|CHAPTER X1V. -- Old Friends.|
IN order to introduce a pleasant chapter of my life, I must take a slight retrospective glance. Mrs. Ann Garland, the mistress from whom I purchased my freedom in St. Louis, had five daughters, all lovely, attractive girls. I used to take pride in dressing the two eldest, Miss Mary and Miss Carrie, for parties. Though the family labored under pecuniary embarrassment, I worked for these two young girls, and they were always able to present a good appearance in society. They were much admired, and both
"Why, Lizzie, how can you have a kind thought for those who inflicted a terrible wrong upon you by keeping you in bondage?" they would ask.
"You forget the past is dear to every one, for to the past belongs that golden period, the days of childhood. The past is a mirror that reflects the chief incidents of my life. To surrender it is to surrender the greatest part of my existence -- early impressions, friends, and the graves of my father, my mother, and my son. These people
"But they have forgotten you. They are too selfish to give a single thought to you, now that you no longer are their slave."
"Perhaps so, but I cannot believe it. You do not know the Southern people as well as I do -- how warm is the attachment between master and slave."
"My Northern friends could not understand the feeling, therefore explanation was next to useless. They would listen with impatience, and remark at the close, with a shrung of the shoulders, "You have some strange notions, Lizzie."
In the fall of 1865 a lady called on me at my apartments in Washington. Her face looked familiar, but I could not place her. When I entered the room, she came towards me eagerly: "You are surprised to see me, I know. I am
I was more bewildered than ever.
"Cousin Ann! Pardon me--" "Oh, I see you do not recognize me. I am Mrs. General Longstreet, but you knew me when a girl as Bettie Garland."
"Bettie Garland! And is this indeed you? I am so glad to see you. Where does Miss Ann live now?" I always called my last mistress, Miss Ann.
"Ah! I thought you could not forget old friends. Cousin Ann is living in Lynchburg. All the family are in Virginia. They moved to the old State during the war. Fannie is dead. Nannie has grown into a woman and is married to General Meem. Hugh was killed in the war, and now only Spot, Maggie, and Nannie are left."
"Fannie, dead! and poor Hugh! You bring sad news as well as pleasant. And so my little pet is married? I can hardly believe it; she was only a child when I saw her last."
"Yes, Nannie is married to a noble man. General Meem belongs to one of the best families in Virginia. They are now living at Rude's Hill, up beyond Winchester, in the Shenandoah Valley. All of them want to see you very badly."
"I should be delighted to go to them. Miss Bettie, I can hardly realize that you are the wife of General Longstreet; and just think, you are now sitting in the very chair and the very room where Mrs. Lincoln has often sat!"
She laughed: "The change is a great one, Lizzie; we little dream to-day what to-morrow will bring forth. Well, we must take a philosophical view of life. After fighting so long against the Yankees, General Longstreet is now in Washington, sueing for pardon, and we propose to live in peace with the United States again."
I had many questions to ask her about old friends, and the time passed rapidly. She greeted me with the frankness that she had always extended to me, and I was transported to days of the long-ago. Her stay in Washington was brief, as the General arranged his business, and they left the capital the next day.
Mrs. Longstreet gave me the Garlands' address, and I wrote to them, expressing the hope that I would be able to see them, before long. In reply came letters full of tender sympathy and affection. In the winter of 1865, Miss Nannie wrote to me that she had the best husband in the world; that they designed going to housekeeping in the spring, and that they would be glad to have me make them a visit in July, 1866. She sent me a pressing invitation. "You must come to me, dear Lizzie," she wrote. "We are now living at Rude's Hill. I am dying to see you. Ma, Maggie, Spot, and Minnie, sister Mary's child, are with me, and you only are needed to
I was anxious to go myself, and when I received the urgent invitation I concluded to go at once, and I wrote them to expect me in August. On the 10th of August I left Washington for Virginia, taking the train for Harper's Ferry. The journey was attended with several disappointments. We arrived at Harper's Ferry in the night, and being asleep at the time, I was carried to the station beyond, where I had to wait and take the return train. After returning to Harper's Ferry, where I changed cars for Winchester, I missed the train, and was detained another day. From Winchester the only way to reach Rude's Hill was by a line of stages. We commenced the weary drive in the evening, and rode all night. A young gentleman in the stage said that he knew General Meem well, and that he would tell me when we reached the place. Replying upon him, I went
"Aunty, don't you want to get out at Rude's Hill?"
