J. E. Chamberlain.

Cotton stealing. A novel online

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that is protected we are safe. We must consider ev-
ery plan, and adopt the most feasible, then go to him.
Leette must be saved. We have no moment to lose.
That examination must be prevented, and the corpo-
ral sent back to his regiment. What will you'do ?"
" I do not know how I can marry her."
" Do not get angry at my frankness. I think
enough of you to talk English. Listen, whatever
may be your conclusion, I have been over the ground ;
if you can find a better way of escape, tell me. At
present, hear, accept what I suggest at its value, re-
jecting at pleasure. I desire to save Leette ; this ia
my only excuse. She is rich ; owns two plantations
in Mississippi and one in Arkansas, all in her own



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414 COTTON STBALINa.

right ; she has made money in cotton ; I need not tell
you how much. You also know she can make more ;
she knows the ropes and has the inside track. Ten
thousand bales will not begin to cover your share, and
cotton will rise to over a dollar before the war is done :
and in case the war is over, her husband will be a
millionaire. In the Confederacy she is all right ; —
and as a Yankee's wife, her husband's and her own
Unionism will, save her property from confiscation.
So much for that : now for her rival.

" I am somewhat of a judge of women, and I tell
you. General, Miss Sandison does not love you, and
you know it. She may think so, I believe she tries
to ; perhaps, she does, after a fashion. But you are
a man of the world, not to be tied down to any one
pretty girl. She perceives this quality and tries to
persuade herself to love as before, but cannot ; you
know it, and the reason. It would not hurt her bad-
ly to be deserted ; she would have a crying spell, of
course, and would be better afterwards. No conside-
ration for her feelings should restrain or hinder a mo-
ment. It will be better for her to take the present
pang, than to waken up by and by and find you do
not love her; a thing sure to happen when she takes
the position your right demands, and she is not qual-
ified to occupy. As for her father, you are under no
obligations ; you have made his fortune ; he is in your
debt. The State you came from makes no diflference,
for you can go East and make a new home where mo-
ney will cover a multitude of sins.

"Now for Leette. A woman who loves, loves for-



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COTTON STEALING. 415

ever, through good and ill. Leette is this to you, has
a passion that questions nothing, knows no barrier,
but loves and will die for its object. Miss Sandison
thus does not love you, because she does love this
Corporal. She is attracted to and by him : is repel-
ed from and by you. Why ? You know better than I.
Men marry for money ; fools for love. Money does
all things, and none know it better than you. But
when you can get not only money, but love and am-
bition, a man ambitious and talented like you is more
than fortunate. You love action. In place of sitting
down in an unknown country village, living and dy-
ing in grub-worm-bloated content, you may have a
wife ambitious as yourself, and make an impression
on the country to last forever, writing your name on
the page of the world's history. Your money, her
money, your position will make you a Representa-
tive, a Senator, a Governor ; any oflSce in the gift of
the American people can be obtained by a judicious
manipulation of the party wires. What do they care
where the dollars come from ? Whether from an ice
contract, a Surgeon Geneiars percentage, a Quarter
master's stealings, or a General Commanding's pri-
vate pickings ?

" You know what you receive when you get Miss
Sandison. I know one indispen8able,you do not, can-
not receive, — love. What does Leette bring ? She
is handsome, accomplished, well educated, has trav-
eled, is a lady, perfectly at home in society, and she
loves you. Miss Sandison is not more than this ; —
whatever woman possesses to attract a man, that



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416 COTTON STEALING.

has Leette; and now, if under circ:irn:';'.n?e>
like these, you give up a lady who is attractive as
Miss Sandison undoubtedly is, else, how could she
have won you ? What will be the affection of one who
owes you life itself ; who will love with natural fer-
vor enhanced by an imperishable debt of gratitude ?
Is it not worth a risk ? Is it not worth a sacrifice ? —
can that be called sacrifice which is given up to attain
such a prize?"

