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The Iron Game by Henry Francis Keenan

Part 8 out of 8

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any difficulty in tracing the two boys. Haven't they written?"

"Not a line, not a word concerning them has been heard. Mrs. Sprague
sent agents so soon as the _Herald_ paragraph was shown to Olympia. They
are in Washington now on the quest. It was there we got track of
you--before you were sent here,"'

"Why was I sent here?"

Kate was about to speak. Again the shadow of her first fear--again the
dread of some malevolent purpose on her father's part--choked
her speech.

"I--I--don't know," she faltered.

"Who came with me?"

"My father."

"Ah!" Jones's eyes were penetrating her now. She felt the questioning in
them, and turned her face to the clinging folds of the veil.

"Miss Boone, you seem to be deeply interested in these boys. Are you
really their friend?"

"Ah, believe me, I am heart and soul their friend!"

"Does your father know it?"

"Yes: he knows that I am seeking them."

"Does he approve your search?"

"No, he does not."

"Good. Now listen. We have short time to work in. You have a carriage
outside. Your father will be here any moment. I could never keep from
him my indignation and even distrust. I shall get into that carriage
with you, and you must conceal me somewhere and give me time to set the
proper machinery in motion to find these boys. There is no other way.
Your father has some reason for keeping their whereabouts concealed. I
may know the purpose and I may not. The boys may have been killed in the
volley that struck me. It will require a mere telegram to find out. I
know whom to address, but I must be where I can use trusted agents. I
have no money. You can, I hope, provide me with that, or the Spragues if
you can't."

He spoke with a flush deepening on his face, and arose with something
like vigor.

"Ample means--you shall have any sum you need," Kate said, handing him a
well-filled purse.

"Good--I have one or two articles in my room. I will fetch them and
follow you to the carriage."

Ten minutes later the carriage was whirling over the broad road to
Warchester. By Jones's advice it was stopped at the hospital. Here he
proposed remaining for the night, to mislead suspicion if any one had
taken the precaution to follow.

"I will remain with our friend Elkins to-night, as you suggest," Jones
said; "to-morrow I will send you word of my whereabouts, and you may
expect to have news of the boys within the week."

"My address will be in Washington," Kate said. "I shall go at once to
the Spragues. They have been there, as I told you, to seek every
possible source of information. I left them to follow you, hoping that
through you I should find the missing."

"You made no mistake. I shall find them. You can tell your friends
that," and he added, with a gleam of savage malice, "God help the man
that has raised the weight of a feather against them, for he has put a
heavy hurt on me if he has harmed them!"

Kate shuddered. Was she never to emerge from this hideous circle of
vengeful hatred--this condition of passionate vendetta--where men were
seeking each other's harm? On reaching home she addressed a note to her
father explaining frankly that she had entered into communication with
Jones; that who had been pained by all that she had heard; that the
inquiry had now passed out of her hands and was in that of the
authorities, and begging him to drop any participation he might have
meditated In a late letter Olympia had given good news of her mother,
saying that Kate could return with safety, and, informing her father of
this, Kate bade him good-by for a time.

When Kate reached Washington she found Mrs. Sprague convalescent, but
painfully feeble. The poor mother reproached herself for the
interruption of the search, and implored the two girls to begin again
without a moment's delay. Kate gave her as much hope as she dared. She
hinted something of the outlines of what she had done and the new agent
in the field. With this Mrs. Sprague was greatly comforted, but begged
then to remit no efforts of their own. It was after three days'
fruitless searching among the records of the department and among the
men of the Caribee regiment, now returned to Washington _en route_ to
the front, that Kate bethought herself of her father's probable presence
in the city. She got out of the carriage and entered the long reception
room of Willard's to make inquiry. The boy who came at her call said, as
soon as she asked for Mr. Boone:

"Why, I jast saw him at the desk, paying his bill. He is probably there
still. Wait here until I see."

But Kate, fearing that he might be gone before she could reach him,
followed the boy. There was no sign of her father at the desk, and,
turning hastily out of the main corridor, filled with officers and the
clank of swords almost stunning her, she reached the porch just as a cab
set out toward the station. She might a glimpse of her father's face in
it. He was leaving the city. She must see him. The inspiration of the
instant suggested by a cabman was followed. She hastily entered the
vehicle and bade the driver keep in sight of the one her father was in
until it came to a stop. The driver whipped up his horses, but there
wasn't much speed in them. Kate dared not look out of the window, and
sat in feverish anxiety while she was whirled along Pennsylvania Avenue,
almost to the Baltimore Station, then the only one in the city
connecting with the North. To her surprise, the driver stopped near the
curb a block or more short of the railway. She looked out, and as she
did so the driver pointed to her father's carriage halted just ahead.
She took out her purse, but was delayed a moment in getting the fare,
keeping her eye, however, on her father as he hurried from the cab to a
building before which a sentry was lazily pacing. She was not two
minutes in reaching the doorway, but he had disappeared.

The soldier asked her no questions, and of course she could ask none, as
probably her father was unknown to the military filling the place. She
must follow on until she overtook him. There were clerks busy at long
desks, military officials moving about with files of documents. The
presence of a few women in widow's weeds reassured Kate, and as no one
molested her she persisted in her design. He was not on the lower floor,
and, coming back, she ascended a broad stairway. The hall was wide, and
filled with people all in uniform. She could hear a monotonous voice
reading in front, where the crowd clustered thickest. She looked about
helplessly, and tried to push forward. Suddenly she heard the words:
"Guilty of taking the life of the same Wesley Boone. Specification
third: And that the said John Sprague is guilty of the crime of spying
inside the lines of the armies of the United States." For a moment Kate
stood stupefied--rooted to the floor. Jack was undergoing an ignominious
trial for murder--for desertion! All fear, all timidity, all sense of
the unfitness of feminine evidence in such a place fled from her. She
pushed her way through the astonished throng which fell aside as they
saw her black dress and flowing drapery. She reached the last range of
benches, where men were seated, some writing, some consulting documents,
while the clerk read the charges. Her eye fell upon her father seated
near the place of the presiding officer. She grew confident and
confirmed by the sight: it was a signal to the daring that fired her.
"Stop!" she said, in a clear voice. "I don't know what this place is; I
don't know what meaning these proceedings have. I heard a charge that is
not true. It is false that John Sprague murdered Wesley Boone. Wesley
Boone was my brother, and he was killed in the dark by one of several
shots fired at the same instant. Furthermore, my brother was armed and
in the sleeping-room of the mistress of the house at the dead of night.
If John Sprague's bullet killed him it was shot in self-defense and in
the safeguarding of two terrified women. He had no more idea of whom he
was struggling with than--than the soldier who fires in battle.
Furthermore, he is no spy. He risked his life to rescue prisoners. He
saved the life of one of them who can be brought here to testify. He--"

