The Haydocks' Testimony
Entered according to Act of Congress in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D. C., 1890.
MILLIETTE PRESSCamden, N.J.
MACKELLAR, SMITHS ' JORDAN CO.,ElectrotypersCHAPTER I. AN EVENING CALL.
“Frances, there is a knock at the door; will thee open it?” said Jeremiah Allen to his daughter as he stooped to arrange the heavy logs burning in the deep fireplace of their living room. The girl stepped lightly to the door and opended it to a tall youth looking about twenty-one years of age; he entered as one at home and took Frances' extended hand of welcome with a merry little bow.
“Come in, come in, James. I thought it was thy figure, but was not quite sure in the dusk; sit down.”
“I will, thank thee,” and the youth took the proffered chair, while Frances finished clearing away the remains of their evening meal.
“Can thee take me in for the night?” asked James Haydock, for this was the young man's name. “Two traveling friends have come to Father's and Charles and I gave up our bed to them. Mother put Charles on the lounge in the
kitchen, and I thought perhpas you might find a place here for me. Is it quite convenient?”
“Entirely so, James, thee is always welcome; I will arrange thy room at once,” said Jeremiah Allen, rising with a twinkle in his merry brown eye. He was a smale man, thin and wiry, active as a squirrel, and, in his suit of betternut brown he looked not unlike that nimble little animal. His hair was still stick, though gray was pentifully mingled with the reddish tinge of his youth.
“Frances, bring me the old quilt from they room” said her father, going to the closet and taking tfrom thence everal two-pronged forks. His daughter obeyed rather wonderingly, but asked no questions.
“Now, hold it up for me, will thee,” said Jeremiah, briskly picking up a three-legged stool and a hammer; then stepping quickly to one corner of the room, where a stout post had been placed as support to a long roof-beam, he mounted the ricketry stool. Paying no attention to its unsteadiness, and holding the forks between his teeth, he struck one after another into the wood-work through the old quilt, securring it to the wall and
post until a space about six feet square was enclosed
“The handles stick out some, but it looks as if it would stay,” said Jeremiah, stepping back to servey his work. “What can thee want better than that James? Push the sofa in behind the qulit and thee will sleep like the king himself. I pulled the little lean-to down to-day; the one thee called thy room. It was unsafe.”
“There will be ventilation here too,” suggested Frances. “the quilt reaches neither to the floor nor the ceiling.”
“All the better for that,” said James. “I will run the sofa in, if thee will hold the curtain.”
“With pleasure;” and Frances lifted the drapery with two slender hands as James pused the heavy deer-skin-covered lunge across the floor toward her. She contrived however, to let the heavy quilt fall on his head just as he passed under it, and it was with flushed face and disarranged hair that the youth emered from his improvised chamger to meet her demure face.
“Was the quilt very heavy, Frances?” he asked, looking at her doubtfully.
“Surely thee can tell as much about that as I can,” she responded gravely.
“I have felt lighter coverings,” he replied “Now may I help thee put the cloth over the table? Is it as weighty as the curtain?”
“No, it is used for covering more delicate arrangements,” retorted Frances, accepting his help nevertheless.
“I should not wish to be considered a delicate arrangement, I think, Frances,” said James, as he spread the white cloth over the plain square table already set in readiness for breakfast; for as soon as the cups, saucers, and other dishes were washed, they were returned to the table for the next meal—closets being scarce—and were covered with a protecting cloth.
“Very well, we will consider thee only a convenient arrangement, to-night. Thank thee, but please put that corner straight,” said Frances, laughing, as she gave a finishing touch to her table.
“It is I who am making a convenience of you,” said James.
“Children, stop sparring, and come, sit down. James, who are the friends at thy Father's house;
have they come to attend the quarterly meeting to-morrow?”
“That is their intention, I believe,” answered James, taking his seat by Jeremiah Allen, as he answered the old man's question. Frances too obeyed the summons. Plainly dressed in a lightish-gray material, she had pinned on a bunch of red autumn berries as a breast-knot, for her father saw no harm in her thus enjoying the beauty nature scatters so bountifully. If God made scarlet berries and yellow leaves, why should she not take pleasure in them? And thus it came about that when Frances hung holly and clusters of burning-bush berries about the yellow pine walls of their simple dwelling, Jeremiah Allen never objected, though some in this Quaker community thought them useless decorations.
While James Haydock, sitting somewhat in the shadow, rests his eyes on Frances’ fair face with its oval contour and soft color, and tells Jeremiah Allen of the unexpected visitors, we will endeavor to give our readers a sketch of this settlement into which we have rather unceremoniously introduced them.
In the State of North Carolina, not far from
the borders of the Dismal Swamp, a number of Quakers had dared to make their habitation amid pines and live-oaks, where wild animals had long roamed undisturbed. David Haydock, the father of the young man above spoken of, came from England, several years before the date at which our story begins, with his wife and family, and not liking the bleak winds of New England where he first landed, he wandered southward in the spring of 17— to a more genial climate. His friend Jeremiah Allen, whose family had been longer in America, accompanied him. The two men differed in character, but were at one in their religious sympathies, than which nothing in reality makes a stronger bond of friendship. They built themselves homes, and cleared and cultivated the land that now rewarded them with abundant harvests. Jeremiah Allen had lost his fragile wife soon after their marriage, and her name was carved on a gray head-stone in a little New England grave-yard. Frances, his only child, is now seventeen, and David Haydock's wife Rachel cared kindly for the motherless child and loved her almost as a daughter, especially since the death of her own sweet girl at about the age of Frances.
David Haydock had left England to obtain greater freedom for the exercise of his simple faith, but since settling in the South the wrong of slavery had weighed very heavily upon his spirit. It was in the year 1688 that the Friends of Germantown, a settlement near Philadelphia, had sent out the first protest ever made by any Christian church against this sin; and the Friends had never ceased to issue, from time to time, earnest appeals to all Christian bodies and especially to their own Society, for the release of their fellow men from bondage. We recall these facts only to show that the Quakers were pioneers in the movement against slavery, as they now seem to be in their protest against war. If other denominations should take up the peace question in the earnest spirit which animated the ancient Quakers, what results might not be achieved?
At the time our story opens, many Friends, especially in the North, had already emancipated their slaves. In the South it was nearly impossible to obtain other than slave labor; and the disapprobation of one's slave-holding neighbors made it extremely difficult for Quaker families to act independently.
Thus it happened that David Haydock and Jeremiah Allen, both Elders in the meeting, felt a heavy responsibility resting upon them in regard to these matters. They had liberated their slaves some years before, and though two negroes, a man and his wife, had remained with the Haydocks, the rest of their people had gone North, for a “free nigger” was looked upon with dislike and indeed was liable to be kidnapped and resold, if he remained in the South. The Friends had almost as great an objection to hiring a slave as to owning one, and so it resulted in many families having to do most of their own household work, often a hard sacrifice to principle. The cases of those Friends who still held slaves in this vicinity, in opposition to the general views of the Society, were to be brought up at the approaching Quarterly Meeting and they were to be dealt with as the sense of the Meeting should indicate.
“Well, young folks, it is time for bed,” said Jeremiah Allen, as the tall clock in the corner rang out ten. “Frances, will thee get me the Bible?”
“I will,” said James, whose graceful courtesy distinguished him among the youths of their community.
He took the well-worn book, in its smooth leather cover, from the little shelf and handed it to Jeremiah Allen, who read from Isaiah the account of the fiftieth year when all the bondmen were permitted to go free. This finished, James went to bar the doors and Frances stooped to cover the embers in the fireplace.
“Let me do it for thee,” said James. “Did I tell thee these Friends at father's brought two boxes from Friends in Philadelphia containing supplies for our monthly meeting members? It has come in time; for father's coat is getting shabby and we cannot get a ‘plain coat’ here for love or money.”
“Father wants a new hat, too, very badly,” said Frances, “that last heavy rain we had, he stuffed his into the broken pane in the window. He was too sleepy, I suppose, to know it was not his old felt hat, and Jacob Darnley had forgotten to bring him the new window glass from the store. What a sight his silk hat was the next morning. I tried to iron it out, but the brim will curl up.”
“Better up than down,” said James, as kneeling on the hearth he looked up with a smile at her merry face, “I suppose they will open the
boxes to-morrow evening after meeting is over. All the neighbors will be there to see.”
“I hope there will be something I can make a dress of; this is growing so old,” Frances sighed, for she did like pretty things and it was not very often that she got them. She had seen a dark blue cloth habit on a young girl living on a neighboring plantation, and she longed for one just like it.
“If there is nothing, I will ask mother to send for what thee wants,” said James, rising from the hearth and picking up the berries Frances had dropped from her belt, “Would this color do?”
“Bright red?” exclaimed Frances, horror-struck. “What is thee thinking of? Oh, no, I suppose I must have something gray.”
“Thy hair is not gray,” remarked James.
“Neither is it red; thee deserves one blanket less for that insinuation,” said Frances, as she went to get him the necessary coverings for the night. Following to relieve her of her bulky burden, he caught one of her hands between the folds, but did not seem to know it until Frances freed it from captivity with an impatient little pull and waved it dangerously near his ears. Then he disappeared, retreating to his lounge behind the
quilt; while Frances shut herself up in her little room with cheeks very much the color James had suggested in regard to her hair.
Both the young people were soon asleep; but Jeremiah Allen lay awake pondering the question which burdened his mind. How should the curse of slavery be wiped out of their society? The resigning of all domestic service would fall heavily on many women among the Friends and it was impossible to find other help than the negroes. It was not wonderful that the eyes of many were blinded to the wrong of slavery, or, that others owning the wrong, knew not how to avoid it. It seemed a necessity, yet it was sin, and sin is never a necessity.
“ ‘He will direct thy way,’ ” Jeremiah Allen said at last, and fell asleep. When he awoke the sun was shining; Frances had the corn-bread, eggs and coffee on the table; James had milked the cows and fed all the stock, groomed the two horses which Frances and her father were to ride to meeting, and both young people looked as if the weight of the society matters lay but lightly on their minds, although they did truly share their parents’ convictions and willingly made the sacrifices that these convictions entailed.
Breakfast disposed of, James Haydock left his neighbor's hospitable board and returned to aid his parents in making arrangements for their visitors to attend meeting. There were few wheeled vehicles in this unimproved country, and the roads were not such as to encourage their increase; but David Haydock owned a coach, and when James vaulted over the fence marking the boundary line between Jeremiah Allen's small farm and their own larger one, it was standing in the barnyard waiting for the horses to be attached. Charlie and Anna, the younger children, were standing by the carriage watching the proceedings with much interest. The visit of these Friends was a great event in their secluded lives, and the delight of extra feasting in the house and of greater state in going to meeting, was only slightly clouded by the prospect of a very long session of the quarterly gathering. But Quaker children are early
trained to self-control, a most desirable characteristic.
Uncle Billy led the horses out and while James helped in the harnessing, Charlie said:
“Brother James, does thee think I can sit beside uncle Billy on the front seat?”
“Thee will have to ask father about that,” replied James. “Anna, thee may sit behind me, I will put the pillion on Nero.”
“Will he go slowly?” asked Anna, for riding behind her brother on his large black horse, though a joy, was rather a fearful one.
“I will keep him quiet,” said James, smiling at the small figure in a big sunbonnet. “Don't let him see that head-rigging though, he might take it for a barn door.”
“That should not frighten him,” gravely responded the little lassie.
“Thee is right there; run round to the house now,” and James soon had the saddle on Nero and followed the carriage to the front porch, where stood the two visitors conversing with David Haydock and his wife Rachel. She made a pretty picture standing under the vine-clad lattice-work; the Lady Banksia roses still showed a few late pale
yellow clusters among the dark green branches and the coral honey-suckle threw its scarlet wreaths over the brown pillars, drooping so as to almost touch the soft grays of her bonnet and shawl.
There was not much conversation in the heavy coach as it rolled over the pine-needles scattered so thickly along the sandy road, for the meeting to be held to-day was one of great gravity, and the matters to be discussed, not only had an important bearing upon the present company, but might and did, affect future generations.
As we have said, the first protest ever issued by any Christian church against slavery, came from the Friends of Germantown; and a copy of this protest may be seen to-day hanging in the Friends’ Free Library in that place. To the same profound conviction of the equal rights of men so boldly put forth by the Society of Friends may be traced the beginning of the abolition movement. William Lloyd Garrison became interested in this cause through his friendship with Benj. Lunday, a pupil in the school of John Woolman, the Quaker. Stephen Grellet and William Allen influenced Alexander I, of Russia, to take measures for the abolition of serfs, an act which was accomplished
peaceably in the reign of Alexander II. Frenchmen who were in America at the time of the revolution, were much interested in the views of the Society of Friends and carried their sentiments home with them. Especially was this the case with Jean Pierre Brissot, the statesman of the Girondists. To his efforts may be traced the Proclamation of Emancipation in Hayti by the Commissioners of the French Convention. Thomas Clarkson also gave good evidence in his labors in behalf of suffering humanity, of the influence the Quakers had over him.
James Haydock paced slowly along behind the coach, and little Anna sat silently grasping her brother's waist, not disturbing his meditations. The youth also was pondering the slavery question in a practical way, for a young colored man owned by his father and lately given his freedom, had been hanging around his old home in the hope of getting his wife away from Mr. Bolton, owner of the next plantation; he refused to sell her to David Haydock, and indeed threatened to send her further south. Mr. Bolton was bitterly opposed to Friends’ views on the slavery question and knew that David Haydock only wanted to purchase
Rosa in order to give her freedom. Dan, the negro boy, wanted to get to the sea-coast with Rosa and take a sailing vessel to the North; but how, was the question? His old master would abet no stealing of slaves or help a neighbor's property to run away. James had seen Dan the day before lurking around the barn and felt uneasy lest he should resort to some desperate measures.
Jeremiah Allen on his old gray horse, and Frances with her lively brown pony, soon joined the Haydocks on their way to meeting, and many a grave-faced man with his wife riding behind him were added to the company of earnest souls moving toward the meeting house. A few carts on two wheels jolted slowly over roots unseen in the sandy road and must have brought their occupants in a very bruised condition to the place of assembling. Occasionally a heifer or a young steer was harnessed by ropes to these uneasy chariots, and carried the whole family along with a frisky little trot that suggested a possible upset. It was difficult to maintain much dignity in these unevenly-moving vehicles, and Frances’ brown eyes danced as she watched a family jogging along
in front of her. The father was driving from his board seat in front of the cart, while his wife and children occupied the straw covered floor behind him. The equipage was pretty full, but the two-year-old baby did not seem to fasten anywhere and kept up a lively oscillation between the sides of the cart, the rest of the family being too much occupied in easing themselves over unexpected obstacles presented to the wheels, to take a firm grip at any time of the flying little one; and Frances was thankful when they all turned without accident into the large enclosure bordered with sheds that surrounded the meeting house.
“What will thee do with the baby now? asked Frances, as the mother descended from the seat, and with sundry jerks straightened out the much-tumbled calico frocks of herself and children.
“I think she will sit quietly with me, thank thee,” replied the mother, calmly settling the infant's sunbonnet, “she has a griddle-cake in her pocket and moreover may be glad to rest.”
Frances thought this very probable, and tucking her riding habit under her arm, followed into the meeting house. The sun was throwing golden beams through the unshaded windows, mellowing
to a warm richness the deep brown color of the yellow pine used for finishing the interior of the building; floor, walls, roof and seats all partook of this ripened tint, and the cushions softening the hard benches did not deviate from the general tone. The men walked into the building one by one and quietly took their accustomed seats. David Haydock led his visitors to the first place in the gallery facing the congregation, and sat down next to them. The women, in odd mingling of calico, silk and woolen garments, gathered upon their side of the house with their children beside them; little legs dangled, and little heads propped themselves uneasily against the single rail forming the back of the bench; soon the last step had sounded up the uncarpeted aisles and a solemn silence settled over the assembly. Outside, the hush was scarcely less profound; the sun had absorbed the early autumn haze and now lay clear and hot on the rather scant grass in the meeting-house yard. No breeze waved the gray moss hanging from the oaks, no bird chirped, no squirrel chattered, only an occasional stamp of a horse's foot was heard on the sandy soil.
After a period of solemn waiting, the silence
was broken by Jacob Pemberton, one of the strangers, who rose in the gallery, facing his waiting audience, and laid his hat on the seat behind him. A slight indefinable movement throughout the meeting expressed its readiness to listen; but no general change of position or expression disturbed this quiet company. In a full, deep-toned voice he began:
“This is the word unto Jeremiah from the Lord, ‘That every man should let his man servant, and every man his maid servant, go free.’ ” Then followed an earnest setting forth of the argument against slavery to which we have all so often listened. Long and eloquently the speaker pleaded; the sun crept from wall to floor and from one side to the other of the windows; sleepy little heads under sunbonnets bobbed and nodded till at last the hoods were taken off and the weary heads were allowed to rest on their mothers’ laps until the speaker had finished his strong appeal. Just before the close of the first meeting, or meeting for worship, Rachel Haydock, giving her gray silk bonnet into the hands of her next neighbor, knelt in supplication, petitioning for the careful guidance and loving care of the Father in whom
they trusted, and in following whose teachings, they might be called on to make much personal sacrifice. A pause followed the conclusion of her prayer and then the two men near the head of the gallery quietly shook hands and the first meeting was over. Several men rose from their seats on the floor and proceeded to close the solid shutters that divided the meeting house into two rooms, and so the men and women in their separate apartments proceeded to the transaction of business. Mothers permitted their restless children to run out and amuse themselves in the yard, while the clerk of the women's meeting raised the shelf attached to the railing in front of her in the gallery and placed the minute-books on this convenient desk, another woman taking a seat beside her to assist in the transaction of business.
The men's meeting may have greater interest for us, for although the women managed what business came before them with much intelligence and careful thought, the larger and more weighty matters were handled and decided upon by the men. As soon as the necessary preliminaries were attended to, David Haydock, who was the clerk, arose, read the letters of introduction for the visiting
Friends, and asked at the same time if their company was acceptable to the meeting. Several of the older Friends arose to signify, in a few words, their willingness to receive the strangers and listen to the messages they felt called upon to deliver.
After a brief pause, Jacob Pemberton thus spoke in reference to the subject weighing upon his mind:
“I have been led to consider the purity of the Divine Being and herein is my soul covered with awfulness. Many slaves on this continent are oppressed and their cries have entered into the ears of the Most High. Such are the purity and certainty of His judgments that He cannot be partial in our favor. In infinite love and goodness He hath opened our understanding from one time to another concerning our duty to these people and it is not a time to delay. Should we now be sensible of what He requires of us, and through respect to the private interests of some persons, or through a regard to some friendships which do not stand on an immutable foundation, neglect to do our duty in firmness and constancy, still waiting for some extraordinary means to bring about their
deliverance, God may by terrible things in righteousness answer us in this matter.”
Many another earnest sentence followed and when the speaker sat down, a silence prevailed, which was presently broken by an elderly man, who thus expressed himself: “I have well brought up eleven slaves and now feel as if they must work to support me.” He said no more, but reseated himself with his wide hat-brim pulled over his eyes. Another acknowledged that he had fifty slaves, and could but admit it was wrong; but could see no way out of it at present. Hardly had he seated himself when a brisk little man rose from one corner of the room and suggested that perchance interest had dimmed the vision of the Friend who had spoken last and hoped he might be favored with clearer light on the subject. Another pause ensued and then an anxious looking man rose, saying: “I own but two slaves, all the rest having been given their freedom; my wife is in feeble health, has a family of young children and would not be able to do without help. I find I can hire little if any free service. Will Friends kindly give me their judgment as to what would be right in this matter?”
This was a difficult and not an infrequent case. It was earnestly considered; most of the Friends agreeing that it would be right to free the slaves with a proviso that they should remain a limited number of years for fair compensation, and that in the intervening time efforts should be made to introduce free domestic service into the community. Many opposing views were presented, “but at length truth in a great measure triumphed over her enemies,” and without any public dissent the meeting agreed that the teaching of our Lord and Saviour should induce Friends to set their slaves at liberty, and four Friends were appointed to visit and acquaint all members of the Society that were still slave-owners with this decision. This was a difficult duty, but it was in time faithfully performed. One who shared it writes: “Looking to the Lord for assistance, He enabled us to go through some heavy labors, in which we found peace.”
Midday had softened into afternoon when the door of the men's meeting house opened; the grave company issued forth, and the slanting rays of the sun lit up the earnest countenances under the broad brimmed hats. On many of these faces
one might trace a struggle passed through, a decision reached and a peace granted that no earthly power could disturb.
“Great peace have they that love the Lord, and nothing shall disturb them.”
The women had already concluded their meeting and had their noonday meal. Frances was talking to the wife of him who so feared the liberating of their two old servants and the worn pale-faced woman was anxiously awaiting the arrival of her husband. It was to her almost a vital point, so unable was she to perform her household duties unaided. A glance at his face as he came toward her showed what was the decision and she turned after him, following silently to the shed where their old horse stood sleepily nodding after finishing his feed of hay. Frances ran after her.
“I am coming to see thee to-morrow, Hannah Alston,” she said, then added in a lower voice, “Father says the Master always takes care of his own.”
“Thank thee, Frances,” said Hannah, turning toward the girl, the sweet expression of a sacrifice called for and given, already dawning in her worn
face, “The Lord will provide for us, I know,” but Frances’ bright face was sober beyond its wont as she watched them ride slowly away.
“It is hard for families like that,” she said to herself, as she walked to her own little pony. Her father was still talking to the visiting Friends and the Haydocks. Frances wondered why James did not come as usual to assist her in mounting, but the young man having been keenly interested in the day's proceedings, and also much attracted toward Jacob Pemberton, had lingered to listen to what they were still saying. Frances felt a little provoked at his forgetfulness and going to her father, touched his arm, “Father, the sun is nearly down, shall we go?”
“It is time for us all to go home. Here is the coach. Friends, will you return now to supper? You must be tired,” and David Haydock placed his family in the big carriage.
A pleasant faced old man straightened the brown cushions on the browner benches in the meeting house, set the carpet foot-stools or bosses, in order, and locking the heavy door, shut away the sunshine from the now empty building. He handed the key to David Haydock as he was getting into the coach.
“Isaac, thee still has thy old negro, hasn't thee?” queried David.
“He is still with me,” replied Isaac Coxe. I doubt if he would go anywhere else, and I should feel regret at allowing any one but myself to care for him in his old age. He can do little or nothing.”
“Thee has been a kind master to him,” said David, as he shut the carriage door after him. “Drive on, Billy.” The once stately coach rolled slowly through the deep sand, and Isaac Coxe followed, having mounted his horse with the deliberate motion of old age. His slave Cæsar had broken the animal for the young master long ago, and all three were advancing in years together. The quiet meeting-house yard was deserted, except for a wild rabbit that loped softly out of the shadows and, after a careful survey of the premises, nibbled the sparse grass at its ease, quite satisfied that the Quarterly Meeting was over.CHAPTER III. OLD CÆSAR.
The Allens and James Haydock had ridden toward home some time before, and parted at the cross road near their respective homes. James’ black horse was pacing sedately up the close avenue of live oaks leading to his father's house, when Dan, the colored boy, stepped forward and laid his hand on Nero's bridle.
“Mars’ James, oh, do tell me what to do! Mars’ Bolton dun say he gwine sell Rosa down Souf nex’ week. I seed Rosa dis ebening. We mus’ get off to de swamp or some whar befo’ dat. When Mars’ Pemberton go ’way?”
“Take your hand off Nero, he will stand,” said James, for the horse was impatiently shaking his head under the tightened rein. “See here, Dan, don't go to Bolton's to-morrow, keep round here and see me toward evening by the barn. I think I can help you get away.” The negro's mention of Jacob Pemberton had put an idea into
the young man's head. If Dan and Rosa could only get away so as to join the Friends some distance off where they were not known, they could travel as Friend Pemberton's servants and no questions asked. The thing to be considered was, would the Quaker blood allow the passive deception? James feared not.
“Dars a pedler goin’ cross de swamp tomorror or nex’ day an’ I tink he gwine to cut ober to de seacoast, after dat, in a few mo’ days. He kinder half Quaker, nebber did ’blieve in holdin’ slaves, he say. Mebbe he'll help us. Can't stan’ it here, no how,” and Dan clinched his fists and ground his heel into the sand, then stepping back, was lost in the deep shade of the oaks as the big coach came up the avenue, while Nero cantered with his double burden up to the house.
“Run into supper, Anna, I'm coming too, as soon as I have put up Nero,” said her brother.
The young man was undecided whether to ask the traveling Friends to take Dan and Rosa under their charge or trust to the pedler who he supposed was going through to Norfolk. The Friends would be the safest, as they were known to have freed their slaves and often traveled with
free colored servants. No one would be likely to question them, but then David Haydock objected to assisting his neighbor's slaves to escape, and his objection was shared by all the Friends. Well, he would think it over and see how the way opened; meanwhile James was hungry and the sight of the supper was welcome as he entered the dining-room with its well-spread table. The lamps were lighted, and shone with soft radience over dainty damask, clear glass and bright silver. Chicken, fried as only Southern cooks can fry it, displayed its crisp brownness at one end of the table; plates of raised bread, delicious corn cake made of the delicate white meal, and flakey light bread were ranged in numerous plates along the board; young autumn radishes, salad, and the clear crimson of barberry jelly made a most inviting spectacle, and Anna's eyes rested longingly upon it as she sat in a little straight-backed chair beside the freshly kindled fire waiting for the Friends to come from their chamber which opened from this same dining-room and on the other side looked out on the broad piazza.
Rachel Haydock had just set a basket of
pound-cake on the table, when James entered, his earnest face in a glow.
“Mother, may I brush my hair in thy room? The Friends I see are still in mine.”
“Go right in, my son; Charles, thee needs a little tidying also,” said the mother, as her younger son ran in after James, his hair much disheveled.
“I hate sleeping in the loft,” he confided to James, “I wish these Friends would go.”
“I thought thee slept in the kitchen,” said James.
“No, mother made me a bed in the loft and the strings of onions swing right over my head almost touching my nose, and the squirrels scamper round all night rolling hickory nuts. I believe they dance with the rats.”
“What does thee know about dancing?” asked James, smiling at the boy as he brushed his hair.
“Saw it once at Bolton's. Come, the Friends are ready at last,” and they all drew round the bountifully spread table, bowing their heads before beginning the meal in grateful silence. During supper the conversation turned upon the old slave owned by Isaac Coxe; he was happy, well cared for, and would be retained in his comfortable
home until the end of his life; he was too old to work and it seemed a case that might well be left alone. John Mifflin, however, the Friend accompanying Jacob Pemberton, sat in silence throughout the meal, and afterward expressed his conviction that he ought to visit Isaac Coxe; James Haydock offering to go with him, they set out immediately after supper. Few words were exchanged on the way, for John Mifflin was seeking Divine guidance for the performance of the difficult task before him, and James was pondering whether it were wise to introduce the subject of the boy Dan's escape with Rosa, to this simple-minded man.
Finally before reaching the house, he spoke, “What does thee think about helping slaves to run away from their masters?”
“God's laws are higher than man's, but I should rather remunerate the owner for his loss,” was the answer, and there was no time for further discussion. In response to their knock, Isaac Coxe opened the door and politely received his visitors. They sat down, and after a few words on ordinary topics, there was a pause. Isaac Coxe's eyes silently interrogated his callers, and
then John Mifflin kindly opened his concern about old Cæsar. The slave's master expressed some surprise that any uneasiness should be felt in this case, but finally consented to sign the form of emancipation, saying at the same time that it would not alter their relations, as the old man was perfectly happy. He rose and put his name to the paper John Mifflin handed to him, while James Haydock called in Cæsar and gave him a chair. The old man was bent nearly double; his thin hands were propped on his knees, his white head was thrust forward, and his keen, restless, inquiring eyes gleamed alternately on the strangers and his master, who presently spoke, telling him that he was no longer a slave, and that his service entitled him to a maintainence during his life. Old Cæsar listened in breathless wonder, his head slowly sinking on his breast; after a short pause he clasped his hands, then spreading them high over his head, slowly and reverently exclaimed, “Almighty God,” bringing his hands down again between his knees. Then raising them as before, he twice repeated the solemn exclamation and with streaming eyes and voice almost too choked for utterance, he continued, “I thought I should
die a slave and now I shall die a free man.” His hearers were too much moved to break the silence which followed, and all sat together in the flickering firelight until Isaac Coxe said in a rather uncertain voice, “Thee may go now, Cæsar,” and with tottering steps, but with a new light in the old black face, the newly freed man turned to the door saying, “Good-night, an’ God Almighty bress yo’ all, gemen.” A few parting words and John Mifflin with his young companion walked away across the grass whereon the china trees threw wavy shadows under the moonlight, while Isaac Coxe returned to his meditation before the fire. We may record the fact here that when this Friend was called to face that supreme moment when all other pictures of time fade out, the old face of his former slave rose before him, full of solemn joy and devout thanksgiving, and strengthened him as with the blessing of God.
