Page images
PDF

that before? Where is the wound? Let me see it."

Florence uncovered the wounded side, and the surgeon passed his hand lightly and skilfully around the little puncture. "It is here under the arm," said he; "I will soon have it in my hand." With a touch of his lancet, he severed the thin covering of muscle which held it, and slipped the bullet into his hand.

"It glanced along the ribs," said he; "had it entered the side, it would have been another thing. But it ought to have been out before."

During the operation Florence had stood pale and motionless, her hands tightly folded, and she drew along breath of inexpressible relief as the physician applied the last bandage and covered the patient up.

"He will live?" she faintly asked.

"Live? Yes. But what is he saying?"

Varleton who had been a good deal disturbed by the removal of the ball, now lay murmuring in indistinct tones, whose tenor th<3 physician endeavored to catch.

"General ! — general! — shall we give them a little more grape?"

"Is he an officer of the Yankee army?" inquired the physician, turning sternly to Florence.

"He is! But you surely will not take advantage of secrets revealed in his delirium to injure him 7"

"I shall do my duty; and first let me inquire again how this young man came here in your dwelling?"

"My servants brought him here. They were near him as he fell, struck by the bullet you have just extracted."

"But where was he 7 Within our lines?"

"He was."

"Then he was here as a Rnv. nnrl mv

A flash of satisfaction passed over the face of Florence. It did not escape the eye of the physician.

"Ishall suggest toGeneral Pemberton," said he, coolly, "to establish a guard in front of your cave. It will insure the patient against any intrusive visitors."

"Very well, sir," said Florence, controlling her voice perfectly; "and you will come again to-morrow 7"

"Oh, certainly. Good-evening, madam!" and with a polite bow, the physician left her.

Florence dropped the curtain behind him, and with a suppressed groan sat down by Carleton's side. The terror of his becoming a prisoner, and suffering all the barbarities she knew but too well were inflicted upon Federal prisoners, wrung her heart. How could she endure it 7 Could she by any means prevent it 7 Even were there to be no sentinel to guard hirn, how could she find means to secure his escape, ill and wounded as he was 7 And after all might he not die 7

He was again confusedly murmuring, every moment seemingly adding to his delirium. He was wandering in the mountain caverns without- hope of rescue. The guerrillas now had him in their clutches, and now he was feeding the fire under the mountain cliff, his cousin, just revealed, seated before him and repelling indignantly his suspicions. And now they were seated together as in old times among the pleasant hills and valleys of the North, or whirling in the tiny sleigh along the snow-path with jingling bells and prancing steed. Suddenly some old scene seemed to return, and his voice grew low and plaintive.

"And you will give me up for a hardfaced Scotchman, a slave-owner, harder

frkon fl, Sn!lfllPrn_Kr»rn rjontai* • nnA oil heart of Florence as she listened to these wanderings of one who had loved her from his boyhood, and who had never forgotten her, though she had turned from him and had married another who had proved unkind and unworthy, — who loved her yet with a love that coldness could not chill nor absence lessen. And she, — did she love him? A mortal chill shook her; for she remembered the barrier between them, the fatal vow to the dead. Did she love him? She bowed her head upon his pale hand which lay upon the coverlet, as he once more wailed out, "You never loved me !" and pressed kiss after kiss upon it, while tears streamed hot and fast.

"I love you, Guy! I do love you! I can say it now when you are all unconscious of my words or acts. I love you, Guy!" and again her tears and kisses rained fast upon the unconscious hand.

Who can account for the strange influence sometimes produced by what seem all insufficient causes? Carleton turned his head toward his cousin, and in seemingly perfectly rational tones said, —

"Florence, did you speak?"

"Do you feel better, Guy 7"

"It seemed to me that you spoke, and ■ at your words a strange glow of health and joy went flowing through my veins. Didn't you speak?"

"Yes, Guy, I spoke."

He lay as if thinking, with an anxious look, striving hard to recall some memo* ry that eluded him. A glow slowly lit his dull eyes.

"Florence, did you say you loved me, or have I dreamed it?"

A crimson glow covered the face of Florence. "You dream strange things, Guy. You must not talk. You must be miiet. You are verv ill. Here, let me give

what does life matter? What does life matter?" There was a despondency and woe in his voice as he faintly murmured these words that no one could have withstood. Florence ■ stooped over him and touching her lips to his, whispered, "I love you, Guy!"

"Say it again, Florence," said he, clutching at the air for her hand. "Say the words again." But she was no longer by him. He strained his aching eyes to find her, but it was only the negro Josh who smoothed the bed-clothes as gently as a woman.