But here Kale broke down. She had spoken with a passionate, resentful
vehemence, her mind all the time seething with the fear and shame of her
father's responsibility for this hideous attack upon the absent. She
stretched out her hand exhaustedly for support. A young officer near her
pushed up a chair and helped her into it. Boone had turned in speechless
amazement as the first words of the voice sounded in his ears. His back
was toward the door, and he had not seen Kate. He turned as she broke
into this fervid apostrophe. Whether from surprise, prudence, or anger
he sat silent, uninterrupting till she tottered into the seat placed for
her by a stranger. Then he arose and went to her side, in nowise angry
or discomposed so far as his outward demeanor betrayed him. The
presiding officer of the court-martial had attempted to silence Kate by
a gesture, but with eyes fixed steadily upon him she had disregarded his
command. Now, however, he spoke:

"Madame, you must know this is highly disorderly and indecorous. The
court can take no cognizance of this sort of testimony. Do you desire to
be heard by counsel? If you do, the judge-advocate will give you all
lawful assistance."

"If the court please, this lady is my daughter. She is somewhat excited.
I will take the necessary measures in the matter," Boone began.

Kate pushed her father from before her and again addressed the

"I refuse my father's aid in this case. I don't know what is necessary,
but I ask this court, if it has anything to do with John Sprague, to
give his friends an opportunity to present his story truthfully and
without prejudice."

"The judge-advocate will give you all necessary information. Meanwhile,
the case will be adjourned until to-morrow."

Elisha Boone stood beside his daughter, a figure of perplexity and
chagrin. He dared not remonstrate openly. He was forced to hear the
judge-advocate question this extraordinary witness, and instruct her on
the steps necessary to be taken; worse than all, hear him inform Kate
that the citations to John Sprague had been regularly issued, and that
the evidence of his desertion rested wholly on the fact that he had put
in no answer to the charges promulgated against him by his commanding
officer; that the trial was proceeding on the ground that Sprague had
deserted to the enemy, and refused to answer within the time allowed
by law.

"But he has never heard of the charges," Kate cried, indignantly. "He
has not been heard of since he escaped from Richmond."

"As we understand it, he reached the Union lines merely to ambuscade our
outposts, and then returned to Richmond."

"His sister left Richmond ten days after his flight, and he had then
passed into our lines, as she had the surest means of knowing."

"There is some extraordinary error in all this. If Sprague can be
produced before the term fixed by the regulations, he can vindicate
himself by establishing the facts you have told me. If not, we have no
alternative but to condemn him to death as a spy and deserter. The
testimony on these specifications is uncontradicted. The murder we may
not be able to establish, though we have witnesses of the shooting."

It was arranged that Sprague's counsel should see the judge-advocate at
once, Kate giving him the address in case by any accident she should be
prevented from seeing the Spragues. As she left the room, under a
fusillade of admiring glances, she leaned on her father's arm, trembling
but resolute. She now knew the worst, and she had no further terror. As
they reached the door, her father asked:

"Where are you going? I suppose I need not tell you that I was on my way
home when I came here, for I suppose you have been spying on my

"Never. I feared you were acting unwisely, but I never dreamed of
watching you. Providence has put your plans in my hands at nearly every
step, but I was so ignorant that, of myself, the information would have
done but little service to poor Jack. I came into the court by the
merest chance. I saw you get into the cab at Willard's, and as I had
only reached Washington, I wanted to see you before you went away. I
drove after you--followed without the slightest suspicion of the place
or your purpose in it."

"Well, all your running about is useless. He will be sentenced to death
and the family disgraced. Nothing can now prevent that."

"Yes, Jack can prevent it! I can prevent it!"


"Jack will be found. Surely they dare not commit such a monstrous crime
against the absent, the undefended!"

"Well, we won't talk of it. I suppose you are with the Spragues?"

"Yes; I shall remain with them until this is ended."

"What if I should tell you to come home with me?"

"I should, of course, obey you if you commanded me. But before doing so
I should have to put my statement in legal shape--that is, swear to it,
and give my address to the court that I might be regularly summoned."

"You know something of law, too, I see. I sha'n't ask you to go home,
nor shall I go myself. I shall remain to see how this affair turns out."

They were driving down Pennsylvania Avenue now. Kate, recalling her
departure, asked, "You did not get the letter I left for you at home?"

"No, I did not know you were gone."

"I left a few lines to tell you that I had seen Jones." She watched him
as she said this. He did not start, as she expected. His lips were
suddenly compressed and his eye grew dark; then he smiled grimly.

"I hope you felt repaid for your trouble."

"Yes. I felt amply repaid. Jones has undertaken to find out what became
of Jack after his arrival at the Union outposts."

"Did you discuss the whole affair with him?"

"Yes. I was greatly relieved by what I learned. I was afraid you had
some sinister purpose in secreting him as the only link between Jack and
his friends. It gave me new life to find that you had been so tender and
thoughtful to Jones, for, as the event proved, he no sooner learned that
there were apprehensions as to Jack's safety, than he set about his

"Did Jones share your grateful sentiment?"

"I think he did. To spare you agitation, he set out at once alone, in
order that you might be relieved of all responsibility."

"Ah!" And Elisha Boone sank far back in the cushion. The carriage
stopped in front of Willard's; then he said: "I shall remain here now. I
will order the driver to take you home. Come to me as often as you can."
He kissed her in the old friendly way and hurried into the hotel.

On reaching her lodgings she found a telegram waiting her. It read:
"Jones gone South. He will advise you of his movements. ELKINS."



Meanwhile war, in one of its grim humors, had prepared a comedy when the
stage was set in tragic trappings. In the withdrawal of Johnston's army
from Manassas--signalized in history as the Quaker campaign, because our
army found wooden guns in the deserted works--that ardent young Hotspur,
Vincent Atterbury, ran upon a disagreeable end to a very charming
adventure. In chivalric bravado, to emphasize the fact that the
withdrawal of the Confederates was merely strategic, not forced, the
young man, with a lively company of horsemen, hungering for excitement,
formed themselves into a defiant rear-guard. The Union outposts, never
suspecting that Johnston's army was not behind the enterprising cavalry,
withdrew prudently to the main forces.

