“Walter; so you’re here, as I thought! I’ve come for you. Lincoln has called for seventy-five thousand troops to defend the capital; but we all know what that means—an invasion of the South. The North’s a unit now, and so is the South. Davis has called for volunteers, and the war-cry is resounding all over the land. We’re raising a company: I’m appointed captain, and you lieutenant. Come; if you hesitate now—you’ll repent it: father says he’ll disown you forever.”
Arthur’s utterance was fierce and rapid, but now he was compelled to pause for a breath, and Walter answered with excitement in his tones also.
“Of course if it has come to that, I will not hesitate to defend my native soil, my home, my parents.”
“All right; come on then; we leave to-night.”
Walter’s horse was ordered at once, and in a few moments the brothers were galloping away side by side. Mrs. Murray looked after them with a sigh.
“Ah me! the poor laddies! will they die on the battle field? Ah, wae’s me, but war’s an awfu’ thing!”
At Roselands all was bustle and excitement, every one eager, as it seemed, to hasten the departure of the young men.
But when everything was ready and the final adieus must be spoken, the mother embraced them with tears and sobs, and even Enna’s voice faltered and her eyes grew moist.
Mounting, they rode rapidly down the avenue, each followed by his own servant—and out at the great gate. Walter wheeled his horse. “One last look at the old home, Art,” he said; “we may never see it again.”
“Always sentimental, Wal,” laughed Arthur, somewhat scornfully; “but have your way.” And he, too, wheeled about for a last farewell look.
The moon had just risen, and by her silvery light the lordly mansion—with its clustering vines, the gardens, the lawn, the shrubbery, and the grand old trees—was distinctly visible. Never had the place looked more lovely. The evening breeze brought to their nostrils the delicious scent of roses in full bloom, and a nightingale poured forth a song of ravishing sweetness from a thicket hard by.
Somehow her song seemed to go to Walter’s very heart and a sad foreboding oppressed him as they gazed and listened for several moments, then turned their horses’ heads and galloped down the road.
“Is’t death to
fall for Freedom’s right?
He’s dead alone who lacks her light.”
Wee Elsie was convalescing rapidly, and the hearts so wrung with anguish at sight of her sufferings and the fear of losing her, relieved from that, were again filled with the intense anxiety for their country, which for a short space had been half forgotten in the severity of the trial apparently so close at hand.
Mails from America came irregularly; now and then letters and papers from Philadelphia, New York, and other parts of the North; very seldom anything from the South.