Part 1 out of 5
This Etext prepared by Brett Fishburne (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Red Acorn
by John McElroy
The name given this story is that made glorious by the valor and
achievements of the splendid First Division of the Fourteenth Army
Corps, the cognizance of which was a crimson acorn, worn on the
breasts of its gallant soldiers, and borne upon their battle flags.
There are few gatherings of men into which one can go to-day
without finding some one wearing, as his most cherished ornament,
a red acorn, frequently wrought in gold and studded with precious
stones, and which tells that its wearer is a veteran of Mill
Springs, Perryville, Shiloh, Corinth, Stone River, Chickamauga,
Mission Ridge, Atlanta, Jonesville, March to the Sea, and Bentonville.
The Fourteenth Corps was the heart of the grand old Army of the
Cumberland--an army that never new defeat. Its nucleus was a few
scattered regiments in Eastern Kentucky, in 1861, which had the
good fortune to be commanded by Gen. George H. Thomas. With them
he won the first real victory that blessed our arms. It grew as
he grew, and under his superb leadership it was shaped and welded
and tempered into one of the mightiest military weapons the world
ever saw. With it Thomas wrung victory from defeat on the bloody
fields of Stone River and Chickamauga; with it he dealt the final
crushing blow of the Atlanta campaign, and with it defeat was again
turned to victory at Bentonville.
The characters introduced into the story all belonged to or
co-operated with the First Division of the Fourteenth Corps. The
Corps' badge was the Acorn. As was the custom in the army, the
divisions in each Corps were distinguished by the color of the
badges--the First's being red, the Second's white, and the Third's
blue. There was a time when this explanation was hardly necessary,
but now eighteen years have elapsed since the Acorn flags fluttered
victoriously over the last field of battle, and a generation has
grown up to which they are but a tradition. J. M.
Chapter I.--A Declaration, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 9
Chapter II.--First Shots, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 18
Chapter III.--A Race, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 28
Chapter IV.--Disgrace, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 38
Chapter V.--The Lint-Scraping and Bandage-making Union, - - - 52
Chapter VI.--The Awakening, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 62
Chapter VII.--Pomp and Circumstance of Glorious War, - - - - 71
Chapter VIII.--The Tedium of Camp, - - - - - - - - - - - - - 85
Chapter IX.--On the March, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 92
Chapter X.--The Mountaineer's Revenge, - - - - - - - - - - - 112
Chapter XI.--Through the Mountain and the Night, - - - - - - 126
Chapter XII.--Aunt Debby Brill, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 141
Chapter XIII.--An Apple Jack Raid, - - - - - - - - - - - - - 160
Chapter XIV.--In the Hospital, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 175
Chapter XV.--Making Acquaintance with Duty, - - - - - - - - - 184
Chapter XVI.--The Ambuscade, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 204
Chapter XVII.--Alspaugh on a Bed of Pain, - - - - - - - - - - 230
Chapter XVIII.--Secret Service, - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 252
Chapter XIX.--The Battle of Stone River, - - - - - - - - - - 279
Chapter I. A Declaration.
O, what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the Earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays."
Of all human teachers they were the grandest who gave us the New
Testament, and made it a textbook for Man in every age. Transcendent
benefactors of the race, they opened in it a never-failing well-spring
of the sweet waters of Consolation and Hope, which have flowed
over, fertilized, and made blossom as a rose the twenty-century
wide desert of the ills of human existence.
But they were not poets, as most of the authors of the Old Testament
They were too much in earnest in their great work of carrying the
glad evangel of Redemption to all the earth--they so burned with
eagerness to pour their joyful tidings into every ear, that they
recked little of the FORM in which the saving intelligence was
Had they been poets would they have conceived Heaven as a place
with foundations of jasper, sapphires and emeralds, gates of pearl,
and streets of burnished gold that shone like glass? Never.
That showed them to be practical men, of a Semitic cast of mind,
who addressed hearers that agreed with them in regarding gold and
precious stones as the finest things of which the heart could dream.
Had they been such lovers of God's handiwork in Nature as the Greek
religious teachers--who were also poets--they would have painted
us a Heaven vaulted by the breath of opening flowers, and made
musical by the sweet songs of birds in the first rapture of finding
their young mates.
In other words they would have given us a picture of earth on a
perfect June day.
On the afternoon of such a day as this Rachel Bond sat beneath an
apple-tree at the crest of a moderate hill, and looked dreamily
away to where, beyond the village of Sardis at the foot of the hill,
the Miami River marked the beautiful valley like a silver ribbon
carelessly flung upon a web of green velvet. Rather she seemed
to be looking there, for the light that usually shown outward in
those luminous eyes was turned inward. The little volume of poems
had dropped unheeded from the white hand. It had done its office:
the passion of its lines had keyed her thoughts to a harmony that
suffused her whole being, until all seemed as naturally a part
of the glorious day as the fleecy clouds in the sapphire sky, the
cheerful hum of the bees, and the apple-blossoms' luxurious scent.
Her love--and, quite as much, her girlish ambition--had been crowned
with violets and bays some weeks before, when the fever-heat of
patriotism seemed to bring another passion in Harry Glen's bosom
to the eruptive point, and there came the long-waited-for avowal of
his love, which was made on the evening before his company departed
to respond to the call for troops which followed the fall of Fort
Does it seem harsh to say that she had sought to bring about this
DENOUEMENT? Rather, it seems that her efforts were commendable.
She was a young woman of marriageable age. She believed her her
mission in life was marriage to some man who would make her a good
husband, and whom she would in turn love, honor, and strive to
make happy. Harry Glen's family was the equal of her's in social
station, and a little above it in wealth. to this he added educational
and personal advantages that made him the most desirable match in
Sardis. Starting with the premises given above, her first conclusion
was the natural one that she should marry the best man available,
and the next that that man was Harry Glen.
Her efforts had been bounded by the strictest code of maidenly
ethics, and so artistically developed that the only persons who
penetrated their skillful veiling, and detected her as a "designing
creature," were two or three maiden friends, whose maneuvers toward
the same objective were brought to naught by her success.
It must be admitted that refining causists may find room for censure
in this making Ambition the advance guard to spy out the ground
that Love is to occupy. But, after all, is there not a great deal
of mistake about the way that true love begins? If we had the data
before us we should be pained by the enlightenment that, in the
vast majority of cases the regard of young people for each other
is fixed in the first instance by motives that will bear quite as
little scrutiny as Miss Rachel Bond's.
We can afford to be careless how the germ of love is planted. The
main thing is how it is watered and tended, and brought to a lasting
and beautiful growth. Rachel's ambition gratified, there had been
a steady rise toward flood in the tide of her affections. She
was not long in growing to love Harry with all the intensity of a
really ardent nature.
After the meeting at which Harry had signed the recruiting roll,
he had taken her home up the long, sloping hill, through moonlight
as soft, as inspiring, as glorifying as that which had melted even
the frosty Goddess of Maidenhood, so that she stooped from her
heavenly unapproachableness, and kissed the handsome Endymion as
Though little and that commonplace was said as they walked, subtle
womanly instinct prepared Rachel's mind for what was coming, and
her grasp upon Harry's arm assumed a new feeling that hurried him
on to the crisis.
They stopped beneath the old apple-tree, at the crest of the hill,
and in front of the house. Its gnarled and twisted limbs had been
but freshly clothed in a suit of fragrant green leaves.
The ruddy bonfires, lighted for the war-meeting, still burned in
the village below. The hum of supplementary speeches to the excited
crowds that still lingered about came to their ears, mingled with
cheers from throat rapidly growing hoarse, and the throb and wail
of fife and drum. Then, uplifted on the voices of hundreds who sang
it as only men, and men swayed by powerful emotions can, rose the
ever-glorious "Star-Spangled Banner," loftiest and most inspiring
of national hymns. Through its long, forceful measures, which have
the sweep and ring of marching battalions, swung the singers, with
a passionate earnestness that made every note and word glow with
meaning. The swelling paean told of the heroism and sacrifice
with which the foundations of the Nation were laid, of the glory
to which the land had risen, and then its mood changing to one of
direness and wrath, it foretold the just punishment of those who
broke the peace of a happy land.
The mood of the Sardis people was that patriotic exaltation which
reigned in every city and village of the North on that memorable
night of April, 1861.
But Rachel and Harry had left far behind them this passion of the
multitude, which had set their own to throbbing, even as the roar
of a cannon will waken the vibrations of harp-strings. Around where
they stood was the peace of the night and sleep. The perfume of
violets and hyacinths, and of myriads of opening buds seemed shed
by the moon with her silvery rays through the soft, dewy air; a few
nocturnal insects droned hither and thither, and "drowsy tinklings
lulled the distant folds."
As their steps were arrested Rachel released her grasp from Harry's
arm, but he caught her hand before it fell to her side, and held it
fast. She turned her face frankly toward him, and he looked down
with anxious eyes upon the broad white forehead, framed in silken
black hair, upon great eyes, flaming with a meaning that he feared
to interpret, upon the eloquent lines about the mobile, sensitive
mouth, all now lifted into almost supernatural beauty by the
moonlight's spiritualizing magic.
What he said he could never afterward recall. His first memory
was that of a pause in his speech, when he saw the ripe, red lips
turned toward him with a gesture of the proud head that was both
an assent and invitation. The kiss that he pressed there thrilled
him with the intoxication of unexpectedly rewarded love, and Rachel
with the gladness of triumph.
What they afterward said was as incoherent as the conversations of
those rapturous moments ever are.
"You know we leave in the morning?" he said, when at last it became
necessary for him to go.