The next morning as Frances was busy about her various household avocations, James Haydock appeared on the threshold with a bunch of violets in his hand, which he tendered Frances, and then stood silently watching her as, with a bright “Good morning,” she took the flowers and fastened
them in her belt. She looked at him inquiringly.
“Thee has something weightier than violets on thy mind, this morning, I think, James,” she said.
“Yes, I have, Frances,” he responded, “and want thy counsel about a matter that I must decide on to-day. Come and sit down here a few minutes. Thy father is out?”
“He has gone to Friend Alston's,” said Frances, seating herself on the door step.
“Ah, he is the poor Friend with the sick wife and big family who do not want to free their slaves. Well, it is harder than people know to do a thing like that; it would go hard with me, Frances, to see thee toiling as Hannah Alston does.”
“I never mean to,” said the girl quietly.
James gave her a quick glance from under his black brows, but her eyes were looking away into the sunny calm of the October morning; she seemed only observant of the blue jays darting about among the yellowing leaves of the hickory trees, yet he noticed a merry curve about the corners of her mouth.
“I never half appreciated this slavery question till the past few days,” he began. “You know father's boy Dan? Well, he is nearly wild over the thought of losing Rosa, and I don't wonder, for they were married only a month ago, and now he wants me to help them get to Norfolk. I cannot tell father anything about it; it is better he should not know; I had thought of asking the Friends at our house to take them, but decided not to do so. Once get them to Norfolk and they can take a sailing vessel north.
“Can I help thee? Where is Rosa?” asked Frances, her sweet face now fully awake.
“That is just it,” said James. “Rosa is down at the far end of Bolton's plantation, where he put her to work, to keep her out of Dan's way, and if he goes there he will be seen and rouse suspicion, and I fear my going would have the same effect. Thee is always riding round the country, could thee see her and tell her to slip off to-morrow afternoon? Old Bolton is going away for a few days, and he really don't think Rosa will try to get away.”
“But where must she go?” queried Frances. “Where can she meet Dan?”
“I will tell thee,” replied James. “Dan knows a pedler who is going through to Norfolk to-morrow night; he crosses the swamp about eight o'clock in the evening, ten miles from here, and if Rosa can get off while the hands are at supper, between five and six, Dan will meet her just up the road under the big bay tree at the entrance of the swamp. It gets dark early now, so I do not think they will be noticed. The overseers are always lax when Bolton's away.”
“Must Rosa walk that far, ten miles?” said Frances, “can't we help them?”
“I think it is better not. The less we are seen with them the less notice will be taken of their movements. But I mean to take a ride through the swamp late to-morrow afternoon.”
“Oh, may I go too,” exclaimed Frances, springing up in her eagerness.
“Go? Yes, anywhere,” answered James, rising at the same instant; there was an inflection in his voice that made Frances stop and glance at him; a new manliness seemed to have invested him, an unusual decision and readiness for action. Probably Frances felt the change in him, for she turned quietly into the house, her eager manner subdued for the moment.
“I will get my hat and try to see Rosa now,” she said.
“All right, I will saddle the pony and have him directly,” and James disappeared to return in a few minutes with the pony ready for the slender maiden waiting on the door step.
“Mother wants thee and thy father to come to our house this evening to tea. The boxes from Philadelphia are to be opened and all the neighbors are coming,” said James as he put Frances into her saddle, and then walked beside her down the lane, his hand on the pony's neck. Frances laughed.
“Oh, we will come surely; those boxes are very interesting, and the neighbors are such fun, too.”
“Thee makes fun of everything, Frances,” said James, an answering gleam of amusement crossing his own face.
“Why shouldn't I?” asked the girl looking down at her companion mischievously, but her face softened as she met his earnest gaze with a new feeling in it that she did not quite understand, or was not ready to understand perhaps.
“Our roads part here,” she said, touching her
pony lightly with her whip as James removed his hand, “Supper will be ready early, I suppose, this evening?”
“Yes, come early,” he answered, as he watched her canter away, and then turned homeward to find the boy Dan, who was awaiting him in the barn.
“Oh, Mars’ James, ’spose old Bolton should come back to-morror; ’spose Rosa couldn't steal away, or gits caught, what should we all do?” and Dan twisted his old straw hat nearly to pieces as he thought of all that the next twenty-four hours might bring of weal or woe.
“Don't keep supposing; don't think of the danger, Dan, it will take all the man out of you,” said James, who usually dropped the plain or Quaker mode of address when speaking to the negroes; “I see no reason why things should not work right, and the pedler turning up just now seems to me a Providential arrangement. Make up a bundle of your clothes, not too big, mind, and I will give you some money to-morrow.”
“Thank you, Mars’ James,” said Dan, as James turned to go into the house.CHAPTER IV. THE INSPECTION OF THE BOXES.
“James,” came his mother's pleasant voice from the kitchen, “I want thee to go and ask these Friends to come here this evening to supper, and help with the boxes,” and she gave James a list of names as she spoke. Engaged in her ample preparations for the evening's hospitality, the pleasant thought of which brightened her face, Rachel was an embodiment of sweet motherliness. She was not aware of the new-born thoughts in her boy's mind. She knew that he had a quick, restless temperament, derived from his Irish ancestry, and that it had developed early, but she did not comprehend that he had arrived at man's estate, neither had she any suspicion of his special regard for Frances Allen.
Merry, willful, passionate, but full of energy and generous impulses was the girl he wanted to make his own. Surely his wooing would not be difficult; she knew few men except himself and
he could but feel that she preferred him to all the other youths in the neighborhood. He would acquaint her with his feelings and she would soon respond. With these thoughts in his mind he rode forth on Nero to attend to the mission his mother had given him; calling at one house and then another, and leaving bright faces behind him in every family that received the invitation, for supper at Rachel Haydock's was a pleasant prospect in itself, without the added attraction of the big boxes and their valuable contents. His errand accomplished, he was riding homeward when two equestrians cantered quickly past him, scattering the sand in his horse's eyes. So quickly and silently had they come along the road, that James scarcely woke to their presence till Frances’ merry face turned to give him greeting as she flew by, flushed with the exercise and, as he thought, with pleasure in the society of her companion whom he recognized as young Bolton, the son of Rosa's master.
“Confound him,” he muttered under his breath, for if he had had any doubt as to his feeling for Frances this chance encounter would have settled it. How could he know that the
brightness of the girl's face was due to the fact that she had accomplished her mission to Rosa just before Hal Bolton met her, and was now doing everything she could to draw the young man off the track and lull any suspicion that might arise. All James knew was, that no other man but himself must have the right to bring such roses to Frances’ face. But this is not a love story, and we must not linger over feelings, which, though absorbing in youth, give place as years go on, to the knowledge that principle and action are more necessary than love alone to make one's happiness. Fortunate are those who in their life-work can gain rest and strength from the full love and sympathy that gives a double spring to all action.
By four o'clock in the afternoon the Friends began to gather upon the wide piazza, and in the large low-ceiled rooms of David Haydock's hospitable dwelling. Those horses that the stable could not accommodate were tethered to fences and trees. The older portion of the company held sober converse inside the house, while the younger members gathered upon the porch and shyly entered into conversation on farm matters, the expected opening of the boxes, or the new
additions lately made to the meeting-house library. Frances was late, and James having reasoned himself into a more sensible frame of mind about the companion of her morning ride, was watching for her father and herself down the long avenue. In a few minutes, Frances came cantering up alone, and James went to meet her.
“Father has sprained his ankle and will not come to-night,” she explained, as James helped her to dismount. “I have seen Rosa, she is sure she can get off, and is so glad; oh, James, I do hope nothing will interfere,” Frances said earnestly, as she looked up at him, “thee thinks it is safe?”
“We will make it safe, please God,” was his answer.
“Supper is just ready; I will go help thy mother wait on the Friends,” said Frances, and slipping off her long riding-skirt, she was soon busy among the guests.
The repast concluded, eager faces gathered round the box over which Rachel Haydock was bending, her gray silken dress rustling softly as she stooped and rose, bringing out the supplies sent by thoughtful Friends in the North.
“Hannah Alston, thee wanted something for the little ones, didn't thee? Here are small garments that will save thee a world of sewing,” and the Friend addressed came forward with a grateful smile spreading over her worn face, to take the bundle handed her.
“Tom Clarkson, these have not come a bit too soon,” said James rather mischievously, as, helping his mother, he drew out a pair of pantaloons from the box and gave them to a tall lank youth standing near by, who wore a pair of nether garments much too short for him, though the darker stripe of material running above the faded hems showed that all possible provision had been made for his growth. The “letting down” however, had not sufficed, and a vision of gray stockings still showed above the shoes.
“Thank thee, James, I shall not regret the shortened wear of these I have no,” responded young Clarkson, joining in James’ laugh; “I will just step into the kitchen and see if they will fit.” “Do so, Thomas,” said Rachel Haydock. “Frances, I think this will suit thee, will it not?” Frances took a long roll of dark blue merino from the hands of her kind friend and turned away to
examine her new treasure. James followed her softly, and suddenly enveloped her head and shoulders in a fleecy white shawl which he had drawn from the depths of the box and concealed until he could surprise Frances with it.
“Look at thyself, Frances,” he exclaimed; and raising her head she saw her own face reflected in the mirror by the fitful gleam of the fire. Flushed, laughing, a little annoyed perchance, her eyes revealed a deeper feeling than she was aware of, for there often comes to us, curiously enough, from our own reflection in the glass, a revelation of something we were but half conscious of before, as if the fleeting image knew more about us than we did ourselves. She pushed the shawl away.
“James, thee must not give me this, it was sent for some old rheumatic lady probably,” she said, half pettishly.
“Will it not prevent rheumatism as well as cure it?” he asked. “Is it a remedy for all aches and pains? I am half inclined to keep it myself. Charlie may want it though, if father sees what he is about,” the elder brother added, suddenly aware that Charlie and Anna had been
diving into the other box, which stood in the shadow of the curtain dividing the long room into two parts. This box contained men's clothing and a few plain Quaker bonnets. From the depths of one of these latter coverings peered Anna's merry little face, and enveloping her small figure was a huge gray shawl which trailed behind her. Thus attired she watched Charlie struggling through the mazes of a large coat; he found the armholes with difficulty, and the final result of his operations resembled a heap of ready-made clothing topped off with a large broad-brimmed hat. A ripple of laughter from Frances at the sight of the two little antiques, attracted the attention of David Haydock as he moved among his guests, saying a few kindly words to one and another. He turned and beheld in the dancing firelight the transformation of the two younger children. Acting from impulse was not one of David Haydock's foibles, but it was surely not in consequence of any grave forethought on this occasion that he took the hand of each and led them into the central group of his visitors. The momentary pause produced by the spectacle of the two small figures so curiously attired was broken by an irrepressible
burst of laughter from the young people, and over the grave faces of the older ones went a decorous smile, while the little faces reddened and bent lower and lower till Charlie's hat slipped over his face, effectually concealing him from the public gaze.
“Rachel, I think perhaps the children had better go to bed,” remarked David Haydock to his wife. She took Anna's hand in her's and was leading her away, leaving Charlie still in the obscurity of his large hat which he lacked courage to raise, when Frances said, “Let me take Anna, please. I will see to her,” and soon the little lassie was unrobed and comforted with a piece of cake in her unexpectedly early retirement.
“Charlie, can thee find thy way up stairs?” asked David Haydock, and the boy, much impeded in his progress by his unaccustomed garments, slowly made his way up the ladder to the loft.
“Had thee not better leave thy coat for some larger person?” asked his father again, a broad smile finally spreading itself over his countenance, and Charlie, reassured by his father's tone, hastily slipped out of the garment, letting it drop, while he fled to the protecting shadow of the
loft amid the renewed peal of laughter from below.
Soon after this episode the company dispersed, well satisfied with the events of the evening. James Haydock accompanied Frances home, and discussed the escape of Dan and Rosa, which was planned for the following night. The two visiting Friends were still up when James returned, and he sat with them listening, as they talked long into the night of the curse of slavery, and how difficult it would be to eradicate an evil whose roots had spread so deep and far, twisting themselves into the very heart of the social system and threatening it with moral ruin at no very distant day.
The next day was warm, almost sultry; one of those balmy days that return in late October to remind us that summer still lays a lingering touch on hill and dale. The birds twittered, loitering amid the thinning foliage as though reluctant to quit their summer haunts.
The Friends staying at David Haydock's had made an early start that morning, intending to visit a few more families who still held slaves and required some peculiarly tender but clear instruction as to the right and wrong of so doing. David Haydock and Rachel went with their guests in the old family coach, telling James they might not return till the day following.
“Oh, mother,” said little Anna, “may Frances come and stay all night with us? I do not like to sleep alone.”
“I would be very glad for her to do so, if her father can spare her; perhaps James can see her
to-day and bring her over,” Rachel Haydock replied as she stepped into the carriage.
“That is just the thing, I don't believe her father wants her half so much as we do. Does thee, James?”
“No, Anna, I do not believe he does,” answered her brother, as he tucked the lap-rug carefully round his mother and shut the door of the coach.
The day passed quietly; James rode Nero in the afternoon to Jeremiah Allen's, and the old man cheerfully assented to his daughter's passing the night at David Haydock's. He was very fond of James, and saw with a calm satisfaction the friendship between him and Frances. If he himself were taken away, he felt as if his daughter might have a very happy home in the young man's family, all of whom he felt assured would give her a hearty welcome. The merry little old gentleman, however, showed at present no signs of leaving this sphere for a more enlarged one. He was, after all, hardly past the prime of life—a rather dry and wrinkled prime, to be sure, but as full of sweetness as the hickory nut a brown squirrel just then dropped on the roof of the porch
under which Friend Allen sat watching James and Frances ride away. The sun, dimmed by haze all day, was now almost shrouded in gathering clouds which hung heavily over the Dismal Swamp.
“We shall have a thunder-storm this evening,” soliloquized Jeremiah Allen, as he noted the threatening sky.
Frances presided over the early tea at Friend Haydock's, and then Charlie and Anna watched the youth and maiden mount their horses and start for an evening ride, James’ large deer-hound trotting behind them. These expeditions were so frequent as to call forth no comment.
“We shall be back soon, young ones,” said James; “Charlie, go to bed early.”
“I will,” replied the boy, and Anna called after them:
“Frances, mind thee sleeps with me, I will leave the door open for thee.”
“I will not forget it, Anna,” replied Frances, nodding back as the two horses cantered away. Neither spoke for some time.
“How dark it is getting, James,” Frances was the first to break the silence.
“All the better for Dan and Rosa, they must be well on to where they were to meet the pedler, but I would like to know that they have gotten there safely. It is their only chance of reaching Norfolk for many a day.”
“Does thee think a storm is coming?” asked Frances, guiding her pony nearer to the big black steed James rode.
“It looks lighter toward the west; I think it may clear; here we are at the swamp, it does look pretty dark in there.”
In truth it did; the live oaks gave way to a thicker growth of bay and cypress, the latter rising with pale gray trunks from pools of black water whose presence was made known only by their glimmering reflection of the faint light still struggling through the trees. Now and then a wider stretch of water would make a break in the wall of foliage, but so silent and forbidding looked these pools that you could fancy them haunted by many a spiteful water-demon, and when a long black snake slid from under the hoofs of Frances’ pony and descended into one of these dark pools, breaking the sullen surface into long ripples as it swam across, lifting its narrow head to look backward,
she screamed and put her hand on Nero's mane. The next moment however, she laughed.
“How absurd I am,” she said, but added as she turned to her companion, “Is thee really going to ride ten miles through here?”
“Is thee afraid, Frances? We will go back if thee says so,” he replied. “I did not think it would be so dark,” he added half to himself.
“No, we will go on,” she said, “the horses know every step of the way and the road is good.” Her naturally high spirits thus asserting themselves, they rode on at full speed. In a few minutes a sharp flash of lightning, followed by heavy thunder, told them the rain was near, and as flash succeeded flash, James was seriously alarmed, for these storms often proved severe in this region and the high wind frequently laid low many a forest tree.
“There is an old house not far from here,” said James, “If we can reach it we will be sheltered from the rain at all events.”
They hurried forward, the constant lightning revealed the road in ghost-like gleams beneath their feet, enabling them to discern each others’ horses and the red body of the hound following
in long leaps. The heavy shadow lifted somewhat as the road came to an open space, where a deserted hut, built by negroes cutting timber in the swamp, stood among heaps of old logs and brushwood. The profound stillness of the forest was broken by the rising wind that foretold the approaching storm and the branches tossed and creaked under the sighing gusts. The horses picked their way carefully over the loose logs to the little shanty, and James, springing to the ground, lifted Frances from her saddle.
“Go inside, and I will put the horses in the shed,” he said. “The rain is just beginning. Rex, stay here.” The hound crouched beside Frances, but seemed annoyed and uneasy, looking suspiciously into the gloom of the room behind him as if scenting something. The girl too fancied that she was not alone in that ruined abode, but felt as if some other living presence was there, and this vague feeling made her thankful to hear James’ step returning through the house; he stood beside her, looking out into the obscurity around them. Frances glanced behind her, but said nothing.
“We are fortunate in obtaining shelter, for
here comes the rain,” and he drew Frances further inside as a flash of lightning came simultaneously with a crash of thunder, and both seemed drowned in one and the same instant by a sheet of water descending straight from the sky. They could see nothing through the gray wall of rain that shut them in. A rustle and a deep breath from the back of the room made Frances shudder and press more closely to James, who threw a protecting arm around her, and exclaimed sharply,
“Who's there; speak out will you?”
“Oh, Mars’ James,” said Dan's voice, “I jus’ wasn't shore who yo’ had by yo’ or I would have ’lowed we was yere.”
“Dan, how under heaven!” exclaimed James, and Rex sprang forward to paw the colored boy over, for he was very fond of him; many a meal had they shared together.
“Where is Rosa? What made you stop here?” asked James. “Why don't you go on?”
“Rosa's done gone sprained her foot an’ she can't walk a bit furder, an’ de pedler, he'll be gone by an’ what shall we do?” groaned Dan, while a stifled sound of crying gave evidence of Rosa's being beside him.
“Oh, James, what will they do? Poor souls, it does seem too, too bad after getting this far. Will they have to give it up?” said Frances, withdrawing herself gently from the arm that still encircled her. James struck a match and looked at his watch.
“Here's a pine knot, Mars’ James, I took notice of it befo’ it came so dark,” said Dan, and soon a little heap of pine was blazing in the rickety old chimney.
“The only thing to do is to put Rosa on thy pony, Frances, and let me take her to the crossroads. Dan can run beside us and we can all stand a wetting, I think, in so good a cause,” said the young man.
“And leave me here?” asked Frances, her voice quivering a little in spite of herself.
“That is the worst of it,” said James, “I do not like to leave thee even for half an hour.”
“Never mind,” said Frances more steadily, “I wanted to help and now I can. Rex will stay with me and it will not be for long.”
“No, an hour at the outside,” replied James, “the rain seems stopping a little; I will get the horses; Dan, you get your things and lift Rosa on to Miss Frances’ pony.”
In two minutes the horses were ready and Rosa, with a brightening face, was seated on the brown pony, whose gentle eyes turned on her new rider in an inquiring fashion.
“De good Lord mus’ have sent yo yere, Misses Frances,” said the quadroon.
“I think He did, Rosa,” Frances gravely rejoined.
“Dan, put your hand on my stirrup, it will help you along quicker,” said James. “Frances, I can't bear to leave thee, but I am sure there is nothing to hurt any one, and Rex is good company.” He lingered however, looking wistfully at her.
“Oh, do go quick, you will miss the pedler, I am all right,” cried Frances, seating herself on the floor with Rex at her side, and immediately James was in his saddle and both horses sprang out on a canter; they quickly disappeared through the fast-falling rain, and the lessening sound of their hoof-beats was all that broke the stillness. This ceased presently and Frances felt that she was alone. Rex pressed close to her, and soon Frances rallied and lifted her face from his smooth head whereon she had dropped it for a
moment. He pounded the floor with his tail as if to assure her that he would do all he could to protect and comfort her.
The rain gradually ceased, till only the drip, drip from the roof could be heard. The fire died out and left the hovel in darkness. But presently as Frances looked out, a soft brightness appeared in the sky, and the moon broke through the clouds. The white boles of the cypress gleamed in the silvery light; the bay leaves glistened, wet with the rain, and a whip-poor-will, balancing himself on a bough near by sent forth his long, low call.
Frances felt less nervous and the big hound lay lovingly with his head in her lap, very quiet, but awake and watchful. Time passed slowly however, and once Frances started at a shadow creeping over a log, it was only a passing cloud, but she grew oppressed with the intense stillness and strained her ear to catch a sound of the returning horses. Suddenly Rex lifted his head and in another moment Frances heard the faint irregular click of hoofs.
A few minutes after James halted in front of the cabin with the horses; and she sprang forward to meet him.
“Oh, how glad I am to see thee back,” she exclaimed.
“Was it very lonely?” said he, “I would keep loneliness away from thee forever if I might.”
Her head drooped on his shoulder and she did not say him “Nay,” as his lips touched hers for a moment.
Rex poked his nose into his master's hand and wagged his tail, as Frances withdrew to her pony's side.
“The horses look tired,” she remarked, prosaically.
“I fancy they are,” James replied, “but we must be getting home for all that. I feel as if I never should be tired again, Frances,” he said as he lifted her into the saddle.
“Did thee meet the pedler?” she asked.
“He was just coming whistling down the road as we reached the corner; fifteen minutes more and we should have been too late,” James replied.
“It has been a good night's work for Dan and Rosa,” said Frances, soberly.
“And for me,” said James.
Frances urged her horse into faster pace and
Nero following, they were soon at the door of David Haydock's dwelling, standing silent and shadowy under the still uncertain light of the moon. While assisting Frances to alight, James longed to say something more than just goodnight, but words did not come easily just then, and when, after stabling the horses he entered the house, the room was empty and silent; a solitary candle burned before the mirror, the hound lay asleep on the mat near the fireplace; and after locking the front door, James retired to his own room to dream happy dreams.
The next morning James found Frances busy about the preparations for breakfast, and in vain did he try to get a word alone with her, or a glance from her brown eyes which seemed to avoid him as she moved from the kitchen to the breakfast room helping aunt Jane with deft fingers.
Charlie and Anna kept up a lively chatter about all sorts of things, and soon after breakfast was over Frances announced her intention of returning home.
“Father is still a little lame with his sprained ankle, and I do not like to leave him any longer. Charlie is going to see me home with the old horse,” she said.
“No, I don't think he is; he has something else to do,” James remarked quietly, and Frances glancing at him knew she had in this lover of hers, a different person to deal with from her former merry boy companion. In her heart she
liked the change, and although their ride between the two farms was a rather silent one, yet when they neared Jeremiah Allen's, and James turned to her, checking her horse's pace into a walk, she made no effort to urge the pony onward.
“Frances, say something to me,” the young man pleaded. “Thee is not as thee was last night.”
“What shall I say?” answered Frances, looking intently at a bush that brushed her pony's ear. Her cheeks flushed as she stretched out her hand to reach some scarlet berries hanging on the bush.
“I will get those for thee, if thee wants them,” said James, leaving Nero to nibble the thin grass, while he gathered the bright clusters and put them into Frances's hand. Then looking earnestly into her face, said:
“Tell me thee loves me as I love thee.”
“Why should I tell thee that?” the girl replied, a little smile passing over her face, her head bending lower, however, as she met his gaze.
“Just because I want thee for my wife, and—oh, Frances, do not say me ‘No.’ ”
“I will not say ‘No,’ James,” Frances said softly.
And James knew from the shy look she gave him that the desire of his heart was won, though she was in a very different mood from the excited one of the night before. Now she instinctively held him at a distance.
Jeremiah Allen was writing at his straight legged little table as Frances ran in, and gave his daughter a rather absent though an affectionate greeting.
“Is James there?” he asked.
“He has just taken Nixie to the stable, father,” replied his daughter, standing beside him.
“Will thee run out and ask him if he objects to putting Doctor into the gig? I must ride over to Isaac Coxe's and my ankle still troubles me a little.”
Frances hesitated and yet there was no reason to be assigned why she should not do her father's bidding. Being under her own roof too, gave her more confidence; and after a moment's pause, she gathered her skirt over her arm and went towards the stable.
Some pictures impress themselves on our
minds with a vividness that is never effaced, and often these impressions are among the most familiar and commonplace surroundings. It was so with Frances at this moment. The regularly laid wood-pile near which she passed, the chips beneath her feet sending out a fresh woody fragrance under the sun's warm rays, the low brown barn with the chickens loitering about the door enjoying the perfect sunshine and the blue sky above them, James Haydock's figure, as he stood under the shadow of the sweet gum tree tightening the girth of his saddle, all impressed the girl unconsciously, yet in a way never to be forgotten. The gravity of his face vanished as he looked up, roused by her step, and coming forward impetuously, he took her in an embrace that might dissipate all her reserve from that time forth.
“James, Father wants thee to—I can't speak if thee holds me so tightly,” said the girl, gently endeavoring to free herself.
“Very well, thee can speak now and forever just here, for aught I care,” loosing his hold of her just a little as she gave her father's message. James acted upon it in due time and after carefully helping Friend Allen into the gig, took his
own way homeward, as Frances had disappeared within her own room and was evidently not to be seen any more just then.
David and Rachel Haydock returned home to dinner that same day, and toward evening, as the mother was teaching little Anna some of the necessary household work in the kitchen, David Haydock sat looking over some letters in a small alcove opening out of the living room. His son James was copying accounts at a dark, old-fashioned desk beside his father, when a knock was heard and without waiting for permission to enter, Mr. Bolton, the slave-owner of whom we have spoken, came in and approached David Haydock.
“Good-day, Mr. Haydock, may I speak to you a few minutes?” he asked.
“Thee is welcome, neighbor Bolton; sit down,” and David Haydock handed his visitor a seat, resumed his own in the carved arm-chair, and waited for his visitor to speak. James, after a slight bow to Mr. Bolton, continued his occupation.
“Mr. Haydock, I do not know how far you are responsible, but I have lost a girl of mine whom you once tried to buy, and our surmise is
that she has gone off with your boy Dan. They tell me on the plantation that she was there late yesterday afternoon, but did not come to supper with the rest of the hands, and this morning she is nowhere to be found. Can you tell me anything about her?”
There was a certain insolence in the man's manner that made James’ blood boil, but he made no sign, neither took part in the conversation. “I am sorry for thy loss, neighbor Bolton,” replied David Haydock, “but can give thee no light on the subject, I was away all day yesterday and last night; only returning this noon.”
“Exactly,” said Bolton, “You, and your honest Friends, who think it no harm to steal a neighbor's property, went away yesterday morning and most probably made arrangements to take my girl Rosa to meet her rascal of a husband, as he calls himself, at some point northward. You know all about it yourself, but will not help a man to recover his own,” Bolton spoke angrily.
“Thee knows I never approve of helping other people's slaves to run away,” responded David Haydock calmly. “We are not responsible for the wrong-doing of others and therefore cannot
interfere, except in so far as we try to set before them the way of truth. I have often labored with thee about the sin of holding slaves, but having failed to persuade thee, can but let it rest. Nevertheless, I would not assist thy so-called property to run away, although I sympathize fully with the longing for liberty that prompts such an act.”
“You really tell me that you have not gotten the girl off?” he queried doubtfully.
“I have not, and moreover I have heard nothing from John Pemberton or his friend that would induce me to believe that they knew aught about the matter; thee can get no information here,” answered David Haydock. James’ lip curled with irrepressible amusement, as he bent his head lower over his writing.
“I venture to say that young sprig beside you knows all about it then.” Bolton began again, looking at James.
“James?” said David Haydock in surprise, turning to look at his son and dropping the paper-cutter he had been toying with. “I do not think he would be likely to know anything about it.”
He picked up the paper-cutter again, crossed his neatly clothed legs and sat quietly regarding his visitor. James still wrote on, though the last ray of sunshine had crept away from under the vineclad porch and the large room was beginning to darken. Bolton felt baffled. Suddenly he exclaimed:
“You are ruining the country with your cursed anti-slavery notions. A man will not be able to say his soul is his own before long, much less his property, and here you sit in your confounded self-righteousness and call wrong right, and openly abet stealing another man's goods. You're no less than a set of thieves.”
“Friend Bolton, thee has said all that is necessary; perhaps we had better close this interview for the present,” quietly remarked David Haydock, slowly rising from his chair till his large figure stood erect and dignified before the angry man. James had risen at the same moment and stood close beside his father, as tall, and, if not as broad, more lithe and active, with a blaze of indignation in his dark blue eyes.
“Mr. Bolton, I shall take pleasure in showing you the way out; it is growing dark and you may
not find it easily,” and the young man stepped forward with an air of command so irresistible that the disappointed and enraged slave-owner could do naught but obey.
After watching Mr. Bolton's retreating figure a moment, James returned to find his father with hands clasped behind him, thoughtfully pacing the floor, while Charlie put a match to the fire ready laid in the ample fireplace. The flames leaped and danced, lighting up James’ face as he leaned against the mantle-post. His father paused opposite him.
