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Not thine, nor mine, to question or reply
LITTLE BOY BLUE
The little toy dog is covered with dust,
But sturdy and stanch he stands;
And his musket molds in his hands.
And the soldier was passing fair,
Kissed them and put them there.
“Now, don't you go till I come,” he said;
He dreamt of the pretty toys.
Awakened our Little Boy Blue
But the little toy friends are true.
Ay, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand,
Each in the same old place.
The smile of a little face.
In the dust of that little chair,
Since he kissed them and put them there.
Mary Richling, the heroine of the story, was the wife of John Richling, a resident of New Orleans. At the breaking out of the Civil War she went to visit her parents in Milwaukee. About the time of the bombardment of New Orleans she received news of the dangerous illness of her husband, and she decided at once to reach his bedside, if possible. Taking with her, her baby daughter, a child of three years, she proceeded southward, where, after several unsuccessful attempts to secure a pass, she finally determined to break through the lines.
About the middle of the night Mary Richling was sitting very still and upright on a large, dark horse that stood champing his Mexican bit in the black shadow of a great oak. Alice rested before her, fast asleep against her bosom. Mary held by the bridle another horse, whose naked saddle-tree was empty. A few steps in front of her the light of the full moon shone almost straight down upon a narrow road that just there emerged from the shadow of woods on either side, and divided into a main right fork and a much smaller one that curved around to Mary's left. Off in the direction of the main fork the sky was all aglow with camp-fires. Only just here on the left there was a cool and grateful darkness.
She lifted her head alertly. A twig crackled under a tread, and the next moment a man came out of the bushes at the left, and without a word took the bridle of the old horse from her fingers and vaulted into the saddle. The hand that rested a moment on the cantle as he rose grasped a “navy six.” He was dressed in dull homespun, but he was the same who had been dressed in blue. He turned his horse and led the way down the lesser road.
"If we'd gone on three hundred yards further,” he whispered, falling back and smiling broadly, “we'd ’a’run into the pickets. I went nigh enough to see the videttes settin' on their hosses in the main road. This here ain't no road; it just goes up to a nigger quarters. I've got one o' the niggers to show us the
1 From "Dr. Sevier."
“Where is he?” whispered Mary; but before her companion could answer, a' tattered form moved from behind a bush a little in advance and started ahead in the path, walking and beckoning. Presently they turned into a clear, open forest, and followed the long, rapid, swinging stride of the negro for nearly an hour. Then they halted on the bank of a deep, narrow stream. The negro made a motion for them to keep well to the right when they should enter the water. The white man softly lifted Alice to his arms, directed and assisted Mary to kneel in her saddle, with her skirts gathered carefully under her, and so they went down into the cold stream, the negro first, with arms outstretched above the flood; then Mary, and then the white man,
or, let us say plainly, the spy — with the unawakened child on his breast. And so they rose out of it on the farther side without a shoe or garment wet, save the rags of their dark guide.
Again they followed him, along a line of stake-and-rider fence, with the woods on one side and the bright moonlight flooding a field of young cotton on the other. Now they heard the distant baying of house-dogs, now the doleful call of the chuck-will's-widow, and once Mary's blood turned, for an instant, almost ice at the unearthly shriek of the hoot owl just above her head. At length they found themselves in a dim, narrow road, and the negro stopped.
“Dess keep dish yeh road fo' 'bout half mile, an' you strak 'pon de broad, main road. Tek de left, an' you go whah yo' fancy tek you.”
“Good-by," whispered Mary. “Good-by, Miss,” said the negro, in the same low voice; "good-by, boss; don't you fo’git you promise tek me thoo to de Yankee' when you come back. I 'feered you gwine fo’git it, boss." The
spy said he would not, and they left him. The half-mile was soon passed, though it turned out to be a mile and a half, and at length Mary's companion looked back as they rode single file with Mary in the rear, and said softly:
“There's the road," pointing at its broad, pale line with his six-shooter.
As they entered it and turned to the left, Mary, with Alice again in her arms, moved somewhat ahead of her companion, her indifferent horsemanship having compelled him to drop back to avoid a prickly bush. His horse was just quickening his pace to regain the lost position, when a man sprang up from the ground on the farther side of the highway, snatched a carbine from the earth and cried : “Halt!”
The dark recumbent forms of six or eight others could be seen, enveloped in their blankets, lying about a few red coals. Mary turned a frightened look backward and met the eyes of her companion.
“Move a little faster,” said he, in a low, clear voice. As she promptly did so she heard him answer the challenge, as his horse trotted softly after hers.
“Don't stop us, my friend; we're taking a sick child to the doctor."
“Halt, you hound !” the cry rang out; and as Mary glanced back three or four men were just leaping into the road. But she saw also her companion, his face suffused with an earnestness that was almost an agony, rise in his stirrups with the stoop of his shoulders all gone, and wildly cry:
“Go!” She smote the horse and flew. Alice woke and screamed.
“Hush, my darling,” said the mother, laying on the withe; "mamma's here. Hush, darling, mamma's here. Don't be
frightened, darling baby. O God, spare my child !” and away
out and went rolling away in a thousand echoes through the wood. Two others followed in sharp succession, and there went close by Mary's ear the waspish whine of a minie-ball. At the same moment she recognized, once, — twice, thrice, — just at her back where the hoofs of her companion's horse were clattering - the tart rejoinders of his navy
six. “Go!” he cried again. “Lay low ! lay low ! cover the child !” But his words were needless. With head bowed forward and form crouched over the crying, clinging child, with slackened rein and fluttering dress, and sun-bonnet and loosened hair blown back upon her shoulders, with lips compressed and silent prayers, Mary was riding for life and liberty and her husband's bedside.
“O mamma, mamma,” wailed the terrified little one.
“Go on! Go on!” cried the voice behind; "they're — saddling up! Go! go! We're goin' to make it! We're going to make it! Go-o-o!”
And they made it !
As Glaucus, a young Athenian, now a resident of Pompeii, was strolling with his friend Clodius through the streets of that renowned city, their steps were arrested by a crowd gathered round an open space where three streets met; and just where the porticoes of a light, graceful temple threw their shade, there stood a young girl, with a flower-basket on her right arm and a small three-stringed instrument of music in her left hand, to whose low and soft tones she was modulating a low, plaintive air.
Adapted by Robt. I. Fulton from “ Last Days of Pompeii.”