"Yes," she answered calmly. "And perhaps it is better that it
should be so--that we be apart for a little while to consider this
new-found happiness and understand it. I shall be sustained with
the thought that in giving you to the country I have given more
than any one else. I know that you will do something that will
make me still prouder of you, and my presentiments, which never
fail me, assure me that you will return to me safely."
His face showed a little disappointment with the answer.
She reached above her head, and breaking off a bud handed it to
him, saying in the words of Juliet:
This bud of love, by Summer's ripening breath,
May prove a beauteous flower, when next we meet."
He kissed the bud, and put it in his bosom; kissed her again
passionately, and descended the hill to prepare for his departure
in the morning.
She was with the rest of the village at the depot to bid the company
good-bye, and was amazed to find how far the process of developing
the bud into the flower had gone in her heart since parting with
her lover. Her previous partiality and admiration for him appeared
now very tame and colorless, beside the emotions that stirred her
at the sight of him marching with erect grace at the head of his
company. But while all about her were tears and sobs, and modest
girls revealing unsuspecting attachments in the agitation of parting,
her eyes were undimmed. She was proud and serene, a heightening
of the color in her cheeks being the only sign of unusual feeling.
Harry came to her for a moment, held her hand tightly in his, took
the bud from his bosom, touched it significantly with his lips,
and sprang upon the train which was beginning to move away.
The days that followed were halcyon for her. While the other women
of Sardis, whose loved ones were gone, were bewailing the dangers
they would encounter, her proud spirit only contemplated the chances
that Harry would have for winning fame. Battles meant bright
laurels for him in which she would have a rightful share.
Her mental food became the poetry of love, chivalry and glorious
war. The lyric had a vivid personal interest. Tales of romantic
daring and achievement were suggestions of possibilities in Harry's
career. Her waking hours were mainly spent, book in hand, under
the old apple-tree that daily grew dearer to her.
The exalted mood in which we found her was broken in upon by the
sound of some one shutting the gate below very emphatically. Looking
down she saw her father approaching with such visible signs in face
and demeanor of strong excitement that she arose and went to him.
"Why, father, what can be the matter?" she said, stopping in front
of him, with the open book pressed to her breast.
"Matter enough, I'm afraid, Rachel. There's been a battle near a
place called Rich Mountain, in Western Virginia, and Harry Glen's---"
"O, father," she said, growing very white, "Harry's killed."
"No; not killed." The old man's lip curled with scorn. "It's
worse. He seems to've suddenly discovered he wasn't prepared to
die; he didn't want to rush all at once into the presence of his
Maker. Mebbe he didn't think it'd be good manners. You know he
was always stronger on etikwet than anything else. In short, he's
showed the white feather. A dozen or more letters have come from
the boys telling all about it, and the town's talking of nothing
else. There's one of the letters. It's from Jake Alspaugh, who
quite working for me to enlist. Read it yourself."
The old gentleman threw the letter upon the grass, and strode on
angrily into the house. Rachel smoothed out the crumpled sheet,
and read with a growing sickness at heart:
Mr. Bond--Deer Sur:
i taik my pen in hand to lett you no that with the exception of an
occashunal tuch of roomaticks, an boonions all over my fete from
hard marchin, ime all rite, an i hope you ar injoin the saim blessin.
Weve jest had an awful big fite, and the way we warmed it to the
secshers jest beat the jews. i doant expect theyve stopt runnin
yit. All the Sardis boys done bully except Lieutenant Harry Glen.
The smell of burnt powder seamed to onsettle his narves. He tuk
powerful sick all at wunst, jest as the trail was gittin rather
fresh, and he lay groanin wen the rest of the company marched off
into the fite. He doant find the klime-it here as healthy as it
is in Sardis. i 'stinguished myself and have bin promoted, and
ive got a Rebel gun for you with a bore big enuff to put a walnut
in, and it'll jest nock your hole darned shoulder off every time
you shoot it. No more yours til deth send me some finecut tobacker
for heavens sake.
Rachel tore the letter into a thousand fragments, and flung the
volume of poems into the ditch below. She hastened to her room,
and no one saw her again until the next morning, when she came
down dressed in somber black, her face pale, and her colorless lips
Chapter II. First Shots.
"Cowards fear to die; but courage stout,
Rather than live in snuff, will be put out."
--Sir Walter Raleigh, on "The Snuff of a Candle."
All military courage of any value is the offspring of pride and
will. The existence of what is called "natural courage" may well
be doubted. What is frequently mistaken for it is either perfect
self-command, or a stolid indifference, arising from dull-brained
inability to comprehend what really is danger.
The first instincts of man teach him to shun all sources of harm,
and if his senses are sufficiently acute to perceive danger, his
natural disposition is to avoid encountering it. This disposition
can only be overcome by the exercise of the power of pride and
will--pride to aspire to the accomplishment of certain things, even
though risk attend, and will to carry out those aspirations.
Harry Glen was apparently not deficient in either pride or will. The
close observer, however, seemed to see as his mastering sentiment
a certain starile selfishness, not uncommon among the youths of his
training and position in the slow-living, hum-drum country towns
of Ohio. The only son of a weakly-fondling mother and a father too
earnestly treading the narrow path of early diligences and small
savings by which a man becomes the richest in his village, to pay
any attention to him, Harry grew up a self-indulgent, self-sufficient
boy. His course at the seminary and college naturally developed
this into a snobbish assumption that he was of finer clay than
the commonality, and in some way selected by fortune for her finer
displays and luxurious purposes. I have termed this a "sterile
selfishness," to distinguish it from that grand egoism which in
large minds is fruitful of high accomplishments and great deeds,
and to denote a force which, in the sons of the average "rich" men
of the county seats, is apt to expend itself in satisfaction at
having finer clothes and faster horses and pleasanter homes, than
the average--in a pride of white hands and a scorn of drudgery.
When Harry signed his name upon the recruiting roll--largely
impelled thereto by the delicately-flattering suggestion that he
should lead off for the youth of Sardis--he had not the slightest
misgiving that by so doing he would subject himself to any of the
ills and discomforts incidental to carrying out the enterprise upon
which they were embarking. He, like every one else, had no very
clear idea of what the company would be called upon to do or undergo;
but no doubt obtruded itself into his mind that whatever might be
disagreeable in it would fall to some one else's lot, and he continue
to have the same pleasant exemption that had been his good fortune
so far through life.
And though the company was unexpectedly ordered to the field in
the rugged mountains of Western Virginia, instead of to pleasant
quarters about Washington, there was nothing to shake this comfortable
belief. The slack discipline of the first three months' service,
and the confusion of ideas that prevailed in the beginning of the
war as to military duties and responsibilities, enabled him to
spend all the time he chose away from his company and with congenial
spirits, about headquarters, and to make of the expedition, so
far as he was concerned, a pleasant picnic. Occasionally little
shadows were thrown by the sight of corpses brought in, with
ugly-looking bullet holes in head or breast, but these were always
of the class he looked down upon, and he connected their bad luck
in some way with their condition in life. Doubtless some one had
to go where there was danger of being shot, as some one had to
dig ditches and help to pry wagons out of the mud, but there was
something rather preposterous in the thought that anything of this
kind was incumbent upon him.
The mutterings of the men against an officer, who would not share
their hardships and duties, did not reach his ears, nor yet the
gibes of the more earnest of the officers at the "young headquarter
swells," whose interest and zeal were nothing to what they would
have taken in a fishing excursion.
It came about very naturally and very soon that this continual
avoidance of duty in directions where danger might be encountered
was stigmatized by the harsher name of cowardice. Neither did
this come to his knowledge, and he was consequently ignorant that
he had delivered a fatal stab to his reputation one fine morning
when, the regiment being ordered out with three days' rations and
forty rounds of cartridges, the sergeant who was sent in search
of him returned and reported that he was sick in his tent. Jacob
Alspaugh expressed the conclusion instantly arrived at by every
one in the regiment:
"It's all you could expect of one of them kid-glove fellers, to
weaken when it came to serious business."
Harry's self-sufficiency had left so little room for anything
that did not directly concern his own comfort, that he could not
understand the deadly earnestness of the men he saw file out of
camp, or that there was any urgent call for him to join them in
"Bob Bennett's always going where there's no need of it," he said
to a companion, as he saw the last of the regiment disappear into
the woods on the mountain side. "He could have staid back here
with us just as well as not, instead of trudging off through the
heat over these devilish roads, and probably get into a scrape for
which no one will thank him."
"Yes," said Ned Burnleigh, with his affected drawl, "what the
devil's the use, I'd like to know, for a fellah's putting himself
out to do things, when there's any quantity of other fellahs, that
can't be better employed, ready and even anxious to do them."
"That's so. But it's getting awful hot here. Let's go over to the
shade, where we were yesterday, and have Dick bring us a bucket of
cold spring water and the bottles and things."
"Abe!" said Jake Alspaugh to his file-leader--a red-headed, pock-marked
man, whose normal condition was that of outspoken disgust at every
thing--"this means a fight."
"Your news would've been fresh and interesting last night," growled
Abe Bolton. "I suppose that's what we brought our guns along for."
"Yes; but somebody's likely to get killed."
"Well, you nor me don't have to pay their life insurance, as I know
"But it may be you or me,"
"The devil'd be might anxious for green wood before he'd call you
"Come, now, don't talk that way. This is a mighty serious time."
"I'll make it a durned sight seriouser for you if you don't keep
them splay feet o'your'n offen my heels when we're marching."
"Don't you think we'd better pay, or--something?"
"You might try taking up a collection."
"Try starting a hymn, Jake," said a slender young man at his right
elbow, whose face showed a color more intimately connected with the
contents of his canteen than the heat of the day. "Line it out,
and we'll all join in. Something like this, for example:
'Hark, from the tombs a doleful sound
Mine ears attend the cry.