Then, when they were convinced that the little band was merely on an
audacious lark, forces were sent out on either flank, while the main
body feigned the disorder of retreat. The result was, that Vincent's
squadron was handsomely entrapped, and in the savage contest that ensued
the intrepid major was hustled from his horse with a dislocated shoulder
and broken wrist. He was brought, with a half-dozen more of his
dare-devil comrades, into the Union lines, and in the course of time
found himself in the hideous shambles allotted rebel prisoners at Point
Lookout, Maryland. Too weak at first, or too confused, to bethink
himself of his Northern friends, Vincent shared the hard usage of his
companions and resigned himself patiently to the slow procedure of
exchange, which was now going on regularly, since the Union victories in
the West and South had given the Northern authorities ten prisoners to
the Southerners' one. The prospect of his own release was, under these
circumstances, rather distant, as without special intervention he would
have to await his turn, the rule being that those first captured were
first exchanged. He knew that his family's influence and his own
intimacy with General Johnston would probably hasten the release, but he
could not count upon an immediate return to his duties, and in view of
this he was not very reluctant to undergo convalescence in the North.

Jack's influence, he counted, would soon relieve him from the hardships
of confinement, and then he should see Olympia--that, at least, was
recompense for his misfortune. His mother and Rosa would immediately
learn of his capture, and he might count upon hearing from them, as very
generous latitude was allowed in such cases by the authorities on both
sides. He caused a letter to be written to Jack, addressing it to his
regiment, in care of the War Department, and waited patiently the
response. His disappointment and anxiety, as days passed and he got no
answer, began to tell on his health, already weakened by his wounds.
Thus, one day, when a young lady was shown to his bedside--who fell upon
him with a glad cry, and held his head to her breast--he was too far
gone in delirium to distinguish his sister.

"My darling! O Olympia, I knew you would come," he murmured, and Rosa,
terrified, but composed, soothed the fevered lover as best she might. He
grew worse in spite of all her devotion. The physicians, burdened with
patients far in excess of their powers, assured her that her brother
would require the most patient care and enlightened nursing; that
medicine would do him but slight good, and that she must make up her
mind to a prolonged illness. Rosa was alone in the vast hospital, save
for the presence of her maid Linda, who had come through the lines with
her and was, of course, under the Northern laws, free. Worse than all,
she was poorly provided with money, and this need, rather than Vincent's
love-lorn babbling about Olympia, reminded Rosa to call upon the
Spragues for help. She wrote at once to Olympia, telling the distressing
story, and then set about bettering Vincent's surroundings.

Point Lookout had been selected for its natural prison-like safeguards.
A rank bog surrounded the place on three sides, and thus but few troops
were needed to guard the great mass of rebel prisoners lodged in wooden
barracks and long lines of tents. Vincent's case seemed to have grown
stationary after her coming. He slept a fitful, troubled sleep half the
day. At night he grew delirious and restless. Rosa and Linda divided the
hours into watches, and administered the draughts prepared by the
stewards. Through the humanity of the physician in charge, the invalid
had been transferred to an A tent, where Rosa could remain day and night
unmolested with her maid. Vincent thus cared for, Rosa began to think of
the other poor fellows in her brother's squadron, and set about a
systematic search for them. Many of them she found in the general wards
of the hospital. It was on this kindly mission one day that she heard
her brother's name mentioned by a civilian, who was talking with an
official in uniform.

"Major Atterbury? Oh, yes; he was removed to division D. You will find
him in a separate tent. He has a woman nurse. I will send an orderly
with you."

Rosa did not recognize the civilian at first, but as he turned to
accompany the soldier she remembered where she had seen him before. He
was the prisoner Jack had spoken with in Richmond the day the party
visited the tobacco warehouse. She hastened her step, and, as she came
up with the men, she said, tremulously:

"I am Major Atterbury's sister. My brother is unconscious. Can I attend
to the business you have with him?"

Jones turned and stopped, glancing in surprise at the girl.

"I'm sorry to learn that your brother's so low. But you can do all that
I hoped from him. Here is a letter addressed to John Sprague. It was
received at his regiment three days ago. I happened to be there making
inquiries for him, and the colonel handed it to me. Under the
circumstances I felt justified in reading it, and it turns out that I
did well."

"John Sprague is missing?" Rosa cried, her mind instantly at work in
alarm for some one else.

Jones, dismissing the orderly, told her the facts as we have already
followed them. Leaving out all mention of Kate, he told her how he had
hurried down to Newport News, and thence to the outposts on the Warrick.

There he had learned that Jack and Dick had been wounded, fatally the
story went, in the final volley fired by the pursuers. They had been
carried to the hospital at Hampton. But there all trace had been lost.
The steward who received them and the surgeon who had taken their
descriptive list had been transferred to St. Louis. There was, however,
no record of their deaths, and upon that he based the hope that they
were either in hospital, or had been, through some strange confusion,
assigned among rebel wounded, a thing that had frequently happened in
the hurry of transporting large numbers of wounded men.

"And does Mrs. Sprague know all this?" Rosa cried, understanding now why
Vincent's letter and her own had not brought a response.

"Partly, I think. Mrs. Sprague and her daughter are in Washington, in
the state of mind you may imagine, and exhausting bales of red tape to
reach the lost boys."

Poor Rosa! She had thought her grief and terror too much to endure
before. Now how trivial Vincent's fever in comparison with this
appalling disappearance of Dick and Jack! She walked on over the sparse
herbage, over her shoes in the soft sand, when Linda came running from
the tent in joyous excitement.

"De good Lord, Miss Rosa, she's here; she's done come!"

"Who is here--who is come?" Rosa cried, impatiently; "not mamma?"

"'Deed no, Miss Rosa; Miss Limpy."


"Yes, indeedy; and, oh, bress de Lord, Massa Vint knows her, and is
talkin' like a sweet dove!"

It was true. Miss "Limpy," blushing very red, was surprised by Rosa in a
very motherly attitude by the patient's cot. The two girls melted in a
delirious hug, mingled with spasmodic smacks of the lips and a soft,
gurgling _crescendo_ of exclamation, not very intelligible to Jones and
Linda, who discreetly remained near the door on the outside.

Vincent's eyes were fixed on Olympia. For the first time in ten days
they shone with the light of reason. He smiled softly at the scene and
murmured lightly to himself. Warned not to tax the feeble powers of the
invalid, Rosa and Jones withdrew, leaving Olympia to recover from the
fatigues of her journey in the tent with Vincent.

"Now, you're not to talk, you know," Olympia said, with matronly
decision, "I shall remain here to mesmerize you into repose. You know I
am a magnetic person. Be perfectly quiet, and keep your eyes off me.
They make me nervous."

"I can only keep my eyes away on condition you put your hand in mine,
Then the magnetic current can have full play."

