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opposite the center of the falls. The Victoria Falls are 3000 feet wide and 160 high : Niagara is 4750 feet

wide at the brink of the falls, the American Fall being 164 feet high, and the Horseshoe Fall 15a



that there are elements of wonder and
amazement in the African falls that are
totally lacking in the American,

The Zambesi valley, for a hundred miles
or more in every direction from the cata-
ract, is a rough and broken plateau, cov-
ered with low brush and stunted trees,
with here and there an outcrop of somber
basaltic rock, all thoroughly uninteresting.
The herbage is but faintly green, and the
tropical sky only faintly blue. It is a hazy
half-tone landscape, wanting in clear-cut
lines in every direction, and lacking above
everything else that element we always
unconsciously seek in a nature-picture —
life. The absence of this produces in the
mind a feeling of loneliness and often of
fear. Across this solemn scene appears a
river that in flood-time is perhaps half a
mile wide. If a deaf man were following
down one of its banks, he would notice
little but the quiet water and the odd-
looking column of smoke ahead. As this
column was approached, he would expect
to see the river-banks bending, and the



water flowing away to one side of the
conflagration, and might glance to the right
and left to note the direction taken. But
the panorama changes as he gazes. The
river is no more. And there, where it
should be, is only the brown plain, as
lonely, brush -covered, and monotonous as
ever. One must go twenty miles farther
before the vanished water and the surface
of the land again commingle, before it will
be possible to walk along the bank in com-
pany with the river. So sudden and start-
ling is the transformation.

Meantime the pillar of smoke has re-
solved itself into a dense mist forced
upward in terrible puff^s from a yawning
gash stretching directly across the bed of
the river. This fearful abyss is every sec-
ond swallowing thousands of tons of green-
and-white water, and belching up blasts of
mist that rise hundreds of feet into the air
and hurry away with the winds as if re-
joicing at their escape from the inferno
below. And somewhere, nearly four hun-
dred feet below, the entrapped river is



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From a photograph by 1,. Pedrotti
VICTORIA FALLS

The photr)graph was taken in November^ from a point on the south wall of the discharging gorge
just opposite the exit from the chasm



fighting its way between sheer walls of
black rock toward a narrow cleft in the
eastern wall, whence it escapes, foaming
and boiling, through the zigzags and curves
of a deep gorge leading off to the east-
ward. One goes to an edge of this de-



livering chasm, and looks down upon the
tossing waters, ever pressed from behind
by other floods struggling out of the narrow
black gateway, and perhaps the most promi-
nent mental sensation is that of thankful-
ness that even in such a grim and ghastly



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Fruiii a phuto|fraph by liUcrtuti 1 ry

THE FIRST ZIGZAG OF THE ZAMBESI RIVER BELOW VICTORIA FALLS
The water approaching on the left side of the picture flows away on the right side



way nature has provided a means by which
the fearful slit of a throat above that has
swallowed the stream can disgorge it again
without causing an overwhelming catas-
trophe.

The Victoria cataract should be visited
at least twice before one is competent to



pass an opinion upon it. When the river
is in flood (July) the scene is simply ter-
rible. One sees nothing but an enormous
sheet of water disappearing into the bowels
of the earth, with a noise as of mountains
falling upon one another, while from the
awful gash comes back in fierce gusts and



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I'rofn a photograpli by L. Pedrotri

THE EDGE OF VICTORIA FALLS AS SEEN FROM A DISTANCE



swirls the foaming breath of the tortured
element below. But in December, when
the water is low, the edge of the cataract
shows as a long, creamy film of lovely lace ;
the rising mist flows softly away through
the little rain forest below the cavern's lip ;
the gigantic vault itself becomes a wonder-
ful spectacle, a dream of neutral tints, a
cave of beauty. Far down in its dark
depths the waters, gliding along the rocky
walls, and bending gracefully around the
corners toward the narrow outlet, pass gaily
and laughingly to freedom. For a time the
demon of the cataract is sleeping.

The rock of the vicinity is a dark and
lusterless basalt that weathers, when ex-
posed above the thin soil, into rough hum-
mocks and unshapely ridges. There is
nothing but this for miles in every direc-
tion. What caused the great rent in its
heart that is now the cataract, and in what
way the twenty-mile gorge from its bottom
was cut out, are questions not easily an-
swered. Next year it is promised that the
British Association for the Advancement



of Science will hold its annual meeting in
South Africa. If so, the falls will un-
doubtedly be most carefully studied by the
geological section of the society.

