"Why, its a good
tune. You fought for it in 1812."
but things are very different now. Then we were one united people, and an insolent,
arrogant, fanatical section had not attempted" I spare the reader the rest of
the sentence; the fulminations of a sun-burned, sincere, bald-headed, kindly-natured,
simple-hearted, but inveterately prejudiced South Carolinian of sixty would be productive
but of weariness of spirit and waste of space; the imagination may easily supply them.
His niece meanwhile changed her tune to "Yankee
"Thats worse!" he said, irritated;
"for of all the sniveling, nasal, singsong, whining, Yankee, Puritan"
Speech suppressed for previously given reason. "Play Dixie or the
Marseillaise; theyre the tunes for our people now."
"Thats so!" assented a tall, fair-haired
young man, attired in a military uniform of coarse home-spun gray, scantily trimmed with
red worsted, who entered the room, his clanking steel scabbard trailing at his heels;
"you hear em every whar."
"Except over at Moultrie," added his cousin.
"Except over at Moultrie," he admitted,
"and they wont be played tharr long!"speaking with a burr which
proclaimed him from the up country.
"No, indeed!" echoed the old gentleman;
"the honor and dignity of South Carolina demands that, after solemnly voting herself
out of the Union, she shall resume all the privileges of a sovereign State, taking
immediate possession of her property in forts, arsenals, post-office, public"
Suppression as before, in the tenderness to the reader.
"Ill tell the officers so at Captain
F___s party," said the young lady, when her uncle had temporarily exhausted his
"I wish you wouldnt go there," he
answered, pettishly; "F___ is a Yankee, and I dont like him. All these absurd
preparations at the fort are attributed to him, to D___, and their cowardly distrust of
our people. Major Anderson, now, is a Southerner and a gentlemanunderstand
uswe shall have no trouble with him."
"Sis is half abolitionist, I reckon, since she came
back from France and England," said the young volunteer, with a look of mingled
shyness, admiration, and distrust at the brilliant beauty of his cousin.
"Im not!" she exclaimed, with a
flash of Carolinian instinct, for to Southern ears the epithet applied to her always
sounds like a taunt; "but the soldiers are only doing their duty, and if youre
going to attack and murder that brave little garrison for that, I think its a
wicked and cowardly businessthere!"
More platitudes on the part of the old gentleman.
"Grace," he inquired, presently, "have you
accepted for the evening?"
"Who goes with you?"
"Eva, and Clare, and the Doctorand you, if you
Mr. Allen shook his head negatively. "I have a great
respect for the officers at Fort Moultrie," he said, "with a few exceptions, and
wish them (as they probably wish themselves) safely out the false position in which a
treacherous and imbecile government has placed them, but I can not visit Captain F___. You
will do as you please. Only there was a little girl five years ago, who, before she
went to Paris and London to finish her education and returned with French and English
notions about her kinsfolk, wouldnt disobey them in any thing."
"Uncle," the girl remonstrated, "if you
really dont wish me to go, I wont."
"No, no!" he said, good-naturedly, satisfied
with having spoken, "gogo and enjoy yourself, only dont fall in love with
any of the officers!"
Grace reddened so suddenly and deeply at this, that had
not the old gentleman bustled to the window for the purpose of opening it and looking over
the yellow water of Charleston harbor, he must have perceived it. As it was, he only drew
in a deep inspiration of the mild, moist December morning, took his hat, told Grace to
give him a match for his cigar, lit it, and strolled forth into the garden. His nephew
remained. He had observed his cousins discomposure.
"Gracie," he asked, bluntly, "whos
that United States captain who talked with you on board the Osiris, going down to
the island yesterday?"
She told him, blushing deeper than before.
"Hum! Then I think" He commenced
impetuously but broke off, faltering and confused by the sudden concentration of two big,
black, and exceedingly indignant eyes upon his own.
"Mark, if you have any thing to say to me, say it;
but remember that I like to have my own way just as much as you do, and have an equal
right to it!"
"Gracie, Im jealous of that captain. I
suspicioned him from the first!"
