Infomotions, Inc.A Story of Lee's Great Stand / Altsheler, Joseph A. (Joseph Alexander), 1862-1919



Author: Altsheler, Joseph A. (Joseph Alexander), 1862-1919
Title: A Story of Lee's Great Stand
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): harry; dalton; lee; colonel talbot; colonel; army; general lee; northern virginia; leonidas talbot; lieutenant kenton; colonel leonidas
Contributor(s): Ross, James [Translator]
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Size: 92,377 words (short) Grade range: 7-9 (grade school) Readability score: 70 (easy)
Identifier: etext12532
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Project Gutenberg's The Shades of the Wilderness, by Joseph A. Altsheler

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Title: The Shades of the Wilderness

Author: Joseph A. Altsheler

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THE SHADES OF THE WILDERNESS
A STORY OF LEE'S GREAT STAND

by JOSEPH A. ALTSHELER




FOREWORD


"The Shades of the Wilderness" is the seventh volume of the Civil War
Series, of which the predecessors have been "The Guns of Bull Run,"
"The Guns of Shiloh," "The Scouts of Stonewall," "The Sword of Antietam",
"The Star of Gettysburg" and "The Rock of Chickamauga."  The romance
in this story reverts to the Southern side and deals with the fortunes
of Harry Kenton and his friends.  It takes them on the retreat from
Gettysburg, gives the hero a short period of social life in Richmond,
describes the great battles of the Wilderness and Spottsylvania, and
ends with the deadlock in the trenches before Petersburg.




THE CIVIL WAR SERIES


 VOLUMES IN THE CIVIL WAR SERIES

  THE GUNS OF BULL RUN.
  THE GUNS OF SHILOH.
  THE SCOUTS OF STONEWALL.
  THE SWORD OF ANTIETAM.
  THE STAR OF GETTYSBURG.
  THE ROCK OF CHICKAMAUGA.
  THE SHADES OF THE WILDERNESS.
  THE TREE OF APPOMATTOX.


 PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS IN THE CIVIL WAR SERIES

  HARRY KENTON, A Lad Who Fights on the Southern Side.
  DICK MASON, Cousin of Harry Kenton, Who Fights on the Northern Side.
  COLONEL GEORGE KENTON, Father of Harry Kenton.
  MRS. MASON, Mother of Dick Mason.
  JULIANA, Mrs. Mason's Devoted Colored Servant.
  COLONEL ARTHUR WINCHESTER, Dick Mason's Regimental Commander.
  COLONEL LEONIDAS TALBOT, Commander of the Invincibles,
   a Southern Regiment.
  LIEUTENANT COLONEL HECTOR ST. HILAIRE, Second in Command of the
   Invincibles.
  ALAN HERTFORD, A Northern Cavalry Leader.
  PHILIP SHERBURNE, A Southern Cavalry Leader.
  WILLIAM J. SHEPARD, A Northern Spy.
  DANIEL WHITLEY, A Northern Sergeant and Veteran of the Plains.
  GEORGE WARNER, A Vermont Youth Who Loves Mathematics.
  FRANK PENNINGTON, A Nebraska Youth, Friend of Dick Mason.
  ARTHUR ST. CLAIR, A Native of Charleston, Friend of Harry Kenton.
  TOM LANGDON, Friend of Harry Kenton.
  GEORGE DALTON, Friend of Harry Kenton.
  BILL SKELLY, Mountaineer and Guerrilla.
  TOM SLADE, A Guerrilla Chief.
  SAM JARVIS, The Singing Mountaineer.
  IKE SIMMONS, Jarvis' Nephew.
  AUNT "SUSE," A Centenarian and Prophetess.
  BILL PETTY, A Mountaineer and Guide.
  JULIEN DE LANGEAIS, A Musician and Soldier from Louisiana.
  JOHN CARRINGTON, Famous Northern Artillery Officer.
  DR. RUSSELL, Principal of the Pendleton School.
  ARTHUR TRAVERS, A Lawyer.
  JAMES BERTRAND, A Messenger from the South.
  JOHN NEWCOMB, A Pennsylvania Colonel.
  JOHN MARKHAM, A Northern Officer.
  JOHN WATSON, A Northern Contractor.
  WILLIAM CURTIS, A Southern Merchant and Blockade Runner.
  MRS. CURTIS, Wife of William Curtis.
  HENRIETTA CARDEN, A Seamstress in Richmond.
  DICK JONES, A North Carolina Mountaineer.
  VICTOR WOODVILLE, A Young Mississippi Officer.
  JOHN WOODVILLE, Father of Victor Woodville.
  CHARLES WOODVILLE, Uncle of Victor Woodville.
  COLONEL BEDFORD, A Northern Officer.
  CHARLES GORDON, A Southern Staff Officer.
  JOHN LANHAM, An Editor.
  JUDGE KENDRICK, A Lawyer.
  MR. CULVER, A State Senator.
  MR. BRACKEN, A Tobacco Grower.
  ARTHUR WHITRIDGE, A State Senator.


 HISTORICAL CHARACTERS

  ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States.
  JEFFERSON DAVIS, President of the Southern Confederacy.
  JUDAH P. BENJAMIN, Member of the Confederate Cabinet.
  U. S. GRANT, Northern Commander.
  ROBERT B. LEE, Southern Commander.
  STONEWALL JACKSON, Southern General.
  PHILIP H. SHERIDAN, Northern General.
  GEORGE H. THOMAS, "The Rock of Chickamauga."
  ALBERT SIDNEY JOHNSTON, Southern General.
  A. P. HILL, Southern General.
  W. S. HANCOCK, Northern General.
  GEORGE B. McCLELLAN, Northern General.
  AMBROSE E. BURNSIDE, Northern General.
  TURNER ASHBY, Southern Cavalry Leader.
  J. E. B. STUART, Southern Cavalry Leader.
  JOSEPH HOOKER, Northern General.
  RICHARD S. EWELL, Southern General.
  JUBAL EARLY, Southern General.
  WILLIAM S. ROSECRANS, Northern General.
  SIMON BOLIVAR BUCKNER, Southern General.
  LEONIDAS POLK, Southern General and Bishop.
  BRAXTON BRAGG, Southern General.
  NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST, Southern Cavalry Leader.
  JOHN MORGAN, Southern Cavalry Leader.
  GEORGE J. MEADE, Northern General.
  DON CARLOS BUELL, Northern General.
  W. T. SHERMAN, Northern General.
  JAMES LONGSTREET, Southern General.
  P. G. T. BEAUREGARD, Southern General.
  WILLIAM L. YANCEY, Alabama Orator.
  JAMES A. GARFIELD, Northern General, afterwards President of
   the United States.

  And many others


 IMPORTANT BATTLES DESCRIBED IN THE CIVIL WAR SERIES

  BULL RUN
  KERNSTOWN
  CROSS KEYS
  WINCHESTER
  PORT REPUBLIC
  THE SEVEN DAYS
  MILL SPRING
  FORT DONELSON
  SHILOH
  PERRYVILLE
  STONE RIVER
  THE SECOND MANASSAS
  ANTIETAM
  FREDERICKSBURG
  CHANCELLORSVILLE
  GETTYSBURG
  CHAMPION HILL
  VICKSBURG
  CHICKAMAUGA
  MISSIONARY RIDGE
  THE WILDERNESS
  SPOTTSYLVANIA
  COLD HARBOR
  FISHER'S HILL
  CEDAR CREEK
  APPOMATTOX



CONTENTS

    I.  THE SOUTHERN RETREAT

   II.  THE NORTHERN SPY

  III.  THE FLOODED RIVER

   IV.  A HERALD TO LEE

    V.  THE DANGEROUS ROAD

   VI.  TESTS OF COURAGE

  VII.  IN THE WAGON

 VIII.  THE CROSSING

   IX.  IN SOCIETY

    X.  THE MISSING PAPER

   XI.  A VAIN PURSUIT

  XII.  IN WINTER QUARTERS

 XIII.  THE COMING OF GRANT

  XIV.  THE GHOSTLY RIDE

   XV.  THE WILDERNESS

  XVI.  SPOTTSYLVANIA




THE SHADES OF THE WILDERNESS


CHAPTER I

THE SOUTHERN RETREAT


A train of wagons and men wound slowly over the hills in the darkness and
rain toward the South.  In the wagons lay fourteen or fifteen thousand
wounded soldiers, but they made little noise, as the wheels sank suddenly
in the mud or bumped over stones.  Although the vast majority of them
were young, boys or not much more, they had learned to be masters of
themselves, and they suffered in silence, save when some one, lost in
fever, uttered a groan.

But the chief sound was a blended note made by the turning of wheels,
and the hoofs of horses sinking in the soft earth.  The officers gave
but few orders, and the cavalrymen who rode on either flank looked
solicitously into the wagons now and then to see how their wounded
friends fared, though they seldom spoke.  The darkness they did not mind,
because they were used to it, and the rain and the coolness were a relief,
after three days of the fiercest battle the American continent had ever
known, fought in the hottest days that the troops could recall.

Thus Lee's army drew its long length from the fatal field of Gettysburg,
although his valiant brigades did not yet know that the clump of trees
upon Cemetery Hill had marked the high tide of the Confederacy.  All that
memorable Fourth of July, following the close of the battle they had lain,
facing Meade and challenging him to come on, confident that while the
invasion of the North was over they could beat back once more the
invasion of the South.

They had no word of complaint against their great commander, Lee.
The faith in him, which was so high, remained unbroken, as it was
destined to remain so to the last.  But men began to whisper to one
another, and say if only Jackson had been there.  They mourned anew
that terrible evening in the Wilderness when Lee had lost his mighty
lieutenant, his striking arm, the invincible Stonewall.  If the man in
the old slouch hat had only been with Lee on Seminary Ridge it would now
be the army of Meade retreating farther into the North, and they would be
pursuing.  That belief was destined to sink deep in the soul of the South,
and remain there long after the Confederacy was but a name.

The same thought was often in the mind of Harry Kenton, as he rode near
the rear of the column, whence he had been sent by Lee to observe and
then to report.  It was far after midnight now, and the last of the
Southern army could not leave Seminary Ridge before morning.  But Harry
could detect no sign of pursuit.  Now and then, a distant gun boomed,
and the thunder muttered on the horizon, as if in answer.  But there
was nothing to indicate that the Army of the Potomac was moving from
Gettysburg in pursuit, although the President in Washington, his heart
filled with bitterness, was vainly asking why his army would not reap the
fruits of a victory won so hardly.  Fifty thousand men had fallen on the
hills and in the valleys about Gettysburg, and it seemed, for the time,
that nothing would come of such a slaughter.  But the Northern army had
suffered immense losses, and Lee and his men were ready to fight again
if attacked.  Perhaps it was wiser to remain content upon the field with
their sanguinary success.  At least, Meade and his generals thought so.

Harry, toward morning came upon St. Clair and Langdon riding together.
Both had been wounded slightly, but their hurts had not kept them from
the saddle, and they were in cheerful mood.

"You've been further back than we, Harry," said St. Clair.  "Is Meade hot
upon our track?  We hear the throb of a cannon now and then."

"It doesn't mean anything.  Meade hasn't moved.  While we didn't win we
struck the Yankees such a mighty blow that they'll have to rest, and
breathe a while before they follow."

"And I guess we need a little resting and breathing ourselves," said
Langdon frankly.  "There were times when I thought the whole world had
just turned itself into a volcano of fire."

"But we'll come back again," said St. Clair.  "We'll make these
Pennsylvania Dutchmen take notice of us a second time."

"That's the right spirit," said Langdon.  "Arthur had nearly all of his
fine uniform shot off him, but he's managed to fasten the pieces together,
and ride on, just as if it were brand new."

But Harry was silent.  The prescient spirit of his famous great
grandfather, Henry Ware, had descended upon his valiant great grandson.
Hope had not gone from him, but it did not enter his mind that they
should invade Pennsylvania again.

"I'm glad to leave Gettysburg," he said.  "More good men of ours have
fallen there than anywhere else."

"That's true," said St. Clair, "but Marse Bob will win for us, anyhow.
You don't think any of these Union generals here in the East can whip our
Lee, do you?"

"Of course not!" said Happy Tom.  "Besides, Lee has me to help him."

"How are Colonel Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire?" asked Harry.

"Sound asleep, both of 'em," replied St. Clair.  "And it's a strange
thing, too.  They were sitting in a wagon, having resumed that game
of chess which they began in the Valley of Virginia, but they were so
exhausted that both fell sound asleep while playing.  They are sitting
upright, as they sleep, and Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire's thumb and
forefinger rest upon a white pawn that he intended to move."

"I hope they won't be jarred out of their rest and that they'll sleep on,"
said Harry.  "Nobody deserves it more."

He waved a hand to his friends and continued his ride toward the rear.
The column passed slowly on in silence.  Now and then gusts of rain
lashed across his face, but he liked the feeling.  It was a fillip to his
blood, and his nerves began to recover from the tremendous strain and
excitement of the last four days.

Obeying his orders he rode almost directly back toward the field of
Gettysburg from which the Southern forces were still marching.  A
friendly voice from a little wood hailed him, and he recognized it at
once as that of Sherburne, who sat his horse alone among the trees.

"Come here, Harry," he said.

"Glad to find you alive, Sherburne.  Where's your troop?"

"What's left of it is on ahead.  I'll join the men in a few minutes.
But look back there!"

Harry from the knoll, which was higher than he had thought, gazed upon a
vast and dusky panorama.  Once more the field of Gettysburg swam before
him, not now in fire and smoke, but in vapors and misty rain.  When he
shut his eyes he saw again the great armies charging on the slopes,
the blazing fire from hundreds of cannon and a hundred thousand rifles.
There, too, went Pickett's brigades, devoted to death but never
flinching.  A sob burst from his throat, and he opened his eyes again.

"You feel about it as I do," said Sherburne.  "We'll never come back into
the North."

"It isn't merely a feeling within me, I know it."

"So do I, but we can still hold Virginia."

"I think so, too.  Come, we'd better turn.  There goes the field of
Gettysburg.  The rain and mist have blotted it out."

The panorama, the most terrible upon which Harry had ever looked,
vanished in the darkness.  The two rode slowly from the knoll and into
the road.

"It will be daylight in an hour," said Sherburne, "and by that time the
last of our men will be gone."

"And I must hasten to our commander-in-chief," said Harry.

"How is he?" asked Sherburne.  "Does he seem downcast?"

"No, he holds his head as high as ever, and cheers the men.  They say
that Pickett's charge was a glorious mistake, but he takes all the blame
for it, if there is any.  He doesn't criticize any of his generals."

"Only a man of the greatest moral grandeur could act like that.  It's
because of such things that our people, boys, officers and all, will
follow him to the death."

"Good-by, Sherburne," said Harry.  "Hope I'll see you again soon."

He urged his horse into a faster gait, anxious to overtake Lee and report
that all was well with the rear guard.  He noticed once more, and with
the greatest care that long line of the wounded and the unwounded,
winding sixteen miles across the hills from Gettysburg to Chambersburg,
and his mind was full of grave thoughts.  More than two years in the very
thick of the greatest war, then known, were sufficient to make a boy a
man, at least in intellect and responsibility.

Harry saw very clearly, as he rode beside the retreating but valiant
army that had failed in its great attempt, that their role would be the
defensive.  For a little while he was sunk in deep depression.  Then
invincible youth conquered anew, and hope sprang up again.  The night
was at the darkest, but dawn was not far away.  Fugitive gusts of wind
drenched him once more, but he did not mind it, nor did he pay any
attention to the occasional growl of a distant gun.  He was strong in the
belief that Meade would not pursue--at least not yet.  A general who had
just lost nearly one-third of his own army was not in much condition to
follow his enemy.

He urged his horse to increased speed, and pressed on toward the head of
the column.  The rain ceased and cool puffs of wind came out of the east.
Then the blackness there turned to gray, which soon deepened into silver.
Through the silver veil shot a bolt of red fire, and the sun came over
the hills.

Although the green world had been touched with brown by the hot sun of
July it looked fresh and beautiful to Harry.  The brown in the morning
sunlight was a rosy red, and the winds of dawn were charged with life.
His horse, too, felt the change and it was easy now to force him into a
gallop toward a fire on a low hill, which Harry felt sure had been built
to cook breakfast for their great commander.

As he approached he saw Lee and his generals standing before the blaze,
some eating, and others drinking.  An orderly, near by, held the
commander's famous horse, Traveller, and two or three horses belonging to
the other generals were trying to find a little grass between the stony
outcrops of the hills.  Harry felt an overwhelming curiosity, but he kept
it in restraint, dismounting at a little distance, and approaching on
foot.

He could not observe much change in the general's appearance.  His
handsome gray suit was as neat as ever, and the three stars, the only
marks of his rank that he wore, shone untarnished upon his collar.
The dignified and cheerful manner that marked him before Gettysburg
marked him also afterward.  To Harry, so young and so thoroughly charged
with the emotions of his time and section, he was a figure to be
approached with veneration.

He saw the stalwart and bearded Longstreet and other generals whom he
knew, among them the brilliant Stuart in his brilliant plumage, but
rather quiet and subdued in manner now, since he had not come to
Gettysburg as soon as he was needed.  Harry hung back a little, fearing
lest he might be regarded as thrusting himself into a company so much
his superior in rank, but Lee saw him and beckoned to him.

"I sent you back toward Gettysburg to report on our withdrawal,
Lieutenant Kenton," he said.

"Yes, sir.  I returned all the way to the field.  The last of our troops
should be leaving there just about now.  The Northern army had made no
preparation for immediate pursuit."

"Your report agrees with all the others that I have received.  How long
have you been without sleep?"

"I don't know, sir," he said at last.  "I can't remember.  Maybe it has
been two or three days."

Stuart, who held a cup of coffee in his hand, laughed.  "The times have
been such that there are generals as well as lieutenants," he said,
"who can't remember when they've slept."

"You're exhausted, my lad," said Lee gravely and kindly, "and there's
nothing more you can do for us just now.  Take some breakfast with us,
and then you must sleep in one of the wagons.  An orderly will look after
your horse."

Lee handed him a cup of coffee with his own hand, and Harry, thanking him,
withdrew to the outer fringe of the little group, where he took his
breakfast, amazed to find how hungry he was, although he had not thought
of food before.  Then without a word, as he saw that the generals were
engrossed in a conference, he withdrew.

"You'll find Lieutenant Dalton of the staff in the covered wagon over
there," said the orderly who had taken his horse.  "The general sent him
to it more'n two hours ago."

"Then I'll be inside it in less than two minutes," said Harry.

But with rest in sight he collapsed suddenly.  His head fell forward of
its own weight.  His feet became lead.  Everything swam before his eyes.
He felt that he must sleep or die.  But he managed to drag himself to the
wagon and climbed inside.  Dalton lay in the center of it so sound asleep
that he was like one dead.  Harry rolled him to one side, making room for
himself, and lay down beside him.  Then his eyes closed, and he, too,
slept so soundly that he also looked like one dead.

He was awakened by Dalton pulling at him.  The young Virginian was
sitting up and looking at Harry with curiosity.  He clapped his hands
when the Kentuckian opened his eyes.

"Now I know that you're not dead," he said.  "When I woke up and found
you lying beside me I thought they had just put your body in here for
safekeeping.  As that's not the case, kindly explain to me and at once
what you're doing in my wagon."

"I'm waking up just at present, but for an hour or two before that I was
sleeping."

"Hour or two?  Hour or two?  Hear him!  An orderly who I know is no liar
told me that you got in here just after dawn.  Now kindly lift that
canvasflap, look out and tell me what you see."

Harry did as he was told, and was amazed.  The same rolling landscape
still met his eyes, and the sun was just about as high in the sky as
it was when he had climbed into the wagon.  But it was in the west now
instead of the east.

"See and know, young man!" said Dalton, paternally.  "The entire day
has elapsed and here you have lain in ignorant slumber, careless of
everything, reckless of what might happen to the army.  For twelve hours
General Lee has been without your advice, and how, lacking it, he has
got this far, Heaven alone knows."

"It seems that he's pulled through, and, since I'm now awake, you can
hurry to him and tell him I'm ready to furnish the right plans to stop
the forthcoming Yankee invasion."

"They'll keep another day, but we've certainly had a good sleep, Harry."

"Yes, a provision or ammunition wagon isn't a bad place for a wornout
soldier.  I remember I slept in another such as this in the Valley of
Virginia, when we were with Jackson."

He stopped suddenly and choked.  He could not mention the name of Jackson,
until long afterward, without something rising in his throat.

The driver obscured a good deal of the front view, but he suddenly turned
a rubicund and smiling face upon them.

"Waked up, hev ye?" he exclaimed.  "Wa'al it's about time.  I've looked
back from time to time an' I wuzn't at all shore whether you two gen'rals
wuz alive or dead.  Sometimes when the wagon slanted a lot you would roll
over each other, but it didn't seem to make no diffunce.  Pow'ful good
sleepers you are."

"Yes," said Harry.  "We're two of the original Seven Sleepers."

"I don't doubt that you are two, but they wuz more'n seven."

"How do you know?"

"'Cause at least seven thousand in this train have been sleepin' as hard
as you wuz.  I guess you mean the 'rig'nal Seventy Thousand Sleepers."

Harry's spirits had returned after his long sleep.  He was a lad again.
The weight of Gettysburg no longer rested upon him.  The Army of Northern
Virginia had merely made a single failure.  It would strike again and
again, as hard as ever.

"It's true that we've been slumbering," he said, "but we're as wide awake
now as ever, Mr. Driver."

"My name ain't Driver," said the man.

"Then what is it?"

"Jones, Dick Jones, which I hold to be a right proper name."

"Not romantic, but short, simple and satisfying."

"I reckon so.  Leastways, I've never wanted to change it.  I'm from No'th
Calliny, an' I've been followin' Bobby Lee a pow'ful long distance from
home.  Fine country up here in Pennsylvany, but I'd ruther be back in
them No'th Calliny mountains.  You two young gen'rals may think it's an
easy an' safe job drivin' a wagon loaded with ammunition.  But s'pose you
have to drive it right under fire, as you most often have to do, an' then
if a shell or somethin' like it hits your wagon the whole thing goes off
kerplunk, an' whar are you?"

"It's a sudden an' easy death," said Dalton, philosophically.

"Too sudden an' too easy.  I don't mind tellin' you that seein' men
killed an' wounded is a spo't that's beginnin' to pall on me.  Reckon
I've had enough of it to last me for the next thousand years.  I've
forgot, if I ever knowed, what this war wuz started about.  Say, young
fellers, I've got a wife back thar, a high-steppin', fine-lookin' gal not
more'n twenty years old--I'm just twenty-five myself, an' we've got a
year-old baby the cutest that wuz ever born.  Now, when I wuz lookin' at
that charge of Pickett's men, an' the whole world wuz blazin' with fire,
an' all the skies wuz rainin' steel and lead, an' whar grass growed
before, nothin' but bayonets wuz growin' then, do you know what I seed
sometimes?"

"What was it?" asked Harry.

"Fur a secon' all that hell of fire an' smoke an' killin' would float
away, an' I seed our mountain, with the cove, an' the trees, an' the
green grass growin' in it, an' the branch, with the water so clear you
could see your face in it, runnin' down the center, an' thar at the head
of the cove my cabin, not much uv a buildin' to look at, no towerin'
mansion, but just a stout two-room log cabin that the snows an' hails of
winter can't break into, an' in the door wuz standin' Mary with the hair
flyin' about her face, an' her eyes shinin', with the little feller in
her arms, lookin' at me 'way off as I come walkin' fast down the cove
toward 'em, returnin' from the big war."

There was a moment's silence, and Dalton said gruffly to hide his
feelings:

"Dick Jones, by the time this war is over, and you go walking down the
cove toward your home, a man with mustache and side whiskers will come
forward to meet you, and he'll be that son of yours."

But Dick Jones cheerfully shook his head.

"The war ain't goin' to last that long," he said confidently, "an' I
ain't goin' to git killed.  What I saw will come true, 'cause I feel it
so strong."

"There ought to be a general law forbidding a man with a young wife and
baby to go to a war," said Harry.

"But they ain't no sich law," said Dick Jones, in his optimistic tone,
"an' so we needn't worry 'bout it.  But if you two gen'rals should happen
along through the mountains uv western No'th Calliny after the war I'd
like fur you to come to my cabin, an' see Mary an' the baby an' me.
Our cove is named Jones' Cove, after my father, an' the branch that runs
through it runs into Jones' Creek, an' Jones' Creek runs into the Yadkin
River an' our county is Yadkin.  Oh, you could find it plumb easy,
if two sich great gen'rals as you wuzn't ashamed to eat sweet pertaters
an' ham an' turkey an' co'n pone with a wagon driver like me."

Harry saw, despite his playful method of calling them generals, that he
was thoroughly in earnest, and he was more moved than he would have been
willing to confess.

"Too proud!" he said.  "Why, we'd be glad!"

"Mebbe your road will lead that way," said Jones.  "An' ef you do,
jest remember that the skillet's on the fire, an' the latch string is
hangin' outside the do'."

The allusion to the mountains made Harry's mind travel far back, over
an almost interminable space of time now, it seemed, when he was yet a
novice in war, to the home of Sam Jarvis, deep in the Kentucky mountains,
and the old, old woman who had said to him as he left: "You will come
again, and you will be thin and pale, and in rags, and you will fall at
the door.  I see you coming with these two eyes of mine."

A little shiver passed over him.  He knew that no one could penetrate
the future, but he shivered nevertheless, and he found himself saying
mechanically:

"It's likely that I'll return through the mountains, and if so I'll look
you up at that home in the cove on the brook that runs into Jones' Creek."

"That bein' settled," said Jones, "what do you gen'rals reckon to do jest
now, after havin' finished your big sleep?"

"Your wagon is about to lose the first two passengers it has ever
carried," replied Harry.  "Orderlies have our horses somewhere.  We
belong on the staff of General Lee."

"An' you see him an' hear him talk every day?  Some people are pow'ful
lucky.  I guess you'll say a lot about it when you're old men."

"We're going to say a lot about it while we're young men.  Good-by,
Mr. Jones.  We've been in some good hotels, but we never slept better
in any of them than we have in this moving one of yours."

"Good-by, you're always welcome to it.  I think Marse Bob is on ahead."

The two left the wagon and took to a path beside the road, which was
muddy and rutted deeply by innumerable hoofs and wheels.  But grass and
foliage were now dry after the heavy rains that followed the Battle of
Gettysburg, and the sun was shining in late splendor.  The army, taking
the lack of pursuit and attack as proof that the enemy had suffered as
much as they, if not more, was in good spirits, and many of the men sang
their marching songs.  A band ahead of them suddenly began to play mellow
music, "Partant Pour La Syrie," and other old French songs.  The airs
became gay, festive, uplifting to the soul, and they tickled the feet of
the young men.

"The Cajun band!" exclaimed Harry.  "It never occurred to me that they
weren't all dead, and here they are, playing us into happiness!"

"And the Invincibles, or what's left of them, won't be far away," said
Dalton.

They walked on a little more briskly and beside them the vast length of
the unsuccessful army still trailed its slow way back into the South.
The sun was setting in uncommon magnificence, clothing everything in a
shower of gold, through which the lilting notes of the music came to
Harry and Dalton's ears.  Presently the two saw them, the short, dark men
from far Louisiana, not so many as they had been, but playing with all
the fervor of old, putting their Latin souls into their music.

"And there are the Invincibles just ahead of them!" exclaimed Dalton.
"The two colonels have left the wagon and are riding with their men.
See, how erect they sit."

"I do see them, and they're a good sight to see," said Harry.  "I hope
they'll live to finish that chess game."

"And fifty years afterward, too."

A shout of joy burst from the road, and a tall young man, slender,
dark and handsome, rushed out, and, seizing the hands of first one and
then the other, shook them eagerly, his dark eyes glittering with happy
surprise.

"Kenton!  Dalton!" he exclaimed.  "Both alive! Both well!"

It was young Julien de Langeais, the kinsman of Lieutenant-Colonel Hector
St. Hilaire, and he too was unhurt.  The lads returned his grasp warmly.
They could not have kept from liking him had they tried, and they
certainly did not wish to try.

"You don't know how it rejoices me to see you," said Julien, speaking
very fast.  "I was sad! very sad!  Some of my best friends have perished
back there in those inhospitable Pennsylvania hills, and while the band
was playing it made me think of the homes they will never see any more!
Don't think I'm effusive and that I show grief too much, but my heart has
been very heavy!  Alas, for the brave lads!"

"Come, come, de Langeais," said Harry, putting his hand on his shoulder.
"You've no need to apologize for sorrow.  God knows we all have enough
of it, but a lot of us are still alive and here's an army ready to fight
again, whenever the enemy says the word."

"True!  True!" exclaimed de Langeais, changing at once from shadow to
sunshine.  "And when we're back in Virginia we'll turn our faces once
more to our foe!"

He took a step or two on the grass in time to the music which was now
that of a dance, and the brilliant beams of the setting sun showed a face
without a care.  Invincible youth and the invincible gayety of the part
of the South that was French were supreme again.  Dalton, looking at him,
shook his Presbyterian head.  Yet his eyes expressed admiration.

"I know your feelings," said Harry to the Virginian.

"Well, what are they?"

"You don't approve of de Langeais' lightness, which in your stern code
you would call levity, and yet you envy him possession of it.  You don't
think it's right to be joyous, without a care, and yet you know it would
be mighty pleasant.  You criticize de Langeais a little, but you feel it
would be a gorgeous thing to have that joyous spirit of his."

Dalton laughed.

"You're pretty near the truth," he said.  "I haven't known de Langeais
so very long, but if he were to get killed I'd feel that I had lost a
younger brother."

"So would I."

Two immaculate youths, riding excellent horses, approached them, and
favored them with a long and supercilious stare.

"Can the large fair person be Lieutenant Kenton of the staff of the
commander-in-chief?" asked St. Clair.

"It can be and it is, although we did not think to see him again so soon,"
replied Happy Tom Langdon, "and the other--I do not allude to de Langeais--
is that spruce and devout young man, Lieutenant George Dalton, also of
the staff of the commander-in-chief."

"Why do we find them in such humble plight, walking on weary feet in a
path beside the road?"

"For the most excellent reason in the world, Arthur."

"And what may that reason be, Tom?"

"Because at last they have come down to their proper station in life,
just as surely as water finds its level."

"But we'll not treat them too sternly.  We must remember that they also
serve who walk and wait."

But St. Clair and Langdon, their chaff over, gave them happy greeting,
and told them that the two colonels would be rejoiced to see them again,
if they could spare a few minutes before rejoining their commander.

"And here is an orderly with both your horses," said St. Clair, "so,
under the circumstances, we'll sink our pride and let you ride with us."

De Langeais, with a cheerful farewell until the next day, returned to his
command, and Harry and Dalton, mounting, were in a few minutes beside
the Invincibles.  Colonel Leonidas Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel Hector
St. Hilaire turned their horses from the road into the path and saluted
them with warmth.

"We caught a glimpse of you just after our departure, Harry," said
Colonel Talbot, "but we did not know what had happened since.  There is
always a certain amount of risk attending the removal of a great army."

"I am glad, Leonidas, that you used the word 'removal' to describe our
operations after our great victory at Gettysburg," said Lieutenant-
Colonel St. Hilaire.  "I have been feeling about for the right word or
phrase myself, but you have found it first."

"Do you think it was a victory, sir?" asked Harry.

"Undoubtedly.  We have won several vast and brilliant triumphs, but this
is the greatest of them all.  We have gone far into the enemy's country,
where we have struck him a terrible blow, and now, of our own choice--
understand it is of our own choice--we withdraw and challenge him to come
and repeat on our own soil our exploit if he can.  It is like a skilled
and daring prize fighter who leaps back and laughingly bids his foe come
on.  Am I not right, Leonidas?"

"Neither Aristotle nor Plato was ever more right, Hector, old friend.
Usually there is more to a grave affair than appears upon the surface.
We could have gone on, after the battle, to Philadelphia, had we chosen,
but it was not alone a question of military might that General Lee had to
decide.  He was bound to give weight to some very subtle considerations.
You boys remember your Roman history, do you not?"

"Fragments of it, sir," replied Harry.

"Then you will recall that Hannibal, a fine general, to be named worthily
with our great Lee so far as military movements are concerned, after
famous victories over greatly superior numbers of Romans, went into camp
at Capua, crowded with beauty, wine and games, and the soldiers became
enervated.  Their fiber was weakened and their bodies softened.  They
were quicker to heed the call to a banquet than the call to arms."

"Unless it was the arms of beauty, Leonidas."

"Well spoken, Hector.  The correction is most important, and I accept it.
But to take up again the main thread of my discourse.  General Lee
undoubtedly had the example of the Carthaginian army and Capua in mind
when he left Gettysburg and returned toward the South.  Philadelphia is a
great city, far larger and richer than any in our section.  It is filled
with magnificent houses, beautiful women, luxury of every description,
ease and softness.  Our brave lads, crowned with mighty exploits and
arriving there as conquerors, would have been received with immense
admiration, although we are official enemies.  And the head of youth is
easily turned.  The Army of Northern Virginia, emerging from Philadelphia,
to achieve the conquest of New York and Boston would not be the army that
it is to-day.  It would lack some of that fire and dash, some of the
extraordinary courage and tenacity which have enabled it to surpass the
deeds of the veterans of Hannibal and Napoleon."

"But, sir, I've heard that the people of Philadelphia are mostly Quakers,
very sober in dress and manner."

"Harry, my lad, when you've lived as long as I have you will know that a
merry heart may beat beneath a plain brown dress, and that an ugly hood
cannot wholly hide a sweet and saucy face.  The girls--God bless 'em--
have been the same in all lands since the world began, and will continue
so to the end.  While this war is on you boys cannot go a-courting,
either in the North or South.  Am I not right, Hector, old friend?"

"Right, as always, Leonidas.  I perceive, though, that the sun is about
to set; not a new thing, I admit, but we must not delay our young friends,
when the general perhaps needs them."

"Well spoken again, Hector.  You are an unfailing fount of wisdom.
Good night, my brave lads.  Not many of the Invincibles are left, but
every one of them is a true friend of you both."

As they rode across the darkening fields Harry and Dalton knew that the
colonel spoke the truth about the Invincibles.

"I like a faith such as theirs," said Dalton.

"Yes, it can often turn defeat into real victory."

They quickly found the general's headquarters, and as usual, whenever the
weather permitted, he had made arrangements to sleep in the open air,
his blankets spread upon soft boughs.  Harry and Dalton, having slept
all day, would be on night duty, and after supper they sat at a little
distance, awaiting orders.

Coolness had come with the dark.  A good moon and swarms of bright stars
rode in the heavens, turning the skies to misty silver, and softening the
scars of the army, which now lay encamped over a great space.  Lee was
talking with Stuart, who evidently had just arrived from a swift ride,
as an orderly near by was holding his horse, covered with foam.  The
famous cavalryman was clothed in his gorgeous best.  His hat was heavy
with gold braid, and the broad sash about his waist was heavy with gold,
also.  Dandy he was, but brilliant cavalryman and great soldier too!
Both friend and foe had said so.

Harry, sitting on the grass, with his back against a tree, watched the
two generals as they talked long and earnestly.  Now and then Stuart
nervously switched the tops of his own high riding boots with the little
whip that he carried, but the face of Lee, revealed clearly in the near
twilight, remained grave and impassive.

After a long while Stuart mounted and rode away, and Sherburne, who had
been sitting among the trees on the far side of the fire, came over and
joined Harry and Dalton.  He too was very grave.

"Do you know what has happened?" he said in a low tone to the two lads.

"Yes, there was a big battle at Gettysburg, and as we failed to win it
we're now retreating," replied Harry.

"That's true as far as it goes, but it's not all.  We've heard--and
the news is correct beyond a doubt--that Grant has taken Vicksburg and
Pemberton's army with it."

"Good God, Sherburne, it can't be so!"

"It shouldn't be so, but it is!  Oh, why did Pemberton let himself be
trapped in such a way!  A whole army of ours lost and our greatest
fortress in the West taken!  Why, the Yankee men-of-war can steam up the
Mississippi untouched, all the way from the Gulf to Minnesota."

Harry and Dalton were appalled, and, for a little while, were silent.

"I knew that man Grant would do something terrible to us," Harry said at
last.  "I've heard from my people in Kentucky what sort of a general he
is.  My father was at Shiloh, where we had a great victory on, but Grant
wouldn't admit it, and held on, until another Union army came up and
turned our victory into defeat.  My cousin, Dick Mason, has been with
Grant a lot, and I used to get a letter from him now and then, even if he
is in the Yankee army.  He says that when Grant takes hold of a thing he
never lets go, and that he'll win the war for his side."

"Your cousin may be right about Grant's hanging on," said Dalton with
sudden angry emphasis, "but neither he nor anybody else will win this war
for the Yankees.  We've lost Vicksburg, and an army with it, and we've
retreated from Gettysburg, with enough men fallen there to make another
army, but they'll never break through the iron front of Lee and his
veterans."

"Hope you're right," said Sherburne, "but I'm off now.  I'm in the saddle
all night with my troop.  We've got to watch the Yankee cavalry.  Custer
and Pleasanton and the rest of them have learned to ride in a way that
won't let Jeb Stuart himself do any nodding."

He cantered off and the lads sat under the trees, ready for possible
orders.  They saw the fire die.  They heard the murmur of the camp sink.
Lee lay down on his bed of boughs, other generals withdrew to similar
beds or to tents, and the two boys still sat under the trees, waiting and
watching, and never knowing at what moment they would be needed.




CHAPTER II

THE NORTHERN SPY


But the night remained very quiet.  Harry and Dalton, growing tired of
sitting, walked about the camp, and looked again to their horses, which,
saddled and bridled, were nevertheless allowed to nip the grass as best
they could at the end of their lariats.  The last embers of the fire
went out, but the moon and stars remained bright, and they saw dimly the
sleeping forms of Lee and his generals.  Harry, who had seen nothing
strange in Meade's lack of pursuit, now wondered at it.  Surely when the
news of Vicksburg came the exultant Army of the Potomac would follow,
and try to deliver a crushing blow.

It was revealed to him as he stood silent in the moonlight that a gulf
had suddenly yawned before the South.  The slash of Grant's sword in the
West had been terrible, and the wound that it made could not be cured
easily.  And the Army of Northern Virginia had not only failed in its
supreme attempt, but a great river now flowed between it and Virginia.
If the Northern leaders, gathering courage anew, should hurl their masses
upon Lee's retreating force, neither skill nor courage might avail to
save them.  He suddenly beheld the situation in all its desperation;
he shivered from head to foot.

Dalton saw the muscles of Harry's face quivering, and he noticed a pallor
that came for an instant.

"I understand," he said.  "I had thought of it already.  If a Northern
general like Lee or Stonewall Jackson were behind us we might never get
back across the Potomac.  It's somewhat the same position that we were in
after Antietam."

"But we've no Stonewall Jackson now to help us."

Again that lump rose in Harry's throat.  The vision of the sober figure
on Little Sorrel, leading his brigades to victory, came before him,
but it was a vision only.

"It's strange that we've not come in contact with their scouts or
cavalry," he said.  "In that fight with Pleasanton we saw what horsemen
they've become, and a force of some kind must be hanging on our rear."

"If it's there, Sherburne and his troop will find it."

"I think I can detect signs of the enemy now," said Harry, putting his
glasses to his eyes.  "See that hill far behind us.  Can't you catch the
gleam of lights on it?"

"I think I can," replied Dalton, also using glasses.  "Four lights are
there, and they are winking, doubtless to lights on another hill too far
away for us to see."

"It shows that the enemy at least is watching, and that while we may
retreat unattacked it will not be unobserved.  Hark! do you hear that,
George?  It's rifle shots, isn't it?"

"Yes, and a lot of 'em, but they're a long distance away.  I don't think
we could hear 'em at all if it were not night time."

"But it means something!  There they go again!  I believe it's a heavy
skirmish and it's in the direction in which Sherburne rode."

"The general's up.  It's likely that one of us will be sent to see what
it's all about."

General Lee and his whole staff had risen and were listening attentively.
The faint sound of many shots still came, and then a sharper, more
penetrating crash, as if light field guns were at work.  The commander
beckoned to Harry.

"Ride toward it," he said briefly, "and return with a report as soon as
you can."

Harry touched his cap, sprang upon his horse and galloped away.  He knew
that other messengers would be dispatched also, but, as he had been sent
first, he wished to arrive first.  He found a path among the trees along
which he could make good speed, and, keeping his mind fixed on the firing,
he sped forward.

Thousands of soldiers lay asleep in the woods and fields on either side
of him, but the thud of the horse's hoofs awakened few of them.  Nor did
the firing disturb them.  They had fought a great battle three days long,
and then after a tense day of waiting under arms, they had marched hard.
What to them was the noise made by an affair of outposts, when they had
heard so long the firing of a hundred and fifty thousand rifles and three
or four hundred big guns?  Not one in a hundred stood up to see.

The country grew rougher, and Harry was compelled to draw his horse down
to a walk.  But the firing, a half-mile or more ahead, maintained its
volume, and as he approached through thick underbrush, being able to find
no other way, he dismounted and led his horse.  Presently he saw beads of
flame appearing among the bushes, seen a moment, then gone like a firefly,
and as he went further he heard voices.  He had no doubt that it was the
Southern pickets in the undergrowth, and, calling softly, he received
confirmatory replies.

A rifleman, a tall, slender fellow in ragged butternut, appeared beside
him, and, recognizing Harry's near-gray uniform as that of an officer,
said:

"They're dismounted cavalry on the other side of a creek that runs along
over there among the bushes.  I don't think they mean any real attack.
They expect to sting us a little an' find out what we're about."

"Seems likely to me too.  They aren't strong enough, of course, for an
attempt at rushing us.  What troops are in here in the woods on our side?"

"Captain Sherburne's cavalry, sir.  They're a bit to our right, an'
they're dismounted too.  You'll find the captain himself on a little
knoll about a hundred yards away."

"Thanks," said Harry, and leading his horse he reached the knoll, to find
the rifleman's statement correct.  Sherburne was kneeling behind some
bushes, trying with the aid of glasses and moonlight to pick out the
enemy.

"That you, Harry?" he said, glancing back.

"Yes, Captain.  The general has sent me to see what you and the rest of
you noisy fellows are doing."

"Shooting across a creek at an enemy who first shot at us.  It's only
under provocation that we've roused the general and his staff from sleep.
Use your glasses and see what you can make out in those bushes on the
other side!  Keep down, Harry!  For Heaven's sake keep down!  That bullet
didn't miss you more than three inches.  You wouldn't be much loss to the
army, of course, but you're my personal friend."

"Thanks for your advice.  I intend to stay so far down that I'll lie
almost flat."

He meant to keep his word, too.  The warning had been a stern one.
Evidently the sharpshooters who lay in the thickets on the Union side of
the creek were of the first quality.

"There's considerable moonlight," whispered Sherburne, "and you mustn't
expose an inch of your face.  I take it that we have Custer's cavalry
over there, mixed with a lot of scouts and skirmishers from the Northwest,
Michigan and Wisconsin, most likely.  They're the boys who can use the
rifles in the woods.  Had to do it before they came here, and they're a
bad lot to go up against."

"It's a pretty heavy fire for a mere scouting party.  If they want to
discover our location they can do it without wasting so much powder and
lead."

"I think it's more than a scout.  They must have discovered long since
just where we are.  I imagine they mean to shake our nerve by constant
buzzing and stinging.  I fancy that Meade and his generals after deciding
not to pursue us have changed their minds, perhaps under pressure from
Washington, and mean to cut us off if they can."

"A little late."

"But not too late.  We're still in the enemy's country.  The whole
population is dead against us, and we can't make a move that isn't known
within an hour to the Union leaders.  I tell you, Harry, that if we
didn't have a Lee to lead I'd be afraid that we'd never get out of
Pennsylvania."

"But we have a Lee and the question is settled.  What a volley that was!
Didn't you feel the twigs and leaves falling on your face?"

"Yes, it went directly over our heads.  It's a good thing we're lying so
close.  Perhaps they intend to force a passage of the creek and stampede
at least a portion of our camp."

"And you're here to prevent it."

"I am.  They can't cross that creek in face of our fire.  We're good
night-hawks.  Every boy in the South knows the night and the woods,
and here in the bush we're something like Indians."

"I'm the descendant of a famous Indian fighter myself," said Harry.
And there, surrounded by deep gloom and danger, the spirit of his mighty
ancestor, the great Henry Ware, descended upon him once more.  An orderly
had taken their horses to the rear, where they would be out of range of
the bullets, and, as they crouched low in the bushes, Sherburne looked
curiously at him.

Harry's face as he turned from the soldier to the Indian fighter of old
had changed.  To Sherburne's fascinated gaze the eyes seemed amazingly
vivid and bright, like those of one who has learned to see in the dark.
The complexion was redder--Henry Ware had always burned red instead of
brown--like that of one who sleeps oftener in the open air than in a
house.  His whole look was dominant, compelling and fierce, as he leaned
on his elbows and studied the opposing thickets through his glasses.

The glasses even did not destroy the illusion.  To Sherburne, who had
learned Harry's family history, the great Henry Ware was alive, and in
the flesh before him.  He felt with all the certainty of truth that the
Union skirmishers in the thicket could not escape the keen eyes that
sought them out.

"I can see at least twenty men creeping about among the bushes, and
seeking chances for shots," whispered Harry.

"I knew that you would see them."

It was Harry's turn to give a look of curiosity.

"What do you mean, Captain?" he asked.

"I knew that you had good eyes and I believed that with the aid of the
glasses you would be able to trace figures, despite the shelter of the
bushes.  Study the undergrowth again, will you, Harry, and tell me what
more you can see there?"

"I don't need to study it.  I can tell at one look that they're gathering
a force.  Maybe they mean to rush the creek at a shallow place."

"Is that force moving in any direction?"

"Yes, it's going down the creek."

"Then we'll go down the creek with it.  We mustn't be lacking in
hospitality."

Sherburne drew a whistle from his pocket and blew a low call upon it.
Scores of shadowy figures rose from the undergrowth, and followed his
lead down the stream.  Harry was still able to see that the force on the
other side was increasing largely in numbers, but Sherburne reminded him
that his duties, as far as the coming skirmish was concerned, were over.

"General Lee didn't send you here to get killed," he said.  "He wants you
instead to report how many of us get killed.  You know that while the
general is a kind man he can be stern, too, and you're not to take the
risk.  The orderly is behind that hill with your horse and mine."

Harry, with a sigh, fell back toward the hill.  But he did not yet go
behind it, where the orderly stood.  Instead he lay down among the trees
on the slope, where he could watch what was going forward, and once more
his face turned to the likeness of the great Indian fighter.

He saw Sherburne's dismounted troop and others, perhaps five hundred in
all, moving slowly among the bushes parallel with the stream, and he saw
a force which he surmised to be of about equal size, creeping along in
the undergrowth on the other side.  He followed both bodies with his
glasses.  With long looking everything became clearer and clearer.
The moonlight had to him almost the brilliancy of day.

His eyes followed the Union force, until it came to a point where the
creek ran shallow over pebbles.  Then the Union leader raised his sword,
uttered a cry of command, and the whole force dashed at the ford.
The cry met its response in an order from Sherburne, and the thickets
flamed with the Southern rifles.

The advantage was wholly with the South, standing on the defense in dark
undergrowth, and the Union troop, despite its desperate attempts at the
ford, was beaten back with great loss.

Harry waited until the result was sure, and then he walked slowly over
the hill toward the point, where the orderly was waiting with the horses.
The man, who knew him, handed him the reins of his mount, saying at the
same time:

"I've a note for you, sir."

"For me?"

"Yes, sir.  It was handed to me about fifteen minutes ago by a large man
in our uniform, whom I didn't know."

"Probably a dispatch that I'm to carry to General Lee."

"No, sir.  It's addressed to you."

The note was written in pencil on a piece of coarse gray paper, folded
several times, but with a face large enough to show Harry's name upon it.
He wondered, but said nothing to the sentinel, and did not look at the
note again, until he had ridden some distance.

He stopped in a little glade where the moonlight fell clearly.  He still
heard scattered firing behind him, but he knew that the skirmish was
in reality over, and he concluded that no further attempt by Union
detachments to advance would be made in the face of such vigilance.
He could report to General Lee that the rear of his army was safe.
So he would delay and look at the letter that had come to him out of the
mysterious darkness.

The superscription was in a large, bold hand, and read:


     LIEUTENANT HARRY KENTON,
          STAFF OF GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE, C. S. A.,
               COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF,
                    ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA.


He felt instinctively that something uncommon was coming, and, as most
people do when they are puzzled at the appearance of a letter, he looked
at it some seconds before opening it.  Then he read:

MR. KENTON:

I have warned you twice before, once when Jefferson Davis was inaugurated
at Montgomery, and once again in Virginia.  I told you that the South
could never win.  I told you that she might achieve brilliant victories,
and she may achieve them even yet, but they will avail her nothing.
Victories permit her to maintain her position for the time being, but
they do not enable her to advance.  A single defeat causes her to lose
ground that she can never regain.

I tell you this as a warning.  Although your enemy, I have seen you more
than once and talked with you.  I like you and would save your life if I
could.  I would induce you, if I could, to leave the army and return to
your home, but that I know to be impossible.  So, I merely tell you that
you are fighting for a cause now lost.  Perhaps it is pride on my part to
remind you that my early predictions have come true, and perhaps it is
a wish that the thought I may plant in your mind will spread to others.
You have lost at Gettysburg a hope and an offensive that you can never
regain, and Grant at Vicksburg has given a death blow to the Western half
of the Confederacy.

As for you, I wish you well.

                              WILLIAM J. SHEPARD.


Harry stared in amazement at this extraordinary communication, and read
it over two or three times.  He was not surprised that Shepard should
be near, and that he should have been inside the Confederate lines, but
that he should leave a letter, and such a letter, for him was uncanny.
His first feeling, wonder, was succeeded by anger.  Did Shepard really
think that he could influence him in such a way, that he could plant in
his mind a thought that would spread to others of his age and rank and
weaken the cause for which he fought?  It was a singular idea, but
Shepard was a singular man.

But perhaps pride in recalling the prediction that he had made long ago
was Shepard's stronger motive, and Harry took fire at that also.  The
Confederacy was not beaten.  A single defeat--no, it was not a defeat,
merely a failure to win--was not mortal, and as for the West, the
Confederacy would gather itself together there and overwhelm Grant!

Then came a new emotion, a kind of gratitude to Shepard.  The man was
really a friend, and would do him a service, if it could be done, without
injuring his own cause!  He could not feel any doubt of it, else the spy
would not have taken the risk to send him such a letter.  He read it for
the last time, then tore it into little pieces which he entrusted to the
winds.

The firing behind him had died completely, and there was no sound but the
rustle of dry leaves in the light wind, nothing to tell that there had
been sharp fighting along the creek, and that men lay dead in the forest.
The moon and the stars clothed everything in a whitish light, that seemed
surcharged with a powerful essence, and this essence was danger.

The spirit of the great forest ranger descended upon him once more,
and he read the omens, all of which were sinister.  He foresaw terrible
campaigns, mighty battles in the forest, and a roll of the dead so long
that it seemed to stretch away into infinity.

Then he shook himself violently, cast off the spell, and rode rapidly
back with his report.  Lee had risen and was standing under a tree.
He was fully dressed and his uniform was trim and unwrinkled.  Harry
thought anew as he rode up, what a magnificent figure he was.  He was
the only great man he ever saw who really looked his greatness.  Nothing
could stir that calm.  Nothing could break down that loftiness of manner.
Harry was destined to feel then, as he felt many times afterward, that
without him the South had never a chance.  And the choking came in his
throat again, as he thought of him who was gone, of him who had been the
right arm of victory, the hammer of Thor.

But he hid all these feelings as he quickly dismounted and saluted the
commander-in-chief.

"What have you seen, Lieutenant Kenton?" asked Lee.

"A considerable detachment of the enemy tried to force the passage of
the creek in our right rear.  They were met by Captain Sherburne's troop
dismounted, and three companies of infantry, and were driven back after a
sharp fight."

