thousands who were reduced to poverty by the loss of the Southern trade and the stagnation of home industries. Prices went up, and wages went down; soldiers' widows and orphans must be cared for; the soldiers in camps and hospitals were but ill-provided with the comforts they had a right to expect from the government and their fellow- citizens. We had Soldiers' Relief Societies, and Auxiliary Societies to the Sanitary and Christian Commissions, and by-and-by, as the monetary situation told fiercely upon the women and children of unemployed operatives, associations that supplied their wives with sewing.
But for active participation in each of these benevolent organizations, I do not see how I could have kept my reason while the fratricidal conflict gathered force and heat.
My situation was peculiar, and, among my daily associates, unique. Loving the Union with a passion of patriotism inconceivable by those who have never had what they call by that name put to such test of rack and flame as the martyrs of old endured, I yet had no personal interest in one soldier who fought for the Cause as dear to me as life itself. My prayers and hopes went out to the Federal army as a glorious engine, consecrated to sublime and holy purpose - even the salvation of the nation by the preservation of the Union. And all the while, my best-beloved brother was in the fiercest of the fight down there, in the State dearer to me than any other could ever be. Cousins by the score, and friends and valued acquaintances by the hundred, were with Lee and Jackson, Early, Stuart, and Hill, exposed to shot and shell and sword. My brother Herbert had gone home in '61, after he was graduated from the Theological Seminary in New Brunswick, and received a license to preach.
Shortly after his installation in a country parish, he had married a girl he had fallen in love with while studying
with my husband in Charlotte. Although a non-combatant, he might be forced by circumstances to take up arms, as many of the profession were doing. His home was raided more than once by predatory bands of stragglers from the Federal army, and twice by cavalry dashes under leaders whose names were a terror throughout southern and central Virginia. My brother Percy, at fourteen, enlisted, and quickly gained reputation as a courier under Lee's own eye, being a daring rider, courting, instead of shunning, danger, and, like his father and brothers, an utter stranger to physical fear in any shape whatsoever.
When - as happened almost daily - our papers published lists of the killed and wounded in Lee's army, my hand shook so violently in holding the sheet, that I had to lay it on the table to steady the lines into legibility, my heart rolling over with sick thuds, while my eyes ran down the line of names. Add to this ceaseless horror of suspense the long, awful spaces of silence between the flag-of-truce letters - and is it to be wondered at that I plunged into routine work - domestic, literary, religious, charitable, and patriotic - with feverish energy, as the only hope of maintaining a tolerable degree of sanity?
And how good "our people" were to me through it all! The simple act of setting the flag above our door-steps when we returned from Rebeldom, was emblematic of the position taken and held by them, as a body, during that trial-period. They trusted us without reservation. Moreover, never, howsoever high might run the tide of popular feeling at the tidings of defeat or victory to the national Cause, was one of them ever betrayed into a word of vituperation of my native South, or ungenerous exultation over her downfall. The tact and delicacy in this respect displayed by them, without an exception, deserves higher praise than I can award in this humble chronicle.
Loving loyalty of this type was a panoply and a stimulant to my sorely-taxed spirit. Sheer gratitude should have bound me to them as a co-worker.
When men like Peter and John Ballantine - than whom God never made a nobler pair of brothers - and Edgar Farmer - all the busiest of men - would go out of their way, in business hours, to make a special call upon me after the news of a battle had set the town on fire with excitement, to "hope," in brotherly solicitude, that "this this does not mean a heartache for you?" - when the safety of my brothers, and the welfare of my parents, was the subject of affectionate inquiry, whenever we met friend or acquaintance connected with church or parish, I used to say to my husband and myself, that the world had never seen more truly chivalrous natures than those of these practical Middle States men, who never thought of themselves as knightly.
FORT DELAWARE - "OLD GLORY" -
LINCOLN'S ASSASSINATION - THE RELEASED PRISONER OF WAR
IN the last week of May, 1864, I had a letter from my brother Horace, now a Lieutenant in the Richmond Howitzers, C. S. A.
It bore the heading: "Under the walls of Fort Delaware," and was scribbled upon the deck of a United States transport.
With the gay courage that was his characteristic, and without waste of words in preliminaries, directness in action and speech being another prominent trait with him, he informed me that "General Hancock, by making an ungenerously early start at Spottsylvania Court-House - before breakfast, in fact - on the morning of May 21st, captured part of our division."
The letter wound up with: "We are now approaching Fort Delaware, which is, we are told, our destination. I am well. Don't take this to heart. I don't!"
I was so far from taking it to heart that I called upon my soul, and all that was within me, to return thanks to Him who had delivered my darling boy from the battle that was against him. He was now out of the reach of bullet and bayonet.
If I did not summon neighbors and friends to rejoice with me over my brother's capture, the news spread fast, and congratulatory calls were the order of the next few days. Not satisfied with words of good-will, every bit of
political machinery at the command of our friends was put in motion to secure for me the great joy of visiting him.
One of these plans so nearly succeeded that I went, under the escort of the plotter, as far as Delaware City, within sight of the gloomy fortress, to be turned back by a new order - incited by a rumored attempt at escape of the prisoners - prohibiting any visitors from entering the fort.
In the tranquil assurance of the captive's security from the chances of war, I bore up under the failure better than could have been expected, solacing myself by writing, regularly, long letters, and the preparation of boxes of books and provisions, which I was allowed to forward weekly. It was "almost as good," I wrote to him, gleefully, "as having a son at school, for whom I could get up boxes of goodies."
Twice I had direct intelligence of him from army officers who sought him out and talked to him of us.
One wrote: "Fine-looking fellow - hearty as a buck! In good heart, and in good looks." Another: "Never met a nicer fellow. I wish he had been on our side!"
While I was comforting myself with these mitigating incidents, the line of communication was abruptly severed by the transfer of prisoners from Fort Delaware to Hilton, South Carolina. I had no letter for a month, and began to think - I might say, to fear - that an exchange of prisoners had returned him to Virginia. He gave the reason for his silence finally:
"In pursuance of the retaliatory policy determined upon by the Federal authorities, we were brought here and placed, for three weeks, under the fire of our own guns from the shore. Our fare was pickles and corn-meal, for the same time. I did not write while this state of things prevailed. It would have distressed you uselessly."
He went on to say that the order of retaliation for the cruelties inflicted upon Federal captives in Confederate prisons, had been rescinded. The Confederates, now at Hilton Head, could hardly be said to be lodged luxuriously; but they were no longer animated targets.
Through the intercession of a friend with Gen. Stewart L. Woodford, then in command in South Carolina, I gained permission to supply my brother with "plain clothing, books, papers, food, and small sums of money." The latter went to him by the kind and safe hand of Richard Ryerson, a young Jerseyman, holding office in the Commissary Department at Hilton Head. My letters were forwarded under cover to the same generous intermediary.
Thus was another crooked way made straight.
The news of the evacuation; of my brother's removal back to Fort Delaware, and a letter from my father, sent by private hand to Mr. Terhune, came simultaneously. My husband had had a verbal message through a trusty "refugee," as long ago as January, to the effect that the fall of the city could not, in my father's judgment, be long delayed. Since confiscation was sure to follow the collapse of the Confederacy, he instructed my husband to repair to Richmond, at the earliest possible moment after the way was cut open by the victorious army, and claim the family estate in the name of his wife, our loyalty being unquestionable.
In the light of what really happened when the city was occupied by the invaders, the precaution seems absurdly useless. Then, it was prudent in the estimation of those best acquainted with the current of public affairs. Every dollar belonging, in fact, or constructively, to Northern citizens, that the Confederate authorities could reach, had been confiscated early in the action. My husband was a non-combatant in the eye of the law, by reason of his profession. Yet the few thousands we had invested in
various ways in Virginia had gone the way of all the rest. It was but fair to suppose that the rebels would be stripped of houses, lands, and money.
On New-Year's day, we had a call from Dr. J. J. Craven, Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac, a warm personal friend of Mr. Terhune. He was stationed at Fort Monroe, the key to the James River. Him, my husband took into confidence, and it was arranged between them that the latter was to be notified of the practicability of entering the city in the track of the troops, when the inevitable hour should arrive.
On one and the same day in April, Mr. Terhune had a telegram from Fort Monroe, containing three words: "Come at once," and I a letter from my faithful ally, Ossian Ashley, enclosing an introductory note from General Butterfield to the Commandant at Fort Delaware, requesting him to permit me to see my brother.
Mr. Farmer, my husband's companion in many expeditions and journeyings, consented gladly to go with him now. We three left next morning for Philadelphia, and the two gentlemen accompanied me in the afternoon to Fort Delaware.
