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Title: A Little Traitor to the South - A War Time Comedy With a Tragic Interlude
Author: Brady, Cyrus Townsend, 1861-1920
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_MACMILLAN'S STANDARD LIBRARY_

[Illustration: "Miss Fanny Glen detested a masterful man."]



A Little Traitor to the South

A WAR-TIME COMEDY

With a

TRAGIC INTERLUDE



By

Cyrus Townsend Brady



The Illustrations are by A. D. Rahn
Decorations by C. E. Hooper.



NEW YORK
GROSSET & DUNLAP
PUBLISHERS


Copyright, 1903,
By CYRUS TOWNSEND BRADY.

Copyright, 1904,
By THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

Set up and electrotyped. Published February, 1904. Reprinted
August, 1904; March, September, 1907; April, 1908; April, 1909.

Norwood Press
J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



_To "Patty"_

_Most Faithful and Efficient of Coadjutors_



PREFACE


"The tragic interlude" in this little war-time comedy of the affections
really happened as I have described it. The men who went to their death
beside the _Housatonic_ in Charleston harbor were Lieutenant George F.
Dixon of the Twenty-first Alabama Infantry, in command; Captain J. F.
Carlson of Wagoner's Battery; and Seamen Becker, Simpkins, Wicks,
Collins, and Ridgway of the Confederate Navy, all volunteers. These
names should be written in letters of gold on the roll of heroes. No
more gallant exploit was ever performed. The qualities and characteristics
of that death trap, the _David_, were well known to everybody. The
history of former attempts to work her is accurately set down in the
text of the story. Dixon and his men should be remembered with Decatur,
Cushing, Nields, and Hobson.

The torpedo boat was found after the war lying on the bottom of the
harbor, about one hundred feet from the wreck of the _Housatonic_,
with her bow pointing toward the sloop of war and with every man of her
crew dead at his post,--just as they all expected.

I shall be happy if this novel serves to call renewed attention to this
splendid exhibition of American heroism. Had they not fought for a
cause which was lost they would still be remembered, as, in any event,
they ought to be.

For the rest, here is a love story in which the beautiful Southern girl
does not espouse the brave Union soldier, or the beautiful Northern
girl the brave Southern soldier. They were all Southern, all true to
the South, and they all stayed so except Admiral Vernon, and he does
not count.

CYRUS TOWNSEND BRADY.

BROOKLYN, N.Y.,
February, 1904.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                                    PAGE

   I. Hero _versus_ Gentleman                                15

  II. She Hates them Both                                    33

 III. A Strife in Magnanimity                                51

  IV. Opportunities Embraced                                 65

   V. What happened in the Strong Room                       81

  VI. An Engine of Destruction                              103

 VII. The Hour and the Man                                  115

VIII. Death out of the Deep                                 125

  IX. Miserable Pair and Miserable Night                    141

   X. A Stubborn Proposition                                157

  XI. The Confession that Cleared                           171

 XII. The Culprit is Arrested                               185

XIII. Companions in Misery                                  199

 XIV. The Woman Explains                                    223

  XV. The General's Little Comedy                           241



ILLUSTRATIONS


"Miss Fanny Glen detested a masterful man"       _Frontispiece_

                                                           PAGE

"'Ah, Sempland, have you told your little tale?'"            43

"The door was suddenly flung open"                           95

"Poor little Fanny Glen ... she had lost on every hand"     153

"'You were a traitor to the South!' said General
Beauregard, coldly"                                         191

"'Would they shoot me?' she inquired"                       219



A Little Traitor to the South



CHAPTER I

HERO VERSUS GENTLEMAN


Miss Fanny Glen's especial detestation was an assumption of authority
on the part of the other sex. If there was a being on earth to whom she
would not submit, it was to a masterful man; such a man as, if
appearances were a criterion, Rhett Sempland at that moment assumed to
be.

The contrast between the two was amusing, or would have been had not
the atmosphere been so surcharged with passionate feeling, for Rhett
Sempland was six feet high if he was an inch, while Fanny Glen by a
Procrustean extension of herself could just manage to cover the
five-foot mark; yet such was the spirit permeating the smaller figure
that there seemed to be no great disparity, from the standpoint of
combatants, between them after all.

Rhett Sempland was deeply in love with Miss Fanny Glen. His full
consciousness of that fact shaded his attempted mastery by ever so
little.

He was sure of the state of his affections and by that knowledge the
weaker, for Fanny Glen was not at all sure that she was in love with
Rhett Sempland. That is to say, she had not yet realized it; perhaps
better, she had not yet admitted the existence of a reciprocal passion
in her own breast to that she had long since learned had sprung up in
his. By just that lack of admission she was stronger than he for the
moment.

When she discovered the undoubted fact that she did love Rhett Sempland
her views on the mastery of man would probably alter--at least for a
time! Love, in its freshness, would make her a willing slave; for how
long, events only could determine. For some women a lifetime, for
others but an hour, can elapse before the chains turn from adornments
to shackles.

The anger that Miss Fanny Glen felt at this particular moment gave her
a temporary reassurance as to some questions which had agitated
her--how much she cared, after all, for Lieutenant Rhett Sempland, and
did she like him better than Major Harry Lacy? Both questions were
instantly decided in the negative--for the time being. She hated Rhett
Sempland; _per contra_, at that moment, she loved Harry Lacy. For
Harry Lacy was he about whom the difference began. Rhett Sempland,
confident of his own affection and hopeful as to hers, had attempted,
with masculine futility and obtuseness, to prohibit the further
attentions of Harry Lacy.

Just as good blood, _au fond_, ran in Harry Lacy's veins as in Rhett
Sempland's, but Lacy, following in the footsteps of his ancestors, had
mixed his with the water that is not water because it is fire.

He "crooked the pregnant hinges" of the elbow without cessation, many a
time and oft, and all the vices--as they usually do--followed _en
train_. One of the oldest names in the Carolinas had been dragged in
the dust by this latest and most degenerate scion thereof. Nay, in that
dust Lacy had wallowed--shameless, persistent, beast-like.

To Lacy, therefore, the Civil War came as a godsend, as it had to many
another man in like circumstances, for it afforded another and more
congenial outlet for the wild passion beating out from his heart. The
war sang to him of arms and men--ay, as war has sung since Troia's day,
of women, too.

He did not give over the habits of a lifetime, which, though short, had
been hard, but he leavened them, temporarily obliterated them even, by
splendid feats of arms. Fortune was kind to him. Opportunity smiled
upon him. Was it running the blockade off Charleston, or passing
through the enemy's lines with despatches in Virginia, or heading a
desperate attack on Little Round Top in Pennsylvania, he always won the
plaudits of men, often the love of women. And in it all he seemed to
bear a charmed life.

When the people saw him intoxicated on the streets of Charleston that
winter of '63 they remembered that he was a hero. When some of his more
flagrant transgressions came to light, they recalled some splendid feat
of arms, and condoned what before they had censured.

He happened to be in Charleston because he had been shot to pieces at
Gettysburg and had been sent down there to die. But die he would not,
at least not then. Ordinarily he would not have cared much about
living, for he realized that, when the war was over, he would speedily
sink back to that level to which he habitually descended when there was
nothing to engage his energies; but his acquaintance with Miss Fanny
Glen had altered him.

Lacy met her in the hospital and there he loved her. Rhett Sempland met
her in a hospital, also. Poor Sempland had been captured in an obscure
skirmish late in 1861. Through some hitch in the matter he had been
held prisoner in the North until the close of 1863, when he had been
exchanged and, wretchedly ill, he had come back to Charleston, like
Lacy, to die.

He had found no opportunity for distinction of any sort. There was no
glory about his situation, but prison life and fretting had made him
show what he had suffered. At the hospital, then, like Lacy, he too had
fallen in love with Miss Fanny Glen.

By rights the hero--not of this story, perhaps, but the real hero--was
much the handsomer of the two. It is always so in romances; and
romances--good ones, that is--are the reflex of life. Such a
combination of manly beauty with unshakable courage and reckless
audacity was not often seen as Lacy exhibited. Sempland was homely.
Lacy had French and Irish blood in him, and he showed it. Sempland was
a mixture of sturdy Dutch and English stock.

Yet if women found Lacy charming they instinctively depended upon
Sempland. There was something thoroughly attractive in Sempland, and
Fanny Glen unconsciously fell under the spell of his strong
personality. The lasting impression which the gayety and passionate
abandon of Lacy could not make, Sempland had effected, and the girl was
already powerfully under his influence--stubbornly resistant
nevertheless.

She was fond of both men. She loved Lacy for the dangers he had passed,
and Sempland because she could not help it; which marks the relative
quality of her affections. Which one she loved the better until the
moment at which the story opens she could not have told.

Nobody knew anything about Fanny Glen. At least there were only two
facts concerning her in possession of the general public. These,
however, were sufficient. One was that she was good. The men in the
hospital called her an angel. The other was that she was beautiful. The
women of the city could not exactly see why the men thought so, which
was confirmation strong as proofs of Holy Writ!

She had come to Charleston at the outbreak of the war accompanied by an
elderly woman of unexceptional manner and appearance who called herself
Miss Lucy Glen, and described herself as Miss Fanny Glen's aunt. They
had taken a house in the fashionable quarter of the city--they were not
poor at any rate--and had installed themselves therein with their
slaves.

They made no attempt to enter into the social life of the town and only
became prominent when Charleston began to feel acutely the hardships of
the war which it had done more to promote than any other place in the
land.

Then Fanny Glen showed her quality. A vast hospital was established,
and the young women of the city volunteered their services.

The corps of nurses was in a state of constant fluxion. Individuals
came and went. Some of them married patients, some of them died with
them, but Fanny Glen neither married nor died--she abided!

Not merely because she stayed while others did not, but perhaps on
account of her innate capacity, as well as her tactful tenderness, she
became the chief of the women attached to the hospital. Many a sick
soldier lived to love her. Many another, more sorely stricken, died
blessing her.

In Charleston she was regarded as next in importance to the general who
commanded the troops and who, with his ships, his forts, his guns, and
his men, had been for two years fighting off the tremendous assaults
that were hurled upon the city from the Union ironclads and ships far
out to sea. It was a point of honor to take, or to hold, Charleston,
and the Confederates held it till 1865!

Fanny Glen was a privileged character, therefore, and could go anywhere
and do anything, within the lines.

Under other circumstances there would have been a thorough inquiry by
the careful inhabitants of the proud, strict Southern city into her
family relationships; but the war was a great leveller, people were
taken at their real value when trouble demonstrated it, and few
questions were asked. Those that were asked about Fanny Glen were not
answered. It made little difference, then.

Toward the close of 1863, however, there was an eclipse in the general
hospital, for Fanny Glen fell ill.

She was not completely recovered, early in 1864, when she had the
famous interview with Rhett Sempland, but there was not the slightest
evidence of invalidism about her as she confronted him that afternoon
in February.

Wounded pride, outraged dignity, burning indignation, supplied strength
and spirit enough for a regiment of convalescents.

The difference between the two culminated in a disturbance which might
aptly be called cyclonic, for Sempland on nearly the first occasion
that he had been permitted to leave the hospital had repaired to Fanny
Glen's house and there had repeated, standing erect and looking down
upon her bended head, what he had said so often with his eyes and once
at least with his lips, from his bed in the ward: that he loved her and
wanted her for his wife.

Pleasant thing it was for her to hear, too, she could not but admit.

Yet if Fanny Glen had not rejected him, neither had she accepted him.

She had pleaded for time, she had hesitated, and would have been lost,
had Sempland been as wise as he was brave. Perhaps he wasn't quite
master of himself on account of his experience in war, and his lack of
it in women, for he instantly conceived that her hesitation was due to
some other cause than maidenly incertitude, and that Harry Lacy, of
whom he had grown mightily jealous, was at the bottom of it.

He hated and envied Lacy. More, he despised him for his weaknesses and
their consequences. The two had been great friends once, but a year or
two before the outbreak of the war they had drifted apart.

Sempland did not envy Lacy any talents that he might possess, for he
was quite confident that the only thing he himself lacked had been
opportunity--Fate had not been kind to him, but the war was not yet
over. Consequently when he jumped to the conclusion that Fanny Glen
preferred Lacy, he fell into further error, and made the frightful
mistake of depreciating his rival.

Assuming with masculine inconsistency that the half acceptance she had
given him entitled him to decide her future, he actually referred to
Lacy's well-known habits and bade her have nothing to do with him.



CHAPTER II

SHE HATES THEM BOTH


"You are," he said at last, "a lonely, unprotected young girl. Where
you come from or what you have been doesn't matter to me. I know what
you are. And that is why I love you. You have no father or brother to
advise you. I must do it and I will, much as it pains me. If you won't
take my affection, you must my counsel,"--he called it counsel, but
only an expert could have distinguished it from command--"you do not
know this man Lacy. He is a dissolute, abandoned--"

"Stop!" cried the girl. "To me he is always a gentleman--a hero."

"The man is brave enough, I'll admit. And he has done some fine
things."

"Yes, while other men have escaped dangers by being made prisoners."

By that unkind remark she lost a large part of her advantage.

"As you say," he returned, wincing under her cruel thrust, but
persistent, "but we are not discussing me now, but Lacy."

"Speaking of wickedness, you would better discuss yourself, I think,
than him."

"I will not be put off in this way, Miss Fan--"

"Miss Glen, please," she interrupted, but he paid no attention.

"Lacy is well enough as a soldier. There is much to commend in him. He
has the manner of a gentleman when he wishes to exhibit it, but
nevertheless he is not a fit person to be entrusted with the future of
a lovely, pure, innocent young girl like you."

"Shame! Shame!" cried the girl.

"You may cry 'shame' upon me," he went on calmly, "and I realize, of
course, that I am censurable in speaking thus of my rival."

"You flatter yourself."

"How is that?"

"You are no rival of Major Lacy's."

"No? Well, then, as a friend."

"Of his?"

"Of yours."

"Nor are you a friend of mine."

"Well, then, as an enemy, a fool, anything! I want to tell you that
nothing but unhappiness awaits you if you encourage him. I know him, I
tell you. I know what sort of a man he is. Unstable as water, fickle,
dissipated--"

"I'll hear no more!" cried the girl, passionately, turning her head and
attempting to leave the room.

"Excuse me," said the man, coolly, preventing her by occupying the
doorway. "You shall hear me! And hear this first of all. I am not
saying anything about Major Lacy which is not a matter of public
knowledge and which I have not said to him directly, and which I would
not repeat in his presence."

"You tell me that--"

"You do not believe me?"

"No."

"I beg to assure you, Miss Glen, upon my word of honor--and it has not
been questioned heretofore--that I told him these very things not
longer than half an hour ago. And I informed him that I intended to
tell you."

