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Produced by Charles Aldarondo










An Original Belle

By: E. P. Roe

1900





PREFACE.




No race of men, scarcely an individual, is so devoid of intelligence
as not to recognize power. Few gifts are more courted. Power is
almost as varied as character, and the kind of power most desired
or appreciated is a good measure of character. The pre-eminence
furnished by thew and muscle is most generally recognized; but, as
men reach levels above the animal, other qualities take the lead.
It is seen that the immaterial spirit wins the greater triumphs, - that
the brainless giant, compared with the dwarf of trained intelligence,
can accomplish little. The scale runs on into the moral qualities,
until at last humanity has given its sanction to the Divine words,
"Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." The
few who have successfully grasped the lever of which Archimedes
dreamed are those who have attained the highest power to serve the
world.

Among the myriad phases of power, perhaps that of a gifted and
beautiful woman is the most subtile and hard to define. It is not
the result of mere beauty, although that may be an important element;
and if wit, intelligence, learning, accomplishments, and goodness
are added, all combined cannot wholly explain the power that some
women possess. Deeper, perhaps more potent, than all else, is an
individuality which distinguishes one woman from all others, and
imparts her own peculiar fascination. Of course, such words do not
apply to those who are content to be commonplace themselves, and
who are satisfied with the ordinary homage of ordinary minds, or
the conventional attention of men who are incited to nothing better.

One of the purposes of this story is to illustrate the power of a
young girl not so beautiful or so good as many of her sisters. She
was rather commonplace at first, but circumstances led her to the
endeavor to be true to her own nature and conscience and to adopt
a very simple scheme of life. She achieved no marvellous success,
nothing beyond the ability of multitudes like herself.

I have also sought to reproduce with some color of life and reality
a critical period in our civil war. The scenes and events of the
story culminate practically in the summer of 1863. The novel was
not written for the sake of the scenes or events. They are employed
merely to illustrate character at the time and to indicate its
development.

The reader in the South must be bitter and prejudiced indeed if
he does not discover that I have sought to be fair to the impulses
and motives of its people.

In touching upon the Battle of Gettysburg and other historical
events, I will briefly say that I have carefully consulted authentic
sources of information. For the graphic suggestion of certain
details I am indebted to the "History of the 124th Regt. N.Y.S.V.,"
by Col. Charles H. Weygant, to the recollections of Capt. Thomas
Taft and other veterans now living.

Lieut.-Col. H. C. Hasbrouck, commandant of Cadets at West Point,
has kindly read the proof of chapters relating to the battle of
Gettysburgh.

My story is also related to the New York Draft Riots of 1863, an
historical record not dwelt upon before in fiction to my knowledge.
It is almost impossible to impart an adequate impression of that
reign of terror. I have not hoped to do this, or to give anything
like a detailed and complete account of events. The scenes and
incidents described, however, had their counterpart in fact. Rev.
Dr. Howard Crosby of New York saw a young man face and disperse
a mob of hundreds, by stepping out upon the porch of his home and
shooting the leader. This event took place late at night.

I have consulted "Sketches of the Draft Riots in 1863," by Hon. J.
T. Headley, the files of the Press of that time, and other records.

The Hon. Thomas C. Acton. Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police
during the riot, accorded me a hearing, and very kindly followed
the thread of my story through the stormy period in question.

E. P. R

CORNWALL-ON-HUDSON, N.Y., AUG. 7, 1885.






CONTENTS.





CHAPTER I. A RUDE AWAKENING

CHAPTER II. A NEW ACQUAINTANCE

CHAPTER III. A NEW FRIEND

CHAPTER IV. WOMAN'S CHIEF RIGHT

CHAPTER V. "BE HOPEFUL, THAT I MAY HOPE"

CHAPTER VI. A SCHEME OF LIFE

CHAPTER VII. SURPRISES

CHAPTER VIII. CHARMED BY A CRITIC

CHAPTER IX. A GIRL'S LIGHT HAND

CHAPTER X. WILLARD MERWYN

CHAPTER XI. AN OATH AND A GLANCE

CHAPTER XII. "A VOW"

CHAPTER XIII. A SIEGE BEGUN

CHAPTER XIV. OMINOUS

CHAPTER XV. SCORN

CHAPTER XVI. AWAKENED AT LAST

CHAPTER XVII. COMING TO THE POINT

CHAPTER XVIII. A GIRL'S STANDARD

CHAPTER XIX. PROBATION PROMISED

CHAPTER XX. "YOU THINK ME A COWARD"

