J. E. Chamberlain.

Cotton stealing. A novel online

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which proceeds the right to vote upon all questions
which involve his pecuniary, personal or family influ-
ence, all of which united, make him a free American
citizen.

"Leette, the Black Republican could not stand
that. He was too much of an aristocrat to endure the
idea of a nigger equal, a nigger voter, a nigger sena-
tor, a nigger governor, a nigger president, and he fell
into the trap I set for him. He is all right now. He
belongs to the select few who were bom to rule the
world. Already he has done his share of governing,
and by means of the various strings at his command,



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COTTON STBALING. 481

makes white men his slaves. The mudsills of the
North look up to him, bow down before his throne
and worship, and were he only South, had he been
born South, he would be as great an autocrat as could
be desired. Heis just like ourselves.

" I have been at Buffalo. I have been in Ohio.
The men with whom I have consulted are sure of suc-
cess. So too am I, for we are built on eternal prin-
ciple, and there is no logical principle diffused through
the masses of the North upon which the Republican
party bases its actions. Very few even of the leading
thinkers have adopted any theory which is based on
eternal truth, like ours, in which God is the Master,
and Creation the slave, in which star governs star of
lower magnitude, and Cherubim, Seraph, Arch-angel
and angel govern those who are below them. ^The
principle of slavery is the God-given principle of the
universe, and we must succeed because failure is im-
possible. They fight for the Union, — so do we. Our
united aristocratic Confederacy.

" In this united Confederacy, these men, possessors
of great influence, will join us, but we must pay them
for the influence by which they command franchises and
accumulate their wealth. At present, these fran-
chises, their wealth is at the disposition of the Black
Republican idea, and it becomes necessary for us to
mould the opinion of the country, so as to direct their
power into the new channel. We must pay them" a
price which will make it an object for them to change
and bias the country by their independent and pon-
derous influence. We must have money. Twenty



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432 COTTON STEALINa.

millions will do the work. Twenty millions will not
only supply our friends with the sinews of war, but
buy all the influence we need. There are cheap men
whose influence can easily be obtained ; five or six
millions well spent in Washington will not only keep
in our hands the key of every department, but employ
and protect in the Cabinet itself, a politician who will
obey our every direction."

" Kendal, what a man you are !"
"Why then distrust me, Leette?"
" Because I am a woman and need love."
"Love ! weakness ! no love now. I want no love
to interfere in my plans. My ambition is too high.
Why was I not in the place of Jeff. Davis ? The d— d
fool ! If I had the reins I would conquer without
another battle. Even if the Confederacy should fail
under his direction, I should not lose hope; for out
of the wreck could elements of success be gathered
which will restore the principle of sovereignty, the
principle of slavery and create the new empire. Leette
can you not rise above humanity, above the mere wo-
man, and be a God ?"

" I can, Kendal, I can. Tell me what to do."
" There are a million bales of cotton up the Red
River. General Scienter is in town. Your husband
wiH soon be here. Plan a Red River expedition."
He paused. She wis silent. Then he asked, —
"Do you understand me ?"
She answered him thoughtfully, " Yes."
"Will you undertake it?"
With the same deliberation as before she answered,
"Yes."



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COTTON STEALING. 433

He took her hand, drew her to him and put a kiss
on her forehead, saying,

" Success. When shall I introduce General So-
lenter?"

Abstractedly as if her mind had gone from her bo-
dy, pondering that which was before her, she answer-
ed, —

" Bring him to-night. I am ready.*'

Then she put her arms about La Scheme, as a
mother might grasp her boy going into battle, put him
away without a tear, but a sigh which was between a
sigh and a groan.



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CHAPTER XXXIX.

La Scheme left Leette to form her plans. By*
simplj saying the word Red River, the subject pre-
sented itself before a strong, active mind, and he
could safely wait while it was revolving itself. The
fact of confidence, such confidence would stimulate
Leette to profound thought, and even to originate a
plan better than his own. La Scheme had learned
this most difficult lesson for a strong mind : to permit
other strong minds which he must use, to follow their
own, not his preconceived path in reaching the goal,
— ^the victory being his object, regardless of anything
else. But he did not design to leave Leette uncon-
trolled. He knew her impulses were not absolutely
reliable, and left her to follow them so long, and
only so long, as pleased his purpose. La Scheme
sought his spy.

