by Thomas Dixon
CHAPTER I. THE
CHAPTER II. THE
CHAPTER III. THE
MAN OF WAR
CHAPTER IV. A
CLASH OF GIANTS
CHAPTER IV. THE
BATTLE OF LOVE
CHAPTER VI. THE
CHAPTER VII. THE
FRENZY OF A
CHAPTER I. THE
FIRST LADY OF
CHAPTER III. THE
JOY OF LIVING
ACROSS THE CHASM
CHAPTER VI. THE
GAUGE OF BATTLE
CHAPTER VII. A
CHAPTER VIII. A
CHAPTER IX. THE
TOSSED BY THE
CHAPTER XI. THE
Reign of Terror
CHAPTER I. A
CHAPTER II. THE
EYES OF THE
CHAPTER IV. AT
THE POINT OF THE
CHAPTER V. FORTY
ACRES AND A MULE
CHAPTER VI. A
WHISPER IN THE
CHAPTER VII. BY
THE LIGHT OF A
THE RIOT IN THE
CHAPTER IX. AT
CHAPTER X. A
CHAPTER XI. THE
BEAT OF A
CHAPTER XII. AT
THE DAWN OF DAY
Book IV—The Ku
CHAPTER I. THE
HUNT FOR THE
CHAPTER II. THE
CHAPTER III. THE
PARTING OF THE
CHAPTER IV. THE
BANNER OF THE
CHAPTER V. THE
REIGN OF THE
CHAPTER VI. THE
CHAPTER VII. THE
SNARE OF THE
CHAPTER VIII. A
RIDE FOR A LIFE
The Illustrations Shown in This Edition Are Reproductions of Scenes
from the Photo-Play of The Birth of a Nation Produced and Copyrighted
by The Epoch Producing Corporation, to Whom the Publishers Desire to
Express Their Thanks and Appreciation for Permission to Use the
[Illustration: THE REIGN OF THE KLAN]
An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan
By THOMAS DIXON
Author Of The Leopard's Spots, Comrades, Etc.
Illustrated With Scenes From The Photo-Play THE BIRTH OF A NATION
Produced And Copyrighted By Epoch Producing Corporation
GROSSET &DUNLAP Publishers :: New York
Copyright, 1905 BY THOMAS DIXON, JR.
The Country Life Press, Garden City, N. Y.
TO THE MEMORY OF A SCOTCH-IRISH LEADER OF THE SOUTH
MY UNCLE, COLONEL LEROY MCAFEE
GRAND TITAN OF THE INVISIBLE EMPIRE KU KLUX KLAN
TO THE READER
The Clansman is the second book of a series of historical novels
planned on the Race Conflict. The Leopard's Spots was the statement
in historical outline of the conditions from the enfranchisement of the
negro to his disfranchisement.
The Clansman develops the true story of the Ku Klux Klan
Conspiracy, which overturned the Reconstruction régime.
The organization was governed by the Grand Wizard
Commander-in-Chief, who lived at Memphis, Tennessee. The Grand Dragon
commanded a State, the Grand Titan a Congressional District, the Grand
Giant a County, and the Grand Cyclops a Township Den. The twelve
volumes of Government reports on the famous Klan refer chiefly to
events which occurred after 1870, the date of its dissolution.
The chaos of blind passion that followed Lincoln's assassination is
inconceivable to-day. The revolution it produced in our Government, and
the bold attempt of Thaddeus Stevens to Africanize ten great States of
the American Union, read now like tales from The Arabian Nights.
I have sought to preserve in this romance both the letter and the
spirit of this remarkable period. The men who enact the drama of fierce
revenge into which I have woven a double love story are historical
figures. I have merely changed their names without taking a liberty
with any essential historic fact.
In the darkest hour of the life of the South, when her wounded
people lay helpless amid rags and ashes under the beak and talon of the
Vulture, suddenly from the mists of the mountains appeared a white
cloud the size of a man's hand. It grew until its mantle of mystery
enfolded the stricken earth and sky. An Invisible Empire had risen
from the field of Death and challenged the Visible to mortal combat.
How the young South, led by the reincarnated souls of the Clansmen
of Old Scotland, went forth under this cover and against overwhelming
odds, daring exile, imprisonment, and a felon's death, and saved the
life of a people, forms one of the most dramatic chapters in the
history of the Aryan race.
Thomas Dixon, Jr.
December 14, 1904.
Book IThe Assassination.
CHAPTER I. THE BRUISED REED
The fair girl who was playing a banjo and singing to the wounded
soldiers suddenly stopped, and, turning to the surgeon, whispered:
It sounds like a mob
With a common impulse they moved to the open window of the hospital
On the soft spring air came the roar of excited thousands sweeping
down the avenue from the Capitol toward the White House. Above all rang
the cries of struggling newsboys screaming an Extra. One of them
darted around the corner, his shrill voice quivering with excitement:
Extra! Extra! Peace! Victory!
Windows were suddenly raised, women thrust their heads out, and
others rushed into the street and crowded around the boy, struggling to
get his papers. He threw them right and left and snatched the moneyno
one asked for change. Without ceasing rose his cry:
Extra! Peace! Victory! Lee has surrendered!
At last the end had come.
The great North, with its millions of sturdy people and their
exhaustless resources, had greeted the first shot on Sumter with
contempt and incredulity. A few regiments went forward for a month's
outing to settle the trouble. The Thirteenth Brooklyn marched gayly
Southward on a thirty days' jaunt, with pieces of rope conspicuously
tied to their muskets with which to bring back each man a Southern
prisoner to be led in a noose through the streets on their early
triumphant return! It would be unkind to tell what became of those
ropes when they suddenly started back home ahead of the scheduled time
from the first battle of Bull Run.
People from the South, equally wise, marched gayly North, to whip
five Yankees each before breakfast, and encountered unforeseen
Both sides had things to learn, and learned them in a school whose
logic is finala four years' course in the University of Hellthe
scream of eagles, the howl of wolves, the bay of tigers, the roar of
lionsall locked in Death's embrace, and each mad scene lit by the
glare of volcanoes of savage passions!
But the long agony was over.
The city bells began to ring. The guns of the forts joined the
chorus, and their deep steel throats roared until the earth trembled.
Just across the street a mother who was reading the fateful news
turned and suddenly clasped a boy to her heart, crying for joy. The
last draft of half a million had called for him.
The Capital of the Nation was shaking off the long nightmare of
horror and suspense. More than once the city had shivered at the mercy
of those daring men in gray, and the reveille of their drums had
startled even the President at his desk.
Again and again had the destiny of the Republic hung on the turning
of a hair, and in every crisis, Luck, Fate, God, had tipped the scale
for the Union.
A procession of more than five hundred Confederate deserters, who
had crossed the lines in groups, swung into view, marching past the
hospital, indifferent to the tumult. Only a nominal guard flanked them
as they shuffled along, tired, ragged, and dirty. The gray in their
uniforms was now the colour of clay. Some had on blue pantaloons, some,
blue vests, others blue coats captured on the field of blood. Some had
pieces of carpet, and others old bags around their shoulders. They had
been passing thus for weeks. Nobody paid any attention to them.
One of the secrets of the surrender! exclaimed Doctor Barnes. Mr.
Lincoln has been at the front for the past weeks with offers of peace
and mercy, if they would lay down their arms. The great soul of the
President, even the genius of Lee could not resist. His smile began to
melt those gray ranks as the sun is warming the earth to-day.
You are a great admirer of the President, said the girl, with a
Yes, Miss Elsie, and so are all who know him.
She turned from the window without reply. A shadow crossed her face
as she looked past the long rows of cots, on which rested the men in
blue, until her eyes found one on which lay, alone among his enemies, a
young Confederate officer.
The surgeon turned with her toward the man.
Will he live? she asked.
Yes, only to be hung.
For what? she cried.
Sentenced by court-martial as a guerilla. It's a lie, but there's
some powerful hand back of itsome mysterious influence in high
authority. The boy wasn't fully conscious at the trial.
We must appeal to Mr. Stanton.
As well appeal to the devil. They say the order came from his
A boy of nineteen! she exclaimed. It's a shame. I'm looking for
his mother. You told me to telegraph to Richmond for her.
Yes, I'll never forget his cries that night, so utterly pitiful and
childlike. I've heard many a cry of pain, but in all my life nothing so
heartbreaking as that boy in fevered delirium talking to his mother.
His voice is one of peculiar tenderness, penetrating and musical. It
goes quivering into your soul, and compels you to listen until you
swear it's your brother or sweetheart or sister or mother calling you.
You should have seen him the day he fell. God of mercies, the pity and
the glory of it!
[Illustration: YOUR BROTHER SPRANG FORWARD AND CAUGHT HIM IN HIS
Phil wrote me that he was a hero and asked me to look after him.
Were you there?
Yes, with the battery your brother was supporting. He was the
colonel of a shattered rebel regiment lying just in front of us before
Petersburg. Richmond was doomed, resistance was madness, but there they
were, ragged and half starved, a handful of men, not more than four
hundred, but their bayonets gleamed and flashed in the sunlight. In the
face of a murderous fire he charged and actually drove our men out of
an entrenchment. We concentrated our guns on him as he crouched behind
this earthwork. Our own men lay outside in scores, dead, dying, and
wounded. When the fire slacked, we could hear their cries for water.
Suddenly this boy sprang on the breastwork. He was dressed in a new
gray colonel's uniform that mother of his, in the pride of her soul,
had sent him.
He was a handsome figuretall, slender, straight, a gorgeous
yellow sash tasselled with gold around his waist, his sword flashing in
the sun, his slouch hat cocked on one side and an eagle's feather in
We thought he was going to lead another charge, but just as the
battery was making ready to fire he deliberately walked down the
embankment in a hail of musketry and began to give water to our wounded
Every gun ceased firing, and we watched him. He walked back to the
trench, his naked sword flashed suddenly above that eagle's feather,
and his grizzled ragamuffins sprang forward and charged us like so many
There were not more than three hundred of them now, but on they
came, giving that hellish rebel yell at every jumpthe cry of the
hunter from the hilltop at the sight of his game! All Southern men are
hunters, and that cry was transformed in war into something unearthly
when it came from a hundred throats in chorus and the game was human.
Of course, it was madness. We blew them down that hill like chaff
before a hurricane. When the last man had staggered back or fallen, on
came this boy alone, carrying the colours he had snatched from a
falling soldier, as if he were leading a million men to victory.
A bullet had blown his hat from his head, and we could see the
blood streaming down the side of his face. He charged straight into the
jaws of one of our guns. And then, with a smile on his lips and a dare
to death in his big brown eyes, he rammed that flag into the cannon's
mouth, reeled, and fell! A cheer broke from our men.
Your brother sprang forward and caught him in his arms, and as we
bent over the unconscious form, he exclaimed: 'My God, doctor, look at
him! He is so much like me I feel as if I had been shot myself!' They
were as much alike as twinsonly his hair was darker. I tell you, Miss
Elsie, it's a sin to kill men like that. One such man is worth more to
this nation than every negro that ever set his flat foot on this
The girl's eyes had grown dim as she listened to the story.
I will appeal to the President, she said firmly.
It's the only chance. And just now he is under tremendous pressure.
His friendly order to the Virginia Legislature to return to Richmond,
Stanton forced him to cancel. A master hand has organized a conspiracy
in Congress to crush the President. They curse his policy of mercy as
imbecility, and swear to make the South a second Poland. Their
watchwords are vengeance and confiscation. Four fifths of his party in
Congress are in this plot. The President has less than a dozen real
friends in either House on whom he can depend. They say that Stanton is
to be given a free hand, and that the gallows will be busy. This
cancelled order of the President looks like it.
I'll try my hand with Mr. Stanton, she said with slow emphasis.
Good luck, Little Sisterlet me know if I can help, the surgeon
answered cheerily as he passed on his round of work.
Elsie Stoneman took her seat beside the cot of the wounded
Confederate and began softly to sing and play.
A little farther along the same row a soldier was dying, a faint
choking just audible in his throat. An attendant sat beside him and
would not leave till the last. The ordinary chat and hum of the ward
went on indifferent to peace, victory, life, or death. Before the
finality of the hospital all other events of earth fade. Some were
playing cards or checkers, some laughing and joking, and others
At the first soft note from the singer the games ceased, and the
reader put down his book.
The banjo had come to Washington with the negroes following the wake
of the army. She had laid aside her guitar and learned to play all the
stirring camp songs of the South. Her voice was low, soothing, and
tender. It held every silent listener in a spell.
As she played and sang the songs the wounded man loved, her eyes
lingered in pity on his sun-bronzed face, pinched and drawn with fever.
He was sleeping the stupid sleep that gives no rest. She could count
the irregular pounding of his heart in the throb of the big vein on his
neck. His lips were dry and burnt, and the little boyish moustache
curled upward from the row of white teeth as if scorched by the fiery
He began to talk in flighty sentences, and she listenedhis
motherhis sisterand yes, she was sure as she bent nearera little
sweetheart who lived next door. They all had sweetheartsthese
Southern boys. Again he was teasing his dogand then back in battle.
At length he opened his eyes, great dark-brown eyes, unnaturally
bright, with a strange yearning look in their depths as they rested on
Elsie. He tried to smile and feebly said:
She sprang forward and brushed the fly away.
Again he opened his eyes.
Excusemeforaskingbut am I alive?
Yes, indeed, was the cheerful answer.
Well, now, then, is this me, or is it not me, or has a cannon shot
me, or has the devil got me?
It's you. The cannon didn't shoot you, but three muskets did. The
devil hasn't got you yet, but he will unless you're good.
I'll be good if you won't leave me
Elsie turned her head away smiling, and he went on slowly:
But I'm dead, I know. I'm sleeping on a cot with a canopy over it.
I ain't hungry any more, and an angel has been hovering over me playing
on a harp of gold
Only a little Yankee girl playing the banjo.
Can't fool meI'm in heaven.
You're in the hospital.
Funny hospitallook at that harp and that big trumpet hanging
close by itthat's Gabriel's trumpet
No, she laughed. This is the Patent Office building, that covers
two blocks, now a temporary hospital. There are seventy thousand
wounded soldiers in town, and more coming on every train. The
thirty-five hospitals are overcrowded.
He closed his eyes a moment in silence, and then spoke with a feeble
I'm afraid you don't know who I amI can't impose on youI'm a
Yes, I know. You are Colonel Ben Cameron. It makes no difference to
me now which side you fought on.
Well, I'm in heavenbeen dead a long time. I can prove it, if
you'll play again.
What shall I play?
First, 'O Jonny Booker Help dis Nigger.'
She played and sang it beautifully.
Now, 'Wake Up in the Morning.'
Again he listened with wide, staring eyes that saw nothing except
Now, then, 'The Ole Gray Hoss.'
As the last notes died away he tried to smile again:
One more'Hard Times an' Wuss er Comin'.'
With deft, sure touch and soft negro dialect she sang it through.
Now, didn't I tell you that you couldn't fool me? No Yankee girl
could play and sing these songs, I'm in heaven, and you're an angel.
Aren't you ashamed of yourself to flirt with me, with one foot in
That's the time to get on good terms with the angelsbut I'm done
Elsie laughed in spite of herself.
I know it, he went on, because you have shining golden hair and
amber eyes instead of blue ones. I never saw a girl in my life before
with such eyes and hair.
But you're young yet.
She lifted her finger in warning, and his eyelids drooped In
You musn't talk any more, she whispered, shaking her head.
A commotion at the door caused Elsie to turn from the cot. A sweet
motherly woman of fifty, in an old faded black dress, was pleading with
the guard to be allowed to pass.
Can't do it, m'um. It's agin the rules.
But I must go in. I've tramped for four days through a wilderness
of hospitals, and I know he must be here.
Special orders, m'umwounded rebels in here that belong in
Very well, young man, said the pleading voice. My baby boy's in
this place, wounded and about to die. I'm going in there. You can shoot
me if you like, or you can turn your head the other way.
She stepped quickly past the soldier, who merely stared with dim
eyes out the door and saw nothing.
She stood for a moment with a look of helpless bewilderment. The
vast area of the second story of the great monolithic pile was crowded
with rows of sick, wounded, and dying mena strange, solemn, and
curious sight. Against the walls were ponderous glass cases, filled
with models of every kind of invention the genius of man had dreamed.
Between these cases were deep lateral openings, eight feet wide,
crowded with the sick, and long rows of them were stretched through the
centre of the hall. A gallery ran around above the cases, and this was
filled with cots. The clatter of the feet of passing surgeons and
nurses over the marble floor added to the weird impression.
Elsie saw the look of helpless appeal in the mother's face and
hurried forward to meet her:
Is this Mrs. Cameron, of South Carolina?
The trembling figure in black grasped her hand eagerly:
Yes, yes, my dear, and I'm looking for my boy, who is wounded unto
death. Can you help me?
I thought I recognized you from a miniature I've seen, she
answered softly. I'll lead you direct to his cot.
Thank you, thank you! came the low reply.
In a moment she was beside him, and Elsie walked away to the open
window through which came the chirp of sparrows from the lilac bushes
in full bloom below.
The mother threw one look of infinite tenderness on the drawn face,
and her hands suddenly clasped in prayer:
I thank Thee, Lord Jesus, for this hour! Thou hast heard the cry of
my soul and led my feet! She gently knelt, kissed the hot lips,
smoothed the dark tangled hair back from his forehead, and her hand
rested over his eyes.
A faint flush tinged his face.
She slipped her arms about him.
My hero, my darling, my baby!
I'll get well now, Mamma, never fear. You see, I had whipped them
that day as I had many a time before. I don't know how it happenedmy
men seemed all to go down at once. You knowI couldn't surrender in
that new uniform of a colonel you sent mewe made a gallant fight,
andnowI'mjustalittletiredbut you are here, and it's all
Yes, yes, dear. It's all over now. General Lee has surrendered, and
when you are better I'll take you home, where the sunshine and flowers
will give you strength again.
How's my little sis?
Hunting in another part of the city for you. She's grown so tall
and stately you'll hardly know her. Your papa is at home, and don't
know yet that you are wounded.
And my sweetheart, Marion Lenoir?
The most beautiful little girl in Piedmontas sweet and
mischievous as ever. Mr. Lenoir is very ill, but he has written a
glorious poem about one of your charges. I'll show it to you to-morrow.
He is our greatest poet. The South worships him. Marion sent her love
to you and a kiss for the young hero of Piedmont. I'll give it to you
She bent again and kissed him.
And my dogs?
General Sherman left them, at least.
Well, I'm glad of thatmy mare all right?
Yes, but we had a time to save herJake hid her in the woods till
the army passed.
Bully for Jake.
I don't know what we should have done without him.
Old Aleck still at home and getting drunk as usual?
No, he ran away with the army and persuaded every negro on the
Lenoir place to go, except his wife, Aunt Cindy.
The old rascal, when Mrs. Lenoir's mother saved him from burning to
death when he was a boy!
Yes, and he told the Yankees those fire scars were made with the
lash, and led a squad to the house one night to burn the barns. Jake
headed them off and told on him. The soldiers were so mad they strung
him up and thrashed him nearly to death. We haven't seen him since.
Well, I'll take care of you, Mamma, when I get home. Of course I'll
get well. It's absurd to die at nineteen. You know I never believed the
bullet had been moulded that could hit me. In three years of battle I
lived a charmed life and never got a scratch.
His voice had grown feeble and laboured, and his face flushed. His
mother placed her hand on his lips.
Just one more, he pleaded feebly. Did you see the little angel
who has been playing and singing for me? You must thank her.
Yes, I see her coming now. I must go and tell Margaret, and we will
get a pass and come every day.
She kissed him, and went to meet Elsie.
And you are the dear girl who has been playing and singing for my
boy, a wounded stranger here alone among his foes?
Yes, and for all the others, too.
Mrs. Cameron seized both of her hands and looked at her tenderly.
You will let me kiss you? I shall always love you.
She pressed Elsie to her heart. In spite of the girl's reserve, a
sob caught her breath at the touch of the warm lips. Her own mother had
died when she was a baby, and a shy, hungry heart, long hidden from the
world, leaped in tenderness and pain to meet that embrace.
Elsie walked with her to the door, wondering how the terrible truth
of her boy's doom could be told.
She tried to speak, looked into Mrs. Cameron's face, radiant with
grateful joy, and the words froze on her lips. She decided to walk a
little way with her. But the task became all the harder.
At the corner she stopped abruptly and bade her good-bye:
I must leave you now, Mrs. Cameron. I will call for you in the
morning and help you secure the passes to enter the hospital.
The mother stroked the girl's hand and held it lingeringly.
How good you are, she said softly. And you have not told me your
Elsie hesitated and said:
That's a little secret. They call me Sister Elsie, the Banjo Maid,
in the hospitals. My father is a man of distinction. I should be
annoyed if my full name were known. I'm Elsie Stoneman. My father is
the leader of the House. I live with my aunt.
Thank you, she whispered, pressing her hand.
Elsie watched the dark figure disappear in the crowd with a strange
tumult of feeling.
The mention of her father had revived the suspicion that he was the
mysterious power threatening the policy of the President and planning a
reign of terror for the South. Next to the President, he was the most
powerful man in Washington, and the unrelenting foe of Mr. Lincoln,
although the leader of his party in Congress, which he ruled with a rod
of iron. He was a man of fierce and terrible resentments. And yet, in
his personal life, to those he knew, he was generous and considerate.
Old Austin Stoneman, the Great Commoner, he was called, and his name
was one to conjure with in the world of deeds. To this fair girl he was
the noblest Roman of them all, her ideal of greatness. He was an
indulgent father, and while not demonstrative, loved his children with
She paused and looked up at the huge marble columns that seemed each
a sentinel beckoning her to return within to the cot that held a
wounded foe. The twilight had deepened, and the soft light of the
rising moon had clothed the solemn majesty of the building with
shimmering tenderness and beauty.
Why should I be distressed for one, an enemy, among these thousands
who have fallen? she asked herself. Every detail of the scene she had
passed through with him and his mother stood out in her soul with
startling distinctnessand the horror of his doom cut with the deep
sense of personal anguish.
He shall not die, she said, with sudden resolution. I'll take his
mother to the President. He can't resist her. I'll send for Phil to
She hurried to the telegraph office and summoned her brother.
CHAPTER II. THE GREAT HEART
The next morning, when Elsie reached the obscure boarding-house at
which Mrs. Cameron stopped, the mother had gone to the market to buy a
bunch of roses to place beside her boy's cot.
As Elsie awaited her return, the practical little Yankee maid
thought with a pang of the tenderness and folly of such people. She
knew this mother had scarcely enough to eat, but to her bread was of
small importance, flowers necessary to life. After all, it was very
sweet, this foolishness of these Southern people, and it somehow made
How can I tell her! she sighed. And yet I must.
She had only waited a moment when Mrs. Cameron suddenly entered with
her daughter. She threw her flowers on the table, sprang forward to
meet Elsie, seized her hands and called to Margaret.
How good of you to come so soon! This, Margaret, is our dear little
friend who has been so good to Ben and to me.
Margaret took Elsie's hand and longed to throw her arms around her
neck, but something in the quiet dignity of the Northern girl's manner
held her back. She only smiled tenderly through her big dark eyes, and
We love you! Ben was my last brother. We were playmates and chums.
My heart broke when he ran away to the front. How can we thank you and
I'm sure we've done nothing more than you would have done for us,
said Elsie, as Mrs. Cameron left the room.
Yes, I know, but we can never tell you how grateful we are to you.
We feel that you have saved Ben's life and ours. The war has been one
long horror to us since my first brother was killed. But now it's over,
and we have Ben left, and our hearts have been crying for joy all
I hoped my brother, Captain Phil Stoneman, would be here to-day to
meet you and help me, but he can't reach Washington before Friday.
He caught Ben in his arms! cried Margaret. I know he's brave, and
you must be proud of him.
Doctor Barnes says they are as much alike as twinsonly Phil is
not quite so tall and has blond hair like mine.
You will let me see him and thank him the moment he comes?
Hurry, Margaret! cheerily cried Mrs. Cameron, reëntering the
parlour. Get ready; we must go at once to the hospital.
Margaret turned and with stately grace hurried from the room. The
old dress she wore as unconscious of its shabbiness as though it were a
And now, my dear, what must I do to get the passes? asked the
Elsie's warm amber eyes grew misty for a moment, and the fair skin
with its gorgeous rose tints of the North paled. She hesitated, tried
to speak, and was silent.
The sensitive soul of the Southern woman read the message of sorrow
words had not framed.
Tell me, quickly! The
No, he is certain to recover.
Worsehe is condemned to death by court-martial.
Condemned to deathawoundedprisonerofwar! she whispered
slowly, with blanched face.
Yes, he was accused of violating the rules of war as a guerilla
raider in the invasion of Pennsylvania.
Absurd and monstrous! He was on General Jeb Stuart's staff and
could have acted only under his orders. He joined the infantry after
Stuart's death, and rose to be a colonel, though but a boy. There's
some terrible mistake!
Unless we can obtain his pardon, Elsie went on in even, restrained
tones, there is no hope. We must appeal to the President.
The mother's lips trembled, and she seemed about to faint.
Could I see the President? she asked, recovering herself with an
He has just reached Washington from the front, and is thronged by
thousands. It will be difficult.
The mother's lips were moving in silent prayer, and her eyes were
tightly closed to keep back the tears.
Can you help me, dear? she asked piteously.
Yes, was the quick response.
You see, she went on, I feel so helpless. I have never been to
the White House or seen the President, and I don't know how to go about
seeing him or how to ask himandI am afraid of Mr. Lincoln! I have
heard so many harsh things said of him.
I'll do my best, Mrs. Cameron. We must go at once to the White
House and try to see him.
The mother lifted the girl's hand and stroked it gently.
We will not tell Margaret. Poor child! she could not endure this.
When we return, we may have better news. It can't be worse. I'll send
her on an errand.
She took up the bouquet of gorgeous roses with a sigh, buried her
face in the fresh perfume, as if to gain strength in their beauty and
fragrance, and left the room.
In a few moments she had returned and was on her way with Elsie to
the White House.
It was a beautiful spring morning, this eleventh day of April, 1865.
The glorious sunshine, the shimmering green of the grass, the warm
breezes, and the shouts of victory mocked the mother's anguish.
At the White House gates they passed the blue sentry pacing silently
back and forth, who merely glanced at them with keen eyes and said
nothing. In the steady beat of his feet the mother could hear the tramp
of soldiers leading her boy to the place of death!
A great lump rose in her throat as she caught the first view of the
Executive Mansion gleaming white and silent and ghostlike among the
budding trees. The tall columns of the great facade, spotless as snow,
the spray of the fountain, the marble walls, pure, dazzling, and cold,
seemed to her the gateway to some great tomb in which her own dead and
the dead of all the people lay! To her the fair white palace, basking
there in the sunlight and budding grass, shrub, and tree, was the
Judgment House of Fate. She thought of all the weary feet that had
climbed its fateful steps in hope to return in despair, of its fierce
dramas on which the lives of millions had hung, and her heart grew
A long line of people already stretched from the entrance under the
portico far out across the park, awaiting their turn to see the
Mrs. Cameron placed her hand falteringly on Elsie's shoulder.
Look, my dear, what a crowd already! Must we wait in line?
No, I can get you past the throng with my father's name.
Will it be very difficult to reach the President?
No, it's very easy. Guards and sentinels annoy him. He frets until
they are removed. An assassin or maniac could kill him almost any hour
of the day or night. The doors are open at all hours, very late at
night. I have often walked up to the rooms of his secretaries as late
as nine o'clock without being challenged by a soul.
What must I call him? Must I say 'Your Excellency?'
By no meanshe hates titles and forms. You should say 'Mr.
President' in addressing him. But you will please him best if, in your
sweet, homelike way, you will just call him by his name. You can rely
on his sympathy. Read this letter of his to a widow. I brought it to
She handed Mrs. Cameron a newspaper clipping on which was printed
Mr. Lincoln's letter to Mrs. Bixby, of Boston, who had lost five sons
in the war.
Over and over she read its sentences until they echoed as solemn
music in her soul:
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which
should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming.
But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be
found in the thanks of the republic they died to save. I pray that our
Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave
you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn
pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the
altar of freedom.
Yours very sincerely and respectfully,
And the President paused amid a thousand cares to write that letter
to a broken-hearted woman? the mother asked.
Then he is good down to the last secret depths of a great heart!
Only a Christian father could have written that letter. I shall not be
afraid to speak to him. And they told me he was an infidel!
Elsie led her by a private way past the crowd and into the office of
Major Hay, the President's private secretary. A word from the Great
Commoner's daughter admitted them at once to the President's room.
Just take a seat on one side, Miss Elsie, said Major Hay; watch
your first opportunity and introduce your friend.
On entering the room, Mrs. Cameron could not see the President, who
was seated at his desk surrounded by three men in deep consultation
over a mass of official documents.
She looked about the room nervously and felt reassured by its plain
aspect. It was a medium-sized, officelike place, with no signs of
elegance or ceremony. Mr. Lincoln was seated in an armchair beside a
high writing-desk and table combined. She noticed that his feet were
large and that they rested on a piece of simple straw matting. Around
the room were sofas and chairs covered with green worsted.
When the group about the chair parted a moment, she caught the first
glimpse of the man who held her life in the hollow of his hand. She
studied him with breathless interest. His back was still turned. Even
while seated, she saw that he was a man of enormous stature, fully six
feet four inches tall, legs and arms abnormally long, and huge broad
shoulders slightly stooped. His head was powerful and crowned with a
mass of heavy brown hair, tinged with silver.
He turned his head slightly and she saw his profile set in its short
dark beardthe broad intellectual brow, half covered by unmanageable
hair, his face marked with deep-cut lines of life and death, with great
hollows in the cheeks and under the eyes. In the lines which marked the
corners of his mouth she could see firmness, and his beetling brows and
unusually heavy eyelids looked stern and formidable. Her heart sank.
She looked again and saw goodness, tenderness, sorrow, canny
shrewdness, and a strange lurking smile all haunting his mouth and eye.
Suddenly he threw himself forward in his chair, wheeled and faced
one of his tormentors with a curious and comical expression. With one
hand patting the other, and a funny look overspreading his face, he
My friend, let me tell you something
The man again stepped before him, and she could hear nothing. When
the story was finished, the man tried to laugh. It died in a feeble
effort. But the President laughed heartily, laughed all over, and
laughed his visitors out of the room.
Mrs. Cameron turned toward Elsie with a mute look of appeal to give
her this moment of good-humour in which to plead her cause, but before
she could move a man of military bearing suddenly stepped before the
He began to speak, but seeing the look of stern decision in Mr.
Lincoln's face, turned abruptly and said:
Mr. President, I see you are fully determined not to do me
Mr. Lincoln slightly compressed his lips, rose quietly, seized the
intruder by the arm, and led him toward the door.
This is the third time you have forced your presence on me, sir,
asking that I reverse the just sentence of a court-martial, dismissing
you from the service. I told you my decision was carefully made and was
final. Now I give you fair warning never to show yourself in this room
again. I can bear censure, but I will not endure insult!
In whining tones the man begged for his papers he had dropped.
Begone, sir, said the President, as he thrust him through the
door. Your papers will be sent to you.
The poor mother trembled at this startling act and sank back limp in
With quick, swinging stride the President walked back to his desk,
accompanied by Major Hay and a young German girl, whose simple dress
told that she was from the Western plains.
He handed the secretary an official paper.
Give this pardon to the boy's mother when she comes this morning,
he said kindly to the secretary, his eyes suddenly full of gentleness.
How could I consent to shoot a boy raised on a farm, in the habit
of going to bed at dark, for falling asleep at his post when required
to watch all night? I'll never go into eternity with the blood of such
a boy on my skirts.
Again the mother's heart rose.
You remember the young man I pardoned for a similar offence in '62,
about which Stanton made such a fuss? he went on in softly reminiscent
tones. Well, here is that pardon.
He drew from the lining of his silk hat a photograph, around which
was wrapped an executive pardon. Through the lower end of it was a
bullet-hole stained with blood.
I got this in Richmond. They found him dead on the field. He fell
in the front ranks with my photograph in his pocket next to his heart,
this pardon wrapped around it, and on the back of it in his boy's
scrawl, 'God bless Abraham Lincoln.' I love to invest in bonds
The secretary returned to his room, the girl who was waiting stepped
forward, and the President rose to receive her.
The mother's quick eye noted, with surprise, the simple dignity and
chivalry of manner with which he received this humble woman of the
With straightforward eloquence the girl poured out her story,
begging for the pardon of her young brother who had been sentenced to
death as a deserter. He listened in silence.
How pathetic the deep melancholy of his sad face! Yes, she was sure,
the saddest face that God ever made in all the world! Her own stricken
heart for a moment went out to him in sympathy.
The President took off his spectacles, wiped his forehead with the
large red silk handkerchief he carried, and his eyes twinkled kindly
down into the good German face.
You seem an honest, truthful, sweet girl, he said, andhe
smiledyou don't wear hoop skirts! I may be whipped for this, but
I'll trust you and your brother, too. He shall be pardoned. Elsie rose
to introduce Mrs. Cameron, when a Congressman from Massachusetts
suddenly stepped before her and pressed for the pardon of a slave
trader whose ship had been confiscated. He had spent five years in
prison, but could not pay the heavy fine in money imposed.
The President had taken his seat again, and read the eloquent appeal
for mercy. He looked up over his spectacles, fixed his eyes piercingly
on the Congressman and said:
This is a moving appeal, sir, expressed with great eloquence. I
might pardon a murderer under the spell of such words, but a man who
can make a business of going to Africa and robbing her of her helpless
children and selling them into bondageno, sirhe may rot in jail
before he shall have liberty by any act of mine!
Again the mother's heart sank.
Her hour had come. She must put the issue of life or death to the
test, and as Elsie rose and stepped quickly forward, she followed;
nerving herself for the ordeal.
The President took Elsie's hand familiarly and smiled without
rising. Evidently she was well known to him.
Will you hear the prayer of a broken-hearted mother of the South,
who has lost four sons in General Lee's army? she asked.
Looking quietly past the girl, he caught sight, for the first time,
of the faded dress and the sorrow-shadowed face.
He was on his feet in a moment, extended his hand and led her to a
Take this seat, Madam, and then tell me in your own way what I can
do for you. In simple words, mighty with the eloquence of a mother's
heart, she told her story and asked for the pardon of her boy,
promising his word of honour and her own that he would never again take
up arms against the Union.
The war is over now, Mr. Lincoln, she said, and we have lost all.
Can you conceive the desolation of my heart? My four boys were
noble men. They may have been wrong, but they fought for what they
believed to be right. You, too, have lost a boy.
The President's eyes grew dim.
Yes, a beautiful boy he said simply.
Well, mine are all gone but this baby. One of them sleeps in an
unmarked grave at Gettysburg. One died in a Northern prison. One fell
at Chancellorsville, one in the Wilderness, and this, my baby, before
Petersburg. Perhaps I've loved him too much, this last onehe's only a
You shall have your boy, my dear Madam, the President said simply,
seating himself and writing a brief order to the Secretary of War.
The mother drew near his desk, softly crying. Through her tears she
My heart is heavy, Mr. Lincoln, when I think of all the hard and
bitter things we have heard of you.
Well, give my love to the people of South Carolina when you go
home, and tell them that I am their President, and that I have never
forgotten this fact in the darkest hours of this awful war; and I am
going to do everything in my power to help them. You will never
regret this generous act, the mother cried with gratitude.
I reckon not, he answered. I'll tell you something, Madam, if you
won't tell anybody. It's a secret of my administration. I'm only too
glad of an excuse to save a life when I can. Every drop of blood shed
in this war North and South has been as if it were wrung out of my
heart. A strange fate decreed that the bloodiest war in human history
should be fought under my direction. And Ito whom the sight of blood
is a sickening horrorI have been compelled to look on in silent
anguish because I could not stop it! Now that the Union is saved, not
another drop of blood shall be spilled if I can prevent it.
May God bless you! the mother cried, as she received from him the
She held his hand an instant as she took her leave, laughing and
sobbing in her great joy.
I must tell you, Mr. President, she said, how surprised and how
pleased I am to find you are a Southern man.
Why, didn't you know that my parents were Virginians, and that I
was born in Kentucky?
Very few people in the South know it. I am ashamed to say I did
Then, how did you know I am a Southerner?
By your looks, your manner of speech, your easy, kindly ways, your
tenderness and humour, your firmness in the right as you see it, and,
above all, the way you rose and bowed to a woman in an old, faded black
dress, whom you knew to be an enemy. No, Madam, not an enemy now, he
said softly. That word is out of date.
If we had only known you in time
The President accompanied her to the door with a deference of manner
that showed he had been deeply touched.
Take this letter to Mr. Stanton at once, he said. Some folks
complain of my pardons, but it rests me after a hard day's work if I
can save some poor boy's life. I go to bed happy, thinking of the joy I
have given to those who love him.
As the last words were spoken, a peculiar dreaminess of expression
stole over his careworn face, as if a throng of gracious memories had
lifted for a moment the burden of his life.
CHAPTER III. THE MAN OF WAR
Elsie led Mrs. Cameron direct from the White House to the War
Well, Mrs. Cameron, what did you think of the President? she
I hardly know, was the thoughtful answer. He is the greatest man
I ever met. One feels this instinctively.
When Mrs. Cameron was ushered into the Secretary's Office, Mr.
Stanton was seated at his desk writing.
She handed the order of the President to a clerk, who gave it to the
He was a man in the full prime of life, intellectual and physical,
low and heavy set, about five feet eight inches in height and inclined
to fat. His movements, however, were quick, and as he swung in his
chair the keenest vigour marked every movement of body and every change
of his countenance.
His face was swarthy and covered with a long, dark beard touched
with gray. He turned a pair of little black piercing eyes on her and
without rising said:
So you are the woman who has a wounded son under sentence of death
as a guerilla?
I am so unfortunate, she answered.
Well, I have nothing to say to you, he went on in a louder and
sterner tone, and no time to waste on you. If you have raised up men
to rebel against the best government under the sun, you can take the
But, my dear sir, broke in the mother, he is a mere boy of
nineteen, who ran away three years ago and entered the service
I don't want to hear another word from you! he yelled in rage. I
have no time to wastego at once. I'll do nothing for you.
But I bring you an order from the President, protested the mother.
Yes, I know it, he answered with a sneer, and I'll do with it
what I've done with many otherssee that it is not executednow go.
But the President told me you would give me a pass to the hospital,
and that a full pardon would be issued to my boy!
Yes, I see. But let me give you some information. The President is
a foola dfool! Now, will you go?
With a sinking sense of horror, Mrs. Cameron withdrew and reported
to Elsie the unexpected encounter.
The brute! cried the girl. We'll go back immediately and report
this insult to the President.
Why are such men intrusted with power? the mother sighed.
It's a mystery to me, I'm sure. They say he is the greatest
Secretary of War in our history. I don't believe it. Phil hates the
sight of him, and so does every army officer I know, from General Grant
down. I hope Mr. Lincoln will expel him from the Cabinet for this
When, they were again ushered into the President's office, Elsie
hastened to inform him of the outrageous reply the Secretary of War had
made to his order.
Did Stanton say that I was a fool? he asked, with a quizzical look
out of his kindly eyes.
Yes, he did, snapped Elsie. And he repeated it with a blankety
The President looked good-humouredly out of the window toward the
War Office and musingly said:
Well, if Stanton says that I am a blankety fool, it must be so, for
I have found out that he is nearly always right, and generally means
what he says. I'll just step over and see Stanton.
As he spoke the last sentence, the humour slowly faded from his
face, and the anxious mother saw back of those patient gray eyes the
sudden gleam of the courage and conscious power of a lion.
He dismissed them with instructions to return the next day for his
final orders and walked over to the War Department alone.
The Secretary of War was in one of his ugliest moods, and made no
effort to conceal it when asked his reasons for the refusal to execute
The grounds for my action are very simple, he said with bitter
emphasis. The execution of this traitor is part of a carefully
considered policy of justice on which the future security of the Nation
depends. If I am to administer this office, I will not be hamstrung by
constant Executive interference. Besides, in this particular case, I
was urged that justice be promptly executed by the most powerful man in
Congress. I advise you to avoid a quarrel with old Stoneman at this
crisis in our history.
The President sat on a sofa with his legs crossed, relapsed into an
attitude of resignation, and listened in silence until the last
sentence, when suddenly he sat bolt upright, fixed his deep gray eyes
intently on Stanton and said:
Mr. Secretary, I reckon you will have to execute that order.
I cannot do it, came the firm answer. It is an interference with
justice, and I will not execute it.
Mr. Lincoln held his eyes steadily on Stanton and slowly said:
Mr. Secretary, it will have to be done.
Stanton wheeled in his chair, seized a pen and wrote very rapidly a
few lines to which he fixed his signature. He rose with the paper in
his hand, walked to his chief, and with deep emotion said:
Mr. President, I wish to thank you for your constant friendship
during the trying years I have held this office. The war is ended, and
my work is done. I hand you my resignation.
Mr. Lincoln's lips came suddenly together, he slowly rose, and
looked down with surprise into the flushed angry face.
He took the paper, tore it into pieces, slipped one of his long arms
around the Secretary, and said in low accents:
Stanton, you have been a faithful public servant, and it is not for
you to say when you will no longer be needed. Go on with your work. I
will have my way in this matter; but I will attend to it personally.
Stanton resumed his seat, and the President returned to the White
CHAPTER IV. A CLASH OF GIANTS
Elsie secured from the Surgeon-General temporary passes for the day,
and sent her friends to the hospital with the promise that she would
not leave the White House until she had secured the pardon.
The President greeted her with unusual warmth. The smile that had
only haunted his sad face during four years of struggle, defeat, and
uncertainty had now burst into joy that made his powerful head radiate
light. Victory had lifted the veil from his soul, and he was girding
himself for the task of healing the Nation's wounds.
I'll have it ready for you in a moment, Miss Elsie, he said,
touching with his sinewy hand a paper which lay on his desk, bearing on
its face the red seal of the Republic. I am only waiting to receive
I am very grateful to you, Mr. President, the girl said feelingly.
But tell me, he said, with quaint, fatherly humour, why you, of
all our girls, the brightest, fiercest little Yankee in town, so take
to heart a rebel boy's sorrows?
Elsie blushed, and then looked at him frankly with a saucy smile.
I am fulfilling the Commandments.
Love your enemies?
Certainly. How could one help loving the sweet, motherly face you
The President laughed heartily. I seeof course, of course!
The Honourable Austin Stoneman, suddenly announced a clerk at his
Elsie started in surprise and whispered:
Do not let my father know I am here. I will wait in the next room.
You'll let nothing delay the pardon, will you, Mr. President?
Mr. Lincoln warmly pressed her hand as she disappeared through the
door leading into Major Hay's room, and turned to meet the Great
Commoner who hobbled slowly in, leaning on his crooked cane.
At this moment he was a startling and portentous figure in the drama
of the Nation, the most powerful parliamentary leader in American
history, not excepting Henry Clay.
No stranger ever passed this man without a second look. His
clean-shaven face, the massive chiselled features, his grim eagle look,
and cold, colourless eyes, with the frosts of his native Vermont
sparkling in their depths, compelled attention.
His walk was a painful hobble. He was lame in both feet, and one of
them was deformed. The left leg ended in a mere bunch of flesh,
resembling more closely an elephant's hoof than the foot of a man.
He was absolutely bald, and wore a heavy brown wig that seemed too
small to reach the edge of his enormous forehead.
He rarely visited the White House. He was the able, bold,
unscrupulous leader of leaders, and men came to see him. He rarely
smiled, and when he did it was the smile of the cynic and misanthrope.
His tongue had the lash of a scorpion. He was a greater terror to the
trimmers and time-servers of his own party than to his political foes.
He had hated the President with sullen, consistent, and unyielding
venom from his first nomination at Chicago down to the last rumour of
his new proclamation.
In temperament a fanatic, in impulse a born revolutionist, the word
conservatism was to him as a red rag to a bull. The first clash of arms
was music to his soul. He laughed at the call for 75,000 volunteers,
and demanded the immediate equipment of an army of a million men. He
saw it grow to 2,000,000. From the first, his eagle eye had seen the
end and all the long, blood-marked way between. And from the first, he
began to plot the most cruel and awful vengeance in human history.
And now his time had come.
The giant figure in the White House alone had dared to brook his
anger and block the way; for old Stoneman was the Congress of the
United States. The opposition was too weak even for his contempt. Cool,
deliberate, and venomous alike in victory or defeat, the fascination of
his positive faith and revolutionary programme had drawn the rank and
file of his party in Congress to him as charmed satellites.
The President greeted him cordially, and with his habitual deference
to age and physical infirmity hastened to place for him an easy chair
near his desk.
He was breathing heavily and evidently labouring under great
emotion. He brought his cane to the floor with violence, placed both
hands on its crook, leaned his massive jaws on his hands for a moment,
and then said:
Mr. President, I have not annoyed you with many requests during the
past four years, nor am I here to-day to ask any favours. I have come
to warn you that, in the course you have mapped out, the executive and
legislative branches have come to the parting of the ways, and that
your encroachments on the functions of Congress will be tolerated, now
that the Rebellion is crushed, not for a single moment!
Mr. Lincoln listened with dignity, and a ripple of fun played about
his eyes as he looked at his grim visitor. The two men were face to
face at lastthe two men above all others who had built and were to
build the foundations of the New NationLincoln's in love and wisdom
to endure forever, the Great Commoner's in hate and madness, to bear
its harvest of tragedy and death for generations yet unborn.
Well, now, Stoneman, began the good-humoured voice, that puts me
The old Commoner lifted his hand with a gesture of angry impatience:
Save your fables for fools. Is it true that you have prepared a
proclamation restoring the conquered province of North Carolina to its
place as a State in the Union with no provision for negro suffrage or
the exile and disfranchisement of its rebels?
The President rose and walked back and forth with his hands folded
behind him before answering.
I have. The Constitution grants to the National Government no power
to regulate suffrage, and makes no provision for the control of
Constitution! thundered Stoneman. I have a hundred constitutions
in the pigeonholes of my desk!
I have sworn to support but one.
A worn-out rag
Rag or silk, I've sworn to execute it, and I'll do it, so help me
God! said the quiet voice.
You've been doing it for the past four years, haven't you! sneered
the Commoner. What right had you under the Constitution to declare war
against a 'sovereign' State? To invade one for coercion? To blockade a
port? To declare slaves free? To suspend the writ of habeas corpus
? To create the State of West Virginia by the consent of two states, one
of which was dead, and the other one of which lived in Ohio? By what
authority have you appointed military governors in the 'sovereign'
States of Virginia, Tennessee, and Louisiana? Why trim the hedge and
lie about it? We, too, are revolutionists, and you are our executive.
The Constitution sustained and protected slavery. It was 'a
league with death and a covenant with hell,' and our flag 'a polluted
In the stress of war, said the President, with a far-away look,
it was necessary that I do things as Commander-in-Chief of the Army
and Navy to save the Union which I have no right to do now that the
Union is saved and its Constitution preserved. My first duty is to
re-establish the Constitution as our supreme law over every inch of our
The Constitution be dd! hissed the old man. It was the
creation, both in letter and spirit, of the slaveholders of the South.
Then the world is their debtor, and their work is a monument of
imperishable glory to them and to their children. I have sworn to
We have outgrown the swaddling clothes of a babe. We will make new
'Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,' softly spoke the tall,
For the first time the old leader winced. He had long ago exhausted
the vocabulary of contempt on the President, his character, ability,
and policy. He felt as a shock the first impression of supreme
authority with which he spoke. The man he had despised had grown into
the great constructive statesman who would dispute with him every inch
of ground in the attainment of his sinister life purpose.
His hatred grew more intense as he realized the prestige and power
with which he was clothed by his mighty office.
With an effort he restrained his anger, and assumed an argumentative
Can't you see that your so-called States are now but conquered
provinces? That North Carolina and other waste territories of the
United States are unfit to associate with civilized communities?
We fought no war of conquest, quietly urged the President, but
one of self-preservation as an indissoluble Union. No State ever got
out of it, by the grace of God and the power of our arms. Now that we
have won, and established for all time its unity, shall we stultify
ourselves by declaring we were wrong? These States must be immediately
restored to their rights, or we shall betray the blood we have shed.
There are no 'conquered provinces' for us to spoil. A nation cannot
make conquest of its own territory.
But we are acting outside the Constitution, interrupted Stoneman.
Congress has no existence outside the Constitution, was the quick
The old Commoner scowled, and his beetling brows hid for a moment
his eyes. His keen intellect was catching its first glimpse of the
intellectual grandeur of the man with whom he was grappling. The
facility with which he could see all sides of a question, and the vivid
imagination which lit his mental processes, were a revelation. We
always underestimate the men we despise.
Why not out with it? cried Stoneman, suddenly changing his tack.
You are determined to oppose negro suffrage?
I have suggested to Governor Hahn of Louisiana to consider the
policy of admitting the more intelligent and those who served in the
war. It is only a suggestion. The State alone has the power to confer
But the truth is this little 'suggestion' of yours is only a bone
thrown to radical dogs to satisfy our howlings for the moment! In your
soul of souls you don't believe in the equality of man if the man under
comparison be a negro?
I believe that there is a physical difference between the white and
black races which will forever forbid their living together on terms of
political and social equality. If such be attempted, one must go to the
Very well, pin the Southern white man to the wall. Our party and
the Nation will then be safe.
That is to say, destroy African slavery and establish white slavery
under negro masters! That would be progress with a vengeance.
A grim smile twitched the old man's lips as he said:
Yes, your prim conservative snobs and male waiting-maids in
Congress went into hysterics when I armed the negroes. Yet the heavens
have not fallen.
True. Yet no more insane blunder could now be made than any further
attempt to use these negro troops. There can be no such thing as
restoring this Union to its basis of fraternal peace with armed
negroes, wearing the uniform of this Nation, tramping over the South,
and rousing the basest passions of the freedmen and their former
masters. General Butler, their old commander, is now making plans for
their removal, at my request. He expects to dig the Panama Canal with
these black troops.
Fine scheme thaton a par with your messages to Congress asking
for the colonization of the whole negro race!
It will come to that ultimately, said the President firmly. The
negro has cost us $5,000,000,000, the desolation of ten great States,
and rivers of blood. We can well afford a few million dollars more to
effect a permanent settlement of the issue. This is the only policy on
which Seward and I have differed
Then Seward was not an utterly hopeless fool. I'm glad to hear
something to his credit, growled the old Commoner.
I have urged the colonization of the negroes, and I shall continue
until it is accomplished. My emancipation proclamation was linked with
this plan. Thousands of them have lived in the North for a hundred
years, yet not one is the pastor of a white church, a judge, a
governor, a mayor, or a college president. There is no room for two
distinct races of white men in America, much less for two distinct
races of whites and blacks. We can have no inferior servile class, peon
or peasant. We must assimilate or expel. The American is a citizen king
or nothing. I can conceive of no greater calamity than the assimilation
of the negro into our social and political life as our equal. A mulatto
citizenship would be too dear a price to pay even for emancipation.
