[Transcriber's Note: Inconsistencies in spelling and punctuation have been retained as in the original.]
THE WORLD AS I HAVE FOUND IT.
SEQUEL TO Incidents in the Life of a Blind Girl.
BY MARY L. DAY ARMS.
WITH AN INTRODUCTION
By Rev. Charles F. Deems, LL.D.
BALTIMORE: PUBLISHED BY JAMES YOUNG, 112 West Baltimore Street.
ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1878, by MARY L. DAY ARMS, In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
Mrs. Arms has asked me to write an introduction to her book. It hardly seems to need it. The title-page shows that it was written by one who is blind. It is a sequel to another volume. That volume has been widely sold, and all who read it will, I am sure, have some desire to see how the stream of the life of its writer has been flowing since her first book was written. Her patient perseverance under privations has won her a large circle of personal friends, who will take pleasure in procuring and preserving this fresh memento of the Blind Girl.
Such a book as this has a value which, probably, has not occurred to its author. She has put on record the phenomena of her life as she has recollected them, with great simplicity, merely for the entertainment of her readers, without attaching any importance to the value which every such memoir has in the department of science. But it is just from the study of such phenomena as these that the students in mental and moral philosophy learn the laws of mind and the operations of a human soul under a divine, moral government. As a matter of taste we might omit the writer's description of her husband, whom she never yet has seen, p. 45, and her account of her love affairs, p. 49; and if we had discretionary editorship, and the volume had been written by one having always had her sight, we should unhesitatingly exclude such passages. But, as the records of the impressions, consciousnesses and general mental phenomena of a blind girl in love, they stand to be, perhaps, quoted hereafter in some abstruse scientific treatise, or bloom out in some perennial poem.
There is an immediate practical usefulness in such a book as this. It has its wholesome lesson for the young. It shows what strength of character and vigor of purpose will accomplish under even extraordinary embarrassments. The young lady had a hard early life. She had neither friends nor money nor sight, but she unwhiningly took up the task of taking care of herself, and discharged it so nobly as to make for herself a wide circle of friends, and keep for herself that sense of self-reliance as toward man, and of faith as toward God, which are worth more than all the dirty dollars that wickedness can give to weakness.
Let our young women who are in straitened circumstances, in circumstances that seem absolutely exclusive of all hope of retaining virtue and keeping life, read this book and its predecessor, and pluck up faith and hope. Let all our young ladies, daughters of loving parents, daughters who have no care for the morrow, daughters of delicious ease and happy opportunity, read this book, and then let their consciences ask them how they are to carry their idleness to be examined at the judgment sent of Christ, in contrast with this blind girl's industry, fidelity and perseverance.
CHARLES F. DEEMS. CHURCH OF THE STRANGERS, New York, 4th July, 1878.
"Warriors and statesmen have their meed of praise, And what they do, or suffer, men record; While the long sacrifice of woman's days Passes without a thought, without a word: And many a holy struggle for the sake Of duty, sternly, faithfully fulfil'd; For which the anxious soul must watch and wait, Goes by unheeded as the summer wind, And leaves no memory, and no trace behind! Yet, it may be, more lofty courage dwells In one meek heart that braves an adverse fate, Than his whose ardent soul indignant swells, Warmed by the fight, or cheered through high debate. The soldier dies surrounded; could he live Alone to suffer, and alone to strive?"
So was rendered the sad soul-music of one of the legion,
"Who learned in sorrow What they taught in song."
and the weird words have been echoed by the voice of many a woman all along, whose weary wanderings have burned the sacrificial fires; amid the ashes of whose dead hopes the embers have flickered and faded only to rekindle the lurid, lustrous light of added, and still added offerings. There, waiting and watching the deep tracery "upon the sands beside the sounding sea," find wave after wave wash away the mystic hand-writing.
The ebbing tide carries afar the ships freighted with aching, anguished hearts; when borne upon the swell of the flowing sea, come the swift sails of Argosies richly laden with hope, full with fruition.
Within the heart of all there lies deeply imbedded the "Black Drop" of which the Mahometan legend tells, and which the angel revealed to the Prophet of Allah. 'Tis in aching anguish this drop must be probed and purified, to be healed only through the endless eloquence of duty done.
The sightless eyes have vivid visions. Theirs is the light in darkness which stirred the soul of a Milton with a "gift divine;" inspired a Homer with the "fire and frenzy" which crowned an Iliad and an Odyssey, the master pieces of Epic verse; gave to the antique and traditional literature of the Celtic race its meteoric brilliancy, and produced the weird, wondrous sublimity of an Ossian.
All who have read the Invocation to Light by the blind authoress, Mrs. De Kroyft, must have realized the luminous light of a soul sublimated by sorrow and swelling and soaring in eloquent strains.
'Tis but a simple song I must sing, a bird-note amid cathedral tones; but may not its minstrelsy meet the heart and search the soul of many a sorrowing one, or rise like the song of the nightingale to the throne of Him who sees the lives enthralled?
If this little lesson of life can find a single searcher for the truth it tells, or bear on the breath of the breeze "one soft AEolian strain," may I not hope that it may help to swell the harp-notes of the heavenly harmonies?
"I remember, I remember How my childhood fleeted by— The mirth of its December, And the warmth of its July."
In a former volume I have recounted the varied scenes of an eventful childhood, whose auroral dawn was tinted with the rose-hue and perfumed with the breath of light-winged moments; even as the Goddess of the Morning ushers in the new-born day with her flower-laden chariot, and the bright Morning Star lends its light ere it sinks under the horizon.
Having my birth on the rich soil of a Southern land, and cradled under its tropical skies and sunny smiles, I was early transplanted to colder climes and ruder blasts, yet through the nurture of a mother's gentle hand, and the ministrations of a loving band of sisters and brothers, whose talismanic touch toned every note, softened every sorrow and heightened every hope, I could but bloom like an Alpine flower in its bed of snow.
But in the golden chain there came to be, in time, a "missing link;" the mother's life went out, and from the darkened fireside vanished the little flock, scattered through various ways to various destinies.
My own was a slippery path to tread, and ofttimes led my weary feet into the shadow, and gloom, and darkness. Through sickness, neglect and maltreatment came all too soon "sorrow's crown of sorrow;" when over the young life fell a dark pall, and eyes so used to light no longer held the prisoned sunbeams, and passed forever under the relentless bond and cruel curse of blindness. Then indeed my soul grew dark! And could my restless eyes wait in thraldom for the dawn of an eternal day, and must my wandering feet pass through the "valley of the shadow," ere I could see the light "around the Great White Throne?"
Through a singular complication of circumstances I was led to the home of a sister in Chicago, from whom I had long been separated; and by equally singular ways I was also there reunited to three of my brothers (Charles, William and Howard). Then my veiled vision could not shut out the loved lineaments living in the pictured halls of memory—the vision of a love-hallowed home, and a mother's face crowning all. Scenes and faces gone, passed like a panorama before my mind's eye, and
"So the blessed train passed by me, But the vision was sealed upon my soul."
Through the agency of family friends I returned to my birth-place, and with strange and mingled emotions was welcomed back to Baltimore, with kind greetings from relatives and friends. Some had passed beyond the portal of earthly existence, and others unexpectedly reappeared, among whom was my father, whose face I could not see, but whose emotion betokened great anguish at the sight of his blind daughter. Oh how many memories must have passed through his mind, as he clasped to his heart his chastened, motherless child, and, while other loves and other ties were his, "the shades of friends departed" as told by Longfellow must have entered a weird train, and amid other angel footsteps must have come—
"That being beauteous Who unto his youth was given; More than all things else to love him, And is now a saint in Heaven."
Notwithstanding so many former attempts at the restoration of my sight, another effort was made, involving a trip to New York, where a most painful operation was undergone. But, alas! although a brief period was accorded me, in which I saw with rapture objects around me, it was only to be shut out into utter and hopeless sightlessness. As the wounded hare seeks some cover remote from the human ken, so did my sinking soul seek the solace of solitude, where for twenty-four hours I searched my nature to its depths, and made resolves for my future course, known only to God and pitying angels. They alone comforted me then, and they have sustained and soothed through every succeeding trial!
"The saddest day hath gleams of light, The darkest wave hath bright foam near it. And, twinkles o'er the cloudiest night, Some solitary star to cheer it."
In the year 1855, my heart still heavy with its burden of blindness, I entered the Baltimore Institution for the Blind. With kind friends to aid and cheer me, high hopes, rich resolutions and ambitious aims to inspire, I commenced the course of study which was to fit me for my new avocations. Ofttimes was I found in the deep valley of humiliation, where I sat me down and sighed; and in many a "Garden of Gethsemane" were seen the trickling "tears of blood." The cross and the crucifixion came, but afterwards came the resurrection of dead hopes and angels bearing the crown.
I must say with undying gratitude to all connected with the Institution, that it is to them I am indebted for the might and the mastery; for while many a daisy was crushed in my path, many a rose bloomed upon a thorny stem, and these kind ones led me at last to the sun-crowned mountain-tops and clear blue skies.
After being in school for three years, without consulting with any friend, I wrote, with much difficulty, a letter with pin-type, to Governor Hicks, asking a three years extension of time. I preserved secrecy in this matter in the fear of disappointment, and determined if it came to bear it alone. One day a professor called me to him and said: "You have written to the Governor, and his reply has come." With anxious, nervous silence, I "waited for the verdict," and when it came in an affirmative, how happy and joyous I felt! How determined to push on to the bright goal before me!
Meantime I had written a history of my life, and through assistance from ever kind friends had succeeded in securing its publication. A copy of it was sent to the Governor, as a tiny token of my appreciation of his kindness. I afterward accompanied a delegation from our school to Annapolis, where we gave an entertainment. The Governor, coming up to our little group, said, in cheerful tones, "I am going to see if I can recognize the one who wrote the book." And in pursuance of this announcement, easily selected me, and with kindly tones and hearty grasp of the hand, spoke many words of comfort, which are still carefully held in my casket of gems as
"Treasures guarded with jealous care And kept as sacred tokens."
