The Story of a Canadian in the American Civil War
A. C. Allenson
Who wrote “June Comes Back," “Danton of the Fleet," etc.
CONTINUED FROM LAST ISSUE
THAT spring morning, when I ran my boat ashore, Annie was in the field over yonder, that reaches down to the edge of the lake. She was ploughing with the pair of horses she owned. The neighbors were shocked she should do such work, but it made no difference to her. There was nothing ignoble about it. She had no money to pay for help. She was much too independent to accept charity, even in the form of labor, or let any man establish himself in the relation of creditor to her.
Well—to come back to the main road of my story—I wanted to find Annie, that spring morning, to give her some of my fish, for, as I have told you, I was in love wjih her like the rest. In a way, I guess, 1 was luckiest of all, for sometimes she’d kiss me, in the impulsive way she had, and that’s what she did to none of the others, I don’t think even Peter. Often she would tell me her troubles,
when she was especially downhearted, and she used to say I was the only comfort she had, and I would laugh at her, and she would laugh back and box my ^ears.
C^he didn’t see me coming, for the bush at the edge of the field hid me till I got quite near. She had stopped at the turn of the furrow to rest the horses and herself, and she stood there, looking over the lake, seeming graver and more troubled than ever I had seen her. I guessed it was something about money, because I / had heard at home that Dransfield was C talking of trouble. And yet I thought she \ had never looked prettier. She seemed \taller than ordinary. The pink hood she wore had been pushed back from her head thaFshe might catch the breeze from the water.
When she saw me, the smile chased the gravity from her fàce, and when I gave her the fish, that I had wrapped carefully
in grass and green leaves, she bent down and kissed me on the forehead.
“The best of little sweethearts!” she
“And the luckiest!” We both turned, and there stood grave, handsome Peter.
“You didn’t bring me a dish of fish,” she laughed.
“I’ll Ko at once and get them,” he said.
“You are too late, Mr. Grant, I have all I can use here,” she replied, the fkin sparkling in her eyes. “But you two idling folk must not keep me from my work.” And she gave a chirrup and whistle to the dozing horses, and turned to the plough.
“No,” said Peter. “I will finish the ploughing.”
"Indeed, you won’t,” she flashed back. “I have no money for the hire of men.”
“Then you must let me do it,” he said, looking straight into her eyes, “as you let C harlie bring his present of fish—just for love.”
The crimson flooded her face. Her eyes fell for a moment, then she looked at him.
“No, Peter, 1 had rather you would not,” she said. “What would the people say?”
“What care we of the people’s talk, so long as what is done is right?” he replied. “It is no woman’s work, Annie. I will be hurt, sorely hurt, if you will not let me do this small service.
I CAN hear still the Scottish roll of the “r” in his speech. It sounded crisp, strong, decisive. I half expected some smart refusal from Annie, for she was wonderfully independent and highspirited; but a tenderness was in her face, and she let him take the lines from her hands.
He stripped coat, collar, and vest, folded them in his neat way, laid his hat on them and then rolled up his sleeves, showing the mighty arms.
“I am grateful to you, Annie," he said in a low voice. Then he set the horses
“My, Annie! He’s a grand ploughman!” I exclaimed, as we watched the deep, even furrow laid shinihgly over, like unrolled ribbon.
“He’s grand, Charlie boy, whatever he does.” she answered in a soft, sweet voice. I looked up at her, and in that moment I knew that she would not wait for me till I had grown up, as die had sometimes jokingly said she would. I didn’t hate Peter, either, as I would have hated any other man, I think, under like conditions.
THAT evening she came over the lake to see father, who was adviser to most of the folks in their difficulties. She told him that Dransfield had notified her that arrears and an instalment were about to come due, and must be paid at the end of June, or he would have to foreclose and sell the place.
“And sold by sheriff it will fetch little or nothing,” she said. “It will just drop back into Mr. Dransfield’s hands, for the amount of his claim. All father’s labor and time, the money we have put into it, and his very life, all spent for nought!” “Lacking a man there, Annie, you can never win clear,” said father. “You will but sink deeper and deeper into the mire, and harass yourself until life will scarce be worth the living. It is your home, and you dearly love the place, I know, but you are a sensible girl, not afraid to look at facts straight.”
