Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE REBEL SURGEON.

THE 'Louisiana Rifles' was considered own, 'I jess wish massa Doctor would to be the finest regiment, among all the take this obstrepulous beast; he bite my Southern troops, at the rendezvous at head off done sure.' Mobile. It was composed mostly of men The Doctor stopped in his walk, looked of French descent, and officered by the at the setting sun, and then glanced at sons of planters who belonged to the old his watch. Throwing away his cigar, French families of Louisiana. They he approached the darkey, and taking wore the uniform of the imperial chas- the bridle from him, said : seurs of Napoleon ; and, on their arrival 'Sam, go to Major Delmonté's tent at Mobile, their soldierly appearance and and say that if he is too much occupied martial bearing, as they passed on their to ride at present, I will go on, and he way to the rendezvous, called forth loud can join me on the road.' applause from the throng gathered to Sam, glad to be relieved, darted off Welcome them among the defenders of with unusual alacrity, but had scarcely rebeldom.

gone a few rods, when three officer Evening parade was over. A darkey, ar- came out of a tent a short distance off. rayed in the most extraordinary uniform Two walked away, while the third, which African ingenuity could devise, glancing hastily around, gave a short, held the bridle of a spirited horse, which sharp whistle, and a tall negro appeared was pawing the ground with impatience; from behind the tent, leading a hora and the setting sun threw its parting saddled and bridled, which the officno rays over the encampment, bringing out mounted and turned in the direction or in bold relief the figure of an officer, who the surgeon. paced slowly to-and-fro before his tent, "I was afraid I would never get away, smoking a cigar. This was Dr. William he said as he rode up, 'La Roche came Carteret, the only officer not of French as usual for something for his men. I extraction in the regiment. A Kentuckian never saw such a fellow, he is always by birth, he had gone to New-Orleans a behindhand; but I hope his men are year before the rebellion had broken out. supplied at last with all that is requisite, Amid the outspoken disloyalty of the so that I may have a little peace. What a fire-eaters, his reserve of manner and re- beautiful evening this is, and how deticence of speech had excited distrust; lightful the air seems after such a hot still they had no reason to think he was day!' and Delmonté raised his cap to let not a true Southerner, as they termed it; the wind blow on his flushed brow.. BO, when this regiment was formed, the 'Let us make the most of it,' answered position of surgeon was offered him, and the surgeon, “it is late now.' he had quietly accepted it, and was duly They put their horses to a gallop and enrolled in the Louisiana Rifles. rode some time in silence, then slacking

Dr. Carteret continued his walk up their pace, trotted gently along together. and down before his tent, lost in thought, The sun had set, but the clouds still reand apparently forgetful of his impatient tained the crimson hue left by his last horse and most discomfited servant, who, rays, and the moon, already up, mingled being rather new in the business of its silvery paleness with the warm tints groom, clutched the bridle with tenacity, of departing day. while he watched every movement of the Dr. Carteret and his companion were horse with fearful anxiety, and ejaculated, as gallant-looking officers as one might with a suppressed groan, as the animal see in a dozen reviews. Carteret was tossed his head in close proximity to his tall—as most Kentuckians are—straight as an arrow, sinewey and muscular as an gave a laugh of incredulity as he threw Indian. His features were clearly cut; away his cigar. his hair brown, and eyes gray; mouth But you do not know them,' perfirm, shaded by a narrow brown mous- sisted the surgeon. 'I spent some years tache;

the chin strong and square; the among them, and had a good chance of whole face characterized by an air of learning their chief characteristics. They stern impassability.

have a dogged obstinacy in sticking to a Major Victor Philippe Delmonté show- point, which we can scarcely understand, ed very plainly his French extraction; and you will find them much better sol. slenderly built and of medium size, he diers than you think.' had the raven blackness of hair and eye Another incredulous shrug from Del. one sees so often in the French creole, monté. and his handsome face had a double • Mon ami, the age of miracles is past, 'charm from its varied expression. except in fiction; give me a single in

