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  • 1890
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but just awoke when the doctor drove up at ten o’clock. He found the inflammation and swelling so much abated that he was able at once to proceed to search for the ball. Chloe was his assistant. Lucy felt that her nerves would not be equal to it, and Dan’s hand shook so that he could not hold the basin. In a quarter of an hour, which seemed to Lucy to be an age, the doctor came out of the room.

“There is the bullet, Miss Kingston.”

“And is he much hurt, sir?”

“It is a nasty wound,” the doctor replied. “The collarbone is badly broken, and I fancy the head of the bone of the upper arm, to put it in language you will understand, is fractured; but of that I cannot be quite sure. I will examine it again to-morrow, and will then bandage it in its proper position. At present I have only put a bandage round the arm and body to prevent movement. I should bathe it occasionally with warm water, and you can give him a little weak broth to-day. I think, on the whole, he is doing very well. The feeling that you are all for the present safe from detection has had as much to do with the abatement of the fever as my medicine.”

The next morning the report was still satisfactory. The fever had almost disappeared, and Vincent was in good spirits. The doctor applied the splints to keep the shoulder up in its proper position, and then tightly bandaged it.

“It depends upon yourself now,” he said, “whether your shoulders are both of the same width as before or not. If you will lie quiet, and give the broken bones time to reunite, I think I can promise you that you will be as straight as before; but if not–putting aside the chances of inflammation–that shoulder will be lower than the other, and you will never get your full strength in it again. Quiet and patience are the only medicines you require, and as there can be no particular hurry for you to get south, and as your company here is pleasant and you have two good nurses, there is no excuse for your not being quiet and contented.”

“Very well, doctor. I promise that unless there is a risk of our being discovered I will be as patient as you can wish. As you say, I have everything to make me contented and comfortable.”

The doctor had a chat with Lucy, and agreed with her that perhaps it would be better to inform the mistress of the house that there were strangers there. Some of the people living along the road might notice him going or coming, or see Dan on his way to market, and might come and ascertain that the house was inhabited, and communicate the fact to their old neighbor.

“I will see her myself, Miss Kingston, and tell her that I have sent a patient of mine to take up his quarters here. I will say he is ready to pay some small sum weekly as long as he occupies the house. I have no doubt she would be willing enough to let you have it without that; for although I shall say nothing actually I shall let her guess from my manner that it is a wounded Confederate, and that will be enough for her. Still, I have no doubt that the idea of getting a few dollars for the rent of an empty house will add to her patriotism. People of her class are generally pretty close-fisted, and she will look upon this as a little pocket-money. Good-by! I shall not call to-morrow, but will be round next day again.”

On his next visit the doctor told Lucy that he had arranged the matter with her landlady, and that she was to pay a dollar a week as rent. “I should not tell your patient about this,” he said. “It will look to him as if I considered his stay was likely to be a long one, and it might fidget him.”

“How long will it be, doctor, do you think?”

“That I cannot say. If all goes well, he ought in a month to be fairly cured; but before starting upon a journey which will tax his strength, I should say at least six weeks.”

Ten days later Vincent was up, and able to get about. A pile of grass had been heaped up by the door, so that he could sit down in the sun and enjoy the air. Lucy was in high spirits, and flitted in and out of the house, sometimes helping Chloe, at others talking to Vincent.

“What are you laughing at?” she asked as she came out suddenly on one of these occasions.

“I was just thinking,” he said, “that no stranger who dropped in upon us would dream that we were not at home here. There is Dan tidying up the garden; Chloe is quite at her ease in the kitchen, and you and I might pass very well for brother and sister.”

“I don’t see any likeness between us–not a bit.”

“No, there is no personal likeness; but I meant in age and that sort of thing. I think, altogether, we have a very homelike look.”

“The illusion would be very quickly dispelled if your stranger put his head inside the door. Did any one ever see such a bare place?”

“Anyhow, it’s very comfortable,” Vincent said, “though I grant that it would be improved by a little furniture.”

“By a great deal of furniture, you mean. Why, there isn’t a chair in the house, nor a carpet, nor a curtain, nor a cupboard, nor a bed; in fact all there is is the rough dresser in the kitchen and that plank table, and your bedstead. I really think that’s all. Chloe has the kettle and two cooking-pots, and there is the dish and six plates we bought.”

“You bought, you mean,” Vincent interrupted.

“We bought, sir; this is a joint expedition. Then, there is the basin and a pail. I think that is the total of our belongings.”

“Well, you see, it shows how little one can be quite comfortable upon,” Vincent said. “I wonder how long it will be before the doctor gives me leave to move. It is all very well for me who am accustomed to campaigning, but it is awfully rough for you.”

“Don’t you put your impatience down to my account, at any rate until you begin to hear me grumble. It is just your own restlessness, when you are pretending you are comfortable.”

“I can assure you that I am not restless, and that I am in no hurry at all to be off on my own account. I am perfectly contented with everything. I never thought I was lazy before, but I feel as if I could do with a great deal of this sort of thing. You will see that you will become impatient for a move before I do.”

“We shall see, sir. Anyhow, I am glad you have said that, because now whatever you may feel you will keep your impatience to yourself.”

Another four weeks passed by smoothly and pleasantly. Dan went into the village once a week to do the shopping, and the doctor had reduced his visits to the same number. He would have come oftener, for his visits to the lonely cottage amused him; but he feared that his frequent passage in his buggy might attract notice. So far no one else had broken the solitude of their lives. If the doctor’s calls had been noticed, the neighbors had not taken the trouble to see who had settled down in Jenkins’ old place. His visits were very welcome, for he brought newspapers and books, the former being also purchased by Dan whenever he went into the village, and thus they learned the course of events outside.

Since Antietam nothing had been done in Northern Virginia; but Burnside, who had succeeded McClellan, was preparing another great army, which was to march to Richmond and crush out the rebellion. Lee was standing on the defensive. Along the whole line of the frontier, from New Orleans to Tennessee, desultory fighting was going on, and in these conflicts the Confederates had generally the worse of things, having there no generals such as Lee, Jackson, and Longstreet, who had made the army of Virginia almost invincible.

At the last of these visits the doctor told Vincent that he considered he was nearly sufficiently restored in health to be able to start on their journey.

“It is a much better job than I had expected it would turn out. I was almost afraid that your shoulder would never be quite square again. However, as you can see for yourself it has come out quite right; and although I should not advise you to put any great strain on your left arm, I believe that in a very short time it will be as strong as the other.”

“And now, doctor, what am I in debt to you? Your kindness cannot be repaid, but your medical bill I will discharge as soon as I get home. We have not more than twenty dollars left between us, which is little enough for the journey there is before us. You can rely that the instant I get to Richmond I will send you the money. There is no great difficulty in smuggling letters across the frontier.”

“I am very pleased to have been able to be of service to you,” the doctor said. “I should not think of accepting payment for aid rendered to an officer of our army; but it will give me real pleasure to receive a letter saying you have reached home in safety. It is a duty to do all we can for the brave men fighting for our cause. As I have told you, I am not a very hot partisan, for I see faults on both sides. Still, I believe in the principle of our forefathers, that each State has its own government and is master of its own army, joining with the others for such purposes as it may think fit. If I had been a fighting man I should certainly have joined the army of my State; but as it is, I hope I can do more good by staying and giving such aid and comfort as I can to my countrymen. You will, I am sure, excuse my saying that I think you must let me aid you a little further. I understand you to say that Miss Kingston will go to friends in Georgia, and I suppose you will see her safely there. Then you have a considerable journey to make to Richmond, and the sum that you possess is utterly inadequate for all this. It will give me real pleasure if you will accept the loan of one hundred dollars, which you can repay when you write to me from Richmond. You will need money for the sake of your companions rather than your own. When you have once crossed the line you will then be able to appear in your proper character.”

“Thank you greatly, doctor. I will accept your offer as frankly as it is made. I had intended telegraphing for money as soon as I was among our own people, but there would be delay in receiving it, and it will be much more pleasant to push on at once.”

“By the way, you cannot cross at Florence, for I hear that Hood has fallen back across the river, the forces advancing against him from this side being too strong to be resisted. But I think that this is no disadvantage to you, for it would have been far more difficult to pass the Federals and get to Florence than to make for some point on the river as far as possible from the contending armies.”

“We talked that over the last time you were here, doctor, and you know we agreed it was better to run the risk of falling into the hands of the Yankee troops than into those of one of those partisan bands whose exploits are always performed at a distance from the army. However, if Hood has retreated across the Tennessee there is an end of that plan, and we must take some other route. Which do you advise?”

“The Yankees will be strong all round the great bend of the river to the west of Florence and along the line to the east, which would, of course, be your direct way. The passage, however, is your real difficulty, and I should say that instead of going in that direction you had better bear nearly due south. There is a road from Mount Pleasant that strikes into the main road from Columbia up to Camden. You can cross the river at that point without any question or suspicion, as you would be merely traveling to the west of the State. Once across you could work directly south, crossing into the State of Mississippi, and from there take train through Alabama to Georgia.

“It seems a roundabout way, but I think you would find it far the safest, for there are no armies operating upon that line. The population, at any rate as you get south, are for us, and there are, so far as I have heard, very few of these bushwhacking bands about either on one side or the other. The difficult part of the journey is that up to Camden, but as you will be going away from the seat of war instead of toward it there will be little risk of being questioned.”

“I had thought of buying a horse and cart,” Vincent said. “Jogging along a road like that we should attract no attention. I gave up the idea because our funds were not sufficient, but, thanks to your kindness, we might manage now to pick up something of the sort.”

The doctor was silent for a minute.