“Lacking a man and lack the farm, or take the man and keep the farm! Faith, Mr. Bateman! It’s in lacking the farm the gain will be I am thinking.” And she laughed in her merry Irish way, despite her troubles.
“But I thought-,” began father.
“I’ve got pretty good eyes, Annie, and— well, Peter would succeed whatever he put his hand to.”
“And would it be for me to lay my little troubles on his shoulders, and turn him aside from his work?” she asked. “If I did, I would feel, the rest of my days, that I had played Delilah to his Samson. If I can’t help. I’ll see that I don’t hinder him. Many’s the place where I can earn my living, only it takes a wee bit of courage to cut the old ties that father and mother and I have been weaving all these years. But there! Peter is going away soon, and the place will seem different anyway.”
“I hadn’t heard of that,” father answered her.
“No, he suddenly made up his mind. There are openings for smart men in the big cities, and he would only rust here. Mr. Dransfield has been talking much to him these days, telling him, I guess, about the chances there, and so he is going. I am glad, for he will be a man among men in the big world, as he has been in the smaller one here.”
It was a disappointment to everybody when the news became public that Peter was leaving. He was a clever teacher. The children had made wonderful progress the little time he had been with us, and we were, in an odd way, proud of him as scholar and gentleman. By the end of May he was away. Annie told us he was in New York City, and that she was getting letters from him, cheering, heartening messages, that strengthened her during the days of loneliness and trouble.
JUNE was drawing to a close. Annie now had made up her mind to the seemingly inevitable, though the surrender was hard to make. To a woman, proud of her home and the independence it gave her, cherishing the memories that clustered about it, to be driven away seemed like being cast adrift on a shoreless sea.
It was late one afternoon that I saw her boat skimming over the lake, and a few minutes later she came flying into -the house with her wonderful tidings.
“Oh, Mr. Bateman!” she cried. “The fortune has come! The fortune has come!” And she drew a letter from her bosom, and thrust it into father’s hand.
“The fortune, Annie?” he said, puzzled for the moment. Then he recalled the stories, old as her father’s time, of th^ money that would come to them one day, when the property in the old land was sold The letter was from an Irish bank, enclosing a draft for fifteen hundred dollars, as per instructions from a named firm of lawyers, from whom—the letter said — she would, hear, in due course. There was the draft, good as gold, and her name—Annie Harland—on the precious slip of paper.
“It is wonderful. Annie,” said mother, embracing the happy girl. “The hand of the Lord is in it. In the very hour of . your great necessity, deliverance has been wrought for you.”
FATHER, mother, Annie and I went off to Quebec together in the finest spirits. The three of us could not have been half as delighted had the little fortune come to the Batemans. When we got back with the money. Dransfield was in the Settlement already, waiting to pounce, as soon as he could get the lawyers to work. He was very spiteful and bitter toward her because of her rejection of his advances. When he knew he was to be paid he seemed surprised and not over pleased, and was more than a little curious to learn whence it had come.
“The fortune;” he laughed in his sneering way when he was told. “Maybe the draft won’t bring you the luck you fancy.” We put it down to his jealousy and disappointment, and were too happy over Annie’s luck in getting rid or him to bother about what he thought or said. Father made a dicker with him over the remainder of the notes, and the end of it was he was paid off to the last eent. When everything was squared up, there was
better than five hundred dollars to the
You may be sure she wrote Peter about the great news. It was only later we heard she had sent five hundred dollars with her letter, to help him dlong with his college plans. The money came back, however, with a letter telli rg her that, had hé been in need, he woul I surely have accepted it from her, and that, if he should want it later, he wo ild tell her ; but he was doing well, and had all the money he required. She was disappointed at first, but the goo I news, and his promise to ask if he ne ded money, gave her great comfort. ï e bade her spend some of the money hir ng help for the heavier work at plcñtghh g and harvest times, and there was a ot more of tender, loving counsel and a [vice. She read little bits of it to moth« r, and was very happy about it.