‘Are there any prospects of our being stance of a herd of shoemakers, shopsent to Richmond soon ?' asked the sur- keepers, and mechanics transformed into geon, breaking the silence.

a race of warriors in one year. Do you Delmonté was too busily engaged in remember what Forbes of the Second lighting a cigar to be able to answer im- Georgia told us of the manner they mediately.

changed their base at Bethel ?' * Yes, they talk of sending us up next 'Perfectly; and you have not forgotten week,' he finally replied, having suc- how indignant Rhett was when his regiceeded in getting a light after a great ment broke, and scattered like sheep, at waste of matches, "and the prospect is a bayonet charge from the Yankees. delightful to me. I long to get into ac- Rhett is too good a soldier not to give tion, it is so stupid here, so dull. I want even his enemies credit for gallantry to be where there is some exci nent; when they deserve it; and he said he and if we do n't go soon, we will lose our never saw a finer or more undaunted chance for a fight, for after the drubbing front than they presented. the Yankees got the last time, they Well, we will see,' answered the won't stand but one more; and if we Major, still unwilling to yield the point. are not on hand for that, we may put up "There is talk of Lee's carrying the war our swords and go home.'

into the enemy's country, and you and "Do n't make yourself uneasy on that I will both be in that campaign; and, in point, Major ; the. Yankees are yet very spite of their bravery, I am much infar from being beaten into compliance.' clined to think I shall live to be a grey.

Soit,' said Delmonté with an inimit- headed old man to tell my grand-children able French shrug; 'but it is merely a with how little cost we wrested our inquestion of one or two more battles at dependence from Lincoln and ses amimost, and behold the Confederacy un ables confrères.' fait accompli.'

"Our independence, Major, is what 'I am not so sanguine,' quietly an- neither you nor I will live to see,' said swered Carteret.

the surgeon in a decided tone. Confess, my dear fellow, that you What, Carteret,' replied Delmonté, have an exalted opinion of your Yankee glancing quickly at his companion's face, friends. I am not prepared to say that are you serious in what you say ? Or the whole race of Northerners are a set are you not over-anxious that we should of cowards and poltroons; but that they be free?' his hot Southern blood taking should stand a series of. defeats without fire at his friend's persistency. Cartebeing glad to accede to our demands ret's face did not change at this implied seems absurd enough,' and Delmonté insinuation.

You know better, Victor,' he an- Delmonté's face darkened. C'est un swered in a quiet and distinct tone. bête,' he said impetuously. "Since we have plunged into this war • Ah!' commented the surgeon. there is not a man among us who does "You will come to the tableaux tonot desire our independence; our honor, night, wo n't you?' asked Victor as they all, in fact, that makes life dear to us de- turned their horses towards the encampmands that we should fight it out, or ment. perish in the attempt; but I do not "No, I think not. I will send my conhesitate to say that I feel our cause tribution by you, and that will do as hopeless, and our efforts useless to well,' said Carteret. achieve our aim - a separate and dis- ‘But I was especially charged by Mrs. tinct confederacy. Still, it has not de- Barclay to insist upon your coming. terred me from offering my life for that She said the ladies were hurt at your purpose, and I am ready to dispose of my. persistent refusal to accept of their hosself in any way that can serve her, pitality.' although I am convinced there is only a 'I had no idea that it was looked gloomy future ahead. But let us change upon in that light. You know I do not the subject; our duty is before us, and care for society, and I am a stranger discussion as to our sentiments does not here; but I will come up some time in alter it. Let us make the most of the the course of the evening.' present.'

The ladies of Mobile had been engaged With all my heart,' said Delmonté for some time in getting up tableaux' gaily, his French light-heartedness com- for the benefit of the sick and wounded ing to the surface. · After all, there is soldiers, and this was their first represomething fascinating in a soldier's life; sentation. Carteret did not arrive until what is it? It must be the uncertainty they were at their last tableau, and the of it, the ‘here' to-day — a shot — and curtain was rising as he entered; so he

nowhere 'to-morrow. Vive l'amour et slipped quietly into a corner, where, la guerre.'

standing, he could command a good view * At present you mean especially, vive of the stage. This tableau — the chef l'amour and Coralie, Victor,' and Carte d'æuore of all - was overflowing with ret glanced slily at the Major.