We were courteously received by the officials, the Commandant voluntarily relaxing the rules at our parting, to let my brother walk across the drawbridge and down to the wharf with me. High good-humor reigned in all branches of the service. The war was virtually over. As we sailed out into the bay, and I threw a last salute to the soldierly figure standing on the pier, it was with a bound of hope at my heart to which it had been long a stranger. "My boy" would join us in our home before many days. He had never been a rebel, indeed; he had gone reluctantly into the service, as had thousands of others The chance to take the oath of allegiance to the Federal government would be readily embraced by him and his
comrades. And my husband had engaged to see to it that the opportunity should not be long delayed. We parted in Philadelphia, I passing the night with friends there, the two men going on to Fort Monroe. By Doctor Craven's kindly management, they found a transport awaiting their arrival. They were, thus, the first civilians to enter Richmond after the military took possession.
A hasty note from Fort Monroe apprised me of the success of the expedition, up to that point. Beyond that place there were no postal or telegraphic facilities. I must wait patiently until they touched Old Point on the return journey.
With a thankful spirit and busy hands, I fell to work, making ready for the home-coming of husband and brother. It was as if the world and the house were swept and garnished together.
In the early dawn of April 15th, too happily excited to sleep, I arose and looked from my dressing-room window over intervening buildings and streets, to the spire of Old Trinity Church.
Church's picture, Our Banner in the Sky, was painted during the Rebellion, and every print-shop window displayed a copy of it. Some of my older readers may recollect it. A tall, and at the summit, leafless, pine stood up, stark and gaunt, against a sky barred with crimson-and-white. Above, a cluster of stars glimmered faintly in the dusky blue. It was a weird "impressionist" picture, that fired the imagination and thrilled the heart of the lover of our glorious Union.
From my window, I saw it now in fulness of detail. I had heard the story of "Old Glory," a little while before. The words leaped from my lips at the sight of the splendid flag on the staff towering from the church-spire. Straight and strong, it streamed over the sleeping city in the fresh
breeze from the sea, emblem of the triumphant right of a saved nation!
"Old Glory!" I cried aloud, and fell upon my knees to thank God for what it meant.
Had another woman in the land - now, more than ever and forever, "God's Country" - such cause as I to return thanks for what had been in the last month?
The glow of exultation still warmed my inmost being when I halted on the upper stair on my way down to breakfast. Hearing a ring at the door-bell, with the thought of a telegram, as probable explanation of the untimely call, I leaned breathlessly over the balustrade as the maid opened the door.
It was a parishioner, and a neighbor. He spoke hurriedly:
"Will you say to Mrs. Terhune that the President was assassinated in Ford's Theatre in Washington last night?"
When, hours and hours afterward, I looked, with eyes dimmed by weeping, upon "Old Glory," it hung limp at half-mast, and the background was dull with rain-clouds.
I had many visitors that day. My nearest neighbor, and, to this hour, one of my closest friends, ran in to "see how I was bearing it. I must not get overexcited!" Then she broke down, and wept stormily, as for a murdered father.
"We never knew how we loved him until now!" she sobbed.
That was the cry of every torn heart. At last, we knew the patient, tender-hearted, magnificent patriot-hero for what he was - the second Father of his Country. At least a dozen men dropped in to "talk over" the bereavement. One, as rugged of feature and as soft of heart as our martyred head, said, huskily, holding my hand in our "good-bye":
"Somehow, it does me good to hear you talk, in your
Southern accent, of our common grief. I can't exactly express what it means to me. Words come hard to-day. But it may be a sign that this awful sorrow may, in God's hands, be the means of bringing us brothers together again. He always felt kindly toward them. Some day, they may be brought to see that they have lost their best friend. God knows!"
I thank Him that, in the fulness of time, the old man's hope has been fulfilled.
My husband brought home with him my youngest sister, Myrtle.
One of the incongruities that strike oddly across our moments of intensest emotion was, that, in the excitement of welcome and surprise (for I had had no intimation of her coming), I bethought myself that I had never known, until I heard her call my name, that girls' voices change as boys' do, in passing from childhood into youth. I left her a little girl in short dresses. In four years she had passed the delta
"Where the brook and river meet."
Girls and boys matured fast under the influences that had ripened her character.
It was a rare and lovely product which linked itself into the chain of my life, for the score of years beyond our reunion. To say that her companionship was a comfort and joy unspeakable, that summer, would be to describe feebly what her coming brought into my existence. The burden of solicitudes and suspense, of actual bereavement and dreads of the morrow's happenings, slid from my shoulders, as Christian's pack from him at the Cross. I grew young again.
My third baby-girl, Virginia Belle, was ten days old when my liberated brother was added, like a beautiful clasp, to the golden circle of our reunited family. He
came directly to us, and lingered longer than I had dared expect, for recuperation, and for enjoyment of the society from which he had been so long exiled.
A pretty love-story, the initial chapters of which had been rudely broken into by the war, was resumed and continued at this visit. That the girl-friend who had grown into a sister's place in our home and affection should marry my dearest brother, was a dream too fair of complexion and too symmetrical in proportions, to be indulged under conditions that had prevailed since his visit to Newark, almost five years ago. Yet this was the vision that began to define itself into a blessed reality, by the time the soldier- returned-from-the-war packed the outfit of civilized and civilian clothing - the getting-together of which had been one ostensible excuse for extending the visit - and took his way southward.
It was a divine breathing-spell for us and for the country - that summer of peace and plenty.
For three years past, we had spent each July and August in a roomy farm-house among the Jersey hills. For the first season, we were the only boarders. Then, perhaps because we boasted somewhat too freely of the healthfulness of the region, and the excellent country fare set before us by good Mrs. Blauvelt, the retreat from malaria and mosquitoes became too popular for our comfort. When there were three babies, a nurse, a visiting sister, our two selves, and a horse, to be accommodated, we found the once ample quarters too strait for us.
For baby Belle's sake we migrated late in June of this year. We were discussing the seriousness of the problem consequent upon a growing family, as we drove up a long hill, one July day, Alice on a cricket between us in the foot of the buggy, when an exclamation from my husband stopped a sentence in the middle. He drew the horse to a sudden halt.
Woodmen were busy with destructive axes upon a body of native trees at the left of our road. They had opened to our sight a view heretofore hidden by the wood. A lake, blue and tranquil as the heavens it mirrored; green slopes, running down to the water; wooded heights, bordering the thither banks, and around, as far as the eye could reach, mountains, benignant in outline and verdant to their summits, billowing, range beyond range, against the horizon - why had we never seen this before? It was like a section of the Delectable Mountains, gently lowered from Bunyan's Beulah Land, and set down within thirty miles of the biggest city in America.
The rapt silence was ended by one word from my companion:
He passed the reins into my hands, and leaped over the wheel. Making his way down the hill, he stopped to talk with the workmen for ten minutes. Then he came back, held up a hand to help me out of the carriage, and lifted "Brownie" in his arms. Next, he tied the horse to a tree, and, saying to me - "Come!" led the way to the lake.
We bought the tract, in imagination, and decided upon the site of our cottage, in the next half-hour. On the way home we called upon the owner of the tract, paid a hundred dollars down to bind the bargain, and left orders that not another tree was to be felled until further notice.
It would have been expecting too much of human nature had we been required to go back to the farm-house dinner, without driving again by "Our Land." The happy silence of the second survey culminated in my declaration and the instant assent of my companion to the same:
"And we will name it 'Sunnybank'!"
A CHRISTMAS REUNION - A MIDNIGHT WARNING -
GOOD MAN CAME TO "THE HAPPIEST DAY OF HIS LIFE"
"SKIES bright, and brightening!" was the clan watchword, in passing along the summons for a rally in the old home at Christmas-time, 1866, that should include three generations of the name and blood.
On Sunday, December 23d, we attended church in a body, in morning and afternoon. Not one was missing from the band except my brother Herbert, whose professional duties detained him over Sunday. He was pledged to be with us early on Monday morning.
That evening, we grouped about the fire in the parlor, a wide circle that left room for the babyest of the party to disport themselves upon the rug, in the glow of the grate piled with cannel coal. My father, entering last of all, stooped to pick up a granddaughter and kiss her, in remarking:
"I had intended to go down to hear Doctor Moore tonight. I am very fond of him as man and preacher. But" - a comprehensive glance around the room, pointing the demurrer - "you look so comfortable here that I am tempted to change my mind."
A chorus of entreaties broke forth. It had been so long since we had had - "all of us together - a Sunday evening at home; there was so much to talk of; Christmas was so near; the night was damp and raw; there would be snow by ten o'clock," etc. - all in a breath, until the dear man
put his hands to his ears, ready to promise anything and everything, for the sake of peace.
This was before supper, a jolly meal, over which we lingered until the mothers of the company had to hustle the younglings off to bed by the time we left the table.
