After I came out of the hospitals the Warden talked to me about my situation and feelings. He advised me to go into the blacksmith shop, of course not dreaming that I knew anything of the work; but he said I would have more liberty there; that the men moved about freely and could talk to each other; that the work mainly was sharpening picks and tools, and that I could at least blow and strike. So I went into the blacksmith shop, and remained their six weeks. But, debilitated as I was, the work was too hard for me, and so the warden put me in the yard to do what I could. I also swept the halls and assisted in the cook-room. One day when the warden spoke to me, I told him that I knew something about taking care of the sick, and after some conversation, he transferred me to the hospital as a nurse.
Here, if there is such a things as contentment in prison, I was comparatively happy. I nursed the sick and administered medicines under direction of the doctor. I had too, with all easy position, more liberty than any other prisoner. I could go anywhere about the halls and yard, and in a few weeks I was frequently sent on an errand into the town. Everyone seemed to have the fullest confidence in me. The Warden talked to me whenever he saw me, and always had some kind word for me. One day I ventured to speak to him about his horse, of which he was very proud, and indeed the horse was a very fine one.
Mr. Warden, said I “that’s a noble horse of yours; but he interferes badly, and that is only because he is badly shod. If you will trust me, I can shoe him so as to prevent all that.”
“Can you?” exclaimed the Warden in great surprise; “Well, if you can, I’ll give you a good piece of bread and butter, or, anything else you want.”
“I don’t want your bread and butter,” said I “but I will shoe your horse as he has never been shod before.”
“Well take the horse to the shop and see what you can do.”
Of course, I knew that by “bread and butter” the warden meant that if I could shoe his favorite horse so as to prevent him from interfering, he would gladly favor me as far as he could; and I knew, too, that I could make as good a shoe as any horse need wear. I gladly led the horse to the shop where I had so signally failed in pick and tool sharpening, and was received with jeers by my old comrades who wanted to know what I was going to do to that horse.
“O, simply shoe him,” I said.
This greatly increased the mirth of my former shopmates; but their amusement speedily changed to amazement as they saw me make my nails, turn the shoes and neatly put them on. In due time the horse was shod, and I led him to the Warden for inspection; and before him and an officer who stood by him, I led the horse up and down to show that he did not interfere. The Warden’s delight was unbounded; he never saw such a set of shoes; he declared that they fitted as if they had grown to the horse’s hoofs. I need not say that from that day till the day I left the prison, I had everything I wanted from the Warden’s own table; I fared as well as he did, and had favors innumerable.