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[507] Then he laid the luscious fruit cautiously upon the seat and departed. Ten minutes after, the peaches were all lying by the track. It was a foolish act, but I could not help it. To eat one, I felt, would have choked me to death.

No other incident marred the journey, and we reached its close by railway at sundown that evening. All along, however, mute yet powerful witnesses met us of the scourge that had swept over the land. Road-iron twisted like ribbons about the telegraph poles was the first sign of destruction. Below Chester began the ‘desolation of desolation.’ Not a fence or house or living animal where once I had remembered such happy homesteads and pleasant farms embowered in orchards and gardens. A chimney here, a blackened ruin there, the silence as of death, attested the pathway of the destroyer. One wondered where all the former dwellers in these homes had gone. Where were their cows and chickens, and hogs, and cattle? We knew afterwards that every living creature had been sacrificed to the Molock which the invaders worshipped. What could not be used was left to decay and pollute the air upon the very thresholds that had sheltered them.

At my grand-aunt's, Mrs. Barkeley, of Rocky Mount, whose fine old mansion was Sherman's headquarters when his army crossed the Catawba into Lancaster, the great American chieftain gave his pledged word that nothing should be damaged on these premises. Hardly had he ridden out of sight when his well-disciplined (?) soldiers plundered the house, the occupants of which were three old, decrepid, helpless women, one a cripple; and not satisfied with their luck, destroyed the green-house, piled up dead animals within it, and with deliberate energy dragged the decaying bodies of two horses into the front colonnade of the residence. This is the very climax of dastardly invention in the annals of a march which will forever disgrace the nineteenth century. Overwhelmed by these painful scenes, and the privations and distress which followed, Mrs. Barkeley died suddenly two weeks after General Sherman's self-invited visit—as truly murdered as if she had been the victim of his sword. And this is the man that the South is urged to honor, to shake heartily by the hand ‘across the bloody chasm!’ It is, doubtless, our duty as Christians to forgive him, and pray that he may have a ‘saving sense of his sins.’ But let us at least maintain our self-respect. As I once heard a distinguished minister say: ‘We must entertain the love which is benevolence towards our enemies; but we are not called upon to bestow upon them the love which is ’

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