Page images



visit rebels, slanderous people might get hold of the story and make believe that”-he faltered as he spoke—“that you were a rebel yourself.”

“Now, I should just like to hear any one call me a rebel !” I exclaimed, with an attempt to look very fierce, and gazing at the Mason, with the determination to discover whether there was any such intention on his part. I forgot my disaffection on Hood's battle-ground.

“What would you do,” he inquired, “in case any one were to say such a thing ?

“ Well, you'll see, if any one dares to say it-you'll see!" I kept telling him he would see, in a menacing tone, and, as that is rather a striking form of speech, I think I awed the Mason. He looked at me in an uneasy manner, as if he feared I would commit some terrible act of violence.

“What would you do ?” he repeated, again and again.

When I had aroused his curiosity to the highest pitch, I satisfied him by letting him know my determination.

“I would tell them plainly, I was nothing of the sort.”

He breathed more freely, and I have often wondered since if he really thought I would do anything in the Lola Montez style. He mistook me mightily if he did. They might call me a Khamscatkan before I would do anything of that kind. Pray understand that I use the word Khamscatkan here in quite a figurative sense. There is nothing dishonorable in being called a Khamscatkan, that I know of.

Especially if it happens that you are a Khamscatkan.

I have yet to learn that a diet of seal's blubber quenches virtue in the breast of the greasy but honest Khamscatkan.

But pardon, and allow me to resume.

It appeared on inquiry that the rebel prisoners had all been removed except those who were too ill to be sent


[blocks in formation]

away; therefore our visit to the rebels was in reality a visit to the Federal hospital. I can't say I was much pleased with the conduct of the rebels on that day. They were sullen and morose, many of them fierce, all rather sarcastic when referring to the Yankee nation, and what they evidently considered but a temporary advantage of our arms. I found more congenial society in the Federal officers who were lying sick in the different wards. A funny episode occurred while we were standing talking to a lieutenant who had lost his arm at the battle of Nashville.

A rebel prisoner had died the day before in the hospital, and permission had been granted some Secessionists (ladies) to take a last view of the body. Two of these, pretty creatures they were, too, dressed in black, and weeping, entered, evidently by mistake, the room in which we were standing. They rushed up to a bed opposite to that occupied by the lieutenant, in which was lying another Federal officer, slightly wounded, who had thrown a handkerchief over his face, and was, as I thought, asleep.

“Let me kiss him for his mother," tearfully exclaimed one of the rebel girls, under the impression that the officer was not only a rebel, but a dead body. So saying, she stooped down and kissed him through the handkerchief, somewhere on his cheek.

Fancy her amazement at seeing the dead body suddenly jump up and sit bolt upright in bed; imagine her dismay on hearing the dead body utter, with an undeniable Yankee twang, these fearful words:

“Never mind the old woman, girls; go it on your own hook !!

I thought the girl would have fainted. Don Giovanni when he sees the ghost of the Commandante (or whoever that old marble fellow on horseback may be) when he



[ocr errors]

hears him speak, and even sing, could not have been more terribly frightened. Her terror soon gave way to indigpation, however, and this found vent in a torrent of invective, which sounded very ill coming from such pretty red lips. Say what she might, the sick man would only reply with amusing impudence

Well, then, I'll give your kiss back; come, now, I'm willing, take it back:” actually grasping her arm, and puckering up his saucy mouth in a manner which should have earned for him a good sound box on his pallid cheeks.

The girls left the room in high dudgeon, one remarking to the other that this man was evidently a disciple of “Beast Butler;" that, in fact, all Yankees were such disciples—all Yankees were to be detested and despised now and forevermore.

But I observed when the Yankees happened to be goodlooking, dashing fellows, as many were, the rebel girls were far more lenient in their judgment, and I fancy those young

ladies who were forbidden to enter the doors of the Rev. Mr. L-d's church, in the little town of C—kville, Tennessee, because they invited Federal officers to their houses, found ample recompense for such proscription in the society of the ostracised heroes of the shoulder-strap. It was in this town I met my old friend, the celebrated Southern beauty, Molly C. She was a rampagious rebel ; told me she hated me cordially while we were shaking hands; said she despised my principles while we were drinking tea, and called me an abominable Abolitionist while she was requesting my photograph.

When we returned to the town, only a few weeks after, you may imagine my surprise on hearing that she was engaged to be married to a Federal officer! She talked to me about him-he was a Duck, a Darling and a Dear; lollypops, sugarplums and bonbons were tasteless sweets

[blocks in formation]

beside him; he was an Adonis, an Apollo, a Beau Brummell and a Count D'Orsay.

“But he is a Yankee?" I said.

“Oh, on that point,” she answered, blushing, “we have agreed to disagree!"

I saw them that night when they were parting; he going forward with his men, she remaining in the stupid town. If kisses, and prayers, and clasping of hands, and assurances of constancy, and tears, and smiles, and sighs, and sobs, were evidences of the agreeing disagreement, they were all present. I ran away, for I thought of the old French song.

" Veux-tu savoir comment les soldats aiment ?
Ils aiment si passionement,
Ils sont de si passionees gens,
Et on les entend toujours disant,
Ah, Louise, que je t'aimel

Mais enfin (voyons !) je pars demain!" The wretched metre and the worse rhyme do not take from this little chanson its perfect coloring of the reckless soldier nature.

The next morning I bade farewell to Nashville and the Mason.

[ocr errors]




The " Felon's Daughter."—Actresses' Cartes de Visite.—The Flower

Basket Nuisance.—Theatrical Critics in the West.–Dumb Waiters. Ohio Legislators. Western Hotels. - Andersonville ! - A High Private. — From the Shoe Shop to the Camp. - The Guide Book Nuisance. — Chicago.— Miltonian Tableaux. — Number 99.—On the Cars.- Flirts and Babies en Route.—The Newly Married Couple.The Gum-Drop Merchants. The New York Hurled.-A Walk in a Graveyard.--A Terrible Gymnast.—Indiana Loafers.—Nomenclature.

[ocr errors]

“Shall we stay here over night, or shall we go straight on to Cincinnati ?" I asked of Mère when we arrived at the Galt House in Louisville.

“Better go on, I think, and spend all the leisure time you have in Cincinnati.”

We did so, and that very night the Galt House was burned to the ground, with an immense destruction of property, and loss of life to six people. Mère thanked Providence for our preservation, but I could not do this. Is it not a bitter mockery to those who have met their fate, to offer thanks that you have escaped it? No, it was a settled decree of an inscrutable Providence that we should avoid this horrible calamity, reserved, perhaps, to meet some still more dreadful one. Who knows? There is a divinity which shapes our ends, rough hew them as we may.

In Cincinnati we spent a delightful week, at the house of Monsieur Monfrère. Monfrère is as pleasing a specimen of the fine young American gentleman as can well be found. Of his oratorical talents, and, ipdeed, all those requisites to make a mark in the legal profession, I do not hesitate to say he stands far ahead of his compeers. His handsome face, his rich voice, his admirable gesticulation

« PreviousContinue »