Infomotions, Inc.Miss Lou / Roe, Edward Payson, 1838-1888



Author: Roe, Edward Payson, 1838-1888
Title: Miss Lou
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): miss lou; scoville; lou; aun' jinkey; jinkey; whately; chunk; zany; uncle lusthah; baron; perkins; dat; marse scoville; aun' suke; aun' jinkey's; miss baron; miss; uncle; cousin; miss lou's; lieutenant scoville; mad whately; jinkey's cabin
Contributor(s): Wall, Charles Heron [Translator]
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Title: Miss Lou

Author: E. P. Roe

Release Date: March, 2004 [EBook #5309]
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Edition: 10

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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MISS LOU ***




Produced by Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team




THE WORKS OF E. P. ROE

VOLUME NINE

"MISS LOU"


ILLUSTRATED




In Loving Dedication

TO LITTLE MISS LOU MY YOUNGEST DAUGHTER




CONTENTS

     CHAPTER I   A GIRL'S PROTEST

    CHAPTER II   SOMETHING HAPPENS

   CHAPTER III   MAD WHATELY

    CHAPTER IV   AUN' JINKEY'S POLICY

     CHAPTER V   WHATELY'S IDEA OF COURTSHIP

    CHAPTER VI   THE STORM BEGINS

   CHAPTER VII   DANGERS THICKENING

  CHAPTER VIII   "WHEN?"

    CHAPTER IX   PARALYZED WITH SHAME

     CHAPTER X   A BAFFLED DIPLOMATIST

    CHAPTER XI   AUN' JINKEY'S WARNING

   CHAPTER XII   A WHIRLWIND OF EVENTS

  CHAPTER XIII   THE UNEXPECTED HAPPENS

   CHAPTER XIV   A THREAT

    CHAPTER XV   MISS LOU EMANCIPATED

   CHAPTER XVI   A SMILE ON WAR'S GRIM FACE

  CHAPTER XVII   THE JOY OF FREEDOM

 CHAPTER XVIII   A WELL-AIMED SLIPPER

   CHAPTER XIX   A GIRL'S APPEAL

    CHAPTER XX   SCOVILLE'S HOPE

   CHAPTER XXI   TWO STORMS

  CHAPTER XXII   CHUNK'S QUEST

 CHAPTER XXIII   A BOLD SCHEME

  CHAPTER XXIV   A HOME A HOSPITAL

   CHAPTER XXV   A TRIBUTE TO A SOUTHERN GIRL

  CHAPTER XXVI   A BACKGROUND OF EGOTISM

 CHAPTER XXVII   AUN' JINKEY'S SUPREME TEST

CHAPTER XXVIII   TRUTH IF THE HEAVENS FALL

  CHAPTER XXIX   "ANGEL OF DEATH"

   CHAPTER XXX   GLIMPSES OF MOODS AND MINDS

  CHAPTER XXXI   THE DUELLISTS VANQUISHED

 CHAPTER XXXII   SAD TIDINGS

CHAPTER XXXIII   CONSPIRATORS

 CHAPTER XXXIV   CHUNK PLAYS SPOOK

  CHAPTER XXXV   A VISITATION

 CHAPTER XXXVI   UNCLE LUSTHAH EXHORTS

CHAPTER XXXVII   A NEW ROUTINE




"MISS LOU"




CHAPTER I

A GIRL'S PROTEST


A great, rudely built stone chimney was smoking languidly one
afternoon. Leaning against this chimney, as if for protection and
support, was a little cabin gray and decrepit with age. The door of
the cabin stood wide open, for the warm spring was well advanced in
the South. There was no need of a fire, but Aun' Jinkey, the
mistress of the abode, said she "kep' hit bunin' fer comp'ny." She
sat by it now, smoking as lazily as her chimney, in an old chair
which creaked as if in pain when she rocked. She supposed herself to
be in deep meditation, and regarded her corncob pipe not merely a
solace but also as an invaluable assistant to clearness of thought.
Aun' Jinkey had the complacent belief that she could reason out most
questions if she could only smoke and think long enough.
Unfortunately, events would occur which required action, or which
raised new questions before she had had time to solve those
originally presented; yet it would be hard to fancy a more tranquil
order of things than that of which she was a humble part.

The cabin was shaded by grand old oaks and pines, through which the
afternoon sun shone in mild radiance, streaming into the doorway and
making a broad track of light over the uneven floor. But Aun' Jinkey
kept back in the congenial dusk, oblivious to the loveliness of
nature without. At last she removed her pipe from her mouth and
revealed her mental processes in words.

"In all my projeckin' dat chile's wuss'n old mars'r en miss, en de
wah, en de preachin'. I kin kin' ob see troo dem, en w'at dey
dribin' at, but dat chile grow mo' quare en on'countable eb'y day.
Long as she wus took up wid her doll en tame rabbits en pony dar
wa'n't no circum'cutions 'bout her, en now she am all circum'cution.
Not'n gwine 'long plain wid her. She like de run down dar--but win'
en win' ez ef hit had ter go on, en hit couldn't mek up hits min'
which way ter go. Sometime hit larfin' in de sun en den hit steal
away whar you kyant mos' fin' hit. Dat de way wid Miss Lou. She seem
right hyar wid us--she only lil gyurl toder day--en now she 'clinin'
to notions ob her own, en she steal away to whar she tink no one see
her en tink on heaps ob tings. Won'er ef eber, like de run, she
wanter go way off fum us?

"Ole mars'r en ole miss dunno en doan see not'n. Dey kyant. Dey
tinks de worl' al'ays gwine des so, dat means de way dey tink hit
orter go. Ef hit go any oder way, de worl's wrong, not dey. I ain'
sayin' dey is wrong, fer I ain' des tink dat all out'n. 'Long ez she
keeps her foots on de chalk line dey mark out dey ain' projeckin'
how her min' go yere en dar, zigerty-zag wid notions ob her own."

The door darkened, if the radiant girl standing on the threshold
could be said to darken any door. She did not represent the ordinary
Southern type, for her hair was gold in the sun and her eyes blue as
the violets by the brook. They were full of mirth now as she said:
"There you are, Aun' Jinkey, smoking and 'projeckin' as usual. You
look like an old Voudoo woman, and if I didn't know you as my old
mammy--if I should just happen in as a stranger, I'd be afraid of
you."

"Voudoo ooman! How you talks, Miss Lou! I'se a member ob de Baptis'
Church, en you knows it."

"Oh, I know a heap 'mo'n dat,' as you so often say. If you were only
a member of the Baptist Church I wouldn't be running in to see you
so often. Uncle says a member of the Baptist Church has been
stealing some of his chickens."

"I knows some tings 'bout de members ob HE church," replied Aun'
Jinkey, with a toss of her head.

"I reckon you do, more than they would like to see published in the
county paper; but we aren't scandal-mongers, are we, Aun' Jinkey?"
and the young visitor sat down in the doorway and looked across the
green meadow seen through the opening in the trees. A dogwood stood
in the corner of the rail fence, the pink and white of its blossoms
well matching the girl's fair face and her rose-dotted calico gown,
which, in its severe simplicity, revealed her rounded outlines.

Aun' Jinkey watched her curiously, for it was evident that Miss
Lou's thoughts were far away. "Wat you tinkin' 'bout, Miss Lou?" she
asked.

"Oh, I hardly know myself. Come, Aun' Jinkey, be a nice old witch
and tell me my fortune."

"Wat you want ter know yo' fortin fur?"

"I want to know more than I do now. Look here, Aun' Jinkey, does
that run we hear singing yonder go round and round in one place and
with the same current? Doesn't it go on? Uncle and aunt want me to
go round and round, doing the same things and thinking the same
thoughts--not my own thoughts either. Oh, I'm getting so tired of it
all!"

"Lor' now, chile, I wuz des 'parin' you ter dat run in my min',"
said Aun' Jinkey in an awed tone.

"No danger of uncle or aunt comparing me to the run, or anything
else. They never had any children and don't know anything about
young people. They have a sort of prim, old-fashioned ideal of what
the girls in the Baron family should be, and I must become just such
a girl--just like that stiff, queer old portrait of grandma when she
was a girl. Oh, if they knew how tired of it all I am!"

"Bless yo' heart, Miss Lou, you ain' projeckin' anyting?"

"No, I'm just chafing and beating my wings like a caged bird."

"Now see yere, Miss Lou, isn't you onreason'ble? You hab a good
home; mars'r en miss monstus pius, en dey bringin' you up in de
nurter en 'monitions ob de Lawd." "Too much 'monition, Aun' Jinkey.
Uncle and aunt's religion makes me so tired, and they make Sunday so
awfully long. Their religion reminds me of the lavender and camphor
in which they keep their Sunday clothes. And then the pages of the
catechism they have always made me learn, and the long Psalms, too,
for punishment! I don't understand religion, anyway. It seems
something meant to uphold all their views, and anything contrary to
their views isn't right or religious. They don't think much of you
Baptists."

"We ain' sufrin' on dat 'count, chile," remarked Aun' Jinkey, dryly.

"There now, Aun' Jinkey, don't you see? Uncle owns you, yet you
think for yourself and have a religion of your own. If he knew I was
thinking for myself, he'd invoke the memory of all the Barons
against me. I don't know very much about the former Barons, except
that my father was one. According to what I am told, the girl Barons
were the primmest creatures I ever heard of. Then uncle and aunt are
so inconsistent, holding up as they do for my admiration Cousin Mad
Whately. I don't wonder people shorten his name from Madison to Mad,
for if ever there was a wild, reckless fellow, he is. Uncle wants to
bring about a match, because Mad's plantation joins ours. Mad acted
as if he owned me already when he was home last, and yet he knows I
can't abide him. He seems to think I can be subdued like one of his
skittish horses."

"You HAB got a heap on yo' min", Miss Lou, you sho'ly hab. You
sut'ny t'ink too much for a young gyurl."

"I'm eighteen, yet uncle and aunt act toward me in some ways as if I
were still ten years old. How can I help thinking? The thoughts
come. You're a great one to talk against thinking. Uncle says you
don't do much else, and that your thoughts are just like the smoke
of your pipe."

Aun' Jinkey bridled indignantly at first, but, recollecting herself,
said quietly: "I knows my juty ter ole mars'r en'll say not'n gin
'im. He bring you up en gib you a home, Miss Lou. You must
reckermember dat ar."

"I'm in a bad mood, I suppose, but I can't help my thoughts, and
it's kind of a comfort to speak them out. If he only WOULD give me a
home and not make it so much like a prison! Uncle's honest, though,
to the backbone. On my eighteenth birthday he took me into his
office and formally told me about my affairs. I own that part of the
plantation on the far side of the run. He has kept all the accounts
of that part separate, and if it hadn't been for the war I'd have
been rich, and he says I will be rich when the war is over and the
South free. He said he had allowed so much for my bringing up and
for my education, and that the rest was invested, with his own
money, in Confederate bonds. That is all right, and I respect uncle
for his downright integrity, but he wants to manage me just as he
does my plantation. He wishes to produce just such crops of thoughts
as he sows the seeds of, and he would treat my other thoughts like
weeds, which must be hoed out, cut down and burned. Then you see he
hasn't GIVEN me a home, and I'm growing to be a woman. If I am old
enough to own land, am I never to be old enough to own myself?"

"Dar now, Miss Lou, you raisin' mo' questions dan I kin tink out in
a yeah."

"There's dozens more rising in my mind and I can't get rid of them.
Aunt keeps my hands knitting and working for the soldiers, and I
like to do it. I'd like to be a soldier myself, for then I could go
somewhere and do and see something. Life then wouldn't be just doing
things with my hands and being told to think exactly what an old
gentleman and an old lady think. Of course our side is right in this
war, but how can I believe with uncle that nearly all the people in
the North are low, wicked and vile? The idea that every Northern
soldier is a monster is preposterous to me. Uncle forgets that he
has had me taught in United States history. I wish some of them
would just march by this out-of-the-way place, for I would like to
see for myself what they are like."

"Dar, dar, Miss Lou, you gittin' too bumptious. You like de fus'
woman who want ter know too much."

"No," said the girl, her blue eyes becoming dark and earnest, "I
want to know what's true, what's right. I can't believe that uncle
and aunt's narrow, exclusive, comfortless religion came from heaven;
I can't believe that God agrees with uncle as to just what a young
girl should do and think and be, but uncle seems to think that the
wickedest thing I can do is to disagree with him and aunt. Uncle
forgets that there are books in his library, and books make one
think. They tell of life very different from mine. Why, Aun' Jinkey,
just think what a lonely girl I am! You are about the only one I can
talk to. Our neighbors are so far away and we live so secluded that
I scarcely have acquaintances of my own age. Aunt thinks young girls
should be kept out of society until the proper time, and that time
seems no nearer now than ever. If uncle and aunt loved me, it would
be different, but they have just got a stiff set of ideas about
their duty to me and another set about my duty to them. Why, uncle
laughed at a kitten the other day because it was kittenish, but he
has always wanted me to behave with the solemnity of an old cat. Oh,
dear! I'm SO tired. I wish something WOULD happen."

"Hit brokes me all up ter year you talk so, honey, en I bless de
Lawd 'tain' likely any ting gwinter hap'n in dese yere parts. De wah
am ragin' way off fum heah, nobody comin' wid news, en bimeby you
gits mo' settle down. Some day you know de valley ob peace en
quietness."

"See here, Aun' Jinkey," said the girl, with a flash of her eyes,
"you know the little pond off in the woods. That's more peaceful
than the run, isn't it? Well, it's stagnant, too, and full of
snakes. I'd like to know what's going on in the world, but uncle of
late does not even let me read the county paper. I know things are
not going to suit him, for he often frowns and throws the paper into
the fire. That's what provokes me--the whole world must go just to
suit him, or else he is angry."

"Well, now, honey, you hab 'lieve yo' min', en I specs you feel
bettah. You mus' des promis yo' ole mammy dat you be keerful en not
rile up ole mars'r, kase hit'll ony be harder fer you. I'se ole, en
I knows tings do hap'n dough dey of'un come slowlike. You des gwine
troo de woods now, en kyant see fur; bimeby you come ter a clearin'.
Dat boy ob mine be comin' soon fer his pone en bacon. I'se gwinter
do a heap ob tinkin' on all de questions you riz."

"Yes, Aun' Jinkey, I do feel better for speaking out, but I expect I
shall do a heap of thinking too. Good-by," and she strolled away
toward the brook.




CHAPTER II

SOMETHING HAPPENS


It was a moody little stream which Miss Lou was following. She did
not go far before she sat down on a rock and watched the murmuring
waters glide past, conscious meantime of a vague desire to go with
them into the unknown. She was not chafing so much at the monotony
of her life as at its restrictions, its negation of all pleasing
realities, and the persistent pressure upon her attention of a
formal round of duties and more formal and antiquated circle of
thoughts. Only as she stole away into solitudes like the one in
which she now sat dreaming could she escape from the hard
materialism of routine, and chiding for idleness usually followed.
Her aunt, with an abundance of slaves at her command, could have
enjoyed much leisure, yet she was fussily and constantly busy, and
the young girl could not help feeling that much which she was
expected to do was a mere waste of time.

The serene beauty of the evening, the songs of the mocking and other
birds, were not without their effect, however, and she said aloud:
"I might be very happy even here if, like the birds, I had the heart
to sing--and I would sing if I truly lived and had something to live
for."

The sun was approaching the horizon, and she was rising wearily and
reluctantly to return when she heard the report of firearms,
followed by the sound of swiftly galloping horses. Beyond the brook,
on the margin of which she stood, rose a precipitous bank overhung
with vines and bushes, and a few rods further back was a plantation
road descending toward a wide belt of forest. A thick copse and
growth of young trees ran from the top of the bank toward the road,
hiding from her vision that portion of the lane from which the
sounds were approaching. Suddenly half a dozen cavalrymen, whom she
knew to be Federals from their blue uniforms, galloped into view and
passed on in the direction of the forest. One of the group turned
his horse sharply behind the concealing copse and spurred directly
toward her. She had only time to throw up her hands and utter an
involuntary cry of warning about the steep bank, when the horse
sprang through the treacherous shrubbery and fell headlong into the
stream. The rider saw his peril, withdrew his feet from the
stirrups, and in an instinctive effort for self-preservation, threw
himself forward, falling upon the sand almost at the young girl's
feet. He uttered a groan, shivered, and became insensible. A moment
or two later a band in gray galloped by wholly intent upon the
Federals, who had disappeared spurring for the woods, and she
recognized her cousin, Madison Whately, leading the pursuit. Neither
he nor any of his party looked her way, and it was evident that the
Union soldier who had so abruptly diverged from the road behind the
screening copse had not been discovered. The sounds died away as
speedily as they had approached, and all became still again. The
startled birds resumed their songs; the injured horse moved feebly,
and the girl saw that it was bleeding from a wound, but the man at
her feet did not stir. Truly something had happened. What should she
do? Breaking the paralysis of her fear and astonishment, she stepped
to the brook, gathered up water in her hands, and dashed it into the
face of the unconscious man. It had no effect. "Can he be dead?" she
asked herself in horror. He was as pale as his bronzed features
could become, and her woman's soul was touched that one who looked
so strong, who had been so vital a moment before, should now lie
there in pathetic and appealing helplessness. Was that fine, manly
face the visage of one of the terrible, bloodthirsty, unscrupulous
Yankees? Even as she ran to Aun' Jinkey's cottage for help the
thought crossed her mind that the world was not what it had been
represented to her, and that she must learn to think and act for
herself.

As she approached, Chunk, Aun' Jinkey's grandson, appeared coming
from the mansion house. He was nicknamed "Chunk" from his dwarfed
stature and his stout, powerful build. Miss Lou put her finger to
her lips, glanced hastily around, and led the way into the cabin.
She hushed their startled exclamations as she told her story, and
then said, "Aun' Jinkey, if he's alive, you must hide him in your
loft there where Chunk sleeps. Come with me."

In a few moments all three were beside the unconscious form. Chunk
instantly slipped his hand inside the soldier's vest over his heart.
"Hit done beats," he said, quickly, and without further hesitation
he lifted the man as if he had been a child, bore him safely to the
cabin, and laid him on Aun' Jinkey's bed. "Hi, granny, whar dat hot
stuff you gib me fer de belly misery?"

Aun' Jinkey had already found a bottle containing a decoction of the
wild ginger root, and with pewter spoon forced some of the liquid
into the man's mouth. He struggled slightly and began to revive. At
last he opened his eyes and looked with an awed expression at the
young girl who stood at the foot of the bed.

"I hope you feel better now," she said, kindly.

"Are you--am I alive?" he asked.

"Dar now, mars'r, you isn't in heb'n yet, dough Miss Lou, standin'
dar, mout favor de notion. Des you took anoder swaller ob dis
ginger-tea, en den you see me'n Chunk ain' angels."

Chunk grinned and chuckled. "Neber was took fer one in my bawn
days."

The young man did as he was bidden, then turned his eyes wistfully
and questioningly from the two dark visages back to the girl's
sympathetic face.

"You remember," she said, "you were being chased, and turned your
horse toward a steep bank, which you didn't see, and fell."

"Ah, yes--it's all growing clear. You were the woman I caught
glimpse of."

She nodded and said: "I must go now, or some one will come looking
for me. I won't speak--tell about this. I'm not on your side, but
I'm not going to get a helpless man into more trouble. You may trust
Aun' Jinkey and her grandson."

"Dat you kin, mars'r," Chunk ejaculated with peculiar emphasis.

"God bless you, then, for a woman who has a heart. I'm quite content
that you're not an angel," and a smile so lighted up the soldier's
features that she thought she had never seen a pleasanter looking
man.

Worried indeed that she was returning so much later than usual, she
hastened homeward. Half-way up the path to the house she met a tall,
slender negro girl, who exclaimed, "Hi, Miss Lou, ole miss des
gettin' 'stracted 'bout you, en mars'r sez ef you ain' at supper in
five minits he's gwine down to Aun' Jinkey en know what she mean,
meckin' sech' sturbence in de fambly."

"How absurd!" thought the girl. "Being a little late is a
disturbance in the family." But she hastened on, followed by the
girl, who was employed in the capacity of waitress. This girl, Zany
by name, resented in accordance with her own ideas and character the
principle of repression which dominated the household. She threw a
kiss toward the cabin under the trees and shook with silent laughter
as she muttered, "Dat fer you, Chunk. You de beat'nst nigger I eber
see. You mos' ez bro'd ez I is high, yit you'se reachin' arter me. I
des like ter kill mysef lafin' wen we dance tergeder," and she
indulged in a jig-step and antics behind Miss Lou's back until she
came in sight of the windows, then appeared as if following a
hearse.

Miss Lou entered the rear door of the long, two-story house,
surrounded on three sides by a wide piazza. Mr. Baron, a stout,
bald-headed old gentleman, was fuming up and down the dining-room
while his wife sat in grim silence at the foot of the table. It was
evident that they had made stiff, old-fashioned toilets, and both
looked askance at the flushed face of the almost breathless girl,
still in her simple morning costume. Before she could speak her
uncle said, severely, "Since we have waited so long, we will still
wait till you can dress."

The girl was glad to escape to her room in order that she might have
time to frame some excuse before she faced the inquisition in store
for her.

Constitutional traits often assert themselves in a manner contrary
to the prevailing characteristics of a region. Instead of the easy-
going habits of life common to so many of his neighbors, Mr. Baron
was a martinet by nature, and the absence of large, engrossing
duties permitted his mind to dwell on little things and to
exaggerate them out of all proportion. Indeed, it was this utter
lack of perspective in his views and judgments which created for
Miss Lou half her trouble. The sin of tardiness which she had just
committed was treated like a great moral transgression, or rather it
was so frowned upon that it were hard to say he could show his
displeasure at a more heinous offence. The one thought now in Mr.
Baron's mind was that the sacred routine of the day had been broken.
Often there are no greater devotees to routine than those who are
virtually idlers. Endowed with the gift of persistence rather than
with a resolute will, it had become second nature to maintain the
daily order of action and thought which he believed to be his right
to enforce upon his household. Every one chafed under his inexorable
system except his wife. She had married when young, had grown up
into it, and supplemented it with a system of her own which took the
form of a scrupulous and periodical attention to all little details
of housekeeping. There was a constant friction, therefore, between
the careless, indolent natures of the slaves and the precise,
exacting requirements of both master and mistress. Miss Lou, as she
was generally called on the plantation, had grown up into this
routine as a flower blooms in a stiff old garden, and no amount of
repression, admonition and exhortation, not even in her younger days
of punishment, could quench her spirit or benumb her mind. She
submitted, she yielded, with varying degrees of grace or reluctance.
As she increased in years, her thoughts, as we have seen, were
verging more and more on the border of rebellion. But the habit of
obedience and submission still had its influence. Moreover, there
had been no strong motive and little opportunity for independent
action. Hoping not even for tolerance, much less for sympathy, she
kept her thoughts to herself, except as she occasionally relieved
her mind to her old mammy, Aun' Jinkey.

She came into the dining-room hastily at last, but the expression of
her face was impassive and inscrutable. She was received in solemn
silence, broken at first only by the long formal grace which Mr.
Baron never omitted and never varied. In her rebellious mood the
girl thought, "What a queer God it would be if he were pleased with
this old cut-and-dried form of words! All the time uncle's saying
them he is thinking how he'll show me his displeasure."

Mr. Baron evidently concluded that his best method at first would be
an expression of offended dignity, and the meal began in depressing
silence, which Mrs. Baron was naturally the first to break. "It must
be evident to you, Louise," she said in a thin, monotonous voice,
"that the time has come for you to consider and revise your conduct.
The fact that your uncle has been kept waiting for his supper is
only one result of an unhappy change which I have observed, but have
forborne to speak of in the hope that your own conscience and the
influence of your past training would lead you to consider and
conform. Think of the precious moments, indeed I may say hours, that
you have wasted this afternoon in idle converse with an old negress
who is no fit companion for you! You are becoming too old--"

"Too old, aunt? Do you at last recognize the fact that I am growing
older?"

With a faint expression of surprise dawning in her impassive face
Mrs. Baron continued: "Yes, old enough to remember yourself and not
to be compelled to recognize the duties of approaching womanhood. I
truly begin to feel that I must forbid these visits to an old,
ignorant and foolish creature whose ideas are totally at variance
with all that is proper and right."

"Uncle thinks I have approached womanhood sufficiently near to know
something of my business affairs, and even went so far as to suggest
his project of marrying me to my cousin in order to unite in sacred--
I mean legal bonds the two plantations."

The two old people looked at each other, then stared at their niece,
who, with hot face, maintained the pretence of eating her supper.
"Truly, Louise," began Mr. Baron, solemnly, "you are indulging in
strange and unbecoming language. I have revealed to you your
pecuniary affairs, and I have more than once suggested an alliance
which is in accordance with our wishes and your interests, in order
to prove to you how scrupulous we are in promoting your welfare. We
look for grateful recognition and a wise, persistent effort on your
part to further our efforts in your behalf."

"It doesn't seem to me wise to talk to a mere child about property
and marriage," said the girl, breathing quickly in the consciousness
of her temerity and her rising spirit of rebellion.

"You are ceasing to be a mere child," resumed her uncle, severely.

"That cannot be," Miss Lou interrupted. "You and aunt speak to me as
you did years ago when I was a child. Can you expect me to have a
woman's form and not a woman's mind? Are women told exactly what
they must think and do, like little children? Aunt threatens to
forbid visits to my old mammy. If I were but five years old she
couldn't do more. You speak of marrying me to my cousin as if I had
merely the form and appearance of a woman, and no mind or wishes of
my own. I have never said I wanted to marry him or any one."

"Why, Louise, you are verging toward flat rebellion," gasped her
uncle, laying down his knife and fork.

"Oh, no, uncle! I'm merely growing up. You should have kept the
library locked; you should never have had me taught to read, if you
expected me to become the mere shell of a woman, having no ideas of
my own."

"We wish you to have ideas, and have tried to inculcate right
ideas."

"Which means only your ideas, uncle."

"Louise, are you losing your mind?"

"No, uncle, I am beginning to find it, and that I have a right to
use it. I am willing to pay all due respect and deference to you and
to aunt, but I protest against being treated as a child on one hand
and as a wax figure which can be stood up and married to anybody on
the other. I have patiently borne this treatment as long as I can,
and I now reckon the time has come to end it."

Mr. Baron was thunderstruck and his wife was feeling for her
smelling-bottle. Catching a glimpse of Zany, where she stood open-
mouthed in her astonishment, her master said, sternly, "Leave the
room!" Then he added to his niece, "Think of your uttering such wild
talk before one of our people! Don't you know that my will must be
law on this plantation?"

"I'm not one of your people," responded the girl, haughtily. "I'm
your niece, and a Southern girl who will call no man master."

At this moment there was a knock at the door. Without waiting for it
to be opened, a tall, lank man entered and said, hastily, "Mr.
Baron, I reckon there's news which yer orter hear toreckly." He was
the overseer of the plantation.




CHAPTER III

MAD WHATELY


Mr. Baron was one of the few of the landed gentry in the region who
was not known by a military title, and he rather prided himself on
the fact. "I'm a man of peace," he was accustomed to say, and his
neighbors often remarked, "Yes, Baron is peaceable if he has his own
way in everything, but there's no young blood in the county more
ready for a fray than he for a lawsuit." "Law and order" was Mr.
Baron's motto, but by these terms he meant the perpetuity of the
conditions under which he and his ancestors had thus far lived. To
distrust these conditions was the crime of crimes. In his
estimation, therefore, a Northern soldier was a monster surpassed
only by the out-and-out abolitionist. While it had so happened that,
even as a young man, his tastes had been legal rather than military,
he regarded the war of secession as more sacred than any conflict of
the past, and was willing to make great sacrifices for its
maintenance. He had invested all his funds as well as those of his
niece in Confederate bonds, and he had annually contributed a large
portion of the product of his lands to the support of the army.
Living remote from the scenes of actual strife, he had been able to
maintain his illusions and hopes to a far greater extent than many
others of like mind with himself; but as the war drew toward its
close, even the few newspapers he read were compelled to justify
their name in some degree by giving very unpalatable information. As
none are so blind as those who will not see, the old man had testily
pooh-poohed at what he termed "temporary reverses," and his immunity
from disturbance had confirmed his belief that the old order of
things could not materially change. True, some of his slaves had
disappeared, but he had given one who had been caught such a lesson
that the rest had remained quiet if not contented.

The news brought by his overseer became therefore more disturbing
than the strange and preposterous conduct of his niece, and he had
demanded excitedly, "What on earth's the matter, Perkins?"

"Well, sir, fur's I kin mek out, this very plantation's been p'luted
by Yankee soldiers this very evenin'. Yes, sir."

"Great heavens! Perkins," and Mr. Baron sprang from his chair, then
sank back again with an expression suggesting that if the earth
opened next it could not be worse.

"Yes, sir," resumed Perkins, solemnly, "I drawed that much from
Jute. He seen 'em hisself. I noticed a s'pressed 'citement en talk
in the quarters this evenin', an' I follered hit right up an' I ast
roun' till I pinned Jute. He was over the fur side of the run
lookin' fur a stray crow, an' he seen 'em. But they was bein' chased
lively. Mad Whately--beg pardon--Mr. Madison was arter them with
whip and spur. Didn't yer hear a crack of a rifle? I did, and
reckoned it was one o' the Simcoe boys out gunnin', but Jute says
hit was one o' our men fired the shot, en that they chased the Yanks
to'erds the big woods. They was all mounted en goin' it lickity
switch. The thing that sticks in my crop isn't them few what Mr.
Madison chased, but the main body they belongs to. Looks as ef
there's goin' to be a raid down our way."

"If that is so," said Mr. Baron, majestically, "Lieutenant Whately
proves that our brave men are not far off, either, and the way he
chased some of them shows how all the vile invaders will eventually
be driven out of the country. Be vigilant, Perkins, and let it be
understood at the quarters that Lieutenant Whately is within call."

The overseer bowed awkwardly and limped away. His lameness had
secured him immunity from military duty.

"Ah, that's a man for you," said Mr. Baron, glaring at his niece.
"Your cousin is a true scion of Southern chivalry. That is the kind
of a man you do not know whether you wish to marry or not--a brave
defender of our hearths and liberties."

"If he wishes to marry me against my will, he's not a defender of my
liberty," retorted the girl.

"If you had the spirit which should be your birthright your eyes
would flash with joy at the prospect of seeing a hero who could thus
chase your enemies from our soil. If you could only have seen him in
his headlong--"

"I did see him."

"What!"

"I saw Cousin Madison leading a dozen or more men in pursuit of half
a dozen. That does not strike me as sublimely heroic."

"Why haven't you told me of this? How could you have seen him?" and
the old man, in his strong excitement, rose from his chair.

"My reception when I entered was not conducive to conversation. I
was merely sitting by the run and saw both parties gallop past."

"You should have come instantly to me."

"I'm sure I came in hastily," she replied, crimsoning in the
consciousness of her secret, "but I was met as if I had been guilty
of something awful."

"Well, if I had known," began her uncle, in some confusion,
mistaking her color for an expression of anger.

"I think," remarked her aunt, coldly, "that Louise should have
recognized that she had given you just cause for displeasure by her
tardiness, unless it were explained, and she should have explained
at once. I have no patience with the spirit she is displaying."

But Mr. Baron's mind had been diverted to more serious and alarming
considerations than what he characterized mentally as "a girl's
tantrum."

"It makes my blood boil," he said, "to think that this Northern scum
is actually in our neighborhood, and might be at our doors but for
my brave nephew. Thanks to him, they met a righteous reception on
this plantation; thanks to him, in all probability, we are not now
weltering in our blood, with the roof that shelters us blazing over
our heads. If those marauders had found us unprotected, young woman,
you would have rued the day. Their capacity for evil is only
equalled by their opportunities. If your cousin had not flamed after
them like an avenging sword you might have cried loudly enough for
the one of whom, in your fit of unseemly petulance, you can speak so
slightingly. I advise you to go to your room and thank Heaven for
your escape."

"Uncle, are the people of the North savages?"

"Its soldiers are worse than savages. Have you not heard me express
my opinion of them over and over again? Go to your room, and when
you appear again, I trust it will be with the meekness and
submission becoming in a young woman."

When the girl left Aun' Jinkey's cabin the young soldier looked
after her with an expression of deep interest. "Who is she?" he
asked.

"Dat's Miss Lou," said the old negress, forcing into his mouth
another spoonful of her fiery decoction.

"Oh, that's enough, aunty, unless you wish to burn me out like a
hollow log," and he struggled to his feet to ease his tendency to
strangle. "Miss Lou? How should I know who she is?"

"Ob co'se," said Aun' Jinkey, dryly, "I ain' namin' her pedigree."

"You a Linkum man, ain' you?" Chunk asked, quickly.

"Yes, and Lincoln is a good friend of yours."

"Hi! I knows dat. W'at fer you so hidin'-in-de-grass, granny? No use
bein' dat away wid a Linkum man."

"I ain' talkin' 'bout my young mistis to folks ez drap down fum de
clouds."

"You wouldn't like me better if I came up from below, aunty. There
now, I'm not a very bad fellow, and I belong to the army that's
going to make you all free."

"I hasn't des tink out dis question ob bein' free yit. I'se too ole
to wuk much an' old mars'r's took keer on me long time."

"Well, I'se tink it out," put in Chunk, decidedly; "en I'se able to
wuk fer you en me too."

"You mighty peart, Chunk, co'tin' a gal lie a bean-pole a'ready. I
reck'n she spen' all you eber mek. You bettah boos' de Linkum man
into dat ar lof sud'n, kase ef Marse Perkins cotch 'im yere we all
ain' feelin' berry good bimeby."

"Dat ar truer'n preachin'," admitted Chunk, with alacrity. "Des you
tek hol' ob dem ladder rouns, mars'r, an' put yo' foots on my
sho'lers. Dat's hit. Nobody tink ob fin'in' you yere. I'se study how
ter git yo' hoss out of sight 'gin mawnin'."

"You stand by me, Chunk," said the soldier, "and you won't be sorry.
There's a lot of us coming this way soon, and I can be a good friend
of yours and all your people if you help me out of this scrape."

"I'se gwine ter stan' by you, boss. I'se mek up my min' ter be free
dis time, sho! Hi! w'at dat?"

He was wonderfully agile, for his arms were nearly as long as his
legs. In an instant he descended, drawing a trap-door after him.
Then he sauntered to the door, which he opened wide. A troop of
horsemen were coming single file by a path which led near the cabin,
and the foremost asked in a voice which the negro recognized as that
of Lieutenant Whately, "Is that you, Chunk?"

"Dat's me, mars'r. My 'specs."

"Be off, you skeleton. Make time for the house and help get supper
for me and the men. If you don't run like a red deer, I'll ride you
down."

"Good Lawd! w'at gwine ter hap'n nex'?" groaned Chunk, as he
disappeared toward the mansion. He burst like a bombshell into the
kitchen, a small building in the rear of the house.

"Did you eber see de likes?" exclaimed Zany. "What yo' manners--"

"Hi, dar! talk 'bout manners! Marse Whately comin' wid a army, en
want supper fer um all in des one minute en er haf by de clock!"

Great, fat Aun' Suke threw up her hands in despair, and in the brief
silence the tramp of horses and the jingling of sabres were plainly
heard. They all knew Mad Whately, and it needed not that Mrs. Baron,
desperately flurried, should bustle in a few moments later with
orders that all hands should fly around. "What you doing here?" she
asked Chunk, sharply.

"I'se here ter hep, mistis. Dem's my orders from Marse Whately. He
come ridin' by granny's."

"Then go and kill chickens."

A few moments later the dolorous outcry of fowls was added to the
uproar made by the barking dogs.

With a chill of fear Miss Lou, in her chamber, recognized her
cousin's voice, and knew that he, with his band, had come to claim
hospitality at his uncle's hands. What complications did his
presence portend? Truly, the long months of monotony on the old
plantation were broken now. What the end would be she dared not
think, but for the moment her spirit exulted in the excitement which
would at least banish stagnation.

In his secret heart Mr. Baron had hoped that his nephew would go on
to his own home, a few miles further; for applauding him as a hero
was one thing, and having him turn everything upside down at that
hour another. Routine and order were scattered to the winds whenever
Mad Whately made his appearance, but the host's second thoughts led
him to remember that this visitation was infinitely to be preferred
to one from the terrible Yankees; so he threw wide open the door,
and, with his wife, greeted his nephew warmly. Then he shouted for
Perkins to come and look after the horses.

"Ah, mine uncle," cried Whately, "where on earth is to be found a
festive board like yours? Who so ready to fill the flowing bowl
until even the rim is lost to sight, when your defenders have a few
hours to spare in their hard campaigning? You won't entertain angels
unawares to-night. You'd have been like Daniel in the den with none
to stop the lions' mouths, or rather the jackals', had we not
appeared on the scene. The Yanks were bearing down for you like the
wolf on the fold. Where's my pretty cousin?"

Mr. Baron had opened his mouth to speak several times during this
characteristic greeting, and now he hastened to the foot of the
stairs and shouted, "Louise, come down and help your aunt entertain
our guests." Meanwhile Whately stepped to the sideboard and helped
himself liberally to the sherry.

"You know me must maintain discipline," resumed Whately, as his
uncle entered the dining-room. "The night is mild and still. Let a
long table be set on the piazza for my men. I can then pledge them
through the open window, for since I give them such hard service, I
must make amends when I can. Ah, Perkins, have your people rub the
horses till they are ready to prance, then feed them lightly, two
hours later a heavier feed, that's a good fellow! You were born
under a lucky star, uncle. You might now be tied up by your thumbs,
while the Yanks helped themselves."

"It surely was a kind Providence which brought you here, nephew."

"No doubt, no doubt; my good horse, also, and, I may add, the wish
to see my pretty cousin. Ah! here she comes with the blushes of the
morning on her cheeks," but his warmer than a cousinly embrace and
kiss left the crimson of anger in their places.

She drew herself up indignantly to her full height and said, "We
have been discussing the fact that I am quite grown up. I will thank
you to note the change, also."

"Why, so I do," he replied, regarding her with undisguised
admiration; "and old Father Time has touched you only to improve you
in every respect."

"Very well, then," she replied, coldly, "I cannot help the touch of
Father Time, but I wish it understood that I am no longer a child."

"Neither am I, sweet cousin, and I like you as a woman far better."

She left the room abruptly to assist her aunt.

"Jove! uncle, but she has grown to be a beauty. How these girls
blossom out when their time comes! Can it be that I have been absent
a year?"

"Yes, and your last visit was but a flying one."

"And so I fear this one must be. The Yanks are on the move, perhaps
in this direction, and so are we. It was one of their scouting
parties that we ran into. Their horses were fresher than ours and
they separated when once in the shadow of the woods. They won't be
slow, however, in leaving these parts, now they know we are here.
I'm going to take a little well-earned rest between my scoutings,
and make love to my cousin. Olympian humbugs! how handsome and
haughty she has become! I didn't think the little minx had so much
spirit."

"She has suddenly taken the notion that, since she is growing up,
she can snap her fingers at all the powers that be."

"Growing up! Why, uncle, she's grown, and ready to hear me say,
'With all my worldly goods I thee endow.'"

"But the trouble is, she doesn't act as if very ready."

"Oh, tush! she isn't ready to throw herself at the head of any one.
That isn't the way of Southern girls. They want a wooer like a
cyclone, who carries them by storm, marries them nolens volens, and
then they're happy. But to be serious, uncle, in these stormy times
Lou needs a protector. You've escaped for a long time, but no one
can tell now what a day will bring forth. As my wife, Cousin Lou
will command more respect. I can take her within our lines, if
necessary, or send her to a place of safety. Ah, here comes my
blooming aunt to prepare for supper."

"Welcome to The Oaks," she again repeated. "Never more welcome,
since you come as defender as well as guest."

"Yes, aunt; think of a red-whiskered Yank paying his respects
instead of me."

"Don't suggest such horrors, please."

The gentlemen now joined Miss Lou in the parlor, while under Mrs.
Baron's supervision Zany, and Chunk, as gardener and man-of-all-
work, with the aid of others soon set the two tables. Then began a
procession of negroes of all sizes bearing viands from the kitchen.




CHAPTER IV

AUN' JINKEY'S POLICY


Allan Scoville, for such was the Union soldier's name, fully
realized that he was in the enemy's country as he watched through a
cranny in the cabin the shadowy forms of the Confederates file past.
Every bone in his body ached as if it had been broken, and more than
once he moved his arms and legs to assure himself that they were
whole. "Breath was just knocked right out of me," he muttered. "I
hope that's the worst, for this place may soon become too hot for
me. My good horse is not only lost, but I may be lost also through
him. That queer-looking darky, Chunk, is my best hope now unless it
is Miss Lou. Droll, wasn't it, that I should take her for an angel?
What queer thoughts a fellow has when within half an inch of the
seamy side of life! Hanged if I deserve such an awakening as I
thought was blessing my eyes on the other side. From the way I ache,
the other side mayn't be far off yet. Like enough hours will pass
before Chunk comes back, and I must try to propitiate his grandam."

He crawled painfully to the trap-door and, finding a chink in the
boards, looked down into the apartment below. Aun' Jinkey was
smoking as composedly it might seem as if a terrible Yankee, never
seen before, was not over her head, and a band of Confederates who
would have made him a prisoner and punished her were only a few rods
away. A close observer, however, might have noticed that she was not
enjoying languid whiffs, as had been the case in the afternoon. The
old woman had put guile into her pipe as well as tobacco, and she
hoped its smoke would blind suspicious eyes if any were hunting for
a stray Yankee. Chunk's pone and bacon had been put near the fire to
keep warm, and Scoville looked at the viands longingly.

At last he ventured to whisper, "Aun' Jinkey, I am as hungry as a
wolf."

"Hesh!" said the old woman softly. Then she rose, knocked the ashes
from her pipe with great deliberation, and taking a bucket started
for the spring. In going and coming she looked very sharply in all
directions, thus satisfying herself that no one was watching the
cabin. Re-entering, she whispered, "Kin you lif de trap-do'?"

Scoville opened it, and was about to descend. "No, you kyant do
dat," interposed Aun' Jinkey, quickly. "Lie down up dar, en I han'
you Chunk's supper. He gits his'n at de big house. You's got ter
play possum right smart, mars'r, or you git cotched. Den we cotch
it, too. You 'speck I doan know de resk Chunk en me tookin?"

"Forgive me, Aunt Jinkey. But your troubles will soon be over and
you be as free as I am."

"I doesn't want no sech freedom ez you got, mars'r, hid'n en
scrugin' fum tarin' en rarin' red-hot gallopers ez Mad Whately en
his men. Dey'd des bun de ole cabin en me in't ef dey knowed you's
dar. Bettah stop yo' mouf wid yo' supper."

This Scoville was well contented to do for a time, while Aun' Jinkey
smoked and listened with all her ears. Faint sounds came from the
house and the negro quarters, but all was still about the cabin.
Suddenly she took her pipe from her mouth and muttered, "Dar goes a
squinch-owl tootin'. Dat doan mean no good."

"Aunt Jinkey," said Scoville, who was watching her, "that screech-
owl worries you, doesn't it?"

"Dere's mo' kin's ob squinch-owls dan you 'lows on, mars'r. Some
toots fer de sake ob tootin' en some toots in warnin'."

"That one tooted in warning. Don't be surprised if you hear another
very near." He crawled to the cranny under the eaves and Aun' Jinkey
fairly jumped out of her chair as she heard an owl apparently
hooting on the roof with a vigor and truth to nature that utterly
deceived her senses. Scoville repeated the signal, and then crept
back to the chink in the floor. The old woman was trembling and
looking round in dismayed uncertainty. "There," he said, with a low
laugh, "that squinch-owl was I, and the first you heard was one of
my men. Now, like a good soul, make pones and fry bacon for five
men, and you'll have friends who will take good care of you and
Chunk."

"De Lawd he'p me! w'at comin' nex'? Miss Lou wuz a wishin' sump'n ud
hap'n--w'at ain' gwinter hap'n?"

"Nothing will happen to harm you if you do as I say. Our men may
soon be marching this way, and we'll remember our friends when we
come."

"I des hope dere'll be sump'n lef ob me ter reckermember," said Aun'
Jinkey, but she rose to comply with the soldier's requirement,
feeling that her only course was to fall in with the wishes of
whoever happened to be uppermost in the troublous times now
foreseen. She was in a terribly divided state of mind. The questions
she had smoked and thought over so long now pressed with bewildering
rapidity and urgency. An old family slave, she had a strong feeling
of loyalty to her master and mistress. But they had been partially
alienating Miss Lou, for whom she would open her veins, while her
grandson was hot for freedom and looked upon Northern soldiers as
his deliverers. Aun' Jinkey was not sure she wished to be delivered.
That was one of the points she was not through "projeckin'" about.
Alas! events would not wait for her conclusions, although more time
had been given her than to many others forced to contemplate vast
changes. With a shrewd simplicity she decided that it would be wise
to keep on friendly terms with all the contending powers, and do
what in her judgment was best for each.

"Hit des took all de 'visions we got," she remarked, disconsolately.

"You'll soon have visions of more to eat and wear than ever blessed
your eyes," said Scoville, encouragingly.

"Hi! granny," said Chunk, peeping in at the door.

"How you start me!" ejaculated the old woman, sinking into her
chair.

"That you, Chunk?" asked Scoville. "Is the coast clear?"

"I reck'n. Keep shy yet a while, mars'r." A few words explained the
situation, and Chunk added: "You des feed dem Yankees big, granny.
I'se pervide mo'. I mus' go now sud'n. Made Aun' Suke b'lebe dat I
knowed ob chickens w'at roos' in trees, en dey tinks I'se lookin'
fer um. High ole times up ter de house," and he disappeared in the
darkness.

In nervous haste Aun' Jinkey prepared the ample supper. Scoville
hooted again, a shadowy form stole to the cabin for the food, and
disappeared again toward the run. Then Aun' Jinkey prepared to
compose her nerves by another smoke.

"Hand me up a coal for my pipe, also," said Scoville, "and then
we'll have a sociable time."

"I des feared onsosh'ble times dis eb'nin'," remarked Aun' Jinkey.

"If you knew how my bones ached, you'd help me pass the time."

"Reck'n mine ache, too, 'fo' I troo wid dis bus'ness."

"No, Aunt Jinkey, you won't be punished for doing a good deed. Your
young mistress is on your side, anyway. Who is she?"

"Young mistis ain' got no po'r ef dey fin's out. She nuff ter do ter
hol' 'er own."

"How comes it she's friendly to 'we uns,' as you say down here?"

"She ain' friendly. You drap at her feet ez ef you wuz dead, en she
hab a lil gyurlish, soft heart, dat's all. Didn't she tole you dat
she ain' on yo' side?"

"Well, bless her heart, then."

"I circumscribe ter dat ar."

"Aren't you on our side?"

"I'se des 'twix en 'tween all de sides."

"You're all right, Aunt Jinkey. I'd trust you with my life."

"Reck'n you hab ter dis eb'nin'."

"Well, about Miss Lou--you say she has trouble to hold her own.
How's that?"

"Dem's fambly matters."

"And so none of my business, unless she tells me herself."

"How she gwine ter tol' you tings?"

"Ah, Aunt Jinkey, you've vegetated a great while in these slow
parts. I feel it in my bones, sore as they are, that some day I'll
give you a new dress that will make you look like a spike of red
hollyhocks. You'll see changes you don't dream of."

"My haid whirlin' now, mars'r. Hope ter grashus I kin do my wuk ter-
morrer in peace and quietness."

There was neither peace nor quietness at the mansion. Whately, with
a soldier's instincts to make the most of passing opportunities,
added to the hasty tendencies of his own nature, was not only
enjoying the abundant supper, but feasting his eyes meantime on the
charms developed by his cousin in his absence. He knew of his
uncle's wish to unite the two plantations, and had given his assent
to the means, for it had always been his delight to tease, frighten,
and pet his little cousin, whose promise of beauty had been all that
he could desire. Now she evoked a sudden flame of passion, and his
mind, which leaped to conclusions, was already engaged in plans for
consummating their union at once. He sought to break down her
reserve by paying her extravagant compliments, and to excite her
admiration by accounts of battles in which he would not have posed
as hero so plainly had he not been flushed with wine. There was an
ominous fire in her eyes scarcely in accord with her cool demeanor.
Unused to the world, and distrusting her own powers, she made little
effort to reply, taking refuge in comparative silence. This course
encouraged him and her uncle. The former liked her manifestation of
spirit as long as he believed it to be within control. To his
impetuous, imperious nature the idea of a tame, insipid bride was
not agreeable; while Mr. Baron, still under the illusion that she
was yet but a submissive child, thought that her bad mood was
passing and would be gone in the morning. He little dreamed how
swiftly her mind was awakening and developing under the spur of
events. She did not yet know that her cousin was meditating such a
speedy consummation of his purpose, but was aware that he and all
her relatives looked upon her as his predestined wife. Now, as never
before, she shrank from the relation, and in the instinct of self-
preservation resolved never to enter into it.

Her long, rebellious reveries in solitude had prepared her for this
hour, and her proud, excited spirit surprised her by the intensity
of its passionate revolt. Not as a timid, shrinking maiden did she
look at her cousin and his men feasting on the piazza. She glanced
at him, then through the open windows at their burly forms, as one
might face a menace which brought no thought of yielding.

The family resemblance between Whately and herself was strong. He
had her blue eyes, but they were smaller than hers, and his
expression was bold, verging toward recklessness. Her look was
steady and her lips compressed into accord with the firm little
chin.

Mrs. Baron's ideas of decorum soon brought temporary relief. She
also saw that her nephew was becoming too excited to make a good
impression, so she said, "Louise, you may now retire, and I trust
that you will waken tomorrow to the truth that your natural
guardians can best direct your thoughts and actions."

Whately was about to rise in order to bid an affectionate good-
night, but the girl almost fled from the room. In the hall she met
Chunk, who whispered, "Linkum man gittin' peart, Miss Lou."

"She'll be over her tantrum by morning," said Mr. Baron in an
apologetic tone. "Perhaps we'll have to humor her more in little
things."

"That's just where the trouble lies, uncle. You and aunt have tried
to make her feel and act as if as old as yourselves. She's no longer
a child; neither is she exactly a woman. All young creatures at her
age are skittish. Bless you, she wouldn't be a Baron if she hadn't
lots of red, warm blood. So much the better. When I've married her
she'll settle down like other Southern girls."

"I think we had better discuss these matters more privately,
nephew," said Mrs. Baron.

"Beg pardon, I reckon we had, aunt. My advice, however, is that we
act first and discuss afterward."

"We'll talk it over to-morrow, nephew," said Mr. Baron. "Of course
as guardian I must adopt the best and safest plan."

Chunk's ears were long if he was short, and in waiting on a soldier
near the window he caught the purport of this conversation.




CHAPTER V

WHATELY'S IDEA OF COURTSHIP


When waiting on the table, Zany either stood like an image carved
out of black walnut or moved with the angular promptness of an
automaton when a spring is touched. Only the quick roll of her eyes
indicated how observant she was. If, however, she met Chunk in the
hall, or anywhere away from observation, she never lost the
opportunity to torment him. A queer grimace, a surprised stare, an
exasperating derisive giggle, were her only acknowledgments of his
amorous attentions. "Ef I doesn't git eben wid dat niggah, den I eat
a mule," he muttered more than once.

But Chunk was in great spirits and a state of suppressed excitement.
"'Pears ez ef I mout own mysef 'fo' dis moon done waxin' en wanin',"
he thought. "Dere's big times comin,' big times. I'se yeard w'at
hap'n w'en de Yanks go troo de kentry like an ol bull in a crock'ry
sto'." In his duties of waiting on the troopers and clearing the
table he had opportunities of purloining a goodly portion of the
viands, for he remembered that he also had assumed the role of host
with a very meagre larder to draw upon.

Since the Confederates were greatly wearied and were doubly inclined
to sleep from the effects of a hearty supper and liberal potations,
Mr. Baron offered to maintain a watch the early part of the night,
while Perkins was enjoined to sleep with one eye open near the
quarters. Mattresses and quilts were brought down and spread on the
piazza floor, from which soon rose a nasal chorus, "des like," as
Chunk declared, "a frog-pon' in full blas'."

Whately, trained in alert, soldierly ways, slept on the sofa in the
parlor near his men. One after another the lights were extinguished,
and the house became quiet. Chunk was stealing away with his plunder
through the shrubbery in the rear of the house, when he was suddenly
confronted by Zany. "Hi! you niggah!" she whispered, "I'se cotch you
now kyarin' off nuff vittles ter keep you a mont. You gwinter run
away."

"You wan ter run wid me?" asked Chunk, unabashed.

"What you took me fer?"

"Fer better er wuss, w'ite folks say. Reck'n it ud be fer wuss in
dis case."

"I reck'n de wuss ain' fur off. I des step ter ole mars'r an' tell
'im ter 'vestigate yo' cabin dis eb'nin'," she said, and, with a
great show of offended dignity, she was about to move away.

"Look yere, Zany, doan yer be a fool. Doan you wanter be a free
gyurl?"

"Ef you had me fer wuss I'd be des 'bout ez free ez Miss Lou w'en
she mar'ed ter Mad Whately."

"Hi! you year dat, too?"

"I got eyes, en I got years, en you ain' gwinter light out dis night
en lebe yo' granny en we uns. I sut'ny put a spoke in yo' wheel dat
stop hits runnin'."

Chunk was now convinced that he would have to take Zany into his
confidence. He looked cautiously around, then whispered rapidly in
her ear. "Hi!" she exclaimed, softly, "you got longer head dan
body."

"I kin reach ter yo' lips," said Chunk, snatching a kiss.

"Stop dat foolishness!" she exclaimed, giving him a slight cuff.

"Zany, keep mum ez a possum. Dere's big times comin', en no un kin
hender um, dough dey kin git deysefs in a heap ob trouble by
blarnations. De Linkum men soon gwine ter be top of de heap an I'se
gwinter be on top wid um. Dar you be, too, ef you stan's by Miss Lou
en me."

"Ve'y well, but I'se gwinter keep my eye on you, Marse Chunk."

"Reck'n you will, kaze I am' gwinter be fur off; en ef you puts yo'
eye on some oder man, you soon fin' he ain' dar." With this ominous
assurance he stole away.

Soon afterward the hoot of an owl was heard again; shadows
approached the cabin; Scoville, assisted by Chunk, joined them, and
there was a whispered consultation. Scoville put the result in the
following words:

"The chance is a good one, I admit. It is quite possible that we
could capture the Johnnies and their horses, but that's not what
we're out for. Besides, I'm too badly broken up. I couldn't ride to-
night. You must go back to camp, and leave me to follow. Chunk here
has provisions for you. Better be moving, for Whately will probably
be out looking for you in the morning."

So it was decided, and the shadows disappeared. Scoville was put
into Aun' Jinkey's bed, the old woman saying that she would sit up
and watch. Chunk rubbed the bruised and aching body of the Union
scout till he fell asleep, and then the tireless negro went to the
spot where the poor horse had died in the stream. He took off the
saddle and bridle. After a little consideration he diverted the
current, then dug a hole on the lower side of the animal, rolled him
into it, and changed the brook back into its old channel. Carefully
obliterating all traces of his work, he returned to the cabin,
bolted the door, lay down against it so that no one could enter, and
was soon asleep.

The next morning dawned serenely, as if Nature had no sympathy with
the schemes and anxieties to which the several actors in our little
drama wakened. Whately was early on foot, for he felt that he had
much to accomplish. Mr. Baron soon joined him, and the young man
found in his uncle a ready coadjutor in his plans. They were both in
full accord in their desires, although governed by different
motives. The old man was actuated by his long-indulged greed for
land, and wholly under the dominion of his belief that one of the
chief ends of marriage was to unite estates. In this instance he
also had the honest conviction that he was securing the best
interests of his niece. No one could tell what would happen if the
invaders should appear, but he believed that the girl's future could
best be provided for in all respects if she became the wife of a
Confederate officer and a representative of his family.

Sounds of renewed life came from all directions; the troopers rolled
up their blankets, and went to look after their horses; Mrs. Baron
bustled about, giving directions for breakfast; Chunk and Zany
worked under her eye as if they were what she wished them to be, the
automatic performers of her will; Aun' Suke fumed and sputtered like
the bacon in her frying-pan, but accomplished her work with the
promptness of one who knew that no excuses would be taken from
either master or mistress; Miss Lou dusted the parlor, and listened
stolidly to the gallantries of her cousin. He was vastly amused by
her reserve, believing it to be only maidenly coyness.

Breakfast was soon served, for Whately had announced to Mr. Baron
his intention of scouting in the woods where the Federals had
disappeared; also his purpose to visit his home and summon his
mother to his contemplated wedding. He and his men soon rode away,
and the old house and the plantation resumed their normal quiet
aspect.

It had been deemed best not to inform Miss Lou of her cousin's
immediate purpose until his plans were a little more certain and
matured. Circumstances might arise which would prevent his return at
once. Moreover, he had petitioned for the privilege of breaking the
news himself. He believed in a wooing in accordance with his nature,
impetuous and regardless at the time of the shy reluctance of its
object; and it was his theory that the girl taken by storm would
make the most submissive, contented and happy of wives; that women
secretly admired men who thus asserted their will and strength, if
in such assertion every form was complied with, and the impression
given that the man was resistless because he could not resist the
charms which had captivated him. "Why, uncle," he had reasoned, "it
is the strongest compliment that a man can pay a woman, and she will
soon recognize it as such. When once she is married, she will be
glad that she did not have to hesitate and choose, and she will
always believe in the man who was so carried away with her that he
carried her away. My course is best, therefore, on general
principles, while in this particular instance we have every reason
for prompt action. Lou and I have been destined for each other from
childhood, and I'm not willing to leave her to the chances of the
hurly-burly which may soon begin. As my wife I can protect her in
many ways impossible now."




CHAPTER VI

THE STORM BEGINS


Of late years Aun' Jinkey's principal work had been the fine washing
and ironing of the family, in which task she had always been an
adept. For this reason she had been given the cabin near the run and
an unusually fine spring. Miss Lou felt a kindly solicitude and not
a little curiosity in regard to the man who in a sense had been
thrown at her feet for protection. So gathering up some of her
laces, she made them an excuse for another visit to Aun' Jinkey.
Mrs. Baron readily acquiesced, for she felt that if there was to be
a wedding, the whole house must be cleaned from top to bottom.
Moreover, by such occupation her mind could be diverted from the
dire misgivings inspired by the proximity of Yankees. Under the
circumstances, it would be just as well if her niece were absent.

As the girl passed down through the shrubbery, she found Chunk
apparently very busy. Without looking up he said, "Doan be afeard,
Miss Lou, I'se be on de watch. Marse Linkum man right peart dis
mawnin'."

Aun' Jinkey was at her washtub near the door, and the cabin
presented the most innocent aspect imaginable. "Good-morning," said
the girl, affably. "How is your patient?"

"Recovering rapidly, thanks to your kindness and the good friends in
whose care you placed me," answered a hearty voice from the doorway.

Aun' Jinkey made a sort of rush to the door, exclaiming in tones
that were low, yet almost stern, "Marse Linkum man, ef you show
yo'sef--ef you doan stay by dat ar ladder so you git up sud'n, I des
troo wid dis bus'ness! Tain' far ter dem w'at's reskin' dere bodies
en a'most dere souls!"

"You are right, aunty," said Scoville, retreating. "It's wrong for
me to do anything which might bring trouble to you or Chunk; but I
was so eager to thank this other good Samaritan--"

"Well, den, sit by de ladder dar, en Miss Lou kin sit on de do'step.
Den a body kin feel tings ain' comin' ter smash 'fo' dey kin breve."

"Good Samaritan!" repeated Miss Lou, taking her old place in the
doorway where she had so recently wished something would happen;
"you have not fallen among thieves, sir."

"My fear has been that you would think that a thief had fallen among
the good Samaritans. I assure you that I am a Union soldier in good
and regular standing."

"I reckon my uncle and cousin would scout the idea that you, or any
of your army, had any standing whatever."

"That does not matter, so that I can convince you that I would not
do or say anything unbecoming a soldier."

"You are a Yankee, I suppose?" she asked, looking at him with strong
yet shyly expressed interest.

"I suppose I am, in your Southern vernacular. I am from New York
State, and my name is Allan Scoville."

"Uncle says that you Yankees are terrible fellows."

"Do I look as if I would harm you, Miss Lou? Pardon me, I do not
know how else to address you."

"Address me as Miss Baron," she replied, with a droll little
assumption of girlish dignity.

"Well, then, Miss Baron, you have acted the part of a good angel
toward me."

"I don't like such talk," she replied, frowning. "You were merely
thrown helpless at my feet. You didn't look as if you could do the
South much harm then. What I may feel to be my duty hereafter--"

"I have no fears at all of what YOU may do," he interrupted, with a
smile that made his expression very pleasing.

"How so?"

"Because you are incapable of betraying even an enemy, which I am
not to you. On the contrary, I am a grateful man, who would risk his
life to do you a service. The little unpleasantness between the
North and South will pass away, and we shall all be friends again."

"My uncle and cousin--indeed all the people I know--will never look
upon you Northern soldiers as friends."

"Never is a long time. I certainly feel very friendly toward you."

"I wish you to know that I am a Southern girl," she replied stiffly,
"and share in the feelings of my people."

"Well, I'm a Northern man, and share in the feelings of my people.
Can't we agree that this is fair and natural in each case?"

"But why do you all come marauding and trampling on the South?"

"I beg your pardon, Miss Baron, but your question opens up all the
differences between the two sections. I have my views, but am not a
politician--simply a soldier. You and I are not at war. Let us talk
about something else. With your brave cousin enlisting your
sympathies against our side, what use would there be of my saying
anything?"

"My brave cousin does not enlist any of my sympathies; but that,
certainly, is a matter which we cannot talk about."

"Pardon, but your reference to him made it natural--"

"There is no need of speaking of him," she interrupted, coldly. "I
merely meant that he and those with him in what you slightingly term
an unpleasantness can never be friendly to you. This war may be a
small thing to you, but suppose your home and family were in danger,
as ours are?"

"Can you think that this war is a holiday to me?" he asked, gravely.
"What stands between me now and death--perhaps a shameful and
horrible death--except your kindly, womanly impulses? I am hourly in
danger of being caught and treated as a spy."

"Oh, I didn't realize it," said the girl, simply and kindly.
"Everything looks so quiet and lovely. Aun' Jinkey, there, my old
mammy, is at work just as I have seen her for years, and Chunk is
busy yonder in the garden. It is hard to think how suddenly all
might change."

"A soldier must think and be prepared."

"Have you no fear?"

"Life is sweet to me. I know only one thing--I must do my duty and
trust in God. I have the consolation that no one is dependent on me;
no one would grieve for me very much. I'm quite alone in the world.
My crusty old guardian would inherit my property, and you may well
guess that Aunt Jinkey's tub yonder would hold all his tears if I
should make a sudden exit," and again he smiled in his pleasant way,
as if with the purpose to relieve his words of all sombreness.

"Are you an orphan, too?" she asked sympathetically.

"Such a mature, fully developed orphan as I am is not an object of
pity, Miss Baron," he replied, laughing. Then he added, a little
proudly: "I'm nearly twenty-two; I was twenty-one on my last
birthday, and I celebrated it by a ride only less risky than the one
which landed me at your feet. But your little word 'too' suggests
that you are somewhat alone, also. I hope that your father was not
killed in this war?"

"No, my father and mother died long before the war."

"I am glad of that--not glad that they died, but that you cannot
associate me with the causes of their death."

"But you and yours have caused death and suffering to so many
Southern people!"

"Yes, I'm sorry it is so, but things are pretty even on that score.
Your men give as many blows as they take."

"Why did you enter the army?"

"I suppose for about the same reasons that your cousin did."

"Oh, you aren't like my cousin at all. I don't wish you to keep
referring to him."

"Well, then, I thought it was right. There was an urgent call for
men and strong public feeling. I was at college. I couldn't see
others go and not go with them. I had no influence, no one to push
my interests, so I simply enlisted, and am trying to push my way by
extra services. Now, Miss Baron, think for yourself a little. Here
we are, two young people thrown together by a strange chance. We
have been brought up differently, surrounded by different
influences. Even if you think me wrong, can you not believe that
I've followed my conscience and lived up to such light as I had? I
can believe this of you. I don't wish you to think that we Yankees
are monsters. Do I look like a monster? Why, Miss Baron, if I should
live to be a hundred years I should regard a chance to do you a
kindness as the best good-fortune that could befall me."

As he spoke these words his face flushed, there was a slight quiver
in his dark mustache, betokening deep, honest feeling, and his
expression was one of frank admiration and respect. She looked at
him in silent wonder, and asked herself, "Can this be one of the
Yankees of whom I have heard such horrible things?"

She began saying, "I am trying to think for myself, but I have been
so shut out from the world that--" when she was suddenly
interrupted. Chunk appeared and said, "Marse Scoville, des git up de
ladder en shut de trap-do' quicker'n lightnin'. Miss Lou, kin'er
peramberlate slow to'rd de house, des nachel like ez ef you ain'
keerin' 'bout not'n. Wash away, granny. Play possum, ev'y one."

Miss Lou had gone but a little way before Mad Whately joined her,
having ordered his men to pass on before. "Chunk," he shouted, "take
my horse and rub him well, or you'll get rubbed down yourself."

The openings under the eaves in Aun' Jinkey's cabin were so many and
large that Scoville had fairly good opportunities for observing what
was going on in the immediate vicinity. In witnessing the meeting
between Whately and Miss Lou he was conscious of a peculiar
satisfaction when noting that her manner confirmed her words. The
dashing cousin evidently was not in favor. "Well," thought the
scout, with a decisive little nod toward him, "were I a young
Southerner, you'd have a rival that would put you to your best
speed. What a delicious little drawl she has in speaking, and how
charmingly her consonants shade off into vowels! I would be more
readily taken for a Southerner than she, if I did not speak. How
blue her eyes are! and her fluffy hair seemed a golden halo when the
sunshine touched it through the trees. And then how unsophisticated
her face and expression! She is a lady from instinct and breeding,
and yet she is but a sweet-faced child. Well! well! it was an odd
chance to be pitched to the feet of a girl like that. Very possibly
I'd be there again of my own free will should I see her often
enough."

If Scoville were a rival now he certainly would have to take a wild
pace to keep up with Mad Whately in his wooing. His eyes were full
of resolute fire as he walked beside his cousin, and her quick
intuition took speedy alarm at his expression. "Well, sweet coz," he
said, "the Yanks have very prudently dusted back to the region from
which they came. My mother will give herself the pleasure of a visit
at The Oaks this afternoon. Can you guess her object in coming?"