“If you will send Dan over to me to-morrow afternoon I will see what can be done,” he said. “It would certainly be the safest plan by far; but I must think it over. You will not leave before that, will you?”

“Certainly not, doctor. In any case we should have stayed another day to get a few more things for our journey.”

The next afternoon Dan went over to Mount Pleasant. He was away two hours longer than they had expected, and they began to feel quite uneasy about him, when the sound of wheels was heard, and Dan appeared coming along the road driving a cart. Vincent gave a shout of satisfaction, and Lucy and the negress ran out from the house in delight.

“Here am de cart. Me had to go to five miles from de town to get him. Dat what took me so long. Here am a letter, sah, from the doctor. First-rate man dat Good man all ober.”

The letter was as follows:

“My Dear Mr. Wingfield: I did not see how you would be able to buy a cart, and I was sure that you could not obtain one with the funds in your possession. As from what you have said I knew that you would not in the least mind the expense, I have taken the matter upon myself, and have bought from your landlady a cart and horse, which will, I think, suit you well. I have paid for them a hundred and fifty dollars, which you can remit me with the hundred I handed you yesterday. Sincerely trusting that you may succeed in carrying out your plans in safety, and with kind regards to yourself and Miss Kingston,

“I remain, yours truly,

“James Spencer.”

“That is a noble fellow,” Vincent said, “and I trust, for his sake as well as our own, that we shall get safely through. Now, Lucy, I think you had better go into the town the first thing and buy some clothes of good homely fashion. What with the water and the bushes your dress is grievously dilapidated, to say the least of it. Dan can go with you and buy a suit for me–those fitted for a young farmer. We shall look like a young farmer and his sister jogging comfortably along to market; we can stop and buy a stock of goods at some farm on the way.”

“That will be capital,” the girl said. “I have been greatly ashamed of my old dress, but knowing we were running so short, and that every dollar was of consequence, I made the best of it; now that we are in funds we can afford to be respectable.”

Lucy started early the next morning for the town, and the shopping was satisfactorily accomplished. They returned by eleven o’clock. The new purchases were at once donned, and half an hour later they set off in the cart, Vincent sitting on the side driving, Lucy in the corner facing him on a basket turned topsy-turvy, Dan and Chloe on a thick bag of rushes in the bottom of the cart.

CHAPTER XIV. ACROSS THE BORDER.

Dan on his return with the cart had brought back a message from its late owner to say that if she could in any way be of use to them she should be glad to aid them. Her farm lay on the road they were now following, and they determined therefore to stop there. As the cart drew up at the door the woman came out.

“Glad to see you,” she said; “come right in. It’s strange now you should have been lodging in my house for more than six weeks and I should never have set eyes on you before. The doctor talked to me a heap about you, but I didn’t look to see quite such a young couple.”

Lucy colored hotly and was about to explain that they did not stand in the supposed relationship to each other, but Vincent slightly shook his head. It was not worth while to undeceive the woman, and although they had agreed to pass as brother and sister Vincent was determined not to tell an untruth about it unless deceit was absolutely necessary for their safety.

“And you want to get out of the way without questions being asked, I understand?” the woman went on. “There are many such about at present. I don’t want to ask no questions; the war has brought trouble enough on me. Now is there anything I can do? If so, say it right out.”

“Yes, there is something you can do for us. We want to fill up our cart with the sort of stuff you take to market–apples and pumpkins, and things of that sort. If we had gone to buy them anywhere else there might have been questions asked. From what the doctor said you can let us have some.”

“I can do that. The storeroom’s chuck full; and it was only a few days ago I said to David it was time we set about getting them off. I will fill your cart, sir; and not overcharge you neither. It will save us the trouble of taking it over to Columbia or Camden, for there’s plenty of garden truck round Mount Pleasant, and one cannot get enough to pay for the trouble of taking them there.”

The cart was soon filled with apples, pumpkins, and other vegetables, and the price put upon them was very moderate.

“What ought we to ask for these?” Vincent soon inquired. “One does not want to be extra cheap or dear.”

The woman informed them of the prices they might expect to get for the produce; and they at once started amid many warm good wishes from her.

Before leaving the farm the woman had given them a letter to her sister who lived a mile from Camden.

“It’s always awkward stopping at a strange place,” she said, “and farmers don’t often put up at hotels when they drive in with garden truck to a town, though they may do so sometimes; besides it’s always nice being with friends. I will write a line to Jane and tell her you have been my tenants at Woodford and where you are going, and ask her to take you in for the night and give you a note in the morning to any one she or her husband may know a good bit along that road.”

When they reached the house it was dark, but directly Vincent showed the note the farmer and his wife heartily bade them come in.

“Your boy can put up the horse at the stable, and you are heartily welcome. But the house is pretty full, and we can’t make you as comfortable as we should wish at night; but still we will do our best.”

Vincent and Lucy were soon seated by the fire. Their hostess bustled about preparing supper for them, and the children, of whom the house seemed full, stared shyly at the newcomers. As soon as the meal was over, Chloe’s wants were attended to, and a lunch of bread and bacon taken out by the farmer to Dan in the stables. The children were then packed off to bed, and the farmer and his wife joined Vincent and Lucy by the fire.

“As to sleeping,” the woman said, “John and I have been talking it over, and the best way we can see is that you should sleep with me, ma’am, and we will make up a bed on the floor here for my husband and yours.”

“Thank you–that will do very nicely; though I don’t like interfering with your arrangements.”

“Not at all, ma’am, not at all, it makes a nice change having some one come in, especially of late, when there is no more pleasure in going about in this country, and people don’t go out after dark more than they can help. Ah! it’s a bad time. My sister says you are going west, but I see you have got your cart full of garden truck. How you have raised it so soon I don’t know; for Liza wrote to me two months since as she hadn’t been able to sell her place, and it was just a wilderness. Are you going to get rid of it at Camden to-morrow?”

Vincent had already been assured as to the politics of his present host and hostess, and he therefore did not hesitate to say:

“The fact is, madam, we are anxious to get along without being questioned by any Yankee troops we may fall in with; and we have bought the things you see in the cart from your sister, as, going along with a cart full, any one we met would take us for farmers living close by on their road to the next market-town.”

“Oh, oh! that’s it!” the farmer said significantly. “Want to get through the lines, eh?”

Vincent nodded.

“Didn’t I think so!” the farmer said, rubbing his hands. “I thought directly my eyes hit upon you that you did not look the cut of a granger. Been fighting–eh? and they are after you?”

“I don’t think they are after me here,” Vincent said. “But I have seen a good deal of fighting with Jackson and Stuart; and I am just getting over a collar-bone which was smashed by a Yankee bullet.”

“You don’t say!” the farmer exclaimed. “Well, I should have gone out myself if it hadn’t been for Jane and the children. But there are such a lot of them that I could not bring myself to run the chance of leaving them all on her hands. Still, I am with them heart and soul.”

“Your wife’s sister told me that you were on the right side,” Vincent said, “and that I could trust you altogether.”

“Now, if you tell me which road you want to go, I don’t mind if I get on my horse to-morrow and ride with you a stage, and see you put for the night. I know a heap of people, and I am sure to be acquainted with some one whichever road you may go. We are pretty near all the right side about here, though, as you get further on, there are lots of Northern men. Now, what are your ideas as to the roads?”

Vincent told him the route he intended to take.

“You ought to get through there right enough,” the farmer said. “There are some Yankee troops moving about to the west of the river, but not many of them; and even if you fell in with them, with your cargo of stuff they would not suspect you. Anyhow, I expect we can get you passed down so as always to be among friends. So you fought under Jackson and Stuart, did you? Ah, they have done well in Virginia! I only wish we had such men here. What made you take those two darkies along with you? I should have thought you would have got along better by yourself.”

“We couldn’t very well leave them,” Vincent said; “the boy has been with me all through the wars, and is as true as steel. Old Chloe was Lucy’s nurse, and would have broken her heart had she been left behind.”

“They are faithful creatures when they are well treated. Mighty few of them have run away all this time from their masters, though in the parts the Yankees hold there is nothing to prevent their bolting if they have a mind to it. I haven’t got no niggers myself. I tried them, but they want more looking after than they are worth; and I can make a shift with my boys to help me, and hiring a hand in busy times to work the farm. Now, sir, what do you think of the look-out?”

The subject of the war fairly started, his host talked until midnight, long before which hour Lucy and the farmer’s wife had gone off to bed.

“We will start as soon as it is light,” the farmer said, as he and Vincent stretched themselves upon the heap of straw covered with blankets that was to serve as their bed, Chloe having hours before gone up to share the bed of the negro girl who assisted the farmer’s wife in her management of the house and children.

“It’s best to get through Camden before people are about. There are Yankee soldiers at the bridge, but it will be all right you driving in, however early, to sell your stuff. Going out you ain’t likely to meet with Yankees; but as it would look queer, you taking your garden truck out of the town, it’s just as well to be on the road before people are about. Once you get five or six miles the other side you might be going to the next place to sell your stuff.”

“That is just what I have been thinking,” Vincent said, “and I agree with you the earlier we get through Camden the better.”

Accordingly as soon as daylight appeared the horse was put in the cart, the farmer mounting his own animal, and with a hearty good-by from his wife the party started away. The Yankee sentinels at each end of the bridge were passed without questions, for early as it was the carts were coming in with farm produce. As yet the streets of the town were almost deserted, and the farmer, who before starting had tossed a tarpaulin into the back of the cart, said:

“Now, pull that over all that stuff, and then any one that meets us will think that you are taking out bacon and groceries and such like for some store way off.”