Words have no power to express my loathing for such twaddle! cried
Stoneman, snapping his great jaws together and pursing his lips with
If the negro were not here would we allow him to land? the
President went on, as if talking to himself. The duty to exclude
carries the right to expel. Within twenty years we can peacefully
colonize the negro in the tropics, and give him our language,
literature, religion, and system of government under conditions in
which he can rise to the full measure of manhood. This he can never do
here. It was the fear of the black tragedy behind emancipation that led
the South into the insanity of secession. We can never attain the ideal
Union our fathers dreamed, with millions of an alien, inferior race
among us, whose assimilation is neither possible nor desirable. The
Nation cannot now exist half white and half black, any more than it
could exist half slave and half free.
Yet 'God hath made of one blood all races,' quoted the cynic with
Yesbut finish the sentence'and fixed the bounds of their
habitation.' God never meant that the negro should leave his habitat or
the white man invade his home. Our violation of this law is written in
two centuries of shame and blood. And the tragedy will not be closed
until the black man is restored to his home.
I marvel that the minions of slavery elected Jeff Davis their chief
with so much better material at hand!
His election was a tragic and superfluous blunder. I am the
President of the United States, North and South, was the firm reply.
Particularly the South! hissed Stoneman. During all this hideous
war they have been your petsthese rebel savages who have been
murdering our sons. You have been the ever-ready champion of traitors.
And you now dare to bend this high office to their defence
My God, Stoneman, are you a man or a savage! cried the President.
Is not the North equally responsible for slavery? Has not the South
lost all? Have not the Southern people paid the full penalty of all the
crimes of war? Are our skirts free? Was Sherman's march a picnic? This
war has been a giant conflict of principles to decide whether we are a
bundle of petty sovereignties held by a rope of sand or a mighty nation
of freemen. But for the loyalty of four border Southern Statesbut for
Farragut and Thomas and their two hundred thousand heroic Southern
brethren who fought for the Union against their own flesh and blood, we
should have lost. You cannot indict a people
I do indict them! muttered the old man.
Surely, went on the even, throbbing voice, surely, the vastness
of this war, its titanic battles, its heroism, its sublime earnestness,
should sink into oblivion all low schemes of vengeance! Before the
sheer grandeur of its history our children will walk with silent lips
and uncovered heads.
And forget the prison pen at Andersonville!
Yes. We refused, as a policy of war, to exchange those prisoners,
blockaded their ports, made medicine contraband, and brought the
Southern Army itself to starvation. The prison records, when made at
last for history, will show as many deaths on our side as on theirs.
The murderer on the gallows always wins more sympathy than his
forgotten victim, interrupted the cynic.
The sin of vengeance is an easy one under the subtle plea of
justice, said the sorrowful voice. Have we not had enough bloodshed?
Is not God's vengeance enough? When Sherman's army swept to the sea,
before him lay the Garden of Eden, behind him stretched a desert! A
hundred years cannot give back to the wasted South her wealth, or two
hundred years restore to her the lost seed treasures of her young
The imbecility of a policy of mercy in this crisis can only mean
the reign of treason and violence, persisted the old man, ignoring the
I leave my policy before the judgment bar of time, content with its
verdict. In my place, radicalism would have driven the border States
into the Confederacy, every Southern man back to his kinsmen, and
divided the North itself into civil conflict. I have sought to guide
and control public opinion into the ways on which depended our life.
This rational flexibility of policy you and your fellow radicals have
been pleased to call my vacillating imbecility.
And what is your message for the South?
Simply this: 'Abolish slavery, come back home, and behave
yourself.' Lee surrendered to our offers of peace and amnesty. In my
last message to Congress I told the Southern people they could have
peace at any moment by simply laying down their arms and submitting to
National authority. Now that they have taken me at my word, shall I
betray them by an ignoble revenge? Vengeance cannot heal and purify: it
can only brutalize and destroy.
Stoneman shuffled to his feet with impatience.
I see it is useless to argue with you. I'll not waste my breath. I
give you an ultimatum. The South is conquered soil. I mean to blot it
from the map. Rather than admit one traitor to the halls of Congress
from these so-called States I will shatter the Union itself into ten
thousand fragments! I will not sit beside men whose clothes smell of
the blood of my kindred. At least dry them before they come in. Four
years ago, with yells and curses, these traitors left the halls of
Congress to join the armies of Catiline. Shall they return to rule?
I repeat, said the President, you cannot indict a people. Treason
is an easy word to speak. A traitor is one who fights and loses.
Washington was a traitor to George III. Treason won, and Washington is
immortal. Treason is a word that victors hurl at those who fail.
Listen to me, Stoneman interrupted with vehemence. The life of
our party demands that the negro be given the ballot and made the ruler
of the South. This can be done only by the extermination of its landed
aristocracy, that their mothers shall not breed another race of
traitors. This is not vengeance. It is justice, it is patriotism, it is
the highest wisdom and humanity. Nature, at times, blots out whole
communities and races that obstruct progress. Such is the political
genius of these people that, unless you make the negro the ruler, the
South will yet reconquer the North and undo the work of this war.
If the South in poverty and ruin can do this, we deserve to be
ruled! The North is rich and powerfulthe South a land of wreck and
tomb. I greet with wonder, shame, and scorn such ignoble fear! The
Nation cannot be healed until the South is healed. Let the gulf be
closed in which we bury slavery, sectional animosity, and all strifes
and hatreds. The good sense of our people will never consent to your
scheme of insane vengeance.
The people have no sense. A new fool is born every second. They are
ruled by impulse and passion.
I have trusted them before, and they have not failed me. The day I
left for Gettysburg to dedicate the battlefield, you were so sure of my
defeat in the approaching convention that you shouted across the street
to a friend as I passed: 'Let the dead bury the dead!' It was a
brilliant sally of wit. I laughed at it myself. And yet the people
unanimously called me again to lead them to victory.
Yes, in the past, said Stoneman bitterly, you have triumphed, but
mark my word: from this hour your star grows dim. The slumbering fires
of passion will be kindled. In the fight we join to-day I'll break your
back and wring the neck of every dastard and time-server who fawns at
The President broke into a laugh that only increased the old man's
I protest against the insult of your buffoonery!
Excuse me, Stoneman; I have to laugh or die beneath the burdens I
bear, surrounded by such supporters!
Mark my word, growled the old leader, from the moment you publish
that North Carolina proclamation, your name will be a by-word in
There are higher powers.
You will need them.
I'll have help, was the calm reply, as the dreaminess of the poet
and mystic stole over the rugged face. I would be a presumptuous fool,
indeed, if I thought that for a day I could discharge the duties of
this great office without the aid of One who is wiser and stronger than
You'll need the help of Almighty God in the course you've mapped
Some ships come into port that are not steered, went on the dreamy
voice. Suppose Pickett had charged one hour earlier at Gettysburg?
Suppose the Monitor had arrived one hour later at Hampton Roads?
I had a dream last night that always presages great events. I saw a
white ship passing swiftly under full sail. I have often seen her
before. I have never known her port of entry, or her destination, but I
have always known her Pilot!
The cynic's lips curled with scorn. He leaned heavily on his cane,
and took a shambling step toward the door.
You refuse to heed the wishes of Congress?
If your words voice them, yes. Force your scheme of revenge on the
South, and you sow the wind to reap the whirlwind.
Indeed! and from what secret cave will this whirlwind come?
The despair of a mighty race of world-conquering men, even in
defeat, is still a force that statesmen reckon with.
I defy them, growled the old Commoner.
Again the dreamy look returned to Lincoln's face, and he spoke as if
repeating a message of the soul caught in the clouds in an hour of
And I'll trust the honour of Lee and his people. The mystic chords
of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every
living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell
the chorus of the Union, when touched again, as they surely will be, by
the better angels of our nature.
You'll be lucky to live to hear that chorus.
To dream it is enough. If I fall by the hand of an assassin now, he
will not come from the South. I was safer in Richmond, this week, than
I am in Washington, to-day.
The cynic grunted and shuffled another step toward the door.
The President came closer.
Look here, Stoneman; have you some deep personal motive in this
vengeance on the South? Come, now, I've never in my life known you to
tell a lie.
The answer was silence and a scowl.
Am I right?
Yes and no. I hate the South because I hate the Satanic Institution
of Slavery with consuming fury. It has long ago rotted the heart out of
the Southern people. Humanity cannot live in its tainted air, and its
children are doomed. If my personal wrongs have ordained me for a
mighty task, no matter; I am simply the chosen instrument of Justice!
Again the mystic light clothed the rugged face, calm and patient as
Destiny, as the President slowly repeated:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the
right, as God gives me to see the right, I shall strive to finish the
work we are in, and bind up the Nation's wounds.
I've given you fair warning, cried the old Commoner, trembling
with rage, as he hobbled nearer the door. From this hour your
administration is doomed.
Stoneman, said the kindly voice, I can't tell you how your
venomous philanthropy sickens me. You have misunderstood and abused me
at every step during the past four years. I bear you no ill will. If I
have said anything to-day to hurt your feelings, forgive me. The
earnestness with which you pressed the war was an invaluable service to
me and to the Nation. I'd rather work with you than fight you. But now
that we have to fight, I'd as well tell you I'm not afraid of you. I'll
suffer my right arm to be severed from my body before I'll sign one
measure of ignoble revenge on a brave, fallen foe, and I'll keep up
this fight until I win, die, or my country forsakes me.
I have always known you had a sneaking admiration for the South,
came the sullen sneer.
I love the South! It is a part of this Union. I love every foot of
its soil, every hill and valley, mountain, lake, and sea, and every
man, woman, and child that breathes beneath its skies. I am an
As the burning words leaped from the heart of the President the
broad shoulders of his tall form lifted, and his massive head rose in
unconscious heroic pose.
I marvel that you ever made war upon your loved ones! cried the
We fought the South because we loved her and would not let her go.
Now that she is crushed and lies bleeding at our feetyou shall not
make war on the wounded, dying, and the dead!
Again the lion gleamed in the calm gray eyes.
CHAPTER IV. THE BATTLE OF LOVE
Elsie carried Ben Cameron's pardon to the anxious mother and sister
with her mind in a tumult. The name on these fateful papers fascinated
her. She read it again and again with a curious personal joy that she
had saved a life!
She had entered on her work among the hospitals a bitter partisan of
her father's school, with the simple idea that all Southerners were
savage brutes. Yet as she had seen the wounded boys from the South
among the men in blue, more and more she had forgotten the difference
between them. They were so young, these slender, dark-haired ones from
Dixieso pitifully young! Some of them were only fifteen, and hundreds
not over sixteen. A lad of fourteen she had kissed one day in sheer
agony of pity for his loneliness.
The part her father was playing in the drama on which Ben Cameron's
life had hung puzzled her. Was his the mysterious arm back of Stanton?
Echoes of the fierce struggle with the President had floated through
the half-open door.
She had implicit faith in her father's patriotism and pride in his
giant intellect. She knew that he was a king among men by divine right
of inherent power. His sensitive spirit, brooding over a pitiful
lameness, had hidden from the world behind a frowning brow like a
wounded animal. Yet her hand in hours of love, when no eye save God's
could see, had led his great soul out of its dark lair. She loved him
with brooding tenderness, knowing that she had gotten closer to his
inner life than any other human beingcloser than her own mother, who
had died while she was a babe. Her aunt, with whom she and Phil now
lived, had told her the mother's life was not a happy one. Their
natures had not proved congenial, and her gentle Quaker spirit had died
of grief in the quiet home in southern Pennsylvania.
Yet there were times when he was a stranger even to her. Some
secret, dark and cold, stood between them. Once she had tenderly asked
him what it meant. He merely pressed her hand, smiled wearily, and
Nothing, my dear, only the Blue Devils after me again.
He had always lived in Washington in a little house with black
shutters, near the Capitol, while the children had lived with his
sister, near the White House, where they had grown from babyhood.
A curious fact about this place on the Capitol hill was that his
housekeeper, Lydia Brown, was a mulatto, a woman of extraordinary
animal beauty and the fiery temper of a leopardess. Elsie had ventured
there once and got such a welcome she would never return. All sorts of
gossip could be heard in Washington about this woman, her jewels, her
dresses, her airs, her assumption of the dignity of the presiding
genius of National legislation and her domination of the old Commoner
and his life. It gradually crept into the newspapers and magazines, but
he never once condescended to notice it.
Elsie begged her father to close this house and live with them.
His reply was short and emphatic:
Impossible, my child. This club foot must live next door to the
Capitol. My house is simply an executive office at which I sleep. Half
the business of the Nation is transacted there. Don't mention this
Elsie choked back a sob at the cold menace in the tones of this
command, and never repeated her request. It was the only wish he had
ever denied her, and, somehow, her heart would come back to it with
persistence and brood and wonder over his motive.
The nearer she drew, this morning, to the hospital door, the closer
the wounded boy's life and loved ones seemed to hers. She thought with
anguish of the storm about to break between her father and the
Presidentthe one demanding the desolation of their land, wasted,
harried, and unarmed!the President firm in his policy of mercy,
generosity, and healing.
Her father would not mince words. His scorpion tongue, set on fires
of hell, might start a conflagration that would light the Nation with
its glare. Would not his name be a terror for every man and woman born
under Southern skies? The sickening feeling stole over her that he was
wrong, and his policy cruel and unjust.
She had never before admired the President. It was fashionable to
speak with contempt of him in Washington. He had little following in
Congress. Nine tenths of the politicians hated or feared him, and she
knew her father had been the soul of a conspiracy at the Capitol to
prevent his second nomination and create a dictatorship, under which to
carry out an iron policy of reconstruction in the South. And now she
found herself heart and soul the champion of the President.
She was ashamed of her disloyalty, and felt a rush of impetuous
anger against Ben and his people for thrusting themselves between her
and her own. Yet how absurd to feel thus against the innocent victims
of a great tragedy! She put the thought from her. Still she must part
from them now before the brewing storm burst. It would be best for her
and best for them. This pardon delivered would end their relations. She
would send the papers by a messenger and not see them again. And then
she thought with a throb of girlish pride of the hour to come in the
future when Ben's big brown eyes would be softened with a tear when he
would learn that she had saved his life. They had concealed all from
him as yet.
She was afraid to question too closely in her own heart the shadowy
motive that lay back of her joy. She read again with a lingering smile
the name Ben Cameron on the paper with its big red Seal of Life. She
had laughed at boys who had made love to her, dreaming a wider, nobler
life of heroic service. And she felt that she was fulfilling her ideal
in the generous hand she had extended to these who were friendless.
Were they not the children of her soul in that larger, finer world of
which she had dreamed and sung? Why should she give them up now for
brutal politics? Their sorrow had been hers, their joy should be hers,
too. She would take the papers herself and then say good-bye.
She found the mother and sister beside the cot. Ben was sleeping
with Margaret holding one of his hands. The mother was busy sewing for
the wounded Confederate boys she had found scattered through the
At the sight of Elsie holding aloft the message of life she sprang
to meet her with a cry of joy.
She clasped the girl to her breast, unable to speak. At last she
released her and said with a sob:
My child, through good report and through evil report my love will
Elsie stammered, looked away, and tried to hide her emotion.
Margaret had knelt and bowed her head on Ben's cot. She rose at length,
threw her arms around Elsie in a resistless impulse, kissed her and
My sweet sister!
Elsie's heart leaped at the words, as her eyes rested on the face of
the sleeping soldier.
CHAPTER VI. THE ASSASSINATION
Elsie called in the afternoon at the Camerons' lodgings, radiant
with pride, accompanied by her brother.
Captain Phil Stoneman, athletic, bronzed, a veteran of two years'
service, dressed in his full uniform, was the ideal soldier, and yet he
had never loved war. He was bubbling over with quiet joy that the end
had come and he could soon return to a rational life. Inheriting his
mother's temperament, he was generous, enterprising, quick,
intelligent, modest, and ambitious. War had seemed to him a horrible
tragedy from the first. He had early learned to respect a brave foe,
and bitterness had long since melted out of his heart.
He had laughed at his father's harsh ideas of Southern life gained
as a politician, and, while loyal to him after a boy's fashion, he took
no stock in his Radical programme.
The father, colossal egotist that he was, heard Phil's protests with
mild amusement and quiet pride in his independence, for he loved this
boy with deep tenderness.
Phil had been touched by the story of Ben's narrow escape, and was
anxious to show his mother and sister every courtesy possible in part
atonement for the wrong he felt had been done them. He was timid with
girls, and yet he wished to give Margaret a cordial greeting for
Elsie's sake. He was not prepared for the shock the first appearance of
the Southern girl gave him.
When the stately figure swept through the door to greet him, her
black eyes sparkling with welcome, her voice low and tender with
genuine feeling, he caught his breath in surprise.
Elsie noted his confusion with amusement and said:
I must go to the hospital for a little work. Now, Phil, I'll meet
you at the door at eight o'clock.
I'll not forget, he answered abstractedly, watching Margaret
intently as she walked with Elsie to the door.
He saw that her dress was of coarse, unbleached cotton, dyed with
the juice of walnut hulls and set with wooden hand-made buttons. The
story these things told of war and want was eloquent, yet she wore them
with unconscious dignity. She had not a pin or brooch or piece of
jewellery. Everything about her was plain and smooth, graceful and
gracious. Her face was largethe lovely oval typeand her luxuriant
hair, parted in the middle, fell downward in two great waves. Tall,
stately, handsome, her dark rare Southern beauty full of subtle languor
and indolent grace, she was to Phil a revelation.
The coarse black dress that clung closely to her figure seemed alive
when she moved, vital with her beauty. The musical cadences of her
voice were vibrant with feeling, sweet, tender, and homelike. And the
odour of the rose she wore pinned low on her breast he could swear was
the perfume of her breath.
Lingering in her eyes and echoing in the tones of her voice, he
caught the shadowy memory of tears for the loved and lost that gave a
strange pathos and haunting charm to her youth.
She had returned quickly and was talking at ease with him.
I'm not going to tell you, Captain Stoneman, that I hope to be a
sister to you. You have already made yourself my brother in what you
did for Ben.
Nothing, I assure you, Miss Cameron, that any soldier wouldn't do
for a brave foe.
Perhaps; but when the foe happens to be an only brother, my chum
and playmate, brave and generous, whom I've worshipped as my beau-ideal
manwhy, you know I must thank you for taking him in your arms that
day. May I, again?
Phil felt the soft warm hand clasp his, while the black eyes
sparkled and glowed their friendly message.
He murmured something incoherently, looked at Margaret as if in a
spell, and forgot to let her hand go.
She laughed at last, and he blushed and dropped it as though it were
a live coal.
I was about to forget, Miss Cameron. I wish to take you to the
theatre to-night, if you will go?
To the theatre?
Yes. It's to be an occasion, Elsie tells me. Laura Keene's last
appearance in 'Our American Cousin,' and her one-thousandth performance
of the play. She played it in Chicago at McVicker's, when the President
was first nominated, to hundreds of the delegates who voted for him. He
is to be present to-night, so the Evening Star has announced,
and General and Mrs. Grant with him. It will be the opportunity of your
life to see these famous menbesides, I wish you to see the city
illuminated on the way.
I should like to go, she said with some confusion. But you see we
are old-fashioned Scotch Presbyterians down in our village in South
Carolina. I never was in a theatreand this is Good Friday
That's a fact, sure, said Phil thoughtfully. It never occurred to
me. War is not exactly a spiritual stimulant, and it blurs the
calendar. I believe we fight on Sundays oftener than on any other day.
But I'm crazy to see the President since Ben's pardon. Mamma will
be here in a moment, and I'll ask her.
You see, it's really an occasion, Phil went on. The people are
all going there to see President Lincoln in the hour of his triumph,
and his great General fresh from the field of victory. Grant has just
arrived in town.
Mrs. Cameron entered and greeted Phil with motherly tenderness.
Captain, you're so much like my boy! Had you noticed it, Margaret?
Of course, Mamma, but I was afraid I'd tire him with flattery if I
tried to tell him.
Only his hair is light and wavy, and Ben's straight and black, or
you'd call them twins. Ben's a little tallerexcuse us, Captain
Stoneman, but we've fallen so in love with your little sister we feel
we've known you all our lives.
I assure you, Mrs. Cameron, your flattery is very sweet. Elsie and
I do not remember our mother, and all this friendly criticism is more
Mamma, Captain Stoneman asks me to go with him and his sister
to-night to see the President at the theatre. May I go?
Will the President be there, Captain? asked Mrs. Cameron.
Yes, Madam, with General and Mrs. Grantit's really a great public
function in celebration of peace and victory. To-day the flag was
raised over Fort Sumter, the anniversary of its surrender four years
ago. The city will be illuminated.
Then, of course, you can go. I will sit with Ben. I wish you to see
At seven o'clock Phil called for Margaret. They walked to the
Capitol hill and down Pennsylvania Avenue.
The city was in a ferment. Vast crowds thronged the streets. In
front of the hotel where General Grant stopped the throng was so dense
the streets were completely blocked. Soldiers, soldiers, soldiers, at
every turn, in squads, in companies, in regimental crowds, shouting
cries of victory.
The display of lights was dazzling in its splendour. Every building
in every street, in every nook and corner of the city, was lighted from
attic to cellar. The public buildings and churches vied with each other
in the magnificence of their decorations and splendour of
They turned a corner, and suddenly the Capitol on the throne of its
imperial hill loomed a grand constellation in the heavens! Another
look, and it seemed a huge bonfire against the background of the dark
skies. Every window in its labyrinths of marble, from the massive base
to its crowning statue of Freedom, gleamed and flashed with lightmore
than ten thousand jets poured their rays through its windows, besides
the innumerable lights that circled the mighty dome within and without.
Margaret stopped, and Phil felt her soft hand grip his arm with
Isn't it sublime! she whispered.
Glorious! he echoed.
But he was thinking of the pressure of her hand on his arm and the
subtle tones of her voice. Somehow he felt that the light came from her
eyes. He forgot the Capitol and the surging crowds before the sweeter
creative wonder silently growing in his soul.
And yet, she faltered, when I think of what all this means for
our people at hometheir sorrow and poverty and ruinyou know it
makes me faint.
Phil's hand timidly sought the soft one resting on his arm and
touched it reverently.
Believe me, Miss Margaret, it will be all for the best in the end.
The South will yet rise to a nobler life than she has ever lived in the
past. This is her victory as well as ours.
I wish I could think so, she answered.
They passed the City Hall and saw across its front, in giant letters
of fire thirty feet deep, the words:
UNION, SHERMAN, AND GRANT
On Pennsylvania Avenue the hotels and stores had hung every window,
awning, cornice, and swaying tree-top with lanterns. The grand avenue
was bridged by tri-coloured balloons floating and shimmering ghostlike
far up in the dark sky. Above these, in the blacker zone toward the
stars, the heavens were flashing sheets of chameleon flames from
Margaret had never dreamed such a spectacle. She walked in awed
silence, now and then suppressing a sob for the memory of those she had
loved and lost. A moment of bitterness would cloud her heart, and then
with the sense of Phil's nearness, his generous nature, the beauty and
goodness of his sister, and all they owed to her for Ben's life, the
cloud would pass.
At every public building, and in front of every great hotel, bands
were playing. The wild war strains, floating skyward, seemed part of
the changing scheme of light. The odour of burnt powder and smouldering
rockets filled the warm spring air.
The deep bay of the great fort guns now began to echo from every
hilltop commanding the city, while a thousand smaller guns barked and
growled from every square and park and crossing.
Jay Cooke &Co's. banking-house had stretched across its front, in
enormous blazing letters, the words:
THE BUSY B'SBALLS, BALLOTS, AND BONDS
Every telegraph and newspaper office was a roaring whirlpool of
excitement, for the same scenes were being enacted in every centre of
the North. The whole city was now a fairy dream, its dirt and sin,
shame and crime, all wrapped in glorious light.
But above all other impressions was the contagion of the thunder
shouts of hosts of men surging through the streetsthe human roar with
its animal and spiritual magnetism, wild, resistless, unlike any other
force in the universe!
Margaret's hand again and again unconsciously tightened its hold on
Phil's arm, and he felt that the whole celebration had been gotten up
for his benefit.
They passed through a little park on their way to Ford's Theatre on
10th Street, and the eye of the Southern girl was quick to note the
budding flowers and full-blown lilacs.
See what an early spring! she cried. I know the flowers at home
are gorgeous now.
I shall hope to see you among them some day, when all the clouds
have lifted, he said.
She smiled and replied with simple earnestness:
A warm welcome will await your coming.
And Phil resolved to lose no time in testing it.
They turned into 10th Street, and in the middle of the block stood
the plain three-story brick structure of Ford's Theatre, an enormous
crowd surging about its five doorways and spreading out on the sidewalk
and half across the driveway.
Is that the theatre? asked Margaret.
Why, it looks like a church without a steeple.
Exactly what it really is, Miss Margaret. It was a Baptist church.
They turned it into a playhouse, by remodelling its gallery into a
dress-circle and balcony and adding another gallery above. My
grandmother Stoneman is a devoted Baptist, and was an attendant at this
church. My father never goes to church, but he used to go here
occasionally to please her. Elsie and I frequently came.
Phil pushed his way rapidly through the crowd with a peculiar sense
of pleasure in making a way for Margaret and in defending her from the
They found Elsie at the door, stamping her foot with impatience.
Well, I must say, Phil, this is prompt for a soldier who had
positive orders, she cried. I've been here an hour.
Nonsense, Sis, I'm ahead of time, he protested.
Elsie held up her watch.
It's a quarter past eight. Every seat is filled, and they've
stopped selling standing-room. I hope you have good seats.
The best in the house to-night, the first row in the balcony
dress-circle, opposite the President's box. We can see everything on
the stage, in the box, and every nook and corner of the house.
Then I'll forgive you for keeping me waiting.
They ascended the stairs, pushed through the throng standing, and at
last reached the seats.
What a crowd! The building was a mass of throbbing humanity, and,
over all, the hum of the thrilling wonder of peace and victory!
The women in magnificent costumes, officers in uniforms flashing
with gold, the show of wealth and power, the perfume of flowers and the
music of violin and flutes gave Margaret the impression of a dream, so
sharp was the contrast with her own life and people in the South.
The interior of the house was a billow of red, white, and blue. The
President's box was wrapped in two enormous silk flags with
gold-fringed edges gracefully draped and hanging in festoons.
Withers, the leader of the orchestra, was in high feather. He raised
his baton with quick, inspired movement. It was for him a personal
triumph, too. He had composed the music of a song for the occasion. It
was dedicated to the President, and the programme announced that it
would be rendered during the evening between the acts by a famous
quartet, assisted by the whole company in chorus. The National flag
would be draped about each singer, worn as the togas of ancient Greece
It was already known by the crowd that General and Mrs. Grant had
left the city for the North and could not be present, but every eye was
fixed on the door through which the President and Mrs. Lincoln would
enter. It was the hour of his supreme triumph.
[Illustration: THE ASSASSINATION.]
What a romance his life! The thought of it thrilled the crowd as
they waited. A few years ago this tall, sad-faced man had floated down
the Sangamon River into a rough Illinois town, ragged, penniless,
friendless, alone, begging for work. Four years before he had entered
Washington as President of the United Statesbut he came under cover
of the night with a handful of personal friends, amid universal
contempt for his ability and the loud expressed conviction of his
failure from within and without his party. He faced a divided Nation
and the most awful civil convulsion in history. Through it all he had
led the Nation in safety, growing each day in power and fame, until
to-night, amid the victorious shouts of millions of a Union fixed in
eternal granite, he stood forth the idol of the people, the first great
American, the foremost man of the world.
There was a stir at the door, and the tall figure suddenly loomed in
view of the crowd. With one impulse they leaped to their feet, and
shout after shout shook the building. The orchestra was playing Hail
to the Chief! but nobody heard it. They saw the Chief! They were
crying their own welcome in music that came from the rhythmic beat of
As the President walked along the aisle with Mrs. Lincoln,
accompanied by Senator Harris' daughter and Major Rathbone, cheer after
cheer burst from the crowd. He turned, his face beaming with pleasure,
and bowed as he passed.
The answer of the crowd shook the building to its foundations, and
the President paused. His dark face flashed with emotion as he looked
over the sea of cheering humanity. It was a moment of supreme
exaltation. The people had grown to know and love and trust him, and it
was sweet. His face, lit with the responsive fires of emotion, was
transfigured. The soul seemed to separate itself from its dreamy,
rugged dwelling-place and flash its inspiration from the spirit world.
As around this man's personality had gathered the agony and horror
of war, so now about his head glowed and gleamed in imagination the
splendours of victory.
Margaret impulsively put her hand on Phil's arm:
Why, how Southern he looks! How tall and dark and typical his whole
Yes, and his traits of character even more typical, said Phil. On
the surface, easy friendly ways and the tenderness of a womanbeneath,
an iron will and lion heart. I like him. And what always amazes me is
his universality. A Southerner finds in him the South, the Western man
the West, even Charles Sumner, from Boston, almost loves him. You know
I think he is the first great all-round American who ever lived in the
The President's party had now entered the box, and as Mr. Lincoln
took the armchair nearest the audience, in full view of every eye in
the house, again the cheers rent the air. In vain Withers' baton flew,
and the orchestra did its best. The music was drowned as in the roar of
the sea. Again he rose and bowed and smiled, his face radiant with
pleasure. The soul beneath those deep-cut lines had long pined for the
sunlight. His love of the theatre and the humorous story were the
protest of his heart against pain and tragedy. He stood there bowing to
the people, the grandest, gentlest figure of the fiercest war of human
historya man who was always doing merciful things stealthily as
others do crimes. Little sunlight had come into his life, yet to-night
he felt that the sun of a new day in his history and the history of the
people was already tingeing the horizon with glory.
Back of those smiles what a story! Many a night he had paced back
and forth in the telegraph office of the War Department, read its awful
news of defeat, and alone sat down and cried over the list of the dead.
Many a black hour his soul had seen when the honours of earth were
forgotten and his great heart throbbed on his sleeve. His character had
grown so evenly and silently with the burdens he had borne, working
mighty deeds with such little friction, he could not know, nor could
the crowd to whom he bowed, how deep into the core of the people's life
the love of him had grown.
As he looked again over the surging crowd his tall figure seemed to
straighten, erect and buoyant, with the new dignity of conscious
triumphant leadership. He knew that he had come unto his own at last,
and his brain was teeming with dreams of mercy and healing.
The President resumed his seat, the tumult died away, and the play
began amid a low hum of whispered comment directed at the flag-draped
box. The actors struggled in vain to hold the attention of the
audience, until finally Hawk, the actor playing Dundreary, determined
to catch their ear, paused and said:
Now, that reminds me of a little story, as Mr. Lincoln says
Instantly the crowd burst into a storm of applause, the President
laughed, leaned over and spoke to his wife, and the electric connection
was made between the stage, the box, and the people.
After this the play ran its smooth course, and the audience settled
into its accustomed humour of sympathetic attention.
In spite of the novelty of this, her first view of a theatre, the
President fascinated Margaret. She watched the changing lights and
shadows of his sensitive face with untiring interest, and the wonder of
his life grew upon her imagination. This man who was the idol of the
North and yet to her so purely Southern, who had come out of the West
and yet was greater than the West or the North, and yet always
supremely humanthis man who sprang to his feet from the chair of
State and bowed to a sorrowing woman with the deference of a knight,
every man's friend, good-natured, sensible, masterful and clear in
intellect, strong, yet modest, kind and gentleyes, he was more
interesting than all the drama and romance of the stage!
He held her imagination in a spell. Elsie, divining her abstraction,
looked toward the President's box and saw approaching it along the
balcony aisle the figure of John Wilkes Booth.
Look, she cried, touching Margaret's arm. There's John Wilkes
Booth, the actor! Isn't he handsome? They say he's in love with my
chum, a senator's daughter whose father hates Mr. Lincoln with perfect
He is handsome, Margaret answered. But I'd be afraid of him, with
that raven hair and eyes shining like something wild.
They say he is wild and dissipated, yet half the silly girls in
town are in love with him. He's as vain as a peacock.
Booth, accustomed to free access to the theatre, paused near the
entrance to the box and looked deliberately over the great crowd, his
magnetic face flushed with deep emotion, while his fiery inspiring eyes
glittered with excitement.
Dressed in a suit of black broadcloth of faultless fit, from the
crown of his head to the soles of his feet he was physically without
blemish. A figure of perfect symmetry and proportion, his dark eyes
flashing, his marble forehead crowned with curling black hair, agility
and grace stamped on every line of his beingbeyond a doubt he was the
handsomest man in America. A flutter of feminine excitement rippled the
surface of the crowd in the balcony as his well-known figure caught the
wandering eyes of the women.
He turned and entered the door leading to the President's box, and
Margaret once more gave her attention to the stage.
Hawk, as Dundreary, was speaking his lines and looking directly at
the President instead of at the audience:
Society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out,
old woman, you darned old sockdologing man trap!
Margaret winced at the coarse words, but the galleries burst into
shouts of laughter that lingered in ripples and murmurs and the
shuffling of feet.
The muffled crack of a pistol in the President's box hushed the
laughter for an instant.
No one realized what had happened, and when the assassin suddenly
leaped from the box, with a blood-marked knife flashing in his right
hand, caught his foot in the flags and fell to his knees on the stage,
many thought it a part of the programme, and a boy, leaning over the
gallery rail, giggled. When Booth turned his face of statuesque beauty
lit by eyes flashing with insane desperation and cried, Sic semper
tyrannis, they were only confirmed in this impression.
A sudden, piercing scream from Mrs. Lincoln, quivering, soul
harrowing! Leaning far out of the box, from ashen cheeks and lips
leaped the piteous cry of appeal, her hand pointing to the retreating
The President is shot! He has killed the President!
Every heart stood still for one awful moment. The brain refused to
record the messageand then the storm burst!
A wild roar of helpless fury and despair! Men hurled themselves over
the footlights in vain pursuit of the assassin. Already the clatter of
his horse's feet could be heard in the distance. A surgeon threw
himself against the door of the box, but it had been barred within by
the cunning hand. Another leaped on the stage, and the people lifted
him up in their arms and over the fatal railing.
Women began to faint, and strong men trampled down the weak in mad
rushes from side to side.
The stage in a moment was a seething mass of crazed men, among them
the actors and actresses in costumes and painted faces, their mortal
terror shining through the rouge. They passed water up to the box, and
some tried to climb up and enter it.
The two hundred soldiers of the President's guard suddenly burst in,
and, amid screams and groans of the weak and injured, stormed the house
with fixed bayonets, cursing, yelling, and shouting at the top of their
Clear out! Clear out! You sons of hell!
One of them suddenly bore down with fixed bayonet toward Phil.
Margaret shrank in terror close to his side and tremblingly held his
Elsie sprang forward, her face aflame, her eyes flashing fire, her
little figure tense, erect, and quivering with rage:
How dare you, idiot, brute!
The soldier, brought to his senses, saw Phil in full captain's
uniform before him, and suddenly drew himself up, saluting. Phil
ordered him to guard Margaret and Elsie for a moment, drew his sword,
leaped between the crazed soldiers and their victims and stopped their
Within the box the great head lay in the surgeon's arms, the blood
slowly dripping down, and the tiny death bubbles forming on the kindly
lips. They carried him tenderly out, and another group bore after him
the unconscious wife. The people tore the seats from their fastenings
and heaped them in piles to make way for the precious burdens.
As Phil pressed forward with Margaret and Elsie through the open
door came the roar of the mob without, shouting its cries:
The President is shot!
Seward is murdered!
Where is Grant?
Where is Stanton?
To arms! To arms!
The peal of signal guns could now be heard, the roll of drums and
the hurried tramp of soldiers' feet. They marched none too soon. The
mob had attacked the stockade holding ten thousand unarmed Confederate
At the corner of the block in which the theatre stood they seized a
man who looked like a Southerner and hung him to the lamp-post. Two
heroic policemen fought their way to his side and rescued him.
If the temper of the people during the war had been convulsive, now
it was insanewith one mad impulse and one thoughtvengeance! Horror,
anger, terror, uncertainty, each passion fanned the one animal instinct
Through this awful night, with the lights still gleaming as if to
mock the celebration of victory, the crowds swayed in impotent rage
through the streets, while the telegraph bore on the wings of lightning
the awe-inspiring news. Men caught it from the wires, and stood in
silent groups weeping, and their wrath against the fallen South began
to rise as the moaning of the sea under a coming storm.
At dawn black clouds hung threatening on the eastern horizon. As the
sun rose, tingeing them for a moment with scarlet and purple glory,
Abraham Lincoln breathed his last.
Even grim Stanton, the iron-hearted, stood by his bedside and
through blinding tears exclaimed:
Now he belongs to the ages!
The deed was done. The wheel of things had moved. Vice-President
Johnson took the oath of office, and men hailed him Chief; but the seat
of Empire had moved from the White House to a little dark house on the
Capitol hill, where dwelt an old club-footed man, alone, attended by a
strange brown woman of sinister animal beauty and the restless eyes of
CHAPTER VII. THE FRENZY OF A NATION
Phil hurried through the excited crowds with Margaret and Elsie,
left them at the hospital door, and ran to the War Department to report
for duty. Already the tramp of regiments echoed down every great
Even as he ran, his heart beat with a strange new stroke when he
recalled the look of appeal in Margaret's dark eyes as she nestled
close to his side and clung to his arm for protection. He remembered
with a smile the almost resistless impulse of the moment to slip his
arm around her and assure her of safety. If he had only dared!
Elsie begged Mrs. Cameron and Margaret to go home with her until the
city was quiet.
No, said the mother. I am not afraid. Death has no terrors for me
any longer. We will not leave Ben a moment now, day or night. My soul
is sick with dread for what this awful tragedy will mean for the South!
I can't think of my own safety. Can any one undo this pardon now? she
I am sure they cannot. The name on that paper should be mightier
dead than living.
Ah, but will it be? Do you know Mr. Johnson? Can he control
Stanton? He seemed to be more powerful than the President himself. What
will that man do now with those who fall into his hands.
He can do nothing with your son, rest assured.
I wish I knew it, said the mother wistfully.
* * * * *
A few moments after the President died on Saturday morning, the rain
began to pour in torrents. The flags that flew from a thousand
gilt-tipped peaks in celebration of victory drooped to half-mast and
hung weeping around their staffs. The litter of burnt fireworks, limp
and crumbling, strewed the streets, and the tri-coloured lanterns and
balloons, hanging pathetically from their wires, began to fall to
Never in all the history of man had such a conjunction of events
befallen a nation. From the heights of heaven's rejoicing to be
suddenly hurled to the depths of hell in piteous helpless grief! Noon
to midnight without a moment between. A pall of voiceless horror spread
its shadows over the land. Nothing short of an earthquake or the sound
of the archangel's trumpet could have produced the sense of helpless
consternation, the black and speechless despair. The people read their
papers in tears. The morning meal was untouched. By no other single
feat could death have carried such peculiar horror to every home.
Around this giant figure the heartstrings of the people had been
unconsciously knit. Even his political enemies had come to love him.
Above all, in just this moment he was the incarnation of the
Triumphant Union on the altar of whose life every house had laid the
offering of its first-born. The tragedy was stupefyingit was
unthinkableit was the mockery of Fate!
Men walked the streets of the cities, dazed with the sense of blind
grief. Every note of music and rejoicing became a dirge. All business
ceased. Every wheel in every mill stopped. The roar of the great city
was hushed, and Greed for a moment forgot his cunning.
The army only moved with swifter spring, tightening its mighty grip
on the throat of the bleeding prostrate South.
As the day wore on its gloomy hours, and men began to find speech,
they spoke to each other at first in low tones of Fate, of Life, of
Death, of Immortality, of Godand then as grief found words the
measureless rage of baffled strength grew slowly to madness.
On every breeze from the North came the deep-muttered curses.
Easter Sunday dawned after the storm, clear and beautiful in a flood
of glorious sunshine. The churches were thronged as never in their
history. All had been decorated for the double celebration of Easter
and the triumph of the Union. The preachers had prepared sermons
pitched in the highest anthem key of victoryvictory over death and
the grave of Calvary, and victory for the Nation opening a future of
boundless glory. The churches were labyrinths of flowers, and around
every pulpit and from every Gothic arch hung the red, white, and blue
flags of the Republic.
And now, as if to mock this gorgeous pageant, Death had in the night
flung a black mantle over every flag and wound a strangling web of
crape round every Easter flower.
When the preachers faced the silent crowds before them, looking into
the faces of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and lovers whose dear
ones had been slain in battle or died in prison pens, the tide of grief
and rage rose and swept them from their feet! The Easter sermon was
laid aside. Fifty thousand Christian ministers, stunned and crazed by
insane passion, standing before the altars of God, hurled into the
broken hearts before them the wildest cries of vengeancecries
incoherent, chaotic, unreasoning, blind in their awful fury!
The pulpits of New York and Brooklyn led in the madness.
Next morning old Stoneman read his paper with a cold smile playing
about his big stern mouth, while his furrowed brow flushed with
triumph, as again and again he exclaimed: At last! At last!
Even Beecher, who had just spoken his generous words at Fort Sumter,
Never while time lasts, while heaven lasts, while hell rocks and
groans, will it be forgotten that Slavery, by its minions, slew him,
and slaying him made manifest its whole nature. A man cannot be bred in
its tainted air. I shall find saints in hell sooner than I shall find
true manhood under its accursed influences. The breeding-ground of such
monsters must be utterly and forever destroyed.
Dr. Stephen Tyng said:
The leaders of this rebellion deserve no pity from any human being.
Now let them go. Some other land must be their home. Their property is
justly forfeited to the Nation they have attempted to destroy!
In big black-faced type stood Dr. Charles S. Robinson's bitter
This is the earliest reply which chivalry makes to our forbearance.
Talk to me no more of the same race, of the same blood. He is no
brother of mine and of no race of mine who crowns the barbarism of
treason with the murder of an unarmed husband in the sight of his wife.
On the villains who led this rebellion let justice fall swift and
relentless. Death to every traitor of the South! Pursue them one by
one! Let every door be closed upon them and judgment follow swift and
implacable as death!
Dr. Theodore Cuyler exclaimed:
This is no time to talk of leniency and conciliation! I say before
God, make no terms with rebellion short of extinction. Booth wielding
the assassin's weapon is but the embodiment of the bowie-knife
barbarism of a slaveholding oligarchy.
Dr. J. P. Thompson said:
Blot every Southern State from the map. Strip every rebel of
property and citizenship, and send them into exile beggared and
Bishop Littlejohn, in his impassioned appeal, declared:
The deed is worthy of the Southern cause which was conceived in
sin, brought forth in iniquity, and consummated in crime. This
murderous hand is the same hand which lashed the slave's bared back,
struck down New England's senator for daring to speak, lifted the torch
of rebellion, slaughtered in cold blood its thousands, and starved our
helpless prisoners. Its end is not martyrdom, but dishonour.
Bishop Simpson said:
Let every man who was a member of Congress and aided this rebellion
be brought to speedy punishment. Let every officer educated at public
expense, who turned his sword against his country, be doomed to a
With the last note of this wild music lingering in the old
Commoner's soul, he sat as if dreaming, laughed cynically, turned to
the brown woman and said:
My speeches have not been lost after all. Prepare dinner for six.
My cabinet will meet here to-night.
While the press was reëchoing these sermons, gathering strength as
they were caught and repeated in every town, village, and hamlet in the
North, the funeral procession started westward. It passed in grandeur
through the great cities on its journey of one thousand six hundred
miles to the tomb. By day, by night, by dawn, by sunlight, by twilight,
and lit by solemn torches, millions of silent men and women looked on
his dead face. Around the person of this tall, lonely man, rugged, yet
full of sombre dignity and spiritual beauty, the thoughts, hopes,
dreams, and ideals of the people had gathered in four years of agony
and death, until they had come to feel their own hearts beat in his
breast and their own life throb in his life. The assassin's bullet had
crashed into their own brains, and torn their souls and bodies asunder.
The masses were swept from their moorings, and reason destroyed. All
historic perspective was lost. Our first assassination, there was no
precedent for comparison. It had been over two hundred years in the
world's history since the last murder of a great ruler, when William of
On the day set for the public funeral twenty million people bowed at
the same hour.
When the procession reached New York the streets were lined with a
million people. Not a sound could be heard save the tramp of soldiers'
feet and the muffled cry of the dirge. Though on every foot of earth
stood a human being, the silence of the desert and of death! The
Nation's living heroes rode in that procession, and passed without a
sign from the people.
Four years ago he drove down Broadway as President-elect, unnoticed
and with soldiers in disguise attending him lest the mob should stone
To-day, at the mention of his name in the churches, the preachers'
voices in prayer wavered and broke into silence while strong men among
the crowd burst into sobs. Flags flew at half-mast from their steeples,
and their bells tolled in grief.
Every house that flew but yesterday its banner of victory was
shrouded in mourning. The flags and pennants of a thousand ships in the
harbour drooped at half-mast, and from every staff in the city streamed
across the sky the black mists of crape like strange meteors in the
For three days every theatre, school, court, bank, shop, and mill
And with muttered curses men looked Southward.
Across Broadway the cortège passed under a huge transparency on
which appeared the words:
A Nation bowed in grief
Will rise in might to exterminate
The leaders of this accursed Rebellion.
Farther along swung the black-draped banner:
Justice to Traitors
Mercy to the People.
Another flapped its grim message:
The Barbarism of Slavery.
Can Barbarism go Further?
Across the Ninth Regiment Armoury, in gigantic letters, were the
Time for Weeping
But Vengeance is not Sleeping!
When the procession reached Buffalo, the house of Millard Fillmore
was mobbed because the ex-President, stricken on a bed of illness, had
neglected to drape his house in mourning. The procession passed to
Springfield through miles of bowed heads dumb with grief. The plough
stopped in the furrow, the smith dropped his hammer, the carpenter his
plane, the merchant closed his door, the clink of coin ceased, and over
all hung brooding silence with low-muttered curses, fierce and
No man who walked the earth ever passed to his tomb through such a
storm of human tears. The pageants of Alexander, Cæsar, and Wellington
were tinsel to this. Nor did the spirit of Napoleon, the Corsican
Lieutenant of Artillery who once presided over a congress of kings whom
he had conquered, look down on its like even in France.
And now that its pomp was done and its memory but bitterness and
ashes, but one man knew exactly what he wanted and what he meant to do.
Others were stunned by the blow. But the cold eyes of the Great
Commoner, leader of leaders, sparkled, and his grim lips smiled. From
him not a word of praise or fawning sorrow for the dead. Whatever he
might be, he was not a liar: when he hated, he hated.
The drooping flags, the city's black shrouds, processions, torches,
silent seas of faces and bared heads, the dirges and the bells, the
dim-lit churches, wailing organs, fierce invectives from the altar, and
the perfume of flowers piled in heaps by silent heartsto all these
was he heir.
And morethe fierce unwritten, unspoken, and unspeakable horrors of
the war itself, its passions, its cruelties, its hideous crimes and
sufferings, the wailing of its women, the graves of its menall these
now were his.
The new President bowed to the storm. In one breath he promised to
fulfil the plans of Lincoln. In the next he, too, breathed threats of
The edict went forth for the arrest of General Lee.
Would Grant, the Commanding General of the Army, dare protest? There
were those who said that if Lee were arrested and Grant's plighted word
at Appomattox smirched, the silent soldier would not only protest, but
draw his sword, if need be, to defend his honour and the honour of the
Nation. Yetwould he dare? It remained to be seen.
The jails were now packed with Southern men, taken unarmed from
their homes. The old Capitol Prison was full, and every cell of every
grated building in the city, and they were filling the rooms of the
Margaret, hurrying from the market in the early morning with her
flowers, was startled to find her mother bowed in anguish over a
paragraph in the morning paper.
She rose and handed it to the daughter, who read:
Dr. Richard Cameron, of South Carolina, arrived in Washington and
placed in jail last night, charged with complicity in the murder
President Lincoln. It was discovered that Jeff Davis spent the
at his home in Piedmont, under the pretence of needing medical
attention. Beyond all doubt, Booth, the assassin, merely acted
orders from the Arch Traitor. May the gallows have a rich and
Margaret tremblingly wound her arms around her mother's neck. No
words broke the pitiful silenceonly blinding tears and broken sobs.
Book IIThe Revolution
CHAPTER I. THE FIRST LADY OF THE LAND
The little house on the Capitol hill now became the centre of
fevered activity. This house, selected by its grim master to become the
executive mansion of the Nation, was perhaps the most modest structure
ever chosen for such high uses.
It stood, a small, two-story brick building, in an unpretentious
street. Seven windows opened on the front with black solid-panelled
shutters. The front parlour was scantily furnished. A huge mirror
covered one wall, and on the other hung a life-size oil portrait of
Stoneman, and between the windows were a portrait of Washington Irving
and a picture of a nun. Among his many charities he had always given
liberally to an orphanage conducted by a Roman Catholic sisterhood.
The back parlour, whose single window looked out on a small garden,
he had fitted up as a library, with leather-upholstered furniture, a
large desk and table, and scattered on the mantel and about its walls
were the photographs of his personal friends and a few costly prints.
This room he used as his executive office, and no person was allowed to
enter it without first stating his business or presenting a petition to
the tawny brown woman with restless eyes who sat in state in the front
parlour and received his visitors. The books in their cases gave
evidence of little use for many years, although their character
indicated the tastes of a man of culture. His Pliny, Cæsar, Cicero,
Tacitus, Sophocles, and Homer had evidently been read by a man who knew
their beauties and loved them for their own sake.
This house was now the Mecca of the party in power and the
storm-centre of the forces destined to shape the Nation's life.
Senators, representatives, politicians of low and high degree, artists,
correspondents, foreign ministers, and cabinet officers hurried to
acknowledge their fealty to the uncrowned king, and hail the strange
brown woman who held the keys of his house as the first lady of the
When Charles Sumner called, a curious thing happened. By a code
agreed on between them, Lydia Brown touched an electric signal which
informed the old Commoner of his appearance. Stoneman hobbled to the
folding-doors and watched through the slight opening the manner in
which the icy senator greeted the negress whom he was compelled to meet
thus as his social equal, though she was always particular to pose as
the superior of all who bowed the knee to the old man whose house she
Sumner at this time was supposed to be the most powerful man in
Congress. It was a harmless fiction which pleased him, and at which
Stoneman loved to laugh.
The senator from Massachusetts had just made a speech in Boston
expounding the Equality of Man, yet he could not endure personal
contact with a negro. He would go secretly miles out of the way to
Stoneman watched him slowly and daintily approach this negress and
touch her jewelled hand gingerly with the tips of his classic fingers
as if she were a toad. Convulsed, he scrambled back to his desk and
hugged himself while he listened to the flow of Lydia's condescending
patronage in the next room.
This world's too good a thing to lose! he chuckled. I think I'll
When Sumner left, the hour for dinner had arrived, and by special
invitation two men dined with him.
On his right sat an army officer who had been dismissed from the
service, a victim of the mania for gambling. His ruddy face, iron-gray
hair, and jovial mien indicated that he enjoyed life in spite of
There were no clubs in Washington at this time except the regular
gambling-houses, of which there were more than one hundred in full
Stoneman was himself a gambler, and spent a part of almost every
night at Hall &Pemberton's Faro Palace on Pennsylvania Avenue, a place
noted for its famous restaurant. It was here that he met Colonel Howle
and learned to like him. He was a man of talent, cool and audacious,
and a liar of such singular fluency that he quite captivated the old
Upon my soul, Howle, he declared soon after they met, you made
the mistake of your life going into the army. You're a born politician.