Continuing my course of studies, I graduated in 1860 with, I hope, a fair degree of honor to myself and my instructors. Just previous to this time there came among our many visitors a good friend from Loudon county, Virginia, named Richard Henry Taylor, who promised if I would visit his home he would furnish me every facility for the sale of my book; and of him I shall have more to say hereafter.
Now commenced the real struggle of life. Alone I must brave the world, and with patience bear its frowns or enjoy its smiles, as the case might be. Alone I must earn my bread.
Meagre were many times the means and scanty was the allowance, yet they came in the hour of need as manna in the wilderness, ofttimes wet with the dews of heavenly love; and ever, in my laborious pilgrimage, I have been allowed to stand upon Mount Gerizim, to bless the people and the "rulers of the land."
"Let us then be up and doing With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait."
Deeming it proper to inaugurate my work in our nation's capital, I left my "Alma Mater" with all the trepidation of a child going out from the home-roof, and rushed into the exciting and excited vortex, where centralize our national interests, and where, as it were, throbs the great national heart, the city of Washington. I was kindly received at the house of my cousin, Mrs. Reese, in which sanctum my heart took fresh hope and courage. This was during the administration of Mr. Buchanan, and I first repaired to the bachelor President, who received me in his private audience-room with all of his characteristic and chivalrous courtesy. Taking both my hands in his, he said, with deep emotion—"I am so sorry for your deep affliction, but so glad that you have had the energy to write a book and the courage to make it a resource for support. I pray that God may bless and prosper you, and I know he will."
After this expression of his faith he showed his works by buying a book, for which he paid me two dollars and a half, more than double its price. So spoke, so did, the noble man, in whose heart was enshrined the memory of one cherished love, the idolized object of which precluded the possibility of a second affection, while the grand heart of the statesman went out in kindness and sympathy to all.
My second call was at one of the government offices, where my nervous excitement rendered me so nearly speechless that I could only silently and tremblingly tender a book to a young man who was one of the clerks. Seeing the movement, he asked:
"Do you wish, to sell the book?" to which I nodded an affirmative.
He turned jocularly toward me, and asked: "Were you ever in love?"
Speech suddenly followed in the wake of offended dignity, and I promptly replied: "Sir, I try to love every one."
"But," said he, in soaring strain, "suppose a young man should say to you—'You are the cherished idol of my worship, the one sweet flower blooming in my pathway, etc., etc.' what would you think?"
I quickly responded: "Sir, I should think he had more poetry than good sense in his composition."
Pleased, and apparently thoughtful, he turned from me, and going among the other employees, returned with the money for a dozen copies of my book in his hand, and on his lips a penitent and evidently heartfelt assurance that he meant no harm or insult by his words, humbly craved my pardon for the offense, and closed by wishing me many God speeds.
My next effort was in the Treasury Department, where the first person I approached exclaimed:
"Mary Day! where did you come from?" This exclamation was followed by many other expressions of joy and surprise. Suddenly the loving arm of a young girl encircled me. Kisses fell upon my forehead, cheek and lips, and words of endearment came in copious pearly showers. At the first lull in the sweet confusion I asked: "Who are you all?"
The first proved to be a brother of Mrs. Cook, of Michigan, who had been so kind to me in the past, and the second was her daughter, who rapidly recounted by-gone scenes, and lovingly lingered upon the many cherished memories my presence had evoked. They took me to their home in the city, and lavished upon me all the kindness and attention love could suggest. Among the many reminiscences came the one sad story of the father's death. In one of the darkest, sternest hours of my childhood he had held out to me the kind, paternal hand, and welcomed me to the protection of his own roof, and the story of his death deeply interested me. It was in substance this:
The family had returned from some festive scene on Christmas eve, and the father, leaving them to stable his horses, was so long absent as to arouse anxiety. They sought him everywhere, but found him not. After a night of untold suspense the morning revealed to them the shocking sight of his dead body lying in the corner of an adjoining lot, his face smiling and peaceful in death, his arms folded and limbs outstretched. He had been cruelly gored by a creature he had fed and fostered, cherishing it as a pet among his domestic animals, and it had turned upon him as many so-called human creatures repay those who have protected and loved them!
They knew not whether his wounds or the intense cold had been the final cause of death, but such was the sad dawning of their Christmas day, and so, amid the joy of my reunion with those dear friends, came the sad thought that—
Ever amid life's roses Will the sombre cypress be twined, And wherever a joy reposes, A dream of sorrow we find.
I feel it due to the various government officials at Washington to give them an expression of gratitude for the great facilities afforded me in the way of permits to canvass in the many public departments, knowing their strict rules and rigid restrictions in this regard.
I was volunteered an entree everywhere, from the humblest government office to the Capitol and White House, and in each and all was courteously received. In subsequent years I had also great reason for gratitude to Mr. Colfax, who not only gave his own patronage, but presented me to Congress, the members of which vied with each other in liberality.
"Thus, with delight, we linger to survey The promised joys of life's unmeasured way; Thus, from afar, each dim discovered scene More pleasing seems than all the rest hath been; And every form that fancy can repair From dark oblivion, glows divinely there."
My nature, in its first struggle with the world, shrank, like Mimosa, from every human touch; but the kind words of love and gentle acts of kindness already received transformed and ripened within me a more trusting and hopeful character, and I almost unconsciously accepted as immutable and inevitable the great law of compensation.
It is well that it was in the season of youth that my career began, that season which Jean Paul so poetically designates as "The Festival Day of Life," in which period friendship dwells as yet in a serenely open Grecian Temple, not, as in later years, in a narrow Gothic Chapel.
My heart accepting as genuine these pure expressions of friendship, I turned from Washington toward Virginia, and after a visit at Leesburg, in which I had good success, I wrote to Mr. Taylor, the friend I have before mentioned, asking him to meet me at Hamilton, which point was reached by the old-time stage-route. Some doubt may have entered my mind as to his remembrance of the promise to meet me, all of which must have been dispelled when, upon the arrival of the stage, a cheery, gentle voice, in a tone which would have filled the darkest moment of doubt with the sun-ray of trust, exclaimed: "How does thee do, Mary?" Miss Rachel Weaver, my companion, was a bright-eyed, sunny-hearted, English girl, whose presence irradiated the atmosphere around her. She was presented to him, and received the same quiet yet cordial greeting. His carriage was in waiting for us, and a refreshing drive of three miles brought us to his cozy home. The reception given us by his excellent wife was characterized by all the depth and warmth of her expanded and exalted nature, and we were at once domiciled as truly "at home."
The next day was the beginning of their Quarterly Meeting, and the impressions of a life-time can never efface the varied pictures stamped upon memory by each phase of that religious gathering. Not in a gorgeous chapel of Gothic architecture, frescoed nave and highly wrought transept; no stained glass windows of rainbow hue; no gorgeously draped altar or elaborate organ; but in a simple wooden meeting-house, upon a gently sloping grassy seclusion, came the feet of those "who went up to the worship of God." No robed priest with consecrated head was there, but all were privileged to express with the lips the heart's devotion.
Mr. Taylor carried to this meeting a number of my little books, and I am safe in saying that each member of that community bought one of them.
At noon we partook of a collation upon the lovely green sward, where sweet words solaced and kind hands tendered me hospitality. Prominent among the guests was Mrs. Hoag, a lady of lovely character and cultured mind, who insisted upon having us accompany her to her home, a mansion rich and elegant in its appointments, and, above all, its halls resounding with the music of innocent mirth, and hung with the "golden tapestry" of love.
We remained in this community four weeks, a sweet "season of refreshment," which so gently glided away that we awoke, like those aroused from peaceful sleep and dear dreams of pleasure, renewed and buoyant.
Our farewell was not unmingled with sad regret at parting, but upon my return to Baltimore my friends failed not to note the favorable change in my physical and mental condition. So talismanic is the touch of love, so inspiring and life giving! and 'tis to this dear community of Louden county, Virginia, I shall ever trace the first impetus which has given momentum to all the subsequent movements of my life.
"The muffled drum's sad roll has beat The soldier's last tattoo: No more on life's parade shall meet That brave and fallen few; On fame's eternal camping ground Their silent tents are spread, And glory guards, with solemn round, The bivouac of the dead."
After a short period of reunion with friends in Baltimore, I resolved, notwithstanding the agitated condition of the country, to wend my way southward, for I restlessly yearned for an active continuation of duty.
Miss Weaver having other engagements, it became necessary for me to seek another traveling companion. Trusting to the good fortune which had hitherto favored me in that regard, I engaged the services of Miss Mary Chase, who proved a valuable attendant, combining in her character so many graces and endowments, possessing, among her numerous attractions, a voice of rare, rich and mellow flexibility.
My uncle, Mr. Heald, having an interest in the Bay Line of steamers, his son, my cousin, Howard Heald, attended me to the steamer Belvidere, introduced me to the captain, and took every precautionary measure to enhance the pleasure of my trip. Subsequent events proved how salutary were these efforts. The captain did all that polite attention and study of my comfort could suggest, attended us to the table, pointed out the workings of the engine, the complications of the machinery and propelling power of the steamer, which so airily and so gracefully "walked the waters," directed attention to every object of note on the route and their charm of historic interest, thus making the trip one replete with instruction. Miss Chase, with the melody of a song-bird, drew around us a circle of charmed listeners, and her voice became a source of constant and soothing solace to me.
Arriving at the city of Richmond at the untimely hour of four o'clock in the morning, at the solicitation of the captain we remained on board until a later and more convenient time, when we found the streets of the city alive with soldiers and filled with sad sounds of sword and musketry, the first low reverberation of the din of war, the opening of the battle-song, whose weird refrain has been echoed by so many sorrowing ones, its mad music adapted to the thousands of crushed and broken hearts!