"My impression is that you have not been ill at all. I believe you have
been shamming, to escape the harder lines of the prison. Very well, you
needn't answer. I'll take that shake of the head as denial and proof for
want of better. Now, I will give you the history of our doings since I
saw you at Fairfax Court-House in January. I got home safe. I found
mamma in painful excitement."

He moved impatiently, and said, beseechingly:

"But tell me how you got here so soon. How did you learn I was here?
Jack told you when he got my letter?"

"O Vincent, that was what I was coming to! Jack has never been seen or
heard from since he escaped from your troops near the Warrick. I did not
know you had written. I got a letter from Rosa yesterday morning and
went at once to the War Department, where we have a good friend--"

"I can't understand it. All these things are done with system in an army
like yours. Men can't disappear like this, leaving no record. I'll stake
my head there's foul play, if the boys can't be found. Have you made
inquiry in the company on duty where Jack and his companions got into
your lines?"

She explained all the efforts that had been made--how Brodie had been
baffled, and how letters had been sent to the commanding officer at
Fort Monroe.

"We had begun to think that Jack had been recaptured; but surely, if he
were, you would have known of it."

"Of course I should."

"Then that confines the search to our own lines. I can not make myself
believe that Jack is dead, though mamma has nearly made up her mind to
it. The mysterious part of the affair is, that we can not find one of
the men who escaped with Jack, though it was announced in the papers
weeks ago that a party of them had arrived at Fort Monroe."

"And young 'Perley'?"

"He, too, we can get no trace of."

"Good heavens! I'm glad Rosa doesn't know that; she'd be in every camp
and hospital in the North until she had found her sweetheart."

"That sounds something like a reflection on us--mamma and me."

"Ah! never. What I mean is, that Rosa is such an impulsive, silly child,
she would do all sorts of imprudent things. How could you do such a
thing? Preposterous!"

"Well, I began it yesterday morning. As I said, so soon as I read Rosa's
letter, I went to headquarters, where we have a good friend and gave my
word for your safe keeping. You are to be our prisoner; but if you
escape you will get us into trouble, for we are none too well considered
by the folks in power."

"God forgive me, Olympia! escape is the last thing I think of now, when
I am near you. I was going to say I should never care to go back, but I
know you wouldn't think the better of me for that."

"I don't know. Why should you go back? The South is sure to be beaten.
We are conquering territory every day, from the armies at Donelson to
the forts at New Orleans. We shall beat you in Virginia so soon as
General McClellan gives the word."

"Even if that were the case, my duty and my honor would point to but one
course--to return to the natural course of exchange."

"Honor? Vincent, it is a vague term under such circumstances--"

"I could not love you, dear, so much, loved I not honor more. You know
you gave me that for a motto."

"Poetic rubbish, Mr. Soldier; but I must leave you now. You will insist
on talking, and, as I shall be held responsible to your mother and Rosa,
I must be firm--not another syllable! Besides, the imprudence will keep
you here longer, and if you are to be carried away you must get well at
once. I can't leave mamma alone in Washington with such grief preying
upon her."

He answered with a glance of pitying pleading. He looked so helpless--so
woe-begone--that she bent over near his face to smooth his disordered
bandages. When she withdrew she was blushing very prettily, and Vincent
was smiling in triumph. "On these terms," the smile seemed to say, "I
will be mute for an age."

What an adroit ally war is to love! Here was the self-contained
Olympia--so confident of herself--fond and yielding as Rosa; when war
rushed in, infirmity came to the rescue of Vincent's despairing passion.

Meanwhile, Jones began a systematic search among the prisoners for the
missing Caribees. Rosa joined with impatient ardor. There were three
thousand inmates of the improvised city, but no one resembling Jack or
Dick could be found. Linda, ministering to some of Vincent's comrades,
was piteously besought to ask her mistress's good offices for an orderly
in the small-pox ward. This was a tent far off from the main barracks on
the beach, attended only by a single surgeon and a corps of rather
indifferent nurses. Two of Vincent's men were in this lazar, shut off
from the world, for the soldier, reckless in battle, has a shuddering
horror of this loathsome disease. Rosa instantly resolved that she would
herself nurse the plague-smitten rebels. She had no fear of the disease,
the truth being that she had only the vaguest idea of what it was. With
great difficulty she obtained permission to visit the outcast colony.
She was forced to enter the noisome purlieu alone, even the maid's
devotion rebelling against the nameless horror small-pox has for
the African.

Once within the long marquee, however, Rosa was relieved to find that
the casual spectacle was not different from that of the other seriously
sick-wards. A melancholy silence seemed to signalize the despair of the
twoscore patients, each occupying a cot screened from the rest by thin
canvas curtains. Double lines of sentries guarded each opening of the
marquee, so that no one could pass in or out without the rigidly _vised_
order of the surgeon-in-chief. Braziers of charcoal burned at the foot
of each bed, while the atmosphere was heavy with a strong solution of
carbolic acid, then just beginning to be recognized as a sovereign
preventive of malarious vapors, and an antiseptic against the germs of
disease. Rosa inquired for the _proteges_ she was seeking. They were
pointed out, on one side of the tent, the steward accompanying her
to each cot.

"All have the small-pox?" she inquired, shuddering, as she glanced at
the white screens, behind which an occasional plaintive groan could
be heard.

"Oh, no! there are some here that have no more small-pox than I have."

"Then why do you keep them here?" Rosa asked, indignantly.

"Oh, red tape, miss. There's two men that were brought here three months
ago. They'd no more small-pox than you have, miss; but they were
assigned here, and I have given up trying to get them taken to the
convalescent camp. The truth, is the surgeon in charge is afraid to show
up here. The others make by the number they have in charge, for we are
allowed extra pay and an extra ration for every case on hand."

"Why, this is infamous!" Rosa cried. "It is murder. Why don't you write
to the--the--head man?"

"And get myself in the guard-house for my trouble? No, thank you, miss.
I wouldn't have spoken to you if it hadn't been for the sympathy you
showed coming in, and to sort o' show you that you are not running so
much danger as folks try to make you believe."

Rosa had a basket on her arm filled with such comforting delicacies as
the surgeon had advised. She set about administering them to her
brother's orderly, when a feeble voice in a cot a few feet away fell
upon her ear. She started. Though almost a whisper, there was a strange
familiarity in the low tone. She turned to the steward--

"Who is in the third cot from here?"

"Let me see. Oh, yes, number seven; that's a man named Paling."

"And the next?"

"Number eight; that's a man named Jake, or Jakes, I'm blessed if I am
certain. They've been out of their head since they come. They're the two
I spoke of who ain't no more small-pox than I have."