CHAPTER XXI. FEARS AND PERPLEXITIES

CHAPTER XXII. A GIRL'S THOUGHTS AND IMPULSES

CHAPTER XXIII. "MY FRIENDSHIP IS MINE TO GIVE"

CHAPTER XXIV. A FATHER'S FORETHOUGHT

CHAPTER XXV. A CHAINED WILL

CHAPTER XXVI. MARIAN'S INTERPRETATION OF MERWYN

CHAPTER XXVII. "DE HEAD LINKUM MAN WAS CAP'N LANE"

CHAPTER XXVIII. THE SIGNAL LIGHT

CHAPTER XXIX. MARIAN CONTRASTS LANE AND MERWYN

CHAPTER XXX THE NORTH INVADED

CHAPTER XXXI. "I'VE LOST MY CHANCE"

CHAPTER XXXII. BLAUVELT

CHAPTER XXXIII. A GLIMPSE OF WAR

CHAPTER XXXIV. A GLIMPSE OF WAR, CONTINUED

CHAPTER XXXV. THE GRAND ASSAULT

CHAPTER XXXVI. BLAUVELT'S SEARCH FOR STRAHAN

CHAPTER XXXVII. STRAHAN'S ESCAPE

CHAPTER XXXVIII. A LITTLE REBEL

CHAPTER XXXIX. THE CURE OF CAPTAIN LANE

CHAPTER XL. LOVE'S TRIUMPH

CHAPTER XLI. SUNDAY'S LULL AND MONDAY'S STORM

CHAPTER XLII. THAT WORST OF MONSTERS, A MOB

CHAPTER XLIII. THE "COWARD"

CHAPTER XLIV. A WIFE'S EMBRACE

CHAPTER XLV. THE DECISIVE BATTLE

CHAPTER XLVI. "I HAVE SEEN THAT YOU DETEST ME"

CHAPTER XLVII. A FAIR FRIEND AND FOUL FOES

CHAPTER XLVIII. DESPERATE FIGHTING

CHAPTER XLIX. ONE FACING HUNDREDS

CHAPTER L. ZEB

CHAPTER LI. A TRAGEDY

CHAPTER LII. "MOTHER AND SON"

CHAPTER LIII. "MISSY S'WANEE"






AN ORIGINAL BELLE.

CHAPTER I.

A RUDE AWAKENING.





MARIAN VOSBURGH had been content with her recognized position
as a leading belle. An evening spent in her drawing-room revealed
that; but at the close of the particular evening which it was our
privilege to select there occurred a trivial incident. She was led
to think, and thought is the precursor of action and change in all
natures too strong and positive to drift. On that night she was
an ordinary belle, smiling, radiant, and happy in following the
traditions of her past.

She had been admired as a child, as a school-girl, and given a
place among the stars of the first magnitude since her formal debut.
Admiration was as essential as sunshine; or, to change the figure,
she had a large and a natural and healthful appetite for it. She was
also quite as much entitled to it as the majority of her class.
Thus far she had accepted life as she found it, and was in the
main conventional. She was not a deliberate coquette; it was not
her recognized purpose to give a heartache to as many as possible;
she merely enjoyed in thoughtless exultation her power to attract
young men to her side. There was keen excitement in watching them,
from the moment of introduction, as they passed through the phases
of formal acquaintanceship into relations that bordered on sentiment.
When this point was reached experiences sometimes followed which
caused not a little compunction.

She soon learned that society was full of men much like herself in
some respects, ready to meet new faces, to use their old compliments
and flirtation methods over and over again. They could look unutterable
things at half a dozen different girls in the same season, while
their hearts remained as invulnerable as old-fashioned pin-cushions,
heart-shaped, that adorn country "spare rooms." But now and then
a man endowed with a deep, strong nature would finally leave her
side in troubled wonder or bitter cynicism. Her fair, young face,
her violet eyes, so dark as to appear almost black at night, had
given no token that she could amuse herself with feelings that
touched the sources of life and death in such admirers.

"They should have known better, that I was not in earnest," she
would say, petulantly, and more or less remorsefully.

But these sincere men, who had been so blind as to credit her with
gentle truth and natural intuition, had some ideal of womanhood
which had led to their blunder. Conscious of revealing so much
themselves by look, tone, and touch of hand, eager to supplement
one significant glance by life-long loyalty, they were slow in
understanding that answering significant glances meant only, "I
like you very well, - better than others, just at present; but then
I may meet some one to-morrow who is a great deal more fun than
you are."