*'Well, La Scheme, what can I do ?'*

" I will tell you. Leette must go out of the lines
for the present. She ought to form the acquaintance
of monied men, who can buy our cotton, who can
own steamboats, and do our business, inside of the
lines, and manage all necessary transactions up
North. SandiBon has had this in his hands, and re-
ceived his third. We can do the work for less money,
or rather I want to stand in Sandison' s shoes. Tou
and the General will take your share, and whatever
ebe comes, after the expenses are paid, shall be di-
vided between Leette and me. I think the only safe
course for her to pursue, is to go North. AVhile she
is there, she can find a home, and get everything
ready against your return. Now, how to accom-
plish this :

" Tou have some blank sheets of paper, with the
signature of Generail Scienter under the word ap-
proved. Fill out a pass, or rather sin order, for Mrs.
Leette Hardone to go North out of the lines and
send her by the first boat. Then, one of those same
so filled, will send the Corporal back to his regiment



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COTTON STEALING. 417

in Helena. I will go with Leette, and see her safe
cared for in New York, finish some business I have
there, and be back before you take Vicksburg.**

" I have only one objection. Allie — "

" There !*' interrupted La Scheme. " you have
adopted the Corporars name. You were accustomed
to call her Lina.**

With a grimace and shr,ug, which betokened an-
noyance, Charlie continued: "Miss Sandison has
decided to go up on the first boat, and it would be
unpleasant, you know.**

" Oh ! that is easily arranged. I will get a min-
ister, and have the performance over in two hours.
I heard a whistle as I came in, and before long the
Clerk will report for orders. You can take one of
those same sheets approved in blank, put on what
dispatches are ready, and send her whooping.*'

" That is an idea, by gracious ! 1*11 do it. I hear
them knocking. You go and get Leette ready. I
will be there in less than an hour. I will tell them
I will come on board with despatches myself.**

La Scheme was prepared for every emergency ;
knew where to go for a priest who could obey. First
he went to Leette.

"Corporal,** said he, "call Miss Leette, I come
from the General with verbal orders."

Manet replied : " Mr. La Scheme, I cannot admit
you without direct written orders — **

" What is the matter, Kendal ?" asked Leette,
coming lawlessly from her cell, in full dress."

" The General has consented to send you North.
27



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418 COTTON STEALING.

on tne petition of the Adjutant General, who vouches
for youT character, and proves it by marrying you.
A steamboat has arrived ; in an hour you are to be
ready ; at that time the Adjutant General will be
here, and a minister. 3e ready."

" I am ready," was her answer.

"What does this mean?" asked Mr. Sandison,
who came down soon after, having been awakened
by the noise. " Has a boat arrived from below ?"

" Yes, sir ; and La Scheme has been here with an
order to Miss Ledonc to be ready to go North,"

" Well, I am glad of it. Lina was going by the
first boat to get away from that woman. Now I will
go to sl^ep again, and wait for the next boat. I
will not punish her, by sending them together.**
So saying the political cotton speculator went up
stairs again to his sleep.

From this moment onward there was no hitch nor
interruption. The minister came, the Adjutant
General, and La Scheme. Leette had a ^eat heart
bound when she saw how providently thoughtful he
had been for her, in bringing along her trunk. It
stood by the door, guarded by a big negro, who, by
his faithfulness to a master denying him freedom,
was proving a capacity to honor and enjoy the same
should it ever become his own. The ceremony was
brief, the Corporal being witness, then was handed
him the following order : —

" Headquarters, &c., &c., &c.
" You will permit Mrs. Charles Hardone to pass



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COTTON STBALma. 419

from yonr custody, ta take the first boat for the
North.

" By order of A. S. Solbntbr,

" Brig. Gen. Commanding.
"Chas. Hardonb,
" Approved, Lieut. & A. A. G.

"A. S. Solbntbr,
" Brig. Gen. Com. Post."



On another sheet was the following, the headings
anfi signatures being the same : —



" On receipt of the within you will proceed by first
boat to Helena, and rejoin your regiment, to take
part in the expedition against Vicksburg.

"Chas. Hardonb,
" Approved, Lieut. & A.' A. G.

"A. S. Solbntbr,
" Brig. Gen. Com. Post."



Feeling that his duty would not be done until he
had seen his prisoner safe upon the boat, he follow-
ed them down to the gang plank. Leette had watch-
ed him, and there she called to him, took him so
aside as to be unheard, and said:,

"I hate you, James, but you are honorable, and
I shall save your life again, or my name is not
Leette."