“James, thee was twenty-one years of age last week?”
“I was, father.”
“Then thee is responsible for thy own actions.”
“I ought to be so, father.”
“That is probably the case, and I shall ask thee no questions.”
“I appreciate thy confidence and will honor the trust,” his son replied.
Supper was just then brought in and neither at this time, nor afterward, was any allusion made to the escape of Rosa with Dan, except once, a
few weeks afterward, when James handed to his father a letter from Philadelphia, saying that the pair had passed safely through to Canada.
It must be remembered in reading this account of the escape of Dan and Rosa that such a thing was far more easily accomplished then than in later years. Run-away slaves were then comparatively few, and as a consequence, less care was taken to prevent their flight. Telegraphic communication did not exist and traveling facilities were poor, so that to overtake and bring back run-aways was a difficult matter. Once a fugitive was fairly off, the owner might give up all hope of seeing him again. This Mr. Bolton knew, and the knowledge increased his anger as he went home, baffled in his attempts to gain any information from David Haydock, to whom he had gone, feeling him to be one upon whom he could legitimately vent his rage. The calmness with which he had been met, only served to provoke him the more. He struck angrily with his heavy, loaded cane at the bushes
bordering the road as he went home through the plantation. A shrill derisive laugh, apparently provoked by his actions, fell on his ear; it issued from a thicket close beside him, and he recognized a half-witted negro boy swinging on the wild grape vines.
“Mars’ Bolton mad at somefing? Has Rosa run away an’ can't be foun’ no how?” He broke out mockingly into a line of a hymn; “She's gone, she's gone to Canaan's happy shore,” and he swung on his grape vine toward Mr. Bolton, stooping and looking full into his face. The cane was lifted and a heavy blow aimed, not at the boy, but at the stem he was on, for Bolton did not really mean to injure him, but as the negro bent down, the stroke fell on the back of his head and laid him senseless at the white man's feet. Shocked and horrified, Bolton stooped to lift the boy up, but the form hung on his hands like the dead weight it was, and as he turned the limp head to the still bright western sky, it was plain to be seen that the half-witted spirit had fled to a sphere where a new intelligence was granted it. The loaded cane had struck the base of the brain, and its work had been swift and painless.
“What shall I do with him now?” said Bolton. “I did not mean to kill him. I'll let people suppose he fell off and broke his neck. His old mother will be better off without him anyway; I reckon Bill was nothing but a care to her and she'll be glad he's gone.” So saying, Bolton pulled the unresisting form under his grape-vine swing and left him in the dew and dim starlight, while the old mother sat in her cabin waiting for the return of the child who supplied the sole interest of her lonely life, and whom she loved, though he was so wayward and capricious. Old Milly had been free for several years, and had chosen to stay near her old home when her former master had moved away; she, with her boy Bill, living in a tumble-down cabin on a corner of David Haydock's farm. The Haydocks saw that she did not suffer for necessaries and Bill would occasionally do a half day's work, a thing he could easily accomplish when the fancy took him, for he was big and strong as these “innocents” often are. Beside his mother, James Haydock was the only person for whom Bill showed any attachment, and to him, this half-witted boy frequently brought squirrels and ’possums that he had trapped. No
more of these wild gifts would the motionless hands ever bring, and few indeed were the people who would mourn Bill's departure from his little world.
After the first shock at the result of his reckless blow, the old feeling of contempt for the “nigger” returned to Bolton's mind. One less or more was very little consequence anyhow; some people even doubted that they had souls, and certainly he regarded them as little above the brutes, this one especially; moreover, Bill had been an object of interest to the Haydocks and shared in the dislike with which Bolton regarded the whole family.
“They will make search and find him in the morning; I will not disturb myself more about it. Grinning idiot that he was, to provoke me so!” and the slave-owner moodily walked on homeward. He was not unkind to his own negroes; indeed they were fairly happy under his rule; but to have complete control of a number of one's fellow-beings and to exert over them an authority from which there is no appeal, curiously enough, instead of evoking the highest and best qualities within us, usually bring out the brute.
About the middle of the following afternoon, James Haydock, while helping uncle Billy repair the hinges on the barn door, saw old Milly coming toward them across the potato field.
“Old Milly is getting more feeble every day; don't you think so, uncle Billy?”
“Yes, Mars’ James, dat she is; I reckon her Bill wear her out; he is a mighty onexpected kind of a critter an’ nothin’ is as wearin’ as dat sort of sudd'nt s'prise he gibs her all de time.”
“Good-evening, aunt Milly,” called James as she neared them, walking slowly, “how is Bill? All right?”
“Dats jest it, Mars’ James, Bill's been called to glory in de twinklin’ of an eye, an’ it has kinder upsot me.”
“What! Milly, you don't mean to say that Bill's dead?” said James stopping his work and looking at her, “here, sit down on this log; you look tired out,” seeing how swollen were the poor old eyes and how grief-stricken was the wrinkled face.
“Deed, Mars’ James, it is tryin’ to de flesh, dese onexpected movements of Bill's, an’ dis yere one's de wust I ever ’sperienced. Dey foun’ him
dis mornin’ a layin’ on Mars’ Bolton's back road under de grape vine twists he's allars so fond of swingin’ on. Pears as if de motion soothed him, an’ dey say he mus’ a swung too hard an’ jes’ fell off an’ broke his neck. Oh, why, Bill, did yere go an’ leab yere old mammy alone in de cabin to wait till de golden chariot calls fo’ her at de do’,” and the poor old creature broke into such unrestrained sobbing that James was glad to see the comfortable figure of his mother's cook coming towards them. Aunt Jane took the weeping woman into the kitchen, where soon Rachel Haydock was soothing her with sweet and comforting words, and before long James saw her wending her way back to her cabin with slow uncertain steps, bending under her burden of woe, so great to her, though almost less than nothing to most of those about her.
“James, old Milly wants to have the funeral from our meeting house,” said his father, when his son came in to supper, “and if thee is willing to go and see that everything is done carefully, it can be so. It seems to be a comfort to these people to have as much ceremony at such times as possible. Can thee go to-night?”
“Oh, yes, I will go, to be sure; it is about the last thing I can do for poor Bill. He was really fond of us; it was only yesterday he brought me a squirrel he had trapped.”
“Very well; here is the key; do not let them keep it up late.”
“I will try to hold them within bounds, though it is not very easy. I think I will take Frances, if she will go on Nero,” said James. He had told his parents of his new relations with the maiden, and their satisfaction was only less in degree than his own, for they had ever felt a warm love for her, and this engagement was very pleasant to them.
The clear yellow of an October sunset was still lingering in the west when James rode up to the steps of Friend Allen's porch and fastened his horse to the post near by. Frances was singing to herself as she moved about the living room, and looking up saw James enter, his figure obscuring the fast fading light.
“Is thee alone, Frances?” was the youth's question as he came forward to greet her.
“Enough so to make thee a welcome guest,” replied the girl, a little mischievously, though the soft color deepened on her cheek.
“Then thee only makes me welcome when thee has no one else to talk to?”
“I doubt if ever so much company would increase my wish to see thee.”
“James, thee is always welcome,” said Jeremiah Allen, issuing from the door of his little room and shaking hands with his future son-in-law, “will thee not sit down?”
“I came to see if Frances would go out with me to-night,” James said, turning to seek her face in the darkening twilight, and then he told them of old Milly's sorrow and of the funeral to be held at the meeting house.
“I would like to go very much,” said Frances. “Father, can thee saddle the pony for me?”
“I have the pillion on Nero, Frances; he is quite used to going double, if thee is willing to try him?”
Frances hesitated and then laughed.
“I suppose thee thinks I might as well begin to grow accustomed to going double too? Perhaps thee is right; I will be ready in a minute.” In spite of the girl's propensity to tease, there was a sweet frankness about her that showed her heart was in the right place and gave an earnest that
she would never carry her playfulness far enough to hurt the feelings of any one. In a few moments Nero paced gently down the road, stepping carefully under the newly assumed burden, to which he was destined in future to become well accustomed.
It was quite dark as they neared the meeting house, and from many directions the eye could see the twinkling of torches as the negroes gathered from those plantations within easy distance. The news of any event among these bond-people spread with curious quickness; both Rosa's escape and Bill's death were well known at the adjacent farms, and the slaves had sent a request to their masters to allow them to attend the funeral of the half-witted boy whom they all had known. These requests were granted, as the slave-holders were not averse to their people having a little variety in a harmless fashion. Mr. Bolton especially felt it in this case a sort of compensation he owed old Milly, and willingly permitted his slaves to join those who were to carry Bill to his last resting place. No one knew his share in the catastrophe; no questions had been asked; and he did not feel it incumbent on him to say anything.
When James and Frances entered the meeting-house yard it was full of moving forms whose black faces showed but dimly under the glare and smoke of the light-wood torches.
James fastened Nero in a shed and passed through the crowd. It opened to let himself and Frances approach the door, before which stood six men bearing a rude coffin. As soon as the house was open, James and his companion stepped inside and stood, while the crowd pressed by, following the coffin-bearers to the head of the middle aisle; there they deposited their burden in front of the gallery facing the rest of the benches. The torches had been stacked, still burning, in many pyramids about the yard; the only lights inside of the meeting house were four candles, two at the head and two at the foot of the now open coffin. In and out of the dim circle of light thus formed the dusky figures passed silently, taking their last look at the features well remembered by them as wearing only mocking and derisive grimaces, now so quiet and almost sweet in their relaxed rigidity. Noiselessly the dark forms passed around and onward until all were satisfied. They then took their seats in the body of the meeting house,
the only persons remaining near the coffin being the bent figure of old Milly and the negro minister; above them were the high unoccupied benches, their front railings gleaming indistinctly in polished lines, while the seats lay in such heavy gloom as to be scarcely visible. Frances imagined she could see fantastic shadows peopling the dark galleries, and the fancy remained with her as the gaunt preacher arose and began his address, occasionally turning to the vacant seats above him as if he too could see visible faces in the dim darkness.
The pungent smoke of the torches was blown by the veering night wind through the door by which the girl and her companion were sitting. Used as she was to seeing negroes about her, the strangeness of their own being the only white faces in the dimly lighted building, brought a curious feeling with it. The voice of the preacher rose and fell in measured cadence as he dilated on the sudden passage of the chariot that took Bill away to the promised land, leaving the sorrowing mother alone. Long and eloquently did he speak with outstretched arms, and when exhausted by his efforts he paused, a big negro in front of Frances
began a hymn in which one after another joined, accompanying the swelling chorus with a muffled stamping of feet and slow swaying of the body. Louder and more impassioned grew the singing until it seemed as if the roof would be riven by the volume of mournful sound; suddenly it ceased and a dull impassiveness settled down again on the dark faces. The preacher arose once more, and in a few brief sentences, whose calmness contrasted oddly with his former excitement, signified that the time had come to proceed to the grave.
The service was over. The men who had carried the coffin stepped forward to close the lid and paused a moment for old Milly, who had bent her head on the narrow box, to rise and allow them to go on with their duty. She did not stir, and the preacher gently touched her arm; still she did not move and he took hold of her hand. The next moment he looked up with a startled air.
“Bless the Lord! he's dun taken Milly to glory, right yere an’ now!”
An indefinable movement through the house told James that a rush would be made to see the old woman, if the excitement caused by this sudden
event was not controlled, and before the congregation could rise he had passed quickly up the aisle to the coffin.
“Start a hymn, brother Zeb, and tell them to stay in their places,” he said to the preacher, who with the prompt appreciation of his race, immediately complied, and the rising feeling was kept in check. James stood a moment in doubt as to what to do next.
“Can we bury them together?” he asked, speaking low to a strong negro standing by him.
“I tink we can, Mars’ Haydock,” the man replied, “old Milly is putty small, an’ dis box is on-common big; I dunno who made it, but as tings hab ’curred, it is mighty lucky.”
“It seems to me the best thing to do,” said James. “Tell your friends here to lift up the old creature gently,” but he had no need to warn them; tenderly they laid the tired old head beside that of her son, and Frances having followed James, lightly spread her white handkerchief over both the faces resting so close together. The negroes showed their approval of this arrangement by beginning a wild resurrection hymn which they sang as the coffin was closed and taken out. All the congregation followed, still singing. The torches were
picked up and carried in the procession to the grave in a corner of the meeting-house yard, the cadence of the hymn still rising and falling as the people placed themselves as closely as possible around the new made grave.
In the silence that then fell over the gathering, the preacher turned to James Haydock.
“Won't you tell us a few words, Mars’ James? Do now.” Taken by surprise, James hesitated a moment, but then stepped forward and with uncovered head offered an earnest thanksgiving that the mother and son were together again, and a prayer that however sudden might be the call to another country, it might find them ready. The grave filled, the company silently dispersed in small groups, and taking their different ways homeward, extinguished their torches in the sand as they reached their various cabins.
James locked the meeting house, and putting Frances on her pillion, rode home through a darkness that even the light of the southern stars illuminated but faintly. The wild grapes gave out a strong perfume in the damp air, and a few crickets chirped feebly along the road-side as though they knew the summer was over and the chill of the late autumn would soon be upon them.
Slavery had been gradually eliminated from the Society of Friends. In 1784, several different Quarterly Meetings having reported that many still held slaves notwithstanding the advice and entreaties of their friends, the Yearly Meeting directed that such offending members should be disowned.
Every effort was made to induce these members to see the sin in its true light, and a resort to the final measure of disownment was put off as long as possible, so that it was not till 1818 that the Yearly Meeting was able to make, as the final result of their long wrestling with the evil, this brief record, “None held as slaves.” This happy event occured a few months after the beginning of our story, and the following summer James Haydock married the maiden of his choice. We shall resume their history again as it grew eventful in 1864, the fourth year of the civil war, when
scarcity of men and means threw its deepest shadow over the South.
This summer of 1864, in which we gather up the threads of our story, shows many a change in the lives of James Haydock and his wife Frances. The early home of the maiden where she was wooed and won is her's no longer, for Jeremiah Allen has long since been laid under the thickly falling pine-needles which cushion almost to concealment the low mounds in the grave-yard near the meeting house. David and Rachel Haydock also sleep their last sleep in this ancient burying-ground, the date of which is almost identical with that of the settlement, for, as Hawthorne says, in those early times, provision was made in accordance with the needs of departed spirits, about as soon as that necessary for the living material body. James Haydock during his married life had visited and trafficked in the North, and indeed had settled several children, now themselves married, in that busy and agressive part of our country; and then, following the inclination of both himself and his wife, had returned to the old farm, so pleasant to both in their early associations. Their only unmarried daughter Molly, a bright girl of twenty,
and John, a boy of fifteen, so much younger than the rest as to be a great darling, were still with them to cheer their old age. “Old age,” however, could hardly be applied to the pair standing on the porch this afternoon. Frances Haydock leaned against one of the posts that was almost hidden by scarlet honeysuckle. Her wavy red-brown hair was thinner than in years past, but not much more in control than then, and the delicate rose tint still lingered freshly in her cheek. To-day, however, an expression of growing anxiety was on her face as she listened to the news that her husband was telling. He stood on the step below her, lifting his hat rather wearily from the dark hair now streaked with gray, and wiping his brow with his handkerchief. He had just returned from a walk to the mill. All their horses, but one very old one, had been seized for service by the Southern army in their various raids to and fro over the country, and the cows, with the exception of two young heifers, had been taken for food by the same rapacious hosts. Their neighbors were no better off than they in this respect, for their homes all lay in that part of the country so frequently fought over by the contending armies, and the inhabitants were
called on for supplies by both friend and foe. True to their belief that the teachings of Christ were for peace alone, and that His followers could take no part in the struggle then tearing asunder this fair country, no truly convinced Friend, either in the North or South, had joined the army; and we may say here, that as far as possible, both of the military governments provided exceptional acts by which this people might adhere to their principles. In the summer of 1862, a Conscription act was passed in the Confederate Congress requiring every man between eighteen and thirty-five years of age to enter the army. In 1863 these limits were extended to eighteen and forty-five, and the next year to fifty years, but at this date the scarcity of men in the Southern army was such that all able bodied men were drafted, no matter what might be their age, and James Haydock felt that he might be called on any day to render service to the government which he could not conscientiously perform.
“They told me at the mill to-day, Frances, that the soldiers had been there, and because the Miller would not reveal the hiding place of his three sons, they hung him up three times almost
to the point of strangulation. Josiah Barker, who owns the mill, and lives close by, hearing the screams of the Miller's wife, came out and they seized him, asking him the same questions as they had asked the Miller.”
“Oh, what did he do?” asked Frances.
“Stood his ground, thank God,” replied her husband. “In fact he did not know where the boys were, and simply said so, but when the soldiers put the rope round his neck and proceeded to tighten it over a beam in the barn, he did not flinch or beg for mercy. They told him the Quakers by keeping so many men out of the army were causing the defeat of the South, said he had but five minutes to live, and if he had any prayers to offer, to say them quickly.”
“What respect had they for prayers?” queried Frances Haydock, slightly smiling, as her husband paused and set down on the step, leaning back among the shining green of the Lady Banksia rose, and looking up at her with glowing eyes.
“Some traditionary reverence, doubtless; Southerners are no more brutes than Northerners, but they are driven into more desperate straits
just now, and war ever brings unreasoning cruelty in its train, especially when homes are destroyed and families broken up. The Northerners know little of this in reality. Well, to go on, Barker said he was innocent, and had no more to say than ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And I think our Father stopped them, for they removed the rope from his neck and flung him on one side, telling him not to look up or he would be shot, and in truth so stunned was he, that looking up was impossible; he heard, as in a dream, the fellows hanging the poor Miller up until he was nearly strangled; then they left the place, threatening to return, but our Master sent them in another direction, for they did not come back. They found one of the missing conscripts, whom they hung till dead.”
“Probably they think discipline must be maintained,” Frances Haydock remarked.
“Aye, but what discipline is enforced in the army is more than counterbalanced by the license flooding the country the moment that strict rule is relaxed,” said her husband, “how much better the control taught by the Prince of Peace!”
Merry voices were heard at this moment, and Molly and John appeared coming up the avenue. The pale gold of the sunset still shone through the far arch of overhanging live-oaks, and outlined the children's figures with clear distinctness. John carried in his hand a pail half full of foaming milk.
“Mother,” he said as they neared the porch, “Molly and I have found such a beautiful place for the heifers to sleep in, they will not miss the barn at all now.”
“They would hardly miss it at any rate this warm weather, my boy?” said his father, smiling at the two as they sat down beside him.
“No, I suppose not,” answered John, “but thee knows that thick clump of alderbushes in the lower meadow?”
“Yes,” said James Haydock.
“Well, there is an open space right in the middle of it, Molly and I cut off a few branches, twisted the rest in and out, and spread a lot of dead leaves over the ground, and the heifers went right in and lay down there. Close by the opening is a dead tree with a jessamine growing over it and hanging down, so every sign of an entrance
is hidden, and I think it would very much puzzle the soldiers to find the cows. They may hunt the barn over now, we will keep our heifers.”
“It is quite a distance from the house,” remarked Molly, “and we must milk them early in morning and late in the evening or some one will see us.”
“It seems the only way to do,” said Frances Haydock, “I trust no worse trouble is in store for us.” A sigh followed these words, for a shadow of future evil seemed gathering over her. Several friends in the neighborhood had been drafted into the army quite lately, some of whom had no objection to paying the Exemption tax, and thus avoid engaging in bloodshed; but two of them did not feel free to avail themselves of this way of escape and had gone with the soldiery, though refusing to bear arms. This refusal either to pay what the Exemption Act demanded, or to bear arms, excited much wrath among the soldiers with whom they had to deal, and very rough treatment was bestowed upon those courageous followers of Him whose teachings are to “Love your enemies, and pray for those who despitefully use you.” No loss of life had, however, befallen
those who steadfastly adhered to Christ's precepts, and their confidence was strengthened by such evidence of His protecting power.
James Haydock did not believe in paying the Exemption tax, and his wife dreaded the possible attempt to force him to either give up his principles or suffer for them.
“Come Molly, we must put the milk away,” said her mother. The girl lingered under the caressing hand of her father as he stroked the dark braids of hair in which Molly had twisted a spray of the yellow Southern jessamine. She had inherited James Haydock's ebon hair and brows, but the large black eyes were very unlike his dark blue ones, and had a steadfastness in their depth derived from her grandfather rather than from her father's impetuous nature; this impetuosity, however, was now steadied by strong principle and an earnest love for the Lord, his Master.
“I will take it in, mother,” said John, springing up and lifting the pail. “Molly did nearly all the milking to-night.” This child was like his mother; he was merry, full of fun, always talking cheerfully, always fresh and sweet, like the little brook running through the cellar in
whose cool flow the milk was now soon deposited, the creamy liquid filling to the brim two shallow pans; it was then left to gather an added richness in the darkness and solitude of its underground habitation. Thus it is with some human characters; shut them away from the bustle and light of the outside world, and all that is best in their natures will be brought to the surface; while, with others of this curiously mixed creation of ours, all possible sunshine and free air is needed to develop the sweetness and bloom so delightful to find in a work-a-day world.
In giving an account of the experiences of Friends throughout the South during the civil war, our story almost unavoidably assumes the cast of a religious controversy. And although it is as far as possible from our purpose to arouse any antagonism in the many truly earnest Christians who hold different views from those maintained by the Quakers, we cannot but put these views, and the steadfast trust with which they were carried out, in the strongest possible light. They were a vital matter with this people, and any trivial handling of the subject would fail to give a true impression of the feeling existing among them. We rejoice in the
clear light of to-day, after twenty-five years have been added to our national history, that many in all Christian denominations are beginning to see the wickedness of war, and to take their stand with the sect which has ever borne testimony against it, suffering almost unto the giving up of life, as many years before that time the Friends had also suffered indignity and hardship for their belief in the freedom of all mankind.
The next morning a Confederate officer rode up to the Haydock's dwelling, and with a courteous bow handed a folded paper to Frances Haydock who came forward to ask what his errand might be. She took it with a sinking heart and carried it to her husband. He opened the paper and read it slowly, while his wife leaned over his shoulder and read likewise. It was an order to report at Richmond for military service, or else to pay the Exemption tax, before the next three days had passed.
James Haydock leaned back and looked up at his wife; her face was white, and a pleading look was in her soft brown eyes; she stroked the wavy locks on his forehead with the same caressing touch as of yore.
“James, will thee not pay the tax and stay with us?” she asked.
“Would thee have me do so?” he said, looking lovingly at her.
“Many of our Friends have done so,” she responded.
“I know, but what is thy own feeling about it?” her husband persisted.
“Oh James, I cannot let thee go,” Frances exclaimed, coming round in front of her husband, who, rising, took her in his strong arms in a close embrace, which, while telling her how inexpressibly hard it would be to leave her, in some manner conveyed to her so clear an impression of the strength and power of the Master they both served that she was calmed and comforted.
“I want us to see eye to eye in this matter, Frances, my wife,” James Haydock said.
“We always have, James,” she replied, “and I will not fail thee now. But, oh, when will this horrible struggle be over and our country at peace once more?”
“In the Lord's own time, Frances. He never forsakes those who trust in Him, not one of our Friends have lost their lives.”
“No, but they have suffered. Oh, James, it is terrible. In three short days to have thee go to we know not where.”
“ ‘He is able to save, even unto the uttermost.’ ”
Horses’ hoofs on the sandy road outside at this moment attracted James Haydock's attention.
“Frances, it is neighbor Gordon and his son Rosco.”
“I cannot see them just now, James.”
“I will take care of them then and excuse thee for the present,” said James Haydock going forward to welcome his guests with his usual quiet grace and dignity, while Frances entered her own room and shut herself into the presence of the Comforter to whom she was used to carry all her griefs and perplexities.
Mr. Gordon, to whom we are now introduced, had moved with his family into Jeremiah Allen's old house some years before, and had formed a very warm friendship with the Haydocks. Rosco, their only son, had been educated at the North, but when the war broke out he had been forced to return from college just before he graduated. He was now twenty-two years old, and during
these two years at home he had formed a warm friendship with Molly Haydock, who, on her part much enjoyed the cultivated companionship of young Gordon. Carefully guided in her studies by her father, Molly had learned a good deal that is not usually included in a girl's education, although she had missed some of the lighter accomplishments.
Mr. Gordon had served a year in the Southern army, had been wounded, and was now unfit for further service. For some unknown reason Rosco was not as yet drafted, and his frequent association with James Haydock had so far convinced him of the evil of war, that he had never felt willing to volunteer his services to the army. With perhaps a keener observation than his father, Rosco Gordon perceived the shade that had fallen over the usually serene face of his host.
“You are in trouble, Mr. Haydock?” he asked respectfully. “Is any one ill?”
“No one, Rosco,” James Haydock replied, “but trial has come to us in common with our neighbors and in three days I must go to Richmond.”
“I am awfully sorry to hear this, Mr. Haydock,”
said the older Gordon. “Why don't you pay the Exemption tax and stay at home?”
“I cannot feel easy to do that,” replied James Haydock, “although many of our Friends have, it seems to me like assisting in a strife that is altogether opposed to our Lord's teachings?”
“I do not see why you have to look at it in that way. Why the money goes for provision, for blankets, for tobacco, for quantities of things that don't hurt anybody, but do them good. Come here, Miss Molly, good-morning to you,” as the girl entered the room, “your good father thinks he must leave you, and I want you to help me persuade him it is all nonsense.”
“You will not do that, I think,” said Molly, gravely. She usually dropped the Friend's language of “thee” and “thou” when talking with members of other denominations.
“You don't want him to go, do you, Miss Molly?” pursued Mr. Gordon.
“I would give all I have in the world to prevent it! What shall we do without him?” the girl exclaimed vehemently, raising her eyes to meet those of Rosco Gordon's fixed on her with earnest sympathy; the bright sunshine lying on
the polished floor seemed to throw upward a gleam that kindled a glowing spark in the light hazel eye of the young man.
“Can we do nothing to keep Mr. Haydock at home?” he asked.
“He shall not go,” asseverated Molly.
“The soldiers will take me I fear, Molly, whether I wish to go or not,” said her father, tenderly regarding her.
“Oh, and what will they do to thee?” she exclaimed in distress, rising and walking to the window. Rosco followed, but she could neither talk nor listen to his attempts at consolation, and after Mr. Gordon had urged James Haydock once more, to avail himself of the loop-hole offered by the Exemption Act, the visitors mounted their horses and rode away. Just before leaving, old Mr. Gordon whispered to Molly:
“We will pay the tax for your father, my dear, and keep him here in spite of himself.”
“Thank you; he would not allow it. You are very kind, but it is no use,” Molly said sadly.
Rosco looked back as long as he dared, only to see the girl's figure leaning against the pillar of the porch, her hand over her eyes.
Sad and dreary were the days that followed. Frances was busy looking over her husband's clothing, preparing for an absence of she knew not how long duration. These preparations were much more scanty than they would have been two years before. Two years of separation from their best source of supply, the northern cities, two years of desolated crops and ravaged stock yards, had left but little to live upon, and although James had invested funds in the north, at present they were unavailable.
Frances Haydock had always kept a good stock of linen on hand, but constant appeals from needy neighbors had rapidly reduced this supply. The old spinning wheel was put into requisition again, and both mother and daughter spent many an hour in spinning the cotton they were fortunately still able to procure.
Molly knew of an old chest in the loft, full of
moth-eaten and faded garments of worsted and silk brocade; many a time as a child she had looked over the ancient costumes, and now they frequently suggested themselves to her mind as a last resource should all other supplies fail. James Haydock occupies himself in making every arrangment for his wife's comfort while he should be away, and told John how to provide wood for the winter, and gather in what crops they might be able to save. He said but little of a prolonged absence to Frances, for she constantly expressed a hope that the end of the war might not be far distant and then their troubles would be ended; at least this worst trouble of all, separation from one another. Very tender was his manner toward his wife during these three days. Molly was restlessly bent on relieving her mother of all work that might keep her from her husband's side, and her father cast many a loving look at her as she silently went about the house and garden.
“I cannot help it, father dear,” the girl said one day as he laid his hand on her shoulder, “thee must let me control my feelings as best I can. It is like death to have thee go away, and worse than death to think of what thee must suffer.”
James Haydock put his arm around her and she sobbed on his shoulder.
“Thee will be thy mother's great dependence, Molly. John is but young and boyish, though he does his best; I thank God daily for my daughter Molly.” The girl raised her head and looked up at him steadily; there always had been between them a peculiar bond of love and confidence.
“I will do all I can to cheer mother,” she said simply, “now I must go for the milk,” and the bright young maiden, anxious to hide her sorrow, ran out to seek the cows in their distant pasture. The two heifers came to meet her and greeted her lovingly, as she crept through the broken fence. John had not put up any bars, lest the signs of care should attract the marauder's eyes, and cause him to search in that lonely spot for things worth hiding. The rich thick grass sent up a damp pleasant smell, the crickets chirped softly, creeping forth from their shady houses, night was their time to enjoy themselves and hold communion with the little stars just beginning to twinkle faintly, but cheerily in the darkening sky. The cow's warm breath, sweet with feeding on the leaves and twigs of the spice-wood, mingled
with the cool air and enveloped Molly as she milked; the profound repose of the place rested and quieted her.