"Very good.  Captain Sherburne is an alert officer."

He turned away, and Harry, giving his horse to an orderly, again resumed
his old position under a tree, out of hearing of the generals, but in
sight.  Dalton was not there, but he knew that skirmishing had occurred
in other directions, and doubtless the Virginian had been sent on an
errand like his own.

He had a sense of rest and realization as he leaned back against the
tree.  But it was mental tension, not physical, for which relief came,
and Shepard, much more than the battle at the creek, was in his thoughts.

The strong personality of the spy and his seeming omniscience oppressed
him again.  Apparently he was able to go anywhere, and nothing could be
hidden from him.  He might be somewhere in the circling shadows at that
very moment, watching Lee and his lieutenants.  His pulses leaped.
Shepard had achieved an extraordinary influence over him, and he was
prepared to believe the impossible.

He stood up and stared into the bushes, but sentinels stood there,
and no human being could pass their ring unseen.  Presently Dalton came,
made a brief report to General Lee and joined his comrade.  Harry was
glad of his arrival.  The presence of a comrade brought him back to earth
and earth's realities.  The sinister shadows that oppressed him melted
away and he saw only the ordinary darkness of a summer night.

The two sat side by side.  Dalton perhaps drew as much strength as Harry
from the comradeship, and they watched other messengers arrive with
dispatches, some of whom rolled themselves in their blankets at once,
and went to sleep, although three, who had evidently slept in the day,
joined Harry and Dalton in their vigil.

Harry saw that the commander-in-chief was holding a council at that hour,
nearer morning than midnight.  A general kicked some of the pieces of
burned wood together and fanned them into a light flame, enough to take
away the slight chill that was coming with the morning.  The men stood
around it, and talked a long time, although it seemed to Harry that Lee
said least.  Nevertheless his tall figure dominated them all.  Now and
then Harry saw his face in the starshine, and it bore its habitual grave
and impassive look.

The youth did not hear a word that was said, but his imaginative power
enabled him to put himself in the place of the commander-in-chief.
He knew that no man, however great his courage, could fail to appreciate
his position in the heart of a hostile country, with a lost field behind
him, and with superior numbers hovering somewhere in his rear or on
his flank.  He realized then to the full the critical nature of their
position and what a mighty task Lee had to save the army.

One of his young comrades whispered to him that the Potomac, the barrier
between North and South, was rising, flooded by heavy rains in both
mountains and lowlands, and that a body of Northern cavalry had already
destroyed a pontoon bridge built by the South across it.  They might be
hemmed in, with their backs to an unfordable river, and an enemy two or
three times as numerous in front.

"Don't you worry," whispered Dalton, with sublime confidence.  "The
general will take us to Virginia."

Harry projected his imagination once more.  He sought to put himself in
the place of Lee, receiving all the reports and studying them, trying to
measure space that could not be measured, and to weigh a total that could
not be weighed.  Greatness and responsibility were compelled to pay
thrice over for themselves, and he was glad that he was only a young
lieutenant, the chief business of whom was to fetch and carry orders.

Shafts of sunlight were piercing the eastern foliage when the council
broke up, and shortly after daylight the Southern army was again on the
march, with Northern cavalry and riflemen hanging on its flanks and rear.
Harry was permitted to rejoin, for a while, his friends of the
Invincibles and he found Colonel Leonidas Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel
Hector St. Hilaire riding very erect, a fine color in their faces.

"You come from headquarters, Harry, and therefore you are omniscient,"
said Colonel Talbot.  "We heard firing in the night.  What did it mean?"

"Only skirmishers, Colonel.  I think they wanted to annoy us, but they
paid the price."

"Inevitably.  Our general is as dangerous in retreat as in advance.
I fancy that General Meade will not bring up his lagging forces until
we near the Potomac."

"They say it's rising, sir, and that it will be very hard to cross."

"That creates a difficulty but not an impossibility.  Ordinary men yield
to difficulties, men like our commander-in-chief are overcome only by
impossibilities.  But the further we go, Harry, the more reconciled I
grow to our withdrawal.  I have seen scarcely a friendly face among the
population.  I would not have us thrust ourselves upon people who do not
like us.  It would go very hard with our kindly Southern nature to have
to rule by force over people who are in fact our brethren.  Defensive
wars are the just wars, and perhaps it will be really better for us to
retire to Virginia and protect its sacred soil from the tread of the
invader.  Eh, Hector?"

"Right, as usual, Leonidas.  The reasons for our retirement are most
excellent.  We have already spoken of the fact that Philadelphia might
prove a Capua for our young troops, and now we are relieved from the
chance of appearing as oppressors.  It can never be said of us by the
people of Pennsylvania that we were tyrants.  It's an invidious task to
rule over the unwilling, even when one rules with justice and wisdom.
It's strange, perhaps, Leonidas, but it's a universal truth, that people
would rather be ruled by themselves in a second rate manner than by the
foreigner in a first rate manner.  Now, the government of our states is
attacked by Northern critics, but such as it is, it is ours and it's our
first choice.  Do we bore you, Harry?"

"Not at all, sir.  I never listen to either you or Colonel Talbot without
learning something."

The two colonels bowed politely.

"I have wished for some time to speak to you about a certain matter,
Hector," said Colonel Talbot.

"What is it, Leonidas?"

"During the height of that tremendous artillery fire from Little Round
Top I was at a spot where I could see the artillerymen very well whenever
the smoke lifted.  Several times, I noticed an officer directing the
fire of the guns, and I don't think I could have been mistaken in his
identity."

"No, Leonidas, you were not.  I too observed him, and we could not
possibly be mistaken.  It was John Carrington, of course."

"Dear old John Carrington, who was with us at West Point, the greatest
artilleryman in the world.  And he was facing us, when the fortunes of
the South were turning on a hair.  If any other man had been there,
directing those guns, we might have taken Cemetery Hill."

"That's true, Leonidas, but it was not possible for any other man to be
in such a place at such a time.  Granting that such a crisis should arise
and that it should arise at Gettysburg you and I would have known long
before that John would be there with the guns to stop us.  Why, we saw
that quality in him all the years we were with him at West Point.
The world has never seen and never will see another such artilleryman as
John Carrington."

"Good old John.  I hope he wasn't killed."

"And I hope so too, from the bottom of my heart.  But we'll know before
many days."

"How will you find out?" asked Harry curiously.

Both colonels laughed genially.

"Because he will send us signs, unmistakable signs," replied Colonel
Talbot.

"I don't understand, sir."

"His signs will be shells, shrapnel and solid shot.  We may not have a
battle this week or next week, but a big one is bound to come some time
or other and then if any section of the Northern artillery shows uncommon
deadliness and precision we'll know that Carrington is there.  Why,
we can recognize his presence as readily as the deer scents the hunter.
We'll have many notes to compare with him when the war is over."

Harry sincerely hoped that the three would meet in friendship around
some festive table, and he was moved by the affection and admiration the
two colonels held for Carrington.  Doubtless the great artilleryman's
feelings toward them were the same.

They went into camp once more that night in a pleasant rolling country of
high hills, rich valleys, scattered forests, and swift streams of clear
water.  Harry liked this Northern land, which was yet not so far from the
South.  It was not more beautiful than his own Kentucky, but it was much
trimmer and neater than the states toward the Gulf.  He saw all about
him the evidences of free labor, the proof that man worked more readily,
and with better results, when success or failure were all his own.

He was too young to spend much time in concentrated thinking, but as he
looked upon the neat Pennsylvania houses and farms and the cultivated
fields he felt the curse of black slavery in the South, but he felt also
that it was for the South itself to abolish it, and not for the armed
hand of the outsider, an outsider to whom its removal meant no financial
loss and dislocation.

Despite himself his mind dwelt upon these things longer than before.
He disliked slavery, his father disliked it, and nearly all their friends
and relatives, and here they were fighting for it, as one of the two
great reasons of the Civil War.  He felt anew how strangely things come
about, and that even the wisest cannot always choose their own courses
as they wish them.

A fire, chiefly for cooking purposes, had been built for the general and
his staff in a cove surrounded by trees.  A small cold spring gushed from
the side of a hill, flowed down the center of the cove, and then made its
way through the trees into the wider world beyond.  It was a fine little
spring, and before the general came, the younger members of the staff
knelt and drank deeply at it.  It brought thoughts of home to all these
young rovers of the woods, who had drunk a thousand times before at just
such springs as this.

Soon Lee and his generals sat there on the stones or on the moss.
Longstreet, Stuart, Pickett, Alexander, Ewell, Early, Hill and many
others, some suffering from wounds, were with their commander, while the
young officers who were to fetch and carry sat on the fringe in the woods,
or stretched themselves on the turf.

Harry was in the group, but except in extreme emergency he would not
be on duty that night, as he had already been twenty-four hours in the
saddle.  Nevertheless he was not yet sleepy, and lying on his blanket,
he watched the leaders confer, as they had conferred every other night
since the Battle of Gettysburg.  He was aware, too, that the air was
heavy with suspense and anxiety.  He breathed it in at every breath.
Cruel doubt was not shown by words or actions, but it was an atmosphere
which one could not mistake.

Word had been brought in the afternoon by hard riders of Stuart that the
Potomac was still rising.  It could not be forded and the active Northern
cavalry was in between, keeping advanced parties of the Southern army
from laying pontoons.  Every day made the situation more desperate,
and it could not be hidden from the soldiers, who, nevertheless, marched
cheerfully on, in the sublime faith that Lee would carry them through.

Harry knew that if the Army of the Potomac was not active in pursuit its
cavalrymen and skirmishers were.  As on the night before, he heard the
faint report of shots, and he knew that rough work was going forward
along the doubtful line, where the fringes of the two armies almost met.
But hardened so much was he that he fell asleep while the generals were
still in anxious council, and the fitful firing continued in the distant
dark.




CHAPTER III

THE FLOODED RIVER


Harry and Dalton were aroused before daylight by Colonel Peyton of Lee's
staff, with instructions to mount at once, and join a strong detachment,
ready to go ahead and clear a way.  Sherburne's troop would lead.
The Invincibles, for whom mounts had been obtained, would follow.
There were fragments of other regiments, the whole force amounting to
about fifteen hundred men, under the command of Sherburne, who had been
raised the preceding afternoon to the rank of Colonel, and whose skill
and valor were so well known that such veterans as Colonel Talbot and
Lieutenant Colonel St. Hilaire were glad to serve under him.  Harry and
Dalton would represent the commander-in-chief, and would return whenever
Colonel Sherburne thought fit to report to him.

Harry was glad to go.  While he had his periods of intense thought,
and his character was serious, he was like his great ancestor,
essentially a creature of action.  His blood flowed more swiftly with the
beat of his horse's hoofs, and his spirits rose as the free air of the
fields and forests rushed past him.  Moreover he was extremely anxious to
see what lay ahead.  If barriers were there he wanted to look upon them.
If the Union cavalry were trying to keep them from laying bridges across
the Potomac he wanted to help drive them away.

Harry and Dalton had a right as aides and messengers of Lee to ride with
Sherburne, but before they joined him they rode among the Invincibles,
who were in great feather, because they too, for the time being, rode,
and toiled in neither dust nor mud.

"Colonel Sherburne may think a good deal of his own immediate troop,"
said St. Clair to Harry, "but if the men of the Invincibles could achieve
so much on foot they'll truly deserve their name on horseback.  Where is
this enemy of ours?  Lead us to him."

"You'll find him soon enough," said Harry.  "You South Carolina talkers
have learned many times that the Yankees will fight."

"Yes, Harry, I admit it freely.  But you must admit on your part that the
South Carolinians will fight as well as talk, although at present most of
the South Carolinians in this regiment are Virginians."

"But not our colonel and lieutenant-colonel," said Happy Tom.  "Real old
South Carolina still leads."

"May they always lead!" said Harry heartily, looking at the two gray
figures.

"Tell Colonel Sherburne," said Happy Tom, who was in splendid spirits,
"that we congratulate him on his promotion and are ready to obey him
without question."

"All right.  He'll be glad to know that he has your approval."

"He might have the approval of worse men.  I feel surging within me the
talents of a great general, but I'm too young to get 'em recognized."

"You'll have to wait until the sections are not fighting each other,
but are united against a common foe.  But meanwhile I'll tell Colonel
Sherburne that if he gets into a tight pinch not to lose heart as you are
here."

Saluting Colonel Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire, Harry and
Dalton rode to the head of the column, where Sherburne led.  They ate
their breakfast on horseback, and went swiftly down a valley in the
general direction of the Potomac.  The dawn had broadened into full
morning, clear and bright, save for a small cloud that hung low in the
southwest, which Sherburne noticed with a frown.

"That's a little cloud and it looks innocent," he said to Harry, "but I
don't like it."

"Why not?"

"Because in the ten minutes that I've been watching it I've been able to
notice growth.  I'm weather-wise and we may have more rain.  More rain
means a higher Potomac.  A higher Potomac means more difficulty in
crossing it.  More difficulty in crossing it means more danger of our
destruction, and our destruction would mean the end of the Confederacy."

He spoke with deadly earnestness as he continued to look at the tiny
dusky spot on the western sky.  Harry had a feeling of awe.  Again he
realized that such mighty issues could turn upon a single hair.  The
increase or decrease of that black splotch might mean the death or life
of the Confederacy.  As he rode he watched it.

His heart sank slowly.  The little baby cloud, looking so harmless,
was growing.  He said to himself in anger that it was not, but he knew
that it was.  Black at the center, it radiated in every direction until
it became pale gray at the edges, and by and by, as it still spread,
it gave to the southwest an aspect that was distinctly sinister.

Sherburne shook his head and the gravity of his face increased.  As the
cloud grew alarm grew with it in his mind.

"Maybe it will pass," said Harry hopefully.

"I don't think so.  It's not moving away.  It just hangs there and grows
and grows.  You're a woodsman, Harry, and you ought to feel it.  Don't
you think the atmosphere has changed?"

"I didn't have the courage to say so until you asked me, but it's damper.
If I were posing as a prophet I should say that we're going to have rain."

"And so should I. Usually at this period of the year in our country we
want rain, but now we dread it like a pestilence.  At any other time the
Potomac could rise or fall, whenever it pleased, for all I cared, but now
it's life and death."

"Our doubts are decided and we've lost.  Look, sir the whole southwest is
dark now!"

"And here come the first drops!"

Sherburne sent hurried orders among the men to keep their ammunition and
weapons dry, and then they bent their heads to the storm which would beat
almost directly in their faces.  Soon it came without much preliminary
thunder and lightning.  The morning that had been warm turned cold and
the rain poured hard upon them.  Most of the horsemen were wet through in
a short time, and they shivered in their sodden uniforms, but it was a
condition to which they were used, and they thought little of themselves
but nearly all the while of the Potomac.

Few words were spoken.  The only sounds were the driving of the rain and
the thud of many hoofs in the mud.  Harry often saw misty figures among
the trees on the hills, and he knew that they were watched by hostile
eyes as the Northern armies in Virginia, were always watched with the
same hostility.  It was impossible for Lee's men to make any secret
march.  The population, intensely loyal to the Union, promptly carried
news of it to Meade or his generals.

Twice he pointed out the watchers to Sherburne who merely shrugged his
shoulders.

"I might send out men and cut off a few of them," he said, "but for what
good?  Hundreds more would be left and we'd merely be burdened with
useless prisoners.  Here's a creek ahead, Harry, and look how muddy and
foamy it is!  It's probably raining harder higher up in the hills than
it is here, and all these creeks and brooks go to swell the Potomac."

The swift water rose beyond their stirrups and there was a vast splashing
as fifteen hundred men rode through the creek.  It was a land of many
streams, and a few miles farther on they crossed another, equally swollen
and swift.

They had hoped that the rain, like the sudden violence of a summer shower,
would pass soon, but the skies remained a solid gray and it settled into
a steady solemn pour, cold and threatening, and promising to continue all
day long.  They could see that every stream they crossed was far above
its normal mark, and the last hope that they might find the Potomac low
enough for fording disappeared.

The watchers on the hills were still there, despite the rain, but they
did no sharpshooting.  Nor did the Southern force do damage to anybody or
anything, as it passed.  Near noon Sherburne resolved to build a fire in
a cove protected by cliffs and heavy timber, and give his men warm food
lest they become dispirited.

It was a task to set the wet wood, but the men of his command, used to
forest life, soon mastered it.  Then they threw on boughs and whole tree
trunks, until a great bonfire blazed and roared merrily, thrusting out
innumerable tongues of red and friendly flame.

"Is there anything more beautiful than a fine fire at such a time?"
said St. Clair to Harry.  "As it blazes and eats into the wood it
crackles and those crackling sounds are words."

"What do the words say?"

"They say, 'Come here and stand before me.  So long as you respect me and
don't come too close I'll do you nothing but good.  I'll warm you and
I'll dry you.  I'll drive the wet from your skin and your clothes,
and I'll chase the cold out of your body and bones.  I'll take hold of
your depressed and sunken heart and lift it up again.  Where you saw only
gray and black I'll make you see gold and red.  I'll warm and cook your
food for you, giving you fresh life and strength.  With my crackling
coals and my leaping flames I'll change your world of despair into a
world of hope.'"

"Hear!  Hear!" said Happy Tom.  "Arthur has turned from a sodden soldier
into a giddy poet!  Is any more poetry left in the barrel, Arthur?"

"Plenty, but I won't turn on the tap again to-day.  I've translated for
you.  I've shown you where beauty and happiness lie, and you must do the
rest for yourself."

They crowded about the huge fire which ran the entire length of the cove,
and watched the cooks who had brought their supplies on horseback.
Great quantities of coffee were made, and they had bacon and hard
biscuits.

Although the rain still reached them in the cove they forgot it as they
ate the good food--any food was good to them--and drank cup after cup of
hot coffee.  Youthful spirits rose once more.  It wasn't such a bad day
after all!  It had rained many times before and people still lived.
Also, the Potomac had risen many times before, but it always fell again.
They were riding to clear the way for Lee's invincible army which could
go wherever it wanted to go.

"Men on horseback looking at us!" hailed Happy Tom.  "About fifty on a
low hill on our right.  Look like Yankee cavalrymen.  Wonder what they
take us for anyway!"

Harry, St. Clair, Langdon and Dalton walked to the edge of the cove,
every one holding a cup of hot coffee in his hand.  Sherburne was already
there and with his glasses was examining the strange group, as well as he
could through the sweeping rain.

"A scouting party undoubtedly," he said, "but weather has made their
uniforms and ours look just about alike.  It's equally certain though
that they're Yankees.  No troop of ours so small would be found here."

Harry was also watching them through glasses, and he took particular note
of one stalwart figure mounted upon a powerful horse.  The distance was
too great to recognize the face, but he knew the swing of the broad
shoulders.  It was Shepard and once more he had the uneasy feeling winch
the man always inspired in him.  He appeared and reappeared with such
facility, and he was so absolutely trackless that he had begun to appear
to him as omniscient.  Of course the man knew all about Sherburne's
advance and could readily surmise its purpose.

"They're an impudent lot to sit there staring at us in that supercilious
manner," said Colonel Talbot.  "Shall I take the Invincibles, sir,
and teach them a lesson?"

Sherburne smiled and shook his head.

"No, Colonel," he said, "although I thank you for the offer.  They'd melt
away before you and we'd merely waste our energies.  Let them look as
much as they please, and now that the boys have eaten their bread and
bacon and drunk their coffee, and are giants again, we'll ride on toward
the Potomac."

"Do we reach it to-day, sir?" asked Colonel Talbot.

"Not before to-morrow afternoon, even if we should not be interrupted.
This is the enemy's country and we may run at any time into a force as
large as our own if not larger."

"Thank you for the information, Colonel Sherburne.  My ignorance of
geography may appear astonishing to you, although we had to study it very
hard at West Point.  But I admit my weakness and I add, as perhaps some
excuse, that I have lately devoted very little attention to the Northern
states.  It did not seem worth my time to spend much study on the rivers,
and creeks and mountains of what is to be a foreign country--although I
may never be able to think of John Carrington and many other of my old
friends in the army as the foreigners they're sure to become.  Has the
thought ever occurred to you, Colonel, that by our victories we're making
a tremendous lot of foreigners in America?"

"It has, Colonel Talbot, but I can't say that the thought has ever been a
particularly happy one."

"It's the Yankees who are being made into foreigners," said Lieutenant-
Colonel St. Hilaire.  "The gallant Southern people, of course, remain
what they are."

"They're going," said Harry.  "They've seen enough of us."

The distant troop disappeared over the crest of the hill.  Harry had
noticed that Shepard led the way as if he were the ruling spirit, but he
did not consider it necessary to say anything to the others about him.
The trumpet blew and Sherburne's force, mounting, rode away from the
cove.  Harry cast one regretful glance back at the splendid fire which
still glowed there, and then resigned himself to the cold and rain.

They did not stop again until far in the night.  The rain ceased, but the
whole earth was sodden and the trees on the low ridge, on which Sherburne
camped, dripped with water.  Spies might be all around them, but for the
sake of physical comfort and the courage that he knew would come with it,
he ordered another big fire built.  Vigilant riflemen took turns in
beating up the forests and fields for possible enemies, but the young
officers once more enjoyed the luxury of the fire.  Their clothing was
dried thoroughly, and their tough and sinewy frames recovered all their
strength and elasticity.

"To enjoy being dry it is well to have been wet," said Dalton
sententiously.

"That's just like you, you old Presbyterian," said Happy Tom.  "I suppose
you'll argue next that you can't enjoy Heaven unless you've first burned
in the other place for a thousand years."

"There may be something in that," said Dalton gravely, "although the test,
of course, would be an extremely severe one."

"I know which way you're headed, George."

"Then tell me, because I don't know myself."

"As soon as this war is over you'll enter the ministry, and no sin will
get by you, not even those nice little ones that all of us like to
forgive."

"Maybe you're right, Happy, and if I do go into the ministry I shall
at once begin long and earnest preparation for the task which would
necessarily be the most difficult of my life."

"And may I make so bold as to inquire what it is, George?"

"Your conversion, Happy."

Langdon grinned.

"But why do you want to convert me, George?  I'm perfectly happy as I am."

"For your own well being, Tom.  Your happiness is nothing to me, but I
want to make you good."

Both laughed the easy laugh of youth, but Harry looked long at Dalton.
He thought that he detected in him much of the spirit of Stonewall
Jackson, and that here was one who had in him the makings of a great
minister.  The thought lingered with him.

St. Clair was carefully smoothing out his uniform and brushing from it
the least particle of mud.  His first preoccupation always asserted
itself at the earliest opportunity, and in a very short time he was the
neatest looking man in the entire force.  Harry, although he often jested
with him about it, secretly admired this characteristic of St. Clair's.

"You boys sleep while you can," said Sherburne, "because we can't afford
to linger in this region.  Our safety lies in rapid marching, giving the
enemy no chance to gather a large force and trap us.  Make the best of
your time because we're up and away an hour after midnight."

The young officers were asleep within ten minutes, but the vigilant
riflemen patrolled the country in a wide circuit about them.  Sherburne
himself, although worn by hard riding, slept but little.  Anxiety kept
his eyes open.  He knew that his task to find a passage for the army
across the swollen Potomac was of the utmost importance and he meant to
achieve it.  He understood to the full the dangerous position in which
the chief army of the Confederacy stood.  His own force might be attacked
at any moment by overwhelming numbers and be cut off and destroyed or
captured, but he also knew the quality of the men he led, and he believed
they were equal to any task.

As he sat by the fire thinking somberly, a figure in the brush no great
distance away was watching him.  Shepard, the spy, in the darkness had
passed with ease between the sentinels, using the skill of an Indian in
stalking or approaching, and now, lying well hidden, almost flat upon his
stomach, he surveyed the camp.  He looked at Sherburne, sitting on a log
and brooding, and he made out Harry's figure wrapped in a blanket and
lying with his feet to the fire.

Shepard's mind was powerfully affected.  An intense patriot, something
remote and solitary in his nature had caused him to undertake this most
dangerous of all trades, to which he brought an intellectual power and
comprehension that few spies possess.  As Harry had discovered long since,
he was a most uncommon man.

Now Shepard as he gazed at this little group felt no hatred for them or
their men.  He had devoted his life to the task of keeping the Union
intact.  His work must be carried out in obscure ways.  He could never
hope for material reward, and if he perished it would be in some
out-of-the-way corner, perhaps at the end of a rope, a man known to so
few that there would be none to forget him.  And yet his patriotism was
so great and of such a fine quality that he viewed his enemies around the
fire as his brethren.  He felt confident that the armies of the North
would bring them back into the Union, and when that occurred they must
come as Americans on an equal footing with other Americans.  They could
not be in the Union and not of it.

But Shepard's feeling for his official enemies would not keep him from
acting against them with all the skill, courage and daring that he
possessed in such supreme measure.  He knew that it was Sherburne's task
to open a way for the Army of Northern Virginia to the Potomac and to
find a ford, or, in cooperation with some other force, to build a bridge.
It was for him to defeat the plan if he could.

While the rain all the day before had brought gloom to the hearts of
Sherburne and his men it had filled his with joy, as he thought of the
innumerable brooks and creeks that were pouring their swollen waters into
the Potomac, already swollen too.  He meant now to follow Sherburne's
force, see what plan it would attempt, what point, perhaps, it would
select for the bridge, and then bring the Union brigades in haste to
defeat it.

It is said that men often feel when they are watched, although the
watcher is invisible, but it was not so in Sherburne's case.  He did not
in the least suspect the presence of Shepard or of any foe, and the spy,
after he had seen all he wished, withdrew, with the same stealth that had
marked his coming.

An hour after midnight all were awakened and they rode away.  The next
day they reached the Potomac near Williamsport, where their pontoon
bridge had been destroyed, and looked upon the wide stream of the Potomac,
far too deep for fording.

"If General Lee is attacked on the banks of this river by greatly
superior forces," said Sherburne, "he'll have no time to build bridges.
If we didn't happen to be victorious our forces would have to scatter
into the mountains, where they could be hunted down, man by man."

"But such a thing as that is unthinkable, sir," said Harry.  "We may not
win always, but here in the East we never lose.  Remember Antietam and
the river at our back."

"Right you are, Harry," said Sherburne more cheerfully.  "The general
will get us out of this, and here is where we must cross.  The river may
run down enough in two or three days to permit of fording.  God grant
that it will!"

"And so say I!" repeated Harry with emphasis.

"I mean to hold this place for our army," continued Sherburne.

"A reserved seat, so to speak."

"Yes, that's it.  We must keep the country cleared until our main
force comes up.  It shouldn't be difficult.  I haven't heard of any
considerable body of Union troops between us and the river."

They made camp rapidly in a strong position, built their fires for
cooking, set their horses to grazing and awaited what would come.
It was a dry, clear night, and Harry, who had no duties, save to ride
with a message at the vital moment, looked at once for his friends,
the Invincibles.

St. Clair met him and held up a warning hand, while Happy touched his lip
with his finger.  Before the double injunction of silence and caution,
Harry whispered:

"What's happened?"

"A tragedy," replied St. Clair.

"And a victory, too," said Happy Tom.

"I don't understand," said Harry.

"Then look and you will," said St. Clair.

He pointed to a small clear space in which Colonel Leonidas Talbot and
Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire sat on their blankets facing each
other with an empty cracker box between them, upon which their chess men
were spread.  The firelight plainly revealed a look of dismay upon the
face of Colonel Talbot, and with equal plainness a triumphant expression
upon that of Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire.

"Colonel Talbot has lost his remaining knight," whispered St. Clair.
"I don't know how it came about, but when the event occurred we heard
them both utter a cry.  Listen!"

"I fail even yet, Hector, to see just how it occurred." said Colonel
Talbot.

"But it has occurred, Leonidas, and that's the main thing.  A general in
battle does not always know how he is whipped, but the whipping hurts
just as much."

"You should not show too much elation over your triumph, Hector.
Remember that he laughs best who laughs last."

"I take my laugh whenever I can, Leonidas, because no one knows who is
going to laugh last.  It may be that he who laughs in the present will
also laugh at the end.  What do you mean by that move, Leonidas?"

"That to you is a mystery, Hector.  It's like one of Stonewall Jackson's
flanking marches, and in due time the secret will be revealed with
terrible results."

"Pshaw, Leonidas, you can't frighten a veteran like me.  That for your
move, and here's mine in reply."

The two gray heads bent lower over the board as the colonels made move
after move.  The youths standing in the shadow of the trees watched until
the second time that night the two uttered a simultaneous cry.  But they
were very different in quality.  Now Colonel Talbot's expressed victory
and Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire's consternation.

"Your bishop, Hector!" exclaimed Colonel Talbot.  "Pious and able
gentleman as he is, an honor to his cloth, he is nevertheless my captive."

"I admit that it was most unexpected, Leonidas.  You have matched my
victory with one of yours.  It was indeed most skillful and I don't yet
see what led to it."

"Did I not warn you a little while ago that you couldn't frighten me?
I prepared a trap for you, and thus I rise from defeat to victory."

"At any rate we are about even on the evening's work, Leonidas, and we
have made more progress than for the whole six months preceding.  It
seems likely now that we can finish our game soon."

A sudden crash of rifle fire toward the east and from a point not distant
told them no.  They rose to their feet, but they put the chessmen away
very deliberately, while the young officers hastened to their posts.
The fire continued and spread about them in a half circle, accompanied
now and then by the deeper note of a light field gun.  Sherburne made his
dispositions rapidly.  All the men remained on foot, but a certain number
were told off to hold the horses in the center of the camp.

"We're attacked by a large force," said Sherburne, "Our scouts gave us
warning in time.  Evidently they wish to drive us away from here because
this will be the ford in case the river falls in time."

"Then you look for a sharp fight?"

"Without question.  And remember that you're to avoid all risk if you
can.  It's not your business to get shot here, but it is your business,
and your highly important business, to ride back to General Lee with the
news of what's happening.  In order to do that it's necessary for you to
remain alive."

"I obey orders," said Harry reluctantly.

"Of course you do.  Keep back with the men who are holding the horses.
That fire is growing fast!  I'm glad we were able to find a camp so
defensible as this hill."

He hurried away to watch his lines and Harry remained at his station near
the horses, where Dalton was compelled by the same responsibility to stay
with him.  It was the first time that Harry had been forced to remain a
mere spectator of a battle raging around him, and while not one who
sought danger for danger's sake, it was hard work to control himself and
remain quiet and unmoved.

"I suspect they're trying to cut us off completely from our own army,"
he said to Dalton.

"Seems likely to me, too," said Dalton.  "Wipe us out here, and hold the
river for themselves.  Our scouts assured us that there was no large
force of the enemy in this region.  It must have been gathered in great
haste."

"In whatever way it was gathered, it's here, that's sure."

There was a good moon now, and, using his glasses, Harry saw many details
of the battle.  The attack was being pressed with great vigor and
courage.  He saw in a valley numerous bodies of cavalry, firing their
carbines, and he saw two batteries, of eight light guns each, move
forward for a better range.  Soon their shells were exploding near the
hill on which Harry stood, and the fire of the rifles, unbroken now,
grew rapidly in volume.

But the men under Sherburne, youthful though most of them might be,
were veterans.  They knew every trick of war, and columns of infantry
swept forward to meet the attack, preceded by the skirmishers, who took
heavy toll of the foe.

"If they'd been able to make it a surprise they might have rushed us,"
said Harry.

"Nobody catches Sherburne sleeping," said Dalton.

"That's true, and because they can't they won't be able to overcome him
here.  Now there go our rifles!  Listen to that crash.  I fancy that
about a thousand were fired together, and they weren't fired for nothing."

"No," said Dalton, "but the Yankees don't give way.  You can see by their
line of fire that they're still coming.  Look there!  A powerful body of
horse is charging!"

It was unusual to see cavalry attack at night, and the spectacle was
remarkable, as the moonlight fell on the raised sabers.  But the defiant
rebel yell, long and fierce, rose from the thicket, and, as the rifles
crashed, the entire front of the charging column was burned away, as if
by a stroke of lightning.  But after a moment of hesitation they came on,
only to ride deeper into a rifle fire which emptied saddles so fast that
they were at last compelled to turn and gallop away.

"Brave men," said Harry.  "A gallant charge, but it had to meet too many
Southern rifles, aimed by men who know how to shoot."

"But their infantry are advancing through that wood," said Dalton.
"Hear them cheering above the rifle fire!"

The Northern shout rang through the forest, and the rebel yell, again
full of defiance, replied.  The cavalry had been driven off, but the
infantry and artillery were far from beaten.  The sixteen guns of the
two batteries were massed on a hill and they began to sweep the Southern
lines with a storm of shells and shrapnel.  The forest and the dark were
no protection, because the guns searched every point of the Southern line
with their fire.  Sherburne's men were forced to give ground, before
cannon served with such deadly effect.

"What will the colonel do?" asked Dalton.  "The big guns give the Yankees
the advantage."

"He'll go straight to the heart of the trouble," said Harry.  "He'll
attack the guns themselves."

He did not know actually in what manner Sherburne would proceed, but he
was quite sure that such would be his course.  The wary Southern leader
instantly detailed a swarm of his best riflemen to creep through the
woods toward the cannon.  In a few minutes the gunners themselves were
under the fire of hidden marksmen who shot surpassingly well.  The
gunners, the cannoneers, the spongers, the rammers and the ammunition
passers were cut down with deadly certainty.

The captain of the guns, knowing that the terrible rifle fire was coming
from the thickets, deluged the woods and bushes with shells and shrapnel,
but the riflemen lay close, hugging the ground, and although a few were
killed and more wounded, the vast majority crept closer and closer,
shooting straight and true in the moonlight.  The fire from the batteries
became scattered and wild.  Their crews were cut down so fast that not
enough men were left to work the guns, and their commander reluctantly
gave the order to withdraw to a less exposed position.

"Rifles triumphant over artillery," said Harry, who studied everything
through his glasses; "but of course the dusk helped the riflemen."

"That's true," said Dalton, "but it takes good men like Sherburne to use
the favoring chances.  Now our boys are charging!"

The tremendous rebel yell swelled through the forest, and the Southern
infantry rushed to the attack.  Harry saw that the charge was successful,
and his ears told him so too.  The firing moved further and further away,
and soon declined in volume.

"They've been beaten off," said Harry.

"At least for the time," said Dalton, "but I've an idea they'll hang on
our front and may attack again in a day or so."

"How then are you and I to get through and tell General Lee that this is
the place to bridge the Potomac, if it's to be bridged at all?"

Dalton shook his head.

"I don't know," he replied, "and I won't think about it until Colonel
Sherburne gives his orders."

The sounds of battle died in the distant woods.  The last shot, whether
from cannon or rifle, was fired, and the Southern troops returned to
their positions, which they began to fortify strongly.  Sherburne
appeared presently, his uniform cut by bullets in two or three places,
but his body untouched.  He drew Harry and Dalton aside, where their
words could not be heard by anybody else.

"You two," he said, "were to report to General Lee when I thought fit.
Well, the time has come; Harry, you go first, and, at a suitable moment,
George will follow.  We have news of surpassing importance.  We took
a number of prisoners in that battle and we were also lucky enough to
rescue several of our men who had been held as captives.  We've learned
from them that General Meade, after making up his mind to pursue,
followed straight behind us for a while, but he has now turned and gone
southward in the direction of Frederick.  He will cross South Mountain,
advance toward Sharpsburg, and attempt to smash us here, with our backs
to this swollen river.  Why, some of the Federal leaders consider the
Army of Northern Virginia as good as destroyed already!"

He spoke with angry emphasis.

"But it isn't," said Harry.

"No, it isn't.  Doubtless General Lee will learn from scouts of his own
of General Meade's flanking movement, but we mustn't take the chance.
Moreover, we must tell him that this is the place for our army to cross.
If the river runs down in two or three days we'll have a ford here."

"I'm ready to go at any moment," said Harry.  "Night helping me, I may be
able to ride through the lines of our enemies out there."

"No, Harry, you must not go that way.  They're so vigilant that you would
not have any possible chance.  Nor can you ride.  You must leave your
horse behind."

"What way then must I go, sir?"

"By the river.  We have gathered up a few small boats, used at the
crossing here.  You can row, can't you?"

"Fairly well, sir."

"'Twill do, because you're not to stay in the boat long.  I want you to
drop down the stream until you're well beyond the Federal lines.  Then
leave the boat and strike out across the country for General Lee.
You know the way.  You can buy or seize a horse, and you must not fail."

"I will not fail," said Harry confidently.

"You'll succeed if anybody will, and now you must be off.  Your pistols
are loaded, Harry?  You may have to use them."

They did not delay a minute, going down the shelving shore to the Potomac,
where a man held a small boat against the bank.

"Get in, Harry," said Sherburne.  "You'd better drop down three or four
miles, at least.  Good-by and good luck."

He shook hands with his colonel and Dalton, took the oars and pulled far
out into the stream.




CHAPTER IV

A HERALD TO LEE


When he swept out upon the sullen bosom of the Potomac, Harry looked back
only once.  He saw two dim figures going up the bank, and, at its crest,
a line of lights that showed the presence of the Southern force.  There
was no sound of firing, and he judged that the enemy had withdrawn to a
distance of two or three miles.

The night had turned darker since the battle ceased, and not many stars
were out.  Clouds indicated that flurries of rain might come, but he did
not view them now with apprehension.  Darkness and rain would help a
herald to Lee.  The current was strong, and he did not have to pull hard,
but, observing presently that the far shore was fringed with bushes,
he sent the boat into their shadow.

He did not anticipate any danger from the southern shore, but the old
inherited caution of the forest runners was strong within him.  Under the
hanging bushes he was well hidden, but, in some places, the flood in the
river had turned the current back upon itself, and he was compelled to
pull with vigor on the oars.

The clouds that had threatened did not develop much, and while the
forests were dark, the surface of the river showed clearly in the faint
moonlight.  Any object upon it could be seen from either bank, and Harry
was glad that he had sought the shelter of the overhanging bushes.
He realized now that in this region, which was really the theater of war,
many scouts and skirmishers must be about.

The bank above him was rather high and quite steep, for which he was glad,
as it afforded protection.  A half mile farther down he came to the mouth
of a creek coming in from the South, and just as he passed it he heard
voices on the bank.  He held his boat among the bushes on the cliff and
listened.  Several men were talking, but he judged them to be farmers,
not soldiers.  Yet they talked of the battle that night, and Harry
surmised that they were looking at the lights in the Southern camp which
might yet be visible from the high point on which they stood.  He could
not gather from their words whether they were Northern or Southern
sympathizers, but it did not matter, as he had no intention of speaking
to them, hoping only that they would go away in a few minutes and let him
continue his journey unseen.

His hope speedily came to pass.  He heard their voices sinking in the
distance, and leaving the shelter of the bushes he pulled down the stream
once more.  Then he found that he had deceived himself about the clouds.
If they had retired, they had merely recoiled, to use the French phrase,
in order to gather again with greater force.

During his short stay among the bushes at the foot of the cliff the whole
heavens had blackened and the air was surcharged with the heavy damp and
tensity that betoken a coming storm.  The lightning blazed across the
river thrice, and he heard a mutter which was not that of cannon.
Then came rain and a rushing wind and the surface of the river was
troubled grievously.  It rose up in waves like those of a lake, and
Harry's boat rocked and tumbled so badly that in a few minutes it was
half-full of water.

Fearing he might sink, carrying with him his great message, he pulled
again, but fiercely now, for the southern bank and the shelter of the
bushes, which, fortunately for him, grew here in the water's edge.
He shoved his boat with all his might among them, as their tops snapped
and crackled in the hurricane.  But he knew he was safe there, and he
continued to push until it reached the edge of the land.

The river would be swollen by another storm, but for the present it did
not bother him greatly.  He was more immediately concerned with his wish
to get back to Lee as soon as possible, and he was grateful for that
dense clump of bushes, growing in the very water's edge, because the wind
was blowing like a hurricane and the waves were chasing one another on
the Potomac, like the billows on a lake.  He was a fair oarsman, but it
would have taken greater skill than his to have kept his boat afloat in
the tempestuous river.

The bushes formed an absolute protection.  His boat swayed with them,
which saved it from being damaged, and the overhanging lee of the cliff
kept most of the rain from him.  He also wrapped about his body the pair
of blankets that he always carried, and he sat there not only in safety,
but with a certain physical pleasure.

Once more amid surroundings with the like of which Henry Ware had been so
familiar, the soul of his great ancestor seemed to have descended upon
him.  Most young officers, no matter how brave or how skilled in war,
would have been awed and alarmed.  He had no comrades at his elbow.
There was no light, no friendly sound to encourage him, he was as truly
alone, so far as his present situation was concerned, as any pioneer had
ever been in the heart of the wilderness.  But for him there was pleasure
at that moment in being alone.  He did not quiver when the thunder rolled
and crashed above his head, and the lightning blazed in one Titanic
sword slash after another across the surface of the river.  Rather, the
wilderness and majesty of the scene appealed to him.  Leaning well back
in his boat with his blankets closely wrapped about him, he watched it,
and his soul rose with the storm.

Harry knew from its sudden violence that the rain would soon pass,
and if the waves abated a little he would certainly take his boat into
the river and try his fortunes again.  Yet a precious hour was lost,
and nothing could replace it.  The thunder ceased by and by and there was
only dim lightning on the far horizon.  The waves began to abate, and,
taking off his blankets, he pushed his boat once more into the stream.

It rocked prodigiously and shipped water, but by strenuous effort he kept
it afloat, and as the wind sank still further he decided that he would
seek the northern shore and disembark as soon as possible.  It would be
easier to steal through the thickets than to navigate what amounted to
a wild sea.  But the banks were yet too high and steep for a landing,
and he continued to row, keeping now near the middle of the stream.

Wind and rain were dying fast, and he heard a sound behind uncommonly
like the distant swish of oars.  It sent an unpleasant thrill through him,
because he wished to be alone on the river at that particular time,
but his eyes, tracing a course through all the dusk and gloom, rested
upon another boat, about two hundred yards away, containing a single
occupant.

A farmer or a riverman, Harry thought, but to his great astonishment
the man suddenly raised himself up a little and shouted to him in a
tremendous voice to halt.  Harry had not the least idea of stopping for
anybody.  He bent to his oars and rowed swiftly on.  Again came that
shout to halt, and it seemed more insolent to him than before.  He put a
few more ounces of strength into his arms and shoulders and increased his
speed.

The pursuer, suddenly drawing in his oars, raised a rifle from the bottom
of his boat, and fired point blank at the fugitive.  The bullet whistled
so near Harry that he felt his ear burn, and at first thought he was hit.
He would have been glad to fire back, but his pistols could not carry
like his enemy's rifle, and there was nothing to do but flee.  Once again
he sought to draw a few more ounces of energy from his body.  But the
man behind him was a much greater oarsman than he and gained rapidly.
The stranger, shouting another command to halt, to which no attention
was paid, fired a second time, and the bullet went through the side of
Harry's boat, barely scraping his knee as it passed.

His rage became intense.  He had been shot at many times in battle,
and many times he had fired his pistols into the opposing masses, but
here upon this river a man sought his life, as the savages of old sought
the hunter.  Another glance showed him that pursuer had closed up half
the distance between them, and, snatching one of the pistols from his
belt, he fired.  He knew that he had missed, as he saw the water spurt up
beside the boat, but he thought that his bullet and the probability of
more might delay the pursuit.  Nevertheless the man came on as boldly and
as fast as ever.  If he fired a third time he could scarcely miss at such
short range.

It seemed to Harry the gift of Heaven, that a whole pack of clouds should
drift above them at that moment, deepening the obscurity and making the
pursuing boat, although it was so near, a shapeless form in the mist.
He could not see the features of the man, but he was able to discern his
large and powerful figure, and he noticed the rhythmic manner in which
his arms and shoulders worked at the oars.  Obviously he had no chance to
escape him by flight, and drawing his second pistol he fired.  The bullet
struck the boat but did no damage.  The man came on faster than ever.
Harry took a desperate resolution, and, whirling his boat about, he
rowed it straight at his pursuer, who was now almost level with him.  He
intended to ram and take his chances.  His movement was so quick and
unexpected that it succeeded.  The bow of his boat, helped perhaps by a
wave, struck the other with such violence that both were shattered and
sank instantly.

Harry went down with his craft, but in a few seconds came up again,
his mouth and eyes full of muddy water.  He was a splendid swimmer,
and his eyes clearing in a moment he looked toward the northern shore,
seeking an easy place for landing.  They encountered ten feet away a
large sun-browned face and two burning eyes.

"Shepard!" Harry gasped.

"And so it was you, Lieutenant Kenton.  Perhaps if I had known it was you
I wouldn't have fired upon you."

"Don't let that deter you.  We're enemies."

"I merely said 'perhaps!'  I like you, but that wouldn't keep me from
stopping you by any method I could from reaching Lee."

"I'm sure it wouldn't.  I like you, too, Mr. Shepard, but we're enemies
here in this river, deadly enemies, and I mean to beat you off."

"One may mean to do a thing and yet not do it.  I'm the larger and the
more powerful.  Besides, I'm toughened by superior age.  You'd better
surrender, Mr. Kenton.  I don't want to do you any bodily harm."

"I admit that you're larger and stronger, but on land only.  I'm the
better swimmer.  We're both floating now, but if you'll make a comparison,
Mr. Shepard, you'll find that I'm doing it with the greatest ease.
Take my advice, and swim to the southern bank of the river while I go to
the northern.  I say it in all good faith."

"I've no doubt of that, but the young are likely to over-estimate their
powers.  I'm a good swimmer, and you can't escape me."

"The important point is not whether I can escape you, but whether you can
escape me.  Since you have lost your boat and your rifle and we're in
such a treacherous and unstable element as water, I occupy the superior
position.  The young may indeed over-estimate their powers, but in
swimming at least I'm a competent critic.  For instance, you're holding
your shoulders too high, and you kick too much.  You're splashing water,
a useless waste of energy.  Now observe me.  The surface of this river is
rough.  Little waves are yet running upon it, but I float as easily as a
fish, come up to see by the moon what time it is.  It is not egotism on
my part, merely a recognition of the facts, but I warn you, Mr. Shepard,
to swim to the other shore and let me alone."

The two were not ten feet apart, and, despite the lightness of their talk,
their eyes burned with eagerness and intensity.  Harry knew that Shepard
would not dream of turning back.  Yet in the water he awaited the result
with a confidence that he would not have felt on land.

"It's your move, Mr. Shepard," he said.

The intensity of Shepard's gaze increased, and Harry never took his eyes
from those of his enemy.  He intended like a prize fighter to read there
what the man's next effort would be.

"I don't see that it's my move," said Shepard, as he floated calmly.

"You're following me for the purpose of capturing me."

"To capture you, or delay you.  Meanwhile, it seems to me that I'm
delaying you very successfully.  I can't see that you're making much
progress towards Lee."

"That depends upon which way this river is flowing.  You note that we
float gently with the stream."

"It's a poor argument.  The Potomac flows directly by Washington, and
if we were to float on we'd float into the heart of great Northern
fortresses instead of Lee's camp."

"That's true as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough.  I'm
leaving the river soon.  You can have it all then."

"Thanks, but I think I'll go with you, Lieutenant Kenton."

"Then come to the bottom!" exclaimed Harry, as he dived forward like a
flash, seized Shepard by the ankles and headed for the bottom of the
river with him.  The water gurgled in his eyes and ears and nose, but he
held on for many seconds, despite the man's desperate struggles.  Then
he was forced to let go and rise.

As his head shot above the stream he saw another shooting up in the same
manner about fifteen feet away.  Both were choked and gasping, but Harry
managed to say:

"I didn't intend for you to come up so soon."

"I suppose not, but perhaps you didn't pause to think that when you rose
I'd rise with you."

"Yes, that's true.  It seems to me that matters grow complicated.
Can't you persuade yourself, Mr. Shepard, to go and leave me alone?
I really have no use for you here."

"I'd like to oblige you, Lieutenant Kenton, but I intend to see that you
don't reach General Lee."

"Still harping upon that?  It seems to me that you're a stupidly stubborn
man.  Don't you know that I'm going anyhow?"

Harry had never ceased to watch his eyes, and he saw there the signal of
a coming movement.  Shepard dived suddenly for him, intending to repeat
his own trick, but the youth was like a fish in the water, and he darted
to the right.  The man came up grasping nothing.  Harry laughed.  The
chagrin of Shepard compelled his amusement, although he liked the man.

"I wish you'd go away, Mr. Shepard," he said.  "On land you could,
perhaps, overpower me, but in the water I think I'm your master.  All
through my boyhood I devoted a great deal of my time to swimming.
Dr. Russell of the Pendleton Academy--but you never knew him--used to say
that if I would swim less and study more I could make greater pretensions
to scholarship."

Shepard, swimming rather easily, regarded him thoughtfully.

"While we talk to each other in this more or less polite manner,
Mr. Kenton," he said, "we must not forget that we're in deadly earnest.
I mean to take you, and our scouts mean to take every other messenger who
goes out from Colonel Sherburne's camp.  You know, and I know, that if
the Army of Northern Virginia does not reach in a few days that camp,
where there is a ford in ordinary weather, it will be driven up against
the Potomac and we can accumulate such great forces against it that it
cannot possibly escape.  Even at Sherburne's place its escape is more
than doubtful, if it has to linger long."

"Yes, I know these things quite well, Mr. Shepard.  I know also, as you
do, that General Meade's army is not in direct pursuit, and, that in a
flanking movement, he is advancing across South Mountain and toward
Sharpsburg.  It is a march well calculated and extremely dangerous to
General Lee, if he does not hear of it in time.  But he will hear of it
soon enough.  A comrade of mine, George Dalton, will tell him.  Others
from Colonel Sherburne's camp will tell him, and I mean to tell him too.
I hope to be the first to do so."

Harry never deceived himself for a moment.  He knew that although Shepard
liked him, he would go to the uttermost to stop him, and as for himself,
while he had a friendly feeling for the spy, he meant to use every weapon
he could against him.  Realizing that he could not linger much longer,
as the chill of the water was already entering his body, he swam closer
to Shepard, still staring directly into his eyes.  How thankful he was
now for those innumerable swimmings in the little river that ran near
Pendleton!  Everything learned well justifies itself some day.

Although there was but little moonlight they were so close together that
they could see the eyes of each other clearly, and Harry detected a
trace of uneasiness in those of Shepard.  A good swimmer, the water
nevertheless was not his element, and although a man of great physique
and extraordinary powers, he longed for the solid earth under his feet.

Harry drew himself together as if he were going to dive, but instead of
doing so suddenly raised himself in the water and shot forth his clenched
tight fist with all his might.  Shepard was taken completely by surprise
and he sank back under the water, leaving a blood stain on its surface.
Harry watched anxiously, but Shepard came up again in a moment or two,
gasping and swimming wildly.  The point of his jaw was presented fairly
and Harry struck again as hard as he could in the water.  Shepard with
a choked cry went under and Harry, diving forward, seized his body,
bringing it to the surface.

Shepard was senseless, but getting an arm under his shoulders Harry was
able to swim with him to the northern shore, although it took nearly all
his strength.  Then he dragged him out upon the bank, and sank down,
panting, beside him.

The great Civil War in America, the greatest of all wars until nearly
all the nations of Europe joined in a common slaughter, was a humane war
compared with other wars approaching it in magnitude.  It did not occur
to Harry to let Shepard drown, nor did he leave him senseless on the
bank.  As soon as his own strength returned he dragged him into a
half-sitting position, and rubbed the palms of his hands.  The spy opened
his eyes.

"Good-by, Mr. Shepard," said Harry.  "I'm bound to leave before you
recover fully because then I wouldn't be your match.  I'm sorry I had to
hit you so hard, but there was nothing else to do."

"I don't blame you.  It was man against man."

"The water was in my favor.  I'm bound to admit that on land you'd have
won."

"At any rate I thank you for dragging me out of the river."

"You'd have done as much for me."

"So I would, but our personal debts of gratitude can't be allowed to
interfere with our military duty."

"I know it.  Therefore I take a running start.  Good-by."

"We'll meet again."

"But not on this side of the Potomac.  It may happen when the Army of
Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac go into battle on the other
side of the river."