The lady who told Leette Ledonc, when she came
to Memphis, that she was to be the wife of La
Scheme, is also a member of this household ; faithful



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COTTON STBAUNQ. 435

by her oath, faithful by her love, faithful by her
jealousy. The matchless La Scheme convinced her
of his devotion, by his manner and his kind treat-
ment, and proved his disregard for Leette by giving
her the name of Madame Hardone. It was necessary,
however, to satisfy Leette, and between a natural
wickedness, which delighted in making two females
uncomfortable, and absorption in work, he aroused
the passion of jealousy, which watched Leette, morn-
ing, noon, and night.

As soon as his interview with one was over. La
Scheme sought the other ; unless the object could be
better attained by absence. To-day he went directly
to her private room, took his accustomed chair, — one
presented by himself because convenient for two, —
and called her to his usual place when with him. He
used a word with which Leette had been familiar.

" Darling, I am tired. I wish to rest a few mo-
inents, and have come to you. I do wish war was
over so we could have a home."

" Has anything gone wrong, Eendal ?"

" No. On the contrary, everything prospers too
well, so that I anticipate some drawback. This
makes me doubly anxious for the fate of this eve-
ning."

"Why is this evening so important?"

" Leette !"

" What of Leette ?"

" I expect the Federal General, Scienter, and —
Tou know what Leette is ; she may forget her obli-
gations and make mischief."



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486 OOTTON STEALING.

" Why do you trust her ? I do not need watch-
uig > yott confide in me,"

^^ It is too late now. Besides she has had dealings
with the General. I do not believe she will so far
forget herself as to drag up by-gones. At any rate
I shall be with them part of the time. Will you
keep particular watch for me to-night, and let me
know instantly should anything occur ?"

" You cannot doubt it, Kendal !'*

" No, oh no ! I only asked because I appreciate
how much you are doing. I see how weary you
often look, and I would not think of increasing your
many cares, were I not well assured of your love of
our cause."

^' Sometimes, dear Kendal, I do become discour-
aged and disheartened, but never when you are kind
If you were always as now, I should never have a
dark day."

"Woman, woman! nothing but a woman after
all. I ought not to expect so much from your sex.
I thought you could comprehend my task and the
constant mask I must make of my countenance. —
Believe me, my heart is unchanged ! No matter
what my actions may seem to say, heed them not !
When my words are cruel, forget them. You know
me ; like myself, you are in an enemy's country. I
never doubt you. Give me the same trust. Confide
in my honor and truth."

« I will."

" I knew you would, darling."

There is no need to follow this interview, for thia



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COTTON STBALING. 487

book has failed utterly, if the politician La Scheme
has not a clearly delineated character. Nor will any
time be occupied in a description of Leette's draw-
ing-rooms and parlors, the company, the music, the
dance or the supper. General Scienter was there ;
and with him, and the Red River expedition, as con-
nected with cotton, we have only to do.

When the grand entertainment was over, and the
hour for guests to begin to think of home was at
hand, Leette invited the General to a private tete-
a-tete.

Again, as once before, the General commenced his
conversation by saying: "This is magnificent!*' —
Well might he say so ! The floor was carpeted with
softest Wilton. The center table was of rose wood ;
and now its marble top was iiet with a delicate col-
lation, arranged in silver — ^fruit, cakes and wine.
There was only one window. This extended across
an end of the room, which was heavily draped with
velvet damask, at this time looped on one side, so as
to discover a large bay-window, filled with tropical
plants, whose fragrance filled the room. The most
conspicuous among them were two trees, an Orange
and Lemon, adorned with buds and fruit, also a
White Cape Jessamine and an Oleander, so covered
with blossoms as to transport the mind to the sunny
South. Between the drooping folds, which rested
against the snow-white curtains of delicate open
work, hung a silver cage, in which a Southern mock-
ing bird sang its tempest of melody. If is not often
that birds sing out of season, but the room had a



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488 ooTTOir stbaung.

strange, soft beaatj to-night, which affected eyen
bird nature ; for the jets of the gas chandelier had
been curtained by alabaster shades, lending an at-
mosphere of enchantment, which drew a soft, deep,
canary song from the bird's throat, swelling into tri-
umph, until it mingled with the distant band, as
Leette opened the door, and it died away, when Gen-
eral Scienter sat down and gazed at the luxurious
exhibition of Leette*s taste.