Southern patriotism, and was called 'the Delmonté impulsively turned away triumph of the South.' Delmonté, arrayhis head, while a red streak shot acrossed in all the splendor of an eastern king, his forehead; but the surgeon was not was seated upon a throne resembling looking, and moreover the darkness hid a bale of cotton, one foot rested upon a his confusion.

globe, under the other was a United Most certainly I say vive Coralie, States flag, while beside him knelt a but I, unhappily, have no reason to negro with a basket of cotton; around couple her name with l'amour,' said Del- him stood young girls dressed in white, monté, concealing his real feelings under with red and white scarfs looped on the an air of gaiety. 'Mademoiselle Latour shoulder, and on their heads silver does not smile upon me more than upon crowns, with the names of the different others who bow at her shrine.'

confederate States they represented in"Why, then, I heard it reported that scribed upon them. In the foreground it was the departure from New-Orleans knelt a man, in a soldier's uniform, of a certain Major with his regiment loaded with chains, and guarded by that brought Mademoiselle Latour to armed men. Behold the North prostrate Mobile,' said Carteret. “But it may have at the feet of the mighty Confederacy, been Torrens of the Eighth Mississippi Three times the curtain rose and dethey meant,' he continued, watching to scended, amid shouts of applause, upon see the effect of his words.

this flattering tribute to Southern valor

[ocr errors]

and power; and when the performers near them, in the background, gazing made their appearance in the room with hopeless envy at Delmonté, on among the guests, they were warmly con- whom Coralie was lavishing her smiles. gratulated on all sides for their success- Just then the surgeon was seized upon ful and beautiful representations. by some young officers of his regiment,

Carteret came out of his corner and all excitement and enthusiasm, to tell made his way slowly through the throng him that despatches had just come from to pay his respects to Mrs. Barclay, the Richmond ordering up a certain number hostess of the evening, who received him of regiments, his among the rest. This with great cordiality, but chided him for news which had just been brought from keeping himself in such seclusion, when headquarters by an officer, had caused all were anxious to make the acquaint. quite an excitement among the guests. ance of a gentleman of such great ability Here and there groups could be seen and culture. Dr. Carteret bowed, and talking earnestly, some wondering what said they complimented him too highly. were the plans of Lee; while others Mrs. Barclay determined to make the thought that perhaps he was again menmost of her opportunity, and, taking his aced by McClellan. However it might arm, presented him to every lady in the be, exciting times were at hand. Havroom, and then left him to whatever fate ing satisfied himself that his regiment the gods might provide. Whereupon would be off in a few days, Carteret the Doctor, having duly complimented escaped from the heat and glare of the them upon the tableaux, and their ap- room into the garden. The moon had a pearance in them, and listened to 'secesh' tropical splendor that night; every nook patriotism in return, set out in search of and corner were brought out in bold reDelmonté. He discovered him standing lief by her rays; the flowers glistened in by a door engaged in an animated con- the silver light, which gave them a new versation with a young girl, who stood beauty, and perfumed the soft air with with her back towards Carteret. He their fragrance; while loud and clear the could tell by her dress that she was one song of the mocking bird rang out on of the confederate States' of the ta- the still night. Here and there among bleau, that her figure was lithe, her hair the winding paths was seen the glitter of jetty blackness, which, caught at the of an epaulette and the shimmer of a back of the head by a silver fillet, fell in white dress. He turned into a bower, ringlets on the neck.

laden with clematis and honeysuckle, "So that must be Mademoiselle Latour. and, seating himself on a rustic seat, fell I wish she would turn her face this way,' into a profound reverie. Before him rose said the Doctor mentally.

