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Library of Congress Subject Headings, 19th edition, 1996
[Title Page Image]
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by
MRS. KATE PLAKE
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Missouri.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1868, by
MRS. KATE PLAKE
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Union Men of America,
NORTH, SOUTH, EAST, AND WEST,
WHO FOR THE
GREAT CAUSE OF UNION AND LIBERTY
BATTLED AND ENDURED SO MUCH,
IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED BY
Married to a man at an early age, who neglected and ill-treated her - divorced - again married - persecuted by the malevolence of her relatives, and the efforts made to prove her insane, - her attempts to support herself and child, - together with the many incidents unfolded in the ensuing pages, - form a narrative of real life, sufferings, and struggles which do not fortunately often fall to the lot of her sister women. It was while battling thus for her very existence, as it were, that the great storm of Rebellion gathered strength and rode in wild fury through the Southern States.
There was a moment's hesitation only, between the natural tendency toward the opinions of her friends and neighbors, or to side with the cause of her country and its flag. That indecision was but momentary, however; and overhearing by accident an important interview, her resolution was fixed,
and the uncertainty vanished as to the manner in which she, a woman could do her part in supporting the Government in the struggle just beginning with the hydra of Rebellion.
Making her way, after many trials and difficulties, to the presence of Governor Bramlette of Kentucky, she unfolded her plans, and receiving his countenance and approval, was installed in the Secret Service Corps, - the scope of her duties being to bring information to the Union authorities of the Rebel movements and enterprises, and also to detect the secret treason that lurked inside our lines almost everywhere along the frontier - ready to strike its fangs into the hand that it fed from, and the Government that unsuspectingly supported it.
The authoress was furnished with a passport of safety, and was also entrusted with the Union pass-word. She served in her chosen position throughout the war, principally in Kentucky, and until by our struggle's glorious termination her efforts were no longer needed. She has written this little work, and relies on its sale as her only means of support for herself and daughter.
IN commencing this story of my life, I shall depart from the usual and stereotyped method of giving a glowing description of the landscape surrounding me, or of writing a panegyric on the "glorious orb of day," or drawing fanciful pictures of any kind; but come right to the beginning at once.
I was born in Bath County, Ky., March 16th, 1838, at a place called the Bend of Slate, near the old Forge Farm; which is but a short distance from Mount Sterling. My parents' family consisted of four children - James, Nancy, Mary, and myself.
The story I am about to relate is not made up of romance or fiction, but is a plain, unvarnished tale of my own individual experience; to be brief and concise, a transcript of my own life. As perhaps the scenes of my childhood would prove uninteresting to most of my readers, I shall not dwell long on them, contenting myself with merely stating briefly a few events, and then passing to the stern realities of my bitter life. How vividly my mind reverts to the past and, in fancy
how plainly I can see the dear old home of my childhood days; the garden and the fields and wildwood; and above all, how plainly I can see the loved ones there. My dear mother, in the old and familiar rocking-chair, her needlework in her lap, and her eyes beaming with gentleness and affection; my generous brother and kind sisters, reading or sewing; and to complete the group, I myself, free from all sorrow and anxiety, - a trusting and unsophisticated little child. Although my home was but a rude log hut, I loved it none the less for that; for then there were no ambitious aspirations in my heart; and this humble cabin was dearer, far dearer to me than the finest palatial mansion would be now. There my happy days began, and there, alas! were they ended. In those dear old woods I have wandered many a long hour, gathering the early daisies and cowslips; or sat beneath the wide-spreading trees, weaving the bright wild roses into a wreath for my happy brow. There, on those sweet, green hills I loved so much to gather the huckleberries, and watch the pretty little birds as they flew from branch to branch carolling their sweet wild strains; or, when the cold winds blew, and the snow covered the ground and the leafless trees, I took my dogs and roamed over the hills and valleys, in search of something for pastime, for that was my ideal.
Well do I remember the giant trees with their wide-spreading branches, that were massed through the woods and around our old cabin home, when we first took up our residence in it. About that time a terrible hurricane passed over our portion of Kentucky, dealing destruction, and in some instances death, in its march.. But to me it did not appear in its devastating form; but the leaning and lodged trees, and numberless pendent branches, which seemed as nature's gymnasium for us happy children, made it appear to me all the more beautiful and romantic. My busy hands
carried the brush from the yard, cut down the brambles, tall weeds, and thistles; and in their stead I planted fruit-trees, flowers, etc., while the wild rose and olive bushes from the woods, together with the lovely wild violets and sweet williams, were planted promiscuously over the yard.
My daily routine was to roam at will through the woods and over the great hills during the summer's warm days; and during the wintry days, bleak and dreary, I amused myself by sitting in the corner of our humble cot, watching the bright flames dancing up from the great stone fireplace, and the blue smoke curling and flying through the black, sooty chimney; and wondering where all the pretty flames and the misty curling smoke went to. O! well do I recollect the air castles I built by that bright, shining fire, and wondering if they would ever be realized. But, alas! how changed is everything since then! Swiftly the reminiscences of the past rush over my mind, and in fancy I see the family group seated around a cheery fire, just as we sat years agone. I can see my mother's angelic countenance, as the rays of the firelight beamed upon it; and hear the happy voices and merry laughter that echoed through the house, as some amusing recital was told us. I hear the agreeable voices of the guests as they propounded enigmas, to hear how readily I could repeat them. And the Bible enigma, how well do I remember it! and when I asked that it be repeated, my mother said, "I would rather not have it recited now." Then, while her face beamed love and affection, mingled with a mother's pride, would she turn to me, lay a hand on my shoulder, and say: "Katie, mamma would like to have you look for it in the Bible yourself, and read it; won't you try to find it now?"
Awakening from my slumbers on the morning after the scene I have been describing, I exclaimed, - "O, mamma, I have had such a queer dream: Methought
I was in a lion's carcass, and the bees had filled me with honey!" My dear mother looked at me, said nothing, but smoothed my hair, and shook her head deprecatingly. She had predicted in my future something fearful from that dream, to know which troubled me greatly, - for to me everything seemed bright and beautiful, giving not a thought for the morrow, knowing nothing of sorrow or care, and firmly impressed with the idea that my after-life would be, as my childhood had been, a joyous and a happy one.
But, alas! those bright days have too quickly passed away; childhood's hours have fled too soon, and though I shall never be able to realize them again, they can never be effaced from my memory, and the recollection of them will always be green in my heart.
My parents not being blessed with more than a very limited share of this world's goods, made it incumbent upon us children, when arrived at a suitable age, to take some means of keeping the larder full at home; and to this fact am I indebted for being thrown upon my own resources at the early age of seventeen, to earn a livelihood for myself, and do battle with the bearded monster - cold and heartless as he is and was - the world. Unfortunately for me, I had an Aunt, - a perfect busybody, who generally knew more about the affairs of her friends and neighbors than she did of her own; and so extremely wicked were her designs, that she never was more happy than when, by the working of her venomed tongue, she was blasting the reputation or stabbing at the character of some one. Friend or foe, none escaped ; and at last I became the victim of her aspersion.
My Aunt was a Doctress, and resided near Owensville, Bath Co., Kentucky. She was very anxious that I should do her sewing, but was not at all willing to remunerate me for services rendered; and I very properly refused, feeling I could not afford, with justice
to myself, to be charitable in this respect, as I was wholly dependent upon my own exertions for a livelihood. Finding her wishes thwarted, she became very much incensed against me, and proceeded to heap her maledictions and invective upon my devoted head, and to vilify me in the most cruel manner. Knowing that I had never injured her in any manner, it was an enigma to me - the course my Aunt was pursuing; and I now experienced nothing but frowns and hate, where I had reason to expect smiles and love.
"I don't know how Aunt can be so cruel as to try to injure my reputation, which she knows full well is spotless," I said to my mother one day, in a distressed tone; "and as nothing I can say or do will change her course, - reconciliation being out of the question, - I am determined to leave home. Perhaps when I am gone, she will repent of her actions towards me, and probably try to make amends. At all events, I shall not be subjected to the humiliation of hearing her sow broadcast her calumnies, with no means at hand to defend myself. Time, the arbitrator of all things, will yet justify me in the eyes of those to whom she (my Aunt) has defamed me."
With this object in view, I went to my eldest sister, who was then residing near Howard's Mills, on the road leading from Mount Sterling to Mudlick Spring. To her I told my troubles and anxieties, and acquainted her with my intention of seeking a new home, to which she readily assented.
Mrs. Turley, a charitable and humane lady residing close by, whom we took into our confidence, and who promised to aid me in my new endeavor, a short time after introduced me to a Mr. Bonden. a wealthy old gentleman of the neighborhood, to whom she highly recommended me as a good girl in search of a home. Mr. Bonden invited me to call at his house the next day, and see Mrs. Bonden; which I did. This lady
seemed very much pleased with my appearance, and after learning a portion of my history, promised that I should have a good home with her; for which I thanked her most heartily, telling her she should never have reason to regret the confidence then placed in me - a perfect stranger.
I had resided at Mrs. Bonden's about five weeks, - five of the pleasantest I had spent for many month's before, - and had begun to think that life's darkest page had been blotted out from my horoscope, and that now, and in the future, everything would be bright and beautiful. But my fond expectations were, alas! doomed to be dashed rudely to the ground, for, about the time I speak of, I was one day startled by a visit from my mother, who requested me to accompany her home, giving as her reason for such request that my Aunt still persisted in circulating terrible reports about me, which my absence tendered to confirm, proof strong as holy writ, and that the only way the foul stain could be removed from my pure and spotless character, was to immediately return home, and let my friends and neighbors see for themselves that my Aunt's most fiendish reports were false.
"Great heavens," I thought, "what motive urges this woman what object can she have in view, what aim to be attained, in thus wilfully maligning me, and trying to blast, beyond a hope of recovery, the fame and character of one who never has in thought, word, or deed, knowingly injured a hair of her head?"
To me it was an inexplicable mystery; and as I could not answer the question, the only relief I found was in tears - a woman's solace when all things else fail. This was to me the first bitter trial of my life, for the pangs I now felt were more poignant than any I afterward experienced, - from the fact of my youth and inexperience I had not as yet learned to grapple with the monster - world, and felt despondent and
heart-sick. It was hard to give up my new home, for to me it had indeed been a good home. Mr. and Mrs. Bonden had been very kind, and treated me with all the love and affection a child of their own could expect; and the parting from them seemed to sunder ties felt only between parents and offspring.
But my own mother wished it to be so, and to her better judgment, though much against my own feelings, I yielded, and once again entered my paternal abode. On the Sabbath following my arrival at home, I went to Saltwell Church. After service, returning home alone, I met an acquaintance, Mr. Hamilton, a young man residing in our neighborhood, who addressed me in his usual abrupt and eccentric manner, as follows, -
"Miss Kate, have you any objections to a young man, who is not at all inclined to matrimony, going home with you."
I laughingly replied in the negative and we pursed our way together, soon overtaking a cousin of mine, who earnestly requested us to accompany her to her house, adding that she was aware mother and myself were not on the best of terms but that she was not to blame for that, and did not wish any ill feeling to exist between herself and me on that account, as she could not control her mother's actions.
"Nor her tongue either," I added.
"No, Kate," said she; "would to God I could."
She also stated that her mother would be absent during the balance of the day; and to please my cousin, I very unwisely determined to accompany her home, for I did not really blame my cousin, or harbor any ill-will against her on her mother's account, knowing she was not accountable for her parent's misdeeds.
After remaining at her house for some time, and just as Mr. Hamilton and myself were preparing to leave, my Aunt came in, sneeringly remarking as she saw Mr. Hamilton, that his choice of company would
do him more harm than good. He seemingly paid no attention to this venomous fling at myself, or, if he did, treated it with silent contempt, which had the effect of only further enraging my Aunt. For the succeeding two years, Mr. Hamilton was my regular and only escort to church, and such other places as I visited in the meantime, which was a source of great annoyance to my envious Aunt, who was sorely galled to find her efforts thwarted in poisoning this gentleman's mind against me. Things went on quietly for a while, Mr. Hamilton still waiting upon me.
One day, sitting together in my mother's house, he proposed marriage to me, in his abrupt and brusque way. He being the last man in the world from whom I had any reason to expect overtures of that kind, - for during our two years' intimacy he never broached the subject of love in my presence, - I hardly knew what to think, and felt a great deal embarrassed. But finally coming to myself, I reminded him of the remark he made on a certain Sabbath, about two years ago, and asked him how he reconciled his present course with the argument used then.
He answered, "Kate, time works many changes. Man is a creature of circumstances, and must adapt himself to them. What we firmly believe is right today, - to-morrow, perhaps, we reject, owing to governing circumstances, as certainly wrong. My convictions have undergone a change, and I should not be held accountable for language used two years ago in relation to a matter as important to me as this is to-day. I wish to get married, settle down, have something to love and live for. I love you. Be my wife, and I think we can be happy."
Most earnestly thanking him for the compliment he had paid me, - the greatest a man can offer to any woman, - I replied, "that I never could marry him. I respected him as a very dear friend, - would be very
sorry to lose his friendship, but I never could entertain sentiments of love - the love which a wife ought to feel for a husband - towards him."
After this interview, a coldness grew up between us, at least on his part, for I could not cease to respect him as a very dear friend. But a short time after I had more than reason to congratulate myself in not returning his passion and linking my destiny with his, for if his love for me had been pure and unselfish, he would not have yielded to a first denial so easily, and transplanted his affections so quickly as he did. For he made the same professions of love to my cousin a short time afterward, with whom he fared no better, she having discarded him for a wealthy old widower, who was a better "catch" in her eyes on that account. Before doing this, however, she did not fail to taunt me with having supplanted me in the affections of Mr. Hamilton. But I was willing to let her enjoy this seeming triumph, not telling her that I had already discarded him. I did tell her, though, that any woman ought to be proud of Mr. Hamilton's love, as I believed, where he really loved, he would make a good husband.
It is an old adage that "curses, like chickens, come home to roost;" and in my Aunt's case I had ample opportunity to see the adage verified, for the injuries she had striven to heap upon me recoiled upon herself and family tenfold. My cousin lay sick, upstairs, at her brother-in-law's. When I first became aware of the fact, I could not repress the smile of satisfaction that broke out over my face, but my better nature soon asserted its sway, and I felt as deeply for them as though they had never tried to injure me. I even sympathized deeply with my unfortunate cousin, who, having failed to gain the much coveted affections and wealth of the widower, now as a last resort tried every means to regain the affections of Mr. Hamilton, and even affected tears, by covering her eyes with her
handkerchief. Although Mr. Hamilton was entirely innocent of the sin and shame she endured, it was too late to revoke the past, and he could not yield to her entreaties in regard to matrimony. Soon after this my Aunt started for Cass County, Mo. Upon their arrival my Aunt's son wrote to me requesting correspondence, to which I agreed. We had corresponded for some time, when he ceased writing, and I lost all trace of him.
One year had passed, when Mr. Rice, one of our neighbors, went to Missouri, and on his return my cousin accompanied him and greatly surprised me by a visit. He begged pardon for his negligence in not writing. In excuse, he alleged that he had been across the plains with an Indian trader. He related the many adventures through which he had passed; how he came near starving to death, to prevent which, they were obliged to kill their oxen; also, how often he had lain on the ground with his boots for a pillow, when the rain came down in torrents, not only drenching, but almost drowning him. He stated also that the trader had with him a woman, who loved and trusted him, whom he sold, together with her three innocent children, to the wild and savage Indians, never more to return to their native land.
Such were the wretches with whom he was associated: who for a paltry sum could sell their own flesh and blood, to be slaves to the savage hordes who inhabit the western wilds. It seems my cousin could not ingratiate himself with those traders so as to become popular among them, therefore tried to expose them merely for revenge.
He came home in destitute circumstances after all his hardships, having been cheated out of his wages which I doubt not was the truth. I soon learned the object of his visit. He told me in his usual whining pining sing-song way, how he had loved me from
childhood, and could not endure life without me, &c., adding, that he had land in the State of Kansas, and was prepared to settle. He built a great many air castles, and held out many luring inducements and fair promises. Alas for the deceit of man!
It never occurred to me to doubt my cousin's assertions, so I listened, enraptured, whilst he erected hundreds of air-castles.
But enough! Suffice it to say, we were married, December 5, 1858 near Howard's Mills, Montgomery County, Kentucky. Early in March we started for Missouri. On arriving at Cincinnati he lacked a small amount of bearing our expenses. Then he concluded to go to Lawrenceburg, Indiana. We did so, and on arriving there stopped at Fich's Hotel, and engaged board at one dollar and fifty cents apiece per week. My husband had stopped there to earn money enough to pay our way to Missouri, and so I thought I would rather earn a dollar and fifty cents than to see it paid out, and with this conclusion sought the landlady, and asked her for sewing. She gave me all she had, and paid me my price when done. Then I engaged to sew for Mrs. Gasly. One day my husband came in and asked me for the key of my trunk. When I found he was in earnest, I refused, thinking he was a little too presuming, if he was my husband. Then he told me he wanted my pocket-book, and to be quick or he would break the trunk open.
This was high authority! I then inquired if he had spent all the money he had when we started; for I knew he had no other expenses except to pay for his board; - as for mine, I had paid for it by sewing. (The money I had in my pocket-book was a parting gift from my dear mother, which she advised me to keep till I got into trouble, which she predicted would not be far distant; and I determined to do as she told me.) I knew then for the first time
that he had the disposition of his mother, and thought it would be wrong and make matters worse for me to humor him. We went to my room and I took the pocket-book out of my trunk; he said nothing, thinking I intended to give it to him, but to his disappointment I went out and gave it to Mrs. Gasly for safekeeping. In giving her an explanation why I wished her to take care of it, of course I disclosed to her that my husband had spent his money.
The next morning Mr. Fich called on Mr. Griffin (my husband) for his board; but, as before stated, he had spent his money, consequently he could not pay him. He had done nothing while at this place except to nail on about two thousand shingles, lapping them all the wrong way, which I learned by Mrs. Fich coming to my room and asking my husband's occupation. I told her he was a farmer. She said that Griffin had imposed himself on her son for a carpenter. I did not say anything to him that evening; he noticed my dejection and asked the cause. I told him I was thinking about going home to Kentucky.
"What in the name of God is the matter?" he exclaimed.
"Why, I mean, if you are not going to pursue a different course, I had better return to my friends."
"What have I been doing wrong?" he exclaimed.
"Do you intend me to support you with my needle?" I said.
"He replied that he knew no other way, for Mr. Fich was going to charge all his wages for the shingles spoiled."
"Well," said I, "you know that pulling them off after being nailed would destroy them. You cannot expect him to lose the shingles and allow you the same amount per day as though you had done the work right. You have spent all your money foolishly since you have been here, and it seems to me you
expect me to make our whole support. I intend to do all I can to help make a living; but I had no idea when we were married that you would expect such a thing of me as this!"
Then he requested me to tell him what to do, and he would do it.
"I think it would be best for you to go to the country and obtain work on a farm; you know you are a farmer," was my advice.
The next morning he started to the country to work for a man, but when ready, he had no money to hire a hack; so I gave him the money I had been sewing for - and also some money that my mother gave me - and told him to hire a hack, and buy the necessary articles of clothing that he needed, and not to spend the rest till he needed it. "Why? why?" he asked. But I did not say why; I did not say anything; but, oh! I thought my heart was breaking; and the great knots were swelling in my throat, and I could not answer. I saw my future; and had I been resolute enough then to have gone home, how much better it would have been for me! I thought of it and pondered many long days and nights. But it is no easy task for a woman to leave her husband, even if she be resigned to the separation. If her husband is disposed to dispute her authority, she is just like a slave, subject to all his selfish interrogations, as, "Why are you not content with this, that, or the other?" and then he looks unutterables on hearing her responses; and if she leave, he will follow her and command her to return home, just as if she were his property sure enough. This I knew my husband would do, and I loved him and could not endure the idea of being harassed by him. Had I been sure I should never have seen him, I should have gone; for I saw too plainly my darkened future, and shuddered at the vision. I prepared to go with him, and packed some of our clothes; the rest
we left with the landlord till he could pay the seven dollars board he owed. In a few hours we arrived at our temporary home, and my husband and the gentleman walked out to view the farm and form plans for the work. I was anxious to start for Missouri, and thought if I could pay my own board he could save money so much sooner to defray our expenses. So I asked the lady. I told her if she could give me as much sewing as would pay my board, I should be willing to do it, as I had nothing to engage me. She was pleased with the proposition and said it would suit her better than the money, as she had sore eyes. We soon had money enough to make another start, and so I told her I would pay my board till I arranged our clothes for that purpose. But she declared she must have her sewing done, and said she would acquaint my husband and have him force me to do it. I thought I was besieged by everything that was evil. The family were accustomed to having worship, but I refused to attend on this evening, telling them I could pray for myself. I felt discouraged with everything, and I called my husband to my room and told him all that had occurred during his absence, and requested him to get another boarding-house for me till we could get ready to start. "You have been a good wife to me," he said, "and none shall impose on you while I live." He then went to Mr. Small's to get board for me, which he succeeded in doing, and had a hack in readiness, when the lady made her appearance at the door. "Had you not better thank me for my generosity in taking you in as a stranger?"
"Perhaps the obligation is on the other side," I returned.
"Well, well," she interrupted, "if you do not stay as long as I wish you to, I shall not pay you for what you have done."
"There may be something in our laws that will
compel you," I returned, as I rushed from the house to the hack, through a drenching rain, feeling as one who was escaping from prison.
"I do not wish you to leave my house as though you were obliged to," she called; but I was gone.
What a change to get to Mr. Small's! I felt as if I was in paradise - they were so kind. In two weeks my husband received the money due him and me, and then he announced his intention of visiting Aurora, a small town in Indiana. I called him back, and put my arms around his neck, determined to win him from temptation, if possible, by affection and said, -
"Dear husband, don't go; you know your failing, and must not spend your money. I am sure you have had trouble enough. Take my advice this time, and don't go."
"I shall not spend it at all," he declared, as he released himself from my arms and walked off.
That promise was easily made, but not so easily kept; and when in the evening he started home, Aurora possessed half his money.
In August we went to Aurora; and after he had paid his board-bill to Fich, we got on a boat and started for Kansas City. Our means being limited, we were forced to take deck passage; and oh! I can never express my feelings as I stood on the dingy deck of that boat - among the rude class that took passage there because they were either too poor to take first-class fare, or did not care - and thought how I was leaving all that was dear to me, and going to a strange, wild country; and with one, too, who did not love me as a man should love the wife who has given up every friend on earth to follow him. Some strange and wild thoughts forced themselves on my mind; but I indulged in them only a moment, and then resolved that I had taken him for better or for worse, and would do the best I could.
After a weary journey we arrived at Kansas City, and he hired a carriage to take us to his mother's.
"Do not take me to your mother's," I pleaded; "I am sure we shall never be happy. We did not speak when last we met; how can I go to her house?"
"Oh, Kate," he said, impatiently, "there will be no difficulty at all. I only wish you to treat mother with respect."
I was sure of having a home in Kansas - and so I told him - and that I did not think that he would wish me to go to his mother's. But I found he was inexorable. I had placed myself in his hands, and now I had as well follow patiently his will.
We started, and I fell into a profound reverie. My heart was not in that wild wood; it had wandered back to my early home, and was there with the loved ones; for although I loved my husband, I had lost confidence in him, and I felt as the maniac who wanders at random - I knew not where I was going till I had started. At length I was aroused from my musings by my husband's voice, and I was astonished to see the sun had set, and the cold gray twilight had enveloped the earth. It was a gloomy road, and every minute the gloom grew more intense. There were very many meanderings in the road, on each side of which were thick woods, closely interspersed with underbrush and foliage, while the tops of the great trees canopied the way, entirely excluding what little light there was, and permitting us only to catch an occasional glimpse of a twinkling star through small openings in the foliage. The whippoorwill's shrill note came out on the still night-air, and was mournfully answered by one in the distance - then another, and another, till there seemed to be ten thousand of these night-warblers carolling the same lonesome, melancholy strain. Just then we came to a very dark turn in the road, and as the faithful animal pursued his way unguided, I imagined I saw some horrid-looking men crouched beneath the underbrush that skirted the road. I was too much frightened to speak, so I
only clung nearer to my husband, who seemed dearer to me in this wild place than ever before - and foolishly felt more safe. Just then a cony rushed from the thicket and ran across the road, and an owl settled down, with his dull too-hoo, on the limb of an old dead tree just above our heads, the fragments of a small branch falling in my lap. A moment after I was abashed at my own weakness, and thought I would overcome it; but that weakness soon returned as the darkness grew denser and the windings in the road more frequent and rugged. The tired horse lagged, not seeming to like the gloom any better than we. My husband felt the gloom as well as I, and sought to alleviate it by singing, in a clear tenor voice, "Home, sweet Home," which sounded to me wholly in unison with the solemn notes of the night-birds; and when he concluded the first verse, I begged him to keep still.
Our way became very difficult to find, and, coming in sight of a rude log hut, we determined to tarry there over night, if permission could be obtained. We drove up to the fence, and he called aloud several times before a response came. Then a woman made her appearance - told us she could only give us lodging, and said, as she was alone with her little children, she did not wish to answer at first. We occupied the same room she did - it being only a rickety old hut or cabin.