Leette had invited him to sit down in one of those
modern inventions, which refuse to admit a third to
separate two intimate friends: invented at the sug-
gestion of that song which sings, " Thou art so near,
and yet so far/' She took the other seat, and doing
so pointed to an Armenian hookah with its long, snaky
stem and amber mouth piece, waiting for use, and said,

'^ Imagine me your Circassian attendant and permit
me to fill the bowl with genuine Turkish tobacco and
light it for you. I love the smell of fragrant smoke,
and this is doubly pleasant since it passes through ice
cool rose-water."

She did not wait for a reply, but proceeded to per-
form the oflSce. While doing it. La Scheme knock-
ed. Leette expected him, and without leaving the
pipe said, " Come in." When charged and lighted,
she turned, and with admirable deceit, said,

" I did not anticipate this honor. Please be seated."

He took an easy chair. She brought him a box of
cigars This chair had been placed opposite the Gen-
eral, and Leette said,

" Mr. La Scheme, you have my chair. But if Gen-



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COTTON STEALING. 439

eral Solenter will permit me, I will take the unoccu-
pied seat by his side, and we will all be accomodated.
I shall have to depend on jou, Mr. La Scheme, to do
the honors."

" Certainly," said both gentlemen. One making
room for Leette : the other pushing the table betw.een
the couple, and himself drawing up opposite. There
was a moment's pause and the General spoke,

" I have always felt there was some excuse due you
for that affair at Memphis. The truth was, I was
under obligations to Sandison for some favors, and he
also was concerned in our cotton business. But then,
you must acknowledge, the circumstances were very
much against you. However, it has all come out
right. All is well that ends well."

" Yes. Bygones let them remain bygones. You
and I, General, buried those memories long ago, as I
have reason to know ; and Leette, by her escape and
long residence at the North, has wiped out every
stain on her character, has she not?"

" To be sure. The mere fact that she was the wife
of our Adjutant was sufficient. By the way, that waa
a smart dodge of yours. I do not know which to
attribute it to. Miss Leette deserved her escape, and
I am glad she was so successful. I notice you con-
tinue to use the Adjutant's name, though he denies
having ever done anything but permit you to use it.
However, he is now free, for his intended is dead, and
he can now have the opportunity of marrying you in
earnest."

''Dead! Allie dead. I thought so." Leette seem-



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440 OOTTOK STEALING.

ed to the General to be grieved ; on the contrary, she
was glad. Hatred toward a rival, rejoiced in this re-
salt, and now she could think of the Corporal as suf-
fering. His rejection of her love had wounded her
pride more than the injuries of La Scheme. This,
then was complete and one war was at an end. So-
lenter continued :

^^Tes. I am sure of it. The last I heard she was
dying. She had not been expected to live for some
time. That corporal was mixed up in it. You know
that the Adjutant denied the fact of his marriage to
Lectte here, and we did not any of us believe it, ex-
cept, you know, as — a mere — a mere— You under-
stand, a form. But Manet said something which did
the business."

"I am glad of it," said La Scheme. " You now
see, Leette, that I was right. All I ever told you has
transpired."

" I am glad, now I am vindicated. General, you
can no longer doubt me. Oh, if I could only have
shown you at that time, it would not have cost me so
much suffering. Only to think, that those who wish-
ed, who plotted to injure me, should have been instru-
ments to work their own destruction !"

"Let it go," said La Scheme. " The past is buried.
General, take some of this wine. You will find it
equal to any we had at Vicksburg. Those were rough
days in the trenches."

The General filled his glass and emptied it at a
draught, and La Scheme immediately filled it again.
He took and drank again. Already, the General had



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<30TT0N STEALING. 441

been drinking freely at the public tables, and it was
when his manner gave signs of weakness, that Leette
took him to her room for this private reception.