"What did he say?" she asked, her curiosity getting the better of her
for the moment.

"He laughed. Said that the South had a present and pressing need for
such as I," he replied with sturdy honesty, "but that he would take
great pleasure in killing me when the war was over if we were both
spared."

"Well, sir, was not that a fine reply?"

"It was. It was a gentleman's answer. I admired him for it and told him
so. At the same time I told him that he must cease his attentions to
you."

"By what right did you dare--" cried the girl, almost choking with
sudden and indignant protest.

"No right. Unless my love for you, with a desire to serve you, greater
than everything save my devotion to that flag yonder, can excuse me."

"And that cannot. Unless love be returned, it entails no rights
whatsoever."

"And you do not love me?"

"Love you!" cried the girl, scornfully.

"I know you don't, but won't you?" he pleaded.

"I won't!"

"Won't you try?"

"No!"

"You do not dislike me?"

"I hate you!"

"Do you love Lacy?"

"I will not allow you to question me!"

"You must answer me!" said the man, taking her almost savagely by the
arm, and in spite of herself she thrilled at his touch.

"You hurt me," said the girl.

"Nonsense! You hurt me more than I do you. Do you love this man?"

"Why not? He has his failings, his weaknesses, but he fights against
them, he tries to overcome them. The whole South knows him, loves him
for his deeds, pities him for his failings. And I--"

"Yes? You what?"

"You shall see. Meanwhile before you depreciate a brother soldier, why
don't you do something yourself? You are not in the same class."

"I wouldn't say that, Miss Glen, if I were you," exclaimed Major Lacy,
quietly entering the room through one of the long windows opening on
the veranda. "Ah, Sempland, have you told your little tale?"

[Illustration: "'Ah, Sempland, have you told your little tale?'"]

"Yes."

"Exposed me to this young lady?"

"I have."

"And condemned me as an utter scoundrel, a blackguard?"

"Not quite. I told the truth," returned Sempland, calmly, "just as I
said to you I would, and for that I am ready to answer in any way to
please you. We can settle the matter when the war is over."

"Very well. What did you say, Miss Glen?" continued Lacy, turning to
that young woman.

"I told him it wasn't true!" burst out the girl, impetuously.

"Ah, but it is," said Lacy, softly. "I am all that he says, and more,
too."

"But look at what you have done."

"But little, after all. I heard you reproaching Sempland for what he
had not done when I came in. That isn't fair. No braver man lives than
Rhett Sempland. Why, did it not take courage to defy me, to tell me to
my face that I was a scoundrel, a blackguard? And it took more courage
to defy custom, convention, propriety, to come here and tell you the
same things. No, Miss Glen, Sempland only lacks opportunity. Fortune
has not been kind to him. In that settlement after the war there will
be a struggle I'll warrant you."

"See! He can speak nobly of you," cried Fanny Glen, turning
reproachfully to Sempland.

"I never said he was not a gentleman, could not be a gentleman, that
is, when he was--when he wished to be one, that is, as well as a brave
man. He has good blood in him, but that doesn't alter the case. He
isn't a fit match for you, or for any woman. I am not speaking for
myself. I know my case is hopeless--"

"Gad!" laughed Lacy, "you have tried then and lost? It's my turn then.
Miss Glen, you have heard the worst of me this afternoon. I have been a
drunkard, a scoundrel. I have fallen low, very low. But sometimes I am
a gentleman. Perhaps in your presence I might always be. I can't tell.
I'm not sure. Will you take me for your lover, and in good time your
husband, under such circumstances? Faith, I'm afraid it'll not be for
better, but for worse."

Sempland said nothing. He would not interfere now. Fanny Glen must
answer for herself. He clenched his teeth and strove to control
himself. In spite of his efforts, however, the blood flamed into his
dark face. Fanny Glen grew very white, her blue eyes shone like stars
in the pallor of her face under her fair hair. She hesitated. She
looked from one to the other. She could not speak. She was too
conscious of that stern iron figure. Yet she would have given worlds to
say "yes" to Lacy's plea.

"Choose, Miss Glen," said Lacy, at last. It was hard for him to wait
for anything. "You stand between us, you see. I warn you if you do
not take me, you will take Sempland. Look at him,--" he smiled
satirically,--"he always gets what he wants. He is the very incarnation
of bulldog tenacity and resolution. If I don't get you, he certainly
will."

"How dare you comment upon me?" cried Sempland.

"Patience, my good sir," said the other, coolly. "You commented upon me
in my absence. I comment upon you in your presence. The advantage is
mine. As I said, Miss Glen, it is a choice between us. Do not choose
me, if you should be so fatuously inclined, because I happen to have
had some chances for distinction, for I assure you, on my honor, all
there is left of it, that if Sempland gets half a chance he'll do
better than I. Choose because you love him--or me."

The girl stared from one to the other in indignant bewilderment. Lacy
was an ideal lover. Sempland looked like a stern master, and she hated
a master. She made a half step toward the handsomer and weaker man, and
a half turn toward the homelier and stronger. In her heart of hearts
she found in that moment which she preferred. And, as love is wayward,
in the knowledge came a surprise for her--and it brought shame. Lacy
was handsome and gallant and distinguished, in spite of all, but
Sempland was strong--a man indeed.

"Oh!" she cried, looking at him, "if you only had done something great
or--"

"What!" he cried, his face alight.

But she turned instantly away. In her words Lacy, more subtile and more
used to women, read her preference and his rejection. But he smiled
bravely and kindly at her in spite of his knowledge.

"Major Lacy," she said, giving him her hand, "I esteem you, I honor
you, I respect you. I do not believe what this--what has been said
about you. But I do not love you." She drew away from him. "You were
mistaken. There is no choice between you, for I love neither of you. I
do not love anybody. I hate you both!" she flashed out inconsistently.
"Now go! I don't want to see either of you again."

She buried her face in her hands and burst into tears.

"I will do something to deserve your praise," said Sempland, in his
deep voice, turning away.

"Miss Glen," said Lacy, most graciously,--Fanny Glen's presence seemed
to call all that was good in him to the surface,--"no one has respected
me, or trusted me, or honored me as you have, for years. Sempland
cannot rob me of that, even though he should win you. Good-by, and, if
it be not grotesque from me, may God bless you!"



CHAPTER III

A STRIFE IN MAGNANIMITY


"Well, Sempland," said Lacy, with astonishing courtesy and forbearance
under all the circumstances, as he overtook the other man plodding
along the shaded street, "you don't seem to be in much greater favor
with the young lady than I."

"Lacy," returned the other, "you did well this evening. You are not
good enough for Miss Glen, I still think. Nobody is, for that matter,
but you less than others. My opinion of you, you know--"

"Faith, all the world may know it apparently!"

"That's unjust. I have never mentioned it to any one, and should not
have expressed it to Miss Glen had it not been to save her. But you
showed the stuff that was in you, that used to be in you, to-night. It
was fine. I thank you for having said--" he paused.

"What?" asked Lacy.

"Why, that about my not having had a chance, you know."

"Oh, that was a trifle."

"I know. But not many men would have said it at the time."

"I tell you what it is, Sempland. I like you, I always have liked you.
When I--er--dropped out of the old set, you know, before the war, I
didn't mind giving up any one so much as you. And I was sorry for you
to-night. You hadn't had a chance. God knows I love the girl, but I am
not the man for her. I would break her heart in a month. You don't know
women, I take it, but I think she will be yours in the end. I give her
to you."

"She is not yours to give."

"No, I know she isn't. But I withdraw in your favor."

"I don't want that sort of a fair field. Harry," went on the other man,
unconsciously dropping into the familiar form of boyhood, which caused
Lacy's face to flush with pleasure, "I am sure she loves you. I thought
it was I, at first, but since this afternoon I have changed my mind.
Why can't you be different? You are not a fit man to marry any honest
woman now, and when I thought of your record I doubted that you ever
would be. I was sure you would not, but--see here, old man! Throw the
past aside! A fellow that's got it in him to do what you have done for
the South--why can't you control yourself? Turn over a new leaf. I love
her, too. She's more to me than life itself, but her happiness is more
than mine. If she loves you, and wants you, make yourself worthy of
her. By heaven, I'll help you, if it kills me! You thought I was harsh
to-day. I swear to you if you succeed nobody will acknowledge it
quicker than I!"

"Will you tell her so?"

"I will!"

"Rhett," said the other man, stretching out his hand, "the woman I love
has this day honored me, but by heaven I believe you have honored me
more. I did think it was a low-down trick for you to go to Miss Glen,
but I know why you did it, and you were right. It's too late. I can
never be anything different. My father and grandfather both died in
drunken sprees--it's in my blood. I can't help it. I've had a chance or
two to do something a little out of the ordinary in this war, thank God
for it, but I suppose the reason I was able to carry it through was
that I cared little whether I lived or died. No, that isn't true. I'd
rather die than live, but I would like to go out of existence doing
something fine and noble. I--I--might get a better chance on the other
side, then, you know. Life is nothing to me, and there are no
possibilities in it."

He spoke bitterly. It was rare that any one saw him in that mood.

"I tell you I'm cursed! I wouldn't take that girl if she did accept me.
I only wanted to trouble you. Well, no, not exactly that, either. I
love her, God knows, but the devil's got me in his grip and--"

"I can't understand it," said Sempland, vaguely.

"Of course you can't. You're so strong and so self-contained--such as
you never can understand such as I. But to be a drunkard, and a
gambler, and a--"

He stopped and threw up his hands, and then dropped them heavily by his
side.

"It's in my blood, I tell you! It is not all my fault. Yet there is
good in me, enough good to make me go mad if I stop to think of it. I
want some way to get out of this life with honor. I leave the field for
you."

"She doesn't love--"

"You're a fool, Sempland--forgive me--about that woman. I know women
better than you. Not so much the good as the bad, but in some things
women are alike, a woman is a woman whatever she does. That girl loves
the ground you walk on."

"Nonsense! It's you."

"Pshaw! She is fascinated by what she's heard on one hand, and she
shuts her eyes to what she has heard on the other. The war is young.
We'll be beaten, of course, but not without some hard, desperate
fighting. Your chance will come, and when it does--"

"I will master it or die!"

"Of course, but don't die. Master it. Leave dying to me. I've sought
ways for it, and now one is at hand."

"What is it?"

"I am going to take out the _David_ to-night."

"What!"

"Yes. It's a dead secret, but I can tell you. There are three
blockade-runners ready to sail. The _Wabash_ lies off the Main Ship
Channel. Of course, all the others are blockaded, too, but General
Beauregard thinks that if we can torpedo the flagship the others will
hurry to her assistance and the blockade-runners can get out through
the Swash Channel. Our magazines are running low, and we must have
arms, powder, everything. There are two or three shiploads at Nassau.
This is an attempt to get to them. If we can blow up Admiral Vernon's
flagship, perhaps we can raise the blockade. At any rate it's the only
chance for the blockade-runners to get out."

"Did the general order you to do this?"

"Certainly not. I suggested it to him. They don't order any one to the
_David_, you know."

"I should say not," returned Sempland. "She's been down five times,
hasn't she?"

"Yes, and every time with all of her crew."

"How many, all told, has she carried to death?"

"Some thirty or more, I believe."

"And she has never done any damage to the enemy?"

"She scraped the paint off the _New Ironsides_ one night and scared her
people to death, I reckon, but that's all."

"Lacy!" cried Sempland, suddenly, "I have no right to ask favors of
you, but--"

"That's all right. Ask."

"Let me go to-night."

"What's the use? One officer is enough, and you could not do any good
by going along. I should be in command--"

"Let me go in your place!"

"Nonsense! It's almost certain death."

"I don't care. It's my chance. I can run the thing as well as you."

"Oh, anybody can run the thing, for that matter."

"My life is of no more value to the South or to me than yours. Come!
You have had your chances, and improved them; give this to me."

Lacy hesitated.

"Sempland, you're a fool, as I said before. You're running away from
the woman who loves you. You're risking your life."

"Never mind about that," returned the other. "She doesn't love me, and
I want to do it. For God's sake, old man, don't be selfish! Let me have
an opportunity!"

Sempland was ordinarily a reticent and a quiet man, but this
possibility awoke him into action. He pleaded so long and so hard, and
so determinedly that he overbore the other man, and finally wrung from
him a grudging assent to his request.

"If the general is willing, I'll give you my chance."

"Thank you. God bless you! If I don't come back, remember that you're
to make a man of yourself--for her."

"You will come back. You must come back!"



CHAPTER IV

OPPORTUNITIES EMBRACED


"General Beauregard," said Lacy, as the two young officers were ushered
into the general's office, "I have a most unusual request to make of
you, sir."

"What is it, Major Lacy?" returned the little general.

"I want you to relieve me of the duty of taking out the _David_
to-night, sir."

"What!"

"I want you to give it to Mr. Sempland here."

"You wish to avoid the danger?" queried Beauregard, gazing intently at
Lacy.

"He does it as a favor to me, General," interrupted Sempland. "He has
had his chance, and I have had none. I begged and implored him to allow
me to go, and only wrung a most reluctant consent from him."

The general turned his head away, his fingers tapped softly on the
desk.

"Things have not gone as we wished," he murmured half to himself, "the
South is hard pushed, indeed. The war has dragged on. It becomes harder
and harder, but we may not despair for our beloved country when her
sons strive for posts of danger and are emulous to die in her service.
Do you know what this means, Mr. Sempland?"

"What it means, General?"

"There is about one chance in a thousand of your coming back. Every
time that infernal submarine has been used she has done no damage to
the enemy and has drowned her crew. Payne was drowned in her with eight
men when she was first sent out. She was swamped by the wash of a
passing steamer on her next trial, and all hands were lost. Then she
sank at Fort Sumter wharf, carrying down six of her men. Hundley took
her into the Stono River and made a dive with her, hit mud, stuck
there, and every soul was suffocated. They raised her and fixed her up
again and tried her once more in the harbor here. She worked
beautifully for a while, but fouled the cable of the receiving ship
trying to pass under her keel, and stayed there. She has just been
raised, the dead cleared out of her, now you want to go on her again."

"I do, sir," returned Sempland.

"Is life worth so little to you that you are willing to sacrifice it?"

"There is Lacy, sir."

"Oh, he is different!" burst out the general, and then bit his lip. "It
would be greatly to Lacy's credit," had flashed into his mind, "if he
could manage to die in some such heroic action."

Lacy and Sempland knew what the general thought, and Sempland could
think of no words to bridge over the pause.

"You see," at last said Lacy, smiling satirically at Sempland, "the
general understands. You would better let me go."

"No. The thing sometimes works. Glassell got out alive when he tried to
blow up the _New Ironsides_, and anyway, I want this chance. I have had
four years of war and have spent three of it in prison. For God's sake,
General--"

"Very well. You shall have it," answered Beauregard, "but I will not
have the boat used as a submarine. You can sink her until her hatch is
awash, but no lower."