"Here, massa, jis' you tuk dis yere lemonade. It will cool yer fever. Dat's a good massa. Now gwi to sleep."

Carleton closed his eyes like an obedient child; but sleep did not come. His wanderings returned, yet the visions that haunted him now were bright and beautiful and sweet. The negro watched him without a moment's cessation during all the night, humoring his fancies, reverentially hiding in his own heart every secret thing his wanderings revealed, and administering to his every need. At length, as daylight approached, a gentle moisture appeared on his brow, quiet stole over his senses, and he fell into a calm, refreshing slumber.

The morning found him rational and free from fever. His wound was less painful and evidently doing well. He watched the curtain through which the negro passed in and out of his room, as if expecting some one else, while deep perplexity stole over him as he gazed about the room upon the clay walls and the roof of rough logs and earth, through which he could see green leaves waving in the sunlight.

"Is this 'you, Josh? Where am I? and what is all that cannonading that T hear? Am I in General Orant's

"Yer'll hab to lay yere, sar. 'Tis wounded ye is, sar, and de doctor's tuk a big ballet out on yer, sar."

Carleton looked vaguely for a few moments, while recollection seemed slowly to return. "I remember! I remember! And how long have I been here under ground? I remember thinking I was dead and buried. But who else is here?"

"Oh, dere's a smart chance o'folks, sar; but yer mustn't talk, de whysician said, and so I'll gwi and get yer some breakfast."

While the negro was gone, Carleton lay vaguely and feebly thinking. It seemed to him that he could remember Florence sitting by his side, and feeling her lips touching his hand, and seeing her floating like a phantom before his bed. But it was all vague and misty, and he could not make it real, and wearied and exhausted with the effort, he tried to put it all away as a vagary of fever.

"I have dreamed so much, — so much. I will wait." He closed his eyes, and when the negro returned with his breakfast, he was again quietly sleeping.

Meanwhile Florence had not slept, but each hour of the night had witnessed her creeping softly between the curtain which separated the living room from Carleton's and gazing for a few moments on his flushed and fallen face. As the morning approached and the first faint streaks of dawn began to render objects in the outer room visible, she stole into her own little bedroom, where her children lay soundly sleeping, and lying down in her morningwrapper by their side, fell asleep. The roar of the bombardment which had recommenced had not power to disturb her, Bo profound were her slumbers.

When she again awoke, the sun was riding up the heavens and pouring its rays through the drapery of grape-vines which fefit/v^'*'1 »*\t.trtn--mn*A «nH

them. It was a few moments before she could realize her situation, and remember the wounded officer so dear to her who lay helpless in the inner room. She started to her feet, and "after a refreshing toilet, passed out to the entrance of her cave. The first object which met her eyes was a Confederate soldier gravely paoing to and fro before it. It was what she had been prepared for, but her heart sunk within her at the sight. It argued danger for Carleton as well as for herself, and she dared not think what disaster and sorrow the day might bring forth.

The condition of Carleton was pronounced by Dr. Gates much improved. "He will soon be able to be removed," he remarked, with a meaning look at Florence, "when we will have him in a safer place than this little cave. Too many shells explode in this neighborhood. Meanwhile, has he a good nurse, and can you conveniently leave your children for awhile? I think I have often observed a colored servant whom you call Folie taking very excellent care of them. She is with them now out in yonder thicket of trees." ^

"Folie is a faithful servant and I trust her much, but I should not be willing to leave my children now, while every hour endangers their lives from the explosion of shells."

"And yet, if report speaks truly, you have left them for more than one day or two, even • in these stormy times," remarked the doctor, significantly.

Florence turned pale.

"I have left them to be sure, but it was only on occasions of urgent necessity ! — and I have even been absent a day or two, but it was because I had fallen into the power of some of the marauders who haunt every high-road, which is not guarded by the Federals, within fifty

mi'lna ,J

should surely look after it occasionally; and who have I to do so but myself?"

"True! true! I am glad that you have so plausible a reason to offer for your frequent absences and not always ladylike costumes. General Pemberton desires a little conversation with you, and has commissioned me to escort you to his headquarters in the city."

"General Pemberton? He surely would not oblige me to expose myself to the great danger of being killed by the shells that are constantly falling into the city!"

"There is a pause now, as usual at this hour of the day, in the bombardment, and I can promise you a safe escort, and the soldier who is promenading before your door will guard it against any intrusion while you are absent, which I hope will not be long, for I trust that you will be able to give the general satisfactory explanation of certain mysterious appearances. You will have the kindness to prepare for your ride, for I have an ambulance in waiting in yonder ravine, and as I am in a good deal of haste you will please use as little delay as possible."