Ye living men, come view the ground
Where you must shortly lie.'"
Alspaugh shuddered visibly.
"Come, spunk up, Jake," continued the slender young man. "Think
how proud all your relations will be of you, if you die for your
"I'm mad at all of my relations, and I don't want to do nothing to
please 'em," sighed Jake.
"But I hope you're not so greedy as to want to live always?" said
the slender young man, who answered roll-call to Kent Edwards.
"No, but I don't want to be knocked off like a green apple, before
I'm ripe and ready."
"Better be knocked off green and unripe," said Kent, his railing
mood changing to one of sad introspection, "than to prematurely
fall, from a worm gnawing at your heart."
Jake's fright was not so great as to make him forego the opportunity
for a brutal retort:
"You mean the 'worm of the still,' I s'pose. Well, it don't gnaw
at my heart so much as at some other folkses' that I know'd."
Kent's face crimsoned still deeper, and he half raised his musket,
as if to strike him, but at that moment came the order to march,
and the regiment moved forward.
The enemy was by this time known to be near, and the men marched
in that silence that comes from tense expectation.
The day was intensely hot, and the stagnant, sultry air was perfumed
with the thousand sweet odors that rise in the West Virginia forests
in the first flush of Summer.
The road wound around the steep mountain side, through great thickets
of glossy-leaved laurel, by banks of fragrant honeysuckle, by beds
of millions of sweet-breathing, velvety pansies, nestling under huge
shadowy rocks, by acres of white puccoon flowers, each as lovely
as the lily that grows by cool Siloam's shady rill--all scattered
there with Nature's reckless profusion, where no eye saw them from
year to year save those of the infrequent hunter, those of the
thousands of gaily-plumaged birds that sang and screamed through the
branches of the trees above, and those of the hideous rattlesnakes
that crawled and hissed in the crevices of the shelving rocks.
At last the regiment halted under the grateful shadows of the
broad-topped oaks and chestnuts. A patriarchal pheasant, drumming
on a log near by some uxorious communication to his brooding mate,
distended his round eyes in amazement at the strange irruption of
men and horses, and then whirred away in a transport of fear. A
crimson crested woodpecker ceased his ominous tapping, and flew
boldly to a neighboring branch, where he could inspect the new
arrival to good advantage and determine his character.
The men threw themselves down for a moment's rest, on the springing
moss that covered the whole mountain side. A hum of comment
and conversation arose. Jake Alspaugh began to think that there
was not likely to be any fight after all, and his spirits rose
proportionately. Abe Bolton growled that the cowardly officers
had no doubt deliberately misled the regiment, that a fight might
be avoided. Kent Edwards saw a nodding May-apple flower--as fair
as a calla and as odorous as a pink--at a little distance, and
hastened to pick it. He came back with it in the muzzle of his
gun, and his hands full of violets.
A thick-bodied rattlesnake crawled slowly and clumsily out from the
shelter of a little ledge, his fearful eyes gleaming with deadly
intentions against a ground-squirrel frisking upon the end of a
mossy log, near where Captain Bob Bennett was seated, poring over
a troublesome detail in the "Tactics." The snake saw the man, and
his awkward movement changed at once into one of electric alertness.
He sounded his terrible rattle, and his dull diamonds and stripes
lighted up with the glare that shines through an enraged man's face.
The thick body seemed to lengthen out and gain a world of sinuous
suppleness. With the quickness of a flash he was coiled, with
head erect, forked tongue protruding, and eyes flaming like satanic
A shout appraised Captain Bennett of his danger. He dropped the
book, sprang to his feet with a quickness that matched the snake's,
and instinctively drew his sword. Stepping a little to one side
as the reptile launched itself at him, he dexterously cut it in two
with a sweeping stroke. A shout of applause rose from the excited
boys, who gathered around to inspect the slain serpent and congratulate
the Captain upon his skillful disposition of his assailant.
"O, that's only my old bat-stroke that used to worry the boys in
town-hall so much," said the Captain carelessly. "It's queer what
things turn out useful to a man, and when he least expects them."
A long, ringing yell from a thousand throats cleft the air, and with
its last notes came the rattle of musketry from the brow of the
hill across the little ravine. The bullets sang viciously overhead.
They cut the leaves and branches with sharp little crashes, and
struck men's bodies with a peculiar slap. A score of men in the
disordered group fell back dead or dying upon the green moss.
"Of course, we might've knowed them muddle-headed officers 'd run
us right slap into a hornets' nest of Rebels before they knowed a
thing about it," grumbled Abe Bolton, hastily tearing a cartridge
with his teeth, and forcing it into his gun.
"Hold on, my weak-kneed patriot," said Kent Edwards, catching Jake
Alspaugh by the collar, and turning him around so that he faced
the enemy again. "It's awful bad manners to rush out of a matinee
just as the performance begins. You disturb the people who've
come to enjoy the show. Keep you seat till the curatin goes down.
You'll find enough to interest you."
The same sudden inspiration of common-sense that had flashed upon
Captain Bennett, in encountering the snake now raised him to the
level of this emergency. He comprehended that the volley they had
received had emptied every Rebel gun. The distance was so short
that the enemy could be reached before they had time to re-load.
But no time must be lost in attempting to form, or in having the
order regularly given by the Colonel. He sprang toward the enemy,
waving his sword, and shouted in tones that echoed back from the
"Attention, BATTALION! Charge bayonets! FORWARD, DOUBLE-QUICK,
A swelling cheer answered him. His own company ran forward to
follow his impetuous lead. The others joined in rapidly. Away
they dashed down the side of the declivity, and in an instant more
were swarming up the opposite side toward the astonished Rebels.
Among these divided councils reigned. Some were excited snapping
unloaded guns at the oncoming foe; others were fixing bayonets,
and sturdily urging their comrades to do likewise, and meet the
rushing wave of cold steel with a counter wave. The weaker-hearted
ones were already clambering up the mountain-side out of reach of
There was no time for debate. The blue line led by Bennett flung
itself upon the dark-brown mass of Rebels like an angry wave dashing
over a flimsy bank of sand, and in an instant there was nothing
to be done but pursue the disrupted and flying fragments. It was
Chapter III. A Race.
"Some have greatness thrust upon them." -- Twelfth Night.
The unexpected volley probably disturbed private Jacob Alspaugh's
mind more than that of any other man in the regiment. It produced
there an effect akin to the sensation of nauseous emetic in his
He had long enjoyed the enviable distinction of being the "best
man" among combative youths of Sardis, and his zeal and invariable
success in the fistic tournaments which form so large a part of
the interest in life of a certain class of young men in villages,
had led his townsmen to entertain extravagant hopes as to his
achievements in the field.
But, like most of his class, his courage was purely physical, and
a low order of that type. He was bold in those encounters where
he knew that his superior strength and agility rendered small the
chances of his receiving any serious bodily harm, but of that high
pride and mounting spirit which lead to soldierly deeds he had
The sight of the dying men on each side shriveled his heart with
a deadly panic.
"O, Kent," he groaned, "Lemme go, and let's git out o' here. This's
just awful, and it'll be ten times wuss in another minnit. Let's
git behind that big rock there, as quick as the Lord'll let us."
He turned to pull away from Kent's detaining hand, when he heard
Captain Bennett's order to the regiment to charge, and the hand
relaxed its hold. Jake faced to the front again and saw Kent and
Abe Bolton, and the rest of the boys rush forward, leaving him and
a score of other weak-kneed irresolutes standing alone behind.
Again he thought he would seek the refuge of the rock, but at that
moment the Union line swept up to the Rebels, scattering them as
a wave does dry sand.
Jake's mental motions were reasonably rapid. Now he was not long
in realizing that all the danger was past, and that he had an
opportunity of gaining credit cheaply. He acted promptly. Fixing
his bayonet, he gave a fearful yell and started forward on a run
for the position which the regiment had gained.
He was soon in the lead of the pursuers, and appeared, by his
later zeal, to be making amends for his earlier tardiness. As he
ran ahead he shouted savagely:
"Run down the hellions! Shoot 'em! Stab 'em! Bay'net 'em! Don't
let one of 'em git away."
There is an excitement in a man-chase that is not even approached
by any other kind of hunting, and Jake soon became fairly intoxicated
He quickly overtook one or two of the slower-paced Rebels, who
surrendered quietly, and were handed by him over to the other boys
as they came up, and conducted by them to the rear.
Becoming more excited he sped on, entirely unmindful of how far he
was outstripping his comrades.
A hundred yards ahead of him was a tall, gaunt Virginian, clad
in butternut-colored jeans of queer cut and pattern, and a great
bell-crowned hat of rough, gray beaver. Though his gait was shambling
and his huge splay feet rose and fell in the most awkward way, he
went over the ground with a swiftness that made it rather doubtful
whether Jake was gaining on him at all. But the latter was encouraged
by the sings of his chase's distress. First the bell-crowned hat
flew off and rolled behind, and Jake could not resist the temptation
to give it a kick which sent it spinning into a clump of honeysuckles.
Then the Rebel flung off a haversack, whose flapping interfered
with his speed, and this was followed by a clumsily-constructed
cedar canteen. The thought flashed into Jake's mind that this was
probably filled with the much-vaunted peach-brandy of that section;
and as ardent sprits were one of his weaknesses, the temptation to
stop and pick up the canteen was very strong, but he conquered it
and hurried on after his prey. Next followed the fugitive's belt,
loaded down with an antique cartridge-box, a savage knife made from
a rasp and handled with buckhorn, and a fierce-looking horse-pistol
with a flint-lock.