"Why, as you say, to give herself the pleasure of a visit."

"Yes, and you and I will enhance her pleasure a thousand-fold."

"I shall do all that I can in courtesy."

"I'll do the rest, for I shall gladden her heart by marrying you."

"What!"

"Simply that, nothing more. Isn't that enough?"

"Far too much," replied the girl, hotly. "I don't like such
jesting."

"Faith and it will prove the best joke of our lives, over which we
will often laugh at our fireside hereafter. Come now, cousin, make
the best of it; it is the best for you as well as for me. You know I
always intended to marry you, and I have the hearty sanction of all
the high contracting powers."

She stopped abruptly in the path, her face so rich in angry color
that it shamed the flowers blooming in the shrubbery near.

"Mr. Whately," she said, firmly, "there is one contracting power
that you have not consulted. How can you marry me when I WILL not
marry you?"

"Nothing easier, pretty coz."

"But how--how?"

"Oh, that you will learn at the proper time. Everything shall go as
simply, naturally and merrily as fate. The blessing of parent and
guardian, the clergyman in robes, prayer-book, wedding feast--
nothing shall be wanting."

"This is absurd talk," she cried, and rushed to the house. In the
upper hall she encountered her aunt engaged in superintending a
general dusting and polishing of the old-fashioned furniture.

"What is the meaning of this wild talk of Cousin Madison?" the girl
asked, breathlessly.

"I've heard no wild talk," was the cool response.

"Well, come into my room and hear it, then."

Mrs. Baron reluctantly followed, rather aggrieved that she must bear
the first brunt of the storm.

"What are you putting the house in such wonderful order for?" asked
Miss Lou, with flashing eyes. "What do all these preparations mean?
What is Aunt Whately coming here for this evening?"

"It is very natural she should wish to be present at her son's
wedding," was the quiet and exasperating answer.

"When is this wedding to be?" was the next query, accompanied by a
harsh laugh.

"I think we can be ready by to-morrow evening."

"Are you a woman, that you can thus try to sacrifice the motherless
girl committed to your charge?"

"So far from sacrificing you, I am trying to further your best
interests, and at the same time carrying out the wishes of my
husband and your guardian. These are solemn times, in which you need
every safeguard and protection. We should be faithless, indeed, to
our trust did we not give a brave soldier the best right in the
world to shield and care for you."

"Bah!" cried the girl, now almost furious. "Where's uncle?"

"In his office, I suppose."

Whately had preceded her thither, and had already made known to Mr.
Baron the nature of his interview with his cousin, adding: "Our best
policy will be just to take our course as a matter of course, in a
genial, friendly way. We certainly are the girl's best friends, and
it won't be long before she acknowledges the fact. All we do is to
secure her safety, welfare and happiness. She will be as skittish as
a blooded filly over it all at first--a feature in the case which
only increases my admiration and affection. She doesn't and can't
realize the need of the step, how it's best for all concerned in
general and herself in particular. The thing to do, therefore, is to
go right straight along. Mother will be here this evening, and will
do much toward talking her into it. Lou's anger and revolt will
probably be well over by to-morrow, and all--"

Further predictions were interrupted by the swift entrance of the
girl. She stood still a moment and regarded the two men in silent
scorn. "So you are plotting?" she said at last.

"Oh, dear, no, sweet coz. Nothing is more foreign to my nature than
plotting. I am a man of action."

"If your words have any truth or meaning, you are bent on very
dishonorable action."

"Far from it. I shall have the sanction of both Church and State."

"This, then, is the boasted Southern chivalry of which I have heard
so much."

"It has been knightly in all times to protect and rescue lovely
woman."

"I need no protection, except against you. Please leave the room. I
wish to speak to uncle."

He attempted to kiss her hand as he passed out, but she snatched it
away. "Uncle," she said, coming directly to him, "can it be that you
sanction anything so wicked as this? It seems as if you and aunt
were permitting my cousin to put upon me a cruel practical joke."

"Ahem! Your very words, Louise, prove how unfit you are to judge and
act in accordance with this emergency. You even dream that we are in
a mood for jesting at this time, when our days and even hours may be
numbered. No, indeed. I am resolved to unite with my protection all
the power and dignity vested in a Confederate officer."

"In other words, to shield me against some possible danger you will
try to inflict on me the worst thing that could happen."

"Hoity-toity! Is an honorable marriage which has always been
contemplated the worst that could happen? If we are driven forth by
hordes of Northern vandals, you would think it the best thing that
had happened."

"I don't fear these Northern vandals. I have"--and then she checked
herself in time.

"You don't fear them! Why, Louise, every word you speak makes it
more imperative that I should act for one so utterly inexperienced
and ignorant."

"Do you actually mean to say that you will try to marry me against
my will?"

"Certainly, against your present will. Do you suppose that I can be
guided in my solemn trust by your petulance, your ignorant notions
of life, and your almost childish passion? In France, the most
civilized country in the world, parents and guardians arrange these
affairs as a matter of course, and with the best results. It is the
general method all over the world. Far more than mere family and
pecuniary interests are concerned in this instance. We are giving
you a protector in the time of your deepest need."

"How could Lieutenant Whately protect me if the Yankees should come
in numbers?"

"In more ways than you can imagine. Moreover, he would probably be
permitted to escort you and your mother to a place of safety. You
would have his name, and the name of a Confederate officer would
always entitle you to respect."

"Oh, this is dreadful!" cried the girl, bewildered and almost
paralyzed by the old man's inexorable words and manner. So
unsophisticated was she, so accustomed to be governed, that the
impression was strong that she could be controlled even in this
supreme crisis.

She rushed into the parlor, where her cousin was striding up and
down in a whirl of the glad excitement so congenial to his spirit.
"Cousin Madison," she exclaimed, "I know you are hasty and
impetuous, but generous impulses should go with such a nature. You
surely will not use your advantage against an orphan girl?"

"No, indeed, dear coz, not against, but for you. I love you too well
to leave you to the chances of war."

"Oh, but this is the certainty of evil. You know I do not love you.
If you would wait--if you would give me time to think it all over--"

"Why, so you shall when I've escorted you and mother to some place
where none can molest or make you afraid."

"Escort me, then, as I am, under your mother's care. Truly this
would be a better way to win my heart than such hasty violence to
all my feelings and wishes."

"My dear Louise, you may think me a hasty, inconsiderate wooer to-
day, but that is because you do not know all that I know. I must,
like your guardians, be guided by your best welfare. When you learn
to know me as a kind, loyal, considerate husband, you will
appreciate my most friendly and decisive action at this time. You
are in great danger; you may soon be homeless. In the case of one so
young and fair as you are, those who love you, as you know I do
passionately, must act, not in accordance with your passing mood,
but in a way to secure your peace and honor for all time."

"Oh, this is all a terrible dream! You can--you can protect me as
your cousin, should I need any such protection, which I cannot
believe. Northern soldiers are not savages. I know it! I know it!"

"How can you know it? Have I not seen more of them than you have? I
tell you that for the honor of our house I shall and will give you
the protection of my name at once. Your uncle and aunt feel as
strongly as I do about it, and your happiness will be the only
result. We Southern people take no chances in these matters."

Overwhelmed, frightened, bewildered, the girl left the room and
mournfully climbed to her own apartment. She was too utterly
absorbed in her own desperate plight to observe Zany whisking away
in the background.




CHAPTER VII

DANGERS THICKENING


Mr. Baron was scarcely less miserable than his ward, yet from wholly
different causes. His anxieties concerning her were deep indeed, his
very solicitude impelling him toward the plan which he was eager to
consummate. He was distracted by fears and forebodings of every kind
of evil; he was striving to fortify his mind against the dire
misgiving that the Confederacy was in a very bad way, and that a
general breaking up might take place. Indeed his mental condition
was not far removed from that of a man who dreads lest the hitherto
immutable laws of nature are about to end in an inconceivable state
of chaos. What would happen if the old order of things passed away
and the abominable abolitionists obtained fall control? He felt as
if the door of Dante's Inferno might be thrown wide at any moment.
There was no elasticity in his nature, enabling him to cope with
threatening possibilities; no such firmness and fortitude of soul as
he might be required to exercise within the next few hours. To start
with, he was wretched and distracted by the breaking up of the
methodical monotony of his life and household affairs. Since general
wreck and ruin might soon ensue, he had the impulses of those who
try to secure and save what is most valuable and to do at once what
seems vitally important. Amid all this confusion and excitement of
mind his dominant trait of persistence asserted itself. He would
continue trying to the last to carry out the cherished schemes and
purposes of his life; he would not stultify himself by changing his
principles, or even the daily routine of his life, as far as he
could help himself. If events over which he had no control hastened
action, such action should be in harmony with previous purpose to
the extent of his power. The plan, therefore, of marrying his niece
immediately to her cousin doubly commended itself to him. It would
throw around her additional safeguards and relieve him in part from
a heavy responsibility; it would also consummate one of the
cherished intentions of his life. Things might take a happy turn for
the better, and then just so much would be gained and accomplished.

Thus he reasoned, and his nephew spared no pains in confirming his
views. The truth urged by his niece that she did not love her cousin
seemed a small matter to the unemotional, legal mind of the old man
when safety and solid interests were concerned. "A child like
Louise," he said, "must be taken care of, not humored." Mrs. Baron
had long since formed the habit of yielding complete deference to
her husband, and now was sincerely in accord with his views. She had
never had much heart; her marriage had satisfied her ambition, had
been pleasing to her kith and kin, and she saw no good reason why
her niece should not, under any circumstances, form a similar union.
That the girl should revolt now, in the face of such urgent
necessity, was mere perverseness. Sharing in her husband's anxieties
and fears, she found solace and diversion of mind in her beloved
housekeeping. Neither of the old people had the imagination or
experience which could enable them to understand the terror and
distress of their niece, whom with good intentions they were driving
toward a hated union.

Dinner was served two hours later than usual--a fact in itself very
disturbing to Mr. Baron; while Aun' Suke, compelled to cook again
for the Confederate troopers, was in a state of suppressed
irritation, leading her satellites to fear that she might explode.
Small, pale and bloodless as "ole miss" appeared, none of her
domestics dared to rebel openly; but if any little darky came within
the reach of Aun' Suke's wooden spoon, she relieved her feelings
promptly. In dining-room and kitchen, therefore, was seething and
repressed excitement. The very air was electric and charged with
rumors.

Perkins, the overseer, was at his wits' end, also, about the field-
hands. They were impassive or sullen before his face, and abounding
in whispers and significant glances behind his back. What they knew,
how much they knew, he could not discover by any ingenuity of
questioning or threatening, and he was made to feel that excessive
harshness might lead to serious trouble. Disturbing elements were on
all sides, in the air, everywhere, yet he could not lay his finger
on any particular culprit.

Of all the slaves on the plantation, Chunk appeared the most docile
and ready to oblige every one. He waited on the Confederate troopers
with alacrity, and grinned at their chaffing with unflagging good-
nature. In all the little community, which included an anxious Union
scout, Chunk was about the most serene and even-pulsed individual.
Nature had endowed him with more muscle than nerves, more shrewdness
than intellect, and had quite left out the elements of fear and
imagination. He lived intensely in the present; excitement and
bustle were congenial conditions, and his soul exulted in the
prospect of freedom. Moreover, the fact that he had proved himself
to Zany to be no longer a mere object for ridicule added not a
little to his elation. Shrewd as himself, she was true to her word
of keeping an eye on him, and she was compelled to see that he was
acting his part well.

Miss Lou positively refused to come down to dinner. She had buried
her face in her pillow, and was almost crying her eyes out; for in
the confusion of her mind, resulting from her training and
inexperience, she feared that if all her kin insisted on her
marriage, and gave such reasons as had been urged upon her, she must
be married. She was sorely perplexed. Could the Yankees be such
ravening wolves as her uncle and cousin represented them to be?
Certainly one was not, but then he might be different from the
others because he had been to college and was educated.

"He said he would be glad to do me any kindness," she sobbed. "Oh,
if he could only prevent this marriage! Yet what can he do? I could
not even speak to a stranger of my trouble, much less to a Northern
soldier. I wish I could see my old mammy. She's the only one who in
the least understands me and feels a little like a mother toward me.
Oh, what a dreadful thing to be a motherless girl at such a time!"

The powers below stairs concluded that it would be best to leave
Miss Lou to herself for a time, that she might think over and become
reconciled to the need and reasonableness of their action, but Mrs.
Baron considerately sent up her dinner by Zany. The unhappy girl
shook her head and motioned the tray away.

"Hi, now, Miss Lou, w'at you tookin on so fer?" asked the diplomatic
Zany.

"For more than you can understand."

"I un'erstan's a heap mo'n you tink," said Zany, throwing off all
disguise in her strong sympathy. "Marse Whately des set out ter
mar'y you, ez ef you wuz a post dat cud be stood up en mar'd to
enybody at eny time. Hi! Miss Lou, I'se bettah off dan you, fer I
kin pick en choose my ole man."

"Everybody in the world is better off than I am."

"I wudn't stan' it, Miss Lou. I sut'ny wudn't. I'd runned away."

"How could I run away? Where could I go to?"

"See yere, Miss Lou," and Zany sank her voice to a whisper, "dere's
a Linkum man"--

"Hush! how did you know that?"

"Chunk en me's fren's. Don' be 'feard, fer I'd like ter see de gyurl
dat kin beat me playin' possum. Dat Linkum man he'p you ter run
away."

"For shame, Zany! The idea of my going away with a stranger!"

"'Pears to me I'se rudder runned away wid one man dan hab anoder man
runned away wid me."

"Don't ever speak to me of such a thing again."

"Well, den, Miss Lou, de niggahs on dis plantashon des lub you, en
dey ain' hankerin' arter Marse Whately. Ef you say de wud, I des
belebe dey riz right up again dis mar'age."

"Oh, horrible!" said the girl, in whose mind had been instilled the
strong and general dread of a negro insurrection. "There, Zany, you
and Chunk mean kindly, but neither you nor any one can help me. If
either does or says anything to make a disturbance I'll never
forgive you. My cousin and the men with him would kill you all. I'd
rather be left alone, for I must think what to do."

"I ain' sayin' not'n, Miss Lou, sence dat yo' 'quest, but doan you
gib up," and Zany took her departure, resolving to have a conference
with Chunk at the earliest possible moment.

The impossible remedies suggested by Zany depressed Miss Lou all the
more, for they increased her impression of the hopeless character of
her position. She felt that she was being swept forward by
circumstances hard to combat, and how to resist or whether she could
resist, were questions which pressed for an immediate answer. She
possessed a temperament which warned her imperatively against this
hasty marriage, nor was there any hesitancy in her belief that it
would blight her young life beyond remedy. She was not one to moan
or weep helplessly very long, however, and the first gust of passion
and grief having passed, her mind began to clear and face the
situation. Looking out of her window, she saw that her cousin and
his men were mounted and were about to ride away again. Having
waited till they had disappeared, she bathed her eyes and then
descended to her uncle.

"Where has Lieutenant Whately gone?" she asked.

"Your cousin does not forget, even at such a time, that he is a
soldier, and he is scouting the country far and wide. Moreover, it
is his intention to ask the Rev. Dr. Williams to be here to-morrow
evening, and a few friends also. I trust that by that time your
perverse mood will pass away, and that you will unite with your
kindred in their efforts in your behalf."

"Is there no use of reasoning with you, uncle--no use of pleading
with you?"

Perkins stood in the door and knocked to announce his presence.

"Well, what is it?" asked Mr. Baron, nervously.

"Have you heard anything, sir?"

"Good heavens, no! Heard what?"

"Well, sir, I dunno. The field-hands are buzzing like bees, en I
kyant get nothin' out of 'em."

"Well, Perkins, be watchful. Do your best. God only knows what's
coming. You are well armed, I suppose?"

"You may reckon that, sir, en I'll use 'em too, ef need be. The
hands are cute, mighty cute. I kyant lay my finger on any one in
particular, but they're all a sort of bilin' up with 'citement."

"Best to stay among them and be stern and vigilant." When Perkins
withdrew Mr. Baron said to his niece with strong emotion, "You see
we are beset with danger, and you talk of reasoning and pleading
against my best efforts for your safety. There! I'm too harassed,
too overwhelmed with weighty subjects for consideration, to discuss
this matter further. I must give my attention to securing some
papers of vital importance."

Miss Lou departed with the feeling that dangers were thickening on
every hand, and that she was only one of the causes for anxiety in
her uncle's mind. She knew it would be useless to say anything to
her aunt; and with a longing for a little sympathy and advice, she
resolved on another visit to her old mammy, Aun' Jinkey.

The Union soldier had a remote place in the background of her
thoughts, and yet she felt that it was preposterous to hope for
anything from him.




CHAPTER VIII

"WHEN?"


The vigilant eyes and constant demands of her mistress prevented
Zany from giving Chunk more than a few significant hints, but he was
quick to comprehend the situation. When he saw Miss Lou bending her
steps toward his granny's cottage, he thanked his stars that the
garden was in that direction also, and soon apparently was very busy
at a good point from which to observe the cabin. In view of the
approaching wedding Mrs. Baron had given Aun' Jinkey much to do, and
she was busily ironing when Miss Lou again stood within the door.
The old woman's fears had been so greatly aroused that she had
insisted that Scoville should remain in the loft. "Folks 'll be
comin' en gwine all the eb'nin', en ole miss hersef mout step dis
away."

At the same time her heart ached for the young girl. At sight of the
sweet, troubled face the faithful creature just dropped into a
chair, and throwing her apron over her head, rocked back and forth,
moaning "You po' chile, you po' chile!"

"Yes, mammy," cried Miss Lou, forgetting for the moment that a
stranger was within hearing. "I'm in desperate straits, and I don't
know what to do."

The trap-door was lifted instantly, and Scoville was about to
descend.

"You mustn't do dat!" exclaimed Aun' Jinkey. "We's all in mis'ry
anuff now."

"I hope that in no sense I am the cause of it," said Scoville,
earnestly.

"Oh, no," replied Miss Lou, wiping her eyes hastily, "not directly.
Pardon me, I forgot for the moment that you were here. My trouble is
with my family, and you have nothing to do with it except as you
Yankees are coming South and making trouble of every kind."

"Well, Miss Baron," said the scout, regarding her sympathetically
through the open door, "it is too late to talk about our coming
South. Isn't there something I can do for you, to show my gratitude
and good-will?"

"Oh, no, indeed!"

"De bes' ting you kin do, Marse Scoville, is ter shet dat do' an'
kep still; den git back ter yo' folks soon ez you kin trabble. We
uns got des ez much ez we kin stan' up un'er, en ef dey foun' you
yere, hit ud be de worl' comin' ter smash."

"If Miss Baron would tell me her trouble, she might find that I am
not so powerless to help as I seem. Since she has done so much for
me, I have a certain kind of right to do what I can in return."

"You forget, sir, that we are strangers and aliens."

"No one is an alien to me from whom I am accepting life and safety,"
and his glance was so kind and friendly that, in her dire extremity,
she was induced to ask a question.

"If you feel that you owe anything to me," she said, hesitatingly,
"tell me truly, if your people came to this plantation, would our
home be burned and we all be in danger of insult and death?"

"Is that all you fear?" he asked, smiling.

"But answer me on your word and honor."

"No, Miss Baron, not from our regular troops. There are vile
wretches connected with all armies, on your side as well as ours,
who act without orders or any control except their lawless will. If
you and your friends are tortured by the fear of Northern soldiers,
should they come this way, you may set your mind comparatively at
rest. I must add, however, that our troops have to live off the
country, and so take food for man and beast. They also help
themselves to better horses when they find them. I have told you the
truth. Why, believe me, Miss Baron, I would defend you with my life
against any one."

"Oh, dear!" cried the girl, with another rush of tears, "my uncle
believes that our house will be burned and we all murdered, and they
are going to marry me to my cousin against my will, so that he can
take me to a place of safety."

"When?" asked Scoville, excitedly.

"To-morrow evening."

Aun' Jinkey in her trepidation had stepped to the door, and there,
sure enough, was Mrs. Baron coming down the path with her hand full
of crumpled muslins. She had appeared so silently and suddenly
before Chunk that he had started and stared at her. When he tried to
edge off toward the cabin, she had said, sharply, "Keep at your
work. What is the matter with you? I reckon your granny is smoking
instead of doing my work," and she hastened her steps to surprise
the supposed delinquent.

Entering the cabin, she saw only Aun' Jinkey ironing, and her niece
sitting with her handkerchief to her face. "Ah!" said the old lady
to her laundress, "I'm glad you realize the importance of doing my
work when it's needed." Then followed a few brief directions in
regard to the articles she had brought. "Louise, I wish you to come
with me. This is no place for you," concluded Mrs. Baron, turning to
depart.

The girl rose and followed submissively, for she was overwhelmed by
a confused sense of danger, not merely to the Union soldier, but
also to her old mammy, who was sheltering him. The extremity of her
fears and the fact that Chunk had not come to warn them led her to
dread that her aunt's suspicions were already aroused. Chunk gave
her a very anxious look as she passed, but she only shook her head
slightly, as much as to say, "I don't know."

The negro's elation and confidence now passed utterly; he became
deeply alarmed, not only for the scout, but for himself and
grandmother as well. He was not long in coming to a decision.
Whately and his troopers were absent, and now, perhaps, was the best
time to act. After satisfying himself that he was not observed, he
slipped away to the cabin.

When Mrs. Baron finally disappeared, Aun' Jinkey sank into a chair
almost in a state of collapse. "O good Lawd!" she gasped, "I des
tremblin' so in my knee-jints I kyant stan'."

"Courage, Aunt Jinkey," said Scoville, through the chink in the
floor. "Try to get Chunk here as soon as possible."

"I des done beat. I kyant lif my han' no mo'."

"Granny," said Chunk, sauntering in, "you des watch at de do'," and
without waiting for a word he went up the ladder, lifted the door
and closed it.

"Ah, Chunk, I wanted you badly," said Scoville. "Do you think it
possible for me to get away at once?"

"Dat des w'at I come ter see 'bout, mars'r, en I'se gwine wid you.
Marse Whately and he men all done gone till eb'nin'."

"Well, there's no need of further words. See what you can do about
getting horses and a good start. I will explain on the way. Hoot
like an owl when the coast is clear and you are ready."

A few moments later Chunk emerged from the cabin, with careless
mien, eating a pone of hoecake.

"Go back to yer work," shouted Perkins, who was passing in the
distance.

This Chunk did, his eyes following the overseer until the hated form
was lost to sight in a distant field where a squad of hands were at
work. Perkins was simply trying to be ubiquitous that day. Chunk's
next step was to steal to the rear of the stables. To his delight he
found that Whately had left his horse in order that it might rest
for further hard service, and had borrowed one of his uncle's
animals for the afternoon ride. As Chunk was stealthily putting on a
bridle, a gruff voice asked, "What yer doin' thar?"

The negro's heart stood still. Turning quickly, he saw, to his
dismay, one of the Confederate soldiers lying on a pile of straw. A
closer scrutiny revealed that the man was drowsy from partial
intoxication, and Chunk, feeling that he was in for it now, said
boldly: "Marse Whately tole me at dinner ter tek his hoss ter de run
fer a drink en ter limber his jints 'bout dis time in de eb'nin'."

"Very well; bring 'im back safe en sud'n or I'll make you a head
shorter'n you air."

"Ob co'se, mars'r, I do ez I tol'. I des ride ole bay down, too.
Mout ez well took 'im ter water de same time."

The soldier making no response Chunk slipped away with the horses,
trembling as if in an ague fit. Nothing was left for him now but to
get away and take his chances. Fortune in this instance, as it often
does, favored the bolder course. The Confederate soldier was
familiar with Chunk, since he had been the waiter at the troopers'
mess; moreover, his faculties were confused and blunted and he was
soon asleep again. Perkins' back was turned and every one at the
mansion deeply preoccupied. Even Zany, who had been charged not to
leave the dining-room, was not on the watch.

Chunk hastened the horses down the lane toward the run, which having
reached, he looked cautiously around, then hooted in fairly
successful imitation of the ominous bird of night. Aun' Jinkey
dropped into her chair again with an ejaculation of terror.

"Look out of the door and tell me if you see any one," said
Scoville, quickly.

Mechanically she obeyed, saying, "No, mars'r, but dat squinch-owl
des shook me like a ghos'."

Before she knew it he was beside her, his eyes shining with
excitement. "There," he said, putting into the hand he pressed a
ten-dollar bill, "I'll see you again, and you won't be sorry. Good-
by," and with a swift glance around he strode away toward the run. A
moment or two later he was mounted on the bare back of Mad Whately's
horse, following Chunk down the stream so that the flowing water
might obliterate the hoof-prints. They soon left the water and put
their horses to a gallop toward the forest, within whose shades they
disappeared. Both had deemed best not to tell Aun' Jinkey of their
departure, so that she might honestly plead ignorance.

With the unerring instinct of a scout the soldier led the way hour
after hour toward the point where he expected to find the Union
cavalry force. On the way he and Chunk compared notes, and thus
Scoville more truly understood Miss Lou's position. "We must be back
to-morrow afternoon," he said, "in time to prevent this marriage.
So, Chunk, be careful. You must not get sleepy or let your horse
stumble."

Leaving them to pursue their way to the northwest, we can return to
The Oaks. Miss Lou followed her aunt into the house, burdened for
the moment with a new and pressing anxiety. Did the resolute old
lady suspect that one of the class which she most detested had been
concealed within earshot of her voice, and would a search be
instituted? The girl's sympathies had gone out to the stranger, and
the fact that he so trusted her appealed strongly to her woman's
nature. In her alienation from her relatives she was peculiarly
isolated and lonely at just the period in life when she most craved
appreciative understanding, and her intuitions led her to believe
that this stranger could both understand and respect her feelings.
His genial, kindly smile warmed her sore, lonely heart, and
convinced her that there was a world of human affections and simple
faith as well as of imperious wills and formal beliefs. His words in
regard to himself and the North was another shock to her confidence
in her uncle and aunt, and another proof that there was no good
reason for the marriage they were forcing upon her.

For a brief time she watched with keen-eyed interest to see if her
aunt would take any steps to have Aun' Jinkey's cabin searched. Her
mind was soon relieved on this score, for she became convinced that
her uncle was distracted by various anxieties; while Mrs. Baron,
from force of habit and with the purpose of diverting her mind from
all she feared, was pursuing her preparations with restless energy,
keeping every one in her employ as busy as herself. It was evident
that her niece's idle hands and perturbed wanderings to and fro
annoyed her, and at last she broke out: "Louise, it would be much
more becoming in you to unite with me in my efforts. The idea of
your sitting and idly bemoaning your case in that foolish old
woman's cabin! I'm glad you had the grace to show obedience to me
before her, for this is a time when to our people the example of
obedience is most necessary, and you should be the first to set it
in all respects. It will only increase the trouble which your uncle
and Perkins are having if our people see that you are rebellious.
There is much that you should be doing and seeing to, for your uncle
says that it may be best for you to leave the plantation with Mrs.
Whately and her son immediately after your marriage."

"I am not married yet. I shall appeal to Aunt Whately, and if she
has a woman's heart she will not sanction the marriage."

"You will find that because she has a woman's heart, and a Baron's
heart, she will sanction it and insist upon it."

"We shall see," replied the girl, turning to go to her room.

"Louise, it is my wish that you should put your things in order to
be packed hastily, if need be."

Miss Lou made no answer.




CHAPTER IX

PARALYZED WITH SHAME


So far from obeying her aunt's injunctions, Miss Lou sat down by her
window, but she did not note the smiling spring landscape over which
the western sun was throwing its long, misty rays. Tears so blurred
her eyes and blinded her vision that she could scarcely see at all.
At last she was aroused by the crunching of wheels, and became aware
that Mrs. Whately had arrived. From what she knew of this aunt she
had a good deal of hope from her appeal, for Mrs. Whately had always
seemed a kind-hearted woman. True, she had been over-indulgent to
her son, and, in her blind idolatry of this only child, blind to his
faults, always comforting herself with the belief that he was merely
high-spirited and would settle down when he grew older.

Miss Lou wished to speak to the mother before the son returned, and
in the hope of securing a merciful ally in the lady, went down
immediately to receive her. Mr. Baron was on the back porch calling,
"Chunk, where in the mischief are you?" Where, indeed, with the
start he had gained for the Union lines?

"My dear niece," cried Mrs. Whately, effusively, "how glad I am to
see you, and to take you in my arms on this deeply interesting
occasion!" but the matron was troubled at the girl's red eyes and
pallid face.

"I will show you to your room at once," said Mrs. Baron to her
guest, decisively and significantly.

Miss Lou was right in believing that the situation and the unhappy
appearance of the prospective bride would be explained. She had been
forestalled in her chance to make an appeal. Mrs. Baron emphatically
sustained her husband's purpose, concluding: "My dear sister, in
this crisis you will have to take a firm stand with the rest of us.
Louise is acting like a perverse child, and no more realizes the
necessity and wisdom of our course than a baby."

Meantime the outcry for Chunk increased, and Miss Lou was troubled
that he did not respond. Taking advantage of the fact that her
mistress was upstairs, Zany stole swiftly, with many a misgiving, to
Aun' Jinkey's cabin.

"Whar dat gran'boy o' you'n?" she asked, breathlessly.

"Ain' he in de gyardin?"

"No, he ain'. Does you KNOW whar he is? Bettah tell me de truf. Mout
sabe you a heap ob trouble."

"Des you min' yo' business, en doan cum trapesin' yere 'bout Chunk.
You talks ez ef you own 'im."

"Ole mars'r tinks he own 'im, en he des a yellin' fer 'im. De
oberseer hollerin', too, en de lil niggahs runnin' yere, dar, en
yander lookin' fer 'im. Yere one ob um now."

With new and direful forebodings Aun' Jinkey declared loudly: "I
doan know what he be. He ain' say not'n ter me 'bout gwine anywhar."

Uttering an angry and contemptuous exclamation, Zany sped back, and,
with a scared look, said to Miss Lou, "Aun' Jinkey 'clar she dunno
not'n 'bout Chunk's doin's. Ef she ain' foolin' me, I des belebe
he's runned away."

At these tidings and at this suggestion the young girl was almost
distracted. She went instantly to the cabin, supposing that it would
soon be searched.

"Mammy!" she exclaimed, "where's Chunk?"

"Fo' de Lawd, honey, I doan know. I des gwine all ter pieces wid de
goin's on."

"But people will be here looking. Is he up there?" asked the girl in
a whisper.

"No, he des lit out two hour ago, en he guv me dis" (showing the
money), "en say he see me agin. I'se feared he'n Chunk gwine off
togeder."

"Well, you don't know. Hide the money and declare you don't know
anything. I'll stand by you as far as I can."

As she hastened back she saw a Confederate soldier running toward
the house and Perkins limping after him as fast as possible.
Entering the rear door she heard the soldier demanding fiercely of
her uncle, "Where's that cursed nigger you call Chunk?"

"Whom are you addressing, sir?" asked Mr. Baron, indignantly.

"Well, see yere, boss," was the excited reply, "this ere ain't no
time fer standin' on nice words. That cursed nigger o' your'n took
the lieutenant's horse ter the run fer a drink, an one o' your'n
'long of him, en me en Perkins kyant find nary one of 'em."

"Yes, sir," added Perkins in great wrath, "we uns follered the hoof-
prints ter the run en inter the water, en there's no hoof-prints
comin' back. That infernal nigger has lit out with the two horses."

"Why don't you go after him then?" shouted Mr. Baron, distracted
with anger and accumulating perplexities. "He can't be far yet."

"I'd like ter see the hoss on this place that could ketch the
lieutenant's black mare. Oh, why didn't I shoot the nigger?" and the
soldier strode up and down as if demented.

"You deserve to be shot yourself, sir, if you, who had been placed
on guard, permitted that black rascal to take the horses."

"Yes," replied the soldier, desperately, "en the lieutenant is ther
man ter shoot me--cuss his red-hot blood!" and he stalked away
toward the stables as if possessed by a sudden resolve.

Turning to enter the house, Mr. Baron encountered his niece, who had
been a witness to the scene, which explained everything to her. "You
see, you see," cried the old man, "everything going to rack and
ruin! Would to Heaven you could be married to-night and sent away to
a place of safety!"

"Uncle," said the girl, almost fiercely, "did you not hear that man
say of my cousin, 'curse his red-hot blood'? Is that the kind of a
protector you would force upon me?"

"Yes," almost shouted the angry man, "because he has the spirit to
deal justly with such reprobates. He's just the kind of protector
you need in these lurid times, when it seems as if no one could be
trusted. To think that that boy Chunk, who has been treated so well,
could play us such an infernal trick! His old crone of a grandam
must know something about it, and I'll make her tell. Perkins!" and
Mr. Baron rushed toward the door again.

The ladies had now descended and joined the excited group on the
veranda. Zany was listening with craned neck from the dining-room
door, and other "yard folks," great and small, were gathering also.

"What IS the matter?" cried Mrs. Baron.

Paying no heed to her, Mr. Baron said to his overseer, "Aun' Jinkey
must know about this rascally flight and theft. Bring her here."

"Uncle," said Miss Lou, firmly, "Aun' Jinkey doesn't know anything
about Chunk's disappearance. I've been to her cabin and asked her."

"As if the cunning old witch would tell you anything! Bring her
here, I say, Perkins. It's time the spirit of insubordination on
this place received a wholesome check."

"Why!" exclaimed Mrs. Baron, "it seems but a little while ago that
Chunk was working quietly in the garden."

"En I reckon hit ain't much more'n two hours gone sence I seed 'im
comin' out o' the cabin, lazin' and eatin' hoe-cake," added Perkins
as he started angrily to obey his orders.

"He had mischief in his mind, though, now I think of it." resumed
Mrs. Baron, "for he seemed startled when he saw me, and tried to
edge away to the cabin. I thought he was afraid I would catch his
granny smoking instead of doing urgent work. Louise, you were in the
cabin at the time. Why should Chunk be so anxious to get there
before I did?"

"I have not spoken to him this afternoon, and know nothing of his
movements except what I have heard," replied the girl, coldly.

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Mrs. Whately, "what troublous times we've
fallen upon!"

In the silence which followed they heard the gallop of a horse. A
moment later a negro came running up and exclaiming, "Dat sojer in
de stable des saddle he hoss en put out ez ef de debil wuz arter
'im!"

Miss Lou smiled bitterly as she thought, "He evidently doesn't think
it wise to wait for my protector."

At this moment Mad Whately appeared cantering smartly up the avenue
at the head of his men. Throwing his reins to a colored boy, he
strode smilingly up the steps, exclaiming, "Why, this is a regular
committee of reception. I am doubled honored since my fair cousin is
present also."

Miss Lou made no reply, and the expression on all faces led him to
ask quickly, "Why, what's the matter?"

The young man's brow grew black as Mr. Baron gave a hasty
explanation. A half-suppressed oath rose to his lips as he turned on
his heel and shouted to his men, "Halt, there! Let every man mount
and await orders. Simson, you and two others follow the guard I left
with my horse. Where's that nigger who saw him start? Here, you, put
these men on his track as you value your life! Simson, take him,
dead or alive!"

The men saluted, and departed at once. The galloping of their horses
soon died away in the distance. "Now for this beldam," said Whately,
sternly, as Aun' Jinkey approached, tottering in her excess of fear
and accompanied by Perkins.

Miss Lou saw that her cousin was terribly excited; indeed, that he
fairly trembled with passion. She was scarcely less stirred herself,
for she possessed much of the hot blood of her kindled, and during
the last twenty-four hours nearly all that had, occurred tended to
fire her spirit. Now that she saw her own dear old mammy led
cowering under the hostile eyes of every one, she was almost beside
herself with pity and anger. Unaccustomed to conventional restraint,
reacting from long years of repression, a child still in some
respects, in others a passionate woman revolting at a fate from
which her whole nature shrank, she was carried far above and beyond
her normal condition, and was capable of following her impulses,
whatever they might be.

Aun' Jinkey turned her eyes appealingly, and was awed, even in that
terrible moment, by the intensity of the girl's expression, as she
half consciously drew nearer and nearer. The field-hands, deeply
excited, had also edged up from the quarters. Mr. Baron and his
overseer observed yet tolerated this, thinking that it might be just
as well to have the negroes learn from Aun' Jinkey's experience that
authority would still be sternly enforced.

Whately's headlong temperament was so overcome by anger that he
noted nothing except the presence of one whom he believed the aider
and abetter in his great loss, for a favorite and trusty horse is
one of the dearest possessions of a cavalryman.

"Where's your grandson?" he demanded, fiercely.

"'Fo' de Lawd, I dunno," gasped Aun' Jinkey.

"The truth, now, or you'll be sorry."

"I dunno, I dunno. Ef he gone, he ain' say neber a word ter me, not
eben good-by."

"No use of your lying. You knew the rascal's purpose. Why didn't you
tell Mr. Baron? Which way did he go?"

"I des declar, mars'r, I dunno."

"You DO know," cried Whately, driven almost to frenzy, "and I'll cut
the truth out of you."

His whip fell before he could arrest it, but it struck the arm and
shoulder of Miss Lou. She had drawn very near, and, swift as light,
had sprung forward and encircled the form of her mammy. There were
startled exclamations from those near, echoed by a groan from the
negroes, and then the girl spoke in stern, deep tones, "You thought
to strike ONE woman, and you have struck TWO."

Whately dropped his whip and stood with bowed head, paralyzed with
shame. There were wild cries and a swaying of the field-hands toward
the house. The mounted soldiers drew their revolvers and looked from
the thronging black faces to that of their commander, but he paid no
heed to them. Perkins did not wait, however, but drawing his weapon,
began to limp toward the threatening mass, with oaths and orders to
disperse. As for Mr. Baron and the ladies, they were just helpless
in the whirl of events.

Although Miss Lou's back was toward this new phase of the drama, she
instantly and instinctively comprehended it. With a fear almost
hereditary, as well as one vaguely dreaded from childhood, she
recognized the possible horrors of an insurrection, her own action
the indirect cause. She turned and sprang forward so swiftly to
interpose that her comb fell away, and her golden hair streamed
behind her. She stood between the blacks and those who could harm
them; also those whom, in their wild excitement, they were ready to
attack.

"Silence!" she cried; then in the deep hush that followed she called
out, in clear, ringing tones: "Every friend of mine will go back to
quarters, keep quiet, and obey orders. I promise that no harm shall
come to any of you."

The men doffed their ragged hats, and a voice from the crowd
answered, "We 'bey you, Miss Lou, en we won' let no harm come ter
you, noder." Then as the dense, angry mass of a hundred or more men
and women melted away toward the quarters, it was seen that many a
heavy club was carried among them. Miss Lou watched them silently
two or three moments, the rest looking on in wonder and suppressed
anger mingled with fear. The girl returned, and taking her mammy by
the hand, was about to lead her into the house. Whately started as
she essayed to pass him unheedingly, and seized her hand. "Lou,
Cousin Lou, forgive me!" he cried. "You know I meant you no such
indignity."

"I know you mean me a greater one," she replied, coldly, withdrawing
her hand.

"See! I ask your forgiveness on my knees!" he urged, passionately.

But her heart was steeled against him, for her very soul was hot
with indignation. "Come, mammy," she said, firmly, "such shelter and
protection as I still have in this house you shall share."

"Louise, this is monstrous!" began Mrs. Baron.

"NO!" cried the girl. "This poor creature is the nearest approach I
have ever known to a mother. She doesn't know about her grandson,
and no one shall try to cut the truth out of her. Come, mammy," and
she led the trembling old negress up to her room. When hidden from
all eyes her courage and excitement gave way, and she cried on her
mammy's breast like the child she was.




CHAPTER X

A BAFFLED DIPLOMATIST


Miss Lou left consternation, confusion and deep anxiety below
stairs. Mad Whately had his own code of ethics, and he felt as if he
had committed the unpardonable sin. His mother was shocked and
pained beyond measure. She understood the feelings of her son, and
sympathized with him. Drawing him into the parlor, she soothed and
cheered him with the assurance that when his cousin's anger passed
she would explain and intercede.

"Oh, mother!" he exclaimed, "I did love her honestly before, but now
I adore her. I must marry her, and by a lifetime of devotion wipe
out the wrong I did not intend to inflict."

"It will all come about right yet, my boy," she whispered. "I never
understood Louise before. I fear they have been too strict and
unsympathetic in her bringing up, and so she has naturally rebelled
against all their plans. You didn't think at the time--indeed, in
our excitement we all forgot--that Aun' Jinkey was her mammy, and
you know how strong that tie is, even in your case, and you have
always had a mother's love."

"Oh, fool, fool that I was in my mad anger! Brave, grand, heroic
girl! I'd have done as much for my old mammy; or rather I'd have
struck down a general before he should harm her. Oh, mother,
mother!" concluded the much-indulged youth, "I must marry her. She
is just the bride for a soldier."

"Rather than have her fall into the hands of the enemy, we will lead
her to see that it is the only thing to be done," replied Mrs.
Whately.

Perkins had a consultation with Mr. Baron, as far as that
desperately perturbed old gentleman was capable of holding one, the
result of which was the decision to let the negroes alone, provided
they kept quiet and obeyed. It was evident to both of them that the
approach of Union forces, though yet comparatively distant, had
produced the usual demoralizing effects. The government at The Oaks
had not been harsh, but it had been strict and animated by a spirit
which alienated sympathy. The situation was now seen to be too
critical to admit of severity, all the more as the protection of
Whately and his troopers might soon be withdrawn.

It was a silent and depressing meal to which they sat down that
evening, long after the accustomed hour, a fact which Mr. Baron
would not forget, even in the throes of an earthquake. He groaned
over it; he groaned over everything, and especially over his niece,
who had suddenly developed into the most unmanageable element in the
whole vexed problem of the future. He felt that they owed her very
much, and that she held the balance of power through her influence
over the negroes; and yet he was incensed that she was not meek and
submissive as a young woman should be under all circumstances. An
angry spot burned in each of Mrs. Baron's cheeks, for she felt that
Miss Lou's conduct reflected very unfavorably on her bringing up.
She was so scandalized and vexed that she could scarcely think of
anything else. Mrs. Whately was all deprecation and apology, trying
to pour oil on the troubled waters in every way, while her son was
as savagely angry at himself as he had been at poor Aun' Jinkey and
her grandson.

Most fortunately the main feature in the case remained undiscovered.
The fact that a Union scout had been hidden and permitted to depart
would have been another bombshell, and the consequences of its
explosion would have been equally hard to predict or circumscribe.
As it was, Miss Lou and Aun' Jinkey received a certain remorseful
sympathy which they would have forfeited utterly had the truth been
revealed. And the secret did tremble on the lips of Zany. She was
not only greatly aggrieved that Chunk had "runned away" after all,
without her, and had become a sort of hero among his own kind on the
plantation, but she also felt keenly her own enforced insignificance
when she knew so much more than that Chunk had merely decamped. Her
mistress little dreamed, as the girl waited stolidly and sullenly on
the table, that she was so swelling with her secret as to be like a
powder magazine. But fear rather than faith finally sealed Zany's
lips. She was aware that the first question asked would be, "If you
knew so much, why didn't YOU tell?" and she could give no reason
which would save her from condign punishment. Moreover, she hoped
that Chunk would soon return with no end of "Linkum men," and then
her silence would be rewarded.

Supper was sent up to Miss Lou and her guest, and the old woman,
having at last some sense of security, made her first good meal
since "things began to happen." Then she hankered after her pipe.
"I'll get it for you," said the warm-hearted girl. She stole to the
head of the landing, and, the hall below being clear at the moment,
she flitted down and out at the back door, reaching the deserted
cabin unobserved. How desolate it looked in the fading twilight! The
fire was out on the hearth, and the old creaking chair was empty.
But Miss Lou did not think of Aun' Jinkey. Her thoughts were rather
of a stranger whose face had been eloquent of gratitude as he
offered to shield her with his life. Then she remembered his excited
question as to the time of the marriage. "When?" Had her answer
anything to do with the sudden and bold departure? Her heart was in
a sudden flutter. She snatched the corncob pipe and tobacco pouch,
and sped back again in a strange blending of fear and hope. She felt
guilty that she could dare hope to see him, a Yankee, again. "But
his smile was so pleasant and frank!" she murmured. "Oh, I never
remember to have had such genial, honest, unreserved good-will
looked at me by any one except mammy, and she's so old and wrinkled
that she can't look much of anything. What handsome, kind, dark eyes
he had! Yet they would all say, 'He's a monster!'"

She made her way back in safety until she reached the head of the
stairs, and then came plump upon her aunt. "Where have you been?"
asked Mrs. Baron, sharply.

"After Aun' Jinkey's pipe."

"Horrible! I forbid her smoking in this house."

"I shall permit her to smoke in my room."

"You have no right."

"Very well; then I'll go with her to her cabin."

"My dear sister," said Mrs. Whately, putting her hand on the irate
lady's arm, "I think it will be better to let our niece have her way
in such little things. We must remember that she is no longer a
child."

"I think she is acting like a very perverse and foolish one; but
then rather than have any more scenes"--and looking unutterable
things she passed on down the stairs.

"My dear, I wish to see you by and by. Won't you let me?" said Mrs.
Whately. "I wish to see you--I must see you before I sleep," replied
the girl, decisively.

"I'll come up soon, then, dear."

Mrs. Baron reported to her husband what had occurred, but he only
groaned. He was scarcely able to do much else now.

"Oh, hang it!" exclaimed Whately, "what fiend directs my luck this
evening? If I had only known she had gone to the cabin, I could have
compelled her to listen to me and to my apologies."

"No worse luck could have happened," said his mother, entering. "You
must curb your impatience, and so--pardon me for saying it--must
you, brother and sister. You are driving the girl to lengths she
would never have thought of going. She is excited and almost beside
herself. You forget, brother, that she is a Southern girl and a
Baron, and has all the spirit of our race. She is one to be coaxed,
to yield to gentle pressure and firm reasoning, and not to be
driven."

"Oh, curse it! we've made a mess of it, I fear," groaned Whately,
who was capable of violent alternations of mood, and now was in the
valley of humiliation and almost despair.

"Well, you must all let me manage a little now," resumed Mrs.
Whately, somewhat complacently, "or else there is no telling what
trouble you may have."

"Yes, yes," cried her son, "I insist on mother's managing. She has
always obtained what I wanted, and I shall certainly throw my life
away if I don't marry Cousin Lou."

"Madison," said his mother, tearfully, "am I, who have so loaded you
with kindness, of no account?"

"Oh, forgive me, mother, I can't do anything but blunder to-night.
I'm all broken up, distracted by conflicting duties and feelings. I
picked up important information this evening. The Yankee column,
halting in the rich valley to the northwest, have been ranging the
country far and near, loading their wagons and resting their horses.
They will make a move soon, and will come this way just as likely as
not. Our forces are coming up from the South, and there certainly
will be a fight soon somewhere in this region. I received a secret
despatch at the court-house, after seeing the minister, who will be
here early to-morrow evening. After the wedding I intend to escort
mother and my wife south to Cousin Sam Whately's. They certainly
will be out of the Yankee line of march there. Perhaps you and aunt
had better go too."

"No," said Mr. Baron. "I intend to stay and face it out here. I
shall stand or fall on my own hearth."

"And I shall remain with my husband," added Mrs. Baron, firmly.

"Well, nothing worse may happen than a general sack of the place,
but I cannot leave mother and the girl who is to be my wife. I shall
ride over to our place in the morning for the best horse on it, and
to see the overseer. I'll bring back a few papers which I will put
in your charge, uncle."

Thus they discussed the emergency till Mrs. Whately thought she
could venture to Miss Lou's room. Her son accompanied her to the
door and called out, "I give you my word, cousin, that Aun' Jinkey
can go to her cabin, and that no one shall disturb her"; then he
retreated to the parlor again.

When Mrs. Whately entered the room, she witnessed what was not
reassuring. Miss Lou's white shoulder was bare, and upon it was the
long red mark of the whip. Aun' Jinkey was bathing the bruise with
some lotion. "My poor child!" said the lady, "Madison is almost
beside himself with grief and self-reproach."

"Please tell him," replied the girl, "that I'm glad the blow fell on
me instead of mammy."

"Ah, well, my dear, he has asked forgiveness and is profoundly
sorry."

"Hit soon be well, honey. Wish ter grashus hit wuz me dat hab it! en
you barin' hit so patient, too, w'en I smokin'. Dar, I kiver hit up
now, en hit ain' dar in de mawnin'. I reck'n I go back ter de cabin
now, honey. I kin'er used ter my own chimbly corner. Miss Whately
got sump'n ter say ter comfort you."

"Very well, mammy. I'll see that you have no trouble," and the old
woman departed.

"Surely, Louise, you cannot expect any more trouble, after my son
has said there would not be any," said Mrs. Whately, in a somewhat
aggrieved tone.

"You must have seen," was the reply, "that Cousin Madison hasn't
just the kind of self-control which inspires confidence."

"I assure you, Louise, that he regrets his act as much as you can.
You should, in charity, remember his great provocation."

"Well, then," Miss Lou burst out, "let him make amends. Here I am, a
defenceless girl, with all my kindred against me. He should be the
first to defend me."

"So he wishes to do, my dear; and he only craves the most sacred
right to defend you."

"Yes, in his own way, and without any regard to my feelings and
wishes."

"Indeed, my dear, you misjudge him. You have only to yield one point
in order to make him a slave to your wishes."

"But that is yielding everything. Oh, aunt, how can you urge a girl
toward a loveless marriage?"

"Now, my dear, just listen patiently to me for a few moments," began
Mrs. Whately in a wheedling tone. "I am older than you are. I know
young girls are apt to have romantic notions, but when they reach my
age they find that it is ever best to act in view of good and
sufficient reasons. Apart from the terrible emergency that is upon
us, you know that we all have had our hearts set on this marriage
almost ever since you were born, and we have made no secret of the
fact. It would be a terrible disappointment to us if it should not
take place. I fear that life has been too strict and narrow for you
here, but you know that in my home you will dwell in an atmosphere
of kindness and indulgence. I will give up to you whenever you are
ready to take the reins after these sore troubles are over. But,
Louise, you do not realize that we are in the midst of a terrible
emergency. You ought not to remain here. Madison has arranged that
we both go south to his cousin Sam's."

"I don't wish to go!" cried the girl, wringing her hands.

"Now, my dear, can't you just believe that we, who are more
experienced and know the danger, wish to do what is best for you and
what you will soon see was best?"

"No, I cannot! I cannot! I just feel that I can't marry my cousin
without perjuring myself."

"Surely you don't love any one else, Louise?"

"What chance have I had to love anyone, except my old mammy? I don't
know anything about the love which I feel should lead to marriage. I
have just been treated like a child, and then without any girlhood
at all I'm to be married to one that I shrink from. I feel in my
very soul that it's all wrong and unjust."

"But, my dear, you won't feel so after you are a wife and safe in
your own home. You will then feel that you have reached woman's true
place and sphere, without incurring the risks and misfortunes which
befall so many. Your guardians might have shown more tact, perhaps,
but they meant well, and they wish you well, and are seeking only
your welfare. They feel in honor bound to do what is best for you,
and not what, in your inexperience, you may wish at the moment. As
for my son, a warmer-hearted fellow does not breathe. He loves you
fondly. You can influence him, you can control him as no other can,
you have the strongest hold upon him."

"Alas!" said the girl, divining the ultimate truth, "you love him
blindly and wholly; you would sacrifice me, yourself and everything
to him, and because he has always had everything his own way, he
would have me in spite of the whole protest of my being. No one
truly cares for me; no one understands me. I have been thrown back
upon books and my own nature for such knowledge as I now so
desperately need, and I feel that if I am false to my interests, to
what I believe is right, my life is spoiled. I don't wish to marry
any one, and as to all these dangers you so vaguely threaten, I
believe that if there is a good God, he will take care of me."

"Well, my dear," said Mrs. Whately, striving to hide the fact that
she was baffled, "we won't talk any more about it to-night. You are
excited and worried, and incapable of wise judgment. Rest and sleep
are what you need now," and she kissed the girl, who did not return
the caress.

"Wise judgment!" she muttered, bitterly, "what fine words they use!
So you, too, are hopelessly against me. You would give me to your
son just as you used to give him everything he cried for when a
child. Well, then, I'll appeal to the minister himself. I don't
believe he can marry me against my will. At any rate, I shall never
give my consent, never; and perhaps somebody may come in time. My
people are teaching me to fear them even more than the Yankees."




CHAPTER XI

AUN' JINKEY'S WARNING


The night passed like a lull in the storm. Perkins reported that the
negroes were quiet, contenting themselves with whispering and
watchfulness. Aun' Jinkey smoked and dozed in her chair, listening
to every sound, but no "squinch-owl" renewed her fears. The family
at the mansion were too perturbed to sleep much, for all knew that
the morrow must bring decisive events. The three soldiers sent after
the recreant trooper returned from a bootless chase and were allowed
to rest, but Whately saw to it that there was a vigilant watch kept
by relief of guards on the part of the others. He was not very
greatly encouraged by his mother's report, but as the hours passed
the habits of his life and the tendencies of his nature asserted
themselves with increasing force. He would marry his cousin on the
morrow; he would not be balked in his dearest hope and wish. The
very resistance of the girl stimulated his purpose, for throughout
all his life nothing so enhanced his desire for anything as
difficulty and denial. The subduing the girl's high spirit into
subservience to his own was in itself a peculiarly alluring
prospect, and he proved how little he appreciated her character by
whiling away part of the night over "Taming of the Shrew." A
creature of fitful impulse, nurtured into an arrogant sense of
superiority, he banished all compunctions, persuading himself easily
into the belief that as soldier, officer, and lover he was taking
the manly course in going straight forward. "The idea of consulting
a whimsical girl at such a time," he muttered, "when a Yankee horde
may descend on the plantation within forty-eight hours."

Miss Lou was quite as sleepless as himself, and also did a great
deal of thinking. She had too much pride to hide and mope in her
room. Her high, restless spirit craved action, and she determined to
brave whatever happened with the dignity of courage. She would face
them all and assert what she believed to be her rights before them
all, even the clergyman himself. She therefore appeared at the
breakfast table with just enough color in her cheeks and fire in her
eyes to enhance her beauty.

"Ah, this is something like," exclaimed her uncle. "I knew sleep and
thought would bring back good sense."

Mrs. Whately kissed her effusively and Mrs. Baron formally, the girl
submitting with like mien in both instances. Her cousin, in
accordance with his mood and the policy he had adopted, bowed
gallantly and with a touch of grandiloquence in his tone said, "I
again apologize before all for my most unfortunate act last
evening."

She only bowed silently in reply.

Then Whately assumed the air of one who had many and weighty matters
on his mind, his whole conversation conforming to the accepted
belief that they were facing a terrible emergency, and that he, as
the practical head of the family at such a time, must act decisively
for the best good and safety of all. "If I could be governed in this
instance," he said, "only by patriotic feeling I would advise the
destruction of all the forage on the place if convinced that the
Yanks were coming this way, but that would incite them to every
possible outrage. Still, I truly believe that it would be best for
you and aunt to go with us this evening."

"No," said Mr. Baron, "I've settled that."

"Haven't you negroes that you can trust to take the stock off into
the woods for concealment?"

"After Chunk's rascality I won't trust any of them."

"Well, I shall adopt that plan at our place this morning, and leave
as little of value within reach as I can help."

By a sort of tacit agreement it was thought best not to say anything
to Miss Lou except as Mrs. Whately broached the subject, it being
believed that a quiet ignoring of her will and a manifest purpose to
carry out their own would have the most weight in breaking down her
opposition. Indeed it was a shrewd policy, hard for the young girl
to bear up against. Mrs. Baron had been enjoined not to cross her in
little things. The busy housekeeper was too preoccupied to do so had
she been disposed, but it troubled and incensed the girl to the last
degree to see her bustling about, preparing for the wedding as if it
would take place as a matter of course. Mrs. Whately's affectionate
smiles and encouraging words were even harder to endure. That good
lady acted as if Miss Lou were a timid and coy maiden, who merely
needed heartening and reassuring in order to face a brief ordeal,
and then all would be well. Her cousin gallantly lifted her hand to
his lips and then rode away with part of his men, saying cheerfully,
"I'll manage everything for the best."

A vague terror seized upon the girl and she again sought the refuge
of Aun' Jinkey's cabin. She must have some one to speak to who
understood her, who felt for her. She found that Mrs. Baron had been
there before her, urging the completion of certain tasks. Indeed,
the old woman was ironing a white muslin dress which looked very
bridal-like. Miss Lou recognized it as her own gown, which might
naturally be worn on such an occasion.

"Who brought that here?" she asked quickly.

"Ole miss, honey. She said you cud war dis or de one you hab on, des
ez you pleases."

"Aun' Jinkey," said the girl in an awed whisper, "do you think they
can marry me against my will?"

"Miss Lou, I declar ter you I'se been smokin' en projeckin' ober dat
mos' all night."

"Well?"

"Hit 'pears ter me a orfully mux-up question. Yere yo' gyardins, ole
mars'r en ole miss. Dey's des had dere gay on dis plantashon sence I
wuz a gyurl. You wuz trus' ter dem ter be took keer on en you tole
me how he manage yo' prop'ty. He call you he ward. I des dunno w'at
po'r dat ward business gib 'im. I'se yeared en my day ob young
gyurls mar'ed yere en mar'ed dar en dey aim' sayin' much 'bout who
dey mar'y. Folks say dat wuz de way wid ole miss. I reckermember dem
days en I year ole mars'r's fader talk'n wid her fader 'bout w'at
dey call set'l'ments en po'tions. Den ole miss's mammy tole me how
her young miss wuz cool ez a cowcumber, en how she say her folks
know bes' en she sat'sfied; en den how she gib her min' ter w'at she
call her trosso. Why honey, I des doin' up tings ob dat ar trosso
yit."

"That's just the trouble with aunt," said Miss Lou scornfully. "I
don't believe she ever had heart enough to love with."

"Well, I reck'n ole mars'r is projeckin' dis away. Ole miss, she
settle down en tuck hole strong. She des kin'er fall inter he ways
en mek tings hum wid de yard en house folks. She des a nachel-bawn
housekeeper, en we uns all had ter stan 'roun' en do ez she sed
sud'n, we sutn'y did; en ole mars'r, he tink hit be des de same wid
you."

"But it won't, mammy. I'm not like my aunt."

"Dat you ain', honey, bless de Lawd! Ole miss neber stan' 'twix me
en a whip, en she neber run fer my pipe en let her shol'er ache
whiles I smokes like a ole himage. I'se only des a s'plainin' how
dey feels 'bout yo' mar'age."

"Ah, but mammy, you know how I feel about it. I won't marry my
cousin if I can help it."

"Hit's yo' feelin's, honey, w'at des riles up my in'erds so I kyant
hardly wuk. Dat's whar my projeckin' gins out, en I'se kin'er
stump'd 'bout hit. Dey's gwine right 'long wid dere prep'rations des
ez ef dey cud do ez dey pleased. Dunno w'at de law is 'bout hit ef
dere is any law in dese mux-up times. I'se des took clar off my
foots wid all de goin's on. De fiel'-han's at de quarters is bilin'
ober wid 'citement, en dey's sayin' de Linkum men's comin' ter upset
ebryting. Whar dey get de news fum I dunno. Dey sez ole mars'r is
'stracted en ole miss des put her thin lips tergedder ez ef she
gwine ter hab her way ter de las' minit. Ez fer Marse Whately, you
knows he al'ays hab his way, en ef dere isn't eny way he mek it. You
sez de min'ster en folks is comin'? Hit des stumps me fer dem ter go
on so ef dey hasn't de po'r."

"Well, then," said the girl desperately, "they will have to use
force all the way through. I'll never give my consent."

"P'raps w'en de min'ster see dat he woan mar'y you."

"That's just my hope," said the girl, "I--"

A quick step was heard and a moment later Mrs. Baron entered the
cabin. Ostensibly she came for some of the articles which Aun'
Jinkey had ironed, but Miss Lou knew she was under surveillance and
she departed without a word. On entering her room she found that her
little trunk had been packed and locked in her absence and that the
key was gone. She felt that it was but another indignity, another
phase of the strong quiet pressure urging her toward the event she
so dreaded. A hunted, half-desperate look came into her eyes, but
she did not waver in her purpose.

Mrs. Whately knocked, but the girl would not admit her.

Meanwhile Mrs. Baron said to Aun' Jinkey in parting, "See to it that
you don't put foolish notions in my niece's head. We are none of us
in a mood for trifling to-day."

Then the old woman's wrath burst out. "You 'speck I'se feared ter
speak fer dat chile w'at stan' by me so? Bettah be keerful yosef,
mistis; you alls gittin' on ve'y scarey groun' wid Miss Lou. You
tink you kin do wid her w'at you pleases des ez ef she a lil gyurl
baby. I reck'n her moder come out'n her grabe ter look arter you ef
you ain' keerful."

"What do you mean by such language?"

"I mean des dis, mistis. Ef you tinks Miss Lou ole anuff ter mar'y
you know she ain' a chile. Ef she ain' a chile she a woman. Does you
tink you kin tromple on a woman? You kin tromple on me en I am'
sayin' not'n, but you kyant tromple on a wi'te woman like yosef. I
tells you you gittin' on scarey groun' wid Miss Lou."

"If you both had sense you would know we are getting her off scarey
ground, as you call it. All you have to do is to obey my orders and
not meddle."

"Ve'y well, mistis, I'se warn you," said Aun' Jinkey, sullenly
returning to her work.

"Warn me of what?" But the old woman would not vouchsafe another
word.

Mrs. Baron returned to the house, her lips compressed with a firmer
purpose to maintain discipline on deck till the ship went down, if
that was to be the end. Combined with her cold, unimaginative
temperament was a stronger and more resolute spirit than that of her
husband, who now was chiefly governed by his lifelong habit of
persistence. He adhered to his purposes as a man at sea clings to
the ship which he feels is going to pieces beneath him.

Chunk and Scoville reached the Union camp in the gray dawn of the
morning, and the latter soon had an audience with the commanding
officer, with whom he was a favorite scout. The small party which
had been compelled to leave Scoville behind had brought important
information, gained chiefly by the young man's daring and address,
and the general was very glad to see him again and to be assured of
his escape.

"We are ready to move," said the commander, "and the information
brought in by your party has decided me to bear off to the southeast
in order to meet the enemy approaching from the southwest. As soon
as you are rested, Lieutenant Scoville--"

"Sir! what?"

"Yes, I had recommended you for promotion and the order has come."

"If zeal in your service, sir"--began the scout flushing proudly.

"Yes, yes, I understand all that. I remember the men who serve me
well. As soon as you're able to start out in the same direction
again I would like you to do so."

"I'm able now," said Scoville eagerly, and then he briefly related
the situation of affairs at The Oaks, concluding, "If I had twenty-
five men I believe I could not only prevent the marriage but capture
all the Confederates with their information. They have been scouting
up toward us just as we were toward the enemy."

"All right," said the general, laughing. "Perhaps the marriage may
come off yet, only with another groom."

"No, sir," said Scoville, gravely. "The girl befriended me in my
sore need. She is as good and innocent as a child, and I would
shield and respect her as I would my own sister."

"That's the right spirit, Lieutenant. I was not sure how far matters
had gone--in fact, was only jesting."

Scoville made a hearty breakfast, and within an hour, at the head of
over a score of men, was rapidly retracing his steps, Chunk
following in a state of wild elation. They both had been furnished
with fresh horses, and the tough, elastic sinews of the newly-
fledged officer were tense with an unwonted excitement. If those
tearful blue eyes of Miss Lou should welcome him as deliverer this
would be the most memorable day of his life.




CHAPTER XII

A WHIRLWIND OF EVENTS


Whately returned wearing a rather gloomy and angry aspect. He had
threatened his negroes and stormed at them; they had listened in
sullen silence. The overseer had said, "Hit's the old story. They
have heard that the Yanks are near and may come this way. Fact is,
one doesn't know what they haven't heard. They hold together and
keep mum. You can see that all discipline is at an end among 'em."

Whately could only give the man such directions as the emergency
dictated, obtain some valuables, and return chafed and all the more
bent upon securing out of the possible wreck the one object he most
coveted. But Miss Lou puzzled him and perplexed them all. She had
taken refuge in almost absolute silence, and was as unresponsive to
Mrs. Whately's endearments as to her uncle and aunt's
expostulations, while toward Whately she was positively freezing in
her coldness. Troubled and inwardly enraged, he was yet more than
ever determined to carry out his purpose. His orders to his men were
given sharply and sternly, and his mood was so fierce that there was
no longer any affectation or assumption on his part. The girl's
heart fluttered with nameless fears, but she had the strength of
will to maintain the cold, impassive demeanor she had resolved upon.
She felt that it would be useless to make further effort to
influence her kindred, and that if she revealed her purpose to
appeal to the clergyman, they might so prejudice his mind against
her that he would not listen favorably. Fearing that this might be
the case anyway, she found her thoughts turning with increasing
frequency to the possible intervention of the Union scout. She both
hoped for and feared his coming, supported as he would be, in this
instance, by followers who might be so different from himself. She
could not free her mind from the influence of the stories about
Northern soldiers, and yet she was sure that as far as his power
went, they would all be protected. Indeed, one danger menaced so
closely and threateningly she could scarcely think of anything else
than escape and relief from it.

As the sun began to sink in the west her uncle came to her door and
said authoritatively, "Louise, I wish you to come down."

She obeyed without a word and entered the parlor where all were
assembled, noting with dismay that the Rev. Dr. Williams was already
present. Her cousin sought to meet her gallantly, but she evaded him
and took a seat. Mr. Baron began a sort of harangue. "Louise," he
said, "as your guardian and in obedience to my sense of duty in a
great responsibility, I have approved of this marriage. I am
convinced that the time will speedily come when you will be glad
that I--that we all--were firm at this time. Both I and your aunt
are growing old. Troubles, sore indeed even for the young to endure,
are upon us. I am not sure that a roof will cover our gray hairs
much longer. Perhaps in the dead of this very night the ruthless
enemy may come. Now, your aunt Whately's carriage is at the door. A
gallant soldier and a Confederate officer, the choice of all your
kindred, is eager to give you his name and loving protection. He
will take you far away from war's rude alarms, with its attendant
and horrible perils. We have no common foe to deal with, but
monsters animated by unquenchable hatred and a diabolical spirit. I
should betray my trust and be recreant to my duty did I not avail
myself of the one avenue of safety still open to you. See, your
cousin's brave men are mounted, armed, and ready to act as your
escort. Dr. Williams is here to perform his good offices, although
other invited friends have not ventured from home in this time of
peril which recent tidings prove to be increasing every hour. In a
few moments you will be an honored wife, on your way to a place of
refuge, instead of a helpless girl whose defenders may soon be
scattered or dead."