After milking was over, as she drove the heifers to the sheltering clump of alder bushes and stooped to pick a branch of the odorous jesamine, two huge bats, black and ugly as only southern bats are, flew suddenly out from the dead tree, almost brushing Molly's face with their wings, and flapped noiselessly about her head; she screamed slightly and taking up her pailful of milk, hurridly sped toward the fence. She was startled to see the figure of a man standing by the opening she had come through; for a moment her heart stood still, but the next instant she recognized Rosco Gordon and the feeling of relief was so great that she leaned her head against a mossy post and burst into tears.
“Miss Haydock, Molly,” the young man exclaimed in dismay, “have I startled you? What is the matter?”
“Nothing, except I am so glad it is you and nobody else. I thought it was a soldier, and, oh, I am not myself just now; I was frightened.”
Molly dried her eyes and crept through the
fence, resigning the milk-pail into Rosco's hands.
“Do you think it is safe for you to come here so late alone?” asked the youth.
“It is safe for the cows,” replied Molly, smiling a little; the reaction from her fright overcoming other feelings for the moment.
“Doubtless, but you are of more importance than the cows,” he rejoined.
“I do not know that I am. I can do so little, My consequence has dwindled very much lately in my own eyes.”
“But not in the eyes of others, perhaps,” Rosco replied. “At any rate let me either milk the cows in the future, or come with you; there are too many soldiers and runaways now lurking round the country for you to be alone so far from the house.”
“John usually comes with me, but he was busy with something else to-night. Will you come in?” she asked as they neared the house.
“Not now, thank you. What time does Mr. Haydock leave to-morrow?”
“Oh, I don't know, don't ask me,” Molly exclaimed, all her misery returning with overwhelming force.
“Do forgive me, I did not mean to recall your trouble; I was very thoughtless.”
“No matter; it must come soon. Good-night!” The girl forgot to thank him for bringing her home, and left the milk in his hands as she hastily sought the shelter of the house. He hesitated a moment, and then gave the milk to John, who was at the door, bringing in wood for the morning fire.
“Halloo, did you milk the cows? Where is Molly?” ejaculated the boy.
“In the house. Good-night,” said Rosco, departing into the rapidly gathering darkness.
“Very queer of Molly,” soliloquised John as he carried in the milk. “If Gordon begins milking the cows, I wonder what he will do next?”
The following morning as the early dew dried away from the grass, and the hands of the old-fashioned clock ticked their deliberate progress toward noon, a band of gray-clad soldiers appeared coming up the avenue leading to the Haydock homestead; they halted at the porch and one of them, seemingly the captain, dismounted and went up the steps, bringing dismay to the hearts of Frances Haydock and her daughter. A knock,
neither gentle nor hesitating, was answered by James Haydock himself.
“You're Mr. Haydock, I take it?” said the soldier, bowing with some politeness of manner as the tall dignified figure confronted him.
“That is my name,” was the reply.
“Well, sir, I'm sorry to say it, but you must shoulder your musket and come with us to Richmond at once. We have a horse ready for you.”
“I will accompany thee, but I can neither take arms nor engage in army service,” said James Haydock.
“I suppose you're a Quaker,” said the Confederate officer. “Well, you'll just have to put your objections in your pocket now, and join the service like every other decent man has to. Here is your horse, sir. Have you any traps?”
Frances Haydock brought out the small bundle she had prepared for her husband; there was no emotion that threatened to overcome her just now, but a wonderfully calm and uplifted feeling. It had been with her since their morning waiting before the Lord, when they had given themselves to His all powerful protection, and felt His almost visible presence.
“Tom, bring up that horse; now, sir, here's your musket; take it if you please.”
James Haydock mounted the horse, but the musket remained untouched.
“Why don't you take it?” exclamed the captain. “Come, we have no time to waste. Don't you mean to shoulder it? Remember you are under orders now.”
“I am under orders, but of a higher captain than this world generally acknowledges. He tells me not to shed blood, and I cannot disobey His commands.”
“All confounded nonsense,” impatiently responded the captain. “Still, I am mighty sorry for you all,” he said looking at the family grouped in silence on the piazza, Molly's arm around her mother's waist, who, however, hardly looked as if she needed support, but would rather impart strength to others. John's blue eyes flashed, and he grasped the hatchet with which he had just been cutting wood with a clutch indicating he would like to use it on different material than cedar and light pine.
“Can't you pay the Exemption fee and stay at home?” asked the officer. “I'll take that gladly.”
“Thanks for the willingness, but I do not feel easy to do it; it all comes to the same thing,” was the response.
“I don't see that; but if you won't pay, just take your musket and come along.”
Still the musket was not accepted. For a moment the captain looked bewildered; then he burst forth with an oath, “Do you dare to defy me? Don't you know I'm here to be obeyed? Tom, take that musket and tie it across the saint's back; tight, mind you.”
This order was obeyed. Molly's eyes grew indignant as she saw her father wince involuntarily under the rough handling and the tight twist of the rope, but he said nothing and sat on the horse looking calmly, rather sorrowfully, at the officer, who regarded him angrily; seeing he made no resistance, however, the angry look slowly gave place to a puzzled one, then he spoke.
“Tom, you may take that gun off and tie it on the horse. I'll leave the authorities at Richmond to deal with him. They will not be so easy with you as I am, confound you,” his anger rising again, as he shook his horse's reins, “forward, we have wasted time enough here.”
Frances had come near to her husband; he bent toward her with a smile.
“Frances, He has shut the lion's mouth this time.”
“Yes, and He will do it again, James. He will be with thee and with us,” was her reply, and then the horse and rider moved in line with the others, and following the command of the leader, passed out of sight down the sandy road.
“Molly, I will go to my room for a little while,” said Frances Haydock when the last sound of the trampling hoofs had died away. “Call me if thee wants me.”
“Go, mother dear,” said Molly. “I will see to dinner; though its little eating we shall do to-day, I fancy,” she added under her breath, then turning suddenly away,
“Oh, father, father, why could not I take this in thy place?” She sat down on the porch step, and with her hands covering her face remained motionless a long while.
“Molly, I have made the fire up, and maybe mother would eat an egg or something; let's ask her,” said John, quietly touching his sister's shoulder. She looked up.
“John, thee is worth twice as much as I am. Mother ought to eat something. I will go and ask her. After all the war must end soon, every one says so, and father will be taken care of,” and Molly jumped up, hope spreading its brightness again over her young face, and renewing the courage that in young and energetic natures is never long absent. Molly was both sanguine and steadfast, though her intense, almost tragic way of looking at life made her less lively than her brother John, who had inherited more of his mother's buoyant temperament.
In the evening Mr. Gordon and his son rode over to see the Haydocks.
“We were just coming here this morning when we met the soldiers, Mrs. Haydock, and we thought you would rather be alone a while,” said Mr. Gordon. “We'll have your husband home again soon and not a hair of his head touched. There are ways of getting him back. I am going to Richmond myself to-morrow; but I'll say no more now. Keep a good heart, madam. Things will be all right.”
“I am very sure of that,” replied Frances, a faint smile passing over her pale face.CHAPTER X. IN CAMP.
Long and weary for James Haydock was the journey to Richmond. At first the soldiers taunted and annoyed him in every possible way, but the gentleness with which this treatment was received and the various little helpful actions performed by him whenever opportunity offered, at last won the tolerance, if not the regard, of his companions; and when he went with the captain to report at Richmond to the authorities who were to decide into which regiment he was to be detailed, there was no attempt made to prejudice the officers against him; in fact, another offer was made, even urged upon him, of obtaining immunity from service by paying the Exemption tax. This was, however, distinctly refused and the officer in authority ordered him to be placed in the — regiment and sent to Petersburg, Virginia. It was at this place that the mining and countermining of the Northern and Southern forces ended
later in a scene of such awful destruction that the name of Fort Hell was given to one of the fortifications.
“May I send a letter home to my family?” he asked, as, hand-cuffed for disobedience to the order to carry arms, he was led from the dingy little office where he had been undergoing examination.
“There is no objection, if you can get anyone to write and carry it for you; you will remain hand-cuffed till further orders, unless you agree to do your part as an honest man should,” was the rather surly reply.
“I will write it for you,” said one of the soldiers who had accompanied him to Richmond, “but I don't know who will carry it.”
“Whar yere frum, Massa?” asked a young negro boy who had been leaning against the door of the recruiting office while the examination was going on, and who now approached James Haydock's side. The information asked for having been given, he pondered a moment or two, and then said, speaking low:
“I reckon I kin get it tuk fo’ yere if yere won't make no mention of it to ony pussun.
Reckon some folks be agoin’ tro’ dat way sum time, but dey won't want nothin’ said ’bout it, nohow.” So in the station from which James Haydock was to take the train to Petersburg, a few dictated lines were written and given to the negro boy, to be sent by unknown hands to the dear ones at home.
Although more than a year had now passed since the slaves had been proclaimed free, many of them were still coming from the far South and passing the lines of the contending armies with more or less difficulty, according to the part of the country they travelled through. Sometimes they were detained and questioned, and sometimes they were not, but allowed to go almost as unheeded as dusky birds of passage. Wherever they went, however, the Quakers befriended them, and any one who wore the distinctive dress of this sect claimed gratitude from the negro. Thus it was that James Haydock was enabled to send back to his family news of himself, that could hardly have been taken in any other manner.
The journey in the crowded uncomfortable cars, wherein few seats were allowed, and those only plain benches without backs, was soon over,
and the soldiers marched to an encampment from whence the distant lines of the Northern army could be seen. No engagement was anticipated for two or three days, as the attacking force was supposed to be small, and Petersburg with its fresh reinforcements was fairly well protected.
The repeated and steady refusal of James Haydock to join the daily drill had so exasperated his officers that orders were issued to place him in the front ranks, should a battle take place, and let him be shot down as a punishment for insubordination. The colonel of the regiment, however, being really a man of kindly disposition, felt inclined to make another effort to bring “Haydock to his senses,” as he expressed it. On the evening of the second day in camp, he left his tent and sauntered down to where the soldiers were lounging round the camp-fires. James Haydock was sitting a little apart, leaning against a large oak tree. The lovely hills encircling the city were growing more shadowy as the evening glow faded, and a blue haze crept up from the valley; a few stars were visible and nature at least was peaceful and calm. James Haydock held his Bible loosely in his hand, (they had unfettered
him, seeing his quiet behavior) and his eyes were fixed steadily on the far off mountains whose repose was so absolute.
“Good-evening, Haydock,” said Colonel Preston, “don't you think you had better throw that book away and fight your own way through like a man? Don't get up; I want to talk to you.”
“I think this book is more likely to help than to hinder me in the fight I am making,” replied James Haydock, smiling as he made room on his blanket for Colonel Preston to find a place beside him.
“Do you really think your Lord is going to protect you when the battle comes on?”
“I have never known a case where our Master failed His believing children,” was the ready response.
“Pshaw; do you know you are to be put in the front ranks and be made a mark for the first fire?”
“Somebody will have to go into the front ranks, and I would rather trust to God's protection in such a situation than to one musket among several hundreds. Christ has said that they that trust in Him need never be afraid; surely He can
save now from death as well as eighteen hundred years ago.”
“I don't know much about your God; but I know that nothing short of a miracle can save you in a battle, if unarmed.”
“I quite believe that.”
“Surely you are not such a fool as to believe in miracles, are you?”
“May I ask thee another question before I answer?” queried James Haydock.
“Certainly, I have nothing to do just now and am very willing to hear you talk,” said Colonel Preston, settling himself comfortably against the oak tree. Several of the younger officers, seeing their colonel address James Haydock, had drawn near, and were now standing around the principal speakers.
Many were the discussions indulged in during these idle waiting hours, and very often the subjects pitched upon were of a serious nature; a fact that perhaps might be accounted for by the nearness to danger, and the knowledge that twenty-four hours or less might bring the next world very close to some of them.
“Ask what you please, I don't say I will always answer, however,” the colonel went on.
“Does thee believe the Bible?” asked James Haydock.
“Oh, yes, in a way; some parts of it; I doubt its inspiration, but its moral teaching is certainly good. I read lately a paper by a Unitarian clergyman, of Boston, in which he said, ‘The Bible is a book of many mistakes, but we do not mind them,’ I think that is about my position.”
“ ‘A book of many mistakes,’ ” repeated James Haydock, rather slowly, “and thee is willing to trust thy knowledge of a future life to a book that has many mistakes? I do not think I would take such a book as a guide in questions of law or medicine, still less for life. But granting thy position that parts are true, does thee believe that there is a God, or Creator of the world?”
“Yes, I believe there is a God, though nature is good enough for me,” said Colonel Preston, answering the note of interrogation, “but miracles do not happen; that is exploded long ago.”
“They do not happen, I admit, they are always the intentional direct action of a Supreme power, which has an end in view. Why does thee not believe in them?”
“Because they are contrary to nature.”
“Can any one give the dictionary meaning of a miracle?” asked James Haydock.
The chaplain of the regiment, who was stretched out on the ground near the colonel's feet, pulled a little dictionary out of his breast pocket and read slowly by the fading light:
“Miracle, an event or effect contrary to the established course of things; a deviation from the known laws of nature.”
He replaced the volume in his pocket. James Haydock spoke.
“Miracles are not to be believed in because they are exactly what they are defined to be.” A suppressed laugh went round the circle of listeners and Colonel Preston looked foolish.
“How do you know such a thing as a miracle ever existed?” he retorted, pulling himself together again.
“Can we define a thing that never existed?”
“Things often exist simply in the imagination; any one knows that.”
“A combination of things or circumstances is often conjured up by the imagination; but to carry the question back a little further, can you
even imagine anything that absolutely never was seen or heard of?”
“I don't suppose you could, unless it was suggested to man by an intelligence superior to his own, a mind knowing something he did not,” replied the colonel. He was beginning to be interested; for he was an educated man, and liked to meet an opponent worth arguing with, as he now recognized this Quaker to be.
“Ah, thee has touched the idea of revelation, a wide subject,” said James Haydock.
“But to return to miracles;” said Colonel Preston, “why should the supreme intelligence that made the laws of nature, erratically suspend them? It would bring everything into confusion.”
“That is the old theologian's idea, and incorrect, I think. Have we any proof that they are suspended? Does a bird when he flies upward suspend the laws of gravitation? I think he simply exerts a power that is superior, and overcomes it.”
“I see your point, Mr. Haydock,” said the colonel. “You think the ordinary forces are overcome by extraordinary ones.”
“I would like to see a miracle,” said one of
the younger officers. “Then one might believe in them.”
“Exactly,” responded James Haydock smiling, “and every generation would require a miracle to be performed for its belief, till raising of the dead and opening the eyes of the blind would become so common as to be no miracle at all. The next generation would no more believe your record than you believe the ancient testimony.”
“Hume says,” remarked a thoughtful-looking, keen-eyed man, sitting on a knapsack near by, “that ‘a miracle supported by any human testimony is more a subject of derision than of argument.’ ”
“ ‘Human testimony,’ ” muttered the chaplain under his breath, “would he admit superhuman, I wonder? Hume himself says he never read the New Testament through.”
“He also says,” replied James Haydock, “ ‘I own that there may possibly be miracles of such a kind as to admit of proofs from human testimony,’ and then tries to do away with his own admissions by saying, ‘but should such a miracle be ascribed to a new system of religion, men of all ages have been so imposed on by ridiculous
stories of that kind that this very circumstance would be full proof of the cheat.’ ”
“You have a very good memory, Mr. Haydock,” said the colonel, a little sarcastically.
“I think we usually remember what we are interested in,” was the reply.
“Other religions than Christ's have claimed miracles; Mohammed for instance,” suggested the chaplain.
“Miracles have been claimed for them; Mohammed claimed none, nor were any ever shown publicly; his night-visions were known only to himself; his followers would not swear to them. Christ's miracles were done openly, not ‘in a corner’ but before thousands. The religion He preached was inaugurated by miracles, and God bore him ‘witness both with signs and wonders and divers miracles.’ It is one thing to challenge an unbeliever to try a religion by its miracles, and quite another to ask a believer to accept them as part of a system in which he already believes, as is the case with Mohammed. Oh, my friends, if you all would accept Christ's religion!” The grave face of the speaker had grown wonderfully earnest.
“I consider, Mr. Haydock,” said a soldier who
had not spoken before, “that the Bible is not divine, but is really the best outcome of humanity.”
“How then can the fact be accounted for that it came out at a very poor time of civilization?” was the answer, upon which the soldier concluded to go and attend to the camp fire, which seemed to need more wood.
“You don't answer my idea about the stopping, or rather interfering with nature's laws, Mr. Haydock,” said Colonel Preston, who had been silent some time.
“May I illustrate?” asked James Haydock. “There is a system of water-works now in operation which is so arranged that the demand regulates the supply; according to the rapidity of the discharge at the cock is the rapidity with which the pumping-engine works. Then when a fire in the town subjects the apparatus to a very unusual tax, a signal in the engine-room, acting automatically, causes the engineer to gear on the reserve power always ready for use and so even in an emergency there is a provision for ample supply. Could not a Supreme power, which we must credit with intelligence, exert a reserve power and yet infringe none of nature's laws? Modern science
limits God's power to the laws displayed in nature and then asserts that He violates His own laws by miracle. I deny both positions, and fully believe that a miracle is not a violation of law, but is only such interference with the established course of things as infallibly shows us the presence of a superior power.”
“Such things as miracles are contrary to my experience, and I don't propose to believe in them,” remarked a slim young lieutenant, lazily knocking the ashes out of his pipe.
“So the African said when an Englishman told him he had seen water solid enough to walk on,” retorted the keen-eyed man of whom we have before spoken, then turning to James Haydock, he asked respectfully,
“Admitting miracles, and, if human testimony in both good quantity and quality is to be taken on this point as it is taken on every other subject in the world, we must admit them, why do you think the Saviour performed them? Could not His religion and teachings have been established without the miraculous?”
“I suppose it could, and yet as God selected this way of indicating the Divine authority of His
messenger, we must suppose it to be the best way of showing God's power. Had this New Testament, in which many of the Old Testament or Mosaic laws were done away with (as for instance ‘an eye for an eye’), being replaced by the law of love and ‘resist not evil,’—had the New Testament been sent by simply natural means, the acceptance of it would probably have been far less complete. God appealed to the natural senses, sight, hearing, touch, showing what His power could accomplish in the physical or natural world, in order to induce confidence in the spiritual realms where one can only follow by faith. What other stronger proof of His power can you suggest?”
“I do not know; all nature is full of wonders, and yet they do not seem to impress us with any special belief in God.”
“True enough; they are so common that we get used to them; the mind needs to be startled to be impressed; we need something out of the established order of things to quicken our perceptions.”
“We shall see something out of the established course of thing if you come out scot-free in
the next battle. It will fix the fate of a lot of us. I wish you all success and safety in your faith, Mr. Haydock,” said the slim young officer to whose experience miracles were contrary, “it seems all foolishness to me.”
“I know—‘to the Greek, foolishness; to the Jews, a stumbling block’—but unto them which are called, Christ the power of God. ‘I know whom I have believed,’ ‘and as we are ambassadors for Christ as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead be ye reconciled to God.’ ” In his earnestness, James Haydock had risen and was standing with bared head under the wide-spreading oak branches, whose leaves were slightly moved by the night wind; the numberless tents of the regiment lay quietly, dimly outlined by the uncertain light of the camp fires whose smoke curled up and disappeared in the cloudy darkness overhead; no stars were now visible; most of the soldiers had turned in for the night, and the group around the speaker remained silent as he continued with uplifted face,
“ ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?’ ‘Neither death nor life, nor angels, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come.’
‘Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.’ ”
He stopped, and as with one accord the listening group rose and stood a moment before him without speaking, the chaplain almost involuntarily raised both hands and pronounced a benediction over the uncovered heads, then turned and sought his tent, followed by the other men; the Colonel silently shook hands with James Haydock, and left him standing under the tree, where he lingered a moment listening to the strains of a negro hymn that floated to him from a far off corner of the camp.“My Lord, what a morning,My Lord, what a morning,My Lord, what a morning,When the stars begin to fall.”CHAPTER XI. ON SHORT RATIONS.
“Mother, the corn-meal is nearly gone. We gave some yesterday to poor Martha Royal, and there is just enough for ourselves for another day,” said Molly, coming out of the big store closet into the living room where Frances Haydock sat spinning.
“Well, John must take the rest of the corn to mill to-day on old Dick; it is too heavy for him to carry, and then,—there is no prospect of any more to send,” her mother said looking up at Molly, but not seeming discouraged.
“No, the last set of soldiers who went through here took what corn they did not ride down, for fodder for their own horses. There are lots of potatoes though, and John had just planted peas for a late crop; the hard work is developing him finely,” said Molly with a little laugh. What a happy arrangement it is that sorrow seldom stays persistently with the young! It comes and goes,
and though the “coming” is often overwhelming and seems endless for the time, the “going” is as certain to follow as the sunrise is to follow the sunset; and so it was that Frances Haydock was constantly cheered by her children's merry ways, and herself joined with all the brightness possible in their daily occupations. Her trust in God kept her calm and restful, though much of her old light-heartedness had vanished in the absence of her husband.
The few penciled lines that he sent telling of his welfare, and saying that he was probably going to Petersburg, had been left by an old colored man nearly two weeks after the date of his letter. Molly, to whom the messenger handed it, left her work of training the vines on the porch and urged him to come in and rest awhile.
“No, honey” he said, “my people air on de way to see Mars Lincoln, and ef Jerry gits behin’ no one will eber look out fo’ him. It's mighty few ’lations I still has, but I want's to go along wid dem; dey know de way, an’ it's only ’cause one of yere people was once mighty good to me dat I ’commodated yere by bringin’ dese few lines.”
“It was very, very good of you to stop; do take a bit of corn bread anyhow,” and Molly ran into the house and made up a parcel of hoe cake for the old man.
“T'ank yere kin'ly, Misse, sech onexpected helps cum in mighty well. My little gran'son I'se carryin’ wid me, was wailin’ fo’ sum dis berry day. I reckon he gits tired.”
“Where are you going, uncle?” asked Molly.
“De good Lord knows, Misse, I don't; dey is jess totin’ me ’long ’cause I wouldn't stop behin’. Good evenin’, honey.”
This was now several days ago, and they heard vague rumors of an engagement that had taken place at Petersburg, but no definite news of it had yet reached their ears.
“I'll tell John about the corn,” said Molly, going out toward the barn; she saw her brother standing in the open door holding a big hen by the legs; the creature was screaming wildly.
“Molly, this hen does nothing but cluck; she never lays any eggs, I think I'll kill her.”
“Well, she would make a good stew,” responded Molly. “She is doing something more than cluck now, however.”
“I wish we could stop the hens clucking anyhow; they make such a lot of noise they'll bring the soldiers down on us all, and then no more hens.”
“Or eggs,” said Molly. “I don't see though how we can stop the clucking. We can shut the hen-house up at night and let them roost anywhere; they are not as easily found by the tramps then.”
“No, but the wild-cats and the foxes would have a jolly time.”
“John, do you know that cellar under the barn? No one would ever know it was there, especially if we put brush over the entrance. We could put perches up for the chickens and drive them in every night.”
“All right. What about the old horse? Put him in too?” asked John.
“I doubt if even the soldiers would want him.” At this instant the hen who had stopped screaming and was watching John sideways with a cocked-up head, kicked herself free from his relaxed grasp and flew through the barn door up into the nearly empty hay-mow, scattering feathers in her flight over Molly's head.
“There goes our stew.”
“Never mind, I'll shoot her when we want her, it is too hard work running her down. I wonder what we shall do for hay next winter if father is not back?” remarked John, changing the subject and a little ruefully regarding the scantily filled mow.
“I could help rake the grass if it was cut,” said Molly.
“I'll try what I can do; but its mighty hard not being able to get any help.”
“There are people a good deal worse off than we are, John. Will thee take the corn now or after dinner?”
“After dinner,” said the boy, going into the stable to feed old Dick, “think he'll carry me and the corn too?” he looked sceptically at Dick's shaky knees and lean sides; the poor animal was only fed on hay and grass now, no corn being allowed him from their scanty store.
After dinner as Molly was spinning, crossing and re-crossing the room, singing the while, Rosco Gordon ran up the porch steps and entered the large room; Molly greeted him with a smile, but did not stop her work.
“Always busy, Miss Haydock?” he said. “It makes me feel how lazy I am, to look at you.”
“Is your hay all in?” she asked. “Do sit down, you need not stand because I do, and I know you were at the hay all the morning; John said so.”
“So we were; we can hire no help and the work must be done. Is John here?”
“He has taken some corn to the mill to be ground. Mother is lying down; she does not sleep very well at night just now and takes a rest in the day.”
“When did John go?” asked Rosco.
“More than an hour ago. Why?” replied Molly, startled a little by the tone of anxiety in Rosco's question.
“Of course he must wait till the corn is ground; he could not return promptly. There is a company of soldiers about hunting recruits and he is a well-grown fellow for his age. I think I'll ride over that way, they may give him trouble; the mill is a great place for people to stop.”
“Do you really think there is any danger?” asked Molly, following the young man as he rose and went out to untie his horse.
“I scarcely can believe so, but there is no harm in going over. I did not mean to pay you so short a call,” he added smiling.
“Will you not come back again?” the girl said.
“I will certainly, and be only too glad to,” he replied, mounting his horse and urging him to a gallop.
Molly went back to her spinning wheel fearing she hardly knew what, but pacing steadily back and forth over the smooth floor as if the regular motion was a relief to her troubled thoughts. Presently the door of her mother's room opened; Frances Haydock came out and going to her husband's desk seated herself before it, making rather an anxious search through its contents.
“Molly,” she said, taking up an old pocket-book, “father kept all his money in here, did he not?”
“I think so, mother,” Molly replied.
“There are but a hundred dollars left, then,” said her mother, looking into every division of the pocket-book.
“Well, mother dearie, what do we want with
the money? There is nothing to buy, and we have food enough and clothes enough, and fuel enough in the big swamp anyhow, and lights in the pine knots if the candles give out as the oil has,” was the cheery response.
“The candles are not very plentiful now,” said her mother, “and food may become scarce. But the war must end soon. We are much favored to keep well and comfortable.”
“When this cruel war is over,” sang Molly, “Oh yes, we will do beautifully; in hot weather one doesn't want much to eat, and there are lots of ducks and squirrels in the swamp for autumn.”
“John is very good with his gun,” said Frances Haydock. “I wonder he has not returned yet. It is surely time for him to come.”
“Ducks are a legitimate use for guns,” remarked Molly, desirous to keep her mother's thoughts from John just now. “Here comes a horse, I think,” and she went to the door followed by her mother.
“There are two, Molly; oh! what is the matter, Mr. Gordon is bringing John home before him on his horse and Rosco is on the other.”
“I'm all right, mother,” shouted the cheery
voice of her son, “only Mr. Gordon would not let me walk home. Rosco has the meal.”
“Where is old Dick, John,” asked his sister, much relieved to see the boy jump lightly from the horse as Mr. Gordon stopped in front of the porch.
“The rascals seized him for a baggage-mule, and said they would knock him on the head if he was no use,” exclaimed John, clenching his hands as he looked at his mother; she turned to Mr. Gordon.
“It was lucky I was riding by, Mrs. Haydock; a company of recruiting officers were there, and having found but few men were in a bad humor. They came up just as John was coming out with the meal, and one man laid hands on the horse.”
“I told ’em he was no good for their use,” interrupted the boy.
“And that provoked them; and they said they would take the horse and boy too, he being such an able-bodied fellow,” said Mr. Gordon.
“And I said I was a Quaker and wouldn't fight,” said John.
“Oh, John, John,” exclaimed his mother.
“Why didn't thee keep quiet, John,” said Molly, a half smile on her lips.
“Of course that was the finishing touch,” continued Mr. Gordon, “and when I came up they had John tied to the horse's tail and were just preparing to move off; I was mighty glad that I had turned up just in time. I had not meant to go home that way either, but something seemed to say, ‘ride by the mill,’ and so I did. The captain knew me and looked ashamed of himself when I told him the boy was under age, and I would make trouble for him if he was taken. Rosco came galloping along at that minute and seeing two staunch Southerners they let John go; they were pretty sulky about it, however, and I did not dare interfere about the horse; they might have taken the meal if Rosco hadn't put it on his horse and walked off before they had time to notice it. So here we are, and I am very glad, Mrs. Haydock, to bring your son home safely.”
“I am indeed very thankful,” said Frances Haydock, “Our Master sent thee to the mill in time, I feel sure.”
“I will take the meal round to the kitchen door, Miss Haydock, shall I?” asked Rosco Gordon, who still sat on his horse with the meal-bag before him, “John is a little shaken by his experience.”