Returning to the drawing-room after hearing my girls' prayers, and assuaging their impatience at the lagging flight of time, by telling them that, in twenty-two hours more, they would be hanging up their stockings, I found my father alone. He stood on the rug, looking down into the scarlet depths of the coals, his hands behind him and his head bent - in thought, not in sadness, for he turned a bright face to me as my voice awoke him from his revery:
" 'A penny for your thoughts!' "
I said it gayly, laying my hand on his shoulder. He turned his cheek to meet it.
"My thoughts were running upon what has kept them busy all day. I suppose I ought to be ashamed to confess it, but I lost one 'head' of Doctor Hoge's sermon this afternoon. I was thinking of - my children!"
His voice sank into a tender cadence it seldom took. He was reckoned an undemonstrative man, and he had a full strain of the New England Puritan in his blood.
I waited to steady my own voice before asking, softly, "And what of them, father?"
The query was never answered. The opening door let in a stream of happy humanity - mother, brothers, and sisters - Mea and her husband, Horace and Percy, Myrtle and her fiancé, "Will" Robertson, who would, ere long, be one of us in fact, as he was now in heart. They were full of Christmas plans and talk. Among other items one was fixed in my memory by subsequent events. In consequence of the intervention of Sunday, the business of decorating the house had to be postponed until Monday.
The evergreens were to be sent in from the country early on the morrow. Percy reported that the snow had begun to fall. If the roads were heavy by morning, would the countryman who had promised a liberal store of running cedar, pine, and juniper, in addition to the Christmas-tree, keep his word?
"I will see that the evergreens are provided," my father laid the disquiet by saying. "There will be no harm in engaging a double supply."
Then Mea went to the piano, and we had the olden-time Sunday-evening concert, all the dear old hymns we could recall, among them two called for by our father:
"God moves in a mysterious way,"
is an hour of peaceful rest,
To weary wanderers given;
There is a joy for souls distressed,
A balm for every wounded breast, -
'Tis found alone in Heaven!"
We sang, last of all, The Shining Shore, and talked of the time when the composer set the MS. upon the piano-rack, with the ink hardly dried upon the score, and trial was made of the music in that very room - could it be just eleven years ago?
My father left us as the clock struck ten. My mother lingered half an hour later. We all knew, although none of us spoke of it, that he liked to have a little time for devotional reading on Sunday evening, before he went to bed. He had not demitted the habit in fifty-odd years, yet I doubt if he had ever mentioned, even to his wife, why he kept it up and what it meant to him.
Our mother told me afterward that when she joined him in their chamber, the Bible was still open on the stand
before him. He closed it at her entrance and glanced around, a smile of serene happiness lighting up his face.
"We have had a delightful Sunday!" he observed. "It is like renewing my youth to have all the children about us once more."
He had had his breakfast and gone down-town, when we came into the dining-room next morning. At my exclamation of regretful surprise, our mother told us how he had hurried the meal for himself, pleading that he had much to attend to that forenoon. The snow was not deep, but it was sodden by the fine rain that had succeeded it toward the dawn of the gray December day, and he feared the evergreens might not be forthcoming.
"I shall send a couple of carts into the country at once," were his parting words. "I would not have the children disappointed for ten times the worth of the evergreens."
It was to be a busy morning with us all. As soon as breakfast was dispatched, the long table - pulled out to its utmost limit to accommodate the tribe - was cleared of dishes, plates, and cloth, and we fell to tying up parcels for the tree, sorting bonbons, and other light tasks. Mince-pies, concocted according to the incomparable recipe handed down from mother to daughter, in the Montrose and Olney families, for a century-and-a-half, had been baked last week, and loaded the pantry-shelves. My mother's unsurpassable crullers, superintended by herself at Christmas, and at no other season, were packed away in stone jars; and, that no distinctive feature of Yuletide might be missing from the morrow's dinner, the whitest, plumpest, tenderest sucking pig the market could offer, lay at length in a platter in the store-room. Before he could go into the oven, he would be buttered from nose to toes, and coated with bread-crumbs. When he appeared on the table, he would be adorned with a necklace of sausages,
cranberries would fill out the sunken eyes, and a lemon be thrust into his mouth. A mammoth gobbler, fattened for the occasion, would support him at the other end of the board.
I had offered last Friday to make pumpkin-pies - the genuine New England brand, such as my father had eaten at Thanksgiving in the Dorchester homestead.
The colored cooks could not compass the delicacy. He had sent home four bouncing pumpkins on Saturday, and two had been pared, eviscerated, and stewed. I sat at the far end of the table, beating, seasoning, and tasting. My mother was filling candy-bags at the other, when Myrtle rallied her upon not tasting the confectionery, of which she was extravagantly fond.
"Mother is saving up her appetite for the Christmas pig!" she asserted.
"I never eat sweets when I have a headache," was the answer. "I did not sleep well last night."
This led to her account of a "queer fright" she had had at midnight, or thereabouts. Awakened from her first sound sleep by the unaccountable thrill of alarm each of us has felt, in the impression that some one or something that has no right to be there, is in the darkened chamber, she lay still with beating heart and listened for further proof of the intrusion. In a few minutes she heard a faint rustle that ran from the farthest window toward her bed, and passed to the door leading into the hall. Thoroughly startled, she shook my father's shoulder and whispered to him that there was some one in the room. He sprang up, lighted the gas, and made a thorough search of the chamber and the dressing-room. The door was locked, and, besides themselves, there was no occupant of the apartment. He had fallen asleep again, when she heard the same rustling noise, louder and more definite than before. There was no mistaking the direction of the movement.
It began at the window, swept by the bed, and was lost at the door. The terrified wife again awoke her husband, and he made the round a second time, with the same result as before.
When the mysterious movement seemed to brush her at the third coming, she aroused her companion in an agony of nervousness:
"I am terribly ashamed of my foolishness," she told him, shivering with nameless fears; "but there really is something here, now!" He was, as I have said in a former part of my true story, usually so intolerant of nervous whimsies that we forbore to express them in his hearing. He had mellowed and sweetened marvellously within the last few years, as rare vintages are sure to ripen. Arising now, with a good- humored laugh, he made a third exploration of the premises, and with no better result. When he lay down again, he put his hand affectionately upon my mother's arm with a soothing word:
"I will hold you fast! You are the most precious thing in the house. Neither burglar nor bogie shall get you."
"What was it?" we asked.
"Oh, probably the wind blowing the shade, or making free with something else that was loose. It was a stormy night. We agreed, this morning, that it must have been that."
She spoke carelessly, and we took the incident as little to heart. Passing through the hall, awhile later, I espied my maid Ellen, who had lived with me for five years, whispering with a mulatto woman in a corner. They fell apart at seeing me, and Ellen followed me to the sitting-room.
"Rhoda was saying that the colored people think what happened last night was a warnin'," she observed, with affected lightness. "They are awful superstitious, ma'am, ain't they?"
"Very superstitious and very ignorant!" I returned, severely.
The trifling episode was gone, like a vapor passing from a mirror, before my brother Herbert appeared. He had arisen at daybreak, driven to Petersburg, and taken there the train to Richmond, arriving by nine o'clock.
At the same hour our father reached his office. I have heard the story of his walk down-town so minutely described that I can trace each step. It was more than a mile from his house to the office. There were no streetcars or omnibuses in the city, at that time. Sometimes he drove to his place of business; sometimes he rode on horseback. Generally, he chose to walk. He was a fine horseman and a fearless driver, from his youth up. At sixty-eight he carried himself as erect as at thirty, and made less of tramping miles in all weathers than men of half his age thought of pacing a dozen squares on a sunny day. As he had reminded his wife, in excusing his hurried breakfast, there were errands, many and important, to be looked after. He stopped at Pizzini's, the noted confectioner of the town, to interview that dignitary in person, anent a cake of noble proportions and brave with ornate icing - Christmas fruit-cake - of Pizzini's own composition, for which the order was given a week ago. To the man of sweets he said that nothing must hinder the delivery of the cake beyond that evening.
"We are planning a royal, old-fashioned family Christmas," he subjoined, "and there must be no disappointments."
The evergreens were ordered as stringently. Two cart-loads, as he had said, and two more Christmas-trees, in case one was not satisfactory. "There must be no disappointments."
Not far from Pizzini's he met Doctor Haxall, also "Christmasing." The two silver-haired men shook hands,
standing in the damp snow on the corner, and exchanged the compliments of the season.
"What has come to you?" queried the doctor, eying his friend curiously. "You are renewing your youth. You have the color, the step, and the eyes of a boy!"
