Warner, Susan, 1819-1885, Daisy in the field, 1868, Ward Lock edition n.d.
Produced by Daniel FROMONT
DAISY IN THE FIELD
BY ELIZABETH WETHERELL
Author of "The Wide, Wide World," "Queechy," etc., etc.
WARD, LOCK &CO., LIMITED LONDON AND MELBOURNE
Printed in Great Britain by Butler & Tanner Ltd., Frome and London
CHAPTER I. THE FIRST SMOKE OF THE BATTLEFIELD
CHAPTER II. AT THE RENDEZVOUS
CHAPTER III. IN REVIEW
CHAPTER IV. ON FOOT
CHAPTER V. ON HORSEBACK
CHAPTER VI. IN THE FIRE
CHAPTER VII. DETAILED FOR DUTY
CHAPTER VIII. DAISY'S POST
CHAPTER IX. SKIRMISHING
CHAPTER X. WAITING
CHAPTER XI. A VICTORY
CHAPTER XII. AN ENGAGEMENT
CHAPTER XIII. A TRUCE
CHAPTER XIV. FLIGHT
CHAPTER XV. OLD BATTLEFIELDS
CHAPTER XVI. THE FORLORN HOPE
CHAPTER XVII. OUT OF THE SMOKE
CHAPTER XVIII. A MARKED BATTERY
CHAPTER XIX. ONE FALLEN
CHAPTER XX. THE WOUNDED
CHAPTER XXI. THE HOSPITAL
CHAPTER XXII. ORDERS
CHAPTER XXIII. "HERE!"
"My half-day's work is done; And this is all my part - I give a patient God My patient heart.
"And clasp his banner still, Though all the blue be dim. These stripes, no less than stars, Lead after Him."
THE FIRST SMOKE OF THE BATTLEFIELD.
While Miss Cardigan went with her nephew to the door, I remained standing by the fire, which could have witnessed to so much done around it that night. I felt strong, but I remember my cheeks had an odd sensation as if the blood had left them. I did not know Miss Cardigan had come back, till I saw her standing beside me and looking at me anxiously.
"Will you go and lie down now, my lamb?"
"Oh, no!" I said. "Oh, no - I do not want to lie down. I have not done my studying yet, that I came to do."
"Studying!" said Miss Cardigan.
"Yes. I want something out of some of your books. I have not done it. I will sit down and do it now."
"You're much more fit to lie down and go to sleep," said she, sorrowfully. "Let be the study, Daisy; and take some rest, while ye can."
"I shall have plenty of time," I said. "I do not want any rest, more than I shall get so."
Miss Cardigan sighed - I had heard more sighs from her that night than in all my knowledge of her before; and I sat down on the floor again, to pull out again the volumes I had put up, and begin my school work anew. As I touched them, I felt how much had come into my hands, and fallen out of my hands, since I took them up before, just a few hours ago. It would not do to think of that. I resolutely put it back, and set myself about getting out of the books the facts I wanted for my work. Miss Cardigan left the room; and for a time I turned over leaves vigorously. But the images of modern warfare began to mix themselves inconveniently with the struggles of long ago. Visions of a grey uniform came blending in dissolving views with the visions of monarchs in their robes of state and soldiers in heavy armour; it meant much, that grey uniform; and a sense of loss and want and desolation by degrees crept over me, which had nothing to do with the ruin of kingdoms. The books grew heavy; my hands trembled; yet still I tried to make good work, and bade myself deal with the present and let the past and the future alone. The "present" being represented by my school day and my studies. Could I do it? The past and the future rushed in at last, from opposite sides as it were, and my "present" was overthrown. I dropped my books and myself too, as nearly as possible; my heart gave way in a deep passion of tears.
Now I tried to reason myself out of this. What had I lost? I asked myself. What were these tears for? What had I lost, that I had not been without until only twelve hours before? Indeed rather, what had I not gained? But my reasonings were of no use. Against them all, some vision of Thorold's face, some sparkle of his eyes, some touch of his hand, would come back to me, and break down my power and unlock fresh fountains of tears. This passion of self-indulgence was not like me, and surprised myself. I suppose the reason was, I had been so long alone; I had been working my way and waiting, in exile from home as it were, so many days and years; nobody that loved me better than I loved myself had been near me for so very long; that the sweetness so suddenly given and so suddenly taken away left me a little unsteady. Was it wonderful? The joy and the grief were both new; I was not braced for either; the one seemed to add poignancy to the other; and between the two facts, that Thorold loved me, and that he was gone from me into what might be a duty of danger, - that he was gone into danger and that he loved me, - for a little while my soul was tossed back and forth like a ship on a stormy sea, unable to make any headway at all. And so Miss Cardigan found me. She half lifted half drew me up, I remember; made me lie down again on the sofa, gave me some hot tea to drink; and when she had made me drink it, she sat still looking at me, silent, and I thought a good deal disturbed. It would be difficult to tell why I thought so. Perhaps it was because she said nothing. I lay quiet with my face hid in my hands.
"What do you think to do with yourself to-day, now?" - was at last her practical question.
"What o'clock is it?" I whispered.
"It's just on the stroke of six, Daisy."
"I'll get up and go on with my work," I said; and I raised myself to a sitting posture accordingly.
"Work!" echoed Miss Cardigan. "You look like much of that! Your cheeks" (and she touched them) "they are the colour of my magnolia there that has just opened. A night's work Christian has made of it! I suppose he is travelling off as content as if he had something to praise himself for. The pride of these men! -"
I could not help laughing, and laughing made me cry. Miss Cardigan promptly put me back on the cushions and bade me lie still; and she sat in front of me there like a good shaggy human watch dog. I should not say shaggy, for she was entirely neat and trim; but there was something of sturdy and uncompromising about her which suggested the idea. I lay still, and by and by went off into a sleep. That restored me. I woke up a couple of hours later all right and quite myself again. I was able to rush through the bit of study I had wanted; and went over to Mme. Ricard's just a minute before school opened.
I had expected some uncomfortable questioning about my staying out all night; but things do not happen as one expects. I got no questioning, except from one or two of the girls. Mme. Ricard was ill, that was the news in school; the other teachers had their hands full, and did not give themselves any extra trouble about the doings of so regular and trusted an inmate as myself. The business of the day rolled on and rolled off, as if last night had never been; only that I walked in a dream; and when night came I was free to go to bed early and open my budget of thoughts and look at them. From without, all was safe.
All day my thoughts had been rushing off, away from the schoolroom and from studies and masters, to look at a receding railway train, and follow a grey coat in among the crowd of its fellows, where its wearer mingled in all the business and avocations of his interrupted course of life. Interrupted! yes, what a change had come to his and to mine; and yet all was exactly the same outwardly. But the difference was, that I was thinking of Thorold, and Thorold was thinking of me. How strange it was! and what a great treasure of joy it was. I felt rich; with the most abounding, satisfying, inexhaustible treasure of riches. All day I had known I was rich; now I took out my gold and counted it, and could not count it, and gave full-hearted thanks over it.
If the brightness wanted a foil, it was there; the gold glittered upon a cloudy background. My treasure was not exactly in my hand to enjoy. There might be many days before Thorold and I saw each other's faces again. Dangers lay threatening him, that I could not bear to think of; although I knew they were there. And even were this cloud all cleared away, I saw the edges of another rising up along the horizon. My father and my mother. My mother especially; what would she say to Daisy loving an officer in the Northern army? That cloud was as yet afar off; but I knew it was likely to rise thick and black; it might shut out the sun. Even so I my treasure was my treasure still, through all this. Thorold loved me and belonged to me; nothing could change that. Dangers, and even death, would not touch it. My mother's command could not alter it. She might forbid his marrying me; I must obey her; but the fact that we loved each other was a fact beyond her reach and out of her, power, as out of mine. Thorold belonged to me, in this higher and indestructible sense, and also I belonged to him. And in this joy I rejoiced, and counted my treasure with an inexpressible triumph of joy that it was uncountable.
I wondered too, very much. I had had no idea that I loved Thorold; no dream that he liked me had ever entered my head. I thought we were friends, and that was all. Indeed I had not known there was anything in the world more, until one night ago.
But I winced a little, privately, in the very bottom of my heart, that I had let Thorold have so much liberty; that I had let him know so easily what he was to me. I seemed unlike the Daisy Randolph of my former acquaintance. She was never so free. But it was done; and I had been taken unawares and at disadvantage, with the thought of coming danger and separation checking every reserve I would have shown. I had to be content with myself at all events; Thorold knew my weakness and would never forget it another time.
I thought a great many other thoughts that night; some of them were grave enough. My sleep however, when I went to sleep, was as light as the fall of the dew. I could not be careful. Just seventeen, and just come into life's great inheritance, my spirit was strong, as such spirits are, to throw off every burden.
For several days it happened that I was too busy to see Miss Cardigan. I used to look over to her house, those days, as the place where I had begun to live. Meanwhile I was bending my energies to work, with a serious consciousness of woman's life and responsibility before me. In one way I think I felt ten years older, when next I crossed the avenue and went into the familiar marble-paved hall and opened Miss Cardigan's door. That Thorold was not there, was the first thought with me. Certainly the world had made a revolution; but all things else looked as usual; and Miss Cardigan gave me a welcome just as if the world had not turned round. She was busy with the affairs of some poor people, and plunged me into them as her custom was. But I fancied a somewhat more than usual of sober gravity in her manner. I fancied, and then was sure of it; though for a long time nothing was said which touched Thorold or me. I had forgotten that it was to come; and then it came.
