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[304]

The death of John, the West Virginia blacksmith.

Miss L. M. Alcott, the accomplished daughter of A. B. Alcott, the Concord philosopher, and the bosom friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was for a time a nurse in one of the hospitals for the wounded in the vicinity of Washington, D. C. She subsequently published a little volume, entitled “Hospital sketches,” in which the life, heroism, and death of some of our brave fellows, wounded in the struggle for the nation's life, are portrayed with a graphic power which has never been surpassed. Among these descriptions of life and death in the hospital, none surpasses, in beauty and pathos, the story of John, the West Virginia Blacksmith. Miss Alcott is in one of the wards of the hospital, ministering to the sick, when a messenger from another ward comes in with the expected yet dreaded message:

John is going, ma'am, and wants to see you if you can come.

“ The moment this boy is asleep; tell him so, and let me know if I am in danger of being too late.”

The messenger departed, and while I quieted poor Shaw, I thought of John. He came in a day or two after the others; and one evening, when I entered my “pathetic room,” I found a lately emptied bed occupied by a large, fair man, with a fine face, and the serenest eyes I ever met. One of the earlier comers had often spoken of a friend who had remained behind that those apparently worse wounded than himself might reach a

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