THE EARTH TREMBLED
THE EARTH TREMBLED
UNCLE SHEBA'S EXPERIENCE
PAST AND FUTURE
NEVER FORGET; NEVER FORGIVE
A NEW SOLACE
"ALL GIRLS TOGETHER"
TWO LITTLE BAKERS
A FAIR DUELLIST
A CHIVALROUS SURPRISE
THE STRANGER EXPLAINS
UNCLE SHEBA SAT UPON
YOUNG HOUGHTON IS DISCUSSED
ELLA'S CRUMB OF COMFORT
RECOGNIZED AS LOVER
"HEAVEN SPEED YOU THEN"
"I ABSOLVE YOU"
A SURE TEST
"BITTERNESS MUST BE CHERISHED"
A FATHER'S FRENZY
SCENES NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN
A HOMELESS CITY
"THE TERROR BY NIGHT"
HOPE TURNED INTO DREAD
A CITY ENCAMPING
"ON JORDAN'S BANKS WE STAN'"
LIGHTS AND SHADOWS OF A NIGHT
GOOD BROUGHT OUT OF EVIL
THE EARTH TREMBLED
THE EARTH TREMBLED
At the beginning of the Civil War there was a fine old residence on
Meeting Street in Charleston South Carolina inhabited by a family almost
as old as the State. Its inheritor and owner Orville Burgoyne was a
widower. He had been much saddened in temperament since the death of the
wife and had withdrawn as far as possible from public affairs. His
library and the past had secured a stronger hold upon his interest and his
thoughts than anything in the present with one exception his idolized
and only child Mary named for her deceased mother. Any book would be
laid aside when she entered; all gloom banished from his eyes when she
coaxed and caressed him.
She was in truth one to be loved because so capable of love herself. She
conquered and ruled every one not through wilfulness or imperiousness but
by a gentle charm all her own which disarmed opposition.
At first Mr. Burgoyne had paid little heed to the mutterings which
preceded the Civil War believing them to be but Chinese thunder produced
by ambitious politicians North and South. He was preoccupied by the study
of an old system of philosophy which he fancied possessed more truth than
many a more plausible and modern one. Mary with some fancy work in her
hands often watched his deep abstraction in wondering awe and
occasionally questioned him in regard to his thoughts and studies; but as
his explanations were almost unintelligible she settled down to the
complacent belief that her father was one of the most learned men in the
At last swiftly culminating events aroused Mr. Burgoyne from his
abstraction and drove him from his retirement. He accepted what he
believed to be duty in profound sorrow and regret. His own early
associations and those of his ancestors had been with the old flag and its
fortunes; his relations to the political leaders of the South were too
slight to produce any share in the alienation and misunderstandings which
had been growing between the two great sections of his country and he
certainly had not the slightest sympathy with those who had fomented the
ill-will for personal ends. Finally however he had found himself face to
face with the momentous certainty of a separation of his State from the
Union. For a time he was bewildered and disturbed beyond measure; for he
was not a prompt man of affairs living keenly in the present but one who
had been suddenly and rudely summoned from the academic groves of the old
philosophers to meet the burning imperative questions of the
day--questions put with the passionate earnestness of a people excited
It was this very element of popular feeling which finally turned the scale
in his decision. Apparently the entire Southern people were unanimous in
their determination "to be free" and to separate themselves from their old
political relations. His pastor with all other friends of his own rank
confirmed this impression and as it was known that he wavered the best
and strongest men of his acquaintance argued the question with him. His
daughter was early carried away by the enthusiasm of her young companions
nevertheless she watched the conflict in her father's mind with the
deepest interest. She often saw him walk the floor with unwonted tears in
his eyes and almost agony on his brow; and when at last he decided in
accordance with the prevailing sentiment of his State the Act of
Secession and all that it involved became sacred in her thoughts.
