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    Chapter 1

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    Chapter 1

    "I want something to do."

    This remark being addressed to the world in general, no one
    in particular felt it their duty to reply; so I repeated it
    to the smaller world about me, received the following
    suggestions, and settled the matter by answering my own
    inquiry, as people are apt to do when very much in earnest.

    "Write a book," quoth the author of my being.

    "Don't know enough, sir. First live, then write."

    "Try teaching again," suggested my mother.

    "No thank you, ma'am, ten years of that is enough."

    "Take a husband like my Darby, and fulfill your mission,"
    said sister Joan, home on a visit.

    "Can't afford expensive luxuries, Mrs. Coobiddy."

    "Turn actress, and immortalize your name," said sister
    Vashti, striking an attitude.

    "I won't."

    "Go nurse the soldiers," said my young brother, Tom,
    panting for "the tented field."

    "I will!"

    So far, very good. Here was the will--now for the way. At first
    sight not a foot of it appeared, but that didn't matter, for the
    Periwinkles are a hopeful race; their crest is an anchor, with
    three cock-a-doodles crowing atop. They all wear rose-colored
    spectacles, and are lineal descendants of the inventor of aerial
    architecture. An hour's conversation on the subject set the whole
    family in a blaze of enthusiasm. A model hospital was erected,
    and each member had accepted an honorable post therein. The
    paternal P. was chaplain, the maternal P. was matron, and all the
    youthful P.s filled the pod of futurity with achievements whose
    brilliancy eclipsed the glories of the present and the past.
    Arriving at this satisfactory conclusion, the meeting adjourned,
    and the fact that Miss Tribulation was available as army nurse
    went abroad on the wings of the wind.

    In a few days a townswoman heard of my desire, approved of it,
    and brought about an interview with one of the sisterhood which I
    wished to join, who was at home on a furlough, and able and
    willing to satisfy all inquiries. A morning chat with Miss
    General S.--we hear no end of Mrs. Generals, why not a
    Miss?--produced three results: I felt that I could do the work,
    was offered a place, and accepted it, promising not to desert,
    but stand ready to march on Washington at an hour's notice.

    A few days were necessary for the letter containing my request
    and recommendation to reach headquarters, and another, containing
    my commission, to return; therefore no time was to be lost; and
    heartily thanking my pair of friends, I tore home through the
    December slush as if the rebels were after me, and like many
    another recruit, burst in upon my family with the announcement--

    "I've enlisted!"

    An impressive silence followed. Tom, the irrepressible,
    broke it with a slap on the shoulder and the graceful

    "Old Trib, you're a trump!"

    "Thank you; then I'll take something:" which I did, in the
    shape of dinner, reeling off my news at the rate of three
    dozen words to a mouthful; and as every one else talked
    equally fast, and all together, the scene was most inspiring.

    As boys going to sea immediately become nautical in speech, walk
    as if they already had their "sea legs" on, and shiver their
    timbers on all possible occasions, so I turned military at once,
    called my dinner my rations, saluted all new comers, and ordered
    a dress parade that very afternoon. Having reviewed every rag I
    possessed, I detailed some for picket duty while airing over the
    fence; some to the sanitary influences of the wash-tub; others to
    mount guard in the trunk; while the weak and wounded went to the
    Work- basket Hospital, to be made ready for active service again.
    To this squad I devoted myself for a week; but all was done, and
    I had time to get powerfully impatient before the letter came. It
    did arrive however, and brought a disappointment along with its
    good will and friendliness, for it told me that the place in the
    Armory Hospital that I supposed I was to take, was already
    filled, and a much less desirable one at Hurly-burly House was
    offered instead.

    "That's just your luck, Trib. I'll tote your trunk up garret for
    you again; for of course you won't go," Tom remarked, with the
    disdainful pity which small boys affect when they get into their
    teens. I was wavering in my secret soul, but that settled the
    matter, and I crushed him on the spot with martial brevity--

    "It is now one; I shall march at six."

    I have a confused recollection of spending the afternoon in
    pervading the house like an executive whirlwind, with my family
    swarming after me, all working, talking, prophesying and
    lamenting, while I packed my "go-abroady" possessions, tumbled
    the rest into two big boxes, danced on the lids till they shut,
    and gave them in charge, with the direction,--

    "If I never come back, make a bonfire of them."

