgments too severe. You and I have
become like so many in the South. This conflict and its results
are everything to us, and we forget that we are surrounded by
hundreds of thousands who are loyal, but are not ready for very
great sacrifices."

"We are also surrounded by millions that are, and I cast in my lot
with these. If this is to be morbid, we have plenty of company."

"What I mean is, that we may be too hard upon those who do not
feel, and perhaps are not capable of feeling, as we do."

"O papa! you know the reason why Mr. Merwyn takes the course he
does."

"I know what you think to be the reason, and you may be right. Your
explanation struck me with more force than ever to-day; and yet,
looking into the young fellow's face, it seems impossible. He
impresses me strangely, and awakens much curiosity as to his future
course. He asked if he could call as usual, and I, with ordinary
politeness, said, 'Certainly.' Indeed, there was a dignity about
the fellow that almost compelled the word. I don't know that we
have any occasion to regret it. He has done nothing to forfeit mere
courtesy on our part."

"Oh, no," said Marian, discontentedly; "but he irritates me. I wish
I had never known him, and that I might never meet him again. I am
more and more convinced that my theory about him is correct, and
while I pity him sincerely, the ever-present consciousness of his
fatal defect is more distressing--perhaps I should say, annoying--than if
he presented some strong physical deformity. He is such a superb
and mocking semblance of a man that I cannot even think of him
without exasperation."

"Well, my dear, perhaps this is one of the minor sacrifices that
we must make for the cause. Until Merwyn can explain for himself,
he has no right to expect from us more than politeness. While I
would not take from him a loan for my individual work, I can induce
him to give much material help. In aiding Strahan, and in other
ways, he has done a great deal, and he is willing to do more. The
prospects are that everything will be needed, and I do not feel
like alienating one dollar or one bit of influence. According to
your theory his course is due to infirmity rather than to fault,
and so he should be tolerated, since he is doing the best he can.
Politeness to him will not compromise either our principles or
ourselves."

"Well, papa, I will do my best; but if he had a particle of my
intuition he would know how I feel. Indeed, I believe he does know
in some degree, and it seems to me that, if I were a man, I couldn't
face a woman while she entertained such an opinion."

"Perhaps the knowledge that you are wrong enables him to face you."

"If that were true he wouldn't be twenty-four hours in proving it."

"Well," said her father, with a grim laugh, and in a low voice,
"he may soon have a chance to show his mettle without going to
the front. Marian, I wish you would join your mother. The city is
fairly trembling with suppressed disloyalty. If Lee marches northward
I shall fear an explosion at any time."

"Leave the city!" said the young girl, hotly. "That would prove
that I possess the same traits that repel me so strongly in Mr.
Merwyn.  No, I shall not leave your side this summer, unless you
compel me to almost by force. Have we not recently heard of two
Southern girls who cheered on their friends in battle with bullets
flying around them? After witnessing that scene, I should make
a pitiable figure in Captain Lane's eyes should I seek safety in
flight at the mere thought of danger. I should die with shame."

"It is well Captain Lane does not hear you, or the surgeon would
have fever to contend with, as well as wounds."

"O dear!" cried the girl. "I wish we could hear from him."

Mr. Vosburgh had nearly reached the conclusion that if the captain
survived the vicissitudes of the war he would not plead a second
time in vain.

A few evenings later Merwyn called. Mr. Vosburgh was out, and others
were in the drawing-room. Marian did not have much to say to him,
but treated him with her old, distant politeness. He felt her manner,
and saw the gulf that lay between them, but no one unacquainted with
the past would have recognized any lack of courtesy on her part.

Among the exciting topics broached was the possibility
of a counter-revolution at the North. Merwyn noticed that Marian
was reticent in regard to her father and his opinions, but he was
startled to hear her say that she would not be surprised if violent
outbreaks of disloyalty took place any hour, and he recognized her
courage in remaining in the city. One of the callers, an officer
in the Seventh Regiment, also spoke of the possibility of all the
militia being ordered away to aid in repelling invasion.

Merwyn listened attentively, but did not take a very active part in
the conversation, and went away with the words "counter-revolution"
and "invasion" ringing in his ears.

He became a close student of the progress of events, and, with his
sensitiveness in regard to the Vosburghs, adopted a measure that
taxed his courage. A day or two later he called on Mr. Vosburgh at
his office, and asked him out to lunch, saying that he was desirous
of obtaining some information.

Mr. Vosburgh complied readily, for he wished to give the young
man every chance to right himself, and he could not disguise the
fact that he felt a peculiar interest in the problem presented by
his daughter's unfortunate suitor. Merwyn was rather maladroit in
accounting for his questions in regard to the results of a counter
revolution, and gave the impression that he was solicitous about
his property.

Convinced that his entertainer was loyal from conviction and
feeling, as well as from the nature of his pecuniary interests,
Mr.  Vosburgh spoke quite freely of the dangerous elements rapidly
developing at the North, and warned his host that, in his opinion,
the critical period of the struggle was approaching. Merwyn's grave,
troubled face and extreme reticence in respect to his own course
made an unfavorable impression, yet he was acting characteristically.
Trammelled as he was, he could not speak according to his natural
impulses. He felt that brave words, not enforced by corresponding
action, would be in wretched taste, and his hope was that by deeds
he could soon redeem himself. If there was a counter-revolution he
could soon find a post of danger without wearing the uniform of a
soldier or stepping on Southern soil, but he was not one to boast
of what he would do should such and such events take place. Moreover,
before the month elapsed he had reason to believe that he would
receive a letter from his mother giving him freedom. Therefore,
Mr. Vosburgh was left with all his old doubts and perplexities
unrelieved, and Marian's sinister theory was confirmed rather than
weakened.

Merwyn, however, was no longer despondent. The swift march of events
might give him the opportunities he craved. He was too young not to
seize on the faintest hope offered by the future, and the present
period was one of reaction from the deep dejection that, for a
time, had almost paralyzed him in the country.

Even as a boy he had been a sportsman, and a good shot with gun,
rifle, and pistol, but now he began to perfect himself in the use
of the last-named weapon. He arranged the basement of his house in
such a way that he could practise with his revolvers, and he soon
became very proficient in the accuracy and quickness of his aim.

According to the press despatches of the day, there was much
uncertainty in regard to General Lee's movements and plans. Mr.
Vosburgh's means of information led him to believe that the rebel
army was coming North, and many others shared the fear; but as
late as June 15, so skilfully had the Confederate leader masked
his purposes, that, according to the latest published news, the
indications were that he intended to cross the Rappahannock near
Culpepper and inaugurate a campaign similar to the one that had
proved so disastrous to the Union cause the preceding summer.

On the morning of the 16th, however, the head-lines of the leading
journals startled the people through the North. The rebel advance
had occupied Chambersburg, Pa. The invasion was an accomplished
fact. The same journals contained a call from the President for
100,000 militia, of which the State of New York was to furnish
20,000. The excitement in Pennsylvania was intense, for not only
her capital, but her principal towns and cities were endangered.
The thick-flying rumors of the past few days received terrible
confirmation, and, while Lee's plans were still shrouded in mystery,
enough was known to awaken apprehension, while the very uncertainty
proved the prolific source of the most exaggerated and direful
stories. There was immense activity at the various armories, and
many regiments of the city militia expected orders to depart at
any hour. The metropolis was rocking with excitement, and wherever
men congregated there were eager faces and excited tones.

Behind his impassive manner, when he appeared in the street, no
one disguised deeper feeling, more eager hope, more sickening fear,
than Willard Merwyn. When would his mother's letter come? If this
crisis should pass and he take no part in it he feared that he
himself would be lost.

Since his last call upon Marian he felt that he could not see her
again until he could take some decided course; but if there were
blows to be struck by citizens at the North, or if his mother's
letter acceded to his wish, however grudgingly, he could act at
once, and on each new day he awoke with the hope that he might be
unchained before its close.

The 17th of June was a memorable day. The morning press brought
confirmation of Lee's northward advance. The men of the Quaker
City were turning out en masse, either to carry the musket or for
labor on fortifications, and it was announced that twelve regiments
of the New-York militia were under marching orders. The invasion
was the one topic of conversation. There was an immense revival
of patriotism, and recruiting at the armories went on rapidly. At
this outburst of popular feeling disloyalty shrunk out of sight for
a time, and apparently the invaders who had come north as allies
of the peace party created an uprising, as they had expected, but
it was hostile to them.

The people were reminded of the threats of the Southern leaders.
The speech of Jeff Davis in the winter of 1860-61 was quoted: "If
war should result from secession, it will not be our fields that
will witness its ravages, but those of the North."

The fact that this prediction was already fulfilled stung even the
half-hearted into action, and nerved the loyalty of others, and
when it became known that the gallant Seventh Regiment would march
down Broadway en route for Pennsylvania at noon, multitudes lined
the thoroughfare and greeted their defenders with acclamations.

Merwyn knew that Marian would witness the departure, and he watched
in the distance till he saw her emerge from her home and go to a
building on Broadway in which her father had secured her a place.
She was attended by an officer clad in the uniform of a service
so dear to her, but which HE had sworn never to wear. He hastily
secured a point of observation in a building opposite, for while
the vision of the young girl awakened almost desperate revolt at
his lot, he could not resist a lover's impulse to see her. Pale,
silent, absorbed, he saw her wave her handkerchief and smile at
her friends as they passed; he saw a white-haired old lady reach
out her hands in yearning love, an eloquent pantomime that indicated
that her sons were marching under her eyes, and then she sank back
into Marian's arms.

"Oh," groaned Merwyn, "if that were my mother I could give her a
love that would be almost worship."



CHAPTER XXXI.

"I'VE LOST MY CHANCE."



During the remainder of the 17th of June and for the next few days,
the militia regiments of New York and Brooklyn were departing for
the seat of war. The city was filled with conflicting rumors. On
the 19th it was said that the invaders were returning to Virginia.
The questions "Where is Lee, and what are his purposes? and what
is the army of the Potomac about?" were upon all lips.

On the 20th came the startling tidings of organized resistance to
the draft in Ohio, and of troops fired upon by the mob. Mr. Vosburgh
frowned heavily as he read the account at the breakfast-table and
said: "The test of my fears will come when the conscription begins
in this city, and it may come much sooner. I wish you to join your
mother before that day, Marian!"

"No," she said, quietly,--"not unless you compel, me to."

"I may be obliged to use my authority," said her father, after some
thought. "My mind is oppressed by a phase of danger not properly
realized. The city is being stripped of its loyal regiments, and
every element of mischief is left behind."


"Papa, I entreat you not to send me away while you remain. I assure
you that such a course would involve far greater danger to me than
staying with you, even though your fears should be realized. If
the worst should happen, I might escape all harm. If you do what
you threaten, I could not escape a wounded spirit."

"Well, my dear," said her father, gently, "I appreciate your courage
and devotion, and I should indeed miss you. We'll await further
developments."

Day after day passed, bringing no definite information. There were
reports of severe cavalry fighting in Virginia, but the position
of the main body of Lee's army was still practically unknown to the
people at large. On the 22d, a leading journal said, "The public
must, with patience, await events in Virginia, and remain in
ignorance until some decisive point is reached;" and on the 24th,
the head-lines of the press read, in effect, "Not much of importance
from Pennsylvania yesterday." The intense excitement caused by
the invasion was subsiding. People could not exist at the first
fever-heat. It was generally believed that Hooker's army had brought
Lee to a halt, and that the two commanders were manoeuvring for
positions. The fact was that the Confederates had an abundance of
congenial occupation in sending southward to their impoverished
commissary department the immense booty they were gathering among
the rich farms and towns of Pennsylvania. Hooker was seeking, by
the aid of his cavalry force and scouts, to penetrate his opponent's
plans, meanwhile hesitating whether to fall on the rebel communications
in their rear, or to follow northward.

Lee and his great army, flushed with recent victories, were not all
that Hooker had to contend with, but there was a man in Washington,
whose incapacity and ill-will threatened even more fatal difficulties.
Gen. Halleck, Commander-in-Chief, hung on the Union leader like
the "Old Man of the Sea." He misled the noble President, who,
as a civilian, was ignorant of military affairs, paralyzed tens
of thousands of troops by keeping them where they could be of no
practical use, and by giving them orders of which General Hooker
was not informed. The Comte de Paris writes, "Lee's projects could
not have been more efficiently subserved," and the disastrous defeat
of General Milroy confirms these words. It was a repetition of the
old story of General Miles of the preceding year, with the difference
that Milroy was a gallant, loyal man, who did all that a skilful
officer could accomplish to avert the results of his superior's
blundering and negligence.

Hooker was goaded into resigning, and of the army of the Potomac the
gifted French author again writes, "Everything seemed to conspire
against it, even the government, whose last hope it was;" adding
later: "Out of the 97,000 men thus divided (at Washington, Frederick,
Fortress Monroe, and neighboring points) there were 40,000, perfectly
useless where they were stationed, that might have been added to
the army of the Potomac before the 1st of July. Thus reinforced, the
Union general could have been certain of conquering his adversary,
and even of inflicting upon him an irreparable disaster."

The fortunes of the North were indeed trembling in the balance.
We had to cope with the ablest general of the South and his great
army, with the peace (?) faction that threatened bloody arguments
in the loyal States, and with General Halleck.

The people were asking: "Where is the army of the Potomac? What
can it be doing, that the invasion goes on so long unchecked?" At
Gettysburg this patient, longsuffering army gave its answer.

Meanwhile the North was brought face to face with the direst
possibilities, and its fears, which history has proved to be just,
were aroused to the last degree. The lull in the excitement which
had followed the first startling announcement of invasion was
broken by the wildest rumors and the sternest facts. The public
pulse again rose to fever-heat. Farmers were flying into Harrisburg,
before the advancing enemy; merchants were packing their goods
for shipment to the North; and the panic was so general that the
proposition was made to stop forcibly the flight of able-bodied
men from the Pennsylvanian capital.

As Mr. Vosburgh read these despatches in the morning paper, Marian
smiled satirically, and said: "You think that Mr. Merwyn is under
some powerful restraint. I doubt whether he would be restrained
from going north, should danger threaten this city."

And many believed, with good reason, that New York City was
threatened. Major-General Doubleday, in his clear, vigorous account
of this campaign writes: "Union spies who claimed to have counted
the rebel forces as they passed through Hagerstown made their
number to be 91,000 infantry and 280 guns. This statement, though
exaggerated, gained great credence, and added to the excitement of
the loyal people throughout the Northern States, while the disloyal
element was proportionately active and jubilant." Again he writes:
"There was wild commotion throughout the North, and people began to
feel that the boast of the Georgia Senator, Toombs, that he would
call the roll of his slaves at the foot of Bunker Hill Monument,
might soon be realized. The enemy seemed very near and the army of
the Potomac far away." Again: "The Southern people were bent upon
nothing else than the entire subjugation of the North and the
occupation of our principal cities."

These statements of sober history are but the true echoes of the
loud alarms of the hour. On the morning of the 20th of June, such
words as these were printed as the leading editorial of the New York
Tribune: "The rebels are coming North. All doubt seems at length
dispelled. Men of the North, Pennsylvanians, Jerseymen, New-Yorkers,
New-Englanders, the foe is at your doors! Are you true men or
traitors? brave men or cowards? If you are patriots, resolved and
deserving to be free, prove it by universal rallying, arming, and
marching to meet the foe. Prove it NOW!"

Marian, with flashing eyes and glowing cheeks, read to her father
this brief trumpet call, and then exclaimed: "Yes, the issue is
drawn so sharply now that no loyal man can hesitate, and to-day
Mr.  Merwyn cannot help answering the question, 'Are you a brave
man or a coward?' O papa, to think that a MAN should be deaf to
such an appeal and shrink in such an emergency!"

At that very hour Merwyn sat alone in his elegant home, his face
buried in his hands, the very picture of dejection. Before him on
the table lay the journal from which he had read the same words
which Marian had applied to him in bitter scorn. An open letter
was also upon the table, and its contents had slain his hope. Mrs.
Merwyn had answered his appeal characteristically. "You evidently
need my presence," she wrote, "yet I will never believe that you
can violate your oath, unless your reason is dethroned. When you
forget that you have sworn by your father's memory and your mother's
honor, you must be wrecked indeed. I wonder at your blindness to
your own interests, and can see in it the influence which, in all
the past, has made some weak men reckless and forgetful of everything
except an unworthy passion. The armies of your Northern friends
have been defeated again and again. I have means of communication
with my Southern friends, and before the summer is over our gallant
leaders will dictate peace in the city where you dwell. What then
would become of the property which you so value, were it not for my
influence? My hope still is, that your infatuation will pass away
with your youth, and that your mind will become clear, so that
you can appreciate the future that might be yours. If I can only
protect you against yourself and designing people, all may yet be
well; and when our glorious South takes the foremost place among
the nations of the earth, my influence will be such that I can still
obtain for you rank and title, unless you now compromise yourself
by some unutterable folly. The crisis is approaching fast, and the
North will soon learn that, so far from subduing the South, it will
be subjugated and will gladly accept such terms as we may deem it
best to give. I have fulfilled my mission here. The leading classes
are with us in sympathy, and it will require but one or two more
victories like that of Chancellorsville to make England our open
ally. Then people of our birth and wealth will be the equals of the
English aristocracy, and your career can be as lofty as you choose
to make it. Then, with a gratitude beyond words, you will thank me
for my firmness, for you can aspire to the highest positions in an
empire such as the world has not seen before."

"No," said Merwyn, sternly, "if there is a free State left at the
North, I will work there with my own hands for a livelihood, rather
than have any part or lot in this Southern empire. Yet what can I
ever appear to be but a shrinking coward? An owner of slaves all
her life, my mother has made a slave of me. She has fettered my
very soul. Oh! if there are to be outbreaks at the North, let them
come soon, or I shall die under the weight of my chains."

The dark tide of invasion rose higher and higher. At last the tidings
came that Lee's whole army was in Pennsylvania, that Harrisburg
would be attacked before night, and that the enemy were threatening
Columbia on the northern bank of the Susquehanna, and would have
crossed the immense bridge which there spans the river, had it not
been burned.

On the 27th, the Tribune contained the following editorial words:
"Now is the hour. Pennsylvania is at length arousing, we trust not
too late. We plead with the entire North to rush to the rescue; the
whole North is menaced through this invasion. It we do not stop it
at the Susquehanna, it will soon strike us on the Delaware, then
on the Hudson."

"My chance is coming," Merwyn muttered, grimly, as he read these
words. "If the answering counter-revolution does not begin during
the next few days, I shall take my rifle and fight as a citizen as
long as there is a rebel left on Northern soil."

The eyes of others were turned towards Pennsylvania; he scanned
the city in which he dwelt. He had abandoned all morbid brooding,
and sought by every means in his power to inform himself in regard
to the seething, disloyal elements that were now manifesting
themselves. From what Mr. Vosburgh had told him, and from what he
had discovered himself, he felt that any hour might witness bloody
co-operation at his very door with the army of invasion.

"Should this take place," he exclaimed, as he paced his room, "oh
that it might be my privilege, before I died, to perform some deed
that would convince Marian Vosburgh that I am not what she thinks
me to be!"

Each new day brought its portentous news. On the 30th of June, there
were accounts of intense excitement at Washington and Baltimore,
for the enemy had appeared almost at the suburbs of these cities.
In Baltimore, women rushed into the streets and besought protection.
New York throbbed and rocked with kindred excitement.

On July 3d, the loyal Tribune again sounded the note of deep alarm:
"These are times that try men's souls! The peril of our country's
overthrow is great and imminent. The triumph of the rebels
distinctly and unmistakably involves the downfall of republican
and representative institutions."

By a strange anomaly multitudes of the poor, the oppressed in other
lands, whose hope for the future was bound up in the cause of the
North, were arrayed against it. Their ignorance made them dupes
and tools, and enemies of human rights and progress were prompt to
use them. On the evening of this momentous 3d of July, a manifesto,
in the form of a handbill, was extensively circulated throughout
the city. Jeff Davis himself could not have written anything more
disloyal, more false, of the Union government and its aims, or
better calculated to incite bloody revolution in the North.

For the last few days the spirit of rebellion had been burning like
a fuse toward a vast magazine of human passion and intense hatred
of Northern measures and principles. If from Pennsylvania had come
in electric flash the words, "Meade defeated," the explosion would
have come almost instantly; but all now had learned that the army
of the Potomac had emerged from its obscurity, and had grappled
with the invading forces. Even the most reckless of the so-called
peace faction could afford to wait a few hours longer. As soon as
the shattered columns of Meade's army were in full retreat, the
Northern wing of the rebellion could act with confidence.

The Tribune, in commenting on the incendiary document distributed
on the evening of the 3d, spoke as follows: "That the more determined
sympathizers, in this vicinity, with the Southern rebels have, for
months, conspired and plotted to bring about a revolution is as
certain as the Civil War. Had Meade been defeated," etc.

The dramatic culmination of this awful hour of uncertainty may
be found in the speeches, on July 4th, of ex-President Franklin
Pierce, at Concord, N.H., and of Governor Seymour, in the Academy
of Music, at New York. The former spoke of "the mailed hand of
military usurpation in the North, striking down the liberties of
the people and trampling its foot on a desecrated Constitution."
He lauded Vallandigham, who was sent South for disloyalty, as "the
noble martyr of free speech." He declared the war to be fruitless,
and exclaimed: "You will take care of yourselves. With or without
arms, with or without leaders, we will at least, in the effort to
defend our rights, as a free people, build up a great mausoleum of
hearts, to which men who yearn for liberty will, in after years,
with bowed heads reverently resort as Christian pilgrims to the
shrines of the Holy Land."

Such were the shrines with which this man would have filled New
England. There is a better chance now, that a new and loyal Virginia
will some day build a monument to John Brown.

Governor Seymour's speech was similar in tenor, but more guarded.
In words of bitter irony toward the struggling government, whose
hands the peace faction were striving to paralyze, he began: "When
I accepted the invitation to speak with others, at this meeting,
we were promised the downfall of Vicksburg, the opening of the
Mississippi, the probable capture of the Confederate capital, and
the exhaustion of the rebellion. By common consent, all parties
had fixed upon this day when the results of the campaign should be
known. But, in the moment of expected victory, there came a midnight
cry for help from Pennsylvania, to save its despoiled fields from
the invading foe; and, almost within sight of this metropolis, the
ships of your merchants were burned to the water's edge. Parties
are exasperated and stand in almost defiant attitude toward each
other."

"At the very hour," writes the historian Lossing, "when this ungenerous
taunt was uttered, Vicksburg and its dependences and vast spoils,
with more than thirty thousand Confederate captives, were in the
possession of General Grant; and the discomfited army of Lee, who,
when that sentence was written, was expected to lead his troops
victoriously to the Delaware, and perhaps to the Hudson, was flying
from Meade's troops, to find shelter from utter destruction beyond
the Potomac."

Rarely has history reached a more dramatic climax, and seldom have
the great scenes of men's actions been more swiftly shifted.

Merwyn attended this great mass-meeting, and was silent when the
thousands applauded. In coming out he saw, while unobserved himself,
Mr. Vosburgh, and was struck by the proud, contemptuous expression
of his face. The government officer had listened with a cipher
telegram in his pocket informing him of Lee's repulse.

For the last twenty-four hours Merwyn had watched almost sleeplessly
for the outburst to take place. That strong, confident face indicated
no fears that it would ever take place.

A few hours later, he, and all, heard from the army of the Potomac.

When at last it became known that the Confederate army was in full
retreat, and, as the North then believed, would be either captured
or broken into flying fragments before reaching Virginia, Merwyn
faced what he believed to be his fate.

"The country is saved," he said. "There will be no revolution at the
North. Thank God for the sake of others, but I've lost my chance."



CHAPTER XXXII.

BLAUVELT.



In June, especially during the latter part of the month, Strahan
and Blauvelt's letters to Marian had been brief and infrequent. The
duties of the young officers were heavy, and their fatigues great.
They could give her little information forecasting the future.
Indeed, General Hooker himself could not have done this, for all
was in uncertainty. Lee must be found and fought, and all that any
one knew was that the two great armies would eventually meet in
the decisive battle of the war.

The patient, heroic army of the Potomac, often defeated, but never
conquered, was between two dangers that can be scarcely overestimated,
the vast, confident hosts of Lee in Pennsylvania, and Halleck in
Washington. General Hooker was hampered, interfered with, deprived
of reinforcements that were kept in idleness elsewhere, and at
last relieved of command on the eve of battle, because he asked
that 11,000 men, useless at Harper's Ferry, might be placed under
his orders. That this was a mere pretext for his removal, and an
expression of Halleck's ill-will, is proved by the fact that General
Meade, his successor, immediately ordered the evacuation of Harper's
Ferry and was unrestrained and unrebuked. Meade, however, did not
unite these 11,000 men to his army, where they might have added
materially to his success, but left them far in his rear, a useless,
half-way measure possibly adopted to avoid displeasing Halleck.

It would seem that Providence itself assumed the guidance of this
longsuffering Union army, that had been so often led by incompetence
in the field and paralyzed by interference at Washington. Even the
philosophical historian, the Comte de Paris, admits this truth in
remarkable language.

Neither Lee nor Meade knew where they should meet, and had under
consideration various plans of action, but, writes the French
historian, "The fortune of war cut short all these discussions by
bringing the two combatants into a field which neither had chosen."
Again, after describing the region of Gettysburg, he concludes:
"Such is the ground upon which unforeseen circumstances were about
to bring the two armies in hostile contact. Neither Meade nor Lee
had any personal knowledge of it."

Once more, after a vivid description of the first day's battle, in
which Buford with his cavalry division, Doubleday with the First
Corps, and Howard with the Eleventh, checked the rebel advance, but
at last, after heroic fighting, were overwhelmed and driven back
in a disorder which in some brigades resembled a rout, the Comte
de Paris recognizes, in the choice of position on which the Union
troops were rallied, something beyond the will and wisdom of man.

"A resistless impulse seems to spur it (the rebel army) on to battle.
It believes itself invincible. There is scorn of its adversary;
nearly all the Confederate generals have undergone the contagion.
Lee himself, the grave, impassive man, will some day acknowledge that
he has allowed himself to be influenced by these common illusions.
It seems that the God of Armies had designated for the Confederates
the lists where the supreme conflict must take place: they cheerfully
accept the alternative, without seeking for any other."

All the world knows now that the position in the "lists" thus
"designated" to the Union army was almost an equivalent for the
thousands of men kept idle and useless elsewhere. To a certain
extent the conditions of Fredericksburg are reversed, and the
Confederates, in turn, must storm lofty ridges lined with artillery.

Of those days of awful suspense, the 3d, 4th, and 5th of July, the
French historian gives but a faint idea in the following words: "In
the mean while, the North was anxiously awaiting for the results
of the great conflict. Uneasiness and excitement were perceptible
everywhere; terror prevailed in all those places believed to be
within reach of the invaders. Rumors and fear exaggerated their
number, and the remembrance of their success caused them to be
deemed invincible."

When, therefore, the tidings came, "The rebel army totally defeated,"
with other statements of the victory too highly colored, a burden
was lifted from loyal hearts which the young of this generation
cannot gauge; but with the abounding joy and gratitude there were
also, in the breasts of hundreds of thousands, sickening fear and
suspense which must remain until the fate of loved ones was known.

In too vivid fancy, wives and mothers saw a bloody field strewn with
still forms, and each one asked herself, "Could I go among these,
might I not recognize HIS features?"

But sorrow and fear shrink from public observation, while joy and
exultation seek open expression. Before the true magnitude of the
victory at Gettysburg could be realized, came the knowledge that
the nation's greatest soldier, General Grant, had taken Vicksburg
and opened the Mississippi.

Marian saw the deep gladness in her father's eyes and heard it in
his tones, and, while she shared in his gratitude and relief, her
heart was oppressed with solicitude for her friends. To her, who
had no near kindred in the war, these young men had become almost
as dear as brothers. She was conscious of their deep affection,
and she felt that there could be no rejoicing for her until she was
assured of their safety. All spoke of the battle of Gettysburg as
one of the most terrific combats of the world. Two of her friends
must have been in the thick of it. She read the blood-stained
accounts with paling cheeks, and at last saw the words, "Captain
Blauvelt, wounded; Major Strahan, wounded and missing."

This was all. There was room for hope; there was much cause to
fear the worst. From Lane there were no tidings whatever. She was
oppressed with the feeling that perhaps the frank, true eyes of
these loyal friends might never again look into her own. With a
chill of unspeakable dread she asked herself what her life would
be without these friends. Who could ever take their place or fill
the silence made by their hushed voices?

Since reading the details of the recent battle her irritation against
Merwyn had passed away, and she now felt for him only pity.  Her
own brave spirit had been awed and overwhelmed by the accounts of
the terrific cannonade and the murderous hand-to-hand struggles.
At night she would start up from vivid dreams wherein she saw the
field with thousands of ghastly faces turned towards the white
moonlight. In her belief Merwyn was incapable of looking upon
such scenes. Therefore why should she think of him with scorn and
bitterness? She herself had never before realized how terrible
they were. Now that the dread emergency, with its imperative demand
for manhood and action, had passed, her heart became softened
and chastened with thoughts of death. She was enabled to form a
kinder judgment, and to believe it very possible that Merwyn, in
the consciousness of his weakness, was suffering more than many a
wounded man of sterner mettle.

On the evening of the day whereon she had read the ominous words
in regard to her friends, Merwyn's card was handed to her, and,
although surprised, she went down to meet him without hesitation.
His motives for this call need brief explanation.

For a time he had given way to the deepest dejection in regard to
his own prospects. There seemed nothing for him to do but wait for
the arrival of his mother, whom he could not welcome. He still had
a lingering hope that when she came and found her ambitious dreams
of Southern victory dissipated, she might be induced to give him
back his freedom, and on this hope he lived. But, in the main, he
was like one stunned and paralyzed by a blow, and for a time he
could not rally. He had been almost sleepless for days from intense
excitement and expectation, and the reaction was proportionately
great. At last he thought of Strahan, and telegraphed to Mrs.
Strahan, at her country place, asking if she had heard from her son.
Soon, after receiving a negative answer, he saw, in the long lists
of casualties, the brief, vague statement that Marian had found.
The thought then occurred to him that he might go to Gettysburg
and search for Strahan. Anything would be better than inaction.
He believed that he would have time to go and return before his
mother's arrival, and, if he did not, he would leave directions
for her reception. The prospect of doing something dispelled his
apathy, and the hope of being of service to his friend had decided
attractions, for he had now become sincerely attached to Strahan.
He therefore rapidly made his preparations to depart that very
night, but decided first to see Marian, thinking it possible that
she might have received some later intelligence. Therefore, although
very doubtful of his reception, he had ventured to call, hoping
that Marian's interest in her friend might secure for him a slight
semblance of welcome. He was relieved when she greeted him gravely,
quietly, but not coldly.

He at once stated his purpose, and asked if she had any information
that would guide him in his search. Although she shook her head
and told him that she knew nothing beyond what she had seen in the
paper, he saw with much satisfaction that her face lighted up with
hope and eagerness, and that she approved of his effort. While
explaining his intentions he had not sat down, but now she cordially
asked him to be seated and to give his plans more in detail.

"I fear you will find fearful confusion and difficulty in reaching
the field," she said.

"I have no fears," he replied. "I shall go by rail as far as possible,
then hire or purchase a horse. The first list of casualties is
always made up hastily, and I have strong hopes of finding Strahan
in one of the many extemporized hospitals, or, at least, of getting
some tidings of him."

"One thing is certain," she added, kindly,--"you have proved that
if you do find him, he will have a devoted nurse."

"I shall do my best for him," he replied, quietly. "If he has been
taken from the field and I can learn his whereabouts, I shall follow
him."

The color caused by his first slight embarrassment had faded away,
and Marian exclaimed, "Mr. Merwyn, you are either ill or have been
ill."

"Oh, no," he said, carelessly; "I have only shared in the general
excitement and anxiety. I am satisfied that we have but barely
escaped a serious outbreak in this city."

"I think you are right," she answered, gravely, and her thought was:
"He is indeed to be pitied if a few weeks of fearful expectation have
made him so pale and haggard. It has probably cost him a tremendous
effort to remain in the city where he has so much at stake."

After a moment's silence Merwyn resumed: "I shall soon take my
train. Would you not like to write a few lines to Strahan? As I
told you, in effect, once before, they may prove the best possible
tonic in case I find him."

Marian, eager to comply with the suggestion, excused herself. In her
absence her father entered. He also greeted the young man kindly,
and, learning of his project, volunteered some useful instructions,
adding, "I can give you a few lines that may be of service."

At last Merwyn was about to depart, and Marian, for the first time,
gave him her hand and wished him "God-speed." He flushed deeply,
and there was a flash of pleasure in his dark eyes as he said, in
a low tone, that he would try to deserve her kindness.

At this moment there was a ring at the door, and a card was brought
in. Marian could scarcely believe her eyes, for on it was written,
"Henry Blauvelt."

She rushed to the door and welcomed the young officer with exclamations
of delight, and then added, eagerly, "Where is Mr.  Strahan?"

"I am sorry indeed to tell you that I do not know," Blauvelt
replied, sadly. Then he hastily added: "But I am sure he was not
killed, for I have searched every part of the field where he could
possibly have fallen. I have visited the hospitals, and have spent
days and nights in inquiries. My belief now is that he was taken
prisoner."

"Then there is still hope!" exclaimed the young girl, with tears
in her eyes. "You surely believe there is still hope?"

"I certainly believe there is much reason for hope. The rebels
left their own seriously wounded men on the field, and took away
as prisoners only such of our men as were able to march. It is true
I saw Strahan fall just as we were driven back; but I am sure that
he was neither killed nor seriously wounded, for I went to the spot
as soon as possible afterwards and he was not there, nor have I
been able, since, to find him or obtain tidings of him. He may have
been knocked down by a piece of shell or a spent ball. A moment or
two later the enemy charged over the spot where he fell, and what
was left of our regiment was driven back some distance. From that
moment I lost all trace of him. I believe that he has only been
captured with many other prisoners, and that he will be exchanged
in a few weeks."

"Heaven grant that it may be so!" she breathed, fervently. "But,
Mr.  Blauvelt, YOU are wounded. Do not think us indifferent because
we have asked so eagerly after Major Strahan, for you are here
alive and apparently as undaunted as ever."

"Oh, my wounds are slight. Carrying my arm in a sling gives too
serious an impression. I merely had one of the fingers of my left
hand shot away, and a scratch on my shoulder."

"But have these wounds been dressed lately?" Mr. Vosburgh asked,
gravely.

"And have you had your rations this evening?" Marian added, with
the glimmer of a smile.

"Thanks, yes to both questions. I arrived this afternoon, and at
once saw a good surgeon. I have not taken time to obtain a better
costume than this old uniform, which has seen hard service."

"Like the wearer," said Marian. "I should have been sorry indeed
if you had changed it."

"Well, I knew that you would be anxious to have even a negative
assurance of Strahan's safety."

"And equally so to be positively assured of your own."

"I hoped that that would be true to some extent. My dear old mother,
in New Hampshire, to whom I have telegraphed, is eager to see me,
and so I shall go on in the morning."

"You must be our guest, then, to-night," said Mr. Vosburgh,
decisively. "We will take no refusal, and I shall send at once to
the hotel for your luggage."

"It is small indeed," laughed Blauvelt, flushing with pleasure,
"for I came away in very light marching order."

Marian then explained that Merwyn, who, after a brief, polite
greeting from Blauvelt, had been almost forgotten, was about to
start in search of Strahan.

"I would not lay a straw in his way, and possibly he may obtain
some clue that escaped me," said the young officer.

"Perhaps, if you feel strong enough to tell us something of that
part of the battle in which you were engaged, and of your search,
Mr. Merwyn may receive hints which will be of service to him," Mr.
Vosburgh suggested.

"I shall be very glad to do so, and feel entirely equal to the
effort. Indeed, I have been resting and sleeping in the cars nearly
all day, and am so much better that I scarcely feel it right to be
absent from the regiment."

They at once repaired to the library, Marian leaving word with
Mammy Borden that they were engaged, should there be other callers.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

A GLIMPSE OF WAR.



"Captain Blauvelt," said Marian, when they were seated in the
library, "I have two favors to ask of you. First, that you will
discontinue your story as soon as you feel the least weakness, and,
second, that you will not gloss anything over. I wish a life-picture
of a soldier's experience. You and Mr. Strahan have been inclined
to give me the brighter side of campaigning. Now, tell us just what
you and Mr. Strahan did. I've no right to be the friend of soldiers
if I cannot listen to the tragic details of a battle, while sitting
here in this quiet room, and I wish to realize, as I never have
done, what you and others have passed through. Do not be so modest
that you cannot tell us exactly what you did. In brief, a plain,
unvarnished tale unfold, and I shall be content."

"Now," she thought, "Mr. Merwyn shall know to whom I can give my
friendship. I do not ask him, or any one, to face these scenes,
but my heart is for a man who can face them."

Blauvelt felt that he was fortunate indeed. He knew that he had
fair powers as a raconteur, and he was conscious of having taken no
unworthy part in the events he was about to describe, while she,
who required the story, was the woman whom he most admired, and
whose good opinion was dear to him.

Therefore, after a moment's thought, he began: "In order to give
you a quiet, and therefore a more artistic prelude to the tragedy
of the battle, I shall touch lightly on some of the incidents of
our march to the field. I will take up the thread of our experiences
on the 15th of June, for I think you were quite well informed of
what occurred before that date. The 15th was one of the hottest
days that I remember. I refer to this fact because of a pleasant
incident which introduces a little light among the shadows, and
suggests that soldiers are not such bad fellows after all, although
inclined to be a little rough and profane. Our men suffered terribly
from the heat, and some received sunstrokes. Many were obliged to
fall out of the ranks, but managed to keep up with the column. At
noon we were halted near a Vermont regiment that had just drawn a
ration of soft bread and were boiling their coffee. As our exhausted
men came straggling and staggering in, these hospitable Vermonters
gave them their entire ration of bread and the hot coffee prepared
for their own meal; and when the ambulances brought in the men who
had been sun-struck, these generous fellows turned their camp into
a temporary hospital and themselves into nurses.

"I will now give you a glimpse of a different experience. Towards
evening on the 19th a rain-storm began, and continued all night.
No orders to halt came till after midnight. On we splashed, waded,
and floundered along roads cut up by troops in advance until the
mud in many places reached the depth of ten inches. It was intensely
dark, and we could not see to pick our way. Splashed from head to
foot, and wet through for hours, we had then one of the most dismal
experiences I remember. I had not been well since the terrible
heat of the 15th, and Strahan, putting on the air of a martinet,
sternly ordered me to mount his horse while he took charge of my
company."

Marian here clapped her hands in applause.

"At last we were ordered to file to the right into a field and bivouac
for the night. The field proved to be a marshy meadow, worse than
the road. But there was no help for it, and we were too tired to
hunt around in the darkness for a better place. Strahan mounted
again to assist in giving orders for the night's arrangement, and
to find drier ground if possible. In the darkness he and his horse
tumbled into a ditch so full of mire and water that he escaped all
injury. We sank half-way to our knees in the swampy ground, and the
horses floundered so that one or two of the officers were thrown,
and all were obliged to dismount. At last, by hallooing, the regiment
formed into line, and then came the unique order from the colonel,
'Squat, my bull-frogs.' There was nothing for us to do but to
lie down on the swampy, oozing ground, with our shelter tents and
blankets wrapped around and under us. You remember what an exquisite
Strahan used to be. I wish you could have seen him when the morning
revealed us to one another. He was of the color of the sacred soil
from crown to toe. When we met we stood and laughed at each other,
and I wanted him to let me make a sketch for your benefit, but we
hadn't time.

"I will now relate a little incident which shows how promptly
pluck and character tell. During the 25th we were pushed forward
not far from thirty miles. On the morning of this severe march
a young civilian officer, who had been appointed to the regiment
by the Governor, joined us, and was given command of Company I.
When he took his place in the march there was a feeling of intense
hostility toward him, as there ever is among veterans against
civilians who are appointed over them. If he had fallen out of the
ranks and died by the roadside I scarcely believe that a man would
have volunteered to bury him. But, while evidently unaccustomed to
marching, he kept at the head of his company throughout the entire
day, when every step must have been torture. He uttered not a word
of complaint, and at night was seen, by the light of a flaring
candle, pricking the blisters on his swollen feet; then he put on
his shoes, and walked away as erect as if on parade. In those few
hours he had won the respect of the entire regiment, and had become
one of us. Poor fellow! I may as well mention now that he was
killed, a few days later, with many of the company that he was
bravely leading. His military career lasted but little over a week,
yet he proved himself a hero.

"Now I will put in a few high lights again. On the 28th we entered
Frederick City. Here we had a most delightful experience. The day
was warm and all were thirsty. Instead of the cold, lowering glances
to which we had been accustomed in Virginia, smiling mothers, often
accompanied by pretty daughters, stood in the gateways with pails
and goblets of cool, sparkling water. I doubt whether the same
number of men ever drank so much water before, for who could pass
by a white hand and arm, and a pretty, sympathetic face, beaming
with good-will? Here is a rough sketch I made of a Quaker matron,
with two charming daughters, and an old colored man, 'totin'' water
at a rate that must have drained their well."

Marian praised the sketch so heartily that Merwyn knew she was
taking this indirect way to eulogize the soldier as as well as the
artist, and he groaned inwardly as he thought how he must suffer
by contrast.

"I will pass over what occurred till the 1st of July. Our march
lay through a country that, after desolated Virginia, seemed like
paradise, and the kind faces that greeted us were benedictions.
July 1st was clear, and the sun's rays dazzling and intense in their
heat. Early in the afternoon we were lying around in the shade,
about two miles from the State line of Pennsylvania. Two corps
had preceded us. Some of our men, with their ears on the ground,
declared that they could hear the distant mutter of artillery. The
country around was full of troops, resting like ourselves.

"Suddenly shrill bugle-blasts in every direction called us into
line. We were moved through Emmetsburg, filed to the left into
a field until other troops passed, and then took our place in the
column and began a forced march to Gettysburg. Again we suffered
terribly from the heat and the choking clouds of dust raised by
commands in advance of us. The sun shone in the west like a great,
angry furnace. Our best men began to stagger from the ranks and fall
by the wayside, while every piece of woods we passed was filled
with prostrate men, gasping, and some evidently dying. But on,
along that white, dusty road, the living torrent poured. Only one
command was heard. 'Forward! Forward!'

"First, like a low jar of thunder, but with increasing volume and
threatening significance, the distant roar of artillery quickened
the steps of those who held out. Major Strahan was again on his
feet, with other officers, their horses loaded down with the rifles
of the men. Even food and blankets, indeed almost everything except
ammunition, was thrown away by the men, for, in the effort to reach
the field in time, an extra pound became an intolerable burden.