" Yes, I prefer this to being under fire. Those,"
pointing at Leette's eyes, " may be a dangeorou^ bat-
tery. I cannot see it.** He did not see a whole Red
River expedition, a defeat, with a wagon train left on
the field, and hundreds of soldiers slain, and also
thousands wounded and murdered by the exposure
which drained their life, drop by drop, in the hospital.
He only saw in those eyes, in that dress, a display of
passion, which the figures in alabaster typified. He
was sufficiently beyond restraint to put his hand on
her shoulder, where she permitted it to remain. ^^ I
can see,** andhe closed his eyes, "that two-story house
in front of Logan*s division, where we planted our
battery at last ; and remember my first look at those
works, when to show a head was a signal for a hun-
dred rifles to crack, and those rebels were no fools at
shooting either. How slowly we worked on ! The
boys were pure grit, and ran their parallels, cut down
their scarps, and slowly worked up to those works. I
wish Pemberton had only held off one day. Would'nt
we have gone in ? I guess not !**

Now this was not pleasant for either Leette or La
Scheme ; yet neither flinched, in either face, eye, or
shoulder. But La Scheme turned the conversation
thus : " That was a glorious victory, and you did not
make any money out of it. Oh, no ! I saw some
pass, and if what I hear is true, that was nothing. —
How was it, General?*'



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442 COTTON STBALING.

" You are an ignorant fellow, La Scheme ! What
made you leave ? I had another grand offer, which
would have been successful if jou had a hand in it. I
told Charlie you never failed, but he thought he could
work without you ; and so when the boats were up the
Yazoo, and commenced — just as I expected, they were
fired into and the cotton burned. We only lost ten
thousand each. I shall make it up yet. I am going
to see what can be done about Red River. How many
bales are there up there ?**

La Scheme winked at Leette, answering, ^^ I do not
know, — ^more than a million. Leette has been talking
to me about Red River. I will give you permission
to talk to her. It will be safer. That reminds me
that I have some business letters which must be at-
tended to before I retire. So, good night and suc-
cess." Thus saying, he left them together alone.



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CHAPTER XL.

James Manet went with the great expedition, was
one among the thirty thousand good men, who made
the rank and file of Sherman's army, — elbowed his
way on the crowded steamboat — stretched his limbs
on the rough deck — cooked his rations and boiled his
coffee when he could, or gnawed his hard-tack and
ate his meat raw, when he could not— debarked up
the Yazoo, at Steele's bayou, and advanced on the en-
emy's pickets — ^was defeated with the expedition, and
took a sad heart back, until the victory at Arkansas
Post restored the morale of the army. Afterwards,
he built him a roof of cypress shingles in the side of
the mud levee, at Young's Point, and plastered the
cracks with his shelter tent, waiting until Old Per-
severance crossed the big river, and led his troops in
the rear of Vicksburg. Nothing but a private, who
never disobeyed an order, always ate his full rations,
and never looked over his rifle at random : a private,
who made it a principle to empty his cartridge box,
every time he went out, into the trenches ; and that



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444 COTTON BTEAUNO.

he went into the trenches his full numher of times
may be inferred from the number of rounds issued to
his company — ^namely, thirty-three thousand, which
were expended during the siege, — one among two
hundred thousand free men at Vicksburg.

After the national troops had taken possession,
had leveled their approaches, had dismounted all
the rebel works, using them for the outer picket line,
— when they were employed on the inner line of for-
tifications, which our engineers rendered impregnable;
while the main army had moved, or was moving, to
other fields of battle, Mrs. Wirtman wrote to her son:

" Where is Chas. Hardone? Why does he not write
Allie ? She has received but one letter since he lefk
Memphis. Mr. Sandison has had a falling out with
him on some account, of which he explains nothing.
He has abandoned the cotton trade, returned home,
and resumed politics, and is very busy forming lodges
of the Union League for the approaching election,
and hardly stays a day at home, following the track
of that La Scheme and that most detestable woman
— Leette.

" We do not know, and cannot guess, what the
trouble may be. Mr. Wirtman thinks it arises from
the cotton of that widow who lived in the blind field.
I suppose you know it was confiscated and sold, in
spite of all Mr. Wirtman could do.

" We say very little about Charlie, for Allie is
not yet strong. My other letters, if you received
them, (and he had not) have told you how sick she
was after her return. Allie is* not yet well. That



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COTTON STEALING. 445

climate produces awful fevers — almost as awful in
their effects as their experience. I would not live in
it for anything in the world, and wish you could come
home right away. I think one reason for AUie's
slow recovery is her anxiety about Charlie. She
says very little of him, but I think she must have
heard the miserable story which was circulated, and
of which I wish to ask, if you know or can explain it
in any way ? It came from some of Charlie's friends,
amounting to a statement that he had broken the
engagement, because she had been improperly inti-
mate with some of the oflScers. Was this the reason
why Mr. Sandison had trouble with him ? Do you
know the reason ? I wish you would write if you
know.

