“Bravo! what a lucky fellow I am! Surely no evil will befall me. Your cheering words decide my choice; wisdom, you say, will direct the decision. It shall be made. We will once more make the charming round of this inviting boulevard, and then I’ll tell you my decision. There goes Fred Pinckney on horseback. How handsome he looks in that uniform! He belongs to the Palmetto Rifles, I believe.”
“Yes, so he does. Fred’s a gallant, handsome fellow, a little too hot-blooded, though,” replied the young wife, thoughtfully.
Once again the gay promenade was traversed, and as the sun’s last ray was faintly dying, the young wife stopped, and leaning gently on the railing with eye turned toward the sea, she said, “Now, George, tell me your decision.” And he replied quickly, “I shall resign my commission in the army, and cast my lot with my people and my State. Alas! I may never see Franco again!”
“I trust you have acted wisely,” replied the young wife, thoughtfully. “But, oh, George, see Defiance. See how the dying sun gilds the flag, the new flag that has risen above the old one that floated there when I was here a school-girl. Somehow I love the old flag, the Stars and Stripes-’Whig blood,’ I suppose; but Defiance always looked so grim and terrible to me, even when I was a school-girl, in peaceful days, and now it appears a terrible monster of horror!”
“Oh! Defiance bears you no ill-will, my darling. It’s a quiet old fort, that will protect us from our enemies. Long live the memory of the man who surrendered it only at the mouth of cannon! But come, let’s be going. It’s late; already pedestrians and vehicles are turning homeward.”
How sad, that time so far has furnished no historian or biographer truthfully and charitably to chronicle the terrible struggle of many noble-souled men, who sacrificed the love of country for the love of State in that unhallowed civil war! Yet there is the truth that the great Searcher of human hearts has His record on high; and in the unfolding hereafter, many souls that here were branded as traitors, will there receive the rewards of patriots. Scores who were here despised for cowardice, will there receive the plaudits that await the brave. Legions who have perished in ignominious cells, will there be found crowned heroes. For who knows the yet unwritten record of the horrible war between the States, but the heroes who perished here and passed on beyond?
Six months rolled by-six memorable months, that sadly blasted a nation’s hopes, and overturned the plans and purposes of countless individuals. The war-cloud had darkened and deepened, till the sky of many a happy home was already obscured by its fearful gloom. At the first bugle-note of conflict, a peaceful, happy people was transformed, as if by magic, into a warlike host. The war-tide rushed on with an impetuosity that bore all things before it.