"And what have ye been doing, my bonnie lady, since ye went away at eight o'clock o' the morn?"
I started, and found that I had lost myself in a reverie. I said, I had been studying.
"You and me have need to study some new things," Miss Cardigan said, soberly.
"Yes ma'am," I said. But then - "What, Miss Cardigan?"
"There's our duty" - she said, with a pause at that part of her sentence; - "and then, how to do it. Yes, Daisy, you need not look at me, nor call the bloom up into your cheeks, that Christian says are such an odd colour. Don't you think you have duties, lassie? and more to-day than a fortnight syne?"
"But - Miss Cardigan," I answered, - "yes, I have duties; but - I thought I knew them."
"It will do no harm to look at them, Daisy. It is good to see all round our duties, and it's hard too. Are you in a hurry to go back to school?"
"No, ma'am - I can have the evening."
Miss Cardigan pushed her work-baskets and table away, and drew her chair up beside mine, before the fire; and made it blaze, and sat and looked into the blaze, till I wondered what was coming.
"I suppose this is all a fixed thing between Christian and you," she began at last.
I hardly knew what she meant. I said, that I could not unfix it.
"And he will not, no fear! So it is fixed, as we may say; fixed as two hearts can make it. But it's very sudden, Daisy; and you are a young thing, my dear."
"I know it is sudden," I said, meekly. "It is sudden to me. But he will not like me less for my being so young."
Miss Cardigan laughed a short laugh.
"Troth, he's no right, being young himself, we may say. You are safe for his liking, my bonnie Daisy. But - your father and mother, my dear?"
"Yes, Miss Cardigan."
"What will their word be?"
"I do not know, ma'am."
"You will tell them, Daisy?"
This was very disagreeable to me. I had thought over these things, and made up my mind; but to outline on canvass, as it were, and put in full depth of shadow, all the images of opposition real and possible that might rise in my way - which I knew might rise, - I liked not to do it. Still Miss Cardigan had reason; and when she repeated, "You will tell them at once?" I answered,
"No, Miss Cardigan; I think not."
"When, then, will you tell them?" she said shortly.
"I think I will not tell them at all. I will wait, till -"
"Till Christian does it?"
"When will that be?"
"I do not know. It may be - a great while. Why should I tell them before, Miss Cardigan?"
"For many reasons, as they seem to my mind, Daisy; and I thought, as they would seem to yours. 'Honour thy father and thy mother.' Daisy, would it be honouring them, to let them not know?"
There were so many things, of which Miss Cardigan was ignorant! How could I answer her? I sat silent, pondering the difficulty; and she was silent on her side, waiting for me to think over it. It was never her way to be in a hurry; not to leave her work half done neither, as I knew.
"I will honour them the best way I can," I said at length.
"Then you will write them next steamer. Is it not so, Daisy?"
"That would make it very difficult for me to honour them," I said; "to honour them in action, I mean."
"Why so? There is no way so short as a straight way."
"No, ma'am. But -I cannot undo what is done, Miss Cardigan."
"What our cheeks say your heart has done. No, child." And again I heard the unwonted sigh from Miss Cardigan's lips.
"Not my heart only," I went on, plucking up courage. "I have spoken - I have let him speak. I cannot undo it - I cannot undo it."
"Well?" said Miss Cardigan, looking anxious.
"It was done before I thought of mamma and papa. It was all done - it is done; and I cannot undo it now, even for them."
"My dear, you would not marry without your parents' consent?"
"No, Miss Cardigan. They may forbid that."
"What then? What harm would be done by your letting them know at once how the case stands. They would care for your happiness, Daisy."
Not with a Northerner, a farmer's son, and an officer in the Northern army. I knew how it would be; but I could not tell Miss Cardigan.
"What is it you cannot undo, little Daisy?" she said softly, I suppose seeing me look troubled. And she stretched out a kind hand and took hold of mine. It was very hard to bear. All this was a sort of dragging things into light and putting things in black and white; more tangible and more hard to deal with for ever after.
"What is it you cannot undo? Since you confess, that if they desired, you would undo the whole."
"Not my faith, nor my affection," - I said, slowly. "Some things they may forbid, and I obey; but these things are passed beyond their power, and beyond mine. I will be true. I cannot help it now, if I would."
"But, Daisy -" said Miss Cardigan, and she was evidently perplexed now herself. - "Since you are ready to obey them in the utmost and give up Thorold if they say so, what is there, my dear, which your father and mother could command now in which you are not ready to obey them?"
"The time has not come, Miss Cardigan," I said. "It may be - you know it may be - long, before they need know anything about it; before, I mean, anything could be done. I am going abroad - Christian will be busy here - and they might tell me not to think of him and not to write to him; and - I can't live so. It is fair to give him and myself the chance. It is fair that they should know him and see him before they hear what he wants of them; or at least before they answer it."
"Give him and yourself the chance - of what, Daisy?"
"I don't know," I said faint-heartedly. "Of what time may do."
"Then you think -my dear, you augur ill of your father's and mother's opinion of your engagement?"
"I can't help it now, Miss Cardigan," I said; and I know I spoke firmly then. "I did not know what I was doing - I did not know what was coming. If I had known, if I could have helped myself, I think I ought not to have loved anybody or let anybody speak to me without my father and mother choosing it; but it was all done before I could in the least help it; and you know I cannot help it now. I owe something besides to them now. I will not disobey them in anything I can help; - but I will be true, - as long as I live."
Miss Cardigan sat a long while silent, holding my hand all the while; sometimes clasping, and sometimes fondling it. Then she turned and kissed me. It was very hard to bear, all of it.
"I suppose you are a great heiress," she said at last; as if the words escaped her, and with a breath of a sigh.
"It is not that!" I exclaimed. "No, I am not. I am not - I shall not be a great heiress, or an heiress at all, I think. Christian is richer than I."
"My dear!" said Miss Cardigan. "Christian never said a word to me about it, but your friend Mrs. Sandford - she told me; she told me you would be one of the richest women in your State."
"She thought so," - I said.
"My dear, your parents are very wealthy; and they have only one other child, Mrs. Sandford told me. I remember, for it took me with a pity at my heart, little Daisy, for you."
"Yes, they are wealthy," I said; "and Ransom, my brother, is the only other one. He will be rich. But I shall not."
"Do you mean he is the favourite?" said Miss Cardigan.
"Oh, no!" I said. "At least, if he is, so am I. It isn't that. But I shall never be an heiress, Miss Cardigan. I shall be very poor, I rather think."
I smiled at her as I said these words - they were upon the first pleasant subject that had been touched for some time between us; and Miss Cardigan looked quite bewildered. I remembered she had good reason; and I thought it was right, though very much against my will, to explain my words.
"You know what makes my father and mother rich?" I said.
"My dear!" said Miss Cardigan - "They have large Southern properties."
"And you know what makes Southern wealth?" I went on.
"Rice - cotton -"
"No, it isn't that," I said.
"What then, my dear? I do not know what you mean. I thought it was mainly cotton."
"It is unpaid labour," I said. "It is hands that ought to work for themselves; and men and women that ought to belong to themselves."
"Slaves," said Miss Cardigan. "But, Daisy, what do you mean? It's all true; but what can you do?"
"I can have nothing to do with it. And I will have nothing. I would rather be poor, as poor as old Darry and Maria, than take what belongs to them. Miss Cardigan, so would you."
She settled herself back in her chair, like a person who has got a new thought. "My dear child!" she said. And then she said nothing more. I did not wish she should. I wanted no counsel, nor to hear any talk about it. I had only spoken so much, as thinking she had a right to hear it. I went back into my own meditations.
"Daisy, my child," she said suddenly after a while, - "there is only one thing to be said; and the word is not mine. 'If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you."
"Why, Miss Cardigan," said I, smiling, "do you think the, world will hate me for such a thing?"
"It hates all those who pretend to tell it is wrong."
"I do not pretend to tell it anything," I said.
"There is no preaching like that of the life. Daisy, have you well considered this matter?"
"Then I'll know how to pray for you," she said. And there our conversation ended. It had laid on my heart a grave burden of well-defined care, which went with me thenceforth. I could never ignore it nor doubt it was there. Not but I knew well enough each several point in our discussion, before it had come up in words between Miss Cardigan and me; but having so come up, and taken form, each was a tangible thing for ever after. It is odd, how much we can bear unspoken, to which words give an unendurable weight and power. However, these troubles, in their present form, were not unendurable. I only felt them constantly from that time.
My visits to Miss Cardigan now were what they had always been; only perhaps she was a little more tenderly affectionate and careful of me. We did not go back to the discussions of that day, nor to any other regarding my affairs; but she and I scanned the papers well, and talked to each other of the items that seemed now to touch Thorold's and my future as well as the future of the country. We talked, - I could not help it; and yet often I would as lief not; the subjects were not quieting.
The first thing, was the going to Washington of Christian and his class. He wrote to me about it. They went in haste and zeal; waiting for nothing; losing not a train; going by night. Some in civilian's dress; some in cadet clothes, with the black stripe torn off the leg; all eager for their work. What work? It was peaceful enough work just at first. Thorold and others were set to drill the new citizen soldiers who had come in, answering to the President's proclamation, and who knew simply nothing of the business they were to be wanted for, if wanted at all. It was likely they would have something to do! Already a second proclamation from the President had called for a second supply of men, to serve for three years, if the war was not sooner ended. Seamen for the navy also, in like manner.