"Truly, Miss Baron," said the clergyman, rising and approaching,
"you cannot hesitate in circumstances like these."

Miss Lou felt her tongue clinging to the roof of her mouth, and
could only say in a hoarse whisper, "But I do not love my cousin--I
do not wish to marry."

"That may be your feeling at this moment. Indeed, circumstances are
not conducive to gentle amatory feelings, and all may seem sudden
and hasty to you, but you must consider that your relatives in this
emergency--indeed that all your neighbors--are doing many things and
taking many precautions that would not be thought of in a time of
security. I have already sent my own family further South, and now
in your case and Mrs. Whately's I feel that time is pressing. Will
you please rise and take your cousin by the hand?"

She shook her head and remained motionless. Whately advanced
decisively, took her hand, and sought gently to draw her into
position before the clergyman. His touch broke the spell, the
paralysis of dread, and she burst out, "No, no, you cannot marry me
when my whole soul protests. I will not be married!"

"Louise, I command you," began Mr. Baron excitedly.

"It makes no difference. I will not! I will not!" was the passionate
and almost despairing response.

"Oh, come, cousin, you are just excited, frightened, and off your
balance," said Whately soothingly.

"My dear Miss Baron," added the clergyman, "let me reassure you. It
is evident that you are a little nervous and hysterical. Pray be
calm and trust your relatives to do what is best for you. I do not
wonder that your nerves have given way and that--"

"My nerves have not given way. Unfriended child that I am, I must
not lose self-control. God grant that my WILL does not give way."

"Unfriended!" exclaimed Mrs. Whately reproachfully. "Few girls in
these times have so many to care and think for them. We are all bent
on securing your welfare at every cost."

"Yes, at every cost to me."

"Dr. Williams sees the wisdom and reasonableness of our course. My
son is even straining his sense of military duty to escort us to a
place of safety, where you will still be among relatives."

"Then let him escort me as his cousin, not his wife," cried the
girl.

"But, Miss Baron, in the turmoil and confusion which may ensue you
will be far safer as his wife," Dr. Williams urged. "I would have
been glad if I could have given my daughter like protection. Truly,
it is not wise to be swayed by mere nervous excitement at such a
time."

"Oh, even you, from whom I hoped so much, are against me!"

"No, my dear child," replied the minister, earnestly and sincerely,
"I am for you always, but I cannot help seeing, with your relatives,
that at present you are not in the quiet state of mind which would
enable you to act wisely for yourself. What earthly motive could I
have except your safety, welfare and happiness?"

"Well, then," said the girl, with a swift glance around and as if
turning into stone, "do your worst. I will never give my consent,
NEVER!"

They looked at each other perplexedly and inquiringly, as if to ask
what should be done, when Perkins burst in at the back door of the
hallway shouting, "The Yanks!"

The girl sank into a chair and covered her burning face for an
instant. Deep in her soul she divined who her rescuer was, yet in
the midst of her hope she felt a certain consciousness of guilt and
fear. Mr. Baron, Dr. Williams, and the ladies, half-paralyzed, yet
drawn by a dreadful fascination, approached the open windows. Mad
Whately now played a better part. He was in full uniform and his
horse stood saddled without. He went to it, mounted with almost the
swiftness of light, and was just in time to see the Federals sweep
around the drive which led to the stables. Scoville had brought his
little force by the familiar way of Aun' Jinkey's cabin. Furious at
being forestalled, and in obedience to a headlong courage which none
disputed, Whately's sabre flashed instantly in the rays of the
sinking sun, and his command, "Charge!" rang clear, without a
second's hesitancy.

The order echoed in the girl's heart and she felt that she had too
much at stake not to witness the conflict. Her own high spirit also
prompted the act, and in a moment she was out on the veranda. She
saw her cousin spur directly toward the leader of the Federals, in
whom she recognized the Union scout. His men came galloping after
him, but seemed more inclined to envelop and surround the
Confederates than to engage in hand-to-hand conflicts. The latter
were experienced veterans and quickly recognized that they were
being overpowered and that there was no use in throwing away their
lives. Hasty shots were fired, a few sabres clashed, but the demand,
"Surrender!" heard on all sides, was so well enforced by the aspect
of the situation that compliance soon began. Scoville and Whately,
with those immediately about them, maintained the conflict. The two
young officers were evenly matched as swordsmen, although the
Federal was the larger, stronger, and cooler man. As a result, their
duel was quickly terminated by the loss of Whately's sabre, wrenched
from his hand. Then the point of his foe's weapon threatened his
throat, and the word "Surrender!" was thundered in his ears.

Instead of complying, he fell from his horse as if shot, lay still
an instant, and then in the confusion of the melee glided through an
adjacent basement door and disappeared. Seeing him fall, his mother
uttered a wild shriek and gave way to almost hysterical grief. A
backward glance revealed to Whately that the fight was lost, or
rather that it had been hopeless from the first, and his one thought
now was to escape and lead back a larger force for the purposes of
both rescue and vengeance. Gaining a rear door, a bound took him to
some shrubbery. A second later he was behind the kitchen. Aun' Suke
saw him, threw up her hands, and uttered an inarticulate cry. A
moment or two more and he was in the stable, leading out a horse.
All attention was now so concentrated in front of the mansion that
he was not observed. He took only time to slip on a bridle, then
springing on the animal's bare back, he struck into a field behind a
clump of trees. Putting the horse to a run, he was soon beyond
successful pursuit. Some of his own men had seen him fall before
they were driven back, and believed that he was either wounded or
dead; thronging Federals, unaware of the circumstances, occupied the
ground, and only Miss Lou, with an immense burden lifted from her
heart, saw his ruse and flight. She wished him well sincerely if he
would only leave her to herself. Hastening to Mrs. Whately she
speedily restored the lady with assurances of her son's escape, then
with her joined the group on the veranda. Mr. Baron, in the crisis
of his affairs and as the head of the family, maintained a dignity
and composure which of late had been lacking.

Scoville paid no heed to them until every vestige of resistance had
ceased and the Confederates were disarmed and collected as
prisoners. Then sitting on his horse in front of the piazza steps he
rapidly gave his orders. His first act was to send a vedette down
the avenue toward the main road; then he selected five men, saying,
"Take charge of the stables, barn, and out-buildings. Keep them as
they are and permit no one to approach without my written orders."

At this moment the field-hands, who had been surging nearer and
nearer, sent forward a sort of improvised deputation. They
approached bowing, with hats in hand and wistful looks in their
eyes. Were these in truth the messengers of freedom of whom they had
heard so much? Mr. Baron almost gnashed his teeth as he witnessed
this action on the part of his property.

"Mars'r," said the spokesman, "I reck'n you got good news for we
uns."

"Yes, good news. You are all free." His words rang out so that they
were heard by every one. Shouts and cries of exultation followed
like an echo, and ragged hats were tossed high in joy.

The young soldier raised his hand with a warning and repressive
gesture. In the silence that ensued he added, "My men here are both
free and white, yet they must obey orders. So must you. Go back to
your quarters and prove yourselves worthy of freedom by quiet
behavior and honesty. If I find any one, black or white, acting the
part of a thief while I am in charge it will go hard with him. The
general will be here to-morrow and he will advise you further."

His words found immediate acceptance, the negroes returning to the
quarters, laughing and chatting joyously, not a few wiping tears of
deep emotion from their eyes. The long-expected day had come. They
little knew what the future had in store for them, but this was the
beginning of a new era and the fulfilment of a great hope.

Scoville now dismounted and gave the reins to Chunk, who stood near
with a droll assumption of soldier-like stiffness and oblivion to
all the well-known faces. Mounting the steps, cap in hand, the young
officer approached Mr. Baron, who was becoming a little assured that
the orders thus far heard had not included a general application of
the torch.

"Mr. Baron, I presume?" said Scoville.

"Yes, sir," was the stiff reply.

"The ladies of your household, I suppose?"

"They are."

Scoville bowed ceremoniously to each, giving Miss Lou no other sign
of recognition than a humorous twinkle in his eye. "Ladies," he
began, "since it is the fortune of war that I must have command here
for a brief time, I hasten to assure you that we shall give as
little annoyance as possible. A few men on both sides were wounded,
and I fear that the officer commanding your men was killed. At least
I saw him fall. The night is warm and still and I can make a
hospital here on the piazza with a little aid from you. Please
dismiss all further fears. Unless we are attacked, the night shall
pass quietly. Each and every one will be treated with respect and
courtesy. I must request of you, however, sir," addressing Mr.
Baron, "food for myself and men and forage for our horses."

"I suppose you will take them anyway," growled the unwilling host.

"Certainly," replied Scoville, giving him a steady look. "Do you
expect us to go hungry? I shall do my duty as a soldier and an
officer, as well as deport myself as a gentleman."

There was nothing left but for Mr. Baron to give his directions to
Perkins, or for the ladies to make preparations for the improvised
hospital. Miss Lou gratefully recognized that Scoville did not
intend to compromise her in the least nor reveal his previous
acquaintance unless it should become known through no fault of his.
She lingered a moment as Dr. Williams stepped forward and asked,
"May I be permitted to return to my home?"

"I trust so, certainly, sir, but my duty requires brief explanation
on your part and pledges that you will take no hostile action. We
are not among friends, you know."

"I can very readily account for myself, sir," was the stiff
response. "I was summoned here to perform a wedding ceremony which
your most inopportune arrival prevented. I am a man of peace, not of
war, yet I cannot and will not give any pledges."

"It is scarcely fair then, sir, for you to take refuge in your
calling, but I will waive that point. I must warn you, however, that
we can give protection to those only who do not seek to harm us. You
are at liberty. Good-evening, sir."

He had extracted from the clergyman the fact that he had arrived in
time, and he again gave the girl in the doorway a mirthful glance,
then turned on his heel to attend to his military duties.

Miss Lou hastened to her room with hot cheeks.




CHAPTER XIII

THE UNEXPECTED HAPPENS


Scoville soon learned that his opponent, so far from being killed or
even wounded, had escaped. He was not much worried by this fact,
believing that before the Confederate officer could reach his
friends and bring back an attacking force, the Federal column would
be on the ground. Indeed, he was glad that the family upon which he
had quartered himself could not associate him with so terrible a
calamity. The young girl might not wish to marry her cousin, yet be
sorry if he were fatally or even seriously wounded, while the rest
of the household would be plunged in the deepest distress. Although
a resolute soldier, Scoville was a kind-hearted fellow, and disposed
to take the most genial views of life that circumstances permitted.
There was a humor about his present situation which he relished
exceedingly. He was buoyant over the interrupted wedding, and bent
upon disappointing Mr. Baron in all his grewsome expectations in
regard to the Yankees. There should be discipline, order, quiet, and
an utter absence of all high-tragedy. He cautioned his men against
the slightest tendency to excess, even forbidding the chaffing of
the negroes and noisiness. A steer, a pig, and some fowls were
killed for supper, and the wood for cooking it was taken from an
ample pile in the rear of the house. Happily, none were seriously
wounded, and being veterans were able to do much for one another,
while an elderly man in the troop who had some rude surgical
experience, supplemented their efforts. Miss Lou speedily joined her
aunts in rummaging for old linen for bandages, and the performance
of human duty by the elderly ladies dulled the edge of the terrible
truth that they were in the hands of the Yankees. True, they had to
admit to themselves that the young soldier did not appear like a
"ruthless monster" and that his conduct thus far had been almost
ceremoniously polite; yet all this might be but a blind on the part
of a cunning and unscrupulous foe.

When they came down to the veranda with the materials required, the
unscrupulous foe met them, cap in hand, thanked them courteously,
and gave his entire attention to the wounded, treating the men of
both sides alike. Mrs. Whately, in glad reaction from overwhelming
fear concerning her son's safety, offered her services in behalf of
the few wounded Confederates and they were readily accepted. Before
she was aware of it she found herself conferring with the young
officer and the surgical trooper in regard to the best treatment of
the injuries. Having long been mistress of a plantation and
accustomed to act promptly when any of her slaves were hurt, she now
proved a valuable auxiliary. When the soldiers with whom she
sympathized were attended to, her kindness of heart led her on to
the Federals, who thanked her as gratefully as if they were not
depraved Yankees.

Mr. and Mrs. Baron had retired to the parlor, where they sat in
state, awaiting in gloomy fortitude the darker developments of what
they deemed the supreme tragedy of their lives. Miss Lou was
flitting in and out, getting lint and other articles required by
Mrs. Whately. She found it no easy matter to maintain the solemnity
of aspect which her guardians thought appropriate to the occasion,
but was assisted in this effort by her genuine pity for the wounded.
In her joyous relief at escape from a hated union her heart was
light indeed. She had, moreover, no slight sense of humor, and was
just bubbling over with mirth at the fact that although the Yankee
monsters, from whom it was said she must be rescued at every cost,
were masters of the situation, they were engaged in nothing more
ruthless than feeding their horses, preparing supper, and caring for
the wounded. The most delicious thing of all was that one of the
chief prophets of evil, her Aunt Whately, was aiding in the last-
named task. Her exultation was increased when she brought the last
article required and Scoville said with his genial smile, so well
remembered, "I think I can assure you now, Miss Baron, that all will
do very well. We are deeply indebted to this lady (bowing to Mrs.
Whately) whose services have been as skilful as humane."

Now one of the things on which Mrs. Whately most prided herself was
the generally accepted belief that she was as good as a country
physician in an emergency, and she could not refrain from a slight
and gracious acknowledgment of Scoville's words. As they drew near
to the door she said hesitatingly, "Perhaps, sir, I should make an
acknowledgment of deep indebtedness to you. I saw your sabre raised
and pointed at my son's throat. Could you not have killed him had
you so wished?"

"Ah! this is Mrs. Whately. Believe me, madam, we are not so
bloodthirsty as to wish to kill, or even to injure, except so far as
the necessities of war require. If you witnessed the brief conflict
you must have observed that my effort was to capture rather than to
destroy your son's force."

"We all could not help seeing that," cried Miss Lou eagerly.

"I could not help seeing also, Miss Baron, that you exposed yourself
to danger like a veteran, and I was anxious indeed lest a stray
bullet might harm you. It was well you were not armed or we might
have fared worse," and there was so much mirth in his dark eyes that
she turned away to hide her conscious blushes.

"Well, sir," resumed Mrs. Whately with emotion, "it is not easy to
bless our enemies in this cruel war of aggression, but I must
express my gratitude to one who stayed his hand when my son's life
was within his power."

"I trust, madam, he may live to care for you in your declining
years, and to become a good loyal citizen."

"He is loyal, sir," replied Mrs. Whately with gentle dignity, "to
the only authority he recognizes," and with a bow she retired.

Miss Lou lingered a moment and said earnestly, "I thank you. You are
very considerate."

His face so lighted up that it was almost boyish in its expression
of pleasure as he answered with the pride and confidence of one sure
of sympathy, "This is a jolly day for me. I was made an officer this
morning, and now, best of all, I am paying a little of my debt to
you."

She put her finger on her lips and shook her head, but the smile she
gave him over her shoulder was reassuring. He promptly started on a
round among his men again to see that the prisoners were properly
guarded, and that all was going as he wished.

"Louise," said Mrs. Baron, as the girl appeared in the parlor door,
"it would be far more decorous if you would remain here with your
uncle and myself."

Miss Lou took a seat in the darkest corner that she might be less
open to observation while she calmed the tumult of her feelings. So
much had happened that she must catch her breath and think what it
all meant. Mr. Baron began gloomily, "Well, the dreaded hour which I
hoped and prayed never to see has come. We are helpless and in the
hands of our enemies. Only God knows what an hour will bring forth--"

"He has brought deliverance," cried Mrs. Whately, entering. "I
questioned Aun' Suke, thinking that she might have seen Madison if
he left the house. She did see him safe and sound. She also saw him
get a horse and ride away."

"Ah, poor boy! how different was his departure from what he had
every reason to hope and expect!" replied Mr. Baron. "I should think
your heart would be remorseful, indeed, Louise, when you picture
your cousin flying from his kindred and home, alone and sad,
tortured meanwhile by thoughts of the fate which has overtaken us."

"I'm sure, uncle, we are all sitting quietly in the parlor. That
does not seem very dreadful."

"You little know, young woman, you little realize the cunning
depravity--"

"There now, brother," interposed Mrs. Whately, "we must not think
evil until we see more evidence of it, even in Yankees. I admit that
I am most wonderfully and agreeably disappointed. The young officer
in whose hands we are might have killed my son, but did not. I must
at least be just to such a man."

"And you know he has been polite to us all, and told us to dismiss
our fears," added Miss Lou demurely.

"It would almost seem, Louise, that you welcomed these invaders. I
am too old and well informed not to know that this suave manner he
affects is designed to lull us into a sense of false security."

At this moment a firm step was heard on the veranda, followed by a
rap from the brass knocker. They knew it was Scoville, and Mr. Baron
rose and advanced to the parlor entrance. He assumed the solemn
aspect of one who now must face the exactions and wrongs which he
had predicted, and his wife tremblingly followed, to perish at his
side if need be. But the invader barely stepped within the hall and
stood uncovered as he said politely, "Mr. Baron, I have now
practically made my dispositions for the night. There is no reason
why your domestic routine should not be resumed as usual. As I said
before, I pledge you my word you shall not be disturbed unless we
are attacked. Good-evening, sir. Good-evening, ladies," and he bowed
and withdrew, leaving the old gentleman speechless in the utter
reversal of all that he had declared would take place. No
plundering, no insults, no violence. On the contrary, even his
beloved routine might be resumed. He turned around to his wife and
sister almost gasping, "Is this some deep-laid plot?"

"It certainly must be," echoed his wife.

Miss Lou turned away quickly and stuffed her handkerchief in her
mouth to prevent laughing outright.

Her uncle caught her in the act and was instantly in a rage.

"Shame upon you!" he cried. "Enemies without and traitors within."

This charge touched the girl to the quick, and she replied with
almost equal anger, "I'm no traitor. Where has your loyalty to me
been to-day? Look at me, uncle, and fix the fact in your mind, once
for all, that I am neither a child nor an idiot. God has given me a
mind and a conscience as truly as to you, and I shall use them. This
Northern officer says we are safe. I believe it and you will know it
in the morning. Now I simply insist that you and aunt treat me with
the respect due to my years and station. I've endured too much to-
day to be patient under anything more. I meant no disrespect to you
in laughing, but I cannot help being glad that instead of all sorts
of horrible things happening we are treated with simple and even
delicate politeness."

"Yes, brother," added Mrs. Whately, "as far as this man is
concerned, you must revise your opinions. There is no deep-laid
plot--nothing but what is apparent. I must also urge upon you and
sister a change in your treatment of Louise. She will be far more
ready to fulfil our hopes when led by affection."

"Well, well, that I should live to see this day!" groaned Mr. Baron.
"My ward virtually says that she will do as she pleases. The slaves
have been told that they are free and so can do as they please.
Henceforth I suppose I am to speak to my niece with bated breath,
and be at the beck and call of every Sambo on the place."

"You are not 'weltering in your own blood,' uncle, and the 'roof is
not blazing over our heads,'" replied Miss Lou quietly. "You have
merely been told that you could have supper when it pleased you and
then sleep in peace and safety. Aunt, I will thank you for the key
of my trunk. I wish to put my things back in their places."

Mrs. Baron took it from her pocket without a word, and Miss Lou went
to her room.

True to her nature, Mrs. Whately began to pour oil on the lacerated
feelings of her brother and sister-in-law. "Louise is right," she
said. "Things are so much better than we expected--than they might
have been--that we should raise our hearts in thankfulness. Just
think! If this Northern officer is what you fear, why would he have
spared my son, whom he might have killed in fair battle? In his
conduct toward the wounded he showed a good, kindly spirit. I can't
deny it; and he has been as polite to us as one of our own officers
could have been. Think how different it all might have been--my
brave son desperately wounded or dead, and unscrupulous men sacking
the house! I need not refer to darker fears. I must say that I feel
like meeting courtesy with courtesy. Since this Yankee behaves like
a generous foe I would like to prove that Southern rebels and slave-
drivers, as we are called, can equal him in all the amenities of
life which the situation permits."

"Oh, sister!" cried Mrs. Baron, "even a cup of tea would choke me if
I drank it in his presence."

But Mr. Baron had lighted his pipe, and reason and Southern pride
were asserting themselves under its soothing influence. At last he
said, "Well, let us have supper anyway. It is already after the
hour."

"Supper has been ready this long time, as you know," replied his
wife, "only I never dreamed of such a guest as has been suggested."

"Of course, sister, I only said what I did as a suggestion," Mrs.
Whately answered with dignity. "You are in your own home. I merely
felt reluctant that this Yankee should have a chance to say that we
were so rude and uncivilized that we couldn't appreciate good
treatment when we received it. There's no harm in gaining his
goodwill, either, for he said that his general, with the main force,
would be here to-morrow."

"Mrs. Baron," said her husband in strong irritation, "don't you see
there is nothing left for us to do? No matter how things turn out,
the presence of these Yankees involves what is intensely
disagreeable. If sister is right in regard to this man--and I
suppose I must admit she is till I know him better--he has made it
necessary for our own self-respect to treat him with courtesy. Our
pride will not permit us to accept this from him and make no return.
It may be Yankee cunning which led him to foresee this, for I
suppose it is pleasing to many of the tribe to gain their ends by
finesse. Probably if this doesn't secure them, he will try harsher
methods. Anyway, as long as he plays at the game of courtesy, we, as
sister says, should teach him that we know what the word means. The
mischief is that you never can know just what a Yankee is scheming
for or aiming at."

"Well, brother, supposing your words are true, as I do not think
they are in this instance, it is due to our dignity that we act like
sincere people who are above even suspecting unworthy motives. We do
not compromise ourselves in the matter. We only meet courtesy with
courtesy, like well-bred people."

"Well, so be it then. In fact, I would like to ask this man what he
and those he represents can hope to gain by invasion equalled only
by that of the Goths and Vandals."




CHAPTER XIV

A THREAT


The moment Chunk believed that Scoville could dispense with his
services for a time he made his way promptly to the back veranda and
gave a low, peculiar whistle which Zany recognized. He had ceased in
her estimation to be merely a subject for infinite jest. Though not
very advanced in the scale of civilization, she was influenced by
qualities which appealed to her mind, and possessed many traits
common to her sex. His shrewdness and courage were making good his
lack of inches. Above all, he was in favor with the "head Linkum
man," and Zany belonged to that class ever ready to greet the rising
sun. While all this was true, she could not be herself and abandon
her coquettish impulses and disposition to tease. She came slowly
from the dining-room and looked over Chunk's head as if she could
not see him. Bent on retaliation, he stepped behind her, lifted her
in his powerful arms and carried her on a full run to some screening
shrubbery, the irate captive cuffing his ear soundly all the way.
Setting her down, he remarked quietly, "Now I reckon you kin fin'
me."

"Yo' wool git gray 'fo' you fin' me agin," she replied, making a
feint of starting for the house.

"Berry well, Miss Zany. I see you doan want ter be a free gyurl.
I'se tell Marse Scoville you no 'count niggah."

"W'at you want anyhow, imperdence?"

"I wants sup'n ter eat. Does you 'spects I kin ride all night en all
day ter brung you freedom, en den not eben git a good word? You ain'
fit fer freedom. I'se tell some nachel-bawn fool ter gib you a
yaller rib'on en den dere be two ob you."

"La now, Chunk," she replied, coming back, "ef I wuz lookin' fer a
fool I des stay right yere. Ef you git a pa'r ob steps en look in my
face you'd see I'se bettah fren' ter you ner you ter me. You stay
yere en I brings you w'at you tink a heap on mor'n me," and now she
darted away with intentions satisfactory to her strategic admirer.

Chunk grinned and soliloquized, "Reck'n I kin fotch dat gyurl roun'
wid all her contrariations. I des likes her skittishness, but I ain'
tellin' her so, kaze I gwine ter hab my han's full as 'tis."

Zany soon returned with a plate well heaped, for at this time her
argus-eyed mistress was sitting in the parlor, awaiting whatever
fate the ruthless Yankees might impose. Chunk sat Turk-fashion on
the ground and fell to as if famished, meanwhile listening eagerly
to the girl's account of what had happened during his absence.

"Hi!" said Zany disdainfully, "you'd mek lub ter Aun' Suke ef she
fed you."

"I kin mek mo'n lub," Chunk answered, nodding at her portentously;
"I kin mek mischief."

"Reck'n you do dat anyhow."

"See yere, Zany, does you tink Marse Scoville a fool?"

"Ob co'se not."

"Well, he doan tink me a fool. Whose 'pinion's wuth de mos'? Who
took keer on 'im? Who got 'im off safe right un'er de nose ob one ob
Mad Whately's sogers? Who brung 'im back des in time ter stop dat ar
mar'age en gib we uns freedom? You mighty peart, but you got a heap
ter larn 'fo' you cut yo' eye-tooths."

"Some folks gits dere eye-tooths en doan git nuthin' wid 'em," Zany
remarked nonchalantly. "I'se 'mit dough dat you comin' on, Chunk.
W'en you gits growed up you'se be right smart."

"I doan min' de foolishness ob yo' talk, Zany," Chunk replied
coolly, between his huge mouthfuls. "Dat's in you, en you kyant he'p
hit any mo'n a crow cawin'. I'se allus mek 'lowance fer dat. I des
'proves dis 'casion ter 'zort you ter be keerful w'at you DOES.
Dere's gwine ter be mighty ticklish times--sorter flash-bang times,
yer know. I'se a free man--des ez free as air, en I'se hired mysef
ter Marse Scoville ter wait on 'im. I'se growed up anuff ter know he
kin tek de shine off eny man I eber see, or you neider. He yo' boss
now well ez mine. I'se gib 'im a good report on you ef I kin. I'se
feard, howsomeber, dat he say you outgrowed yo' sense."

"Dar now, Chunk, you puttin' on mo' airs dan Marse Scoville hissef.
He des ez perlite ter marster en ole miss ez ef he come ter pay his
'spects ter dem en he look at Miss Lou ez a cat do at cream."

"Hi! dat so? No won'er he want ter git ahaid ob de parson en dat
weddin' business."

"Oh, yo' orful growed up en ain' fin' dat out?"

"I 'spicioned it. Well, de ting fer you'n me is ter he'p 'im."

"La, now," replied Zany, proposing to give a broad hint at the same
time, "I ain' gwine ter he'p no man in sech doin's. De cream neber
goes ter de cat."

"Yere, tek de plate, Zany, wid my tanks," said Chunk, rising. "Sech
cream ez you gits orful sour ef de cat doan fin' it sud'n. I'se took
my 'zert now," and he caught her up again and kissed her on the way
back to the veranda.

This time his performances were seen by Aun' Suke, who stood in the
kitchen door. She snatched up a pail of water, exclaiming, "I cool
you uns off, I sut'ny will. Sech goin's on!" But they were too quick
for her. Zany pretended to be as irate as she was secretly pleased,
while Chunk caused the old woman to boil over with rage by
declaring, "Aun' Suke, I sen' a soger yere ter hab you 'rested for
'zorderly conduct."

"Ef you eber comes ter dis kitchen agin I'se emty de pot ob bilin'
water on you," cried Aun' Suke, retreating to her domain.

"Ef you does, you get yosef ober haid en years in hot water," Chunk
answered with exasperating sang froid. "You niggahs gwine ter fin'
out who's who on dis plantashun 'fo' yo' nex' birthday."

Zany's only response was a grimace, and he next carried his
exaggerated sense of importance to his granny's cabin. He had seen
Aun' Jinkey and spoken a few reassuring words as he passed with
Scoville's attacking force. Since that time she had done a power of
"projeckin'" over her corncob pipe, but events were now hurrying
toward conclusions beyond her ken. It has already been observed that
Aun' Jinkey was a neutral power. As yet, the weight of her decision
had been cast neither for the North nor the South, while the
question of freedom remained to be smoked over indefinitely. There
was no indecision in her mind, however, in regard to her young
mistress, and greater even than her fears when she heard the sounds
of conflict was her solicitude over the possibility of a forced
marriage. Since she was under the impression that her cabin might
soon become again the refuge of one or the other of the contending
powers, possibly of Miss Lou herself, she left the door ajar and was
on the alert.

"Hi dar! granny," cried Chunk, the first to appear, "dat's right.
Now you kin smoke in peace, fer you own yosef. Nobody come bossin'
you yere any mo'."

"Doan you git so bumptious all ter oncet," said Aun' Jinkey. "Does
you 'spect de hull top's gwine ter be tu'ned right ober down'erds in
er day? But dar! you ain' no 'sper'ience. Yo' stomack emty en you'
haid light. Draw up now en tell me de news. Tell me sud'n 'bout Miss
Lou. Did dey git her mar'd?"

"Yah! yah! Marse Scoville's so'd ud cut de knot ef dey had."

"Dat's des ez much ez you knows. All de so'ds ober flash kyant cut
dat ar knot 'less dey kill Marse Whately."

"Dat 'min's me ob someting ter'ble quar. Marse Scoville had he so'd
pintin' right agin Mad Whately's neck en yit he ain' jab 'im. Dat
same Mad Whately gwine ter mek a heap ob trouble fer he got clean
off."

"Marse Scoville know dat ef he kill a man right straight wid he own
han' he spook come and mek a heap mo' trouble."

"Hi! didn't tink o' dat."

"Bettah tink right smart, Chunk. You'se gittin' top-heaby ef you is
sho't. Now tell me all 'bout de mar'age."

"Dey ain' no mar'age. Zany tole me how Miss Lou say she ain' neber
'sent, en den 'fo' dey could say dere lingo ober her en mar'y her
des ez dey would a bale ob cotton, up rides Marse Scoville en put
his so'd troo ebryting. He tells us we all free en--"

"En eat yo' supper. I ain' done projeckin' 'bout dis freedom
business. How we uns gwine ter be free 'less Marse Scoville stay
yere en kep us free?"

"Zany guv me my supper en--"

"Dar now, I ain' no mo' 'count. Zany gobble you aready. I des stick
ter my chimbly corner."

"Howdy, Aunt Jinkey," cried Scoville, coming in briskly. "Well, you
see I'm back again as I promised."

"You welcome, a hun'erd times welcome, kaze you kep my young mistis
fum bein' mar'ed right slap 'gin her own feelin's ter her cousin."

"Pshaw! Aunt Jinkey. No one can marry a girl against her will in
this country."

"Dat des de question Miss Lou en me projeckin' 'bout dis berry
mawnin'. She gyardeens went straight along ez ef dey had de po'r,
dey sut'ny did. Dat's w'at so upset Miss Lou en me. De po'r ob
gyardeens is sump'n I kyant smoke out straight, en I des lak ter
know how much dey KIN do. Ole mars'r al'ays manage her prop'ty en we
wuz flustrated w'en we see 'im en Mad Whately en he moder en ole
miss en all gittin' ready fer de weddin' des ez ef hit was comin'
like sun-up sho."

"It was a shame," cried Scoville angrily. "They were seeking to
drive her into submission by strong, steady pressure, but if she
insisted on her right--"

"Dat des w'at she did, Marse Scoville. She say she neber 'sent,
NEBER," Chunk interrupted.

"Then the whole Southern Confederacy could not have married her and
she ought to know it."

"Well, you mus' be 'siderate, Marse Scoville. Miss Lou know a heap
'bout some tings en she des a chile 'bout oder tings. Ole mars'r en
misus al'ays try ter mek her tink dat only w'at dey say is right en
nuthin' else, en dey al'ays 'low ter her dat she gwine ter mar'y her
cousin some day, en she al'ays 'low ter me she doan wanter."

"Poor child! she does need a friend in very truth. What kind of a
man is this Mad Whately anyway, that he could think of taking part
in such a wrong?"

"He de same kin' ob man dat he wuz a boy," Chunk answered. "Den he
kick en howl till he git w'at he want. 'Scuse me, Marse Scoville,
but I kyant hep tinkin' you mek big 'stake dat you didn't jab 'im
w'en you hab de chance."

"Chunk," was the grave answer, "if you are going to wait on me you
must learn my ways. I'd no more kill a man when it was not essential
than I would kill you this minute. Soldiers are not butchers."

"Granny sez how you wuz feared on his spook"--

"Bah! you expect to be free, yet remain slaves to such fears? My
horse knows better. Come, Aunt Jinkey, I'd rather you would give me
some supper than your views on spooks."

"Leftenant," said Perkins, the overseer, from the door, "Mr. Baron
pr'sents his compliments en gives you a invite to supper."

Scoville thought a moment, then answered, "Present mine in return,
and say it will give me pleasure to accept."

"Bress de Lawd! you gwine ter de big house. Not dat I 'grudges
cookin' fer you w'eneber you come, but I des wants you ter took a
'tunerty ter advise dat po' chile 'bout she rights en de mar'age
question."

After assuring himself that the overseer was out of earshot,
Scoville said almost sternly, "Aunt Jinkey, you and Chunk must not
say one word of my ever having been here before. It might make your
young mistress a great deal of trouble, and I should be sorry indeed
if I ever caused her any trouble whatever." Then as he made his way
to the mansion he smilingly soliloquized, "I don't know of any other
question concerning which I would rather give her advice, nor would
it be wholly disinterested, I fear, if I had a chance. At this time
to-morrow," he sighingly concluded, "I may be miles away or dead.
Poor unsophisticated child! I never was touched so close before as
now by her need of a friend who cares more for her than his own
schemes."

Chunk following at a respectful distance became aware that the
overseer was glowering at him. "Bettah 'lebe yo' min', Marse
Perkins," he remarked condescendingly.

"You infernal, horse-stealing nigger!" was the low response.

"Hi! Marse Perkins, you kin growl, but you muzzled all de same."

"The muzzle may be off before many mo' sunsets, en then you'll find
my teeth in your throat," said the man under his breath, and his
look was so dark and vindictive that even in his elation Chunk
became uneasy.




CHAPTER XV

MISS LOU EMANCIPATED


Nature had endowed Scoville with a quick, active mind, and
circumstances had developed its power and capacity to a degree
scarcely warranted by his age. Orphaned early in life, compelled to
hold his own among comparative strangers since childhood, he had
gained a worldly wisdom and self-reliance which he could not have
acquired in a sheltered home. He had learned to look at facts and
people squarely, to estimate values and character promptly, and then
to decide upon his own action unhesitatingly. Although never
regarded as the model good boy at the boarding-schools wherein he
had spent most of his life, he had been a general favorite with both
teachers and scholars. A certain frankness in mischief and buoyancy
of spirit had carried him through all difficulties, while his apt
mind and retentive memory always kept him near to the head of his
classes. The quality of alertness was one of his characteristics. In
schools and at the university he quickly mastered their small
politics and prevailing tendencies, and he often amused his fellow-
pupils with free-handed yet fairly truthful sketches of their
instructors. As the country passed into deeper and stronger
excitement over the prospect of secession and its consequences, he
was among the first to catch the military spirit and to take an
active part in the formation of a little company among the students.
It was not his disposition to be excited merely because others were.
Certain qualities of mind led him to look beneath the surface for
the causes of national commotion. He read carefully the utterances
of leaders, North and South, and to some extent traced back their
views and animating spirit to historical sources.

In the year of '63 he found to his joy that he had attained such
physical proportions as would secure his acceptance in a cavalry
regiment forming in his vicinity. His uncle, who was also guardian,
for reasons already known, made slight opposition, and he at once
donned the blue with its bluff trimmings. In camp and field he
quickly learned the routine of duty, and then his daring, active
temperament led him gradually into the scouting service. Now,
although so young, he was a veteran in experience, frank to friends,
but secretive and ready to deceive the very elect among his enemies.
Few could take more risks than he, yet he had not a particle of Mad
Whately's recklessness. Courage, but rarely impulse, controlled his
action. As we have seen, he could instantly stay his hand the second
a deadly enemy, seeking his life in personal encounter, was
disarmed.

The prospect of talking with such a host as Mr. Baron pleased him
immensely. He scarcely knew to whom he was indebted for the
courtesy, but rightly surmised that it was Mrs. Whately, since she,
with good reason, felt under obligations to him. Even more than an
adventurous scouting expedition he relished a situation full of
humor, and such, his presence at Mr. Baron's supper-table promised
to be. He knew his entertainment would be gall and wormwood to the
old Bourbon and his wife, and that the courtesy had been wrung from
them by his own forbearance. It might be his only opportunity to see
Miss Lou and suggest the liberty he had brought to her as well as to
the slaves.

Mrs. Whately met him on the veranda and said politely, "Lieutenant
Scoville, you have proved yourself to be a generous and forbearing
enemy. If you feel that you can meet frank enemies who wish to
return courtesy with courtesy, we shall be glad to have you take
supper with us."

"Yes," added Mr. Baron, "my sister has convinced me, somewhat
against my will, I must in honesty admit, that such hospitality as
we can offer under the circumstances is your due."

"I appreciate the circumstances, Mr. Baron," was the grave reply,
"and honor the Southern trait which is so strong that even I can
receive the benefit of it. Your courtesy, madam, will put me at
ease."

Miss Lou, thinking it possible that she might see the Northern
officer again, had taken her own way of convincing him that he was
still within the bounds of civilization, for she made a toilet more
careful than the one with which she had deigned to grace the
appointed day of her wedding. She could scarcely believe her eyes
when, entering the supper room a little late, she saw Scoville
already seated at the table. He instantly rose and made her a
ceremonious bow, thus again indicating that their past relations
should be completely ignored in the presence of others. She
therefore gravely returned his salutation and took her place without
a word, but her high color did not suggest indifference to the
situation. Mr. Baron went through the formal "grace" as usual and
then said, "Ahem! you will admit, sir, that it is a little
embarrassing to know just how to entertain one with whom we have
some slight difference of opinion."

"Perhaps such embarrassment will be removed if we all speak our
minds freely," replied Scoville, pleasantly. "Pardon the suggestion,
but the occasion appears to me favorable to a frank and interesting
exchange of views. If my way of thinking were wholly in accord with
yours my words could be little better than echoes. I should be glad
to feel that my presence was no restraint whatever."

"I'm inclined to think you are right, sir," added Mrs. Whately. "It
would be mere affectation on our part to disguise our thoughts and
feelings. With neighbors, and even with friends, we are often
compelled to do this, but I scarcely see why we should do so with an
open enemy."

"And such I trust you will find me, madam, an OPEN enemy in the
better sense of the adjective. As far as I can, I will answer
questions if you wish to ask any. I will tell you honestly all the
harm I meditate and outline clearly the extent of my hostility, if
you will do the same," and he smiled so genially that she half
smiled also as she answered:

"To hear you, sir, one would scarcely imagine you to be an enemy at
all. But then we know better."

"Yes, sir, pardon me, we do," said Mr. Baron, a little stiffly. "For
one, I would like your honest statement of just what harm you and
your command meditate. I am one who would rather face and prepare
for whatever I shall be compelled to meet."

"I think, sir, you have already met and faced the direst event of
the evening--my presence at your hospitable board. Even this
hardship is due to your courtesy, not to my compulsion."

Miss Lou bowed low over her plate at this speech.

"But how about the long hours of the night, sir? Have you such
control over your men--"

"Yes, sir!" interrupted Scoville with dignity. "The men I have with
me are soldiers, not camp-followers. They would no more harm you or
anything you possess, without orders, than I would."

"Without orders--a clause of large latitude. As far as words go you
have already robbed me of the greater part of my possessions. You
have told my slaves that they are free."

"Not upon my own responsibility, sir, although with hearty goodwill.
In my humble station I am far more often called upon to obey orders
than to give them. You are aware of President Lincoln's
proclamation?"

"Yes, sir, and of the Pope's bull against the comet."

Scoville laughed so genially as partially to disarm his reply of its
sting. "In this instance, sir, our armies are rather gaining on the
comet."

"But what can you and your armies hope to accomplish?" Mrs. Whately
asked. "If you should destroy every Southern man, the women would
remain unsubdued."

"Now, madam, you have me at disadvantage. I do not know what we
would or could do if confronted only by implacable Southern women."

"Do not imagine that I am jesting. I cannot tell you how strange it
seems that a man of your appearance and evident character should be
among our cruel enemies."

"And yet, Mrs. Whately, you cannot dispute the fact. Pardon me for
saying it, but I think that is just where the South is in such
serious error. It shuts its eyes to so many simple facts--a course
which experience proves is never wise. I may declare, and even
believe, that there is no solid wall before me, yet if I go headlong
against it, I am bruised all the same. Positive beliefs do not
create truths. I fancy that a few hours since you were absolutely
sure that this courtesy of which I am the grateful recipient could
not be, yet you were mistaken."

"Has not the sad experience of many others inspired our fears?
Neither has the end come with us yet. You said that the main
Northern force would come this way tomorrow. We do not fear you and
those whom you control, but how about those who are to come?"

"I can speak only for the class to which I belong--the genuine
soldiers who are animated by as single and unfaltering a spirit as
the best in your armies. If a Confederate column were going through
the North you could not answer for the conduct of every lawless,
depraved man in such a force. Still, I admit with you that war is
essentially cruel, and that the aim ever must be to inflict as much
injury as possible on one's adversaries."

"But how can you take part in such a war?" Mrs. Whately asked. "All
we asked was to be let alone."

"Yes, sir," added Mr. Baron, "how can you justify these ruthless
invasions, this breaking up of our domestic institutions, this
despoiling of our property and rights by force?" and there was a
tremor of suppressed excitement in his voice.

Scoville glanced at Miss Lou to see how far she sympathized with her
kindred. He observed that her face was somewhat stern in its
expression, yet full of intelligent interest. It was not the index
of mere prejudice and hate. "Yes," he thought, "she is capable of
giving me a fair hearing; the others are not. Mr. Baron," he said,
"your views are natural, perhaps, if not just. I know it is asking
much of human nature when you are suffering and must suffer so much,
to form what will become the historical judgment on the questions at
issue. The law under which the North is fighting is the supreme one--
that of self-preservation. Even if we had let you alone--permitted
you to separate and become independent without a blow, war would
have come soon. You would not and could not have let us alone.
Consider but one point: your slaves would merely have to pass the
long boundary line stretching nearly across the continent, in order
to be on free soil. You could compel their return only by conquering
and almost annihilating the North. You will say that we should think
as you do on the subject, and I must answer that it is every man and
woman's right to think according to individual conscience, according
to the light within. Deny this right, and you put no bounds to human
slavery. Pardon me, but looking in your eyes and those of these
ladies, I can see that I should become a slave instantly if you had
your way. Unconsciously and inevitably you would make me one, for it
is your strongest impulse to make me agree with you, to see things
exactly as you do. The fact that you sincerely believe you are right
would make no difference if I just as sincerely believed you were
wrong. If I could not think and act for myself I should be a slave.
You might say, 'We KNOW we are right, that what we believe has the
Divine sanction.' That is what the tormentors of the Inquisition
said and believed; that is what my Puritan and persecuting
forefathers said and believed; what does history say now? The world
is growing wise enough to understand that God has no slaves. He
endows men and women with a conscience. The supreme obligation is to
be true to this. When any one who has passed the bounds of childhood
says to us, 'I don't think this is right,' we take an awful
responsibility, we probably are guilty of usurpation, if we
substitute our will for his. In our sincerity we may argue, reason
and entreat, but in the presence of another's conscience unconvinced
and utterly opposed to us, where is human slavery to end if one man,
or a vast number of men, have the power to say, 'You shall'?"

Scoville had kept his eyes fixed on Mr. Baron, and saw that he was
almost writhing under the expression of views so repugnant to him--
views which proved his whole scheme of life and action to be wrong.
Now the young man turned his glance suddenly on Miss Lou, and in her
high color, parted lips and kindled eyes, saw abundant proof that
she, as he had wished, was taking to herself the deep personal
application of his words. Her guardians and Mrs. Whately observed
this truth also, and now bitterly regretted that they had invited
the Union officer. It seemed to them a sort of malign fate that he
had been led, unconsciously as they supposed, to pronounce in the
presence of the girl such vigorous condemnation of their action. Had
they not that very day sought to override the will, the conscience,
the whole shrinking, protesting womanhood of the one who had
listened so eagerly as the wrong meditated against her was
explained? Scoville had not left them even the excuse that they
believed they were right, having shown the girl that so many who
believed this were wrong. Miss Lou's expression made at least one
thing clear--she was emancipated and had taken her destiny into her
own hands.

Mrs. Whately felt that she must turn the tables at once, and so
remarked, "It seems to me that the whole force of your argument
tells against the North. You are bent upon conquering the South and
making it think as you do."

"Oh, no. Here the law of self-preservation comes in. If the South
can secede, so can the East and the West. New York City can secede
from the State. We should have no country. There could be no
national life. Would England accept the doctrine of secession, and
permit any part of her dominions to set up for themselves when they
chose? I know you are about to say that is just what our fathers
did. Yes, but old mother England did not say, 'Go, my children, God
bless you!' Nor would she say it now to any other region over which
floats her flag. Of course, if you whip us, we shall have to submit,
just as England did. What government has helplessly sucked its
thumbs when certain portions of the territory over which it had
jurisdiction defied its power? We are called Goths and Vandals, but
that is absurd. We are not seeking to conquer the South in any such
old-world ways. We are fighting that the old flag may be as supreme
here as in New England. The moment this is true you will be as free
as are the people of New England. The same constitution and laws
will govern all."

"And can you imagine for a moment, sir," cried Mr. Baron, "that we
will submit to a government that would be acceptable to New
England?" "Yes, sir; and years hence, when the South has become as
loyal as New England is now, if that abode of the Yankees should
seek independence of the rest of the country she would be brought
back under the flag. I would fight New England as readily as I do
the South, if she sought to break up the Union. I would fight her if
every man, woman and child within her borders believed themselves
right."

Now he saw Miss Lou looking perplexed. Her quick mind detected the
spirit of coercion, of substituting wills, against which he had been
inveighing and from which she had suffered. Mrs. Whately was quick
to see the apparent weakness in his argument, for she said,
"Consistency is a jewel which I suppose is little cared for by those
so ready to appeal to force. With one breath you say we must not
coerce the wills of others, and now you say you would, even though
you did violence to universal and sacred beliefs."

"I say only that the nation MUST do this as must the individual.
Some one might say to me, 'I honestly think I should take off your
right arm.' I would not permit it if I could help it. No more can a
nation submit passively to dismemberment. The South did not expect
that this nation would do so. It promptly prepared for war. If the
North had said, 'We can do nothing, there's a blank, write out your
terms and we'll sign,' we would have been more thoroughly despised
than we were, if that were possible. There are two kinds of
coercion. For instance, I do not say to you, Mrs. Whately,
representing the South, that you must think and feel as I do and
take just such steps as I dictate; but that there are things which
you must refrain from doing, because in their performance, no matter
how sincere you were, you would inflict great and far-reaching wrong
on others. There could be no government without restriction. We
would soon have anarchy if any part of a nation should and could
withdraw when it chose and how it pleased."

"Your doctrine, sir, would banish freedom from the world. All
peoples would have to submit to the central tyranny called
government, even though such government had become hateful."

"This doctrine, which all governments act upon," replied Scoville
pleasantly, "has not banished freedom from the world. In this
country, where every man has a voice, the government will be just
about as good as the majority determine it shall be."

"Well, sir, to sum up the whole matter," said Mr. Baron coldly, "two
things are clear: First, the South is determined to be free; second,
if we fail we can be held only under the heel of your Northern
majority as Poland is trodden upon."

Scoville saw that the discussion had gone far enough for his
purposes, and he said with a good-natured laugh, "I'm neither a
prophet nor his son, but I think it is a very hopeful sign that we
could have this frank interchange of views and belief. I see how
perfectly sincere you are, and if I had been brought up here no
doubt I should think and act as you do. As it is, I am only a very
humble representative of the Government which is trying to preserve
its own existence--a Government which the South helped to form as
truly as the North. If I should come directly to your side, contrary
to belief and conscience, you would be the first to despise me. I
suppose we will all agree that we should obey the supreme dictates
of conscience?"

"No, sir," burst out Mr. Baron, "I cannot agree to anything of the
kind. There are multitudes who must be guided and controlled by
those who are wiser, older and more experienced. Why, sir, you would
have the very nursery children in flat rebellion."

"Indeed, Mr. Baron, I have not said one word against the authority
of parents and guardians."

"Ah! I am glad you draw the line somewhere. Half the misery in the
world results from young people's thinking themselves wiser than
their natural advisers. If they can merely say their consciences are
against what their elders know is right and best, we have anarchy in
the fountainhead of society--the family," and he glared for a moment
at his niece.

"What you say seems very true, Mr. Baron. I should be glad to know
where YOU draw the line? Independent action must begin at some
period."

While Mr. Baron hesitated over this rather embarrassing question
Miss Lou startled all her kindred by saying, "I did not intend to
take any part in this conversation, but a glance from my uncle makes
his last remark personal to me. I am at least old enough to ask one
or two questions. Do you think it right, Lieutenant Scoville, that a
woman should never have any independent life of her own?"

"Why, Miss Baron, what a question! Within the received limits of
good taste a woman has as much right to independent action as a
man."

"Well, then, how can she ever have any independence if she is
treated as a child up to one day of her life, and the next day is
expected to promise she will obey a man as long as he lives?"

The angry spots in Mrs. Baron's cheeks had been burning deeper and
deeper, and now she spoke promptly and freezingly, "Mr. Scoville, I
absolve you from answering one who is proving herself to be neither
a child nor a refined woman. I did not expect this additional
humiliation. If it had not occurred I would have taken no part in
the conversation. Mr. Baron, I think we have granted even more than
the most quixotic idea of courtesy could demand."

"'Granted? demand?' surely there is some mistake, madam," said
Scoville with dignity, as he rose instantly from the table. "I have
asked nothing whatever except that you should dismiss your fears as
far as I and my men are concerned."

Mrs. Whately was provoked equally at herself and all the others. She
now deeply regretted that she had not left the Union officer to
obtain his supper where and how he could, but felt that she must
smooth matters over as far as possible. "Lieutenant Scoville," she
said hurriedly, "you must make allowances for people in the deepest
stress of trouble. We did intend all the courtesy which our first
remarks defined. Of course you cannot know our circumstances, and
when words are spoken which cut to the quick it is hard to give no
sign. Perhaps our hearts are too sore and our differences too
radical--" and she hesitated.

"I understand you, madam," said Scoville, bowing. "I can only repeat
my assurances of your safety and express my regret--"

"Oh, shame!" cried Miss Lou, whose anger and indignation now passed
all bounds. "We are NOT in the deepest stress of trouble, and you,
Mrs. Whately, are the last one to say it. I saw this gentleman's
sabre poised at your son's throat long enough to have killed him
twice over, and he did not do it, even in the excitement of
defending his own life. After Mrs. Baron's words he again assures us
of safety. What did you all predict would happen immediately when
Northern soldiers came? Whether I am refined or not, I am at least
grateful. Lieutenant, please come with me. I will try to prove that
I appreciate your courtesy and forbearance," and she led the way
from the room.

He bowed ceremoniously to Mr. Baron and the ladies, then followed
the girl, leaving them, almost paralyzed by their conflicting
emotions.




CHAPTER XVI

A SMILE ON WAR'S GRIM FACE


Miss Lou led the way to the broad, moonlit piazza. As Scoville
followed, he saw that the girl was trembling violently, and he was
thus able to grasp in some degree the courage she was manifesting in
her first half-desperate essays toward freedom. "Poor child!" he
thought, "her fright is surpassed only by her determination. How
easily they could manage her by a little tact and kindness!"

She pointed to a chair near the hall door and faltered, "Lieutenant
Scoville, I scarcely know whether I am doing right in seeing you
here alone. I know little of the usages of society. I do not wish to
appear to you unrefined."

"Miss Baron," he replied kindly, "I do not know why you have not the
same right which other young ladies enjoy, of entertaining a
gentleman at your home."

"Oh, I am so glad that you are not angry."

"I was never more lamb-like in my disposition than at this moment.
Moreover, I wish to thank you as a brave girl and a genuine lady."

She was almost panting in her strong excitement and embarrassment.
"Please remember," she said, "that I do not wish to do or say
anything unbecoming, but I know so little and have been so tried--"

"Miss Baron," and he spoke low for fear he would be overheard, "I
already know something of what you have passed through and of your
brave assertion of a sacred right. Continue that assertion and no
one can force you into marriage. I have ridden nearly twenty-four
hours to be here in time and to make some return for your great
kindness, but you were so brave that you scarcely needed help."

"Oh! I did need it. I was so frightened and so desperate that I was
almost ready to faint. My cousin is one who WILL have his own way.
He has never been denied a thing in his life, I should have been
taken away at least and then--oh, I just felt as if on the edge of a
precipice. It seems dreadful that I should be speaking so of my
kindred to a stranger and enemy--"

"Enemy! Far from it. A friend. Have you not protected my life and
liberty? Miss Baron, I give you my sacred word, I swear to you by my
mother's memory to be as loyal to you as if you were my own sister.
Young as I am, perhaps I can advise you and help you, for it is
indeed clear that you need a friend."

"I cannot tell you what relief your words bring, for, inexperienced
as I am, something assures me that I can trust you."

"Indeed you can. I should spoil my own life more truly than yours if
I were not true to my oath. Please remember this and have
confidence. That is what you need most--confidence. Believe in
yourself as well as in me. Have you not been brave and true to
yourself in the most painful of ordeals? Try to keep your self-
control and you will make no serious mistakes, and never so misjudge
me as to imagine I shall not recognize your good intentions."

"Ah!" she sighed, with a rush of tears, "that's the trouble. I'm so
hasty; I lose my temper."

He smiled very genially as he said, "If you were as amiable as some
girls you would have been married before this. Don't you see in what
good stead your high spirit has stood you? I do not censure
righteous anger when you are wronged. You are one who could not help
such anger, and, if controlled, it will only help you. All I ask is
that you so control it as to take no false steps and keep well
within your certain rights. You are in a peculiarly painful
position. Your kindred truly mean well by you--see how fair I am--
but if they could carry out their intentions and marry you to that
spoiled boy, you would be one of the most unhappy of women. If he is
capable of trying to force you to marry him he would always be
imperious and unreasonable. You would be a hard one to manage, Miss
Baron, by the words, You must, and You shall; but I think Please
would go a good way if your reason and conscience were satisfied."

"Indeed, sir, you are right. If I loved my cousin I would marry him
even though he were so badly wounded as to be helpless all his life.
But my whole soul protests against the thought of marriage to any
one. Why, sir, you can't know how like a child I've always been
treated. I feel that I have a right to remain as I am, to see more
of the world, to know more and enjoy more of life. I can scarcely
remember when I was truly happy, so strictly have I been brought up.
You would not believe it, but poor old Aun' Jinkey, my mammy, is
almost the only one who has not always tried to make me do something
whether I wish to or not. My aunt, Mrs. Whately, has meant to be
kind, but even in my childish squabbles with my cousin, and in his
exactions, she always took his part. I just want to be free--that's
all."

"Well, Miss Baron, you are free now, and if you will simply assert
your rights with quiet dignity you can remain free. Your kindred are
mistaken in their attitude toward you, and you can make them see
this in time. They are well-bred people and are not capable of using
force or violence. They did, I suppose, believe terrible things of
me and those I represent, and their action, perhaps, has been due
partially to panic. That crisis is past; you have only to trust your
own best instincts in order to meet future emergencies. Whatever
comes, remember that your Northern friend said he had confidence
that you would do what is brave and right. Perhaps we shall never
meet again, for we are in the midst of a fierce, active campaign.
There is much advice I would like to give you, but we shall not be
left alone long, and the best thing now, after this long, hard day,
is for you to get your mind quiet and hopeful. How quiet and
peaceful everything is! not a harsh sound to be heard."

"Yes, and think what they tried to make me believe! They all should
be treating you with kindness instead of--" but here she was
interrupted by the appearance of Mrs. Whately.

In order to understand that lady's action and that of her relatives,
we must go back to the moment when Miss Lou and Scoville left the
supper-room. Mrs. Whately was the first to recover her self-
possession and some true appreciation of their situation. Mr. Baron
in his rage would have gone out and broken up the conference on the
piazza, but his sister said almost sternly, "Sit down."

"Well," ejaculated Mrs. Baron, bitterly, "I hope you are both
satisfied now with the results of courtesy to Yankees. I knew I was
right in believing that we could have nothing whatever to do with
them. I think it is monstrous that Louise is alone with one on the
piazza, and her uncle should interfere at once."

"Brother," said Mrs. Whately, "you can see our niece through the
window from where you sit. She is talking quietly with the officer."

"Yes, and what may he not say to her? Already her contumacious
rebellion passes all bounds. She has heard too much incendiary talk
from him already" and he again rose to end the interview.

"Hector Baron," said his sister solemnly, "you must listen to me
first, before you take any further steps. We will say nothing more
about the past. It's gone and can't be helped. Now, with all the
influence I have over you, I urge you and your wife to remain here
until you are calm--till you have had a chance to think. Is this a
time for headlong anger? Was there ever a period in your life when
you should so carefully consider the consequences of your action?
Please tell me how you and sister are going to MAKE Louise do and
think exactly what you wish. This is no time for blinking the truth
that you have alienated her. You could easily now drive her to do
something rash and terrible. I understand her better every moment
and feel that we have taken the wrong course. She would have gone
away with Madison as his cousin, and wifehood would have come
naturally later. We have been too hasty, too arbitrary. You both
must recognize the truth that you cannot treat her as a child any
longer or you will lose her altogether, for in this matter of
marriage she has been made to know that she is not a child. She can
be led into it now, but not forced into it. Her course is open now,
but if you continue arbitrary her action may become clandestine and
even reckless. Then in regard to this Yankee officer. Alas I what he
says is too true. In our strong feeling we shut our eyes to facts.
Are we not in his power? He has spared my son's life and your
property and home, and yet he has been virtually ordered out of the
house. There is truth in what Louise said. We are not in the deepest
stress of trouble--infinitely removed from the trouble we might be
in."

"He has not spared my property," growled Mr. Baron, "he has told all
my people they are free. Where does that leave me?"

"Now, brother, your very words prove how essential it is that you
regain your self-control and reason. Is this young officer going
through the country on his own responsibility? He only echoes the
proclamation of Abe Lincoln, whom he is bound to obey. Since we
entered on the discussion of our differences could we expect him to
do otherwise than present his side as strongly as he could? Now if
you and sister can shake all this off by one mighty effort of your
wills, do so; but if we do not wish to invite every evil we
predicted, do let us be calm and rational. For one, I feel Louise's
reproof keenly, and it will not do to outrage her sense of justice
any longer. This officer has proved that we were wrong in our
predictions before he came. If now we continue to treat him as
outside the pale of courtesy, we lose her sympathy utterly and do
our utmost to provoke him and his men. Merciful heaven! if my son
were a bleeding corpse or dying in agony, what would the world be to
me? I shall apologize to him and treat him with politeness as long
as I am under his protection."

"I shall have nothing to do with him," said Mrs. Baron, pressing her
thin lips together.

"Well, well," ejaculated Mr. Baron, "I suppose I shall have to
become meeker than Moses, and kiss every rod that smites me for fear
of getting a harsher blow."

Mrs. Whately felt that it was useless to say anything more, and, as
we have seen, joined her niece.

"Lieutenant," she said, "we owe you an apology, and I freely and
frankly offer it. I fear you think we are making sorry return for
your kindness."

"Mrs. Whately, I appreciate YOUR good intentions, and I can make
allowance for the feelings of my host and hostess. The fine courtesy
of Miss Baron would disarm hostility itself, but I assure you that
there is no personal hostility on my part to any of you."

"Well, sir, I must say that I regard it as a very kind ordering of
Providence that we have fallen into such hands as yours."

"I certainly am in no mood to complain," he replied, laughing.
"Perhaps experience has taught us that we had better ignore our
differences. I was just remarking to Miss Baron on the beauty and
peacefulness of the night. Will you not join us? We can imagine a
flag of truce flying, under which we can be just as good friends as
we please."

"Thank you. I will join you with pleasure," and she sat down near
her niece. "Well," she added, "this is a scene to be remembered."

Miss Lou looked at Scoville gratefully, for his words and manner had
all tended to reassure her. In her revolt, he showed no disposition
to encourage recklessness on her part. As her mind grew calmer she
saw more clearly the course he had tried to define--that of blended
firmness and courtesy to her relatives. She was so unsophisticated
and had been so confused and agitated, that she scarcely knew where
to draw the line between simple, right action and indiscretion.
Conscious of her inexperience, inclined to be both timid and
reckless in her ignorance and trouble, she began even now to cling,
metaphorically, to his strong, sustaining hand. His very presence
produced a sense of restfulness and safety, and when he began to
call attention to the scenes and sounds about them she was
sufficiently quiet to be appreciative.

Dew sparkled in the grass of the lawn on which the shadows of trees
and shrubbery fell motionless. The air was balmy and sweet with the
fragrance of spring flowers. The mocking-birds were in full ecstatic
song, their notes scaling down from bursts of melody to the drollery
of all kinds of imitation. The wounded men on the far end of the
piazza were either sleeping or talking in low tones, proving that
there was no extremity of suffering. Off to the left, between them
and the negro quarters, were two or three fires, around which the
Union soldiers were reclining, some already asleep after the
fatigues of the day, others playing cards or spinning yarns, while
one, musically inclined, was evoking from a flute an air plaintive
and sweet in the distance. Further away under the trees, shadows in
shadow, the horses were dimly seen eating their provender. The
Confederate prisoners, smoking about a fire, appeared to be taking
the "horrors of captivity" very quietly and comfortably. At the
quarters they heard the sound of negro-singing, half barbaric in its
wildness.

"It is hard to realize that this scene means war," remarked Miss
Lou, after they had gazed and listened a few moments in silence.

"Yet it does," said Scoville quietly. "Look down the avenue. Do you
not see the glint of the moonbeams on a carbine? All around us are
men, mounted and armed. If a shot were fired, we should all be ready
for battle in three minutes. Those prisoners will be guarded with
sleepless vigilance till I deliver them up. There is a sentinel at
the back of the house, three guarding the out-buildings, and so it
will be till I am relieved and another takes command."

"Who will he be?" she asked apprehensively.

"I do not know."

"Oh, I wish you could guard us till these troubles are over."

"I can honestly echo that wish," added Mrs. Whately.

"Thank you. It would be pleasanter duty than usually falls to the
lot of a soldier. Yet in these times I scarcely know what my duty
may be from hour to hour."

"You told us that we need not fear anything to-night," began Mrs.
Whately.

"Not unless I am attacked, I said. I am aware that at this moment
your son is seeking a force to do this. I do not think that he will
be able to find any, however, before morning. In any event you could
have nothing to fear from us, except as your dreams were disturbed
by a battle."

"Oh, I wish I were a soldier!" exclaimed the girl. "This whole scene
seems as if taken right out of a story."

"You are looking at this moment on the bright side of our life. At
any rate, I'm glad you're not a soldier. If you were, my duty might
be made more difficult. It has other and very different sides. By
the way, I would like to watch those negroes a little while, and
listen to them. Their performances always interest me deeply. Will
not you ladies go with me? Soon I must get some rest while I can."

Miss Lou looked at her aunt, who hesitated a moment, then said, "I
am very tired, Lieutenant. I will trust you as a chivalrous enemy to
take my niece, and I will sit here until you return."

"I deeply appreciate your kindness, madam."

Miss Lou went with him gladly and found herself at the close of the
long, miserable day becoming positively happy. When out of hearing
she said, "Aunt's permission almost took away my breath. Yet it
seems to me just the way a girl ought to be treated. Oh, how
perfectly delicious is a little bit of freedom! How perfectly grand
to have something going on that does not mean no end of trouble to
one's self!"

Scoville laughed lightly as he replied, "I now wish you were a
soldier and an officer in my regiment. You and I would make good
comrades."

"You forget, sir," she answered in like vein, "that I am a
bloodthirsty little rebel."

"On the contrary, I remember that yours was the kind, pitying face
which made me half fancy I was in heaven when recovering from my
swoon."

"Chunk and Aun' Jinkey brought you back to earth right sudden,
didn't they?" and her laugh rang out merrily.

"Sister," cried Mr. Baron, running out on the veranda, "what on
earth--I thought I heard Louise laugh way off toward the quarters."

"You did."

"What! has she broken all bounds, defied all authority, and gone
utterly wild in her rebellion?"

Mrs. Whately made a gesture of half irritable protest. Meantime,
Mrs. Baron, hearing her husband's voice, came out and exclaimed, "Is
that Louise and the Yankee yonder going off alone?"

"They are not 'going off.' You and brother may join them if you
wish. They simply intend to watch the people at the quarters a
little while, and I will wait here for them."

"Sarah Whately!" gasped Mrs. Baron, "can you mean to say that you
have permitted our ward to do such an indelicate thing? She has
never been permitted to go out alone in the evening with any young
man, and the idea that she should begin with a Yankee!"

"She is not alone. She is always within call and most of the time in
sight. I will make one more effort to bring you both to reason,"
added Mrs. Whately, warmly, "and then, if we continue to differ so
radically, I will return home in the morning, after giving Louise to
understand that she can always find a refuge with me if it is
necessary. Can you think I would let the girl whom my son hopes to
marry do an indelicate thing? Pardon me, but I think I am competent
to judge in such matters. I will be answerable for her conduct and
that of Lieutenant Scoville also, for he is a gentleman if he is our
enemy. I tell you again that your course toward Louise will drive
her to open, reckless defiance. It is a critical time with her. She
is my niece as well as your ward, and it is the dearest wish of
myself and son that she should be bound to us by the closest ties. I
will not have her future and all our hopes endangered by a petty,
useless tyranny. If you will treat her like a young lady of eighteen
I believe she will act like one."

Mrs. Baron was speechless in her anger, but her husband began, "Oh,
well, if he were a Southern officer--"

Then the blood of her race became too hot for Mrs. Whately's
control, and she sprang up, saying, "Well, then, go and tell him to
his face that he's a vile Yankee, a Goth and Vandal, a ruthless
invader, unworthy of a moment's trust, and incapable of behaving
like a gentleman! Take no further protection at his hands. How can
you be so blind as not to see I am doing the best thing possible to
retain Louise within our control and lead her to fulfil our hopes? I
ask you again, how are you going to MAKE Louise do what you wish?
You cannot be arbitrary with even one of your own slaves any
longer."

"Well," said Mrs. Baron, "I wash my hands of it all," and she
retired to her room. Mr. Baron sat down in a chair and groaned
aloud. It was desperately hard for him to accept the strange truth
that he could not order every one on the place, his niece included,
to do just what pleased him. Never had an autocratic potentate been
more completely nonplussed; but his sister's words, combined with
events, brought him face to face with his impotence so inexorably
that for a time he had nothing to say.