"At midnight we were halted on what was then the extreme left of
Meade's position. When we formed our regimental line, as usual,
at the close of the day, not over one hundred men and but five or
six officers were present. Over one hundred and fifty had given
out from the heat and fatigue. The moment ranks were broken the men
threw themselves down in their tracks and slept with their loaded
guns by their sides. Strahan and I felt so gone that we determined
to have a little refreshment if possible. Lights were gleaming from
a house not far away, and we went thither in the hope of purchasing
something that would revive us. We found the building, and even
the yard around it, full of groaning and desperately wounded men,
with whom the surgeons were busy. This foretaste of the morrow took
away our appetites, and we returned to our command, where Strahan
was soon sleeping, motionless, as so many of our poor fellows would
be on the ensuing night.

"Excessive fatigue often takes from me the power to sleep, and I lay
awake, listening to the strange, ominous sounds off to our right.
There were the heavy rumble of artillery wheels, the tramp of men,
and the hoarse voices of officers giving orders. In the still night
these confused sounds were wonderfully distinct near at hand, but
they shaded off in the northeast to mere murmurs. I knew that it
was the army of the Potomac arriving and taking its positions. The
next day I learned that General Meade had reached the field about
one A.M., and that he had spent the remaining hours of the night
in examining the ground and in making preparations for the coming
struggle. The clear, white moonlight, which aided him in his task,
lighted up a scene strange and beautiful beyond words. It glinted
on our weapons, gave to the features of the sleepers the hue
of death, and imparted to Strahan's face, who lay near me, almost
the delicacy and beauty of a girl. I declare to you, that when I
remembered the luxurious ease from which he had come, the hero he
was now, and all his many acts of kindness to me and others,--when
I thought of what might be on the morrow, I'm not ashamed to say
that tears came into my eyes."

"Nor am I ashamed," faltered Marian, "that you should see tears in
mine. Oh, God grant that he may return to us again!"

"Well," resumed Blauvelt, after a moment of thoughtful hesitation,
"I suppose I was a little morbid that night. Perhaps one was excusable,
for all knew that we were on the eve of the most desperate battle
of the war. I shall not attempt to describe the beauty of the
landscape, or the fantastic shapes taken by the huge boulders that
were scattered about. My body seemed almost paralyzed with fatigue,
but my mind, for a time, was preternaturally active, and noted every
little detail. Indeed, I felt a strange impulse to dwell upon and
recall everything relating to this life, since the chances were
so great that we might, before the close of another day, enter a
different state of existence. You see I am trying, as you requested,
to give you a realistic picture."

"That is what I wish," said the young girl; but her cheeks were
pale as she spoke.

"In the morning I was awakened by one of my men bringing me a cup
of hot coffee, and when I had taken it, and later a little breakfast
of raw pork and hard-tack, I felt like a new man. Nearly all of our
stragglers had joined us during the night, or in the dawn, and our
regiment now mustered about two hundred and forty rifles in line,
a sad change from the time when we marched a thousand strong. But
the men now were veterans, and this almost made good the difference.

"When the sun was a few hours high we were moved forward with the
rest of our brigade; then, later, off to the left, and placed in
position on the brow of a hill that descended steeply before us,
and was covered with rocks, huge boulders, and undergrowth. The
right of our regiment was in the edge of a wood with a smoother
slope before it. I and my company had no other shelter than the
rocks and boulders, which formed a marked feature of the locality,
and protruded from the soil in every imaginable shape. If we had
only thrown the smaller stones together and covered them with earth
we might have made, during the time we wasted, a line of defence
from which we could not have been driven. The 2d of July taught us
that we had still much to learn. As it was, we lounged about upon
the grass, seeking what shade we could from the glare of another
intensely hot day, and did nothing.

"A strange, ominous silence pervaded the field for hours, broken
only now and then by a shell screaming through the air, and the
sullen roar of the gun from which it was fired. The pickets along
our front would occasionally approach the enemy too closely, and there
would be brief reports of musketry, again followed by oppressive
silence. A field of wheat below us undulated in light billows
as the breeze swept it. War and death would be its reapers.  The
birds were singing in the undergrowth; the sun lighted up the rural
landscape brilliantly, and it was almost impossible to believe
that the scenes of the afternoon could, take place. By sweeping
our eyes up and down our line, and by resting them upon a battery
of our guns but a few yards away, we became aware of the significance
of our position. Lee's victorious army was before us. Sinister
rumors of the defeat of Union forces the previous day had reached
us, and we knew that the enemy's inaction did not indicate hesitation
or fear, but rather a careful reconnaissance of our lines, that the
weakest point might be discovered. Every hour of delay, however,
was a boon to us, for the army of the Potomac was concentrating
and strengthening its position.

"We were on the extreme left of the Union army; and, alas for us!
Lee first decided to turn and crush its left. As I have said, we
were posted along the crest of a hill which sloped off a little
to the left, then rose again, and culminated in a wild, rocky
elevation called the Devil's Den,--fit name in view of the scenes
it witnessed. Behind us was a little valley through which flowed a
small stream called Plum Run. Here the artillery horses, caissons,
and wagons were stationed, that they might be in partial shelter.
Across the Run, and still further back, rose the rocky, precipitous
heights of Little Round Top, where, during the same afternoon,
some of the severest fighting of the battle is said to have taken
place.  Please give me a sheet of paper, and I can outline the
nature of the ground just around us. Of the general battle of that
day I can give you but a slight idea. One engaged in a fight sees,
as a rule, only a little section of it; but in portraying that he
gives the color and spirit of the whole thing."

Rapidly sketching for a few minutes, Blauvelt resumed: "Here we
are along the crest of this hill, with a steep, broken declivity
in front of us, extending down a few hundred yards to another small
stream, a branch of Plum Run. Beyond this branch the ground rises
again to some thick woods, which screened the enemy's movements.

"At midday clouds of dust were seen rising in the distance, and we
at last were told that Sedgwick's corps had arrived, and that the
entire army of the Potomac was on the ground. As hours still elapsed
and no attack was made, the feeling of confidence grew stronger.
Possibly Lee had concluded that our position was unassailable, or
something had happened. The soldier's imagination was only second
to his credulity in receiving the rumors which flew as thick as
did the bullets a little later.

"Strahan and I had a quiet talk early in the day, and said what we
wished to each other. After that he became dreamy and absorbed in
his own thoughts as we watched for signs of the enemy through hours
that seemed interminable. Some laughing, jesting, and card-playing
went on among the men, but in the main they were grave, thoughtful,
and alert, spending the time in discussing the probabilities of
this conflict, and in recalling scenes of past battles.

"Suddenly--it could not have been much past three o'clock--a dozen
rebel batteries opened upon us, and in a second we were in a tempest
of flying, bursting shells. Our guns, a few yards away, and other
batteries along our line, replied. The roar of the opening battle
thundered away to the right as far as we could hear. We were formed
into line at once, and lay down upon the ground. A few of our men
were hit, however, and frightful wounds were inflicted. After this
iron storm had raged for a time we witnessed a sight that I shall
never forget. Emerging from the woods on the slope opposite to us,
solid bodies of infantry, marching by columns of battalion, came
steadily toward us, their bayonets scintillating in the sunlight as
if aflame. On they came till they crossed the little stream before
us, and then deployed into four distinct lines of battle as steadily
as if on parade. It was hard to realize that those men were marching
towards us in the bright sunlight with deadly intent. Heretofore,
in Virginia, the enemy had been partially screened in his approaches,
but now all was like a panorama spread before us. We could see our
shells tearing first through their column, then through the lines of
battle, making wide gaps and throwing up clouds of dust. A second
later the ranks were closed again, and, like a dark tide, on flowed
their advance.

"We asked ourselves, 'What chance have our thin ranks against those
four distinct, heavy battle lines advancing to assault us?' We had
but two ranks of men, they eight. But not a man in our regiment
flinched. When the enemy reached the foot of the hill our cannon
could not be so depressed as to harm them. The time had come for
the more deadly small arms. After a momentary halt the Confederates
rushed forward to the assault with loud yells.

"Strahan's face was flushed with excitement and ardor. He hastened
to the colonel on the right of the line and asked him to order a
charge. The colonel coolly and quietly told him to go back to his
place. A crash of musketry and a line of fire more vivid than July
sunshine breaks out to the right and left as far as we can hear.
Our men are beginning to fall. Again the impetuous Strahan hastens
to the colonel and entreats for the order to charge, but our
commander, as quiet and as impassive as the boulder beside which
he stands, again orders him back. A moment later, however, their
horses are brought, and they mount in spite of my remonstrances and
those of other officers. Strahan's only answer was, "The men must
see us to-day;" and he slowly rode to the rear and centre of the
regiment, wheeled his horse, and, with drawn sword, fixed his eyes
on the colonel, awaiting his signal. Supreme as was the moment of
excitement, I looked for a few seconds at my gallant friend, for
I wished to fix his portrait at that moment forever in my mind."

"Merciful Heaven!" said Marian, in a choking voice, "I thought I
appreciated my friends before, but I did not."

Mr. Vosburgh's eyes rested anxiously on his daughter, and he asked,
gravely, "Marian, is it best for you to hear more of this to-night?"

"Yes, papa. I must hear it all, and not a detail must be softened
or omitted. Moreover," she added, proudly, dashing her tears right
and left, "I am not afraid to listen."

Merwyn had shifted his seat, and was in deep shadow. He was pale
and outwardly impassive, but there was torture in his mind. She
thought, pityingly, "In spite of my tears I have a stouter heart
than he."



CHAPTER XXXIV.

A GLIMPSE OF WAR, CONTINUED.



"Miss Marian," resumed Blauvelt, "the scenes I am now about to
describe are terrible in the extreme, even in their baldest statement.
I cannot portray what actually took place; I doubt whether any one
could; I can only give impressions of what I saw and heard when
nearly all of us were almost insane from excitement.  There are
men who are cool in battle,--our colonel was, outwardly,--but the
great majority of men must be not only veterans, but also gifted with
unusual temperaments, to be able to remain calm and well balanced
in the uproar of a bloody battle.

"In a sense, our men were veterans, and were steady enough to aim
carefully as the enemy advanced up the steep hill. Our shots told
on them more fatally than theirs on us. The greater number of us
shared Strahan's impatience, and we longed for the wild, forward
dash, which is a relief to the tremendous nervous strain at such a
time.  After a moment or two, that seemed ages, the colonel quietly
nodded to Strahan, who waved his sword, pointed towards the enemy,
and shouted, 'Charge!'

"You know him well enough to be sure that this was not an order
for the men to fulfil while he looked on. In a second his powerful
bay sprung through the centre of our line, and to keep up with him
we had to follow on a run. There was no hesitation or flagging.
Faces that had been pale were flushed now. As I turned my eyes
from moment to moment back to my company, the terrible expression
of the men's eyes impressed me even then. The colonel watched our
impetuous rush with proud satisfaction, and then spurred his horse
to the very midst of our advance. The lieutenant-colonel, undaunted
by a former wound, never flinched a second, but wisely fought on
foot.

"The first battle-line of the enemy seemed utterly unable to stand
before our fierce onset. Those who were not shot fled.

"Again I saw Strahan waving his sword and shouting; 'Victory!
Forward, men! forward!'

"He was in the very van, leading us all. At this moment the second
rebel line fired a volley, and the bullets swept by like an autumn
gust through a tree from which the leaves, thinned by former gales,
are almost stripped. It seemed at the moment as if every other man
went down. Wonder of wonders, as the smoke lifted a little, I saw
to the right the tall form of our colonel still on his gray horse,
pointing with his sword to the second rebel line, and shouting,
'Forward, my men! forward!'

"As the order left his lips, his sword fell, point-downward, and,
with a headlong curve, he went over his horse upon the rocks below.
Even in his death he went towards the enemy. His horse galloped in
the same direction, but soon fell. I thought that Strahan was gone
also, for he was hidden by smoke. A second later I heard his voice:
'Forward! Charge!'

"The men seemed infuriated by the loss of the colonel, and by no
means daunted. Our next mad rush broke the second line of the enemy.

"The scene now defies all my powers of description. The little
handful of men that was left of my company were almost beyond
control. Each soldier was acting under the savage impulse to follow
and kill some rebel before him. I shared the feeling, yet remained
sane enough to thank God when I saw Strahan leap lightly down from
his staggering horse, yet ever crying, 'Forward!' A second later
the poor animal fell dead.

"Our own cannons were bellowing above us; the shells of the enemy
were shrieking over our heads. There was a continuous crash of
musketry that sounded like a fierce, devouring flame passing through
dry thorns, yet above all this babel of horrid sounds could be heard
the shouts and yells of the combatants and the shrieks and groans
of wounded and dying men. Then remember that I saw but a little
section, a few yards in width, of a battle extending for miles.

"In our mad excitement we did not consider the odds against us. The
two remaining lines of battle were advancing swiftly through the
fugitives, and we struck the first with such headlong impetuosity
that it was repulsed and gave back; but the fourth and last line
passing through, and being reinforced by the other broken lines,
came unfaltering, and swept us back from sheer weight of numbers.
We were now reduced to a mere skirmish line. It was at this moment
that I saw Strahan fall, and it seemed but a second later that the
enemy's advance passed over the spot. It was impossible then to
rescue him, for the lieutenant-colonel had given orders for all
to fall back and rally behind the guns that it was our duty to
protect.  Indeed, the difficult thing, now, was to get back. The
Union regiment, on our right, had given way, after a gallant fight,
earlier than we had, and the rebels were on our flank and rear. A
number of our men going to the ridge, from which they had charged,
ran into the enemy and were captured. There were desperate hand-to-hand
encounters, hair-breadth escapes, and strange episodes.

"One occurs to me which I saw with my own eyes. It happened a
little earlier in the fight. We were so close to the enemy that a
man in my company had not time to withdraw his ramrod, and, in his
instinctive haste to shoot first at a rebel just before him, sent
ramrod and all through the Confederate's body, pinning him to the
ground. The poor fellow stretched out his hands and cried for mercy.
My man not only wished to recover his rod, but was, I believe,
actuated by a kindly impulse, for he ran to the 'Johnny," pulled
out the rod, jerked the man to his feet, and started him on a run
to our rear as prisoner.

"When at last what was left of the regiment reached its original
position it numbered no more than a full company. Scarcely a hundred
were in line. Over one hundred of our men and the majority of the
officers were either killed or wounded. While the lieutenant-colonel
was rallying us near the battery, a shell struck a gun-carriage,
hurling it against him, and he was home senseless from the field.
The command now devolved on the senior captain left unwounded.

"One of my men now said to me, 'Captain, why don't you go to the
rear? Your face is so covered with blood that you must be badly
hurt.'

"It was only at that moment that I became conscious of my wound. In
my intense anxiety about Strahan, in the effort to get my men back
in something like order, and in the shock of seeing the lieutenant-colonel
struck down, my mind seemed almost unaware of the existence of
the body. In the retreat I had felt something sting my hand like
a nettle, and now found one of the fingers of my left hand badly
shattered. With this hand I had been wiping my brow, for it was
intensely hot. I therefore was the most sanguineous-looking man of
our number.

"Of course I did not go to the rear because of a wound of so slight
a nature, and my earnest hope was that reinforcements would enable
us to drive the enemy back so that I could go to the spot where I
had seen Strahan fall.

"What I have vainly attempted to describe occurred in less time
than I have taken in telling about it. I think it would have been
much better if we had never left the line which we now occupied,
and which we still held in spite of the overwhelming superiority,
in numbers, of the enemy. If, instead of wasting the morning hours,
we had fortified this line, we never could have been driven from
it.

"Our immediate foes, in front of us did not at that time advance
much farther than the point of our repulse, and, like ourselves,
sought cover from which to fire. We now had a chance to recover
a little from our wild excitement, and to realize, in a slight
degree, what was taking place around us. Information came that
our corps-commander had been seriously wounded. Our own colonel
lay, with other dead officers, a little in our rear, yet in plain
sight.  We could only give them a mournful glance, for the battle
was still at its height, and was raging in our front and for miles
to the right. The thunder of three hundred or more guns made the
very earth tremble, while the shrieking and bursting of the shells
above us filled the air with a din that was infernal.

"But we had little chance to observe or think of anything except
the enemy just below us. With wolfish eyes they were watching every
chance to pick off our men. Many of our killed and wounded on the
bloody declivity were in plain view, and one poor fellow, desperately
hurt, would often raise his hand and wave it to us.

"Our men acted like heroes, and took deliberate aim before they
fired. When a poor fellow dropped, one of our officers picked up
the rifle and fired in his place."

"Did you do that?" Marian asked.

"Yes; my sword was of no service, and my handful of men needed no
orders. Anything at such a time is better than inaction, and we all
felt that the line must be held. Every bullet counted, you know.

"Some of our boys did very brave things at this time. For instance:
rifles, that had become so clogged or hot as to be unserviceable,
were dropped, and the men would say to their immediate companions,
'Be careful how you fire,' and then rush down the slope, pick up
the guns of dead or wounded comrades, and with these continue the
fight.

"At last the enemy's fire slackened a little, and I went to take
my farewell look at our colonel and others of our officers whose
bodies had been recovered. These were then carried to the rear,
and I never saw their familiar faces again.

"The horses now came up at a gallop to take away the battery near
us, and I saw a thing which touched me deeply. As the horses were
turning that a gun might be limbered up, a shot, with a clean cut,
carried away a leg from one of the poor animals. The faithful,
well-trained beast, tried to hobble around into his place on three
legs. He seemed to have caught the spirit which animated the entire
army that day.

"As I turned toward the regiment, the cry went up, 'They are flanking
us!'

"The brief slackening of the enemy's fire had only indicated
preparations for a general forward movement. An aid now galloped
to us with orders to fall back instantly. A few of my men had been
placed, for the sake of cover, in the woods on the right, and I
hastened over to them to give the order. By the time I had collected
them, the enemy had occupied our old position and we barely escaped
capture. When we caught up with the regiment, our brigade-commander
had halted it and was addressing it in strong words of eulogy;
adding, however, that he still expected almost impossible things
of his troops.

"It was pleasant to know that our efforts had been recognized and
appreciated, but our hearts were heavy with the thoughts of those
we had lost. We were now sent to a piece of woods about a mile to
the rear, as a part of the reserve, and it so happened that we were
not again called into the fight, which ended, you know, the next
day.

"I had bound up my fingers as well as I could, and now, in reaction
and from loss of blood, felt sick and faint. I did not wish to go
to our field hospital, for I knew the scenes there were so horrible
that I should not be equal to witnessing them. Our surgeon came
and dressed my finger for me, and said that it would have to come
off in the morning, and I now found that my shoulder also had been
slightly cut with a bullet. These injuries on that day, however,
were the merest trifles.

"Our supper was the dreariest meal I ever took. The men spoke in
subdued tones, and every now and then a rough fellow would draw his
sleeve across his eyes, as so many things brought to mind those who
had breakfasted with us. We were like a household that had returned
from burying the greater part of its number. Yes, worse than this,
for many, suffering from terrible wounds, were in the hands of the
enemy.

"Of course I grieved for the loss of men and officers, but I had
come to feel like a brother towards Strahan, and, fatigued as I
was, solicitude on his account kept me awake for hours. The battle
was still raging on our extreme right, and I fell asleep before
the ominous sounds ceased.

"Waking with the dawn, I felt so much better and stronger that I
took a hasty cup of coffee, and then started toward the spot where
I had seen Strahan fall, in the hope of reaching it. The surgeon had
ordered that I should be relieved from duty, and told me to keep
quiet. This was impossible with my friend's fate in such uncertainty.
I soon found that the enemy occupied the ground on which we had
fought, and that to go beyond a certain point would be death or
captivity. Therefore I returned, the surgeon amputated my finger,
and then I rested with the regiment several hours. With the dawn,
heavy fighting began again on the extreme right, but we knew at
the time little of its character or object.

"After an early dinner I became restless and went to our corps-hospitals
to look after such of the wounded of my company as had been carried
thither. It was situated in a grove not far away. I will not describe
the scenes witnessed there, for it would only give you useless pain.
The surgeons had been at work all the night and morning around the
amputation tables, and our doctor and chaplain had done about all
that could be accomplished for our poor fellows.  There were hundreds
of men lying on the ground, many of whom were in the agonies of
death even as I passed.

"I again went back to see if there had been any change in our front
which would enable me to reach Strahan. This still being impossible,
I continued along our lines to the right at a slow pace, that I
might gain some idea of our position and prospects. My hope now of
reaching Strahan lay in our defeating Lee and gaining the field.
Therefore I had a double motive to be intensely interested in all
I saw. Since nine in the morning a strange silence had settled on
the field, but after yesterday's experience it raised no delusive
hopes.  With the aid of a small field-glass that I carried, I could
see the enemy's batteries, and catch glimpses of their half-concealed
infantry, which were moving about in a way that indicated active
preparation for something. Our officers had also made the most of
this respite, and there had been a continuous shifting of troops,
strengthening of lines, and placing of artillery in position since
the dawn. Now, however, the quiet was wonderful, in view of the
vast bodies of men which were hi deadly array. Even the spiteful
picket-firing had ceased.

"I had barely reached a high point, a little in the rear of the
Second Corps, commanded by General Hancock, when I saw evidences
of excitement and interest around me. Eyes and field-glasses were
directed towards the enemy's lines nearly opposite. Springing on
a rock near me, I turned my glass in the same direction, and saw
that Lee was massing his artillery along the edge of the woods on
the ridge opposite. The post of observation was a good one, and I
determined to maintain it. The rock promised shelter when the iron
tempest should begin.

"Battery after battery came into position, until, with my glass,
I could count nearly a hundred guns. On our side batteries were
massing also, both to the right and the left of where I stood.
Experience had so taught me what these preparations meant that I
fairly trembled with excitement and awe. It appeared as if I were
about to witness one of the most terrific combats of the world,
and while I might well doubt whether anything could survive
the concentrated fire of these rebel guns, I could not resist the
desire to see out what I felt must be the final and supreme effort
of both armies. Therefore I stuck to my rock and swept with my glass
the salient points of interest. I dreaded the effect of the awful
cannonade upon our lines of infantry that lay upon the ground below
me, behind such slight shelter as they could find. Our position at
this point was commanding, but many of the troops were fearfully
exposed, while our artillerymen had to stand in plain view. Over
all this scene, so awfully significant and unnaturally quiet,
the scorching July sun sent down its rays like fiery darts, which
everywhere on the field scintillated as if they were kindling
innumerable fires.

"At last the enemy fired a single gun. Almost instantly a flashing
line of light swept along the massed Confederate batteries, I sprung
down behind my rock as a perfect storm of iron swept over and around
me, and my heart stood almost still at the deep reverberations
which followed. This was but the prelude to the infernal symphony
that followed. With remarkable rapidity and precision of aim the
enemy continued firing, not irregularly, but in immense thundering
volleys, all together. There would be a moment's pause, and then
would come such a storm of iron that it seemed to me that even my
sheltering rock would be cut away, and that everything exposed must
be annihilated.

"At first I was exceedingly troubled that our guns did not reply.
Could it be possible that the enemy's fire was so destructive that
our forces were paralyzed? I was learning to distinguish between the
measured cadences of the enemy's firing. After a hurtling shower
flew over, I sprung out, took a survey, and was so filled with
exultation and confidence, that I crept back again with hope renewed.
Our men were standing at the guns, which officers were sighting in
order to get more accurate range, and the infantry had not budged.
Of course there were streams of wounded going to the rear, but this
is true of every battle.

"I now had to share my slight cover with several others, and saw
that if I went out again I should lose it altogether. So I determined
to wait out the artillery duel quietly. I could see the effects
of the enemy's shells in the rear, if not in front, and these were
disastrous enough. In the depression behind the ridge on which were
our guns and infantry, there were ammunition-wagons, ambulances,
and caissons. Among these, shells were making havoc.  Soon a caisson
exploded with a terrific report and a great cloud of smoke, which,
clearing, revealed many prostrate forms, a few of which were able
to crawl away.

"Minutes, which seemed like ages, had passed, and the horrible din
was then doubled by the opening of all our batteries. The ground
beneath me trembled, but as time passed and our guns kept up their
steady fire, and the infantry evidently remained unshaken in their
lines of defence, my confidence became stronger. By degrees you grow
accustomed to almost anything, and I now found leisure to observe
my companions behind the rock. I instantly perceived that two of
them were press-correspondents, young, boyish-looking fellows, who
certainly proved themselves veterans in coolness and courage. Even
in that deadly tempest they were alert and busy with their note-books.

"When the caisson exploded, each swiftly wrote a few cabalistic
symbols. There was a house to the left, as we sat feeing our rear,
and I saw that they kept their eyes on that almost continually.
Curious to know why, I shouted in the ear of one, asking the
reason.  He wrote, 'Meade's headquarters,' and then I shared their
solicitude. That it was occupied by some general of high rank, was
evident from the number of horses tied around it, and the rapid
coming and going of aids and orderlies; but it seemed a terrible
thing that our commander-in-chief should be so exposed. Shells flew
about the little cottage like angry hornets about their nest, and
every few minutes one went in. The poor horses, tied and helpless,
were kicking and plunging in their terror, and one after another
went down, killed or wounded. I was told that General Meade and
staff were soon compelled to leave the place.

"The hours of the cannonade grew monotonous and oppressive. Again
and again caissons were exploded and added to the terrible list
of casualties. Wagons and ambulances--such of them as were not
wrecked--were driven out of range. Every moment or two the ground
shook with the recoil and thunder of our batteries, while the air
above and around us seemed literally filled with shrieking, moaning,
whistling projectiles of almost every size and pattern in present
use. From them came puffs of smoke, sharp cracks, heard above the
general din, as they exploded and showered around us pieces of
jagged iron. When a shell bursts, its fragments strike the ground
obliquely, with a forward movement; therefore our comparative
safety behind our rock, which often shook from the terrific impact
of missiles on its outer side. So many had now sought its shelter
that some extended beyond its protection, and before the cannonade
was over two were killed outright, almost within reach of my arm.
Many of the wounded, in going to the rear, were struck down before
reaching a place of safety. The same was true of the men bringing
ammunition from the caissons in the depression beneath us. Every few
minutes an officer of some rank would be carried by on a stretcher,
with a man or two in attendance. I saw one of these hastily moving
groups prostrated by a shell, and none of them rose again or
struggled. I only tell you of these scenes in compliance with your
wish, Miss Marian, and because I see that you have the spirit of
a soldier. I was told that, in the thickest of the fight, the wife
of a general came on the field in search of her husband, who was
reported wounded. I believe that you could have done the same."

"I don't know," she replied, sadly,--"I don't know, for I never
realized what war was before;" and she looked apprehensively at
Merwyn, fearing to see traces of weakness. His side face, as he sat
in the shadow, was pale indeed, but he was rigid and motionless.
She received the impression that he was bracing himself by the
whole strength of his will to listen through the dreadful story.

Again Mr. Vosburgh suggested that these details were too terrific
for his daughter's nerves, but she interrupted him almost sternly,
saying: "No, papa, I intend to know just what my friends have
passed through. I feel that it is due to them, and, if I cannot
hear quietly, I am not worthy to be their friend. I can listen to
words when Southern girls can listen to bullets. Captain Blauvelt,
you are describing the battle exactly as I asked and wished. My only
fear is that you are going beyond your strength;" and she poured
him out a glass of light wine.

"When you come to hear all I passed through after leaving that
rock, you will know that this story-telling is not worth thinking
about," said Blauvelt, with a slight laugh, "All my exposure was
well worth the risk, for the chance of telling it to a woman of your
nerve. My hope now is that Strahan may some day learn how stanch
was our 'home support,' as we were accustomed to call you. I assure
you that many a man has been inspired to do his best because of
such friendship and sympathy. I am now about to tell you of the
grandest thing I ever saw or expect to see, and shall not abate one
jot of praise because the heroic act was performed by the enemy."



CHAPTER XXXV.

THE GRAND ASSAULT.



"After seeming ages had passed," Blauvelt resumed, having taken a
few moments of rest, "the fire of our artillery slackened and soon
ceased, and that of the rebete also became less rapid and furious.
We saw horses brought up, and some of our batteries going to the
rear at a gallop. Could our guns have been silenced? and was disaster
threatening us? Our anxiety was so great that the two correspondents
and I rushed out and were speedily reassured. There was our infantry,
still in line, and we soon saw that reserve batteries were taking
the place of those withdrawn. We afterward learned that General
Meade and brave General Hunt, Chief of Artillery, had ordered our
guns to be quiet and prepare for the assault which they knew would
follow the cannonade.

"The wind blew from us towards the enemy, and our unbroken lines
were in view. All honor to the steadfast men who had kept their
places through the most awful artillery combat ever known on this
continent. For nearly two mortal hours the infantry had been obliged
to lie still and see men on every side of them torn and mangled to
death; but like a wide blue ribbon, as far as the eye could reach,
there they lay with the sunlight glittering on their polished
muskets. The rebels' fire soon slackened also. We now mounted the
friendly rock, and I was busy with my glass again. As the smoke
lifted, which had covered the enemy's position, I saw that we had
not been the only sufferers. Many of their guns were overturned,
and the ground all along their line was thick with prostrate men.

"But they and their guns were forgotten. Their part in the bloody
drama was to be superseded, and we now witnessed a sight which can
scarcely ever be surpassed. Emerging from the woods on the opposite
ridge, over a mile away, came long lines of infantry. Our position
was to be assaulted. I suppose the cessation of our firing led the
enemy to think that our batteries had been silenced and the infantry
supports driven from the hill. The attacking column was forming
right under our eyes, and we could see other Confederate troops
moving up on the right and left to cover the movement and aid in
carrying it out.

"There was bustle on our side also, in spite of the enemy's
shells, which still fell thickly along our line. New batteries were
thundering up at a gallop; those at the front, which had horses
left, were withdrawn; others remained where they had been shattered
and disabled, fresh pieces taking position beside them. The dead
and wounded were rapidly carried to the rear, and the army stripped
itself, like an athlete, for the final struggle.

"Our batteries again opened with solid shot at the distant Confederate
infantry, but there was only the hesitation on their part incident
to final preparation. Soon on came their centre rapidly, their
flank supports, to right and left, moving after them.  It proved
to be the launching of a human thunderbolt, and I watched its
progress, fascinated and overwhelmed with awe."

"Were you exposed at this time to the enemy's shells?" Marias asked.

"Yes, but their fire was not so severe as it had been, and
my interest in the assault was so absorbing that I could scarcely
think of anything else. I could not help believing that the fate
of our army, perhaps of the country, was to be decided there right
under my eyes, and this by an attack involving such deadly peril
to the participants that I felt comparatively safe.

"The scene during the next half-hour defies description. All ever
witnessed in Roman amphitheatres was child's play in comparison.
The artillery on both sides had resumed its heavy din, the enemy
seeking to distract our attention and render the success of their
assault more probable, and we concentrating our fire on that solid
attacking column. As they approached nearer, our guns were shotted
with shells that made great gaps in their ranks, but they never
faltered. Spaces were closed instantly, and on they still came like
a dark, resistless wave tipped with light, as the sun glinted on
their bayonets through rifts of smoke.

"As they came nearer, our guns in front crumbled and decimated
the leading ranks with grape and canister, while other batteries
farther away to the right and left still plowed red furrows with
shot and shell; but the human torrent, although shrinking and
diminishing, flowed on. I could not imagine a more sublime exhibition
of courage.  Should the South rear to the skies a monument to their
soldiers, it would be insignificant compared with that assaulting
column, projected across the plain of Gettysburg.

"At the foot of the ridge the leaders of this forlorn hope, as
it proved, halted their troops for a moment. As far as the smoke
permitted me to see, it seemed that the supporting Confederate
divisions had not kept pace with the centre. Would the assault be
made? The familiar rebel yell was a speedy answer, as they started
up the acclivity, firing as they came. Now, more vivid than the
sunlight, a sheet of fire flashed out along our line, and the crash
of musketry drowned even the thunder of the cannon.

"The mad impulse of battle was upon me, as upon every one, and I
rushed down nearer our lines to get a better view, also from the
instinctive feeling that that attack must be repulsed, for it aimed
at nothing less than the piercing of the centre of our army. The
front melted away as if composed of phantoms, but other spectral
men took their place, the flashes of their muskets outlining their
position. On, on they came, up to our front line and over it. At
the awful point of impact there was on our side a tall, handsome
brigadier, whose black eyes glowed like coals. How he escaped so
long was one of the mysteries of battle. His voice rang out above
the horrid din as he rallied his men, who were not retreating, but
were simply pushed back by the still unspent impetus of the rebel
charge. I could not resist his appeal, or the example of his
heroism, and, seizing a musket and some cartridges belonging to a
fallen soldier, I was soon in the thick of it. I scarcely know what
happened for the next few moments, so terrible were the excitement
and confusion. Union troops and officers were rushing in on all
sides, without much regard to organization, under the same impulse
which had actuated me. I found myself firing point-blank at the
enemy but a few feet away. I saw a rebel officer waving his hat
upon his sword, and fired at him. Thank Heaven I did not hit him!
for, although he seemed the leading spirit in the charge, I would
not like to think I had killed so brave a man. In spite of all our
efforts, they pushed us back, back past the battery we were trying
to defend. I saw a young officer, not far away, although wounded,
run his gun a little forward with the aid of the two or three men
left on their feet, fire one more shot, and fall dead. Then I was
parrying bayonet thrusts and seeking to give them. One fierce-looking
fellow was making a lunge at me, but in the very act fell over,
pierced by a bullet. A second later the rebel officer, now seen to
be a general, had his hand on a gun and was shouting, 'Victory!'
but the word died on his lips as he fell, for at this moment there
was a rush in our rear. A heavy body of men burst, like a tornado,
through our shattered lines, and met the enemy in a hand-to-hand
conflict.

"I had been nearly run over in this charge, and now regained my
senses somewhat. I saw that the enemy's advance was checked, that
the spot where lay the Confederate general would mark the highest
point attained by the crimson wave of Southern valor, for Union
troops were concentrating in overwhelming numbers. The wound in
my hand had broken out afresh. I hastened to get back out of the
melee, the crush, and the 'sing' of bullets, and soon reached my
old post of observation, exhausted and panting. The correspondents
were still there, and one of them patted me on the shoulder in a way
meant to be encouraging, and offered to put my name in his paper,
an honor which I declined. We soon parted, unknown to each other.
I learned, however, that the name of the gallant brigadier was Webb,
and that he had been wounded. So also was General Hancock at this
point.

"The enemy's repulse was now changed into a rout. Prisoners were
brought in by hundreds, while those retreating across the plain were
followed by death-dealing shot and shell from our lines. As I sat
resting on my rock of observation, I felt that one could not exult
over such a foe, and I was only conscious of profound gratitude over
my own and the army's escape. Certainly if enough men, animated by
the same desperate courage, had taken part in the attack, it would
have been irresistible.

"As soon as I saw that the battle at this point was practically
decided, I started back towards our left with the purpose of finding
my regiment and our surgeon, for my hand had become very painful.
I was so fortunate as to meet with my command as it was being moved
up within a few rods of the main line of the Third Corps, where we
formed a part of the reserve. Joining my little company and seeing
their familiar faces was like coming home. Their welcome, a cup of
coffee, and the redressing of my wound made me over again. I had to
answer many questions from the small group of officers remaining,
for they, kept in the rear all day, had not yet learned much about
the battle or its results.

"While I gladdened their hearts with the tidings of our victory,
our surgeon growled: 'I'll have you put under arrest if you don't
keep quiet. You've been doing more than look on, or your hand would
not be in its present condition.'

"Soon after I fell asleep, with my few and faithful men around me,
and it was nearly midnight when I wakened."

"It's very evident that none of your present audience is inclined
to sleep," Marian exclaimed, with a deep breath.

"And yet it's after midnight," Mr. Vosburgh added. "I fear we are
taxing you, captain, far beyond your strength. Your cheeks, Marian,
are feverish."

"I do not feel weary yet," said the young officer, "if you are
not.  Imagine that I have just waked up from that long nap of which
I have spoken. Miss Marian was such a sympathetic listener that
I dwelt much longer than I intended on scenes which impressed me
powerfully.  I have not yet described my search for Strahan, or
given Mr. Merwyn such hints as my experience affords. Having just
come from the field, I do not see that he could gain much by undue
haste. He can accomplish quite as much by leaving sometime tomorrow.
To be frank, I believe that the only place to find Strahan is
under a rebel guard going South. Our troops may interpose in time
to release him; if not, he will be exchanged before long."

"In a matter of this kind there should be no uncertainty which can
possibly be removed," Merwyn said, in a husky voice. "I shall now
save time by obtaining the information you can give, for I shall
know better how to direct my search. I shall certainly go in the
morning."

"Yes, captain," said Marian, eagerly. "Since you disclaim weariness
we could listen for hours yet. You are a skilful narrator, for,
intensely as your story has interested me, you have reserved its
climax to the last, even though your search led you only among
woful scenes in the hospitals."

"On such scenes I will touch as lightly as possible, and chiefly
for Mr. Merwyn's benefit; for if Strahan had been left on the field,
either killed or wounded, I do not see how he could have escaped
me." Then, with a smile at the young girl, he added: "Since you
credit me with some skill as a story-teller, and since my story is
so long, perhaps it should be divided. In that case what I am now
about to relate should be headed with the words, 'My search for
Strahan.'"



CHAPTER XXXVI.

BLAUVELT'S SEARCH FOR STRAHAN.



"You will remember," said the captain, after a moment's pause,
that he might take up the thread of his narrative consecutively,
"that I awoke a little before midnight. At first I was confused,
but soon all that had happened came back to me. I found myself a
part of a long line of sleeping men that formed the reserve. Not
farther than from here across the street was another line in front
of us. Beyond this were our vigilant pickets, and then the vedettes
of the enemy.  All seemed strangely still and peaceful, but a single
shot would have brought thousands of men to their feet. The moon
poured a soft radiance over all, and gave to the scene a weird
and terrible beauty. The army was like a sleeping giant. Would
its awakening be as terrible as on the last three mornings? Then
I thought of that other army sleeping beyond our lines,--an army
which neither bugle nor the thunder of all our guns could awaken.

"I soon distinguished faint, far-off sounds from the disputed
territory beyond our pickets. Rising, I put my hand to my ear, and
then heard the words, 'Water! water!'

"They were the cries of wounded men entreating for that which would
quench their intolerable thirst. The thought that Strahan might be
among this number stung me to the very quick, and I hastened to the
senior captain, who now commanded the regiment. I found him alert
and watchful, with the bugle at his side, for he felt the weight
of responsibility so suddenly thrust upon him.

"'Captain Markham,' I said, 'do you hear those cries for water?'

"'Yes,' he replied, sadly; 'I have heard them for hours,

"'Among them may be Strahan's voice,' I said, eagerly.

"'Granting it, what could we do? Our pickets are way this side of
the spot where he fell.'

"'Captain,' I cried, 'Strahan was like a brother to me. I can't
rest here with the possibility that he is dying yonder for a little
water. I am relieved from duty, you know. If one of my company will
volunteer to go with me, will you give him your permission? I know
where Strahan fell, and am willing to try to reach him and bring
him in.'

"'No,' said the captain, 'I can't give such permission. You might
be fired on and the whole line aroused. You can go to our old
brigade-commander, however--he now commands the division,--and
see what he says. He's back there under that tree. Of course, you
know, I sympathize with your feeling, but I cannot advise the risk.
Good heavens, Blauvelt! we've lost enough officers already.'

"'I'll be back soon,' I answered.

"To a wakeful aid I told my errand, and he aroused the general,
who was silent after he had been made acquainted with my project.

"'I might bring in some useful information,' I added, hastily.

"The officer knew and liked Strahan, but said: 'I shall have to put
my permission on the ground of a reconnoissance. I should be glad
to know if any changes are taking place on our front, and so would
my superiors. Of course you understand the risk you run when once
beyond our pickets?'

"'Strahan would do as much and more for me,' I replied.

"'Very well;' and he gave me permission to take a volunteer, at
the same time ordering me to report to him on my return.

"I went back to our regimental commander, who growled, 'Well, if
you will go I suppose you will; but it would be a foolhardy thing
for even an unwounded man to attempt.'

"I knew a strong, active young fellow in my company who would
go anywhere with me, and, waking him up, explained my purpose. He
was instantly on the qui vive. I procured him a revolver, and we
started at once. On reaching our pickets we showed our authority
to pass, and were informed that the enemy's vedettes ran along the
ridge on which we had fought the day before. Telling our pickets
to pass the word not to fire on us if we came in on the run, we
stole down into the intervening valley.

"The moon was now momentarily obscured by clouds, and this favored
us. My plan was to reach the woods on which the right of our regiment
had rested. Here the shadows would be deep, and our chances better.
Crouching and creeping silently from bush to bush, we made our
gradual progress until we saw a sentinel slowly pacing back and
forth along the edge of the woods. Most of his beat was in shadow,
and there were bushes and rocks extending almost to it. We watched
him attentively for a time, and then my companion whispered: 'The
Johnny seems half dead with sleep. I believe I can steal up and
capture him without a sound. I don't see how we can get by him as
long as he is sufficiently wide awake to walk.'

"'Very well. You have two hands, and my left is almost useless,'
I said. 'Make your attempt where the shadow is deepest, and if he
sees you, and is about to shoot, see that you shoot first. I'll be
with you instantly if you succeed, and cover your retreat in case
of failure."

"In a moment, revolver in hand, he was gliding, like a shadow, from
cover to cover, and it was his good fortune to steal up behind the
sleepy sentinel, grasp his musket, and whisper, with his pistol
against his head, 'Not a sound, or you are dead.'

"The man was discreet enough to be utterly silent. In a moment
I was by Rush's side--that was the name of the brave fellow who
accompanied me--and found that he had disarmed his prisoner. I
told Rush to take the rebel's musket and walk up and down the beat,
and especially to show himself in the moonlight. I made the Johnny
give me his word not to escape, telling him that he would be shot
instantly if he did. I gave him the impression that others were
watching him. I then tied his hands behind him and fastened him
to a tree in the shade. Feeling that I had not a moment to lose,
I passed rapidly down through the woods bearing to the left. The
place was only too familiar, and even in the moonlight I could
recognize the still forms of some of my own company. I found two
or three of our regiment still alive, and hushed them as I pressed
water to their lips. I then asked if they knew anything about
Strahan. They did not. Hastening on I reached the spot, by a large
boulder, where I had seen Strahan fall. He was not there, or anywhere
near it. I even turned up the faces of corpses in my wish to assure
myself; for our dead officers had been partially stripped. I called
his name softly, then more distinctly, and at last, forgetful in
my distress, loudly.  Then I heard hasty steps, and crouched down
behind a bush, with my hand upon my revolver. But I had been seen.

"A man approached rapidly, and asked, in a gruff voice, 'What the
devil are you doing here?'

"'Looking for a brother who fell hereabouts,' I replied, humbly.

"'You are a--Yankee,' was the harsh reply, 'and a prisoner; I know
your Northern tongue."