This suggestion was carried out, and Camden was soon left behind. A few carts were met as they drove along. The farmer knew some of the drivers and pulled up to say a few words to them. After a twenty-mile drive they stopped at another farm, where their friend’s introduction ensured them as cordial a welcome as that upon the preceding evening. So step by step they journeyed on, escorted in almost every case by their host of the night before and meeting with no interruption. Once they passed a strong body of Federal cavalry, but these supposing that the party belonged to the neighborhood asked no questions; and at last, after eight days’ traveling, they passed two posts which marked the boundary between Tennessee and Alabama.

For the last two days they had been beyond the point to which the Federal troops had penetrated. They now felt that all risk was at an end. Another day’s journey brought them to a railway station, and they learned that the trains were running as usual, although somewhat irregular as to the hours at which they came along or as to the time they took upon their journey. The contents of the cart had been left at the farm at which they stopped the night before, and Vincent had now no difficulty in disposing of the horse and cart, as he did not stand out for price, but took the first offer made. Two hours later a train came along, and the party were soon on their way to the east. After many hours’ traveling they reached Rome, in Georgia, and then proceeded by the southern line a few miles to Macon, at which place they alighted and hired a conveyance to take them to Antioch, near which place Lucy’s relatives resided.

The latter part of the journey by rail had been a silent one. Lucy felt none of the pleasure that she had expected at finding herself safely through her dangers and upon the point of joining relations who would be delighted to see her, and she sat looking blankly out of the window at the surrounding country. At last Vincent, who had been half an hour without speaking, said: “Are you sorry our journey is just over, Lucy ?”

The girl’s lip quivered, but she did not speak for a moment. “Of course it is unpleasant saying good-by when people have been together for some time,” she said with an effort.

“I hope it will not be good-by for long,” he said. “I shall he back here as soon as this horrible war is over.”

“What for?” the girl asked, looking round in surprise. “You live a long way from here, and you told me you knew nobody in these parts.”

“I know you,” Vincent said, “and that is quite enough. Do you not know that I love you?”

The girl gave a start of surprise, her cheek flushed, but her eyes did not drop as she looked frankly at him.

“No, Vin,” she said after a pause, “I never once thought you loved me, never once. You have not been a bit like what I thought people were when they felt like that.”

“I hope not, Lucy. I was your protector then, that is to say when you were not mine. Your position has been trying enough, and I should have been a blackguard if I had made it more uncomfortable than it was by showing you that I cared for you. I have tried my best to be what people thought me–your brother; but now that you are just home and among your own people, I think I may speak and tell you how I feel toward you and how I have loved you since the moment I first saw you. And you, Lucy, do you think you could care for me?”

“Not more than I do now, Vin. I love you with all my heart. I have been trying so hard to believe that I didn’t, because I thought you did not care for me that way.”

For some minutes no further word was spoken. Vincent was the first to speak:

“It is horrid to have to sit here in this stiff, unnatural way, Lucy, when one is inclined to do something outrageous from sheer happiness. These long, open cars, where people can see from end to end what every one is doing, are hateful inventions. It is perfectly absurd, when one finds one’s self the happiest fellow living, that one is obliged to look as demure and solemn as if one was in church.”

“Then you should have waited, sir,” the girl said.

“I meant to have waited, Lucy, until I got to your home, but directly I felt that there was no longer any harm in my speaking, out it came; but it’s very hard to have to wait for hours perhaps.”

“To wait for what?” Lucy asked demurely.

“You must wait for explanations until we are alone, Lucy. And now I think the train begins to slacken, and it is the next station at which we get out.”

“I think, Lucy,” Vincent said, when they approached the house of her relatives, “you and Chloe had better get out and go in by yourselves and tell your story. Dan and I will go to the inn, and I will come round in an hour. If we were to walk in together like this it would be next to impossible for you to explain how it all came about.”

“I think that would be the best plan. My two aunts are the kindest creatures possible, but no doubt they will be bewildered at seeing me so suddenly. I do think it would be best to let me have a talk with them and tell them all about it before you appear upon the scene.”

“Very well, then, in an hour I will come in.”

When they arrived at the gate, therefore, Vincent helped Lucy and Chloe to alight, and then jumping into the buggy again told the driver to take him to the inn.

Having engaged a room and indulged in a thorough wash Vincent sallied out into the little town, and was fortunate enough to succeed in purchasing a suit of tweed clothes, which, although they scarcely fitted him as if they had been made for him, were still an immense improvement upon the rough clothes in which he had traveled. Returning to the hotel he put on his new purchases, and then walked to the house of Lucy’s aunts, which was a quarter of a mile outside the town.

Lucy had walked up the little path through the garden in front of the house, and turning the handle of the door had entered unannounced and walked straight into the parlor. Two elderly ladies rose with some surprise at the entry of a strange visitor. It was three years since she had paid her last visit there, and for a moment they did not recognize her.

“Don’t you know me, aunts?”

“Why, goodness me!” the eldest exclaimed, “if it isn’t our little Lucy grown into a woman! My dear child, where have you sprung from?” And the two ladies warmly embraced their niece, who, as soon as they released her from their arms, burst into a fit of crying, and it was some time before she could answer the questions showered upon her.

“It is nothing, aunts,” she said at last, wiping her eyes; “but I am so glad to be with you again, and I have gone through so much, and I am so happy, and it is so nice being with you again. Here is Chloe waiting to speak to you, aunts. She has come with me all the way.”

The old negress, who had been waiting in the passage, was now called in.

“Why, Chloe, you look no older than when you went away from here six years ago,” Miss Kingston said. “But how ever did you both get through the lines? We have been terribly anxious about you. Your brother was here only a fortnight ago, and he and your father were in a great way about you, and reproached themselves bitterly that they did not send you to us before the troubles began, which certainly would have been a wiser step, as I told them. Of course your brother said that when they left you to join the army they had no idea that matters were going so far, or that the Yankees would drive us out of Tennessee, or they would never have dreamed of leaving you alone. However, here you are, so now tell me all about it.”

Lucy told the story of the various visits of the Federal bushwhackers to the house, and how they had narrowly escaped death for refusing to betray the Confederate officer who had come to the house for food. Her recital was frequently interrupted by exclamations of indignation and pity from her aunts.

“Well, aunts, after that,” she went on, “you see it was impossible for me to stop there any longer. No doubt they came back again a few hours afterward and burned the house, and had I been found there I should have been sure to be burned in it, so Chloe agreed with me that there was nothing to do but to try and get through the lines and come to you. There was no way of my getting my living at Nashville except by going out as a help, and there might have been some difficulties about that.”

“Quite right, my dear. It was clearly the best thing for you to come to us–indeed, the only thing. But how in the world did you two manage to travel alone all that distance and get through the Federal lines?”

“You see, we were not alone, aunts,” Lucy said; “the Confederate officer and his servant were coming through, and of course they took care of us. We could never have got through alone, and as Chloe was with me we got on very nicely; but we have been a long time getting through, for in that fight, where he saved my life and killed five of the band, he had his shoulder broken by a pistol bullet, and we had to stop in a farmhouse near Mount Pleasant, and he was very ill for some time, but the doctor who attended him was a true Southerner, and so we were quite safe till he was able to move again.”

“And who is this officer, Lucy?” Miss Kingston asked rather anxiously.

“He is a Virginian gentleman, auntie. His mother has large estates near Richmond. He was in the cavalry with Stuart, and was made prisoner while he was lying wounded and insensible, at Antietam; and I think, auntie, that that–” and she hesitated–“some day we are going to be married.”

“Oh, that’s it, is it?” the old lady said kindly. “Well, I can’t say anything about that until I see him, Lucy. Now tell us the whole story, and then we shall be better able to judge about it. I don’t think, my dear, that while you were traveling under his protection he ought to have talked to you about such things.”

“He didn’t, auntie; not until we were half a mile from the station here. I never thought he cared for me the least bit; he was just like a brother to me–just like what Jack would have been if he had been bringing me here.”

“That’s right, my dear; I am glad to hear it. Now, let us hear all about it.”

Lucy told the whole story of her escape and her adventures, and when she had finished her aunts nodded to each other.

“That’s all very satisfactory, Lucy. It was a difficult position to be placed in, though I don’t see how it was to be avoided, and the young man really seems to have behaved very well. Don’t you think so, Ada?” The younger Miss Kingston agreed, and both were prepared to receive Vincent with cordiality when he appeared.

The hour had been considerably exceeded when Vincent came to the door. He felt it rather an awkward moment when he was ushered into the presence of Lucy’s aunts, who could scarcely restrain an exclamation of surprise at his youth, for although Lucy had said nothing about his age, they expected to meet an older man, the impression being gained from the recital of his bravery in attacking singlehanded twelve men, and by the manner in which he had piloted the party through their dangers.

“We are very glad to see you–my sister Ada and myself,” Miss Kingston said, shaking hands cordially with their visitor. “Lucy has been telling us all about you; but we certainly expected from what you had gone through that you were older.”

“I am two or three years older than she is, Miss Kingston, and I have gone through so much in the last three years that I feel older than I am. She has told you, I hope, that she has been good enough to promise to be my wife some day?”

“Yes, she has told us that, Mr. Wingfield; and although we don’t know you personally, we feel sure–my sister Ada and I–from what she has told us of your behavior while you have been together that you are an honorable gentleman, and we hope and believe that you will make her happy.”

“I will do my best to do so,” Vincent said earnestly. “As to my circumstances, I shall in another year come into possession of estates sufficient to keep her in every comfort.”

“I have no doubt that that is all satisfactory, Mr. Wingfield, and that her father will give his hearty approval when he hears all the circumstances of the case. Now, if you will go into the next room, Mr. Wingfield, I will call her down”–for Lucy had run upstairs when she heard Vincent knock.