CHAPTER XVII

THE JOY OF FREEDOM


In an open space near the quarters the negroes had kindled a fire,
although the night was mild. These children of the sun love warmth
and all that is cheerful and bright, their emotions appearing to
kindle more readily with the leaping flames. When Miss Lou and
Scoville approached, the worshippers were just concluding the hymn
heard on the piazza. From the humble cabins stools, benches, rickety
chairs, and nondescript seats made from barrels, had been brought
and placed in a circle close about the fire. These were occupied by
the elderly and infirm. Uncle Lusthah, whose name had been evolved
from Methuselah, was the evident leader of the meeting, and Miss Lou
whispered to her attendant, "He's the recognized preacher among
them, and I believe he tries to live up to his ideas of right."

"Then I'll listen to him very respectfully," said Scoville.

Their advent created quite a commotion, and not a few were inclined
to pay court to the "Linkum ossifer." All who had seats rose to
offer them, but Scoville smiled, shook his head and waved them back.
Uncle Lusthah immediately regained attention by shouting, "Look at
me": then, "Now look up. Who we uns befo'? De King. De gret Jehovah.
Bow yo' haids humble; drap yo' eyes. Tek off de shoon fum yo' feet
lak Moses w'en he gwine neah de bunin' bush. Young mars'r en young
mistis standin' dar 'spectful. Dey knows dat ef de gret Linkum yere
hissef, Linkum's Lawd en Mars'r yere befo' 'im. Let us all gib our
'tention ter 'Im who's brung 'liverance ter Israel at las'. We gwine
troo de Red Sea ob wah now en des whar de promis' lan' is we got ter
fin' out, but we hab tu'ned our backs on ole Egypt en we ain' gwine
back no mo'. Brudren en sistas, you'se yeard a Gospil, a good news,
dis eb'nin' sho. You'se yeard you free, bress de Lawd! I'se been
waitin' fer dis news mo' yeahs den I kin reckermember, but dey's
come 'fo' my ole haid's under de sod. Hit's all right dat we is glad
en sing aloud for joy, but we orter rejice wid trem'lin'. De
'sponsibil'ties ob freedom is des tremenjus. Wat you gwine ter do
wid freedom? Does you tink you kin git lazy en thievin' en drunken?
Is dere any sech foolishness yere? Will eny man or ooman call
deysefs free w'en dey's slabes ter some mean, nasty vice? Sech folks
al'ays be slabes, en dey orter be slabes ter a man wid a big whip.
See how de young mars'r' haves dat brung de news ob freedom. He know
he juty en he does hit brave. He mek de w'ite sogers he 'mands des
toe de mark. We got ter toe a long, wi'te mark. We ain' free ter do
foolishness no mo' dan he en he men is. De gret Linkum got he eye on
you; de Cap'n ob our salvation got He eye on you. Now I des gib you
some 'structions," and happy it would have been for the freedmen--
for their masters and deliverers also, it may be added--if all had
followed Uncle Lusthah's "'structions."

When through with his exhortation the old preacher knelt down on the
box which served as his pulpit and offered a fervent petition. From
the loud "amens" and "'lujahs" he evidently voiced the honest
feeling of the hour in his dusky audience. Scoville was visibly
affected at the reference to him. "May de deah Lawd bress de young
Linkum ossifer," rose Uncle Lusthah's tones, loud, yet with
melodious power and pathos, for he was gifted with a voice of
unusual compass, developed by his calling. "He des took he life in
he hand en come down in de lan' ob de shadder, de gret, dark shadder
dat's been restin' on de hearts ob de slabes. We had no fader, no
muder, no wife, no chile. Dey didn't 'long to we fer dey cud be sole
right out'n our arms en we see dem no mo'. De gret shadder ob slav'y
swallow dem up. Young mars'r face de bullit, face de so'ed, face de
curse ter say we free. May de Lawd be he shiel' en buckler, compass
'im roun' wid angel wings, stop de han' riz ter strike, tu'n away de
bullit aim at he heart. May de Lawd brung 'im gray hars at las lak
mine, so he see, en his chil'n see, en our chil'n see de 'liverance
he hep wrought out.

"En dar's young mistis. She hab a heart ter feel fer de po' slabe.
She al'ays look kin' at us, en she stood 'tween us en woun's en
death; w'en all was agin us en she in de watehs ob triberlation
hersef, she say 'fo' dem all, 'No harm come ter us.' She put her lil
w'ite arm roun' her ole mammy." ("Dat she did," cried Aun' Jinkey,
who was swaying back and forth where the fire lit up her wrinkled
visage, "en de gret red welt on her shol'er now.") "She took de
blow," continued Uncle Lusthah, amid groans and loud lamentations,
"en de Lawd, wid whose stripes we healed, WILL bress her en hab
aready bressed her en brung her 'liverance 'long o' us. May He keep
her eyes fum teahs, en her heart fum de breakin' trouble; may He
shine on a path dat lead ter all de bes' tings in dis yere worl' en
den ter de sweet home ob heb'n!"

When the voice of Uncle Lusthah ceased Scoville heard a low sob from
Miss Lou at his side and he was conscious that tears stood in his
own eyes. His heart went out in strong homage to the young girl to
whom such tribute had been paid and her heart thrilled at the moment
as she distinguished his deep "amen" in the strong, general
indorsement of the petition in her behalf.

Then rose a hymn which gathered such volume and power that it came
back in echoes from distant groves.

"Hark, hark, I year a soun'. Hit come fum far away; Wake, wake, en
year de soun' dat come fum far away. De night am dark, de night been
long, but dar de mawnin' gray; En wid de light is comin' sweet a
soun' fum far away.

"Look how de light am shinin' now across de gret Red Sea. On Egypt
sho' we stay no mo' in slabing misery. Ole Pharaoh year de voice ob
God, 'Des set my people free;' En now we march wid song en shout,
right troo the gret Red Sea."

Every line ended with, the rising inflection of more than a hundred
voices, followed by a pause in which the echoes repeated clearly the
final sound. The effect was weird, strange in the last degree, and,
weary as he was, Scoville felt all his nerves tingling.

The meeting now broke up, to be followed by dancing and singing
among the younger negroes. Uncle Lusthah, Aun' Jinkey, and many
others crowded around Scoville and "the young mistis" to pay their
respects. Chunk and Zany, standing near, graciously accepted the
honors showered upon them. The officer speedily gave Miss Lou his
arm and led her away. When so distant as to be unobserved, he said
in strong emphasis, "Miss Baron, I take off my hat to you. Not to a
princess would I pay such homage as to the woman who could wake the
feeling with which these poor people regard you."

She blushed with the deepest pleasure of her life, for she had been
repressed and reprimanded so long that words of encouragement and
praise were very sweet. But she only said with a laugh, "Oh, come;
don't turn my poor bewildered head any more to-night. I'm
desperately anxious to have uncle and aunt think I'm a very mature
young woman, but I know better and so do you. Why, even Uncle
Lusthah made me cry like a child."

"Well, his words about you brought tears to my eyes, and so there's
a pair of us."

"Oh!" she cried delightedly, giving his arm a slight pressure, "I
didn't know that you'd own up to that. When I saw them I felt like
laughing and crying at the same moment. And so I do now--it's so
delicious to be free and happy--to feel that some one is honestly
pleased with you."

He looked upon her upturned face, still dewy from emotion, and
wondered if the moon that night shone on a fairer object the world
around. It was indeed the face of a glad, happy child no longer
depressed by woes a few hours old, nor fearful of what the next hour
might bring. Her look into his eyes was also that of a child, full
of unbounded trust, now that her full confidence was won. "You do
indeed seem like a lovely child, Miss Baron, and old Uncle Lusthah
told the whole truth about you. Those simple folk are like children
themselves and find people out by intuition. If you were not good-
hearted they would know it. Well, I'm glad I'm not old myself."

"But you're going to be old--AWFUL old," she replied, full of
rippling laughter. "Oh, wasn't I glad to hear Uncle Lusthah pray
over you! for if there is a God who takes any care of people, you
will live to be as gray as he is."

"If there is a God?"

"Oh, I'm a little heathen. I couldn't stand uncle or aunt's God at
all or believe in Him. They made me feel that He existed just to
approve of their words and ways, and to help them keep me miserable.
When I hear Uncle Lusthah he stirs me all up just as he did to-
night; but then I've always been taught that he's too ignorant--
well, I don't know. Uncle and aunt made an awful blunder," and here
she began to laugh again. "There is quite a large library at the
house, at least I suppose it's large, and I read and read till I was
on the point of rebellion, before you and Cousin Mad came. Books
make some things clear and others SO-O puzzling. I like to hear you
talk, for you seem so decided and you know so much more than I do.
Cousin Mad never read much. It was always horse, and dog, and gun
with him. How I'm running on and how far I am from your question!
But it is such a new thing to have a listener who cares and
understands. Aun' Jinkey cares, poor soul! but she can understand so
little. Lieutenant, I can answer your implied question in only one
way; I wish to know what is true. Do you believe there's a God who
cares for us as Uncle Lusthah says?"

"Yes."

"Well, I'm glad you do; and simply saying so will have more weight
than all arguments."

"Please remember, Miss Baron, I haven't said that I lived up to my
faith. It's hard to do this, I suppose, in the army. Still I've no
right to any excuses, much less to the unmanly one that it's hard.
What if it is? That's a pretty excuse for a soldier. Well, no matter
about me, except that I wish you to know that with all my mind and
heart I believe that there is a good God taking care of a good girl
like you. Pardon me if I ask another question quite foreign. How
could your cousin wish to marry you if you do not love him?"

He wondered as he saw the child-like look pass from her face and her
brow darken into a frown. "I scarcely know how to answer you," she
said, "and I only understand vaguely myself. I understand better,
though, since I've known you. When you were hiding in Aun' Jinkey's
cabin you looked GOODWILL at me. I saw that you were not thinking of
yourself, but of me, and that you wished me well. I feel that Cousin
Mad is always thinking of himself, that his professed love of me is
a sort of self-love. He gives me the feeling that he wants me for
his OWN sake, not for MY sake at all. I don't believe he'd love me a
minute after he got tired of me. I'd be just like the toys he used
to cry for, then break up. I won't marry such a man, NEVER."

"You had better not. Hush! We are approaching a man yonder who
appears anxious to hear what is none of his business."

They had been strolling slowly back, often pausing in the deep
mutual interest of their conversation. Miss Lou now detected Perkins
standing in the shadow of his dwelling, between the mansion and the
quarters.

"That's the overseer," she said, in a low voice. "How quick your
eyes are!"

"They must be in my duty." Then he directed their steps so as to
pass near the man. When opposite, he turned his eyes suddenly upon
Perkins' face, and detected such a scowl of hostility and hate that
his hand dropped instinctively on the butt of his revolver. "Well,
sir," he said, sternly, "you have shown your disposition."

"You didn't 'spect ter find a friend, I reck'n," was the surly yet
confused reply.

"Very well, I know how to treat such bitter enemies as you have
shown yourself to be. Officer of the guard!" A trooper ran forward
from the camp-fire and saluted. "Put this man with the other
prisoners, and see that he has no communication with any one."

As Perkins was marched off they heard him mutter a curse. "Pardon
me, Miss Baron," Scoville resumed. "The lives of my men are in my
care, and that fellow would murder us all if he had a chance. I
don't know that he could do any harm, but it would only be from lack
of opportunity. I never take risks that I can help."

"Having seen his expression I can't blame you," was her reply.

A new train of thought was awakened in Scoville. He paused a moment
and looked at her earnestly.

"Why do you look at me so?" she asked.

"Miss Baron, pardon me, but I do wish I were going to be here
longer, or rather, I wish the war was over. I fear there are deep
perplexities, and perhaps dangers, before you. My little force is in
the van of a raiding column which will pass rapidly through the
country. It will be here to-morrow morning, but gone before night,
in all probability. The war will be over soon, I trust, but so much
may happen before it is. You inspire in me such deep solicitude. I
had to tell those poor negroes that they were free. So they would be
if within our lines. But when we are gone that overseer may be
brutal, and the slaves may come again to you for protection. That
cousin of yours may also come again--oh, it puts me in a sort of
rage to think of leaving you so unfriended. You will have to be a
woman in very truth, and a brave, circumspect one, too."

"You are right, sir," she replied with dignity, "and you must also
remember that I will be a Southern woman. I do feel most friendly to
you personally, but not to your cause. Forgive me if I have acted
and spoken too much like a child to-night, and do not misunderstand
me. Circumstances have brought us together in a strange way, and
while I live I shall remember you with respect and gratitude. I can
never lose the friendly interest you have inspired, and I can never
think of the North as I hear others speak of it; but I belong to my
own people, and I should be very unhappy and humiliated if I felt
that I must continue to look to an enemy of my country for
protection. I cannot go over to your side any more than you can come
over to ours."

He merely sighed in answer.

"You do not think less"--and then she paused in troubled silence.

"Louise," called Mrs. Whately's voice.

"Yes," replied the girl, "we are coming."

"I think you will always try to do what seems right to you, Miss
Baron. May God help and guide you, for you may have trouble of which
you little dream. What you say about your side and my side has no
place in my thoughts. I'll help settle such questions with soldiers.
Neither do I wish to be officious, but there is something in my very
manhood which protests against a fair young girl like you being so
beset with troubles."

"Forgive me," she said earnestly. "There it is again. You are
unselfishly thinking of me, and that's so new. There's no use of
disguising it. When you go there'll not be one left except Aun'
Jinkey and Uncle Lusthah who will truly wish what's best for me
without regard to themselves. Well, it can't be helped. At least I
have had a warning which I won't forget."

"But Mrs. Whately seems so kindly--"

"Hush! I see uncle coming. She would sacrifice herself utterly for
her son, and do you think she would spare me?"

Mr. Baron's fears and honest sense of responsibility led him at last
to seek his niece. In doing this he saw Perkins under guard.
Hastening to Scoville he demanded, "What does this mean? My overseer
is not a combatant, sir."

"Mr. Baron," replied the officer, "have you not yet learned that I
am in command on this plantation?"

Poor Mr. Baron lost his temper again and exploded most unwisely in
the words, "Well, sir, my niece is not under your command. You had
no right to take her from the house without my permission. I shall
report you to your superior officer to-morrow."

"I hope you will, sir."

"I also protest against the treatment of my overseer."

"Very well, sir."

"You will please release my niece's arm and leave us to ourselves,
as you promised."

"No, sir, I shall escort Miss Baron back to Mrs. Whately, from whom
I obtained the honor of her society."

"Louise, I command"--Mr. Baron began, almost choking with rage.

"No, uncle," replied the girl, "you COMMAND me no more ... Request
me politely, and I will shake hands with Lieutenant Scoville, thank
him for his courtesy to me and to us all, and then go with you."

The old man turned on his heel and walked back to the house without
a word.

"Bravo!" whispered Scoville, but he felt her hand tremble on his
arm. "That's your true course," he added. "Insist on the treatment
due your age, act like a lady, and you will be safe."

"Well," Mrs. Whately tried to say politely, "have not you young
people taken an ell?"

"No, Mrs. Whately," Scoville replied gravely. "We have not taken a
step out of our way between here and the quarters, although we have
lingered in conversation. We have ever been in plain sight of many
of your people. I put the overseer under arrest because I had
absolute proof of his malicious hostility. I shall inflict no injury
on any one who does not threaten to be dangerous to my command, my
duty requiring that I draw the line sharply there. Mrs. Whately, I
have never met a young lady who inspired in me more honest respect.
If we have trespassed on your patience, the blame is mine. Ladies, I
thank you for your courtesy and wish you good-night," and he walked
rapidly away.

"Aunty," said Miss Lou, "you have begun to treat me in a way which
would inspire my love and confidence."

"Well, my dear, I am sorely perplexed. If we yield in minor points,
you should in vital ones, and trust to our riper experience and
knowledge."

The distractions of the day had practically robbed Mr. Baron of all
self-control, and he now exclaimed, "I yield nothing. As your
guardian I shall maintain my rights and live up to my sense of
responsibility. If by wild, reckless conduct you thwart my efforts
in your behalf, my responsibility ceases. I can then feel that I
have done my best."

"And so, uncle, you would be quite content, no matter what became of
me," added the girl bitterly. "Well, then, I tell you to your face
that you cannot marry me, like a slave girl, to whom you please.
I'll die first. I shall have my girlhood, and then, as woman, marry
or not marry, as I choose. Aunty, I appeal to you, as a woman and a
lady, to stop this wretched folly if you can."

"Louise," said her aunt, kindly, "as long as I have a home it shall
be a refuge to you. I hope the morrow will bring wiser counsels and
better moods to us all."

The mansion soon became quiet, and all slept in the weariness of
reaction. No sound came from the darkened dwelling except an
occasional groan from one of the wounded men on the piazza.
Scoville, wrapped in a blanket, lay down by the fire with his men
and was asleep almost instantly. The still shadows on the dewy grass
slowly turned toward the east as the moon sank low. To the last, its
beams glinted on the weapons of vigilant sentinels and vedettes, and
the only warlike sounds occurred at the relief of guards. All rested
who could rest except one--the overseer. Restless, vindictive, he
watched and listened till morning.




CHAPTER XVIII

A WELL-AIMED SLIPPER


It would be hard to imagine a morning more lovely, a more perfect
type of peace and good-will, than the one which dawned over The Oaks
plantation the following day. With the light came fragrant zephyrs
of delicious coolness; the stillness of the night gave place to a
slight stir and rustle of foliage; chanticleers crowed lustily, with
no forebodings of their doom; the horses began to whinny for their
breakfasts, and the negroes to emerge from their quarters to greet
the light of this first fair day of freedom. Uncle Lusthah declared
"De millenyum yere sho!" Smoke rose from Aun' Jinkey's chimney, and
after the pone was baking on the hearth she came out on the doorstep
with her pipe to do a little "projeckin'." Even she was impressed
with the beauty and peacefulness of the morning. "En ter tink," she
ejaculated, "my honey's sleepin' lak a lil chile 'stead ob cryin' en
wringin' her han's nobody know whar! Wen dey gits ter mar'in' my
honey en she a bleatin' en a tremlin' like a lamb 'long a wolf dat
lickin' he chops ober her, den I say hit's time fer a smash up.
Marse Scoville look lak he 'tect her gin de hull worl'."

So thought Miss Lou herself. In her weariness and sense of security
she had slept soundly till the light grew distinct, when the birds
wakened her. With consciousness memory quickly reproduced what had
occurred. She sprang to the window and peeped through the blinds in
time to see Scoville rise from his bivouac and throw aside his
blanket. With a soldier's promptness he aroused his men and began
giving orders, the tenor of one being that a scouting party should
prepare to go out immediately.

"Oh!" she sighed, "if I had such a brother what a happy girl I might
be! I don't believe I'd ever care to marry."

She was far from being a soft-natured, susceptible girl, and while
Scoville kindled her imagination and had won her trust, she did not
think of him as a lover. Indeed, the very word had become hateful to
her, associating it as she did with her cousin and the idea of
selfish appropriation. More strongly than any slave on the
plantation, she longed for freedom, and the belief that the Union
officer understood her, respecting her rights and feelings, won him
all the favor she was then capable of bestowing upon any one. If he
had employed his brief opportunity in gallantry and love-making she
would have been disgusted. "I never met any one like him," she
soliloquized as she hastily dressed. "It's so strange to find one
willing I should be a little bit happy in my own way, who is not
'seeking my best welfare,' as uncle says. Welfare, indeed! As if I
couldn't see some wish or scheme of their own back of all they say
or do! His dark eyes declare, 'I wish you well whether you are
useful to me or not.' Well, I am glad I've known him, whether I ever
see him again or not. He has made my course much clearer."

The inmates of the mansion as well as those without were soon busy
in their preparations for a day which all felt must be eventful.
That the "millenyum" had not come was soon proved by the
commencement of hostilities on the part of Mrs. Baron and Scoville.
The latter was approaching the kitchen to interview Aun' Suke when
"ole miss" appeared.

"Madam," he said, lifting his hat, "will you kindly direct your cook
to prepare a breakfast immediately for the wounded? It should be
light as well as nutritious, for some are feverish."

She paid no more attention to him than if he had not spoken, and
entered Aun' Suke's domain. There was a mirthful flash in his dark
eyes as he followed her. When she saw him standing in the doorway,
her cold stare, more clearly than words, designated him "intruder."
He steadily returned her gaze, and Aun' Suke, who had been shouting
over freedom the night before, now had the temerity to quiver in all
her vast proportions with amusement.

"Madam," resumed Scoville, removing his hat, "will you give my
orders, or shall I?"

"Your orders, sir! and in my kitchen!"

"Certainly, madam, and my orders in this instance are simply the
dictates of humanity."

"I will see that our men are well cared for. I am not responsible
for the others."

"But I am, and all must fare alike. Cook, prepare a nice light
breakfast for all the wounded men before you do anything else."

"Yes, mars'r, I 'bey you, I sut'ny will."

Scoville strode away to attend to other duties. Mrs. Baron glared
after him and then at Aun' Suke, who at once began her work.

"Do you mean to say that you'll take no more orders from me?" the
old lady asked, in tones of suppressed anger.

"Kyant do mo' 'n one ting ter oncet. Ob co'se I git yo' breakfas'
when I kin. Reck'n dough we soon hab ter disergree on my wages. I'se
a free ooman."

"Oh, you are free and I am not. That's the new order of things your
Yankee friends would bring about."

"La now, misus," said matter-of-fact Aun' Suke, again shaking with
mirth at the idea, "you got mo' edication 'n me. Wat de use bein'
blin' des on puppose? Spose you en ole mars'r tell me dat ain' a
egg" (holding one up): "kyant I see? Hit's broad sun-up. Why not des
look at tings ez dey iz? Sabe a heap ob trouble. Yere, you lil
niggahs, hep right smart or you neber get yo' breakfas'."

Mrs. Baron went back to the house looking as if the end of the world
had come instead of the millennium.

In the hall she met her husband and Mrs. Whately, to whom she
narrated what had occurred. Mr. Baron had settled down into a sort
of sullen endurance, and made no answer, but Mrs. Whately began
earnestly: "Our very dignity requires that we have no more
collisions with a power we cannot resist. Even you, sister, must now
see that you gain nothing and change nothing. We can be merely
passive in our hostility. The only course possible for us is to
endure this ordeal patiently and then win Louise over to our
wishes."

Miss Lou, who was dusting the parlor, stole to the further end of
the apartment and rattled some ornaments to warn them of her
presence. She smiled bitterly as she muttered, "Our wishes; mine
will never be consulted."

Mrs. Whately entered the parlor and kissed her niece affectionately.
She did not like the girl's expression and the difficulty of her
task grew clearer. Nevertheless, her heart was more set on the
marriage than ever before, since her motives had been strengthened
by thought. That her son was bent upon it was one of the chief
considerations. "If I obtain for him this prize," she had reasoned,
"he must see that there is no love like a mother's."

Miss Lou, also, had been unconsciously revealing her nature to the
sagacious matron, who felt the girl, if won, would not become a
pretty toy, soon wearying her son by insipidity of character. "I
know better," the lady thought, "than to agree with brother and
sister that Louise is merely wilful and perverse." Feeling that she
was incapable of controlling her son, she would be glad to delegate
this task to the one who had the most influence over him and who
best promised to maintain it. She was not so blind in her indulgence
as helpless in it from long habit. She thought that as a wife the
girl would not only hold her own, but also do much toward
restraining her son in his wild tendencies; but she gave no weight
to the consideration often in Miss Lou's mind, "I do not see why
everything and everybody should exist for Cousin Mad's benefit."

Mrs. Whately secretly approved of Scoville's orders in regard to the
wounded, but did not so express herself, resolving not to come into
collision again with her relatives unless it was essential. She now
went out and assisted the surgical trooper in dressing the men's
injuries. Miss Lou had learned that breakfast would be delayed, and
so decided to satisfy her hunger partially at Aun' Jinkey's cabin.
The excitements of the preceding day had robbed her of all appetite,
but now she was ravenous. Her estrangement from her uncle and aunt
was so great that she avoided them, having a good deal of the
child's feeling, "I won't speak till they make up first."

The old negress heard her rapid steps and looked out from her door.
"Oh, mammy," cried the girl, "I'm that hungry I could almost eat
you, and I don't know when we'll have breakfast."

"You des in time, den, honey. Come right in."

But Miss Lou paused at the door in embarrassment, for Scoville had
risen from the table and was advancing to meet her. "Good-morning,
Miss Baron," he said. "Aunt Jinkey and Chunk have prepared me a
capital breakfast, and I should be only too delighted to share it. I
must be in the saddle soon and so availed myself of the first chance
for a meal. Please do not hesitate, for it will probably be my only
opportunity of saying good-by."

"Dar now, honey, sit right down. Ef Marse Scoville ain' quality den
I doan know um."

"Miss Baron," cried Scoville, laughing, "Aunt Jinkey has raised a
point now which you alone can settle--the question of my quality."

"About the same as my own, I reckon," said the girl, sitting down
with rosy cheeks. "Aun' Jinkey is evidently your ally, for she has
put her invitation in a form which I could not decline without
hurting the feelings of--"

"Your sincere and grateful friend," interrupted the officer.

"Uncle and aunt would think I was committing an unheard-of
indiscretion."

"But ARE you?"

"I'm too hungry to discuss the question now," she answered,
laughing. "Do let us hasten, for such OLD friends should not part
with their mouths full."

"Well, hit des does my ole heart good ter see you sittin' dar, Miss
Lou. I'se po'ful glad yo' mouf's full ob breakfas' en dat yo' eyes
ain' full ob tears. Wat we projeckin' 'bout yistidy?"

"Now, Aun' Jinkey, just keep still. I can't show becoming sentiment
on any subject except pones and such coffee as I have not tasted for
a long time."

"Hit Yankee coffee."

"I drink your health in my one contribution," cried Scoville. "Never
mind, aunty, we'll be jolly over it all the same. I agree with you.
It's worth a month's pay to see Miss Baron happy and hungry. I'd
like to know who has a better right. Aunt Jinkey's told me how you
protected her. That was fine. You'd make a soldier."

"Oh, please stop such talk, both of you. I'm ridiculously unlike the
heroines in uncle's library. Lieutenant, please don't say 'Ha! the
hour has come and we must part, perhaps forever.' I won't have any
forever. Uncle Lusthah has insured you gray hairs, and if you don't
come and see us before they're gray, Aun' Jinkey and I will believe
all uncle says about the Yankees."

"And so you ought," said Scoville. "Oh, I'll come back to breakfast
with you again, if I have to come on crutches. Well, I must go.
There is Chunk with the horses. Even now I'm keeping one ear open
for a shot from that hasty cousin of yours."

At this reference she looked grave and rose from the table.
"Lieutenant," she said, taking his proffered hand, "please do not
think me a giddy child nor an unfeeling girl. I DO thank you. I do
wish you well just as you wish me well--for your own sake. Oh, it
seems such a blessed thing for people to feel simple, honest
goodwill toward one another, without having some scheme back of it
all."

"Well, Miss Baron, if I had a chance I'd soon prove that I too had a
scheme. The chief point in it would be to keep all trouble out of
the eyes that looked on me so kindly when I came to my senses in
this cabin. Heaven bless your good, kind heart! Promise me one
thing."

"Well?"

"If your cousin comes soon there may be a sharp fight. Keep out of
danger. I could never be myself again if my coming here should
result in injury to you."

"As far as my curiosity will permit I will try to keep out of the
way. I've seen so little in my short life that I must make the most
of this brief opportunity. In a day or so you may all be gone, and
then the old humdrum life will begin again."

"Yes, we may all be gone before night. Your chief danger then will
be from the stragglers which follow the army like vultures. If
possible, I will induce the general to leave a guard to-night. I
wish Mr. Baron had a clearer eye to his interests and safety. The
general is not lamb-like. If a guard can be procured for to-night it
will be due to your action and my representations. My services as a
scout have brought me in rather close contact with the general, and
possibly I may induce him to give protection as long as the interest
of the service permits. All questions will be decided with reference
to the main chance; so, if I seem neglectful, remember I must obey
my orders, whatever they are. Ah! there's a shot."

Her hand ached long afterward from his quick, strong pressure, and
then he mounted and was away at a gallop. Miss Lou hastily returned
to the house, but Chunk coolly entered the cabin, saying, "I'se git
a bite fer mebbe I ain' yere ter dinner."

"Reck'n you better be skerce, Chunk, ef Mad Whately comes," said his
grandmother, trembling.

"I knows des w'at ter 'spect fum Mad Whately en fum dat ar oberseer
too, but dey fin' me a uggly ole hornet. I got my sting han'y," and
he tapped the butt of a revolver in the breast of his coat. Having
devoured the remnants of the breakfast he darted out and mounted his
horse also.

Mad Whately was coming sure enough, and like a whirlwind. He had
fallen in with the van of the Confederate advance during the night,
and by his representations had induced an early and forced march to
The Oaks. The vigilant Scoville, with his experiences as a scout
fresh in his mind, had foreseen this possibility. He had two plans
in his mind and was ready to act upon either of them.

Rushing through the hallway of the mansion from the rear entrance,
Miss Lou found her kindred on the veranda. They were too excited and
eager to ask where she had been, for the fierce rebel yell had
already been raised at the entrance of the avenue.

"Ah!" exclaimed Mr. Baron, "now we'll see this Yankee scum swept
away."

Apparently he would have good reason for his exultation. Scoville
was the last man in the world to fight blindly, and Miss Lou kept
her eyes on him. As he sat on his horse, where he commanded the best
view of the advancing enemy, she thought he appeared wonderfully
quiet. Not so his men. They were galloping to the right of the
mansion, where there was a grove on rising ground which formed a
long ridge stretching away to the northwest. It can readily be
guessed that it was Scoville's aim not to be cut off from the main
Union column by a superior force, and the ridge would enable him to
see his enemy before he fought, if he should deem it wise to fight
at all. He knew that his horses were fresh. If those of the
attacking party were somewhat blown he could easily keep out of the
way if it were too strong to cope with. He exchanged a few words
with the sergeant commanding the scouting party recently sent out,
and pointed to the grove with his sabre, then slowly followed with
his eye on the enemy.

Miss Lou was in a fever of apprehension in his behalf, for already
shots were fired at him from the Confederates. Suddenly she heard
the click of a musket lock just beneath her, and, looking down, saw
Perkins levelling a piece at Scoville. Quick as light she drew off
her slipper and dashed it into the man's face as he fired. By reason
of his disconcerted aim the bullet flew harmlessly by the Union
officer, who gave a quick, stern glance toward his assailant,
recognized him, and galloped after his men.

"You vile murderer!" cried Miss Lou, "would you shoot a man in his
back?"

"Oh, come, Perkins, that's hardly the thing, no matter what your
provocation," Mr. Baron added.

Perkins bestowed a malignant glance on Miss Lou, then limped away,
wearing a sullen look. The officer in command of the Confederates
sheered off across the lawn toward the grove, and the girl quickly
saw that his force greatly outnumbered that of Scoville. Mad Whately
dashed up to the piazza steps and asked breathlessly, "Are you all
safe?"

"Yes," cried his mother. "Thank God! I see you are safe also."

He turned his eyes on his cousin, but in her cold, steady gaze found
no encouragement. With something like an oath, he turned and
galloped after the attacking force.

But Scoville did not wait to be attacked. He continued with his men
along the ridge, retreating rapidly when pressed, pausing when
pursuit slackened. The officer in command soon remarked to Whately,
"We are using up our horses to no purpose, and we shall need them
for more important work later in the day."

Therefore he sounded recall and retired on the mansion, Scoville
following, thus proving that he was governed by other motives than
fear. Indeed, he was in a very genial frame of mind. He had got all
his men off safely, except two or three laggards, and had already
sent swift riders to inform his general of the situation. Knowing
that the tables would soon be turned, he was quite content that he
had not made an obstinate and useless resistance. "What's more," he
thought, "Miss Lou would not have kept out of danger. It isn't in
her nature to do so. Miss Lou! I wish I might call her that some day
and then drop the Miss. One thing is clear. If I meet that cousin
again, he'll show me no quarter. So I must look out for him and that
assassin of an overseer, too. She called him by his right name, the
brave little girl! No need of asking me to come back, for I'd go to
the ends of the earth to see her again."

If he had know how her presence of mind and swift action had in all
probability saved his life, his feelings would have been far more
vivid, while his belief in the luck of throwing an old shoe would
have become one of the tenets of his faith. Miss Lou went after the
extemporized missile and put it on again, saying, "I have fired my
first and last shot in this war."

"It is indeed becoming doubtful on which side you are," answered her
uncle sternly.

"I'm not on the side of that wretch Perkins. Suppose he had
succeeded, and Lieutenant Scoville's general came here, what mercy
could we expect? If Perkins values his life he had better not be
caught."

"I am glad indeed, Louise, that you prevented such a thing from
happening," said Mrs. Whately. "The result might have been very
disastrous, and in any event would have been horrible. It was a
brave, sensible thing to do, and you will find that Madison will
think so, too."

Mad Whately, however, was in anything but a judicial mood.




CHAPTER XIX

A GIRL'S APPEAL


Miss Lou was too well acquainted with, her cousin not to recognize
evidences of almost ungovernable rage during the brief moment he had
paused at the veranda. She looked significantly at his mother, whose
face was pale and full of an apprehension now uncalled for, since
the prospect of an immediate battle had passed away. "She is afraid
of him herself, her own son, and yet she would marry me to him," the
girl thought bitterly.

Miss Lou was mistaken. Her aunt had fears only FOR her son, knowing
how prone he was to rash, headlong action when almost insane from
passion. The girl, however, was elated and careless. She justly
exulted in the act by which she had baffled the vengeance of
Perkins, and she had ceased to have the anxieties of a bitter
Southern partisan. Such she would have been but for her alienation
from those identified with the cause. She was capable of the most
devoted loyalty, but to whom should she give it? If a loving father
or brother had been among the Confederates, there would have been no
question. Now she was sorely perplexed in her feelings, for the
South was represented by those bent upon doing her a wrong at which
her very soul revolted, and the North by one who had satisfied her
sense of right and justice, who, more than all, had warmed her heart
by kindness. The very friendliness of the negroes inclined her to
take their part almost involuntarily, so deep was the craving of her
chilled nature for sympathy. If she had been brought up in loving
dependence she would not have been so well equipped for the chaotic
emergency. Having no hope of good counsel from natural advisers, she
did not waste a moment in seeking it, or weakly hesitate for its
lack. What her bright, active mind suggested as right and best, that
she was ready to do instantly. Now that she had gained freedom she
would keep it at all hazards.

When the Confederate officers approached the house, she was glad to
observe that her cousin was not chief in command.

Mr. Baron went down upon the lawn to meet the officers, and, after a
brief parley, Major Brockton, the senior in command, began to
dispose of his men for a little rest and refreshment, promising to
join the family soon in the dining-room. Miss Lou, unasked, now
aided in the preparations for the morning meal. Fearing Aun' Suke
would get herself in trouble, she ran to the kitchen and told the
old cook to comply with all demands as best she could. She had
scarcely spoken when Mrs. Baron entered. Casting a severe look on
her niece, she asked Aun' Suke, "Will you obey me now? Will you tell
me you are a free woman now?"

"My haid in a whirl aready, misus. Ef you wants me ter I kin cook,
but I kyant keep track ob de goin's on."

"I can," replied the indomitable old lady, "and I can keep a good
memory of the behavior of all on the plantation!"

"You can't govern much longer by fear, aunt," said Miss Lou. "Had
you not better try a little kindness?"

"What has been the result of all the years of kindness bestowed upon
you?" was the indignant answer.

"I only meant that it might be well to bestow a little of what other
people regard as kindness. I had asked Aun' Suke to do her best and
am sure she will."

"It will be strange if she does, when you are setting the example of
doing your worst. But I am mistress once more, and wish no
interference."

"Doan you worry, honey, 'bout we uns," said Aun' Suke quietly. "We
yeard de soun' fum far away, en we year it agin soon."

Meanwhile Mad Whately was closeted with his uncle and mother,
listening with a black frown to all that had occurred.

"I tell you," exclaimed the young man, "it's as clear as the sun in
the sky that she should be sent away at once--in fact, that you all
should go."

"I won't go," said Mr. Baron, "neither will my wife. If the country
has come to such a pass that we must die on our hearths we will die
right here."

"Then with my whole authority, mother, I demand that you and my
cousin go at once while opportunity still remains. The forces on
both sides are concentrating here, and this house may soon be in the
midst of a battle. Lou will be exposed to every chance of war. By
Heaven! the girl to be my wife shall not trifle with me longer. Oh,
mother! how could you let her walk and talk alone with that Yankee
officer?"

"I tell you both you are taking the wrong course with Louise," began
Mrs. Whately.

"You never spoke a truer word, auntie," said Miss Lou, entering.

Stung to the quick, Whately sprang up and said sternly, "In this
emergency I am the head of my family. I command you to be ready
within an hour to go away with my mother. Perkins and a small guard
will go with you to my cousin's house."

"Go away with that cowardly wretch, Perkins? Never!"

"You are to go away with your aunt and my mother, and you cannot
help yourself. Your readiness to receive attentions from a miserable
Yankee cub shows how little you are to be trusted. I tell you for
the honor of our house you SHALL go away. I'd shoot you rather than
have it occur again."

"You silly, spoiled, passionate boy!" exclaimed Miss Lou, rendered
self-possessed by the very extravagance of her cousin's anger. "Do
you suppose I will take either command or counsel from one who is
beside himself? Come, Cousin Mad, cool off, or you'll have some more
repenting at leisure to do."

She walked quietly out of the room to the veranda just as Major
Brockton was about to announce himself.

"Miss Baron, I presume," he said, doffing his hat.

"Yes, sir. Please sit down. I think we shall soon be summoned to
breakfast. If the worst comes to the worst," she resolved, "I can
appeal to this officer for protection."

"Mother," said Whately in a choking voice, "be ready to go the
moment you have your breakfast."

His passion was so terrible that she made a feint of obeying, while
he rushed out of the rear door. Perkins readily entered into the
plan, and gave Whately further distorted information about Miss
Lou's recent interview with Scoville. Mrs. Whately's horses were
quickly harnessed to her carriage, and Perkins drove it near to the
back entrance to the mansion.

As Whately entered, his mother put her hand on his arm, and warned,
"Madison, I fear you are all wrong--"

"Mother, I will be obeyed at once. The carriage is ready. My own
men, who have been paroled, will act as escort. Lou shall go if
taken by force."

"Madison, what can you hope from a wife won by such violence?"

"She will fear and obey me the rest of her life. I'd rather die ten
thousand deaths than be balked after what she has said. Come, let's
go through the form of breakfast and then I shall act."

They found Miss Lou with her uncle, aunt, and Major Brockton already
at the table. The major at once resumed his condolences. "I am very
sorry indeed," he said, "that you ladies are compelled to leave your
home."

"Do you think it wisest and best that we should?" asked Mrs. Whately
quickly, hoping that her niece would feel the force of the older
officer's decision.

"Yes, madam, I do. I think that the sooner you all are south of our
advance the better. It is possible that a battle may take place on
this very ground, although I hope not. As soon as my men have had
something to eat I shall follow the Yankees, a course I trust that
will bring on the action elsewhere; but this region will probably
become one of strife and turmoil for a time. It won't last long,
however, and if the house is spared I think you can soon return."

Mrs. Baron poured the coffee and then excused herself. A few moments
later Miss Lou, who was very observant, noted a significant glance
from Zany. As the dusky waitress started ostensibly for the kitchen,
the young girl immediately followed. Whately hesitated a moment or
two, then left the breakfast room also. But Zany had had time to
whisper:

"Oh, Miss Lou, Miss Whately's keridge's at de do', en Perkins en
sogers wid it. Ole miss in yo' room en--"

"Quit that," said Whately in a low, stern voice, and Zany scuttled
away.

"Now, then," resumed Whately to his cousin, "if you have any dignity
or sense left, get ready at once. I can tell you that I'm far past
being trifled with now."

"I'll finish my breakfast first, if you please," was the quiet
response, so quiet that he was misled, and imagined her will
breaking before his purpose.

They were scarcely seated at the table again before she startled
them all by saying, "Major Brockton, I appeal to you, as a Southern
gentleman and a Southern officer, for protection."

"Why, Miss Baron!" exclaimed the major, "you fairly take away my
breath."

"Little wonder, sir. I have had mine taken away."

"Louise, you are insane!" cried Mr. Baron, starting up.

"Major, you can see for yourself that I am not insane, that I have
perfect self-control. As you are a true man I plead with you not to
let my cousin send me away. He can only do so by force, but I plead
with you not to permit it. If I must I will tell you all, but I'd
rather not. I am an orphan and so have sacred claims on every true
man, and I appeal to you. I do not fear any battle that may be
fought here, but I do fear being sent away, and with good reason."

"Oh, Louise!" cried Mrs. Whately, with scarlet face, "you place us
in a horrible position."

"Not in so horrible a one as I have been placed, and which I will
not risk again, God is my witness."

Major Brockton looked very grave, for he was acquainted with
Whately's recklessness. The young man himself was simply speechless
from rage, but Mr. Baron sprang up and said sternly, "You shall hear
the whole truth, sir. It can be quickly told, and then you can judge
whether I, as guardian, am capable of countenancing anything
unwarranted by the highest sense of honor. This girl, my niece, has
been virtually betrothed to her cousin since childhood. I and her
aunts deemed it wisest and safest, in view of dangers threatening
the direst evils, that she should be married at once and escorted by
my sister and her son to the house of a relative residing further
south. First and last, we were considering her interests, and above
all, her safety. That's all."

"No, it is not all," cried Miss Lou, with a passionate pathos in her
voice which touched the major's heart. "Would you, sir, force a
girl, scarcely more than a child, to marry a man when you knew that
she would rather die first? Safety! What would I care for safety
after the worst had happened? I will not be married like a slave
girl. I will not go away to Lieutenant Whately's relations unless I
am taken by force."

"Great God, sir, that I should hear a Southern girl make such an
appeal," said Major Brockton, his face dark with indignation. "We
are justly proud of the respect we show to our women, and who more
entitled to respect than this orphan girl, scarcely more than a
child, as she says herself? Good Heaven! Whately, could you not have
protected your cousin as you would your sister? You say, sir" (to
Mr. Baron) "that she was betrothed from childhood. She didn't
betroth herself in childhood, did she? Believe me, Miss Baron, no
one has the power to force you into marriage, although your kindred
should use all means, while you are so young, to prevent an unworthy
alliance."

"I had no thought of marriage, sir, until terrified by my cousin's
purpose and my family's urgency but a day since. I am willing to pay
them all respect and deference if they will treat me as if I had
some rights and feelings of my own. My only wish is a little of the
freedom which I feel a girl should enjoy when as old as I am. I
detest and fear the man whom my cousin has selected to take me away.
I do not fear a battle. They all can tell you that I stood on the
piazza when bullets were flying. I only ask and plead that I may
stay in such a home as I have. My old mammy is here and--"

"Well," ejaculated the major, "have you no stronger tie than that of
a slave mammy in your home?"

"I do not wish to be unjust, sir. I try to think my aunt and uncle
mean well by me, but they can't seem to realize that I have any
rights whatever. As for my cousin, he has always had what he wanted,
and now he wants me."

"That is natural enough; but let him win you, if he can, like a
Southern gentleman. Lieutenant Whately, I order you to your duty.
Mr. Baron, if you wish to send your ladies away and go with them, I
will furnish an escort. Any Southern home beyond the field of
hostilities will be open to you. Acquaint me with your decision,"
and he bowed and strode away.

Even the most prejudiced and blind are compelled at times by an
unhesitating and impartial opinion to see things somewhat in their
true light. Long-cherished purposes and habits of thought in regard
to Miss Lou, then panic, and strong emotions mixed with good and
evil, had brought the girl's relatives into their present false
relations to her. After the scene at the attempted wedding, Mrs.
Whately would have returned to safe and proper ground, hoping still
to win by kindness and coaxing. She had learned that Miss Lou was
not that kind of girl, who more or less reluctantly could be urged
into marriage and then make the best of it as a matter of course.
This fact only made her the more eager for the union, because by
means of it she hoped to secure a balance-wheel for her son. But the
blind, obstinate persistence on the part of the Barons in their
habitual attitude toward their niece, and now her son's action, had
placed them all in a most humiliating light. Even Mr. Baron, who had
always been so infallible in his autocratic ways and beliefs, knew
not how to answer the elderly major. Whately himself, in a revulsion
of feeling common to his nature, felt that his cousin had been
right, and that a miserable space for repentance was before him, not
so much for the wrong he had purposed, as for the woful unwisdom of
his tactics and their ignominious failure. His training as a soldier
led him to obey without a word.

Miss Lou was magnanimous in her victory. "Cousin Madison," she said
earnestly, "why don't you end this wicked nonsense and act like a
cousin? As such I have no ill-will toward you, but I think you and
uncle must now see I'll stop at nothing that will keep me from
becoming your wife. There's no use of trying to make me think I'm
wrong in my feelings, for I now believe every true man would side
with me. Be my cousin and friend and I will give you my hand here
and now in goodwill."

But his anger was too strong to permit any such sensible action, and
he rushed away without a word.

"Madison!" called his mother. "Oh, I'm just overwhelmed," and she
covered her face with her hands and burst into tears.

"Well," said Mr. Baron in a sort of dreary apathy, "do you and
Louise wish to go away under an escort furnished by the major?"

"No," cried Mrs. Whately, "I would accept my fate rather than favor
at his hands. If I could only explain to him more fully--yet how can
I? My son, with all his faults, is all I have to live for. I shall
stay near him while I can, for he will be reckless to-day. My heart
is just breaking with forebodings. Oh, why couldn't you, with your
gray hairs, have shown a little wisdom in helping me restrain him?"

"I reckon the restraining should have been practiced long ago,"
replied her brother irritably.

"You have practiced nothing but restraint in the case of Louise, and
what is the result?"

The girl looked at them wonderingly in their abject helplessness,
and then said, "If you are taking it for granted that I am spoiled
beyond remedy, I can't help it. I would have made no trouble if you
had not set about making me trouble without end. As soon as I can
I'll go away and take care of myself."

"Of course, Louise," said Mrs. Whately, "we're all wrong, you as
well as the rest of us. We must try to get this snarl untangled and
begin right. The idea of your going away!"

"I supposed that was the only idea," said Mrs. Baron, entering. "I,
at least, have tried to remedy our niece's perverseness by getting
her things ready."

Mrs. Whately wrung her hands in something like despair, while Miss
Lou burst into a peal of half-nervous laughter at the expression on
her uncle's face. "Well," she said, "there'll be no more trouble as
far as I am concerned unless it's of your own making. If I am
protected in my home, I shall stay; if not, I shall leave it. One
learns fast in such ordeals as I have passed through. Aunt Sarah,
your son threatened to shoot me for doing what you permitted.
Suppose I had told Major Brockton that? I made allowances for
Madison's passion, but unless he learns to control himself he will
have to vent his passion on some one else."

"She has just lost her senses," gasped Mrs. Baron.

"No, we have acted as if we had lost ours," said Mrs. Whately rising
with dignity. "I can't reason with either of you any more, for you
have made up your minds that a spade is not a spade. I shall tell my
niece that hereafter I shall treat her kindly and rationally, and
then go home," and she left husband and wife confronting each other.

"What are you going to do?" asked the wife.

"Do!" exploded the husband in desperation, "why, hump myself and
restore everything in a twinkling as it was five years ago. What
else can I do?"

Even Mrs. Baron was speechless at this admission that events had now
passed far beyond his control.




CHAPTER XX

SCOVILLE'S HOPE


Mrs. Whately found her niece on the veranda watching the proceedings
without, and she lost no time in expressing her purpose. To her
surprise, a pair of arms were around her neck instantly, and a kiss
was pressed upon her lips.

"That's my answer," said Miss Lou, who was as ready to forgive and
forget as a child. "If you say a word about going home I shall be
unhappy. See, auntie, the Yankees are retreating again as our men
advance."

The morning sun was now shining brightly and the day growing very
warm. Before them was the scene of military operations. At present,
it afforded a deeply exciting spectacle, yet oppressed with no sense
of personal danger. Scoville's little force was slowly retiring
along the ridge which the Confederates were approaching, thus
removing the theatre of actual conflict from the vicinity of the
dwelling.

Mr. Baron appeared on the veranda and soon began to yield to the
soothing influences of his pipe. It was not in his nature to make
any formal acknowledgments of error, but he felt that he had gone on
the wrong track far and long enough, and so was ready for a gradual
amelioration in his relations to his niece and sister. They had
become too absorbed in the scene before them to think of much else,
while Mrs. Baron sought composure and solace in her domestic
affairs.

At last Mrs. Whately said, "The Yankees appear to have stopped
retreating and to be increasing in numbers. Alas! I fear our men are
in great danger and that the main column of the enemy is near."

There was a sudden outbreak of cries and exclamations from the
negroes in the rear of the mansion. Zany rushed out, saying, "De
Yanks comin' by Aun' Jinkey's cabin."

She had scarcely spoken before they heard a rush of trampling steeds
and the head of a Union column swept round the house. Miss Lou saw
Scoville leading and knew that he had availed himself of his
acquaintance with the place to guide an attack upon the Confederates
in their rear. He saluted her with his sabre and smiled as he
passed, but her sympathies were with the major, now taken at such
disadvantage. At this period the troops on both sides were veterans,
and neither fought nor ran away without good reason. Major Brockton
knew as well what to do as had Scoville before him, and retreated at
a gallop with his men toward the southwest, whence his supports were
advancing. The Union attack, however, had been something of a
surprise and a number of the Confederates were cut off.

The scene and event had been one to set every nerve tingling. But a
few yards away the Union force had rushed by like a living torrent,
the ground trembling under the iron tread of the horses. Far more
impressive had been the near vision of the fierce, bronzed faces of
the troopers, their eyes gleaming like their sabres, with the
excitement of battle. Scoville won her admiration unstintedly, even
though she deprecated his purpose. His bearing was so fearless, so
jaunty even in its power, that he seemed as brave as any knight in
the old-fashioned romances she had read, yet so real and genial that
it was hard to believe he was facing death that sunny morning or
bent upon inflicting it. Looking at his young, smiling, care-free
face, one could easily imagine that he was taking part in a military
pageant; but the headlong career and flashing weapons of his men,
who deployed as they charged straight at the Confederates, dispelled
any such illusion.

The ridge began to grow black with Union men and Miss Lou soon
perceived the gleam of artillery as the guns were placed in
position. Mr. Baron, who had permitted his pipe to go out in the
excitement, groaned, "The Yanks have come in force and are forming a
line of battle yonder. If our troops come up, the fight will take
place on my land. Lord help us! What's coming next?"

Miss Lou began to receive impressions which filled her with awe.
Heretofore she had been intensely excited by what had been mere
skirmishes, but now she witnessed preparations for a battle. That
long line of dark blue on the ridge portended something more
terrible than she could imagine. The sounds of conflict died away
down the main road, the ring of axes was heard in the grove which
crowned the ridge near the mansion, and Mr. Baron groaned again.
Thin curls of smoke began to define the Union position--before noon
thousands of coffee-pots were simmering on the fires.

At last, a tall man, followed by a little group of officers and a
squadron of cavalry, rode down the ridge toward the mansion. These
troopers surrounded the house, forming one circle near and another
much further away, so that none could approach without causing
prompt alarm. The group of officers dismounted and orderlies held
their horses. As the tall man came up the veranda steps Miss Lou saw
two white stars on his shoulder. Then her uncle advanced reluctantly
and this man said, "Mr. Baron, I presume?"

"Yes, sir."

"My name is Marston, commanding officer. This is my staff. Will you
oblige us by as good a meal as can be provided hastily? I will pay
for it."

"No, sir, you cannot pay for it," replied Mr. Baron indignantly. "I
keep a house of entertainment only for my friends. At the same time
I know your request is equivalent to a command, and we will do the
best we can."

"Very well, sir. I can repay you in a way that will be satisfactory
to my mind and be more advantageous to you. Hartly, tell the officer
in command to permit no depredations. Ladies, your servant," and the
general dropped into a chair as if weary.

Some of the younger officers promptly sought to play the agreeable
to Mrs. Whately and her niece, and upon the latter all eyes rested
in undisguised admiration. Cold and shy as she had appeared, she had
not failed to note the fact. The woman was sufficiently developed
within her for this, and the quick, unanimous verdict of these
strangers and enemies in regard to herself which she read in their
eyes came with almost the force of a revelation. For the first time,
she truly became conscious of her beauty and its power. More than
ever, she exulted in her escape and freedom, thinking, "What a poor
figure is Cousin Mad beside these men whose faces are so full of
intelligence!"

Mrs. Whately was the perfection of dignified courtesy, but quickly
excused herself and niece on the plea of hastening preparations. She
was one who could not extend even enforced hospitality bereft of its
grace, and she also explained to Miss Lou, "We had much better gain
their good-will than their ill-will."

"Well, auntie, we must admit that the Yankees have not acted like
monsters yet."

The lady bit her lip, but said after a moment, "I suppose gentlemen
are much the same the world over. Thus far it has been our good-
fortune to have met with such only. There is another class, however,
from which God defend us!"

"Lieutenant Scoville admitted that himself. So there is on our side
--men like Perkins."

"No, I mean Yankee officers who have at least permitted the worst
wrongs in many parts of our unhappy land." "Well," thought Miss Lou,
as she helped Zany set the table, "after my experience I shall
believe what I see. What's more, I mean to see the world before I
die and judge of everything for myself. Now if the general on our
side, with his staff, will only come to supper, I shall get quite an
education in one day."

Mrs. Baron retired to her room and would have nothing whatever to do
with her present guests, but Aun' Suke did not need her orders now,
nor did any of her assistants.

Chunk had again returned to his haunts and had made havoc in the
poultry-yard. Now he worked like a beaver, meantime enjoining Aun'
Suke "ter sabe de plumpest chicken ob de lot fer my Boss. Marse
Scoville brung 'em all yere, you knows. Hi! but we uns had ter git
out sud'n dough dis mawnin'."

"Does you tink de Linkum men git druv off agin?"

"How you talks! Aun' Suke. Hi! Druv off! Why, de ridge des black wid
um--anuff ter eat Mad Whately en all he men alibe. Dey des ridin'
troo de kintry freein' we uns."

"Well, I hopes I kin stay free till night, anyhow," said Aun' Suke,
pausing in her work to make a dab at a little darky with her wooden
spoon sceptre. "Firs' Marse Scoville whirl in en say I free; den old
miss whirl in en say I ain'; now conies de gin'ral ob de hull lot en
I'se free agin. Wat's mo', de freer I git de harder I has ter wuk.
My haid gwine roun' lak dat ar brass rewster on de barn, wen' de
win' blow norf en souf ter oncet."

"No mattah 'bout yo' haid, Aun' Suke. Dat ain' no 'count. Hit's yo'
han's dat de gin'ral want busy."

"No mattah 'bout my haid, eh? Tek dat on yo'n den," and she cracked
Chunk's skull sharply.

"Dat's right, Aun' Suke, keep de flies away," remarked Chunk
quietly. "You git all de freedom you wants ef you does ez I sez."

"Mo'n I wants ef I've got ter min' ev'ybody, eben dem w'at's neber
growed up."

"I des step ter de gin'ral en say you hab dejections 'bout cookin'
he dinner. Den I tell 'im ter order out a char'ot ter tek you ter
glory."

"G'lang! imperdence," said Aun' Suke, resuming her duties.

"La! Aun' Suke," spoke up Zany, who had been listening for a moment,
"doan yer know Chunk de boss ob de hull bizness? He des pickin'
chickens now ter let de gen'ral res' a while. Bimeby he git on he
hoss en lead de hull Linkum army wid yo' wooden spoon."

Chunk started for her, but the fleet-footed girl was soon back in
the dining-room.

When the early dinner was almost ready Mr. Baron said to his sister:

"Surely, there's no reason why you and Louise should appear."

"Very good reason, brother. I shall make these Northern officers
feel that they have eaten salt with us and so are bound to give us
their protection. Moreover, I wish to gain every particle of
information that I can. It may be useful to our general when he
appears. Bring out your wine and brandy, for they loosen tongues."

It soon became evident, however, that General Marston and his staff
felt in no need of Dutch courage, and were too plainly aware of
their situation to confuse their minds with their host's liquor even
if they were so inclined. The general was serious, somewhat
preoccupied, but courteous, especially to Miss Lou, on whom his eyes
often rested kindly. At last he said:

"I have a little girl at home about your age and with your blue
eyes. I'd give a good deal to see her to-day."

"I think, sir, you are glad that she is not where I am to-day," Miss
Lou ventured to answer.

"Yes, that's true. I hope no harm will come to you, my child, nor
will there if we can help it. I know what claims you have upon us
and would be proud indeed if my daughter would behave as you have in
like circumstances. I have travelled the world over, Mrs. Whately,
and have never seen the equal of the unperverted American girl."

"I certainly believe that true of Southern girls, general," was the
matron's reply, although she flushed under a consciousness of all
that Scoville might have reported.

"Pardon me, madam, but you are in danger of perverting the minds of
Southern girls with prejudice, a noble kind of prejudice, I admit,
because so closely allied with what they regard as patriotism, but
narrow and narrowing nevertheless. That old flag yonder means one
people, one broad country, and all equally free under the law to
think and act."

"Do you intend to remain in this country and hold it in subjection?"
Mrs. Whately asked in smiling keenness.

"We intend to give the Southern people every chance to become loyal,
madam, and for one I rest confidently in their intelligence and
sober second thoughts. They have fought bravely for their ideas, but
will be defeated. The end is drawing near, I think."

"Well, sir," said Mr. Baron grimly, "I am sorry you are preparing
for some more bloody arguments about our very ears."

"I am also, on account of these ladies; in other respects, I am not.
By night there may be many wounded and dying men. It will be well
for them that they do not fall in a wild and desolate region like
some that we have passed through. As you say, sir, war is an
argument, a heated one at times. But a wounded man is an appeal to
all kindly humanity. You would nurse me a little, Miss Baron, if I
were brought in wounded, would you not?"

"Yes, sir, I would, because I feel what you say about a wounded man
is true."

"Oh, I know that," he replied with a very kindly smile. "I hope to
tell my little girl about you." Suddenly he became grave again and
said, "Mr. Baron, you are somewhat isolated here, and may not be so
well informed as I am. However the prospective conflict may turn, I
cannot remain in this region. Many of our wounded may be left. Do
not delude yourself, sir, nor, if you can help it, permit your
friends to be deluded by the belief, or even hope, that our forces
will not soon control this and all other parts of the land. While I
trust that humanity will lead to every effort to assuage suffering
and save life, I must also warn you that strict inquisition will
soon be made. There is nothing that we resent more bitterly than
wrongs to or neglect of such of our wounded as must be left behind."

"It would seem, sir, that you hold me responsible for evils which I
cannot prevent."

"No, sir. I only suggest that you employ your whole influence and
power to avert future evils. I am offering a word to the wise, I
trust. Ah, Scoville, you have news?"

"Yes, sir, important," said that officer, standing dusty and
begrimed at the doorway.

"Is there haste? Is your information for my ear only? I'm nearly
through."

"Plenty of time for dinner, sir. No harm can now come from hearing
at once what I have to say."

"Go ahead, then. I'd like my staff to know."

"Well, sir, having got the enemy on the run, we kept them going so
they could not mask what was behind them. There's a large force
coming up."

"As large as ours?"

"I think so. I gained an eminence from which I obtained a good view.
Major Jones told me to say that he would skirmish with the advance,
delay it, and send word from time to time."

"All right. Get some dinner, then report to me."

"Yes, sir;" and Scoville saluted and departed without a glance at
any one except his commander.

"What do you think of my scout, Miss Baron?" asked the general with
a humorous twinkle in his eyes.

"He proved himself a gentleman last evening, sir, and now I should
think he was proving a very good soldier, much too good for our
interests."

"You are mistaken about your interests. Don't you think he was
rather rude in not acknowledging your presence?"

"I don't know much about military matters, but I reckon he thought
he was on duty."

The general laughed. "Well," he remarked, "it does not seem to be
age that makes us wise so much as eyes that see and a brain back of
them. Scoville is a gentleman and a good soldier. He is also
unusually well educated and thoughtful for his years. You are right,
my dear. Pardon me, but you keep reminding me of my daughter, and I
like to think of all that's good and gentle before a battle."

"I wish I could meet her," said Miss Lou simply.

"Come and visit her after the war, then," said the general
cordially. "The hope of the country is in the young people, who are
capable of receiving new and large ideas." Having made his
acknowledgments to Mr. Baron and Mrs. Whately, he repaired to the
veranda and lighted a cigar. The staff-officers, who had tried to
make themselves agreeable on general principles, also retired.

Miss Lou's cheeks were burning with an excitement even greater than
that which the conflicts witnessed had inspired--the excitement of
listening to voices from the great unknown world. "These courteous
gentlemen," she thought, "this dignified general who invites me to
visit his daughter, are the vandals against whom I have been warned.
They have not only treated me like a lady, but have made me feel
that I was one, yet to escape them I was to become the slave of a
spoiled, passionate boy!"

Mrs. Whately guessed much that was passing in her mind, and sighed
deeply.

At the veranda steps stood Uncle Lusthah, hat in hand and heading a
delegation from the quarters. The general said, "Wait a moment,"
then despatched one of his staff to the ridge with orders. "Now, my
man."

Uncle Lusthah bowed profoundly and began, "De young Linkum ossifer
said, las' night, how you tell us mo' dis mawnin' 'bout our
freedom."

"You are free. Mr. Lincoln's proclamation makes you all free."

"Kin we uns go 'long wid you, mars'r? Folks des seem kiner deef
'bout dat ar prockermation in dese parts."

"No, my man, you can't go with us. We are marching much too rapidly
for you to keep up. Stay here where you are known. Make terms with
your master for wages or share in the crops. If it is necessary, the
people about here will probably soon again hear the proclamation
from our cannon. Mr. Baron, why don't you gain the goodwill of those
people and secure their co-operation? They will be worth more to you
as freemen, and they ARE free. I give you friendly advice. Accept
what you can't help. Adapt yourselves to the new order of things.
Any other course will be just as futile as to resolve solemnly that
you will have nothing to do with steam, but travel as they did in
Abraham's time."

Miss Lou looked at her uncle curiously to see how he would take this
advice. His coldness of manner and silence told how utterly lost
upon him it was. The general looked at him a moment, and then said
gravely, "Mr. Baron, such men as you are the enemies of your
section, not such men as I. Good-morning, sir. Good-by, my child.
Heaven bless and protect you!" With a stately bow to Mrs. Whately he
departed and was soon on the ridge again with his men.

"I wonder if Abraham and the Patriarchs would have been any more
ready for the new order of things than uncle?" Miss Lou thought as
she went to find Scoville.

"He down at Aun' Jinkey's cabin. Chunk took he dinner dar," Zany
whispered.

"He des step ter de run ter wash he han's en face," said Aun' Jinkey
a little later.

Passing some screening shrubbery, the girl saw him standing on the
spot from which he had been carried insensible by her directions so
brief a time before. "Your dinner is ready," she called.

He came to her quickly and said, "I've been trying to realize all
that has happened since I fell at your feet yonder."

"Far more has happened to me than to you," she replied. "It seems
years since then; I've seen and learned so much."

"I wish to ask you something," he said earnestly.

"That scamp, Perkins, fired on me at close range. You stood just
over him and I heard what you said. How happened it that his bullet
flew so wide of the mark?"

She began laughing as she asked, "Have you never heard that there
was luck in throwing an old shoe? I hit Perkins over the eyes with
one of mine."

"Took it off and fired it while he was trying to shoot me?"

"Yes."

He seized both her hands and asked, "What will you take for that
shoe?"

"What a Yankee you are to ask such a question! It wasn't a shoe; it
was a slipper." "Have you it on now?"

"Yes. What should you want of it?"

"I want to wear it next my heart. Which one was it? Let me see it."

"No; it's old. I haven't any other, and I shall wear it on my right
foot as long as it lasts."

"Please let me see it and take it in my hands just a moment. I may
never have a chance to ask another favor of you."

"Oh, yes, you will. You are coming to see us, and the general has
asked me to visit his daughter after the war is over. Do you think
he'll remember it?"

"The slipper, please."

"How can you ask so absurd a thing?" and a dainty foot was put out a
brief instant before him.

"Oh, you little Cinderella! I wish I was the Prince." He saw
something like a frown gathering on her face. "Don't look that way,"
he resumed, "I want to tell you something I've read. I don't
remember the words, but the gist is that a woman never forgets a man
on whom she has bestowed a great kindness. Already I have twice owed
my life to you. You can't forget me. My hope is in what you have
done for me, not what I can do for you. I can think of myself lying
dead in front of the house, I know I am standing here looking into
your true, sweet eyes. Let me look into them a moment, for I have no
sister, no mother, no one in the world that I care for like you. Do
not think I am making love. I may be dead yet before night. But
whether I live or die I want you to remember that there is one human
soul that always wishes you well for your OWN sake, that is wholly
and unselfishly devoted to your interests and happiness."

"There, I'm beginning to cry, and your dinner's getting cold. You
must stop talking so."

"Give me something to carry into battle this afternoon."

She stooped and gathered some wild violets. "There," she said.

"You could not have chosen better. Whenever I see violets hereafter
they shall be your eyes looking at me as you are looking now."

"And--well--you can remember that there is always a little friend in
the South who does care. That's a curious thought about a woman's
caring for those she has--I don't believe a woman can care for any
one and not try to do something for him. Let us just think of
ourselves as friends. It seems to me that I never want to think any
other way. Now you MUST get your dinner. You may be summoned hastily
and have no other chance to-day. After Uncle Lusthah's words last
night I'm not going to have any forebodings."

"Won't you let me call you Miss Lou once before I go?"

"Why not?"

"Well, then, Miss Lou, look in my eyes once more and remember what
you see there. I won't say a word."

She raised hers shyly to his, blushed deeply and turned away,
shaking her head. The power to divine what she saw was born with
her.

"Yes, I understand you," he said very gently, "but you can't help
it, any more than the sun's shining. Some day your heart may be cold
and sad, and the memory of what you have just seen may warm and
cheer it Miss Lou, you brave, noble little child-woman, didn't you
see that my love was your servant--that it merely gives you power
over me? Even as my wife you would be as free as I would be. Now
good-by. We part here and not before others. Chunk is yonder with my
horse. Be just as happy as you can whether we ever meet again or
not." "Then--then--if you don't come again?" she faltered.

