The Gentleman from Everywhere
James Henry Foss
Part 2 out of 4
etymology of the word, to lead out, to develop the latent energies of
the mind. I had chemical and philosophical apparatus with which to
perform experiments in illustrative teaching of the sciences, and all
were intent upon acquiring thorough, practical education.
When I saw their enthusiasm lagging from want of physical exercise, at
the tap of the bell, we would all rush out upon the beautiful campus
and kick football, or run races until, with glowing faces and
invigorated energies, they would follow me back to our studies,
sometimes into the cheerful academy hall, sometimes under the shade of
the noble oaks, where we would study botany close to nature's heart
amid the songs of birds and the sublime chanting of the tree-tops.
We gave musical and dramatic entertainments, securing ample funds to
decorate the walls of our hall with works of art; we went on rides
together in barges, drank in long draughts of inspiration from the
glorious scenery, and studied geology, practically, like, if not equal
to Hugh Miller, among the rocks and boulders. I was doing good, and
here I should have remained; but the old unrest came back to me, and I
unwisely accepted a much larger salary in teaching in my native county
As soon as I took command of my two hundred boys and girls in B----,
I realized how vast is the contrast between free and unrestricted
educating, and the grind of cramming according to the ironclad rule of
the public school system.
Many children are so crammed with everything that they really
know nothing. In proof of this, read these veritable specimens of
definitions, written by public school children that very year in
another school of this town.
"Stability is the taking care of a stable."
"A mosquito is the child of black and white parents."
"Monastery is the place for monsters."
"Tocsin is something to do with getting drunk."
"Expostulation is to have the smallpox."
"Cannible is two brothers who killed each other in the
"Anatomy is the human body, which consists of three parts,
the head, the chist and the stummick. The head contains the
eyes and brains, if any; the chist contains the lungs and a
piece of the liver. The stummick is devoted to the bowels, of
which there are five, a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes w, and y."
Every teacher was rated according to his ability to secure from his
pupils a high percentage in examinations for promotion.
I grew restless under the restraints imposed by a committee of
incompetents; besides, the minister who was chairman of the Board,
considered a Unitarian to be an infidel, demoralizing the religious
life of the young. I grew tired of his malicious peccadillos, and
accepted a "louder" call from that quaint town where the historic
Lloyd Ireson "with his hord horrt was torrd and futhered und Korrid in
a Kort by the wimmun o' Marrble ed."
Here I had one hundred boys in one room, many of whom went fishing in
summer to get up muscle to lick the schoolmaster in winter. They had
been quite successful in this latter industry for several years in my
school, and at once proceeded to try the same tactics with me. On the
first morning, I was saluted with a volley of iced snow balls as hard
as brickbats, and I at once reciprocated these favors by knocking
down the leader, dragging him into the house, and giving him a sound
cowhiding, and when the vinegar-faced committee came in later I was
busily engaged in teaching their sons to dance to this same useful
These owl-like worthies sat solemnly on the platform for awhile,
saying no more than the ugly fowls they so much resembled, and then
stalked out, leaving me to my fate. A young Hercules fisherman at once
suggested, that the first business in order was to throw me out the
window as they had so many of my predecessors. To this I stoutly
objected, and seizing a big hickory stick window-elevator, I swung it
fiercely close to their heads. This was more than they had bargained
for, and the uproar pro tem subsided.
This was the winter famed in the history of Massachusetts, as
producing the severest snowstorm ever known, and for a week I was
snow-bound in my boarding-house, where my bright-eyed, sweet-faced
cousins were most agreeable substitutes for my plug-ugly pupils.
One day, this same week, the giant ringleader of my assailants who
had moved to baptize me by immersion in the icy waters of the harbor,
himself, while fishing, fell through a hole in the ice and was
drowned. The loss of their mighty general somewhat demoralized his
followers, and _vi et armis_, I managed to survive the fourteen weeks'
term. At the close of the first session of the last day, I threw a
football to my enemies, who, not suspecting my trick, rushed off,
kicking it down the street, and when they returned in the afternoon to
take vengeance upon me for my unprecedented rule over them, I was in
the "hub of the universe." I afterwards learned that my discretion
was the better part of valor, for my ferocious pupils had the
determination and the necessary force to send me unshriven to Davy
I had never believed in the doctrine of reincarnation until I met in
the city, the veritable Judas Iscariot, ready and anxious to sell
anybody and everything for thirty pieces of silver, nickel, copper,
or any old thing he could pick up. This Jew pretended to wish to sell
one-half interest in his commercial school for $2,000. I had some
negotiations with him, but found out, by careful investigation, that
he had already sold several confiding teachers, who ascertained too
late to save their money, that this fraud was collector and treasurer
of all funds of the company, that he required his partner to do all
the drudgery, and that his report always claimed that all collections
had been paid out for expenses.
He reminded me of the legend, that when the devil took Christ to the
top of a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the earth, and
said: "All these things will I give you to fall down and worship
me." Suddenly, the face of a Shylock appeared, saying: "Shentlemen,
peeshness ish peeshness, and if you can't trade, I will take dat
I mention this little incident hoping it may prove a warning to the
unwary who, like myself, may fall among the sharpers of the Modern
Athens. Disgusted with this business experience, and wishing to do
good and get good, I advertised, offering $50 for an acceptable
position as teacher, and I at once received many responses from
thrifty committeemen, and retiring teachers.
I interviewed a clergyman who wanted the reward in advance; but when
the time came for him to deliver the goods, he had suddenly decamped
in the night to avoid a coat of tar and feathers from indignant
parents whose children's morals had been basely ruined by this wolf
in sheep's clothing. Others extended itching palms for the money, but
failed to secure for me the "_sine qua non_."
At last, an impecunious teacher in W----, who was retiring to accept
a "louder" call in Boston, introduced me to his Board as a particular
friend whom he had known for many years, (he had never seen me
before), and vouched for me as one of the greatest of living
When the three doctors, constituting the school board, were about to
give me a searching examination, which doubtless would have floored
me, prearranged calls summoned them to see pretended patients, and on
the mercenary pedagogue's assurance that I was a university graduate,
they hastily signed my commission and I was saved.
I shall always remember my two years' experience in this beautiful
town, with much pleasure and pride. On the opening of the school I
found myself looking upon over one hundred of the finest appearing
boys and girls I had ever beheld, seated in a noble new hall well
equipped with organ and all the apparatus which wealth could procure.
Soon after the opening exercises, the usual trial of the new master
commenced, and a stifling, choking odor threw all into convulsions
of coughing, almost to strangulation. Some one had thrown a large
quantity of cayenne pepper down the register. I quietly opened the
windows, and when the noxious fumes had passed away, the new principal
"I feel sure that the pleasant outward appearance of my family here is
an expression of the inward goodness and honor of you all, and I am
confident that the perpetrator of this disagreeable mischief will take
pride in removing suspicion from his companions by rising in his seat
and apologizing for his thoughtless rudeness."
A fine, manly looking boy at once arose. "Come up here, my friend, and
let us talk it over," I said, and he came and stood by my side. "We
are all brothers and sisters here, and I have no doubt you, Arthur,
will now express your regrets for what you have done." He did so, the
audience applauded, and the incident was closed.
The new master's manner was such a decided contrast to that of his
"knock down and drag out" predecessor, that it captivated his
proteges at the start, and this was the only unpleasant episode in my
delightful intercourse with these charming children.
I established a society called the "Class of Honor," which soon
comprised my entire family. Every pupil who had no marks against him
or her for failures in scholarship or deportment, was decorated with
a blue ribbon, and when he had earned and worn this for one month, he
was presented with a handsome diamond shaped pin on which was engraved
the words "class of honor." They were prouder of this decoration than
ever were the imperial guard of Napoleon of the Cross of the Legion.
If a pupil failed on some point in recitation, he could retrieve
himself by reciting it correctly later with extra information on the
point, gathered from the reference books, and thus he was saved
from humiliation and discouragement, and at the same time, he was
stimulated to making independent researches in the school and public
libraries. Each class of honor pupil could whisper, go out, or go to
the blackboards to draw or cipher without asking permission. The
high sense of honor was thus developed which is so essential to a
We had a system of light gymnastics which, with military drill, gave
grace and erectness to the carriage, and every Friday afternoon,
the large hall was crowded with the parents to enjoy the singing,
declamations, gymnastics, dramatics, and drawing exercises, and all
went merry as a marriage bell.
My salary was raised voluntarily every six months; I enjoyed their
games with them in our ample playgrounds. We often, on holidays,
roamed the woods and seashore together; I often dined with them in
their homes, and at picnics; on all public occasions I was one of the
principal speakers, and my life was an ideal one in all respects save
one. For some cause the air of the valley, too often impregnated
with moisture from the sluggish Abajona, kept my throat in an almost
chronic state of irritation, and too frequently for days at a time,
I could hardly speak above a whisper. Had it not been for this one
serious handicap, I think I would gladly have remained there for life.
I kept a saddle horse, and often cantered twenty miles to my father's
house, and my boat on the lake furnished many a pleasant sail for
myself and pupils.
One incident shows the appreciation of my pupils and neighbors for my
efforts in their behalf. During the first campaign of General Grant
for the presidency, many of my pupils and I joined the W--Battalion of
uniformed and torch bearing "Tanners." We marched to the city as an
escort for speakers at a Republican rally. When the hoodlums smashed
our lanterns with rocks, our captain, the son of a distinguished
statesman, retreated; but I lost my head and charged the rioters,
using my torch handle vigorously; I was cut off from my company of
which I was lieutenant, and captured by the Democrats. As soon as my
men realized this, they rushed upon my captors _en masse_; many
heads were broken, but I was rescued and carried to the train on the
shoulders of my heroic defenders.
If my foresight had been half so good as my hindsight, I would never
have left W----, but the tempter came in the form of an offer of a
much larger salary from N----, and I foolishly accepted.