Harry darted into the forest, and ran for a half-hour.  He meant to put
as much distance as possible between Shepard and himself before the
latter's full strength returned.  He knew that Shepard would follow,
if he could, but it was not possible to trail one who had a long start
through dark and wet woods.

He came through the forest and into a meadow surrounded by a rail fence,
on which he sat until his breath came back again.  He had forgotten all
about his wet uniform, but the run was really beneficial to him as it
sent the blood leaping through his veins and warmed his body.

"So far have I come," said Harry, "but the omens promise a hard march."

He had his course fixed very clearly, and a veteran now in experience,
he could guide himself easily by the moon and stars.  The clouds were
clearing away and a warm wind promised him dry clothing, soon.  Long
afterward he thought it a strange coincidence that his cousin, Dick Mason,
in the far South should have been engaged upon an errand very similar in
nature, but different in incident.

He crossed the meadow, entered an orchard and then came to a narrow road.
The presence of the orchard indicated the proximity of a farmhouse,
and it occurred to Harry that he might buy a horse there.  The farmer
was likely to be hostile, but risks must be taken.  He drew his pistols.
He knew that neither could be fired after the thorough wetting in the
river, but the farmer would not know that.  He saw the house presently,
a comfortable two-story frame building, standing among fine shade trees.
Without hesitation he knocked heavily on the door with the butt of a
pistol.

He was so anxious to hasten that his blows would have aroused the best
sleeper who ever slept, and the door was quickly opened by an elderly man,
not yet fully awake.

"I want to buy a horse."

"Buy a horse?  At this time of the night?"

He was about to slam the door, but Harry put his foot over the sill and
the muzzle of his pistol within six inches of the man's nose.

"I want to buy a horse," he repeated, "and you want to sell one to me.
I think you realize that fact, don't you?"

"Yes, I do," replied the man, looking down the muzzle of the big horse
pistol.

"Come outside and close the door behind you.  I know you haven't on many
clothes, but the night's warm, and you need fresh air."

The man with the muzzle of the pistol still near his nose, obeyed.
But as he looked at the weapon he also had a comprehensive view of the
one who held it.

"Wet ain't you?" he said.

"Do you think it necessary to put it in the form of a question?"

"I don't like to say, unless I'm shore."

"Where do you keep your horses?"

"In the barn here to the left.  What kind of a horse did you think you'd
keer fur most, stranger?"

"The biggest, the strongest and fastest you've got"

"I thought mebbe you'd want one with wings, you 'pear to be in such a
pow'ful hurry.  I wish you wouldn't keep that pistol so near to my nose.
'Sides, you've gethered so much mud an' water 'bout you that you ain't so
very purty to look at!"

"It's your own mud and water.  I didn't bring it into this country with
me."

"Which means that you don't belong in these parts.  I reckon lookin' at
you that you wuz one o' them rebels that went to Gettysburg and then come
back ag'in."

"Exactly right, Mr. Farmer.  I'm an officer in General Lee's army."

"Then I wuz right 'bout you needin' a horse with wings.  An' I guess all
the men in your army need horses with wings.  Don't be in such a tarnal
hurry.  You're goin' to stay right up here with us, boarders, so to speak,
till the war is over."

Harry laughed.

"Kind of you," he said, "but here is the stable and do you open the stall
doors one by one, and let me see the horses.  At the first sign of any
trick I pull the trigger."

"Well, as I don't like violence I'll show you the horses.  Here's the
gray mare, five years old, swift but can't last long.  This is old Rube,
nigh onto ten, mighty strong, but as balky as a Johnny Reb hisself.
Don't want him!  No?  Then I think that's about all."

"No it's not!  You open that last stall door at once!"

The farmer made a wry face, and threw back the door with a slam.  Harry
still covering the man with the pistol that couldn't go off, saw a
splendid bay horse about four years old.

"Holding out on me, were you?" he said.  "Did you think a Confederate
officer could be fooled in that manner?"

"I reckon I oughtn't to have thought so.  I've always heard that the
rebels had mighty good eyes for Yankee horseflesh."

"I'll let that pass, because maybe it's true.  Now, saddle and bridle him
quicker than ever before in your life."

The farmer did so, and Harry took care to see that the girth was secure.

"At how much did you value this horse?" he asked.

"I did put him down at two hundred dollars, but I reckon he's worth
nothin' to me now."

"Here's your money.  When General Lee goes through the enemy's country he
pays for what he takes."

He thrust a roll of good United States bills into the astonished man's
hand, and sprang upon the horse.  Then he turned from the stable and rode
swiftly up the road, but not so swiftly that he did not hear a bullet
singing past his ears.  A backward glance showed him an elderly farmer in
his night clothes standing on his porch and reloading his rifle.

"Well, I can't blame you, I suppose," said Harry.  "You can guess pretty
well what I am, and it's your business to stop me."

But he rode fast enough to be far beyond the range of a second bullet,
and maintained a good pace for a long time, through hilly and wooded
country.  His uniform dried upon him, and his hardy form felt no ill
result from the struggle in the river.  The horse was strong and spirited,
and Harry knew that he could carry him without weariness to Lee.  He
looked upon his mission as already accomplished, but his ambition to
reach the commander-in-chief first was yet strong.

He rode throughout the rest of the night and dawn and the pangs of hunger
came together.  But he decided that he would not turn from his path to
seek food.  He would go on straight for Lee and let hunger have its way.
He had a splendid horse under him and he was faring quite as well as he
had a right to expect.  He thought of Shepard, and felt pity for him.
The man had only striven to do his duty, and while he had used force
he had been very courteous and polite about it.  Harry was bound to
acknowledge that his had been a very chivalrous enemy and only his
superiority in swimming had enabled him to win over Shepard.  He was glad
that he had saved him and had left him on the bank, so to speak, to dry.

Then Shepard faded away with the mists and vapors that were retreating
before a brilliant dawn.  The country was high, rolling, and the foliage,
although much browned by the July sun, which was unusually hot that year,
was still dense.  Most of the hills were heavy with forest, but all the
valleys between were fertile and well cultivated.  With the dew of the
morning fresh upon it the whole region was refreshing and soothing to the
eye with a look of peace, where in reality there was no peace.  Many thin
columns of smoke lying blue against the silver sky told where farmhouses
stood, and hunger suddenly seized upon Harry again.

Hunger is natural to youth, and his severe exertions all through the
night had greatly increased it.  It became both a pain and a weakness.
His shoulders drooped with fatigue, and he felt that he must have food
or faint by the way.

He was ashamed of his physical weakness, but he knew that unless he found
food his faintness would increase, and hunger alone would stop him,
where so able a man as Shepard could not.  His uniform, faded anyhow,
was so permeated with the dried mud of the river that it would take a
keen eye to tell whether it was Federal or Confederate, and he need not
disclose his identity in this region, which was so strongly for the
Union.  He made up his mind quickly and rode for the nearest farmhouse.

Harry knew that he was inviting risks.  His pistols were still useless
but they would be handy for threats, and he should be able to take care
of himself at a farmhouse.

The house that he had chosen was only a few hundred yards away, its white
walls visible among trees, and the clatter of his horse's hoofs brought a
man from a barn in the rear.  Harry noted him keenly.  He was youngish,
stalwart and the look out of his blue eyes was fearless.  He came
forward slowly, examining his visitor, and his manner was not altogether
hospitable.  Harry decided that he had to deal with a difficult customer
but he had no idea of turning back.

"Good morning," he said politely.

"Good morning."

"I wish some breakfast and I will pay.  I've ridden all night in our
service."

"You've so much dried mud on you that you look as if you'd been passin'
through a river."

"Correct.  That's exactly what happened."

"But there's none on your horse."

"He didn't pass with me.  I'm willing to answer any reasonable number of
questions, but, as I told you before, I ride on an important service.
I must have breakfast at once, and I'll pay."

"Whose service?  Ours or Reb's?"

"A military messenger can't answer the chance questions of those by the
roadside.  I tell you I want breakfast at once."

"Fine horse you ride, stranger.  How long have you had him?"

"All this year."

"Funny.  When I saw him last week he belonged to Jim Kendall down by the
Potomac, an' livin' on this very road, too."

"It isn't half as funny as you think.  Hands up!  Now call to your wife
as loud as you can to bring me coffee and food at the gate!  I know
they're ready in the kitchen.  I can smell 'em here.  Out with it,
call as fast as and as loud as you can, or off goes the top of your head!"

Although a horse pistol held in a firm hand was thrust under his nose,
the man's blue eyes glared hate and defiance, and his mouth did not open.
Harry, in his excitement and anger, forgot that the charge in his weapon
was ruined and hence it was no acting with him when his own eyes blazed
down at the other and he fairly shouted:

"I give you until I can count ten to call your wife!  One! two! three!
four! five! six! seven! eight! nine!--"

"Sophy!  Sophy!" cried the farmer, who saw death flaming in the eyes that
looked into his, "Come!  Come a-runnin'!"

A good looking young woman threw open a door and ran, frightened, toward
the gate, where she saw her husband under the pistol muzzle of a wild and
savage looking man on horseback.

"Sophy," said the farmer, "bring this infernal rebel a cup of coffee and
a plate of bread and meat.  If it weren't for his pistol I'd drag him off
his horse and carry him to General Meade, but he's got the drop on me!"

"And Sophy," said Harry, who was growing cooler, "you make it a big tin
cup of coffee and you see that the plate is piled high with meat and
bread.  Now don't you make one mistake.  Don't you come back with any
weapon in your hand in place of food, and don't you fire on me from the
house with the family rifle.  You're young and you're good looking, and,
doubtless the widow of our friend here with the upraised hands, wouldn't
have to wait long for another husband just as good as he is."

The woman paled a little, and Harry knew that some thought of the family
rifle had been in her mind.  The husband's glare became ferocious.

"You can take your hands down," said Harry.  "I've no wish to torture you,
and I'm satisfied now that you're not armed."

The man dropped his arms and the woman hurried to the kitchen.  Harry did
not watch her, but kept his eyes continually upon the man, who he knew
would take advantage of his first careless moment, and spring for him
like a tiger.  A pistol that he couldn't fire wouldn't be of much use to
him then.

But the woman returned with a big tin cup of smoking coffee and a plate
piled high with bread and bacon and beefsteak.  It was a welcome sight.
The aspect of the whole world became brighter at once, and the pulse of
hope beat high.  But happiness did not make him relax caution.

"Stand back about ten feet more," he said to the man, "I don't like your
looks."

"What's the matter with my looks?"

"It's not exactly your looks I mean, though they're scarcely worthy of
the lady, your wife, but it's rather your attitude or position which
reminds me of a lion or a tiger about to spring upon something it hates."

The man, with a savage growl, withdrew a little.

"I'd like to put a bullet through you," he said.

"I've no doubt of it, your eyes show it, but before I take a polite leave
of you I want to tell you that I did not steal this horse from your
friend, Jim Kendall.  I paid for it at his own valuation."

"Confederate money that won't be worth a dollar a bale before long."

"Oh, no, bills that were made and stamped at Washington, and I pay for
this breakfast in silver."

He dropped it into the hand of the woman, as he took the huge cup of
coffee from her.  Then he drank deep and long, and again and again,
draining the last drop of the brown liquid.

"I hope it's burnt the lining out of your throat," said the man savagely.

"It was warm, but I like it that way.  It was good indeed, and I'm sorry,
Madame, that you have such a violent and ill-tempered husband.  Maybe
your next will be a much better man."

"John is neither violent nor ill-tempered.  He's never said a harsh word
to me since we were married.  But he hates the rebels dreadfully."

"That's too bad.  I don't hate him and I'm glad you can give him a good
character.  A man's own wife knows best.  Now, I'm going to eat this
breakfast as I ride on.  You'll find the plate on the fence a quarter of
a mile ahead."

He bowed to both, and still keeping a wary eye on the man, thrust his
pistol into his belt, and as his horse moved forward at a swift and easy
gait he began to eat with a ravenous appetite.

A backward glance showed husband and wife still gazing at him.  But it
was only for a moment.  They ran into the house and a little further on
Harry looked back again.  They had reappeared and he almost expected to
hear again the whistle of a rifle shot, fired from a window.  But the
distance was much too great, and he devoted renewed attention to the
demands of hunger.

When he had finished his breakfast he put the plate upon the fence as he
had promised, and, looking back for the last time, he saw an American
flag wave to and fro on the roof of the house.  He felt a thrill of
alarm.  It must be a signal concerning him and it could be made only to
his enemies.  Speaking sharply to his horse, he urged him into a gallop.




CHAPTER V

THE DANGEROUS ROAD


The road led in the general direction of Lee's army and Harry knew that
if he followed it long enough he was bound to reach his commander,
but the two words "long enough" might defeat everything.  Undoubtedly a
Federal force was near, or the farmer and his wife would not be signaling
from the roof of their house.

A plucky couple they were and he gave them all credit, but he was aware
that while he had secured breakfast from them they had put the wolves
upon his trail.  There were high hills on both the right and left of the
road, and, as he galloped along he examined them through his glasses for
flags answering the signal on the house.  But he saw nothing and the
thickness of the forest indicated that even if the signals were made
there it was not likely he could see them.

Now he wisely restrained the speed of his horse, so full of strength and
spirit that it seemed willing to run on forever, and brought him down to
a walk.  He had an idea that he would soon be pursued, and then a fresh
horse would be worth a dozen tired ones.

The road continued to run between high, forested hills, splendid for
ambush, and Harry saw what a danger it was not to have knowledge of the
country.  He understood how the Union forces in the South were so often
at a loss on ground that was strange to them.

The road now curved a little to the left, and a few hundred yards ahead
another from the east merged with it.  Along this road the forest was
thinner, and upon it, but some distance away, he saw bobbing heads in
caps, twenty, perhaps, in number.  He knew at once that they were the
enemy, called by the signal, and leaning forward he spoke in the ear of
his good horse.

"You and I haven't known each other long," he said, "but we're good
friends.  I paid honest and sufficient money for you, when I could have
ridden away on you without paying a cent.  I know you have a powerful
frame and that your speed is great.  I really believe you're the fastest
runner in all this part of the state.  Now, prove it!"

The horse stretched out his neck, and the road flew behind him, his body
working like a mighty machine perfectly attuned, even to its minutest
part.  Harry's words had met a true response.  He heard a cry on the
cross road, and the bobbing heads came forward much faster.  Either they
had seen him or they had heard the swift beat of his horse's hoofs.
Loud shouts arose, but he saw the uniforms of the men, and he knew that
they belonged to the Northern army.

He went past the junction of the roads, as if he were flying, but he was
not a bit too soon, as he heard the crack of rifles, and bullets struck
in the earth behind him.  He knew that they would follow, hang on
persistently, but he had supreme confidence in the speed and strength of
his horse, and youth rode triumphant.  It was youth more than anything
else that made him raise himself a little in his saddle, look back to his
pursuers and fling to them a long, taunting cry, just as Henry Ware more
than once had taunted his Indian pursuers before disappearing in a flight
that their swiftest warriors could not match.

But the little band of Union troopers clung to the chase.  They too
had good horses, and they knew that the man before them was a Southern
messenger, and in those hot July days of 1863 all military messages
carried on the roads north of the Potomac were important.  The fate of an
army or a nation might turn upon any one of them, and the lieutenant who
led the little Union troop was aware of it.  He was a man of intelligence
and a consuming desire to overtake the lone horseman lay hold of him.
He knew, as well as any general, that since Gettysburg the fate of the
South was verily trembling in the balance, and the slightest weight
somewhere might decide the scales.  So he resolved to hang on through
everything and the chances were in his favor.  It was his own country.
The Federal troops were everywhere, and any moment he might have aid in
cutting off the fugitive.

When Harry eased his horse's flight he saw the troop, very distant but
still pursuing, and he read the mind of the Union leader.  He was saving
his mounts, trailing merely, in the hope that Harry would exhaust his own
horse, after which he and his men would come on at great speed.

Harry looked down at his horse and saw that he was heaving with his great
effort.  He knew that he had made a mistake in driving him so hard at
first, and with the courage of which only a young veteran would have been
capable he brought the animal almost to a walk, and resolutely kept him
there, while the enemy gained.  When they were almost within rifle shot
he increased his speed again, but he did not seek for the present to
increase his gain.

As long as their bullets could not reach him his horse should merely go
stride for stride with theirs, and when the last stretch was reached,
he would send forward the brave animal at his utmost speed.  His were the
true racing tactics drawn from his native state.  He had no doubt of his
ability to leave his pursuers far behind when the time came, but his true
danger was from interference.  He too knew that many Union cavalry troops
were abroad, and he watched on either flank for them as he rode on.
At the crest of every little hill he swept the whole country, but as yet
he saw nothing but peaceful farmhouses.

The day was clear and bright, not so warm as its predecessors, and he
calculated by the sun that he was going straight toward Lee.  He knew
that a great army always marched slowly, and he was able to reckon with
accuracy just how far the Army of Northern Virginia had come since
Gettysburg.  He should reach it in the morning, with full information
about the Potomac, and the best place for a crossing.

He arrived at the crest of a hill higher than the others, and saw the
Union troop, about a quarter of a mile behind, stop beside a clump of
tall trees.  Their action surprised Harry, who had thought they would
never quit as long as they could find his trail.  To his further surprise
he saw one of the men dismount and begin to climb the tallest of the
trees.  Then he brought his glasses into play.

He saw the climber go up, up, until he had reached the last bough that
would support him.  Then he drew some thing from his pocket which he
unrolled and began to wave rapidly.  It was a flag and through his
powerful glasses Harry clearly saw the Stars and Stripes.  It was evident
that they were signaling, but when one signals one usually signals to
somebody.  His breath shortened for a moment.  He believed that the man
in the tree was talking with his flag about the fugitive.  Where was the
one to whom he was talking?

He looked to both left and right, searching the fields and the forests,
and saw nothing.  Then, as he was sweeping his glasses again in a half
curve he caught a glimpse of something straight ahead that made the great
pulse in his throat beat hard.  About a mile in front of him another man
in a tree was waving a flag and beneath the tree were horsemen.

Harry knew now that the two flags were talking about the Confederate
messenger between.  The one behind said: "Look out!  He's young, riding a
bay horse and he's coming directly toward you," to which the one in front
replied, "We're waiting.  He can't escape us.  There are fields with high
fences on either side of the road and if he manages to break through the
fence he's an easy capture in the soft and muddy ground there."

Harry thought hard and fast, while the two flags talked so contemptuously
about him.  The fields were unquestionably deep with mud from the heavy
rains, but he must try them.  It was lucky that he had seen the flags
while both forces were out of rifle shot.  He decided for the western
side, sprang from his horse and threw down a few rails.  In a half minute
he was back on his horse, leaped him over the fence, and struck across
the field.

It had been lately plowed and the going was uncommonly heavy.  It would
be just as heavy however for his pursuers, and his luck in seeing their
signals would put him out of range before they reached the field.
But it was a wide field and his horse's feet sank so deep in the mud that
he dismounted and led him.  When he was two-thirds of the way across a
shout told him that the two forces had met, and had discovered the ruse
of the fugitive.  It did not take much intelligence to understand what he
had done, because he was yet in plain sight, and a few of the cavalrymen
took pot shots at him, their bullets falling far short.  Harry in his
excited condition laughed at these attempts.  Almost anything was a
triumph now.  He shook his fist at them and regretted that he could not
send back a defiant shot.

The cavalrymen conferred a little.  Then a part pursued across the field,
and two detachments rode along its side, one to the north and the other
to the south.  Harry understood.  If the mud held him back sufficiently
they might pass around the field and catch him on the other side.
He continued to lead his horse, encouraging him with words of entreaty
and praise.

"Come on!" he cried.  "You won't let a little mud bother you.  You
wouldn't let yourself be overtaken by a lot of half-bred horses not fit
to associate with you?"

The brave animal responded nobly, and what had been the far edge of the
field was rapidly coming nearer.  Beyond it lay woods.  But the flanking
movement threatened.  The two detachments were passing around the field
on firm ground, and Harry knew that he and his good horse must hasten.
He talked to him continually, boasting about him, and together they
reached the fence, which he threw down in all haste.  Then he led his
weary horse out of the mud, sprang upon his back and galloped into the
bushes.

He knew that the horses passing around the field on firm ground would be
fresh, and that he must find temporary hiding, at least as soon as he
could.  He was in deep thickets now and he galloped on, careless how
the bushes scratched him and tore his uniform.  The Union cavalry would
surely follow, but he wanted a little breathing time for his horse,
and in eight or ten minutes he stopped in the dense undergrowth.  The
horse panted so hard that any one near would have heard him, but there
was no other sound in the thicket.  The rest was valuable for both.
Harry was able to concentrate his mind and consider, while the panting of
the horse gradually ceased, and he breathed with regularity.  The young
lieutenant patted him on the nose and whispered to him consolingly.

"Good, old boy," he said, "you've brought me safely so far.  I knew that
I could trust you."

Then he stood quite still, with his hand stroking the horse's nose to
keep him silent.  He had heard the first sounds of search.  To his right
was the distant beat of hoofs and men's voices.  Evidently they were
going to make a thorough search for him, and he decided to resume his
flight, even at the risk of being heard.

He led the horse again, because the forest was so dense that one could
scarcely ride in it, and he thought, for a while, that he had thrown off
the pursuit, but the voices came again, and now on his left.  They had
never relaxed the hunt for an instant.  They had a good leader, and Harry
admitted that in his place he would have done the same.

The country grew rougher, being so steep and hilly that it was not
easy of cultivation, and hence remained clothed in dense forest and
undergrowth.  Twice more Harry heard the sound of pursuing voices and
hoofs, and then the noise of running water came to his ears.  Twenty
yards farther and he came to a creek flowing between high banks, on which
the forest grew so densely that the sun was scarcely able to reach the
water below.

The creek at first seemed to be a bar to his advance, but thinking it
over he led his horse carefully down into the stream, mounted him and
rode with the current, which was not more than a foot deep.  Fortunately
the creek had a soft bottom and there was no ringing of hoofs on stones.

He went slowly, lest the water splash too much, and kept a wary watch on
the banks above, which were growing higher.  He did not know where the
creek led, but it offered both a road and concealment, and it seemed that
Providence had put it there for his especial help.

He rode in the bed of the stream fully an hour, and then emerged from
the hills into a level and comparatively bare country.  It was a region
utterly unknown to him, but with his splendid idea of direction and the
sun to guide him he knew his straight course to Lee.  The country before
him seemed to be given up wholly to grass, as he noticed neither corn nor
wheat.  He saw several farm hands, but decided to keep away from them.
That was no country for the practice of horsemanship by a lone
Confederate soldier, nor did he like to be the fox in a fox hunt.

Yet the fox he was.  He chose a narrow road leading between cedars,
and when he had advanced upon it a few hundred yards he heard the sound
of a trumpet behind him, and at the edge of the woods that he had left.
He saw horsemen in blue emerging and he had no doubt that they were the
same men whom he had eluded in the thickets.

"Their pursuit of me is getting to be a habit," he said to himself with
the most intense annoyance.  "It's a good thing, my brave horse, that
you've had a long rest."

He shook up the reins and began to gallop.  He heard a faint shout in the
distance and saw the troopers in pursuit.  But he did not fear them now.
Numerous fences would prevent them from flanking him, and he saw that the
road led on, straight and level.  He shook the reins again and the horse
lengthened his stride.

He felt so exultant that he laughed.  It would be easy enough now to
distance this Union troop.  Then the laugh died suddenly on his lips.
A bullet whistled so near his face that it almost took away his breath.
An elderly farmer standing in his own door had fired it, and Harry
snatched one of the pistols from his own belt, remembering then with rage
that it could not be fired.  He shouted to his horse and made him run
faster.

A bullet struck the pommel of his saddle and glanced off.  A boy in an
orchard had fired it.  A load of bird-shot, a handful it seemed to Harry,
flew about his ears.  A bent old man who ought to have been sitting on
a porch in a rocking chair had discharged it from the edge of a wood.
A squirrel hunter on a hill took a pot shot at him and missed.

Harry was furious with anger.  Decidedly this was no place for a visitor
from the South.  He did not detect the faintest sign of hospitality.
Men and women alike seemed to dislike him.  A powerful virago hurled a
stone at his head, which would have struck him senseless had it not
missed, and a farmer standing by a fence had a shotgun cocked and ready
to be fired as he passed, but Harry, snatching one of the useless pistols
from his belt, hurled it at him with all his might.  It struck the man a
glancing blow on the head, felling him as if he had been shot, and then
Harry, thinking quickly, acted with equal quickness.

He reined in his horse with such suddenness that he nearly shot from the
saddle.  Then he leaped down, seized the shotgun from under the hands of
the fallen man, sprang on his horse and was away again, sending back a
cry of defiance.

Harry had never before in his life been so furious.  To be hunted thus by
a whole countryside, as if he were a mad dog, was intolerable.  It was
not only a threat to one's life, it was also an insult to one's dignity
to be treated as an animal.  Although he was armed now the insult
continued.  The call of the trumpet sounded almost without ceasing,
and the Union troopers uttered many shouts as do those who chase the fox,
although Harry knew that their cries were intended to rouse the farmers
who might head him off.

The chase grew hotter, but he felt better with the shotgun.  It was a
fine double-barreled weapon of the latest make, and he hoped that it was
loaded with buckshot.  He was a sharpshooter, and he could give a good
account of any one who came too near.

Yet with the trumpet shrilling continually behind him the huntsmen
gathered fast on either flank.  It was yet the day when nearly every
house in America, outside a town, contained a rifle, and bullets fired
from a distance began to patter around Harry and his horse.  The
riflemen were too far away to be reached with the shotgun, and it seemed
inevitable to him that in time a bullet would strike him.  He was truly
the fox, and he knew that nothing could save him but forest.

It was in his favor that the country was so broken and wooded so heavily,
and fixing his eyes on trees a half-mile ahead he raced for them.
If none of this yelling pack dragged him down he felt sure that he might
escape again in the forest.  The trees swiftly came nearer, but the shots
on either flank increased.  More than ever he felt like the fox with the
hounds all about him, and just one slender chance to reach the burrow
ahead.

He felt his horse shake and knew that he had been hit.  Yet the brave
animal ran on as well as ever, despite the triumphant shout behind,
which showed that he must be leaving a trail of blood.  But the woods,
thick and inviting, were near, and he believed that he would reach them.
The horse shook again, much more violently than before, and then fell to
his knees.  Harry leaped off, still clutching the shotgun, just as the
brave animal fell over on his side and began to breathe out his life.

He heard again that shout of triumph, but he was one who never gave up.
He had alighted easily on his feet.  The trees were not more than fifteen
yards away and he disappeared among them as bullets clipped bark and
twigs about him.

He breathed a deep sigh of thankfulness when he entered the forest.
It was so dense, and there was so much undergrowth that the horsemen
could not follow him there.  If they came on foot, and spread out,
as they must, to hunt him, he had the double-barreled shotgun and it
was a deadly weapon.  The fox had suddenly become the panther, alert,
powerful, armed with claws that killed.

Harry went deep into the thickets before he sat down.  He had no doubt
that they would follow him, but at present he was out of their sight and
hearing.  He felt a mixture of elation and sadness, elation over his
temporary escape, and sadness over the loss of his gallant horse.
But one could not dwell long on regrets at such a time, and, advancing a
little farther, he sat down among the densest bushes that he could find
with the shotgun across his knees.

Now Harry saw that the horse had really done all that it was possible
for him to do.  He had brought him to the wood, and within he would have
been a drawback.  A man on foot could conceal himself far more easily.
Everything favored him.  There were bushes and vines everywhere and he
could be hidden like a deer in its covert.

He looked up at the sun shining through the tops of the trees and saw
that he had kept to his true course.  His flight had taken him directly
toward Lee at a much faster pace than he would have come otherwise.
The enemy had driven him on his errand at double speed.  He felt that he
could spare a little time now, while he waited to see what the pursuit
would do.

His feeling of exultation was now unalloyed.  Deep in the forest with
his foes looking for him in vain, the spirit of Henry Ware was once
more strong within him.  He was the reincarnation of the great hunter.
He lay so still, clasping the shotgun, that the little creatures of the
woods were deceived.  A squirrel ran up the trunk of an oak six feet away,
and stood fearlessly in a fork with his bushy tail curved over his back.
A small gray bird perched on a bough just over Harry's head and poured
out a volume of song.  Farther away sounded the tap tap of a woodpecker
on the bark of a dead tree.

Harry, although he did not move, was watching and listening with intense
concentration, but his ears now would be his surest signals.  He could
not see deep in the thickets, but he could hear any movement in the
underbrush a hundred yards away.  So far there was nothing but the
hopping of a rabbit.  The bird over his head sang on.  There was no
wind among the branches, not even the flutter of leaves to distract his
attention from anything that might come on the ground.

He rejoiced in this period of rest, of the nerves, rather than purely
physical.  He had been keyed so high that now he relaxed entirely,
and soon lay perfectly flat, but with the shotgun still clasped in his
arms.  He had a soft couch.  Under him were the dead leaves of last year,
and over him was the pleasant gloom of thick foliage, already turning
brown.  The bird sang on.  His clear and beautiful note came from a point
directly over his head, but Harry could not see his tiny body among the
leaves.  He became, for a little while, more interested in trying to see
him than in hearing his pursuers.

It was annoying that such a volume of sound should come from a body that
could be hidden by a leaf.  If a man could shout in proportion to his own
size he might be heard eight to ten miles away.  It was an interesting
speculation and he pursued it.  While he was pursuing it his mind relaxed
more and more and traveled farther and farther away from his flight and
hiding.  Then his heavy eyelids pulled down, and, while his pursuers yet
searched the thickets for him, he slept.

But his other self, which men had thought of as far back as Socrates,
kept guard.  When he had slept an hour a tiny voice in his ear, no louder
than the ticking of a watch, told him to awake, that danger was near.
He obeyed the call, sleep was lifted from him and he opened his eyes.
But with inherited caution he did not move.  He still lay flat in his
covert, trusting to his ears, and did not make a leaf move about him.

His ears told him that leaves were rustling not very far away, not more
than a hundred feet.  His power of hearing was great, and the forest
seemed to make it uncommonly sensitive and delicate.

He knew that the rustling of the leaves was made by a man walking.
By and by he heard his footfalls, and he knew that he wore heavy boots,
or his feet would not have crushed down in such a decisive manner.
He was looking for something, too, because the footfalls did not go
straight on, but veered about.

Harry was well aware that it was a Union soldier, and that he was the
object of his search.  He was a clumsy man, not used to forests, because
Harry heard him stumble twice, when his feet caught on vines.  Nor
was any comrade near, or he would have called to him for the sake of
companionship.  Harry judged that he was originally a mill hand, and
he did not feel the least alarm about him, laughing a little at his
clumsiness and awkwardness, as he trod heavily among the bushes, tripped
again on the vines, and came so near falling that he could hear the rifle
rattle when it struck a tree.  He did not have the slightest fear of the
man, and at last, raising his head, he took a look.

All his surmises were justified.  He saw a great hulking youth of heavy
and dull countenance, carrying a rifle awkwardly, his place obviously
around some town and not in the depths of a forest, looking for a wary
enemy, who knew more of the wilderness than he could ever learn in all
his life.  Harry saw that he was perspiring freely and that he looked
more like the hunted than the hunter.  His eyes expressed bewilderment.
He was obviously lonely and apprehensive, not because he was a coward,
but because the situation was so strange to him.

Besides his rifle he carried a large knapsack, so much distended that
Harry knew it to be full of food.  It was this that decided him.  A
soldier, like an army, must travel on his stomach, and he wanted that
knapsack.  Moreover he meant to get it.  He leveled his shotgun and
called in a low tone, but a tone so sharp that it could be heard
distinctly by the one to whom it was addressed:

"Throw up your hands at once!"

The man threw them up so abruptly that the rifle fell from his shoulder
into the bushes, and he turned around, staring face toward the point from
which the command had come.  Harry saw at once that he was of foreign
birth, probably.  The features inclined to the Slav type, although Slavs
were not then common in this country, even in the mill towns of the North.

"Are you an American?" asked Harry, standing up.

"All but two years of my life."

"The first two years then, as I see you speak good English.  What's your
name?"

"Michael Stanislav."

"Do you think that anybody named Michael Stanislav has the right to
interfere in the quarrel of the Northern and Southern states?  Don't the
Stanislavs have trouble enough in the country where the Stanislavs grow?"

The big youth stared at him without understanding.

"Do you know who I am?" asked Harry, severely.

"The running rebel that we all look for."

"Rebels don't run.  Besides, there are no rebels.  Anyway I'm not the man
you're looking for.  My name is Robin Hood."

"Robin Hood?"

"Yes, Robin Hood!  Didn't you ever hear of him?"

"Never."

"Then you have the honor of hearing of him and meeting him at the same
time.  As I said, my name is Robin Hood and my trade is that of a
benevolent robber.  I lie around in the greenwood, and I don't work.
I've a lot of followers, Friar Tuck and others, but they're away for a
while.  They're as much opposed to work as I am.  That's why they're my
followers.  We're the friends of the poor, because they have nothing we
want, and we're the enemies of the rich because they have a lot we do
want and that we often take.  Still, we couldn't get along very well,
if there were no rich for us to rob.  It's like taking sugar water from
a maple tree.  We won't take too much, because it would kill the tree
and we want to take its sugar water again, and many times.  Do you
understand?"

"Yes," replied the big youth, but Harry knew he didn't.  Harry meanwhile
was listening keenly to all that was passing in the forest, and he was
sure that no other soldier had wandered near.  It was perhaps partly a
feeling of loneliness on his own part that caused him to linger in his
talk with Michael Stanislav.

"Michael," he continued, "you appreciate our respective positions,
don't you?"

"Ah!" said Michael, in a puzzled voice.

"I've explained carefully to you that I'm Robin Hood, and you at the
present moment represent the rich."

"I am not rich.  Before I turn soldier I work in a mill at Bridgeport."

"That's all very well, but you can't get out of it by referring to your
past.  Just now you are a proxy of the rich, and it's my duty to rob you."

The mouth of the big fellow expanded into a wide grin.

"You won't rob me," he said.  "I have not a cent."

"But I'm going to rob you just the same.  Don't you dare to drop a hand
toward the pistols in your belt.  If you do I'll blow your head off.
I'm covering you with a double-barreled shotgun.  Each barrel contains
about twenty buckshot, and at close range their blast would be so
terrific that you'd make an awful looking corpse."

"I hold up my hands a long time.  Don't want to be any kind of a corpse."

"That's the good boy.  Steady now.  Don't move a muscle.  I'm going to
rob you.  It's a brief and painless operation, much easier than pulling a
tooth."

He deftly removed the two pistols and the accompanying ammunition from
the man's belt, placing them in his own.  His belt of cartridges he put
on the ground beside the fallen rifle, and then as he felt a glow of
triumph he passed the well-filled knapsack from the stalwart shoulders
of the other to his own shoulders, equally stalwart.

"Is everything in it first class, Michael?" he demanded with much
severity.

"The best.  Our army feeds well."

"It's a good thing for you that it's so.  Robin Hood is never satisfied
with anything second class, and he's likely to be offended if you offer
it to him.  On the whole, Michael, I think I like you and I'm glad you
came this way.  But do you care for good advice?"

"Yes, sir."

"That's right.  Say 'sir' to me.  It pleases my robber's heart.  Then,
my advice to you is never again to go into the woods alone.  All the
forest looks alike to those who don't know it, and you're lost in a
minute.  Besides, it's filled with strange and terrible creatures,
Robin Hood--that's me, though I have some redeeming qualities--the
Erymanthean boar, the Hydra-headed monster, Medusa of the snaky locks,
Cyclops, Polyphemus with one awful eye, the deceitful Sirens, the Old Man
of the Mountain, Wodin and Osiris, and, last and most terrible of all,
the Baron Munchausen."

A flicker of fear appeared in the eyes of the captive.

"But I'll see that none of these monsters hurt you," said Harry
consolingly.  "The open is directly behind you, about a mile.  Right
about!  Wheel!  Well done!  Now, you won't see me again, but you'll hear
me giving commands.  Forward, march!  Quit stumbling!  No true forester
ever does!  Nor is it necessary for you to run into more than three
trees!  Keep going!  No, don't curve!  Go straight ahead, and remember
that if you look back I shoot!"

Michael walked swiftly enough.  He deemed that on the whole he had fared
well.  The great brigand, Robin Hood, had spared his life and he had lost
nothing.  The army would replace his weapons and ammunition and he was
glad enough to escape from that terrible forest, even if he were driven
out of it.

Harry watched him until he was out of sight, and then picking up the
rifle and belt of cartridges he fled on soundless feet deeper into the
forest.  Two or three hundred yards away he stopped and heard a great
shouting.  Michael, no longer covered by a gun, had realized that
something untoward had happened to him, and he was calling to his
comrades.  Harry did not know whether Michael would still call the man
who had held him up, Robin Hood, nor did he care.  He had secured an
excellent rifle which would be much more useful to him than a shotgun,
and his course still led straight toward the point where he should find
Lee's army on the march.  He felt that he ought to throw away the shotgun,
as two weapons were heavy, but he could not make up his mind to do so.

A hundred yards farther and he heard replies to Michael's shouts, and
then several shots, undoubtedly fired by the Union troops themselves,
as signals of alarm.  He laughed to himself.  Could such men as these
overtake one who was born to the woods, the great grandson of Henry Ware,
the most gifted of the borderers, who in the woods had not only a sixth
sense, but a seventh as well?  And his great grandson had inherited many
of his qualities.

Harry, in the forest, felt only contempt for these youths of Central
Europe who could not tell one point of the compass from another.  He
guided his own course by the sun, and continued at a good pace until he
could hear shouts and shots no longer.  Then in the dense woods, where
the shadows made a twilight, he came to a tiny stream flowing from
under a rock.  He knelt and drank of the cool water, and then he opened
Michael's knapsack.  It was truly well filled, and he ate with deep
content.  Then he drank again and rested by the side of the pool.

As he reflected over his journey Harry concluded that Providence had
watched over him so far, but there was much yet to do before he reached
Lee.  Providence had a strange way of watching over a man for a while,
and then letting him go.  He would neglect no precaution.  The forest
would not continue forever and then he must take his chances in the open.

Still burning with the desire to be the first to reach Lee, he put the
rifle and the shotgun on either shoulder, and set off at as rapid a pace
as the thickets would permit.  But he soon stopped because a sound almost
like that of a wind, but not a wind, came to his ears.  There was a
breeze blowing directly toward him, but he paid no attention to it,
because to him most breezes were pleasant and friendly.  But the other
sound had in it a quality that was distinctly sinister like the hissing
of a snake.

Harry paused in wonder and alarm.  All his instincts warned him that a
new danger was at hand.  The breath of the wind suddenly grew hot,
and sparks carried by it blew past him.  He knew, in an instant, that the
forest was on fire behind him and that tinder dry, it would burn fast and
furious.  Changing from a walk to a run, he sped forward as swiftly as he
could, while the flames suddenly sprang high, waved and leaped forward in
chase.




CHAPTER VI

TESTS OF COURAGE


Harry did not know how the woods had been set on fire, and he never knew.
He did not credit it to the intent of Michael and his comrades, but he
thought it likely that some of these men, ignorant of the forest, had
built a campfire.  His first thought was of himself, and his second was
regret that so fine a stretch of timber should be burned over for nothing.

But he knew that he must hurry.  Nor could he choose his way.  He must
get out of that forest even if he ran directly into the middle of a Union
brigade.  The wind was bringing the fire fast.  It leaped from one tree
to another, despite the recent rains, gathering volume and power as it
came.  Sparks flew in showers, and fragments of burned twigs rained down.
Twice Harry's face was scorched lightly and he had a fear that one of
the blazing twigs would set his hair on fire.  He made another effort,
and ran a little faster, knowing full well that his life was at stake.

The fire was like a huge beast, and it reached out threatening red claws
to catch him.  He was like primeval man, fleeing from one of the vast
monsters, now happily gone from the earth.  He was conscious soon that
another not far from him was running in the same way, a man in a faded
blue uniform who had dropped his rifle in the rapidity of his flight.

Harry kept one eye on him but the stranger did not see him until they
were nearly out of the wood.  Then Harry, with a clear purpose in view,
veered toward him.  He saw that they would escape from the fire.  Open
fields showed not far ahead, and while the sparks were numerous and
sometimes scorched, the roaring red monster behind them would soon be at
the end of his race.  He could not follow them into the open fields.

When the two emerged from the forest Harry was not more than fifteen feet
from the stranger, who evidently took him for a friend and who was glad
to have a comrade at such a time.  They raced across fields in which the
wheat had been cut, and then sank down four or five hundred yards from
the fire, which was crackling and roaring in the woods with great
violence, and sending up leaping flames.

"I was glad enough to get out of that.  Do you think the rebels set it on
fire?"

"I don't think so, but I was as pleased as you to escape from it,
Mr. Haskell."

"Why, how did you know my name?" exclaimed the man in wonder.

"Why should I forget you?  I've seen you often enough.  Your name is John
Haskell and you belong to the Fifth Pennsylvania."

"That's right, but I don't seem to recall you."

"It takes a lot of us some time to clear up our minds wholly after such a
battle as Gettysburg.  In some ways I've been in a sort of confused state
myself.  I dare say you've seen me often enough."

"That's likely."

"Pity you had your horse shot under you, Mr. Haskell.  A man who is
carrying important messages at a time like this can't do very well
without his horse."

"How did you know I'd lost my horse?"

"Oh, I'm a mind reader.  I can tell you a lot now.  You carry your
dispatch in the left-hand pocket of your waistcoat, just over your heart.
And it hasn't been long, either, since you lost your horse, perhaps not
more than an hour."

Haskell stared at him, but Harry's face was innocent.  Nevertheless he
had read Haskell's name and regiment on his canteen, cut there with his
own knife.  It was a mere guess that he was a dispatch bearer, but he
had located the dispatch, because at the mention of the word "message"
the man's hand had involuntarily gone to his left breast to see if the
dispatch were still there.  Boots with little dirt on them indicated that
he had been riding.

"A mind reader!" said Haskell, with suspicion.  "What business has a mind
reader in this war?"

"He could be of enormous value.  If he were a real mind reader he could
tell his general exactly what the opposing general intended to do.
I'm employed at a gigantic salary for that particular purpose."

"I guess you're trying to be funny.  Why do you carry both a rifle and a
shotgun?"

"In order to hit the target with one, if the other misses.  I always use
the rifle first, because if the bullet doesn't get home the shotgun,
spreading its charge over a much wider area, is likely to do something."

"Now I know you're trying to be funny.  As I'm going about my business as
fast as I can, I'll leave you here."

"I like you so well that I can't bear to see you go.  Don't move.
My rifle covers your heart exactly and you are not more than ten feet
away.  I shall have no possible need of the shotgun.  Keep your hands
away from your belt.  You're in a dangerous position, Mr. Haskell."

"I believe you're an infernal rebel."

"Take out the objectionable adjective 'infernal' and you're right.
Keep those hands still, I tell you."

"What do you want?"

"Your dispatches!  Oh, I must have 'em.  Unbutton your coat and waistcoat
and hand 'em to me at once.  I hate to take human life, but war demands a
terrible service, and I mean what I say!"

His voice rang with determination.  The man slowly unbuttoned his
waistcoat and took out a folded dispatch.

"Put it on the ground in front of you.  That's right, and don't you reach
for it again.  Now, lay your canteen beside it!"

"What in thunder do you want with my canteen?  It's empty!"

"I can fill it again.  This is a well watered country.  That's right;
put it beside the dispatch.  Now you walk about one hundred yards to the
right with your back to me.  If you look around at all I fire, and I'm
a good marksman.  Stand there ten minutes, and then you can move on!
That's right!  Now march!"

The man walked away slowly and when he had gone about half the distance
Harry, picking up the dispatch, took flight again across the fields.
Climbing a fence, he looked back and saw the figure of John Haskell,
standing motionless on a hill.  He knew that the man was not likely to
remain in that position more than half the allotted time.  It was certain
that he would soon turn, despite the risk, but Harry was already beyond
his reach.

He leaped from the fence, crossed another field and entered a wood.
There he paused among the trees and saw Haskell returning.  But when he
had come a little distance, he shook his head doubtfully, and then walked
toward the north.

"A counsel of wisdom," chuckled Harry, who was going in quite another
direction.  "I think I'll read my dispatch now."

He opened it and blessed his luck.  It was from Meade to Pleasanton,
directing him to cut in with all the cavalry he could gather on the
enemy's flank.  The Potomac was in great flood and the Army of Northern
Virginia could not possibly cross.  If it were harried to the utmost by
the Union cavalry the task of destroying it would be much easier.

"So it would," said Harry to himself.  "But Pleasanton won't get this
dispatch.  Providence has not deserted me yet; and it's true that fortune
favors the brave.  I'm John Haskell of the Fifth Pennsylvania and I can
prove it."

He had put the canteen over his shoulder and the name upon it was a
powerful witness in his favor.  The dispatch itself was another, and his
faded uniform told nothing.

Harry had passed through so much that a reckless spirit was growing upon
him, and he had succeeded in so much that he believed he would continue
to succeed.  Regretfully he threw the shotgun away, as it would not
appear natural for a messenger to carry it and a rifle too.

He went forward boldly now, and, when an hour later he saw a detachment
of Union cavalry in a road, he took no measures to avoid them.  Instead
he went directly toward the horsemen and hailed them in a loud voice.
They stopped and their leader, a captain, looked inquiringly at Harry,
who was approaching rapidly.

Harry held up both hands as a sign that he was a friend, and called in a
loud voice:

"I want a horse!  And at once, if you please, sir!"

He had noticed that three led horses with empty saddles, probably the
result of a brush with the enemy, and he meant to be astride one of them
within a few minutes.

"You're a cool one," said the captain.  "You come walking across the
field, and without a word of explanation you say you want a horse.
Don't you want a carriage too?"

"I don't need it.  But I must have a horse, Captain.  I ride with a
message and it must be of great importance because I was told to go with
it at all speed and risk my life for it.  I've risked my life already.
My horse was shot by a band of rebels, but luckily it was in the woods
and I escaped on foot."

As he spoke he craftily moved the canteen around until the inscription
showed clearly in the bright sunlight.  The quick eyes of the captain
caught it at once.

"You do belong to the Fifth Pennsylvania," he said.  "Well, you're a
long way from your regiment.  It's back of that low mountain over there,
a full forty miles from here, I should say."

Harry felt a throb of relief.  It was his only fear that these men
themselves should belong to the Fifth Pennsylvania, a long chance,
but if it should happen to go against him, fatal to all his plans.

"I don't want to join my regiment," he said.  "I'm looking for General
Pleasanton."

"General Pleasanton!  What can you happen to want with him?"

Harry gave the officer a wary and suspicious look, and then his eyes
brightened as if he were satisfied.

"I told you I was riding with a message," he said, "and that message is
for General Pleasanton.  It's from General Meade himself and it's no harm
for me to show it to so good a patriot as you."

"No, I think not," said the captain, flattered by the proof of respect
and confidence.

Harry took the letter from his pocket.  It had been sealed at first,
but the warmth of the original bearer's body with a little help from
Harry later had caused it to come open.

"Look at that," said Harry proudly as he took out the paper.

The captain read it, and was mightily impressed.  He was, as Harry had
surmised, a thoroughly staunch supporter of the Union.  He would not only
furnish this valiant messenger with a good horse, but he would help him
otherwise on his way.

"Dexter," he called to an orderly, "bring the sorrel mare.  She was
ridden by a good man, Mr. Haskell, but he met a sharpshooter's bullet.
Jump up."

Harry sprang into the saddle, and, astride such a fine piece of
horseflesh, he foresaw a speedy arrival in the camp of General Lee.

"I'll not only mount you," said the captain, "but we'll see you on the
way.  General Pleasanton is on Lee's left flank and, as our course is in
that direction, we'll ride with you, and protect you from stray rebel
sharpshooters."

Harry could have shouted aloud in anger and disappointment.  While the
captain trusted him fully, he would not be much more than a prisoner,
nevertheless.

"Thank you very much, Captain," he said, "but you needn't trouble
yourself about me.  Perhaps I'd better go on ahead.  One rides faster
alone."

"Don't be afraid that we'll hold you back," said the captain, smiling.
"We're one of the hardest riding detachments in General Pleasanton's
whole cavalry corps, and we won't delay you a second.  On the contrary,
we know the road so well that we'll save you wandering about and losing
time."

Harry did not dare to say more.  And so Providence, which had been
watching over him so well, had decided now to leave him and watch over
the other fellow.  But he had at least one consolation.  Pleasanton was
on Lee's flank and their ride did not turn him from the line of his true
objective.  Every beat of his horse's hoofs would bring him nearer to
Lee.  Invincible youth was invincibly in the saddle again, and he said
confidently to the captain:

"Let's start."

"All right.  You keep by my side, Haskell.  You appear to be brave and
intelligent and I want to ask you questions."

The tone, though well meant, was patronizing, but Harry did not resent it.

"This troop is made up of Massachusetts men, and I'm from Massachusetts
too," continued the captain.  "My name is Lester, and I had just
graduated from Harvard when the war began."

"Good stock up there in Massachusetts," said Harry boldly, "but I've one
objection to you."

"What's that?"

"Everything wonderful in our history was done by you.  No chance was left
for anybody else."

"Well, not everything, but almost everything.  Good old Massachusetts!
As Webster said, 'There she stands!'"

"It was mostly New York and Pennsylvania that stood at Gettysburg."

"Yes, you did very well there."

"Don't you think, Captain, that a nation or a state is often lucky in its
possession of writers?"

"I don't catch your drift exactly."

"I'll make an illustration.  I've often wondered what were the Persian
accounts of Marathon and Thermopylae, of Salamis and Plataea.  Now most
of our history has been written by Massachusetts men."

"And you insinuate that they have glorified my state unduly?"

"The expression is a trifle severe.  Let's say that they have dwelled
rather long upon the achievements of Massachusetts and not so long upon
those of New York and Pennsylvania."

"Then let New York and Pennsylvania go get great writers.  No state can
be truly great without them.  There's another detachment of ours just
ahead, but we'll talk to them only a minute or two."

The second detachment reported that Pleasanton, with a heavy cavalry
force, was about six miles farther west and that there was a fair road
all the way.  They should overtake him in an hour.

Harry's heart beat hard.  Unless something happened within that hour he
would never reach Lee, and his brain began to work with extraordinary
activity.  Plans passed in review before it as rapidly as pictures on
a film, but all were rejected.  He was in despair.  They were trotting
rapidly down a smooth road.  A quarter of an hour passed and then a
half-hour.  A low bare hill appeared immediately on their right, and
Harry saw beyond it the tops of trees.

"Captain Lester," he said, "suppose that you and I ride to the crest of
the hill.  You have strong glasses, so have I, and we may see something
worth while.  The men will ride on, but we can easily overtake them."

"Not a bad idea, Haskell," said the captain, still in that slightly
patronizing tone.  "I judge by your speech that you're a well educated
man, and you appear to think."

They rode quickly to the summit, and Lester, putting his glasses to his
eyes, gazed westward over a vast expanse of cultivated country.  But
Harry looking immediately down the slope, saw the forest that he wished.

Lester swept the glasses in a wide circle, looking for Union troops.
His own troop was about a hundred yards ahead and the hoofbeats were
growing fainter.  Then Harry's courage almost failed him, but necessity
was instant and cruel.  Still he modified the blow, nor did he use any
weapon, save one that nature had given him.

"Look out!" he cried, and as Lester turned in astonishment he struck him
on the point of the jaw.  Even as his fist flashed forward he held back a
little and his full strength was not in the blow.

Nevertheless it was sufficient to strike Lester senseless, and he slid
from his horse.  Harry caught him by the shoulder and eased him in his
fall.  Then he lay stretched on his back in the grass like one asleep,
with his horse staring at him.  Harry knew that he would revive in a
minute or two, and with a "Farewell, Captain Lester," he galloped down
the slope and into the covering woods.