"I shall be dead, but don't believe this too hastily."

"You've been kind," she burst out passionately, "you've treated me
with respect, as if I had a right to myself. You have saved me from
what I dreaded far worse than death. You shall not go away, perhaps
to die, without--without--without--oh, think of me only as a
grateful child whose life you've kept from being spoiled."

"I shall not go away without--what?" he asked eagerly.

"Oh, I don't know. What shall I say? My heart aches as if it would
break at the thought of anything happening to you." She dropped on
the grass and, burying her face in her hands, sobbed aloud.

He knelt beside her and sought to take one of her hands.

Suddenly she hid her face against his breast for a moment and
faltered, "Love me as a child NOW and leave me."

"You have given me my orders, little girl, and they would be obeyed
as far as you could see were I with you every day."

"Lieutenant Scoville!" shouted the distant voice of an orderly. He
hastily kissed away the tears in her eyes, exclaiming, "Never doubt
my return, if living," and was gone.

In a moment he had passed through the shrubbery. Before she had
regained self-control and followed he was speeding his horse toward
the ridge. "There, he has gone without his dinner," she said in
strong self-reproach, hastening to the cabin. Chunk, who was
stuffing a chicken and cornbread into a haversack, reassured her.
"Doan you worry, Miss Lou," he said. "Dis yere chicken gwine ter
foller 'im right slam troo eberyting till hit cotch up," and he
galloped after his new "boss" in a way to make good his words.




CHAPTER XXI

TWO STORMS


Miss Lou sank wearily on the doorstep of Aun' Jinkey's cabin where
the reader first made her acquaintance. She drew a long sigh. "Oh, I
must rest and get my breath. So much is happening!"

"You po' chile!" was the sympathetic response. "Ah well, honey, de
good Lawd watchin' ober you. I year how dat ole snake in-de-grass
Perkins git out Miss Whately's keridge en tink he gwine ter tote you
off nobody know whar. You passin' troo de Red Sea long o' us, honey.
I yeared how you say you doan wanter lebe yo' ole mammy. I ain'
cried so sence I wus a baby w'en I yeared dat. Doan you
reckermember, honey? You sot right dar en wish sump'n ter hap'n. I
'spects we bettah be keerful how we wishes fer tings. Doan you min'
de time Uncle Lusthah pray fer rain en we wus all nigh drownded?"

"I'm not sorry, mammy, things happened, for my heart's been warmed,
WARMED as never before. Oh, it's so sweet to know that one is cared
for; it is so sweet to have somebody look you in the eyes and say,
'I want you to be happy in your own way.'"

"Did Marse Scoville say dat?"

The girl nodded.

"I'se hab ter smoke on dat ar lil whiles."

Both were lost in thought for a time, Miss Lou's eyes looking
dreamily out through the pines and oaks as they had before when
vaguely longing that the stagnation of her life might cease. All had
become strangely still; not a soldier was in sight; even the birds
were quiet in the sultriness of the early afternoon. "Isn't it all a
dream?" the girl asked suddenly.

"Kin' ob wish we could wake up den, if it is. See yere, Miss Lou,
you on'y a lil chile arter all. Doan you see Marse Scoville des
tekin' a longer way roun' de bush? Wen he tell you he want you ter
be happy he mean he want you hissef!"

"Oh, yes, Aun' Jinkey, that was plain enough; but do you know how he
would take me and when?"

"Dat's des w'at I lak ter know, fer I tells you, chile, dis mar'in'
business orful serus."

"He would take me only when I went to him of my own free will and
not before. I feel just as safe with him as with you. I believe he
would do what I asked just as he minds that general of his. That's
the wonderful part of it, which almost takes away my breath. Why,
only the other day uncle and aunt were ordering me about as they
always have, and now here's a brave, educated man ready to do my
bidding. What a goose Cousin Mad was! If he had acted that way I
shouldn't have known any better I fear than to marry him. I was so
starved for a little consideration and kindness, that if he'd been
generous and made me feel that he cared for ME and not for himself
all the time, I fear I'd have just married him out of gratitude. I
would have acted like an impulsive, ignorant child, blind to
everything except that some one cared for me. But that's all past
now. My eyes have been opened and I've been compelled to think and
foresee the future. Dreary enough it would have been with him."

"What you gwine ter do, honey?"

"Stand on my rights. See how much I've learned in a few short days,
yes, even hours. I've learned above all things that my life's my
own. There were my relatives, who would reach out and take it, just
as they would a ripe fig from a tree, with just about as much
consideration for me as for the fig. Thank God! I have been shown
clearly my right to my own life. Since I have learned so much in a
few days, I shall keep my freedom and choose that which is best for
me as well as best for others."

"Now, honey, you on de right track, sho! Des you wait en lis'n. Mo'
folks dan Marse Scoville wanter talk wid you on dis mar'age
question. You on'y lil chile yit. Des you keep yosef deserved-like
en say yo' mouf ain' waterin' few enybody. Marse Scoville berry nice
gem'lin, but he yere to-day en like anuff a orful way yander
termorrer--"

"No matter where he is, Aun' Jinkey, he will carry the love I could
give to a kind brother if I had one. He knows I can do no more and
he does not ask more."

"Yes, he does, honey; he ax hit in de bes way ter git hit fum you.
He ain' de fool ter grab at hit, but he tek hit all de same."

"Well," she answered judicially, "I don't see how a girl can help it
if a man thinks more of her than she of him, but it does make all
the difference in the world whether a man tries to grab, as you say,
or waits respectfully for what should be a free gift, to be worth
anything. How strange it seems to be talking quietly of such things!
Think of what has happened, what might have happened, and what may
take place before night!"

"Well, honey, hit's a good ting ter stop tinkin' or ter tink slow
sometimes. We couldn't keep a gwine as we wus. Our haids ud whirl
right off our shol'ers. Hit's all so peaceful now, why doan you go
ter yo' room en tek a nap. Mebbe you git berry lil sleep ter-night."

"I reckon your advice is good, mammy. If you have trouble, come to
me."

As she walked through the garden and shrubbery to the mansion she
felt that she was reacting from the strong excitements of the
morning into languor and excessive weariness. The idle negroes had
partially succumbed to the heat and quiet, and were generally dozing
in the sun, even on this eventful day. Perkins, the exacting
overseer, had disappeared on the first alarm of Scoville's charge
and had not been seen since. When entering the house Zany, who
always seemed on the qui vive, told her that her aunts were in their
rooms and that Mr. Baron was in his office. Going out on the
veranda, the girl saw two or three vigilant Union videttes under a
tree. It was evident that they had chosen a point which commanded a
good view of the house, outbuildings and quarters. The ridge was
still lined with troops, but they appeared to be scattered about at
their ease on the ground. The girl's eyes drooped; she wearily
climbed to her room and was soon asleep.

Many others slept also who would sleep again that night in the
stillness of death; others who would groan through coming days and
nights in anguished wakefulness. The temporary quiet did not deceive
the resting soldiers on either side. They well knew that the active
brains of their superiors were at work. Scoville found unexpected
duty. He was given a score of men, with orders to scour the roads to
the eastward, so that, if best, his general could retire rapidly and
in assured safety toward the objective point where he was to unite
with a larger force. Instead of resting, the young man was studying
topography and enjoying the chicken which had at last caught up with
him. He knew the importance of his work and did it thoroughly.
Having chosen the road which promised best, he marked it on a map,
expecting soon to go over it again as guide. He sighed deeply as he
thought that it would lead away from the girl to whom he had devoted
his life, yet not because he owed it to her. "If we could only
remain together," he thought, "she would learn to give all that I
give. The dear little girl is just learning that she is a woman, and
is bewildered."

Major Jones, who had been skirmishing to delay the Confederate
advance, allowed his men and horses to rest when the enemy paused
for their mid-day bivouac, and so had come about a cessation of
hostilities during which both parties took breath for the coming
struggle.

Miss Lou was suddenly awakened by a jar which shook the house,
followed by a strange, unearthly sound. For an instant she was
confused, thinking night had come, so dark was her room. Springing
to her window she threw open the blinds. A black, threatening sky
met her gaze, the sunlight hidden by a dense bank of clouds, above
which towered golden-tipped thunder-heads. The appearance of the
ridge puzzled her. The cannon were there, a puff of smoke rolled
heavily from one of them; but excepting a few gunners just about the
pieces, the long line of men and horses had largely disappeared.
Down the lawn from a point not far from the house to the main street
and beyond was a line of horsemen, keeping abreast and equidistant
from each other. What did it all mean? Facing the ridge on the left
of the lawn was an extensive grove, through which the avenue wound
in and out, and the line of horsemen was approaching this. Suddenly
the very earth trembled and she saw smoke pouring upward among the
trees from a rise of ground within the grove. All now became clear
to her. While she had slept, the Confederates had come up, taken
their position and the battle was beginning. In strong excitement
she rushed down to the hall below, where she found her aunts with
pallid, frightened faces. On the veranda was Mr. Baron, looking
white indeed, but with firm, compressed lips and fiery eyes,
watching the opening conflict.

"Go in," he said sternly, "this is no place for you."

In her intense absorption she did not even hear him. From the edge
of the grove and along the avenue were now seen little puffs of
smoke, followed by the sharp crack of carbines. The long line of
Union skirmishers began to reply in like manner, but it was evident
that they found themselves too obvious marks in the open. Here and
there men fell from their saddles, and the riderless horses galloped
away. The notes of a bugle were heard above the din, and the Union
skirmish line retired rapidly to the foot of the ridge.

Miss Lou saw all this only as the eyes catch, half-involuntarily,
what is passing before them. With an awe almost overwhelming, her
attention was absorbed by a phase of war utterly unknown to her--an
artillery duel. Two Confederate batteries in the grove had opened
and defined their positions. The Union guns replied, shot for shot,
in loud explosions, with answering, deep-toned roar. Above the
detonations were heard the piercing screams of the shells as they
flew back and forth. On the ridge they burst with a sharp crack and
puff of vapor, with what effect could only be guessed; but the
missiles which shrieked into the grove gave the impression of
resistless, demoniacal power. Great limbs and even tops of trees
fell crashing after them. Blending faintly with the rending sound
which followed were screams and yells.

"Well," exclaimed the girl, "if Cousin Mad is there he at least is
brave. It seems as if my knees would give way under me."

Even as she spoke, a forked line of light burned downward athwart
the heavy rising clouds. The smoke of the battle was lurid an
instant; then came a peal which dwarfed the thunder of earthly
artillery. Strange to say, the sound was reassuring to the girl; it
was familiar. "Ah!" she cried, "the voice of heaven is louder than
this din, and heaven after all is supreme. This fiery battle will
soon be quenched and hot blood cooled."

The voice in the sky was unheeded, for entering the lawn from the
road, distant from the mansion about an eighth of a mile, was seen a
solid gray column. On it went toward the ridge at a sharp trot.
"Ah!" groaned Mr. Baron, "now comes the tug of war."

The girl screamed and moaned as she saw shells tearing their way
through this column, horses and men rolling over on the ground,
puffs of smoke which rose revealing frightful gaps; but on flowed
the dark gray torrent as if propelled by an invisible, resistless
force. Vacancies made by wounds and death were closed almost
instantly. In the strange, luminous twilight made by the approaching
storm, the impetuous advance was wonderfully distinct in the
distance, like a vivid silhouette.

As the head of the column drew near the gentle acclivity, it fairly
seemed to crumble. Grape shot was now making havoc; but for every
man and horse that fell, two apparently came on as from an
exhaustless reservoir. High above all sounds now came a yell which,
once heard, can never be forgotten, and the Confederate column
deployed at a gallop, charging the ridge. The Union skirmish line
had already retired to the right, while pouring over the ridge by
which they had been hitherto concealed, came rank after rank of men
in blue, their deeper chest shouts blending with the shriller cries
of their enemies. Charge was being met with counter charge. Cannon
were silent, for now friends and foes were too near together. Even
the clouds loomed silently, as if in suspense, over the terrific
shock of the two lines of approaching cavalry.

"Awful! awful!" moaned the girl.

"Oh! if Madison is meeting that onset!" shrieked Mrs. Whately,
beside herself with horror, yet compelled to look by a terrible
fascination.

Just as the two opposing forces dashed together a bolt of lightning
gleamed over them, turning the upraised sabres for an instant into
swords of fire. The crash of thunder followed so swiftly that it
appeared to result from the impact of the two charging lines. An
impression of annihilation was given, but so far was it from being
realized, that the slope was seen to be alive with a struggling,
seething mass, waving back and forth, at first downward, then
stationary, then gradually upward, upward, until Mr. Baron shouted,
"Hurrah! our men are carrying the ridge!"

The cry was scarcely uttered before another dark line of horsemen on
the far right was seen galloping forward toward the Confederate
flank. Again there was another vivid flash, lighting up the scene
with a lurid, momentary glare. The peal which followed created the
illusion of sounding this new charge or else to be the thunder of
the onset. It turned the fortune of the battle on the right, for the
Confederates were seen to pause, and finally to give back slowly and
stubbornly. Then the advancing rainfall began to blot the combatants
from view.

Suddenly the Union artillery opened. It seemed to the terrified
spectators on the veranda as if the shells were shrieking directly
toward them, but the iron bolts tore their way through the grove,
although much nearer the house than before. The reason soon became
apparent. On that ridge, and within the gloomy shadows of the trees,
were officers as coolly observant as if playing a game of chess.
They gave no more heed to the terrific peals of thunder than they
would have done to so many Chinese gongs. While watching the attack
upon his centre and providing against it, General Marston was also
seeking to penetrate, by means of a powerful glass, the mask of the
grove, and so detected a concentration on his left. Instantly his
guns began to shell the grove near the house, where the assaulting
force was massing. His reserves were ordered forward, and
instructions rapidly given to the colonel who was to repel the
attack; meanwhile his field-glass was glued to his eyes.

Soon he cried, "It will be their supreme effort. We must strike a
stunning blow in order to get away in safety," and he sprang on his
horse and started the charge himself.

The men, adoring their leader, followed with stern resolve and high
enthusiasm. Scoville, who had returned, reported and rested
somewhat, knew how critical was the moment. He rode close to the
general, but did not fall out when the wary commanding officer
permitted the human bolt he had launched to pass beyond him. He was
responsible for the entire force, and must do just enough and no
more. He must still keep his eyes on all parts of the field and his
brain ready to direct when the result of the charge was known. More
than the military necessity of repelling the Confederate charge
bursting from the grove occupied the mind of Scoville. It looked to
him as if the fight would take place about the very home of the girl
to whom his heart was so tender, and his impulse was to be near, to
protect and defend.

The light was fading fast; the fury of the storm, whose preliminary
blasts were shaking the dwelling, was coming as if an ally with the
galloping Union ranks and threatening the equally impetuous onset of
the Confederates. In the very van of the Southern force a vivid
flash of lightning revealed Mad Whately, with a sabre of flame. For
once he made a heroic figure. His mother saw him and shrieked
despairingly, but her voice was lost in the wild uproar of thunder,
yells and shouts of the combatants, the shock of steel and crash of
firearms. Then torrents of rain, which had approached like a black
curtain extending from heaven to earth, hid the awful scene of
conflict. It vanished like a dream, and would have seemed but a
nightmare had not the ominous sounds continued.

Mr. Baron broke the spell which had fallen upon him, dragged his
sister and niece within the door, and bolted it with difficulty
against the spray-laden gusts.




CHAPTER XXII

CHUNK'S QUEST


If there had been sufficient light the battle might have continued
in spite of the tropical downpour, but darkness became so intense
that friend and foe were alike disguised from each other. At this
crisis, Scoville's horse was shot and fell, dragging his rider down
also. A flash of lightning revealed the mishap to Mad Whately, who
secured the capture of the Union officer before he could extricate
himself.

By a sort of mutual consent the contending forces drew apart.
Prisoners had been taken on both sides, and Whately, who had badly
sprained his arm, unfitting himself for active duty, was given
charge of those secured by the Confederates.

General Marston withdrew the Union forces to the ridge again. He was
satisfied that prudence required rapid progress toward his somewhat
distant destination. True, he had severely checked his foes, but he
knew that they had reinforcements near, while he had not. He deeply
regretted Scoville's absence and possible death, but he had the map,
and the men who had been out with the scout were acquainted with the
selected road. Therefore, as soon as the violence of the storm
abated and the moon shed a faint radiance through the murky clouds,
he renewed his march as rapidly as the rain-soaked ground permitted.
Fires were lighted along the ridge to deceive the enemy, and a
rearguard left to keep them burning.

The trembling household within the mansion slowly rallied as the
sounds of battle died away. As soon as the fury of the conflict and
storm decreased, Mr. Baron lighted a candle and they looked into one
another's white faces.

Miss Lou was the first to recover some intrepidity of spirit.
"Well," she said, "we are still alive, and these torrents are
evidently stopping the fighting as they would put out fire."

"Oh, Madison, Madison!" Mrs. Whately moaned, "are YOU living, or are
you dead? If you are dead it is little to me that I am spared."

Miss Lou did not give very much thought to her cousin. In
overpowering solicitude she asked herself, "Where is he whose eyes
looked such strange, sweet truth into mine to-day? Are they
unseeing, not because it is dark, but because the light of life is
quenched?"

The brunt of the storm soon passed and was followed by a drizzling
rain and the promise of a gloomy night. As the howling wind ceased
their clamor, new blood-curdling sounds smote the girl's ears--the
cries of wounded and dying men and horses. Then the ghastly truth,
scarcely thought of in the preceding excitement, sickened her heart,
for she remembered that, scattered over the lawn and within the
grove, were mutilated, bleeding forms. They were all the more
vividly presented to her fancy because hidden by the night.

But little time elapsed before the activity of the surgeons began.
Mr. Baron was summoned and told that his piazzas and as many rooms
as possible must be occupied, and part of the wide hall fitted up
with appliances for amputations. Every suitable place in the out-
buildings was also required.

Mrs. Baron almost shrieked as she heard this, seeing at one mental
glance the dwelling which it had been her ruling passion to maintain
in immaculate order, becoming bloodstained and muddy from top to
bottom.

Mrs. Whately asked only for her son, and he soon appeared, with the
excitement of battle still in his eyes. She rushed to his arms and
sobbed on his breast.

"Come, mother," he exclaimed, "we've no time for this now. Please
get a sling for this left arm, which aches horribly--only a sprain,
but right painful all the same."

Before the agitated lady could recover herself, Miss Lou ran to her
room and returned with a scarf which answered the purpose.

"Oh, you deign to do something for me?" he said bitterly.

"Come, cousin," she replied, "since I have not lost my senses after
what's happened it's time you regained yours."

"Thank you, my dear," said his mother fervently, as she adjusted the
support for the disabled arm. "Yes, I trust that we may all regain
our senses, and, if we outlive these scenes, begin to act as if we
were sane."

"There, that will do," he said impatiently. "I must go now, for I
have important duties," and he hastened away.

Meantime General Marston had sent word through his picket line that
he would not interfere with the care of the wounded and that the
dwelling would not be fired upon if used as a hospital. He
accompanied this assurance with the offer of medical stores, coffee,
sugar and the services of two surgeons. The Confederate general
accepted the offer. The trembling negroes were routed out of their
quarters, and compelled more or less reluctantly to help bring in
the wounded. Uncle Lusthah showed no hesitancy in the humane work
and soon inspired those over whom he had influence with much of his
spirit. It had been a terribly anxious day for him and those about
him. Hope had ebbed and flowed alternately until night, when the day
which seemed to him the dawning of the millennium ended as he
imagined the world might end. Now, however, he was comforted in the
performance of good works, and he breathed words of Christian hope
into more than one dying ear that night.

Perkins, the overseer, was animated by a very different spirit. At
the first alarm of Scoville's return in the morning he had dashed
into the grove, and next concealed himself on a distant eminence
from which he could watch events. Under the cover of darkness he
returned, and experienced grim satisfaction when he discovered the
hated Union officer among the prisoners.

As Whately was making his final arrangements for the night, Perkins
touched his arm saying, "Leftenant, I'll help watch that Yank thar"
(pointing to Scoville). "They say he's ez slip'ry ez a eel."

"Do so, Perkins. We both have a heavy score to settle with him. At
daylight I'll send him where he won't fare as well as he did on this
plantation."

"Is your arm woun'ed?"

"No, only sprained, but it pains like the devil. Watch that Yank
well. I'd rather they all got away than he."

"He'll never get away alive," was the ominous reply.

As was true after the first skirmish recorded in this history, Mrs.
Whately now again appeared to the best advantage. Relieved from
overwhelming anxiety in regard to her son, her heart overflowed with
pity for the injured. From the outer darkness, limp, helpless forms,
in bloodstained garments, were borne in. Groans and half-stifled
cries began to resound through the house. Even Mrs. Baron forgot all
else now but the pressing necessity of relieving pain and saving
life, but she had eyes only for those who wore the gray. Mrs.
Whately, on the contrary, made no distinction, and many a poor
fellow, in blue as well as gray, blessed her as she aided the
surgeons, two of whom were from the Union lines. Miss Lou remained
chiefly in her own room and busied herself preparing bandages,
sparing not her own rather scanty store of underclothing in the
task.

Mr. Baron was in the dining-room, dispensing wines and liquors to
the officers who were coming and going. The Confederate general had
made the wide hearth, on which roared an ample fire, his
headquarters for the time, and was turning first one side then the
other toward the blaze, in order to dry his uniform. Poor Aun' Suke
had been threatened into renewed activity, and with many colored
assistants had begun a stewing, baking and frying which promised to
be interminable. Chickens, pigs and cattle had been killed wherever
found, for hungry soldiers after a battle and in darkness ask no
questions on either side. Mr. Baron knew he was being ruined, but
since it was in behalf of his friends, he maintained remarkable
fortitude, while his wife, with her thin, white, set face, honored
every requisition.

Some of the negroes, sighing for what seemed vanishing freedom,
sought to reach the Union force, but were stopped at the picket line
by which General Marston masked his retirement from the field. The
majority of the slaves, however, were kept at work indoors and out,
under the eyes of the Confederates, who quickly showed themselves to
be savage toward any disposition to shirk orders.

There was one who would have received short shrift if hands could
have been laid upon him--Chunk. None knew this better than he, yet
he was as fearless as he was shrewd. Scoville had already won from
him unlimited devotion--bought him, body and soul, with kindness and
freedom. When he found his new master had not returned from the
final charge, Chunk questioned one and another until he learned that
Scoville had been seen to go down and then disappear in the gloom.
Whether he had been killed or captured, no one knew, but Chunk
resolved to find out before morning at all risks. Yet in the
darkness and rain he felt much confidence in his ability to elude
danger, for he knew every inch of the ground and of numerous places
for concealment.

He set about his task in the most matter-of-fact way, resolving to
begin operations with a good supper. At this early stage Aun' Jinkey
and her cabin were both forgotten, and the poor old woman was half
dead from terror. When Chunk tapped at the one window, she feared
the spooks of dead soldiers had already begun their persecutions.
Never was there a more welcome and reassuring sound than the
impatient voice of her grandson, and she soon so rallied as to get
him something to eat.

"I darsn't come in," he said. "I got ter be whar I kin run en hide.
Now granny, lis'n wid all yo' ears. Marse Scoville killed, woun'ed
or took. I'se gwine ter fin' out which. Wen dey gits mo' settle down
lak anuff dey be lookin' fer me yere, en I kyant come yere no mo',
but I kin git ter Miss Lou's winder ef she hab no light in her room.
I safest whar dey ain' lookin' fer me. Tell her ter put no light
sho! Mebbe she hafter hep me git Marse Scoville off, ef he took en
ef he woun'ed she de one ter 'tect en keer fer 'im. Dat ar Perkins
kill 'im sho, ef he git de charnce. Now ef you years me toot twice
lak a squinch-owl, you knows dat you got ter go en tell Miss Lou dat
I need her hep en dat I gwine ter creep 'long de pazzer roof ter her
winder. Ef I doan toot you keeps quiet till you sees me agin," and
he disappeared.

"Who'd a thunk dat ar boy had sech a haid!" ejaculated Aun' Jinkey,
lighting her pipe. Deep as would now be her solicitude and great as
her fears, her grandson's appearance and words had dispelled the
spook-phase of her tribulations.

Chunk could run on all fours as easily as in an upright position,
and he made his way rapidly through the darkness. His first aim was
to get his eye on Perkins and Mad Whately, from whom he felt that he
and Scoville had the most to fear. He was now armed with a knife and
short club, as well as a revolver, and was determined to use them
rather than be captured. Skulking, creeping and hiding in deep
shadow, he at last saw Perkins issuing from his house, carrying his
lantern. Following, he distinctly observed the brief interview
between the overseer and Whately, and guessed correctly that
Scoville was among the prisoners. He was soon able so to shift his
position as to satisfy himself on this point, and also to note that
Perkins, from his movements, would be one of the guard. By the
gleams of the lantern Chunk also saw that Scoville appeared to be
watching the overseer as if suspecting treachery. "I watch 'im too,"
the negro soliloquized. "Ef he play eny debil trick he hissef gwine
ter de debil sud'n."

Scoville was indeed anxious about his position, for while he
believed that Whately was scarcely capable of transcending the
usages of war, he knew well that opportunity only limited the
malignity of Perkins. He therefore rarely took his eyes from this
personal enemy.

For his own sake and that of the guards, Perkins aided in building a
fire, for in the continued rain all were chilled. As Chunk saw the
leaping flames and the lantern so placed that its rays fell on
Scoville, he was almost in despair of any chance for rescue, but
believed that his best course was to watch for some change which
promised better. He remembered how Scoville had employed the
hootings of the screech-owl as a signal, and resolved by the same
means to prepare the prisoner for co-operation with any effort in
his behalf. Therefore he hooted softly and was glad to see from
Scoville's alert yet wary manner that he had recognized the signal.

So intent was Chunk in watching his master that he did not hear the
steps of a bewildered Confederate who stumbled over him and fell
headlong with a volley of oaths. The negro employed woful strategy
to mislead the soldier, for he grunted like a pig, thus awakening
hopes of more fried pork. The result was immediate pursuit by all
within hearing, and Chunk with difficulty escaped by the aid of
darkness and his complete familiarity with the place. When at last
he found himself secure he panted, "Mout ez well be took fer Chunk
ez a hog. Stand des ez good a charnce. Won't try dat ar game agin."

He was now sorely puzzled to know what to do, and his nerves were
somewhat shaken by his narrow escape. At last he resolved to send
his granny to Miss Lou and consult with the girl. Accordingly, he
stole into the shrubbery of the garden and hooted twice, rightly
thinking that Scoville could hear the signal also and believe that
something might be attempted in his behalf. Cowering under a bush,
he soon observed Aun' Jinkey tottering toward the house, muttering,
"Good Lawd, hep us!" as she went.

As the excitement of battle and exultation over the capture of
Scoville subsided in Whately's mind he became excessively weary and
his exhausted frame suffered from the chill and wetness of the
night. He had sought to keep up by liberal potations in his uncle's
dining-room, but was resolved to get a night's sleep if possible. He
had urgently charged the sergeant of the guard over the prisoners to
be vigilant. When Perkins offered to share in this watch Whately,
understanding the vindictive motive, felt that he need give himself
no further anxiety. He next sought his mother and obtained a little
food which the lady had brought to her room.

"Where is Cousin Lou?" the young man asked.

"She is in her own room, and with Zany's help making bandages. I
would advise you not to see her again to-night. You are greatly
wearied."

"Little wonder, after riding nearly all last night, and the fighting
to-day."

"Yes, I know, and have thought of all nearly every moment. I am only
too thankful that you have survived. You have gone to the limit of
human endurance and must sleep. The less you and Louise say to each
other for a short time the better. After you have both grown calmer
and have had a chance to think you will see things in a different
light."

"Mother, do you think I mean to be thwarted by that girl? I would
marry her now from pure pride--for the sake of humbling her and
teaching her that she made the mistake of her life in so crossing my
will and in subjecting me to the mortification I endured this
morning."

"Madison! actuated by such motives, you'll never win her! If you
will closely follow my advice I believe you can succeed. I must tell
you plainly that if you join with brother and his wife in their
tactics it will always end much as it did this morning."

"Well, anyhow, I have that cursed Yankee cub that she went walking
with in my power."

"What! Lieutenant Scoville?"

"Yes; he's a prisoner and Perkins is helping watch him."

"Then I implore you not to let Louise know it. She saw that this
Scoville might have killed you. She is merely friendly toward him
because, instead of treating us rudely, as she was led to believe he
would, he was very polite and considerate when we were in his power.
That wretch Perkins tried to shoot him to-day and probably would
have succeeded but for Louise," and she narrated the circumstances.

Her son frowned only the darker from jealousy and anger.

"Oh, Madison! why won't you see things as they are?" his mother
resumed. "If you had treated this Yankee officer with kindness and
thanked him for his leniency toward us, you would have taken a long
step in her favor. If you were trying to make her hate you, how
could you set about it more skilfully?"

"Mother," he replied doggedly, "if Lou had married me, even if she
had yielded reluctantly, I would have been her slave; but she has
defied me, humiliated and scoffed at me, and I shall never whine and
fawn for her favor again. I don't believe it would be of any use. If
I should change my tactics she would only despise and laugh at me.
What's more, my very nature revolts at such a change. I can't and
won't make it. She shall learn to fear me. Women marry for fear as
well as love. This Scoville gives me a chance to teach her the first
lesson. He shall be sent by daylight to a Southern prison and that
will be the last of him. Lou shall learn, as all will find out, that
it's poor policy to thwart me. That major who interfered so
impudently in our affairs is dead."

"Oh, Madison!"

"You needn't look so. I had nothing to do with it. There were plenty
of Yankee bullets flying to-day. All I mean to say is that it will
prove serious for any one to cross my path. Fate is on the side of a
man who WILL have his own way, and Lou will discover this fact
sooner or later."

Poor Mrs. Whately was compelled to rate these vaporings at their
true worth, seeing that between wine, anger and long-indulged
arrogance, he was in a melodramatic mood and beyond reason: so she
only said soothingly, "Please never let Louise know that I was aware
of Scoville's captivity. After you have rested and have had time to
think you will see things differently. I warn you however against
Perkins," she added solemnly. "If you identify yourself with him in
any way you may involve yourself and all of us in ruin. Now come, I
will make a bed for you at the end of the hall near my room, and you
had better sleep while you can."

He readily acquiesced, for even his lurid schemes for the future
could keep him awake no longer. In a few moments he was sleeping
soundly on a mattress, wrapped in a blanket. His uniform was hung on
the back of a chair near him to dry.




CHAPTER XXIII

A BOLD SCHEME


Aun' Jinkey gained Miss Lou's room in safety, but panting so from
fright and exhaustion as to be for a few moments utterly incapable
of speech. The girl divined that something serious was to be told.
To her questioning look, the old mammy nodded, glancing meantime at
Zany as much as to say, "We should be alone." This quick-witted
negress, consumed with curiosity about Chunk, and some deeper
interest, resolved not to be sent away.

"Why you look dat away at Miss Lou, Aun' Jinkey?" Zany asked
indignantly. "Time you knowed dat Miss Lou trus' me en I ain' doin'
not'n ter loss dat trus'. She know bettah'n you dat ef dars eny ting
ter be done I de one ter he'p."

"We can trust Zany," whispered Miss Lou, who had become very pale.
"You have some news about Lieutenant Scoville?"

"Well, on'y dis, honey, Chunk lookin' fer 'im. Marse Scoville didn't
come back fum dat las' fight, he say, en he say ter me dat ef he
toot twiced lak a squinch-owl dat mean I go ter you, fer he need yo'
he'p. He des done tooted," and Aun' Jinkey repeated all of her
grandson's words as far as she could remember them.

Miss Lou thought a few moments and her face grew very resolute.
"Aun' Jinkey," she said, "tell Chunk I will do as he wishes, but he
must act carefully and not too hastily. Cousin Mad is already
asleep. One after another will follow his example, and fewer will be
around by and by. We must take no risks that can be helped. The fact
that he wishes to see me in this secret way is pretty good proof
that the lieutenant is a prisoner. If he were wounded or--or--" but
a rush of tears suggested the word she could not utter. "You had
better go now, and let no one frighten you into telling anything.
Appeal to me if threatened."

As the old woman was stealing out she met Mrs. Baron, who asked
sharply, "What do you want?"

"Does you tink I doan wanter know dat chile is safe?"

"If you wish to be safe yourself, see to it you have nothing more to
do with that grandson of yours. He has sinned away HIS day of grace,
and no mercy will be shown to those who have anything more to do
with him."

"I years you, misus," said Aun' Jinkey, stolidly continuing on her
way.

Miss Lou, who had followed her mammy to the head of the stairs,
heard this warning and returned to her room with a stern look. She
deemed it best to say nothing and give the impression that she could
not endure the sights and sounds below stairs.

Mrs. Whately entered soon afterward and did her best to propitiate
her niece. Miss Lou pretended to be very weary and was glad to see
that her aunt actually was so. At last the matron said, "Well, I'll
go down once more and see if there is anything which I must attend
to; then I shall try to rest a little while Madison is sleeping.
Such experiences as we've had wear one out fast. I advise you, too,
my dear, to sleep when you can."

"Yes, aunt, I suppose you are right. So much may happen to-morrow."

Mrs. Whately soon retired, and Miss Lou, listening at her door a
moment, knew that she was sleeping. Then she returned to her own
room, blew out her candle, opened the window softly and waited for
Chunk. "Zany," she said, "sit in the dark there, and do not speak or
let Chunk know you are here, unless permitted."

Along the most secluded end of the house the piazza had not been
built, a small lean-to extension taking its place. An apartment was
thus formed which could be entered from without as well as from
within the dwelling, and here Mr. Baron maintained what was at once
a business office and a study. This extension was but one story
high, with a roof which sloped to rising ground beyond. Chunk knew
that he could easily gain this roof, and from it that of the front
piazza also. When returning through the garden Aun' Jinkey had
whispered to him not to make the attempt to see Miss Lou until her
light was extinguished. Then she added the words that Mrs. Baron had
just spoken to her and hastened tremblingly to her own chimney-
corner. Chunk made a wide circle, approaching the house again at an
angle which would give him a view of Miss Lou's window, and watching
till it darkened. From the garden he had carried a small, light
ladder which he had used when pruning fruit-trees. He stole near the
extension warily, the shrubbery growing in that vicinity favoring
his effort, and the heavy pall of clouds obscuring almost entirely
the mild radiance of the moon.

Satisfied by a careful reconnoissance that no one was watching or
stirring at that end of the house, with the stealth and agility of a
cat he went from roof to roof and crawled to Miss Lou's window.

"Chunk," she whispered.

"Dat's me, mistis."

"You're a good, brave fellow. Now tell me quick--don't waste a word
--where is Lieutenant Scoville?"

"He's wid de pris'ners, en Perkins en sogers watchin' 'im."

"Why is Perkins watching him?" the girl asked in deep alarm.

"Dunno, Miss Lou, 'cept on 'count ob he gradge. Mad Whately en he
talk knowin'--like en den Perkins tek he lantern en jine de gyard.
W'en I las' see 'im he watchin' Marse Scoville close."

"Lieutenant Scoville wasn't hurt, was he?"

"Reck'n not. Didn't 'pear dat away, but he look at Perkins ez ef he
feared on 'im. Ef I had ony Perkins ter deal wid I gib Marse
Scoville he freedom in pay fer mine, but dar's sogers all aroun' en
dey stick me quick ez dey would a pig."

"Oh, Chunk! what shall we do? I could have no influence over the
guard or Perkins either. Oh! OH! Mad Whately, you'll end by making
me loathe you. To think of employing that treacherous wretch!"

"Dat's des w'at I feard on, Miss Lou. Reck'n yo' cousin en Perkins
projeckin' some debil trick."

"You say my cousin has charge of the prisoners?"

"Yassum. I yeared 'im gib de orders 'bout um, but I too fur off ter
year w'at he say."

"Can you think of any way, Chunk?"

"Ef de gyard ony all get ter sleep, I'd tek de risk ob tacklin'
Perkins, but dere's too many en I des stumped ter know w'at ter do."

"Hi! Miss Lou," whispered listening Zany, "I kin tell you w'at ter
do."

"Doan you pay no 'tention ter her foolishness," said Chunk coolly.
"Dis life-en-death business, en Zany outgrowed her sense."

"En you ain' growed into your'n," responded Zany. "Ef you has, why
doan you tell Miss Lou 'bout tings dat kin be done 'stead o tings
dat kyant be?"

"Well, Zany, what have you to say? Quick, and speak lower."

"Miss Lou, dar's Mad Whately's coat en pants hangin' out in de hall.
You put dem on, en tie yo' arm up in a sling. In de night who say
you ain Marse Whately?"

"Oh, Zany!" exclaimed the girl, appalled at first by the boldness of
the scheme.

"Well, dar now," whispered Chunk, "who'd tink dat ar gyurl got so
much gumption! See yere, Miss Lou, dat de way ef you got de spunk
ter do it. Ole Perkins tink you Mad Whately comin' ter play de debil
trick en let you tek Marse Scoville way quietly, en de gyard won'
'fere wid you nudder, kase dey un'er yo' cousin. You kin go en lead
Marse Scoville right off, en if Perkins follow I settle 'im."

"Do you think there's no other way?" Miss Lou asked, with 'quick,
agitated breathing.

"Fo' de Lawd, I doesn't."

"I don't know what they would do to me in the morning, I'd be sent
away. Oh, you can't realize the risk I would take."

"'Spects not, mistis. I ony know Marse Scoville tek mo' resk fer you
ef he could."

Chunk had touched the right chord now. She set her white face like
flint in the darkness, and said, "I'll make the attempt, no matter
what happens to me."

"Den I des sneak out en get he coat en trousers," Zany whispered.

"Yes."

"En, Miss Lou, you des come out de house dis away wid me en Zany,"
Chunk added. "Less charnce er bein' stopped. We kin go troo de
gyardin end de bushes till we mos' whar we kin see Marse Scoville.
Mebbe hit berry much plainer w'at ter do arter we get out en look
roun'. I hab a ladder yere en you git down mighty easy."

"Yes, that's the best way. I wish to take no risks of being seen
till after I make my attempt."

Zany reconnoitred the hall. No one was in sight. Even Mrs. Baron,
wearied out, had retired, and Mr. Baron had resolved to spend the
night in the dining-room, partly out of courtesy to the Confederate
general and partly to be ready for any emergency. In the hall and on
the front and rear piazzas were alert sentinels who would have
observed and reported any unusual proceeding--therefore Chunk's plan
was the only feasible one. In the darkness Zany helped Miss Lou don
her cousin's uniform and slouched hat which, limp from the rain,
fell over her face. She was not so very much shorter than he as to
make the fit a bad one when seen in the partial light. The trousers
had to be turned up, but that would be expected on account of the
mud. Her plumpness filled out the coat very comfortably, and her arm
in a sling made the disguise almost perfect.

While Miss Lou was dressing Chunk again reconnoitred and reported
the coast clear. It was now about midnight and all were sleeping
except those whom imperative duty or pain kept awake. Chunk led the
way, steadying Miss Lou with a firm hand, and Zany followed.

"Now, Miss Lou," Chunk whispered, "I tek you de s'curest way, so you
git back en' nobody see you ef I git cotched."

They made a circuit to avoid the kitchen and climbed over a low
fence into the garden. On the further side, opening on the driveway
to the stables, was a gate. Before reaching this, Miss Lou said to
Zany, "You stay here. If there's an alarm, go to the kitchen. You
must not be known to have had anything to do with this affair. It
might cost you your life."

"Ve'y well, Miss Lou."

The young girl and her guide paused at the gate some moments, for
attendants upon the wounded, with whom the outbuildings were filled,
were passing to and fro. At last they stole across the roadway to
the shelter of a clump of trees beyond. From this point they could
see the group of prisoners about the fire, which was in a rather
dying condition. It was evident that some of the guards had
succumbed to weariness, but Perkins still watched with the
tirelessness of hate, his lantern so placed that its rays fell on
Scoville, who could not make a movement without being observed.
Indeed, it was clear that he, too, was almost overcome with sleep,
for he occasionally nodded and swayed before the fire.

"Now, Miss Lou," whispered Chunk, "I gwine ter wake Marse Scoville
up by tootin' lak a squinch-owl," and he did so briefly.

The Union officer was much too wary to start and look around, but he
gradually proved that he was alert. Close scrutiny of Perkins showed
that the signal had no significance to him.

"Miss Lou," resumed Chunk, "dere's not'n fer you but ter walk right
down de road ter de fire, berry quiet like, put yo' finger on yo'
lips ter Perkins so he tink you 'bout ter play de debil trick, en'
den lead Marse Scoville into de gyardin. Ef Perkins foller, I foller
'im. My hoss down by de run en we git off dat away."

The girl drew a long breath and started. Now that she was in the
crisis of the emergency a certain innate spirit and courage
sustained her. Knowing her cousin so well, she could assume his very
gait and manner, while her arm, carried in a sling, perfected a
disguise which only broad light would have rendered useless. Her
visit caused no surprise to the sergeant of the guard, on whom at
first she kept her eyes. He merely saluted and thought Lieutenant
Whately was attentive to his duty. Perkins was not surprised either,
yet a little perplexed. As it had been supposed and hoped, the
thought rose instantly in his revengeful nature that the Confederate
officer had some design on Scoville. The latter watched the form
recognized by the others as that of Whately with the closest
scrutiny, and an immense throb of hope stirred his heart. Could it
be possible?

Miss Lou looked over the sleeping prisoners for a moment and then,
as if satisfied, stepped quite near to Perkins, guarding meantime
not to permit the rays of the lamp to fall on her face. "Leave him
to me," she whispered, with a nod toward Scoville, and she put her
finger to her lips. She next touched Scoville on the shoulder and
simply said, "Come."

He rose as if reluctantly and followed.

Perkins did not suspect the ruse, the disguise was so good and
Whately's right to appear so unquestioned; but he felt defrauded in
having no part in the vengeance which he supposed would be wreaked
on Scoville. After a moment or two of thought, he obeyed the impulse
to follow, hoping to see what Whately intended to do, and if
circumstances warranted, to be near to help. "If Mad Whately's high-
strung notions lead 'im to fight a duel," he thought, "en the Yank
comes off best, I'll settle my own score. Whately was ter'ble
stirred up 'bout the Yank's talkin' ter his cousin, en would like
ter kill 'im, but his officer-notions won't let 'im kill the blue-
coated cuss ez I would. Ef thar's ter be a fight, I won't be fur
off," and he stole after the two figures disappearing in the gloom.

But Nemesis was on his steps. Chunk had shaken with silent laughter
as he saw that their scheme was working well, but he never took his
eyes from Perkins. Crouching, crawling, he closed on the overseer's
track, and when the man passed into the garden, the negro followed.

As Scoville accompanied Miss Lou, he soon ventured to breathe her
name in a tentative way. "Hush!" she whispered. Then his heart beat
thick with overpowering emotions of gratitude, admiration and love.
Entering the garden, she led the way quickly toward Aun' Jinkey's
cabin, and at a point where the shrubbery was thickest about the
path, turned suddenly, put her finger on her lips, and breathed,
"Listen."

They distinctly heard steps following and drew back into the bushes.
Then came the thud of a blow and the heavy fall of a man. The blow
was so severe that not even a groan followed, and for a moment all
was still. Then Chunk, like a shadow, glided forward and would have
passed had not Miss Lou whispered his name.

"Foller me," he answered breathlessly.

This they did, but Scoville secured the girl's hand and carried it
to his lips. The negro led the way beyond the garden to the run,
where he had left his horse. "Lis'n onct mo'," he said. "Dat was
Perkins I laid out."

All was still. "Chunk," said Scoville, "go back on your tracks a
little and see if there are any signs of alarm."

Obedience was very prompt, for Chunk muttered as he ran, "My heart
des bustin' 'bout Zany. Got ter lebe her now, sho! Ter thunk ob her
showin' so much gumption!"

Scoville again took Miss Lou's hands. "Oh, hasten, hasten," she said
breathlessly, "you are in great danger here."

"I can scarcely speak to you," he replied, "my heart is so full. You
brave, noble little girl! How HAVE you accomplished this?"

Incoherently she told him and again urged, "Oh, DO go at once, for
my sake as well as yours, or all may be in vain. I can't breathe
until I've put back my cousin's uniform."

Now that the supreme crisis of danger had apparently passed for the
moment, she was trembling violently in nervous reaction, and could
speak only in little gasps. Every instant a deeper appreciation of
the immense effort she had made in his behalf overwhelmed Scoville,
and for a moment he lost all self-control. Snatching her to his
breast he whispered, "Oh, you little hero, you little saint, I wish
I could shield you with my life. I don't believe you half realize
what you have done for me, bravest, truest, sweetest--"

"Oh, hush," she pleaded, extricating herself from his arms. "Go,
PLEASE go at once, for my sake."

"Yes, my dear girl, I must go soon, more for your sake than mine.
With this horse and this start, I am safe. Oh, it's terribly hard to
leave you." Then he hooted low to recall Chunk. "Don't tremble so.
After all, it's best to wait a few moments to make sure there is no
pursuit. Thank God, after what you have done for me to-night you
will never forget me, you will always care for me. Again I see as
never before how true it is that a woman cares most for him whom
most she has tried to help. You have risked much for me; I give all
to you. Only death can keep me from seeking you and living for you
always. Remember, I ask nothing which your own heart does not
prompt, but you cannot help my giving undying loyalty. See, I just
kneel to you in homage and gratitude. There never was such a gem of
a girl."

Chunk now appealed, recalled from a more affectionate parting than
Zany had ever vouchsafed before, and he began to unhitch the horse.

"Chunk must go back with you," Scoville began.

"Oh, no," she whispered, "I cannot breathe till you both are well
away. Chunk would be killed instantly--"

"No matter; he has become a soldier like myself and must take all
risks. I will not leave this spot--I will go with you myself, rather
than leave you here."

"Why, ob co'se I 'spects ter go back wid you, Miss Lou. You tink I
gwine ter lebe you yere en dat ladder dar ter tell de hull business?
Come wid me."

"Well, then, good-by, and God keep you, Lieutenant. I shall hope to
see you again."

"To see YOU again will be my dearest hope. Dear, DEAR little Lou!
how brave you've been! You've won a soldier's whole heart forever.
How can I say good-by? You can't dream how dear you have become to
me. Please, one kiss before we separate."

Yielding to an impulse then not understood, she put her arm swiftly
about his neck, kissed him, and turned so rapidly toward her home
that Chunk could scarcely keep pace with her.

They reached the ladder unobserved, and from the roof of the
extension the way to Miss Lou's room was easy. Chunk went to a point
from which he could watch the girl enter her apartment. Putting the
ladder back into the garden, he rejoined Scoville, and together they
made their way in the direction of the retiring Union column.
Scoville never wearied in questioning his attendant about every
detail of Miss Lou's action, while conjectures as to her experiences
often robbed him of sleep. Never was a man more completely won and
held in love's sweet thraldom.

On regaining her room, Miss Lou hastily threw off her cousin's
clothes and resumed her own apparel. Then she softly and cautiously
opened her door. With the exception of sounds in the lower hall, all
was still, and she slipped out in her stocking-feet, replaced the
uniform on the chairs, stole back and bolted her door. For half an
hour she sat panting on her chair, listening to every sound. Only
the groans of the wounded smote her ears. "Oh, thank God! I do not
hear HIS voice among them," she half sobbed, in pity for those who
WERE suffering. "Well, I can best forget my anxiety about him by
doing something for these poor men. Oh, how strange and true his
words are! He touched my heart at first by just being helpless when
he fell by the run, and everything I do for him seems to make him
dearer. It cannot be that I shall never see him again. Oh, when
shall I forget the way he took me in his arms? It seemed as if he
gave me his whole heart then and couldn't help himself."

There was a near mutter of thunder. In her deep preoccupation, she
had not noticed the coming of another shower. It proved a short but
heavy one, and she exulted. "The rain will obliterate all our
tracks."

Calmer thought led to the conclusion that the affair would be very
serious for her if her part in it was discovered. She had acted
almost without thought, without realizing the risks she had
incurred, and now the possible consequences so appalled her that she
resolved to be on her guard in every possible way. "He knew, he
understood the risk I took better than I did then, better than I do
now, perhaps," she breathed softly. "That's so fine in him--that way
he has of making me feel that one's WORTH being cared for." She was
far too excited and anxious to sleep. Wrapping herself up, she
watched at her window. Soon the stars began to twinkle beneath the
clouds in the west, showing that this last shower was a clearing
one, and that the radiance of the moon might soon be undimmed. The
fires along the ridge which, as she believed, still defined the
Union position, were burning low. Suddenly flashes and reports of
firearms in that direction startled her.




CHAPTER XXIV

A HOME A HOSPITAL


The sudden night alarm caused by firing on the ridge can be easily
explained. Wearied as were the Confederate general and his men, and
severe as had been the repulse of their first attack, both were
undaunted and, after rest and refreshment, eager to bring the battle
to a more decisive issue, and it was determined to learn long before
morning whether the Federal force was on the ridge or not. During
the last shower a reconnoitring party was sent out stealthily, a few
of the rear-guard captured, from whom it was learned that the Union
column had been on the march for hours.

Mrs. Whately was wakened and helped her disabled son to dress in
haste. Little did Miss Lou know about the term ALIBI, but she had
the shrewdness to show herself and to appear much alarmed. Opening
her door, she gave a glimpse of herself in night attire with her
long hair hanging over her shoulders, and cried, "Oh, oh, are we
attacked?"

"If we are you may have sad reason to wish that you had obeyed me
this morning," replied her cousin sternly. "You no more understand
your folly and danger than a child. Now I'm compelled to look after
my prisoners first," and he rushed away.

"Come in my room, Louise," said her aunt. "Whatever happens, it is
best that we should be together." The girl was so agitated, fearing
that in some way her adventures might be discovered, that she had no
occasion to feign alarm. Mrs. Whately sought only to soothe and
quiet, also to extenuate her son's words. "I don't suppose we truly
realize yet, as Madison does, what war means," she concluded.

Mr. Baron soon sent up word that there was no special occasion for
further fears, and that the ladies might sleep, if they could, until
morning.

But there was no more sleep for Mad Whately. As soon as he reached
the spot where the prisoners had been kept he asked sharply, "Where
is that Yankee officer and Perkins?"

The man then on duty answered, "The sergeant I relieved said that
you took 'im away, sir, and that the man named Perkins followed
you."

"There's been treachery here," cried Whately in a rage. "Bring that
sergeant here."

The weary man was half dragged in his sleep to the officer and there
thoroughly awakened by a volley of oaths. He stolidly told his
story, concluding, "I cud a sworn it was you, and the overseer
followed less'n three minutes after you left."

"'I left'--curse you--don't say that again. You've been fooled or
was asleep and neglected your duty."

"Well, then, sir," was the dogged reply, "find that overseer who was
a watchin' the Yank like a cat. Ast 'im; ast my men ef I wasn't
awake en ef I didn't s'lute you soon ez you come. There's the
overseer's lantern burnin' yet jis whar he left it."

At this moment Perkins came staggering toward the fire, with both
hands to his head as if trying to hold it together. His clothes were
muddy, his face was ghastly and he stared at Whately as if the
officer was also a part of a horrid dream.

Whately seized him roughly by the arm and said sternly, "Speak, man.
What does all this mean? Where's the Yank?"

"For God's sake, quit," cried Perkins. "I'm nigh dead now. You've
got me in anuff trouble for one night."

"Trouble--you! What's your trouble to mine? I'm responsible for
these prisoners. Now where's that Yank? Quick, or you WILL have
trouble."

"I ain't seen 'im since yer took 'im away--YOU. I ain't one of your
understrappers. Ez I wuz follerin' yer some one knocked me down from
behind and nigh onto killed me. I jes gittin' my senses back."

Although so enraged, Whately knew that as a soldier he must curb his
passion, report the facts immediately and see what could be done.
His superior officer was called, all the parties questioned closely,
the garden and Aun' Jinkey's cabin searched, but no new facts
discovered. The old negress was savagely threatened, but she only
replied, "I dunno, I dunno not'n. Wat got inter you ter tink an ole
tottery, skeered ooman lak me gwine out in de dark en knock Marse
Perkins on de haid?"

"Where's your grandson, Chunk?" Whately demanded fiercely.

"He des light out wid de Yankees dis eb'nin'."

The conclusion guessed at was that Scoville had been rescued by his
own men, who were known to be daring scouts. In the darkness and
confusion after the battle, it was thought they had mingled with the
Confederates, learned the situation of their leader and the general
appearance of Whately with his disabled arm. Arrayed in the Southern
uniform, of which scouts always had a supply, and favored by the
sleepy condition of the guard, one of the scouts had played the
trick which Whately rued so bitterly. Others, on the watch, had
struck down Perkins and carried Scoville off in safety. No other
theory they could hit upon explained so well what was known. The
tricked sergeant was placed under arrest, and Whately, who had gone
to sleep with such high and mighty notions of his prowess and
friendly league with fate, found himself in partial disgrace and in
the depths of mortification. He kept guard over his prisoners in
person the remainder of the night and again had opportunity to
repent at leisure. He mentally cursed himself as a fool, for now he
remembered his mother's words. If he had shown leniency to Scoville,
and brought him into the house, he might have kept the prisoner and
won the goodwill of his cousin. Now, she would probably hear the
humiliating facts and be less inclined either to fear or favor him.
It was well that no suspicion on his part or that of others had
fallen on her, for she was not one who could face coolly a severe
cross-questioning.

Perkins skulked off to his house, assuaged his aching head with cold
water and his wounded spirit with whiskey. As he tried to think the
matter over a vague suspicion of the truth began to enter his
confused brain. The little slipper with which he had been hit over
the eyes in the morning now became a broad hint. He knew well,
however, that it would be dangerous to make any charges, or even
suggestions, unless he had ample proof.

When all became quiet again Miss Lou, in spite of deep anxieties,
was overcome by extreme weariness and slept until, in a dream, she
heard Scoville moaning and sighing in the extremity of physical
pain. Starting up, she saw it was broad day. She passed her hand
confusedly over her brow and tried to recall what had occurred, to
understand the sounds which had suggested her dream. Then in a
flash, the strange swirl of events in which she was involved
presented itself and she knew she had wakened to other experiences
beyond even her imagination. The groans of wounded men brought
pitiful tears to her eyes and steadied her nerves by banishing the
thought of self. Whatever might befall her, so much worse was the
fate of others that already she was passing into the solemnity of
spirit inspired by the presence of mortal pain and death. She drew
the curtains of her window and then shrank back, shuddering and
sobbing, for, scattered over the lawn, men and horses lay stark and
motionless. More pitiful still, here and there a wounded horse was
struggling feebly. The spring morning, dewy, bright, fragrant, made
these evidences of strife tenfold more ghastly. There could not be a
more terrible indictment of war than nature's peaceful loveliness.

By the time she was dressed she was joined by Mrs. Whately, who
looked serious indeed. Before they could descend to the lower hall,
Madison, haggard and gloomy of aspect, intercepted them. Looking at
his cousin's red eyes and pale face, he asked abruptly, "What's the
matter?"

"Do you think I am accustomed to these sights and sounds?" she
answered.

"Oh," he said, in a tone which seemed to her heartless, "it's an old
story to me. Mother, I must speak alone with you a moment."

She turned back with him to her room, meantime saying, "Louise, I do
not think you had better go down without me."

The girl tremblingly returned to her apartment, fearing that now she
might be forced to confront her own actions. But she was conscious
of a sort of passive courage. Mad Whately's anger, or that of
others, was a little thing compared to the truth that men were dead
and dying all about her.

"Mother," said her son, "I had cursed luck last night. I wish I had
slept on the rain-soaked ground near my prisoners," and he told her
what had happened.

"Oh, Madison!" sighed Mrs. Whately, "I wish this experience would
teach you to be more guided by me. Louise cared nothing for this
Yankee, except in a sort of grateful, friendly way. Through him, you
could have done so much to disarm--"

"Oh, well, mother, the milk is spilled. If possible, let the whole
affair be kept from her knowledge."

"Yes, I suppose that will be the best way. If she hears about it, we
must try to explain by the usages of war. Now, Madison, you are
cool. Let experience be your teacher, for you MUST face the truth.
You must either give her up--"

"I'll never give her up."

"Then, as Major Brockton said, you must win her like a Southern
gentleman. Her spirit is as high as yours. You can't continue to
speak to her as you did last night and this morning. Try to realize
the facts. In the seclusion of her bringing up, Louise has learned
nothing of the conventionalities of society which might incline her
toward a good match on general principles. So far from this, the
many old-fashioned romances she has read have made her feel that she
must and WILL have her romance. If you can make Louise feel that you
love her so well as to become her gallant suitor, circumstances may
soon give you great advantages. She may be cold and indifferent for
a time, but like all passionate high-strung natures, present
impulses against may turn just as strongly for you. At least, you
have not to contend with that most fatal of all attitudes--
indifference. A great change in you will be a flattering tribute to
her power to which no girl would be indifferent. I must tell you now
once for all that I will not again assist in any high-handed
measures against Louise. Not only the futility of such action, but
my own dignity and sense of right, forbid it. I did not understand
her at first. Now that I do, I am all the more eager to call her
daughter; but I wish her to feel toward me as she should in such a
relation. Yesterday, when I apologized and told her that I meant to
treat her with kindness and fairness, she kissed me like the warm-
hearted girl she is. I will help you win her as a man should win his
wife; I will not be dragged into any more false positions which can
end only in humiliation. I will be your tireless ally in the only
way you can succeed, but in no other."

"Very well, mother, I agree," said Whately, whose nature it was to
react from one extreme to another.

"Ah, now I have hope. How is your arm?"

"It pains horribly."

Mrs. Whately went to Miss Lou's room and said, "Forgive me for
keeping you waiting. Madison is almost beside himself with pain in
his arm, and I will be detained a little longer."

In her immense relief that she was not charged with all she dreaded,
Miss Lou had leisure from her fears to feel commiseration for her
cousin. When at last he appeared she said kindly, "I am sorry you
are suffering so much."

"If I thought you really cared I wouldn't mind the pain," he
replied. "Cousin Lou, I owe an apology, several, I reckon, but I've
been so distracted between conflicting feelings, duties and pain,
that I scarcely know what I say."

"You little know me if you think I'm weighing WORDS at this time,"
she replied. "Come, let us forget the past, shake hands and remember
that we are simply cousins."

He took her hand instantly, but said, "You ask what is impossible.
Suppose you had said, 'Just remember your arm is well from this
moment,' would it be well? I cannot help my feelings toward you and
don't wish to."

"Very well, then," she sighed, "I cannot help mine either. I don't
wish to talk on that subject any more."

"Then I must plead by actions. Well, I must go now."

Mrs. Whately was much pleased, for her son was adopting just the
course she desired. She added nothing and accompanied Louise
downstairs.

The amputating table had been removed and the halls cleansed, but
the unmistakable odor of the hospital pervaded the house. Every
apartment on the first floor except the dining-room was filled with
the wounded. Some were flushed and feverish by reason of their
injuries, others, pallid from loss of blood and ebbing vital forces.

The Confederate general, with his staff, had already made a hasty
breakfast and departed; through the open door came the mellow sound
of bugles and the songs of birds, but within were irrepressible
sighs and groans. Mrs. Whately entered the spacious parlor on the
floor of which Confederate officers lay as close as space for
attendance upon them permitted. The young girl paused on the
threshold and looked around with a pitying, tearful face. A white-
haired colonel was almost at her feet. As he looked up and
recognized her expression, a pleased smile illumined his wan, drawn
face. "Don't be frightened, my child," he said gently.

The swift glance of her secured attention took in his condition. His
right arm was gone and he appeared ghastly from loss of blood. In
her deep emotion she dropped on her knees beside him, took his cold
hand and kissed it as she said, "Please let me help you and others
get well."

The old man was strongly touched by her unexpected action, and he
faltered, "Well, my child, you make us all feel that our Southern
girls are worth fighting for and, if need be, dying for. Yes, you
can help us, some of us, in our dying perhaps, as well as in our
mending. My battles are over. You can help best by caring for
younger, stronger men."

"Such men will not begrudge you anything, sir."

"Bravo!" cried half a dozen voices, and an officer near added, "Miss
Baron speaks as well and true as you fought, Colonel."

She looked hastily around. Seeing many friendly smiles and looks of
honest goodwill and admiration she rose confusedly, saying, "I must
go to work at once."

"I think, Louise," said Mrs. Whately, joining her in the hall, "we
can accomplish most if we work much together and under the
directions of the surgeons. It is evident from the numbers of the
wounded that time, strength, food--everything will have to be used
to the best advantage. I'm glad that we both got some sleep last
night. Now, I insist. Before you do a thing you must have a cup of
hot coffee and some nourishing food yourself. The best impulses in
the world are not equal to the tasks before us. Indeed, we shall
fail these poor men in their sore need if we do not keep our
strength. The worst is yet to come. As far as you can, control your
feelings, for emotion wears faster than work. Let's first go to the
kitchen."

Zany followed from the dining-room with her hands full of dishes.
She gave Miss Lou a swift, significant glance, and that was all.
Even she was sobered by the scenes witnessed that morning and the
thought of Chunk's indefinite absence. Aun' Suke sat dozing in a
corner, absolutely worn out, and other negroes from the quarters had
been pressed into the service. Mrs. Baron was superintending their
efforts to supply soup and such articles of diet as the surgeons had
ordered. "Ole miss" now shone to advantage and had the executive
ability of a general. In cool, sharp, decisive tones she gave her
orders, which were obeyed promptly by assistants awed into
forgetfulness of everything else except the great, solemn emergency.
All differences had disappeared between the two ladies, and they
began consulting at once how best to meet the prolonged demands now
clearly foreseen.

"The confusion and conflicting requirements are just awful," said
Mrs. Baron. "As soon as possible, we must bring about some system
and order. One of the first things to do is to get as many
provisions and delicacies as possible under lock and key, especially
the coffee and sugar. They are going to give out anyway, before
long."

Miss Lou stole away and ran to Aun' Jinkey's cabin. Soldiers had
taken possession of it and were cooking and eating their breakfasts.
Some recognized the girl politely as she stood at the door, while
others continued their occupation in stolid indifference. Aun'
Jinkey rose tottering from a corner and came to the doorstep. "You
see how 'tis, honey," she said. "Dey des gwine on ez ef I ain' yere.
I a hun'erd yeahs ol'er dan I wuz w'en you want sump'n ter hap'n."

"Take courage, mammy," Miss Lou whispered. "Chunk's safe. Have YOU
had any breakfast?"

"I can't eat, honey, w'en ev'yting des a whirlin'."

The girl darted away and in a few moments returned with a cup of
coffee. Entering the cabin, she said, "Fair play, gentlemen. This is
my old mammy's cabin and this her place here in the corner by the
hearth. Will you do me the favor of being kind to her and letting
her remain undisturbed? Then you can use her fireplace all you
please."

The Southern soldiers, understanding so well the relation between
the girl and the old woman, agreed with many good-natured
protestations, offering to share with Aun' Jinkey their rude
breakfast.

By the time the girl had returned to the house, she found that Zany
and others had prepared a second breakfast in the dining-room for
the family and such of the officers whose wounds were so slight as
to permit their presence at the table. Miss Lou was placed between
her cousin and a young, dark-eyed officer who was introduced as
Captain Maynard. He also carried his left arm in a sling.

Mrs. Whately sat in Mr. Baron's place, since he, after a night's
vigils, had retired to obtain a little sleep. "Louise," said the
lady, "you will have to begin being useful at once. You have a
disabled man on either side of you for whom you must prepare food."

"Miss Baron," said Captain Maynard gallantly, "I am already more
than reconciled to my wound. Anything that you prepare for me will
be ambrosia."

Whately frowned as he heard these words and saw the immediate
impression made by his cousin upon his brother officer; but a
warning glance from his mother led him to vie in compliments. Before
very long Maynard remarked sotto voce, "If you aid in healing the
wounds made by the Yanks, Miss Baron, who will heal the wounds YOU
make?"

"I shall not make any, sir. Such thoughts, even in jest, wound me at
this time. Please excuse me, I've had all the breakfast I wish, and
I cannot rest till I am doing something for those who are suffering
so much."

He rose instantly and drew back her chair. In sitting down again, he
encountered Whately's eyes, and recognized the jealousy and anger
already excited.




CHAPTER XXV

A TRIBUTE TO A SOUTHERN GIRL


Miss Lou entered upon her duties as hospital nurse at once.
Untrammelled even by the knowledge of conventionalities, and with
the directness and fearlessness of a brave child, she went from one
to another, her diffidence quickly banished by her profound
sympathy. The enlisted men on the piazzas received her chief
attentions, nor was she long in discovering the Federal wounded,
crowding the outbuildings and offices.

With the exception of a rearguard and hospital attendants, the
Confederate forces had marched in pursuit of the Union column. The
dead were buried during the morning and the ghastlier evidences of
strife removed. Along the edge of the grove tents were pitched, some
designed for the soldiers, others for the better accommodation and
isolation of certain critical cases. The negroes performed most of
the labor, Uncle Lusthah counselling patience and quiet acceptance
of their lot for the present. The prisoners were sent South.
Confederate surgeon Ackley was in charge of the hospital, while upon
Whately was conferred the military command. His partial disablement
would not prevent him from attending to the light duties of the
position, the surgeon being practically the superior officer. Order
was quickly restored, guards set at important points, and the
strangely assorted little community passed speedily under a simple
yet rigorous military government. Curiosity, desire of gain, as well
as sympathy, led people to flock to the plantation from far and
near. One of Surgeon Ackley's first steps was to impress upon all
the need of provisions, for Mr. Baron's larder, ample as it had
been, was speedily exhausted. During the day began the transfer of
the slightly wounded to the nearest railroad town, where supplies
could be obtained with more certainty, and it was evident that the
policy of abandoning the remote plantation as soon as possible had
been adopted.

Miss Lou knew nothing of this, and simply became absorbed in
successive tasks for the time being.

"Miss Baron," said Surgeon Ackley, "a number of the men are so
disabled that they cannot feed themselves. Proper food at the right
time usually means life."

These words suggested what became one of her principal duties. At
first, rough men were surprised and grateful indeed to find fair
young girl kneeling beside them with a bowl of hot soup; then they
began to look for her and welcome her as one who evoked their best
and most chivalrous feelings. It had soon been evident to her that
the wounded officers in the house would receive the most careful
attention from the regularly appointed attendants and also from Mrs.
Whately. With the exception of the old colonel, she gradually began
to devote the most of her time to the enlisted men, finding among
them much less embarrassment in her labors. With the latter class
among the Confederates, there was not on either side a consciousness
of social equality or an effort to maintain its amenities. The
relation was the simple one of kindness bestowed and received.