The change from W--to N----, was like that from breezy, sunny green
fields, where wild birds sang their free, joyous songs, and where wild
flowers bloomed free as air exhaling their sweet perfumes, to the
suffocating air of a hothouse where the birds drooped in cages and
where the few flowers were forced into existence by steam heat and
unsavory fertilizers. In the former the people were social, natural
and free from the trammels of tyrannical fashions; in the latter they
were cold, distant, and valued you according to the size of your bank
account and the number of your horses and servants. In the one the
teachers were educators, free to develop superior methods along their
own original lines; in the other they were mere machines to carry out
the ironclad rules of the opinionated precedent-hunting school board.
In the former all seemed like one great family sympathizing and
loving; in the latter the newly-rich set the pace of ignoble luxury
and display; while the others aped their ways which led many to
bankruptcy, poverty, and misery. In the one you were free from all
social ostracism if you worshipped according to the dictates of your
own conscience; in the other you were ignored and disliked unless you
attended and contributed liberally for the support of the palatial
I was early told that I would fail if I persisted in attending the
little Unitarian church; but I preferred failure to hypocrisy, and
would not sell my birthright of conscience for a mess of pottage.
Two of my ancient, sour-faced assistants were bigoted members of the
fashionable church, and at once set me down as a corruptor of youth
because I was an advocate of the liberal faith. The venomous spite of
one of these forcibly suggested the spirit of the inquisition, and one
day she found her blackboard decorated with the following truthful
poem, suggested by her spirit and the first syllable of her name:
"Old Aunt Dunk
Is a mean old skunk."
She flew into a furious rage, declared that some Unitarian must have
perpetrated this insult, and that I must find the culprit.
She never forgave me because I failed to do so, and at her urgent
solicitation the minister, after great exertion, secured a few
signatures to a petition for my discharge on the plea that I chewed
tobacco and expectorated on the floor in the presence of my class.
As I easily proved that I never chewed tobacco, and as my patrons
presented an overwhelming protest, the prayer of the petitioners was
unanimously refused by the school board.
It would have been laughable had it not been so serious and pitiful,
to see the frantic attempts of the poor in this town to keep up
appearances, and counterfeit the style of those who had grown rich by
cheating widows and orphans in bucket shops and stock gambling. The
little minnows put on all the snobbish airs of the whales who had
grown so large by devouring all the small fish in their business seas.
One pillar of the church, who was a cashier, ruined his bank by
stealing money to enable him, for a while, to live in an elegant house
and support servants, equipages, silks and diamonds galore. For a time
he was the idol of the town, while he gave costly dinners and showered
his ill-gotten gains to embellish his favorite temple, and to build a
tower upon it to look down in contempt upon all the lesser shrines.
He barely escaped the sheriff at night-time, and fled beyond the seas,
leaving his showy family to poverty and the ill-concealed derision of
those who worshipped them while they were supposed to be rich.
Such as these made life very uncomfortable for me, and at the end of
my year, I left in disgust; never again to resume the profession in
which I had spent so many years of my somewhat checkered existence.
My life seemed a failure; I reflected long upon the question of the
Psalmist, "What is man?" and here are the answers which I culled from
many thoughtful poets, whose names are appended to their several
In this grand wheel, the world, we're spokes made all;--
He who climbs high, endangers many a fall;--(_Chaucer_.)
A passing gleam called life is o'er us thrown,--(_Story_.)
It glimmers, like a meteor, and is gone.--(_Rogers_.)
To-morrow's sun to thee may never rise--(_Congreve_.)
The flower that smiles to-day, to-morrow dies--(_Shelly_.)
And what do we, by all our bustle gain?--(_Pomfret_.)
A drop of pleasure in a sea of pain.--(_Tupper_.)
Tired of beliefs, we dread to live without;--(_Holmes_.)
Yet who knows most, the more he knows to doubt.--(_Daniel_.)
Princes and lords are but the breath of kings.--(_Burns_.)
And trifles make the sum of human things.--(_More_.)
If troubles overtake thee, do not wail;--(_Herbert_.)
Our thoughts are boundless, though our frames are
The fiercest agonies have shortest reign;--(_Bryant_.)
Great sorrows have no leisure to complain.--(_Gaffe_.)
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,--(_Shakespeare_.)
For we the same are that our sires have been;--(_Knox_.)
Nor is a true soul ever born for naught,--(_Lowell_.)
Yet millions never think a noble thought.--(_Bailey_.)
Good actions crown themselves with lasting bays,--(_Heath_.)
And God fulfils Himself in many ways.--(_Tennyson_.)
The world's a wood in which all lose their way--(_Buckingham_.)
A fair where thousands meet, but none can stay;--(_Fawkes_.)
To sport their season, and be seen no more,--(_Cowper_.)
Till tired they sleep, and life's poor play is o'er.--(_Pope_.)
ADVENTURES IN MOSQUITO-LAND.
At the close of the school in July, 1870, a friend of mine, Doctor
B----, of Boston, and I, attracted by the alluring prospectus of a
new town near Plymouth, North Carolina, visited that place via the
Merchant's and Miner's steamship line.
I wrote an account of this pleasure excursion, which was widely copied
by northern newspapers in which I figured as the professor and he as
the doctor, while both of us combined were called the "Shoo-Fly
Club." I quote some extracts from the description of this remarkable
"On the early morning after our arrival in the Southland, doctor and
professor, after a brief sojourn in the arms of Morpheus, awoke to a
contest which was enough to daunt the stoutest heart.
"Mosquitoes to the right of them, mosquitoes to the left of them,
black flies above them, black flies beneath them, buzzed and stabbed
with a vengeance. We lay under our netting appalled at the profanity
and ferocity of our foes, caught in a trap from which there seemed
to be no escape. The breakfast-bell rang and rang, but we dared not
venture out among our bloodthirsty foes, for an array of bristling
bayonets was thrust through the bars long enough to hang our clothes
on, and fierce enough to suck every drop of blood from our trembling
limbs, and our only consolation was that our invariable diet of 'hog
and hominy' had so reduced the vital fluid, that our tormentors would
starve though we were slain.
"At length a brilliant thought flashed across the mind of the doctor.
'The shoo-fly--the shoo-fly,' said he; 'why didn't we think of that?
and out he went for his carpetbag, pulled out some suspicious looking
bottles labeled with the mystic words, and made for the bed, entirely
covered with a ferocious cloud of the aforesaid 'skeeters' and flies
stabbing him for dear life. We then proceeded to anoint our bodies
with this preparation, which the doctor declared to be a panacea for
all human ills; then completely clad in our armor, we sallied forth
to the crusade. Down came the fiends; they cared not for 'shoo-fly,'
cared not for blows, and our visions of fortunes to be realized from
our new discovery vanished away, but not so our tormentors.
"Regardless of Mrs. Grundy, regardless of everything save life, the
professor fled, down over the stairs he fled, pants and unmentionables
flying in the air, to the astonishment of the contraband servant
girls, for the bath-house--here at length plunged beneath the flood he
found relief. After copious ablutions the professor went back for his
friend, but the valiant doctor had retreated behind the bars, resolved
there to starve rather than again to face his foes.
"After much parleying the doctor's desire for hog and hominy overcame
all his fears, and the club marched to breakfast. Here two servant
girls armed with long fans, fought a cloud of the famished varmints,
while the club swallowed hoe cake covered with a copious lather of the
flies of the season. At length our appetites or rather we ourselves,
were conquered, and retired in disgust, leaving our foes to bury their
dead and divide the spoils of war.
"Our host, who is a true gentleman from Pennsylvania, then ordered the
darkies to harness the span. After the inevitable delays which always
attend everything that the fifteenth amendments have undertaken to do,
we rode out to view the country; and we now congratulated ourselves
that our troubles were at an end, but they had but just commenced.
Our host had a lame hand, and the professor volunteered to drive;
our friends, the varmints, now confined their kind attentions almost
exclusively to the horses, which they butchered unmercifully. Oh, such
roads! Boys of New England, if you sigh for 'sunny' North Carolina,
go; go by all means, and you will return satisfied that old
Massachusetts, with all its east winds is a paradise compared with
what we saw in the 'old North State,' or in the 'Old Dominion.'
"But to our journey. The horses floundered through quagmires covered
in some places with logs, which toss and tumble you till every bone
aches, floundered and swam through streams reeking with scum from
the cypress swamps; the roads are about six inches wider than your
carriage, and the professor found himself obliged to avoid the sharp
corners of fences, on either side the deep ditches on whose very edge
ran the wheels; to urge his horses over stumps and fallen trees; to
whip them over long snouts of prostrate pigs who refused to budge an
inch; to jump them over chasms running dark and deep across his path
and to spur them down sharp, perpendicular pitches which threatened to
break every bone in his body.
"Here and there we saw a few logs piled up together, flanked by mud
and sticks, and dignified by the name of house; the naked piccaninnies
rolled in the dust, and the poor-white scowled as he lifted his hat,
while we worried our miserable way along.
"Now, by the departure of our friend to look after his business, the
doctor and the professor were thrown upon their own resources for
enjoyment. After shooting at the wild pigs for a while, finding there
was great danger of their being melted down into their boots, they
threw off their clothes, and regardless of moccasins, regardless of
spiders and the whole race of poisonous vermin, they plunged to their
necks into the ditch by the roadside. For long weary hours we wallowed
till the welcome form of our host appeared, and we recommenced the
pitching and stumbling of the dangerous return voyage of this, our
"For miles the tall, slender pine and cypress-trees festooned with
moss and enormous Scuppernong grape-vines, were unbroken by a single
clearing or a single shanty. The Scuppernong grapes, by the way, are a
great luxury; from these are made a wine equal to anything that can be
found (we believe) in the world. One vine is found on Roanoke Island,
which is two miles in length, covers several acres of land, and was
planted by Sir Walter Raleigh's expedition, centuries ago. For miles
that afternoon, we wandered up and down the country seeking for water
fit to drink and finding none; looking at the droves of rollicking
darkies, making collections of souvenirs, gazing at the good-looking
crops of corn, cotton, sweet potatoes, and still fighting the
aborigines, the flies.