For three years or the war! It went to my heart, that requisition. It looked so terribly in earnest. And so unhopeful. I wondered, those days, how people could live that did not know how to pray; when every one had, or might have, a treasure at stake in this fierce game that was playing. I have often since felt the same wonder.
I do not know how studies and the usual forms of school recitations went on; but they did go on; smoothly, I suppose. I even recollect that mine went on successfully. With my double or treble motive for desiring success, I had also a reason for prizing and remembering the attainment. But my head was on graver matters, all the time. Would the rebels attack, Washington? it was constantly threatened. Would fighting actually become the common news of the land? The answer to this second query began to be sounded audibly. It was before May was over, that Ellsworth's soldiers took possession of Alexandria, and he was killed. That stirred people at the time; it looks a very little thing now. Alexandria! how I remembered driving through it one grey morning, on one of my Southern journeys; the dull little place, that looked as if it had fallen asleep some hundred or two years ago and never waked up. Now it was waked up with rifle shots; but its slave pen was emptied. I was glad of that. And Thorold was safe in Washington, drilling raw soldiers, in the saddle all day, and very happy, he wrote me. I had begun to be uneasy about his writing to me. It was without leave from my father and mother, and the leave I knew could not be obtained; it would follow that the indulgence must be given up. I knew it must. I looked that necessity in the face. A correspondence, such a correspondence, carried on without their knowing of it, must be an impossibility for me. I intended to tell Christian so, and stop the letters, before I should go abroad. My difficulties were becoming daily more and more clear, and looking more and more unmanageable. I wondered sometimes whither I was drifting; for guide or choose my course I could not. I had got into the current by no agency and with no fault of my own. To get out of the current - perhaps that might not be till life and I should go out together. So I was a somewhat sober and diligent student those closing weeks of the term; and yet, very happy, for Christian loved me. It was a new, sweet, strange, elixir of life.
The term was almost out, when I was called to the parlour one day to see Mrs. Sandford. All winter I had not seen her; she had not been in New York. I think she was unaffectedly glad to see me; somehow my presence was pleasant to her.
"Out of school!" she exclaimed, after a few greetings had passed. "Almost out of school. A woman, Daisy. My dear, I never see you but I am struck with the change in you. Don't change any more! you are just right."
I laughed and asked her, what was the change in me? I had not grown taller.
"No -" said Mrs. Sandford - "I don't know that you have; but your figure is improved, and you have the air of being taller, Daisy. I never saw you looking so well. My dear, what work you are going to do now! now that you are out of the 'elements.' And by the by - what are you going to do, when school closes and you are set free?"
I said I could not tell; I had received no directions. I was waiting for letters from somewhere, to tell me what I must do.
"Suppose you go with me to Washington."
"Washington!" - I ejaculated, and therewith the power of speech left me.
"Yes. You are not afraid, Daisy, that you look at me so? Some people are afraid, I know, and think Washington is going to be stormed by the Southern army; but that is all nonsense, Grant says; and I always trust Grant. He knows. He wants me to come. He says Washington is a novel sight just now, and I may never have such another chance; and I think I shall do as he says and go. Washington is full of soldiers, and no ladies in it. You are not afraid?"
"Oh, no. But - Dr. Sandford has not written to me to come."
"Yes, he has; or something very like it. He asked me to come and see you as I passed through the city - I was not likely to need his admonition, Daisy, my dear, for it always does me good to see you; - and he added that I might suggest to you that I was coming, and ask you if your curiosity inclined you to take the trouble of the journey. He said he thought it worth while, - and that we would both find it so."
I was dumb. Dr. Sandford little knew to what he was inviting me; and I - and Thorold - What a strange chance.
"Well, what are you pondering?" Mrs. Sandford cried gaily. "Dresses? You don't care for dresses; besides, we can have them made in two minutes. Don't you want to go, Daisy? I am sure you do; and I am sure Grant will take famous good care of us, and you specially, and show us the camps and everything. And don't you want to see the President?"
"I have seen him."
"When, and where?"
"In the street - when he went through, on his way to Washington."
"Well, I don't care much for Presidents; but this one they say so many different things about, that it makes me curious. Don't you want to see him again?"
"Yes - I would like it."
"Then you'll come with me - I see it; and I'll have everything in readiness. Thursday, does your school-work end? then we will go Saturday. You will want one day perhaps, besides, they say Friday is unlucky. I never go a journey on Friday."
"I would as lieve go Friday as any day," I said.
"Oh, well - Saturday will be soon enough; and now good-bye, my dear; you to your work and I to mine. You are beautiful, my dear Daisy!" she added, kissing me.
I wondered if it was true. If it was, I was glad, for Thorold's sake. I knew it would be a pleasure to him. And to my father and mother also; but that brought other thoughts, and I went off to my studies.
AT THE RENDEZVOUS.
The examination was over and school ended for me, before I had one half hour to spare to go to see Miss Cardigan. The examination had passed as I could have wished it might; all had gone well; and I could afford to put by that whole train of thought, even as I put up my school-books and stowed them away; being things that I should not immediately want again. Some time would pass, it was likely, before I would need to refresh my memory with mathematics or philosophy. My music was another matter, and I kept that out.
I put my books hastily as well as securely away; and then took my hat and rushed over to Miss Cardigan's. It was a very warm June day. I remember now the cool feeling of her marble hall. Miss Cardigan sat in her matted parlour, busy as always, looking quiet and comfortable in a white muslin wrapper, and neat as a pin; also an invariable thing. Something in the peaceful, settled, calm air of the place impressed me, I suppose, with a feeling of contrast; of an uninvaded, undisturbed domain, which changes were not threatening. I had gone over the street hurriedly; I walked into the room with a slow step.
"Daisy! my dear child!" Miss Cardigan exclaimed, - "is it you? and is all over? I see it is. Just sit down, and you shall have some strawberries; you look tired, my love."
I sat still, and waited, and eat my strawberries.
"Miss Cardigan," I said at length, "what is Christian's address in Washington?"
"In Washington? I don't know. Did he never give it to you?"
"No, ma'am; nothing except 'Washington.' "
"I suppose that is enough. Haven't you written to him?"
"I have written once. - I have been thinking, Miss Cardigan, that I must stop the writing."
"His writing too?"
"Yes. My father and mother do not know - and I cannot ask them, - and -"
"You are right," Miss Cardigan answered sorrowfully. "And yet you will let your engagement stand, Daisy?"
"I cannot break my part of it, ma'am. I - nor they - cannot change what is, and what has been done. The future is in their hands - or in God's hands, rather."
Miss Cardigan sighed.
"And what then, dear, about the address?" she said.
"Because, Miss Cardigan, I am going there. I am going to Washington."
She stopped her work to look at me.
"I am going Saturday. My guardian has sent for me. It is very strange, Miss Cardigan; but I must go; and I thought I would like to know in what part of the city Christian is."
"Will you write to let him know? You will, of course. Write just as usual, child; the letter will reach him."
"Why should I, Miss Cardigan? what use? He cannot come to see me."
"I would not dare. My guardian watches me well; and he would not like my seeing Mr. Thorold of all people."
"Why not? Ah, child! there is a rose leaf in each of your cheeks this minute. That tells the story. Then, Daisy, you had better not go to Washington. Christian will not bear that very well; and it will be hard for you too. My dear, it will be hard."
"Yes, ma'am - and hard not to go. I shall go, Miss Cardigan."
"And mayn't I tell him you are there?"
"No, ma'am. If I can, I will let him know somehow."
But a sense of the difficulties, dangers, doubts and uncertainties, thronging my way, therewith pressed heavily upon me; and I sat in silence and weariness, while Miss Cardigan put up her work and ordered tea, and finally went off to her greenhouse. Presently she came back with a rose in her hand and held it under my face. It was a full dewy sweet damask rose, rich and fragrant and lovely as such a rose can be. I took it and looked at it.
"Do ye mind," my old friend said, "how the flowers spoke to you and brought you messages, when Daisy was a child yet and first came to see me?"
"I know - I remember," I said.
"Does that no tell you something?"
"What does it tell me?" I said, scarce able to command my words, under the power of association, or memory, which was laying its message on my heart, though it was a flower that bore the message. Inanimate things do that sometimes - I think, often, - when the ear of the soul is open to hear them; and flowers in especial are the Lord's messengers and speak what He gives them. I knew this one spoke to me.
"Listen, and see," Miss Cardigan said.
I looked, and as I looked, these words came up in my mind -
"Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?"
"The Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him."
And still as I looked, I remembered, - "In all their afflictions He was afflicted;" - and, "My God shall supply all your need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." The words came into my head; but apart from the words, the rose seemed to say all these things to me. People who never heard flowers talk would think me fanciful, I suppose.
"And you will go to that city of trouble, and you will not let Christian know?" Miss Cardigan said after a while.
"Yes ma'am. - No ma'am," I answered.
"Suppose he should be angry about it?"
"Does he get angry?" I asked; and his aunt laughed.
"Does the child think he is perfect?"
"No, certainly," I said; "of course he has faults; but, Miss Cardigan, I did not think anger was one of them, - or getting angry."
"He will never get angry with you, Daisy, it is my firm belief."