The girl made the acquaintance of the Union wounded with feelings in
which doubt, curiosity and sympathy were strangely blended. Her
regard for Scoville added to her peculiar interest in his
compatriots. They were the enemies of whom she had heard so much,
having been represented as more alien and foreign than if they had
come across the seas and spoke a different tongue. How they would
receive her had been an anxious query from the first, but she
quickly learned that her touch of kindness made them kin--that they
welcomed her in the same spirit as did her own people, while they
also were animated by like curiosity and wondering interest in
regard to herself. A woman's presence in a field hospital was in
itself strange and unexpected. That this woman should be a Southern
girl, whose lovely features were gentle in commiseration, instead of
rigid from an imperious sense of duty to foes, was a truth scarcely
accepted at first. Its fuller comprehension began to evoke a homage
which troubled the girl. She was too simple and honest to accept
such return for what seemed the natural offices of humanity; yet,
while her manner and words checked its expression, they only
deepened the feeling.

At first she could scarcely distinguish among the bronzed, begrimed
faces, but before the day passed there were those whose needs and
personal traits enlisted her special regard. This was true of one
middle-aged Union captain, to whom at first she had no call to
speak, for apparently he was not very seriously wounded. Even before
his face was cleansed from the smoke and dust of battle his large,
dark eyes and magnificent black beard caught her attention. Later
on, when feeding a helpless man near him, he spoke to her and held
out a photograph. She took it and saw the features of a blond young
girl scarcely as old as herself.

"My little girl," said the officer simply. "See how she resembles
her mother. That's one reason why I so idolize her," and he handed
Miss Lou another picture, that of a sweet, motherly face, to which
the former likeness bore the resemblance of bud to blossom.

"We must try to get you well soon, so that you may go back to them,"
said Miss Lou cordially. "You are not seriously hurt, I hope?"

"No, I think not. I wanted you to see them so you can imagine how
they will look when I tell them about you. I don't need to be
reminded of my little Sadie, but I almost see her when you come
among us, and I think her blue eyes would have much the same
expression as yours. God bless you, for you are blessing those whom
you regard as your enemies. We don't look very hostile though, do
we?"

"It seems a terrible mistake that you should be here at all as
enemies," she replied. "I have been taught to dread your coming more
than if you were Indians. I never can understand why men who carry
such pictures as these next their heart can fight against us."

"Well, Miss Baron, you must try to believe that we would not have
left the dear originals of such pictures unless we had felt we must,
and there let the question rest. Our lives are sweet to us, although
we risk them, chiefly because so dear to those at home. Let the
thought cheer you in your work that you are keeping tears from eyes
as good and kind as your own. That's another reason why I showed you
the likenesses."

"It will be but another motive," she said. "A suffering man, whether
friend or enemy, is enough."

She smiled as she spoke, then picked her way across the wide barn
floor and disappeared. Every eye followed her, pain all forgotten
for the moment.

"By G--d!" exclaimed a rough fellow, drawing his sleeve across his
eyes, "I'm hard hit, but I'll crawl to and choke the first man who
says a word she oughtn't to hear when she's around."

"If you can keep your own tongue civil, Yarry, you'll have your
hands full," said a comrade.

"Well, I be blankety blank-blanked if that girl doesn't rout the
devil out of a fellow, hoof and horns."

"You're right, my man," said the Union captain, "and your feelings
do you credit. Now I have a suggestion to make. Not one of us is
capable of using a word before her that she shouldn't hear, if not
out of our heads. We can pay her a better tribute than that. Let us
decide to speak in her absence as if she were present. That's about
all we can do in return for her kindness. She won't know the cost to
us in breaking habits, but we will, and that's better. We all feel
that we'd like to spill some more of our blood for the girl who fed
Phillips yonder as if he were a baby. Well, let us do the only thing
we can--speak as if our mothers heard us all the time, for this
girl's sake."

"I be blanked if I don't agree, and may the devil fly away with the
man who doesn't," cried Yarry.

"Ah, Yarry," said the captain, laughing, "you'll have the hardest
row of any of us to hoe. We'll have to let you off for some slips."

Then began among the majority a harder fight than that for life--a
fight with inveterate habit, an effort to change vernacular, almost
as difficult as the learning of a new language. For some time Miss
Lou did not know nor understand. Word had been passed to other and
smaller groups of the Union wounded in other buildings. The pledge
was soon known as "A Northern Tribute to a Southern Girl." It was
entered into with enthusiasm and kept with a pathetic effort which
many will not understand. Yarry positively began to fail under the
restraint he imposed upon himself. His wound caused him agony, and
profanity would have been his natural expression of even slight
annoyance. All day long grisly oaths rose to his lips. Now and then
an excruciating twinge would cause a half-uttered expletive to burst
forth like a projectile. A deep groan would follow, as the man
became rigid in his struggle for self-control.

"Yarry," cried Captain Hanfield, who had suggested the pledge, "let
yourself go, for God's sake. You have shown more heroism to-day than
I in all my life. We will make you an exception and put you on
parole to hold in only while Miss Baron is here."

"I be--oh, blank it! This is going to be the death of me, boys. The
Rebs gave me hell with this wound. But for God's sake don't let her
know. Just let her think I'm civil like the rest of you. Wouldn't
she open them blue eyes if she knew a man was dyin', just holdin' in
cussin' on her account. Ha, ha, ha! She'd think I was a sort of a
Yankee devil, worse than the Injins she expected. Don't let her
know. I'll be quiet enough before long. Then like enough she'd look
at me and say, 'Poor fellow! he won't make any more trouble.'"

Whately had a busy day and felt that he had a reputation to regain.
He therefore bravely endured much physical pain in his arm and gave
very close attention to duty. Captain Maynard, on the contrary, had
nothing to do, and his wound was only severe enough to make him
restless. The young girl whom he had met at breakfast at once became
by far the most interesting subject for thought and object of
observation. He was a young fellow of the ordinary romantic type,
hasty, susceptible, as ready to fight as to eat, and possessed of
the idea that the way to win a girl was to appear her smitten,
abject slave. The passing hours were ages to him in contrast to his
previous activity, and as he watched Miss Lou going about on her
errands of mercy he quickly passed from one stage to another of
admiration and idealization. Remembering the look that Whately had
given him in the morning, he maintained a distant attitude at first,
thinking his brother officer had claims which he must respect. As he
wandered uneasily around, however, he discovered virtually how
matters stood, and learned of the attempt which Whately had made to
marry his cousin, nolens volens. This fact piqued his interest
deeply and satisfied him that the way was clear for a suit on his
part were he so inclined. Fair rivalry would give only additional
zest, and he promptly yielded to his inclination to become at least
much better acquainted with the girl. At dinner he and Whately vied
in their gallantries, but she was too sad and weary to pay much
attention to either of them.

Mrs. Whately compelled her to lie down for a time during the heat of
the afternoon, but thoughts of the suffering all about her banished
power to rest. She went down and found the old colonel lying with
closed eyes, feebly trying to keep away the pestering flies.
Remembering the bunch of peacock feathers with which Zany, in old
monotonous days, had waved when waiting on the table, she obtained
it from the dining-room, and sitting down noiselessly by the
officer, gave him a respite from his tormentors. In his drowsiness
he did not open his eyes, but passed into quiet sleep. The girl
maintained her watch, putting her finger to her lips and making
signals for silence to all who came near. Other Confederate officers
observed her wistfully; Mad Whately, coming in, looked at her
frowningly. His desire and purpose toward his cousin had been that
of entire self-appropriation and now she was becoming the cynosure
of many eyes. Among them he saw those of Captain Maynard, who was
already an object of hate. Little recked the enamored captain of
this fact. To his ardent fancy the girl was rapidly becoming ideal
in goodness and beauty. With the ready egotism of the young he was
inclined to believe that fate had brought about the events which had
revealed to him the woman he should marry. A bombshell bursting
among them all would not have created a greater sensation than the
knowledge that the girl's thoughts were following a Yankee, one whom
she herself, by daring stratagem, had released from captivity.

A twinge of pain awakened the colonel and he looked up, dazed and
uncomprehending. Miss Lou bent over him and said gently, "Go to
sleep again. It's all right."

"Oh, I remember now. You are Miss Baron."

"Yes, but don't try to talk; just sleep now that you can."

He smiled and yielded.

A few moments later Maynard came forward and said, "Miss Baron, your
arm must be tired. Let me take your place."

Now she rewarded him by a smile. "I will be glad if you can," she
replied softly, "not that I am very tired, but there are so many
others."

As she moved away, she saw Surgeon Ackley beckoning to her. "Miss
Baron," he said, "I am going to put one of my patients especially in
your and your aunt's charge. Young as he is, he is a hero and an
unusual character. I have had him moved to a tent, for he is in a
very critical condition. Indeed, his chances for life are few and he
knows it. I am acquainted with his family--one of the best in the
South."

He led the way to a small tent beneath the shade of a wide-branched
oak. A stretcher had been extemporized into a camp bed and on it lay
a youth not older apparently than the girl herself. His face had the
blood-drained look which many will remember, yet was still fine in
its strong, boyish lines. The down on his upper lip was scarcely
more deeply defined than his straight eyebrows. A negro attendant
sat near fanning him, and Miss Lou first thought that he was asleep.
As she approached with the surgeon he opened his eyes with the dazed
expression so common when the brain is enfeebled from loss of blood.
At first they seemed almost opaque and dead in their blackness, but,
as if a light were approaching from within, they grew bright and
laughing. His smile showed his white, even teeth slightly, and her
look of deep commiseration passed into one of wonder as she saw his
face growing positively radiant with what seemed to her a strange
kind of happiness, as he glanced back and forth from her to the
surgeon. Feebly he raised his finger to his lips as if to say, "I
can't speak."

"That's right, Waldo; don't try to talk yet. This is Miss Baron. She
will be one of your nurses and will feed you with the best of soup.
We'll bring you round yet."

He shook his head and smiled more genially, then tried to extend his
hand to the girl, looking his welcome and acceptance of her
ministry. So joyous was his expression that she could not help
smiling in return, but it was the questioning, doubtful smile of one
who did not understand.

"When she comes," resumed Ackley, "take what she gives you, but
don't talk until I give permission. That will do now. You must take
everything except quiet in small quantities at first."

His lips formed the words "All right," and smilingly he watched them
depart.

"I suppose he is not exactly in his right mind," said Miss Lou as
she and the surgeon returned to the house.

"Many would think so, I reckon," replied Ackley laconically. "He
believes in a heaven and that he's going there. That's the only
queer thing I ever discovered in Waldo. He's worth a lot of trouble,
Miss Baron."

"It would be right strange if I did not do my best for him, sir."

"I thought you'd feel so. I want very strong beef soup made for a
few such special cases, who can take but little at a time. I would
like him to have a few teaspoonfuls every two hours. I am going to
trust to you and Mrs. Whately chiefly to look after him in this
respect. We can do little more than help nature in his case."

Poor Aun' Suke was getting weary again, but she had a heart which
Miss Lou speedily touched in behalf of her patient, and a special
saucepan was soon bubbling over the fire.

The soup for the evening meal being ready, she began again her task
of feeding the helpless soldiers, visiting, among others, Phillips,
who lay in a half-stupor on the great barn-floor. As she stepped in
among the Federal wounded, she was again impressed by the prevailing
quiet and by the friendly glances turned toward her on every side.
The Union surgeon in charge lifted his hat politely, while such of
the men as were able took off theirs and remained uncovered. The
homage, although quiet, was so marked that she was again
embarrassed, and with downcast eyes went direct to Phillips, gently
roused him and gave him his supper. While she was doing this the men
around her were either silent or spoke in low tones. The thought
grew in her mind, "How these Northern soldiers have been
misrepresented to me! Even when I am approaching and before they are
aware I am near, I hear no rough talk as I do among our men. The
world is so different from uncle's idea of it! Whether these men are
right or wrong, I will never listen patiently again when they are
spoken of as the scum of the earth."

As she rose and saw the respectful attitude toward her, faltered,
"I--I--wish to thank you for your--your kindness to me."

At these words there was a general smile even on the wannest and
most pain-pinched face, for they struck the men as very droll.

"We were under the impression that the kindness was chiefly on your
side," said Captain Hanfield. "Still we are glad you find us a civil
lot of Indians."

"Please remember," she answered earnestly, "that was not my thought,
but one impressed upon me by those who did not know. Only within a
very short time have I ever seen Northern people or soldiers, and
they treat me with nothing but courtesy."

"Perhaps you are to blame for that," said the captain pleasantly.

"I can't help feeling glad that our good opinion is becoming
mutual," she replied, smiling. "Won't you please put on your hats
and let me come and go as a matter of course? I don't like to be
sort of received every time I come. I just want to help those I can
help, to get well."

"You have only to express your wishes, Miss Baron," was the hearty
reply.

"Thank you. Is there anything more that I can do for you? Is there
any one who specially needs--"

As she was glancing round her eyes fell upon Yarry. His face was so
drawn and haggard with pain that, from an impulse of pity, she went
directly to him and said gently, "I fear, sir, you are suffering
very much."

"I be--oh, hang--there, there, miss, I'll stand it a little longer.
I could stand hell-fire for your sake. I didn't mean to say that.
Guess I better keep still."

His face, now seen attentively, revealed more to her in tuition than
his words. She stooped by his side and said piteously, "Oh, you are
suffering--I FEEL that you are suffering terribly. I must do
something to relieve you."

"Oh, now, miss," he replied, forcing a ghastly sort of smile, "I'm
all right, I be--well, I am. Bless your kind heart! Don't worry
about me. I'll smoke my pipe and go to sleep pretty soon. You look
tired yourself, little one. I will feel better if you won't worry
about me, I be--well, I will. I'm just like the other fellows, you
know."

"I reckon you are a brave, good-hearted man, to think of others when
I KNOW you are suffering so much. I am having very strong soup made
for one of our men, and I'll bring you some by and by," and with a
lingering, troubled look into his rugged face, she departed.

His eyes followed her until she disappeared.

"Yarry, you are rewarded," Captain Hanfield remarked.

"--my reward. Fellers, she's just wearin' herself out for us. I
don't want no reward for anything I can do for her. Well, I'm goin'
to shut up now. The only thing I can do for her is to hold my tongue
till it can't wag. I told her I'd smoke my pipe and go to sleep. I
be--well, I will. Light it for me, Tom. When she comes, like enough
I'll be asleep, a sort of DEAD sleep, yer know. Just let her think
I'm dozin' after my pipe. Don't let her try to wake me and worry
about me."

"All shall be as you wish, Yarry," said Captain Hanfield. "I tell
you, men, few women ever received such a tribute as Yarry is paying
this Southern girl. For one, I'm proud of him."




CHAPTER XXVI

A BACKGROUND OF EGOTISM


When Miss Lou returned to the house supper was ready and she sat
down weary, saddened and preoccupied by the scenes she had
witnessed.

"You are going beyond your strength," said Captain Maynard, who had
watched her coming back from the Federal wounded. "Cannot you be
content to confine your ministrations to your friends only?"

"For once I can agree with Captain Maynard," Whately added stiffly.
"I don't think it's right for you, cousin, to be going among those
rough, brutal fellows."

Instantly her anger flamed at the injustice of the remark and she
answered hotly, "I've found no rough, brutal fellows among the
Yankees."

All smiled at her words, and Ackley remarked to one of the Union
surgeons, "Dr. Borden, I thought our men could hold their own pretty
well with the Army in Flanders, but you Yanks, I reckon, surpass all
military organizations, past or present. There was one man
especially who fairly made the night lurid and left a sulphurous
odor after him when he was brought in. It would be rather rough on
us all if we were where he consigned us with a vim that was
startling. I certainly hope that Miss Baron is not compelled to hear
any such language."

"I appeal to Miss Baron herself," said Dr. Borden, "if she has been
offended in this respect to-day?"

"No, indeed, I have not," replied the girl indignantly. "I never was
treated with more courtesy. I have not heard a rough word from the
Yankees even when they did not know I was near, and that is more
than I can say of our own men. Fight the Yankees all you please, but
don't do them injustice."

In spite of the girl's flushed, incensed face, there was an
explosion of laughter. "Pardon me, Miss Baron," said Ackley, "but
you can't know how droll your idea of injustice to the Yankees seems
to us. That you have such an idea, however, is a credit to you and
to them also, for they must have been behaving themselves
prodigiously."

"Yes, Dr. Ackley," replied Borden emphatically, "Miss Baron's
impressions ARE a credit to her and to my patients. They promptly
recognized her motives and character, and for her sake they pledged
themselves that while here, where she is one of the nurses, they
would not use language at any time which they would not have their
mothers hear. That very man you speak of, who swore so last night,
believes himself dying from his effort at self-restraint. This is
not true, for he would have died anyhow, but his death is hastened
by his effort. He has been in agony all day. Opiates make him worse,
so there is no use of giving them. But I can tell you, no man in
your Confederacy ever did a braver thing than he is doing this
minute to show his respect for this young lady who has shown
kindness to his comrades. I can assure you, Lieutenant Whately, that
you need have no fears about your cousin when visiting my patients."

"What's the name of the soldier of whom you speak?" Miss Lou asked
eagerly.

"He is called Yarry. I don't know any other name yet--been so busy
dressing wounds."

"Thank you," faltered the girl, rising, her face showing signs of
strong emotion.

"Oh, Louise! finish your supper," expostulated Mrs. Whately. "You
must not let these scenes take so strong a hold"--but she was out of
hearing. "I fear it's all going to be too much for her," sighed the
lady in conclusion.

Mr. Baron and his wife exchanged grim glances from the head and foot
of the table, as much as to say, "She has shaken off our control and
we are not responsible," but Ackley remarked, "I agree with you, Dr.
Borden, that it's fine to see a girl show such a spirit, and I
congratulate you that your men are capable of appreciating it. By
the way, Mrs. Whately, I have put her, with you, in charge of young
Waldo and truly hope that among us we can bring him through."

"Mrs. Whately," said Captain Maynard, "I reckon more than one of us
begin to regret already that we were not so desperately wounded as
to need your attention and that of Miss Baron. We must remember,
however, that she is not accustomed to these scenes, and I think we
must try to make her forget them at the table. I suppose in the
kindness of her heart she is now crying in her room over that
Yankee." Whately shot a savage glance at the speaker which plainly
implied, "It's none of your business where she is." Suddenly rising,
he departed also, his mother's eyes following him anxiously.

Miss Lou was not crying in her room. As the level rays of the sun
shone into the wide old barn, making the straw in a mow doubly
golden, and transforming even the dusty cobwebs into fairy lacework,
she crossed the threshold and paused for the first time in her
impulsive haste to find and thank the dying man of whom she had been
told. All eyes turned wonderingly toward her as she stood for a
moment in the sunshine, as unconscious of herself, of the marvellous
touch of beauty bestowed by the light and her expression, as if she
had flown from the skies.

"Is there a soldier here named Yarry?" she began, then uttered a
little inarticulate cry as she saw Captain Hanfield kneeling beside
a man to whom all eyes directed her. "Oh, it's he," she sobbed,
kneeling beside him also. "As soon as I heard I felt it was he who
told me not to worry about him. Is--is he really dying?"

"Yes, I hope so, Miss Baron," replied the captain gravely. "He
couldn't live and it's time he had rest."

The girl bent over the man, her hot tears falling on his face. He
opened his eyes and looked vacantly at her for a moment or two, then
smiled in recognition. It was the most pathetic smile she had ever
imagined. "Don't worry," he whispered, "I'm just dozin' off."

"Oh, my poor, brave hero!" she said brokenly, "I know, I know it
all. God reward you, I can't."

"Don't want no reward. I be--say, miss, don't wear--yourself--out
fer us."

She took his cold hand and bowed her forehead upon it, sobbing aloud
in the overpowering sense of his self-forgetfulness. "O God!" she
cried, "do for this brave, unselfish man what I cannot. When, WHEN
can I forget such a thing as this! Oh, live, please live; we will
take such good care of you."

"There, there, little one, don't--take on--so about--me. Ain't wuth
it. I be--Say, I feel better--easier. Glad--you spoke--good word to
God--for me. I be--I mean, I think--He'll hear--sech as you. I'm--
off now. Don't--wear--yourself--"

Even in her inexperience she saw that he was dying, and when his
gasping utterance ceased she had so supported his head that it fell
back on her bosom. For a few moments she just cried helplessly,
blinded with tears. Then she felt the burden of his head removed and
herself lifted gently.

"I suspected something like this when you left the table, Miss
Baron," said Dr. Borden.

"Oh, oh, oh, I feel as if he had died for me," she sobbed.

"He would a died for you, miss," said Tom, drawing his sleeve across
his eyes, "so would we all."

"Miss Baron," resumed the doctor gravely, "remember poor Yarry's
last words, 'Don't wear yourself--he couldn't finish the sentence,
but you know what he meant. You must grant the request of one who
tried to do what he could for you. As a physician also I must warn
you to rest until morning. You can do more for these men and others
by first doing as Yarry wished," and he led her away.

They had not gone far before they met Uncle Lusthah. The girl
stopped and said, "Doctor, won't you let Uncle Lusthah bury him to-
morrow down by the run? I'll show him the place."

"Yes, Miss Baron, we all will do anything you wish if you only rest
to-night. I tell you frankly you endanger yourself and your chance
to do anything more for the wounded by continuing the strain which
these scenes put upon you."

"I reckon you're right," she said, "I feel as if I could hardly
stand."

"I know. Take my arm and go at once to your room."

On the way they encountered Whately. "Cousin! where on earth have
you been? You look ready to faint."

His presence and all that he implied began to steady her nerves at
once, but she made no reply.

"She has witnessed a painful scene, Lieutenant," began the surgeon.

"You have no business to permit her to witness such scenes," Whately
interrupted sternly. "You should see that she's little more than an
inexperienced child and--"

"Hush, sir," said Miss Lou. "Who has given you the right to dictate
to me or to this gentleman? I'm in no mood for any more such words,
cousin. To-day, at least, no one has taken advantage of my
inexperience. Good-evening," and she passed on, leaving him chafing
in impatient anger and protest.

At the house Mrs. Whately began expostulations also, but the girl
said, "Please don't talk to me now. By and by I will tell you what
will touch all the woman in your heart."

"I earnestly suggest," added Dr. Borden, "that you take Miss Baron
to her room, and that nothing more be said to disturb her. She is
overwrought and has reached the limit of endurance."

The lady had the tact to acquiesce at once. After reaching her room
Miss Lou exclaimed, "But I have not been to young Waldo."

"I have," replied her aunt, "and will see him again more than once
before I retire. Louise, if you would not become a burden yourself
at this time you must do as the doctor says."

Within an hour the girl was sleeping and her nature regaining the
strength and elasticity of youth.

As Whately stood fuming where his cousin had left him, Perkins
approached for the first time since they had parted in anger the
night before.

"I reck'n Miss Baron's gone over ter the inemy," remarked the
overseer.

"What do you mean?"

"Look yere, Leftenant, what's the use o' you bein' so gunpowdery
with me? What's the use, I say? I mout be of some use ter you ef you
wuz civil."

"Of what use were you last night? You allowed my prisoner to be
carried off right under your nose."

"Who carried 'im off? Answer that."

"Why, some gawk of a Yank that you were too stupid to tell from me."

"P'raps hit was, p'raps hit wasn't."

"Who else could it be?"

"I s'picion who it was, but I'm not goin' ter talk to one who's got
nothin' better to give me 'n uggly words."

"You don't mean to say--"

"I don't mean to say nothin' till I know who I'm talkin' ter."

Whately gave a long, low whistle and then muttered "Impossible!"

"Oh, sut'ny," remarked Perkins ironically.

The two men gave each other a long searching look; then Perkins
resumed, "That's right, Leftenant, take yer bearin's. I don't see ez
you kin do me any special good, ner harm nuther. Ef yer want no news
or help from me, we kin sheer off right yere en now."

"I say your suspicion is absurd," resumed Whately, as if arguing
with himself. "When the alarm, caused by firing, came last night, it
happened she was in her room and was badly frightened."

"What time did the alarm happen?"

"About two o'clock."

"Wal, about midnight a figger that favored you 'mazingly, yes, ter
yer very walk, came up boldly en sez ter me, nodding at the Yank,
'Leave 'im ter me.' The figger wasn't jes' dressed like you in
'Federate uniform, but I kin a'most swear the figger had on them
clo's and that hat you're a wearin' now; arm in sling, too. What's
mo', when I thought hit over I was cock sure the figger wuz
shorter'n you air. I don't believe there's a Yank livin' that could
a fooled me last night, 'less he had yer clo's on en yer walk."

"My uniform and hat hung on the chairs beside me, just where they
had been put when I went to sleep."

"Jes' tell me ef the do' o' yer room wuz locked."

"I wasn't in a room. I slept at the end of the hall."

"Then enybody could git 'em en put 'em back while you wuz asleep."

"She couldn't knock you senseless. You're talking wild."

"I've schemed that out. Thar's tracks in the gyardin not so blinded
but they kin give a hint ter a blind hoss. Thar's a track nigh whar
I fell mighty like what that infernal nigger Chunk ud make. Beyond,
ez ef some uns had hidden in the bushes, right in the gyarden bed,
air two little woman-like tracks en two men tracks."

Whately ground his teeth and muttered an oath.

"I don't s'pose I kin prove anything 'clusive," resumed Perkins, "en
I don't s'pose it ud be best ef I could. Ef she was up ter such
deviltry, of co'se you don't want hit gen'ly known. Bigger ossifers
'n you ud have ter notice it. Ef I was in yu shoes howsomever, in
huntin' shy game, I could use sech a clar s'picion agin her en be
mo' on my gyard inter the bargain."

"I can use it and will," said Whately, sternly. "Perkins, keep your
eyes wide open in my behalf. If that Yankee or Chunk ever come
within our reach again--the nigger stole my horse and brought the
Yank here too in time to prevent the wedding, I believe."

"Reck'n he did, Leftenant."

"Well, he and his master may be within our reach again. We had
better not be seen much together. I will reward you well for any
real service," and he strode away in strong perturbation.

"Hang your reward," muttered Perkins. "You think you're goin' ter
use me when the boot's on t'other foot. You shall pay me fer doin'
my work. I couldn't wish the gal nuthin' worse than ter marry you.
That ud satisfy my grudge agin her, but ef I get my claws on that
nigger en dom'neerin' Yank of a master"--his teeth came together
after the grim fashion of a bulldog, by way of completing his
soliloquy.

The spring evening deepened from twilight into dusk, the moon rose
and shone with mild radiance over the scene that had abounded in
gloom, tragedy and adventure the night before. The conflict which
then had taken place now caused the pathetic life-and-death
struggles occurring in and about the old mansion. In the onset of
battle muscle and the impulse to destroy dominated; now the heart,
with its deep longings, its memories of home and kindred, the soul
with its solemn thoughts of an unknown phase of life which might be
near, came to the fore, rendering the long, doubtful straggle
complex indeed.

The stillness was broken only by the steps and voices of attendants
and the irrepressible groans of those who watched for the day with
hope that waxed and waned as the case might be. Uncle Lusthah
yearned over the Federal wounded with a great pity, the impression
that they were suffering for him and his people banishing sleep. He
hovered among them all night long, bringing water to fevered lips
and saying a word of Christian cheer to any who would listen.

Miss Lou wakened with the dawn and recognized with gladness that her
strength and courage for work had been restored. Even more potent
than thoughts of Scoville was the impulse to be at work again,
especially among those with whom she inevitably associated him.
Dressing hastily, she went first to see the old Confederate colonel.
He was evidently failing fast Ackley and an attendant were watching
him. He looked at the girl, smiled and held out his hand. She took
it and sat down beside him.

"Ah!" he said feebly, "this is a good deal better than dying alone.
Would you mind, my child, writing some things I would like to say to
my family?"

Miss Lou brought her portfolio and tearfully received his dying
messages.

"Poor little girl!" said the colonel, "you are witnessing scenes
very strange to you. Try to keep your heart tender and womanly, no
matter what you see. Such tears as yours reveal the power to help
and bless, not weakness. I can say to YOU all the sacred, farewell
words which would be hard to speak to others."

Brokenly, with many pauses from weakness, he dictated his last
letter, and she wrote his words as well as she could see to do so.
"They will be all the sweeter and more soothing for your tears, my
dear," he said.

He kept up with wonderful composure until he came to his message to
"little Hal," his youngest child. Then the old soldier broke down
and reached out his arms in vain yet irrepressible longing. "Oh, if
I could kiss the little fellow just once before--" he moaned.

For a few moments he and the girl at his side just wept together,
and then the old man said almost sternly, "Tell him to honor his
mother and his God, to live for the South, for which his father
died. Say, if he will do this he shall have my blessing, not
without. Now, my child, I trust this letter to you. Good-by and God
bless you. I wish to be alone a little while and face the last enemy
calmly."

As she knelt down and kissed him tears again rushed to his eyes and
he murmured, "That was good and sweet of you, my child. Keep your
heart simple and tender as it is now. Good-by."

Returning to her room with the portfolio she met her cousin in the
upper hall. He fixed his eyes searchingly upon her and with the air
of one who knew very much began, "Cousin Lou, my eyes are not so
often blinded with tears as yours, yet they see more perhaps than
you are aware of. I'm willing to woo you as gallantly as can any
man, but you've got to keep some faith with me as the representative
of our house and of the cause which, as a Southern girl, should be
first always in its claims."

Her heart fluttered, for his words suggested both knowledge and a
menace. At the same time the scenes she had passed through,
especially the last, lifted her so far above his plane of life that
she shrank from him with something very like contempt.

"Do you know what I have been writing?" she asked sternly.

"I neither know nor care. I only wish you to understand that you
cannot trifle with me nor wrong me with impunity."

"Oh!" she cried, with a strong repellant gesture, "why can't YOU see
and understand? You fairly make me loathe the egotism which, in
scenes like these, can think only of self. As if I had either time
or inclination to be trifling with you, whatever you mean by that.
Brave men are dying heroically and unselfishly, thinking of others,
while 'I, me and gallant wooing,' combined with vague threats
against one whom you are in honor bound to protect, are the only
words on your lips. How can you be so unmanly? What are you,
compared with that noble old colonel whose last words I have just
received? If you care a straw for my opinion, why are you so foolish
as to compel me to draw comparisons? Do, for manhood's sake, forget
yourself for once."

He was almost livid from rage as he replied harshly, "You'll rue
these words!"

She looked at him scornfully as she said, "It's strange, but your
words and expression remind me of Perkins. He might make you a good
ally."

In his confusion and anger he blurted out, "Little wonder you think
of him. You and that accursed nigger, Chunk--"

"Hush!" she interrupted in a low, imperious voice, "hush, lest as
representative of our house you disgrace yourself beyond hope." And
she passed quickly to her room.

Within less than an hour he was asking himself in bitter self-
upbraiding, "What have I gained? What can I do? Prefer charges
against my own cousin which I cannot prove? Impossible!--Oh, I've
been a fool again. I should have kept that knowledge secret till I
could use it for a definite purpose. I'll break her spirit yet."

If he had seen her after she reached her room he might have thought
it broken then. Vague dread of the consequences of an act which,
from his words, she believed he knew far more about than he did,
mingled with her anger and feelings of repugnance. "Oh," she moaned,
"it was just horrible; it was coming straight down from the sublime
to the contemptible. That noble old colonel took me to the very gate
of heaven. Now I'm fairly trembling with passion and fear. Oh, why
will Cousin Mad always stir up the very worst of my feelings! I'd
rather suffer and die as poor Yarry did than marry a man who WILL
think only of his little self at such a time as this!"




CHAPTER XXVII

AUN' JINKEY'S SUPREME TEST


The first long tragic day of hospital experience had so absorbed
Miss Lou as to relegate into the background events which a short
time before had been beyond her wildest dreams. In the utter
negation of her life she had wished that something would happen, and
so much had happened and so swiftly that she was bewildered. The
strangest thing of all was the change in herself. Lovers of the
Whately and Maynard type could only repel by their tactics. She was
too high-spirited to submit to the one, and too simple and sincere,
still too much of a child, to feel anything but annoyance at the
sentimental gallantry of the other. The genial spirit of comradeship
in Scoville, could it have been maintained through months of
ordinary life, would probably have prepared the way for deeper
feeling on the part of both, but there had been no time for the
gradual development of goodwill and friendly understanding into
something more. They had been caught in an unexpected whirl of
events and swept forward into relations utterly unforeseen. He owed
his escape from much dreaded captivity and his very life to her,
and, as he had said, these facts, to her generous nature, were even
more powerful in their influence than if she herself had received
the priceless favors. At the same time, her course toward him,
dictated at first by mere humanity, then goodwill, had made his
regard for her seem natural even to her girlish heart. If she had
read it all in a book, years before, she would have said, "A man
couldn't do less than love one when fortune had enabled her to do so
much for him." So she had simply approved of his declaration, down
by the run, of affection for which she was not yet ready, and she
approved of him all the more fondly because he did not passionately
and arbitrarily demand or expect that she should feel as he did, in
return. "I didn't," she had said to herself a score of times, "and
that was enough for him."

When later, for his sake, she faced the darkness of midnight, a
peril she dared not contemplate, and the cruel misjudgment which
would follow her action if discovered, something deeper awoke in her
nature--something kindled into strong, perplexing life when, in his
passionate gratitude, he had snatched her in his arms and, as she
had said, "given her his whole heart because he couldn't help
himself." From that moment, on her part there had been no more
merely kind, tranquil thoughts about Scoville, but a shy, trembling,
blushing self-consciousness even when in solitude his image rose
before her.

As she sought to regain composure after the last interview with her
cousin, and to think of her best course in view of what seemed his
dangerous knowledge, a truth, kept back thus far by solemn and
absorbing scenes, suddenly became dear to her. The spirit of all-
consuming selfishness again manifested by Whately, revealed as never
before the gulf of abject misery into which she would have fallen as
his wife. "If it hadn't been for Lieutenant Scoville I might now
have been his despairing bond slave," she thought; "I might have
been any way if the Northern officer were any other kind of a man,
brutal, coarse, as I had been led to expect, or even indifferent and
stupid. I might have been forced into relations from which I could
not escape and then have learned afterward what noble, unselfish men
there are in the world. Oh, I COULD marry Allan Scoville, I could
love him and devote my life to him wholly, knowing all the time that
I needn't protect myself, because he would always be a kinder,
truer, better protector. How little I have done for him compared
with that from which he has saved me!"

There was a knock at the door and Zany quickly entered. "I des slip
off while ole miss in de sto'-room, ter gib you a warnin', Miss Lou.
Hain't had no charnce till dis minit. Dat ar ole fox, Perkins, been
snoopin' roun' yistidy arter we un's tracks en las' night he tell
Mad Whately a heap ob his 'jecterin'."

"But, Zany," said Miss Lou, "you don't think they KNOW anything."

"Reck'n hit's all des 'jecterin'," Zany replied. "Kyant be nufin'
else. We des got ter face hit out. Doan you fear on me. We uns mus'
des star stupid-like ef dey ax questions," and she whisked off
again.

The girl felt that the spirit of Zany's counsel would be the best
policy to adopt. While she might not "star stupid-like," she could
so coldly ignore all reference to Scoville's escape as to embarrass
any one who sought to connect her with it. In the clearer
consciousness of her feeling toward the Union officer her heart grew
glad and strong at the thought of the service she had rendered him,
nor did it shrink at suffering for his sake. A gratitude quite as
strong as his own now possessed her that he had been the means of
keeping her from a union dreaded even as an ignorant child, and now
known, by the love which made her a woman, to be earthly perdition.

"Having escaped that," she reflected, "there's nothing else I
greatly fear," and she went down to breakfast resolving that she
would be so faithful in her duties as a nurse that no one in
authority would listen to her cousin or Perkins if they sought to
make known their surmises.

Ignorant of her son's action and its results, Mrs. Whately met her
niece kindly and insisted that she should not leave the dining-room
until she had partaken of the breakfast now almost ready. Captain
Maynard joined her with many expressions of a solicitude which the
girl felt to be very uncalled for, yet in her instinct to propitiate
every one in case her action should be questioned, she was more
friendly to him than at any time before. Meanwhile, she was asking
herself, "What would they do to me if all was found out?" and
sustaining herself by the thought, "Whatever they do to me, they
can't reach Lieutenant Scoville."

It was gall and bitterness to Whately to find her talking affably to
Maynard, but before the meal was over she had the address to disarm
him in some degree. For his own sake as well as hers and the
family's she thought, "I must not irritate him into hasty action. If
he should find out, and reveal everything, no matter what happened
to me, he would bring everlasting disgrace on himself and relatives.
I could at least show that my motives were good, no matter how
soldiers, with their harsh laws, might act toward me; but what
motive could excuse him for placing me, a young girl and his cousin,
in such a position?"

Whately had already satisfied himself that no pretence of zeal for
the service could conceal his real motive or save him from general
scorn should he speak of the mere conjectures of a man like Perkins.
He had never meant to speak of them publicly, simply to use his
knowledge as a means of influencing his cousin. He now doubted the
wisdom of this. Reacting from one mood to another, as usual, his
chief hope now was that some unexpected turn of fortune's wheel
would bring his opportunity. The one thing which all the past
unfitted him to accept was personal and final denial. His egotism
and impatience at being crossed began to manifest itself in another
direction, one suggested by Maynard's evident susceptibility to his
cousin's attractions. "Here is a chance," he thought, "of righting
myself in Lou's eyes. If this fellow, thrown into her society by the
fortune of war, not by courtesy, presumptuously goes beyond a
certain point in his attentions, Cousin Lou will find that no knight
of olden time would have fought for her quicker than I will. Mother
says she is one who must have her romance. She may have it with a
vengeance. It may open her eyes to the truth that a spirit like mine
brooks no opposition, and when she sees that I am ready to face
death for her she will admire, respect, and yield to a nature that
is haughty and like that of the old nobility."

Thus he blinded himself in these vain, silly vaporings, the result
of a false training and the reading of stilted romances. The thought
of studying the girl's character, of doing and being in some degree
what would be agreeable to her, never occurred to him. That kind of
good sense rarely does occur to the egotistical, who often fairly
exasperate those whom they would please by utter blindness to the
simple things which ARE pleasing. Miss Lou had read more old
romances than he, but she speedily outgrew the period in which she
was carried away by the fantastic heroes described. They became in
her fancy the other extreme of the matter-of-fact conditions in
which her uncle and aunt had lived, and as we have seen, she longed
to know the actual world, to meet with people who did not seem alien
to her young and natural sympathies. Each new character she met
became a kind of revelation to her. She was the opposite pole of the
society belle, whose eyes have wearied of humanity, who knows little
and cares less for anything except her mirrored image. With
something of the round-eyed curiosity and interest of a child, she
looked at every new face, asking herself, "What is he like?" not
whether he will like and admire me, although she had not a little
feminine pleasure in discovering that strangers were inclined to do
this. Her disapproval of Maynard arose chiefly from the feeling that
his gallantry at such a time, with the dead and dying all about
them, was "more shocking than a game of cards on Sunday." She
regarded his attentions, glances, tones, as mere well-bred
persiflage, indulged in for his own amusement, and she put him down
as a trifler for his pains. That he, as she would phrase it, "was
just smitten without any rhyme or reason" seemed preposterous. She
had done nothing for him as she had for Scoville. The friendly or
the frankly admiring looks of strangers, the hearty gratitude and
goodwill of the wounded, she could accept with as much pleasure as
any of her sex; but she had not yet recognized that type of man who
looks at a pretty woman and is disposed to make love to her at once.
"Why does Captain Maynard stare at me so?" she asked herself, "when
I don't care a thistle for him and never will. Why should I care?
Why should he care? Does he think I'm silly and shallow enough to be
amused by this kind of thing when that brave old colonel is dying
across the hall?"

It was a relief to her to escape from him and Whately and to visit
even poor Waldo, dying also, as she believed. "Dr. Ackley," she
said, "you may trust me to give him his food now every two hours. I
won't break down again."

"You did not break down, Miss Baron. All my nurses have their hours
off. Why shouldn't you? I reckon," he added, smiling, "you'll have
to obey my orders like the rest. I will go with you again on this
visit."

To her the youth seemed ghastlier than ever, but the expression of
gladness in his eyes was unchanged.

"Miss Baron feels very remorseful that she has not been to see you
before," said Dr. Ackley, "but her labors yesterday were so many and
varied that she had to rest. She will do better by you to-day."

Waldo could only reach his hand feebly toward her in welcome. She
took the brown, shapely hand in both of hers and it made her sad to
feel how cold and limp it was. "But a few hours ago," she thought,
"it was striking blows with a heavy sabre."--"I have brought you
some strong, hot soup," she said gently, "and shall bring it every
two hours. You'll be very good and take it from me, won't you?"

He laughed as he nodded assent.

"When can I begin to read to him, doctor, to help him pass the
time?"

"Perhaps to-morrow if he does well, but never more than a few
minutes together until I permit. Slow and sure, Waldo, slow and sure
are my orders, and you are too good a soldier to disobey."

He shook his head mischievously and whispered "Insubordinate."

The doctor nodded portentously and said, "If you and Miss Baron
don't obey orders I'll put you both under arrest."

This seemed to amuse the young fellow immensely and he was about to
speak again, but the surgeon put his finger to his lips and
departed.

As she was feeding him with eyes full of gentle commiseration his
lips framed the words, "You can talk to me."

She scarcely knew how to do this. There were questions she was eager
to ask, for his strange, exuberant happiness under the circumstances
were hard to understand, even after Dr. Ackley's explanation. She
had never seen religion produce any such results. Uncle Lusthah
seemed to her very sincere and greatly sustained in his faith, but
he had always been to her a sorrowful, plaintive figure, mourning
for lost kindred whom slavery had scattered. Like the ancient
prophets also, his heart was ever burdened by the waywardness of the
people whom he exhorted and warned. In young Waldo appeared a
joyousness which nothing could quench. From the moment she obtained
a clew to his unexpected behavior, everything in his manner accorded
with the surgeon's explanation. In his boyish face and expression
there was not a trace of the fanatical or abnormal. He seemed to
think of Heaven as he did of his own home, and the thought of going
to the one inspired much the same feeling as returning to the other.

"Well," said Miss Lou, after a little hesitancy, "it is a pleasure
to wait on one who is so brave and cheerful. It makes me feel
ashamed of worrying over my troubles."

He motioned her to get something under his pillow and she drew out a
small Testament. With the ease of perfect familiarity he turned the
leaves and pointed to the words, "Come unto me, all ye that labor
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He looked up at her,
smiled brightly, and shook his head when he saw tears in her eyes.
Again he turned the leaves and pointed to other words, "Beloved,
think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,
as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice,
inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his
glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."
His expression was wonderfully significant in its content, for it
was that of one who had explained and accounted for everything.

"Oh," she faltered, "I wish I felt as you do, believed as you do. I
hope you will get strong soon. I would like to tell you some things
which trouble me very much, and there is no one I can tell."

"By and by," he whispered. "Don't worry. All right."

"Oh, what does this mean?" she thought as she returned to the house.
"Awfully wounded, suffering, dying perhaps, yet 'glad with an
exceeding joy'! Uncle and aunt haven't any idea of such a religion,
and for some reason Dr. Williams never gave me any such idea of it
at church. Why didn't he? Was it my fault? What he said seemed just
words that made little or no impression. Since he tried to marry me
to Cousin Mad I feel as if I could scarcely bear the sight of him."

Yet he was the first one to greet her on the veranda. He spoke with
formal kindness, but she responded merely by a grave salutation, and
passed on, for she felt that he should have understood and protected
her in the most terrible emergency of her young life.

Having looked after the safety of his family, he had returned with
the best and sincerest intentions to minister to the wounded. If the
good he would do corresponded with these intentions he would have
been welcomed in most instances; but he possessed that unfortunate
temperament which is only one remove for the better from a cold
indifference to his sacred duties. He did not possess a particle of
that mysterious, yet in his calling priceless, gift termed magnetism
for the lack of a better definition. All respected him, few warmed
toward him or thought of opening to him their hearts. His mind was
literal, and within it the doctrines were like labelled and separate
packages, from which he took from time to time what he wanted as he
would supplies from a store-room. God was to him a Sovereign and a
Judge who would save a few of the human race in exact accordance
with the creed of the Church in which the good man had been trained.
What would happen to those without its pale was one of those solemn
mysteries with which he had naught to do. Conscientious in his idea
of duty to the last degree, he nevertheless might easily irritate
and repel many minds by a rigid presentation of the only formula of
faith which he deemed safe and adequate. It seemed his chief aim to
have every form and ceremony of his Church complied with, and then
his responsibility ceased. He and Mr. Baron had taken solid comfort
in each other, both agreeing on every point of doctrine and
politics. Both men honestly felt that if the world could be brought
to accept their view of life and duty little would be left to be
desired. When summoned to perform the marriage ceremony Dr. Williams
no more comprehended the desperate opposition of Miss Lou to the
will of her guardian, the shrinking, instinctive protest of her
woman's nature, than he did the hostility of so many in the world to
the tenets of his faith. His inability to understand the feelings,
the mental attitude of others who did not unquestioningly accept his
views and approve the action of the "powers that be" was perhaps the
chief obstacle to his usefulness. He was not in the least degree
intolerant or vindictive toward those who opposed him; his feeling
rather was, "This is your opportunity. I gladly afford it and there
my responsibility ceases"--a comfortable sort of belief to many, but
one that would not satisfy a warm, earnest nature like Paul's, who
said, "To the weak I became as weak, that I might gain the weak: I
am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."
Paul would have found some way to reach the ear and heart of nearly
every wounded man in the extemporized hospital, but for the reasons
suggested the visits of poor Dr. Williams soon began to be very
generally dreaded. Old Uncle Lusthah had far better success with
those who would listen to him.

Miss Lou soon found her way to the Federal wounded again. While
agreeably to her wishes there was no formality in her reception, it
was evident that the poor fellows had now learned to regard her with
deep affection.

"I have told them all," said Dr. Borden who received her, "that you
did as Yarry wished, that you took a good rest and were looking this
morning as you should, and it has pleased them greatly. Phillips
died last night, and has been removed. He hadn't any chance and did
not suffer much. Remembering your wishes, we kept Yarry here. He
lies there as if he were dozing after his pipe, as he wished you to
think."

The girl stepped to the side of the dead soldier and for a moment or
two looked silently into the still, peaceful face. Quietly and
reverently the surgeon and others took off their hats and waited
till she should speak. "Oh," she breathed softly at last, "how
thoughtful and considerate you have been! You have made this brave,
unselfish man look just as if he were quietly sleeping in his
uniform. There is nothing terrible or painful in his aspect as he
lies there on his side. Poor generous-hearted fellow! I believe he
is at rest, as now he seems to be. I want you all to know," she
added, looking round, "that he shall be buried where I can often
visit his grave and keep it from neglect, for I can never forget the
kindness that he--that you all have shown me. Dr. Borden, I will now
show Uncle Lusthah the place where I wish the grave to be, and when
all is ready I will come and follow poor Yarry to it. Do you think
there ought to be a minister? There is one here now--Dr. Williams,
who has a church near the Court House."

"Just as you wish, Miss Baron. For one, I think a prayer from Uncle
Lusthah, as you call him, would do just as well and be more in
accordance with Yarry's feelings if he could express them. The old
negro has been in and out nearly all night, waiting on the men, and
has won their goodwill. He certainly is a good old soul."

"I agree with the doctor," added Captain Hanfield. "Were it my case
I'd ask nothing better than a prayer from Uncle Lusthah over my
grave, for he has acted like a good, patient old saint among us."

A murmur of approval from the others followed these words, and so it
was arranged. Uncle Lusthah was soon found, and he followed the girl
to the shadow of a great pine by the run and adjacent to the grassy
plot with which the girl would ever associate Allan Scoville. It was
there that she had looked into his eyes and discovered what her own
heart was now teaching her to understand.

Aun' Jinkey followed them from her cabin and asked, "Wat you gwine
ter do yere, honey?"

"Bury here a Northern soldier who has done me a very great honor."

"Oh, Miss Lou, I des feared ter hab 'im so neah de cabin."

"Hush!" said the girl, almost sternly. "Uncle Lusthah, you ought to
teach mammy better than that."

"Ah, youn' mistis, hit's bred in de bone. I des mourns ober my
people, 'fusin' ter be comf'ted. Yere Aun' Jinkey, gittin' gray lak
me. She a 'fessor ob religion, ye de word 'spook' set her all a
tremble. Ef dey is spooks, Aun' Jinkey, w'at dat ter you? Dere's
tunder en lightnin' en yearthquakes en wurin' iliments en all kin'
ob miseries ob de body. Who gwine ter keep all dem fum yo' cabin?
Reck'n you betteah trus' de Lawd 'bout spooks too."

"You don't believe in any such foolishness, Uncle Lusthah?"

"Well, young mistis, I gettin 'po'ful ole en I al'ays yeared on
spooks sence I kin reckermember. I neber seed one fer sho, but I'se
had strange 'sper'ences o' nights, en dar's dem w'at sez dey has
seen de sperets ob de 'parted. I dunno. Dere's sump'n in folk's
buzzums dat takes on quar sometimes, ez ef we libin' mighty close
onter a worl' we kyant mos' al'ays see. Dat ar doan trouble me
nohow, en Aun' Jinkey orter know bettah. Ef de Lawd 'mits spooks,
dat He business. He 'mits lots ob tings we kyant see troo. Look at
dese yere old han's, young mistis. Dey's wuked nigh on eighty yeah,
yit dey neber wuked fer mysef, dey neber wuked fer wife en chil'n.
Dat mo' quar dan spooks."

"I don't know but you are right," said the girl thoughtfully. "I
didn't know you felt so about being free. Aun' Jinkey never seemed
to trouble much about it."

"I'se 'feared Aun' Jinkey tink a heap on de leeks en inions ob
Egypt."

"Dar now, Uncle Lusthah, you po'ful good man, but you owns up you
doan know nufin' 'bout spooks, en I knows you doan know nufin' 'bout
freedom."

"Yes I does," replied Uncle Lusthah. "Ef de day come w'en I kin
stan' up en say fer sho, 'I own mysef, en God ony my Mars'r,' I kin
starbe ef dat He will. En dat' minds me, young mistis. IS we free?
Perkins growlin' roun' agin dis mawnin', en say we he'p 'bout de
horspital ter-day, but we all go ter wuk ter-morrer. I 'lowed he
orter talk ter us 'bout wages en he des larf en cuss me. Wat's gwine
ter be de end? Marse Scoville en de big Linkum gin'ral say we free,
en Perkins larf 'temptuous like. We des all a-lookin' ter you, young
mistis."

"Oh, uncle! what can I do?"

"Shame on you, Uncle Lusthah, fer pilin' up sech a heap ob 'plexity
on my honey," cried Aun' Jinkey, who was as practical as she was
superstitious. "I kin tell you w'at ter do. I doan projeck en smoke
in my chimbly-corner fer not'n. W'at kin you do but do ez you tole
twel Marse Scoville en de Linkum gin'ral come agin? S'pose you say
you woan wuk en woan 'bey, how you hole out agin Perkins en Mad
Whately? Dey'd tar you all ter pieces. Dey say dis wah fer freedom.
Whar yo' patience twel de wah'll end? De Yanks mus' do mo' dan say
we free; dey mus' keep us free. Dar Aun' Suke. She say she free one
minit en a slabe nex' minute twel her haid mos' whirl off her
shol'ers. Now she say, 'I doan know 'bout dis freedom business; I
does know how ter cook en I'se gwinter cook twel dey gets troo a
whirlin' back en forth.' You says I mus' trus' de Lawd 'bout spooks,
Uncle Lusthah. W'y kyant you trus' de Lawd 'bout freedom?"

The old man shook his head sorrowfully, for Aun' Suke and Aun'
Jinkey's philosophy didn't satisfy him. "I'se willin' ter do my
shar," he said musingly, "de Lawd knows I be. Ef I cud die lak po'
Marse Yarry en de oders fer freedom I'se willin' ter die."

"Now, Uncle Lusthah, your strong feeling and not your good sense
speaks," said Miss Lou, who had been thinking earnestly, meanwhile
recalling Scoville's prediction that the negroes might come to her
for help and counsel. "Aun' Jinkey is certainly right in this case,
and you must tell all our people from me that their only safe course
now is to obey all orders and bide their time. Perkins' authority
would be sustained by all the soldiers on the place and anything
like disobedience would be punished severely. If what Lieutenant
Scoville and the Northern general said is true you will soon be free
without useless risks on your part. If that time comes I want you
and mammy to stay with me. You shall be as free as I am and I'll
give you wages."

"Dar now, young mistis, ef I know I free I bress de Lawd fer de
charnce ter gib my wuk ter you. Dere's a po'ful dif'unce 'twix'
bein' took en kep en des gibin' yosef out ob yo' own heart. Slav'y
couldn't keep me fum gibin' mysef ter de Lawd en I been He free man
many a long yeah, en I be yo' free man, too, fer lub."

"Look yere, now, honey," added Aun' Jinkey, wiping her eyes with her
apron, "you kin bury sogers all 'bout de cabin ef you wanter. Uncle
Lusthah kyant do mo' fer you, honey, ner me, tookin resks ob spooks.
Des bury dem sogers, ef you wanter, right un'er my win'er."




CHAPTER XXVIII

TRUTH IF THE HEAVENS FALL


It was quite natural that the thoughts of Perkins and Mr. Baron
should turn toward the growing crops, neglected by reason of events
unprecedented in their experience. The announcement to the slaves,
first by Scoville and later confirmed by General Marston, of
freedom, had staggered both employer and overseer, but every hour
since the departure of the raiding Union column had been reassuring.

It is not within the province of this story to follow the fortunes
of that force, since it is our modest purpose merely to dwell on
those events closely related to the experiences of the Southern girl
who has won our attention. She had suddenly become secondary in her
uncle's thoughts. A phase of the war, like a sudden destructive
storm, had been witnessed; like a storm, he hoped that it and its
effects would pass away. The South was far from being subdued; the
issue of the conflict unknown. He was the last man in the
Confederacy to foresee and accept new conditions, especially when he
still believed the Southern cause would triumph.

As the confusion of his mind, after the battle, passed he began to
look around and consider what should be done, what could be saved
out of what at first appeared a wreck. When Dr. Ackley assured him
that the house and plantation would be rapidly abandoned as a
hospital, hope and courage revived, while to these was added the
spur of necessity.

He knew that he must "make his crops," or his fortunes would be
desperate. Remembering the value of timely labor in the spring
season, he was eager on this second day after the battle to put his
slaves to work again at their interrupted avocations. Accordingly he
held a consultation with his nephew and Dr. Ackley.

"The hands are becoming demoralized," he said, "by unaccustomed
duties and partial idleness. Some are sullen and others distracted
by all kinds of absurd expectations. Uncle Lusthah, the leader and
preacher among them, even had the impudence to ask Perkins about
wages. The Yankee officers, when here, told them they were free, and
they wish to act as if they were. The sooner that notion is taken
out of their heads the better. This can be done now while my nephew
is here to enforce authority, better than when we are alone again.
It seems to me that a certain number could be detailed for regular
hospital duty and the rest put to work as usual."

"I agree with you, certainly," replied Surgeon Ackley. "Give me a
dozen men and half a dozen women to wash and cook, and I can get
along. Lieutenant Whately, you, at your uncle's suggestion, can make
the detail and enforce discipline among the rest."

"I was going to speak to you about this very matter, uncle," said
Whately. "My overseer has been over and I find the black imps on our
place are in much the same condition as yours, a few venturing to
talk about wages or shares in the crop and all that nonsense. I sent
him back with half a dozen men, armed to the teeth, and told him to
put the hands at work as usual. Mother is going to ride over and
spend part of the day. I don't wish her to be there alone just yet,
and I shall gallop over in time to be on hand when she arrives.
Things are getting settled, my arm is not so painful, and it is time
we pulled ourselves and everything together. You struck the right
note when you said, 'Now is the time to enforce authority.' It must
be done sharply too, and these people taught the difference between
the Yanks' incendiary talk and our rights and positive commands.
From what Perkins says, this old Uncle Lusthah is a fire-brand among
your people. Give your overseer his orders and I'll see that he
carries them out."

Perkins was summoned, acquainted with the policy--just to his mind--
resolved upon, told to pick out the detail for hospital duty and to
have the rest ready for work after an early dinner.

"Go right straight ahead, Perkins," added Whately, "and let me know
if one of these Yankee-made freemen so much as growls."

Dr. Borden was not the kind of man to take upon himself undue
responsibility. He had therefore mentioned to Surgeon Ackley Miss
Baron's wish to give Yarry a special burial by the run and that she
expected to be present.

Ackley good-naturedly acquiesced, saying, "I suppose there can be no
objection to burying the man in a place of Miss Baron's selection,
instead of the one designated by Mr. Baron. It's but a small
concession to her who is so kindly bent on making herself useful.
Let her have her own way in the whole affair."

The spirit of Yarry's turbulent career seemed destined to break out
afresh over his final disposition. Uncle Lusthah went to the
quarters in order to obtain the aid of two or three stout hands in
digging the grave. It so happened that his visit took place during
the adoption of Mr. Baron's policy in dealing with his property and
just before Perkins received his instructions. The negroes not
engaged in labor relating to the hospital gathered around Uncle
Lusthah in the hope of receiving some advice from Miss Lou.
Mournfully the old man told them what she and Aun' Jinkey had said,
adding, "I doan see no oder way fer us des at dis time ob our
triberlation. Ole Pharo sut'ny got he grip on us agin, he sut'ny hab
fer a spell. But brudren en sistas, hit ony lak a cloud comin'
'cross de risin' sun. Let us des wait pashently de times en seasons
ob de Lawd who alone kin brung de true 'liverance."

When he saw the deep, angry spirit of protest he threw up his hands,
crying, "Wat de use? I warn you; I 'treat you, be keerful. Wat could
us do wid our bar han's agin armed men? I tells you we mus' wait or
die lak Moses 'fo' we enter de promis lan'." Then he told them about
Yarry and asked for two or three to volunteer to dig the grave.

A score stepped forward and nearly all expressed their purpose to
attend the funeral. The old man persuaded all but three to remain
near the quarters at present, saying, "So many gwine wid me mout mek
trouble, fer Perkins look ugly dis mawnin'."

"We ugly too," muttered more than one voice, but they yielded to
Uncle Lusthah's caution.

In going to the run Uncle Lusthah and his assistants had to pass
somewhat near the house, and so were intercepted by Perkins and
Whately, both eager to employ at once the tactics resolved upon.

"Where the devil are you goin' with those men and shovels?" shouted
Perkins.

"We gwine ter dig a grabe fer a Linkum soger down by de run,"
replied Uncle Lusthah quietly. "That ain't the place ter plant the
Yanks, you old fool. Go back to the quarters. No words. Leftenant
Whately will detail the hands fer sech work. Back with you. Why in-
don't you mind?"

"I hab my orders fum--"

"Silence!" thundered Whately. "Obey, or you'll go back at the point
of the sabre."

Uncle Lusthah and his companions still hesitated, for they saw Miss
Lou running toward them. She had lingered to talk with Aun' Jinkey
and was returning when she heard Perkins' high, harsh words. The
overseer was in a rage, and limped hastily forward with uplifted
cane, when he was suddenly confronted by the hot face and flashing
eyes of Miss Lou.

"Don't you dare strike Uncle Lusthah," she said sternly.

Her appearance and attitude evoked all the pent-up hate and passion
in the man's nature and he shouted, "By the 'tarnal, I will strike
'im. I've got my orders en I'll find out yere en now whether a
traitor girl or a Southern officer rules this place."

Before the blow could descend she sprang forward, seized his wrist
and stayed his hand.

"Wretch! murderer! coward!" she cried.

"Oh, come, Cousin Lou, this won't do at all," began Whately,
hastening up.

An ominous rush and trampling of feet was heard and an instant later
the negroes were seen running toward them from the quarters and all
points at which the sounds of the altercation reached them.

"Turn out the guard," shouted Whately. "Rally the men here with
carbines and ball-cartridges." He whirled Perkins aside, saying,
"Get out of the way, you fool." Then he drew his sabre and thundered
to the negroes, "Back, for your lives!"

They hesitated and drew together. Miss Lou went directly toward them
and implored, "Go back. Go back. Do what I ask and perhaps I can
help you. If you don't, no one can or will help you. See, the
soldiers are coming."

"We'll 'bey you, young mistis," said Uncle Lusthah, "but we uns lak
ter hab 'splained des what we got ter 'spect. We kyant die but
oncet, en ef we kyant eben bury de sogers dat die fer us--"

"Silence!" shouted Whately. "Forward here, my men. Form line!
Advance! Shoot the first one that resists." He then dashed forward,
sought to encircle his cousin with his arm and draw her out of the
way.

She eluded him and turned swiftly toward the advancing line of men,
crying, "Stop, if there is a drop of Southern blood in your veins."
They halted and stared at her. She resumed, "You will have to walk
over me before you touch these poor creatures. Uncle" (for Mr. Baron
now stood aghast on the scene), "as you are a man, come here with me
and speak, explain to your people. That is all they ask. They have
been told that they were free, and now the oldest and best among
them, who was doing my bidding, almost suffered brutal violence from
a man not fit to live. Where is the justice, right, or sense in such
a course? Tell your people what you wish, what you expect, and that
they will be treated kindly in obeying you."

She recognized that every moment gained gave time for cooler
thoughts and better counsels, also for the restraining presence of
others who were gathering upon the scene. It was in the nature of
her headlong cousin to precipitate trouble without thought of the
consequences; but as she spoke she saw Surgeons Ackley and Borden
running forward. Captain Maynard was already at her side, and
Whately looked as if he could cut his rival down with the weapon in
his hand. While Mr. Baron hesitated Mrs. Whately also reached her
niece and urged, "Brother, I adjure you, go and speak to your
people. They are your people and you should tell them what to expect
before you begin to punish. Go with Surgeon Ackley and settle this
question once for all."

"Yes, Mr. Baron," said Ackley sternly, "we must settle this question
promptly. Such uproar and excitement are bad for my patients and not
to be permitted for an instant."

It was evident that the surgeon was terribly angry. He had been
brought up in the old regular army, and anything like
insubordination or injury to his patients were things he could not
tolerate. Mr. Baron went forward with him and said in a low tone:

"You are virtually in command here and all know it. A few words from
you will have more effect than anything I can say."

"Very well, then," responded the resolute surgeon, and he strode
toward the negroes, not noticing that Miss Lou kept almost at his
side.

"Look here, you people," he began harshly, "do you think I will
permit such disturbances? They may be the death of brave men. Quit
your nonsense at once. You are simply what you've always been.
Yankee words don't make you free any more than they make us throw
down our arms. What happened to the general who said you were free?
We fought him and drove him away. There is only one thing you can do
and MUST do--go to work as before, and woe be to those who make
trouble. That's all."

"No," cried Miss Lou, "that surely cannot be all."

"Miss Baron! What can you mean?"

"I mean that these poor creatures are looking to me, trusting in me,
and I have promised to intercede in their behalf. Tell them at least
this, you or uncle, that if they obey and work quietly and
faithfully they shall not be treated harshly, nor subjected to the
brutal spite of that overseer, Perkins."

"Truly, Miss Baron, you can scarcely expect me to interfere with
your uncle's management of his property. The only thing I can and
will do is to insist on absolute quiet and order on the place. In
this case every one must obey the surgeon-in-charge. Do you
understand that?" he concluded, turning to the negroes. "Neither you
nor any one else can do anything to injure my patients. As you value
your lives, keep quiet. I will not permit even a harsh, disturbing
sound. Do not dare to presume on Miss Baron's kindness, mistaken in
this crisis. This unruly, reckless spirit must be stamped out now.
Your owner and master will tell you what he expects, and I will have
the first man who disobeys SHOT. Miss Baron, you must come with me."

"Yes, sir, but not until I have spoken the truth about this affair.
All your power, Dr. Ackley, cannot keep me dumb when I see such
injustice. You are threatening and condemning without having heard a
word of explanation. Uncle Lusthah and those with him were simply
doing my bidding. Can you think I would stand by and see him cursed
and beaten? These people have not shown any unruly, reckless spirit.
They may well be bewildered, and they only asked what they must
expect. God is my witness, I will cry out 'Shame!' with, my last
breath if they are treated brutally. They will be quiet, they will
do their duty if treated kindly. They shall not appeal to me for
justice and mercy in vain. My words may not help them, but I shall
not stand tamely by like a coward, but will call any man on earth
coward who butchers one of these unarmed negroes."

She stood before them all possessed by one thought--justice. Her
face was very pale, but stern, undaunted and noble in its
expression. She was enabled to take her course from the courage,
simplicity and unconventionality of her nature, becoming utterly
absorbed by her impulse to defend those who looked to her, neither
regarding nor fearing, in her strong excitement, the consequences to
herself.

Dr. Borden was hastening forward to remind Ackley of his promise
concerning Yarry's grave, and to show the girl that he at least
would stand with her; but his chief waved him back. The old surgeon
of the regular army could appreciate courage, and the girl's words
and aspect pierced the thick crust of his military and professional
armor, touching to the quick the man within him. He saw in the brave
young face defiance of him, of the whole world, in her sense of
right, and he had the innate nobility of soul to respect her motive
and acknowledge the justice of her action. Watching her attentively
until she was through speaking he took off his hat, stepped forward
and gave her his hand.

"You are a brave girl," he said frankly. "You are doing what you
think is right and I am proud of you. Tell these people yourself to
go back to their quarters, behave themselves and obey their rightful
master. After your words in their behalf any one who does not obey
deserves to be shot."

She was disarmed and subdued at once. "Ah, doctor," she faltered,
tears in her eyes, "now you've conquered me." Then turning toward
the negroes she cried, "Do just as Dr. Ackley has said. Go quietly
to work and be patient. Uncle Lusthah, you know I told you to do so
before all this happened. I tell you so again and shall expect you
to use all your influence to keep perfect order."

"We 'bey you, young mistis; we tank you fer speakin' up fer us," and
the old man led the way toward the quarters, followed by all his
flock.

Dr. Ackley gave his arm to the girl and led her to the house.
Captain Maynard took off his hat in a very deferential manner as she
passed; she walked on unheeding the salutation. Whately frowned at
him and dropped his hand on the hilt of his sabre. At this pantomime
Maynard smiled contemptuously as he walked away. In a few moments
the scene was as quiet and deserted as it had been crowded and
threatening.