She trembled and shrank when the phase of negotiation passed away and war
was seen to be the one alternative to submission. She never doubted or
hesitated however; neither did her father after his mind was once made
up. Every day the torrent of bitter feeling deepened and broadened between
them and the North of which practically they knew very little. Even
such knowledge as they possessed had come through distorted mediums and
now everything was colored by the blackest prejudice. They were led to
believe and made to feel that not only their possessions but their life
and honor were at stake. In early years Mr. Burgoyne had served with
distinction in the war with Mexico and he therefore promptly received a
The effect of her father's decision and action had been deepened a
hundred-fold by an event which occurred soon afterward. Among the
thousands who thronged to Charleston when Fort Sumter was attacked was
the son of a wealthy planter residing in the interior of the State. This
young soldier's enthusiasm and devotion were much bruited in the city
because waiving wealth and rank he had served as a private. His
fearlessness at Fort Moultrie enhanced his reputation and when the small
garrison of heroes commanded by Major Anderson succumbed Sidney
Wallingford found that he had been voted a hero himself especially by his
fair compatriots with whom he had formerly danced when visiting the town.
The young fellow's head was not easily turned however for when at an
evening gathering a group was lauding the great achievement he said
disdainfully "What! thousands against seventy? Despise the Yankees as we
may the odds were too great. The only thing we can plume ourselves upon
is that we would have fought just the same had the seventy been seven
thousand. I think the fellows did splendidly if they were Yankees yet
what else could we expect since their commander was a Southern man? Oh no!
we must wait till the conditions are more even before we can exult over
our victories. I reckon we'll have them all the same though."
Murmurs of approbation followed these remarks but he saw only the
eloquent eyes of Mary Burgoyne and offering her his arm led her away.
The spring night was as warm as a June evening at the North and they
joined the groups that were strolling under the moonlight in the garden.
Sidney felt the young girl's hand tremble on his arm and he drew it
closer to his side. She soon asked falteringly "Mr. Wallingford do you
think--will the conditions become more even as you suggested? Can it be
that the North will be so carried away by this abolition fanaticism as to
send armies and ships in the vain effort to subjugate us?"
"Thank you Miss Mary for saying that it will be a 'vain effort.'"
"Of course it will be with such men as my father and"--she suddenly
"And who else?" he gently asked trying to look into her averted face.
"Oh--well" she stammered with a forced little laugh "thousands of brave
fellows like you. You do not answer my question. Are we to have anything
like a general war? Surely there ought to be enough good wise men on
both sides to settle the matter."
"The matter might be settled easily enough" he replied lightly. "We know
our rights and shall firmly assert them. If the Yankees yield all well;
if not we'll make 'em."
"But making them may mean a great war?"
"Oh yes some serious scrimmages I reckon. We're prepared however and
will soon bring the North to its senses."
"If anything should happen to my father!" she sighed.
He had led her beneath the shadow of a palmetto and now breathed into her
ear "Mary dear Mary how much I'd give to hear you say in the same tone
'If anything should happen to Sidney'!" She did not withdraw her hand from
his arm and he again felt it tremble more than before. "Mary" he
continued earnestly "I have asked your father if I might speak to you
and he did not deny me the privilege. Oh Mary you must have seen my love
in my eyes and heard it in my tones long since. Mary" he concluded
impetuously "let me but feel that I am defending you as well as my State
and I can and will be a soldier in very truth."
She suddenly turned and sobbed on his shoulder "That's what I fear--I
can hide my secret from you no longer--that's what I fear. Those I love
will be exposed to sudden and terrible death. I am not brave at all."
"Shall I go home and plant cotton?" he asked half jestingly.
"No no a thousand times no" she cried passionately. "Have I not seen
the deep solemnity with which my father accepted duty so foreign to his
tastes and habits? Can you think I would wish you to shrink or fail--you
who are so strong and brave? No no in very truth. Self must mean only
self-sacrifice until our sacred cause is won. Yet think twice Sidney
before you bind yourself to me. I fear I am not so brave as other women
appear to be in these times. My heart shrinks unspeakably from war and
bloodshed. Although I shall not falter I shall suffer agonies of dread. I
cannot let you go to danger with stern words and dry eyes. I fear you'll
find me too weak to be a soldier's wife."