"I seemed to be bustin' up a moosyum o' revolutionary relics," said
Jake afterward, in describing the incident. "The feller dropped
keepsakes from his forefathers like a bird moltin' its feathers
on a windy day. I begun to think that if I kep up the chase purty
soon he'd begin to shed Continental money and knee-britches."
The fugitive turned off to the right into a narrow path that wound
through the laurel thickets. Jake followed with all the energy
that remained in him, confident that a short distance more would
bring him so close to his game that he could force his surrender
by a threat of bayoneting. He caught up to within a rod of the
Rebel, and was already foreshortening his gun for a lunge in case
of refusal to surrender on demand, when he was amazed to see the
Rebel whirl around, level his gun at him, and order HIS surrender.
Jake was so astonished that he stumbled, fell forward and dropped
his gun. As he raised his eyes he saw three or four other Rebels
step out from behind a rock, and level their guns upon him with an
expression of bloodthirstiness that seemed simply fiendish.
Then it flashed upon him how far away he was from all his comrades,
and that the labyrinth of laurel made them even more remote. With
this realization came the involuntary groan:
"O, Lordy! it's all up with me. I'm a goner, sure!"
His courage did not ooze out of his fingers, like the historic Bob
Acres's; it vanished like gas from a rent balloon. He clasped his
hands and tried to think of some prayer.
"Now I lay me," he murmured.
"Shan't we shoot the varmint?" said one of the Rebels, with a motion
of his gun in harmony with that idea.
"O, mister--mister--GOOD mister, DON'T! PLEASE don't! I swear I
didn't mean to do no harm to you."
"Wall, ye acted monty quare fur a man that didn't mean no harm,"
said the pursued man, regaining his breath with some difficulty.
"A-chasin' me down with thet ar prod on yer gun, an' a-threatenin'
to stick hit inter me at every jump. Only wanted ter see me run,
"O, mister, I only done it because I wuz ordered to. I couldn't
help myself; I swear I couldn't."
"Whar's the ossifers thet wuz a-orderin' ye? Whar's the captins
that wuz puttin' ye up ter hit? Thar wan't no one in a mile of
ye. Guess we'd better shoot ye."
Again Jake raised his voice in abject appeal for mercy. There was
nothing he was not willing to promise if only his life were only
"Wouldn't hit be better ter bay'net him?" suggested one of the
Rebels, entirely unmoved, as his comrades were, by Jake's piteous
pleadings. "Ef we go ter shootin' 'round yere hit'll liekly bring
the Yankees right onter us."
"I 'spect hit would be better ter take him back a little ways, any
way," said the man whom Jake had pursued. "Pick up his gun thar,
Eph. Come along, you, an' be monty peart about hit, fur we're in
a powerful bad frame o' mind ter be fooled with. I wouldn't gin a
fi'-penny-bit fur all yer blue-bellied life's worth. The boys ar
jest pizen mad from seein' so many o' thar kin and folks killed by
yer crowd o' thievin' Hessians."
Grateful for even a momentary respite, Jake rose from his knees
with alacrity and humbly followed one of the Rebels along the path.
The others strode behind, and occasionally spurred him into a more
rapid pace with a prick from their bayonets.
"O,---ough, mister, don't do that! Don't, PLEASE! You don't know
how it hurts. I ain't got no rhinoceros skin to stand such jabs
as that. That came purty nigh goin' clean through to my heart."
"Skeet ahead faster, then, or the next punch'll go righ smack through
ye, fur sartin. Ef yer skin's so tender what are ye doin' in the
They climbed the mountain laboriously, and started down on the
other side. About midway in the descent they came upon a deserted
cabin standing near the side of the road.
"By the Lord Harry," said one of the Rebels, "I'm a'most done clean
gin out, so I am. I'm tireder nor a claybank hoss arter a hard
day's plowin', an' I'm ez dry ez a lime-kiln. I motion that we
stop yere an' take a rest. We kin put our Yank in the house thar,
an' keep him. I wonder whar the spring is that the folks thet
lived yere got thar water from?"
"Ef I don't disremember," said another, "this is the house where
little Pete Higgenbottom lived afore the country got ruther onhelthy
fur him on account of his partiality for other people's hosses. I
made a little trip up yere the time I loss thet little white-faced
bay mar of pap's, an I'm purty sure the spring's over thar in the
"Lordy, how they must 've hankered arter the fun o' totin' water to
've lugged hit clar from over tha. I'd've moved the house nigher
the spring afore I'd've stood thet ere a month, so I would."
"The distance to the water ortent to bother a feller thet gets
along with usin' ez little ez you do," growled the first speaker.
"A man whose nose looks like a red-pepper pod in August, and his
shirt like a section o' rich bottom land, hain't no great reason
ter make remarks on other folks's use o' water."
Jake plucked up some courage from the relaxation in the savage grimness
of his captors, which seemed implied by this rough pleasantry, and
with him such recuperation of spirits naturally took the form of
"Don't you fellers know," he began with a manner and tone intended
to be placating, but instead was rasping and irritating, "don't you
fellers know that the best thing you can do with me is to take me
back to our people, and trade me off for one of your fellers that
"An' don't ye know thet the best thing ye kin do is to keep thet
gapin' mouth o' your'n shet, so thet the flies won't git no chance
to blow yer throat?" said the man whose nose had been aptly likened
to a ripe red-pepper pod, "an' the next best thing's fur ye to git
inter that cabin thar quicker'n blazes 'll scorch a feather, an'
stay thar without makin' a motion toward gittin' away. Git!" and
he made a bayonet thrust at Jake that tore open his blouse and shirt,
and laid a great gaping wound along his breast. Jake leaped into
the cabin and threw himself down upon the puncheon floor.
"Thar war none of our crowd taken," said another of the squad, who
had looked on approvingly. "They wuz all killed, an' the only way
to git even is ter send ye whar they are."
Jake made another earnest effort to recall one of the prayers he
had derided in his bad boyhood.
Leaving the red-nosed man to guard the prisoner, the rest of the
Rebels started for the hollow, in search of water to cool their
They had gained such a distance from the scene of the fight, and
were in such an out-of-the-way place, that the thought of being
overtaken did not obtrude itself for an instant, either upon their
minds or Jake's.
But as they came back up the hill, with a gourd full of spring water
for their companion, they were amazed to see a party of blue-coats
appear around the bend of the road at a little distance. They
dropped the gourd of water, and yelled to the man on guard:
"Kill the Yank, an' run for yer life!" and disappeared themselves,
in the direction of the spring.
The guard comprehended the situation and the order. He fired his
gun at Jake, but with such nervous haste as to destroy the aim,
and send the charge into the puncheon a foot beyond his intended
victim, and then ran off with all speed to join his companions.
the Union boys sent a few dropping shots after him, all of which
missed their mark.
Jake managed to recover his nerves and wits sufficiently to stagger
to the door as his comrades came up, and grasp one of the guns the
Rebels had left.
Questions and congratulations were showered upon him, but he
replied incoherently, and gasped a request for water, as if he were
perishing from thirst. While some hunted for this, others sought
for traces of the Rebels; so he gained time to fix up a fairly
presentable story of a desperate and long-continued bayonet struggle
in which he was behaving with the greatest gallantry, although
nearly hopeless of success, when the arrival of help changed the
aspect of matters. He had so many gaping wounds to confirm the
truth of this story, that it was implicitly believed, and he was
taken back to camp as on e of the foremost heroes of that eventful
day. The Colonel made him a Sergeant as soon as he heard the
tale, and regretted much that he could not imitate the example of
the great Napoleon, and raise him to a commission, on the scene of
his valiant exploits. His cot at the hospital was daily visited
by numbers of admiring comrades, to whom he repeated his glowing
account of the fight, with marked improvements in manner and detail
accompanying every repetition.
He had no desire to leave the hospital during his term of service,
but his hurts were all superficial and healed rapidly, so that
in a fortnight's time the Surgeon pronounced him fit to return to
duty. He cursed inwardly tha officer's zeal in keeping the ranks
as full as possible, and went back to his company to find it
preparing to go into another fight.
"Hello, Jake," said his comrades, "awful glad to see you back. Now
you'll have a chance to get your revenge on those fellows. There'll
be enough of us with you to see that you get a fair fight."
"To the devil with their revenge and a fair fight," said Jake to
himself. That evening he strolled around to the headquarters tent,
and said to the commander of the regiment:
"Colonel, the doctor seems to think that I'm fit to return to duty,
but I don't feel all right yet. I've a numbness in my legs, so
that I kin hardly walk sometims. It's my old rheumatics, stirred
up by sleeping out in the night air. I hear that the man who's
been drivin' the headquarters wagin has had to go to the hospital.
I want to be at something, even if I can't do duty in the ranks,
and I'd like to take his place till him and me gets well."
"All right, Sergeant. You can have the place as long as you wish,
or any other that I can give you. I can't do too much for so brave
So it happened that in the next fight the regiment was not gratified
by any thrilling episodes of sanguinary, single-handed combats,
between the indomitable Jake and bloodthirsty Rebels.
He had deferred his "revenge" indefinitely.
Chapter IV. Disgrace.
For of fortune's sharp adversitie
The worst kind of infortune is this:
A man that hath been in prosperitie,
And it remember when it passed is.
Harry Glen's perfect self-complacency did not molt a feather when
the victors returned to camp flushed with their triumph, which, in
the eyes of those inexperienced three-months men, had the dimensions
of Waterloo. He did not know that in proportion as they magnified
their exploit, so was the depth of their contempt felt for those of
their comrades who had declined to share the perils and the honors
of the expedition with them. He was too thoroughly satisfied with
himself and his motives to even imagine that any one could have
just cause for complaint at anything he chose to do.