At the present time a steel railroad
bridge is being thrown across a narrow
point of the gorge just below the cataract,
from which, as the trains pass over it, the
finest possible view will be obtainable.
This bridge is expected to be open for
traffic during 1905. Its length, in one
light and graceful span, will be six hun-
dred feet, and the height of its floor above
the water something over four hundred.
Already the continuation of the line is laid
out for three hundred and fifty miles
northward toward the foot of Lake Tan-
ganyika, and grading has begun. Slowly
but surely the " Cape to Cairo " route is
coming into visible being. Perhaps by the
end of the present decade the dream of
the great empire-builder who lies sleeping
in the heart of the Matoppos may be
nearly realized, for in these days the world
moves fast.



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IN THE VIRGINIA ROOM



BY ARLO BATES




jHEN she pushed open the door
and entered the Virginia Room
in the Confederate Museum she
thought herself alone. The heavy
April rain kept most people away, and left
the place almost deserted. In her yearly
visits to Richmond, to come to this spot as
to a shrine, she had once before been spared
the presence of strangers, and with a quick
sigh she remembered how great had been
the relief. Now she threw back her heavy
widow's veil with the free, proud motion
which belonged to the women of her race
and time— the women bred in the South
before the war. She was an old woman,
though by several years under sixty, for
pain can age more swiftly than time. The
high-bred mien would be hers as long as
hfe remained, and wonderful was her self-
control. Again and again she had felt un-
shed tears burn in her eyes like living lire,
yet had been sure that no stranger had
had reason to look upon her as more than
a casual visitor to the museum ; but to be
able to let her grief have way seemed al-
most a joy. She felt the quick drops start
at the bare thought. Life had left her no
greater blessing than this liberty to weep
undiscovered over the memorials of her
dead.

At the instant a man came from behind
one of the cases, so near that she might
have touched him. Instinctively she tried
to take her handkerchief from her chate-
laine, and in her confusion detached the
bag. It fell at the feet of the gentleman,
who stooped at once to pick it up. As he
held it out she forced a smile to her fine
old face.



" Thank you," she said ; " I — I was very
awkward."

"Not at all," he responded. "Those
bags are easily unhooked."

She raised her eyes at his tone and spoke
impulsively, the bitterness of the old time
coming over her like a wave. The room
had carried her into the past, and after
almost twoscore years she spoke for the
first time as of yore.

" You are a Northerner I " she exclaimed.

She felt her cheek glow as, almost before
the words were spoken, she realized what
she had said. The stranger smiled, then
grew grave again.

" Yes. Do not Northerners visit the
museum ? "

She was painfully annoyed. To be lack-
ing in politeness was sufficiently bad, but
to seem rude to one from the North was
intolerable.

" I beg your pardon," she forced herself
to say. "To come through that door is
to step into the past, and I spoke as 1
might have when — "

" When a Yankee in the house of Presi-
dent Davis would have required explicit
explanation," the stranger finished the
sentence she knew not how to complete.

Even in her discomposure she appre-
ciated both the courtesy and the adroit-
ness of the words. Her instinct not to be
outdone, least of all by one of his race,
made her speak again.

" I was rude," she said stiffly. " To-day
is an anniversary on which I always come
here, and 1 forgot myself."

" Then I must have seemed doubly ob-
trusive," he returned gravely.



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IN THE VIRGINIA ROOM



229



He looked and ^>oke like a gentleman
certainly, and he had good hands ; but the
North had all the wealth now, she reflected,
while so many of the descendants of old
Southern families were forced to earn their
bread by occupations unworthy of them.
Their hands could not be well kept like
those of the man before her.

"The mitseum is open to the pubhc,"
was her cold reply.

She expected him to bow and turn away.
Not only did he linger, but she seemed to
see in his eyes a look of pity ; no, more
than pity, of sympathy even.

" Will you pardon my saying that I, too,
came here to-day because it was an anni-
versary? "

" An anniversary ? *' she echoed. " How
can an anniversary bring a Northerner
here?"