At a late hour in the night I was startled by the light of a candle shining full in my face. On looking, I saw two suspicious-looking men standing in the door with a huge knife, which they were examining.
I hurriedly awoke my husband, and he grasped his pistols, thinking he was about to be robbed. But they excused themselves by asserting that they were preparing to start on a hunting excursion. Be this as it may, the rest of the night was spent in restless suspense, and we made our exit early on the following morning. At two o'clock we reached his mother's, and she met us
with open arms, and so kindly that I began to think that perhaps I might live there in some degree of happiness. But this hallucination was soon discovered and I realized my destiny just as I did in my first contemplation.
MY mother-in-law met us at the gate with open arms, to receive us. It was a glorious day in summer; the sky of unsullied blue seemed to smile upon us in all its pristine beauty. Not a leaf rustled or a breeze whispered to mar the serenity of this sweet repose.
My mother-in-law gazed on me with a longing eye, and as I returned the gaze, I felt a cold chill creep all through my veins and settle down upon my heart. Oh! how I missed the genial warmth and out-gushing love which I was accustomed to receive from my own dear mother, and all the loveliness which surrounded her happy home. I could but be silent for a time. The bitter, bitter feelings of regret seemed to come surging up from my heart and threatened to deluge me in tears. With a great effort at self-control I tried to be agreeable. I imagined at first, that my mother-in-law had learned to curb her temper. But, alas! I too soon learned that she was the same she used to be: this was a grievous trial to me. I resolved to bear it all patiently. The house was near the road leading from Paoli City, Kansas, to Cold Water Grove, Missouri.
My mother-in-law's apparent kindness soon ceased,
and I became the offcast of the family, the servant of them all.
I learned, to my horror, by my mother-in-law, not long after my arrival there, that my husband had completely deceived me in everything he represented; he had no horses, his land in Kansas had been sold for debt, and he had borrowed sixty dollars from Mr. Rice to pay his expenses to Kentucky, which was and ever would be unpaid; that he could not support a wife, and would be compelled to live with her. My mother-in-law took in strangers and travellers, which very much increased the household duties, the most of which devolved upon me. I bore these burdens patiently for a time, flattering myself that we should soon go to housekeeping. But now I was completely disheartened; notwithstanding, I did not despair. One evening I persuaded my husband to take a walk with me, that I might have a chance of speaking to him, unheard by any other, in reference to housekeeping.
"Can we not go to housekeeping?" I interrogated, when we had walked a short distance from the house.
"Go to housekeeping, indeed!" he repeated with astonishment. "How can you presume such a ridiculous thing? Where is anything to commence with? I am sure you must be insane."
"Oh no, I am not," I pleaded; "I know we have nothing to commence with, as you say, but we can get something; we can soon earn something. I am not afraid to work."
"Nonsense, nonsense," said he; "I am not going to discommode myself to do anything of the kind."
"But we can never live happily here," I suggested.
"As for the happiness, we are just as well off here. I am satisfied we can do no better. I am not at all incumbered with work here, which, you know, is quite a bore to me; and I have not the least idea of relinquishing such a comfortable position, just to please you."
"But, my dear husband," I interrupted, "just think of the innumerable duties that are incumbent on me; all of which are indispensably necessary for me to perform in order to keep peace."
"Yes, to be sure, Kate, your duties are a little arduous; but you don't seem to mind it."
"No, I have not," I haughtily retorted, "because I was in hopes we should soon go away, and it was very bearable for a time; but now I feel I have quietly submitted as long as possible;" and I cried aloud with vexation and disappointment.
"Pshaw! Kate; there is no call for all those tears, and I wish them dispensed with immediately. I am quite sure, were we housekeeping, you would find just as much to busy yourself about as here. Your disposition is just the reverse of mine: you can amuse yourself with work, while I detest it; you seem happier while thus engaged, while I am thoroughly disgusted; so come now, Kate, I know you too well to indulge in the faintest idea that the labor avails anything with you."
"But I can not, I will not live here," I declared.
"What do you propose to do?" he demanded.
"Anything, anything," I answered, "is preferable to living, here."
"I wish you did not have quite so much head," he ejaculated impatiently."Why are you not, like other women, content with the home your husband gives you, and submit yourself patiently to the disposition he makes. God gave man more wisdom than woman; and every good woman, knowing this, will be submissive and wholly resigned to her husband's better judgment."
This speech made me indignant, and called forth a fresh gush of tears. I knew God originally gave man more wisdom than woman, but I could not bring myself to think at that time that his wisdom exceeded mine;
for I believed it deficient. But I did not say so; I did not say anything; I only felt that man exercised a great deal more power than God ever commissioned him to, and that I had made a mistake my whole life could not recall.
"This weeping is a great source of annoyance to me," continued my husband,"and I wish you to cease right away. There is no use of further supplication, for my resolution is irrevocably fixed. I shall remain here; so there's an end to it! But, Kate," he said, softening his tone a little and drawing me toward him, "I expect you are a little homesick, but you will feel better by-and-by. Don't give up to such reflections."
I was homesick, but his softening tone did not console me any, and I involuntarily shrunk from his embrace with disgust. He noticed my feelings, and turned away with a slightly heightened color, mentally terming me, to himself, "vixen!" and his countenance assumed a haughtier air as we walked on in silence.
At length I broke the silence by saying, "Shall we not at least make an effort? If we never try, we will never do anything; and surely we need not wait with the expectation of manna falling, by which we may become enriched. Our happiness depends upon our own exertions, not upon others'; and oh! I am sure we shall never be happy here." My husband sneered contemptuously at this last remark, and I quietly ventured, "Heaven helps those that help themselves." I do not wish to speak any more disrespectfully of him than he merits, but I must say he expressed his contempt for my last remark by something between the grunt of a pig and the growl of a dog.
I did not feel disposed to continue this exasperating and fruitless discussion; neither did he, and the silence was not broken till we reached home.
"Oh, mother!" exclaimed my husband, on entering the house, "Kate has been almost tormenting me to
death to go to housekeeping, and we can't, can we?" and he looked at his mother just as a spoiled child who was asking something very inconsistently, but nevertheless sure of getting it.
"You can not - of course you can not," responded his mother; "the idea is perfectly preposterous! and I am astonished beyond measure. Truly, Kate's discretion is not worth a fig! You are not competent to dictate for yourselves in the smallest matter. Now, let this twiddle-twaddle abate altogether."
My husband assumed the air of a conqueror as he triumphantly glanced from his mother to me. I met his glance with a look of defiance. I could endure my husband's tyranny, for I loved him; but when I realized that there was an umpire, I felt the hot blood rush to my cheeks; and, being unable to control myself, I burst forth in language expressive of my indignation.
"That will do, Kate," commanded my husband; "that will do. I am not prepared to hear such murmurings from you. It is very unbecoming and imprudent; besides, I shall not allow it. I told you we were to remain here - I thought you understood it. Why this idle murmuring? Mother knows best, and you are in duty bound to observe this and obey her injunctions, like a good child. And if you do not feel disposed to comply more readily and willingly with her wishes, I shall have to be under the disagreeable necessity of compelling you to!"
Of all the horrible thoughts and agonizing feelings that ever torture woman's soul, I think it must be while listening to such vituperation and reproach as this from the lips of a husband. I admit that it is often necessary, and even right, for the husband to reprove his wife, animadversion at times will not injure any of us, - but if he can not exercise as much compassion with her as a mother monkey would, then
he had better go to the wilderness, where he will have free scope to exercise his power and exhibit his turpitude without breaking any hearts.
Finding all my efforts abortive to convince him of the impropriety of remaining there, I concluded to be patient for the time being, and tried to put aside all thoughts of discontent. Time passed on, but brought no change for me. I was invariably passed off for the hired girl; scolded, and even accused of stealing.
I could not endure it all patiently. One night, after I had finished a large washing, two strange gentlemen called, and wished to stay all night. I was in the habit of arranging supper with great taste, in order to draw custom, so they might make more money; but I was never recompensed with a kind word, a pleasant look, or even a smile from any of the family.
As I was wearily arranging the washing apparatus, I overheard mother-in-law remarking something about her hired girl (meaning myself, as there was no other girl about the house). Just then my husband entered the kitchen. I said pleasantly, "Please build a fire to get supper - there is no wood cut." He turned away indifferently, and said, "Tell Harve to." I asked Harve, and he replied, "Tell Frank to." I thought I could not cut wood, build the fire, and get supper too, when so nearly exhausted with my day's work, and all the boys lounging around; so I called on each one separately, until the fourth - the youngest - had been called on, but invariably received the same answer - to tell some one else to do it, mother-in-law came to order supper. I respectfully said to her, "Please to have a fire made." "Get one made the best way you can," was her quick response, - just as though she thought me obliged to cook it any way, which I always had done in the quickest manner. As she left the kitchen with a most contemptible hauteur, she exclaimed, "Now hurry, Kate: those are nice gentlemen ; they are both from Kentucky."
My only answer was, "I'll do my part toward supper." As I was very tired, I determined I would not cut the wood, and build the fire, for those four good-for-nothing, lazy boys. So I made some nice corn-bread and biscuit, and placed them in the oven; filled the coffee-pot with cold water, cut some ham, put it in a vessel, and placed both on the cold stove ; then I deliberately seated myself by the light to sew. After waiting an unusual length of time, and no sign of supper, my mother-in-law appeared at the door, and blandly asked, "Is it not time to set the table?" "Set it whenever you want to," I replied. Then she leisurely walked in, opened the oven-door, said "the bread does not brown any," and returned to finish her tête-à-tête with the gentlemen. In a few moments she reappeared, and speaking with some surprise, said, "Supper not ready yet?" and as before went to the stove and opened the oven door, exclaiming, "It is strange the bread don't brown;" then she opened the stove-door to stir the fire, when, lo! to her great consternation, - there was not a spark of fire. This aroused her indignation to the highest pitch; she glared her malicious eyes on me and commenced her usual tirade of abuse. I silently arose and left her "to get the fire made the best way she could."
She then ordered my husband to build a fire. Imagine her chagrin as the bread was placed on the table in a semi-baked condition, owing to the gradual heating of the stove. It looked as though it had been sun-dried - full of great cracks as it was. She threw herself in a chair, near the table, with a grunt declaring "she had rather cook supper herself than have such as this."
"Do it yourself," said I, "you have no one else to do it for you. This is what you get for putting on airs; representing me as your hired girl. I am your own son's wife, and do not think it any credit either: it was the worst day's work that I ever did when I
married him; and if there is no alteration in him for the better soon, I intend to get rid of a 'bad bargain,' (she often said she made a bad bargain whim she married, and stuck to it.) So you had better keep quiet, - giving her a meaning glance, - if you do not want me to give the whole pedigree of your family." Then directing my conversation to the guests, I continued: "Whatever I do once, is left for me to do all the time; I am ordered about like the veriest servant. I generally try to get along the best I can by submitting patiently, to avoid all the discord I possibly can. But when imposition is added to imposition, insults and abuse, in endless variety, until patience ceases to be a virtue; and to-night when she (whom I consider, if anything, my inferior in every respect) capped the climax by representing me to you as her hired girl; my human nature could endure it no longer. Therefore, gentlemen, I hope you will excuse me. I was not taught to discuss family affairs in the presence of strangers; but as they were not introduced by me, I hope you will pardon me for this impropriety - if so it may be called - for, as I said before, I could endure it no longer." I ceased speaking, and supper was concluded in silence.
Thus time passed wearily along, but brought no change to me; besides my own trials, I was obliged to witness continual scenes of discord in the family. And at last, when I became sick, it was almost unendurable. My mother-in-law, to be sure, had a great deal to vex her, and no patience or self-control. One day she became exceedingly exasperated with my husband and man that he was, almost whipped him; she seized him by the hair with both hands and started toward the door, when some of the other members of the family tried to separate them; but she succeeded in getting him out, and commanded him to leave the house. In a moment I heard the report of a pistol, and thinking that my husband was shot, I sprang from the bed and
ran to the door in great fright. My mother-in-law seeing me, screamed to me to go back to bed; it would kill me to expose myself so; that no one was hurt; that my husband had the gun to shoot her with. My child was then only three days old. I succeeded in getting some one to call him to me before he left, and I told him I would not stay if he left. He told me he would go and obtain a place for me to board, and return for me. "Indeed you shall not take her away while sick," declared my mother-in-law; and she overruled him, and I was obliged to stay.
Two weary weeks passed before I was able to sit up, and then I took cold by occupying a damp room, and was sick just as long again. When I recovered so as to be able to sit up again, my mother-in-law told me I must be housekeeper, as she anticipated going to stay with a sick lady. The household duties were arduous, and I was overtasked; and again I was thrown back and was sick for six weeks, and perhaps should have perished had it not been for Mrs. Kennet, the lady that lived in the other end of the house. She was very kind to me, and did all she could for my comfort. I was just able to sit up again when my mother-in-law came home, and was almost driven to distraction by hearing her dissatisfied and contemptuous complaints in reference to the neglect of the house and other necessary things, that should have been done, but which was quite impossible for me to accomplish under the circumstances, I being so very weak from my severe and protracted illness, and no one to do anything to help me, but the boys, who did not know how to do anything, scarcely, had they been ever so much inclined. She scolded and stormed; told me there was nothing the matter of me, only deceit; that it was all an excuse to get rid of the work. I made no reply, but could not help wishing in my heart, that something might happen her, that she might suffer only half as much as I had. I
resolved to let her wait on herself; that I would not make myself sick again by over-work, let her say what she would.
My husband spent all his time for her, and was doing nothing toward our support - independent of her. I determined, if ever I got able, and my husband would not go to himself, to hire out somewhere as a seamstress. Soon after this my mother-in-law started for Kansas. The ground being covered with sleet, she accidentally fell, broke her arm, and put her wrist out of place. She came home in the morning in a great deal of pain, and told me how it happened. I was truly sorry - she seemed to be suffering so much; and I dressed the wound as tenderly as possible, pinned on her clothes, and washed her face and hands. She cried, and I thought perhaps I was not quite tender enough, and asked her if I hurt her. "No no," she answered, "no one could be more tender." Perhaps she was thinking of her treatment of me.
As soon as I had recovered sufficiently to resume my labor, she commenced to take in boarders again. One evening, as I was sitting in the door, I noticed two men coming in the gate. They asked for lodging for the night. "You can get lodging at Mrs. Kennet's," I said, and then went in, where mother-in-law was ready to lecture me for sending them away. But I did not mind it much - it was too common a thing. My mother-in-law moved the next day, but I did not go with her; I remained with Mrs. Kennet. My husband also remained there, having entered into an agreement to work for Mr. Kennet. We remained there two months, and then went to housekeeping. My husband was very kind to me until I became sick. Then his mother told him I would never be well again; would only be an expense on his hands; and that it would be a good thing if he was rid of me. One day he went after his mother. I begged him not to go for her; I
did not wish to see her; but he paid no attention to me, and went right along. I had just arisen for the girl to arrange my bed, when she came in.
"Let me smooth your hair while sitting up," she suggested.
"No, no, thank you," I replied ; "I feel quite sick; I must return to the bed."
"Why did you send for me?" she angrily demanded.
"I did not," responded I; "my husband did it, and not I."
She then angrily smote me in the face, and glanced at the gun, trying to frighten me, and asked if it was loaded.
"You shall not do that," said my husband; "you will get into trouble. I will fix it satisfactorily for you some day."
I gradually grew worse; and one day, while alone with my husband, I asked him for a drink.
"They have just brought fresh water in the next house," he answered; "and I will get you a drink in a moment." He took a pitcher, and was gone so long that my thirst was great when he returned with it. I took a hearty drink, but it did not alleviate my thirst in the least, and I kept constantly asking for more. My stomach began to burn. I turned blind and frothed at the mouth. I thought I was suffocating, and raised up in the bed. Then he came and forced me back in bed, and held me there till I told him I would scream if he did not release me - that I believed I was poisoned. He released me, and turned away with a condemned countenance. I managed to make my way into the other house. There was no one there but a little girl, twelve years old, who gave me a chair. Just then Mr. and Mrs. Davidson came home, and they asked me what was the matter - if I felt worse?
"I believe I have been poisoned," I answered. "I can not see, and am almost suffocated with the foam that comes in my mouth."
She immediately placed a bed on the floor, where I could get the fresh air, and made a very strong cup of tea, and gave me a batter-cake swimming in butter, which she said would perhaps destroy the poison; and which certainly helped me, for I ceased to froth at the mouth, and soon felt better. My husband was all attention, and said he would get a doctor; and late in the night he returned with one. I do not remember much that transpired that night, only that I was aroused frequently to take medicine. The next morning I was removed to my own room, and left alone with my husband. He gave me two doses of medicine that morning, and I became thirsty, as before. He immediately noticed it, and hastily said, "I must go to Harrisonville; and when I have been gone an hour, you must take the other dose."
I was not quite certain that I had taken poison from his hand. I was frightened on the preceding day, and thought so then; but he had been so kind to me since that I could not believe it now, and tried to bring myself to think that I had done very wrong in suspecting him for such an incredible thing. My thirst increased, and the time came for me to take my medicine. He gave me two doses of medicine, and then noticing my thirst increasing he again said, "I am going to Harrisonville, and when I am gone one hour, you must take the other dose. Don't put it in the cup first, but pour in cold coffee and mix in the medicine. I put it in a cup to mix it, and observing its green appearance, thought I would not take it; it looked like blue-stone and quicksilver, and something white was mixed with it. On taking another drink, I commenced to froth at the mouth, and then I felt sure that I had again taken poison.
"I shall not stay with my husband," I soliloquized bitterly to myself: "There is a better way to get rid of me than to poison me;" and after pondering a while,
I told the girl that was staying with me to assist me to Mr. Meed's, - that I had business there, and must go. The girl looked at me searchingly, as if to determine whether I was insane or not; and then, half murmuringly, she did as I requested.
It was but a short distance to Mrs. Meed's, but I thought I should never reach there, being obliged to recline on the ground several times. I was so exhausted when I reached there that I could hardly speak. She did not recognize me; but on being informed by the hired girl who I was, she asked me in and gave me a chair.
"Mrs. Meed," I commenced, "I believe I have twice taken poison from my husband, and I do not wish to stay with him any longer. I want to go home to Kentucky just as soon as I am sufficiently recovered; and I have sought your hospitality to ascertain if I may be permitted to stay here until I am somewhat recovered."
She kindly consented for me to stay, which took quite a load from my mind; and I was thinking of home and the loved ones there, almost oblivious of my trouble, when my husband came in. He requested me to go home; but I would not go home - he could not persuade me.
Mrs. Turley, a lady from Kentucky, lived but a short distance, and I thought could I only get there, how much better it would be, as she was an old friend, and would term me no incumbrance. So I suggested this idea, and Mr. Meed advised my husband to get a conveyance and take me there. He acceded to this proposal, and in the evening I started with him to go there. He had my trunks in the carriage; also a box containing his razors. When we arrived at the crossroads, instead of proceeding on the road leading to Mrs. Turley's, he turned into the one leading to his half-brother's.
"What is the meaning of this?" I demanded; "surely you do not intend to take me to your brother's?"
"You are my wife," he answered; "I shall do just as I feel disposed; if I choose to kill you, I shall do it."
"But I shall not go there," I declared, now wholly exasperated; and taking the razors from the box, I told him I would kill him rather than go there. He was driving, having the child on his lap; and, understanding me rightly, he jumped out of the carriage, with the child in his arms. It was but a short distance to Mrs. Turley's, and as I was afraid to drive the horses, I tried to walk; but I soon became exhausted and was obliged to lie down, till observed by some of the family, who assisted me to the house. There was some one of the family sick; and a doctor being there, he also prescribed for me, and I received all possible attention. Feeling much better on the following morning, I asked for my child.
"She is with a lady, who will take good care of her," replied Mrs. Turley. "You can not have her; your husband told me you took a razor to cut her head off. How can you presume to ask for her ? - you know well that you are not competent to raise her. You are an Abolitionist, too. I don't care, for my part, what they do with you; but," she continued, "to satisfy you, I will tell you that your mother-in-law has your child."
Death and distraction! The idea of myself killing my own child - that they should believe it! I had always regarded Mrs. Turley as a true friend, but now I was convinced of my error. I felt confounded and almost senseless. "I am an Abolitionist, too!" I pondered; "I wonder what that means." I hardly knew what the word meant, and truly could not imagine what there could be so terrible (as she seemed to think) in that common noun - I not once imagining that a political party was represented by it.
I was quite alone now, - the last friend turned enemy, and my child taken from me. But we will pass over the recital of these reflections. In a few days Mr. Rice, my husband's friend, came there; and while conversing, he asked if I would like to have a carriage-ride.
"Oh, yes!" I eagerly replied. "I want to go to Mr. Grinter's and ask Mat to intercede with my husband to let me see my child."
"Very well," he replied, and we started for the carriage.
In passing the front door, I observed my mother-in-law conversing in low tones with Mrs. Turley, and it instantly flashed over my mind that there was some intrigue in the matter; but I had started, and I resolved not to turn back. When seated in the carriage my mother-in-law called on us to wait a moment for her. I saw now what they were up to, and, seizing the reins myself; drove off. At last, Rice got the reins in his own hands, and, despite my efforts, drove to my mother-in-law's house, and then laughingly told me that I had better go and see my child. I did not wish to go into her house; still I wanted to see my little child so badly that I did not hesitate, but went in directly. I found the child sitting on the floor, playing, and looking so pale that I could hardly believe it was my little Myrtle - she having so much changed in so short a time. By-and-by my mother-in-law came in and scolded Mr. Rice a good deal for leaving her to walk so far.
"Well, well," I overheard him say, "I found I should have a great deal of trouble to get her here if I waited, and thought it better to go on."
My child was just nine months old then, and it was hard for me - oh, so hard - to leave her; but I could not stay there, and they would not let me have her; so I left her - (hoping that there would be a change,
that something would turn up before long to unite us again) - and went to Mrs. Grinter's, at Coldwater Grove. I told there all that had happened, and that I believed they were seeking to kill me, and that I did not intend to stay there a minute. This revelation - which I should have been more careful about, but for which I did not care then - got noised abroad, and my relatives were terribly chagrined.
Shortly after, my mother-in-law arrived at Mrs. Grinter's to fetch me to her home. She walked into the room, where we all were, without any ceremony, not even so much as to bid the time of day to Mr. and Mrs. Grinter, and in a very peremptory manner, said, "Kate, you shall go home; you shall stay here no longer."
"I thank you," said I; "I did not follow you here, and I shall not follow you back."
She then walked straight up to me, and taking hold of the back of my neck, made her way out of the door, pulling me out backwards. There was a descent of five steps from the door to the ground; and all this coming so unexpected to me, I fell, or rather tumbled, down to the ground; she in the meanwhile saying, "Will you dare refuse me?"
When I arose, she took hold of my hand and pulled me to the upper part of the yard. I was so weak that I could not prevent her from pulling me along, and I thought that if we kept on in this way, she would get me home at last; so I let myself fall to the ground. She then took up an old bridle that happened to lay there and raising it over my head, threatened to strike me with it if I did not obey her.
Mrs. Grinter then spoke to her and threatened her with the laws of the State if she did not let me alone. (Mrs. G. had been trained from childhood in purity and virtue. Exercise and temperance had given her health both of mind and body. She seemed that embodiment
of perfection, that affection loves to cling to.) My mother-in-law paid no attention whatever to this threat, but her anger seemed to increase. She then picked up a rock and came toward me with flashing eyes, raised it, and threatened to dash my brains out, saying, "You shall go home! you shall not stay here, after what has passed."
Mr. Grinter then interfered; and obliging her to lay the rock down, said, "What has this woman done that you threaten her in such a cruel manner?"
She then tried to lift me in her arms and carry me off by main force; but I tried the naughty child's play, fell limber, and struggled out of her arms. This experiment she tried several times, but with the same result; which so completely exasperated her, that her whole frame shook with indignation.
Stop! commanded Mr. Grinter. If any person had told me that you were such a woman as this, I should not have believed it; - besides, when I told you that it was reported that you abused your daughter-in-law, you denied it all; - but now I know it to be true; for I am an eye-witness to your cruelty and abuse. I shall spare no pains to acquaint my neighbors of the fact! Now I want you to leave my premises, and never intrude yourself here again, or any of your family. I have befriended you a great many times during our acquaintance, but I had not the least idea that you had such a cruel disposition. Then turning his eyes toward me, he said, God grant that she may be forever free from your cruel treatment such as this I never expected from an old gray-headed woman like you.
She very reluctantly left.
When I was sufficiently recovered to resume my work, I went to my mother-in-law's house for my thimble and some of my clothing. I did not feel safe in going there; but I needed my clothes, and I saw no
other way to obtain them. I asked her to let me have some of my clothes, remarking that I would trouble her no more, and that I was going home to Kentucky just as soon as I could earn money enough to defray my expenses.
"Why, have you forgotten your child?" she asked, in surprise.
"To be sure, I have not. That is the only tie I have in Missouri. I would be willing to suffer most anything for my child if it could do her any good; but I know well that my presence, instead of being a benefit, will only render her life more disagreeable; for undoubtedly she would often be made the recipient of punishment just to torture me. If I were here, I could not screen her from punishment; neither would I be permitted to teach her to do what I think is right. I know well I should not be permitted to train her at all; and, although I love my child wildly, I can better endure to be away from her than with her, and not have the privilege of even caressing her as my own child."