He led her into deeper and shadier seclusion as he asked "Do you think
I'll hesitate because you have a heart in your bosom instead of a stone?
No my darling. We must keep a brave aspect to the world but my heart is
as tender toward you as yours toward me. What else in God's universe could
I dread more than harm to you? But there is little cause to fear. The
whole South will soon be with us foreign nations will recognize us as an
independent people and then we will dictate our own terms of peace; then
you shall be my bride in this our proud city by the sea."
He kissed away her tears and they strolled through the shadowy walks
until each had regained the composure essential in the bright
A commission with the rank of captain was speedily offered young
Wallingford. He accepted it but said he would return home and raise his
own company. This action was also applauded by his friends and the
authorities. Mary saw her father smile approvingly and proudly upon her
choice and he became her ideal hero as well as lover.
He fulfilled his promises and before many weeks passed re-entered
Charleston with a hundred brave fellows devoted to him. The company was
incorporated into one of the many regiments forming and Mr. Burgoyne
assured his daughter that the young captain was sure of promotion and
would certainly make a thorough soldier.
Even in those early and lurid days a few things were growing clear and
among them was the fact that the North would not recognize the doctrine of
State Rights nor peaceably accept the Act of Secession. Soldiers would be
needed--how long no one knew for the supreme question of the day had
passed from the hands of statesmen to those of the soldier. The lack of
mutual knowledge the misapprehension and the gross prejudices existing
between the two sections would have been ludicrous had they not been
fraught with such long-continued woes. Southern papers published such
stuff as this: "The Northern soldiers are men who prefer enlisting to
starvation; scurvy fellows from the back slums of cities with whom
Falstaff would not have marched through Coventry. Let them come South and
we will put our negroes at the dirty work of killing them. But they will
not come South. Not a wretch of them will live on this side of the border
longer than it will take us to reach the ground and drive them off." The
Northern press responded in kind: "No man of sense" it was declared
"could for a moment doubt that this much-ado-about-nothing would end in a
month. The Northern people are simply invincible. The rebels a mere band
of ragamuffins will fly like chaff before the wind on our approach." Thus
the wretched farces of bluster continued on either side until in blood
agony and heartbreak Americans learned to know Americans.
President Lincoln however had called out seventy-five thousand troops
and these men were not long in learning that they could not walk over the
South in three months. The South also discovered that these same men could
not be terrified into abandoning the attempt. There were thoughtful men on
both sides who early began to recognize the magnitude of the struggle upon
which they had entered. Among these was Major Burgoyne and the
presentiment grew upon him that he would not see the end of the conflict.
When therefore impetuous young Wallingford urged that he might call Mary
his wife before he marched to distant battlefields the father yielded
feeling that it might be well for her to have another protector besides
himself. The union was solemnized in old St. Michael's Church where
Mary's mother and grandmother had been married before her; a day or two of
quiet and happiness was vouchsafed and then came the tidings of the first
great battle of the war. Charleston responded with acclamations of
triumph; bells sent out their merriest peals; cannon thundered from every
fort on the harbor but Mary wept on her husband's breast. Among the
telegrams of victory had come an order for his regiment to go North
immediately. Not even a brief honeymoon was permitted to her.
As the exaggerated reports of a magnificent Confederate victory at Bull
Run continued to pour in Major Burgoyne shared for a time in the general
elation believing that independence recognition abroad and peace had
been virtually secured. All the rant about Northern cowardice appeared to
be confirmed and he eagerly waited for the announcement that Washington
had been captured by Johnston's victorious army.
Instead came the dismal tidings from his only sister that her husband
Captain Hunter had been killed in the battle over which he had been
rejoicing. Then for some mysterious reason the Southern army did not
follow the Federals who had left the field in such utter rout and panic.