"May I see them?"

"Certainly. I'll see that they're in shape for inspection, and call

He disappeared behind the curtain and could be heard in a kindly, jovial

"There, sonny, keep kivered; the lady is coming to bring you something
better than the doctor's gruel, so lie still."

Beckoning to Rosa, he made way for her to enter the narrow aisle of
number seven, but he nearly fell over the man across the bed, when Rosa,
with a shriek, fell upon the body of number seven, crying:

"O, my darling, my darling, I have found you!"

It would have required the eyes of maternal love of Rosa's to recognize
our jaunty Dick in the emaciated, fleshless face that lay imbedded in
the disarray of the cot. Dick's blue eyes were sunken and dim, his lips
chalky and parched. He made no sign of recognition when Rosa drew back
with her arm under his head to scrutinize the disease-worn face.

"Sometimes, miss, he is in his right mind--but he goes off again like
this. Is the other man his brother? They seem to understand each other
when they are at the worst. Once when we separated them they fought like
maniacs until we were forced to let them be near again."

"Oh, yes--the other." Rosa started and hastened to the next cot. Yes, it
was Jack--or a piteous ghost of him. He was sleeping, and she
withdrew gently.

"Please distribute the contents of the basket to the men I named. I will
be back presently."

With this she darted out, running at the top of her speed, heedless even
of the peremptory challenge of the sentries, who thought her mad or
stricken with the plague, and made no attempt to molest her. She ran
straight to Jones's quarters. He was writing, and started in surprise as
she entered panting and breathless.

"Ah! I have found them; I have found them!" She could say no more. Jones
helped her to a seat and held a glass of water to her lips. Then she
regained breath.

"They are in the small-pox ward, but they haven't the disease. Ah! they
are there, they are there. Come at once and take them away. Ah! take
them away this minute."

"By 'they' do you mean Perley and Sprague?" Jones asked, breathlessly.

"Yes, ah, yes. Thank God! thank God! Ah! I could say prayers from now
until my dying day. But, oh, Mr. Jones, do, do hurry; because they may
die if we do not get them away from that dreadful pest-house."

"It will take some time to get the order for the removal. Meanwhile,
they will need good nursing. If you hope to help them you must be calm;
you must keep well. Now go to your brother. It is just as well that Miss
Sprague went away this morning. Before she comes back, her brother will
be in a place she can visit with safety. You can not go back there. You
must remain patient now until I get them away from that
dangerous place."

It was not until the next day that the red tape of the establishment was
so far cut as to warrant the surgeon in charge in making a personal
inspection of the two invalids. He at once, and in indignant
astonishment, pronounced the two untouched by the disease set against
their names in their papers of admission. Early in the afternoon they
were carried on a stretcher to a clean, fresh tent on the sandy beach,
where the laurel bushes almost ran into the water. Letters had been
dispatched to Olympia in forming her that Jack was found, and urging her
to come on at once. The next evening the three ladies arrived--Mrs.
Sprague, Olympia, and Kate. With them they brought a renowned physician
who had been uniformly successful in treating maladies of the sort the
lads were described as suffering.

Days of painful anxiety followed. Once, all hope of Dick was abandoned,
and his aunts were telegraphed for. But, in the end, he opened his big
blue eyes, sane and convalescent. There was rapid mending after this,
you may be sure. Kate had, through Olympia's unobtrusive manoeuvring,
been forced to bear the burden of Jack's nursing, and, somehow, when
that impatient warrior mingled amorous pleadings with his early
consciousness, she forgot upon which side the burden of repentance and
forgiving lay. She listened with gentle serenity to his protestations,
checking him only by the threat to quit the place and return to
her father.

During all this, Rosa was divided in her mind. She resented the
assiduity of Jones in the recovery of Dick. That reticent person had
installed himself in Dick's tent and never quitted the lad, day or
night, unless to relinquish him to Rosa's arbitrary hand. When, one day,
Pliny and Merry Perley entered the tent, Jones changed color. The two
ladies, not heeding the stranger, fell upon the convalescent on the cot,
and Jones slipped away. Thereafter Rosa had her invalid to herself,
Jones only reappearing at night, to keep the vigils of the dark. A month
later, the invalids were strong enough to be removed. An inquiry had
been set on foot to account for the presence of the two Union soldiers
among the rebel prisoners. The result was confusing, however. The facts
seemed to point out design in the original entry of the young men's
names at Hampton, where they had been taken when brought in by
the outposts.

The dispersion of the rest of their companions from Richmond was
accounted for by furloughs granted them so soon as they reached the
provost-marshal's office. Just before leaving Point Lookout Jack
received a much-directed letter that gave signs of having been in every
mail-bag in the Army of the Potomac. It was from Barney Moore, bristling
with wonder and turgid with woful lamentation at Jack's coldness in not
writing him. He had been sent by mistake to Ship Island, near New
Orleans, to join his regiment, and had only at the writing of the letter
reached Washington, where the Caribees were expected every day to move
to the Peninsula in McClellan's new campaign.

So soon as he was sufficiently recovered to write, Jack reported by
letter to the regiment. He had received no reply. The explanation was
awaiting him so soon as he reached Washington. While seated with his
mother in Willard's, a heavy knock came on the door. It was thrown open
before the maid could reach it. A provost corporal stood on the
threshold, a file of men behind him:

"I have an order for the arrest of Sergeant John Sprague."

"I am John Sprague. Of what am I accused?"

"I have no orders to tell you. My orders are to deliver you at the
provost prison. You will hear the charges there."

"But I am still under the doctor's charge. I am on the hospital list."

"I don't know what condition you are in. My orders are to arrest you,
and you know I have no option. All can be remedied at the
provost's office."

"I will go with you, my son," Mrs. Sprague said, trying to look
untroubled. "It is some error which can be explained."

"No, mamma, you can't come. Send word to the counsel you engaged in the
search. I fancy it is some mistake; but I wish it hadn't occurred just
now. I wouldn't write Olympia about it." Olympia had gone on to Acredale
with Kate, to set the house in order for a season of festivity. Jack,
Vincent, Dick, and the rest, were to join them so soon as the invalid
had taken rest in Washington.

The guard indulged Jack in a carriage to headquarters. Here he was
handed over to a lieutenant in charge, and conducted to a prison-like
apartment in the rear.

"What is the charge against me?" Jack asked, as the officer touched a

"I am not acquainted with the papers in your case. My instructions are
to hold you until called for.--Sergeant," he added, as a soldier in
uniform entered, "the prisoner is to be confined in close quarters, and
is not to be lost sight of night or day."