"But, look here now, Kate," said my mother-in-law, affecting tenderness, "do not be quite so sure. It is so late now; stay all night, and you shall be kindly treated. You are going to Kentucky, you say. I don't see how you can refuse to stay all night once with your child, if you love her. I am sure no tender mother would refuse to stay."
I studied some time, and was about to refuse, when little Myrtle - my dear little child - looked up into my face, and seemed to say, "stay". That look conquered; and before I knew what I was doing, I had said, "I will stay with my darling babe to-night."
After a while my husband came in. It was then quite dark, and we sat in an unlighted room.
"Kate," began my mother-in-law, "you have been speaking your mind pretty freely about us. What shall we do to keep you from talking?"
"Nothing - nothing at all," I answered.
"Well, Kate," put in my husband, "you are here now, and must remain."
"Must, indeed!" I ejaculated.
"Aye - must! You are my wife, you know, and must obey me."
"No, I am not your wife, and I do not pretend to claim you for my husband. I am going home just as soon as I get money enough. You can keep Myrtle - as you undoubtedly will - and I beg of you that you will raise her properly. As for myself, I am sure I do not wish your protection, and should not be here now had not your mother persuaded me, against my will, to stay with Myrtle. I thought it would be the last chance I should ever have of being with her. But I see my error now: I see how unwisely I acted in acceding to her request; for I am now satisfied that there was no good design in it. I will go now. Only let me go unmolested, and I will say an everlasting farewell."
"No, no, - you cannot leave my house this night!" ejaculated my mother-in-law; and going to her bolt of cotton, she tore off some strips, remarking to him that I must be tied, that there would be no other way to keep me, and that no other strings would do so well, because, if I struggled to get loose, they would not mark my wrists so much. I heard this very distinctly, and might have rushed out, had I had presence of mind enough.
My husband obeyed orders, and took hold of me to prevent me from making my escape.
"You shall never have the liberty of circulating reports again," she exclaimed, angrily. "I shall tie you, and keep you tied, till you make promises that cannot be broken."
In a few moments more I was securely fastened to the bedstead. My husband tried to be a little gentle
in tying me, and said, "I am only tying you to satisfy mother."
A strange, wild feeling crept into my heart. and I muttered audibly, "Smooth dissimulation, skilled to grace a devil's purpose with an angel's face!"
My husband had deceived me, persecuted me, and tried to poison me; but I hated him worse for tying me than for anything else. I tried not to feel so wickedly towards him, but I could not help it. I should have thought it more manly had he undertaken to kill me.
"We will now leave you, Kate," said my husband, "hoping that on the morrow you will be yourself, and make a few fair promises; for by so doing you will enable me to release you from your uncomfortable position."
I did not answer; I had no words for utterance; but I was wishing for a heart to hate him worse, and indulged in feelings of hatred and disgust. I was unconscious of their exit until I was brought to a sense of feeling by the many friendly mosquitoes which feasted away at will, wholly unmolested. A terrible night I spent indeed, but I was unwilling to make any promises in the morning; so I was guarded just as a prisoner that had committed some horrible crime. For weeks I was thus tied at night and guarded in the day, until, finding it impossible to compel me to make any concession, they resorted to another plan.
"We must try another plan," suggested my mother-in-law; "for it is very apparent we cannot subdue her after this fashion; and it must be done at all hazards. If once she gets away, she will reveal our family secret, which will be worse than all that has been told. What can be done?"
My husband's half-brother, having some knowledge of medicine, proposed to administer quinine to me, which would give me a strange, wild appearance, and
then they could keep me in confinement with impunity; that they would report that I was insane, and my appearance would confirm the statement.
I refused to take the quinine, as I was well aware what it was intended for; but was told, if I refused, more severe measures would be taken to bring me to terms. So there was no alternative but to take it. I had taken something that salivated me while at Mrs. Grinter's, and my mother-in-law would do nothing for it, nor would she let any one else; and it was sore so long as to create proud flesh. Doctor Cantrel had had some trouble in the State of Missouri, he being a radical; therefore he had made his exit up into Kansas, and, luckily for me, stretched a tent under a widespreading oak a little distance from our house. They generally loosened me for meals. So I went to the door and said, "Let me look out and see the doctor."
No notice was taken of me. I leaped from the door-step, but was soon followed by my husband and mother-in-law. Their efforts to overtake me proved fruitless, as I was somewhat in advance of them; and I reached the doctor unmolested, - they, in the meanwhile, having made their retreat to the house.
I asked the doctor whether he could give me anything to rub my throat with. He said he would have to give me quick relief, as the disease was getting so near to my chest; and if he did anything that would be strong enough to stop the disease, would kill me to swallow it. He had my mouth washed with creosote three times a day; and when I informed him that they burned my medicine, he threatened them that if his directions were not followed, he would take up all of them. I had a season of rest during his visits; he then moved further up into Kansas. After he had left, they again commenced to administer the quinine to me.
Such a lecturing as I received on my return to the
house would almost have crazed any one else, but I did not mind it much; I only thought of ease for my mouth. That night I rubbed my throat with the preparation the doctor gave me, and found some relief; but on looking for it in the morning, it was missing. They had burned it.
I protested strongly against this, and declared my intention to leave was irrevocable. But they laughed at my "insane prattle," as they termed it, and asked me how I would manage my escape - if I had it planned well .
"Where do you anticipate going?" asked my husband. "Every person believes you insane and would bring you right back; and let me assure you, Kate, your fate will be harder, for mother will spare no trouble nor pains to accomplish what she has undertaken."
"Oh, I think you have punished me enough!" I said, endeavoring to be calm; "and now let me go home. I want to go home so badly; I am sure you will be rid of me then. Now just say I may go."
My husband shook his head with an air of composure, and said, -
"You had as well be patient, and content yourself, as it will be better for you."
"But, husband, how can I be contented here?" I asked, with some spirit. "You know well I never can Neither can you be happy, for you have long since ceased to love me, and would be much happier were I gone; and -"
"But you cannot go, Kate," he interrupted. "You shall never go home. This is all the home you shall ever have; and although you are not as a wife to me now, and have not been for some time, yet I shall keep you here to punish you; and the punishment shall never be mitigated until you give up your resentful disposition and come wholly under my will, and make
promises in reference to that secret that you can not, dare not break."
My husband's calm, decided manner, in which he spoke these words, irritated me more than if it had been cold and harsh; and a wild, resentful feeling took possession of my breast; but thinking it would be well to propitiate him, I endeavored to smother my indignation and appear composed as I said, -
"Think of the present, and let me go, though I make no promises. I am sure the future will be well enough."
"Never mind, never mind," he responded. "I can attend to your case better while you are here. I used to love you, but now I rather enjoy punishing you, and always shall until you consent to do just as I wish you; then I will love you and cease to punish you, and not until then."
"Just as you please," I returned, with affected composure; "but I think you have known me long enough to be aware that you never can subdue me by the dragooning system. You have the power to punish me to an unlimited extent; but let me tell you, you can never force me to submit. you can persuade me, but you cannot force me."
"But I choose to force you," he replied, with a sarcastic smile; "and you shall either bend or break."
I remained silent for a time, and then resolved to appeal once more to his generosity and manliness to let me go. When I had talked till I was almost breathless, and thinking I had touched his heart, I paused for an answer but he only uttered a low laugh, and left the room.
"I will never make a promise not to tell," I soliloquized, bitterly; "neither will I promise to submit myself to his will; I will die first."
Perhaps the reader may think I was too self-willed and unbending; I can't help it. Of one thing
I am sure of, and that is, if you knew and felt and endured what I did, you could not have acted differently. But never mind; you have a free will, and I am willing that you shall form your own opinion.
The secret did not concern me one way or another, but I had told them, frequently, that if they did not let me go, I should reveal it, when I did get away. They would not heed me, and now could not break my promise. My intention was not to disgrace them when I wrote my history. They punished me to such a great extent that people, it seemed, always wanted to know what I was punished for; therefore, I am under no obligations to keep it a secret. They were afraid that I would tell something I knew against her daughter, and it would separate her and her husband I have no right to deny the reasons of their ill-treatment of me. They first sought to prevent me from mentioning my treatment to any one, and before they accomplished their design, there was something more to prevent me from telling. I am self-willed, I own it, but I am satisfied had I made all the promises that they requested, I should not have been allowed to go home, for I verily believe, that their designs were not limited to this.
"How do you get along with the idiot, now?" said my husband's brother, one day, as he thrust his uncombed head and bronzed cheek in at the door, one evening, about six weeks after he recommended the quinine to be resorted to again. It did strike me he strangely resembled a mule, as his gray eyes rolled and tumbled from side to side, and a square mouth that occasionally opened to deposit upon the door-step, the amber which had collected in the basin of his mouth, from the
huge plug of tobacco that rolled under his tongue. His gray eyes gave a twinkle of importance as he asked this, and when my mother-in-law told him that evening was the first time that I had been untied, for two days and nights, and that when I was untied to eat, I tried to run off, and that they caught and brought me back three times. Before they got me tied again, he lowered his head and looked as a puzzled physician would over a bad case.
ON the following morning, an Indian chief, who was on business through that portion of the country, chanced to call. I viewed him at first with much curiosity, for although I had seen a great many Indians, this one bore off the palm for jewelry and fancy costume. He had an intelligent look, too, notwithstanding his rather fanciful array of antique ornaments and garlands of feathers, and his keen eye seemed to take in everything at a glance. A strange thought struck me as I thus watched his manners - that through his intercession I might possibly effect my escape. I meditated a moment, and then concluded that there would be no risk in trying it, as it was only death if I remained there; so I endeavored to attract his attention unobserved; but failing in this, I spoke aloud, and said:
"I know who first brought tobacco into Kentucky, and laid it on a log."
"Who? who?" he interrogated.
"I discover that you are well read, madam."
"The best of it is, when I read anything I seldom forget it. The spirit of an Indian is proud and noble; they never betray their trust."
"I came from Kentucky," I went on; "and am a prisoner here now. If you will release me and my child, I will go to the Miami Mission and sew for the Indian children."
The Indian chief. looked at me for a moment, and then glanced at my husband and his mother, who instantly began:
"She is only a poor, crazy woman, that we have taken through charity; and at times she becomes so capricious that we are compelled to tie her, to prevent her committing some outrage."
But he did not seem to credit her assertion, and, after musing a moment, he glanced at me.
"That is my husband," I said; "he married me in Kentucky; he brought me here from my friends. You see his treatment. I would go with any tribe or nation, rather than stay where I am. Will you please get enough of your tribe, and release me, and take my child and myself? I could effect an escape, but I cannot give up my child."
He seemed first to glance at me, then at my mother-in-law and husband; and then he gave me a sign that meant yes. For fear I mistook him, I repeated once more, "Will you release me?"
He remained perfectly silent, but nodding yes. I believed him the more from his silence, and said, "You are wise enough to hold your tongue."
Mother-in-law asked his business. He stated he was an Indian trader, from the far West, speculating in land.
"You didn't expect to see people tying women here?" I went on.
At this remark, he arose and departed. Very soon after, he returned, and lingered near the doorway, gazing on me, giving the same signal, as before. My husband noticing me looking, went to the door. The chief, with his shrewdness, asked for a biscuit to eat on the way. By this time I learned his business. Making a significant gesture he took his departure, followed by my husband, who, in compliance with his mother's injunction, strove diligently to impress upon the mind of the Indian the veracity of their assertions; but, failing to accomplish this hypocrisy, returned to the house with a troubled countenance, and said:
"I am apprehensive of having some trouble with that tawny scamp; for I am confident my words had no more effect on him than the wind."
"Yes, we shall have trouble; I am sure we shall," put in my mother-in-law; "that significant look boded no good. I am confident he believes this crazy goose implicitly, and I think the best thing we can do is to send for your brother, and let him lay plans for us."
"Take the gun down and follow after him, and shoot him if you can," responded his mother.
As he lifted the gun down from the rack, I caused him to delay as long as possible. Speaking to him, that I believed some day he would return again after me, he started in the direction of the chief, soon returning, saying that he made no discovery.
"The best thing you can do," responded his mother; "is to go after your half-brother." The planner I shall now term him.
My husband looked chagrined, as he donned
his coat and hat and started for his brother's; but, to his credit, I will say he did not scold me this time, but seemed to think it a matter of course for me to exert myself for my freedom; but his mother said enough for both, and I bore it as patiently as possible, hoping that there would be something done for me. I was generally allowed to sit up while I took my meals; but on this day I was cruelly neglected, and toward evening I became so numb and faint from long confinement and want of nourishment, that I almost imagined that I was dying; but that was no time to murmur, and I nerved myself to endure my suffering silently, so long as I retained my senses. Several times my little child came to me crying; but each time was dragged away by some member of the family, with impatient exclamations; but I was glad on this day that they kept her away from me, for I was then suffering terribly, and to have seen that little one before me crying to come to me, and I forced to look on immovable, would have killed me.
"Well, really, there must be something done," he drawled out, as he gave the plug of tobacco under his tongue an extra toss. and then dropped his head to muse again, while his pedal extremities exchanged places in the effort to plan something for their safety.
As the mop was vigorously renewed my mother-in-law made several suggestions, but he paid no attention, farther than to roll his eyes around, and glance furtively out from under his broad eyebrows, and then slowly flap the ponderous lids down again, and fall to scheming.
"I have it! I have it at last!" he exclaimed, endeavoring to free his fingers from the tuft of hair on his chin, where they had been doing duty for
the last fifteen minutes; and in haste, stripping his much-prized ornament through his fingers, he uttered an affecting exclamation at his terrible misfortune, and, taking a farewell gaze at them, he made a remark that we will have a great deal of trouble to subdue her, and went on to develop his scheming.
"Yes, indeed, that will be the very thing," said my mother-in-law, when he had finished. "I wonder we never did think of that before." He drawled out, "Well, now, I guess that will save a heap of trouble; won't it?" he returned with a broad leer, seeming to feel sure of being complimented by more than one for his masterly scheming. And when she had heaped her compliments on her son for his ready wit, he expressed his satisfaction by a hearty laugh; and bringing his broad palms together, like two clapboards, he laughed the more.
"Kate, what do you think you can do with the strait-jacket on? do you think that you can resist then, hey!"
This remark was too taunting and unbearable, and I could not refrain from indulging in sentiments expressive of my disgust for him. While at the same time it was ludicrous and perhaps ridiculous. But I had gone through with so much that day that I had no patience at all, and declared that I would rather wear a strait-jacket one whole day than to look at him for five minutes. He replied by a hoarse laugh, and turning to my mother-in-law, said, "If this plan fails, you have only to send for me;" and with a huge sigh he left to see if he could form any better plan.
Very many plans were formed in my head that night as I lay securely tied to the bedstead, and at last weary and sleepy, I fell into a broken slumber,
to dream of what I had been maturing. Of course the quinine was given three times a day, as proposed, and continued for six weeks, during which time I boldly tried to make my escape every time I was untied; but I was always caught and brought back, and kept tied till my sufferings became so great they would be obliged to release me, in order to get rid of being annoyed by my importunities. "Well, mother, send for me when I am needed," said my husband's half-brother, as he and my husband started.
WHEN my husband came home in the evening, he was made acquainted with the plan of locking the door, which he approved of, saying, "It is well for something to be done," although he did not think there would be any notice taken of the marks caused by the cords with which I was confined,, should any person happen to see me, as they had duped every one to believe that I was insane; but still it would be well to be a little careful; and he advised his mother to have the straitjacket completed as soon as possible. It would save a great deal of trouble, they said; besides, it would he impossible to get away, as I could have no use of my hands, and therefore could not exert myself to get loose, and the least rope would secure me.
"Now this is my last chance," I murmured to myself, as I listened to this undertone conversation, "and I am determined to leave this house
to-night if there is the least possible chance; for if I fail to make my escape to-night, the straitjacket will be completed, and then it would be useless to attempt an escape." Thus I mused, till my brain was all in a whirl, and I almost lost my senses.
That night, as my husband tied me previous to retiring, his mother stood by to see that it was well done, and in giving directions, said, "You must fasten her securely, for I believe she intends to make a desperate effort to get away to-night."
"Well she is perfectly welcome to get away," he sarcastically replied, "if she can get loose after I have tied her." As he spoke these wicked words, he drew the cords so tightly about my wrists that I almost shrieked with pain, and with all the self-control I could summon I could not suppress an exclamation of pain each time the cord was drawn tighter; but for all this, I should not have begged had he cut my wrists off.
"I shall never make any concessions to you," I declared, as the last knot was tied; "I love neither of you, and I shall never bow to those I do not love. You may tie me, you may punish me, you may poison me with your quinine, or kill me outright, if you choose, but if I ever do get away I shall tell it."
Perhaps I should have buried their secret in my heart, but I did not think of that then. I only thought how cruelly they had treated me; my husband, too, whom I had trusted further and loved better than any one else in the world, and now hated worse; and in my prayers that night I asked the good and merciful God to release me from their cruel hands.
"Truly, either God or the Devil has something to do with you," said my mother-in-law, with emphasis;
"but you will rue this one of these days; for I assure you, if one thing will not bring you to, another will. You will never get away from here - never!"
I heard her tell my husband that he and two brothers must lie on the floor, to prevent me from trying to make my escape; and I heard her say that if I did by any means get loose and attempt an escape, the door, on being opened, would come in contact with the rock she had placed there, which would make a great noise, as there was no carpet on the floor, and could not fail to arouse them. I accidentally got this idea and was prepared for it. The cords by which I was fastened were so very tight that the pain became unbearable, and I called to my husband to loosen them a little. I knew that that was my last chance to get away, and that it was quite impossible to make even an effort, being tied as I was; but my pathetic imploring was tinctured with no thought of escape, for in this great suffering I was wholly oblivious of everything else. He paid no attention at first; but by-and-by, becoming exasperated at my importunities, he arose, exclaiming, "I will loosen those cords a very little, and then I wish you to remain quiet and not disturb me again to-night." Then he loosened the cord a little, and, tying about twenty knots to my hands and twenty to my feet, asked if I thought I could get away. I think the cord was looser than he had an idea of. Thoughts of escape immediately returned on being freed from this excessive pain; and, when he had gone to his room, I tried to get loose, determined that the cord should come off if the flesh came with it. So I let my left hand fall behind me, and, turning on my side, succeeded with difficulty in getting my right hand to
my teeth; and, by great and untiring perseverance, and, almost at the expense of my cuspids, I at length got the first knot untied. Thus encouraged, I persevered until the right hand was freed from the horrible cord, which soon set at liberty my feet and other hand. I knew well that such sluggards as lay on the floor were sure to sleep; and, having little fears of them, I waited until satisfied that the rest were asleep, and then slipped out of bed and cautiously and silently hastened toward the door, not pausing in my haste to get my clothes, lest they should hear me. Picking up the rock that I had an idea was there, I carefully unlatched the door and passed out, climbed the fence, rushed across the garden to the woods, and did not slacken my speed until I reached Coldwater Grove, where I paused exhausted and sat down to rest. The grove to which I alluded was in the form of a triangle, and composed exclusively of black-oak trees, so closely interspersed with hazel-bushes that it was almost impossible to pass.
"Free at last - O Holy Father!" I murmured, as I sank exhausted to the earth, and in heartfelt gratitude humbly thanked Him for assisting me in this coup de main. For some time I sat wearily by the roadside, contemplating my happy escape, wholly regardless of the cold frost that was silvering all beneath, and the bleak winds which pierced my weak and wasted fame. I was too happy at having made my escape to realize the gloomy aspect of the scene, and no thought of fear entered my head until my attention was attracted by the sound of a horse's step. Quick as thought, I parted the underbrush and rushed through, and crouched down behind some bushes. Scarcely had I hidden, when a little dog came bustling
through the bushes, and presenting himself, before me, barked furiously. I was almost frantic, for I felt sure it was some person or persons after me; and having no hope of escape, - for it would have been folly to attempt to flee though the closely-interwoven underbrush, - I only crouched nearer to the ground in hopeless despair, while the little dog's mouth close to my ear made sounds which were anything but agreeable. But in a moment, to my great relief, I heard the footsteps pass; and as the foot-fall grew a little fainter, the noisome terrier left me to follow his master, and I, taking courage, ventured to look, and just caught a glimpse of a horseman, as he rapidly disappeared in the dense woods.
Thus delivered from the terrible idea of being captured, I again thanked the great and merciful God, putting all my trust in Him. But with all the courage I could summon, sustained by my hope in God, I could not shake off the gloom that pervaded my soul. I thought of my child, and a pall of remorse shot through my breast; and the agonizing feeling I endured, as I thought how I had left her with those who were the most cruel, perhaps forever, - can never be described. But I could not have got her unobserved, I reasoned to myself, and it was better so; I thought there would be some way provided for me to get possession of her, if I could only get away myself.
After I had got somewhat rested, I again pursued my weary way. It was a cold night in October; a few dark clouds hung in the zenith, which now and then overshadowed the moon, hiding from view for a moment its shining disc, then permitting its cheering rays again to fall to guide my lonely way. The leaves had all fallen from the trees and lay in great brown heaps on the
ground. The tall, rank grass rustled and sighed in the cold west wind, and the heads of the gigantic oaks bowed slowly and sadly, as if in homage to the dying verdure.
For several hours I pursued my way, vainly endeavoring to catch a glimpse of light from some friendly house; but I was not cheered by any welcome light, and was obliged to continue my journey till the darkness rendered it impossible. The sky had become densely overcast by dark and portentous clouds, not a ray from the full round moon casting its silvery light to illuminate the unfrequented and dismal pathway; and the keen, cold wind shrieked and howled among the tall oaks, causing them to bend as though they were reeds, and hurling many dead branches and trees to the ground.
Finding it impossible to proceed further, I wandered from the road into the woods, pulled up some grass and put it by the side of a log to break the wind, and laid down to rest, but not to sleep. My feet were horribly lacerated and swollen from walking through the wild thistle and rosin weed, and I was almost chilled to death. A very short distance from where I stopped was a high cliff from which a huge rock projected, and over this ran a great stream of water, which gushed out from the cliff, and, passing rapidly over the rock, precipitated itself to the ground with a great noise, the distance of about thirty feet. The falling of this little cataract had washed the earth away and formed quite a deep hole, at the bottom of which was a large flat rock, and the water falling so far into this hole made a sound that was dismal enough.
I remained there the rest of the night, listening to the wind wailing through the tall trees, and the
incessant splash of the waterfall, while everything imaginable that was hideous harassed my mind. The dark clouds, which looked so threatening, only moistened the earth with a few drops and then passed gradually away; and when the rosy morn made its appearance, the sky was perfectly serene - not a cloud to be seen in the heavens. I knew by the crowing of the chickens that I was near some house, and, on its becoming light enough for me to see, I noticed a white house just a little way off, and nearing it I recognized it as the residence of Mrs. Turley. In all my wanderings of the night I had got only about two miles from home.
I knew well that Mrs. Turley was no friend of mine; but there was no alternative but to go there, as I could not travel any further in such raiment, and I was weak and exhausted, and determined to try my fortune any way.
At Mrs. Turley's suggestion, old auntie, the colored woman, brought forward some clothes and assisted me to dress, calling me "honey" and "dear," and pitying me, saying that she did not think I was crazy. The words of sympathy and encouragement that she spoke sounded more natural and humane than any I had heard since I left home, if they did come from the lips of a slave; and I can never forget the good impression they left on my mind.
Mrs. Turley had heard the report that I was insane, and believed it, or pretended to; and I am confident she apprised my husband of my whereabouts, for just as I was breakfasting he came in with a disagreeable curl on his lip, and said, "To be sure you are crazy, or you would never have left home in such a plight;" and with a patronizing air told me to prepare to go home. Remonstrance
was vain and I was obliged to go with him. Though he made a sacred promise not to take me to his mother, he proceeded straight there, and with a savage exclamation of triumph delivered me into the hands of his mother.
I was soon in my accustomed place of confinement, the strait-jacket in process of making, while my mother-in-law occupied the time well in giving vent to her spleen in wrathful expressions.
Mrs. Turley had advised my husband that morning to take me to the Insane Asylum at Kansas City, and he expressed his intention of doing so, while I was delighted with the idea, knowing that I could speedily get my liberty if sent there, as I could soon prove my sanity. Buoyant with this anticipation, I endeavored to make them believe sure enough that I was crazy; and when the strait-jacket was completed I laughingly remarked that that was just the thing to save trouble, for I really pitied them when I was to myself, they had so much trouble with me. That evening the strait-jacket was put on me. It was made with no armholes, tight in the waist, buttoned up in the back. When they put it on me, I begged to lie down in the bed. My husband refused to allow me, but my mother-in-law said that was the very thing; they must keep it on me all the time; I would die some time for want of exercise. She covered me up and seated herself by the fire. When I found myself alone, I ascertained that I could let one hand fall behind me and slip back far enough to unbutton the bottom button, and then I could slip it up a little, and by continuing to persevere I entirely released myself. "Well, really, this is certainly a bad fit," I ejaculated, holding it up to my mother-in-law, and they all looked astounded and puzzled. But
at last finding her voice, she demanded in harsh tones, how the straitjacket came to be off. "I do not know, I do not know," I answered at random, "it just came off." "But you shall tell how you succeeded in getting it off;" she said firmly, with compressed lips. But I did not tell; she could not force me to tell, so she concluded to put it on again, and watch me to ascertain how it was done, if I attempted it again, so that it could be altered. I was wise enough to keep this a secret, and did not attempt to free myself in the presence of any one, but as soon as left alone, I would take it off. Several times the strait-jacket was put on her daughter in order to find out how it should be altered. She being larger than I, filled it up more, and failing, they tied me again to the bedstead.
