« السابقةمتابعة »
the contents of another mail-bag into their stomachs.
It is their last opportunity, and much good may it do them!
And now, my little folks, having made my apologies, I will proceed to rewrite for you from memory the last chapter of the history of Pussy Willow. We left off just as the war began, and Emily's brother, and Pussy's brothers, and everybody's brothers, were all marching off to the war. What times those were, to be sure! Was n't everything for a while turned topsy-turvy? Those were days when all who had any capacity in them that was good for anything were sure to find it out, and have it called into use. People who do great things and good things at such times do them because they have been laying up strength beforehand, and training themselves in body and in mind. Then, when the time comes to use their faculties, they have them all ready, and they know just where to find them.
Very soon came the news of battles and skirmishes, and then of precious blood shed. Then of battles that left ever so many of the noblest and most precious of our Northern soldiers wounded and bleeding. Cannot all of you remember how the mothers and daughters and sisters, all over the country, flew to their relief, — how societies were formed, and women worked day and night to send aid to the brave men who were fighting our battles on the field?
Then, had you been in New York, you must have seen the City Park lined along its edges with barracks thrown up to receive the wounded soldiers. Within were long lines of neat beds where the poor fellows lay. There you might have seen a pretty young girl, dressed in deep mourning, who came every day with her little basket on her arm, leaving at many a couch some token of her gentle presence and loving care. This is the girl that was once the idle, selfish Emily Proudie. What is she now? To the poor suffering men whom she visits every day she seems like an angel ; and, as she passes among them, she leaves a bunch of flowers here, an interesting book or pamphlet there. Sometimes there is a little bottle of cologne, or a palm-leaf fan, or a delicate, nicely hemmed handkerchief, - luxuries for the sick-bed of which her kind eye sees the need here and there. Occasionally she will sit for an hour at a time by some poor feverish boy, fanning away the flies, that he may sleep, and perhaps singing a sweet hymn. Once she used to get vast credit for singing French and Italian songs with a great many shakes and trills in them, which it fatigued her very much to learn, and which, when she got through with them, people complimented her for as wonderfully well done. Now she sang some simple airs from a soldier's tune-book ; and when her tender voice rose, it was in words like these :
“Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of
Make all my wants and wishes known." Often, while she was singing, there would be such a stillness all up and down the hospital that you might hear a pin drop, and you might see hard, dark hands brushing away tears quietly; and then the men would speak softly of pious mothers, at whose knees they learned to pray long years ago.
You remember the days when Emily had everybody in the house at her feet, waiting on her, and yet was full of disgust and weariness. In those days her back ached, and her head ached, and everything constantly troubled her; her dresses never were trimmed to suit her, and everything went wrong with her from morning to night.
Now she is a different girl indeed. She wears a plain mourning dress for her dear brother, who was one of the first to lay down his life for his country; but her dress costs her little thought and little care, because her heart is full of sweeter and nobler things. Emily is living no more for self, she is living for others; she has learned the Saviour's beautiful lesson that it is more blessed to give than to receive, and she finds it so. She uses every day all the strength she has, resolutely and systematically, in some good works of charity. Besides going to the hospital, she goes often to the rooms of the Soldiers Aid Society to cut out work, and she takes some home with her, that every hour may be usefully employed. She writes letters for the poor fellows who are too feeble to write for themselves, and tells distant mothers and friends how their beloved ones are doing. Many of Miss Emily's letters are treasured in distant dwellings in the country, where her face has never been seen, because they are all the tidings that remain of some dear one forever lost to earth.
Emily's mamma and aunts declared that the dear child was doing too much, and actually wearing herself out; but Emily found one great secret, and that was, when she had used all her strength in good works, to look humbly to her Father in secret for more, and this strength always came.
“Are n't you afraid, that Emily will wear herself out with visiting the hospitals and working for the soldiers ?” said anxious mamma.
The Doctor gave her a good look through his great round spectacles.
“ I think she 'll stand it,” he said, “ rather better than she used to stand the opera and the German some winters ago.”
“ And if I don't,” said Emily, “ I'd rather wear out than rust out. I have found out what life is good for now.”
