Return of a refugee.
The end had arrived. All prayers and tears had availed nothing; all prophecies of success were null; all forebodings fulfilled; all hopes blasted. When, one morning, as the joyous spring came dancing over the hills, and one's very heart seemed bursting with the brightness and beauty, two battle-scarred and thread-bare soldiers came in with the news of Lee's surrender, it fell upon us like a thunderbolt of doom. ‘No, no!’ I cried, ‘you heard falsely. It cannot be!’ ‘I saw him with my own eyes,’ said one, as those very eyes rained strange tears; ‘I heard him with my own ears read the general orders telling us he had to give up.’ His voice grew too husky — to speak, and his comrade took up the fateful tale. He was a harder man, but the furrows in his bronzed visage seemed worn as by ‘rivers of waters.’ With suppressed oaths and many bitter words he rehearsed the scene at Appomattox. ‘We are going back to old South Caliny,’ he ended, ‘where we left four years ago, and a-never seen sence, jest a-fightina faithful, and all for nothina! I hear my house is burnt, and my wife and chil'en turned into the woods. Now I'm going to do some fightina on my own hook. I'll bushwhack Yankees till I die.’ They had their breakfast and went on. I sat down at my window and looked out at the leafing trees and the sward breaking into emerald. A little breeze touched my hot cheek; I heard the far-off whistle of a quail, the nearer piping of some listless boy. Above, the blue heaven was flecked as with the foam of a cirrus-sea; the smell of fresh-turned earth came in its rich suggestiveness from the garden below. The lovely, lovely day—and the Confederacy lying dead! All sights and sounds were lost in that one overwhelming thought. What availed beauty, sweetness, light, life itself! ‘I must go home,’ was my first thought. It was comparatively easy to endure the separation from dear ones when the excitement of suspense or continual action kept the mind at fever-heat. But now my heart fled like a frightened bird to its nest. I longed to see my mother, to hear her tales of woe, to pour my own eventful story into her sympathetic ear. She alone had remained in the home at Columbia when the rest of us were scattered; my father to take a servant