In truth the boy did look rather white as he sat on the porch steps. Molly went through the house and met young Gordon, at the back door.
“You see I came back as you asked me, but I am sorry not to bring the horse too.”
“It is one animal less to care for,” replied Molly, “and we shall not have to send to mill any more, for this is the last of the corn.”
“This the last? What will you do when this is gone? Oh, never mind; ‘sufficient unto the day.’ No, I will take it in. There, you've knocked the red honeysuckle out of your hair.” He stooped and picked up the full red cluster, putting it into his buttonhole.
“Now I am decorated also; that is a lovely bunch you have at your waist, and they suit your white dress beautifully.” He talked on to brighten her sad face if possible; John's imminent danger had shocked her greatly.
“Father always liked red and white,” said Molly, “Thank you very much, the meal goes in here, please,” she lit a candle to show Rosco into their now nearly empty store-closet. “How thankful I am you saved John from being taken away!”
“It was a pretty near thing. The soldiers seems to regard Quakers with a special hatred. I think I'll turn Quaker myself out of sympathy for the persecuted,” returned Rosco lightly.
“Are you in earnest?” asked Molly, holding the candle on high, as she turned and looked at him.
“The more I look at the question of war and study the Bible, the more it seems to me the only consistent Christian course,” the young man replied, soberly, “it was certainly the example Christ set and most clearly taught. Non-resistance was His principle always.”
“Oh, what if the army should claim you too!” exclaimed Molly.
“It is very odd that they have not; I feel though as if it were coming. Well, we are not there yet,” with a half sigh over what might soon be required.
“No, you seem to stay here,” broke in John's merry voice, quite himself again seemingly. “Haven't you put that meal in the barrel, yet? Molly, I don't like candle-grease in my hoe-cake.”
Molly laughed as she noticed how crookedly she was holding her candle over the barrel.
“We may have to come to it, if our lard gives out,” she said.
“We need not anticipate, though,” said John, “Rosco, Mr. Gordon wants you now to go home with him.”
We must go back a little in our story to where the Confederate army lay at Petersburg, awaiting the attack of the Federal forces. It was the day after the conversation between the colonel and Haydock. The officers thought an engagement was imminent, and might take place at any hour. The colonel was moving around among his men to make sure that everything was in readiness, and paused a moment to speak to James Haydock who sat reading in the door of his tent.
“Haydock, won't you, as a personal favor to me, carry a rifle to-day? I really can't put a man into battle unarmed.”
“ ‘The Lord will be my shield and buckler.’ ‘He that putteth his trust in Him shall never be confounded.’ I do appreciate thy interest and am grateful for it, but I cannot go back on my captain. If it is His will to protect me, He is as
able to do it in battle as elsewhere, and if He sees fit to take me home to Himself, ‘even though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.’ ” James Haydock had risen and stood with one hand on the rein of the colonel's horse looking earnestly at the rider, who looked back at him as steadily.
“Well, I do not understand it; yours is not the faith of a blind fatalist, I see that, and I should like to know the power that holds you up. If we come alive out of this day's work, I'll have another talk with you. Wasn't that a shot? I've no more time now; may your God keep you,” and turning, Colonel Preston rode hastily away; almost at the same moment two soldiers approached James Haydock, and each taking one of his arms, he was led away to the company with whom he was to share the peril of the front rank in battle.
As James Haydock stood in line awaiting the nearer approach of the blue battalions coming down the opposite hill and across the valley lying between them, thoughts crowded into his mind with intense vividness.
The lovely blue sky over them, the sunshine flooding the country, the hundreds of bright manly fellows now full of vigor, in a few minutes
to be stretched lifeless, or in agony, on the ground; why should they suffer? What would their death avail? Did they save another life by resigning their own? Could not the horrible waste of human life have been prevented by wise legislation carried into effect years ago? When a crisis is upon us the time of preparation is past; when men are angry and every passion is aroused, the moment to preach pacific measures is over, and the result is that thousands must suffer for foolish delay or blindness in forseeing the evil. And is this suffering expiatory? No, a hundred times no, it is simply and solely the inevitable result of sin. Is the pain of a burn the expiation for putting one's hand into the fire? Even a child would hardly so assert, yet we hear it constantly affirmed that the blood so abundantly shed in our civil war was in expiation for the sin of slavery! The unavoidable consequence of sin is suffering; the inevitable result of leaving the light is to walk in darkness. The crime of slavery was but working out its natural end of death and destruction, and involved in its fall many who had shaken themselves free from the evil nearly a century before. What can be more pathetic than the words of the
prophet Jeremiah as applied to our country in her deep distress. “A wonderful and a horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and my people love to have it so, and what will ye do in the end thereof?”
So absorbed was James Haydock's mind in thoughts of this kind that he was only awakened to a full sense of his surroundings when a shower of rifle-balls fell about him, and through the sudden cloud of smoke he saw that the blue-coats were coming up the hill, the answering volley from the Confederates failing to check the onward rush. The man on his right hand loaded his revolver after this first fire, and his eyes gleamed fiercely at the foe, the one on his left hand had fallen and entered the next world with a curse on his lips. As Colonel Preston rode rapidly along the ranks, cheering his men on, his eye fell on James Haydock standing quietly with his hands loosely clasped behind him, looking out into the confusion.
“Haydock, for God's sake, go to the rear. I can't see a man standing that way; it is down right murder.”
“In faith it is all murder,” muttered a smooth
faced lad as a shot struck him and he fell at the colonel's feet. “I wonder how mother will get along without me,” was the faint whisper that James Haydock caught as he bent a moment over the young face so suddenly grown gray and rigid.
“He's gone. Go to the rear, I tell you; I command you.”
Silently James Haydock turned to obey orders when a fresh and still closer hail of shots staggered him for an instant; almost blinded by the smoke, he could yet see that the colonel had fallen from his horse, and lay motionless, while the animal fled wildly over the field. Without a minute's hesitation, James Haydock lifted the rather slight form, and carrying it in his arms, walked quietly along the line and back to the tents in the rear.
“I thought you said that man was a coward,” said a soldier to his comrade; “that don't look much like it.”
“Coward or hero, sinner or saint, I don't know; but I wish I felt as calm as he looked. Look out, here they come, now for a close fight and may the Lord have mercy on our souls.”
“Divil a bit the Lord is in this sort of work;
it ain't His kind. We'll drive ’em back though, if we can.”
And driven back they were; it was not that day, nor the next, that Petersburg fell into the hands of the Northern army. There was to be a greater horror before the end was reached. A horror of exploded mines, earth and stones flung upward, with a shower of mangled bodies falling again from the height to which so many human forms had been blown. Well earned was the name of Fort Hell, still clinging to the place. Weeks after the fight occurred, the writer, in walking over the ground shuddered to behold here and there a skeleton hand sticking out from the earth, telling its pitiful story; while every few steps a skull would gleam up through the clay, with the hair on it blowing in the soft summer wind.
There was no sleep for James Haydock that night. The Northerners acknowledging their defeat, retired to their camps toward dusk; the sun shone redly through the smoke lingering over the battle-field, and soon dropped behind the quiet hills, while the damp mists rose, and, mingling with the smoke wreaths, made the air thick and
heavy. As James Haydock moved from tent to tent doing what he could to relieve the sufferers, he met the chaplain, who stopped a moment, regarded him curiously and then said:
“ ‘Is thy God whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?’ ” and James Haydock adopting the further language from Daniel of old, responded in like manner:
“ ‘My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me.” The chaplain spoke again, half to himself:
“ ‘Then was the king exceeding glad for him;’ ” then in a more practical tone asked:
“Have you seen the colonel within an hour or so?”
“No; the doctors were with him when I came away, and I have been doing what I could for others. I fear he is seriously wounded.”
“Have you looked at the dead?” was the chaplain's next question.
“Would you mind then, going into the long tent, and seeing if there are any little things about them you can send home to the families? Anything is such a comfort.”
The hush that prevailed under the long white canvas canopy was very solemn, and contrasted strangely with the moans to which James Haydock had been listening when helping with the wounded. Here all pain was over; peacefully lay the still forms on the bare boards that did not look uncomfortable as the entire repose of the faces was noted. No emaciation from illness, no sign even of suffering is found as a rule on the faces of those who make sudden exit from this world. A few attendants were gently going among the bodies, trying to find the address of distant relations to whom would soon come the heavy tidings, “Killed at Petersburg.” Sometimes a photograph in a letter would be found, sometimes a pocket testament with the name of the giver in it, and from the breast pocket of one young man, James Haydock took a letter containing a dark brown lock of hair tied with a tiny silken curl of gold. The simple inscription, “Baby's hair,” brought the tears to James Haydock's eyes as he replaced the envelope over the heart that could no longer beat for wife or child.
Till day dawned, James Haydock continued, with many others, to do what he could to alleviate
the misery always following a battle, and as the eastern sky began to lighten he went to snatch a few minutes rest in his tent. From this he was presently aroused by a hand on his shoulder and looking up he saw the chaplain standing before him, looking tired and sad.
“Colonel Preston wants you,” he said, “I don't seem able to satisfy him,” he added with a melancholy little smile. James Haydock rose at once.
“Is he very ill?”
“The doctors give him only twenty-four hours, I believe; but I hope it is not that bad. Here, take this coffee before you go,” and the chaplain took a cup from a passing negro boy who had been carrying the refreshing beverage to many a thirsty soul through the night.
“Thanks; now I will go.” A very few steps brought him to Colonel Preston's tent; the wounded man was lying quietly on his mattress, with eyes wide open, seemingly fixed on nothing; but a look of recognition came into them as James Haydock entered the doorway, pausing a minute on the threshold.
“Come in, and sit down, no ceremony is
needed now. I do not think I thanked you for carrying me off the field yesterday.”
“No thanks were necessary, surely; it was the only thing to do,” and James Haydock sat down on a camp stool beside the bed.
“You had no rifle or sword to impede your steps, either,” said Colonel Preston smiling rather grimly, “I am glad I had ordered you to the rear, it was lucky for me I did. You would not have gone without, would you?”
“Probably not, but do not talk of it now. Is there anything I can do for thee?”
“Yes, there may be, I don't know; no one so far has given me satisfaction on these questions that will rise in my mind,” then suddenly, “How do you know there is a future state? I have half believed in a God, sometimes I think I do, but nature has always been the God I have really worshipped; she has been my guide.”
James Haydock made no motion of surprise, waiting quietly till the short, rather hurried sentences had stopped; meanwhile the chaplain had glided in, seemingly unnoticed, and taken a seat behind the colonel.
“Is thee suffering? Will talking hurt thee?” was James Haydock's first question.
“No, no, I'm not in pain, the trouble is something internal, they say, I don't know how they know; but go on, talk, and leave off your confounded ‘thees’ and ‘thous,’ will you? I don't get the sense clear. I beg pardon; I don't mean to hurt you,” he added, controlling the irritation caused by weakness.
“You don't hurt me,” replied James Haydock, gravely. To him the “plain language” was not a matter of vital importance. Coming directly to the point, he said, “You speak of nature as a guide.”
“Yes, she is infallible; and she seems to teach that we die and return to the earth as do the animals. I have studied her a good deal and it seems to me I have interpreted correctly.”
“I have studied nature also; and it is curious how, having been educated by the same teacher, we have arrived at different conclusions. Either one of us has not understood her teachings, or she has deceived us,” said James Haydock, following the colonel's line of thought.
“No,” replied the colonel, “nature does not deceive, whatever else may.”
“Then,” said James Haydock, “the mistake
is in one of us. May I compare my views with yours? I take it you only seek the truth?”
“That is all; go ahead, I like to hear you talk,” he put one hand under his cheek and lay looking at his companion with bright, seeking eyes. This was not the usual manner of death-bed talk, and the speaker attracted him.
“Have you ever known in your experience a creature whose nature was opposed to its appetite?” The colonel thought a few minutes and then said.
“No, such a creature cannot exist. With a carnivorous stomach and an herbivorous appetite the creature would soon starve.”
“Can you think of any exception to this law?”
“No; none certainly in the animal world; of course education in a few instances might almost change nature, but the rule holds the same.”
“You think you are going to die?” was the next seemingly irrelevant question.
“I suppose so,” and a pained look passed over the expressive face for an instant only.
“You think death terminates your existence?”
“Yes, I can't really see anything else?”
“Now answer me, have you not an appetite for something you have not yet gotten?”
“Yes, I want to live.”
“How long do you want to live?”
“You have me there, how can I possibly tell you?”
“If you lived till the world were destroyed, supposing that ever takes place, would your desire for life be satisfied?”
“Would it ever be satisfied? Does nature then give you a longing that can never be satisfied? Would even a God be a just God who implanted an appetite for something that was never to be satisfied?”
“No; I do not think I ever saw the thing in that light before. Have I been mistaken?”
“Would this satisfy you, ‘I am the living bread that came down from Heaven; if a man eat of this bread he shall live for ever and ever.’ ”
“That would satisfy, if you believed it.”
“Is it not a logical deduction that the longing for more than we shall find in this world should be provided for? Does not the very fact that the longing exists prove that there is something to
satisfy it? Will you not accept God and believe in the redeeming power of Christ, ‘who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree?’ ”
“What is the rest of that?” asked the colonel, his face softening more and more as the words spoken grew clear in the approaching light of the next world.
“ ‘That we being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness—by whose stripes ye are healed,’ ” then quoting a foregoing verse, half to himself, James Haydock added, “ ‘Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him who judgeth righteously.’ ”
“Who judgeth righteously,” repeated Colonel Preston, “Where should I be if I were judged according to my deeds? Yet I have lived as other men.”
“ ‘We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ ‘If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father.’ ‘And He laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’ ”
“Haydock, as the end draws near, one must believe there is something more. This life cannot go out here; there is too much in us, and the looking
for a future is inevitable; there must be something beyond; now how do we attain to it?”
“ ‘There is none other name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved,’ ” answered James Haydock.
“And that means Christ? Say that text about Him again.”
“ ‘Who His own self bare our sins, in His own body on the tree,’ ” slowly repeated James Haydock, with an earnest silent prayer that the truth might go home to the anxious listener; in a low voice he continued the simple quotations from Scripture.
“ ‘Without the shedding of blood there is no remission.’ ‘If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.’ ‘Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God.’ ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ ” The voice ceased. Colonel Preston covered his eyes with his hand as he listened, not to man's arguments, but to the simple words from the Bible. In the silence that followed the
cessation of the speaker's voice, he removed his hand and quietly said: “I do believe in God, and that Jesus Christ is His Son.”
“ ‘He that believeth hath everlasting life,’ and ‘he that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself,’ ” said James Haydock, thankfully watching the dawning of light.
“That is surely true, and I think the witness is speaking in me,” said the colonel. “Thank God you ever came to camp, Mr. Haydock; nothing ever impressed me as your absolute faith has done; it gave me confidence in you and showed a power somewhere that I did not understand. It was worth all the preaching in the world, and now you have given me rest; the doubt is gone. God has been wonderfully good to me.” He stopped speaking and lay quietly looking away through the tent door to the distant hills; there was no particular evidence of emotion in his acceptance of the truth, but a great peace overspread his face, showing the reality of the change. At this moment the doctor came in and walking up to the bedside of the wounded man, laid his hand on his pulse; the colonel looked at him inquiringly.
“Am I any better, doctor? I don't suffer.”
“No, you may not suffer at all, but you are no better.”
The doctor was a blunt, though a kindhearted man; feeling strongly he often concealed the feeling under an off-hand manner; he stood a few minutes looking down at the colonel, who presently looked up and smiled.
“Are you all right?” suddenly asked the doctor.
“Aye, all right,” was the quick response, “two bours ago I was not all right, but God sent this man, I truly believe, to me, and through him light has broken into my heart at last; I never dreamed of seeing so clearly. I can die now, though I would like to live to tell others what has been told me.”
“I thought you looked differently from when I saw you this morning. The change was pretty quick.” The doctor spoke a trifle doubtfully.
“You think it is a death-bed conversion? No wonder. I don't know how to tell you the reality of it. I never can, but what I can tell you is, it does not take a man long to grasp a good thing when he sees it plainly, and God helped me to see it.” The eager voice failed somewhat, as he finished his sentence
“You must stop talking and rest; have you had anything to eat?” The doctor's eye wandered round the tent in search of some one, and he looked a little surprised as the chaplain rose from his dark corner and came forward.
“I will get Colonel Preston what he needs,” he said going out of the tent.
“I'm afraid I was rough with him this morning,” the colonel said, his eyes following him, “I must tell him so.”
“Very well; don't talk too much though, you are not able for it.”
“I want to talk while I can.”
“Your face talks for you,” the doctor said shortly, “I'll come in again by and by,” and he left to go to others who needed his attention more than the colonel. For him he knew there was no more to be done.
All day long James Haydock stayed by his colonel, to whom, in common with most of the regiment, he felt a strong attachment. Toward the close of the afternoon Colonel Preston fell into a quiet sleep, and the Chaplain persuaded James Haydock to go and lie down in his own tent.
“It is close by, I will call you when he wakes,
and you must be very weary.” Thus urged, James Haydock consented to leave the sick bed, for indeed he was nearly exhausted. In about two hours a touch on his arm aroused him.
“Will you come?” were the only words the chaplain said, and he followed silently to the colonel's tent; a slight smile crossed the face of Colonel Preston as James Haydock sat down beside him, it went almost as quickly as it had come and left a gravity that had a tinge of questioning in it.
“The valley of death is not far away,” he said, speaking with an effort.
“It is but the valley of the shadow of death. To one who sees the light of Christ shining through, it can be only a shadow; nothing to be afraid of”
“I am not afraid; the light is clear, but the passing seems strange,” and then James Haydock told him, speaking slowly to the failing senses, the story of the Alpine guide, who, in crossing a dangerous peak, slipped upon the glittering snow and fell down into a precipitous ravine; clipping and sliding over the smooth ice, he was still alive when he reached the bottom, but how hopeless his
situation; only the eternal snows stretched silently above and the blue sky looking pitilessly down upon him. A little rivulet rippled and sang sweetly beside him along the ravine, his only chance of escape lay in following it; so he followed on and on till all at once a blank wall of cruel ice rose before him at whose base the stream sank, seemingly, into a whirlpool and vanished. Was all hope gone? A pause, and then with a prayer to God he sprang into the water and struggled along through a cavern to emerge in a moment on a green meadow covered with the most beautiful Alpine flowers. Like death, it was but a passage to a brighter world. Colonel Preston listened, but his face seemed to ask for something more, and in the waning light, James Haydock repeated the words:
“ ‘This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith;’ ” and again, “ ‘He that believeth on me shall not perish, but shall have everlasting life.’ ”
Low and clearly fell the sentences from the speaker's lips, telling of the certainty of everlasting life; the spirit passing looked out calmly and expectantly from the deep and earnest eyes that
suddenly brightened, and as suddenly failed and grew dark. He was gone.
The chaplain who had been standing near the head of the cot, stooped forward and closed the lids, when he saw that all was over.
“Through death unto life,” he said, as James Haydock having risen, both men stood together beside the dead. Straightening the limbs lovingly, they turned to leave the tent, the chaplain to see about rendering the last necessary services to his colonel, James Haydock to return to his place, feeling as though his assistance was no longer needful. The chaplain stopped him.
“Mr. Haydock, I cannot leave you to-night without telling you how deeply grateful I am for the lessons you have taught me to-day. I shall never forget what you have said, and shall go on my way to fulfil my duties to others, I hope more earnestly and believingly than I have ever done before.”
“The words which I have spoken were not mine. May the Lord bless them to you—‘now the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace always by all means,’ ” was James Haydock's parting salutation as he turned away after a warm hand-clasp
from the chaplain. Lights were still moving about in some of the tents, but his own was dark as he entered it and a deep depression came over him as he leaned against the post supporting the canvas. Colonel Preston had been a friend to him and he felt the loss; he had heard nothing from home; how were all his dear ones, and would he ever see them again? What would be his fate in the next battle? Would he still be protected? Then the words concerning Daniel which he had spoken to the chaplain in the morning rose to comfort him and as if in confirmation of the thought, again came faintly through the darkness, the distant singing from the negroes’ tent:“My Lord delivered Daniel,Why can't He deliver me?”
The summer wore away with its long days of intense heat. The autumn of the last year of the war brought its beauty of yellow leaves, purple asters, and scarlet and orange berries to a land that groaned under the burden of desolated homesteads and ruined fields.
Supplies of all kinds were growing scarcer; roasted peas had taken the place of coffee, sassafras leaves were used for tea; sugar, except a little made from home grown sorghum, was hard to obtain, and sold at preposterously high prices. Few indeed of the inhabitants of the South had any money to buy with, though cornmeal was still an obtainable commodity, and potatoes were to be had in some places.
Frances Haydock had availed herself of an opportunity of purchasing a large supply of cornmeal from a neighbor moving away from the vicinity and therefore they were out of reach of absolute
want, and the two heifers fortunately still remained unimpressed by the army; they had been brought from their distant pasture to a nearer one and were housed at night as the cooler autumn drew on, in an unsuspicious looking little building behind the house. The barn was too often searched by passing foragers to be a safe shelter for the precious animals. Letters came infrequently and by uncertain carriers, from James Haydock, telling his anxious friends of his circumstances. So far he had been preserved in safety, and had even undergone no especial suffering, though he was subjected to many privations. He was often able to do a kind deed for his fellow soldiers, and was continually manifesting by word and action the faith that was in him.
Mr. Gordon had been a kind friend to the Haydocks during the husband's absence. Mrs. Gordon, for many years an invalid, was failing more and more as the straightened condition of their circumstances told upon her, and Mr. Gordon was thus much needed at home. His son, however, often rode over to the Haydock farm and assisted in whatever way he could, the household in which he had a particular interest.
Probably it was owing to the fact that old Mr. Gordon was known to be a staunch Southerner, and disabled in the service, that his son Rosco had been permitted to remain at home. Since the conflict between North and South began, the young man had pondered long and earnestly over the position held by Friends, regarding war, and had come to the conclusion that it was the only one consistent with the Bible teachings. Well aware that his father would differ on this point, he had not spoken at home of his convictions, but he knew in his heart that should he be drafted into the army, he must refuse to carry arms, even in allegiance to his beloved South. He knew that wars must come; it was foretold in the Bible that as long as the world lasted in its present condition, there would be destructive conflicts. But he also saw clearly that many evils were prophesied in the same manner, and that the fact of their being inevitable did not make them right. He believed it was most distinctly the duty of every child of God to free himself from the sin of bloodshed, and to do all in his power to induce others to view the teachings of Christ in this same light. Many Friends had been taken from their homes in the
neighborhood where the Haydocks and Gordons dwelt, and had gone unresistingly, though remaining firm in their refusal to bear arms. Their families had been left to toil on as best they might, their horses and cows had been taken for army use, and all means of travel being thus gone, communication between neighbors became rarer, and households were more isolated.
Molly often felt very lonely, and the bright presence of Rosco Gordon was most welcome, whenever he entered their quiet dwelling. One morning in late October, carrying a half-filled bag of pine cones over his shoulder, John came running up the avenue whose fine old trees were beginning to have rather a neglected look; straggling bushes were creeping in among them, and a dead bough here and there betokened the absence of a master's hand.
“Oh, mother!” John cried breathlessly, “there are two companies of Northern soldiers coming up the road, and they saw I turned in here, and they say they must have something to eat, and hay for their horses; see, there are the first of them now just coming up the lane,” his rapid speech was full of excitement; “Molly, the heifers—”
“Are out at pasture; but if these men take a quantity of hay, what shall we do this winter?”
“Trust in the Lord, daughter dear,” said her mother, whose quietness often calmed Molly, just as Molly's energy frequently sustained her mother's sinking heart.
Two squads of cavalry rode up before anything more could be said and dismounting in the front yard, tied their horses in rows to the surrounding fence and forming into line seemingly from force of habit, approached the house.
“Will you please give us what you have at hand to eat?” was the courteous demand of the captain, as he entered the living room without waiting for an invitation.
“Certainly,” was Frances Haydock's willing reply. These were Union men, and therefore friends even if soldiers. “I suppose thy men will be content with what we have? It is only hoecakes and coffee.”
“Not real coffee at that, I fancy,” said the captain with a smile. “Yes, ma'am, we will only take what we can get; but please be quick about it.”
“Molly promptly set before them what food
they had ready, and fresh coffee was soon boiling on the stove. Forty men were not easily satisfied, and Molly's pans of freshly baked corn-bread disappeared like leaves before the wind. Those whose appetites were first appeased went to the barn and returned with armsful of hay for the weary horses that stood at the fence with drooping heads. The heavy saddles were loosened and the dangling stirrups clinked as the hard ridden steeds shifted their position from one tired leg to the other. The soldiers threw themselves down in the sandy yard under the shade of the live oaks and smoked leisurely as the horses ate their rather dry provender. Some of the men lounged on the porch steps and watched the smoke from their pipes curl up among the Banksia roses and red honeysuckle. The quiet premises seemed turned into a camp. The captain had made some attempt to open a conversation with Molly, addressing her in a polite manner enough, but the girl feeling ill at ease had cut him short, and disappeared into the kitchen with a pile of plates in her hands, leaving her mother to keep up the conversation. Frances Haydock supplied him with what he needed, and at last addressed him with the question,
“Do they consider at the North that the war is likely to continue long?”
“No, ma'am,” the soldier spoke decidedly, “we think this winter will end it; the South cannot hold out much longer, her supplies are pretty much gone, and that is what will make ’em give in. They've made a plucky stand, but without money, men, or food, so to speak, they must collapse sooner or later.”
“I shall be most thankful when it is over,” said Frances Haydock.
“No doubt ma'am; you've felt it a deal more here than the Northerners do. Why most of the houses we have been in round here had no carpets; cut ’em all up for army blankets, and such food as we've had to put up with through this country! Are you a Southerner, ma'am?”
“I was born in the South. I believe, however, in supporting the Union, but not by war.”
“I don't see any other way of supporting it, ma'am, just now,” he replied, “when you're in a sinking ship, you catch the first plank that turns up; do the best you can.”
“Better have strengthened the ship by removing unsound wood before the peril was upon us,”
Frances Haydock replied smiling. The straight-forward manner of the man interested her, in spite of his rather arrogant air.
“Yes, ma'am, I agree with you; anyone who has really seen war does not hanker after it. We must be moving now, thank you for the dinner, and good-by; hope to see you sometime in better condition,” and bowing, he went out to get his men together for their further march.
“I hope we shall not see him at all,” remarked Molly to her mother, “they have taken nearly all the hay.” Through the open door they watched the departure of the blue-coated soldiers, soon the last figure had vanished and no trace of them remained except the trampled sand and scattered wisps of hay.
“Mother, there is nothing for supper, is there?” asked John, later, coming in from the shed where he had been cutting wood to supply the fire.
“Molly and I will soon bake some more pone bread, if thee gets us some eggs,” said his mother cheerily “We must not grudge the food to the Union men,” pushing the hair away from her forehead and preparing for work. Molly noticed the rather weary gesture and said,
“Sit down, mother, John and I will soon have things in order.”
“Yes, I'll do it all,” said the boy, suddenly remorseful for having found any fault with anything. “I suppose I should be glad to feed them, but I can't abide any of them, they think they can order you all about.”
“Well, so they can. Now let us see if we can find any eggs. Mother dear, sit down awhile. There, chicks, they did not get you, anyhow, did they?” said Molly, gently driving out three half-grown hens that were poking their heads about under the kitchen table, their feet rattling on the bare floor.
“Give them that last bit of corn-bread, Molly,” said John, and then they walked to the barn together.
“Pah, how the barn smells of bad tobacco,” remarked John as they stood on the littered floor.
“It is fortunate that they did not set anything on fire,” returned Molly as they gathered together the hay lying about and tossed it back into a manger.
“Molly, the evenings are getting very cool,” said John as they went back to the house with a
very few eggs. “I must get in a good supply of cones. Give me the pail now and I'll go and milk the cows,” and John departed, whistling as he went. His troubles, though keenly felt at the time, did not long depress his merry nature.
“Mother, how pale thee looks; does thy head ache badly?” questioned Molly, as she entered the living room where her mother was resting in the big chair, “won't thee go and lie down? I have made a little fresh hoecake and it is now baking.”
“My head does ache very much this evening, dear,” her mother answered, in a rather faint voice.
“I will make thee a cup of our good tea and then put thee to bed,” said Molly, “The soldiers have tired thee.”
“Molly, he thought the war must be nearly over,” said her mother, as the girl took a little from their store of real tea, now treasured for very extra occasions, and proceeded quickly to make a cup of the refreshing beverage.
“Yes, we shall soon have father back again. Now does not this tea smell good?”
“Very, my daughter,” but Molly was frightened to see a tear roll down her mother's white
cheek; the long strain was wearing Frances Haydock more than she knew.
“Thank thee; now I will go to my room,” she said, and Molly assisted her mother to undress and lay her aching head down to rest.
John soon came in and seeing Molly's depressed look, lit the fire, talking brightly all the while, heaping on fuel till the flames leaped gayly up the chimney, and the melting turpentine on the cones dropped into the blaze, sending a resinous odor through the room.