"Doctor!" letting his hand drop upon the other's shoulder, "to morrow will be the happiest day of my life! After four terrible years of war and separation, I am to have in the old home all my children and grandchildren - a united and loving family. It will be the first time in eight years! My cup runneth over!"
He strode into his office with the springing step that had brought him all the long mile and a half; spoke cheerily to two or three employees who were on hand; remarked upon the weather, and his confidence that we would have a fine day to-morrow, and laid aside his overcoat and hat. Then he stepped to the outer door to issue an order to two colored men standing there, began to speak, put his hand to his head, and fell forward. The men caught him, saved him from falling, and supported him to a chair. He pointed to the door, and spoke one word:
My brother was his partner in business, and he could not be far away. The messenger met him within a short distance of the door. The dulling eyes brightened at sight of him; with an inarticulate murmur, the stricken man raised his hand to his head, to indicate the seat of pain, leaned back upon the strong young arms that held him, and closed his eyes.
He was still breathing when they brought him home. Doctor Haxall had galloped on ahead of the carriage containing him and the attendants, to prepare us measurably for what was coming. The unconscious master of the home was brought through the hall between banks of evergreens, delivered in obedience to his order issued
but three hours earlier. Two tall Christmas-trees and three wagon-loads of running cedar, pine, and spruce heaped the floor, and were pushed aside hastily by the servants to make way for the mournful procession.
He did not speak or move after they laid him upon his own bed.
One more hour of anguished waiting, and we knew that he had entered upon the "happiest day of his life."
TWO BRIDALS - A BIRTH AND A PASSING -
"MY LITTLE LOVE" -
"DRIFTING OUT" - A NONPAREIL PARISH
IN October, 1867, I had the great happiness of seeing my favorite brother married to the woman he had loved so long and so faithfully that the marriage was the fitting and only sequel the romance of the Civil War could have. From the day of our coming to Newark, she, who was now my sister, then a school-girl, had established herself in our hearts. She was my sister Alice's most intimate friend, and, after Alice left us, glided into the vacant place naturally. With the delicacy and discretion characteristic of a fine and noble nature, she never, during those dreary years of separation and silence, alluded, in her talks with me, to the tacit "understanding" existing between herself and my brother. When he visited us immediately upon his liberation from Fort Delaware, it was evident that both of the unacknowledged lovers took up the association where it had been severed four years ago.
They were wedded on October 5th. The next day Mr. (now "Doctor") Terhune, the three little girls, and myself, with their nurse, took the train for Richmond to assist in the preparations for the marriage of Myrtle and "Will" Robertson. The newly wedded pair returned from their bridal tour in season to witness the second marriage, on October 17th.
On February 4, 1869, my little Myrtle opened her beautiful eyes upon the world in which she was to have
an abiding-place for so short a time that the fast, bright months of her sojourn are as a dream to me at this distance from that spring and summer. She was a splendid baby, finely developed, perfect in feature, as in form, and grew so rapidly in size and strength that my fashionable friends pointed to her as a lively refutation of my theory that "bottle babies" were never so strong as those who had their natural nourishment. A tedious spell of intermittent fever that laid hold of me, when she was but two months old, deprived her of her rightful nutriment. When she was four months old, we removed for the summer to Sunnybank, and set aside one cow expressly for her use. She throve gloriously until, in September, dentition sapped her vitality, and, as I had dreaded might ensue upon the system of artificial feeding, none of the various substitutes for nature's own provision for the young of the human race, were assimilated by the digestive organs. On the last day of the month she passed into safer hands than ours.
I have told the story of our Alice's wonderful life in My Little Love. Now that my mind and nerves have regained a more healthful tone than they could claim during the months when I found a sad solace in the portraiture of our lost darling, I cannot trust myself to dwell at length upon the rich endowments of mind and heart that made the ten-year-old girl the idol of her home, and a favorite with playmates and acquaintances. Although thirty-five years have set that beautiful life among the things of a former generation, I still meet those who recollect and speak of her as one might of a round and perfect star.
We, her parents, knew her for what she was, while she was spared to glorify our home. Once and again, we congratulated ourselves that we comprehended the value of our treasure while we held it - did not wait for the brightening
of the fleeting blessing. When He who bestowed the good and perfect gift recalled her to Himself, we thanked Him, from the sincere depths of broken hearts, that He had deemed us worthy to keep it for Him for almost eleven years.
She went from us January 1, 1874.
By the time the spring opened, repeated hemorrhages from lungs I had been vain enough to believe were exceptionally strong, had reduced me to a pitiable state of weakness.
If I have not spoken, at every stage of the narrative of these late years, of the unutterable goodness of Newark friends and parishioners, it is not that this had abated in degree, or weakened in quality. In all our afflictions they bore the part of comforters to whom our losses were theirs. Strong arms and hearts in our hours of weakness were ever at our call. When it became apparent that my health was seriously impaired, the "people," with one voice, insisted that Doctor Terhune should take a vacation of uncertain length, and go with me to the Adirondacks for as long a time as might be needed to restore me to health and vigor.
I had worked hard for the past five or six years. Besides my literary engagements, which were many, including the arrangement of material for, and publication of, Common Sense in the Household, I was deep in church and charitable work, and had a large visiting-list. Little account was made, at that date, of nervous prostration. I should have laughed that little to scorn had it been intimated by physician or friend that I was a victim to the disorder. I know now, to a certainty, that I was so near the "verge" that a touch would have toppled me over. My very ignorance of the peril may have saved me from the fall.
We were four months in the Adirondacks. Except that
the sore lungs drew in the resinous airs more freely than they had taken in the fog-laden salt air of the lowlands, and that I slept better, I could not discern any improvements in my condition when the shortening and cooling days called us southward.
In July, a telegram from Richmond had informed me of my mother's death. So battered and worn was I that the full import of the tidings did not reach my mind and heart, until my brother Herbert sought in the balsam forests relief from the cares of home and parish, and we talked together of our common loss in the quiet woods fringing the lake. I shall never forget the strange chill that froze my heart during one of these talks, when I bethought myself that I now belonged to the "passing generation." My mother's going had struck down a harrier which kept off the cold blast from the boundless Sea of Eternity. I could not shake off the fancy for many weeks. It recurred to me in wakeful midnights, and in the enforced rest succeeding toilful days, until it threatened to become an obsession. Instead of accepting this and other, to me, novel and distressing sensations, as features of confirmed invalidism, I fought them with all the might of a will that was not used to submission.
The next winter was one of ceaseless conflict. I grew insanely sensitive on the subject of my failing health. When, after walking quickly up the stairs, or climbing the hill from the lower town to our home, a fit of coughing brought the blood to my lips, I stanched it with my handkerchief and kept the incident to myself. I went into a shop, or turned a corner, to avoid meeting any one who would be likely to question me as to my health, or remark upon my pallor. At home, the routine of work knew no break; I attended and presided at charitable and parish meetings, as if nervous prostration were a figment of the hypochondriacal imagination.
So well did I play the part to the members of my own household, that my husband himself believed me to be on the low, if not the high, road to recovery. He was as busy in his line as I pretended to be in mine, and certain projects affecting the future welfare of his parish were on foot, enlisting his lively interest. How far the pious deception may have gone, was not to be tested. The active intervention of one plain-spoken woman was the pivotal point of our two lives.
I mentioned, some chapters back, the call of one of my best friends and the best neighbor I ever had, on the day of Mr. Lincoln's death. Although we had removed, by medical advice, to the higher part of the city, and a full mile away from her home, she never relaxed her neighborly kindness. I had not been aware of her close surveillance of myself; still less did I suspect at what conclusion she had arrived. She had reasons, cogent and sad, for surveillance and conclusions. Several members of her own family had died of consumption, and she was familiar with the indications of the Great White Plague. When she came, day after day, to take me to drive at noon, when, as she phrased it, "the world was properly aired," and, when she could not come, sent carriage and coachman with the request that I would use the conveyance at pleasure - I was touched and a little amused at what was, I conceived, exaggerated solicitude for me, whose indisposition was only temporary. Meanwhile, her quick eyes and keen wits were busy. Not a change of color, not a flutter of the breath escaped her, and in the fulness of time she opened her mouth and spoke.
My husband had a habit, of many years' standing, of winding up a busy, harassing day by dropping into the home of our whilom neighbors, and having a tranquillizing cigar with the husband. I never expected him home before midnight when he did this, and on one particular
evening, knowing that he was at the B.'s, and feeling more than usually fatigued, I went to bed at ten. Awakened, by-and-by, by the glare of a gas-burner full in my face, I unclosed my eyes upon a visage so full of anxiety so haggard with emotion, that I started up in alarm.
"Don't be frightened!" he said, soothingly. "Nothing has happened. But, is it true that you are so ill as Mrs. B. would have me believe? And have I been blind?"