"Thank you," answered the delighted Sempland; "where shall I get a
crew?"

"One has already been selected from among hundreds who volunteered.
Five seamen are to attend to the propeller and an artillery officer to
look after the torpedo. You can steer the boat?"

"I lived on the water before I entered the army."

"All right. The _Wabash_ is lying off the Main Ship Channel. I have no
instructions to give you except to go at her and sink her. I am told
the most vulnerable spot of a ship is just forward of the mainmast. Hit
her there. Don't explode your torpedo until you are in actual contact
if possible. Glassell's went off the moment he saw her without
touching, else he would have sunk the _New Ironsides_. You will find
the torpedo boat at the government wharf. Everything is ready. You will
leave at seven. The three blockade-runners will follow you as close as
is practicable, and when you torpedo the frigate they will dart through
the Swash and try to get to sea. I reckon upon the other Yankee ships
running down to aid the _Wabash_. I'll see you on the wharf. God bless
you, and may He have mercy on your souls!" said the little general,
solemnly.

He put out his hand to the young man, and Sempland shook it vigorously.

"I pray that I may succeed for the sake of the South, sir," returned
the young man, firmly.

"For the sake of the South, gentlemen. That is our watchword," cried
Beauregard, standing up and bringing his hand to a salute.

"Have you any preparations to make, Sempland?" asked Lacy, when they
left the office.

"I have a letter to write."

"Very well. I will look after the boat and will meet you on the wharf.
Shall you see Miss Glen before you go?"

"No."

"You must."

"I cannot. What difference does it make to her, anyway? I will be at
the wharf"--he looked at his watch, it was already six o'clock--"in
three-quarters of an hour. Good-by."

The two men shook hands and separated.

"The boat is ready," said Lacy to himself. "I saw to that this
afternoon. There is nothing for me to do there. I wonder--by Jove, I'll
do it!"

A few minutes after he was ushered again into the presence of Miss
Fanny Glen. She had at first pleaded indisposition, but he had insisted
upon seeing her.

"I have something of so much importance to tell you, Miss Glen," he
began, as she entered the room, "that I was forced to override your
desires."

"Is it about the subject that we--I--talked about this afternoon? If
so--"

"It is not. I shall say no more on that score. I had my answer then."

"I am very sorry," continued the girl. "I admire you, respect you,
but--but--I do not--"

"I understand. Never mind that. You said that Sempland had never done
anything to distinguish himself. Well, he's going to do it to-night."

"What is he going to do?" asked the girl, all the listlessness
instantly going out of her manner.

"He is going to take out the _David_."

"Yes?"

"And blow up the _Wabash_."

Her hand went to her heart. Her face turned whiter than the frock she
wore.

"My God!" she whispered, "Admiral Vernon's ship!"

"She loves him! She loves him!" flashed into Lacy's mind, and for the
moment he suffered agonies of jealous pain.

"But," continued the girl, "why should they--"

"In the first place," went on Lacy, "if the venture succeeds, we sink a
noble ship and put out of the way a most determined enemy, and we hope
to let the blockaded cotton ships get to sea."

"But the _David_!" said the girl, who knew the sinister story of the
crazy submarine torpedo boat as did every one in Charleston. "It is
sure death!"

"It is dangerous," said Lacy, softly, "but General Beauregard has
ordered Sempland to keep her on the surface. That ought to give them a
chance. Glassell escaped, you remember, when he tried the _New
Ironsides_."

"He will be killed! He will be killed!" she cried piteously,
"and--Admiral Vernon!"

"What is the Yankee admiral to you, to any of us?" Lacy asked,
curiously interested to know the meaning of her remark.

"Why do you tell me of all this?" she asked, failing to notice his
question in her anxiety and alarm.

"Because I want you to know Sempland as the hero he is, and
because--forgive my frankness--I believe that you love him. So I want
him to hear you say it before he goes out. It will double his chances
of escape if he has your love to think of. You will inspire him to come
back. As it is now, I am afraid he does not especially care to. He's
too good a man to lose, if we--if you--can save him, Miss Fanny."

"And this man abused you to me this afternoon!" murmured the girl.

"He said what was true. I honor him for it. I love you, Miss Fanny. I
am proving it to you now as I proved it to him when I gave him my place
at his earnest entreaty. The detail was mine."

"Why did you do it?"

"For his sake, for yours. It's his solitary chance. I've had so many,
you know."

"And he is going to blow up the _Wabash_, the admiral's ship, did you
say?"

"Yes, if he can."

Fanny Glen was a picture of terror plainly apparent in spite of her
valiant effort to conceal her feelings. Her agitation was so
overwhelming, her anxiety so pronounced, that even on the hypothesis of
an ardent affection for Sempland, Lacy was completely at loss to
account for her condition. What could it mean? But he had no time to
speculate upon it. The minutes were flying by.

"Come, Miss Glen," he said at last, "it isn't so bad as all that."

"But those men on the ship, the--the admiral! They won't have a chance
for their lives. It is appalling to think of! I cannot bear it! I--"

"Let them lift the blockade then," coolly returned the young officer;
"it is a chance of war. Don't waste your sympathy on them. Bestow it
nearer at hand. Sempland starts in half an hour. Won't you see him
before he goes?"

"Yes," whispered the girl, "if you will send him to me."

"There is no time to lose. I will have him here in a few moments."

As he turned away the girl stretched out her hand to him.

"You have been very good--very brave--very noble," she faltered. "I
wish--I--I loved you more than--than I do."

He stooped over her and kissed her bended head. She was a little woman
and so appealing. He breathed a prayer over her and tore himself away.

"Thank you," he said, "you have rewarded me. Good-by."



CHAPTER V

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE STRONG ROOM


As she heard his departing footstep on the porch the poor girl threw
herself down upon her knees and lifted her hands.

"The South and--and--he, mistaken, but still--ah, where is my duty? The
ship and Rhett Sempland! I love him. I cannot let him go! It would be
wicked. God pity me! But how, how to prevent it? If I can only delay
him until to-morrow, I can tell the general everything, and--is there a
way, is there a way, O God?"

She thought deeply, every atom in her being concentrated on the problem
which tore her between love and duty, devotion to the cause of the
South and those other appeals, which, finding lodgment in her heart,
moved her so profoundly. She wrestled with the question as to where her
duty lay as Jacob wrestled with the angel of old, and if she did not
conquer, at least she decided.

Determining on a desperate course of action, she rose to her feet and
sharply struck a bell by her side on the table. The house was an
ancient mansion when it had been rented by her aunt and herself three
years before. It dated back to Colonial times. There was a strong room
in it, the windows of which were barred. It would make a safe prison
for any one. He should be put in there and be kept there until morning.
He would be safe there. No harm would come to the ship, and when the
general knew, he would forgive her. She would tell him the first thing
in the morning.

It would cause her lover pain and grief, this summary action of hers,
but she could explain it to him, too; and he would forgive her also and
she would reward him with herself! There was compensation in that, she
thought proudly and tenderly.

"Cæsar," she said, as the aged butler made his appearance in response
to the bell, "send Joe and Sam and Cato to me. Boys," she continued, as
three stalwart young negroes presented themselves before her soon
after, "Mr. Sempland is coming here to-night to see me. I--he--" she
found it somewhat difficult to explain. "General Beauregard wants him
detained here. I cannot let him get away. Show him into the strong room
on the other side of the house when he asks for me, and then lock the
door on him. Don't let him get out under any circumstances until
to-morrow, but on no account are you to do him any hurt. You hear? You
understand?"

"Ya-as, Miss Fanny, I specs we does," answered Cato, the oldest and
most intelligent of the three.

"Cæsar, you lead him into the strong room. Say I will meet him there in
a moment. He won't suspect anything, I reckon. The rest of you stay in
the passage, and as soon as he enters lock the door upon him. Don't
neglect that! He'll try to get out. He may break the door down. But you
must keep him there, even if he attempts to kill you--unless I say for
you to release him."

The three slaves were devoted to their young mistress and, accepting
her orders without a question, they at once began their preparations to
carry them out. As they were talking together a light step sounded on
the porch. There was a ring at the door. The men hurried to their
places of concealment. Miss Fanny Glen hid in the dark drawing-room, as
Cæsar shuffled along the hall to the front door.

"Your mistress has sent for me," said Sempland. And from where she
stood in the drawing-room, Fanny Glen's heart leaped at the tones of
his voice.

"Yas, suh," returned the darky, obsequiously ushering him through the
hall. "Step right dis way, suh, Mass' Sempland. Miss Fanny done axes
you to go in dis room at de end ob de passage, suh. An' she tol' me she
gwine be wid you in a minute, suh."

The room was one which Sempland had never entered before. It was small,
furnished like a library or office, with several large closets and an
old iron safe, and had two grated windows and one heavy mahogany door.
It had formerly been used as an office and as a treasure room. Seeing
the visitor safe within, Cæsar calmly withdrew, and as he adroitly
coughed violently in the passage Sempland did not hear the ponderous
key turning in the old-fashioned lock. He waited a few minutes, and
then, as time was precious, he looked around for a bell. Seeing none he
walked to the door, laid his hand upon the knob, and tried to open it.
It did not give.

"Locked!" he muttered in surprise.

Raising his hand he struck a light blow on the panels, but there was no
reply. Then he called out and received no answer. He struck and called
again and again, his voice rising to a shout while his hands were
bleeding from the blows he had rained on the hard surface. Finally a
voice came to him faintly through the door.

"Wat's de matta, suh?"

"Open this door instantly, you black dog! Where is Miss Glen?"

"She's a-comin', suh."

"I wish to see her immediately!" he cried imperiously, kicking and
battering again upon the door in furious rage, which was stilled the
instant he heard her voice outside.

"Mr. Sempland?"

"What is the meaning of this action, this outrage, Miss Glen?" he
cried. "You sent for me. I came. Why am I locked in here? Open the
door! I must leave immediately!"

"You are locked in here by my orders, Mr. Sempland," said Fanny Glen,
nervously.

"Impossible! For what reason?"

"Because I--I--"

"By heavens, this is maddening! You don't know what you do! I am
ordered to-night on a hazardous expedition. I must be at my post in ten
minutes. Let me out instantly!"

"I know," returned the girl.

"Well, then, why don't you open this door? I will say nothing of
this--"

"I cannot."

"Why not?"

"I--I--do not wish you to go out on the _David_."

"What is it to you? How dare you interfere? You said I had done nothing
but lie in prison," he replied. "I will show you to-night."

"Not to-night."

"This is madness! Think what you are doing!"

"I can't help it."

"Why not?"

"Because I--I--"

"In God's name, what do you mean?"

"I will not have you take the risk. It is certain death to you, and the
admiral's ship--" said the girl, so softly that he could scarce hear
her. "You will forgive me when you understand. I shall release you
to-morrow. Mercy! Have pity on me, I am almost crazy!"

"Do you know that you will dishonor me? If you care, let me go."

"There is another reason. I will not have the _Wabash_ blown up. There
is a--a--"

"Another man?" shouted Sempland. "You are a coquette! Let me out, I
say! I will get out! My God, was ever a man in such a situation?"

He beat and hammered on the massive door until his bruised hands bled
again. He shook it in its frame like a madman. He was exhausted by the
violence of his efforts and of his passion. Through it all the girl
stood in the hall frightened nearly to death. What mad scheme had she
entered upon? Had she strength enough to carry it through? The three
servants were terrified also, their eyes rolling in their sockets,
their hands nervously fingering their weapons. Suddenly another voice,
Cæsar's, broke through the turmoil, reaching even the ear of the
desperate man on the other side of the heavy mahogany door. He stopped
to listen.

"Miss Fanny," said the butler, "dah's a sojah man at de do', an' he
wants to know if Mass' Semplan' is heah."

"Tell him, no," said Fanny Glen, resolutely. "Say he left a half-hour
ago."

"My God!" groaned Sempland. "I am a disgraced and ruined man! Listen to
me, Fanny Glen! I swear to you, on my honor as a gentleman, if you do
not instantly open this door I'll blow my brains out in this room!"

"Oh, you wouldn't do that?"

"I will, so help me God!"

There was conviction in his voice. The girl listening in the passage
heard the click of a raised revolver hammer.

"Don't!" she cried in greater terror than ever, "I will open!"

He heard a brief whispered consultation, the key was turned in the
lock, and the door was suddenly flung open. Sempland darted toward it
on the instant and recoiled from the terrible figure of the little
woman barring him with outstretched arms. If he had suffered within,
she had suffered without the room. Such a look of mortal agony and
anguish he had never seen on any human face. She trembled violently
before him. Yet she was resolute not to give way, determined to keep
the door. Clustered at her back were the three trembling negroes armed
one with a knife, another with a pistol, another with a stout club. He
would have swept them out of his path in an instant had it not been for
the girl. She stood before him with outstretched arms, her attitude a
mixture of defiance and appeal.

[Illustration: "The door was suddenly flung open."]

"It is too late," she said, "you were to go at seven. It is past that
now. Saved, saved!"

He could do her no violence, that was certain. He stood silent before
her, his head bent toward the floor, thinking deeply. Her heart went
out to him then, her soul yearned to him. She had hurt him, he must
hate her--and she loved him.

"Will you not come in and speak to me for a moment?" he asked her
quietly enough at last.

She signed to the men, stepped forward, the door was closed, and locked
behind her, and they were alone.

"Did you think to be of service to me?" he burst out, as she drew near
and then paused irresolute, miserable. "You have ruined me for life! I
begged that detail. I volunteered. I must get out! They may wait for
me. It may not be too late. For God's sake unlock that door!"

She shook her head, she could not trust herself to speak.

"I don't understand you. If it is--love--for me--"

She stared at him beseechingly, mute appeal for mercy, for help, in her
lovely eyes.

"You are condemning me to death, to worse than death. I am going!"

"You cannot!"

She came nearer as she spoke. Suddenly he seized her, drew her close to
him, held her with his left arm, and there was happiness for her in his
touch. She was as a child before his strength. With his right hand he
presented his pistol to her temple. He took advantage of her weakness,
but only in the service of a higher cause than love of woman, in answer
to a greater demand than even she could make. She offered no resistance
either. What was the use?

"Boys!" he called out sharply. "Are you there?"

"Yas, suh," answered Cato.

"I have your mistress in my arms, my pistol is at her head. If you do
not instantly open the door, I shall kill her where I stand!"

"Cato, I forbid you to open!" cried Fanny Glen, in a ringing voice,
still making no effort to struggle and looking up into the infuriated
man's face with the expression of a martyr and an angel. He saw and
recognized, but persisted; it was his only way.

"Open instantly!" he said again, "unless you would see your mistress
die!"

