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´╗┐Title: Frank on a Gun-Boat
Author: Castlemon, Harry, [pseud.], 1842-1915
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Frank on a Gun-Boat" ***

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[Illustration: FRANK SAVING THE BOAT]



THE GUN-BOAT SERIES.



FRANK ON A GUN-BOAT

BY

HARRY CASTLEMON,

AUTHOR OF "THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN SERIES," "THE GO-AHEAD SERIES," ETC.



1892.



Contents.


CHAPTER I.

IN THE NAVY.

CHAPTER II.

LEARNING THE ROPES.

CHAPTER III.

SQUARING THE YARDS.

CHAPTER IV.

A MIDNIGHT ALARM.

CHAPTER V.

A DISCOMFITED REBEL.

CHAPTER VI.

FRANK'S FIRST EXPLOIT.

CHAPTER VII.

ON A GUN-BOAT.

CHAPTER VIII.

THE STRUGGLE BETWEEN THE LINES.

CHAPTER IX.

A UNION FAMILY.

CHAPTER X.

A SPUNKY REBEL.

CHAPTER XI.

FRANK A PRISONER.

CHAPTER XII.

THE ESCAPE.

CHAPTER XIII.

THE FAITHFUL NEGRO.

CHAPTER XIV.

CHASED BY BLOOD-HOUNDS.

CHAPTER XV.

THE RESCUE.

CHAPTER XVI.

A FRIEND IN NEED.

CHAPTER XVII.

THE SCENE AT THE PLANTATION.

CHAPTER XVIII.

ALMOST BETRAYED.

CHAPTER XIX.

CONCLUSION.



FRANK ON A GUN-BOAT.

CHAPTER I.

In the Navy.


"Well, Frank, did you bring home the evening's paper?" inquired Mrs.
Nelson, as her son entered the room where she was sitting.

"Yes, ma'am. Here it is!" answered Frank, producing it. "But there is
no news in it. The Army of the Potomac has not moved yet. I don't see
what makes them wait so long. Why don't McClellan go to work and thrash
the rebels?"

"You must remember that the rebels have about as many men as we have,"
answered his mother. "Perhaps, if McClellan should undertake to 'thrash'
the rebels, as you say, he would get whipped himself"

"That makes no difference," answered Frank. "If I was in his place, and
the rebels _should_ whip me, it wouldn't do any good, for I'd renew the
battle every day, as long as I had a man left."

It was toward the close of the first year of the war, during the "masterly
inactivity" of the Army of the Potomac. For almost eight months McClellan
had been lying idle in his encampment, holding in check that splendid
army, which, with one blow, could have crushed out the rebellion, and
allowing the rebels ample time to encircle their capital with
fortifications, before which the blood of loyal men was to be poured out
like water. The people of the North were growing impatient; and "On to
Richmond!" was the cry from every part of the land.

From the time Fort Sumter had fallen, Frank had been deeply interested in
what as going on. The insults which had been heaped upon the flag under
which his grandfather had fought and died, made the blood boil in his
veins, and he often wished that he could enlist with the brave defenders
of his country. He grew more excited each day, as the struggle went on,
and the news of a triumph or defeat would fire his spirit, and he longed
to be standing side by side with the soldiers of the Union, that he might
share in their triumphs, or assist in retrieving their disasters.

He was left almost alone now, for many of the boys of his acquaintance had
shouldered their muskets and gone off with the others; and that very day
he had met Harry Butler, who had enlisted as a private, wearing the
uniform of a lieutenant, which he had won by his bravery at Fort Donelson.

He had never said one word to his mother about enlisting, for he was an
only son, and he dreaded to ask her permission. But that mother's quick
eye easily read what was going on in her son's mind. She had Puritan blood
in her veins; her ancestors had fought in the war of the Revolution, and
she had resolved that, if Frank wished to go, she would give her full
consent. A mother's heart alone can tell the struggle it had cost her to
come to this determination.

"I've got a letter from Archie, also," said Frank.

His mother took it from his hand, and read as follows:

    Portland, _March_ 18, 1862.


    Dear Cousin:

    I am about to tell you something which you will call strange news.
    Father has at last given his consent to my going to war, provided
    you will go too. He says that if I go, I must have you with me, to
    take care of me, and keep me straight. I suppose he thinks I will
    never go if I am obliged to wait for you, for he says your mother
    will not consent to your going. You can ask her, any way. You know
    you always wanted to have a hand in putting down this rebellion.

    If we go at all, I think the best plan is to enter the navy. It is a
    much better branch of the service than the army--the discipline is
    better; there are no long marches to endure; and, wherever you go,
    your house goes with you.

    Now, be sure and do your best, for now is our chance, if ever.
    Please write immediately, for I am afraid father will change his
    mind.

    Yours, in haste, Archibald Winters.

When Mrs. Nelson had read the letter, she handed it back to her son
without saying a word.

"Well, mother, what do you think of it?" inquired Frank.

"The matter rests entirely with you, my son," answered Mrs. Nelson,
dropping her sewing into her lap. "Do just as you think best."

"Do you say I may go?" inquired Frank, joyfully.