“I dare say you will like a quiet talk together,” she added smiling, “for she tells me you have never been alone together since you started.”

Lucy required several calls before she came down. A new shyness such as she had never before felt had seized her, and it was with flushed cheeks and timid steps that she at last came downstairs, and it needed an encouraging–“Go in, you silly child, your lover will not eat you,” before she turned the handle and went into the room where Vincent was expecting her.

Vincent had telegraphed from the first station at which he arrived within the limits of the Confederacy to his mother, announcing his safe arrival there, and asking her to send money to him at Antioch. Her letter in reply reached him three days after his arrival. It contained notes for the amount he wrote for; and while expressing her own and his sisters’ delight at hearing he had safely reached the limits of the Confederacy, she expressed not a little surprise at the out-of-the-way place to which he had requested the money to be sent.

“We have been examining the maps, my dear boy,” she said, “and find that it is seventy or eighty miles out of your direct course, and we have puzzled ourselves in vain as to why you should have made your way there. The girls guess that you have gone there to deliver in person some message from one of your late fellow-prisoners to his family. I am not good at guessing, and am content to wait until you return home. We hope that you will leave as soon as you get the remittance. We shall count the hours until we see you. Of course we learned from a Yankee paper smuggled through the lines that you had escaped from prison, and have been terribly anxious about you ever since. We are longing to hear your adventures.”

A few hours after the receipt of this letter Vincent was on his way home. It was a long journey. The distance was considerable, and the train service greatly disordered and unpunctual. When within a few hours of Richmond he telegraphed, giving the approximate time at which he might be expected to arrive. The train, however, did not reach Richmond until some hours later. The carriage was waiting at the station, and the negro coachman shouted with pleasure at the sight of his young master.

“Missis and the young ladies come, sah; but de station-master he say de train no arrive for a long time, so dey wait for you at de town house, sah.”

Dan jumped up beside the coachman and Vincent leaped into the carriage, and a few minutes later he was locked in the arms of his mother and sisters.

“You grow bigger and bigger, Vincent,” his mother said after the first greeting was over. “I thought you must have done when you went away last, but you are two or three inches taller and ever so much wider.”

“I think I have nearly done now, mother–anyhow as to height. I am about six feet one.”

“You are a dreadful trouble to us, Vincent,” Annie said. “We have awful anxiety whenever we hear of a battle being fought, and it was almost a relief to us when we heard that you were in a Yankee prison. We thought at least you were out of danger for some time; but since the news came of your escape it has been worse than ever, and as week passed after week without our hearing anything of you we began to fear that something terrible had happened to you.”

“Nothing terrible has happened at all, Annie. The only mishap I had was getting a pistol bullet in my shoulder which laid me up for about six weeks. There was nothing very dreadful about it,” he continued, as exclamations of alarm and pity broke from his mother and sister. “I was well looked after and nursed. And now I will tell you my most important piece of news, and then I will give you a full account of my adventures from the time when Dan got me out of prison, for it is entirely to him that I owe my liberty.”

“Well, what is the piece of news?” Annie asked.

“Guess!” Vincent replied smiling.

“You have got promoted?” his mother said. He shook his head.

“Is it about a lady?” Annie asked.

Vincent smiled.

“Oh, Vincent, you are not engaged to be married! That would be too ridiculous!” Vincent laughed and nodded.

“Annie is right, mother; I am engaged to be married.” Mrs. Wingfield looked grave, Rosie laughed, and Annie threw her arms round his neck and kissed him.

“You dear, silly old boy:” she said. “I am glad, though it seems so ridiculous. Who is she, and what is she like?”

“We needn’t ask where she lives,” Rosie said. “Of course it is in Antioch, though how in the world you managed it all in the two or three days you were there I can’t make out.”

Mrs. Wingfield’s brow cleared. “At any rate, in that case, Vincent, she is a Southerner. I was afraid at first it was some Yankee woman who had perhaps sheltered you on your way.”

“Is she older than you, Vincent?” Annie asked suddenly. “I shouldn’t like her to be older than you are.”

“She is between sixteen and seventeen,” Vincent replied, “and she is a Southern girl, mother, and I am sure you will love her, for she saved my life at the risk of her own, besides nursing me all the time I was ill.”

“I have no doubt I shall love her, Vincent, for I think, my boy, that you would not make a rash choice. I think you are young, much too young, to be engaged; still, that is a secondary matter. Now tell us all about it. We expected your story to be exciting, but did not dream that love-making had any share in it.”

Vincent accordingly told them the whole story of his adventures from the time of his first meeting Dan in prison. When he related the episode of Lucy’s refusal to say whether he would return, although threatened with instant death unless she did so, his narrative was broken by the exclamations of his hearers.

“You need not say another word in praise of her,” his mother said. “She is indeed a noble girl, and I shall be proud of such a daughter.”

“She must be a darling!” Annie exclaimed. “Oh, Vincent, how brave she must be! I don’t think I ever could have done that, with a pistol pointing straight at you, and all those dreadful men round, and no hope of a rescue; it’s awful even to think of.”

“It was an awful moment, as you may imagine,” Vincent replied. “I shall never forget the scene, or Lucy’s steadfast face as she faced that man; and you see at that time I was a perfect stranger to her– only a fugitive Confederate officer whom she shielded from his pursuers.”

“Go on, Vincent; please go on,” Annie said. “Tell us what happened next.”

Vincent continued his narrative to the end, with, however, many interruptions and questions on the part of the girls. His mother said little, but sat holding his hand in hers.

“It has been a wonderful escape, Vincent,” she said when he had finished. “Bring your Lucy here when you like, and I shall be ready to receive her as my daughter, and to love her for her own sake as well as yours. She must be not only a brave but a noble girl, and you did perfectly right to lose not a single day after you had taken her safely home in asking her to be your wife. I am glad to think that some day the Orangery will have so worthy a mistress. I will write to her at once. You have not yet told us what she is like, Vincent.”

“I am not good at descriptions, but you shall see her photograph when I get it.”

“What, haven’t you got one now?”

“She had not one to give me. You see, when the troubles began she was little more than a child, and since that time she has scarcely left home, but she promised to have one taken at once and send it me, and then, if it is a good likeness, you will know all about it.”

“Mother, when you write to-night,” Rosie said, “please send her your photograph and ours, and say we all want one of our new relative that is to be.”

“I think, my dear, you can leave that until we have exchanged a letter or two. You will see Vincent’s copy, and can then wait patiently for your own.”

“And now, mother, I have told you all of my news; let us hear about every one here. How are all the old house hands, and how is Dinah? Tony is at Washington, I know, because I saw in the paper that he had made a sudden attack upon Jackson.”

Mrs. Wingfield’s face fell.

“That is my one piece of bad news, Vincent. I wish you hadn’t asked the question until to-morrow, for I am sorry that anything should disturb the pleasure of this first meeting; still as you have asked the question I must answer it. About ten days ago a negro came, as I afterward heard from Chloe, to the back entrance and asked for Dinah. He said he had a message for her. She went and spoke to him, and then ran back and caught up her child. She said to Chloe, ‘I have news of my husband. I think he is here. I will soon be back again.’ Then she ran out, and has never returned. We have made every inquiry we could, but we have not liked to advertise for her, for it may be that she has met her husband, and that he persuaded her to make off at once with him to Yorktown or Fortress Monroe.”

“This is bad news indeed, mother,” Vincent said. “No, I do not think for a moment that she has gone off with Tony. There could be no reason why she should have left so suddenly without telling any one, for she knew well enough that you would let her go if she wished it; and I feel sure that neither she nor Tony would act so ungratefully as to leave us in this manner. No, mother, I feel sure that this has been done by Jackson. You know I told you I felt uneasy about her before I went. No doubt the old rascal has seen in some Northern paper an account of his son having been attacked in the streets of Washington, and recaptured by Tony, and he has had Dinah carried off from a pure spirit of revenge. Well, mother,” he went on in answer to an appealing look from her, “I will not put myself out this first evening of my return, and will say no more about it. There will be plenty of time to take the matter up to-morrow. And now about all our friends and acquaintances. How are they getting on? Have you heard of any more of my old chums being killed since I was taken prisoner at Antietam?”

It was late in the evening before Vincent heard all the news. Fortunately, the list of casualties in the army of Virginia had been slight since Antietam; but that battle had made many gaps among the circle of their friends, and of these Vincent now heard for the first time, and he learned too, that although no battle had been fought since Antietam, on the 17th of September, there had been a sharp skirmish near Fredericksburg, and that the Federal army, now under General Burnside, who had succeeded McClellan, was facing that of Lee, near that town, and that it was believed that they would attempt to cross the Rappahannock in a few days.

It was not until he retired for the night that Vincent allowed his thoughts to turn again to the missing woman. Her loss annoyed and vexed him much more than he permitted his mother to see. In the first place, the poor girl’s eagerness to show her gratitude to him upon all occasions, and her untiring watchfulness and care during his illness from his wound, had touched him, and the thought that she was now probably in the hands of brutal taskmasters was a real pain to him. In the next place, he had, as it were, given his pledge to Tony that she should be well cared for until she could be sent to join him. And what should he say now when the negro wrote to claim her? Then, too, he felt a personal injury that the woman should be carried off when under his mother’s protection, and he was full of indignation and fury at the dastardly revenge taken by Jackson. Upon hearing the news he had at once mentally determined to devote himself for some time to a search for Dinah; but the news that a great battle was expected at the front interfered with his plan. Now that he was back, capable of returning to duty, his place was clearly with his regiment; but he determined that while he would rejoin at once, he would as soon as the battle was over, if he were unhurt, take up the search. His mother and sisters were greatly distressed when at breakfast he told them that he must at once report himself as fit for duty, and ready to join his regiment.