"We have seen some toothsome things in the South, some beautiful
scenes, but at this season of the year, at least, the flies and
mosquitoes ruined all as thoroughly as the harpies of olden times
defiled the feast of the wandering Trojans.
"The great gala-day of Jamesville has dawned, to-day the great Norfolk
steamer honors the town with its presence; everybody (and some more)
comes down to the wharf to see the wonderful sight. Here are groups of
'F.F.'s' puffing their long pipes and talking the everlasting 'd--n
nigger'; there are crowds of 'fifteenth amendments' laughing
and frolicking like children, and here, too, the flea-bitten,
mosquito-stabbed, black-fly tortured Doctor B. and Professor F.,
looking northward as the pilgrim to his loved and far-off Mecca. A
scream, a hurrah, a waving of handkerchiefs, and away we go out of the
howling wilderness, all that is left of us, and but little indeed that
"The _Astoria_, is but a wretched tub, and we crawl along at the rate
of four or five miles per hour, halting here and there to avoid the
wrecks of the war, panting for breath, longing, 'as the heart panteth
for the water-brook,' to see once more the shores of our beloved New
England. Never will this excruciating sail be forgotten. All day--all
night, for long, long, weary hours, the wretched little steamer
groaned and screamed its melancholy way over the yellow, nasty
"Hour after hour we sat gazing at the tall cypress-trees and the long
trailing mosses, looking like the pale sickly shrouds enveloping a
dead and ruined world. Here and there we saw huge nests of the
size and shape of a barrel, and near, on the ruined branch of a
lightning-struck tree, perched on its topmost bough, the great bald
eagle of the South, keeping his sleepless watch and ward, while the
wife-bird tended the household gods below. Deadly moccasins and
huge turtles lay listless in the sun, and hundreds of bushels of
blackberries were wasting their sweetness on the desert air. Now and
then there came to us like an inspiration from heaven the ecstatic
music of the mockingbird, carrying shame and despair to the breasts of
all the other warblers of the aerial choir.
"Nothing could be more inspiring than the notes of this charming
singer, as we listened to them here amid these melancholy swamps
exhaling the sickly miasma beneath this blighting sun, with not a
breath of air to lift the blood red banners of the trumpet creepers,
or to cool the fevered brow. Melancholy waitings are heard from the
swamps, and the waves in parting, look like fields of fire. The winds
come to us, but with them no refreshing, for they came over mile after
mile of suffocating, reeking lagoons, stifling with the hot breath of
"Every now and then the Rip Van Winkle machinery breaks down, and for
hours we are motionless, listening per force to the terrific cursing
and pounding in the Vulcanic realms below. At length the sun, not like
the rosy-fingered Aurora, daughter of the dawn, but like a huge red
monster intent on devouring the world, shoots at us his blighting,
withering lances of scorching heat. We touch once more at Plymouth,
which greets us with its usual entertainment of murderous fleas,
death-dealing watermelons and chain-lightning whiskey. Our ten minute
touch here lengthened into three horrid sweltering hours owing to
the fact, that the intelligent contrabands were paid by the hour for
'toting' the cargo; but off we are at last, thank heaven, and at
length we enter the great canal leading to the North River of Norfolk.
"With chat and jest we were worrying away the leaden-winged hours,
when suddenly thug, splash, and like a huge turtle we were floundering
in the mud. 'No moving,' said the captain, 'till the tide comes up;'
and so for three mortal hours we lay stuck in the mud at the edge of
the great dismal swamp of Virginia. 'Ah,' said the mate, 'there is the
scene of many a horror, there the nigger was torn limb from limb by
the bloodhounds, there the runaway slave chose to endure starvation
and death amid deadly snakes and miasma rather than comfort in
bondage; there I myself saw crowds of black men swinging from limb to
limb like monkeys over reeking scums to their fever-haunted dens to
escape the lash.'
"Thus was the story of Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe verified by one of
Virginia's own sons. All the fearful word paintings of Dred floated
again before our mental vision, and we thanked God that the old horror
of slavery is passed, and that the old flag now floats indeed 'o'er
the land of the free and the home of the brave.'
"But these hours of waiting, like all things earthly, at length had
their end, and just as the moon gilded the cypress-trees with golden
glory, the wheels began to move and we again worried our tortuous way
up the North River. 'Ah,' said the melancholy-looking man who had
been long gazing in silence at the sad waves below, 'alas, here I am,
friendless and alone in this wretched country, peddling beeswax
and eggs for hog and hominy, chills and fever; but I was once a
schoolmaster with $1,200 a year, down in Connecticut; wine and women
did it. But,' said he, 'I'll be rich yet--I've got it--I've discovered
perpetual motion, and the world will honor me yet.'
"'Wish you would apply it to this old tub at once,' said the
professor; and the forlorn peddler went his way to cherish visions
of coming glory. Just then we were electrified by a cheer from the
doctor, as the lights of Norfolk flashed over this splendid harbor,
yet to float the commerce of a great city.
"We bade farewell without a single regret to the old tub _Astoria_,
and entered the narrow streets, reeking with the horrors of a thousand
and one stenches, stumbling over the prostrate forms of sleeping
negroes to the hotel, where we indulged once more in the luxury of a
bath, which the nasty water of North Carolina had forbidden for many
weary days. Suddenly the city was aroused by the roll of drums and the
shouts of hundreds, calling to a mass meeting in Court House Square.
Thither we followed the crowd, listening for awhile to the blatant
Southern orators roaring about the future greatness of the 'Mother of
Presidents,' deploring the reign of carpet-baggers and calling for a
white man's government amidst the shouts of the great unwashed; while
the sons of Ham looked silently and sullenly on.
"We gladly responded to the steamer's shrill call and sailed away to
our home in the great and glorious North."
I gladly returned, like a tired child, to the kindly faces and hearty
greetings of my loving and much loved father, mother, brothers, green
fields, and all the beautiful children of summer.
"Born where the night owl hooted to the stars,
Cradled where sunshine crept through leafy bars;
Reared where wild roses bloomed most fair,
And songs of meadow larks made glad the summer air,
"Each dainty zephyr whispers follow me,
Ten thousand leaflets beckon from each tree;
All say, 'why give a life to longings vain?
Leave fame and gold: come home: come home again.'
"I hear the forest murmuring 'he has come'
A feathered chorus' joyous welcome home;
Each flower that nods a greeting seems a part
Of nature's welcome back to nature's heart."
The old home was much changed, and for the better. With much patient
toil, the unsightly rocks and stumps had been removed from the fields
which sloped gracefully to the little river and were covered with
tall, waving, luxuriant grasses, starred with buttercups, clover, and
daisies. The dilapidated house and barn had given place to modern
buildings; apple, pear, and peach-trees, covered with fragrant
blossoms were substituted for their decayed and skeleton prototypes;
the narrow, crooked, muddy lane, where horses and wagons had struggled
through the knee-deep, and often hub-deep sticky clay, had become a
firm and fairly straight highway.
My house in the tree on the hilltop, where I had often rehearsed my
orations and sermons in such stentorian tones that the amazed cows
lifted their tails on high and took to their heels, welcomed me back
embowered in leafy new-grown branches.
My second brother, realizing that as "unto the bow the cord is, as
unto the child the mother, so unto man the woman is--useless one
without the other," had taken unto himself a good wife, the daughter
of the deacon, our next neighbor. My mother thus had a much needed
helper, as their farms, like their owners, were joined in wedlock.
[Illustration: I Rehearsed My Orations with Startling Effect.]
The worthy deacon and my deeply religious father alternately led the
family devotions, and peace and comfort prevailed. The mowing machine,
horse-hoe, corn-planter and power-rake dispensed with the drudgery of
the scythe and back-breaking hand tools. A protective tariff had set
the mill wheels rolling in the neighboring cities, thus furnishing
excellent markets for all the products of the farm. The sky-scraping
shoe manufactories, where men, like automatons, delved night and day
for a few weeks and then leaving them to semi-starvation for the rest
of the year, had not yet arrived.
One of my brothers had, like most of the farmers of that day, his
little shop where in winter he coined a few hundred dollars
making boots and shoes, and where I earned many precious pennies,
blackballing the edges and occasionally pegging by hand, all of which
is now done by machinery.
We could now afford occasional holidays, when we all gaily sailed down
the river, dug clams, caught lobsters in nets, regaled ourselves with
toothsome chowders, broils and stews in the open air, and had many
rollicking good times swimming in the breakers, frolicking, old and
young, like children. We pitched our tents on old Bar Island, slept on
the fragrant hay at night, played ball, and renewed our youth inhaling
deep draughts of the salty wind which bloweth in from the sea.
When sailing home one day with a wet sheet, a flowing main, and a
breeze following far abaft, we espied a boat submerged to the gunwhale
floating out to sea. Throwing our yacht up into the wind, we took the
craft in tow to the landing, and were surprised and delighted beyond
measure to find it nearly half full of fine large lobsters, held
there by a wire netting. For weeks we and all the neighbors held high
carnival boiling and eating the luscious crustaceans.
We had much merriment one day on a fishing excursion at the expense
of a parsimonious member of our crew. At first he alone pulled in the
much prized tomcods and flounders. "Well," said he, "I think we better
go in, each one for himself." "All right," was the reply, but soon
stingy ceased to catch any, while the rest of us pulled in the fish as
fast as we could throw the hooks. Mr. Greedy looked very solemn, and
at last, unable to repress his selfishness longer, shouted: "I think
we better share all alike!" "Too late," was the chorus, and while he
carried home but a beggarly string, the rest rejoiced in our great
These seem like little incidents, light as airy nothings, but they
come back to memory in the twilight of life when other and greater
events are all forgotten.