“Molly, come have some supper, do, I'm hungry,” and Molly came to the table whereon John had set the hoecake and milk.
“I'm going to boil two eggs, right here on the coals, I think our hens are really splendid to lay so many,” and John set a little saucepan on some pine cones which, being an unsubstantial foundation, presently upset the utensil with its contents on to the wide hearth.
“The eggs are done anyhow,” said John, “now eat them both, Molly,” but she made him take one, and then went to see if her mother was sleeping; as she entered the chamber, Frances Haydock moved restlessly and opened her eyes.
“Molly, give me some of that anodyne please, I cannot get to sleep.” Molly administered the narcotic and then sat beside her mother till her face grew calm and she fell quietly asleep. As the girl came from the chamber, closing the door gently, John rolled over from his favorite resting-place before the fire.
“Molly, I'm going to bed; I want to get up early to-morrow and do a big day's work with the cones, so good-night.”
“Good-night, dear,” and the maiden was left alone in the large room into whose shady corners the firelight threw only a fitful illumination. Before long a familiar step sounded on the porch, breaking in on her sad musings, and the light knock was almost simultaneous with the opening of the door to Rosco Gordon.
“I am so glad to see you to-night,” was Molly's greeting as she came forward, putting away her sorrowful meditations.
“And I to come,” replied the young man, sitting down on a low stool and leaning back against one of the jambs of the high mantle-piece.
“How is Mrs. Haydock to-night?” he asked looking up at her.
“Oh, so tired,” said Molly, sitting down again in the deep, high-backed rocking chair. She told him of all that had happened that day, of their numerous visitors, and the inroad made upon the winter's stock of hay.
“It is only the result of a state of war and cannot be avoided,” he remarked. “I am glad you were not annoyed by any rougher behavior. It is a lonely position for you all, Miss Molly. I wish I was able to protect you.”
The color heightened a little on Molly's cheek, for there was a longing in Rosco Gordon's tone that made his remark almost personal.
“I am glad you are as near neighbors as you are,” she said, “we should feel desolate indeed without you.”
“Have I told you that I have come to hold your father's belief about war?” said the young man, breaking the pause following Molly's last remark. He glanced at her, his hazel eyes shining in the firelight.
“No, have you?” she said, “Oh, Mr. Gordon, it may bring a heavy burden on you; are you able to bear it?”
“I think I am. After all, nothing prompted
by love for a dear Master can be counted a burden.” He turned from her, looking thoughtfully into the fire.
“Speaking of burdens,” he said, “did you ever hear the little German legend of the birds and their wings?”
“Please tell it to me,” said Molly; and he told her how the fable ran that when the birds were created they were made with soft and gorgeous plumage, but without wings; then as they hopped about lightly on the grass, the Creator made a number of wings and laid them before the birds, telling them to take up these burdens He had given, and bear them for Him. Each little bird lifted two wings, content to carry the load the Master gave; soon however the wings grew fast on the shoulders, and that which had seemed but an incumbrance raised and bore the bird upward toward a freer heaven. “And now I must go,” said Rosco, rising as he ended his legend, while Molly looked up at him, her eyes tender with the beauty of the story he had told her. “I had a summons to-day to join the army, and must leave to-morrow evening, I suppose,” he spoke abruptly.
“Oh, must you go, too?” exclaimed Molly,
clasping her hands in distress, “what will come next?”
“Do you care much?” he asked.
“Of course I care,” she said, “we all care,” she added, looking not at him, but into the glowing mass of coals.
“Is it selfish to be glad that you do care?” said he. “I think I shall come back again and then—” He left the sentence unfinished and silently shaking hands turned toward the door; she followed and they stood on the porch together.
“I will not say good-by now; I will see you in the morning.”
“It is not good-by,” she replied in a low voice.
“No, it is not; God willing,” he answered and lifting his hat, he mounted his horse and was quickly lost in the obscurity of the avenue. Molly stood listening to the hoof-beats dying away in the distance; an owl, looking unnaturally big in the faint light of the young moon, floated noiselessly from the roof over her head and lighted on the large live-oak at the corner of the house; she could see it standing amid the tiny green fern that clothed the trunk of the tree far up to the branches;
the gray moss hung motionless from the spreading boughs. She felt unutterably lonely, her father gone and Rosco going; she would not acknowledge to herself that the last would be the greater loss. As she stood absorbed in sad thoughts, a sudden light round the corner of the house startled her and she ran down the steps to see whence it came; hastening to the side of the yard she saw the barn was in a blaze of fire, the flames seeming to have gained hopeless headway. What should she do? There was absolutely nothing to do. The building must have been burning on the inside for some time. Fortunately a scarcely perceptible breeze carried the sparks away from the house. Should she rouse her mother? She could do nothing and was sleeping away her weary headache; Molly did not want to wake her, and John slept the profound sleep of boyhood in the dark loft on the other side of the house. Molly shivered with nervous excitement as she leaned on the fence watching with fascinated eyes the burning hay whirled aloft in the current of air created by the flames. The owl, alarmed by the light, with a low uneven cry left the tree it was sitting on and winged its way into a denser shade.
“The house is not in danger,” was her one thought; presently she heard a horse come galloping up the avenue and knew that Rosco Gordon had seen the light and returned. Her figure was clearly visible in the intense glare and Gordon was quickly beside her; together they watched the blazing building.
“The soldiers probably dropped some coals from their pipes there this morning,” was his first remark. “It must have been smouldering a long time.”
“I suppose so,” Molly's voice trembled and she said no more.
“Miss Haydock, won't you go into the house? You ought not to stand here in the night air,” said Rosco anxiously, seeing how she shivered.
“It is not that,” she replied, her lips hardly forming the words, “but everything seems to come together.” He drew her hand within his arm and gradually her tremor passed away as they silently gazed at the hopeless destruction of the old barn. The framework shone like bars of red-hot iron against the white light within as the billows of flame rolled up amid the heavy smoke.
“I saw the light almost as soon as I passed
beyond the oaks. I am only thankful your house is not in danger.”
“Indeed, yes,” said Molly, speaking more like herself again. “Ah, see, there goes the last of the rafters!” and in truth, beam after beam fell in, and in less time than one could imagine, the building had been consumed and nothing but a dull glow showed where the old barn that Molly had loved to ramble over when a child, had stood.
“It is gone,” she said, making a motion to withdraw her hand, but Rosco still kept it on his arm as he led her to the house.
“I will go and see that nothing else is likely to take fire, and come and tell you,” he said, as he opened the door for her to enter.
“Thank you,” she replied, simply, going toward the fireplace where the embers still shone in red rifts out through the white crust forming above them.
“It is all right,” said Rosco cheerily, returning in a few minutes from his tour of inspection, “the wood-pile is too far off to catch, and everything else is burned. I'm thankful you and the house are left.” Molly did not answer, and after looking at the girl's drooping figure a moment he
went to her side and put his arm round her waist, she did not move away from him.
“Molly, I had not meant to speak before I went, but I cannot help it—.” What else was said only the old clock heard, as it ticked solemnly on, for the words were spoken very low in Molly's ear. All we know is that half an hour afterward the light and color had returned to her face, and she sang a bit of an old song as she banked up the fire after Rosco Gordon left for the second time that night.CHAPTER XIV. WELDON JAIL.
Early the next morning Rosco Gordon rode over to Frances Haydock's to say good-by; he supposed the soldiers might come for him any time during the day and wanted to make sure of an uninterrupted hour with Molly before the home partings were gone through. Frances Haydock did not seem to be as much disturbed over the loss of the barn as her daughter had feared. When a great anxiety fills one's life, smaller things make no impression, and having been spared the actual sight of the burning, she simply accepted the occurrence as inevitable, and not to be thought of again. Grief over the conscription of Rosco Gordon predominated in her mind over any loss of property.
“If thee should see my husband, Rosco,” she said, holding in her own the hand of the young friend who had grown so near to them in the past troubled months, “ask him, if possible, to make
his way North. There is surely no obligation on him to remain with troops bent on destroying the Union to which he is so loyal, and I should feel truly thankful if I knew he were with our children in the Northern States.”
“I will tell him if I see him, dear Mrs. Haydock, but the chances are scarcely one in a hundred.”
“I know,” she said sadly, “but it might happen.”
“I hope it will,” he replied, “and now I must go. Good-by,” and he raised the still fair hand of the Quakeress to his lips, lovingly, as a son might do. It was an unusual salute for one of these undemonstrative people to receive, and it rather disturbed Frances Haydock's calm demeanor.
“Farewell,” she said, “and may the Master keep thee as in the hollow of His hand,” The young man turned to Molly: “Will you walk down the lane with me a little way, Miss Haydock?” he asked.
She assented by taking up her hat, and with a hearty “Good-by, old fellow, take good care of them all,” to John, the youth and maiden walked slowly along the winding avenue through whose
thinning foliage the autumn sun shot many a faint ray. John looked after them.
“Take good care of you, indeed,” he said indignantly, “does he think I won't do that anyhow? I care a heap more for you all than he does, I reckon; don't I, mother?” receiving no answer he looked at his mother and gaining a new intelligence from a rather surprised, yet comprehending expression on her countenance, he ejaculated with enlightened understanding:
“Oh, that's the matter, is it? Maybe he does care more for Molly than I do after all. I'll forgive him if that's the case, for he really will make a jolly brother-in-law. That's why he was so extra affectionate to thee, wasn't it. I wouldn't kiss people by proxy, though;” then another ray of light striking across his inexperienced mind, he suddenly sat down in the box containing the pine cones, and remarked:
“Molly didn't seem to object to walking down the road with him, so may be all the kissing won't be done by proxy after all.” His mother could not help laughing at the boy's comical astonishment, and yet the affair had taken her by surprise also; not that it need have done so, she
thought, as she looked back over their years of intercourse, and increased intimacy in these latter months. She loved Rosco with a warm affection and could not regret the turn matters had taken.
“And yet, oh, that the child may not have to suffer,” was her thought, the terrible condition of the country being ever present to her mind. Molly soon returned looking brighter than might have been expected after the parting, but hope is strong in young breasts and Rosco was sure he would be back before very long. We may give thanks for the blessing of hope; even if unfulfilled, how many weary hours does it carry us through. John observed his sister critically as she ran up the porch steps.
“Molly, thee should not walk so fast, thy cheeks are very red, and thy hair is quite ravelled out,” was his grave comment.
“What do boys know about ravellings? The wind blew my hair all about,” was her answer.
“There isn't any wind,” he replied, “and where is thy hat?” Molly turned and looked at him,
“Thee will get turpentine on thy pantaloons if thee sits on those cones, and I don't want to
clean them,” returned his sister laughing as she went into the house.
“Where is that hat?” shouted the boy after her.
“Bless me, where is it?” Molly felt for it at her neck where it often hung by the strings, but it was not there, neither did it seem to be on the porch.
“Shall I look for it at the end of the avenue?” provokingly whispered her brother over her shoulder, as he followed her into the kitchen.
“No, I will get it myself,” she said, suddenly catching his curls in both hands and shaking him till he cried for mercy—
“Enough, enough, oh, let me go, I will never say another word, and will be just as fond of Ros. Gordon as possible. Where has she gone now? I thought that would please her,” he exclaimed in an injured tone, for Molly had fled into her own room and left him alone.
“Well, girls are certainly curious,” he remarked to himself as he went into the back shed to inspect a squirrel he had lately picked up in the swamp. It had fallen and broken its leg, and, although John had shot many of these little
animals for food, when an injured one came into his hands he could not help bringing it home to cure and tame it, both of which processes it seemed to appreciate fully.
In following the fortunes of Rosco Gordon we will not go into any more detail than that sufficient to make our readers understand the feeling which animated these earnest supporters of the Christian spirit of love and peace; a spirit too long ignored by the churches professing to uphold the principles of Christ in every respect. Now that the most learned Bishop of the Established Church in England has taken up the standard of Peace, those ministers of the Gospel who laugh at “Quaker doctrine” may well look into their own hearts and see what they are doing to prepare men for the reign of the Prince of Peace. What we would like to show in this story of the civil war, is that those who walked in the light of Christ's teachings willingly suffered for their principles, and were not mistaken in their trust.
Rosco Gordon was sent first to Raleigh, and from thence to Weldon, where he was summoned at once to drill, with a warning of his liability to be
shot if he declined to obey orders. He steadily refused to bear arms, and was in consequence placed in close confinement in a room with three other men whom he found to be prisoners of war, captured some months before and daily hoping for an exchange that would send them back to their homes.
It did not take Rosco very long to make acquaintance with his new companions.
“May I ask what you are here for?” said one of the three men, a young officer, to him soon after Rosco had been placed among them. “You are a Southerner, I think?”
“I am a Southerner, and a Christian; and believing from the bottom of my heart that Christians should not fight, I am here for disobedience to the order to bear arms.” The officer looked at him curiously, pausing in his slow walk up and down the room.
“Why do you think Christians should not fight?” he asked, “I am from Boston and have seen a good many people, but I never met any one before who held those views.”
Gordon smiled at the unconscious assumption, and replied,
“I think there are those who hold these views even in Boston.”
“What do you ground them on? Will you tell me, if you do not mind?” He stopped his steady promenade and sat down on the bed beside Gordon. “Some of the rest of you gentlemen can take a turn now, we can't all walk at once, and yet we do need exercise in this cramped hole.”
“Thank you, Warren; don't put your long legs out too far then, you're not on the Harvard campus; I don't want to fall over you, and a fellow can't get around much in this sized apartment,” replied a tall fair-haired man, getting up promptly and beginning a regular tramp, tramp, over the bare floor. “I was raised in the west, and these accomodations seem rather limited.”
“Are the houses in the west bigger than anywhere else, Logan?” asked a little black-eyed fellow stretched on an adjoining bed, for chairs were scarce in these quarters.
“Judging from the size of this, I should say they were. Oh, I'd like to have a look at our old home again.”
“Don't stretch your arms out that way, Logan; you will lift the roof off.”
“I wish I could! Anything to get out of this weary, weary confinement.”
“Don't think about it,” said Lieutenant Warren. “Talk of something else, Mr. Gordon—I think you said that was your name?—will you tell me what your views are and what you found them upon?”
“Certainly, if you care to listen; tell me though when you are tired.”
“We are tired all the time; it is only finding a new way of being tired that refreshes us,” replied Warren, sitting up on the bed and leaning against the wall.
And now let me say that if the reader wishes to skip a discussion the like of which might have been heard many a time and oft in these little prison rooms, he is entirely welcome to do so.
“Of course, if you are willing to endanger your life for Christ's teachings, you must believe in the divine authority of His words?” began the lieutenant.
“That seems to be a logical deduction,” replied Gordon, smiling.
“I am a Unitarian,” was the next rather irrelevant remark of Warren's, “I don't know that
I quite admit the authority of the Bible on all points. I certainly do not accept the doctrine of the atonement, though I do believe in God. It seems to me we must ‘work out our own salvation in fear and trembling.’ ”
“Do you quote that as a rule to live by?” asked Gordon.
“Yes; I think we might take that as one of God's laws.”
“Do you agree to the verse immediately preceding it?”
“What is it? I don't remember.”
“ ‘Remember,’ that's a good one,” said the little black-eyed fellow, sotto voce.
“ ‘That every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,’ ” quoted Gordon, taking no notice of the remark made by the young fellow whom his comrade called “Cully.”
“No, I don't think we could say that,” returned young Warren.
“Will you tell me how you distinguish between the authority of two verses in such close juxtaposition?” asked Gordon. “Would you, in studying law, respect a book in which you would
take one clause as sound and throw over the one next to it as a fanciful saying?”
“No, certainly not,” said the lieutenant.
“Then why should you do it with the Bible?”
“There are so many different interpretations of the Bible, it would seem as if God could not have inspired it,” was the lieutenant's rather evasive answer; then he added, “one of our clergymen has said, ‘Once settle the undoubted authenticity of the Bible, and Evangelical Christianity is proved.’ ”
“Most people have tried to settle it by interpretation instead of authentication, which is impossible, I think. Only facts can settle anything, and by facts alone can the Bible be authenticated.”
“It seems to me,” said Warren, “that if the Bible is ever authenticated it must be in the same way that as other documents, by something outside of itself. To prove the validity of a document by its own contents is like trying to identify a man by his own testimony.”
“Kuenen says, ‘The Hebrew religion is just one of the great religions of the world, no less, but no more,’ ” remarked Logan, bringing his tall figure to a stop before the two speakers.
“Do you believe that,” asked Gordon. “One of our famous New England writers says the same thing, but it seems to me the moral condition of the countries professing the other religions is answer enough to such a statement, if the writers are not wilfully blind.”
“I didn't say I believed it,” said Logan, beginning his perambulations again, “if any other fellow wants to walk, just let me know and I'll stop.”
“Thank you, it gives me enough exercise just to see you go,” remarked Cully.
“Stop chaffing, boys,” said Lieutenant Warren, “I want to hear Gordon talk; he seems to know how, and if he can convince me the Bible is what it pretends to be, I shall be honestly glad.”
“Our noble lieutenant has spoken,” replied Cully.
“I can give you proofs, I think,” said Rosco Gordon. “I do not know whether I can make you believe; a man may be shown a bridge over an abyss, but unless he believes it will bear his weight he will never cross to the other side.”
“All right, show us your bridge, maybe it will bear.”
“It bears me,” was Gordon's earnest reply.
“Aye, maybe to death,” said Logan.
“ ‘He is able to save to the uttermost,’ ” said Gordon.
“Tell me why you believe the Bible?” asked Lieutenant Warren, breaking the pause that followed Gordon's last response.
“If a document be authenticated, it must be done by establishing its facts and not by any interpretation of its teaching. All the philosophies of men must fall when they come into conflict with a single fact. How the fall of an apple destroyed the philosophy man had been building for years and years!”
“That's fair so far, but, now for your facts,” said Warren.
“In support of what I have been saying,” Gordon went on, “take an illustration near home. The Declaration of Independence, unsupported by evidence outside of the instrument itself, is no evidence really that on July 4, 1776, the founders of this republic adopted that instrument. One may make the historical statement, but its truth cannot be proved by the instrument alone. But don't you see that the whole American nation is
witness to the fact? Does not our very existence, our national celebration of the Fourth of July, the perpetuation of the festival from generation to generation, furnish the best possible proofs to the fact that the Declaration was made?”
“One can but admit a proof brought in that way,” said Warren.
“Now apply the same reasoning to the writings of Moses. Are they not the constitution and statutes of a nation,—a nation still in existence, preserved (as it was stated in his time that they should be) in violation of every known law of nature? The Jews have been scattered all over the world, allowed no citizenship for the first thirteen hundred years of the Christian era; neither were they permitted to hold property for that time; a fact also foretold. Their former habits and pastoral occupations were broken up. It was prophesied they should deal in gold and silver and costly apparel. Look at them now, still engaged as money lenders and trading in readymade clothing.” A smile passed over the faces of his hearers, as Rosco Gordon stopped a moment.
“The parallel is certainly an allowable one,” said Lieutenant Warren.
“And now,” Gordon continued, “after two thousand years of this world-wide dispersion, wherever you meet them you still see them eating the Feast of the Passover in commemoration of their flight out of Egypt.”
“How do you know, however, that God told Moses to do the thing he did?” asked Warren, “Do you suppose he told Moses how to write the Constitution?”
“I suppose He did,” was Gordon's prompt reply, “No other government had ever been instituted like it; the sole idea of government at that time was kingly. That of Moses was a republic, and that of our own is curiously like it. I believe no other government but his and ours will allow naturalization of foreigners; they also refuse, as we do, to let an alien occupy the principal position in the government. In the old laws at New Haven there is a record ‘that not having any laws of our own at present, we will be governed by those of Moses.’ ”
“Where did you go to college, Gordon, may I ask?” said Warren.
“I had three years at Yale.”
“Well, I did not mean to interrupt you. Do
you think human testimony could establish the facts that Moses really did the wonderful acts recorded of him?”
“If human testimony can be taken at all as evidence, I should suppose it did evince it here. A whole nation gave evidence, set up monuments, and better than all perhaps, has involuntarily carried out the prophesies made concerning it. But I cannot tell you half the evidences, study it for yourself.”
“I will,” said Lieutenant Warren, “if ever I get out of this den. Such experiences as one has in war, makes a man want to know what his faith in a future existence is founded on.”
“Have you ever read the Bible through, Lieutenant?” asked Logan, who had ceased his walk and stretched himself out on his bed.
“No, I can't say I have.”
“Better begin now; I dare say Gordon has one,” suggested Cully.
“If it would make me as happy as he looks I don't know but what I would,” responded the lieutenant.
“Moses’ laws are essentially in advance of some of ours,” said Gordon, going back to his
subject. “Blackstone says that ‘some of our laws are still pagan.’ ”
“But why do people interpret the Bible so differently? It seems to me to invalidate its testimony,” said Warren.
“Do you think the American Constitution is invalidated because the North and South gave it different interpretations?” asked Gordon.
“No indeed,” exclaimed Warren, “the grand old government is as good as ever.”
“Yet the Southerners, many of them, honestly believe they have the right, under its laws, to secede; they have interpreted the writings differently,” replied Gordon.
“And made an awful lot of trouble,” said Logan.
“So has the other,” said Gordon, “and the trouble is not nearly over yet.”
“What do you think of the resurrection of Christ? Of course if He rose, He must be more than a man,” asked Warren, starting a new subject of discussion.
“There is the evidence of twelve men to rest it upon, eleven of whom were his bosom friends, and all but one died in the attestation of the Divinity of Christ and His resurrection.”
“They had been taught to look for His resurrection; might they not have been deceived?” suggested the lieutenant.
“On the contrary, they really looked for it so little, that it was hard to make them believe it at all when He did rise. They had not taken His words as really meaning anything, did not really believe Him as much as the old officials did who set a seal upon the tomb. The apostles gave up the whole thing when He died, and went away sorrowfully, saying: ‘We trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.’ That He was not in the tomb when Mary went there, the guard of a hundred soldiers testified, and were bribed to hold their tongues. They believed He had risen. What other fact so testified to would not be accepted by the whole world?”
“When a new hieroglyphic was found in Assyria some years ago,” remarked Logan, “four men were set to decipher it, and when they had all given translations that agreed with one another it was taken to be the right thing. By such testimony are facts taken.”
“Men often die for their opinions,” said Warren, following out his own thoughts.
“The apostles had no opinion about it; they did not testify to an opinion, but to a fact,” replied Gordon.
“Certainly to a belief that it was a fact,” replied the lieutenant. Gordon went on, bringing up another point as testimony.
“What country has ever advanced to such civilization as those holding the Christian religion? The Chinese discovered gunpowder and have never used it except in firecrackers; they discovered the magnet, and never has a junk of theirs crossed the sea unless it was towed by a Christian ship. For two thousand years, except a country has had Christianity introduced into it, no progress has been made. And even those who deny Christ in Christian lands, live so in the light reflected from His teachings that they catch a good deal of it and think it comes from themselves.”
“Some people say that man is God's revelation,” remarked Warren, half to himself.
“And this revelation has produced but one perfect man in eighteen hundred years, according to their own showing.”
“Then you don't think God will accept us for
our own good intentions, and our efforts to do right?” querried Warren.
“It makes very little difference what I think,” replied Gordon, “it is what the Bible teaches, and if you can show me that the preponderance of its testimony is to that effect, I shall be surprised. Salvation is everywhere spoken of in the Bible as a ‘gift,’ something that cannot be earned. ‘The gift of God is eternal life,’ ‘not as was the offence, so is also the free gift,’ and so on all through.”
“ ‘Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,’ and again, ‘for by grace are ye saved through faith, not of works lest any man should boast,’ ” came in Logan's voice from the other side of the room; Cully sat up.
“Are you a preacher? Often been on a circuit?” he asked.
“I might be a better man than I am if that had been my profession,” was the calm response, “Go on, Gordon, tell us some more.”
“The whole New Testament is tuned to the key of redemption, and if a man can gain his own immunity from sin he needs no redemption.”
“Don't you think the world is growing better?” asked Lieutenant Warren.
“I certainly do think it is in many ways; never at any time have there been as many educational advantages, never as many sensible ways of ameliorating the condition of the lower classes. Men of culture and intellect spend large portions of their time in finding out how best to deal with social problems, and living in the radiance of a Christian civilization they forget where the light comes from. They think that it comes from a high cultivation, but its true sources of life are obscured and forgotten if not dead in them. There is in South America a beautiful moss that fastens itself upon a live, vigorous tree, gradually covering it with an exquisite velvety green growth, but by the time the tree is enveloped in this moss the chance of a better life is gone, for the tree is practically dead. The name of this moss is ‘Matabe,’ meaning murder.”
“You don't despise culture?” asked Warren.
“No, no, indeed; don't misunderstand me that way. We need all we can get; every faculty we have ought to be brought to its highest perfection; all the beauty we can gather around us,
all the grace and charm we can exert, the Master wants us to use it all in bringing souls into His kingdom. When we meet Him we do not want to enter His presence empty handed; don't we always want to take something to one we love? His work is going to be done in the world, it is surely our loss if we are left out.”
“I believe in appealing to a man's sense of self-respect to induce him to act rightly,” said the lieutenant.
“So do I, when he has any. Do you remember where Hawthorne makes one of his characters say almost precisely what you have just said? And the answer given to this man of the moralreform hobby is, ‘just wait till you have committed some great crime and see what a condition your moral perceptions are in.’ But I have talked too long and very likely made you wish you had not started me. Logan, sing us a song, won't you?”
“What will you have?” responded the big Westerner. “I'd rather hear you talk.”
“ ‘Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marching,’ ” suggested Cully.
“Not that,” interfered Warren, “it partakes too much of a satire.”
“All right; then ‘Good-night, farewell, my own sweetheart,’ or ‘The girl I left behind me,’ ah, that touches Gordon!” continued Cully, quick to see the shade that darkened the bright hazel eye of the young Southerner, “Cheer up old fellow, you'll see her again.”
“Don't tease, Cully,” said Warren, “there comes the stuff they call supper.”
The next morning, just before the hour for drill, two soldiers entered the room where Gordon was lodged with his three friends, for by this time they merited that name, and briefly saying: “You are wanted,” signified to Gordon that he was to go with them. His three companions glanced at each other apprehensively; Rosco rose to his feet and shaking hands with them, simply said:
“Good-by, fellows, I may see you all again, and—I may not.”
They remained silent a moment looking at the door which closed upon him and then Cully, as usual, was the first to break the silence.
“What do you suppose they mean to do with him?” he asked.
“Make him drill, and if he refuses, shoot him,” was Logan's rather grim reply.
“They won't make him drill,” said Warren.
“I never saw a face in which so much sweetness and determination were combined.”
“Look, look, there he is!” exclaimed Cully, from the little window where he had stationed himself, they could overlook the parade-ground, though from too great a distance to hear easily what was going on. There stood the soldiers, in faded gray uniforms, formed in line ready for the morning's exercise. Gordon stood a little in front of the line opposite the captain, a big, burly German, much rougher than a native-born Southerner would have been. Warren, Logan and Cully, watching with strained attention from their window, saw the captain hold out a musket to Gordon, apparently ordering him to take it. Gordon made no motion to obey, evidently from his gesture of dissent he was refusing.
“Oh, why won't he take it?” exclaimed Cully, “what a fool he is.”
“He is no fool, nor a muff either,” said Logan.
“His favorite Hawthorne says, ‘The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one's self a fool; the truest heroism is to resist that doubt.’ Gordon has passed the doubting period,” said Warren, looking
out across the bare field at the troops, “he is more of a hero than any man I ever met, and I can do nothing to help him in this emergency,” the last words escaping him almost like an unconscious moan as he turned from the window and restlessly paced up and down the room.
“Oh, Warren, they have tied his arms behind him and stood him by himself,” cried Cully again.
“Confound them all,” ejaculated Logan, leaving the window and then going back, sickened by the apprehension of seeing a murder and yet too facinated to stay away. Erect and graceful stood the slight young figure; no sign of fear or shrinking did they see, no movement even when the six men were called out from the ranks and ordered to level their rifles at him, only a look upward and apparently a motion of the lips, but the men did not fire; after an instant's hesitation every one let the muzzle of his weapon fall to the ground. The captain stamped and with angry gesture ordered them again to fire on the solitary figure with its indefinable attitude of waiting. Cully covered his face and shivered, listening for the shots.
“Why don't they fire,” he exclaimed, “it is horrible.”
“By jove, they won't!” exclaimed Logan, as again the Southern soldiers lowered their muskets and stood still. The captain in a rage pulled out his pistol and aimed it at one of the six men, it missed fire and he flung it on the ground, commanding them to shoot in so furious a voice that the angry tones reached the ears of our three watching friends. Two of the men raised their rifles for the third time, but suddenly threw them down and turning rejoined the ranks, followed by the other four men. An irrepressible cheer broke from the little window where the three Northerners stood and Gordon turned his head in their direction, evidently recognizing the sympathy expressed. Two soldiers then went up and led Gordon away to the rear of the barracks, and the captain sulkingly gave orders to go on with the drill.
