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made expressly for “last day” out of their grandmother's cape, as good as new, and new polka boots, bought a fortnight before, which Trip had taken out of her drawer every day since and held up admiringly with one hand, while the other held a pair of nice little embroidered pantalets above them, thus feasting beforehand on the splendor that should be. When she was dressed, she asked Jack confidentially, did he think she looked as nice as Lina and Cicely and Meg and Olive would look, and Jack would like to see the fellow that could hoe their row with 'Trip and Gerty, sir! Whereat Trip laughed to the very bottom of her silly little heart, and trotted off to school well pleased.
I have not space to tell you how brilliantly successful this last day proved to be, — how the committee and the parents poured in and filled the rooms, and crowded the large scholars into the low seats, and the little scholars into no seats at all; how they read and spelled in loud shouts, and the louder they shouted the better everybody was pleased; what long “sums" they did on the blackboard, what heroic orations they uttered, what magnificent writing-books they showed, all gay with German text, and how the happy parents congratulated themselves and each other on having children so promising. But Trip had a special triumph which I must not fail to record. To be sure she was in high spirits all day, — as who could help being with a new delaine dress and polka boots ? She answered every question which was asked her, read without any failure, and came off conqueror in a discussion with the head
committee-man ; for when a class was reciting from some child's book of philosophy, he tried to puzzle them by asking which would weigh the most, a pound of lead or a pound of feathers ? Some said the lead, but Trip an
VOL. II. — NO. III.
swered decidedly, “Both alike”; and then all the company smiled, Trip was so little.
“And which would fall to the ground soonest, if you should let them drop ?"
“Both alike," said Trip again ; and then they smiled again.
“O no," said the committee-man; “the feathers would float about and be a long while getting down.”
“No they would n't,” persisted Trip eagerly, “if they were tied up just as tight";.- and then everybody laughed outright, the committee-man hardest of all, and Trip was quite frightened at having “spoken right out in meeting."
And after the committee were gone, and the master had made his farewell address and delivered his “rewards of merit,” he called up little Trip and put into her hand two cents, which he said Mr. Church, a strange gentleman who had been present, had desired him to give her. And you can imagine how Jack and Gerty and Trip gloried in it, and how all the children crowded around after school to look at the cents as they lay hot and coppery in her eager little fist.
Then there was great stir and jollity in gathering up their goods and chattels for the three months' vacation. Trip's treasures consisted of a lovely pasteboard horse which Eldred had given her, — Eldred and she were great friends. It had an extraordinarily long tail, and a hardly less wonderful head, and it stood on nothing in a very spirited manner. There was a busk which Nathan had made for her, — Nathan and she were intimate also. You don't know what a busk is? Well, sometimes it is whalebone and sometimes it is n't, and whatever it is, it is of no earthly use. This was one of the is n'ts, for it was made of white-wood polished, and with little figures pricked all over it. There was a ball, India-rubber, with a bright covering, which George gave her, for George and she were on the best of terms; and a medal which Benjamin gave her on this wise. He brought it to school one day and displayed it, black and bulging, with a bright pewter rim, a white log-cabin on one side and a head of Harrison on the other. It went from hand to hand till it got to Trip. “Whose is it?" asked Olive, just coming in. Trip told her, and she immediately rushed to Benjamin to beg him to give it to her. “ It is n't mine," said Benjamin carelessly, sticking his jack-knife into the desk. Olive came back and reported, and just then the master came and school began; and little Trip pondered within herself what it could mean, and shrewdly guessed he meant to give it to her. So as soon as school was done she held it out to him with a beating heart, and he said, “'T is n't mine, it's yours”; and Trip put it into her pocket and never told Olive. And now little Benny sleeps in the China Sea.
If you wish to know why they befriended Trip in so knightly a fashion, I can tell you, I think it was because she would have been in an evil case if she had not been befriended. It was because she was such a ridiculous little puss; because her adventurous and rebellious hair was always blowing about over her sunburnt little face; because she was always running into places where she had no business to be, and took snubbings so sweetly, never even knowing that she was snubbed; because she was perpetually tumbling down on her nose and making it bleed, and tumbling down on her forehead and bumping little black and yellow mounds all over it, and tumbling on the back of her head and being stunned, and pitching under the horses, and bruising her hands, and getting her wrists cut, and setting her clothes on fire, - in short, wherever there was anything going on, especially if it was mischief or danger, therein was Trip sure to poke her pug nose in a manner most trying to Gerty, who acted as surgeon-general, and never had any peace except when Trip was sick, and had to stay at home from school a day. So you see it was very fortunate that the big boys turned their gentle side to her ; for if they had been as merciless as she was to herself, there is no knowing what would have become of her.
The children trooped home from school in military array, — that is, an awkward squad, — the girls chattering in lines six abreast, and the boys circling and circulating about them, and calling out now and then, “ Trip, what 's in your hand ?” “Who's got any money to lend ?” “Trip, are n't you going to treat ?” “Trip, give us an oyster supper, there 's a good girl.” But Trip was not good girl enough for that. She clutched close her two cents, displayed them to her admiring parents, and then put them into her little pitcher, and kept them there till she took them out, and then she lost them.