When the crops were all harvested, and the winds and snows of winter
shut me out from my woodland, river, and seashore haunts, I grew weary
of the monotony of the indoor country life, and once more went to the
city of Boston in the endless quest of the unattainable.
Restless as the sea, we are never satisfied this side the stars; but
we are all looking forward to that sweet by and by, "as the hart
panteth for the water brook."
I shall be satisfied, not here, not here
Not where the sparkling waters fade into mocking
sands as we draw near,
Where in the wilderness each footstep falters,
I shall be satisfied; but, oh, not here.
Not here, where every dream of bliss deceives us,
Where the worn spirit never finds its goal,
But haunted ever by thoughts that grieve us,
Across our souls floods of bitter memories roll.
Satisfied, satisfied, the soul's vague longing,
The aching void, which nothing earthly fills,
Oh, what desires upon my mind are thronging,
As my eyes turn upward to the heavenly hills!
Shall they be satisfied, the spirit's yearning,
For sweet communion with kindred minds?
The silent love that here meets no returning,
The inspiration, which no language finds?
There is a land, where every pulse is thrilling,
With rapture, earth's sojourners may not know,
Where heaven's repose the weary heart is stilling,
And peacefully earth's storm-tossed currents flow.
Far out of sight, while yet the flesh enfolds us,
Lies that fair country, where our hearts abide,
And, of its bliss, naught more wondrous is told us,
Than these few words, I shall be satisfied.
FROM PHILISTINE TO BENEDICT AND A HONEYMOON.
The fates, who lead the willing-and drive the unwilling, guided me to
the old time firm of B. & T. publishers. They were overwhelmed with
applications from the great army of the impecunious, and did not wish
to pay any more salaries; but "mercy tempers the blast to the shorn
lamb," and they persuaded me, by a tender of large profits on their
Worcester's Dictionaries, to strike out on my own hook and endeavor
to induce a reluctant public to buy these instead of the popular
dictionaries written by "Noah Webster who came over in the ark."
The special prices granted by the publishers enabled me to undersell
the wholesalers, and by securing their adoption as regular text-books
by school boards, I made more money than ever before in my life,
sometimes from $25 to $100 per day, consequently the firm finding I
was filling the markets and my own pockets so that they had no sales
at regular prices, hired me at a liberal salary as representative of
all their publications.
In this business I won my "double stars," although the competition was
intense. I often found as many as twenty agents at the same time and
in the same town, log-rolling with school committees for the adoption
of their books, the merits of the publications "cut but little ice."
Nearly every school official "had his price," wanting to know what
there was in his vote for him, and the agent who best concealed the
bribery hook by dining and wining teachers and committeemen, filling
their libraries with complimentary books and their pockets with secret
commissions, "caught the most fish."
When among Romans, I was, much to my disgust, obliged to do as
Romans did. I would often go to cities where my opponent's readers or
arithmetics had been adopted the night before, point out the defects
of rival publications, give an unabridged dictionary to each official,
offer a ten per cent. commission to the "king pin," take the board in
a hack to their headquarters, secure a reconsideration, telegraph for
my books, and the next day with express wagons and helpers, put our
readers into every school in the town.
This was sharp practice, prices were cut, until finally, we gave new
books in even exchange for old ones, trusting to future sales to
reimburse us, but when they needed another supply, they would swap
even with another publisher, so that our bread cast upon the waters
We often secured "louder calls" for influential teachers and clergymen
in reciprocation for their votes, bought anything they had to sell at
their own prices until many publishers became bankrupt; the big fish
swallowing the little ones, and then came the survival of the longest
One evening, after my day's work in the city of G--was ended, being
lonesome in my hotel, I thought of a family residing there who had a
summer residence in R----, and concluded to renew my acquaintance with
the eldest daughter with whom I had enjoyed many rides and sails, and
to whom I had quoted many romantic poems the previous season.
With fear and trembling, for I was always a bashful youth, I rang the
door bell, and was ushered into the parlor where I caught my first
glimpse of a fair-haired, rosy-cheeked, graceful younger sister to
whom, at a glance, I knew I was married in heaven.
Whence came that vital spark blending our souls in one? Had we lived
and loved on some fairer shore? Who can tell? Had our spirits been
wandering through the universe millions of years seeking each the
other, nor finding rest until we met? Only the angels know.
All we knew and all we seemed to care to know was that at last each
had found the "alter ego" for which it pined. There were no others
on earth--father, mother, sister, brothers, came and went almost
unheeded. Strange as it may seem, on this evening of our first
meeting, we told each other the old, old story, first told in Eden,
reiterated by millions since, and will continue to be rehearsed until
Gabriel through his trumpet sounds the final love song to the world.
With favoring winds, o'er sunlit seas,
We sailed for the Hesperides,
The land where golden apples grow;
But that, ah that was long ago.
How far, since then, the ocean streams
Have swept us from that land of dreams,
That land of fiction and of truth,
The lost Atlantis of our youth.
Ultima Thule, utmost isle,
Here in thy harbors for a while,
We lower our sails; awhile we rest
From the unceasing, endless quest.
For a long time I had divided homes and a divided heart, one at the
old home with the old folks, the other in the city by the sea.
In our new-born and first-born enthusiasm, we applied to Mary's
parents for an early union of hands as well as hearts; but they wisely
insisted upon a year's interim, promising that, if at the end of this
trial time our ardor had not cooled, they and the minister would
"bless you my children," and our hearts should beat as one
The course of true love never did run smooth, and when the claiming
day arrived, Mary's mother told me that she had been credibly informed
that another girl had a prior claim to my promised hand. I protested
in vain, and, as the daughter was invisible, I left the house in a
A week, which seemed like a century, passed by on leaden wings in
which I strove to drown my sorrows in the "flowing bowl" of hard work,
and foolish declarations that "I didn't care"; then came a kind letter
from Alderman B----, gracefully apologizing for his wife's mistaken
assertions, stating that "Mary was giving them no peace day or night,"
and inviting me to call at my earliest convenience.
The very next train took me to the old familiar trysting-place, once
more the white-winged dove of peace brooded over the B--mansion,
and we all, especially the parents, fully realized that in order to
appreciate heaven we must have at least seven days of hell.
Shortly after, at the home of the bride's parents, we twain were made
one in the presence of numerous friends and presents; the old shoes
and rice were duly showered, and we were off for a month's tour, and a
During this wedding tour, at the request of my employers, I combined
business with pleasure, the firm generously paying all our expenses,
and continuing my salary.
We visited many cities, greatly enjoying their varied attractions; but
the business part of our journey, which was collecting large sums of
money due for books, was not particularly delightful, as the banks had
all suspended specie payments as a result of the "green back craze,"
and I was often obliged to resort to legal measures and attachments of
property, to secure from reluctant book sellers the sums long overdue.
At one hotel we met with an adventure which well-nigh proved serious.
I was awakened at night by the flash from a bull's eye lantern, a
sense of suffocation and a scream from my wife. A masked burglar
was before me, pressing to my face a handkerchief saturated with
chloroform, and endeavoring to take from under the mattress a large
sum of money which I had collected the day before.
"No noise," said he, "your money or your life."
"All right," said I quietly, "I'll get it for you." He stepped back a
pace, I quickly pulled from under the pillow my self-cocking revolver,
and fired in rapid succession.
His pistol exploded at nearly the same time, he dropped to the floor,
his light vanished, and for a time all was darkness and suspense. I
expected another bullet any moment, and seeing nothing to fire at
myself, feared to jump from the bed lest I be seized by invisible
hands of the desperate villain. Then came shouts and pounding upon
the door by neighbors aroused by the uproar. Encouraged by the
reinforcements, I struck a light but the ruffian had escaped through
the open window on to a piazza roof, thence by a pillar to the ground.
Then we were besieged by excited inquirers, and the rosy-fingered
Aurora, daughter of the dawn, appeared before the calm which succeeded
Shortly after our return from this journey, a great light went out on
earth to shine in heaven. My wife's father suddenly left the body,--he
did not die, for
There is no death, what seems so is transition,
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life Elysian,
Whose portal we call death.
Alderman B---- was a gentleman of the old school, a loving father, a
very successful business man, managing marine railways, ship-building
and repairing, as well as grain mills. We missed him sadly; but were
consoled by the reflection that our great loss was his eternal gain.
My eldest brother, and two of my brother Mark's children, at about
this time crossed the same bright river and rested under the shade of
the celestial trees.
Myself and wife had intended to live in G----, but as her father was
gone, and as she had formed a strong mutual attachment for my family,
my wife the following summer took much pleasure in building a handsome
cottage nearly opposite my father's house, and on a beautiful lot of
land given us by my brother. We formed a literary and musical club,
which met weekly at our house, making it the social centre of the
I was elected chairman of the school committee, and proceeded
vigorously in a crusade against ignorance; but soon found that
the life of a reformer is crowned with more thorns than roses, a
thousandfold! I removed incompetent teachers who, by their silly
question and answer methods, were producing parrots--not scholars.
On one occasion, when I substituted a trained normal school graduate
for a useless dancing doll who had made herself popular by flattering
parents and coddling their children, all pupils were withdrawn from
the school. I told the new teacher to ring the bell, take in sewing
if she wished, and draw her salary even if she was left alone in her
glory; then I notified the parents that unless they at once sent their
children to the school, I should have the pupils arrested for truancy,
and themselves fined for violating the laws of the state. Moral
suasion had failed; but the strong arm of the law prevailed, and they
soon acknowledged that the new instruction was the best they had ever
had in the district.
Much time had hitherto been worse than wasted by cramming the minds
with the jaw-breaking names of unimportant rivers, mountains,
descriptions of all the frog ponds in Ethiopia, and other useless
trash in the so-called geographies; in memorizing the obsolete
rules of duodecimals, compound proportion, etc., in the arithmetic;
long-winded, unpractical rules for grammar, etc.
I issued a circular eliminating this trash from the course of study,
substituting the practical short cuts of modern business principles,
and in this, also, I met with opposition from the "moss-backs," who
insisted that what they had learned in the year one was good enough
for their children; they wanted no "new-fangled" notions.
