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[157] safely passed. It may seem strange, but such was our unwillingness to believe the worst, and such our confidence in Lee and his army, that in the absence of any official announcement we all went to bed that night feeling little or no concern. I do not know how many others in the city did this, but we did, and, what is more, we slept the sleep of the just until suddenly awakened in the early hours of Monday morning by a tremendous shock, which rocked the house and rattled the windows. At first we thought it was an earthquake, but very soon concluded, from the terrific report, it must be an explosion of some kind. It was not long before we learned it was, in fact, the blowing up of the government powder magazine just beyond the city limits. Then we knew for sure the fears of the day before were not idle fears. With the advancing morning all doubts were dissipated, and as the sun rose it shone with fiery redness through a dense blackness, which at first we took to be heavy clouds, but soon saw was in reality a great volume of smoke passing over the city from south to north. Richmond was on fire. My first impulse, as this became a settled fact, was to go and see for myself what was happening in the lower part of the city. I was deterred, however, from carrying out this impulse at once by certain household duties. I had to go to market, and my experience there must not go unnoticed. Food was the scarcest thin, in Richmond towards the close of the war. Money, such as it was, was the most plentiful. It seemed to grow on trees. At the time of the evacuation, we had an unusual quantity of it, which, in consequence of its bulk, was kept in a box in a closet. Arming myself with the inconsiderable sum of $500, I sallied forth to make such purchases as I might be able to do f)r our day's need. When I arrived at the market-house I found only one butcher's stall open, and noticing here a piece of mutton about as big as my two fiats, I asked the price. It was only after some persuasion that the kindly butcher let me have it for $250, which I paid at once. Then seeing a grocery store open on the next square, I went there, and offered to purchase several things, but could only get three quarts of blackeye peas, for which I paid $25 a quart. This closed my marketing operations for that day, and I went home with my mutton and peas in my basket, and $175 change in my pocket. I h id some feeling, as I did so, that I had been greatly imposed on by these voracious merchants, but events showed me, and I have ever since thought those purchases the cheapest I ever made. Free now to indulge myself, I started off down town. On my way I was joined by several friends of about my age,——,

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C. C. Lee (1)
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