“I was afraid you would think so,” Mrs. Wingfield said, while the girls wept silently; “and much as I grieve at losing you again directly you have returned, I can say nothing against it. You have gone through many dangers, Vincent, and have been preserved to us through them all. We will pray that you may be so to the end. Still, whether or not, I as a Virginian woman cannot grudge my son to the service of my country, when all other mothers are making the same sacrifice; but it is hard to give you up when but yesterday you returned to us.”

CHAPTER XV. FREDERICKSBURG.

As soon as breakfast was over Vincent mounted Wildfire–which had been sent back after he had been taken prisoner, and rode into Richmond. There he reported himself at headquarters as having returned after escaping from a Federal prison, and making his way through the lines of the enemy.

“I had my shoulder-bone smashed in a fight with some Yankees,” he said, “and was laid up in hiding for six weeks; but have now fairly recovered. My shoulder, at times, gives me considerable pain, and although I am desirous of returning to duty and rejoining my regiment until the battle at Fredericksburg has taken place, I must request that three months’ leave be granted to me after that to return home and complete my cure, promising of course to rejoin my regiment at once should hostilities break out before the spring.”

“We saw the news that you had escaped,” the general said, “but feared, as so long a time elapsed without hearing from you, that you had been shot in attempting to cross the lines. Your request for leave is of course granted, and a note will be made of your zeal in thus rejoining on the very day after your return. The vacancy in the regiment has been filled up, but I will appoint you temporarily to General Stuart’s staff, and I shall have great pleasure in to-day filling up your commission as captain. Now let me hear how you made your escape. By the accounts published in the Northern papers it seemed that you must have had a confederate outside the walls.”

Vincent gave a full account of his escape from prison and a brief sketch of his subsequent proceedings, saying only that he was in the house of some loyal people in Tennessee, when it was attacked by a party of Yankee bushwhackers, that these were beaten off in the fight, but that he himself had a pistol bullet in his shoulder. He then made his way on until compelled by his wound to lay up for six weeks in a lonely farmhouse near Mount Pleasant; that afterward in the disguise of a young farmer he had made a long detour across the Tennessee river and reached Georgia.

“When do you leave for the front, Captain Wingfield?”

“I shall be ready to start to-night, sir.”

“In that case I will trouble you to come round here this evening. There will be a fast train going through with ammunition for Lee at ten o’clock, and I shall have a bag of despatches for him, which I will trouble you to deliver. You will find me here up to the last moment. I will give orders that a horse-box be put on to the train.”

After expressing his thanks Vincent took his leave. As he left the general’s quarters, a young man, just alighting from his horse, gave a shout of greeting.

“Why, Wingfield, it is good to see you! I thought you were pining again in a Yankee dungeon, or had got knocked on the head crossing the lines. Where have you sprung from, and when did you arrive?”

“I only got in yesterday after sundry adventures which I will tell you about presently. When did you arrive from the front?”

“I came down a few days ago on a week’s leave on urgent family business,” the young man laughed, “and I am going back again this afternoon by the four o’clock train.”

“Stay till ten,” Vincent said, “and we will go back together. There is a special train going through with ammunition, and as everything will make way for that it will not be long behind the four o’clock, and likely enough may pass it on the way. There is a horse-box attached to it, and as I only take one horse there will be room for yours.”

“I haven’t brought my horse down,” Harry Furniss said; “but I will certainly go with you by the ten o’clock. Then we can have a long talk. I don’t think I have seen you since the day you asked me to lend you my boat two years ago.”

“Can you spare me two hours now?” Vincent asked. “You will do me a very great favor if you will.”

Harry Furniss looked at his watch. “It is eleven o’clock now; we have a lot of people to lunch at half-past one, and I must be back by then.”

“You can manage that easy enough,” Vincent replied; “in two hours from the time we leave here you can be at home.”

“I am your man, then, Vincent. Just wait five minutes. I have to see some one in here.”

A few minutes later Harry Furniss came out again and mounted.

“Now which way, Vincent? and what is it you want me for?”

“The way is to Jackson’s place at the Cedars, the why I will tell you about as we ride.”

Vincent then recounted his feud with the Jacksons, of which, up to the date of the purchase of Dinah Morris, his friend was aware, having been present at the sale. He now heard of the attack upon young Jackson by Tony, and of the disappearance of Dinah Morris.

“I should not be at all surprised, Wingfield, if your surmises are correct, and that old scoundrel has carried off the girl to avenge himself upon Tony. Of course, if you could prove it, it would be a very serious offense; for the stealing a slave, and by force too, is a crime with a very heavy penalty, and has cost men their lives before now. But I don’t see that you have anything like a positive proof, however strong a case of suspicion it may be. I don’t see what you are going to say when you get there.”

“I am going to tell him that if he does not say what he has done with the girl, I will have his son arrested for treachery as soon as he sets foot in the Confederacy again.”

“Treachery!” Furniss said in surprise; “what treachery has he been guilty of? I saw that he was one of those who escaped with you, and I rather wondered at the time at you two being mixed up together in anything. I heard that he had been recaptured through some black fellow that had been his slave, but I did not read the account. Have you got proof of what you say?”

“Perhaps no proof that would hold in a court of law,” Vincent replied, “but proof enough to make it an absolute certainty to my mind.”

Vincent then gave an account of their escape, and of the anonymous denunciation of himself and Dan.

“Now,” he said, “no one but Dan knew of the intended escape, no one knew what clothes he had purchased, no one could possibly have known that I was to be disguised as a preacher and Dan as my servant. Therefore the information must have been given by Jackson.”

“I have not the least doubt but that the blackguard did give it, Wingfield; but there is no proof.”

“I consider that there is a proof–an absolute and positive proof,” Vincent asserted, “because no one else could have known it.”

“Well, you see that as a matter of fact the other officer did know it, and might possibly have given the information.”

“But why should he? The idea is absurd. He had never had a quarrel with me, and he owed his liberty to me.”

“Just so, Wingfield. I am as certain that it was Jackson as you are, because I know the circumstances; but you see there is no more absolute proof against one man than against the other. It is true that you had had a quarrel with Jackson some two years before, but you see you had made it up and had become friends in prison–so much so that you selected him from among a score of others in the same room to be the companion of your flight. You and I, who know Jackson, can well believe him guilty of an act of gross ingratitude–of ingratitude and treachery; but people who do not know would hardly credit it as possible–that a man could be such a villain. The defense he would set up would be that in the first place there is no shadow of evidence that he more than the other turned traitor. In the second place he would be sure to say that such an accusation against a Confederate officer is too monstrous and preposterous to be entertained for a moment; and that doubtless your negro, although he denies the fact, really chattered about his doings to the negroes he was lodging with, and that it was through them that some one got to know of the disguise you would wear. We know that it wasn’t so, Wingfield; but ninety-nine out of every hundred white men in the South would rather believe that a negro had chattered than that a Confederate officer had been guilty of a gross act of treachery and ingratitude.”

Vincent was silent. He felt that what his companion said was the truth; and that a weapon by which he had hoped to force the elder Jackson into saying what he had done with Dinah would probably fail in its purpose. The old man was too astute not to perceive that there was no real proof against his son, and would therefore be unlikely at once to admit that he had committed a serious crime, and to forego his revenge.

“I will try at any rate,” he said at last; “and if he refuses I will publish the story in the papers. When the fellow gets back from Yankee-land he may either call me out or demand a court of inquiry. I may not succeed in getting a verdict from twelve white men, but I think I can convince every one of our own class that the fellow did it; and when this battle that is expected is over I have got three months’ leave, and I will move heaven and earth to find the woman; and if I do, Jackson will either have to bolt or stand a trial, with the prospect of ten years’ imprisonment if he is convicted. In either case we are not likely to have his son about here again; and if he did venture back and brought an action against me, his chance of getting damages would be a small one.”

Another half-hour’s ride brought them to the Cedars. They dismounted at the house, and fastening their horses to the portico knocked at the door. It was opened by a negro.

“Tell your master,” Vincent said, “that Mr. Wingfield wishes to speak to him.”

Andrew Jackson himself came to the door.

“To what do I owe the very great pleasure of this visit, Mr. Wingfield?” he said grimly.

“I have come to ask you what you have done with Dinah Morris, whom, I have every ground for believing, you have caused to be kidnaped from my mother’s house.”

“This is a serious charge, young gentleman,” Andrew Jackson said, “and one that I shall call upon you to justify in the law-courts. Men are not to be charged with criminal actions even by young gentlemen of good Virginian families.”

“I shall be quite ready to meet you there, Mr. Jackson, whenever you choose; but my visit here is rather to give you an opportunity of escaping the consequences that will follow your detection as the author of the crime; for I warn you that I will bring the crime home to you, whatever it costs me in time and money. My offer is this: produce the woman and her child, and not only shall no prosecution take place, but I will remain silent concerning a fact which affects the honor of your son.”

Andrew Jackson’s face had been perfectly unmoved during this conversation until he heard the allusion to his son. Then his face changed visibly.

“I know nothing concerning which you can attack the honor of my son, Mr. Wingfield,” he said, with an effort to speak as unconcernedly as before.