The little war-cloud, at first "no larger than a man's hand," was growing deeper and darker, and the stern rumble of the conflict becoming irrepressible. Every avenue in the way of business was closed, and being told that if I desired remaining north of Mason and Dixon's line I must go at once, I retraced my steps, and returned by the James river, since so memorable in the history of our civil conflict, and sought shelter in Baltimore, where I remained for the winter; and while so many relatives and friends would have welcomed me to their homes, I felt impelled to accept an invitation to the institution in which I had been educated, and could enjoy the association of those who had first directed my tottering steps, and my schoolmates, who were friends and co-workers.
"But if chains are woven shining, Firm as gold and fine as hair, Twisting round the heart, and twining. Binding all that centres there In a knot that, like the olden, May be cut, but ne'er unfolden; Would not something sharp remain In the breaking of the chain?"
Spring came with its "ethereal mildness" and budding beauty, and the ties which bound me to the Monumental City must, although with convulsive effort, be broken.
Miss Chase was but "a treasure lent," her sweet, loving nature having won the heart of one who made her his life companion; hence it became necessary for me to find another to fill her place. She came in the person of Miss Kate Fowler, a lovely young girl of seventeen years, who possessed great charms of person, mind and soul, as the sequel will show.
We traveled together throughout Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, meeting with greater success than we could have hoped for while the din of war was raging, always making sufficient for our support.
At Hollidaysburgh, Penn., I learned of the presence of General Anderson, and resolved that I would offer a tangible evidence of my appreciation of the "Hero of Fort Sumter." Entwining one of my little books with red, white and blue ribbons, I sent it to him with a little note, asking its acceptance from the authoress, a Baltimore lady, in behalf of her native city, then under a cloud, the Massachusetts troops having been stoned by a mob collected from various points, and for which she bore the undeserved odium. These I sent in their tri-colored dress, expecting only a silent reception. But, as I sat at dinner in my hotel, there came a singular and unexpected response in the person of the General himself. He was introduced by the landlord, and was accompanied by his little daughter, holding in her hand my token, as she smilingly approached me in her fairy-like beauty. A delightful chat ensued, and an urgent request upon his part that I should visit Cresson Springs, to which he had resorted with his family in order to recuperate his health, shattered by the protracted and gallant defense of one of our national citadels.
With a kind "good bye" he left, and as I passed out of the dining-room door I received an evidence of his great delicacy in a token he would not publicly tender. The landlord handed me a box from him containing a handsome plain gold ring, ever since cherished as a memento; and, although worn by time, there is still legible the name engraved within this shining circlet, even that of General Anderson.
After canvassing Altoona I went to Cresson Springs and was no sooner registered than I received a card from the General. Meeting me in the parlor, he gave me a cordial welcome, after which he said: "Now I am going to assist you in your sales." He drew together three of the parlor tables, and, taking one hundred of my books, he placed them thereon, together with specimens of my bead work, which he artistically arranged in the national colors. It needed but a wave of the magician's wand, for such he seemed, to evoke the spirits of generosity and love, and through these all of my volumes vanished, as well as much of the bead work. At General Anderson's request I took my work to the parlor, and amid a group of wondering ones, many of whom were members of his own family, I showed them how the blind could deftly weave these little trinkets, the fashioning of the "bijou" baskets needing no sight to arrange the colors, with celerity and skill. I was also, at his request, seated at his family table, and time will never erase the memory of words which fell from the lips of the warrior, as gently, as lovingly, as if a woman's voice were breathing words of comfort and affection. In after time, when tidings of his death were borne from a foreign land, when the perfumed breath of sunny France received the last sigh of our hero, I dropped many a tear, which truly welled up from the depths of a sorrowing heart.
In the winter I made Philadelphia my head-quarters, stopping at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Mack, both of whom were blind when married, and who both possess great musical talent, which they utilized by teaching piano music, thus earning a handsome support and purchasing the home they then occupied, a tasteful, comfortable domicile. It was well for me I selected this spot, for it afterward proved "a City of Refuge." I was soon prostrated with a severe typhoid fever, and was so kindly cared for by this dear family, who, by tender ministration, nursed the little spark of hope, and brought me from death unto life. Their two sweet children and their musical prattle will ever be recalled as illuminated pictures upon the red-lettered page of life's history.
Of the tender care of Miss Fowler too much cannot be said. It was to her assiduous attention I was also, in a great degree, indebted for my recovery.
During this illness I could also number two other ministering spirits, Dr. Seiss, a Lutheran minister, who constantly visited me, and gave me many a word of comforting support, and Professor Brooks, who was called to my bedside as medical attendant.
He had been for many years an eminent allopathic physician, and was then a professor in the Homeopathic College of Philadelphia.
He also faithfully and unremittingly ministered to me during the many weeks of fever and prostration.
When I was almost well I one day said to him: "Doctor, what do I owe you?" The sweet serenity of his face merged into a benevolent beam, and in the vernacular of the Society of Friends, of which he was a member, he said: "Mary, Rachel and I have been talking it over, and we have concluded that thee will be too delicate to travel this winter, and will need all thy money; so thee does not owe me anything."
Choking with grateful emotion, as soon as I could command control I said: "Doctor, I could not expect you to give me such kind attention without remuneration, but since you have so willed it, I can only say I thank you for having saved my life." Whereupon there came the same luminous look, and the gentle voice said: "Mary, it was not I that saved thy life; it was thy Heavenly Father."
As soon as I was well enough to ride he made arrangements for me to visit his house. I took the street car, but by pre-arranged plan, he met me at his door, lifted me from the car, and carried me in his arms into a luxurious bed-chamber, where I was met by the sweet-voiced Rachel, who gave me a reviving draught of rare old wine, and in every way studied my wants during the day's visit, after which the Doctor drove me home in his carriage.
How do our hearts go out in gratitude to such true and loving natures, and how fondly do we recall in after years the sweet sounds of sympathy, whose melody pervades life's measured music.
Once again I found myself in Baltimore, where I received a letter from my brother William, urging me to spend the winter at his home in Pecatonica, Ill. This, together with a meeting with my cousin Sammy Heald, determined me to go West. My cousin was about to visit Iowa City, Iowa, where dwelt his betrothed, and he offered to pay all my traveling expenses if I would accompany him. The temptation of seeing one from whom there had been an eight years separation made my cousin's entreaties irresistible, and I yielded, receiving from him all the devoted attendance his kind nature could dictate. So, after the lapse of so many eventful years, I turned my face westward. I spent the winter at the home of my brother, and shall never forget his kindness and that of his family, as well as other residents of Pecatonica, who did so much to lighten the leaden-winged hours, which, in a little hamlet, drag so slowly in comparison with the din and bustle of city life, and the excitement of business and travel.
"So where'er I turn my eyes, Back upon the days gone by, Saddening thoughts of friends come o'er me; Friends who closed their course before me, Yet what links us friend to friend, But that soul with soul can blend. Love-like were those hours of yore, Let us walk in soul once more."
The dreary winter had passed away, one in sad contrast with the mild southern season, and known only to those who have realized its storms and wind and snow.
The birds of spring were caroling their first songs of the season, and the white mantle of snow disappearing under the sun-rays. These tokens told me I must be "up and doing." Selecting a companion among the kind group of Pecatonica friends, Miss Sarah Rogers, a lady of sterling virtue and pronounced character, I went to Chicago. The war conflict being still at its height, I could do little in the way of book selling, but managed to dispose of sufficient bead work to be entirely self-sustaining. In my business route in Chicago I entered a millinery establishment, and was surprised by a greeting from the familiar voice of my sister Jennie, and they alone who are members of a scattered household can realize what must be such a meeting. In the lapse of years since our separation, our paths had so diverged that we had lost trace of each other. I sat down and eagerly listened to a recital of an experience fraught with varied incident. They had moved from Chicago to Monroe city, Missouri, a place which (as most will remember) received the baptism of fire, being utterly destroyed by the Northern troops. My sister not only lost her home, but was separated from her family for several days. As soon as they were gathered together, and had gained sufficient strength to travel, they returned without a resource to Chicago, there to begin life anew, my sister lending a helping hand by opening this business. Her daughter Cora, whom I had left a little girl, was then a graceful young lady, has since married and is living in the city.
My brothers, Charles and Howard, both entered the ranks of the army, returned with health impaired from service, and afterward yielded up their lives.
My father had settled with his new family at Farmington, Ill., and thither my brother Howard repaired when utterly broken down in health. No mother could have more tenderly and steadfastly ministered to him, than did my father's wife; she, her two bachelor brothers and a maiden sister attending him, in the lingering, languishing hours of suffering, and gently smoothing his "pathway to the grave."
I must not fail to mention among Chicago friends the name of Mrs. Dean, which has been written in letters of light upon a hallowed life page, standing out in bold relief upon the background of years. Her house was my home, and she was ever a fond mother to me.
Her lovely little daughter, Ada, has since matured to womanhood, assumed the relations and duties of a wife, and is now presiding over an elegant home in one of the flourishing towns of Iowa.
"And when the stream Which overflowed the soul was passed away, A consciousness remained that it had left. Deposited upon the silent shore Of memory, images and previous thoughts, That shall not die and cannot be destroyed."
For three years longer lowered the lurking war-cloud, and I, among so many others, felt its baneful shadow. During this time I made Chicago my headquarters, taking occasional trips upon the various railroad routes converging there.
Finally I ventured upon a trip to Louisville, Ky., and, while it was my first introduction to that place, so cordially was I received by its citizens, so much was done to place me at ease, that I could but feel that I was revisiting a familiar spot and receiving the greetings of old-time friends; and, in spite of the heavy war pressure, it was financially the most successful visit I ever made, having sold five hundred volumes in the short space of two weeks, a fact in itself sufficient to exemplify the pervading spirit of its society, not one of whose members gave grudgingly, but with unhesitating and cheerful alacrity.