The soldier saluted and motioned Jack to follow him, two other soldiers
closing in behind him as he set out. At the end of a short hallway the
sergeant stopped, took a key from a bunch at his belt, unlocked a
heavily-barred door and motioned Jack to enter. It was useless to
protest, useless to parley. He knew military procedure too well to think
of it, but his heart swelled with bitter rage. This was the reward of an
almost idolatrous patriotism--this was the _patrie's_ way of cherishing
her defenders. He flung himself on the cot in a wild passion of tears
and rebellious scorn. But his humiliation was not yet ended; while he
sat with his face covered by his bands, he felt hands upon his legs, and
the sharp click of a lock. He moved his left leg. Great God! it was
chained to an enormous iron bolt. He started to rise; the sharp links of
the chain cut his ankle as the great ball rolled away from him. With a
cry of madness he flung himself on the harsh pine pallet, groaning his
heart out in bitter anguish and maledictions. In time food was brought
him, but he sat supine, staring ghastly at the dull-eyed orderly,
silent, unquestioning. Dim banners of light fell across the corridor.
They were broken at regular intervals by the passing figure of a sentry.
The night wore on. There was a lull in the monotonous tramp. Steps came
toward Jack's cell--stopped; the key grated in the lock; some one
touched him on the shoulder. He never stirred.

"Cheer up, Sprague; it's all a mistake." It was the voice of the lawyer.

At this Jack started, his eyes gleaming wildly. "Ah, I thought so. I
knew I could never have been disgraced like this in earnest. They have
discovered the wrong done me?"

"No, no; not exactly that, Jack, but we shall show them the mistake, I
make no doubt."

"Why am I dishonored? Of what am I accused? Why am I here?" Jack cried,
shivering under the revulsion from despair to hope, and from hope back
to horror.

"You are dishonored, my poor young friend, because a court-martial has
found you guilty of murder, desertion, and treason against the articles
of war, and you are here because you are sentenced to be shot one week
from Friday, in the center of a hollow square, seated on your
own coffin."



In her own mind, as the train rolled toward Acredale from Washington,
Kate was enjoying in anticipation the victory she had to announce to her
father. He had written her regularly from Warchester, where he was
engaged in an important suit. She had written more frequently than he,
but she had made no allusion to the happy ending of her troubles. It was
partly dread that the knowledge of Jack's restoration might bring on
more active hostility, as well as a whimsical feminine caprice to spring
the great event upon him when all danger was over. She watched Dick and
Rosa in the seat near her, for they, too, were of the advance guard to
Acredale, where, when Olympia had arranged the house, Vincent and Jack
were to come for final restoration to health. When the party arrived at
the little Acredale Station there was a great crowd gathered.

A company of the Caribees was just setting out for the front. Some of
the old members recognized Dick, and then straightway went up a cheer
that brought all the corner loiterers to the spot to learn the goings
on. It was in consequence rather a triumphal procession that followed
the carriage to the Sprague gateway, and even followed up the sanded
road to the broad piazza. Rosa remained with Olympia, while Kate carried
Dick off to commit him to the aunts waiting on the porch to welcome the
prodigal. Kate had telegraphed her coming, and her father was at the
door to meet her. He was plainly relieved and delighted to have her with
him again, for he held her long and close in his arms. "Then all's
forgiven; we're friends again," she said, laughing and crying together.

"There is nothing to forgive. It may be a matter of regret that you are
a Boone in blood rather than an Ovid, and that you imitate the Boones in
obstinacy. But justice has been done, and there's no need to quarrel
about strangers."

She didn't understand in the least what he meant about justice being
done. Remembering that all was well, she smiled as they entered the
library, and when she had removed her wraps, said, in repressed triumph:
"You need never attempt the role of Shylock again. I play Portia better
than you play the Jew. You have lost your pound of flesh."

"Well, be magnanimous. Don't abuse your victory. I shouldn't, in your
place; but women are never merciful to the fallen."

"I am to you. For, see, I kiss you as gayly as when I believed you all
heart and goodness."

"Now you believe me no heart and badness?"

"I didn't say that, I say you are given over to sinful hates, and I must
correct you."

"Well, I'm willing now to be corrected."

"But the correction will be a severe one; you must prepare for a very
grievous penance."

"Knowing you, I can foresee that you won't spare the rod. Very well,
I'll try to get used to it."

At this moment a servant came to the door.

"A note for Miss Kate," she said. Kate tore it open and read:

"Come to me at once. I have frightful news from
Washington. As it concerns Jack you ought to know it.


She read the lines twice before she could seize the meaning. Frightful
news concerning Jack! Had he suffered a relapse? Had he been
accidentally hurt? No; if it had been news of that sort, Olympia would
have come herself. A gleam of prescience shot through her brain. The
court--the charges against Jack! That was it. That was the secret of her
father's equanimity under her raillery. She turned with a rush into the
library. The bad blood of the Boones was all up in her soul now. She
walked straight at, not to her father, and, holding Olympia's note
before him, said in bitter scorn:

"Tell me what this means. I know that you know."

He took the paper with leisurely unconcern, affecting not to remark
Kate's flashing wrath; he read the lines, handed the paper back, or held
it toward Kate, who put her hands behind her.

"Since it concerns you, my child, suppose you go over and ask Miss
Sprague. How should I know the affairs of such superior people?"

"Could nothing soften you?--humanize you, I was going to say. Could
nothing satisfy you but the death of this injured family?--for this blow
will kill them. Kill them? Why should they care to live when that noble
fellow has been dishonored by your cruel acts? Ah, I know what you have
done! You have brought the court to disgrace Jack--to make him appear a
deserter. You it was who, in some mysterious way, caused him to be
abducted into the small-pox ward among the rebel prisoners. But it shall
all be made known. I shall myself go on the stand and testify to your
handiwork. Yes, I am a Boone in this. I will follow the lesson you have
set me. I will avenge the innocent and save him by exposing the guilty."

"On second thought, daughter, you are not in a frame of mind to see
strangers to-night. You will remain home this evening. To-morrow you can
see your friend and advise her in her sorrow, whatever it is." He went
to the door and called the servant. "Go to Miss Sprague with my
compliments, and tell her my daughter is not able to leave the house
this evening." As the man closed the outer door, Kate made a step
forward, crying:

"You never mean to say that I am a prisoner in my own father's house?"