Grace laughed, tossed her curls, blushed again, and
"Foolish fellow, what business is it of yours?"
The tall volunteer pulled at his blond mustache and bit it
"Look here," he said, awkwardly, yet with a
certain earnestness and simplicity about his rustic features which seemed to refine them
for the occasion, "Ive ben troying to get you good-will for ever so long,
Gracie, and I do think"
"Then you oughtnt! Youre a very
good fellow, Mark, but we cant be any thing more to each other than cousins, as I
have told you again and again, so dont say a word more about it. Recollect, too,
Im for the Union and Uncle Sam, and dont believe in secession. You ought to
hate me for that!"
"Well, I cant hear it, though I do think it
mean to go back on us and side with the Yankees against old Carolina. But youll know
better when we have whipped emthat is, if they oblige us to do it."
"Mark, I hate to hear you talk so; its as
wicked as it is foolish, and Ill tell you why. When I was a girl here, in
Charleston, I used to think South Carolina the greatest place in the world, and that we
were the finest, and best, and bravest people, just as you do now. So when I went to
France and England I talked and bragged like a perfect goose, and was very mad when they
called me a Yankee, as they do all of us from this side of the water; but I found they
knew nothing about South Carolina (except in connection with slaveryI heard enough
of that of course!), and cared as little. But every body understood that being an
American meant something, and believed we were a great people, even if they didnt
like us. And now here we are trying to pull down all this, and to ruin the country just
because Mr. Lincoln is to be President!"
"Thar wont be any ruin, I reckon. The Yankees
are a no-fight people, and will beck right squarr down when they see theyve go to do
it or fight."
"I dont believe it.
Captainsays" In her eagerness the girl forgot herself, the name escaping
before she was aware of it. Mark Harding simultaneously gave vent to an expression of
anger, which if not an oath was very like one.
"See Hyar!" he said, striding up to her with a
lowering brow, and looking into her conscious, confused, yet resolute face,
"youve said enough now, if I hadnt ben on the right track before. Jest
you tell Captainif he wants you to ware of methats
And he strode, rather melodramatically, from the room, his
long sword clanking at his heels. The girl gazed after him at first defiantly, and then
with a changed aspect leaned her head upon her hand and mused deeply. Presently her eyes
followed the direction of her thoughts; she rose, walked to a window, and looked forth in
the direction of Sullivans Island.
That eveningit was the twenty-sixth of December,
1860the lights of a neat wooden villa not far from the walls of Fort Moultrie shone
out brilliantly into the raw, moist evening, the shadow of graceful and manly forms
flitted across the illuminated casements, and the sound of music, mirth, and laughter
awoke the ordinary quiet echoes of the sandy island. Captain Fof the U. S. A.
the "Yankee" officer disparaged by Graces unclein other words,
a brave and loyal Vermonter, whose known hostility to the designs of the secessionists had
incurred the honor of their hatred, was holding revel in honor of the Christmas time. I
need not say that my heroine made one of the party.
The house, a summer one, like most of its class, has long
windows reaching to the floor, some of which are open for the better ventilation of the
heated rooms. Now and then certain of the guests emerge from the ball-room on to the
wooden piazza. Two of these, after lingering for some time, descend the shallow flight of
steps to a neglected garden, horrent with the green spikes of the tropical-looking Spanish
bayonet, and from thence saunter into and along the sandy road. They are male and female,
the lady small and slight in figure, the gentleman wearing the uniform of a captain in the
United States Army.
"Gracie," he says, tenderly arranging a shawl
about her head and shoulders, and looking lovingly down into the big black eyes. "you
mustnt ask why? Take my word for it and promise."
"That whatever befalls me you will credit me with
having loved you dearly; that nothing shall make you distrust this; that, so long as you
have no reason to doubt my love, fidelity, and honor, you will be true to me, in the faith
that some day you will become mine own dear wife!"
"George, you speak as though some danger were hanging
"You know our position here!" And he shrugged
"Is that all? Is there any thing imminent?"