"This is more natural, isn't it Kate?" remarked my husband, tauntingly, as he assisted to tie me in my accustomed place; "and perhaps you will be more content with that which you are used to, for I admit that a strait-jacket is a disagreeable thing, and it pains me to see you encumbered with it, when this process will answer every purpose."
I was sick and disheartened, and losing all the self-control I possessed at hearing this unpardonable remark, I called out, "Leave my presence, you insignificant fellow; You are as mean as Judas! I cannot hate you enough and were I dying I fear I could not forgive you."
A low, croaking laugh burst from the lips of my husband, while my mother-in-law grinned with indignation, and immediately left the room; but he lingered in the doorway for a few moments to indulge his incorrigible propensity for tantalizing me, and then made his exit with a disagreeable burst of pretended merriment, that echoed in my ears the whole night.
AT last, my husband returned with his brother, who drawing a heavy sigh, took complacently a sitting posture. The rest of the company patiently awaited "his lordship's" orders.
"I fear that we shall have some trouble with that dusky chap of the forest," he at last broke out; "he is the chief of his tribe, and with their assistance he can do anything, he has a mind to. He may make a descent upon us, and destroy everything we have, and even burn the house if he should meet with any resistance."
At this my mother-in-law went up, in a hysterical fit of excitement, when I remarked -
"The chief may do worse than that to you, for he promised me, without your observing it, that he would do my bidding."
Evidently "his lordship's" dignity was somewhat ruffled, and in spite of my extreme suffering, I looked on in some amusement, while his basilisk eyes riveted themselves upon me.
"I know your designs, Kate. I pardon you only on account of your ignorance."
"Ah, well!" I pleaded; "but I am confident of his return."
"How do you know all this, Kate? You haven't brains above an oyster," - gazing on me with some surprise.
"Because I believe," I replied, "that an Indian's disposition is somewhat like my own: he is true to his trust. I would go with any tribe or
nation rather than stay where I am. I am sure," I continued, "that an Indian will befriend one in distress."
They all sat for some time in deep meditation. The "plotter" at last declared that they would be obliged to remove me at once; "for if the Indians promise anything," he said, "they will risk everything, even life, to fulfil it."
"Well, well! we must go to work and do something to defeat his purpose," my mother-in-law fell in. "Son," addressing the "plotter," "please do suggest some plan for us to go by."
"Well, give the quinine in double portions three times a day, until you get her brain distracted. Then all the neighbors will think her crazy, and there will be no trouble to prove this. When you get her entirely under the influence of the quinine, start immediately to Harrisonville," continued he, laying his plan before them, and stopping to scratch some new ideas out of his bald-pate; "then pass by Flem Rice's, and Jimmy Crooks's, and Trav Leach's, and John Turley's, and by this means make public the fact of her insanity. They all will surely write letters home, and her friends will believe the same. Jack," he continued, turning to his brother, "as you will be the proper one to do this, you had better stop at Allen Williamson's" (which was their brother-in-law's), "and get him to go with you, as you will need proof; and if you need any other assistance, you can get all of those neighbors mentioned before, and of course, I myself, for one, will complete the group. Let me caution you - don't agree to send her to the asylum in Kansas City; for she might be enabled to make her escape on that road, as our treatment of her is getting circulated all around there; but tell them you prefer to send
her to one that I know of one hundred miles from here. It's evident that, after the quinine loses its effect, she will become rational again and make her escape. I know of a poor-house to which you must take her, and after she stays there for some time, we will take her out again, and under assumed names testify of her worthlessness; and then, if she make her escape, we will trade her to the Mormons or Indians."
"Trade me to the Indians!" I interrupted him; "that is just where I want to go. I shall be sure to find friends among them; I shall find the noble Indian chief, and I will make a treaty with them."
Upon this the "plotter" remarked, "She must be removed from here immediately, for if the chief should return, no one can tell what would be our fate. After we get her traded off across the Plains, you must write to her friends in Kentucky that she is dead, which they will easily believe, and never seek for further information, and there the matter will end."
I threatened to make my escape, and the "plotter" advised them to get a key and lock the door. This frightened me more than anything else they threatened. At first I could see no way to make my escape. Then I recollected that the upper floor could be reached by a ladder, and as the place where the window should have been, was only closed by a shutter, I planned to make my escape by that means at the moment when they should be all asleep. But sometimes they had me tied so tight I could not get loose.
On the following clay he returned in company with his wife, to oversee the preparations and have things done according to his superior directions. Preparations were immediately commenced as soon as the quinine would have taken the desired
effect. And various were the little ideas that were uttered by my mother-in-law as she went about her work, expressive of her son's good scheming, and her great relief in the anticipation of getting rid of me. She went into the kitchen to commence dinner, - being left entirely alone, except my sister-in-law, - she commenced:
"I AM sorry for you, Kate," she began, "but I can do nothing for you; I know you have been shamefully wronged, since you came here; I think it is unpardonable, that you are not allowed to go home, when they pretend to want to get rid of you. Perhaps, Kate," she continued, "if you solemnly affirm, to keep that which you have threatened to tell, they may release you".
"No, indeed!" I ejaculated with firmness, "I have declared I would tell it, if I ever escaped, and I shall certainly do it; more shall that, it's too late to expect any lenity from them."
"It may be best for you," she still argued; "and I advise you to try it; for you cannot have any idea of getting away while so closely confined and guarded; and if things continue, you may come to some terrible death."
But I determined not to humiliate myself enough to supplicate mercy of them, when I knew there was not the smallest spark of pity, or mercy, glowing in their breasts; therefore, I replied, "I should do nothing of the kind. Perhaps you do
not know the extent of the punishment I have endured, and do not believe that I - "
"Stop! stop!" she interrupted; "you know I am your friend, and although I am not allowed to openly sympathize with you, I am not so blind that I cannot see the trials you have endured; nor deaf, that I do not hear your just murmurings. I did not believe at first that Jack had tried to poison you; but I know now that he did, and my husband knows it too. You recollect, Kate, the time you were at our house, when you were taken ill, so suddenly, and you were certain there was poison in the bitters you had taken. I did not think it possible that you could survive; but I could not bring myself to think, then, that your suspicions were correct; and when my husband came home, I told him the whole circumstance. He angrily refuted the charge, saying, 'he could drink all in the bottle, himself,' and going to the bottle took more than you did, but not many minutes had elapsed, before he was affected with the same symptoms, and came near dying; then he was fully convinced of the reality, and I too. He said, he 'knew well enough it was done through the influence of his mother.'
"Soon after, I heard him talking with Jack, and he said, in a mirthful, yet confidential way, that he (Jack), came near poisoning the wrong chicken. My husband is opposed to killing a person outright. You know that he often prides himself on being a 'philanthropist,' and he gave his brother a lecture in regard to it.
"He does not mind killing me by piecemeal," I muttered indignantly.
"I have heard him say, more than once, that it was a philanthropic duty to rid his mother and brother of you."
"Sarah, the time I was at your house, and Jack came with a bottle of bitters, saying, he wanted to get me well, he wasn't going to treat me so badly, at first I found relief; but on his next visit, as soon as he came in, he asked me for my bitters, and I saw him put something into it. Then I asked him what it was he put in the bottle. 'Nothing,' he said, 'only something that will do you good, if you will just drink it.' He spoke thus. I didn't fear to drink them. In the morning, after awakening from my slumbers, he came to the bed and gave me some of the bitters. I drank some to please him. After I was seated at breakfast, he came to me to take the second dose, saying, 'It has had no effect.' He and the 'plotter' were done eating, and left the house. Do you remember?"
"As soon as I became thirsty, and began to drink water, I got worse. I didn't suspect anything wrong of him till then. Your husband and he left the house; on being so thirsty, feeling the same as before, when he gave me something, I was convinced he had given me poison. I tried to persuade myself to think it only spells I took as I was sick."
"On the next morning," she interrupted, "I was the more convinced, after my husband drank it, saying he didn't believe there was anything in it; he could drink all in the bottle and it would not hurt him. He drank more than you did and came nearer dying."
"I was diverted at your crying, Sarah, and saying, 'If I died, they would prove where they were, and lay it on you, asking what I did to kill the poison.' You forced me to drink, I don't know how much grease, and eat butter. You gave
me coffee to quench my thirst, instead of water. In the evening your husband returned home bringing Frank. I suppose he was sent to find out the effect of the bitters, from what he said. He made the remark he thought 'I would be out of the scrape by this time.' He said his mother was sick and wanted me to come home and do the work. I declared I would not go. But your husband declared I should go, it was his mother. Frank was declaring that he believed 'I hated his mother,' from my remarks. I made no apology, whatever, but on the resolve of the 'plotter' I should go, I ceased talking. On the morrow, while the men went to feed their stock, and Sarah was getting breakfast, she wanted to know the reason I was dressing so finely. The only remark was, 'Do you think I am going to see my mother-in-law looking any way?' Putting my bonnet on, proposing to take the morning air, they never heard of me for two weeks. I went to old Mr. Marshall's. I begged Mrs. Marshall to take me in the neighborhood, so I could see my child. I could get her no other way only to come here, but as God is my judge, Sarah, and I ever make my escape, I shall never come here again, unless I bring enough to take me back by force. They have already got it rumored about that I behaved so badly at Mr. Marshall's, they would keep me there no longer. I am going to watch my chance to get away, and if I can effect an escape, some day I shall come back for my child."
"You remember," said I, "the first time you and your husband came to see me, after we arrived, how strangely we treated each other. I never could account for your conduct; since I have become better acquainted with you, and learned to look upon you as a true friend, I have pondered
over it a great deal. And I have often wondered why my mother-in-law cautioned me when she met us at the gate, not to have anything to do with you; that if I did, I would get into trouble; that you were not a suitable person for me to associate with, &c."
"Sarah, that reminds me of what she told me respecting you. She warned me against you, saying, 'you had the worst tongue in the world,' and requested me to keep all I knew against her family to myself."
"Kate, I am sorry I ever ill-treated you. I know persons from the place where you used to live, and they all witness that you were respected, which has long ago satisfied my mind in regard to you. I have been sorry that I treated you so coolly; but it seems that we have both labored under a misunderstanding."
"You have my free forgiveness," I answered. "I think her main object in poisoning our minds against each other, was to keep the things from me that have occurred in her family, since she came to this State; also, to keep from you things that happened to her daughter before they left Kentucky, as her daughter married a man who did not know her misfortunes. They thought it might separate them. I threatened it they didn't stop their falsehoods on me, I would tell Allen Williamson, her husband, about her. They boasted of the distance of where it happened, being a long way off, and I could not prove anything, when I threatened to send him to Westport, where she separated you and your husband. I have made a vow to God, Sarah, if ever I do get the chance to escape, to publish the whole of it; not only the family secret, which so little concerns me, but this inhuman treatment I am receiving at
their hands, and I mean to keep my vow. I only wish I had enjoyed Adam's blessing to have never been troubled with a mother-in-law."
"Kate, how did you find out what happened to her girl, in Westport?"
"It came straight enough; Jack told me."
"Kate, I never knew what trouble was, till they moved to Westport. We owned a neat little cottage there, that my husband built, he being a carpenter by trade. Everything was arranged for convenience and comfort. My mother-in-law begged my husband to allow me to get things at the store on his account, because she was a stranger. My husband credited her until the bill ran up to three hundred dollars, and then she declared he owed her in Kentucky, and he had the debt to pay for her. I used economy myself, but his sister dressed extravagantly, even in silk, on his account. Instead of helping me so as to pay for her board and clothing, I had to wait on her as though I had been her servant. She was taken very ill; I ordered her to leave my house, telling her that I would not have such as she about my house. My husband interfered, taking her part, and beat me until I screamed murder; which soon brought a crowd of about twenty men, who arrested him, and lodged him in jail. He got out, by giving bail of three hundred dollars for good behavior. He soon broke over and had to pay. That, with the store debts, took our house and lot, and everything we had. Jack finding how affairs were, came with a wagon, to take her to his mother's, in the country, where they had moved. I do not know how he got along with her on the road. I never took pains to inquire."
"I know all about that," I said; "my husband gave me the full particulars. They had a beautiful
tract of wide-spreading prairie to cross, and as the gentle animal moved leisurely along some one set the tall rank grass on fire, a short distance ahead of them, which placed them in great danger, and all that saved them was his forcing his animal into a muddy slough, and waiting for the fire to pass; and as he had to proceed over the burnt prairie, the horse was frightened by the heat under foot, and reared and plunged, at such a rate, that it threatened to break the wagon to pieces, which must have been a trying time to her. But they soon reached home, and her mother being a professional nurse, administered restoratives, and in a short time relieved her. A few nights after, my husband was awakened by a strange suffocating sensation; and when he became full conscious, he found the room full of smoke, and the house on fire. He hurriedly awoke the family, and catching his sister in his arms, carried her out; the frightened girl seemed almost insane with horror. 'Where is my mother?' she screamed. 'All will be lost! oh let me go!' He laid her down on the ground. He then ran back and seized his mother by the hand, and tried to lead her out; but she seemed paralyzed with fear, and as she suddenly realized their situation, she exclaimed, 'How did this happen? Where is your father?' At the same time trying to rush back into the burning building. It was all he could do to hold her; he soon, however, dragged her back out of danger. It was now midnight; the air was filled with smoke, and as they gazed for an instant on the terrible scene, his mother shrieked, and again attempted to free herself. But Jack held her fast, telling her that it was useless to throw her life away; that she could do no good, for they could see his father dimly through
the smoke, and-the forked flames dart and hiss at him, as he vainly struggled to subdue them. In a moment he was lost to sight amid the dense smoke; all eyes were strained anxiously toward the spot; all hearts were painfully still, as each form bent eagerly to catch a glimpse of him once more. Imagine their joy, as the smoke seemed suddenly lifted by the breeze, and they beheld him slowly receding from the flames, as they leaped furiously above him, with a wild despairing sort of wail, saying 'All is lost! all is lost! LOST!' as he came forth and sank down on the ground near them completely overcome with exhaustion.
"The thick black smoke rose in grand mountainlike masses for a few moments, and there was a flood of bright sparks and glistening cinders burst out, like infinite worlds of blazing meteors, from the burning mass. And then again the flames leaped out shooting their long serpent-like tongues high into the air, darting and springing in wild fantastic terror; then there was a swaying and tottering of the whole building, and a crash, and their home lay a seething, smouldering mass of ruins.
"The moon and stars shone sweetly upon them, but suggested no ideas of comfort as they sadly contemplated their loss, and in a strange country, not knowing where to go, or to whom to call upon for assistance."
"Well," she said, "I knew they had their house burned, but I did not know the particulars. They must indeed have had hard times; but let us talk about your affairs now. We have both suffered enough from this unhappy family, all caused by that girl and her mother. I think that you had better make your escape as soon as possible for
I have heard threats made that you are probably not aware of."
"I have heard all that you have," I replied; "my hearing is most acute, and being alone, and still, I can distinguish every word of conversation, even when carried on in low and constrained tones. I know that my secret prayers will yet prevail with the Lord, and I shall soon gain my liberty."
As I thus expressed my trust in God, and faith in his word, she began to weep, and said that she had been desirous of leading a Christian life, and had often requested her husband to attend church with her; but he would not go, and prevented her from going by saying that he was lost; that he had sinned away the day of grace, and that they might as well travel tile journey of life together. I then told her that it was wrong to listen to such persuasions, for each person must answer for his own sins. I called to her mind many precious promises to the penitent, - imploring her to "seek the Lord while he may be found," for He has said, "a broken and a contrite heart He will in no wise cast off." I told her that I relied upon God's promises, and the more they punished me the greater was my faith in God.
"I don't see how you can think of leaving that precious child."
I replied, "That has been all that has kept me here when I could have gone, and drew me back when I did get away - my dear angel babe; but I have now become resigned, and feel willing to trust all in the hands of the Lord, knowing that He doeth all things well. He can keep my child from all harm, and if it is His will for us to be separated on earth, he will not separate us in heaven."
She burst into a flood of tears. I tried to quiet
her by telling her, if her husband should see her weeping thus, she would only receive more abuse; "And now we must soon separate, and may God grant His blessing upon you," I concluded with calmness.
"Kate," she said, "I do not see how you can be so cheerful, surrounded as you are by bitter foes. You do not seem to be aware of the threatened danger that awaits you."
"O you of little faith!" I exclaimed, "you do not remember Job, how after he had passed through his tribulation, had more than at first; and all the good men of old, how God always took care of them, and preserved them from danger."
The plotter himself then entered and precluded further remarks.
That was the last conversation I ever had with her, and never shall I forget it or her kindness to me. That afternoon my husband, to try to prove my insanity, under the influence of quinine, started with me to Harrisonville, which is the county-seat of Cass County, Missouri. As we were going along the road, I was frightened by the appearance of two tawny-looking men, who looked both ragged and dirty. I supposed them to be Indians. My husband said to them, "I will be here with her day after to-morrow," when one of them mounted a very fine horse, saying, "Do you think we can make the trip with her across the Plains?" As he had threatened to sell me to the Mormons or Indians, at first I almost shrieked, for I felt sure my husband meant me when he said he "would be here with her;" and that he was plotting with them to take me off. The thought was almost maddening; but I soon consoled and calmed myself with the idea that if such should prove the case, I could make some
kind of a treaty with them when I could prove my devoted friendship to their chief. We soon reached the house of his sister, of whom I have before spoken. He called for quinine, but she had none, and fearing he might not take me with him, I talked all sorts of nonsense. We remained there all night. In the morning my husband said he did not think it necessary to take me to Harrisonville, as he could get enough proof, without, to show that I was a fit subject for the insane asylum. My spirits sank immediately; but I resolved to make good my escape if I should be left alone with his sister. She protested that she was afraid to be left alone with me - that she could not prevent my escape. Then all parties agreed that they had better take me to Harrisonville, as they had first intended. We were soon on our again. Several times while going, my husband remarked, that if ever we reached Harrisonville, I would never see home again, and each time I would beseech him to take me home; at the same time, in my mind I was positive that I would denounce him and be his wife no longer.
We arrived in Harrisonville about eleven o'clock. We entered a store belonging to Mr. Martin, a former acquaintance of my husband's, to whom he introduced me as his wife, Kate Grifin. Mr. Martin wished to know "if that was the beauty of whom I heard you speak?" and said I looked as though I might have been a good-looking woman once, but I looked now more like a skeleton on foot than a mortal of this world, and he would be afraid the prairie winds might blow me off. My husband then desired me to get on the scales and be weighed, wishing to find out whether I had been sick or acting deceitfully. The scales went to the notch ninety. He then went into a back room for
something, when I, noticing writing materials, requested the privilege of writing a few lines, which Mr. Martin readily granted. I wrote as briefly as possible my husband's intention to prove my insanity; that all the insanity I had was when under the influence of quinine, which he had compelled me to take; and ended by imploring his aid in making my escape from him, as I should not live with him any longer. I had just handed the paper to Mr. Martin and requested him to put it in his pocket, when my husband entered and wished to know what I had written. I told him that it was nothing to him, from that time on, what I did or said. He looked confused, and said, "Boys, let us start with her; she is taking another of those spells." Mr. Martin requested them to take me to his house to get some dinner, which he refused, saying, the best thing he could do would be to take me home; that he would not like to take me where Mrs. Martin was, for I was crazy. I declared I would not leave town until I got my dinner. Mr. Martin remarked that I looked as though I needed something, I was so thin. I told him that I did feel the need of something, and that if he had been half starved as I had, he would have looked the same.
Mr. Martin then told my husband that he had better take me to the hotel and get my dinner, but he made the excuse that he had left his pocket-book at home. Still Mr. Martin insisted on his taking me to the hotel, and he would pay all charges himself. Seeing that he could not do otherwise with consistency, he reluctantly took me there and left me to go down town. Now, thought I, is my chance. I called the hostess, and told her the whole circumstances, and requested her aid. She then informed the town marshal, Mr.
Tarlton. As he stepped to the door he said, "There comes your husband and his brother now." I hurriedly passed through an adjoining room and through the hall, up stairs, into the first room I came to, locking myself in. My husband sent for me, but I refused to see him. Finding it useless to insist, he concluded to try harsher means, but his proceeding proved fruitless; he was obliged to leave me with the hostess. I then gave her the full details of my husband's treatment; also that of my mother-in-law since I had been in the West. I told them that I was as rational as any person, but my haggard appearance was owing to the enormous quantity of quinine I had been forced to take, and their inhuman abuse. I insisted upon it being not only right and just that they should protect me, but that it was their duty to aid me in separating myself from a man who could treat a wife with such cruelty. I do not think there was one who doubted my statements. That poor insignificant wretch, how contemptible he did look as he approached and spoke, in what he intended for a kind tone, "Come, go home with me and don't act so silly."
I turned from him with scorn, and commanded him to bring in his judges and let them judge us both, and see who is the greatest fool, adding, "I have not taken quinine since yesterday at noon. I have almost as much sense as ever I had. I played 'possum with you all the way when I begged you with tears to take me home; my tears were shed for fear you would take me back."
The proprietor, Mr. Taylor, asked my maiden name.
"My name was Kate Gore; I was born and raised in Bath, Montgomery County, Kentucky."
He said he believed there were persons living in
Harrisonville from the same place, and mentioned one Mr. Thomas. I requested him to see him, that he was an old acquaintance of mine. He soon came to my assistance, and extended a friendly hand to me. My husband's brother-in-law, Allen Williamson, came up to me and seized me by the arm, saying to my husband, "We shall have to take her by force." Mr. Thomas paid no attention to him, but continued, "I knew this lady in Kentucky long before she married this man; she is worthy of assistance, and I intend to see her protected."
THE town marshal hearing this, drew his pistol and commanded them to leave; but Allen Williamson still insisted that they had a right to compel me to go. The town marshal asked him if he had any claims on me. He answered no. He said you cannot force her to go, and if you attempt to lay hands on her I will put the law in force against you; we are in the habit of protecting women here, and repeated they should leave. Then they left.
I imagined my troubles at an end; but my conclusions were somewhat changed when, on the following day, having set out to try and find some place where I could remain until I could obtain the necessary funds to bear me home, I saw that every person avoided me as they would an evil spirit. To the inhabitants I had been reported crazy; and the women and children ran like
turkeys, when they saw me approaching them on the streets, crying, as they ran into the shelter of their own, or the nearest houses, "Here comes the mad woman; she has made her escape from those who have had her in charge." It was useless for me to try to explain anything to them, and I wandered from house to house, being refused shelter and aid in any of them, until at last, when about to despair, I found a temporary shelter in the house of Mr. John Colenes, in Harrisonville. When I had been there but a short time, Mr. Rice, of whom I have previously spoken, made his appearance one afternoon. Though an old schoolmate of mine, I knew him to be a particular friend of my husband. Therefore I had reason to be suspicious of him; and I was more than confirmed in my suspicions, that his visit boded me no good, from his actions toward me on this occasion, for though he was well and intimately acquainted with me, he neither addressed nor seemed to recognize me. I therefore made up my mind to watch him, and if possible, find out the nature of his business. With this resolve, I determined also to remain passive as to his acquaintance.
After finishing supper, in the evening, Mr. Rice, Mr. Colenes, and the rest of the family left the dining-room, passing into the next room, which was only separated by a plank partition. In a short time I heard a conversation going on. The door being closed, I bent my ear to it, and tried to hear what was being said. justifying myself for playing the eavesdropper, on the ground that I firmly believed that I was in some way connected with the visit of Mr. Rice. and that my own safety, nay, even my life, depended upon my knowing what the nature of his business was. As I listened I heard Mr. Rice, say:
"I hardly know how I can get her away, unless I gag her, without which she would surely raise an alarm. I shall have to come late at night and get her off."
Colenes answered, "I shall have nothing at all to do with this transaction; she came to my house when she was almost exhausted with fatigue and exposure, and I allowed her to stay, and now I shall, at least, try and keep out of this scrape. Gagging will be a pretty severe operation, I should think."
"I don't care for that," returned Rice; "all I want is your permission. I will put her through the operation, myself; come, let us go and get a drink, and talk this matter over. At about eleven to-night, she will probably be asleep, when it will be the easiest thing in the world to gag her, take her out of town, and back to her husband, without creating, either noise or suspicion."
After some further conversation relative to Mr. Thomas's horses, - how he (Rice) had a plan laid, by which the former would lose all his stock by his pretended friendship for him, the voices died away in the distance.
When these men were out of sight, I immediately made my way to a neighbor's house, who, to my surprise, I afterwards found out was cognizant of the plot being hatched up to take me to my husband again, and I requested that I might be permitted to remain with them that night.
"Why do you wish to leave where you have been staying?" was asked in a voice of affected surprise.