Thence I repaired to the "Blue Grass Country," the garden spot of Kentucky, and to the city of Lexington, the reputation of whose beautiful women has reached from sea to sea and from pole to pole, and the name of whose hero, Henry Clay, has made the heart of our nation throb with exultant pride. I was also a stranger there, yet I resolutely repaired to the Broadway, its principal hotel, trusting to the hospitality of its citizens. Nor did I "count without a host," for Mr. Lindsey, the proprietor, received me with courtly cordiality, installing us in an elegant suite of rooms upon the parlor floor, assigning us a servant in constant attendance, and urging us to feel at home. At breakfast the succeeding morning he greeted us with the pleasant tidings that he had already sold sixteen volumes of my book, after which he came to our apartment with a huge market basket, which he insisted upon filling with books, adding that I was too delicate to go out with them myself. This was a second time filled and emptied, and before dinner there was placed in my hands the proceeds of the sale of one hundred books.
My companion, amazed at his success, begged of him to let her know the secret, whereupon he said, laughingly: "Well, you see, I am a Democrat and a Free Mason. I talked politics to one, gave the society sign to another, and mixed a little religion with all. So I could not fail to succeed."
I could but feel, however, in spite of his jest, that his innate goodness was the Midas like touch, and that he bore in his own heart the "philosopher's stone," transforming all into gold.
It did not become necessary for me to appear in the streets of Lexington, yet I reaped a rich harvest of gain, and, above all, found a mine of wealth in the warm, true, loving, chivalric souls. Nor did the kindness cease at the fountain-head, for the little ones of Mr. Lindsey's family, laden with bead work, walked the streets of the city, trafficking for my benefit, returning with little hands empty of trinkets, but filled with money.
To crown all this kindness I was only allowed, upon leaving, to pay half the usual price for board, receiving letters of introduction to the Capital House, of Frankfort, whose proprietor extended the same liberality of terms, and whose citizens kindly and freely patronized me.
Going to Paris, I received so many favors that I never think of Kentucky and its noble sons and daughters without a thrill of loving gratitude.
Mr. Lindsey requested me to write to him upon my return, and, after the lapse of a long time, I did so, receiving a reply bearing the painful tidings that, by security debts, he had been bereft of all his earthly possessions, but was hopeful of regaining all. Surely such noble souls should not be left in the cloud while so many sordid, selfish natures sail upon a sea of success.
"Hope like the glimmering taper's light, Adorns and cheers the way; And still as darker grows the night, Emits a cheerful ray."
Upon our return from Kentucky we were received by motherly Mrs Dean, with her ever warm welcome; but after the usual greeting a mischievous smile was seen lurking on her face, and she archly told us that she had a very attractive addition to her family, in the persons of two bachelor boarders. This served but as a pastime of the moment, and I gave it little further thought, until I was presented to Mr. Arms, a gentleman of medium height, head of noble mould and fine poise, dark hair and luxuriant beard, large brown eyes expressive and scintillating, quiet, unobtrusive manner and somewhat low voice.
Methinks that I can trace a meaning smile upon the faces of some of my readers at the detailed description of one they deem too blind to see. Not so, there is a strange mysterious masonry in human souls, and while
"Few are the hearts, whence one same touch, Bids the sweet fountain flow,"
an indescribable consciousness of mutual interest came with this meeting; and while I little dreamed that this stranger would in after time stand by my side in the nearest and dearest relation of life, even that of a husband; his face, his form, his voice, his soul were all to me an open volume, which by that inner sight, I read in every minute detail, and then and there were all these photographed upon my heart.
Before I had taken my next leave of Chicago I had passed through all the phases of doubt, in which I deeply questioned my own heart, seeking there the solution of why I had inspired an interest in this stranger. Ever since my sickness in Philadelphia I had been a comparative invalid, devoting much of my time to the restoration of health, and above all the recovery of that sight which was still so dear to me, and so hard to relinquish without a struggle. So with my depleted strength, moderate means and somewhat darkened hopes, I seemed to myself a very unattractive object. Be this as it may, while no formal engagement bound us, we parted as acknowledged lovers.
Miss Rogers entered into business for herself, and I went unattended to Ypsilanti, Michigan, to be under the charge of a physician, who was to test the effect of electrical treatment as a means of restoration to sight. While he was deeply imbued with interest in my case, and gave me every care and attention while I remained under his roof, he was unfortunately wedded to one whose cold, unsympathetic suspicious nature made a pandemonium for all within the circle of her baleful influence. Of such unions Watts has truly said:
Logs of green wood that quench the coals, Are married just like sordid souls; With osiers for a bend.
To her I am indebted for many a dark and tearful hour, when not only my heart, but my eyes, needed perfect repose.
But beside this thorn-tree in the home garden bloomed for me, and for all, a beautiful flower, in the person of her niece, Josie McMath, who, with her loving, gentle touch, toned down the inequalities and smiled away the frowns.
She and I became fast friends, and afterward freely exchanged confidences, telling to each other a mutual tale of girlish hope and trustful affection.
During my stay in Ypsilanti I received a letter from Rachel Weaver, who had been bereft of her mother and had lost every means of support. She earnestly desired to return to me; and as the letter brought with it the magnetism of a former attachment, I wrote to her to come to me.
Finding the prospect of recovery through my present treatment hopeless, I went to Ionia, Michigan, repairing to the house of Dr. Baird, where I awaited tidings of Rachel Weaver, and whom I met at Detroit, when we returned to Chicago, where I was met by Mr. Arms, and who, soon as an opportunity offered, rehearsed to me the workings of his own mind during my absence.
He told me he had been seriously thinking over the matter, and after carefully reviewing his own feelings he could arrive at but one conclusion, viz, that I had become necessary to his happiness, and that he hoped for a mutual plan for speedy union.
He owned a farm in Iowa, which he proposed to sell, and invest the proceeds in a home in Chicago.
He also begged a promise that I would never make another attempt to recover my sight, which gave me an assurance that my blindness was no barrier to his love.
With a strange flutter of emotion my heart responded to his sweet assurances, and, as a weary child confidingly rests upon its mother's breast, so did my tired soul trustingly repose in the safe haven of his manly love, and cast its anchor there! safe amid the lowering clouds of life, serene amid its surging seas and wildest waves; for arching all was the Iris of bright-hued hope.
"Visions come and go; Shapes of resplendent beauty round me throng; From angels' lips I seem to hear the flow Of soft and holy song."
"'Tis nothing now— When heaven is opening on my sightless eyes, When airs from paradise refresh my brow, That earth in darkness lies."
Leaving Chicago I traveled via Michigan Southern Railroad to the little town of Jonesville, Michigan, the home of my childhood and the scene of so many fond and sad recollections.
Stopping at the village hotel for some preparation, I wended my way to the little cemetery. There was a picture in memory of a green hill-side slope, which, whenever the dark funeral day was recalled, formed a vivid and prominent feature of the scene; and so, upon that day, I found within the little "city of the silent" the identical hill-side, but, with the most scrutinizing search, failed to find the sacred mound holding the most hallowed form of the home group, and over which were shed the bitter tears of childhood's grief, more poignant and more lasting than we usually attribute to that period of life.
In the hope of eliciting some information I entered a cottage near by, which I found inhabited by aged people; but as they had been residents only seven years, and twenty-four years had elapsed since my mother was laid to rest, they could give me no light or aid, save the simple suggestion that there were a number of graves covered by the undergrowth of shrubbery, and perchance hers might be one of them. Accepting the possibility I found the one I sought, which could not fail to be recognized, for strange to say, time had dealt so gently that the slender picket fence was undecayed by his "effacing; lingers," and the name painted upon the little wooden head-board was distinctly visible. Grouped in quadrangular growth were four little trees, gracefully arching in a bowery drapery over the grave, as if nature in strange sympathy with the mourners left behind had offered this tribute to the noble mother. How vividly came back again the long lost childhood home, and as the wind sighed through the leafy boughs, seemed to sob a sad requiem for the dead. There was a little song I had learned in the Institution, and had so often sang, when unknown to those around me every chord in my sad heart seemed
"As harp-strings broken asunder, By music they throbbed to express."
Then the sweet, sad words come back in memory,
"I hear the soft winds sighing, Through every bush and tree; Where my dear mother's lying, Away from love and me.
Tears from mine eyes are weeping, And sorrow shades my brow; Long time has she been sleeping— I have no mother now."
After a long, lingering look, I turned sadly away, going to the little marble yard in the vicinity, and seeking the proper person, I communicated to him the desire for a head and foot-stone for the grave, together with marble corner stones to support an iron chain for an enclosure, asking him for an estimate of the cost.
Looking at me with almost tearful emotion, he said, when the blind girl, after the lapse of twenty-four years, comes back to offer a tribute to the memory of her mother, the result of her own unaided earnings, I can but be generous, and offered to do all for half the usual price. Knowing instinctively that I could trust him, I left all in his hands, and have never had occasion to feel that I had misplaced my confidence.
Before leaving the village I visited a clothing store which had formerly been the tin shop in which my father worked; and again I was a child, my little form perched upon the wooden work-bench, and my ears soothed by the melody of my father's song, for ever as he sat at his daily labor he lent it the charm of his sweet voice.
Strange to say, there was no one there who knew the "blind girl." All my mother's friends had vanished, and "they were all gone, the dear familiar faces." I fondly bade adieu to Jonesville with the consciousness of having performed a sad duty, and proceeded with my avocation, with my wonted success, until we reached Toledo, Ohio, where Miss Weaver was attacked with a serious illness which kept me in constant attendance upon her for several weeks.