" It is n't mine exactly. It is my son's.
His mother is a Virginian."

She began to be aware of a growing
excitement She would have persuaded
herself that it was anger against this man
who had taken away a Southern girl, or
that she was moved by pity for the Vir-
ginian mother who, like her, had so been
robbed of her daughter ; but she knew that
deeper than all this was the passion of
modierhood crying out for the child she
herself had cast off for such a marriage.
She could not shape the question which
was in her heart, but she felt that it spoke
from her eyes.

"We live in the North," he explained,
"but she has long promised the boy that
when he was eight he should see the relics
of his grandfather that are here. She was
not well enough to come, and as she
wished him to be here on this special day,
I brought him."

The Southern woman felt her heart
beating, and it was almost as if another
spoke when she said in a manner entirely
conventional :

"I hope that her illness is not serious."

" I should not be here myself if it were,"
he answered.

"But the boy?" she asked, looking
around.

The man's face changed subtly.

" My father," he replied, " was an officer
in the Union army. I wanted to see this
place first, to be prepared for Desborough's
questions. It is n't easy to answer the
questions of a clever lad whose two grand-



fathers have been killed in the same battle,
fighting on opposite sides."

It seemed to her as if her limbs would
fail under her at the name. She leaned
for support against the comer of the near-
est case, and fixed her gaze on the pathetic
coat of General Lee behind the glass which
showed her a faint wraith of the reflection
of her own face. It was her husband's
name, and it was the anniversary of his
death ; but she said to herself that these
were only coincidences, and that this could
not be her daughter's husband.

" Have you decided what to tell your
son ? " she heard her voice, strange and
far off, asking amid the thrilling quiet of
the room.

The stranger seemed struck by the note
of challenge in her tone. He regarded her
earnestly as he answered : " What I have
always told him— the truth, as far as I can
see it."

"And the truth that you can tell him
here— here, before the relics of our dead,
of our Lost Cause—"

She could not go on, but broke off, fear-
ing lest her voice falter.

"He has never been taught anything
but that the men of the South fought for
what they believed, and that no man can
do a nobler thing than to give his life for
his faith."

She was sure now that she was talking
to her son-in-law, although the ground of
her conviction was no more than the one
she had just rejected. The whole thing
was simple. Her daughter knew that al-
ways on this day she was to be found here,
and had meant to meet her, the son with
his grandfather's name by her side. The
question was whether the husband knew.
Something in his air, something half-pro-
pitiatory, certainly beyond the ordinary
deference offered to a lady who is a
stranger, gave her a vague distrust. She
was not untouched by the desire for
reconciliation, but she had resisted that
before, and least of all could she tolerate
the idea of being tricked. The possibility
that her son-in-law might be feigning
ignorance to work upon her sympathy
angered her.

" Do you know who I am ? " she de-
manded abruptly.

" I beg your pardon," he replied, evi-
dently surprised, "but I have never been
in Richmond before. I suppose you may



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330



THE CENTURY MAGAZINE



have been the wife of some Confederate
officer so well known that a Virginian
would recognize you ; but I do not."

"Yet you seemed to wish to explain
yourself to me. Why ? "

" I don't know/' he began hesitatingly,
searching her face with his straightforward
gray eyes. Then he flushed shghtly, and
broke out with new feeling: "Yes; I do
know. You came just as I was going away
because I could not endure the sadness of
it ; when every one of these cases seemed
to me to drip with blood and tears. That
sounds to you extravagant, but the whole
thing came over me so tremendously that
I could n't bear it."

" I do not understand," she returned
tremulously. " You have such collections
at the North, I suppose."

" But here it came over me that to all
the sorrow of loss was added the bitterness
of defeat. I felt that no Southerner could
come here without feehng that all the
agony this commemorates had been in
vain ; and the pity of it took me by the
throat so that when I spoke to you, you
were a sort of impersonation of the South
—of the Southern women; and I wanted
to ask for pardon."

She drew a deep breath and raised her
head proudly.

" Not for the war," he said quickly, with
a gesture which seemed to wave aside her
pride and showed her how well he had
understood her triumph at the admission
seemingly implied in his words. " I am a
Northern man, and I believe with my
whole soul that the North was right. I
believe in the cause for which my father
died. Only I see now that if he had lived
in the South, the same spirit would have
carried him into the Confederate army."