“He'll see the girl he left behind him, yet,” exclaimed Cully, cutting a pigeon wing. “It is lucky our guard has gone to breakfast, or they'd make us pay for our hurrah.”
“Be still, Cully, how you do go on!” said Warren, who could not as easily throw off the feeling of horror at the scene he had just witnessed.
“He is safe this time, but we do not know what will happen next.”
“The Master he serves is no weak one,” said Logan's deliberate voice; “ ‘he is abundantly able to save.’ ”
“And Gordon seems to trust Him entirely. Seeing such faith as his; believing, yet not ignorant, or perhaps believing because not ignorant, is more convincing than all the theories or arguments in the world,” and Warren resumed his thoughtful walk up and down his narrow quarters.
None of the three ever saw Rosco Gordon again for he was kept in separate confinement till sent to another regiment. So our lives meet, and run beside each other a little space, and separate again; and whether we have used our opportunities for good or evil may never be known on this side of Heaven.
Instances of the kind related in these chapters occurred over and over again in the experience of Friends during the war. The men refused to carry out the orders of their captains, saying they could not shoot or maltreat such unresisting men as these Quakers, who would uphold their principles
even unto giving up of life. The officers would not perpetrate cruelties themselves which yet they ordered their men to inflict, and though at times some Friends did suffer, yet they were marvellously preserved. But why do we say ‘marvellously?’ For has He not promised? And is He not able to perform? Others were shot for disobedience to orders, but no Quaker lost his life. Not knowing what to do with these men who conscientiously refused to obey orders, the officers were glad to transfer them from regiment to regiment, preferring to put the responsibility on some one else, who in his turn would pass it on again. In this way it happened that Rosco Gordon was sent to the regiment to which James Haydock had been ordered when he was taken away from Petersburg, soon after the events described in our previous chapters.
It was on the eve of a battle that Rosco arrived in camp with the fresh reinforcements sent to strengthen the Southern army against the Northern battalions, now closing in fast around them. A few months more would see the end of the long struggle. Rosco had been left very much to himself since we saw him last, as the colonel
of his regiment was too busy to attend to him, and besides he did not care to come into conflict with the willing, active young fellow who was always ready to do a good turn for every one. The morning after he arrived in camp, a soldier he knew called to him.
“Rec'on there's one of your kind in that tent there. I was loafing round last night, and caught sight of him.”
Gordon immediately went to the tent indicated. He saw a tall figure lying on a blanket and approached with a pleasant “Good-morning.”
“Rosco Gordon, surely,” was the quick exclamation as James Haydock sprang to his feet.
“Oh, Mr. Haydock, how glad, how very glad, I am to see you; how I have hoped to find you,” the older man was holding his hand and gazing intently at him.
“They are all well at home,” went on Rosco, seeing he could not speak. “Sit down, Mr. Haydock, you do not look well; you have had a weary time of it, haven't you?”
“It has been hard to bear at times, but the Lord has never forsaken, and many a time has
enabled me to be of use to others. How did thee get here, and not in uniform?”
“I am here for the same reasons you are, Mr. Haydock, and on account of those reasons do not bear arms,” said the young man, smiling.
“What about thy father? Does he think with thee?” asked James Haydock, with no evidence of surprise.
“Oh, he does not agree with me entirely and is making every effort to raise the wherewithal for the Exemption tax. I objected, but of course I cannot control his actions. Poor father, it was very hard to leave him and harder to know how he felt about not having money enough to pay the tax.”
“Thee said all my family were well and not suffering?” James Haydock asked, his thoughts returning to those he loved best.
“All well, and with enough to eat and to wear; John as merry as a cricket; Mrs. Haydock naturally very anxious about you, but keeping up a brave heart. I wish you were with her,” he added, noting how much grayer the dark hair had become, how thin the brown cheek was, and how deep the hollows about the dark blue eyes.
A sudden fear took possession of him that the hard life was telling sorely on the strength of James Haydock, and that he might not be able to bear it much longer. “Oh, if he can only live to get home!” was the prayer that rose in his heart.
“I wish so indeed,” said James Haydock, in answer to Rosco's last remark.
“Mr. Haydock, why don't you go North, if you can get through?” asked Gordon.
“Run away,” queried the older man.
“There is no running away about it,” said Gordon. “You believe in and uphold the Union; you are with troops who don't think as you do, and why are you bound to stay with what you consider the wrong side? Your health is failing; are you doing any good to your country staying here? Will you not do more in saving yourself to build up the country after the war is over?”
“I have thought that perhaps my time with the army was over,” replied James Haydock. “But I do not like going to live in quiet in the North, while my family is suffering privation in the old home.”
“Your family would be only too glad to know you were safe; it would take away their heaviest
burden,” and he told him of what Frances Haydock had said, adding “no man is bound to throw his life away unless the Lord clearly shows it is His will. Do you think He wants you to stay here yet?”
“No, I do not; there has been lately a pointing in the other direction. If I could get to the North and send down supplies for those suffering at home, I believe it would be right to do so.” He sat in deep thought which Rosco did not disturb, knowing how the Quakers trusted to the leading of the Spirit, and how careful they were to do nothing important unless they felt that same guidance.
Outside, in the camp all was bustle and confusion; in one little tent there was silence and an earnest seeking for God's leading. Upon this silence broke the heavy sound of cannon, followed by the scream and bursting of shells; the battle had begun. Presently a corporal looked into their tent, saying,
“Every man to his company; if you don't go I'll have you sent for, shortly,” and he disappeared. Four other soldiers came in a few minutes and our friends were separated and placed in
different parts of the field. From his place near the front Rosco Gordon saw through the smoke and cloud of the conflict, a tall figure which he at once recognized, walk deliberately out from the Confederate ranks and quietly cross the field amid the rain of bullets. Gordon held his breath, his heart one prayer to God. A momentary cessation seemed to come in the quick volleys, and before they began again the familiar form had reached unhurt the Federal side, passed to the rear of the crowding troops, and Rosco Gordon knew that James Haydock was in all human probability beyond the reach of further danger.
But the Quakers were misunderstood in some parts of the north as well as in the south, and James Haydock was sent to Fort Delaware as prisoner of war. He was detained there some time till the authorities in Washington were notified of his imprisonment, when he was promptly released and allowed to join his children in Philadelphia, some of whom had already gone to Norfolk to obtain tidings from their parents, or if possible to get through the lines to aid them. This was not practicable, however, until after Richmond had fallen.CHAPTER XVI. JINGO.
More monotonous now than ever were the days to Molly and her mother. Mr. Gordon brought them word that his wife was very ill, seeming to have prolonged spells of weakness which were hard to relieve.
“She worries after Rosco all the time, we do miss him so much,” he said one day. “Miss Molly, you miss his help too, don't you? Have you plenty of wood? There always seems to be a fire here.”
“Yes, thank you, we have a good supply of wood. Father always kept some piled up to dry, and then for small wood and cones, John and I go to the swamp, where there are quantities.”
“Is it not a good way to go?” asked the old gentleman, laying his hand on the girl's head.
“Oh no, I like the walk and it keeps me busy; it is not good to stay at home and think too much.”
“No, that it is not; but think about Rosco, won't you, and pray he may get home safely,” he said wistfully, “I have a deal of faith in your and your mother's prayers.”
“That is not a hard thing to do, Mr. Gordon,” said Molly softly, a faint blush stealing over her cheek; he smiled at her, having some understanding of how matters were and yet not knowing quite what had passed between “the young folks.” But the smile was rather sad, and faded away entirely as he turned to Frances Haydock.
“Could you come over and spend the night with Mrs. Gordon, do you think? It is a good deal to ask, I know, Mrs. Haydock, but you do seem to comfort her so much and she longs for a woman about. Rosco was just like a daughter in some ways, and yet a fine manly fellow too.”
“Molly, would thee be afraid to stay alone with John,” said Frances Haydock, turning to her daughter.
“No, indeed, mother, no one will hurt us and there is certainly nothing to attract burglars.”
“I think I might leave them, and if it is any comfort to thy dear wife, I am more than willing to go.”
“Can you ride pillion, madam? I might have brought the buggy, but it is so rickety. My horse is quiet enough, he doesn't get any corn now-a-days, poor fellow, to frisk on.”
“I have ridden double before,” said Frances Haydock, smiling a little as the recollection of her early days came back to her mind. So Mr. Gordon carried the sweet-faced Quakeress slowly on his horse along the avenue, and many a visit did she make afterward in like manner, taking comfort and peace to the weary heart of poor Mrs. Gordon.
“Molly, come take a walk, I want something to do, and the squirrel will do nothing but sleep,” said John.
“He is making up for last night,” replied Molly, “He raced up and down the old clock and dropped chestnuts about till I thought he would never grow tired. I swept up a regular little heap of the shells this morning.”
“The carvings on the clock make a good ladder for him. Did thee see what a jolly little nest he has made on the top of the clock between those two clover leaf things that curve over toward each other?”
“No, has he?” said Molly looking up at the dark scroll-work surmounting the broad-faced moon that kept smiling watch over the slow ticking hours. “It is fortunate our clock winds at the back instead of the top, as many do.”
“Yes,” said John, “bunny might interfere with the works in that case.”
“Let us take thy wagon and bring home some light wood; ours is giving out.” John had concocted a marvellous wagon some three feet long and two wide, and set it on four still more remarkable wheels, whose broad tires were planned with a view to easy going over the sandy roads. It held quite a quantity of cones or bits of light wood, and was much less fatiguing than a bag slung over the shoulder. Molly crossed a red cashmere shawl over her breast, knotting it behind, and covering her dusky hair with a blue riding cap, pronounced herself ready for a tramp.
“Did thee find that red thing in the chest upstairs?” asked her brother, surveying her approvingly. “Thee looks like a vivandiere;” and in truth the dark blue and red suited Molly's hair and eyes remarkably well. A keen November wind was blowing as they walked rapidly along
the road to the swamp, and Molly's cheeks were as rosy as her brother's when they reached the spot, quite a mile in from the entrance to the tangled morass, where they found the light wood in greatest abundance.
In some of the many marches of the different armies through this region, fires had been kindled, and large tracts of timber burnt along the road; the blackened tree-trunks, rising dismally from the cinder-covered ground, gave a look of indescribable dreariness to the scene. The fire which swept over this desolate country had, however, left the cypress boles untouched, and they gleamed like white spectres amid the blasted vegetation that stretched as far as eye could reach.
The days were growing frosty. A glaze of ice was even now forming upon many of the little pools, shooting clear needle-like crystals over the motionless black water. All the summer birds had gone south, and nothing stirred in the swamp except a black turkey-buzzard slowly flapping its way along the canal. It perched on a crooked tree not far from where Molly and John stood and watched them askance. Molly shuddered.
“Come John, hurry and fill the wagon, I don't like this place, it is lonely.”
“It is not remarkably cheerful,” answered her brother, “especially on a cloudy afternoon.” He went quickly to work with his sister and they soon filled the little wagon to overflowing.
“Now that's enough. Hey, oh look, there comes some darkies, or rather they don't come, they are standing still, let's go and see what is the matter?” said John. The group of negroes indicated were gathered around some object that lay on the ground a few yards distant. On going nearer, Molly saw that a little boy about ten years old was stretched along the roadside seemingly too weak to go any further; the older ones regarded him with much perplexity.
“Is he sick?” asked John, addressing an old man whose shaggy gray brows almost hid the little black eyes beneath them.
“Yes sah, he be bery sick, an’ what to do fo’ it, sah, is pas’ my compre'nsion. Spec’ sum ’un ought'er tote ’im, but it ain't bery easy fur to do dat, an’ none on us air mighty strong now.” He shivered in the cool wind.
John did not think they were very strong, indeed;
deed; three women, this old man and the boy formed the little party going to “de Norf,” as they said.
“Who does he belong to?” asked Molly.
“Don't ’long to nobody, missus; bofe his fader an’ modder lef’ ’im mo’ dan a year back,” replied one of the women, “an’ I tuk care on ’im, an’ ’e was allers a ’bliging little pickaninny, dat I will say fo’ ’im, but I tink ’e dun fo’ now.”
“He's dun walked ’long right bravely,” said the old man, speaking again, “but de fever's tuk ’im an I reckon ’e's a dyin’.” The little fellow lay quietly, only putting one thin hand under his pinched cheek as if the road felt hard; the peculiar ashy gray tint that comes to a sick negro had spread over his small visage and the black eyes looked dull; he showed no wish to move, except when the buzzard flapped its wings once or twice, as if intending flight, and then settled down again on its black perch. A look of apprehension crept into the boy's eyes as he saw the ugly bird and he tried to say something.
“What is it,” said Molly stooping over him to catch the faint words.
“Don’ let ’im git at me ’fo’ I die.”
“Molly's eyes filled with tears as she turned to her brother, who, understanding her unspoken thought, impulsively tipped the wood out of his little wagon.
“Bless you,” he said, “he shan't get you, dead or alive; we'll take you home with us.” Molly nodded and John brought the wagon close to the boy.
“May we take him home?” she said to one of the women.
“May de Lawd bless yo’; it's a mighty kind thing to do now. Jingo, will yo’ go wid de young Missis?”
Jingo slowly brought his failing eyes round to Molly, and whispered, “Yes.”
Molly untwisted her red shawl, spread it in the wagon, and the old man laid the child gently upon it. John took off his jacket and covered the little fellow.
“Oh, don’ do dat, you will all take col’,” remonstrated the woman. John laughed. “Exercise will keep us warm, and he needs it more than we do.”
“Did you call him Jingo?” said Molly.
“Yes, missis, he dun call his se'f dat. Good-bye,
Jingo, I trus’ de Lawd will make yo’ well bye un bye,” and the woman stroked the curly hair off the hot forehead.
“Come, John, it is getting dark and cold; good-bye, uncle,” Molly said to the old man as she turned away.
“Good-bye, good-bye, God bless yo’.”
“I wonder where they will sleep to-night?” said John looking back at the group of tired ragged negroes bearing their scanty parcels of food and clothing with them. They walked slowly along the gray road, on and on, beside the dark sluggish canal creeping between interminable miles of blackened and ruined trees. The buzzard rose and flew slowly away into the gathering shadows. Poor souls! many of them found the north cold and forbidding, and quite devoid of the glorious halo with which their fancy had surrounded it.
Molly and John walked homeward as fast as their load permitted, Jingo lay very still curled up in the wagon; John thought he was asleep, but when he stooped for a closer view the dull eyes met his with a little more intelligence in them than John had seen before.
“Are you comfortable, Jingo?” he asked. The parched little lips formed the word, “Yes,” but so weakly that John and Molly were thankful when they reached the house. Twilight had closed around them and Molly was shivering a little in spite of the active exercise she had taken.
John carried the waif in and placed him on a thick comfortable that Molly laid before the fireplace. A match was applied to the pile of cones, and soon there was a crackling fire, which Molly found most cheering with its dancing light.
“He looks like a cone himself,” remarked John surveying Jingo as he laid him down, “one of those long gray ones, doesn't he?” Molly put a cushion under the limp little head.
“Does that feel good. Jingo?” she asked.
“Yes,” and the mite stretched his limbs out feebly. Molly smiled.
“That stretch is a good sign; there is life in him yet. Now I'll warm some milk for him.”
“Molly, I'll sleep on the settee to-night and watch him and keep up the fire,” said John, much interested in their new acquisition, “he seems so comfortable where he is, don't thee think we had better leave him there?”
“I think we will; look, he is going to sleep,” and indeed the warm milk and soft bed had much refreshed the weak, weary little frame, and sleep soon wrapped him in its kindly influences. Morning found him much better; and plenty of hoecake and milk with judicious doses of quinine for a few days set Jingo on his feet again so that he soon became a source of amusement to the family, out-rivalling even the squirrel.
One afternoon about three weeks after Jingo had become a member of the Haydock family, Molly was in the kitchen mixing the bannock for supper. Jingo sat on the floor near the stove watching her movements with interest.
“Jingo,” she said, “can't you find me two or three more eggs in the barn?”
“Cracky, Miss Molly, but you scared me speakin’ so onexpected, I was jess a feedin’ dis yere greedy squirrel with ches'nuts an’ now look, he's dun grabbed ’em all,” and Jingo looked regretfully at a very big chestnut that Bunny was twisting and turning with the rapidity of a prestidigitateur, in his little pink claws.
“You wanted that one yourself, didn't you, Jingo?” asked Molly, laughing. “I wonder how
many the squirrel has gotten anyway? Come, go look for the eggs.”
“Sartain,” said Jingo, turning a summerset out of the kitchen door. The squirrel, startled by the sudden movement, stuffed the big nut in his cheek and scrambled up a branch of burning bush that ornamented the dresser. In a second or two Jingo returned, popping his head into the doorway with the anxious questions:
“Do yere tink dat old hen's safe?”
“Safe? Why isn't she safe?” asked Molly, turning to look at the boy.
“Safe to lay, I fancy he means,” remarked John coming in at that minute, “is that it, Jingo?”
“No, sah,” answered Jingo, solemnly, “When I histed her tail feadders up yesterday to ’quire as to whedder she dun lay any eggs, she didn't ’preciate de pint an’ ’cipitated herse'f into my face, screamin’ nuff to brung all de sodgers right down ’pon us. I ’clare I was so s'prised I jess sot plum down on a heap o’ hay.”
“And stayed there a half an hour, I don't doubt,” said Molly. “Jingo, if you don't get me some eggs right away, you shall not have any corncake for supper.”
“Oh, my gracious, Miss Molly, yer won't say dat!” and the small black figure vanished before John had time to throw after him the cone he had picked up for that purpose. John laughed and remarked,
“Jingo is getting spoiled, Molly.”
“Well, we'll unspoil him sometime; he is young enough to be improved.”
Mrs. Haydock just then entered the kitchen.
“Molly, here are two soldiers wanting something to eat,” she said.
“Oh, dear, good-bye to my nice corn-bread. I have one beautiful panful just baked, and the eggs gave out for the rest—.”
“Hush, don't even suggest we have eggs,” said John, “they will want our hens next; are they blue coats or gray, mother?”
“Gray,” said his mother, taking the pan of golden brown corn-bread, and putting part of it on a plate which she carried into the living room. John took in the pot of chicory coffee, and a little pitcher of milk.
“We may as well get it over and let them go,” he remarked, making a wry face. Molly followed to keep him in order.
“Milk, eh?” said one of the men, “You must have a cow about, she'll be just the thing to carry back to our men; after supper we'll go get her. Old, is she?”
John looked despairingly at Molly, whose face had about as much expression in it as a snow image. No answer was returned to the men by any of the family, and presently John rose and was going softly out, when the bigger of the two soldiers spoke,
“No, you don't; just sit still, will you? You shan't go and sneak that cow away where we can't find her. Don't any of you leave this room till we have searched the premises,” and he drew his pistol out and laid it beside him. Jingo's small figure appeared just then at the kitchen door holding up a white egg in each little black hand; luckily the soldiers were facing the other way and neither saw him, or Molly's swift warning gesture to him not to speak; comprehending the whole situation at a glance, the black sprite cut a noiseless pigeon wing and vanished as silently as he had come. The men were leisurely in eating their supper, the lookers-on thought they would never finish and yet dreaded to see them
rise and go in search of the cows; at last they rose.
“Come, comrade, we must get that cow before it grows any darker; you may come with us if you like,” he said, turning to John, who hesitated and then rose, looking rather pale.
“This is the way out to the backyard, I suppose,” the man said, going out through the kitchen. “Your barn's burnt down, is it? Well, such things will happen; oh, here's a little stable, I see,” and he went toward it followed by John who was rather surprised to see the door open. He had enlarged the little building in order to shelter the fodder they were able to collect from trampled fields of corn, and Mr. Gordon had given them a little hay. The men now proceeded to inspect the rather rickety structure.
“Come now, where do you keep the cows,” asked the man, roughly.
“If you have any eyes, you can't help seeing them,” returned John, hotly.
“I don't see any nevertheless, there is nothing here but broken halters tied to the crib.” Much puzzled, John went in and lifted the ends of the ropes, he gazed around the stable, certainly no animals were there.
“I know no more about it than you do,” he said, quietly turning to the men.
“You look like you mean what you say,” replied the man after looking at him a moment. “Well, fortune has favored you this time; your cows are saved for the next fellow that comes along, but our men will go supperless to bed unless some other of the foragers are more successful.”
“It is a poor country to forage in,” returned John, his good humor restored by the absence of the cows.
“You say true,” returned the smaller of the men, “we don't wish to clean out the peoples’ stock, but our men must have supplies.”
“It seems we don't get any here; those cows may be miles away if they break their halters and clear out like that; it is too dark to go after them now,” and rather sulkily the man marched around the house and down the road followed by his companion, who, however, stopped to thank John for their supper.
“I reckon your mother wouldn't care to see us again,” he remarked, smiling.
“I don't suppose she would,” returned John.
He ran into the house, noticing casually as he passed, that a heap of brush piled up against the back of the house to dry, had tumbled down across the door which opened into a slanting passage running into the cellar. The ground at the back of the house fell away from the front elevation and quite a quantity of the brush had fallen, blocking the entrance completely.
“I must put it up again to-morrow,” he thought, and then bursting into the house, exclaimed.
“Mother, the cows are gone.”
“The men have taken them?” she asked, a little surprised at his tone.
“No, no, I mean they have run away, they were not in the stable.”
“Not in the stable,” cried Molly, “but how”— the cellar door opening into the living room quietly unlatched at this instant and the small black countenance of Jingo peered cautiously through.
“Dem men gone?” he inquired, taking a survey of the room, and advancing into it as he saw no strangers were there.
“They are gone, Jingo,” said John.
“Didn't get de cows, did dey?”
“Did you let them out?” exclaimed John, a light breaking in on his mind; “you deserve a silver medal, Jingo, indeed you do; but how far did you drive them?”
“Didn't drive ’em far, Massa John; dey's in de sullar, tought dey's cotch cold bein’ out all night,” said the boy going to the fire.
“Why you're all wet, Jingo,” said Molly, “just dripping.”
“Spec’ I am, Miss Molly; Massa John did tell me part of de ’lantic ocean run troo de sullar, but I didn't honestly b'lieve him an’ so I tumbled in. Goin’ to b'lieve ebery single ting he tell me after dis.” Jingo always had had rather a horror of the dark cellar, which John encouraged, fearing he might be tempted to help himself to the milk which was kept there; so he had never been in it before; taking this horror into account, it was all the more laudable of Jingo to venture in to save the heifers.
“Well, I suppose I had better get the cows out now. Did you put all that brush over the cellar door, too, Jingo?”
“Yes, sah, it was mighty hard creepin’ troo
to get de cows after dat, but I was so afeared dey would holler ’less some one was dere to talk to ’em.”
“Jingo, you're a treasure,” said Molly. “Come now and get dried, you shall have a bit of sugar to-night,” for a little, a very little lump sugar was still kept by Frances Haydock for great emergencies, like this.
As the short winter days set in and many a cold storm of rain kept Molly from the walks that were such a relief to her anxious thoughts, the girl lost a little of the bright energy that had stood her in such good stead through this long time of trial. Nothing had been heard from either her father or Rosco Gordon for many weeks. From time to time accounts came to them of friends who had suffered more or less severely for their adherence to their peace principles. The families left at home were feeling the increased scarcity of provisions, and some, though unequal to the task, were compelled to walk eight or ten miles to the nearest town to get the rations served out to those who were in actual want. Corn-meal and potatoes still held out in Friend Haydock's dwelling, but it was monotonous fare. The discouraged hens, only two of which remained, gave up laying, probably hoping for
better things in the spring, and although Molly did all she could for them, it was a pair of very hopeless looking chickens that sat with drooping tails on the top of the stalls when Molly went to milk the heifers. The supply of milk was visibly lessening, but Molly was thankful for what blessings they had and would occasionally share their meagre store with some neighbor more poverty stricken than themselves.
Mrs. Gordon continued very ill, and became every day more anxious about her son, for although Mr. Gordon had succeeded in getting the money for the Exemption tax and had sent it to Richmond, Rosco had been exchanged into so many different regiments that it was difficult to find him, and as the Northern army pressed closer to Richmond, official service in that beautiful capital became more and more hurried and confused. Thus it came to pass that Mr. Gordon's efforts to procure his son's release seemed destined to be unsuccessful, and the chilling fear grew upon the father's mind that he might be too late, that already the bright form he loved so well might be filling an unmarked grave. This afternoon, late in December, Molly felt unusually depressed; it
had rained in torrents all day, and the irregular monotonous trickling of the water down the gutter on the porch roof was almost exasperating to Molly's despondent mood. She stood by the window in the little alcove where her father had been wont to sit, and looked out over the beaten sand of the yard. Bunny perched discontentedly on the top of the old carved chair and let his long tail hang straight down; the rainy weather did not please him at all, and perhaps, he missed his long winter naps, for it did not seem worth while to go to bed for several months when the air was nice and warm about him and nuts were plenty in the box under the table whenever he chose to go for them. It was a different social atmosphere from that to which he was accustomed, and who shall say whether it suited him or not?
Frances Haydock was sitting before the fire reading from some old volume. The spinning-wheel stood idle, for the spinning was all done, there was no more material to be obtained. All the cloth Frances Haydock could spare had been given to her poorer neighbors. Molly's wardrobe had grown so limited that one day she opened the old chest in the attic, and finding a partly worn
dark red velvet dress, she fitted its rather scanty proportions to her slender figure.
“Father's ancestors must have been fond of red,” she remarked to her mother, the day she brought this gown down stairs.
“They were not of our Society always,” was the mother's response. “Indeed I think if I remember rightly, that his grandfather joined the Friends from convincement.”
“Well, the color will not do me any harm, will it, mother? I mean does thee object to it?”
“No, indeed, my daughter; it is well thee has it to wear,” said her mother, smiling and sighing together; so Molly wore the old red velvet and John gave it his valuable approval.
The drops continued to fall and the big logs in the fire-place burned quietly; presently Molly broke the silence.
“Mother, here is Mr. Gordon coming up the lane; he has rigged up the old buggy. It must be something unusual to make him turn out on such a day as this. I wonder if he has heard anything of Rosco?”
Was he the bearer of evil tidings? She ran out on the porch.
“Is anything the matter, Mr. Gordon? It is a rainy day to come out,” she spoke cheerily in spite of her fears.
“Mrs. Gordon is much worse to-day,” he replied, getting cautiously out of the rickety vehicle. It made Molly sad to see how he had aged in the last two or three months; he came up the steps slowly.
“I was almost afraid to leave Mrs. Gordon, even for an hour, though there is an old darky in the house, but she did so long for Mrs. Haydock that I had to come over. Shall I carry you back with me?” he asked.
“Willingly; I will be ready in a minute. I wish I could be of some real good to her,” she said as she went to her room for wraps. Molly watched the horse's drooping head with the rain-drops running down the wet mane and dropping on to the ground.
“Have you heard anything from your son?” she asked presently.
“Nothing, nothing,” he replied, “I begin to fear I never shall—” his voice choked, and he covered his eyes with his hand.
“No, no, don't, Mr. Gordon, we shall surely
hear something soon,” said the girl, though her sweet tones shook a little, as she thought how the genial old man was changed by his long and heavy anxieties.
“I am ready to start now,” said Frances Haydock, returning with her light, swift step.
“I can never thank you half enough for being willing to come, ma'am,” said Mr. Gordon, taking her hand and leading her down the steps with true Southern courtesy. Carefully he tucked her in, and Molly watched the crazy old carriage as it went slowly down the road and disappeared through the gray vista of dripping trees.
“Miss Molly, whar all de watah in yere sullar come from?” asked Jingo, as Molly seated herself on a low stool in front of the fire.
“A spring opened there, Jingo, after the house was built, and grandfather laid some pipes to let the water run out into the garden, don't you know the place?”
“Yes'm. Den dar's no danger o’ dis yere storm swellin’ de tide?” the sprite queried.
“Oh no, did you think the water would come up here and drown us all out?”
“Did'n know, watah is mos’ onaccountable
’ting ’cassionably, but I feel a heap better now you telled me dat; Jingo don't like gittin’ wet,” and the little restless figure began a series of antics which much disturbed the squirrel, who rather seemed to class Jingo with the monkeys; he had not studied Darwin, and therefore had drawn his conclusions from practical observations. It may, however, be doubted whether, had he known the theories of that most ingenious and wonderful man, the little quadruped would have believed in the survival of the fittest as, from the safe refuge of Molly's lap, he watched Jingo cutting pigeon wings.
“Molly, the kitchen roof is leaking,” said John, as he came in from that room. I have put a bucket to catch the drops. Don't tumble over it when you go out there. And Jingo, don't you fall in; you'll get drowned.”
“No, deedy, sah, Jingo ruther be dirty all de days, dan git inter a pail.”
“I believe you would,” replied John, pulling the boy's wool gently.
