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A STORY OF LIFE IN TEXAS.
FTER the pain and sorrow of the day no blessing could have been more grateful to Christopher than the sleep that at length overtook him. In a trance of calm unconsciousness he forgot life and all its loves and anxieties until just before daybreak. Then he awakened broadly, and saw Robert sitting by the fire. He called the young man gently, and he responded at once. "I was waiting for you to waken, Chris. I have seen General Green, and promised to gather my men and meet him on the road to Santa Fé as soon as possible, but I wanted to speak to you before I start."
pleasure in going into the village. The men he had been accustomed to meet were either away, or had become passionate and unreasonable partisans. The old haunts and the pleasant sidewalks were full of swaggering roughs and tipsy Indian guides. The few women on the streets looked so anxious and shabby and sorrowful that Christopher did not like to see them..
Still it was necessary for him to go occasionally to buy corn and fodder, and to collect the rents due to him. One afternoon, a cold, still one, as he was standing by the head of Geranium, just ready to commence his walk home, he heard a succession of piercing shrieks. Then he saw an open carriage coming up the street, and in it was a woman wringing her hands, and crying out with an abandon that could only proceed from some overwhelming sorrow. It was Clarissa. Her coachman drove steadily on, and men lifted their hats as she passed, and women looked sadly at her, and spoke in sympathising tones.
"She has just heard of the judge's death," said Haney, joining the group at the hotel door. Young Kelly got home to-day without an arm and with a bad wound in his side, and he says the judge fell at Corinth."
"Is he sure of that?" asked Christopher.
Christopher rose slowly, lit his pipe, and sat down for a last talk with his son. 66 He made him a cup of coffee, gave him a purse of gold pieces, and promised him to care for Inez as if she was his own daughter. More than once he was on the point of revealing himself, but a chivalric feeling restrained him. So he kissed and sent his only son away in the first dawn of the morning, and what solemn words were said and what promises made, God and the ever-watchful angels heard.
The days were pitifully long and empty now. Inez came as often as she could, but her health was frail, and Christopher had no longer any
Says he saw him drop, and looked for him after the battle. As he was turning up the dead faces in the moonlight a man partially rose and called out, 'Second Texas! Second Texas!' Thought he knew the voice, and went at once to his help. It was Judge Terry, but he died with the word 'Texas' on his lips. Says he went then and woke up Jim Wade, and that they two buried him. He's been in a power of fights, and
The morrow brought a circumstance which forced Christopher into active life again. He had another visit from Inez's negro maid. She seemed at first at a loss how to introduce her request, but finally she did the right thing, stated it plainly and broadly. "Massa Chris'pher, I'se come to beg some coffee. Miss Inez, she's done got a terrible headache, and we'se got none in de house."
Christopher looked at the girl, and she answered the look positively. "Dat's de fact, Massa Chris'pher. Had none eider for 'leven weeks now, and Miss Inez is powerful set on some today."
Then Christopher rose, and divided what he had with the girl, and she, finding him in such a generous mood, added, "If you could spare a cupful ob sugar, Massa Chris'pher, it would be most oncommon 'ceptable."
Of course, she got some sugar, besides salt, spices, rice, and even pins and needles. The circumstance opened Christopher's eyes, and set him thinking. Poverty of the worst kind was at their door-that poverty which leaves the rich unable to help the poor, the absolute want of the article. He went into the village and made inquiries. There was no coffee, no tea, no flannel, or calico, or shoes, or stockings, or a hundred other things necessary to civilised life. His proposition to go to the Rio Grande and procure these things was hailed with a cry of gratitude, and before he had well considered the difficulties of the undertaking he found himself pledged to it.
However, a great deal that is hard can be made easy with gold, and Christopher had plenty of gold. In the first years of his exile some instinct had directed him to the very best investments, and while he slept, and scarcely cared for his ventures, they had grown steadily in value. He had been a very rich man ten years before the war, and he knew that his interest had been rolling heavily up. Now there was an urgent need for gold, and he drew it generously and without a thought of his own profit or advantage. Christopher could not do an imprudent thing in business, his plans were carefully and wisely laid; and in twenty weeks from the time when his great white-roofed waggons left, loaded with cotton, for the Rio Grande, they returned, loaded with coffee and sugar and dry goods for the settlements in Comal and Bendera counties.
