Nelson Armstrong.

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next step by Mr. Armstrong we do not know.— Janesville

The usual routine was gone through in the courts, and
the proceedings were dismissed. The contest was unequal,
and unjust. It was many against one, and a barbarous act
for a selfish motive. Oh, humanity I humanity ! What deeds
of brutality are committed in thy name !

I did my duty and my best. Attorneys Patterson and
Smith heroically and generously defended me. Bennett
was insolent and abusive. Sales was mild and gentlemanly,
and afterwards personally apologized for the part he had
taken in the case.

Charley was manly through all the trouble ; he had not
forgotten his teachings; he gave pe no unpleasant words,
he paid me all the respect due a parent from a dutiful child.
In the courts he was noble, nobler than any of all, who were
preparing the way for his destruction. He could not be in-
duced to say he had been ill-treated or neglected ; when the
attempt was made to place the words in his mouth, he
promptly replied: "No, sir; Mr. Armstrong was always
very kind to me."

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When all was over he gave an affectionate "good-by,"
but I was heavily burdened and my lips were mute to the
words my heart would speak. The influence that was
brought to bear upon the boy was overwhelming. He went
to California with the Peak family, and the little diamond
to which I had stooped when in its crude form; raised from
the filth, loved, cherished, and diligently watched over, pol-
ished to its brilliant luster, was lost to me forever. I never
saw him again. Dear reader, can you sympathize with me;
or will you say I was a fool for loving and defending my

I betook me to Dakota territory, with the thought to
forget my bereavement in the mines, and the Black Hills, I
did not reach the hills for some years later, nor did I for-
get. I thought, I continued to think, I am thinking now,
and I shall not cease thinking until thought shall be no

Soon after the arrival of the Peak family in California,
while scanning the columns of a journal that had been sent
to me from the city of my pleasures and sorrows, my eyes
fell upon two conspicuous crosses of the pencil under which
were these lines:

"Times in California are said to be terrible. A great
drough also prevails, and no prospect of a crop. Charley
Rowan is there, dead-broke and wants to come home. Has
he any friends to help himf

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1 1 The Peak family, insufficient to cope with talent of the
Pacific coast, engulfed in financial embarrassment, the
members were cast to the many winds, each one compelled
to shift for himself, three thousand miles away, with the
Rocky Mountains between. Spark, (Willie Knight, Char-
ley's mate, a noble little fellow, who ranked second on the
list in my affections to my own charge), was recalled to his
home to take up his school. Charley, uneducated, with no
kind adviser to guide his young mind through the misty
valley of life, was doomed to fight out his future battles
alone. The resort, the vile houses of amusements. The re-
sult, the old story.

But few short years and the message. I regret the mis-
laying of the letter, unabling me to give the original in full.
The momentous, however, is with me. I read it many times.

Dear Friend: Will you forgive me! I was drifted,
and drifted from you, you were the only friend I have ever
had. If you will send me means to go over the road to you,
I will do anything you ask of me. I have grown a good deal
since you saw me. I am a good deal taller. Send me means
to go over the road. Your

Other letters came, each one being a repetition of the
former. Relatives expressed regrets, but all was too late,
the opportunity of his life had passed; gone, never to re-

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I bebold the reproduction of the first scene of the
drama. The orphan in misery; twice an outcast; craving a

I could easily forgive; I looked upon him as not the
offender; I still loved the boy and would gladly have given
him shelter and care. I could not help him now, as I could
have done years before. My army disabilities were bear-
ing heavily upon me ; necessity was compelling me to give
my entire time and attention to the care of my rapidly fail-
ing health.

My meetings with people of the prof ession, who impart
information, were frequent. Still suffering, I secured quar-
ters at the Chicago Homeopathic College during the lecture
course, for the purpose of treatment and to more thor-
oughly fit myself for the care of my bodily ailments, deter-
mined to return by Janesville ; for I longed to see my lopt
boy and to aid him if possible.

It was early spring; the railroads were in bad condi-
tion; our route was circuitous, and we did not reach <^ur
destination until night. Going directly from train to ho^el,
I secured accommodations, took supper, then proceeded to
the barber of my choice when I was a resident of the <|ity.
The son of the old proprietor was now managing the lousi-
ness, who recognized me as I entered the place. He greeted
me kindly, invited me to his chair, and, as I took the seat,
he remarked : "The boy whom you tried to make a njan of

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departed this life five weeks past." Having no more inter-
est in the city I repaired to my home in the West.

My life's journey has continued. The years have come
and gone. My little hero has long slept beneath the green-
sward of the Badger State, and I am an old man with sil-
vered locks, biding my time in the genial climate on the
coast of California. Every incident of the days far back
are indelibly impressed in my memory. While the spirit
shall remain with this clay, and the mind adhere to reason,
I shall gaze ever with regret upon the sad scene of a once
promising, valuable and noble life, struck down and de-
stroyed in its infancy by the hideous sickle of a wicked con-

When I have reached the shining river,

And shall have crossed to the golden shore,
I shall see and know the smiling face

Of my lamented one, passed over long before !
Freed from the burden of sorrows,

Of those unhappy days of yore,
Together, in the realms of heavenly bliss

We shall rejoice, and part no more.

^ Or" TH£ ^

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Online LibraryNelson ArmstrongNuggets of experience: narratives of the sixties and other days, with ... → online text (page 12 of 12)