Fun! With them it was a question of manhood, of life, and of
that which gives the highest value and incentive to life. It was
inevitable, therefore, that Marian Vosburgh should become a mirage
to more than one man; and when at last the delusion vanished, there
was usually a flinty desert to be crossed before the right, safe
path was gained.

From year to year Mr. Vosburgh had rented for his summer residence
a pretty cottage on the banks of the Hudson. The region abounded
in natural beauty and stately homes. There was an infusion of
Knickerbocker blood in the pre-eminently elect ones of society, and
from these there was a gradual shading off in several directions,
until by some unwritten law the social line was drawn. Strangers
from the city might be received within the inner circle, or they
might not, as some of the leaders practically decreed by their
own action. Mr. Vosburgh did not care in the least for the circle
or its constituents. He was a stern, quiet man; one of the strong
executive hands of the government at a time when the vital questions
of the day had come to the arbitrament of the sword. His calling
involved danger, and required an iron will. The questions which
chiefly occupied his mind were argued by the mouths of cannon.

As for Marian, she too cared little for the circle and its social
dignitaries. She had no concessions to make, no court to pay.
She was not a dignitary, but a sovereign, and had her own court.
Gentleman friends from the city made their headquarters at a
neighboring summer hotel; young men from the vicinity were attracted
like moths, and the worst their aristocratic sisters could say
against the girl was that she had too many male friends, and was
not "of their set." Indeed, with little effort she could have won
recognition from the bluest blood of the vicinage; but this was not
her ambition. She cared little for the ladies of her neighborhood,
and less for their ancestors, while she saw as much of the gentlemen
as she desired. She had her intimates among her own sex, however,
and was on the best terms with her good-natured, good-hearted,
but rather superficial mother, who was a discreet, yet indulgent
chaperon, proud of her daughter and of the attention she received,
while scarcely able to comprehend that any serious trouble could
result from it if the proprieties of life were complied with.
Marian was never permitted to give that kind of encouragement
which compromises a girl, and Mrs. Vosburgh felt that there her
duty ceased. All that could be conveyed by the eloquent eye, the
inflection of tones, and in a thousand other ways, was unnoted,
and beyond her province.

The evening of our choice is an early one in June. The air is
slightly chilly and damp, therefore the parlor is preferable to
the vine-sheltered piazza, screened by the first tender foliage.
We can thus observe Miss Vosburgh's deportment more closely, and
take a brief note of her callers.

Mr. Lane is the first to arrive, perhaps for the reason that he is
a downright suitor, who has left the city and business, in order
to further the interests nearest his heart. He is a keen-eyed,
strong-looking fellow, well equipped for success by knowledge of
the world and society; resolute, also, in attaining his desired
ends. His attentions to Marian have been unmistakable for some
months, and he believes that he has received encouragement. In
truth, he has been the recipient of the delusive regard that she is
in the habit of bestowing. He is one whom she could scarcely fail
to admire and like, so entertaining is he in conversation, and
endowed with such vitality and feeling that his words are not airy
nothings.

He greets her with a strong pressure of the hand, and his first
glance reveals her power.

"Why, this is an agreeable surprise, Mr. Lane," she exclaims.

"Agreeable? I am very glad to hear that," he says, in his customary
direct speech. "Yes, I ran up from the city this afternoon. On my
way to lunch I became aware of the beauty of the day, and as my
thoughts persisted in going up the river I was led to follow them.
One's life does not consist wholly of business, you know; at least
mine does not."

"Yet you have the reputation of being a busy man."

"I should hope so. What would you think of a young fellow not busy
in these times?"

"I am not sure I should think at all. You give us girls too much
credit for thinking."

"Oh, no; there's no occasion for the plural. I don't give 'us girls'
anything. I am much too busy for that. But I know you think, Miss
Marian, and have capacity for thought."

"Possibly you are right about the capacity. One likes to think one
has brains, you know, whether she uses them or not. I don't think
very much, however, - that is, as you use the word, for it implies
the putting of one's mind on something and keeping it there. I like
to let thoughts come and go as the clouds do in our June skies. I
don't mean thunder-clouds and all they signify, but light vapors
that have scarcely beginning or end, and no very definite being.
I don't seem to have time or inclination for anything else, except
when I meet you with your positive ways. I think it is very kind
of you to come from New York to give me a pleasant evening."