"I fired instantly, and wounded him, but not severely, for he fired
in return, and the bullet whizzed by my ear. My next shot brought
him down, and then I started on a dead run for the woods, regained
Rush, and, with our prisoner, we stole swiftly towards our lines.
We were out of sure range before the startled pickets of the enemy
realized what was the matter. A few harmless shots were sent after
us, and then we gained our lines. I am satisfied that the man I shot
was a rebel officer visiting the picket line. Our firing inside
their lines could not be explained until the gap caused by the
missing sentinel we had carried off was discovered.

"Then they knew that 'Yanks,' as they called us, had been within
their lines. Rush, taking the sentinel's place while I was below
the hill, had prevented an untimely discovery of our expedition.
Perhaps it was well that I met the rebel officer, for he was making
directly towards the spot where I had left my companion.

"The poor fellow we had captured was so used up that he could
scarcely keep pace with us. He said he had not had any rest worth
speaking of for forty-eight hours. I passed through our lines, now
alert, and reported at Division Headquarters. The general laughed,
congratulated us, and said he was glad we had not found Strahan among
the dead or seriously wounded, for now there was a good chance of
seeing him again.

"I turned over our prisoner to him, and soon all was quiet again.
Captain Markham, of our regiment, greeted us warmly, but I was
so exhausted that I contented him with a brief outline of what
had occurred, and said I would tell him the rest in the morning.
Satisfied now that Strahan was not crying for water, I was soon
asleep again by the side of Rush, and did not waken till the sun
was well above the horizon.

"I soon learned that the vedettes of the enemy had disappeared from
before our lines, and that our skirmishers were advancing. After a
hasty breakfast I followed them, and soon reached again the ground
I had visited in the night. On the way I met two of our men to whom
I had given water. The other man had meanwhile died. The survivors
told me positively that they had not seen or heard of Strahan after
he had fallen. They also said that they had received a little food
and water from the rebels, or they could not have survived.

"The dead were still unburied, although parties were sent out
within our picket line during the day to perform this sad duty,
and I searched the ground thoroughly for a wide distance, acting
on the possibility that Strahan might have crawled away somewhere.

"I shall not describe the appearance of the field, or speak of my
feelings as I saw the bodies of the brave men and officers of our
regiment who had so long been my companions.

"The rest of my story is soon told. From our surgeon I had positive
assurance that Strahan had not been brought to our corps hospital.
Therefore, I felt driven to one of two conclusions: either he was
in a Confederate hospital on the field beyond our lines, or else
he was a prisoner.

"As usual, the heavy concussion of the artillery produced a rain-storm,
which set in on the afternoon of the 4th, and continued all night.
As the enemy appeared to be intrenching in a strong position, there
seemed no hope of doing any more that day, and I spent the night
in a piece of woods with my men.

"On the dark, dreary morning of the 5th, it was soon discovered
that the Confederate army had disappeared. As the early shades of
the previous stormy evening had settled over the region, its movement
towards Virginia had begun. I became satisfied before night that
Strahan also was southward bound, for, procuring a horse, I rode
all day, visiting the temporary Confederate hospitals. Since they
had left their own severely wounded men, they certainly would not
have taken Union soldiers unable to walk. Not content with my first
search, I spent the next two days in like manner, visiting the
houses in Gettysburg and vicinity, until satisfied that my effort
was useless. Then, availing myself of a brief leave of absence, I
came north."

Blauvelt then gave Merwyn some suggestions, adding: "If you find
no trace of him on the field, I would advise, as your only chance,
that you follow the track of Lee's army, especially the roads on
which their prisoners were taken. Strahan might have given out by
the way, and have been left at some farmhouse or in a village. It
would be hopeless to go beyond the Potomac."

Rising, he concluded: "Mark my words, and see if I am not right.
Strahan is a prisoner, and will be exchanged." Then with a laugh and
a military salute to Marian, he said, "I have finished my report."

"It is accepted with strong commendation and congratulations," she
replied. "I shall recommend you for promotion."

"Good-by, Miss Vosburgh," said Merwyn, gravely. "I shall start in
the morning, and I agree with Captain Blauvelt that my best chance
lies along the line of Lee's retreat."

Again she gave him her hand kindly in farewell; but her thought
was: "How deathly pale he is! This has been a night of horrors
to him,--to me also; yet if I were a man I know I could meet what
other men face."

"She was kind," Merwyn said to himself, as he walked through the
deserted streets; "but I fear it was only the kindness of pitiful
toleration. It is plainer than ever that she adores heroic action,
that her ardor in behalf of the North is scarcely less than that of
my mother for the South, and yet she thinks I am not brave enough
to face a musket What a figure I make beside the men of whom we
have heard to-night! Well, to get away, to be constantly employed,
is my only hope. I believe I should become insane if I brooded much
longer at home."

In spite of his late hours, he ordered an early breakfast, proposing
to start without further delay.

The next morning, as he sat down to the table, the doorbell rang,
there was a hasty step down the hall, and Strahan, pale and gaunt,
with his arm in a sling, burst in upon him, and exclaimed, with
his old sang froid and humor: "Just in time. Yes, thanks; I'll stay
and take a cup of coffee with you."

Merwyn greeted him with mingled wonder and gladness, yet even at
that moment the thought occurred to him: "Thwarted on every side!
I can do absolutely nothing."

After Strahan was seated Merwyn said: "Half an hour later I should
have been off to Gettysburg in search of you. Blauvelt is here, and
says he saw you fall, and since a blank, so far as you are concerned."

"Thank God! He escaped then?"

"Yes; but is wounded slightly. What is the matter with your arm?"

"Only a bullet-hole through it. That's nothing for Gettysburg.
I was captured, and escaped on the first night's march. Dark and
stormy, you know. But it's a long story, and I'm hungry as a wolf.
Where's Blauvelt?"

"He's a guest at Mr. Vosburgh's."

"Lucky fellow!" exclaimed Strahan; and for some reason the edge of
his appetite was gone.

"Yes, he IS a lucky fellow, indeed; and so are you," said Merwyn,
bitterly. "I was there last evening till after midnight;" and
he explained what had occurred, adding, "Blauvelt trumpeted your
praise, and on the night of the 3d he went inside the enemy's picket
line in search of you, at the risk of his life.'

"Heaven bless the fellow! Wait till I spin my yarn. I shall give
him credit for the whole victory."

"Write a note to Miss Vosburgh, and I'll send it right down."

"Confound it, Merwyn! don't you see I'm winged? You will even have
to cut my food for me as if I were a baby."

"Very well, you dictate and I'll write. By the way, I have a note
for you in my pocket."

Strahan seized upon it and forgot his breakfast. Tears suffused
his blue eyes before he finished it, and at last he said, "Well,
if you HAD found me in some hospital this would have cured me, or
else made death easy."

Merwyn's heart grew heavy, in spite of the fact that he had told
himself so often that there was no hope for him, and he thought,
"In the terrible uncertainty of Strahan's fate she found that he
was more to her than she had supposed, and probably revealed as
much in her note, which she feared might reach him only when death
was sure."

The glad intelligence was despatched, and then Merwyn said: "After
you have breakfasted I will send you down in my coupe."

"You will go with me?"

"No. There is no reason why I should be present when Miss Vosburgh
greets her friends. I remained last night by request, that I might
be better informed in prosecuting my search."

Strahan changed the subject, but thought: "She's loyal to her friends.
Merwyn, with all his money, has made no progress. Her choice will
eventually fall on Lane, Blauvelt, or poor little me.  Thank Heaven
I gave the Johnnies the slip! The other fellows shall have a fair
field, but I want one, too."

Before they had finished their breakfast Blauvelt came tearing in,
and there was a fire of questions between the brother-officers.

Tears and laughter mingled with their words; but at last they
became grave and quiet as they realized how many brave comrades
would march with them no more.

In a few moments Blauvelt said, "Come; Miss Marian said she would
not take a mouthful of breakfast till you returned with me."

Merwyn saw them drive away, and said, bitterly, "Thanks to my
mother, I shall never have any part in such greetings."



CHAPTER XXXVII.

STRAHAN'S ESCAPE.



AFTER Blauvelt had left Mr. Vosburgh's breakfast-table in obedience
to his own and Marian's wish to see Strahan at once, the young girl
laughed outright--she would laugh easily to-day--and exclaimed:--

"Poor Mr. Merwyn! He is indeed doomed to inglorious inaction. Before
he could even start on his search, Strahan found him. His part in
this iron age will consist only in furnishing the sinews of war
and dispensing canned delicacies in the hospitals. I do feel sorry
for him, for last night he seemed to realize the fact himself. He
looked like a ghost, back in the shadow that he sought when Captain
Blauvelt's story grew tragic. I believe he suffered more in hearing
about the shells than Mr. Blauvelt did in hearing and seeing them."

"It's a curious case," said her father, musingly. "He was and has
been suffering deeply from some cause. I have not fully accepted
your theory yet."

"Since even your sagacity can construct no other, I am satisfied
that I am right. But I have done scoffing at Mr. Merwyn, and should
feel as guilty in doing so as if I had shown contempt for physical
deformity. I have become so convinced that he suffers terribly from
consciousness of his weakness, that I now pity him from the depths
of my heart. Just think of a young fellow of his intelligence
listening to such a story as we heard last night and of the inevitable
contrasts that he must have drawn!"

"Fancy also," said her father, smiling, "a forlorn lover seeing
your cheeks aflame and your eyes suffused with tears of sympathy
for young heroes, one of whom was reciting his epic. Strahan is
soon to repeat his; then Lane will appear and surpass them all."

"Well," cried Marian, laughing, "you'll admit they form a trio to
be proud of."

"Oh, yes, and will have to admit more, I suppose, before long.
Girls never fall in love with trios."

"Nonsense, papa, they are all just like brothers to me." Then there
was a rush of tears to her eyes, and she said, brokenly, "The war
is not over yet, and perhaps not one of them will survive."

"Come, my dear," her father reassured her, gently, "you must imitate
your soldier friends, and take each day as it comes. Remembering
what they have already passed through, I predict that they all
survive. The bravest men are the most apt to escape."

Marian's greeting of Strahan was so full of feeling, and so many
tears suffused her dark blue eyes, that they inspired false hopes
in his breast and unwarranted fears in that of Blauvelt. The heroic
action and tragic experience of the young and boyish Strahan had
touched the tenderest chords in her heart. Indeed, as she stood,
holding his left hand in both her own, they might easily have
been taken for brother and sister. His eyes were almost as blue as
hers, and his brow, where it had not been exposed to the weather,
as fair.  She knew of his victory over himself. Almost at the same
time with herself, he had cast behind him a weak, selfish, frivolous
life, assuming a manhood which she understood better than others.
Therefore, she had for him a tenderness, a gentleness of regard,
which her other friends of sterner natures could not inspire.  Indeed,
so sisterly was her feeling that she could have put her arms about
his neck and welcomed him with kisses, without one quickening throb
of the pulse. But he did not know this then, and his heart bounded
with baseless hopes.

Poor Blauvelt had never cherished many, and the old career with
which he had tried to be content defined itself anew. He would
fight out the war, and then give himself up to his art.

He could be induced to stay only long enough to finish his breakfast,
and then said: "Strahan can tell me the rest of his story over
the camp-fire before long. My mother has now the first claim, and
I must take a morning train in order to reach home to-night."

"I also must go," exclaimed Mr. Vosburgh, looking at his watch,
"and shall have to hear your story at second hand from Marian. Rest
assured," he added, laughing, "it will lose nothing as she tells
it this evening."

"And I order you, Captain Blauvelt, to make this house your
headquarters when you are in town," said Marian, giving his hand
a warm pressure in parting. Strahan accompanied his friend to the
depot, then sought his family physician and had his wound dressed.

"I advise that you reach your country home soon," said the doctor;
"your pulse is feverish."

The young officer laughed and thought he knew the reason better
than his medical adviser, and was soon at the side of her whom he
believed to be the exciting cause of his febrile symptoms.

"Oh," he exclaimed, throwing himself on a lounge, "isn't this
infinitely better than a stifling Southern prison?" and he looked
around the cool, shadowy drawing-room, and then at the smiling face
of his fair hostess, as if there were nothing left to be desired.

"You have honestly earned this respite and home visit," she said,
taking a low chair beside him, "and now I'm just as eager to hear
your story as I was to listen to that of Captain Blauvelt, last
night."

"No more eager?" he asked, looking wistfully into her face.

"That would not be fair," she replied, gently. "How can I distinguish
between my friends, when each one surpasses even my ideal of manly
action?"

"You will some day," he said, thoughtfully. "You cannot help doing
so. It is the law of nature. I know I can never be the equal of
Lane and Blauvelt."

"Arthur," she said, gravely, taking his hand, "let me be frank with
you. It will be best for us both. I love you too dearly, I admire
and respect you too greatly, to be untrue to your best interests
even for a moment. What's more, I am absolutely sure that you only
wish what is right and best for me. Look into my eyes. Do you not
see that if your name was Arthur Vosburgh, I could scarcely feel
differently? I do love you more than either Mr. Lane or Mr.  Blauvelt.
They are my friends in the truest and strongest sense of the word,
but--let me tell you the truth--you have come to seem like a younger
brother. We must be about the same age, but a woman is always older
in her feelings than a man, I think. I don't say this to claim any
superiority, but to explain why I feel as I do. Since I came to
know--to understand you--indeed, I may say, since we both changed
from what we were, my thoughts have followed you in a way that
they would a brother but a year or two younger than myself,--that
is, so far as I can judge, having had no brother.  Don't you
understand me?"

"Yes," he replied, laughing a little ruefully, "up to date."

"Very well," she added, with an answering laugh, "let it be then
to date. I shall not tell you that I feel like a sister without
being as frank as one. I have never loved any one in the way--Oh,
well, you know. I don't believe these stern times are conducive to
sentiment. Come, tell me your story."

"But you'll give me an equal chance with the others," he pleaded.

She now laughed outright. "How do I know what I shall do?" she
asked. "I may come to you some day for sympathy and help. According
to the novels, people are stricken down as if by one of your hateful
shells and all broken up. I don't know, but I'm inclined to believe
that while a girl can withhold her love from an unworthy object,
she cannot deliberately give it here or there as she chooses. Now
am I not talking to you like a sister?"

"Yes, too much so--"

"Oh, come, I have favored you more highly than any one."

"Do not misunderstand me," he said, earnestly, "I'm more grateful
than I can tell you, but--"

"But tell me your story. There is one thing I can give you at
once,--the closest attention."

"Very well. I only wish you were like one of the enemy's batteries,
so I could take you by storm. I'd face all the guns that were at
Gettysburg for the chance."

"Arthur, dear Arthur, I do know what you have faced from a simple
sense of duty and patriotism. Blauvelt was a loyal, generous friend,
and he has told us."

"You are wrong. 'The girl I left behind me' was the corps-de-reserve
from which I drew my strength. I believe the same was true of
Blauvelt, and a better, braver fellow never drew breath. He would
make a better officer than I, for he is cooler and has more brains."

"Now see here, Major Strahan," cried Marian, in mock dignity,
"as your superior officer, I am capable of judging of the merits
of you both, and neither of you can change my estimate. You are
insubordinate, and I shall put you under arrest if you don't tell
me how you escaped at once. You have kept a woman's curiosity in
check almost as long as your brave regiment held the enemy, and
that's your greatest achievement thus far. Proceed. Captain Blauvelt
has enabled me to keep an eye on you till you fell and the enemy
charged over you. Now you know just where to begin."

"My prosaic story is soon told. Swords and pike-staffs! what a
little martinet you are! Well, the enemy was almost on me. I could
see their flushed, savage faces. Even in that moment I thought of
you and whispered, 'Good-by,' and a prayer to God for your happiness
flashed through my mind."

"Arthur, don't talk that way. I can't stand it;" and there was a
rush of tears to her eyes.

"I'm beginning just where you told me to. The next second there
was a sting in my right arm, then something knocked me over and I
lost consciousness for a few moments. I am satisfied, also, that
I was grazed by a bullet that tore my scabbard from my side. When
I came to my senses, I crawled behind a rock so as not to be shot
by our own men, and threw away my sword. I didn't want to surrender
it, you know. Soon after a rebel jerked me to my feet.

"'Can you stand?' he asked.

"'I will try,' I answered.

"'Join that squad of prisoners, then, and travel right smart.'

"I staggered away, too dazed for many clear ideas, and with others
was hurried about half a mile away to a place filled with the rebel
wounded. Here a Union soldier, who happened to have some bandages
with him, dressed my arm. The Confederate surgeons had more than
they could do to look after their own men. Just before dark all
the prisoners who were able to walk were led into a large field,
and a strong guard was placed around us.

"Although my wound was painful, I obtained some sleep, and awoke
the next morning with the glad consciousness that life with its
chances was still mine. We had little enough to eat that day, and
insufficient water to drink. This foretaste of the rebel commissariat
was enough for me, and I resolved to escape if it were a possible
thing."

"You wanted to see me a little, too, didn't you? Nevertheless, you
shall have a good lunch before long."

"Such is my fate. First rebel iron and now irony. I began to play
the role of feebleness and exhaustion, and it did not require much
effort. Of course we were all on the qui vive to see what would
happen next, and took an intense interest in the fight of the 3d,
which Blauvelt has described. The scene of the battle was hidden
from us, but we gathered, from the expression of our guards' faces
and the confusion around us, that all had not gone to the enemy's
mind, and so were hopeful. In the evening we were marched to the
outskirts of Gettysburg and kept there till the afternoon of the
4th, when we started towards Virginia. I hung back and dragged myself
along, and so was fortunately placed near the rear of the column,
and we plodded away. I thanked Heaven that the night promised to
be dark and stormy, and was as vigilant as an Indian, looking for
my chance. It seemed long in coming, for at first the guards were
very watchful. At one point I purposely stumbled and fell, hoping
to crawl into the bushes, but a rebel was right on me and helped
me up with his bayonet."

"O Arthur!"

"Yes, the risks were great, for we had been told that the first man
who attempted to leave the line would be shot. I lagged behind as
if I could not keep up, and so my vigilant guard got ahead of me,
and I proposed to try it on with the next fellow. I did not dare
look around, for my only chance was to give the impression that I
fell from utter exhaustion. We were winding around a mountain-side
and I saw some dark bushes just beyond me. I staggered towards them
and fell just beside them, and lay as if I were dead.

"A minute passed, then another, and then there was no other sound
than the tramp and splash in the muddy road. I edged still farther
and farther from this, my head down the steep bank, and soon found
myself completely hidden. The comrade next to me either would not
tell if he understood my ruse, or else was so weary that he had
not noticed me. If the guard saw me, he concluded that I was done
for and not worth further bother.

"After the column had passed, I listened to hear if others were
coming, then stumbled down the mountain, knowing that my best
chance was to strike some stream and follow the current. It would
take me into a valley where I would be apt to find houses. At last
I became so weary that I lay down in a dense thicket and slept till
morning.  I awoke as hungry as a famished wolf, and saw nothing
but a dense forest on every side. But the brook murmured that it
would guide me, and I now made much better progress in the daylight.
At last I reached a little clearing and a wood-chopper's cottage.
The man was away, but his wife received me kindly and said I was
welcome to such poor fare and shelter as they had. She gave me
a glass of milk and some fried bacon and corn-bread, and I then
learned all about the nectar and ambrosia of the gods. In the
evening her husband came home and said that Lee had been whipped
by the Yanks, and that he was retreating rapidly, whereon I drank
to the health of my host nearly all the milk given that night by
his lean little cow. He was a good-natured, loutish sort of fellow,
and promised to guide me in a day or two to the west of the line
of retreat. He seemed very tearful of falling in with the rebels,
and I certainly had seen all I wished of them for the present, so
I was as patient as he desired.  At last he kept his word and guided
me to a village about six miles away. I learned that Confederate
cavalry had been there within twenty-four hours, and, tired as I
was, I hired a conveyance and was driven to another village farther
to the northwest, for I now had a morbid horror of being recaptured.
After a night's rest in a small hamlet, I was taken in a light wagon
to the nearest railway station, and came on directly, arriving here
about six this morning. Finding our house closed, I made a descent
on Merwyn. I telegraphed mother last evening that I should be home
this afternoon."

"You should have telegraphed me, also," said Marian, reproachfully.
"You would have saved me some very sad hours. I did not sleep much
last night."

"Forgive me. I thoughtlessly wished to give you a surprise, and I
could scarcely believe you cared so much."

"You will always believe it now, Arthur. Merciful Heaven! what
risks you have had!"

"You have repaid me a thousand-fold. Friend, sister, or wife, you
will always be to me my good genius."

"I wish the war was over," she said, sadly. "I have not heard from
Captain Lane for weeks, and after the battle the first tidings
from Blauvelt was that he was wounded and that you were wounded
and missing. I can't tell you how oppressed I was with fear and
foreboding."

"How about Lane?" Strahan asked, with interest.

She told him briefly the story she had heard and of the silence
which had followed.

"He leads us all," was his response. "If he survives the war, he
will win you, Marian."

"You suggest a terrible 'if' and there may be many others. I admit
that he has kindled my imagination more than any man I ever saw, but
you, Arthur, have touched my heart. I could not speak to him, had
he returned, as I am now speaking to you. I have the odd feeling
that you and I are too near of kin to be anything to each other
except just what we are. You are so frank and true to me, that I
can't endure the thought of misleading you, even unintentionally."

"Very well, I'll grow up some day, and as long as you remain free,
I'll not give up hope."

"Foolish boy! Grow up, indeed! Who mounted his horse in that storm
of shells and bullets in spite of friendly remonstrances, and said,
'The men must see us to-day'? What more could any man do? I'm just
as proud of you as if my own brother had spoken the words;" and
she took his hand caressingly, then exclaimed, "You are feverish."

A second later her hand was on his brow, and she sprung up and
said, earnestly, "You should have attention at once."

"I fancy the doctor was right after all," said Strahan, rising
also.  "I'll take the one o'clock train and be at home in a couple
of hours."

"I wish you would stay. You can't imagine what a devoted nurse I'll
be."

"Please don't tempt me. It wouldn't be best. Mamma is counting the
minutes before my return now, and it will please her if I come on
an earlier train. Mountain air and rest will soon bring me around,
and I can run down often. I think the fever proceeds simply from
my wound, which hasn't had the best care. I don't feel seriously
ill at all."

She ordered iced lemonade at once, lunch was hastened, and then
she permitted him to depart, with the promise that he would write
a line that very night.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

A LITTLE REBEL.



THE next day Marian received a note from Strahan saying that some
bad symptoms had developed in connection with his wound, but that
his physician had assured him that if he would keep absolutely quiet
in body and mind for a week or two they would pass away, concluding
with the words: "I have promised mother to obey orders, and she
has said that she would write you from time to time about me. I do
not think I shall be very ill."

"O dear!" exclaimed Marian to her father at dinner, "what times these
are! You barely escape one cause of deep anxiety before there is
another. Now what is troubling you, that your brow also is clouded?"

"Is it not enough that your troubles trouble me?"

"There's something else, papa."

"Well, nothing definite. The draft, you know, begins on Saturday
of this week. I shall not have any rest of mind till this ordeal is
over. Outwardly all is comparatively quiet. So is a powder magazine
till a spark ignites it. This unpopular measure of the draft is to
be enforced while all our militia regiments are away. I know enough
about what is said and thought by thousands to fear the consequences.
I wish you would spend a couple of weeks with your mother in that
quiet New-England village."

"No, papa, not till you tell me that all danger is past. How much
I should have missed during the past few days if I had been away!
But for my feeling that my first duty is to you, I should have
entreated for your permission to become a hospital nurse. Papa,
women should make sacrifices and take risks in these times as well
as men."

"Well, a few more days will tell the story. If the draft passes
off quietly and our regiments return, I shall breathe freely once
more."

A letter was brought in, and she exclaimed, "Captain Lane's
handwriting!" She tore open the envelope and learned little more
at that time than that he had escaped, reached our lines, and gone
to Washington, where he was under the care of a skilful surgeon.
"In escaping, my wound broke out again, but I shall soon be able
to travel, and therefore to see you."

In order to account for Lane's absence and silence we must take
up the thread of his story where Zeb had dropped it. The cavalry
force of which Captain Lane formed a part retired, taking with it
the prisoners and such of the wounded as could bear transportation;
also the captured thief. Lane was prevented by his wound from
carrying out his threat, which his position as chief officer of
an independent command would have entitled him to do. The tides of
war swept away to the north, and he was left with the more seriously
wounded of both parties in charge of the assistant surgeon of his
regiment. As the shades of evening fell, the place that had resounded
with war's loud alarms, and had been the scene of so much bustle and
confusion, resumed much of its old aspect of quiet and seclusion. The
marks of conflict, the evidence of changes, and the new conditions
under which the family would be obliged to live, were only too
apparent. The grass on the lawn was trampled down, and there were
new-made graves in the edge of the grove. Fences were prostrate,
and partly burned. Horses and live stock had disappeared.  The
negro quarters were nearly empty, the majority of the slaves having
followed the Union column. Confederate officers, who were welcome,
honored guests but a few hours before, were on their way to
Washington as prisoners. Desperately wounded and dying men were
in the out-buildings, and a Union officer, the one who had led the
attacking party and precipitated these events, had begun his long
fight for life in the mansion itself,--a strange and unexpected
guest.

Mrs. Barkdale, the mistress of the house, could scarcely rally from
her nervous shock or maintain her courage, in view of the havoc made
by the iron heel of war. Miss Roberta's heart was full of bitterness
and impotent revolt. She had the courage and spirit of her race,
but she could not endure defeat, and she chafed in seclusion and
anger while her mother moaned and wept. Miss Suwanee now became
the leading spirit.

"We can't help what's happened, and I don't propose to sit down
and wring my hands or pace my room in useless anger. We were all
for war, and now we know what war means. If I were a man I'd fight;
being only a woman, I shall do what I can to retrieve our losses
and make the most of what's left. After all, we have not suffered
half so much as hundreds of other families. General Lee will soon
give the Northerners some of their own medicine, and before the
summer is over will conquer a peace, and then we shall be proud of
our share in the sacrifices which so many of our people have made."

"I wouldn't mind any sacrifice,--no, not of our home itself,--if
we had won the victory," Roberta replied. "But to have been made
the instrument of our friends' defeat! It's too cruel. And then
to think that the man who wrought all this destruction, loss, and
disgrace is under this very roof, and must stay for weeks, perhaps!"

"Roberta, you are unjust," cried Suwanee. "Captain Lane proved
himself to be a gallant, considerate enemy, and you know it. What
would you have him do? Play into our hands and compass his own
defeat? He only did what our officers would have done. The fact
that a Northern officer could be so brave and considerate was a
revelation to me. We and all our property were in his power, and
his course was full of courtesy toward all except the armed foes
who were seeking to destroy him. The moment that even these became
unarmed prisoners he treated them with great leniency. Because we
had agreed to regard Northerners as cowards and boors evidently
doesn't make them so."

"You seem wonderfully taken with this Captain Lane."

"No," cried the girl, with one of her irresistible laughs; "but our
officer friends would have been taken with him if he had not been
wounded. I'm a genuine Southern girl, so much so that I appreciate
a brave foe and true gentleman. He protected us and our home as
far as he could, and he shall have the best hospitality which this
home can now afford. Am I not right, mamma?"

"Yes, my dear, even our self-respect would not permit us to adopt
any other course."

"You will feel as I do, Roberta, after your natural grief and anger
pass;" and she left the room to see that their wounded guest had
as good a supper as she could produce from diminished resources.

The surgeon, whom she met in the hall, told her that his patient was
feverish and a "little flighty" at times, but that he had expected
this, adding: "The comfort of his room and good food will bring him
around in time. He will owe his life chiefly to your hospitality,
Miss Barkdale, for a little thing would have turned the scale against
him. Chicken broth is all that I wish him to have to-night, thanks."

And so the process of care and nursing began. The Union colonel
had left a good supply of coffee, sugar, and coarse rations for
the wounded men, and Suwanee did her best to supplement these,
accomplishing even more by her kindness, cheerfulness, and winsome
ways than by any other means. She became, in many respects, a
hospital nurse, and visited the wounded men, carrying delicacies
to all alike. She wrote letters for the Confederates and read
the Bible to those willing to listen. Soon all were willing, and
blessed her sweet, sunny face. The wounds of some were incurable,
and, although her lovely face grew pale indeed in the presence of
death, she soothed their last moments with the gentlest ministrations.
There was not a man of the survivors, Union or rebel, but would
have shed his last drop of blood for her. Roberta shared in these
tasks, but it was not in her nature to be so impartial. Even among
her own people she was less popular. Among the soldiers, on both
sides, who did the actual fighting, there was not half the bitterness
that existed generally among non-combatants and those Southern
men who never met the enemy in fair battle; and now there was
a good-natured truce between the brave Confederates and those who
had perhaps wounded them, while all fought a battle with the common
foe,--death.  Therefore the haggard faces of all lighted up with
unfeigned pleasure when "Missy S'wanee," as they had learned from
the negroes to call her, appeared among them.

But few slaves were left on the place, and these were old and feeble
ones who had not ventured upon the unknown waters of freedom. The
old cook remained at her post, and an old man and woman divided
their time between the house and the garden, Suwanee's light feet
and quick hands relieving them of the easier labors of the mansion.

Surgeon McAllister was loud in his praises of her general goodness
and her courtesy at the table, to which he was admitted; and Lane,
already predisposed toward a favorable opinion, entertained for her
the deepest respect and gratitude, inspired more by her kindness
to his men than by favors to himself. Yet these were not few, for
she often prepared delicacies with her own hands and brought them
to his door, while nearly every morning she arranged flowers and
sent them to his table.

Thus a week passed away. The little gathering of prostrate men,
left in war's trail, was apparently forgotten except as people from
the surrounding region came to gratify their curiosity.

Lane's feverish symptoms had passed away, but he was exceedingly
weak, and the wound in his shoulder was of a nature to require
almost absolute quiet. One evening, after the surgeon had told him
of Suwanee's ministrations beside a dying Union soldier, he said,
"I must see her and tell her of my gratitude."

On receiving his message she hesitated a single instant, then
came to his bedside. The rays of the setting sun illumined her
reddish-brown hair as she stood before him, and enhanced her beauty
in her simple muslin dress. Her expression towards him, her enemy,
was gentle and sympathetic.

He looked at her a moment in silence, almost as if she were a vision,
then began, slowly and gravely: "Miss Barkdale, what can I say to
you? I'm not strong enough to say very much, yet I could not rest
till you knew. The surgeon here has told me all,--no, not all.  Deeds
like yours can be told adequately only in heaven. You are fanning
the spark of life in my own breast. I doubt whether I should have
lived but for your kindness. Still more to me has been your kindness
to my men, the poor fellows that are too often neglected, even
by their friends. You have been like a good angel to them.  These
flowers, fragrant and beautiful, interpret you to me. You can't
know what reverence--"

"Please stop, Captain Lane," said Suwanee, beginning to laugh, while
tears stood in her eyes. "Why, I'm only acting as any good-hearted
Southern girl would act. I shall not permit you to think me a saint
when I am not one. I've a little temper of my own, which isn't
always sweet. I like attention and don't mind how many bestow it--in
brief, I am just like other girls, only more so, and if I became
what you say I shouldn't know myself. Now you must not talk any
more. You are still a little out of your head. You can only answer
one question. Is there anything you would like,--anything we can
do for you to help you get well?"

"No; I should be overwhelmed with gratitude if you did anything
more. I am grieved enough now when I think of all the trouble and
loss we have caused you."

"Oh, that's the fortune of war," she said, with a light, deprecatory
gesture. "You couldn't help it any more than we could."

"You are a generous enemy, Miss Barkdale."

"I'm no wounded man's enemy, at least not till he is almost well.
Were I one of my brothers, however, and you were on your horse again
with your old vigor--" and she gave him a little, significant nod.

He now laughed responsively, and said, "I like that." Then he added,
gravely: "Heaven grant I may never meet one of your brothers in
battle. I could not knowingly harm him."

"Thank you for saying that," she said, gently. "Now, tell me truly,
isn't there anything you wish?"

"Yes, I wish to get better, so that I may have a little of your
society. These days of inaction are so interminably long, and you
know I've been leading a very active life."

"I fear you wouldn't enjoy the society of such a hot little rebel
as I am."

"We should differ, of course, on some things, but that would
only give zest to your words. I'm not so stupid and prejudiced,
Miss Barkdale, as to fail to see that you are just as sincere and
patriotic as I am. I have envied the enlisted men when I have heard
of your attentions to them."

"Now," she resumed, laughing, "I've found out that the 'good angel'
is not treating you as well as the common soldiers. Men always let
out the truth sooner or later. If Surgeon McAllister will permit,
I'll read and talk to you also."

"I not only give my permission," said the surgeon, "but also assure
you that such kindness will hasten the captain's recovery, for time
hangs so heavily on his hands that he chafes and worries."

"Very well," with a sprightly nod at the surgeon, "since we've
undertaken to cure the captain, the most sensible thing for us to
do IS to cure him. You shall prescribe when and how the doses of
society are to be administered." Then to Lane, "Not another word;
good-night;" and in a moment she was gone.

Suwanee never forgot that interview, for it was the beginning
of a new and strange experience to her. From the first, her high,
chivalric spirit had been compelled to admire her enemy. The unknown
manner in which he had foiled her sister's strategy showed that
his mind was equal to his courage, while his hot indignation, when
he found them threatened by a midnight marauder, had revealed his
nature. Circumstances had swiftly disarmed her prejudices, and her
warm heart had been full of sympathy for him as he lay close to
the borders of death. All these things tended to throw down the
barriers which would naturally interpose between herself and a
Northern man.  When, therefore, out of a full heart, he revealed
his gratitude and homage, she had no shield against the force of
his words and manner, and was deeply touched. She had often received
gallantry, admiration, and even words of love, but never before had
a man looked and acted as if he reverenced her and the womanhood
she represented. It was not a compliment that had been bestowed,
but a recognition of what she herself had not suspected. By her
family or acquaintances she had never been thought or spoken of as
an especially good girl. Hoydenish in early girlhood, leading the
young Southern gallants a chase in later years, ever full of frolic
and mischief, as fond of the dance as a bird of flying, she was
liked by every one, but the graver members of the community were
accustomed to shake their heads and remark, "She is a case; perhaps
she'll sober down some day." She had hailed the war with enthusiasm,
knowing little of its meaning, and sharing abundantly in rural
Virginia's contempt for the North. She had proved even a better
recruiting officer than her stately sister, and no young fellow
dared to approach her until he had donned the gray. When the war
came she met it with her own laughing philosophy and unconquerable
buoyancy, going wild over Southern victories and shrugging her plump
shoulders over defeats, crying: "Better luck next time. The Yankees
probably had a hundred to one. It won't take long for Southerners
to teach Northern abolitionists the difference between us." But
now she had seen Northern soldiers in conflict, had witnessed the
utmost degree of bravery on her side, but had seen it confronted
by equal courage, inspired by a leader who appeared irresistible.

This Northern officer, whose eyes had flashed like his sabre in
battle, whose wit had penetrated and used for his own purpose the
scheme of the enemy, and whose chivalric treatment of women plotting
against him had been knightly,--this man who had won her respect by
storm, as it were, had followed her simple, natural course during
the past week, and had metaphorically bowed his knee to her in
homage. What did it mean? What had she done? Only made the best of
things, and shown a little humanity toward some poor fellows whose
sufferings ought to soften hearts of flint.

Thus the girl reasoned and wondered. She did not belong to that
class who keep an inventory of all their good traits and rate them
high. Moulded in character by surrounding influences and circumstances,
her natural, unperverted womanhood and her simple faith in God
found unconscious expression in the sweet and gracious acts which
Lane had recognized at their true worth. The most exquisite music
is but a little sound; the loveliest and most fragrant flower is
but organized matter. True, she had been engaged in homely
acts,--blessing her enemies as the Bible commanded and her
woman's heart dictated,--but how were those acts performed? In her
unaffected manner and spirit consisted the charm which won the rough
men's adoration and Lane's homage. That which is simple, sincere,
spontaneous, ever attains results beyond all art and calculation.

"Missy S'wanee" couldn't understand it. She had always thought
of herself as "that child,", that hoyden, that frivolous girl
who couldn't help giggling even at a funeral, and now here comes
a Northern man, defeats and captures her most ardent admirer, and
bows down to her as if she were a saint!

"I wish I were what he thinks me to be," she laughed to herself.
"What kind of girls have they in the North, anyway, that he goes
on so? I declare, I've half a mind to try to be good, just for the
novelty of the thing. But what's the use? It wouldn't last with me
till the dew was off the grass in the morning.

"Heigho! I suppose Major Denham is thinking of me and pining in
prison, and I haven't thought so very much about him. That shows
what kind of an 'angel' I am. Now if there were only a chance of
getting him out by tricking his jailers and pulling the wool over
the eyes of some pompous old official, I'd take as great a risk as
any Southern--'Reverence,' indeed! Captain Lane must be cured of
his reverence, whatever becomes of his wound."



CHAPTER XXXIX.

THE CURE OF CAPTAIN LANE.



A DAINTIER bouquet than usual was placed on Lane's table next morning,
and the piece of chicken sent to his breakfast was broiled to the
nicest turn of brown. The old colored cook was friendly to the
"Linkum ossifer," and soon discovered that "Missy S'wanee" was not
averse to a little extra painstaking.

After the surgeon had made his morning rounds the young girl
visited the men also. She found them doing well, and left them doing
better; for, in rallying the wounded, good cheer and hopefulness
can scarcely be over-estimated.

As she was returning the surgeon met her, and said, "Captain Lane
is already better for your first visit and impatient for another."

"Then he's both patient and impatient. A very contradictory and
improper condition to remain in. I can read to him at once, after
I have seen if mamma wishes anything."

"Please do; and with your permission I'll take a little walk, for
I, too, am restless from inaction."

"I don't think it's nice for you to read alone with that officer,"
said Roberta.

"I see no impropriety at all," cried Suwanee. "Yours and mamma's
rooms are but a few yards away, and you can listen to all we say
if you wish. If your colonel was sick and wounded at the North
wouldn't you like some woman to cheer him up?"

"No, not if she were as pretty as you are," replied Roberta,
laughing.

"Nonsense," said Suwanee, flushing. "For all I know this captain
is married and at the head of a large family.

"But I'm going to find out," she assured herself. "I shall investigate
this new species of genus homo who imagines me to be a saint. He
wasn't long in proving that Northern men were not what I supposed.
Now I shall give him the harder task of proving me to be an angel;"
and she walked demurely in, leaving the door open for any espionage
that her mother and sister might deem proper.

Lane's face lighted up the moment he saw her, and he said: "You
have robbed this day of its weariness already. I've had agreeable
anticipations thus far, and I'm sure you will again leave pleasant
memories."

"Then you are better?"

"Yes; thanks to you."

"You are given to compliments, as our Southern men are."

"I should be glad to equal them at anything in your estimation. But
come, such honest enemies as we are should be as sincere as friends.
I have meant every word I have said to you. You are harboring me,
an entire stranger, who presented my credentials at first very
rudely.  Now you can ask me any questions you choose. You have
proved yourself to be such a genuine lady that I should be glad to
have you think that I am a gentleman by birth and breeding."

"Oh, I was convinced of that before you put your sabre in its
scabbard on the evening of your most unwelcome arrival, when you
spoiled our supper-party. You have since been confirming first
impressions. I must admit, however, that I scarcely 'reverence'
you yet, nor have I detected anything specially 'angelic.'"

"Your failure in these respects will be the least of my troubles.
I do not take back what I have said, however."

"Wait; perhaps you will. You are very slightly acquainted with me,
sir."

"You are much less so with me, and can't imagine what an obstinate
fellow I am."

"Oh, if I have to contend with obstinacy rather than judgment--"

"Please let us have no contentions whatever. I have often found
that your Southern men out-matched me, and not for the world would
I have a dispute with a woman of your mettle. I give you my parole
to do all that you wish, as far as it is within my power, while I
am helpless on your hands."

"And when I have helped to make you well you will go and fight
against the South again?"

"Yes, Miss Barkdale," gravely, "and so would your officers against
the North."

"Oh, I know it. I sha'n't put any poison in your coffee."

"Nor will you ever put poison in any man's life. The most delightful
thing about you, Miss Barkdale," he continued, laughing, "is that
you are so genuinely good and don't know it."

"Whatever happens," she said, almost irritably, "you must be cured
of that impression. I won't be considered 'good' when I'm not.
Little you know about me, indeed! Good heavens, Captain Lane! what
kind of women have you been accustomed to meet in the North? Would
they put strychnine in a wounded Southerner's food, and give him
heavy bread, more fatal than bullets, and read novels while dying
men were at their very doors?"

"Heaven help them! I fear there are many women the world over who
virtually do just those things."

"They are not in the South," she replied, hotly.

"They are evidently not in this house," he replied, smiling. "You
ask what kind of women I am accustomed to meet. I will show you the
shadow of one of my friends;" and he took from under his pillow a
photograph of Marian.

"Oh, isn't she lovely!" exclaimed the girl.

"Yes, she is as beautiful as you are; she is as brave as you are,
and I've seen you cheering on your friends when even in the excitement
of the fight my heart was filled with dread lest you or your mother
or sister might be shot. She is just as ardent for the North as
you are for the South, and her influence has had much place in the
motives of many who are now in the Union army. If wounded Confederates
were about her door you could only equal--you could not surpass--her
in womanly kindness and sympathy. The same would be true of my
mother and sisters, and millions of others. I know what you think
of us at the North, but you will have to revise your opinions some
day."

Her face was flushed, a frown was upon her brow, a doubtful smile
upon her lips, and her whole manner betokened her intense interest.
"You evidently are seeking to revise them," she said, with a short
laugh, "much as you charged our cavalry the other evening. I think
you are a dangerous man to the South, Captain Lane, and I don't
know whether I should let you get well or not."

He reached out his hand and took hers, as he said, laughingly:
"I should trust you just the same, even though Jeff Davis and the
whole Confederate Congress ordered you to make away with me."

"Don't you call our President 'Jeff,'" she snapped, but did not
withdraw her hand.

"I beg your pardon. That was just as rude in me as if you had called
Mr. Lincoln 'Abe.'"

She now burst out laughing. "Heaven knows we do it often enough,"
she said.

"I was aware of that."

"This won't do at all," she resumed. "Your hand is growing a
little feverish, and if my visits do not make you better I shall
not come.  I think we have defined our differences sufficiently. You
must not 'reverence' me any more. I couldn't stand that at all. I
will concede at once that you are a gentleman, and that this lovely
girl is my equal; and when our soldiers have whipped your armies,
and we are free, I shall be magnanimous, and invite you to bring
this girl here to visit us on your wedding trip. What is her name?"

"Marian Vosburgh. But I fear she will never take a wedding trip with
me. If she did I would accept your invitation gratefully after we
had convinced the South that one flag must protect us all."