This kept him from understanding or appreciating the force of the
biting innuendoes and sarcasms which were made to his very face;
and he had stood so aloof from all, that there was nobody who
cared to take the friendly trouble of telling him how free the camp
conversation was making with his reputation.
He could not help, however, understanding that in some way he had
lost caste with the regiment: but he serenely attributed this to
mean-spirited jealousy of the superior advantages he was enjoying,
and it only made him more anxious for the coming of the time when
he could "cut the whole mob of beggars," as Ned Burnleigh phrased
A few days more would end the regiment's term of service, and he
readily obtained permission to return him in advance.
The first real blow his confidence received was when he walked down
the one principal street of Sardis, and was forced to a perception
of the fact that there was an absence of that effusive warmth with
which the Sardis people had ever before welcomed back their young
townsman, of whose good looks and gentlemanliness they had always
been proud. Now people looked at him in a curious way. They turned
to whisper to each other, with sarcastic smiles and knowing winks,
as he came into view, and they did not come forward to offer him
their hands as of old. It astonished him that nobody alluded to
the company or to anything that had happened to it.
Turning at length from the main street, he entered the lateral one
leading to his home. As he did so, he heard one boy call out to
another in that piercing treble which boys employ in making their
confidential communications to one another, across a street,
"S-a-y-, did you know that Hank Glen 'd got back? and they say he
looks pale yet?"
"Has he?" the reply came in high falsetto, palpably tinged with that
fine scorn of a healthy boy, for anything which does not exactly
square with his young highness's ideas. "Come back to mammy, eh?
Well, it's a pity she ever let him go away from her. Hope she'll
keep him with her now. He don't seem to do well out of reach of
her apron strings."
The whole truth flashed upon him: Envious ones had slandered him
at home, as a coward.
He walked onward in a flurry of rage. The thought that he had done
anything to deserve criticism could not obtrude itself between the
joints of his triple-plated armor of self-esteem.
A swelling contempt for his village critics flushed his heart.
"Spiteful, little-minded country boobies," he said to himself with
an impatient shake of his head, as if to adjust his hair, which
was his usual sign of excitement, "they've always hated me because
I was above them. They take advantage of the least opportunity to
show their mean jealousy."
After a moment's pause: "But I don't care. I'd a little rather
have their dislike than their good-will. It'll save me a world
of trouble in being polite to a lot of curs that I despise. I'm
going to leave this dull little burg anyhow, as soon as I can get
away. I'm going to Cincinnati, and be with Ned Burnleigh. There
is more life there in a day than here in a year. After all,
there's nobody here that I care anything for, except father and
A new train of thought introduced itself at this tardy remembrance
of his betrothed. His heat abated. He stopped, and leaning against
a shady silver maple began anew a meditation that had occupied
his mind very frequently since that memorable night under the old
apple tree on the hill-top.
There had been for him but little of that spiritual exaltation
which made that night the one supreme one in Rachel's existence;
when the rapture of gratified pride and love blended with the
radiant moonlight and the subtle fragrance of the flowers into a
sweet symphony that would well chord with the song the stars sang
together in the morning.
He was denied the pleasure that comes from success, after harrowing
doubts and fears. His unfailing consciousness of his own worth
had left him little doubt that a favorable answer would promptly
follow when he chose to propose to Rachel Bond, or to any other
girl, and when this came with the anticipated readiness, he could
not help in the midst of his gratification at her assent the intrusion
of the disagreeable suspicion that, peradventure, he had not done
the best with his personal wares that he might. Possibly there
would appear in time some other girl, whom he might prefer to
Rachel, and at all events there was no necessity for his committing
himself when he did, for Rachel "would have kept," as Ned Burnleigh
coarsely put it, when made the recipient of Harry's confidence.
Three months of companionship with Ned Burnleigh, and daily
imbibation of that young man's stories of his wonderful conquests
among young women of peerless beauty and exalted social station
confirmed this feeling, and led him to wish for at least such
slackening of the betrothal tether as would permit excursions into
a charmed realm like that where Ned reigned supreme.
For the thousandth time--and in each recurrence becoming a little
clearer defined and more urgent--came the question:
"Shall I break with Rachel? How can I? And what possible excuse
can I assign for it?"
There came no answer to this save the spurs with which base
self-love was pricking the sides of his intent, and he recoiled
from it--ashamed of himself, it is true, but less ashamed at each
renewed consideration of the query.
He hastened home that he might receive a greeting that would efface
the memory of the reception he had met with in the street. There,
at least, he would be regarded as a hero, returning laurel-crowned
from the conflict.
As he entered the door his father, tall, spare and iron-gray, laid
down the paper he was reading, and with a noticeable lowering of
the temperature of his wonted calm but earnest cordiality, said
"How do you do? When did you get in?"
"Very well, and on the 10:30 train."
"Did all your company come?"
Harry winced, for there was something in his father's manner, more
than his words, expressive of strong disapproval. He answered:
"No; I was unwell. The water and the exposure disagreed with me,
and I was allowed to come on in advance."
Mr. Glen, the elder, carefully folded the paper he was reading and
laid it on the stand, as if its presence would embarrass him in
what he was about to say. He took off his eye-glasses, wiped them
deliberately, closed them up and hesitated for a moment, holding
them between the thumb and fore finger of one hand, before placing
them in their case, which he had taken from his pocket with the
These were all gestures with which experience had made Harry
painfully familiar. He used to describe them to his boy intimates
as "the Governor clearing for action." There was something very
disagreeable coming, and he awaited it apprehensively.
"Were you"--the father's cold, searching eyes rested for
an instant on the glasses in his hand, and then were fixed on his
son's face--"were you too ill the day of the fight to accompany
Harry's glance quailed under the penetrating scrutiny, as was his
custom when his father subjected him to a relentless catechism;
then he summoned assurance and assumed anger.
"Father," he said, "I certainly did not expect that you would join
these mean-spirited curs in their abuse of me, but now I see that---"
"Henry, you evade the question." The calm eyes took on a steely
hardness. "You certainly know by this time that I always require
direct answers to my questions. Now the point is this: You entered
this company to be its leader, and to share all its duties with
it. It went into a fight while you remained back in camp. Why
was this so? Were you too sick to accompany it?"
"I certainly was not feeling well."
"Were you too ill to go along with your company?"
there was enough without me, and--I--I--"
"That is sufficient," said the elder man with a look of scorn that
presently changed into one of deeply wounded pride. "Henry, I know
too well your disposition to shirk the unpleasant duties of life,
to be much surprised that, when tried by this test, you were found
wanting. But this wounds me deeply. People in Sardis think my
disposition hard and exacting; they think I care for little except
to get all that is due me. But no man here can say that in all
his long life Robert Glen shirked or evaded a single duty that he
owed to the community or his fellow-men, no matter how dangerous or
disagreeable that duty might be. To have you fail in this respect
and to take and maintain your place in the front rank with other
men is a terrible blow to my pride."
"O, Harry, is that you?" said his mother, coming into the room at
that moment and throwing herself into her son's arms. "I was lying
down when I heard your voice, and I dressed and hurried down as
quickly as possible. I am so glad that you have come home all safe
and well. I know that you'll contradict, for your poor mother's
sake, all these horrible stories that are worrying her almost to
"Unfortunately he has just admitted that those stories are
substantially true," said the father curtly.
"I won't believe it," sobbed his mother, "until he tells me so
himself. You didn't, did you, back out of a fight, and let that
Bob Bennett, whose mother used to be my sewing girl, and whom I
supported for months after he was born, and his father died with
the cholera and left her nothing, by giving her work and paying
her cash, and who is now putting on all sorts of airs because
everybody's congratulating her on having such a wonderful son, and
nobody's congratulating me at all, and sometimes I almost which I
Clearness of statement was never one of Mrs. Glen's salient
characteristics. Nor did deep emotion help her in this regard.
Still it was only too evident that the fountains of her being were
moved by having another woman's son exalted over her own. Her
maternal pride and social prestige were both quivering under the
Harry met this with a flank movement.
"You both seem decidedly disappointed that I did not get myself
wounded or killed," he said.
"That's an unmanly whimper," said his father contemptuously.
"Why, Harry, Bob Bennett didn't get either killed or wounded," said
his mother with that defective ratiocination which it is a pretty
woman's privilege to indulge in at her own sweet will.
Harry withdrew from the mortifying conference under the plea of
the necessity of going to his room to remove the grime of travel.
He was smarting with rage and humiliation. His panoply of conceit
was pierced for the first time since the completion of his collegiate
course sent him forth into the world a being superior, in his own
esteem, to the accidents and conditions that the mass of inferior
mortals are subject to. Yet he found reasons to account for his
parent's defection to the ranks of his enemies.
"It's no new thing," he said, while carefully dressing for a call
upon Rachel in the evening, "for father to be harsh and unjust to
me, and mother has one of her nervous spells, when everything goes
wrong with her."
"Anyhow," he continued, "there's Ned Burnleigh, who understands
me and will do me justice, and he amounts to more than all of
Sardis--except Rachel, who loves me and will always believe that
what I do is right."
He sat down at his desk and wrote a long letter to Ned, inveighing
bitterly against the stupidity and malice of people living in small
villages, and informing him of his intention to remove to Cincinnati
as soon as an opening could be found for him there, which he begged
Ned to busy himself in discovering.
Attired in his most becoming garb, and neglecting nothing that
could enhance his personal appearance, he walked slowly up the
hill in the evening to Rachel Bond's house. The shrinkage which
his self-sufficiency had suffered had left room for a wonderful
expansion of his affection for Rachel, whose love and loyalty were
now essential to him, to compensate for the falling away of others.
The question of whether he should break with her was now one the
answering of which could be postponed indefinitely. There was no
reason why he should not enjoy the sweet privileges of an affianced
lover during his stay in Sardis. What would happen afterward would
depend upon the shape that things took in his new home.