That was a threat the men could not resist. In a second the door was
opened. The awe-struck faces of the blacks peered into the room.

"Throw down your arms, here at my feet, you black hounds!" shouted
Sempland. "Quick! Or I fire!"

Instantly knife, pistol, and bludgeon clattered on the floor at his
feet.

"Out of the way now! Leave the hall! I want a clear passage!"

"Kill me! Kill me!" cried the girl, "and have done!"

He released her in a moment.

"You have dishonored me," he cried. "I fear it is too late. I wouldn't
hurt a hair of your head. But I love you, I love you!"

He strained her to his breast, pressing a passionate, burning kiss upon
her lips. He wasted a few precious seconds, but he could not help it.
She threw her arms about his neck and returned his kiss. He could feel
her heart beating against his own.

"I cannot let you go!" she cried. "Stay with me and I am yours!"

"I must go!"

He tore himself from her and ran down the passage into the street. She
thought she would have fainted at that instant, but something--suspense,
the faint possibility of success, doubt--nerved her to action. After a
few moments of awful uncertainty she followed Sempland along the
hallway, out through the door, and into the night. He was not to be
seen. She knew where he had gone, however, and she bent her steps
toward the government wharf. She went slowly at first, but finally ran
at her greatest speed.



CHAPTER VI

AN ENGINE OF DESTRUCTION


The _David_, so named because although she was small it was hoped she
would strike terror to the huge Goliaths of the Union fleet, was built
of boiler iron. She was thirty feet long and of a cigar shape, her
greatest diameter being a little less than six feet. She was propelled
by a hand engine worked by members of her crew, and could be submerged
at pleasure, but experience had shown that once down she usually stayed
down with all on board. A résumé of her history has been given. She was
a floating, or sinking, death-trap.

Originally she was intended to drag after her a floating torpedo in the
hope that she could pass under a vessel's keel and explode the torpedo
when she reached the proper position. General Beauregard, however, had
positively forbidden that she should be used as a submarine any longer
on account of her disastrous behavior, and on this occasion she was
provided with a long spar sticking out from her nose, on the end of
which was one hundred pounds of powder in a copper cylinder provided
with four extremely sensitive tubes of lead containing a highly
explosive mixture, which would ignite upon contact with a ship's side
or bottom and explode the torpedo.

She was painted a slate-gray, and her ballast was so adjusted that with
the seven men who manned her on board, one to steer, one to look after
the torpedo, and five to turn the propeller crank, her low hatch
scarcely rose above the water. In that condition, and especially at
night, she looked like a plank floating on the surface. By hard and
conscientious labor her five man-power engine could shove her along at
about a speed of four knots. Although the order of General Beauregard
that she should not be submerged again had materially diminished the
risk which experience had shown was overwhelming, yet the proposed
expedition was nevertheless hazardous in the extreme.

In the first place, an excellent lookout was kept on the Union ships on
account of the several attempts which had been made against them by
similar boats. If she were discovered, one shot striking the boat as
she approached, even a rifle shot, would suffice to sink her. No one
knew what she would do even if she succeeded in exploding the torpedo.
It was scarcely hoped that she could get away from a sinking ship
in that event.

The little party of officers grouped on the wharf bade good-by to the
men who entered the deadly affair as if they were saying farewell to
those about to die. Every preparation had been made, the artillery
officer had finally and carefully inspected the torpedo to see if it
was in good working order, the men had descended into the cramped
narrow little hull of the boat and had made ready to start the
propeller. None of them wore any superfluous clothing, for it was
oppressively hot in the confined area of the little iron shell, and
they might have to swim for their lives anyway--perhaps they would be
lucky if they got the chance. In short, everybody was ready and every
one was there except the commander of the expedition.

Great secrecy had been observed in the preparations lest there might be
a spy in the town, who, learning of the attempt, would communicate the
valuable information to the Federal fleet, and so frustrate it. General
Beauregard had caused the wharf to be cleared and guarded early in the
evening. It was quite dark in February at six o'clock, and no one
except his trusted staff officers and Lacy, who had so magnanimously
surrendered his opportunity to Sempland, was present.

At a quarter before seven, which was the time Sempland had appointed to
return when he left in obedience to Fanny Glen's summons, the general
began to feel some uneasiness. He spoke about it to Lacy, but was
reassured by that gentleman, who professed full confidence that the
young lieutenant would undoubtedly be there in a few moments. He had
already of his own motion despatched a soldier to Fanny Glen's house
and had learned from him the false news that Sempland had been there
and had left. Lacy supposed he had returned to his quarters.

The state of the tide, the necessities of the blockade-runners who
hoped to escape that night under cover of the confusion caused by the
attack, rendered it absolutely necessary that there should be no delay
in the departure of the torpedo boat. The time had been set for seven
o'clock, as late as practicable, in order to secure the advantage of
settled darkness before the blow was delivered. The party on the wharf
waited apprehensively a little longer, conversing in low tones as the
moments ran away, and there was great anxiety as to the whereabouts of
the missing officer. Seven o'clock struck from the ancient church
steeple hard by; still he did not appear.

"General," said Lacy, a few moments later, "if I might suggest, sir--"

"Go on. What is it?"

"It might be well to send for him."

"Never!" said the general, shortly; "it is a soldier's duty to be at
the place appointed him at the specified time. I shall not send for
him. If he has forgotten himself, his duty, for any cause, he shall
suffer the consequences."

Lacy was in despair. He could not understand the situation. He had not
the slightest doubt of Sempland's courage. He knew his friend's rigid
idea of soldierly duty or honor. Where had he gone? If there had been
any way, he would have despatched men to hunt for him in every
direction, but the general's prohibition was positive. And for some
reason which he could not explain he refrained from saying anything
about Sempland's visit to Fanny Glen, merely advising the general, in
response to an inquiry, that he had left him to go to his quarters to
write a letter.

Five minutes more dragged along.

"General Beauregard," said Lacy at last, "with your permission I will
seek him myself."

"No," said the general, sternly, "we can wait no longer. I need you for
something else."

"You mean--?"

"I mean that I shall carry out the original plan. Mr. Sempland has
forfeited any consideration whatever at our hands."

"Then I am to--?"

Lacy pointed toward the _David_.

"Unless you wish to back out."

"No one has ever used these words to me, sir," answered Lacy, proudly.
"I am as ready, as anxious, to go as I ever was. But Sempland--sir, I
would stake my life on his fidelity."

"It may be so. I can wait no longer. Will you go, or shall I give up
the expedition?"

"Rather than that, sir," said one of his staff officers, "if Major Lacy
hesitates, let me go."

"Enough!" said Lacy. "Will you explain to Sempland how it came about?
Good-by."



CHAPTER VII

THE HOUR AND THE MAN


Lacy tore off his coat and vest, and threw them on the wharf, saluted
the general and stepped into the boat. Some one in the group lifted a
lantern. The flickering light fell on the pale faces of the determined
men.

"Good-by, sir," said Beauregard. "You, at least, are an officer, a
soldier of whom the South is proud. Remember the flagship is your game.
She lies at anchor right off the Main Ship Channel. Good luck to you. A
colonel's shoulder straps await you here if you come back. God bless
you all!"

He wrung the major's hand, watched him step into the _David_ and
whisper an order to his men, heard him call out "Good-by, sir. If we
don't come back, don't forget us," and that was all.

The little boat was shoved away from the wharf by willing hands and in
a moment was lost in the darkness of the bay. There was no moon, and
the night was dark. There was no light save from the stars. The torpedo
boat slipped through the water without making a sound. She became
entirely invisible a hundred feet away. The officers rubbed their eyes
as they stared in the direction where they had last seen her, almost
fearing that she had again sunk beneath the sea. They stayed there
perhaps five minutes, at least until the blockade-runners, none of them
showing a light of any description, could get under way in obedience to
a lantern signal from the general and noiselessly slip down the bay in
the wake of the frail little craft which it was hoped would be able to
clear the path for them.

"Now," said Beauregard, turning away at last, "for Mr. Sempland. I do
not understand it. I never thought him a coward."

"Nor am I, sir!" panted a voice out of the darkness, as a pale and
breathless man burst through the group surrounding the general.

"Mr. Sempland!"

"For God's sake, sir, am I in time? The boat?"

"Gone."

"How long? Call her back!"

"It is too late. She has been gone ten minutes. Where were you, sir?"

"Who took her out?"

"Major Lacy. Answer my question, sir!"

"He! My God! I am disgraced! Dishonored! And she--"

"Where were you, sir?"

"I--I--"

The young man hesitated.

"Why don't you answer? Do you realize your position? You begged this
detail. Why were you not here?"

"Oh, General Beauregard--"

"How could you forget your honor, the South? Where were you, I say?
Answer, or I will have you shot in the morning!"

"I--I--was detained, sir. I--"

"Is that your only excuse, sir?" sternly.

Sempland was in a fearful predicament. To have restrained him by force
was an act of high treason. He could only explain himself by
implicating the woman he loved. The consequences in either case were
dreadful. Fanny Glen a traitor to the South? Beauregard was a stern,
inexorable soldier. He would not condone such an offence as hers. That
she had failed in her effort to prevent the expedition would mean
nothing to the general. Fanny Glen, the pride of Charleston, the woman
who had done more for the South than any other woman in the Carolinas,
perhaps, to be disgraced, certainly to be punished, it might be--shot!

She had ruined him, but he had kissed her. He could not say the word
which would incriminate her and leave him free. He was disgraced
already, he would be cashiered. Well, what mattered it? His chance was
gone, the woman did not love him. His heart was hot against her. Yet he
remembered the scene in the strong room--had she indeed returned his
kiss? He closed his lips firmly and said nothing. He would not, he
could not betray her, even to himself.

"You do not answer, sir! What excuse have you to offer?"

"None."

"You sought this detail. You forced yourself into the expedition. Have
you nothing to say for yourself?"

"Nothing."

"You are under arrest, sir, for disobedience of orders, for dereliction
of duty! By heavens!" said the general, striking his left hand with his
right, "for cowardice!"

"For God's sake, not that, sir!"

"For cowardice, sir! You knew the expedition was one of extreme hazard.
You have no excuse to offer for not having been here. What else is it?"

"Not that, sir! Not that!" pleaded the lieutenant. "Anything but that!"

"A traitor, a coward, I say!"

"General Beauregard!" cried a high-pitched voice out of the darkness,
shrill and unnatural with terror and fatigue. The next moment Fanny
Glen herself, bareheaded, panting from her rapid run, white-faced in
the light cast by the lantern held by the staff officer, pushed through
the group surrounding the general.

"Where is Mr. Sempland, sir?" she asked.

"Here, under arrest. He failed to arrive in time. Can you explain it?"

"The boat?"

"Gone."

"Gone? Then who--"

"Major Lacy took it out."

"And the _Wabash_?"

"Will be blown up, please God, if all goes well."

The girl put her face in her hands as if to shut out some dreadful
picture. She kept them there for a few seconds, then she lifted her
head and looked unsteadily from the severe face of the general to the
cold, disdainful countenance of Sempland. The man she loved shrank away
from her.

"Useless! Too late!" she murmured, then fell fainting at their feet.



CHAPTER VIII

DEATH OUT OF THE DEEP


At 8.30 that night, February 17, 1864, the little torpedo boat, after
having successfully passed the monitors and ironclads anchored just out
of range of Fort Sumter, and inside the shoals at the harbor mouth, was
stopped about a mile from the outer entrance of the Main Ship Channel,
where her quarry had been reported as lying quietly at anchor at
nightfall. Success had attended the efforts of her devoted crew so far.
By Lacy's command the _David_ was stopped in order to give a little
rest, a breathing space, before the last dash at their prey, to the
weary seamen who had driven her steadily on since leaving the wharf.

The night was calm and very still. The hatch covers were thrown back,
the tired men thrust their heads into the cool, sweet air, so
refreshing after the closeness of their badly ventilated vessel, and
wetted their fevered, exhausted bodies with the stimulating water of
the bay. The artillery officer took advantage of the opportunity to
make a careful reëxamination of the torpedo, and Lacy was greatly
relieved when he reported that he had everything in good working order,
so far as he was able to judge. The young commander of the expedition
was the more anxious for success because of the previous failures of
similar endeavors. After a ten-minute rest he gave the order to get
under way.

"Men," he said coolly, "you know the history of this boat. There's a
chance, ay, more than a chance, that none of us will ever come back
from this expedition. You knew all that when you volunteered. If we do
get out alive, our country will reward us. If we do not, she will not
forget us. Shake hands, now. Good-by, and God bless you. Put every
pound of muscle you have into that crank when we get within one hundred
yards of the frigate, and jump the boat into her. I'll give the signal.
I want to strike her hard."

"Ay, ay, sir," replied the seamen as cheerfully as if there was only a
frolic before them. "We'll do our best. Good-by, and God bless you,
sir. We're proud to serve under you whatever comes."

"Thank you. All ready with the torpedo, Captain?"

"Yes, Major Lacy."

"Good! Down everybody, now! Clap to the hatch covers and start the
cranks. Easy at first, and when I give the word--hard!"

He seized the spokes of the steering wheel in his steady hands as he
spoke. Back of him, to relieve him in case of accident, stood Captain
Carlson, the artillery officer. The heavy planks were drawn over the
open hatch, locked, and bolted. Silently the men manned the cranks. The
little engine of destruction gathered way. It was pitch dark, and very
close and hot. There was no sound in the shell save the slight creaking
of the cranks and the deep breathing of the crew as they toiled over
them.

Forward by the wheel there was a glass hood, which permitted the men
who steered to direct the course of the boat. As the sinister sea demon
stole through the waters, Lacy caught a sudden glimpse at last of the
spars of a heavy ship at anchor before him. The night had cleared
somewhat, and although there was no moon, the stars gave sufficient
light for him to see the black tracery of masts and yards lifting
themselves above the horizon.

How still the looming ship lay. There was scarcely sea enough to
tremble the top-hamper of the unsuspecting man-of-war. A faint film of
smoke falling lazily from her funnel in the quiet air, with her riding
and side-lights, were the only signs of life about her. No more
peaceful-looking object floated over the ocean apparently.

"It would be a pity," reflected the man at the wheel for an instant,
"to strike her so." But the thought vanished so soon as it had been
formulated. His heart leaped in his breast like the hound when he
launches himself in that last spring which hurls him on his quarry.
Another moment--a few more seconds--

"That will be our game," whispered Lacy to the artillery captain, in a
voice in which his feelings spoke.

"Yes."

They were slowly approaching nearer. The bearings of the cranks and
screws had been well oiled, and the _David_ slipped through the water
without a sound. She was so nearly submerged that she scarcely rippled
the surface of the sea. There was no white line of foam to betray her
movement through the black water. It was almost impossible for any one
to detect the approach of the silent terror. There was nothing showing
above water except the flat hatch cover, and that to an unpractised eye
looked much like a drifting plank.