"We won't talk any more about that. Why won't Miss Vosburgh take
a wedding trip with you?"

"For the best of reasons,--she doesn't love me well enough."

"Stupid! Perhaps she loves some one else?"

"No, I don't think so. She is as true a friend as a woman can be
to a man, but there it ends."

"With her."

"Certainly, with her only. She knows that I would do all that a
man can to win her."

"You are frank."

"Why should I not be with one I trust so absolutely? You think us
Northmen cold, underhanded. I do not intend virtually to take my
life back from your hands, and at the same time to keep that life
aloof from you as if you had nothing to do with it. If I survive
the war, whichever way it turns, I shall always cherish your memory
as one of my ideals, and shall feel honored indeed if I can retain
your friendship. To make and keep such friends is to enrich one's
life.  Should I see Miss Vosburgh again I shall tell her about you,
just as I have told you about her."

"You were born on the wrong side of the line, Captain Lane. You
are a Southerner at heart."

"Oh, nonsense! Wait till you visit us at the North. You will find
people to your mind on both sides of the line. When my mother and
sisters have learned how you have treated me and my men they will
welcome you with open arms."

She looked at him earnestly a moment, and then said: "You make me
feel as if the North and South did not understand each other." Then
she added, sadly: "The war is not over. Alas! how much may happen
before it is. My gray-haired father and gallant brothers are marching
with Lee, and while I pray for them night and morning, and often
through the day, I fear--I FEAR inexpressibly,--all the more, now
that I have seen Northern soldiers fight. God only knows what is
in store for us all. Do not think that because I seem light-hearted
I am not conscious of living on the eve of a tragedy all the time.
Tears and laughter are near together in my nature. I can't help
it; I was so made."

"Heaven keep you and yours in safety," said Lane, earnestly; and
she saw that his eyes were moist with feeling.

"This won't answer," she again declared, hastily. "We must have no
more such exciting talks. Shall I read to you a little while, or
go at once?"

"Read to me, by all means, if I am not selfishly keeping you too
long. Your talk has done me good rather than harm, for you are so
vital yourself that you seem to give me a part of your life and
strength. I believe I should have died under the old dull monotony."

"I usually read the Bible to your men," she said, half humorously,
half questioningly.

"Read it to me. I like to think we have the same faith. That book
is the pledge that all differences will pass away from the sincere."

He looked at her wonderingly as she read, in her sweet, girlish
voice, the sacred words familiar since his childhood; and when she
rose and said, "This must do for to-day," his face was eloquent
with his gratitude. He again reached out his hand, and said, gently,
"Miss Suwanee, Heaven keep you and yours from all harm."

"Don't talk to me that way," she said, brusquely. "After all, we
are enemies, you know."

"If you can so bless your enemies, what must be the experience of
your friends, one of whom I intend to be?"

"Roberta must read to you, in order to teach you that the South
cannot be taken by storm."

"I should welcome Miss Roberta cordially. We also shall be good
friends some day."

"We must get you well and pack you off North, or there's no telling
what may happen," she said, with a little tragic gesture. "Good-by."

This was the beginning of many talks, though no other was of so
personal a nature. They felt that they understood each other, that
there was no concealment to create distrust. She artlessly and
unconsciously revealed to him her life and its inspirations, and soon
proved that her mind was as active as her hands. She discovered that
Lane had mines of information at command, and she plied him with
questions about the North, Europe, and such parts of the East as
he had visited. Her father's library was well stored with standard
works, and she made him describe the scenes suggested by her
favorite poets. Life was acquiring for her a zest which it had never
possessed before, and one day she said to him, abruptly, "How you
have broadened my horizon!"

He also improved visibly in her vivacious society, and at last
was able to come down to his meals and sit on the piazza. Mrs.
Barkdale's and Roberta's reserve thawed before his genial courtesy,
and all the more readily since a letter had been received from
Colonel Barkdale containing thanks to Lane for the consideration
that had been shown to his family, and assuring his wife that
the Barkdale mansion must not fail in hospitality either to loyal
friends or to worthy foes.

Roberta was won over more completely than she had believed to be
possible. Her proud, high spirit was pleased with the fact that,
while Lane abated not one jot of his well-defined loyalty to the
North and its aims, he also treated her with respect and evident
admiration in her fearless assertion of her views. She also recognized
his admirable tact in preventing their talk from verging towards a
too-earnest discussion of their differences. Suwanee was delighted
as she saw him disarm her relatives, and was the life of their social
hours. She never wearied in delicately chaffing and bewildering
the good-natured but rather matter-of-fact Surgeon McAllister, and
it often cost Lane much effort to keep from exploding in laughter
as he saw the perplexed and worried expression of his friend. But
before the meal was over she would always reassure her slow-witted
guest by some unexpected burst of sunshine, and he afterwards would
remark, in confidence: "I say, Lane, that little 'Missy S'wanee'
out-generals a fellow every time. She attacks rear, flank, and
front, all at once, and then she takes your sword in such a winsome
way that you are rather glad to surrender."

"Take care, McAllister,--take care, or you may surrender more than
your sword."

"I think you are in the greater danger."

"Oh, no, I'm forearmed, and Miss Suwanee and I understand each
other."

But he did not understand her, nor did she comprehend herself. Her
conversation seemed as open, and often as bright as her Southern
sunshine, and his mind was cheered and delighted with it. He did
not disguise his frank, cordial regard for her, even before her
mother and sister, but it was ever blended with such a sincere
respect that she was touched and surprised by it, and they were
reassured. She had told them of the place possessed by Marian in
his thoughts, and this fact, with his manner, promised immunity
from all tendencies towards sentiment. Indeed, that Suwanee should
bestow anything more upon the Northern officer than kindness, a
certain chivalric hospitality, and some admiration, was among the
impossibilities in their minds.

This, at the time, seemed equally true to the young girl herself.
Not in the least was she on her guard. Her keen enjoyment of his
society awakened no suspicions, for she enjoyed everything keenly.
His persistence in treating her, in spite of all her nonsense and
frolicsomeness, as if she were worthy of the deepest respect and
honor which manhood can pay to womanhood, ever remained a bewildering
truth, and touched the deepest chords in her nature.  Sometimes
when they sat in the light of the young moon on the veranda she
revealed thoughts which surprised him, and herself even more. It
appeared to her as if a new and deeper life were awakening in her
heart, full of vague beauty and mystery. She almost believed that
she was becoming good, as he imagined. Why otherwise should she
be so strangely happy and spiritually exalted? He was developing
in her a new self-respect. She now knew that he was familiar with
standards of comparison at the North of which she need not be
ashamed. Even her mother and sister had remarked, in effect, "It is
evident that Captain Lane has been accustomed to the best society."
His esteem was not the gaping admiration of a boor to whom she had
been a revelation.

"No," she said, "he is a revelation to me. I thought my little
prejudices were the boundaries of the world. He, who has seen the
world, walks right over my prejudices as if they were nothing, and
makes me feel that I am his friend and equal, because he fancies I
possess a true, noble womanhood; and now I mean to possess it. He
has made his ideal of me seem worthy and beautiful, and it shall
be my life effort to attain it. He doesn't think me a barbarian
because I am a rebel and believe in slavery. He has said that his
mother and sisters would receive me with open arms. It seems to me
that I have grown years older and wiser during the last few weeks."

She did not know that her vivid, tropical nature was responding to
the influence which is mightiest even in colder climes.



CHAPTER XL.

LOVE'S TRIUMPH.



THE month of June was drawing to a close. Captain Lane, his surgeon,
and a little company of wounded men, equally with the Confederates,
were only apparently forgotten. They were all watched, and their
progress towards health was noted. Any attempt at escape would have
been checked at once. The majority of the Federal soldiers could
now walk about slowly, and were gaining rapidly. Although they were
not aware of the fact, the Confederate wounded, who had progressed
equally far in convalescence, were their guards, and the residents
of the neighborhood were allies in watchfulness. The Southerners
were only awaiting the time, near at hand, when they could proceed
to Richmond with their prisoners. This purpose indicated no deep
hostility on the part of the rebels. Companionship in suffering
had banished this feeling. A sergeant among their number had become
their natural leader, and he was in communication with guerilla
officers and other more regular authorities. They had deemed it
best to let events take their course for a time. Lee's northward
advance absorbed general attention, although little as yet was
known about it on that remote plantation. The Union men were being
healed and fed at no cost to the Confederates, and could be taken
away at the time when their removal could be accomplished with the
least trouble.

Lane himself was the chief cause of delay. He was doing well,
but his wound was of a peculiar nature, and any great exertion or
exposure might yet cause fatal results. This fact had become known
to the rebel sergeant, and since the captain was the principal
prize, and they were all very comfortable, he had advised delay.
It had been thought best not to inform the family as to the state
of affairs, lest it should in some way become known to Lane and
the surgeon, and lead to attempted escape. The Barkdales, moreover,
were high-strung people, and might entertain some chivalric ideas
about turning over their guests to captivity.

"They might have a ridiculous woman's notion about the matter,"
said one of these secret advisers.

Lane and McAllister, however, were becoming exceedingly solicitous
concerning the future. The former did not base much hope on Suwanee's
evident expectation that when he was well enough he would go to
his friends as a matter of course. He knew that he and his men were
in the enemy's hands, and that they would naturally be regarded
as captives. He had a horror of going to a Southern prison and of
enduring weeks and perhaps months of useless inactivity. He and
McAllister began to hold whispered consultations. His mind revolted
at the thought of leaving his men, and of departing stealthily from
the family that had been so kind. And yet if they were all taken to
Richmond he would be separated from the men, and could do nothing
for them. Matter-of-fact McAllister had no doubts or scruples.

"Of course we should escape at once if your wound justified the
attempt."

On the 29th of June Lane and the surgeon walked some little
distance from the house, and became satisfied that they were under
the surveillance of the rebel sergeant and his men. This fact so
troubled Lane that Suwanee noticed his abstraction and asked him
in the evening what was worrying him. The moonlight fell full on
her lovely, sympathetic face.

"Miss Suwanee," he said, gravely, "I've been your guest about a
month. Are you not tired of me yet?"

"That's a roundabout way of saying you are tired of us."

"I beg your pardon: it is not. But, in all sincerity, I should be
getting back to duty, were it possible."

"Your wound is not sufficiently healed," she said, earnestly, wondering
at the chill of fear that his words had caused. "The surgeon says
it is not."

"Don't you know?" he whispered.

"Know what?" she almost gasped.

"That I'm a prisoner."

She sprung to her feet and was about to utter some passionate
exclamation; but he said, hastily, "Oh, hush, or I'm lost. I believe
that eyes are upon me all the time."

"Heigho!" she exclaimed, walking to the edge of the veranda, "I
wish I knew what General Lee was doing. We are expecting to hear
of another great battle every day;" and she swept the vicinity with
a seemingly careless glance, detecting a dark outline behind some
shrubbery not far away. Instantly she sprung down the steps and
confronted the rebel sergeant.

"What are you doing here?" she asked, indignantly.

"My duty," was the stolid reply.

"Find duty elsewhere then," she said, haughtily.

The man slunk away, and she returned to Lane, who remarked,
significantly, "Now you understand me."

It was evident that she was deeply excited, and immediately she began
to speak in a voice that trembled with anger and other emotions.
"This is terrible. I had not thought--indeed it cannot be. My father
would not permit it. The laws of war would apply, I suppose, to
your enlisted men, but that you and Surgeon McAllister, who have
been our guests and have sat at our table, should be taken from our
hospitality into captivity is monstrous. In permitting it, I seem
to share in a mean, dishonorable thing."

"How characteristic your words and actions are!" said Lane, gently.
"It would be easy to calculate your orbit. I fear you cannot help
yourself. You forget, too, that I was the means of sending to prison
even your Major Denham."

"Major Denham is nothing--" she began, impetuously, then hesitated,
and he saw the rich color mantling her face even in the moonlight.
After a second or two she added: "Our officers were captured in
fair fight. That is very different from taking a wounded man and
a guest."

"Not a guest in the ordinary sense of the word. You see I can
be fair to your people, unspeakably as I dread captivity. It will
not be so hard for McAllister, for surgeons are not treated like
ordinary prisoners. His remaining, however, was a brave, unselfish
act;" and Lane spoke in tones of deep regret.

"It must not be," she said, sternly.

"Miss Suwanee,"--and his voice was scarcely audible,--"do you think
we can be overheard?"

"No," she replied, in like tones. "Roberta and mamma are incapable
of listening."

"I was not thinking of them. I must speak quickly. I don't wish to
involve you, but the surgeon and I must try to escape, for I would
almost rather die than be taken prisoner. Deep as is my longing
for liberty I could not leave you without a word, and my trust in
the chivalric feeling that you have just evinced is so deep as to
convince me that I can speak to you safely. I shall not tell you
anything to compromise you. You have only to be blind and deaf if
you see or hear anything."

Her tears were now falling fast, but she did not move, lest observant
eyes should detect her emotion.

"Heaven bless your good, kind heart!" he continued, in a low, earnest
tone. "Whether I live or die, I wish you to know that your memory
will ever be sacred to me, like that of my mother and one other.
Be assured that the life you have done so much to save is always
at your command. Whenever I can serve you or yours you can count
on all that I am or can do. Suwanee, I shall be a better man for
having known you. You don't half appreciate yourself, and every
succeeding day has only proved how true my first impressions were."

She did not answer, and he felt that it would be dangerous to
prolong the interview. They entered the house together. As they
went up the stairs she pressed her handkerchief to her eyes, he
wondering at her silence and emotion. At the landing in the dusky
hall-way he raised her hand to his lips.

There was not a trace of gallantry in the act, and she knew it. It
was only the crowning token of that recognition at which she had
wondered from the first. She realized that it was only the homage
of a knightly man and the final expression of his gratitude; but
it overwhelmed her, and she longed to escape with the terrible
revelation which had come to her at last. She could not repress a
low sob, and, giving his hand a quick, strong pressure, she fled
to her room.

"Can it be possible?" he thought. "Oh! if I have wounded that heart,
however unintentionally, I shall never forgive myself."

"Lane," whispered McAllister, when the former entered his room,
"there are guards about the house."

"I'm not surprised," was the despondent reply. "We are prisoners."

"Does the family know it?"

He told him how Suwanee had detected the espionage of the rebel
sergeant.

"Wouldn't she help us?"

"I shall not ask her to. I shall not compromise her with her people."

"No, by thunder! I'd rather spend my life in prison than harm her.
What shall we do?"

"We must put our light out soon, and take turns in watching for
the slightest opportunity. You lie down first. I do not feel sleepy."

After making some slight preparations the doctor slept, and it was
well on towards morning before Lane's crowding thoughts permitted
him to seek repose. He then wakened McAllister and said, "There has
been a stealthy relief of guards thus far, and I've seen no chance
whatever."

The doctor was equally satisfied that any attempt to escape would
be fruitless.

Suwanee's vigil that night was bitter and terrible, indeed. Her
proud, passionate nature writhed under the truth that she had given
her heart, unsought, to a Northern officer,--to one who had from
the first made it clear that his love had been bestowed on another.
She felt that she could not blame him. His frankness had been almost
equal to that of her own brothers, and he had satisfied her that
they could scarcely be more loyal to her than he would be. She could
detect no flaw in his bearing towards her. He had not disguised
his admiration, his abundant enjoyment of her society, but all
expression of his regard had been tinged with respect and gratitude
rather than gallantry. He perhaps had thought that her knowledge
of his attitude towards Miss Vosburgh was an ample safeguard, if
any were needed. Alas! it had been the chief cause of her fatal
blindness. She had not dreamed of danger for him or herself in
their companionship. Nothing was clearer than that he expected and
wished no such result. It was well for Lane that this was true,
for she would have been a dangerous girl to trifle with.

But she recognized the truth. Before, love had been to her a thing
of poetry, romance, and dreams. Now it was a terrible reality.
Her heart craved with intense longing what she felt it could never
possess.

At last, wearied and exhausted by her deep emotion, she sighed:
"Perhaps it is better as it is. Even if he had been a lover, the
bloody chasm of war would have separated us, but it seems cruel that
God should permit such an overwhelming misfortune to come upon an
unsuspecting, inexperienced girl. Why was I so made that I could,
unconsciously, give my very soul to this stranger? yet he is not a
stranger. Events have made me better acquainted with him than with
any other man. I know that he has kept no secrets from me. There
was nothing to conceal. All has been simple, straightforward, and
honorable. It is to the man himself, in his crystal integrity, that
my heart has bowed, and then--that was his chief power--he made
me feel that I was not unworthy. He taught me to respect my own
nature, and to aspire to all that was good and true.

"After all, perhaps I am condemning myself too harshly,--perhaps
the truth that my heart acknowledged such a man as master is proof
that his estimate of me is not wholly wrong. Were there not some
kinship of spirit between us, this could not be; but the secret
must remain between me and God."

Lane, tormented by the fear suggested by Suwanee's manner on the
previous evening, dreaded to meet her again, but at first he was
reassured. Never had she been more brilliant and frolicsome than at
the breakfast-table that morning. Never had poor McAllister been
more at his wits' end to know how to reply to her bewildering
sallies of good-natured badinage. Every vulnerable point of Northern
character received her delicate satire. Lane himself did not escape
her light shafts. He made no defence, but smiled or laughed at
every palpable hit. The girl's pallor troubled him, and something
in her eyes that suggested suffering. There came a time when he
could scarcely think of that day without tears, believing that no
soldier on either side ever displayed more heroism than did the
wounded girl.

He and the surgeon walked out again, and saw that they were watched.
He found that his men had become aware of the truth and had submitted
to the inevitable. They were far from the Union lines, and not
strong enough to attempt an escape through a hostile country.  Lane
virtually gave up, and began to feel that the best course would be
to submit quietly and look forward to a speedy exchange. He longed
for a few more hours with Suwanee, but imagined that she avoided
him. There was no abatement of her cordiality, but she appeared
preoccupied.

After dinner a Confederate officer called and asked for Miss
Roberta, who, after the interview, returned to her mother's room
with a troubled expression. Suwanee was there, calmly plying her
needle. She knew what the call meant.

"I suppose it's all right, and that we can't help ourselves,"
Roberta began, "but it annoys me nevertheless. Lieutenant Macklin,
who has just left, has said that our own men and the Union soldiers
are now well enough to be taken to Richmond, and that he will start
with them to-morrow morning. Of course I have no regrets respecting
the enlisted men, and am glad they are going, for they are proving
a heavy burden to us; but my feelings revolt at the thought that
Captain Lane and the surgeon should be taken to prison from our
home."

"I don't wonder," said Suwanee, indignantly; "but then what's the
use? we can't help ourselves. I suppose it is the law of war."

"Well, I'm glad you are so sensible about it. I feared you would
feel a hundred-fold worse than I, you and the captain have become
such good friends. Indeed, I have even imagined that he was in
danger of becoming something more. I caught him looking at you at
dinner as if you were a saint 'whom infidels might adore.' His homage
to our flirtatious little Suwanee has been a rich joke from the
first. I suppose, however, there may have been a vein of calculation
in it all, for I don't think any Yankee--"

"Hush," said Suwanee, hotly; "Captain Lane is still our guest,
and he is above calculation. I shall not permit him to be insulted
because he has over-estimated me."

"Why, Suwanee, I did not mean to insult him. You have transfixed
him with a dozen shafts of satire to-day, and as for poor Surgeon
McAllister--"

"That was to their faces," interrupted Suwanee, hastily.

"Suwanee is right," said Mrs. Barkdale, smiling. "Captain Lane has
had the sense to see that my little girl is good-hearted in spite
of her nonsense."

The girl's lip was quivering but she concealed the fact by savagely
biting off her thread, and then was impassive again.

"I sincerely regret with you both," resumed their mother, "that
these two gentlemen must go from our home to prison, especially
so since receiving a letter from Captain Lane, couched in terms of
the strongest respect and courtesy, and enclosing a hundred dollars
in Northern money as a slight compensation--so he phrased it--for
what had been done for his men. Of course he meant to include
himself and the surgeon, but had too much delicacy to mention the
fact. He also stated that he would have sent more, but that it was
nearly all they had."

"You did not keep the money!" exclaimed the two girls in the same
breath.

"I do not intend to keep it," said the lady, quietly, "and shall
hand it back to him with suitable acknowledgments. I only mention
the fact to convince Roberta that Captain Lane is not the typical
Yankee, and we have much reason to be thankful that men of a different
stamp were not quartered upon us. And yet," continued the matron,
with a deep sigh, "you little know how sorely we need the money.
Your father's and brothers' pay is losing its purchasing power.
The people about here all profess to be very hot for the South,
but when you come to buy anything from them what they call 'Linkum
money' goes ten times as far. We have never known anything but
profusion, but now we are on the verge of poverty."

"Oh, well," said Suwanee, recklessly, "starving isn't the worst
thing that could happen."

"Alas! my child, you can't realize what poverty means. Your heart
is as free from care as the birds around us, and, like them, you
think you will be provided for."

The girl sprung up with a ringing laugh, and kissed her mother as
she exclaimed, "I'll cut off my hair, put on one of brother Bob's
old suits, and enlist;" and then she left the room.

At supper there was a constraint on all except Suwanee. Mrs.  Barkdale
and Roberta felt themselves to be in an embarrassing position. The
men at the table, who had been guests so long, would be marched
away as prisoners from their door in the morning. The usages of
war could not satisfy their womanly and chivalric natures, or make
them forget the courtesy and respect which, in spite of prejudices,
had won so much good-will. Lane scarcely sought to disguise his
perplexity and distress. Honest Surgeon McAllister, who knew that
they all had been an awful burden, was as troubled as some men
are pleased when they get much for nothing. Suwanee appeared in
a somewhat new role. She was the personification of dignity and
courtesy. She acted as if she knew all and was aware that their
guests did. Therefore levity would be in bad taste, and their only
resource was the good breeding which ignores the disagreeable and
the inevitable. Her mother looked on her with pride, and wondered
at so fine an exibition of tact. She did not know that the poor
girl had a new teacher, and that she was like an inexorable general
who, in a desperate fight, summons all his reserve and puts forth
every effort of mind and body.

Lane had not found a chance to say one word to Suwanee in private
during the day, but after supper she went to the piano and began
to play some Southern airs with variations of her own improvising.
He immediately joined her and said, "We shall not attempt to escape;
we are too closely watched."

She did not reply.

"Miss Suwanee," he began again, and distress and sorrow were in his
tones, "I hardly know how to speak to you of what troubles me more
than the thought of captivity. How can I manage with such proud,
chivalric women as you and your mother and sister? But I am not
blind, nor can I ignore the prosaic conditions of our lot. I respect
your pride; but have a little mercy on mine,--nay, let me call it
bare self-respect. We have caused you the loss of your laborers,
your fields are bare, and you have emptied your larder in feeding
my men, yet your mother will not take even partial compensation.
You can't realize how troubled I am."

"You, like ourselves, must submit to the fortunes of war," she
replied, with a sudden gleam of her old mirthfulness.

"A bodily wound would be a trifle compared with this," he resumed,
earnestly. "O Miss Suwanee, have I won no rights as a friend?
rather, let me ask, will you not generously give me some rights?"

"Yes, Captain Lane," she said, gently, "I regard you as a friend,
and I honor you as a true man. Though the war should go on forever
I should not change in these respects unless you keep harping on
this financial question."

"Friends frankly accept gifts from friends; let it be a gift
then, by the aid of which you can keep your mother from privation.
Suwanee, Suwanee, why do you refuse to take this dross from me when
I would give my heart's blood to shield you from harm?"

"You are talking wildly, Captain Lane," she said, with a laugh.
"Your heart belongs to Miss Vosburgh, and therefore all its blood."

"She would be the first to demand and expect that I should risk all
and give all for one to whom I owe so much and who is so deserving."

"I require of her no such sacrifice," Suwanee replied, coldly, "nor
of you either, Captain Lane. Unforeseen circumstances have thrown
us together for a time. We have exchanged all that is possible
between those so divided,--esteem and friendship. If my father
thinks it best he will obtain compensation from our government.
Perhaps, in happier times, we may meet again," she added, her tone
and manner becoming gentle once more; "and then I hope you will
find me a little more like what you have thought me to be."

"God grant that we may meet again. There, I can't trust myself
to speak to you any more. Your unaffected blending of humility
and pride with rare, unconscious nobility touches my very soul.
Our leave-taking in the morning must be formal. Good-by, Suwanee
Barkdale. As sure as there is a God of justice your life will be
filled full with happiness."

Instead of taking his proffered hand, she trembled, turned to the
piano, and said hastily between the notes she played: "Control
yourself and listen. We may be observed. You and the surgeon be
ready to open your door and follow me at any time to-night. Hang
your sword where it may be seen through the open window. I have
contrived a chance--a bare chance--of your escape. Bow and retire."

He did so. She bent her head in a courtly manner towards him, and
then went on with her playing of Southern airs.

A moment later the rebel sergeant disappeared from some shrubbery
a little beyond the parlor window, and chuckled, "The Yankee captain
has found out that he can't make either an ally or a sweetheart
out of a Southern girl; but I suspicioned her a little last night."

At two o'clock that night there was an almost imperceptible tap
at Lane's door. He opened it noiselessly, and saw Suwanee with her
finger on her lips.

"Carry your shoes in your hands," she said, and then led the way
down the stairs to the parlor window. Again she whispered: "The
guard here is bribed,--bribed by kindness. He says I saved his life
when he was wounded. Steal through the shrubbery to the creek-road;
continue down that, and you'll find a guide. Not a word. Good-by."

She gave her hand to the surgeon, whose honest eyes were moist with
feeling, and then he dropped lightly to the ground.

"Suwanee," began Lane.

"Hush! Go."

Again he raised her hand to his lips, again heard that same low,
involuntary sob that had smote his heart the preceding night; and
then followed the surgeon. The guard stood out in the garden with
his back towards them, as, like shadows, they glided away.

On the creek-road the old colored man who worked in the garden
joined them, and led the way rapidly to the creek, where under some
bushes a skiff with oars was moored. Lane slipped twenty dollars into
the old man's hand, and then he and his companion pushed out into
the sluggish current, and the surgeon took the oars and pulled
quietly through the shadows of the overhanging foliage. The continued
quiet proved that their escape had not been discovered.  Food had
been placed in the boat. The stream led towards the Potomac. With
the dawn they concealed themselves, and slept during the day, travelling
all the following night. The next day they were so fortunate as
to fall in with a Union scouting party, and so eventually reached
Washington; but the effort in riding produced serious symptoms in
Lane's wound, and he was again doomed to quiet weeks of convalescence,
as has already been intimated to the reader.

When Mrs. Barkdale and Roberta came down the next morning they
found Suwanee in the breakfast room, fuming with apparent irritability.

"Here is that Lieutenant Macklin again," she said, "and he is very
impatient, saying that his orders are imperative, and that he is
needed on some special duty. His orders are to convey the prisoners
to the nearest railroad station, and then report for some active
service. From all I can gather it is feared that the Yankees propose
an attack on Richmond, now that General Lee is away."

"It's strange that Captain Lane and the surgeon don't come down,"
Roberta remarked. "I truly wish, however, that we had not to meet
them again."

"Well, since it must be, the sooner the ordeal is over the better,"
said Suwanee, with increasing irritation. "Captain Lane has sense
enough to know that we are not responsible for his being taken
away."

"Hildy," said Mrs. Barkdale, "go up and tell the gentlemen that
breakfast is ready."

In a few moments the old woman returned in a fluster and said, "I
knock on de doah, and dey ain't no answer."

"What!" exclaimed Suwanee, in the accents of surprise; then, sharply,
"go and knock louder, and wake them up," adding, "it's very strange."

Hildy came back with a scared look, and said, "I knock and knock;
den I open de doah, and der' ain't no one dere."

"They must be out in the grounds for a walk," exclaimed Roberta.
"Haven't you seen them this morning?"

"I ain't seen nuffin' nor heard nuffin'," protested the old woman.

"Girls, this is serious," said Mrs. Barkdale, rising; and she
summoned Lieutenant Macklin, who belonged to a class not received
socially by the family.

"We have but this moment discovered," said the lady, "that Captain
Lane and Surgeon McAllister are not in their room. Therefore we
suppose they are walking in the grounds. Will you please inform
them that breakfast is waiting?"

"Pardon me, madam, they cannot be outside, or I should have been
informed."

"Then you must search for them, sir. The house, grounds, and
buildings are open to you."

The fact of the prisoners' escape soon became evident, and there
were haste, confusion, and running to and fro to no purpose. Suwanee
imitated Roberta so closely that she was not suspected. Lieutenant
Macklin and the rebel sergeant at last returned, giving evidence
of strong vexation.

"We don't understand this," began the lieutenant.

"Neither do we," interrupted Mrs. Barkdale, so haughtily that they
were abashed, although they directed keen glances towards Suwanee,
who met their scrutiny unflinchingly.

The Barkdales were not people to be offended with impunity, and the
lieutenant knew it. He added, apologetically: "You know I must do
my duty, madam. I fear some of your servants are implicated, or
that guards have been tampered with."

"You are at liberty to examine any one you please."

They might as well have examined a carved, wrinkled effigy as old
Cuffy, Lane's midnight guide. "I don' know nuffin' 'tall 'bout it,"
he declared. "My ole woman kin tell yo' dat I went to bed when she
did and got up when she did."

The guard, bought with kindness, was as dense in his ignorance as
any of the others. At last Macklin declared that he would have to
put citizens on the hunt, for his orders admitted of no delay.

The Union prisoners, together with the Confederates, when formed
in line, gave a ringing cheer for "Missy S'wanee and the ladies,"
and then the old mansion was left in more than its former isolation,
and, as the younger girl felt, desolation.

She attended to her duties as usual, and then went to her piano.
The words spoken the previous evening would ever make the place
dear to her. While she was there old Hildy crept in, with her feeble
step, and whispered, "I foun' dis un'er Cap'n Lane's piller."

It was but a scrap of paper, unaddressed; but Suwanee understood
its significance. It contained these words: "I can never repay you,
but to discover some coin which a nature like yours can accept has
become one of my supreme ambitions. If I live, we shall meet again."

Those words formed a glimmering hope which grew fainter and fainter
in the dark years which followed.

She did not have to mask her trouble very long, for another sorrow
came like an avalanche. Close to the Union lines, on Cemetery Ridge,
lay a white-haired colonel and his two tall sons. They were among
the heroes in Pickett's final charge, on the 3d of July. "Missy
S'wanee" laughed no more, even in self-defence.



CHAPTER XLI.

SUNDAY'S LULL AND MONDAY'S STORM.



SUNDAY, the 12th of July, proved a long, restful sabbath to Marian
and her father, and they spent most of its hours together. The
great tension and strain of the past weeks appeared to be over for
a time.  The magnificent Union victories had brought gladness and
hopefulness to Mr. Vosburgh, and the return of her friends had
relieved his daughter's mind. He now thought he saw the end clearly.
He believed that hereafter the tide of rebellion would ebb southward
until all the land should be free.

"This day has been a godsend to us both," he said to Marian, as
they sat together in the library before retiring. "The draft has
begun quietly, and no disturbances have followed. I scarcely remember
an evening when the murmur of the city was so faint and suggestive
of repose. I think we can both go to the country soon, with
minds comparatively at rest. I must admit that I expected no such
experience as has blessed us to-day. We needed it. Not until this
respite came did I realize how exhausted from labor and especially
anxiety I had become. You, too, my little girl, are not the blooming
lassie you were a year ago."

"Yet I think I'm stronger in some respects, papa."

"Yes, in many respects. Thank God for the past year. Your sympathy
and companionship have made it a new era in my life. You have
influenced other lives, also, as events have amply proved. Are
you not satisfied now that you can be unconventional without being
queer? You have not been a colorless reflection of some social
set; neither have you left your home for some startling public
career; and yet you have achieved the distinct individuality which
truthfulness to nature imparts. You have simply been developing
your better self naturally, and you have helped fine fellows to
make the best of themselves."

"Your encouragement is very sweet, papa. I'm not complacent over
myself, however; and I've failed so signally in one instance that
I'm vexed and almost saddened. You know what I mean."

"Yes, I know," with a slight laugh. "Merwyn is still your unsolved
problem, and he worries you."

"Not because he is unsolved, but rather that the solution has proved
so disappointing and unexpected. He baffles me with a trait which
I recognize, but can't understand, and only admit in wonder and
angry protest. Indeed, from the beginning of our acquaintance he
has reversed my usual experiences. His first approaches incensed
me beyond measure,--all the more, I suppose, because I saw in
him an odious reflection of my old spirit. But, papa, when to his
condescending offer I answered from the full bitterness of my heart,
he looked and acted as if I had struck him with a knife."

Her father again laughed, as he said: "You truly used heroic surgery,
and to excellent purpose. Has he shown any conceit, complacency,
or patronizing airs since?"

"No, I admit that, at least."


"In destroying some of his meaner traits by one keen thrust, you
did him a world of good. Of course he suffered under such a surgical
operation, but he has had better moral health ever since."

"Oh, yes," she burst out, "he has become an eminently respectable
and patriotic millionnaire, giving of his abundance to save the
nation's life, living in a palace meanwhile. What did he mean by
his passionate words, 'I shall measure everything hereafter by the
breadth of your woman's soul'? What have the words amounted to? You
know, papa, that nothing but my duty and devotion to you keeps me
from taking an active part in this struggle, even though a woman.
Indeed, the feeling is growing upon me that I must spend part
of my time in some hospital. A woman can't help having an intense
conviction of what she would do were she a man, and you know what
I would have done, and he knows it also. Therefore he has not kept
his word, for he fails at the vital point in reaching my standard.
I have no right to judge men in Mr. Merwyn's position because
they do not go to the front. Let them do what they think wise and
prudent; let them also keep among their own kind. I protest against
their coming to me for what I give to friends who have already
proved themselves heroes. But there, I forgot. He looks so like a
man that I can't help thinking that he is one,--that he could come
up to my standard if he chose to. He still seeks me--"

"No, he has not been here since he heard Blauvelt's story."

"He passed the house once, hesitated, and did not enter. Papa,
he has not changed, and you know it. He has plainly asked for a
gift only second to what I can give to God. With a tenacity which
nothing but his will can account for, perhaps, he seeks it still.
Do you think his distant manner deceives me for a moment? Nor has
my coldness any influence on him. Yet it has not been the coldness
of indifference, and he knows that too. He has seen and felt, like
sword-thrusts, my indignation, my contempt. He has said to my face,
'You think me a coward.' He is no fool, and has fully comprehended
the situation. If he had virtually admitted, 'I am a coward, and
therefore can have no place among the friends who are surpassing your
ideal of manly heroism,' and withdrawn to those to whom a million
is more than all heroism, the affair would have ended naturally
long ago. But he persists in bringing me a daily sense of failure
and humiliation. He says: 'My regard for you is so great I can't
give you up, yet not so great as to lead me to do what hundreds
of thousands are doing. I can't face danger for your sake.' I have
tried to make the utmost allowance for his constitutional weakness,
yet it has humiliated me that I had not the power to enable him
to overcome so strange a failing. Why, I could face death for you,
and he can't stand beside one whom he used to sneer at as 'little
Strahan.' Yet, such is his idea of my woman's soul that he still
gives me his thoughts and therefore his hopes;" and she almost
stamped her foot in her irritation.

"Would you truly give your life for me?" he asked, gently.

"Yes, I know I could, and would were there necessity; not in callous
disregard of danger, but because the greater emotion swallows up
the less. Faulty as I am, there would be no bargainings and prudent
reservations in my love. These are not the times for half-way people.
Oh think, papa, while we are here in the midst of every comfort,
how many thousands of mutilated, horribly wounded men are dying in
agony throughout the South! My heart goes out to them in a sympathy
and homage I can't express. Think how Lane and even Strahan may be
suffering to-night, with so much done for them, and then remember
the prisoners of war and the poor unknown enlisted men, often
terribly neglected, I fear. Papa, won't you let me go as a nurse?
The ache would go out of my own heart if I tried to reduce this awful
sum of anguish a little. He whose word and touch always banished
pain and disease would surely shield me in such labors. As soon
as danger no longer threatens you, won't you let me do a little,
although I am only a girl?"

"Yes, Marian," her father replied, gravely; "far be it from me to
repress such heaven-born impulses. You are now attaining the highest
rank reached by humanity. All the avenues of earthly distinction
cannot lead beyond the spirit of self-sacrifice for others. This
places you near the Divine Man, and all grow mean and plebeian to the
degree that they recede from him. You see what comes of developing
your better nature. Selfishness and its twin, cowardice, are crowded
out."

"Please don't praise me any more. I can't stand it," faltered the
girl, tearfully. A moment later her laugh rang out. "Hurrah!" she
cried, "since Mr. Merwyn won't go to the war, I'm going myself."

"To make more wounds than you will heal," her father added.
"Remember the circumstances under which you go will have to receive
very careful consideration, and I shall have to know all about the
matron and nurses with whom you act. Your mother will be horrified,
and so will not a few of your acquaintances. Flirting in shadows
is proper enough, but helping wounded soldiers to live--But we
understand each other, and I can trust you now."

The next morning father and daughter parted with few misgivings,
and the latter promised to go to her mother in a day or two, Mr.
Vosburgh adding that if the week passed quietly he could join them
on Saturday evening.

So they quietly exchanged their good-by kiss on the edge of a
volcano already in eruption.

An early horseback ride in Central Park had become one of Merwyn's
habits of late. At that hour he met comparatively few abroad, and
the desire for solitude was growing upon him. Like Mr. Vosburgh,
he had watched with solicitude the beginning of the draft, feeling
that if it passed quietly his only remaining chance would be to
wring from his mother some form of release from his oath. Indeed,
so unhappy and desperate was he becoming that he had thought
of revealing everything to Mr. Vosburgh. The government officer,
however, might feel it his duty to use the knowledge, should there
come a time when the authorities proceeded against the property
of the disloyal. Moreover, the young man felt that it would be
dishonorable to reveal the secret.

Beyond his loyal impulses he now had little motive for effort.
Marian's prejudices against him had become too deeply rooted, and
her woman's honor for the knightly men her friends had proved too
controlling a principle, ever to give him a chance for anything
better than polite tolerance. He had discovered what this meant
so fully, and in Blauvelt's story had been shown the inevitable
contrast which she must draw so vividly, that he had decided:--

"No more of Marian Vosburgh's society until all is changed.  Therefore
no more forever, probably. If my mother proves as obdurate as a
Southern jailer, I suppose I'm held, although I begin to think I
have as good cause to break my chains as any other Union man. She
tricked me into captivity, and holds me remorselessly,--not like a
mother. Miss Vosburgh did show she had a woman's heart, and would
have given me her hand in friendship had I not been compelled to
make her believe that I was a coward. If in some way I can escape
my oath, and my reckless courage at the front proves her mistaken,
I may return to her. Otherwise it is a useless humiliation and pain
to see her any more."

Such had been the nature of his musings throughout the long Sunday
whose quiet had led to the belief that the draft would scarcely create
a ripple of overt hostility. During his ride on Monday morning he
nearly concluded to go to his country place again. He was growing
nervous and restless, and he longed for the steadying influence
of his mountain rambles before meeting his mother and deciding
questions which would involve all their future relations.

As with bowed head, lost in thought, he approached the city by
one of the park entrances, he heard a deep, angry murmur, as if
a storm-vexed tide was coming in. Spurring his horse forward, he
soon discovered, with a feeling like an electric shock, that a tide
was indeed rising. Was it a temporary tidal wave of human passion,
mysterious in its origin, soon to subside, leaving such wreckage
as its senseless fury might have caused? Or was it the beginning
of the revolution so long feared, but not now guarded against?

Converging from different avenues, men, women, and children were
pouring by the thousand into a vacant lot near the park. Their presence
seemed like a dream. Why was this angry multitude gathering here
within a few rods of rural loveliness, their hoarse cries blending
with the songs of robins and thrushes? It had been expected that
the red monster would raise its head, if at all, in some purlieu
of the east side. On the contrary its segregate parts were coming
together at a distance from regions that would naturally generate
them, and were forming under his very eyes the thing of which he
had read, and, of late, had dreamed night and day,--a mob.

To change the figure, the vacant space, unbuilt upon as yet, was
becoming an immense human reservoir, into which turgid streams
with threatening sounds were surging from the south. His eyes could
separate the tumultuous atoms into ragged forms, unkempt heads,
inflamed faces, animated by some powerful destructive impulse. Arms
of every description proved that the purpose of the gathering was
not a peaceful one. But what was the purpose?

Riding closer he sought to question some on the outskirts of the
throng, and so drew attention to himself. Volleys of oaths, stones,
and sticks, were the only answers he received.

"Thank you," Merwyn muttered, as he galloped away. "I begin
to comprehend your meaning, but shall study you awhile before I
take part in the controversy. Then there shall be some knock-down
arguments."

As he drew rein at a short distance the cry went up that he was a
"spy," and another rush was made for him; but he speedily distanced
his pursuers. To his surprise the great multitude turned southward,
pouring down Fifth and Sixth avenues. After keeping ahead for a
few blocks, he saw that the mob, now numbering many thousands, was
coming down town with some unknown purpose and destination.

Two things were at least clear,--the outbreak was unexpected, and
no preparation had been made for it. As he approached his home on
a sharp trot, a vague air of apprehension and expectation was beginning
to manifest itself, and but little more. Policemen were on their
beats, and the city on the fashionable avenues and cross-streets
wore its midsummer aspect. Before entering his own home he obeyed
an impulse to gallop by the Vosburgh residence. All was still quiet,
and Marian, with surprise, saw him clattering past in a way that
seemed reckless and undignified.

On reaching his home he followed his groom to the stable, and said,
quietly: "You are an old family servant, but you must now give me
positive assurance that I can trust you. There is a riot in the
city, and there is no telling what house will be safe. Will you
mount guard night and day in my absence?"

"Faix, sur, I will. Oi'll sarve ye as I did yer fayther afore ye."

"I believe you, but would shoot you if treacherous. You know I've
been expecting this trouble. Keep the horse saddled. Bar and bolt
everything. I shall be in and out at all hours, but will enter by
the little side-door in the stable. Watch for my signal, and be
ready to open to me only any door, and bolt it instantly after me.
Leave all the weapons about the house just where I have put them.
If any one asks for me, say I'm out and you don't know when I'll
be back. Learn to recognize my voice and signal, no matter how
disguised I am."

The faithful old servant promised everything, and was soon
executing orders. Before their neighbors had taken the alarm, the
heavy shutters were closed, and the unusual precautions that in the
family's absence had been adopted rendered access possible only
to great violence. On reaching his room Merwyn thought for a few
moments. He was intensely excited, and there was a gleam of wild
hope in his eyes, but he felt with proud exultation that in his
manner he was imitating his father. Not a motion was hasty or useless.
Right or wrong, in the solitude of his room or in the midst of the
mob, his brain should direct his hand.

"And now my hand is free!" he exclaimed, aloud; "my oath cannot
shackle it now."