“My charge is as follows,” Vincent said quietly: “I was imprisoned at Elmira with a number of other officers, among them your son. Thinking that it was time for the unpleasantness that had been existing between us to come to an end, I offered him my hand. This he accepted and we became friends. A short time afterward a mode of escape offered itself to me, and I proved the sincerity of my feelings toward him by offering to him and another officer the means of sharing my escape. This they accepted. Once outside the walls, I furnished them with disguises that had been prepared for them, assuming myself that of a minister. We then separated, going in different directions, I myself being accompanied by my negro servant, to whose fidelity I owed our escape. Two days afterward an anonymous writer communicated to the police the fact that I had escaped in the disguise of a minister, and was accompanied by my black servant. This fact was only known to the negro, myself, and the two officers. My negro, who had released me, was certainly not my betrayer; the other officer could certainly have had no possible motive for betraying me. There remains, therefore, only your son, whose hostility to me was notorious, and who had expressed himself with bitterness against me on many occasions, and among others in the hearing of my friend Mr. Furniss here. Such being the case, it is my intention to charge him before the military authorities with this act of treachery. But, as I have said, I am willing to forego this and to keep silence as to your conduct with reference to my slave Dinah Morris, if you will restore her and her child uninjured to the house from which you caused her to be taken.”

The sallow cheeks of the old planter had grown a shade paler as he listened to Vincent’s narrative, but he now burst out in angry tones:

“Hew dare you, sir, bring such an infamous accusation against my son–an accusation, like that against myself, wholly unsupported by a shred of evidence? Doubtless your negro had confided to some of his associates his plans for assisting you to escape from prison, and it is from one of these that the denunciation has come. Go, sir, report where you will what lies and fables you have invented; but be assured that I and my son will seek our compensation for such gross libels in the courts.”

“Very well, sir,” Vincent said, as be prepared to mount his horse; “if you will take the trouble to look in the papers to-morrow, you will see that your threats of action for libel have no effect whatever upon me.”

“The man is as hard as a rock, Wingfield,” Furniss said, as they rode off together. “He wilted a little when you were telling your story, but the moment he saw you had no definite proofs he was, as I expected he would be, ready to defy you. What shall you do now?”

“I shall ride back into Richmond again and give a full account of my escape from the jail, and state that I firmly believe that the information as to my disguise was given by Jackson, and that it was the result of a personal hostility which, as many young men in Richmond are well aware, has existed for some time between us.”

“Well, you must do as you like, Wingfield, but I think it will be a risky business.”

“It may be so,” Vincent said; “but I have little doubt that long before Jackson is exchanged I shall have discovered Dinah, and shall prosecute Jackson for theft and kidnaping, in which case the young man will hardly venture to prosecute me or indeed to show his face in this part of the country.”

That evening the two young officers started for the front, and the next morning the Richmond papers came out with a sensational heading, “Alleged Gross Act of Treachery and Ingratitude by a Confederate Officer.”

It was the 10th of December when Vincent joined the army at Fredericksburg. He reported himself to General Stuart, who received him with great cordiality.

“You are just in time, Wingfield,” he said. “I believe that in another twenty-four hours the battle will be fought. They have for the last two days been moving about in front, and apparently want us to believe that they intend to cross somewhere below the town; but all the news we get from our spies is to the effect that these are only feints and that they intend to throw a bridge across here. We know, anyhow, they have got two trains concealed opposite, near the river. Burnside is likely to find it a hard nut to crack. Of course they are superior in number to us, as they always are; but as we have always beat them well on level ground I do not think their chances of getting up these heights are by any means hopeful. Then, too, their change of commanders is against them. McClellan fought a drawn battle against us at Antietam and showed himself a really able general in the operations in front of Richmond. The army have confidence in him, and he is by far the best man they have got so far, but the fools at Washington have now for the second time displaced him because they are jealous of him. Burnside has shown himself a good man in minor commands, but I don’t think he is equal to command such a vast army as this; and besides, we know from our friends at Washington that he has protested against this advance across the river, but has been overruled. You will see Fredericksburg will add another to the long list of our victories.”

Vincent shared a tent with another officer of the same rank in General Stuart’s staff. They sat chatting till late, and it was still dark when they were suddenly aroused by an outbreak of musketry down at the river.

“The general was right,” Captain Longmore, Vincent’s companion, exclaimed. “They are evidently throwing a bridge across the river, and the fire we hear comes from two regiments of Mississippians who are posted down in the town under Barksdale.”

It was but the work of a minute to throw on their clothes and hurry out. The night was dark and a heavy fog hung over the river. A perfect roar of musketry came up from the valley. Drums and bugles were sounding all along the crest. At the same moment they issued out General Stuart came out from his tent, which was close by.

“Is that you, Longmore? Jump on your horse and ride down to the town. Bring back news of what is going on.”

A few minutes later an officer rode up. Some wood had been thrown on the fire, and by its light Vincent recognized Stonewall Jackson.

“Have you any news for us?” he asked.

“Not yet, I have sent an officer down to inquire. The enemy have been trying to bridge the river.

“I suppose so,” Jackson replied. “I have ordered one of my brigades to come to the head of the bank as soon as they can be formed up, to help Barksdale if need be, but I don’t want to take them down into the town. It is commanded by all the hills on the opposite side, and we know they have brought up also all their artillery there.”

In a few minutes Captain Longmore returned.

“The enemy have thrown two pontoon bridges across, one above and one below the old railway bridge. The Mississippians have driven them back once, but they are pushing on the work and will soon get it finished; but General Barksdale bids me report that with the force at his command he can repulse any attempt to cross.”

The light was now breaking in the east, but the roar of musketry continued under the canopy of fog. General Lee, Longstreet, and others had now arrived upon the spot, and Vincent was surprised that no orders were issued for troops to reinforce those under General Barksdale. Presently the sun rose, and as it gained in power the fog slowly lifted, and it was seen that the two pontoon bridges were complete; but the fire of the Mississippians was so heavy that although the enemy several times attempted to cross they recoiled before it. Suddenly a gun was fired from the opposite height, and at the signal more than a hundred pieces of artillery opened fire upon the town. Many of the inhabitants had left as soon as the musketry fire began, but the slopes behind it soon presented a sad spectacle. Men, women, and children poured out from the town, bewildered with the din and terrified by the storm of shot and shell that crashed into it. Higher and higher the crowd of fugitives made their way until they reached the crest; among them were weeping women and crying children, many of them in the scantiest attire and carrying such articles of dress and valuables as they had caught up when startled by the terrible rain of missiles. In a very few minutes smoke began to rise over the town, followed by tongues of flame, and in half an hour the place was on fire in a score of places.

All day the bombardment went on without cessation and Fredericksburg crumbled into ruins. Still, in spite of this terrible fire the Mississippians clung to the burning town amid crashing walls, falling chimneys, and shells exploding in every direction. As night fell the enemy poured across the bridges, and Barksdale, contesting every foot of ground, fell back through the burning city and took up a position behind a stone wall in its rear.

Throughout the day not a single shot had been fired by the Confederate artillery, which was very inferior in power to that of the enemy. General Lee had no wish finally to hinder the passage of the Federals, the stubborn resistance of Barksdale’s force being only intended to give him time to concentrate all his army as soon as he knew for certain the point at which the enemy was going to cross; and he did not wish, therefore, to risk the destruction of any of his batteries by calling down the Federal fire upon them.

During the day the troops were all brought up into position. Longstreet was on the left and Jackson on the right, while the guns, forty-seven in number, were in readiness to take up their post in the morning on the slopes in front of them. On the extreme right General Stuart was posted with his cavalry and horse artillery. The night passed quietly and by daybreak the troops were all drawn up in their positions.

As soon as the sun rose it was seen that during the night the enemy had thrown more bridges across and that the greater portion of the army was already over. They were, indeed, already in movement against the Confederate position, their attack being directed toward the portion of the line held by Jackson’s division. General Stuart gave orders to Major Pelham, who commanded his horse artillery, and who immediately brought up the guns and began the battle by opening fire on the flank of the enemy. The guns of the Northern batteries at once replied, and for some hours the artillery duel continued, the Federal guns doing heavy execution. For a time attacks were threatened from various points, but about ten o’clock, when the fog lifted, a mass of some 55,000 troops advanced against Jackson. They were suffered to come within 800 yards before a gun was fired, and then fourteen guns opened upon them with such effect that they fell back in confusion.

At one o’clock another attempt was made, covered by a tremendous fire of artillery. For a time the columns of attack were kept at bay by the fire of the Confederate batteries, but they advanced with great resolution, pushed their way through Jackson’s first line, and forced them to fall back. Jackson brought up his second line and drove the enemy back with great slaughter until his advance was checked by the fire of the Northern artillery.

All day the fight went on, the Federals attempting to crush the Confederate artillery by the weight of their fire in order that their infantry columns might again advance. But although outnumbered by more than two to one the Confederate guns were worked with great resolution, and the day passed and darkness begun to fall without their retiring from the positions they had taken up. Just at sunset General Stuart ordered all the batteries on the right to advance. This they did and opened their fire on the Northern infantry with such effect that these fell back to the position near the town that they had occupied in the morning.

On the left an equally terrible battle had raged all day, but here the Northern troops were compelled to cross open ground between the town and the base of the hill, and suffered so terribly from the fire that they never succeeded in reaching the Confederate front. Throughout the day the Confederates held their position with such ease that General Lee considered the affair as nothing more than a demonstration of force to feel his position, and expected an even sterner battle on the following day. Jackson’s first and second lines, composed of less than 15,000 men, had repulsed without difficulty the divisions of Franklin and Hooker, 55,000 strong; while Longstreet with about the same force had never been really pressed by the enemy, although on that side they had a force of over 50,000 men.