"Certainly not. We're not play-actors. I think it best that you should
not go to the neighbors to-night, and you, as a dutiful daughter, obey
without murmur, because I have always been an indulgent parent and
gratified every whim of yours, even to letting you consort with my
bitterest enemies for months." As he spoke, there was a ring at the
doorbell. Presently the servant entered the room and announced "Mr.
Jones." Before Boone could direct him to be shown into another room
Jones entered the library, fairly pushing the astonished menial aside.
Boone held up his hand with a warning gesture, and nodded toward Kate;
but, without halting, Jones advanced to Boone's chair, and, seizing him
by the shoulder, held up a copy of the afternoon paper.

"Read that? What does it mean?"

Boone's eyes rested a moment on the paragraphs pointed out. Then,
throwing the paper aside, he asked, coldly:

"Why should you ask me what it means? If you are interested in the
affair, you might find out by writing to the court."

At this, Jones, looking around the room, marked the two doors, one
leading to the hall, the other to the drawing-room. He deliberately went
to each, and, locking it, slipped the key in his pocket. He glanced
reassuringly at Kate, as she sat dumfounded waiting the issue of this
singular scene. He confronted Boone, leaning against the mantel.

"It's just as well that we have a witness to this final settlement,
Elisha Boone.--Twenty years ago, Miss Boone, I was a citizen of this
town. I was the owner of these acres. I am Richard Perley. In those days
I was a wild fellow--I thought then, a wicked one; but I have learned
since that I was not, for folly is not crime. In those days--I was
barely twenty-five--your father had a hard ground to till in his way of
life. I became his patron, and from that I became his slave. I never
exactly knew how it came about, but within a few years most of my
property was mortgaged to Elisha Boone. I won't accuse him, as the world
does, of inciting me to drink and gambling. God knows he has enough to
answer for without that! In the end I was driven to a deed that
imperiled my liberty, and Elisha Boone put the temptation and the means
to do it within my reach. Detection followed, and the detection came
about through Elisha Boone. All my property in his hands, my name a
scorn, and my person subject to the law, Elisha Boone had no further
fear of me, and thenceforth doled me out an income sufficient to supply
my modest wants. I strove to turn the new leaf that recommends itself to
men who have exhausted the so-called pleasures of life. I was living in
honesty and seclusion in Richmond, when Boone, who had never lost sight
of me, came with a mission for me to perform. I was engaged as an agent
of the detective force of the United States, with the special duty of
rescuing Wesley Boone from captivity.

"I was further commissioned to get evidence against John Sprague, fixing
upon him the crime of betraying his colors and aiding the Confederacy.
In the attempt to rescue Captain Boone at Bosedale circumstances pointed
to the guilt of young Sprague, but that was all dissipated a few weeks
after, when, at the peril of his own life, not once, but a score of
times, he rashly liberated a score or two of prisoners, and personally
led them through an entire rebel army to the Union lines. I, who would
have been abandoned by a less noble nature, for I was weakened by
captivity and bad fare, broke down, but Sprague and--and--young Dick--my
son, clung to me with such devotion as few sons would exhibit under such
trials, and brought me safe to the outposts. Here, by some mysterious
means, we were all dispersed. When I found my senses I was under Elisha
Boone's Samaritan care in the house where you saw me at first. The two
boys, Sprague and Perley, spirited away from the hospital at Hampton,
where they had been entered under assumed names, Jacques and Paling,
were by some curious instrumentality hidden in the small-pox ward of the
rebel prison at Point Lookout. While they lay there, and while some one
in Washington knew that they were there, a court martial in that city
hurriedly convened, found John Sprague guilty of murder, desertion, and
treason, and the evening dispatches from Washington state that John
Sprague is to be shot a week from Friday in a hollow square, in which a
company of the Caribees is to do the shooting.

"Miss Boone, you worked faithfully to rescue the life of this young man,
but your father has brought that work to ruin. Worse, the death you
dreaded when you gave heart and soul to the rescue of the lost was a
mercy compared to that in store for him. He is to be shot by a file of
his own company, seated upon a rough board coffin, ready to receive his
mangled remains. You will--"

But Kate, at this hideous detail, fell with a low, wailing cry to the
floor, happily dead to the woful consciousness of the scene and its
meaning. Jones ran to the door, and, unlocking it, shouted for the
servants. When they came, she was carried to her room and the physician
summoned. Almost at the same time Olympia, in her traveling-dress, drove
up. She was informed by the servants of Kate's state, and, without
stopping to ask permission, ran up to the sick-room. Kate was now
conscious, but at sight of Olympia she covered her face, shuddering.

"Ah, Kate! Kate! what is it? Have you learned the dreadful news? I am
going to take the train back this evening."

"I, too, will go with you. Stay with me; don't leave me!"

She stopped, put out her hand, as if to make sure of Olympia, then broke
into low but convulsive sobs. Her father, with the doctor, entered the
room; but at the sight Kate turned her head to the wall, crying,

"No, no--not here, not here! I can't see him now! Oh, spare me! I--I--"

"Do your duty, doctor," Boone said, in a quick, gasping tone, and with
an uncertain step quit the chamber. Olympia explained to the physician
that Kate had heard painful news from an unexpected quarter, and that
her illness was more nervous than physical.

"I don't know about that," the doctor said, decisively. He felt her
pulse, then with a quick start of surprise raised her head and examined
the tongue and lining of the palate. A still graver look settled on his
face as he tested the breath and action of the heart. When he had
apparently satisfied himself he turned to Olympia with a perturbed air,
and, beckoning her into the dressing-room, said:

"Miss Sprague, this is no place for you. Miss Boone has every symptom of
typhoid fever. She has evidently been exposed to a malarial air. Her
complaint may be even worse than typhoid--I can't quite make out certain
whitish blotches on her skin. I should suspect small-pox or varioloid,
but that there has not been a case reported here for years. Where has
she been of late?"

Olympia turned ghastly white with horror.

"O doctor, she has been nursing Jack, who was for weeks in the small-pox
ward at Point Lookout!"

"Good God! Fly, fly the house at once! I wondered if I could be deceived
in the symptoms. I must insist on your leaving at once."

"But the poor girl must have some one of her own sex with her. Whom can
she get if not a friend?"

"She can get a professional nurse, and that is worth a dozen friends.
Indeed, friends will be only a drawback for the next ten days."

He took her gently by the shoulders and pushed her out of the room. He
was an old friend of the family, and she was accustomed to his
tyrannical ways. He held her sternly under way until the front door
closed and shut her out. Then, turning into the library, he saw that the
host was alone. Closing the door, he said:

"Mr. Boone, your daughter has been exposed to a great danger. We may be
able to save her, but it will require great patience."

"Danger, doctor! What do you mean?"

"Your daughter has caught the most hideous of all diseases--small-pox!"