Her physician assuring me that she would be unable to resume her duties for some time longer, we decided it best for all to send her East. Procuring her a ticket, and placing her under kind protection, I sent her to her friends in New York.
I supplied her place with a lady I found in my boarding house, and who I regret to record was in strange contrast with my former companions. Going to Pittsburg we stopped at the Merchants' Hotel, near the depot, where, after a singularly short time, she was visited by a gentleman whom she represented to be a cousin, and while their whispered conversation in my room (a place where I deemed it expedient for them to meet) aroused some suspicion in my mind, I hushed all thought of wrong and hoped for the best.
She further stated that she had an uncle in Alleghany city, and thither she went to spend the Sunday, leaving me in the hotel unattended; and from subsequent revelations I must fain believe the time was devoted to the so-called cousin.
Upon her return on Monday she suddenly declared her intention of leaving me, adding that she cared not what became of me. I calmly awaited a lull in the excitement of this announcement, and told her kindly that if she would remain with, me another week I would take her to her mother in Ohio, and leave her in her hands, but she haughtily and peremptorily declined, and so left me alone, and, as she supposed, uncared for.
But I was so confident of protection that I felt not even a rankling pang at the cruel injustice she had done me, but quietly waited until assured she was gone, when I left my room, groped my way through the unfamiliar hall and knocked at the first door I found, which fortunately proved to be that of a lady named Harris. In as few words as possible I told her the story of my desertion, and had sympathy and congratulation from all in the house at my escape from one who had seemed to them so coarse and unsympathetic.
The clerk of the hotel, being a brother of Mr. Loughery, my old time teacher, it was thought best to appeal to him. He met me with an unmistakable expression of sorrow on his face, and as soon as he could command language to do so, communicated the tidings of the sudden demise of his brother in Greensburg, Pa., he having fallen dead in the street. As he was about leaving, assistance from that source became impossible; yet, overwhelmed as he was with this crushing sorrow, he urged me to accompany him to the funeral, an invitation I could not accept, for a renewal of the sad memories of my instructor and friend would have been more than I could bear, so I bade him adieu, and committed myself to the tender mercy of Mrs. Harris, who kindly accompanied me to the post office and depot, and started me safely toward Chicago, a letter being received which I knew to be from Mr. Arms, from whom I had been awaiting tidings for three, anxious, weary weeks.
With a consciousness of some impending cloud, yet unable to read the dear pen tracery, I never before so deeply felt the blight of blindness, for the contents were too sacred for the desecration of stranger's sight.
So all through that weary journey, softened as it was by the unremitting kindness of all the railroad officials and attendants, I carried a crushing weight of anxiety and suspense, until I reached Chicago, and dear Mrs. Dean, who at once revealed to my waiting heart the contents of the letter.
Mr. Arms was in Indiana, and very ill at the time of writing (three weeks previous) and earnestly desired my presence. The weary hours of night dragged their slow lengths away, and the morning found me speeding on as fast as steam could carry me, toward Indiana, yet all too slow for my fears and forebodings.
I found him scarcely able to be carried to the post of duty, where, at the mill being built under his superintendence, he watched the progress of the work.
'Tis needless to say how joyous was my welcome and how soon the invalid gave signs of convalescence, under the influence of my long hoped for presence.
"We strive to read, as we may best, This city, like an ancient palimpsest, To bring to light upon the blotted page The mournful record of an earlier age, That, pale and half-effaced, lies hidden away Beneath the fresher writings of to-day."
After spending a fortnight with the invalid, in which "the golden hours on angel's wings" sped on and away, bringing a returning glow of health to his cheeks, strength to his steps and hope to his heart, so with renewed resolution I started upon my mission, first going to Pecatonica to visit my brother William and family, and to complete my plans for travel.
Soon after my arrival I was introduced by my sister-in-law to Miss Hattie Hudson, and by that inward sympathy which unites all kindred natures into one, and the strange recognition of soul with soul, we were at once friends.
She was indeed
"A perfect woman, nobly planned, To warn, to comfort, and command."
One who, aside from her physical attractions, possessed all the charms of inner grace and beauty, idealizing and spiritualizing her nature.
We at once also agreed that she should remain with me, and with such rare companionship I started East. Stopped at the beautiful city of Cleveland, so rural and yet so metropolitan in its characteristics, where, following fast upon the din of business and the rush of trade, steals the sweet murmur of waters, the "wave of woods" and flow of fountains, the shaded park and perfumed pasture.
Here, aside from the cheer of business success, my heart was gladdened by a meeting with my old friend, Mrs. Bigelow, and little Willie, the whilom blind boy I had met in New York city, and toward whom I had been drawn by that "touch of nature" which "makes the whole world kin."
He was now an elegant, educated gentleman, who, among his many accomplishments, numbered that of music, a science he had so thoroughly mastered, and with the "concord of sweet sounds" he helped us all to while away many an otherwise weary hour.
I visited the various places of note upon the New York Central Railway, thoroughly and successfully canvassing all, and reaching New York city, was received by my uncle Henry Deems with such a welcome as only a noble, soulful man can extend. After a short, sweet respite from care, we turned toward New England, the truly classic ground of America, every foot of whose "sacred soil" has been trod by pilgrim feet and hallowed by their hearts' devotion.
Went to Plymouth, Massachusetts, and spent almost an entire day at Pilgrim Hall in researches and study of its musty and time-worn relics.
It was against the rules to open the cases containing these treasures of the past to spectators, all of whom were forced to look at them through doors of glass, even as the bereft ones are ofttimes allowed to look at loved lineaments only through the lid of a closed casket; but the gentleman in charge made mine an exceptional case, and, to use his own language, as my sight lay in the sense of feeling, I should certainly touch these relics.
All the interest of varied historical association was imparted to me, and my fingers allowed to rest upon everything. I closed this day, so rich in research, with gratitude to him for his thoughtful kindness.
There was in process of erection a monument upon Plymouth Hock, and I stood upon that granite shrine, where first knelt the Pilgrim Fathers, and pictured in my mind's eye the landing of the Mayflower and the grouping of her freight of human souls, majestically towering above them all the stalwart form of Miles Standish, with his "muscles and sinews of iron," and close by the lithe, clinging, delicate form of
"That beautiful rose of love That bloomed for him by the wayside, And was the first to die Of all who came in the Mayflower."
These and all their attendants passed through my fancy as they knelt upon Plymouth Rock, and with the surging sea for a symphony, sent up their first song of praise and deliverance, and in that hour of reverie there was to me, indeed,
"A rapture by the lonely shore; A society where none intrudes. By the deep sea—and music in its roar."
Then again I moved away in almost rapt entrancement, and soon stood in the old cemetery beside the moss-grown memorial stones which had stood amid the flight of over two centuries, and emotions deep and strange struggled in my breast, sealed by that golden, sacred silence which sanctifies the unutterable.
Prominent among other objects there, was the resting-place of the Judsons, to whose memory a suitable tomb had been erected.
Going to Boston I spent three delightful weeks at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Little, a dear old couple who had been married long enough to have celebrated their "Golden Wedding." The old gentleman was wont to say, that these fifty years were all links in the "honey-moon," but that he had not as yet reached the end of the first "honey-moon." So these two old lovers, like "John Anderson my Joe," and his devoted companion, had climbed the hill and were standing "thegither at its foot" in happy contentment, looking toward the golden sunset and catching the gleam of the light beyond.
I of course visited "Boston Common," "Bunker Hill Monument," "Old South Church," the museums and galleries of painting, rare collections of statuary, and even heard the "Great Organ." These localities are all fraught with interest, but too familiar to tourists to require description or comment; but I cannot leave the readers of this chapter without a tribute of praise to the high attainments of this "Athens of America," and a word of gratitude for their kindness. I found not the cold, phlegmatic nature which had been depicted as that of the Yankee, nor did I see the tight purse-grip so often attributed to them, for I have nowhere met warmer hearts and more generous patronage than there, and indeed all New England was pervaded by an equal spirit of liberality and kindness. Lowell and the other manufacturing towns I visited were to me objects of wonderful interest, the music of whose looms and shuttles, belts and wheels, engines and flame, will ever come in vivid variety amid the many voiced memories of life and its mystic music.
"There is an old belief that in the embers Of all things, their primordial form exists; And cunning Alchemists could recreate The rose, with all its members, From its own ashes—but without the bloom, Without the least perfume. Ah me! what wonder-working, occult science Can from the ashes of our hearts Once more the rose of youth restore? What craft of alchemy can bid defiance To time, and change; and for a single hour, Renew this phantom flower?"
Taking New Hampshire in my route, I was pained to find the season too far advanced to admit a trip to White Mountains, and among the great objects of interest I must of necessity omit this "Noblest Roman of them all," and pass silently by the grandeur of this rugged mountain scenery.
I went to Waterbury, Vermont, the birth-place of Mr. Arms, and, after a short rest at the hotel, walked through the meadow, and crossed the clear trout-stream he had so often pictured to me as most prominent among the reminiscences of his boyhood. Going to the homestead now hallowed to me as his birth-place, I was kindly received by the widow of his brother, who needed only the knowledge of my acquaintance with her friends in the West to place me upon a familiar footing, and I became an earnest, attentive listener to her well rendered rehearsal of the pranks of his urchin-hood. So was this day marked as memorable in the calendar of life. From Waterbury I went to Burlington, and thence to Montpelier, and finding the Legislature in session the sale of my books was greatly enhanced by the liberal patronage of its members; and here as elsewhere I had reason to to thank our national convocations.
The rigor of the approaching New England winter warned me of the necessity for going South. While on the Hudson River Railroad I was accosted by a gentleman who asked me if I could read the raised letters, and learning that I could, he begged me to accept a copy of the Bible in that style of lettering; I of course did so, and have this volume still in my possession.
