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Rodman the Keeper Southern Sketches   By: (1840-1894)

Rodman the Keeper Southern Sketches by Constance Fenimore Woolson

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RODMAN THE KEEPER

SOUTHERN SKETCHES

CONSTANCE FENIMORE WOOLSON

AUTHOR OF "EAST ANGELS" "ANNE" "FOR THE MAJOR" ETC.

NEW YORK AND LONDON HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS

DEDICATED

TO THE MEMORY OF

MY MOTHER.

PREFACE.

The sketches included in this volume were written during a residence in the South, which has embraced the greater part of the past six years. As far as they go they record real impressions; but they can never give the inward charm of that beautiful land which the writer has learned to love, and from which she now severs herself with true regret. Two of these sketches have appeared in the "Atlantic Monthly," four in "Appletons' Journal," and one each in "Scribner's Monthly," "The Galaxy," "Lippincott's Monthly," and "Harper's Magazine."

C. F. W.

CONTENTS.

PAGE

RODMAN THE KEEPER 9

SISTER ST. LUKE 42

MISS ELISABETHA 75

OLD GARDISTON 105

THE SOUTH DEVIL 139

IN THE COTTON COUNTRY 178

FELIPA 197

"BRO." 221

KING DAVID 254

UP IN THE BLUE RIDGE 276

RODMAN THE KEEPER.

The long years come and go, And the Past, The sorrowful, splendid Past, With its glory and its woe, Seems never to have been. Seems never to have been? O somber days and grand, How ye crowd back once more, Seeing our heroes' graves are green By the Potomac and the Cumberland, And in the valley of the Shenandoah!

When we remember how they died, In dark ravine and on the mountain side, In leaguered fort and fire encircled town, And where the iron ships went down, How their dear lives were spent In the weary hospital tent, In the cockpit's crowded hive, it seems Ignoble to be alive!

THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH.

"Keeper of what? Keeper of the dead. Well, it is easier to keep the dead than the living; and as for the gloom of the thing, the living among whom I have been lately were not a hilarious set."

John Rodman sat in the doorway and looked out over his domain. The little cottage behind him was empty of life save himself alone. In one room the slender appointments provided by Government for the keeper, who being still alive must sleep and eat, made the bareness doubly bare; in the other the desk and the great ledgers, the ink and pens, the register, the loud ticking clock on the wall, and the flag folded on a shelf, were all for the kept, whose names, in hastily written, blotted rolls of manuscript, were waiting to be transcribed in the new red bound ledgers in the keeper's best handwriting day by day, while the clock was to tell him the hour when the flag must rise over the mounds where reposed the bodies of fourteen thousand United States soldiers who had languished where once stood the prison pens, on the opposite slopes, now fair and peaceful in the sunset; who had fallen by the way in long marches to and fro under the burning sun; who had fought and died on the many battle fields that reddened the beautiful State, stretching from the peaks of the marble mountains in the smoky west down to the sea islands of the ocean border. The last rim of the sun's red ball had sunk below the horizon line, and the western sky glowed with deep rose color, which faded away above into pink, into the salmon tint, into shades of that far away heavenly emerald which the brush of the earthly artist can never reproduce, but which is found sometimes in the iridescent heart of the opal. The small town, a mile distant, stood turning its back on the cemetery; but the keeper could see the pleasant, rambling old mansions, each with its rose garden and neglected outlying fields, the empty negro quarters falling into ruin, and everything just as it stood when on that April morning the first gun was fired on Sumter; apparently not a nail added, not a brushful of paint applied, not a fallen brick replaced, or latch or lock repaired... Continue reading book >>




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