Yet there were sharp eyes on the ship, and no negligent watch was kept
either. When the _David_ was perhaps two hundred feet away, she was
seen. The steadiness of her movement proclaimed a thing intelligently
driven.

A sharp, sudden cry from the forecastle ahead of them rang through the
night. It was so loud and so fraught with alarm that it came in a
muffled note to the men in the depths of the torpedo boat. A bugle call
rang out, a drum was beaten. The erstwhile silent ship was filled with
tumult and clamor.

"They have seen us!" said Lacy. "Ahead!" he cried, hoarsely. "Hard!"

At the same instant the chain cable of the vessel was slipped, bells
jangled in her depths, the mighty engines clanked into sudden motion,
the screws revolved, and she began slowly to drive astern. But it was
too late, the sea devil was too near to be balked of the prey. The men
at the cranks of the _David_, working with superhuman energy, fairly
hurled the torpedo boat upon the doomed ship. Lacy had time for a
single upward glance--his last look at anything! The black railing
towering above his head was swarming with men. Flashes of light
punctured the darkness. Bullets pattered like rain on the iron. One or
two tore through the flimsy shell. A jet of water struck him in the
face.

The next second there was a terrific concussion. The torpedo struck the
ship just forward the mainmast and exploded, tearing a great hole in
the side, extending far below the water-line. In the blaze of light
that followed, the men in the _David_ cheered wildly, and the next
moment blackness overwhelmed them.

On the frigate there was the wildest confusion as the sleeping men
below came swarming up on deck. Some of them never succeeded in
reaching the hatchways and were drowned where they slept. Some were
killed by the explosion. The officers, however, quickly restored order,
and as a last resort ordered the surviving men into the rigging, for
the water where she lay was shallow, and there they could find safety.

The ship was hopelessly lost. Indeed, she began to sink so soon as the
torpedo exploded. The water poured into her vitals, and soon the crash
of exploding boilers and the hiss of escaping steam added their quota
to the confusion.

Some of the cooler among the officers and men lingered on the decks,
small arms in hand, searching the sea on every hand, until the decks
were awash. They were looking and hoping for a chance at the boat which
had caused them such a terrible disaster, but they never saw her. She
had disappeared.

Signals had been burned instantly on the shattered ship. Far up and
down the line the lights of moving vessels burning answering signals
showed that they were alert to render assistance. Boats, ships'
cutters, dashed alongside to render help, and they, too, sought the
torpedo boat, but in vain. She was not to be found.

At the same time the ships of the fleet did not move from their
appointed stations, and when the blockade-runners came dashing down
through the Swash Channel in the hope that the vessels usually
stationed there would be withdrawn in the excitement, they were met by
a deadly fire from the rifled guns, which rendered it impossible for
them to proceed. They turned tail and fled. Two of them succeeded in
returning to the harbor. One of them never came back. She was set on
fire and burned by the shells of the ships. The monitors and ironclads
joined in the battle, the forts returned the fire, and the quiet night
was filled with the noise of roaring cannon and exploding shell.

Lacy's had been a gallant and heroic attempt. It had succeeded as to
the blowing up of a Federal warship, but it had failed otherwise. By a
singular freak of fortune the blow had not fallen upon the vessel for
which it had been intended. After dark the fine new sloop-of-war
_Housatonic_ had replaced the _Wabash_ off the Main Ship Channel, and
she had suffered instead of the flagship.

Although when day broke she was sought for again, nothing more was seen
of the _David_. At least not then. With the explosion of the torpedo
she had vanished from the face of the waters. For a long time General
Beauregard and the people in Charleston waited for tidings of her, but
it was not until the war was over and the _Housatonic_ was raised that
the mystery was solved. They found the torpedo boat with her nose
pointed toward the hole she had torn in the side of the ship, about a
hundred feet away from the wrecked sloop-of-war. She had been riddled
with bullets and shattered by the explosion of her own torpedo. She
was, of course, filled with water, and in her, at their stations, they
found the bodies of her devoted crew, Lacy with his hand on the wheel.

Nothing in life had so become Lacy as the ending of it. It is a proverb
that the good men do lies buried with them, the evil is long
remembered. It was not so in his case, at any rate, for men forgot
everything but the dauntless heroism with which he had laid down his
life for his country, and assured his fame.

And, after all, he was not to be pitied for that he died the death of
his choice.



CHAPTER IX

MISERABLE PAIR AND MISERABLE NIGHT


Sempland's mind was in a fearful turmoil. It had all come so suddenly
and unexpectedly upon him that as yet he hardly realized the gravity of
his situation, although it could scarcely be worse. He was under arrest
and in confinement, facing such serious charges as neglect of duty,
disobedience of orders, treason, cowardice! As to these last, he was so
conscious of his loyalty and intrepidity that they did not worry him so
much as they might have done. The other things were bad enough, but
surely, surely, no one could ever believe him either a traitor or a
coward!

His mind did not dwell on his own situation as it might have done,
either, if it had not been for Fanny Glen. Instinctively he had stepped
forward to gather her in his arms when she fainted before him on the
wharf that night, but he had been sternly waved back by the general,
and without being given a chance to learn anything about her condition
he had been hurried to headquarters and heavily guarded in the room
where he was to be held pending Beauregard's further pleasure. As for
Fanny Glen, although Sempland could not know it, the surgeon who had
been present had speedily revived that young woman, a carriage had been
summoned, and she had been taken home under the escort of one of the
staff officers.

Sempland was utterly unable to fathom her mysterious conduct. He had
thought upon it swiftly as he could during those trying moments which
had been so filled with action, but he had not had time, until in the
quiet and solitude of his confinement, to give it any calm
consideration. He was at a loss to understand her actions.

Was she a traitor to the South? Did she think to prevent the loss of
the flagship of the Federal fleet by detaining him? That could not be,
for if ever truth and sincerity shone in a woman's face and were
evinced in a woman's actions, they were in Fanny Glen's appearance and
life. Her patriotism was unquestioned. That hypothesis must be
dismissed at once.

Was it because she loved him so that, fancying the expedition promised
certain death to him, she had taken this unfortunate method of
preserving his life? He had not been too agitated in the strong room of
her house to realize as he held her that in some mysterious way she was
happy at being in his arms. His heart leaped at the recollection. She
had not struggled. She had almost nestled against him.

He could recall the clasp of her arms, the kiss that she had given him,
the words that she had said. He was almost sure that she loved him as
he thought of these things.

Yet--she had disgraced him, dishonored him! That was not the act of a
loving woman. She had shown herself possessed of a full measure of
womanly heroism and courage. She knew exactly what was involved in his
failure to carry out his orders. How could she have done it? Was it all
acting then? Did her kisses betray him? Was she indeed a traitor--and
to him? Yet--for whom?

There was Lacy--oh, had he repented after all? Had he wished to resume
the command he had so reluctantly surrendered? Had she been a party to
any plan whereby the matter might be brought about? Was he to be shamed
and sacrificed for Lacy's glory and honor by this woman? Perish the
thought! Yet why had she fainted on the wharf? Was it at the mention of
Lacy's name? Was she alarmed for his safety? If that were the case, why
had she not striven to restrain Lacy and allowed him to go in his
place?

Suddenly there flashed into his mind that there might be some one on
the _Wabash_ whom she wished to protect! Could that be the solution of
the mystery? No one knew anything of her origin, her past history. Was
she faithful to the South, yet had she a--a--lover in the Union fleet?
Was she indeed what he called her, a heartless coquette? He could have
sworn from that brief moment when he held her in his arms, when he
looked at her, that she loved him. She had returned his kiss. Oh, had
she? Was it a dream? A play? To deceive him? Great God! was he going
mad?

Of only one thing was he certain. He could never disclose to any one
the cause of his failure to present himself on the wharf in time.
Whether she loved Lacy, or some one in the Union fleet, made no
difference to his love. He would love her till he died. Ay, he would
love her even in the face of her treachery, her faithlessness--everything!
He hated himself for this, but it was true, he could not deny it.

And he would save her from the consequences of her action at the cost
of his life--his honor even. What had he to live for anyway, if she
were taken from him? Death might come. It would come. He would make no
defence. It was quite within the power of a court-martial to order him
shot. And it was quite within the power of a court-martial to punish
Fanny Glen, too, if he fastened the culpability for his failure upon
her; perhaps not by death, but certainly by disgrace and shame. The
city was under martial rule, General Beauregard was supreme. No, he
could not expose her to that condemnation--he loved her too well.

Yet he wished that he could hate her, as he paced up and down the long
room, stopping at the windows to stare out into the dark in the
direction of the sea--where he should have been if all had gone well.

He was too far away to hear the explosion of the torpedo, which was
muffled, because it took place under water, but he could hear the
batteries of the ships as they opened on the blockade-runners, and the
answer from the forts, and he knew that something had happened at any
rate. And his suspense as to that added to his wretchedness. Lacy had
supplanted him and reaped the glory--again. It was maddening. No one
came to bring him any word. The general concluded to postpone his
inquiry until the next morning, and Sempland paced the floor the night
long in a pitiable condition of wounded love, blasted hope, shattered
fame.

At home, not far away, poor Fanny Glen was even more miserable than
Rhett Sempland, for she had divined--yes, so soon as the two men had
left her presence the afternoon before, she had recognized the
fact--that she loved Sempland. Conviction had grown upon her swiftly,
and in those moments when she was fearful that he would succeed in his
purpose, when she had kept him a prisoner in her home to prevent him
from taking out the _David_ to try to blow up the _Wabash_, she knew
that she loved him.

When he had held her in his arms in that bold and successful effort to
escape, when he had strained her to his breast, when he had kissed
her--oh, that kiss!--the consciousness of her passion overwhelmed her.
The recollection of it even filled her with passionate tenderness. She
had not been afraid when he had threatened her with the pistol. She
could have died easily then--in his arms, with his kiss upon her lips,
his heart beating against her own. He loved her! Nothing else mattered
for the moment.

She had endeavored to keep him a prisoner partly for his own sake, but
principally for another and greater reason. She had not thought of
disgrace or shame to him. It had all come so swiftly. She had no time
to reflect at all. She had decided upon impulse, with but one thought
at first--to save the Union ship. In her sudden alarm and anxiety she
had not realized that she was playing a traitor's part. Or if she had,
she had done it willingly, in the belief that the punishment would fall
upon her, and that he would be held blameless.

But for whatever reason she had acted as she had, she had failed after
all, for another had taken Sempland's part, and the flagship, if the
_David_ succeeded, was doomed. Her sacrifice was unavailing. She had
lost everything. Sempland had shrunk away from her when she had
confronted him and the general on the wharf, and when she had recovered
consciousness he was gone. She could not know his heart had gone out to
her lying there, nor how they had hurried him away from her prostrate
figure.

He would never forgive her--never! she thought miserably. He was under
arrest now. What was that word she had caught as she ran toward them?
Coward! They would kill him perhaps. She had lost all--love, the ship,
everything! Lacy, too, was gone. He had taken the boat out in
Sempland's place. Why had she not thought of that possibility? And he
had loved her, and he would never come back.

With a misery akin to Sempland's she heard the bombardment which
proclaimed that something had happened. Had the flagship been blown up?
Nothing was left to her. She would go to the general and tell the truth
in the morning, and then--he would be free. They could punish her and
she could die. Well, death would be welcome.

[Illustration: "Poor little Fanny Glen ... she had lost on every
hand."]

Poor little Fanny Glen! She had played, and played the fool
exceedingly--and she had lost on every hand!



CHAPTER X

A STUBBORN PROPOSITION


The general, who was always on the alert, ordinarily began his work
with the sun, and rarely did he stop with the setting of it, either.
The next morning, therefore, he was at his headquarters at an unusually
early hour.

Fortune had favored him in that one of the harbor patrol boats, making
a daring reconnaissance about midnight, to discover if possible what
had happened to the _David_, had captured a whale boat from one of the
Union ships, bound on a similar errand, and had brought her crew to the
city. By questioning them Beauregard learned of the blowing up of the
_Housatonic_, and the almost certain loss of the torpedo boat. He was
sorry that he missed the _Wabash_ and the admiral, and intensely
grieved over the lack of any tidings from the _David_ or her men,
which, however, caused him little surprise, but he was glad, indeed,
they had been so brilliantly successful in eliminating the magnificent
new steam sloop-of-war _Housatonic_ from the force blockading them.

Incidentally he learned, with some additional satisfaction, that
Admiral Vernon was to be relieved of his command on account of illness
and was going North with his flagship in a few days. The admiral had
shown himself so intensely enterprising and pugnacious that Beauregard
hoped and expected that any change in opponents would be for the
betterment of the situation from the Southern point of view.

When he had digested the important news of the morning, he sent for his
prisoner of the night before. The general had been very indignant on
the wharf, and justly so, but he instinctively felt that there was
something in the situation, which, if he could get at it, might relieve
from the odium of his position the young officer, whose family history,
no less than his personal character, absolutely negatived the idea of
cowardice or treachery.

General Beauregard hoped that by questioning him quietly and calmly,
and by representing to him the critical situation in which he found
himself, that he might induce him to clear up the mystery. He spoke to
him kindly, therefore, when he was ushered into the room and bade him
be seated. He marked with soldierly appreciation of the lieutenant's
feelings the evidences of his sleepless night, the anguish of his soul,
in the haggard look upon his face.

"Mr. Sempland," he began with impressive and deliberate gravity,
carefully weighing his words that they might make the deeper impression
upon the younger man, for whom he felt profound pity, "you bear one of
the noblest names in the commonwealth. I knew your father and your
grandfather. They were men of the highest courage and of unimpeachable
honor. Their devotion to the South cannot be questioned. I grieve more
than I can say to find you in so equivocal a position. I am convinced
that there is some explanation for it, and I ask you, not as your
general, but as your friend, to disclose it to me."

"You called me a coward last night, sir."

"In the heat of my disappointment and surprise I did make use of that
term, sir. It was a mistake. I regret it," said the general, magnanimously.
"I do not believe your failure to take out the _David_ arose from any
fear."

This was a great concession indeed, and Sempland was intensely
relieved, and an immense load was lifted from his breast by the
general's reassuring words.

"Sir, I thank you. I could have borne anything than that."

"But, my boy," continued the general, severely, "you must remember that
you still lie under the imputation of treachery to the South, and you
will recognize readily that such an accusation is scarcely less
terrible than the other."

"General Beauregard, believe me, sir," burst out Sempland, impetuously,
"I pledge you my word of honor, I am not a traitor to the South, I
would die for my country gladly if it would do her service. I fully
intended to take out the _David_. I begged for the detail, and was
thankful beyond measure to you for giving it to me. I was overwhelmed
with anger and dismay and horror at my failure. I swear to you, sir, by
all that is good and true, by everything holy, that it was not my fault
that I was not there--I--I--was detained."