Going to Chicago I found Mr. Arms established in business, which gave me an additional hope for future happiness, and 'tis needless to say,
"I built myself a castle So stately, grand and fair; I built myself a castle, A castle in the air."
Delicate lungs and irritating cough, sent me still further South, and I reluctantly left Chicago and all I held so dear.
"There is a special Providence In the fall of a sparrow."
"There is a Divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them as we will."
I have never had occasion so especially to note the over-ruling majesty of a supreme power as in my next journey, the circumstances of which I am about to relate.
I went via Indianapolis, Ind., and Louisville, Ky., to Memphis, Tenn. The latter place rivals its sister cities in generous patronage, for, although the whole southern country was so thoroughly devastated, I met with success throughout its length and breadth.
I was luxuriously entertained at the Southern Hotel of Memphis and, as I had been over most of the railroad routes, I felt anxious to go to New Orleans by water, and for that purpose sought the general agent of the river line of steamers, anticipating the same liberality which had characterized the railroads in granting passes.
I was most haughtily received by this official, rudely addressed, and decidedly and irrevocably denied a pass.
Nothing daunted, I walked to the levee, where lay the steamer Platte Valley, almost ready to leave, and besought Hattie, who was ever my counselor, to pay our passage, and, in spite of repulse, enjoy the river scenery. In her judgment it seemed better not to do so, but to use our railroad passes, as usual. I cheerfully accepted her decision. The Platte Valley started on her trip with brilliant prospects for a safe and successful passage, but seven miles below Memphis she sank in the deep waters of the Mississippi. Many of her passengers, especially the female portion, were taking supper in the lower cabin, and, having no means of escape, perished. Hence I had reason to be thankful to Hattie's decision, to the agent's rude rebuff, and to that over ruling power which ofttimes, in our blindness, we fail to discern.
At Chattanooga I, of course, visited the National Cemetery, where lie the ashes of so many fallen heroes. Ascended Lookout Mountain to the scene of the "Battle in the Clouds," and I could almost evoke the presence of General Joe Hooker, with his once grand proportions and noble mien, so deservedly famed as The Hero of Lookout Mountain. I afterward ascended another hill, which, although a pigmy in comparison with the Leviathan Lookout, would, in the monotony of our prairie country, be ranked as a mountain. It was upon its top were constructed the government water works, and upon which my brother William was employed for two years, occupying as a residence during that time a little cabin on the height, which was plainly perceptible from the window of my hotel quarters, but which I desired to visit in person, a source of real pleasure, perhaps enhanced by the obstacles I had to surmount in the ascent.
At Vicksburg, Miss., I was followed by the same tidal wave of success, in spite of the sad stringency of the times and the cruel effects of war.
While there a gentleman took us in his carriage to the earthworks constructed by the soldiers as a fortification, taking great pains to explain all to me, and allowed me to use the usual sense of feeling, which so often served in lieu of sight.
At Jackson, Miss., I was a guest of the same hotel in which lived General Beauregard, who was Superintendent of the Jackson and New Orleans Railway, and who, aside from other acts of kindness and civility, freely tendered me a pass over his road.
My stay at the "Crescent City" was not only marked by great business success, but the three weeks of sight-seeing was a "continued feast."
Although it was now the middle of January, flowery spring "seemed lingering in the lap of winter." The perfume of the violet, the scent of the rose, the gladness of the sun-beam and the brightness of the skies will ever linger in memory, while the geniality and goodness of its people will, in the "dimness of distance," glimmer like a soft love-light in the life of the blind girl.
I visited the French market, and drank a cup of the famed and fragrant Mocha; went to its cemeteries, which, in their flowery beauty, robbed death of its terrors; took a drive upon the shell road to Lake Pontchartrain; walked in Jackson Square; and, indeed, visited all localities of note in and around the city.
Should my curious readers wish to know how I could enjoy and describe all these, the answer will be found in my companion and friend, Hattie, who, with her wonderful adaptation and ingenuity, added to her remarkable descriptive powers, vividly pictured all to me, and, through an unwritten, indescribable language known only to ourselves, it became a system of mental telegraphy and soul language.
There is in Europe a blind man, whose name I cannot recall, who is led from Court to Court and from palace to palace by a frail young girl, and between these there exists the same mystic yet unerring language. What this little fairy is to him such was Hattie Hudson to me, or, to use the language of another:
"She was my sight; The ocean to the river of my thoughts, Which terminated all."
"Devotion wafts the mind above, But Heaven itself descends in love; A feeling from the Godhead caught. To wean from earth each sordid thought; A ray of him who formed the whole, A glory circling round the soul."
Leaving New Orleans with the fervid fire which the warm hearts of its people had kindled still burning in my breast, and the many memories of its fragrance and sunlight, and beauty, forever embalmed and enshrined in my heart, I crossed in one of the great gulf steamers to Mobile, the home of the celebrated Madame Le Verte; but, as her continued travels call her so often away from the city in which she so gracefully and so heartfully dispensed the hospitalities of home-life, and opened wide her doors to the stranger, I was not privileged to meet her; nor can I note many of the manifold celebrities of the city. I can only say I found it as beautiful as a dream; its skies of sweet Italian softness; its waters clear and pure as "Pyerian Springs;" its winds gentle as the whisper of an Angel; its flowers gorgeous in tint and redolent with fragrance; the spirits of its people attuned to harmony with their beautiful surroundings, and overflowing with generous sentiment.
Without the slightest intimation upon my own part, I was presented with passes over the Mobile and Ohio Railway, by which I went to Cairo, and thence by the magnet, which so often drew my spirit toward the pole to Chicago.
After a brief respite and rest I went to Minnesota, in whose life-giving climate I spent the summer. Passing over the oft-told tale of financial success, I must address myself to those who—
"Love the haunts of nature, Love the sunshine of the meadow, Love the shadow of the forest, Love the wind among the branches And the rushing of great rivers Through their palisades and pine trees; And the thunder of the mountains, Whose innumerable echoes Flap like eagles in their eyries."
To these I must revert to the many beauteous haunts and hidden retreats of nature, whose varied phases of quiet sweetness and sublime grandeur are heightened and intensified by the charm of legend and of song.
I visited the falls of "Minne-ha-ha," and could almost fancy the silvery song and light laughter of the Indian girl in the happy purling music of the waterfall, and, as it glided off into the gentler murmur of the stream, below, I could imagine the still sadder song of the spirit speeding to rest in
"The Islands of the Blessed, To the Land of the Hereafter."
Minneapolis and St. Paul were visited, but they are all too celebrated to need note.
Back again to the "Garden City," and to the one who had so patiently waited for the sunshine of success and the consummation of our plans for the future; but, as "the best made plans of mice and men aft gang aglee," we found ourselves no nearer the goal. One day he said to me: "Mary, we have waited to be richer, but have still grown poorer; so is it not best that, in defiance of our apparently adverse fate, we unite our interests and our lives?" So hand in hand we resolved to share the joys and sorrows of life, each catching the burden of the old refrain—
"Thy smile could make a summer Where darkness else would be."
We repaired to the house of Dr. O.H. Tiffany, and, in the presence of a few friends, were quietly married, after which we made an unostentatious wedding trip to Wisconsin to visit some of his family friends.
With them all the "wonder grew" why it was that, among the many smiles hitherto lavished upon him from beautiful eyes, he should have chosen the blind girl. His reiterated assertion of faith in the purity and unselfishness of the life, and the inner light of the soul, found in them a ready acceptance of his choice, and they warmly extended to her all the confidence and affection of kindred hearts.
"To know, to esteem, to love, and then to part, Makes up life's tale to many a feeling heart."
A short time after our marriage Mr. Arms was offered a contract to superintend the construction of a mill at Woodbine, Iowa, which it seemed best for him to accept; and finding there were no comfortable accommodations for a lady in that place, he left me in a boarding house in Chicago, with Hattie for a companion. It was indeed hard for us to part so soon, and the pang was rendered more bitter by the fact of his impaired health, for he had never entirely recovered from the effects of the malarial fever contracted in a miasmatic district in Indiana.
After his departure time hung so heavily upon my hands, my present aimless, carefree life being in such striking contrast to the activity and excitement of travel, that I secretly resolved, as separation was inevitable, to resume my old life, and thus be of assistance to my husband. Unknown to him I wrote to my publishers for a fresh supply of books, and started for Michigan, the State which held within its boundaries the first scenes of sorrow my young life had known, when, amid helpless and hopeless hours of persecution, my girlhood seemed rayless and forsaken, but when kind friends had come in the hour of need, and helpful hands had lifted me from the dark depths. From there I wrote to Mr. Arms, communicating to him my intention to travel. He sent me a touching reply, saying he had never intended me to battle with the outside world again, but, if I deemed it best, it was perhaps well.
I had cherished a desire to visit the place in which I lived with the family of Ruthven, for then I could look above and beyond the clouds of early days, and discern the many golden gleams and rosy rays, the many halcyon hours of happiness and hope. So, after the spirit has passed through the purifying fires of persecution, it can calmly look back with a triumphant soul song. But these old scenes were in places so remote and inaccessible that I was forced to forego the pleasure of visiting them; but in many other places I found the old familiar landmarks gone, and the transformations of time had placed in their stead forms and faces new and strange.
"A generous friendship no cold medium knows, Burns with one love, with one resentment glows."
After remaining in Michigan until late in the winter, we crossed over to Canada via the Grand Trunk Railway. Our first stopping place was at Saint Mary's, where at the depot we found a nice sleigh awaiting us with, all the necessary appurtenances for comfort, in the way of robes and blankets. Deposited at the hotel in safety, we handed the driver seventy-five cents and were astonished at having fifty cents returned. Supposing there was some mistake, we demurred, when he said, "My charge is two York shillings or twenty-five cents United States money." Surely we thought the spirit of Yankee greed has not yet penetrated the Provinces, when two women, three trunks, satchels, &c., can be comfortably transported for so small a sum. At the hotel we were at once ushered into a warm and comfortable suite of rooms, a pleasant contrast to the usual season of weary waiting for a room. Indeed during our entire stay in the town there was not one omission of attention to our comfort.