He found Rachel sitting on the piazza. Though dressed in the deepest
and plainest black she had never looked so surpassingly beautiful.
As is usually the case with young women of her type of beauty, grief
had toned down the rich coloring that had at times seemed almost
too exuberant into that delicate shell-like tint which is the
perfection of nature's painting. Her round white arms shone like
Juno's, as the outlines were revealed by the graceful motions which
threw back the wide sleeves. Her wealth of silken black hair was
drawn smoothly back from her white forehead, over her shapely head,
and gathered into a simple knot behind. Save a black brooch at
her throat, she wore no ornaments--not even a plain ring.
She rose as Harry came upon the piazza, and for a moment her face
was rigid with intensity of feeling. This evidence of emotion went
as quickly as it came, however, and she extended her hand with calm
dignity, saying simply:
"You have returned, Mr. Glen."
In his anxiety to so play the impassioned lover as to conceal the
recreancy he had fostered in his own heart, Harry did not notice
the coolness of this greeting. Then, too, his self-satisfaction
had always done him the invaluable service of preventing a ready
perception of the repellant attitudes of others.
He came forward eagerly to press a kiss upon her lips, but she
checked him with uplifted hand.
"O, the family's in there, are they?" said he, looking toward the
open windows of the parlor. "Well, what matter? Isn't it expected
that a fellow will kiss his affianced wife on his return, and not
care who knows it?"
He pointed to the old apple-tree where they had plighted their troth
that happy night, with a gesture and a look that was a reminder of
their former meeting and an invitation to go thither again. She
comprehended, but refused with a shudder, and, turning, motioned
him to the farther end of the piazza, to which she led the way,
moving with a sweeping gracefulness of carriage that Harry thought
had wonderfully ripened and perfected in the three months that had
elapsed since their parting.
"'Fore gad," he said to himself. (This was a new addition to
his expletory vocabulary, which had accrued from Ned Burnleigh's
companionship.) "I'd like to put her alongside of one of the
girls that Ned's always talking about. I don't believe she's got
her equal anywhere."
Arriving at the end of the piazza he impetuously renewed his attempt
at an embrace, but her repulse was now unmistakable.
"Sit down," she said, pointing to a chair; "I have something to
say to you."
Harry's first thought was a rush of jealously. "Some rascal has
supplanted me," he said bitterly, but under his breath.
She took a chair near by, put away the arm he would have placed
about her waist, drew from her pocket a dainty handkerchief bordered
with black, and opened it deliberately. It shed a delicate odor
Harry waited anxiously for her to speak.
"This mourning which I wear," she began gently, "I put on when I
received the news of your downfall."
"My downfall?" broke in Harry hotly. "Great heavens, you don't
say that you, too, have been carried away by this wretched village
"I put it on," she continued, unmindful of the interruption, "because
I suffered a loss which was greater than any merely physical death
could have occasioned."
"I don't understand you."
"My faith in you as a man superior to your fellows died then. This
was a much more cruel blow than your bodily death would have been."
"'Fore gad, you take a pleasant view of my decease--a much cooler
one, I must confess, than I am able to take of that interesting
event in my history."
Her great eyes blazed, and she seemed about to reply hotly, but
she restrained herself and went on with measured calmness:
"The reason I selected you from among all other men, and loved you,
and joyfully accepted as my lot in life to be your devoted wife and
helpmate, was that I believed you superior in all manly things to
other men. Without such a belief I could love no man."
She paused for an instant, and Harry managed to stammer:
"But what have I done to deserve being thrown over in this unexpected
"You have not done anything. That is the trouble. You have failed
to do that which was rightfully expected of you. You have allowed
others, who had no better opportunities, to surpass you in doing
your manly duty. Whatever else my husband may not be he must not
fail in this."
"Rachel, you are hard and cruel."
"No, I am only kind to you and to myself. I know myself too well
to make a mistake in this respect. I have seen too many women
who have been compelled to defend, apologize, or blush for their
husband's acts, and have felt too keenly the abject misery of their
lives to take the least chance of adding myself to their sorrowful
number. If I were married to you I could endure to be beaten by
you and perhaps love you still, but the moment I was compelled to
confess your inferiority to some other woman's husband I should
hate you, and in the end drag both of us down to miserable graves."
"But let me explain this."
"It would be a waste of time," she answered coldly. "It is sufficient
for me to know that you are convicted by general opinion of having
failed where a number of commonplace fellows succeeded. You,
yourself, admit the justice of this verdict by tame submission
to it, making no effort to retrieve your reputation. I can not
understand how this could be so if you had any of the qualities
that I fondly imagined you possessed in a high degree. But this
interview is being protracted to a painful extent. Let us say good
night and part."
"Forever?" he stammered.
She held out her hand for farewell. Harry caught it and would have
carried it to his lips, but she drew it away.
"No; all that must be ended now," she said, with the first touch
of gentleness that had shaded her sad, serious eyes.
"Will you give me no hope?" said Harry, pleadingly.
"When you can make people forget the past--if ever--" she said,
"then I will change this dress and you can come back to me."
She bowed and entered the house.
Chapter V. The Lint-scraping and Bandage-making Union.
At length I have acted my severest part:
I feel the woman breaking in upon me,
And melt about my heart: My tears will flow.
Rachel Bond's will had carried her triumphantly through a terrible
ordeal--how terrible no one could guess, unless he followed her
to her room after the interview and saw her alone with her agony.
She did not weep. Tears did not lie near the surface with her. The
lachrymal glands had none of that ready sensitiveness which gives
many superficial women the credit of deep feeling. But when she
did weep it was not an April shower, but a midsummer tempest.
Now it was as if her intense grief were a powerful cautery which
seared and sealed every duct of the fountain of tears and left her
eyes hot and dry as her heart was ashes.
With pallid face and lips set until the blood was forced from them,
and they made a thin purplish line in the pale flesh, she walked
the floor back and forth, ever back and forth, until a half-stumble,
as she was turning in a dreary round, revealed to her that she was
almost dropping from exhaustion.
She had thought her love for Harry had received its death-blow when
her pride in him had been so rudely shattered. But this meeting,
in which she played the part set for herself with a brave perfection
that she had hardly deemed possible, had resurrected every dear
memory, and her passion sprung into life again to mock and jeer
at her efforts to throttle it out of existence. With him toppling
from the pedestal on which her husband must stand, she had told
herself that there was naught left but to roll a great stone against
the sepulcher in which her love must henceforth lie buried, hopeless
of the coming of any bright angle to unseal the gloomy vault. Yet,
despite the entire approval given this by her judgment, her woman's
heart cried bitterly for a return of the joys out of which the
beauty had fled forever.
Hours passed in this wrestle with pain. How many she did not know,
but when she came forth it was with the composure of one who had
fought the fight and won the victory, but at a cost that forbade
There was one ordeal that thus far she had not been called upon to
endure. From the day on which she had donned her sable robes to
that of Harry's return no one had ventured to speak his name in
her presence. Even her father and mother, after the first burst
of indignation, had kept silence in pity for her suffering, and
there was that in her bearing that forbade others touching upon a
subject in her hearing that elsewhere was discussed with the hungry
avidity of village gossips masticating a fresh scandal.
But she could not be always spared thus. She had not been so
careful of the feelings of less favored women and girls, inferior
to her in brightness, as to gain any claim for clement treatment
now, when the displacement of a portion of her armor of superiority
gave those who envied or disliked her an unprotected spot upon
which to launch their irritating little darts.
All the sewing, dorcas and mite societies of the several churches
in Sardis had been merged into one consolidated Lint-Scraping and
Bandage-Making Union, in whose enlarged confines the waves of gossip
flowed with as much more force and volume as other waves gain when
the floods unite a number of small pools into one great lake.
In other days a sensational ripple starting, say in the Episcopalian
"Dorcas," was stilled into calmness ere it passed the calm and
stately church boundaries. It would not do to let its existence be
even suspected by the keen eyes of the freely-censorious Presbyterian
dames, or the sharp-witted, agile-tongued Methodist ladies.
And, much as these latter were disposed to talk over the weaknesses
and foibles of their absent sisters in the confidential environments
of the Mite Society or the Sewing Circle, they were as reluctant
to expose these to the invidious criticisms of the women of the
other churches as if the discussed ones had been their sisters in
fact, and not simply through sectarian affiliation. Church pride,
if nothing else, contributed to the bridling of their tongues, and
checking the free circulation of gossip.
"Them stuck-up Presbyterian and Episcopalian women think little
enough on us now, the land knows," Mrs. Deborah Pancake explained
to a newly-received sister, whom she was instructing in elementary
duties. "There's no use giving 'em more reason for looking down upon
us. We may talk over each other's short-comings among ourselves,
private like, because the Bible tells us to admonish and watch
over each other. But it don't say that we're to give outsiders
any chance to speak ill of our sisters-in-Christ."
And Mrs. Euphrosyne Pursifer remarked to the latest agreeable
accession to the parish of St. Marks, with that graceful indirection
that gave her the reputation in Sardis of being a feminine Talleyrand:
"Undoubtedly the ladies in these outside denominations are very
worthy women, dear, but a certain circumspection seems advisable
in conversing with them on subjects that we may speak of rather
freely among ourselves."
The rising fervor of the war spirit melted away most of these
barriers to a free interchange of gossip. With the first thrill of
pleasure at finding that patriotism had drawn together those whom
the churches had long held aloof came to all the gushing impulse
to cement the newly-formed relationship by confiding to each other
secrets heretofore jealously guarded. Nor should be forgotten the
"narrative stimulus" every one feels on gaining new listeners to
It was so graciously condescending in Mrs. Euphrosyne Pursifer to
communicate to Mrs. Elizabeth Baker some few particulars in which
her aristocratic associates of St. Marks had grieved her by not
rising to her standard of womanly dignity and Christian duty, that
Mrs. Baker in turn was only too happy to reciprocate with a similar
confidence in regard to her intimate friends of Wesley Chapel.