They reminded me of the way-back-hard-shell preacher whose hymn book
had been stuffed with profane poems by some lewd fellows of the baser
sort. He always opened at random and, trusting to divine guidance,
read the first hymn that presented itself; he commenced: "We will sing
together the one thousand three hundred and forty 'leventh hime."
"'All around the cobbler's bench the monkey chased the
He was amazed; the congregation was dumbfounded. Taking off his
spectacles, wiping them carefully, he put them on his nose again,
gazed at the book in consternation: "Well," said he, "I never seed
that hime in this yer hime-book before; but the Lord put it in, and
we'll sing it whir or no," and proceeded:
"'The preacher kissed the cobbler's wife, pop goes the weasel.'"
As I have said before, it requires a surgical operation to get
progressive ideas through our thick heads; but the knife was used
freely by me, and I had the satisfaction as well as the odium of
infusing much young blood into the worn out educational body during my
two years' service as school superintendent in this town.
A few of us wasted our money in building a new church, dedicated to
the teaching of the advanced thoughts of the liberal faith; but the
people were joined to their idols, and it is now deserted, though the
"little leaven has largely leavened the whole lump" of the ancient
hell fire theology.
It is very, very hard to endure the slings and arrows of the jealous
and envious for whose good you are toiling; to be slandered and
reviled by your neighbors whose feeble intellects fail to appreciate
your strenuous efforts to push forward the car of progress in their
midst; but the consolations expressed in this poem bring balm to every
"I know as my life grows older,
And mine eyes have clearer sight,
That under each rank wrong, somewhere,
There lies the root of right.
That each sorrow has its purpose
By the suffering oft unguessed;
But as sure as the sun brings morning,
Whatever is, is best.
"I know that each sinful action,
As sure as the night brings shade,
Is some time, somewhere punished,
Though the hour be long delayed.
I know that the soul is aided
Sometimes, by the heart's unrest,
And to grow, means often to suffer;
But whatever is, is best.
"I know there are no errors
In the great eternal plan,
And all things work together
For the final good of man.
And I know when my soul speeds onward
In the grand eternal quest,
I shall say, as I look earthward,
Whatever is, is best."
THE ANGELS OF LIFE AND DEATH.
By and by unwonted silence and anxiety reigned in our house. The
family doctor remained all night, then a faint cry was heard, and
little baby May came into this world of ours,
"The gates of heaven were left ajar;
With clasping hands and dreamy eyes,
Wandering out of paradise,
She saw this planet, like a star;
We felt we had a link between
This real world and that unseen."
These beautiful lines of one of the sweetest of earth's singers, came
to us like a new revelation at the advent of our first-born, as also
those other immortal words--
"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting,
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar.
Not in entire forgetfulness
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From heaven, which is our home."
Our little vocalist commenced rehearsing for her chosen profession the
very minute that she first saw the light, and she certainly continued
the development of her lungs with marvelous persistency. Then her
numerous grandparents, uncles, and aunts all vied with each other in
petting and spoiling the one pet lamb of the several families, and she
basked in the sunshine of unlimited affection.
A few bright years sped by, all roseate with love, prosperity and
contentment in this happy valley. Then two little cherubs, just alike
as "two peas in a pod" came to us at dawn of day, like twin rays
from the rising sun, their blue eyes beaming with smiles which have
continued ever since.
We named them Ada and Ida: but were obliged to label them to tell
"which was which," and said label is essential for distinguishment to
this very day, though twenty-four bright summers have passed since the
sight of them first gladdened our hearts.
But almost with the sunbeams came the terrible cloud overspreading all
our lives. The mother had scarcely welcomed the twin buds of promise,
when she faded away like a flower and was
"Gone beyond the darksome river,
Only left us by the way;
Gone beyond the night forever,
Only gone to endless day;
Gone to meet the angel faces,
Where our lovely treasures are;
Gone awhile from our embraces,
Gone within the gates ajar."
There seemed to be no light left on earth; the sun was blotted out
Oh glory of our youth that so suddenly decays!
Oh crimson flush of morning that darkens as we gaze!
Oh breath of summer blossoms that on the restless air
Scatters a moment's sweetness, and flies we know not where!
"A boat at midnight sent alone
To drift upon the moonless sea;
A lute whose leading chord is gone;
A wounded bird that hath but one
Imperfect wing to soar upon,
Are like me
Oh loved one, without thee;"
but the pitiful wailings of the twin girl babies called me back to
earth again, and I took up the cares of existence, though they seemed
greater than I could bear.
The largest church in the village was filled to overflowing with
sincere mourners, for the sweet face of the departed had brought
good cheer into many darkened households in our town. All sectarian
barriers were for the time burned away by the flame of sympathy, and
wonderful to tell, the Universalist clergyman who married us was
allowed to pronounce the eulogy in an orthodox Congregational church.
When the organ pealed the requiem and the choir chanted the ever dear
words of the hymn--
"Only waiting till the shadows are a little longer grown,"
and closing with the triumphant expression of a deathless faith; it
required but a little imagination to see the light streaming through
the open door of heaven, and to hear the responses of the angel choir
from the great cathedral on high, and we wended our homeward way
thinking not of "dust to dust, ashes to ashes," but of the disembodied
spirit to be our guardian angel forevermore.
"Faith sees a star, and listening love hears the rustle of a wing."
Infinitely sad was the passing of our beloved, to those left in the
earth-life; but soothingly comes to us the song chanted by the choir
invisible whenever a soul escapes the mortal coil:
"Passing out of the shadow,
Into a purer light;
Stepping behind the curtain,
Getting a clearer sight.
"Laying aside a burden,
This weary mortal coil;
Done with the world's vexations--
Done with its tears and toil.
"Tired of all earth's playthings,
Heartsick and ready to sleep--
Ready to bid our friends farewell,
Wondering why they weep.
"Passing out of the shadow
Into eternal day--
Why do we call it dying,
This sweet going away?"
TRIBULATIONS OF A WIDOWER.
But we must descend from the sublime to the stern realities of this
workaday world. Of all the people on this earth, a lone, lorn widower
with three babies on his hands, is the most forlorn and miserable.
Take care of them himself he cannot, and if he hires the ordinary
woman to do so, she immediately sets her cap for him, and leaves
no stone unturned to secure him for a husband, especially if he is
possessed of some of this world's goods which she covets with all her
mind and soul.
Words are inadequate to describe the annoyances I endured for two
weary years from this class of women, who seemed to be the only
ones who would come to a lonely country home to assume such
responsibilities and endless labors. The world seemed full of these
anxious but not aimless women, who claimed to adore little children;
but who really cared for nothing except to capture a "widower with
One nurse carelessly slipped on the stairs, and the twins went flying
from her arms through the air down the long passageway, apparently
to their death; only a miracle saved them. I picked up the little
wingless cherubs, scarcely bigger than my fist, and their blue eyes
smiled at me, as if they had really enjoyed their aerial flight.
They seemed to have a charmed and charming existence; they were the
admiration of all the people far and wide who flocked to our house to
see and fondle the really "heavenly twins." My business kept me
from home nearly all the time; but my father, mother, brother, and
sister-in-law kindly watched my caretakers with argus eyes, and the
so-called triplets throve wonderfully day by day.
Whenever in my absence, my good childless brother and his wife found
one of my hired women unworthy, he would tell her to pack her trunk,
then he would drive her to the depot, banish her from the town
over which he long reigned as chairman of the selectmen and State
representative, telegraph me to hunt up another one, and thus the road
to the station was nearly worn out, and the railroad receipts were
One of these women, while I was far away, greatly scandalized the
whole town by leaving the "light infantry" to their fate one Sunday,
and indulging in the pious delights of shooting wood-chucks. My
indignant brother and his father-in-law deacon disarmed the jezabel,
made her sleep in the barn that night, sent her off flying the next
morning, and personally, tenderly as mothers, watched over the
children until I arrived with another nurse.
One woman whipped little May secretly with a stick; but the victim's
wonderful lungs aroused my mother who, reinforced by the entire
family, overpowered the virago, and sent her off on the next train.
It is evident from these thrilling recitals that I was not a good
mind-reader of woman character; but they were as sweet as angels when
I was at home, and evidently the unwonted self-restraint to thus
appear reacted very forcibly when the widower was out of sight.
I vowed in my wrath that I would never again speak to a woman outside
my own immediate family. I tried in vain to hire men nurses, and I
sympathized with Paolo Orsini, who slipped a cord around the neck
of Isabella di Medici, and strangled her; I almost envied Curzon of
Simopetra who had never seen a woman. But I soon found that this
misanthropy was unjust, that I misjudged the pure depths of life's
river by a little dirty froth floating upon the surface.
Women can no more be lumped together in level community than men can
be. There is an ample variety of tenacious womanly characters between
the extremes marked by Miriam beating her timbrels, and Cleopatra
applying the asp; Cornelia, caring for nothing but her Roman jewels;
Guyon, rapt in God; Lucrezia Borgia raging with bowl and dagger, and
Florence Nightingale sweetening the memory of the Crimean war with
What group of men can be brought together more distinct in
individuality, more contrasted in diversity of traits and destiny,
than such women as Eve in the garden of Eden, Mary at the foot of the
cross, Rebecca by the well, Semiramis on her throne, Ruth among the
corn, Jezabel in her chariot, Lais at a banquet, Joan of Arc in
battle, Tomyris striding over the field with the head of Cyrus in
a bag of blood, Perpetua smiling on the lions in the amphitheatre,
Martha cumbered with many cares, Pocahontas under the shadow of the
woods, Saint Theresa in the Convent, Madame Roland on the scaffold,
Mother Agnes at Port Royal, exiled DeStael wielding her pen as a
sceptre, and Mrs. Fry lavishing her existence on outcasts?
FAITH SEES A STAR.