AND ALL the time the newi of the war over the line was growinf worse and
worse. In July of ’63 came t »e terrible tidings of Gettysburg, where ifty thousand Americans died in that fa irful thsee days’ battle. You remember Lincoln’s great speech, delivered ©a the in November of the same year. It to us to-day with a newer, fullo ’ meaning as we recall our own losses in t te present more terrible war, and our purpose to wage it to the end : “That weh« highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain ; that this nation, u »der God, shall have a new birth of fre« lorn, and that the government of the peoj le, by the people, and for the* people, shall i iot perish from toe earth.” '
Chickamauga. Lookout Mount lin. Missionary Ridge, the Wilderness. Spottsylvanie, Cold Harbor, Sheridan’s devastation of thé Shenandoah Valley, S lérman’s terrible march through Georgi i—these, and manv other names and eve its filled the minds of all during those .epochal days. There were periods whei Peter’s letters, to Annie came along at loi ig intervals, but communications were i lot good in those days, and gaps of seeks or months were not unusual. One da r father had to go down to New York on 1 usiness.
“You’ll be sure to see Peter, M r. Bateman.” said Annie, giving him a le ter aad some little present she had made for her
“I certainly will,” he answered. “Bring him back if I can, eh? I dont kn >w if it is kindness to see him. It will onl y make his heart ache the more.” She 1 aughed and shook her head. 3
“He will come without any bi inging. I’m thinking, when his task is dot e,” she' said. “You will tell him I am we l. very happy, that the farm is doing fine y, and that I shall hire harvest-help, as 1 e bnde me.” I
“And nothing nuire?” father jok' 4* “Nothing more,” she smiledS^T. ill the rest he well knows.” \
FATHER was away much longei we had anticipated. It was nen month before he got back. Late one ing he reached home, driving down Sherbrooke. He was very tiret weary. The heat in New Ytnfc August of *64 had been very tryir 1 had lots of questions to ask him abot t the
Continued on page 64
than rly a evenfrom and that
Continued from page 41.
big city, and the war, but he was not his usual cheery, chatty self.
“You saw Peter Grant?” asked mother as we sat at table.
“No, I did not see him,” hfe replied. “He was not io New York. I went to his address, and found it was the home of a distant relative of his. There I learned that Peter had joined the Union Army, and was with General Grant in the advance on Richmond. He did not wish Aflnie to know he was a soldier, and his letters were just forwarded from New York.”
The news was startling, stunning. I thought what a grand soldier Peter would make, and pictured him in the blue uniform.
“He is safe and well?” asked mother, fearing, because of what she read in father’s face.
“The last heard of him was that he had been in the Wilderness battles in May,” he answered. “A month later his regiment was cut to pieces in an attack on Lee’s entrenchments at Cold Harbor. The Union troops were repulsed, losing eight thousand men in twenty minutes. It is feared he perished in that fearful slaughter.”
“Poor,* poor, dear Annie!” sobbed mother, the tears falling fast.
WE ROSE sadly in the morning to face the day’s heavy task. While we were at breakfast we saw her boat coming swiftly across, as it haçl come daily for the week past, to see if father were back. She knew something was wrong as soon as she saw him. She leaned back against the wall, the color
fading from her face, her hand on her breast.
“Tell me! Tell me!” she whispered. “You have ill news for me—of Peter?”
Mother folded her arms about the girl, trying to comfort her, while father told the evil tidings.
“Why? Why?” she cried. “He was not an American.”
“There are ‘many Canadians with the NortI}, dear,” said father very gently.
She stared at him for some moments, without speaking, then the truth came swiftly to her, in all its fulness of terrible detail. She gently put mother aside.
“The money! That awful fortune! The draft!” she moaned. “It was not the fortune that came. It was the price of my man’s life. He sold himself—to death —for me—for me!” A strange icy calm had come over her, more terrible than the wildest passion. “Tell me!” she said. “Tell me everything.”
“He was paid fifteen hundred dollars to take a drafted man’s place. The man was Dransfield,” said father.
“Dransfield! A man like my Peter to die for such as he,” she moaned in agony of soul.
\\T E TRIED to keep her but she would ▼▼ not stay. I could not bear the thought of her all alone in that quiet house of memories—the place that had cost her father’s life, and now that of her lover. So I, followed her over, after a little time. She was sitting in the parlor, at the little round table, her head on her arms. I was afraid to go in, now that I had come, thinking she might wish to be
alone, but she had heard me. and looked up.