Elisha Boone started to his feet. "Great God! where could she catch

"She caught it nursing young Sprague. I thought you knew of that;" and
the doctor regarded the incredulous, terror-stricken face of the father
with bewildered fixity. Well he might. The first rod of the moral law
had just struck him. The vengeance he had so subtly planned had turned
into retributive justice. He had refused Kate's prayer; he had driven
her to this mad search and the contagion now periling her life, or, if
it were spared, leaving her a hideous specter of herself. This passed
through his shattered mind as the doctor stood regarding him.

"What do you propose doing?" he finally asked, to get his thoughts from
the torturing grip of conscience.

"I propose to install two trained nurses in the house. You are not to
let a soul know what your daughter is suffering from. I hope to be able
to check the evil in the blood, but I must be secure against any form of
meddling. You must avoid your daughter's chamber--indeed, it would be
better if you could quit Acredale for a few days. You would be less
embarrassed by intrusive neighbors and keep your conscience clear of

So it was settled that Boone should take up his quarters in Warchester,
coming out late every night for news.

Meanwhile, Acredale had read with amazement, first, of the finding of
Jack Sprague among the rebels at Point Lookout, then, the extraordinary
story of the court-martial and death-sentence. Every one called at the
Sprague mansion, but it was in the hands of the servants, Olympia and
her guest having returned to Washington so soon as the story of her
brother's peril reached her. Dick, too, had flown to his adored Jack,
and Acredale, confounded by the swift alternations in the young
soldier's fortunes, settled down to wait the outcome with a tender
sorrow for the bright young life eclipsed in disgrace so awful, death so

We have looked on while most of the people in this history worked
through night to light in the moral perplexities besetting them. We have
seen warriors in love and danger gallantly extricating themselves and
plucking the bloom of safety from the dragon path of danger. We have
seen a moral combat in the minds of most of the people who have had to
do with our luckless Jack. But all herein set down has been the merest
November melancholy compared to the charnel-house of dead hopes and
baffled purposes that tortured Elisha Boone. Unlovely as Boone has
seemed to us, he had one of the prime conditions of human goodness--he
loved. He had loved very fondly his son Wesley. He loved very tenderly
his daughter Kate.

With this love came the sanctification that must abide where love is. I
don't think he had much of what may be called the second condition of
human goodness--reverence. If he had, we should never have seen him push
revenge to the verge of crime. Richard Perley, it is true, accuses him
of a turpitude that makes a man shudder and abhor; but allowances must
be made for the exaggeration of a careless spendthrift--a "good fellow,"
than whom I can conceive of nothing so useless and mischievous in the
human economy. For my part, I think I could endure the frank
heartlessness of a man like Boone more philosophically than the false
good-nature of the creature men call a good fellow.

Obviously, Boone did not take Dick Perley's estimate of him very
seriously. He, too, could have told a tale not without its strong
features of a shiftless set, constantly borrowing, constantly
squandering, constantly provoking the thrifty to accumulate unguarded
properties. All this, however, had faded from the old man's mind now. He
had avenged himself upon the life-long scorners of his name and fame;
but the blow that shattered their pride had sent a dart to his own
heart. His beautiful Kate, his big-hearted, high-spirited, man-witted
girl!--she would bear a leper-taint for life, and his hand had put the
virus on her perfect flesh!

In a few days the black in his hair withered to an ashen white. His
flesh fell away. He could neither eat nor sleep. He shambled through the
obscure streets of Warchester, or lingered wistfully in the beech woods
behind his own palatial home in Acredale, staring at the window of his
daughter's chamber. The week passed in such mental torture as tries the
strong when confronted by the major force of conscience. Then the doctor
told him that he had balked the plague; that Kate was recovering from
varioloid; that beyond a transparency of skin, which would add to her
beauty rather than impair it, there would be no sign of the attack.

Elisha Boone slept in his own home that night, and, for the first time
in forty years, he fell upon his knees--upon his knees! Indeed, the
doctor found him so at midnight, when he came with a request from his
daughter to come to her room. The doctor, with a word of warning against
agitating the sufferer, wisely retired from the solemn reconciliation
which, without knowing the circumstances, he knew was to take place
between father and child. She was propped up upon pillows whose texture
her flesh rivaled in whiteness. She opened her arms as the specter of
what had been her father flew to her with a stifled cry.

"O father, we have both been wicked! we have both been punished! Help me
to do my part; help me to bear my burden."

It was hope, mercy, and peace the meeting brought. The next day Elisha
Boone bade Kate a tender farewell. She did not ask him where he was
going. She knew, and the light in her eye shone brighter as he rode in
the darkness over the bare fields and through the sleeping towns to the
capital, where Jack's fate was hanging in the balance. With Boone's
influence to aid them, Jack's friends found a surprising change in the
demeanor of the officials, hitherto captious and indifferent. Boone
himself laid the case before the President, omitting certain details not
essential to the showing of the monstrous injustice done a brave
soldier. The President listened attentively, and with the expression,
half sad and half droll, with which he softened the asperities of
official life, said, humorously:

"I wish by such simple means as courts-martial we could find out more
such soldiers as this; we need all of that sort we can get." He touched
a bell, and, when a clerk appeared in response, he said, "Ask General
McClellan to come in for a moment before he leaves."

What need to go into the details? The court reconvened, and traversed
the charges, which were disproved or withdrawn. John Sprague was
pronounced guiltless on every specification, and, on General McClellan's
recommendation, was promoted to a captaincy and assigned to the
headquarters staff. I might go on and tell of Jack's daring on the
Peninsula and his immeasurable usefulness to McClellan in the
Williamsburg contest and the final wondrous change of base from the
Chickahominy to the James; how his services were recognized by promotion
to a colonelcy on the battle-field of Malvern; and how, when McClellan
was wronged by Stanton, and removed from the army, Jack broke his sword
and swore that he would never serve again. But, thinking better of it,
he applied for a place in Hancock's corps, and was by his side from
Fredericksburg to Gettysburg. You have seen from the very first what was
going to happen. The marriages all took place, just as you have guessed
from the beginning. Young Dick was too impatient and too skeptical to
wait until the end of the war, and, to the amazement of his aunts and
the amusement of Acredale, he carried Rosa off, one day, and was
secretly married in the rector's study at Warchester, so that his first
son was born under the Stars and Bars in Richmond, while Dick was
beleaguering the walls at Fort Walthall, four miles away. The other
young people waited rationally until a month or two after the peace, and
while they were still entitled to wear the blue, and then they were
wedded. It was said that Kate made the most beautiful bride ever seen in
Warchester, for it was there they were married.


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