"But does he, easily, with other people?"
"There! I don't know," she said. "He used to be gay quick with his temper, for all so gentle as he is. I wouldn't try him too far, Daisy, with not letting him know."
"I cannot tell him -" I said, sighing.
For I knew, better than she did, what thorough good care would be taken of me, and what small mercy such a visitor as Mr. Thorold would meet at the hands of my guardians. So with a doubtful heart I kissed Miss Cardigan, and went back over the way to prepare for my journey. Which was, however, thrown over by a storm till the next week.
The journey made my heart beat, in spite of all my doubts. It was strange, to see the uniforms and military caps which sprinkled every assemblage of people, in or out of the cars. They would have kept my thoughts to one theme, even if wandering had been possible. The war, - the recruiting for the war, - the coming struggle, - the large and determined preparation making to meet it, - I saw the tokens of these things everywhere, and heard them on every hand. The long day's ride to Washington was a long fever dream, as it seems to me now; it seemed a little so to me then.
It was dark when we reached Washington; but the thought that now became present with me, that anywhere Thorold might be, could scarce be kept in check by the reflection that he certainly would not be at the railway station. He was not there; and Dr. Sandford was; and a carriage presently conveyed us to the house where rooms for us were provided. Not a hotel, I was sorry to find. By no chance could I see Thorold elsewhere than in a hotel.
Supper was very full of talk. Mrs. Sandford wanted to know everything; from the state of the capital and the military situation and prospects for the nation, to the openings for enjoyment or excitement which might await ourselves. The doctor answered her fast enough; but I noticed that he often looked at me.
"Are you tired?" he asked me at length; and there was a tone of gentle deference in his question, such as I often heard from Dr. Sandford. I saw that my silence struck him.
"Nonchalant," said Mrs. Sandford, half laughing. "Daisy does not care about all these things. Why should she? To see and to conquer are the same thing with her, whatever becomes of your Southern and Northern camps and armies."
"Indeed I do care," I said.
"For receptions at the White House? - or military reviews? - or parades, or encampments? Confess, Daisy."
"Yes, I care," I said. "I care about some of these things."
"I am glad to hear it," said Mrs. Sandford. "I really thought, Daisy, you were superior to them all. Why, child, you have done nothing but meditate, in the gravest manner, ever since we took seats in the cars this morning. I was thinking that nothing but cabinet ministers would interest you."
This would not do. I roused myself and smiled.
"What do you think of your ward?" said Mrs. Sandford pointedly.
"I think more of her guardian," said the doctor somewhat dryly.
"How soon are you going to send Daisy to Europe?"
"According to orders, just as soon as I can satisfy myself with a good opportunity. I wish you would go."
"Meanwhile, it is a very good thing that she should come here. It will keep her from ennui at least. Washington is alive, that is one thing; and Daisy, my dear, we may mount muskets yet. Come, let us go and get a good night's sleep while that is possible."
I was glad to be alone. I took off my dusty travelling dress, refreshed myself with a bath, put on a wrapper, and sat down to think.
I found my heart was beating in a way that showed some mental fever. What was I about? what was I going to do? I asked myself.
I sat with my head in my hands. Then I got up and walked the floor. I found that I was determined to see Mr. Thorold, and to see him as soon as possible. Yet I had no certain means of communicating with him. My determination was a vague determination, but it sprung from the necessity of the case. I must see Mr. Thorold. Both of us in Washington for a little while now, no foresight could tell when again we might be near each other. It might well be never. I would see him. Then came the question, - Daisy, what are you going to say to him, when you see him? I walked and thought.
Our correspondence must cease. I must tell him that. - It was dreadfully hard to think it, but I knew it must cease. I could not receive letters from Christian in Switzerland, and certainly I could not write them, without the knowledge of my father and mother; - and if I could, I would not. We must stop writing; we must be hundreds of miles apart, know that dangers clustered round the path of one if not both, know that clouds and uncertainties hung over all our future, and we must not write. And I must tell Mr. Thorold so. It was very hard; for I did not flatter myself with an easy bright clearing away of our difficulties by and by, even if the storm of the war should roll over and leave Christian to encounter them with me. I did not hope that explanations and a little persuasion would induce my mother and my father to look favourably on a Northern suitor for their daughter's hand. My father? - he possibly might give up his pleasure for the sake of my happiness; with my mother I saw no such possibility. It was useless to hope they would let me write to an officer in the Union army. If any chance at all for my happiness were in the future, it must lie in changes not yet accomplished, or in Mr. Thorold's own personal power of recommending himself; rather in both these. For the present - I could not tell how long - now, soon, as soon as I should leave Washington again, we must be separated. I wished I could see Thorold that very evening! In Washington - maybe not far off - and days so few - and I could not see him! I sat down again and put my head in my hand. Had I done wrong, made any unconscious mistake neglected any duty, that this trouble had come upon me? I tried to think. I could not find that I had to blame myself on any such score. It was not wrong to go to West Point last summer. I held none but friendly relations with Mr. Thorold there, so far as I knew. I was utterly taken by surprise, when at Miss Cardigan's that night I found that we were more than friends. Could I hide the fact then? Perhaps it would have been right to do it, if I had known what I was about; but I did not know. Mr. Thorold was going to the war; I had but a surprised minute; it was simply impossible to hide from him all which that minute revealed. Now? Now I was committed; my truth was pledged; my heart was given. My heart might be broken, but could never be taken back. Truth must be truth; and my life was Mr. Thorold's if it belonged to anybody but my father and mother. I settled that point. It was needless ever to look at it again.
I had something else to tell Mr. Thorold; and here I took up my walk through the room, but slowly now. I was not going to be an heiress. I must tell him that. He must know all about me. I would be a poor girl at last; not the rich, very rich, Miss Randolph that people supposed I would be. No yearly revenues; no Southern mansions and demesnes; no power of name and place. Would Mr. Thorold care? I believed not. I had no doubt but that his care was for myself alone, and that he regarded as little as I the adventitious circumstances of wealth and standing which I intended to cast from me. Nevertheless, I cared. Now, when it was not for myself, I did care. For Mr. Thorold, I would have liked to be rich beyond my riches, and powerful above my power. I would have liked to possess very much; that I might make him the owner of it all. And instead, I was going to give him as poor a wife as ever he could have picked up in the farm-houses of the North. Yes, I cared. I found I cared much. And though there was not, of course, any wavering of my judgment as to what was right, I found that to do the right would cost me something; more than I could have thought possible; and to tell Mr. Thorold of it all, was the same as doing it. I walked down a good many bitter regrets, of pride or affection; I think both were at work; before I dismissed the matter from my mind that night.
I think I had walked a good part of the night while I was cogitating these things and trying to bring my thoughts into order respecting them. While I was at last preparing for sleep, I reflected on yet another thing. I always looked back to that evening at Miss Cardigan's with a mixture of feelings. Glad, and sorrowful, and wondering, and grateful, as I was in the remembrance, with all that was mingled a little displeasure and disapproval of myself for that I had allowed Mr. Thorold so much liberty, and had been quite so free in my disclosures to him of my own mind. I did not know how it had happened. It was not like me. I ought to have kept him more at a distance, kindly of course. One, or two, kisses - my cheek burnt at the thought - were the utmost he should have been allowed; and I ought to have been more reserved, and without denying the truth, to have kept myself more in my own power. I resolved I would do it in the future. I would keep my own place. Mr. Thorold might indeed know what he was to me and what I was to him; I did not mean to hide that; but he must be satisfied with knowing it and not take any liberties with the knowledge.
So I went to sleep; but my sleep was heavy and scarcely refreshing. I woke up, startled with the thought that I was in Washington and might see Christian to-day. And I found the desire quite outran the possibility.
I was therefore ready to agree to all the plans of my companions; which included for that day a ride to the camps and the President's reception. Abroad, amidst the stir of men, especially where soldiers were or soldiers' work was done, I might hope to see Christian. What then, if I saw him? I left that point. One thing at a time.
There were a party of us that went that morning to see the sights in the neighbourhood of Washington. On horseback we were; Dr. Sandford and Mrs. Sandford, Colonel Forsyth, whom I had seen at West Point, another gentleman, and myself. I suppose my senses were keened by anxiety; I never shall forget the wonderful beauty of the afternoon and of what we came to see. In some intense moods of mind, it seems as if every sunbeam had daguerreotyping power, and memory the preparedness to receive and retain. And I could tell even now, where there was a sunny bank, and where a group of sun-touched trees; the ring of our horses' hoofs is in my ear with a thought; and I could almost paint from memory the first view of the camp we went to see. We had crossed over into Virginia; and this regiment, - it was Ellsworth's they told me, - was encamped upon a hill, where tents and trees and uniforms made a bright, very picturesque, picture. Ellsworth's corps; and he was gone already. I could not help thinking of that; and while the rest of the party were busy and merry over the camp doings, I sat in my saddle looking over some lower grounds below the hill, where several other regiments were going through certain exercises. It looked like war! it went through my heart. And Ellsworth's soldiers had lost their commander already. Very likely there was somebody to miss and mourn him; somebody at home; his mother - a young wife, perhaps -
"Is Daisy tired already?" Dr. Sandford's voice was at my side.
I roused myself and said we had had a pretty brisk ride, and I had not been on horseback in a long time; which was true and I felt it.
"Has it been too much for you?" he said, with a change of tone.