It was this sudden lapsing of all restraint that made the waves of
gossip surge like sweeping billows.
And the flotsam that appeared most frequently of late on their
crests, and that was tossed most relentlessly hither and thither,
was Rachel Bond's and Harry Glen's conduct and relations to each
The Consolidated Lint-scraping and Bandage-making Union was holding
a regular session, and gossip was at spring-tide.
"It is certainly queer," said Mrs. Tufis, one of her regulation
smiles illuminating her very artificial countenance; "it is singular
to the last degree that we don't have Miss Rachel Bond among us.
She is such a LOVELY girl. I am very, very fond of her, and her
heart is thoroughly in unison with our objects. It would seem
impossible for her to keep away."
All this with the acrid sub-flavor of irony and insincerity with
which an insincere woman can not help tainting even her most sincere
"Yes," said Mrs. Tabitha Grimes, with a premeditated acerbity
apparent even in the threading of her needle, into the eye of which
she thrust the thread as if piercing the flesh of an enemy with a
barb; "yes;" she pulled the thread through with a motion as if she
enjoyed its rasping against the steel. "Rachel Bond started into
this work quite as brash as Harry Glen started into the war. Her
enthusiasm died out about as quickly as his courage, when it came
to the actual business, and she found there was nobody to admire
her industry, or the way she got herself up, except a parcel of
The milk of human kindness had begun to curdle in Mrs. Grimes's
bosom, at an early and now rather remote age. Years of unavailing
struggle to convince Mr. Jason Grimes that more of his valuable
time should be devoted to providing for the wants of his family,
and less to leading the discussion on the condition of the country
in the free parliament that met around the stove in the corner
grocery, had carried forward this lacteal fermentation until it
had converted the milky fluid into a vinegarish whey.
"Well, why not?" asked Elmira Spelter, the main grief of whose life
was time's cruel inflexibility in scoring upon her face unconcealable
tallies of every one of his yearly flights over her head, "why
shouldn't she enjoy these golden days? Youth is passing, to her
and to all of us, like an arrow from the bow. It'd be absurd for
her to waste her time in this stuffy old place, when there are so
many more attractive ones. It ought to be enough that those of us
who have only a few remnants of beauty left, should devote them to
"Well," snapped Mrs. Grimes, "your donation of good looks to the
cause--even if you give all you got--will be quite modest, something
on the widow's mite order. You might easily obey the scriptural
injunction, and give them with your right hand without your left
knowing what was being done."
Elmira winced under this spiteful bludgeoning, but she rallied and
came back at her antagonist.
"Well, my dear," she said quietly, "the thought often occurs to
me, that one great reason why we both have been able to keep in the
straight and narrow path, is the entire lack of that beauty which
so often proves a snare to the feet of even the best-intentioned
It was Mrs. Grimes's turn to wince.
"A hit! a palpable hit!" laughed pretty Anna Bayne, who studied
and quoted Shakespeare.
"The mention of snares reminds me," said Mrs. Grimes, "that I, at
least, did not have to spread any to catch a husband."
"No," returned Elmira, with irritating composure, "the poorer kinds
of game are caught without taking that trouble."
"Well"--Mrs. Grimes's temper was rising so rapidly that she was
losing her usual skill in this verbal fence--"Jason Grimes, no
doubt, has his faults, as all men have; but he is certainly better
than no husband at all."
"That's the way for you to think," said Elmira, composedly, disregarding
the thrust at her own celibacy. "It's very nice in you to take
so cheerful a view of it. SOMEBODY had to marry him, doubtless,
and it's real gratifying to see one accepting the visitations of
Providence in so commendable a spirit."
To use the language of diplomacy, the relations between these ladies
had now become so strained that a rupture seemed unavoidable.
"Heavens, will this quarrel ne'er be mended?" quoted Anna Bayne, not
all sorry that these veteran word-swordsmen, dreaded by everybody,
were for once turning their weapons on each other.
Peace-making was one of the prerogatives assumed by Mrs. Tufis, as
belonging to the social leadership to which she had elected herself.
She now hastened to check the rapidly-opening breach.
"Ladies," she said blandly, "the discussion has wandered. Our first
remarks were, I believe about Miss Bond, and there was a surmise
as to her reasons for discontinuing attendance upon our meetings."
The diversion had the anticipated effect. The two disputants
gladly quit each other, to turn upon and rend the object flung in
"Why Rachel Bond don't come here any more?" said Mrs. Grimes, with
a sniff that was one of the keenest-edged weapons in her controversial
armory. "When you know how little likely she is to do anything
that's not going to be for her benefit in some way. She's mighty
particular in everything, but more particular in that than in
"I'll admit that there is reason to suspect a strain of selfishness
in Rachel's nature," said Anna Bayne; "but it's the only blemish
among her many good qualities. Still, I think you do her an
injustice in attributing her absence from our meetings to purely
"Of course, we all know what you mean," said Elmira. "She set her
cap for Harry Glen, and played her cards so openly and boldly--"
"I should say 'shamelessly,'" interrupted Mrs. Grimes.
"Shamelessly, my dear?" This from Mrs. Tufis, as if in mild
"Shamelessly," repeated Mrs. Grimes, firmly.
"Well, so shamelessly, if you choose," continued Elmira, "as to
incur the ill-will of all the rest of the girls--"
"Whom she beat at a game in which they all played their best,"
"That's an unworthy insinuation," said Elmira, getting very red.
"At least, no one can say I played any cards for that stake."
"Wasn't it because all your trumps and suit had been played out
in previous games?" This from Mrs. Grimes, whose smarting wounds
still called for vengeance.
For an instant a resumption of hostilities was threatened. Mrs.
Tufis hastened to interpose:
"There's no doubt in my mind that the poor, dear girl really took
very deeply to heart the stories that have been circulated about
Harry Glen's conduct, though there are people ready to say that she
was quite willing to play the role of the stricken one. It really
makes her look very interesting. Mourning and the plain style of
wearing her hair suit her very, VERY well. I do not think I ever
saw her looking so lovely as she has lately, and I have heard quite
a number of GENTLEMEN say the same thing.
"If she'd had real spirit," said Mrs. Grimes, "she'd have dropped
Harry Glen without all this heroine-of-a-yellow-covered-novel
demonstration, and showed her contempt of the fellow by going ahead
just as usual, pretending that his conduct was nothing to her;
but she's a deep one. I'll venture anything she's got a well-laid
scheme, that none of us dream of."
"Mrs. Tufis,"--it was the calm, even tones of Rachel Bond's voice
that fell upon the startled ears of the little coterie of gossipers.
She had glided in unobserved by them in the earnestness of their
debate. "How long has she been here and what has she heard?" was
the thrilling question that each addressed to herself. When they
summoned courage to look up at her, they saw her standing with
perfectly composed mien, her pale face bearing the pensive expression
it had worn for weeks. With subdued and kindly manner she returned
the affectionate greetings that each bestowed on her, in imitation of
Mrs. Tufis, who was the first to recover her wits and then continued:
"Mrs. Tufis, I come to you, as president of this society, to apologize
for my absence from so many of your meetings, and to excuse myself
on the ground of indisposition." (Mrs. Grimes darted a significant
look at Elmira.) "I also want to announce that, as I have determined
to join the corps of nurses for the field hospitals, which Miss Dix,
of New York, is organizing, and as I will start for the front soon,
I shall have to ask you to excuse me from any farther attendance
upon your meetings, and drop my name from your roll."
She replied pleasantly to a flood of questions and expostulations,
which the crowd that gathered around poured upon her, and turning,
walked quietly away to her home.
Chapter VI. The Awakening.
The nobler nature within him stirred
To life, at that woman's deed and word.
Deeper emotions than he had felt before in all his life of shallow
aimlessness stirred Harry Glen's bosom as he turned away from the
door which Rachel Bond closed behind her with a decisive promptness
that chorded well with her resolute composure during the interview.
This blow fell much more heavily than any that had preceded
it, because it descended from the towering height to which he had
raised his expectations of an ardent greeting from a loving girl,
eagerly watching for his return.
As was to be expected from one of his nature, he forgot entirely
his ruminations upon the advisability of discarding her, and the
difficulty he experienced in devising a plan whereby this could
be done easily and gracefully. He only thought of himself as the
blameless victim of a woman's fickleness. The bitter things he
had read and heard of the sex's inconstancy rose in his mind, as
acrid bile sometimes ascends in one's throat.
"Here," he said to himself, "is an instance of feminine perfidy
equal to anything that Byron ever sneered at. This girl, who was
so proud to receive my attentions a little while ago, and who so
gladly accepted me for her promised husband, now turns away at the
slightest cloud of disapproval falling upon me. And to think, too,
how I have given her all my heart, and lavished upon her a love as
deep and true as ever a man gave a woman."
He was sure that he had been so badly used as to have sufficient
grounds for turning misanthrope and woman-hater. Thin natures are
like light wines and weak syrups in the readiness with which they
The moon had risen as it did on that eventful betrothal-night.
Again the stars had sunk from sight in the sea of silver splendor
rolling from the round, full orb. Again the roadway down the hill
lay like a web of fine linen, bleaching upon an emerald meadow.