"We think that Charlestonians are going to attack us. We are pretty sure of it, and
have even some intimation of the time and plan resolved upon. And we shall do our
"The girl clung apprehensively to his arm.
"Its very dreadful," she said, "for Americans to kill Americans;
They had reached the picturesque cluster of palmetto-trees
growing by the road-side, and known as "the Five Indians." Graces
exclamation was caused by a figure emerging from their shadow, striding into the road, and
"Captain __," said Mark Harding, "I want
the favor of just three words with you in private, if you can spare the time."
The Captain looked surprised, exchanged a few words with
his companion, who, apprehensive and indignant, had uttered an exclamation of alarm at her
cousins appearance, and followed his example in stepping a little aside.
"Will you fight?"
Captain ___ slightly elevated his eyebrows at the inquiry,
"I am a soldier, Sir."
"When will you give me a meeting, then?"
"If you have no objection to answering the question,
I should like to know what cause of quarrel you have with me."
"You are a ___ Yankee, and fond of my cousin Grace.
"A sufficient reason! I suspect you ought to
sympathize with me in the latter part of it. Instead of doing so, you want to kill me,
"Unless youll give her up right
"I shall not submit to be dictated to by any body in
such a matter, least of all by a person of your appearance and manners."
"Then youve fot to fight. Im bound to fix
you to that, though I know you Yankeell talk yourselves out of any thing, if you
only get a chance."
"I will fight you whenever you please except now. I
suppose you dont want Miss Allen to be a looker-on?"
"Will you meet me here to-night when the ball breaks
up? Ill wait for you."
"With or without em, just as you please. I can
raise a friend if you want to bring one."
"You know that, as the challenged person, I have the
right to the choice of weapons?"
The young South Carolinian looked puzzled. Like most of
his class he possessed very crude ideas as to the etiquette of the dueled, connecting it
indefinitely with the use of revolvers and bowie-knives. He assented, however.
"I name swords, then, and will endeavor to give you a
lesson which may be of value to you as a soldieras I see you are ambitious of
Mark Harding, of the Marion Guard, Edgefield, South
Carolina, had as little practical acquaintance with the use of the weapon which he wore so
proudly in its clinking steel scabbard as he had with the harpoon or the integral
calculus, but his pluck would have induced his acceptation of a proposition to be tied
hand to hand with his opponent, then to walk over a precipice. So he bowed with as much
dignity as he could muster, and would have strode away if Grace had not called to him
"Well?" he said, ungraciously.
"If you dont retract every word you have been
sayingI know its something quarrelsomeIll never speak to you
The volunteer muttered something to himself, turned on his
heel, and was gone. None the less endeared to each other from what had occurred, and
conversing earnestly, the lovers returned to Captain F ___s Christmas party.
"You cant keep the appointment. Its to be
done to-night, George."
"Immediately. Im free to tell you now that the
hop was only a blind. The men will be in the boats in half an hour. All the
cannontheres only eleven of them pointing toward Sumterare already
spiked and the flag-staff cut down, so that they can never hoist any of their miserable
Secession rags upon it in place of the dear old Stars and Stripes, which, please God,
shall to-morrow defy them from the top of the strongest fort in the harbor. In another
half hour the gun-carriages will be blazing; the Major and I have seen to it ourselves.
You are wanted immediately. Let the blockhead wait, or defer his quarrel with you until
they attack us, if they dare to do it. We have not a moment to lose."
All Charleston was frantic next morning with the news of
the secret evacuation of Fort Moultrie by Major Anderson and his garrison. Then and
throughout the weeks of excitement, of apprehension, of expectation, of chronic alarm,
anger, and vainglory which marked that memorable time, perhaps the most exasperated in the
rebellious city was Mark Harding.
Three weeks afterward the columns of a New York newspaper
contained the following paragraph in a letter from its Charleston correspondent:
"At last, dearest!"
