« IndietroContinua »
“I am perfectly willing that you “ Then you will believe just what I should, madam."
tell you ?” “ But how can I go, with my petition “ That's a different thing. You are refused ?"
very honest, no doubt, yet you may be “I cannot grant it," frowned the mistaken. I do not believe any mesPresident.
sages come from another world, only as “I supposed you were a kind-hearted our own souls tell us.
If there is any man,” persisted the timid woman. thing for me to know, my soul will find
“ I'll not listen to you !” he said, it out. Perhaps I will not listen to my loudly, calling forward some others. soul; then I must suffer for it. Perhaps
“ You are just about as much of a you will not listen to your soul; then gentleman as I expected to find you,” you will suffer." added the woman, as she flouted out of the room.
A Catholic priest entered, with two
He looked at the writer with There was some confusion among the a face which plainly said he would next set of petitioners; for one singu- rather she would not be there. She lar-looking individual found much trou- moved from the desk toward the door. ble in getting a seat to his liking, and, The President waved his hand, saying, being rather tall and rather awkward, “Come back; I do not wish you to and very stiff, had much difficulty in go." assuming a position.
The priest, turning to the President, “How are you, my good fellow ? ”
said : asked the President, shaking the stran- “ I should like a private interview." ger's hand warmly, adding, with a “I do nothing privately," was the hearty laugh, “It's just the weather for calm answer; "all I do is public;" and rheumatism."
he gave the signal for more petitioners, “Ah, sir,” answered the stranger, upon whom the priest looked with unwith a mysterious air, his zigzag mouth concealed anger, and to the President zigzagging at a rapid rate, “Oh, sir," he said, pompously: repeated, in almost a whisper, and with " Then we are to have no hearing ?” his finger lifted, probably to inspire “ Certainly, you shall be heard. I awe, “I have come on a serious errand will listen to you now.” an errand which involves the whole “That will not do. I wish to see nation.” And then, rolling his dull eyes, he continued, in the same myste- “I can only tell you, as I did before, rious manner: “I want you to listen to that I do nothing privately," answered me, and do exactly as I say; for I have the President, coldly. had a vision-"
The priest angrily rose and left the “Of angels ?” interrupted the Presi- room, followed by the two women. dent.
The President went on with his work, “Well, I can't say as to them being unruffled. He was quite used to all exactly angels; but they be disembodied sorts of addresses, manners, and degrees spirits—Washington, and some of the of respect. Presidents. Washington sent a mes- The last of these petitioners was a sage to you."
young girl of singular beauty. " Ah?”
“I cannot let you go down there,” “ Yes, he did. But first, before I tell said the President, dwelling sadly upon you, I must sound you, to see how deep his words. “ Horo can I ?" he asked, your faith is. If you have no faith in looking up at the sweet face, so earnest Washington, why, I can't give you and truthful, and the deep, spiritual any."
eyes trembling with heavy tears. “I “I have faith in him, of course,” said cannot let you go, and I cannot refuse the President.
you. What shall I do?"
have to say.
“Let me go there,” she pleaded. “I am any thing without God; and if it is not afraid. God will take care of me." His will that I must die by the hand
“I don't know-I don't know," he of an assassin, I must be resigned. I said. “ Your faith is beautiful - but I must do my duty as I see it, and leave don't know," he added, in a low, sad the rest with God. I go to amusements tone. Then, looking up sorrowfully, very much against my inclinations. I he continued, “ There is not a woman go simply because I must have change. down there."
I laugh because I must not weep; that's "I know it," she answered, thought- all-that's all." * fully.
“ Are you not afraid-not the least “ You take up too much time," said afraid ?"
a woman, pushing, and stepping in “No, sir; I am not afraid. I have front of another. “I will talk to the trusted our heavenly Father many times President now, and then you can finish before, and He has never forsaken me." what
“Mr. President, “And He never will !” exclaimed your Honor, my husband lost a limb in the President, springing to his feet. this last battle, and I want the War “No, my child, He never will.” And, Department to settle a pension upon drawing a chair close to the fire, he him without delay. I believe in ‘first went on: “Come, sit here, until you come, first served ;' and I want my son are quite warm. I will write you a to have a position in Washington, if it pass. You shall go to your father.” is no higher than clerk in the Treasury
Then, as though he felt pained at Building. Only two petitions I ask of seeming inquisitiveness, he stopped sud- you. I am in a hurry, for every day I denly, when just upon the verge of ask- spend in Washington costs me five doling something ; but the interest he felt lars. I have been here eight days, and, in the petitioner prevailed, and he because of the insolence of your ushers, asked if she were fully prepared for I could not get up to speak to you beher journey.
fore. Couldn't you teach them how to “ Yes, sir; I have plenty of money. treat a lady? It's a great disgrace to If money could make the heart glad, I an establishinent to have saucy serhave enough ; but I have no mother, vants." Then, in a higher key, she and my father is perhaps dying. I can- went on : “Only a pension for my husnot stay to get warm–I can never get band, and a position for my son. He warm. Good-by, President-kind, good is just like me, he will repay you for President Lincoln ! I shall never see all you can do for him. I have brought you again in this world; so shake him up never to be under obligations hands with both of mine."
to any person." A moment more, and she had gone. She paused to take a good long
The President leaned forward, touch- breath, and the President interrupted ed the bell, and the room was again her with : filled.