I could not abstain from giving a direct response to this interrogation, and told my questioner that I had reason to believe a person now at that house was plotting to put me in my husband's
power again, and that he would attempt to put his plans into operation this very night, unless I eluded him somehow, and for this reason I had come to ask her assistance.
"You are very foolish," remarked this lady; "very foolish, indeed, I think, but still you can remain here."
These words did not tend to make me feel safe, even here in her house, and, as I was already suspicious of her, when she directed me to a room, I passed on to a wood-shed, where I knew they would never think of searching for me, if a search was instituted. Here I remained until the next morning, when Mrs. Colenes,, the lady at whose house I had been stopping, came to inquire for me, and persuaded me to return to her house.
Although I consented to return with her, I began to suspect that she was concerned in the plot, and from the aspect of things, generally, I concluded that her husband had somewhat moderated his views in regard to the matter, and was lending his mite to further the plans of Mr. Rice and my husband.
After we arrived at the house, Mrs. Colenes asked me in her blandest tones, "Would you not like to go to the country? We have a nice farm, and no one will molest you there."
I answered in the negative. I would prefer to have a lady protector. After a little while, Mrs. Colenes suggested that we all would go and gather some grapes, declaring she hadn't had any for so long, it would be quite a treat.
"Who are going?" I asked.
"The lady at whose house you stayed last night, yourself, my husband, and I," answered Mrs. Colenes. "You see there is just enough to make a pleasant little party."
I consented to accompany them, after a good deal of persuasion; and when in the wagon my suspicions were fully aroused, hearing some low talk and significant looks, which, to my mind, were not at all good omens. Furthermore, I observed a rope but partially concealed beneath the seat, and my worst fears were more than realized. I asked carelessly, to what use that rope was to be put, when there was a painful pause, and they exchanged glances with each other, each one wishing the other, probably, would volunteer an explanation.
"We intend tying a dog in the thicket," answered one of the party, in a tone of affected jocularity.
This was enough for me, and I jumped out of the wagon, to leave the party, saying that I did not wish to live with them any longer. I knew a place in the country where I could go, stating that I could walk there.
After a good deal of talk, pro and con, it was finally agreed upon to let me proceed on my way unmolested; and they returned home, while I proceeded to the house of one Mrs. Patten, living a short distance in the country, who, I heard, some time before, had wished for some one to weave for her.
After my arrival at her house, and making arrangements to stay, I was taken with a very heavy chill, and requested the privilege of retiring for a short time.
While reposing in comparative contentment, rejoicing over my good fortune, the lady of the house came to my room for the ostensible purpose of having a few minutes' conversation, and in the course of her remarks, asked me if my principles were anti-slavery or pro-slavery?
"I was raised in a slave State," I answered, "but my principles are altogether anti-slavery."
"Indeed!" contemptuously ejaculated Mrs. Patten, immediately starting up and going out on the porch, as though my presence would contaminate her. Here she indulged in the very original remark -
"I'll burn your Yankee grease in my lamp tonight."
"Why, ma, would you kill her?" said her daughter, in a low, but sufficiently loud tone for me to understand.
"Well, now, - that is, - I wouldn't myself, but I shall have it done, when the boys come in," she roared, regardless of my hearing.
"If ever there was an ugly critter on the top of the airth, it is a yaller Yankee. A Yankee is wuss nor pisen any day you chuse to kalkerlate on it; and I for one am not going to harbor sich a varmint. I'll be sartin to fix the Yankee carcass where the dogs will not trouble it."
The country was in a great commotion at that time. I knew it too, and should have kept still on the subject of politics, but I was not aware of the danger I was in. This occurred in 1860, when Southern tongues spoke nothing but threatenings and death to all who advocated the Union sentiment. The old lady's temper seemed to be at the highest pitch, as things flew in all directions, as did the shrill voice of this angry woman. And for the time I imagined perfect sparks of fire darting from her eyes, which were red with rage. "I'll teach a yeller Yankee how to come to my house and boast of her principles." In this way she went on making gestures which were of an exciting and outlandish character.
"Ye'll make good sass for the pigs if I can get
them to ye. I have hearn that the people further south fatten their pigs on stray Yankees, as it is all they are fit for; I vouch for her safe keeping, jest trust me for that."
As she was making these startling remarks, I was plotting in my mind the best mode of escape. And with a firm grasp I snatched my satchel, and with difficulty cleared the door, and made my way across the field.
"Why don't ye stop her?" yelled the wiry-haired daughter, in a voice which sounded as if it came from the depths of the lower regions.
"Attend tu yer business, young un," came the voice of the old woman; "I'll 'tend to the Yankee critter without any of your help; there comes one of the boys, and they will get her before she is fur. I'd rather have the work did out of my yard."
As those words reached my ear I looked across the field and saw a man on horseback coming in that direction as I ascended the hill. It was Joseph Crocker. (The Widow Patten was married first to a Mr. Crocker.) But here I paused one moment to catch a glimpse of the house from which I had escaped, but saw them standing in a huddle, anxiously watching their escaping foe. But for the moment I felt a sense of liberty, as I descended the opposite slope of the hill. I stopped again to think where to go, but only wells on through a thicket, neither knowing or caring where I went or where my weary feet would lead me, only noticing the heavy storm-clouds disappearing, while darker thoughts filled my heart, and thinking that every step lengthened the distance between me and my would-be assassin, knowing by my own exertions I would be some miles away ere they would pursue me,
and I had great faith in myself and my ability to keep beyond the reach of my enemies.
I was the only living thing I saw in that dark woods. The loneliness of my situation had no terrors for me. I made my way the best I could, plucking a bunch of grapes, which were tasteless and had no flavor. As I came to the road or small footpath, I halted to cast a glance about me; as I did so, I saw a man with a yoke of oxen, and was just going to ask him if he would give me a night's lodging, when I heard another voice. As I listened to the wicked words I heard him say:
"If Kate Grifin comes to your house to-night, knock her in the head."
I was dumbfounded, and all my pulse seemed to stand still, as I awaited to hear the voice which startled me. "Yonder she is now," it came again, nearer than before. There was no mistake whose voice it was which had startled me. The familiar tones fell on my ear, "She would not stay at our house. Knock her in the head. She had six bits in in silver. There she is now." Putting spurs to his horse, he came in the direction where I stood. I had no hope of escape, but it seemed natural for me to run from him, and as he stopped to talk with the man, I discovered that I was on the opposite side of a thick clump of underbrush, which was growing close to the spot where I was standing and advancing a little farther, I saw that I was hid from their view. I was only in time to reach the shelter of a brier thicket, and as I gained this place I fell beside a log which lay beside the road; the briers, which seemed to be my only friend, dropped their thick clusters over me, and made a complete hiding-place
AT this moment I saw the head and shoulders moving along the opposite side of the briers. I crouched near the ground, but in hopeless despair. But I thought he suspected my hiding-place, for he came so near to me I could feel the ground tremble as the horse walked, and fire seemed to flash across my brain as he approached nearer and nearer. I seemed to hear him breathe his foul intent if I fell in his clutches. But, oh, God! what a sense of relief I felt as the footsteps of the horse died away in the distance, and the footfall grew fainter and fainter to me, while I attempted thanks to Him that ruled all things well in delivering me from his cruel hands. I remained there all night, fearing to move or attempt to start on my way, lest there might be some one watching for me. And there I lay, while the chill November frost fell mercilessly upon my cold, shivering form, chilling my wasting frame through and through. And, to add to all this, the wild animals kept up their hideous yells all night in a most threatening manner. But perhaps their yells, songs, and manners, taken collectively, were intended for a serenade to their new visitor, welcome or unwelcome. But to me it seemed like the resurrection, calling for the dead to come forth; for surely I thought nothing was so gloomy and fearful. The night was clear and frosty, while the stars were shining brightly from the heavens; and from these and the snow, I had quite as much light as I needed. While here and alone in the
forest, I indulged in a secret hope that on the morrow I would find some one that would welcome me to their home, and give me some refreshment, as I had not tasted a morsel since eating my breakfast at Harrisonville, Missouri, except some grapes, as above-mentioned.
What should I do after getting away? What was to become of me without money or friends, and at that bleak season of the year? were thoughts that harassed my mind almost to distraction. I tried to look forward to calculate future possibilities. There rose up before my mental vision a dim, blurred picture, in which everything stood and shone as indistinctly as though seen through a mist, while fiery dreams penetrated my aching head in my restless sleep.
In the open country the wintry sun cast its first rays of golden tints among the tree tops o'er my head, making me feel more deeply my situation, as I resumed my journey; but it is needless to say what difficulties I encountered while trying to get a home. But at last I found it at a Mr. Duval Payne's, a man of my own native State, who had moved from Flat Rock, Bourbon County, Kentucky, and was once a merchant there. They cared for me as tenderly as my own parents could have done.
Several weeks after I came to Mr. Payne's, I was looking out of the window on the dreary scenes which surrounded me, thinking how the woods must look at my dear old home, each scene rising vividly in my imagination, and wondering if I should ever have the pleasure of beholding them all again as I had seen them in bygone days, when my musing was broken by the announcement of my husband. He had heard that I was there, and came, but could not define nor
explain any definite business. But still I did not feel afraid of him now, for I knew I was among friends.
"How do you do, Kate? where have you been this long time?" at the same time extending his hand to me, as though he had always been kind to me, and was glad to see me again. I withdrew my hands from his grasp. At the same time I saw my friends smile at seeing me treat him with silent contempt. He turned to Mrs. Payne, and asked her if anything had happened me that I could not speak.
"No, no," was the instant response, "it's only ill-treatment received from you in times past."
Mr. Payne entered the room; he arose and shook hands with him. About the first word my husband uttered was, "Mr. Payne, I have heard some people were busying themselves very much about this matter. They have gone so far as to say my mother struck my wife. They have to take it back, or I shall kill them."
I arose from my seat and said, "I can face you; she did do it."
"Mr. Payne, I wish you would take a walk with me, so I can tall to you a moment," he said.
"You had as well say what you have to say in her presence, so she can defend herself."
"Yes," I responded; "you know that every falsehood you utter in my presence will be contradicted; besides that, I have good proof of it."
While Mr. Payne commenced, "No longer than yesterday, I rode to Harrisonville with John Henderson. He tells the same story that she does, what occurred at Mr. Grinter's; and how can I doubt her words, when they both make the same statement?"
"You have commenced your old game again,
and want a chance to misrepresent things. But I think you have got in the wrong place. Ah! I see you have got on a pair of pants, made out of my cloth shawl which I earned before we were married; you need not think I do not know it," I declared.
"Well. Kate, I want you to stop your talk. I shall print this some day when your influence of quinine has lost all effect."
Mr. Payne replied, that he thought the quinine had been a great injury to me. "I brought Dr. Peery here, and have had him doctoring her; what you ought to have done long ago. And he said the quantity of quinine that had been given would have destroyed her mind entirely, had she not had a mind among a thousand. My wife and I have cared for her as tenderly since she came to my house, as we would have done for one of our children; what you ought to have done long ago."
"Well, Mr. Payne, if there is anything I can do to satisfy her, I am willing to do it now. I must confess that I have not done at all right; but I am willing in the future to treat her right if she will only go home."
Mr. Payne replied, "I have heard her say that all the love she ever had for you, had turned to hatred."
"Have I not reason that she should be dearest of all to me? Is there any thing I can do to satisfy her? If there is, I am willing yet to do it."
"I think there is something you call do to give her relief."
"What is it? I'll do it then."
"Bring her child to her."
"I will certainly do it, sir; I love her still."
"You love me," I ejaculated, and turned away with disgust. "I am going home soon; didn't you know it?"
"I can't let you go that long distance alone, and I have no money to go with you."
"Do you think under the circumstances I could trust you, - a blackhearted villain?"
"Why not? I am still your husband, and I love you as well as ever I did."
"You love me!" I exclaimed, in an excited tone; "love me! I am going home."
"How is she going home?" he asked of Mr. Payne.
"I and my neighbors have just made up thirty-seven dollars to send her to her home in Kentucky."
"I think you had better put the money in my hands, for I do not think that she is capable of travelling alone."
"Do you think I'd trust you again? a villain that has proved trustless in all things against me. I have left you and got away by force; do you think I would allow you to go home with me and tell my friends that you could not live with me any more? You can't say that. Besides, if I should start with you I'd never expect to reach my home. Mr. Payne, if you want me to go home, just put the money in my own hands; I am capable of travelling alone."
"How soon will she start home?"
"Don't tell him," I interrupted, before Mr. Payne could answer; "he might set some trap for me, as I am on my way home. I can't trust him."
Through the advice of Mr. Payne, he promised to bring my child to me, which promise he promptly fulfilled.
I was so overjoyed with the recovery of my child, that I determined to make an immediate effort to get to my home in Kentucky before
other calamities overtook me and my child. I made known my intentions to Mrs. Payne, telling her I thought it best and expedient to go while I had my child, and that I though I could reach home by some means or other, and once at home, I would feel freed from all this trouble, or, in a degree, my mind would be alleviated.
Mrs. Payne encouraged me in my resolution, and I at once set about making preparations for a clandestine departure. My anxiety to get home nerved me in every attempt to hasten forward the preparations necessary for my journey. I was ready, now, with money sufficient to start with, and my darling little Myrtle was already to accompany me. Oh! what a sense of delight this caused me as I once more had the darling child in my arms, and I was trying to escape from a cruel husband's grasp.
It was decided that I should start immediately.
Mr. and Mrs. Payne went out to see about a conveyance to take me to the stage route, and to obtain some further assistance for me, while I was left to complete my preparations. This being finished, I sat waiting patiently for their return, thinking how God had favored me in my escape, the recovery of my child, and finding those good friends. So, elated with the prospect before me, of a happier time, I did not observe my husband approaching until he had entered the door.
"Well, Kate," he commenced, "I heard you were about returning to your native State, so I took the liberty of coming to relieve you of your burden, the child. Travelling with a child on strange roads, changing cars, &c., is, indeed, very inconvenient; so I'll just take the child home with me and save you further annoyance."
I was perfectly confounded, and do not now remember
what I did or said to him, as he wrested the child from my bosom, and walked off, saying, in a taunting manner something to this effect: "I could not possibly be so ungenerous as to allow you to travel such a distance with a wearisome child, when you are looking so pale, too."
I thought and wished unutterables as he ignored my every effort to retain my child, and I heard his last provoking, taunting rejoinder, as it fell from his polluted lips, as he turned and marched off triumphantly with my darling Myrtle.
I was almost frantic when Mr. and Mrs. Payne returned. I declared to them I would not go without my child. But through their kindness I was persuaded to go. They told me if I did remain it would not avail anything, as there was no chance to get the child only by force; and that it would be difficult to get persons to engage in anything of the kind; that my health was poor, and I had better go, and when my health was restored, they all would join together in trying to obtain the child, and they would send it to me.
I pondered on this until the carriage drove up to the door, that was to take me to the stage office. I concluded to go; but not until I had conjured them to see my child as often as they could. I said to Mr. Payne, "I came to your house a stranger; you took me in and fed and clothed me. Remember the Saviour's promise: 'Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of these ye have done it unto me.' You have acted a Christian's part towards me. As I am going to start home and am in very ill health, will you please see my child once in awhile. I may never live to see her again, and if she lives until she is old enough to know right from wrong, will you please seek the opportunity to teach her the path
of duty. I am leaving her with those who only know evil, and are not capable of rearing a young mind."
Mr. Payne implicitly promised to comply with my request; and thanking them in my heart more than words could express I took my leave, but paused at the door, and said to them, "Should it ever be your fate to be in reversed circumstances, or any of your family, hunt me, let me be wherever I may, and if fortune smiles on me, I will lend a helping hand to you or your wife or children. But I hope nothing of the kind will ever befall you." I turned and thanked them once more for their kindness and bade them adieu.
After a wearisome ride, I reached Pleasant Hill, and stopped at Mr. William Parker's, the postmaster, and son-in-law of Mr. Payne. Mrs. Parker told me that Mr. Parker was trying to raise a contribution for me, as they feared my means would fall short. They also told me that they met no one but what was telling about my treatment, or they were asking to know more about it. The night was cold, and thoughts came crowding into my mind about the distance that would be between me and my child. Thus it was all night; for I never closed my weary eyes in sleep. Sometimes my reason seemed to fail me. God forgive me if I was wrong; for it does not seem right that I left her behind me. But God has separated us; and to bring us together again I feel is not impossible for the Ruler of heaven and earth. These thoughts fell heavy upon my aching heart, and I tried to rest, if not to sleep.
The wind wailed and moaned like the despairing cry of dying nature. Sometimes it would lull into a deep moaning sound as if chanting some funeral dirge. The night was lonely enough. No
light save that which came from the coal fire, which burned low. My child! my child! I wept.
Morning came; the sun shone through the damask curtains, and fell upon my bed, as if wishing to know the cause of my distress. I arose hurriedly to be in time for the stage. I bid them adieu, while old Mr. Green accompanied me to the stage. After shaking hands with him, he gave me a letter directed to his son-in-law, Mr. John Layors, in Paris, Kentucky, and requested me to take it to him, and stop with him a few days and rest, and directed me to go to the Widow Thurston's hotel, in Paris, and she would send a boy with me to carry my satchel.
As Mrs. Thomas was from Montgomery County, Kentucky, she informed me that she was going to accompany me home. She was going to settle up her business. When we arrived in Cincinnati, we stopped at the Burnet House, on our way falling in with a very interesting lady and husband. The morning after, the lady came to our room, and requested my name of Mrs. Thomas. Being answered at random, and in rather slighting remarks, she said something about insanity. "How she compliments me!" I thought; "fools never get insane."
This being Sunday, also Christmas day. I was too ill to go to the dining-room until Monday morning. The woman in company with me, to save her fare, all this time was eating the victuals that had been prepared for me by Mrs. Parker in Pleasant Hill. I knew the cost would be the same to her while occupying the room; but I would not tell her. I remembered her words in regard to insanity. As I was descending the stairway, she requested me to wait for her, she could not find the dining-room. "Ring the bell for the
porter," I said, and I walked to the clerk, requesting him to make as reasonable a charge as possible, relating the outlines of my distress. He asked if some one else roomed with me; also, if she was sick too, as she had not made her appearance at the table.
"No, sir; she is perfectly well; she eat the victuals prepared for me to eat on the way."
On hearing this he charged me only a small amount, saying that he would charge her enough to pay for us both.
When I was at breakfast, she came in and screamed out:
"Kate, I never intend to stop here any more. I never heard of such a bill as that clerk has charged me; fifteen dollars from Saturday until Monday."
"Go bring me my breakfast," she bawled out to a German boy. He said, "Look on your bill of fare, and I will fetch it."
She paid no attention to him She looked all over the dining-room. She exclaimed, in tones loud enough to be heard all around the dining room:
"Why don't they treat every one alike here? They have set us down to a naked table to ourselves," she went on.
The boy placed the bill of fare near her plate. I glanced carelessly at the lady whom she had pleaded insanity to. She too sat back, and yet where she had a good view of the speaker. The boy laid her bill of fare in her plate.
"Read that, madam."
She went on, "Kate, there is not much here, and you have got all there is on the table."
It is the mission of some to talk and others to listen. Apparently the slender thread of the boy's
patience had given way, when he said, "Are you going to read your bill of fare, madam, and tell me what you want for breakfast?"
I looked at her and said, "I know I would not make such a goose of myself if I were you. Read your bill of fare; the 'bus is waiting for us, you know."
"I can't read," she declared; "my father never taught me to read."
I gently softened my tones, and begged the boy to guess at what she wanted, and bring her breakfast.
As soon as he returned with her breakfast, I said, "Please see if the 'bus is ready for us."
He soon returned, saying, "The 'bus is ready to start, madam." He looked at me, "You have time to eat." I thanked him, I was done eating; I asked him to please lift my baggage into the 'bus. She arose to follow me, having had only a few sups of coffee. We waited some time before the 'bus started, while she muttered to me, she believed it was done on purpose to keep her from eating, little suspecting me of dealing out the cards for her.
When we got to Paris, Kentucky, we stopped at the Widow Thurston's hotel, where Mr. Green, of Pleasant Hill, requested me to stop. I said to Mrs. Thurston, "Will you be kind enough, if not asking too much of you, to let a boy carry my carpet-sack to Mr. Layor's. I have a letter from his father-in-law."
"Do you know Mr. Green?" said Mrs. Thurston.
"Yes, madam," I declared.
She sent the boy at once. As I passed Mrs. Thomas with no explanation, she called to know where I was going with that boy. I walked on in silence; and she, reaching home a few days in
advance of me, told all she met, the last time she saw me, I was following off a colored boy.
After a tiresome journey I reached home. It was not the old home where I used to live; for my mother had moved to my brother-in-law's. But it was home. dear, dear home, where mother was. I was only content for a moment, for my mind wandered back where my dear Myrtle was.
My mother was in very feeble health; but she met me at the gate when she saw me coming home, and gave me a welcome - such a welcome as only a dear mother can give.
"Ah! is this mother! Can it be possible that this is my dear mother!" I involuntarily exclaimed, as I noticed her pale cheeks, and sunken eyes, and bloodless lips.
Yes, it was my mother; I knew her, yet there remained scarcely a former feature. The voice was not like that I had been so accustomed to hear in bygone days.
"I have mourned for you as lost, my dear child," came from those thin, pale lips of my mother, as she clasped me in her fond embrace. "But, thank heaven, I once more see you, my child."
I WAS home now, and felt free, and breathed easier; and when I sought my couch to rest, I dreamed not of designing enemies and faces enamelled with dissimulation, but of home, sweet home, and rest. The change of habitation and
rest of mind I enjoyed soon made the color come back to my cheeks again, and I daily grew stronger. But my poor mother grew no better. Sometimes I imagined she was convalescent, but this hallucination could not remain long undescried, and my vague fears would return in all their gloom. Gradually the angel of death hovered round. I saw and knew too well that she must go, yet I could not bring myself to be resigned to that awful parting which I knew must come, and often declared mentally that I could not give her up. I thought I had borne as much trouble as was possible, and this added, I thought, would fill my cup too full. But God never sends trouble upon his children without the strength to bear it, and so this bereavement was allotted to my portion.
Never shall I forget her words as she begged to hear my voice in prayer for her. All was silent except her low murmuring. She expressed her willingness to die and her faith in Him who had promised to forgive to the utmost all who come unto Him. Methinks I see that pale, sweet face now, as, in the agonies of death, she turned to me, and in almost unintelligible accents, begged to hear my voice in prayer for her. I could not, I thought I could not, but that pleading look she gave me was irresistible, and endeavoring, oh! so hard, to repress the broken sobs that came to my lips, I tried to pray, and did pray, and when I arose, a sweet smile played about her lips. I seated myself by the window. The sky was flushed with the tints of early morn, and from every bush and tree, the birds poured forth a joyous song - for the garden was filled with them and they seemed wholly undisturbed in their airy element. The flowers, freshened by the dews of night, and brilliant in color, seemed waiting for some eye to admire
their beauty. Then my eyes wandered upon all around about me, drinking in the sublimities of Nature. I again went to the bedside and thought how hopelessly I had watched by my suffering mother's side, but when the morning beams came I would wander away to hear the birds sing and to admire the richness of the roses. As I looked close I saw she breathed easier, and how thankful I felt at this moment. Two weary weeks after this ended her pilgrimage. How slow had the days and hours passed away and my weary eyelids seldom closed in sleep, day or night. I could not at times suppress the thoughts that came crowding in my mind one after another. Exhausted at length by agitation and vigilance, and fatigue of mind and body, I felt that I must sleep, and I begged if they saw any change in her to awaken me immediately. Afterward I retired and soon was in a disturbed sleep, when I felt some one lay their hand upon me. I arose and went to the bedside and saw a flush upon her sunken cheek. Her breathing was quick and short. I lingered near the bed while the clock kept tick, tick, tick, to eleven, and on this dreary night, and amidst suffering and untold agony, her spirit left her emaciated tenement of clay, for a holier and happier home above.
The night was very sultry, and the beautiful stars shone bright in the summer sky; but not a breath of air came through the windows to fan her feverish brow. The stars faded one by one, while the light announced the approach of morning. It was cooler now; not much, although the heat was less intense.
Almost unconsciously I turned from that cold, brown pile when the last clod was heaped, and wended my way to the home that would behold
her no more. But that she was at rest I doubted not, and after the first few days of grief and gloom had passed, I could but thank heaven that she was freed from the terrible agonies she endured and the trials that continually encompassed her here; for her life had been a hard one, not only in relation to pecuniary circumstances and the responsibility and care of her family, but there were other things, the remembrance of which invariably cast an impenetrable gloom over her spirit, which has seldom given way in many long years to the faintest smile. But all was over now. My heart aches, my head grows dizzy, and the vision of home grows dim and misty. Ah! I see the mound that is heaped above my mother. I see her calm, pale face, and patient hands folded meekly on her breast. I see the green myrtle and the rose that clambers o'er her grave; and the cold, white marble, with the pale moonbeams flickering and dancing o'er it; seemingly saying, "See an end of all perfection."