He knew that Lester's men, finding that they did not follow, would
quickly come back, and he raced his horse among the trees as fast as he
dared.  A couple of miles between him and the hill and he felt safe,
at least so far as the troop of Captain Lester was concerned.  Fortune
seemed to have made him a favorite again, but he knew that dangers were
still as thick around him as leaves in Vallombrosa.

He tied his horse, climbed a tree, and used his glasses.  Two miles to
the west the bright sun flashed on long lines of mounted men, obviously
the horsemen of Pleasanton.  How was he to get through that cavalry
screen and reach Lee?  He did not see a way, but he knew that to find,
one must seek.  His desire to get through, intense as it always had been,
was now doubled.  He not only carried the news to Lee about the possible
ford, but he also bore Meade's dispatch to Pleasanton, directing a
movement which, if successful, must be most dangerous to the Army of
Northern Virginia.

He descended the tree and waited a while in the forest.  He found a
spring at which he drank, and he filled the canteen.  It was a precious
canteen with the name of John Haskell engraved upon it, and he meant that
it should carry him through all dangers into his camp.  But he did not
mean to use it yet.  If he rode into Pleasanton's ranks they would merely
take his letter to the general, and that would be the failure of his real
mission.

Night was now not far distant, and, concluding that he had a much better
chance to run the gantlet under its cover, he still waited in the wood
until the twilight came.

Wrapped in a coil of dangers he was ready to risk anything.  Quickness,
resource and boldness, of which the last had been most valuable, had
brought him so far, and, encouraged by success, he rode forward full of
confidence.

On his right was a small house standing among the usual shade trees, and,
approaching it without hesitation, he spoke to a man who stood in the
yard.

"Which way is General Pleasanton?" he asked.

The man hesitated.

"I belong to the Fifth Pennsylvania," said Harry, pointing to the name on
the canteen, still visible in the twilight.  The man's eyes brightened
and he replied:

"Down there," pointing toward the southwest.

"I've a message for him and I don't want to run into any of the rebel
raiders."

"Then you keep away from there," he said, pointing due west.

"What's the trouble in that direction?"

"Jim Hurley was here about an hour ago.  The whole country is terribly
excited about these big armies marching over it, and he said that our
cavalry was riding on fast.  A lot of it was ahead of the rebel army,
but straight there in the west some of the rebel horsemen had spread out
on their own flank.  If you went that way in the night you'd be sure to
run right into a nest of 'em."

"So the Johnnies are west of us, your friend Hurley said.  Tell me again
what particular point I have to watch in order to keep away from them."

"Almost as straight west as you can make it.  A valley running east and
west cuts in there and it's full of the rebels.  It's the only place all
along here where they are."

"And consequently the only place for me to avoid.  Thanks.  Your
information may save me from capture.  Good night."

"Good night and good luck."

Harry rode toward the southwest until a dip in the valley hid him from
possible view of the man at the house.  Then he turned and rode due west,
determined to reach as soon as possible those "rebel raiders" in the
valley, but fully aware that he must yet use every resource of skill,
courage and patience.

The twilight turned into night, clear, dry and bright.  Unless it
was raining in the mountains the flood in the Potomac could not be
increasing.  Here, at last, the conditions were all that he wished.
The captured haversack still contained plenty of food, and, as he rode,
he ate.  He had learned long ago that food was as necessary as weapons
to a soldier, and that one should eat when one could.  Moreover, he was
always hungry.

He kept among trees wherever possible, and, as the night grew, and the
stars came out in the dusky blue, he enjoyed the peace.  Even though he
searched with his glasses he could not see soldiers anywhere, although he
knew they were in the hollows and the forests.  A pleasant breeze blew,
and an owl, reckless of armies, sent forth its lonesome hoot.

But he kept his horse's head straight for the narrow valley where the
"rebel raiders" rode.  He met presently a small detachment of Connecticut
men, but the sight of his canteen and letter was sufficient for them.
Again he rode southwest, merely to turn due west once more, after he had
passed from their sight, and near the head of the valley he encountered
two men in blue on horseback watching.  They were alert, well-built
fellows and examined Harry closely, a process to which long usage had
reconciled him.

"I hear that the rebels are down in that valley, comrade," he said.

"So they are," replied the elder and larger of the men.  "We've got to
ask you who you are and which way you're going."

"John Haskell, Fifth Pennsylvania, with dispatches from General Meade to
General Pleasanton.  They're tremendously important, too, and I've got to
be in a hurry."

"More haste less speed.  You know the old saying.  In a time like this
it's sometimes better for a man to know where he's going than it is to
get there, 'cause he may arrive at the wrong place."

"Good logic, comrade, but I must hurry just the same.  Which is my best
way to find General Pleasanton?"

"Southwest.  But I'm bound to tell you a few things first."

"All right.  What are they?"

"You and I must be kinsfolk."

"How do you make that out?"

"Because my name is William Haskell, and I belong to the Fifth
Pennsylvania, the same regiment that you do."

"Is that so?  It's strange that we haven't met before.  But funny things
happen in war."

"So they do.  Awfully funny.  Now my brother's name is John Haskell,
and you happen to be carrying his canteen, but you've changed looks a lot
in the last few days, Brother John."

Haskell's voice had been growing more menacing, and Harry, with native
quickness, was ready to act.  When he saw the man's pistol flash from his
belt he went over the side of his horse and the bullet whistled where
his body had been.  His own rifle cracked in reply, but Haskell's horse,
not he, took the bullet, and, screaming with pain and fright, ran into
the woods as the rider slipped from his back.

Harry, realizing that his peril was imminent and deadly, fired one of his
pistols at the second man, who fell from his horse, too badly wounded in
the shoulder to take any further part in the fight.

But Harry found in Haskell an opponent worthy of all his skill and
courage.  The Union soldier threw himself upon the ground and fired at
Harry's horse, which instantly jerked the bridle from his hand and fled
as the other had done.  Harry dropped flat in the grass and leaves and
listened, his heart thumping.

But luck had favored him again.  He lay in a slight depression and any
bullet fired at him would be sure to go over him unless he raised his
head.  He could not see his enemies, but he could depend upon his
wonderful power of hearing, inherited and cultivated, which gave him an
advantage over his opponents.

He heard the wounded man groan ever so lightly, and then the other
whisper to him, "Are you much hurt, Bill?"  The reply came in a moment:
"My right shoulder is put out for the time, and I can't help you now."
Presently he heard the slight sound of the other crawling toward him.
Evidently this Haskell was a fearless fellow, bound to get him, and he
called from the shadow in which he lay.

"You'd better stop, Haskell!  I've got the best pair of ears in all this
region, and I hear you coming!  Crawl another step and you meet a bullet!
But I want to tell you first that your interesting brother John is all
right.  I didn't kill him.  I merely robbed him."

"Robbed him of what?"

"Oh, of several things."

"What things?"

"They don't concern you, Haskell.  These are matters somewhat above you."

"They are, are they?  Well, maybe they are, but I'm going to see that you
don't get away with the proceeds of your robbery."

Harry didn't like his tone.  It was fierce and resolute, and he realized
once more that he had a man of quality before him.  If Haskell had
behaved properly he would have withdrawn with his wounded comrade.
But then he was an obstinate Yankee.

He raised up ever so little and glanced across the intervening space,
seeing the muzzle of a rifle not many yards away.  There could be no
doubt that Haskell was watchful and would continue watching.  He drew
his head back again and said:

"Let's call it a draw.  You go back to your army, Mr. Haskell, and I'll
go back to mine."

"Couldn't think of it.  As a matter of fact, I'm with my army now;
that is, I'm in its lines, while you can't reach yours.  All I've got to
do is to hold you here, and in the course of time some of our people will
come along and take you."

"Do you think I'm worth so much trouble?"

"In a way it's a sort of personal affair with me.  You admit having
robbed my brother, and I feel that I must avenge him.  He has been acting
as a dispatch rider, and I can make a pretty shrewd guess about what you
took from him.  So I think I'll stay here."

Harry blamed himself bitterly for his careless and unfortunate
expressions.  He did not fear the result of a duel with this man, being
the master of woodcraft that he was, but he was losing time, valuable
time, time more precious than gold and diamonds, time heavy with the
fate of armies and a nation.  He grew furiously angry at everything, and
angriest at Haskell.

"Mr. Haskell," he called, "I'm getting tired of your society, and I make
you a polite request to go away."

"Oh, no, you're not tired.  You merely think you are, and I couldn't
consider conceding to your request.  It's for your good more than mine.
My society is elevating to any Johnny Reb."

"Then I warn you that I may have to hurt you."

"How about getting hurt yourself?"

Harry was silent.  His acute ears brought him the sound of Haskell moving
a little in his own particular hollow.  The lonesome owl hooted twice
more, but there was no sound to betoken the approach of Union troops in
the forest.  The duel of weapons and wits would have to be fought out
alone by Haskell and himself.

He went over everything again and again and he concluded that he must
rely upon his superior keenness of ear.  He could hear Haskell, but
Haskell could not hear him, and there was Providence once more taking him
into favor.  Summer clouds began to drift before the moon, and many of
the stars were veiled.  It was possible that Haskell's eyes also were not
as keen as his own.

When the darkness increased, he began to crawl from the little shallow.
Despite extreme precautions he made a slight noise.  A pistol flashed and
a bullet passed over him.  It made his muscles quiver, but he called in a
calm voice:

"Why did you do such a foolish thing as that?  You wasted a perfectly
good bullet."

"Weren't you trying to escape?  I thought I heard a movement in the
grass."

"Wasn't thinking of such a thing.  I'm just waiting here to see what
you'll do.  Why don't you come on and attack?"

"I'm satisfied with things as they are.  I'll hold you until morning and
then our men will be sure to come and pick you up."

"Maybe it will be our men who will come and pick you up."

"Oh, no; they're too busy leaving Gettysburg behind 'em."

Harry nevertheless had succeeded in leaving the shallow and was now lying
on its farther bank.  Then he resumed the task of crawling forward on his
face, and without making any noise, one of the most difficult feats that
a human being is ever called upon to do.

At the end of a dozen feet, he paused both to rest and to listen.
His acute ears told him that Haskell had not moved from his own place,
and his eyes showed him that the darkness was increasing.  Those
wonderful, kindly clouds were thickening before the moon, and the stars
in troops were going out of sight.

But he did not relax his caution.  He knew that he could not afford to
make any sound that would arouse the suspicions of Haskell, and it was
a quarter of an hour before he felt himself absolutely safe.  Then he
passed around a big tree and arose behind its trunk, appreciating what a
tremendous luxury it was to be a man and to stand upon one's own feet.

He had triumphed again!  The stars surely were with him.  They might play
little tricks upon him now and then to tantalize him, but in the more
important matters they were on his side.  He stretched himself again and
again to relieve the terrible stiffness caused by such long and painful
crawling, and then, unable to resist an exultant impulse, he called
loudly:

"Good-by, Haskell!"

There was a startled exclamation and a bullet fired at random cut the
leaves twenty yards away.  Harry, making no reply, fled swiftly through
the forest toward the valley where the rebel raiders rode.




CHAPTER VII

IN THE WAGON


He ran at first, reckless of impediments, and there was a sound of
crashing as he sped through the bushes.  He was not in the least afraid
of Haskell.  He had his rifle and pistols and in the woods he was
infinitely the superior.  He did not even believe that Haskell would
pursue, but he wanted to get far beyond any possible Federal sentinels
as soon as possible.

After a flight of a few hundred yards he slackened speed, and began to go
silently.  The old instincts and skill of the forester returned to him.
He knew that he was safe from immediate pursuit and now he would approach
his own lines carefully.  He was grateful for the chance or series of
chances that always took him toward Lee.  It seemed now that his enemies
had merely succeeded in driving him at an increased pace in the way he
wanted to go.

He was descending a slope, thickly clothed with undergrowth.  A few
hundred yards farther his knees suddenly crumpled under him and he sank
down, seized at the same time with a fit of nervous trembling.  He had
passed through so many ordeals that strong and seasoned as he was and
high though his spirits, the collapse came all at once.  He knew what was
the matter and, quietly stretching himself out, he lay still that the
spell might pass.

The lonesome owl, probably the same one that he had heard earlier,
began to hoot, and now it was near by.  Harry thought he could make out
its dim figure on a branch and he was sure that the red eyes, closed by
day, were watching him, doubtless with a certain contempt at his weakness.

"Old man, if you had been chased by the fowler as often as I have,"
were the words behind his teeth, addressed to the dim and fluffy figure,
"you wouldn't be sitting up there so calm and cocky.  Your tired head
would sink down between your legs, your feathers would be wet with
perspiration and you'd be so tired you'd hardly be able to hang on to
the tree."

Came again the lonesome hoot of the owl, spreading like a sinister omen
through the forest.  It made Harry angry, and, raising himself up a
little, he shook his fist again at the figure on the branch, now growing
clearer in outline.

"'Bird or devil?'" he quoted.

The owl hooted once more, the strange ominous cry carrying far in the
silence of the night.

"Devil it is," said Harry, "and quoth your evil majesty 'never more.'
I won't be scared by a big owl playing the part of the raven.  It's not
'nevermore' with me.  I've many a good day ahead and don't you dare tell
me I haven't."

Came the solemn and changeless hoot of the owl in reply.

Harry's exertions and excitement had brought too much blood to his head
and he was seeing red.  He raised himself upon his elbows and stared
at the owl which stared back from red rimmed eyes, cold, emotionless,
implacable.  He had been terribly shaken, and now a superstitious fright
overcame him.  The raven and the albatross were in his mind and he
murmured under his breath passages from their ominous poems.  The scholar
had his raven, the mariner had his albatross and now he alone in the
forest had his owl, to his mind the most terrible bird of the three.

Came again that solemn and warning cry, the most depressing of all in the
wilderness, while the changeless and sinister eyes stared steadily at
him.  Then Harry remembered that he had a rifle, and he sat up.  He would
slay this winged monster.  There was light enough for him to draw a bead,
and he was too good a marksman to miss.

He dropped the muzzle of the rifle in a sudden access of fear as he
remembered the albatross.  A shiver ran through every nerve and muscle,
and so heavily was he oppressed that he felt as if he had just escaped
committing murder.  He rubbed his hand across his damp forehead and the
act brought him out of that dim world in which he had been living for the
last ten or fifteen minutes.

"Bird of whatever omen you may be, I'll not shoot you.  That's certain,"
he said, "but I'll leave you to your melancholy predictions just as soon
as I can."

He stood up somewhat unsteadily, and renewed the descent of the slope.
Near its foot he came to a brook and bathing his face plentifully in the
cool water he felt wonderfully refreshed.  All his strength was flowing
back swiftly.

Then he entered the valley, pressing straight toward the west, and soon
heard the tread of horses.  He knew that they must be the cavalry of his
own army, but he withdrew into the bushes until he was assured.  A dozen
men riding slowly and warily came into view, and though the moonlight was
wan he recognized them at once.  When they were opposite him he stepped
from his ambush and said:

"A happy night to you, Colonel Talbot."

Colonel Leonidas Talbot was a brave man, but seldom in his life had he
been so shaken.

"Good God, Hector!" he cried.  "It's Harry Kenton's ghost!"

Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire turned pale.

"I don't believe in ghosts, Leonidas," he said, "but this one certainly
looks like that of Harry Kenton."

"Colonel Talbot," called Harry, "I'm not a ghost.  I'm the real Harry
Kenton, hunting for our army."

"Pale but substantial," said St. Clair, who rode just behind the two
colonels.  "He's our old Harry himself, and I'd know him anywhere."

"No ghost at all and the Yankee bullets can't make him one," said Happy
Tom.

A weakness seized Harry and a blackness came before his eyes.  When he
recovered St. Clair was holding him up, and Colonel Talbot was trying to
pour strong waters down his throat.

"How long have I been this way?" he asked anxiously.

"About sixty seconds," replied Colonel Talbot, "but what difference does
it make?"

"Because I'm in a big hurry to get to General Lee!  Oh!  Colonel!
Colonel!  You must speed me on my way!  I've got a message from Colonel
Sherburne to General Lee that means everything, and on the road I
captured another from General Meade to General Pleasanton.  Put me on a
horse, won't you, and gallop me to the commander-in-chief!"

"Are you strong enough to ride alone?"

"I'm strong enough to do anything now."

"Then up with you!  Here, on Carter's horse!  Carter can ride behind
Hubbell!  St. Clair, you and Langdon ride on either side of him!  You
should reach the commander-in-chief in three-quarters of an hour, Harry!"

"And there is no Yankee cavalry in between?"

"No, they're thick on the slopes above us!  You knew that, but here
you're inside our own lines.  Judging by your looks you've had quite a
time, Harry.  Now hurry on with him, boys!"

"So I have had, Colonel, but the appearance of you, Lieutenant-Colonel
St. Hilaire and the boys was like a light from Heaven.  Good-by!"

"Good-by!" the two colonels called back, but their voices were already
dying in the distance as Harry and his comrades were now riding rapidly
down the valley, knee to knee, because St. Clair and Langdon meant to
keep very close to him.  They saw that he was a little unsteady, and that
his eyes were unnaturally bright.  They knew, too, that if he said he
had great news for General Lee he told the truth, and they meant that he
should get there with it in the least time possible.

The valley opened out before them, broadening considerably as they
advanced.  The night was far gone, there was not much moonlight, but
their eyes had grown used to the dark, and they could see well.  They
passed sentinels and small detachments of cavalry, to whom St. Clair and
Langdon gave the quick password.  They saw fields of wheat stubble and
pastures and crossed two brooks.  The curiosity of Langdon and St. Clair
was overwhelming but they restrained it for a long time.  They could tell
by his appearance that he had passed through unimaginable hardships,
but they were loath to ask questions.

An owl on their right hooted, and both of them saw Harry shiver.

"What makes an owl's cry disturb you so, Harry?" asked Langdon.

"Because one of them tried to put the hoodoo on me as they say down in
your country, Happy.  I was lying back there in the forest on the hill
and the biggest and reddest-eyed owl that was ever born sat on a bough
over head, and kept telling me that I was finished, right at the end
of my rope.  But he was a liar, because here I am, with you fellows
on either side of me, inside our lines and riding to the camp of the
commander-in-chief."

"I think you're a bit shaky, Harry," said St. Clair, "and I don't wonder
at it.  If I had been through all I think you've been through I'd tumble
off that horse into the road and die."

"Has any messenger come from Colonel Sherburne at the river to General
Lee?"

"Not that I've heard of.  No, I'm sure that none's come," replied
St. Clair.

"Then I'll get to him first.  Don't think, Arthur, it's just a foolish
ambition of mine to lead, but the sooner some one reaches the general the
better."

"We'll see that you're first old man," said Langdon.  "It's not more than
a half-hour now."

But Harry reeled in his saddle.  The singular weakness that he had felt
a while back returned, and the road grew dark before him.  With a mighty
effort he steadied himself in the saddle and St. Clair heard him say in a
fierce undertone: "I will go through with it!"  St. Clair looked across
at Langdon and the signaling look of Happy Tom replied.  They drew in
just a little closer.  Now and then they talked to him sharply and
briskly, rousing him again and again from the lethargy into which he was
fast sinking.

"Look!  In the woods over there, Harry!" exclaimed St. Clair.  "See the
men stretched asleep on the grass!  They're the survivors of Pickett's
brigades that charged at Gettysburg."

"And I was there!" said Harry.  "I saw the greatest charge ever made in
the history of the world!"

He reeled a little toward St. Clair, who caught him by the shoulder and
straightened him in the saddle.

"Of course you had a pleasant, easy ride from the Potomac," said Happy
Tom, "but I don't understand how as good a horseman as you lost your
horse.  I suppose he ran away while you were picking berries by the
roadside."

"Me pick berries by the roadside, while I'm on such a mission!" exclaimed
Harry indignantly, rousing himself up until his eyes flashed, which was
just what Happy wished.  "I didn't see any berries!  Besides I didn't
start on a horse.  I left in a boat."

"A boat?  Now, Harry, I know you've turned romancer.  I guess your mystic
troubles with the owl--if you really saw an owl--have been a sort of spur
to your fancy."

"Do you mean to say, Tom Langdon, that I didn't see an owl and talk with
him?  I tell you I did, and his conversation was a lot more intelligent
than yours, even if it was unpleasant."

"Of course it was," said St. Clair.  "Happy's chief joy in life is
talking.  You know how he chatters away, Harry.  He hates to sleep,
because then he loses good time that he might use in talk.  I'll wager
you anything against anything, Harry, that when the Angel Gabriel blows
his horn Happy will rise out of his grave, shaking his shroud and furious
with anger.  He'll hold up the whole resurrection while he argues with
Gabriel that he blew his horn either too late or too early, or that it
was a mighty poor sort of a horn anyhow."

"I may do all that, Harry," said Happy, "but Arthur is sure to be the one
who will raise the trouble about the shroud.  You know how finicky he
is about his clothes.  He'll find fault with the quality of his shroud,
and he'll say that it's cut either too short or too long.  Then he'll
insist, while all the billions wait, on draping the shroud in the finest
Greek or Roman toga style, before he marches up to his place on the
golden cloud and receives his harp."

Harry laughed.

"That'll be old Arthur, sure," he said.  Then his head drooped again.
Fatigue was overpowering him.  St. Clair and Langdon put a hand on either
shoulder and held him erect, but Harry was so far sunk in lethargy that
he was not conscious of their grasp.  Men looked curiously at the three
young officers riding rapidly forward, the one in the center apparently
held on his horse by the other two.

St. Clair took prompt measures.

"Harry Kenton!" he called sharply.

"Here!"

"Do you know what they do with a sentinel caught asleep?"

"They shoot him!"

"What of a messenger, bearing great news who has ridden two or three days
and nights through a thousand dangers, and then becomes unconscious in
his saddle within five hundred yards of his journey's end?"

"The stake wouldn't be too good for him," replied Harry as with a mighty
effort he shook himself, both body and mind.  Once more his eyes cleared
and once more he sat erect in his saddle without help.

"I won't fail, Arthur," he said.  "Show the way."

"There's a big tree by the roadside almost straight ahead," said
St. Clair.  "General Lee is asleep under that, but he'll be as wide awake
as any man can be a half-minute after you arrive."

They sprang from their horses, St. Clair spoke quickly with a watching
officer who went at once to awaken Lee.  Harry dimly saw the form of the
general who was sleeping on a blanket, spread over small boughs.  Near
him a man in brilliant uniform was walking softly back and forth, and now
and then impatiently striking the tops of his high yellow-topped boots
with a little riding whip.  Harry knew at once that it was Stuart,
but the cavalry leader had not yet noticed him.

Harry saw the officer bend over the commander-in-chief, who rose in an
instant to his feet.  He was fully dressed and he showed gray in the
dusky light, but he seemed as ever calm and grave.  Harry felt instantly
the same swell of courage that the presence of Jackson had always brought
to him.  It was Lee, the indomitable, the man of genius, who could not
be beaten.  He heard him say to the officer who had awakened him, "Bring
him immediately!" and he stepped forward, strengthening himself anew and
filled with pride that he should be the first to arrive, as he felt that
he certainly now was.

"Lieutenant Kenton!" said Lee.

"Yes, sir," said Harry, lifting his cap.

"You were sent with Colonel Sherburne to see about the fords of the
Potomac."

"I was, sir."

"And he has sent you back with the report?"

"He has, sir.  He did not give me any written report for fear that I
might be captured.  He did me the honor to say that my verbal message
would be believed."

"It will.  I know you, as I do the other members of my staff.  Proceed."

"The Potomac is in great flood, sir, and the bridge is destroyed.
It can't be crossed until it runs down to its normal depth."

Harry saw other generals of high rank drawing near.  One he recognized as
Longstreet.  They were all silent and eager.

"Colonel Sherburne ordered me to say to you, sir," continued Harry,
"that the best fords would be between Williamsport and Hagerstown when
the river ran down."

"When did you leave him?"

"Nearly two days ago, sir."

"You have made good speed through a country swarming with our enemy.
You are entitled to rest."

"It's not all, sir?"

"What else?"

"On my way I captured a messenger with a letter from General Meade to
General Pleasanton.  I have the message, sir."

He brought forth the paper from his blouse and extended it to General Lee,
who took it eagerly.  Some one held up a torch and he read it aloud to
his generals.

"And so Meade means to trap me," he said, "by coming down on our flank!"

"Since the river is unfordable he'll have plenty of time to attack us
there," said Longstreet.

"But will he dare to attack?" said Stuart defiantly.  "He was able to
hold his own in defense at Gettysburg, but it's another thing to take the
offensive.  We hear that General Meade is cautious and that he makes many
complaints to his government.  A complainer is not the kind of man who
can destroy the Army of Northern Virginia."

"Sometimes it's well to be cautious, General," said Lee.

Then he turned to Harry and said:

"Again I commend you."

Harry saluted proudly, and then fell unconscious at the feet of General
Lee.

When the young staff officer awoke, he was lying in a wagon which was
moving slowly, with many jolts over a very rough road.  It was perhaps
one of these jolts that awoke him, because his eyes still felt very heavy
with sleep.  His position was comfortable as he lay on a heap of blankets,
and the sides of the wagon looked familiar.  Moreover the broad back of
the driver was not that of a stranger.  Moving his head into a higher
place on the blankets he called.

"Hey you, Dick Jones, where are you taking me?"

Jones turned his rubicund and kindly face.

"Don't it beat all how things come about?" he said.  "This wagon wasn't
built for passengers, but I have you once and then I have you twice,
sleepin' like a prince on them blankets.  I guess if the road wasn't so
rough you'd have slept all the way to Virginia.  But I'm proud to have
you as a passenger.  They say you've been coverin' yourself with glory.
I don't know about that, but I never before saw a man who was so all
fired tuckered out."

"Where did you find me?"

"I didn't exactly find you myself.  They say you saluted General Lee so
deep and so strong that you just fell down at his feet an' didn't move,
as if you intended to stay there forever.  But four of your friends
brought you to my wagon feet foremost, with orders from General Lee if
I didn't treat you right that I'd get a thousand lashes, be tarred an'
feathered, an' hung an' shot an' burned, an' then be buried alive.
For all of which there was no need, as I'm your friend and would treat
you right anyway."

"I know you would," laughed Harry.  "You can't afford to lose your best
passenger.  How long have I been sleeping in this rough train of yours?"

"Since about three o'clock in the morning."

"And what time might it be now."

"Well it might be ten o'clock in the morning or it might be noon, but it
ain't either."

"Well, then, what time is it?"

"It's about six o'clock in the afternoon, Mr. Kenton, and I judge that
you've slept nigh on to fifteen hours, which is mighty good for a man who
was as tired as you was."

"And what has the army been doing while I slept?"

"Oh, it's been marchin' an' marchin' an' marchin'.  Can't you hear the
wagons an' the cannons clinkin' an' clankin'?  An' the hoofs of the
horses beatin' in the road?  An the feet of forty or fifty thousand men
comin' down ker-plunk! ker-plunk! an' all them thousands talkin' off an'
on?  Yes, we're still marchin', Mr. Kenton, but we're retreatin' with all
our teeth showin' an' our claws out, sharpened specially.  Most of the
boys don't care if Meade would attack us.  They'd be glad of the chance
to get even for Gettysburg."

There was a beat of hoofs and St. Clair rode up by the side of the wagon.

"All right again, Harry?" he said cheerfully.  "I'm mighty glad of it.
Other messengers have got through from Sherburne, confirming what you
said, but you were the first to arrive and the army already was on the
march because of the news you brought.  Dalton arrived about noon,
dead beat.  Happy is coming with a horse for you, and you can rejoin the
staff now."

"Before I leave I'll have to thank Mr. Jones once more," said Harry.
"He runs the best passenger service that I know."

"Welcome to it any time, either you or your friend," said Jones, saluting
with his whip.




CHAPTER VIII

THE CROSSING


Harry left the wagon at midnight and overtook the staff, an orderly
providing him with a good horse.  Dalton, who had also been sleeping in
a wagon, came an hour or two later, and the two, as became modest young
officers, rode in the rear of the group that surrounded General Lee.

Although the darkness had come fully, the Army of Northern Virginia had
not yet stopped.  The infantry flanked by cavalry, and, having no fear
of the enemy, marched steadily on.  Harry closely observed General Lee,
and although he was well into his fifties he could discern no weakness,
either physical or mental, in the man who had directed the fortunes of
the South in the terrific and unsuccessful three days at Gettysburg and
who had now led his army for nearly a week in a retreat, threatened,
at any moment, with an attack by a veteran force superior in numbers.
All the other generals looked worn and weary, but he alone sat erect,
his hair and beard trimmed neatly, his grave eye showing no sign of
apprehension.

He seemed once more to Harry--youth is a hero-worshiper--omniscient and
omnipotent.  The invasion of the North had failed, and there had been a
terrible loss of good men, officers and soldiers, but, with Lee standing
on the defensive at the head of the Army of Northern Virginia, in
Virginia, the South would be invincible.  He had always won there,
and he always would win there.

Harry sighed, nevertheless.  He had two heroes, but one of them was gone.
He thought again if only Stonewall Jackson had been at Gettysburg.
Lee's terrible striking arm would have smitten with the hammer of Thor.
He would have pushed home the attack on the first day, when the Union
vanguard was defeated and demoralized.  He would have crushed the enemy
on the second day, leaving no need for that fatal and terrific charge of
Pickett on the third day.

"You reached the general first," said Dalton, "but I tried my best to
beat you."

"But I started first, George, old fellow.  That gave me the advantage
over you."

"It's fine of you to say it.  The army has quickened its pace since we
came.  A part of it, at least, ought to arrive at the river to-morrow,
though their cavalry are skirmishing continually on our flanks.  Don't
you hear the rifles?"

Harry heard them far away to right and left, like the faint buzzing of
wasps, but he had heard the same sound so much that it made no impression
upon him.

"Let 'em buzz," he said.  "They're too distant to reach any of us,
and the Army of Northern Virginia is passing on."

Those were precious hours.  Harry knew much, but he did not divine the
full depths of the suspense, suffered by the people beyond the veil that
clothed the two armies.  Lincoln had been continually urging Meade to
pursue and destroy his opponent, and Meade, knowing how formidable Lee
was, and how it had been a matter of touch and go at Gettysburg, pursued,
but not with all the ardor of one sure of triumph.  Yet the man at the
White House hoped continually for victory, and the Southern people feared
that his hopes would come true.

It became sure the next day that they would reach the Potomac before
Meade could attack them in flank, but the scouts brought word that the
Potomac was still a deep and swollen river, impossible to be crossed
unless they could rebuild the bridges.

Finally the whole army came against the Potomac and it seemed to Harry
that its yellow flood had not diminished one particle since he left.
But Lee acted with energy.  Men were set to work at once building a new
bridge near Falling Waters, parts of the ruined pontoon bridges were
recovered, and new boats were built in haste.  But while the workmen
toiled the army went into strong positions along the river between
Williamsport and Hagerstown.

Harry found himself with all of his friends again, and he was proud of
the army's defiant attitude.  Meade and the Army of the Potomac were
not far away, it was said, but the youthful veterans of the South were
entirely willing to fight again.  The older men, however, knew their
danger.  The disproportion of forces would be much greater than at
Gettysburg, and even if they fought a successful defensive action with
their back to the river the Army of the Potomac could bide its time and
await reinforcements.  The North would pour forth its numbers without
stint.

Harry rode to Sherburne with a message of congratulation from General Lee,
who told him that he had selected the possible crossing well, and that
he had shown great skill and valor in holding it until the army came up.
Sherburne's flush of pride showed under his deep tan.

"I did my best," he said to Harry, who knew the contents of the letter,
"and that's all any of us can do."

"But General Lee has a way of inspiring us to do our best."

"It's so, and it's one of the reasons why he's such a great general.
Watch those bridge builders work, Harry!  They're certainly putting their
souls and strength into it."

"And they have need to do so.  The scouts say that the Army of the
Potomac will be before us to-morrow.  Don't you think the river has
fallen somewhat, Colonel?"

"A little but look at those clouds over there, Harry.  As surely as we
sit here it's going to rain.  The rivers were low that we might cross
them on our march into the North, just smoothing our way to Gettysburg,
and now that Gettysburg has happened they're high so we can't get back
to the South.  It looks as if luck were against us."

"But luck has a habit of changing."

Harry rode back to headquarters, whence he was sent with another dispatch,
to Colonel Talbot, whom he found posted well in advance with the
Invincibles.

"This note," said the colonel, "bids us to watch thoroughly.  General
Meade and his army are expected on our front in the morning, and there
must be no chance for a surprise in the night, say a dash by their
cavalry which would cut up our rear guard or vanguard--upon my soul I
don't know which to call it.  Harry, as you can see by the note itself,
you're to remain with us until about midnight, and then make a full
report of all that you and I and the rest of us may have observed upon
this portion of the front or rear, whichever it may be.  Meanwhile we
share with you our humble rations."

Harry was pleased.  He was always glad when chance or purpose brought him
again into the company of the Invincibles.  St. Clair and Langdon were
his oldest comrades of the war, and they were like brothers to him.
His affection for the two colonels was genuine and deep.  If the two lads
were like brothers to him, the colonels were like uncles.

"Is the Northern vanguard anywhere near?" asked Harry.

"Skirmishing is going on only four or five miles away," replied Colonel
Leonidas Talbot.  "It is likely that the sharp shooters will be picking
off one another all through the night, but it will not disturb us.
That is a great curse of war.  It hardens one so for the time being.
I'm a soldier, and I've been one all my life, and I suppose soldiers are
necessary, but I can't get over this feeling.  Isn't it the same way with
you, Hector?"

"Exactly the same, Leonidas," replied Lieutenant-Colonel Hector
St. Hilaire.  "You and I fought together in Mexico, Leonidas, then on the
plains, and now in this gigantic struggle, but under whatever guise and,
wherever it may be, I find its visage always hideous.  I don't think we
soldiers are to blame.  We don't make the wars although we have to fight
'em."

"Increasing years, Hector, have not dimmed those perceptive faculties of
yours, which I may justly call brilliant."

"Thanks, Leonidas, you and I have always had a proper conception of the
worth of each other."

"If you will pardon me for speaking, sir," said St. Clair, "there is one
man I'd like to find, when this war is over."

"'What is the appearance of this man, Arthur?" asked Colonel Talbot.

"I don't know exactly how he looks, sir, though I've heard of him often,
and I shall certainly know him when I meet him.  You understand, sir,
that, while I've not seen him, he has very remarkable characteristics of
manner."

"And what may those be, Arthur?  Are they so salient that you would
recognize them at once?"

"Certainly, sir.  He has an uncommonly loud voice, which he uses nearly
all the time and without restraint.  Words fairly pour from his tongue.
Facts he scorns.  He soars aloft on the wings of fancy.  Many people who
have listened to him have felt persuaded by his talk, but he is perhaps
not so popular now."

"An extraordinary person, Arthur.  But why are you so anxious to find
him?"

"Because I wish, sir, to lay upon him the hands of violence.  I would
thrash him and beat him until he yelled for mercy, and then I would
thrash him and beat him again.  I should want the original pair of
seven-leagued boots, not that I might make such fast time, but that I
might kick him at a single kick from one county to another, and back,
and then over and over past counting.  I'd duck him in a river until he
gasped for breath, I'd drag him naked through a briar patch, and then
I'd tar and feather him, and ride him on a rail."

"Heavens, Arthur!  I didn't dream that your nature contained so much
cruelty!  Who is this person over whose torture you would gloat like a
red Indian?"

"It is the man who first said that one Southerner could whip five
Yankees."

"Arthur," said Colonel Talbot, "your anger is just and becomes you.
When the war is over, if we all are spared we'll form a group and hunt
this fellow until we find him.  And then, please God, if the gallows of
Haman is still in existence, we'll hang him on it with promptness and
dispatch.  I believe in the due and orderly process of the law, but in
this case lynching is not only justifiable, but it's an honor to the
country."

"Well spoken, Leonidas!  Well spoken!" said Lieutenant-Colonel Hector
St. Hilaire.  "I'm glad that Arthur mentioned the matter, and we'll bear
it in mind.  You can count upon me."

"And here is coffee," said Happy Tom.  "I made this myself, the camp cook
liking me and giving me a chance.  I'd really be a wonderful cook if I
had the proper training, and I may come to it, if we lose the war.
Still, the chance even then is slight, because my father, when red war
showed its edge over the horizon, put all his money in the best British
securities.  So we could do no more than lose the plantation."

"Happy," said Colonel Talbot, gravely rebuking, "I am surprised at your
father.  I thought he was a patriot."

"He is, sir, but he's a financier first, and I may be thankful for it
some day.  I'll venture the prediction right now that if we lose this war
not a single Confederate bill will be in the possession of Thomas Langdon,
Sr.  Others may have bales of it, worth less per pound than cotton,
but not your humble servant's father, who, I sometimes think, has lots
more sense than your humble servant's father's son."

Colonel Leonidas Talbot shook his head slowly.

"Finance is a mystery to me," he said.  "In the dear old South that
I have always known, the law, the army and the church were and are
considered the high callings.  To speak in fine, rounded periods was
considered the great gift.  In my young days, Harry, I went with my
father by stage coach to your own State, Kentucky, to hear that sublime
orator, the great Henry Clay."

"What was he speaking about, sir?" asked Harry.

"I don't remember.  That's not important.  But surely he was the noblest
orator God ever created in His likeness.  His words flowing like music
and to be heard by everybody, even those farthest from the speaker,
made my pulse beat hard, and the blood leap in my veins.  I was heart and
soul for his cause, whatever it was, and, yet I fear me, though I do not
wish to hurt your feelings, Harry, that the state to which he was such
ornament, has not gone for the South with the whole spirit that she
should have shown.  She has not even seceded.  I fear sometimes that you
Kentuckians are not altogether Southern.  You border upon the North,
and stretching as you do a long distance from east to west and a
comparatively short distance from north to south, you thus face three
Northern States across the Ohio--Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, and the
pull of three against one is strong.  You see your position, don't you?
Three Yankee states facing you from the north and only one Southern state,
Tennessee, lying across your whole southern border, that is three against
one.  I fear that these odds have had their effect, because if Kentucky
had sent all of her troops to the South, instead of two-thirds of them
to the North, the war would have been won by us ere this."

"I admit it," said Harry regretfully.  "My own cousin, who was more like
a brother to me, is fighting on the other side.  Kentucky troops on the
Union side have kept us from winning great victories, and many of the
Union generals are Kentuckians.  I grieve over it, sir, as much as you
do."

"But you and your people should not take too much blame to yourselves,
Harry," said Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire, who had a very soft
heart.  "Think of the many influences to which you were exposed daily.
Think of those three Yankee states sitting there on the other side of
the Ohio--Ohio, Indiana and Illinois--and staring at you so long and so
steadily that, in a way, they exerted a certain hypnotic force upon you.
No, my boy, don't feel badly about it, because the fault, in a way,
is not so much yours as it is that of your neighbors."

"At any rate," said Happy Tom, with his customary boldness and frankness,
"we're bound to admit that the Yankees beat us at making money."

"Which may be more to our credit than theirs," said Colonel Talbot,
with dignity.  "I have found it more conducive to integrity and a lofty
mind to serve as an officer at a modest salary in the army rather than
to gain riches in trade."

"But somebody has to pay the army, sir."

"Thomas, I regret to tell you that inquiry can be pushed to the point of
vulgarity.  I have been content with things as they were, and so should
you be.  Ah, there are our brave boys singing that noble battle song of
the South!  Listen how it swells!  It shows a spirit unconquerable!"

Along the great battle front swelled the mighty chorus:

      "Come brothers!  Rally for the right!
       The bravest of the brave
       Sends forth her ringing battle cry
       Beside the Atlantic wave!
       She leads the way in honor's path;
       Come brothers, near and far,
       Come rally round the bonnie blue flag
          That bears a single star."

"A fine song!  A fine song most truly," said Colonel Talbot.  "It
heartens one gloriously!"

But Harry, usually so quick to respond, strangely enough felt depression.
He felt suddenly in all its truth that they had not only failed in their
invasion, but the escape of the army was yet a matter of great doubt.
The mood was only momentary, however, and he joined with all his heart as
the mighty chorus rolled out another verse:

      "Now Georgia marches to the front
       And beside her come
       Her sisters by the Mexique sea
       With pealing trump and drum,
       Till answering back from hill and glen
       The rallying cry afar,
       A Nation hoists the bonnie blue flag
          That bears a single star!"

They sang it all through, and over again, and then, after a little
silence, came the notes of a trumpet from a far-distant point.  It was
played by powerful lungs and the wind was blowing their way but they
heard it distinctly.  It was a quaint syncopated tune, but not one of the
Invincibles had any doubt that it came from some daring detachment of the
Union Army.  The notes with their odd lilt seemed to swell through the
forest, but it was strange to both of the colonels.

"Do any of you know it?" asked Colonel Talbot.

All shook their heads except Harry.

"What is it, Harry?" asked Talbot.

"It's a famous poem, sir, the music of which has not often been heard,
but I can translate from music into words the verse that has just been
played:

      "In their ragged regimentals
       Stood the old Continentals
          Yielding not,
       When the grenadiers were lunging
       And like hail fell the plunging
          Cannon shot;
       When the files of the isles
       From the smoky night encampment
       Bore the banner of the rampant
          Unicorn
       And grummer, grummer,
       Rolled the roll of the drummer,
          Through the morn!"

The bugler played on.  It was the same tune, curious, syncopated and
piercing the night shrilly.  Whole brigades of the South stood in silence
to listen.

"What do you think is its meaning?" asked Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire.

"It's in answer to our song and at the same time a reproach," replied
Harry, who had jumped at once to the right conclusion.  "The bugler
intends to remind us that the old Continentals who stood so well were
from both North and South, and perhaps he means, too, that we should
stand together again instead of fighting each other."

"Then let the North give up at once," snapped Colonel Talbot.

"But in the trumpeter's opinion that means we should be apart forever."

"Then let him play on to ears that will not heed."

But the bugler was riding away.  The music came faintly, and then died in
one last sighing note.  It left Harry grave and troubled, and he began
to ask himself new questions.  If the South succeeded in forcing a
separation, what then?  But the talk of his comrades drove the thought
from his mind.  Colonel Talbot sent St. Clair, Langdon and a small party
of horsemen forward to see what the close approach of the daring bugler
meant.  Harry went with them.

Scouts in the brushwood quickly told them that a troop of Union cavalry
had appeared in a meadow some distance ahead of them, and that it was one
of their number who had played the song on the bugle.  Should they stalk
the detachment and open fire?  St. Clair, who was in command, shook his
head.

"It would mean nothing now," he said, and rode on with his men, knowing
that the watchful Southern sharpshooters were on their flanks.  It was
night now, and a bright moon was coming out, enabling them to use their
glasses with effect.

"There they are!" exclaimed Harry, pointing to the strip of forest on the
far side of the opening, "and there is the bugler, too."

He was studying the party intently.  The brilliant moonlight, and the
strength of his glasses made everything sharp and clear and his gaze
concentrated upon the bugler.  He knew that man, his powerful chest and
shoulders, and the well-shaped head on its strong neck.  Nor did he deny
to himself that he had a feeling of gladness when he recognized him.

"It's none other," he said aloud.

"None other what?" asked St. Clair.

"Our warning bugler was Shepard, the Union spy.  I can make him out
clearly on his horse with his bugle in his hand.  You'll remember my
telling you how I had that fight with him in the river."

"And perhaps it would have been better for us all if you had finished him
off then."

"I couldn't have done it, Arthur, nor could you, if you had been in my
place."

"No, I suppose not, but these Yankees are coming up pretty close.
It's sure proof that Meade's whole army will be here in the morning,
and the bridge won't be built."

"It may be built, but, if Meade chooses a battle, a battle there will be.
Heavy forces must be very near.  You can see them now signaling to one
another from hill to hill."

"So I do, and this is as far as we ought to go.  A hundred yards or
two farther and we'll be in the territory of the enemy's sharpshooters
instead of our own."

They remained for a while among some bushes, and secured positive
knowledge that the bulk of the Army of the Potomac was drawing near.
Toward midnight Harry returned to his commander-in-chief and found him
awake and in consultation with his generals, under some trees near the
Potomac.  Longstreet, Rhodes, Pickett, Early, Anderson, Pender and a
dozen others were there, all of them scarred and tanned by battle,
and most of them bearing wounds.

Harry stood back, hesitating to invade this circle, even when he came
with dispatches, but the commander-in-chief, catching sight of him,
beckoned.  Then, taking off his cap, he walked forward and presented a
note from Colonel Talbot.  It was brief, stating that the enemy was near,
and Lee read it aloud to his council.

"And what were your own observations, Lieutenant Kenton?" asked the
commander-in-chief.

"As well as I could judge, sir, the enemy will appear on our whole front
soon after daybreak."

"And will be in great enough force to defeat us."

"Not while you lead us, sir."

"A courtier! truly a courtier!" exclaimed Stuart, smoothing the great
feather of his gorgeous hat, which lay upon his knee.

Harry blushed.

"It may have had that look," he said, "but I meant my words."

"Don't tease the lad," said the crippled Ewell.  "I knew him well on
Jackson's staff, and he was one of our bravest and best."

"A jest only," said Stuart.  "Don't I know him as well as you, Ewell?
The first time I saw him he was riding alone among many dangers to bring
relief to a beleaguered force of ours."

"And you furnished that relief, sir," said Harry.

"Well, so I did, but it was my luck, not merit."

"Be assured that you have no better friend than General Stuart," said
General Lee, smiling.  "You have done your duty well, Lieutenant Kenton,
and as these have been arduous days for you you may withdraw, and join
your young comrades of the staff."

Harry saluted and retired.  Before he was out of ear shot the generals
resumed their eager talk, but they knew, even as Harry himself, that
there was but one thing to do, stand with their backs to the river and
fight, if Meade chose to offer battle.

He slept heavily, and when he awoke the next day Dalton, who was up
before him, informed him that the Northern army was at hand.  Snatching
breakfast, he and Dalton, riding close behind the commander-in-chief,
advanced a little distance and standing upon a knoll surveyed the
thrilling spectacle before them.  Far along the front stretched the Army
of the Potomac, horse, foot and guns, come up with its enemy again.
Harry was sure that Meade was there, and with him Hancock and Buford and
Warren and all the other valiant leaders whom they had met at Gettysburg.
It was nine days since the close of the great battle, and doubtless the
North had poured forward many reinforcements, while the South had none
to send.

Harry appreciated the full danger of their situation, with the larger
army in front of them, and the deep and swollen torrent of the Potomac
behind them.  But he did not believe that Meade would attack.  Lee had
lost at Gettysburg, but in losing he had inflicted such losses upon his
opponent, that most generals would hesitate to force another battle.
The one who would not have hesitated was consolidating his great triumph
at Vicksburg.  Harry often thought afterward what would have happened had
Grant faced Lee that day on the wrong side of the Potomac.

His opinion that Meade would not attack came from a feeling that might
have been called atmospheric, an atmosphere created by the lack of
initiative on the Union side, no clouds of skirmishers, no attacks of
cavalry, very little rifle firing of any kind, merely generals and
soldiers looking at one another.  Harry saw, too, that his own opinion
was that of his superior officer.  Watching the commander-in-chief
intently he saw a trace of satisfaction in the blue eyes.  Presently
all of them rode back.

Thus that day passed and then another wore on.  Harry and Dalton had
little to do.  The whole Army of Northern Virginia was in position,
defiant, challenging even, and the Army of the Potomac made no movement
forward.  Harry watched the strange spectacle with an excitement that he
did not allow to appear on his face.  It was like many of those periods
in the great battles in which he had taken a part, when the combat died,
though the lull was merely the omen of a struggle, soon to come more
frightful than ever.

But here the struggle did not come.  The hours of the afternoon fell
peacefully away, and the general and soldiers still looked at one another.

"They're working on the bridge like mad," said Dalton, who had been away
with a message, "and it will surely be ready in the morning.  Besides,
the Potomac is falling fast.  You can already see the muddy lines that
it's leaving on its banks."

"And Meade's chance is slipping, slipping away!" said Harry exultingly.
"In three hours it will be sunset.  They can't attack in the night and
to-morrow we'll be gone.  Meade has delayed like McClellan at Antietam,
and, doubtless as McClellan did, he thinks our army much larger than it
really is."

"It's so," said Dalton.  "We're to be delivered, and we're to be
delivered without a battle, a battle that we could ill afford, even if
we won it."

Both were in a state of intense anxiety and they looked many times at the
sun and their watches.  Then they searched the hostile army with their
glasses.  But nothing of moment was stirring there.  Lower and lower sank
the sun, and a great thrill ran through the Army of Northern Virginia.
In both armies the soldiers were intelligent men--not mere creatures
of drill--who thought for themselves, and while those in the Army of
Northern Virginia were ready, even eager to fight if it were pushed upon
them, they knew the great danger of their position.  Now the word ran
along the whole line that if they fought at all it would be on their side
of the river.

Harry and Dalton did not sleep that night.  They could not have done
so had the chance been offered.  They like others rode all through the
darkness carrying messages to the different commands, insuring exact
cooperation.  As the hours of the night passed the aspect of everything
grew better.  The river had fallen so fast that it would be fordable
before morning.

But after midnight the clouds gathered, thunder crashed, lightning played
and the violent rain of a summer storm enveloped them again.  Harry
viewed it at first with dismay, and then he found consolation.  The
darkness and the storm would cover their retreat, as it had covered the
retreat of their enemy, Hooker, after Chancellorsville.

Harry and Dalton rode close behind Lee, who sat erect on his white horse,
supervising the first movement of troops over the new and shaking bridge.
Harry noted with amazement that despite his enormous exertions, physical
and mental, and an intense anxiety, continuous for many days, he did not
yet show signs of fatigue.  Word had come that a part of the army was
already fording the river, near Williamsport, but this bridge near
Falling Waters was the most important point.  General Lee and his staff
sat there on their horses a long time, while the rain beat unheeded upon
them.

Few scenes are engraved more vividly upon the mind of Harry Kenton than
those dusky hours before the dawn, the flashes of lightning, the almost
incessant rumble of thunder, the turbid and yellow river across which
stretched the bridge, a mere black thread in the darkness, swaying and
dipping and rising and creaking as horse and foot, and batteries and
ammunition wagons passed upon it.

There were torches, but they flared and smoked in the rain and cast a
light so weak and fitful that Harry could not see the farther shore.
The Army of Northern Virginia marched out upon a shaking bridge and
disappeared in the black gulf beyond.  Only the lack of an alarm coming
back showed that it was reaching the farther shore.

"Dawn will soon be here," said Dalton.

"So it will," said Harry, "and most of the troops are across.  Ah,
there go the Invincibles!  Look how they ride!"

Colonel Leonidas Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire at the
head of their scanty band were just passing.  They took off their hats,
and swept a low bow to the great chief who sat silently on his white
horse within a few yards of them.  Then, side by side, they rode upon the
shaking bridge, followed by Langdon, St. Clair and their brave comrades,
and disappeared, where the bridge disappeared, in the rain and mist.

"Brave men!" murmured Lee.

Harry, always watching his commander-in-chief, saw now for the first time
signs of fatigue and nervousness.  The tremendous strain was wearing him
down.  But while the rain still poured and ran in streams from his gray
hair and gray beard, the rear guard of the Army of Northern Virginia
passed upon the bridge, and Stuart, all his plumes bedraggled, rode up to
his chief, a smoking cup of coffee in his hand.

"Drink this, General, won't you?" he said.

He seized it, drank all of the coffee eagerly, and then handing back the
cup, said:

"I never before in my life drank anything that refreshed me so much."

Then he, with his staff, Stuart and some other generals rode over the
bridge, disappearing in their turn into the darkness and mist that had
swallowed up the others, but emerging, as the others had done, into the
safety of the Southern shore.

Meade and his generals had held a council the night before but nearly all
the officers advised against attack.  This night he made up his mind to
move against Lee anyhow, and was ready at dawn, only to find the whole
Southern army gone.