"Detained? By whom?"

Sempland only bit his lip and looked dumbly at the general.

"Come, my boy, I want to help you," said the veteran officer,
persuasively. "Who, or what, detained you? Where were you detained? It
must have been some man--or was it a woman? Tell me, and, by heavens,
I'll make such an example of the traitor as will never be forgotten in
South Carolina or the Confederacy!"

"I cannot, sir."

"Think! Your rank, your honor, it may be your life, all depend upon
your reply. You are concealing something from me. You do not answer,"
continued Beauregard, keenly scanning the face of the young man
standing before him in stubborn silence. "I see that you are shielding
some one, sheltering some unworthy person. Who is it?"

Still no answer. The general's patience was gradually vanishing in the
face of such obstinacy. Yet he restrained his growing displeasure, and
continued his questioning.

"Where did you go after you left me?"

"To my quarters, sir, to write a letter."

"Were you there all the time?"

"No, sir."

"Where did you go after the letter was written?"

No answer.

"Major Lacy said--" began the general, changing his tactics.

"Did he tell you?" cried Sempland, in sudden alarm and great dismay.

"He knew then?" exclaimed the general, triumphant in his clew. "No, he
didn't tell. He never will tell now. I have learned from a picket boat
that was captured last night by our patrols, that nothing was seen of
the _David_ after the explosion."

"Poor Lacy!" said Sempland. "Well, sir, he died the death of his
choice."

"Yes," said Beauregard, "little in life became him as the ending of
it."

A little silence fell between the two in the room.

"And I might have been there," said Sempland at last.

"I had rather see you dead, sir, than in your present case," commented
the general, deftly.

"Yes, sir, and I'd rather be there myself," returned the young man,
"but I--I beg your pardon, General, were they successful?"

"In a measure. They missed the _Wabash_, but blew up the _Housatonic_."

"Did the cotton ships get out?"

"Unfortunately, no. One of them was sunk. The other two returned in
safety. But all this is beside the question. We are losing sight of the
main point. For the last time, will you tell me why you failed to be on
hand?"

"General Beauregard, as I said, I would rather be where Lacy is now
than have failed as I did, but I cannot tell you what detained me"

"For the last time, Mr. Sempland, I beg of you to answer me. You know
the consequences?"

The general spoke sharply now. Such determination and contumacy had at
last got the better of his patience and forbearance. He had tried to
save Sempland, but the young officer would give him no assistance.
Well, on his own head it would be.

"You realize what is before you, sir?"

"Yes, sir."

"A court-martial. Possibly--nay, certainly, death. For in the face of
your refusal to explain I can do nothing more for you."

Sempland bowed to the inevitable.

"You have said," he began, "that you did not believe I was a coward,
nor a traitor. If you will not allow the stigma of either of these
charges to rest upon me, I will bear with equanimity whatever
punishment the court-martial may award."

"Even to loss of life?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well," said the general, shrugging his shoulders, a trick of his
French ancestry. "I have done my best, Mr. Sempland, for you. As to my
personal beliefs, I can and will express them, but I cannot tell
whether the court-martial will receive them or not. Will nothing move
you?"

"Nothing, sir."

The general struck a bell on the desk before him.

"Orderly," he said, as a soldier presented himself, "my compliments to
the assistant adjutant-general. Ask him to come here. Ah, General
Wylie," he said as that functionary presented himself, "will you make
out an order assembling a court-martial to try Lieutenant Rhett
Sempland, here, for disobedience of orders and neglect of duty in the
presence of the enemy, and--well, that will be enough, I think," he
continued after a pause which was fraught with agony to Sempland at
least, lest the general should mention cowardice or treason again.
"Meanwhile see that Mr. Sempland is carefully guarded here in the
headquarters building."

"Very good, sir," said the officer, saluting. "This way, Mr. Sempland."



CHAPTER XI

THE CONFESSION THAT CLEARED


As the two men left the room the orderly entered it once more and
announced to the general that a lady was below who asked the privilege
of an interview with him.

"Lady? What lady?" demanded Beauregard, impatiently.

He was in no mood for feminine society after the difficult interview in
which he had just participated.

"I think it is Miss Glen, sir. She says she must see you and--"

"Ah!" interrupted the general, hastily, as he recollected the scene on
the wharf the night before, when Fanny Glen had fainted at the news
that the boat was gone and that Lacy had gone with it. "Show her in
here at once, orderly."

He had intended to seek her in her house in the course of the morning
and break the melancholy news to her that the torpedo boat was lost in
all probability with all on board, for from her agitation on the wharf
he inferred that her affections were bestowed upon Lacy. He was very
sorry for her, of course; but knowing Lacy as he had, and estimating
Fanny Glen as he did, there was a certain sense of relief that she
would not be condemned to a lifetime of misery which such a marriage
would inevitably have entailed. Still he pitied her profoundly, and he
pitied her more when she came into the private office in the wake of
the orderly and threw back her veil. Her beautiful face showed the
sorrow under which she labored. Suffering had thrown a blight upon it.
The freshness and youth seemed to have departed from it. She was a
piteous little spectacle indeed.

The general received her with the utmost cordiality and consideration.
He handed her to a chair, and bade the orderly see that they were not
disturbed on any account.

"Miss Fanny," he began gently--the war had brought the general and the
brave girl very close together--"I was coming over to see you in a
little while. You have shown yourself a brave little woman many times.
You need all your courage now."

"Yes, General," said the girl, faintly, "I know."

"You have sustained a terrible loss."

"Is--is--Mr. Sempland--?"

"He is well enough at present. I refer to your friend, Major Lacy."

"Is he--?"

"I am sorry to say that in all probability he has lost his life in the
torpedo boat. We can get no tidings of her or of any of her crew. She
must have sunk with the ship."

"Did they succeed, sir?" interrupted Fanny Glen with an anxiety and an
apprehension too great to be controlled.

"They did," returned Beauregard, somewhat surprised at her question,
"but the torpedo boat, I think, went down with the ship she blew up; at
any rate no one has seen her or any of her crew since the explosion. I
knew that it was almost certain death to them."

Fanny Glen sank back in the chair. She almost lost consciousness in her
agony. She murmured strange and incoherent words. The general did not
understand them, but he rose, came to her side, bent over her and took
her hand, patting it softly.

"I know, I know, my dear child," he said gently, "how you must suffer.
Many another woman has had to give up her heart's desire for our
beloved country. Think of the service he rendered, to you and to all of
us! Think of his noble sacrifice, his death! Cherish his memory and be
proud that he loved you and that you loved him. Few women have done
more for the South than you, and there is still much to do. Work will
assuage your grief," continued the general, laying his hand tenderly
upon the bowed head. "You will always have the deathless memory of his
heroism."

"Oh!" cried the woman, throwing back her head, "you are wrong. You do
not know, you do not understand. I honored Major Lacy, I rejoiced in
his courage, but I did not love him. It is not he that I think of. It
is my father."

"Your father? What do you mean?"

"Admiral Vernon."

"What!"

"Yes, he is my father. My name is Fanny Glen Vernon."

"Good heavens! It cannot be possible."

"It is true. My mother was a Southern woman, one of the Glens of
Halifax--"

"I knew her!" exclaimed Beauregard.

"She died when I was a child, and I was brought up by her sister. My
father--I did not see much of him. He was a sailor, and after my
mother's death he sought constantly to be in active service. When the
war broke out he said he must stand by the old flag. I strove to
persuade him differently. It was horrible to me, to think that a son of
South Carolina, and my father, would fight against her. There was a
quarrel between us. I told my father I would not acknowledge him any
longer. I repudiated the Vernon name and came here and worked for the
South, as you know. When I learned yesterday that you were going to
blow up the _Wabash_--"

"But my dear child," interrupted the general, quickly, "we didn't blow
up the _Wabash_."

"But you said that Major Lacy had succeeded!" said the girl in great
bewilderment.

"He did. The _Wabash_ and _Housatonic_ exchanged places during the
night, and the latter was sunk. The _Wabash_ is all right. For your
sake, my dear Miss Fanny, I say thank God for the mistake."

"Then my father is safe?"

"He is. Some Yankees we captured this morning say that he is to be
relieved of his command and ordered North on a sick leave. He will no
longer be in danger from us, you see."

"Thank God, thank God!" cried the girl, and the relief in her voice and
face seemed to make another woman of her. "It was wrong, I know. It was
treason to the South--I love the South--but I strove to prevent--"

"Ah!" exclaimed Beauregard. "I have it now! Sempland--"

"Oh, sir!" cried the girl, "where is he?"

"He is preparing," continued Beauregard, coolly--he had the clew to the
mystery and he determined to follow it to the end--"to be tried by a
court-martial--"

"By a court-martial, General Beauregard! For what, sir?"

"For disobedience of orders and neglect of duty, in the face of the
enemy. And I am in two minds whether to these charges should be added
cowardice and treason or not!"

"Impossible!" exclaimed Fanny Glen.

"Miss Glen, it is an absolute fact. He came to me yesterday afternoon
and volunteered for the command of the expedition. Begged for it, in
fact. Major Lacy reluctantly but generously yielded to him with my
consent."

"It was for me he sought it," said the girl, full of reproach for
herself. "I had mocked him for his lack of distinction, sir, before he
saw you. He hazarded his life for my approval and for the cause of the
South."

A fuller light broke upon the general's mind. He understood all now,
yet he went on pitilessly.

"After getting command in this peculiar way he failed to present
himself on the wharf at the appointed time. We waited ten minutes for
him, as long as we dared, in fact, and then as you know, sent the boat
out under Major Lacy."

"He was detained," said the girl, faintly.

"So he said when I arrested him last night, and he repeated the
statement this morning. I pressed him to tell me by whom and where he
had been detained, but he refused to tell. I plied him with every
argument at my command. I pointed out to him the consequences of his
action, his failure to justify himself, that is, showed him clearly the
penalty which the court-martial would undoubtedly inflict upon him--"

"That is?"

"Death, madam! He will probably be shot to-morrow, for his guilt is
clear."

The girl's head fell forward in her hands. There was a little silence
in the room. The general watched her narrowly, but said nothing
further. He was waiting, in full confidence that she would speak. He
could afford to be patient now.



CHAPTER XII

THE CULPRIT IS ARRESTED


"General Beauregard," she whispered at last, "I am the traitor. He was
detained by me."

"That doesn't excuse him," said the general, severely. "Any man who
fails in his duty because he succumbs to a woman's wiles, even though
that woman loves him, has no plea to urge in justification. He is a
soldier. His duty to obey orders is first of all."

"But--but--you don't understand. I--I--kept him there by force, sir.
Major Lacy told me of the expedition--he and Mr. Sempland had called
upon me in the afternoon. They--they had each of them asked
me--in--marriage. We--we quarrelled. Mr. Sempland left me in anger,
Major Lacy divined that I--I--cared for Mr. Sempland. He came back
later in the evening and told me Mr. Sempland was going to blow up the
_Wabash_, and he begged me to see Mr. Sempland again and bid him
good-by. I had only two thoughts--that it meant certain death to my
father and possibly Mr. Sempland--the man--I--What was I to do? I might
have sacrificed myself by letting Mr. Sempland run the risk, but my
father, sir--"

She stopped and looked at him in pitiful entreaty.

"Go on," said the general, inflexibly.

"I had Mr. Sempland ushered into the strong room of the house--the old
Rennie house, you know, sir?"

The general nodded.

"The door was locked on him after he entered. My three negro boys kept
watch outside. There was no escape for him. He beat and hammered on the
door until his hands bled. He begged and implored to be released. It
was agonizing to hear. I did not realize that he was telling the truth
when he said he was being dishonored. I had no time to consider
anything. I only thought of my father--helpless on that great ship--the
sudden rush of that awful little boat."

"You were a traitor to the South!" said General Beauregard, coldly.

[Illustration: "'You were a traitor to the South!' said General
Beauregard, coldly."]

"Yes. God pity me, I see it now," answered the girl.

"How did he get away? Did you release him?" continued the general.

"He swore that he would kill himself if I did not open the door."

"Did you open it?"

"Yes."

"Then did he burst through you and the men?"

"No. They were armed and would have killed him. He could not have made
his escape that way. He begged me to speak to him alone for a moment. I
went into the room and shut the door. He seized me in his arms and then
put his pistol to my head, threatening to kill me if I did not order
the door opened."

"And you obeyed?"

"No, I refused. Then he called out to the slaves to open at once or he
would kill me, their mistress."

"What happened then?"

"I ordered them not to open the door, to let me die. But they did as he
said. He made them leave the hall. They obeyed him in spite of my
protests. Then he threw me aside, and ran to the wharf. I followed
after. The rest you know. It was useless after all. I thought no one
would go if he did not. I thought if I could detain him a night--get
some delay--I would come here in the morning and tell you the truth and
ask you to spare my father."

"Miss Glen," said the little general, "I would not spare my own father
if my duty demanded that he be sacrificed."

"I suppose so. You are a man, you cannot understand. I am a woman.
There were but two I loved on earth. I was ashamed of my father, but I
loved him. Four years of war have taught me other things. I am sorry
that he did not go with the South, but it is not for me to judge him. I
could not see him condemned to death and not raise a hand to save him.
And I discovered too late that I--I--cared for Mr. Sempland. I drove
him from me in scorn and contempt--I taunted him. He sought that detail
to prove his courage, I could not let him go to certain death. If he
did it would be my fault, I would have murdered him. Pity me! I am only
a woman. Try to understand!"

"But the young man has proven his courage--"

"I know, I know! I never doubted it," she interrupted.

"By keeping silent this morning, by facing certain death upon charges
that are worse than the punishment to a soldier, in that they blast his
fame," said the general.

"Thank God for that kindness to me!"

"And he did all this for you."

"He loves me, as I love him."

"But your love has disgraced him, his has protected you."

The girl shrank before the stern words of the soldier.

"Yes," she said faintly, "it is as you say. I alone am to blame. Let
mine alone be the punishment. I will tell all to the court. He must be
cleared!"

"It is just," said Beauregard. "You have committed an act of treason
against the South. There is, however, some excuse for your action, and
your previous record in the hospital service has been such as to
entitle you to every consideration. I am disposed to be lenient, but
the offence is one I cannot condone. I will have to put you under guard
until I can consider what is best to be done."

"I make no protest," said Fanny Glen. "You will, of course, release Mr.
Sempland from arrest, and see that his reputation takes no hurt?"

"I will attend to that."