The journey was a severe one for Christopher,
but he did not need to take it again.
While there he organised a regular waggon-train, which he put under a paid guard of Lipans and Mexicans. The labours attending this enterprise, even in the settlements, were great, and, perhaps fortunately for Christopher, compelled him into active life. He had no time for unsatisfactory reflections and unprofitable regrets.
One day he was sitting smoking his afternoon pipe under Haney's verandah. He was alone. Of all the old crowd he only was left. Some were killed, some away, some fled to avoid a military service in which their hearts were not engaged. The few young men who loafed about the village were invalids or scouts on some special duty. The streets were almost deserted; everything had a dreary, decaying, melancholy look. As Christopher mused sadly on these changes, Haney drew a chair near to him and sat down for a talk. "Your new enterprise must make you lots of gold, Christopher-between the cotton and the goods."
'Yes, it does."
"Is it for sale? "Yes." "Why?"
"Madame is very poor-reckon her and the young ladies will feel it pretty tough-powerful proud women. And the boys! I'm more 'an sorry for them. They looked that shabby to-day, and as if they hadn't had enough to eat for a year. I called 'em in and made 'em stay dinner. I thought of their father, how proud he was of them thar boys, and of him crying Second Texas!' with his last breath, and I felt oncommon queer, I can tell you. 'Twould be a good thing if the widow could get rid of that big house."
"I thought she was left with plenty?"
"Of land and negroes. Now, Christopher, what is land worth to-day? They can't turn it into crops or gold, and they can't eat nor wear it. As for the servants, I reckon they are only another care. The able-bodied men have all been conscripted, and are on the fortifications at Galveston. The women don't 'mount to much; ef they keep themselves it's 'bout all, though I reckon their wage is all the ready money madame ever sees now. I can tell you I'm real sorry for them, and I thought, as you owned 'bout all the houses on that street, you might want the judge's."
"I do not want it."
Then he shook the ashes out of his pipe, and asked Haney to have his pony saddled. "I've got to see Baylor," he added, "but my business with him won't keep me ten minutes."
Baylor was the factor through whom all the farmers and planters round managed their business. He turned their cattle and cotton into gold for them, and he loaned and invested money with admirable prudence and honesty. There was not a rancher or a planter between the Colorado and the Rio Grande who did not confide in Baylor. Christopher found him in his store, and, drawing him aside a little, said, "Baylor, I want you to do me a favour."
'Anything within my power, you know I will." "I have just heard that Judge Terry's house is for sale, and his widow in a hard place-she is quite without money-that means everything, I guess. Now, for reasons known only to myself, and of which she has not the faintest conception, I want her to have all the comforts that are reasonable at such a time as this. How much a month will that be?"
"With the hire of her three spare servants, seventy-five dollars is a fair allowance."
"You are sure that is sufficient?"
"It is more than any other family in this section has; I'll bet you five dollars on that."
"I don't bet, Baylor; you know that. But I want the madame to have enough-without extravagance, I'm against nonsense in these sorrowful times."
"You are right, sir. And, to tell the truth, the madame was always free-handed in her house."
"Never mind that now; I know nothing about madame's house-never was inside it, but at Robert Moray's wedding-people have to spend at a wedding. But don't you let her suspicion who the money comes from, that's all; I don't want to have her feelings hurt."
"Bless you, Christopher! you can't hurt madame's feelings with money. Excuse me, but if you knew-"
"I don't know, and I don't really care to know anything about madame's peculiarities; but I am loth to think of those pretty girls and those fine little fellows missing their father so sorely. Now, Baylor, I've put a good many thousand dollars your way, and if you want to do me a genuine favour you'll attend to this matter now-I mean this very hour."
"I'll send seventy-five dollars before five o'clock, Christopher."
"Thank you. That's all. Good night." Poor Clarissa was sitting with her girls and boys at this very time in mournful conversation. Their separation seemed inevitable. Lulu and
Violet must go to their aunt in Austin, and Jack to an uncle in Burnet; then she would only have Stephen and Matt to provide for. It seemed to the mother and children a dreadful alternativeall the worse that the house was to be sold and the pleasant home for ever broken up.
