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“ Andrew ?”
“Why-Nelly! Don't you know I told you I should hang for you some day? Go stop dat Boot: he's at te theatre, and old Abe Lincoln's there, and tere'll pe murder!”
The woman checked a short scream, and ran through the next cross-street to the avenue, and up to Ford's Theatre, where she had the entrée.
“I can give you, Miss Starr, a seat, if you can get it emptied, right opposite the President's box," said the ticket-seller.
She hastened through the lobby and past the parquet, and up the dress-circle stairs, and gave an usher whom she knew her ticket, whispering:
“Has John Booth been here to-night?"
“I saw him over yonder just now, near the State box.—Please give this lady her seat, sir!”
As the usher spoke, a report came from somewhere, startling and loud. Nelly glanced at the President's box.
There sat the President, with his head dropped, as if glancing away from the piece into the parquet, sleepily, while his wife had turned her head toward the young lady at her side, each looking at the other, and the officer behind the ladies had risen.
Smoke next curled curiously, slowly, at last strong out of the box, and in the smoke it seemed that the officer and some other one there were fighting. A voice came out of the short mêlée like a command given on a ship, with the word “revenge" in it, and a flash of steel or glass followed; and then, while the play seemed to halt, and part of the audience to be observing the box, a bareheaded man in black, with pallid face and large eyes, came right to the box-railing, parted the flags, set his left hand on the rail, passed his right hand up with a knife flashing below the palm, and vaulted lightly over to the stage, fourteen feet below. There came trailing down with him a strip of the starry corner of a flag caught upon his foot. He fell to one knee, faltered, slowly rose and turned his face toward the people, and uttered, in a sepulchral, enforced tone, “ Sic semper tyrannis!" and raised the knife again. Then stooping, like one with his belly yearning for the ground, he made awkwardly the skipping strides of actors who run off in combat-scenes, and disappeared beneath Nelly's eyes toward the prompter's hidden desk.
Everything had been done—from the firing of the pistol to the disappearance-in hardly one minute.
There passed over the audience electric waves of wonder, inquiry, movement, and sound. As they wavered to understand it all, the piece also stopped upon the stage, and people there came running from behind the painted scenes; the orchestra rose, and a wild scream came down from the upper box, through the festooned flags, and the portrait of Washington. The President sat as before, quiet, as if the pleasant farce were going on, and smiles had brought him near to sleep, like babies' dreams.
Now, all the audience was up, and people were pushing at the little door behind the President, and against the dress-circle wall. They could not for a moment get in there, and began to scale the posts and gilded pilasters of the box; while other people clambered over the orchestra tins and wire-nettings, and ran across the stage -some hither, some thither—in a maze that plain wayfarers never had explored. Actors and actresses came out in their fancy attires, powder, and rouge; and some wanted to faint, some to help, and everybody pointed, explained, and shouted.
There stood upon the mimic stage a dairy scene-like that where the President's fate had been foretold on John's Brown's farm-partly flanked by a toy fence, and masked by a wing of other scenery, with a bird-house and bench before the dairy, the front scene now torn open in the spasmodic actions of some thirty people employed upon that stage.
God had called the emancipator home when there were “no cares upon his face."
As the President was carried down the stairs, Nelly followed, being among the last to leave, and she saw his body enter a dwelling opposite, where Booth had at one time lodged with a fellowactor.
At this moment the fellow-actor, in another lodging, was burning Mr. Booth's labored confession, in the terror of one on whom had been pilloried a deadly secret.
“I know the red-bird now,” sighed Nelly Harbaugh, “and he has marked me with the dark! In the morning they will find me neither dark nor white, but where poor Lincoln is, asking Him to try my cause."
FLIGHT OF SPIES.
ABEL QUANTRELL sat on Good-Friday night in his house, preparing to antagonize the President; and Katy was reading from Lincoln's speech on the third anniversary of the Baltimore riots:
“Calling to mind that we are in Baltimore, we can not fail to note that the world moves. Three years ago, those soldiers could not pass through Baltimore. I would say blessings upon the men who have wrought these changes, and the women who have assisted them!”
“That means you and Davis here,” said Senator Pittson, " and here you are blessing' the President up and down hill.”
“Oh, what a scene was that!” spoke Hannah Ritner. “The old negroes and the children, the fair girls and the new-married pairs, weeping, and singing, and praising God, when the tall, tender man came past—and they say it has been the same in Washington and Richmond. Oh, why be so impatient with him, friends, when these poor slaves have waited for him trustfully these hundred years ? "
“Lincoln is a fine politician,” said Mr. Davis, who now had two Maryland senators, and nearly all the delegation in Congress, but considered that he was no politician at all ; “I wish he would move in here, and show me how to let all the returning rebels vote, and vet not break him down. I see the same soured element returning, and they will wheedle our Presidents away, and we shall always be thirty years behind the North and West-afraid to say “Liberty' loud, singing the old pine-tree Maryland whine, and rather rejoicing that we are wrong."