Again the clear waters of the Miami rippled in softly merry music
over the white limestone of their shallow bed. Again the river,
winding through the pleasant valley, framed in gently rising
hill-sides, appeared as great silver ribbon, decorating a mass
of heavily-embroidered green velvet. Again Sardis lay at the foot
of the hills, its coarse and common place outlines softened into
glorious symmetry by the moonlight's wondrous witchery.
He stopped for a moment and glanced at the old apple-tree, under
which they had stood when
"Their spirits rushed together at the meeting of their lips."
But its raiment of odorous blossoms was gone. Instead, it bore a
load of shapeless, sour, unripened fruit. Instead of the freshling
springing grass, at its foot was now a coarse stubble. Instead of
the delicately sweet breath of violets and fruit blooms scenting
the evening air came the heavy, persistent perfume of tuberoses,
and the mawkish scent of gaudy poppies.
"Bah, it smells like a funeral," he said, and he turned away and
walked slowly down the hill. "And it is one. My heart and all my
hopes lie buried at the foot of that old apple-tree."
It had been suggested that much of the sympathy we lavish upon
martyrs is wanton waste, because to many minds, if not in fact to
all, there is a positive pleasure in considering oneself a martyr.
More absolute truth is contained in this than appears at the first
blush. There are very few who do not roll under their tongues as
a sweet morsel the belief that their superior goodness or generosity
has brought them trouble and affliction from envious and wicked
So the honey that mingled with the gall and hysop of Harry Glen's
humiliation was the martyr feeling that his holiest affections
had been ruthlessly trampled upon by a cold-hearted woman. His
desultory readings of Byron furnished his imagination with all
the woful suits and trappings necessary to trick himself out as a
On his way home he had to pass the principal hotel in the place,
the front of which on Summer evenings was the Sardis forum for the
discussion of national politics and local gossip. As he approached
quietly along the grassy walk he overheard his own name used. He
stepped back into the shadow of a large maple and listened:
"Yes, I seen him as he got off the train," said Nels Hathaway,
big, fat, lazy, and the most inveterate male gossip in the village.
"And he is looking mighty well--yes, MIGHTY well. I said to Tom
Botkins, here, 'what a wonderful consitution Harry Glen has, to be
sure, to stand the hardships of the field so well.'"
The sarcasm was so evident that Harry's blood seethed. The Tim
Botkins alluded to had been dubbed by Basil Wurmset, the cynic and
wit of the village, "apt appreciation's artful aid." Red-haired,
soft eyed, moon-faced, round of belly and lymphatic of temperament,
his principal occupation in life was to play fiddle in the Sardis
string-band, and in the intervals of professional engagements at
dances and picnics, to fill one of the large splint-bottomed chairs
in front of the hotel with his pulpy form, and receive the smart
or bitter sayings of the loungers there with a laught that began
before any one else's, and lasted after the others had gotten
through. His laugh alone was as good as that of all the rest of
the crowd. It was not a hearty, resonant laugh, like that from
the mouth of a strong-lunged, wholesome-natured man, which has the
mellow roundness of a solo on a French horn. It was a slovenly,
greasy, convictionless laugh, with uncertain tones and ill-defined
edges. Its effect was due to its volume, readiness, and long
continuance. Swelling up of the puffy form, and reddening ripples
of the broad face heralded it, it began with a contagious cackle,
it deepened into a flabby guffaw, and after all the others roundabout
had finished their cachinnatory tribute it wound up with what was
between a roar and the lazy drone of a bagpipe.
It now rewarded Nels Hathaway's irony, and the rest of the loungers
joined in. Encouraged, Nels continued, as its last echoes died
"Yes, he's just as spry and pert as anybody. He seems to have
recovered entirely from all his wounds; none of 'em have disfiggered
him any, and his nerves have got over their terrible strain."
Tim ran promptly through all the notes in his diapason, and the
rest joined in on the middle register.
"Well, I'm not at all surprised," said Mr. Oldunker, a bitter
States' Rights Democrat, and the oracle of his party. "I told you
how it'd be from the first. Harry Glen was one of them Wide-Awakes
that marched around on pleasant evenings last Fall with oil-cloth
capes and kerosene lamps. I told you that those fellows'd be no
where when the war they were trying to bring on came. I'm not at
all astonished that he showed himself lily-livered when he found
the people that he was willing to rob of their property standing
ready to fight for their homes and their slaves."
"Ready to shoot into a crowd of unsuspecting men, you mean," sneered
Basil Wurmset, "and then break their own cursed necks when they
saw a little cold steel coming their way."
Tim came in promptly with his risible symphony.
"Well, they didn't run away from any cold steel that Harry Glen
displayed," sneered Oldunker.
Tim's laugh was allegro and crescendo at the first, and staccato
at the close.
"You seem to forget that Capt. Bob Bennett was a Wide-Awake, too,"
retorted Wurmset, "though you might have remembered it from his
having threatened to lick you for encouraging the boys to stone
the lamps in the procession."
Tim cackled, gurgled and roared.
Nels Hathaway had kept silent as long as he could. He must put
his oar into the conversational tide.
"I'd give six bits," he said, "to know how the meeting between him
and Rachel Bond passes off. He's gone up to the house. The boys
seen him, all dressed up his best. But his finery and his perfumed
hankerchiefs won't count anything with her, I can tell YOU. She
comes of fighting stock, if ever a woman did. The Bonds and
Harringtons--her mother's people--are game breeds, both of 'em,
and stand right on their record, every time. She'll have precious
little traffic with a white-feathered fellow. I think she's been
preparing for him the coldest shoulder any young feller in Sardis's
got for many a long day."
There was nothing very funny in this speech, but a good deal of
risible matter had accumulated in Tim's diaphragm during its delivery
which he had to get rid of, and he did.
Harry had heard enough. While Tim's laugh yet resounded he walked
away unnoticed, and taking a roundabout course gained his room.
There he remained a week, hardly coming down to his meals. It
was a terrible week for him, for every waking hour of it he walked
through the valley of humiliation, and drank the bitter waters of
shame. The joints of his hitherto impenetrable armor of self-conceit
had been so pierced by the fine rapier thrusts of Rachel's scorn
that it fell from him under the coarse pounding of the village
loungers and left him naked and defenseless to their blows. Every
nerve and sense ached with acute pain. He now felt all of his
father's humiliation, all his mother's querulous sorrow, all his
betrothed's anguish and abasement.
Thoughts of suicide, and of flying to some part of the country
where he was entirely unknown, crowded upon him incessantly. But
with that perversity that nature seemingly delights in, there had
arisen in his heart since he had lost her, such a love for Rachel
Bond as made life without her, or without her esteem even, seem
valueless. To go into a strange part of the country and begin
life anew would be to give her up forever, and this he could not
do. It would be much preferable to die demonstrating that he was
in some degree worthy of her. And a latent manly pride awakened and
came to his assistance. He could not be the son of his proud,
iron-willed father without some transmission of that sire's
courageous qualities. He formed his resolution: He would stay in
Sardis, and recover his honor where he had lost it.
At the end of the week he heard the drums beat, the cannon fire,
and the people cheer. The company had come home, and was marching
proudly down the street to a welcome as enthusiastic as if its members
were bronzed veterans returning victoriously from a campaign that
had lasted for years.
His mother told him the next day that the company had decided to
re-enlist for three years or duration of the war, and that a meeting
would be held that evening to carry the intention into execution.
When the evening came Harry walked into the town hall, dressed as
carefully as he had prepared himself for his visit with Rachel.
He found the whole company assembled there, the members smoking,
chatting with their friends, and recounting to admiring hearers
the wonderful experiences they had gone through. The enlistment
papers were being prepared, and some of the boys who had not been
examined during the day were undergoing the surgeon's inspection
in an adjoining room.
Harry was coldly received by everybody, and winced a little under
this contrast with the attentions that all the others were given.
At last all the papers and rolls seemed to be signed, and there
was a lull in the proceedings. Harry rose from his seat, as if to
address the meeting. Instantly all was silence and attention.
"Comrades," he said, in a firm, even voice, "I have come to say to
you that I feel that I made a mistake during our term of service,
and I want to apologize to you for my conduct then. More than
this, I want to redeem myself. I want to go with you again, and
have another chance to---"
He was interrupted by an enthusiastic shout from them all.
"Hurrah! Bully for Lieutenant Glen! Of couse we'll give you
another show. Come right along in your old place, and welcome."
There was but one dissenting voice. It was that of Jake Alspaugh:
"No, I'll be durned if we want ye along any more. We've no place
for sich fellers with us. We only want them as has sand in their
But the protest was overslaughed by the multitude of assents. At
the first interval of silence Harry said:
"No, comrades, I'll not accept a commission again until I'm sure I
can do it credit. I'll enlist in the company on the same footing
as the rest of the boys, and share everything with you. Give the
lieutenancy to our gallant comrade Alspaugh, who has richly earned
The suggestion was accepted with more enthusiastic cheering,
and Harry, going up to the desk, filled out an enlistment blank,
signed it and the company roll, and retired with the surgeon for
the physical examination. This finished, he slipped out unnoticed
and went to his home. On his way thither he saw Rachel as she passed
a brilliantly lighted show-window. She was in traveling costume,
and seemed to be going to the depot. She turned her head slightly
and bowed a formal recognition.
As their eyes met he saw enough to make him believe that what he
had done met her approval.
Chapter VII. Pomp and Circumstances of Glorious War.
But man, proud man,
Dressed in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assured,
* * * * * Plays such fantastic tricks before high
Heaven As make the angels weep, who, with our spleens, Would all
themselves laugh mortal. --Measure for Measure
"Abe, you remember how that man who made the speech when our
colors were presented to us talked of 'the swelling hearts of our
volunteers,' don't you?" said Kent Edwards, as he and Abe Bolton
lounged near the parade-ground one fine afternoon, shortly after