"I'm not so very disinterested. New York has become a dull place,
and if I aid you to pass a pleasant evening you insure a pleasanter
one for me. What have you been doing this long June day, that you
have been too busy for thought?"

"Let me see. What have I been doing? What an uncomfortable question
to ask a girl! You men say we are nothing but butterflies, you
know."

"I never said that of you."

"You ask a question which makes me say it virtually of myself. That
is a way you keen lawyers have. Very well; I shall be an honest
witness, even against myself. That I wasn't up with the lark this
morning goes without saying. The larks that I know much about are
on the wing after dinner in the evening. The forenoon is a variable
sort of affair with many people. Literally I suppose it ends at 12
M., but with me it is rounded off by lunch, and the time of that
event depends largely upon the kitchen divinity that we can lure to
this remote and desolate region. 'Faix,' remarked that potentate,
sniffing around disdainfully the day we arrived, 'does yez expects
the loikes o' me to stop in this lonesomeness? We're jist at the
ind of the wourld.' Mamma increased her wages, which were already
double what she earns, and she still condescends to provide our
daily food, giving me a forenoon which closes at her convenience.
During this indefinite period I look after my flowers and birds,
sing and play a little, read a little, entertain a little, and thus
reveal to you a general littleness. In the afternoon I take a nap,
so that I may be wide awake enough to talk to a bright man like
you in case he should appear. Now, are you not shocked and pained
at my frivolous life?"

"You have come to the country for rest and recuperation, Miss
Marian?"

"Oh, what a word, - 'recuperation!' It never entered my head that
I had come into the country for that. Do I suggest a crying need
for recuperation?"

"I wouldn't dare tell you all that you suggest to me, and I read
more than you say between your lines. When I approached the house
you were chatting and laughing genially with your mother."

"Oh, yes, mamma and I have as jolly times together as two girls."

"That was evident, and it made a very pleasant impression on me.
One thing is not so evident, and it indicates a rather one-sided
condition of affairs. I could not prevent my thoughts from visiting
you often to-day before I came myself, but I fear that among your
June-day occupations there has not been one thought of me."

She had only time to say, sotto voce, "Girls don't tell everything,"
when the maid announced, from the door, "Mr. Strahan."

This second comer was a young man precociously mature after a
certain style. His home was a fine old place in the vicinity, but
in his appearance there was no suggestion of the country; nor did
he resemble the violet, although he was somewhat redolent of the
extract of that modest flower. He was dressed in the extreme of
the prevailing mode, and evidently cultivated a metropolitan air,
rather than the unobtrusive bearing of one who is so thoroughly a
gentleman that he can afford to be himself. Mr. Strahan was quite
sure of his welcome, for he felt that he brought to the little
cottage a genuine Madison-avenue atmosphere. He was greeted with
the cordiality which made Miss Vosburgh's drawing-room one of the
pleasantest of lounging-places, whether in town or country; and
under his voluble lead conversation took the character of fashionable
gossip, which would have for the reader as much interest as
the presentation of some of the ephemeral weeds of that period.
But Mr. Strahan's blue eyes were really animated as he ventured
perilously near a recent scandal in high life. His budget of news
was interspersed with compliments to his hostess, which, like the
extract on his handkerchief, were too pronounced. Mr. Lane regarded
him with politely veiled disgust, but was too well-bred not to
second Miss Vosburgh's remarks to the best of his ability.

Before long two or three more visitors dropped in. One from the hotel
was a millionnaire, a widower leisurely engaged in the selection of
a second wife. Another was a young artist sketching in the vicinity.
A third was an officer from West Point who knew Mr. Vosburgh.
There were also callers from the neighborhood during the evening.
Mrs. Vosburgh made her appearance early, and was almost as skilful
a hostess as her daughter. But few of the guests remained long.
They had merely come to enjoy a pleasant half-hour or more under
circumstances eminently agreeable, and would then drive on and pay
one or two visits in the vicinity. That was the way in which nearly
all Marian's "friendships" began.