Supper was over, and John had gone to bed, professing that he was so tired doing nothing that he could not keep his eyes open. Molly knew,
however, that he had been sawing wood all day. Jingo had been carrying in the pieces intended for kindling, piling them up behind the kitchen stove; he remained rather long behind its ample shelter on one trip and John stepped in to see what was occupying him. He was carefully raising a complicated structure of sticks laid across each other.
“Dat de Tow'r ob Babel, Massa John,” said the absorbed architect, looking up at John and quite unconscious that he was spending his time in an improper manner.
“You won't reach Heaven in that fashion, Jingo; especially if you idle away your time when you should be working.”
“Don spec’ to reach Heben dis yere way nohow, Massa. ’Dose folks didn't, if I ’member correcly, dey got dere moufs all mingled togeder an’ ’dat made such gran’ confusion dey couldn't wuk. Now it's all finish,” and Jingo gave a sudden jump that demolished the whole structure as his toe caught the end of the bottom stick. He surveyed the fall gravely.
“Reckon I'd better go wuk agin.”
“I reckon so too,” laughed John, “and leave your Bible lessons till another time.”
Jingo's share of the work seemed to have tired him as well as his young master; he had also retired to his small cot and the bright little eyes were closed in sleep when Molly went to look at him, after John had gone upstairs.
“How different he looks from the first time I saw him; dear me, John has sifted a lot of sawdust into his little black head; what a tiresome boy,” she said, then going to the wood-box she took several large cones from it and returned to the living-room. She put two or three on the glowing logs and watched them burn and grow red-hot, still partially keeping their shape. How unutterably lonely it was! Yet had her thoughts been cheerful she might have enjoyed the firelight, dancing, quivering, throwing uncertain and fantastic figures on walls and ceiling, waving now here, now there, as if they were alive. The constant drip, drip of the rain outside made Molly nervous as she sat in the old-fashioned rocking chair, and, listening to the regular dropping of the water into the bucket in the kitchen, she fancied it like the steady knocking of a small finger; almost metallic was the ring of that perpetually falling drop into the accumulated water, and
Molly found herself counting the slow intervals between each splash as it fell. Why didn't it stop sometimes?
As if feeling the influence of the long rain, the brook whose faint trickling in the cellar was scarcely noticeable at common times, sounded plainly to-night, whispering the fancy that shadowy people were holding high carnival in the darkness below, while outside the rising night wind did nothing in its uncertain sighing to quiet her excited imagination or lull her strained nerves to rest. The clock ticked louder than she had ever heard it before, and the squirrel sat upright on its carved top, watching her with intent intelligent eyes, showing no disposition to come down to be petted as usual, but wearing, as it seemed to her, an uncanny expression of expectancy. Molly arose and drew the curtains closer. The dark corners of the room frightened her. Why should she feel as if intangible beings were all around? She turned suddenly, fancying something touched her shoulder.
“How absurd this is; I shall wake John up to keep me company,” she said aloud, but her voice sounded strangely to herself and seemed to
awake echoes through the silent room. Surely that was the tramp of horses’ hoofs! Some one was riding fast along the avenue; was the door locked? She thought not, and sprang to fasten it fearing unwelcome visitors, but the horse had stopped close to the house and she knew the step that hastily crossed the porch floor. Flinging the door open wide and caring not for the rain that blew in her face with sudden gusts, she felt her lover's arms about her and knew that one, at least, of her prayers was answered.
“When did you come? Have you seen your mother?” were her first questions, as soon as she recovered her breath.
“Just arrived an hour ago; yes, I stopped at home to tell mother I was all right, and she was good enough to let me come right over here.”
“She will get well now,” said Molly. Her face was marvellously bright after the sadness of a few minutes ago.
“She cheered up wonderfully during the half hour I was there,” said Rosco, “so I am going to stay over here to-night if you can put me up; your mother seemed rather relieved at the idea.”
“Yes, she does not like to leave us alone,
though she has spent several nights with Mrs. Gordon lately.”
“It is good to get back, oh, how good!” said Rosco, “But I must leave you long enough to get my horse under shelter, it still rains.”
“Take John's lantern, the little stable behind the house will hold him, and the cows will be glad of more company,” said Molly.
“Gladder than you are? You don't say much to me, Molly,” said the young man, with a gleam of his hazel eyes, as he took the lantern from her hand.
“Ah, I can't say half—” she answered, “I thought you would never come.”
When Rosco returned from stabling his horse he thought he had never seen a lovelier picture than the flickering firelight showed him. The bright flames lit up Molly's slight figure clad in the picturesque old velvet, and, as she turned to meet him, the joy that flashed over her glowing face was enough to satisfy the most ardent lover's expectations; he thought no more for the time of his past trial, nor did she hear the dreary storm without.
“Oh, if you only knew how I have longed
for this, Molly. Once I thought I should never see you again.”
“The worst was not allowed to come, Rosco,” replied the girl as they stood together before the fire. The squirrel took observations from its elevated perch, and seeing that neither of the other occupants of the room showed any signs of retiring, concluded it was not worth while to wait and curling its tail over its nose was soon fast asleep.CHAPTER XVIII. THE OLD MEETING HOUSE AGAIN.
Very glad and thankful was Frances Haydock to see Rosco Gordon once more and to learn that her beloved husband had been able to get through to the Union lines, and also to know that he had not suffered as much as many of the other Friends who had been impressed into the army. Weary and worn he might be, that was but the common lot of those among whom he was thrown, and no complaint was thought of on this account. Indeed, no murmuring was ever heard from the lips of these Quakers, even when they were wounded and beaten for steady refusals to bear arms. Other soldiers risked loss of life and limb for what they believed to be their duty, why should not the Friends take equal risk for the Captain under whom they served, the Prince of Peace? In following Him, however, none lost either life or limb, though they did endure that which perhaps was harder, the scorn and hatred
of those who, mistaking their Christianity for fear or self-seeking, branded them as cowards and traitors. No people have ever been more conscientious citizens of the United States than the Quakers, nor more obedient to authority which did not conflict with what they regarded as the higher law. As to sacrifice, the pecuniary losses of Friends were not small. In one Quarterly Meeting in North Carolina the destruction of their property was estimated in official returns at ninetysix thousand dollars in gold. Their unwillingness to fight seemed sufficient proof to the Confederate army that they favored the Union, and owing to the same cause they were pointed out to the Northern commanders as obstinate secessionists. More than ever during the spring of 1865, were their homes stripped of almost every comfort. Bedding and clothing, furniture and food were either taken or destroyed; all available animals were carried away; what seed had been planted in the hope of making a fresh start was involved in the general destruction, and no more was obtainable.
Still Friends lived, and though Frances Haydock felt the deep distress of the country she loved
so sincerely, she could not but be relieved by the lifting of her most crushing anxiety, and daily did she give thanks to the loving Father whose commands they were endeavoring to obey and who had protected them amid much danger. Poverty has the one advantage of lessening care, except it be a grinding poverty that makes hourly sustenance a doubt. No horses, no cows were left; for the heifers had finally fallen a prey to a body of hungry foragers, and Molly, after the first shock, was glad, for the poor animals had been going on very small rations for some weeks and wore a pitifully unsatisfied look whenever she or John went to milk them. No corn to hoe, no garden to keep in order, made the duties of the household remarkably light. There were pine cones and light wood to be gathered, and John usually took his gun with him when he made his expeditions to the swamp, for a stray squirrel was a not unwelcome addition to their ordinary fare of hoe-cake and potatoes. Did I say there were no living animals about the place? This was incorrect, for of the two domesticated chickens, one still remained. Its existence was owing to the fancy it evinced for Jingo, a predeliction
warmly reciprocated by that individual, who, when he found John was intending to convert the lone fowl into a stew, begged so hard for its life that it was granted him.
“Jingo, it eats so much cornmeal,” remarked John.
“Laws sake, Massa John, I'll gib it a bit ob what ever yer kin spar me. It reelly don't ’quire haf what as dat triflin’ squirrel gits.” Jingo did not like the squirrel, probably because the small beast regarded him with an unconquerable suspicion, and when perched on the clock, slyly dropped chestnut shells on to Jingo's head as he sat at the foot of the ancient piece of furniture, studying his spelling lesson.
The dreary winter was over and spring was in the air once more. Birds were again making their way from the far South and twittered merrily in and about the great swamp, their gay songs and lively darting among the trees contradicting its claim to the name of “Dismal” which described its darker attributes. Long, irregular lines of wild ducks were seen against the soft blue sky, and frequently John would bring home two or more of these birds that he had been able to
secure as they rested in the hidden pools of the swamp, thinking themselves safe in these secret recesses amid feathery cypresses and thick leaved bay trees.
In North Carolina the March sunshine is often very warm, coaxing out the tiny violets and delicate ferns in early abundance. The Lady Banksia rose dropped the rusty leaves that had clung to it all winter, and displayed little sprays and minute clusters of rose-buds, soon to blossom into luxuriant creamy beauty. Along the edges of the swamp the magnolias were sweet, and the great white buds of the bay had begun to swell. All felt the reviving influences of the lovely weather; the winter had relaxed its hold, and though vehicles were useless for want of horses, those who were good pedestrians found it possible to hold some little intercourse with their neighbors. The meeting-house, unused for the greater part of the winter, was once more opened, and the life-giving sunshine again brightened the old brown walls.
One bright Sabbath, or as Friends term it, “First day,” Rosco Gordon put their horse, which was still allowed to remain in their possession,
into a carry-all of doubtful strength, and drove over to Frances Haydock's, arriving there immediately after their simple breakfast.
“Mrs. Haydock,” he said, “won't you let me carry you to meeting to-day?”
“Thank thee, Rosco, the children and I were thinking of walking over this morning, it is such a beautiful day,” replied the Quakeress, rising from her green-cushioned rocking chair and laying aside the old volume from which she had been reading.
“I think you had better ride, if you do not object, the roads are still wet in some of the low places,” said the young man, noting the sweet repose in every line of Frances Haydock's face and form,—a calm that is rarely seen in any but the people of this religious sect and which probably results from a long habit of absolute trust in the higher Power, and also from their usage of repressing all kinds of violent emotion. The very form of Quaker worship requires considerable self-control and this restraint has been carried so far sometimes, as to repress healthy spiritual life. To Rosco Gordon, with his impulsive Southern nature, the repose he found in this Quaker family
was very attractive, and its influence had much strengthened and steadied him; to-day the whole feeling in the house spoke of the Sabbath, and the clamor of conflict through the land seemed very far away.
“Is Miss Molly about?” he asked presently.
“She and John walked down to the meadow behind the house to look for violets, I believe. If thee will bring them back, I will put on my bonnet in the meanwhile, as thee is so kind as to offer to drive us to meeting.”
“Thank you, I will soon find them,” said Rosco, walking through the kitchen and out across the chip yard, where he tumbled over Jingo sitting motionless behind the woodpile.
“Why, Jingo, what are you doing? I did not know you could sit still five minutes at a time.”
“Sh, sh, Massa Rosco, I'se jest a waitin’ for dis yer chicken to fin’ a place to lay an egg down. Ef she kin show she aint de no ’count critter Massa John say she be, den Jingo ’ll git a bit more hoe-cake ebery mornin’?”
“And how much of it will you give her?” said Rosco, much amused at the boy's eager watch over his chicken as she stepped cautiously about,
deliberately lifting her claws over the chips, and peering first under one log and then under another.
“I'll keep her agoin’, sah, neber you fear; she aint kep’ Jingo's feet warm all de winter to be ’glected now an’ her comb's gitten’ as pinky as Miss Molly's lips, an’ I plumb sartain she's agoin’ ter lay soon's she kin git quiet. Here come Miss Molly and Massa John, reckon I'll tote her to de barn whar she kin ’sperience som res’. She's dun gwine to lay, shuah,” and Jingo picked up his favorite, who was regarding him with outstretched neck and grave eye and disappeared into the barn.
Soon the old carry-all was moving down the avenue, and its occupants enjoyed the balmy air laden with a piny odor given forth by the young buds of spruce and fir.
“There was a rumor last night that Richmond had fallen, Mrs. Haydock,” said Rosco Gordon, turning to address her as she sat quietly behind him; few words had been exchanged as they drove along, for a cast-off knapsack here, and a broken musket there, on the side of the road, continually reminded them of the misery throughout the land, the sorrow of bereaved families in the
North, the double burden of defeat and desolation in the South. The vivid spring sunshine and the melting blue of the sky seemed a mockery above the mourning of the nation.
“And if Richmond has fallen, father will soon be back, won't he?” exclaimed John, his boyish openness proving a relief to the sudden joy in his mother's heart. The thought of seeing her husband once more, brought a flood of feeling too deep to allow of words.
“Could he get through the lines as soon as the Southern army surrenders?” asked Molly.
“I suppose he could,” returned young Gordon, “and I fancy no obstacle will be too great to overcome, if getting here be at all possible.”
“Oh, but it will be good to see him again,” said Molly.
“Indeed it will,” responded Rosco heartily, “and then Mrs. Haydock will not want you, will she, Molly?” he added in a low voice, a suspicion of mischief lighting up his eyes.
“May I lift you down?” he continued, as he drew the horse up to the meeting-house door, “put your foot on the wheel, that step is hardly safe,” and the light active youth lifted the maiden
gently down as with a heightened color in her soft cheek she resigned herself to his strong arm.
“Now, Mrs. Haydock, the old carriage has brought you safely over after all,” said Rosco as he assisted her to alight.
“Yes, thank thee, Rosco; Molly and I will go in and John will wait for thee.”
How different was the assemblage from that which had gathered there four years ago! Then there had been an air of prosperous content about the congregation which spoke of well being and happiness, in spite of the sober mien of the worshippers. Now the gathering was smaller, the clothing was faded, worn and of many fashions; the faces were somewhat thin and pale, and what of brightness they had once contained was now changed to a sad, but calm endurance. Many of the men were away and the absence of news from them filled the hearts of their families and friends with a wearing suspense.
Frances Haydock passed up the uncarpeted aisle and ascending a few steps took her seat in the gallery at the end nearest the men's side, separated just there from the women's section by a single bar of dark wood. Molly seated herself
below with the rest of the women Friends. As she looked up at the gallery where the ministers sat, she could not help contrasting the fair face and dignified aspect of her mother with the bent figure and brown wrinkled face of the ancient Friend sitting next to her; the years had been kind to Frances Haydock, and her loving daughter rejoiced in her sweet looks. Indeed, this bright morning filled Molly's heart with gladness, and as her lover took his seat on the men's side and bent his brown head on the rail in front of him in a different mode of worship from that observed among Friends, she almost reproached herself for her joy.
Silence reigned within the building, and through the windows Molly's eyes wandered to the dull green pine trees so softly outlined against the deep blue sky, from which the sunshine fell in a golden flood. So quietly had the preacher in the men's gallery arisen that his voice, falling with its deliberate accents on the girl's ear, startled her. Leaning forward with both his hands on the polished rail in front of him, he enunciated his opening text:
“ ‘Is there any word from the Lord?’ ” In
the slight pause so often following the first sentence of a Friend's sermon, the heavy door at the opposite end of the house swung open and a tall dignified figure entered, closed the door behind him and walking up the middle aisle, quietly took his seat at the head of the gallery. One look was exchanged between husband and wife; then the habitual self-control reasserted itself, and they sat outwardly unmoved as the speaker proceeded with his address. Molly had half risen, but sat down again with clasped hands and head bent upon them, not moving till the first speaker had finished and taken his seat again. A moment after, James Haydock kneeling, offered up a thanksgiving such as had rarely been heard within those old walls. It seemed to carry his hearers very near the gates of Heaven and a deep solemnity spread over the congregation as they reseated themselves after the closing words. The services were short, and when it was time to break up, instead of shaking hands with the Friend just beside him, as was the usual habit, James Haydock turned and held out both hands to his wife, who responded with a look of such heart-felt gladness that all words were indeed unnecessary.
The eager greetings of friends after meeting were kindly received, but as soon as courtesy permitted, James and Frances Haydock drove homeward in the old carryall, while the three young people sauntered slowly after them along the sandy road, enjoying the beauty of the spring vegetation and the resinous breath of the woods.
“You must have seen more actual warfare than I did, Mr. Haydock,” said Rosco Gordon, after tea, as he sat with the family on the front porch in the soft light of early evening.
“I saw far more than I cared to,” was James Haydock's reply. “I would I could blot out from my mind the remembrance of one battle. It had been raging for hours across a valley, to and fro; the smoke hung in a thick curtain between the hills and through it we could hear the scream of the shells mingled with the shrieks of the wounded and the cry of the agonized horses, all in one terrible confusion. After one desperate charge of cavalry, the colonel of the regiment tried to gather his men together again, and in answer to his bugle call, more than an hundred horses wheeled into line, but the riders that had gone with them into that storm-cloud were not there. After the battle was over, (and on neither side was anything
decisive accomplished) I went down into the field to see if there was anything I could do. It was sickening; heads, arms, limbs in every direction, a mass of slaughtered humanity. I have heard it said that those killed in battle wear a peaceful expression, and I believe that a few hours after death that is the case, for I have seen it myself, but these faces of the newly slain generally bore a look of agony unutterable. The hell they had passed through had stamped its impress on their features. It is a blessed thing that this awful expression does not last; for if those who are sent home to friends and relatives retained it long after death it would be a fearful remembrance to those who loved them.”
“It is curious how the features do change after death,” remarked Rosco, the other listeners saying nothing.
“Entirely,” said the older man, then after a pause he continued. “I helped to carry one young fellow to the hospital tent; he was bearing his suffering bravely, but his hands were clenched and his hair wet with perspiration. He asked the doctor if he could do nothing for him, and when told only death could relieve his pain, he turned
to me with such piteous eyes, ‘In God's mercy pray it may be soon,’ he said, and it was soon. I sat for an hour beside another bright boy, hardly more than a child; he said he was the last of three brothers and his mother was alone; the cries that came from the amputating tent were horrible, for the doctors had not time to give chloroform, or to be very gentle always, and this boy seemed much disturbed, so I carried him down to my own tent, which was further away. He was a good boy, not afraid to go, but grieving about his mother, saying, ‘She gave us all up and it is useless, for the South is getting beaten anyhow.’ He asked me to read to him and I repeated some verses, then he said himself slowly:
“ ‘Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,’ mother told me that; I'm glad I did;’ then his words grew indistinct and I could barely catch the next verse or two, ‘or ever the silver cord be loosed;’ ‘mine is loosening fast,’ he opened his eyes and looked past me out into the darkening twilight, with that far-reaching gaze which once seen is never forgotten; he crossed his hands on his breast and with a long soft breath, was gone. I was alone in my tent.”
No one broke the hush that followed. Molly was crying softly and Frances Haydock felt her husband's hand clasp hers more closely. Presently he arose, saying:
“The evenings are still cool, shall we not go into the house?”
“I must go home, I think,” said Rosco, “mother will be wanting me, though she is wonderfully better. Good-night, Mrs. Haydock, I cannot tell you how glad I am to see Mr. Haydock back again.”
“The Lord has been wonderfully good to us,” she replied. “Praise be to His name.”
“Amen,” responded the young man, reverently, as he stood bare-headed under the cool spring sky.
Richmond had fallen, and James Haydock had been one of the first to pass down through the Great Swamp and return to his family. Finding the home empty on his arrival, with the exception of Jingo, he left his hard ridden horse in the little stable and went at once to the meeting-house as the colored boy directed; he could not wait for the return of his household, and he wished also to return thanks in unison with the rest of
his people for the many blessings of which he and they had been the recipients during the past four years. It may be stated here that although many Christian denominations had been separated in feeling by the bitterness of war, the Friends had kept their brotherly love and confidence unbroken during these years of trial. As soon as the Northern Friends knew of the suffering throughout the Southern meetings, immediate relief was sent down, the Secretary of War promptly giving passes to all who were bearers of this assistance, which we believe was the first aid sent South after the surrender.
Richmond had fallen, General Lee had surrendered, and the war was practically over. Rosco Gordon was too true a Southerner not to feel acutely the defeat of his people, and though dimly recognizing that their triumph would have brought about a more disastrous state of affairs for themselves, than their defeat, and that the abolition of slavery was a thing much to be desired, he could not but suffer keenly from the distress and humiliation that had come upon his beautiful South.
Moreover the cloud of conflict still hovered
above the section of country wherein our story has lain. The army of General Johnson was not far from the neighborhood of Greensboro, and General Sherman with his troops, lay only a day or two's march away, demanding the surrender of the Confederate forces.
While awaiting the answer to this demand, that event occurred which brought almost the deepest sorrow ever permitted to overshadow our nation.
James Haydock and Rosco Gordon had ridden one bright spring morning in April, to the nearest official station, hoping to obtain more definite news than they had yet received concerning the ratification of peace between the long contending sections of the country. The troops now nearest them were of the Federal army, but the Confederates were not very distant, and at any time the tide of battle might roll in one furious destructive wave over their defenceless homes. Arriving at the quarters, they were struck with the expression on the face of the officer in charge, as he read a brief dispatch just handed him. James Haydock approached, asking,
“Is the news not encouraging this morning? Nothing very bad, I trust.”
The officer looked up at him as one dazed; wrath, horror, and grief all delineated in his features; he seemed unable to speak and held out the dispatch with shaking hand to James Haydock, who took it feeling as if some terrible and wholly unforeseen calamity had fallen upon him. The hastily written words: “President Lincoln assassinated last night,” struck him like a heavy blow, and Rosco Gordon, reading over his shoulder, felt the quiver running through the strong frame so close to him.
“Let us go home; there is mourning in the land,” were the only words James Haydock spoke as he turned from the door of the little building.
“You say true, sir,” replied the officer, rising from the chair where he had been seated, “this is a blow struck at the hearts, homes, and honor of our country, such as never yet has fallen upon us. The last act of the national tragedy is yet to be finished.”
If possible the heart of Rosco Gordon was heavier than that of his older companion as they rode home together through the warm sunshine that had suddenly lost its brightness. It seemed to him as if his beloved country had blackened its
honor with a stain that could never be wiped out.
The American people had always seemed to him brave and honorable. Had he erred in this judgment? Had war with all its debasing influences brought them to this? Ah, he, as well as many of us, had to learn that war so deadens the higher nature than treachery, lying, fraud, unfair advantage, evil of all kinds are regarded as at least allowable, and often commendable. It was never proved at whose door lay the murder of this great and beloved man, but it was very surely the outcome of a state of feeling engendered by slavery and its consequent war. Frances Haydock was writing at her husband's desk, when she heard him cross the porch; an indescribable heaviness in his step caused her to look up apprehensively as he entered and the gravity of his face did not reassure her.
“Is there any fresh misfortune?” she queried anxiously.
“A very heavy one, my wife. No, not to us personally,” he quickly added as he saw how pale she became, and then as Molly came in from the kitchen, he told them of the crime unexampled in
American history, that had taken place at the Capitol.
“I said it was not personal, and yet the entire nation will mourn for Abraham Lincoln with an individual feeling that very few men have ever commanded,” said James Haydock, seating himself with down-cast brow in his large arm chair. Rosco Gordon came in and took a seat near Molly as she occupied her usual low stool near the fireplace. In its depths a few logs smoldered slowly away, scarcely needed now that the warm sunshine poured in through the windows.
“Mr. Lincoln's ready personal interest in so many cases we hear of has much endeared him to the people,” said the young man, his eyes resting thoughtfully on the embers.
“Truly, it has,” answered James Haydock, “his high principles, his unwavering courage in carrying them out, his earnest seeking to know the right thing to do, and his tender quaintness in every day intercourse with those constantly around him, have won a reverent affection rarely gained by any public character.” He stopped speaking, and a silence fell on the little group, a hush of sorrow typical of the attitude of the whole
Northern people, under the loss of their much loved president. In countless households, the feeling was as if one of their most valued and honored members had been taken from them, and the greatness of the calamity bewildered the land.
Jingo crept in and curled himself up on Molly's skirts; he had gathered that ’Massa Linkum’ was dead, and accustomed as he had been to think of him as almost divine, this sudden and sorrowful event impressed him with a grief and awe only to be understood by those well acquainted with the feeling almost of worship with which the colored race regarded Mr. Lincoln.
And so the mourners sat in profound grief in many a dwelling that day, and the horror and wrath felt at the North extended in part throughout the South. Black and white wept together, and while feeling the death of their President most keenly, could not but give thanks that such a man had lived.
Here it is time for us to leave the characters of our tale; and indeed, where better can we leave them than under the softening and ennobling influence of a great and unselfish sorrow, but with cheer and brightness near in view?
The threatened storm of battle around our friends finally rolled away, and they felt as if their prayers had been answered when the last of the Southern army surrendered near them without bloodshed.
Our tale is ended; will it accomplish what was intended? Will it show that if others had done what the Quakers did in regard to slavery a century before, the terrible war that finally exterminated this evil, might have been averted? Will it deepen the conviction that war is contrary to the mind of Christ, and prevents the spread of that Gospel which is the tidings of “Peace on earth, good will to men.” And finally, will the proved experience of our Quakers imbue doubting Christians with a fuller belief in our Saviour's power and willingness to protect His followers under any circumstances?
This has been the object of our narrative,—the hope of opening perhaps more clearly some of the gospel truths to those who, knowing many of the privileges under which a Christian may live, have not yet grasped them in their fullness. Once, it is said, when the Bible was almost entirely excluded from France, an open copy of it
was displayed in the window of a certain shop in the gay city of Paris. Day by day groups of artisans going and returning from their various occupations would stop, read what was printed on the open page, and pass on. At last a young workman stepped inside the shop with the request to be allowed to turn the leaf and read the “rest of the story.” Many believers have studied earnestly the truths of Christianity, and yet perchance not known or felt the whole. May we hope that our sketch will lead such to turn the leaf and learn the “rest of the story?” With this in view we leave it, and the reader also, adding only, in the language of Scripture, “When a man's ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
J. D. was conscripted in the autumn of 1862. He, and several other conscripts, were offered bounty money if they would volunteer, but J. D. and two others refused. Many arguments were used to make them accept the offers, but in vain. An officer came forward saying, “Boys, I want to give you some good advice. Take your money and clothing and go along. Obey your officer and do right, or else you will be put under the officers of Col. S., who will have you shot into strings if you don't obey. Just put away your Quaker notions now and do right.” Refusing to obey, he was sent to Richmond, Va., but while on the way there was released through the efforts of Friends and sent home. He was at this time a Methodist, but was soon after united to the Friends.
S. W. L., of Randolph County, N. C., was another of our faithful members. He had been conscripted and sent to Petersburg, Va. Upon his arrival he was ordered to take up arms, but on refusing to do so, he was bucked down for some length of time daily, for a week, and then suspended by the thumbs for an hour and a half.
Being still firm in his refusal to fight, he was ordered to be shot. A little scaffold was prepared on which he was placed, and the men were drawn up in line ready to execute the sentence, when he prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Upon hearing this they lowered their guns, and he was thrust into prison.
In the Spring of 1862, two brothers, N. M. H. and J. D. H. were drafted, arrested and taken to Raleigh. Refusing to bear arms they were kept in close confinement, and deprived of food and drink for four and a half days. They were so patient and gentle that ministers of different denominations came and encouraged them to be faithful. J. D. H. was taken before Gen. D—, who said he would not require him to bear arms, but would set him in front of the battle to stop bullets. They bound heavy logs of wood on his shoulders and marched him about till exhausted, when he was returned to jail. His brother N. M. H. had been enduring a different punishment. Three times they suspended him by his thumbs till his toes barely touched the ground, and kept him in this excruciating position nearly two hours each time. They next tried the bayonet; the orders were to thrust them four inches deep, but though much scarred and pierced it was not done as deeply as they had threatened. One of the men, after thus wounding him, came back to entreat his forgiveness. In the various changes of the next four months some kindness was shown them, but also much cruelty. It was not till seven months had been passed in these fiery ordeals that their release was obtained; another friend thinking
it right to pay their exemption money for them. Their wives and daughters shared these trials, in that they were compelled to toil in the fields to raise food for the winters, till health was sometimes permanently injured.
W. B. H. was arrested in June, 1863; he was ordered to be shot, as he would not obey the order to carry arms, the colonel giving him the choice whether he would die that night or the next morning. W. H. replied that if it was his Heavenly Father's will that he should lay down his life, he would far rather do it than disobey one of His commands; but that if it was not His will, none of them could take his life from him. The officer seemed greatly at a loss and ordered him to the wagon-yard for the night. The next morning he was brought out to be shot, and a squad of men drawn up to fire. W. H. raised his arms in prayer and not a gun was fired, some of the men saying “they could not shoot such a man.” The enraged officer struck at his head, but missed his aim. He then spurred his horse repeatedly to ride over him, but the animal sprang aside each time and he remained unharmed. He was afterward taken ill, captured by the Union cavalry, sent to Fort Delaware as prisoner of war, finally released and, going to the West, remained there till the close of the war.
These brief notes could be multiplied to a large extent, and those interested in the subject can obtain fuller information by application to “North Carolina Yearly Meeting of Friends,” or to “The Christian Arbitration and Peace Society, 310 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa.
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