“I can do nothing for you, madam."
“Not give my husband a pension ?” The conversation turned to Mrs. Lin. No; the War Department will atcoln's fear that some of the Southern tend to that." women might have hidden weapons to “Not give my son a position ?” take his life, and it was her earnest re- “No, madam.” quest that women should not be admit- Her countenance was expressive of ted, except in company of gentlemen her anger ; but the President bowed known to the Executive Departments. her and hier indignation from the room.
The President answered, with much Once she turned in her exit, saying, “I animation, that he did not feel afraid, am proud and sensitive, or I would give and then he added, solemnly, "I do not you a piece of my mind." consider that I have ever accomplished A singular specimen of humanity
next came forward, entering the room The clairvoyant came in a second alone,
time on tip-toe, and her voice was soft " Mr. President, your Horor, will you as a peacock's. Her light-blue eye was give me a position in one of your hos- fixed on vacancy, as she approached the pitals, as nurse? I am a doctor— President, saying: clairvoyant."
“ Kind sir, I believe that you will " Indeed!"
change your mind about interesting “ Yes; I am ahead of many others, yourself in getting me a position, when and just now, with these natural eyes I tell you that I have bad a vision. I of mine "_lifting her hand toward have seen and talked with those who two parti-colored, stony-looking orbs- occupied this mansion before they took “ with these eyes I can see right into their departure from this gross world your heart and liver and lungs; and to that region of perfect lovelinesswhat do you think I might see with my that region to which I lift my eyes-to spirit-eyes ?
which my soul goes every night only to “I don't know, I am sure.”
return each day to my mission here“No, sir; of course you don't know. my mission, to heal the sick. A few It isn't given to you to know. Your manipulations with these hands ”-dislungs and heart are all right, but your playing monstrous specimens—“ a few liver is in a sad condition. I can give manipulations will cure disease. I can you a prescription that will make you cast out evil spirits. I can lift up the a well man, and make you live to a weak and drooping. And, in my visgood old age. I want to get into a ion, the great doctor who has control hospital, for it is an extensive field for of my gifts told me to come to you my talents, which will expand as I again. I do not expect the world to exercise them. I have been sick for praise me, for I am not of the world. years and years; I can sympathize with I find my comfort with those beings sick ones. I raised myself up from a with whom I commune.” Here her llue bed of suffering to perform my mission. eye, more susceptible than the gray one, Have you a place for me, do you think?” shed a solitary tear.
"Well, no; I think not,” answered The President said: “Well, don't the President. “ You know rather too tell me any thing more. I am only a much for a hospital.”
poor, weak mortal. I can't staud it-I * Mr. President, your Honor, I have can't, indeed.” come from the State of New York," “Oh, I don't propose to rub you," said a man with wonderful physical she answered, solemnly., “I want a development. "Mr. President, your position in one of the hospitals." Honor," he continued, with a flourish “Well, I tell you confidentially," he of his cane, “I have brought a com- replied, dropping his voice, and moving plaint against Governor S He his head sideways with his oddest of takes no interest in these exciting times. odd smiles, “I tell you, good woman, He takes no notice of petitions present- those fellows at the hospitals are a ed to him. He makes no effort to bring rough set; it would take forty such things to a focus."
kind and considerate persons as you are "A focus !” exclaimed the Presi- to rub faith into one of them; and, of dent. “I am glad he is so sensible; course, if they had no faith, you could for it would take forty lifetimes to do do them no good." that. Allow me to say, sir, that I do “ That's true, sir; it all depends not wish any complaints against your upon their faith. Without it, I could Governor. Go home, sir-go home, not help them." and do not molest me." And the Presi- “Then do not waste your time in an dent went on with the other petition- unsuccessful attempt.” ers, who were scarcely dismissed before
“I am sensitive,” she continued, sorthe room was again filled.
rowfully. “I am very sensitive; per
haps I could not survive the hospitals. were the same heard thousands of times I believe I will go home.” And the before. To each one the petition was blue eye and the gray eye looked at the new and all-absorbing; to the PresiPresident kindly, as she extended her dent, only the echoes of the vast army prodigious hand.
already gone. A clergyman pleaded for permission Often persons pushed themselves into to cross the lines-to go down among the Executive Chamber solely to irritate the prison-pens.
the President. Many of these were “ You shall go," answered the Presi- women who sympathized with the Redent, extending his hand to him. “ It bellion, and their elegant courtesy (?) is a perilous work,” he added, looking of manner was really amazing. Such up at the calm, intellectual face, and an ore had kept her chair during the feeling the influence of those sympa- going and coming of five or six relays
“I can't exchange these of visitors, watching cach as they prepour prisoners half fast enough. I have sented their claims, following them with great faith in those laboring for them; her eyes to the door, and then staring but wbat can a few do? Lee can help at the others. The President, annoyed them.-May you send this letter to him at her presence, said, rather sternly, Of course, you may, Miss W- “ Have you a petition to present ? " What have you written ?-Very well- She lifted her eyes in a peculiar manjust to the point! If Lee can't get ner, with an arrogant expression, but food for the prisoners, he can let them she only said, “Yes, sir."
