'Twas in days of the Revolution,—
Dark days were they and drear,—
And by Carolina firesides
The women sat in fear;
For the men were away at the fighting,
And sad was the news that came,
That the battle was lost; and the death-list
Held many a loved one's name.
When as heart-sore they sat round the camp-fires
"What ho! Who'll volunteer
To carry a message to Sumter?"
A voice rang loud and clear.
There was a sudden silence,
But not a man replied;
They knew too well of the peril
Of one who dared that ride.
Outspoke then Emily Geiger,
With a rich flush on her cheek,—
"Give me the message to be sent;
I am the one you seek.
For I am a Southern woman;
And I'd rather do and dare
Than sit by a lonely fireside,
My heart gnawed through with care."
They gave her the precious missive;
And on her own good steed
She rode away, 'mid the cheers of the men,
Upon her daring deed.
And away through the lonely forests,
Steadily galloping on,
She saw the sun sink low in the sky,
And in the west go down.
"Halt!—or I fire!" On a sudden
A rifle clicked close by.
"Let you pass? Not we, till we know you are
No messenger nor spy."
"She's a Whig,—from her face—I will wager,"
Swore the officer of the day.
"To the guard-house, and send for a woman
To search her without delay."
No time did she lose in bewailing;
As the bolt creaked in the lock,
She quickly drew the precious note
That was hidden in her frock.
And she read it through with hurried care,
Then ate it, piece by piece,
And calmly set her down to wait
Till time should bring release.
They brought her out in a little,
And set her on her steed,
With many a rude apology,
For their discourteous deed.
On, on, once more through the forest black,
The good horse panting strains,
Till the sentry's challenge, "Who comes there?"
Tells that the end she gains.
Ere an hour, in the camp of Sumter
There was hurrying to and fro.
"Saddle and mount, saddle and mount!"
The bugles shrilly blow.
"Forward trot!" and the long ranks wheel,
And into the darkness glide:
Long shall the British rue that march
And Emily Geiger's ride.