AN AMUSING INCIDENT
James A. Hassell, Superintendent of the
Book Department of the American News Company, Park Row, New York,
told me the following singular occurrence:
His father, John Hassell, was a Union soldier
during the Civil War and developed pulmonary tuberculosis. Shortly
after Appomattox, he went to Florida in the hope of renewing his
strength and prolonging his life. One day, presuming too much
on his vigor, he wandered too far into the country from his hotel
and suddenly collapsed. He was seized with a bad hemorrhage and
sank down at the side of the road, too weak to keep his feet.
He felt that he must die unless help quickly reached him. Feebly
raising his head on his hand, he saw a man approaching with a
pair of oxen drawing a cart. When he was within a few paces, Mr.
Hassell made the Masonic sign of distress.
"Whoa!" called the old Confederate
to his cattle and leaping to the ground, ran forward to give what
aid he could. He had the situation at a glance. The man in extremity
was a "Yank," but he was also a Freemason. And then
a situation developed that was unparalleled and to a certain extent
amusing. Being a Yank, he who had worn the gray, refused to speak
a word to him or to answer a single question.
We recall that at that time there remained
a good deal of slumbering hatred between the North and the South.
It was impossible to disregard his Masonic vow and the "Cracker"
took off his coat, tenderly adjusted it about the sufferer, lifted
him into his cart and gently drove back to the hotel, where he
explained the situation to the landlord, still refusing to exchange
a word with the one whom he had relieved. Mr. Hassell received
the kindest attention and lived for a number of years. He often
related with enjoyment his unique experience in which the former
Confederate drew the line so sharply between his principles and
his Masonic duties.
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