"At last! I feared I should never see you
"And I, too, for all the long, dreary weeks, and
particularly at the close of them. It was really pretty artillery practice on both sides,
I assure you. Do you know that amiable cousin of yours was exceedingly energetic during
the attack? I understand he wanted to head a storming party in a steamer or open boat, in
which case we should have been obliged to have blown both him and his enterprising friends
out of the water. I am glad the necessity wasnt forced upon us, for I shouldnt
like to shed blood akin to that which flows in your veins, Grace. I have no doubt
he was actuated by feelings of personal hostility toward one particular cowardly
Yankee, who disappointed him by not keeping a certain nocturnal appointment on
"Foolish Mark! he talked horridly about it, and made
my life miserable, until I was almost glad when they sent me away."
"He was a member of the Vigilance Committee, and
though very angry, seemed as wretched as myself. He loves me so, that I think he would
like to be here too, if it werent for deserting South Carolina, as hed call
"Im sorry hes not here to give you away,
"Dearest, you are all alone in the world now; I love
you best of any thing in it, and claim you for that loves sake. I shall be ordered
on duty in a fortnightlet me leave a wife behind to pray for me! Our dear old Doctor
is here, you know, and you owe him a job for getting him expatriated. I dare say Miss Eva
and Clare will look very pretty as bridesmaids!"
We are in the debatable land between the two armies in
Virginia, near the outskirts of the rebel camp. It is a calm, moonlight night in autumn,
and the "sweet regent of the sky: sails aloft in unclouded splendor, silvering with
her pure effulgence, or hiding in broad deep shadows, the hideous features of devastation
which war has stamped upon the once beautiful landscape. The doorless, windowless, and
dismantled farm-housesthe blackened remains of those which have been destroyed by
firethe fenceless and trampled gardens and fields, all scored with unaccustomed
wheel-tracks and footprints of men and horsesthe fetid water-pools in the
highwaysthe deep wagon-rutsthe carcasses of steeds, which lie putrefying by
the road-side, no longer intrude themselves upon the sickened attention, as during the
garish day. Yet the scene is otherwise than peaceful. From the woody covert of a little
copse bordering a field of maize, which has been trodden into a miry jungle of rotting
corn-stalks, comes the scattering report of musketry, the sharp crack of the rifle and the
sudden, continuos snap of the revolver. One of those frequent, bloody, nameless skirmishes
characterizing the present war is in progress, having originated in the surprisal and
attack upon a posse of rebel troops by a daring little party of United States riflemen.
Hotly the ground is contested, inch by inch, but the alarm
has been communicated to the Union troops in the rear, and dreading the arrival of
reinforcements, the rebels are compelled to retreat, half of their number having already
bit the dust. The fight slackens until it is a mere duel between a few desperate men who
resist ineffectually, apparently preferring death or captivity to flight.
One of these, a tall, muscular young fellow, with fair
hair and blond mustaches, after defending himself with more fury than skill with a long
cavalry sabre, finds it shivered in his grasp by the blow of a musket, and himself borne
to the ground with a bayonet thrust through his sword-arm into his side.
"Dont kill him, Rob!" cries the officer in
command of the Union party, as the soldier is about to repeat his thrust with fatal
intent. "Yield yourself our prisoner, Sir, and you life shall be spared."
The officer chances to be bareheaded, his hat having been
lost in the mêlée, and the moonlight strikes full upon his countenance. And Mark
Harding, with an oath of recognition and hatred, despite his wounded sword-arm, draws his
revolver and fires its two remaining charges at his preserverfires and misses.
"Bayonet him!" is the cry, and a storm of
execration and rage rises round the wounded Carolinian. It is with no small difficulty,
and the promptest enforcement of his authority, both by voice and gesture, that the
officer can save the justly-forfeited life if his intended murderer.
"You would have slain me," he said; "now
see how a Yankee will revenge himself on one who has no title to his mercy beyond his
relationship to her who was Grace Allen! You are our prisoner, but your hurt shall be seen
to as soon as possible, and I will do all I can toward effecting your liberty by procuring
your exchange for one of our men. Fight against us again, if you will; but remember the
lesson of to-night. Boys, let us go back to the camp."