On the way to the house Miss Lou explained more fully the
circumstances relating to the dead soldier, Yarry, and Ackley said
good-naturedly, "I'll have Uncle Lusthah and two others detailed to
dig the grave and you can carry out your intentions; but, Miss
Baron, you must be careful in the future how you let your
inexperience and enthusiasm involve you in conflict with all
recognized authority. We are safely out of this scrape; I can't
answer for anything more."

"Believe me," she said earnestly, "I don't wish to make trouble of
any kind, and after your course toward me, I will seek to carry out
your orders in every way. If I dared I would ask one favor. Uncle
Lusthah is too old to work in the field and he is a kind, good old
man. If you would have him detailed to wait on the wounded--"

"Yes, yes, I will. You are a brave, good-hearted girl and mean well.
I shall rely on your promise to work cordially with me hereafter.
Now go to your room and get calm and rested. You are trembling like
a frightened bird. I'll see your uncle, cousin and Dr. Borden. You
shall bury your chivalrous Yank just as you wish. Then all must go
according to regulations."

She smiled as she gave him her hand, saying, "You may put me under
arrest if I don't mind you in everything hereafter."

"Well," muttered the surgeon, as he looked after her, "to think that
a girl should have a probe long and sharp enough to go straight to
the heart of a man of my age! No wonder Maynard and Whately are over
head and ears."




CHAPTER XXIX

"ANGEL OF DEATH"


It would seem as if the brief tempest of the morning had cleared the
air. Two strong natures had asserted themselves. Surgeon Ackley's
recognition of Miss Lou's spirit and the justice of her plea turned
out to be as politic as it was sincere and unpremeditated. The
slaves learned all they could hope from her or any one now in
authority and were compelled to see the necessity of submission.
Whately was taught another lesson concerning the beauties of
headlong action, while even his egotism was not proof against the
feeling that his cousin's straightforward fearlessness would baffle
all measures opposed to her sense of right. As for Perkins, he began
to fear as well as hate her, seeing her triumph again. The only
reward of his zeal had been Whately's words, "Get out of the way,
you fool." Thereafter, with the exception of the girl's scathing
words, he had been ignored. He had been made to feel that Ackley's
threats had a meaning for him as well as for the negroes, and that
if he needlessly provoked trouble again he would be confronted with
the stern old army surgeon. Having known Whately from a boy he stood
in little fear of him, but was convinced that he could not trifle
with Ackley's patience an instant. He now recognized his danger. In
his rage he had forgotten the wide difference in rank between the
girl he would injure and himself. The courtesy promptly shown to her
by Maynard and especially by the surgeon-in-chief taught him that
one whom he had scarcely noticed as she grew up a repressed,
brooding child and girl, possessed by birth the consideration ever
shown to a Southern lady. He knew what that meant, even if he could
not appreciate her conduct. Maynard had scowled upon him; Mrs.
Whately bestowed merely a glance of cold contempt, while her son had
failed him utterly as an ally. He therefore sullenly drove his
malice back into his heart with the feeling that he must now bide
his time.

Even Mr. Baron was curt and said briefly before he left the ground,
"Be sure you're right before you go ahead. Hereafter give your
orders quietly and let me know who disobeys."

The old planter was at his wit's end about his niece, but even he
was compelled to see that his former methods with her would not
answer. New ideas were being forced upon him as if by surgical
operations. Chief among them was the truth that she could no longer
be managed or restrained by fear or mere authority on the part of
any one. He would look at her in a sort of speechless wonder and ask
himself if she were the child to whom he had supposed himself
infallible so many years. His wife kept on the even tenor of her way
more unswervingly than any one on the place. She was as incapable of
Dr. Ackley's fine sentiment as she was of her nephew's ungovernable
passion. She neither hoped nor tried to comprehend the "perversity"
of her niece, yet, in the perplexed conditions of the time, she
filled a most important and useful niche. Since the wounded men were
to be fed, she became an admirable commissary general, preventing
waste and exacting good wholesome cookery on the part of Aun' Suke
and her assistants.

Poor Yarry was buried quietly at last, Miss Lou, with Dr. Borden,
Captain Hanfield and two or three of his comrades standing
reverently by the grave while Uncle Lusthah offered his simple
prayer. Then the girl threw upon the mound some flowers she had
gathered and returned to her duties as nurse. The remains of the old
Confederate colonel were sent to his family, with the letter which
Miss Lou had written for him. Every day the numbers in the hospital
diminished, either by death or by removal of the stronger patients
to the distant railroad town. Those sent away in ambulances and
other vehicles impressed into the service were looked after by
Surgeon Ackley with official thoroughness and phlegm; in much the
same spirit and manner Dr. Williams presided over the departure of
others to the bourne from which none return, then buried them with
all proper observance. Uncle Lusthah carried around by a sort of
stealth his pearl of simple, vital, hope-inspiring faith, and he
found more than one ready to give their all for it. The old man
pointed directly to Him who "taketh away the sin of the world," then
stood aside that dying eyes might look. With the best intentions Dr.
Williams, with his religious formulas, got directly in the way,
bewildering weak minds with a creed.

Mrs. Whately and her son went and came from their plantation and
were troubled over the condition of things there. The slaves were in
a state of sullen, smouldering rebellion and several of them had
disappeared. "I fear Madison has been too arbitrary," she admitted
to her brother.

Mr. Baron shrugged his shoulders and smoked in silence. Perhaps his
preposterous niece had not been so crazy after all.

Between Maynard and Whately there were increasing evidences of
trouble, which the mother of the latter did her best to avert by
remonstrances and entreaty. On one occasion Whately had said a
little irritably, "I say, Dr. Ackley, what's the use of Maynard's
hanging around here? He is almost well enough for duty."

"It is chiefly out of consideration for you that I am keeping him,"
replied the surgeon gravely, in well-concealed mischief. "It is
clear that he has entered the lists with you for your cousin's hand,
and I could not further his suit better than by sending him away,
especially if it were suspected that I did so at your instigation.
He is doing well here, good-naturedly helps me in my writing and can
soon go direct to his regiment. It seems to me that your cousin
holds a pretty even balance between you, and all a man should want
is a fair field."

Whately walked frowningly away, more than ever convinced that the
surgeon was too good a friend of his rival to interfere.

At the close of the fourth day after the battle there was an arrival
at The Oaks that greatly interested Miss Lou--a stately, white-
haired old lady, the mother of Lieutenant Waldo. She was very pale
and it would have been hard for Surgeon Ackley to meet her agonized
look, her shrinking as if from a blow, were he unable to hold out
any hope.

"Mrs. Waldo," he said gravely, "your son is living and there's a
chance of his getting well. His cheerfulness and absolute quiet of
mind may save him. If he had fretted or desponded he would have died
before this."

"Yes," replied his mother with a great sigh of relief, "I know."

"Miss Baron, will you kindly prepare Waldo for his mother's visit?
Meanwhile, I will tell her a little about his case and our
management of it. He doesn't know that I sent for you, for I was not
sure you could come."

"Is this Miss Baron and one of my son's nurses?"

"Yes, and doing more for him than I--giving him all the bovine
nectar and honeyed words he can take."

"God bless you, my dear. Please let me kiss you."

When Miss Lou entered Waldo's tent he whispered with a laugh, "It's
four hours since you were here."

"No, scarcely two."

"Well, I'm as hungry as if it were four hours."

"That's fine. You're getting right well. Will you be very good and
quiet--not a bit excited, if I let some one else bring you your
supper?"

She beamed upon him so joyously that he exclaimed aloud, with a rush
of tears, "Ah! mother?"

The girl nodded and said, "Now remember, don't break her heart by
being worse."

"Oh, how sweet and lovely of her! I'll get well now, sure."

"That's a nice way to treat your old nurse."

Smilingly he held out his hand and said, "You are almost as pretty
and good as she is, but you aren't mother." Then he added in strong
sympathy, "Forgive me. You haven't any, have you? You don't know
about this mother love."

"I know enough about it to have the heartache for its lack. Now you
must save your strength till she comes. Good-by."

From that hour he steadily gained, banishing the look of anxiety
from his mother's face. Mrs. Whately sighed as she saw how her
niece's heart warmed toward the stranger, and how strong an
attachment was growing between them. "Louise is drifting away from
us all," she thought, "yet I cannot see that she encourages Captain
Maynard."

A genuine friendship had also grown between the girl and Captain
Hanfield, the Federal officer, and she was heartily sorry when he
told her that he would be sent to the railroad town the next day.
"My wound isn't doing well and I seem to be running down," he
explained. "Dr. Borden has been able to keep me thus far, but I must
go to-morrow. Perhaps it's best. He is trying to get me paroled. If
I could only get home to my wife and children I'd rally fast enough.
I'm all run down and this climate is enervating to me."

She tried to hearten him by kind, hopeful words, and he listened to
her with a wistful look on his handsome face. "How I'd like you to
meet my little girl!" he said. "Won't I make her blue eyes open when
I tell her about you!"

Another bond of union between them was the captain's acquaintance
with Scoville, and he soon observed that she listened very patiently
and attentively when he spoke of the brave scout's exploits. "I
declare," he had said, laughing, "I keep forgetting that you are a
Southern girl and that you may not enjoy hearing of the successes of
so active an enemy."

"Lieutenant Scoville is not a personal enemy," she had replied
guardedly. "He showed us all very great kindness, me especially. I
wish that both you and he were on our side."

"Well, as you say down here, I reckon we are on YOUR side any way,"
had been the captain's smiling reply.

She spoke to Surgeon Ackley promptly about the prospects of a
parole, but he said, "Impossible, Miss Baron. The question would at
once arise, 'If granted to Hanfield, why not to others?' I reckon
Borden has been trying to rally his friend by hopes even when
knowing them baseless."

This proved to be the case, and the following day brought the young
girl a strange and very sad experience. Dr. Borden appeared at
breakfast looking troubled and perplexed. Miss Lou immediately
inquired about the captain. The doctor shook his head saying, "He
isn't so well. I'd like to speak with you by and by."

She was so depressed by the surgeon's aspect that she paid little
heed to the conversation of her two admirers and soon left the
table. Borden followed her, and when they were alone began sadly,
"Miss Baron, perhaps I am going to ask of you far too much, but you
have shown yourself to be an unusually brave girl as well as a kind-
hearted one, Hanfield is an old friend of mine and perhaps I've done
wrong to mislead him. But I didn't and couldn't foresee what has
happened, and I did hope to start him in genuine convalescence,
feeling sure that if he got well he would give up the hope of going
home as a matter of course. So far from succeeding, a fatal disease
has set in--tetanus, lock-jaw. He's dying and doesn't know it. I
can't tell him. I've made the truth doubly cruel, for I've raised
false hopes. He continually talks of home and his pleading eyes stab
me. You can soften the blow to him, soothe and sustain him in
meeting what is sure to come."

"Oh, is there no hope?"

"None at all. He can't live. If you feel that the ordeal would be
too painful--I wouldn't ask it if I hadn't seen in you unexpected
qualities."

"Oh, I must help him bear it; yet how can I? how shall I?"

"Well, I guess your heart and sympathy will guide you. I can't. I
can only say you had better tell him the whole truth. He ought to
know it for his own and family's sake now, while perfectly rational.
Soften the truth as you can, but you can't injure him by telling it
plainly, for he will die. God knows, were it my case, the tidings
wouldn't seem so very terrible if told by a girl like you."

"Oh, but the tidings are so terrible to speak, especially to such a
man. Think of his beautiful wife and daughter, of his never seeing
them again. Oh, it's just awful," and her face grew white at the
prospect.

"Yes, Miss Baron, it is. In the midst of all the blood and carnage
of the war, every now and then a case comes up which makes even my
calloused heart admit, 'It's just awful.' I'm only seeking to make
it less awful to my poor friend, and perhaps at too great cost to
you."

"Well, he on his side, and others on ours, didn't count the cost;
neither must I. I must not think about it or my heart will fail me.
I will go at once."

"Come then, and God help you and him."

A straw-bed had been made up in a large, airy box-stall where the
captain could be by himself. Uncle Lusthah was in attendance and he
had just brought a bowl of milk.

Borden had left Miss Lou to enter alone. The captain held out his
hand and said cheerfully, "Well, it's an ill wind that blows
nowhere. This one will blow me home all the sooner I trust, for it
must be plainer now than ever that I need the home change which will
put me on my feet again. You needn't look so serious. I feel only a
little more poorly than I did--sore throat and a queer kind of
stiffness in my jaws as if I had taken cold in them."

"Do I look very serious?" she faltered.

"Yes, you look as if troubled about something. But there, see what
an egotistic fellow I am! As if you hadn't troubles of your own!
pretty deep ones, too, I fear. Our coming here has given you a
wonderful experience, Miss Baron. No matter; you've met it like a
soldier and will have much to remember in after years. You can never
become a commonplace woman now and there are such a lot of 'em in
the world. When I remember all you have done for us it makes me ill
to think of some in our town--giggling, silly little flirts, with no
higher ambition than to strut down the street in a new dress."

"Oh, don't think of them or over-praise me. Perhaps if they had been
here and compelled to face things they would have done better than
I. A short time ago I didn't dream of these experiences, and then I
would have said I couldn't possibly endure them."

"Well, you have," resumed the captain, who was slightly feverish,
excited and inclined to talk. "One of my dearest hopes now is to get
back to my little girl soon and deepen her mind by making her
ashamed of the silly things in a girl's life. Of course I wish her
to be joyous and happy as a young thing should be, as I think you
would be if you had the chance. By means of your story I can make
her ashamed ever to indulge in those picayune, contemptible feminine
traits which exasperate men. I want her to be brave, helpful,
sincere, like you, like her mother. How quickly poor Yarry
recognized the spirit in which you came among us at first! Jove! I
didn't think him capable of such feeling. I tell you, Miss Baron,
the roughest of us reverence an unselfish woman--one who doesn't
think of herself first and always. She mayn't be a saint, but if she
has heart enough for sympathy and is brave and simple enough to
bestow it just as a cool spring gushes from the ground, we feel she
is the woman God meant her to be. Ah, uncle, that reminds me--
another cup of that cold water. For some reason I'm awfully thirsty
this morning."

Miss Lou listened with hands nervously clasping and unclasping,
utterly at a loss to know how to tell the man, dreaming of home and
planning for the future, that he must soon sleep beside poor Yarry.
She had already taken to herself the mournful comfort that his grave
also should be where she could care for it and keep it green.

"I wish to tell you more about my little Sadie and my wife. Some
day, when this miserable war is over, you will visit us. We'll give
you a reception then which may turn even your head. Ha! ha! you
thought we'd be worse than Indians. Well, I'll show you a lot of our
squaws in full evening dress and you'll own that my wife is the
prettiest in the tribe. Every day, until we started on this blasted
raid, I received a letter from her. I knew about as well what was
going on at home as if there. With my wife it was love almost at
first sight, but I can tell you that it's not 'out of sight out of
mind' with us. Time merely adds to the pure, bright flame, and such
a pair of lovers as we shall be when gray as badgers will be worth a
journey to you."

Miss Lou could maintain her self-control no longer. She burst into
tears and sobbed helplessly.

"You poor little girl," exclaimed the captain in deep commiseration.
"Here I've been talking like a garrulous fool when your heart is
burdened with some trouble that perhaps you would like to speak to
me about. Tell me, my child, just as little Sadie would."

"My heart is burdened with trouble, captain; it feels as if it would
break when I hear you talk so. Would to God little Sadie were here,
and your beautiful wife too! Oh, what shall I say? How can I, how
can I?"

"Miss Baron!" he exclaimed, looking at her in vague alarm.

"Oh, Captain Hanfield, you are a brave, unselfish man like Yarry.
Don't make it too hard for me. Oh, I feel as if I could scarcely
breathe."

As he saw her almost panting at his side and tears streaming from
her eyes, the truth began to dawn upon him. He looked at her
steadily and silently for a moment, then reached out his hand as he
said in an awed whisper, "Is it on account of me? Did Borden send
you here?"

She took his hand, bowed her forehead upon it and wept speechlessly.

She felt it tremble for a moment, then it was withdrawn and placed
on her bowed head. "So you are the angel of death to me?" the
officer faltered.

Her tears were her only, yet sufficient answer. Both were silent,
she not having the heart to look at him.

At last he said in deep tones, "I wasn't expecting this. It will
make a great change in"--and then he was silent again.

She took his limp hand and bowed her forehead on it, as before
feeling by some fine instinct that her unspoken sympathy was best.

It was. The brave man, in this last emergency, did as he would have
done in the field at the head of his company if subjected to a
sudden attack. He promptly rearranged and marshalled all his
faculties to face the enemy. There was not a moment of despairing,
vain retreat. In the strong pressure upon his mind of those
questions which must now be settled once for all, he forgot the girl
by his side. He was still so long that she timidly raised her head
and was awed by his stern, fixed expression of deep abstraction. She
did not disturb him except as the stifled sobs of her deep, yet now
passing agitation convulsed her bosom, and she began to give her
attention to Uncle Lusthah, hitherto unheeded. The old man was on
his knees in a dusky corner, praying in low tones. "Oh, I'm so glad
he's here," she thought. "I'm glad he's praying God to help us
both." In the uncalculating sympathy and strength of her nature she
had unconsciously entered into the dying man's experience and was
suffering with him. Indeed, her heart sank with a deeper dread and
awe than he from the great change which he had faced so often as to
be familiar with its thought.

At last he seemed to waken to her presence and said compassionately,
"Poor little girl! so all your grief was about me. How pale you
are!"

"I do so wish you could go home," she breathed; "I am so very, VERY
sorry."

"Well, Miss Baron," he replied with dignity, "I'm no better than
thousands of others. I always knew this might happen any day. You
have learned why it is peculiarly hard for me--but that's not to be
thought of now. If I've got my marching orders, that's enough for a
soldier. It was scarcely right in Borden to give you this heavy
task. I could have faced the truth from his lips."

"He felt so dreadfully about it," she replied. "He said he had been
giving you false hopes in trying to make you get well."

"Oh, yes, he meant kindly. Well, if it hasn't been too much for you,
I'm glad you told me. Your sympathy, your face, will be a sweet
memory to carry, G--od only knows where. Since it can't be little
Sadie's face or my wife's I'm glad it's yours. What am I saying? as
if I should forget their dear faces through all eternity."

"Ah! captain, I wish you could hear one of our soldiers, talk. Dying
with him just means going to Heaven."

The officer shook his head. "I'm not a Christian," he said simply.

"Neither am I," she replied, "but I've been made to feel that being
one is very different from what I once thought it was."

"Well, Miss Baron, what is it to be a Christian--what is your idea
of it? There has always seemed to me such a lot of conflicting
things to be considered--well, well, I haven't given the subject
thought and it's too late now. I must give my mind to my family and--"

Uncle Lusthah stepped before him with clasped hands and quivering
lips. "Ef marse cap'n des list'n ter de ole man a minit. I ain't
gwine ter talk big en long. I kyant. I des wanter say I hab
'spearance. Dat sump'n, marse cap'n, you kyant say not'n agin--
rale 'spearance, sump'n I KNOWS."

"Well, you kind old soul, what do you know?"

"P'raps des what mars'r knows ef he ony tinks a lil. Let us git
right down ter de root ob de marter, kaze I feared dere ain' time
fer 'locutions."

"Now you're right at least, uncle. I must set my house in order. I
must write to my wife."

"Marse cap'n, you gwine on a journey. Wa't yo' wife wish mo'n dat
you git ready fer de journey? She tek dat journey too, bime by soon,
en you bof be at de same deah home."

"Ah, uncle, if that could be true, the sting of death would be
gone."

"Sut'ny, marse cap'n. Didn't I know dat ar w'en I mek bole ter
speak? Now des tink on hit, mars'r. Yere I is, an ole ign'rant
slabe, kyant eben read de good Book. De worl' full ob poor folks lak
me. Does you tink ef de Lawd mean ter sabe us't all He'd do hit in
some long rounerbout way dat de wise people kyant mos' fin' out? No,
bress He gret big heart, He des stan' up en say to all, 'Come ter me
en I gib you res'."

"Yes, uncle, but I haven't gone to Him. I don't know how to go, and
what's more, I don't feel it's right to go now at the last minute as
if driven by fear."

"Now, cap'n, fergib de ole man fer sayin' you all wrong. Haint young
mistis been breakin' her lil gyurlish heart ober yo' trouble? Am de
Lawd dat die fer us wuss'n a graven himage? Doan He feel fer you
mo'n we kin? I reck'n you got des de bes' kin' of prep'ration ter go
ter 'Im. You got trouble. How He act toward folks dat hab trouble--
ev'y kin' ob trouble? Marse cap'n, I des KNOWS dat de Lawd wanter
brung you en yo' wife en dat lil Sadie I year you talk 'bout all
togeder whar He is. I des KNOWS hit. Hit's 'spearance."

"Miss Baron," said the captain calmly, "Isn't it wonderful? This old
slave says he knows what, if true, is worth more to me than all the
accumulated wisdom of the world. What do you think of it?"

"It seems as if it ought to be true," she answered earnestly. "I
never so felt before that it OUGHT to be true. We never should have
been born, or given such love as you have for your dear ones, if it
isn't true. Oh, to be just snatched hopelessly away from such ties
is horrible. My whole soul revolts at it."

"See here, uncle," said the captain almost sternly, "I'm not going
to groan, sigh, weep, and take on in any of your camp-meeting
tactics. I am before the last great enemy and I know how to meet him
like a man and soldier, if not a Christian. I'm willing to do
anything not insincere or unmanly to meet my wife and children
again. If my thought and feeling for them at this time isn't right,
then I've been created wrong."

"Marse cap'n, I'se seen de mos' po'ful feelin's en miseries ob de
'victed ones vaperate lak de maunin' dew en I'se larn in my ole age
dat de sabin po'r ain' in we uns, ner in any ting we is ob oursefs
ner in w'at we po' lil chil'n of yearth kin do. De Lawd say, He come
ter seek en sabe de loss; I wuz loss. De wuss ting He enemies cud
speak agin 'Im wuz, Dis man 'ceiveth sinners: I wuz a sinner. I des
arst 'Im ter sabe me, en He did. I des trus' 'Im fer life en death
en does de bes' I kin. Dat's all. But hit's 'SPEARANCE, marse cap'n,
en I KNOWS hit. Now, marse cap'n, w'at fo' you go way in the de
dark, you dunno whar? De bressed Lawd say, I go ter prepare a place
fer you. Now you des let young mistis write ter yo' folks dat you
gwine wid Jesus ter dat ar place en dat you gwine ter wait fer dem
dar en welcome urn home bime by des lak dey wud welcome you home way
up Norf. Dat ud comf't em a heap, en hit's all true. I knows hit.
Young mistis berry sens'ble w'en she say we neber orter be bawn ef
hit ain' true."

The officer looked fixedly at the tearful, wrinkled face for a few
moments and then said firmly, "I'll soon find out if it's true. If I
do this thing at all, I'll do it in the only way I can. Miss Baron,
you may write to my wife that I accept her faith. It's much the same
as Uncle Lusthah's--too simple and unphilosophical, I used to think;
but it meets my need now. I can't deal even with God in any other
way than this. The mind he has endowed me with revolts at anything
else as hypocritical. I can and do say that I will accept in
grateful, downright sincerity the terms which Uncle Lusthah
accepted, which my wife accepted. I submit myself to His will. I do
this calmly, as I would give my hand and pledge my faith to a man,
and I cannot do any more. Now He may do with me as He pleases. Miss
Baron, you do the same and you'll be just as good--yes, a much
better Christian than I, for I've done rough, bad things in my life.
Don't you wait till you're in my extremity. I must say that I have a
wretched sense of self-contempt that I am looking Heavenward with
dying eyes. There's only one thing that reconciles me to it--the
words 'Our Father.' God knows that I'd open my arms to my little
Sadie under any possible circumstances. What the old man here says
must be true, for to trifle with or mock a man in my position
presupposes a degree of malignity inconceivable. I ask nothing
better than that Christ will receive me as I would receive my child
from world-wide wandering."

"Ah, bress He big gret heart," cried Uncle Lusthah, dropping on his
knees, "w'en yo' fader en yo' moder forsook you den de Lawd took you
up."

"Miss Baron, I wish to think a while and learn from Borden just how
much time I have left. You will come to me again?"

"Yes, whenever you wish."

"Well, then, good-by for a short time. Thank God for sending me such
an angel of death. You stay with me, uncle, till I send you for
Borden."




CHAPTER XXX

GLIMPSES OF MOODS AND MINDS


Dr. Borden's predictions were verified in regard to his friend and
patient, Captain Hanfield, but not before the officer had dictated
calm, farewell letters to his wife and "little Sadie." To Miss Lou
were left the serene, smiling likenesses, a grave to be cared for
beside Yarry's, and a memory that could never be blotted out. She
was kept from witnessing the terrible convulsions which began soon
after her interview, but was present at his death and held his hand
until it was cold and lifeless.

Within two weeks after the battle very few patients were left, and
all these were to go with Dr. Ackley on the following day,
Lieutenant Waldo excepted. He was still too weak to be moved. His
mother had become so skilful in the care of his wound that she would
be competent, with the help of an aged resident practitioner, to
carry him through his convalescence. Mrs. Whately now spent most of
the time on her plantation, her presence being needed there to
remedy the effects, as far as possible, of the harsh measures at
first adopted by her son. It was discouraging effort. The strong ebb
tide in the old order of things had set in even far from the Union
lines, and only the difficulty in reaching them prevented a general
stampede of the negroes. As it was, two or three of her best hands
would steal away from time to time, and run the gantlet of many
dangers in their travel by night Northward. Her attempts to mollify
and render her slaves contented were more than counterbalanced by
the threats and severity of her son, who was too vacillating to
adopt a fixed policy, and arbitrary by nature.

Her chief hope for him still centred in Miss Lou, upon whom his
thoughts were fixed with a steadfastness and earnestness which his
mother fondly believed would win her eventually, "I'm sure," she
reasoned, "Captain Maynard has made no deep impression. He is about
to depart. All will soon be gone, and the old monotony of plantation
life will be resumed. After what has happened Louise will not be
able to endure this. Madison will return, older and wiser from
experience and she, with nothing else to occupy her thoughts will
react, like all impulsive natures, from her opposition. Next to
winning her or her favor from the start, he has scored a success in
waking a hostility far removed from fatal indifference."

She maintained an affectionate manner toward her niece and never
discussed the hope she entertained and expectation of calling her
daughter. In truth, she had won the girl's respect and goodwill in a
very high degree. She had been a kind and successful nurse among the
wounded, confining her efforts chiefly to the Confederates. She had
also been a dignified lady in all the scenes they had passed
through. Her weakness was her son, yet the girl was compelled to
admit that it was the weakness of love. In seeking to bring about
the detested union a motherly heart and feeling toward her had ever
been apparent.

The girl was already becoming depressed by a presentiment of the
dull, stagnant days to come. Scoville had been lost in the great
outside, unknown world completely. She was suffering from reaction
after the strong excitements and fatigues of her experience. Her two
lovers, remaining on the scene, possessed a sort of goading interest
which compelled her to think of them, but she contemplated their
near departure without regret. Nothing in her nature answered to
their looks, words and evident desires. She felt that she would as
soon marry one as the other, and that she would rather be buried
beside Captain Hanfield and take the journey of which Uncle Lusthah
had quaintly spoken than wed either. Yet in her lassitude she feared
that she could now be compelled to marry either or any one if enough
active force was employed, so strangely had ebbed her old fearless
spirit.

It were with a kind of wondering pity that she looked at Maynard and
saw the evidences of an honest, ardent attachment. "Why does he feel
so?" she asked herself. "I have done nothing for him, given no
encouragement, and would not care if I never saw him again. I merely
wish him well, as I do so many others. Why can't he see this, and
just act on the truth? He says he is coming to see me every chance
he gets and tries to make me feel that he'll never give me up.
Perhaps if I should let him speak plainly he would see how useless
it all would be."

Circumstances apparently favored the half-formed purpose. Languid
from the heat of the day, she went out on the piazza after supper,
sat down on the upper step and leaned against a rose-entwined
pillar. Maynard was entranced by the picture she made and promptly
availed himself of the opportunity. Every one else had disappeared
except Zany, of whom glimpses could be caught through the open
windows of the supper-room; but she did not count. Sitting on a
lower step so as to be in a measure at her feet Maynard began.

"Miss Baron, I am thinking very sadly, if you are not, over the fact
that I am to go away in the morning."

"Yes," she replied, half-consciously ignoring his personal view,
"the old house and plantation will soon be as quiet and deserted as
before."

"Do you regret this?"

"I scarcely know. I am very tired and feel sad over all that has
happened. Perhaps I'll feel differently by and by, when I've rested
and had time to think."

"Oh, Miss Baron, if you knew how earnestly I hope to be remembered
in those thoughts, to give you something definite to think of."

She had scarcely the energy to check him, the thought occurring more
than once, "I might just as well let him speak his mind and see how
vain his hope is."

"You have not given me encouragement," he resumed. "You have seemed
too preoccupied, sad or weary; but this phase of your life will pass
away. Our glorious cause must soon be crowned with success. If I
survive, may I not hope that when I come again you will give me a
hearing, a chance? I can be patient, even though not patient by
nature. I will do all that a man--"

"Captain," interrupted the girl, at last, "I suppose, from the books
I've read, I should make some fine speeches about the honor you are
bestowing on me, and all that. I'm too tired and sad for anything
conventional and appropriate. I'm just going to answer you like a
simple, honest girl. One of my chief reasons for sadness is that you
feel as you do. I see no reason for it. I'm glad you say I've given
you no encouragement, I know I have not. Why should you care so for
me when I do not and cannot respond at all? I do sincerely wish you
well, but it seems to me that it should be enough for a man when a
girl listens to such words as yours in weary sadness only."

"It may be hard indeed for a man to recognize this truth, Miss
Baron, but I am not speaking of the present--of the future rather.
There has been much to make you sad and weary. Your very youth and
high spirit will soon lead you to react from your present
depression. Let me speak of the future. Please let me fill that with
hope for you and for me."

"Oh, I don't know about the future. For some reason I dread even to
think of it."

At this instant Whately galloped to the piazza, threw the reins on
the neck of his horse as he dismounted, evidently not caring in his
perturbation where the animal wandered. He was in a bad mood, for
things were not going smoothly at home. The attitude of his rival at
his cousin's feet stung him into a jealous rage and he remarked
bitterly as he strode past them, "Don't let my inopportune arrival
disturb this charming tete-a-tete. In fact, I had no business to
remain at my uncle's home at all, even at the call of duty, after
Captain Maynard signified his intention of making it the long-
continued field of his operations."

Cut to the quick, Maynard sprang to his feet, but Miss Lou merely
made a gesture of annoyance and went to her room.

"Lieutenant Whately," began the captain in low, stern tones, "were I
not in some sense a guest, even though an unwelcome one--"

"You are no guest of mine, sir, nor indeed of anyone that I am aware
of."

"Thank you. I was haunted by some restraining consideration of
Southern hospitality, but if I am free--"

"You are perfectly free, sir," again interrupted Whately, dropping
his hand on the hilt of his sabre. "Let me also add that a Southern
gentleman would not have made Southern hospitality a subterfuge for
an opportunity to press a suit repugnant to the family concerned. We
have never failed in hospitality to any invited guest."

"Your words are offensive, sir."

"I mean them to be so."

"Very well; then I have but one answer. I challenge you. Choose your
weapons, hour and place of meeting."

"Revolvers, if you please. Meet me back of the grove yonder, at the
right of the house, at daybreak."

"I'll not fail you. There is no need of seconds in this affair, I
take it, and we are to keep our purpose secret. Dr. Ackley would
interfere and the family be distressed were our intentions known."

"No one need know till our shots are heard and then it will be too
late to interfere. I insist that we fight to the death."

"Certainly, if that's your wish. Good-evening, sir."

"Good-evening," and Whately went to his room to remove the dust of
his ride and prepare for the late supper which his aunt had ordered
for him.

This lady, hearing his step in the hall, hastened downstairs and
called for Zany. "Yassum," came in quick response. The young woman
emerged from the dining-room looking as stolid as a wooden image.

"Attend to Lieutenant Whately's supper and see that he has the best
you can get for him."

"Yassum."

Mrs. Baron then repaired to her husband's office, where he and
Surgeon Ackley were closeted, making up the accounts relating to the
occupation of the property for hospital purposes. Maynard lighted
his pipe, and strolled out into the grounds. He was in a cold,
deadly mood of anger. There was just enough sting of truth in
Whately's words to make the insult unendurable. Added to this was
intense exasperation that he had been interrupted at a critical and,
as he believed, a hopeful, moment. He had seen that the girl was not
ready for his suit or that of any one at present, but was quite sure
he could have won permission to renew his addresses in the future.
Now--well, he was ready enough to fight to the death and utterly
oblivious of the still, serene beauty of the night. He appeared but
a shadow as he walked quietly under the trees, but it was a shadow
of death. An hour since and he was but a passionate youth, full of
ardent love and longing, vaguely inspired, under the influence of
his passion, toward all noble enthusiasms. At the touch of a few
words his heart overflowed with bitterness, and a cold, vindictive
hate rendered the hours interminable till he could aim a bullet at
his rival's heart, reckless meantime that another bullet was aimed
at his.

In his walk he passed the tent in which Lieutenant Waldo and his
mother were talking quietly of their home and the prospects of
maintaining it during the troublous times clearly foreseen.

"Mother," said Waldo, "have you any definite idea as to the success
of our arms?"

"No, Vincent, nor do I suppose we can at this remote plantation. We
only know that there is heavy fighting at various points and great
successes are claimed; but it seems very hard to get at the real
truth. Our chief confidence must be in the sacredness and justness
of our cause and in the prayers of so many sincere hearts to the God
of justice. In giving you, my son, to our country, when you were
scarcely more than a boy, you can understand why I feel that such
sacrifices cannot be in vain. Now that I have watched beside you in
your patient, heroic suffering, the feeling becomes a conviction
that our sunny land must be enriched and blessed for all time by
such blood as yours."

"Well, mother, I do not begrudge my blood or my life. You have
taught me that to die is gain; but almost hourly I pray for recovery
that I may soon rejoin my regiment and do more toward achieving our
liberty. How strange it is that men of the North should be animated
by much the same spirit! Miss Baron has been showing me the lovely
faces of the wife and daughter of a Federal officer who died
heroically a few days ago. She says the war is all a dreadful
mystery to her."

"I am beginning to understand her better," replied Mrs. Waldo
musingly, "for to some extent she has given me her confidence. If
she had been brought up as you have been she would feel as you do. I
can see why her uncle and aunts have not won her sympathy, while her
cousin's conduct has been well calculated to alienate her. I can
also understand why the negroes on the place have so enlisted her
sympathy. I do not think they have been treated very harshly, but it
is too clear that they are regarded simply as property, and Mr.
Baron has allowed himself to be represented among them by a brutal,
coarse-fibred man. If she had been your sister and had witnessed the
spirit in which our slaves are governed and cared for she would feel
as you do, not vindictive hatred of the North--such feeling is not
permissible toward any of the human race--but a stern, lofty spirit
of independence, such as our fathers had in separating from
England."

"Well, she is a brave, good girl, mother, and has been as kind to me
as if I were her brother."

"Very true, Vincent. She is a remarkably good girl for one brought
up as she has been. She has told me much about her past repressed,
unhappy life. I hope she may visit us some day."

Meantime, the subject of this conversation sat at her window looking
out into the warm, fragrant, starlit night. The words of Maynard,
the passionate resentment of her cousin toward the young captain
merely added to the heavy burden of experience which had been
crowded into the past few weeks. "Oh," she sighed longingly, "if I
could only see Allan Scoville! He is so strong, unselfish and
restful. I could tell him everything. He would know just how weary
and depressed I am, nor would he want me to do what I can't, what
I'm not ready for. Oh, what a blessed thing it would be to have a
friend near who wasn't always exacting or expecting or passionately
urging something or other. I wouldn't need urging in his case, and
would even know his hand would be the first to restrain me for my
own good. Where is he now? Oh, he'd be here if my thoughts could
bring him, yet my two lovers would be eager to take his life. Lovers
indeed! Well, it's a strange, tangled up world that I'm learning
about."

Meantime Zany, bursting with her secret, was unable to tell any one,
and not yet sure she wished to tell. For one at her point of
civilization her motives were a little complex and sophisticated. In
a vicarious way she felt not a little the elation of many a high-
born dame that two men were about to fight over her young mistress,
regarding it as an undeniable compliment. She was also inclined to
indulge the cynical thought that it might save Miss Lou, Scoville,
Chunk--indeed, all in whom she was interested--further trouble if,
as she phrased it, "Dat ar young cap'n gib Mad Whately he way onst
too of'un. He des natchelly bawn ter mek folks trouble en I reck'n
we git on wid he spook bettah ner hesef."

Whately would not have relished his supper if he had divined the
thoughts of his waitress. As it was, he had little appetite for it
and paid his respects chiefly to his uncle's decanter. He felt no
need of false courage, but was irritated and depressed over the
general aspect of affairs, and here was an easy way of raising his
spirits. By the time he was ready to dispense with Zany's services
he was so affected by his potations that his aunt, who had appeared
on the scene, hastened his retirement. He told the sergeant of the
guard to have him called at daybreak and was soon asleep.

The indomitable housekeeper, Mrs. Baron, kept the girl busy until
everything was put away and the dining-room in perfect order.
Meantime Zany concluded that she had better tell Miss Lou. Her young
mistress might blame her severely if she did not, and keeping such a
secret over night would also be a species of torture.

When she was dismissed she watched her opportunity, whisked up to
Miss Lou's room, and was glad to find the girl still awake.

"Oh, Miss Lou," she whispered breathlessly, "I des got de orfulest,
quarest news, en I darsn't kep hit eny longer. Marse cap'n en Mad
Whately gwine ter fight 'bout you fo' sun-up."

"What!"

"Dey sut'ny is. Dey gwine ter fight one anoder 'bout you wid
'volvers--fight ter de deth dey said. I yeared dem troo de dine-room
winders."

"Oh, Zany! this is horrible!"

"Hit mout be wuss. Yo' cousin hot fer hit. He say orful tings ter
marse cap'n who didin't gib back a inch en sez, sez he, 'I challing
you. Shoose yo' weapons en place ob meetin" Dem he berry words. Den
yo' cousin shose 'volvers en de far side ob de grobe up dar en said
'we fight ter de deth.' Deth useter seem orful, Miss Lou, but sech a
heap ob mens die dat ef Mad Whately des set on dyin', w'y not let
'im hab he way? Dat orter suit 'im bes'. I reck'n he mek we uns en
Marse Scoville en Chunk berry lil trouble arter he dead."

"Zany, Zany, that's a dreadful way to look at it. You should know
better. This meeting must be prevented. Where is my cousin?"

"He des sound a sleep ez a log," and she made it clear that there
would be no use in trying to remonstrate with him.

"Where's Captain Maynard?"

"Dunno. Sleepin' in he tent too, s'pose. Hit too late now, Miss Lou,
ter do anyting fo' mawnin'."

The girl thought deeply a few moments and then muttered, "Shame on
them both!"

"Dar now, Miss Lou, you doan reckermember dey payin' you a big
compelment."

"I shall tell them to their faces how I regard this outrage rather.
Still, for their sakes, as well as my own, I will keep the affair
quiet if I can. Zany, you must stay with me to-night and at the
earliest dawn we must watch them and be on the ground as soon as
they are."

"Berry well, Miss Lou. I lak not'n bettah."

"Go to sleep, then. I won't sleep to-night."




CHAPTER XXXI

THE DUELLISTS VANQUISHED


Zany's tidings brought the spur of a great necessity to Miss Lou's
jaded spirit, and as her waking thoughts dwelt on the proposed
encounter, a slow, deep anger was kindled in her mind. "What right
have they to do such a thing?" she asked herself over and over
again. Even more than at, the barbarism of the act she revolted at
its injustice. "I never wronged either of them," she repeated, "and
here they are recklessly bent on what would imbitter my life. The
idea of being fought about! Two animals couldn't do worse."

And so the long night was passed in bitter, painful thoughts. With
the dawning the bird's innocent songs jarred on her overwrought
senses. She looked out of the window by which she had kept her
vigil, inhaled the dewy freshness of the air and then bathed her
tired, hot eyes.

"To think that men would disturb the peace of such a morning by
their miserable, causeless hate! Where is Madison's love for his
mother? Why don't they remember the distress and horror that would
follow their mad act? Zany, wake up. It is time we were on the
watch."

Even as she spoke there was a heavy step in the outer hall, that of
the sergeant coming to wake Lieutenant Whately. Miss Lou glanced
from her window in time to see Captain Maynard striding from his
tent toward the grove which would screen the combatants from
observation. Waiting a few moments for the sergeant to retire she
and Zany slipped down and out before Whately left his room. They
reached the grove from the back entrance of the house, and
concealing themselves in some copse-wood, watched for Whately's
coming. He soon appeared, walking rapidly as if fearing to be behind
time. He was in fact some moments late, having stopped to advise
Perkins of the affair on hand. He passed so near his cousin's leafy
screen that she could look into his flushed, troubled face and could
hear him mutter, "Curse it all! I'm forever getting into scrapes."

For the first time since Zany's news, pity overcame her anger and
she murmured, "Poor spoiled boy! It's well for you and your mother
that I'm here."

Swiftly she followed him through the still dusky grove, keeping the
boles of trees between herself and his form. Beyond the grove was an
open grassy field, facing the east, where the light was distinct.
Clearly outlined against the rose-tinted horizon was the figure of
Maynard standing with his arms folded and his back toward them,
apparently lost in deep thought.

"Well, sir," said Whately sternly, "I suppose I should asked your
pardon for keeping you waiting."

"I reckon there's plenty of time for the purpose of our meeting,"
replied Maynard coolly. "Since you are the challenged party and we
have no seconds, arrange the matter to suit yourself."

Whately was about to pace off the ground when a girl's voice rang
out clearly, "Stop that!"

"Miss Baron!" cried Maynard, taking off his hat.

Whately threw back his head proudly. This was better than he had
dreamed, for now his cousin would be compelled to recognize his high
and haughty spirit. A glance at the girl's pale, stern face as she
stepped out between them was not altogether reassuring. She glanced
coldly from one to the other for a moment and then said firmly, "I
have something to say about this affair."

"Pardon me, Miss Baron," Maynard began, bowing, "if I am compelled
to disabuse your mind. This is a little matter between Lieutenant
Whately and myself. I am surprised beyond measure that he has
invited you to be present."

"That's a lie," thundered Whately, drawing his weapon from his belt.

"Stop, both of you," cried the girl. "Captain Maynard, my cousin has
not invited me. Your purpose of meeting was discovered by accident
and revealed to me late last night--too late for me to do anything
then. All the long night I have sat at my window that I might be in
time to keep you from disgracing yourselves and me."

"Great heavens! Miss Baron, you do me injustice," cried Maynard. "I
have been insulted. I never thought of wronging you. Perish such a
thought!"

"Evidently neither of you has thought of me, nor cared for me or
others. Yourselves, your own vindictive feelings have engrossed you
wholly, yet I know I'm the innocent cause of this brutal encounter,
and the world would know me to be the cause whether it believed me
innocent or not. I tell you plainly that if you fight I shall brand
you both unworthy the name of gentlemen and I shall proclaim to all
your outrage to me."

"Outrage to you, Miss Baron?" said Maynard, with a bitter,
incredulous laugh.

"Yes," she replied, turning upon him fiercely. "What can you think
of me when you fight about me like a wild beast?"

"I am prepared to fight Lieutenant Whately on entirely different
grounds," he replied, his face flushing hotly at her words.

"You cannot do it, sir. I would know, and so would all, that I was
the cause. What right, sir, have you to imbitter my life, to fill my
days and nights with horror? I never wronged you."

"But, Miss Baron, in all ages such encounters have been common
enough when a man received ample provocation, as I have."

"So much the worse for the ages then. I say that you both were about
to commit a selfish, cowardly, unmanly act that would have been an
outrage in its cruelty to an innocent girl, to whom you had been
making false professions of regard."

"Now, by the God who made me, that's not true, Miss Baron."

"Cousin Lou, you are beside yourself," cried Whately.

"Miss Baron," said Maynard, coming to her side and speaking with
great earnestness, "I can endure any charge better than your last.
No man ever declared truer love than I to you."

"I can tell you of a man who has declared truer love," she replied,
looking him steadily in the eyes.

"Who in God's name?" he asked savagely.

"Any man who thought more of the girl than of himself," she answered
with passionate pathos in her tones, "any man who considered her
before his own reckless, ungovernable feelings, who would save her
heart from sorrow rather than gratify his anger. Any man who asks,
What is best for the woman I love? instead of What's my humor? what
will please me? Suppose you both had carried out your savage
impulses, and lay on this ground, wounded or dead, what would be
said at the house there about me? What would be your mother's fate,
Madison, that you might gratify a causeless spite? Have you no home,
Captain Maynard, no kindred who would always curse my name? If you
had died like the brave men who lie in yonder graves your friends
would ever speak your name proudly; but even I, all inexperienced,
know the world well enough to be only too sure, they would hang
their heads and say you flung away your life for a heartless girl
who was amusing herself at your expense. Fight if you will, but if
you do, I pledge you my word that I will never willingly look upon
either of you again, living or dead!"

She was about to turn away when Maynard rushed before her
exclaiming, "Miss Baron, I beg your pardon, I ask your forgiveness.
I never saw this act in the light you place it."

"There, cousin," added Whately with a sort of shamefaced laugh, "I'm
hanged if you aren't in the right and I in the wrong again. As you
say, the bullet that killed me might do worse by mother, and I
should have thought of that. As for you, we didn't think you'd look
at it this way. There's plenty of girls who'd think it a big feather
in their caps to have men fight about 'em."

"I can't believe it."

"It's true, nevertheless," said Maynard earnestly. "What can I do to
right myself in your eyes?"

"If you wish to be men whose friendship I can value, shake hands and
use your weapons for your country. If you truly care for my good
opinion, forget yourselves long enough to find out what DOES please
me and not rush headlong into action I detest. Consider the rights,
feelings and happiness of others."

"Well, Whately, what do you say?" asked Maynard with a grim laugh.
"I am ready to obey Miss Baron as I would my superior officer," and
he held out his hand.

Whately took it with an answering laugh, saying, "There's nothing
else left us to do. After her words, we could no more fight each
other than shoot her."

"Thank you. I--I--Zany," she faltered, turning deathly white. She
would have fallen had not her cousin sprung to her aid, supporting
her to a seat on a moss-grown log lying near.

For a few moments the long strain and reaction proved too much for
her, and she sat, pale and panting, her head resting against Zany,
who had rushed from her covert. The young men were overwhelmed with
compunction and alarm, but she retained and silenced them by a
gesture. "I'll be--better--in a moment," she gasped.

It proved but a partial giving way of her nervous force. In a few
moments she added, "Please go back to the house by different ways.
No one need know anything about this. No, don't call any one. I'll
get better faster if left with Zany. I beg you do as I ask and then
my mind will be at rest."

"There, Miss Baron," said the remorseful Maynard, "I pledge you my
word I'll never fight a duel. I can prove my courage sufficiently
against the enemy."

She smiled, held out her hand, which he carried to his lips and
reluctantly departed.

"See here, Cousin Lou," said Whately impulsively, "I'm going to give
you an honest, cousinly kiss. I'm not so feather-headed as not to
know you've got us both out of a devil of a scrape."

He suited the action to his words, and strode off in time to
intercept Perkins, who had the scent of a vulture for a battle. "We
have arranged the affair for the present," said the young officer
curtly, "and won't need any graves to-day. Keep mum about this."

"I'll keep my mouth close enough till I kin begin ter bite on my own
account," muttered the overseer as he sullenly followed.




CHAPTER XXXII

SAD TIDINGS


That morning Miss Lou stood on the veranda and bade farewell, one
after another, to those with whom she had been associated so
strangely and unexpectedly. There was an unwonted huskiness in Dr.
Borden's voice, and Ackley, usually so grim and prompt, held the
girl's hand lingeringly as he tried to make a joke about her defying
him and the whole Confederacy. It was a dismal failure. Regarding
him with her weary eyes, she said:

"Doctor, you had wit enough and heart enough to understand and
subdue me. Haven't I minded you since?"

"I'm a little afraid you'd still get the upper hand if you often
looked at me as you do now. I shall find out, however, if you will
obey one more order. Miss Baron, you MUST rest. Your pulse indicates
unusual exhaustion. You have tried to do too much, and I expect
those young men have been making such fierce and counter claims that
you are all worn out. Ah, if I had been only twenty years younger I
would have won you by a regular course of scientific love-making."

"I don't know anything about science and wouldn't understand you. So
it is better as it is, for I do understand what a good, kind friend
you've been. You knew all the while that I was little more than an
ignorant child, yet your courtesy was so fine that you treated me
like a woman. I hope we shall meet again in brighter days. Yes, I
will obey you, for I feel the need of rest."

"I shall come again and take my chances," said Maynard in parting.

Mercurial Whately, forgetting his various troubles and experiences
in the excitement of change and return to active duty, bade her a
rather boisterous and good-hearted farewell. His mind was completely
relieved as to Maynard, and he did not dream of Scoville as a
serious rival.

"It's only a question of time," he thought, "and at present mother
can do the courting better than I can. When I return Lou will be so
desperately bored by her stupid life here as to be ready for any
change."

The remaining patients looked at her and Mrs. Whately very wistfully
and gratefully, speaking reluctant adieus. When all were gone the
girl, feeling that she had reached the limit of endurance, went to
her room and slept till evening. It was the sleep of exhaustion, so
heavy that she came down to a late supper weak and languid. But
youth is elastic, the future full of infinite possibilities.
Scoville's words haunted her like sweet refrains of music. No matter
how weary, perplexed and sad she was, the certainty of her place in
his thoughts and heart sustained her and was like a long line of
light in the west, indicating a clearing storm. "He WILL come
again," she often whispered to herself; "he said he would if he had
to come on crutches. Oh, he DOES love me. He gave me his love that
night direct, warm from his heart, because he couldn't help himself.
He thought he loved me before--when, by the run, he told me of it so
quietly, so free from all exaction and demands; but I didn't feel
it. It merely seemed like bright sunshine of kindness and goodwill,
very sweet and satisfying then. But when we were parting, when his
tones trembled so, when overcome, he lost restraint and snatched me
to HIS heart--then I learned that _I_, too, had a heart."

If she had been given time this new heart-life, with thoughts and
hopes springing from it like flowers, would have restored her
elasticity. Scoville's manly visage, his eyes, so often mirthful,
always kind, would have become so real to her fancy that the pallid,
drawn features of the suffering, the dying and the dead, would have
faded from her memory. So would have faded also the various aspects
of passion from which she had shrunk, frightened by its hot breath.
Her days would have been filled with the beautiful, innocent dreams
of a young girl's first love so inspired as to cast out fear.

But the ruthless Moloch of war could not permit anything so ideal,
so heavenly, as this.

Mrs. Waldo came down from the apartment to which her son had been
removed and joined the girl on the veranda. "Ah!" she exclaimed, "I
have taken solid comfort all day in the thought that you were
sleeping, and now you are still resting. I want to see the color in
your cheeks again, and the tired look all gone from your eyes before
we go."

"You don't know how I dread to have you go," replied Miss Lou. "From
the first your son did more for me than I could do for him. The
smile with which he always greeted me made me feel that nothing
could happen beyond remedy, and so much that was terrible was
happening."

"Well, my child, that's the faith I am trying to cherish myself and
teach my boy. It is impossible for you to know what a black gulf
opened at my feet when my noble husband was killed early in the war.
Such things, happily, are known only by experience, and many escape.
Then our cause demanded my only son. I face death with him in every
battle, every danger. He takes risks without a thought of fear, and
I dare not let him know the agony of my fear. Yet in my widowhood,
in the sore pressure of care and difficulty in managing a large
plantation in these times, I have found my faith in God's love
adequate to my need. I should still find it so if I lost my boy. I
could not escape the suffering, but I would not sorrow as without
hope."

"How much I would give for the certainty of such a faith!" said Miss
Lou sadly. "Sometimes, since Captain Hanfield died, I think I feel
it. And then--oh, I don't know. Things might happen which I couldn't
meet in your spirit. If I had been compelled to marry my cousin I
feel that I should have become hard, bitter and reckless."

"You poor, dear little girl! Well, you were not compelled to marry
him. Don't you see? We are saved from some things and given strength
to bear what does happen. Don't you worry about yourself, my dear.
Just look up and trust. Happily, the sun of God's love shines on
just the same, unaffected by the passing clouds of our feelings and
experiences. He sees the end and knows all about the peaceful, happy
eternity before us. You dear, worn-out little child! His love is
ever about you like my arms at this moment," and the old lady drew
the girl to her in an impulse of motherly tenderness.

"Oh, Mrs. Waldo, you make me feel what it is to have no mother,"
sobbed Miss Lou.

"Well, my dear, that's your heavy cross. Sooner or later, in some
form, a cross burdens every human soul, too often many crosses. All
I ask of you is not to try to bear them alone. See how faith changed
everything for Captain Hanfield in his extremity. He is now in the
better home, waiting for his dear ones."

"I can never forget what faith has done for you and your son, Mrs.
Waldo. Surgeon Ackley said that your son's absolute quiet and
cheerfulness of mind during the first critical days saved his life."

"Yes, I know that," Mrs. Waldo replied with her low, sweet laugh.
"Faith is often more useful in helping us to live than in preparing
us to die. It saved my life, too, I'm sure, after my husband died. I
had no right to die then, for Vincent and, far more, my daughters,
still needed me."

For a time they sat on the piazza steps in silence, the old lady
keeping her arm caressingly about the girl, whose head drooped on
the motherly bosom overflowing with sympathy. Only the semi-tropical
sounds of night broke the stillness. The darkness was relieved by
occasional flashes along the horizon from a distant thunder-shower.
Miss Lou thought, "Have I ever known a peace so deep and sweet as
this?"

There was a hasty, yet stealthy step along the hall to the door, yet
the girl had no presentiment of evil. The warm, brooding, fragrant
darkness of the night was not more undisturbed than her mind.

"Miss Lou," said Zany in a loud whisper.

What a shock came with that brief utterance! A flash of lightning
direct from the sky could not have produced such sudden dread and
presentiment of trouble. Truly, a woman listens more with her heart
than her ears, and even in Zany's whisper there was detected a note
of tragedy.

After an instant Miss Lou faltered, "What is it, Zany?"

"Ef you gwine ter yo' room soon I des he'p you undress."

How well the girl knew that the faithful slave meant other and less
prosaic help! She rose at once, kissed Mrs. Waldo good-night and
excused herself. When Zany had lighted the candle her scared,
troubled face revealed at once that she had tidings of dire import.

Miss Lou seized the girl with a grip which hurt her arm, demanding,
"Have you heard anything about--about Lieutenant Scoville?"

"Now, Miss Lou, you gotter be brabe en not look at me dat away. Kaze
ef you does, w'at I gwine ter do? I kyant stan' it nohow."

"Oh! oh!" Miss Lou gasped, "wait a moment, not yet--wait. I must get
breath. I know, I know what's coming. Chunk is back and--and--O God,
I can't bear it, I cannot, I cannot!"

"Dar now, Miss Lou, des lis'n. P'raps tain ez bad ez you tink.
P'raps w'en Chunk 'splain all you see tain ez bad. Hi! Miss Lou, you
musn't took on so," for the girl was wringing her hands and rocking
back and forth in agony. "Folks s'picion dat Chunk yere en dat ud be
de eend ob him, sho. He ain' seen Marse Scoville daid sho. He on'y
see 'im fall. Chunk wanter see you en he mighty skeery 'bout hit,
kaze ef Perkins get on he track he done fer. He ain' see he granny
yit en he darsn't come dar twel hit late. He larn ter toot lak a
squinch-owl frum Marse Scoville en he tole me dat when he come agin
he toot. I nigh on run my legs off follerin' up tootin's o' nights,
fer dey wuz on'y pesky squinch-owls arter all. Dis eb'nin' I year a
toot dat flutter my heart big en I knowed 'twuzn't no squinch-owl
dis time, sho," and so Zany ran on in her canny shrewdness, for she
perceived she was gaining Miss Lou's attention and giving time for
recovery from the blow.

Miss Lou had a despairing conviction that Chunk would not have
returned alone unless his master was dead, but her mind quickly
seized upon the element of uncertainty and she was eager to see the
negro.

"We mus' wait, we sut'ny mus', twel Chunk kin creep ter he granny's
cabin."

"I can't wait, Zany. It wouldn't be best, either for me or Chunk.
It's not very late yet, and I could visit Aun' Jinkey without
exciting remark if you go with me. It's too dark for Chunk to be
seen and I'd protect him with my life. I must get better ground for
hope or my heart will break. Pretend I wish a glass of water and see
if we can't slip out now."

This Zany did, discovering that Mrs. Baron was with her husband in
his office and that Mrs. Waldo had returned to her son's room.

In a few moments Miss Lou was sitting by Aun' Jinkey and tremblingly
telling her fears. Meanwhile Zany scouted around to insure immunity
from observation.

"You po', po' chile!" groaned Aun' Jinkey. "I wuz a-hopin' dat now
you hab a time ob peace en quietness, en you des gwine ter be
s'pended 'twixt hebin en yearth."

"Oh, I fear he's dead, my heart tells me he's dead. Oh, mammy,
mammy, how can God be so cruel? I don't know who caused this war or
who's to blame, but I feel now as if I could TORTURE them."

"I'se feared dat ain' de right speret, honey."

"How can one have the right spirit when mocked by such a hope as
I've had? It needn't have happened. Oh, Mrs. Waldo, I could tell you
NOW I'm no Christian at all. I say it needn't have happened. And
then think how Uncle Lusthah prayed!"

"Chunk down dar by de run, Miss Lou," whispered Zany. "I lis'n wid
all my years en eyes."

"Miss Lou, I'se yere in de shadder ob dis bush," Chunk called
softly.

"Tell me everything."

"Darsn't twel I feels mo' safe, Miss Lou. Kin on'y say now Marse
Scoville des dote on you en he ax questions 'bout you sence you lil
gyurl. Hun'erds ob times he say, 'Chunk, we go back some day, sho!'
But he do he duty brabe. I go wid 'im ev'ywhar en onst, des on de
aige ob night, he wuz ridin' long wid 'bout twenty ob he men en dis
ting happen. We didn't tink any Rebs roun' en I'd been kep' back
tryn' ter git a chicken fer mars'r's supper. Ez I riz a hill, ridin'
right smart I see our folks goin' easy en car'less inter a woods. I
seed 'em all ez plain ez eber see anybody, en Marse Scoville ride at
de haid. Sudden dere was flash, flash, bang, bang, all troo de
woods. Marse Scoville fell right off he hoss, he sut'ny did. Den
lots ob Johnnies run in de road fore en hind our mens. I see dere
wuz no chaince fer me ter do any ting but git away en lil chaince
fer dat, fer two Rebs on horses come tarin' arter me. Ef hit hadn't
come dark sudden en my hoss wuzn't a flyer I'se been cotched sho.
'Fo' de Lawd, Miss Lou, dat all I know."

"He's dead," said the girl in a hoarse whisper.

"I orful feared he is, Miss Lou," assented the matter-of-fact Chunk.
"De Rebs so neah w'en dey fiah, en Marse Scoville sut'ny did go off
he hoss sudden. I been a week gittin' yere en I neber git yere ef de
cullud people didn't he'p me long nights."

The girl stood silent and motionless. Suddenly Zany grasped her hand
and whispered, "I yeared steps. Come ter de cabin. Be off, Chunk."

They had scarcely reached Aun' Jinkey's door before a shadow
approached and the harsh voice of Perkins asked, "What's goin' on
yere?"

"My young mistis des seein' her mammy 'bout her clos," replied the
quick-witted Zany.

"I thought I yeared voices down by the run."

"Reck'n you bettah go see," said Zany in rather high tones.

"What the dev--what makes yer speak so loud? a warnin'?"

"Tain' my place ter pass wuds wid you, Marse Perkins. Dem I serbs
doan fin' fault."

"I reckon Mr. Baron'll do mo'n find fault 'fore long. I bettah say
right yere en now I've got my orders 'bout that nigger Chunk. Nobody
kin save 'im ef caught. You've been followed before in your night-
cruisin' en you're lookin' fer some one. Ef there's trouble, Miss
Baron kyant say I didn't give warnin'. Now that the sogers is gone
I'm held 'sponsible fer what goes on," and he stalked away.

He did not wish to come into an open collision with Miss Lou again
if he could help it--not at least while the Waldos remained. He had
concluded that by a warning he might prevent trouble, his self-
interest inclining him to be conservative. Confederate scrip had so
lost its purchasing power that in its stead he had recently
bargained with Mr. Baron for a share in the crops. Thus it happened
that the question of making a crop was uppermost in his mind. Until
this object was secured he feared to array the girl openly against
him, since her influence might be essential in controlling the
negroes. If policy could keep them at work, well and good; if the
harshest measures seemed best to him he was ready to employ them.

Not only was he puzzled, but Zany also and Aun' Jinkey were sore
perplexed at Miss Lou's silence. She had stood motionless and
unheeding through the colloquy with the overseer, and now remained
equally deaf and unresponsive to the homely expressions of sympathy
and encouragement of the two women. They could not see her face, but
quickly felt the dread which anything abnormal inspires in the
simple-minded. Prone to wild abandon in the expression of their own
strong emotions, the silent, motionless figure of the young girl
caused a deeper apprehension than the most extravagant evidences of
grief.

"Aun' Jinkey," whispered Zany, "you mus' des he'p me git her to her
room."

She went with them without word or sign. Their alarm was deepened
when they saw her deathly pale and almost rigid features by the
light of her candle.

"Miss Lou, honey, speak ter yo' ole mammy. You broke my heart w'en
you look dat away."

"I tell you he's dead," whispered the girl.

"Dis ter'ble," groaned the old woman. "'Fo' de Lawd I dunno w'at er
do."

Zany felt instinctively that the girl was beyond their simple
ministrations and she was desperately afraid that if Mrs. Baron came
Chunk's presence would be revealed by words spoken unconsciously.
She and Aun' Jinkey promptly agreed that Mrs. Waldo was their only
hope and Zany flew to summon her.

Fortunately the lady had not retired and she came at once. "Louise,
Miss Baron, what is the matter?" she asked in strong solicitude.

"I tell you, he's dead," again whispered the girl, looking as if a
scene of horror were before her eyes. "The Rebs were so near when
they fired, and he fell off his horse sudden. Ch--"

Quick as light Zany's hand was over the girl's mouth. The scared
face and trembling form of the young negress did not escape Mrs.
Waldo's quick eye.

"Zany, what are you concealing?" she asked, sternly. "What does all
this mean?"

"Dar now, misus," answered Aun' Jinkey with a certain simple
dignity, "we mus' des trus you. I'se yeared you a lubin' serbent ob
de Lawd. Ef you is, you am' gwine ter bring mis'ry on mis'ry. We
mus' brung Miss Lou roun' sudden 'fo' ole miss comes. He'p us git
young mistis sens'ble en I tell you eberyting I kin. Dere ain' not'n
bade 'bout dis honey lam' ob mine."

They undressed the girl as if she were a helpless child and put her
to bed, and then Zany went downstairs to keep Mrs. Baron out of the
way if possible, at the same time listening intently for any signs
of trouble to Chunk.

Miss Lou's over-taxed mind had given way, or rather was enchained by
a spell of horror to the scenes presented all too vividly in Chunk's
bald statement. Her nervous force had been too enfeebled and
exhausted to endure the shock of an impression so tremendous in its
tragic reality that her faculties had no power to go beyond it.
Chunk's words had brought her to a darkening forest and her dead
lover, and there she stayed.

Seeing how unconscious she was Aun' Jinkey whispered enough in
explanation to enable Mrs. Waldo to comprehend the girl's condition.

"We must make her sleep," said the lady decisively, and under her
wise ministrations the stricken girl soon looked almost as if she
were dead. Having kindly reassured and dismissed Aun' Jinkey, Mrs.
Waldo watched Miss Lou as she would have kept vigil with one of her
own daughters.




CHAPTER XXXIII

CONSPIRATORS


Perkins was very ill at ease that night, from a haunting suspicion
that Chunk had returned. "Pesky nigger'll have a revolver, too, most
likely, en be crazy ter use it! Haint been 'mong them cussed Yanks
fer nothin'!" There was therefore little disposition for a night
hunt after one who knew every inch of the region besides being as
stealthy and agile as a cat. The blow from which his head still
ached had a warning significance. Coarse, ignorant and
superstitious, he was an easy victim to the tormenting fears of his
own bad conscience. The graves by the run and the extemporized
cemetery further away had even greater terrors for him than for Aun'
Jinkey. Even his whiskey jug could not inspire sufficient courage to
drive him at night far from his own door. Though both hating and
despising Whately, yet the absence of the young officer and his
force was now deeply regretted, as they had lent a sense of security
and maintained the old order of existing authority. Now he was
thrown chiefly on his own responsibility, for Mr. Baron was broken
and enfeebled by what he had passed through. Avarice spurned Perkins
to carry through the crops in which he had an interest, while his
hope of revenge on Chunk, Scoville and Miss Lou also tended to keep
him at a post which he foresaw would be one of difficulty and
danger. He had no doubt that the Union officer and his freedman
would return as soon as they could, and for the chance of wreaking
his vengeance he was the more willing to remain in what he feared
would be a spook-infested region. "Onst squar with them, en crops
realized," he muttered, "I kin feel mo' comft'ble in other parts.
To-morrer, ef Chunk en that scout's in these diggin's I'll know
hit."

He was aware that the few dogs left on the plantation would make no
trouble for one they knew as well as they did Chunk, but he could
rely on the brute which he kept in his own quarters--a bloodhound,
savage to every one except his master.

"Grip will smell out the cussed nigger in the mawnin' ef he's been
around," he assured himself before beginning his nightly debauch.
"What's mo', Miss Baron ain't so high en mighty now she knows I'm
comin' to be the rale boss on the place. She didn't even squeak w'en
I gin my warnin' ter night."

Although Chunk knew his danger and was cautious, he was disposed on
the first night of his arrival to take some serious risks in order
to carry out the schemes dwelt upon during the long days of skulking
home. Naturally fearless he had acquired much of Scoville's soldier-
like and scouting spirit. The young officer had associated his
dwarfish follower with the service rendered by Miss Lou and was
correspondingly grateful. Chunk therefore received much
consideration and good counsel by which he had profited. Especially
had Scoville scoffed at the negro's superstitions, telling him that
a fool afraid of spooks was neither fit to be a free man nor a
soldier.