Before she could finish. La Scheme had interfered,
by saying to the Adjutant :



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420 OOTTOK STBALINO,

^^ This Corporal seems boaud to meddle in all jour
affairs-"

The Adjutant stepped up to him^ and said :

" Corporal, the boat just below is fired up for
Helena. Go on board, or you will lose your chance,"

Within the next half hour, both boats were steam-
ing for the opposite parts of the compass ; one for
God's country and life — the other for rebeldom, war
and death*



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CHAPTER XXXVnL

In the city of New York, on a street conveniently
near the center of business, there is a building whose
narrow front conveys to the observer no idea what-
ever of greater capacity than its neighbors. It has
an English basement, entered from the pavement,
under a flight of stone steps, where large dining
halls and well-appointed cooking apparatus are lo-
cated. The house proper begins on the second story.
A hall, containing a wide stairway, and a long, nar-
row room, absorb all the street front. The building
is deceptive, expanding in the rear to double- and
triple its external promise, opening, to the great
surprise of the stranger, upon a range of lofty and
elegant parlors, flanked by suits of anterooms adapt-
ed to the reception of aristocratic guests. These
parlors are located at the head of the hall stairway,
apparently on the second story, really in the third,
and most effectually removed from any observation of
the street. This dwelling, secured by La Scheme,
was occupied by Madame Leette Hardone, wife of a
Union A, A. General, and therefore above suspicion,
whose fashionable elegance, wealth, beauty, and ex-



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9

422 COTTON STBAUKG.

pensive entertainments rendered her dwelling a fa-
vorite resort.

Here were accustomed to assemble the underground
leaders in that Northern conspiracy, which only fail-
ed to succeed, by how little, eternity alone can tell.
No uninitiated person, entering the gay and fes-
tive company, which never failed to gather every
night, would or could have imagined treason, criminal
as that of Jeff. Davis, stratagem more subtle, mask-
ed beneath the bright fascination of this pleasurable
gathering ; although the tone of sentiment was not
patriotic and the songs were tainted with rebellion.
The laugh and song were loudest, the wine flowed
fastest, and mirth was most jubilant, when the bul-
letin announced national defeat.

Madame Leette Hardone boarded here, occupying
a suit of rooms on the main floor, directly in the
rear of the library, which belonged to La Scheme.
This library was a peculiar institution; like the
reading room in an Exchange, in its assortment of
newspapers from every part of the country and Eu-
rope. It had its music, and its art ; pictures to
take the eye, a piano for the ear — where some per-
former constantly afforded a pleasing distraction
should any two individuals become too earnestly en-
gaged in conversation. Books filled the shelves;
those best adapted to please a general reader, stan-
dard works of the best historians and novelists, with
a fair sprinkling of that durable binding which tells
of skill in law. A door, which closed itself, led out
of this room into another. A door with a spring



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COTTON STBALINa. 423

latch — a door which never opened without showing a
magnificent, canopied, mahogany, French bedstead,
suggesting privacy and forbidding any uninvited vis-
itors. Behind this door was a desk ; at this desk La
Scheme wrote, consulted and managed the varied
details of his business, connected with the next elec-
tion. By the side of this desk another door, locked
and forbidden : it communicated with Madame Har-
done's sleeping room. This door was opened on oc-
casion, when such secrecy was thought necessary as
to forbid the knowledge of communication even from
tLe trusted inmates of the house.

La Scheme did not take residence in New York
city. Business — the organization of secret societies
— led him to every state and city of the Union ; nor
was he so unskillful as to declare himself or his ob-
ject, he only sought to know whom he could trust,
knowing he could trust but few. At times he would
visit a city to listen to the strong denunciations of
Union men ; a most certain way to inform who were
proper tools, subsequent organization was confided
to other hands. The genius of La Scheme was won-
derful ; it grappled treasonable souls, used their own
treason, drew from them the earliest suggestion of
resistance to the national Government, and thence-
forward seemed but their tool. Nor was he in the
North alone. His brain was one vast system, which
could, like the blind chess player, remember every
move played against himself by dozens of chess an-
tagonists, on different boards, in different rooms,
and resume at any moment the game where broken



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424 COTTON STEALING.

off. In returning to Memphis, he visited Alhany,
Buffs lo, Clifton, (Canada,) Detroit, Chicago, St.
Louis, and Cairo ; on his return, bringing reports
from the whole South and money from every agent
he had engaged in his great scheme, his path led an-
other route, via Indianapolis and Cincinnati, Phila-
delphia, Baltimore and Washington. He resemble^l
those house-wives whose habits are so well formed,
that, in passing through a room once, the whole is
set in order : in going up stairs for their work, they
do not have to go again for thimble or spool, — their
work-basket always provided, for they never forget
that spool of No. 100 Coats* thread they intended to
get when they went down town.