"Here is a letter, mamma," said Lulu, "and Baylor's boy waits for an answer."
She opened the letter and read, and then reread it. Her face flushed, great tears gathered in her eyes, she clasped Jack to her breast, and said, in a voice broken and low with emotion, "Oh, children, we are saved! Listen to what Baylor says:—
“Madame,-I am authorised to pay to you, as Judge Terry's widow, the sum of seventy-five dollars, gold, monthly, until such time as the condition of the country enables you to realise the proper value of the estate left by the late Judge Terry. The friend for whom I am acting desires you to preserve your homestead, and you are not to consider yourself under any obligation, the obligation being, he says, entirely on his side. Please to give the bearer a receipt for seventy-five dollars. "JOHN BAYLOR.'"
Long did the happy family sit and speculate that night on their unknown helper. Jack, who had yet lofty ideas of human nature, was inclined to believe that Baylor, reflecting on the large sums he had made from the Terry ranches, had felt bound in honour to assist them in their extremity. Violet said, in a whisper, "Perhaps some one who had wronged papa in his spasmodic fits of gambling had felt sorry for them, and was taking this way to repay his theft." And even Clarissa could come no nearer to the truth than to suppose "it might be some horse-thief whose life the judge had spared."
Any way, it was a timely and gracious help, and Baylor smiled when he saw Clarissa out riding. again every afternoon, and heard that his wife had been invited to a little party at Madame Terry's. "Christopher's money," he murmured, a little angrily, but the children are nice children. I wonder, in all creation, what made Christopher do it! Reckon Terry scored the obligation in some Indian fight. But if Christopher is in the humour of giving, madame will keep him employed, I'll bet my last dollar on that.'
Baylor's supposition seemed likely to be a true one. In three months madame wrote seven letters to her unknown friend. Two were indeed notes of gratitude; other two requested an addition of twenty-five dollars a month; two subsequent asked for a special loan; and the last suggested that if the unknown friend was under an obligation, which he thought fit to pay in instalments, the widow would prefer to receive the whole sum at
Christopher read them with a gravity that betrayed no symptom of any kind of feeling. "Madame is importunate and insatiable," said Baylor.
"Give her the hundred dollars a month. knows best what she requires, I reckon." About the loan he was as dour as a Scot can be. "I never lend money," he said, "and I have none to give in this case." Her final request pained him exceedingly, but he would not let Baylor see that it did so." Tell her," he said, "her last request is impossible, and that I am very sorry to refuse it." You are the best-natured fellow, Christopher." "You don't know what you are talking about, Baylor; so don't give me credit I don't deserve. If it had been a man it would have been different. Women need so many things, and they have such a hard time-and it never does any good to dispute with them; sooner or later you are ashamed and sorry for it."
"I wonder what her next request will be?"
Christopher made no answer. He looked at the clock and rose, nodded his head to Baylor, untied his pony, and was just going to mount him, when he saw the doctor coming rapidly up the
Christopher's first thought was Robert. Had Inez heard bad tidings? Was anything wrong? With the bridle in his hand he waited till the doctor reached him.
"Where are you for, doctor?" "Madame Terry's.'
"What is the matter?"
"She is dying, I fear."
"Wait, I must go with you."
They went into the house together. Christopher waited until the doctor joined him again, and said, sadly,
"She may live till morning, but she is sinking fast."
'Doctor, I must see her, and see her alone. Can you manage this for me? It is of the greatest importance. Tell her the person for whom Baylor has acted wishes to see heralone."
"If it is really important, Christopher-but if not, it is wicked to vex her further with the cares of life."
"Doctor, I thought you knew me. this is of the gravest interest to her."
I tell you
"Forgive me, Christopher, I will tell her." In a few moments the doctor beckoned him to a door looking on to the western verandah.
"Go in, I am afraid you are too late to be understood. I will stay here; if anything is needed call me."