    Then I choked down a cup of tea, generously salted instead
    of sugared, by some agitated relative, shouldered my knapsack--
    it was only a traveling bag, but do let me preserve the
    unities--hugged my family three times all round without a
    vestige of unmanly emotion, till a certain dear old lady
    broke down upon my neck, with a despairing sort of wail--

    "Oh, my dear, my dear, how can I let you go?"

    "I'll stay if you say so, mother."

    "But I don't; go, and the Lord will take care of you."

    Much of the Roman matron's courage had gone into the Yankee
    matron's composition, and, in spite of her tears, she would
    have sent ten sons to the war, had she possessed them, as
    freely as she sent one daughter, smiling and flapping on the
    door-step till I vanished, though the eyes that followed me
    were very dim, and the handkerchief she waved was very wet.

    My transit from The Gables to the village depot was a funny
    mixture of good wishes and good byes, mud-puddles and shopping.
    A December twilight is not the most cheering time to enter upon
    a somewhat perilous enterprise, and, but for the presence of
    Vashti and neighbor Thorn, I fear that I might have added a drop
    of the briny to the native moisture of--

    "The town I left behind me;"

    though I'd no thought of giving out: oh, bless you, no!
    When the engine screeched "Here we are," I clutched my escort
    in a fervent embrace, and skipped into the car with as blithe a
    farewell as if going on a bridal tour--though I believe brides
    don't usually wear cavernous black bonnets and fuzzy brown
    coats, with a hair-brush, a pair of rubbers, two books, and a
    bag of ginger-bread distorting the pockets of the same. If I
    thought that any one would believe it, I'd boldly state that I
    slept from C. to B., which would simplify matters immensely; but
    as I know they wouldn't, I'll confess that the head under
    the funereal coal-hod fermented with all manner of high
    thoughts and heroic purposes "to do or die,"--perhaps both; and
    the heart under the fuzzy brown coat felt very tender with the
    memory of the dear old lady, probably sobbing over her
    army socks and the loss of her topsy-turvy Trib. At this
    juncture I took the veil, and what I did behind it is nobody's
    business; but I maintain that the soldier who cries when his
    mother says "Good bye," is the boy to fight best, and
    die bravest, when the time comes, or go back to her better
    than he went.

    Till nine o'clock I trotted about the city streets, doing
    those last errands which no woman would even go to heaven
    without attempting, if she could. Then I went to my usual
    refuge, and, fully intending to keep awake, as a sort of vigil
    appropriate to the occasion, fell fast asleep and dreamed
    propitious dreams till my rosy-faced cousin waked me with a

    A bright day smiled upon my enterprise, and at ten I reported
    myself to my General, received last instructions and no end of
    the sympathetic encouragement which women give, in look, touch,
    and tone more effectually than in words. The next step was to get
    a free pass to Washington, for I'd no desire to waste my
    substance on railroad companies when "the boys" needed even a
    spinster's mite. A friend of mine had procured such a pass, and I
    was bent on doing likewise, though I had to face the president of
    the railroad to accomplish it. I'm a bashful individual, though I
    can't get any one to believe it; so it cost me a great effort to
    poke about the Worcester depot till the right door appeared, then
    walk into a room containing several gentlemen, and blunder out my
    request in a high state of stammer and blush. Nothing could have
    been more courteous than this dreaded President, but it was
    evident that I had made as absurd a demand as if I had asked for
    the nose off his respectable face. He referred me to the Governor
    at the State House, and I backed out, leaving him no doubt to
    regret that such mild maniacs were left at large. Here was a
    Scylla and Charybdis business: as if a President wasn't trying
    enough, without the Governor of Massachusetts and the hub of the
    hub piled on top of that. "I never can do it," thought I. "Tom
    will hoot at you if you don't," whispered the inconvenient little
    voice that is always goading people to the performance of
    disagreeable duties, and always appeals to the most effective
    agent to produce the proper result. The idea of allowing any boy
    that ever wore a felt basin and a shoddy jacket with a
    microscopic tail, to crow over me, was preposterous, so giving
    myself a mental slap for such faint-heartedness, I streamed away
    across the Common, wondering if I ought to say "your Honor," or
    simply "Sir," and decided upon the latter, fortifying myself with
    recollections of an evening in a charming green library, where I
    beheld the Governor placidly consuming oysters, and laughing as
    if Massachusetts was a myth, and he had no heavier burden on his
    shoulders than his host's handsome hands.