Several months after this my father was found dead, hung on a fence-stake. It was suspected by some persons that he was hung for his money, as he was known to have several hundred dollars about his person, the day before; but when found, there was none about him. Oh! I am so heartsick and weary, and I repeat, I have seen an end of all perfection; but God has said, "Come, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and ye shall find rest." "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Glorious promises. I will take my burden and lay it at his feet, and trust in his holy promises and infinite mercy, to guide me through this world, and at last to that haven of peace where the "wicked cease from
troubling and the weary are at rest." Immediately after the death of my parents, I proceeded to Owingsville, Bath County, Kentucky.
Wholly worn out, mentally and physically, I resolved to try to get my child. I knew it was almost folly to go that long distance on business, which was most sure to prove fruitless. I could not content myself. I can at all events try, I thought, and with this determination I set out and soon reached the place of my destination in Missouri.
It was growing dusk when I reached the residence of Mr. Payne, formerly mentioned. They gave me a hearty welcome as I entered their house again. The next morning I begged that Mr. Payne would go and get my child for me. He soon returned, stating that my husband had just gone in the Rebel army, and they were never going to let me have her again. I got him to go again and request them to send her with him and let me see her. I wrote a letter to my mother-in-law, and in it I wished that I might see the day that this war might separate her and every son that she had; and that they might either be shot or taken prisoner, and she might be left to mourn the loss of her children, till she had as much trouble as she had caused me to see over mine; and if they thought she had me whipped, they were very much mistaken, I should recruit and come again, when she little expected; that I would hunt Lane or Montgomery of Kansas, but what I would have my child. In the morning following, I proceeded to Kansas Territory, and joined the Wide Awakes, and promised to go into Kentucky, and take the Radical password and lay a trap for the Rebels. They said, if I completed that, I would give a greater blow to the Rebels,
than Delilah did when she deceived Samson. Col. Sims was on the stage and recognized me as being the wife of John Griffin. He also said he was living near to me when I separated, and no one blamed me for the separation. But it seemed strange to him to see me such a strong Union woman, and my husband in the Rebel army. I told him while living with him I noticed he was almost always on the wrong side of every question, and in order for me to get on the right side, I shall just remain opposite. He and a gentleman were talking about trading in stock. He wished to know if I was a good hand to trade. I told him I was never cheated but once in a trade, and that was when I got married. He said I ought not to be against my mother-in-law. I told him I was only fulfilling the Scriptures, and they had to be fulfilled. The Bible says, kindred against kindred, last of all the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law. He said if your enemy smite you on the right cheek turn to him the other also.
I said that at Mr. Grinter's, when my mother-in-law tried to force me home, she hit me on the left cheek, and left the prints of her fingers on my face in a welt; but it is not commanded to turn the right cheek, and I shall not do it.
I stopped at the Union hotel, and every time I appointed a time to start I was disappointed. The clerk would tell me the wrong time to take the boat. I said I was not going to wait any longer, I would take the stage. He said the military had given orders to not let me pass, as I was from the State of Kentucky. They had suspected me to be a pro-slavery spy. My means at this time was limited to one dollar. I left the hotel and went into a house, and wished to know if they were of
Lincoln's principles. I said if not, I wished them to direct me to some one that was. Then they directed me to Hon. R. T. Vanhorn, of Kansas City, who since is in the House of Representatives, in Washington, D. C.
I went to his house, and sought an interview with him. He was in his sick-chamber. After he heard my business was to obtain my child, and unfolding to him many secrets in the Union cause, and also the Radical password and decision, he handed me a paper to go to the levee near the river, stating he was the owner of a boat that would go out at three o'clock that afternoon. I went to his clerk and handed him the paper. He asked me if I was the lady from Kentucky. I told him I was.
"I have orders to keep you here; you can't go out on my boat," he declared.
"I am going out on that boat. I have orders from higher authority than you; I have permission from the owner of that boat."
"What was your politics before the war?" he demanded.
"I was first a Whig."
"A Know Nothing."
"A Free Soiler."
"I am a Wide Awake."
Before he had time to ask another question, I said:
"Tell me how a parsnip first entered in the State?"
He said he didn't know.
I said it come in the seed.
"You know the seed of a parsnip is flat, don't you?"
He said he did not know what kind of seed a parsnip had.
Another gentleman said I was right, the seed was as flat as any wafer. I turned away with composure, and said:
"That is the way the Democrats are coming in. They are coming in flat."
They cheered me.
The clerk said, they would have that in the paper before night; to go back to the hotel and content myself; to come to the river at three o'clock, and he would write a letter and give to the captain to pass me out free.
As I was walking through the boat, I saw him hand a letter to the captain. They sent me up the river above Wyandott. I didn't know the boat was connected with the cars. I thought when I started I would land in St. Joseph, Missouri, when I got into the boat. But in place of that, the fare was eleven dollars to St. Joseph. My blood seemed to chill, as I became acquainted with the fact of having to pay that amount and having only one dollar. I went to a minister's wife to get her to intercede with the conductor not to put me off the train. Being overheard by a gentleman sitting near us, he said, "Is that lady in distress? I will pay the fare; 'tis only eleven dollars;" and when the conductor came round, he handed him the fare, without speaking a word to me. I thought to myself, this is like stories I have read of, where ladies have been befriended, just when the train was announced at the depot. I was not so much accustomed to travelling then, as I have been since, to know the conductor was the proper one to go to, to learn the proper place to stop at, should I land in a strange place. While I was pondering in my mind what
I should do, this same man came to where I was, and asked was that the place where I stopped. I informed him I had some distance to travel yet; but owing to my limited means I should be compelled to stop awhile to get into employment, and I requested that he would inform me the best hotel in the city. He said he was going to the best one, he would conduct me there. As I was alone, I accepted his kind offer with thanks. He said he would pay for my supper and lodging. I thanked him, I didn't wish to run him to any further expense. He had already put himself to more trouble for me than I had any idea of him doing. He requested to go to the clerk and have my name registered, for which I thanked him, I could see to it myself. But he went to the clerk, any how. The porter came to me and wanted to know if I wished to go to my room, which I did. I started the porter with my baggage. As I ascended the stairs, I noticed this man with his valise in his hand and his overcoat thrown over his shoulder. I thought because we came to the hotel together, the boy was aiming to show each one of us our rooms at once. The porter stepped in and said, "Madam, this is your room with two beds in it." And as he lighted the gas, the man stepped into the room, in the meantime, commenced drawing off his coat, when I said to the porter, "Have I come in the wrong room?" The porter said, "No, this is the one that was ordered for you, madam." I remarked, "It is considered ill-manners for a man to draw off his coat in the presence of a lady, where I came from." He shoved out the porter, and said, "You go out of here," and endeavored to shut the door, and keep me in, but seeing it a thing impossible to prevent me from raising an alarm, and fasten the
door; he opened the door. As I walked out, he said, "Madam you are a d - d fool. No one would have been any the wiser. I had your name registered as me and lady." That posted me. I went to the clerk and requested him to give me a room to myself: I wished his protection till morning; I had but one dollar I would give him that, and the next day, I would seek employment and pay him the balance. He said to give myself no trouble the man had already settled it for me, and he would not give it back to him. I also informed him how I came to be in this man's company. This hotel was on a high hill, just a little distance from the depot. I am not sure, but I think it was called the Patent House. The clerk informed the landlord the next morning, and the man was driven from the hotel. The proprietor saw the agents of the road, and they sent me to St. Louis, free of charge. This was March, 1861. From St. Louis, a captain of a boat passed me to Newport, for the dollar. There I had acquaintances, and I borrowed money enough to take me to Mt. Sterling. They wished to know the news in Kansas Territory. I told them I was not among the suffering community there. Some of them wished to know how I travelled on such limited means. I told them I travelled on politics. When I arrived at Howard's Mill (my brother-in-law's), I found that all my relatives were pro-slavery, except one brother, who fought in the Union army. My brother-in-law that lives near the Mill, tried to force me to be of his politics.
I set out in the commencement to neither be bought or sold. I was sent to deliver the password to the rebels, which I was determined to complete. I gave the right password but the wrong decision. This password was called the general password.
I went to Old Gus Bondon's with the password, and he sent Joseph Glover through to the Virginia lines. As soon as I heard he had gone through to circulate this through the Southern Confederacy, I went to Captain John L. Williams, of the Fourteenth Kentucky Volunteers, and requested him to send it through the Union lines: that if a man professed to know the password, that came into the Union lines, to make him give the decision; that by this means he could soon detect a rebel.
I went to my uncle's, and they thought me crazy when I told them I was for Lincoln.
My uncle was going to Owensville, to a speaking. The night before he went I dreamed that I could see all around my uncle's house; and in one corner of the yard stood a paw-paw bush, and in the bush I saw a large snake, that looked very sly at me. It had one blue and black stripe around it. All of a sudden it came to my bed and attempted to slip under my neck. I caught it at the back of the neck and threw it out on the floor.
My uncle said it was one of his children' hats, that I threw on the floor. When my uncle called me to prepare for breakfast, he choked me in fun, declaring I was going to get a choking. I begged him to remain at home. From my dream I believed it a presentiment if he went to that speaking he was going to get choked; that he would say something to some Union man, that he would get a whipping for. When he came home, in the evening, he said:
"Kate, I got that thrashing you spoke of. Had it not been for your prophecy, it would not have been.
"Things went pleasantly while in Owensville,
and on my way home, I stopped at Shrout's grocery, a place called Buzzard Roost. There was a great crowd of men drinking, and some one remarked, 'Douglas was not expected to live.'
"I spoke up, not expecting he had any friends there, and said: 'A pity he had not died six months ago and all of this fuss would not have been.' A man by the name of Barber jumped from behind the counter, and said, 'I can whip the man said that.' "
The first thing he did, he choked my uncle. The next thing, hit him in the eye, leaving a gash all around his cheek-bone. Then he bit his thumb from joint to joint, and knocked him down and made him cry out "Enough," and that was the first time he ever said that word in his life; and he declared if it had not been for my prophecy, it never would have happened. I declared myself innocent of the charge, but neither could I satisfy him or aunt either. She declared it was not the first prophecy of the kind I ever made about her family, and it came true; they didn't like me on account of my politics. I told them the time would come, when they would not be as free to express their sentiments as a colored man would be.
Soon after this, my uncle's two sons went into the Rebel army, and got their satisfaction, took the oath of allegiance, and came home. Soon after I heard of a Southern woman threatening me if she ever heard me saying I was a Union woman, she would frighten me out of my wits. I took the pains to call on her, and asked if she said so. The house was full of pro-slavery people at the time, and she said yes, and wanted to know if I wanted one of her colored boys for a husband. I told her I had no use for one of them, myself, but as soon as another regiment of Union men
passed through, I should send them to take them for me. She got a pistol, and wanted to know if I knew she was practicing to shoot. I told her it didn't amount to anything. She said when all the Southern men got killed, the Southern women were going to fight; they were determined not to be subjugated. I told her I was like Buchanan, the king's fool, very brave untried. I told her I would prove myself to be a brave woman, or a base coward, before the war closed. She pointed her pistol at me. I dared her to even snap it at me, and I would fight a duel with her afterwards, unless she shot me dead. Her husband made her put it up. Soon after she persuaded her only son to go to the Rebel army, and he never returned to her. He was shot.
When the Union soldiers were passing through, she hid her husband under the floor. In order to let her know that I knew where he had concealed himself; I sent her word the snakes might bite him. I was riding on horseback soon after this, and had to get down to unlatch the gate. As she passed me by, she went in a sweeping gallop, till she came to the next neighbor's, supposing I had dismounted to prepare to shoot her. Soon after this a man met me in the road, and said the pro-slavery people ought to shut me in a house, so I could not talk. I told him that if he wished me to be in that condition to get the best horse and buggy in the neighborhood, and start with me, I would land him in a little house called Texas, not many of the Secesh knew of. Soon after this one of his most intimate friends was arrested and put into a little rail pen, and kept several days, and then he found out what the little house called Texas was.
Soon after this he committed treason, was sent
to prison, and died by drinking water that stood in a brass kettle. My brother-in-law, when he and a Union man would get into argument, would say, "You are just like Kate."
He said the Vice-President, Hamlin, was a negro. In order to make sport of him I told him only his grandfather was a negro. He took his hat and left. He used to abuse the Union men, and when the Rebels were travelling through he hid his goods; but as soon as gone, brought them out to sell to Union soldiers. I told him I should hate to hold up for a party I was sure would rob me. They had robbed him four times.
I was stopping in Owingsville. Flem Rice arrived home from Missouri. I was an inmate of his cousin's house, Billy Richards by name. He was delighted to meet his cousin Flem. I went on with my duties with a calm face. I was changed from a laughing girl, and knew no happiness now but hope. He sat in his cousin's luxurious apartment and drank in silence the Bourbon whiskey; and with the empty glass in his hand, he sat and gazed upon the glowing grate, musing on the memories of the past. I was delighted to hear him break out:
"I had a terrible time with the Wide Awakes of Kansas. I can scarcely tell how I did make my escape from them. They had the rope around my neck once to hang me. By me being a Freemason was all the way I was released."
I suddenly encountered his gaze, and I smiled slightly and blushed deeply. He vowed revenge on all loyal men. I stamped my feet in impotent rage in answer to him, as he asked whether I was disunion.
"No, I am a Lincolnite."
He threatened to be revenged on all of them.
I had once been a mere pastime for him. I thought silently to myself, God has heard my prayers when I plead to Him to release me from my enemies. I had left them to His charge and could only ask in like manner: "O Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." Everything went on very quietly so far. And step by step, he moved on, turned the corner and went into a grog-shop. He soon got into a row there with two Union soldiers, who reported him to the captain. They gave him ten minutes to leave the town or else be shot. The next day the order was given for him to be hung or shot on first sight. But he concealed himself from them. A few days after this he sent my Rebel sister after me - that he had something on his mind he wanted to say to me. When I went, he wanted me to go to Missouri after his wife and two little children for him. I said with composure, "I cannot trust you to go there. Lost confidence is never gained with me. How many times in Missouri you pretended to be my friend and you were not. I might go there, and when I get there you might have my husband in wait for me. I cannot trust you to go."
He hung down his head and said, "Is that your only reason for refusing me?"
"Yes, had you been a friend in need, I would at this time risked my life to save your wife and children, Rebels as they are. Little did you think, Flem, when we lived in Missouri, and you were enjoying all the luxuries this life could afford, that you would ever have to call on me, a poor dejected woman, for help. Little did you think then, the time would come, and we would meet here at our place of abode, and you would he surrounded by foes, and in an enemy's country. But 'vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, I will repay.'"
His eyes seemed to lose their brightness; they fell to the floor. "I shall once return good for evil. I will not treat you as you once did me. I shall not report you to your enemies. Go, make your escape if you can. But to let you know that you are in my power, I shall even inform you of your hiding-places. You sleep at night in one thicket and the next night you move to another, for fear some one has seen you; and you sleep at night with a bundle of straw under your head. Your friends steal you something to eat, any way they can get the chance, and you never will know what I know you tried to do to me at Harrisonville till it falls before your eyes in print. For the love of your poor dead mother, who has kindly treated me, I now let you pass. Go, and make your escape if you can. I will not report you to your enemies."
He reached John Morgan's Brigade, and at the time of Morgan's raid through Ohio, Rice was taken prisoner, sent to Camp Douglas and kept a prisoner during the war.
METHINKS I hear my young volatile reader exclaim as he further peruses these pages:
"It is vindictiveness that has actuated the authoress to relate her history."
But no, dear reader, allow me to tell you it is not a vindictive feeling that has prompted me to do it.
My life has been an eventful one, and I think will be interesting, and perhaps, a warning to some one; and then it will help me in supporting myself and child.
Shortly after my arrival home from Missouri, I was divorced and was foolish enough to allow myself to be allured into an alliance with a widower, he being the father of seven children. I found very little more felicity there than I found with my first husband. The antipathy in this case was very natural, and consequent upon every similar occasion, and served me right for being united to a man that was so much older than myself. But I, like other women who unthinkingly pledge their affections to an unsuitable husband, could not see the impropriety of it then, and hence the result was just. His deceased wife was a cousin, and also a very dear friend of mine, and remarked to me a short time before her death, that she could die contented were she assured that I would take her place when gone, and be a mother to her children. I didn't even give this request a second thought, for I had no idea of ever doing anything of the kind. But time changes the opinions of most persons, and I eventually became the second wife. The animosity entertained by the children toward me had a pecuniary source, and daily increased. I saw this, and tried to do my duty and gain their affection, but all to no purpose; and after waiting a reasonable time for things to assume a milder aspect, I concluded there was no other remedy but to resort to a separation, as I had witnessed discord enough to retire from the service. I do not wish to throw any reflections on his children; I would not for the world. It was but natural for them to act so, and no more
than I would have suspected had I given the theme a second thought. I had tried to do a mother's part, and failing, I deemed it better to leave, than to remain where no more concord existed and to the discomfiture of others too. My husband had listened to his children's misrepresentations of me giving abuse to his little children, of which he became convinced I was not guilty when it was too late.
I had a dream, which decided for me. The reader may smile at my simplicity in being guided by a dream; but it would eventually have been the same any way. I thought I was walking down a stream of muddy water, whose murky billows almost swept over me as I strove to walk. When almost exhausted, I cast my eyes toward the shore, but the steep yellow banks on each side gave no encouragement and I was doomed to perish; but upon the bank lay the quiet golden sunbeams and so I asked the rays to help me up, and in an instant I stood upon the bank in the midst of a beautiful field of flowers, whose fragrance floated on the calm, sweet breeze, and was almost intoxicating. There was a large mirror that descended and stood before me, and looking I saw my olden features there, just as I looked when I was young, - the bright eyes, full cheek, with the bright carmine flush, all told of the happy bygone. And I saw an angel standing behind me oiling my hair, while it spoke sweetly, although in an unknown tongue. My hair hung down behind me, and had grown till it touched the ground. I was in male attire, with shoulderstraps on each shoulder. "Oh, I am in the good land at last!" I exclaimed vehemently, and then awoke to find myself still in this dreary world. The morning after, I took voluntary leave, paused
at the door a moment, looked out on the beautiful woods, all crimsoned in their autumnal robes, and thought there never was anything so beautiful. I mused on the beauties of Nature for some time, and then started with a resolve never to enter the same house again. I passed through the yard slowly, unobserved by any of them, and as I ascended the top of a hill, my mind was on a fixed conclusion. What could I do? I could not recall the past. I was entirely free from them now, I thought, as I entered the door of one of my neighbors. After informing them of my intention to live with my husband no longer, and that I had the greatest trouble both with him and the children, I thought it was to get me to relinquish all claims on his property. I said I had not married him for his property. If his whole farm had been divided into eight parts it would be about the size of a rich farmer's calf lot. We separated with no vindictive feelings, and passed the usual salutations when we met. I was not heart-broken over this separation, but immediately set to work for a livelihood, as I was wont to do. Two weeks passed slowly away. Some would say to me, "Are you sick, that makes you look so pale and sad?" I was not sick, but this being a second separation, I feared I would not get justice.
After a few months of grief I could but thank heaven that I was released from hearing the complaints of his children to him who listened attentively to them at the time. Soon after this I proceeded to Mt. Sterling. It seems as if the darker the clouds are around us the more light is sent from above to dispel them; and while I am speaking on this matter, let me beg the reader to believe that whatever the trouble or disappointment, it will not last; for the darker the night the
brighter will be the day which follows. While on a visit near Howard's Mill (at my brother-in-law's), Travis Leach arrived home from Missouri. He stated that Missouri was altogether under military control, and several counties were laid waste; that the order was given to all Southern people who had money to take themselves out of the State, and to leave soon; others, who had not money, to move to Harrisonville, the Post. So my mother-in-law was one without money, and was then in Harrisonville, and had rations issued to her the same as to the soldiers, and when he left, she had not even a house to put her head into. He said he thought as she had my child to take care of, I ought to do something for her.
"No," I ejaculated, "I shall go to Mt. Sterling at once and get a pass to go to Missouri." I proceeded to Mt. Sterling, and went to a Union camp, called for an officer and told him my business. He referred me to Major W. W. Carter. I rode to his tent, and told him I wished a pass to go to Missouri. With much dignity he replied, "Madam, prove your loyalty, and you can have one." I told him Captain John L. Williams could inform him who I was. The next morning, I received my pass. It is as follows:
"MT. STERLING, KY., October 12th, 1863.
"Pickets: Pass Mrs. Kate Plake, on any road, until further orders.
(Signed) JOHN L. WILLIAMS,
14th Kentucky Volunteers,
Captain and Provost Marshal."
"I have known Mrs. Kate Plake, and believe her to be a true Union lady. She wishes to go to
Missouri, to get her child; the father of said child is said to be in the Rebel army, and I would like all military authorities in the State of Missouri to give her the assistance she may need to procure her child.
(Signed) W. W. CARTER,
Major 5th Indiana Cavalry.
(Approved) Z. D. STRUBE,
Captain 37th Kentucky Volunteers,
and Provost Marshal."
Immediately upon the receipt of this pass, I started for Missouri, in the melancholy month of October before the rays of the morning sun had glanced over the neighboring hills, when the variegated tints began to fade away into the pale and sickly hue of the departing season. The harvest had already been gathered in. As the stage moved slowly along and the sun rose over the tops of the trees, now and then a cloud floated before the sun its shadows swept over the blue-grass pastures; the brown leaves lay in great heaps on the ground. Oh! look around upon the wonders of creation and confide in God; believe He who guideth the bird from clime to clime, will guide our soul unto its untried and unknown way. I made my way, meeting with no difficulty until I reached Syracuse, Missouri. Quantrell had made a raid and burnt the bridge, so many Union soldiers had been cut off from their command. It was impossible to pass at first. I returned to Jefferson City to take a steamer. There were only two boats runnning at that time. They were doing business for the Government, and the boat was ordered to St. Louis instead of Kansas City. I returned back on the same road. The next time I made out to get passage on the stage. I arrived
in Sedalia. Some of the officers thought best that I should remain there and let them send through after my child by escort; the country was in such commotion it would be impossible to pass. I waited two weeks. I got uneasy for fear my mother-in-law might be sent across the lines, and my child be sent with her. I knew the soldiers didn't know whose child it was. This same evening I was seated in the cars coming into a little town called the Resident. The stage agent said he had better not let me pass, as I had a spy eye. I told him if he just knew what I did, in Kentucky, he would not refuse to let me pass.
"Well, what did you do then?"
"Oh! nothing, only I turned the password wrong side outwards in Kentucky."
He said, "You go along and get into the stage."
At a late hour the stage drove into Warrensburg. I requested my name registered for the stage that night which old Uncle Jake Engles, so called by name, failed to do. It proved a lucky thing for me. That night the driver was deprived of all his clothing, the mail robbed, the horses taken, and the stage left in the road. The next morning I went to Headquarters, requesting some conveyance to pass me through the country. I ascertained that a wagon had left one hour previous to my request. I immediately returned for my carpet-sack, and requested some one to put me on the Harrisonville road. I pursued my weary way, sometimes running and walking, till I came in sight of the wagon. My efforts were in vain to catch it. At length I met with two officers and old Mr. Engles, where I had stopped the night before.
"Well, madam are you the lady that stopped at my house last night?" said Engles.
"I am, sir."
"I didn't expect to see you walking here, carrying your carpet-sack."
"Neither did I expect to meet you, sir, but anyway I demand that horse you are riding."
He dismounted handing me the bridle. "Perhaps, sir, you think I am jesting," and turning to the two officers, begged permission to press his horse, which I obtained at once after showing my pass and stating my business. I inquired if they had met with a wagon on ahead. They said they had.
"Please tell me how far you think it is ahead."
"About one mile and a half."
I requested Mr. Engles to let me ride behind him till I could catch the wagon.
He said "I fear madam, you want to take me from my wife."
"I thank you, sir, I am not out on a courting expedition at present, and if I were, I should hunt for a younger man and also a better looking one than you are, besides that, a smarter one."
This speech made him indignant. I told him he had only a moment to hesitate. I was a woman that it would not do to trifle with. I leaped into the saddle, and from there behind it, giving place to him, and requested that he would hand me up my carpet-sack and be seated in the saddle; if he did not do that, I should take his horse and sell it to the Government. There was only a moment's hesitation after this remark till he mounted the horse, and we went in a sweeping gallop. Soon coming in sight of the wagon, but descending into a little hollow it hid me from their view. He stopped his horse suddenly, and noticing he was searching in my carpet sack, he was carrying, I leaped from behind him and jerked
my carpet-sack out of his hand. Being about twenty yards in advance, I ordered him to immediately turn back, as it would he better for him; I was going to report him to the soldiers just a little way off. They had stopped the wagon to eat their dinner. The man started back at full speed. As I approached the wagon I called their attention to the man riding in such haste, and informed them of all that had happened. They were only going a little distance in the direction I wished to go. They conveyed me on to an old lady's, a short distance further on my route. They left me there, thinking the stage would be running in a few days. I watched the road two weeks, and not one individual passed, except a small boy, who informed me there would be no stage running - they were going to carry the mail on horseback. The next thought then was, how would I get to the next post, as there was scarcely a house to be seen, so they said, from one post to the other.