Without naming the particular day, save to say
the month of October or November, in the year 1863,
La Scheme, wth his pass key, opened Leette's door,
for a private interview. She said to him :

" Ah ! it is you ! is it ! What do you want now ?"
" You must go South immediately.**
" You forget, my dear sir, that you are not my
husband, and you very well know the Greneral has
resigned and expects to find his wife in New York,
as soon as he can reach home. Home ! I hate that
word. I have no home while the Yankees invade
my native State. It may be he will make this
home."

" Your happiness need not be disturbed, for he
must go with you, and your home may be South. I
"wish you joy in your wedded bliss."

Leette uttered a profane word, with which this



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COTTON STKALINa. 425

page shall not be sullied, and said :

*'I will not go. I hate him. I will never be his
wife. The mean wretch! I shall tell him plain
truths, when he comes to me."

" Do not go too {ir ! Do not overshoot ! Tou may
hit adamant, and be killed by the rebound of your
own ball. You borrow trouble before trouble comes."

"La Scheme, what are you doing? I am dis-
gusted with this miserable life among cowardly friends.
I hate these black abolitionists, but I hate more these
mercenary males and females, neither one thing or
the other, whom you have drawn around me here in
New York ; and I am one eternal lie from daylight
till dark, from dark until dawn. I will endure no
longer. I have decided to go to England, where I
can be free. At Paris I can live a gay, untram-
meled life, associated with counts and kings, nor see
a single me^n Yankee to drive me mad. I remain
here simply on account of my oath. Oh ! if Janie
were alive ! If I could only do something! I would
love to risk my life on a raid for quinine ! You keep
me here, shut up, tied, — a mere doll baby. I am
sick, tired of this life. I want action : to live where
I can breathe freely — in England or France. I do
not accomplish anything. I would rather die !"

" Have I not told you, Leette, that you were do-
ing an invaluable work here — to-day deceiving the
Yanks and makihg friends for the South ; that I
could not get on without you ; that you exert an in-
fluence for our cause in New York of greater value
than two-thirds of all the cavalry raids since the war



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426 COTTON STEALING.

began? Where is your patience? No matter.^
There is work, active work, now, for you. Will
you do it ?"

" No, I will do nothing. I have worked in the
dark long enough. You are perfectly unreliable. I
have no confidence whatever ia your faith, nor your
word. You promised to be here a week ago. The
time before this, you exceeded your covenanted re-
turn so much that I lost courage, and the oppor-
tunity of making ten thousand dollars. Even now,
to-day, I am loosing by your delay."

" Why do you not use Longcheat?"

"Use Longcheat ! Use a thief!"

" Then," said La Scheme, " I am necessary to
you."

" Yes, until I can make a tool of some other one.
Let me think : perhaps I may endure my — bah ! —
Well, Charlie may be useful after all."

" He will be useful. You nor I can afford to give
him up. He is your husband, and you are his wife-"

" Blessed privilege !" broke in Leette. "I do
value it. I wish — ^yes, how I do wish, a stray bullet
might hunt his heart before he leaves New Orleans !
I would wear colors for joy."

" Madame Hardone, I am displeased with you."

" What if you are ! It is ijot so near a first time
as to terrify me. What do you want ? You never
come here unless there is something — some little,
contemptible thing — ^for me to do. Oh ! if I "w:as a
man!"

" You could not have saved Vicksburg, nor res-



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COTTON STEALING. 427

cued Port Hudson. You would only be a single
man. Suppose you were Beauregard or Johnston,
would you chafe less at the causeless enmity and
opposition they meet from our own side, their best
friends? No, Leette; here at the North you are
doing more for the South than any General at home
in the Confederacy. Only follow my direction, and
you shall be more serviceable than the President him-
self. Be patient, and wait, as does our brave and
noble Lee. Hold on, and soon you, with them, shall
win the victory. But, let me tell you, if we fail,
you and I, and our friends here, that the Confed-
eracy, is done for, our States are conquered, the
slaves are free, and we are slaves."