His first conclusion was to mingle with the mob and learn the
nature and objects of the enemy. He believed the information would
be valuable to Mr. Vosburgh and the police authorities. Having
accomplished this purpose he would join any organized resistance he
could find, at the same time always seeking to shield Marian from
the possibility of danger.

He had already been shown that in order to understand the character
and aims of the mob he must appear to be one of them, and he decided
that he could carry off the disguise of a young city mechanic better
than any other.

This plan he carried out by donning from his own wardrobe a plain
dark flannel suit, which, when it had been rolled in dust and oil,
and received a judicious rip here and there, presented the appearance
of a costume of a workman just from his shop. With further injunctions
to Thomas and the old serving-woman, he made his way rapidly to
the north-east, where the smoke of a conflagration proved that the
spirit of mischief was increasing.

One would not have guessed, as he hurried up Third Avenue, that he
was well armed, but there were two small, yet effective revolvers
and a dirk upon his person. As has been related before, he had
practised for this emergency, and could be as quick as a flash with
his weapon.

He had acted with the celerity of youth, guided by definite plans,
and soon began to make his way quietly through the throng that
blocked the avenue, gradually approaching the fire at the corner of
45th Street. At first the crowd was a mystery to him, so orderly,
quiet, and inoffensive did it appear, although composed largely
of the very dregs of the slums. The crackling, roaring flames,
devouring tenement-houses, were equally mysterious. No one was
seeking to extinguish them, although the occupants of the houses
were escaping for their lives, dragging out their humble effects.
The crowd merely looked on with a pleased, satisfied expression.
After a moment's thought Merwyn remembered that the draft had been
begun in one of the burning houses, and was told by a bystander,
"We smashed the ranch and broke some jaws before the bonfire."

That the crowd was only a purring tiger was soon proved, for some
one near said, "There's Kennedy, chief of the cops;" and it seemed
scarcely a moment before the officer was surrounded by an infuriated
throng who were raining curses and blows upon him.

Merwyn made an impulsive spring forward in his defence, but a dozen
forms intervened, and his effort was supposed to be as hostile as
that of the rioters. The very numbers that sought to destroy Kennedy
gave him a chance, for they impeded one another, and, regaining his
feet, he led a wild chase across a vacant lot, pursued by a hooting
mob as if he were a mad dog. The crowd that filled the street
almost as far as eye could reach now began to sway back and forth
as if coming under the influence of some new impulse, and Merwyn
was so wedged in that he had to move with the others. Being tall
he saw that Kennedy, after the most brutal treatment, was rescued
almost by a miracle, apparently more dead than alive. It also
became clear to him that the least suspicion of his character and
purpose would cost him his life instantly. He therefore resolved
on the utmost self-control. He was ready to risk his life, but not
to throw it away uselessly,--not at least till he knew that Marian
was safe. It was his duty now to investigate the mob, not fight
it.

The next excitement was caused by the cry, "The soldiers are coming!"

These proved to be a small detachment of the invalid corps, who
showed their comprehension of affairs by firing over the rioters'
heads, thinking to disperse them by a little noise. The mob settled
the question of noise by howling as if a menagerie had broken loose,
and, rushing upon the handful of men, snatched their muskets, first
pounding the almost paralyzed veterans, and then chasing them as
a wilderness of wolves would pursue a small array of sheep.

As Merwyn stepped down from a dray, whereon he had witnessed the
scene, he muttered, indiscreetly, "What does such nonsense amount
to!"

A big hulking fellow, carrying a bar of iron, who had stood beside
him, and who apparently had had his suspicions, asked, fiercely,
"An' what did ye expect it wud amount to? An' what's the nonsense
ye're growlin' at? By the holy poker oi belave you're a spy."

"Yis, prove that, and I'll cut his heart out," cried an inebriated
woman, brandishing a knife a foot long.

"Yes, prove it, you thunderin' fool!" cried Merwyn.

"The cops are comin' now, and you want to begin a fight among
ourselves."

True enough, the cry came ringing up the avenue, "The cops comin.'"

"Oh, an' ye's wan uv us, oi'll stan' by ye; but oi've got me eye
on ye, and 'ud think no more o' brainin' ye than a puppy."

"Try brainin' the cops first, if yer know when yer well off," replied
Merwyn, drawing a pistol. "I didn't come out to fight bullies in
our crowd."

The momentary excitement caused by this altercation was swallowed
up by the advent of a squad of police, which wheeled into the avenue
from 43d Street, and checked the pursuit of the bleeding remnants
of the invalid corps. Those immediately around the young man pressed
forward to see what took place, he following, but edging towards
the sidewalk, with the eager purpose to see the first fight between
the mob and the police.



CHAPTER XLII.

THAT WORST OF MONSTERS, A MOB.



AFTER reaching the sidewalk Merwyn soon found a chance to mount
a dry-goods box, that he might better observe the action of the
police and form an idea of their numbers. The moment he saw the
insignificant band he felt that they were doomed men, or else the
spirit abroad was not what he thought it to be, and he had been
witnessing some strong indications of its ruthless nature.

It was characteristic of the young fellow that he did not rush to
the aid of the police. He was able, even in that seething flood
of excitement, to reason coolly, and his thoughts were something
to this effect: "I'm not going to throw away my life and all its
chances and duties because the authorities are so ignorant as to
sacrifice a score or two of their men. I shall not fight at all until
I have seen Marian and Mr. Vosburgh. When I have done something to
insure their safety, or at least to prove that I am not a coward,
I shall know better what to do and how to do it. This outbreak is
not an affair of a few hours. She herself may be exposed to the
fury of these fiends, for I believe her father is, or will be, a
marked man."

Seeing, farther up the avenue, a small balcony as yet unoccupied,
he pushed his way towards it, that he might obtain one more view
of the drift of affairs before taking his course. The hall-door
leading to the second story was open and filled with a crowd of
frightened, unkempt women and children, who gave way before him.
The door of the room opening on the balcony was locked, and, in
response to his repeated knockings, a quavering voice asked what
was wanted.

"You must open instantly," was his reply.

A trembling, gray-haired woman put the door ajar, and he pushed
in at once, saying: "Bolt the door again, madam. I will do you no
harm, and may be able to save you from injury;" and he was out in
the balcony before his assurances were concluded.

"Indeed, sir, I've done no one any wrong, and therefore need no
protection. I only wish to be let alone with my children."

"That you cannot expect with certainty, in view of what is going
on to-day. Do you not know that they are burning houses? As long
as I'm here I'll be a protection. I merely wish the use of this
little outlook for a brief time. So say nothing more, for I must
give my whole attention to the fight."

"Well then, since you are so civil, you can stay; but the street
is full of devils."

He paid no heed to her further lamentations, and looking southward
saw that the police had formed a line across the avenue, and that
such battered remnants of the invalid corps as had escaped were
limping off behind their cover as fast as possible. The presence
of the city's guardians had caused a brief hesitation in the
approaching and broken edge of the rabble. Seeing this the brave
sergeant ordered a charge, which was promptly and swiftly made, the
mob recoiling before it more and more slowly as under pressure it
became denser. There was no more effort to carry out the insane,
rather than humane, tactics of the invalid corps, who had either
fired high or used blank cartridges, for now the police struck
for life with their locust clubs, and the thud of the blows could
often be heard even above the uproar. Every one within reach of
their arms went down, and the majority lay quietly where they fell,
as the devoted little band pressed slowly forward. With regret
Merwyn saw Barney Ghegan among the foremost, his broad red face
streaming with perspiration, and he wielding his club as if it were
the deadliest of shillalahs.

They did indeed strike manfully, and proved what an adequate force
could do. Rioters fell before them on every side. But hopeless
reaping was theirs, with miles of solid, bloodthirsty humanity
before them. Slowly and more falteringly they made their way three
blocks, as far as 46th Street, sustained by the hope of finding
reinforcements there. Instead of these, heavier bodies of the
enemy poured in from the side-streets upon the exhausted men, and
the mob closed behind them from 45th Street, like dark, surging
waves. Then came a mad rush upon the hemmed-in officers, who were
attacked in front and in the rear, with clubs, iron-bars, guns,
and pistols.  Tom, bruised, bleeding, the force that had fought so
gallantly broke, each man striking out for his own life. The vast
heterogeneous crowd now afforded their chief chance for escape.
Dodging behind numbers, taking advantage of the wild confusion
of the swaying, trampling masses, and striking down some direct
opponent, a few got off with slight bruises. There were wonderful
instances of escape. The brave sergeant who had led the squad had
his left wrist broken by an iron bar, but, knocking down two other
assailants, he sprung into a house and bolted the door after him.
An heroic German girl, with none of the stolid phlegm attributed
to her race, lifted the upper mattress of her bed. The sergeant
sprung in and was covered up without a word. There was no time then
for plans and explanations. A moment later the door was broken,
and a score of fierce-visaged men streamed in. Now the girl was
stolidity itself.

"Der cop run out der back door," was all that she could be made to
say in answer to fierce inquiries. Every apartment was examined in
vain, and then the roughs departed in search of other prey. Brave,
simple-hearted girl! She would have been torn to pieces had her
humane strategy been discovered.

But a more memorable act of heroism was reserved for another woman,
Mrs. Eagan, the wife of the man who had rescued Superintendent Kennedy
a short time before. A policeman was knocked down with a hay-bale
rung, and fell at her very feet. In a moment more he would have
been killed, but this woman instantly covered his form with her
own, so that no blow could reach him unless she was first struck.
Then she begged for his life. Even the wild-beast spirit of the mob
was touched, and the pursuers passed on. A monument should have
been built to the woman who, in that pandemonium of passion, could
so risk all for a stranger.

I am not defending Merwyn's course, but sketching a character. His
spirit of strategical observation would have forsaken him had he
witnessed that scene, and indeed it did forsake him as he saw Barney
Ghegan running and making a path for himself by the terrific blows
of his club. Three times he fell but rose again, with the same
indomitable pluck which had won his suit to pretty Sally Maguire.
At last the brave fellow was struck down almost opposite the balcony.
Merwyn knew the man was a favorite of the Vosburghs, and he could
not bear that the brave fellow should be murdered before his very
eyes; yet murdered he apparently was ere Merwyn could reach the
street. Like baffled fiends his pursuers closed upon the unfortunate
man, pounding him and jumping upon him. And almost instantly the
vile hags that followed the marauders like harpies, for the sake
of plunder began stripping his body.

"Stop!" thundered Merwyn, the second he reached the scene, and,
standing over the prostrate form, he levelled a pistol at the throng.
"Now, listen to me," he added. "I don't wish to hurt anybody.
You've killed this man, so let his body alone. I know his wife,
an Irishwoman, and she ought at least to have his body for decent
burial."

"Faix, an he's roight," cried one, who seemed a leader. "We've
killed the man. Let his woife have what's left uv 'im;" and the
crowd broke away, following the speaker.

This was one of the early indications of what was proved
afterwards,--that the mob was hydra-headed, following either its
own impulses or leaders that sprung up everywhere.

An abandoned express-wagon stood near, and into this Merwyn, with
the help of a bystander, lifted the insensible man. The young fellow
then drove, as rapidly as the condition of the streets permitted,
to the nearest hospital. A few yards carried him beyond those who
had knowledge of the affair, and after that he was unmolested. It
was the policy of the rioters to have the bodies of their friends
disappear as soon as possible. Poor Ghegan had been stripped to
his shirt and drawers, and so was not recognized as a "cop."

Leaving him at the hospital, with brief explanations, Merwyn was
about to hasten away, when the surgeon remarked, "The man is dead,
apparently."

"I can't help it," cried Merwyn. "I'll bring his wife as soon as
possible. Of course you will do all in your power;" and he started
away on a run.

A few moments later Barney Ghegan was taken to the dead-house.



CHAPTER XLIII.

THE "COWARD."



MERWYN now felt that he had carried out the first part of his plan.
He had looked into the murderous eyes of the mob, and learned
its spirit and purpose. Already he reproached himself for leaving
Marian alone so long, especially as columns of smoke were rising
throughout the northern part of the city. It seemed an age since
he had seen that first cloud of the storm, as he emerged from the
park after his quiet ride, but it was not yet noon.

As he sped through the streets, running where he dared, and fortunately
having enough of the general aspect of a rioter to be unmolested,
he noticed a new feature in the outbreak, one that soon became
a chief characteristic,--the hatred of negroes and the sanguinary
pursuit of them everywhere.

"Another danger for the Vosburghs," he groaned. "They have a colored
servant, who must be spirited off somewhere instantly."

Avoiding crowds, he soon reached the quiet side-street on which
Marian lived, and was overjoyed to find it almost deserted. Mammy
Borden herself answered his impatient ring, and was about to shut
the door on so disreputable a person as he now appeared to be, when
he shouldered it open, turned, locked and chained it with haste.

"What do you mean, sir? and who are you?" Marian demanded, running
from the parlor on hearing the expostulations of her servant.

"Have patience, Miss Vosburgh."

"Oh, it is you, Mr. Merwyn. Indeed I have need of patience. An
hour ago papa sent a message from down town, saying: 'Don't leave
the house to-day. Serious trouble on foot.' Since then not a word,
only wild-looking people running through the street, the ringing of
fire-bells, and the sounds of some kind of disturbance. What does
it all mean? and why do you bar and bolt everything so timidly?"
and the excited girl poured out her words in a torrent.

Merwyn's first words were exasperating, and the girl had already
passed almost beyond self-control. "Has any one seen your colored
servant to-day?"

"What if they have? What does your unseemly guise mean? Oh that my
brave friends were here to go out and meet the rabble like soldiers!
There's an outbreak, of course; we've been expecting it; but
certainly MEN should not fear the canaille of the slums. It gives
me a sickening impression, Mr. Merwyn, to see you rush in, almost
force your way in, and disguised too, as if you sought safety by
identifying yourself with those who would quail before a brave,
armed man. Pardon me if I'm severe, but I feel that my father is
in danger, and if I don't hear from him soon I shall take Mammy
Borden as escort and go to his office. Whoever is abroad, they
won't molest women, and I'M NOT AFRAID."

"By so doing you would disobey your father, who has told you not
to leave the house to-day."

"But I can't bear inaction and suspense at such a time."

"You must bear it, Miss Vosburgh. Seeing the mood you are in,
I shall not permit that door to be opened to any one except your
father or some one that you recognize."

"You cannot help yourself," she replied, scornfully, approaching
the door.

He was there before her, and, taking out the key, put it in his
pocket.

"Oh, this is shameful!" she cried, blushing scarlet "Can your fears
carry you so far?"

"Yes, and much farther, if needful," he replied, with a grim laugh.
"When you are calm enough to listen to me, to be sane and just,
I'll explain. Until you are I shall remain master here and protect
you and your home." Then, in a tone of stern authority, he added:
"Mrs.  Borden, sit yonder in that darkened parlor, and don't move
unless I tell you to hide. Then hide in earnest, as you value your
life."

"Would you not also like a hiding-place provided, Mr. Merwyn?"
Marian asked, almost beside herself with anger and anxiety.

His reply was to go to the window and look up and down the still
quiet street.

"A respite," he remarked, then turned to the colored woman, and in
a tone which she instantly obeyed, said, "Go to that parlor, where
you cannot be seen from the street." Then to Marian, "I have no
authority over you."

"No, I should hope not. Is there no escape from this intrusion?"

"None for the present," he replied, coldly. "You settled it long
since that I was a coward, and now that I am not a gentleman.
I shall make no self-defence except to your father, whom I expect
momentarily. He cannot leave you alone to-day an instant longer
than is unavoidable. I wish to remind you of one thing, however:
your soldier friends have long been your pride."

"Oh that these friends were here to day!"

"They would be surprised at your lack of quiet fortitude."

"Must I be humiliated in my own home?"

"You are humiliating yourself. Had you treated me with even your
old cool toleration and civility, I would have told you all that
has happened since morning; but you have left me no chance for
anything except to take the precautions heedful to save your home
and yourself. You think I fled here as a disguised fugitive. When
shall I forget this crowning proof of your estimate and esteem?
You see I did not come unarmed," partially drawing a revolver. "I
repeat, you are proud of your soldier friends. You have not learned
that the first duty of a soldier is to obey orders; and you have your
father's orders. Obey them quietly, and you are under no necessity
to speak to me again. When your father comes I will relieve you of
my hated presence. If he wishes it, I will still serve you both for
his sake, for he always kept a little faith and fairness for me.
Now, regard me as a sentinel, a common soldier, to whom you need
not speak until your father comes;" and he turned to the windows
and began fastening them.

He, too, was terribly incensed. He had come to interpose his life
between her and danger, and her words and manner had probed a deep
wound that had long been bleeding. The scenes he had witnessed had
wrought him up to a mood as stern and uncompromising as the death
he soon expected to meet. When utterly off her guard she had shown
him, as he believed, her utter contempt and detestation, and at
that moment there was not a more reckless man in the city.

But his bitter words and indomitable will had quieted her As he
stood motionless upon guard by the window, his was not the attitude
of a cowering fugitive. She now admitted that her wild excitement
and her disposition to rush to her father, contrary to his injunction,
were unworthy of her friends and of herself.

There had been panic that morning in the city, and she had caught
the contagion in a characteristic way. She had had no thought of
hiding and cowering, but she had been on the eve of carrying out
rash impulses. She had given way to uncontrollable excitement; and
if her father should learn all she feared he would send her from
the city as one not to be trusted. What should she think of that
silent, motionless sentinel at the window? Suppose, after all,
she had misunderstood and misjudged him,--suppose he HAD come for
her protection. In view of this possibility which she had now to
entertain, how grossly she had insulted him! If her father came and
approved of his course, how could she ever look one so wronged in
the face again? She must try to soften her words a little.  Woman-like,
she believed that she could certainly soothe a man as far as she
deemed it judicious, and then leave the future for further diplomacy.
Coward, or not, he had now made her afraid of him.

"Mr. Merwyn," she began.

He made no response whatever.

Again, in a lower and more timid voice, she repeated his name.

Without turning, he said: "Miss Vosburgh, I'm on guard. You
interfere with my duty. There is no reason for further courtesies
between us. If you are sufficiently calm, aid Mrs. Borden in packing
such belongings as she actually needs. She must leave this house
as soon as possible."

"What!" cried the girl, hotly, "send this faithful old woman out
into the streets? Never."

"I did not say, 'out into the streets.' When your father comes one
of his first efforts will be to send her to a place of safety. No
doubt he has already warned her son to find a hiding-place."

"Great heavens! why don't you explain?"

"What chance have I had to explain? Ah! come here, and all will be
plain enough."

She stood at his side and saw a gang of men and boys' chasing
a colored man, with the spirit of bloodhounds in their tones and
faces.

"Now I'se understan', too, Mass'r Merwyn," said the trembling
colored woman, looking over their shoulders.

"Go back," he said, sternly. "If you were seen, that yelling pack
of fiends would break into this house as if it were paste-board.
Obey orders, both of you, and keep out of sight."

Awed, overwhelmed, they stole to the back parlor; but Marian soon
faltered, "O Mr. Merwyn, won't you forgive me?"

He made no reply, and a moment later he stepped to the door. Mr.
Vosburgh hastily entered, and Marian rushed into his arms.

"What, Merwyn! you here? Thank God my darling was not alone! Well,
Merwyn, you've got to play the soldier now, and so have we all."

"I shall not 'play the soldier';" was the reply, in quick, firm
utterance. "But no matter about me, except that my time is limited.
I wish to report to you certain things which I have seen, and leave
it to your decision whether I can serve you somewhat, and whether
Miss Vosburgh should remain in the city. I would also respectfully
suggest that your colored servant be sent out of town at once.
I offer my services to convey her to New Jersey, if you know of a
near refuge there, or else to my place in the country."

"Good God, Merwyn! don't you know that by such an act you take your
life in your hand?"

"I have already taken it in my hand, an open hand at that. It has
become of little value to me. But we have not a second to lose. I
have a very sad duty to perform at once, and only stayed till you
came. If you have learned the spirit abroad to-day, you know that
your household was and is in danger."

"Alas! I know it only too well. The trouble had scarcely begun
before I was using agents and telegraph wires. I have also been
to police headquarters. Only the sternest sense of duty to the
government kept me so long from my child; but a man at Washington
is depending on me for information."

"So I supposed. I may be able to serve you, if you can bring
yourself to employ a coward. I shall be at police headquarters,
and can bring you intelligence. When not on duty you should be in
the streets as little as possible. But, first, I would respectfully
suggest that Miss Vosburgh retire, for I have things to say to you
which she should not hear."

"This to me, who listened to the story of Gettysburg?"

"All was totally different then."

"And I, apparently, was totally different. I deserve your reproach;
I should be sent to the nursery."

"I think you should go and help Mrs. Borden," said Merwyn, quietly.

"It's impossible to send Mammy Borden away just yet,--not till
darkness comes to aid our effort," said Mr. Vosburgh, decisively.
"You can serve me greatly, Merwyn, and your country also, if you
have the nerve. It will require great risks. I tell you so frankly.
This is going to prove worse than open battle. O Marian, would to
God you were with your mother!"

"In that case I would come to you if I had to walk. I have wronged
and insulted you, Mr. Merwyn; I beg your pardon. Now don't waste
another moment on me, for I declare before God I shall remain with
my father unless taken away by force; and you would soon find that
the most fatal course possible."

"Well, these are lurid times. I dreaded the thing enough, but now
that it has come so unexpectedly, it is far worse--But enough of
this. Mr. Merwyn, are you willing to take the risks that I shall?"

"Yes, on condition that I save you unnecessary risks."

"Oh what a fool I've been!" Marian exclaimed, with one of her
expressive gestures.

"Mr. Vosburgh," said Merwyn, "there is one duty which I feel I ought
to perform first of all. Mrs. Ghegan, your old waitress, should be
taken to her husband."

"What! Barney? What has happened to him?"

"I fear he is dead. I disguised myself as you see--"

"Yes, sensibly. No well-dressed man is safe on some streets."

"Certainly not where I've been. I determined to learn the character
of the mob, and I have mingled among them all the morning. I saw
the invalid corps put to flight instantly, and the fight with a
handful of police that followed. I looked on, for to take part was
to risk life and means of knowledge uselessly. The savage, murderous
spirit shown on every side also proved that your household might
be in danger while you were absent. The police fought bravely
and vainly.  They were overpowered as a matter of course, and yet
the police will prove the city's chief defence. When I saw Barney
running and fighting heroically for his life, I couldn't remain
spectator any longer, but before I could reach him he was prostrate,
senseless, and nearly stripped. With my revolver and a little
persuasion I secured his body, and took it to a hospital. A surgeon
thought he was dead. I don't know, but that his wife should be
informed and go to him seems only common humanity."

"Well, Merwyn, I don't know," said Mr. Vosburgh, dubiously; "we
are in the midst of a great battle, and when one is down--Well,
the cause must be first, you know. Whether this is a part of
the rebellion or not, it will soon be utilized by the Confederate
leaders. What I say of Barney I would say of myself and mine,--all
private considerations must give--"

"I understand," interrupted Merwyn, impatiently. "But in taking Mrs.
Ghegan across town I could see and learn as much as if alone, and
she would even be a protection to me. In getting information one
will have to use every subterfuge. I think nothing will be lost by
this act. From the hospital I will go direct to police headquarters,
and stipulate as to my service,--for I shall serve in my own way,--and
then, if there is no pressing duty, I will report to you again."

Mr. Vosburgh sprung up and wrung the young fellow's hand as he
said: "We have done you great wrong. I, too, beg your pardon. But
more than all the city to me is my duty to the general government.
To a certain extent I must keep aloof from the actual scenes
of violence, or I fail my employers and risk vast interests. If
consistently with your ideas of duty you can aid me now, I shall
be more grateful than if you saved my life. Information now may be
vital to the nation's safety. You may find me at police headquarters
an hour or two hence."

"It is settled then, and events will shape future action;" and he
was turning hastily away.

A hand fell upon his arm, and never had he looked upon a face in
which shame and contrition were so blended.

"What will be your future action towards me?" Marian asked, as she
detained him. "Will you have no mercy on the girl who was so weak
as to be almost hysterical?"

"You have redeemed your weakness," he replied, coldly. "You are
your old high-bred, courageous self, and you will probably cease
to think of me as a coward before the day is over. Good-afternoon;"
and in a moment he was gone.

"I have offended him beyond hope," she said, as she turned, drooping,
to her father.

"Never imagine it, darling," her father replied, with a smile. "His
lip quivered as you spoke, and I have learned to read the faintest
signs in a man. You have both been overwrought and in no condition
for calm, natural action. Mervvyn will relent. You lost your poise
through excitement, not cowardice, and he, young and all undisciplined,
has witnessed scenes that might appall a veteran. But now all must
be courage and action. Since you will remain with me you must be a
soldier, and be armed like one. Come with me to my room, and I will
give you a small revolver. I am glad that you have amused yourself
with the dangerous toy, and know how to use it. Then you must help
me plan a disguise which will almost deceive your eyes. Keeping
busy, my dear, will prove the best tonic for your nerves. Mammy
Borden, you must go to your room and stay there till we find a way
of sending you to a place of safety. After you have disappeared
for a time I'll tell the other servant that you have gone away. I
sent your son home before I left the office, and he, no doubt, is
keeping out of harm's way."

The old woman courtesied, but there was a dogged, hunted look in
her eyes as she crept away, muttering, "Dis is what Zeb call de
'lan' ob de free!'"



CHAPTER XLIV.

A WIFE'S EMBRACE.



"O PAPA," cried Marian, after reaching the library, "we let Mr.
Merwyn go without a lunch, and it's nearly two o'clock. Nor do I
believe you have had a mouthful since breakfast, and I've forgotten
all about providing anything. Oh, how signally I have failed on
the first day of battle!"

"You are not the first soldier, by untold millions, who has done
so; but you have not shown the white feather yet."

"When I do that I shall expire from shame. You rummage for a
disguise, and I'll be back soon."

She hastened to the kitchen, and at a glance saw that the Irish
cook had fled, taking not a little with her. The range fire was
out, and the refrigerator and the store-closet had been ravaged.
She first barred and bolted all the doors, and then the best she
could bring her father was crackers and milk and some old Sherry
wine; but she nearly dropped these when she saw a strange man, as
she supposed, emerge from his bedroom.

Mr. Vosburgh's laugh reassured her, and he said: "I fancy I shall
pass among strangers, since you don't know me. Nothing could be
better than the milk and crackers. No wine. My head must be clearer
to-day than it ever was before. So the Irish Biddy has gone with
her plunder? Good riddance to her. She would have been a spy in the
camp. I'll bring home food that won't require cooking, and you'll
have to learn to make coffee, for Merwyn and others will, no doubt,
often come half dead from fatigue. All we can do is to forage
in such shops as are open, and you'll have to take the office of
commissary at once. You must also be my private secretary. As fast
as I write these despatches and letters copy them. I can eat and
write at the same time. In an hour I must go out."

"I won't play the fool again," said the girl, doggedly.

"Drink this glass of milk first, while I run down for more, and
satisfy my mind as to the fastenings, etc."

"But, papa--"

"Marian," he said, gravely, "you can stay with me only on one
condition: you must obey orders."

"That is what Mr. Merwyn said. Oh what a credit I've been to my
military friends!" and with difficulty she drank the milk.

"You are a promising young recruit," was the smiling reply. "We'll
promote you before the week's out."

In five minutes he was back, cool, yet almost as quick as light in
every movement.

The despatches she copied were unintelligible to Marian, but the
one to whom they were addressed had the key. The copies of the
letters were placed in a secret drawer.

When their tasks were finished, Mr. Vosburgh looked up and down
the street and was glad to find it comparatively empty. The storm
of passion was raging elsewhere.

He closed all the shutters of the house, giving it a deserted aspect,
then said to his daughter. "You must admit no one in my absence,
and parley with no one who does not give the password, 'Gettysburg
and Little Round Top.' If men should come who say these words, tell
them to linger near without attracting attention, and come again
after I return. Admit Merwyn, of course, for you know his voice.
It is a terrible trial to leave you alone, but there seems to be
no prospect of trouble in this locality. At all events, I must do
my duty, cost what it may. Be vigilant, and do not worry unnecessarily
if I am detained."

"I am bent on retrieving myself, papa; and I'd rather die than be
so weak again."

"That's my brave girl. You won't die. After this venture, which I
must make at once, I shall be able to take greater precautions;"
and with a fond look and kiss, he hastened away through the basement
entrance, Marian fastening it securely after him.

We must now follow Merwyn's fortunes for a time. Rapidly, yet
vigilantly he made his way up town and crossed Third Avenue. He soon
observed that the spirit of lawlessness was increasing. Columns of
smoke were rising from various points, indicating burning buildings,
and in Lexington Avenue he witnessed the unblushing sack of beautiful
homes, from which the inmates had been driven in terror for their
lives.

"It will be strange if Mr. Vosburgh's home escapes," he thought.
"Some one must know enough of his calling to bring upon him and
his the vengeance of the mob. I shall do the best I can for him and
his daughter, but to-day has slain the last vestige of hope beyond
that of compelling her respect. Wholly off her guard, she showed
her deep-rooted detestation, and she can never disguise it again.
Regret and mortification at her conduct, a wish to make amends
and to show gratitude for such aid as I may give her father, will
probably lead her to be very gracious; at the same time I shall ever
know that in her heart is a repugnance which she cannot overcome.
A woman can never love a man towards whom she has entertained
thoughts like hers;" and with much bitter musings, added to his
reckless impulses, he made his way to the region in which Mrs.
Ghegan had her rooms.

Finding a livery stable near he hired a hack, securing it by
threats as well as money, and was soon at the door of the tenement
he sought.

Mrs. Ghegan showed her scared, yet pretty face in response to his
knock.

"Ye's brought me bad news," she said, instantly, beginning to sob.

"Yes, Mrs. Ghegan; but if you love your husband you will show it
now. I have come to take you to him. He has been wounded."

"Is it Mr. Merwyn?"

"Yes; I've just come from Mr. Vosburgh, and he will do what he can
for you when he has a chance. They know about your trouble. Now
make haste, for we've not a moment to lose in reaching the hospital."

"The Lord knows I love Barney as me loife, an' that I'd go to him
through fire and blood. Oi'll kape ye no longer than to tie me
bonnet on;" and this she was already doing with trembling fingers.

Locking the door, she took the key with her, and was soon in the
hack. Merwyn mounted the box with the driver, knowing that openness
was the best safeguard against suspicions that might soon prove
fatal. At one point they were surrounded and stopped by the rioters,
who demanded explanations.

"Clear out, ye bloody divils!" cried Sally, who did not count
timidity among her foibles; "wud ye kape a woman from goin' to her
husband, a-dyin' beloikes?"

"Oh, let us pass," said Merwyn, in a loud tone. "A cop knocked her
husband on the head, and we are taking her to him."

"Och! ye are roight, me mon. We'll let onybody pass who spakes in
her swate brogue;" and the crowd parted.

Reaching the hospital, Sally rushed into the office with the
breathless demand, "Where's Barney?"

Merwyn recognized the surgeon he had met before, and said: "You
know the man I brought a few hours since. This is his wife."

The surgeon looked grave and hesitated.

"What have ye done wid him?" Sally almost screamed. "Are ye no
better than the bloody villains in the strates?"

"My good woman," began the surgeon, "you must be more composed and
reasonable. We try to save life when there is life--"

"Where is he?" shrieked the woman.

The surgeon, accustomed to similar scenes, nodded to an attendant,
and said, gravely, "Show her."

Merwyn took the poor woman's hand to restrain as well as to reassure
her, saying, with sympathies deeply touched, "Mrs. Ghegan, remember
you are not friendless, whatever happens."

"Quick! quick!" she said to her guide. "Och! what's a wurld uv
frin's if I lose Barney? Poor man! poor man! He once said I blew
hot and could, but oi'd give him me loife's blood now."

To Merwyn's sorrow they were led to the dead-house, and there lay
the object of their quest, apparently lifeless, his battered face
almost past recognition. But Sally knew him instantly, and stared
for a moment as if turned to stone; then, with a wild cry, she threw
herself upon him, moaning, sobbing, and straining his unconscious
form to her breast.

Merwyn felt that it would be best to let her paroxysm of grief expend
itself unrestrained; but a bitter thought crossed his mind,--"I may
be in as bad a plight as poor Barney before the day closes, yet no
one would grieve for me like that."

Suddenly Mrs. Ghegan became still. In her embrace her hand had
rested over her husband's heart, and had felt a faint pulsation.
A moment later she sprung up and rushed back to the office. Merwyn
thought that she was partially demented, and could scarcely keep
pace with her.

Bursting in at the door, she cried: "Och! ye bloody spalpanes, to
put a loive man where ye did! Come wid me, an' oi'll tache ye that
I knows more than ye all."

"Please satisfy her," said Merwyn to the surgeon, who was inclined
to ignore what he regarded as the wild ravings of a grief-crazed
woman.

"Well, well, if it will do any good; but we have too much to do
to-day for those who have a chance--"

"Come on, or oi'll drag ye there," the wife broke in.

"When I've satisfied you, my good woman, you must become quiet and
civil. Other wives have lost their husbands--"

But Sally was already out of hearing. Reaching the supposed corpse,
the deeply excited woman said, with eyes blazing through her tears,
"Put yez hand on his heart."

The surgeon did so, and almost instantly the expression of his face
changed, and he said sharply to the attendant, "Bring a stretcher
with bearers at once." Then to Sally: "You are right; he is alive,
but there was no such pulsation as this when he was brought here.
Now be quiet and cheer up, and we may help you save his life. You
can stay and take care of him."

Merwyn again took the wife's trembling hand and said, earnestly:
"Mrs. Ghegan, obey the surgeon's orders exactly. Be quiet, gentle,
and self-controlled, and Barney may outlive us all."

"Faix, Mr. Merwyn, now that oi've hope I'll be whist as a baby
asleep. Ye knew me onst as a light, giddy gurl, but oi'll watch
over Barney wid such a slapeless eye as wud shame his own mither."

And she kept her word. For days and nights her husband remained
unconscious, wavering between life and death. The faithful woman,
as indifferent to the tumult and havoc in the city as if it were
in another land, sat beside him and furthered all efforts in a
winning fight.

Merwyn saw him in a hospital ward, surrounded by skilful hands,
before he took his leave.

"God bless ye!" Sally began. "If yez hadn't brought me--"

But, pressing her hand warmly, he did not wait to hear her grateful
words.



CHAPTER XLV.

THE DECISIVE BATTLE.



MERWYN was now very anxious to reach police headquarters in
Mulberry Street, for he felt that the safety of the city, as well
as all personal interests dear to him, depended upon adequate and
well-organized resistance.

The driver, having been promised a handsome reward to remain, still
waited. Indeed, he had gained the impression that Merwyn was in
sympathy with the ruthless forces then in the ascendant, and he
felt safer in his company than if returning alone.

Mounting the box again, Merwyn directed the driver to make his way
through the more open streets to Broadway and 14th Street.

They had not gone far through the disturbed districts when four
rough-looking men stopped them, took possession of the hack, and
insolently required that they should be driven to Union Square. The
last ugly-visaged personage to enter the vehicle paused a moment,
drew a revolver, and said, "An' ye don't 'bey orders, this little
bull-dog will spake to ye next."

The Jehu looked with a pallid face at Merwyn, who said, carelessly:
"It's all right. They are going in my direction."

The quartet within soon began to entertain suspicions of Merwyn,
and the one who had last spoken, apparently the leader, thrust his
head out of the window and shouted: "Shtop! Who the divil is that
chap on the box wid ye?"

"I'll answer for myself," said Merwyn, seeking to employ the
vernacular as well as the appearance of an American mechanic. "The
driver don't know anything about me. A cop knocked a friend of mine
on the head this morning, and I've been taking his wife to him."

The driver now took his cue, and added, "Faix, and a nice, dacent
little Irishwoman she was, bedad."

"Then ye're wan wid us?" cried the leader of the gang.

"It looks mighty like it," was the laughing reply. "This would be
a poor place for me to hang out, if I was afraid of you or your
friends."

"Yez may bet your loife on that. How coomes it ye're so hand-and-glove
wid an Irishman, when ye spake no brogue at all?"

"Thunder! man, do you think no one but Irishmen are going to have
a fist in this scrimmage? I'm as ready to fight as you are, and am
only going down town to join my own gang. Why shouldn't I have an
Irishman for a friend, if he's a good fellow, I'd like to know?"

"Beloikes they'll be yez best frin's. All roight. Dhrive on and
moind your eye, or the bull-dog will bark."

They ordered a halt several times, while one and another went to
a saloon for a drink. It was fast becoming evident that, should
there be any want of courage or recklessness, whiskey would supply
the lack.

Merwyn preserved nonchalant indifference, even when his disreputable
companions were approached by those with whom they were in league,
and information and orders were exchanged which he partially
overheard. Although much was said in a jargon that he scarcely
understood, he gathered that nothing less was on foot than an attack
on police headquarters, in the hope of crushing at the start the
power most feared. Therefore, while he maintained his mask, every
sense was on the alert.

At length they reached Union Square, and the occupants of the
hack alighted. Two went east and one west, while the leader said
to Merwyn, who had also jumped down: "Take me to your gang. We're
afther needing ivery divil's son of 'im widin the next hour or so.
It's a big game we're playin' now, me lad, an' see that ye play
square and thrue, or your swateheart'll miss ye the noight."

"You'll have to have a bigger crowd on Broadway before you'll get
our fellows out," Merwyn replied. "We're not going to face the cops
until there's enough on hand to give us a livin' chance."

"There'll be plenty on hand--more'n ye ever seed in yer loife--before
ye're an hour older. So lead on, and shtop your palaver. I'm not
quite sure on ye yet."

"You soon will be," replied Merwyn, with his reckless and misleading
laugh. "My course is down Broadway to Bleecker Street and then
west.  I can show you as pretty a lot of fellows as you'll want to
see, and most of us are armed."

"All roight. Broadway suits me. I want to see if the coast is
clear."

"So do I, and what the cops are about in these diggin's. The right
thing to do is for all hands to pitch right on to them in Mulberry
Street, and then the game's in our own hands."

"If that's the lark we have on foot, can ye promise that yer gang'll
join us?"

"Yes, sir, for we'd know that meant business."

"How many could ye muster?"

"I hardly know. We were a-growin' fast when I left."

"Well, lead on loively. Ivery minute now should give me a dozen
men, an' we want to start the blaze down this way. I tell ye it's
a burning-up town."

"So I should guess from the smoke we see," said Merwyn, with his
old laugh. "Jupiter! there comes a squad of cops."

"Well, what do we care? We're two paceable, dacent citizens,
a-strollin' down Broadway."

"Oh, I'm not afraid," was the careless reply. "I'm going to see
this scrimmage out, and I like the fun. Let's watch the cops cross
the street, and see how they are armed."

As the little squad approached Broadway from a side-street, hastening
to headquarters, the Hibernian firebrand and his supposed ally stood
on the curbstone, A moment later Merwyn struck his companion such
a powerful blow on the temple that he fell in the street, almost
in front of the officers of the law. The young fellow then sprung
upon the stunned and helpless man, and took away his weapons, at
the same time, crying: "Secure him. He's a leader of the mob."

"Yes, and you too, my hard hitter," said the sergeant in command.

"I'll go quietly enough, so long as you take him with me. Be quick
about it, too, for I have news that should be known at headquarters
as soon as possible."

The police now supposed that they recognized one of a band
of detectives, everywhere busy about the city in all kinds of
disguises,--men of wonderful nerve, who rendered the authorities
very important services, and often captured the most dangerous of
the ruffianly leaders.

The fellow in question was hustled to his feet, having discovered
Merwyn's gang sooner than he desired. The squad pushed through the
fast-gathering and bewildered crowd, and soon reached headquarters.
The young fellow told his story in the presence of Mr. Vosburgh, who
evidently had credentials which secured for him absolute confidence
on the part of the authorities.

Merwyn soon learned to recognize in his interlocutor, the
superintendent of the metropolitan police, a man to whose active
brain, iron will, and indomitable courage, the city chiefly owed
its deliverance,--Thomas C. Acton.

Confirmation of the sinister tidings was already coming in fast. The
brutal mob that had sacked and burned the Colored Orphan Asylum was
moving southward, growing with accessions from different quarters,
like a turbulent torrent. Its destination was well understood,
and Acton knew that the crisis had come thus early. He frequently
conferred with Chief Clerk Seth C. Hawley, upon whom, next to
himself, rested the heaviest burdens of those terrific days.

Merwyn offered his services on the force, stipulating, however,
that he might be in a measure his own master, since he had other
duties to perform, at the same time promising to do his share of
the fighting.

Mr. Vosburgh drew Acton to one side, and made a few whispered
explanations. Merwyn's request was granted at once, Acton adding,
"There will be a general call in the morning papers for the enrolment
of citizens as policemen."

The moments were crowded with preparations, counsels, and decisions.
The telegraph wires, concentring there from all parts of the city,
were constantly ticking off direful intelligence; but the most
threatening fact was the movement down Broadway of unknown thousands,
maddened by liquor, and confident from their unchecked excesses
during the day. They knew that they had only to destroy the handful
of men at police headquarters and the city was theirs to plunder
and destroy with hyena-like savagery.

Acton, now cognizant of the worst, went to the police commissioners'
room and said: "Gentlemen, the crisis has come. A battle must be
fought now, and won, too, or all is lost."

None doubted the truth of his word; but who should lead the small
force at hand? Inspector Carpenter's name was suggested, for he was
known to be a man of great resolution and courage, and leadership
naturally fell to him as one of the oldest and most experienced
members of the force. Acton instructed him not only that a battle
must be fought immediately, but also that it MUST be successful.

Carpenter listened quietly, comprehending both the peril and the
necessity; then after a moment's hesitation he rose to his full
height, and with an impressive gesture and a terrible oath said,
"I will go, and I'll win that fight, or Daniel Carpenter will never
come back a live man."

He instantly summoned his insignificant force, and the order, "Fall
in, men," resounded through the street.

Merwyn, with a policeman's coat buttoned over his blouse, avowed
his purpose of going with them; and his exploit of the afternoon,
witnessed and bruited by members of the force, made his presence
welcome.

It was now between five and six in the evening. The air was hot
and sultry, and in the west lowered heavy clouds, from which the
thunder muttered. Emblematic they seemed to such as heeded them in
the intense excitement.

Few in the great city at that hour were so deeply stirred as Merwyn.
The tremendous excitements of the day, to which his experience at
Mr. Vosburgh's residence had chiefly contributed, were cumulative
in their effect. Now he had reached the goal of his hope, and had
obtained an opportunity, far beyond his wildest dreams, to redeem
his character from the imputation of cowardice. He was part of the
little force which might justly be regarded as a "forlorn hope."
The fate of the city depended upon its desperate valor, and no one
knew this better than he, who, from early morning, had witnessed the
tiger-spirit of the mob. If the thousands, every minute approaching
nearer, should annihilate the handful of men who alone were present
to cope with them, that very night the city would be at the mercy
of the infuriated rioters, and not a home would be secure from
outrage.

