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Friday morning we arose and prepared to resume our journey for Bonfouca, twenty-three miles away. The man walked in very unceremoniously to get corn from the armoir as we got up, throwing open the windows and performing sundry little offices usually reserved forfemmes-de-chambre; but with that exception everything went on very well. Breakfast being a luxury not to be procured, we got into the carriages before sunrise, and left this romantic abode of dogs and contentment. Again our road lay through piney woods, so much like that from Hammond to Ponchatoula that involuntarily I found myself looking through the window to see if Mr. Halsey was there. It lacked only his presence to make the scene all in all the same. But alas! this time the driver picked me wild flowers, and brought us haws. Mr. Halsey, in blissful ignorance of our departure, was many and many a mile away. The drive was not half as amusing. The horse would not suffer any one except Miriam to drive, and at last refused to move until the driver got down and ran along by the carriage. Every time the poor boy attempted to occupy his seat, the obstinate animal would come to a dead stop and refuse to go until he dismounted again. I am sure that he walked nineteen miles out of the twenty-three, out of complaisance to the ungrateful brute. All equally fatigued and warm, we reached this place about twelve o clock. Mrs. Bull had arrived before us; and as the carriage stopped, her girl Delia came to the gate the personification of despair, cry ing, " You can't get out, ladies. They say we can't stop here; we must go right back." The panic which ensued is indescribable. Go back when we were al most at our journey's end, after all the money we had spent, the fatigue we had undergone, to be turned back all the way to Clinton, perhaps! " With my sick babies!" cried Mrs. Ivy. "With my sick child!" cried mother. "Never! You may turn me out of your house, but we will die in the woods first! To go back is to kill my daughter and these babies ! " This was to the overseer who came to the carriage. "Madam, I have orders to allow no one to pass who has not written permission. Lieutenant Worthington sent the order two days ago ; and I am liable to imprisonment if I harbor those who have no pass port," the man explained. "But we have General Gardiner's order," I expostulated. "Then you shall certainly pass; but these ladies cannot. I can't turn you away, though; you shall all come in and stay until something can be determined on."
This much granted was an unlooked-for blessing. He showed us the way to a large unfurnished house, one room of which contained a bed with one naked mattress, which was to be our apartment. Mrs. Bull sat down in a calm, dignified state of despair; little Mrs. Ivy dissolved in tears; we all felt equally disconsolate; the prospect of getting off was not so pleasant when we thought we should be obliged to leave them behind. Our common misfortunes had endeared us to each other, strangers as we were a week ago. So we all lamented together, a perfect Jeremiade of despair. The overseer is very tender hearted; he condoled, comforted, and finally deter mined that if there was any way of getting them off, they should go. A glimpse of sunshine returned to our lowering sky, and cheerfulness reigned once more, to be violently dethroned some hours later. Three of the Madisonville pickets were announced approaching the house. Of course, they were coming after us ! Oh, that vile Mr. Worthington ! We always did hate him! There was such a sneaky look about him. Hypocrite ! we always felt we should hate him ! Oh, the wretch! "I won't go back!" cried mother. "I shall not," said quiet Mrs. Bull. "He shall pay my expenses if he insists on taking me back!" exclaimed Mrs. Ivy. "Spent all my money! Mrs. Bull, you have none to lend me, remember, and Mrs. Morgan shan't ! Oh, that Worthington ! Let's make him pay for all!" We smothered our laughter to sit trembling within as the pickets stepped on the gallery. I believe we commenced praying. Just think! Thus far, our journey has cost mother two hundred and twenty dollars. It would cost the same to get back to blessed Clinton, and fancy our spending that sum to settle there again ! Besides, we gave away all our clothes to our suffering friends ; and what would we do there now?
After half an hour of painful suspense, we discovered that it would have been as well to spare poor Mr. Worthington ; for the pickets were not after us, but had come to escort Mrs. R , a woman who was taking the body of her son, who was killed at Murfreesboro, to the city for interment. Poor woman ! she rode all this distance sitting on her child's coffin. Her husband was one of those who with B - stole that large sum of money from father which came so near ruining him. She speaks of her husband as of a departed saint. I dare say she believes him innocent of the theft in spite of his public confession. The grave has wiped out even the disgrace of the penitentiary where he expiated his offense. . . . When I told Tiche who the woman was, she clasped her hands, saying, "The Lord is good! Years and years master suffered while she grew rich, and now her time comes! The Lord don't forget! " I can't feel that way. It is well for the narrow-minded to look for God's judgment on us for our sins; but mine is a more liberal faith. God afflicted her for some wise purpose; but if I thought it was to avenge father, I should be afraid of her. As it is, I can be sorry, oh, so sorry for her!
As usual I find myself taken care of at the expense of the others. There are but two bars on the place ; one, the overseer said, should be for me, the other for the children. Sheets were scarce, covers scarcer still. Tired of being spoiled in this way, I insisted on being allowed to sleep on a mattress on the floor, after a vigorous skirmish with mother and Miriam, in which I came off victorious. For a bar, I impressed Miriam's grenadine dress, which she fastened to the doorknob and let fall over me a la Victoria tester arrangement. To my share fell a double blanket, which, as Tiche had no cover, I unfolded, and as she used the foot of my bed for a pillow, gave her the other end of it, thus (tell it not in Yankeeland, for it will never be credited) actually sleeping under the same bedclothes with our black, shiny negro nurse! We are grateful, though, even for these discomforts; it might have been so much worse! Indeed, I fear that our fellow travelers do not fare as well. Those who have sheets have no bars ; those who have blankets have no sheets ; and one woman who has recently joined us has nothing except a mattress which is to do the duty of all three. But then, we got bread! Real, pure, wheat bread! And coffee! None of your potato, burnt sugar, and parched corn abomination, but the unadulterated berry! I can't enjoy it fully, though; every mouthful is cloyed with the recollection that Lilly and her children have none.
As usual, as Mrs. Greyson says, the flowers follow us; yesterday I received three bouquets, and Miriam got one too. In this out-of-the-way place such offerings are unexpected ; and these were doubly gratifying coming from people one is not accustomed to receiving them from. For instance, the first was from the overseer, the second from a servant, and the third from a poor boy for whom we have subscribed to pay his passage to the city.
- Sarah Dawson
- A Confederate Girls Diary, Dawson, Sarah Morgan 1842-1909, HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY, The Riverside Press Cambridge, 1913