Foolish, idle cry, and meant for no more, by a heart on fire with temptations of which I knew nothing. But then and there my poor adolescent soul found out that the preceptive stuff of which it had built its treasure-house and citadel was not fire-proof."Oh, Richard Thorndyke Smith!--alive and well! Lieutenant Ferry wants you; he has just gone to his camp-fire."
I took it again. The signature was extended in full, with the surname blackly underlined. The first clause of the print, too, was so treated. "Keep thy heart," it read; "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.--Charlotte Oliver.""You risked your life to save mine; and you risked it when I did not deserve so much as your respect.""Lieutenant, I can't help believing he's out here to make a new record for himself, at whatever cost!"
Night had fully come. A few bivouac fires burned low in the grove, and at one of them near the grove gate I found our young commander. On a bench made of a fence-rail and two forked stakes he sat between Quinn and the first-lieutenant of the Louisianians. The doctor whom I had seen before sat humped on his horse, facing the three young men and making clumsy excuses to Ferry for leaving. The other physician would stay for some time yet, he said, and he, himself, was leaving his instruments, such as they were, and would return in the morning. "Fact is, my son's a surgeon, and he taken all my best instruments with him.""I don't know whether he was telling me the truth or not," said Helm, as we led our saddled horses toward the house; "I reckon he didn't want me alongside of him with this arm in a sling." The hand was bad; lines of pain were on the aide's face. He had taken the dead Louisianian home, got back to camp, and ridden down here to get the latest news concerning Charlotte. Kendall had already given him our story of the night; I had to answer only one inquiry. "Oh, yes," was my reply, "head laid wide open!" But to think of my next meeting with Ned Ferry almost made me sick."Sir, there is no Lieutenant O'Brien in there, nor elsewhere in this house; there never has been."
"I don't know whether he was telling me the truth or not," said Helm, as we led our saddled horses toward the house; "I reckon he didn't want me alongside of him with this arm in a sling." The hand was bad; lines of pain were on the aide's face. He had taken the dead Louisianian home, got back to camp, and ridden down here to get the latest news concerning Charlotte. Kendall had already given him our story of the night; I had to answer only one inquiry. "Oh, yes," was my reply, "head laid wide open!" But to think of my next meeting with Ned Ferry almost made me sick."Verbal message? No, Lieutenant, she didn't--oh!--from the General! Yes! the General says--'Rodney.'"
IX THE DANDY'S TASK
"I've thought of all that," he droned.
almost pleasing. "Good-bye, Smith, remember your failings."Ere the sun shall go down there are heads to be broke."
"No," he replied, "I came the wrong way."
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"And the one following, almost at his side?"Not slow-spoken did we find the command when we reached the road where they were falling into line. After a brief but vain pursuit, here were almost the haste and tumult of the onset; the sweat of it still reeked on everyone; the ground was strewn with its wreckage and its brute and human dead, and the pools of their blood were still warm. Squarely across the middle of the road, begrimed with dust, and with a dead Federal under him and another on top, lay the big white-footed pacer. At one side the enemy's fallen wounded were being laid in the shade to be left behind. In our ranks, here was a man with an arm in a bloody handkerchief, there one with his head so bound, and yonder a young fellow jesting wildly while he let his garments be cut and a flesh-wound in his side be rudely stanched. Here there was laughter at one who had been saved by his belt-buckle, and here at one who had dropped like dead from his horse, but had caught another horse and charged on. But these details imply a delay where in fact there was none; the moment Ferry spied me he asked "Did he get across?" and while I answered he motioned me into the line. Then he changed it into a column, commanded silence, and led us across country eastward. For those few wounded who would not give up their places in the ranks it was a weary ten miles that brought us swiftly back to a point within five miles of that Clifton which we had left in the morning. And yet a lovely ten miles it was, withal. You would hardly have known this tousled crowd for the same dandy crew that had smiled so flippantly upon me at sunrise, though they smiled as flippantly now with faces powder-blackened, hair and eyelashes matted and gummed with sweat and dust, and shoulders and thighs caked with grime. Yet to Ned Ferry as well as to me--I saw it in his eye every time he looked at them--these grimy fellows did more to beautify those ten miles than did June woods beflowered and perfumed with magnolia, bay and muscadine, or than slant sunlight in glade or grove.
"What!" I cried, "are they here t'--too? Why,--where's their carryall? 'Tisn't in the stable; I've looked!"详情
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