You're what I call a natural liar, just as a horse is a pacer, a dog a
setter. You lie without effort, with an ease and grace that excels all
art. Had you gone into politics, you could easily have been Secretary
of State, to say nothing of the vice-presidency. I would say President
but for the fact that men of the highest genius never attain it.
From that moment Colonel Howle had become his charmed henchman.
Stoneman owned this man body and soul, not merely because he had
befriended him when he was in trouble and friendless, but because the
colonel recognized the power of the leader's daring spirit and
On his left sat a negro of perhaps forty years, a man of charming
features for a mulatto, who had evidently inherited the full physical
characteristics of the Aryan race, while his dark yellowish eyes
beneath his heavy brows glowed with the brightness of the African
jungle. It was impossible to look at his superb face, with its large,
finely chiselled lips and massive nose, his big neck and broad
shoulders, and watch his eyes gleam beneath the projecting forehead,
without seeing pictures of the primeval forest. The head of a Cæsar
and the eyes of the jungle was the phrase coined by an artist who
painted his portrait.
His hair was black and glossy and stood in dishevelled profusion on
his head between a kink and a curl. He was an orator of great power,
and stirred a negro audience as by magic.
Lydia Brown had called Stoneman's attention to this man, Silas
Lynch, and induced the statesman to send him to college. He had
graduated with credit and had entered the Methodist ministry. In his
preaching to the freedmen he had already become a marked man. No house
could hold his audiences.
As he stepped briskly into the dining-room and passed the brown
woman, a close observer might have seen him suddenly press her hand and
caught her sly answering smile, but the old man waiting at the head of
the table saw nothing.
The woman took her seat opposite Stoneman and presided over this
curious group with the easy assurance of conscious power. Whatever her
real position, she knew how to play the role she had chosen to assume.
No more curious or sinister figure ever cast a shadow across the
history of a great nation than did this mulatto woman in the most
corrupt hour of American life. The grim old man who looked into her
sleek tawny face and followed her catlike eyes was steadily gripping
the Nation by the throat. Did he aim to make this woman the arbiter of
its social life, and her ethics the limit of its moral laws?
Even the white satellite who sat opposite Lynch flushed for a moment
as the thought flashed through his brain.
The old cynic, who alone knew his real purpose, was in his most
genial mood to-night, and the grim lines of his powerful face relaxed
into something like a smile as they ate and chatted and told good
Lynch watched him with keen interest. He knew his history and
character, and had built on his genius a brilliant scheme of life.
This man who meant to become the dictator of the Republic had come
from the humblest early conditions. His father was a worthless
character, from whom he had learned the trade of a shoemaker, but his
mother, a woman of vigorous intellect and indomitable will, had
succeeded in giving her lame boy a college education. He had early
sworn to be a man of wealth, and to this purpose he had throttled the
dreams and ideals of a wayward imagination.
His hope of great wealth had not been realized. His iron mills in
Pennsylvania had been destroyed by Lee's army. He had developed the
habit of gambling, which brought its train of extravagant habits,
tastes, and inevitable debts. In his vigorous manhood, in spite of his
lameness, he had kept a pack of hounds and a stable of fine horses. He
had used his skill in shoemaking to construct a set of stirrups to fit
his lame feet, and had become an expert hunter to hounds.
One thing he never neglectedto be in his seat in the House of
Representatives and wear its royal crown of leadership, sick or well,
day or night. The love of power was the breath of his nostrils, and his
ambitions had at one time been boundless. His enormous power to-day was
due to the fact that he had given up all hope of office beyond the
robes of the king of his party. He had been offered a cabinet position
by the elder Harrison and for some reason it had been withdrawn. He had
been promised a place in Lincoln's cabinet, but some mysterious power
had snatched it away. He was the one great man who had now no ambition
for which to trim and fawn and lie, and for the very reason that he had
abolished himself he was the most powerful leader who ever walked the
halls of Congress.
His contempt for public opinion was boundless. Bold, original,
scornful of advice, of all the men who ever lived in our history he was
the one man born to rule in the chaos which followed the assassination
of the chief magistrate.
Audacity was stamped in every line of his magnificent head. His
choicest curses were for the cowards of his own party before whose
blanched faces he shouted out the hidden things until they sank back in
helpless silence and dismay. His speech was curt, his humour sardonic,
his wit biting, cruel, and coarse.
The incarnate soul of revolution, he despised convention and
There was but one weak spot in his armourand the world never
suspected it: the consuming passion with which he loved his two
children. This was the side of his nature he had hidden from the eyes
of man. A refined egotism, this passion, perhapsfor he meant to live
his own life over in themyet it was the one utterly human and lovable
thing about him. And if his public policy was one of stupendous
avarice, this dream of millions of confiscated wealth he meant to
seize, it was not for himself but for his children.
As he looked at Howle and Lynch seated in his library after dinner,
with his great plans seething in his brain, his eyes were flashing,
intense, and fiery, yet without coloursimply two centres of cold
Gentlemen, he said at length. I am going to ask you to undertake
for the Government, the Nation, and yourselves a dangerous and
important mission. I say yourselves, because, in spite of all our
beautiful lies, self is the centre of all human action. Mr. Lincoln has
fortunately gone to his rewardfortunately for him and for his
country. His death was necessary to save his life. He was a useful man
living, more useful dead. Our party has lost its first President, but
gained a godwhy mourn?
We will recover from our grief, said Howle.
The old man went on, ignoring the interruption:
Things have somehow come my way. I am almost persuaded late in life
that the gods love me. The insane fury of the North against the South
for a crime which they were the last people on earth to dream of
committing is, of course, a power to be usedbut with caution. The
first execution of a Southern leader on such an idiotic charge would
produce a revolution of sentiment. The people are an aggregation of
I thought you favoured the execution of the leaders of the
rebellion? said Lynch with surprise.
I did, but it is too late. Had they been tried by drum-head
court-martial and shot dead red-handed as they stood on the field in
their uniforms, all would have been well. Now sentiment is too strong.
Grant showed his teeth to Stanton and he backed down from Lee's arrest.
Sherman refused to shake hands with Stanton on the grandstand the day
his army passed in review, and it's a wonder he didn't knock him down.
Sherman was denounced as a renegade and traitor for giving Joseph E.
Johnston the terms Lincoln ordered him to give. Lincoln dead, his terms
are treason! Yet had he lived, we should have been called upon to
applaud his mercy and patriotism. How can a man live in this world and
keep his face straight?
I believe God permitted Mr. Lincoln's death to give the great
Commoner, the Leader of Leaders, the right of way, cried Lynch with
The old man smiled. With all his fierce spirit he was as susceptible
to flattery as a womanfar more so than the sleek brown woman who
carried the keys of his house.
The man at the other end of the avenue, who pretends to be
President, in reality an alien of the conquered province of Tennessee,
is pressing Lincoln's plan of 'restoring' the Union. He has organized
State governments in the South, and their senators and representatives
will appear at the Capitol in December for admission to Congress. He
thinks they will enter
The old man broke into a low laugh and rubbed his hands.
My full plans are not for discussion at this juncture. Suffice it
to say, I mean to secure the future of our party and the safety of this
nation. The one thing on which the success of my plan absolutely
depends is the confiscation of the millions of acres of land owned by
the white people of the South and its division among the negroes and
those who fought and suffered in this war
The old Commoner paused, pursed his lips, and fumbled his hands a
moment, the nostrils of his eagle-beaked nose breathing rapacity,
sensuality throbbing in his massive jaws, and despotism frowning from
his heavy brows.
Stanton will probably add to the hilarity of nations, and amuse
himself by hanging a few rebels, he went on, but we will address
ourselves to serious work. All men have their price, including the
present company, with due apologies to the speaker
Howle's eyes danced, and he licked his lips.
If I haven't suffered in this war, who has?
Your reward will not be in accordance with your sufferings. It will
be based on the efficiency with which you obey my orders. Read
He handed to him a piece of paper on which he had scrawled his
Another he gave to Lynch.
Hand them back to me when you read them, and I will burn them.
These instructions are not to pass the lips of any man until the time
is ripefour bare walls are not to hear them whispered.
Both men handed to the leader the slips of paper simultaneously.
Are we agreed, gentlemen?
Perfectly, answered Howle.
Your word is law to me, sir, said Lynch.
Then you will draw on me personally for your expenses, and leave
for the South within forty-eight hours. I wish your reports delivered
to me two weeks before the meeting of Congress.
As Lynch passed through the hall on his way to the door, the brown
woman bade him good-night and pressed into his hand a letter.
As his yellow fingers closed on the missive, his eyes flashed for a
moment with catlike humour.
The woman's face wore the mask of a sphinx.
CHAPTER II. SWEETHEARTS
When the first shock of horror at her husband's peril passed, it
left a strange new light in Mrs. Cameron's eyes.
The heritage of centuries of heroic blood from the martyrs of old
Scotland began to flash its inspiration from the past. Her heart beat
with the unconscious life of men and women who had stood in the stocks,
and walked in chains to the stake with songs on their lips.
The threat against the life of Doctor Cameron had not only stirred
her martyr blood: it had roused the latent heroism of a beautiful
girlhood. To her he had ever been the lover and the undimmed hero of
her girlish dreams. She spent whole hours locked in her room alone.
Margaret knew that she was on her knees. She always came forth with
shining face and with soft words on her lips.
She struggled for two months in vain efforts to obtain a single
interview with him, or to obtain a copy of the charges. Doctor Cameron
had been placed in the old Capitol Prison, already crowded to the
utmost. He was in delicate health, and so ill when she had left home he
could not accompany her to Richmond.
Not a written or spoken word was allowed to pass those prison doors.
She could communicate with him only through the officers in charge.
Every message from him was the same. I love you always. Do not worry.
Go home the moment you can leave Ben. I fear the worst at Piedmont.
When he had sent this message, he would sit down and write the truth
in a little diary he kept:
Another day of anguish. How long, O Lord? Just one touch of her
hand, one last pressure of her lips, and I am content. I have no desire
to liveI am tired.
The officers repeated the verbal messages, but they made no
impression on Mrs. Cameron. By a mental telepathy which had always
linked her life with his her soul had passed those prison bars. If he
had written the pitiful record with a dagger's point on her heart, she
could not have felt it more keenly.
At times overwhelmed, she lay prostrate and sobbed in
half-articulate cries. And then from the silence and mystery of the
spirit world in which she felt the beat of the heart of Eternal Love
would come again the strange peace that passeth understanding. She
would rise and go forth to her task with a smile.
In July she saw Mrs. Surratt taken from this old Capitol Prison to
be hung with Payne, Herold, and Atzerodt for complicity in the
assassination. The military commission before whom this farce of
justice was enacted, suspicious of the testimony of the perjured
wretches who had sworn her life away, had filed a memorandum with their
verdict asking the President for mercy.
President Johnson never saw this memorandum. It was secretly removed
in the War Department, and only replaced after he had signed the death
In vain Annie Surratt, the weeping daughter, flung herself on the
steps of the White House on the fatal day, begging and praying to see
the President. She could not believe they would allow her mother to be
murdered in the face of a recommendation of mercy. The fatal hour
struck at last, and the girl left the White House with set eyes and
blanched face, muttering incoherent curses.
The Chief Magistrate sat within, unconscious of the hideous tragedy
that was being enacted in his name. When he discovered the infamy by
which he had been made the executioner of an innocent woman, he made
his first demand that Edwin M. Stanton resign from his cabinet as
Secretary of War. And for the first time in the history of America, a
cabinet officer waived the question of honour and refused to resign.
With a shudder and blush of shame, strong men saw that day the
executioner gather the ropes tightly three times around the dress of an
innocent American mother and bind her ankles with cords. She fainted
and sank backward upon the attendants, the poor limbs yielding at last
to the mortal terror of death. But they propped her up and sprung the
A feeling of uncertainty and horror crept over the city and the
Nation, as rumours of the strange doings of the Bureau of Military
Justice, with its secret factory of testimony and powers of tampering
with verdicts, began to find their way in whispered stories among the
Public opinion, however, had as yet no power of adjustment. It was
an hour of lapse to tribal insanity. Things had gone wrong. The demand
for a scapegoat, blind, savage, and unreasoning, had not spent itself.
The Government could do anything as yet, and the people would applaud.
Mrs. Cameron had tried in vain to gain a hearing before the
President. Each time she was directed to apply to Mr. Stanton. She
refused to attempt to see him, and again turned to Elsie for help. She
had learned that the same witnesses who had testified against Mrs.
Surratt were being used to convict Doctor Cameron, and her heart was
sick with fear.
Ask your father, she pleaded, to write President Johnson a letter
in my behalf. Whatever his politics, he can't be your father and
not be good at heart.
Elsie paled for a moment. It was the one request she had dreaded.
She thought of her father and Stanton with dread. How far he was
supporting the Secretary of War she could only vaguely guess. He rarely
spoke of politics to her, much as he loved her.
I'll try, Mrs. Cameron, she faltered. My father is in town to-day
and takes dinner with us before he leaves for Pennsylvania to-night.
I'll go at once.
With fear, and yet boldly, she went straight home to present her
request. She knew he was a man who never cherished small resentments,
however cruel and implacable might be his public policies. And yet she
dreaded to put it to the test.
Father, I've a very important request to make of you, she said
Very well, my child, you need not be so solemn. What is it?
I've some friends in great distressMrs. Cameron, of South
Carolina, and her daughter Margaret.
Friends of yours? he asked with an incredulous smile. Where on
earth did you find them?
In the hospital, of course. Mrs. Cameron is not allowed to see her
husband, who has been here in jail for over two months. He cannot write
to her, nor can he receive a letter from her. He is on trial for his
life, is ill and helpless, and is not allowed to know the charges
against him, while hired witnesses and detectives have broken open his
house, searched his papers, and are ransacking heaven and earth to
convict him of a crime of which he never dreamed. It's a shame. You
don't approve of such things, I know?
What's the use of my expressing an opinion when you have already
settled it? he answered good-humouredly.
You don't approve of such injustice?
Certainly not, my child. Stanton's frantic efforts to hang a lot of
prominent Southern men for complicity in Booth's crime is sheer
insanity. Nobody who has any sense believes them guilty. As a
politician I use popular clamour for my purposes, but I am not an
idiot. When I go gunning, I never use a popgun or hunt small game.
Then you will write the President a letter asking that they be
allowed to see Doctor Cameron?
The old man frowned.
Think, father, if you were in jail and friendless, and I were
trying to see you
Tut, tut, my dear, it's not that I am unwillingI was only
thinking of the unconscious humour of my making a request of the
man who at present accidentally occupies the White House. Of all the
men on earth, this alien from the province of Tennessee! But I'll do it
for you. When did you ever know me to deny my help to a weak man or
woman in distress?
Never, father. I was sure you would do it, she answered warmly.
He wrote the letter at once and handed it to her.
She bent and kissed him.
I can't tell you how glad I am to know that you have no part in
You should not have believed me such a fool, but I'll forgive you
for the kiss. Run now with this letter to your rebel friends, you
little traitor! Wait a minute
He shuffled to his feet, placed his hand tenderly on her head, and
stooped and kissed the shining hair.
I wonder if you know how I love you? How I've dreamed of your
future? I may not see you every day as I wish; I'm absorbed in great
affairs. But more and more I think of you and Phil. I'll have a big
surprise for you both some day.
Your love is all I ask, she answered simply.
Within an hour, Mrs. Cameron found herself before the new President.
The letter had opened the door as by magic. She poured out her story
with impetuous eloquence while Mr. Johnson listened in uneasy silence.
His ruddy face, his hesitating manner, and restless eyes were in
striking contrast to the conscious power of the tall dark man who had
listened so tenderly and sympathetically to her story of Ben but a few
The President asked:
Have you seen Mr. Stanton?
I have seen him once, she cried with sudden passion. It is
enough. If that man were God on His throne, I would swear allegiance to
the devil and fight him!
The President lifted his eyebrows and his lips twitched with a
I shouldn't say that your spirits are exactly drooping! I'd like to
be near and hear you make that remark to the distinguished Secretary of
Will you grant my prayer? she pleaded.
I will consider the matter, he promised evasively.
Mrs. Cameron's heart sank.
Mr. President, she cried bitterly, I have felt sure that I had
but to see you face to face and you could not deny me. Surely it is but
justice that he have the right to see his loved ones, to consult with
counsel, to know the charges against him, and defend his life when
attacked in his poverty and ruin by all the power of a mighty
government? He is feeble and broken in health and suffering from wounds
received carrying the flag of the Union to victory in Mexico. Whatever
his errors of judgment in this war, it is a shame that a Nation for
which he once bared his breast in battle should treat him as an outlaw
without a trial.
You must remember, madam, interrupted the President, that these
are extraordinary times, and that popular clamour, however unjust, will
make itself felt and must be heeded by those in power. I am sorry for
you, and I trust it may be possible for me to grant your request.
But I wish it now, she urged. He sends me word I must go home. I
can't leave without seeing him. I will die first.
She drew closer and continued in throbbing tones:
Mr. President, you are a native Carolinianyou are of Scotch
Covenanter blood. You are of my own people of the great past, whose
tears and sufferings are our common glory and birthright. Come, you
must hear meI will take no denial. Give me now the order to see my
The President hesitated, struggling with deep emotion, called his
secretary, and gave the order.
As she hurried away with Elsie, who insisted on accompanying her to
the jail door, the girl said:
Mrs. Cameron, I fear you are without money. You must let me help
you until you can return it.
You are the dearest little heart I've met in all the world, I think
sometimes, said the older woman, looking at her tenderly. I wonder
how I can ever pay you for half you've done already.
The doing of it has been its own reward, was the soft reply. May
I help you?
If I need it, yes. But I trust it will not be necessary. I still
have a little store of gold Doctor Cameron was wise enough to hoard
during the war. I brought half of it with me when I left home, and we
buried the rest. I hope to find it on my return. And if we can save the
twenty bales of cotton we have hidden we shall be relieved of want.
I'm ashamed of my country when I think of such ignoble methods as
have been used against Doctor Cameron. My father is indignant, too.
The last sentence Elsie spoke with eager girlish pride.
I am very grateful to your father for his letter. I am sorry he has
left the city before I could meet and thank him personally. You must
tell him for me.
At the jail the order of the President was not honoured for three
hours, and Mrs. Cameron paced the street in angry impatience at first
and then in dull despair.
Do you think that man Stanton would dare defy the President? she
No, said Elsie, but he is delaying as long as possible as an act
of petty tyranny.
At last the messenger arrived from the War Department permitting an
order of the Chief Magistrate of the nation, the Commander-in-Chief of
its Army and Navy, to be executed.
The grated door swung on its heavy hinges, and the wife and mother
lay sobbing in the arms of the lover of her youth.
For two hours they poured into each other's hearts the story of
their sorrows and struggles during the six fateful months that had
passed. When she would return from every theme back to his danger, he
would laugh her fears to scorn.
Nonsense, my dear, I'm as innocent as a babe. Mr. Davis was
suffering from erysipelas, and I kept him in my house that night to
relieve his pain. It will all blow over. I'm happy now that I have seen
you. Ben will be up in a few days. You must return at once. You have no
idea of the wild chaos at home. I left Jake in charge. I have implicit
faith in him, but there's no telling what may happen. I will not spend
another moment in peace until you go.
The proud old man spoke of his own danger with easy assurance. He
was absolutely certain, since the day of Mrs. Surratt's execution, that
he would be railroaded to the gallows by the same methods. He had long
looked on the end with indifference, and had ceased to desire to live
except to see his loved ones again.
In vain she warned him of danger.
My peril is nothing, my love, he answered quietly. At home, the
horrors of a servile reign of terror have become a reality. These
prison walls do not interest me. My heart is with our stricken people.
You must go home. Our neighbour, Mr. Lenoir, is slowly dying. His wife
will always be a child. Little Marion is older and more self-reliant. I
feel as if they are our own children. There are so many who need us.
They have always looked to me for guidance and help. You can do more
for them than any one else. My calling is to heal others. You have
always helped me. Do now as I ask you.
At last she consented to leave for Piedmont on the following day,
and he smiled.
Kiss Ben and Margaret for me and tell them that I'll be with them
soon, he said cheerily. He meant in the spirit, not the flesh. Not the
faintest hope of life even flickered in his mind.
In the last farewell embrace a faint tremor of the soul, half sigh,
half groan, escaped his lips, and he drew her again to his breast,
Always my sweetheart, good, beautiful, brave, and true!
CHAPTER III. THE JOY OF LIVING
Within two weeks after the departure of Mrs. Cameron and Margaret,
the wounded soldier had left the hospital with Elsie's hand resting on
his arm and her keen eyes watching his faltering steps. She had
promised Margaret to take her place until he was strong again. She was
afraid to ask herself the meaning of the songs that were welling up
from the depth of her own soul. She told herself again and again that
she was fulfilling her ideal of unselfish human service.
Ben's recovery was rapid, and he soon began to give evidence of his
boundless joy in the mere fact of life.
He utterly refused to believe his father in danger.
What, my dad a conspirator, an assassin! he cried, with a laugh.
Why, he wouldn't kill a flea without apologising to it. And as for
plots and dark secrets, he never had a secret in his life and couldn't
keep one if he had it. My mother keeps all the family secrets. Crime
couldn't stick to him any more than dirty water to a duck's back!
But we must secure his release on parole, that he may defend
Of course. But we won't cross any bridges till we come to them. I
never saw things so bad they couldn't be worse. Just think what I've
been through. The war's over. Don't worry.
He looked at her tenderly.
Get that banjo and play 'Get out of the Wilderness!'
His spirit was contagious and his good humour resistless. Elsie
spent the days of his convalescence in an unconscious glow of pleasure
in his companionship. His handsome boyish face, his bearing, his whole
personality, invited frankness and intimacy. It was a divine gift, this
magnetism, the subtle meeting of quick intelligence, tact, and
sympathy. His voice was tender and penetrating, with soft caresses in
its tones. His vision of life was large and generous, with a splendid
carelessness about little things that didn't count. Each day Elsie saw
new and striking traits of his character which drew her.
What will we do if Stanton arrests you one of these fine days? she
asked him one day.
Afraid they'll nab me for something? he exclaimed. Well, that is
a joke. Don't you worry. The Yankees know who to fool with. I licked
'em too many times for them to bother me any more.
I was under the impression that you got licked, Elsie observed.
Don't you believe it. We wore ourselves out whipping the other
Elsie smiled, took up the banjo, and asked him to sing while she
She had no idea that he could sing, yet to her surprise he sang his
camp songs boldly, tenderly, and with deep, expressive feeling.
As the girl listened, the memory of the horrible hours of suspense
she had spent with his mother when his unconscious life hung on a
thread came trooping back into her heart and a tear dimmed her eyes.
And he began to look at her with a new wonder and joy slowly growing
in his soul.
CHAPTER IV. HIDDEN TREASURE
Ben had spent a month of vain effort to secure his father's release.
He had succeeded in obtaining for him a removal to more comfortable
quarters, books to read, and the privilege of a daily walk under guard
and parole. The doctor's genial temper, the wide range of his
knowledge, the charm of his personality, and his heroism in suffering
had captivated the surgeons who attended him and made friends of every
jailer and guard.
Elsie was now using all her woman's wit to secure a copy of the
charges against him as formulated by the Judge Advocate General, who,
in defiance of civil law, still claimed control of these cases.
To the boy's sanguine temperament the whole proceeding had been a
huge farce from the beginning, and at the last interview with his
father he had literally laughed him into good humour.
Look here, pa, he cried. I believe you're trying to slip off and
leave us in this mess. It's not fair. It's easy to die.
Who said I was going to die?
I heard you were trying to crawl out that way.
Well, it's a mistake. I'm going to live just for the fun of
disappointing my enemies and to keep you company. But you'd better get
hold of a copy of these charges against meif you don't want me to
It's a funny world if a man can be condemned to death without any
information on the subject.
My son, we are now in the hands of the revolutionists, army
sutlers, contractors, and adventurers. The Nation will touch the lowest
tide-mud of its degradation within the next few years. No man can
predict the end.
Oh, go 'long! said Ben. You've got jail cobwebs in your eyes.
I'm depending on you.
I'll pull you through if you don't lie down on me and die to get
out of trouble. You know you can die if you try hard enough.
I promise you, my boy, he said with a laugh.
Then I'll let you read this letter from home, Ben said, suddenly
thrusting it before him.
The doctor's hand trembled a little as he put on his glasses and
My Dear Boy: I cannot tell you how much good your bright
have done us. It's like opening the window and letting in the
while fresh breezes blow through one's soul.
Margaret and I have had stirring times. I send you enclosed an
for the last dollar of money we have left. You must hoard it.
last until your father is safe at home. I dare not leave it here.
Nothing is safe. Every piece of silver and everything that could
carried has been stolen since we returned.
Uncle Aleck betrayed the place Jake had hidden our twenty precious
bales of cotton. The war is long since over, but the Treasury
declared them confiscated, and then offered to relieve us of his
if we gave him five bales, each worth three hundred dollars in
agreed, and within a week another thief came and declared the
fifteen bales confiscated. They steal it, and the Government
gets a cent. We dared not try to sell it in open market, as every
exposed for sale is confiscated at once.
No crop was planted this summer. The negroes are all drawing
at the Freedman's Bureau.
We have turned our house into a hotel, and our table has become
famous. Margaret is a treasure. She has learned to do everything.
tried to raise a crop on the farm when we came home, but the
stopped work. The Agent of the Bureau came to us and said he
send them back for a fee of $50. We paid it, and they worked a
We found it easier to run a hotel. We hope to start the farm next
Our new minister at the Presbyterian Church is young, handsome,
eloquentRev. Hugh McAlpin.
Mr. Lenoir died last weekbut his end was so beautiful, our tears
were half joy. He talked incessantly of your father and how the
country missed him. He seemed much better the day before the end
and we took him for a little drive to Lovers' Leap. It was there,
sixteen years ago, he made love to Jeannie. When we propped him
the rustic seat, and he looked out over the cliff and the river
I have never seen a face so transfigured with peace and joy.
What a beautiful world it is, my dears! he exclaimed, taking
and Marion both by the hand.
They began to cry, and he said with a smile:
Come nowdo you love me?
And they covered his hands with kisses.
Well, then you must promise me two things faithfully here, with
Cameron to witness!
We promise, they both said in a breath.
That when I fall asleep, not one thread of black shall ever cloud
sunlight of our little home, that you will never wear it, and
will show your love for me by making my flowers grow richer, that
will keep my memory green by always being as beautiful as you are
to-day, and make this old world a sweeter place to live in. I
you, Jeannie, my mate, to keep on making the young people glad.
let their joys be less even for a month because I have laid down
rest. Let them sing and dance
Oh, Papa! cried Marion.
Certainly, my little serious beautyI'll not be far away, I'll
near and breathe my songs into their hearts, and into yoursyou
Yes, yes! they both cried.
As we drove back through the woods, he smiled tenderly and said to
My neighbour, Doctor Cameron, pays taxes on these woods, but I
them! Their sighing boughs, stirred by the breezes, have played
oratorios grander than all the scores of human genius. I'll hear
Choir Invisible play them when I sleep.
He died that night suddenly. With his last breath he sighed:
Draw the curtains and let me see again the moonlit woods!
They are trying to carry out his wishes. I found they had nothing
eat, and that he had really died from insufficient nourishmenta
polite expression meaning starvation. I've divided half our
store with them and send the rest to you. I think Marion more and
the incarnate soul of her father. I feel as if they are both my
My little grandchick, Hugh, is the sweetest youngster alive. He
wee thing when you left. Mrs. Lenoir kept him when they arrested
father. He is so much like your brother Hugh I feel as if he has
to life again. You should hear him say grace, so solemnly and
tenderly, we can't help crying. He made it up himself. This is
says at every meal:
God, please give my grandpa something good to eat in jail, keep
well, don't let the pains hurt him any more, and bring him home
quick, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
I never knew before how the people loved the doctor, nor how
they were on him for help and guidance. Men, both white and
come here every day to ask about him. Some of them come from far
God alone knows how lonely our home and the world has seemed
him. They say that those who love and live the close sweet home
for years grow alike in soul and body, in tastes, ways, and
find it so. People have told me that your father and I are more
than brother and sister of the same blood. In spirit I'm sure
true. I know you love him and that you will leave nothing undone
his health and safety. Tell him that my only cure for loneliness
his absence is my fight to keep the wolf from the door, and save
home against his coming.
Lovingly, your Mother.
When the doctor had finished the reading, he looked out the window
of the jail at the shining dome of the Capitol for a moment in silence.
Do you know, my boy, that you have the heritage of royal blood? You
are the child of a wonderful mother. I'm ashamed when I think of the
helpless stupor under which I have given up, and then remember the
deathless courage with which she has braved it allthe loss of her
boys, her property, your troubles and mine. She has faced the world
alone like a wounded lioness standing over her cubs. And now she turns
her home into a hotel, and begins life in a strange new world without
one doubt of her success. The South is yet rich even in its ruin.
Then you'll fight and go back to her with me?
Yes, never fear.
Good! You see, we're so poor now, pa, you're lucky to be saving a
board bill here. I'd 'conspire' myself and come in with you but for the
fact it would hamper me a little in helping you.
CHAPTER V. ACROSS THE CHASM
When Ben had fully recovered and his father's case looked hopeful,
Elsie turned to her study of music, and the Southern boy suddenly waked
to the fact that the great mystery of life was upon him. He was in love
at lastgenuinely, deeply, without one reservation. He had from habit
flirted in a harmless way with every girl he knew. He left home with
little Marion Lenoir's girlish kiss warm on his lips. He had made love
to many a pretty girl in old Virginia as the red tide of war had ebbed
and flowed around Stuart's magic camps.
But now the great hour of the soul had struck. No sooner had he
dropped the first tender words that might have their double meaning,
feeling his way cautiously toward her, than she had placed a gulf of
dignity between them, and attempted to cut every tie that bound her
life to his.
It had been so sudden it took his breath away. Could he win her? The
word fail had never been in his vocabulary. It had never run in the
speech of his people.
Yes, he would win if it was the only thing he did in this world. And
forthwith he set about it. Life took on new meaning and new glory. What
mattered war or wounds, pain or poverty, jails and revolutionsit was
the dawn of life!
He sent her a flower every day and pinned one just like it on his
coat. And every night found him seated by her side. She greeted him
cordially, but the gulf yawned between them. His courtesy and
self-control struck her with surprise and admiration. In the face of
her coldness he carried about him an air of smiling deference and
She finally told him of her determination to go to New York to
pursue her studies until Phil had finished the term of his enlistment
in his regiment, which had been ordered on permanent duty in the West.
He laughed with his eyes at this announcement, blinking the lashes
rapidly without moving his lips. It was a peculiar habit of his when
deeply moved by a sudden thought. It had flashed over him like
lightning that she was trying to get away from him. She would not do
that unless she cared.
When are you going? he asked quietly.
Day after to-morrow.
Then you will give me one afternoon for a sail on the river to say
good-bye and thank you for what you have done for me and mine?
She hesitated, laughed, and refused.
To-morrow at four o'clock I'll call for you, he said firmly. If
there's no wind, we can drift with the tide.
I will not have time to go.
Promptly at four, he repeated as he left.
Ben spent hours that night weighing the question of how far he
should dare to speak his love. It had been such an easy thing before.
Now it seemed a question of life and death. Twice the magic words had
been on his lips, and each time something in her manner chilled him
Was she cold and incapable of love? No; this manner of the North was
on the surface. He knew that deep down within her nature lay banked and
smouldering fires of passion for the one man whose breath could stir it
into flame. He felt this all the keener now that the spell of her
companionship and the sweet intimacy of her daily ministry to him had
been broken. The memory of little movements of her petite figure, the
glance of her warm amber eyes, and the touch of her handall had their
tongues of revelation to his eager spirit.
He found her ready at four o'clock.
You see I decided to go after all, she said.
Yes, I knew you would, he answered.
She was dressed in a simple suit of navy-blue cloth cut V-shaped at
the throat, showing the graceful lines of her exquisite neck as it
melted into the plump shoulders. She had scorned hoop skirts.
He admired her for this, and yet it made him uneasy. A woman who
could defy an edict of fashion was a new thing under the sun, and it
They were seated in the little sailboat now, drifting out with the
tide. It was a perfect day in October, one of those matchless days of
Indian summer in the Virginia climate when an infinite peace and vast
brooding silence fill the earth and sky until one feels that words are
Neither of them spoke for minutes, and his heart grew bold in the
stillness. No girl could be still who was unmoved.
She was seated just in front of him on the left, with her hand idly
rippling the surface of the silvery waters, gazing at the wooded cliff
on the river banks clothed now in their gorgeous robes of yellow,
purple, scarlet, and gold.
The soft strains of distant music came from a band in the fort, and
her hand in the rippling water seemed its accompaniment.
Ben was conscious only of her presence. Every sight and sound of
nature seemed to be blended in her presence. Never in all his life had
he seen anything so delicately beautiful as the ripe rose colour of her
cheeks, and all the tints of autumn's glory seemed to melt into the
gold of her hair.
And those eyes he felt that God had never set in such a face
beforerich amber, warm and glowing, big and candid, courageous and
Are you dead again? she asked demurely.
Well, as the Irishman said in answer to his mate's question when he
fell off the house, 'not deadbut spacheless.'
He was quick to see the opening her question with its memories had
made, and took advantage of it.
Look here, Miss Elsie, you're too honest, independent, and candid
to play hide-and-seek with me. I want to ask you a plain question.
You've been trying to pick a quarrel of late. What have I done?
Nothing. It has simply come to me that our lives are far apart. The
gulf between us is real and very deep. Your father was but yesterday a
Yes, your slave-trading grandfather sold them to us the day
Elsie blushed and bristled for a fight.
You won't mind if I give you a few lessons in history, will you?
Ben asked softly.
Not in the least. I didn't know that Southerners studied history,
she answered, with a toss of her head.
We made a specialty of the history of slavery, at least. I had a
dear old teacher at home who fairly blazed with light on this subject.
He is one of the best-read men in America. He happens to be in jail
just now. But I haven't forgottenI know it by heart.
I am waiting for light, she interrupted cynically.
The South is no more to blame for negro slavery than the North. Our
slaves were stolen from Africa by Yankee skippers. When a slaver
arrived at Boston, your pious Puritan clergyman offered public prayer
of thanks that 'A gracious and overruling Providence had been pleased
to bring to this land of freedom another cargo of benighted heathen to
enjoy the blessings of a gospel dispensation'
She looked at him with angry incredulity and cried:
Twenty-three times the Legislature of Virginia passed acts against
the importation of slaves, which the king vetoed on petition of the
Massachusetts slave traders. Jefferson made these acts of the king one
of the grievances of the Declaration of Independence, but a
Massachusetts member succeeded in striking it out. The Southern men in
the convention which framed the Constitution put into it a clause
abolishing the slave trade, but the Massachusetts men succeeded in
adding a clause extending the trade twenty years
He smiled and paused.
Go on, she said, with impatience.
In Colonial days a negro woman was publicly burned to death in
Boston. The first Abolition paper was published in Tennessee by Embree.
Benjamin Lundy, his successor, could not find a single Abolitionist in
Boston. In 1828 over half the people of Tennessee favoured Abolition.
At this time there were one hundred and forty Abolition Societies in
Americaone hundred and three in the South, and not one in
Massachusetts. It was not until 1836 that Massachusetts led in
Abolitionnot until all her own slaves had been sold to us at a profit
and the slave trade had been destroyed
She looked at Ben with anger for a moment and met his tantalizing
look of good humour.
Can you stand any more?
Certainly, I enjoy it.
I'm just breaking down the barriersso to speak, he said, with
the laughter still lurking in his eyes, as he looked steadily ahead.
By all means go on, she said soberly. I thought at first you were
trying to tease me. I see that you are in earnest.
Never more so. This is about the only little path of history I'm at
home inI love to show off in it. I heard a cheerful idiot say the
other day that your father meant to carry the civilization of
Massachusetts to the Rio Grande until we had a Democracy in America. I
smiled. While Massachusetts was enforcing laws about the dress of the
rich and the poor, founding a church with a whipping-post, jail, and
gibbet, and limiting the right to vote to a church membership fixed by
pew rents, Carolina was the home of freedom where first the equal
rights of men were proclaimed. New England people worth less than one
thousand dollars were prohibited by law from wearing the garb of a
gentleman, gold or silver lace, buttons on the knees, or to walk in
great boots, or their women to wear silk or scarfs, while the Quakers,
Maryland Catholics, Baptists, and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians were
everywhere in the South the heralds of man's equality before the law.
But barring our ancestors, I have some things against the men of
Have I, too, sinned and come short? he asked with mock gravity.
Our ideals of life are far apart, she firmly declared.
What ails my ideal?
Your egotism, for one thing. The air with which you calmly select
what pleases your fancy. Northern men are bad enoughthe insolence of
a Southerner is beyond words!
[Illustration: LILLIAN GISH AS ELSIE, AND THE SENTINEL.]
You don't say so! cried Ben, bursting into a hearty laugh. Isn't
your aunt, Mrs. Farnham, the president of a club?
Yes, and she is a very brilliant woman.
Enlighten me further.
I deny your heaven-born male kingship. The lord of creation is
after all a very inferior animalnearer the brute creation, weaker in
infancy, shorter lived, more imperfectly developed, given to fighting,
and addicted to idiocy. I never saw a female idiot in my lifedid
Come to think of it, I never did, acknowledged Ben with comic
gravity. What else?
Isn't that enough?
It's nothing. I agree with everything you say, but it is
irrelevant. I'm studying law, you know.
I have a personality of my own. You and your kind assume the right
to absorb all lesser lights.
Certainly, I'm a man.
I don't care to be absorbed by a mere man.
Don't wish to be protected, sheltered, and cared for?
I dream of a life that shall be larger than the four walls of a
home. I have never gone into hysterics over the idea of becoming a cook
and housekeeper without wages, and snuffing my life out while another
grows, expands, and claims the lordship of the world. I can sing. My
voice is to me what eloquence is to man. My ideal is an intellectual
companion who will inspire and lead me to develop all that I feel
within to its highest reach.
She paused a moment and looked defiantly into Ben's brown eyes,
about which a smile was constantly playing. He looked away, and again
the river echoed with his contagious laughter. She had to join in spite
of herself. He laughed with boyish gayety. It danced in his eyes, and
gave spring to every movement of his slender wiry body. She felt its
contagion enfold her.
His laughter melted into a song. In a voice vibrant with joy he
sang, If you get there before I do, tell 'em I'm comin' too!
As Elsie listened, her anger grew as she recalled the amazing folly
that had induced her to tell the secret feelings of her inmost soul to
this man almost a stranger. Whence came this miracle of influence about
him, this gift of intimacy? She felt a shock as if she had been
immodest. She was in an agony of doubt as to what he was thinking of
her, and dreaded to meet his gaze.
And yet, when he turned toward her, his whole being a smiling
compound of dark Southern blood and bone and fire, at the sound of his
voice all doubt and questioning melted.
Do you know, he said earnestly, that you are the funniest, most
charming girl I ever met?
Thanks. I've heard your experience has been large for one of your
Ben's eyes danced.
Perhaps, yes. You appeal to things in me that I didn't know were
thereto all the senses of body and soul at once. Your strength of
mind, with its conceits, and your quick little temper seem so odd and
out of place, clothed in the gentleness of your beauty.
I was never more serious in my life. There are other things more
personal about you that I do not like.
Your cavalier habits.
Cavalier fiddlesticks. There are no Cavaliers in my country. We are
all Covenanter and Huguenot folks. The idea that Southern boys are lazy
loafing dreamers is a myth. I was raised on the catechism.
You love to fish and hunt and frolicyou flirt with every girl you
meet, and you drink sometimes. I often feel that you are cruel and that
I do not know you.
Ben's face grew serious, and the red scar in the edge of his hair
suddenly became livid with the rush of blood.
Perhaps I don't mean that you shall know all yet, he said slowly.
My ideal of a man is one that leads, charms, dominates, and yet
eludes. I confess that I'm close kin to an angel and a devil, and that
I await a woman's hand to lead me into the ways of peace and life.
The spiritual earnestness of the girl was quick to catch the subtle
appeal of his last words. His broad, high forehead, straight, masterly
nose, with its mobile nostrils, seemed to her very manly at just that
moment and very appealing. A soft answer was on her lips.
He saw it, and leaned toward her in impulsive tenderness. A timid
look on her face caused him to sink back in silence.
They had now drifted near the city. The sun was slowly sinking in a
smother of fiery splendour that mirrored its changing hues in the still
water. The hush of the harvest fullness of autumn life was over all
nature. They passed a camp of soldiers and then a big hospital on the
banks above. A gun flashed from the hill, and the flag dropped from its
The girl's eyes lingered on the flower in his coat a moment and then
on the red scar in the edge of his dark hair, and somehow the
difference between them seemed to melt into the falling twilight. Only
his nearness was real. Again a strange joy held her.
He threw her a look of tenderness, and she began to tremble. A sea
gull poised a moment above them and broke into a laugh.
Bending nearer, he gently took her hand, and said:
I love you!
A sob caught her breath and she buried her face on her arm.
I am for you, and you are for me. Why beat your wings against the
thing that is and must be? What else matters? With all my sins and
faults my land is yoursa land of sunshine, eternal harvests, and
everlasting song, old-fashioned and provincial perhaps, but kind and
hospitable. Around its humblest cottage song birds live and mate and
nest and never leave. The winged ones of your own cold fields have
heard their call, and the sky to-night will echo with their chatter as
they hurry southward. Elsie, my own, I too have calledcome; I love
She lifted her face to him full of tender spiritual charm, her eyes
burning their passionate answer.
He bent and kissed her.
Say it! Say it! he whispered.
I love you! she sighed.
CHAPTER VI. THE GAUGE OF BATTLE
The day of the first meeting of the National Congress after the war
was one of intense excitement. The galleries of the House were packed.
Elsie was there with Ben in a fever of secret anxiety lest the stirring
drama should cloud her own life. She watched her father limp to his
seat with every eye fixed on him.
The President had pursued with persistence the plan of Lincoln for
the immediate restoration of the Union. Would Congress follow the lead
of the President or challenge him to mortal combat?
Civil governments had been restored in all the Southern States, with
men of the highest ability chosen as governors and lawmakers. Their
legislatures had unanimously voted for the Thirteenth Amendment of the
Constitution abolishing slavery, and elected senators and
representatives to Congress. Mr. Seward, the Secretary of State, had
declared the new amendment a part of the organic law of the Nation by
the vote of these States.
General Grant went to the South to report its condition and boldly
I am satisfied that the mass of thinking people of the South accept
the situation in good faith. Slavery and secession they regard as
settled forever by the highest known tribunal, and consider this
decision a fortunate one for the whole country.
Would the Southerners be allowed to enter?
Amid breathless silence the clerk rose to call the roll of
members-elect. Every ear was bent to hear the name of the first
Southern man. Not one was called! The Master had spoken. His clerk knew
how to play his part.
The next business of the House was to receive the message of the
Chief Magistrate of the Nation.
The message came, but not from the White House. It came from the
seat of the Great Commoner.
As the first thrill of excitement over the challenge to the
President slowly subsided, Stoneman rose, planted his big club foot in
the middle of the aisle, and delivered to Congress the word of its new
It was Ben's first view of the man of all the world just now of most
interest. From his position he could see his full face and figure.
He began speaking in a careless, desultory way. His tone was loud
yet not declamatory, at first in a grumbling, grandfatherly,
half-humorous, querulous accent that riveted every ear instantly. A
sort of drollery of a contagious kind haunted it. Here and there a
member tittered in expectation of a flash of wit.
His figure was taller than the average, slightly bent, with a
dignity which suggested reserve power and contempt for his audience.
One knew instinctively that back of the boldest word this man might say
there was a bolder unspoken word he had chosen not to speak.
His limbs were long, and their movements slow, yet nervous as from
some internal fiery force. His hands were big and ugly, and always in
ungraceful fumbling motion as though a separate soul dwelt within them.
The heaped-up curly profusion of his brown wig gave a weird
impression to the spread of his mobile features. His eagle-beaked nose
had three distinct lines and angles. His chin was broad and bold, and
his brows beetling and projecting. His mouth was wide, marked, and
grim; when opened, deep and cavernous; when closed, it seemed to snap
so tightly that the lower lip protruded.
Of all his make-up, his eye was the most fascinating, and it held
Ben spellbound. It could thrill to the deepest fibre of the soul that
looked into it, yet it did not gleam. It could dominate, awe, and
confound, yet it seemed to have no colour or fire. He could easily see
it across the vast hall from the galleries, yet it was not large. Two
bold, colourless dagger-points of light they seemed. As he grew
excited, they darkened as if passing under a cloud.
A sudden sweep of his huge apelike arm in an angular gesture, and
the drollery and carelessness of his voice were riven from it as by a
bolt of lightning.
He was driving home his message now in brutal frankness. Yet in the
height of his fiercest invective he never seemed to strengthen himself
or call on his resources. In its climax he was careless, conscious of
power, and contemptuous of results, as though as a gambler he had
staked and lost all and in the moment of losing suddenly become the
master of those who had beaten him.
His speech never once bent to persuade or convince. He meant to
brain the opposition with a single blow, and he did it. For he suddenly
took the breath from his foes by shouting in their faces the hidden
motive of which they were hoping to accuse him!
Admit these Southern Representatives, he cried, and with the
Democrats elected from the North, within one term they will have a
majority in Congress and the Electoral College. The supremacy of our
party's life is at stake. The man who dares palter with such a measure
is a rebel, a traitor to his party and his people.
A cheer burst from his henchmen, and his foes sat in dazed stupor at
his audacity. He moved the appointment of a Committee on
Reconstruction to whom the entire government of the conquered
provinces of the South should be committed, and to whom all
credentials of their pretended representatives should be referred.
He sat down as the Speaker put his motion, declared it carried, and
quickly announced the names of this Imperial Committee with the Hon.
Austin Stoneman as its chairman.
He then permitted the message of the President of the United States
to be read by his clerk.
Well, upon my soul, said Ben, taking a deep breath and looking at
Elsie, he's the whole thing, isn't he?
The girl smiled with pride.
Yes; he is a genius. He was born to command and yet never could
resist the cry of a child or the plea of a woman. He hates, but he
hates ideas and systems. He makes threats, yet when he meets the man
who stands for all he hates he falls in love with his enemy.
Then there's hope for me?
Yes, but I must be the judge of the time to speak.
Well, if he looks at me as he did once to-day, you may have to do
the speaking also.
You will like him when you know him. He is one of the greatest men
At least he's the father of the greatest girl in the world, which
is far more important.
I wonder if you know how important? she asked seriously. He is
the apple of my eye. His bitter words, his cynicism and sarcasm, are
all on the surfacemasks that hide a great sensitive spirit. You can't
know with what brooding tenderness I have always loved and worshipped
him. I will never marry against his wishes.
I hope he and I will always be good friends, said Ben doubtfully.
You must, she replied, eagerly pressing his hand.
CHAPTER VII. A WOMAN LAUGHS
Each day the conflict waxed warmer between the President and the
The first bill sent to the White House to Africanize the conquered
provinces the President vetoed in a message of such logic, dignity,
and power, the old leader found to his amazement it was impossible to
rally the two-thirds majority to pass it over his head.
At first, all had gone as planned. Lynch and Howle brought to him a
report on Southern Atrocities, secured through the councils of the
secret oath-bound Union League, which had destroyed the impression of
General Grant's words and prepared his followers for blind submission
to his Committee.
Yet the rally of a group of men in defence of the Constitution had
given the President unexpected strength.
Stoneman saw that he must hold his hand on the throat of the South
and fight another campaign. Howle and Lynch furnished the publication
committee of the Union League the matter, and they printed four million
five hundred thousand pamphlets on Southern Atrocities.
The Northern States were hostile to negro suffrage, the first step
of his revolutionary programme, and not a dozen men in Congress had yet
dared to favour it. Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Kansas had rejected
it by overwhelming majorities. But he could appeal to their passions
and prejudices against the Barbarism of the South. It would work like
magic. When he had the South where he wanted it, he would turn and ram
negro suffrage and negro equality down the throats of the reluctant
His energies were now bent to prevent any effective legislation in
Congress until his strength should be omnipotent.
A cloud disturbed the sky for a moment in the Senate. John Sherman,
of Ohio, began to loom on the horizon as a constructive statesman, and
without consulting him was quietly forcing over Sumner's classic
oratory a Reconstruction Bill restoring the Southern States to the
Union on the basis of Lincoln's plan, with no provision for
interference with the suffrage. It had gone to its last reading, and
the final vote was pending.
The house was in session at 3 a. m., waiting in feverish anxiety the
outcome of this struggle in the Senate.
Old Stoneman was in his seat, fast asleep from the exhaustion of an
unbroken session of forty hours. His meals he had sent to his desk from
the Capitol restaurant. He was seventy-four years old and not in good
health, yet his energy was tireless, his resources inexhaustible, and
his audacity matchless.
Sunset Cox, the wag of the House, an opponent but personal friend of
the old Commoner, passing his seat and seeing the great head sunk on
his breast in sleep, laughed softly and said:
The presiding officer recognized the young Democrat with a nod of
answering humour and responded:
The gentleman from New York.
I move you, sir, said Cox, that, in view of the advanced age and
eminent services of the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania, the
Sergeant-at-Arms be instructed to furnish him with enough poker chips
to last till morning!
The scattered members who were awake roared with laughter, the
Speaker pounded furiously with his gavel, the sleepy little pages
jumped up, rubbing their eyes, and ran here and there answering
imaginary calls, and the whole House waked to its usual noise and
The old man raised his massive head and looked to the door leading
toward the Senate just as Sumner rushed through. He had slept for a
moment, but his keen intellect had taken up the fight at precisely the
point at which he left it.
Sumner approached his desk rapidly, leaned over, and reported his
defeat and Sherman's triumph.
For God's sake throttle this measure in the House or we are
ruined! he exclaimed.
Don't be alarmed, replied the cynic. I'll be here with stronger
weapons than articulated wind.
You have not a moment to lose. The bill is on its way to the
Speaker's desk, and Sherman's men are going to force its passage
The Senator returned to the other end of the Capitol wrapped in the
mantle of his outraged dignity, and in thirty minutes the bill was
defeated, and the House adjourned.
As the old Commoner hobbled through the door, his crooked cane
thumping the marble floor, Sumner seized and pressed his hand:
How did you do it?
Stoneman's huge jaws snapped together and his lower lip protruded:
I sent for Cox and summoned the leader of the Democrats. I told
them if they would join with me and defeat this bill, I'd give them a
better one the next session. And I willnegro suffrage! The gudgeons
swallowed it whole!
Sumner lifted his eyebrows and wrapped his cloak a little closer.
The Great Commoner laughed as he departed:
He is yet too good for this world, but he'll forget it before we're
done this fight.