the past. Again he saw that face, whose As if in accordance with his wish, never-fading lineaments were engraven Coralie changed her position and faced upon his heart; the pale, oval cheek; him. It was a very pretty face; a broad, the pure brow, shaded by long black low brow; luminous dark eyes, shaded hair ; the sad, tender look of the gray by long black lashes; a delicate little eyes. 'T was true it had been the deeds nose; and lips rosy and arched like of his rash, hot youth that had separated Cupid's bow. But coquetry breathed in him ; but in these later years he felt he every motion; in the flirt of the fan, in had been worthy of his lost love. And the glance of those eyes — which never when the long looked for moment seemmet yours fairly and truthfully, and ed to tremble in his grasp, in which he which were now bent on Victor, en- could lay the burden of sorrow and regret tangling his very soul in their depths. at her feet, civil war had stretched its Torrens of the Eighth Mississippi, a hand- awful arm between them, for he had cast some fellow, resplendent in the gorgeous his fortune with the South. "No Northuniform of a confederate major, hovered ern bayonet,' he wrote, "can ever thrust

from my heart the love I have so long strangely with his eager, impassioned carried there, as its sacred treasure. voice, “I do love you, and am yours, Judge me not harshly, and do not let my from this time forth and forever.' position deprive me of your friendship, I · Forever !'he exclaimed rapturdare not say love.' Now, on the battle- ously, and then the voices died away field perhaps he would meet as a foe some as they passed out of hearing. The of her kindred, many of his friends. surgeon came out of the bower. “ForHe thought of the happy years he had ever!' whispered the night-breeze, as it spent in the North, whose memory was lifted the hair on his brow. “Forever!' to be, perhaps, washed out in blood. sighed the flowers, as they drooped and The surgeon sighed; he did not regret closed. "Forever!' sang the mockingthe life he had offered in the service of a bird in plaintive note. * Forever!' cause he felt to be hopeless and vain; echoed his lonely heart, as he left the for he had sacrificed all that made life spot, where soul had thrilled to soul, dear to him. Approaching footsteps and love's pleading voice had not sued startled him from his meditations. in vain.

"Why åre you so silent, Victor ?' The Louisiana Rifles did not get off said a soft, musical voice.

as soon as they expected. They were "Pardon me, Coralie, but I was think- detained three weeks, by the illness of ing who the companion would be of Colonel de Courcy, and another regiment your wanderings here next week, when was sent instead. In the mean time the I am gone,' answered Delmonté. news of Jackson's successful campaign

When you are gone! next week! against Pope had reached them, causing I do not understand you, Victor,' she great rejoicing, and Victor, radiant with said with surprise. “You did not expect his new happiness, and burning for a to be ordered away for a month yet, I chance to distinguish himself, chased at thought

this delay. All his leisure hours were Our regiment goes the day after to- spent with Coralie, who begged him to morrow.'

keep their engagement a secret, and Ah!' she exclaimed, in accents of Carteret found himself taking his rides alarm. Delmonté's eager ear caught it. alone. There were many officers who Do you regret it?' he asked quickly, would have been very willing to have his voice trembling with suppressed given him their society, but he did not feeling.

seek it, being quite satisfied with meet"Can you doubt it?' Coralie said ing them at mess, when his duties were softly.

over, and preferring bis solitary ride to • Ah! Coralie!' he exclaimed pas- joining their gambling-parties at headsionately, 'tell me that you are not in- quarters. Victor had once or twice different to me — that I, who love you made some excuse for not riding with with all my heart and soul, ain loved in him as usual; but the surgeon told return. Cheered by that thought, no him he was right to make the most danger is too great, no privations too of ladies' society, for he would have severe for me to endure, and it will little enough of it soon, and Delmonté, nerve my arm with new strength on the unconscious that his friend possessed battle-field, to know I fight for my coun- his secret, had invariably departed to try and your sweet sake; and if I fall, the enjoyment of Coralie's smiles. you will weep for me, who loved you Finally the regiment was ready to to the last. Tell me, Coralie, that I leave, and the two officers found themmay claim you, after this campaign, as selves in Ricnmond, where all the troops my wife.'

were being sent to Lee, who had already *Victor,' she replied, in clear, low commenced his march into Maryland. tones, whose calmness contrasted The utmost enthusiasm and confidence

« AnteriorContinuar »