One day I was introduced by a friend to a very attractive lady
school-teacher, who combined with superior domestic training,
elocutionary and musical accomplishments. She was so sincere and
sympathetic that I found myself almost unconsciously expressing the
same sentiments that I had spoken to another long ago in the city by
The love which I supposed had passed on forever to the other world,
seemed to be sent back to me through the opening clouds of evening by
my self-sacrificing spirit bride, to give to another who would love
and cherish the helpless little ones who so needed a mother's care.
I poured forth all my sorrows, troubles, perplexities and needs to a
congenial, sympathetic spirit, and she consented to go to my home and
take up the burdens which the ascended mother had been required by the
angel-world to lay down.
On the arrival of the new housekeeper, order was evolved out of chaos;
the children received the best of care, and the horse a much needed
rest after his arduous labors in carting to and from the depot the
numerous hired women who had been "weighed in the balance and found
wanting." In the following month of roses, Lillian concluded that my
"first glance" attachment was reciprocated; we were married in her
father's house at Allston; we enjoyed a brief tour of the White
Mountains, and then settled down in our cottage to our life work. The
peace of God, which always comes, sooner or later to those who strive
to do their duty, was ours, and the inspiration of Whittier's sweet
poem "My Psalm" brought infinite consolation to our blended lives.
"I mourn no more my vanished years;
Beneath a tender rain,
An April rain of smiles and tears,
My heart is young again.
"All as God wills, who wisely heeds
To give or to withhold,
And knoweth more of all my needs
Than all my prayers have told.
"All the jarring notes of life
Seem blending in a psalm,
And all the angles of its strife
Slow rounding into calm.
"And so the shadows fall apart,
And so the sunbeams play;
And all the windows of my heart
I open to the day."
ON THE POLITICAL STUMP.
I had always been somewhat prominent in politics, being President of
the Republican Club in our town, and that autumn I was hired by
Dr. George B. Loring to conduct his campaign for the position of
Representative in Congress; this I accomplished so successfully that
Judge Thayer, the chairman of the State Committee, hired me to stump
the Commonwealth against General Butler and in favor of the Hon.
George D. Robinson as candidate for Governor. This campaign will long
be remembered as being the most fiercely contested of any in the
political history of Massachusetts, and many incidents in my career as
a public speaker are much pleasanter in the reminiscence than in the
endurance. One will suffice by way of illustration.
Free speech was not tolerated by our frantic greenback opponents, and
stale eggs with decayed cabbages hurled at the heads of Republican
orators were the strongest arguments used by the General's admirers to
combat our appeals for protective tariff and sound money. At a meeting
of our state committee in Boston, Judge Thayer announced that General
Hall of Maine, one of our most brilliant speakers, could not reach
Rockport, where he was billed to hold forth, before ten o'clock that
evening, and called for volunteers to hold the audience for two hours.
Rockport was almost solid for Butler, and his friends had declared
that no Republican should speak there, consequently no one
volunteered. At last, the Judge, in despair, said:
"Foss, will you go?"
"I shall obey orders," was my reply, amid cheers of the much-relieved
shirkers, and I bolted for the train.
On arriving at my destination, I found the station crowded with a
howling mob, and the Republican town committee were frantically
shouting: "General Hall, General Hall!" "Here," said I, and only by
the vigorous aid of the clubs of the police was I hustled through the
embattled hosts to a hack, which took me to the hall where I walked on
the shoulders of a friendly uniformed club to the platform, which
I finally reached with torn apparel and in a condition of almost
physical and mental collapse.
The "hail to the chief," by the band was drowned by the cat-calls:
"Put him out!"--"Duck him!"--"Ride him on a rail!" etc., etc., Yells
of the Butlerites who had packed the hall. At last I got my "mad up,"
and rising, I lighted a cigar, puffed vigorously, and smiled upon
my uproarious foes. This astonished the "great unwashed," and a big
Irishman jumped on the stage, shouting:
"Shut up, shut up, byes! Let's hear what the cuss has to say; he's a
There was silence. Taking out my cigar, I laughed long and loud.
"What you laughing at?" howled the mob.
"This reminds me," said I, very slowly, "of a little story."
"Out with it," was the response.
"When I was a teacher in Marblehead," drawled I, "I had occasion
to wallop a boy with a cowhide. I made him touch his toes with his
fingers and laid on the braid where it would do the most good; the
more I whaled him the more he laughed. I laid on Macduff with a
'damned be he who first cries hold, enough,' determination, and yet
he laughed. 'What you laughing at?' cried I. 'Oh, ha, ha, ha, you're
licking the wrong boy,' giggled the unspeakable scamp. It's just that
way here. You gentlemen are licking the wrong boy; I am not General
Hall, at all, I am Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant." The crowd
roared: "He's a good un, let's hear him--ha, ha, ha, he's a good un,"
and for two hours I had as good-natured an audience as you ever saw.
"You say you don't want a protective tariff; you don't want sound
money. Well, you remind me of the man who killed his father, mother,
brothers, sisters, and when condemned to death he begged the judge to
have mercy upon a poor orphan. You have killed the tariff twice, and
nearly every mill wheel stopped, and you and I had to beg from door to
door or live on dry crackers and shin-bones. Do you want that kind
of provender again? Butler says, 'give us greenbacks by the ton, and
everybody will be rich.' You tried that once and you carried your
money to market in a bushel basket, and brought back the dinner you
bought with it in a gill dipper. Do you want any more such times?"
"Be Gorrah," cried my big Irish friend, "that's so: I rimimber it
well. I'd forgut it; the bye's right, he is."
"Yes," I yelled, "Butler says he'll leave the Republican party out in
the cold. It reminds me of the old farmer who rushed outdoors in his
bed-shirt, bareheaded and barefooted in winter, grabbed a barking dog
who was disturbing his rest, by the ears; his wife came down to hunt
him up. 'What on airth, father, you doin'?' she cried, as she saw his
knees knocking together, and his teeth chattering with the cold. 'I've
gut the cuss,' he shouted, 'and I'll hold him here till he freezes to
"You'll hold your employers out in the cold, will you? Well, who'll
freeze to death first if you stop the factories? The owners who have
plenty of money, or you who are dependent upon the work they give you
for every cent you get? General Butler who lives in a palace, and
drives a kingly equipage tries to frighten you by painting the
bugaboo; 'the rich growing richer, and the poor growing poorer,' that
soon a half-dozen plutocrats will have all the money there is in the
world, and then the rest of the people will all starve. It reminds me
of the old farmer who set up such an outrageous looking scarecrow in
his field that the crows not only let his present corn alone, but they
actually brought back in their terrible fright all the corn they had
stolen in the previous ten years. Are we craven crows to be scared by
such windy effigies?"
Thus having caught their attention by light weight stories, I gave
them broadsides of facts and arguments until I won the greatest
political fight of my life. We won a famous victory; the workers,
as usual, were soon forgotten; the elected exulted in their brief
authority; the defeated at once began log-rolling for the next
election, and so the office hunting strife goes on forever. After this
I resumed the work of my crusade against ignorance and bad literature,
having had my pockets well filled by those who are always eager to
trade money for fame.
Our home was three miles from the railroad station, and the wintry
winds with deep snows made the frequent journeys to and fro over
the bleak, uncomfortable country roads, extremely cold and often
I had endured for years these alternate freezing and roasting rides
for the pleasure of living near the old folks; but now the numerous
colds and coughs resulting from the exposure drove me to move nearer
to the depot, and we bought a large three-story house with barn and
fourteen acres of land on High Street in the city of N----.
We rejuvenated our old castle with paint, new boiler and paper,
letting loose upon our devoted heads numerous fevers and other
diseases which generations had stored up on the walls, all eager for
new victims. Strange it is, that all bad things are so contagious and
so long-lived to punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty.
Upon me, the descendant of a long line of farmers, fell the
agricultural fever, and I broke my own back as well as that of the
hired man, cultivating that sterile soil where my potatoes cost me
about a quarter of a dollar a piece, and each blade of grass, sickness
and much hard-earned cash. We made the old place to bud and blossom
like the rose, but the game as usual was not worth the candle, and an
ulcerated sore throat which some predecessor had breathed upon
the paper which we tore off, left me a walking skeleton, when
ex-Congressman Loring, then United States Commissioner of Agriculture,
came to my relief by appointing me his deputy for Florida at a good
salary, to investigate and report upon the developed and undeveloped
resources of that State, and its attractions for northern settlers. I
gladly accepted this commission to serve my country, for--
Somewhere the sun is shining,
I thought as I toiled along
In the freezing cold of the winter,
Yes, somewhere the sun is shining
Though here I shiver and sigh,
Not a breath of warmth is stirring
Not a beam in the arctic sky.
Somewhere the thing we long for
Exists on earth's wide bound,
Somewhere the heat is cheering
While here winter nips the ground.
Somewhere the flowers are springing,
Somewhere the corn is brown,
And is ready unto the harvest
To feed the hungry town.
Somewhere the twilight gathers,
And weary men lay by
The burdens of the daytime,
And wrapped in slumber lie.
Somewhere the day is breaking,
And gloom and darkness flee;
Though storms our bark are tossing,
There's somewhere a placid sea.
And thus, I thought, 'tis always
In this mysterious life,
There's always gladness somewhere
In spite of its pain and strife;
And somewhere the sin and sorrow
Of earth are known no more;
Somewhere our weary spirits
Shall find a peaceful shore.
THAT _EDDYFYING_ CHRISTIAN SCIENCE.
This season there broke out in our community, as elsewhere, what has
always appeared to me, to be a distemper, misnamed by its crafty
creator, "Christian Science." Unchristian scienceless would be a more
appropriate name, as the so-called divine revelation was made to its
Eddyfying high priestess about 1800 years after the sublime career
of Christ was ended, and its preposterous claims antagonize every
principle of modern science.