He struck a bell again and summoned the assistant adjutant-general once
more. Fanny Glen dropped her veil so that her face was concealed from
the officer. He did not perceive what she had suffered and was
suffering. Yet her heart was full of relief--her father was safe, her
lover would be free, and, best of all, she had such testimony as few
women have received to the depth and power of his passion. He loved her
indeed. There was a joy in that thought that set her heart beating.

The general drew his subordinate into a corner of the room, where they
conversed earnestly for a few moments. Then they came back to the young
girl.

"Adjutant-General Wylie," said the commander-in-chief, "you will take
charge of Miss Glen. You will follow him, Miss Glen. I will communicate
my further plans within an hour."

There was something intensely pathetic in the droop of the little
figure, in spite of the comforting thoughts that had come to her, when
the girl rose and followed the soldier from the room.

The general was almost persuaded to call after her a reassuring word or
two, but he restrained himself and said nothing.



CHAPTER XIII

COMPANIONS IN MISERY


It is conceivable that a man could manage to bear without repining the
loss of fame and fortune, that he could survive deprivation of rank and
station with equanimity, nay, more, that he might even contemplate with
a philosophic indifference an impending forfeiture of life, provided he
had love to sustain him. But when that is lost, and consequently
everything is gone, he has to fall back upon conscious rectitude alone,
which is well enough in schemes of philosophy, but most inadequate in
the emergencies and crises of real life.

Lieutenant Rhett Sempland, under arrest, in confinement, awaiting
trial, alone and unvisited by any one,--which meant Fanny Glen,--felt
that morning as if he had indeed lost everything. He had been certain
at first that Fanny Glen had returned his swift, impulsive caress in
the strong room even in the peculiar circumstances under which he had
bestowed it upon her, and he had therefore naturally inferred that she
loved him. Indeed, when he thought of the look in her eyes when he
strained her to his breast, although he had the pistol pointed at her
forehead, the conviction was strong within him.

Yet, again and again this proposition presented itself to him, crushing
his hope and breaking his heart: How could a woman who loved a man, and
a woman especially who had become sufficiently conversant with military
affairs through her hospital service and other experiences in this war
to understand what she was doing, have placed her lover in so
compromising a position?

And most damnably crushing thought of all, why had she not had the
common decency after all to come and see him this morning? He was in
trouble, and he suffered for her sake. She must know that, she must
realize it. Why did she give no sign of it?

His loneliness and his craving to see her was terrible. His desire to
see her grew with every passing moment, he was consumed by it; yet, he
thought bitterly, to what purpose, after all?

Some of this had come to him last night; but the more he thought of it,
the more uncertain, miserable, and deserted he felt. So it is not
strange that it was not so much his own impending fate as it was the
hopeless endeavor to discover the real reason for Fanny Glen's conduct
which engrossed his attention that fateful morning.

He had failed miserably, officially and personally. He decided, against
heart and hope, at last, that he had made no progress in his love
affair. The woman he adored had given him convincing proof, so he
argued, rebellious against the conclusion to the last, that his
professional future was a matter of indifference to her; nay, that his
very life was a thing she would jeopard or even forfeit lightly. Lacy,
as usual, had stepped in the breach and earned immortal fame, even if
he had to die to secure it. Sempland envied him his rest, with his
brave companions in arms in the desperate sea venture, beneath the
cool, green waters of the ocean that laved their beloved shore.

Well, there was no use in worrying or speculating any longer. It would
all be over soon now. He was sufficiently experienced as a soldier to
know what would happen to him. There was only one possible verdict,
only one punishment for the crimes with which he was charged.

When he was sentenced to death, his friends would undoubtedly move
heaven and earth to get President Davis to mitigate or commute his
punishment; but he was resolved in his own mind firmly to discourage
such efforts. He took a gloomy view of life and of love and of
women--do they not always go together in the heart of youth? There was
nothing now, therefore, for which he cared to live.

Yet if he could only see Fanny Glen again! Why did she not send some
one to inquire as to his whereabouts? Surely she might ask after his
welfare. She must know he was under arrest. Why could she not come
herself? He was sacrificing himself for her, to preserve her freedom,
ay, her honor and reputation. She might not love him, but at least she
might have manifested a decent interest in his fate. The barest
politeness ought to make a woman take some thought for a man who was
about to be shot for her sake, he thought bitterly.

Well, he swore to himself, if she should come at the last moment, she
would find him as cold as ice, as indifferent as a Laodicean! He would
show her that he appreciated at its true value not only her heinous
conduct, but her criminal neglect as well. He would make her understand
that it was not love for her that kept him silent. Oh, no! Simply the
obligation of a gentleman, a man of honor, albeit a quixotic one.

Oh, noble resolution! He would go to his grave silent, loading upon her
the weight of an obligation, from which she should never escape. When
the war was over she might marry that man on the _Wabash_ whom she had
been so anxious to save that she had pretended love for him--Sempland!
Yes, he would be under obligation, too, this Union sailor, for to
Sempland would be due his possession of Fanny Glen.

The imprisoned officer ground his teeth in rage at that thought and
turned suddenly from the barred window where he had been standing
listlessly looking down the bay toward old Fort Sumter, almost knocked
to pieces by fierce bombardments, yet still flying the Stars and Bars
in brave defiance of the ironclads far away, and with clenched hands,
firm-set lips, and troubled brow, began pacing up and down the long
apartment. The moments dragged miserably. He wished they would assemble
that court-martial and have it over with. He would not care what they
did, he thought savagely. He was sick and tired of the whole
business--the war, the South, General Beauregard, Fanny Glen,
everything, everybody!

Suddenly he heard footsteps, the clanking of a sword, a word or two
exchanged between the sentry and a newcomer, in the corridor. Some one
turned the handle of the door. It was opened.

Sempland instantly stood at attention, then folded his arms with great
dignity, expecting, of course, to confront some one sent to fetch him
to the opening session of the court. General Beauregard was remarkable
for his promptness and celerity, and he had declared that the young man
should be tried immediately. He had wondered already at the unnecessary
delay. But no stern-featured, dignified official presented himself.
Sempland's astonished gaze fell upon the small figure of a woman!

The door was instantly closed and locked behind her without a word of
explanation from those outside, and the two were alone in a locked room
for the second time in twenty-four hours. There was a difference in the
situation that morning, although the man did not know it. On this
occasion Fanny Glen was a prisoner as well as he.

He could not see her face as her veil still remained down, yet there
was no mistaking her form. Indeed he felt that had it been midnight he
would have recognized her presence. His heart leaped within his breast
at the sight of her. He thought it beat so she might almost have heard
it in the perfect silence that had fallen between them.

His first impulse was to run toward her and take her in his arms once
more. Above all his troubled conclusions of the night before the
recollection of that instant when he had held her so closely still
remained dominant. In her presence he almost forgot everything but
that. Yet he looked at her impassively for a moment, bowed slightly,
then turned and walked deliberately to the other end of the room,
resuming his station at the window looking out to sea.

She had an excellent view of his back. The beating of his heart did not
manifest itself outwardly after all. To her gaze he appeared as
impassive, as quiet, as motionless, as if he had been cut out of iron
like the grated bars. It was a most unsatisfactory beginning to what
must prove an important interview. They played at cross purposes
indeed. He had sacrificed himself to save her, she had sacrificed
herself to save him, and here they were both prisoners apparently, and
things were as unsettled as ever!

Poor Fanny Glen was infinitely more surprised at the sight of her lover
than he had been at the sight of her. Not until she had fairly entered
the room and the door had been closed behind her had she realized that
she was not alone, that he was there. She stood rooted to the spot,
waiting to see what he would do. Had he followed his first impulse,
which would have been to sweep her to his breast, he would have found
her unresisting, submissive, acquiescent. The kiss which had been given
her last night still trembled upon her lips. It was for the taking, she
was his for the asking.

Yet his first movement, save for that cold, perfunctory salutation, had
been one of indifference amounting to contempt. He despised her, then;
he hated her. She had brought him to a terrible position. Ah, well, he
would be sorry for her when he learned her reason, and he would be more
sorry for his treatment of her when he learned that he would be free
and she would suffer for it, not he.

There was something very attractive, after all, in her possible
martyrdom. The thought gave her not a little comfort. She was surprised
that Sempland had not been immediately summoned to the general's
presence when she had been put under guard. She supposed, however, that
the delay was due to some military technicality, and she imagined that
the next moment would see him called from the room in her presence. And
she would be left alone, most miserably, forlornly alone to face her
fate.

Being a martyr is certainly a fine thing, but the position loses half
its charm unless people know it. To complete her melancholy
satisfaction, he--and he considered himself the martyr, not she!--must
recognize it. If he would only turn and speak to her. This silence,
this immobility, on his part, was unbearable.

She coughed gently and took a step or two across the floor toward him.
He gave no sign that he heard her. How cruel he was! So despotic, so
determined, so masterful! She abominated a masterful man! She coughed
again, and this time a little more emphatically. Still no attention. It
was discouraging!

There was a small mirror upon the wall of the room. Her eye in
accordance with an instinct feminine, fell swiftly upon it. She lifted
her veil to see how far the experiences she had gone through had
affected her most potent talisman.

"Heavens!" she thought, "what a fright!"

To take off her hat was the work of a moment. Her swift, subtle fingers
busied themselves with her rebellious curls. Another glance reassured
her a little. She felt more confident. She coughed again, but as
before, he did not move.

"Mr. Sempland," she said softly at last, in sheer desperation.

He turned on his heel as suddenly as if he had been moved by a spring,
and faced her. He had been longing for a chance to recede from his
position.

"Miss Glen," he answered with depressing coldness.

"You--you--don't--seem very glad--to see me, sir."

The moment was one of great importance to both of them; their future,
the life and happiness of one, the honor and good name of the other,
depended upon it--so they thought at least. The conversation
accordingly began, as conversations under such circumstances usually
begin, in trivialities.

"I am not," he answered shortly and mendaciously as well.

"I suppose not. I noticed that you--your welcome--wasn't very cordial,
I am sure."

"I didn't mean it to be."

"Why didn't you order me out of your room, then?" she went on with
becoming humility.

"This room is not mine, I am a prisoner, madam. I have no choice as to
my guests."

"But you will soon be free," returned the girl, quietly. "That is, as
soon as General Beauregard learns that I--I--"

"Give yourself no concern, Miss Glen," he said loftily; "I shall not
betray you."

"What! You won't tell him?" with a perfect assumption of profound
amazement.

"I will not," sternly.

"But they say--I heard--you are to--be--court-martialled."

Her voice sank to a low whisper, as if she were awestricken by the
heavy tidings.

"I am."

"And that you will be found guilty--"

"I shall be."

"And--you may--be--shot!"

"You should have thought of that last night when you arrested me,
imprisoned me, and so made me false to my duty; but what's the use--"
He checked the swift rush of his indignation and continued in bitter
calm: "A woman who could so trifle with a soldier's honor cannot
appreciate the consequences to him."

"I am sure," she went on very humbly, "that I didn't realize what would
happen."

"Of course not," sarcastically.

"And I am willing to make any amends that I can. I will tell General
Beauregard myself that I did it. That it was my fault. That I alone am
to blame."

"I forbid you to do it!" he exclaimed with great energy.

"I do not care what you say, I shall do it!" stubbornly.

"You do not know what it means," he urged, his heart leaping at the
thought that she was willing to set him right and take the blame upon
herself--and she loved him after all! Yet he could not permit her to do
it. "You do not know what this would mean to you," he repeated. "It was
an act of high treason to the South. They will put you in my place.
They will certainly punish you."

"Would they shoot me?" she inquired in her most terrified manner, her
eyes wide open with beautifully simulated terror.

[Illustration: "'Would they shoot me?' she inquired."]

He felt so sorry for the poor little frightened thing. He longed to
gather her up in his arms and comfort her, reassure her.

"They might," he returned, stepping nearer to her and visibly
unbending. "I cannot have you take the risk. I won't allow it!"

There was something nice, after all, in the imperative mood, she
thought.

"But how will you prevent it, Mr. Sempland?"

"I tell you, I forbid you!"

"But if I disobey? I never promised to obey you, did I?--that is, not
yet?"

"I cannot compel you, of course," he answered sadly, drawing back a
little. "I know I have neither power nor influence over you, Miss Glen,
but this, at least, I can do. I can swear that you are not telling the
truth."

"I am sure they would not believe you against me," she retorted
vehemently.



CHAPTER XIV

THE WOMAN EXPLAINS


"I think they would believe me against even you," answered Sempland. "I
would tell them that you--ah--love me and that you are trying to save
me. And more, if you say one word to General Beauregard, or any one
else about it after you leave this room, I give you my word of honor I
will declare that I was afraid to go and that I stayed with you."

"Why will you be so foolish?" she asked.

"Because I love you," he burst out, "that's the only reason. I have
told you before, but you did not seem to believe it, at least you did
not appear to care; but now it won't hurt you to hear it once more. You
won't have to hear it again from me. It's the last time. I expect every
moment they will be here to summon me before the court-martial, so I
must tell you now. You are a cruel, heartless coquette. You encouraged
Lacy--"

"I did not!" indignantly.

"And you didn't discourage me."

"How dare you say so?"

"Last night when I held you in my arms and kissed you--"

"I was powerless--"

"When I released you you clasped me around the neck and returned my
caress. I'll swear you did, and all the time you had another man in
your heart."

"Another man?" she exclaimed in great astonishment.

"Yes. That man on the _Wabash_!"

"Oh, the man on the _Wabash_!"

"Yes. You wanted to save him. So you played with me. Why weren't you
honest about it? Why didn't you tell me the truth? But no, you chose to
disgrace me for him. Well, you succeeded. I shall pay the penalty. I
shall keep silent for your sake. He may have you and you may have him,
but my death will be ever between you. The burden of obligation will be
heavy upon you both, more than you can carry!"

He had worked himself up into a jealous rage by this time. His
self-control was completely gone.

"Who is this man?" he burst out at last, while she took a wicked joy in
his misapprehension.

"His--his--name--is--" she spoke slowly and with seeming reluctance,
as if to spare him.

"Then there is a man? Good God! I had hoped, in spite of everything,
that I might have been mistaken, that you acted so for some other
reason. Do you love him?"

"Yes," faintly, turning away her head.

"Do you really love him, or are you making a fool of him as you did of
me?"

"But I--love you, too," she said demurely, slowly dropping her head so
that her face was half hidden from his intent gaze.

"How can you love both of us?" he exclaimed, angered beyond endurance
by her apparent coquetry.

"It's--it's--different," she answered demurely.

"If Lacy were here, I suppose he would understand, but women such as
you are beyond me."

"It seems so."

"But why prolong this interview longer, Miss Glen? Your secret is safe
with me. Probably you came here to learn that. I will not allow you to
betray it, either;"--how inconsistent he was, she thought;--"you know
that I love you, and I know that you do not love me, that your heart is
with that man on the ship. Won't you please leave me to myself? I
really shall need all my self-command, my strength, to face the
court-martial, and you--you--unman me. I thank you for coming to see
me, but--forgive my apparent discourtesy--I would rather be alone.
Good-by."