On the steps a beggar asked him for a night's lodging, and he tossed
him a gold eagle.
* * * * *
The North, which had rejected negro suffrage for itself with scorn,
answered Stoneman's fierce appeal to their passions against the South,
and sent him a delegation of radicals eager to do his will.
So fierce had waxed the combat between the President and Congress
that the very existence of Stanton's prisoners languishing in jail was
forgotten, and the Secretary of War himself became a football to be
kicked back and forth in this conflict of giants. The fact that Andrew
Johnson was from Tennessee, and had been an old-line Democrat before
his election as a Unionist with Lincoln, was now a fatal weakness in
his position. Under Stoneman's assaults he became at once an executive
without a party, and every word of amnesty and pardon he proclaimed for
the South in accordance with Lincoln's plan was denounced as the act of
a renegade courting favour of traitors and rebels.
Stanton remained in his cabinet against his wishes to insult and
defy him, and Stoneman, quick to see the way by which the President of
the Nation could be degraded and made ridiculous, introduced a bill
depriving him of the power to remove his own cabinet officers. The act
was not only meant to degrade the President; it was a trap set for his
ruin. The penalties were so fixed that its violation would give
specific ground for his trial, impeachment, and removal from office.
Again Stoneman passed his first act to reduce the conquered
provinces of the South to negro rule.
President Johnson vetoed it with a message of such logic in defence
of the constitutional rights of the States that it failed by one vote
to find the two-thirds majority needed to become a law without his
The old Commoner's eyes froze into two dagger-points of icy light
when this vote was announced.
With fury he cursed the President, but above all he cursed the men
of his own party who had faltered.
As he fumbled his big hands nervously, he growled:
If I only had five men of genuine courage in Congress, I'd hang the
man at the other end of the avenue from the porch of the White House!
But I haven't got themcowards, dastards, dolts, and snivelling
His decision was instantly made. He would expel enough Democrats
from the Senate and the House to place his two-thirds majority beyond
question. The name of the President never passed his lips. He referred
to him always, even in public debate, as the man at the other end of
the avenue, or the former Governor of Tennessee who once threatened
rebelsthe late lamented Andrew Johnson, of blessed memory.
He ordered the expulsion of the new member of the House from
Indiana, Daniel W. Voorhees, and the new Senator from New Jersey, John
P. Stockton. This would give him a majority of two thirds composed of
men who would obey his word without a question.
Voorhees heard of the edict with indignant wrath. He had met
Stoneman in the lobbies, where he was often the centre of admiring
groups of friends. His wit and audacity, and, above all, his brutal
frankness, had won the admiration of the Tall Sycamore of the Wabash.
He could not believe such a man would be a party to a palpable fraud.
He appealed to him personally:
Look here, Stoneman, the young orator cried with wrath, I appeal
to your sense of honour and decency. My credentials have been accepted
by your own committee, and my seat been awarded me. My majority is
unquestioned. This is a high-handed outrage. You cannot permit this
The old man thrust his deformed foot out before him, struck it
meditatively with his cane, and looking Voorhees straight in the eye,
There's nothing the matter with your majority, young man. I've no
doubt it's all right. Unfortunately, you are a Democrat, and happen to
be the odd man in the way of the two-thirds majority on which the
supremacy of my party depends. You will have to go. Come back some
other time. And he did.
In the Senate there was a hitch. When the vote was taken on the
expulsion of Stockton, to the amazement of the leader it was a tie.
He hobbled into the Senate Chamber, with the steel point of his cane
ringing on the marble flags as though he were thrusting it through the
vitals of the weakling who had sneaked and hedged and trimmed at the
He met Howle at the door.
What's the matter in there? he asked.
They're trying to compromise.
Compromisethe Devil of American politics, he muttered. But how
did the vote failit was all fixed before the roll-call?
Roman, of Maine, has trouble with his conscience! He is paired not
to vote on this question with Stockton's colleague, who is sick in
Trenton. His 'honour' is involved, and he refuses to break his word.
I see, said Stoneman, pulling his bristling brows down until his
eyes were two beads of white gleaming through them. Tell Wade to
summon every member of the party in his room immediately and hold the
Senate in session.
When the group of Senators crowded into the Vice-president's room
the old man faced them leaning on his cane and delivered an address of
five minutes they never forgot.
His speech had a nameless fascination. The man himself with his
elemental passions was a wonder. He left on public record no speech
worth reading, and yet these powerful men shrank under his glance. As
the nostrils of his big three-angled nose dilated, the scream of an
eagle rang in his voice, his huge ugly hand held the crook of his cane
with the clutch of a tiger, his tongue flew with the hiss of an adder,
and his big deformed foot seemed to grip the floor as the claw of a
The life of a political party, gentlemen, he growled in
conclusion, is maintained by a scheme of subterfuges in which the
moral law cuts no figure. As your leader, I know but one lawsuccess.
The world is full of fools who must have toys with which to play. A
belief in politics is the favourite delusion of shallow American minds.
But you and I have no delusions. Your life depends on this vote. If any
man thinks the abstraction called 'honour' is involved, let him choose
between his honour and his life! I call no names. This issue must be
settled now before the Senate adjourns. There can be no to-morrow. It
is life or death. Let the roll be called again immediately.
The grave Senators resumed their seats, and Wade, the acting
Vice-president, again put the question to Stockton's expulsion.
The member from New England sat pale and trembling, in his soul the
anguish of the mortal combat between his Puritan conscience, the iron
heritage of centuries, and the order of his captain.
When the Clerk of the Senate called his name, still the battle
raged. He sat in silence, the whiteness of death about his lips, while
the clerk at a signal from the Chair paused.
And then a scene the like of which was never known in American
history! August Senators crowded around his desk, begging, shouting,
imploring, and demanding that a fellow Senator break his solemn word of
For a moment pandemonium reigned.
Vote! Vote! Call his name again! they shouted.
High above all rang the voice of Charles Sumner, leading the wild
Vote! Vote! Vote!
The galleries hissed and cheeredthe cheers at last drowning every
Stoneman pushed his way among the mob which surrounded the badgered
Puritan as he attempted to retreat into the cloakroom.
Will you vote? he hissed, his eyes flashing poison.
My conscience will not permit it, he faltered.
To hell with your conscience! the old leader thundered. Go back
to your seat, ask the clerk to call your name, and vote, or by the
living God I'll read you out of the party to-night and brand you a
snivelling coward, a copperhead, a renegade, and traitor!
Trembling from head to foot, he staggered back to his seat, the cold
sweat standing in beads on his forehead, and gasped:
Call my name!
The shrill voice of the clerk rang out in the stillness like the
peal of a trumpet:
And the deed was done.
A cheer burst from his colleagues, and the roll-call proceeded.
When Stockton's name was reached he sprang to his feet, voted for
himself, and made a second tie!
With blank faces they turned to the leader, who ordered Charles
Sumner to move that the Senator from New Jersey be not allowed to
answer his name on an issue involving his own seat.
It was carried. Again the roll was called, and Stockton expelled by
a majority of one.
In the moment of ominous silence which followed, a yellow woman of
sleek animal beauty leaned far over the gallery rail and laughed aloud.
The passage of each act of the Revolutionary programme over the veto
of the President was now but a matter of form. The act to degrade his
office by forcing him to keep a cabinet officer who daily insulted him,
the Civil Rights Bill, and the Freedman's Bureau Bill followed in rapid
Stoneman's crowning Reconstruction Act was passed, two years after
the war had closed, shattering the Union again into fragments, blotting
the names of ten great Southern States from its roll, and dividing
their territory into five Military Districts under the control of
When this measure was vetoed by the President, it came accompanied
by a message whose words will be forever etched in fire on the darkest
page of the Nation's life.
Amid hisses, curses, jeers, and cat-calls, the Clerk of the House
read its burning words:
The power thus given to the commanding officer over the people
of each district is that of an absolute monarch. His mere will is to
take the place of law. He may make a criminal code of his own; he can
make it as bloody as any recorded in history, or he can reserve the
privilege of acting on the impulse of his private passions in each case
Here is a bill of attainer against nine millions of people at
once. It is based upon an accusation so vague as to be scarcely
intelligible, and found to be true upon no credible evidence. Not one
of the nine millions was heard in his own defence. The representatives
even of the doomed parties were excluded from all participation in the
trial. The conviction is to be followed by the most ignominious
punishment ever inflicted on large masses of men. It disfranchises them
by hundreds of thousands and degrades them alleven those who are
admitted to be guiltlessfrom the rank of freemen to the condition of
Such power has not been wielded by any monarch in England for
more than five hundred years, and in all that time no people who speak
the English tongue have borne such servitude.
When the last jeering cat-call which greeted this message of the
Chief Magistrate had died away on the floor and in the galleries, old
Stoneman rose, with a smile playing about his grim mouth, and
introduced his bill to impeach the President of the United States and
remove him from office.
CHAPTER VIII. A DREAM
Elsie spent weeks of happiness in an abandonment of joy to the spell
of her lover. His charm was resistless. His gift of delicate intimacy,
the eloquence with which he expressed his love, and yet the manly
dignity with which he did it, threw a spell no woman could resist.
Each day's working hours were given to his father's case and to the
study of law. If there was work to do, he did it, and then struck the
word care from his life, giving himself body and soul to his love.
Great events were moving. The shock of the battle between Congress and
the President began to shake the Republic to its foundations. He heard
nothing, felt nothing, save the music of Elsie's voice.
And she knew it. She had only played with lovers before. She had
never seen one of Ben's kind, and he took her by storm. His creed was
simple. The chief end of life is to glorify the girl you love. Other
things could wait. And he let them wait. He ignored their existence.
But one cloud cast its shadow over the girl's heart during these
red-letter days of lifethe fear of what her father would do to her
lover's people. Ben had asked her whether he must speak to him. When
she said No, not yet, he forgot that such a man lived. As for his
politics, he knew nothing and cared less.
But the girl knew and thought with sickening dread, until she forgot
her fears in the joy of his laughter. Ben laughed so heartily, so
insinuatingly, the contagion of his fun could not be resisted.
He would sit for hours and confess to her the secrets of his boyish
dreams of glory in war, recount his thrilling adventures and daring
deeds with such enthusiasm that his cause seemed her own, and the pity
and the anguish of the ruin of his people hurt her with the keen sense
of personal pain. His love for his native State was so genuine, his
pride in the bravery and goodness of its people so chivalrous, she
began to see for the first time how the cords which bound the
Southerner to his soil were of the heart's red blood.
She began to understand why the war, which had seemed to her a
wicked, cruel, and causeless rebellion, was the one inevitable thing in
our growth from a loose group of sovereign States to a United Nation.
Love had given her his point of view.
Secret grief over her father's course began to grow into conscious
fear. With unerring instinct she felt the fatal day drawing nearer when
these two men, now of her inmost life, must clash in mortal enmity.
She saw little of her father. He was absorbed with fevered activity
and deadly hate in his struggle with the President.
Brooding over her fears one night, she had tried to interest Ben in
politics. To her surprise she found that he knew nothing of her
father's real position or power as leader of his party. The stunning
tragedy of the war had for the time crushed out of his consciousness
all political ideas, as it had for most young Southerners. He took her
hand while a dreamy look overspread his swarthy face:
Don't cross a bridge till you come to it. I learned that in the
war. Politics are a mess. Let me tell you something that counts
He felt her hand's soft pressure and reverently kissed it. Listen,
he whispered. I was dreaming last night after I left you of the home
we'll build. Just back of our place, on the hill overlooking the river,
my father and mother planted trees in exact duplicate of the ones they
placed around our house when they were married. They set these trees in
honour of the first-born of their love, that he should make his nest
there when grown. But it was not for him. He had pitched his tent on
higher ground, and the others with him. This place will be mine. There
are forty varieties of trees, all grownelm, maple, oak, holly, pine,
cedar, magnolia, and every fruit and flowering stem that grows in our
friendly soil. A little house, built near the vacant space reserved for
the homestead, is nicely kept by a farmer, and birds have learned to
build in every shrub and tree. All the year their music rings its
chorusone long overture awaiting the coming of my bride
Listen, dear, he went on eagerly. Last night I dreamed the South
had risen from her ruins. I saw you there. I saw our home standing amid
a bower of roses your hands had planted. The full moon wrapped it in
soft light, while you and I walked hand in hand in silence beneath our
trees. But fairer and brighter than the moon was the face of her I
loved, and sweeter than all the songs of birds the music of her voice!
A tear dimmed the girl's warm eyes, and a deeper flush mantled her
cheeks, as she lifted her face and whispered:
CHAPTER IX. THE KING AMUSES HIMSELF
With savage energy the Great Commoner pressed to trial the first
impeachment of a President of the United States for high crimes and
His bill to confiscate the property of the Southern people was
already pending on the calendar of the House. This bill was the most
remarkable ever written in the English language or introduced into a
legislative body of the Aryan race. It provided for the confiscation of
ninety per cent. of the land of ten great States of the American Union.
To each negro in the South was allotted forty acres from the estate of
his former master, and the remaining millions of acres were to be
divided among the loyal who had suffered by reason of the Rebellion.
The execution of this, the most stupendous crime ever conceived by
an English lawmaker, involving the exile and ruin of millions of
innocent men, women, and children, could not be intrusted to Andrew
No such measure could be enforced so long as any man was President
and Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy who claimed his title under
the Constitution. Hence the absolute necessity of his removal.
The conditions of society were ripe for this daring enterprise.
Not only was the Ship of State in the hands of revolutionists who
had boarded her in the storm stress of a civic convulsion, but among
them swarmed the pirate captains of the boldest criminals who ever
figured in the story of a nation.
The first great Railroad Lobby, with continental empires at stake,
thronged the Capitol with its lawyers, agents, barkers, and hired
The Cotton Thieves, who operated through a ring of Treasury agents,
had confiscated unlawfully three million bales of cotton hidden in the
South during the war and at its close, the last resource of a ruined
people. The Treasury had received a paltry twenty thousand bales for
the use of its name with which to seize alleged property of the
Confederate Government. The value of this cotton, stolen from the
widows and orphans, the maimed and crippled, of the South was over
$700,000,000 in golda capital sufficient to have started an
impoverished people again on the road to prosperity. The agents of this
ring surrounded the halls of legislation, guarding their booty from
envious eyes, and demanding the enactment of vaster schemes of legal
The Whiskey Ring had just been formed, and began its system of
gigantic frauds by which it scuttled the Treasury.
Above them all towered the figure of Oakes Ames, whose master mind
had organized the Crédit Mobilier steal. This vast infamy had
already eaten its way into the heart of Congress and dug the graves of
many illustrious men.
So open had become the shame that Stoneman was compelled to increase
his committees in the morning, when a corrupt majority had been bought
the night before.
He arose one day, and looking at the distinguished Speaker, who was
himself the secret associate of Oakes Ames, said:
Mr. Speaker: while the House slept, the enemy has sown tares among
our wheat. The corporations of this country, having neither bodies to
be kicked nor souls to be lost, have, perhaps by the power of
argument alone, beguiled from the majority of my Committee the member
from Connecticut. The enemy have now a majority of one. I move to
increase the Committee to twelve.
Speaker Colfax, soon to be hurled from the Vice-president's chair
for his part with those thieves, increased his Committee.
Everybody knew that the power of argument alone meant ten thousand
dollars cash for the gentleman from Connecticut, who did not appear on
the floor for a week, fearing the scorpion tongue of the old Commoner.
A Congress which found it could make and unmake laws in defiance of
the Executive went mad. Taxation soared to undreamed heights, while the
currency was depreciated and subject to the wildest fluctuations.
The statute books were loaded with laws that shackled chains of
monopoly on generations yet unborn. Public lands wide as the reach of
empires were voted as gifts to private corporations, and subsidies of
untold millions fixed as a charge upon the people and their children's
The demoralization incident to a great war, the waste of unheard-of
sums of money, the giving of contracts involving millions by which
fortunes were made in a night, the riot of speculation and debauchery
by those who tried to get rich suddenly without labour, had created a
new Capital of the Nation. The vulture army of the base, venal,
unpatriotic, and corrupt, which had swept down, a black cloud, in
wartime to take advantage of the misfortunes of the Nation, had settled
in Washington and gave new tone to its life.
Prior to the Civil War the Capital was ruled, and the standards of
its social and political life fixed, by an aristocracy founded on
brains, culture, and blood. Power was with few exceptions intrusted to
an honourable body of high-spirited public officials. Now a negro
electorate controlled the city government, and gangs of drunken
negroes, its sovereign citizens, paraded the streets at night firing
their muskets unchallenged and unmolested.
A new mob of onion-laden breath, mixed with perspiring African
odour, became the symbol of American Democracy.
A new order of society sprouted in this corruption. The old
high-bred ways, tastes, and enthusiasms were driven into the
hiding-places of a few families and cherished as relics of the past.
Washington, choked with scrofulous wealth, bowed the knee to the
Almighty Dollar. The new altar was covered with a black mould of human
bloodbut no questions were asked.
A mulatto woman kept the house of the foremost man of the Nation and
received his guests with condescension.
In this atmosphere of festering vice and gangrene passions, the
struggle between the Great Commoner and the President on which hung the
fate of the South approached its climax.
The whole Nation was swept into the whirlpool, and business was
paralyzed. Two years after the close of a victorious war the credit of
the Republic dropped until its six per cent. bonds sold in the open
market for seventy-three cents on the dollar.
The revolutionary junta in control of the Capital was within a
single step of the subversion of the Government and the establishment
of a Dictator in the White House.
A convention was called in Philadelphia to restore fraternal
feeling, heal the wounds of war, preserve the Constitution, and restore
the Union of the fathers. It was a grand assemblage representing the
heart and brain of the Nation. Members of Lincoln's first Cabinet,
protesting Senators and Congressmen, editors of great Republican and
Democratic newspapers, heroes of both armies, long estranged, met for a
common purpose. When a group of famous negro worshippers from Boston
suddenly entered the hall, arm in arm with ex-slaveholders from South
Carolina, the great meeting rose and walls and roof rang with thunder
peals of applause.
Their committee, headed by a famous editor, journeyed to Washington
to appeal to the Master at the Capitol. They sought him not in the
White House, but in the little Black House in an obscure street on the
The brown woman received them with haughty dignity, and said:
Mr. Stoneman cannot be seen at this hour. It is after nine o'clock.
I will submit to him your request for an audience to-morrow morning.
We must see him to-night, replied the editor, with rising anger.
The king is amusing himself, said the yellow woman, with a touch
Where is he?
Her catlike eyes rolled from side to side, and a smile played about
her full lips as she said:
You will find him at Hall &Pemberton's gambling hellyou've lived
in Washington. You know the way.
With a muttered oath the editor turned on his heel and led his two
companions to the old Commoner's favourite haunt. There could be no
better time or place to approach him than seated at one of its tables
laden with rare wines and savoury dishes.
On reaching the well-known number of Hall &Pemberton's place, the
editor entered the unlocked door, passed with his friends along the
soft-carpeted hall, and ascended the stairs. Here the door was locked.
A sudden pull of the bell, and a pair of bright eyes peeped through a
small grating in the centre of the door revealed by the sliding of its
The keen eyes glanced at the proffered card, the door flew open, and
a well-dressed mulatto invited them with cordial welcome to enter.
Passing along another hall, they were ushered into a palatial suite
of rooms furnished in princely state. The floors were covered with the
richest and softest carpetsso soft and yielding that the tramp of a
thousand feet could not make the faintest echo. The walls and ceilings
were frescoed by the brush of a great master, and hung with works of
art worth a king's ransom. Heavy curtains, in colours of exquisite
taste, masked each window, excluding all sound from within or without.
The rooms blazed with light from gorgeous chandeliers of trembling
crystals, shimmering and flashing from the ceilings like bouquets of
Negro servants, faultlessly dressed, attended the slightest want of
every guest with the quiet grace and courtesy of the lost splendours of
the old South.
The proprietor, with courtly manners, extended his hand:
Welcome, gentlemen; you are my guests. The tables and the wines are
at your service without price. Eat, drink, and be merryplay or not,
as you please.
A smile lighted his dark eyes, but faded out near his mouthcold
At the farther end of the last room hung the huge painting of a
leopard, so vivid and real its black and tawny colours, so furtive and
wild its restless eyes, it seemed alive and moving behind invisible
Just under it, gorgeously set in its jewel-studded frame, stood the
magic green table on which men staked their gold and lost their souls.
The rooms were crowded with Congressmen, Government officials,
officers of the Army and Navy, clerks, contractors, paymasters,
lobbyists, and professional gamblers.
The centre of an admiring group was a Congressman who had during the
last session of the House broken the bank in a single night, winning
more than a hundred thousand dollars. He had lost it all and more in
two weeks, and the courteous proprietor now held orders for the lion's
share of the total pay and mileage of nearly every member of the House
Over that table thousands of dollars of the people's money had been
staked and lost during the war by quartermasters, paymasters, and
agents in charge of public funds. Many a man had approached that green
table with a stainless name and left it a perjured thief. Some had been
carried out by those handsomely dressed waiters, and the man with the
cold mouth could point out, if he would, more than one stain on the
soft carpet which marked the end of a tragedy deeper than the pen of
romancer has ever sounded.
Stoneman at the moment was playing. He was rarely a heavy player,
but he had just staked a twenty-dollar gold piece and won fourteen
Howle, always at his elbow ready for a sleeper or a stake, said:
Put a stack on the ace.
He did so, lost, and repeated it twice.
Do it again, urged Howle. I'll stake my reputation that the ace
wins this time.
With a doubting glance at Howle, old Stoneman shoved a stack of blue
chips, worth fifty dollars, over the ace, playing it to win on Howle's
judgment and reputation. It lost.
Without the ghost of a smile, the old statesman said: Howle, you
owe me five cents.
As he turned abruptly on his club foot from the table, he
encountered the editor and his friends, a Western manufacturer and a
Wall Street banker. They were soon seated at a table in a private room,
over a dinner of choice oysters, diamond-back terrapin, canvas-back
duck, and champagne.
They presented their plea for a truce in his fight until popular
passion had subsided.
He heard them in silence. His answer was characteristic:
The will of the people, gentlemen, is supreme, he said with a
sneer. We are the people. 'The man at the other end of the avenue' has
dared to defy the will of Congress. He must go. If the Supreme Court
lifts a finger in this fight, it will reduce that tribunal to one man
or increase it to twenty at our pleasure.
But the Constitution broke in the chairman.
There are higher laws than paper compacts. We are conquerors
treading conquered soil. Our will alone is the source of law. The
drunken boor who claims to be President is in reality an alien of a
We protest, exclaimed the man of money, against the use of such
epithets in referring to the Chief Magistrate of the Republic!
And why, pray? sneered the Commoner.
In the name of common decency, law, and order. The President is a
man of inherent power, even if he did learn to read after his marriage.
Like many other Americans, he is a self-made man
Glad to hear it, snapped Stoneman. It relieves Almighty God of a
They left him in disgust and dismay.
CHAPTER X. TOSSED BY THE STORM
As the storm of passion raised by the clash between her father and
the President rose steadily to the sweep of a cyclone, Elsie felt her
own life but a leaf driven before its fury.
Her only comfort she found in Phil, whose letters to her were full
of love for Margaret. He asked Elsie a thousand foolish questions about
what she thought of his chances.
To her own confessions he was all sympathy.
Of father's wild scheme of vengeance against the South, he wrote,
I am heartsick. I hate it on principle, to say nothing of a girl I
know. I am with General Grant for peace and reconciliation. What does
your lover think of it all? I can feel your anguish. The bill to rob
the Southern people of their land, which I hear is pending, would send
your sweetheart and mine, our enemies, into beggared exile. What will
happen in the South? Riot and bloodshed, of courseperhaps a guerilla
war of such fierce and terrible cruelty humanity sickens at the
thought. I fear the Rebellion unhinged our father's reason on some
things. He was too old to go to the front; the cannon's breath would
have cleared the air and sweetened his temper. But its healing was
denied. I believe the tawny leopardess who keeps his house influences
him in this cruel madness. I could wring her neck with exquisite
pleasure. Why he allows her to stay and cloud his life with her
she-devil temper and fog his name with vulgar gossip is beyond me.
Seated in the park on the Capitol hill the day after her father had
introduced his Confiscation Bill in the House, pending the impeachment
of the President, she again attempted to draw Ben out as to his
feelings on politics.
She waited in sickening fear and bristling pride for the first burst
of his anger which would mean their separation.
How do I feel? he asked. Don't feel at all. The surrender of
General Lee was an event so stunning, my mind has not yet staggered
past it. Nothing much can happen after that, so it don't matter.
Negro suffrage don't matter?
No. We can manage the negro, he said calmly.
With thousands of your own people disfranchised?
The negroes will vote with us, as they worked for us during the
war. If they give them the ballot, they'll wish they hadn't.
Ben looked at her tenderly, bent near, and whispered:
Don't waste your sweet breath talking about such things. My
politics is bounded on the North by a pair of amber eyes, on the South
by a dimpled little chin, on the East and West by a rosy cheek. Words
do not frame its speech. Its language is a mere sign, a pressure of the
lipsyet it thrills body and soul beyond all words.
Elsie leaned closer, and looking at the Capitol, said wistfully:
I don't believe you know anything that goes on in that big marble
Yes, I do.
What happened there yesterday?
You honoured it by putting your beautiful feet on its steps. I saw
the whole huge pile of cold marble suddenly glow with warm sunlight and
flash with beauty as you entered it.
The girl nestled still closer to his side, feeling her utter
helplessness in the rapids of the Niagara through which they were being
whirled by blind and merciless forces. For the moment she forgot all
fears in his nearness and the sweet pressure of his hand.
CHAPTER XI. THE SUPREME TEST
It is the glory of the American Republic that every man who has
filled the office of President has grown in stature when clothed with
its power and has proved himself worthy of its solemn trust. It is our
highest claim to the respect of the world and the vindication of man's
capacity to govern himself.
The impeachment of President Andrew Johnson would mark either the
lowest tide-mud of degradation to which the Republic could sink, or its
end. In this trial our system would be put to its severest strain. If a
partisan majority in Congress could remove the Executive and defy the
Supreme Court, stability to civic institutions was at an end, and the
breath of a mob would become the sole standard of law.
Congress had thrown to the winds the last shreds of decency in its
treatment of the Chief Magistrate. Stoneman led this campaign of
insult, not merely from feelings of personal hate, but because he saw
that thus the President's conviction before the Senate would become all
When his messages arrived from the White House they were thrown into
the waste-basket without being read, amid jeers, hisses, curses, and
In lieu of their reading, Stoneman would send to the Clerk's desk an
obscene tirade from a party newspaper, and the Clerk of the House would
read it amid the mocking groans, laughter, and applause of the floor
A favourite clipping described the President as an insolent drunken
brute, in comparison with whom Caligula's horse was respectable.
In the Senate, whose members were to sit as sworn judges to decide
the question of impeachment, Charles Sumner used language so vulgar
that he was called to order. Sustained by the Chair and the Senate, he
repeated it with increased violence, concluding with cold venom:
Andrew Johnson has become the successor of Jefferson Davis. In
holding him up to judgment I do not dwell on his beastly intoxication
the day he took the oath as Vice-president, nor do I dwell on his
maudlin speeches by which he has degraded the country, nor hearken to
the reports of pardons sold, or of personal corruption. These things
are bad. But he has usurped the powers of Congress.
Conover, the perjured wretch, in prison for his crimes as a
professional witness in the assassination trial, now circulated the
rumour that he could give evidence that President Johnson was the
assassin of Lincoln. Without a moment's hesitation, Stoneman's henchmen
sent a petition to the President for the pardon of this villain that he
might turn against the man who had pardoned him and swear his life
away! This scoundrel was borne in triumph from prison to the Capitol
and placed before the Impeachment Committee, to whom he poured out his
The sewers and prisons were dragged for every scrap of testimony to
be found, and the day for the trial approached.
As it drew nearer, excitement grew intense. Swarms of adventurers
expecting the overthrow of the Government crowded into Washington.
Dreams of honours, profits, and division of spoils held riot. Gamblers
thronged the saloons and gaming-houses, betting their gold on the
Stoneman found the business more serious than even his daring spirit
had dreamed. His health suddenly gave way under the strain, and he was
put to bed by his physician with the warning that the least excitement
would be instantly fatal.
Elsie entered the little Black House on the hill for the first time
since her trip at the age of twelve, some eight years before. She
installed an army nurse, took charge of the place, and ignored the
existence of the brown woman, refusing to speak to her or permit her to
enter her father's room.
His illness made it necessary to choose an assistant to conduct the
case before the High Court. There was but one member of the House whose
character and ability fitted him for the placeGeneral Benj. F.
Butler, of Massachusetts, whose name was enough to start a riot in any
assembly in America.
His selection precipitated a storm at the Capitol. A member leaped
to his feet on the floor of the House and shouted:
If I were to characterize all that is pusillanimous in war, inhuman
in peace, forbidden in morals, and corrupt in politics, I could name it
in one wordButlerism!
For this speech he was ordered to apologize, and when he refused
with scorn they voted that the Speaker publicly censure him. The
Speaker did so, but winked at the offender while uttering the censure.
John A. Bingham, of Ohio, who had been chosen for his powers of
oratory to make the principal speech against the President, rose in the
House and indignantly refused to serve on the Board of Impeachment with
such a man.
General Butler replied with crushing insolence:
It is true, Mr. Speaker, that I may have made an error of judgment
in trying to blow up Fort Fisher with a powder ship at sea. I did the
best I could with the talents God gave me. An angel could have done no
more. At least I bared my own breast in my country's defencea thing
the distinguished gentleman who insults me has not ventured to dohis
only claim to greatness being that, behind prison walls, on perjured
testimony, his fervid eloquence sent an innocent American mother
screaming to the gallows.
The fight was ended only by an order from the old Commoner's bed to
Bingham to shut his mouth and work with Butler. When the President had
been crushed, then they could settle Kilkenny-cat issues. Bingham
When the august tribunal assembled in the Senate Chamber, fifty-five
Senators, presided over by Salmon P. Chase, Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court, constituted the tribunal. They took their seats in a
semicircle in front of the Vice-president's desk at which the Chief
Justice sat. Behind them crowded the one hundred and ninety members of
the House of Representatives, the accusers of the ruler of the
mightiest Republic in human history. Every inch of space in the
galleries was crowded with brilliantly dressed men and women, army
officers in gorgeous uniforms, and the pomp and splendour of the
ministers of every foreign court of the world. In spectacular grandeur
no such scene was ever before witnessed in the annals of justice.
The peculiar personal appearance of General Butler, whose bald head
shone with insolence while his eye seemed to be winking over his record
as a warrior and making fun of his fellow-manager Bingham, added a
touch of humour to the solemn scene.
The magnificent head of the Chief Justice suggested strange thoughts
to the beholder. He had been summoned but the day before to try
Jefferson Davis for the treason of declaring the Southern States out of
the Union. To-day he sat down to try the President of the United States
for declaring them to be in the Union! He had protested with warmth
that he could not conduct both these trials at once.
The Chief Justice took oath to do impartial justice according to
the Constitution and the laws, and to the chagrin of Sumner
administered this oath to each Senator in turn. When Benjamin F. Wade's
name was called, Hendricks, of Indiana, objected to his sitting as
judge. He could succeed temporarily to the Presidency, as the presiding
officer of the Senate, and his own vote might decide the fate of the
accused and determine his own succession. The law forbids the
Vice-president to sit on such trials. It should apply with more vigour
in his case. Besides, he had without a hearing already pronounced the
Sumner, forgetting his motion to prevent Stockton's voting against
his own expulsion, flew to the defence of Wade. Hendricks smilingly
withdrew his objection, and Bluff Ben Wade took the oath and sat down
to judge his own cause with unruffled front.
When the case was complete, the whole bill of indictment stood forth
a tissue of stupid malignity without a shred of evidence to support its
On the last day of the trial, when the closing speeches were being
made, there was a stir at the door. The throng of men, packing every
inch of floor space, were pushed rudely aside. The crowd craned their
necks, Senators turned and looked behind them to see what the
disturbance meant, and the Chief Justice rapped for order.
Suddenly through the dense mass appeared the forms of two gigantic
negroes carrying an old man. His grim face, white and rigid, and his
big club foot hanging pathetically from those black arms, could not be
mistaken. A thrill of excitement swept the floor and galleries, and a
faint cheer rippled the surface, quickly suppressed by the gavel.
The negroes placed him in an armchair facing the semicircle of
Senators, and crouched down on their haunches beside him. Their kinky
heads, black skin, thick lips, white teeth, and flat noses made for the
moment a curious symbolic frame for the chalk-white passion of the old
No sculptor ever dreamed a more sinister emblem of the corruption of
a race of empire builders than this group. Its black figures, wrapped
in the night of four thousand years of barbarism, squatted there the
equal of their master, grinning at his forms of justice, the
evolution of forty centuries of Aryan genius. To their brute strength
the white fanatic in the madness of his hate had appealed, and for
their hire he had bartered the birthright of a mighty race of freemen.
The speaker hurried to his conclusion that the half-fainting master
might deliver his message. In the meanwhile his eyes, cold and
thrilling, sought the secrets of the souls of the judges before him.
He had not come to plead or persuade. He had eluded the vigilance of
his daughter and nurse, escaped with the aid of the brown woman and her
black allies, and at the peril of his life had come to command. Every
energy of his indomitable will he was using now to keep from fainting.
He felt that if he could but look those men in the face they would not
dare to defy his word.
He shambled painfully to his feet amid a silence that was awful.
Again the sheer wonder of the man's personality held the imagination of
the audience. His audacity, his fanaticism, and the strange
contradictions of his character stirred the mind of friend and foe
alikethis man who tottered there before them, holding off Death with
his big ugly left hand, while with his right he clutched at the throat
of his foe! Honest and dishonest, cruel and tender, great and mean, a
party leader who scorned public opinion, a man of conviction, yet the
most unscrupulous politician, a philosopher who preached the equality
of man, yet a tyrant who hated the world and despised all men!
His very presence before them an open defiance of love and life and
death, would not his word ring omnipotent when the verdict was
rendered? Every man in the great courtroom believed it as he looked on
the rows of Senators hanging on his lips.
He spoke at first with unnatural vigour, a faint flush of fever
lighting his white face, his voice quivering yet penetrating.
Upon that man among you who shall dare to acquit the President, he
boldly threatened, I hurl the everlasting curse of a Nationan infamy
that shall rive and blast his children's children until they shrink
from their own name as from the touch of pollution!
He gasped for breath, his restless hands fumbled at his throat, he
staggered and would have fallen had not his black guards caught him. He
revived, pushed them back on their haunches, and sat down. And then,
with his big club foot thrust straight in front of him, his gnarled
hands gripping the arms of his chair, the massive head shaking back and
forth like a wounded lion, he continued his speech, which grew in
fierce intensity with each laboured breath.
The effect was electrical. Every Senator leaned forward to catch the
lowest whisper, and so awful was the suspense in the galleries the
listeners grew faint.
When this last mad challenge was hurled into the teeth of the
judges, the dazed crowd paused for breath and the galleries burst into
a storm of applause.
In vain the Chief Justice rose, his lionlike face livid with anger,
pounded for order, and commanded the galleries to be cleared.
They laughed at him. Roar after roar was the answer. The Chief
Justice in loud angry tones ordered the Sergeant-at-Arms to clear the
Men leaned over the rail and shouted in his face:
He can't do it!
He hasn't got men enough!
Let him try if he dares!
The doorkeepers attempted to enforce order by announcing it in the
name of the peace and dignity and sovereign power of the Senate over
its sacred chamber. The crowd had now become a howling mob which jeered
Senator Grimes, of Iowa, rose and demanded the reason why the Senate
was thus insulted and the order had not been enforced.
A volley of hisses greeted his question.
The Chief Justice, evidently quite nervous, declared the order would
Senator Trumbull, of Illinois, moved that the offenders be arrested.
In reply the crowd yelled:
We'd like to see you do it!
At length the mob began to slowly leave the galleries under the
impression that the High Court had adjourned.
Suddenly a man cried out:
Hold on! They ain't going to adjourn. Let's see it out!
Hundreds took their seats again. In the corridors a crowd began to
sing in wild chorus:
Old Grimes is dead, that poor old man. The women joined with glee.
Between the verses the leader would curse the Iowa Senator as a traitor
and copperhead. The singing could be distinctly heard by the Court as
its roar floated through the open doors.
When the Senate Chamber had been cleared and the most disgraceful
scene that ever occurred within its portals had closed, the High Court
Impeachment went into secret session to consider the evidence and its
Within an hour from its adjournment it was known to the Managers
that seven Republican Senators were doubtful, and that they formed a
group under the leadership of two great constitutional lawyers who
still believed in the sanctity of a judge's oathLyman Trumbull, of
Illinois, and William Pitt Fessenden, of Maine. Around them had
gathered Senators Grimes, of Iowa, Van Winkle, of West Virginia,
Fowler, of Tennessee, Henderson, of Missouri, and Ross, of Kansas. The
Managers were in a panic. If these men dared to hold together with the
twelve Democrats, the President would be acquitted by one votethey
could count thirty-four certain for conviction.
The Revolutionists threw to the winds the last scruple of decency,
went into caucus and organized a conspiracy for forcing, within the few
days which must pass before the verdict, these judges to submit to
Fessenden and Trumbull were threatened with impeachment and
expulsion from the Senate and bombarded by the most furious assaults
from the press, which denounced them as infamous traitors, as mean,
repulsive, and noxious as hedgehogs in the cages of a travelling
A mass meeting was held in Washington which said:
Resolved, that we impeach Fessenden, Trumbull, and Grimes at the
bar of justice and humanity, as traitors before whose guilt the infamy
of Benedict Arnold becomes respectability and decency.
The Managers sent out a circular telegram to every State from which
came a doubtful judge:
Great danger to the peace of the country if impeachment fails. Send
your Senators public opinion by resolutions, letters, and delegates.
The man who excited most wrath was Ross, of Kansas. That Kansas of
all States should send a traitor was more than the spirits of the
Revolutionists could bear.
A mass meeting in Leavenworth accordingly sent him the telegram:
Kansas has heard the evidence and demands the conviction of the
D. R. Anthony and 1,000 others.
To this Ross replied:
I have taken an oath to do impartial justice. I trust I shall have
the courage and honesty to vote according to the dictates of my
judgment and for the highest good of my country.
He got his answer:
Your motives are Indian contracts and greenbacks. Kansas repudiates
you as she does all perjurers and skunks.
The Managers organized an inquisition for the purpose of torturing
and badgering Ross into submission. His one vote was all they lacked.
They laid siege to little Vinnie Ream, the sculptress, to whom
Congress had awarded a contract for the statue of Lincoln. Her studio
was in the crypt of the Capitol. They threatened her with the wrath of
Congress, the loss of her contract, and ruin of her career unless she
found a way to induce Senator Ross, whom she knew, to vote against the
Such an attempt to gain by fraud the verdict of a common court of
law would have sent its promoters to prison for felony. Yet the
Managers of this case, before the highest tribunal of the world, not
only did it without a blush of shame, but cursed as a traitor every man
who dared to question their motives.
As the day approached for the Court to vote, Senator Ross remained
to friend and foe a sealed mystery. Reporters swarmed about him, the
target of a thousand eyes. His rooms were besieged by his radical
constituents who had been imported from Kansas in droves to browbeat
him into a promise to convict. His movements day and night, his
breakfast, his dinner, his supper, the clothes he wore, the colour of
his cravat, his friends and companions, were chronicled in hourly
bulletins and flashed over the wires from the delirious Capital.
Chief Justice Chase called the High Court of Impeachment to order,
to render its verdict. Old Stoneman had again been carried to his chair
in the arms of two negroes, and sat with his cold eyes searching the
faces of the judges.
The excitement had reached the highest pitch of intensity. A sense
of choking solemnity brooded over the scene. The feeling grew that the
hour had struck which would test the capacity of man to establish an
The Clerk read the Eleventh Article, drawn by the Great Commoner as
the supreme test.
As its last words died away the Chief Justice rose amid a silence
that was agony, placed his hands on the sides of the desk as if to
steady himself, and said:
Call the roll.
Each Senator answered Guilty or Not Guilty, exactly as they had
been counted by the Managers, until Fessenden's name was called.
A moment of stillness and the great lawyer's voice rang high, cold,
clear, and resonant as a Puritan church bell on Sunday morning:
A murmur, half groan and sigh, half cheer and cry, rippled the great
The other votes were discounted now save that of Edmund G. Ross, of
Kansas. No human being on earth knew what this man would do save the
silent invisible man within his soul.
Over the solemn trembling silence the voice of the Chief Justice
Senator Ross, how say you? Is the respondent, Andrew Johnson,
guilty or not guilty of a high misdemeanor as charged in this article?
The great Judge bent forward; his brow furrowed as Ross arose.
His fellow Senators watched him spellbound. A thousand men and
women, hanging from the galleries, focused their eyes on him. Old
Stoneman drew his bristling brows down, watching him like an adder
ready to strike, his lower lip protruding, his jaws clinched as a vise,
his hands fumbling the arms of his chair.
Every breath is held, every ear strained, as the answer falls from
the sturdy Scotchman like the peal of a trumpet:
The crowd breathesa pause, a murmur, the shuffle of a thousand
The President is acquitted, and the Republic lives!
The House assembled and received the report of the verdict. Old
Stoneman pulled himself half erect, holding to his desk, addressed the
Speaker, introduced his second bill for the impeachment of the
President, and fell fainting in the arms of his black attendants.
CHAPTER XII. TRIUMPH IN DEFEAT
Upon the failure to convict the President, Edwin M. Stanton
resigned, sank into despair and died, and a soldier Secretary of War
opened the prison doors.
Ben Cameron and his father hurried Southward to a home and land
passing under a cloud darker than the dust and smoke of blood-soaked
battlefieldsthe Black Plague of Reconstruction.
For two weeks the old Commoner wrestled in silence with Death. When
at last he spoke, it was to the stalwart negroes who had called to see
him and were standing by his bedside.
Turning his deep-sunken eyes on them a moment, he said slowly:
I wonder whom I'll get to carry me when you boys die!
Elsie hurried to his side and kissed him tenderly. For a week his
mind hovered in the twilight that lies between time and eternity. He
seemed to forget the passions and fury of his fierce career and live
over the memories of his youth, recalling pathetically its bitter
poverty and its fair dreams. He would lie for hours and hold Elsie's
hand, pressing it gently.
In one of his lucid moments he said:
How beautiful you are, my child! You shall be a queen. I've dreamed
of boundless wealth for you and my boy. My plans are Napoleonicand I
shall not failnever fearaye, beyond the dreams of avarice!
I wish no wealth save the heart treasure of those I love, father,
was the soft answer.
Of course, little day-dreamer. But the old cynic who has outlived
himself and knows the mockery of time and things will be wisdom for
your foolishness. You shall keep your toys. What pleases you shall
please me. Yet I will be wise for us both.
She laid her hand upon his lips, and he kissed the warm little
In these days of soul-nearness the iron heart softened as never
before in love toward his children. Phil had hurried home from the West
and secured his release from the remaining weeks of his term of
As the father lay watching them move about the room, the cold light
in his deep-set wonderful eyes would melt into a soft glow.
As he grew stronger, the old fierce spirit of the unconquered leader
began to assert itself. He would take up the fight where he left it off
and carry it to victory.
Elsie and Phil sent the doctor to tell him the truth and beg him to
Your work is done; you have but three months to live unless you go
South and find new life, was the verdict.
In either event I go to a warmer climate, eh, doctor? said the
Perhaps, was the laughing reply.
Good. It suits me better. I've had the move in mind. I can do more
effective work in the South for the next two years. Your decision is
fate. I'll go at once.
The doctor was taken aback.
Come now, he said persuasively. Let a disinterested Englishman
give you some advice. You've never taken any before. I give it as
medicine, and I won't put it on your bill. Slow down on politics. Your
recent defeat should teach you a lesson in conservatism.
The old Commoner's powerful mouth became rigid, and the lower lip
Defeat? cried the old man. Who said I was defeated? The South
lies in ashes at my feetthe very names of her proud States blotted
from history. The Supreme Court awaits my nod. True, there's a man
boarding in the White House, and I vote to pay his bills; but the page
who answers my beck and call has more power. Every measure on which
I've set my heart is law, save onemy Confiscation Actand this but
waits the fulness of time.
The doctor, who was walking back and forth with his hands folded
behind him, paused and said:
I marvel that a man of your personal integrity could conceive such
a measure; you, who refused to accept the legal release of your debts
until the last farthing was paidyou, whose cruelty of the lip is
hideous, and yet beneath it so gentle a personality, I've seen the
pages in the House stand at your back and mimic you while speaking,
secure in the smile with which you turned to greet their fun. And yet
you press this crime upon a brave and generous foe?
A wrong can have no rights, said Stoneman calmly. Slavery will
not be dead until the landed aristocracy on which it rested is
destroyed. I am not cruel or unjust. I am but fulfilling the largest
vision of universal democracy that ever stirred the soul of mana
democracy that shall know neither rich nor poor, bond nor free, white
nor black. If I use the wild pulse-beat of the rage of millions, it is
only a means to an endthis grander vision of the soul.
Then why not begin at home this vision, and give the stricken South
a moment to rise?
No. The North is impervious to change, rich, proud, and unscathed
by war. The South is in chaos and cannot resist. It is but the justice
and wisdom of Heaven that the negro shall rule the land of his bondage.
It is the only solution of the race problem. Lincoln's contention that
we could not live half white and half black is sound at the core. When
we proclaim equality, social, political, and economic for the negro, we
mean always to enforce it in the South. The negro will never be treated
as an equal in the North. We are simply a set of cold-blooded liars on
that subject, and always have been. To the Yankee the very physical
touch of a negro is pollution.
Then you don't believe this twaddle about equality? asked the
Yes and no. Mankind in the large is a herd of mercenary gudgeons or
fools. As a lawyer in Pennsylvania I have defended fifty murderers on
trial for their lives. Forty-nine of them were guilty. All these I
succeeded in acquitting. One of them was innocent. This one they hung.
Can a man keep his face straight in such a world? Could negro blood
degrade such stock? Might not an ape improve it? I preach equality as a
poet and seer who sees a vision beyond the rim of the horizon of
The old man's eyes shone with the set stare of a fanatic.
And you think the South is ready for this wild vision?
Not ready, but helpless to resist. As a cold-blooded, scientific
experiment, I mean to give the Black Man one turn at the Wheel of Life.
It is an act of just retribution. Besides, in my plans I need his vote;
and that settles it.
But will your plans work? Your own reports show serious trouble in
the South already.
I never read my own reports. They are printed in molasses to catch
flies. The Southern legislatures played into my hands by copying the
laws of New England relating to Servants, Masters, Apprentices, and
Vagrants. But even these were repealed at the first breath of
criticism. Neither the Freedman's Bureau nor the army has ever loosed
its grip on the throat of the South for a moment. These disturbances
and 'atrocities' are dangerous only when printed on campaign
And how will you master and control these ten great Southern
Through my Reconstruction Acts by means of the Union League. As a
secret between us, I am the soul of this order. I organized it in 1863
to secure my plan of confiscation. We pressed it on Lincoln. He
repudiated it. We nominated Frémont at Cleveland against Lincoln in
'64, and tried to split the party or force Lincoln to retire. Frémont,
a conceited ass, went back on this plank in our platform, and we
dropped him and helped elect Lincoln again.
I thought the Union League a patriotic and social organization?
said the doctor in surprise.
It has these features, but its sole aim as a secret order is to
confiscate the property of the South. I will perfect this mighty
organization until every negro stands drilled in serried line beneath
its banners, send a solid delegation here to do my bidding, and return
at the end of two years with a majority so overwhelming that my word
will be law. I will pass my Confiscation Bill. If Ulysses S. Grant, the
coming idol, falters, my second bill of Impeachment will only need the
change of a name.
The doctor shook his head.
Give up this madness. Your life is hanging by a thread. The
Southern people even in their despair will never drink this black broth
you are pressing to their lips.
They've got to drink it.
Your decision is unalterable?
Absolutely. It's the breath I breathe. As my physician you may
select the place to which I shall be banished. It must be reached by
rail and wire. I care not its name or size. I'll make it the capital of
the Nation. There'll be poetic justice in setting up my establishment
in a fallen slaveholder's mansion.
The doctor looked intently at the old man:
The study of men has become a sort of passion with me, but you are
the deepest mystery I've yet encountered in this land of surprises.
And why? asked the cynic.
Because the secret of personality resides in motives, and I can't
find yours either in your actions or words.
Stoneman glanced at him sharply from beneath his wrinkled brows and
Keep on guessing.
I will. In the meantime I'm going to send you to the village of
Piedmont, South Carolina. Your son and daughter both seem enthusiastic
over this spot.
Good; that settles it. And now that mine own have been conspiring
against me, said Stoneman confidentially, a little guile on my part.
Not a word of what has passed between us to my children. Tell them I
agree with your plans and give up my work. I'll give the same story to
the pressI wish nothing to mar their happiness while in the South. My
secret burdens need not cloud their young lives.
Dr. Barnes took the old man by the hand:
I promise. My assistant has agreed to go with you. I'll say
good-bye. It's an inspiration to look into a face like yours, lit by
the splendour of an unconquerable will! But I want to say something to
you before you set out on this journey.
Out with it, said the Commoner.
The breed to which the Southern white man belongs has conquered
every foot of soil on this earth their feet have pressed for a thousand
years. A handful of them hold in subjection three hundred millions in
India. Place a dozen of them in the heart of Africa, and they will rule
the continent unless you kill them
Wait, cried Stoneman, until I put a ballot in the hand of every
negro and a bayonet at the breast of every white man from the James to
the Rio Grande!
I'll tell you a little story, said the doctor with a smile. I
once had a half-grown eagle in a cage in my yard. The door was left
open one day, and a meddlesome rooster hopped in to pick a fight. The
eagle had been sick a week and seemed an easy mark. I watched. The
rooster jumped and wheeled and spurred and picked pieces out of his
topknot. The young eagle didn't know at first what he meant. He walked
around dazed, with a hurt expression. When at last it dawned on him
what the chicken was about, he simply reached out one claw, took the
rooster by the neck, planted the other claw in his breast, and snatched
his head off.
The old man snapped his massive jaws together and grunted
Book IIIThe Reign of Terror
CHAPTER I. A FALLEN SLAVEHOLDER'S
Piedmont, South Carolina, which Elsie and Phil had selected for
reasons best known to themselves as the place of retreat for their
father, was a favourite summer resort of Charleston people before the
Ulster county, of which this village was the capital, bordered on
the North Carolina line, lying alongside the ancient shore of York. It
was settled by the Scotch folk who came from the North of Ireland in
the great migrations which gave America three hundred thousand people
of Covenanter martyr blood, the largest and most important addition to
our population, larger in number than either the Puritans of New
England or the so-called Cavaliers of Virginia and Eastern Carolina;
and far more important than either, in the growth of American
To a man they had hated Great Britain. Not a Tory was found among
them. The cries of their martyred dead were still ringing in their
souls when George III started on his career of oppression. The fiery
words of Patrick Henry, their spokesman in the valley of Virginia, had
swept the aristocracy of the Old Dominion into rebellion against the
King and on into triumphant Democracy. They had made North Carolina the
first home of freedom in the New World, issued the first Declaration of
Independence in Mecklenburg, and lifted the first banner of rebellion
against the tyranny of the Crown.