The energetic little lady had, as she confessed to me when I charged her with it, freed her burdened mind without reserve or fear:
"It was time somebody opened his eyes, and I felt myself called to do it."
Within twenty-four hours a consultation of physicians was held.
They, too, made no secret of their verdict. The apex of the right lung was gone, and it was doubtful whether anything could prevent the rapid waste of both. When Doctor Terhune, ever a stanch believer in the efficacy of change of air and place, declared his determination to take me abroad, without the delay of a month, two of the Galens affirmed that it would be of no use. I "had not three months of life left to me, under the most favorable circumstances."
The ghastly truth was withheld from me at the time. I was told that I must not spend another winter in Newark, and that we would, if possible, go to the south of Europe for the winter. "To go abroad" had been the dream of my life. Yet, under the anticipation of the labor and bustle of closing the house, perhaps breaking up our home for good, and going forth into a new world, my strength failed utterly. Now that my husband knew the worst, there was no more need of keeping up appearances. I became aware that I had, all along, been holding on to life with will-power that had no physical underpinning. Each day
found me weaker and more spiritless. The idea that I was clinging to a shred of existence by a thinning thread, seized upon me like a nightmare. And I was tired! tired! TIRED!
There came a day when I resolved to let go and drift out.
That was the way I put it to my husband when he approached my bed, from which I never arose until nine or ten o'clock, and inquired how I felt.
"I am worn out, holding on!" I informed him. "I shall not get up to-day. All that is needed to end the useless fight is to let go and drift out. I shall drift!"
He sat down on the side of the bed and looked at me. Not gloomily, but thoughtfully. There was not a suspicion of sentimentality in the gaze, or in the tone in which he remarked, reflectively:
"I appreciate fully what you mean, and how hard it is for you to keep on living. And I say nothing of the inconvenience it would cause your girls and myself were you to die. It is asking a great deal of you -" (bringing out the words slowly and with seeming reluctance). "But if you could bring yourself to live until Bert is through college, it would be a great kindness all around. The boy will go to the devil without his mother. Think of it - won't you? Just hold on until your boy is safely launched in life."
With that he left me to "think of it."
My boy! My baby! Just four years old, on my last birthday! The man-child, of whom I was wont to say proudly that he was the handsomest birthday gift I ever had, and that no young man could ever pay his mother a more delicate and gracious compliment than he had paid me in timing his advent upon December 21st. The baby that had Alice's eyes and brunette coloring! I lay still, staring up at the ceiling, and doing the fastest thinking I
had ever accomplished. I saw the motherless boy, sensitive and high-spirited, affectionate and clever, the butt of rude lads, and misinterpreted by brutish teachers; exposed to fiery temptations at school and in college, and yielding to them for the lack of a mother's training and the ægis of a mother's love.
"The boy will go to the devil without his mother!"
Hard words those, and curtly uttered, but they struck home as coaxings and arguments and peltings could not have done.
In half an hour my husband looked in upon me again. I intercepted remark or query by saying:
"Will you ring the bell for Rose to help me dress? I have made up my mind to hold on for a while longer."
The tactful ruse had given me a new lease of life.
One more circumstance connected with our first foreign trip may be worth mentioning here.
During the summer of 1855, which I spent in Boston and the vicinity, I consulted Ossian Ashley with regard to a project that had engaged my mind for some months - viz., indulging my long-cherished desire to visit Europe, and to spend a year there. There was no reason, that I could see, why I should wait longer to put the plan into execution. My parents were living, and were in the prime of healthy maturity; I had plenty of money of my own, and, if I had not, my father would cheerfully defray the expenses of the trip. We discussed the scheme at length, and with growing zest. Then he made the proposition that his wife should accompany me, taking her boy and girl along (she had but two children then), and that he would join us in time to journey with us for a few months, and bring us home.
With this well-digested scheme in my mind, I returned to Richmond. There I met with strenuous opposition from an unexpected quarter:
"If you will stay at home and marry me, I guarantee to take you abroad within seven years," was one of the few promises the speaker ever broke to me.
Just twenty-one years from the day in which Ossian Ashley and I blocked out the route his wife and I would take on the other side, I looked into his New York office to say that we had engaged passage for Liverpool for October 15th, and that we expected to be absent for two years at the least.
His look was something to be remembered. His son was in a Berlin University, and Mrs. Ashley and her two young daughters would sail on September 15th for Liverpool, intending to go thence to Germany. They would remain there for two years.
On the morrow, we had a letter from him, notifying us that they had exchanged the date of sailing for October 15th, and the boat for the City of Berlin, in which we were to sail.
"A trifling delay of twenty-one years!" observed my husband, philosophically. "If all human projects came as near prompt fulfilment as that, there would be fewer grumblers."
We took with us our three children and my maid, who had been the boy's nurse. In Loiterings in Pleasant Paths, written in part while we sojourned abroad, she figures as "The Invaluable." Never was title more justly earned. In that book the events of the next two years are recorded at greater length than they could be set down here.
I made no note there of the pain that seemed to pluck out our heartstrings, consequent upon our parting with our Newark parish and fellow-citizens. We had grown with the place, which was a mere village, eighteen years ago, by comparison with the large city we left. Her interests were ours. Doctor Terhune was identified with her public and private enterprises, and known by sight and by reputation throughout the town and its environs. His church stubbornly refused to consider his resignation
as final. He might have an indefinite leave of absence - two, four, six years - provided he would engage to come to them when he could bring me back well. He wisely refused to listen to the proposal. The business quarter of the thriving city was encroaching upon the neighborhood of the church. It was likely to be abandoned as "a residential locality" within a few; years. In which event, the removal of building and congregation would be a necessity. The history of such changes in the character of sections of fast-enlarging cities is familiar to all urbanites. It was essential, in the opinion of the retiring incumbent, that the church should select another pastor speedily, if it would retain its integrity and identity.
The love and loyalty that had enveloped us, like a vitalizing atmosphere, for almost a score of winters and summer wrapped us warmly to the last. There were public receptions and private house-parties, by the dozen, and
such as press
The life from out the heart," -
and a gathering on the steamer on sailing-day that made us homesick in anticipation of the actual rending of ties that were living flesh and blood - and we were afloat.
As one of the leading men in the church shook my husband's hand, in leaving the deck, he pressed into it an envelope. We were well down the bay when it was opened. It contained a supplementary letter of credit of three thousand dollars - the farewell gift of a few men whose names accompanied the token.
"Faithful to the end!" murmured the recipient, reading the short list through mists that thickened between his eyes and the paper. "Had ever another man such a parish?"
I answered "No!" then, emphatically.
My response would be the same to-day.
TWO YEARS OVERSEAS - LIFE IN ROME AND GENEVA
THE main events of the two years spent abroad by our small family, including "The Invaluable," as we soon came to call Rose O'Neill, are set down in Loiterings in Pleasant Paths, a chatty volume of travel and sojourn, published soon after our return to America. The private record of those two dozen months would far surpass the book in bulk. It will never be written except as it is stamped upon "the fleshly tables of the hearts" of those who lived and loved, studied, and revelled with us.
We had meant to pass the first winter in Paris, but the most beautiful city of the world was unfriendly to my sore and aching lung. After an experiment of six weeks, we broke camp and sped southward. Ten days in the fair Florence I was to learn in after years to love as a second home, repeated the doleful tale of fog, rain, and chill that pierced our bones.
An old Richmond friend, with whom I had had many a jolly frolic in my early girlhood, was now Reverend Doctor Taylor, a resident of Rome. After the exchange of several letters, we adopted his friendly advice that we should give the Eternal City a trial as the refuge we sought - so much less hopefully than at first, that I entreated my husband, on the rainy evening of our arrival in Rome, not to push inquiries further, but to let me go home, and die in comfort there.
Doctor Taylor had ordered rooms for us in a family
hotel well spoken of by Americans, and was at the station to conduct us to our quarters.
I was deposited upon a sofa, when my wraps were removed, and lay there, fairly wearied out by the railway journey. The room was fireless and carpetless. I could feel the chill of the stone flooring and the bare walls through the blankets in which I was swathed by distressful Rose, who "guessed these Eyetalians hadn't the first notion of what American comfort is!" Three long French casements afforded a full view of leaden, low-stooping skies and straight sheets of rain. When a fire of sticks, besmeared with resin, was coaxed into a spiteful flare, the smoke puffed as spitefully into the room, and drifted up to the ceiling twenty feet overhead. Invited by my ever hospitable husband to seat himself near an apology for a cheery hearthstone - less pitiful to him after his ten years residence in Italy than to us, the new arrivals - our friend fell into social chat of ways and means. The carpet would be down to-morrow; the sun would shine to-morrow; I would be rested to-morrow.