In the morning the Northern army was seen drawn up in battle array as if to advance for fresh assault, but no movement was made. General Burnside was in favor of a fresh attack, but the generals commanding the various divisions felt that their troops, after the repulse the day before, were not equal to the work, and were unanimously of opinion that a second assault should not be attempted. After remaining for some hours in order of battle they fell back into the town and two days later the whole army recrossed the Rappahannock River. The loss of the Confederates was 1,800 men, who were for the most part killed or wounded by the enemy’s artillery, while the Federal loss was no less than 13,771. General Burnside soon afterward resigned his command, and General Hooker, an officer of the same politics as the president and his advisers, was appointed to succeed him.

The cavalry had not been called upon to act during the day, and Vincent’s duties were confined to carrying orders to the commanders of the various batteries of artillery posted in that part of the field, as these had all been placed under General Stuart’s orders. He had many narrow escapes by shot and fragments of shells, but passed through the day uninjured.

General Lee has been blamed for not taking advantage of his victory and falling upon the Federals on the morning after the battle; but although such an assault might possibly have been successful he was conscious of his immense inferiority in force, and his troops would have been compelled to have advanced to the attack across ground completely swept by the fire of the magnificently served Northern artillery posted upon their commanding heights. He was moreover ignorant of the full extent of the loss he had inflicted upon the enemy, and expected a renewed attack by them. He was therefore, doubtless, unwilling to risk the results of the victory he had gained and of the victory he expected to gain should the enemy renew their attack, by a movement which might not be successful, and which would at any rate have cost him a tremendous loss of men, and men were already becoming scarce in the Confederacy.

As soon as the enemy had gone back across the river and it was certain that there was little chance of another forward movement on their part for a considerable time, Vincent showed to General Stuart the permit he had received to return home until the spring on leave, and at once received the general’s permission to retire from the staff for a time.

He had not been accompanied by Dan on his railway journey to the front, having left him behind with instructions to endeavor by every means to find some clew as to the direction in which Dinah had been carried off. He telegraphed on his way home the news of his coming, and found Dan at the station waiting for him.

“Well, Dan, have you obtained any news?” he asked as soon as his horse had been removed from its box, and he had mounted and at a foot-pace left the station, with Dan walking beside him.

“No, sah; I hab done my best, but I cannot find out anyting. The niggers at Jackson’s all say dat no strangers hab been there wid de old man for a long time before de day dat Dinah was carried off. I have been over dar, massa, and hab talked wid the hands at de house. Dey all say dat no one been dere for a month. Me sure dat dey no tell a lie about it, because dey all hate Massa Jackson like pison. Den de lawyer, he am put de advertisement you told him in the papers: Five hundred dollars to whoever would give information about de carrying off of a female slave from Missy Wingfield, or dat would lead to de discovery of her hiding-place. But no answer come. Me heard Missy Wingfield say so last night.”

“That’s bad, Dan; but I hardly expected anything better. I felt sure the old fox would have taken every precaution, knowing what a serious business it would be for him if it were found out. Now I am back I will take the matter up myself, and we will see what we can do. I wish I could have set about it the day after she was carried away. It is more than a fortnight ago now, and that will make it much more difficult than it would have been had it been begun at once.”

“Well, Vincent, so you have come back to us undamaged this time,” his mother said after the first greeting. “We were very anxious when the news came that a great battle had been fought last Friday; but when we heard the next morning the enemy had been repulsed so easily we were not so anxious, although it was not until this morning that the list of killed and wounded was published, and our minds set at rest.”

“No, mother; it was a tremendous artillery battle, but it was a little more than that–at least on our side. But I have never heard anything at all like it from sunrise to sunset. But, after all, an artillery fire is more frightening than dangerous, except at comparatively close quarters. The enemy must have fired at least fifty shots for every man that was hit. I counted several times, and there wore fully a hundred shots a minute, and I don’t think it lessened much the whole day. I should think they must have fired two or three hundred rounds at least from each gun. The roar was incessant, and what with the din they made, and the replies of our own artillery, and the bursting of shells, and the rattle of musketry, the din at times was almost bewildering. Wildfire was hit with a piece of shell, but fortunately it was not a very large one, and he is not much the worse for it, but the shock knocked him off his legs; of course I went down with him, and thought for a moment I had been hit myself No; it was by far the most hollow affair we have had. The enemy fought obstinately enough, but without the slightest spirit or dash, and only once did they get up anywhere near our line, and then they went back a good deal quicker than they came.”

“And now you are going to be with us for three months, Vincent?”

I hope so, mother; at least if they do not advance again. I shall be here off and on. I mean to find Dinah Morris if it is possible, and if I can obtain the slightest clew I shall follow it up and go wherever it may lead me.”

“Well, we will spare you for that, Vincent. As you know, I did not like your mixing yourself up in that business two years ago, but it is altogether different now. The woman was very willing and well conducted, and I had got to be really fond of her. But putting that aside, it is intolerable that such a piece of insolence as the stealing of one of our slaves should go unpunished. Therefore if you do find any clew to the affair we will not grumble at your following it up, even if it does take you away from home for a short time. By the by, we had letters this morning from a certain young lady in Georgia inclosing her photograph, and I rather fancy there is one for you somewhere.”

“Where is it, mother?” Vincent asked, jumping from his seat.

“Let me think,” Mrs. Wingfield replied. “Did either of you girls put it away, or where can it have been stowed?” The girls both laughed.

“Now, Vincent, what offer do you make for the letter? Well, we won’t tease you,” Annie went on as Vincent gave an impatient exclamation. “Another time we might do so, but as you have just come safely back to us I don’t think it will be fair, especially as this is the very first letter. Here it is it” and she took out of the workbox before her the missive Vincent was so eager to receive.

CHAPTER XVI. THE SEARCH FOR DINAH.

“By the by, Vincent,” Mrs. Wingfield remarked next morning at breakfast, “I have parted with Pearson.”

“I am glad to hear it, mother. What! did you discover at last that he was a scamp?”

“Several things that occurred shook my confidence in him, Vincent. The accounts were not at all satisfactory, and it happened quite accidentally that when I was talking one day with Mr. Robertson, who, as you know, is a great speculator in tobacco, I said that I should grow no more tobacco, as it really fetched nothing. He replied that it would be a pity to give it up, for so little was now cultivated that the price was rising, and the Orangery tobacco always fetched top prices. ‘I think the price I paid for your crop this year must at any rate have paid for the labor that is to say, paid for the keep of the slaves and something over.’ He then mentioned the price he had given, which was certainly a good deal higher than I had imagined. I looked to my accounts next morning, and found that Pearson had only credited me with one-third of the amount he must have received, so I at once dismissed him. Indeed, I had been thinking of doing so some little time before, for money is so scarce and the price of produce so low that I felt I could not afford to pay as much as I have been giving him.”

“I am afraid I have been drawing rather heavily, mother,” Vincent put in.

“I have plenty of money, Vincent. Since your father’s death we have had much less company than before, and I have not spent my income. Besides, I have a considerable sum invested in house property and other securities. But I have, of course, since the war began been subscribing toward the expenses of the war–for the support of hospitals and so on. I thought at a time like this I ought to keep my expenses down at the lowest point, and to give the balance of my income to the State.”

“How did Jonas take his dismissal, mother?”

“Not very pleasantly,” Mrs. Wingfield replied; “especially when I told him that I had discovered he was robbing me. However, he knew better than to say much, for he has not been in good odor about here for some time. After the fighting near here there were reports that he had been in communication with the Yankees. He spoke to me about it at the time, but as it was a mere matter of rumor, originating, no doubt, from the fact that he was a Northern man by birth, I paid no attention to them.”

“It is likely enough to be true,” Vincent said. “I always distrusted the vehemence with which he took the Confederate side. How long ago did this happen?”

“It is about a month since I dismissed him.”

“So lately as that! Then I should not be at all surprised if he had some hand in carrying off Dinah. I know he was in communication with Jackson, for I once saw them together in the street, and I fancied at the time that it was through him that Jackson learned that Dinah was here. It is an additional clew to inquire into, anyhow. Do you know what has become of him since he left you?”

“No; I have heard nothing at all about him, Vincent, from the day I gave him a check for his pay in this room. Farrell, who was under him, is now in charge of the Orangery. He may possibly know something of his movements.”

“I think Farrell is an honest fellow,” Vincent said “He was always about doing his work quietly never bullying or shouting at the hands, and yet seeing that they did their work properly. I will ride out and see him at once.”

As soon as breakfast was over Vincent started, and found Farrell in the fields with the hands.

“I am glad to see you back, sir,” the man said heartily.

“Thank you, Farrell. I am glad to be back, and I am glad to find you in Pearson’s place. I never liked the fellow, and never trusted him.”

“I did not like him myself, sir, though we always got on well enough together. He knew his work, and got as much out of the hands as any one could do; but I did not like his way with them. They hated him.”

“Have you any idea where he went when he left here?”

“No, sir; he did not come back after he got his dismissal. He sent a man in a buggy with a note to me, asking me to send all his things over to Richmond. I expect he was afraid the news might get here as soon as he did, and that the hands would give him an unpleasant reception, as indeed I expect they would have done.”

“You don’t know whether he has any friends anywhere in the Confederacy to whom he would be likely to go?”

“I don’t know about friends, sir; but I know he has told me he was overseer, or partner, or something of that sort, in a small station down in the swamps of South Carolina. I should think, from things he has let drop, that the slaves must have had a bad time of it. I rather fancy he made the place too hot for him, and had to leave; but that was only my impression.”

“In that case he may possibly have made his way back there,” Vincent said. “I have particular reasons for wishing to find out. You don’t know anything about the name of the place?” The man shook his head.

“He never mentioned the name in my hearing.”

“Well, I must try to find out, but I don’t quite see how to set about it,” Vincent said. “By the way, de you know where his clothes were sent to?”