They grew to the soil wherever they stopped, always home lovers and
home builders, loyal to their own people, instinctive clan leaders and
clan followers. A sturdy, honest, covenant-keeping, God-fearing,
fighting people, above all things they hated sham and pretence. They
never boasted of their families, though some of them might have
quartered the royal arms of Scotland on their shields.
To these sturdy qualities had been added a strain of Huguenot
tenderness and vivacity.
The culture of cotton as the sole industry had fixed African slavery
as their economic system. With the heritage of the Old World had been
blended forces inherent in the earth and air of the new Southland,
something of the breath of its unbroken forests, the freedom of its
untrod mountains, the temper of its sun, and the sweetness of its
When Mrs. Cameron received Elsie's letter, asking her to secure for
them six good rooms at the Palmetto hotel, she laughed. The big
rambling hostelry had been burned by roving negroes, pigs were
wallowing in the sulphur springs, and along its walks, where lovers of
olden days had strolled, the cows were browsing on the shrubbery.
But she laughed for a more important reason. They had asked for a
six-room cottage if accommodations could not be had in the hotel.
She could put them in the Lenoir place. The cotton crop from their
farm had been stolen from the ginthe cotton tax of $200 could not be
paid, and a mortgage was about to be foreclosed on both their farm and
home. She had been brooding over their troubles in despair. The
Stonemans' coming was a godsend.
Mrs. Cameron was helping them set the house in order to receive the
I declare, said Mrs. Lenoir gratefully. It seems too good to be
true. Just as I was about to give upthe first time in my lifehere
came those rich Yankees and with enough rent to pay the interest on the
mortgages and our board at the hotel. I'll teach Margaret to paint, and
she can give Marion lessons on the piano. The darkest hour's just
before day. And last week I cried when they told me I must lose the
I was heartsick over it for you.
You know, the farm was my dowry with the dozen slaves Papa gave us
on our wedding-day. The negroes did as they pleased, yet we managed to
live and were very happy.
Marion entered and placed a bouquet of roses on the table, touching
them daintily until she stood each flower apart in careless splendour.
Their perfume, the girl's wistful dreamy blue eyes and shy elusive
beauty, all seemed a part of the warm sweet air of the June morning.
Mrs. Lenoir watched her lovingly.
Mamma, I'm going to put flowers in every room. I'm sure they
haven't such lovely ones in Washington, said Marion eagerly, as she
The two women moved to the open window, through which came the drone
of bees and the distant music of the river falls.
Marion's greatest charm, whispered her mother, is in her way of
doing things easily and gently without a trace of effort. Watch her
bend over to get that rose. Did you ever see anything like the grace
and symmetry of her figureshe seems a living flower!
Jeannie, you're making an idol of her
Why not? With all our troubles and poverty, I'm rich in her! She's
fifteen years old, her head teeming with romance. You know, I was
married at fifteen. There'll be a half dozen boys to see her to-night
in our new homeall of them head over heels in love with her.
Oh, Jeannie, you must not be so silly! We should worship God only.
Isn't she God's message to me and to the world?
But if anything should happen to her
The young mother laughed. I never think of it. Some things are
fixed. Her happiness and beauty are to me the sign of God's presence.
Well, I'm glad you're coming to live with us in the heart of town.
This place is a cosey nest, just such a one as a poet lover would build
here in the edge of these deep woods, but it is too far out for you to
be alone. Dr. Cameron has been worrying about you ever since he came
I'm not afraid of the negroes. I don't know one of them who
wouldn't go out of his way to do me a favour. Old Aleck is the only
rascal I know among them, and he's too busy with politics now even to
steal a chicken.
And Gus, the young scamp we used to own; you haven't forgotten him?
He is back here, a member of the company of negro troops, and parades
before the house every day to show off his uniform. Dr. Cameron told
him yesterday he'd thrash him if he caught him hanging around the place
again. He frightened Margaret nearly to death when she went to the barn
to feed her horse.
I've never known the meaning of fear. We used to roam the woods and
fields together all hours of the day and night: my lover, Marion, and
I. This panic seems absurd to me.
Well, I'll be glad to get you two children under my wing. I was
afraid I'd find you in tears over moving from your nest.
No, where Marion is I'm at home, and I'll feel I've a mother when I
get with you.
Will you come to the hotel before they arrive?
No; I'll welcome and tell them how glad I am they have brought me
I'm delighted, Jeannie. I wished you to do this, but I couldn't ask
it. I can never do enough for this old man's daughter. We must make
their stay happy. They say he's a terrible old Radical politician, but
I suppose he's no meaner than the others. He's very ill, and she loves
him devotedly. He is coming here to find health, and not to insult us.
Besides, he was kind to me. He wrote a letter to the President. Nothing
that I have will be too good for him or for his. It's very brave and
sweet of you to stay and meet them.
I'm doing it to please Marion. She suggested it last night, sitting
out on the porch in the twilight. She slipped her arm around me and
'Mamma, we must welcome them and make them feel at home. He is very
ill. They will be tired and homesick. Suppose it were you and I, and we
were taking my Papa to a strange place.'
* * * * *
When the Stonemans arrived, the old man was too ill and nervous from
the fatigue of the long journey to notice his surroundings or to be
conscious of the restful beauty of the cottage into which they carried
him. His room looked out over the valley of the river for miles, and
the glimpse he got of its broad fertile acres only confirmed his ideas
of the slaveholding oligarchy it was his life-purpose to crush. Over
the mantel hung a steel engraving of Calhoun. He fell asleep with his
deep, sunken eyes resting on it and a cynical smile playing about his
Margaret and Mrs. Cameron had met the Stonemans and their physician
at the train, and taken Elsie and her father in the old weather-beaten
family carriage to the Lenoir cottage, apologising for Ben's absence.
He has gone to Nashville on some important legal business, and the
doctor is ailing, but as the head of the clan Cameron he told me to
welcome your father to the hospitality of the county, and beg him to
let us know if he could be of help.
The old man, who sat in a stupor of exhaustion, made no response,
and Elsie hastened to say:
We appreciate your kindness more than I can tell you, Mrs. Cameron.
I trust father will be better in a day or two, when he will thank you.
The trip has been more than he could bear.
I am expecting Ben home this week, the mother whispered. I need
not tell you that he will be delighted at your coming.
Elsie smiled and blushed.
And I'll expect Captain Stoneman to see me very soon, said
Margaret softly. You will not forget to tell him for me?
He's a very retiring young man, said Elsie, and pretends to be
busy about our baggage just now. I'm sure he will find the way.
Elsie fell in love at sight with Marion and her mother. Their easy
genial manners, the genuineness of their welcome, and the simple
kindness with which they sought to make her feel at home put her heart
into a warm glow.
Mrs. Lenoir explained the conveniences of the place and apologized
for its defects, the results of the war.
I am sorry about the window curtainswe have used them all for
dresses. Marion is a genius with a needle, and we took the last pair
out of the parlour to make a dress for a birthday party. The year
before, we used the ones in my room for a costume at a starvation party
in a benefit for our rectoryou know we're Episcopaliansstrayed up
here for our health from Charleston among these good Scotch
We will soon place curtains at the windows, said Elsie cheerfully.
The carpets were sent to the soldiers for blankets during the war.
It was all we could do for our poor boys, except to cut my hair and
sell it. You see my hair hasn't grown out yet. I sent it to Richmond
the last year of the war. I felt I must do something when my neighbours
were giving so much. You know Mrs. Cameron lost four boys.
I prefer the floors bare, Elsie replied. We will get a few rugs.
She looked at the girlish hair hanging in ringlets about Mrs.
Lenoir's handsome face, smiled pathetically, and asked:
Did you really make such sacrifices for your cause?
Yes, indeed. I was glad when the war was ended for some things. We
certainly needed a few pins, needles, and buttons, to say nothing of a
cup of coffee or tea.
I trust you will never lack for anything again, said Elsie kindly.
You will bring us good luck, Mrs. Lenoir responded. Your coming
is so fortunate. The cotton tax Congress levied was so heavy this year
we were going to lose everything. Such a tax when we are all about to
starve! Dr. Cameron says it was an act of stupid vengeance on the
South, and that no other farmers in America have their crops taxed by
the National Government. I am so glad your father has come. He is not
hunting for an office. He can help us, maybe.
I am sure he will, answered Elsie thoughtfully.
Marion ran up the steps lightly, her hair dishevelled and face
Now, Mamma, it's almost sundown; you get ready to go. I want her
awhile to show her about my things.
She took Elsie shyly by the hand and led her into the lawn, while
her mother paid a visit to each room, and made up the last bundle of
odds and ends she meant to carry to the hotel.
I hope you will love the place as we do, said the girl simply.
I think it very beautiful and restful, Elsie replied. This
wilderness of flowers looks like fairyland. You have roses running on
the porch around the whole length of the house.
Yes, Papa was crazy over the trailing roses, and kept planting them
until the house seems just a frame built to hold them, with a roof on
it. But you can see the river through the arches from three sides. Ben
Cameron helped me set that big beauty on the south corner the day he
ran away to the war
The view is glorious! Elsie exclaimed, looking in rapture over the
The village of Piedmont crowned an immense hill on the banks of the
Broad River, just where it dashes over the last stone barrier in a
series of beautiful falls and spreads out in peaceful glory through the
plains toward Columbia and the distant sea. The muffled roar of these
falls, rising softly through the trees on its wooded cliff, held the
daily life of the people in the spell of distant music. In fair weather
it soothed and charmed, and in storm and freshet rose to the deep
solemn growl of thunder.
The river made a sharp bend as it emerged from the hills and flowed
westward for six miles before it turned south again. Beyond this
six-mile sweep of its broad channel loomed the three ranges of the Blue
Ridge Mountains, the first one dark, rich, distinct, clothed in eternal
green, the last one melting in dim lines into the clouds and soft azure
of the sky.
As the sun began to sink now behind these distant peaks, each cloud
that hung about them burst into a blazing riot of colour. The silver
mirror of the river caught their shadows, and the water glowed in
As Elsie drank the beauty of the scene, the music of the falls
ringing its soft accompaniment, her heart went out in a throb of love
and pity for the land and its people.
Can you blame us for loving such a spot? said Marion. It's far
more beautiful from the cliff at Lover's Leap. I'll take you there some
day. My father used to tell me that this world was Heaven, and that the
spirits would all come back to live here when sin and shame and strife
Are your father's poems published? asked Elsie.
Only in the papers. We have them clipped and pasted in a scrapbook.
I'll show you the one about Ben Cameron some day. You met him in
Washington, didn't you?
Yes, said Elsie quietly.
Then I know he made love to you.
You're so pretty. He couldn't help it.
Does he make love to every pretty girl?
Always. It's his religion. But he does it so beautifully you can't
help believing it, until you compare notes with the other girls.
Did he make love to you?
He broke my heart when he ran away. I cried a whole week. But I got
over it. He seemed so big and grown when he came home this last time. I
was afraid to let him kiss me.
Did he dare to try?
No, and it hurt my feelings. You see, I'm not quite old enough to
be serious with the big boys, and he looked so brave and handsome with
that ugly scar on the edge of his forehead, and everybody was so proud
of him. I was just dying to kiss him, and I thought it downright mean
in him not to offer it.
Would you have let him?
I expected him to try.
He is very popular in Piedmont?
Every girl in town is in love with him.
And he in love with all?
He pretends to bebut between us, he's a great flirt. He's gone to
Nashville now on some pretended business. Goodness only knows where he
got the money to go. I believe there's a girl there.
Because he was so mysterious about his trip. I'll keep an eye on
him at the hotel. You know Margaret, too, don't you?
Yes; we met her in Washington.
Well, she's the slyest flirt in townit runs in the bloodhas a
half-dozen beaux to see her every day. She plays the organ in the
Presbyterian Sunday school, and the young minister is dead in love with
her. They say they are engaged. I don't believe it. I think it's
another one. But I must hurry, I've so much to show and tell you. Come
here to the honeysuckle
Marion drew the vines apart from the top of the fence and revealed a
mocking-bird on her nest.
She's setting. Don't let anything hurt her. I'd push her off and
show you her speckled eggs, but it's so late.
Oh, I wouldn't hurt her for the world! cried Elsie with delight.
And right here, said Marion, bending gracefully over a tall bunch
of grass, is a pee-wee's nest, four darling little eggs; look out for
Elsie bent and saw the pretty nest perched on stems of grass, and
over it the taller leaves drawn to a point.
Isn't it cute! she murmured.
Yes; I've six of these and three mocking-bird nests. I'll show them
to you. But the most particular one of all is the wren's nest in the
fork of the cedar, close to the house.
She led Elsie to the tree, and about two feet from the ground, in
the forks of the trunk, was a tiny hole from which peeped the eyes of a
Whatever you do, don't let anything hurt her. Her mate sings '
Free-nigger! Free-nigger! Free-nigger!' every morning in this
And you think we will specially enjoy that? asked Elsie, laughing.
Now, really, cried Marion, taking Elsie's hand, you know I
couldn't think of such a mean joke. I forgot you were from the North.
You seem so sweet and homelike. He really does sing that way. You will
hear him in the morning, bright and early, 'Free-nigger!
Free-nigger! Free-nigger!' just as plain as I'm saying it.
And did you learn to find all these birds' nests by yourself?
Papa taught me. I've got some jay-birds and some cat-birds so
gentle they hop right down at my feet. Some people hate jay-birds. But
I like them, they seem to be having such a fine time and enjoy life so.
You don't mind jay-birds, do you?
I love every bird that flies.
Except hawks and owls and buzzards
Well, I've seen so few I can't say I've anything particular against
Yes, they eat chickensexcept the buzzards, and they're so ugly
and filthy. Now, I've a chicken to show youplease don't let Aunt
Cindyshe's to be your cookplease don't let her kill himhe's
crippledhas something the matter with his foot. He was born that way.
Everybody wanted to kill him, but I wouldn't let them. I've had an
awful time raising him, but he's all right now.
Marion lifted a box and showed her the lame pet, softly clucking his
protest against the disturbance of his rest.
I'll take good care of him, never fear, said Elsie, with a
tremor in her voice.
And I have a queer little black cat I wanted to show you, but he's
gone off somewhere. I'd take him with meonly it's bad luck to move
cats. He's awful wildwon't let anybody pet him but me. Mamma says
he's an imp of Satanbut I love him. He runs up a tree when anybody
else tries to get him. But he climbs right up on my shoulder. I never
loved any cat quite as well as this silly, half-wild one. You don't
mind black cats, do you?
No, dear; I like cats.
Then I know you'll be good to him.
Is that all? asked Elsie, with amused interest.
No, I've the funniest yellow dog that comes here at night to pick
up the scraps and things. He isn't my dogjust a little personal
friend of minebut I like him very much, and always give him
something. He's very cute. I think he's a nigger dog.
A nigger dog? What's that?
He belongs to some coloured people, who don't give turn enough to
eat. I love him because he's so faithful to his own folks. He comes to
see me at night and pretends to love me, but as soon as I feed him he
trots back home. When he first came, I laughed till I cried at his
antics over a carpetwe had a carpet then. He never saw one before,
and barked at the colours and the figures in the pattern. Then he'd lie
down and rub his back on it and growl. You won't let anybody hurt him?
No. Are there any others?
Yes, I 'most forgot. If Sam Ross comesSam's an idiot who lives at
the poorhouseif he comes, he'll expect a dinnermy, my, I'm afraid
he'll cry when he finds we're not here! But you can send him to the
hotel to me. Don't let Aunt Cindy speak rough to him. Aunt Cindy's
awfully good to me, but she can't bear Sam. She thinks he brings bad
How on earth did you meet him?
His father was rich. He was a good friend of my Papa's. We came
near losing our farm once, because a bank failed. Mr. Ross sent Papa a
signed check on his own bank, and told him to write the amount he
needed on it, and pay him when he was able. Papa cried over it, and
wouldn't use it, and wrote a poem on the back of the checkone of the
sweetest of all, I think. In the war Mr. Ross lost his two younger
sons, both killed at Gettysburg. His wife died heartbroken, and he only
lived a year afterward. He sold his farm for Confederate money and
everything was lost. Sam was sent to the poorhouse. He found out
somehow that we loved him and comes to see us. He's as harmless as a
kitten, and works in the garden beautifully.
I'll remember, Elsie promised.
And one thing more, she said hesitatingly. Mamma asked me to
speak to you of thisthat's why she slipped away. There one little
room we have locked. It was Papa's study just as he left it, with his
papers scattered on the desk, the books and pictures that he lovedyou
Elsie slipped her arm about Marion, looked into the blue eyes, dim
with tears, drew her close and said:
It shall be sacred, my child. You must come every day if possible,
and help me.
I will. I've so many beautiful places to show you in the
woodsplaces he loved, and taught us to see and love. They won't let
me go in the woods any more alone. But you have a big brother. That
must be very sweet.
Mrs. Lenoir hurried to Elsie.
Come, Marion, we must be going now.
I am very sorry to see you leave the home you love so dearly, Mrs.
Lenoir, said the Northern girl, taking her extended hand. I hope you
can soon find a way to have it back.
Thank you, replied the mother cheerily. The longer you stay, the
better for us. You don't know how happy I am over your coming. It has
lifted a load from our hearts. In the liberal rent you pay us you are
our benefactors. We are very grateful and happy.
Elsie watched them walk across the lawn to the street, the daughter
leaning on the mother's arm. She followed slowly and stopped behind one
of the arbor-vitæ bushes beside the gate. The full moon had risen as
the twilight fell and flooded the scene with soft white light. A
whippoorwill struck his first plaintive note, his weird song seeming to
come from all directions and yet to be under her feet. She heard the
rustle of dresses returning along the walk, and Marion and her mother
stood at the gate. They looked long and tenderly at the house. Mrs.
Lenoir uttered a broken sob, Marion slipped an arm around her, brushed
the short curling hair back from her forehead, and softly said:
Mamma, dear, you know it's best. I don't mind. Everybody in town
loves us. Every boy and girl in Piedmont worships you. We will be just
as happy at the hotel.
In the pauses between the strange bird's cry, Elsie caught the sound
of another sob, and then a soothing murmur as of a mother bending over
a cradle, and they were gone.
CHAPTER II. THE EYES OF THE JUNGLE
Elsie stood dreaming for a moment in the shadow of the arbor-vitæ,
breathing the sensuous perfumed air and listening to the distant music
of the falls, her heart quivering in pity for the anguish of which she
had been a witness. Again the spectral cry of the whippoorwill rang
near-by, and she noted for the first time the curious cluck with which
the bird punctuated each call. A sense of dim foreboding oppressed her.
She wondered if the chatter of Marion about the girl in Nashville
were only a child's guess or more. She laughed softly at the absurdity
of the idea. Never since she had first looked into Ben Cameron's face
did she feel surer of the honesty and earnestness of his love than
to-day in this quiet home of his native village. It must be the queer
call of the bird which appealed to superstitions she did not know were
hidden within her being.
Still dreaming under its spell, she was startled at the tread of two
men approaching the gate.
The taller, more powerful-looking man put his hand on the latch and
Allow no white man to order you around. Remember you are a freeman
and as good as any pale-face who walks this earth.
She recognized the voice of Silas Lynch.
Ben Cameron dare me to come about de house, said the other voice.
What did he say?
He say, wid his eyes batten' des like lightnen', 'Ef I ketch you
hangin' 'roun' dis place agin', Gus, I'll jump on you en stomp de life
Well, you tell him that your name is Augustus, not 'Gus,' and that
the United States troops quartered in this town will be with him soon
after the stomping begins. You wear its uniform. Give the white trash
in this town to understand that they are not even citizens of the
nation. As a sovereign voter, you, once their slave, are not only their
equalyou are their master.
Dat I will! was the firm answer.
The negro to whom Lynch spoke disappeared in the direction taken by
Marion and her mother, and the figure of the handsome mulatto passed
rapidly up the walk, ascended the steps and knocked at the door.
Elsie followed him.
My father is too much fatigued with his journey to be seen now; you
must call to-morrow, she said.
The negro lifted his hat and bowed:
Ah, we are delighted to welcome you, Miss Stoneman, to our land!
Your father asked me to call immediately on his arrival. I have but
obeyed his orders.
Elsie shrank from the familiarity of his manner and the tones of
authority and patronage with which he spoke.
He cannot be seen at this hour, she answered shortly.
Perhaps you will present my card, thensay that I am at his
service, and let him appoint the time at which I shall return?
She did not invite him in, but with easy assurance he took his seat
on the joggle-board beside the door and awaited her return.
Against her urgent protest, Stoneman ordered Lynch to be shown at
once to his bedroom.
When the door was closed, the old Commoner, without turning to greet
his visitor or moving his position in bed, asked:
Are you following my instructions?
To the letter, sir.
You are initiating the negroes into the League and teaching them
the new catechism?
With remarkable success. Its secrecy and ritual appeal to them.
Within six months we shall have the whole race under our control almost
to a man.
Almost to a man?
We find some so attached to their former masters that reason is
impossible with them. Even threats and the promise of forty acres of
land have no influence.
The old man snorted with contempt.
If anything could reconcile me to the Satanic Institution it is the
character of the wretches who submit to it and kiss the hand that
strikes. After all, a slave deserves to be a slave. The man who is mean
enough to wear chains ought to wear them. You must teach, teach,
TEACH these black hounds to know they are men, not brutes!
The old man paused a moment, and his restless hands fumbled the
Your first task, as I told you in the beginning, is to teach every
negro to stand erect in the presence of his former master and assert
his manhood. Unless he does this, the South will bristle with bayonets
in vain. The man who believes he is a dog, is one. The man who believes
himself a king, may become one. Stop this snivelling and sneaking round
the back doors. I can do nothing, God Almighty can do nothing, for a
coward. Fix this as the first law of your own life. Lift up your head!
The world is yours. Take it. Beat this into the skulls of your people,
if you do it with an axe. Teach them the military drill at once. I'll
see that Washington sends the guns. The state, when under your control,
can furnish the powder.
It will surprise you to know the thoroughness with which this has
been done already by the League, said Lynch. The white master
believed he could vote the negro as he worked him in the fields during
the war. The League, with its blue flaming altar, under the shadows of
night, has wrought a miracle. The negro is the enemy of his former
master and will be for all time.
For the present, said the old man meditatively, not a word to a
living soul as to my connection with this work. When the time is ripe,
I'll show my hand.
Elsie entered, protesting against her father's talking longer, and
showed Lynch to the door.
He paused on the moonlit porch and tried to engage her in familiar
She cut him short, and he left reluctantly.
As he bowed his thick neck in pompous courtesy, she caught with a
shiver the odour of pomade on his black half-kinked hair. He stopped on
the lower step, looked back with smiling insolence, and gazed intently
at her beauty. The girl shrank from the gleam of the jungle in his eyes
and hurried within.
She found her father sunk in a stupor. Her cry brought the young
surgeon hurrying into the room, and at the end of an hour he said to
Elsie and Phil:
He has had a stroke of paralysis. He may lie in mental darkness for
months and then recover. His heart action is perfect. Patience, care,
and love will save him. There is no cause for immediate alarm.
CHAPTER III. AUGUSTUS CÆSAR
Phil early found the home of the Camerons the most charming spot in
town. As he sat in the old-fashioned parlour beside Margaret, his brain
seethed with plans for building a hotel on a large scale on the other
side of the Square and restoring her home intact.
The Cameron homestead was a large brick building with an ample porch
looking out directly on the Court House Square, standing in the middle
of a lawn full of trees, flowers, shrubbery, and a wilderness of
evergreen boxwood planted fifty years before. It was located on the
farm from which it had always derived its support. The farm extended up
into the village itself, with the great barn easily seen from the
Phil was charmed with the doctor's genial personality. He often
found the father a decidedly easier person to get along with than his
handsome daughter. The Rev. Hugh McAlpin was a daily caller, and
Margaret had a tantalizing way of showing her deference to his
Phil hated this preacher from the moment he laid eyes on him. His
pugnacious piety he might have endured but for the fact that he was
good-looking and eloquent. When he rose in the pulpit in all his sacred
dignity, fixed his eyes on Margaret, and began in tenderly modulated
voice to tell about the love of God, Phil clinched his fist. He didn't
care to join the Presbyterian church, but he quietly made up his mind
that, if it came to the worst and she asked him, he would join
anything. What made him furious was the air of assurance with which the
young divine carried himself about Margaret, as if he had but to say
the word and it would be fixed as by a decree issued from before the
foundations of the world.
He was pleased and surprised to find that his being a Yankee made no
difference in his standing or welcome. The people seemed unconscious of
the part his father played at Washington. Stoneman's Confiscation Bill
had not yet been discussed in Congress, and the promise of land to the
negroes was universally regarded as a hoax of the League to win their
followers. The old Commoner was not an orator. Hence his name was
scarcely known in the South. The Southern people could not conceive of
a great leader except one who expressed his power through the megaphone
of oratory. They held Charles Sumner chiefly responsible for
The fact that Phil was a Yankee who had no axe to grind in the South
caused the people to appeal to him in a pathetic way that touched his
heart. He had not been in town two weeks before he was on good terms
with every youngster, had the entrée to every home, and Ben had taken
him, protesting vehemently, to see every pretty girl there. He found
that, in spite of war and poverty, troubles present and troubles to
come, the young Southern woman was the divinity that claimed and
received the chief worship of man.
The tremendous earnestness with which these youngsters pursued the
work of courting, all of them so poor they scarcely had enough to eat,
amazed and alarmed him beyond measure. He found in several cases as
many as four making a dead set for one girl, as if heaven and earth
depended on the outcome, while the girl seemed to receive it all as a
matter of courseher just tribute.
Every instinct of his quiet reserved nature revolted at any such
attempt to rush his cause with Margaret, and yet it made the cold
chills run down his spine to see that Presbyterian preacher drive his
buggy up to the hotel, take her to ride, and stay three hours. He knew
where they had goneto Lover's Leap and along the beautiful road which
led to the North Carolina line. He knew the wayMargaret had showed
him. This road was the Way of Romance. Every farmhouse, cabin, and
shady nook along its beaten track could tell its tale of lovers fleeing
from the North to find happiness in the haven of matrimony across the
line in South Carolina. Everything seemed to favour marriage in this
climate. The state required no license. A legal marriage could be
celebrated, anywhere, at any time, by a minister in the presence of two
witnesses, with or without the consent of parent or guardian. Marriage
was the easiest thing in the statedivorce the one thing impossible.
Death alone could grant divorce.
He was now past all reason in love. He followed the movement of
Margaret's queenly figure with pathetic abandonment. Beneath her
beautiful manners he swore with a shiver that she was laughing at him.
Now and then he caught a funny expression about her eyes, as if she
were consumed with a sly sense of humour in her love affairs.
What he felt to be his manliest traits, his reserve, dignity, and
moral earnestness, she must think cold and slow beside the dash, fire,
and assurance of these Southerners. He could tell by the way she
encouraged the preacher before his eyes that she was criticizing and
daring him to let go for once. Instead of doing it, he sank back
appalled at the prospect and let the preacher carry her off again.
He sought solace in Dr. Cameron, who was utterly oblivious of his
daughter's love affairs.
Phil was constantly amazed at the variety of his knowledge, the
genuineness of his culture, his modesty, and the note of youth and
cheer with which he still pursued the study of medicine.
His company was refreshing for its own sake. The slender graceful
figure, ruddy face, with piercing, dark-brown eyes in startling
contrast to his snow-white hair and beard, had for Phil a perpetual
charm. He never tired listening to his talk, and noting the peculiar
grace and dignity with which he carried himself, unconscious of the
commanding look of his brilliant eyes.
I hear that you have used hypnotism in your practice, Doctor, Phil
said to him one day, as he watched with fascination the changing play
of his mobile features.
Oh, yes! used it for years. Southern doctors have always been
pioneers in the science of medicine. Dr. Crawford Long, of Georgia, you
know, was the first practitioner in America to apply anesthesia to
But where did you run up against hypnotism? I thought this a new
thing under the sun?
The doctor laughed.
It's not a home industry, exactly. I became interested in it in
Edinburgh while a medical student, and pursued it with increased
interest in Paris.
Did you study medicine abroad? Phil asked in surprise.
Yes; I was poor, but I managed to raise and to borrow enough to
take three years on the other side. I put all I had and all my credit
in it. I've never regretted the sacrifice. The more I saw of the great
world, the better I liked my own world. I've given these farmers and
their families the best God gave to me.
Do you find much use for your powers of hypnosis? Phil asked.
Only in an experimental way. Naturally I am endowed with this
giftespecially over certain classes who are easily the subjects of
extreme fear. I owned a rascally slave named Gus whom I used to watch
stealing. Suddenly confronting him, I've thrown him into
unconsciousness with a steady gaze of the eye, until he would drop on
his face, trembling like a leaf, unable to speak until I allowed him.
How do you account for such powers?
I don't account for them at all. They belong to the world of
spiritual phenomena of which we know so little and yet which touch our
material lives at a thousand points every day. How do we account for
sleep and dreams, or second sight, or the day dreams which we call
Phil was silent, and the doctor went on dreamily:
The day my boy Richard was killed at Gettysburg, I saw him lying
dead in a field near a house. I saw some soldiers bury him in the
corner of that field, and then an old man go to the grave, dig up his
body, cart it away into the woods, and throw it into a ditch. I saw it
before I heard of the battle or knew that he was in it. He was reported
killed, and his body has never been found. It is the one unspeakable
horror of the war to me. I'll never get over it.
How very strange! exclaimed Phil.
And yet the war was nothing, my boy, to the horrors I feel
clutching the throat of the South to-day. I'm glad you and your father
are down here. Your disinterested view of things may help us at
Washington when we need it most. The South seems to have no friend at
Your younger men, I find, are hopeful, Doctor, said Phil.
Yes, the young never see danger until it's time to die. I'm not a
pessimist, but I was happier in jail. Scores of my old friends have
given up in despair and died. Delicate and cultured women are living on
cowpeas, corn bread, and molassesand of such quality they would not
have fed it to a slave. Children go to bed hungry. Droves of brutal
negroes roam at large, stealing, murdering, and threatening blacker
crimes. We are under the heel of petty military tyrants, few of whom
ever smelled gunpowder in a battle. At the approaching election, not a
decent white man in this country can take the infamous test oath. I am
disfranchised because I gave a cup of water to the lips of one of my
dying boys on the battlefield. My slaves are all voters. There will be
a negro majority of more than one hundred thousand in this state.
Desperadoes are here teaching these negroes insolence and crime in
their secret societies. The future is a nightmare.
[Illustration: HENRY WALTHALL AS BEN CAMERON.]
You have my sympathy, sir, said Phil warmly, extending his hand.
These Reconstruction Acts, conceived in sin and brought forth in
iniquity, can bring only shame and disgrace until the last trace of
them is wiped from our laws. I hope it will not be necessary to do it
The doctor was deeply touched. He could not be mistaken in the
genuineness of any man's feeling. He never dreamed this earnest
straightforward Yankee youngster was in love with Margaret, and it
would have made no difference in the accuracy of his judgment.
Your sentiments do you honour, sir, he said with grave courtesy.
And you honour us and our town with your presence and friendship.
As Phil hurried home in a warm glow of sympathy for the people whose
hospitality had made him their friend and champion, he encountered a
negro trooper standing on the corner, watching the Cameron house with
Instinctively he stopped, surveyed the man from head to foot and
What's the trouble?
None er yo' business, the negro answered, slouching across to the
opposite side of the street.
Phil watched him with disgust. He had the short, heavy-set neck of
the lower order of animals. His skin was coal black, his lips so thick
they curled both ways up and down with crooked blood marks across them.
His nose was flat, and its enormous nostrils seemed in perpetual
dilation. The sinister bead eyes, with brown splotches in their whites,
were set wide apart and gleamed apelike under his scant brows. His
enormous cheekbones and jaws seemed to protrude beyond the ears and
almost hide them.
That we should send such soldiers here to flaunt our uniform in the
faces of these people! he exclaimed, with bitterness.
He met Ben hurrying home from a visit to Elsie. The two young
soldiers whose prejudices had melted in the white heat of battle had
become fast friends.
Phil laughed and winked:
I'll meet you to-night around the family altar!
When he reached home, Ben saw, slouching in front of the house,
walking back and forth and glancing furtively behind him, the negro
trooper whom his friend had passed.
He walked quickly in front of him, and blinking his eyes rapidly,
Didn't I tell you, Gus, not to let me catch you hanging around this
The negro drew himself up, pulling his blue uniform into position as
his body stretched out of its habitual slouch, and answered:
My name ain't 'Gus.'
Ben gave a quick little chuckle and leaned back against the palings,
his hand resting on one that was loose. He glanced at the negro
carelessly and said:
Well, Augustus Cæsar, I give your majesty thirty seconds to move
off the block.
Gus' first impulse was to run, but remembering himself he threw back
his shoulders and said:
I reckon de streets free
Yes, and so is kindling wood!
Quick as a flash of lightning the paling suddenly left the fence and
broke three times in such bewildering rapidity on the negro's head he
forgot everything he ever knew or thought he knew save one thingthe
way to run. He didn't fly, but he made remarkable use of the facilities
with which he had been endowed.
Ben watched him disappear toward the camp.
He picked up the pieces of paling, pulled a strand of black wool
from a splinter, looked at it curiously and said:
A sprig of his majesty's hairI'll doubtless remember him without
CHAPTER IV. AT THE POINT OF THE
Within an hour from Ben's encounter he was arrested without warrant
by the military commandant, handcuffed, and placed on the train for
Columbia, more than a hundred miles distant. The first purpose of
sending him in charge of a negro guard was abandoned for fear of a
riot. A squad of white troops accompanied him.
Elsie was waiting at the gate, watching for his coming, her heart
aglow with happiness.
When Marion and little Hugh ran to tell the exciting news, she
thought it a joke and refused to believe it.
Come, dear, don't tease me; you know it's not true!
I wish I may die if 'tain't so! Hugh solemnly declared. He run
Gus away 'cause he scared Aunt Margaret so. They come and put handcuffs
on him and took him to Columbia. I tell you Grandpa and Grandma and
Aunt Margaret are mad!
Elsie called Phil and begged him to see what had happened.
When Phil reported Ben's arrest without a warrant, and the indignity
to which he had been subjected on the amazing charge of resisting
military authority, Elsie hurried with Marion and Hugh to the hotel to
express her indignation, and sent Phil to Columbia on the next train to
fight for his release.
By the use of a bribe Phil discovered that a special inquisition had
been hastily organized to procure perjured testimony against Ben on the
charge of complicity in the murder of a carpet-bag adventurer named
Ashburn, who had been killed at Columbia in a row in a disreputable
resort. This murder had occurred the week Ben Cameron was in Nashville.
The enormous reward of $25,000 had been offered for the conviction of
any man who could be implicated in the killing. Scores of venal
wretches, eager for this blood money, were using every device of
military tyranny to secure evidence on which to convictno matter who
the man might be. Within six hours of his arrival they had pounced on
They arrested as a witness an old negro named John Stapler, noted
for his loyalty to the Camerons. The doctor had saved his life once in
a dangerous illness. They were going to put him to torture and force
him to swear that Ben Cameron had tried to bribe him to kill Ashburn.
General Howle, the Commandant of the Columbia district, was in
Charleston on a visit to headquarters.
Phil resorted to the ruse of pretending, as a Yankee, the deepest
sympathy for Ashburn, and by the payment of a fee of twenty dollars to
the Captain, was admitted to the fort to witness the torture.
They led the old man trembling into the presence of the Captain, who
sat on an improvised throne in full uniform.
Have you ordered a barber to shave this man's head? sternly asked
Please, Marster, fer de Lawd's sake, I ain' done nuttin'doan'
shave my head. Dat ha'r been wropped lak dat fur ten year! I die sho'
ef I lose my ha'r.
Bring the barber, and take him back until he comes, was the order.
In an hour they led him again into the room blindfolded, and placed him
in a chair.
Have you let him see a preacher before putting him through? the
Captain asked. I have an order from the General in Charleston to put
him through to-day.
For Gawd's sake, Marster, doan' put me frooI ain't done nuttin'
en I doan' know nuttin'!
The old negro slipped to his knees, trembling from head to foot.
The guards caught him by the shoulders and threw him back into the
chair. The bandage was removed, and just in front of him stood a brass
cannon pointed at his head, a soldier beside it holding the string
ready to pull. John threw himself backward, yelling:
When he scrambled to his feet and started to run, another cannon
swung on him from the rear. He dropped to his knees and began to pray.
Yas, Lawd, I'se er comin'. I hain't readybut, Lawd, I got ter
come! Save me!
Shave him! the Captain ordered.
While the old man sat moaning, they lathered his head with two
scrubbing-brushes and shaved it clean.
Now stand him up by the wall and measure him for his coffin, was
They snatched him from the chair, pushed him against the wall, and
measured him. While they were taking his measure, the man next to him
Now's the time to save your hidetell all about Ben Cameron trying
to hire you to kill Ashburn.
Give him a few minutes, said the Captain, and maybe we can hear
what Mr. Cameron said about Ashburn.
I doan' know nuttin', General, pleaded the old darkey. I ain't
heard nuttin'I ain't seed Marse Ben fer two monts.
You needn't lie to us. The rebels have been posting you. But it's
no use. We'll get it out of you.
'Fo' Gawd, Marster, I'se telling de truf!
Put him in the dark cell and keep him there the balance of his life
unless he tells, was the order.
At the end of four days, Phil was summoned again to witness the
John was carried to another part of the fort and shown the
Now tell all you know or in you go! said his tormentor.
The negro looked at the engine of torture in abject terrora closet
in the walls of the fort just big enough to admit the body, with an
adjustable top to press down too low for the head to be held erect. The
door closed tight against the breast of the victim. The only air
admitted was through an auger-hole in the door.
The old man's lips moved in prayer.
Will you tell? growled the Captain.
I cain't tell ye nuttin' 'cept'n' a lie! he moaned.
They thrust him in, slammed the door, and in a loud voice the
Keep him there for thirty days unless he tells.
He was left in the agony of the sweat-box for thirty-three hours and
taken out. His limbs were swollen and when he attempted to walk he
tottered and fell.
The guard jerked him to his feet, and the Captain said:
I'm afraid we've taken him out too soon, but if he don't tell he
can go back and finish the month out.
The poor old negro dropped in a faint, and they carried him back to
Phil determined to spare no means, fair or foul, to secure Ben's
release from the clutches of these devils. He had as yet been unable to
locate his place of confinement.
He continued his ruse of friendly curiosity, kept in touch with the
Captain, and the Captain in touch with his pocketbook.
Summoned to witness another interesting ceremony, he hurried to the
The officer winked at him confidentially, and took him out to a row
of dungeons built of logs and ceiled inside with heavy boards. A single
pane of glass about eight inches square admitted light ten feet from
There was a commotion inside, curses, groans, and cries for mercy
mingling in rapid succession.
What is it? asked Phil.
Hell's goin' on in there! laughed the officer.
A heavy crash, as though a ton weight had struck the floor, and then
all was still.
By George, it's too bad we can't see it all! exclaimed the
What does it mean? urged Phil.
Again the Captain laughed immoderately.
I've got a blue-blood in there taking the bluin' out of his system.
He gave me some impudence. I'm teaching him who's running this
What are you doing to him? Phil asked with a sudden suspicion.
Oh, just having a little fun! I put two big white drunks in there
with himhalf-fighting drunks, you knowand told them to work on his
teeth and manicure his face a little to initiate him into the ranks of
the common people, so to speak!
Again he laughed.
Phil, listening at the keyhole, held up his hand:
Hush, they're talking
He could hear Ben Cameron's voice in the softest drawl:
Say it again.
Now both together, and a little louder!
Please, Marster, came the united chorus.
Now what kind of a dog did I say you are?
The kind as comes when his marster calls.
Both togetherthe under dog seems to have too much cover, like his
mouth might be full of cotton.
They repeated it louder.
A pair of them.
A pair of 'em.
No, the whole thingall together'weareapair!'
YesMarster. They repeated it in chorus.
With apologies to the dogs
Apologies to the dogs
And why does your master honour the kennel with his presence
He hit a nigger on the head so hard that he strained the nigger's
ankle, and he's restin' from his labours.
That's right, Towser. If I had you and Tige a few hours every day I
could make good squirrel-dogs out of you.
There was a pause. Phil looked up and smiled.
What does it sound like? asked the Captain, with a shade of doubt
in his voice.
Sounds to me like a Sunday-school teacher taking his class through
a new catechism.
The Captain fumbled hurriedly for his keys.
There's something wrong in there.
He opened the door and sprang in.
Ben Cameron was sitting on top of the two toughs, knocking their
heads together as they repeated each chorus.
Walk in, gentlemen. The show is going on nowthe animals are doing
beautifully, said Ben.
The Captain muttered an oath. Phil suddenly grasped him by the
throat, hurled him against the wall, and snatched the keys from his
Now open your mouth, you white-livered cur, and inside of
twenty-four hours I'll have you behind the bars. I have all the
evidence I need. I'm an ex-officer of the United States Army, of the
fighting corpsnot the vulture division. This is my friend. Accompany
us to the street and strike your charges from the record.
The coward did as he was ordered, and Ben hurried back to Piedmont
with a friend toward whom he began to feel closer than a brother.
When Elsie heard the full story of the outrage, she bore herself
toward Ben with unusual tenderness, and yet he knew that the event had
driven their lives farther apart. He felt instinctively the cold silent
eye of her father, and his pride stiffened under it. The girl had never
considered the possibility of a marriage without her father's blessing.
Ben Cameron was too proud to ask it. He began to fear that the
differences between her father and his people reached to the deepest
sources of life.
Phil found himself a hero at the Cameron House. Margaret said
little, but her bearing spoke in deeper language than words. He felt it
would be mean to take advantage of her gratitude.
But he was quick to respond to the motherly tenderness of Mrs.
Cameron. In the groups of neighbours who gathered in the evenings to
discuss with the doctor the hopes, fears, and sorrows of the people,
Phil was a charmed listener to the most brilliant conversations he had
ever heard. It seemed the normal expression of their lives. He had
never before seen people come together to talk to one another after
this fashion. More and more the simplicity, dignity, patience,
courtesy, and sympathy of these people in their bearing toward one
another impressed him. More and more he grew to like them.
Marion went out of her way to express her open admiration for Phil
and tease him about Margaret. The Rev. Hugh McAlpin was monopolizing
her on the Wednesday following his return from Columbia and Phil sought
Marion for sympathy.
What will you give me if I tease you about Margaret right before
her? she asked.
He blushed furiously.
Don't you dare such a thing on peril of your life!
You know you like to be teased about her, she cried, her blue eyes
dancing with fun.
With such a pretty little friend to do the teasing all by
You'll never get her unless you have more spunk.
Then I'll find consolation with you.
No, I mean to marry young.
And your ideal of life?
To fill the world with flowers, laughter, and musicespecially my
own homeand never do a thing I can make my husband do for me! How do
you like it?
I think it very sweet, Phil answered soberly.
At noon on the following Friday, the Piedmont Eagle appeared
with an editorial signed by Dr. Cameron, denouncing in the fine
language of the old school the arrest of Ben as despotism and the
usurpation of authority.
At three o'clock, Captain Gilbert, in command of the troops
stationed in the village, marched a squad of soldiers to the newspaper
office. One of them carried a sledge-hammer. In ten minutes he
demolished the office, heaped the type and their splintered cases on
top of the battered press in the middle of the street, and set fire to
On the courthouse door he nailed this proclamation:
To the People of Ulster County:
The censures of the press, directed against the servants of the
people, may be endured; but the military force in command of this
district are not the servants of the people of South Carolina. WE
YOUR MASTERS. The impertinence of newspaper comment on the
will not be brooked UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATEVER.
G. C. Gilbert,
Captain in Command.
Not content with this display of power, he determined to make an
example of Dr. Cameron, as the leader of public opinion in the county.
He ordered a squad of his negro troops to arrest him immediately and
take him to Columbia for obstructing the execution of the
Reconstruction Acts. He placed the squad under command of Gus, whom he
promoted to be a corporal, with instructions to wait until the doctor
was inside his house, boldly enter it and arrest him.
When Gus marched his black janizaries into the house, no one was in
the office. Margaret had gone for a ride with Phil, and Ben had
strolled with Elsie to Lover's Leap, unconscious of the excitement in
Dr. Cameron himself had heard nothing of it, having just reached
home from a visit to a country patient.
Gus stationed his men at each door, and with another trooper walked
straight into Mrs. Cameron's bedroom, where the doctor was resting on a
Had an imp of perdition suddenly sprung through the floor, the
master of the house of Cameron would not have been more enraged or
A sudden leap, as the spring of a panther, and he stood before his
former slave, his slender frame erect, his face a livid spot in its
snow-white hair, his brilliant eyes flashing with fury.
Gus suddenly lost control of his knees.
His old master transfixed him with his eyes, and in a voice, whose
tones gripped him by the throat, said:
How dare you?
The gun fell from the negro's hand, and he dropped to the floor on
His companion uttered a yell and sprang through the door, rallying
the men as he went:
Fall back! Fall back! He's killed Gus! Shot him dead wid his eye.
He's conjured him! Git de whole army quick.
They fled to the Commandant.
Gilbert ordered the negroes to their tents and led his whole company
of white regulars to the hotel, arrested Dr. Cameron, and rescued his
fainting trooper, who had been revived and placed under a tree on the
The little Captain had a wicked look on his face. He refused to
allow the doctor a moment's delay to leave instructions for his wife,
who had gone to visit a neighbour. He was placed in the guard-house,
and a detail of twenty soldiers stationed around it.
The arrest was made so quickly, not a dozen people in town had heard
of it. As fast as it was known, people poured into the house, one by
one, to express their sympathy. But a greater surprise awaited them.
Within thirty minutes after he had been placed in prison, a
Lieutenant entered, accompanied by a soldier and a negro blacksmith who
carried in his hand two big chains with shackles on each end.
The doctor gazed at the intruders a moment with incredulity, and
then, as the enormity of the outrage dawned on him, he flushed and drew
himself erect, his face livid and rigid.
He clutched his throat with his slender fingers, slowly recovered
himself, glanced at the shackles in the black hands and then at the
young Lieutenant's face, and said slowly, with heaving breast:
My God! Have you been sent to place these irons on me?
Such are my orders, sir, replied the officer, motioning to the
negro smith to approach. He stepped forward, unlocked the padlock, and
prepared the fetters to be placed on his arms and legs. These fetters
were of enormous weight, made of iron rods three quarters of an inch
thick and connected together by chains of like weight.
This is monstrous! groaned the doctor, with choking agony,
glancing helplessly about the bare cell for some weapon with which to
Suddenly looking the Lieutenant in the face, he said:
I demand, sir, to see your commanding officer. He cannot pretend
that these shackles are needed to hold a weak unarmed man in prison,
guarded by two hundred soldiers?
It is useless. I have his orders direct.
But I must see him. No such outrage has ever been recorded in the
history of the American people. I appeal to the Magna Charta rights of
every man who speaks the English tongueno man shall be arrested or
imprisoned or deprived of his own household, or of his liberties,
unless by the legal judgment of his peers or by the law of the land!
The bayonet is your only law. My orders admit of no delay. For your
own sake, I advise you to submit. As a soldier, Dr. Cameron, you know I
must execute orders.
These are not the orders of a soldier! shouted the prisoner,
enraged beyond all control. They are orders for a jailer, a hangman, a
scullionno soldier who wears the sword of a civilized nation can take
such orders. The war is over; the South is conquered; I have no country
save America. For the honour of the flag, for which I once poured out
my blood on the heights of Buena Vista, I protest against this shame!
The Lieutenant fell back a moment before the burst of his anger.
Kill me! Kill me! he went on passionately, throwing his arms wide
open and exposing his breast. KillI am in your power. I have no
desire to live under such conditions. Kill, but you must not inflict on
me and on my people this insult worse than death!
Do your duty, blacksmith, said the officer, turning his back and
walking toward the door.
The negro advanced with the chains cautiously, and attempted to snap
one of the shackles on the doctor's right arm.
With sudden maniac frenzy, Dr. Cameron seized the negro by the
throat, hurled him to the floor, and backed against the wall.
The Lieutenant approached and remonstrated:
Why compel me to add the indignity of personal violence? You must
I am your prisoner, fiercely retorted the doctor. I have been a
soldier in the armies of America, and I know how to die. Kill me, and
my last breath will be a blessing. But while I have life to resist, for
myself and for my people, this thing shall not be done!
The Lieutenant called a sergeant and a file of soldiers, and the
sergeant stepped forward to seize the prisoner.
Dr. Cameron sprang on him with the ferocity of a tiger, seized his
musket, and attempted to wrench it from his grasp.
The men closed in on him. A short passionate fight and the slender,
proud, gray-haired man lay panting on the floor.
Four powerful assailants held his hands and feet, and the negro
smith, with a grin, secured the rivet on the right ankle and turned the
key in the padlock on the left.
As he drove the rivet into the shackle on his left arm, a spurt of
bruised blood from the old Mexican War wound stained the iron.
Dr. Cameron lay for a moment in a stupor. At length he slowly rose.
The clank of the heavy chains seemed to choke him with horror. He sank
on the floor, covering his face with his hands and groaned:
The shame! The shame! O God, that I might have died! My poor, poor
Captain Gilbert entered and said with a sneer:
I will take you now to see your wife and friends if you would like
to call before setting out for Columbia.
The doctor paid no attention to him.
Will you follow me while I lead you through this town, to show them
their chief has fallen, or will you force me to drag you?
Receiving no answer, he roughly drew the doctor to his feet, held
him by the arm, and led him thus in half-unconscious stupor through the
principal street, followed by a drove of negroes. He ordered a squad of
troops to meet him at the depot. Not a white man appeared on the
streets. When one saw the sight and heard the clank of those chains,
there was a sudden tightening of the lip, a clinched fist, and an
When they approached the hotel, Mrs. Cameron ran to meet him, her
face white as death.
In silence she kissed his lips, kissed each shackle on his wrists,
took her handkerchief and wiped the bruised blood from the old wound on
his arm the iron had opened afresh, and then with a look, beneath which
the Captain shrank, she said in low tones:
Do your work quickly. You have but a few moments to get out of this
town with your prisoner. I have sent a friend to hold my son. If he
comes before you go, he will kill you on sight as he would a mad dog.
With a sneer, the Captain passed the hotel and led the doctor, still
in half-unconscious stupor, toward the depot down past his old slave
quarters. He had given his negroes who remained faithful each a cabin
and a lot.
They looked on in awed silence as the Captain proclaimed:
Fellow citizens, you are the equal of any white man who walks the
ground. The white man's day is done. Your turn has come.
As he passed Jake's cabin, the doctor's faithful man stepped
suddenly in front of him, looking at the Captain out of the corners of
his eyes, and asked:
Is I yo' equal?
Des lak any white man?