The column of police was formed scarcely two hundred strong.
Merwyn, as a new recruit, was placed in its rear, a position that
he did not mean to keep when the fight should begin. Like the
others, he was armed with a locust-club, but he had two revolvers
on his person, and these he knew how to use with fatal precision.
From an open window Superintendent Acton shouted, "Inspector
Carpenter, my orders are, Make no arrests, bring no prisoners, but
kill--kill every time."

It was to be a life-and-death struggle. The mob would have no mercy:
the officers of the law were commanded to show none.

As Carpenter went forward to the head of his column, his face as
dark with his sanguinary puipose as the lowering west, Merwyn saw
that Mr. Vosburgh, quiet and observant, was present.

The government officer, with his trained instincts, knew just where
to be, in order to obtain the most vital information. He now joined
Merwyn, and was struck by his extreme pallor, a characteristic of
the young fellow under extreme emotion.

"Mr. Merwyn," he said, hastily, "you have done enough for two
to-day, You need rest. This is going to be a desperate encounter."

"Forward!" shouted Carpenter.

A proud smile lighted up Merwyn's features, as he said: "Good-by.
Thank you for such faith as you have had in me;" and he moved off
with the others.

Mr. Vosburgh muttered, "I shall see this fight, and I shall solve
that embodied mystery whom we have thought a coward;" and he followed
so near as to keep Merwyn under his eye.

A black, sulphurous cloud was rising in the west. This little
dark blue column approaching from the east, marching down Bleecker
Street, was insignificant in comparison, yet it was infinitely the
more dangerous, and charged with forces that would scatter death
and wounds such as the city had never witnessed.

No words were spoken by the resolute men. The stony pavement
echoed their measured, heavy tread. Turning into Broadway they saw
the enemy but a block and a half away, a howling mob, stretching
northward as far as the eye could reach. It was sweeping the
thoroughfare, thousands in line. Pedestrians, stages, vehicles of
all kinds, were vanishing down side-streets. Pallid shopkeepers
were closing their stores as sailors take in sail before a cyclone.

Carpenter halted his command, and sent small detachments up parallel
side-streets, that they might come around and fall upon the flanks
of the mob.

As these men were moving off on the double-quick, Merwyn left his
squad and said to Carpenter: "I am a citizen, and I stipulated that
I should fight as I chose. I choose to fight with you."

"Well, well, so long as you fight," was the hasty answer. "You shall
have plenty of it, if you keep near me." Then he added, sternly:
"Mark you, young fellow, if you show the white feather I'll knock
you over myself. Those devils yonder must be taught that the one
thing this force can't do is run."

"Brain me if I do not do my whole duty," was the firm reply; and
he took his place at the right of the front rank.

A moment later he was startled by Mr. Vosburgh, who seized his hand
and said, earnestly: "Merwyn, no man ever did a braver thing than
you are doing now. I can't forgive myself that I wronged you in my
thoughts."

"You had reason. I'm doing no better than these other men, and I
have a thousand-fold their motive." Then he added, gravely, "I do
not think you ought to be here and your daughter alone."

"I know my duty," was the quiet reply; "and there are those who
must be informed of the issue of this fight as soon as it is over.
Once more, farewell, my brave friend;" and he disappeared.

Carpenter was holding his force until his flanking detachments should
reach their co-operative points. When the mob saw the police, it
advanced more slowly, as if it, too, instinctively recognized that
the supreme crisis was near. In the van of the dense mass a large
board was borne aloft, inscribed with the words, "No Draft!" and
beside it, in mocking irony, floated the stars and stripes.

The hesitation of the rioters was but brief. They mistook the
inaction of the few policemen opposed to them for timidity, and the
immense masses behind pushed them forward. Therefore, with a new
impetus, the howling, yelling throng approached, and Merwyn could
distinguish the features of the liquor-inflamed, maddened faces that
were already becoming familiar to him. In the sultry July evening
the greater part of the rioters were in their shirt-sleeves, and
they were armed with every description of weapon, iron bars, clubs,
pitchforks, barrel-staves, and not a few with guns and pistols.

Carpenter stood out before his men, watching the approach of his
victims with an expression which only the terrible excitement of
battle can produce. His men, behind him, were like statues. Suddenly
his stentorian command rang out,--

"BY THE RIGHT FLANK, COMPANY FRONT! DOUBLE-QUICK! CHARGE!"

As if the lever of a powerful engine had been pressed, all clubs
were raised aloft, and with swift, even tread the trained, powerful
men rushed after their leader, who kept several paces ahead.

When such a disciplined force, with such a leader, have resolved to
fight till they die, their power is not to be estimated by numbers.
They smote the astonished van of the mob like a thunderbolt, Carpenter
leading by several steps, his face aflame with his desperate resolve.
He dealt the first blow, sending down, bleeding and senseless, a
huge ruffian who was rushing upon him with a club.  A second later
the impetuous officer was in the midst of the mob, giving deadly
blows right and left.

His men closed up with him instantly, Merwyn being among the first
to reach his side, and for a few moments the thud of clubs on human
skulls was heard above every other sound. Mr. Vosburgh, keeping a
little to the rear on the sidewalk, watched Merwyn, who held his
attention almost equally with the general issues of this decisive
battle. The youth was dealing blows like an athlete, and keeping
pace with the boldest. The windows of the buildings on Broadway
were now crowded by thousands witnessing the conflict, while Mr.
Vosburgh, following closely, heard the ominous "sing" of more than
one bullet. The man who had come that day to the protection of his
home and child should not be left to the mercy of strangers, should
he fall. To his surprise he soon saw that Merwyn had shifted his
club to his left hand, and that he was fighting with a revolver. He
watched the young fellow with renewed interest, and observed that
his aim was as deliberate as it was quick, and that often when he
fired some prominent figure in the mob dropped.

"By all the powers! if he is not coolly shooting the leaders, and
picking out his man every time!" ejaculated the astonished officer.

The police made a clean sweep of the street, and only prostrate
forms were left in their rear. Therefore Mr. Vosburgh could almost
keep pace with Merwyn.

The rioters soon became appalled at their punishment. Like a dark
blue wave, with bloody clubs forming a crimson crest, that unfaltering
rank of men steadily advanced and ingulfed them. All within reach
went down. Those of the police who were wounded still fought on,
or, if disabled, the ranks closed up, and there was no cessation
in the fatal hail of blows. The rioters in front would have given
way, had not the thousands in their rear pressed them forward to
their fate.

The judicious Carpenter had provided for this feature of the
strife, for now his detachments were smiting both flanks of the
human monster with the same terrific vengeance dealt upon its head.
The undisciplined herd fought desperately for a time, then gave
way to panic and the wild effort to escape. Long since a policeman
had seized the national flag, and bore it triumphantly with his
left hand while he fought with his right. The confusion and uproar
were beyond description. The rioters were yelling their conflicting
views as to what ought to be done, while others were shouting to
those in their rear to cease crowding forward. The pressure down
Broadway now came from a desire to escape the police. In brief,
a large section of the mob was hemmed in, and it surged backwards
and forwards and up against the stores, while hundreds, availing
themselves of the side-streets, ran for their lives. In a very
short time what had been a compact, threatening mass was flying in
fragments, as if disrupted by dynamite, but the pursuing clubs of
Carpenter's men never ceased their levelling blows while a rioter's
head was in reach. Far northward the direful tidings of defeat
spread through the ragged hosts as yet unharmed, and they melted
away, to come together again and again during the lurid days and
nights which followed.

The Gettysburg of the conflict had been fought and won. Unspeakable
outrages and heavy battles were yet to come; but this decisive
victory gave the authorities advantage which they never lost, and
time to organize more effective resistance with the aid of the
military. The police saved the city.

Broadway looked like a battle-field, prostrate forms strewing its
crimsoned pavement throughout the area of the conflict. The majority
were left where they fell, and were carried off by their friends.

As the melee was drawing to a close, Mr. Vosburgh saw Merwyn chasing
a man who apparently had had much influence with his associates,
and had been among the last to yield. After a brief pursuit the
young fellow stopped and fired. The man struggled on a few steps,
then fell. Merwyn, panting, sat down on the curbstone, and here Mr.
Vosburgh joined him with radiant face, exclaiming, as he wrung the
young man's hand: "I've seen it all,--seen how you smote them hip
and thigh. Never has my blood been so stirred. The city is saved.
When a mob is thus dealt with it soon gives up. Come, you have
done more than your part. Go with me, and as soon as I have sent
a despatch about this glorious victory, we'll have supper and a
little rest."

"Impossible, Mr. Vosburgh. The inspector has heard that the mob
is sacking the mayor's house, and we have orders to march there at
once. I'll get my wind in a moment."

"But you are not under obligations, in view of all you have done."

"I'm going to see this fight out. If the force were ordered back
to headquarters I'd go with you."

"But you will come soon?"

"Yes; when the fighting is over for the night I'll bring the latest
news. There, the men are falling in for their march up Broadway,
and I must go."

"Well, I congratulate you. No soldier ever won greener laurels in
so short a time. What's more, you were cool enough to be one of
the most effective of the force. I saw you picking off the leaders.
Good-by;" and he hastened away, while Merwyn followed Carpenter
and the captured flag to a new scene of battle.



CHAPTER XLVI.

"I HAVE SEEN THAT YOU DETEST ME."



After her father had left her on that eventful afternoon, Marian
felt as if alone in a beleaguered fortress. The familiar streets
in which she had trundled her hoop as a child, and until to-day
walked without fear, were now filled with nameless terrors. She who
had been so bent on going out in the morning would now as readily
stroll in a tiger-infested jungle as to venture from her door. When
men like her father used such language and took such precautions
as she had anxiously noted, she knew that dangers were manifold and
great, that she was in the midst of the most ruthless phase of war.

But her first excitement had passed, and it had brought her such
lessons that now her chief thought was to retrieve herself. The
one who had dwelt in her mind as so weak and unmanly as to be a
constant cause of irritation had shown himself to be her superior,
and might even equal the friends with whom she had been scornfully
contrasting him. That she should have spoken to him and treated
him as she had done produced boundless self-reproach, while her
egregious error in estimating his character was humiliating in the
last degree.

"Fool! fool!" she said, aloud, "where was your woman's intuition?"

Marian had much warm blood in her veins and fire in her spirit, and
on provocation could become deeply incensed at others, as we have
seen; but so devoid of petty vanity was she that she could be almost
equally angry at herself. She did not share her father's confidence
that Merwyn would relent under a few smiles, for she knew how deeply
she had wounded and wronged him, and she believed that he possessed a
will as steadfast as fate. The desire to test her father's theory,
the hope to atone for her wrong judgment, grew so strong and absorbing
as to make the awful fact of the riot secondary in her thoughts.

To get through the hours she felt that she must keep incessantly
busy. She first went to her own room, packed valuables and jewels
in a convenient form to carry if there should be cause for a hasty
exit, then concealed them. Going to her mother's and father's room,
she acted in view of the same possible necessity, all the while
carrying on the distinct process of thought in regard to Merwyn,
dwelling on their past relations, but above all questioning his
course when they should meet again.

Suddenly she reproached herself with forgetfulness of Mammy Borden.
True, not much time had passed; but the poor creature, after what
she had heard, should be reassured frequently. She went to the attic
room, but it was empty. On inspection it became evident that the
colored woman had made up her little bundle and departed. Calling
as she went down through the house, Marian reached the basement
and saw that its door had been unfastened.

"She has gone to join her son," said the girl, as she hastily
rebolted and barred the door. "Oh what awful imprudence! Perhaps
she also wished to relieve us of the danger of her presence. Well,
I am now alone in very truth. I could now give Mr. Merwyn a very
different reception. He and papa will be here soon perhaps. Oh, I
wish I knew how to make coffee, but I can't even kindle a fire in
the range. I have proved myself to-day a fine subject for a soldier.
My role is to listen, in elegant costume, to heroic deeds, and
to become almost hysterical in the first hour of battle. O 'Missy
S'wanee,' I make a sorry figure beside you, facing actual war and
cheering on your friends!"

Thus she passed the time in varied and bitter soliloquy while
putting the kitchen and closets in order, and in awkward attempts
to remove the debris of the last fire from the range. The gas gave
light for her efforts, for the closed shutters darkened the apartment.

She was startled by a tap at the door.

"Well?" she faltered, after a moment's hesitation.

"'Gettysburg and Little Round Top,'" was the response.

"Mr. Vosburgh is out, and left word that you should linger near
till he returned and then come again."

"I cannot do that. It would not be safe for either him or me. He
does not realize. Can you be trusted?"

"I am his daughter."

"Say, then, terrible work up town. The orphan asylum sacked and
burned. Many private residences also. The mob having its own way.
A crowd is coming, and I must not be seen here. Will be back to-night
if possible;" and the unseen communicator of dismal intelligence
went westward with hasty steps.

Marian trembled as she heard the confused, noisy tread of many feet.
Hastening to the second story, she peeped through the blinds, and
shuddered as she saw a fragment of the mob which had been defeated
on Broadway, returning to their haunts on the west side. Baffled
and infuriated, they made the street echo with their obscene words
and curses. Her heart almost stood still as they approached her
door, and with white, compressed lips she grasped her revolver;
but the rioters passed on like a flock of unclean birds, and the
street became quiet again.

She was now so anxious about her father that she maintained her
position of observation. The coming storm lowering in the west
oppressed her with its terrible symbolism. Already the street was
darkening, while from other parts of the city came strange sounds.

"Oh, if papa should never come back,--if the mob should have its
own way everywhere! To think of staying here alone to-night! Would
HE come again after my treatment this morning?"

She was aroused from her deep and painful revery by a knocking on
the basement door. Hastening down she was overjoyed to hear her
father's voice, and when he entered she clung to him, and kissed him
with such energy that his heavy beard came off, and his disguising
wig was all awry.

"O papa!" she cried, "I'm so glad you are back safe! A body of
rioters passed through the street, and the thought of your falling
into such hands sickened me with fear;" and then she breathlessly
told him of all that had occurred, and of Mammy Borden's disappearance.

He reassured her gently, yet strongly, and her quick ear caught
the ring of truth in his words.

"I, too, have much to tell you," he said, "and much to do; so we
must talk as we work. First help me to unpack and put away these
provisions. This evening I must get a stout German woman that I
know of to help you. You must not be left alone again, and I have
another plan in mind for our safety. I think the worst is over, but
it is best not to entertain a sense of false security for a moment
in these times. The mob has been thoroughly whipped on Broadway.
I'll tell you all about it after we have had a good cup of coffee
and a little supper. Now that there is a respite I find I'm almost
faint myself from reaction and fatigue."

"Have you seen--do you think Mr. Merwyn will be here again?"

"I've seen him, and so have others, to their sorrow. 'Coward,'
indeed!" He threw back his head and laughed. "I only wish I had a
regiment of such cowards, and I could abolish the mob in twenty-four
hours. But I'll tell you the whole story after supper is ready, and
will show how quickly a soldier can get up a meal in an emergency.
You must go into training as a commissary at once."

Her father seemed so genuinely hopeful and elated that Marian caught
his spirit and gave every faculty to the task of aiding him. Now
that he was with her, all fears and forebodings passed; the nearer
roll of the thunder was unheeded except as it called out the remark,
"It will be too bad if Mr. Merwyn is out in the storm."

Again her father laughed, as he said, "All the thunder gusts that
have raged over the city are nothing to the storm which Merwyn has
just faced."

"O papa, you make me half wild with curiosity and impatience. Must
I wait until the coffee boils?"

"No," was the still laughing reply. "What is more, you shall have
another surprising experience; you shall eat your supper--for the
first time, I imagine--in the kitchen. It will save time and trouble,
and some of my agents may appear soon. Well, well, all has turned
out, so far, better than I ever hoped. I have been able to keep
track of all the most important movements; I have seen a decisive
battle, and have sent intelligence of everything to Washington.
A certain man there cannot say that I have failed in my duty,
unexpected and terrible as has been the emergency. By morning the
military from the forts in the harbor will be on hand. One or two
more such victories, and this dragon of a mob will expire."

"Papa, should not something be done to find and protect Mammy
Borden?"

"Yes, as soon as possible; but we must make sure that the city's
safe, and our own lives secure before looking after one poor creature.
She has undoubtedly gone to her son, as you suggest. After such a
scare as she has had she will keep herself and him out of sight.
They are both shrewd and intelligent for their race, and will, no
doubt, either hide or escape from the city together. Rest assured
she went out heavily veiled and disguised. She would have said
good-by had she not feared you would detain her, and, as you say,
her motive was probably twofold. She saw how she endangered us,
and, mother-like, she was determined to be with her son."

"Come, papa, the coffee's boiled, and supper, such as it is, is on
the table. Hungry as I am, I cannot eat till you have told me all."

"All about the fight?"

"Yes, and--and--Well, what part did Mr. Merwyn take in it?"

"Ah, now I am to recite MY epic. How all is changed since Blauvelt
kindled your eyes and flushed your cheeks with the narration of
heroic deeds! Then we heard of armies whose tread shook the continent,
and whose guns have echoed around the world. Men, already historic
for all time, were the leaders, and your soldier friends were clad
in a uniform which distinguished them as the nation's defenders.
My humble hero had merely an ill-fitting policeman's coat buttoned
over his soiled, ragged blouse. Truly it is fit that I should recite
his deeds in a kitchen and not in a library. When was the heroic
policeman sung in homeric verse before? When--"

"O papa, papa! don't tantalize me. You cannot belittle this struggle
or its consequences. Our enemies are at our very doors, and they
are not soldiers. I would rather face scalping Indians than the
wretches that I saw an hour since. If Merwyn will do a man's part
to quell this mob I shall feel honored by his friendship. But he
never will forgive me, never, never."

"We'll see about that," was Mr. Vosburgh's smiling reply. Then his
face became grave, and he said: "You are right, Marian. The ruffians
who filled the streets to-day, and who even now are plundering and
burning in different parts of the city, are not soldiers. They are
as brutal as they are unscrupulous and merciless. I can only tell
you what has occurred in brief outline, for the moment I am a little
rested and have satisfied hunger I must be at work."

He then rapidly narrated how Merwyn had been brought in at police
headquarters with one of the leaders of the riot whom he had beguiled
and helped to capture. A graphic account of the battle followed,
closing with the fact that he had left the "coward" marching up
Broadway to engage in another fight.

The girl listened with pale cheeks and drooping head.

"He will never forgive me," she murmured; "I've wronged him too
deeply."

"Be ready to give him a generous cup of coffee and a good supper,"
her father replied. "Men are animals, even when heroes, and Merwyn
will be in a condition to bless the hand that feeds him to-night.
Now I must carry out my plans with despatch. Oh, there is the
rain.  Good. Torrents, thunder, and lightning will keep away more
dangerous elements. Although I have but a slight acquaintance
with the Erkmanns, whose yard abuts upon ours, I hope, before the
evening is over, to have a door cut in the fence between us, and
a wire stretched from our rear windows to theirs. It will be for
our mutual safety. If attacked we can escape through their house
or they through ours. I'll put on my rubber suit and shall not be
gone long now at any one time. You can admit Merwyn or any of my
agents who give the password. Keep plenty of coffee and your own
courage at boiling-point. You will next hear from me at our back
door."

In less than half an hour she again admitted her father, who said:
"It's all arranged. I have removed a couple of boards so that they
can be replaced by any one who passes through the opening. I have
some fine wire which I will now stretch from my library to Mr.
Erkmann's sleeping-apartment."

When he again entered the house two of his agents whom Marian had
admitted were present, dripping wet, hungry, and weary. They had
come under cover of the storm and darkness. While they gave their
reports Mr. Vosburgh made them take a hearty supper, and Marian
waited on them with a grace that doubled their incentive to serve
their chief. But more than once she sighed, "Merwyn does not come."

Then the thought flashed upon her: "Perhaps he cannot come. He may
be battered and dying in the muddy streets."

The possibility of this made her so ill and faint that she hastily
left the apartment and went up to the darkened drawing-room, where
her father found her a moment later seeking to stifle her sobs.

"Why, Marian, darling, you who have kept up so bravely are not
going to give way now."

"I'm not afraid for myself," she faltered, "but Mr. Merwyn does not
come. You said he was marching to another fight. He may be wounded;
he may be--" her voice fell to a whisper--"he may be dead."

"No, Marian," replied her father, confidently, "that young fellow
has a future. He is one of those rare spirits which a period like
this develops, and he'll take no common part in it. He has probably
gone to see if his own home is safe. Now trust God and be a soldier,
as you promised."

"I couldn't bear to have anything happen to him and I have no chance
to make amends, to show I am not so weak and silly as I appeared
this morning."

"Then let him find you strong and self-controlled when he appears.
Come down now, for I must question my agents while they are yet at
supper; then I must go out, and I'll leave them for your protection
till I return."

He put his arm about her, and led her to the stairway, meanwhile
thinking, "A spell is working now which she soon will have to
recognize."

By the time his agents had finished their meal, Mr. Vosburgh had
completed his examination of them and made his notes. He then placed
a box of cigars on the table, instructed them about admitting Merwyn
should he come, and with his daughter went up to the library, where
he wrote another long despatch.

"After sending this," he said, "and getting the woman I spoke of,
I will not leave you again to-night, unless there should be very
urgent necessity. You can sit in the darkened front room, and watch
till either I or Merwyn returns."

This she did and listened breathlessly.

The rain continued to pour in torrents, and the lightning was
still so vivid as to blind her eyes at times, while the crashes of
thunder often drowned the roar of the unquiet city; but undaunted,
tearless, motionless, she watched the deserted street and listened
for the footfall of one whom she had long despised, as she had
assured herself.

An hour passed. The storm was dying away, and still he did not
come.  "Alas!" she sighed, "he is wounded; if not by the rabble,
certainly by me. I know now what it has cost him to be thought a
coward for months, and must admit that I don't understand him at
all. How vividly come back the words he spoke last December, 'What
is the storm, and what the danger, to that which I am facing?'
What was he facing? What secret and terrible burden has he carried
patiently through all my coldness and scorn? Oh, why was I such an
idiot as to offend him mortally just as he was about to retrieve
himself and render papa valuable assistance,--worse still, when he
came to my protection!"

The gloomy musings were interrupted by the sound of a carriage
driven rapidly up town in a neighboring street. It stopped at the
corner to the east, and a man alighted and came towards the Vosburgh
residence. A moment later Marian whispered, excitedly, "It's Mr.
Merwyn."

He approached slowly and she thought warily, and began mounting
the steps.

"Is it Mr. Merwyn?" she called.

"Yes."

"I will admit you at the basement door;" and she hastened down.
She meant to give her hand, to speak in warm eulogy of his action,
but his pale face and cold glance as he entered chilled her. She
felt tongue-tied in the presence of the strangers who sat near the
table smoking.

Merwyn started slightly on seeing them, and then she explained,
hastily, "These gentlemen are assisting my father in a way you
understand."

He bowed to them, then sank into a chair, as if too weary to stand.

"Mr. Merwyn," she began, eagerly, "let me make you some fresh coffee.
That on the range is warm, but it has stood some little time."

"Please do not take the slightest trouble," he said, decidedly.
"That now ready will answer. Indeed, I would prefer it to waiting.
I regret exceedingly that Mr. Vosburgh is not at home, for I am
too exhausted to wait for him. Can I not help myself?" and he rose
and approached the range.

"Not with my permission," she replied, with a smile, but he did
not observe it. She stole shy glances at him as she prepared the
coffee.  Truly, as he sat, drooping in his chair, wet, ragged, and
begrimed, he presented anything but the aspect of a hero. Yet as
such he appeared in her eyes beyond all other men whom she had ever
seen.

She said, gently: "Let me put the coffee on the table, and get you
some supper. You must need it sorely."

"No, I thank you. I could not eat anything to-night;" and he rose
and took the coffee from her hand, and drank it eagerly. He then
said, "I will thank you for a little more."

With sorrow she noted that he did not meet her eyes or relax his
distant manner.

"I wish you could wait until papa returns," she said, almost
entreatingly, as she handed him a second cup.

"I hope Mr. Vosburgh will pardon my seeming lack of courtesy, and
that you will also, gentlemen. It has been a rather long, hard day,
and I find that I have nearly reached the limit of my powers." With
a short, grim laugh, he added: "I certainly am not fit to remain
in the presence of a lady. I suppose, Miss Vosburgh, I may report
what little I have to say in the presence of these gentlemen? I
would write it out if I could, but I cannot to-night."

"I certainly think you may speak freely before these gentlemen,"
was her reply.

"Mr. Vosburgh trusts us implicitly, and I think we are deserving
of it," said one of the agents.

"Why need you go out again when you are so weary?" Marian asked.
"I am expecting papa every moment, and I know he would like you to
stay with him."

"That would be impossible. Besides, I have some curiosity to learn
whether I have a home left. My report in brief amounts to little
more than this. Soon after our return from the mayor's residence on
Broadway we were ordered down to Printing-House Square. Intelligence
that an immense mob was attacking the Tribune Office had been
received. Our hasty march thither, and the free use of the club on
our arrival, must account for my present plight. You see, gentlemen,
that I am not a veteran, only a raw recruit. In a day or two
I shall be more seasoned to the work. You may say to your father,
Miss Vosburgh, that the mob had been broken before we arrived. We
met them on their retreat across City-Hall Park, and nothing was
left for us but the heavy, stupid work of knocking a good many of
the poor wretches on the head. Such fighting makes me sick; yet it
is imperative, no doubt. Inspector Carpenter is at City Hall with
a large force, and the rioters are thoroughly dispersed. I think
the lower part of the city will be quiet for the night."

"You were wise, Mr. Merwyn, to ride up town," said Marian, gravely.
"I know well that you have been taxed to-day beyond the strength
of any veteran."


"How did you know that I rode up town?"

"I was watching for papa, and saw you leave your carriage."

"I could never have reached home had I not secured a cab, and that
reminds me that it is waiting around the corner; at least, the
driver promised to wait. I shall now say good-night. Oh, by the
way, in the press of other things I forgot to say that Mrs. Ghegan
reached her husband, and that her good nursing, with surgical help,
will probably save his life."

Bowing to the agents, who had been listening and watching him with
great curiosity, he turned to the door.

Marian opened it for him, and, stepping out into the dusky area,
said, "I see that you do not forgive me."

"And I have seen, to-day, Miss Vosburgh, that you detest me. You
showed the truth plainly when off your guard. Your own pride and
sense of justice may lead you to seek to make amends for an error
in your estimate of me. Having convinced you that I am not a coward,
I have accomplished all that I can hope for, and I'm in no mood for
hollow courtesies. I shall do everything in my power to aid your
father until the trouble is over or I am disabled, and then will
annoy you no more. Good-night;" and he strode away, with a firm,
rapid step, proving that his pride for a moment had mastered his
almost mortal weariness.

Marian returned to her post in the second story to watch for her
father, her ears tingling, and every faculty confused, while excited,
by the words Merwyn had spoken. He had revealed his attitude towards
her clearly, and, as she grew calmer, she saw it was not a mere
question of the offence she had given him that morning which she had
to face, but rather a deep-rooted conviction that he was personally
detested.

"If he knew how far this is from the truth NOW!" she thought, with
a smile.

Then the query presented itself: "How far is it from the truth? Why
am I thinking more of him than of the riot, our danger, yes, even
my father?"

In the light of that lurid day much had been revealed to her, and
before her revery ceased she understood her long months of irritation
and anger at Merwyn's course; she saw why she had not dismissed him
from her thoughts with contemptuous indifference and why she had
ingeniously wrought the MacIan theory of constitutional timidity.
When had she given so much thought to a man whom she had disliked?
Even in her disapproval of him, even when her soldier friends
appeared at their best and she was contrasting him with them to his
fatal disadvantage as she believed, thoughts of him would pursue
her constantly. Now that he had shown himself the peer of each and
all in manhood and courage, it seemed as if feelings, long held
in check, were released and were sweeping irresistibly towards one
conclusion. Merwyn was more to her than any other man in the world.
He had fulfilled her ideal, and was all the more attractive because
he was capable of such deep, strong passion, and yet could be so
resolute and cool.

"But how can I ever undeceive him?" was her most perplexing thought.
"I cannot make advances. Well, well, the future must disentangle
itself."

Now that she was beginning to understand herself, every instinct
of her being led towards reserve. In a misunderstanding with her
soldier friends she could easily and frankly effect a reconciliation,
but she must be dumb with Merwyn, and distant in manner, to the
degree that she was self-conscious.

Suddenly she became aware that it was growing late, and that her
father had not returned, and for the next hour she suffered terribly
from anxiety, as did many women in those days of strange vicissitudes.

At last, a little before midnight, he came, looking stern and
anxious. "I will soon explain," he said to her. "Take this woman
to her room." Then, to his aroused and sleepy agents: "You have had
some rest and respite. Go to the nearest hotel and take a little
more, but be up with the dawn and do your best, for to-morrow
promises to be worse than to-day."

With a few further instructions he dismissed them.

Upon reaching the library he said to his daughter: "I've been at
a conference in which the police, military, and state authorities
took part, and things look gloomy. I have also sent further
despatches.  My dear child, I wish you were with your mother, but
I'm too weary to think any more to-night."

"Papa, the question of my remaining has been settled. Now rest.
Mr.  Merwyn came and brought good news."

"Yes, I know all about it. Why did he not stay?"

"He naturally wished to return and look after his own home."

"True enough. I hope he found it unharmed. He has proved himself a
grand, brave fellow to-day, and I only wish it was my privilege to
fight at his side. It would be far easier than to carry my burden."

"Not another perplexing thought to-night, papa."

"Well, Marian, I must have some sleep, to be equal to to-morrow. You
must obey orders and sleep also. I shall not take off my clothes,
and shall be ready for any emergency; and do you also sleep in your
wrapper."

He kissed her fondly, but with heavy eyes.



CHAPTER XLVII.

A FAIR FRIEND AND FOUL FOES.



THE reader has already discovered that I have not attempted anything
approaching a detailed history of the dreadful days of the riot.
I merely hope to give a somewhat correct impression of the hopes,
fears, and passions which swayed men's minds and controlled
or directed their action. Many of the scenes are too horrible to
be described, and much else relating to the deeds and policy of
recognized leaders belongs to the sober page of history. The city
was in awful peril, and its destruction would have crippled the
general government beyond all calculation. Unchecked lawlessness
in New York would soon have spread to other centres. That cool,
impartial historian, the Comte de Paris, recognized the danger in
his words: "Turbulent leaders were present in the large cities of
the East, which contained all the elements for a terrible insurrection.
This insurrection was expected to break out in New York, despite
Lee's defeat: one may judge what it might have been had Lee achieved
a victory."

With the best intentions the administration had committed many grave
errors,--none more so, perhaps, than that of ordering the draft to
be inaugurated at a time when the city was stripped of its militia.

Now, however, it only remained for the police and a few hundreds
of the military to cope with the result of that error,--a reckless
mob of unnumbered thousands, governed by the instinct to plunder
and destroy.

When the sun dawned in unclouded splendor on the morning of the
14th of July, a superficial observer, passing through the greater
part of the city, would not have dreamed that it could become a
battle-ground, a scene of unnumbered and untold outrages, during
the day. It was hard for multitudes of citizens, acquainted with
what had already taken place, to believe in the continuance of
such lawlessness. In large districts there was an effort to carry
on business as usual. In the early hours vehicles of every kind
rattled over the stony pavement, and when at last Merwyn awoke,
the sounds that came through his open windows were so natural that
the events of the preceding day seemed but a distorted dream. The
stern realities of the past and the future soon confronted him,
however, and he rang and ordered breakfast at once.

Hastily disguising himself as he had done before, he again summoned
his faithful servant. This man's vigilance had enabled him to
admit his master instantly the night before. Beyond the assurance
that all was well and safe Merwyn had not then listened to a word,
yielding to the imperative craving for sleep and rest. These,
with youth and the vigor of a strong, unvitiated constitution, had
restored him wonderfully, and he was eager to enter on the perils
and duties of the new day. His valet and man-of-all-work told him
that he had been at pains to give the impression that the family
was away and the house partially dismantled.

"It wouldn't pay ye," he had said to a band of plunderers, "to bother
with the loikes of this house when there's plenty all furnished."

With injunctions to maintain his vigilance and not to be surprised
if Merwyn's absence was prolonged, the young man hastened away,
paving no heed to entreaties to remain and avoid risks.

It was still early, but the uneasy city was waking, and the streets
were filling with all descriptions of people. Thousands were
escaping to the country; thousands more were standing in their doors
or moving about, seeking to satisfy their curiosity; while in the
disaffected districts on the east and the west side the hosts of
the mob were swarming forth for the renewal of the conflict, now
inspired chiefly by the hope of plunder. Disquiet, anxiety, fear,
anger, and recklessness characterized different faces, according
to the nature of their possessors; but as a rule even the most
desperate of the rioters were singularly quiet except when under
the dominion of some immediate and exciting influence.

In order to save time, Merwyn had again hired a hack, and, seated
with the driver, he proceeded rapidly, first towards the East
River, and then, on another street, towards the Hudson. His eyes,
already experienced, saw on every side the promise of another bloody
day. He was stopped and threatened several times, for the rioters
were growing suspicious, fully aware that detectives were among
them, but he always succeeded in giving some plausible excuse. At
last, returning from the west side, the driver refused to carry
him any longer, and gave evidence of sympathy with the mob.

Merwyn quietly showed him the butt of a revolver, and said, "You
will drive till I dismiss you."

The man yielded sullenly, and Merwyn alighted near Mr. Vosburgh's
residence, saying to his Jehu, "Your course lies there," pointing
east,--and he rapidly turned a corner.

As Merwyn had surmised, the man wheeled his horses with the purpose
of following and learning his destination. Observing this eager
quest he sprung out upon him from a doorway and said, "If you try
that again I'll shoot you as I would a dog." The fellow now took
counsel of discretion.

Going round the block to make sure he was not observed, Merwyn
reached the residence of Mr. Vosburgh just as that gentleman was
rising from his breakfast, and received a cordial welcome.

"Why, Merwyn," he exclaimed, "you look as fresh as a June daisy
this morning."

The young fellow had merely bowed to Marian, and now said, "I
cannot wonder at your surprise, remembering the condition in which
I presented myself last night."

"Condition? I do not understand."

Marian laughed, as she said: "Papa came in about midnight in scarcely
better plight. In brief, you were both exhausted, and with good
reason."

"But you did not tell me, Marian--"

"No," she interrupted; "nothing but a life-and-death emergency
should have made me tell you anything last night."

"Why, our little girl is becoming a soldier and a strategist.
I think you had better make your report over again, Mr. Merwyn;"
and he drew out a fuller account of events than had been given
the evening before, also the result of the young man's morning
observations.

Marian made no effort to secure attention beyond offering Merwyn
a cup of coffee.

"I have breakfasted," he said, coldly.

"Take it, Merwyn, take it," cried Mr. Vosburgh. "Next to courage,
nothing keeps up a soldier better than coffee. According to your
own view we have another hard day before us."

Merwyn complied, and bowed his thanks.

"Now for plans," resumed Mr. Vosburgh. "Are you going to police
headquarters again?"

"Direct from here."

"I shall be there occasionally, and if you learn anything important,
leave me a note. If I am not there and you can get away, come here.
Of course I only ask this as of a friend and loyal man. You can
see how vitally important it is that the authorities at Washington
should be informed. They can put forth vast powers, and will do so
as the necessity is impressed upon them. If we can only hold our
own for a day or two the city will be full of troops. Therefore
remember that in aiding me you are helping the cause even more
than by fighting with the best and bravest, as you did yesterday.
You recognize this fact, do you not? I am not laying any constraint
on you contrary to your sense of duty and inclination."

"No, sir, you are not. I should be dull indeed did I not perceive
that you are burdened with the gravest responsibilities. What
is more, your knowledge guides, in a measure, the strong national
hand, and I now believe we shall need its aid."

"That's it, that's the point. Therefore you can see why I am eager
to secure the assistance of one who has the brains to appreciate
the fact so quickly and fully. Moreover, you are cool, and seem to
understand the nature of this outbreak as if you had made a study
of the mobs."

"I have, and I have been preparing for this one, for I knew that
it would soon give me a chance to prove that I was not a coward."

Marian's cheeks crimsoned.

"No more of that, if you please," said Mr. Vosburgh, gravely. "While
it is natural that you should feel strongly, you must remember
that both I and my daughter have asked your pardon, and that you
yourself admitted that we had cause for misjudging you. We have
been prompt to make amends, and I followed you through yesterday's
fight at some risk to see that you did not fall into the hands of
strangers, if wounded. I could have learned all about the fight
at a safer distance. You are now showing the best qualities of a
soldier. Add to them a soldier's full and generous forgiveness when
a wrong is atoned for,--an unintentional wrong at that. We trust
you implicitly as a man of honor, but we also wish to work with
you as a friend."

Mr. Vosburgh spoke with dignity, and the young fellow's face flushed
under the reproof in his tone.

"I suppose I have become morbid on the subject," he said, with some
embarrassment. "I now ask your pardon, and admit that the expression
was in bad taste, to say the least."

"Yes, it was, in view of the evident fact that we now esteem and
honor you as a brave man. I would not give you my hand in friendship
and trust concerning matters vital to me were this not so."

Merwyn took the proffered hand with a deep flush of pleasure.

"Having learned the bitterness of being misjudged," said Marian,
quietly, "Mr. Merwyn should be careful how he misjudges others."

"That's a close shot, Merwyn," said Mr. Vosburgh, laughing.

Their guest started and bent a keen glance on the girl's averted face,
and then said, earnestly: "Miss Vosburgh, your father has spoken
frankly to me and I believe him. Your words, also, are significant
if they mean anything whatever. I know well what is before
me to-day,--the chances of my never seeing you again. I can only
misjudge you in one respect. Perhaps I can best make everything
clear to your father as well as yourself by a single question. If
I do my duty through these troubles, Mr. Vosburgh being the judge,
can you give me some place among those friends who have already,
and justly, won your esteem? I know it will require time. I have
given you far more cause for offence than you have given me, but I
would be glad to fight to-day with the inspiration of hope rather
than that of recklessness."

Her lip trembled as she faltered: "You would see that you have
such a place already were you not equally prone to misjudge. Do you
think me capable of cherishing a petty spite after you had proved
yourself the peer of my other friends?"

"That I have not done, and I fear I never can. You have seen that
I have been under a strong restraint which is not removed and which
I cannot explain. To wear, temporarily, a policeman's uniform is
probably the best I can hope for."

"I was thinking of men, Mr. Merwyn, not uniforms. I have nothing
whatever to do with the restraint to which you refer. If my father
trusts you, I can. Do not think of me so meanly as to believe I
cannot give honest friendship to the man who is risking his life
to aid my father. Last evening you said I had been off my guard.
I must and will say, in self-defence, that if you judge me by that
hour of weakness and folly you misjudge me."

"Then we can be friends," he said, holding out his hand, his face
full of the sunshine of gladness.

"Why not?" she replied, laughing, and taking his hand,--"that is,
on condition that there is no more recklessness."

Mr. Vosburgh rose and said, with a smile: "Now that there is complete
amity in the camp we will move on the enemy. I shall go with you,
Merwyn, to police-headquarters;" and he hastily began his preparation.

Left alone with Marian a moment, Merwyn said, "You cannot know how
your words have changed everything for me."

"I fear the spirit of the rioters is unchanged, and that you are
about to incur fearful risks."

"I shall meet them cheerfully, for I have been under a thick cloud
too long not to exult in a little light at last."

"Ready?" said Mr. Vosburgh.

Again Merwyn took her hand and looked at her earnestly as he said,
"Good-by, Heaven bless you, whatever happens to me;" and he wondered
at the tears that came into her eyes.

Making their way through streets which were now becoming thronged, Mr.
Vosburgh and Merwyn reached police headquarters without detention.
They found matters there vastly changed for the better: the
whole police force well in hand; and General Harvey Brown, a most
capable officer, in command of several hundred soldiers.  Moreover,
citizens, in response to a call from the mayor, were being enrolled
in large numbers as special policemen. Merwyn was welcomed by his old
companions under the command of Inspector Carpenter, and provided
with a badge which would indicate that he now belonged to the police
force.

Telegrams were pouring in announcing trouble in different sections.
Troops were drawn up in line on Mulberry Street, ready for instant
action, and were harangued by their officers in earnest words which
were heeded and obeyed, for the soldiers vied with the police in
courage and discipline.

Soon after his arrival Merwyn found himself marching with a force
of policemen two hundred and fifty strong, led by Carpenter and
followed by a company of the military. The most threatening gatherings
were reported to be in Second and Third Avenues.

The former thoroughfare, when entered, was seen to be filled as far
as the eye could reach, the number of the throng being estimated
at not less than ten thousand. At first this host was comparatively
quiet, apparently having no definite purpose or recognized leaders.
Curiosity accounted for the presence of many, the hope of plunder
for that of more; but there were hundreds of ferocious-looking men
who thirsted for blood and lawless power. A Catholic priest, to
his honor be it said, had addressed the crowd and pleaded for peace
and order; but his words, although listened to respectfully, were
soon forgotten. What this section of the mob, which was now mustering
in a score of localities, would have done first it is impossible
to say; for as it began to be agitated with passion, ready to
precipitate its brutal force on any object that caught its attention,
the cry, "Cops and soldiers coming," echoed up the avenue from
block to block, a long, hoarse wave of sound.

Carpenter, with his force, marched quietly through the crowd from
21st to 32d Street, paying no heed to the hootings, yells, and vile
epithets that were hurled from every side. Dirty, ragged women,
with dishevelled hair and bloated faces, far exceeded the men in the
use of Billingsgate; and the guardians of the law, as they passed
through those long lines of demoniacal visages, scowling with hate,
and heard their sulphurous invectives, saw what would be their fate
if overpowered. It was a conflict having all the horrors of Indian
warfare, as poor Colonel O'Brien, tortured to death through the
long hot afternoon of that same day, learned in agony.

The mob in the street had not ventured on anything more offensive
than jeers and curses, but when Carpenter's command reached 32d
Street it was assailed in a new and deadly manner. Rioters, well
provided with stones and brick-bats, had stationed themselves on the
roofs, and, deeming themselves secure, began to rain the missiles
on the column below, which formed but too conspicuous a mark. This
was a new and terrible danger which Merwyn had not anticipated, and
he wondered how Carpenter would meet the emergency. Comrades were
falling around him, and a stone grazed his shoulder which would
have brained him had it struck his head.

Their leader never hesitated a moment. The command, "Halt, charge
those houses, brain every devil that resists," rang down the line.