" I do not believe you. What am I doing ? What
can I do ? I did more when I was in the lines. —
There was some excitement there."

" Leette, to what end is this opposition ? Why
are you perverse?"

" Is ignorance perverseness ? When have I ever
refused any reasonable requirement ? Tell me what
are your commands."

" I want twenty millions of dollars. With this
sum I can carry the next election ; put in Washing-
ton a peace President, who will give us time and a
peaceable separation."

" You cannot do it, Kendal. It is impossible !"

"I can. I have learned and know it, not only pos-
sible, but feasible, probable and certain. While you
have been here, ill at ease from my absence, I have,
tested the whole North, and know the price of every



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428 COTTON STBALINa.

leading politician. I do not now include our own
friends, the true, unwavering Democrats of the North.
The politicians, who encouraged us in the first act of
secession, are our friends and can be relied on. There
are others, more than a few, who are unaproachable.
I do not care for them. A sufficient number of pro-
fessed radical Republicans can be bought out right
A larger number will slowly yield when we have
started the current. I know they are already joining
us, and the current will be overwhelming. I have
the names of those who are reputed to be strong friends
of the administration, who can be made bitter foes ;
and there are some of the most distinguished and in-
fluential Republicans, who are not yet prepared to
accept the logic of the abolition idea. These men
will readily go on the other side whenever they can do
so with consistency. Some of them have made ad-
vances already. Money, money, oh, for money !'*

** This may all seem plain to you. It is midnight
to me. Tou told me this same thing when we came
North, and now all you have done is to spend the Con-
federate money, and speculate in gold and stocks
with our own. We have increased our wealth, but
this discourages me. I see money in profusion dis-
pensed by the Government among all its creatures,
and the people not only do not object, but encourage
this expenditure. They were never more prosperous,
and make more money and spend more than they ev-
er could had there been no war. Politicians, upon
whom you so much rely, seem to me the best satisfied
with this state of affairs, and would rather continue



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COTTON STEALING. 429

ihe war than put it to an end. You must make me
comprehend not only your plan, but satisfy my judg-
ment of its feasibility.*'

" Willingly. Leette, before I begin, permit me to
kindly remonstrate against your perverse opposition
to me, this mixture of love and hate. Can you not
perceive how impossible it is for me to remain in New
York ? But no, you do not, cannot understand until
I speak more minutely of my past work^ and what I
have still before me.

" First, the money in circulation, of which the
people have so much, which they spend so freely, is a
mere paper promise to pay, and can be repudiated at
any moment. A reason, a very good reason for its
extensive circulation, is the lack of confidence in its
permanence, which impels those who hold, to rid
themselves of it as soon as possible. With greenbacks
they pay their debts contracted in coin ; and they buy
lands whose value is permanent like coin ; or they in-
vest in stocks of railroads and mines, which, though
they fluctuate, have a coin value. .Your eyes are
blind not to perceive in this external prosperity, real
destruction. All able financiers are posted. This is
the reason I advised you to speculate in gold. You
have been successful. The ten thousand you refer to
is a mere bagatelle. You have lost nothing. Invest
to-morrow, and you will make more money. Hold
all the gold you now have for six months, and you
will triple your investment. This influx of paper,
this inflation of the market, only precedes dissolution,
and is, to my mind, the most valuable indication of our



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480 COTTON STBALINO.

success. Still, I know you will not be satisfied with
this alone. Listen then to my report.

" I went to Albany, and found things prepared, as
I had been promised they should. I did not act my-
self, but had posted thoroughly a smart young law-
yer, whom I paid a thousand dollars to do the talk-
ing. He did the business well and was successful. —
Before you, who know my design, no concealment is
required, and a few brief words will suflSce to state
bis argument.

^^ The Emancipation proclamation makes tbe negro
and white man equal. The slave, no more a slave,
and entitled to trial by jury can talk back. What
white man, that is a white man, will ever stand a nig-
ger's lip ! If you call a nigger a man, he is entitled
to tha rights of a man : personal security and personal
property, equal rights to education, to self-posses-
sion, and family possession ; to personal wealth, and
the right to govern his family and his property ; from



Online LibraryJ. E. ChamberlainCotton stealing. A novel → online text (page 25 of 29)