The negro's fist suddenly shot into Gilbert's nose with the crack of
a sledge-hammer, laying him stunned on the pavement.
Den take dat f'um yo' equal, dn you! he cried, bending over his
prostrate figure. I'll show you how to treat my ole marster, you
low-down slue-footed devil!
The stirring little drama roused the doctor and he turned to his
servant with his old-time courtesy, and said:
Thank you, Jake.
Come in here, Marse Richard; I knock dem things off'n you in er
minute, 'en I get you outen dis town in er jiffy.
No, Jake, that is not my way; bring this gentleman some water, and
then my horse and buggy. You can take me to the depot. This officer can
follow with his men. And he did.
CHAPTER V. FORTY ACRES AND A MULE
When Phil returned with Margaret, he drove at Mrs. Cameron's request
to find Ben, brought him with all speed to the hotel, took him to his
room, and locked the door before he told him the news. After an hour's
blind rage, he agreed to obey his father's positive orders to keep away
from the Captain until his return, and to attempt no violence against
Phil undertook to manage the case in Columbia, and spent three days
collecting his evidence before leaving.
Swifter feet had anticipated him. Two days after the arrival of Dr.
Cameron at the fort in Colombia, a dust-stained, tired negro was
ushered into the presence of General Howle.
He looked about timidly and laughed loudly.
Well, my man, what's the trouble? You seem to have walked all the
way, and laugh as if you were glad of it.
I 'spec' I is, sah, said Jake, sidling up confidentially.
Well? said Howle good-humouredly.
Jake's voice dropped to a whisper.
I hears you got my ole marster, Dr. Cameron, in dis place.
Yes. What do you know against him?
Nuttin', sah. I des hurry 'long down ter take his place, so's you
can sen' him back home. He's erbleeged ter go. Dey's er pow'ful lot er
sick folks up dar in de country cain't git 'long widout him, an er
pow'ful lot er well ones gwiner be raisin' de debbel 'bout dis. You can
hol' me, sah. Des tell my ole marster when ter be yere, en he sho'
Jake paused and bowed low.
Yessah, hit's des lak I tell you. Fuddermo', I 'spec' I'se de man
what done de damages. I 'spec' I bus' de Capt'n's nose so 'tain gwine
be no mo' good to 'im.
Howle questioned Jake as to the whole affair, asked him a hundred
questions about the condition of the county, the position of Dr.
Cameron, and the possible effect of this event on the temper of the
The affair had already given him a bad hour. The news of this
shackling of one of the most prominent men in the State had spread like
wildfire, and had caused the first deep growl of anger from the people.
He saw that it was a senseless piece of stupidity. The election was
rapidly approaching. He was master of the State, and the less friction
the better. His mind was made up instantly. He released Dr. Cameron
with an apology, and returned with him and Jake for a personal
inspection of the affairs of Ulster county.
In a thirty-minutes' interview with Captain Gilbert, Howle gave him
more pain than his broken nose.
And why did you nail up the doors of that Presbyterian church? he
Because McAlpin, the young cub who preaches there, dared come to
this camp and insult me about the arrest of old Cameron.
I suppose you issued an order silencing him from the ministry?
I did, and told him I'd shackle him if he opened his mouth again.
Good. The throne of Russia needn't worry about a worthy successor.
Any further ecclesiastical orders?
None, except the oaths I've prescribed for them before they shall
Fine! These Scotch Covenanters will feel at home with you.
Well, I've made them bite the dustand they know who's runnin'
this town, and don't you forget it.
No doubt. Yet we may have too much of even a good thing. The League
is here to run this country. The business of the military is to keep
still and back them when they need it.
We've the strongest council here to be found in any county in this
section, said Gilbert with pride.
Just so. The League meets once a week. We have promised them the
land of their masters and equal social and political rights. Their
members go armed to these meetings and drill on Saturdays in the public
square. The white man is afraid to interfere lest his house or barn
take fire. A negro prisoner in the dock needs only to make the sign to
be acquitted. Not a negro will dare to vote against us. Their women are
formed into societies, sworn to leave their husbands and refuse to
marry any man who dares our anger. The negro churches have pledged
themselves to expel him from their membership. What more do you want?
There's another side to it, protested the Captain. Since the
League has taken in the negroes, every Union white man has dropped it
like a hot iron, except the lone scallawag or carpet-bagger who expects
an office. In the church, the social circle, in business or pleasure,
these men are lepers. How can a human being stand it? I've tried to
grind this hellish spirit in the dirt under my heel, and unless you can
do it they'll beat you in the long run! You've got to have some
Southern white men or you're lost.
I'll risk it with a hundred thousand negro majority, said Howle
with a sneer. The fun will just begin then. In the meantime, I'll have
you ease up on this county's government. I've brought that man back who
knocked you down. Let him alone. I've pardoned him. The less said about
this affair, the better.
* * * * *
As the day of the election under the new régime of Reconstruction
drew near, the negroes were excited by rumours of the coming great
events. Every man was to receive forty acres of land for his vote, and
the enthusiastic speakers and teachers had made the dream a resistless
one by declaring that the Government would throw in a mule with the
forty acres. Some who had hesitated about the forty acres of land,
remembering that it must be worked, couldn't resist the idea of owning
The Freedman's Bureau reaped a harvest in $2 marriage fees from
negroes who were urged thus to make their children heirs of landed
estates stocked with mules.
Every stranger who appeared in the village was regarded with awe as
a possible surveyor sent from Washington to run the lines of these
And in due time the surveyors appeared. Uncle Aleck, who now devoted
his entire time to organizing the League, and drinking whiskey which
the dues he collected made easy, was walking back to Piedmont from a
League meeting in the country, dreaming of this promised land.
He lifted his eyes from the dusty way and saw before him two
surveyors with their arms full of line stakes painted red, white, and
blue. They were well-dressed Yankeeshe could not be mistaken. Not a
doubt disturbed his mind. The kingdom of heaven was at hand!
He bowed low and cried:
Praise de Lawd! De messengers is come! I'se waited long, but I sees
'em now wid my own eyes!
You can bet your life on that, old pard, said the spokesman of the
pair. We go two and two, just as the apostles did in the olden times.
We have only a few left. The boys are hurrying to get their homes. All
you've got to do is to drive one of these red, white, and blue stakes
down at each corner of the forty acres of land you want, and every
rebel in the infernal regions can't pull it up.
Hear dat now!
Just like I tell you. When this stake goes into the ground, it's
like planting a thousand cannon at each corner.
En will the Lawd's messengers come wid me right now to de bend er
de creek whar I done pick out my forty acres?
We will, if you have the needful for the ceremony. The fee for the
surveyor is smallonly two dollars for each stake. We have no time to
linger with foolish virgins who have no oil in their lamps. The
bridegroom has come. They who have no oil must remain in outer
darkness. The speaker had evidently been a preacher in the North, and
his sacred accent sealed his authority with the old negro, who had been
an exhorter himself.
Aleck felt in his pocket the jingle of twenty gold dollars, the
initiation fees of the week's harvest of the League. He drew them,
counted out eight, and took his four stakes. The surveyors kindly
showed him how to drive them down firmly to the first stripe of blue.
When they had stepped off a square of about forty acres of the Lenoir
farm, including the richest piece of bottom land on the creek, which
Aleck's children under his wife's direction were working for Mrs.
Lenoir, and the four stakes were planted, old Aleck shouted:
Glory ter God!
Now, said the foremost surveyor, you want a deeda deed in fee
simple with the big seal of the Government on it, and you're fixed for
life. The deed you can take to the courthouse and make the clerk record
The man drew from his pocket an official-looking paper, with a red
circular seal pasted on its face.
Uncle Aleck's eyes danced.
Is dat de deed?
It will be if I write your name on it and describe the land.
En what's de fee fer dat?
Only twelve dollars; you can take it now or wait until we come
again. There's no particular hurry about this. The wise man, though,
leaves nothing for to-morrow that he can carry with him to-day.
I takes de deed right now, gemmen, said Aleck, eagerly counting
out the remaining twelve dollars. Fix 'im up for me.
The surveyor squatted in the field and carefully wrote the document.
They went on their way rejoicing, and old Aleck hurried into
Piedmont with the consciousness of lordship of the soil. He held
himself so proudly that it seemed to straighten some of the crook out
of his bow legs.
He marched up to the hotel where Margaret sat reading and Marion was
on the steps playing with a setter.
Why, Uncle Aleck! Marion exclaimed, I haven't seen you in a long
Aleck drew himself to his full heightat least, as full as his bow
legs would permit, and said gruffly:
Miss Ma'ian, I axes you to stop callin' me 'uncle'; my name is Mr.
Until Aunt Cindy gets after you, laughed the girl. Then it's much
shorter than that, Uncle Aleck.
He shuffled his feet and looked out at the square unconcernedly.
Yaas'm, dat's what fetch me here now. I comes ter tell yer Ma ter
tell dat 'oman Cindy ter take her chillun off my farm. I gwine 'low no
mo' rent-payin' ter nobody off'n my lan'!
Your land, Uncle Aleck? When did you get it? asked Marion, placing
her cheek against the setter.
De Gubment gim it ter me to-day, he replied, fumbling in his
pocket, and pulling out the document. You kin read it all dar yo'sef.
He handed Marion the paper, and Margaret hurried down and read it
over her shoulder.
Both girls broke into screams of laughter.
Aleck looked up sharply.
Do you know what's written on this paper, Uncle Aleck? Margaret
Cose I do. Dat's de deed ter my farm er forty acres in de land er
de creek, whar I done stuck off wid de red, white, an' blue sticks de
I'll read it to you, said Margaret.
Wait a minute, interrupted Marion. I want Aunt Cindy to hear
itshe's here to see Mamma in the kitchen now.
She ran for Uncle Aleck's spouse. Aunt Cindy walked around the house
and stood by the steps, eying her erstwhile lord with contempt.
Got yer deed, is yer, ter stop me payin' my missy her rent fum de
lan' my chillun wucks? Yu'se er smart boy, you islet's hear de deed!
Aleck edged away a little, and said with a bow:
Dar's de paper wid de big mark er de Gubment.
Aunt Cindy sniffed the air contemptuously.
What is it, honey? she asked of Margaret.
Margaret read in mock solemnity the mystic writing on the deed:
To Whom It May Concern:
As Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness for the
enlightenment of the people, even so have I lifted twenty shining
plunks out of this benighted nigger! Selah!
As Uncle Aleck walked away with Aunt Cindy shouting in derision,
Dar, now! Dar, now! the bow in his legs seemed to have sprung a
CHAPTER VI. A WHISPER IN THE CROWD
The excitement which preceded the first Reconstruction election in
the South paralyzed the industries of the country. When demagogues
poured down from the North and began their raving before crowds of
ignorant negroes, the plow stopped in the furrow, the hoe was dropped,
and the millennium was at hand.
Negro tenants, working under contracts issued by the Freedman's
Bureau, stopped work, and rode their landlords' mules and horses around
the county, following these orators.
The loss to the cotton crop alone from the abandonment of the
growing plant was estimated at over $60,000,000.
The one thing that saved the situation from despair was the large
grain and forage crops of the previous season which thrifty farmers had
stored in their barns. So important was the barn and its precious
contents that Dr. Cameron hired Jake to sleep in his.
This immense barn, which was situated at the foot of the hill some
two hundred yards behind the house, had become a favourite haunt of
Marion and Hugh. She had made a pet of the beautiful thoroughbred mare
which had belonged to Ben during the war. Marion went every day to give
her an apple or lump of sugar, or carry her a bunch of clover. The mare
would follow her about like a cat.
Another attraction at the barn for them was Becky Sharpe, Ben's
setter. She came to Marion one morning, wagging her tail, seized her
dress and led her into an empty stall, where beneath the trough lay
sleeping snugly ten little white-and-black spotted puppies.
The girl had never seen such a sight before and went into ecstasies.
Becky wagged her tail with pride at her compliments. Every morning she
would pull her gently into the stall just to hear her talk and laugh
and pet her babies.
Whatever election day meant to the men, to Marion it was one of
unalloyed happiness: she was to ride horseback alone and dance at her
first ball. Ben had taught her to ride, and told her she could take
Queen to Lover's Leap and back alone. Trembling with joy, her beautiful
face wreathed in smiles, she led the mare to the pond in the edge of
the lot and watched her drink its pure spring water.
When he helped her to mount in front of the hotel under her mother's
gaze, and saw her ride out of the gate, with the exquisite lines of her
little figure melting into the graceful lines of the mare's glistening
form, he exclaimed:
I declare, I don't know which is the prettier, Marion or Queen!
I know, was the mother's soft answer.
They are both thoroughbreds, said Ben, watching them admiringly.
Wait till you see her to-night in her first ball dress, whispered
At noon Ben and Phil strolled to the polling-place to watch the
progress of the first election under negro rule. The Square was jammed
with shouting, jostling, perspiring negroes, men, women, and children.
The day was warm, and the African odour was supreme even in the open
A crowd of two hundred were packed around a peddler's box. There
were two of themone crying the wares, and the other wrapping and
delivering the goods. They were selling a new patent poison for rats.
I've only a few more bottles left now, gentlemen, he shouted, and
the polls will close at sundown. A great day for our brother in black.
Two years of army rations from the Freedman's Bureau, with old army
clothes thrown in, and now the ballotthe priceless glory of American
citizenship. But better still the very land is to be taken from these
proud aristocrats and given to the poor down-trodden black man. Forty
acres and a mulethink of it! Provided, mind youthat you have a
bottle of my wonder-worker to kill the rats and save your corn for the
mule. No man can have the mule unless he has corn; and no man can have
corn if he has ratsand only a few bottles left
Gimme one, yelled a negro.
Forty acres and a mule, your old masters to work your land and pay
his rent in corn, while you sit back in the shade and see him sweat.
Gimme er bottle and two er dem pictures! bawled another candidate
for a mule.
The peddler handed him the bottle and the pictures and threw a
handful of his labels among the crowd. These labels happened to be just
the size of the ballots, having on them the picture of a dead rat lying
on his back, and above, the emblem of death, the crossbones and skull.
Forty acres and a mule for every black manwhy was I ever born
white? I never had no luck, nohow!
Phil and Ben passed on nearer the polling-place, around which stood
a cordon of soldiers with a line of negro voters two hundred yards in
length extending back into the crowd.
The negro Leagues came in armed battalions and voted in droves,
carrying their muskets in their hands. Less than a dozen white men were
to be seen about the place.
The negroes, under the drill of the League and the Freedman's
Bureau, protected by the bayonet, were voting to enfranchise
themselves, disfranchise their former masters, ratify a new
constitution, and elect a legislature to do their will. Old Aleck was a
candidate for the House, chief poll-holder, and seemed to be in charge
of the movements of the voters outside the booth as well as inside. He
appeared to be omnipresent, and his self-importance was a sight Phil
had never dreamed. He could not keep his eyes off him.
By George, Cameron, he's a wonder! he laughed.
Aleck had suppressed as far as possible the story of the painted
stakes and the deed, after sending out warnings to the brethren to
beware of two enticing strangers. The surveyors had reaped a rich
harvest and passed on. Aleck made up his mind to go to Columbia, make
the laws himself, and never again trust a white man from the North or
South. The agent of the Freedman's Bureau at Piedmont tried to choke
him off the ticket. The League backed him to a man. He could neither
read nor write, but before he took to whiskey he had made a specialty
of revival exhortation, and his mouth was the most effective thing
about him. In this campaign he was an orator of no mean powers. He knew
what he wanted, and he knew what his people wanted, and he put the
thing in words so plain that a wayfaring man, though a fool, couldn't
make any mistake about it.
As he bustled past, forming a battalion of his brethren in line to
march to the polls, Phil followed his every movement with amused
Besides being so bow-legged that his walk was a moving joke he was
so striking a negro in his personal appearance, he seemed to the young
Northerner almost a distinct type of man.
His head was small and seemed mashed on the sides until it bulged
into a double lobe behind. Even his ears, which he had pierced and hung
with red earbobs, seemed to have been crushed flat to the side of his
head. His kinked hair was wrapped in little hard rolls close to the
skull and bound tightly with dirty thread. His receding forehead was
high and indicated a cunning intelligence. His nose was broad and
crushed flat against his face. His jaws were strong and angular, mouth
wide, and lips thick, curling back from rows of solid teeth set
obliquely in their blue gums. The one perfect thing about him was the
size and setting of his mouthhe was a born African orator,
undoubtedly descended from a long line of savage spell-binders, whose
eloquence in the palaver houses of the jungle had made them native
leaders. His thin spindle-shanks supported an oblong, protruding
stomach, resembling an elderly monkey's, which seemed so heavy it
swayed his back to carry it.
The animal vivacity of his small eyes and the flexibility of his
eyebrows, which he worked up and down rapidly with every change of
countenance, expressed his eager desires.
He had laid aside his new shoes, which hurt him, and went barefooted
to facilitate his movements on the great occasion. His heels projected
and his foot was so flat that what should have been the hollow of it
made a hole in the dirt where he left his track.
He was already mellow with liquor, and was dressed in an old army
uniform and cap, with two horse pistols buckled around his waist. On a
strap hanging from his shoulder were strung a half-dozen tin canteens
filled with whiskey.
A disturbance in the line of voters caused the young men to move
forward to see what it meant.
Two negro troopers had pulled Jake out of the line, and were
dragging him toward old Aleck.
The election judge straightened himself up with great dignity:
What wuz de rapscallion doin'?
In de line, tryin' ter vote.
Fetch 'im befo' de judgment bar, said Aleck, taking a drink from
one of his canteens.
The troopers brought Jake before the judge.
Tryin' ter vote, is yer?
'Lowed I would.
You hear 'bout de great sassieties de Gubment's fomentin' in dis
Yas, I hear erbout 'em.
Is yer er member er de Union League?
Na-sah. I'd rudder steal by myself. I doan' lak too many in de
En yer ain't er No'f Ca'liny gemmen, is yeryer ain't er member er
de 'Red Strings?'
Na-sah, I come when I'se calleddey doan' hatter put er string on
mener er block, ner er collar, ner er chain, ner er muzzle
Will yer 'splain ter dis cote railed Aleck.
What cote? Dat ole army cote? Jake laughed in loud peals that rang
over the square.
Aleck recovered his dignity and demanded angrily:
Does yer belong ter de Heroes ob Americky?
Na-sah. I ain't burnt nobody's house ner barn yet, ner hamstrung no
stock, ner waylaid nobody atter nighthoney, I ain't fit ter jine.
Heroes ob Americky! Is you er hero?
Ef yer doan' b'long ter no s'iety, said Aleck with judicial
deliberation, what is you?
Des er ole-fashun all-wool-en-er-yard-wide nigger dat stan's by his
ole marster 'cause he's his bes' frien', stays at home, en tends ter
his own business.
En yer pay no 'tenshun ter de orders I sent yer ter jine de
Na-sah. I ain't er takin' orders f'um er skeer-crow.
Aleck ignored his insolence, secure in his power.
You doan b'long ter no s'iety, what yer git in dat line ter vote
Ain't I er nigger?
But yer ain't de right kin' er nigger. 'Res' dat man fer 'sturbin'
They put Jake in jail, persuaded his wife to leave him, and expelled
him from the Baptist church, all within the week.
As the troopers led Jake to prison, a young negro apparently about
fifteen years old approached Aleck, holding in his hand one of the
peddler's rat labels, which had gotten well distributed among the
crowd. A group of negro boys followed him with these rat labels in
their hands, studying them intently.
Look at dis ticket, Uncle Aleck, said the leader.
Mr. Alexander Lenoir, sahis I yo' uncle, nigger?
The youth walled his eyes angrily.
Den doan' you call me er nigger!
Who' yer talkin to, sah? You kin fling yer sass at white folks,
but, honey, yuse er projeckin' wid death now!
I ain't er niggerI'se er gemman, I is, was the sullen answer.
How ole is you? asked Aleck in milder tones.
Me mudder say sixteenbut de Buro man say I'se twenty-one
yistiddy, de day 'fo' 'lection.
Is you voted to-day?
Yessah; vote in all de boxes 'cept'n dis one. Look at dat ticket.
Is dat de straight ticket?
Aleck, who couldn't read the twelve-inch letters of his favourite
bar-room sign, took the rat label and examined it critically.
What ail it? he asked at length.
The boy pointed at the picture of the rat.
What dat rat doin', lyin' dar on his back, wid his heels cocked up
in de air'pear ter me lak a rat otter be standin' on his feet!
Aleck reëxamined it carefully, and then smiled benignly on the
De ignance er dese folks. What ud yer do widout er man lak me
enjued wid de sperit en de power ter splain tings?
You sho' got de sperits, said the boy impudently, touching a
Aleck ignored the remark and looked at the rat label smilingly.
Ain't we er votin', ter-day, on de Constertooshun what's ter take
de ballot away f'um de white folks en gib all de power ter de cullud
gemmenI axes yer dat?
The boy stuck his thumbs under his arms and walled his eyes.
Den dat means de ratification ob de Constertooshun!
Phil laughed, followed, and watched them fold their tickets, get in
line, and vote the rat labels.
Ben turned toward a white man with gray beard, who stood watching
He was a pious member of the Presbyterian church but his face didn't
have a pious expression to-day. He had been refused the right to vote
because he had aided the Confederacy by nursing one of his wounded
He touched his hat politely to Ben.
What do you think of it, Colonel Cameron? he asked with a touch of
What's your opinion, Mr. McAllister?
Well, Colonel, I've been a member of the church for over forty
years. I'm not a cussin' manbut there's a sight I never expected to
live to see. I've been a faithful citizen of this State for fifty
years. I can't vote, and a nigger is to be elected to-day to represent
me in the Legislature. Neither you, Colonel, nor your father are good
enough to vote. Every nigger in this county sixteen years old and up
voted to-dayI ain't a cussing man, and I don't say it as a cuss word,
but all I've got to say is, IF there BE such a thing as a dd
Mr. McAllister, the recording angel wouldn't have made a mark had
you said it without the 'IF.'
God knows what this country's coming toI don't, said the old man
bitterly. I'm afraid to let my wife and daughter go out of the house,
or stay in it, without somebody with them.
Ben leaned closer and whispered, as Phil approached:
Come to my office to-night at ten o'clock; I want to see you on
some important business.
The old man seized his hand eagerly.
Shall I bring the boys?
No. I've seen them some time ago.
CHAPTER VII. BY THE LIGHT OF A TORCH
On the night of the election Mrs. Lenoir gave a ball at the hotel in
honour of Marion's entrance into society. She was only in her sixteenth
year, yet older than her mother when mistress of her own household. The
only ambition the mother cherished was that she might win the love of
an honest man and build for herself a beautiful home on the site of the
cottage covered with trailing roses. In this home dream for Marion she
found a great sustaining joy to which nothing in the life of man
The ball had its political significance which the military martinet
who commanded the post understood. It was the way the people of
Piedmont expressed to him and the world their contempt for the farce of
an election he had conducted, and their indifference as to the result
he would celebrate with many guns before midnight.
The young people of the town were out in force. Marion was a
universal favourite. The grace, charm, and tender beauty of the
Southern girl of sixteen were combined in her with a gentle and
unselfish disposition. Amid poverty that was pitiful, unconscious of
its limitations, her thoughts were always of others, and she was the
one human being everybody had agreed to love. In the village in which
she lived wealth counted for naught. She belonged to the aristocracy of
poetry, beauty, and intrinsic worth, and her people knew no other.
As she stood in the long dining-room, dressed in her first ball
costume of white organdy and lace, the little plump shoulders peeping
through its meshes, she was the picture of happiness. A half-dozen boys
hung on every word as the utterance of an oracle. She waved gently an
old ivory fan with white down on its edges in a way the charm of which
is the secret birthright of every Southern girl.
Now and then she glanced at the door for some one who had not yet
Phil paid his tribute to her with genuine feeling, and Marion repaid
him by whispering:
Margaret's dressed to killall in soft azure blueher rosy
cheeks, black hair, and eyes never shone as they do to-night. She
doesn't dance on account of her Sunday-schoolit's all for you.
Phil blushed and smiled.
The preacher won't be here?
Our rector will.
He's a nice old gentleman. I'm fond of him. Miss Marion, your
mother is a genius. I hope she can plan these little affairs oftener.
It was half-past ten o'clock when Ben Cameron entered the room with
Elsie a little ruffled at his delay over imaginary business at his
office. Ben answered her criticisms with a strange elation. She had
felt a secret between them and resented it.
At Mrs. Lenoir's special request, he had put on his full uniform of
a Confederate Colonel in honour of Marion and the poem her father had
written of one of his gallant charges. He had not worn it since he fell
that day in Phil's arms.
No one in the room had ever seen him in this Colonel's uniform. Its
yellow sash with the gold fringe and tassels was faded and there were
two bullet holes in the coat. A murmur of applause from the boys, sighs
and exclamations from the girls swept the room as he took Marion's
hand, bowed and kissed it. Her blue eyes danced and smiled on him with
Ben, you're the handsomest thing I've ever seen! she said softly.
Thanks. I thought you had a mirror. I'll send you one, he
answered, slipping his arm around her and gliding away to the strains
of a waltz. The girl's hand trembled as she placed it on his shoulder,
her cheeks were flushed, and her eyes had a wistful dreamy look in
When Ben rejoined Elsie and they strolled on the lawn, the military
commandant suddenly confronted them with a squad of soldiers.
I'll trouble you for those buttons and shoulder straps, said the
Elsie's amber eyes began to spit fire. Ben stood still and smiled.
What do you mean? she asked.
That I will not be insulted by the wearing of this uniform to-day.
I dare you to touch it, coward, poltroon! cried the girl, her
plump little figure bristling in front of her lover.
Ben laid his hand on her arm and gently drew her back to his side:
He has the power to do this. It is a technical violation of law to
wear them. I have surrendered. I am a gentleman and I have been a
soldier. He can have his tribute. I've promised my father to offer no
violence to the military authority of the United States.
He stepped forward, and the officer cut the buttons from his coat
and ripped the straps from his shoulders.
While the performance was going on, Ben quietly said:
General Grant at Appomattox, with the instincts of a great soldier,
gave our men his spare horses and ordered that Confederate officers
retain their side-arms. The General is evidently not in touch with this
No: I'm in command in this county, said the Captain.
When he had gone, Elsie's eyes were dim. They strolled under the
shadow of the great oak and stood in silence, listening to the music
within and the distant murmur of the falls.
Why is it, sweetheart, that a girl will persist in admiring brass
buttons? Ben asked softly.
She raised her lips to his for a kiss and answered:
Because a soldier's business is to die for his country.
As Ben led her back into the ballroom and surrendered her to a
friend for a dance, the first gun pealed its note of victory from the
square in the celebration of the triumph of the African slave over his
Ben strolled out in the street to hear the news.
The Constitution had been ratified by an enormous majority, and a
Legislature elected composed of 101 negroes and 23 white men. Silas
Lynch had been elected Lieutenant-Governor, a negro Secretary of State,
a negro Treasurer, and a negro Justice of the Supreme Court.
When Bizzel, the wizzen-faced agent of the Freedman's Bureau, made
this announcement from the courthouse steps, pandemonium broke lose. An
incessant rattle of musketry began in which ball cartridges were used,
the missiles whistling over the town in every direction. Yet within
half an hour the square was deserted and a strange quiet followed the
Old Aleck staggered by the hotel, his drunkenness having reached the
Behold, a curiosity, gentlemen, cried Ben to a group of boys who
had gathered, a voter is come among usin fact, he is the people, the
king, our representative elect, the Honourable Alexander Lenoir, of the
county of Ulster!
Gemmens, de Lawd's bin good ter me, said Aleck, weeping copiously.
They say the rat labels were in a majority in this precincthow
was that? asked Ben.
Yessahdat what de scornful saydem dat sets in de seat o' de
scornful, but de Lawd er Hosts He fetch 'em low. Mistah Bissel de Buro
man count all dem rat votes right, sahdey couldn't fool himhe know
what dey meanhe count 'em all for me an' de ratification.
Sure-pop! said Ben; if you can't ratify with a rat, I'd like to
Dat's what I tells 'em, sah.
Of course, said Ben good-humouredly. The voice of the people is
the voice of Godrats or no ratsif you know how to count.
As old Aleck staggered away, the sudden crash of a volley of
musketry echoed in the distance.
What's that? asked Ben, listening intently. The sound was
unmistakable to a soldier's earthat volley from a hundred rifles at a
single word of command. It was followed by a shot on a hill in the
distance, and then by a faint echo, farther still. Ben listened a few
moments and turned into the lawn of the hotel. The music suddenly
stopped, the tramp of feet echoed on the porch, a woman screamed, and
from the rear of the house came the cry:
Almost at the same moment an immense sheet of flame shot skyward
from the big barn.
My God! groaned Ben. Jake's in jail to-night, and they've set the
barn on fire. It's worth more than the house.
The crowd rushed down the hill to the blazing building, Marion's
fleet figure in its flying white dress leading the crowd.
The lowing of the cows and the wild neighing of the horses rang
above the roar of the flames.
Before Ben could reach the spot Marion had opened every stall. Two
cows leaped out to safety, but not a horse would move from its stall,
and each moment wilder and more pitiful grew their death cries.
Marion rushed to Ben, her eyes dilated, her face as white as the
dress she wore.
Oh, Ben, Queen won't come out! What shall I do?
You can do nothing, child. A horse won't come out of a burning
stable unless he's blindfolded. They'll all be burned to death.
Oh! no! the girl cried in agony.
They'd trample you to death if you tried to get them out. It can't
be helped. It's too late.
As Ben looked back at the gathering crowd, Marion suddenly snatched
a horse blanket, lying at the door, ran with the speed of a deer to the
pond, plunged in, sprang out, and sped back to the open door of Queen's
stall, through which her shrill cry could be heard above the others.
As the girl ran toward the burning building, her thin white dress
clinging close to her exquisite form, she looked like the marble figure
of a sylph by the hand of some great master into which God had suddenly
breathed the breath of life.
As they saw her purpose, a cry of horror rose from the crowd, her
mother's scream loud above the rest.
Ben rushed to catch her, shouting:
Marion! Marion! She'll trample you to death!
He was too late. She leaped into the stall. The crowd held their
breath. There was a moment of awful suspense, and the mare sprang
through the open door with the little white figure clinging to her mane
and holding the blanket over her head.
A cheer rang above the roar of the flames. The girl did not loose
her hold until her beautiful pet was led to a place of safety, while
she clung to her neck and laughed and cried for joy. First her mother,
then Margaret, Mrs. Cameron, and Elsie took her in their arms.
As Ben approached the group, Elsie whispered to him: Kiss her!
Ben took her hand, his eyes full of unshed tears, and said:
The bravest deed a woman ever didyou're a heroine, Marion!
Before she knew it he stooped and kissed her.
She was very still for a moment, smiled, trembled from head to foot,
blushed scarlet, took her mother by the hand, and without a word
hurried to the house.
Poor Becky was whining among the excited crowd and sought in vain
for Marion. At last she got Margaret's attention, caught her dress in
her teeth and led her to a corner of the lot, where she had laid side
by side her puppies, smothered to death. She stood and looked at them
with her tail drooping, the picture of despair. Margaret burst into
tears and called Ben.
He bent and put his arm around the setter's neck and stroked her
head with his hand. Looking at up his sister, he said:
Don't tell Marion of this. She can't stand any more to-night.
The crowd had all dispersed, and the flames had died down for want
of fuel. The odour of roasting flesh, pungent and acrid, still lingered
a sharp reminder of the tragedy.
Ben stood on the back porch, talking in low tones to his father.
Will you join us now, sir? We need the name and influence of men of
My boy, two wrongs never made a right. It's better to endure
awhile. The sober commonsense of the Nation will yet save us. We must
appeal to it.
Eight more fires were seen from town to-night.
You only guess their origin.
I know their origin. It was done by the League at a signal as a
celebration of the election and a threat of terror to the county. One
of our men concealed a faithful negro under the floor of the
school-house and heard the plot hatched. We expected it a month
agobut hoped they had given it up.
Even so, my boy, a secret society such as you have planned means a
conspiracy that may bring exile or death. I hate lawlessness and
disorder. We have had enough of it. Your clan means ultimately martial
law. At least we will get rid of these soldiers by this election. They
have done their worst to me, but we may save others by patience.
It's the only way, sir. The next step will be a black hand on a
white woman's throat!
The doctor frowned. Let us hope for the best. Your clan is the last
act of desperation.
But if everything else fail, and this creeping horror becomes a
My boy, we will pray that God may never let us live to see the
[Illustration: THE BLACK MASTERS OF THE SOUTH DURING
CHAPTER VIII. THE RIOT IN THE
Alarmed at the possible growth of the secret clan into which Ben had
urged him to enter, Dr. Cameron determined to press for relief from
oppression by an open appeal to the conscience of the Nation.
He called a meeting of conservative leaders in a Taxpayers'
Convention at Columbia. His position as leader had been made supreme by
the indignities he had suffered, and he felt sure of his ability to
accomplish results. Every county in the State was represented by its
best men in this gathering at the Capitol.
The day he undertook to present his memorial to the Legislature was
one he never forgot. The streets were crowded with negroes who had come
to town to hear Lynch, the Lieutenant-Governor, speak in a
mass-meeting. Negro policemen swung their clubs in his face as he
pressed through the insolent throng up the street to the stately marble
Capitol. At the door a black, greasy trooper stopped him to parley.
Every decently dressed white man was regarded a spy.
As he passed inside the doors of the House of Representatives the
rush of foul air staggered him. The reek of vile cigars and stale
whiskey, mingled with the odour of perspiring negroes, was
overwhelming. He paused and gasped for breath.
The space behind the seats of the members was strewn with corks,
broken glass, stale crusts, greasy pieces of paper, and picked bones.
The hall was packed with negroes, smoking, chewing, jabbering, pushing,
A carpet-bagger at his elbow was explaining to an old darkey from
down east why his forty acres and a mule hadn't come.
On the other side of him a big negro bawled:
Dat's all right! De cullud man on top!
The doctor surveyed the hall in dismay. At first not a white member
was visible. The galleries were packed with negroes. The Speaker
presiding was a negro, the Clerk a negro, the doorkeepers negroes, the
little pages all coal-black negroes, the Chaplain a negro. The negro
party consisted of one hundred and oneninety-four blacks and seven
scallawags, who claimed to be white. The remains of Aryan civilization
were represented by twenty-three white men from the Scotch-Irish hill
The doctor had served three terms as the member from Ulster in this
hall in the old days, and its appearance now was beyond any conceivable
depth of degradation.
The ninety-four Africans, constituting almost its solid membership,
were a motley crew. Every negro type was there, from the genteel butler
to the clodhopper from the cotton and rice fields. Some had on
second-hand seedy frock-coats their old master had given them before
the war, glossy and threadbare. Old stovepipe hats, of every style in
vogue since Noah came out of the ark, were placed conspicuously on the
desks or cocked on the backs of the heads of the honourable members.
Some wore the coarse clothes of the field, stained with red mud.
Old Aleck, he noted, had a red woollen comforter wound round his
neck in place of a shirt or collar. He had tried to go barefooted, but
the Speaker had issued a rule that members should come shod. He was
easing his feet by placing his brogans under the desk, wearing only his
Each member had his name painted in enormous gold letters on his
desk, and had placed beside it a sixty-dollar French imported spittoon.
Even the Congress of the United States, under the inspiration of Oakes
Ames and Speaker Colfax, could only afford one of domestic make, which
cost a dollar.
The uproar was deafening. From four to six negroes were trying to
speak at the same time. Aleck's majestic mouth with blue gums and
projecting teeth led the chorus as he ambled down the aisle, his
bow-legs flying their red-sock ensigns.
The Speaker singled him outhis voice was something which simply
could not be ignoredrapped and yelled:
De gemman from Ulster set down!
Aleck turned crestfallen and resumed his seat, throwing his big flat
feet in their red woollens up on his desk and hiding his face behind
their enormous spread.
He had barely settled in his chair before a new idea flashed through
his head and up he jumped again:
Mistah Speaker! he bawled.
Orda da! yelled another.
Knock 'im in de head!
The Speaker pointed his gavel at Aleck and threatened him
Ef de gemman from Ulster doan set down I gwine call 'im ter orda!
Uncle Aleck greeted this threat with a wild guffaw, which the whole
House about him joined in heartily. They laughed like so many hens
cacklingwhen one started the others would follow.
The most of them were munching peanuts, and the crush of hulls under
heavy feet added a subnote to the confusion like the crackle of a
The ambition of each negro seemed to be to speak at least a
half-dozen times on each question, saying the same thing every time.
No man was allowed to talk five minutes without an interruption
which brought on another and another until the speaker was drowned in a
storm of contending yells. Their struggles to get the floor with
bawlings, bellowings, and contortions, and the senseless rap of the
Speaker's gavel, were something appalling.
On this scene, through fetid smoke and animal roar, looked down from
the walls, in marble bas-relief, the still white faces of Robert Hayne
and George McDuffie, through whose veins flowed the blood of Scottish
kings, while over it brooded in solemn wonder the face of John Laurens,
whose diplomatic genius at the court of France won millions of gold for
our tottering cause, and sent a French fleet and army into the
Chesapeake to entrap Cornwallis at Yorktown.
The little group of twenty-three white men, the descendants of these
spirits, to whom Dr. Cameron had brought his memorial, presented a
pathetic spectacle. Most of them were old men, who sat in grim silence
with nothing to do or say as they watched the rising black tide, their
dignity, reserve, and decorum at once the wonder and the shame of the
At least they knew that the minstrel farce being enacted on that
floor was a tragedy as deep and dark as was ever woven of the blood and
tears of a conquered people. Beneath those loud guffaws they could hear
the death rattle in the throat of their beloved State, barbarism
strangling civilization by brute force.
For all the stupid uproar, the black leaders of this mob knew what
they wanted. One of them was speaking now, the leader of the House, the
Honourable Napoleon Whipper.
Dr. Cameron had taken his seat in the little group of white members
in one corner of the chamber, beside an old friend from an adjoining
county whom he had known in better days.
Now listen, said his friend. When Whipper talks he always says
Mr. Speaker, I move you, sir, in view of the arduous duties which
our presiding officer has performed this week for the State, that he be
allowed one thousand dollars extra pay.
The motion was put without debate and carried.
The Speaker then called Whipper to the Chair and made the same
motion, to give the Leader of the House an extra thousand dollars for
the performance of his heavy duties.
It was carried.
What does that mean? asked the doctor.
Very simple; Whipper and the Speaker adjourned the House yesterday
afternoon to attend a horse race. They lost a thousand dollars each
betting on the wrong horse. They are recuperating after the strain.
They are booked for judges of the Supreme Court when they finish this
job. The negro mass-meeting to-night is to indorse their names for the
Is it possible! the doctor exclaimed.
When Whipper resumed his place at his desk, the introduction of
bills began. One after another were sent to the Speaker's desk, a
measure to disarm the whites and equip with modern rifles a negro
militia of 80,000 men; to make the uniform of Confederate gray the garb
of convicts in South Carolina, with a sign of the rank to signify the
degree of crime; to prevent any person calling another a nigger; to
require men to remove their hats in the presence of all officers, civil
or military, and all disfranchised men to remove their hats in the
presence of voters; to force black and whites to attend the same
schools and open the State University to negroes; to permit the
intermarriage of whites and blacks; and to inforce social equality.
Whipper made a brief speech on the last measure:
Before I am through, I mean that it shall be known that Napoleon
Whipper is as good as any man in South Carolina. Don't tell me that I
am not on an equality with any man God ever made.
Dr. Cameron turned pale, and trembling with excitement, asked his
Can that man pass such measures, and the Governor sign them?
He can pass anything he wishes. The Governor is his creaturea
dirty little scallawag who tore the Union flag from Fort Sumter,
trampled it in the dust, and helped raise the flag of Confederacy over
it. Now he is backed by the Government at Washington. He won his
election by dancing at negro balls and the purchase of delegates. His
salary as Governor is $3,500 a year, and he spends over $40,000.
Comment is unnecessary. This Legislature has stolen millions of
dollars, and already bankrupted the treasury. The day Howle was elected
to the Senate of the United States every negro on the floor had his
roll of bills and some of them counted it out on their desks. In your
day the annual cost of the State government was $400,000. This year it
is $2,000,000. These thieves steal daily. They don't deny it. They
simply dare you to prove it. The writing paper on the desks cost
$16,000. These clocks on the wall $600 each, and every little Radical
newspaper in the State has been subsidized in sums varying from $1,000
to $7,000. Each member is allowed to draw for mileage, per diem, and
'sundries.' God only knows what the bill for 'sundries' will aggregate
by the end of the session.
I couldn't conceive of this! exclaimed the doctor.
I've only given you a hint. We are a conquered race. The iron hand
of Fate is on us. We can only wait for the shadows to deepen into
night. President Grant appears to be a babe in the woods. Schuyler
Colfax, the Vice-president, and Belknap, the Secretary of War, are in
the saddle in Washington. I hear things are happening there that are
quite interesting. Besides, Congress now can give little relief. The
real lawmaking power in America is the State Legislature. The State
lawmaker enters into the holy of holies of our daily life. Once more we
are a sovereign Statea sovereign negro State.
I fear my mission is futile, said the doctor.
It's ridiculousI'll call for you to-night and take you to hear
Lynch, our Lieutenant-Governor. He is a remarkable man. Our negro
Supreme Court Judge will preside
Uncle Aleck, who had suddenly spied Dr. Cameron, broke in with a
I 'clar ter goodness, Dr. Cammun, I didn't know you wuz here, sah.
I sho' glad ter see you. I axes yer ter come across de street ter my
room; I got sumfin' pow'ful pertickler ter say ter you.
The doctor followed Aleck out of the hall and across the street to
his room in a little boarding-house. His door was locked, and the
windows darkened by blinds. Instead of opening the blinds he lighted a
Ob cose, Dr. Cammun, you say nuffin 'bout what I gwine tell you?
Certainly not, Aleck.
The room was full of drygoods boxes. The space under the bed was
packed, and they were piled to the ceiling around the walls.
Why, what's all this, Aleck?
The member from Ulster chuckled:
Dr. Cammun, yu'se been er pow'ful frien' ter megimme medicine
lots er times, en I hain't nebber paid you nuttin'. I'se sho' come
inter de kingdom now, en I wants ter pay my respects ter you, sah. Des
look ober dat paper, en mark what you wants, en I hab 'em sont home fur
The member from Ulster handed his physician a printed list of more
than five hundred articles of merchandise. The doctor read it over with
I don't understand it, Aleck. Do you own a store?
Na-sah, but we git all we wants fum mos' eny ob 'em. Dem's
'sundries,' sah, dat de Gubment gibs de members. We des orda what we
needs. No trouble 'tall, sah. De men what got de goods come roun' en
beg us ter take 'em.
The doctor smiled in spite of the tragedy back of the joke.
Let's see some of the goods, Aleckare they first class?
Yessah; de bes' goin'. I show you.
He pulled out a number of boxes and bundles, exhibiting carpets,
door mats, hassocks, dog collars, cow bells, oilcloths, velvets,
mosquito nets, damask, Irish linen, billiard outfits, towels, blankets,
flannels, quilts, women's hoods, hats, ribbons, pins, needles,
scissors, dumb bells, skates, crape skirt braids, tooth brushes, face
powder, hooks and eyes, skirts, bustles, chignons, garters, artificial
busts, chemises, parasols, watches, jewellery, diamond earrings,
ivory-handled knives and forks, pistols and guns, and a Webster's
Got lots mo' in dem boxes nailed up daryessah, hit's no use er
lettin' good tings go by yer when you kin des put out yer han' en stop
'em! Some er de members ordered horses en carriages, but I tuk er par
er fine mules wid harness en two buggies an er wagin. Dey 'roun at de
libry stable, sah.
The doctor thanked Aleck for his friendly feeling, but told him it
was, of course, impossible for him at this time, being only a taxpayer
and neither a voter nor a member of the Legislature, to share in his
supply of sundries.
He went to the warehouse that night with his friend to hear Lynch,
wondering if his mind were capable of receiving another shock.
This meeting had been called to indorse the candidacy, for Justice
of the Supreme Court, of Napoleon Whipper, the Leader of the House, the
notorious negro thief and gambler, and of William Pitt Moses, an
ex-convict, his confederate in crime. They had been unanimously chosen
for the positions by a secret caucus of the ninety-four negro members
of the House. This addition to the Court, with the negro already a
member, would give a majority to the black man on the last Tribunal of
The few white men of the party who had any sense of decency were in
open revolt at this atrocity. But their influence was on the wane. The
carpet-bagger shaped the first Convention and got the first plums of
office. Now the negro was in the saddle, and he meant to stay. There
were not enough white men in the Legislature to force a roll-call on a
division of the House. This meeting was an open defiance of all
pale-faces inside or outside party lines.
Every inch of space in the big cotton warehouse was jammeda black
living cloud, pungent and piercing.
The distinguished Lieutenant-Governor, Silas Lynch, had not yet
arrived, but the negro Justice of the Supreme Court, Pinchback, was in
his seat as the presiding officer.
Dr. Cameron watched the movements of the black judge, already
notorious for the sale of his opinions, with a sense of sickening
horror. This man was but yesterday a slave, his father a medicine man
in an African jungle who decided the guilt or innocence of the accused
by the test of administering poison. If the poison killed the man, he
was guilty; if he survived, he was innocent. For four thousand years
his land had stood a solid bulwark of unbroken barbarism. Out of its
darkness he had been thrust upon the seat of judgment of the laws of
the proudest and highest type of man evolved in time. It seemed a
His thoughts were interrupted by a shout. It came spontaneous and
tremendous in its genuine feeling. The magnificent figure of Lynch,
their idol, appeared walking down the aisle escorted by the little
scallawag who was the Governor.
He took his seat on the platform with the easy assurance of
conscious power. His broad shoulders, superb head, and gleaming jungle
eyes held every man in the audience before he had spoken a word.
In the first masterful tones of his voice the doctor's keen
intelligence caught the ring of his savage metal and felt the shock of
his powerful personalitya personality which had thrown to the winds
every mask, whose sole aim of life was sensual, whose only fears were
of physical pain and death, who could worship a snake and sacrifice a
His playful introduction showed him a child of Mystery, moved by
Voices and inspired by a Fetish. His face was full of good humour, and
his whole figure rippled with sleek animal vivacity. For the moment,
life was a comedy and a masquerade teeming with whims, fancies,
ecstasies and superstitions.
He held the surging crowd in the hollow of his hand. They yelled,
laughed, howled, or wept as he willed.
Now he painted in burning words the imaginary horrors of slavery
until the tears rolled down his cheeks and he wept at the sound of his
own voice. Every dusky hearer burst into tears and moans.
He stopped, suddenly brushed the tears from his eyes, sprang to the
edge of the platform, threw both arms above his head and shouted:
Hosannah to the Lord God Almighty for Emancipation!
Instantly five thousand negroes, as one man, were on their feet,
shouting and screaming. Their shouts rose in unison, swelled into a
thunder peal, and died away as one voice.
Dead silence followed, and every eye was again riveted on Lynch. For
two hours the doctor sat transfixed, listening and watching him sway
the vast audience with hypnotic power.
There was not one note of hesitation or of doubt. It was the
challenge of race against race to mortal combat. His closing words
again swept every negro from his seat and melted every voice into a
single frenzied shout:
Within five years, he cried, the intelligence and the wealth of
this mighty State will be transferred to the negro race. Lift up your
heads. The world is yours. Take it. Here and now I serve notice on
every white man who breathes that I am as good as he is. I demand, and
I am going to have, the privilege of going to see him in his house or
his hotel, eating with him and sleeping with him, and when I see fit,
to take his daughter in marriage!
As the doctor emerged from the stifling crowd with his friend, he
drew a deep breath of fresh air, took from his pocket his conservative
memorial, picked it into little bits, and scattered them along the
street as he walked in silence back to his hotel.
CHAPTER IX. AT LOVER'S LEAP
In spite of the pitiful collapse of old Stoneman under his stroke of
paralysis, his children still saw the unconquered soul shining in his
colourless eyes. They had both been on the point of confessing their
love affairs to him and joining in the inevitable struggle when he was
stricken. They knew only too well that he would not consent to a dual
alliance with the Camerons under the conditions of fierce hatreds and
violence into which the State had drifted. They were too high-minded to
consider a violation of his wishes while thus helpless, with his
strange eyes following them about in childlike eagerness. His weakness
was mightier than his iron will.
So, for eighteen months, while he slowly groped out of mental
twilight, each had waitedElsie with a tender faith struggling with
despair, and Phil in a torture of uncertainty and fear.
In the meantime, the young Northerner had become as radical in his
sympathies with the Southern people as his father had ever been against
them. This power of assimilation has always been a mark of Southern
genius. The sight of the Black Hand on their throats now roused his
righteous indignation. The patience with which they endured was to him
amazing. The Southerner he had found to be the last man on earth to
become a revolutionist. All his traits were against it. His genius for
command, the deep sense of duty and honour, his hospitality, his
deathless love of home, his supreme constancy and sense of civic unity,
all combined to make him ultraconservative. He began now to see that it
was reverence for authority as expressed in the Constitution under
which slavery was established which made Secession inevitable.
Besides, the laziness and incapacity of the negro had been more than
he could endure. With no ties of tradition or habits of life to bind
him, he simply refused to tolerate them. In this feeling Elsie had
grown early to sympathize. She discharged Aunt Cindy for feeding her
children from the kitchen, and brought a cook and house girl from the
North, while Phil would employ only white men in any capacity.
In the desolation of negro rule the Cameron farm had become
worthless. The taxes had more than absorbed the income, and the place
was only kept from execution by the indomitable energy of Mrs. Cameron,
who made the hotel pay enough to carry the interest on a mortgage which
was increasing from season to season.
The doctor's practice was with him a divine calling. He never sent
bills to his patients. They paid something if they had it. Now they had
Ben's law practice was large for his age and experience, but his
clients had no money.
While the Camerons were growing each day poorer, Phil was becoming
rich. His genius, skill, and enterprise had been quick to see the
possibilities of the waterpower. The old Eagle cotton mills had been
burned during the war. Phil organized the Eagle &Phoenix Company,
interested Northern capitalists, bought the falls, and erected two
great mills, the dim hum of whose spindles added a new note to the
river's music. Eager, swift, modest, his head full of ideas, his heart
full of faith, he had pressed forward to success.
As the old Commoner's mind began to clear, and his recovery was
sure, Phil determined to press his suit for Margaret's hand to an
Ben had dropped a hint of an interview of the Rev. Hugh McAlpin with
Dr. Cameron, which had thrown Phil into a cold sweat.
He hurried to the hotel to ask Margaret to drive with him that
afternoon. He would stop at Lover's Leap and settle the question.
He met the preacher, just emerging from the door, calm, handsome,
serious, and Margaret by his side. The dark-haired beauty seemed
strangely serene. What could it mean? His heart was in his throat. Was
he too late? Wreathed in smiles when the preacher had gone, the girl's
face was a riddle he could not solve.
To his joy, she consented to go.
As he left in his trim little buggy for the hotel, he stooped and
kissed Elsie, whispering:
Make an offering on the altar of love for me, Sis!