“I came to see if I could help you in anyway, Annie,” I said. Then as I looked at the hopeless face, I felt that I .must comfort her in some way.
“I don’t believe Peter’s dead,” I declared with a confidence I did not feel.
“You don’t believe---she said, then
“No, I don’t, and I won't,’’ I asserted.
, “I believe if he was dead, you would have known it. He loved you so dear, Annie, that his spirit would have come to comfort you in your lone sorrow.”
“Loved me dear!” she cried. “So dear, as to go down to death that I might be saved from sorrow and unhappiness, as he thought. Oh!" She rose to her feet. “I hate the house, and the farm, and most of all I hate myself. If I hadn't been so wilful, so selfish, wanting to keep the place! And now I have the place, bought with blood, the blood of my best and dearest: But you don’t-think he’s dead, Char-
lie? God bless you for the tiny ray of hope you bring me.” And for the first time since the ill news came she began to weep.
AND THE weeks and months went by.
She seemed like a tall, fair lily. Folks wondered that she wore no black, and was so silent over her grief. Sometimes she would whisper to me when we were alone:
“I haven’t seen his spirit yet, Charlie!” And it gave her hope. Winter fell, a hard, bitter season. Most days I walked over the ice to see her, and often she came to the house. One day, just after the turn of the year, she seemed brighter, happier.
“I haven’t seen his spirit yet,” she said to me, “but last night I heard him call. It was plain as plain could be. I was sitting in the parlor, and so clear was the voice that I ran to the door, and looked out into the white, frosty moonlight, and called back, but he did not come. I know he’s alive, somewhere.”
She was so confident that mother was the more anxious about her, fearing the girl’s mind was giving way under the load. She begged Annie to stay a few days with us, but she would not. He might be out there, in the frosty night, calling her again, and she must be there to answer.”
And spring came again, bringing the news of the fall of Richmond, and Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. The war was over. Peace had come.
A FEW days later I went over to the Harland place. The house was locked up. A lad from a neighbor’s farm was in the stable, and he told me Annie had taken a long journey and had hired him to care for the stock while she was away. There was a note for father, and one for me left with the lad. They told us she had gone to New York. She had heard him call again, and he needed her. He was hurt and weak and helpless and longed for her so much, so she must go. First she would seek New York, where his relatives were, and, if unsuccessful there, she would go elsewhere, searching until she found him. We were terribly anxious, and father wrote to Peter’s friends, and fdund that she had reached them, and had gone South on her search.
"Spring drew on to sommer, and one evening we were sitting on the verandah
of the old house, just where we are sitting now, when we heard a team rattle into the yard. We went round to see who it might be, and there was Annie, helping down a tall, thin, very weak man, across whose face was a wide slash, just healed. As he walked, leaning heavily on her strong young arm, his left leg dragged pitifully. It was not easy at first glance, to recognize the stalwart, handsome Highlander in the lame-scarred wreck that had come back.
But the roses had returned to Annie’s cheeks, there were smiles again on her lips, her eyes were softer, deeper than before. And she told of her search, and the finding of Peter at last in a sweltering Southern prison hospital, too weak to take the liberty that had come.
“Annie Harland, you wonderful girl!” cried mother.
“Annie Grant, Mrs. Bateman, please,” she answered with a smiling bow.
We wanted .them to stay, but they
longed for their own home, the dearly purchased house on the lakeside. Mine was the honor of rowing them across. I can sçe them now, walking in an eveninglight, such as this, over the trim little grass plot, his arm about her, and her’s round him, and the poor, crippled leg, dragging as he went.
ATER they sold the place and went away. Annie never cared for it again, knowing the awful price it had cost. Peter was ordained, and called to a Church in the west. Five years ago he brought Annie back. She lies yonder on the hillside, in the maple-fringed cemetery. And when he brought hen, he stayed here. There were always just the two of them. They never had any children. His errand to-night was to her graveside. Summer or winter, rain or shine, he goes. He will stay here waiting, until the day dawns when Annie comes seeking him again, to guide him home.