" James, why don't yon write to AJlie ? She would
be glad to hear from you. And, my son, I must
chide you for not being more hopeful. You do
wrong to think you will die before the close of the
war. I cannot feel so. I know I shall see my dear
boy safe at home again. I believe, too, he will be
yery happy in the love of all his friends."

To this James replied :
** My Bear Mother : —

^^ Is it possible that Charles Hardone has been so
base as to deceive Allie up to this time 7 Has he
been so deficient in moral courage as*not to tell her
he was married to Leette on the night we left Mem-
phis ? He receives Allie's letters, for he tells me the
news from them when I see him, (not very often.) —
What a coward he is ! Then you do not know he



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446 COTTON STEALING.

has resigned his commission. * and is acting indepen-
dently as a cotton speculator ? He is with General
Scienter as before. I think the whole more was
simply to make money, though Charlie pretends the
War Department has failed to recognize his services,
and charges Mr. Sandison with having used his poli-
tical influence to hinder the Governor from forward-
ing his new commission. Charlie says, ' General
Scienter only received his Major General's commis-
sion by accident ; that Sandison was opposed, but
withdrew his opposition, on the condition that I
(Charlie) was to be passed by. And so I am made
the scape-goat for all offences.'

" Only a short time ago, our Division, General Sc-
ienter in command, was ordered to attack a party of
guerillas on the Big Black River. I believed it then
nothing but a cotton raid, and so it proved, to my sat-
isfaction at least. We took along a train of empty
wagons ; they came back loaded with cotton. Charlie
and La Scheme were volunteer aid-de-camps, and I
am told were overseeing the whole business. I was
not there, but at the front skirmishing with the men
who were guarding it. This was C. S. A. cotton,
and the boys were paid for tearing out the marks on
the heads, and sewing in new heads. La Scheme
bought the cotton, and the best of the joke was, that
he had not paid the Treasury Agent, who confiscated
it. Would you believe me, mother, if I told you he
bought it out for fifty thousand dollars? So everyone
Bays.

*^ The talk now through Vicksburg is of cotton, oot-



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COTTON STBALUra, 447

ton, nothing but cotton. Almost every one who has
an opportunity engages in the trade in some way, and
the most astonishing sums are said to be made in the
business. I know this must be true, for my duty
places me often on the outside picket guard, where
every pass mnst be examined, and all articles must be
strictly searched. The orders are very strict, and we
enforce them most strictly. But some days, thousands
of dollars worth of goods pass through the lines, every
otfe of which are properly permitted, and we cannot
possibly find a pretext for seizing and confiscating
them. Why do some favorites obtain permits when
no one else can ?

" Are you interested in these things ? Do you be-
lieve them ? AUie will be ; she can : for she has
seen the cotton trade, and knows what tremendous
temptations it contains. I never dreamed human na-
ture was so depraved. Every one seems to have been
bitten by the golden serpent, to imagine that they
have only to engage and they will succeed, make a
fortune in a month. That has destroyed poor Charlie.
" Here I am reminded to tell you how I know he
is married. I was present. I have the order yet
which Gen. Scienter sent me to discharge his wife
from custody. Leette had behaved badly that night,
and I followed her to see her safe ofiF on the boat. On
the gang plank she beckoned me, and whispered in
my ear, " I shall save your life again, or my name is
not Leette.*' Before the words were hardly out of
her mouth, Charlie ordered me on board a transport
bound for Helena, and afterwards came and wrote an



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448 COTTON STSJLLINa.

order for instant departure, so I had no opportnnitj
to say good-bye to Allie or father.

" I will send home my orders, for you to preserve in
case they should be needed. I would have sent them
before, but never had any confidence in mails which
were forwarded through our Adjutant GeneraFs of-
fice ; but now a regular post-office is established here,
I have no fear of the mails.



Online LibraryJ. E. ChamberlainCotton stealing. A novel → online text (page 26 of 29)