“Yes; the man said that he was to take them to Harker’s Hotel. It’s a second-rate hotel not far from the railway station.”

“Thank you. That will help me. I know the house. It was formerly used by Northern drummers and people of that sort.”

After riding back to Richmond and putting up his horse, Vincent went to the hotel there. Although but a secondary hotel it was well filled, for people from all parts of the Confederacy resorted to Richmond, and however much trade suffered, the hotels of the town did a good business. He first went up to the clerk in a little office at the entrance.

“You had a man named Pearson,” he said, “staying here about a month ago. Will you be good enough to tell me on what day he left?”

The clerk turned to the register, and said after a minute ‘s examination:

“He came on the 14th of November, and he left on the 20th.”

This was two days after the date on which Dinah had been carried off.

In American hotels the halls are large and provided with seats, and are generally used as smoking and reading-rooms by the male visitors to the hotel. At Harker’s Hotel there was a small bar at the end of the hall, and a black waiter supplied the wants of the guests seated at the various little tables. Vincent seated himself at one of these and ordered something to drink. As the negro placed it on the table he said:

“I will give you a dollar if you will answer a few questions.”

“Very good, sah. Dat am a mighty easy way to earn a dollar.”

“Do you remember, about a month ago, a man named Pearson being here?”

The negro shook his head.

“Me not know de names of de gentlemen, sah. What was de man like?”

“He was tall and thin, with short hair and a gray goatee–a regular Yankee.”

“Me remember him, sah. Dar used to be plenty ob dat sort here. Don’t see dem much now. Me remember de man, sah, quite well. Used to pass most of de day here. Didn’t seem to have nuffin to do.”

“Was he always alone, or did he have many people here to see him?”

“Once dar war two men here wid him, sah, sitting at dat table ober in de corner. Rough-looking fellows dey war. In old times people like dat wouldn’t come to a ‘spectable hotel, but now most ebery one got rough clothes, can’t get no others, so one don’t tink nuffin about it; but dose fellows was rough-looking besides dar clothes. Didn’t like dar looks nohow. Dey only came here once. Dey was de only strangers that came to see him. But once Massa Jackson–me know him by sight–he came here and talk wid him for a long time. Earnest sort of talk dat seemed to be. Dey talk in low voice, and I noticed dey stopped talking when any one sat down near dem.”

“You don’t know where he went to from here, I suppose?”

“No, sah, dat not my compartment. Perhaps de outside porter will know. Like enough he take his tings in hand-truck to station. You like to see him, sah?”

“Yes, I should like to have a minute’s talk with him. Here is your dollar.”

The waiter rang a bell, and a minute later the outdoor porter presented himself.

“You remember taking some tings to station for a tall man wid gray goatee, Pomp?” the waiter asked. “It was more dan tree weeks ago. I tink he went before it was light in de morning. Me seem to remember dat.”

The negro nodded.

“Me remember him bery well, sah. Tree heavy boxes and one bag, and he only give me quarter dollar for taking dem to de station. Mighty mean man dat.”

“Do you know what train he went by?”

“Yes, sah, it was de six o’clock train for de souf.”

“You can’t find out wher his luggage was checked for?”

“I can go down to station, sah, and see if I can find out. Some of de men dar may remember.”

“Here is a dollar for yourself,” Vincent said, “and another to give to any of the men who can give you the news. When you have found out come and tell me. Here is my card and address.”

“Bery well, sah. Next time me go up to station me find about it, for sure, if any one remember dat fellow.”

In the evening the negro called at the house and told Vincent that he had ascertained that a man answering to his description and having luggage similar to that of Pearson had had it checked to Florence in South Carolina.

Vincent now called Dan into his counsel and told him what he had discovered. The young negro had already given proof of such intelligence that he felt sure his opinion would be of value.

“Dat all bery plain, sah,” Dan said when Vincent finished his story. “Me no doubt dat old rascal Jackson give money to Pearson to carry off de gal. Ob course he did it just to take revenge upon Tony. Pearson he go into de plot, because, in de fust place, it vex Missy Wingfield and you bery much; in de second place, because Jackson gib him money; in de third place, because he get hold of negro slave worf a thousand dollar. Dat all quite clear. He not do it himself, but arrange wid oder fellows, and he stop quiet at de hotel for two days after she gone so dat no one can ‘spect his having hand in de affair.”

“That is just how I make it out, Dan; and now he has gone off to join them.”

Dan thought for some time.

“Perhaps dey join him dar, sah, perhaps not; perhaps him send him baggage on there and get out somewhere on de road and meet them.”

“That is likely enough, Dan. No doubt Dinah was taken away in a cart or buggy. As she left two days before he did, they may have gone from forty to sixty miles along the road, to some place where he may have joined them. The men who carried her off may either have come back or gone on with him. If they wanted to go south they would go on; if they did not, he would probably have only hired them to carry her off and hand her over to him when he overtook them. I will look at the timetable and see where that train stops. It is a fast train, I see,” he said, after consulting it; it stops at Petersburg, fifteen miles on, and at Hicks Ford, which is about fifty miles. I should think the second place was most likely, as the cart could easily have got there in two days. Now, Dan, you had better start to-morrow morning, and spend two days there if necessary; find out if you can if on the twentieth of last month any one noticed a vehicle of any kind, with two rough men in it, and with, perhaps, a negro woman. She might not have been noticed, for she may have been lying tied up in the bottom of the cart, although it is more likely they frightened her by threats into sitting up quiet with them. They are sure not to have stopped at any decent hotel, but will have gone to some small place, probably just outside the town.

“I will go with you to Mr. Renfrew the first thing in the morning and get him to draw up a paper testifying that you are engaged in lawful business, and are making inquiries with a view to discovering a crime which has been committed, and recommending you to the assistance of the police in any town you may go to. Then if you go with that to the head constable at Hicks Ford he will tell you which are the places at which such fellows as these would have been likely to put up for the night, and perhaps send a policeman with you to make inquiries. If you get any news telegraph to me at once. I will start by the six o’clock train on the following morning. Do you be on the platform to meet me, and we can then either go straight on to Florence, or, should there be any occasion, I will get out there; but I don’t think that is likely. Pearson himself will, to a certainty, sooner or later, go to Florence to get his luggage, and the only real advantage we shall get if your inquiries are successful will be to find out for certain whether he is concerned in the affair. We shall then only have to follow his traces from Florence.”

Two days later Mr. Renfrew received a telegram from the head constable at Hicks Ford: “The two men with cart spent day here, 20th ult. Were joined that morning by another man–negro says Pearson. One man returned afternoon, Richmond. Pearson and the other drove off in buggy. A young negress and child were with them. Is there anything I can do?”

Mr. Renfrew telegraphed back to request that the men, who were kidnaping the female slave, should if possible be traced and the direction they took ascertained. He then sent the message across to Vincent, who at once went to his office.

“Now,” the lawyer said, “you must do nothing rashly in this business, Vincent. They are at the best of time a pretty rough lot at the edge of these Carolina swamps, and at present things are likely to be worse than usual. If you were to go alone on such an errand you would almost certainly be shot. In the first place, these fellows would not give up a valuable slave without a struggle; and in the next place, they have committed a very serious crime. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that you should go armed with legal powers and backed by the force of the law. In the first place, I will draw up an affidavit and sign it myself, to the effect that a female slave, the property of Vincent Wingfield, has, with her male child, been kidnaped and stolen by Jonas Pearson and others acting in association with him, and that we have reason to know that she has been conveyed into South Carolina. This I will get witnessed by a justice of the peace, and will then take it up to Government House. There I will get the usual official request to the governor of South Carolina to issue orders that the aid of the law shall be given to you in recovering the said Dinah Morris and her child and arresting her abductors. You will obtain an order to this effect from the governor, and armed with it you will, as soon as you have discovered where the woman is, call upon the sheriff of the county to aid you in recovering her, and in arresting Pearson and his associates.”

“Thank you, sir. That will certainly be the best way. I run plenty of risk in doing my duty as an officer of the state, and I have no desire whatever to throw my life away at the hands of ruffians such as Pearson and his allies.”

Two hours later Vincent received from Mr. Renfrew the official letter to the governor of South Carolina, and at six o’clock next morning started for Florence. On the platform of the station at Hicks Ford Dan was waiting for him.

“Jump into the car at the end, Dan; I will come to you there, and you can tell me all the news. We are going straight on to Columbia. Now, Dan,” Vincent went on when he joined him–for in no part of the United States were negroes allowed to travel in any but the cars set apart for them–“what is your news? The chief constable telegraphed that they had, as we expected, been joined by Pearson here.”

“Yes, sah, dey war here for sure. When I get here I go straight to de constable and tell him dat I was in search of two men who had kidnaped Captain Wingfield’s slave. De head constable he Richmond man, and ob course knew all about de family; so he take de matter up at once and send constable wid me to seberal places where it likely dat the fellows had put up, but we couldn’t find nuffin about dem. Den next morning we go out again to village four mile out of de town on de north road, and dere we found sure ‘nough dat two men, wid negro wench and chile, had stopped dere. She seem bery unhappy and cry all de time. De men say dey bought her at Richmond, and show de constable of de village de paper dat dey had bought a female slave Sally Moore and her chile. De constable speak to woman, but she seem frightened out of her life and no say anything. Dey drive off wid her early in de morning. Den we make inquiries again at de town and at de station. We find dat a man like Pearson get out. He had only little hand-bag with him. He ask one of de men at de station which was de way to de norf road. Den we find dat one of de constables hab seen a horse and cart wid two men in it, with negro woman and child. One of de men look like Yankee–dat what make him take notice of it. We s’pose dat oder man went back to Richmond again.”