"But if I decline to leave home now, as I well may when a sick guest is under my care?"

"Then, madam, it will be my duty to call to my aid a small military force which accompanied me in the ambulance, and who still wait."

"I am to understand, then, that I am a prisoner? Generous and noble it is, sir, in the old family physician who owes very much of his success in his profession to the influence of the husband of the widow whom he thus dishonorably betrays, entering her retreat under the guise of a friend! Let me congratulate you, sir, on your new method of display__j ,.hjva]ry!"

doubting the evidence of his senses. "Do you mean that you are loyal to the Confederacy?"

"I repeat what I said: I am true and loyal to my country! And now, if you wish to oppress the young, helpless woman whom your friend left an unprotected widow, I am ready to accompany you."

"Why, one would think it one of the greatest misfortunes in the world to visit General Pemberton! I thought you regarded him as one of your friends."

"I have always respected him as aa agreeable and honorable gentleman, — a pleasant acquaintance. But you do not wish to persuade me that it is to a mere social intercourse that you so politely invite me? A military escort is not usual on such occasions."

"No, madam, I do not," said the doctor, sternly, and walking towards the entrance of the cave. "Therefore if you will delay me no longer, I will be greatly obliged. It is not necessary to see your guest again before starting."

Florence silently bowed, and entering her own bedroom, hastily donned shawl and bonnet, and announced herself ready.

"You will allow me to take leave of my children?"

"Certainly."

Florence ran out to the little thicket where the children, Folie, and Josh were enjoying the cool, balmy spring air, and giving the negro special directions in regard to the treatment of Carleton, committed him to his cafe.

"I leave him with you for I have seen that you are skilful and believe you faithful and true. Do not leave him many minutes at a time, and when I return I hope to find him much better."

"Trust dis yere darkie, missis. I'se -Hnw mv irratitude to de Lord hv doin'

"Now I am ready, doctor," she gravely said.

The doctor bowed, and taking her arm in his, led her down the steep hillside into the ravine where the ambulance waited, and they were soon on their way into the beleagured, shell-riddled city of Vicksburg, Florence with a heavy, boding heart that weighed down her spirits and filled her with anxious fears.

(To be continued.)

A WEAK WOMAN'S WAIL.

By E. A. M. My darling! my darling!

I cannot let thee go: My heart is like/to break

■With its burden of woe.

Yestern I felt so strong,—
So strong-hearted and braTe:

To-day I seem to stand
On the brink of my grave.

Where has my courage flown t
I weep and tremble sore;

I love the dear old flag,
But oh, 1 love thee more!

Be patient, dearest, best, —
It will not be for long:

To-morrow, when thou'rt gone,
I will try to be strong.

To-morrow, to-morrow,

Ah, must I live to see The sun rise on my grief,

Far, far away from thee?

Oh, what is that I seeT
A gory, new-made grave!

Yes, yes, I'm very weak;
It it true that I rave.

In a swoon did you say?

THITHER-SIOE SKETCHES.

NUMBER XIX.

Farewell to the "Lake District." — Arrival at Liverpool. — Certain Reflections nnd Questionings. — Homeward Voyage. — Stop at Queenstown. — Excursion to Cork and Blarney Castle. —Halifix. —At Hither-Sule.

On a dark,drizzly morning, — gradually settling down into a soaking, rainy day, — with regretful adieus, we left our charming home in Westmoreland, exchanging its sylvan delights for the tedious monotony of a long journey by railway.

This was descending from the poetic to the prose aspect of life, so suddenly — breaking in upon our idyllic dreams — with such abruptness, that we were ready to cry with vexation as one by one the familiar features of that beautiful landscape flitted away from our sight. Ah, Frederico! caro mio! please God, some day will we again return to the peaceful enjoyment of this free and healthful life! If ever tempted to leave our native land, hither let us come, and setting up our household gods in the midst of tlys fair scene, make for ourselves a resting-place apart from the distracting din of the world's strife, and call it home! These thoughts, and the hearty response to the longing wish expressed in a few brief words to our companion, which we received from him then and there, operated as a safety-valve to our failing composure; whereat, much comforted, we lapsed into a state of placid endurance, which not all the wearisome sameness of the journey, the wet luggage on arriving at Liverpool, or the dismal room at the hotel where we stopped, had power to disturb. _

Ordering a cheerful fire "because of the present rain and the cold," we soon unpacked the contents of certain travelling sacks, and having ascertained that no

« PreviousContinue »