I made two garments for a colored woman and knit a pair of mittens for her, to get her husband to take me ten miles on horseback. There was no other horse in the neighborhood, and no other way but to ride behind him. We were to start before daylight the next morning. He said he was afraid for the Southern people to know that he helped me. On my way the next morning he was to give me the Indian whoop, and I was to be ready to start early. When I reached the house, old aunty had her white table linen spread. I breakfasted; then she had a lunch prepared for me to take on the way. Before the first peep of day, I was two or three miles on my journey, riding behind my African pilot. He took me ten miles on horseback, to where there had been a post, but the soldiers had all moved to another
post. This town was entirely deserted, except by one family. I made the inquiry which road to take. Being directed, I resumed my journey as a pedestrian. The country presented a desolate appearance along that route. I did not see or hear a bird or any living animal along the way. This is a great undertaking, I murmured to myself, as I traversed the dreary wood-path alone. But I shall not turn back. I am willing to endure the hardships of my journey if it can only be crowned with success. Difficult and wearisome enough was this travelling. I did not meet one individual on this route. I had come to one sign-post on my way. This was the only assistance I found. The next town was deserted, with the exception of a woman and a small child. She was unwilling to give me lodging for the night, but went a little distance to show a house where I could stop. It was a good distance off. I was so weary of walking and carrying my carpet-sack, several times I laid it down on the ground, almost tempted to throw it away. At last I reached the house and remained there until morning. Three gentlemen that were travelling remained there all night. The next morning I was assisted a little distance on my way to Pleasant Hill, by one of the gentlemen, when he commenced:
"Madam, I am very sorry to set you down in this dreary wood-path alone, but I cannot assist you any farther unless by greatly discommoding myself."
He directed me on my way, and turned back. I was now entirely alone. I could but thank the kind Providence that I was preserved through many years of hardships and escaped divers perils. It now appeared to me that heaven in its goodness had determined on my future happiness and union
with my dear child, once more. Now and then, coming in sight of Pleasant Hill, I moved slowly along. It was hid behind trees that skirted the woods. Just now a very old gentleman and colored man were coming in from the prairie. They wished to know who I was, and where I was going, and what my business was; for it was an unusual thing to see a woman travelling alone, with a carpet-sack, in those days. He thought I was a Rebel spy, trying to disguise myself so that I could get through the country. But he was soon satisfied that I was a female.
After leaving the old gentleman, I soon came to Pleasant Hill. I stopped at the first house I came to and called for refreshments, as I was almost tired out. After supper they advised me to report at Headquarters, and request a passage through to Harrisonville on the first wagon, which I did, but found that there was none going for three days. I went to the nearest house and obtained lodging. In the morning the regiment was to start. I sought the Captain to obtain passage. But he took no notice of me. A soldier approaching me asked if I remembered seeing him. I recognized him as being one of the soldiers before mentioned, that I saw in the wagon, soon after leaving, Warrensburg.
"Have you been all this time trying to get through the country? it is upwards of two weeks."
"Yes, sir, I have been trying my best to reach Harrisonville, and I do not see any other way than to walk through, as the Captain did not give me any encouragement." As I said this he called the Captain's attention, stating to him that I had been sent from Kentucky by the military authority, to get my child. "Please look at her pass."
As he read the lines he said, "I had no idea
that it was anything of the kind, there are so many people passing in different directions at this time."
"Would you prefer a closed or an open wagon, madam?"
"I would prefer an open one, to be seen all the way through."
No sooner were these words uttered than he gave orders to select a propel seat in a wagon, and for this same soldier to guard the wagon I rode in; besides that, if one impudent remark is uttered in her presence, the soldier that utters it is to be shot.
As the order came to march, the prairie winds swept over me. But I was protected with some of the Government blankets, that the soldiers wrapped around me. They said I would have to walk four miles after I parted with them. Their regiment was going on to Springfield. Every plantation they came to was searched over to find a horse for me. Their efforts being thwarted, they could see no other way but for me to walk four miles. When we arrived at the crossroads they discovered a man approaching slowly. The Captain gave order to halt. They pressed the citizen's horse for me to ride on to Harrisonville. He asked if I wanted to take the last horse he had left. I told him I only wanted to go to Harrisonville, and if he would be so kind as to assist me there, he might have his horse again. He saw this was all I wanted, and offered to walk and lead the horse for me. I thanked him for his kind offer, and told him if the horse would carry two, I would be willing to ride behind him, rather than have him walk so far. He took me on behind him. The soldiers told him that they would give him one more order, - that
when he got to Harrisonville, to take me to the Commander of the Post, and introduce my business to him; if I was left to hunt Headquarters. I would have to give an explanation, which might let the family know I was there, so they could by this plan conceal the child. He said that he would obey their request. They said if I met with any difficulty in getting my child, just write to Springfield, and I could have all the assistance I needed; that every man in the regiment would fight for me. I thanked them kindly for this offer and for their trouble in bringing me that far.
When we reached Harrisonville, I proceeded to Headquarters, C. S. Clark, Lt. Colonel of the 9th Kansas Vols., Commander of the Post at Harrisonville in 1863. I handed him my pass. The Colonel called for an officer to find out on what street my mother-in-law lived. The officer, Captain Fletcher, started in search of my child. I begged him to introduce himself to my mother-in-law as an acquaintance of my husband, and request to see the child. I thought by that means he would not fail to find her.
He soon returned with the desired information. He said they lived only four blocks from Headquarters, and he had represented himself as a friend of my husband. They brought her to him at once.
COLONEL CLARK wanted to know if I would go for the child or send for it. I preferred to go, but not alone. The Colonel requested the same officer to go with me to the soldiers' headquarters, and order two certain men to go with me; that he had never given them an order but what they had filled it. The two soldiers were ordered to accompany me and take the child. When I was assured of being protected I started.
As we approached the house, I observed my sister-in-law and old Mrs. Williamson, her mother-in-law, standing outside the door. But I did not speak to them, so I think they did not recognize me at first.
The guard authoritatively opened the door and we passed in. My father-in-law sat in the room we entered, also a young lady, Julia Williamson, that I was acquainted with when I lived in Missouri, who instantly recognized me and advanced to greet me. My sister-in-law entered the room at this moment, when, hearing my name announced, she looked at me in perfect amazement, while a visible shadow passed over her face.
"Where is my child they took away from me?"
As I made this announcement, her apparent astonishment and confusion vanished, giving place to the natural countenance. And after a brief pause, while her lips parted in utter consternation, she ventured to say, "How do you do, Kate?"
"I do not wish to engage in conversation with
you," I declared; "I came for my daughter; I wish to take her home with me. You have had the pleasure of keeping her a long time."
"I do not know where she is," was the muttered response.
"Yes, you do. A friend of mine saw her but a few moments before I came. Where is your mother, that took my child from me? I am now surrounded by friends, while you are destitute of any."
"I was always your friend," she said.
"Hush on such a friend as you. I heard from Mrs. Payne how you talked about me. I can send or refer people the short distance to Westport, Missouri. People there know what happened to you at your brother's; that you were the cause once of him and his wife living separate. Besides that, you separated me and my husband; but it has proved a blessing to me instead of a curse; I have got rid of a bad bargain. Your mother talks the same way about your sister-in-law as she does about me. I was at Mrs. Cantrel's, Sarah's mother, in 1861, on purpose to find out about them. From what I can learn, they are a much respected family in Westport."
"Well," she said, "they didn't live separate but a short time."
"You didn't all think that when I was forced from door to door by the tongue of your mother's family, that I would ever be able to meet you on as equal terms as I do at this time. The punishment I received was all on your account. All of my cruel treatment was caused to make me afraid to tell on you. What better off are you than I? Even my wearing-clothes were kept for you, and you wore them out, and it is out of your power to harm me again. This is the town I once had no friends in, and you were the cause of it
all. Where is your mother that has my child away from me?"
Just then I saw her approaching on horseback. I stepped out of doors and was followed by the guards. They stood by my side as much as to say, "Touch her if you dare." As she came near me she recognized me, and said:
"How do you do, Kate? Go in the house; I will come in presently."
"I do not wish to go in, madam. I have only come for my child - you have been depriving me of her long enough."
"If you have come after her you are not going to get her," she declared.
She had changed her name, even into her own name.
She continued, "Kate, you have only come here to give me trouble."
"Term it as you please, madam; if it is any trouble to you for me to have my own child I cannot help it. I wish to raise her myself. I can place her in society that you never will be able to mingle with. I will educate her properly, what you will not have done. I judge you in the way you have raised your own children. I wish to bend the twig as I wish it to grow."
"I shall go straight to Colonel Clark's headquarters, and see you don't get her."
"I thank you, madam, I am just from the Colonel, with orders to take her."
"If it comes to fighting, I have as many to fight for me as you have, Kate."
"Oh no, you haven't; your boys are all in the Rebel army. Your friends are few and far between, while I have millions on top of millions; besides I know your condition. I heard you was dispossessed before I left home; besides that,
I came within four miles of this place with upwards of a thousand soldiers going on to Springfield. If I cannot get any one to take her for me here, all I have to do is to write there and get assistance. Thank heaven, I am prepared to take her."
The guard tried to convince her it was the Colonel's orders for them to take her; but she paid no attention to them, and went straight to Headquarters. I requested one of the guards to follow her, and see that she had no opportunity to conceal my child as she went; also, to please send more soldiers to help me to search for her, and I, and the other guard, would stay and see they had no chance to conceal her from me. They had been gone but a moment, when I saw some children playing down on the prairie. I requested the guard to remain and guard the house, and see they did not conceal my child, and I would look among the children for her. I heard my sister-in-law say, in a low tone, "She will get her now." At the moment I caught the sound of her voice, as she said "she will get her now," I was convinced she was among them. I requested the guard to come with me. She is there. The guard said, "How do you know she is there, by the word she will get her now?"
"That is how I know it. I could feel no surer than if they had said she was there."
A moment's walk brought us to the spot.
"Is Mrs. --'s granddaughter here?" calling mother-in-law by name.
"Yes, madam, there she is," said a little girl, pointing her out to me.
I went to my child, and pushed back the matted hair from off her brow, and looked into her face. But three years had made a great change
in her countenance. Had not circumstances proved her mine, I would not have known her again. I took hold of her and drew her close to my bosom.
"Do you know that I am your ma?"
"I didn't know I had a ma."
"Didn't your pa ever tell you that he took you from me, and gave you to your grandma?"
"No, he didn't tell me I had a ma."
"What are you doing here?" I asked.
"Us little girls came out here, to get beads and string them to wear around our necks - little red fox-berries."
I did not know how to get her attention drawn towards me. I gave her some candy, talked to her about going home on the cars; that she would go almost as fast as a bird flying. She very soon became interested, and I led her to Headquarters without any trouble. When I reached there my mother-in-law was pleading for the child with the Colonel. As the two women in the days of Solomon, she only claimed it as her grandchild, while I claimed to be its mother, and she had kept the child from me three years, by force. I remarked, I would choose the Colonel, as a Solomon, and if he was as wise, he would give the mother her child.
My mother-in-law claimed that I was not capable of raising my child. I said, "If I am not competent to do it, I should like some lady to take your place, then." She then began to make some very rough charges against me.
"Madam," I said, while every nerve in me quivered with agitation, "I think you have persecuted me enough; besides that, our Christian emblem says, a slanderer is excluded from the gates of heaven, even from truth. I shall let other people talk about you and your daughter;
besides that, I feel that I am too prudent a woman to make use of the imprudent remarks that I would have to make use of to tell what has happened, both to you and in your family. You and your daughter both will be here but a short period before you are found out, if you are not already known. Besides that, I don't care more for what you say, nor for you, than I do for the ground under my feet. If you do talk evil against me, I shall not come down on a level with you; I will act so no one will believe you." I arose, trembling with agitation and excitement. "All that you have punished me for, some day shall come out in print." The very thought of that raised her animosity, and she sprang towards me, and jerked my bonnet off my head and hit me in the eye, but it was only a glancing blow; then she attempted to pull my hair. I stepped back from her. I suppose she thought me trying to run. I tucked up my hair; as she came towards me again, I caught her by the back of her head and locked each little finger in the hollow of her neck, and pressed hard under her ears, and she fell to the floor, like a beef. It passed through my mind how she separated myself and husband. She had robbed me of everything I had on earth, and had kept me and my child separated three years, and still was standing claiming her. Yet she had the impudence to attempt to hit me again. Patience had ceased to be a virtue, when I thought of the impositions I was once compelled to bear, when on a bed of affliction. I went into a room where the guards were, and asked one of them to please give me a pistol. They said they had none nearer than the soldiers' headquarters. I asked them to give me a knife; then they said they had none. Seeing a sabre standing in the corner, I took it and
started to the door, and said, "I can cut off her head with this, then she shall never give me any more trouble," but was followed by the guard and prevented. He wrenched the sabre out of my hand, and said, "You shall not do that; you will be put in the State prison." I walked in and caught her by the back of the head, and in an instant she was down on the floor. I had her down on the floor, and was pulling her by the head, and I intended to sit down on her head and make her cry out enough, and then let her get up, when the Colonel came and gently remarked, "Kate, it doesn't look well to see women fighting."
"No, it does not, Colonel, and this is the first attempt I ever made, through all the impositions I have ever met with. She has forced me to it, and I have been sent to the Commander of the Post, and am willing to be governed by his judgment. If you say thrash her, I will do it, and if you say withdraw, I shall take my seat."
"I say withdraw."
I sat down, and he gave the order for mother-in-law to take my child and go home. No sooner was this order given, than I arose to my feet, and as mother-in-law opened the door to obey orders, I shut it to, and pushed her back with my child, and said with composure, "you can go, but you shall not take my child with you."
The soldiers had gathered together to discover the cause of the commotion; while the Commander bore it like a hero, without bustle or agitation. Every once and awhile he repeated his order for her to take the child and go home, while I stood in a determined position, to prevent her from going. He said:
"Kate, I am the Commander of the Post here. I gave orders for her to take that child home."
"I am the owner of that child, sir. That is the worst thing you could do, to give my child to her, for I have come here for one of two things: I have come to take my child peaceably, if I can get her that way, if not, I am like the Dutch in one respect, I am determined to take her forcibly. Just for one moment think, here are two women claiming the same child, and I shall choose you as a Solomon; and if you are as wise as Solomon, you will decide the matter right, you will give the mother her child; and I repeat, such a woman shall not raise my child."
The Colonel spoke cheerfully: "Gentlemen, this is the first case I have known of since the days of Solomon; but I say, let her go home; my motive is intended for your good in giving that order."
"I don't see how you can think so. I cannot. Colonel, you promised me to take her for me, and sent me after her, and you have given her the order to take her back home again."
"Let her go, and as soon as gone, I shall give you my reason in sending her home with her. I will send for her again for you."
"I am afraid to let her go with her," I pleaded, "for fear she would take her off."
"She knows my order too well to do that," said the Commander; "she is not allowed to go farther than five miles, under penalty of being shot. Let her go, and she will not get farther than the gate till I explain my reason for sending the child with her."
"I shall let her go, and if your object does not suit me, I will follow after her and I will take my child back." Mother-in-law vanished. He asked, "Did you not say that you landed here with only fifty cents?"
"I did, sir."
"That is my reason for sending your child with her. You have no place prepared to stop at yourself, and as soon as you get in circumstances to take care of her, I will send and take her for you again." He requested Captain Fletcher to go to Lieutenant Hanah's hotel, and ask them to let me stop there, and to tell them he would settle the bill. I found him a perfect gentleman.
The next morning I got employment to defray expenses while remaining there. Several times some one came to find out if I ever expected to get my child. I told them I had the promise she would be taken for me, from one on whom I could depend would comply with his promise; while they would tell me mother-in-law was hiding my child under the bed, and she was carrying a large knife for me, which caused me very little terror. I knew the Colonel had given her orders not to come to the hotel where I was, and his special order was if she did come, she was to be shot. In three weeks the Colonel sent seven soldiers after my child and brought her to Lieutenant Hanah. They did not charge me board for her nor myself.
Lieutenant Hall, under Colonel Clark's command, on hearing my mother-in-law was still reporting me crazy, believed it, or pretended to, and attempted to make sport of me, and I noticed this, so I tried to get the best of him. I said to Mrs. Hanah, one day, "I wish you would introduce me to all of your acquaintances, as crazy Kate, I would like to make sport of that officer." One day Mrs. Robertson came in, and Mrs. Hanah arose and introduced me as crazy Kate, and also Lieutenant Hall, to Mrs. Robertson.
The Lieutenant sat and stripped his mustache
through his fingers, and a lock of hair fell carelessly upon his forehead; he sat and stripped it through his fingers, going through the motion as if he was pulling off creepers and mashing them in his teeth. Mrs. Robertson asked me a great many questions. In a moment I anticipated what her motive was. But on finding me prepared with answers for all her questions, she declared that I was not crazy.
"Why is she represented as such?" she went on.
"Didn't you hear that her mother-in-law reported her crazy because they took her child away from her?" was Mrs. Hanah's muttered response.
"I never heard of her before to-night," said Mrs. Robertson.
"Mrs. Hanah, come and go a part of the way home with me. I will not wait for Captain Robertson."
All she wanted was to ask questions about me. They started. In a few moments Mrs. Hanah returned home, and said, "I have the best joke in the world."
"On whom?" asked Lieutenant Hall.
"On you, down on South Street - tol lol liddle," sung Mrs. Hanah, "on you, Lieutenant Hall."
"I know what it is, since you mentioned South Street," declared Hall. "I was at a negro dance. I tried to get negroes to dance, and they wouldn't. I shall not tell the balance of it."
He offered Mrs. Hanah two dollars and a half to not tell the joke.
"I would not keep it from Kate, for two dollars."
He offered five dollars if she would keep it. She still refused. He offered her six cans of oysters to not tell it; they were one dollar a can. "I will accept that offer, if you will let me send for Mrs.
Robertson to come to supper," said Mrs. Hanah, "and the lady that told me the joke."
The Lieutenant started off for the oysters, and soon returned with six cans, at one dollar a can. While he was gone I coaxed Mrs. Hanah to tell me the joke, as he threatened to qualify them both never to tell any one living. I suppose something had happened him some way on South Street, and she happened to hit on the right string.
A crowd were invited, and Mrs. Robertson entered. Hall made each one of them swear to keep the joke always - to never tell any one - leaving himself entirely ignorant of what it was; and Mrs. Hanah was soon in the dining-room, preparing the supper. I whispered to Mrs. Robertson to try and get Hall out of the dining-room long enough to give me a chance to tell the joke to the guests. In an instant she was in the dining-room trying to get Hall out of the room, and soon completed it by calling him in the room, saying to come and show them how to prepare his oysters to suit him - they didn't care for none of the rest of the crowd being suited so he was - as he had gone to the expense for them. In the meantime, I had all in the room posted, that all the joke was, Lieutenant Hall was called crazier shall I was, by Mrs. Robertson. All the guests were seated around the room, except the officer, Mrs. Robertson, and myself. We were in the most conspicuous place in the room - we were seated in the middle of it. Very soon Lieutenant Hankins and Sergeant Laws joined our group. Lieutenant Hall began to pull his mustache, that had caused Mrs. Robertson to call him crazy. I spoke to Mrs. Robertson loud enough to have been heard all around the room. Hall spoke up and said:
"What was your remark, Kate?"
"Lieutenant, I don't chew my tobacco twice. You are absent-minded, or else you would have heard me."
Laws spoke without a smile: "That is one part of the joke, 'absent-minded,'" while the whole room rang with perfect laughter, and Hall enjoying the joke, thinking they were making sport of me being crazy. I laughed more than usual and asked to be excused. "I am a little crazy anyhow," and I nodded my head at Hall, throwing the whole stress on him. Sergeant Laws spoke, and yet he did not smile, and said, "That's one part of the joke, crazy." (Laughter.) "Laws, if I had a button, I would give it to you," I declared.
"What for?" he said.
"For helping me out of this scrape. I think it is worth a button."
Lieutenant Hankins arose and pulled one off Laws's own vest, and handed it to him and said, "I think it is worth a button, too, and I will give you one." Laws didn't yet smile. He said in a distressed tone, "I didn't want one off my own clothes." (Laughter.) I promised to sew all of the buttons on his clothes, that came off, free of charge, as long as I remained in Harrisonville.
Supper came on, and the party wound up by Laws declaring that a crazy person like me, could do anything they wanted to. So that night I was to dream the joke, and tell it at the breakfast table, and prove it by Mrs. Hanah, if I dreamed right. Hall didn't make his appearance at the table the next morning, for fear I would dream right. Nothing was said to him for two weeks; and one day he sat looking very sad, and requested me to go to the Commander and persuade him to give him a furlough, to go home and see his wife; he had been trying and could not succeed
in getting it. The Colonel never denied anything he requested him to do before; he didn't know what had got the matter with him. I said "I think I can tell you, Lieutenant, what is the matter with him. You know that joke they have on you. It's most awful. Quite likely he has heard it, and it has injured you with him. One thing I am sure of; if it does get to Headquarters, and it is proven to be the truth, you will not be considered competent to hold your commission in the army." This made him uneasy. I proved the same by Mrs. Hanah. I told him if he only knew what the joke was they had on him, he might remedy it a very little. He wanted Mrs. Hanah to tell him what it was; but she refused to tell him - she could not break her oath, for anything in the world; that he should have learned what it was before he made her take the oath; "none but Kate can tell you what it was."
"How does she know anything about it?"
"I informed her of it while you were gone after the oysters; I thought she ought to know it, as it was a little concerning her."
I declared I would not tell him unless he paid me to tell him, for he had paid the other two ladies three dollars apiece to never tell any one, and if he would give me one dollar I would tell him what it was.
He handed me the one dollar. I said, "Sold again. You were only called crazier than I was."
It only cost him seven dollars for being called crazier than I. He held out his hand to me for friendship, if I would never start any more jokes on him, declaring he was more plagued than if it had been something.
The morning after this, Dr. Wakefield called, - a surgical operator in the army. He said if Mrs.
Wakefield only knew he called to hear me talk, she would make a fuss about it.
"Not if she was acquainted with me, she would not."
"Why not?" said the Doctor.
"Because those that are acquainted with me form no such opinions; and if she says anything to you, send her to me; I can soon settle it."
"What would you do to her? Would you whip her?"
"Would you stab her?"
"Would you shoot her?"
"Well, tell me what you would do to her, then; I think too much of my wife to send her in danger."
"I would play Mormon with her."
"What is that?"
"I will propose a swap. I will tell her I will give her my husband for hers. I left one in Kentucky, and if that does not suit her, I understand that I have one hiding around here in the brush. I will give her two for one."
That was the first he knew I had been married twice and separated.
Soon after this my sister-in-law was married to a private soldier. Her first husband died soon after I left my first husband. She came to the hotel to get me to let her take my child with her to get some candy. But I refused to let her go, stating that the soldiers had given her several pounds, and she had no need of any. She said she thought it hard for me to refuse an aunt such a favor.
Every nerve in me quivered with agitation, as I said, "Do you pretend to place yourself as being nearer to my child than I am?"
"She feels as near to me as my own child does, having kept her such a long time."
"Did I not come from Kentucky, in 1861, and was deprived even the privilege of seeing my child. She was forced from my bosom, at nine months old. What do you suppose my feelings were? She is in my own possession now and no thanks to any of you. And I intend to keep my child in good society. She shall never have anything to do with you nor any of the rest of your family."
The old soldier, Johnny Jackson, said, "I think you are complimenting me, very highly."
"Yes, but nevertheless, it is true."
Lieutenant Hankins said, "Stick to your child, Kate."
They saw every soldier around me ready to stand at my back, if they made an attempt to try to get my child; and they left me to enjoy my triumph. Lieutenant Hankins made up a considerable sum of money to assist me home with my child. If any one doubts any of the statements of the facts here mentioned, let them write to Harrisonville, Cass County, Missouri, to Captain Robertson, or any other name mentioned. They will be able to ascertain my statements are correct. They sent me through by escort to a little town called Clinton, Missouri, as there was no stage running from Harrisonville. On our way, the Captain sighted me to a thicket, where he saw a small party of men. We supposed at once that it was my husband in wait for me, to try to get my child. I begged that he would give me a pistol, as he had two. He wanted me tell him what I wanted with it. I threatened to take deliberate aim at my husband, and prevent him getting my child again. He requested me to describe his
features to him and he would do the work for me. He said before they got to fighting, they would have to leave the wagon, to keep the bullets from myself and child. He said there is five in number, and I and all of my men have sworn to be your friends and protect you. In the meantime, I had resolved to myself in the midst of the fight to drive back to Harrisonville, and leave my child and wagon, and get enough men to scour the woods over, and mount a cavalry-horse and lead them to the spot; but each party sent out a man to manoeuvre till they met and gave the countersign. They were Union citizens, hunting up hogs. I soon reached Sedalia, and found Mrs. Colonel Phillips. She requested me to remain there several days, her husband was going to do something for me. I shall give the following lines, that will inform you what it was. The Colonel also gave me free transportation to St. Louis.
"SEDALIA, Mo., December 16th, 1863.
"LADIES AND CITIZENS OF THE UNION LEAGUE OF ST. LOUIS, Mo.
"The soldiers and citizens of this Post have donated a considerable amount to assist the bearer, Mrs. Kate Plake, recently of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, to proceed on her journey to Harrisonville, Cass County, from which place she has just returned, having accomplished the object of her journey - the recovery of her little child, who had been separated from her through the efforts of her Rebel relatives. She now goes to St. Louis, and we consign her to your generous guardianship. Her idea is to obtain work at the Government clothing manufactory; but we have very little faith in her being able to support herself and child in such employment in St. Louis.