This craze seized certain discontented young women who studied
"Science and Health" under the tutorage of its author, and they soon
became too transcendental to perform the useful duties of life,
posing as teachers of the "utterly utter." It monopolized the feeble
intellects of some farmers' boys, who at once began to try to get a
lazy living by sitting beside sick women with their hands over their
eyes, ostensibly engaged in prayer, but really endeavoring to prey
upon the weak minded.
Some superstitious people who had been long under the care of a
regular physician, and who were just at the turning point of receiving
benefit therefrom, took an "Eddy sitting" and jumped to the conclusion
that said mummery affected a miraculous cure.
As a drowning man clutching at a straw, I confess that I accepted
the offer of treatments, made by a pleasant lady "Christian science"
doctor. I found it tolerably agreeable to sit by her side, holding her
soft hand while she assumed an attitude of supplication, but my malady
was in nowise benefited thereby. This amiable lady finally loaned me a
copy of their sacred book called "Science and Health," expressing the
opinion that a careful reading thereof would renew my youth and make
me a believer in their modern Eleusinian mysteries forever.
I read this preposterous book with all the earnestness and
prayerfulness of which I was capable; but found it to be a
heterogeneous conglomeration of words--mere words, a hodge podge of
all the exploded philosophical, religious, and scientific heresies of
the past ages, so cunningly jumbled that the gullible, unable to
find any meaning to it, conclude that it is too profound for their
comprehension, and unwilling to acknowledge the fact for fear of being
called ignorant, solemnly pronounce it to be great.
One quotation will reveal the utter nothingness of this book, from the
sale of which "Pope Eddy" is said to have realized, a half-million
dollars. Says this modern goddess: "The word Adam is from the Hebrew
Adamah, signifying the red color of the ground, dust, nothingness.
Divide the name Adam into two syllables, and it reads a dam or
obstruction. This suggests the thought of something fluid, of mortal
mind in solution."
Like all the other humbugs of superstition, this new doctrine seems
to me to contain but a single drop of truth submerged in an ocean of
folly. Mary Baker G. Eddy, the great high priestess, claims to possess
the power to heal the sick and raise the dead; yet she has retired
with much lucre to her palatial residence, lives like a queen, rolling
in luxury, refusing to exercise her pretended healing power upon the
thousands writhing in agony and whom she claims to be able to cure.
Surely her "Key to the Scriptures" should thunder in her ears the
anathema, "To him who knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it
is a sin."
I, too, claim a great discovery, a new "sacred book," which I have
been inspired to write, and if people will give it the implicit faith
required to benefit by "Christian Science," I will guarantee to cure
all mental ills, and to bring eternal peace on earth. I herewith give
my revelation to all, without money and without price, in strong
contrast to the mercenary methods of the Eddy healers. My "science and
health" is _multum in parvo_. Here it is:
Columbus discovered the new world; but his wife discovered the old
world. The name of his wife, of course, was Columba, which in Latin,
means a dove. Columba, the dove, flew forth from the ark, and so
discovered the Eastern Continent. Columbus sailed from G--noa;
but Columba sailed from Noah, and when the gods saw her with the
olive-branch, they said "blessed be the dove, for whosoever shall
receive her by faith into his heart, the same shall be free from
unrest and from war forevermore."
Faith can remove mountains, and faith is all there is to "Christian
Science," so far as we have been able to ascertain. We concede to its
many devotees an almost unlimited amount of this saving grace; but
sincerely claim that our "Columba science" will be equally efficient
for good if received in the same spirit which has greeted the new
gospel promulgated by Saint Mary Baker G. Eddy. _Selah_.
[Illustration: We Steamed up the Lordly St. John's River of Florida.]
IN THE LAND OF FLOWERS.
After these scientific investigations, my wife and I left New England
covered with snow and swept by fierce, freezing winds to find this
far-famed peninsular basking in delicious sunshine, the air full of
the exquisite perfume of orange blossoms and the songs of rejoicing
birds. It was an enchanted land, the balsamic odors from the beautiful
evergreen pine forests starred by the fragrant magnolia blossoms of
spotless white, exorcised the ulceratic demons from throat and lungs.
We feasted upon the delicious fruits and vegetables fresh from the
trees and earth, and the returning healthy appetite was refreshed by
tender venison, wild turkeys and quails from the woods, nutritious and
abundant fish and ducks from the lakes and rivers. It was a new heaven
and a new earth, full of gladness and semi-tropical luxuries.
As soon as the hospitable people learned that I represented our
beloved Uncle Sam, I was overwhelmed with free passes and free hotels,
anywhere and everywhere.
The Count De Barry, who had amassed a vast fortune as the American
representative of "Mum's Extra Dry," and who had received numerous
valuable seeds and shrubs from our generous department, took us on his
palatial steamer for hundreds of miles up the lordly St. John's River,
where we feasted our eyes upon acres of wild ducks, pelicans, cranes
and many huge, lazy alligators floating on the waves, rejoicing in the
life-giving beams of the sun.
The stately trees along the banks, old when Adam was a baby, were
covered with flowering vines of wondrous beauty and fragrance; then
vast orange groves appeared covered with blossoms, small and ripe
fruit all at the same time; numerous herds of cattle standing knee
deep in the water, leisurely browsing upon the river plants both on
the surface and under the shallow river.
We would anchor, and throwing a clasp-net which spread out on the
bottom and then closed like a purse, we pulled in excellent fish by
the hundreds; sitting on the canopied deck we shot ducks which the
negroes captured in small boats, and soon served cooked for our
delectation; pineapples and berries were brought from the shore, in
fact, it was a lotus-eater's dream of paradise, and seemed to be a
land and a river "flowing with milk and honey."
The words from Willis' confessional came floating to our minds.
"On ocean many a gladsome night,
When heaved the long and sullen sea,
With only waves and stars in sight,
We stole along by isles of balm;
We furled before the coming gale,
We slept amid the breathless calm,
We flew beneath the straining sail.
Oh, softly on these banks of haze
Her rosy face the summer lays,
Becalmed along the azure sky
The argosies of cloudland lie;
The holy silence is God's voice
We look, and listen, and rejoice."
When the night fell, and one by one, in the infinite meadows of
heaven, blossomed out the beautiful stars, the forget-me-nots of the
angels, they seemed so near that you almost expected to touch them
with the hand, and the silver moon arising, set the clouds on fire
with gladness and "left upon the level water one long track and trail
of splendor, down whose stream we sailed into the purple vapors, to
the islands of the blessed, to the kingdom of Ponemah to the land of
While thus we dreamed, the balmy zephyr brings from the forecastle to
our delighted hearing, the tinkling music of the banjo and guitar, the
melody of the singing voices and dancing feet of our freedmen boat's
crew. The lines of Whittier were resurrected in our thoughts.
"Dear, the black man holds his gifts
Of music and of song,
The gold that kindly nature sifts
Among his sands of wrong,
The power to make his toiling days
And poor home comforts please;
The quaint relief of mirth that plays
With sorrow's minor keys."
For they sang among others the identical words of the poet's
"Ole massa on he trabbels gone,
He leaf de land behind:
De Lord's breff blow him furder on,
Like corn-shuck in de wind:
We own de hoe, we own de plow,
We own de hans dat hold,
We sell de pig, we sell de cow,
But nebber chile be sold.
De norf wind tell it to de pines,
De wild-duck to de sea,
We tink it when de church-bell ring,
We dream it in de dream,
De rice-bird mean it when he sing,
De eagle when he scream,
De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
We'll hab de rice and corn;
Nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
De driber blow his horn."
And so all too quickly passed that ideal night, without thought of
sleep, till the rising sun shot his radiant beams over the great
river, when we steamed slowly up to the long pier, and walked under
an arch of stately palms to our host's beautiful home, embowered in
orange trees and luxuriant trumpet creepers in this summer land of
Close by the Count's residence was a lake of sulphur water, gushing
from deep down in the earth. Into this we plunged and swam until we
seemed to be born again into immortal youth, then on the broad piazza
we enjoyed a feast which would have delighted Jupiter and all his
gods, every course of which was taken from the adjoining trees,
grounds and waters.
We then inspected the great plantation, where was found growing in
profusion, everything essential to the wants of the most fastidious
of mortals, while the surrounding woods and river teemed with a great
variety of fish and game.
I roam as in a waking dream
The garden of the Hesperides,
And see the golden fruitage gleam
Amid the stately orange-trees.
Unfading green is on the hill,
The vales are decked with countless flowers,
While hums the bee, the song birds trill
Sweet music through the sunny hours.
The moss is waving in the gale
From live oak, hickory, and pine,
And draping like a bridal-veil
The beauteous yellow jessamine.
Through countless vistas in the wood
I see the windows of the morn
Ope to the world a glowing flood
Of glory when the day is born.
And when, with robes of Tyrian dye,
The evening comes when day is done,
I see around the radiant sky
A hundred sunsets blent in one.
We parted from our genial entertainer with much reluctance when the
superintendent of the railroad claimed us as his guests, and with
him, we inspected the famous orange groves along his line, resting on
Sunday at a palatial hotel where the St. John's River broadens into
the great Lake Munroe.
While at church we were much entertained by the lively, frolicsome
manoeuvres of the numerous beautiful chameleons of rapidly changing
colors, who greatly distracted the attention of the congregation from
the service by their pranks on the walls and decorations.