    Like an energetic fly in a very large cobweb, I struggled
    through the State House, getting into all the wrong rooms and
    none of the right, till I turned desperate, and went into one,
    resolving not to come out till I'd made somebody hear and
    answer me. I suspect that of all the wrong places I had
    blundered into, this was the most so. But I didn't care;
    and, though the apartment was full of soldiers, surgeons,
    starers, and spittoons, I cornered a perfectly incapable person,
    and proceeded to pump for information with the following result:

    "Was the Governor anywhere about?"

    No, he wasn't.

    "Could he tell me where to look?"

    No, he couldn't.

    "Did he know anything about free passes?"

    No, he didn't.

    "Was there any one there of whom I could inquire?"

    Not a person.

    "Did he know of any place where information could be

    Not a place.

    "Could he throw the smallest gleam of light upon the
    matter, in any way?"

    Not a ray.

    I am naturally irascible, and if I could have shaken this
    negative gentleman vigorously, the relief would have been
    immense. The prejudices of society forbidding this mode of
    redress, I merely glowered at him; and, before my wrath
    found vent in words, my General appeared, having seen me
    from an opposite window, and come to know what I was about. At
    her command the languid gentleman woke up, and troubled himself
    to remember that Major or Sergeant or something Mc K. knew all
    about the tickets, and his office was in Milk Street. I perked
    up instanter, and then, as if the exertion was too much for
    him, what did this animated wet blanket do but add--

    "I think Mc K. may have left Milk Street, now, and I don't
    know where he has gone."

    "Never mind; the new comers will know where he has moved
    to, my dear, so don't be discouraged; and if you don't succeed,
    come to me, and we will see what to do next," said my General.

    I blessed her in a fervent manner and a cool hall, fluttered
    round the corner, and bore down upon Milk Street, bent on
    discovering Mc K. if such a being was to be found. He wasn't,
    and the ignorance of the neighborhood was really pitiable.
    Nobody knew anything, and after tumbling over bundles of
    leather, bumping against big boxes, being nearly annihilated by
    descending bales, and sworn at by aggravated truckmen, I finally
    elicited the advice to look for Mc K. in Haymarket Square. Who
    my informant was I've really forgotten; for, having hailed
    several busy gentlemen, some one of them fabricated this
    delusive quietus for the perturbed spirit, who instantly
    departed to the sequestered locality he named. If I had been in
    search of the Koh-i-noor diamond I should have been as
    likely to find it there as any vestige of Mc K. I stared at
    signs, inquired in shops, invaded an eating house, visited the
    recruiting tent in the middle of the Square, made myself a
    nuisance generally, and accumulated mud enough to retard
    another Nile. All in vain: and I mournfully turned my face
    toward the General's, feeling that I should be forced to enrich
    the railroad company after all; when, suddenly, I beheld that
    admirable young man, brother-in-law Darby Coobiddy, Esq.
    I arrested him with a burst of news, and wants, and woes,
    which caused his manly countenance to lose its usual repose.

    "Oh, my dear boy, I'm going to Washington at five, and I
    can't find the free ticket man, and there won't be time to see
    Joan, and I'm so tired and cross I don't know what to do; and
    will you help me, like a cherub as you are?"

    "Oh, yes, of course. I know a fellow who will set us
    right," responded Darby, mildly excited, and darting into some
    kind of an office, held counsel with an invisible angel, who
    sent him out radiant. "All serene. I've got him. I'll see
    you through the business, and then get Joan from the Dove
    Cote in time to see you off."

    I'm a woman's rights woman, and if any man had offered help
    in the morning, I should have condescendingly refused it, sure
    that I could do everything as well, if not better, myself. My
    strong-mindedness had rather abated since then, and I was now
    quite ready to be a "timid trembler," if necessary.

    Dear me! how easily Darby did it all: he just asked one
    question, received an answer, tucked me under his arm, and in
    ten minutes I stood in the presence of Mc K., the Desired.

    "Now my troubles are over," thought I, and as usual was
    direfully mistaken.

    "You will have to get a pass from Dr. H., in Temple Place,
    before I can give you a pass, madam," answered Mc K., as blandly
    as if he wasn't carrying desolation to my soul. Oh, indeed! why
    didn't he send me to Dorchester Heights, India Wharf, or Bunker
    Hill Monument, and done with it? Here I was, after a morning's
    tramp, down in some place about Dock Square, and was told
    to step to Temple Place. Nor was that all; he might as well have
    asked me to catch a hummingbird, toast a salamander, or call on
    the man in the moon, as find a Doctor at home at the busiest
    hour of the day. It was a blow; but weariness had extinguished
    enthusiasm, and resignation clothed me as a garment. I sent
    Darby for Joan, and doggedly paddled off, feeling that mud was
    my native element, and quite sure that the evening papers would
    announce the appearance of the Wandering Jew, in feminine

    "Is Dr. H. in?"