At Port Hope we were guests of Mr. and Mrs. Mackey, of the Mackey House, and received from them such kindness as we could scarce expect from old friends. Just here let me say that I had heard so many sneering allusions to the character of the "Canucks," that I was quite unprepared for the universal polish, elegance, cordiality and kindness of the Canadians.
We went from Port Hope to Toronto, the home of the celebrated Canadian Oculist, Doctor Roseborough, whose fame had been heralded in every portion of the Provinces I had visited. My past experience had so disgusted me with eye surgeons that for one week I had daily passed his house, instinctively avoiding an entrance. One day, however, I quite as instinctively sought an interview with the Doctor, impelled by some strange impulse I could not well define. I was familiarly but courteously greeted with these words, "You have been in the city an entire week, and yet have not called to see me." In reply I frankly confessed that I avoided upon principle the members of his branch of the surgical profession.
His subtle magnetism would soon have dispelled all feeling of repulsion; and before I was conscious of the degree of confidence he inspired, I found myself almost persuaded to accept his cordial invitation to tea. The only barrier I could interpose was want of acquaintance with his wife, and that obstacle was soon removed. We found her a most intelligent and charming person, and her mother, Mrs. Reeves, who was present, a dignified, stately English lady of "the old regime."
In a few moments after our meeting all her reserve vanished, and she impulsively and almost tearfully drew near. She told in trembling tones of a blind sister who had passed away some time before, and while she had come in contact with so many who had resorted to her son-in-law for treatment, she had never before met one who resembled her sister, while in me she seemed to have found her counterpart.
This became at once a bond between us, and throwing off all her usual reserve, she insisted upon having us leave the hotel and spend the remainder of the time of our stay with her. So pronounced was her character and so peremptory her demand, there was no room for refusal, and when in a succeeding conversation with her son I expressed some compunction at our stay, I was at once silenced by the remark that his mother was a woman of marked idiosyncracies, and when she so distinguished an individual as to make them a guest the decision was final, and I must not wound her by an expression of possible impropriety. It is needless to say I left this family with deep regret, carrying letters from Doctor Roseborough; and in my visits to the various places en route to Montreal I found these credentials of great service.
On arriving at Montreal we were handsomely domiciled at St. Lawrence Hall. Our room was large and airy, and our bed stood in one of those quaint old alcoves so peculiar to the English bed-chamber; while the table d'hote, with its savory roast beef, plumb pudding, etc., was equally characteristic of British comfort.
This was during the blustering month of March, and all who have visited that city at the season in which it becomes necessary to cut away the ice from the streets will remember the pitfalls and realize how difficult it would be for the blind, even with the kindest and most careful attendance, to avoid danger. I escaped without any greater mishap than a fall into one of these excavations, attended by a wetting of my feet, as well as a thorough soaking of five books and their consequent loss. I had, however, four weeks of successful canvassing, and during that time the condition of the streets had quite improved.
As my payments were made in the current coin of Canada, and I had the advantage of easy access to the States, I exchanged my silver at a premium of thirty-five per cent, and my gold at forty per cent., thus greatly enhancing my profits. In this connection I must acknowledge the kindness of the residents of Montreal, as well as their more than liberal patronage, which I will ever gratefully remember.
Returning to Toronto I rejoined my friends, and, after another short season with them, I went to Ottawa, the delightful Capital of Ontario, then Canada West, arriving there about two days after the news of the assassination of D'Arcy McGee, his household being in mourning, and the whole community convulsed and sobbing in responsive sorrow.
This martyred man seemed to have had a singular premonition of death, which came foreshadowed in a dream. He was visiting some intimate lady friends, and after dinner threw himself upon a lounge for a short siesta, when, suddenly springing up from a disturbed slumber, he exclaimed: "I believe I am going to be murdered!" Whereupon he related his dream. He said he thought himself in a little boat, floating upon a stream, and accompanied by two men, who, in spite of his convulsive efforts to near the shore, persistently allowed him to float down the stream to the falls below, over which his boat was madly hurled, when, by his imaginary fall, he was awakened with a strange and premonitory dread in his heart. His devoted wife survived him but a short time, and was found dead at her bedside in the attitude of prayer, where, as her spirit was wafted away upon the wings of devotion, her face was left placid and smiling in its last sleep.
"So united were they in life, And in death were not divided."
"Howe'er it be, it seems to me 'Tis only noble to be good, Since hearts are more than coronets, And simple faith than Norman blood."
The various localities in Ottawa being so familiar to so many readers and tourists, I will not dwell upon them at length, but suffice it to say I visited the various Government Departments, and could not fail to be deeply impressed by the truly elegant manners and courtly bearing of the officials.
In one of these Departments I found an elderly gentleman, slightly afflicted with deafness. According to the etiquette of their business regulations I was received in standing attitude, and in the few moments' interview were condensed the thoughts and feelings of years. He bought my book, for which he paid two dollars and a half in gold, and, as he bade me good-bye, he stooped and kissed my forehead with the stately grace of a cavalier of the Crusades, which act of emotional deference was heightened by the hot tears which fell from his eyes and dropped upon my cheeks, and the fervor of his repeated—"God bless you, my child."
At Hamilton we called at the Mute and Blind Asylums, which were then combined in one, where we were received with great kindness, every possible attention being lavished upon us to heighten our interest and render our visit enjoyable. Going to Buffalo we had a social, cozy visit with an aunt of Hattie's, after which we proceeded to Niagara Falls.
It is no wonder that, as a nation, we are proud of Niagara, which, in grandeur and sublimity, rivals any waterfall of note in the world. Taking a carriage we drove to the Canada side, where are so many localities of historical interest, and where, at certain points, are found the finest views of the falls. I remained in the carriage while Hattie went under the dashing, roaring, maddening sheet of water, which feat, as well as the usual one of a trip in the Maid of the Mist, seems necessary, in its apparent peril, to a full appreciation of the awful and stupendous grandeur of this phenomenon of nature.
I walked over Suspension Bridge in order to realize its construction through the sense of feeling, and our driver seemed much amused at my manner of seeing. Dismissing our carriage, we walked over Goat Island, in order to better take in the diversified beauty. The old man at the bridge, in consideration of my affliction, refused to accept the usual fee; so hard-hearted as they seem, in their spirit of gain, they have still some vulnerable point, some avenue left open to the heart, thus confirming the humanitarian sentiment, that no nature is utterly depraved.
Entering into conversation with the old bridge-tender, I was amused and surprised at his fund of anecdote and wealth of wit. Among other playful jests he declared he could define the exact condition of heart in each individual who crossed over, as accurately as we note the mercury in the barometer for atmospheric probabilities, even going so far as to say that he could guess the "Yes" or "No," and consequently the engagement or non-engagement of each returning couple.
We followed the meandering paths and shaded seclusions, where tree and flower, rock and stream make up the fairy realm, and crowned all by standing in the tower on Table Rock, our hearts awed and reverent and our lips inaudibly whispering "Be still, and know that I am God."
Leaving by the Great Western Railway we stopped at London, Canada, where Hattie had friends, and where I found a letter from my husband, who had returned from Woodbine, and being about to establish himself for a time in Milwaukee, where he was to build a mill, he desired me to return at once and accompany him. Without delay we sped on in the lightning train to Chicago, my impatient heart keeping time with the winged flight of the cars.
"And the night shall be filled with music, And the thoughts that infest the day Shall fold their tents like the Arabs, And as quietly steal away."
Our hearts beating with high hopes and expectant joys, we once more settled down to happiness in Milwaukee. A joyful trio were we, my husband, Hattie and myself. Our location in the Lake House, then one of the most popular little hotels in the city, augured well for a pleasant sojourn.
Mrs. Towle, the proprietress, was one who had deeply drank of the cup of sorrow, the first draught coming from the hand of one who had vowed her his love and protection, and who, after twenty-five years of wedded life, deserted her. When, with apparent penitence, he returned to her, he was received to her forgiving heart, and then came the draining of the bitter dregs in a second desertion.
With her two children as her only dower, she patiently took up the burden of life, and bravely bore all, supporting and educating her two daughters, and never losing dignity or caste.
No more delightful summer resort could be found than Milwaukee, familiarly known as the "Cream City," from the light straw or creamy tint of the brick, which forms so large a part in the architecture of that city, and gives an air of charming cleanliness to the buildings. This shade is said by chemists to be the result of the want of the usual element of iron in the clay of which it is made, and so curious is it to strangers that it has become a familiar saying that few people leave Milwaukee without carrying away "a brick in their hats," this being doubtless in part a jesting allusion to the apparently all-pervading spirit of the gay Gambrinus apparent there and the numberless manufactories of the foaming lager. Yet methinks this is no longer a more striking characteristic there than elsewhere, in spite of the predominant German element.
The word "Milwaukee" signifies rich land, and the truthful significance of the appellation is amply testified by the rare flowers, green gardens, fertile fields and towering forests in and around it, all of which are the outgrowth of its soil of rich alluvial loam.
Milwaukee is a city whose animus is in striking contrast to the daring, dashing spirit of Chicago, but its substantial wealth, cash basis, and slow, careful, steady progress, have led it on to sure success, so well attested by the quiet and substantial elegance of its business buildings, the palatial proportions and exquisite finish of its private dwellings, with their appropriate appointments of cultivated conservatories, gorgeous gardens and rare works of art. The well stored libraries evince an advanced degree of cultivation, and the literary coteries a prevailing element of the dilletante spirit, while the plain, rich habiliments, and the elegant turnouts with liveried attendants, indicate a degree of fashion and style unknown in many larger cities; and their manufactories and business houses suggest great mercantile advancement, their elevators and shipping a high order of commercial greatness.