“Cube it,” said old Abel Quantrell, looking like the face of Moses carved on his broken tablets. “Liberty is not a gift, but the returning of a right. The gift is the ballot. Freedom itself is a counterfeit without civil rights. Put me to sleep among the blacks, and let Gabriel call me when Africa is white !”
Senator Pittson observed that Winter Davis a little flinched at this, though with grim admiration.
“O friends !” said Lloyd's half-brother,“ all true legislation is for the present. See how we have got along; and the greatest man on the globe this day, in popular faith, is Uncle Abraham. I tremble for his perfectness of fame.”
The door opened, and Light Pittson entered on the arm of Luther Bosler. Light's father looked up with a quick interest.
“Senator," said Luther, “this lady is to be my wife.”
They all started up except Abel Quantrell, whose limbs would no longer bear him, and he made a motion to Hannah Ritner, who came and kissed him, while Katy and Light's father alternately embraced the affianced couple.
As Mr. Davis departed, the old radical spoke from his wheeled chair, bringing it forward:
.“ Bosler, in this house we pretend nothing. Do you know that I am the father of this boy, and that this saint should be my wife?"
He pointed to the senator and to Hannah Ritner. They looked at the lover calmly, yet both were anxious for his response.
“I have known it long," replied Luther Bosler. “To give this lady my name has been my purpose, since I first discovered the possibility of a misapprehension.”
He reached his hand to Abel Quantrell's grandchild, but she was gone from his side, and now stood with flashing and indignant eyes, comprehending a situation she had never anticipated.
“Spare yourself, sir,” said Light Pittson, “an act of charity! It was for this you professed to love me! I know the blemish in my nature now, and it points me where to fly. The man who is all romance, and against whom I have been so hypocritically warned because he was not pure enough for me, implored me to leave Washington with him this night. I will not return there, but will follow him to where my friend, my uncle Lloyd, fights in Virginia, and I shall be the wife of Mr. Booth !”
“O Light !” spoke Katy Bosler, seeing the trouble of the senator and his parents. . “Am I so wicked? Yet where is my weddingring?"
The door-bell rang as the town clocks sounded midnight. Hugh Fenwick, entering, exclaimed :
“ It is too true-Wilkes Booth has killed the President! The Secretary of State has been butchered! The assassin's companion, following him across the navy-yard bridge, gave the name of Lloyd Quantrell !”
At this appalling information the silence was long, till broken by Light Pittson's asseveration :
“ I will marry Mr. Booth, if at the foot of the scaffold !”
Abel Quantrell looked up at Hannah Ritner with a hard but ghastly face.
“ Three times the base is the cube,” said he. “Am I not happy in my posterity ?"
“I don't believe it was Lloyd !” cried Katy Bosler.
“ No, child," spoke Abel Quantrell, upon the inward breath of a groan, “for both my sons had honest mothers.”
“Fenwick,” exclaimed Hannah Ritner, “ did you warn that woman Surratt, as you swore to do under the altar of your church? I see you did not! I arrest you, sir, as one of the assassins !”
Before he could reply, she had taken hold of him with a grasp of man's strength, and drawn a bunch of keys from his clothing.
“Major Bosler, take these; arrest this man, and search his room and trunk. If he has done Lloyd Quantrell an injury, they shall settle it, man to man!”
Old Abel Quantrell's head fell down. The second stroke of paralysis had come to him.
The interview between Nelly Harbaugh and Light Pittson had commenced in hostility, and ended in good influence; for behind it had been Hannah Ritner, her object a double one-to reveal Booth's impurity to Light, and have her awaken in Nelly's nature a new interest in the actor, that his dangerous character might be under Nelly's control.
Booth had now fallen entirely under the malignant influence of his contemplated crime, and he deceived both women: secretive as the grave to Nelly while daily in her chamber, and though forbidden by Light to see her again, his pen was at work vainly seeking to have her meet him in Virginia. He desired to enter there with the double trophy of a “Yankee" senator's daughter and the President's death. Light Pittson attracted his lower nature, and her sympathy with the misfortunes of the Southern people, of late unreservedly expressed, caused her name to be more closely linked with Booth's than the facts warranted, and gave her parents many apprehensions, who now knew the unprincipled relations of that worthless person in many an unguarded woman's life!
Booth was piqued that Nelly Starr, as she was called, valued Luther's love, while he, her injurer, had never gained her heart; and he had a grudge against Senator Pittson for ruling him out of