"How did I hear them? Let me see. Oh, yes! from--from Harry.""Sweet heart," replied Miss Harper, "very good! very good! but now say no more of that sort. God bless you, dear, just let yourself be happy. Good-night--no, no, sit still; stay where you are, love, while Camille and I go in and Richard steps around to the stable and puts our team into the road-wagon; for, Captain Ferry, neither you nor he is fit to walk into Brookhaven; we can bring the rig back when we come from church to-morrow."He turned and moved to the head of the column. I followed. There, "Left into line wheel--march!" chanted our second in command. "Backwards--march!" and then "Right dress!" and the line, that had been a column, dressed along the western edge of the road with the morning sun in their faces. Then Ferry called "Fours from the right, to march to the left--march!" and he and Quinn passed up the middle of the road along the front of the line, with yours truly close at their heels, while behind us the command broke into column again by fours from the right and set the pink dust afloat as they followed back northward over their own tracks with Sergeant Jim beside the first four as squadron right guide. I had got where I was by some mistake which I did not know how to correct,--I was no drill-master's pride,--and there was much suppressed amusement at my expense along the front as we rode down it. At every few steps until the whole line was a column Ned Ferry dropped some word of cheer, and each time there would come back an equally quiet and hearty reply. Near the middle he said "Brisk work ahead of us to-day, boys," and I heard the reiteration of his words run among the ranks. I also heard one man bid another warm some milk for the baby. Trotting by a grove where the company had passed the night, we presently took the walk to break by twos, and as we resumed the trot and turned westward into a by-road, Lieutenant Quinn dropped back to the column and sent me forward to the side of Ned Ferry. I went with cold shivers.
"No, General. And in the last place, my motive in this errand is no mere sympathy for any one person; I am here from a sense of public duty--" The speaker seemed suddenly overtaken by emotions, dropped her words with pained evenness, and fingered the lace handkerchief in her lap.almost pleasing. "Good-bye, Smith, remember your failings.""When; where is he?" eagerly asked Quinn, seeing Ferry was not going to ask.
"Cockerel, did you say?"From certain rank signs of bad management in the Federal camp one could easily guess that our circuit was designed to bring us around to its rear. That a colonel's tent--the one where the singers were--was not where the colonel's tent belonged was a trifle, but the slovenliness with which the forest borders of the camp were guarded was a graver matter. Evidently those troops were at least momentarily in unworthy hands, and I was so remarking to Kendall when a murmured command came back from Ferry, to tell Dick Smith to stop that whispering. I was sorry, for I wanted to add that I knew we were not going to attack the camp itself. That was on Wednesday night. Charlotte and Gholson had made their ride of fifty miles on Monday. The friends with whom she stopped at nightfall contrived to cram him into their crowded soldiers' room, and he had given the whole company of his room-mates, as they sat up in their beds, a full account of the fight at Sessions's, Charlotte's care of the sick and dying, and the singing, by her and the blue-coats, of their battle-song. Next morning Charlotte, without Gholson--who turned off to camp--rode on to Goldschmidt's store, just beyond which there was then still a Confederate picket. Here she hired Mrs. Goldschmidt's pony, rode to the picket, and presented the Coralie Rothvelt pass.
"Lieutenant Ferry is not sending me to any house."
My amazement was genuine. "For our sick soldiers!" I sighed.
Now I saw the new firing-line, out on our left, and as the rattle of it quickened, the Colonel galloped, still roaring out his rallying-cries and wiping his reeking blade across his charger's mane. Throngs gathered after him; the high-road swarmed with prisoners double-quicking to the rear under mounted guards; here, thinly stretched across the road at right-angles, were our horse-holders, steadily, coolly falling back; farther forward, yet vividly near, was our skirmish-line, crackling and smoking, and beyond it the enemy's, in the edge of a wood, not yet quite venturing to fling itself upon us. We passed General Austin standing, mounted, at the top of the rise, with a number of his staff about him. Minie balls had begun to sing about them and us, and some officer was telling me rudely I had no business bringing that standard--when something struck like a sledge high up on my side, almost in the arm-pit; I told one of our men I was wounded and gave him the trophy, our horse-holders suddenly came forward, every man afoot rose into his saddle, and my horse wheeled and hurried rearward at a speed I strove in vain to check. Then the old messmate to whom I had said good-bye at this very hour just a week before, came and held me by the right arm, while I begged him like a drunk-and-disorderly to let me go and find Ned Ferry.
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"By getting you to send him so far to your own army's rear that he cannot get back; to compel him to leave the country; to go into your country, where law and order reign as they cannot here between the lines."Before we had gone another mile I met Harry Helm. The General had left him in camp with flat orders to remain, but at daylight he had ridden out to find us. He was in two tremendous moods at once; lifted to heaven on the glory of our deeds, yet heart-broken over the fate of Ned Ferry. "Surgeon's told him he can't live, Dick! And all the effect that's had--'No opiates, then, Doctor,' s'e, 'till I get off these two or three despatches.' So there he lies in that ambulance cross-questioning prisoners and making everybody bring him every scrap of information, as if he were General Austin and Major Harper rolled into one and they were wounded instead of him--By George! Dick, he knows you're hit and just how you're hit, and has sent me to find you!"I mumbled that they were not even friends. "Well, now, I suspicioned that,--when I first see 'em meet at the head of our column! But the aide-de-camp he took it so good-natured that, thinks I,--"
She backed half a step, and quite needlessly I let it go. Then she bade me not forget I had promised her the words of a certain song. "Want them? Indeed, yes! Did you not say it was an unpublished song written by a messmate of yours?--oh, Mr. Smith! I see why you stammer! You said 'a member of your mess'! oh!--oh!--oh!--you wrote it, yourself! And you wrote it to-day! That explains--" She drew an awesome breath, rose to her toes and knit her knuckles under her throat."Ah, how you gild my base metal!"详情
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