"Wait," she said. "That man on the _Wabash_--"

"By heaven!" he interrupted savagely--he was a man of somewhat
elemental passions when he was aroused, and he was thoroughly aroused
then--"have you no mercy, no pity? This is too much! I don't want to
hear a word about him. Whoever he is I--"

"Stop, sir!" cried the girl, impressively, "or you will say something
for which you will be sorry."

"Sorry! I should like to have him within reach of my hand!" he said
grimly, extending his arm as he spoke, and his expression was not
pleasant to see. "I'd--"

"I am sure," she went on hurriedly, cutting him off, "you would not do
a thing to him if he stood right here."

"Would I not? And pray, why not?" he asked her bitterly.

"Because--"

She stopped, reluctant to disclose her secret. Once she did so her
power was gone.

"Because--" she said again.

"Tell me in heaven's name! You torture me!"

"Because he--is--my--"

Again she stopped, and again his anxiety got the better of him. He
caught her hands in his own and held them with a grasp that hurt her.

"My God, will you cease this cruelty? He is not your--you are not
really married to him, are you?"

"Hardly. Let go of my hands," she answered, striving to draw away: yet
for a fairly strong young woman she exhibited an astonishing feebleness
in her endeavor.

"Who is he?" with imperious insistence.

"My father--there! Now, will you release me?"

"Your father! And there is no other man?" in great bewilderment,
through which the glimmering of greater relief began to shine.

She shook her head.

"And you did this for him alone?"

"No-o-o," with reluctance, "not altogether for him alone."

"Who else then?"

"I told you last night," she answered evasively.

"For me?"

"Ye-es," faintly. "I could not bear to see you lose your--your life."

Slowly she felt herself being drawn nearer to him. She struggled
feebly, glad to be overborne by his superior strength. In another
moment she was in his arms for the second time. Her head was bent down
toward his waistcoat pocket. Holding her safe with one arm he put his
hand under her chin, and turned her face upward. There were blushes on
her cheeks, laughter and tears in her eyes. The interrupted kiss
trembled upon her lips, and he--well, this time it was longer than the
night before and more satisfying. As he kissed her her arms went around
his neck again.

"There was no other man," she whispered, "there never was any one but
you. I did wrong, very wrong, but my father and you--that was my
excuse. And I loved you all the time."

When there was opportunity some moments later for articulate
conversation, he endeavored to solve the mystery of her paternity, the
understanding of which he had put by in the face of more pressing
business--or pleasure.

"Then your name isn't Fanny Glen?"

"That's part of it."

"What's the rest of it?"

"Fanny Glen Vernon."

"What! Is Admiral Vernon your father?"

"He is."

"How is that?"

"When the war broke out he stayed with the North, was true to his flag,
he said. I had seen little of him since my mother's death, when I was
ten years old. I was a Southern woman. It seemed monstrous to me. I
begged and implored him, but uselessly, and finally our relations were
broken off. So I dropped the name of Vernon, and came here to work for
our cause, the rest you know. But I could not let him be blown up
unsuspecting, could I? If he were killed in action, it would be
terrible enough, but this was a dreadful ending. I thought--I don't
know what I thought. I love the South, but--"

"I understand, my dearest," he said, in no condition to understand
anything very clearly, and caring little for the moment for anything
except that she loved him.

"And you forgive me?"

"Forgive you? With all my soul. This moment with you in my arms, with
your arms around my neck, with your kisses upon my lips, with your
words in my ear, with your love in my heart--this makes up for
everything! I shall go to my death gladly."

"To your death!" she exclaimed, drawing away from him in surprise and
alarm.

"Yes. Your confession to me makes no difference."

"But I will tell the general."

"I forbid it! Darling, you have committed an act of treason to the
South, and while your love for your father--and for me--has explained
it, you could not make such a plea as that before any court-martial
composed of soldiers. You would only harm yourself, and you would not
help me, and so I won't allow it."

"But I must tell the general!" she persisted.

"Dearest, no," said Sempland, smiling fondly at her. "We will
anticipate what might have been. If all had gone well, you would have
promised to obey me before the altar. Would you not?"

She nodded with astonishing docility.

"Well, then--"

"And if I will not?"

"Why, then, I shall have to discredit you, as I threatened, and my own
situation will be more serious than before, for I shall brand myself as
a coward, as well, and you would not like your lover to have that
stigma on him."

"You will not let me save you, then?"

"No," answered the man, sighing deeply, "and life is so different to me
now. I didn't care an hour ago what happened, but now--"

There was a tap on the door.

"What is it?" he called out impatiently.

"It's me, Lieutenant Sempland--Sergeant Slattery," answered the
sergeant of the guard, a whilom friend to the prisoner. "On me own
account, sor, I come to tell ye that they'll be afther comin' for ye in
a few minutes, an' ye'd better git ready fer 'em. If ye have
anythin'--any preparations to make, ye'd better be quick about it,
sor."

"Thank you," answered Sempland. "You hear, dearest? You must go. I must
have a moment to myself to enable me to face this court-martial. Leave
me now, I beg of you. Go home. After it is over I shall ask permission
of the general to have you visit me."

"I cannot go," said Fanny Glen, archly.

"Why not?"

"I am a prisoner."

"A prisoner! What for?"

"For treachery, disobedience of orders, oh, everything!" she answered
glibly.

"What do you mean?"

"General Beauregard sent me here this morning. The court-martial is for
me, not you. They're going to set you free and I am to be tried and
shot, it may be."

"Nonsense! How did he find out?"

"I told him myself. I didn't disobey you, you see. You had not
forbidden me to do it then."

"What did you tell him?"

"That Admiral Vernon was my father, and that I kept you--I--I--loved
you."

"Great heavens! And--"

"And then he called the adjutant-general and they whispered together a
moment, and then he sent me here."

"Why did you do it?" cried the man, reproachfully. "They will punish
you in some way. I would rather have died than have you tell. What
shall we do now?"



CHAPTER XV

THE GENERAL'S LITTLE COMEDY


There was a hurried movement on the part of the sentry in the corridor,
followed by the trampling of many feet. Sabres clanked, voices broke
the stillness. Fanny Glen was really frightened now. They were coming.
They were there. What were they about to do to her? Of course, they
would not shoot her,--she was reasonably sure of that,--but in any
event she was certain to be parted from her lover. She drew nearer to
him as the door was opened.

On the threshold stood General Beauregard himself, his visage charged
with an unusual degree of solemnity. Back of him were grouped the
members of his staff and others who had been on the wharf the night
before. They were all in full uniform and made a most impressive sight.
It was a highly dramatic moment, full of menace to the woman. As for
Sempland, he scarcely comprehended it.

"The court-martial!" whispered Fanny Glen, fearfully, instinctively
shrinking closer to Sempland as she spoke.

That officer knew, of course, that no court-martial was ever
inaugurated in that manner, but he said nothing. He did not understand.
He would await developments. Something was in the wind, certainly. What
could it be?

"Captain Sempland," said the general, formally, advancing further into
the room, followed by the rest, "you are relieved from arrest, sir,
and--"

"Captain Sempland?" murmured Sempland in great surprise.

"Yes, sir, Captain Sempland," with marked emphasis on the title. "You
are restored to duty forthwith, sir," continued the general, smiling at
his astonished subordinate. "The charges of neglect of duty and
disobedience of orders which I made last night and repeated this
morning are withdrawn. There never was any suspicion of cowardice or
treason. Although you did not succeed, having been prevented by causes
beyond your control, as I now learn, from taking out the _David_, yet
your earnest desire to do so, the fact that you volunteered for the
detail, and even besought me to give it to you, the extreme measures to
which you resorted to escape from confinement in order to carry out
your orders, even going so far as to threaten a lady, warrant me in
promoting you. Here," receiving the weapon from one of the staff
officers, "is your sword. I return it to you." Next the general drew
some papers from his coat. "Here is your commission as captain. Here
are orders which take you to the Army of Northern Virginia. They are
accompanied by a personal letter to my friend, General Lee, in which I
have asked him to give you a position on his staff with all its
opportunities for useful service and distinction. May you reflect
credit, as I have no doubt you will, upon the South, the state of South
Carolina, and all our hopes and ambitions for you. Gentlemen," to the
others, "you are all witnesses to this rehabilitation of Captain
Sempland."

The room was instantly filled with the sound of hearty cheering from
the officers in attendance.

"General Beauregard, you have overwhelmed me," faltered Sempland as
soon as he could make himself heard. "I have done nothing to deserve
this honor."

Beauregard stepped nearer to him.

"You would have sacrificed your life for a woman," whispered the
gallant little general, approvingly. "I understand." Then he said
aloud: "See that you strive to merit our trust and confidence in the
future, then. You will have many chances for great deeds with General
Lee. Would that I were with him!"

"General," said the young man, "your kindness emboldens me. This lady,
sir--"

"Is a prisoner," said the general, shortly.

"I know it, sir. She committed a terrible blunder, yet--"

"Gentlemen," said Beauregard, turning to his staff officers, "you know
the story of last night. How this lady interfered to prevent an
important military manoeuvre, the object of which was the destruction
of the Federal flagship by a torpedo, and incidentally the probable
death of Captain Sempland. Such conduct is essentially treasonable,
especially in a state of war. What is the punishment for such actions
in the face of the enemy?"

"Death, sir," returned the adjutant-general, solemnly.

"Are you all agreed as to that, gentlemen?"

"We are, sir," was the unanimous reply.

They had been well tutored in the little comedy which the general had
arranged, it was evident.

"Impossible, sir!" cried Sempland, in agony. They deceived even him
with their seriousness. "This is most irregular! I protest--"

"I am ready, gentlemen," whispered Fanny Glen, bravely, turning very
white as she spoke, and not appearing at all ready in fact, "I--I--am
glad to--suffer, since Captain Sempland--" she faltered with a
miserable attempt at courage.

"One moment, please," broke in the little general, imperatively. "But,
gentlemen, the culprit has otherwise deserved well of her country, as
you know. During the war her services in the general hospital have been
beyond price. She is a woman. On the ship which it was proposed to blow
up was her father, Admiral Vernon, a South Carolinian, whose ideas of
duty led him to continue his services to the United States. These are
mitigating circumstances. Here is no treachery to the South, merely a
woman's desire to save her father from a swift and sudden death. No
mischance has arisen from her action. Major Lacy took out the boat with
his usual distinction, although, fortunately for the lady and the
admiral, the _Housatonic_ seems to have suffered instead of the
_Wabash_. Under these circumstances, I think, it does not behoove us to
be too severe. You agree with me, I am sure, gentlemen?"

"Certainly, sir, we do," replied the officers in chorus.

"Thank you! thank you!" exclaimed Fanny Glen, gratefully, with
boundless relief in her voice.

By this time she was as close to Sempland as she could get, and
entirely unconscious of what he was doing, the latter had thrown his
arm protectingly around her waist.

"Wait, Miss Glen," said the general, severely, lifting his hand and
checking her further speech, "you cannot think to escape scot free.
Such actions cannot go entirely unpunished. So long as Miss Fanny Glen
exists she must suffer for her actions. You are agreed with me,
gentlemen?"

"We are, sir."

It was remarkable the unanimity with which they all supported their
general's decisions on so serious a matter, and practically without
deliberation.

"Captain Sempland, as a soldier, I am sure you will acquiesce in the
views of your brother officers."

Sempland bit his lip. Fanny Glen nestled closer to him and looked up at
him beseechingly.

"Oh, General!" he said at last. "Isn't there some way out of it?"

"There may be," said the general, solemnly. "Let me think a moment.
Suppose--ah, suppose, Miss Fanny Glen were to disappear?"

"But where can I go, sir?" asked the girl, nervously. "All that I
love--" she observed a smile flickering upon the general's lips as she
glanced at Sempland. "I mean everybody and everything that I love is
here." She stamped her foot impatiently. "You won't send me to the
Union fleet? I know my father is safe--but I love the South. I will
never do anything wrong again if you won't send me away!" she pleaded.

It was, indeed, a sweeping promise, one she could scarcely have kept.

"There are other ways by which Miss Fanny Glen might disappear," said
Beauregard, gravely.

"How, sir?"

"You might change your name--again!"

"Change my name?"

"Yes. You might become--Mrs. Rhett Sempland, let us say!"

"O-o-oh!" cried the girl, blushing furiously and drawing away from her
lover's side.

"Quite so," answered the general with deep gravity, too deep not to be
suspicious, while Sempland's heart leaped with happiness. This was the
meaning of the general's little play, then?

"Proceedings which would have to be instituted against Fanny Glen could
then be allowed to drop," continued Beauregard, enjoying the situation
immensely. "Is not that a solution, gentlemen?" he asked, throwing back
his head and laughing cheerfully at the pleasant ending of the little
comedy he had planned, which pleased the small audience hugely.

"That is the happiest of all solutions, sir," said Sempland, taking
Fanny Glen's hands.

"I won't be married simply to save my life," said the girl.

"Of course not," said the general. "Yet either you must be
court-martialled or Mr. Sempland will be."

"I--I might do it--to save--his life, sir," she said, blushing
furiously again.

"However it is done--" said Sempland, "however it may be brought about,
it satisfies me completely."

"'If 'twere done when 'tis done, 'twere well 'twere done quickly,'"
quoted the general with striking appositeness, greatly delighted at the
outcome of the affair.

"I agree with you entirely, sir," returned Sempland, smiling--it was
the part of wisdom for a captain to agree with a general always, and
the way of prudence was the path of pleasure in this instance.

"Captain Sempland," said Beauregard, "your orders need not be carried
out until to-morrow. There will be time enough before that time for a
wedding, in which, in the absence of her father, I promise myself the
pleasure of giving away the bride. Now, gentlemen, we will leave
the--ah--two culprits to talk it over for a few moments. Let me know
your decision, Miss Glen, as soon as may be, that I may decide whether
to assemble or dissolve the court. And rest assured the happenings of
last night and this morning, so far as they concern Miss Glen, are not
to be spoken outside this room by any one. Good morning."

                    *      *      *      *      *

"Fanny Glen," said Sempland, when they were alone once more, "are you
marrying me to save yourself?"

She shook her head.

"Rhett Sempland, are you marrying me," she asked in return, "to save
yourself?"

"I am marrying you, you little darling, as you very well know, because
I love you."

"And that is my reason, too," said Fanny Glen.

"Fanny Glen," he said imperiously, "come here!"

And to him she came with astonishing meekness.

"Put your arms around my neck!"

And obediently there she put them!

"Lift up your head!"

Slowly, surely, up it came!

After all, Fanny Glen did love a masterful man!





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