CHAPTER IX

IN SOCIETY


Harry, when the dawn had fully come, was sent farther away toward the
ford to see if the remainder of the troops had passed, and, when he
returned with the welcome news, the rain had ceased to fall.  The
army was rapidly drying itself in the brilliant sunshine, and marched
leisurely on.  He felt an immense relief.  He knew that a great crisis
had been passed, and, if the Northern armies ever reached Richmond,
it would be a long and sanguinary road.  Meade might get across and
attack, but his advantage was gone.

The same spirit of relief pervaded the ranks, and the men sang their
battle songs.  There had been some fighting at one or two of the fords,
but it did not amount to much, and no enemy hung on their rear.  But no
stop was made by the staff until noon, when a fire was made and food was
cooked.  Then Harry was notified that he and Dalton were to start that
night with dispatches for Richmond.  They were to ride through dangerous
country, until they reached a point on the railroad, wholly within the
Southern lines, when they would take a train for the Confederate capital.

They were glad to go.  They felt sure that no great battles would be
fought while they were gone.  Neither army seemed to be in a mood for
further fighting just yet, and they longed for a sight of the little city
that was the heart of the Confederacy.  They were tired of the rifle and
march, of cannon and battles.  They wished to be a while where civilized
life went on, to hear the bells of churches and to see the faces of women.

It seemed to them both that they had lived almost all their lives in war.
Even Jeb Stuart's ball, stopped by the opening guns of a great battle,
was far, far away, and to Harry, it was at least a century since he had
closed his Tacitus in the Pendleton Academy, and put it away in his desk.
That old Roman had written something of battles, but they were no such
struggles as Chancellorsville and Gettysburg had been.  The legions,
he admitted in his youthful pride, could fight well, but they never could
have beaten Yank or Reb.

He and Dalton slept through the afternoon and directly after dark,
well equipped and well-armed, they made their start into the South.
But in going they did not neglect to pass the camp of the Invincibles
who were now in the apex of the army farthest south.  They had found an
unusually comfortable place on a grassy plot beside a fine, cool spring,
and most of them were lying down.  But Colonel Talbot and Lieutenant-
Colonel Hector St. Hilaire sat on empty kegs, with a board on an empty
box between them.  The great game which ran along with the war had been
renewed.  St. Clair and Langdon sat on the grass beside them, watching
the contest.

The two colonels looked up at the sound of hoofs and paused a moment.

"I'm getting his king into a close corner, Harry," said Colonel Talbot,
"and he'll need a lot of time for thinking.  Where are you two going,
or perhaps I shouldn't ask you such a question?"

"There's no secret about it," replied Harry.  "We're going to Richmond
with dispatches."

"He was incorrect in saying that he was getting my king into a close
corner, as I'll presently show him," said Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire;
"but you boys are lucky.  I suppose you'll stay a while in the capital.
You'll sleep in white beds, you'll eat at tables, with tablecloths on
'em.  You'll hear the soft voices of the women and girls of the South,
God bless 'em!"

"And if you went on to Charleston you'd find just as fine women there,"
said Colonel Leonidas Talbot.

He sighed and a shade of sadness crossed his face.  Harry heard and saw
and understood.  He remembered a night long, long ago in that heat of
rebellion, when he had looked down from the window of his room, and,
in the dark, had seen two figures, a man and a woman, upon a piazza,
Colonel Talbot and Madame Delaunay, talking softly together.  He had felt
then that he was touching almost unconsciously upon the thread of an old
romance.  A thread slender and delicate, but yet strong enough in its
very tenderness and delicacy to hold them both.  The perfume of the
flowers and of the old romance that night in the town so far away came
back.  He was moved, and when his eyes met Colonel Talbot's some kind
of an understanding passed between them.

"The good are never rewarded," said Happy Tom.

"How so?" asked Harry.

"Because the proof of it sits on his horse here before us.  Why should a
man like George Dalton be sent to Richmond?  A sour Puritan who does not
know how to enjoy a dance or anything else, who looks upon the beautiful
face of a girl as a sin and an abomination, who thinks to be ugly is to
be good, who is by temperament and education unfit to enjoy anything,
while Thomas Langdon, who by the same measurements is fit to enjoy
everything, is left here to hold back the Army of the Potomac.  It's
undoubtedly a tribute to my valor, but I don't like it."

"Thomas," said Colonel Leonidas Talbot, gravely, "you're entirely too
severe with our worthy young friend, Dalton.  The bubbles of pleasure
always lie beneath austere and solemn exteriors like his, seeking to
break a way to the surface.  The longer the process is delayed the more
numerous the bubbles are and the greater they expand.  If scandalous
reports concerning a certain young man in Richmond should reach us here
in the North, relating his unparalleled exploits in the giddier circles
of our gay capital, I should know without the telling that it was our
prim young George Dalton."

"You never spoke truer words, Leonidas," said Lieutenant-Colonel Hector
St. Hilaire.  "A little judicious gallantry in youth is good for any one.
It keeps the temperature from going too high.  I recall now the case of
Auguste Champigny, who owned an estate in Louisiana, near the Louisiana
estate of the St. Hilaires, and the estates of those cousins of mine whom
I visited, as I told you once.

"But pardon me.  I digress, and to digress is to grow old, so I will not
digress, but remain young, in heart at least.  I go back now.  I was
speaking of Auguste Champigny, who in youth thought only of making money
and of making his plantation, already great, many times greater.  The
blood in his veins was old at twenty-two.  He did not love the vices that
the world calls such.  But yet there were times, I knew, when he would
have longed to go with the young, because youth cannot be crushed
wholly at twenty-two.  There was no escape of the spirits, no wholesome
blood-letting, so to speak, and that which was within him became corrupt.
He acquired riches and more riches, and land and more land, and at fifty
he went to New Orleans, and sought the places where pleasures abound.
But his true blossoming time had passed.  The blood in his veins now
became poison.  He did the things that twenty should do, and left undone
the things that fifty should do.  Ah!  Harry, one of the saddest things
in life is the dissipated boy of fifty!  He should have come with us when
the first blood of youth was upon him.  He could have found time then for
play as well as work.  He could have rowed with us in the slender boats
on the river and bayous with Mimi and Rosalie and Marianne and all those
other bright and happy ones.  He could have danced, too.  It was no
strain, we never danced longer than two days and two nights without
stopping, and the festivals, the gay fete days, not more than one a week!
But it was not Auguste's way.  A man when he should have been a boy,
and then, alas! a boy when he should have been a man!"

"You speak true words, Hector," said Colonel Leonidas Talbot, "though at
times you seem to me to be rather sentimental.  Youth is youth and it has
the pleasures of youth.  It is not fitting that a man should be a boy,
but middle-age has pleasures of its own and they are more solid, perhaps
more satisfying than those of youth.  I can't conceive of twenty getting
the pleasure out of the noble game of chess that we do.  The most
brilliant of your young French Creole dancers never felt the thrill that
I feel when the last move is made and I beat you."

"Then if you expect to experience that thrill, Leonidas, continue the
pursuit of my king, from which you expect so much, and see what will
happen to you."

Colonel Talbot looked keenly at the board, and alarm appeared on his
face.  He made a rapid retreat with one of his pieces, and Harry and
Dalton, knowing that it was time for them to go, reached down from their
saddles, shook hands with both, then with St. Clair and Happy Tom,
and were soon beyond the bounds of the camp.

They rode on for many hours in silence.  They were in a friendly land now,
but they knew that it was well to be careful, as Federal scouts and
cavalry nevertheless might be encountered at any moment.  Two or three
times they turned aside from the road to let detachments of horsemen
pass.  They could not tell in the dark and from their hiding places to
which army they belonged, and they were not willing to take the delay
necessary to find out.  They merely let them ride by and resumed their
own place on the road.

Harry told Dalton many more details of his perilous journey from the
river to the camp of the commander-in-chief, and he spoke particularly
of Shepard.

"Although he's a spy," he said, "I feel that the word scarcely fits him,
he's so much greater than the ordinary spy.  That man is worth more than
a brigade of veterans to the North.  He's as brave as a lion, and his
craft and cunning are almost superhuman."

He did not tell that he might easily have put Shepard forever out of the
way, but that his heart had failed him.  Yet he did not feel remorse nor
any sense of treachery to his cause.  He would do the same were the same
chance to come again.  But it seemed to him now that a duel had begun
between Shepard and himself.  They had been drifting into it, either
through chance or fate, for a long time.  He knew that he had a most
formidable antagonist, but he felt a certain elation in matching himself
against one so strong.

They rode all night and the next day across the strip of Maryland into
Virginia and once more were among their own people, their undoubted own.
They were now entering the Valley of Virginia where the great Jackson had
leaped into fame, and both Harry and Dalton felt their hearts warm at the
greetings they received.  Both armies had marched over the valley again
and again.  It was torn and scarred by battle, and it was destined to
be torn and scarred many times more, but its loyalty to the South stood
every test.  This too was the region in which many of the great Virginia
leaders were born, and it rejoiced in the valor of its sons.

Food and refreshment were offered everywhere to the two young horsemen,
and the women and the old men--not many young men were left--wanted to
hear of Gettysburg.  They would not accept it as a defeat.  It was merely
a delay, they said.  General Lee would march North once more next year.
Harry knew in his heart that the South would never invade again, that
the war would be for her henceforth a purely defensive one, but he said
nothing.  He could not discourage people who were so sanguine.

Every foot of the way now brought back memories of Jackson.  He saw many
familiar places, fields of battle, sites of camps, lines of advance or
retreat, and his heart grew sad within him, because one whom he admired
so much, and for whom he had such a strong affection, was gone forever,
gone when he was needed most.  He saw again with all the vividness of
reality that terrible night at Chancellorsville, when the wounded Jackson
lay in the road, his young officers covering his body with their own to
protect him from the shells.

When they reached the strip of railroad entering Richmond they left their
horses to be sent later, and each took a full seat in the short train,
where he could loosen his belt, and stretch his limbs.  It was a crude
coach, by the standards of to-day, but it was a luxury then.  Harry
and Dalton enjoyed it, after so much riding horseback, and watched the
pleasant landscape, brown now from the July sun, flow past.

Their coach did not contain many passengers, several wounded officers
going to Richmond on furlough, some countrymen, carrying provisions to
the capital for sale, and a small, thin, elderly woman in a black dress,
to whom Harry assigned the part of an old maid.  He noticed that her
features were fine and she had the appearance of one who had suffered.
When they reached Richmond and their passes were examined, he hastened
to carry her bag for her and to help her off the train.  She thanked him
with a smile that made her almost handsome, and quickly disappeared in
the streets of the city.

"A nice looking old maid," he said to Dalton.

"How do you know she's an old maid?"

"I don't know.  I suppose it's a certain primness of manner."

"You can't judge by appearances.  Like as not she's been married thirty
years, and it's possible that she may have a family of at least twelve
children."

"At any rate, we'll never know.  But it's good, George, to be here in
Richmond again.  It's actually a luxury to see streets and shop windows,
and people in civilian clothing, going about their business."

"Looks the same way to me, Harry, but we can't delay.  We must be off to
the President, with the dispatches from the Army of Northern Virginia."

But they did not hurry greatly.  They were young and it had been a long
time since they had been in a city of forty thousand inhabitants, where
the shop windows were brilliant to them and nobody on the streets was
shooting at anybody else.  It was late July, the great heats were gone
for the time at least, and they were brisk and elated.  They paused a
little while in Capitol Square, and looked at the Bell Tower, rising
like a spire, from the crest of which alarms were rung, then at the fine
structure of St. Paul's Church.  They intended to go into the State
House now used as the Confederate Capitol, but that must wait until they
reported to President Davis.

They arrived at the modest building called the White House of the
Confederacy, and, after a short wait in the anteroom, they were received
by the President.  They saw a tall, rather spare man, dressed in a suit
of home-knit gray.  He received them without either warmth or coldness.
Harry, although it was not the first time he had seen him, looked at him
with intense curiosity.  Davis, like Lincoln, was born in his own State,
Kentucky, but like most other Kentuckians, he did not feel any enthusiasm
over the President of the Confederacy.  There was no magnetism.  He felt
the presence of intellect, but there was no inspiration in that arid
presence.

A man of Oriental features was sitting near with a great bunch of papers
in his hand.  Mr. Davis did not introduce Harry and Dalton to him,
and he remained silent while the President was asking questions of the
messengers.  But Harry watched him when he had a chance, interested
strongly in that shrewd, able, Eastern face, the descendant of an
immemorial and intellectual race, the man who while Secretary of State
was trying also to help carry the tremendous burden of Confederate
finance.  What was he thinking, as Harry and Dalton answered the
President's questions about the Army of Northern Virginia?

"You say that you left immediately after our army crossed the Potomac?"
asked the President.

"Yes, sir," replied Harry.  "General Meade could have attacked, but he
remained nearly two days on our front without attempting to do so."

A thin gray smile flitted over the face of the President of the
Confederacy.

"General Meade was not beaten at Gettysburg, but I fancy he remembered it
well enough."

Harry glanced at Benjamin, but his Oriental face was inscrutable.
The lad wondered what was lurking at the back of that strong brain.
He was shrewd enough himself to know that it was not always the generals
on the battlefield who best understood the condition of a state at war,
and often the man who held the purse was the one who measured it best of
all.  But Benjamin never said a word, nor did the expression of his face
change a particle.

"The Army of Northern Virginia is safe," said the President, "and it will
be able to repel all invasion of Virginia.  General Lee gives especial
mention of both of you in his letters, and you are not to return to him
at once.  You are to remain here a while on furlough, and if you will go
to General Winder he will assign you to quarters."

Both Harry and Dalton were delighted, and, although thanks were really
due to General Lee, they thanked the President, who smiled dryly.
Then they saluted and withdrew, the President and the Secretary of State
going at once into earnest consultation over the papers Mr. Benjamin had
brought.

Harry felt that he had left an atmosphere of depression and said so,
when they were outside in the bright sunshine.

"If you were trying to carry as much as Mr. Davis is carrying you'd be
depressed too," said Dalton.

"Maybe so, but let's forget it.  We've got nothing to do for a few days
but enjoy ourselves.  General Winder is to give us quarters, but we're
not to be under his command.  What say you to a little trip through the
capitol?"

"Good enough."

Congress had adjourned for the day, but they went through the building,
admiring particularly the Houdon Washington, and then strolled again
through the streets, which were so interesting and novel to them.
Richmond was never gayer and brighter.  They were sure that the hated
Yankees could never come.  For more than two years the Army of Northern
Virginia had been an insuperable bar to their advance, and it would
continue so.

Harry suddenly lifted his cap as some one passed swiftly, and Dalton
glancing backward saw a small vanishing figure.

"Who was it?" he asked.

"The thin little old maid in black whom we saw on the train.  She may
have nodded to me when I bowed, but it was such a little nod that I'm not
certain."

"I rather like your being polite to an insignificant old maid, Harry.
I'd expect you, as a matter of course, to be polite to a young and pretty
girl, overpolite probably."

"That'll do, George Dalton.  I like you best when you're preaching least.
Come, let's go into the hotel and hear what they're talking about."

After the custom of the times a large crowd was gathered in the spacious
lobby of Richmond's chief hotel.  Among them were the local celebrities
in other things than war, Daniel, Bagby, Pegram, Randolph, and a
half-dozen more, musicians, artists, poets, orators and wits.  People
were quite democratic, and Harry and Dalton were free to draw their
chairs near the edge of the group and listen.  Pegram, the humorist,
gave them a glance of approval, when he noticed their uniforms, the deep
tan of their faces, their honest eyes and their compact, strong figures.

Harry soon learned that a large number of English and French newspapers
had been brought by a blockade runner to Wilmington, North Carolina,
and had just reached the capital, the news of which these men were
discussing with eagerness.

"We learn that the sympathies of both the French and English governments
are still with us," said Randolph.

"But these papers were all printed before the news of Vicksburg and
Gettysburg had crossed the Atlantic," said Daniel.

"England is for us," said Pegram, "only because she likes us little and
the North less.  The French Imperialists, too, hate republics, and are in
for anything that will damage them.  When we beat off the North, until
she's had enough, and set up our own free and independent republic,
we'll have both England and France annoying us, and demanding favors,
because they were for us in the war.  Sympathy is something, but it
doesn't win any battles."

"A nation has no real friend except itself," said Bagby.  "Whatever the
South gets she'll have to get with her own good right arm."

"I can predict the first great measure to be put through by the Southern
Government after the war."

"What will it be?"

"The abolition of slavery."

"Why, that's one of the things we're fighting to maintain!"

"Exactly so.  You're willing to throw away a thing of your own accord,
when you're not willing to throw it away because another orders you to do
so.  Wars are due chiefly to our misunderstanding of human nature."

Then Pegram turned suddenly to Harry.  "You're from the field?" he said.
"From the Army of Northern Virginia?"

"Yes," replied Harry.  "My name is Kenton and I'm a lieutenant on the
staff of General Lee.  My friend is George Dalton, also of the commander-
in-chief's staff."

"Are you from Kentucky?" asked Daniel curiously.

"Yes, from a little town called Pendleton."

"Then I fancy that I've met a relative of yours.  I returned recently
from a small town in North Georgia, the name of which I may not give,
owing to military reasons, necessary at the present time, and I met while
I was there a splendid tall man of middle years, Colonel George Kenton
of Kentucky."

"That's my father!" said Harry eagerly.  "How was he?"

"I thought he must be your father.  The resemblance, you know.  I should
say that if all men were as healthy as he looked there would be no
doctors in the world.  He has a fine regiment and he'll be in the battle
that's breeding down there.  Grant has taken Vicksburg, as we all know,
but a powerful army of ours is left in that region.  It has to be dealt
with before we lose the West."

"And it will fight like the Army of Northern Virginia," said Harry.
"I know the men of the West.  The Yankees win there most of the time,
because we have our great generals in the East and they have theirs in
the West."

"I've had that thought myself," said Bagby.  "We've had men of genius
to lead us in the East, but we don't seem to produce them in the West.
People are always quoting Napoleon's saying that men are nothing, a man
is everything, which I never believed before, but which I'm beginning to
believe now."

Then the talk veered away from battle and back to social, literary and
artistic affairs, to all of which Harry and Dalton listened eagerly.
Both had minds that responded to the more delicate things of life,
and they were glad to hear something besides war discussed.  It was
hard for them to think that everything was going on as usual in Europe,
that new books and operas and songs were being written, and that men
and women were going about their daily affairs in peace.  Yet both were
destined to live to see the case reversed, the people of the States
setting the world an example in moderation and restraint, while the
governments of Europe were deluging that continent with blood.

"If this war should result in our defeat," said Bagby, "we won't get
a fair trial before the world for two or three generations, and maybe
never."

"Why?" asked Dalton.

"Because we're not a writing people.  Oh, yes, there's Poe, I know,
the nation's greatest literary genius, but even Europe honored him before
the South did.  We've devoted our industry and talents to politics,
oratory and war.  We don't write books, and we don't have any newspapers
that amount to much.  Why, as sure as I'm sitting here, the moment this
war is over New England and New York and Pennsylvania, particularly New
England, will begin to pour out books, telling how the wicked Southerners
brought on the war, what a cruel and low people we are, the way in which
we taught our boys, when they were strong enough, how to beat slaves to
death, and the whole world will believe them.  Maybe the next generation
of Southerners will believe them too."

"Why?" asked Harry.

"Why?  Why?  Because we don't have any writers, and won't have any for a
long time!  The writer has not been honored among us.  Any fellow with
a roaring voice who can get up on the stump and tell his audience that
they're the bravest and best and smartest people on earth is the man for
them.  You know that old story of Andy Jackson.  Somebody taunted him
with being an uneducated man, so at the close of his next speech he
thundered out: _E pluribus unum!  Multum in parvo!  Sic semper tyrannis!_
So it was all over.  Old Andy to that audience, and all the others that
heard of it, was the greatest Latin scholar in the world."

"But that may apply to the North, too," objected Harry.

"So it would.  Nevertheless they'll write this war, and they'll get their
side of it fastened on the world before our people begin to write."

"But if we win we won't care," said Randolph.  "Success speaks for
itself.  You can squirm and twist all you please, and make all the
excuses for it that you can think up, but there stands success glaring
contemptuously at you.  You're like a little boy shooting arrows at the
Sphinx."

Thus the conversation ran on.  Both Harry and Dalton were glad to be
in the company of these men, and to feel that there was something in
the world besides war.  All the multifarious interests of peace and
civilization suddenly came crowding back upon them.  Harry remembered
Pendleton with its rolling hills, green fields, and clear streams,
and Dalton remembered his own home, much like it, in the Valley of
Virginia, not so far away.

"Do you remain long in Richmond?" asked Randolph.

"A week at least," replied Harry.

"Then you ought to see a little of social life.  Mrs. John Curtis,
a leading hostess, gives a reception and a dance to-morrow night.
I can easily procure invitations for both of you, and I know that she
would be glad to have two young officers freshly arrived from our
glorious Army of Northern Virginia."

"But our clothes!" said Dalton.  "We have only a change of uniform apiece,
and they're not fresh by any means."

All the men laughed.

"You don't think that Richmond is indulging in gorgeous apparel do you?"
said Daniel.  "We never manufactured much ourselves, and since all the
rest of the world is cut off from us where are the clothes to come from
even for the women?  Brush up your uniforms all you can and you'll be
more than welcome.  Two gallant young officers from the Army of Northern
Virginia!  Why, you'll be two Othellos, though white, of course."

Harry glanced at Dalton, and Dalton glanced at Harry.  Each saw that the
other wanted to go, and Daniel, watching them, smiled.

"I see that you'll come," he said, "and so it's settled.  Have you
quarters yet?"

"Not yet," replied Harry, "but we'll see about it this afternoon."

"I'll have the invitations sent to you here at this hotel.  All of us
will be there, and we'll see that you two meet everybody."

Both thanked him profusely.  They were about to go, thinking it time to
report to General Winder, when Harry noticed a thin woman in a black
dress, carrying a large basket, and just leaving the hotel desk.  He
caught a glimpse of her face and he knew that it was the old maid of the
train.  Then something else was impressed upon his mind, something which
he had not noticed at their first meeting, but which came to him at their
second.  He had seen a face like hers before, but the resemblance was
so faint and fleeting that he could not place it, strive as he would.
But he was sure that it was there.

"Who is that woman?" he asked.

Daniel shook his head and so did Randolph, but Bagby spoke up.

"Her name is Henrietta Carden," he said, "and she's a seamstress.
I've seen her coming to the hotel often before, bringing new clothes to
the women guests, or taking away old ones to be repaired.  I believe that
the ladies account her most skillful.  It's likely that she'll be at
the Curtis house, in a surgical capacity, to-morrow night, as a quick
repairer of damaged garments, those fine linen and silk and lace affairs
that we don't know anything about.  Mrs. Curtis relies greatly upon her
and I ought to tell you, young gentlemen, that Mr. Curtis is a most
successful blockade runner, though he takes no personal risk himself.
The Curtis house is perhaps the most sumptuous in Richmond.  You'll see
no signs of poverty there, though, as I told you, officers in old and
faded clothes are welcome."

Harry saw Henrietta Carden carrying the large basket of clothes, go out
at a side door, and he felt as if a black shadow like a menace had passed
across the floor.  But it was only for an instant.  He dismissed it
promptly, as one of those thoughts that come out of nothing, like idle
puffs of summer air.  He and Dalton bade a brief farewell to their new
friends and left for the headquarters of General Winder.  An elderly and
childless couple named Lanham had volunteered to take two officers in
their house near Capitol Square, and there Harry and Dalton were sent.

They could not have found a better place.  Mr. and Mrs. Lanham were quiet
people, who gave them an excellent room and a fine supper.  Mrs. Lanham
showed a motherly solicitude, and when she heard that they were going to
the Curtis ball on the following night she demanded that their spare and
best uniforms be turned over to her.

"I can make them look fresh," she insisted, "and your appearance must be
the finest possible.  No, don't refuse again.  It's a pleasure to me to
do it.  When I look at you two, so young and strong and so honest in
manner and speech, I wish that I had sons too, and then again I'm glad I
have not."

"Why not, Mrs. Lanham?" asked Harry.

"Because I'd be in deadly fear lest I lose them.  They'd go to the war--
I couldn't help it--and they'd surely be killed."

"We won't grieve over losing what we've never had," smiled Mr. Lanham.
"That's morbid."

Harry and Dalton did their best to answer all the questions of their
hosts, who they knew would take no pay.  The interest of both Mr. and
Mrs. Lanham was increased when they found that their young guests were on
the staff of General Lee and before that had been on the staff of the
great Stonewall Jackson.  These two names were mighty in the South,
untouched by any kind of malice or envy, and with legends to cluster
around them as the years passed.

"And you really saw Stonewall Jackson every day!" said Mrs. Lanham.
"You rode with him, talked with him, and went into battle with him?"

"I was in all his campaigns, Mrs. Lanham," replied Harry, modestly,
but not without pride.  "I was with him in every battle, even to the last,
Chancellorsville.  I was one of those who sheltered him from the shells,
when he was shot by our own men.  Alas! what an awful mistake.  I--"

He stopped suddenly.  He had choked with emotion, and the tears came into
his eyes.  Mrs. Lanham saw, and, understanding, she quickly changed the
subject to Lee.  They talked a while after supper, called dinner now,
and then they went up to their room on the second floor.

It was a handsome room, containing good furniture, including two single
beds.  Their baggage had preceded them and everything was in order.
Two large windows, open to admit the fresh air, looked out over Richmond.
On a table stood a pitcher of ice water and glasses.

"Our lot has certainly been cast in a pleasant place," said Dalton,
taking a chair by one of the windows.

"You're right," said Harry, sitting in the chair by the other window.
"The Lanhams are fine people, and it's a good house.  This is luxury,
isn't it, George, old man?"

"The real article.  We seem to be having luck all around.  And we're
going to a big ball to-morrow night, too.  Who'd have thought such a
thing possible a week ago?"

"And we've made friends who'll see that we're not neglected."

"It's an absolute fact that we've become the favorite children of
fortune."

"No earthly doubt of it."

Then ensued a silence, broken at length by a scraping sound as each moved
his chair a little nearer to the window.

"Close, George," said Harry at length.

"Yes, a bit hard to breathe."

"When fellows get used to a thing it's hard to change."

"Fine room, though, and those are splendid beds."

"Great on a winter night."

"You've noticed how the commander-in-chief himself seldom sleeps under a
tent, but takes his blankets to the open?"

"Wonder how an Indian who has roamed the forest all his life feels when
he's shut up between four walls for the first time."

"Fancy it's like a prison cell to him."

"Think so too.  But the Lanhams are fine people and they're doing their
best for us."

"Do you think they'd be offended if I were to take my blankets, and sleep
on the grass in the back yard?"

"Of course they would.  You mustn't think of such a thing.  After this
war is over you've got to emerge slowly from barbarism.  Do you remember
whether at supper we cut our food with our knives and lifted it to our
mouths with forks, or just tore and lifted with our fingers?"

"We used knife and fork, each in its proper place.  I happened to think
of it and watched myself.  You, I suppose, did it through the force of an
ancient habit, recalled by civilized surroundings."

"I'm glad you remember about it.  Now I'm going to bed, and maybe I'll
sleep.  I suppose there's no hope of seeing the stars through the roof."

"None on earth!  But my bed is fine and soft.  We'd be all right if
we could only lift the roof off the house.  I'd like to hear the wind
rubbing the boughs together."

"Stop it!  You make me homesick!  We've got no right to be pining for
blankets and the open, when these good people are doing so much for us!"

Each stretched himself upon his bed, and closed his eyes.  They had not
been jesting altogether.  So long a life in the open made summer skies
at night welcome, and roofs and walls almost took from them the power of
breathing.

But the feeling wore away after a while and amid pleasurable thoughts of
the coming ball both fell asleep.




CHAPTER X

THE MISSING PAPER


Harry and Dalton did not awake until late the next morning and they found
they had not suffered at all from sleeping between four walls and under a
roof.  Their lungs were full of fresh air, and youth with all its joyous
irresponsibility had come back.  Harry sprang out of bed.

"Up! up! old boy!"  Harry cried to Dalton.  "Don't you hear the bugles
calling? not to battle but to pleasure!  There is no enemy in our front!
We don't have to cross a river with an overwhelming army pressing down
upon us!  We don't have to ride before the dawn on a scout which may
lead us into a thicket full of hostile riflemen.  We're in a city, boy,
and our business now is beauty and pleasure!"

"Harry," said Dalton, "you ought to go far."

"Why, George?  What induces you to assume the role of a prophet
concerning me?"

"Because you're so full of life.  You're so keen about everything.
You must have a heart and lungs of extra steam power."

"But I notice you don't say anything about brain power.  Maybe you think
it's the quiet, rather silent fellows like yourself, George, who have an
excess of that."

"None of your irony.  Am I not looking forward to this ball as much as
you are?  I was a boy when I entered the war, Harry, but two years of
fighting day and night age one terribly.  I feel as if I could patronize
any woman under twenty-five, and treat her as quite a simple young thing."

"Try it, George, and see what happens to you."

"Oh, no!  I merely said I felt that way.  I've too much sense to put it
into action."

"Do you know, George, that when this war is over it will be really time
for us to be thinking about girls.  We'll be quite old enough.  They say
that many of the Yankee maidens in Philadelphia and New York are fine
for looks.  I wonder if they'll cast a favoring eye on young Southern
officers as our conquering armies go marching down their streets!"

"It's too remote.  Don't think about it, Harry.  Richmond will do us for
the present."

"But you can let a fellow project his mind into the future."

"Not so far that we'll be marching as conquerors through Philadelphia and
New York.  Let's deal with realities."

"I've always thought there was something of the Yankee about you, George,
not in political principles--I never question your devotion to the cause--
but in calculating, weighing everything and deciding in favor of the one
that weighs an ounce the most."

"Are you about through dressing?  You've taken a minute longer than the
regular time."

There was a knock at the door, and, when Dalton opened it a few inches,
a black head announced through the crack that breakfast was ready.

"See what a disgrace you're bringing upon us," said Dalton.  "Delaying
everything.  Mrs. Lanham will say that we're two impostors, that such
malingerers cannot possibly belong to the Army of Northern Virginia."

"Lead on," said Harry.  "I'm ready, and I'm hungry as every soldier in
the Southern army always is."

They had a warm greeting from their hospitable hosts, followed by an
abundant breakfast.  Then at Mrs. Lanham's earnest solicitation they
turned over their dress uniforms to her to be repaired and pressed.
Then they went out into the streets again, and spent the whole day
rambling about, enjoying everything with the keen and intense delight
that can come only to the young, and after long abstinence.  Richmond was
not depressed.  Far from it.  There had been a wonderful transformation
since those dark days when the army of McClellan was near enough to see
the spires of its churches.  The flood of battle had rolled far away
since then, and it had never come back.  It could never come back.
It was true that the Army of Northern Virginia had failed at Gettysburg,
but it was returning to the South unassailed, and was ready to repeat its
former splendid achievements.

Harry went to the post office, and found there, to his great surprise
and delight, a letter from his father, written three or four days after
Vicksburg.


My dear son: [he wrote]

The news has just come to us that the Army of Northern Virginia, while
performing prodigies of valor, has failed to carry all the Northern
positions at Gettysburg.  Only complete success could warrant a further
advance.  I assume therefore that General Lee is retreating and I assume
also that you, Harry, my beloved son, are alive, that you came unharmed
out of that terrible battle.  It does not seem possible to me that it
could be otherwise.  I cannot conceive of you fallen.  It may be that
it's because you are my son.  The sons of others may fall, but not mine,
just as we know that all others are doomed to die, but get into the habit
of thinking ourselves immortal.  So, I address this letter to you in the
full belief that it will reach you somewhere, and that you will read it.

You know, of course, of our great loss at Vicksburg.  It is disastrous
but not irreparable.  We still have a powerful army in the West, hardy,
indomitable, one with which the enemy will have to reckon.  As for myself
I have been spared in many battles and I am well.  It seems the sport of
chance that you and I, while fighting on the same side, should have been
separated in this war, you in the East and I in the West.  But it has
been done by One who knows best, and after all I am glad that you have
been in such close contact with two of the greatest and highest-minded
soldiers of the ages, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.  I do not
think of them merely as soldiers, but as knights and champions with
flaming swords.  One of them, alas! is gone, but we have the other,
and if man can conquer he will.  Here in the West we repose our faith in
Lee, as surely as do you in the East, you who see his face and hear his
voice every day.

I have had two or three letters from Pendleton.  That part of the State
is for the present outside the area of conflict, though I hear that the
guerilla bands to the east in the mountains still vex and annoy, and
that Skelly is growing bolder.  I foresee the time when we shall have to
reckon with this man, who is a mere brigand.

I hear that the prospects for fruit in our orchards were never finer.
You will remember how you prowled in them when you were a little boy,
Harry, and what a pirate you were among the apples and peaches and pears
and good things that grew on tree and bush and briar in that beautiful
old commonwealth of ours.  I often upbraided you then, but I should like
to see you now, far out on a bough as of old, reaching for a big yellow
pear, or a red, red bunch of cherries!  Alas! there are many lads who
will never return, who will never see the pear trees and the cherry trees
again, but I repeat I cannot feel that you will be among them.  Who would
ever have dreamed when this war began that it could go so far?  More than
two years of fierce and deadly battles and I can see no end.  A deadlock
and neither side willing to yield!  How glad would be the men who made
the war to see both sections back where they were two and a half years
ago! and that's no treason.


Water rose in Harry's eyes.  He knew how terribly his father's heart
had been torn by the quarrel between North and South, and that he had
thoughts which he did not tell to his son.  Harry was beginning at last
to think some of the same thoughts himself.  If the South succeeded, then,
after the war, what?  Another war later on or reunion.

The rest of the letter was wholly personal, and in the end it directed
Harry, when writing to him, to address his letters care of the Western
Army under General Bragg.  Harry was moved and he responded at once.
He went to the hotel in which he had met the young men who constituted
the leading lights in what was called the Mosaic Club, and, securing
writing materials, made a long reply, which he posted with every hope
that it would soon reach its destination.

Early in the evening he rejoined Dalton at the house of the Lanhams and
they found that Mrs. Lanham had done wonders with their best uniforms.
When they were dressed in them they felt that it was no harder to charge
the Curtis house than to rush a battery.

"You young men go early," said Mr. Lanham.  "Mrs. Lanham and I will
appear later."

They departed, daring to practice their dance steps in the street to the
delight of small boys who did not hesitate to chaff them.  But Harry
and Dalton did not care.  They answered the chaff in kind, and soon
approached the Curtis home, all the windows of which were blazing with
light.

The house stood in extensive grounds, and lofty white pillars gave it an
imposing appearance.  Guests were arriving fast.  Most of the men were
military, but there was a fair sprinkling of civilians nevertheless.
The lads saw their friends of the Mosaic Club pass in just ahead of them,
all dressed with extreme care.  Generals and colonels and other officers
were in most favor now, but these men, with their swift and incisive wit
and their ability to talk well about everything, fully made up for the
lack of uniform.

Harry and Dalton, before passing through the side gateway that led to the
house, paused awhile to look at those who came.  Many people, and they
ranked among the best in Richmond, walked.  They had sent all their
horses to the front long ago to be ridden by cavalrymen or to draw
cannon.  Others, not so self-sacrificing, came in heavy carriages with
negroes driving.

Harry noticed that in many cases the clothing of the men showed a little
white at the seams, and there were cuffs the ends of which had been
trimmed with great care.  But it was these whom he respected most.
He remembered that Virginia had not really wanted to go into the war,
and that she had delayed long, but, being in it, she was making supreme
sacrifices.

And there were many young girls who did not need elaborate dress.
In their simple white or pink, often but cotton, their cheeks showing the
delicate color that is possessed only by the girls in the border states
of the South, they seemed very beautiful to Harry and George, who had
known nothing but camps and armies so long.

It was the healthy admiration of the brave youth of one sex for the fair
youth of the other, but there was in it a deeper note, too.  Age can
stand misfortune.  Youth wonders why it is stricken, and Harry felt as
they passed by, bright of face and soft of voice, that the clouds were
gathering heavily over them.

But he was too young himself for the feeling to endure long.  Dalton was
proposing that they go in and they promptly joined the stream of entering
guests.  Randolph soon found them and presented them to Mrs. Curtis,
a large woman of middle years, and dignified manner, related to nearly
all the old families of Virginia, and a descendant of a collateral branch
of the Washingtons.  Her husband, William Curtis, seemed to be of a
different type, a man of sixty, tall, thin and more reserved than most
Southerners of his time.  His thin lips were usually compressed and his
pale blue eyes were lacking in warmth.  But the long strong line of his
jaw showed that he was a man of strength and decision.

"A Northern bough on a Southern tree," whispered Dalton, as they passed
on.  "He comes from some place up the valley and they say that the North
itself has not his superior in financial skill."

"I did not warm to him at first," said Harry, "but I respect him.
As you know, George, we've put too little stress upon his kind of
ability.  We'll need him and more like him when the Confederacy is
established.  We'll have to build ourselves up as a great power, and
that's done by trade and manufactures more than by arms."

"It's so, Harry.  But listen to that music!"

A band of four pieces placed behind flowers and shrubbery was playing.
Here was no blare of trumpets or call of bugles.  It was the music of the
dance and the sentimental old songs of the South, nearly all of which had
a sad and wailing note.  Harry heard the four black men play the songs
that he had heard Samuel Jarvis sing, deep in the Kentucky mountains,
and his heart beat with an emotion that he could not understand.  Was
it a cry for peace?  Did his soul tell him that an end should come to
fighting?  Then throbbed the music of the lines:

  Soft o'er the fountain lingering falls the Southern moon
  Far o'er the mountain breaks the day too soon.
  In thy dark eyes' splendor, where the moonlight loves to dwell
  Weary looks, yet tender, speak their fond farewell.
    Nita, Juanita!  Ask thy soul if we should part,
    Nita, Juanita!  Lean thou on my heart!

The music of the sad old song throbbed and throbbed, and sank deep into
Harry's heart.  At another time he might not have been stirred, but at
this moment he was responsive in every fiber.  He saw once more the green
wilderness, and he heard once more the mellow tones of the singer coming
back in far echoes from the gorges.

"Nita, Juanita!  Ask thy soul if we should part," hummed Dalton, but
Harry was still far away in the green wilderness, listening to the singer
of the mountains.  Then the singer stopped suddenly, and he was listening
once more to the startling prediction of the old, old woman:

"I am proud that our house has sheltered you, but it is not for the last
time.  You will come again, and you will be thin and pale and in rags,
and you will fall at the door.  I see you coming with these two eyes of
mine."

That prediction had been made a long time ago, years since, it seemed,
but whenever it returned to him, and it returned at most unexpected times,
it lost nothing of its amazing vividness and power; rather they were
increased.  Could it be true that the supremely old had a vision or
second sight?  Then he rebuked himself angrily.  There was nothing
supernatural in this world.

"Wake up, Harry!  What are you thinking about?" whispered Dalton sharply.
"You seem to be dreaming, and here's a house full of pretty girls,
with more than a half-dozen looking at you, the gallant young officer of
the Army of Northern Virginia, the story of whose romantic exploits had
already reached Richmond."

"I was dreaming and I apologize," said Harry.  That minute in which he
had seen so much, so far away, passed utterly, and in another minute both
he and Dalton were dancing with Virginia girls, as fair as dreams to
these two, who had looked so long only upon the tanned faces of soldiers.

Both he and Dalton were at home in a half-hour.  People in the Old South
then, as in the New South now, are closely united by ties of kinship
which are acknowledged as far as they run.  One is usually a member of a
huge clan and has all the privileges that clanship can confer.  Kentucky
was the daughter of Virginia, and mother and daughter were fond of each
other, as they are to-day.

After the third dance Harry was sitting with Rosamond Lawrence of
Petersburg in a window seat.  She was a slender blonde girl, and the
dancing had made the pink in her cheeks deepen into a flush.

"You're from Kentucky, I know," said Miss Lawrence, "but you haven't yet
told me your town."

"Pendleton.  It's small but it's on the map.  My father is a colonel in
the Western army."

"Aren't you a Virginian by blood?  Most all Kentuckians are."

"Partly.  My great grandfather, though, was born in Maryland."

"What was his name, Lieutenant Kenton?"

"Henry Ware!"

"Henry Ware!  Kentucky's first and greatest governor."

"Yes, he was my great grandfather.  I'm proud to be his descendant."

"I should think you would be."

"But his wife, who was Lucy Upton, my great grandmother, was of Virginia
blood, and all of the next two generations intermarried with people of
Virginia stock."

"Then you are a Kentuckian and a Virginian, too.  I knew it!  You have a
middle name, haven't you?"

"Yes."

"Will you tell me what it is?"

"Cary."

The girl laughed.

"Harry Cary Kenton.  Why Cary is one of our best old Virginia names.
Will you tell me too what was your mother's name before she was married?"

"Parham."

"Another.  Oh, all this unravels finely.  And what was your grandmother's
name?"

"Brent."

"Nothing could be more Virginian than Brent.  Oh, you're one of us,
Lieutenant Kenton, a real Virginian of the true blood."

"And heart and soul too!" giving her one of his finest young military
glances.

She laughed.  It was only quick friendship between them and no more,
and a half-hour later he was dancing with another Virginia girl, not
so blonde, but just as handsome, and their talk was quite as friendly.
Her name was Lockridge, and as they sat down near the musicians to rest,
and listen a while, Harry saw a figure, slender and black-robed, pass.
He knew at once who she was, and it had been predicted that he might meet
her there, but she had stirred his curiosity a little, and thinking he
might obtain further information he asked Miss Lockridge:

"Who is the woman who just passed us?"

"That's Miss Carden, Miss Henrietta Carden, a sewing woman, very capable
too, who always helps at the big balls.  Mrs. Curtis relies greatly upon
her.  The door through which she went leads to the ladies' dressing-room."

"A native of Richmond?"

"I don't know.  But why are you so curious about a sewing woman,
Lieutenant Kenton?"

Harry flushed.  There was a faint tinge of rebuke in her words, and he
knew that he merited it.

"It was just an idle question," he replied quickly, and with an air of
indifference.  "I noticed her on the train when we came into the capital,
and we are so little used to women that we are inquisitive about every
one whom we see.  Why, Miss Lockridge, I didn't realize until I came to
this ball that women could be so extraordinarily beautiful.  Every one of
you looks like an angel, just lowered gently from Heaven."

"If you're not merely a flatterer then it's long absence that gives
charm.  I assure you, Lieutenant Kenton, that we're very, very common
clay.  You should see us eat."

"I'll get you an ice at once."

"Oh, I don't mean that.  I mean substantial things!"

"A healthy appetite doesn't keep a girl from being an angel."

"When men marry us they find out that we're not angels."

"The word 'angel' is with me merely a figure of speech.  I don't want any
real angel.  I want my wife, if I ever marry, to be thoroughly human."

Harry's progress was rapid.  A handsome figure and face, and an ingenuous
manner made him a favorite.  After midnight he wandered into a room where
older men were smoking and talking.  They were mostly officers, some of
high rank, one a general, and they talked of that which they could never
get wholly from their minds, the war.  All knew Harry, and, as he wanted
fresh air, they gave him a place by a window which looked upon a small
court.

Harry was tired.  In dancing he had been compelled to bring into play
muscles long unused, and he luxuriated in the cushioned chair, while the
pleasant night breeze blew upon him.  They were discussing Lee's probable
plans to meet Meade, who would certainly follow him in time across
the Potomac.  They spoke with weight and authority, because they were
experienced men who had been in many battles, and they were here on
furlough, most of them recovering from wounds.

Harry heard them, but their words were like the flowing of a river.
He paid no heed.  They did not bring the war back to him.  He was
thinking of the music and of the brilliant faces of the girls whom he
loved collectively.  What that Lawrence girl had said was true.  He was a
Virginian as well as a Kentuckian, and the Kentuckians and Virginians
were all one big family.  All those pretty Virginia girls were his
cousins.  It might run to the thirty-second degree, but they were his
cousins just the same, and he would claim them with confidence.

He smiled and his eyelids drooped a little.  It was rather dark outside,
and he was looking directly into the court in which rosebushes and tall
flowering plants grew.  A shadow passed.  He did not see whence it came
or went, but he sat up and laughed at himself for dozing and conjuring up
phantoms when he was at his first real ball in ages.

All the civilians had gone out and only five or six of the officers,
the most important, were left.  Their talk had grown more eager, and on
the center of the table around which they sat lay a large piece of white
canvas upon which they were drawing a map expressing their collective
opinion.  Every detail was agreed upon, after much discussion, and Harry,
as much interested as they, began to watch, while the lines grew upon the
canvas.  He ventured no opinion, being so much younger than the others.

"We don't know, of course, exactly what General Lee will do," said a
colonel, "but we do know that he's always dangerous.  He invariably acts
on the offensive, even if he's retreating.  I should think that he'd
strike Meade about here."

"Not there, but not far from it," said the general.  "Make a dot at that
point, Bathurst, and make another dot here about twenty miles to the east,
which represents my opinion."

Bathurst made the dots and the men, wholly absorbed, bent lower over
their plans, which were growing almost unconsciously into a map, and a
good one too.  Harry was as much interested as they, and he still kept
himself in the background, owing to his youth and minor rank.

The door to the room was open a little and the music, a waltz, came in
a soft ripple from the drawing room.  It was rhythmic and languorous,
and Harry's feet would have moved to its tune at any other time, but he
was too deeply absorbed in the conjectures and certainties that they were
drawing with their pencils on the white canvas.

Many of the details, he knew, were absolutely true, and others he was
quite sure must be true, because these were men of high rank who carried
in their minds the military secrets of the Confederacy.

"I think we're pretty well agreed on the general nature of the plan,"
said Bathurst.  "We differ only in details."

"That's so," said the general, "but we're lingering too long here.
God knows that we see little enough of our women folks, and, when we have
the chance to see them, and feel the touch of their hands, we waste our
time like a lot of fools making military guesses.  If I'm not too old
to dance to the tune of the shells I'm not too old to dance to the tune
of the fiddle and the bow.  That's a glorious air floating in from the
ballroom.  I think I can show some of these youngsters like Kenton here
how to shake a foot."

"After you, General," laughed Bathurst.  "We know your capacity on both
the field and the floor, and how you respond to the shell and the bow.
Come on!  The ballroom is calling to us, and I doubt whether we'll
explain to the satisfaction of everybody why we've been away from it so
long.  You, too, Harry!"

They rose in a group and went out hastily.  Harry was last, and his hand
was on the bolt of the door, preparatory to closing it, when the general
turned to Bathurst and said:

"You've that diagram of ours, haven't you, Bathurst?  It's not a thing to
be left lying loose."

"Why, no, sir, I thought you put it in your pocket."

The general laughed.

"You're suffering from astigmatism, Bathurst," he said.  "Doubtless it
was Colton whom you saw stowing it away.  I think we'd better tear it
into little bits as we have no further use for it."

"But I haven't it, sir," said Colton, a veteran colonel, just recovering
from a wound in the arm.  "I supposed of course that one of the others
took it."

An uneasy look appeared in the general's eyes, but it passed in an
instant.

"You have it, Morton?"

"No, sir.  Like Bathurst I thought one of the others took it."

"And you, Kitteridge?"

"I did not take it, sir."

"You surely have it, Johnson?"

"No, sir, I was under the impression that you had taken it away with you."

"And you, McCurdy?"

McCurdy shook his head.

"Then Kenton, as you were the last to rise, you certainly have it."

"I was just a looker-on; I did not touch it," said Harry, whose hand was
still on the bolt of the partly opened door.

The general laughed.

"Another case of everybody expecting somebody else to do a thing, and
nobody doing it," he said.  "Kenton, go back and take it from the table.
In our absorption we've been singularly forgetful, and that plan must be
destroyed at once."

Harry reentered the room, and in their eagerness all of the officers
followed.  Then a simultaneous "Ah!" of dismay burst from them all.
There was nothing on the table.  The plan was gone.  They looked at one
another, and in the eyes of every one apprehension was growing.

"The window is partly open," said the general, affecting a laugh,
although it had an uneasy note, "and of course it has blown off the
table.  We'll surely find it behind the sofa or a chair."

They searched the room eagerly, going over every inch of space, every
possible hiding place, but the plan was not there.

"Perhaps it's in the court," said the general.  "It might have fluttered
out there.  Raise the sash higher, Kenton.  Let nobody make any noise.
We must be as quiet as possible about this.  Luckily there's enough
moonlight now for us to find even a small scrap of paper in the court."

They stole through the window silently, one by one, and searched every
inch of the court's space.  But nothing was in it, save the grass and the
flowers and the rosebushes that belonged there.  They returned to the
room, and once more looked at one another in dismay.

"Shut the window entirely and lock the door, Kenton," said the general.

Harry did so.  Then the general looked at them all, and his face was set
and very firm.

"We must all be searched," he said.  "I know that every one of you is the
soul of honor.  I know that not one of you has concealed about his person
this document which has suddenly become so valuable.  I know that not
one of you would smuggle through to the enemy such a plan at any price,
no matter how large.  Nevertheless we must know beyond the shadow of a
doubt that none of us has the map.  And I insist, too, that I be searched
first.  Bathurst, Colton, begin!"

They examined one another carefully in turn.  Every pocket or possible
place of concealment was searched.  Harry was the last and when they were
done with him the general heaved a huge sigh of relief.

"We know positively that we are not guilty," he said.  "We knew it before,
but now we've proved it.  That is off our minds, but the mystery of
the missing map remains.  What a strange combination of circumstances.
I think, gentlemen, that we had best say nothing about it to outsiders.
It's certainly to the interest of every one of us not to do so.  It's
also to the interest of all of us to watch the best we can for a
solution.  You're young, Kenton, but from what I hear of you you're able
to keep your own counsel."

"You can trust me, sir," said Harry.

"I know it, and now unlock the door.  We've held ourselves prisoners long
enough, and they'll be wondering about us in the ballroom."

Harry turned the key promptly enough and he was glad to escape from the
room.  He felt that he had left behind a sinister atmosphere.  He had not
mentioned to the older men the faint shadow that he thought he had seen
crossing the courtyard.  But then it was only fancy, nothing more,
an idle figment of the brain!  There was the music now, softer and more
tempting than ever, an irresistible call to flying feet, and another
dance with Rosamond Lawrence was due.

"I thought you weren't coming, Lieutenant Kenton," she said.  "Some one
said that you had gone into the smoking-room and that you were talking
war with middle-aged generals and colonels."

"But I escaped as soon as I could, Miss Rosamond," he said--he was
thinking of the locked door and the universal search.

"Well, you came just in time.  The band is beginning and I was about to
give your dance to that good-looking Lieutenant Dalton."

"You wouldn't treat me like that!  Throw over your cousin in such a
manner!  I can't think it!"

"No, I wouldn't!"

Then the full swell of the music caught them both, and they glided away,
as light and swift as the melody that bore them on.




CHAPTER XI

A VAIN PURSUIT


Youth was strong in Harry, and, while he danced and the music played,
he forgot all about the incident in the smoking-room.  With him it was
just one pretty girl after another.  He had heart enough for them all,
and only one who was so young and who had been so long on battlefields
could well understand what a keen, even poignant, pleasure it was to be
with them.

Those were the days when a ball lasted long.  Pleasures did not come
often, but when they came they were to be enjoyed to the full.  But as
the morning hours grew the manner of the older people became slightly
feverish and unnatural.  They were pursuing pleasure and forgetfulness
with so much zeal and energy that it bore the aspect of force rather than
spontaneity.  Harry noticed it and divined the cause.  Beneath his high
spirits he now felt it himself.  It was that looming shadow in the North
and that other in that far Southwest hovering over lost Vicksburg.
Serious men and serious women could not keep these shadows from their
eyes long.

The incident of the smoking-room and the missing map came back to him
with renewed force.  It could not have walked away.  They had searched
the room and the court so thoroughly that they would have found it,
had it been there.  The disappearance of a document, which men of
authority and knowledge had built up almost unconsciously, puzzled and
alarmed him.

It was almost day when he and Dalton left.  They paid their respects
to Mr. and Mrs. Curtis, and said many good-bys to "the girls they left
behind them."  Then they went out into the street, and inhaled great
draughts of the cool night air.

"A splendid night," said Dalton.