    "No, mum, he aint."

    Of course he wasn't; I knew that before I asked: and,
    considering it all in the light of a hollow mockery, added:

    "When will he probably return?"

    If the damsel had said, "ten to-night," I should have felt
    a grim satisfaction, in the fulfillment of my own dark prophecy;
    but she said, "At two, mum;" and I felt it a personal insult.

    "I'll call, then. Tell him my business is important:" with
    which mysteriously delivered message I departed, hoping that I
    left her consumed with curiosity; for mud rendered me an object
    of interest.

    By way of resting myself, I crossed the Common, for the
    third time, bespoke the carriage, got some lunch, packed my
    purchases, smoothed my plumage, and was back again, as the clock
    struck two. The Doctor hadn't come yet; and I was morally
    certain that he would not, till, having waited till the
    last minute, I was driven to buy a ticket, and, five minutes
    after the irrevocable deed was done, he would be at my service,
    with all manner of helpful documents and directions.
    Everything goes by contraries with me; so, having made up
    my mind to be disappointed, of course I wasn't; for, presently,
    in walked Dr. H., and no sooner had he heard my errand, and
    glanced at my credentials, than he said, with the most engaging

    "I will give you the order, with pleasure, madam."

    Words cannot express how soothing and delightful it was to
    find, at last, somebody who could do what I wanted, without
    sending me from Dan to Beersheba, for a dozen other to do
    something else first. Peace descended, like oil, upon the
    ruffled waters of my being, as I sat listening to the busy
    scratch of his pen; and, when he turned about, giving me
    not only the order, but a paper of directions wherewith to
    smooth away all difficulties between Boston and Washington, I
    felt as did poor Christian when the Evangelist gave him the
    scroll, on the safe side of the Slough of Despond. I've no
    doubt many dismal nurses have inflicted themselves upon the
    worthy gentleman since then; but I am sure none have been more
    kindly helped, or are more grateful, than T. P.; for
    that short interview added another to the many pleasant
    associations that already surround his name.

    Feeling myself no longer a "Martha Struggles," but a
    comfortable young woman, with plain sailing before her, and the
    worst of the voyage well over, I once more presented myself to
    the valuable Mc K. The order was read, and certain
    printed papers, necessary to be filled out, were given a
    young gentleman--no, I prefer to say Boy, with a scornful
    emphasis upon the word, as the only means of revenge now left
    me. This Boy, instead of doing his duty with the diligence so
    charming in the young, loitered and lounged, in a manner
    which proved his education to have been sadly neglected in the--

    "How doth the little busy bee,"

    direction. He stared at me, gaped out of the window, ate
    peanuts, and gossiped with his neighbors--Boys, like himself, and
    all penned in a row, like colts at a Cattle Show. I don't
    imagine he knew the anguish he was inflicting; for it was
    nearly three, the train left at five, and I had my ticket
    to get, my dinner to eat, my blessed sister to see, and the
    depot to reach, if I didn't die of apoplexy. Meanwhile, Patience
    certainly had her perfect work that day, and I hope she
    enjoyed the job more than I did.

    Having waited some twenty minutes, it pleased this reprehensible
    Boy to make various marks and blots on my documents, toss them
    to a venerable creature of sixteen, who delivered them to
    me with such paternal directions, that it only needed a pat
    on the head and an encouraging--"Now run home to your Ma, little
    girl, and mind the crossings, my dear," to make the illusion
    quite perfect.

    Why I was sent to a steamboat office for car tickets, is
    not for me to say, though I went as meekly as I should have gone
    to the Probate Court, if sent. A fat, easy gentleman gave me
    several bits of paper, with coupons attached, with a warning not
    to separate them, which instantly inspired me with a yearning to
    pluck them apart, and see what came of it. But, remembering
    through what fear and tribulation I had obtained them, I curbed
    Satan's promptings, and, clutching my prize, as if it were my
    pass to the Elysian Fields, I hurried home. Dinner was rapidly
    consumed; Joan enlightened, comforted, and kissed; the dearest
    of apple-faced cousins hugged; the kindest of apple-faced
    cousins' fathers subjected to the same process; and I mounted
    the ambulance, baggage-wagon, or anything you please but hack,
    and drove away, too tired to feel excited, sorry, or glad.
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    Chapter 1
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