He broke off with a genial laugh there, to impart a bit of information we were to prove true to the utmost during the next year:
"Everything is 'domano' with Italians. I think the babies are born with it in their mouths. One falls into the habit with mortifying ease."
I am afraid I dozed for a few minutes, lulled by the patter of rain and the low-toned talk going on at the far (literally) side of the apartment. A lively visitor used to wonder if we "could see across it on cloudy days without an opera-glass."
This was the next sentence that reached me:
"Thus far, we have met with discouragement. March is the most trying month to weak lungs in America. And ever since we landed in Liverpool we have had nothing but
March weather. I think now we shall push on to Algiers" - glancing ruefully at the murky windows. "Upon one I thing I am determined - to find a land where there is no March, as we know the month. For one year I want to secure that for my wife's breathing apparatus."
"I know of but one such region." The answer was in the slight drawl natural to the George Taylor I used to know; the speaker stared sombrely into the peevish fire.
"And that?" interrogated the other, eagerly.
The drawl had now a nasal touch befitting the question:
'No chilling winds, no poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore!' "
"Heavens and earth, man! That is just where I don't want her to go yet! Nor for many a long year!"
The laugh I could not suppress helped to warm and brighten us all. Do any of us suspect how much we owe to the funny side of life?
Thus began my Roman winter. With "domano" came the sunshine and the carpet, and the first of the hundred drives in and about the storied city, that were to bring healing and vigor, such as even my optimistic husband had scarcely dared to anticipate. That I am alive upon this wonderful, beautiful earth at this good hour, I owe, under God, to those divine four months among the Seven Hills. Doctor Terhune had received the appointment to the Chaplaincy of the American Chapel in Rome before we left Paris. He decided to accept it within a week after our arrival in the Eternal City. It was a cosey corner for pastor and flock - that little church in Piazza Poli, belonging to an Italian Protestant corporation, and occupied by them for half of each Sunday, by American tourists and transient residents of Rome for the other half. All my memories of the wonderful and bewitching winter are happy. None have a gentler charm than those which
renew the scenes of quiet Sunday forenoons when visitors from the dear home-land, who had never before looked upon the faces of their fellow-worshippers, gathered by common consent in the place "where prayer was wont to be made" in their own tongue. There were no strangers in the assembly that lingered in the tiny vestibule and blocked the aisle when the service was over. The spirit of mutual helpfulness spoke in eye and speech. It should not have been considered singular that those thus convened were, almost without exception, refined and educated, and so unlike the commonly accepted type of travelling American, that we often commented upon the fact in conferences with familiar friends. We felicitated our selves that we caught the cream of the flow of tourists, that season.
"It is a breath of the dear old home-life!" said more than one attendant upon the simple services, where the congregation was kaleidoscopic in outward seeming, the same in spirit.
I cannot pass over this period of our foreign life without a tribute to one whose friendship and able co-operation in the work laid to Doctor Terhune's hand, did more than any other one influence to make for him a home in Rome. Dr. Leroy M. Vernon, who subsequently became Dean of the University of Syracuse, in New York State, was the rarest combination of strength and gentleness I have ever seen. He had been for some years resident in Rome; was an enthusiastic archaeologist and art-student, speaking Italian with fluency and grace, and thoroughly au fait to the best literature of that tongue. From the beginning of their acquaintanceship, the two men fraternized heartily. In the ripening of liking into intimacy, they walked, rode, talked, and studied together. What the association was to the younger of the two, may be imagined by one who has had the privilege of close communion with a beloved
comrade who held the key to the treasure-house one has rouged all his life to enter.
"The winter in Italy with Vernon was worth more to me than a course in the Academy of Fine Arts, combined with ten years of archæological lectures from experts," was the testimony of the survivor, twenty years later, when the news of the dean's death was brought to us.
They loved each other tenderly to the end of mortal companionship.
Who can doubt that it has been renewed in the City where eager minds are never checked by physical weakness, and aspiration is identical with fulfilment?
In mid-May, when the Pincio put on its beautiful garments in the purple flowering of the Judas-trees, and the tawny Tiber rolled between hills of living green, we turned our backs upon what those marvellous months had wrought into our own familiar dwelling-place, and took our sad, reluctant way to Florence. Five weeks there were varied by excursions to Fiesole, Bologna, and Venice. Our next move was to Lucerne. Leaving the children in care of "The Invaluable," we ran up to Heidelberg, joining there our kinspeople, the Ashleys, and travelling with them leisurely over mountain and through pass, until we brought up in Geneva.
We were hardly settled, as we supposed for the season, in the bright little town of Calvin and Voltaire, when a summons came from the American Chapel in Paris for Doctor Terhune's services, pending the absence of the regular incumbent in America, whither he had been summoned by the illness of his mother. We had no thought that the separation of the head from our transplanted family would be a matter of even a few weeks, whereas it lasted for four months. There was visiting back and fro; a reunion at Christmas under the massive crowns of mistletoe, such as grow nowhere else - not even in the Britain of the Druids
- and a memorable New-Year's dinner at the Hotel Metropole, arranged under American auspices, the chief pride of the feast being mince-pies, concocted by Yankee housewives, and misspelled among the French dishes on the gorgeously illuminated menus. In February, my eldest daughter and myself went to Paris for a fortnight - a tentative trip which proved beyond a question that the air of the city on the Seine was rank poison to the healing lungs. We hurried back to jolly, friendly Geneva, where I could walk five miles per diem in air that was the very elixir of life to my system, physical, mental, and moral. Even the lusty winds from Mont Blanc, and the rough gales that lashed Lake Leman into yeasty ridges for a week at a time, wrought strength, instead of harm. That bodily strength grew apace was but one element in the fulness of content in which we basked throughout the eight months we spent in the lakeside city, behind which the Alps stood in sublime calmness that was in itself tonic and inspiration. We had a pleasant appartement in the Pension Magnenat, directly upon the quay. From our drawing-room windows we looked across the lake upon the Juras, capped with snow, and made beautiful exceedingly all day long, by changeful lights and shadows, reflected in the waters in opaline, prismatic hues we had never seen surpassed, even in Italy.
The American colony in Geneva has a stable reputation for intelligence and good-breeding. One expects to find these in university towns abroad, as at home. It may not have been unusually delightful that winter. Perhaps climate and health combined with our peaceful domestic life, to incline us to be more than satisfied with our social environment. Certain it is that the circle of congenial associates, that had widened to take us in, as a part of a harmonious corporate whole, was, to our apprehension, ideally charming. Everybody had some specific work or
pursuit to explain his, or her residence in Geneva. The younger men were in the university, or in preparation for it, with "coaches"; the girls were studying French, German, and Italian, or painting from nature under such instructors as Madame Vouga, whose renown as a painter of wild flowers was international. We matrons had a reading-class, enlivened by the membership of our daughters, that met weekly at the house of some one of the party. To it we brought our easels, boards, and paint-boxes, our embroidery, or other fancy-work. One of the girls read aloud for two hours - history, biography, or essay - and at five o'clock what had been read was discussed freely over afternoon tea. A club of young people of both sexes read German, alternately with Italian and French plays, on Wednesday night, in my salon, I playing chaperon at my embroidery- frame at a side-table, and admitted to the merry chat that went around with coffee and cake, when the reading was concluded. Some of the members of that informal "Club" have made their mark in the large outer world since that care-free, all-satisfying sojourn in what we forgot to call an alien land, so happily did we blend with the classic influences, lapping us about so softly that we were never conscious of the acclimating process.
The tall youth, who submitted meekly (or gallantly) to correction of lingual lapses in his rendering of Molière or Wallenstein or Ariosto, from the girl at his elbow - revenging himself by a brisk fire of badinage in honest English after the books were closed - is an eminent metropolitan lawyer, whose income runs up well into the tens of thousands; another, a Berlin graduate, is the dignified dean of a law school attached to an American university; another is a college professor; another, a Genevan graduate, is rising in fame and fortune in an English city; one, beloved by all, completed a brilliant course at Harvard, and when hope and life were in their prime, laid his noble head down
for his last sleep in Mount Auburn. The gay girls are staid matrons and mothers now, with sons and daughters of their own, as old as themselves were in that far-off, care-free time.
