I looked at it, then into his manly, handsome face, and answered:
“There is blood on it; the blood of women and children slain at their own altars, on their own hearthstones, that you might spread the glorious American institution of woman-whipping and baby-stealing.”
“Oh,” he exclaimed, “This is too bad! I swear to you I never killed a woman or a child.”
“Then you did not fight in Mexico, did not help to bombard Buena Vista.”
His friends joined him, and insisted that I did the Colonel great wrong, when he looked squarely into my face and, holding out his hand, said:
“For sake of the old church, for sake of the old man, for sake of the old times, give me your hand.”
I laid it in his, and hurried away, unable to speak, for he was the most eloquent man in Pennsylvania. He fell at last at the head of his regiment, while fighting in the battle of Fair Oaks, for that freedom he had betrayed in Mexico.
When Kossuth was on his starring tour in this country, he used to create wild enthusiasm by “Your own late glorious struggle with Mexico;” but when he reached that climax in his Pittsburg speech a dead silence fell upon the vast, cheering audience.
The social ostracism I had expected when I stepped into the political arena, proved to be Bunyan lions. Instead of shame there came such a crop of glory that I thought of pulling down my barns and building greater, that I might have where to store my new goods. Among the press notices copied by the Journal was this:
“The Pittsburg Commercial Journal has a new contributor who signs her name ‘Jane G. Swisshelm,’ dips her pen in liquid gold, and sands her paper with the down from butterflies’ wings.”
This troubled me, because it seemed as though I had been working for praise; still the pretty compliment gratified me.
Paul fought with beasts at Ephesus, as a part of his training for that “good fight” with principalities and powers and iniquity in high places, and I think that Tom and the bears helped to prepare me for a long conflict with the southern tiger. I had early come to think that Tom would kill some of the children who trooped to see him, and that I should be responsible as I alone saw the danger. This danger I sought to avert, but how to dispose of the beautiful creature I could not conjecture. There was usually a loaded gun in the house, but I was almost as much afraid of it as of Tom. All our neighbors were delighted with him and loath to have him killed. I had once tried to poison a cat but failed, and I would not torture Tom. I wanted Dr. Palmer to give me a dose for him, but he declined. I tried in vain to get some one to shoot him. Then I thought of striking the great beast on the head with a hatchet, while he had hold of some domestic animal. The plan seemed feasible, but I kept my own council and my hatchet, and practiced with it until I could hit a mark, and thought I could bury the sharp blade in Tom’s skull.