Then Christopher entered the death-room. It was a large, handsome chamber, cool and white. The evening breeze stirred gently the lace curtains at the window, towards which the dying woman's eyes were turned. She hardly noticed his entrance; her breathing was slow and heavy, and her eyes fixed on the setting sun.
"Clarissa! Oh! Clarissa, forgive me!"
She never made a cry. Slowly she turned her eyes, but there was no light of recognition in them. Still undoubtedly the voice touched some sensitive chord in her soul.
"Jamie!" she said, in feeble, broken tones. "Oh, Jamie, but I'm glad I'm glad you're come hame. I've been sair troubled since yon night I went awa wi' wee Robert from you. It was a wicked thing, Jamie, and I hae had a sair repenting."
"God knows that I forgive all, Clarissa! Oh! my dear Clarissa, if you could only understand!"
She smiled, but it was a smile without intelligence for him. "You were aye too gude for me, Jamie; but I sought you wearily. Do you mind Archie Blythe? I met him in New York, and he said you had come to Texas. I sought you day and night. I prayed God to send you to me, but you've been long coming, Jamie-long coming. I thought you were dead! I thought you were dead; and I used to wake up at midnight and
think about my sin. I hae been a weak, weak woman. Christ pity me! Christ pity me!"
Christopher wept bitterly. He soothed her with the gentlest and most pitiful words. He took her hand, and, kneeling by her side, prayed as men in such extremities do pray. He told the dying woman over and over that he forgave all, that he would care for every one of her children, that they should want no good thing he could give them, and he pointed her in solemn words to "Him who taketh away the sins of the world." And she wept gently, and smiled softly as a child whom its mother comforteth.
About the middle of the night she said, almost in her natural voice, "I hear the wimpling of the burn, and I feel the breeze coming o'er the broom and the wild thyme, and I hear the Sabbath bell, Jamie. Oh, but it rings clearly!-and I hear them raising the psalm; but I'll never see Jamie again-never again-and it's my fault, it's my fault. Oh, Jamie! Jamie!"
The love and anguish, the regrets and forgiveness of thirty years were in the one word. Its intensity recalled her for a moment, and a gleam of recognition came into her face. One great tearthe last she would ever shed-rolled slowly down the cheek almost clay. Christopher solemnly and tenderly kissed away this last sad show of life and love and sorrow, and then, weeping like a child, he called in the doctor and her household. There was no further struggle; an awful silence reigned for a few moments, and then with a faint sigh the spirit fled.
Christopher was easily persuaded to stay with the children. Upon receiving the doctor's message a spirit of gratitude had made them accede to his request. Now Jack came frankly forward and spoke for all. "Mr. Christopher, we did not know until now whose hand had supplied our wants, but we are very glad it was yours." And the girls brought him a cup of coffee and made his pillows soft on the sofa, and spoke kindly to him. He let them. He felt strangely in need of sympathy, and even the doctor's rougher care was very pleasant to him.
In the morning the doctor went for Inez, and Christopher took upon himself the ordering of the funeral. The plainest necessities were not easily procured, all else was out of the question. Then, in that solemn light between sunset and moonrise, Clarissa's friends carried her to her grave.
Inez was to remain with Lulu and Violet a few days, and Christopher, before leaving, took Jack aside, and said,
"Jack, you are now to take your father's and mother's place. Stick to your home, and keep together till the war is over. Baylor will pay you the usual amount. No, no, don't say a word, Jack; you may be sure I have the right as well as the will to do what I do. Some day you may know all, in the meantime come to me for any help or advice you want."
He rode home with the doctor, who seemed much inclined to talk of the dead lady. "She spoke the broadest Scotch from the moment she
became insensible," he said, thoughtfully, "and she seemed to forget all her late life."
"She was Scotch," said Christopher, softly, "and our people under any trouble or great emotion aye go back to their mother tongue."
"And you are Scotch also ?"
"I am Scotch also. We came from the same place."
Oh! ah! I see. Christopher, what a true, tender old fellow you are! I dare say you once loved her."
"She was the only woman I ever loved; but that was a' over lang syne. Think no wrong, doctor; she did not know I was alive, nor did I know that she was in America until just before Robert Moray's marriage. I saw her then for a few moments, and I saw her on her death-bedthat is all."