I started up, rubbing my eyes. "Yes. Are we there?"
"More than there. We have passed it."
"Yes. It is six miles back. You should not sleep so soundly, Aunty."
"Why did you not tell me sooner? I am so anxious to be there."
"Fact is, I forgot it. Never mind. Get out at this village, and you can find conveyance back."
The village, New Market, was in a dilapidated condition; everything about it spoke plainly of the sad destruction of war. Getting out of the stage I went into a house, by courtesy named a hotel, where I obtained a cup of coffee.
"Is there no conveyance from here to Rude's Hill?" I asked.
"Yes; the stage returns this evening," answered the landlord.
"This evening! I want to go as soon as possible. I should die if I had to stay all day in this lonely place."
A colored man behind the bar, seeing how earnest I was, came forward, and informed me that he would drive me over to General Meem's place in an hour. This was joyful news, and I urged him to get ready to start as soon as possible.
While standing in the door of the hotel, impatiently waiting for my colored friend to drive round with his little wagon, a fat old lady waddled across the street and greeted me.
"Ain't you Lizzie?"
"Yes,"I answered, surprised that she should know my name.
"I thought so. They have been expecting you
"Thank you. It is pleasant to know that I am expected. I fell asleep in the stage, and failed to see the light, so am here instead of at Rude's Hill."
Just then the colored man drove up with the wagon, and I got in with him, and was soon on the road to General Meem's country-seat.
As we drove up to Rude's Hill, I observed a young man standing in the yard, and believing it to be Spot, whom I had not seen for eight years, I beckoned to him. With an exclamation of joy, he came running towards me. His movements
"Lizzie, you are not changed a bit. You look as young as when you left us in St. Louis, years
"Here, Lizzie, this is Minnie, Minnie Pappan, sister Mary's child. Hasn't she grown?" and Miss Maggie led a tall, queenly lady up to me.
"Minnie! Poor dear Miss Mary's child! I can hardly believe it. She was only a baby when I saw her last. It makes me feel old to see how large she has grown. Miss Minnie, you are larger than your mother was--your dear mother whom I held in my arms when she died;" and I brushed a tear from each of my eyes.
"Have you had your breakfast, Lizzie?" asked Mrs. Garland.
"No, she has not," exclaimed her children in a chorus. "I will get her breakfast for her," and Nannie, Maggie, and Minnie started for the kitchen.
"It is not necessary that all should go," said Mrs. Garland. "Here is the cook, she will get breakfast ready."
But the three did not heed her. All rushed to the kitchen, and soon brought me a nice hot breakfast.
While I was eating, the cook remarked: "I declare, I nebber did see people carry on so. Wonder if I should go off and stay two or three years, if all ob you wud hug and kiss me so when I cum back?"
After I had finished my breakfast, General Meem came in. He greeted me warmly. "Lizzie, I am very glad to see you. I feel that you are an old acquaintance, I have heard so much of you through my wife, her sister, and her mother. Welcome to Rude's Hill."
I was much pleased with his appearance, and closer acquaintance proved him to be a model gentleman.
Rude's Hill, during the war, was once occupied by General Stonewall Jackson for his head-quarters, which gave more than ordinary interest to the place. The location was delightful, but the
It did not take me long to discover that I was
Colonel Harry Gilmore, well known as a partisan leader in Maryland and Virginia during the war, was a frequent visitor at Mount Airy and Rude's Hill. One day I accompanied a party to a tournament, and General Meem laughed pleasantly over the change that had come to me in so short a time.
"Why, Lizzie, you are riding with Colonel Gilmore. Just think of the change from Lincoln to Gilmore! It sounds like a dream. But then the change is an evidence of the peaceful feeling of this country; a change, I trust, that augurs brighter days for us all."
I had many long talks with Mrs. Garland, in one of which I asked what had become of the only sister of my mother, formerly maid to Mrs. G.'s. mother.