" But for what should you ask pardon,
if the North was in the right ? "

" For myself ; for not understanding—
for being so dull all these years that I have
lived with a wife faithful in her heart to
the South and too loyal to me to speak.
We in the North have forgiven, and we
think that the South should forget. It has
come over me to-day how easy it is for the
conquerors to forgive and how hard for
the conquered to do it."

"You do not understand even now,"
she said, her voice low with feeling. " Be-
cause we are conquered we can forgive ; but
we should be less than human to forget."



The room was very still for a little, and
then, following out her thought, she said
as if in wonder : " And you, a Northerner,
have felt all this!"

He shook his head, with a little smile.

"It is perhaps too much to ask," re-
timied he, "that you Southern women
should realize that even a Northerner is
still human."

"Yes, yes; but to feel our suffering,
to see—"

"It has always been facing me, I un-
derstand now, in my wife's eyes— the im-
measurable pathos of a people beaten in
a struggle they felt to be right ; but she
has been so happy otherwise, and she
never spoke of it."

"In the heart of every Southern woman,"
she said solemnly, though now without
bitterness, "is always the anguish of our
Lost Cause. We cover the smface, we
accept, and God knows we have been pa-
tient; but each of us has, deep down, a
sense of the blood that was poured out in
vain, of the agony of the men we loved,
of how they were humiliated, and of the
great cause of Hberty lost— lost! "

For long, bitter years she had not spoken
even to her nearest friends as she was talk-
ing to this stranger, this Northerner. The
consciousness of this brought her back to
the remembrance that he was the husband
of her daughter.

" Has your wife no relatives in the South
who might have made you understand how
we Southern women must feel ? " she asked.

He grew instantly colder.

" I have never seen her Southern rela-
tives."

" Pardon the curiosity of an old woman,"
she went on, watching him keenly ; " may
I ask why ? "

"My wife's mother did not choose to
know the Yankee her daughter married."

" And you ? "

" I did not choose to force an acquain-
tance or to be known on sufferance," he
answered crisply. "I was aware of no
wrong, and I did not choose to ask to be
forgiven for being a Northerner."

She knew that in her heart she was al-
ready accepting this strong, fine man, alien
as he was to all the traditions of her life,
and she was not ill pleased at his pride.

" But have you ever considered what it
must have cost the mother to give up her
daughter ? "



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IN THE VIRGINIA ROOM



231



"Why need she have given her up?
Marriages between the North and the
South have been common enough without
any family breach."

She was convinced now that he knew
neither to whom he talked nor what lay
behind her casting her daughter off. She
bad a sort of wild inner exultation that at
last the moment had come when she might
justify herself.

"If you have patience to listen," she
said, feeling her cheeks warm, "and will
pardon my being personal, I should like
to tell you what has happened to me. My
husband was a colonel in the Confederate
army. We were married when I was seven-
teen, in a brief furlough he won by being
wounded at the battle of the Wilderness.
I saw him, in the four years of the war be-
fore he fell at Five Forks, less than a dozen
times, and always for the briefest visits—
poor scraps of fearful happiness torn out
of long stretches of agony. My daughter,
my only child, was bom after her father's
death. Our fortune had gone to the Cause.
My father and my husband both refused
to invest money abroad. They considered
it disloyal, and they put everything into
Confederate securities even after they felt
sure they should get nothing back. They
were too loyal to withhold anything when
the country was in deadly peril."

She paused^ but he did not speak, and
with swelling breast and parching throat
she went on :

" At Five Forks my husband was killed
in a hand-to-hand fight with a Northern
officer. He struck his enemy down after
he had received his own death-wound. I
pray God he did not know the day was
lost. He had gone through so much, I
hope that was spared him. On the other
side of death he must have found some
comfort to help him bear it. God must
have had some comfort for our poor boys
when he permitted the cause of liberty to
be lost."

She pressed her clenched hand against
her bosom, and as she did so her eyes met
those of her companion. She felt the sym-
pathy of his look, but something recalled
her to the sense that she was speaking to
one from the North.