“Though lost to sight, to memory dear," said Jack, in doubtful consolation.
THE BATTLE-FIELD OF FREDERICKSBURG.
THE railroad bridge over the Rappahannock not having been rebuilt
I since the war, it was necessary to cross to Fredericksburg by another conveyance than the cars. A long line of coaches was in waiting for the train. I climbed the topmost seat of the foremost coach, which was soon leading the rumbling, dusty procession over the hills toward the city.
From a barren summit we obtained a view of Fredericksburg, pleasantly situated on the farther bank of the river. We crossed the brick-colored Rappahannock (not a lovely stream to look upon) by a pontoon bridge, and, ascending the opposite shore, rode through the half-ruined city.
Fredericksburg had not yet begun to recover from the effects of Burnside's shells. Scarcely a house in the burnt portions had been rebuilt. Many houses were entirely destroyed, and only the solitary chimney-stacks remained. Of others, you saw no vestige but broken brick walls, and foundations overgrown with Jamestown-weeds, sumachs, and thistles. Farther up from the river the town had been less badly used; but we passed even there many a dwelling with a broken chimney, and with great awkward holes in
walls and roofs. Some were windowless and deserted; but others had been patched up and rendered inhabitable again. High over the city soar the church-spires, which, standing between two artillery fires on the day of the battle, received the ironical compliments of both. The zinc sheathing of one of these steeples is well riddled and ripped, and the tipsy vane leans at an angle of forty-five degrees from its original perpendicular.
Sitting next me on the stage-top was a vivacious young expressman, who was in the battle, and who volunteered to give me some account of it. No doubt his description was beautifully clear ; but as he spoke only of “our army," without calling it by name, it was long before I could decide which army was meant. Sometimes it seemed to be one, then it was more likely the other; so that, before his account of its movements was ended, my mind was in a delightful state of confusion. A certain delicacy on my part, which was quite superfluous, had prevented me from asking him plainly at first on which side he was fighting. At last, by inference and indirectly, I got at the fact; — “our army” was the Rebel army.
“I am a son of Virginia !” he told me afterwards, his whole manner expressing a proud satisfaction. “I was opposed to secession at first, but afterwards I went into it with my whole heart and soul. Do you want to know what carried me in ? State pride, sir! nothing else in the world. I'd give more for Virginia than for all the rest of the Union put together; and I was bound to go with my State.”
This was spoken with emphasis, and a certain rapture, as a lover might speak of his mistress. I think I never before realized so fully what “State pride” was. In New England and the West, you find very little of it. However deep it may lie in the hearts of the people, it is not their habit to
rant about it. You never hear a Vermonter or an Indianian exclaim, “I believe my State is worth all the rest of the Union !” with excited countenance, lip curved, and eye in fine frenzy rolling. Their patriotism is too large and inclusive to be stopped by narrow State boundaries. Besides, in communities where equality prevails there is little of that peculiar pride which the existence of caste creates. Accustomed to look down upon slaves and poor whites, the aristocratic classes soon learn to believe that they are the people, and that wisdom will die with them.
“I believe," said I, “there is but one State as proud as Virginia, and that is the fiery little State of South Carolina.” :
“I have less respect for South Carolina,” said he, “than for any other State in the Union, South Carolina troops were the worst troops in the Confederate army. It was South Carolina's self-conceit and bluster that caused the war."
(S0, State pride in another State than Virginia was only “self-conceit.") “Yes," said I, “South Carolina began the war; but Virginia carried it on.”
“Virginia,” he replied, with another gleam, his eyes shining with the fine frenzy again, “Virginia made the gallantest fight that ever was; and I am prouder of her to-day than I ever was in my life ! ”
“But you are glad she is back in the Union again ?" “To tell the truth, I am. I think more of the Union, too, than I ever did before. It was a square, stand-up fight; we got beaten, and I suppose it is all for the best."
“What astonishes me,” said I, “after all the Southern people's violent talk about the last ditch, — about carrying on an endless guerilla warfare after their armies were broken up, and fighting in swamps and mountains till the last man was exterminated, — what astonishes me is, that they take so sensible a view of their situation, and accept it so frankly; and that you, a Rebel, and I, a Yankee, are sitting on this stage talking over the bloody business so good-naturedly!”
“Well, it is astonishing, when you think of it! Southern men and Northern men ride together in the trains, and stop at the same hotels, as if we were all one people, -as indeed we are : one nation now," he added, “as we never were before, and never could have been without the war."
I got down at the hotel, washed and brushed away the dust of travel, and went out to the dining-room. There the first thing that met my eye was a pair of large wooden fans, covered with damask cloth, which afforded an ample flap to each, suspended over the table, and set in motion by means of a rope dropped from a pulley by the door. At the end of the rope was a shining negro boy about ten years old, pulling as if it were the rope of a firebell, and the whole town were in flames. The fans swayed to and fro, a fine breeze blew all up and down the table, and not a fly was to be seen. I noticed before long, however, that the little darky's industry was of an intermittent sort; for at times he would cease pulling altogether, until the landlady passed that way, when he would seem to hear the cries of fire again, and once more fall to ringing his silent alarm-bell in the most violent manner.