I have written "care-free" twice upon one page, and because I can conjure up no other phrase that so aptly describes what that veritable arbor on the Hill Difficulty we call "Life," was to me. Household cares were an unknown quantity in the well-conducted pension. Our breakfast of French rolls, coffee, tea, boiled eggs, honey and, for the younger children, creamy milk, was brought to our salon every morning. A substantial luncheon (the déjeuner à la fourchette) was served in the pension salle à manger at one, and a dinner of six or seven courses, at seven. Our fellow-guests were, for the most part, unobjectionable; a fair proportion were agreeable and desirable acquaintances. About one-third were Americans; another third were English; the rest were Italians, Germans, Russians, and French. A table at one end of the room was assigned to English-speaking boarders, and we soon made up a pleasant clique that did not, however, exclude several foreigners. Thus we persisted in calling them to ourselves. There were excursions every few day to places of interest within easy reach. Coppet, the home and burial-place of Madame de Staël; the Villa Diodati, where Byron and Shelley lived and wrote; Ferney the château from which Voltaire wrote letters to the magnates of the world, and within the walls of which he entertained all the famous wits and many of the beauties of his stirring times; Chillon, immortalized by Bonnivard and the poem founded upon his captivity - were some of the memorable haunts with which frequent visits made us familiar.
Exercise was a luxury in the ozone-fraught air, fresh every morning, and work was the natural result of the abounding vitality thus engendered. In no other quarter
of the globe have I found such sustained vigor of mental and physical forces as during our residence in Switzerland. I record the fact gratefully, and as a possible helpful suggestion to other sufferers from the overstimulating climate and prevalent energy of American life. Rome was a gracious rest; Geneva was upbuilding.
It was a positive wrench to the heartstrings to leave her in May, and take our course leisurely northward.
The summer was given, and happily, to England, our headquarters being, successively, the Isle of Wight, Leamington, and Brighton.
Late in September, we sailed for New York.
SUNNYBANK - A NEW ENGLAND PARISH -
"MY BOYS" -
TWO "STARRED" NAMES
WITH no more idea as to our permanent abiding-place than had the Father of the Faithful, when he turned his back upon Ur of the Chaldees, and his face toward a land he knew not of, "still journeying toward the south," in obedience to daily marching orders - we sought, upon reaching our native shores, the one pied-à-terre left to us on the continent.
Sunnybank had been left in charge of the gardener, who, with his comely English wife and four children, had now occupied the lodge at the gate of our domain for ten years. He was Pompton-born and bred, and so unromantic in sentiment and undemonstrative in demeanor, that we were not prepared to behold a triumphal wreath on the gate when we drove into the grounds. No human creature was visible until, winding through the grove that hides the house from the highway, we saw the whole family collected about the door. All were in holiday garb; wreaths of goldenrod hung in the windows, and above the porch was tacked a scroll with the word "WELCOME" wrought upon it in the same flowers. Yet more amazed were we when, as Doctor Terhune stepped from the carriage, Conrad knelt suddenly and embraced the knees of his employer, with an inarticulate shout of joy, tears raining down his tanned cheeks.
"Just like a scene in an English play!" commented
Christine, afterward. "But not a bit like what one would expect in Pompton, New Jersey, U. S. A."
The unexpectedness of it all, especially the involuntary outbreak in a man who had never seen a play in his life, and despised "foolishness" of whatsoever description, moved us to answering softness, and brought the first rush of home-gladness we had felt since landing. For, to be honest, I confess that none of us were as yet reconciled to exchanging the life we had luxuriated in for the past two years - full, rich, and varied - for a toilful routine of parish duties, we knew not where. Without confiding the weakness to the others, each of us, as we owned subsequently with a twinge of shame, had been wofully dashed in spirit by the circumstances attending our arrival. Clarence Ashley had met us upon the wharf, his mother and sisters being at their country-place; the day was unseasonably warm for late September, and New York was in its least attractive out-of-season dress and mood. The docks were dirty, and littered with trunks, crates, and boxes; the custom-house officers were slow, and most of them sulky. We parted on the wharf with a dear friend from Virginia, who had travelled with us for nearly a year, and had taken return passage in the same ship. She had a home to which to go. We felt like pilgrims and strangers in a foreign land. As the carriage into which we had I packed ourselves threaded its way through the grimy purlieus of the lower city, I found myself saying over mentally the unpatriotic doggerel I used to declare was unworthy of any true American:
streets are narrow and the buildings mean -
Did I, or fancy, leave them broad and clean?"
Then, the fields and roads past which the train (yclept "an accommodation") bumped and swung, were ragged and dusty; the hedge-rows were unkempt, the trees
untrimmed. Fresh as we were from the verdure of English parks, the shaven lawns, and blossoming hedges that make a garden-spot of the tight little island we proudly recognized as our Old Home, the effect of that sultry afternoon was distinctly depressing. Our lakeside cottage, the one nook in all the broad land we could call "Home," on this side of the water, was another disappointment. Mrs. Haycock and her girls had wrought zealously to make it comfortable, and even festive. The wee rooms (as they looked to us) were shining clean; flowers were set here and there, white curtains, white bedspreads, and bright brasses betokened loving solicitude for our welfare and contentment, and the good woman had ready a hot supper, enriched with such Pompton dainties as she knew we loved. "The Invaluable" bustled over luggage, and added finishing touches to bedrooms and nursery. I am sure she was the only one of the returned exiles who was really happy that night.
I am thus frank in relating our experiences, because I believe them to be identical with those of a majority of tourists, upon resuming home-habits in their native country. After excitement and novelty comes the ebb-tide of reaction for the bravest and the most loving. Home is home but readjustment precedes real enjoyment of the old scenes and ways.
We were hardly settled in the nest before we paid a promised visit to Richmond. There were resident there, now, three families of the clan. My brother Horace and the noble wife with whom my intimacy continued unshadowed by a cloud of distrust until her death in 1894; my sister Myrtle, more my daughter than sister, her husband, and the boy who was my husband's namesake; and Percy, the youngling of the brood, with a dainty little spouse and their first-born son - made up the group that welcomed us to dear old Richmond in early December.
To this was added, a week or so later, our eldest sister,
who journeyed all the way from her Missouri home to join in the greetings to the whilom wanderers. We had one more Christmas-week together - the last that was to collect the unbroken band under one roof-tree. Then Mea went westward, and we took our way toward the north, leaving Christine to make her début in society under the auspices of her uncles and aunts, and where her mother had first tasted the pleasures of young-ladyhood.
It was, as I wrote to her, history repeating itself, and that I felt as if I had taken root again in my native soil, and was budding anew into a second springtime.
In May I wrote to the girl whose first winter "out" had, thanks to the affectionate adoption of uncles and aunts, fulfilled her rosiest dreams:
"Do you recollect that I quoted to you at our parting in January, what a quaint old lady said to me in my girlhood: 'My dear, you may be an angel some day! You will never be young again. Therefore, make the most of youth.'
"I paraphrase her counsel now, and to you: Make the most of your present freedom, for you are going to be a pastor's daughter again. As you know, your father has been preaching hither and yon all winter, and has had four calls to as many different churches: two in New Jersey, one in New Haven, and, lastly, in Springfield, Massachusetts. For reasons that seem good and sufficient to him, he has accepted the last-named invitation, and he will enter upon the duties connected therewith, this month.
"The 'Old First' is the most ancient church in Springfield, if not the oldest in the Connecticut Valley. It has had an honorable history, in more than two hundred years of existence. If you have read Doctor Holland's Bay Path, you will recollect Mr. Moxon, the then pastor of this church. Perhaps because I have read the book, and maybe because my old Massachusetts grandmother (a Puritan of the Puritans, and preciously uncomfortable to live with, she was!) talked to me of the straitlaced notions, works, and ways of the
'orthodox' New-Englander, which she thought 'blazed' the only road to heaven - I have an idea that we will find the atmosphere of Springfield very different from any other in which we have lived. If I am right, it will be a change even from Presbyterian Richmond. However this may be, I counsel you to enjoy the remaining weeks of your stay there to the utmost."
If I were called upon to describe what was the real "atmosphere" of the loveliest of New England towns, in which we lived for five busy years, I should say that it was "stratified," and that in a fashion that puzzled us grievously up to the latest day of our sojourn. Public spirit of the best and most enlightened sort; refinement and taste in art and literature; social manners and usages that were metropolitan, and neighborliness which made the stranger and sojourner welcome and at ease - all this was "shot," if I may so express it, with strata of bigotry; with stubborn convictions that the holders thereof were right, and the insignificant residue of the world utterly wrong, and with primitive modes of daily life and speech, that never ceased to surprise and baffle us. Yet we flattered ourselves that we knew something of the world and the inhabitants thereof!
In the process of acclimation we had occasion, if we had never had it before, to be thankful for the unfailing and robust sense of humor that had stood our friend in many straits which would else have been annoyances. Before long, we recognized that certain contradictory phases of conduct and language, hard to comprehend and hard to endure, had their keynote in what one of the best of my new friends once aptly defined to me as "an agony of incommunicableness," inherent in the New-Englander's composition. He may have drawn the strain through nearly three centuries from his early English ancestry. I have seen the same paradox in the Briton of this generation.