Their harbor is one of the finest in the world, and by travelers is said to resemble that of the beautiful Naples. Indeed, the extended view from the drive upon Prospect Street is without a rival. Beautiful Boulevardes were then in quite advanced process of construction, and in time must rank among the most shaded, flowery walks and drives in the world.
Swiftly sped the summer hours in fair Milwaukee, with its gay gladiolas and blue skies, its crystal waters and grand old forests, until it ceased to be a wonder why so many health and pleasure seekers made it a resort, and that it became, during the warm season, a fashionable watering place.
One of our most frequent rendezvous was upon the lake shore, where, in a sweet secluded spot, far away from the throng which resorted there, a rough log for a seat, we were wont to sit for hours, listening to the music of the bands upon the excursion boats as they came and went with their scores of pleasure seekers, and the still more harmonious melody of the waves as they rose and fell at our feet in low, soft, musical murmurs.
Among the many attractions of Milwaukee is that of one of the several noble institutions erected by our Government and known as National Soldiers' Homes.
It is located four miles west of the city, and is accessible both by Elizabeth Street and Grand Avenue, two of the most delightful drives of Milwaukee.
Its eight hundred acres are beautifully enclosed and finely cultivated, being laid out by one of its former chaplains, according to the most artistic rules of landscape gardening; every coil and curve of avenue being a line of beauty, and its fifteen miles of drive startling the eye with its grouping of lake and garden, bridge and stream, fern-clad ravines and sunny heights.
Amid its dense groves are fairy pavilions, in which its maimed and scarred veterans discourse sweet music by a silver cornet band, without one grating sound or discordant note.
Without the rigid discipline of active array life, these veterans have sufficient military discipline for comfort and order, and one cannot fail to remark the systematic precision which characterizes the performance of their daily duties.
I cannot say all I should like to say in regard to these institutions, but suffice it to say that I found many sympathizing and some old friends among the blind, and was glad to learn that these soldiers, as a class, ranked among the most cultivated inmates.
I cannot close my chapter upon this subject without alluding to the magnanimous generosity of the Milwaukeeans in their donation of one hundred thousand dollars to the National Home Fund, the proceeds of a Sanitary Fair, in which white hands and deft fingers, faithfully and patriotically wrought, for the benefit of the disabled soldiers, and few cities could boast of a nobler donation. I must also allude to the high appreciation in which the Homes are held by foreign dignitaries.
Miss Emily Faithful, the fair amanuensis and confidential friend of Queen Victoria, while visiting America in an official capacity, spent a day in socially visiting and carefully inspecting the Soldiers' Home of Milwaukee. Astonished and entertained she pronounced it the most pleasurable day she had spent in this country.
The Grand Duke Alexis left upon its register the only autograph written in person in a public place, bestowing upon the institution the most extravagant encomiums, both himself and his suite of traveled and titled gentlemen pronouncing it a wonder and a marvel!
The Reverend Doctor Smythe, of Dublin, Ireland, when in attendance upon the Evangelical Alliance, visited the Soldiers' Home of Dayton, Ohio. Examining its magnificent libraries, seventy thousand dollar chapel and its hospital, the finest in the world, he was spell-bound. Going to its music hall and listening to its band, inhaling the perfume of its conservatories, visiting its grottoes, bowers and springs, rowing on its lakes, seeing its aviaries with birds of all varieties of plumage and song, and driving in its parks inhabited by buffalo, elk, antelope and over five hundred deer; he exclaimed with evident fervor, "In the Old Country, libraries, conservatories, bands and parks are for the nobility; in the new world they are for the soldiery." And what nobler compliment could he have paid to our country and its institutions?
"Farewell! a word that must be, and hath been; A sound that makes us linger; yet farewell."
The summer being ended, we visited the friends of Mr. Arms in Wisconsin, after which he went to Grinnell, Iowa, in pursuit of his usual avocation. My own delicate health made it necessary for me to be again winging my way southward. Going to Atlanta, Ga., and making that my headquarters, I visited with marked success all the towns of importance on the various railroad routes diverging from this centre. I then made Macon another headquarters, after which I canvassed the greater part of the State.
The forests were filled with flowering shrubs and trailing vines, the towering trees hung with the wild, weird drapery of the southern moss, and the mocking birds sang their sweet songs from "early morn 'til dewy eve." These scenes "vibrate in memory" with quivering, throbbing power, and come back like odors exhaled from fading flowers or "music when soft voices die."
Selma, Alabama, became my third headquarters, where I boarded with Mrs. Cooke, a lovely woman of the purely southern type, who, before the great conflict, was a millionaire, and was afterward forced for her own support to convert a large mansion into a huge boarding house, which, with its hundred guests, was a cheerful, happy home; permeated as it was by the sunshine she diffused, and lighted by the fairy face of her lovely daughter, who was named for her native State, Alabama.
As in the aboriginal tongue this signifies "here we rest," and it became to us a name deeply fraught with significance, for in this pure untainted heart we found "rest! sweet rest!"
"En route" to Rome I met with my usual good fortune in finding another friend in a lady resident of the country, who fondly urged me to leave the hotel and make my home with her, where she lavished upon me every luxury and kindness. Her husband was the only man in that region of country who voted for Abraham Lincoln; and when General Sherman made his "March to the Sea," she concealed none of her stores or treasures, but went to him and asked protection for her property and home, when a guard was immediately furnished her by the commander.
She afterward married an officer of this guard, in consequence of which she was disowned by her family and associates, but in the noble and sterling qualities of her husband found ample compensation as well as a subsequent reconciliation with friends.
"'Tis a little thing To give a cup of water; yet its draught Of cool refreshment, drained by fervid lips, May give a shock of pleasure to the frame More exquisite than when nectarian juice Renews the life of joy in happiest hours."
In order to reach Montgomery I took passage in one of the high-pressure steamers of the Alabama river, and during the two days and nights of the trip I was surrounded by a throng of sympathizing, interested passengers, whose tender tones and gentle touch was as a cool, refreshing draught to parched lips, a sweet morsel to the tongue, for human hearts ever hunger and thirst for affection. How utterly unendurable would be this life, with its desert wastes and hot siroccos, but for the sweet, verdant spots dotting the sandy sea, whence spring the "fountains of perpetual peace" and issue the healing waters.
These loving ones surrounded me as I sat busily occupied with my bead work, and not only delighted and entertained with their curious questions and familiar chat, but freely bought my books and fifty dollars worth of baskets, while they would doubtless have doubled the amount had not this exhausted my little store.
As we steamed in sight of Montgomery a gentleman came into the cabin and requested me to make for him eight of the handsomest bead baskets before we landed; and, seeing an amused and incredulous smile upon my face, he said: "You work so dexterously and so rapidly that I did not realize that my demand was unreasonable." Explaining to him that it would require eight hours of the closest application to accomplish that amount of work, he apologized and left me. Nor did this specimen of the "genus homo" evince any unusual ignorance of woman's work, whose endless routine and diversified drudgery ofttimes require the patience of a Job and the wisdom of a Solomon. In the labyrinth of domestic entanglement more is needed than the silken clue of Ariadne, and the vexed question of domestic economy requires the unerring skill of the diplomatist, the subtle tact of the politician, and the sure strength of the statesman. The "Poet of Poets" has shown his appreciation of the character and life of woman in the following lines:
From woman's eyes this doctrine I derive; They sparkle still the right Promethean fire; They are the books, the arts, the academies, That show, contain and nourish all the world.
After a pleasant and successful visit to Montgomery we went via the Mobile Railroad to Evergreen, a little town fitly named from its deeply shaded evergreen surroundings. We reached this little hamlet at two o'clock in the morning, and those who are familiar with the cold and penetrating dampness of a southern night, even in mid-summer, could realize our condition and desire for rest and warmth, and know something of our disappointment at finding the one poor little hotel of the town without a vacant room. Seeking the office for a resting place, we found the case equally hopeless, for congregated within its narrow limits were men, women and children, every one of whom was stretched in various attitudes upon the floor, as peacefully enfolded in the arms of Morpheus, and, perchance, as sweetly dreaming as if resting upon beds of down and pillowed upon fine linen and gossamer lace.
Sleep is indeed to such "tired nature's sweet restorer," and to those whose healthy bodies and unambitious natures know no perturbation it is balmy and refreshing.
Turning from the unconscious, slumbering group for one friendly face, we were greeted by Major Lanier, of the Confederate Army, whose manner and tone not only betokened the gentleman, but whose acts of kindness evinced the true and chivalrous heart so characteristic of the southern character. After failing in repeated efforts to find us a room, he gave us his blankets and great coat, and all through the dreary watches of the night fed the fire with wood, which with one hand he chopped, while with the other he fought off the rabid attacks of fierce and barking dogs, which persistently assailed him. Had we been distinguished ladies, or had there been any probability of the gallant major being praised, complimented, or in any way preferred for this act of gallantry, it might have been less appreciated, but it was an act of purely chivalrous courtesy to two strange ladies in humble position, and his only reward was our poor thanks and the approval of his own generous heart. It must have had its comic side, too, to see a major of the regular Confederate service, who had done battle on the field where glory was to be won, groping in the dismal dark of the night and running the risk of being severely hurt, possibly of being killed, by dogs, practicing war with one hand, and dispensing a noble if not an ostentatious charity with the other.
We had been promised the room opening into the office as soon as it was vacated, and at the first streak of coming dawn the Major stationed himself near the door, listening for the slightest sound; and when from the carefully guarded chamber the faintest rustle came he would jocularly exclaim: "Ladies, prospects are brightening!" and so he helped us to while away the weary hours until we secured the promised room and bed, where we rested until noon.