At length one fell upon the ramparts of Defiance and exploded-exploded with a crash of fury that said to every listening ear, “Some dreadful deed is done.”
Alas! alas! The wild crash sounded the death-knell of one brave, noble heart, and crushed countless hopes as George Marshall’s soul went out. The murderous fragment of a shell penetrated his brain, and his life was ended in a flash.
Let nothing more be told of the sad story; nothing but simply this: he was killed, and the troops left in dismay and disorder-killed and borne to the last embrace of the wounded heart that knew no after years of healing-killed at Defiance, the place of weird, mysterious terror to the widowed heart from the days of her sunny girlhood-killed and buried away under the magnolia shade, among the hundreds of brave hearts that perished in the same unhappy cause.
Time stole along. Many months had slipped into the past since the day of the lamented Colonel Marshall’s death-months of which this narrative has little to record, save that they were months of blood.
Returning to the desolate wife, left by an adverse fate alone in her Cuban home, we find her sadly changed. As sudden and unexpected as had been the separation of Emile from his family, so shocking and violent had been the affect of this trouble upon Leah’s delicate nature. From the hour when Mr. Gardner informed her of her husband’s mysterious disappearance, Leah sank down, overwhelmed with grief. Then for many weeks she lingered through an almost hopeless illness, to recover at length and find herself still alone.
The hope of gaining strength to follow her husband was the one hope that cheered her hours of convalescence, and stimulated the efforts of nature in the work of recovery. At last, time brought relief, and after many months of weary waiting, hoping, watching, the opportunity was at hand for Leah to start in pursuit of her husband. Committed to the care of a kind-hearted man, himself the captain of a blockade-runner, the anxious wife hoped to reach the shores of her native State in safety. Unlike the treacherous Joe Haralson, the captain of the Cotton States, the vessel upon which Leah embarked, was not familiar with the sea-coast of many of the blockaded States; but, urged by her importunities, the kind captain determined, if possible, to land her in safety upon the coast of her native State. In this attempt, however, he was disappointed. It was late one afternoon as the Cotton States was about to anchor safely in an obscure harbor of a small island near the main-land, when the captain discovered, far off on the sea, the dark form of a pursuing gun-boat. Immediately he put to sea, and fortunately, the gathering shades of night obscured the pursued vessel in time to prevent capture. The next day, the Cotton States ran ashore on a lone, sparsely inhabited coast, and, anchored at Sandy Bar, a place known to but few as a possible port of entry.