An interesting anecdote is related of Franklin, who, it is alleged, in order to test the parental instinct existing between mother and child, introduced himself as a belated traveller to his mother’s house after an absence of many years. Her house being filled with more illustrious guests than the unknown stranger, she refused him shelter, and would have turned him from her door. Hence he concluded that this so-called parental instinct was a pleasant delusive belief, not susceptible of proof.
The opposite of this occurred in Washington, in one of the fierce engagements with the rebels near Mechanicsville, a young lieutenant of a Rhode Island battery had his right foot so shattered by a fragment of shell that, on reaching Washington after one of those horrible ambulance rides, and a journey of a week’s duration, he was obliged to undergo amputation of the leg. He telegraphed home hundreds of miles away that all was going well, and with a soldier’s fortitude composed himself to bear his suffering alone.
Unknown to him, however, his mother, one of those dear reserves of the army, hastened up to join the main force. She reached the city at midnight, and the nurses would have kept her from him until morning. One sat by his side fanning him as he slept, her hand on the feeble fluctuating pulsations which foreboded sad results. But what woman’s heart could resist the pleadings of a mother then? In the darkness she was finally allowed to glide in and take the place at his side. She touched his pulse as the nurse had done; not a word had been spoken; but the sleeping boy opened his eyes and said, “That feels like my mother’s hand; who is this beside me? It is my mother; turn up the gas and let me see mother!”
The two dear faces met in one long, joyful sobbing embrace, and the fondness pent up in each heart sobbed and panted, and wept forth its expression.
The gallant fellow, just twenty-one, his leg amputated on the last day of his three years’ service, underwent operation after operation, and at last, when death drew nigh, and he was told by tearful friends that it only remained to make him comfortable, said, “he had looked death in the face too many times to be afraid now,” and died as gallantly as did the men of the Cumberland.
Originally posted 2009-02-20 03:03:54.