You're too slow. The prayers of all the saints will not save you!
she replied with a laugh, throwing him a kiss as he disappeared in the
As they drove through the great forest on the cliffs overlooking the
river, the Southern world seemed lit with new splendours to-day for the
Northerner. His heart beat with a strange courage. The odour of the
pines, their sighing music, the subtone of the falls below, the subtle
life-giving perfume of the fullness of summer, the splendour of the sun
gleaming through the deep foliage, and the sweet sensuous air, all
seemed incarnate in the calm, lovely face and gracious figure beside
They took their seat on the old rustic built against the beech,
which was the last tree on the brink of the cliff. A hundred feet below
flowed the river, rippling softly along a narrow strip of sand which
its current had thrown against the rocks. The ledge of towering granite
formed a cave eighty feet in depth at the water's edge. From this
projecting wall, tradition said a young Indian princess once leaped
with her lover, fleeing from the wrath of a cruel father who had
separated them. The cave below was inaccessible from above, being
reached by a narrow footpath along the river's edge when entered a mile
The view from the seat, under the beech, was one of marvellous
beauty. For miles the broad river rolled in calm, shining glory
seaward, its banks fringed with cane and trees, while fields of corn
and cotton spread in waving green toward the distant hills and blue
mountains of the west.
Every tree on this cliff was cut with the initials of generations of
lovers from Piedmont.
They sat in silence for awhile, Margaret idly playing with a flower
she had picked by the pathway, and Phil watching her devoutly. The
Southern sun had tinged her face the reddish warm hue of ripened fruit,
doubly radiant by contrast with her wealth of dark-brown hair. The
lustrous glance of her eyes, half veiled by their long lashes, and the
graceful, careless pose of her stately figure held him enraptured. Her
dress of airy, azure blue, so becoming to her dark beauty, gave Phil
the impression of eiderdown feathers of some rare bird of the tropics.
He felt that if he dared to touch her she might lift her wings and sail
over the cliff into the sky and forget to light again at his side.
I am going to ask a very bold and impertinent question, Miss
Margaret, Phil said with resolution. May I?
Margaret smiled incredulously.
I'll risk your impertinence, and decide as to its boldness.
Tell me, please, what that preacher said to you to-day.
Margaret looked away, unable to suppress the merriment that played
about her eyes and mouth.
Will you never breathe it to a soul if I do?
Honest Injun, here on the sacred altar of the princess?
On my honour.
Then I'll tell you, she said, biting her lips to keep back a
laugh. Mr. McAlpin is very handsome and eloquent. I have always
thought him the best preacher we have ever had in Piedmont
Yes, I know, Phil interrupted with a frown. He is very pious,
she went on evenly, and seeks Divine guidance in prayer in everything
he does. He called this morning to see me, and I was playing for him in
the little music-room off the parlour, when he suddenly closed the door
'Miss Margaret, I am going to take, this morning, the most
important step of my life'
Of course I hadn't the remotest idea what he meant
'Will you join me in a word of prayer?' he asked, and knelt right
down. I was accustomed, of course, to kneel with him in family worship
at his pastoral calls, and so from habit I slipped to one knee by the
piano stool, wondering what on earth he was about. When he prayed with
fervour for the Lord to bless the great love with which he hoped to
hallow my lifeI giggled. It broke up the meeting. He rose and asked
me to marry him. I told him the Lord hadn't revealed it to me
Phil seized her hand and held it firmly. The smile died from the
girl's face, her hand trembled, and the rose tint on her cheeks flamed
Margaret, my own, I love you, he cried with joy. You could have
told that story only to the one man whom you loveis it not true?
Yes. I've loved you always, said the low, sweet voice.
Always? asked Phil through a tear.
Before I saw you, when they told me you were as Ben's twin brother,
my heart began to sing at the sound of your name
Call it, he whispered.
Phil, my sweetheart! she said with a laugh.
How tender and homelike the music of your voice! The world has
never seen the match of your gracious Southern womanhood! Snowbound in
the North, I dreamed, as a child, of this world of eternal sunshine.
And now every memory and dream I've found in you.
And you won't be disappointed in my simple ideal that finds its all
within a home?
No. I love the old-fashioned dream of the South. Maybe you have
enchanted me, but I love these green hills and mountains, these rivers
musical with cascade and fall, these solemn forestsbut for the Black
Curse, the South would be to-day the garden of the world!
And you will help our people lift this curse? softly asked the
girl, nestling closer to his side.
Yes, dearest, thy people shall be mine! Had I a thousand wrongs to
cherish, I'd forgive them all for your sake. I'll help you build here a
new South on all that's good and noble in the old, until its dead
fields blossom again, its harbours bristle with ships, and the hum of a
thousand industries make music in every valley. I'd sing to you in
burning verse if I could, but it is not my way. I have been awkward and
slow in love, perhapsbut I'll be swift in your service. I dream to
make dead stones and wood live and breathe for you, of victories wrung
from Nature that are yours. My poems will be deeds, my flowers the
hard-earned wealth that has a soul, which I shall lay at your feet.
Who said my lover was dumb? she sighed, with a twinkle in her
shining eyes. You must introduce me to your father soon. He must like
me as my father does you, or our dream can never come true.
A pain gripped Phil's heart, but he answered bravely:
I will. He can't help loving you.
They stood on the rustic seat to carve their initials within a
circle, high on the old beechwood book of love.
May I write it out in fullMargaret CameronPhilip Stoneman? he
Noonly the initials nowthe full names when you've seen my
father and I've seen yours. Jeannie Campbell and Henry Lenoir were once
written thus in full, and many a lover has looked at that circle and
prayed for happiness like theirs. You can see there a new one cut over
the old, the bark has filled, and written on the fresh page is 'Marion
Lenoir' with the blank below for her lover's name.
Phil looked at the freshly cut circle and laughed:
I wonder if Marion or her mother did that?
Her mother, of course.
I wonder whose will be the lucky name some day within it? said
Phil musingly as he finished his own.
CHAPTER X. A NIGHT HAWK
When the old Commoner's private physician had gone and his mind had
fully cleared, he would sit for hours in the sunshine of the vine-clad
porch, asking Elsie of the village, its life, and its people. He smiled
good-naturedly at her eager sympathy for their sufferings as at the
enthusiasm of a child who could not understand. He had come possessed
by a great ideaevents must submit to it. Her assurance that the
poverty and losses of the people were far in excess of the worst they
had known during the war was too absurd even to secure his attention.
He had refused to know any of the people, ignoring the existence of
Elsie's callers. But he had fallen in love with Marion from the moment
he had seen her. The cold eye of the old fox hunter kindled with the
fire of his forgotten youth at the sight of this beautiful girl seated
on the glistening back of the mare she had saved from death.
As she rode through the village every boy lifted his hat as to
passing royalty, and no one, old or young, could allow her to pass
without a cry of admiration. Her exquisite figure had developed into
the full tropic splendour of Southern girlhood.
She had rejected three proposals from ardent lovers, on one of whom
her mother had quite set her heart. A great fear had grown in Mrs.
Lenoir's mind lest she were in love with Ben Cameron. She slipped her
arm around her one day and timidly asked her.
A faint flush tinged Marion's face up to the roots of her delicate
blonde hair, and she answered with a quick laugh:
Mamma, how silly you are! You know I've always been in love with
Bensince I can first remember. I know he is in love with Elsie
Stoneman. I am too young, the world too beautiful, and life too sweet
to grieve over my first baby love. I expect to dance with him at his
wedding, then meet my fate and build my own nest.
Old Stoneman begged that she come every day to see him. He never
tired praising her to Elsie. As she walked gracefully up to the house
one afternoon, holding Hugh by the hand, he said to Elsie:
Next to you, my dear, she is the most charming creature I ever saw.
Her tenderness for everything that needs help touches the heart of an
old lame man in a very soft spot.
I've never seen any one who could resist her, Elsie answered. Her
gloves may be worn, her feet clad in old shoes, yet she is always neat,
graceful, dainty, and serene. No wonder her mother worships her.
Sam Ross, her simple friend, had stopped at the gate, and looked
over into the lawn as if afraid to come in.
When Marion saw Sam, she turned back to the gate to invite him in.
The keeper of the poor, a vicious-looking negro, suddenly confronted
him, and he shrank in terror close to the girl's side.
What you doin' here, sah? the black keeper railed. Ain't I done
tole you 'bout runnin' away?
You let him alone, Marion cried.
The negro pushed her roughly from his side and knocked Sam down. The
girl screamed for help, and old Stoneman hobbled down the steps,
When they reached the gate, Marion was bending over the prostrate
Oh, my, my, I believe he's killed him! she wailed.
Run for the doctor, sonny, quick, Stoneman said to Hugh. The boy
darted away and brought Dr. Cameron.
How dare you strike that man, you devil? thundered the old
'Case I tole 'im ter stay home en do de wuk I put 'im at, en he all
de time runnin' off here ter git somfin' ter eat. I gwine frail de life
outen 'im, ef he doan min' me.
Well, you make tracks back to the Poorhouse. I'll attend to this
man, and I'll have you arrested for this before night, said Stoneman,
with a scowl.
The black keeper laughed as he left.
Not 'less you'se er bigger man dan Gubner Silas Lynch, you won't!
When Dr. Cameron had restored Sam, and dressed the wound on his head
where he had struck a stone in falling, Stoneman insisted that the boy
be put to bed.
Turning to Dr. Cameron, he asked:
Why should they put a brute like this in charge of the poor?
That's a large question, sir, at this time, said the doctor
politely, and now that you have asked it, I have some things I've been
longing for an opportunity to say to you.
Be seated, sir, the old Commoner answered, I shall be glad to
Elsie's heart leaped with joy over the possible outcome of this
appeal, and she left the room with a smile for the doctor.
First, allow me, said the Southerner pleasantly, to express my
sorrow at your long illness, and my pleasure at seeing you so well.
Your children have won the love of all our people and have had our
deepest sympathy in your illness.
Stoneman muttered an inaudible reply, and the doctor went on:
Your question brings up, at once, the problem of the misery and
degradation into which our country has sunk under negro rule
Stoneman smiled coldly and interrupted:
Of course, you understand my position in politics, Doctor
CameronI am a Radical Republican.
So much the better, was the response. I have been longing for
months to get your ear. Your word will be all the more powerful if
raised in our behalf. The negro is the master of our State, county,
city, and town governments. Every school, college, hospital, asylum,
and poorhouse is his prey. What you have seen is but a sample. Negro
insolence grows beyond endurance. Their women are taught to insult
their old mistresses and mock their poverty as they pass in their old,
faded dresses. Yesterday a black driver struck a white child of six
with his whip, and when the mother protested, she was arrested by a
negro policeman, taken before a negro magistrate, and fined $10 for
'insulting a freedman.'
Stoneman frowned: Such things must be very exceptional.
They are everyday occurrences and cease to excite comment. Lynch,
the Lieutenant-Governor, who has bought a summer home here, is urging
this campaign of insult with deliberate purpose
The old man shook his head. I can't think the Lieutenant-Governor
guilty of such petty villainy.
Our school commissioner, the doctor continued, is a negro who can
neither read nor write. The black grand jury last week discharged a
negro for stealing cattle and indicted the owner for false
imprisonment. No such rate of taxation was ever imposed on a civilized
people. A tithe of it cost Great Britain her colonies. There are 5,000
homes in this county2,900 of them are advertised for sale by the
sheriff to meet his tax bills. This house will be sold next court
Stoneman looked up sharply. Sold for taxes?
Yes; with the farm which has always been Mrs. Lenoir's support. In
part her loss came from the cotton tax. Congress, in addition to the
desolation of war, and the ruin of black rule, has wrung from the
cotton farmers of the South a tax of $67,000,000. Every dollar of this
money bears the stain of the blood of starving people. They are ready
to give up, or to spring some desperate scheme of resistance
The old man lifted his massive head and his great jaws came together
with a snap:
Resistance to the authority of the National Government?
No; resistance to the travesty of government and the mockery of
civilization under which we are being throttled! The bayonet is now in
the hands of a brutal negro militia. The tyranny of military martinets
was child's play to this. As I answered your call this morning I was
stopped and turned back in the street by the drill of a company of
negroes under the command of a vicious scoundrel named Gus who was my
former slave. He is the captain of this company. Eighty thousand armed
negro troops, answerable to no authority save the savage instincts of
their officers, terrorize the State. Every white company has been
disarmed and disbanded by our scallawag Governor. I tell you, sir, we
are walking on the crust of a volcano
Old Stoneman scowled as the doctor rose and walked nervously to the
window and back.
An appeal from you to the conscience of the North might save us,
he went on eagerly. Black hordes of former slaves, with the
intelligence of children and the instincts of savages, armed with
modern rifles, parade daily in front of their unarmed former masters. A
white man has no right a negro need respect. The children of the breed
of men who speak the tongue of Burns and Shakespeare, Drake and
Raleigh, have been disarmed and made subject to the black spawn of an
African jungle! Can human flesh endure it? When Goth and Vandal
barbarians overran Rome, the negro was the slave of the Roman Empire.
The savages of the North blew out the light of Ancient Civilization,
but in all the dark ages which followed they never dreamed the leprous
infamy of raising a black slave to rule over his former master! No
people in the history of the world have ever before been so basely
betrayed, so wantonly humiliated and degraded!
Stoneman lifted his head in amazement at the burst of passionate
intensity with which the Southerner poured out his protest.
For a Russian to rule a Pole, he went on, a Turk to rule a Greek,
or an Austrian to dominate an Italian is hard enough, but for a
thick-lipped, flat-nosed, spindle-shanked negro, exuding his nauseating
animal odour, to shout in derision over the hearths and homes of white
men and women is an atrocity too monstrous for belief. Our people are
yet dazed by its horror. My God! when they realize its meaning, whose
arm will be strong enough to hold them?
I should think the South was sufficiently amused with resistance to
authority, interrupted Stoneman.
Even so. Yet there is a moral force at the bottom of every living
race of men. The sense of right, the feeling of racial destinythese
are unconquered and unconquerable forces. Every man in South Carolina
to-day is glad that slavery is dead. The war was not too great a price
for us to pay for the lifting of its curse. And now to ask a Southerner
to be the slave of a slave
And yet, Doctor, said Stoneman coolly, manhood suffrage is the
one eternal thing fixed in the nature of Democracy. It is inevitable.
At the price of racial life? Never! said the Southerner, with
fiery emphasis. This Republic is great, not by reason of the amount of
dirt we possess, the size of our census roll, or our voting
registerwe are great because of the genius of the race of pioneer
white freemen who settled this continent, dared the might of kings, and
made a wilderness the home of Freedom. Our future depends on the purity
of this racial stock. The grant of the ballot to these millions of
semi-savages and the riot of debauchery which has followed are crimes
against human progress.
Yet may we not train him? asked Stoneman.
To a point, yes, and then sink to his level if you walk as his
equal in physical contact with him. His race is not an infant; it is a
degenerateolder than yours in time. At last we are face to face with
the man whom slavery concealed with its rags. Suffrage is but the new
paper cloak with which the Demagogue has sought to hide the issue. Can
we assimilate the negro? The very question is pollution. In Hayti no
white man can own land. Black dukes and marquises drive over them and
swear at them for getting under their wheels. Is civilization a patent
cloak with which law-tinkers can wrap an animal and make him a king?
But the negro must be protected by the ballot, protested the
statesman. The humblest man must have the opportunity to rise. The
real issue is Democracy.
The issue, sir, is Civilization! Not whether a negro shall be
protected, but whether Society is worth saving from barbarism.
The statesman can educate, put in the Commoner.
The doctor cleared his throat with a quick little nervous cough he
was in the habit of giving when deeply moved.
Education, sir, is the development of that which is. Since
the dawn of history the negro has owned the continent of Africarich
beyond the dream of poet's fancy, crunching acres of diamonds beneath
his bare black feet. Yet he never picked one up from the dust until a
white man showed to him its glittering light. His land swarmed with
powerful and docile animals, yet he never dreamed a harness, cart, or
sled. A hunter by necessity, he never made an axe, spear, or arrowhead
worth preserving beyond the moment of its use. He lived as an ox,
content to graze for an hour. In a land of stone and timber he never
sawed a foot of lumber, carved a block, or built a house save of broken
sticks and mud. With league on league of ocean strand and miles of
inland seas, for four thousand years he watched their surface ripple
under the wind, heard the thunder of the surf on his beach, the howl of
the storm over his head, gazed on the dim blue horizon calling him to
worlds that lie beyond, and yet he never dreamed a sail! He lived as
his fathers livedstole his food, worked his wife, sold his children,
ate his brother, content to drink, sing, dance, and sport as the ape!
And this creature, half child, half animal, the sport of impulse,
whim, and conceit, 'pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw,' a
being who, left to his will, roams at night and sleeps in the day,
whose speech knows no word of love, whose passions, once aroused, are
as the fury of the tigerthey have set this thing to rule over the
The doctor sprang to his feet, his face livid, his eyes blazing with
emotion. Merciful Godit surpasses human belief!
He sank exhausted in his chair, and, extending his hand in an
eloquent gesture, continued:
Surely, surely, sir, the people of the North are not mad? We can
yet appeal to the conscience and the brain of our brethren of a common
Stoneman was silent as if stunned. Deep down in his strange soul he
was drunk with the joy of a triumphant vengeance he had carried locked
in the depths of his being, yet the intensity of this man's suffering
for a people's cause surprised and distressed him as all individual
pain hurt him.
Dr. Cameron rose, stung by his silence and the consciousness of the
hostility with which Stoneman had wrapped himself.
Pardon my apparent rudeness, Doctor, he said at length, extending
his hand. The violence of your feeling stunned me for the moment. I'm
obliged to you for speaking. I like a plain-spoken man. I am sorry to
learn of the stupidity of the former military commandant in this
My personal wrongs, sir, the doctor broke in, are nothing!
I am sorry, too, about these individual cases of suffering. They
are the necessary incidents of a great upheaval. But may it not all
come out right in the end? After the Dark Ages, day broke at last. We
have the printing press, railroad, and telegrapha revolution in human
affairs. We may do in years what it took ages to do in the past. May
not the black man speedily emerge? Who knows? An appeal to the North
will be a waste of breath. This experiment is going to be made. It is
written in the book of Fate. But I like you. Come to see me again.
Dr. Cameron left with a heavy heart. He had grown a great hope in
this long-wished-for appeal to Stoneman. It had come to his ears that
the old man, who had dwelt as one dead in their village, was a power.
It was ten o'clock before the doctor walked slowly back to the
hotel. As he passed the armoury of the black militia, they were still
drilling under the command of Gus. The windows were open, through which
came the steady tramp of heavy feet and the cry of Hep! Hep! Hep!
from the Captain's thick cracked lips. The full-dress officer's
uniform, with its gold epaulets, yellow stripes, and glistening sword,
only accentuated the coarse bestiality of Gus. His huge jaws seemed to
hide completely the gold braid on his collar.
The doctor watched, with a shudder, his black bloated face covered
with perspiration and the huge hand gripping his sword.
They suddenly halted in double ranks and Gus yelled:
The butts of their rifles crashed to the floor with precision, and
they were allowed to break ranks for a brief rest.
They sang John Brown's Body, and as its echoes died away a big
negro swung his rifle in a circle over his head, shouting:
Here's your regulator for white trash! En dey's nine hundred ob 'em
in dis county!
Yas, Lawd! howled another.
We got 'em down now en we keep 'em dar, chile! bawled another.
The doctor passed on slowly to the hotel. The night was dark, the
streets were without lights under their present rulers, and the stars
were hidden with swift-flying clouds which threatened a storm. As he
passed under the boughs of an oak in front of his house, a voice above
A message for you, sir.
Had the wings of a spirit suddenly brushed his cheek, he would not
have been more startled.
Who are you? he asked, with a slight tremor.
A Night Hawk of the Invisible Empire, with a message from the Grand
Dragon of the Realm, was the low answer, as he thrust a note in the
doctor's hand. I will wait for your answer.
The doctor fumbled to his office on the corner of the lawn, struck a
match, and read:
A great Scotch-Irish leader of the South from Memphis is here
to-night and wishes to see you. If you will meet General Forrest, I
will bring him to the hotel in fifteen minutes. Burn this. Ben.
The doctor walked quickly back to the spot where he had heard the
voice, and said:
I'll see him with pleasure.
The invisible messenger wheeled his horse, and in a moment the echo
of his muffled hoofs had died away in the distance.
CHAPTER XI. THE BEAT OF A SPARROW'S
Dr. Cameron's appeal had left the old Commoner unshaken in his idea.
There could be but one side to any question with such a man, and that
was his side. He would stand by his own men, too. He believed in his
own forces. The bayonet was essential to his revolutionary
programmehence the hand which held it could do no wrong. Wrongs were
accidents which might occur under any system.
Yet in no way did he display the strange contradictions of his
character so plainly as in his inability to hate the individual who
stood for the idea he was fighting with maniac fury. He liked Dr.
Cameron instantly, though he had come to do a crime that would send him
into beggared exile.
Individual suffering he could not endure. In this the doctor's
appeal had startling results.
He sent for Mrs. Lenoir and Marion.
I understand, Madam, he said gravely, that your house and farm
are to be sold for taxes.
Yes, sir; we've given it up this time. Nothing can be done, was
the hopeless answer.
Would you consider an offer of twenty dollars an acre?
Nobody would be fool enough to offer it. You can buy all the land
in the county for a dollar an acre. It's not worth anything.
I disagree with you, said Stoneman cheerfully. I am looking far
ahead. I would like to make an experiment here with Pennsylvania
methods on this land. I'll give you ten thousand dollars cash for your
five hundred acres if you will take it.
You don't mean it? Mrs. Lenoir gasped, choking back the tears.
Certainly. You can at once return to your home. I'll take another
house, and invest your money for you in good Northern securities.
The mother burst into sobs, unable to speak, while Marion threw her
arms impulsively around the old man's neck and kissed him.
His cold eyes were warmed with the first tear they had shed in
He moved the next day to the Ross estate, which he rented, had Sam
brought back to the home of his childhood in charge of a good-natured
white attendant, and installed in one of the little cottages on the
lawn. He ordered Lynch to arrest the keeper of the poor, and hold him
on a charge of assault with intent to kill, awaiting the action of the
Grand Jury. The Lieutenant-Governor received this order with sullen
angeryet he saw to its execution. He was not quite ready for a break
with the man who had made him.
Astonished at his new humour, Phil and Elsie hastened to confess to
him their love affairs and ask his approval of their choice. His reply
was cautious, yet he did not refuse his consent. He advised them to
wait a few months, allow him time to know the young people, and get his
bearings on the conditions of Southern society. His mood of tenderness
was a startling revelation to them of the depth and intensity of his
When Mrs. Lenoir returned with Marion to her vine-clad home, she
spent the first day of perfect joy since the death of her lover
husband. The deed had not yet been made of the transfer of the farm,
but it was only a question of legal formality. She was to receive the
money in the form of interest-bearing securities and deliver the title
on the following morning.
Arm in arm, mother and daughter visited again each hallowed spot,
with the sweet sense of ownership. The place was in perfect order. Its
flowers were in gorgeous bloom, its walks clean and neat, the fences
painted, and the gates swung on new hinges.
They stood with their arms about one another, watching the sun sink
behind the mountains, with tears of gratitude and hope stirring their
Ben Cameron strode through the gate, and they hurried to meet him
with cries of joy.
Just dropped in a minute to see if you are snug for the night, he
Of course, snug and so happy we've been hugging one another for
hours, said the mother. Oh, Ben, the clouds have lifted at last!
Has Aunt Cindy come yet? he asked.
No, but she'll be here in the morning to get breakfast. We don't
want anything to eat, she answered.
Then I'll come out when I'm through my business to-night, and sleep
in the house to keep you company.
Nonsense, said the mother, we couldn't think of putting you to
the trouble. We've spent many a night here alone.
But not in the past two years, he said with a frown.
We're not afraid, Marion said with a smile. Besides, we'd keep
you awake all night with our laughter and foolishness, rummaging
through the house.
You'd better let me, Ben protested.
No, said the mother, we'll be happier to-night alone, with only
God's eye to see how perfectly silly we can be. Come and take supper
with us to-morrow night. Bring Elsie and her guitarI don't like the
banjoand we'll have a little love feast with music in the moonlight.
Yes, do that, cried Marion. I know we owe this good luck to her.
I want to tell her how much I love her for it.
Well, if you insist on staying alone, said Ben reluctantly, I'll
bring Miss Elsie to-morrow, but I don't like your being here without
Aunt Cindy to-night.
Oh, we're all right! laughed Marion, but what I want to know is
what you are doing out so late every night since you've come home, and
where you were gone for the past week?
Important business, he answered soberly.
BusinessI expect! she cried. Look here, Ben Cameron, have you
another girl somewhere you're flirting with?
Yes, he answered slowly, coming closer and his voice dropping to a
whisper, and her name is Death.
Why, Ben! Marion gasped, placing her trembling hand unconsciously
on his arm, a faint flush mantling her cheek and leaving it white.
What do you mean? asked the mother in low tones.
Nothing that I can explain. I only wish to warn you both never to
ask me such questions before any one.
Forgive me, said Marion, with a tremor. I didn't think it
Ben pressed the little warm hand, watching her mouth quiver with a
smile that was half a sigh, as he answered:
You know I'd trust either of you with my life, but I can't be too
We'll remember, Sir Knight, said the mother. Don't forget, then,
to-morrowand spend the evening with us. I wish I had one of Marion's
new dresses done. Poor child, she has never had a decent dress in her
life before. You know I never look at my pretty baby grown to such a
beautiful womanhood without hearing Henry say over and over
again'Beauty is a sign of the soulthe body is the soul!'
Well, I've my doubts about your improving her with a fine dress,
he replied thoughtfully. I don't believe that more beautifully dressed
women ever walked the earth than our girls of the South who came out of
the war clad in the pathos of poverty, smiling bravely through the
shadows, bearing themselves as queens though they wore the dress of the
I'm almost tempted to kiss you for that, as you once took advantage
of me! said Marion, with enthusiasm.
The moon had risen and a whippoorwill was chanting his weird song on
the lawn as Ben left them leaning on the gate.
* * * * *
It was past midnight before they finished the last touches in
restoring their nest to its old homelike appearance and sat down happy
and tired in the room in which Marion was born, brooding and dreaming
and talking over the future.
The mother was hanging on the words of her daughter, all the baffled
love of the dead poet husband, her griefs and poverty consumed in the
glowing joy of new hopes. Her love for this child was now a triumphant
passion, which had melted her own being into the object of worship,
until the soul of the daughter was superimposed on the mother's as the
magnetized by the magnetizer.
And you'll never keep a secret from me, dear? she asked Marion.
You'll tell me all your love affairs? she asked softly, as she
drew the shining blonde head down on her shoulder.
You know I've been afraid sometimes you were keeping something back
from me, deep down in your heartand I'm jealous. You didn't refuse
Henry Grier because you loved Ben Cameronnow, did you?
The little head lay still before she answered:
[Illustration: MAE MARSH AS THE VICTIM OF RECONSTRUCTION.]
How many times must I tell you, Silly, that I've loved Ben since I
can remember, that I will always love him, and when I meet my fate, at
last, I shall boast to my children of my sweet girl romance with the
Hero of Piedmont, and they shall laugh and cry with me over
What's that? whispered the mother, leaping to her feet.
I heard nothing, Marion answered, listening.
I thought I heard footsteps on the porch.
Maybe it's Ben, who decided to come anyhow, said the girl.
But he'd knock! whispered the mother.
The door flew open with a crash, and four black brutes leaped into
the room, Gus in the lead, with a revolver in his hand, his yellow
teeth grinning through his thick lips.
Scream now, an' I blow yer brains out, he growled.
Blanched with horror, the mother sprang before Marion with a
What do you want?
Not you, said Gus, closing the blinds and handing a rope to
another brute. Tie de ole one ter de bedpost.
The mother screamed. A blow from a black fist in her mouth, and the
rope was tied.
With the strength of despair she tore at the cords, half rising to
her feet, while with mortal anguish she gasped:
For God's sake, spare my baby! Do as you will with me, and kill
medo not touch her!
Again the huge fist swept her to the floor.
Marion staggered against the wall, her face white, her delicate lips
trembling with the chill of a fear colder than death.
We have no moneythe deed has not been delivered, she pleaded, a
sudden glimmer of hope flashing in her blue eyes.
Gus stepped closer, with an ugly leer, his flat nose dilated, his
sinister bead eyes wide apart, gleaming apelike, as he laughed:
We ain't atter money!
The girl uttered a cry, long, tremulous, heart-rending, piteous.
A single tiger spring, and the black claws of the beast sank into
the soft white throat and she was still.
CHAPTER XII. AT THE DAWN OF DAY
It was three o'clock before Marion regained consciousness, crawled
to her mother, and crouched in dumb convulsions in her arms.
What can we do, my darling? the mother asked at last.
Diethank God, we have the strength left!
Yes, my love, was the faint answer.
No one must ever know. We will hide quickly every trace of crime.
They will think we strolled to Lover's Leap and fell over the cliff,
and my name will always be sweet and cleanyou understandcome, we
With swift hands, her blue eyes shining with a strange light, the
girl removed the shreds of torn clothes, bathed, and put on the dress
of spotless white she wore the night Ben Cameron kissed her and called
her a heroine.
The mother cleaned and swept the room, piled the torn clothes and
cord in the fireplace and burned them, dressed herself as if for a
walk, softly closed the doors, and hurried with her daughter along the
old pathway through the moonlit woods.
At the edge of the forest she stopped and looked back tenderly at
the little home shining amid the roses, caught their faint perfume and
Let's go back a minuteI want to see his room, and kiss Henry's
No, we are going to him nowI hear him calling us in the mists
above the cliff, said the girlcome, we must hurry. We might go mad
Down the dim cathedral aisles of the woods, hallowed by tender
memories, through which the poet lover and father had taught them to
walk with reverent feet and without fear, they fled to the old
meeting-place of Love.
On the brink of the precipice, the mother trembled, paused, drew
back, and gasped:
Are you not afraid, my dear?
No; death is sweet now, said the girl. I fear only the pity of
those we love.
Is there no other way? We might go among strangers, pleaded the
We could not escape ourselves! The thought of life is torture. Only
those who hate me could wish that I live. The grave will be soft and
cool, the light of day a burning shame.
Come back to the seat a momentlet me tell you my love again,
urged the mother. Life still is dear while I hold your hand.
As they sat in brooding anguish, floating up from the river valley
came the music of a banjo in a negro cabin, mingled with vulgar shout
and song and dance. A verse of the ribald senseless lay of the player
echoed above the banjo's pert refrain:
Chicken in de bread tray, pickin' up dough;
Granny, will your dog bite? No, chile, no!
The mother shivered and drew Marion closer.
Oh, dear! oh, dear! has it come to thisall my hopes of your
The girl lifted her head and kissed the quivering lips.
With what loving wonder we saw you grow, she sighed, from a
tottering babe on to the hour we watched the mystic light of maidenhood
dawn in your blue eyesand all to end in this hideous, leprous shame.
NoNo! I will not have it! It's only a horrible dream! God is not
The young mother sank to her knees and buried her face in Marion's
lap in a hopeless paroxysm of grief.
The girl bent, kissed the curling hair, and smoothed it with her
A sparrow chirped in the tree above, a wren twittered in a bush, and
down on the river's bank a mocking-bird softly waked his mate with a
note of thrilling sweetness. The morning is coming, dearest; we must
go, said Marion. This shame I can never forget, nor will the world
forget. Death is the only way.
They walked to the brink, and the mother's arms stole round the
Oh, my baby, my beautiful darling, life of my life, heart of my
heart, soul of my soul!
They stood for a moment, as if listening to the music of the falls,
looking out over the valley faintly outlining itself in the dawn. The
first far-away streaks of blue light on the mountain ranges, defining
distance, slowly appeared. A fresh motionless day brooded over the
world as the amorous stir of the spirit of morning rose from the moist
earth of the fields below.
A bright star still shone in the sky, and the face of the mother
gazed on it intently. Did the Woman-spirit, the burning focus of the
fiercest desire to live and will, catch in this supreme moment the
star's Divine speech before which all human passions sink into silence?
Perhaps, for she smiled. The daughter answered with a smile; and then,
hand in hand, they stepped from the cliff into the mists and on through
the opal gates of death.
Book IVThe Ku Klux Klan
CHAPTER I. THE HUNT FOR THE ANIMAL
Aunt Cindy came at seven o'clock to get breakfast, and finding the
house closed and no one at home, supposed Mrs. Lenoir and Marion had
remained at the Cameron House for the night. She sat down on the steps,
waited grumblingly an hour, and then hurried to the hotel to scold her
former mistress for keeping her out so long.
Accustomed to enter familiarly, she thrust her head into the
dining-room, where the family were at breakfast with a solitary guest,
muttering the speech she had been rehearsing on the way:
I lak ter know what sort er way diswhar's Miss Jeannie?
Ben leaped to his feet.
Isn't she at home?
Been waitin' dar two hours.
Great God! he groaned, springing through the door and rushing to
saddle the mare. As he left he called to his father: Let no one know
till I return.
At the house he could find no trace of the crime he had suspected.
Every room was in perfect order. He searched the yard carefully and
under the cedar by the window he saw the barefoot tracks of a negro.
The white man was never born who could make that track. The enormous
heel projected backward, and in the hollow of the instep where the dirt
would scarcely be touched by an Aryan was the deep wide mark of the
African's flat foot. He carefully measured it, brought from an outhouse
a box, and fastened it over the spot.
It might have been an ordinary chicken thief, of course. He could
not tell, but it was a fact of big import. A sudden hope flashed
through his mind that they might have risen with the sun and strolled
to their favourite haunt at Lover's Leap.
In two minutes he was there, gazing with hard-set eyes at Marion's
hat and handkerchief lying on the shelving rock.
The mare bent her glistening neck, touched the hat with her nose,
lifted her head, dilated her delicate nostrils, looked out over the
cliff with her great soft half-human eyes and whinnied gently.
Ben leaped to the ground, picked up the handkerchief, and looked at
the initials, M. L., worked in the corner. He knew what lay on the
river's brink below as well as if he stood over the dead bodies. He
kissed the letters of her name, crushed the handkerchief in his locked
hands, and cried:
Now, Lord God, give me strength for the service of my people!
He hurriedly examined the ground, amazed to find no trace of a
struggle or crime. Could it be possible they had ventured too near the
brink and fallen over?
He hurried to report to his father his discoveries, instructed his
mother and Margaret to keep the servants quiet until the truth was
known, and the two men returned along the river's brink to the foot of
They found the bodies close to the water's edge, Marion had been
killed instantly. Her fair blonde head lay in a crimson circle sharply
defined in the white sand. But the mother was still warm with life. She
had scarcely ceased to breathe. In one last desperate throb of love the
trembling soul had dragged the dying body to the girl's side, and she
had died with her head resting on the fair round neck as though she had
kissed her and fallen asleep.
Father and son clasped hands and stood for a moment with uncovered
heads. The doctor said at length:
Go to the coroner at once and see that he summons the jury you
select and hand to him. Bring them immediately. I will examine the
bodies before they arrive.
Ben took the negro coroner into his office alone, turned the key,
told him of the discovery, and handed him the list of the jury.
I'll hatter see Mr. Lynch fust, sah, he answered.
Ben placed his hand on his hip pocket and said coldly:
Put your cross-mark on those forms I've made out there for you, go
with me immediately, and summon these men. If you dare put a negro on
this jury, or open your mouth as to what has occurred in this room,
I'll kill you.
The negro tremblingly did as he was commanded.
The coroner's jury reported that the mother and daughter had been
killed by accidentally failing over the cliff.
In all the throng of grief-stricken friends who came to the little
cottage that day, but two men knew the hell-lit secret beneath the
When the bodies reached the home, Doctor Cameron placed Mrs. Cameron
and Margaret outside to receive visitors and prevent any one from
disturbing him. He took Ben into the room and locked the doors.
My boy, I wish you to witness an experiment.
He drew from its case a powerful microscope of French make.
What on earth are you going to do, sir?
The doctor's brilliant eyes flashed with a mystic light as he
Find the fiend who did this crimeand then we will hang him on a
gallows so high that all men from the rivers to ends of the earth shall
see and feel and know the might of an unconquerable race of men.
But there's no trace of him here.
We shall see, said the doctor, adjusting his instrument.
I believe that a microscope of sufficient power will reveal on the
retina of these dead eyes the image of this devil as if etched there by
fire. The experiment has been made successfully in France. No word or
deed of man is lost. A German scholar has a memory so wonderful he can
repeat whole volumes of Latin, German, and French without an error. A
Russian officer has been known to repeat the roll-call of any regiment
by reading it twice. Psychologists hold that nothing is lost from the
memory of man. Impressions remain in the brain like words written on
paper in invisible ink. So I believe of images in the eye if we can
trace them early enough. If no impression were made subsequently on the
mother's eye by the light of day, I believe the fire-etched record of
this crime can yet be traced.
Ben watched him with breathless interest.
He first examined Marion's eyes. But in the cold azure blue of their
pure depths he could find nothing.
It's as I feared with the child, he said. I can see nothing. It
is on the mother I rely. In the splendour of life, at thirty-seven she
was the full-blown perfection of womanhood, with every vital force at
its highest tension
He looked long and patiently into the dead mother's eye, rose and
wiped the perspiration from his face.
What is it, sir? asked Ben.
Without reply, as if in a trance, he returned to the microscope and
again rose with the little, quick, nervous cough he gave only in the
greatest excitement, and whispered:
Look now and tell me what you see.
Ben looked and said:
I can see nothing.
Your powers of vision are not trained as mine, replied the doctor,
resuming his place at the instrument.
What do you see? asked the younger man, bending nervously.
The bestial figure of a negrohis huge black hand plainly
definedthe upper part of the face is dim, as if obscured by a gray
mist of dawnbut the massive jaws and lips are clearmerciful
The doctor leaped to his feet livid with excitement.
Ben bent again, looked long and eagerly, but could see nothing.
I'm afraid the image is in your eye, sir, not the mother's, said
That's possible, of course, said the doctor, yet I don't believe
I've thought of the same scoundrel and tried blood hounds on that
track, but for some reason they couldn't follow it. I suspected him
from the first, and especially since learning that he left for Columbia
on the early morning train on pretended official business.
Then I'm not mistaken, insisted the doctor, trembling with
excitement. Now do as I tell you. Find when he returns. Capture him,
bind, gag, and carry him to your meeting-place under the cliff, and let
On the afternoon of the funeral, two days later, Ben received a
cypher telegram from the conductor on the train telling him that Gus
was on the evening mail due at Piedmont at nine o'clock.
The papers had been filled with accounts of the accident, and an
enormous crowd from the county and many admirers of the fiery lyrics of
the poet father had come from distant parts to honour his name. All
business was suspended, and the entire white population of the village
followed the bodies to their last resting-place.
As the crowds returned to their homes, no notice was taken of a
dozen men on horseback who rode out of town by different ways about
dusk. At eight o'clock they met in the woods near the first little
flag-station located on McAllister's farm four miles from Piedmont,
where a buggy awaited them. Two men of powerful build, who were
strangers in the county, alighted from the buggy and walked along the
track to board the train at the station three miles beyond and confer
with the conductor.
The men, who gathered in the woods, dismounted, removed their
saddles, and from the folds of the blankets took a white disguise for
horse and man. In a moment it was fitted on each horse, with buckles at
the throat, breast, and tail, and the saddles replaced. The white robe
for the man was made in the form of an ulster overcoat with cape, the
skirt extending to the top of the shoes. From the red belt at the waist
were swung two revolvers which had been concealed in their pockets. On
each man's breast was a scarlet circle within which shone a white
cross. The same scarlet circle and cross appeared on the horse's
breast, while on his flanks flamed the three red mystic letters, K. K.
K. Each man wore a white cap, from the edges of which fell a piece of
cloth extending to the shoulders. Beneath the visor was an opening for
the eyes and lower down one for the mouth. On the front of the caps of
two of the men appeared the red wings of a hawk as the ensign of rank.
From the top of each cap rose eighteen inches high a single spike held
erect by a twisted wire. The disguises for man and horse were made of
cheap unbleached domestic and weighed less than three pounds. They were
easily folded within a blanket and kept under the saddle in a crowd
without discovery. It required less than two minutes to remove the
saddles, place the disguises, and remount.
At the signal of a whistle, the men and horses arrayed in white and
scarlet swung into double-file cavalry formation and stood awaiting
orders. The moon was now shining brightly, and its light shimmering on
the silent horses and men with their tall spiked caps made a picture
such as the world had not seen since the Knights of the Middle Ages
rode on their Holy Crusades.
As the train neared the flag-station, which was dark and unattended,
the conductor approached Gus, leaned over, and said: I've just gotten
a message from the sheriff telling me to warn you to get off at this
station and slip into town. There's a crowd at the depot there waiting
for you and they mean trouble.
Gus trembled and whispered:
Den fur Gawd's sake lemme off here.
The two men who got on at the station below stepped out before the
negro, and as he alighted from the car, seized, tripped, and threw him
to the ground. The engineer blew a sharp signal, and the train pulled
In a minute Gus was bound and gagged.
One of the men drew a whistle and blew twice. A single tremulous
call like the cry of an owl answered. The swift beat of horses' feet
followed, and four white-and-scarlet clansmen swept in a circle around
One of the strangers turned to the horseman with red-winged ensign
on his cap, saluted, and said:
Here's your man, Night Hawk.
Thanks, gentlemen, was the answer. Let us know when we can be of
service to your county.
The strangers sprang into their buggy and disappeared toward the
North Carolina line.
The clansmen blindfolded the negro, placed him on a horse, tied his
legs securely, and his arms behind him to the ring in the saddle.
The Night Hawk blew his whistle four sharp blasts, and his pickets
galloped from their positions and joined him.
Again the signal rang, and his men wheeled with the precision of
trained cavalrymen into column formation three abreast, and rode toward
Piedmont, the single black figure tied and gagged in the centre of the
CHAPTER II. THE FIERY CROSS
The clansmen with their prisoner skirted the village and halted in
the woods on the river bank. The Night Hawk signalled for single file,
and in a few minutes they stood against the cliff under Lover's Leap
and saluted their chief, who sat his horse, awaiting their arrival.
Pickets were placed in each direction on the narrow path by which
the spot was approached, and one was sent to stand guard on the
shelving rock above.
Through the narrow crooked entrance they led Gus into the cave which
had been the rendezvous of the Piedmont Den of the Clan since its
formation. The meeting-place was a grand hall eighty feet deep, fifty
feet wide, and more than forty feet in height, which had been carved
out of the stone by the swift current of the river in ages past when
its waters stood at a higher level.
To-night it was lighted by candles placed on the ledges of the
walls. In the centre, on a fallen boulder, sat the Grand Cyclops of the
Den, the presiding officer of the township, his rank marked by scarlet
stripes on the white-cloth spike of his cap. Around him stood twenty or
more clansmen in their uniform, completely disguised. One among them
wore a yellow sash, trimmed in gold, about his waist, and on his breast
two yellow circles with red crosses interlapping, denoting his rank to
be the Grand Dragon of the Realm, or Commander-in-Chief of the State.
The Cyclops rose from his seat:
Let the Grand Turk remove his prisoner for a moment and place him
in charge of the Grand Sentinel at the door, until summoned.
The officer disappeared with Gus, and the Cyclops continued:
The Chaplain will open our Council with prayer.
Solemnly every white-shrouded figure knelt on the ground, and the
voice of the Rev. Hugh McAlpin, trembling with feeling, echoed through
Lord God of our Fathers, as in times past thy children, fleeing
from the oppressor, found refuge beneath the earth until once more the
sun of righteousness rose, so are we met to-night. As we wrestle with
the powers of darkness now strangling our life, give to our souls to
endure as seeing the invisible, and to our right arms the strength of
the martyred dead of our people. Have mercy on the poor, the weak, the
innocent and defenceless, and deliver us from the body of the Black
Death. In a land of light and beauty and love our women are prisoners
of danger and fear. While the heathen walks his native heath unharmed
and unafraid, in this fair Christian Southland our sisters, wives, and
daughters dare not stroll at twilight through the streets or step
beyond the highway at noon. The terror of the twilight deepens with the
darkness, and the stoutest heart grows sick with fear for the red
message the morning bringeth. Forgive our sinsthey are manybut hide
not thy face from us, O God, for thou art our refuge!
As the last echoes of the prayer lingered and died in the vaulted
roof, the clansmen rose and stood a moment in silence.
Again the voice of the Cyclops broke the stillness:
Brethren, we are met to-night at the request of the Grand Dragon of
the Realm, who has honoured us with his presence, to constitute a High
Court for the trial of a case involving life. Are the Night Hawks ready
to submit their evidence?
We are ready, came the answer.
Then let the Grand Scribe read the objects of the Order on which
your authority rests.
The Scribe opened his Book of Record, The Prescript of the Order
of the Invisible Empire, and solemnly read:
To the lovers of law and order, peace and justice, and to the
shades of the venerated dead, greeting:
This is an institution of Chivalry, Humanity, Mercy, and
Patriotism: embodying in its genius and principles all that is
chivalric in conduct, noble in sentiment, generous in manhood, and
patriotic in purpose: its particular objects being,
First: To protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenceless from
the indignities, wrongs, and outrages of the lawless, the violent, and
the brutal; to relieve the injured and the oppressed: to succour the
suffering and unfortunate, and especially the widows and the orphans of
Second: To protect and defend the Constitution of the United
States, and all the laws passed in conformity thereto, and to protect
the States and the people thereof from all invasion from any source
Third: To aid and assist in the execution of all Constitutional
laws, and to protect the people from unlawful seizure, and from trial
except by their peers in conformity to the laws of the land.
The Night Hawks will produce their evidence, said the Cyclops,
and the Grand Monk will conduct the case of the people against the
negro Augustus Cæsar, the former slave of Dr. Richard Cameron.
Dr. Cameron advanced and removed his cap. His snow-white hair and
beard, ruddy face and dark-brown brilliant eyes made a strange picture
in its weird surroundings, like an ancient alchemist ready to conduct
some daring experiment in the problem of life.
I am here, brethren, he said, to accuse the black brute about to
appear of the crime of assault on a daughter of the South
A murmur of thrilling surprise and horror swept the crowd of
white-and-scarlet figures as with one common impulse they moved closer.
His feet have been measured and they exactly tally with the negro
tracks found under the window of the Lenoir cottage. His flight to
Columbia and return on the publication of their deaths as an accident
is a confirmation of our case. I will not relate to you the scientific
experiment which first fixed my suspicion of this man's guilt. My
witness could not confirm it, and it might not be to you credible. But
this negro is peculiarly sensitive to hypnotic influence. I propose to
put him under this power to-night before you, and, if he is guilty, I
can make him tell his confederates, describe and rehearse the crime
The Night Hawks led Gus before Doctor Cameron, untied his hands,
removed the gag, and slipped the blindfold from his head.
Under the doctor's rigid gaze the negro's knees struck together, and
he collapsed into complete hypnosis, merely lifting his huge paws
lamely as if to ward a blow.
They seated him on the boulder from which the Cyclops rose, and Gus
stared about the cave and grinned as if in a dream seeing nothing.
The doctor recalled to him the day of the crime, and he began to
talk to his three confederates, describing his plot in detail, now and
then pausing and breaking into a fiendish laugh.
Old McAllister, who had three lovely daughters at home, threw off
his cap, sank to his knees, and buried his face in his hands, while a
dozen of the white figures crowded closer, nervously gripping the
revolvers which hung from their red belts.
Doctor Cameron pushed them back and lifted his hand in warning.
The negro began to live the crime with fearful realismthe journey
past the hotel to make sure the victims had gone to their home; the
visit to Aunt Cindy's cabin to find her there; lying in the field
waiting for the last light of the village to go out; gloating with
vulgar exultation over their plot, and planning other crimes to follow
its successhow they crept along the shadows of the hedgerow of the
lawn to avoid the moonlight, stood under the cedar, and through the
open windows watched the mother and daughter laughing and talking
Min' what I tells you nowTie de ole one, when I gib you de rope,
said Gus in a whisper.
My God! cried the agonized voice of the figure with the double
crossthat's what the piece of burnt rope in the fireplace meant!
Doctor Cameron again lifted his hand for silence.
Now they burst into the room, and with the light of hell in his
beady, yellow-splotched eyes, Gus gripped his imaginary revolver and
Scream, an' I blow yer brains out!
In spite of Doctor Cameron's warning, the white-robed figures
jostled and pressed closer
Gus rose to his feet and started across the cave as if to spring on
the shivering figure of the girl, the clansmen with muttered groans,
sobs, and curses falling back as he advanced. He still wore his full
Captain's uniform, its heavy epaulets flashing their gold in the
unearthly light, his beastly jaws half covering the gold braid on the
collar. His thick lips were drawn upward in an ugly leer and his
sinister bead eyes gleamed like a gorilla's. A single fierce leap and
the black claws clutched the air slowly as if sinking into the soft
Strong men began to cry like children.
Stop him! Stop him! screamed a clansman, springing on the negro
and grinding his heel into his big thick neck. A dozen more were on him
in a moment, kicking, stamping, cursing, and crying like madmen.
Doctor Cameron leaped forward and beat them off:
Men! Men! You must not kill him in this condition!
Some of the white figures had fallen prostrate on the ground,
sobbing in a frenzy of uncontrollable emotion. Some were leaning
against the walls, their faces buried in their arms.
Again old McAllister was on his knees crying over and over again:
God have mercy on my people!
When at length quiet was restored, the negro was revived, and again
bound, blindfolded, gagged, and thrown to the ground before the Grand
A sudden inspiration flashed in Doctor Cameron's eyes. Turning to
the figure with yellow sash and double cross he said:
Issue your orders and despatch your courier to-night with the old
Scottish rite of the Fiery Cross. It will send a thrill of inspiration
to every clansman in the hills.
Goodprepare it quickly! was the answer.
Doctor Cameron opened his medicine case, drew the silver
drinking-cover from a flask, and passed out of the cave to the dark
circle of blood still shining in the sand by the water's edge. He knelt
and filled the cup half full of the crimson grains, and dipped it into
the river. From a saddle he took the lightwood torch, returned within,
and placed the cup on the boulder on which the Grand Cyclops had sat.
He loosed the bundle of lightwood, took two pieces, tied them into the
form of a cross, and laid it beside a lighted candle near the silver
The silent figures watched his every movement. He lifted the cup and
Brethren, I hold in my hand the water of your river bearing the red
stain of the life of a Southern woman, a priceless sacrifice on the
altar of outraged civilization. Hear the message of your chief.
The tall figure with the yellow sash and double cross stepped before
the strange altar, while the white forms of the clansmen gathered about
him in a circle. He lifted his cap, and laid it on the boulder, and his
men gazed on the flushed face of Ben Cameron, the Grand Dragon of the
He stood for a moment silent, erect, a smouldering fierceness in his
eyes, something cruel and yet magnetic in his alert bearing.
