69. Carte de Visite.“'Twas a terrible fight,” the soldier said;
“Our Colonel was one of the first to fall,
Shot dead on the field by a rifle-ball--
A braver heart than his never bled.”
A group for the painter's art were they:
The soldier with scarred and sunburnt face,
A fair-haired girl, full of youth and grace,
And her aged mother, wrinkled and gray.
These three in porch, where the sunlight came
Through the tangled leaves of the jasmine-vine,
Spilling itself like a golden wine,
And flecking the doorway with rings of flame.
The soldier had stopped to rest by the way,
For the air was sultry with summer-heat;
The road was like ashes under the feet,
And a weary distance before him lay.
”Yes, a terrible fight; our ensign was shot
As the order to charge was given the men,
When one from the ranks seized our colors, and then
He, too, fell dead on the self-same spot.
”A handsome boy was this last: his hair
Clustered in curls round his noble brow;
I can almost fancy I see him now,
With the scarlet stain on his face so fair.“
“What was his name?--have you never heard?--
Where was he from, this youth who fell?
And your regiment, stranger, which was it? tell!”
“Our regiment? It was the Twenty-third.”
The color fled from the young girl's cheek,
Leaving it as white as the face of the dead;
The mother lifted her eyes, and said:
“Pity my daughter — in mercy speak!”
“I never knew aught of this gallant youth,”
The soldier answered; ” not even his name,
Or from what part of our State he came:
As God is above, I speak the truth!
”But when we buried our dead that night,
I took from his breast this picture — see!
It is as like him as like can be:
Hold it this way, toward the light.“
One glance, and a look, half-sad, half-wild,
Passed over her face, which grew more pale,
Then a passionate, hopeless, heart-broken wail,
And the mother bent low o'er the prostrate child.