As to Pussy Willow, she had a brother who rose to be a General, and had command of a whole State, and she went to the South to keep house for him. One of the largest hospitals in the Southern Department was conducted under her eye and care, and a most capital one it was. She had strength, the result of years of healthy energy, to give to the service of her country She had experience in the use of her hands, and could do everything in the neatest and quickest way; and when a hundred desperately wounded men are brought in at once to be relieved and made comfortable, nobody without experience can tell how important it is to know how to do exactly the right thing in the least time. The nights that Pussy has been up in her hospital kitchen, making soup and gruel and coffee, when the wounded were being brought in after a battle! She moved so quickly that she seemed to be everywhere; she directed everybody and everything, and wherever anything seemed in danger of going wrong, there she was in a trice, and set it right again.
Nobody knows the amount of work done by fair, delicate women in those days. They did not turn aside from any horror, they did not spare themselves any fatigue, they called no service beneath them whereby they could relieve a pain. Among these heroines our Pussy was foremost. Those blue eyes of hers became stars of hope to many a poor fellow, and her ministering hands seemed to have the very gift of healing in them. She overlooked the stores sent by the Sanitary Commission, and saw that they were wisely kept and administered. She wrote to the North for whatever was wanting, and kept her patients well and carefully clothed, fed, tended, and nursed. Many letters passed between her and Emily in this labor of love, and many a nice package of shirts and stockings came down to her from Emily's Fifth Avenue sewing association. So these two girls were united in the service of their country.
And, in this war, it was the women, no less than the men, that saved the country. If there had not been hundreds of thousands of brave women who did as Miss Emily and our Pussy did, thousands of dear and precious lives must have been wasted, and the war could not have come to so glorious an end
Well, peace came at last. How glad we all were ! And all our generals and colonels came North again, and laid aside their titles, and went to work at their farms and merchandise as quietly as though nothing had happened. But the people where Pussy lives still persist in calling her brother General, and his coat with the gold star on it is hung up with his sword in the little cottage where our story began.
As to Pussy, she has married lately, and gone to live in New York. She lives in a nice brown-stone house in Fifth Avenue, not far from Miss Emily, and the two girls are more intimate than ever. People do say that the General, Pussy's brother, is going to marry Miss Emily, and so they will by and by be sisters. I can't say certainly as to that ; I only know that they are a great deal together ; and on the whole, if my young folks will have it so, I guess we will finish up our story that way.
It is agreed that Pussy is always to spend her summers at the old homestead where she first saw the light, where the bright pussy willow bush tassels out early in March under the chamber windows, and the old grandmotherly ferns, with their woolly nightcaps, peep out to see whether it will do to unroll and come up into this upper world.
Pussy is right, for the good fairies dwell in these quiet country places. Do you want to see one, my dear Charlotte or my blue-eyed Mary? Well, the next time you get a chance to look down into a clear spring, or a deep well all fringed with ferns, if the water is very still and clear, perhaps you will see one smiling and looking amiably at you.
Now remember to be a good girl, and live to help other people. Begin by being, as Pussy was, a kind, helpful daughter to your dear mother, who has done more for you than you have any idea of ; and remember that your happiness consists in what you give and what you do, and not in what you receive and have done for you. And now good by.
Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Letter from Aunt Phebe. DEA
You rogue, you! You've frightened us all to pieces with your ghost that was n't a ghost, and your whipping that was n’t a whipping, and your measles that you did n't have. Grandmother may talk, but she's losing her memory. You were red as a beet with 'em. As if I did n't carry you about all night and go to sleep walking !
Grandmother says, “Yes, indeed ! bring Dorry, and let him stay a week if he wants to.” Bless her soul! She 'll always keep her welcome warm, so never mind her memory. And Bubby Short, too. Pray bring Bubby Short. I want to see his black eyes shine. Don't Benjie want to come? I've got beds enough, and girls enough to work, and a great batch of poor mince-pies
that I want eaten up. Don't see how I came to make such a miss in my · pies this baking. Your uncle J. thinks I skinched on plums. There never
was such a man for plums. I do believe if they were put into his biscuits he'd think he'd got no more than his rights.
Your uncle J. says: “Tell the boys to come on. I've got apples to gather, and husking to do.” They 'd better bring some old clothes to wear. This is such a tearing place. I've put my Tommy into jacket and trousers. He