The crowd on the sidewalk gave way before the deeply incensed and
resolute officers of the law. Merwyn, with a half-dozen others,
seized a heavy pole which had been cut down in order to destroy
telegraphic communication, and, using it as a ram, crashed in the
door of a tall tenement-house on the roof of which were a score of
rioters, meantime escaping their missiles as by a miracle. Rushing
in, paying no heed to protests, and clubbing those who resisted, he
kept pace with the foremost. In his left hand, however, he carried
his trusty revolver, for he did not propose to be assassinated by
skulkers in the dark passage-ways. Seeing a man levelling a gun
from a dusky corner, he fired instantly, and man and gun dropped.
As the guardians of the law approached the scuttle, having fought
their way thither, the ruffians stood ready to hurl down bricks,
torn from the chimneys; but two or three well-aimed shots cleared
the way, and the policemen were on the roof, bringing down a man
with every blow. One brawny fellow rushed upon Merwyn, but received
such a stroke on his temple that he fell, rolled off the roof, and
struck the pavement, a crushed and shapeless mass.

The assaults upon the other houses were equally successful, but
the fight was a severe one, and was maintained for nearly an hour.
The mob was appalled by the fate of their friends, and looked on
in sullen, impotent anger.

Having cleared the houses, the police re-formed in the street, and
marched away to other turbulent districts.

Only the military were left, and had formed about a block further
to the north. Beyond the feeble demonstration of the invalid corps
the rioters, as yet, had had no experience with the soldiery. That
policemen would use their clubs was to them a matter of course, but
they scarcely believed that cannon and musketry would be employed.
Moreover, they were maddened and reckless that so many of their
best and bravest had been put hors de combat. The brief paralysis
caused by the remorseless clubs of the police passed, and like
a sluggish monster, the mob, aroused to sudden fury, pressed upon
the soldiery, hurling not only the vilest epithets but every missile
on which they could lay their hands. Colonel O'Brien, in command
for the moment, rode through the crowd, supposing he could overawe
them by his fearless bearing; but they only scoffed at him, and
the attack upon his men grew more bold and reckless.

The limit of patience was passed. "Fire!" he thundered, and the
howitzers poured their deadly canister point-blank into the throng.
At the same time the soldiers discharged their muskets. Not only
men, but women fell on every side, one with a child in her arms.

A warfare in which women stand an equal chance for death and wounds
is a terrible thing, and yet this is usually an inseparable feature
of mob-fighting. However, setting aside the natural and instinctive
horror at injuring a woman, the depraved creatures in the streets
were deserving of no more sympathy than their male abettors in
every species of outrage. They did their utmost to excite and keep
alive the passions of the hour. Many were armed with knives, and
did not hesitate to use them, and when stronger hands broke in the
doors of shops and dwellings they swarmed after,--the most greedy
and unscrupulous of plunderers. If a negro man, woman, or child
fell into their hands, none were more brutal than the unsexed hags
of the mob.

If on this, and other occasions, they had remained in their homes
they would not have suffered, nor would the men have been so
ferocious in their violence. They were the first to yield to panic,
however, and now their shrieks were the loudest and their efforts
to escape out of the deadly range of the guns the most frantic.
In a few moments the avenue was cleared, and the military marched
away, leaving the dead and wounded rioters where they had fallen,
as the police had done before. Instantly the friends of the sufferers
gathered them up and carried them into concealment.

This feature, from the first, was one of the most marked
characteristics of the outbreak. The number of rioters killed and
wounded could be only guessed at approximately, for every effort
was made to bury the bodies secretly, and keep the injured in
seclusion until they either died or recovered. Almost before a fight
was over the prostrate rioters would be spirited away by friends
or relatives on the watch.

The authorities were content to have it so, for they had no place
or time for the poor wretches, and the police understood that they
were to strike blows that would incapacitate the recipients for
further mischief.

In the same locality which had witnessed his morning fight, Colonel
O'Brien, later in the day, met a fate too horrible to be described.



CHAPTER XLVIII.

DESPERATE FIGHTING.



HAVING again reached police headquarters, Merwyn rested but a short
time and then joined a force of two hundred men under Inspector
Dilkes, and returned to the same avenue in which he had already
incurred such peril. The mob, having discovered that it must cope
with the military as well as the police, became eager to obtain
arms. It so happened that several thousand carbines were stored in
a wire factory in Second Avenue, and the rioters had learned the
fact.  Therefore they swarmed thither, forced an entrance, and began
to arm themselves and their comrades. A despatch to headquarters
announced the attack at its commencement, and the force we have
named was sent off in hot haste to wrest from the mob the means
of more effective resistance. Emerging into the avenue from 21st
Street, Dilkes found the thoroughfare solid with rioters, who, instead
of giving way, greeted the police with bitter curses. Hesitating
not a moment on account of vast inequality of numbers, the leader
formed his men and charged. The mob had grown reckless with every
hour, and it now closed on the police with the ferocity of a wild
beast. A terrible hand-to-hand conflict ensued, and Merwyn found
himself warding off and giving blows with the enemy so near that
he could almost feel their hot, tainted breath on his cheek, while
horrid visages inflamed with hate and fury made impressions on his
mind that could not easily pass away. It was a close, desperate
encounter, and the scorching July sun appeared to kindle passion
on either side into tenfold intensity. While the police were
disciplined men, obeying every order and doing nothing at random,
they WERE men, and they would not have been human if anger and
thoughts of vengeance had not nerved their arms as they struck down
ruffians who would show no more mercy to the wounded or captured
than would a man-eating tiger.

Since the mob would not give way, the police cut a bloody path
through the throng, and forced their way like a wedge to the factory.
Their orders were to capture all arms; and when a rioter was seen
with a carbine or a gun of any kind, one or more of the police would
rush out of the ranks and seize it, then fight their way back.

By the time they reached the factory so many of the mob had
been killed or wounded, and so many of their leaders were dead or
disabled, that it again yielded to panic and fled. One desperate
leader, although already bruised and bleeding, had for a time
inspired the mob with much of his own reckless fury, and was left
almost alone by his fleeing companions. His courage, which should have
been displayed in a better cause, cost him dear, for a tremendous
blow sent him reeling against a fence, the sharp point of one of
the iron pickets caught under his chin, and he hung there unheeded,
impaled and dying. He was afterwards taken down, and beneath
his soiled overalls and filthy shirt was a fair, white skin, clad
in cassimere trousers, a rich waistcoat, and the finest of linen.
His delicate, patrician features emphasized the mystery of his
personality and action.

When all resistance in the street was overcome, there still remained
the factory, thronged with armed and defiant rioters. Dilkes
ordered the building to be cleared, and Merwyn took his place in
the storming party. We shall not describe the scenes that followed.
It was a strife that differed widely from Lane's cavalry charge
on the lawn of a Southern plantation, with the eyes of fair women
watching his deeds. Merwyn was not taking part with thousands in a
battle that would be historic as Strahan and Blauvelt had done at
Gettysburg. Every element of romance and martial inspiration was
wanting. It was merely a life-and-death encounter between a handful
of policemen and a grimy, desperate band of ruffians, cornered like
rats, and resolved to sell their lives dearly.

The building was cleared, and at last Merwyn, exhausted and panting,
came back with his comrades and took his place in the ranks. His
club was bloody, and his revolver empty. The force marched away in
triumph escorting wagons loaded with all the arms they could find,
and were cheered by the better-disposed spectators that remained
on the scene of action.

The desperate tenacity of the mob is shown by the fact that it
returned to the wire factory, found some boxes of arms that had been
overlooked, filled the great five-story building and the street
about it, and became so defiant that the same battle had to be
fought again in the afternoon with the aid of the military.


For the sake of making a definite impression we have touched upon
the conflicts taking place in one locality. But throughout this awful
day there were mobs all over the city, with fighting, plundering,
burning, the chasing and murdering of negroes occurring at the same
time in many and widely separated sections. Telegrams for aid were
pouring into headquarters from all parts of the city, large tracts
of which were utterly unprotected. The police and military could be
employed only in bodies sufficiently large to cope with gatherings
of hundreds or thousands. Individual outrages and isolated instances
of violence and plunder could not be prevented.

But law-abiding citizens were realizing their danger and awakening
to a sense of their duty. Over four hundred special policemen were
sworn in. Merchants and bankers in Wall Street met and resolved to
close business. Millionnaires vied with their clerks and porters
in patriotic readiness to face danger. Volunteer companies were
formed, and men like Hon. William E. Dodge, always foremost in every
good effort in behalf of the city, left their offices for military
duty.  While thousands of citizens escaped from the city, with their
families, not knowing where they would find a refuge, and obeying
only the impulse to get away from a place apparently doomed, other
thousands remained, determined to protect their hearths and homes
and to preserve their fair metropolis from destruction. Terrible
as was the mob, and tenfold more terrible as it would have been if
it had used its strength in an organized effort and with definite
purpose, forces were now awakening and concentrating against it
which would eventually destroy every vestige of lawlessness. With
the fight on Broadway, during Monday evening, the supreme crisis
had passed. After that the mob fought desperate but losing battles.
Acton, with Napoleonic nerve and skill, had time to plan and
organize. General Brown with his brave troops reached him on Monday
night, and thereafter the two men, providentially brought and kept
together, met and overcame, in cordial co-operation, every danger
as it arose. Their names should never be forgotten by the citizens
of New York. Acton, as chief of police, was soon feared more than
any other man in the city, and he began to receive anonymous letters
assuring him that he had "but one more day to live." He tossed
them contemptuously aside, and turned to the telegrams imploring
assistance. In every blow struck his iron will and heavy hand were
felt. For a hundred hours, through the storm, he kept his hand on
the helm and never closed his eyes. He inspired confidence in the
men who obeyed him, and the humblest of them became heroes.

The city was smitten with an awful paralysis. Stages and street
cars had very generally ceased running; shops were closed; Broadway
and other thoroughfares and centres usually so crowded were at times
almost deserted; now and then a hack would whirl by with occupants
that could not be classified. They might be leaders of the mob,
detectives, or citizens in disguise bent on public or private
business. On one occasion a millionnaire whose name is known and
honored throughout the land, dressed in the mean habiliments of a
laborer, drove a wagon up Broadway in which was concealed a load
of arms and ammunition. In hundreds of homes fathers and sons kept
watch with rifles and revolvers, while city and State authorities
issued proclamations.

It was a time of strange and infinite vicissitude, yet apparently
the mob steadily attained vaster and more terrible proportions,
and everywhere lawlessness was on the increase, especially in the
upper portions of the city.

Mr. Vosburgh, with stern and clouded brow, obtained information from
all available sources, and flashed the vital points to Washington.
He did not leave Marian alone very long, and as the day advanced
kept one of his agents in the house during his absences. He failed
to meet Merwyn at headquarters, but learned of the young man's
brave action from one of his wounded comrades.

When Mr. Vosburgh told Marian of the risks which her new friend was
incurring, and the nature of the fighting in which he was engaged,
she grew so pale and agitated that he saw that she was becoming
conscious of herself, of the new and controlling element entering
into her life.

This self-knowledge was made tenfold clearer by a brief visit from
Mrs. Ghegan.

"Oh! how dared you come?" cried Marian.

"The strates are safe enough for the loikes o' me, so oi kape out
o' the crowds," was the reply, "but they're no place fer ye, Miss
Marian. Me brogue is a password iverywhere, an' even the crowds is
civil and dacent enough onless something wakes the divil in 'em;"
and then followed a vivid account of her experiences and of the
timely help Merwyn had given her.

"The docthers think me Barney'll live, but oi thank Misther Merwyn
that took him out o' the very claws uv the bloody divils, and not
their bat's eyes. Faix, but he tops all yez frin's, Miss Marian, tho'
ye're so could to 'im. All the spalpanes in the strates couldn't
make 'im wink, yet while I was a-wailin' over Barney he was as
tender-feelin' as a baby."

The girl's heart fluttered strangely at the words of her former
maid, but she tried to disguise her emotion. When again left alone
she strained her ears for every sound from the city, and was untiring
in her watch. From noon till evening she kept a dainty lunch ready
for Merwyn, but he did not come.

After the young man's return from his second fight he was given some
rest. In the afternoon, he, with others, was sent on duty to the
west side, the force being carried thither in stages which Acton
had impressed into the service. One driver refused to stir, saying,
insolently, that he had "not been hired to carry policemen."

"Lock that man in cell No. 4," was Acton's answer, while, in the
same breath, he ordered a policeman to drive.

That was the superintendent's style of arguing and despatching
business.

Merwyn again saw plenty of service, for the spirit of pandemonium
was present in the west side. Towards evening, however, the rioters
ceased their aimless and capricious violence, and adopted in their
madness the dangerous method of Parisian mobs. They began throwing
up a series of barricades in Eighth Avenue. Vehicles of all
kinds within reach, telegraph poles, boxes,--anything that would
obstruct,--were wired together. Barricades were also erected on
cross-streets, to prevent flank movements. Captain Walling, of the
police, who was on duty in the precinct, appreciated the importance
of abolishing this feature from street fighting as speedily
as possible, and telegraphed to headquarters for a co-operating
military force. He also sent to General Sanford, at the arsenal,
for troops. They were promised, but never sent. General Brown,
fortunately, was a man of a very different stamp from Sanford, and
he promptly sent a body of regulars.

Captain Slott took command of the police detailed to co-operate
with the soldiers, and, with their officers, waited impatiently
and vainly for the company promised by Sanford. Meanwhile the mob
was strengthening its defences with breathless energy, and the sun
was sinking in the west. As the difficult and dangerous work to be
done required daylight it was at last resolved to wait no longer.

As the assailants drew near the barricade, they received a volley,
accompanied by stones and other missiles. The police fell back a
little to the left, and the troops, advancing, returned the fire.
But the rioters did not yield, and for a time the crash of musketry
resounded through the avenue, giving the impression of a regular
pitched battle. The accurate aim of the soldiers, however, at last
decided the contest, and the rioters fled to the second barricade,
followed by the troops, while the police tore away the captured
obstruction.

Obtaining a musket and cartridges from a wounded soldier, Merwyn,
by explaining that he was a good marksman, obtained the privilege
of fighting on the left flank of the military.


The mob could not endure the steady, well-directed fire of the
regulars, and one barricade after another was carried, until the
rioters were left uncovered when they fled, shrieking, yelling,
cursing in their impotent rage,--the police with their clubs and
the soldiers with their rifles following and punishing them until
the streets were clear.

Merwyn, having been on duty all day, obtained a leave of absence till
the following morning, and, availing himself of his old device to
save time and strength, went to a livery stable near the station-house
and obtained a hack by payment of double the usual fare. Mounting
the box with the driver, and avoiding crowds, he was borne rapidly
towards Mr. Vosburgh's residence. He was not only terribly exhausted,
but also consumed with anxiety as to the safety of the girl who
had never been absent long from his thoughts, even in moments of
the fiercest conflict.



CHAPTER XLIX.

ONE FACING HUNDREDS.



THE evening was growing dusky when Merwyn dismissed his carriage
and hastened to Mr. Vosburgh's residence. Marian and her father
had waited for him until their faces were clouded with anxiety by
reason of his long delay. The young girl's attempt to dine with
her father was but a formal pretence.

At last she exclaimed, "Something must have happened to Mr. Merwyn!"

"Do not entertain gloomy thoughts, my dear. A hundred things besides
an injury might have detained him. Keep a good dinner ready, and
I think he'll do justice to it before the evening is over."

Even then the German servant announced his presence at the basement
door, which, in view of the disguises worn, was still used as the
place of ingress and egress.

Mr. Vosburgh hastened to welcome him, while Marian bustled around to
complete her preparations. When he entered the dining-room he did
indeed appear weary and haggard, a fair counterpart of the rioters
whom he had been fighting.

"Only necessity, Miss Vosburgh, compels me to present myself in this
scarecrow aspect," he said. "I've had no time or chance for anything
better. I can soon report to your father all that is essential,
and then can go home and return later."

"I shall be much hurt if you do so," said Marian, reproachfully.
"I kept a lunch prepared for you during the afternoon, and now have
a warm dinner all ready. It will be very ungracious in you to go
away and leave it."

"But I look like a coal-heaver."

"Oh, I've seen well-dressed men before. They are no novelty; but a
man direct from a field of battle is quite interesting. Will you
please take this chair? You are not in the least like my other
friends. They obey me without questionings."

"You must remember," he replied, "that the relation is to me as new
and strange as it is welcome. I shall need a great deal of discipline."

"When you learn what a martinet I can be you may repent, like many
another who has obtained his wish. Here we shall reverse matters.
Everything is topsy-turvy now, you know, so take this coffee at
the beginning of your dinner."

"I admit that your orders differ widely from those of police captains."
Then he added, with quiet significance, "No; I shall not repent."

"Mr. Merwyn, will you take an older man's advice?"

"Certainly. Indeed, I am under your orders, also, for the night."

"I'm glad to hear it, for it will be a night of deep anxiety to
me.  Make a very light dinner, and take more refreshment later. You
are too much exhausted to dine now. You need not tell me of your
morning adventures. I learned about those at headquarters."

"I have heard about them too," Marian added, with a look that
warmed the young fellow's soul. "I have also had a visit from Mrs.
Ghegan, and her story was not so brief as yours."

"From what section have you just come?" Mr. Vosburgh asked.

Merwyn gave a brief description of the condition of affairs on the
west side, ending with an account of the fight at the barricades.

"In one respect you are like my other friends, only more so,"
Marian said. "You are inclined to give me Hamlet with Hamlet left
out. What part did you take at the barricades?"

He told her in a matter-of-fact way.

"Ah, yes, I understand. I am learning to read between the lines of
your stories."

"Well, Heaven be thanked," ejaculated Mr. Vosburgh, "that you demolished
the barricades! If the rioters adopt that mode of fighting us, we
shall have far greater difficulty in coping with them."

At last Mr. Vosburgh said, "Will you please come with me to my
library for a few minutes?"

On reaching the apartment he closed the door, and continued, gravely:
"Mr. Merwyn, I am in sore straits. You have offered to aid me. I
will tell you my situation, and then you must do as you think best.
I know that you have done all a man's duty to-day and have earned
the right to complete rest. You will also naturally wish to look
after your own home. Nevertheless my need and your own words lead
me to suggest that you stay here to-night, or at least through
the greater portion of it. I fear that I have been recognized and
followed,--that I have enemies on my track. I suspect the man whom
I discharged from the care of my office. Yet I must go out, for I
have important despatches to send, and--what is of more consequence--I
must make some careful observations. The mob seems to be a mere
lawless, floundering monster, bent chiefly on plunder; but the
danger is that leaders are organizing its strength as a part of the
rebellion. You can understand that, while I look upon the outbreak
with the solicitude of a citizen whose dearest interests are at
stake, I also, from habit of mind and duty, must study it as a part
of the great campaign of the year. If there are organizers at work
there will be signals to-night, and I can see them from a tall
neighboring church-spire. Yet how can I leave my child alone? How--"

"Mr. Vosburgh," cried Merwyn, "what honor or privilege could I ask
greater than that of being your daughter's protector during your
absence? I understand you perfectly. You feel that you must do your
duty at any cost to yourself. After what you have said, nothing
could induce me to go away. Indeed, I would stand guard without
your door, were there no place for me within."

"There, I won't thank you in words," said the elder man, wringing
Merwyn's hand. "Will you do as I wish?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then lie down on the sofa in the front parlor and sleep while you
can. The least disturbance in the street would waken you there.
Marian will watch from an upper window and give you warning if
anything occurs. It is possible that I may be set upon when returning
home, but I think not, for I shall enter the house from the rear;"
and he told the young man of the means of exit which he had secured
in case the house was attacked. "Rather than permit my child to
take any risks," concluded the father, solemnly, "fly with her and
the woman who will be her companion till I return. Beyond the fact
of general danger to all homes, she does not suspect anything, nor
shall I increase her anxieties by telling her of my fears. She will
be vigilant on general principles. Have you arms?"

"I have fired most of my cartridges to-day."

"Well here is a revolver and a repeating rifle that you can depend
upon. Do you understand the latter weapon?"

"Yes, I have one like it."

"I will now tell Marian of my plans, so far as it is wise for her
to know them, and then, God help and protect us all! Come, I wish
you to lie down at once, for every moment of rest may be needed."

When they descended, Mr. Vosburgh said to his daughter, laughingly,
"Mr. Merwyn is under orders, and can have nothing more to say to
you to-night."

The young fellow, in like vein, brought the rifle to his shoulder,
presented arms to her, wheeled, and marched to his station in the
darkened front parlor. Before lying down, however, he opened one
blind for an outlook.

"Do you fear any special danger to-night, papa?" Marian asked,
quickly.

"I have been expecting special dangers from the first," replied her
father, gently. "While I must do my duty I shall also take such
precautions as I can. Merwyn will be your protector during my
absence. Now take your station at your upper window and do your
part." He explained briefly what he expected of her. "In case of
an attack," he concluded, almost sternly, "you must fly before it
is too late. I shall now go and prepare Mr. Erkmann for the possible
emergency, and then go out through the basement door as usual,
after giving our loyal German her directions."

A few moments later he had departed, all were at their posts, and
the house was quiet.

Merwyn felt the necessity of rest, for every bone in his body ached
from fatigue; but he did not dream of the possibility of sleep.
His heart was swelling with pride and joy that he had become, not
only the friend of the girl he loved, but also her trusted protector.

But at last Nature claimed her dues, and he succumbed and slept.

Mr. Vosburgh, unmolested, climbed to his lofty height of observation.
The great city lay beneath him with its myriad lights, but on Third
Avenue, from 40th Street northward for a mile, there was a hiatus
of darkness. There the mob had begun, and there still dwelt its
evil spirit uncurbed. The rioters in that district had cut off
the supply of gas, feeling, as did the French revolutionists, that
"Light was not in order."

Mr. Vosburgh watched that long stretch of gloom with the greatest
anxiety. Suddenly from its mystery a rocket flamed into the sky.
Three minutes elapsed and another threw far and wide its ominous
light. Again there was an interval of three minutes, when a third
rocket confirmed the watcher's fears that these were signals. Four
minutes passed, and then, from the vicinity of Union Square, what
appeared to be a great globe of fire rose to an immense height.
A few seconds later there was an answering rocket far off in the
eastern districts of Brooklyn.

These were indeed portents in the sky, and Mr. Vosburgh was perplexed
as to their significance. Were they orders or at least invitations,
for a general uprising against all authority? Was the rebellion
against the government about to become general in the great centres
of population? With the gloomiest of forebodings he watched for
two hours longer, but only heard the hoarse murmur of the unquiet
city, which occasionally, off to the west, became so loud as to
suggest the continuance of the strife of the day. At last he went
to the nearest available point and sent his despatches, then stole
by a circuitous route to the dwelling of Mr. Erkmann, who was
watching for him.

Marian's vigilance was sleepless. While she had been burdened
throughout the day with the deepest anxieties, she had been engaged
in no exhausting efforts, and the novelty of her present position
and her new emotions banished the possibility of drowsiness. She
felt as if she had lived years during the past two days. The city
was full of dangers nameless and horrible, yet she was conscious
of an exaltation of spirit and of a happiness such as she had never
known.

The man whom she had despised as a coward was her protector, and
she wondered at her sense of security. She almost longed for an
opportunity to prove that her courage could now be equal to his,
and her eyes flashed in the darkness as they glanced up and down
the dusky street; again they became gentle in her commiseration
of the weary man in the room below, and gratefully she thanked God
that he had been spared through the awful perils of the day.

Suddenly her attention was caught by the distant tramp of many
feet.  She threw open a blind and listened with a beating heart.
Yes, a mob was coming, nearer, nearer; they are at the corner. With
a sudden outburst of discordant cries they are turning into this
very street.

A moment later her hand was upon Merwyn's shoulder. "Wake, wake,"
she cried; "the mob is coming--is here."

He was on his feet instantly with rifle in hand. Through the window
he saw the dusky forms gathering about the door. The German woman
stood behind Marian, crying and wringing her hands.

"Miss Vosburgh, you and the woman do as I bid," Merwyn said, sternly.
"Go to the rear of the hall, open the door, and if I say, 'Fly,'
or if I fall, escape for your lives."

"But what will you--"

"Obey!" he cried, with a stamp of his foot.

They were already in the hall, and did as directed.

Imagine Marian's wonder as she saw him throw open the front door,
step without, and fire instantly. Then, dropping his rifle on his
arm, he began to use his revolver. She rushed to his side and saw
the mob, at least three hundred strong, scattering as if swept away
by a whirlwind.

Merwyn's plan of operations had been bold, but it proved the best
one. In the streets he had learned the effect of fearless, decisive
action, and he had calculated correctly on the panic which so often
seized the undisciplined hordes. They probably believed that his
boldness was due to the fact that he had plenty of aid at hand.
So long as there was a man within range he continued to fire, then
became aware of Marian's presence.

"O Miss Vosburgh," he said, earnestly, "you should not look on
sights like these;" for a leader of the mob lay motionless on the
pavement beneath them.

He took her hand, which trembled, led her within, and refastened
the door. Her emotion was so strong that she dared not speak.

"Why did you take such a risk?" he asked, gravely. "What would
your father have said to me if one of those wretches had fired and
wounded you?"

"I--I only realized one thing--that you were facing hundreds all
alone," she faltered.

"Why, Miss Marian, I was only doing my duty, and I took the safest
way to perform it. I had learned from experience that the bluff game
is generally the best. No doubt I gave those fellows the impression
that there were a dozen armed men in the house."

But her emotion was too strong for control, and she sobbed: "It was
the bravest thing I ever heard of. Oh! I have done you SUCH wrong!
Forgive me. I--I--can't--" and she hastened up the dusky stairway,
followed by her servant, who was profuse in German interjections.

"I am repaid a thousand-fold," was Merwyn's quiet comment. "My oath
cannot blight my life now."

Sleep had been most effectually banished from his eyes, and as he
stood in the unlighted apartment, motionless and silent, looking
out upon the dusky street, but a few moments passed before a man
and a woman approached cautiously, lifted the slain rioter, and
bore him away.

In less than half an hour Mr. Vosburgh entered his house from the
rear so silently that he was almost beside Merwyn before his approach
was recognized.

"What, Merwyn!" he exclaimed, with a little chiding in his tone;
"is this the way you rest? You certainly haven't stood here, 'like
Patience on a monument,' since I left?"

"No, indeed. You are indebted to Miss Vosburgh that you have a home
to come to, for I slept so soundly that the house might have been
carried off bodily. The mob has been here."

"O papa!" cried Marian, clasping her arms about his neck, "thank
God you are back safe! Oh, it was all so sudden and terrible!"

"But how, how, Merwyn? What has happened?"

"Well, sir, Miss Vosburgh was a better sentinel than I, and heard
the first approach of the ruffians. I was sleeping like old Rip
himself. She wakened me. A shot or two appeared to create a panic,
and they disappeared like a dream, as suddenly as they had come."

"Just listen to him, papa!" cried the girl, now reassured by her
father's presence, and recovering from her nervous shock. "Why
shouldn't he sleep after such a day as he has seen? It was his duty
to sleep, wasn't it? The idea of two sentinels in a small garrison
keeping awake, watching the same points!"

"I'm very glad you obtained some sleep, Merwyn, and surely you had
earned it; but as yet I have a very vague impression of this mob
and of the fight. I looked down the street but a few moments ago,
and it seemed deserted. It is quiet now. Have you not both slept
and dreamed?"

"No, papa," said the girl, shudderingly; "there's a dead man at
the foot of our steps even now."

"You are mistaken, Miss Vosburgh. As usual, his friends lost no
time in carrying him off."

"Well, well," cried Mr. Vosburgh, "this is a longer story than I can
listen to without something to sustain the inner man. Riten,"--to
the servant,--"some fresh coffee please. Now for the lighted
dining-room,--that's hidden from the street,--where we can look
into each other's faces. So much has happened the last two days
that here in the dark I begin to feel as if it all were a nightmare.
Ah! how cosey and home-like this room seems after prowling in the
dangerous streets with my hand on the butt of a revolver! Come now,
Marian, sit down quietly and tell the whole story. I can't trust
Merwyn at all when he is the hero of the tale."

"You may well say that. I hope, sir," with a look of mock severity
at the young fellow, "that your other reports to papa are more
accurate than the one I have heard. Can you believe it, papa? he
actually threw open the front door and faced the entire mob alone."

"I beg your pardon, Miss Vosburgh, as I emptied my revolver and
looked around, a lady stood beside me. I've seen men do heroic
things to-day, but nothing braver than that."

"But I didn't think!" cried the girl; "I didn't realize--" and then
she paused, while her face crimsoned. Her heart had since told her
why she had stepped to his side.

"But you would have thought twice, yes, a hundred times," said
Merwyn, laughing, "if you hadn't been a soldier. Jove! how Strahan
will stare when he hears of it!"

"Please, never tell him," exclaimed the girl.

Her father now stood encircling her with his arm, and looking
fondly down upon her. "Well, thank God we're all safe yet! and,
threatening as is the aspect of affairs, I believe we shall see
happy days of peace and security before very long."

"I am so glad that mamma is not in the city!" said Marian, earnestly.

"Oh that you were with her, my child!"

"I'm better contented where I am," said the girl, with a decided
little nod.

"Yes, but great God! think of what might have happened if Merwyn
had not been here,--what might still have happened had he not had
the nerve to take, probably, the only course which could have saved
you!  There, there, I can't think of it, or I shall be utterly
unnerved."

"Don't think of it, papa. See, I'm over the shock of it already.
Now don't you be hysterical as I was yesterday."

He made a great effort to rally, but it was evident that the
strong man was deeply agitated. They all, however, soon regained
self-control and composure, and spent a genial half-hour together,
Merwyn often going to the parlor, that he might scan the street.
After a brief discussion of plans for the morrow they separated
for the night, Merwyn resuming his bivouac in the parlor. After
listening for a time he was satisfied that even mobs must rest,
and, as the soldiers slept on their arms, he slumbered, his rifle
in hand.

When Marian bade her father good-night he took her face in his
hands and gazed earnestly down upon it. The girl understood his
expression, and the color came into her fair countenance like a
June dawn.

"Do you remember, darling, my words when I said, 'I do not know
how much it might cost you in the end to dismiss Mr. Merwyn finally'?"

"Yes, papa."

"Are you not learning how much it might have cost you?"

"Yes, papa," with drooping eyes.

He kissed her, and nothing more was said.



CHAPTER L.

ZEB.



MERWYN awoke early, and, as soon as he heard the German servant
coming down-stairs, wrote a line to Mr. Vosburgh saying that he
would call on his way to headquarters, and then hastened through the
almost deserted streets to his own home. To his great satisfaction
he found everything unchanged there. After luxuriating in a bath
and a bountiful breakfast he again instructed his man to be on the
watch, and to keep up a fire throughout the coming night, so that
a hot meal might be had speedily at any time.

More than once the thought had crossed his mind: "Unless we make
greater headway with the riot, that attack on Mr. Vosburgh's house
will be repeated. Vengeance alone would now prompt the act, and
besides he is undoubtedly a marked man. There's no telling what may
happen. Our best course is to fight, fight, knock the wretches on
the head. With the quelling of the mob comes safety;" and, remembering
the danger that threatened Marian, he was in a savage mood.

On this occasion, he went directly to Mr. Vosburgh's residence,
resolving to take no risks out of the line of duty. His first thought
now was the securing of Marian's safety. He had learned that there
was no longer any special need for personal effort on his part to
gain information, since the police authorities had wires stretching
to almost every part of the city. An account of the risks taken
to keep up this telegraphic communication would make a strange,
thrilling chapter in itself. Moreover, police detectives were busy
everywhere, and Mr. Vosburgh at headquarters and with the aid of his
own agents could now obtain all the knowledge essential.  Therefore
the young fellow's plan was simple, and he indicated his course at
once after a cordial greeting from Mr. Vosburgh and Marian.

"Hard fighting appears to me to be the way to safety," said he. "I
can scarcely believe that the rioters will endure more than another
day of such punishment as they received yesterday. Indeed, I should
not be surprised if to-day was comparatively quiet."

"I agree with you," said Mr. Vosburgh, "unless the signals I saw
last night indicate a more general uprising than has yet taken
place. The best elements of the city are arming and organizing.
There is a deep and terrible anger rising against the mob and all
its abettors and sympathizers."

"I know it," cried Merwyn; "I feel it myself. When I think of the
danger which threatened your home and especially Miss Vosburgh, I
feel an almost ungovernable desire to be at the wretches."

"But that means greater peril for you," faltered the young girl.

"No, it means the shortest road to safety for us all. A mob is like
fire: it must be stamped out of existence as soon as possible."

"I think Merwyn is right," resumed Mr. Vosburgh. "Another day
of successful fighting will carry us to safety, for the general
government is moving rapidly in our behalf, and our militia regiments
are on their way home. I'll be ready to go to headquarters with
you in a minute."

"Oh, please do not be rash to-day. If you had fallen yesterday
think what might have happened," said Marian.

"Every blow I strike to-day, Miss Vosburgh, will be nerved by the
thought that you have one enemy, one danger, the less; and I shall
esteem it the greatest of privileges if I can remain here to-night
again as one of your protectors."

"I cannot tell you what a sense of security your presence gives
me," she replied. "You seem to know just what to do and how to do
it."

"Well," he answered, with a grim laugh, "one learns fast in these
times. A very stern necessity is the mother of invention."

"Yes," sighed the girl, "one learns fast. Now that I have seen war,
it is no longer a glorious thing, but full of unspeakable horrors."

"This is not war," said Merwyn, a little bitterly. "I pity, while
I detest, the poor wretches we knock on the head. Your friends,
who have fought the elite of the South will raise their eyebrows
if they hear us call this war."

"I have but one friend who has faced a mob alone," she replied,
with a swift, shy glance.

"A friend whom that privilege made the most fortunate of men," he
replied. "Had the rioters been Southern soldiers, they would have
shot me instantly, instead of running away."

"All my friends soon learn that I am stubborn in my opinions," was
her laughing reply, as her father joined them.

Mr. Erkmann on the next street north was a sturdy, loyal man, and
he permitted Mr. Vosburgh and Merwyn to pass out through his house,
so that to any one who was watching the impression would be given
that at least two men were in the house. Burdened with a sense of
danger, Mr. Vosburgh had resolved on brief absences, believing that
at headquarters and through his agents he could learn the general
drift of events.

Broadway wore the aspect of an early Sunday morning in quiet times.
Pedestrians were few, and the stages had ceased running. The iron
shutters of the great Fifth Avenue and other hotels were securely
fastened. No street cars jingled along the side avenues; shops
were closed; and the paralysis of business was almost complete in
its greatest centres. At police headquarters, however, the most
intense activity prevailed. Here were gathered the greater part
of the police force and of the military co-operating with it The
neighboring African church was turned into a barrack. Acton occupied
other buildings, with or without the consent of the owners.

The top floor of the police building was thronged with colored
refugees, thankful indeed to have found a place of safety, but many
were consumed with anxiety on account of absent ones.

The sanguine hopes for a more quiet day were not fulfilled, but the
severest fighting was done by the military, and cavalry now began
to take part in the conflict. On the west side, Seventh Avenue was
swept again and again with grape and canister before the mob gave
way. On the east side there were several battles, and in one of
them, fought just before night, the troops were compelled to retreat,
leaving some of their dead and wounded in the streets.  General
Brown sent Captain Putnam with one hundred and fifty regulars
to the scene of disaster and continued violence, and a sanguinary
conflict ensued between ten and eleven o'clock at night.  Putnam
swept the dimly lighted streets with his cannon, and when the
rioters fled into the houses he opened such a terrible fire upon
them as to subdue all resistance. The mob was at last learning that
the authorities would neither yield nor scruple to make use of any
means in the conflict.

In the great centres down town, things were comparatively quiet.
The New York Times took matters into its own hands. A glare of
light from the windows of its building was shed after night-fall
over Printing-House Square, and editors and reporters had their
rifles as readily within reach as their pens.

We shall not follow Merwyn's adventures, for that would involve
something like a repetition of scenes already described. As the
day was closing, however, he took part in an affair which explained
the mystery of Mammy Borden's disappearance.

During the first day of the riot the colored woman had seen enough
to realize her own danger and that of her son, and she was determined
to reach him and share his fate, whatever it might be.  She had
no scruple in stealing away from Mr. Vosburgh's house, for by her
departure she removed a great peril from her employers and friends.
She was sufficiently composed, however, to put on a heavy veil and
gloves, and so reached her son in safety. Until the evening of the
third day of the riot, the dwelling in which they cowered escaped
the fury of the mob, although occupied by several colored families.
At last the hydra-headed monster fixed one of its baleful eyes
upon the spot. Just as the occupants of the house were beginning
to hope, the remorseless wretches came, and the spirit of Tophet
broke loose. The door was broken in with axes, and savage men streamed
into the dwelling. The poor victims tried to barricade themselves
in the basement, but their assailants cut the water-pipes and would
have drowned them. Driven out by this danger, the hunted creatures
sought to escape through the yard. As Zeb was lifting his mother
over the fence the rioters came upon her and dragged her back.

"Kill me, kill me," cried Zeb, "but spare my mother."

They seemed to take him at his word. Two of the fiends held his
arms, while another struck him senseless and apparently dead with
a crowbar. Then, not accepting this heroic self-sacrifice, they
began to beat the grief-frenzied mother. But retribution was at
hand. The cries of the victims and the absorption of the rioters
in their brutal work prevented them from hearing the swift, heavy
tread of the police. A moment later Merwyn and others rushed through
the hallway, and the ruffians received blows similar to the one
which had apparently bereft poor Zeb of life. The rioters were
either dispersed or left where they fell, a wagon was impressed,
and Zeb and his mother were brought to headquarters. Merwyn had soon
recognized Mrs. Borden, but she could not be comforted. Obtaining
leave of absence, the young man waited until the evening grew
dusky; then securing a hack from a stable near headquarters, the
proprietor of which was disposed to loyalty by reason of his numerous
blue-coated neighbors, he took the poor woman and the scarcely
breathing man to a hospital, and left money for their needs. The
curtains of the carriage had been closely drawn; but if the crowds
through which they sometimes passed had guessed its occupants,
they would have instantly met a tragic fate, while Merwyn's and
the driver's chances would have been scarcely better.



CHAPTER LI.

A TRAGEDY.



MR. VOSBURGH and his daughter had passed a very anxious day, the
former going out but seldom. The information obtained from the
city had not been reassuring, for while the authorities had under
their direction larger bodies of men, and lawlessness was not
so general, the mob was still unquelled and fought with greater
desperation in the disaffected centres. In the after-part of the day
Mr. Vosburgh received the cheering intelligence that the Seventh
Regiment would arrive that night, and that other militia organizations
were on their way home. Therefore he believed that if they escaped
injury until the following morning all cause for deep anxiety would
pass away. As the hours elapsed and no further demonstration was
made against his home, his hopes grew apace, and now, as he and
his daughter waited for Merwyn before dining, he said, "I fancy
that the reception given to the mob last night has curbed their
disposition to molest us."

"O papa, what keeps Mr. Merwyn?"

"Well, my dear, I know he was safe at noon."

"Oh, oh, I do hope that this will be the last day of this fearful
suspense! Isn't it wonderful what Mr. Merwyn has done in the past
few days?"

"Not so wonderful as it seems. Periods like these always develop
master-spirits, or rather they give such spirits scope. How little
we knew of Acton before this week! yet at the beginning he seized
the mob by the throat and has not once relaxed his grasp. He has
been the one sleepless man in the city, and how he endures the
strain is almost beyond mortal comprehension. The man and the hour
came together. The same is true of Merwyn in his sphere. He had been
preparing for this, hoping that it would give him an opportunity
to right himself. Fearless as the best of your friends, he combines
with courage the singularly cool, resolute nature inherited from
his father. He is not in the least ambitious for distinction, but
is only bent on carrying out his own aims and purposes."

"And what are they, papa?"

"Sly fox! as if you did not know. Who first came to your protection?"

"And to think how I treated him!"

"Quite naturally, under the circumstances. The mystery of his former
restraint is still unexplained, but I now think it due to family
reasons. Yet why he should be so reluctant to speak of them is still
another mystery. He has no sympathy with the South or his mother's
views, yet why should he not say, frankly, 'I cannot fight against
my mother's people'? When we think, however, that the sons of the
same mother are often arrayed against each other in this war, such
a reason as I have suggested appears entirely inadequate. All his
interests are at the North, and he is thoroughly loyal; but when I
intimated, last evening, that he might wish to spend the night in
his own home to insure its protection, it seemed less than nothing
to him compared with your safety. He has long had this powerful
motive to win your regard, and yet there has been some restraint
more potent."

"But you trust him now, papa?"

"Yes."

Thus they talked until the clock struck eight, and Marian, growing
pallid with anxiety and fear, went to the darkened parlor window
to watch for Merwyn, then returned and looked at her father with
something like dismay on her face.

Before he could speak, she exclaimed, "Ah! there is his ring;" and
she rushed toward the door, paused, came back, and said, blushingly,
"Papa, you had better admit him."

Mr. Vosburgh smilingly complied.

The young fellow appeared in almost as bad a plight as when he
had come in on Monday night and gone away with bitter words on his
lips.  He was gaunt from fatigue and long mental strain. His first
words were: "Thank God you we still all safe! I had hoped to be
here long before this, but so much has happened!"

"What!" exclained Marian, "anything worse than took place yesterday?"

"No, and yes." Then, with an appealing look; "Miss Marian, a cup
of your good coffee. I feel as if a rioter could knock me down with
a feather."

She ran to the kitchen herself to see that it was of the best possible
quality, and Merwyn, sinking into a chair, looked gloomily at his
host and said: "We have made little if any progress. The mob grows
more reckless and devilish."

"My dear fellow," cried Mr. Vosburgh, "the Seventh Regiment will
be here to-night, and others are on the way;" and he told of the
reassuring tidings he had received.

"Thank Heaven for your news! I have been growing despondent during
the last few hours."

"Take this and cheer up," cried Marian. "The idea of your being
despondent! You are only tired to death, and will have a larger
appetite for fighting to-morrow, I fear, than ever."

"No; I witnessed a scene this evening that made me sick of it all.
Of course I shall do my duty to the end, but I wish that others
could finish it up. More than ever I envy your friends who can fight
soldiers;" and then he told them briefly of the scene witnessed in
the rescue of Mammy Borden and her son.

"Oh, horrible! horrible!" exclaimed the girl. "Where are they now?"

"I took them from headquarters to a hospital. They both need the
best surgical attention, though poor Zeb, I fear, is past help."

"Merwyn," said Mr. Vosburgh, gravely, "you incurred a fearful risk
in taking those people through the streets."

"I suppose so," replied the young fellow, quietly; "but in a sense
they were a part of your household, and the poor creatures were in
such a desperate plight that--"

"Mr. Merwyn," cried Marian, a warm flush mantling her face, "you
are a true knight. You have perilled your life for the poor and
humble."

He looked at her intently a moment, and then said, quietly, "I
would peril it again a thousand times for such words from YOU."

To hide a sudden confusion she exclaimed: "Great Heavens! what
differences there are in men! Those who would torture and kill
these inoffensive people have human forms."