"Yes, truly," said Harry.

"I hope you didn't propose to more than six girls."

"To none.  But I love them all together."

"I'm glad to hear it, because you're entirely too young to marry, and
your occupation is precarious."

"You needn't be so preachy.  You're not more'n a hundred years old
yourself."

"But I'm two months older than you are and often two months makes a
vast difference, particularly in our cases.  I notice about you, Harry,
at times, a certain juvenility which I feel it my duty to repress."

"Don't do it, George.  Let's enjoy it while we can, because as you say my
occupation is precarious and yours is the same."

They stopped at the corner of the iron fence enclosing the Curtis home,
in which many lights were still shining.  It was near a dark alley
opening on the street and running by this side of the house.

"I'm going to see what's behind Mr. Curtis's house," said Harry.

Dalton stared at him.

"What's got into your head, Harry!" he exclaimed.  "Do you mean to be a
burglar prowling about the home of the man who has entertained you?"

Harry hesitated.  He was sorry that Dalton was with him.  Then he could
have gone on without question, but he must make some excuse to Dalton.

"George," he said at last, "will you swear to keep a secret, a most
important one which I am pledged to tell to nobody, but which I must
confide in you in order to give a good reason for what I am about to do."

"If you are pledged to keep such a secret," replied Dalton, "then don't
explain it to me.  Your word is good enough, Harry.  Go ahead and do what
you want to do.  I'll ask nothing about any of your actions, no matter
how strange it may look."

"You're a man in a million, George.  Come on, your confidence is going to
be tested.  Besides, you'll run the danger of being shot."

But Dalton followed him fearlessly as he led the way down the alley.
Richmond was not lighted then, save along the main streets, and a few
steps took them into the full dark.  The brilliant windows threw bright
bands across the lines, but they themselves were in darkness.

The alley ran through the next street and so did the Curtis grounds.
They were as extensive in the rear of the house as in front, and
contained small pines carefully trimmed, banks of roses and two grape
arbors.  Harry could hear no sound of any one stirring among them,
but people, obviously the cooks and other servants, were talking in the
big kitchen at the rear of the house.

The street itself running in the rear of the building was as well lighted
as it was in front, but Harry saw no one in it save a member of the city
police, who seemed to be keeping a good watch.  But as he did not wish to
be observed by the man he waited a little while in the mouth of the alley,
until he had moved on and was out of sight.

"Now, George," he said, "you and I are going to do a little scouting.
You know I'm descended from the greatest natural scout and trailer ever
known in the West, one whose senses were preternaturally acute, one who
could almost track a bird in the air by its flight."

"Yes, I've heard of the renowned Henry Ware, and I know that you've
inherited a lot of his skill and intuition.  Go ahead.  I promised that
I would help you and ask no questions.  I keep my word."

Harry climbed silently over the low fence, and Dalton followed in the
same manner.  The light from the street and house did not penetrate the
pines and rosebushes, where Harry quickly found a refuge, Dalton as usual
following him.

"What next?" whispered Dalton.

"Now, I do my trailing and scouting, and you help me all you can, George,
but be sure you don't make any noise.  There's enough moonlight filtering
through the pines to show the ground to me, but not enough to disclose us
to anybody twenty feet away."

He dropped to his hands and knees, and, crawling back and forth, began to
examine every inch of ground with minute care, while Dalton stared at him
in amazement.

"I'd help," whispered Dalton, "if I only knew what you were doing."

"Suppose, George, that somebody wanted to see the Curtis house, and yet
not be seen, wanted to observe as well as he could, without detection,
what was going on there.  He'd watch his chance, jump over the fence as
we have done and enter this group of pines.  He could ask no finer point
of observation.  We are perfectly hidden and yet we can see the whole
rear of the house and one side of it."

"So we can.  I infer that you are looking for some one who you think has
been acting as a spy."

"Ah! here we are.  The earth is a bit soft by this pine, and I see the
trace of a footstep!  And here is another trace, close by it, undoubtedly
the imprint of the other foot.  It's as plain as day."

Dalton knelt, looked at the traces, and shook his head.  "I can't make
out any of them," he said.  "I see nothing but a slight displacement of
the grass caused by the wind."

"That's because you haven't my keen eye, an inherited and natural ability
as a trailer, although you may beat me out of sight in other things.
The shape of these traces indicates that they were made by human feet,
and their closeness together shows that the man stood looking at the
house.  If he had been walking along they would be much wider apart."

He examined the traces again with long and minute care.

"The toes point toward the house, consequently he was looking at it,"
he said.  "He was a heavy man, and he stood here a long time, not moving
from his tracks.  That's why he left these traces, which are so clear and
evident to me, George, although they're hidden from a blind man like you."

"Well, what of it?"

"Nothing much to you, but a lot to me."

He rose to his feet and examined the boughs of the pine.

"As I thought," he whispered with great satisfaction.  "Despite his
courage and power over himself, both of which were very great, he became
a little excited.  Doubtless he saw something that stirred him deeply."

"What under the stars are you talking about, Harry?"

"See, he broke off three twigs of the pine.  Just snapped them in two
with nervous fingers.  Here are pieces lying on the ground.  Now, a man
does that sort of thing almost unconsciously.  He will not reach up for
the twig or down for it, but he breaks it because it presents itself to
him at the corner of his eye.  This man was six feet in height or more
and built very powerfully.  I think I know him!  Yes, I'm sure I know
him!  Nor is it at all strange that he should be here."

"Shall we make a thorough search for him among the pines?  You say he's
tall and built powerfully.  But maybe the two of us could master him,
and if not we could call for help."

"Too late, George.  He left a long time ago, and he took with him what he
wanted.  We needn't look any farther."

"Lead on, then, King of Trailers and Master of Secrets!  If the mighty
Caliph, Haroun al Kenton, wishes to prowl in these grounds, seeking the
heart of some great conspiracy, it is not for his loyal vizier, the
Sheikh Ul Dalton to ask him questions."

"I'm not certain that a vizier is a sheikh."

"Nor am I, but I'm certain that I want to go home and go to bed.  Vikings
of the land like ourselves can't stand much luxury.  It weakens the
tissues, made strong on the march and in the fields."

They left the grounds silently and unobserved and soon were in their own
quarters, where they slept nearly the whole day.  Then they spent three
or four days more in the social affairs which were such a keen pleasure
to them after such a long deprivation.  But wherever they went, and they
were in demand everywhere, Harry was always looking for somebody, a man,
tall, heavy and broad shouldered, not a man who would come into a room
where he was, or who would join a company of people that he had joined,
but one who would hang upon the outskirts, and hide behind the corners of
buildings or trees.  He did not see the shadow, but once or twice he felt
that it was there.

The officer, Bathurst, told him one night that some important papers had
been stolen from the White House of the Confederacy itself.

"They pertain to our army," said Bathurst, "and they will be of value to
the enemy, if they reach him."

"I'm quite certain that the most daring and dangerous of all northern
spies is in Richmond," said Harry.

Then he told Bathurst of Shepard and of the trails that he had seen among
the pines behind Curtis's house.

"Do you think this man got our map?" asked Bathurst.

"It may have been so.  Perhaps he was hidden in the court and when he saw
us go out, leaving the map on the table, he slipped in at the window and
seized it."

"But the court was enclosed.  He would have had to go with the paper
through the house itself."

"That's where my theory fails.  I can provide for his taking the paper,
but I can't provide for his escape."

"I'll tell the General about it.  I think you're right, Harry.  I've
heard of Shepard myself, and he's worth ten thousand men to the Yankees.
It's more than that.  At such a critical stage of our affairs he might
ruin us.  We'll make a general search for him.  We'll rake the city with
a fine tooth comb."

The search was made everywhere.  Soldiers pried in every possible place,
but they found nobody who could not give an adequate account of his
presence in Richmond.  Harry felt sure nevertheless that Shepard was
somewhere in the capital, protected by his infinite daring and resource,
and they received the startling news the next day after the search that a
messenger sent northward with dispatches for Lee had been attacked only
a short distance from the city.  He had been struck from behind, and did
not see his assailant, but the wound in the head--the man had been found
unconscious--and the missing dispatches were sufficient proof.

A night later precious documents were purloined from the office of the
Secretary of War and a list of important earthworks on the North and
South Carolina coast disappeared from the office of the Secretary of
the Navy.  Alarm spread through all the departments of the Confederacy.
Some one, spy and burglar too, had come into the very capital, and he was
having uncommon success.

Harry had not the least doubt that it was Shepard, and he was filled with
an ambition to capture this man, whom he really liked.  If Shepard were
caught he would certainly be hanged, but then a spy must take his chances.

They heard meanwhile that General Lee had gone to a former camp of his on
the Opequan, but that later in response to maneuvers by General Meade,
he moved to a position near Front Royal.  No orders came for Harry or
Dalton to rejoin him, and, as a period of inactivity seemed to be at hand,
they were glad to remain a while longer in Richmond.  They still stayed
with the Lanhams, who refused to take any pay, although the two young
officers, chipping together, bought for Mrs. Lanham a little watch which
had just come through the blockade from England.

Thus their days lengthened in Richmond, and, despite the shadow of the
spy and his doings which was over Harry, they were still very pleasant.
The members of the Mosaic Club, although older men, made much of them,
and Harry and Dalton, being youths of sprighty wit, were able to hold
their own in such company.  The time had now passed into August, and they
sat one afternoon in the lobby of the big hotel with their new friends.
Richmond without was quiet and blazing in the sun.  Harry had received a
second letter from his father from an unnamed point in Georgia.  It did
not contain much news, but it was full of cheerfulness, and it intimated
in more than one place that Bragg's army was going to strike a great blow.

All eyes were turned toward the West.  The opinion had been spreading in
the Confederacy that the chief danger was on that line.  It seemed that
the Army of Northern Virginia could take care of anything to the north
and east, but in the south and west affairs did not go well.

"It's a pity that General Bragg is President Davis' brother-in-law,"
said Randolph.

"Why?" asked Daniel.

"Then he wouldn't be in command of our Western Army."

"Bragg's a fighter, though."

"But not a reaper."

"What do you mean?"

"He wins the victory, but lets the enemy take it."

"It may be so.  But to come closer home, what about the Yankee spy in
Richmond?  It's an established fact that a man of most uncommon daring
and skill is here."

"No doubt of it, what's the latest from him?"

"The house of William Curtis was entered last night and robbed."

"Robbed of what?"

"Papers.  The man never takes any valuables."

"But Curtis is not in the government!"

"No, but he carries on a lot of blockade running, chiefly through Norfolk
and Wilmington.  I think the papers related to several blockade running
vessels coming out from England, and of course the Yankee blockading
ships will be ready for them.  There's not a trace of the man who took
them."

"Something is deucedly sinister about it," said Bagby.  "It seems to be
the work of one man, and he must have a hiding place in Richmond, but
we can't find it.  Kenton, you and Dalton are army officers, supposedly
of intelligence.  Now, why don't you find this mysterious terror?  Ah,
will you excuse me for a minute!  I see Miss Carden leaving the counter
with her basket, and there is no other seamstress in Richmond who can put
the ruffles on a man's finest shirt as she can.  She's been doing work
for me for some time."

He arose, and, leaving them, bowed very politely to the seamstress.
Her face, although thin and lined, was that of an educated woman of
strong character.  Harry thought it probable that she was a lady in the
conventional meaning of the word.  Many a woman of breeding and culture
was now compelled to earn her own living in the South.  She and Bagby
exchanged only a few words, he returning to his chair, and she leaving
the hotel at a side door, walking with dignity.

"I've seen Miss Carden three times before, once on the train, once at
this hotel and once at Mr. Curtis's house; can you tell me anything about
her?" said Harry.

"It's an ordinary tale," replied Bagby.  "I think she lived well up the
valley and her house being destroyed in some raid of the Federal troops
she came down to the capital to earn a living.  She's been doing work for
me and others I know for a year past, and I know she's not been out of
Richmond in that time."

The talk changed now to the books that had come through from Europe in
the blockade runners.  There was a new novel by Dickens and another by
Thackeray, new at least to the South, and the members of the Mosaic Club
were soon deep in criticism and defense.

Harry strolled away after a while.  He did not tell his friends--nothing
was to be gained by telling them--that he was absolutely sure of the
identity of the spy, that it was Shepard.  The question of identity did
not matter if they caught him, and his old feeling that it was a duel
between Shepard and himself returned.  He believed that the duty to catch
the man had been laid upon him.

He began to haunt Richmond at all hours of the night.  More than once he
had to give explanations to watchmen about public buildings, but he clung
to the task that he had imposed upon himself.  He explained to Dalton and
the Virginian found no fault except for Harry's loss of time that might
be devoted to amusement.  Harry sometimes rebuked himself for his own
persistency, but Bagby's taunt had stung a little, and he felt that it
applied more to himself than to Dalton.  He knew Shepard and he knew
something of his ways.  Moreover, his was the blood of the greatest of
all trailers, and it was incumbent upon him to find the spy.  Yet he was
trailing in a city and not in a forest.  In spite of everything he clung
to his work.

On a later night about one o'clock in the morning he was near the
building that housed army headquarters, and he noticed a figure come from
some bushes near it.  He instantly stepped back into the shadow and saw
a man glance up and down the street, probably to see if it was clear.
It was a night to favor the spy, dark, with heavy clouds and gusts of
rain.

The figure, evidently satisfied that no one was watching, walked briskly
down the street, and Harry's heart beat hard against his side.  He knew
that it was Shepard, the king of spies, against whom he had matched
himself.  He could not mistake, despite the darkness, his figure, his
walk and the swing of his powerful shoulders.

His impulse was to cry for help, to shout that the spy was here, but
at the first sound of his voice Shepard would at once dart into the
shrubbery, and escape through the alleys of Richmond.  No, his old
feeling that it was a duel between Shepard and himself was right, and so
they must fight it out.

Shepard walked swiftly toward the narrower and more obscure streets,
and Harry followed at equal speed.  The night grew darker and the rain,
instead of coming in gusts, now fell steadily.  Twice Shepard stopped
and looked back.  But on each occasion Harry flattened himself against a
plank fence and he did not believe the spy had seen him.

Then Shepard went faster and his pursuer had difficulty in keeping him in
view.  He went through an alley, turned into a street, and Harry ran in
order not to lose sight of him.

The alley came into the street at a right angle, and, when Harry turned
the corner, a heavy, dark figure thrust itself into his path.

"Shepard!" he cried.

"Yes!" said the man, "and I hate to do this, but I must."

His heavy fist shot out and caught his pursuer on the jaw.  Harry saw
stars in constellations, then floated away into blackness, and, when he
came out of it, found himself lying on a bed in a small room.  His jaw
was bandaged and very sore, but otherwise he felt all right.  A candle
was burning on a table near him and an unshuttered window on the other
side of the room told him that it was still night and raining.

Harry looked leisurely about the room, into which he had been wafted on
the magic carpet of the Arabian genii, so far as he knew.  It was small
and without splendor and he knew at once from the character of its
belongings that it was a woman's room.

He sat up.  His head throbbed, but touching it cautiously he knew that he
had sustained no serious injury.  But he felt chagrin, and a lot of it.
Shepard had known that he was following him and had laid a trap, into
which he had walked without hesitation.  The man, however, had spared his
life, although he could have killed him as easily as he had stunned him.
Then he laughed bitterly at himself.  A duel between them, he had called
it!  Shepard wouldn't regard it as much of a duel.

His head became so dizzy that he lay down again rather abruptly and began
to wonder.  What was he doing in a woman's room, and who was the woman
and how had he got there?  This would be a great joke for Dalton and
St. Clair and Happy Tom.

He was fully dressed, except for his boots, and he saw them standing
on the floor against the wall.  He surveyed once more the immaculate
neatness of the room.  It was certainly a woman's, and most likely that
of an old maid.  He sat up again, but his head throbbed so fearfully that
he was compelled to lie down quickly.  Shepard had certainly put a lot
in that right hand punch of his and he had obtained a considerable
percentage of revenge for his defeat in the river.

Then Harry forgot his pain in the intensity of his curiosity.  He had
sustained a certain temporary numbing of the faculties from the blow and
his fancy, though vivid now, was vague.  He was not at all sure that
he was still in Richmond.  The window still showed that it was night,
and the rain was pouring so hard that he could hear it beating against
the walls.  At all events, he thought whimsically, he had secured shelter,
though at an uncommon high price.

He heard a creak, and a door at the end of the room opened, revealing the
figure and the strong, haggard features of Henrietta Carden.  Evidently
she had taken off a hood and cloak in an outer room, as there were rain
drops on her hair and her shoes were wet.

"How are you feeling, Mr. Kenton?" she asked.

"Full of aches and wonder."

"Both will pass."

She smiled, and, although she was not young, Harry thought her distinctly
handsome, when she smiled.

"I seem to have driven you out of your room and to have taken your bed
from you, Miss Carden," he said, "but I assure you it was unintentional.
I ran against something pretty hard, and since then I haven't been
exactly responsible for what I was doing."

She smiled again, and this time Harry found the smile positively winning.

"I'm responsible for your being here," she said.

Then she went back to the door and said to some one waiting in the outer
room:

"You can come in, Lieutenant Dalton.  He's all right except for his
headache, and an extraordinary spell of curiosity."

Dalton stalked solemnly in, and regarded Harry with a stern and reproving
eye.

"You're a fine fellow," he said.  "A lady finds you dripping blood from
the chin, and out of your head, wandering about the street in the
darkness and rain.  Fortunately she knows who you are, takes you into her
own house, gives you an opiate or some kind of a drug, binds up your jaw
where some man good and true has hit you with all his goodness and truth,
and then goes for me, your guardian, who should never have let you out of
his sight.  I was awakened out of a sound sleep in our very comfortable
room at the Lanham house, and I've come here through a pouring rain with
Miss Carden to see you."

"I do seem to be the original trouble maker," said Harry.  "How did you
happen to find me, Miss Carden?"

"I was sitting at my window, working very late on a dress that
Mrs. Curtis wants to-morrow.  It was not raining hard then, and I could
see very well outside.  I saw a dark shadow in the street at the mouth of
the alley.  I saw that it was the figure of a man staggering very much.
I ran out and found that it was you, Lieutenant Kenton.  You were
bleeding at the chin, where apparently some one had struck you very hard,
and you were so thoroughly dazed that you did not know where you were or
who you were."

"Yes, he hit me very hard, just as you supposed, Miss Carden," said Harry,
feeling gently his sore and swollen chin.

"I half led and half dragged you into my house--there was nowhere else
I could take you--and, as you were sinking into a stupor, I managed to
make you lie down on my bed.  I bound up your wound, while you were
unconscious, and then I went for Lieutenant Dalton."

"And she saved your life, too, you young wanderer.  No doubt of that,"
said Dalton reprovingly.  "This is what you get for roaming away from my
care.  Lucky you were that an angel like Miss Carden saved you from dying
of exposure.  If I didn't know you so well, Harry, I should say that you
had been in some drunken row."

"Oh, no! not that!" exclaimed Miss Carden.  "There was no odor of liquor
on his breath."

"I was merely joking, Miss Carden," said Dalton.  "Old Harry here is one
of the best of boys, and I'm grateful to you for saving him and coming to
me.  If there is any way we can repay you we'll do it."

"I don't want any repayment.  We must all help in these times."

"But we won't forget it.  We can't.  How are you feeling, Harry?"

"My head doesn't throb so hard.  The jarred works inside are gradually
getting into place, and I think that in a half-hour I can walk again,
that is, resting upon that stout right arm of yours, George."

"Then we'll go.  I've brought an extra coat that will protect you from
the rain."

"You are welcome to stay here!" exclaimed Miss Carden.  "Perhaps you'd be
wiser to do so."

"We thank you for such generous hospitality," said Dalton gallantly,
"but it will be best for many reasons that we go back to Mrs. Lanham's
as soon as we can.  But first can we ask one favor of you, Miss Carden?"

"Of course."

"That you say nothing of Mr. Kenton's accident.  Remember that he was on
military duty and that in the darkness and rain he fell, striking upon
his jaw."

"I'll remember it.  Our first impression that he had been struck by
somebody was a mistake, of course.  You can depend upon me, both of you.
Neither of you was ever in my house.  The incident never occurred."

"But we're just as grateful to you as if it had happened."

A half-hour later they left the cottage, Miss Carden holding open the
door a little to watch them until they were out of sight.  But Harry
had recovered his strength and he was able to walk without Dalton's
assistance, although the Virginian kept close by his side in case of
necessity.

"Harry," said Dalton, when they were nearly to the Lanham house, "are you
willing to tell what happened?"

"As nearly as I know.  I got upon the trail of that spy who has been
infesting Richmond.  I knew at the time that it couldn't have been any
one else.  I followed him up an alley, but he waited for me at the turn,
and before I could defend myself he let loose with his right.  When I
came drifting back into the world I was lying upon the bed in Miss
Carden's cottage."

"He showed you some consideration.  He might have quietly put you out of
the way with a knife."

"Shepard and I don't care to kill each other.  Each wants to defeat the
other's plans.  It's got to be a sort of duel between us."

"So I see, and he has scored latest."

"But not last."

"We'd better stick to the tale about the fall.  Such a thing could happen
to anybody in these dark streets.  But that Miss Carden is a fine woman.
She showed true human sympathy, and what's more, she gave help."

"She's all that," agreed Harry heartily.

They had their own keys to the Lanham house and slipped in without
awakening anybody.  Their explanations the next day were received without
question and in another day Harry's jaw was no longer sore, though his
spirit was.  Yet the taking of important documents ceased suddenly,
and Harry was quite sure that his encounter with Shepard had at least
caused him to leave the city.




CHAPTER XII

IN WINTER QUARTERS


Harry was sent a few days later with dispatches from the president to
General Lee, who was still in his camp beside the Opequan.  Dalton was
held in the capital for further messages, but Harry was not sorry to make
the journey alone.  The stay in Richmond had been very pleasant.  The
spirits of youth, confined, had overflowed, but he was beginning to feel
a reaction.  One must return soon to the battlefield.  This was merely
a lull in the storm which would sweep with greater fury than ever.  The
North, encouraged by Gettysburg and Vicksburg, was gathering vast masses
which would soon be hurled upon the South, and Harry knew how thin the
lines there were becoming.

He thought, too, of Shepard, who was the latest to score in their duel,
and he believed that this man had already sent to the Northern leaders
information beyond value.  Harry felt that he must strive in some manner
to make the score even.

It was late in the summer when he rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia
and delivered the letters to the commander-in-chief, who sat in the shade
of a large tree.  Harry observed him closely.  He seemed a little grayer
than before the Battle of Gettysburg, but his manner was as confident as
ever.  He filled to both eye and mind the measure of a great general.
After asking Harry many questions he dismissed him for a while, to play,
so he said.

The young Kentuckian at once, and, as a matter of course, sought the
Invincibles.  St. Clair and Langdon hailed him with shouts of joy,
but to his great surprise, Colonel Leonidas Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel
Hector St. Hilaire were not playing chess.

"We were getting on with the game last night, Harry," explained Colonel
Talbot, "but we came to a point where we were about to develop heat over
a projected move.  Then, in order to avoid such a lamentable occurrence,
we decided to postpone further play until to-night.  But we find you
looking uncommonly well, Harry.  The flesh pots of Egypt have agreed with
you."

"I had a good time in Richmond, sir, a fine one," replied Harry.  "The
people there have certainly been kind to me, as they are to all the
officers of the Army of Northern Virginia."

"What have you done with the grave Dalton, who was your comrade on your
journey to the capital?"

"They've kept him there for the present.  They think he's stronger proof
against the luxuries and temptations of a city than I am."

"Youth is youth, and I'm glad that you've had this little fling, Harry.
Perhaps you'll have another, as I think you'll be sent back to Richmond
very soon."

"What has been going on here, Colonel?"

"Very little.  Nothing, in fact, of any importance.  When we crossed
the swollen Potomac, although threatened by an enemy superior to us in
numbers, I felt that we would not be pushed.  General Meade has been
deliberate, extremely deliberate in his offensive movements.  Up North
they call Gettysburg a great victory, but we're resting here calmly and
peacefully.  Hector and I and our young friends have found rural peace
and ease among these Virginia hills and valleys.  You, of course, found
Richmond very gay and bright?"

"Very gay and bright, Colonel, and full of handsome ladies."

Colonel Talbot sighed and Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire sighed
also.

"Hector and I should have been there," said Colonel Talbot.  "Although
we've never married, we have a tremendous admiration for the ladies,
and in our best uniforms we're not wholly unpopular among them, eh,
Hector?"

"Not by any means, Leonidas.  We're not as young as Harry here, but
I know that you're a fine figure of a man, and you know that I am.
Moreover, our experience of the dangerous sex is so much greater than
that of mere boys like Harry and Arthur and Tom here, that we know how
to make ourselves much more welcome.  You talk to them about frivolous
things, mere chit chat, while we explain grave and important matters to
them."

"Are you sure, sir," asked St. Clair, "that the ladies don't really
prefer chit chat?"

"I was not speaking of little girls.  I was alluding to those ornaments
of their sex who have arrived at years of discretion.  Ah, if Leonidas
and I were only a while in Richmond!  It would be the next best thing to
being in Charleston."

"Maybe the Invincibles will be sent there for a while."

"Perhaps.  I don't foresee any great activity here in the autumn.
How do they regard the Army of Northern Virginia in Richmond now, Harry?"

"With supreme confidence."

The talk soon drifted to the people whom Harry had met at the capital,
and then he told of his adventure with Shepard, the spy.

"He seems to be a most daring man," said Talbot; "not a mere ordinary spy,
but a man of a higher type.  I think he's likely to do us great harm.
But the woman, Miss Carden, was surely kind to you.  If she hadn't found
you wandering around in the rain you'd have doubtless dropped down and
died.  God bless the ladies."

"And so say we all of us," said Harry.

He returned to Richmond in a few days, bearing more dispatches, and to
his great delight all that was left of the Invincibles arrived a week
later to recuperate and see a little of the world.  St. Clair and Happy
Tom plunged at once and with all the ardor of youth into the gayeties of
social life, and the two colonels followed them at a more dignified but
none the less earnest pace.  All four appeared in fine new uniforms,
for which they had saved their money, and they were conspicuous upon
every occasion.

Harry was again at the Curtis house, and although it was not a great
ball this time the assemblage was numerous, including all his friends.
The two colonels had become especial favorites everywhere, and they were
telling stories of the old South, which Harry had divined was passing;
passing whether the South won or not.

Although there had been much light talk through the evening and an
abundance of real gayety, nearly every member of the company,
nevertheless, had serious moments.  The news from Tennessee and Georgia
was heavy with import.  It was vague in some particulars, but it was
definite enough in others to tell that the armies of Rosecrans and Bragg
were approaching each other.  All eyes turned to the West.  A great
battle could not be long delayed, and a powerful division of the Army of
Northern Virginia under Longstreet had been sent to help Bragg.

Harry found himself late at night once more in that very room in which
the map had disappeared so mysteriously.  The two colonels, St. Clair and
Langdon, and one or two others had drifted in, and the older men were
smoking.  Inevitably they talked of the battle which they foresaw with
such certainty, and Harry's anxiety about it was increased, because he
knew his father would be there on one side, and the cousin, for whom he
cared so much, would be on the other.

"If only General Lee were in command there," said Colonel Talbot, "we
might reckon upon a great and decisive victory."

"But Bragg is a good general," said Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire.

"It's not enough to be merely a good general.  He must have the soul
of fire that Lee has, and that Jackson had.  Bragg is the Southern
McClellan.  He is brave enough personally, but he always overrates the
strength of the enemy, and, if he is victorious on the field, he does
not reap the fruits of victory."

"Where were the armies when we last heard from them?" asked a captain.

"Bragg was turning north to attack Rosecrans, who stood somewhere between
him and Chattanooga."

"I'm glad that it's Rosecrans and not Grant who commands the Northern
army there," said Harry.

"Why?" asked Colonel Talbot.

"I've studied the manner in which he took Vicksburg, and I've heard about
him from my father, and others.  He won't be whipped.  He isn't like the
other Northern generals.  He hangs on, whatever happens.  I heard some
one quoting him as saying that no matter how badly his army was suffering
in battle, the army of the other fellow might be suffering worse.
It seems to me that a general who is able to think that way is very
dangerous."

"And so he is, Harry," said Colonel Talbot.  "I, too, am glad that it's
Rosecrans and not Grant.  If there's any news of a battle, we're not in a
bad place to hear it.  It's said that Mr. Curtis always knows as soon as
our government what's happened."

The talk drifted on to another subject and then a hum came from the
larger room.  A murmur only, but it struck such an intense and earnest
note that Harry was convinced.

"It's news of battle!  I know it!" he exclaimed.

They sprang to their feet and hurried into the ballroom.  William Curtis,
his habitual calm broken, was standing upon a chair and all the people
had gathered in front of him.  A piece of paper, evidently a telegram,
was clutched in his hand.

"Friends," he said in a strained, but exultant voice, "a great battle has
been fought near Chattanooga on a little river called the Chickamauga,
and we have won a magnificent victory."

A mighty cheer came from the crowd.

"The army of Rosecrans, attacked with sudden and invincible force by
Bragg, has been shattered and driven into Chattanooga."

Another cheer burst forth.

"No part of the Union army was able to hold fast, save one wing under
Thomas."

A third mighty cheer arose, but this time Harry did not join in it.
He felt a sudden sinking of the heart at the words, "save one wing under
Thomas."  Then the victory was not complete.  It could be complete only
when the whole Union army was driven from the field.  As long as Thomas
stood, there was a flaw in the triumph.  He had heard many times of this
man, Thomas.  He had Grant's qualities.  He was at his best in apparent
defeat.

"Is there anything else, Mr. Curtis?" asked Colonel Talbot.

"That is all my agent sends me concerning its results, but he says
that it lasted two days, and that it was fierce and bloody beyond all
comparison with anything that has happened in the West.  He estimated
that the combined losses are between thirty and forty thousand men."

A heavy silence fell upon them all.  The victory was great, but the
price for it was great, too.  Yet exultation could not be subdued long.
They were soon smiling over it, and congratulating one another.  But
Harry was still unable to share wholly in the joy of victory.

"Why this gloom in your face, when all the rest of us are so happy?"
asked St. Clair.

"My father was there.  He may have fallen.  How do I know?"

"That's not it.  He always comes through.  What's the real cause?
Out with it!"

"You know that part of the dispatch saying, 'No part of the Union army
was able to hold fast save one wing under Thomas.'  How about that wing!
You heard, too, what the colonel said about General Bragg.  He always
overestimates the strength of the enemy, and while he may win a victory
he will not reap the fruits of it.  That wing under Thomas still may be
standing there, protecting all the rest of the Union army."

"Come now, old Sober Face!  This isn't like you.  We've won a grand
victory!  We've more than paid them back for their Gettysburg."

Harry rejoiced then with the others, but at times the thought came to
him that Thomas with one wing might yet be standing between Bragg and
complete victory.  When he and Dalton went back home--they were again
with the Lanhams--they found the whole population of Richmond ablaze with
triumph.  The Yankee army in the West had been routed.  Not only was
Chickamauga an offset for Gettysburg, but for Vicksburg as well, and once
more the fortunes of the South were rising toward the zenith.

Dalton had returned from the army a little later this time than Harry,
but he had joined him at the Lanhams', and he too showed gravity amid the
almost universal rejoicing.

"I see that you're afraid the next news won't be so complete, Harry,"
he said.

"That's it, George.  We don't really know much, except that Thomas was
holding his ground.  Oh, if only Stonewall Jackson were there!  Remember
how he came down on them at the Second Manassas and at Chancellorsville!
Thomas would be swept off his feet and as Rosecrans retreated into
Chattanooga our army would pour right on his heels!"

They waited eagerly the next day and the next for news, and while
Richmond was still filled with rejoicings over Chickamauga, Harry saw
that his fears were justified.  Thomas stood till the end.  Bragg had not
followed Rosecrans into Chattanooga.  The South had won a great battle,
but not a decisive victory.  The commanding general had not reaped all
the rewards that were his for the taking.  Bragg had justified in every
way Colonel Talbot's estimate of him.

And yet Richmond, like the rest of the South, felt the great uplift of
Chickamauga, the most gigantic battle of the West.  It told South as
well as North that the war was far from over.  The South could no longer
invade the North, nor could the North invade the South at will.  Even on
the northernmost border of the rebelling section the Army of Northern
Virginia under its matchless leader, rested in its camp, challenging and
defiant.

Harry was glad to return with his friends to the army.  His brief period
of festival was over, and his fears for his father had been relieved by
a letter, stating that he had received no serious harm in the great and
terrible battle of Chickamauga.

After the failure of the armies of Lee and Meade to bring about a
decisive battle at Mine Run, the Army of Northern Virginia established
its autumn and winter headquarters on a jutting spur of the great range
called Clarke's Mountain, Orange Court House lying only a few miles to
the west.  The huge camp was made in a wide-open space, surrounded by
dense masses of pines and cedars.  Tents were pitched securely, and,
feeling that they were to stay here a long time many of the soldiers
built rude log cabins.

General Lee himself continued to use his tent, which stood in the center
of the camp, the streets of tents and cabins radiating from it like the
spokes of a wheel.  Close about Lee's own tent were others occupied by
Colonel Taylor, his adjutant general, Colonel Peyton, Colonel Marshall,
and other and younger officers, including Harry and Dalton.  A little
distance down one of the main avenues, which they were pleased to call
Victory Street, the Invincibles were encamped, and Harry saw them almost
every day.

The troops were well fed now, and the brooks provided an abundance of
clear water.  The days were still warm, but the evenings were cold, and,
inhaling the healing odors of the pines and cedars, wounded soldiers
returned rapidly to health.

It was a wonderful interval for Harry and his friends associated with him
so closely.  Save for the presence of armies, it seemed at times that
there was no war.  Deep peace prevailed along the Rapidan and the slopes
of the mountain.  It was the longest period of rest that he and his
comrades were to know in the course of the mighty struggle.  The action
of the war was now chiefly in the Southwest, where Grant, taking the
place of Rosecrans, was seeking to recover all that was lost at
Chickamauga.

Harry had another letter from his father, telling him that his own had
been received, and giving personal details of the titanic struggle on the
Chickamauga.  He did not speak out directly, but Harry saw in his words
the vain regret that the great opportunity won at Chickamauga at such a
terrible price had not been used.  In his belief the whole Federal army
might have been destroyed, and the star of the South would have risen
again to the zenith.

Here Harry sighed and remembered his own forebodings.  Oh, if only a
Stonewall Jackson had been there!  His mighty sweep would have driven
Thomas and the rest in a wild rout.  A tear rose in his eye as he
remembered his lost hero.  He sincerely believed then and always that the
Confederacy would have won had he not fallen on that fatal evening at
Chancellorsville.  It was an emotion with him, a permanent emotion with
which logic could not interfere.

Harry was conscious, too, that the long quiet on the Eastern front was
but a lull.  There was nothing to signify peace in it.  If the North had
ever felt despair about the war Gettysburg and Vicksburg had removed
every trace of it.  He knew that beyond the blue ranges of mountains,
both to east and west, vast preparations were going forward.  The North,
the region of great population, of illimitable resources, of free access
to the sea, and of mechanical genius that had counted for so much in
arming her soldiers, was gathering herself for a supreme effort.  The
great defeats of the war's first period were to be ignored, and her
armies were to come again, more numerous, better equipped and perhaps
better commanded than ever.

Nevertheless, his mind was still the mind of youth, and he could not
dwell continuously upon this prospect.  The camp in the hills was
pleasant.  The heats had passed, and autumn in the full richness of its
coloring had come.  The forests blazed in all the brilliancy of red and
yellow and brown.  The whole landscape had the color and intensity that
only a North American autumn can know, and the October air had the
freshness and vitality sufficient to make an old man young.

The great army of youth--it was composed chiefly of boys, like the one
opposing it--enjoyed itself during these comparatively idle months.
The soldiers played rural games, marbles even, pitching the horseshoe,
wrestling, jumping and running.  It was to Harry like Hannibal in winter
quarters at Capua, without the Capua.  There was certainly no luxury
here.  While food was more abundant than for a long time, it was of the
simplest.  Instead of dissipation there was a great religious revival.
Ministers of different creeds, but united in a common object, appeared in
the camp, and preached with power and energy.  The South was emotional
then and perhaps the war had made it more so.  The ministers secured
thousands of converts.  All day long the preaching and singing could be
heard through the groves of pine and cedar, and Harry knew that when
the time for battle came they would fight all the better because of it.
Yielding to the enemy was no part of the Christianity that these
ministers preached.

Harry also saw the growth of the hero-worship accorded to his great
commander.  He did not believe that any other general, except perhaps
Napoleon in his earlier career, had ever received such trust and
admiration.  Many soldiers who had felt his guiding hand in battle now
saw him for the first time.  He had an appearance and manner to inspire
respect, and, back of that, was something much greater, a firm conviction
in the minds of all that he had illimitable patience, a willingness
to accept responsibility, and a military genius that had never been
surpassed.  Such was the attitude of the Southern people toward their
great leader then, and, to an even greater degree now, when his figure,
like that of Lincoln, instead of becoming smaller grows larger as it
recedes into the past.

Harry often rode with him.  He seemed to have an especial liking for the
very young members of his staff, or for old private soldiers, bearded and
gray like himself, whom he knew by name.  Far in October he rode down
toward the Rapidan where Stuart was encamped, taking with him only Harry
and Dalton.  He was mounted on his great white war horse, Traveller,
which the soldiers knew from afar.  Cheering arose, but when he raised
his hand in a deprecating way the soldiers, obedient to his wish, ceased,
and they heard only the murmur of many voices, as they went on.  The
general made the lads ride, one on his right and the other on his left
hand, and brilliant October coloring and crisp air seemed to put him in
a mood that was far from war.

"I pine for Arlington," he said at length to Harry, "that ancestral home
of mine that is held by the enemy.  I should like to see the ripening
of the crops there.  We Virginians of the old stock hold to the land,
and you Kentuckians, who are really of the same race, hold to it, too."

"It is true, sir," said Harry.  "My father loves the land.  After his
retirement from the army, following the Mexican war, he worked harder
upon our place in Kentucky than any slave or hired man.  He was going
to free his slaves, but I suppose, sir, that the war has made him feel
different about it."

"Yes, we're often willing to do things by our own free will, but not
under compulsion.  The great Washington himself wrote of the evils of
slave labor.  The 'old fields' scattered all over Virginia show what it
has done for this noble commonwealth."

Harry remembered quite well similar "old fields" in Kentucky.  Slaves
were far less numerous there than in Virginia, and he was old enough to
have observed that, in addition to the wrong of slavery, they were a
liability rather than an asset.  But he too felt anew the instinctive
rebellion against being compelled to do what he would perhaps do anyhow.

General Lee talked more of the land and Harry and Dalton listened
respectfully.  Harry saw that his commander's heart turned strongly
toward it.  He knew that Jefferson had dreamed of the United States as an
agricultural community, having no part in the quarrels of other nations,
but he knew that it was only a dream.  The South, the section that had
followed Jefferson's dream, was now at a great disadvantage.  It had no
ships, and it did not have the mills to equip it for the great war it was
waging.  He realized more keenly than ever the one-sided nature of the
South's development.

The general turned his horse toward the banks of the Rapidan, and a
resplendent figure came forward to meet him.  It was that incarnation of
youth and fantastic knighthood, Jeb Stuart, who had just returned from a
ride toward the north.  He wore a new and brilliant uniform and the usual
broad yellow sash about his waist.  His tunic was embroidered, too,
and his epaulets were heavy with gold.  The thick gold braid about his
hat was tied in a gorgeous loop in front.  His hands were encased in long
gloves of the finest buckskin, and he tapped the high yellow tops of his
riding boots with a little whip.

Harry always felt that Stuart did not really belong to the present.
His place was with the medieval knights who loved gorgeous armor, who
fought by day for the love of it and who sat in the evening on the castle
steps with fair ladies for the love of it, and who in the dark listened
to the troubadours below, also for the love of it.  A great cavalry
leader, he shone at his brightest in the chase, and, when there was no
fighting to be done, his were the spirits of a boy, and he was as quick
for a prank as any lad under his own command.

But Stuart, although he had joked with Jackson, never took any liberties
with Lee.  He instantly swept the ground with his plumed hat and said in
his most respectful manner:

"General, will you honor us by dining with us?  We've just returned from
a long ride northward and we've made some captures."

Lee caught a twinkle in his eye, and he smiled.

"I see no prisoners, General Stuart," he replied, "and I take it that
your captures do not mean human beings."

"No, sir, there are other things just now more valuable to us than
prisoners.  We raided a little Yankee outpost.  Nobody was hurt, but, sir,
we've captured some provisions, the like of which the Army of Northern
Virginia has not tasted in a long time.  Would you mind coming with me
and taking a look?  And bring Kenton and Dalton with you, if you don't
mind, sir."

"This indeed sounds tempting," said the commander-in-chief of the Army of
Northern Virginia.  "I accept your invitation, General Stuart, in behalf
of myself and my two young aides."

He dismounted, giving the reins of Traveller to an orderly, and walked
toward Stuart's tent, which was pitched near the river.  The "captures"
were heaped in a grassy place.

"Here, sir," said General Stuart, "are twenty dozen boxes of the finest
French sardines.  I haven't tasted sardines in a year and I love them."

"I've always liked them," said General Lee.

"And here, sir, are several cases of Yorkshire ham, brought all the
way across the sea--and for us.  It isn't as good as our Virginia ham,
which is growing scarce, but we'll like it.  And cove oysters, cases and
cases of 'em.  I like 'em almost as well as sardines."

"Most excellent."

"And real old New England pies, baked, I suppose, in Washington.  We can
warm 'em over."

"I see that you have the fire ready."

"And jars of preserves, a half-dozen kinds at least, and all of 'em look
as if two likely youngsters like Kenton and Dalton would be anxious to
get at 'em."

"You judge us rightly, General," said Harry.  "We'll show no mercy to
such prisoners as we have here."

"You wouldn't be boys and you wouldn't be human if you did," rejoined
Stuart, "would they, General?"

"They would not," replied Lee.  "One of the principal recollections of my
boyhood is that I was always hungry.  Our regular three meals a day were
not enough for us, however much we ate at one time.  Virginia, like your
own Kentucky, Harry, is full of forage, and we moved in groups.  Now,
didn't you find a lot of food in the woods and fields?"

"Oh, yes, sir," rejoined Harry with animation.  "I was hungry all the
time, too.  An hour after breakfast I was hungry again, and an hour after
dinner, which we had in the middle of the day, I was hungry once more."

"But you knew where to go for supplies."

"Yes, sir; we had berries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries,
gooseberries, dewberries, cherries, all of them growing wild although
some of them started tame.  And then we could forage for pears, peaches,
plums, damsons, all kinds of apples, paw paws, and then later for the
nuts, hickory nuts, walnuts, chestnuts, hazel nuts, chinquapins, and a
lot more.  We could have almost lived in the woods and fields from early
spring until late fall."

"We did the same in Virginia," said the commander-in-chief.  "I've often
thought that our forest Indians did not develop a higher civilization,
because it was so easy for them to live, save in the depths of a hard
winter.  They had most of the berries and fruits and nuts that we white
boys had.  The woods were full of game, and the lakes and rivers full
of fish.  They were not driven by the hard necessity that creates
civilization."

"Dinner is ready, sir," announced General Stuart, who had been directing
the orderlies.  "I can offer you and the others nothing but boxes and
kegs to sit on, but I can assure you that this Northern food, some of
which comes in cans, is excellent."

The two lads and General Stuart fell to work with energy.  General Lee
ate more sparingly.  Stuart was a boy himself, talking much and running
over with fun.

"Have you heard what happened to General Early, sir?" he asked the
commander-in-chief.

"Not yet."

"But you will, sir, to-morrow.  Early will be slow in sending you
that dispatch.  He hasn't had time to write it yet.  He's not through
swearing."

"General Early is a valiant and able man, but I disapprove of his
swearing."

"Why, sir, 'Old Jube' can't help it.  It's a part of his breathing,
and man cannot live without breath.  He sent one of his best aides with
a dispatch to General Hill, who is posted some distance away.  Passing
through a thick cedar wood the aide was suddenly set upon by a genuine
stage villain, large, dark and powerful, who clubbed him over the head
with the butt of a pistol, and then departed with his dispatch."

"And what happened then?"

"The aide returned to General Early with his story, but without his
dispatch.  The general believed his account, of course, but he called
him names for allowing himself to be surprised and overcome by a single
Yankee.  He cursed until the air for fifty yards about him smelled
strongly of sulphur and brimstone."

"Did he do anything more?"

"Yes, General.  He sent a duplicate of the dispatch by an aide whom he
said he could trust.  In an hour the second man came back with the same
big lump on his head and with the same story.  He had been ambushed at
the crossing of a ravine full of small cedars, and the highwayman was
undoubtedly the same, too, a big, powerful fellow, as bold as you please."

Harry's pulse throbbed hard for a few moments, when he first heard
mention of the man.  The description, not only physical, but of manner
and action as well, answered perfectly.  He had not the slightest doubt
that it was Shepard.

"A daring deed," said General Lee.  "We must see that it is not repeated."

"But that wasn't all of the tale, sir.  While the second man was sitting
on the bank, nursing his broken head, the Yankee Dick Turpin read the
dispatch and saw that it was a duplicate of the first.  He became red-hot
with wrath, and talked furiously about the extra and unnecessary work
that General Early was forcing upon him.  He ended by cramming the
dispatch into the man's hands, directing him to take it back, and to tell
General Early to stop his foolishness.  The aide was a bit dazed from the
blow he received and he delivered that message word for word.  Why, sir,
General Early exploded.  People who have heard him swear for years and
who know what an artist he is in swearing, heard him then utter swear
words that they had never heard before, words invented on the spur of the
moment, and in the heat of passion, words full of pith and meaning."

"And that was all, I suppose?"

"Not by any means, sir.  General Early picked two sharpshooters and sent
them with another copy of the dispatch.  They passed the place of the
first hold-up, and next the ravine without seeing anybody.  But as they
were riding some distance further on both of their horses were killed by
shots from a small clump of pines.  Before they could regain their feet
Dick Turpin came out and covered them with his rifle--it seems that he
had one of those new repeating weapons.

"The men saw that his eye was so keen and his hand so steady that they
did not dare to move a hand to a pistol.  Then as he looked down the
sights of his rifle he lectured them.  He told them they were foolish to
come that way, when the two who came before them had found out that it
was a closed road.  He said that real soldiers learned by experience,
and would not try again to do what they had learned to be impossible.

"Then he said that after all they were not to blame, as they had been
sent by General Early, and he made one of them who had the stub of a
pencil write on the back of the dispatch these words: 'General Jubal
Early, C. S. A.: This has ceased to be a joke.  After your first man was
stopped, it was not necessary to do anything more.  I have the dispatch.
Why insist on sending duplicate after duplicate?'  And the two had to
walk all the way back to General Early with that note, because they
didn't dare make away with the dispatch.

"I have a certain respect for that man's skill and daring, but General
Early had a series of spells.  He retired to his tent and if the reports
are not exaggerated, a continuous muttering like low thunder came from
the tent, and all the cloth of it turned blue from the lightnings
imprisoned inside."

General Lee himself smiled.

"It was certainly annoying," he said.  "I hope the dispatch was not of
importance."

"It contained nothing that will help the Yankees, but it shows that the
enemy has some spies--or at least one spy--who are Napoleons at their
trade."




CHAPTER XIII

THE COMING OF GRANT


The little dinner ended.  Despite his disapproval of General Early's
swearing, General Lee laughed heartily at further details of the strange
Yankee spy's exploits.  But it was well known that in this particular
General Early was the champion of the East.  Harry did not know that in
the person of Colonel Charles Woodville, his cousin, Dick Mason, had
encountered one of equal ability in the Southwest.

Presently General Lee and his two young aides mounted their horses for
the return.  The commander-in-chief seemed gayer than usual.  He was
always very fond of Stuart, whose high spirits pleased him, and before
his departure he thanked him for his thoughtfulness.

"Whenever we get any particularly choice shipments from the North I shall
always be pleased to notify you, General, and send you your share,"
said Stuart, sweeping the air in front of him again with his great plumed
hat.  With his fine, heroic face and his gorgeous uniform he had never
looked more a knight of the Middle Ages.

General Lee smiled and thanked him again, and then rode soberly back,
followed at a short distance by his two young aides.  Although the
view of hills and mountains and valleys and river and brooks was now
magnificent, the sumach burning in red and the leaves vivid in many
colors, Lee, deeply sensitive, like all his rural forbears, to rural
beauty, nevertheless seemed not to notice it, and soon sank into deep
thought.

It is believed by many that Lee knew then that the Confederacy had
already received a mortal blow.  It was not alone sufficient for the
South to win victories.  She must keep on winning them, and the failure
at Gettysburg and the defeat at Vicksburg had put her on the defensive
everywhere.  Fewer blockade runners were getting through.  Above all,
there was less human material upon which to draw.  But he roused himself
presently and said to Harry:

"There was something humorous in the exploits of the man who held up
General Early's messengers, but the fellow is dangerous, exceedingly
dangerous at such a time."

"I've an idea who he is, sir," said Harry.

"Indeed!  What do you know?"

Then Harry told nearly all that he knew about Shepard, but not all--
that struggle in the river, and his sparing of the spy and the filching
of the map at the Curtis house, for instance--and the commander-in-chief
listened with great attention.

"A bold man, uncommonly bold, and it appears uncommonly skilled, too.
We must send out a general alarm, that is, we must have all our own
scouts and spies watching for him."

Harry said nothing, but he did not believe that anybody would catch
Shepard.  The man's achievements had been so startling that they had
created the spell of invincibility.  His old belief that he was worth ten
thousand men on the Northern battle line returned.  No movement of the
Army of Northern Virginia could escape him, and no lone messenger could
ever be safe from him.

Lee returned to his camp on Clarke's Mountain, and, a great revival
meeting being in progress, he joined it, sitting with a group of
officers.  Fitzhugh Lee, W. H. F. Lee, Jones, Rosser, Wickham, Munford,
Young, Wade Hampton and a dozen others were there.  Taylor and Marshall
and Peyton of his staff were also in the company.

The preacher was a man of singular power and earnestness, and after
the sermon he led the singing himself, in which often thirty or forty
thousand voices joined.  It was a moving sight to Harry, all these men,
lads, mostly, but veterans of many fields, united in a chorus mightier
than any other that he had ever heard.  It would have pleased Stonewall
Jackson to his inmost soul, and once more, as always, a tear rose to his
eye as he thought of his lost hero.

Harry and Dalton left their horses with an orderly and came back to the
edge of the great grove, in which the meeting was being held.  They had
expected to find St. Clair and Happy Tom there, but not seeing them,
wandered on and finally drifted apart.  Harry stood alone for a while on
the outskirts of the throng.  They were all singing again, and the mighty
volume of sound rolled through the wood.  It was not only a singular,
it was a majestic scene also to Harry.  How like unto little children
young soldiers were! and how varied and perplexing were the problems of
human nature!  They were singing with the utmost fervor of Him who had
preached continuously of peace, who was willing to turn one cheek when
the other was smitten, and because of their religious zeal they would
rush the very next day into battle, if need be, with increased fire and
zeal.

He saw a heavily built, powerful man on the outskirts, but some distance
away, singing in a deep rolling voice, but something vaguely familiar in
the figure drew his glance again.  He looked long and well and then began
to edge quietly toward the singer, who was clothed in the faded butternut
uniform that so many of the Confederate soldiers wore.

The fervor of the singer did not decrease, but Harry noticed that he too
was moving, moving slowly toward the eastern end of the grove, the same
direction that Harry was pursuing.  Now he was sure.  He would have
called out, but his voice would not have been heard above the vast volume
of sound.  He might have pointed out the singer to others, but, although
he felt sure, he did not wish to be laughed at in case of mistake.
But strongest of all was the feeling that it had become a duel between
Shepard and himself.