It soon appeared that the contending forces were occupying much the same
positions as before. News of the second great uprising of the North
followed closely and presaged anything but a speedy termination of the
conflict. Major Burgoyne was not a Hotspur and he grew thoughtful and
depressed in spirit although he sedulously concealed the fact from his
associates. The shadow of coming events began to fall upon him and his
daughter gradually divined his lack of hopefulness. The days were already
sad and full of anxiety for her husband was absent. He had scouted the
idea of the Yankees standing up before the impetuous onset of the Southern
soldiers and his words had apparently proved true yet even those
Northern cowards had killed one closely allied to her before they fled.
Remembering therefore her husband's headlong courage what assurance of
his safety could she have although victory followed victory?
Major Burgoyne urged his widowed sister to leave her plantation in the
charge of an overseer and make her home with him. "You are too near the
probable theatre of military operations to be safe" he wrote "and my
mind cannot rest till you are with us in this city which we are rapidly
making impregnable." The result was that she eventually became a member of
his family. Her stern sad face added to the young wife's depression for
the stricken woman had been rendered intensely bitter by her loss. Mary
was too gentle in nature to hate readily yet wrathful gleams would be
emitted at times even from her blue eyes as her aunt inveighed in her
hard monotone against the "monstrous wrong of the North." They saw their
side with such downright sincerity and vividness that the offenders
appeared to be beyond the pale of humanity. Few men even though the
frosts of many winters had cooled their blood and ripened their judgment
could reason dispassionately in those days much less women whose hearts
were kept on the rack of torture by the loss of dear ones or the dread of
It is my purpose to dwell upon the war its harrowing scenes and intense
animosities only so far as may be essential to account for my characters
and to explain subsequent events. The roots of personality strike deep
and the taproot heredity runs back into the being of those who lived and
suffered before we were born.
Gentle Mary Burgoyne should have been part of a happier day and
generation. The bright hopes of a speedily conquered peace were dying
away; the foolish bluster on both sides at the beginning of the war had
ceased and the truth so absurdly ignored at first that Americans North
and South would fight with equal courage was made clearer by every
battle. The heavy blows received by the South however did not change her
views as to the wisdom and righteousness of her cause and she continued
to return blows at which the armies of the North reeled stunned and
bleeding. Mary was not permitted to exult very long however for the
terrible pressure was quickly renewed with an unwavering pertinacity which
created misgivings in the stoutest hearts. The Federals had made a strong
lodgment on the coast of her own State and were creeping nearer and
nearer often repulsed yet still advancing as if impelled by the
remorseless principle of fate.
At last in the afternoon of a day early in April events occurred never
to be forgotten by those who witnessed them. Admiral Dupont with his
armored ships attempted to reduce Fort Sumter and capture the city.
Thousands of spectators watched the awful conflict; Mary Wallingford and
her aunt Mrs. Hunter among them. The combined roar of the guns exceeded
all the thunder they had ever heard. About three hundred Confederate
cannon were concentrated on the turreted monitors and some of the
commanders said that "shot struck the vessels as fast as the ticking of a
watch." It would seem that the ships which appeared so diminutive in the
distance must be annihilated yet Mary with her powerful glass saw them
creep nearer and nearer. It was their shots not those of her friends
that she watched with agonized absorption for every tremendous bolt was
directed against the fort in which was her father.
The conflict was too unequal; the bottom of the harbor was known to be
paved with torpedoes and in less than an hour Dupont withdrew his
squadron in order to save it from destruction.
In strong reaction from intense excitement Mary's knees gave way and she
sank upon them in thankfulness to God. Her aunt supported her to her room
gave restoratives and the daughter in deep anxiety waited for tidings
from her father. He did not come to her; he was brought and there settled
down upon her young life a night of grief and horror which no words can
describe. While he was sighting a gun it had been struck by a shell from
the fleet and when the smoke of the explosion cleared away he was seen
among the debris a mangled and unconscious form. He was tenderly taken
up and after the conflict ended conveyed to his home. On the way thither
he partially revived but reason was gone. His eyes were scorched and
blinded his hearing destroyed by the concussion and but one lingering
thought survived in the wreck of his mind. In a plaintive and almost
childlike tone he continually uttered the words "I was only trying to
defend my city and my home."