Page images
PDF
EPUB

Who trusts the strength will with the burden grow,
That God makes instruments to work his will,
If but that will we can arrive to know,

Nor temper with the weights of good and ill.

So he went forth to battle, on the side

That he felt clear was Liberty's and Right's, As in his peasant boyhood he had plied

His warfare with rude Nature's thwarting mights

The uncleared forest, the unbroken soil,

The iron bark that turns the lumberer's axe,
The rapid, that o'erbears the boatman's toil,
The prairie, hiding the mazed wanderer's tracks,

The ambushed Indian, and the prowling bear-
Such were the needs that helped his youth to train:
Rough culture-but such trees large fruit may bear,
If but their stocks be of right girth and grain.

So he grew up, a destined work to do,

And lived to do it: four long-suffering years, Ill-fate, ill-feeling, ill-report, lived through,

And then he heard the hisses changed to cheers,

The taunts to tribute, the abuse to praise,

And took both with the same unwavering mood: Till, as he came on light, from darkling days,

And seemed to touch the goal from where he stood,

A felon had, between the goal and him,

Reached from behind his back, a trigger prestAnd those perplexed and patient eyes were dim, Those gaunt, long-laboring limbs were laid to rest!

The words of mercy were upon his lips,

Forgiveness in his heart and on his pen,
When this vile murderer brought swift eclipse
To thoughts of peace on earth, good-will to men.

The Old World and the New, from sea to sea,
Utter one voice of sympathy and shame!
Sore heart, so stopped when it at last beat high;
Sad life, cut short just as its triumph came.

X.

THE ASSASSIN AND HIS END.

[blocks in formation]

X.

THE ASSASSIN AND HIS FATE.

BOOTH, after escaping from the theatre, galloped away so rapidly, yet quietly, that his accomplice, Harold, stationed there did not at first notice it, and was consequently unable to overtake him for a considerable time. Their flight had, however, been well planned; their confederates, who had regularly called out to each other the time in front of the theatre, had, as the blow was struck, cut the telegraph wires. Booth and Harold's destination was Surrattville, the tavern of Mrs. Surratt, one of the conspirators. Here carbines and whiskey were in readiness for them, she herself going that very day for the second time to prevent mistake or delay. Although Booth, in his leap to the stage, had broken the smaller bone of his leg, this did not prevent his flight, and galloping past the Patent Office, over Capital Hill, and crossing the Eastern branch at Uniontown, Booth gave his name to the officer in charge, who having no tidings of the crime, and seeing nothing suspicious, allowed him and Harold to proceed, but detained a third.

Having passed this first obstacle, Booth pushed on, and at midnight the two reached Surrattville. Harold immediately roused Lloyd, the landlord, and got from him the carbines, whiskey, and field-glass which Mrs. Surratt had directed him to give them. They took but one carbine, Harold saying that Booth had broken his leg and could not carry it. The other carbine remained in the hall and was found by the officers.

Just as they were about leaving, Booth said, "I will tell you some news, if you want to hear it." Lloyd says that he replied: "I am not particular; use your own choice about telling news." "Well," said Booth, "I am pretty certain that we have assassinated the President and Secretary Seward."

Thus proclaiming his crime, Booth and his comrade dashed

away across Prince George's county. His wound was now painful, and although he seems to have wished to get the surgical aid of Dr. Stewart, he stopped on Saturday morning, before sunrise, at the house of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, three miles from Bryantown. Mudd was brought to trial with Mrs. Surratt, Harold, Payne, and others, and is shown to have known Booth, and had private business with him a short time before. At all events he now cut off Booth's riding boot and hastily set his leg, extemporizing splints, and ordering a hired man to make him a pair of crutches. Dr. Mudd knew that there was need of haste, and used all expedition. He sheltered them all day, but towards evening they slipped their horses from the stable and rode away in the direction of Allen's Fresh.

Below Bryantown run certain deep and slimy swamps; along the belt of these Booth and Harold picked up a negro named Swan, who volunteered to show them the road for two dollars; they gave him five more to show them the route to Allen's Fresh, but really wished, as their actions intimated, to gain the house of one Sam. Coxe, a notorious rebel, and probably well advised of the plot. They reached the house at midnight. It is a fine dwelling, one of the best in Maryland. And after hallooing for some time, Coxe came down to the door himself. As soon as he opened it and beheld who the strangers were, he instantly blew out a candle he held in his hand, and without a word pulled them into the house, the negro remaining in the yard. The confederates remained in Coxe's house till 4 A. M., during which time the negro saw them drink and eat heartily; but when they appeared they spoke in a loud tone, so that Swan could hear them, against the hospitality of Coxe. All this was meant to influence the negro; but their motives were as apparent as their words. He conducted them three miles further on, when they told him that now they knew the way, and giving him five dollars more-making twelve in all-told him to go back.

But when the negro, in the dusk of the morning, looked after them as he receded, he saw that both horses' heads were turned once more toward Coxe's, and it was this man, doubtless, who harbored the fugitives from Sunday to Thursday, aided, possibly, by such neighbors as the Wilsons and Adamses.

At the point where Booth crossed the Potomac the shores are very shallow, and one must wade out some distance to where a

« PreviousContinue »