He walked slowly on, keeping the man in view, but Shepard, although he
never ceased singing, moved away at about the same pace.  Harry inferred
at once that Shepard had seen him and was taking precautions.  The
temptation to cry out at the top of his voice that the most dangerous
of all spies was among them was almost irresistible, but it would only
create an uproar in which Shepard could escape easily, leaving to him a
load of ridicule.

He continued his singular pursuit.  Shepard was about a hundred yards
away, and they had made half the circuit of this huge congregation.
Then the spy passed into a narrow belt of pines, and when Harry moved
forward to see him emerge on the other side he failed to reappear.
He hastened to the pines, which led some distance down a little gully,
and he was sure that Shepard had gone that way.  He followed fast,
but he could discover no sign. He had vanished utterly, like thin smoke
swept away by a breeze.

He returned deeply stirred by the appearance and disappearance--easy,
alike--of Shepard.  His sense of the man's uncanny powers and of his
danger to the Confederacy was increased.  He seemed to come and go
absolutely as he pleased.  It was true that in the American Civil War the
opportunities for spies were great.  All men spoke the same language,
and all looked very much alike.  It was not such a hard task to enter the
opposing lines, but Shepard had shown a daring and success beyond all
comparison.  He seemed to have both the seven league boots and the
invisible cloak of very young childhood.  He came as he pleased, and
when pursuit came he vanished in thin air.

Harry bit his lips in chagrin.  He felt that Shepard had scored on him
again.  It was true that he had been victorious in that fight in the
river, when victory meant so much, but since then Shepard had triumphed,
and it was bitter.  He hardened his determination, and resolved that
he would always be on the watch for him.  He even felt a certain glow,
because he was one of two in such a conflict of skill and courage.

The meeting having been finished, he went down one of the streets of
tents to the camp of the Invincibles.  Colonel Leonidas Talbot and
Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire were not playing chess.  Instead
they were sitting on a pine log with Happy Tom and St. Clair and other
officers, listening to young Julien de Langeais, who sat on another log,
playing a violin with surpassing skill.  Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire,
knowing his prowess as a violinist, had asked him to come and play for
the Invincibles.  Now he was playing for them and for several thousand
more who were gathered in the pine woods.

Young de Langeais sat on a low stump, and the great crowd made a solid
mass around him.  But he did not see them, nor the pine woods nor the
heavy cannon sitting on the ridges.  He looked instead into a region of
fancy, where the colors were brilliant or gay or tender as he imagined
them.  Harry, with no technical knowledge of music but with a great love
of it, recognized at once the touch of a master, and what was more,
the soul of one.

To him the violin was not great, unless the player was great, but when
the player was great it was the greatest musical instrument of all.
He watched de Langeais' wrapt face, and for him too the thousands of
soldiers, the pines and the cannon on the ridges melted away.  He did not
know what the young musician was playing, probably some old French air or
a great lyric outburst of the fiery Verdi, whose music had already spread
through America.

"A great artist," whispered Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire in his ear.
"He studied at the schools in New Orleans and then for two years in
Paris.  But he came back to fight.  Nothing could keep Julien from the
army, but he brought his violin with him.  We Latins, or at least we
who are called Latins, steep our souls in music.  It's not merely
intellectual with us.  It's passion, fire, abandonment, triumph and all
the great primitive emotions of the human race."

Harry's feelings differed somewhat from those of Lieutenant-Colonel
St. Hilaire--in character but not in power--and as young de Langeais
played on he began to think what a loss a stray bullet could make.
Why should a great artist be allowed to come on the battle line? There
were hundreds of thousands of common men.  One could replace another,
but nobody could replace the genius, a genius in which the whole world
shared.  It was not possible for either drill or training to do it,
and yet a little bullet might take away his life as easily as it would
that of a plowboy.  They were all alike to the bullets and the shells.

De Langeais finished, and a great shout of applause arose.  The cheering
became so insistent that he was compelled to play again.

"His family is well-to-do," said Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire just
before he began playing once more, "and they'll see that he goes back to
Paris for study as soon as the war is over.  If they didn't I would."

It did not seem to occur to Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire that young
de Langeais could be killed, and Harry began to share his confidence.
De Langeais now played the simple songs of the old South, and there was
many a tear in the eyes of war-hardened youth.  The sun was setting in
a sea of fire, and the pine forests turned red in its blaze.  In the
distance the waters of the Rapidan were crimson, too, and a light wind
out of the west sighed among the pines, forming a subdued chorus to the
violin.

De Langeais began to play a famous old song of home, and Harry's mind
traveled back on its lingering note to his father's beautiful house and
grounds, close by Pendleton, and all the fine country about it, in which
he and Dick Mason and the boys of their age had roamed.  He remembered
all the brooks and ponds and the groves that produced the best hickory
nuts.  When should he see them again and would his father be there,
and Dick, and all the other boys of their age!  Not all!  Certainly not
all, because some were gone already.  And yet this plaintive note of
the homes they had left behind, while it brought a tear to many an eye,
made no decrease in martial determination.  It merely hardened their
resolution to win the victory all the sooner, and bring the homecoming
march nearer.

De Langeais ended on a wailing note that died like a faint sigh in the
pine forest.  Then he came back to earth, sprang up, and put his violin
in its case.  Applause spread out and swelled in a low, thunderous note,
but de Langeais, who was as modest as he was talented, quickly hid
himself among his friends.

The sun sank behind the blue mountains, and twilight came readily over
the pine and cedar forests.  Colonel Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel
St. Hilaire, who had a large tent together, invited the youths to stay
awhile with them as their guests and talk.  All the soldiers dispersed to
their own portions of the great camp, and there would be an hour of quiet
and rest, until the camp cooks served supper.

It had been a lively day for Harry, his emotions had been much stirred,
and now he was glad to sit in the peace of the evening on a stone near
the entrance of the tent, and listen to his friends.  War drew comrades
together in closer bonds than those of peace.  He was quite sure that
St. Clair, Dalton and Happy Tom were his friends for life, as he was
theirs, and the two colonels seemed to have the same quality of youth.
Simple men, of high faith and honor, they were often childlike in the
ways of the world, their horizons sometimes not so wide as those of the
lads who now sat with them.

"As I told Harry," said Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire to Julien, "you
shall have that talent of yours cultivated further after the war.
Two years more of study and you will be among the greatest.  You must
know, lads, that for us who are of French descent, Paris is the world's
capital in the arts."

"And for many of English blood, too," said Colonel Talbot.

Then they talked of more immediate things, of the war, the armies and
the prospect of the campaigns.  Harry, after an hour or so, returned to
headquarters and he found soldiers making a bed for the commander-in-
chief under the largest of the pines.  Lee in his campaigns always
preferred to sleep in the open air, when he could, and it required severe
weather to drive him to a tent.  Meanwhile he sat by a small fire--
the October nights were growing cold--and talked with Peyton and other
members of his staff.

Harry and Dalton decided to imitate his example and sleep between the
blankets under the pines.  Harry found a soft place, spread his blankets
and in a few minutes slept soundly.  In fact, the whole Army of Northern
Virginia was a great family that retired early, slept well and rose early.

The next morning there was frost on the grass, but the lads were so hardy
that they took no harm.  The autumn deepened.  The leaves blazed for a
while in their most vivid colors and then began to fall under the strong
west winds.  Brown and wrinkled, they often whirled past in clouds.
The air had a bite in it, and the soldiers built more and larger fires.

The Army of Northern Virginia never before had been quiescent so long.
The Army of the Potomac was not such a tremendous distance away, but
it seemed that neither side was willing to attack, and as the autumn
advanced and began to merge into winter the minds of all turned toward
the Southwest.

For the valiant soldiers encamped on the Virginia hills the news was not
good.  Grant, grim and inflexible, was deserving the great name that was
gradually coming to him.  He had gathered together all the broken parts
of the army defeated at Chickamauga and was turning Union defeat into
Union victory.

Winter closed in with the knowledge that Grant had defeated the South
disastrously on Lookout Mountain and all around Chattanooga.  Chickamauga
had gone for nothing, the whole flank of the Confederacy was turned and
the Army of Northern Virginia remained the one great barrier against the
invading legions of the North.  Yet the confidence of the men in that
army remained undimmed.  They felt that on their own ground, and under
such a man as Lee, they were invincible.

In the course of these months Harry, as a messenger and often as a
secretary, was very close to Lee.  He wrote a swift and clear hand,
and took many dispatches.  Almost daily messages were sent in one
direction or another and Harry read from them the thoughts of his leader,
which he kept locked in his breast.  He knew perhaps better than many an
older officer the precarious condition of the Confederacy.  These letters,
which he took from dictation, and the letters from Richmond that he read
to his chief, told him too plainly that the limits of the Confederacy
were shrinking.  Its money declined steadily.  Happy Tom said that he had
to "swap it pound for pound now to the sutlers for groceries."  Yet it
is the historical truth that the heart of the Army of Northern Virginia
never beat with more fearless pride, as the famous and "bloody" year of
'63 was drawing to its close.

The news arrived that Grant, the Sledge Hammer of the West, had been put
by Lincoln in command of all the armies of the Union, and would come
east to lead the Army of the Potomac in person, with Meade still as its
nominal chief, but subject, like all the others, to his command.

Harry heard the report with a thrill.  He knew now that decisive action
would come soon enough.  He had always felt that Meade in front of them
was a wavering foe, and perhaps too cautious.  But Grant was of another
kind.  He was a pounder.  Defeats did not daunt him.  He would attack
and then attack again and again, and the diminishing forces of the
Confederacy were ill fitted to stand up against the continued blows of
the hammer.  Harry's thrill was partly of apprehension, but whenever he
looked at the steadfast face of his chief his confidence returned.

Winter passed without much activity and spring began to show its first
buds.  The earth was drying, after melting snows and icy rains, and Harry
knew that action would not be delayed much longer.  Grant was in the East
now.  He had gone in January to St. Louis to visit his daughter, who
lay there very ill, and then, after military delays, he had reached
Washington.

Harry afterward heard the circumstances of his arrival, so characteristic
of plain and republican America.  He came into Washington by train as a
simple passenger, accompanied only by his son, who was but fourteen years
of age.  They were not recognized, and arriving at a hotel, valise in
hand, with a crowd of passengers, he registered in his turn: "U. S. Grant
and son, Galena, Ill."  The clerk, not noticing the name, assigned the
modest arrival and his boy to a small room on the fifth floor.  Then they
moved away, a porter carrying the valise.  But the clerk happened to look
again at the register, and when he saw more clearly he rushed after them
with a thousand apologies.  He did not expect the victor of great battles,
the lieutenant-general commanding all the armies of the Union, a battle
front of more than a million men, to come so modestly.

When Harry heard the story he liked it.  It seemed to him to be the same
simple and manly quality that he found in Lee, both worthy of republican
institutions.  But he did not have time to think about it long.  The
signs were multiplying that the advance would soon come.  The North had
never ceased to resound with preparations, and Grant would march with
veterans.  All the spies and scouts brought in the same report.  Butler
would move up from Fortress Monroe toward Richmond with thirty thousand
men and Grant with a hundred and fifty thousand would cross the Rapidan,
moving by the right flank of Lee until they could unite and destroy the
Confederacy.  Such was the plan, said the scouts and spies in gray.

Longstreet with his corps had returned from the West and Lee gathered his
force of about sixty thousand men to meet the mighty onslaught--he alone
perhaps divined how mighty it would be--and when he was faced by the
greatest of his adversaries his genius perhaps never shone more brightly.

May and the full spring came.  It was the third day of the month, and the
camp of the Army of Northern Virginia was as usual.  Many of the young
soldiers played games among the trees.  Here and there they lay in groups
on the new grass, singing their favorite songs.  The cooks were preparing
their suppers over the big fires.  Several bands were playing.  Had
it not been for the presence of so many weapons the whole might have
been taken for one vast picnic, but Harry, who sat in the tent of the
commander-in-chief, was writing as fast as he could dispatch after
dispatch that the Southern leader was dictating to him.  He knew
perfectly well, of course, that the commander-in-chief was gathering
his forces and that they would move quickly for battle.  He knew, too,
how inadequate was the equipment of the army.  Only a short time before
he had taken from the dictation of his chief a letter to the President
of the Confederacy a part of which ran:


My anxiety on the subject of provisions for the army is so great that I
cannot refrain from expressing it to your Excellency.  I cannot see how
we can operate with our present supplies.  Any derangement in their
arrival or disaster to the railroad would render it impossible for me to
keep the army together and might force a retreat into North Carolina.
There is nothing to be had in this section for men or animals.  We have
rations for the troops to-day and to-morrow.  I hope a new supply arrived
last night, but I have not yet had a report.


Harry had thought long over this letter and he knew from his own
observation its absolute truth.  The depleted South was no longer able to
feed its troops well.  The abundance of the preceding autumn had quickly
passed, and in winter they were mostly on half rations.

Lee, better than any other man in the whole South, had understood what
lay before them, and his foes both of the battlefield and of the spirit
have long since done him justice.  Less than a week before this eve of
mighty events he had written to a young woman in Virginia, a relative:


I dislike to send letters within reach of the enemy, as they might serve,
if captured, to bring distress on others.  But you must sometimes cast
your thoughts on the Army of Northern Virginia, and never forget it in
your prayers.  It is preparing for a great struggle, but I pray and trust
that the great God, mighty to deliver, will spread over it His Almighty
arms and drive its enemies before it.


Harry had seen this letter before its sending, and he was not surprised
now when Lee was sending messengers to all parts of his army.  With all
the hero-worshiping quality of youth he was once more deeply grateful
that he should have served on the staffs and been brought into close
personal relations with two men, Stonewall Jackson and Lee, who seemed
to him so great.  As he saw it, it was not alone military greatness but
greatness of the soul, which was greater.  Both were deeply religious--
Lee, the Episcopalian, and Jackson, the Presbyterian, and it was a piety
that contained no trace of cant.

Harry felt that the crisis of the great Civil War was at hand.  It had
been in the air all that day, and news had come that Grant had broken up
his camps and was crossing the Rapidan with a huge force.  He knew how
small in comparison was the army that Lee could bring against him,
and yet he had supreme confidence in the military genius of his chief.

He had written a letter with which an aide had galloped away, and then he
sat at the little table in the great tent, pen in hand and ink and paper
before him, but Lee was silent.  He was dressed as usual with great
neatness and care, though without ostentation.  His face had its usual
serious cast, but tinged now with melancholy.  Harry knew that he no
longer saw the tent and those around him.  His mind dwelled for a few
moments upon his own family and the ancient home that he had loved so
well.

The interval was very brief.  He was back in the present, and the
principal generals for whom he had sent were entering the tent.  Hill,
Longstreet, Ewell, Stuart and others came, but they did not stay long.
They talked earnestly with their leader for a little while, and then
every one departed to lead his brigades.

The secretaries put away pen, ink and paper.  Twilight was advancing in
the east and night suddenly fell outside.  The songs ceased, the bands
played no more, and there was only the deep rumble of marching men and
moving cannon.

"We'll ride now, gentlemen," said Lee to his staff.

Traveller, saddled and bridled, was waiting and the commander-in-chief
sprang into the saddle with all the agility of a young man.  The others
mounted, too, Harry and Dalton as usual taking their places modestly in
the rear.

A regiment, small in numbers but famous throughout the army for valor,
was just passing, and its colonel and its lieutenant-colonel, erect men,
riding splendidly, but gray like Lee, drew their swords and gave the
proud and flashing salute of the saber as they went by.  Lee and his
staff almost with involuntary impulse returned the salute in like
fashion.  Then the Invincibles passed on, and were lost from view in the
depths of the forest.

Harry felt a sudden constriction of the heart.  He knew that he might
never see Colonel Leonidas Talbot nor Lieutenant-Colonel Hector
St. Hilaire again, nor St. Clair, nor Happy Tom either.

But his friends could not remain long in his mind at such a time.
They were marching, marching swiftly, the presence of the man on the
great white horse seeming to urge them on to greater speed.  As the stars
came out Lee's brow, which had been seamed by thought, cleared.  His plan
which he had formed in the day was moving well.  His three corps were
bearing away toward the old battlefield of Chancellorsville.  Grant would
be drawn into the thickets of the Wilderness as Hooker had been the year
before, although a greater than Hooker was now leading the Army of the
Potomac.

Harry, who foresaw it all, thrilled and shuddered at the remembrance.
It was in there that the great Jackson had fallen in the hour of supreme
triumph.  Not far away were the heights of Fredericksburg, where Burnside
had led the bravest of the brave to unavailing slaughter.  As Belgium had
been for centuries the cockpit of Europe, so the wild and sterile region
in Virginia that men call the Wilderness became the cockpit of North
America.


While Lee and his army were turning into the Wilderness Grant and the
greatest force that the Union had yet assembled were seeking him.
It was composed of men who had tasted alike of victory and defeat,
veterans skilled in all the wiles and stratagems of war, and with hearts
to endure anything.  In this host was a veteran regiment that had come
East to serve under Grant as it had served under him so valiantly in
the West.  Colonel Winchester rode at its head and beside him rode his
favorite aide, young Richard Mason.  Not far away was Colonel Hertford,
with a numerous troop of splendid cavalry.

Grant, alert and resolved to win, carried in his pocket a letter which he
had received from Lincoln, saying:


Not expecting to see you before the spring campaign opens, I wish to
express in this way my entire satisfaction with what you have done up to
this time, so far as I understand it.  The particulars of your plans I
neither know nor seek to know.  You are vigilant and self-reliant, and,
pleased with this, I wish not to obtrude any constraints or restraints
upon you.  While I am very anxious that any great disaster or the capture
of our men in great numbers should be avoided, I know these points are
less likely to escape your attention than they would mine.  If there is
anything wanting which is within my power to give, do not fail to let me
know it.  And now, with a brave army and a just cause, may God sustain
you.


A noble letter, breathing the loftiest spirit, and showing that moral
grandeur which has been so characteristic of America's greatest men.
He had put all in Grant's hands and he had given to him an army, the
like of which had never been seen until now on the American continent.
Never before had the North poured forth its wealth and energy in such
abundance.

Four thousand wagons loaded with food and ammunition followed the army,
and there was a perfect system by which a wagon emptied of its contents
was sent back to a depot to be refilled, while a loaded wagon took its
place at the front.  Complete telegram equipments, poles, wires,
instruments and all were carried with every division.  The wires could be
strung easily and the lieutenant-general could talk to every part of his
army.  There were, also, staffs of signalmen, in case the wires should
fail at any time.  Grant held in his hand all the resources of the North,
and if he could not win no one could.

All through the night the hostile armies marched, and before them went
the spies and scouts.




CHAPTER XIV

THE GHOSTLY RIDE


Harry and Dalton kept close together during the long hours of the ghostly
ride.  Just ahead of them were Taylor and Marshall and Peyton, and in
front Lee rode in silence.  Now and then they passed regiments, and at
other times they would halt and let regiments pass them.  Then the troops,
seeing the man sitting on the white horse, would start to cheer, but
always their officers promptly subdued it, and they marched on feeling
more confident than ever that their general was leading them to victory.

Many hours passed and still the army marched through the forests.
The trees, however, were dwindling in size and even in the night they
saw that the earth was growing red and sterile.  Dense thickets grew
everywhere, and the marching became more difficult.  Harry felt a sudden
thrill of awe.

"George," he whispered, "do you know the country into which we're riding?"

"I think I do, Harry.  It's the Wilderness."

"It can't be anything else, George, because I see the ghosts."

"What are you talking about, Harry?  What ghosts?"

"The thousands and thousands who have fallen in that waste.  Why the
Wilderness is so full of dead men that they must walk at night to give
one another room.  I only hope that the ghost of Old Jack will ride
before us and show us the way."

"I almost feel like that, too," admitted Dalton, who, however, was of a
less imaginative mind than Harry.  "As sure as I'm sitting in the saddle
we're bound for the Wilderness.  Now, what is the day going to give us?"

"Marching mostly, I think, and with the next noon will come battle.
Grant doesn't hesitate and hold back.  We know that, George."

"No, it's not his character."

Morning came and found them still in the forests, seeking the deep
thickets of the Wilderness, and Grant, warned by his scouts and spies,
and most earnestly by one whose skill, daring and judgment were unequaled,
turned from his chosen line of march to meet his enemy.  Once more Lee
had selected the field of battle, where his inferiority in numbers would
not count so much against him.

It was nearly morning when the march ceased, and officers and troops,
save those on guard, lay down in the forest for rest.  Harry, a seasoned
veteran, could sleep under any conditions and with a blanket over him and
a saddle for a pillow closed his eyes almost immediately.  Lee and his
older aides, Taylor and Peyton and Marshall, slept also.  Around them the
brigades, too, lay sleeping.

A while before dawn a large man in Confederate uniform, using the soft,
lingering speech of the South, appeared almost in the center of the army
of Northern Virginia.  He knew all the pass words and told the officers
commanding the watch that the wing under Ewell was advancing more rapidly
than any of the others.  Inside the line he could go about almost as he
chose, and one could see little of him, save that he was large of figure
and deeply tanned, like all the rest.

He approached the little opening in which Lee and his staff lay, although
he kept back from the sentinels who watched over the sleeping leader.
But Shepard knew that it was the great Confederate chieftain who lay in
the shadow of the oak and he could identify him by the glances of the
sentinels so often directed toward the figure.

There were wild thoughts for a moment or two in the mind of Shepard.
A single bullet fired by an unerring hand would take from the Confederacy
its arm and brain, and then what happened to himself afterward would not
matter at all.  And the war would be over in a month or two.  But he put
the thought fiercely from him.  A spy he was and in his heart proud of
his calling, but no such secret bullet could be fired by him.

He turned away from the little opening, wandered an hour through the camp
and then, diving into the deep bushes, vanished like a shadow through the
Confederate lines, and was gone to Grant to report that Lee's army was
advancing swiftly to attack, and that the command of Ewell would come in
touch with him first.

Not long after dawn Harry was again on the march, riding behind his
general.  From time to time Lee sent messengers to the various divisions
of his army, four in number, commanded by Longstreet, Early, Hill and
Stuart, the front or Stuart's composed of cavalry.  Harry's own time came,
when he received a dispatch of the utmost importance to take to Ewell.
He memorized it first, and, if capture seemed probable, he was to tear
it into bits and throw it away.  Harry was glad he was to go to Ewell.
In the great campaign in the valley he had been second to Jackson,
his right arm, as Jackson had been Lee's right arm.  Ewell had lost a leg
since then, and his soldiers had to strap him in the saddle when he led
them into battle, but he was as daring and cheerful as ever, trusted
implicitly by Lee.

Harry with a salute to his chief rode away.  Part of the country was
familiar to him and in addition his directions were so explicit that he
could not miss the way.

The four divisions of the army were in fairly close touch, but in a
country of forests and many waters Northern scouts might come between,
and he rode with caution, his hand ever near the pistol in his belt.
The midday sun however clouded as the afternoon passed on.  The thickets
and forests grew more dense.  From the distance came now and then the
faint, sweet call of a trumpet, but everything was hidden from sight by
the dense tangle of the Wilderness, a wilderness as wild and dangerous as
any in which Henry Ware had ever fought.  How it all came back to him!
Almost exactly a year ago he had ridden into it with Jackson and here the
armies were gathering again.

Imagination, fancy, always so strong in him, leaped into vivid life.
The year had not passed and he was riding to meet Stonewall Jackson,
who was somewhere ahead, preparing for his great curve about Hooker and
the lightning stroke at Chancellorsville.  Rabbits sprang out of the
undergrowth and fled away before his horse's hoofs.  In the lonely
wilderness, which nevertheless had little to offer to the hunter, birds
chattered from every tree.  Small streams flowed slowly between dense
walls of bushes.  Here and there in the protection of the thickets wild
flowers were in early bloom.

It was spring, fresh spring everywhere, but the bushes and the grass
alike were tinged with red for Harry.  The strange mental illusion that
he was riding to Chancellorsville remained with him and he did not seek
to shake it off.  He almost expected to see Old Jack ahead on a hill,
bent over a little, and sitting on Little Sorrel, with the old slouch hat
drawn over his eyes.  They had talked of the ghost of Jackson leading
them in the Wilderness.  He shivered.  Could it be so?  All the time he
knew it was an illusion, but he permitted it to cast its spell over him,
as one who dreams knowingly.

And Harry was dreaming back.  Old Jack, the earlier of his two heroes,
was leading them.  He foresaw the long march through the thickets of the
Wilderness, Stonewall forming the line of battle in the deep roads late
in the evening, almost in sight of Hooker's camp, the sudden rush of his
brigades and then the terrible battle far into the night.

He shook himself.  It was uncanny.  The past was the past.  Dreams
were thin and vanished stuff.  Once more he was in the present and saw
clearly.  Old Jack was gone to take his place with the great heroes of
the past, but the Army of Northern Virginia was there, with Lee leading
them, and the most formidable of all the Northern chiefs with the most
formidable of all the Northern armies was before them.

He heard the distant thud of hoofs and with instinctive caution drew back
into a dense clump of bushes.  A half-dozen horsemen were near and their
eager looks in every direction told Harry that they were scouts.  There
was little difference then between a well worn uniform of blue or gray,
and they were very close before Harry was able to tell that they belonged
to Grant's army.

He was devoutly glad that his horse was trained thoroughly and stood
quite still while the Northern scouts passed.  A movement of the bushes
would have attracted their attention, and he did not wish to be captured
at any time, least of all on the certain eve of a great battle.  After a
battle he always felt an extra regret for those who had fallen, because
they would never know whether they had won or lost.

They were alert, keen and vigorous men, or lads rather, as young as
himself, and they rode as if they had been Southern youths almost born
in the saddle.  Harry was not the only one to notice how the Northern
cavalry under the whip hand of defeat had improved so fast that it was
now a match, man for man, for that of the South.

The young riders rode on and the tread of their hoofs died in the
undergrowth.  Then Harry emerged from his own kindly clump of bushes and
increased his speed, anxious to reach Ewell, without any more of those
encounters.  He made good progress through the thickets, and soon after
sundown saw a glow which he took to be that of campfires.  He advanced
cautiously, met the Southern sentinels and knew that he was right.

The very first of these sentinels was an old soldier of Jackson, who knew
him well.

"Mr. Kenton!" he exclaimed.

"Yes, Thorn!  It's you!" said Harry without hesitation.

The soldier was pleased that he should be recognized thus in the dusk,
and he was still more pleased when the young aide leaned down and shook
his hand.

"I might have known, Thorn, that I'd find you here, rifle on your arm,
watching," he said.

"Thank you, Mr. Kenton.  You'll find the general over there on a log by
the fire."

Harry dismounted, gave his horse to a soldier and walked into the glade.
Ewell sat alone, his crutch under his arms, his one foot kicking back the
coals, his bald head a white disc in the glow.

"General Ewell, sir," said Harry.

General Ewell turned about and when he saw Harry his face clearly showed
gladness.  He could not rise easily, but he stretched out a welcoming
hand.

"Ah! Kenton," he said, "you're a pleasant sight to tired eyes like mine.
You bring back the glorious old days in the valley.  So it's a message
from the commander-in-chief?"

"Yes, sir.  Here it is."

Ewell read it rapidly by the firelight and smiled.

"He tells us we're nearest to the enemy," he said, "and to hold fast,
if we're attacked.  You're to remain with us and report what happens,
but doubtless you knew all this."

"Yes, I had to commit it to memory before I started."

"Then stay here with me.  I may want to report to General Lee at any
time.  The enemy is in our front only three or four miles away.  He knows
we're here and it was a villainous surprise to him to find us in his way.
They say this man Grant is a pounder.  So is Lee, when the time comes to
pound, but he's that and far more.  I tell you, young man, that General
Lee has had to trim a lot of Northern generals.  McClellan and Pope and
Burnside and Hooker and Meade have been going to school to him, and now
Grant is qualifying for his class."

"But Grant is a great general.  So our men in the West themselves say."

"He may be, but Lee is greater, greatest.  And, Harry, you and I, who
knew him and loved him, wish that another who alone was fit to ride by
his side was here with him."

"I wish it from the bottom of my heart," said Harry.

"Well, well, regrets are useless.  Help me up, Harry.  I'm only part of a
man, but I can still fight."

"We saw you do that at Gettysburg," said Harry, as he put his arm under
Ewell's shoulder.  Then Ewell took his crutch and they walked to the far
side of the glade, where several officers of his staff gathered around
him.

"Lieutenant Kenton, whom you all know," said General Ewell, "has brought
a message from the commander-in-chief that we will be attacked first,
and to be on guard.  We consider it an honor, do we not, my lads?"

"Yes, let them come," they said.

"Harry, you may want to see the enemy.  Clayton, you and Campbell take
him forward through the pickets.  But don't go too far.  We don't want
to lose three perfectly good young officers before the battle begins.
After that it may be your business to get yourselves shot."

The two rode nearly two miles to the crest of a hill and then, using
their strong glasses in the moonlight, they were able to see the lights
of a vast camp.

"We hear that it is Warren's corps," said Clayton.  "As General Ewell
doubtless has told you, the enemy know that we're in front, but I don't
believe they know our exact location.  I believe we'll be in battle with
those men in the morning."

Harry thought so too.  In truth, it was inevitable.  Warren would advance
and Ewell would stand in his way.  Yet he slept soundly when he went back
to camp, although he was awakened long before dawn the next day.  Then he
ate breakfast, mounted and sat his horse not far away from Ewell, whom
two soldiers had strapped into his saddle, and who was watching with
eager eyes for the sunrise.

Harry, listening intently, heard no sound in front of them, save the wind
rippling through the dwarfed forests of the Wilderness, and he knew that
no battle had yet begun elsewhere.  Sound would come far on that placid
May morning, and it was a certainty that Ewell was nearest to contact
with the enemy.

But Ewell did not yet move.  All his men had been served with early
breakfast, such as it was, and remained in silent masses, partly hidden
by the forest and thickets.  The dawn was cold, and Harry felt a little
chill, but it soon passed, as the red edge of the sun showed over the
eastern border of the Wilderness.  Then the light spread toward the
zenith, but the golden glow failed to penetrate the somber thickets.

"It's going to be a good day," said Harry to an aide.

"A good day for a battle."

"We'll hear from the Yankees soon.  They can't fail to discover our exact
location by sunrise, and they'll fight.  Be sure of that."

It was now nearly six o'clock, and General Ewell, growing impatient,
rode forward a little.  Harry followed with his staff.  A half-dozen
Southern sharpshooters rose suddenly out of the thickets, and one of them
dared to lay his hands on the reins of the general's horse.  But Ewell
was not offended.  He looked down at the man and said:

"What is it, Strother?"

"Riflemen of the enemy are not more than three or four hundred yards
away.  If you go much farther, General, they will certainly see you and
fire upon you."

"Thanks, Strother.  So they've located us?"

"They're about to do it.  They're feeling around.  We've seen 'em in the
bushes.  We ask you not to go on, General.  We wouldn't know what to do
without you.  There, sir!  They're firing on our pickets!"

A half-dozen shots came from the front, and then a half-dozen or so
in reply.  Harry saw pink flashes, and then spirals of smoke rising.
More shots were fired presently on their right, and then others on their
left.  The Northern riflemen were evidently on a long line, and intended
to make a thorough test of their enemy's strength.  Harry had no doubt
that Shepard was there.  He would surely come to the point where his
enemy was nearest, and his eyes and ears would be the keenest of all.

The little skirmish continued for a few minutes, extending along a
winding line of nearly a mile through the thickets.  Only two or three
were wounded and nobody killed on the Southern side.  Harry understood
thoroughly, as Ewell had said, that the sharpshooters of the enemy were
merely feeling for them.  They wanted to know if a strong force was there,
and now they knew.

The firing ceased, not in dying shots, but abruptly.  The Wilderness in
front of them returned to silence, broken only by the rippling leaves.
Harry knew that the Northern sharpshooters had discovered all they wanted,
and were now returning to their leaders.

Ewell turned his horse and rode back toward the main camp, his staff
following.  The cooking fires had been put out, the lines were formed
and every gun was in position.  As little noise as possible was allowed,
while they waited for Grant; not for Grant himself, but for one of his
lieutenants, pushed forward by his master hand.

Harry and most of the staff officers dismounted, holding their horses by
the bridle.  The young lieutenant often searched the thickets with his
glasses, but he saw nothing.  Nevertheless he knew that the enemy would
come.  Grant having set out to find his foe, would never draw back when
he found him.

A much longer period of silence than he had expected passed.  The sun,
flaming red, was moving on toward the zenith, and no sounds of battle
came from either right or left.  The suspense became acute, almost
unbearable, and it was made all the more trying by the blindness of that
terrible forest.  Harry felt at times as if he would rather fight in the
open fields; but he knew that his commander-in-chief was right when he
drew Grant into the shades of the Wilderness.

When the suspense became so great that heavy weights seemed to be
pressing upon his nerves, rifle shots were fired in front, and
skirmishers uttered the long, shrill rebel yell.  Then above both shots
and shouts rose the far, clear call of a bugle.

"Here they come!" Harry heard Ewell say to himself, and the next moment
the sound of human voices was drowned in the thunder of great guns and
the crash of fifty thousand rifles.  The battle was so sudden and the
charge so swift that it seemed to leap into full volume in an instant.
Warren, a resolute and daring general, led the Northern column and it
struck with such weight and force that the Southern division was driven
back.  Harry felt it yielding, as if the ground were sliding under his
feet.

There was so much flame and smoke that he could not see well, but the
sensation of slipping was distinct.  General Ewell was near him, shouting
orders.  His hat had fallen off, and his round, bald head had turned red,
either from the rush of blood or the cannon's glare.  It shone like a red
dome, but Harry knew that there was no better man in such a crisis than
this veteran lieutenant of Stonewall Jackson.

The Wilderness, usually so silent, was an inferno now.  The battle,
despite its tremendous beginning, increased in violence and fury.
Although Grant himself was not there, the spirit that had animated him
at Shiloh and Vicksburg was.  He had communicated it to his generals,
and Warren brought every ounce of his strength into action.  The long
line of his bayonets gleamed through the thickets and the Northern
artillery, superb as usual, rained shells upon the Southern army.

Ewell's men, fighting with all the courage and desperation that they had
shown on so many a field, were driven back further and further.  Ewell,
strapped in his saddle, flourishing his sword, his round, bald head
glowing, rode among them, bidding them to stand, that help would soon
come.  They continued to go backward, but those veterans of so many
campaigns never lost cohesion nor showed sign of panic.  Their own
artillery and rifles replied in full volume.  The heads of the charging
columns were blown away, but other men took their places, and Warren's
force came on with undiminished fire and strength.

Harry wondered if the attack at other points had been made with such
impetuosity, but there was such a roar and crash about him that it was
impossible to hear sounds of battle elsewhere.  Men were falling very
fast, but the general was unharmed, and neither the young lieutenant nor
his horse was touched.

A sudden shout arose, and it was immediately followed by the piercing
rebel yell, swelling wild and fierce above the tumult of the battle.
Help was coming.  Regiments in gray were charging down the paths and on
the left flank rose the thunder of hoofs as a formidable body of cavalry
under Sherburne, sabers aloft, swept down on the Northern flank.

Ewell's entire division stopped its retreat and, reinforced by the new
men, charged directly upon the Northern bayonets.  Men met almost face to
face.  The saplings and bushes were mown down by cannon and rifles and
the air was full of bursting shells.  From time to time Ewell's men
uttered their fierce, defiant yell, and with a great bound of the heart
Harry saw that they were gaining.  Warren was being driven back.  Two of
his cannon were captured already, and the Southern men, feeling the glow
of the advance after retreat, charged again and again, reckless of death.
But Harry soon saw that ultimate victory here would rest with the South.
The troops of Warren, exhausted by their early rush, were driven from
one position to another by the seasoned veterans who faced them.  The
Confederates retained the captured cannon and thrust harder and harder.
It became obvious that Warren must soon fall back to the main Northern
line, and though the battle was still raging with great fury Ewell
beckoned Harry to him.

"Don't stay here any longer," he shouted in his ear.  "Ride to General
Lee and tell him we're victorious at this point for the day at least!"

Harry saluted and galloped away through the thickets.  Behind him the
battle still roared and thundered.  A stray shell burst just in front of
him, and another just behind him, but he and his horse were untouched.
Once or twice he glanced back and it looked as if the Wilderness were on
fire, but he knew that it was instead the blaze of battle.  He saw also
that Ewell was still moving forward, winning more ground, and his heart
swelled with gladness.

How proud Jackson would have been had he been able to see the valor and
skill of his old lieutenant!  Perhaps his ghost did really hover over
the Wilderness, where a year before he had fallen in the moment of
his greatest triumph!  Harry urged his horse into a gallop.  All his
faculties now became acute.  He was beyond the zone of fire, but the roar
of the battle behind him seemed as loud as ever.  Yet it was steadily
moving back on the main Union lines, and there could be no doubt of
Ewell's continued success.

The curves of the low hills and the thick bushes hid everything from
Harry's sight, as he rode swiftly through the winding paths of the
Wilderness.  When the tumult sank at last he heard a new thunder in front
of him, and now he knew that the Southern center under Hill had been
attacked also, and with the greatest fierceness.

As Harry approached, the roar of the second battle became terrific.
Uncertain where General Lee would now be, he rode through the sleet of
steel, and found Hill engaged with the very flower of the Northern army.
Hancock, the hero of Gettysburg, was making desperate exertions to crush
him, pouring in brigade after brigade, while Sheridan, regardless of
thickets, made charge after charge with his numerous cavalry.

Harry remained in the rear on his horse, watching this furious struggle.
The day had become much darker, either from clouds or the vast volume of
smoke, and the thickets were so dense that the officers often could not
see their enemy at all, only their own men who stood close to them.
The struggle was vast, confused, carried on under appalling conditions.
The charging horsemen were sometimes swept from the saddle by bushes and
not by bullets.  Infantrymen stepped into a dark ooze left by spring
rains, and pulling themselves out, charged, black to the waist with mud.
Sometimes the field pieces became mired, and men and horses together
dragged them to firmer ground.

Grant here, as before Ewell, continually reinforced his veterans, but
Hill, although he was not able to advance, held fast.  The difficult
nature of the ground that Lee had chosen helped him.  In marsh and
thickets it was impossible for the more numerous enemy to outflank him.
Harry saw Hill twice, a slender man, who had suffered severe wounds but
one of the greatest fighters in the Southern army.  He had been ordered
to hold the center, and Harry knew now that he would do it, for the day
at least.  Night was not very far away, and Grant was making no progress.

He rode on in search of Lee and before he was yet beyond the range of
fire he met Dalton, mounted and emerging from the smoke.

"The commander-in-chief, where is he?" asked Harry.

"On a little hill not far from here, watching the battle.  I'm just
returning with a dispatch from Hill."

"I saw that Hill was holding his ground."

"So my dispatch says, and it says also that he will continue to hold it.
You come from Ewell?"

"Yes, and he has done more than stand fast.  He was driven back at first,
but when reinforcements came he drove Warren back in his turn, and took
guns and prisoners."

"The chief will be glad to hear it.  We'll ride together.  Look out for
your horse!  He may go knee deep into mire at any time.  Harry, the
Wilderness looks even more somber to me than it did a year ago when we
fought Chancellorsville."

"I feel the same way about it.  But see, George, how they're fighting!
General Hill is making a great resistance!"

"Never better.  But if you look over those low bushes you can see General
Lee on the hill."

Harry made out the figure of Lee on Traveller, outlined against the sky,
with about a dozen men sitting on their horses behind him.  He hurried
forward as fast as he could.  The commander-in-chief was reading a
dispatch, while the fierce struggle in the thickets was going on, but
when Harry saluted and Marshall told him that he had come to report the
general put away the dispatch and said:

"What news from General Ewell?"

"General Ewell was at first borne back by the enemy's numbers, but when
help came he returned to the charge, and has been victorious.  He has
gained much ground."

A gleam of triumph shot from Lee's eyes, usually so calm.

"Well done, Ewell!" he said.  "The loss of a leg has not dimmed his ardor
or judgment.  I truly believe that if he were to lose the other one also
he would still have himself strapped into the saddle and lead his men to
victory.  We thank you for the news you have brought, Lieutenant Kenton."

He put his glasses to his eyes and Harry and Dalton as usual withdrew to
the rear of the staff.  But they used their glasses also, bringing nearer
to them the different phases of the battle, which now raged through
the Wilderness.  They saw at some points the continuous blaze of guns,
and the acrid powder smoke, lying low, was floating through all the
thickets.

But Harry now knew that the combat, however violent and fierce, was only
a prelude.  The sun was already setting, and they could not fight at
night in those wild thickets, where men and guns would become mired
and tangled beyond extrication.  The great struggle, with both leaders
hurling in their full forces, would come on the morrow.

The sun already hung very low, and in the twilight and smoke the savagery
of the Wilderness became fiercer than ever.  The dusk gathered around Lee,
but his erect figure and white horse still showed distinctly through it.
Harry, his spirit touched by the tremendous scenes in the very center
of which he stood, regarded him with a fresh measure of respect and
admiration.  He was the bulwark of the Confederacy, and he did not doubt
that on the morrow he would stop Grant as he had stopped the others.

The darkness increased, sweeping down like a great black pall over the
Wilderness.  The battle in the center and on the left died.  Lee and his
staff dismounting, prepared for the labors of the night.




CHAPTER XV

THE WILDERNESS


When night settled down over the Wilderness the two armies lay almost
face to face on a long line.  The preliminary battle, on the whole,
had favored the Confederacy.  Hill had held his ground and Ewell had
gained, but Grant had immense forces, and, though naturally kind of heart,
he had made up his mind to strike and keep on striking, no matter what
the loss.  He could afford to lose two men where the Confederacy lost one.

Harry, like many others, felt that this would be the great Northern
general's plan.  To-morrow's battle might end in Southern success,
but Grant would be there to fight the following day with undiminished
resolution.  He was as sure of this as he was sure that the day would
come.

The night itself was somber and sinister, the heavens dusky and a raw
chill in the air.  Heavy vapors rose from the marshes, and clouds of
smoke from the afternoon's battle floated about over the thickets,
poisoning the air as if with gas, and making the men cough as they
breathed it.  It made Harry's heart beat harder than usual, and his head
felt as if it were swollen.  Everything seemed clothed in a black mist
with a slightly reddish tint.

A small fire had been built in a sheltered place for the commander-in-
chief and his staff, and the cooks were preparing the supper, which was
of the simplest kind.  While they ate the food and drank their coffee,
the darkness increased, with the faint lights of other fires showing here
and there through it.  Around the muddy places frogs croaked in defiance
of armies, and, from distant points, came the crackling fire of
skirmishers prowling in the dusk.

Harry's horse, saddled and bridled, was tied to a bush not far away.
He knew that it was to be no night of rest for him, or any other member
of the staff.  Lee would be sending messages continually.  Longstreet,
although he had been marching hard, was not yet up on the right, and he
and his veterans must be present when the shock of Grant's mighty attack
came in the morning.

Hill, thin and pale, yet suffering from the effects of his wounds,
but burning as usual with the fire of battle, rode up and consulted long
and earnestly with Lee.  Presently he went back to his own place nearer
the center, and then Lee began to send away his staff one by one with
messages.  Harry was among the last to go, but he bore a dispatch to
Longstreet.

He had heard that Longstreet had criticized Lee for ordering Pickett's
famous charge at Gettysburg, but if so, Lee had taken no notice of it,
and Longstreet had proved himself the same stalwart fighter as of old.
He and the prompt arrival of his veterans had enabled Bragg to win
Chickamauga, and it was not Longstreet's fault that the advantage gained
there was lost afterward.  Now Harry knew that he would be up in time
with his seasoned veterans.

As the young lieutenant rode away he saw General Lee walking back and
forth before the low fire, his hands clasped behind him, and his eyes
as serious as those of any human being could be.  Harry appreciated the
immensity of his task, and in his heart was a sincere pity for the man
who bore so great a burden.  He was familiar with the statement that to
Lee had been offered the command of the Northern armies at the beginning
of the war, but believing his first duty was to his State he had gone
with Virginia when Virginia reluctantly went out of the Union.  Truly no
one could regret the war more than he, and yet he had struck giant blows
for its success.

A moment more and the tall figure standing beside the low fire was
lost to sight.  Then Harry rode among the thickets in the rear of the
Confederate line and it was a weird and ghastly ride.  Now and then his
horse's feet sank in mud, and the frogs still dared to croak around the
pools, making on such a night the most ominous of all sounds.  It seemed
a sort of funeral dirge for both North and South, a croak telling of the
ruin and death that were to come on the morrow.

Damp boughs swept across his face, and the vapors, rising from the earth
and mingled with the battle smoke, were still bitter to the tongue and
poisonous to the breath.  Rotten logs crushed beneath his horse's feet
and Harry felt a shiver as if the hoofs had cut through a body of the
dead.  Riflemen rose out of the thickets, but he always gave them the
password, and rode on without stopping.

Then came a space where he met no human being, the gap between Hill and
Longstreet, and now the Wilderness became incredibly lonely and dreary.
Harry felt that if ever a region was haunted by ghosts it was this.
The dead of last year's battle might be lying everywhere, and as the
breeze sprang up the melancholy thickets waved over them.

He was two-thirds of the way toward the point where he expected to find
Longstreet when he heard the sough of a hoof in the mud behind him.

Harry listened and hearing the hoof again he was instantly on his guard.
He did not know it, but the character of the night and the wild aspect of
the Wilderness were bringing out all the primeval and elemental qualities
in his nature.  He was the great borderer, Henry Ware, in the Indian-
haunted forest, feeling with a sixth sense, even a seventh sense, the
presence of danger.

He was following a path, scarcely traceable, used by charcoal burners and
wood-cutters, but when he heard the hoof a second time he turned aside
into the deepest of the thickets and halted there.  The hoofbeat came a
third time, a little nearer, and then no more.  Evidently the horseman
behind him knew that he had turned aside, and was waiting and watching.
He was surely an enemy of great skill and boldness, and it was equally
sure that he was Shepard.  Harry never felt a doubt that he was pursued
by the formidable Union spy, and he felt too that he had never been in
greater danger, as Shepard at such a moment would not spare his best
friend.

But he was not afraid.  Danger had become so common that one looked upon
it merely as a risk.  Moreover, he was never cooler or more ample of
resource.  He dismounted softly, standing beside his horse's head,
holding the reins with one hand and a heavy pistol with the other.
He suspected that Shepard would do the same, but he believed that his
eyes and ears were the keener.  The man must have been inside the
Confederate lines all the afternoon.  Probably he had seen Harry riding
away, and, deftly appropriating a horse, had followed him.  There was
no end to Shepard's ingenuity and daring.

Harry's horse was trained to stand still indefinitely, and the young man,
with the heavy pistol, who held the reins was also immovable.  The
silence about him was so deep that Harry could hear the frogs croaking
at a distant pool.

He waited a full five minutes, and now, like the wild animals, he relied
more upon ear than eye.  He had learned the faculty of concentration and
he bent all his powers upon his hearing.  Not the slightest sound could
escape the tightly drawn drums of his ears.

He was motionless a full ten minutes.  Nor did the horse beside him stir.
It was a test of human endurance, the capacity to keep himself absolutely
silent, but with every nerve attuned, while he waited for an invisible
danger.  And those minutes were precious, too.  The value of not a single
one of them could have been measured or weighed.  It was his duty to
reach Longstreet at speed, because the general and his veterans must be
in line in the morning, when the battle was joined.  Yet the incessant
duel between Shepard and himself was at its height again, and he did not
yet see how he could end it.

Harry felt that it must be essentially a struggle of patience, but when
he waited a few minutes longer, the idea to wait with ears close to the
earth, one of the oldest devices of primitive man, occurred to him.
It was fairly dry in the bushes, and he lay down, pressing his ear to the
soil.  Then he heard a faint sound, as if some one crawling through the
grass, like a wild animal stalking its prey.  It was Shepard, of course,
and then Harry planned his campaign.  Shepard had left his horse, and was
endeavoring to reach him by stealth.

Leaving his own horse, he crept a little to the right, and then rising
carefully in another thicket he picked out every dark spot in the gloom.
He made out presently the figure of a riderless horse, standing partly
behind the trunk of an oak, larger than most of those that grew in the
Wilderness.

Harry knew that it was Shepard's mount and that Shepard himself was some
distance in front of it creeping toward the thicket which he supposed
sheltered his foe.  There was barely enough light for Harry to see the
horse's head and regretfully he raised his heavy pistol.  But it had to
be done, and when his aim was true he pulled the trigger.

The report of the pistol was almost like the roar of a cannon in the
desolate Wilderness and made Harry himself jump.  Then he promptly threw
himself flat upon his face.  Shepard's answering fire came from a point
about thirty yards in front of the horse, and the bullet passed very
close over Harry's head.  It was a marvelous shot to be made merely at
the place from which a sound had come.  It all passed in a flash, and
the next moment Harry heard the sound of a horse falling and kicking a
little.  Then it too was still.

He remained only a half minute in the grass.  Then he began to creep back,
curving a little in his course, toward his own horse.  He did not believe
that Shepard's faculty of hearing was as keen as his own, and he moved
with the greatest deftness.  He relied upon the fact that Shepard had not
yet located the horse, and if Harry could reach it quickly it would not
be hard for him, a mounted man, to leave behind Shepard, dismounted.
It might be possible, too, that Shepard had gone back to see about his
own horse, not knowing that it was slain.

He saw the dusky outline of his horse, and, rising, made two or three
jumps.  Then he snatched the rein loose, sprang upon his back, and lying
down upon his neck to avoid bullets, crashed away, reckless of bushes and
briars.  He heard one bullet flying near him, but he laughed in delight
and relief as his horse sped on toward Longstreet.

He did not diminish his speed until he had gone two or three miles,
and then, knowing that Shepard had been left hopelessly behind, even
if he had attempted pursuit, he brought his horse down to a walk, and
laughed.  There was a bit of nervous excitement in the laugh.  He had
outwitted Shepard again.  He had never seen the man, but it did not enter
his mind that it was not he.  Each had scored largely over the other from
time to time, but Harry believed that he was at least even.

He steadied his nerves now and rode calmly toward Longstreet, coming soon
upon his scouts, who informed him that the heavy columns were not far
behind, marching with stalwart step to their appointed place in the line.
But it was Harry's business to see Longstreet himself, and he continued
his way toward the center of the division, where they told him the
general could be found.

He rode forward and in the moonlight recognized Longstreet at once,
a heavy-set, bearded man, mounted on a strong bay horse.  He had a very
small staff, and he was first to notice the young lieutenant advancing.
He knew Harry well, having seen him with Lee at Gettysburg and with
Jackson before.  He stopped and said abruptly:

"You come from the commander-in-chief, do you not?"

"Yes, sir," replied Harry, "and I've been coming as fast as I could."

He did not deem it necessary to say anything about his encounter with
Shepard.

"There has been heavy fighting.  What are his orders?"

Harry told him, also giving him a written message, which the general read
by the light of a torch an aide held.

"You can tell General Lee that all my men will be in position for battle
before dawn," said the Georgian crisply.

Even as he spoke, Harry heard the heavy, regular tread of the brigades
marching forward through the Wilderness.  He saluted General Longstreet.

"I shall return at once with your message," he said.

But Harry, having had one such experience, was resolved not to risk
another.  He would make a wider circuit in the rear of the army.  Shepard,
on foot, and anxious to avenge his defeat, might be waiting for him,
but he would go around him.  So when he started back he made a wide curve,
and soon was in the darkness and silence again.

He had a good horse and his idea of direction being very clear he rode
swiftly in the direction he had chosen.  But his curve was so great that
when he reached the center of it he was so far in the rear of the army
that no sound came from it.  If the skirmishers were still firing the
reports of their rifles were lost in the distance.  Where he rode the
only noises were those made by the wild animals that inhabited the
Wilderness, creatures that had settled back into their usual haunts after
the armies had passed beyond.

Once a startled deer sprang from a clump of bushes and crashed away
through the thickets.  Rabbits darted from his path, and an owl,
wondering what all the disturbance was about, hooted mournfully from a
bough.

Long before dawn Harry reached the Southern sentinels in the center and
was then passed to General Lee, who remained at the same camp, sitting on
a log by some smothered coals.  Several other members of his staff had
returned already, and the general, looking up when Harry came forward,
merely said:

"Well!"