" It is not the cause of liberty to you,"
she said. " I have forgotten again. I have
not spoken of all this for so long. I have
not dared; but to-day— to-day I must



speak, and you must forgive me if I use
the old language."

He dropped his glance as if he felt it
an intrusion to see her bitter emotion, and
said softly : " I think I understand. You
need not apologize."

" After the war," she went on hurriedly
and abruptly, " I lived for my daughter.
I worked for her. She— she was like her
father."

She choked, but regained the appear-
ance of composure by a mighty effort

" When she was a woman— ^e was still
a child to me; over twenty, but I was
hardly twice her age— she went North,
and there she fell in love. She wrote me
that she was to marry a Northerner, and
when she added his name— it was the son
of the man who killed her father."

"It is not possible!" the other ex-
claimed. " You imagined it. Such things
happen in melodramas—"

She put up her hand and arrested his
words.

" This happened not in a melodrama, but
in a tragedy— in my life," she said. " I
need not go into details. She married him,
and I have never seen her since."

"Did he know?"

"No. It was my wedding gift to my
daughter— that I kept her secret. That
was all I had strength to do. You think
I was an unnatural mother, of course;
but-^"

She saw that his eyes were moist as he
raised them in answering.

" I should have said so yesterday with-
out any hesitation ; to-day—"

" To-day ? " she echoed eagerly, as he
paused.

"To-day," he answered, letting his
glance sweep over the pathetic memorials
so thick about them— "to-day at least I
understand, and I do not wonder."

She looked at him with all her heart in
her eyes, trying to read his most hidden
feeling. Then she touched his arm lightly
with the tips of her slender black-gloved
fingers.

" Come," she said.

She led him across the room, and
pointed to a colonel's sash and pistols
which lay in one of the cases under a
faded card.

" Those were my husband's."

"Those!" he cried. "You Louise's
mother ? It is impossible ! "



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232



THE CENTURY MAGAZINE



"It may be impossible, but, as I said of
the other thing, it is true."

" The other thing ? " he repeated. " That
my father and he— it cannot be true. I
must have known it! "

"It is true," she insisted. "They were
for the moment surrounded by our soldiers,
and his own men probably did not realize
just what happened. But I — I know every
minute of that fight ! One of my husband's
staff who had been at West Point with
them both told me. He saw it. Your wife
married you, knowing you to be the son of
the man who killed her father."

" Poor Louise ! " he murmured, rather
to himself than to her, it seemed ; " how
she must have suffered over that secret ! "

" You come here," she said, feeling her-
self choke at his words, but determined
not to give way to the warmer impulse of
her heart, "and even you are moved by
these sacred relics. What do you think
they are to us ? "

" They do move me," was his response.
" They move me so that they seem to me
wrong. I confess that I was thinking, be-
fore you came in, that if I were a South-
erner, with the traditions of the South be-
hind me, they would stir me to madness ;
that I should feel it impossible ever to be
loyal to anything but the South. The war
is over. The South is understood. She is
honored for the bravery with which she
fought for her conviction. Why prolong
the inevitable pain ? Why gather these
relics to nourish a feeUng absolutely im-
true— the feehng that the Union is less,
your country than it is ours ? "

"Because it is just to the dead," she
answered swiftly. " Because it is only jus-
tice that we keep in remembrance how
true they were, how brave, how noble,



and— O God ! — what we of the South have
suffered!"

He shook his head and sighed. Stit
saw tears in his eyes.

" Would you have it forgotten," she de-
manded passionately, " that the grandfather
of yoiir son was one of God's noblemen ?
Would you have him remembered only as
a beaten rebel ? "

He put out both his hands impulsively.
She did not take them, and they dropped
by his side.

"It must be as it is," he said sadly.
"Even if I blamed you women of the
South, I could not say so here. Only," he
hesitated, " can you not see that the women
of the North suffered too ? I grew up in
the shadow of a grief so great that it
sapped the very life of my mother and
killed her in the end. I did n't mean,
though, to speak of myself, now that I
know who you are. I will not intrude on
you ; but my little son, with your husband's
name and his mother's eyes, is certainly
guiltless. I will not come with him, but
may I send him with my man to see you
this afternoon, so that I may say to Louise
that you have seen him? Sorrow has



Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Barton) RendleThe Century → online text (page 28 of 120)