“Your devoted Emile.
“My time is short, I can write no more.”
Bravely, calmly, Leah read this fatal letter; and then, with a fortitude and heroism peculiar to her own glorious people, she folded it, and placed it upon her heart, so torn by sorrow and suspense. After the first shock of disappointment was over, she turned her thoughts to the formidable question, how she should earn bread for herself and her child; and when once her plans were made, she carried them out resolutely, in poverty, weakness, and obscurity. Of the days, months, and years that passed over her heroic head, with their trials, struggles, disappointments, tears, heart-aches, and agonies, before death brought relief, this record, in pity, is silent.
The war-cloud rolled away. The dark, wild, sanguinary cloud, that had swept with such devastating fury over a land where war was deemed impossible, was passed. The roar of cannon ceased, the rattle of musketry was no more heard in the land. Again the nation was at peace, undismembered, triumphant. Once more its proud flag floated, unmolested and gay, from every rampart and flag-staff in the wide domain. On the one hand, there were bonfires and pealing bells, huzzahs, greetings, congratulations, rejoicings over the termination of the conflict, while on the other, sorrow and mourning, lamentation and despair, filled the homes of a people, whose hearts were bleeding, and whose hopes were crushed. All, all was gone. Only the cypress wreath was left, to remind of loved ones slain, and beggary, want, and famine to point with ghastly fingers to the past. The sweet sunshine fell lovingly again upon that worn section of the land, to find its fertile fields deserted, its homes destroyed, and its people cast down. Here and there, everywhere, far and wide, in many States, where the tread of the monster War was heaviest, only the silent chimneys and the neglected gardens gave token that the spot was once the homestead of a happy, happy family. Deem this no sensational record to elicit sympathy from stranger hearts. Only the sympathy of heaven avails in man’s extremity; and that sympathy, thank God, his war-worn people have had.
This same memorable time that brought peace to the nation with such unexpected suddenness, found hundreds, even thousands of people, still refugees. Then many, regathering their shattered hopes and courage, sought their former homes. Many, alas! dispirited by loss of friends and fortune, dared not turn their sorrowful eyes backward, but chose rather to remain quietly where the final crash had found them. Refugee! O reader, kind or careless reader, think not lightly or scornfully of the word.
So far as possible, the scattered denizens of the Queen City had returned to their scarred homes. Many who at the time of their departure counted their thousands, and even millions, came back in comparative beggary. Yet back, back, back, they came, who could, to this mutilated Mecca of their hearts.