I disclaimed that.
"These war-shows make you thoughtful?"
"They give me something to think about."
"They need not."
"How can they help it?"
"Daisy, I am confident there is not the slightest danger to Washington. Do you think I would have brought you into danger?"
"Oh, I am not thinking of danger to myself!" I exclaimed. "I am not afraid in that way."
"For the country, are you afraid?"
"Dr. Sandford, do you think there is real danger to the country?" I asked.
"The South will do what they can."
"Do you expect the North will be able to stand against them?"
"You do not," - he said smiling.
"I know nothing about it," I said; "or at least, I know very little of what the North can do. Of course, I know some Northern soldiers will fight as well as any; but, do you think, Dr. Sandford, they can stand - the greater part of them - do you think they can meet the bravery and skill of the South and get the better?"
I asked anxiously. Dr. Sandford's brow grew grave.
"Daisy, I don't know, as you say; but I have lived among the Northern people in my life; and when a Yankee 'takes a notion,' he is as tough a customer as ever I wish to have to deal with."
"But they are not accustomed to fighting," I said.
"I am afraid they will be, before it is through."
"Then you think they are as brave as the South? Can they be?"
Dr. Sandford laughed at me a good deal. Nevertheless, I could not find out what he thought; and I knew, I thought, what he did not know so well. I knew the fiery proud spirit of my native portion of the people. While his banter fell on my ears, my eyes went off to the sunlit green fields where the troops were parading; on Southern soil; and I saw in imagination the rush and fury of vengeful onset, which might come over those very fields; I saw the unequal contest; I saw - what happened soon after. I sighed as I turned my eyes to the doctor again.
"You are more of a Southerner than I thought you," he said. And I fancied some gratification lurked behind the words.
"But you are true?" I exclaimed.
"True!" said the doctor, smiling. "True to what? I hope I am true."
"I mean, you are a true Northerner? you do not sympathise with the South?"
"I do not think they are in the right, Daisy; and I cannot say I wish they should succeed. It is very natural that you should wish it."
"I do not," I said. "I wish the right to succeed."
"I believe you do, or you would not be Daisy. But, with a woman, - excuse me, - the right is where her heart is."
Dr. Sandford touched so much more than he knew in this speech, I felt my cheek grow hot. I thought at the same time that he was speaking with the intent to find out more than he knew. I was silent and kept my face turned from him.
"You do not plead guilty," he went on.
"The charge is not guilt, but weakness," I said coolly.
"Weakness!" said the doctor. "Not at all. It is a woman's strength."
"To be misled by her feelings?"
"No; to be led by them. Her feelings tell her where the right is - generally. You are Daisy; but a woman, and therefore perhaps no exception. Or are you an exception? How is it, Daisy?"
"I do not wish the South to succeed, Dr. Sandford - if that is what you mean."
"It is quite enough," he said, "to constitute you a remarkable exception. I do not know three more at this minute, in this cause. You will not have the sympathies of your father and mother, Daisy?"
"No, Dr. Sandford."
"Your cousin, Mr. Gary, whom we saw last summer; - on which side is he?"
"I have not heard from him since he came to Washington. I do not know where he is. I want to find out."
"We can easily find out," said the doctor. "If Colonel Forsyth does not know, we shall see somebody this evening probably who can tell us about him."
We rode home through the lingering sunlight of that long day; uniforms, camps, fortifications, cannon, on all sides proclaiming the new and strange state of things upon which the country had fallen; busy people passing and repassing in all directions; an air of life and stir everywhere that would have been delightful, if the reason had been only different. It saddened me. I had to make a constant effort to hide the fact from my companions. One of them watched me, I knew. Dr. Sandford thought I was tired; and proposed that we should defer going to the White House until the next occasion; but I could not rest at home and insisted on carrying out the original scheme for the day. I was in a fever now to see Mr. Thorold; keeping up a constant watch for him, which wearied me. To watch with more hope of success, I would go to the President's reception. Mr. Thorold might be there.
Mrs. Sandford, I remember, was very earnest about my dress. I was in no danger from gratified or ungratified vanity now; it was something else that moved me as I robed myself for that reception. And I met my escort in the drawing-room, forgetting that my dress could be a subject of interest to anybody but one, - who might not see it.
"Why, that is - yes! that is the very same thing you wore to the cadets' hop; the last hop you went to, Daisy?" Mrs. Sandford exclaimed, as she surveyed me.
"It will do, won't it?" I said. "I have had nothing new made this spring."
"Do!" said the lady. "What do you think, Grant?"
Dr. Sandford's face was a little flushed.
"Anything will do," he said. "It makes less difference than ladies suppose."
"It has more to do than gentlemen ever imagine!" Mrs. Sandford returned indignantly. "It is very good, Daisy. That pure white somehow suits you; but I believe everything suits you, my dear. Your mother will be a proud woman."
That sentence laid a little weight on my heart, which had just been springing with undefined hope. I had been thinking of somebody else who might perhaps be not displeased with me.
I sought for his figure that night, among the crowds at the President's reception; amidst all the other interests of the hour, that one was never forgotten. And there were many interests certainly clustering about Washington and Washington society then. The assembly was very peculiar, very marked, very striking in many of its characteristics. The women were few, much fewer than make part of ordinary assemblies; the men were unusually well-looking, it seemed to me; and had an air of life and purpose and energy in definite exercise, which was very refreshing to meet. Besides that, which was generally true, there were in Washington at this time many marked men, and men of whom much was expected. The last have been first, it is true, in many an instance; here as elsewhere; nevertheless, the aspect of things and people at the time was novel and interesting in the highest degree. So, was the talk. Insipidities were no longer tolerated; everybody was living, in some real sense, now.
I had my second view of the President, and nearer by. It did not disappoint me, nor change the impression produced by the first view. What a homely face! but I thought withal, what a fine face! Rugged, and soft; gentle, and shrewd; Miss Cardigan's "Yon's a mon!" recurred to me often. A man, every inch of him; self- respecting, self-dependent, having a sturdy mind of his own; but wise also to bide his time; strong to wait and endure; modest, to receive from others all they could give him of aid and counsel. But the honest, keen, kindly eyes won my heart.
The evening was very lively. There were a great many people to see and talk to, whom it was pleasant to hear. Dr. Sandford, I always knew was a favourite; but it seemed to me this evening that our party was thronged. Indeed I had little chance and less time to look for Mr. Thorold; and the little I could use availed me nothing. I was sure he was not there; for he certainly would have seen me. And what then? It would not have been agreeable. I began to think with myself that I was somewhat inconsistent.
It was not till I got home that I thought this, however. I had no time for private reflections till then. When we reached home, Mrs. Sandford was in a talkative mood; the doctor very silent.
"And what do you think of General Scott, Daisy? you have not seen him before."
"I do not know," I said. "I did not hear him, talk."
"You have not heard Mr. Lincoln talk, have you?"
"No, certainly not; not before to night."
"You know how you like him," Dr. Sandford said pointedly.
"My dear, you made him the most beautiful reverence that I ever knew a woman could make; grace and homage in perfection; but there was something else in it, Daisy, something more; something most exquisitely expressed. What was it, Grant?"
"You ought to know," said the doctor, with a grim smile.
"I do, I suppose, only I cannot tell the word for it. Daisy, have you ever seen the President before?"
"When he passed through New York," I said. "I stood in the street to see him."
Dr. Sandford's eyes opened upon me. His sister-in-law exclaimed,
"You could not see him then, child. But you like him, don't you? Well, they tell all sorts of stories about him; but I do not believe half of them."
I thought, I could believe all the good ones.
"But Grant, you never can keep Daisy here," Mrs. Sandford went on. "It would be hazardous in the extreme."
"Not very," said the doctor. "Nobody else is going to stay; it is a floating community."
So we parted for the night. And I slept, the dark hours; but restlessness took possession of me the moment I awoke. Dr. Sandford's last words rung in my heart. "It is a floating community." "Nobody else is going to stay." I must see Mr. Thorold. What if he should be ordered on, away from Washington somewhere, and my opportunity be lost? I knew to be sure that he had been very busy training and drilling some of the new troops; and I hoped there was enough of the same work on hand to keep him busy; but I could not know. With the desire to find him, began to mingle now some foretaste of the pain of parting from him again when I - or he - should leave the city. A drop of bitter which I began to taste distinctly in my cup.
I was to learn now, how difficult it sometimes is in new forms of trial, to be quiet and submissive and trust. I used to be able to trust myself and my wants with God; I found at this time that the human cry of longing, and of fear, was very hard to still. I was ready to trust, if I might only see Mr. Thorold. I was willing to wait, if only we might not be separated at last. But now to trust and to wait, when all was in doubt for me; when, if I missed this sight of my friend, I might never have another; when all the future was a cloudy sea and a rocky shore; I felt that I must have this one moment of peace. Yet I prayed for it submissively; but I am afraid my heart made its own cry unsubmissively.