"As she brings with her good reference from the authorities of her locality in Kentucky, our recommendation is, that she be sent there at once.
"By order of
"By Lieutenant S. E. HALL
Seventh M. S. M. Cavalry."
In searching for the President of the Union League, I met the Quartermaster-General, who gave me a note as a kind of indorsement to the letter.
"HEADQUARTERS STATE OF MISSOURI,
OFFICE OF THE QUARTERMASTER GENERAL,
ST. LOUIS, MO. December 19th, 1863.
"I am well acquainted with Lieutenant Hall, Seventh Cavalry M. S. M., and have no doubt of the correctness of his statement in reference to Mrs. Kate Plake.
(Signed) "E. ANSON MOORE,
Quartermaster General of Missouri."
(To whom it may concern.)
I soon reached home, and my second husband and I passed the usual salutations When we met. I saw wherein I could still be a benefit to my country and its cause.
I went on business to see the Governor, at Frankfort, Kentucky, and received the following letter. He said I was accepted into actual service to go wherever I saw I could be any benefit:
"COMMONWEALTH OF KY. EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY, August 17th, 1864.
MAJOR GENERAL S. G. BURBRIDGE,
"GENERAL: Mrs. Kate Plake has a plan which you can doubtless make of great value. She comes well recommended, and I am satisfied that
she may be employed and render invaluable service in the way proposed by her. I have directed her to see you and lay her plans fully before you.
"THOMAS E. BRAMLETTE."
"HEADQUARTERS KENTUCKY STATE SECRET SERVICE,
FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY, August 29th, 1864.
"GENERAL: The bearer of this, Mrs. Kate Plake, comes to me well recommended, and desires to engage in the secret service. The plan she proposes is, I think, a good one, and I am of the opinion that she can render good service. She has been in the service heretofore and has successfully carried out some very important plans. She will explain the idea of the mission she proposes going on, which I think may be of importance.
I am, very respectfully, yours,
"J. K. EDWARDS,
Colonel and Chief of Kentucky State Secret Service."
I was in a strange place and no one to recommend me. I tried some time to get into employment. Some would say, "I don't want you with your child." Others would say, "I would prefer to get some one I am acquainted with." I returned turned to my room.
THE sun was sinking behind the western slope, and gradually giving way to the calm and beautiful twilight hours, and as I watched the shadows lengthening an irresistible chill crept o'er my soul. I felt ready to exclaim with the Psalmist, "I have seen an end of all perfection." Once I had a kind father, a tender loving mother, dear brother and sisters, a husband, and very many kind friends. But where are they now? They either sleep beneath the cold sod, or wander wholly oblivious of me. I am left alone to contend with the elements of this cold world as best I may, with none to love me save my little child; none to speak a word of sympathy or encouragement. Alone, homeless, penniless and disheartened; no friends, no guide but the one above, who has promised, "that none shall seek him in vain." Oh, well do I remember, away in the long ago, when my mother clasped me to her breast, and implored the good Lord to spare her little one, and shield her from all the sorrows and trials of this life; and I thought in my childish innocence, as I saw the great tears fall from her eyes, ah! I shall ever be thus happy; for mother has asked, and she says God will hear the prayers of the righteous, when they seek earnestly. But alas! that vain delusion. But I shall not murmur. I know my life has been a hard one; but God is good, and doeth all things well.
I left my room and picked up the paper, and noticing the Governor was in the city, going to deliver a speech, I went to the Louisville Hotel
and sought his hospitality. He transported me free to Frankfort, and told me to stop at the Capitol Hotel till he could see what he could do. When he arrived home, I went to his office, and received the following letter:
"STATE OF KENTUCKY, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
FRANKFORT, KY., August 21st, 1865.
"The bearer of this, Mrs. Kate Plake, who comes to me well recommended as a true Union lady, is desirous of getting a home for her little daughter, a sprightly little girl of six years of age. I trust some charitable person will adopt the little girl, and give her the benefit of an education and a home. The blessing of an orphan will ever richly reward the charitable heart for such benefits aptly bestowed.
"THOMAS E. BRAMLETTE."
He also inclosed ten dollars in the letter, and told me to publish it in the paper - the letter was reference enough to get me employment. That was when I concluded to bring my history before the public. My intention in writing this book was not to set forth vindictive sentiments; but to aid in my support. I would not bring any maledictions upon any of my persecutors, and that is why I have been thus careful. Although our sins be as crimson, they shall be as snow; though they be like scarlet, they shall be white, like wool; and in that heavenly land, that I shall never cease to strive for, I hope to meet them all there, free from that evil principle which actuated them to commit the wrongs done here.
Soon after this letter was written by the Governor, I was stopping with Rebels, and I told them I had been a female detective, but was not employed
in anything of the kind then; I had withdrawn from service while in Frankfort. I heard them plotting how they would get the advantage of me, and they plotted to have a Southern doctor and Southern witnesses, and represent me crazy; they would have things plainly understood with all the witnesses before they made things public. In that way, they would give me no chance to prove myself clear. I was to be kept a prisoner all my life; that was to be my punishment for going against them. I waited to hear no more, but walked leisurely till I got off the door-step, and went into a kitchen where colored people were, on the opposite side of the street. I told them I had been a female detective. They soon informed me their mistress was a Rebel. I told them to make an excuse, if she came, in that I wanted something to eat. That instant she came in to ask me what I wanted in her kitchen. The colored woman asked her if she would be pleased to give me something to eat. While she was gone to get something, I got this colored lady's son to go to a Union camp and report their plan to prove me crazy; and I sent them word to send a certain surgical operator in the army - I wanted a Union doctor to judge whether I was crazy. The boy started off to report. The woman entered with a buttered biscuit and a ripe peach, and went back in the house. The colored woman thought best that I should make my escape. I started with a resolve to try to make my escape to a Union camp for protection; and as I passed around the house to go out of the gate - I suppose the people of the house had been acquainted with the plan, for the man and his wife were both standing guard, ready to prevent me from going out of the gate - they gave me the order not to
attempt to go out of the gate. I put my hand in my pocket and dared either of them to step one foot off the steps; and they let me pass. I had got several squares down the street, and being followed by two Rebel citizens, they triumphantly dragged me back, cursing me, and saying, "You have been a United States detective, have you! d--n you!"
"Yes, I have," I declared, "and I dare you to just slip one hair out of its place, out of my head. I have got you reported, sir."
"Who have you reported me by?"
"That is my business - make me tell it. I know the Radical password and decision; make me tell that if you can."
By this time about twenty-five people were coming along behind me; and this same colored woman among them. I said, "You need not think, sir, such a crowd of people are here, and none of them are Union. I have one friend in the crowd, sir. There is one here will report anyhow. The colored woman gave the signal she would."
"Who is your friend that will report?"
"Make me betray a friend if you can! No, not if you were to put my head under the fence, you could not make me tell who it is. I have sent for a Union Doctor, to come early to-morrow morning, and if I am not released then, I have sent for enough Union soldiers to tear every brick from the top of the house to the bottom, if I am not released. I shall only stay in your charge one night. It is no joke, I have you reported." They locked me in a room, till the Doctor called.
The next morning he wanted to see me, but he was refused. At first they said I was crazy, but he said he wanted to see for himself. The door was opened for him. One of these Rebels came
with him to the door, to hear all I said to him. I told him to listen if he wanted to, I didn't fear to talk before him. I said, "Doctor, they called on me for my valuables. I told them I had none, only my copyright. I had secured it in the hands of A. J. Ballard, the clerk of the Supreme Court of Louisville. I valued my child; she had been taken from a Rebel husband by the military."
At last I settled in Newport, Kentucky, and thought I could live in some degree of happiness; and the woman I lived in the same house with, Archy McIllan's wife, wanted me to be a wash-woman for her; but I refused, thinking I could support myself in canvassing better. Our children, though small as they were, had a spat. They wanted me to whip mine, and I refused to do it, saying, "I supposed one was as much in fault as the other; if she would use Solomon's rod with hers, I would with mine." She would not, neither would I. The next Friday night her husband came home intoxicated. Mrs. Jackson informed me the drunken wretch had put me under arrest. I knew she was confident that I was not guilty of any crime. Therefore I requested her to accompany me to the Mayor of the city. Two officers made their appearance, and said if I did not give them ten dollars they would put me in jail. "If you do, you had better keep me there for life. I shall lay you two men and Archy McIllan low, as soon as I come out, and the second trip I shall go for something." I went to the Mayor of the city, and he released me that night, by giving Mrs. Jackson as security for me to come the next evening at 7 o'clock, to the court-house. I employed a Mr. Berry, a lawyer, to attend to the case for me. He didn't come, but sent some one else in his place. I thought as he had faltered
there might be some intrigue. I refused to employ him, and employed Lawyer Root, Sr., and in a few minutes Archy excused himself to go home, and returned with ten dollars, and laid it in my lawyer's hand, and said, "I will give you that to attend to me." I felt confounded, and thought I shall be lodged in jail, innocent or not, but woe unto the one who has been the cause of it when I come out. I was determined to fight a duel with him on account of it, woman as I was, if I did have to go to jail.
Lawyer Root, Jr., said, "Madam, what do you want?"
"I want some one to interrogate that man for me; he has brought me here innocent of a charge, and if he does swear different, I have four witnesses here to prove I am innocent of any charge."
"I am a lawyer, madam, - I will plead the case for you."
"If you please, sir."
The son then pleaded against the father. He interrogated according to what questions I had written down.
"What did you bring Mrs. Plake here for, McIllan?"
"Not much of anything - to keep her from talking."
"Did she make use of any profane language?"
"I can't say that she did."
"What did you bring her here for, then."
"Not much of anything. Her child slapped my child. I won't have my little children abused, now, so I won't now."
"Where did this happen?"
"On the corner of Front and Saratoga Streets.'"
"Well, tell something she has done to you."
"I did tell you once."
"Well, tell it over."
"I did tell it, once. I asked her to go to a picnic the other day, and she took an insult at it. She told me to go with my wife - she didn't go with married men. I didn't know I was doing any harm."
Several of them pointed at him, and there was such laughing in the court-house, the Mayor called silence.
Each interrogation was better and better for me, till I began to feel like a bird let out of a fowler's net. I began to see where to flee for safety. The Junior wanted to know if I had any questions to ask him. I said yes.
"Well ask him any question you want to, then."
"Where were you, Archy McIllan, when these things occurred you are charging me with?"
He answered he was over in Cincinnati, in the Boiler Yard.
"You took me up on hearsay evidence, then."
"Yes," he answered, "I took her up on hearsay evidence."
"Well, well," said the Mayor, "Archy, I shall have to put you down in the costs."
He lost his ten dollars he laid in Senior's lap, and it was settled without him saying one word. But Junior made me a present of his charge, and said, "If I had any more such cases as that, to come to him, and he would plead it for me for nothing."
Very soon the same man's wife raised a row with Mrs. Jackson, and she went then and got out a writ for her, and had me bound up in the peace warrant with her. I had not spoken to her, nor I didn't intend to; but knowing that in such a case I could have no chance for justice, I was determined not to be taken to the court-
...............ash again. I left Newport and went Covington and waited till the writ was so many days old, so I came out all right again. I thought best to get a place and board my child. I sent her from me on the 4th day of July, 1866. On the 5th I called to see her. No little girl ever seemed more desolate and broken-hearted than she did when she found I was going to leave her. She pleaded, "Oh, mamma, please let me go with you; I want to go with you, so badly."
"Daughter, don't they treat you kindly?"
"Yes, mamma, but I want to go with you," while the tears were stealing down her cheeks. My heart throbbed with profound tenderness and sympathy, that none but a mother could tell, and I had to say, "Daughter, I have not the money to take you with me, won't you stay here for ma, dear, till I get our book printed?" Her lovely childish face had a sorrowful expression. Even then I was not wholly cast down. God is good and merciful. I will never cease to hope.
Business brought me to Washington, D. C. From that place I went through Bath and Montgomery counties, Kentucky, with the intention to visit my relatives there. But I found that my connection with the Union cause had blotted out all kindred feelings in them, they being arch-rebels. I found it necessary, therefore, to abandon home, in order to give my undivided attention to the services I had engaged to perform, which step I have never once regretted.
On my way to St. Louis, I passed through Frankfort and Louisville, Kentucky. I went to St. Louis for the purpose of having a small pamphlet printed, relative to my experiences. Being devoid of means, I at last, after many hardships and trials, succeeded in getting one hundred
copies printed, and as soon as I g.............. nearly paid, he took the types down. ........... pamphlets in charge of a certain bookstore in Louis, and advertised for canvassers in each ward of the city. I had entire confidence in the parties keeping the bookstore mentioned, and they engaged to find canvassers for me. A few days after, I called at their place, but to my astonishment they declared that no one had called. But still I doubted not their honesty.
After finding that my pamphlet, entitled "Trouble and Romance; or, Real Life of Mrs. Kate Plake," met with a rapid sale, I made up my mind to write a larger one. The forenoons I employed in writing, while the afternoons I devoted to canvassing, in order to enable me to meet my running expenses. While thus engaged, I came into different parts of the city, meeting many gentlemen, who informed me that they had already donated the amount of twenty-five cents to five dollars. I therefore became aware that there were certain parties in that city who, without being authorized by me, used my name to extort, under various pretexts, money from the public; - some saying that they were owners of the pamphlet and mothers of several children; while others pretended that they were sent by me - that I was prevented through illness to canvass, myself, and that money was needed to support my child, who was at that time in the Orphan School at Cincinnati. These statements were false. I paid twenty-five cents for each book which the two women sold whom I employed to canvass for me in St. Louis.
To further prevent the public and myself from being defrauded by these impostors, I now took every means to publish their unauthorized proceedings,
and apprised the public that I had withdrawn the privilege to sell my pamphlet from every one except the bookstore I had first engaged. I also employed detectives to find out all those who sold my pamphlet without being authorized, my intention being to prosecute them through the law.
I had left St. Louis some time for the purpose of canvassing in other places. On my return to that city, the man who printed my pamphlet asked me if I had commenced a suit against any one who had unauthorizedly sold my book.
"Not yet," I hastily replied; "I only fear that suit may fall to your lot."
I am sorry to say to the public, that I have lost all confidence in the printer that printed my books in St. Louis, and the man that had them in his bookstore could not get me to place them in his hands again. I am only sorry to lose confidence in people I once placed so much confidence in as I did in these two men. If they had bestowed the favor on me they pretended to, they could have printed and sold all for me that I could have sold through the United States. I must say that I think harder of the parties in St. Louis for defrauding my friends more than the injury they have done me. I understand the same parties have made a threat that I shall never make anything on the publication of my books. I threaten in the same way they shall not enjoy the sum they make, if they try the same game. I shall very politely invite them into the United States court. There is none but E. C. Markley, of Philadelphia, on Library Street, allowed to print this last edition. He has been recommended all over this city, as a trustworthy gentleman, and I am not afraid to trust
him. The first pamphlets, no one has any right to print but me, and that story was only harping on what was to come. I know that I didn't receive twenty-five dollars in St. Louis in all the canvassing that was done in the whole city, except what I sold myself. I understand the printer printed over and above the number I ordered, and placed three thousand copies in the bookstore, and the well-known bookseller had them sold under the presence that it was for my special benefit. I say when they were printed I placed three hundred books in his bookstore to sell for me. I received only three dollars from him for all he sold for my benefit; nearly all of the three hundred was returned to me, and he said he could not sell them. He didn't tell me though he and the printer had canvassers all over the city selling them; and also begging for them, with the pretence it was for my benefit. They thought me a greenhorn, I could not tell the boundary I sold them in. I came out from writing my manuscript the city was canvassed over. The reason I did not put a notice in the paper then, I waited to be convinced who the impostors were that had done it. Little did I think that rich men would defraud me, and those whom I was trusting as my friends. I have this notice printed in self-defence. I warn them to be careful.
I received some letters from the parties that had my child, but they didn't let me know anything particular about Myrtle. I wrote to know the reason of this, and they wrote me that they had put her in an Orphan's School, in Cincinnati. I wrote to the superintendent of the school, and he gave me this reply:
"OFFICE OF THE CHILDREN'S HOME,
19 AND 21 PARK STREET, CINCINNATI,
1st month 1st, 1867.
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI.
Respected Friend: Thy letter of the 24th ult. has come to hand. The little girl, which I presume is your child, was brought to the Home on the 20th of September last by Mrs. Radly, who gave her name as Myrtle Grifin, and said you had gone down the river to try to get your book published that you had been gone at that time some months - and they could get no word from you, and thought most likely you had taken the cholera and died; that she could not very well keep the child any longer, and from what she had heard of this institution, she thought that we would be more likely to find a good home for the child than she could. We kept her until the seventh of last month, and then placed her in a good home out of the city, as we do not intend to have our girls raised up as servant-girls. Since then Mr. Radly was here, and said he had received several letters from you, about the same time, and that you had sent him money to pay for keeping her whilst he had her. They sent a few clothes here, I do not know exactly what, as I do not have charge of that matter, and the lady who was then acting Matron is not here now. The little girl was quite well when she left here; but she had the cholera very bad whilst here. We had no thought that she would get well. Her tongue was quite cold for some time, but she did recover. I inclose one of our circulars, which will explain the conditions upon which we place children in homes. If you do not feel, under the circumstances, like
raising the child yourself, you cannot perhaps do better than to leave her in our care. The family who have taken her have no children of their own, and are quite well to do in the world.
Respectfully, thy friend,
The following is the circular from the "Home."
This Institution aims to ameliorate and elevate the condition of children of poor and unfortunate parents:
1st. By procuring for the homeless and destitute who may be committed to it, in accordance with its charter, permanent country homes in Christian families, where they shall be trained in habits of industry, and receive a suitable English education. They are clothed, fed, and instructed gratuitously as long as they remain in the Institution.
2d. By affording a temporary home to poor children, whose parents thus aided, may be enabled to support them in a short time in homes of their own.
3d. By rescuing from the education of the streets, so ruinous in its effects, many, who for the want of clothing, books, &c., do not attend our Public Schools; to accomplish this, a day school, under the supervision of the School Board, has been formed. There are now over one hundred such children in attendance, who have the privilege of partaking of a warm dinner each day, and clothing is furnished to the most destitute.
1st. The applicant must not live in a city or village. Homes being preferred with farmers in the country.
2d. He is required to be a member of some evangelical Christian Church; as we desire the children to have the benefit of Christian training and example, in the family, the Sabbath-school, and the Church.
3d. He is to agree to take the child into his family, clothe and feed it comfortably, give it good common school education so as to enable it to enter creditably on the ordinary duties of life.
4th. He is to agree to train it up, so far as he is able, in the precepts of virtue and the Christian religion.
5th. Where boys remain in the family until they are twenty-one years of age, and prove to be dutiful and obedient, they are to receive two hundred and fifty dollars. Girls at eighteen, one hundred dollars.
6th. Where persons apply who are personally unknown to the superintendent, they must give city references, or the certificate of responsible persons of their acquaintance, setting forth their character, and the fitness of their family as a home for a child.
7th. Children will be taken to their homes by the superintendent or the parties with whom they are to live, or their friends, at the expense of the applicant.
8th. Parties having children will be expected to report to the superintendent every three months.
A cordial invitation is extended to all to visit the "Home."
TRUSTEES FOR 1866 - Murray Shipley, President; O. N. Bush, Treasurer; H. H. Smith, Secretary, S. S. Fisher, John Shillito, B. Homans, Jr., George F. Davis, T. C. O'Kane.
MANAGERS, 1866 - Mary J. Taylor, 100 Eighth Street; Hannah D. Shipley, 329 Seventh Street, Hannah P. Smith, 437 Sixth Street; Elizabeth L. Taylor, 100 Eighth Street, Lydia S. Bateman, 38 McFarland Street; Mary S. Johnson, 38 McFarland Street; Harriet D. Bush, Mt. Auburn; Aurelia S. Fisher, Mt. Auburn; Cornelia B. Marsh, 35 York Street; Daniel Hill, superintendent; Martha Hill, Matron; J. Fohl, Missionary.
Since I came here to Philadelphia I met the gentleman that kept the prison at Alton (Alton Penitentiary) in 1864. At the time the Rebels made their escape from prison, my husband was among the number, and, as he reached the banks of the Mississippi, he received a shot which blew the top of his head off. His remains quietly sleep under the waves, unconscious of his evil.
The following lines were cut from The Democrat, a paper of St. Louis, on reading a little book entitled "Trouble and Romance," a life history of the heroine and authoress, Mrs. Kate Plake, of Kentucky:
Who has not read a tale of woman's wrong
In romance, novel, history, or song?
If you have not, pray read her little book; -
A strange wild story 'tis, and worth a look
Into its simple pages for awhile;
'Twill a few hours, perhaps a day? beguile.
'Tis a sad, sad story of her wedded life,
Commencing with, and ending, too, in strife!
A lesson 'tis to all, both maid and bride,
To wife and mother, and to man beside;
All hearts may learn, all minds a moral make,
By conning o'er the history of KATE PLAKE.
Her troubles first with her first husband came;
Who reads may learn how much he was to blame:
Enough that she was bound
Arms, hands and foot and thus, at length, was found
By a wild chieftain of the Indian race,
Who gazed in pity on her woe-worn face,
Resolving in his mind, perhaps, to be her friend;
To cut her hempen cords, and succor lend;
But he came not, she never saw him more;
Alas! alas! her troubles were not o'er.
Bound fast and strong, as maniacs are oft,
By her own husband tied; her wrists so soft,
Showing the welts of thongs too strong to break!
The stoutest heart might quiver too, and quake,
For frail humanity, proud manhood's boast,
When he did see a woman thus like ghost,
Or pale "Godiva" stalking thro' the night,
Fleeing like deer pursued - a piteous plight!
Pursued as hounds pursue a panting doe,
So she escaped her husband and her foe.
She left his roof, who'd sworn for aye to love,
And be her shield 'fore all the saints above,
But for the offspring of her early troth,
Her darling Myrtle, well-beloved of both,
She back returned with many a vow to find
Her precious treasure she had left behind!
Her resolutions knew no faltering fear,
She loved her child and felt its presence dear.
War's blast sounds o'er Kentucky's hills,
And danger threatened her with serious ills;
But with a mother's yearning forth she went
On her sad errand wildly, madly bent!
"My child! my child!" in agony she cried,
"My child!" re-echoed caverns far and wide.
"Give me my child," the woe-worn mother said,
Nor sought for rest, nor asked she for bread.
Like Rachel, comfortless she wept her child,
Her darling Myrtle lost! in accents wild!
Like Niobe all tears she wept by turns and then,
Weeping afresh, she wandered forth again,
Through glens and grasses rank, and tangled weeds,
'Neath forest arches onward still she speeds;
By by-paths cheerless, and through lonely roads,
Nor morass stops; - no fear when madness goads!
With singleness of heart and purpose brave
She sought her child, and sought her but to save.
Triumphant in her mission, back she came,
Bearing the pledge of wedded love, and shame,
Of shame that he, her husband and her lord,
Deserter like, had broke his plighted word,
And left her and her babe to join the foe,
Where treason reigned, and Price had struck the blow
That placed Missouri 'neath the flag whose bars
Defiant waved against the stripes and stars!
Base as he was - the father of her child -
This act was basest yet, and drove her wild!
Forth to her loyal heart and loyal home
She back returned to dream of days to come;
Of happier days on old Kentucky's shore
Beneath her mother's roof, so loved of yore.
But we propose and Heaven disposes aye:
The eagle soars but in his flight may die:
A shaft, undreamed of, strikes his broad bare breast,
He quivers, falls, and droops his kingly crest.
He dies! so ends the feathered monarch's dream;
So mortals hope, but God directs the beam!
The sunshine and the shade alike He rules,
And fortune gives, or with experience schools;
Well know we what we are, but who can tell
His future lot, - or know 'tis ill or well?
Not one, I ween; so she ne'er knew her fate,
Nor dreamed alas! until it was too late.
Again in Hymen's bonds a willing wife
She pledged her hand and gave herself for life!
Alas! too fickle were the wedding words -
The knot was cut us 'twere with sharpened swords;
With mutual thrust they severed Hymen's chain,
And then our heroine was free again.
Next in the field a Union spy we see,
The strange adventuress, for a golden fee,
Risks for her flag, her country, and her child,
Her dearer self - for these she worked and toiled -
For these, with heart heroic ventured forth
A daring woman of the loyal North!
Gleaned news of import from the Rebel camps
And back returned through dark and dangerous swamps,
Or where the lonely picket walked his round,
Or weary outpost watched, or halt was found;
From whistling bullets she ne'er swerved an inch;
Nor fear dismayed, nor danger made her flinch!
In secret service thus she went her way,
Brave as the bravest soldier in the fray.
Her duty done and war's dread carnage o'er,
She clasps her child, to wander forth no more.
But with a little volume of her life,
Defies earth's cares, its trials, and its strife.
Appeals for patronage and asks no more
To feed her purse and drive want from the door.
When thus she pleads, is there a man who hears,
Can e'er refuse a woman's earnest prayers?