The little parlor resounded with animated talk, laughter, and music,
that was at the same time as refined as informal. Mrs. Vosburgh
would seat herself at the piano, that a new dancing-step or a new
song might be tried. The gentlemen were at liberty to light their
cigars and form groups among themselves, so free from stiffness
was Marian's little salon. Brief time elapsed, however, without a
word to each, in her merry, girlish voice, for she had the instincts
of a successful hostess, and a good-natured sense of honor, which
made her feel that each guest was entitled to attention. She was
not much given to satire, and the young men soon learned that she
would say more briery things to their faces than behind their backs.
It was also discovered that ill-natured remarks about callers who
had just departed were not tolerated, - that within certain limits
she was loyal to her friends, and that, she was too high-minded to
speak unhandsomely of one whom she had just greeted cordially. If
she did not like a man she speedily froze him out of the ranks of
her acquaintance; but for such action there was not often occasion,
since she and her mother had a broad, easy tolerance of those
generally accepted by society. Even such as left her parlor finally
with wounds for which there was no rapid healing knew that no one
would resent a jest at their expense more promptly than the girl
whom they might justly blame for having smiled too kindly.

Thus she remained a general favorite. It was recognized that she had
a certain kind of loyalty which could be depended upon. Of course
such a girl would eventually marry, and with natural hope and
egotism each one felt that he might be the successful competitor.
At any rate, as in war, they must take their chances, and it seems
that there is never a lack of those willing to assume such risks.

Thus far, however, Marian had no inclination to give up her present
life of variety and excitement. She preferred incense from many
worshippers to the devotion of one. The secret of this was perhaps
that her heart had remained so untouched and unconscious that she
scarcely knew she had one. She understood the widower's preference,
enjoyed the compliment, and should there be occasion would, in
perfect good taste, beg to be excused.

Her pulse was a little quickened by Mr. Lane's downright earnestness,
and when matters should come to a crisis she would say lovely
things to him of her esteem, respect, regret, etc. She would wish
they might remain friends - why could they not, when she liked him
so much? As for love and engagement, she did not, could not, think
of that yet.

She was skilful, too, in deferring such crises, and to-night, in
obedience to a signal, Mrs. Vosburgh remained until even Mr. Lane
despaired of another word in private, and departed, fearing to put
his fate to the test.

At last the dainty apartment, the merry campaigning-ground, was
darkened, and Marian, flushed, wearied, and complacent, stepped
out on the piazza to breathe for a few moments the cool, fragrant
air. She had dropped into a rustic seat, and was thinking over
the events of the evening with an amused smile, when the following
startling words arose from the adjacent shrubbery: -

"Arrah, noo, will ye niver be sinsible? Here I'm offerin' ye me
heart, me loife. I'd be glad to wourk for ye, and kape ye loike a
leddy. I'd be thrue to ye ivery day o' me loife, - an' ye knows it,
but ye jist goes on makin' eyes at this wan an' flirtin' wid that
wan an' spakin' swate to the t'other, an' kapin' all on the string
till they can nayther ate nor slape nor be half the min they were
till ye bewildered 'em. Ye're nothin' but a giddy, light-minded,
shallow crather, a spoilin' min for your own fun. I've kep' company
wid ye a year, and ye've jist blowed hot and cowld till I'm not
meself any more, and have come nigh losin' me place. Noo, by St.
Patrick, ye must show whether ye're a woman or a heartless jade
that will sind a man to the divil for sport."

These words were poured out with the impetuosity of longsuffering
endurance finally vanquished, and before the speaker had concluded
Marian was on her way to the door, that she might not listen to a
conversation of so delicate a nature. But she did not pass beyond
hearing before part of the reply reached her.

"Faix, an' I'm no wourse than me young mistress."

It was a chance arrow, but it went straight to the mark, aad when
Marian reached her room her cheeks were aflame.






CHAPTER II.

A NEW ACQUAINTANCE.





Gross matter can change form and character in a moment, when merely
touched by the effective agent. It is easy to imagine, therefore,
how readily a woman's quick mind might be influenced by a truth
or a thought of practical and direct application. All the homilies
ever written, all the counsel of matrons and sages, could not
have produced on Marian so deep an impression as was made by these
few chance words. They came as a commentary, not only on her past
life, but on the past few hours. Was it true, then, that she was no
better than the coquettish maid, the Irish servant in the family's
employ? Was she, with her education and accomplishments, her social
position and natural gifts, acting on no higher plane, influenced
by no worthier motives and no loftier ambition? Was the ignorant
girl justified in quoting her example in extenuation of a course
that to a plain and equally ignorant man seemed unwomanly to the
last degree?

Wherein was she better? Wherein lay the difference between her and
the maid?

She covered her hot face with her hands as the question took the
form: "Wherein am I worse? Is not our principle of action the same,
while I have greater power and have been crippling higher types
of men, and giving them, for sport, an impulse towards the devil?



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