I was restless. The days that followed the President's levee were one after the other filled up with engagements and amusements, - if I can give that term to what had such deep and thrilling interest for me; but I grew only more secretly restless with every one. My companions seemed to find it all amusement, the rides and parades and receptions that were constantly going on; I only saw everywhere the preparation for a desperate game soon to be played. The Secessionists threatened Washington; and said "only wait till the Fourth." The people in Washington laughed at this; yet now and then I saw one who did not laugh; and such were often some of those who should know best and judge most wisely. Troops were gathered under Beauregard's command not very far from the capital. I knew the dash and fire and uncompromising temper of the people I was born among; I could not despise their threats nor hold light their power. My anxiety grew to see Mr. Thorold; but I could not. I watched and watched; nothing like him crossed my vision. Once, riding home late at night from a gay visit to one of the neighbouring camps, we had drawn bridle in passing the grounds of the Treasury Building, where the Eleventh Massachusetts regiment was encamped; and slowly walking by, were endeavouring to distinguish forms and sounds through the dim night air - forms and sounds so novel in Washington and so suggestive of interests at stake and dangers at hand; when the distinct clatter of a horse's hoofs in full gallop came down the street and passed closed by me. The light of a passing lamp just brushed the flying horseman; not enough to discover him, but enough to lift my heart into my mouth. I could not tell whether it were Mr. Thorold; I cannot tell what I saw; only my nerves were unstrung in a moment, and for the rest of that night I tossed with impatient pain. The idea of being so near Mr. Thorold, was more than I could bear. One other time, in a crowd, I heard a bit of a laugh which thrilled me. My efforts to see the person from whom it came were good for nothing; nobody like my friend was in sight, or near me; yet that laugh haunted me for two days.
"I do not think Washington agrees with Daisy," Mrs. Sandford said one morning at breakfast.
"She never looked better," said the doctor.
"No. Oh, I don't mean that; she looks all herself; yes, she is in great beauty; but she is uncommonly abstracted and uninterested."
"Not being in general a sensitive person," observed Dr. Sandford.
I explained that I had never been more interested in my life; but that these things made me sober.
"My dear Daisy!" Mrs. Sandford laughed. "You were never anything but sober yet, in all your little life. I should like to see you intoxicated."
I felt on dangerous ground and was silent. The doctor asked why? - to Mrs. Sandford's last speech.
"No matter!" said the lady. "The first man she loves will know why."
"The first," said Dr. Sandford dryly. "I hope she will not love more than one."
"She will be an uncommonly happy woman then," said Mrs. Sandford. "Nonsense, Grant! every woman loves two or three before she has done. Your first liking will come to nothing, - Daisy, my dear, I forewarn you; - and most probably the second too; but no one will be the wiser but yourself. Why don't you blush, child? On my word, I believe you are growing pale! Never mind, child; I am not a prophet."
I believe the blushes came then, and they all laughed at me; but Dr. Sandford asked me very kindly if I was too tired to see the review that day? I was not tired; and if I had been, nothing would have tempted me to be absent from the review. I went everywhere, as far as I could; and Dr. Sandford was always with us, indulging every fancy I expressed or did not express, it seemed to me. He had to work very hard at other times to make up for it; and I thought Washington did not agree with him. He looked pale and jaded this day.
I thought so after the morning's work was done; at the time I had no leisure for such thoughts. The morning's work was a review of many thousand troops, by the President. Dr. Sandford and our friends had secured an excellent place for us, from which we could well see all we wished to see; and I wished to see everything. For various reasons. The platform where Mr. Lincoln stood had its own peculiar attractions and interests. It held himself, first of all, standing in front, in plain view much of the time. It held besides a group of men that one liked to look at just then. General Scott was there, and I know not how many other generals; the members of the Cabinet, and inferior military officers; and each colonel of the regiments that passed in review, after passing, dismounted and joined the group on the platform. I looked at these officers with particular interest, for they and their command were going straight across into Virginia expecting active service soon. So I looked at their men. While each regiment marched by, the band belonging to it halted and played. They were going to the war. In good earnest they were going now. This was no show of pleasure; it was work; and my heart, it seemed to me, alternately beat and stood still. Sometimes the oppression of feeling grew very painful, obliged as I was to hide carefully the greater part of what I felt. A little additional stir was almost more than I could bear. One regiment - the Garibaldis, I think, had bouquets of flowers and greens in their hats. I did not indeed notice this, until the foremost came just in front of the platform and the President. Then the bouquets were taken out from the hats, and were tossed, in military order, rank by rank, as the files passed by, to Mr. Lincoln's feet. It was a little thing; but how it shook me! I was glad of the rush which followed the passing of the regiment; the rush of people eager to secure these bunches of flowers and evergreens for memorials; the diversion of interest for a moment gave me chance to fight down my heart-swelling.
"Daisy! you are - what is the matter? You are not well - you are tired," - my guardian exclaimed anxiously, as he came back to my side with one of the Garibaldi flower bunches.
"I am well - you are mistaken, Dr. Sandford," I made myself say quietly.
"For which side are you so anxious?" he inquired. "You are paler than you ought to be, at this moment, with a smile on your lips. I got this for you - will you scorn it, or value it?"
"You would not waste it upon me, if you thought I would scorn it?" I said.
"I don't know. I am not infatuated about anybody. You may have the bouquet, Daisy. Will you have it?"
I did not want to have it! I was not amusing myself, as many and as Mrs. Sandford were doing; this was not an interesting little bit of greens to me, but a handful of pain. I held it, as one holds such handfuls; till the regiment, which had halted a little while at Willard's, was ordered forward and took the turning from Pennsylvania Avenue into the road leading to Virginia. With that, the whole regiment burst into song; I do not know what; a deep-voiced grave melody from a thousand throats, cheering their advance into the quarter of the enemy and of actual warfare. I forgot Dr. Sandford then, whose watchful eyes I generally remembered; I ceased to see the houses or the people before me; for my eyes grew dim with tears it was impossible to keep back; and I listened to nothing but that mellow, ominous, sweet, bitter, strain, till the sound faded away in the distance. Then I found that my cheeks were wet, and that Mrs. Sandford was wondering.
"This is what it is to have an ear for music!" she said. "There is positively no possession which does not bring some inconvenience on the possessor. My dear Daisy, you are in pain; those were not tears of joy; what did that chant say to your sensibilities? To mine it only sounded strength, and victory. If the arms of those - what are they? - that regiment, - if their arms are only constituted proportionately to their throats, they must do good fighting. I should think nothing would stand before them. Daisy, they will certainly bear down all opposition. Are you afraid? Here is the Fourth, and Washington safe yet, for all the Southern bluster."
"I do not think you had better try to go to the Capitol," the doctor put in.
"What, to see the meeting of Congress? Oh, yes, we will. I am not going to miss it."
"Daisy will not?" he asked.
But Daisy would. I would try every chance. I did not at the moment care for Congress; my wish was to find Mr. Thorold. At the review I knew I had little reason to hope for what I wanted; at the Capitol - after all, what chance there? when Mr. Thorold was drilling troops from morning till night; unless he had been already sent out of Washington. But I would go. If I had dared, I would have expressed a desire to see some troops drilled. I did not dare.
I remember nothing of the scene at the Capitol, except the sea of heads, the crowd, and the heat; my intense scrutiny of the crowd, and the weariness that grew on me. Mrs. Sandford had friends to talk to; I only wished I need not speak to anybody. It was a weary day; for I could not see Mr. Thorold, and I could not hear the President's Message. I was so placed or so surrounded that it came to me only in bits. Wearily we went home.
At least, Dr. Sandford and I. Mrs. Sandford tried in vain to rally us.
"There is to be a marriage in camp," she said. "What do you think of that, Daisy? We can have invitations, we like. Shall we like? Wouldn't it be a curious scene? Daisy is interested, I see. Grant, no. What is the matter, Grant?"
"I hope, nothing," said the doctor.
"Will you go, if I get you an invitation?"
"Who is to be married?"
"La fille du rgiment."
"It takes two," said the doctor.
"Oh! The other is a sergeant, I believe; some sergeant of the same regiment. They are to be married to-morrow evening; and it is to be by moonlight and torchlight, and everything odd; up on that beautiful hill where we were the other day, where the trees and the tents make such a pretty mingling with red caps and everything else."
"I hope the ceremony will be performed by comet light, too," said Dr. Sandford. "It ought, to be in character."
"You do not feel well to-night, Grant?"
"Tired. So is Daisy. Are you tired of Washington, Daisy?"
"Oh - no!" I said eagerly. "Not at all. I like very much to be here."
"Then we will go and see the sergeant's wedding," said he.
But we did not; for the next day it was found to be only too true that Dr. Sandford was unwell. Perhaps he had been working too hard; at any rate, he was obliged to confess to being ill; and a day or two more settled the question of the amount of his indisposition. He had a low fever, and was obliged to give up to it.
Mrs Sandford devoted herself to the doctor. Of course, a sudden stop was put to our gay amusements. I could not ride or drive out any more; nor would I go to entertainments anywhere. The stir and the rush of the world had quietly dropped me out of it.
Yet I was more than ever eager to be in it and know what was doing; and above all, what one was doing. I studied the newspapers, more assiduously than I had hitherto had time for. They excited me almost unbearably with the desire to know more than they told, and with unnumbered fears and anxieties. I took to walking, to wear away part of the restless uneasiness which had settled upon me. I walked in the morning; I walked at evening, when the sun's light was off the avenue and the air a little cooler; and kept myself out of the house as much as I could.