"She is dead, Lizzie. Has been dead for some years. A maid in the old time meant something different from what we understand by a maid at the present time. Your aunt used to scrub the floor and milk a cow now and then, as well as attend to the orders of my mother. My mother was severe with her slaves in some respects, but then her heart was full of kindness. She had your aunt punished one day, and not liking her sorrowful look, she made two extravagant promises in order to effect a reconciliation, both of which were accepted. On condition that her maid would look cheerful, and be good and friendly with her, the mistress told her she might go to church the following Sunday, and that she would give her a silk dress to wear on the occasion. Now my mother had but one silk dress in the world, silk not being so plenty in those days as it is now, and yet she gave this dress to her maid to make friends with her. Two weeks afterward mother was sent for to spend the day at a neigh-
We laughed over the incident, when Mrs. Garland said: "Lizzie, during the entire was I used to think of you every day, and have longed to see you so much. When we heard you were with Mrs. Lincoln, the people used to tell me that I was foolish to think of ever seeing you again--that your head must be completely turned. But I knew your heart, and could not believe that you would forget us. I always argued that you would come and see us some day."
"You judged me rightly, Miss Ann. How could I forget you whom I had grown up with from infancy. Northern people used to tell me that you would forget me, but I told them I knew better, and hoped on."
"Ah! love is too strong to be blown away like gossamer threads. The chain is strong enough to bind life even to the world beyond the grave. Do you always feel kindly towards me, Lizzie?" "To tell you candidly, Miss Ann, I have but one unkind thought, and that is, that you did not give me the advantages of a good education. What I have learned has been the study of after years."
"You are right. I did not look at things then as I do now. I have always regretted that you were not educated when a girl. But you have not suffered much on this score, since you get along in the world better than we who enjoyed every educational advantage in childhood."
I remained five weeks at Rude's Hill, and
After remaining in Baltimore a few days, I came to the conclusion that I could do better in Washington; so I returned to the capital, and re-opened my business.
In the spring of 1867, Miss Maggie Garland paid a visit to Baltimore. Before leaving Virginia she said to some of her friends in Lynchburg
"I love Lizzie next to mother. She has been a mother to us all. Half the pleasure of my visit is that I will be able to see her."
She wrote me a letter, saying that she designed visiting me, asking if it would be agreeable. I replied, "Yes, come by all means. I shall be so glad to see you."
She came and stayed at my rooms, and expressed surprise to find me so comfortably fixed.
I cannot do better than conclude this chapter with two letters from my dear young friends, the first from Mrs. General Meem, and the second from Miss Maggie Garland. These letters show the goodness of their hearts and the frankness of their natures. I trust that they will not object to the publicity that I give them:
"Rude's Hill , Sept. 14, 1867.
"My Dear Lizzie :--I am nearly ashamed of myself for neglecting to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, and the very acceptable box of patterns, some weeks ago; but you will pardon my remissness, I know, for you can imagine what a busy time I've had all summer, with a house full of company most of the time, and with very inefficient servants, and in some departments none at all; so I have had to be at times diningroom servant, house-maid, and the last and most difficult, dairy-maid. But I have turned that department over to our gardener, who, though as green at the business as myself, seems willing to learn, and has been doing the milking all summer. These are a few of the reasons why I have not written to you before, for I hope you will always believe that you occupy a large place in my memory and affection, whether I write to you or not; and such a poor correspondent as yourself ought not to complain. Mother, Mag, Uncle
I have somehow made out a long letter, though there is not much in it, and I hope you will do the same before long. All send love.
"Yours affectionately, "N. R. G. Meem.
"My pen and ink are both so wretched that I fear you will find some difficulty in making out this scratch; but put on your specks, and what you can't read, just guess at. I enclose a very poor likeness of Hugh taken last spring; don't show it to anybody, for I assure you there is scarcely the faintest resemblance to him now in it.
"N. R. G. M."
I give only a few extracts from the pleasant letter from Miss Maggie Garland. The reader will observe that she signs herself, "Your child, Mag," an expression of love warmly appreciated by me:
"Seddes, Dec. 17, 1867.
"So many months have passed, my dear Lizzie, since I was cheered by a sight of your welcome handwriting, that I must find out what is the matter, and see if I can't persuade you to write me a few lines. Whatever comes, 'weal or woe,' you know I shall always love you, and I have no idea of letting you forget me; so just make up your mind to write me a nice long letter, and tell me what you are doing with yourself this cold weather. I am buried in the wilds of Amherst, and the cold, chilling blasts of December come whistling around, and tell us plainly that the reign of the snow-king has begun in good earnest. Since October I have been teaching for my cousin, Mr. Claiborne, and although I am very happy, and every one is so kind to me, I shall not be sorry when the day comes when I shall shut up school-books forever. None of 'Miss Ann's' children were cut out for 'schoolmarms,' were they, Yiddie? I am sure I was only
"Your child Mag .
"Please write, for I long to hear from you."