He looked on the prostrate negro lying in his uniform at his feet,
seized the cross, lighted the three upper ends and held it blazing in
his hand, while, in a voice full of the fires of feeling, he said:
Men of the South, the time for words has passed, the hour for
action has struck. The Grand Turk will execute this negro to-night and
fling his body on the lawn of the black Lieutenant-Governor of the
The Grand Turk bowed.
I ask for the swiftest messenger of this Den who can ride till
The man whom Doctor Cameron had already chosen stepped forward:
Carry my summons to the Grand Titan of the adjoining province in
North Carolina whom you will find at Hambright. Tell him the story of
this crime and what you have seen and heard. Ask him to report to me
here the second night from this, at eleven o'clock, with six Grand
Giants from his adjoining counties, each accompanied by two hundred
picked men. In olden times when the Chieftain of our people summoned
the clan on an errand of life and death, the Fiery Cross, extinguished
in sacrificial blood, was sent by swift courier from village to
village. This call was never made in vain, nor will it be to-night, in
the new world. Here, on this spot made holy ground by the blood of
those we hold dearer than life, I raise the ancient symbol of an
unconquered race of men
High above his head in the darkness of the cave he lifted the
The Fiery Cross of old Scotland's hills! I quench its flames in the
sweetest blood that ever stained the sands of Time.
He dipped its ends in the silver cup, extinguished the fire, and
handed the charred symbol to the courier, who quickly disappeared.
CHAPTER III. THE PARTING OF THE WAYS
The discovery of the Captain of the African Guards lying in his full
uniform in Lynch's yard send a thrill of terror to the triumphant
leagues. Across the breast of the body was pinned a scrap of paper on
which was written in red ink the letters K. K. K. It was the first
actual evidence of the existence of this dreaded order in Ulster
The First Lieutenant of the Guards assumed command and held the full
company in their armoury under arms day and night. Beneath his door he
had found a notice which was also nailed on the courthouse. It appeared
in the Piedmont Eagle and in rapid succession in every newspaper
not under negro influence in the State. It read as follows:
HEADQUARTERS OF REALM NO 4.
DREADFUL ERA, BLACK EPOCH,
GENERAL ORDER NO. I.
The Negro Militia now organized in this State threatens the
extinction of civilization. They have avowed their purpose to
upon and exterminate the Ku Klux Klan, an organization which is
the sole guardian of Society. All negroes are hereby given
hours from the publication of this notice in their respective
to surrender their arms at the courthouse door. Those who refuse
take the consequences.
By order of the G. D. of Realm No. 4.
By the Grand Scribe.
The white people of Piedmont read this notice with a thrill of
exultant joy. Men walked the streets with an erect bearing which said
Stand out of the way.
For the first time since the dawn of Black Rule negroes began to
yield to white men and women the right of way on the streets.
On the day following, the old Commoner sent for Phil.
What is the latest news? he asked.
The town is in a fever of excitementnot over the discovery in
Lynch's yardbut over the blacker rumour that Marion and her mother
committed suicide to conceal an assault by this fiend.
A trumped-up lie, said the old man emphatically.
It's true, sir. I'll take Doctor Cameron's word for it.
You have just come from the Camerons?
Let it be your last visit. The Camerons are on the road to the
gallows, father and son. Lynch informs me that the murder committed
last night, and the insolent notice nailed on the courthouse door,
could have come only from their brain. They are the hereditary leaders
of these people. They alone would have the audacity to fling this crime
into the teeth of the world and threaten worse. We are face to face
with Southern barbarism. Every man now to his own standard! The house
of Stoneman can have no part with midnight assassins.
Nor with black barbarians, father. It is a question of who
possesses the right of life and death over the citizen, the organized
virtue of the community, or its organized crime. You have mistaken for
death the patience of a generous people. We call ourselves the
champions of liberty. Yet for less than they have suffered, kings have
lost their heads and empires perished before the wrath of freemen.
My boy, this is not a question for argument between us, said the
father with stern emphasis. This conspiracy of terror and
assassination threatens to shatter my work to atoms. The election on
which turns the destiny of Congress, and the success or failure of my
life, is but a few weeks away. Unless this foul conspiracy is crushed,
I am ruined, and the Nation falls again beneath the heel of a
Your nightmare of a slaveholders' oligarchy does not disturb me.
At least you will have the decency to break your affair with
Margaret Cameron pending the issue of my struggle of life and death
with her father and brother?
Then I will do it for you.
I warn you, sir, Phil cried, with anger, that if it comes to an
issue of race against race, I am a white man. The ghastly tragedy of
the condition of society here is something for which the people of the
South are no longer responsible
I'll take the responsibility! growled the old cynic.
Don't ask me to share it, said the younger man emphatically.
The father winced, his lips trembled, and he answered brokenly:
My boy, this is the bitterest hour of my life that has had little
to make it sweet. To hear such words from you is more than I can bear.
I am an old man nowmy sands are nearly run. But two human beings love
me, and I love but two. On you and your sister I have lavished all the
treasures of a maimed and strangled souland it has come to this! Read
the notice which one of your friends thrust into the window of my
bedroom last night.
He handed Phil a piece of paper on which was written:
The old club-footed beast who has sneaked into our town,
to search for health, in reality the leader of the infernal Union
League, will be given forty-eight hours to vacate the house and
this community of his presence.
K. K. K.
Are you an officer of the Union League? Phil asked in surprise.
I am its soul.
How could a Southerner discover this, if your own children didn't
By their spies who have joined the League.
And do the rank and file know the Black Pope at the head of the
No, but high officials do.
Then he is the scoundrel who placed that note in your room. It is a
clumsy attempt to forge an order of the Klan. The white man does not
live in this town capable of that act. I know these people.
My boy, you are bewitched by the smiles of a woman to deny your own
flesh and blood.
Nonsense, fatheryou are possessed by an idea which has become an
Will you respect my wishes? the old man broke in angrily.
I will not, was the clear answer. Phil turned and left the room,
and the old man's massive head sank on his breast in helpless baffled
rage and grief.
He was more successful in his appeal to Elsie. He convinced her of
the genuineness of the threat against him. The brutal reference to his
lameness roused the girl's soul. When the old man, crushed by Phil's
desertion, broke down the last reserve of his strange cold nature, tore
his wounded heart open to her, cried in agony over his deformity, his
lameness, and the anguish with which he saw the threatened ruin of his
life-work, she threw her arms around his neck in a flood of tears and
Hush, father, I will not desert you. I will never leave you, or wed
without your blessing. If I find that my lover was in any way
responsible for this insult, I'll tear his image out of my heart and
never speak his name again!
She wrote a note to Ben, asking him to meet her at sundown on
horseback at Lover's Leap.
Ben was elated at the unexpected request. He was hungry for an hour
with his sweetheart, whom he had not seen save for a moment since the
storm of excitement broke following the discovery of the crime.
He hastened through his work of ordering the movement of the Klan
for the night, and determined to surprise Elsie by meeting her in his
uniform of a Grand Dragon.
Secure in her loyalty, he would deliberately thus put his life in
her hands. Using the water of a brook in the woods for a mirror, he
adjusted his yellow sash and pushed the two revolvers back under the
cape out of sight, saying to himself with a laugh:
Betray me? Well, if she does, life would not be worth the living!
When Elsie had recovered from the first shock of surprise at the
white horse and rider waiting for her under the shadows of the old
beech, her surprise gave way to grief at the certainty of his guilt,
and the greatness of his love in thus placing his life without a
question in her hands.
He tied the horses in the woods, and they sat down on the rustic.
He removed his helmet cap, threw back the white cape showing the
scarlet lining, and the two golden circles with their flaming crosses
on his breast, with boyish pride. The costume was becoming to his
slender graceful figure, and he knew it.
You see, sweetheart, I hold high rank in the Empire, he whispered.
From beneath his cape he drew a long bundle which he unrolled. It
was a triangular flag of brilliant yellow edged in scarlet. In the
centre of the yellow ground was the figure of a huge black dragon with
fiery red eyes and tongue. Around it was a Latin motto worked in
scarlet: quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibuswhat
always, what everywhere, what by all has been held to be true. The
battle-flag of the Klan, he said; the standard of the Grand Dragon.
Elsie seized his hand and kissed it, unable to speak.
Why so serious to-night?
Do you love me very much? she answered.
Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay his life at the
feet of his beloved, he responded tenderly.
Yes, yes; I knowand that is why you are breaking my heart. When
first I met youit seems now ages and ages agoI was a vain,
self-willed, pert little thing
It's not so. I took you for an angelyou were one. You are one
Now, she went on slowly, in what I have lived through you I have
grown into an impassioned, serious, self-disciplined, bewildered woman.
Your perfect trust to-night is the sweetest revelation that can come to
a woman's soul and yet it brings to me unspeakable pain
You are guilty of murder.
Ben's figure stiffened.
The judge who pronounces sentence of death on a criminal outlawed
by civilized society is not usually called a murderer, my dear.
And by whose authority are you a judge?
By authority of the sovereign people who created the State of South
Carolina. The criminals who claim to be our officers are usurpers
placed there by the subversion of law.
Won't you give this all up for my sake? she pleaded. Believe me,
you are in great danger.
Not so great as is the danger of my sister and mother and my
sweetheartit is a man's place to face danger, he gravely answered.
This violence can only lead to your ruin and shame
I am fighting the battle of a race on whose fate hangs the future
of the South and the Nation. My ruin and shame will be of small account
if they are saved, was the even answer.
Come, my dear, she pleaded tenderly, you know that I have weighed
the treasures of music and art and given them all for one clasp of your
hand, one throb of your heart against mine. I should call you cruel did
I not know you are infinitely tender. This is the only thing I have
ever asked you to do for me
Desert my people! You must not ask of me this infamy, if you love
me, he cried.
But, listen; this is wrongthis wild vengeance is a crime you are
doing, however great the provocation. We cannot continue to love one
another if you do this. Listen: I love you better than father, mother,
life, or careerall my dreams I've lost in you. I've lived through
eternity to-day with my father
You know me guiltless of the vulgar threat against him
Yes, and yet you are the leader of desperate men who might have
done it. As I fought this battle to-day, I've lost you, lost myself,
and sunk down to the depths of despair, and at the end rang the one
weak cry of a woman's heart for her lover! Your frown can darken the
brightest sky. For your sake I can give up all save the sense of right.
I'll walk by your side in lifelead you gently and tenderly along the
way of my dreams if I can, but if you go your way, it shall be mine;
and I shall still be glad because you are there! See how humble I
amonly you must not commit crime!
Come, sweetheart, you must not use that word, he protested, with a
touch of wounded pride.
You are a conspirator
I am a revolutionist.
You are committing murder!
I am waging war.
Elsie leaped to her feet in a sudden rush of anger and extended her
Good-bye. I shall not see you again. I do not know you. You are
still a stranger to me.
He held her hand firmly.
We must not part in anger, he said slowly. I have grave work to
do before the day dawns. We may not see each other again.
She led her horse to the seat quickly and without waiting for his
assistance sprang into the saddle.
Do you not fear my betrayal of your secret? she asked.
He rode to her side, bent close, and whispered:
It's as safe as if locked in the heart of God.
A little sob caught her voice, yet she said slowly in firm tones:
If another crime is committed in this county by your Klan, we will
never see each other again.
He escorted her to the edge of the town without a word, pressed her
hand in silence, wheeled his horse, and disappeared on the road to the
North Carolina line.
CHAPTER IV. THE BANNER OF THE DRAGON
Ben Cameron rode rapidly to the rendezvous of the pickets who were
to meet the coming squadrons.
He returned home and ate a hearty meal. As he emerged from the
dining-room, Phil seized him by the arm and led him under the big oak
on the lawn:
Cameron, old boy, I'm in a lot of trouble. I've had a quarrel with
my father, and your sister has broken me all up by returning my ring. I
want a little excitement to ease my nerves. From Elsie's incoherent
talk I judge you are in danger. If there's going to be a fight, let me
Ben took his hand:
You're the kind of a man I'd like to have for a brother, and I'll
help you in lovebut as for warit's not your fight. We don't need
At ten o'clock Ben met the local Den at their rendezvous under the
cliff, to prepare for the events of the night.
The forty members present were drawn up before him in double rank of
Brethren, he said to them solemnly, I have called you to-night to
take a step from which there can be no retreat. We are going to make a
daring experiment of the utmost importance. If there is a faint heart
among you, now is the time to retire
We are with you! cried the men.
There are laws of our race, old before this Republic was born in
the souls of white freemen. The fiat of fools has repealed on paper
these laws. Your fathers who created this Nation were first
Conspirators, then Revolutionists, now Patriots and Saints. I need
to-night ten volunteers to lead the coming clansmen over this county
and disarm every negro in it. The men from North Carolina cannot be
recognized. Each of you must run this risk. Your absence from home
to-night will be doubly dangerous for what will be done here at this
negro armoury under my command. I ask of these ten men to ride their
horses until dawn, even unto death, to ride for their God, their native
land, and the womanhood of the South!
To each man who accepts this dangerous mission I offer for your bed
the earth, for your canopy the sky, for your bread stones; and when the
flash of bayonets shall fling into your face from the Square the
challenge of martial law, the protection I promise youis exile,
imprisonment, and death! Let the ten men who accept these terms step
forward four paces.
With a single impulse the whole double line of forty
white-and-scarlet figures moved quickly forward four steps!
The leader shook hands with each man, his voice throbbing with
emotion as he said:
Stand together like this, men, and armies will march and
countermarch over the South in vain! We will save the life of our
The ten guides selected by the Grand Dragon rode forward, and each
led a division of one hundred men through the ten townships of the
county and successfully disarmed every negro before day without the
loss of a life.
The remaining squadron of two hundred and fifty men from Hambright,
accompanied by the Grand Titan in command of the Province of Western
Hill Counties, were led by Ben Cameron into Piedmont as the waning moon
rose between twelve and one o'clock.
They marched past Stoneman's place on the way to the negro armoury,
which stood on the opposite side of the street a block below.
The wild music of the beat of a thousand hoofs on the cobblestones
of the street waked every sleeper. The old Commoner hobbled to his
window and watched them pass, his big hands fumbling nervously, and his
soul stirred to its depths.
The ghostlike shadowy columns moved slowly with the deliberate
consciousness of power. The scarlet circles on their breasts could be
easily seen when one turned toward the house, as could the big red
letters K. K. K. on each horse's flank.
In the centre of the line waved from a gold-tipped spear the
battle-flag of the Klan. As they passed the bright lights burning at
his gate, old Stoneman could see this standard plainly. The huge black
dragon with flaming eyes and tongue seemed a living thing crawling over
a scarlet-tipped yellow cloud.
At the window above stood a little figure watching that banner of
the Dragon pass with aching heart.
Phil stood at another, smiling with admiration for their daring:
By George, it stirs the blood to see it! You can't crush men of
The watchers were not long in doubt as to what the raiders meant.
They deployed quickly around the armoury. A whistle rang its shrill
cry, and a volley of two hundred and fifty carbines and revolvers
smashed every glass in the building. The sentinel had already given the
alarm, and the drum was calling the startled negroes to their arms.
They returned the volley twice, and for ten minutes were answered with
the steady crack of two hundred and fifty guns. A white flag appeared
at the door, and the firing ceased. The negroes laid down their arms
and surrendered. All save three were allowed to go to their homes for
the night and carry their wounded with them.
The three confederates in the crime of their captain were bound and
led away. In a few minutes the crash of a volley told their end.
The little white figure rapped at Phil's door and placed a trembling
hand on his arm:
Phil, she said softly, please go to the hotel and stay until you
know all that has happeneduntil you know the full list of those
killed and wounded. I'll wait. You understand?
As he stooped and kissed her, he felt a hot tear roll down her
Yes, little Sis, I understand, he answered.
CHAPTER V. THE REIGN OF THE KLAN
In quick succession every county followed the example of Ulster, and
the arms furnished the negroes by the State and National governments
were in the hands of the Klan. The League began to collapse in a panic
A gale of chivalrous passion and high action, contagious and
intoxicating, swept the white race. The moral, mental, and physical
earthquake which followed the first assault on one of their daughters
revealed the unity of the racial life of the people. Within the span of
a week they had lived a century.
The spirit of the South like lightning had at last leaped forth,
half startled at itself, its feet upon the ashes and the rags, its
hands tight-gripped on the throat of tyrant, thug, and thief.
It was the resistless movement of a race, not of any man or leader
of men. The secret weapon with which they struck was the most terrible
and efficient in human historythese pale hosts of white-and-scarlet
horsemen! They struck shrouded in a mantle of darkness and terror. They
struck where the power of resistance was weakest and the blow least
suspected. Discovery or retaliation was impossible. Not a single
disguise was ever penetrated. All was planned and ordered as by
destiny. The accused was tried by secret tribunal, sentenced without a
hearing, executed in the dead of night without warning, mercy, or
appeal. The movements of the Klan were like clockwork, without a word,
save the whistle of the Night Hawk, the crack of his revolver, and the
hoofbeat of swift horses moving like figures in a dream, and vanishing
in mists and shadows.
The old club-footed Puritan, in his mad scheme of vengeance and
party power, had overlooked the Covenanter, the backbone of the South.
This man had just begun to fight! His race had defied the Crown of
Great Britain a hundred years from the caves and wilds of Scotland and
Ireland, taught the English people how to slay a king and build a
commonwealth, and, driven into exile into the wilderness of America,
led our Revolution, peopled the hills of the South, and conquered the
As the young German patriots of 1812 had organized the great
struggle for their liberties under the noses of the garrisons of
Napoleon, so Ben Cameron had met the leaders of his race in Nashville,
Tennessee, within the picket lines of thirty-five thousand hostile
troops, and in the ruins of an old homestead discussed and adopted the
ritual of the Invisible Empire.
Within a few months this Empire overspread a territory larger than
modern Europe. In the approaching election it was reaching out its
daring white hands to tear the fruits of victory from twenty million
The triumph at which they aimed was one of incredible grandeur. They
had risen to snatch power out of defeat and death. Under their clan
leadership the Southern people had suddenly developed the courage of
the lion, the cunning of the fox, and the deathless faith of religious
Society was fused in the white heat of one sublime thought and beat
with the pulse of the single will of the Grand Wizard of the Klan of
Women and children had eyes and saw not, ears and heard not. Over
four thousand disguises for men and horses were made by the women of
the South, and not one secret ever passed their lips!
With magnificent audacity, infinite patience, and remorseless zeal,
a conquered people were struggling to turn his own weapon against their
conqueror, and beat his brains out with the bludgeon he had placed in
the hands of their former slaves.
Behind the tragedy of Reconstruction stood the remarkable man whose
iron will alone had driven these terrible measures through the chaos of
passion, corruption, and bewilderment which followed the first
assassination of an American President. As he leaned on his window in
this village of the South and watched in speechless rage the struggle
at that negro armoury, he felt for the first time the foundations
sinking beneath his feet. As he saw the black cowards surrender in
terror, noted the indifference and cool defiance with which those white
horsemen rode and shot, he knew that he had collided with the ultimate
force which his whole scheme had overlooked.
He turned on his big club foot from the window, clinched his fist
But I'll hang that man for this deed if it's the last act of my
The morning brought dismay to the negro, the carpet-bagger, and the
scallawag of Ulster. A peculiar freak of weather in the early morning
added to their terror. The sun rose clear and bright except for a
slight fog that floated from the river valley, increasing the roar of
the falls. About nine o'clock a huge black shadow suddenly rushed over
Piedmont from the west, and in a moment the town was shrouded in
twilight. The cries of birds were hushed and chickens went to roost as
in a total eclipse of the sun. Knots of people gathered on the streets
and gazed uneasily at the threatening skies. Hundreds of negroes began
to sing and shout and pray, while sensible people feared a cyclone or
cloud-burst. A furious downpour of rain was swiftly followed by
sunshine, and the negroes rose from their knees, shouting with joy to
find the end of the world had after all been postponed.
But that the end of their brief reign in a white man's land had
come, but few of them doubted. The events of the night were
sufficiently eloquent. The movement of the clouds in sympathy was
Old Stoneman sent for Lynch, and found he had fled to Columbia. He
sent for the only lawyer in town whom the Lieutenant-Governor had told
him could be trusted.
The lawyer was polite, but his refusal to undertake the prosecution
of any alleged member of the Klan was emphatic.
I'm a sinful man, sir, he said with a smile. Besides, I prefer to
live, on general principles.
I'll pay you well, urged the old man, and if you secure the
conviction of Ben Cameron, the man we believe to be the head of this
Klan, I'll give you ten thousand dollars.
The lawyer was whittling on a piece of pine meditatively.
That's a big lot of money in these hard times. I'd like to own it,
but I'm afraid it wouldn't be good at the bank on the other side. I
prefer the green fields of South Carolina to those of Eden. My harp
isn't in tune.
Stoneman snorted in disgust:
Will you ask the Mayor to call to see me at once?
We ain't got none, was the laconic answer.
What do you mean?
Haven't you heard what happened to his Honour last night?
The Klan called to see him, went on the lawyer with a quizzical
look at 3 A. M. Rather early for a visit of state. They gave him
forty-nine lashes on his bare back, and persuaded him that the climate
of Piedmont didn't agree with him. His Honour, Mayor Bizzel, left this
morning with his negro wife and brood of mulatto children for his home,
the slums of Cleveland, Ohio. We are deprived of his illustrious
example, and he may not be a wiser man than when he came, but he's a
much sadder one.
Stoneman dismissed the even-tempered member of the bar, and wired
Lynch to return immediately to Piedmont. He determined to conduct the
prosecution of Ben Cameron in person. With the aid of the
Lieutenant-Governor he succeeded in finding a man who would dare to
swear out a warrant against him.
As a preliminary skirmish he was charged with a violation of the
statutory laws of the United States relating to Reconstruction and
arraigned before a Commissioner.
Against Elsie's agonizing protest, old Stoneman appeared at the
courthouse to conduct the prosecution.
In the absence of the United States Marshal, the warrant had been
placed in the hands of the sheriff, returnable at ten o'clock on the
morning fixed for the trial. The new sheriff of Ulster was no less a
personage than Uncle Aleck, who had resigned his seat in the House to
accept the more profitable one of High Sheriff of the County.
There was a long delay in beginning the trial. At 10:30 not a single
witness summoned had appeared, nor had the prisoner seen fit to honour
the court with his presence.
Old Stoneman sat fumbling his hands in nervous, sullen rage, while
Phil looked on with amusement.
Send for the sheriff, he growled to the Commissioner.
In a moment Aleck appeared bowing humbly and politely to every white
man he passed. He bent halfway to the floor before the Commissioner and
Marse Ben be here in er minute, sah. He's er eatin' his breakfus'.
I run erlong erhead.
Stoneman's face was a thundercloud as he scrambled to his feet and
glared at Aleck:
Marse Ben? Did you say Marse Ben? Who's he?
Aleck bowed low again.
De young Colonel, sahMarse Ben Cameron.
And you the sheriff of this county trotted along in front to make
the way smooth for your prisoner?
Is that the way you escort prisoners before a court?
Dem kin' er prisonersyessah.
Why didn't you walk beside him?
Aleck grinned from ear to ear and bowed very low:
He say sumfin' to me, sah!
And what did he say?
Aleck shook his head and laughed:
I hates ter insinuate ter de cote, sah!
What did he say to you? thundered Stoneman.
He sayhe sayef I walk 'longside er himhe knock hell outen me,
Yessah, en I 'spec' he would, said Aleck insinuatingly. La, he's
a gemman, sah, he is! He tell me he come right on. He be here sho'.
Stoneman whispered to Lynch, turned with a look of contempt to
Aleck, and said:
Mr. Sheriff, you interest me. Will you be kind enough to explain to
this court what has happened to you lately to so miraculously change
Aleck glanced around the room nervously.
I seed sumfin'a vision, sah!
A vision? Are you given to visions?
Na-sah. Dis yere wuz er sho' 'nuff vision! I wuz er feelin' bad all
day yistiddy. Soon in de mawnin', ez I wuz gwine 'long de road, I see a
big black bird er settin' on de fence. He flop his wings, look right at
me en say, 'Corpse! Corpse! Corpse!'Aleck's voice dropped to a
whisper'en las' night de Ku Kluxes come ter see me, sah!
Stoneman lifted his beetling brows.
That's interesting. We are searching for information on that
Yessah! Dey wuz Sperits, ridin' white hosses wid flowin' white
robes, en big blood-red eyes! De hosses wuz twenty feet high, en some
er de Sperits wuz higher dan dis cote-house! Dey wuz all bal' headed,
'cept right on de top whar dere wuz er straight blaze er fire shot up
in de air ten foot high!
What did they say to you?
Dey say dat ef I didn't design de sheriff's office, go back ter
farmin' en behave myself, dey had er job waitin' fer me in hell, sah.
En shos' you born dey wuz right from dar!
Of course! sneered the old Commoner.
Yessah! Hit's des lak I tell yer. One ob 'em makes me fetch 'im er
drink er water. I carry two bucketsful ter 'im 'fo' I git done, en I
swar ter God he drink it all right dar 'fo' my eyes! He say hit wuz
pow'ful dry down below, sah! En den I feel sumfin' bus' loose inside er
me, en I disremember all dat come ter pass! I made er jump fer de
ribber bank, en de next I knowed I wuz er pullin' fur de odder sho'.
I'se er pow'ful good swimmer, sah, but I nebber git ercross er creek
befo' ez quick ez I got ober de ribber las' night.
And you think of going back to farming?
I done begin plowin' dis mornin', marster!
Don't you call me marster! yelled the old man. Are you the
sheriff of this county?
Aleck laughed loudly.
Na-sah! Dat's er joke! I ain't nuttin' but er plain niggerI wants
Evidently we need a new sheriff.
Dat's what I tell 'em, sah, dis mornin'en I des flings mysef on
de ignance er de cote!
Phil laughed aloud, and his father's colourless eyes began to spit
About what time do you think your master, Colonel Cameron, will
honour us with his presence? he asked Aleck.
Again the sheriff bowed.
He's er comin' right now, lak I tole yerhe's er gemman, sah.
Ben walked briskly into the room and confronted the Commissioner.
Without apparently noticing his presence, Stoneman said:
In the absence of witnesses we accept the discharge of this
warrant, pending developments.
Ben turned on his heel, pressed Phil's hand as he passed through the
crowd, and disappeared.
The old Commoner drove to the telegraph office and sent a message of
more than a thousand words to the White House, a copy of which the
operator delivered to Ben Cameron within an hour.
President Grant next morning issued a proclamation declaring the
nine Scotch-Irish hill counties of South Carolina in a state of
insurrection, ordered an army corps of five thousand men to report
there for duty, pending the further necessity of martial law and the
suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus.
CHAPTER VI. THE COUNTER STROKE
From the hour he had watched the capture of the armoury old Stoneman
felt in the air a current against him which was electric, as if the
dead had heard the cry of the clansmen's greeting, risen and rallied to
their pale ranks.
The daring campaign these men were waging took his breath. They were
going not only to defeat his delegation to Congress, but send their own
to take their seats, reinforced by the enormous power of a suppressed
negro vote. The blow was so sublime in its audacity, he laughed in
secret admiration while he raved and cursed.
The army corps took possession of the hill counties, quartering from
five to six hundred regulars at each courthouse; but the mischief was
done. The State was on fire. The eighty thousand rifles with which the
negroes had been armed were now in the hands of their foes. A white
rifle-club was organized in every town, village, and hamlet. They
attended the public meetings with their guns, drilled in front of the
speakers' stands, yelled, hooted, hissed, cursed, and jeered at the
orators who dared to champion or apologize for negro rule. At night the
hoofbeat of squadrons of pale horsemen and the crack of their revolvers
struck terror to the heart of every negro, carpet-bagger, and
There was a momentary lull in the excitement, which Stoneman mistook
for fear, at the appearance of the troops. He had the Governor appoint
a white sheriff, a young scallawag from the mountains who was a noted
moonshiner and desperado. He arrested over a hundred leading men in the
county, charged them with complicity in the killing of the three
members of the African Guard, and instructed the judge and clerk of the
court to refuse bail and commit them to jail under military guard.
To his amazement the prisoners came into Piedmont armed and mounted.
They paid no attention to the deputy sheriffs who were supposed to have
them in charge. They deliberately formed in line under Ben Cameron's
direction and he led them in a parade through the streets.
The five hundred United States regulars who were camped on the river
bank were Westerners. Ben led his squadron of armed prisoners in front
of this camp and took them through the evolutions of cavalry with the
precision of veterans. The soldiers dropped their games and gathered,
laughing, to watch them. The drill ended with a double-rank charge at
the river embankment. When they drew every horse on his haunches on the
brink, firing a volley with a single crash, a wild cheer broke from the
soldiers, and the officers rushed from their tents.
Ben wheeled his men, galloped in front of the camp, drew them up at
dress parade, and saluted. A low word of command from a trooper, and
the Westerners quickly formed in ranks, returned the salute, and
cheered. The officers rushed up, cursing, and drove the men back to
The horsemen laughed, fired a volley in the air, cheered, and
galloped back to the courthouse. The court was glad to get rid of them.
There was no question raised over technicalities in making out
bail-bonds. The clerk wrote the names of imaginary bondsmen as fast as
his pen could fly, while the perspiration stood in beads on his red
Another telegram from old Stoneman to the White House, and the Writ
of Habeas Corpus was suspended and Martial Law proclaimed.
Enraged beyond measure at the salute from the troops, he had two
companies of negro regulars sent from Columbia, and they camped in the
He determined to make a desperate effort to crush the fierce spirit
before which his forces were being driven like chaff. He induced Bizzel
to return from Cleveland with his negro wife and children. He was
escorted to the City Hall and reinstalled as Mayor by the full force of
seven hundred troops, and a negro guard placed around his house.
Stoneman had Lynch run an excursion from the Black Belt, and brought a
thousand negroes to attend a final rally at Piedmont. He placarded the
town with posters on which were printed the Civil Rights Bill and the
proclamation of the President declaring Martial Law.
Ben watched this day dawn with nervous dread. He had passed a
sleepless night, riding in person to every Den of the Klan and issuing
positive orders that no white man should come to Piedmont.
A clash with the authority of the United States he had avoided from
the first as a matter of principle. It was essential to his success
that his men should commit no act of desperation which would imperil
his plans. Above all, he wished to avoid a clash with old Stoneman
The arrival of the big excursion was the signal for a revival of
negro insolence which had been planned. The men brought from the
Eastern part of the State were selected for the purpose. They marched
over the town yelling and singing. A crowd of them, half drunk, formed
themselves three abreast and rushed the sidewalks, pushing every white
man, woman, and child into the street.
They met Phil on his way to the hotel and pushed him into the
gutter. He said nothing, crossed the street, bought a revolver, loaded
it and put it in his pocket. He was not popular with the negroes, and
he had been shot at twice on his way from the mills at night. The whole
affair of this rally, over which his father meant to preside, filled
him with disgust, and he was in an ugly mood.
Lynch's speech was bold, bitter, and incendiary, and at its close
the drunken negro troopers from the local garrison began to slouch
through the streets, two and two, looking for trouble.
At the close of the speaking Stoneman called the officer in command
of these troops, and said:
Major, I wish this rally to-day to be a proclamation of the
supremacy of law, and the enforcement of the equality of every man
under law. Your troops are entitled to the rights of white men. I
understand the hotel table has been free to-day to the soldiers from
the camp on the river. They are returning the courtesy extended to the
criminals who drilled before them. Send two of your black troops down
for dinner and see that it is served. I wish an example for the State.
It will be a dangerous performance, sir, the major protested.
The old Commoner furrowed his brow.
Have you been instructed to act under my orders?
I have, sir, said the officer, saluting.
Then do as I tell you, snapped Stoneman.
Ben Cameron had kept indoors all day, and dined with fifty of the
Western troopers whom he had identified as leading in the friendly
demonstration to his men. Margaret, who had been busy with Mrs. Cameron
entertaining these soldiers, was seated in the dining-room alone,
eating her dinner, while Phil waited impatiently in the parlour.
The guests had all gone when two big negro troopers, fighting drunk,
walked into the hotel. They went to the water-cooler and drank
ostentatiously, thrusting their thick lips coated with filth far into
the cocoanut dipper, while a dirty hand grasped its surface.
They pushed the dining-room door open and suddenly flopped down
She attempted to rise, and cried in rage:
How dare you, black brutes?
One of them threw his arm around her chair, thrust his face into
hers, and said with a laugh:
Don't hurry, my beauty; stay and take dinner wid us!
Margaret again attempted to rise, and screamed, as Phil rushed into
the room with drawn revolver. One of the negroes fired at him, missed,
and the next moment dropped dead with a bullet through his heart.
The other leaped across the table and through the open window.
Margaret turned, confronting both Phil and Ben with revolvers in
their hands, and fainted.
Ben hurried Phil out the back door and persuaded him to fly.
Man, you must go! We must not have a riot here to-day. There's no
telling what will happen. A disturbance now, and my men will swarm into
town to-night. For God's sake go, until things are quiet!
But I tell you I'll face it. I'm not afraid, said Phil quietly.
No, but I am, urged Ben. These two hundred negroes are armed and
drunk. Their officers may not be able to control them, and they may lay
their hands on yougogo!go!you must go! The train is due in
He half lifted him on a horse tied behind the hotel, leaped on
another, galloped to the flag-station two miles out of town, and put
him on the north-bound train.
Stay in Charlotte until I wire for you, was Ben's parting
He turned his horse's head for McAllister's, sent the two boys with
all speed to the Cyclops of each of the ten township Dens with positive
orders to disregard all wild rumours from Piedmont and keep every man
out of town for two days.
As he rode back he met a squad of mounted white regulars, who
arrested him. The trooper's companion had sworn positively that he was
the man who killed the negro.
Within thirty minutes he was tried by drum-head court-martial and
sentenced to be shot.
CHAPTER VII. THE SNARE OF THE FOWLER
Sweet was the secret joy of old Stoneman over the fate of Ben
Cameron. His death sentence would strike terror to his party, and his
prompt execution, on the morning of the election but two days off,
would turn the tide, save the State, and rescue his daughter from a
He determined to bar the last way of escape. He knew the Klan would
attempt a rescue, and stop at no means fair or foul short of civil war.
Afraid of the loyalty of the white battalions quartered in Piedmont, he
determined to leave immediately for Spartanburg, order an exchange of
garrisons, and, when the death warrant was returned from headquarters,
place its execution in the hands of a stranger, to whom appeal would be
vain. He knew such an officer in the Spartanburg post, a man of fierce,
vindictive nature, once court-martialed for cruelty, who hated every
Southern white man with mortal venom. He would put him in command of
the death watch.
He hired a fast team and drove across the county with all speed,
doubly anxious to get out of town before Elsie discovered the tragedy
and appealed to him for mercy. Her tears and agony would be more than
he could endure. She would stay indoors on account of the crowds, and
he would not be missed until evening, when safely beyond her reach.
When Phil arrived at Charlotte he found an immense crowd at the
bulletin board in front of the Observer office reading the
account of the Piedmont tragedy. To his horror he learned of the
arrest, trial, and sentence of Ben for the deed which he had done.
He rushed to the office of the Division Superintendent of the
Piedmont Air Line Railroad, revealed his identity, told him the true
story of the tragedy, and begged for a special to carry him back. The
Superintendent, who was a clansman, not only agreed, but within an hour
had the special ready and two cars filled with stern-looking men to
accompany him. Phil asked no questions. He knew what it meant. The
train stopped at Gastonia and King's Mountain and took on a hundred
The special pulled into Piedmont at dusk. Phil ran to the Commandant
and asked for an interview with Ben alone.
For what purpose, sir? the officer asked.
Phil resorted to a ruse, knowing the Commandant to be unaware of any
difference of opinion between him and his father.
I hold a commission to obtain a confession from the prisoner which
may save his life by destroying the Ku Klux Klan.
He was admitted at once and the guard ordered to withdraw until the
Phil took Ben Cameron's place, exchanging hat and coat, and wrote a
note to his father, telling in detail the truth, and asked for his
Deliver that, and I'll be out of here in two hours, he said, as he
placed the note in Ben's hand.
I'll go straight to the house, was the quick reply.
The exchange of the Southerner's slouch hat and Prince Albert for
Phil's derby and short coat completely fooled the guard in the dim
light. The men were as much alike as twins except the shade of
difference in the colour of their hair. He passed the sentinel without
a challenge, and walked rapidly toward Stoneman's house.
On the way he was astonished to meet five hundred soldiers just
arrived on a special from Spartanburg. Amazed at the unexpected
movement, he turned and followed them back to the jail.
They halted in front of the building he had just vacated, and their
commander handed an official document to the officer in charge. The
guard was changed and a cordon of soldiers encircled the prison.
The Piedmont garrison had received notice by wire to move to
Spartanburg, and Ben heard the beat of their drums already marching to
board the special.
He pressed forward and asked an interview with the Captain in
The answer came with a brutal oath:
I have been warned against all the tricks and lies this town can
hatch. The commander of the death watch will permit no interview,
receive no visitors, hear no appeal, and allow no communication with
the prisoner until after the execution. You can announce this to whom
it may concern.
But you've got the wrong man. You have no right to execute him,
said Ben excitedly.
I'll risk it, he answered, with a sneer.
Great God! Ben cried beneath his breath. The old fool has
entrapped his son in the net he spread for me!
CHAPTER VIII. A RIDE FOR A LIFE
When Ben Cameron failed to find either Elsie or her father at home,
he hurried to the hotel, walking under the shadows of the trees to
avoid recognition, though his resemblance to Phil would have enabled
him to pass in his hat and coat unchallenged by any save the keenest
He found his mother's bedroom door ajar and saw Elsie within,
sobbing in her arms. He paused, watched, and listened.
Never had he seen his mother so beautifulher face calm,
intelligent, and vital, crowned with a halo of gray. She stood, flushed
and dignified, softly smoothing the golden hair of the sobbing girl
whom she had learned to love as her daughter. Her whole being reflected
the years of homage she had inspired in husband, children, and
neighbours. What a woman! She had made war inevitable, fought it to the
bitter end; and in the despair of a negro reign of terror, still the
prophetess and high priestess of a people, serene, undismayed, and
defiant, she had fitted the uniform of a Grand Dragon on her last son,
and sewed in secret day and night to equip his men. And through it all
she was without affectation, her sweet motherly ways, gentle manner and
bearing always resistless to those who came within her influence.
If he dies, cried the tearful voice, I shall never forgive myself
for not surrendering without reserve and fighting his battles with
He is not dead yet, was the mother's firm answer. Doctor Cameron
is on Queen's back. Your lover's men will be riding to-nightthese
young dare-devil Knights of the South, with their life in their hands,
a song on their lips, and the scorn of death in their souls!
Then I'll ride with them, cried the girl, suddenly lifting her
Ben stepped into the room, and with a cry of joy Elsie sprang into
his arms. The mother stood silent until their lips met in the long
tender kiss of the last surrender of perfect love.
How did you escape so soon? she asked quietly, while Elsie's head
still lay on his breast.
Phil shot the brute, and I rushed him out of town. He heard the
news, returned on the special, took my place, and sent me for his
father. The guard has been changed and it's impossible to see him, or
communicate with the new Commandant
Elsie started and turned pale.
And father has hidden to avoid memerciful Godif Phil is
He isn't dead yet, either, said Ben, slipping his arm around her.
But we must save him without a clash or a drop of bloodshed, if
possible. The fate of our people may hang on this. A battle with United
States troops now might mean ruin for the South
But you will save him? Elsie pleaded, looking into his face.
Yesor I'll go down with him, was the steady answer.
Where is Margaret? he asked.
Gone to McAllister's with a message from your father, Mrs. Cameron
Tell her when she returns to keep a steady nerve. I'll save Phil.
Send her to find her father. Tell him to hold five hundred men ready
for action in the woods by the river and the rest in reserve two miles
out of town
May I go with her? Elsie asked eagerly.
No. I may need you, he said. I am going to find the old statesman
now, if I have to drag the bottomless pit. Wait here until I return.
Ben reached the telegraph office unobserved, called the operator at
Columbia, and got the Grand Giant of the county into the office. Within
an hour he learned that the death warrant had been received and
approved. It would be returned by a messenger to Piedmont on the
morning train. He learned also that any appeal for a stay must be made
through the Honourable Austin Stoneman, the secret representative of
the Government clothed with this special power. The execution had been
ordered the day of the election, to prevent the concentration of any
large force bent on rescue.
The old fox! Ben muttered.
From the Grand Giant at Spartanburg he learned, after a delay of
three hours, that Stoneman had left with a boy in a buggy, which he had
hired for three days, and refused to tell his destination. He promised
to follow and locate him as quickly as possible.
It was the afternoon on the day following, during the progress of
the election, before Ben received the message from Spartanburg that
Stoneman had been found at the Old Red Tavern where the roads crossed
from Piedmont to Hambright. It was only twelve miles away, just over
the line on the North Carolina side.
He walked with Margaret to the block where Queen stood saddled,
watching with pride the quiet air of self-control with which she bore
Now, my sister, you know the way to the tavern. Ride for your
sweetheart's life. Bring the old man here by five o'clock, and we'll
save Phil without a fight. Keep your nerve. The Commandant knows a
regiment of mine is lying in the woods, and he's trying to slip out of
town with his prisoner. I'll stand by my men ready for a battle at a
moment's notice, but for God's sake get here in time to prevent it.
She stooped from the saddle, pressed her brother's hand, kissed him,
and galloped swiftly over the old Way of Romance she knew so well.
On reaching the tavern, the landlord rudely denied that any such man
was there, and left her standing dazed and struggling to keep back the
A boy of eight, with big wide friendly eyes, slipped into the room,
looked up into her face tenderly, and said:
He's the biggest liar in North Carolina. The old man's right
upstairs in the room over your head. Come on; I'll show you.
Margaret snatched the child in her arms and kissed him.
She knocked in vain for ten minutes. At last she heard his voice
Go away from that door!
I'm from Piedmont, sir, cried Margaret, with an important message
from the Commandant for you.
Yes; I saw you come. I will not see you. I know everything, and I
will hear no appeal.
But you cannot know of the exchange of men, pleaded the girl.
I tell you I know all about it. I will not interfere
But you could not be so cruel
The majesty of the law must be vindicated. The judge who consents
to the execution of a murderer is not cruel. He is showing mercy to
Society. Go, now; I will not hear you.
In vain Margaret knocked, begged, pleaded, and sobbed.
At last, in a fit of desperation, as she saw the sun sinking lower
and the precious minutes flying, she hurled her magnificent figure
against the door and smashed the cheap lock which held it.
The old man sat at the other side of the room, looking out of the
window, with his massive jaws locked in rage. The girl staggered to his
side, knelt by his chair, placed her trembling hand on his arm, and
For the love of Jesus, have mercy! Come with me quickly!
With a growl of anger, he said:
[Illustration: MIRIAM COOPER AS MARGARET CAMERON.]
It was a mad impulse, in my defence as well as his own.
Impulse, yes! But back of it lay banked the fires of cruelty and
race hatred! The Nation cannot live with such barbarism rotting its
But this is war, sira war of races, and this an accident of
warbesides, his life had been attempted by them twice before.
So I've heard, and yet the negro always happens to be the
Margaret leaped to her feet and glared at the old man for a moment
in uncontrollable anger.
Are you a fiend? she fairly shrieked.
Old Stoneman merely pursed his lips.
The girl came a step closer, and extended her hand again in mute
No, I was foolish. You are not cruel. I have heard of a hundred
acts of charity you have done among our poor. Come, this is horrible!
It is impossible! You cannot consent to the death of your son
Stoneman looked up sharply:
Thank God, he hasn't married my daughter yet
Your daughter! gasped Margaret. I've told you it was Phil who
killed the negro! He took Ben's place just before the guards were
Phil!Phil? shrieked the old man, staggering to his club foot and
stumbling toward Margaret with dilated eyes and whitening face; My
boyPhil?whywhy, are you crazy?Phil? Did you sayPhil?
Yes. Ben persuaded him to go to Charlotte until the excitement
passed to avoid trouble. Come, come, sir, we must be quick! We may be
She seized and pulled him toward the door.
Yes. Yes, we must hurry, he said in a laboured whisper, looking
around dazed. You will show me the way, my childyou love himyes,
we will go quicklyquickly! my boymy boy!
Margaret called the landlord, and while they hitched Queen to the
buggy, the old man stood helplessly wringing and fumbling his big ugly
hands, muttering incoherently, and tugging at his collar as though
about to suffocate.
As they dashed away, old Stoneman laid a trembling hand on
Your horse is a good one, my child?
Yes; the one Marion savedthe finest in the county.
And you know the way?
Every foot of it. Phil and I have driven it often.
Yes, yesyou love him, he sighed, pressing her hand.
Through the long reckless drive, as the mare flew over the rough
hills, every nerve and muscle of her fine body at its utmost tension,
the father sat silent. He braced his club foot against the iron bar of
the dashboard and gripped the sides of the buggy to steady his feeble
body. Margaret leaned forward intently watching the road to avoid an
accident. The old man's strange colourless eyes stared straight in
front, wide open, and seeing nothing, as if the soul had already fled
through them into eternity.
CHAPTER IX. VENGEANCE IS MINE
It was dark long before Margaret and Stoneman reached Piedmont. A
mile out of town a horse neighed in the woods, and, tired as she was,
Queen threw her head high and answered the call.
The old man did not notice it, but Margaret knew a squadron of
white-and-scarlet horsemen stood in those woods, and her heart gave a
bound of joy.
As they passed the Presbyterian church, she saw through the open
window her father standing at his Elder's seat leading in prayer. They
were holding a watch service, asking God for victory in the eventful
struggle of the day.
Margaret attempted to drive straight to the jail, and a sentinel
I am Stoneman, sirthe real commander of these troops, said the
old man, with authority.
Orders is orders, and I don't take 'em from you, was the answer.
Then tell your commander that Mr. Stoneman has just arrived from
Spartanburg and asks to see him at the hotel immediately.
He hobbled into the parlour and waited in agony while Margaret tied
the mare. Ben, her mother and father, and every servant were gone.
In a few moments the second officer hurried to Stoneman, saluted,
We've pulled it off in good shape, sir. They've tried to fool us
with a dozen tricks, and a whole regiment has been lying in wait for us
all day. But at dark the Captain outwitted them, took his prisoner with
a squad of picked cavalry, and escaped their pickets. They've been gone
an hour, and ought to be back with the body
Old Stoneman sprang on him with the sudden fury of a madman,
clutching at his throat.
If you've killed my son, he gaspedgogo! Follow them with a
swift messenger and stop them! It's a mistakeyou're killing the wrong
manyou're killing my boyquickmy God, quickdon't stand there
staring at me!
The officer rushed to obey his order as Margaret entered.
The old man seized her arm, and said with laboured breath:
Your father, my child, ask him to come to me quickly.
Margaret hurried to the church, and an usher called the doctor to
He read the question trembling on the girl's lips.
Nothing has happened yet, my daughter. Your brother has held a
regiment of his men in readiness every moment of the day.
Mr. Stoneman is at the hotel and asks to see you immediately, she
God grant he may prevent bloodshed, said the father. Go inside
and stay with your mother.
When Doctor Cameron entered the parlour Stoneman hobbled painfully
to meet him, his face ashen, and his breath rattling in his throat as
if his soul were being strangled.
You are my enemy, Doctor, he said, taking his hand, but you are a
pious man. I have been called an infidelI am only a wilful sinnerI
have slain my own son, unless God Almighty, who can raise the dead,
shall save him! You are the man at whom I aimed the blow that has
fallen on my head. I wish to confess to you and set myself right before
God. He may hear my cry, and have mercy on me.
He gasped for breath, sank into his seat, looked around, and said:
Will you close the door?
The doctor complied with his request and returned.
We all wear masks, Doctor, began the trembling voice. Beneath lie
the secrets of love and hate from which actions move. My will alone
forged the chains of negro rule. Three forces moved meparty success,
a vicious woman, and the quenchless desire for personal vengeance. When
I first fell a victim to the wiles of the yellow vampire who kept my
house, I dreamed of lifting her to my level. And when I felt myself
sinking into the black abyss of animalism, I, whose soul had learned
the pathway of the stars and held high converse with the great spirits
of the ages
He paused, looked up in terror, and whispered:
What's that noise? Isn't it the distant beat of horses' hoofs?
No, said the doctor, listening; it's the roar of the falls we
hear, from a sudden change of the wind.
I'm done now, Stoneman went on, slowly fumbling his hands. My
life has been a failure. The dice of God are always loaded.
His great head drooped lower, and he continued:
Mightiest of all was my motive of revenge. Fierce business and
political feuds wrecked my iron mills. I shouldered their vast debts,
and paid the last mortgage of a hundred thousand dollars the week
before Lee invaded my State. I stood on the hill in the darkness,
cried, raved, cursed, while I watched the troops lay those mills in
ashes. Then and there I swore that I'd live until I ground the South
beneath my heel! When I got back to my house they had buried a
Confederate soldier in the field. I dug his body up, carted it to the
woods, and threw it into a ditch
The hand of the white-haired Southerner suddenly gripped old
Stoneman's throatand then relaxed. His head sank on his breast, and
he cried in anguish:
God be merciful to me a sinner! Would I, too, seek revenge!
Stoneman looked at the doctor, dazed by his sudden onslaught and
Yes, he was somebody's boy down here, he went on, who was loved
perhaps even as I loveI don't blame you. See, in the inside pocket
next to my heart I carry the pictures of Phil and Elsie taken from
babyhood up, all set in a little book. They don't know thisnor does
the world dream I've been so soft-hearted
He drew a miniature album from his pocket and fumbled it aimlessly:
You know Phil was my first-born
His voice broke, and he looked at the doctor helplessly.
The Southerner slipped his arm around the old man's shoulders and
began a tender and reverent prayer.
The sudden thunder of a squad of cavalry with clanking sabres swept
by the hotel toward the jail.
Stoneman scrambled to his feet, staggered, and caught a chair.
It's no use, he groaned, they've come with his bodyI'm
slipping downthe lights are going outI haven't a friend! It's dark
and coldI'm alone, and lostGodhashiddenHisfacefromme!
Voices were heard without, and the tramp of heavy feet on the steps.
Stoneman clutched the doctor's arm in agony:
Stop them!Stop them! Don't let them bring him in here!
He sank limp into the chair and stared at the door as it swung open
and Phil walked in, with Ben and Elsie by his side, in full clansman
The old man leaped to his feet and gasped:
The Klan!The Klan! No? Yes! It's trueglory to God, they've
saved my boyPhilPhil!
How did you rescue him? Doctor Cameron asked Ben.
Had a squadron lying in wait on every road that led from town. The
Captain thought a thousand men were on him, and surrendered without a
* * * * *
At twelve o'clock Ben stood at the gate with Elsie.
Your fate hangs in the balance of this election to-night, she
said. I'll share it with you, success or failure, life or death.
Success, not failure, he answered firmly. The Grand Dragons of
six States have already wired victory. Look at our lights on the
mountains! They are ablazerange on range our signals gleam until the
Fiery Cross is lost among the stars!
What does it mean? she whispered.
That I am a successful revolutionistthat Civilization has been
saved, and the South redeemed from shame.