"Her name before her second marriage was Moray?"
Yes, and mine is Moray-James Christopher Moray."
"Then you are relatives?"
"All the Morays are kin. If I met one at Timbuctoo I should know he was my cousin, more or less removed."
"You Scots count kinship far."
"There's One that counts it farther, even God, the Father of us all."
Some influence of time and circumstance induced the doctor to continue the conversation in a religious strain; for there comes a time in every man's life when he is impelled to look his eternal destiny in the face. As they rode together over the prairie they spoke of faith, and of immortality, and the things pertaining to it. Christopher spoke as one seeing things invisible; the doctor reasoned and doubted, but still he was deeply touched, and the argument begun that night was lifted at nearly every subsequent meeting, and every day grew more full of interest to both men.
There were few lives in those years which did not suffer a great change. Christopher's was not exempt. The silent, serene man, dreaming through regretful years, had become alert and cheerful, with hands full of business and a heart encompassed with loving cares. Even the log cabin had felt the change. Jack and Stephen Terry were frequently there for days together. They coaxed the old man to go hunting with them, and to tell them stories of Indian fights. The walls and shelves held all sorts of boyish treasures, and odds and ends of boyish garments. Inez and Lulu and Violet also came, and, whether he would or not, took him away with them. They made him put on his best clothes. and they brushed his hair to suit themselves, over him all those petty and pretty men so dearly like from those th coaxed him to send for ribbons ar fineries, and even to leave his business and take them into San Antonia. But, however unreasonable their demands, Christopher could not refuse them. Love had come so late into his life, he could not bear to darken one smile or lose one pleasant word.
annies that love. They
Perhaps he was at this time happier than ever
he had been before; but Inez, whom he talked confidentially to, knew that his brightest days were darkened by the absence and silence of Robert. "But he'll come back, dearie," he would say when he saw her weeping, "I know he will come back."
At length, in the beginning of 1865, there was a whisper of the end. Ben Archer, a member of Robert's company, had been seen at El Paso, and through him they heard that Robert, after the defeat at Fort Union, had made his way over mountains and deserts into Arizona. Archer thought he had joined a Mexican company trading between Tucson and Senora, and did not doubt but he would return as soon as he considered it safe to do so.
So the time wore on, and, in spite of all, not unhappily, and the midsummer was again over the lovely land. One day Inez, Lulu, and Violet went to spend the day with Christopher. They wanted some ribbon, and they easily induced him to ride to the village for it. As he was getting the ribbon, Lavenburg opened a case of muslins, and he bought each of the girls a new dress, and then with the presents in his saddle-bag rode happily home. He was amply rewarded in their innocent delight, and in listening to them discuss the colours and patterns most becoming to each. He was not insensible either to the good supper they made him, nor to the pleasure of sitting down to a cleanly cheerful meal, with three happy girls, full of questions, and merry chatter, and kind thoughtfulness.
The moon was so bright that the girls finished their sewing in its light, and then Christopher prepared to escort them to the doctor's. They were a happy party, none the less so that they were silent, and let the beauty and peace of the night sink into their hearts. Suddenly Christopher said, "I hear the gallop of a horse."
"Likely," said Inez. Papa has four hundred down at present."
"But this is the gallop of one controlled by a rider. See, yonder the rider comes. A Mexican, I reckon; he rides like one."
"Or an Indian," said Lulu.
"If an Indian he is a friendly one, and perhaps he may bring us news from Robert."
"It is Robert! screamed Inez. "It is Robert! Nobody rides like that but Robert. I know it is Robert!' On came the horseman, riding like an Apache, straight as an arrow, swift as the wind.
"Stand still, dears," said Christopher; "we shall soon know. Yes, it is Robert."
Then Inez rushed wildly to meet him, and in a few moments he was the centre of the group. Under other circumstances he might have wondered to meet his half-sisters with Christopher, but at this joyful moment nothing was singular. He had found his wife and his home again after four such weary years. That was the great miracle; all else were but parts of it. moment poor Christopher felt a pang of jealousy. Every one was kissed and noticed before him, but he soon recovered his good-humour. How could Robert do different, knowing nothing of their true