"Men are much what women make them; and it would almost seem that
women are the chief inspiration of this mob. The draft may have
been its inciting cause, but it has degenerated into an insatiable
thirst for violence, blood, and plunder. I saw an Irishwoman to-day
who fought like a wild-cat before she would give up her stolen
goods."

The German servant Riten now began to place dinner on the table,
Mr.  Vosburgh remarking, "We had determined to wait for you on this
occasion."

"What am I thinking of?" cried Merwyn. "If this thing goes on I
shall become uncivilized. Mr. Vosburgh, do take me somewhere that
I may bathe my hands and face, and please let me exchange this horrid
blouse, redolent of the riot, for almost any kind of garment. I
could not sit at the table with Miss Vosburgh in my present guise."

"Yes, papa, give him your white silk waistcoat and dress-coat,"
added Marian, laughing.

"Come with me," said Mr. Vosburgh, "and I'll find you an outfit
for the sake of your own comfort."

"I meant to trespass on your kindness when I first came in, but mind
and body seemed almost paralyzed. I feel better already, however.
While we are absent may I ask if you have your weapons ready?"

"Yes, I have a revolver on my person, and my rifle is in the
dining-room."

A few moments later the gentlemen descended, Merwyn in a sack-coat
that hung rather loosely on his person. Before sitting down he
scanned the street, which was quiet.

"My former advice, Merwyn," said his host; "you must make a light
meal and wait until you are more rested."

"O papa, what counsel to give a guest!"

"Counsel easily followed," said Merwyn. "I crave little else than
coffee. Indeed, your kindness, Miss Vosburgh, has so heartened me,
that I am rallying fast."

"Since everything is to be in such great moderation, perhaps I have
been too prodigal of that," was the arch reply.

"I shall be grateful for much or little."

"Oh, no, don't put anything on the basis of gratitude. I have too
much of that to be chary of it."

"A happy state of affairs," said Merwyn, "since what you regard
as services on my part are priceless favors to me. I can scarcely
realize it, and have thought of it all day, that I only, of all
your friends, can be with you now. Strahan will be green with envy,
and so I suppose will the others."

"I do not think any the less of them because it is impossible for
them to be here," said the young girl, blushing.

"Of course not. It's only my immense good fortune. They would give
their right eyes to stand in my shoes."

"I hope I may soon hear that they are all recovering. I fear that
Mr. Lane's and Mr. Strahan's wounds are serious; and, although Mr.
Blauvelt made light of his hurt, he may find that it is no trifle."

"It would seem that I am doomed to have no honorable scars."

"Through no fault of yours, Mr. Merwyn. I've thought so much of
poor mamma to-day! She must be wild with anxiety about us."

"I think not," said Mr. Vosburgh. "I telegraphed to her yesterday
and to-day. I admit they were rather misleading messages."

From time to time Mr. Vosburgh went to the outlook on the street,
but all remained apparently quiet in their vicinity. Yet an hour of
fearful peril was drawing near. A spirit of vengeance, and a desire
to get rid of a most dangerous enemy, prompted another attack on
Mr.  Vosburgh's home that night; and, taught by former experience,
the assailants had determined to approach quietly and fight till
they should accomplish their purpose. They meant to strike suddenly,
swiftly, and remorselessly.

The little group in the dining-room, however, grew confident with
every moment of immunity; yet they could not wholly banish their
fears, and Mr. Vosburgh explained to Merwyn how he had put bars on
the outside of the doors opening into the back yard, a bolt also
on the door leading down-stairs to the basement.

But they dined very leisurely, undisturbed; then at Marian's request
the gentlemen lighted their cigars. Mr. Vosburgh strolled away to
see that all was quiet and secure.

"I shouldn't have believed that I could rally so greatly in so
short a time," said Merwyn, leaning back luxuriously in his chair.
"Last night I was overcome with drowsiness soon after I lay down.
I now feel as if I should never want to sleep again. It will be my
turn to watch to-night, and you must sleep."

"Yes, when I feel like it," replied Marian.

"I think you bear the strain of anxiety wonderfully."

"I am trying to retrieve myself."

"You have retrieved yourself, Miss Vosburgh. You have become a
genuine soldier. It didn't take long to make a veteran of you."

"So much for a good example, you see."

"Oh, well, it's easy enough for a man to face danger. Think how
many thousands do it as a matter of course."

"And must women be timid as a matter of course?"

"Women do not often inspire men as you do, Miss Marian. I know I am
different from what I was, and I think I always shall be different."

"I didn't treat you fairly, Mr. Merwyn, and I've grieved over the
past more than I can tell you."

"And you won't mistrust me again?"

"Never."

"You make me very happy, and you will never know how unhappy I have
been. Even before I left the country, last autumn, I envied the
drummer-boys of Strahan's regiment. I don't wish to take advantage
of your present feeling, or have you forget that I am still under
a miserable restraint which I can't explain. I must probably resume
my old inactive life, while your other friends win fame and rank
in serving their country. Of course I shall give money, but bah!
what's that to a girl like you? When all this hurly-burly in the
streets is over, when conventional life begins again, and I seem
a part of it, will you still regard me as a friend?"

His distrust touched her deeply, when she was giving him her
heart's best love, and her strong feeling caused her to falter as
she said, "Do you think I can grow cold towards the man who risked
his life for me?"

"That is exaggerated gratitude. Any decent man would risk his life
for you. Why, you were as brave as I. I often ask myself, can you
be a friend for my own sake, because of some inherent congeniality?
You have done more for your other friends than they for you, and
yet they are very dear to you, because you esteem them as men. I
covet a like personal regard, and I hope you will teach me to win
it."

"You have won it,--that is--"

"That is--? There is a mental reservation, or you are too truthful
for undoubted assurance when shown that gratitude has no place in
this relation."

She averted her face from his searching eyes, and was deeply
embarrassed.

"I feared it would be so," he said, sadly. "But I do not blame
you.  On the contrary I honor your sincerity. Very well, I shall
be heartily glad of any regard that you can give me, and shall try
to be worthy of it."

"Mr. Merwyn," she said, impetuously, "no friend of mine receives a
stronger, better, or more sincere regard than I give you for your
own sake. There now, trust me as I trust you;" and she gave him
her hand.

He took it in his strong grasp, but she exclaimed, instantly: "You
are feverish. You are ill. I thought your eyes were unnaturally
bright."

"They should be so if it is in the power of happiness to kindle
them!"

"Come now," she cried, assuming a little brusqueness of manner which
became her well; "I've given you my word, and that's my bond. If
you indulge in any more doubts I'll find a way to punish you. I'll
take my 'affidavy' I'm just as good a friend to you as you are to
me. If you doubt me, I shall doubt you."

"I beg your pardon; no you won't, or cannot, rather. You know well
that I have my father's unchangeable tenacity. It's once and always
with me."

"You are speaking riddles," she faltered, averting her face.

"Not at all. I am glad indeed that you can give me simple friendship,
unforced, uncompelled by any other motive than that which actuates
you in regard to the others. But you know well--your most casual
glance would reveal it to you--that I, in whom you have inspired
some semblance of manhood, can never dream of any other woman. When
you see this truth, as you often will, you must not punish me for
it. You must not try to cure me by coldness or by any other of the
conventional remedies, for you cannot. When we meet, speak kindly,
look kindly; and should it ever be not best or right that we should
meet,--that is, often,--we shall not."

"You are scarcely speaking as a friend," she said, in a low voice.

"Will you punish me if I cannot help being far more?"

"No, since you cannot help it," she replied, with a shy laugh.

A new light, a new hope, began to dawn upon him, and he was about
to speak impetuously when Mr. Vosburgh appeared and said, "Merwyn,
I've been watching two men who passed and repassed the house, and
who seem to be reconnoitring."

As Merwyn and Marian accompanied him to the parlor they heard the
heavy booming of cannon off on the east side, and it was repeated
again and again.

"Those are ominous sounds at this time of night," said Mr. Vosburgh.

"That they don't come from the rioters is a comfort," Merwyn replied;
"but it proves what I said before,--they are becoming more bold
and reckless."

"It may also show that the authorities are more stern and relentless
in dealing with them."

At last the sounds of conflict died away, the street appeared quiet
and deserted, and they all returned to the dining-room.

The light enabled Merwyn to look eagerly and questioningly at
Marian. She smiled, flushed, and, quickly averting her eyes, began
to speak on various topics in a way that warned Merwyn to restrain
all further impatience; but she inspired so strong and delicious a
hope that he could scarcely control himself. He even fancied that
there was at times a caressing accent in her tone when she spoke
to him.

"Surely," he thought, "if what I said were repugnant, she would give
some hint of the fact; but how can it be possible that so soon--"

"Come, Marian, I think you may safely retire now," said her father;
"I hear Riten coming up."

Even as he spoke, a front parlor window was crashed in. Merwyn
and Mr. Vosburgh sprung into the hall, revolvers in hand; Riten
instinctively fled back towards the stairs leading to the basement,
in which she had extinguished the light, and Mr. Vosburgh told his
daughter to follow the servant.

But she stood still, as if paralyzed, and saw a man rushing upon
him with a long knife. Mr. Vosburgh fired, but, from agitation,
ineffectually. Merwyn at the same moment had fired on another man,
who fell. A fearful cry escaped from the girl's lips as she saw that
her father was apparently doomed. The gleaming knife was almost
above him. Then--how it happened she could never tell, so swift was
the movement--Merwyn stood before her father. The knife descended
upon his breast, yet at the same instant his pistol exploded against
the man's temple, and the miscreant dropped like a log. There were
sounds of other men clambering in at the window, and Mr. Vosburgh
snatched Merwyn back by main force, saying to Marian, "Quick! for
your life! down the stairs!"

The moment the door closed upon them all he slid the heavy bolt.
Riten stood sobbing at the foot of the stairs.

"Hush!" said Mr. Vosburgh, sternly. "Each one obey me. Out through
the area door instantly."

Across this he also let down a heavy bar, and, taking his daughter's
hand, he hurried her to the fence, removed the boards, and, when all
had passed through, replaced them. Mr. Erkmann, at his neighbor's
request, had left his rear basement door open, and was on the
watch.  He appeared almost instantly, and counselled the fugitives
to remain with him.

"No," said Mr. Vosburgh; "we will bring no more peril than we must
on you. Let us out into the street at once, and then bar and bolt
everything."

"But where can you go at this time?"

"To my house," said Merwyn, firmly. "Please do as Mr. Vosburgh
asks.  It will be safest for all."

"Well, since you will have it so."

"Hasten, hasten," Merwyn urged.

Mr. Erkmann unlatched the door and looked out. The street was quiet
and deserted, and the fugitives rushed away with whispered thanks.

"Marian, tie Riten's apron over your head, so as to partially
disguise your face," said her father.

Fortunately they met but few people, and no crowds whatever. As
they approached Merwyn's home his steps began to grow unsteady.

"Papa," said Marian, in agitated tones, "Mr. Merwyn is wounded; he
wants your support."

"Merciful Heaven, Merwyn! are you wounded?"

"Yes, hasten. I must reach home before giving out."

When they gained his door he had to be almost carried up the steps,
and Mr. Vosburgh rang the bell furiously.

Only a moment or two elapsed before the scared face of Thomas
appeared, but as Merwyn crossed the threshold he fainted.

They carried him to his room, and then Mr. Vosburgh said, "Bring
a physician and lose not a second. Say it is a case of life and
death.  Hold! first bring me some brandy."

"Oh, oh!" Marian moaned, "I fear it's death! O papa he gave his
life for you."

"No, no," was the hoarse response; "it cannot, shall not be. It's
only a wound, and he has fainted from loss of blood. Show your nerve
now. Moisten his lips with brandy. You, Riten, chafe his wrists
with it, while I cut open his shirt and stanch the wound."

A second more and a terrible gash on Merwyn's breast was revealed.
How deep it was they could not know.

Marian held out her handkerchief, and it was first used to stop
the flow of blood. When it was taken away she put it in her bosom.

The old servant, Margy, now rushed in with lamentations.

"Hush!" said Mr. Vosburgh, sternly. "Chafe that other wrist with
brandy."

But the swoon was prolonged, and Marian, pallid to her lips, sighed
and moaned as she did her father's bidding.

Thomas was not very long in bringing a good physician, who had
often attended the family. Marian watched his face as if she were
to read there a verdict in regard to her own life, and Mr. Vosburgh
evinced scarcely less solicitude.

"His pulse certainly shows great exhaustion; but I cannot yet
believe that it is a desperate case. We must first tally him, and
then I will examine his wound. Mr. Vosburgh, lift him up, and let
me see if I cannot make him swallow a little diluted brandy."

At last Merwyn revived somewhat, but did not seem conscious of what
was passing around him. The physician made a hasty examination of
the wound and said, "It is not so severe as to be fatal in itself,
but I don't like the hot, dry, feverish condition of his skin."

"He was feverish before he received the wound," said Marian, in a
whisper. "I fear he has been going far beyond his strength."

"I entreat you, sir, not to leave him," said Mr. Vosburgh, "until
you can give us more hope."

"Rest assured that I shall not. I am the family physician, and I
shall secure for him in the morning the best surgical aid in the
city. All that can be done in these times shall be done. Hereafter
there must be almost absolute quiet, especially when he begins to
notice anything. He must not be moved, or be allowed to move, until
I say it is safe. Perhaps if all retire, except myself and Thomas,
he will be less agitated when he recovers consciousness. Margy,
you make good, strong coffee, and get an early breakfast."

They all obeyed his suggestions at once.

The servant showed Mr. Vosburgh and his daughter into a sitting-room
on the same floor, and the poor girl, relieved from the necessity
of self-restraint, threw herself on a lounge and sobbed and moaned
as if her heart was breaking.

Wise Mr. Vosburgh did not at first restrain her, except by soothing,
gentle words. He knew that this was nature's relief, and that she
would soon be the better and calmer for it.

The physician wondered at the presence of strangers in the Merwyn
residence, and speedily saw how Marian felt towards his patient; but
he had observed professional reticence, knowing that explanations
would soon come. Meanwhile he carefully sought to rally his patient,
and watched each symptom.

At last Merwyn opened his eyes and asked, feebly: "Where am I? What
has happened?"

"You were injured, but are doing well," was the prompt reply. "You
know me, Dr. Henderson, and Thomas is here also. You are in your
own room."

"Yes, I see," and he remained silent for some little time; then
said, "I remember all now."

"You must keep quiet and try not to think, Mr. Merwyn. Your life
depends upon it."

"My mind has a strong disposition to wander."

"The more need of quiet."

"Miss Vosburgh is here. I must see her."

"Yes, by and by."

"Doctor, I fear I am going to be out of my mind. I must see Miss
Vosburgh. I will see her; and if you are wise you will permit me to
do so. My life depends upon it more than upon your skill. Do what
I ask, and I will be quiet."

"Very well, then, but the interview must be brief."

"It must be as I say."

Marian was summoned. Hastily drying her eyes, she tried to suppress
her strong emotion.

Merwyn feebly reached out his hand to her, and she sat down beside
him.

"Do not try to talk," she whispered, taking his hand.

"Yes, I must while I am myself. Dr. Henderson, I love and honor
this girl, and would make her my wife should she consent. I may
be dying, but if she is willing to stay with me, it seems as if
I could live through everything, fever and all. If she is willing
and you do not permit her to stay, I want you to know that my blood
is on your hands! Marian, are you willing to stay?"

"Yes," she replied; and then, leaning down, she whispered: "I do
love you; I have loved you ever since I understood you. Oh, live
for my sake! What would life be now without you?"

"Now you shall stay."

"See, doctor, he is quiet while I am with him," she said, pleadingly.

"And only while you are with me. I know I should die if you were
sent away."

"She shall stay with you, Mr. Merwyn, if you obey my orders in
other respects. I give you my word," said Dr. Henderson.

"Very well. Now have patience with me."

"Thomas," whispered the physician, "have the strongest beef tea
made, and keep it on hand."

Mr. Vosburgh intercepted the man, and was briefly told what had
taken place. "Now there is a chance for them both," the agitated
father muttered, as he restlessly paced the room. "Oh, how terribly
clouded would our lives be, should he die!"



CHAPTER LII.

MOTHER AND SON.



FOR a time Merwyn did keep quiet, but he soon began to mutter
brokenly and unintelligibly. Marian tried to remove her hand to
aid the physician a moment, but she felt the feeble tightening of
his clasp, and he cried, "No, no!"

This, for days, was the last sign he gave of intelligent comprehension
of what was going on around him.

"We must humor him as far as we can in safety," the doctor remarked,
in a low whisper, and so began the battle for life.

Day was now dawning, and Thomas was despatched for a very skilful
surgeon, who came and gave the help of long experience.

At last Dr. Henderson joined Mr. Vosburgh in the breakfast-room, and
the latter sent a cup of coffee to his daughter by the physician,
who said, when he returned: "I think it would be well for me to
know something about Mr. Merwyn's experience during the past few
days. I shall understand his condition better if I know the causes
which led to it."

Mr. Vosburgh told him everything.

"Well," said the doctor, emphatically, "we should do all within
human effort to save such a young fellow."

"I feel that I could give my life to save him," Mr. Vosburgh added.

Hours passed, and Merwyn's delirium became more pronounced. He
released his grasp on Marian's hand, and tossed his arms as if in
the deepest trouble, his disordered mind evidently reverting to
the time when life had been so dark and hopeless.

"Chained, chained," he would mutter. "Cruel, unnatural mother, to
chain her son like a slave. My oath is eating out my very heart.
SHE despises me as a coward. Oh if she knew what I was facing!"
and such was the burden of all his broken words.

The young girl now learned the secret which had been so long
unfathomed. Vainly, with streaming eyes, she tried at first to
reassure him, but the doctor told her it was of no use, the fever
must take its course. Yet her hand upon his brow and cheek often
seemed to have a subtle, quieting spell.

Mr. Vosburgh felt that, whatever happened, he must attend to his
duties. Therefore he went to headquarters and learned that the
crisis of the insurrection had passed. The Seventh Regiment was on
duty, and other militia organizations were near at hand.

He also related briefly how he had been driven from his home on the
previous night, and was told that policemen were in charge of the
building. Having received a permit to enter it, he sent his despatch
to Washington, also a quieting telegram to his wife, assuring her
that all danger was past.

Then he went to his abandoned home and looked sadly on the havoc
that had been made. Nearly all light articles of value had been
carried away, and then, in a spirit of revenge, the rioters had
destroyed and defaced nearly everything. His desk had been broken,
but the secret drawer remained undiscovered. Having obtained his
private papers, he left the place, and, as it was a rented house,
resolved that he would not reside there again.

On his return to Merwyn's home, the first one to greet him was
Strahan, his face full of the deepest solicitude.

"I have just arrived," he said. "I first went to your house and was
overwhelmed at seeing its condition; then I drove here and have
only learned enough to make me anxious indeed. O my accursed wound
and fever! They kept the fact of the riot from me until this morning,
and then I learned of it almost by accident, and came instantly in
spite of them."

"Mr. Strahan, I entreat you to be prudent. I am overwhelmed with
trouble and fear for Merwyn, and I and mine must cause no more
mischief. Everything is being done that can be, and all must be
patient and quiet and keep their senses."

"Oh, I'm all right now. As Merwyn's friend, this is my place.
Remember what he did for me."

"Very well. If you are equal to it I shall be glad to have you
take charge here. As soon as I have learned of my daughter's and
Merwyn's welfare I shall engage rooms at the nearest hotel, and, if
the city remains quiet, telegraph for my wife;" and he sent Thomas
to Dr.  Henderson with a request to see him.

"No special change, and there cannot be very soon," reported the
physician.

"But my daughter--she must not be allowed to go beyond her strength."

"I will look after her as carefully as after my other patient,"
was the reassuring reply.

"It's a strange story, Mr. Strahan," resumed Mr. Vosburgh, when
they were alone. "You are undoubtedly surprised that my daughter
should be one of Merwyn's watchers. He saved my life last night, and
my daughter and home the night before. They are virtually engaged."

"Oh that I had been here!" groaned Strahan.

"Under the circumstances it was well that you were not. It would
probably have cost you your life. Only the strongest and soundest
men could endure the strain. Merwyn came to our assistance from the
first;" and he told the young officer enough of what had occurred
to make it all intelligible to him.

Strahan drew a long breath, then said: "He has won her fairly. I
had suspected his regard for her; but I would rather have had his
opportunity and his wound than be a major-general."

"I appreciate the honor you pay my daughter, but there are some
matters beyond human control," was the kind response.

"I understand all that," said the young man, sadly; "but I can
still be her loyal friend, and that, probably, is all that I ever
could have been."

"I, at least, can assure you of our very highest esteem and respect,
Mr. Strahan;" and after a few more words the gentlemen parted.

The hours dragged on, and at last Dr. Henderson insisted that Marian
should go down to lunch. She first met Strahan in the sitting-room,
and sobbed on his shoulder: "O Arthur! I fear he will die, and if
he does I shall wish to die, too. You must stand by us both like
a loyal brother."

"Marian, I will," he faltered; and he kept his word.

He made her take food, and at last inspired her with something of
his own sanguine spirit.

"Oh, what a comfort it is to have you here!" she said, as she was
returning to her post. "You make despair impossible."

Again the hours dragged slowly on, the stillness of the house
broken only by Merwyn's delirious words. Then, for a time, there
was disquiet in bitter truth.

All through the dreadful night just described, an ocean steamer had
been ploughing its way towards the port of New York. A pilot had
boarded her off Sandy Hook, and strange and startling had been his
tidings to the homeward-bound Americans. The Battle of Gettysburg,
the capture of Vicksburg, and, above all, the riots had been the
burden of his narrations.

Among the passengers were Mrs. Merwyn and her daughters. Dwelling
on the condition of her son's mind, as revealed by his letter, she
had concluded that she must not delay her departure from England an
hour longer than was unavoidable. "It may be," she thought, "that
only my presence can restrain him in his madness; for worse than
madness it is to risk all his future prospects in the South just
when our arms are crowned with victories which will soon fulfil
our hopes. His infatuation with that horrid Miss Vosburgh is the
secret of it all."

Therefore, her heart overflowing with pride and anger, which
increased with every day of the voyage, she had taken an earlier
steamer, and was determined to hold her son to his oath if he had
a spark of sanity left.

Having become almost a monomaniac in her dream of a Southern empire,
she heard in scornful incredulity the rumor of defeat and disaster
brought to her by her daughters. All the pride and passion of her
strong nature was in arms against the bare thought. But at quarantine
papers were received on board, their parallel columns lurid with
accounts of the riot and aglow with details of Northern victories.
It appeared to her that she had sailed from well-ordered England,
with its congenial, aristocratic circles, to a world of chaos.
When the steamer arrived at the wharf, many of the passengers were
afraid to go ashore, but she, quiet, cold, silent, hiding the anger
that raged in her heart, did not hesitate a moment. She came of a
race that knew not what fear meant. At the earliest possible moment
she and her daughters entered a carriage and were driven up town.
The young girls stared in wonder at the troops and other evidences
of a vast disturbance, and when they saw Madison Square filled with
cavalry-horses they exclaimed aloud, "O mamma, see!"

"Yes," said their mother, sternly, "and mark it well. Even these
Northern people will no longer submit to the Lincoln tyranny.
He may win a few brief triumphs, but the day is near when our own
princely leaders will dictate law and order everywhere. The hour
has air passed when he will have the South only to fight;" and in
her prejudice and ignorance she believed her words to be absolutely
infallible.

Strahan met them as they entered, and received but a cold greeting
from the lady.

"Where is Willard?" she asked, hastily.

"Mrs. Merwyn, you must prepare yourself for a great shock. Your
son--"

Her mind was prepared for but one great disaster, and, her self-control
at last giving way, she almost shrieked, "What! has he taken arms
against the South?"

"Mrs. Merwyn," replied Strahan, "is that the worst that could
happen?"

A sudden and terrible dread smote the proud woman, and she sunk
into a chair, while young Estelle Merwyn rushed upon Strahan, and,
seizing his hand, faltered in a whisper, "Is--is--" but she could
proceed no further.

"No; but he soon will be unless reason and affection control your
actions and words. Your family physician is here, Mrs. Merwyn, and
I trust you will be guided by his counsel."

"Send him to me," gasped the mother.

Dr. Henderson soon came and explained in part what had occurred.

"Oh, those Vosburghs!" exclaimed Mrs. Merwyn, with a gesture
of unspeakable revolt at the state of affairs. "Well," she added,
with a stern face, "it is my place and not a stranger's to be at
my son's side."

"Pardon me, madam; you cannot go to your son at all in your present
mood. In an emergency like this a physician is autocrat, and your
son's life hangs by a hair."

"Who has a better right--who can do more for a child than a mother?"

"That should be true, but--" and he hesitated in embarrassment, for
a moment, then concluded, firmly: "Your son is not expecting you,
and agitation now might be fatal to him. There are other reasons
which you will soon understand."

"There is one thing I already understand,--a nameless stranger is
with him, and I am kept away."

"Miss Vosburgh is not a nameless stranger," said Strahan; "and she
is affianced to your son."

"O Heaven! I shall go mad!" the lady groaned, a tempest of conflicting
emotions sweeping through her heart.

"Come, Mrs. Merwyn," said Dr. Henderson, kindly, yet firmly, "take
the counsel of an old friend. Distracted as you naturally are with
all these unexpected and terrible events, you must recognize the
truth that you are in no condition to take upon you the care of
your son now. He would not know you, I fear, yet your voice might
agitate him fatally. I do not forbid you to see him, but I do forbid
that you should speak to him now, and I shall not answer for the
consequences if you do."

"Mamma, mamma, you must be patient and do as Dr. Henderson advises,"
cried Estelle. "When you are calm you will see that he is right.
If anything should happen you would never forgive yourself."

The mother's bitter protest was passing into a deadlier fear, but
she only said, coldly, "Very well; since such are your decrees
I shall go to my room and wait till I am summoned;" and she rose
and left the apartment, followed by her elder daughter, a silent,
reticent girl, whose spirit her mother had apparently quenched.

Estelle lingered until they had gone, and then she turned to Strahan,
who said, with an attempt at a smile, "I can scarcely realize that
this is the little girl whom I used to play with and tease."

But she heeded not his words. Her large, lustrous eyes were dim with
tears, as she asked, falteringly, "Tell me the truth, Mr. Strahan;
do you think my brother is very ill?"

"Yes," he replied, sadly; "and I hope I may be permitted to remain
as one of his watchers. He took care of me, last winter, in an
almost mortal illness, and I would gladly do him a like service."

"But you are hurt. Your arm is in a sling."

"My wound is healing, and I could sit by your brother's side as
well as elsewhere."

"You shall remain," said the girl, emphatically. "I have some of
mamma's spirit, if not all her prejudices. Is this Miss Vosburgh
such a fright?"

"I regard her as the noblest and most beautiful girl I ever saw."

"Oh, you do?"

"Yes."

"Well, I shall go and talk reason to mamma, for sister Berta yields
to everything without a word. You must stay, and I shall do my
share of watching as soon as the doctor permits."

Mrs. Merwyn thought she would remain in her room as she had said,
but the fountains of the great deep in her soul were breaking
up.  She found that the mother in her heart was stronger than the
partisan. She MUST see her son.

At last she sent Thomas for Dr. Henderson again, and obtained
permission to look upon her child. Bitter as the physician knew
the experience would be, it might be salutary. With noiseless tread
she crossed the threshold, and saw Marian's pure, pale profile; she
drew a few steps nearer; the young girl turned and bowed gravely,
then resumed her watch.

For the moment Merwyn was silent, then in a voice all too distinct
he said: "Cruel, unnatural mother, to rob me of my manhood, to
chain me like one of her slaves. Jeff Davis and empire are more to
her than husband or son."

The conscience-stricken woman covered her face with her hands and
glided away. As by a lightning-flash the reason why she had forfeited
her place by the couch of her son was revealed.



CHAPTER LIII.

"MISSY S'WANEE."



THERE is no need of dwelling long on subsequent events. Our story
has already indicated many of them. Mrs. Merwyn's bitter lesson was
emphasized through many weary days. She hovered about her son like
a remorseful spirit, but dared not speak to him. She had learned
too well why her voice might cause fatal agitation. For a time she
tried to ignore Marian, but the girl's gentle dignity and profound
sorrow, her untiring faithfulness, conquered pride at last, and the
mother, with trembling lips, asked forgiveness and besought affection.

Blauvelt arrived in town on the evening of the day just described,
proposing to offer his services to the city authorities, meanwhile
cherishing the secret hope that he might serve Marian. He at last
found Strahan at Merwyn's home. The brother officers talked long
and earnestly, but, while both were reticent concerning their deeper
thoughts, they both knew that a secret dream was over forever.

Marian came down and gave her hand to the artist soldier in warm
pressure as she said, "My friends are loyal in my time of need."

He lingered a day or two in the city, satisfied himself that the
insurrection was over, then went home, bade his old mother good-by,
and joined his regiment. He was soon transferred to the staff of a
general officer, and served with honor and distinction to the end
of the war.

Mrs. Vosburgh joined her husband; and the awful peril through
which he and her daughter had passed awakened in her a deeper sense
of real life. In contemplation of the immeasurable loss which she
might have sustained she learned to value better what she possessed.
By Estelle's tact it was arranged that she could often see Marian
without embarrassment. So far as her nature permitted she shared
in her husband's boundless solicitude for Merwyn.

Warm-hearted Estelle was soon conscious of a sister's affection
for the girl of her brother's choice, and shared her vigils. She
became also a very good friend to Strahan, and entertained a secret
admiration for him, well hidden, however, by a brusque, yet delicate
raillery.

But Strahan believed that the romance of his life was over, and he
eventually joined his regiment with some reckless hopes of "stopping
a bullet" as he phrased it. Gloomy cynicism, however, was not his
forte; and when, before the year was out, he was again promoted,
he found that life was anything but a burden, although he was so
ready to risk it.

At last the light of reason dawned in Merwyn's eyes. He recognized
Marian, smiled, and fell into a quiet sleep. On awakening, he said
to her: "You kept your word, my darling. You did not leave me.
I should have died if you had. I think I never wholly lost the
consciousness that you were near me."

The young girl soon brought about a complete reconciliation between
mother and son, and Merwyn was absolved from his oath. Even as a
devoted husband, which he became at Christmas-tide, she found him
too ready to go to the front. He appeared, however, to have little
ambition for distinction, and was satisfied to enter upon duty in
a very subordinate position; but he did it so well and bravely that
his fine abilities were recognized, and he was advanced. At last,
to his mother's horror, he received a colonel's commission to a
colored regiment.

Many of Mrs. Merwyn's lifelong prejudices were never overcome, and
she remained loyal to the South; but she was taught that mother-love
is the mightiest of human forces, and at last admitted that her
son, as a man, had a right to choose and act for himself.

Mr. Vosburgh remained in the city as the trusted agent of the
government until the close of the war, and was then transferred
to Washington. Every year cemented his friendship with Merwyn,
and the two men corresponded so faithfully that Marian declared
she was jealous. Each knew, however, that their mutual regard and
good-comradeship were among her deepest sources of happiness. While
her husband was absent Marian made the country house on the Hudson
her residence, but in many ways she sought opportunity to reduce the
awful sum of anguish entailed by the war. She often lured Estelle
from the city as her companion, even in bleak wintry weather. Here
Strahan found her when on a leave of absence in the last year of
the war, and he soon learned that he had another heart to lose.
Marian was discreetly blind to his direct and soldier-like siege.
Indeed, she proved the best of allies, aware that the young officer's
time was limited.

Estelle was elusive as a mocking spirit of the air, until the last
day of his leave was expiring, and then laughingly admitted that
she had surrendered almost two years before.

Of the humble characters in my story it is sufficient to say that
Zeb barely survived, and was helpless for life. Pensions from Merwyn
and Lane secured for him and his mother every comfort. Barney Ghegan
eventually recovered, and resumed his duties on the police force.

He often said, "Oi'm proud to wear the uniform that Misther Merwyn
honored."

I have now only to outline the fortunes of Captain Lane and "Missy
S'wanee," and then to take leave of my reader, supposing that he
has had the patience to accompany me thus far.

Lane's wound, reopened by his exertions in escaping to Washington,
kept him helpless on a bed of suffering during the riots and for
weeks thereafter. Then he was granted a long furlough, which he
spent chiefly with his family at the North. Like Strahan he felt
that Merwyn had won Marian fairly. So far was he from cherishing
any bitterness, that he received the successful rival within the
circle of his nearest friends. By being sincere, true to nature and
conscience, Marian retained, not only the friendship and respect
of her lovers, but also her ennobling influence over them. While
they saw that Merwyn was supreme, they also learned that they would
never be dismissed with indifference from her thoughts,--that she
would follow them through life with an affectionate interest and
good-will scarcely less than she would bestow on brothers cradled
in the same home with herself. Lane, with his steadfast nature,
would maintain this relation more closely than the others, but the
reader has already guessed that he would seek to give and to find
consolation elsewhere. Suwanee Barkdale had awakened his strongest
sympathy and respect, and the haunting thought that she, like himself,
had given her love apparently where it could not be returned, made
her seem akin to himself in the deepest and saddest experience.
Gradually and almost unconsciously he gave his thoughts to her,
and began to wonder when and how they should meet again, if ever.
He wrote to her several times, but obtained no answer, no assurance
that his letters were received. When he was fit for duty again his
regiment was in the West, and it remained there until the close of
the war, he having eventually attained to its command.

As soon as he could control his own movements he resolved
to settle one question before he resumed the quiet pursuit of his
profession,--he would learn the fate of "Missy S'wanee." Securing
a strong, fleet horse, he left Washington, and rode rapidly through
a region that had been trampled almost into a desert by the iron
heel of war. The May sun was low in the west when he turned from the
road into the extended lawn which led up to the Barkdale mansion.
Little beyond unsightly stumps was left of the beautiful groves by
which it had been bordered.

Vividly his memory reproduced the same hour, now years since, when
he had ridden up that lawn at the head of his troopers, his sabre
flashing in the last rays of the sun. It seemed ages ago, so much
had happened; but through all the changes and perils the low sob of
the Southern girl when she opened the way for his escape had been
vibrating in stronger and tenderer chords in the depths of his soul.
It had awakened dreams and imaginings which, if dissipated, would
leave but a busy, practical life as devoid of romance as the law-tomes
to which he would give his thoughts. It was natural, therefore,
that his heart should beat fast as he approached the solution of
a question bearing so vitally on all his future.

He concealed himself and his horse behind some low, shrubby trees
that had been too insignificant for the camp fires, long since
burned out, and scanned the battered dwelling. No sign of life was
visible. He was about to proceed and end his suspense at once, when
a lady, clad in mourning, came out and sat down on the veranda. He
instantly recognized Suwanee.

For a few moments Lane could scarcely summon courage to approach.
The surrounding desolation, her badges of bereavement and sorrow,
gave the young girl the dignity and sacredness of immeasurable
misfortune. She who had once so abounded in joyous, spirited life
now seemed emblematical of her own war-wasted and unhappy land,--one
to whom the past and the dead were more than the future and the
living.

Would she receive him? Would she forgive him, one of the authors
of her people's bleeding wounds? He determined to end his suspense,
and rode slowly towards her, that she might not be startled.

At first she did not recognize the stranger in civilian dress,
who was still more disguised by a heavy beard; but she rose and
approached the veranda steps to meet him. He was about to speak,
when she gave a great start, and a quick flush passed over her
face.

Then, as if by the sternest effort, she resumed her quiet, dignified
bearing, as she said, coldly, "You will scarcely wonder, Captain
Lane, that I did not recognize you before." He had dismounted and
stood uncovered before her, and she added, "I regret that I have
no one to take your horse, and no place to stable him, but for
yourself I can still offer such hospitality as my home affords."

Lane was chilled and embarrassed. He could not speak to her in
like distant and formal manner, and he resolved that he would not.
However it might end, he would be true to his own heart and impulses.

He threw the reins on the horse's neck, caring not what became
of him, and stepping to her side, he said, impetuously, "I never
doubted that I should receive hospitality at your home,--that is
refused to no one,--but I did hope for a different greeting."

Again there was a quick, auroral flush, and then, with increased
pallor and coldness, she asked, "Have I failed in courtesy?"

"No."

"What reason had you to expect more?"

"Because, almost from the first hour we met, I had given you esteem
and reverence as a noble woman,--because I promised you honest
friendship and have kept my word."

Still more coldly she replied: "I fear there can be no friendship
between us. My father and brothers lie in nameless graves in your
proud and triumphant North, and my heart and hope are buried with
them. My mother has since died, broken-hearted; Roberta's husband,
the colonel you sent to prison, is a crippled soldier, and both
are so impoverished that they know not how to live. And you,--you
have been so busy in helping those who caused these woes that you
evidently forgot the once light-hearted girl whom you first saw on
this veranda. Why speak of friendship, Captain Lane, when rivers
of blood flow between us,--rivers fed from the veins of my kindred?"

Her words were so stern and sad that Lane sat down on the steps at
her feet and buried his face in his hands. His hope was withering
and his tongue paralyzed in the presence of such grief as hers.

She softened a little as she looked down upon him, and after a
moment or two resumed: "I do not blame you personally. I must try
to be just in my bitter sorrow and despair. You proved long ago
that you were obeying your conscience; but you who conquer cannot
know the hearts of the conquered. Your home does not look like
mine; your kindred are waiting to welcome you with plaudits. You
have everything to live for,--honor, prosperity, and love; for
doubtless, long before this, the cold-hearted Northern girl has
been won by the fame of your achievements. Think of me as a ghost,
doomed to haunt these desolate scenes where once I was happy."

"No," he replied, springing to his feet, "I shall think of you as
the woman I love. Life shall not end so unhappily for us both; for
if you persist in your morbid enmity, my future will be as wretched
as yours. You judge me unheard, and you wrong me cruelly. I have
never forgotten you for an hour. I wrote to you again and again,
and received no answer. The moment I was released from the iron rule
of military duty in the West I sought you before returning to the
mother who bore me. No river of blood flows between us that my love
could not bridge. I admit that I was speechless at first before
the magnitude of your sorrows; but must this accursed war go on
forever, blighting life and hope? What was the wound you did so much
towards healing compared to the one you are giving me now? Many a
blow has been aimed at me, but not one has pierced my heart before."

She tried to listen rigidly and coldly to his impassioned utterance,
but could not, and, as he ceased, she was sobbing in her chair.
He sought with gentle words to soothe her, but by a gesture she
silenced him.

At last she said, brokenly: "For months I have not shed a tear. My
heart and brain seemed bursting, yet I could get no relief. Were
it not for some faith and hope in God, I should have followed my
kindred. You cannot know, you never can know."

"I know one thing, Suwanee. You were once a brave, unselfish woman.
I will not, I cannot believe that you have parted with your noble,
generous impulses. You may remain cold to me if I merely plead my
cause for your sake, that I may bring consolation and healing into
your life; but I still have too much faith in your large, warm,
Southern heart to believe that you will blight my life also. If you
can never love me, give me the right to be your loyal and helpful
friend. Giving you all that is best and most sacred in my nature
how can you send me away as if I had no part or lot in your life?
It is not, cannot be true. When I honor you and would give my life
for you, and shall love you all my days, it is absurd to say that
I am nothing to you. Only embodied selfishness and callousness could
say that. You may not be able to give what I do, but you should
give all you can. 'Rivers of blood flowing between us' is morbid
nonsense.  Forgive me that I speak strongly,--I feel strongly. My
soul is in my words. I felt towards my cause as you towards yours,
and had I not acted as I have, you would be the first to think me
a craven. But what has all this to do with the sacred instinct,
the pure, unbounded love which compels me to seek you as my wife?"

"You have spoken such words to another," she said, in a low tone.

"No, never such words as I speak to you. I could not have spoken
them, for then I was too young and immature to feel them. I did
love Miss Vosburgh as sincerely as I now respect and esteem her.
She is the happy wife of another man. I speak to you from the depths
of my matured manhood. What is more I speak with the solemnity and
truth which your sorrows should inspire. Should you refuse my hand
it will never be offered to another, and you know me well enough
to be sure I will keep my word."

"Oh, can it be right?" cried the girl, wringing her hands.

"One question will settle all: Can you return my love?"

With that query light came into her mind as if from heaven. She
saw that such love as theirs was the supreme motive, the supreme
obligation.

She rose and fixed her lovely, tear-gemmed eyes upon him searchingly
as she asked, "Would you wed me, a beggar, dowered only with sorrow
and bitter memories?"

"I will wed you, Suwanee Barkdale, or no one."

"There," she said, with a wan smile, holding out her hand; "the
North has conquered again."

"Suwanee," he said, gravely and gently, as he caressed the head
bowed upon his breast, "let us begin right. For us two there is
no North or South. We are one for time, and I trust for eternity.
But do not think me so narrow and unreasonable as to expect that you
should think as I do on many questions. Still more, never imagine
that I shall chide you, even in my thoughts, for love of your
kindred and people, or the belief that they honestly and heroically
did what seemed to them their duty. When you thought yourself such
a hopeless little sinner, and I discovered you to be a saint, did
I not admit that your patriotic impulses were as sincere as my own?
As it has often been in the past, time will settle all questions
between your people and ours, and time and a better knowledge of
each other will heal our mutual wounds. I wish to remove fear and
distrust of the immediate future from your mind, however. I must take
you to a Northern home, where I can work for you in my profession,
but you can be your own true self there,--just what you were when
you first won my honor and esteem. The memory of your brave father
and brothers shall be sacred to me as well as to you. I shall expect
you to change your feelings and opinions under no other compulsion
than that of your own reason and conscience. Shall you fear to go
with me now? I will do everything that you can ask if you will only
bless me with your love."

"I never dreamed before that it could be so sweet to bless an
enemy," she said, with a gleam of her old mirthfulness, "and I have
dreamed about it. O Fenton, I loved you unsought, and the truth
nearly killed me at first, but I came at last to be a little proud
of it. You were so brave, yet considerate, so fair and generous
towards us, that you banished my prejudices, and you won my heart
by believing there was some good in it after all."

A white shock of wool surmounting a wrinkled, ebon visage appeared
at the door, and the old cook said, "Missy S'wanee, dere's nuffin'
in de house for supper but a little cawn-meal. Oh, bress de Lawd!
if dere ain't Cap'n Lane!"

"Give us a hoe-cake, then," cried Lane, shaking the old woman's hand.
"I'd rather sup with your mistress to-night on corn-meal than sit
down to the grandest banquet you have ever prepared in the past.
In the morning I'll forage for breakfast."

"Bress de Lawd!" said the old woman, as she hobbled away. "Good
times comin' now. If I could jes' hear Missy S'wanee larf once
mo';" and then she passed beyond hearing.

"Yes, Suwanee, if I could only hear your old sweet laugh once more!"
Lane pleaded.

"Not yet, Fenton; not yet,--some day."

THE END





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "An Original Belle" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home