Directly in front of us was a sleepy, bald-headed man upon whose
shining, nodding, snoring pate several flies were resting in quiet
enjoyment of the sermon. All at once, this toothsome collection
attracted the attention of a very large bright-eyed chameleon admirer
who launched himself through the air upon said bald head in pursuit of
his dinner. With a yell of fear, the sleeper struck the animal with
his huge hand, sending the long tailed frolicsome creature heels
over head directly upon the clergyman's manuscript, and the alarmed
preacher, in turn, with a smothered imprecation and a sweeping blow,
hurled the sprawling legs and elongated tail down upon some frightened
children who screamed and tumbled over each other upon the floor in a
This was too much for the pent-up risibilities of the audience who
laughed long and loud, greatly to the disturbance of the solemnity of
the occasion. The witty minister remarked that this addition to his
flock, like some church members, seemed to care more for the carnal
than the spiritual, and proceeded to the thirteenthly division of his
From here we traveled for hundreds of miles over the flat, monotonous,
arid sands of south Florida, where green grass and fresh garden
vegetables were unknown, frequently remarking that if we owned these
localities and hades, we would give away the former and live in the
latter place. But when we retraced our steps, and reached the rich
highlands of the northern counties of Marion, Bradford, and Clay,
found the earth covered with green grass in winter, the trees
beautiful with blossoms and luscious oranges, the air fragrant with
rare flowers, and resonant with songs of birds, saw the planters
shipping thousands of crates of fruit and vegetables, and finally
arrived at the far-famed Silver Springs, it seemed as if we had found
Ponce de Leon's fountain of immortal youth.
The crystal clear waters of this wonderful spring, or more properly
called lake, gush in immense volumes seemingly from the very centre of
the earth, spreading out until wide and deep enough to float a great
navy, and are so transparent that multitudes of fishes are seen
disporting among marine plants and shells plainly discernible hundreds
of feet below.
Here we embarked on a comfortable steamer, and sailed nearly
twenty-four hours down the incomparable Ocklawaha River, through
scenes that are indescribably picturesque; under arches of gigantic
trees covered with sombrely beautiful Spanish mosses and trumpet
creeper vines, where all day long are heard the ecstatic songs of
mockingbirds, and where flutter the plumages of all the colors of the
[Illustration: The Indiscribably Picturesque Ocklawaha River of
Swiftly the golden hours fly, as we float over this marvelous river;
softly the dusky boatmen chant their love songs, the fires from their
"fatwood" cauldron on the upper deck illuminates the stately trees,
and the strains of the poet, Butterworth, come plaintively to our
"We have passed funereal glooms,
Cypress caverns, haunted rooms,
Halls of gray moss starred with blooms--
Slowly, slowly, in these straits,
Drifting towards the cypress gates
Of the Ocklawaha.
"In the towers of green o'erhead
Watch the vultures for the dead,
And below the egrets red
Eye the mossy pools like fates,
In the shadowy cypress gates
Of the Ocklawaha.
"Clouds of palm crowns lie behind,
Clouds of gray moss in the wind,
Crumbling oaks with jessamines twined,
Where the ring-doves meet their mates,
Cooing in the cypress gates
Of the Ocklawaha.
"High the silver ibis flies--
Silver wings in silver skies;
In the sun the Saurian lies:
Comes the mockingbird and prates
To the boatman at the gates
Of the Ocklawaha.
"Now the broader waters gleam--
Seems my voyage upon the stream
Like a semblance of a dream,
And the dream my Soul elates;
Life flows through the cypress gates
Of the Ocklawaha.
"Ibis, thou wilt fly again,
Ring-dove, thou wilt sigh again,
Jessamines bloom in golden rain;
And a loving song-bird waits
Me beyond the cypress gates
Of the Ocklawaha."
SUNBEAM, THE SEMINOLE.
When I had concluded the recitation of the poem which closes the
preceding chapter, a fine-looking gentleman sitting near us arose, and
lifting his hat very gracefully, said:
"Pardon me. As a native Floridian, I have much enjoyed hearing you
repeat that poem relating to my State."
This led to a pleasant conversation, during which he introduced us to
his wife as being one of the aborigines. We expressed much interest in
this statement, and finally persuaded him to give us an account of
his courtship, which, with some amplifications, was substantially as
It is midnight in the vast everglades of Florida. The mammoth forest
trees seem to support the arch of heaven as the pillars uphold the
great dome of the nation's capitol. Here and there the century-old
orange trees are resplendent with the golden globes of the luscious
fruit, and millions of flowering vines beautify even the dead monarchs
of the woods.
All these tropical splendors are illumined by the rays of the full
hunter's moon, which transforms the trailing streamers of dewy Spanish
moss into long-drawn chains of sparkling silver. From swamp and
foliage the voices of the night fill the balmy air with quavering
wailings, punctured by the occasional screams of wild-cats and
hootings of the melancholy owls. Here in this forest primeval, mid
the murmuring pines and star-eyed magnolias, nature rules supreme,
uncontaminated by the trammels of civilization.
But what is that? Surely human forms swinging noiselessly from limb
to limb over dark pools where the deadly moccasins and ferocious
alligators slumber, over stagnant lagoons beautified by great lilies,
and densely populated with rainbow colored fishes, and gaily decorated
by water-fowl now all motionless in the embrace of sleep, the brother
The moonbeams reveal a band of broad-shouldered, copper-colored
aborigines, who once ruled over the whole of this fair peninsular.
They are returning, with packs of supplies strapped upon their backs,
from a trading journey to the city of Kissimmee, where they have
exchanged the fruits of their hunting for many-colored calicos,
ammunition, and alas for the once-noble red men! fire-water. They had
left their canoes when they could no longer be floated, and are now
returning in this, the only possible manner, to their fertile oasis,
protected from the white men by many miles of bogs into which all foot
travelers would sink to unknown slimy depths and death.
On they come in single file, hand over hand from tree to tree, their
long legs dangling in the air, led by Tiger-tail, the chief of the
survivors of the most intelligent and powerful of all the Indian
tribes. Suddenly the leader stops, gives the low cry of the Ring-dove,
which halts his followers, and suspended in air, gazes at the sleeping
form of a young white man, reclining, with his rifle beside him, on
a hammock which rises dry and grass-covered above the surrounding
Motioning his band to follow, the chief drops noiselessly beside the
sleeper, stealthily seizes the gun, revolver, and bowie-knife of the
helpless victim, hands them to others, and shouts "Humph, wake up!"
The pale-face reaches for his weapons, and finding them gone, jumps to
his feet, gazing without flinching at his stalwart captors.
"Who you be?" grunted the chief. "What for you here?"
"I am Henry Lee of Lawtey," was the calm reply, "and I am hunting."
"Humph, you white man hunt Seminole from earth. You no right here. You
my prisoner; follow me, my slave."
As resistance was useless, the youth silently obeys, climbing hour
after hour until his arms seemed about to be wrenched from their
sockets. At last, just as the rising sun shot his lances of light
through the forest's gloom, the chief drops to solid earth, followed
A romantically beautiful scene lies before them. No longer the
styx-like waters; the funereal realms of Pluto have vanished, and an
elevated plateau appears, partially cleared. Here and there graceful
palms, tall, slender cocoanut and orange trees laden with fruit;
sparkling springs; abundant harvests of varied crops; picturesque
wigwams and huts, fair as the garden of the Lord. A pack of dogs
started to yelp, but at once slunk away at a word from the chieftain,
who points to a hut, quietly saying: "Go in there till I call you."
Henry obeyed, and exhausted with his journey, sank quickly to sleep
upon the straw-covered floor. At length, when the sun was high in the
heavens, he was awakened by a black man, who placed before him some
venison and corn bread, then silently withdrew. After satisfying his
hunger, he went out to explore.
It was an ideal scene of tropical luxuriance; cattle and sheep were
feeding upon the abundant grasses; but they suddenly took to their
heels, with uplifted tails and terrified eyes, at the sight of his
white face, a spectacle never before seen on this oasis, peopled
hitherto exclusively by "Copperheads." Swarms of children were
shooting their arrows at deer-skin targets; groups of braves,
fantastically attired, lounged under the shade of the wide-spreading
umbrella trees, smoking fragrant tobacco in long-stemmed pipes, but
they did not deign to give the visitor even an inquiring glance.
Henry interviewed a number of negroes hoeing corn and sweet potatoes,
who informed him in broken English that they were the slaves of the
Indians; that they had never heard of the civil war, nor of Abraham
Lincoln. They claimed to be well treated, and were contented, having
plenty to eat and no very severe labor. They cast anxious glances
towards the village, and seemed glad when he walked away, saying
they had never before seen a white man and thought he must be "big
The birds were singing gaily, all nature smiled complacently, and he
strolled over the flower-bedecked fields into the recesses of the
forest, where he seated himself under a blossom-covered magnolia
around which twined the fragrant jessamine. He gave himself up to
day-dreams. All at once a light, moccasined footfall is heard, and
there stepped from the woods an Indian girl, graceful as a fawn, with
her head crowned with flowers, and softly singing a strange, sweet
song in an unknown tongue. When the stranger was seen she started to
flee, but with a smile he beckoned her to stop, which she did, as
"Oh," she whispered, "you are the pale-face my father has captured;
but if Tiger-tail should see me speaking to you, he would kill us
both. Such is the law of the Seminoles. No Indian maiden must speak to
a white man; but I never saw such as you before."
"But, how happens it," said he, in astonishment, "that you speak my
"My father taught me," was the reply, "he is a scholar; we all speak
"May I know your name?" asked our hero.
"I am Sunbeam, daughter of the Seminole chief."
"And mine is Henry Lee," he replied to her inquiring look. "You
are well named," he continued. "I have seen many daughters of the
pale-faces; but none so fair and bright as you. Sunbeam, at this my
first glance, I love you; can you sometime love me?"
"I do love you now," replied the artless girl; "the Great Spirit tells
me to do so; but we must not be seen together; they will kill us, we
must part at once."
"Dearest," cried Henry, "when can we meet again?"
"To-morrow at noon," came the impulsive reply. "In my cave there back
of that cypress; no one is allowed to enter but me; there I say my
prayers, and my father says it is sacred to me alone. Good-bye,
Henry," and she sped like a deer into the shades of the forest.
The youth was sincere, for it had flashed upon him like an inspiration
when their eyes first met, that she was born for him, and he for her.
They were married in heaven, ages ago. It came like a word from the
Infinite to these kindred souls. A sudden rent in the veil of darkness
which surrounds us manifests things unseen. Such visions sometimes
effect a transformation in those whom they visit, converting a poor
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