Of one such man I said, later in life, when I was alone with my sick son, thousands of miles from home: "The ice was slow in breaking up; but it gave way all at once, and there was warm water under it."
"Agony of incommunicableness!" Over and over, during those five years, I blessed the man who put that key into my hand.
I cannot better illustrate what I am trying to explain than by relating what is, to me, one of the most precious and altogether satisfactory memories connected with our Springfield experiences.
Four months after our removal to the beautiful city, I received a formal request (everything up to that time had a smack of formality to my apprehension) that I would take charge of a young men's Bible-class, the teacher of which had left the town. The application was startling, for not one of the young fellows had ever called on me, or evinced other consciousness of the insignificant fact of my existence than was implied in a grave salutation at the church-door and on the street. After consultation with my husband I accepted the position, and on the next Sabbath was duly inducted into office by the superintendent. That is, he took me to the door of the class-room and announced: "Mrs. Terhune, young gentlemen, who will conduct your class in the place of Mr. L., resigned."
I walked up the room to face eight bearded men, the youngest twenty-two years of age, drawn up in line of battle at the far end. I bowed and said "Good-afternoon," in taking the seat and table set for me in front of the line. They bowed in silence. I began the attack by disclaiming the idea of "teaching" them, concealing as best I could my consternation at finding men where I had looked for lads. I asked "the privilege of studying with them," and thanked them for the compliment of the invitation to do this. Then I opened the Bible and delivered
a familiar running lecture upon the lesson for the day. Not a question was asked by one of the dumb eight, and not a comment was made at the close of the "exercises" upon what had been said. I went through the miserable form of shaking hands with them all as we separated, and carried home a thoroughly discouraged spirit. By the following Sunday I hit upon the idea of calling upon each student to read a reference text, as it occurred in the course of the lecture, and I took care there should be plenty of them. That was the first crack in the ice. Encouraged by the sound of their own voices, the young fellows put a query or two, and I used these as nails upon which to hang observations not indicated in the "lesson-papers." Next week there were sixteen in line. Before the first year was out there were forty, and they gave a dramatic entertainment in a neighboring hall, which netted a sum large enough to enlarge the class-room to double the original size. They decorated it with their own hands, and I was with them every evening thus employed.
Still, there was never a syllable to indicate that this was anything but a business venture. I love boys with my whole heart, and I had said this and more in their hearing, eliciting no response.
At the end of the second year, when there were fifty members in the class, one of the eldest of the number removed from Springfield to a distant city. One of the greatest surprises of my life was in the form of a letter I had the week after he had bidden me good-bye as coolly as if he had expected to see me next Sunday as usual.
He began by telling me how often he had wished he could express what those Sunday afternoons had been in his life. He "feared that I might have thought him unresponsive and ungrateful."
"If indeed you ever troubled yourself to bestow more than a passing thought upon this one of the many to whom
you have ministered," he went on, "I don't believe you ever noticed that I let nobody else take the seat next to you on the left? I used to go very early to make sure of it. I shall unite with the church here next Sunday. You have a right to know of a purpose, formed weeks ago, in that class-room - the most sacred spot to me on earth."
He wrote to me of his marriage two years later, then of the coming of his first-born son. About once a year I heard from him, and that he was prospering in business and happy in his home. Ten years ago I had a paper containing a marked obituary-notice bearing his name.
The same story, with variations that do not affect the general purport of the class-history, might be repeated here. I hear of "my boys" from all parts of the world. All are gray-haired now who have not preceded their grateful leader to the Changeless Home.
There were sixty-six of them when I told them, one Sunday afternoon, five years after our first meeting, that Doctor Terhune had accepted a pressing call to a Brooklyn church, and that I must leave them. The news was absolutely unexpected, and a dead silence ensued. Then one fellow, who had been received into the church with ten others of our class, at the preceding communion season, arose in his place:
"Is there anything we could do to keep him - and you?" he asked, huskily. "Has anybody done anything to make your residence here unpleasant? If so" - stammering now, and a defiant scowl gathering upon his handsome face - "Say! can't we fellows just clean them out, and keep you and the Doctor?"
It was impossible not to laugh. It was as impossible to hold back the tears at the odd demonstration of the "boys' " claim to membership in the Church Militant. He may have forgotten the upgushing of the warm water under the ice. I shall never lose the memory.
Nor yet of the farewell reception to which the boys rallied in force, excluding all other guests from the pleasant class-room we had built, and in which I spent some of the happiest hours vouchsafed to me in the city I had called "a cold-storage vault," before I got under the ice of English reserve and Puritanical self-consciousness engendered, as I am fain to believe, by the rigid self examination enjoined by the founders of State and Church. In those rude and strenuous days, self-examination took the place, with tortured, naked souls, of the penances prescribed in the communion they had left to find
"Freedom to worship God,"
church without a bishop,
A state without a king."
The class-room was wreathed with flowers; there was music by the boys, and social chat; a collation of their own devising: then the eldest of the band, a married man for years, goodly of form and feature, and with a nature as lovely as his face, arose to make a farewell "presentation address." He never finished it, although it began bravely enough. The handsome set of brasses he passed over to me were labelled, as he showed me, "FROM YOUR BOYS."
"You will have another class in your new home," the speaker broke into the carefully prepared peroration to say, "but please let us always call ourselves, 'Your Boys!' "
They are that still, and they will be evermore! A finer, more loyal body of young men it would be hard to find in New England, or elsewhere. It has happened so often that I have come to look for it, that, on steamer or train, on the street or in hotel, I am accosted by a middle-aged man - invariably highly respectable in appearance - with -
"I beg your pardon. Let me recall myself to your memory, I belonged to your Bible-class in Springfield."
If, as usually happens, he adds to his name, "One of your boys" - the ashes are blown away from the embers of long- past acquaintanceship. The talk that ensues invariably emphasizes the pleasing fact that, if there were a black sheep in our fold, he has, up to date, escaped detection.
God bless each and every one of them!
I cannot close the chapter that has to do with our Springfield days, without paying a brief tribute to two who played important parts in the drama of our family life. Both have passed from mortal vision, and I may, therefore, name them freely.
The house built for us by a parishioner in the pleasantest part of the city, was in the immediate neighborhood of the homestead of the late Samuel Bowles, the well-known proprietor of the Springfield Republican. The house was now occupied by his widow and family. To the warm friendship that grew up between Mrs. Bowles and myself I owe more than I can trust my pen to express here. From our earliest meeting, the "middle wall of partition" of strangerhood ceased to be to either of us. Hers, as I often reminded her, was the one and only house in the place into which I could drop, between the lights, unannounced, when the humor seized me, and without putting on hat or coat. The ascent of the half-block of space dividing our doors is ever associated in my mind with the gloaming and moonlight, and slipping away from duties to relax thought and tongue, for one calming and sweetening half-hour, in the society of one "who knew." It was not alone that, as one who had been born, and had lived out her girlhood in the Middle States, her range of ideas and sympathies was not limited by the circle of hills binding Springfield into a close corporation. Her great, warm heart took in the homesick stranger that I was, for many a month after transplantation, and gave me a corner of my very own. She was a safe, as well as an appreciative listener, and
gave me many a hint respecting my new environment that wrought out good to me. Her fine sense of humor was another bond that drew us together. The snug sitting-room, looking upon the quiet street, up which the shadows gathered slowly on summer evenings, and where the sleigh. bells jingled shrilly in the early winter twilight, echoed to bursts of laughter better befitting a pair of school-girls than two matrons who were both on the shady side of fifty. I was in the earthly Jerusalem, with my son, when the gates of the Celestial City opened to receive her faithful, loving spirit. I am sure that, as Bunyan affirmed when another travel-worn pilgrim entered into rest, "All the bells of the city rang for joy."
In April, 1884, our eldest daughter became the wife of James Frederick Herrick, one of the Republican's editorial staff. We left her in Springfield when, in the same year, we returned to the Middle States to take up our abode for the next twelve years in Brooklyn. We could not have left her in safer, tenderer keeping. A brother-editor said of him once that he "had a heart of fire in a case of ice." The simile did not do justice to the gentle courtesy and dignity that lent a touch of old-school courtliness to manner and address. In all the intimate association of the next ten years, I never saw in him an act, or heard a word that approximated unkindness or incivility. I wrote him down then, as I do now, as in all respects, the thorough gentleman in what makes the much-abused word a badge of honor. His ideals were high and pure; his life, private and professional, above reproach.
"The stuff martyrs and heroes are made of," said one who knew him well and long.
He would have died for the truth; he would have laid down his life with a smile for his wife and children. Such harmonious blending of strength and sweetness as were found in the life of this man - modest to a fault,