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JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY. [From the biographical edition of the Complete Works of James Whitcomb Riley, copyright 1913. Used by special permission of the publishers, The Bobbs-Merrill Company.]
OU better not fool with a bumble-bee !-
don't think they can sting—you'll see !
HARD WORLD FOR WOMEN.
LITTLE GIRL. Ma, if I get married, do I have to have a husband like pa?
MAMMA. Why yes, child.
LITTLE GIRL. Well, ma, if I don't get married shall I be an old maid like Aunt Kate?
MAMMA. Yes, you will.
LITTLE GIRL. Oh, my! What a hard world this is for us women!
BELLE V. CHISHOLM.
T was a hot, sultry August day in 1862 that a squad of weary,
dusty horsemen halted at a well in front of an old farmhouse, to wet their burning throats and rest awhile. As they crowded around the old oaken bucket, waiting their turns at the sparkling water, Captain Lyle's attention was called to a new-made grave among the rose-bushes just inside the fence; and, stepping up to the old farmer leaning over the rough rails, he asked: "Whose grave is that just dug in your flower-garden, sir?”
"It is that of a stranger, a soldier, left dead on the ground after a skirmish with Stuart's cavalry in the woods over there."
“Union or Confederate ?"
“Confederate. It wasn't much of a fight, nohow, but one poor fellow had to pass in his checks.”
“And you buried him?"
“No, but I was wondering why you dug his grave in your yard among your roses. Maybe your sympathies are with the other side.”
“I reckon not, when I give my only son to fight against it. No, sir! I'm with the blue-coats, but I've got a feller feelin' fur foe as well as friend.”
“That's right. It's war's only redeeming feature. But, why didn't you bury the poor fellow where he fell?” "It was this wày, stranger. It was the girls who wanted the
You see, our boy, our Johnny, was killed at Fre:ericksburg only a few months ago. He fell in the street right in front of a little cottage on the edge of the town, and the two sisters who lived there carried him in that night as their own; they dug
him a grave in their garden and buried him, and sent back his little Bible and the letter found in his pocket in which they got my address. Then they wrote to us and told us all about it. almost broke our hearts to lose our Johnny, but it kinder eased the blow to know that tender hands, even if they were the hands of foes, laid him away in the grave. The girls set great store by that letter, stranger, and they are so thankful to them unknown women that, when they heard about the boy dead in the woods over there, they cried and said he must be buried among
the roses in the yard. So I dug this grave and the girls almost covered him with posies before we let the clods down to rattle on the lid of the coffin I had made for him. And if those Southern women let their tears dampen our Johnny's fair hair, they were paid back when the girls wept over the nameless boy we buried under the roses !"
“Then you were less fortunate than the Southern women in identifying the dead?”
“Yes, there was nothing at all in his pockets except the picture of a young girl, his sweetheart, maybe, and there was no address. Just the name 'Elsie,' and no more. There was a ring on his finger marked 'M. L., Oct. 10, 1861,' and that was all.”
“Not much clew, certainly, still these trifles may some day lead to his identification and to ease somebody's aching heart."
Time passed on; the war closed, and then the years followed one another in quick succession, until a full score of them was added to the past.
Once again the scene is the old farmhouse with its well of sparkling water in front and its flower-strewn grave under the rose-bushes in the yard. A carriage stopped at the gate, and a gentleman assisted two ladies to alight. The three entered the yard and after a brief pause by the side of the flower-heaped grave came up the path to the porch.
"Mr. Hedge," said the man, offering his hand to the old farmer, "I'm Captain Lyle, to whom you once told the story of the grave among the roses."
“Yes, yes, I mind the time well. It was at the fence out there while your men was helpin' themselves to water from the well.”
“You are right, and these ladies I have brought to see you are the Misses Laird, the sisters who dug your Johnny's grave in their garden.”
After salutations were over and quiet restored, Captain Lyle said: “I have known these ladies for several years, but not until a recent visit to their home, where I saw the grave in their garden and heard their story, did I associate them with the pathetic tale you told me nearly twenty years ago. Then I told them how you had passed the kindness on by burying a boy under your rosebushes, and the moment I mentioned the ring and the picture they said you
had buried their brother, and we have come all the long journey to make sure of it.”
When the ring, picture and lock of hair were produced, there could be no longer any doubt on the subject, for the sisters had with them the mate of the picture, now yellow with age—and the "Elsie" inscribed on both had evidently been written by the same hand. It was the picture of the younger sister, who, despite the intervening years, still bore a striking resemblance to the pretty "Elsie" of the long-buried past. The ring had been a present from the older sister-placed on his finger the day he entered the army, and the initials “VI. L.” were those of his name, “Mark Laird,” and had been engraved by the sister's own hand on the date given, “Oct. 10th, 1861," that sad day when he went out from the dear old home to return no more.
“We have just exchanged graves,” said Elsie ; "and, as we have brought fair lilies to lay upon the tomb of the Gray, we shall carry back bright roses with which to deck that of the Blue.”
Then they went out to mingle Elsie's lilies and Judith's roses on the brother's grave and to arrange for the yearly exchange of flowers that hereafter was to link the graves together and to keep green the memory of their beloved dead.
ROMANCE MONOLOGUE FOR WOMAN.
Adapted from the French by Genevieve Stebbins
expressly for this book.
CHARACTER: RENEE, school-girl graduate, speaker present.
Graduation-dress; medal on blue ribbon around neck.
SCENE: Drawing-room. RENEE, with arms full of prize-books
and wreaths, enters looking very happy; speaks off stage to servant who opened door for her. "HANK I can carry them very well myself [putting books
and wreaths on table]. Ah, me, what a heavy thing science is. Here is my harvest. "Fruits and Flowers," the good abbe said, when he distributed the prizes; but I see nothing but leavesbook leaves and oak leaves.
[Placing wreath on head and looking at herself in mirror.] Do you know, my dear, you look very well, and when you go to a ball [mimicking an invitation to dance], may I have the honor of the first waltz, mademoiselle? With pleasure, monsieur [waltsing with chair and singing walts, then speaking, continuing to dance). I think I know how to dance better than anything else; how jolly it is to waltz [stopping suddenly and dropping into chair despairingly]. Oh, how wretched I feel, wretched enough to die.
[Takes off wreath.] Why didn't my godfather come to the convent to see me receive the prizes? He might have thought “my little Renee will be all alone there, no loving father and mother to witness her triumphs, poor, little, forsaken child.” My mother died when I was born, my father two years ago. I have no one to love but my godfather, and he did not come to the con