A Modern Cinderella and other stories
Doctor Franck came in as I sat sewing up the rents in an old shirt, that Tom might go
tidily to his grave. New shirts were needed for the living, and there was no wife or
mother to "dress him handsome when he went to meet the Lord," as one woman said,
describing the fine funeral she had pinched herself to give her son.
"Miss Dane, I'm in a quandary," began the Doctor, with that expression of countenance
which says as plainly as words, "I want to ask a favor, but I wish you'd save me the
"Can I help you out of it?
"Faith! I don't like to propose it. but you certainly can, if you please."
"Then give it a name, I beg."
"You see a Reb has just been brought in crazy with typhoid; a bad case every way; a
drunken, rascally little captain somebody took the trouble to capture, but whom nobody
wants to take the trouble to cure. The wards are full, the ladies worked to death, and
willing to be for our own boys, but rather slow to risk their lives for a Reb. Now you've
had the fever, you like queer patients, your mate will see to your ward for a while, and I
will find you a good attendant. The fellow won't last long, I fancy; but he can't die
without some sort of care, you know. I've put him in the fourth story of the west wing,
away from the rest. It is airy, quiet, and comfortable there. I'm on that ward, and will do
my best for you in every way. Now, then, will you go?"
"Of course I will, out of perversity, if not common charity; for some of these people think
that because I'm an abolitionist I am also a heathen, and I should rather like to show
them, that, though I cannot quite love my enemies, I am willing to take care of them."
"Very good; I thought you'd go; and speaking of abolition reminds me that you can have
a contraband for servant, if you like. It is that fine mulatto fellow who was found burying
his Rebel master after the fight, and, being badly cut over the head, our boys brought him
along. Will you have him?"
"By all means,--for I'll stand to my guns on that point, as on the other; these black boys
are far more faithful and handy than some of the white scamps given me to serve, instead
of being served by. But is this man well enough?"
"Yes, for that sort of work, and I think you'll like him. He must have been a handsome
fellow before he got his face slashed; not much darker than myself; his master's son, I
dare say, and the white blood makes him rather high and haughty about some things. He
was in a bad way when he came in, but vowed he'd die in the street rather than turn in