Since Chunk had no imagination and believed absolutely in his master
there were no more "spooks" for him, but he knew well the dread
inspired by that word on the plantation, and it was his purpose to
avail himself of these deep-rooted fears. He heard the colloquy
between Zany and the overseer very distinctly, but so far from
running away, dogged the latter home. Long knife and revolver were
handy in his belt and a heavy club was carried also. Since no
soldiers were around, Perkins was not to be dreaded in the night,
when once his resting-place was known. Crouching a long time in the
shadow of some cedars Chunk watched the overseer's window, but the
light was not extinguished. A sudden suspicion dawned on our
watcher, causing him to chuckle low with delight. "Hi! he des feared
of sleepin' in de dark, en dat can'le bu'n all night!" Gliding a few
steps nearer brought to the quick ear a resounding snore,
accompanied with a warning growl from, the bloodhound. "I des fix
'em bof fo' I froo," and the brawny hand clutched with greater force
the heavy club it carried.

"Nex', some dem fellers mus' be tole ter he'p," and Chunk crept away
to the quarters. It was an easy task to waken and enlist Jute, well
known to be one of the most disaffected and fearless among the
hands. The two started off to a grove which none could approach
without being seen, and had a long whispered consultation. As a
result, Jute returned to the quarters and brought back three others
whom he knew would enter into the schemes on foot. By midnight Chunk
had six of the braver and more reckless spirits among the slaves
bound to him by such uncouth oaths as he believed would hold them
most strongly. Then they returned to their cabins while the chief
conspirator (after again reconnoitring the overseer's cottage)
sought the vicinity of his granny's home.

With mistaken kindness and much shrewdness Chunk had resolved upon a
course that would fill the old woman's life with terror. He adopted
the policy of not letting her know anything of his plans, so that
she could honestly say "I dunno" and prove the fact by her manner.
He instinctively felt that it would have a very bad look if
superstitious Aun' Jinkey remained composed and quiet through the
scenes he purposed to bring about. Her sincere and very apparent
fears were to be his allies. It was part of his scheme also that
Zany should be very badly frightened and made eager to run away with
him as soon as he and the others were ready for departure.

By a preconcerted signal he summoned Aun' Jinkey who was much
affected by the thought that she was bidding her grandson a good-by
which might be final, but oppressed with fear, she was at the same
time eager he should go. Putting into his hands a great pone of corn
bread she urged, "Des light out, Chunk, light out sud'n. 'Twix de
baid news en Miss Lou en w'at Perkins do ef he cotch you, I des dat
trembly, I kyant stan'."

"Perkins asleep, granny. I'se off now fer good, but I comin' back
fer you some day."

He disappeared, and too perturbed to think of sleep the old woman
tottered back to her chimney-corner. A few moments later she
shuddered at the hooting of a screech-owl, even though she surmised
Chunk to be the bird. Not so Zany, who answered the signal promptly.
In a tentative way Chunk sought to find if she was then ready to run
away, but Zany declared she couldn't leave Miss Lou "lookin ez if
she wuz daid." Thinking it might be long indeed before she saw her
suitor again, she vouchsafed him a very affectionate farewell which
Chunk remorselessly prolonged, having learned in his brief
campaigning not to leave any of the goods the gods send to the
uncertainties of the future. When at last he tore himself away, he
muttered, "Speck she need a heap ob scarin' en she git all she
wants. Ef dat ar gyurl doan light out wid me nex' time I ax her, den
I eats a mule." And then Chunk apparently vanished from the scene.

The next morning Miss Lou awoke feeble, dazed and ill. In a little
while her mind rallied sufficiently to recall what had happened, but
her symptoms of nervous prostration and lassitude were alarming.
Mrs. Whately was sent for, and poor Mr. Baron learned, as by another
surgical operation, what had been his share in imposing on his niece
too severe a strain. Mrs. Waldo whispered to Miss Lou, "Your mammy
has told me enough to account for the shock you received and your
illness. Your secret is safe with me."

Meantime the good lady thought, "It will all turn out for the best
for the poor child. Such an attachment could only end unhappily, and
she will get over it all the sooner if she believes the Yankee
officer dead. How deeply her starved nature must have craved
sympathy and affection to have led to this in such a brief time and
opportunity!"

As may be supposed, Aun' Jinkey had been chary of details and had
said nothing of Scoville's avowal. The mistress of the plantation
looked upon her niece's illness as a sort of well earned "judgment
for her perversity," but all the same, she took care that the
strongest beef tea was made and administered regularly. Mrs. Whately
arrived and became chief watcher. The stricken girl's physical
weakness seemed equalled only by a dreary mental apathy. There was
scarcely sufficient vital force left even for suffering, a fact
recognized by the aunt in loving and remorseful solicitude.

By the aid of his bloodhound Perkins discovered that some one whom
he believed to be Chunk had been about, and he had secret misgivings
as he thought of the negro's close proximity. He had already learned
what a blow Chunk could deal and his readiness to strike. Taking the
dog and his gun he had cautiously followed the run into which the
tracks led until satisfied that the man he was following had taken
horse and was beyond pursuit. On his return he learned of Miss Lou's
illness and so ventured to threaten Aun' Jinkey.

"Yer do know 'bout that cussed grandson o' yourn. Kyant fool Grip,
en he' smelled out all the nigger's tracks. Now ef yer don't tell
the truth I'll raise the kentry 'roun' en we'll hunt 'im to the
eends of the yearth."

"Well den, Marse Perkins," admitted the terror-stricken woman, "I
des tell you de truf. Dat gran'boy ob min' des come ter say good-by.
Marse Scoville daid en Chunk mos' up Norf by dis time, he went away
so sud'n."

"That Yankee cuss dead?" cried Perkins in undisguised exultation.

"Marse Scoville daid, shot of'n he hoss long way f'um yere," replied
Aun' Jinkey sorrowfully. "He kyant harm you ner you 'im no mo', ner
Chunk neider."

"Why the devil didn't you let us know Chunk was here las' night?"

"He my gran'son," was the simple reply.

"Well he isn't Zany's grandson! Now I know w'at she was snoopin'
round nights fer, en Mrs. Baron'll know, too, 'fore I'm five minutes
older."

Aun' Jinkey threw up her hands and sank back into her chair more
dead than alive. She, too, had been taxed beyond endurance and all
her power to act had ceased with her final effort to show that
pursuit of Chunk would be useless.

Perkins speedily obtained an audience with Mrs. Baron, who became
deeply incensed and especially against Zany. The inexorable old
lady, however, never acted from passion. She nodded coldly to the
overseer, saying, "I will inform Mr. Baron and he will give you your
orders in regard to the offenders."

Zany was too alert not to observe the interview and the omens of
trouble in the compressed lips of "ole miss" and the steel-like
gleam of her eyes. The moment Mrs. Baron was closeted with her
husband the girl sped to the cabin. "Did you tell Perkins Chunk been
yere?" she demanded fiercely.

"Fo' de Lawd I des gwine all ter pieces," gasped Aun' Jinkey.

"Hope ter grashus yer does, en de pieces neber come tergedder agin,"
said Zany in contemptuous anger and deep alarm.

Under the spur of tremendous excitement she hastened back, thinking
as she ran, "Miss Lou too sick ter do anyting. I des got ter 'peal
ter Miss Whately, er ole miss hab me whipped haf ter daith." When in
response to a timid knock Mrs. Whately peered out of her niece's
room she found a trembling suppliant with streaming eyes.
Noiselessly shutting the door the matron said warningly:

"Don't you know Miss Lou's life depends on quiet?"

"How she gwine ter hab quiet w'en ole miss gwine ter hab Marse
Perkins whip me'n Aun' Jinkey ter daith?"

"Nonsense! Why should either of you be punished?"'

"Well missus, I 'fess ter you," sobbed Zany, "kaze you got more
feelin' fer us. Chunk come las' night ter say good-by ter he
granny'n me, en den he put out fer good, en ain' comin' back no mo'.
Perkins en he dog foun' hit out dis mawnin', en Aun' Jinkey tole
'im, too, I reck'n, she all broke up. Perkins been talkin' ter ole
miss en she look lak she al'ways does w'en ders no let up. Hit ud
des kill Miss Lou if she knew me'n Aun' Jinkey wuz bein' whipped."

"Zany," said Mrs. Whately in rising anger, "you both had full
warning. You knew what Chunk had done. He stole my son's horse and
one from his master also, beside doing other things that could not
be forgiven."

"Please reckermember, missus, dat Chunk en me is mighty sweet on
each oder en he Aun' Jinkey gran'boy. Tain' dat we 'prove of his
goin's on, but how cud we tell on 'im en see 'im daid, w'en he des
come ter say good-by. Oh, ef Miss Lou on'y well she neber let dat
ole Perkins tech us."

"I will see your master before anything is done," said Mrs. Whately
with troubled face. "Go to your work now. I will get Mrs. Waldo to
watch in my place after a while."

Mr. Baron was depressed physically and mentally by the trying events
of the past few weeks, but the fact that Chunk had ventured on the
place again and had been permitted to escape angered him deeply. He
also accepted the view of his wife and overseer that all discipline
among the slaves would soon be at an end if so serious an offence
were overlooked. It would be a confession of weakness and fear they
believed which would have a most demoralizing effect in the
quarters. Chunk represented the worst offences of which the slaves
could be guilty; the most solemn warnings had been given against
aiding and abetting him in any way. To do nothing now would be a
virtual permission of lawlessness. There was no thought of mercy for
Zany, but Aun' Jinkey's age, feebleness, together with her relations
to Chunk and Miss Lou, complicated matters.

Husband and wife were still consulting when Mrs. Whately joined
them. Mrs. Baron did not welcome her guest, feeling that this was
purely a personal affair, and was in no mood to brook interference.

"I can't be absent long," began Mrs. Whately, "Zany has told me
everything and--"

"I think, sister, that Mr. Baron and I can manage this matter,"
interrupted Mrs. Baron coolly.

"No doubt you can," Mrs. Whately replied with dignity. "I did not
come down to interfere with your domestic affairs. There is one
point on which I have a right to speak and must speak. You can't
punish Aun' Jinkey and Zany now if knowledge of such punishment can
in any way reach our niece. No matter how much they may deserve it,
I say you cannot do it. I promised Zany nothing, held out no hope to
her of escape, but to you I will speak plainly. If you should excite
and disturb Louise now, you might easily cause her death. If you
feel that you cannot overlook the offence (and I know how serious a
one it is) wait till I can remove Louise to my own house. You will
find that Dr. Pelton when he arrives will confirm my words."

Mr. Baron weakened. He had not the relentless will of his wife, who
interposed with cutting emphasis, "There is no need of Louise's
knowing anything about it till she is much better, and it would be
well for her to learn then, as well as the slaves, that there is
still a master and mistress."

"It may be long before Louise is much better," Mrs. Whately replied
gravely. "She has been subjected to a strain for which my conscience
reproaches me, however it may be with yours. She is in a very
critical state, and seemingly from some recent shock."

"Can the news Chunk brought have had any such effect?" broke forth
Mrs. Baron indignantly--"news of the death of that Yankee whom she
met and treated as a social equal sorely against my will?"

"Lieutenant Scoville dead!" exclaimed Mrs. Whately looking shocked
and sad.

"Yes, so Chunk told his granny."

Mrs. Whately was troubled indeed. Perhaps there had been much more
than she had suspected. If so, this fact would account for the
girl's extreme prostration. To bring these tidings might have been
one of Chunk's chief motives in venturing on his brief visit. Miss
Lou might know all about the visit and even have seen Chunk herself.
If this were true, punishment of those who were in a sense her
accomplices would be all the more disastrous. The perplexed matron
felt that she must have more time to think and to acquire fuller
knowledge of the affair.

"Brother," she said finally, "you are the guardian of Louise and in
authority. She is now helpless and at present quiet. If quiet of
mind and body can be maintained long enough she will no doubt get
well. In a sense I am now her physician, and I say as Surgeon Ackley
said of his patients, she cannot be disturbed. I positively forbid
it. Dr. Pelton who must soon be here will take the same ground.
Public opinion will support him and me in holding you responsible if
you order anything endangering your ward's life and health at this
time. Mrs. Waldo and her son would be witnesses. How far the former
is acquainted with affairs we do not know. She watched with Louise
all last night. If you act hastily you may be sorry indeed. I am
trying kindness and conciliation with my people and they are doing
better. I fear your policy is mistaken. Chunk is gone and beyond
punishment. It is asking much to expect that his grandmother and the
girl who loves him after her fashion would give information against
him. It would seem that only the two slaves and Perkins know of this
visit. Affairs are bad enough with you as it is and you can easily
make them much worse. If you must punish for effect, take some stout
field hand who is insubordinate or lazy. At any rate I love Louise
and hope some day to call her daughter, and I will not have her life
endangered. That's all I have to say."

Mr. Baron's flame of anger had died out. His views had not been
changed by his harsh experience, but he had been compelled to see
that there were times when he could not have his own way. So he said
testily, "Well, well, we'll have to let the matter rest a while, I
suppose."

Mrs. Whately departed. Mrs. Baron put her thin lips together in a
way which meant volumes, and went out on her housekeeping round,
giving orders to Zany in sharper, more metallic tones than usual.
The delinquent herself had overheard enough of the conversation to
learn that the evil day had at least been put off and to get some
clew as to the future.




CHAPTER XXXIV

CHUNK PLAYS SPOOK


Since Mr. Baron had yielded for the present, Mrs. Whately was glad
nothing need be said to the physician concerning their affairs. His
positive injunction of quiet was sufficient, and now that Mr. Baron
was impressed with its need and had had time for sober second
thought, he concluded that he had trouble enough on hand as it was.
He felt that every quiet day gained was so much toward securing the
absolutely essential crops. Perkins was therefore summoned and the
situation in part explained.

The overseer was in unusual good-humor over the death of Scoville,
and if Chunk had escaped finally, there was compensation in the
thought of having no more disturbance from that source. So,
fortunately for poor Zany, avarice came to the fore and Perkins
agreed that the best thing to do was to bend every energy to "making
the crops," using severity only in the furtherance of this end.

"Beg pardon, Mr. Baron, but I must have sump'n up and down clar.
There's been so many bosses of late en my orders been knocked
eendwise so of'en that I don't know, en the hands don't know whether
I've got any po'r or no. Ef this thing 'bout Chunk gits out, en
nobody punished, the fiel'-hans natchelly think we darsn't punish.
Mought es well give up then."

"Punish as much as you think necessary to keep the quarter-hands at
work. Then it is plain," replied Mr. Baron.

Very seldom had Perkins been in so complacent and exultant a mood as
when he left the presence of Mr. Baron that morning. But his
troubles began speedily. Jute had slept little the night before and
was stupid and indifferent to his work in the afternoon. Finding
threats had little effect, the overseer struck a blow with his cane.
The negro turned fiercely but was confronted with a revolver. He
resumed work doggedly, his sullen look spreading like the shadow of
a cloud to the faces of the others. So many began to grow
indifferent and reckless that to punish all was out of the question.
Perkins stormed and threatened, striking some here and there, almost
beside himself from increasing anxiety and rage. Whichever way he
turned a dark vindictive face met his eyes. The slaves had enjoyed a
brief sense and sweet hope of freedom; he was seeking to refasten
the yoke with brutal hands and it galled as never before. Even his
narrow arbitrary nature was impressed with the truth that a great
change was taking place; that a proclamation issued hundreds of
miles away was more potent than his heavy hand. He was as incapable
of any policy other than force as was his employer of abandoning the
grooves in which his thoughts had always run.

The worrisome afternoon finally ended, leaving the harassed man free
to seek consolation from his jug. Mr. Baron relapsed into his quiet
yet bitter mental protest. "Ole miss" maintained inexorable
discipline over the yard and house slaves, keeping all busy in
removing every stain and trace of the hospital. She governed by fear
also, but it was the fear which a resolute, indomitable will
produces in weaker natures.

Mrs. Waldo already felt uncomfortable. There was no lack of outward
courtesy, but the two women had so little in common that there was
almost a total absence of sympathy between them. The guests through
the fortune of war resolved therefore to depart in a day or two,
making the journey home by easy stages. Mrs. Whately was both polite
and cordial, but she also felt that the family should be alone as
soon as possible, that they were facing problems which could better
be solved without witnesses. It was her hope now to nurse her charge
back to health, and, by the utmost exercise of tact, gain such an
ascendency over the girl as to win her completely. Granting that the
matron's effort was part of a scheme, it was one prompted by deep
affection, a yearning to call her niece daughter and to provide for
the idolized son just the kind of wife believed to be essential to
his welfare. Much pondering on the matter led her to believe that
even if the tidings of Scoville's death had been the cause of the
final prostrating shock, it was but the slight blow required to
strike down one already feeble and tottering to her fall. "He
probably made a strong, but necessarily a passing impression on the
dear child's mind," she reasoned. "When she gets well she will think
of him only as she does of the other Union soldiers who so
interested her."

The object of this solicitude was docile and quiet, taking what was
given her, but evidently exhausted beyond the power of thought or
voluntary action.

The night passed apparently without incident, but it was a busy one
for Chunk. He again summoned Jute and his other confederates to a
tryst in the grove to impress them with his plans. It was part of
his scheme to permit a few nights to pass quietly so that
disturbances would not be associated with him, he being supposed far
away. In the depths of the adjacent forest he had found safe shelter
for himself and horse, and here, like a beast in its lair, he slept
by day. The darkness was as light to him about the familiar
plantation, and he prowled around at night unmolested.

During this second meeting he attempted little more than to argue
his dusky associates out of their innate fear of spooks and to urge
upon them patience in submitting to Perkins's rule a little longer.
"I des tells you," he declared, "dey ain' no spooks fer us! Dere's
spooks on'y fer dem w'at kills folks on de sly-like. If ole Perkins
come rarin' en tarin' wid his gun en dawg, I des kill 'im ez I wud a
rattler en he kyant bodder me no mo'; but ef I steal on 'im now en
kill 'im in he sleep he ghos pester me ter daith. Dat de
conslomeration ob de hull business. I doan ax you ter do any ting
but he'p me skeer' im mos' ter daith. He watchin' lak a ole fox ter
ke'p you en Zany yere. Ef you puts out, he riz de kentry en put de
houn's arter you. We des got ter skeer 'im off fust. I'm studyin'
how ter git dat dawg out'n de way. Des go on quiet few mo' days en
ef you year quar noises up on de hill whar de sogers bur'ed you know
hit me. Look skeered lak de oders but doan be fear'd en keep mum."

The next few days and nights passed in quiet and all began to
breathe more freely. Even Aun' Jinkey rallied under the soothing
influence of her pipe and the privilege of watching part of each day
with Miss Lou. Slowly the girl began to grow better. Hoping not even
for tolerance of her feelings in regard to Scoville, it was her
instinct to conceal them from her relatives. She knew Mrs. Waldo
would not reveal what Aun' Jinkey had told her, and understood the
peculiar tenderness with which that lady often kissed her. She also
guessed that while the stanch Southern friend had deep sympathy for
her there was not very strong regret that the affair had ended in a
way to preclude further complications.

"Remember, my dear," said Mrs. Waldo, in her affectionate parting,
"that God never utterly impoverishes our lives. Only we ourselves
can do that. You will get well and become happy in making others
happy."

On the evening of that day, even Mr. Baron's routine was completely
restored. His larder was meagre compared with the past, but with the
exception that Mrs. Whately occupied the place of his niece at the
table, and viands were fewer, all was as it had been. Zany's fears
had subsided, leaving her inwardly chafing at the prospect of
monotonous and indefinite years of work under "ole miss," with
little chance of Chunk's return. Aun' Suke's taste of freedom had
not been to her mind, so she was rather complacent than otherwise,
and especially over the fact that there was so little to cook. The
garden and Mr. Baron's good credit would insure enough plain food
till the crops matured and the impoverishment caused by the raid was
repaired. It certainly seemed when the sun set that evening that the
present aspect of affairs might be maintained indefinitely in the
little community.

Only one was not exactly at rest. Perkins felt as if something was
in the air. There was a brooding, sullen quiet among the negroes
which led him to suspect that they were waiting and hoping for
something unknown to him. This was true of Uncle Lusthah and the
majority. The crack of Union rifles was the "soun' f'um far away"
they were listening for. By secret channels of communication tidings
of distant battles were conveyed from plantation to plantation, and
the slaves were often better informed that their masters. As for
Perkins, he knew next to nothing of what was taking place, nor did
he dream that he was daily addressing harsh words to conspirators
against his peace.

The time had come when Chunk was ready to act. On the night in
question a hot wind arose which blew from the little burial-place on
the hill toward the house. "Hi! now's de charnce ter fix dat ar
bizness!" and he made his preparations. Shortly before midnight he
crept like a cat under the overseer's window. The heavy snoring rose
and fell reassuringly, sweet as music to Chunk's ears. Not so the
angry, restless growling of the savage bloodhound chained within.
"But you doan kotch me dis yere time fer all yer fuss, Marse Grip,"
the negro muttered. "I done hab yer brekfus' ready fer yer! Dat'll
settle yer hash,' and with deft hand a piece of poisoned meat was
tossed close to the brute's feet as Chunk hastened away. Jute was
next wakened and put on the watch. An hour later there came from the
soldiers' cemetery the most doleful, unearthly sounds imaginable. No
need for Jute and his confederates to arouse the other negroes in
the quarters. A huddled frightened gang soon collected, Aun' Jinkey
among them so scared she could not speak.

"Marse Perkins ought to know 'bout dis," cried Jute.

The suggestion was enough. The whole terror-stricken throng rushed
in a body to the overseer's cottage and began calling and shrieking,
"Come out yere! come out yere!" Confused in his sudden waking and
thinking he was mobbed, he shouted through the window, "I'll shoot a
dozen of yer ef yer don't clar out."

"Marse Perkins, des you lis'n," rose in chorus from those far beyond
the fear of mortal weapons.

In the silence that followed the rushing wind bore down to them a
weird, dismal howl that in Perkins's ears met every ghostly
requirement. His teeth began to chatter like castanets, and
snatching his jug of corn whiskey he swallowed great draughts.

"We des tink you orter know 'bout dis," said Jute.

"Cert'ny," cried Perkins in his sudden flame of false courage. "I'll
light a lantern and take twenty o' you hands round that place. Ef
thar's a cuss yonder makin' this 'sturbance we'll roast 'im alive."

In a moment or two he dressed and came out with a light and his gun.
Two revolvers were also stuck in his belt. As he appeared on the
threshold there was a prolonged yell which curdled even his inflamed
blood and sent some of the negro women into hysterics.

"Come on," shouted the overseer hoarsely, "thirty of yer ef yer
afraid."

The crowd fell back. "We ain' gwine ter dat ar spook place, no
mattah w'at you do to us."

"Perkins, what IS the matter?" Mr. Baron was heard shouting from the
house.

"Reckon you better come out yere, sir."

"Are the hands making trouble?"

"No sir, sump'n quar's gwine on, what we kyant mek out yit."

Mr. Baron, wrapped in his dressing-gown, soon appeared on the scene,
while Aun' Suke's domain contributed its quota also of agitated,
half-dressed forms. Chunk could not resist the temptation to be a
witness to the scene and in a copse near by was grinning with silent
laughter at his success.

After learning what had occurred, Mr. Baron scoffed at their
superstitions, sternly bidding all to go to their places and keep
quiet. "Perkins, you've been drinking beyond reason," he warned his
overseer in a low voice. "Get back to your room quick or you will be
the laughing-stock of everybody! See here, you people, you have
simply got into a panic over the howling of the wind, which happens
to blow down from the graveyard to-night."

"Neber yeared de win' howl dataway befo'," the negroes answered, as
in a mass they drifted back to the quarters.

Perkins was not only aware of his condition but was only too glad to
have so good an excuse for not searching the cemetery. Scarcely had
he been left alone, however, before he followed the negroes,
resolved upon companionship of even those in whom he denied a
humanity like his own. In the darkness Chunk found an opportunity to
summon Jute aside and say, "Free er fo' ob you offer ter stay wid
ole Perkins. Thet he'p me out."

Perkins accepted the offer gladly, and they agreed to watch at his
door and in the little hallway.

"You mus' des tie up dat ar dawg ob yourn," first stipulated Jute.

"Why, whar in--is the dog? Hain't yeared a sound from 'im sence the
'sturbance begun."

"Dwags kyant stan' spooks nohow," remarked Jute.

"I've yeared that," admitted Perkins, looking around for the animal.

"Thar he is, un'er yo' baid," said Jute, peeking through the
doorway.

The miserable man's hair fairly stood up when the brute was
discovered stark and dead without a scratch upon him. Recourse was
again had to the jug, and oblivion soon followed.




CHAPTER XXXV

A VISITATION


There was no more sleep at the quarters that night, and never was
the dawn more welcome. It only brought a respite, however, for the
impression was fixed that the place was haunted. There was a settled
aspect of gloom and anxiety on every dusky face in the morning. Mr.
Baron found his overseer incapacitated for duty, but the hands were
rather anxious to go to work and readily obeyed his orders to do so.
They clung to all that was familiar and every-day-like, while their
fears and troubled consciences spurred them to tasks which they felt
might be a sort of propitiation to the mysterious powers abroad.
Zany was now sorry indeed that she had not gone with Chunk, and poor
Aun' Jinkey so shook and trembled all day that Mrs. Whately would
not let her watch by Miss Lou. Knowing much of negro superstitions
she believed, with her brother and Mrs. Baron, that the graves on
the place, together with some natural, yet unusual sounds, had
started a panic which would soon die out.

When at last Perkins, shaky and nervous, reported the mysterious
death of his dog, Mr. Baron was perplexed, but nothing more. "You
were in no condition to give a sane account of anything that
happened last night," he said curtly. "Be careful in the future. If
you will only be sensible about it, this ridiculous scare will be to
our advantage, for the hands are subdued enough now and frightened
into their duty."

Perkins remained silent. In truth, he was more frightened than any
one else, for the death of his dog appeared to single him out as a
special object of ghostly hostility. He got through the day as well
as he could, but dreaded the coming night all the more as he saw
eyes directed toward him, as if he, in some way, were the cause of
the supernatural visitation. This belief was due to the fact that
Aun' Jinkey in her terror had spoken of Scoville's death, although
she would not tell how she knew about it. "Perkins shoot at en try
ter kill Marse Scoville," she had whispered to her cronies, "en now
he daid he spook comin' yere ter hant de oberseer. We neber hab no
quiet nights till dat ar Perkins go way fer good."

This rational explanation passed from lip to lip and was generally
accepted. The coming night was looked forward to in deep
apprehension, and by none more than by Perkins. Indeed, his fears so
got the better of him that when the hands quit work he started for
the nearest tavern and there remained till morning. Chunk was made
aware of this fact, and the night passed in absolute quiet. All the
negroes not in the secret now hoped that the overseer was the sole
prey of the spook, and that if they remained quietly in their places
they would be unmolested. Chunk and a few of the boldest of his
fellow conspirators had full scope therefore to perfect their final
arrangements. In a disused room of one of the outbuildings the most
ragged and blood-stained uniforms of the Union soldiers had been
cast and forgotten. These were carried to a point near the burying-
ground, tried on and concealed. Chunk found it was no easy task to
keep even the reckless fellows he had picked up to the sticking
point of courage in the grewsome tasks he had in view, but his
scoff, together with their mutual aid and comfort, carried them
through, while the hope of speedy freedom inspired them to what was
felt to be great risks.

On this occasion he dismissed them some little time before midnight,
for he wished them to get rested and in good condition for what he
hoped would be the final effort the following night. As he lingered
in the still, starlit darkness he could not resist making an effort
to see Zany, and so began hooting like an owl down by the run,
gradually approaching nearer till he reached the garden. Zany,
wakeful and shivering with nameless dread, was startled by the
sound. Listening intently, she soon believed she detected a note
that was Chunk's and not a bird's. Her first impression was that her
lover had discovered that he could not go finally away without her
and so had returned. Her fear of spooks was so great that her
impulse was to run away with Chunk as far from that haunted
plantation as he would take her. Trembling like a wind-shaken leaf,
she stole into the garden shrubbery and whispered, "Chunk?"

"Hi! yere I is."

There was no tantalizing coquetry in Zany's manner now. In a moment
she was in Chunk's arms sobbing, "Tek me way off fum dis place. I go
wid you now, dis berry minute, en I neber breve easy till we way,
way off enywhar, I doan keer whar. Oh, Chunk, you doan know w'at
been gwine on en I darsn't tell you twel we gits way off."

"I isn't feared," replied Chunk easily.

"Dat's kaze you doan know. I des been tremblin' stiddy sence las'
night en I'se feared hit begin eny minute now."

"Hit woan begin dis yere night," replied Chunk, soothingly and
incautiously.

"How you know?" she asked quickly, a sudden suspicion entering her
mind.

"Wat's ter begin?" answered Chunk, now on his guard. "De night am
still, nobody roun'. I hang roun' a few nights twel I study out de
bes' plan ter git away."

"Has you been hangin' roun' nights, Chunk?" Zany asked solemnly.

"How you talks, Zany! Does you s'pects I dar stay roun' whar Perkins
am? He kill me. He done gone way to-night."

"How you know dat?"

"One de fiel'-hans tole me."

"Chunk, ef you up ter shines en doan tole me I done wid you. Hasn't
I hep you out'n in eberyting so fur? Ef I fin' out you been skeerin
me so wid eny doin's I des done wid you. I des feel hit in my bones
you de spook. You kyant bamboozle me. I kin hep you--hab done hit
afo'--en I kin hinder you, so be keerful. Dere's some dif'unce in
bein' a spook yosef en bein' skeered ter death by a rale spook. Ef
you tryin' ter skeer en fool me I be wuss on you ner eny Voodoo
woman dat eber kunjurd folks."

The interview ended in Chunk's making a clean breast of it and in
securing Zany as an ally with mental reservations. The thought that
he had fooled her rankled.

Mr. Baron's expostulation and his own pressing interests induced
Perkins to remain at home the following night. As Jute had seemed
forgiving and friendly, the overseer asked him to bring two others
and stay with him, offering some of the contents of the replenished
jug as a reward. They sat respectfully near the door while Perkins
threw himself on his bed with the intention of getting to sleep as
soon as possible. "Are you shore ther wuz no 'sturbances last
night?" he asked.

"Well, Marse Perkins," replied Jute, "you didn't s'pect we out
lookin'. We wuz po'ful sleepy en roll we haids en er blankets en den
'fo' we knowed, hit sun-up. Folks say en de quarters dat ar spook
ain' arter us."

"Who the devil is hit arter then?" was the angry response.

"How we know, mars'r? We neber try ter kill enybody."

"But I tell you I didn't kill him," expostulated their nervous
victim.

"Didn't name no names, Marse Perkins. I on'y knows w'at I yeared
folks tell 'bout spooks. Dey's mighty cur'us, spooks is. Dey des
'pear to git a spite agin some folks en dey ain' bodderin oder folks
long ez dey ain' 'feered wid. I 'spect a spook dat wuz 'feered wid,
get he dander up en slam roun' permiscus. I des tek a ole bull by de
horns 'fo' I 'fere wid a spook," and Jute's companions grunted
assent.

"W'at's the good o' yer bein' yere then?" Perkins asked, taking a
deep draught.

"Well, now, Marse Perkins, you mus'n be onreasonbul. Wat cud we do?
We des riskin' de wool on we haids stayin' yere fer comp'ny. Ef de
spook come, 'spose he tink we no business yere en des lay we out lak
he kunjer yo' dawg? We des tank you, Marse Perkins, fer anoder lil
drap ter kep we sperets out'n we shoon," and Jute shuddered
portentously.

"Well," said Perkins, with attempted bravado, "I rammed a piece o'
silver down on the bullat in my gun. 'Twix 'em both--"

"Dar now, Marse Perkins, you des been 'posed on 'bout dat silber
business. Ole Unc' Sampson w'at libed on de Simcoe place nigh on er
hun'erd yeahs, dey say, tole me lots 'bout a spook dat boddered um
w'en he a boy. Way back ole Marse Simcoe shot at de man dat hanker
fer he darter. De man put out en get drownded, but dat doan make no
dif'rence, Unc' Sampson say, kaze ole Marse Simcoe do he bes' ter
kill der man. He sorter hab kill in he heart en Unc' Sampson low a
spook know w'at gwine on in er man's in'erds, en dey des goes fer de
man dat wanter kill um on de sly, en not dose dat kill in fa'r
fight. Ole Unc' Sampson po'ful on spooks. He libed so long he get
ter be sorter spook hesef, en dey say he talk ter um haf de time
'fo' he kiner des snuf out'n lak a can'l."

"He wuz a silly old fool," growled Perkins, with a perceptible
tremor in his voice.

"Spect he wuz 'bout some tings," resumed Jute, "but know spooks, he
sut'ny did. He say ole Marse Simcoe useter plug lead en silver right
froo dat man dat want he darter, en dar was de hole en de light
shin'in' froo hit. But de spook ain' min'in' a lil ting lak dat, he
des come on all de same snoopin' roun' arter de ole man's darter.
Den one mawnin' de ole man lay stiff en daid in he baid, he eyes
starin' open ez ef he see sump'n he cudn't stan' no how. Dat wuz de
las' ob dat ar spook, Unc' Sampson say, en he say spook's cur'us dat
away. Wen dey sats'fy dere grudge dey lets up en dey doan foller de
man dey down on kaze dey on'y po'r in de place whar de man 'lowed
ter kill um."

Perkins took a mental note of this very important limitation of
ghostly persecution, and resolved that if he had any more trouble
all the crops in the State would not keep him within the haunted
limit.

He whiled away the time by aid of his jug and Job-like comforters
till it began to grow late and he drowsy.

Suddenly Jute exclaimed, "Hi! Marse Perkins, w'at dat light dancin'
up yon'er by de grabeyard?"

The overseer rose with a start, his hair rising also as he saw a
fitful jack-o'-lantern gleam, appearing and disappearing on the
cemetery hill. As had been expected, he obeyed his impulse, pouring
down whiskey until he speedily rendered himself utterly helpless;
but while his intoxication disabled him physically, it produced for
a time an excited and disordered condition of mind in which he was
easily imposed upon. Jute shook him and adjured him to get up,
saying, "I years quar soun's comin' dis way."

When satisfied that their victim could make no resistance, Jute and
companions pretended to start away in terror. Perkins tried to
implore them to remain, but his lips seemed paralyzed. A few moments
later a strange group entered the cottage--five figures dressed in
Federal uniforms, hands and faces white and ghastly, and two
carrying white cavalry sabres. Each one had its finger on its lips,
but Perkins was beyond speech. In unspeakable horror he stared
vacantly before him and remained silent and motionless. The ghostly
shapes looked at him fixedly for a brief time, then at one another,
and solemnly nodded. Next, four took him up and bore him out, the
fifth following with the jug. At the door stood an immovably tall
form, surmounted by a cavalry hat and wrapped in a long army
overcoat.

"Leftenant Scoville!" gasped Perkins.

The figure, as if the joints of its back were near the ground, made
a portentous inclination of assent and then pointed with another
white sabre to the hill, leading the way. Perkins tried to shout for
help, but his tongue seemed powerless, as in fact it was, from
terror and liquor combined. He felt himself carried swiftly and, as
he thought, surely, to some terrible doom.

At last his bearers stopped, and Perkins saw the mounds of the Union
dead rising near. He now remembered in a confused way that one more
grave had been dug than had proved necessary, and he uttered a low
howl as he felt himself lowered into it. Instantly the tall figure
which appeared to direct everything threatened him with a ghostly
sabre, and an utter paralysis of unspeakable dread fell upon him.

For a few moments they all stood around and pointed at him with
ghostly white fingers, then gradually receded until out of sight.
After a time Perkins began to get his voice, when suddenly his
tormentors appeared in terrible guise. Each white, ghostly face was
lighted up as by a tongue of fire; terrible eyes gleamed from under
wide-crowned cavalry hats and a voice was heard, in a sepulchral
whisper, "Nex' time we come fer you, we bury you!"

At this instant came a flash of lightning, followed by a tremendous
clap of thunder. The jaws of the figures dropped, the burning
splinters of light-wood they carried dropping down into the grave,
and on its half-lifeless occupant. The ghosts now disappeared
finally--in fact took to their heels; all except Chunk, who secured
the jug, nodded thrice portentously at Perkins and then retired
also, not a little shaken in his nerves, but sufficiently self-
controlled to rally his panic-stricken followers and get them to
remove their disguises before wrapping their heads in blankets.
Having removed and hidden all traces of the escapade he hooted for
the alert Zany, who had been tremblingly on the watch in spite of
her knowledge of what was going on. As she fled with Chunk before
the coming storm she gasped between the gusts, "I declar, Chunk,
sech doin's gwine ter brung a judgment."

Even Chunk inclined to this view for a time, as the lightning blazed
from sky to earth, and the thunder cracked and roared overhead. The
rain poured in such torrents that he feared Perkins might be drowned
in the grave where he had been placed. As for Aun' Jinkey, she
stared at her unexpected visitors in speechless perplexity and
terror until the fury of the tempest had passed, their voices could
be heard.




CHAPTER XXXVI

UNCLE LUSTHAH EXHORTS


The heavy thunder shower which came and passed quickly, combined
with a consciousness of their high-handed performances, so awed
Chunk and Zany and oppressed them with misgivings that they were
extremely reticent, even to Aun' Jinkey. Chunk appeared profoundly
ignorant of the ghostly disturbances, trying to say unconcernedly,
"I foun' hit a orful long en skeery trable ter de Un'on lines en I
says ter mysef, 'De Yanks fin' me down yere quicker ner I fin' dem
up Norf. Dey be comin' dis away agin sho'."

"I des tells you we all git whip nigh ter daith ef you ain' mo'
keerful," said Aun' Jinkey, solemnly. "I kyant stan' de goin's on. I
gwine ter pieces ev'y day en nights git'n wusser'n de days. De gust
ober en you bettah light out. Ef Zany missed dey come yere lookin'
fer her."

They needed no urging to depart, for Zany was now as scared as Chunk
had ever wished her to be, but her terrors were taking a form which
inclined her to cling to the old landmarks rather than risk she knew
not what, in running away. As she and Chunk were stealing toward the
kitchen a flash of lightning from the retiring storm revealed a
startling figure--that of Perkins, drenched and bedraggled, his eyes
almost starting from their sockets as he staggered toward his
cottage. Chunk's courage at last gave way; he turned and fled,
leaving Zany in the lurch. Frightened almost to the point of
hysterics, she crept to her bed and shook till morning, resolving
meanwhile to have done with Chunk and all his doings. The next day
Mrs. Baron found her the most diligent and faithful of servants.

Perkins reached his door and looked into the dark entrance, the
gusts having blown out the light. He shook his head, muttered
something unintelligible, and then bent his uncertain steps to the
tavern. The next morning Mr. Baron suspected where he was and went
to see him. The overseer was found to be a pitiable spectacle,
haggard trembling, nervous in the extreme, yet sullen and reticent
and resolute in his purpose never to set foot on the plantation
again. Mr. Baron then closed all business relations and sent over
the man's belongings. Perkins became a perplexing problem to Mr.
Baron and his household and a terrible tradition to the negroes, who
regarded him as a haunted man. Every day and night passed in
quietness after his departure enabled them to breathe more freely
and to become more assured that he "wuz de on'y one de spooks
arter."

Chunk felt that he had disgraced himself by running away and leaving
Zany, and did not venture back till the second night after the
culmination of his schemes. He found Jute and his associates scared,
sullen and inclined to have little to do with him in their present
mood. Then he hooted in vain for Zany. The girl heard him but made
no sign, muttering, "Sence you runned away en lef me I'se done wid
runnin' away. You tootin' lak a squinch-owl en kin kep comp'ny wid
squinch-owls."

Only Aun' Jinkey gave him food and a sort of fearful welcome, and
poor Chunk found himself at last a very unhappy and skulking outlaw.

Mr. Baron gradually rallied under his increased responsibilities and
resolved to be his own overseer. Although an exacting master, the
negroes knew he was not a severe one if they did their work fairly
well. The spook scare had given Uncle Lusthah renewed influence and
he used it in behalf of peace and order. "Our fren Miss Lou, sick,"
he urged. "We mek her trouble en we mek oursefs trouble ef we doan
go on peac'ble. What kin we do eny way at dis yer time? De Norf
fightin' fer us en hit all 'pen' on de Norf. We mus' kep a gwine ez
we is till de times en seasons ob de Lawd is 'vealed."

And so for a period, quiet again settled down on the old plantation.
Mrs. Whately and Aun' Jinkey nursed Miss Lou into a slow, languid
convalescence, till at last she was able to sit in an easy-chair on
the piazza. This she would do by the hour, with a sad, apathetic
look on her thin face. She was greatly changed, her old rounded
outlines had shrunken and she looked frail enough for the winds to
blow away. The old, fearless, spirited look in her blue eyes had
departed utterly, leaving only an expression of settled sadness,
varied by an anxious, expectant gaze, suggesting a lingering hope
that some one might come or something happen to break the dreadful
silence which began, she felt, when Scoville fell from his horse in
the darkening forest. It remained unbroken, and her heart sank into
more hopeless despondency daily. Aun' Jinkey and Zany were charged
so sternly to say nothing to disturb the mind of their young
mistress that they obeyed. She was merely given the impression that
Perkins had gone away of his own will, and this was a relief. She
supposed Chunk had returned to his Union friends, and this also
became the generally accepted view of all except Aun' Jinkey.

Mrs. Whately came to spend part of the time at The Oaks and part on
her own plantation, where her presence was needed. Her devotion
would have won Miss Lou's whole heart but for the girl's ever-
present consciousness of Mad Whately in the background. The mother
now had the tact to say nothing about him except in a natural and
general way, occasionally trying the experiment of reading extracts
from his brief letters, made up, as they were, chiefly of ardent
messages to his cousin. These Miss Lou received in silence and
unfeigned apathy.

The respite and quiet could not last very long in these culminating
months of the war. Without much warning even to the negroes, who
appeared to have a sort of telegraphic communication throughout the
region, a Union column forced its way down the distant railroad and
made it a temporary line of communication. Mr. Baron suddenly woke
up to the fact that the nearest town was occupied by the Federals
and that his human property was in a ferment. A foraging party soon
appeared in the neighborhood and even visited him, but his statement
of what he had suffered and the evident impoverishment of the place
led the Union officer to seek more inviting fields.

Partly to satisfy her own mind as well as that of her niece, Mrs.
Whately asked after Scoville, but could obtain no information. The
troops in the vicinity were of a different organization, the leader
of the party a curt, grizzled veteran, bent only on obtaining
supplies. Miss Lou, sitting helplessly in her room, felt
instinctively that she did not wish even to speak to him.

To Chunk, this Union advance was a godsend. He immediately took his
horse to the railroad town, sold it for a small sum, and found
employment at the station, where his great strength secured him good
wages. He could handle with ease a barrel akin to himself in shape
and size.

Uncle Lusthah suddenly found immense responsibility thrust upon him.
In the opinion of the slaves the time and seasons he had predicted
and asked his flock to wait for had come. Negroes from other and
nearer plantations were thronging to the town, and those at The Oaks
were rapidly forming the purpose to do likewise. They only waited
the sanction of their religious teacher to go almost in a body. The
old preacher was satisfied they would soon go any way, unless
inducements and virtual freedom were offered. He therefore sought
Mr. Baron and stated the case to him.

The old planter would listen to nothing. He was too honorable to
temporize and make false promises. "Bah!" he said, irritably, "the
Yanks will soon be driven off as they were before. I can't say you
are free! I can't give you a share in the crops! It's contrary to
the law of the State and the whole proper order of things. I
wouldn't do it if I could. What would my neighbors think? What would
I think of myself? What a fine condition I'd be in after the Yanks
are all driven from the country! No, I shall stand or fall with the
South and maintain the institutions of my fathers. If you people
leave me now and let the crops go to waste you will soon find
yourselves starving. When you come whining back I'll have nothing to
feed you with."

Uncle Lusthah cast an imploring look on Miss Lou where she sat in
her chair, with more interest expressed in her wan face than she had
shown for a long time.

"Uncle Lusthah," she said earnestly, "don't you leave me. As soon as
I am able I'll buy you of uncle and set you free. Then you can
always work for me."

"I doan wanter lebe you, young mistis, I sut'ny doan, ner der ole
place whar I al'ays libed. But freedom sweet, young mistis, en I
wanter feel I free befo' I die."

"You shall, Uncle Lusthah. You have earned YOUR freedom, anyway."

"Tut, tut, Louise, that's no way to talk," said her uncle testily.

The old slave looked from one to the other sorrowfully, shook his
head and slowly retired.

"Remember what I said," Miss Lou called after him, and then sank
back in her chair.

Uncle Lusthah had to relate the result of his conference, and the
consequence was an immediate outbreak of a reckless, alienated
spirit. That afternoon the field hands paid no attention to Mr.
Baron's orders, and he saw that slaves from other plantations were
present. Uncle Lusthah sat at his door with his head bowed on his
breast. His people would listen to him no more, and he himself was
so divided in his feelings that he knew not what to say.

"Hit may be de Lawd's doin's ter set He people free," he muttered,
"but somehow I kyant brung mysef ter lebe dat po' sick chile. Ole
mars'r en ole miss kyant see en woan see, en dat lil chile w'at
stan' up fer us in de 'stremity ob triberlation be lef wid no one
ter do fer her. I berry ole en stiff in my jints en I cud die
peaceful ef I know I free; but hit 'pears that de Lawd say ter me,
'Uncle Lusthah, stay right yere en look arter dat lil sick lam'. Den
I mek you free w'en de right time come.'"

Uncle Lusthah soon had the peace of the martyr who has chosen his
course. Mr. Baron also sat on his veranda with head bowed upon his
breast. He too had chosen his course, and now in consequence was
sunk in more bitter and morose protest than ever. Events were beyond
his control and he knew it, but he would neither yield nor change.
This was the worst that had yet befallen him. Black ruin stared him
in the face, and he stared back with gloomy yet resolute eyes. "I
will go down with my old colors flying," he resolved, and that was
the end of it.

His wife was with him in sympathy, but her indomitable spirit would
not be crushed. She was almost ubiquitous among the house and yard
slaves, awing them into a submission which they scarcely understood
and inwardly chafed at. She even went to the quarters and produced
evident uneasiness by her stern, cutting words. None dared reply to
her, but when the spell of her presence was removed all resumed
their confused and exultant deliberations as to their future course.

Aun' Jinkey, sitting with Miss Lou, scoffed at the idea of going
away. "Long ez my chimly-corner en my pipe dar I dar too," she said.
"Dis freedom business so mux up I kyant smoke hit out nohow."

Zany was in a terribly divided state of mind. Were it not for Miss
Lou, she would have been ready enough to go, especially as she had
heard that Chunk was at the railroad town. Her restless spirit
craved excitement and freedom: a townful of admirers, with Chunk
thrown in, was an exceedingly alluring prospect. With all her
faults, she had a heart, and the sick girl had won her affection
unstintedly. When therefore Miss Lou summoned her and fixed her sad,
pleading blue eyes upon her, the girl threw her apron over her head
and began to cry "Doan say a word, Miss Lou," she sobbed, "doan ax
me not ter go kase ef you does I kyant go."

"Sech foolishness!" ejaculated Aun' Jinkey with a disdainful sniff.
"She lebe you des lak a cat dat snoop off enywhar en arter enybody
w'at got mo' vittles. Wat she keer?"

Down came the apron, revealing black eyes blazing through the tears
which were dashed right and left as Zany cried, "You ole himage,
w'at you keer? You tink a hun'erd times mo' ob yer pipe ner Miss
Lou. Long ez you kin smoke en projeck in dat ar ole cabin hole you
woan lebe his 'less you turned out. I des gwine ter stay out'n spite
en doan wanter go a hun'erd mile ob dat gran'boy ob yourn."

"There, Zany," said Miss Lou gently, holding out her hand. "I
understand you and Aun' Jinkey both, and you both are going to stay
out of love for me. I reckon you won't be sorry in the end."

Up went the apron again and Zany admitted, "I kyant lebe you, Miss
Lou, I des kyant," as she rushed away to indulge in the feminine
relief of tears without stint.

Mr. and Mrs. Baron passed a sleepless night, for even the question
of food would be problematical if all the able-bodied men and women
on the place went away. In the early dawn there were ominous sounds
at the quarters, and as the light increased a spectacle which filled
the old planter and his wife with rage was revealed. The quarters
were empty and all were trooping toward the avenue with bundles
containing their belongings. This was to be expected, but the act
which excited the direst indignation was the hitching of the only
pair of mules left on the place that were worth anything to the old
family carriage. Aun' Suke was waddling toward this with the feeling
that a "char'ot wuz waitin' fer her now, sho!"

Mr. and Mrs. Baron looked at each other in quick, comprehensive
sympathy, then hastily and partially dressed. Mr. Baron took his
revolver while "ole miss" snatched a sharp carving-knife from the
dining-room. By the time they reached the scene, Aun' Suke filled
the back seat of the carriage and the rest of the space was being
filled with babies.

"Stop that!" shouted Mr. Baron. "Before I'll let you take my mules
I'll shoot 'em both."

"Ole miss" wasted no time in threats--she simply cut the traces and
there were Aun' Suke and the babies stranded. The negroes drew
together on one side and master and mistress on the other. The faces
of the latter were aglow with anger; on the countenances of the
former were mingled perplexity and sullen defiance, but the old
habit of deference still had its restraining influence.

"Go and starve and leave us to starve, if you will," shouted Mr.
Baron, "but you shall steal none of my property."

Angry mutterings began among the negroes, and it were hard to say
how the scene would have ended if old Uncle Lusthah had not suddenly
appeared between the opposing parties, and held up his hand
impressively.

"I gib up my charnce ter be free," he began with simple dignity. "My
body 'longs ter you yit, mars'r en misus; but not my speret. Out'n
dat I gwine ter speak plain fer de fear ob man clean gone fum me.
Mars'r, w'at I say ter you? Lak ole Pharo, you t'ink yo'sef bigger'n
de Lawd. Ef you'd done spoke ter de hans en say 'des go home en dar
de crops en shar' togeder' dey ud stayed en wucked fer you 'tented
like, but you des talk lak ole Pharo. Now de people gwine en you
kyant stop dem. We knowed 'bout de prokermation ob de gre't Linkum.
We know we bin free dis long time. We al'ays know you no right ter
keep us slabes. Dis yer God's worl'. Hit don't 'long ter you en
misus. He ain't stoppin' ter 'suit you 'bout He doin's. Ef you
s'mitted ter He will you'd a gwine 'long easy lak de crops grow in
spring-time. Now hit des de same ez ef you plant de crops in de fall
en'spect de Lawd ter turn de winter inter summer ter please you. I
berry ole en had 'spearance. I'se prayed all de long night en de
Lawd's gib me ter see inter de futer. Lak Moses I may never git in
de promised lan' ob freedom, but hit dar en you kyant kep de people
out'n hit. Ef you doan bend ter He will, you breaks. Wen all de
han's gone en de fiel's is waste t'ink ober de trufe. De Lawd did'n
mek dis yer worl' ter suit you en misus. P'raps He t'ink ez much ob
dem po' souls dar (pointing at the negroes) ez ob yourn. Didn't I
stan' wid dem w'at die ter mek us free? Der blood wateh dis hull
lan' en I feels hit in my heart dat de Lawd'll brung up a crap dis
lan' neber saw befo'. Please reckermember, mars'r en misus, de gre't
wuck ob de Lawd gwine right along des ez ef you ain' dar."

Then the old man turned to the negroes and in his loud, melodious
voice concluded, "I gibs you one mo' 'zortation. You IS free, but ez
I say so of'un you ain' free ter do foolishness. Tek yo' wibes en
chil'un; dey yourn. Tek yo' clo'es; you arned urn en much mo', but
you kyant tek de mules en de ker'age: dey mars'r's. Go en wuck lak
men en wimmin fer hon'st wages en show you fit ter be free.
Reckermember all I tole you so of'un. De Lawd go wid you en kep you
in de way ob life everlas'in'."

The better element among the negroes prevailed, for they felt that
they had had a spokesman who voiced their best and deepest feelings.
One after another came and wrung the hand of the old man and
departed. To "Pharo" and his wife few vouchsafed a glance, for they
had cut the cord of human sympathy. Many messages of affection,
however, were left for Miss Lou. The mothers took the babies from
the carriage, Aun' Suke was helped out and she sulkily waddled down
the avenue with the rest. By the time she reached the main road her
powers of locomotion gave out, causing her to drop, half-hysterical,
by the wayside. Some counselled her to go back, saying they would
come for her before long; but pride, shame and exhaustion made it
almost as difficult to go back as to go forward, and so she was left
lamenting. With stern, inflexible faces, master and mistress watched
their property depart, then returned to the house, while Uncle
Lusthah mended the harness temporarily and took the carriage back to
its place. Standing aloof, Zany had watched the scene, wavering
between her intense desire to go and her loyalty to Miss Lou. The
sick girl had conquered, the negress winning an heroic victory over
herself. When she entered the back door of the mansion, her face
rigid from the struggle she had passed through, she was in no lamb-
like mood. Neither was her mistress, who was angrier than she had
ever been in her life.

"Well," she said to Zany in cold, cutting tones, "what are you doing
here? Looking around for something to carry off before you go also?"

Stung to the quick by this implied charge and lack of appreciation
of her great self-sacrifice, Zany replied hotly, "I done wid you,
misus. I tek no mo' orders fum you. I stay fer sump'n you doan know
not'n 'bout--lub, but lub fer Miss Lou. Ef she kyant 'tect em 'gin
you den I go."




CHAPTER XXXVII

A NEW ROUTINE


It certainly was a dismal, shrunken household that Mrs. Baron
presided over that morning. Aun' Jinkey came to the rescue and
prepared a meagre breakfast. Miss Lou's room being on the side of
the house furthest from the scenes of the early morning, she had
slept on till Zany wakened her. She listened in a sort of dreary
apathy to all that had occurred, feeling that she was too weak
physically and too broken-spirited to interfere. She also had the
impression that it would have been of no use--that her uncle and
aunt were so fixed in their ways and views that nothing but harsh
experience could teach them anything. In answer to Zany's appeal for
protection against "ole miss" Miss Lou said, "We won't say anything
more about it now till you get over your hurt feelings, which are
very natural. Of course my aunt can't punish you--that's out of the
question now, but by and by I reckon you will do for her out of love
for me when you see it will save me trouble. You have done a good,
unselfish act in staying with me, and having begun so well, you will
keep on in the same way. After all of the rest get free you will,
too. What's more, when I come into my property I'll make free all
who stand by me now."

So Zany brought her up a nice little breakfast and was comforted.

When at last the young girl with weak, uncertain steps came down to
her easy-chair on the piazza, she found her uncle gloomily smoking,
and her aunt solacing her perturbed mind with her chief resource--
housekeeping affairs. Little was said beyond a formal greeting.

As Miss Lou sat gazing vacantly and sadly down the avenue, a huge
figure appeared, making slow, painful progress toward the house. At
last Aun' Suke was recognized, and the truth flashed across the
girl's mind that the fat old cook had found she could not get away.
Finally the woman sat down under a tree not far from the house, not
only overcome by heat and fatigue, but also under the impression
that she must open negotiations before she could expect to be
received.

"There," said Mr. Baron grimly, "is one of them coming back already.
They'll be sneaking, whining back when the crops are spoiled and
it's too late."

Miss Lou rose feebly and got an old sunshade from the hall.

"Louise, you are not able--I forbid it."

The girl felt she had strength to get to the old woman but not
enough to contend with her uncle, so she went slowly down the steps
without a word. Mr. Baron growled, "I might as well speak to the
wind as to anybody on the place any more."

When Aun' Suke saw the girl coming to her she scrambled to her feet,
and holding up her hands ejaculated all sorts of remorseful and
deprecatory comments.

"Welcome back," said Miss Lou kindly, when in speaking distance.
"There, don't go on so. Sit down and I'll sit down with you." She
sank at the foot of the tree and leaned against it, panting.

"I des feels ez ef de yeth ud op'n en swaller me," began the poor
renegade, quivering with emotion.

"Don't talk so, Aun' Suke. I'm not strong enough to stand
foolishness. You will go back with me and stay with Uncle Lusthah
and Aun' Jinkey and Zany. You will cook for us all just the same and
by and by you will be as free as I am."

"Well, Miss Lou, I comin' back lak de perdigous son, but ole miss
ain' got no fatted calf fer me, ner you neider, I reckon. I des
feered on w'at ole miss say en do."

"Aun' Suke," said the girl, taking the woman's great black hand,
"you stand by me and I'll stand by you. When I get stronger we'll
see what's best to be done. Now I can't think, I don't know. I only
feel that we must help one another till all is clearer."

Mrs. Baron accepted Aun' Suke's presence in the kitchen again in
grim silence. She believed it the earnest of the speedy return of
all the others, and resolved to bide her time when the Southern
armies restored completely the old order of things.

Mrs. Whately drove over during the day and was aghast at what had
occurred.

"I have kept the great majority of my hands by conciliation and
promising them a share in the crops. Indeed, I had virtually to
treat them as if free. It was either that or ruin."

"Well," growled her brother, "you can't keep that pace and I
wouldn't begin it."

"I can only do the best I can, from day to day," sighed the lady,
"and I've been almost distracted."

After showing her affectionate solicitude for Miss Lou she returned,
feeling that her presence at home was now hourly needed.

Gradually the little household began to adjust itself to the new
order of things, and day by day Mr. and Mrs. Baron were compelled to
see that the few servants who ministered to them were kept at their
tasks by an influence in which they had no part. Almost
imperceptibly, Miss Lou regained her strength, yet was but the
shadow of her former self. Uncle Lusthah gave his attention to the
garden, already getting weed-choked. The best he could hope to do
was to keep up a meagre supply of vegetables, and Zany in the cool
of the day often gave him a helping hand.

Late one afternoon Miss Lou, feeling a little stronger, went to Aun'
Jinkey's cabin and sat down on the doorstep.

"Oh, mammy," she sighed, "I'm so tired, I'm so tired; yet I can do
nothing at all."

"You po' lil chile," groaned Aun' Jinkey, "how dif'ernt you looks
ner w'en you fus sot dar en wish sump'n happen."

"Oh," cried the girl almost despairingly, "too much has happened!
too much has happened! How can God let such troubles come upon us?"

"Eben Uncle Lusthah hab ter say he dunno. He say he des gwine ter
hole on twel de eend, en dat all he kin do."

"Oh, mammy, I'm all at sea. I haven't any strength to hold on and
there doesn't seem anything to hold on to. Oh, mammy, mammy, do you
think he's surely dead?"

"I feared he is," groaned Aun' Jinkey. "Dey say he spook come arter
Perkins en dat w'y de oberseer clared out."

"Oh, horrible!" cried the girl. "If his spirit could come here at
all would it not come to me instead of to that brutal wretch? Oh,
mammy, I don't know which is worse, your religion or your
superstition. You believe in a God who lets such things happen and
you can think my noble friend would come back here only to scare a
man like Perkins. It's all just horrible. Oh, Allan, Allan, are you
so lost to me that you can never look goodwill into my eyes again?"

Tears rushed to her eyes for the first time since she heard the
dreadful tidings, and she sobbed in her mammy's arms till exhausted.

That outburst of grief and the relief of tears given by kindly
nature was the decisive point in Miss Lou's convalescence. She was
almost carried back to her room and slept till late the following
day. When she awoke she felt that her strength was returning, and
with it came the courage to take up the burdens of life. For weeks
it was little more than the courage of a naturally brave,
conscientious nature which will not yield to the cowardice and
weakness of inaction. The value of work, of constant occupation, to
sustain and divert the mind, was speedily learned. Gradually she
took the helm of outdoor matters from her uncle's nerveless hands.
She had a good deal of a battle in respect to Chunk. It was a sham
one on the part of Zany, as the girl well knew, for Chunk's
"tootin'" was missed terribly. Mr. and Mrs. Baron at first refused
point-blank to hear of his returning.

"Uncle," said his ward gravely, "is only your property at stake? I
can manage Chunk, and through him perhaps get others. I am not
responsible for changes which I can't help; I am to blame if I sit
down idly and helplessly and do nothing better than fret or sulk.
Your bitter words of protest are not bread and bring no money. For
your sakes as well as my own you must either act or let me act."

The honorable old planter was touched at his most sensitive point,
and reluctantly conceded, saying, "Oh, well, if you think you can
save any of your property out of the wreck, employ Chunk on your own
responsibility."

So Chunk was reinstated in his granny's cabin and given a share in
all he could raise and secure of the crops. The negro was as shrewd
as Jacob of old, but like the Hebrew patriarch could do much under
the inspiration of his twofold affection for Zany and his young
mistress.

And so the summer and early fall wore away. The railroad line of
communication was maintained, and upon it drifted away Mr. Baron's
former slaves and the great majority of the others in the
neighborhood. The region in which the plantation was situated was so
remote and sparsely settled that it was a sort of border land,
unclaimed and unvisited by any considerable bodies from either
party. Rev. Dr. Williams' congregation had shrunken to a handful. He
officiated at one end of the church, and his plump, black-eyed
daughter led the singing at the other, but it was observed that she
looked discontented rather than devotional. She was keenly alive to
the fact that there was not an eligible man left in the parish.
Uncle Lusthah patiently drove the mules every clear Sunday morning
and Mr. and Mrs. Baron sat in the carriage whose springs Aun' Suke
had sorely tried; but Miss Lou would not go with them. After his
readiness to marry her to her cousin she felt it would be worse than
mockery to listen to Dr. Williams again.

But a deep, yet morbid spiritual change was taking place in the
girl. As of old, she thought and brooded when her hands were busy,
and during her long, solitary evenings on the piazza. Strange to
say, she was drawing much of her inspiration from a grave--the grave
of a rough, profane soldier whom she knew only as "Yarry." There was
something in his self-forgetful effort in her behalf, even when in
the mortal anguish of death, which appealed to her most powerfully.
His heroism, expecting, hoping for no reward, became the finest
thing in her estimation she had ever witnessed. Her own love taught
her why Scoville was attracted by her and became ready to do
anything for her. "That's the old, old story," she mused, "ever
sweet and new, yet old as the world. Poor Yarry was actuated by a
purely unselfish, noble impulse. Only such an impulse can sustain
and carry me through my life. No, no, Mrs. Waldo, I can never become
happy in making others happy. I can never be happy again. The bullet
which killed Allan Scoville pierced my heart also and it is dead,
but that poor soldier taught me how one can still live and suffer
nobly, and such a life must be pleasing to the only God I can
worship." All wondered at the change gradually taking place in the
girl. It was too resolute, too much the offspring of her will rather
than her heart to have in it much gentleness, but it was observed
that she was becoming gravely and patiently considerate of others,
even of their faults and follies. As far as possible, her uncle and
aunt were allowed their own way without protest, the girl
sacrificing her own feelings and wishes when it was possible. They
at last began to admit that their niece was manifesting a, becoming
spirit of submission and deference, when in fact her management of
their affairs was saving them from an impoverishment scarcely to be
endured.

For Mrs. Whately the girl now had a genuine and strong affection,
chilled only by her belief that the plan in regard to the son was
ever in the mother's mind. So indeed it was. The sagacious woman
watched Miss Lou closely and with feelings of growing hope as well
as of tenderness. The girl was showing a patience, a strength of
mind, and, above all, a spirit of self-sacrifice which satisfied
Mrs. Whately that she was the one of all the world for her son.

"I do believe," she thought, "that if I can only make Louise think
it will be best for us all as well as Madison, she will yield. The
spirit of self-sacrifice seems her supreme impulse. Her sadness will
pass away in time, and she would soon learn to love the father of
her children. What's more, there is something about her now which
would hold any man's love. See how her lightest wish controls those
who work for her, even that harum-scarum Zany."

In the late autumn a long-delayed letter threw Mrs. Whately into a
panic of fear and anxiety. A surgeon wrote that her son had been
severely wounded and had lost his left arm, but that he was doing
well.




Here the author laid down his pen. In Mr. Roe's journal, under date
of July 11, is an entry alluding to a conversation with a friend.
That conversation concerned the conclusion of this book, and was, in
effect, substantially the same as the outline given by him in a
letter, part of which is quoted as follows:

"It is not my purpose to dwell further on incidents connected with
the close of the war, as the book may be considered too long
already. It only remains for me now to get all my people happy as
soon as possible. Zany and Chunk 'make up,' and a good deal of their
characteristic love-making will be worked in to relieve the rather
sombre state of things at this stage. Whately returns with his empty
sleeve, more of a hero than ever in his own eyes and his mother's.
Miss Lou thinks him strangely thoughtful and considerate in keeping
away, as he does, after a few short visits at The Oaks. The truth
is, he is wofully disappointed at the change in his cousin's looks.
This pale, listless, hollow-eyed girl is not the one who set him to
reading 'Taming of the Shrew.' That her beauty of color and of
outline could ever return, he does not consider; and in swift
revulsion of feeling secretly pays court elsewhere.

"Mrs. Whately, however, makes up for her son's deficiencies. Utterly
ignorant how affairs are shaping, she works by her representations
upon Miss Lou's sympathies until the weary consent is wrung from the
poor girl--'Nothing matters to me any more! If it makes you all
happy--why--then--But I must wait a year.' She feels that her love
for Allan Scoville will never be less, and that this period of time
is little enough to devote to him in silent memory.

"The delighted aunt hastens to report to her son, who stares rather
blankly, for a lover, as he hears of this concession on his cousin's
part, and without answer, he orders his horse and rides furiously
away. The ride is one that has been very frequently taken since the
young man's return, and pretty soon he is in earnest conversation
with the rosy-cheeked, black-eyed daughter of Dr. Williams. There
seems to be very good understanding between the two, and later, just
at the final scene, it will come out as effectively as can be
portrayed the startling news of their secret marriage.

"The days go on. One afternoon in the late autumn, Aun' Jinkey,
smoking and 'projeckin'' as usual in her cabin, has a vision which
fairly sends her heart, as she will express it, 'right troo de
mouf.' Was it a 'spook,' or had the dead really come back to life?
And I hear her exclaim, throwing up her hands, 'Bress de Lawd, Marse
Scoville, dat you? Whar you drap fum dis yere time? I doan almos'
know you widout de un'fo'm!'

"But the 'vision' will not stop to narrate to the old aunty of his
capture, imprisonment and illness, his release and hurried journey
North. He catches sight of the slight figure of Miss Lou in the
distance near the run, and in a moment is beside her. 'Only death
could keep me from seeking you and living for you always, did I not
tell you, my darling, my darling?'

"And here I will leave them. The reader's imagination will picture
more if more is wished. It is better so."

THE END






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