It was so that I came upon my object, when I was not seeking it. One evening I was walking up Pennsylvania avenue; slowly, for the evening was warm, although the sun had gone down. Slowly and disconsolately. My heart began to fail me. I pondered writing a word to Mr. Thorold, now that I was completely at liberty; and I wished I had done it at once upon Dr. Sandford's becoming ill. Two or three days' time had been lost. I should have to take the note to the post-office myself; but that would not be impossible now, as it had been until now. While I was thinking these things, I saw a horseman riding down the avenue; a single horseman, coming at a fast gallop. I had never seen Mr. Thorold on horseback; yet from almost the first sight of this mounted figure my heart said with a bound who it was. I stood still by the curbstone, looking breathlessly. I felt more and more sure as he drew nearer, if that can be when I had been sure all along; but, would he know me? Would he even see me, in the first place? So many ladies walk on Pennsylvania avenue; why should his eye pick me out? and he was riding so fast too, there would be but one instant to see or miss me. I would not like to go again through the suspense of that minute, though it was almost too intense to be conscious pain. I stood, all eyes, while that figure came on, steady, swift, and moveless, but for the quick action of the horse's muscles. I dared not make a sign, although I felt morally sure who it was, until he was quite close to me; then, I do not know whether I made it or not. I think not; but the horse wheeled, just as he was past me; I did not know a horse could wheel so short; and the rider had dismounted at the same instant it seemed, for he was there, at my side, and my hand in his. I certainly forgot at that minute all I had stored up to say to Mr. Thorold, in the one great throb of joy. He did not promise to be easily managed, either.
"Daisy!" was his first question - "Daisy, where have you been?"
"I have been here - a while."
"I heard it from Aunt Catherine yesterday - I should have found you before another day went over - Daisy, how long?"
I hardly liked to tell him, he looked so eager and so imperative, and so much as if he had a right to know, and to have known. But he did not wait for the answer; and instead, drawing my arm within his own, bent down to me with looks and words so glad, so tender, so bright, that I trembled with a new feeling, and all the blood in my heart came surging up to my face and away again. The bridle was over his other arm, and the horse with drooped head walked on the other side of him, while Mr. Thorold led me on in this fashion. I do not know how far. I do not know what he said or what I answered, except in bits. I know that he made me answer him. I was not capable of the least self-assertion. What startled me at last out of this abstraction, was the sudden fear that we might be observed. I looked up and said something about it. Only to my confusion; for Thorold laughed at me, softly, but how he laughed - at me. I tried a diversion.
"Have you been drilling troops to-day?"
"All day; or I should have come to find and scold you. By the way, how long have you been in Washington, Daisy?"
"I should not have thought you would ride such a pace at the end of a day's work - you did not ride like a tired man."
"I am not a tired man. Didn't I tell you, I had a letter from Aunt Catherine yesterday. I have felt no fatigue since. When did you come here, Daisy?"
"Christian, I could not let you know, for I was with my guardian - he is a sort of guardian for the time - and -"
"Well? I know your guardian. Dr. Sandford, isn't he"
"Yes, but he would not like to see you."
"I don't care whether he likes it or not, Daisy."
"Yes, but, you see, Christian, it would be not pleasant if he were to carry me off away from Washington; as he took me from West Point last year."
"To get you away from me?"
"He would, if he suspected anything."
"Daisy, I do not like suspicions. The best way is to let him know the truth."
"Oh, no, Christian!"
"Why not, little one?"
"I would rather my father and mother heard it first from you in person," I answered, stumbling in my speech.
"So would I, Daisy; but the times are against us. A letter must be my messenger; and Dr. Sandford has nothing to do with the matter."
"He would think he had," I answered, feeling the difficulties in my way.
"Aren't you my Daisy?" he said, looking down into my face with his flashing eyes, all alight with fire and pleasure.
"But that -" I began.
"No evasions, Daisy. Answer. Aren't you mine?"
I said "yes" meekly. But what other words I had purposed to add were simply taken off my lips. I looked round, in scared fashion, to see who was near; but Thorold laughed softly again.
"It is too dark for people to make minute investigations, Daisy."
"Dark!" said I. "Oh, Christian, I must go home. I shall be missed, and Mrs. Sandford will be frightened."
"Will the doctor come after you?"
"Oh, no, he is sick; but Christian, I must go home."
He turned and went with me, changing his tone, and making a variety of tender inquiries about my situation and my doings. They were something new; they were so tender of me, so thoughtful of my welfare, so protecting in their inquisitive care; and moreover they were the inquiries of one who had a right to know all about me. Something entirely new to my experience; my mother's care was never so sympathetic; my father's never so fond; even my guardian's was never so strict. Dr. Sandford to be sure had no right to make his care like this. I did not know that Mr. Thorold had; but I found it was indisputable. And in proportion it was delightful. We had a slow, very busy walk and talk until within a few doors of my Washington home; there we parted, with a long hand clasp, and the promise on my part that Mr. Thorold should find me at the same hour and place as to-day on the next evening.
Nobody was looking for me, and I gained my room in safety. I was very happy, yet not all happy; for the first use I made of my solitude, after getting rid of my bonnet and mantilla, was to sit down and cry. I asked myself the reason, for I did not like to be in the dark about my own feelings; this time they were in a good deal of confusion.
As I look back, I think the uppermost thing was my happiness; this new, delicate, strange joy which had come into my life and which I had never tasted so fully or known the flavour of it so intimately as this evening. Looks and tones, and little nameless things of manner telling almost more yet, came back to me in a small crowd and overwhelmed me with their testimony. Affection, and tenderness, and pleasure; and something apart from these, an inexplicable assuming of me and delight in me as so assumed; they found me or made me very weak to-night. What was the matter? I believe it was, first, this happiness; and next, the doubt that rested over it and the certainty that I must leave it. Certainly my weeping was hearty enough to answer to all three causes. It was a very unaccustomed indulgence to me; or not an indulgence at all, for I was not fond of tears; but it did act as a relief. I washed away some of my trouble in my tears; the happiness sprung to the surface; and then I could almost weep for joy and thankfulness that I was so happy. Even if the grounds of my happiness were precarious, I had trusted God all my life with all I cared for; could I not trust Him still? My tears stopped; and I believe one or two smiles could not be checked as I remembered some look or word of Mr. Thorold's.
I was to see him the next evening; and it would behove me to lose no time in telling him all the various matters I had wished him to understand. It seemed to me there was something to reconsider in my proposed communications. I had to tell him that our correspondence must be stopped. Would he agree to that? I had thought he would agree, and must, to anything I desired. To-night assured me that he had a will in the matter too, and that his will was strong. Further, it assured me that he had a right; and knew it. Yet it was impossible that we should write to each other without my parents' leave; and impossible that we should gain the leave. Mr. Thorold would have to see the matter as I looked at it; but a doubt came over me that to make him do so might prove difficult. That was one thing. Then about my not being an heiress. I suddenly found a great dislike in myself to speak to him on the subject. There was no doubt that it would be right to tell him what I had thought to tell him; wrong not to do it; the right and the wrong were settled; my willingness was not. A little inner consciousness that Mr. Thorold would relish any handling of the matter that savoured of the practical, and would improve it for his own ends, made my cheek hot. Yet I must tell him. The thing stood, with only an addition of disagreeableness. And what chance should I have, in the street?
I meditated a good while, before there suddenly started into my mind a third subject upon which I had meant to take action with Mr. Thorold. I had thought to qualify a little the liberty he had assumed upon our first betrothal; to keep at a somewhat more reserved distance, and make him. Could I? Was Mr. Thorold under my management? He seemed to take me under his. I pondered, but between laughing and rebellion I could make nothing of the subject. Only, I resolved, if circumstances gave me any chance, to act on my proposed system.
The next day was swallowed up in like thoughts. I tried to arrange my subjects and fix upon one to begin with; but it was a vain effort. I knew that as soon as I began to get ready for my walk. Things must come as they would. And my cross tides of purpose resolved themselves into one long swell of joy, when I discerned the figure I was looking for, waiting for me on Pennsylvania avenue; too soon, for it was near the place where we parted the night before.
"This is very dangerous -" I said, as we began to stroll up the avenue.
"What?" said Mr. Thorold, looking down at me with his eyes as full of mischief as ever.
"It is so light yet, and you come so near the house."
"You walk with other people, don't you?"
"I am not afraid of the other people."
"Are you afraid of me?" said he smiling; and then growing grave, "We may have only a few times, Daisy; let us make the most of them."
How could I start anything after that. I was mute; and Mr. Thorold began upon a new theme.
"Daisy, how long have you been in Washington?"
"Christian, I could not let you know. I was always hoping to see you somewhere."
"Sounds as if you felt guilty," he said. "Confess, Daisy; you look as if you were afraid I would be angry. I will not be very hard with you."
I was afraid; and he was angry, when I told him. His face flushed and his eye changed, and turned away from me.
"Christian," I said, "I was very unwilling that Dr. Sandford should know anything about it; that was my reason. If I had written to you, you know you would have come straight to where I was; and the risk was too great."
"What risk?" he said. "I might have been ordered away from Washington; and then we might never have met."
"Are you vexed?" I said gently.
"You have wronged me, Daisy."
It gave me, I do not know whether more pain or pleasure, the serious grave displeasure his manner testified. Neither pain nor pleasure was very easy to express; but pain pressed the hardest.
"I have been looking for the chance of seeing you; looking the whole time," I said. "Everywhere, it was the one thing I was intent upon."
"Daisy, it might have been lost altogether. And how many days have been lost!"
I was silent now; and we walked some steps together without anything more. But the next words were with a return to his usual clear voice.