"I have seen General Longstreet, sir," said Harry, "and he bids me tell
you that he and his men will be in position before dawn.  He was nearly
up when I left, and he has also sent you this note."

He handed the note to General Lee, who, bending low over the coals,
read it.

"Everything goes well," he said with satisfaction.  "We shall be ready
for them.  What time is it, Peyton?"

"Five minutes past four o'clock, sir."

"Then I think the attack should come within an hour."

"Perhaps before daybreak, sir."

"Perhaps.  And even after the sun begins to rise it will be like twilight
in this gloomy place."

Grant, in truth, prompt and ready as always, had ordered the advance to
be begun at half-past four, but Meade, asking more time for arrangements
and requesting that it be delayed until six, he had consented to a
postponement until five o'clock and no more.

Harry had one more message to carry, a short distance only, and on his
return he found the Invincibles posted on the commander-in-chief's right,
and not more than two hundred yards away.

"You must be a body guard for the general," he said to Colonel Leonidas
Talbot.

"There could be no greater honor for the Invincibles, nor could General
Lee have a better guard."

"I'm sure of that, sir."

"What's happening, Harry?  Tell us what's been going on in the night!"

"Our line of battle has been formed.  General Longstreet and his men on
the right are soon to be in touch with General Hill.  I returned from him
a little while ago.  I can't yet smell the dawn, but I think the battle
will come before then."

Harry rode back and resumed his place beside Dalton.  The troops
everywhere were on their feet, cannon and rifles ready, because it was a
certainty that the two armies would meet very early.

In fact, the Army of Northern Virginia began to slide slowly forward.
It was not the habit of these troops to await attack.  Lee nearly always
had taken the offensive, and the motion of his men was involuntary.
They felt that the enemy was there and they must go to meet him.

"What time is it now?" whispered Dalton.

Harry was barely able to discern the face of his watch.

"Ten minutes to five," he replied.

"And the dawn comes early.  It won't be long before Grant comes poking
his nose through the Wilderness."

Harry was silent.  A few minutes more, and there was a sudden crackle of
rifles in front of them.

"The dawn isn't here, but Grant is," said Harry.

The crackling fire doubled and tripled, and then the fire of the Southern
rifles replied in heavy volume.  The lighter field guns opened with a
crash, and the heavier batteries followed with rolling thunder.  Leaves
and twigs fell in showers, and men fell with them.  The deep Northern
cheer swelled through the Wilderness and the fierce rebel yell replied.

Gray dawn, rising as if with effort, over the sodden Wilderness found two
hundred thousand men locked fast in battle.  It might have been a bright
sun elsewhere, but not here among the gloomy shades and the pine barrens.
The firing was already so tremendous that the smoke hung low and thick,
directly over the tops of the bushes, and the men, as they fought,
breathed mixed and frightful vapors.

Both sides fought for a long time in a heavy, smoky dusk, that was
practically night.  Officers coming from far points, led, compass in hand,
having no other guide save the roar of battle.  As the Southern leaders
had foreseen, Grant was throwing in the full strength of his powerful
army, hoping with superior numbers and better equipment to crush Lee
utterly that day.

The great Northern artillery was raking the whole Southern front.
Hancock, the superb, was hurling the heavy Northern masses directly upon
the main position of the South.  He had half the Army of the Potomac,
and at other points Warren, Wadsworth, Sedgwick and Burnside were
advancing with equal energy and contempt of death.  Fiercer and fiercer
grew the conflict.  Hancock, remembering how he had held the fatal hill
at Gettysburg, and resolved to win a complete victory now, poured in
regiment after regiment.  But in all the fire and smoke and excitement
and danger he did not neglect to keep a cool head.  Hearing that a
portion of Longstreet's corps was near, he sent a division and numerous
heavy artillery to attack it, driving it back after a sanguinary struggle
of more than an hour.

Then he redoubled his attack upon the Southern center, compelling it to
give ground, though slowly.  Harry felt that gliding movement backward
and a chill ran through his blood.  The heavy masses of Grant and his
powerful artillery were prevailing.  The strongest portion of the
Southern army was being forced back, and a gap was cut between Hill and
Longstreet.  Had Hancock perceived the gap that he had made he might have
severed the Southern army, inflicting irretrievable retreat, but the
smoke and the dusk of the Wilderness hid it, and the moment passed into
one of the great "Ifs" of history.

Harry, on horseback, witnessed this conflict, all the more terrible
because of the theater in which it was fought.  The batteries and the
riflemen alike were frequently hidden by the thickets.  The great banks
of smoke hung low, only to be split apart incessantly by the flashes of
fire from the big guns.  But the bullets were more dangerous than the
cannon balls and shells.  They whistled and shrieked in thousands and
countless thousands.

Lee sat on his horse impassive, watching as well as he could the tide of
battle.  Messengers covered with smoke and sweat had informed him of the
gap between Hill and Longstreet, and he was dispatching fresh troops to
close it up.  Harry saw the Invincibles march by.  The two colonels at
their head beheld Lee on his white horse, and their swords flew from
their scabbards as they made a salute in perfect unison.  Close behind
them rode St. Clair and Happy Tom, and they too saluted in like manner.
Lee took off his hat in reply and Harry choked.  "About to die, we salute
thee," he murmured under his breath.

Then with a shout the Invincibles, their officers at their head, plunged
into the fire and smoke, and were lost from Harry's view.  But he could
not stay there long and wonder at their fate.  In a few minutes he was
riding to Longstreet with a message for him to bear steadily toward Hill,
that the gap might be closed entirely, and as soon as possible.

He galloped behind the lines, but bullets fell all around him, and often
a shell tore the earth.  The air had become more bitter and poisonous.
Fumes from swamps seemed to mingle with the smoke and odors of burned
gunpowder.  His lips and his tongue were scorched.  But he kept on,
without exhaustion or mishap, and reached Longstreet, who had divined his
message.

"The line will be solid in a few minutes," he said, and while the battle
was still at its height on the long front he touched hands with Hill.
Then both drove forward with all their might against Hancock, rushing to
the charge, with the Southern fire and recklessness of death that had
proved irresistible on so many fields.  The advance, despite the most
desperate efforts of Hancock and his generals, was stopped.  Then he was
driven back.  All the ground gained at so much cost was lost and the
Southern troops, shouting in exultation, pushed on, pouring in a terrible
rifle fire.  Longstreet, in his eagerness, rode a little ahead of his
troops to see the result.  Turning back, he was mistaken in the smoke
by his own men for a Northern cavalryman, and they fired upon him, just
as Jackson had been shot down by his own troops in the dusk at
Chancellorsville.

The leader fell from his horse, wounded severely, and the troops
advancing to victory became confused.  The rumor spread that Longstreet
had been killed.  There was no one to give orders, and the charge
stopped.  Harry and a half-dozen others who had seen the accident or
heard of it, galloped to Lee, who at once rode into the very thick of the
command, giving personal orders and sending his aides right and left with
others.  The whole division was reformed under his eye, and he sent it
anew to the attack.

The battle now closed in with the full strength of both armies.  Hancock
strove to keep his place.  The valiant Wadsworth had been killed already.
The dense thickets largely nullified Grant's superior numbers.  Lee
poured everything on Hancock, who was driven from every position.
Fighting furiously behind a breastwork built the night before, he was
driven from that too.

Often in the dense shades the soldiers met one another face to face and
furious struggles hand-to-hand ensued.  Bushes and trees, set on fire by
the shells, burned slowly like torches put there to light up the ghastly
scene of man's bravery and folly.  Jenkins, a Confederate general,
was killed and colonels and majors fell by the dozen.  But neither side
would yield, and Grant hurried help to his hard-pressed troops.

Harry had been grazed on the shoulder by a bullet, but his horse was
unharmed, and he kept close to Lee, who continued to direct the battle
personally.  He knew that they were advancing.  Once more the genius of
the great Confederate leader was triumphing.  Grant, the redoubtable and
tenacious, despite his numbers, could set no trap for him!  Instead he
had been drawn into battle on a field of Lee's own choosing.

The conflict had now continued for a long time, and was terrible in all
its aspects.  It was far past noon, and for miles a dense cloud of smoke
hung over the Wilderness, which was filled with the roar of cannon,
the crash of rifles and the shouts of two hundred thousand men in deadly
conflict.  The first meeting of the two great protagonists of the war,
Lee and Grant, was sanguinary and terrible, beyond all expectation.

Hundreds fell dead, their bodies lying hidden under the thickets.
The forest burned fiercely here and there, casting circles of lurid light
over the combatants, while the wind rained down charred leaves and twigs.
The fires spread and joined, and at points swept wide areas of the forest,
yet the fury of the battle was not diminished, the two armies forgetting
everything else in their desire to crush each other.

Harry's horse was killed, as he sat near Lee, but he quickly obtained
another, and not long afterward he was sent with a second message to
Ewell.  He rode on a long battle front, not far behind the lines, and he
shuddered with awe as he looked upon the titanic struggle.  The smoke
was often so heavy and the bushes so thick that he could not see the
combatants, except when the flame of the firing or the burning trees
lighted up a segment of the circle.

Halfway to Ewell and he stopped when he saw two familiar figures, sitting
on a log.  They were elderly men in uniforms riddled by bullets.  The
right arm of one and the left leg of the other were tightly bandaged.
Their faces were very white and it was obvious that they were sitting
there, because they were not strong enough to stand.

Harry stopped.  No message, no matter how important, could have kept him
from stopping.

"Colonel Talbot!  Colonel St. Hilaire!" he cried.

"Yes, here we are, Harry," replied Colonel Leonidas Talbot in a voice,
thin but full of courage.  "Hector has been shot through the leg and has
lost much blood, but I have bound up his wound, and he has done as much
for my arm, which has been bored through from side to side by a bullet,
which must have been as large as my fist."

"And so for a few minutes," said Lieutenant-Colonel St. Hilaire,
valiantly, "we must let General Lee conduct the victory alone."

"And the Invincibles!" exclaimed Harry, horrified.  "Are they all gone
but you?"

"Not at all," replied Colonel Talbot.  "There is so much smoke about that
you can't see much, but if it clears a little you will behold Lieutenant
St. Clair and the youth rightly called Happy Tom and some three score
others, lying among the bushes, not far ahead of you, giving thorough
attention to the enemy."

"And is that all that's left of the Invincibles?"

"It's a wonder that they're so many.  You were right about this man,
Grant, Harry.  He's a fighter, and their artillery is numerous and
wonderful.  John Carrington himself must be in front of us.  We have not
seen him, but the circumstantial evidence is conclusive.  Nobody else in
the world could have swept this portion of the Wilderness with shell and
shrapnel in such a manner.  Why, he has mowed down the bushes in long
swathes as the scythe takes the grass and he has cut down our men with
them.  How does the battle go elsewhere?"

"We're succeeding.  We're driving 'em back.  I can stop only a moment
now.  I'm on my way to General Ewell."

"Then hurry.  Don't be worried about us.  I'll help Hector and Hector
will help me.  And do you curve further to the rear, Harry.  The worst
thing that a dispatch bearer can do is to get himself shot."

Waving his hand in farewell Harry galloped away.  He knew that Colonel
Talbot had given him sound advice, and he bore back from the front,
coming once more into lonely thickets, although the flash of the battle
was plainly visible in front of him, and its roar filled his ears.
Yet when he rode alone he almost expected to see Shepard rise up before
him, and bid him halt.  His encounters with this man had been under
such startling circumstances that it now seemed the rule, and not the
exception, for him to appear at any moment.

But Shepard did not come.  Instead Harry began to see the badly wounded
of his own side drifting to the rear, helping one another as hurt
soldiers learn to do.  Two of them he allowed to hang on his stirrups a
little while.

"They're fighting hard," said one, a long, gaunt Texan, "an' they're so
many they might lap roun' us.  This man of theirs, Grant, ain't much of a
fellow to get scared, but I guess Marse Bob will take care of him just ez
he has took care of the others who came into Virginia."

"They're led in the main attack by Hancock," said the other, a Virginian.
"I caught a glimpse of him through the smoke, just as I had a view of him
for a minute back there by the clump of trees on the ridge at Gettysburg."

"Are you one of Pickett's men?" asked Harry.

"I am, sir, one of the few that's left.  I went clear to the clump of
trees and how I got back I've never known.  It was a sort of red dream,
in which I couldn't pick out anything in particular, but I was back with
the army, carrying three bullets that the doctors took away from me,
and here I've gathered up two more they'll rob me of in just the same
way."

He spoke quite cheerfully, and when Harry, curving again, was compelled
to release them, both, although badly wounded, wished him good luck.

He found General Ewell in front, stamping back and forth on his crutches,
watching the battle with excitement.

"And so you're here again, Harry.  Well it's good news at present!"
he cried.  "It seems that their man, Grant, is going to school to Lee
just like the others."

"But some pupils learn too fast, sir!"

"That's so, but, Harry, I wish I could see more of the field.  An
invisible battle like this shakes my nerves.  Batteries that we can't see
send tornadoes of shot and shell among us.  Riflemen, by the thousands,
hidden in the thickets rain bullets into our ranks.  It's inhuman, wicked,
and our only salvation lies in the fact that it's as bad for them as it
is for us.  If we can't see them they can't see us."

"You can hold your ground here?"

"Against anything and everything.  Tell General Lee that we intend to eat
our suppers on the enemy's ground."

"That's all he wants to know."

As Harry rode back he saw that the first fires were spreading, passing
over new portions of the battlefield.  Sparks flew in myriads and fine,
thin ashes were mingled with the powder smoke.  The small trees, burnt
through, fell with a crash, and the flames ran as if they were alive up
boughs.  Other trees fell too, cut through by cannon balls, and some were
actually mown down by sheets of bullets, as if they had been grass.

His way now led through human wreckage, made all the more appalling by an
approaching twilight, heavy with fumes and smoke, and reddened with the
cannon and rifle blaze.  His frightened horse pulled wildly at the bit,
and tried to run away, but Harry held him to the path, although he
stepped more than once in hot ashes and sprang wildly.  The dead were
thick too and Harry was in horror lest the hoof of his horse be planted
upon some unheeding face.

He knew that the day was waning fast and that the dark was due in some
degree to the setting sun, and not wholly to the smoke and ashes.
Yet the fury of the battle was sustained.  The southern left maintained
the ground that it had gained, and in the center and right it could not
be driven back.  It became obvious to Grant that Lee was not to be beaten
in the Wilderness.  His advance suffered from all kinds of disadvantages.
In the swamps and thickets he could mass neither his guns nor his cannon.
Communications were broken, the telegraph wires could be used but little
and as the twilight darkened to night he let the attack die.

Harry was back with the commander-in-chief, when the great battle of the
Wilderness, one of the fiercest ever fought, sank under cover of the
night.  It was not open and spectacular like Gettysburg, but it had a
gloomy and savage grandeur all its own.  Grant had learned, like the
others before him, that he could not drive headlong over Lee, but sitting
in silence by his campfire, chewing his cigar, he had no thought, unlike
the others, of turning back.  Nearly twenty thousand of his men had
fallen, but huge resources and a President who supported him absolutely
were behind him and he was merely planning a new method of attack.

In the Southern camp there was exultation, but it was qualified and
rather grim.  These men, veterans of many battles and able to judge for
themselves, believed that they had won the victory, but they knew that it
was by no means decisive.  The numerous foe with his powerful artillery
was still before them.  They could see his campfires shining through
the thickets, and their spies told them that, despite his great losses,
there was no sign of retreat in Grant's camp.

An appalling night settled down on the Wilderness.  The North American
Continent never saw one more savage and terrible.  Twenty thousand
wounded were scattered through the thickets and dense shades, and
spreading fires soon brought death to many whom the bullets had not
killed at once.  The smoke, the mists and vapors gathered into one dense
cloud, that hung low and made everything clammy to the touch.

Lee stood under the boughs of an oak, and ate food that had been prepared
for him hastily.  But, as Harry saw, the act was purely mechanical.
He was watching as well as he could what was going on in front, and he
was giving orders in turns to his aides.  Harry's time had not yet come,
and he kept his eyes on his chief.

There was no exultation in the face of Lee.  He had drawn Grant into the
Wilderness and then he had held him fast in a battle of uncommon size and
fierceness.  But nothing was decided.  He had studied the career of Grant,
and he knew that he had a foe of great qualities with whom to deal.
He would have to fight him again, and fight very soon.  He heard too with
a sorrow, hard to conceal, the reports of his own losses.  They were
heavy enough and the gaps now made could never be refilled.  The Army of
Northern Virginia, which had been such a powerful instrument in his hands,
must fight with ever diminishing numbers.

Harry was sent to inquire into the condition of Longstreet, whom he found
weak physically and suffering much pain.  But the veteran was upborne by
the success of the day and his belief in ultimate victory.  He bade Harry
tell the commander-in-chief that his men were fit to fight again and
better than ever, at the first shoot of dawn.

Harry rode back in the night, the burning trees serving him for torches.
Nearly all the soldiers were busy.  Some were gathering up the wounded
and others were building breastworks.  His eyes were reddened by the
powder-smoke, and often the heavy black masses of vapor were impenetrable,
save where the forest burned.  Now he came to a region where the dead and
wounded were so thick that he dismounted and led his horse, lest a hoof
be planted upon any one of them.  But he noticed that here as in other
battles the wounded made but little complaint.  They suffered in silence,
waiting for their comrades to take them away.

Then he passed around a section of forest that was burning fiercely.
Here Southern and Union soldiers had met on terms of peace and were
making desperate efforts to save their helpless comrades.  Harry would
have been glad to give aid himself, but he was too well trained now to
turn aside when he rode for Lee.

He saw many dark figures passing before the flaming background, and as
he walked more slowly than he thought, he saw one that looked remarkably
familiar to him.  It was impossible to see the face, but he knew the
walk and the lift of the shoulders.  Discipline gave way to impulse now,
and he ran forward crying:

"Dick!  Dick!"

Dick Mason, who had just dragged a wounded man beyond the range of the
flames, turned at the sound of the voice.  Even had Harry seen his face
at first he would not have known him nor would Dick have known Harry.
Both were black with ashes, smoke and burned gunpowder.  But Dick knew
the voice in an instant.  Once more were the two cousins to meet in peace
on an unfinished battlefield.

Each driven by the same impulse stepped forward, and their hands met in
the strong grasp of blood kindred and friendship, which war itself could
not sever.

"You're alive, Harry!" said Dick.  "It seems almost impossible after what
has happened to-day."

"And you too are all right.  Not harmed, I see, though your face is an
African black."

"I should call your own color dark and smoky."

"I wasn't sure that you were in the East.  When did you come?"

"With General Grant, and I knew that you were on General Lee's staff.
I've a message to give him by you.  Oh! you needn't laugh.  It's a good
straight talk."

"Go ahead then and say it to me."

"You say to General Lee that it's all over.  Tell him to quit and send
his soldiers home.  If he doesn't he'll be crushed."

Harry laughed again and waved his finger at the somber battlefield,
upon which he stood.

"Does this look like it?" he asked.  "We're farther forward to-night than
we were this morning.  Wouldn't General Grant be glad if he could say as
much?"

"It makes no difference.  I know you don't believe me, but it's so.
The North is prepared as it never was before.  And Grant will hammer and
hammer forever.  We know what a man Lee is.  The whole North admits it,
but I tell you the sun of the South is setting."

"You're growing poetical and poetry is no argument."

"But unlimited men, unlimited cannon and rifles, unlimited ammunition and
supplies and a general who is willing to use them, are.  Of course I know
that you can't carry any such message to General Lee, but I feel it to be
the truth."

"We've a great general and a great army that say, no."

Nobody paid any attention to the two.  It was merely another one of those
occasions when men of the opposing sides stood together amid the dead and
wounded, and talked in friendly fashion.  But Harry knew that he could
not delay long.

"I've got to go, Dick," he said.  "And I've a message too, one that I
want you to deliver to General Grant."

"What is it?"

"Tell him that we've more than held our own to-day, and that we'll thrash
him like thunder to-morrow, and whenever and wherever he may choose,
no matter what the odds are against us."

Dick laughed.

"I see that you won't believe even a little bit of what I tell you,"
he said "and maybe if I were in your place I wouldn't either.  But it's
true all the same.  Good-by, Harry."

The two hands, covered with battle grime, met again in the strong grasp
of blood kindred and friendship.

"Take care of yourself, old man!"

The words, exactly alike, were uttered by the two simultaneously.

Both were stirred deeply.  Harry sprang on his horse, looked back once,
waving his hand, and rode rapidly to General Lee.  Later in the night,
he received permission to hunt up the Invincibles, his heart full of fear
that they had perished utterly in the gloomy pit called the Wilderness,
lit now only by the fire of death.

He left his horse with an orderly and walked toward the point where he
had last seen them.  He passed thousands of soldiers, many wounded,
but silent as usual, while the unhurt were sleeping where they had
dropped.  The Invincibles were not at the point where he had seen them
last, and the colonels of several scattered regiments could not tell him
what had become of them.  But he continued to seek them although the fear
was growing in his heart that the last man of the Invincibles had died
under the Northern cannon.

His search led toward the enemy's lines.  Almost unconsciously he went in
that direction, however, his knowledge of the two colonels telling him
that they would take the same course.  He turned into a little cove,
partly sheltered by the dwarfed trees and he heard a thin voice saying:

"Nonsense, Leonidas.  I scarcely felt it, but yours, old friend, is
pretty bad.  You must let me attend to it.  Keep still!  I'll adjust the
bandage."

"Hector, why do you make a fuss over me, when I'm only slightly hurt,
and sacrifice yourself, a severely injured man!"

"With all due respect you'd better let me attend to you both," said a
voice that Harry recognized as St. Clair's.

"And maybe I could help a little," said another that he knew to be Happy
Tom's.  But their voices, like those of the colonels, were weak.  Still
he had positive proof that they were alive, and, as his heart gave a
joyful throb or two, he stepped into the glade.  There was enough light
for him to see Colonel Leonidas Talbot, and Lieutenant-Colonel Hector
St. Hilaire, sitting side by side on the grass with their backs against
the earthly wall, very pale from loss of blood, but with heads erect and
eyes shining with a certain pride.  St. Clair and Langdon lay on the
grass, one with an old handkerchief, blood-soaked, bound about his head
and the other with a bandage tightly fastened over his left shoulder.
Beyond them lay a group of soldiers.

"Good evening, heroes!" said Harry lightly as he stepped forward.

He was welcomed with an exclamation of joy from them all.

"We meet again, Harry," said Colonel Talbot, "and it is the second time
since morning.  I fancy that second meetings to-day have not been common.
We have the taste of success in our mouths, but you'll excuse us for not
rising to greet you.  We are all more or less affected by the missiles of
the enemy and for some hours at least neither walking nor standing will
be good for us."

"Mohammed must come to all the mountains," said St. Clair, weakly holding
out a hand.

Harry greeted them all in turn, and sat down with them.  He was
overflowing with sympathy, but it was not needed.

"A glorious day," said Colonel Leonidas Talbot.

"Truly," said Harry.

"A most glorious day," said Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire.

"Most truly," said Harry.

"An especially glorious day for the Invincibles," said Colonel Talbot.

"The most glorious of all possible days for the Invincibles," said
Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire.

There was an especial emphasis to their words that aroused Harry's
attention.

"The Invincibles have had many glorious days," he said.  "Why should this
be the most glorious of them all?"

"We went into battle one hundred and forty-seven strong," replied Colonel
Talbot quietly, "and we came out with one hundred and forty-seven
casualties, thirty-nine killed and one hundred and eight wounded.
We lay no claim to valor, exceeding that of many other regiments in
General Lee's glorious army, but we do think we've made a fairly
excellent record.  Do you see those men?"

He pointed to a silent group stretched upon the turf, and Harry nodded.

"Not one of them has escaped unhurt, but most of us will muster up
strength enough to meet the enemy again to-morrow, when our great general
calls."

Harry's throat contracted for a moment.

"I know it, Colonel Talbot," he said.  "The Invincibles have proved
themselves truly worthy of their name.  General Lee shall hear of this."

"But in no boastful vein, Harry," said Colonel Talbot.  "We would not
have you to speak thus of your friends."

"I do not have to boast for you.  The simple truth is enough.  I shall
see that a surgeon comes here at once to attend to your wounded.  Good
night, gentlemen."

"Good night," said the four together.  Harry walked back toward General
Lee's headquarters, full of pride in his old comrades.




CHAPTER XVI

SPOTTSYLVANIA


Harry secured a little sleep toward morning, and, although his nervous
tension had been very great, when he lay down, he felt greatly
strengthened in body and mind.  He awakened Dalton in turn, and the two,
securing a hasty breakfast, sat near the older members of the staff,
awaiting orders.  The commander-in-chief was at the edge of the little
glade, talking earnestly with Hill, and several other important generals.

Harry often saw through the medium of his own feelings, and the rim of
the sun, beginning to show over the eastern edge of the Wilderness,
was blood red.  The same crimson and sinister tinge showed through the
west which was yet in the dusk.  But in east and west there were certain
areas of light, where the forest fires yet smoldered.

Both sides had thrown up hasty breastworks of earth or timber, but the
two armies were unusually silent.  A space of perhaps a mile and a half
lay between them, but as the light increased neither moved.  There was no
crackle of rifle fire along their fronts.  The skirmishers, usually so
active, seemed to be exhausted, and the big guns were at rest.  The
fierce and tremendous fighting of the two days before seemed to have
taken all the life out of both North and South.

Harry, inured to war, understood the reasons for silence and lack of
movement.  Grant had been drawn into a region that he did not like,
where he could not use his superior numbers to advantage, and he must be
shuddering at the huge losses he had suffered already.  He would seek
better ground.  Lee too, was in no condition to take advantage of his
successful defense.  The old days when he could send Jackson on a great
turning movement, to fall with all the crushing impact of a surprise upon
the Northern flank, were gone forever.  Stuart, the brilliant cavalryman,
was there, but his men were not numerous enough, and, however brilliant,
he was not Jackson.

The sun rose higher.  Midmorning came, and the two armies still lay
close.  Harry grew stronger in his opinion that they would not fight
again that day, although he watched, like the others, for any sign of
movement in the Northern camp.

Noon came, and the same dead silence.  The fires had burned themselves
out now and the dusk that had reigned over the Wilderness, before the
battle, recovered its ground, thickened still further by the vast
quantities of smoke still hanging low under a cloudy sky.  But the aspect
of the Wilderness itself was more mournful than ever.  Coals smoldered in
the burned areas, and now and then puffs of wind picked up the hot ashes
and sent them in the faces of the soldiers.  Thickets and bushes had been
cut down by bullets and cannon balls, and lay heaped together in tangled
confusion.  Back of the lines, the surgeons, with aching backs, toiled
over the wounded, as they had toiled through the night.

Harry saw nearly the whole Southern front.  The members of Lee's staff
were busy that day, carrying orders to all his generals to rectify their
lines, and to be prepared, to the last detail, for another tremendous
assault.  It was not until the afternoon that he was able to look up the
Invincibles again.  The two colonels and the two lieutenants were doing
well, and the colonels were happy.

"We've already been notified," said Colonel Talbot, "that we're to retain
our organization as a regiment.  We're to have about a hundred new men
now, the fragments of destroyed regiments.  Of course, they won't be like
the veterans of the Invincibles, but a half-dozen battles like that of
yesterday should lick them into shape."

"I should think so," said Harry.

"Do you believe that Grant is retreating?" asked Lieutenant-Colonel
St. Hilaire.

"Our scouts don't say so."

"Then he is merely putting off the evil day.  The sooner he withdraws the
more men he will save.  No Yankee general can ever get by General Lee.
Keep that in your mind, Harry Kenton."

Harry was silent, but rejoicing to find that his friends would soon
recover from their wounds, he went back to his place, and saw all the
afternoon pass, without any movement indicating battle.

Night came again and the scouts reported to Lee that the Union army
was breaking camp, evidently with the intention of getting out of the
Wilderness and marching to Fredericksburg.  Harry was with the general
when he received the news, and he saw him think over it long.  Other
scouts brought in the same evidence.

Harry did not know what the general thought, but as for himself, although
he was too young to say anything, it was incredible that Grant should
retreat.  It was not at all in accordance with his character, now tested
on many fields, and his resources also were too great for withdrawal.

But the night was very dark and no definite knowledge yet came out of it.
Lee stayed by his little campfire and received reports.  Far after dusk
Harry saw the look of doubt disappear from his eyes, and then he began
to send out messengers.  It was evident that he had formed his opinion,
and intended to act upon it at once.

He beckoned to Harry and Dalton, and bade them go together with written
instructions to General Anderson, who had taken the place of General
Longstreet.

"You will stay with General Anderson subject to his orders," he said,
as Harry and Dalton, saluting, rode toward Anderson's command.

Their way led through torn, tangled and burned thickets.  Sometimes a
horse sprang violently to one side and neighed in pain.  His hoof had
come down on earth, yet so hot that it scorched like fire.  Now and then
sparks fell upon them, but they pursued their way, disregarding all
obstacles, and delivered their sealed orders to General Anderson, who at
once gathered up his full force, and marched away from the heart of the
Wilderness toward Spottsylvania Court House.

Harry surmised that Grant was attempting some great turning movement,
and Lee, divining it, was sending Anderson to meet his advance.  He never
knew whether it was positive knowledge or a happy guess.

But he was quite sure that the night's ride was one of the most singular
and sinister ever made by an army.  If any troops ever marched through
the infernal regions it was they.  In this part of the Wilderness the
fires had been of the worst.  Trees still smoldered.  In the hollows,
where the bushes had grown thickest, were great beds of coals.  The smoke
which the low heavy skies kept close to the earth was thick and hot.
Gusts of wind sent showers of sparks flying, and, despite the greatest
care to protect the ammunition, they marched in constant danger of
explosion.

Harry thought at one time that General Anderson intended to camp in
the Wilderness for the night, but he soon saw that it was impossible.
One could not camp on hot ground in a smoldering forest.

"I believe it's a march till day," he said to Dalton.  "It's bound to be.
If a man were to lie down here, he'd find himself a mass of cinders in
the morning, and it will take us till daylight and maybe past to get out
of the Wilderness."

"If he didn't burn to death he'd choke to death.  I never breathed such
smoke before."

"That's because it's mixed with ashes and the fumes of burned gunpowder.
A villainous compound like this can't be called air.  How long is it
until dawn?"

"About three hours, I think."

"You remember those old Greek stories about somebody or other going down
to Hades, and then having a hard climb out again.  We're the modern
imitators.  If this isn't Hades then I don't know what it is."

"It surely is.  Phew, but that hurt!"

"What happened?"

"I brushed my hand against a burning bush.  The result was not happy.
Don't imitate me."

Dalton's horse leaped to one side, and he had difficulty in keeping the
saddle.  His hoof had been planted squarely in the midst of a mass of hot
twigs.

"The sooner I get out of this Inferno or Hades of a place the happier
I'll be!" said Dalton.

"I've never seen the like," said Harry, "but there's one thing about it
that makes me glad."

"And what's the saving grace?"

"That it's in Virginia and not in Kentucky, though for the matter of that
it couldn't be in Kentucky."

"And why couldn't it be in Kentucky?"

"Because there's no such God-forsaken region in all that state of mine."

"It certainly gets upon one's soul," said Dalton, looking at the gloomy
region, so terribly torn by battle.

"But if we keep going we're bound to come out of it some time or other."

"And we're not stopping.  A man can't make his bed on a mass of coals,
and there'll be no rest for us until we're clear out of the Wilderness."

They marched on a long time, and, as day dawned, hundreds of voices
united in a shout of gladness.  Behind them were the shades of the
Wilderness, that dismal region reeking with slaughter and ruin, and
before them lay firm soil, and green fields, in all the flush of a
brilliant May morning.

"Well, we did come out of Hades, Harry," said Dalton.

"And it does look like Heaven, but the trouble with our Hades, George,
is that the inmates will follow us.  Put your glasses to your eyes and
look off there."

"Horsemen as sure as we're sitting in our own saddles."

"And Northern horsemen, too.  Their uniforms are new enough for me to
tell their color.  I take it that Grant's vanguard has moved by our right
flank and has come out of the Wilderness."

"And our surmises that we were to meet it are right.  Spottsylvania Court
House is not far away, and maybe we are bound for it."

"And maybe the Yankees are too."

Harry's words were caused by the sound of a distant and scattering fire.
In obedience to an order from Anderson, he and Dalton galloped forward,
and, from a ridge, saw through their glasses a formidable Union column
advancing toward Spottsylvania.  As they looked they saw many men fall
and they also saw flashes of flame from bushes and fences not far from
its flank.

"Our sharpshooters are there," said Harry.  And he was right.  While the
Union force was advancing in the night Stuart had dismounted many of his
men and using them as skirmishers had incessantly harassed the march of
Grant's vanguard led by Warren.

"Each army has been trying to catch the other napping," said Dalton.

"And neither has succeeded," said Harry.

"Now we make a race for the Spottsylvania ridge," said Dalton.  "You see
if we don't!  I know this country.  It's a strong position there, and
both generals want it."

Dalton was right.  A small Union force had already occupied Spottsylvania,
but the heavy Southern division crossing the narrow, but deep, river Po,
drove it out and seized the defensive position.

Here they rested, while the masses of the two armies swung toward them,
as if preparing for a new battlefield, one that Harry surveyed with great
interest.  They were in a land of numerous and deep rivers.  Here were
four spreading out, like the fingers of a human hand, without the thumb,
and uniting at the wrist.  The fingers were the Mat, the Ta, the Po,
and the Nye, and the unit when they united was called the Mattopony.

Lee's army was gathering behind the Po.  A large Union force crossed it
on his flank, but, recognizing the danger of such a position, withdrew.
Lee himself came in time.  Hill, overcome by illness and old wounds,
was compelled to give up the command of his division, and Early took his
place.  Longstreet also was still suffering severely from his injuries.
Lee had but few of the able and daring generals who had served him in
so many fields.  But Stuart, the gay and brilliant, the medieval knight
who had such a strong place in the commander-in-chief's affections, was
there.  Nor was his plumage one bit less splendid.  The yellow feather
stood in his hat.  There was no speck or stain on the broad yellow sash
and his undimmed courage was contagious.

But Harry with his sensitive and imaginative mind, that leaped ahead,
knew their situation to be desperate.  His opinion of Grant had proved to
be correct.  Although he had found in Lee an opponent far superior to any
other that he had ever faced, the Union general, undaunted by his repulse
and tremendous losses in the Wilderness, was preparing for a new battle,
before the fire from the other had grown cold.

He knew too that another strong Union army was operating far to the south
of them, in order to cut them off from Richmond, and scouts had brought
word that a powerful force of cavalry was about to circle upon their
flank.  The Confederacy was propped up alone by the Army of Northern
Virginia, which having just fought one great battle was about to begin
another, and by its dauntless commander.

The Southern admiration for Lee, both as the general and as the man,
can never be shaken.  How much greater then was the effect that he
created in the mind of impressionable youth, looking upon him with
youth's own eyes in his moments of supreme danger!  He was in very truth
to Harry another Hannibal as great, and better.  The long list of his
triumphs, as youth counted them, was indeed superior to those of the
great Carthaginian, and he believed that Lee would repel this new danger.

Nearly all that day the two armies constructed breastworks which stood
for many years afterward, but neither made any attempt at serious work,
although there was incessant firing by the skirmishers and an occasional
cannon shot.  Harry, whether carrying an order or not, had ample chance
to see, and he noted with increasing alarm the growing masses of the
Union army, as they gathered along the Spottsylvania front.

"Can we beat them?"  "Can we beat them?" was the question that he
continually asked himself.  He wondered too where the Winchester regiment
and Dick Mason lay, and where the spy, Shepard, was.  But Shepard was not
likely to remain long in one place.  Skill and courage such as his would
be used to the utmost in a time like this.  Doubtless he was somewhere in
the Confederate lines, discovering for Grant the relatively small size of
the army that opposed him.

Near dusk and having the time he followed his custom and sought the
Invincibles.  Both colonels had recovered considerable strength, and,
although one of them could not walk, he would be helped upon his horse
whenever the battle began, and would ride into the thick of it.  But the
faces of St. Clair and Happy Tom glowed and their wounds apparently were
forgotten.

"Lieutenant Arthur St. Clair and Lieutenant Thomas Langdon are gone
forever," said Colonel Talbot.  "In their places we have Major Arthur
St. Clair and Captain Thomas Langdon.  All our majors and captains have
been killed, and with our reduced numbers these two will fill their
places, as best they can; and that they can do so most worthily we all
know.  They received their promotions this afternoon."

Harry congratulated them both with the greatest warmth.  They were very
young for such rank, but in this war the toll of officers was so great
that men sometimes became generals when they were but little older.

"Is it to be to-morrow?" asked Colonel Talbot.

"I think it likely that we'll fight again then," said Harry.

"And Grant has not yet had enough.  He wants a little more of the same,
does he!"

"It would appear so, sir."

"Then I take it without consulting General Lee that he is ready to deal
with the Yankees as he dealt with them in the Wilderness."

"I hope so.  Good night."

"Good night!" they called to him, and Harry returned to the staff.
Taylor, the adjutant general, told him and Dalton to lie down and seek
a little sleep.  Harry was not at all averse, as he was completely
exhausted again after the tremendous excitement of the battle, and the
long hours of strain and danger.  But his nerves were so much on edge
that he could not yet sleep.  His eyes were red and smarting from the
smoke and burned powder, and he felt as if accumulated smoke and dust
encased him like a suit of armor.

"I'd give a hundred dollars for a good long drink, just as long as I
liked to make it," he groaned, "and I mean a drink of pure cold water,
too."

"Confederate paper or money?" said Dalton.

"I mean real money, but at the same time you oughtn't to make invidious
comparisons."

"Then the money's mine, but you can pay me whenever you feel like it,
which I suppose will be never.  There's a spring in the thick woods just
back of your quarters.  It flows out from under rocks, at the distance of
several yards makes a deep pool, and then the overflow of the pool goes
on through the forest to the Po.  Come on, Harry!  We'll luxuriate and
then tell the others."

Harry found that it was a most glorious spring, indeed; clear and cold.
He and Dalton drank slowly at first, and then deeply.

"I didn't know I could hold so much," said Dalton.

"Nor I," said Harry.

"Let's take another."

"I'm with you."

"Let's make it two more."

"I still follow you."

"Horace wrote about his old Falernian, and the other wines which he
enjoyed, as he and the leading Roman sports sat around the fountain,
flirting with the girls," said Dalton, "but I don't believe any wine ever
brewed in Latium was the equal of this water."

"I've always had an idea that Horace wasn't as gay as he pretended to be,
else he wouldn't have written so much about Chloe and her comrades.
I imagine that an old Roman boy would keep pretty quiet about his dancing
and singing, and not publish it to the public."

"Well, let him be.  He's dead and the Romans are dead, and the Americans
are doing their best to kill off one another, but let's forget it for a
few minutes.  That pool there is about four feet deep, the water is clear
and the bottom is firm ground; now do you know what I'm going to do?"

"Yes, and I'm going to do the same.  Bet you even that I beat you into
the water."

"Taken."

They threw off their clothes rapidly, but the splashes were simultaneous
as their bodies struck the water.  Although the limits of the pool were
narrow they splashed and paddled there for a while, and it was a long
time since they had known such a luxury.  Then they walked out, dried
themselves and spread the good news.  All night long the pool was filled
with the bathers, following one another in turn.

The water taken internally and externally soothed Harry's nerves.
His excitement was gone.  A great army with which they were sure to fight
on the morrow was not far away, but for the time he was indifferent.
The morrow could take care of itself.  It was night, and he had
permission to go to sleep.  Hence he slumbered fifteen minutes later.

He slept almost through the night, and, when he was awakened shortly
before dawn, he found that his strength and elasticity had returned.
He and Dalton went down to the spring again, drank many times, and then
ate breakfast with the older members of the staff, a breakfast that
differed very little from that of the common soldiers.

Then a day or two of waiting, and watching, and of confused but terrible
fighting ensued.  The forests were again set on fire by the bursting
shells and they were not able to rescue many of the wounded from the
flames.  Vast clouds again floated over the whole region, drawing a veil
of dusk between the soldiers and the sun.  But neither army was willing
to attack the other in full force.

Grant commanding all the armies of the East was moving meanwhile.
A powerful cavalry division, he heard, had got behind Beauregard, who was
to protect Richmond, and was tearing up an important railway line used
by the Confederacy.  The daring Sheridan with another great division of
cavalry had gone around Lee's left and was wrecking another railway,
and with it the rations and medical supplies so necessary to the
Confederates.  Grant, recognizing his antagonist's skill and courage and
knowing that to succeed he must destroy the main Southern army, resolved
to attack again with his whole force.

The day had been comparatively quiet and the Army of Northern Virginia
had devoted nearly the whole time to fortifying with earthworks and
breastworks of logs.  The young aides, as they rode on their missions,
could easily see the Northern lines through their glasses.  Harry's heart
sank as he observed their extent.  The Southern army was sadly reduced
in numbers, and Grant could get reinforcement continually.

But such is the saving grace of human nature that even in these moments
of suspense, with one terrible battle just over and another about to
begin, soldiers of the Blue and Gray would speak to one another in
friendly fashion in the bushes or across the Po.  It was on the banks of
this narrow river that Harry at last saw Shepard once more.  He happened
to be on foot that time, the slope being too densely wooded for his horse,
and Shepard hailed him from the other side.

"Good day, Mr. Kenton.  Don't fire!  I want to talk," he said, holding up
both hands as a sign of peace.

"A curious place for talking," Harry could not keep from saying.

"So it is, but we're not observed here.  It was almost inevitable while
the armies remained face to face that we should meet in time.  I want
to tell you that I've met your cousin, Richard Mason, here, and his
commanding officer, Colonel Winchester.  Oh, I know much more about you
and your relationships than you think."

"How is Dick?"

"He has not been hurt, nor has Colonel Winchester.  Mr. Mason has
received a letter from his home and your home in Pendleton in Kentucky.
The outlaws to the eastward are troublesome, but the town is occupied by
an efficient Union garrison and is in no danger.  His mother and all of
his and your old friends, who did not go to the war, are in good health.
He thought that in my various capacities as ranger, scout and spy I might
meet you, and he asked me, if it so happened, to tell these things to
you."

"I thank you," said Harry very earnestly, "and I'm truly sorry,
Mr. Shepard, that you and I are on different sides."

"I suppose it's too late for you to come over to the Union and the true
cause."

Harry laughed.

"You know, Mr. Shepard, there are no traitors in this war."

"I know it.  I was merely jesting."

He slipped into the underbrush and disappeared.  Harry confessed to
himself once more that he liked Shepard, but he felt more strongly than
ever that it had become a personal duel between them, and they would meet
yet again in violence.

That night he had little to do.  It was a typical May night in Virginia,
clear and beautiful with an air that would have been a tonic to the
nerves, had it not been for the bitter smoke and odors that yet lingered
from the battle of the Wilderness.

Before dawn the scouts brought in a rumor that there was a heavy movement
of Federal troops, although they did not know its meaning.  It might
portend another flank march by Grant, but a mist that had begun to rise
after midnight hid much from them.  The mist deepened into a fog, which
made it harder for the Southern leaders to learn the meaning of the
Northern movement.

Just as the dawn was beginning to show a little through the fog, Hancock
and Burnside, with many more generals, led a tremendous attack upon the
Southern right center.  They had come so silently through the thickets
that for once the Southern leaders were surprised.  The Union veterans,
rushing forward in dense columns, stormed and took the breastworks with
the bayonet.

Many of the Southern troops, sound asleep, awoke to find themselves in
the enemy's hands.  Others, having no time to fire them, fought with
clubbed rifles.

Harry, dozing, was awakened by the terrific uproar.  Even before the dawn
had fairly come the battle was raging on a long front.  The center of
Lee's army was broken, and the Union troops were pouring into the gap.
Grant had already taken many guns and thousands of prisoners, and the
bulldog of Shiloh and Vicksburg and Chattanooga was hurrying fresh
divisions into the combat to extend and insure his victory.  Through the
forests swelled the deep Northern cry of triumph.

Harry had never before seen the Southern army in such danger, and he
looked at General Lee, who had now mounted Traveller.  The turmoil and
confusion in front of them was frightful and indescribable.  The Union
troops had occupied an entire Confederate salient, and their generals,
feeling that the moment was theirs, led them on, reckless of life,
and swept everything before them.

Harry never took his eyes from Lee.  The rising sun shot golden beams
through the smoke and disclosed him clearly.  His face was calm and his
voice did not shake as he issued his orders with rapidity and precision.
The lion at bay was never more the lion.

A new line of battle was formed, and the fugitives formed up with it.
Then the Southern troops, uttering once more the fierce rebel yell,
charged directly upon their enemy and under the eye of the great chief
whom they almost worshiped.

Now Harry for the first time saw his general show excitement.  Lee
galloped to the head of one of the Virginia regiments, and ranging his
horse beside the colors snatched off his hat and pointed it at the enemy.
It was a picture which with all the hero worship of youth he never
forgot.  It did not even grow dim in his memory--the great leader on
horseback, his hat in his hand, his eyes fiery, his face flushed, his
hand pointing the way to victory or death.

It was an occasion, too, when the personal presence of a leader meant
everything.  Every man knew Lee and tremendous rolling cheers greeted
his arrival, cheers that could be heard above the thunder of cannon and
rifles.  It infused new courage into them and they gathered themselves
for the rush upon their victorious foe.

Gordon of Georgia, spurring through the smoke, seized Lee's horse by the
bridle.  He did not mean to have their commander-in-chief sacrificed in a
charge.

"This is no place for you, General Lee!" he cried.  "Go to the rear!"

Lee did not yet turn, and Gordon shouted:

"These men are Virginians and Georgians who have never failed.  Go back,
I entreat you!"

Then Gordon turned to the troops and cried, as he rose on his toes in his
stirrups:

"Men, you will not fail now!"

Back came the answering shout:

"No!  No!" and the whole mass of troops burst into one thunderous, echoing
cry:

"Lee to the rear!  Lee to the rear!  Lee to the rear!"

Nor would they move until Lee turned and rode back.  Then, led by Gordon,
they charged straight upon their foe, who met them with an equal valor.
All day long the battle of Spottsylvania, equal in fierceness and
desperation to that of the Wilderness, swayed to and fro.  To Harry as he
remembered them they were much alike.  Charge and defense, defense and
charge.  Here they gained a little, and there they lost a little.
Now they were stumbling through sanguinary thickets, and then they rushed
across little streams that ran red.

The firing was rapid and furious to an extraordinary degree.  The air
rained shell and bullets.  Areas of forest between the two armies were
mowed down.  More than one large tree was cut through entirely by rifle
bullets.  Other trees here, as in the Wilderness, caught fire and flamed
high.

Midnight put an end to the battle, with neither gaining the victory
and both claiming it.  Harry had lost another horse, killed under him,
and now he walked almost dazed over the terrible field of Spottsylvania,
where nearly thirty thousand men had fallen, and nothing had yet been
decided.

Yet in Harry's heart the fear of the grim and silent Grant was growing.
The Northern general had fought within a few days two battles, each the
equal of Waterloo, and Harry felt sure that he was preparing for a third.
The combat of the giants was not over, and with an anxious soul he waited
the next dawn.  They remained some days longer in the Wilderness, or the
country adjacent to it, and there was much skirmishing and firing of
heavy artillery, but the third great pitched battle did not come quite as
soon as Harry expected.  Even Grant, appalled by the slaughter, hesitated
and began to maneuver again by the flank to get past Lee.  Then the
fighting between the skirmishers and heavy detached parties became
continuous.

During the days that immediately followed Harry was much with Sherburne.
The brave colonel was one of Stuart's most trusted officers.  Despite the
forests and thickets there was much work for the cavalry to do, while the
two armies circled and circled, each seeking to get the advantage of the
other.

Sheridan, they heard, was trying to curve about with his horsemen and
reach Richmond, and Stuart, with his cavalry, including Sherburne's,
was sent to intercept him, Harry riding by Sherburne's side.  It was near
the close of May, but the air was cool and pleasant, a delight to breathe
after the awful Wilderness.

Stuart, despite his small numbers, was in his gayest spirits, and when
he overtook the enemy at a little place called Yellow Tavern he attacked
with all his customary fire and vigor.  In the height of the charge,
Harry saw him sink suddenly from his horse, shot through the body.
He died not long afterward and the greatest and most brilliant horseman
of the South passed away to join Jackson and so many who had gone before.
Harry was one of the little group who carried the news to Lee, and he saw
how deeply the great leader was affected.  So many of his brave generals
had fallen that he was like the head of a family, bereft.

Nevertheless the lion still at bay was great and terrible to strike.
It was barely two weeks after Spottsylvania when Lee took up a strong
position at Cold Harbor, and Grant, confident in his numbers and powerful
artillery, attacked straightaway at dawn.

Harry was in front during that half-hour, the most terrible ever seen on
the American continent, when Northern brigade after brigade charged to
certain death.  Lee's men, behind their earthworks, swept the field with
a fire in which nothing could live.  The charging columns fairly melted
away before them and when the half-hour was over more than twelve
thousand men in blue lay upon the red field.

Grant himself was appalled, and the North, which had begun to anticipate
a quick and victorious end of the war, concealed its disappointment as
best it could, and prepared for another campaign.

Grant and Lee, facing each other, went into trenches along the lines
of Cold Harbor, and the hopes of the young Southern soldiers after the
victory there rose anew.  But Harry was not too sanguine, although he
kept his thoughts to himself.

The officers of the Invincibles had recovered from their wounds, and
Colonel Leonidas Talbot and Lieutenant-Colonel Hector St. Hilaire,
sitting in a trench, resumed their game of chess.

Colonel Talbot took a pawn, the first man captured by either since early
spring.

"That was quite a victory," he said.

"Not important!  Not important, Leonidas!"

"And why not, Hector?"

"Because you've left the way to your king easier.  I shall promptly move
along that road."

"As Grant moved through the Wilderness."

"Don't depreciate Grant, Leonidas.  He never stops pounding.  We've
fought two great battles with him in the Wilderness and a third at Cold
Harbor, but he's still out there facing us.  Can't you see the Yankees
with your glasses, Harry?"

"Yes, sir, quite clearly.  They're about to fire a shot from a big gun in
a wood.  There it goes!"

The deep note of the cannon came to them, passed on, and then rolled back
in echoes like a threat.




Appendix: Transcription notes:

The following modifications were applied while transcribing the
printed book to etext:

 Chapter 1
   Page 6, para 1, change "criticise" to "criticize", for consistency
   Page 20, para 6, fix typo, "calvaryman"
   Page 21, para 8, change "things" to "thing"

 Chapter 2
   Page 35, para 2, add missing hyphen in "commander-in-chief"

 Chapter 3
   Page 48, para 1, change "where-ever" to "wherever"
   Page 49, para 2, fix typo, period should be comma
   Page 49, para 2, change "gaints" to "giants", which is my best guess
     as to what it should be

 Chapter 4
   Page 74, para 7, add missing period

 Chapter 7
   Page 124, para 6, fix typo "qouth"
   Page 132, para 14, "Pleasonton" should be "Pleasanton"

 Chapter 10
   Page 182, para 5, add missing close-quotes

 Chapter 11
   Page 208, para 6, add missing close-quotes

 Chapter 12
   Page 229, para 3, fix typo, "dulplicate"

 Chapter 13
   Page 245, para 3, change "with" to "was"

 Chapter 14
   Page 260, para 2, removed a badly-misplaced comma

 Chapter 16
   Page 301, para 4, moved a badly-misplaced comma

Chapter 2, page 34, para 3 contains the phrase "rest and realization".
Probably should be "relaxation", but maybe not, so I left it as is.

The following words were printed with accented vowels or with the "ae"
ligature, but these few occurrences hardly warrant an 8-bit version of
the text:
  cooperation  fete  reentered  Plataea  Thermopylae

As with all the books in this series, there are many instances where
commas seem to be missing or misplaced, but, except as noted above,
I refrained from "fixing" these.






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