The President said, “It is time you “He says he has wept tears of blood told me what you have to say; you over this terrible Rebellion; but he have been here a good while.” could not fight against the State in “Yes, sir," she replied, brightly; which he was born."
and, confident that he bad not gained “ That's all bosh 1-fight against his this time, folded her hands with an air State! If a man is born in a bad State, of perfect satisfaction. the best thing for him to do is to get “ Will you give me your errand, or out of it as quickly as possible." shall I go on with the others ? "
A young girl who had much trouble “Yes, sir,” and coolly stroked her to get an audience, at last succeeded. muff.
She begged to go to her brother, who The President jerked himself in his was reported very sick. She told the chair, and went on with the rest. These President that Senator said he had all gone, and still she sat there. could not introduce her, but he would “Shall I talk to you nou, or do you get somebody else, for there was a feud intend to stay all day?” he exclaimed, between the President and himself. in a voice which would frighten any
“A feud!” laughed the President. ordinary person. “ Well, we are a little out on politics, “ Yes, sir." And the brazen woman and-that little 'outness' has detained actually smiled at him. He snapped you. Perhaps it is for the best-who the bell, and the room was filled. Her knows?"
presence was almost insupportable. It The room was quite full. A soldier, was almost night. Silent contempt, cr wan and lame, pleaded for eight weeks' expression of anger, were alike unavailfurlough to go home and get strong. ing. For more than an hour the PresiThe young girl uttered a cry of sur- dent had ignored her presence, but at prise.
last said: “My brother |—my dear brother ! ” “Will you, madam, prepare to give
The President gave him a furlough me your errand, or leave me alone?” of three months.
"Yes, sir," was the unblushing anThe petitioners came and went until far into the night.' Their pleadings The President groaned, shook his.
head from side to side, stamped his beyond her years." (And a good deal feet, and, bringing his hand down more of the same sort.) heavily upon the table, cried, “I will A young man desired a clerkship. call some person who will escort you He was sure he would be made for the from the building."
world if he had a position in WashingHe moved toward the door.
ton. "Yes, sir," said the amiable lady; "You are mistaken, young man,” the and, agile as a cat, she sprang in front President answered; "you are misof him, and passed out of the room. taken. What you ask for would ruin
“ President Lincoln, I have a very you. No, no; go home, and do any gifted daughter,” said a silly-looking thing there that comes to you, rather
“She is an authoress, and has than be deluded by such false ideas, been ever since she was seven years Washington is no place for a young old."
man to come to from a good home." “Ah, indeed ! "
“I am very steady,” answered the “ Yes, sir; and the publishers have a young man, modestly. game of keeping her writings until we " That may be; but this is no place forget all about them, and then publish for you. Temptations abound here. them without giving her any remunera
Believe me to be your friend, young tion; and she always marks the price Take my advice, and go home." upon the first page. I have a piece Seeming much disappointed, he with me now-it is a story—a story in gracefully bowed to the President as one hundred and twelve chapters. Will he moved backward from the room, you read it, and give me your opinion? The President, pleased with his manPlease write me à note," she added, ner, said, as the petitioner's hand quickly. Giving the President not an touched the door: instant to reply, she went on: “If you “ You will thank me, three years write me a note, it will have weight from now; yet, I know I seem unkind with the publishers, and"
to you-very unkind." “ If the manuscript," interrupted the “It does seem splendid to bave a poPresident, “has merit, there is no need sition in Washington," was the earnest of any note. If it has no merit, all the answer. notes in the world would do it no “Three years added to your present good."
good sense will reveal to you the quick“Oh, it has merit !” replied the sands from which you will be saved, by woman, assuming an indignant air, “it going nou directly to your home. Will has merit! My daughter is a genius; you go ?” but I thought it would be better to “ Yes, sir.” have a note from you. Every body has The President was speaking of sudrecommendations nowadays. Just read den death. a little,” she added, coaxingly. “It is “I believe you are ready to die at very fascinating," she went on earnest- any time,” said a friend to him. ly. “Won't you read it ?”
“No, I am not ready," answered the I can't ; I don't like novels." President, mournfully; each day, as I “Novels ! sir, it is not a novel ; it is look over its events and incidents, as I a story. I would not allow my daugh- think of those I have made happy, of ter to write a novel. I am a Christian. those I have made miserable, I see that This is a little girlish, thrilling story. I might have been truer to my neighIt displays a knowledge of history far bor, truer to my God.”