"Daisy, you must not be afraid of anything."
"How can I help it?" I asked.
"Help it? - but have I brought those tears into your eyes?"
It was almost worth while to have offended him, to hear the tone of those words. I could not speak.
"I see you are not very angry with me," he said; "but I am with myself. Daisy, my Daisy, you must not be so fearful of unknown dangers."
"I think I have been fearful of them all my life," I answered. "Perhaps it is my fault."
And with unspeakable joy I recognised the truth, that at last my life was anchored to one from whom I need neither fear nor disguise anything.
"To fear them is often to bring them." he added.
"I do not think it will, in my case," I said. "But, if Dr. Sandford had known you were coming to see me, he might have carried me off from Washington, just as he did from West Point last year."
"From West Point?" said Mr. Thorold, his eyes making a brilliant commentary on my words; - "Did he carry you away from West Point for any such reason? Is he afraid of me?"
"He would be afraid of anybody," I said in some confusion, for Mr. Thorold's eyes were dancing with mischief and pleasure; - "I do not know - of course I do not know what he was afraid of; but I know how it would be."
Mr. Thorold's answer was to take my hand and softly draw it through his own arm. I did not like it; I was fearful of being seen to walk so; yet the assuming of me was done in a manner that I could not resist nor contravene. I knew how Christian's eyes fell upon me; I dared not meet them.
"Is the doctor jealous of you, Daisy?" he whispered laughing. I did not find an answer immediately.
"Does he dare?" Mr. Thorold said in a different tone.
"No, no. Christian, how imperious you are!"
"Yes," he said; "I will be so where you are concerned. What do you mean, Daisy? or what does he mean?"
"He is my guardian, you know," I said; "and he has sharp eyes; and he is careful of me."
"Very careful?" said Mr. Thorold, laughing and pressing my arm. "Daisy, I am your guardian while you are in Washington. I wish I had a right to say that you shall have nothing more to do with Dr. Sandford. But for the present I must mind my duty."
"And I mine," - I added, with my heart beating. Now it seemed a good opening for some of the things I had to say; yet my heart beat and I was silent.
"Yours, Daisy?" he said very tenderly. "What is yours? What present pressure of conscience is giving you something hard to do? I know it will be done! What work is this little soldier on?"
I could not tell him. I could not. My answer diverged.
"What are you on, Christian?"
"The same thing. Rather preparing for work - preparing others. I am at that all day."
"And do you expect there will be real work, as you call it? Will it come to that?"
"Looks like it. What do you think of Fairfax Court-house? - and Great Bethel? - and Falling Waters, and so on?"
"That was bad, at Great Bethel," I said.
"Mismanagement -" said Mr. Thorold calmly.
"And at Vienna."
"No, the troops behaved well. They behaved well, Daisy. I am content with that."
"Do you think - don't be angry, Christian! - do you think the people of the North generally will make as fiery fighting men as the people of the South, who are used to fighting, and commanding, and the practice of arms?"
"When you get a quiet man angry, Daisy, he is the very worst man to deal with that you ever saw."
"But the people of the North are all accustomed to peaceful employments?"
Mr. Thorold laughed, looking down at me with infinite amusement and tenderness mixed.
"I see what your training has been," he said. "What will you do when you have one of those quiet people for your husband?"
"Quiet!" said I. "When your eyes are showering sparks of fire all over me!"
"Daisy," he said, "those rose leaves in your cheeks are the very prettiest bits of colour I ever saw in my life."
"But we are wandering from the subject," I said.
"No, we are not," he said decidedly. "You are my one subject at all times."
"Not when you are training soldiers?" I said half laughing. But he gave me a look which silenced me. And it nearly took away all the courage I had, for everything I wanted to say to him and had found it so difficult to say.
"Christian," I began again after an interval, "were the troops that were sent over into Virginia just now, sent, do you suppose, to meet Beauregard?"
"I suppose so."
"You are not going?" - I asked, because the question was torturing me.
He looked down at me again, a steady, fixed, inquiring look, that grew very full of affection before he answered,
"I hope so, Daisy."
"You are not ordered!"
"No; not yet."
"But if you were to go, would you not know it by this time?"
"Not certainly. Some troops will be left here of course, to guard Washington."
I walked with my heart in my mouth. I knew, what he did not say, that orders might be issued suddenly and as suddenly obeyed; with no beforehand warning or after delay. How could I speak anything of what had been in my mind to be said? Yet the very circumstances which made it more difficult made it also imperative, to speak them. I fought myself, while Mr. Thorold sometimes watched me and constantly took care of me, with a thoughtful care in little things which was eloquent.
"Christian" - I began, feeling my voice changed.
"That is to tell me we must turn homeward?" he said gayly.
"No; I want to speak to you. But we must turn homeward too."
"To speak to me? In that voice? Look at me, Daisy. - No, I won't hear it now, and not here. We must have something better. Daisy, go and ride with me to- morrow evening!"
"Oh, I cannot."
"Yes, Daisy. I ask it of you. Dr. Sandford is in bed. He cannot go along. Then you can tell me all that is on your mind about Northern soldiers."
"Oh, I only thought Christian - You know, I know the temper of the Southern people."
"You will know the temper of the other section of the country some day," he said, with a smile at me which was half serious and half personal in its bearing. But he made me promise to go and ride with him if I could; and so left me.
I met Mrs. Sandford as I went into the house. She said she was glad I kept up my walks; she was sorry I had such a terribly dull time; it was a pity I came to Washington. Dr. Sandford was no better, and much worried about me, that I should be so cut off from amusement.
"Tell him I am doing very well, and having time to read the papers," I said.
"Those horrid papers!" said Mrs. Sandford. "They make my hair stand on end. I wouldn't read them; Daisy."
"But you do."
"Well, I cannot keep my hands off them when I see them; but I wish I was where I could never see them. Ever since I read General Beauregard's proclamation, I have been in a fury with everything South; and it is uncomfortable to be in a fury. O dear! I wish Grant would get well and take us away. Come in and let us have a cup of tea, dear. Isn't it hot?"
I took the tea and bore the talk, till both were done and I could shut myself into the seclusion of my own room. And tears did not come to-night, but dry heart- aching pain instead; with which I struggled till the night had worn far on. Struggled, trying to reason it away and to calm it down by faith and prayer. Ah me! how little reason could do, or faith either. For reason only affirmed and enlarged my fears; and faith had no power to say; they might not come true. The promise, "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings," belongs to those who have their will so merged in God's will as not to be careful what that will may be. I had not got so far. A new lesson was set me in my experience book; even to lay my will down; and nobody who has not learned or tried to learn that lesson knows how mortal hard it is. It seemed to me my heart was breaking the whole livelong night.
A little sleep and the fresh morning light set me up again. I was to ride with Mr. Thorold in the evening; my mind fixed on that nearest point, and refused for the moment to go further. I heard from Mrs. Sandford at breakfast that Dr. Sandford was no better; his low nervous prostration continued and threatened to continue. Mrs. Sandford was much troubled about me. All this suited my convenience; even her unnecessary concern; for I had made up my mind to tell Mrs. Sandford I was going to ride; but I would not till our late dinner, that there might be no chance of her consulting the doctor. At dinner I mentioned that a friend had asked me to ride and I had half consented. Mrs. Sandford looked somewhat startled and asked who the friend might be?
"Another officer," I said quietly; "his name is Thorold. I saw him last summer, Mrs. Sandford; and I know about him. He is a good one to go with."
"I can't ask Grant anything," she said, looking doubtful. "He knows everybody."
"It is not needful," I answered. "I am going to take the indulgence this once. I think it will do me good."
"Daisy, my dear!" said Mrs. Sandford - "You are as good as possible - but you have a will of your own. All you Southerners have, I think."
I replied that I was a Northerner; and the talk went to other things. Mrs. Sandford left me with a kiss and the injunction to take care of myself. I was very glad to get off so, for she looked a little unsatisfied. My way was clear now. I dressed with a bounding heart, mounted, and was away with Mr. Thorold; feeling beneath all my gladness that now was my time and my only time for doing all the difficult work I had set myself. But gladness was uppermost, as I found myself in the saddle and away, with Mr. Thorold by my side; - for once free and alone together; - gladness that kept us both still I think; for we exchanged few words till we were clear of the city and out upon the open country. There we slackened bridle, and I began to feel that the minutes were exceedingly precious. I dreaded lest some words of Christian's should make it impossible for me to do what I had to do.
"Christian," I began, "I have things to talk to you about."
"Well," said he brightly, "you shall. Will it take a great while, Daisy? Because I have things to talk to you about."
"Not a great while, I hope," I said, almost stammering.
"You shall talk what you will, darling. But wait till we get a better place."
I would have liked the place where we were, and the time. Better where the road was rough than where it was smooth; easier where there was something to make interruption than where Christian could give too exclusive heed to me. But I could not gainsay him; and we rode on, till we came to a piece of pretty broken ground with green turf and trees. Here Mr. Thorold stopped and proposed that we should dismount; he said we should talk more at our ease so. I thought my predetermined measures of dignity could be more easily maintained on horseback; but I could not bear to refuse him, and he did not mean to be refused, I saw. He had dismounted even while he spoke, and throwing his horse's bridle over the branch of a tree, came to lift me down; first throwing his cap on the grass. Then keeping me in his arms and bending a brilliant inquisitive look on my face, he asked me,