"Certainly. You have my full consent to go, if you wish to."

"Oh, mother," exclaimed Frank, springing up and throwing his arms around
her neck, "I wish I had known, long ago, that you were willing to have me
go."

"Where are you going, Frank?" inquired Julia, who had a vague suspicion of
what was going on.

"I'm off to the war," answered her brother. "I am going into the navy with
Archie."

"Oh, Frank," she exclaimed, bursting into tears, "you must not go. There's
enough in the army without you. You will certainly get shot."

"I'll never be shot in the back," said Frank; "you may rely on that. But
you don't suppose that every one who goes to war gets shot, do you? I may
be one of the lucky ones; so don't cry any more."

But Julia could not control her feelings. The thought that her brother was
to be exposed to the slightest danger was terrible; and Frank, seeing that
it would do no good to talk to her, left the room, and went into his
study, where he wrote to Archie, stating that he would start for Portland
the next day. He spent the forenoon in wandering about the house and
orchard, taking a long and lingering look at each familiar object. He
locked the museum, and gave the key to Julia, who was close at his side
wherever he went. Even Brave seemed to have an idea of what was going on,
for he followed his master about, and would look into his face and whine,
as though he was well aware that they were about to be separated.

Immediately after dinner, the carriage which was to convey Frank and his
baggage to the Julia Burton drew up before the door. The parting time had
come. "Good-by, mother," said Frank, as he stood at the door, ready to go.

"Good-by, my son," said Mrs. Nelson, straining him to her bosom, and
struggling hard to keep back a sob. "We may never see you again, but I
hope I shall never hear that you shrunk from your duty."

Frank could not reply--his breast was too full for utterance: and hastily
kissing his sister, and shaking Hannah's hand, he hurried down the walk
toward the gate. He had not gone far before Brave came bounding after him.

"Go back, old fellow," said Frank, caressing the faithful animal; "you
can't go with me this time. It will be a long while before you and I will
go anywhere together again. Go back, sir."

Brave understood his master perfectly; and he turned and trotted toward
the house, looking back now and then, and whining, as if urging his master
to allow him to go too. Frank did not stop to look back, but sprang into
the carriage, and the driver closed the door after him, and mounted to his
seat and drove off. He had scarcely time to get his baggage on board the
steamer before she moved off into the stream. And Frank was glad it was
so, for the longer he remained in sight of the village, the harder grew
the struggle to leave it. But, at length, every familiar object was left
behind, and being surrounded by new scenes, Frank gradually recovered his
usual spirits.

In two days he arrived at Portland, and as he was getting off the cars, he
was seized by Archie, who had come to the depot to meet him.

"I'm glad to see you," said the latter; "it is lucky that you wrote just
as you did, for father has said a dozen times that I can't go. But I guess
he will not refuse me, now that you are here."

"I hope not," said Frank; "we can go as well as any one else. If every one
was to stay at home, we shouldn't have any army at all."

"That's just what I told father; but he didn't seem to see it. He says
there are some who ought to go, for they are of no earthly use here; but
he thinks that boys like you and me ought to stay at home until we know
enough to take care of ourselves."

But Mr. Winters did not raise many objections when he found that Frank had
obtained his mother's consent; and, on the next day but one after Frank's
arrival, he accompanied the boys on board the receiving-ship, where they
were speedily examined and sworn in. Each was then supplied with a bag
and hammock, and two suits of clothes; and, when they were rigged out in
their blue shirts and wide pants, they made fine-looking sailors. At Mr.
Winters' request they were granted permission to remain on shore until a
raft of men was ready to be sent away. The boys were allowed to do pretty
much as they pleased while they remained, for, as they were to leave so
soon, Mr. Winters could not find it in his heart to raise any objections
to the plans they proposed for their amusement. Besides, he knew that
Archie was in good hands, for Frank was a boy of excellent habits, and
possessed sufficient moral courage to say _no_, when tempted to do
wrong; and, as he had great influence over his cousin, Mr. Winters knew
their conduct would be such as he could approve.

At length, one morning, when they went on board the receiving-ship to
report as usual, they were ordered to present themselves at the depot at
two o'clock that afternoon, with their bags and hammocks, in readiness to
take the train for the West. The boys were a good deal disappointed when
they heard this, for the idea of serving out their year on the Mississippi
River was not an agreeable one. They had hoped to be ordered to the coast.
But, as Archie remarked, it was "too late to back out," and they were
obliged to submit. When Archie came to bid farewell to his parents, he
found it to be a much more difficult task than he had expected. The tears
would come to his eyes, in spite of himself, as he embraced his mother;
and, as soon as he could disengage himself from her arms, he seized his
bag and hammock, and rushed out of the house to conceal his emotion. When
they reached the depot, they found that the draft to which they belonged
numbered nearly two hundred men, some of whom were old sailors, while
others, like themselves, were entirely unacquainted with the life they
were about to lead.

The journey to Cairo--which was then the naval depot of the Western
rivers--was a long and tedious one. They were treated with the greatest
kindness by the officers who accompanied them, and at almost every station
the people would flock around the cars with baskets of provisions, which
were freely distributed.

Early on the fifth morning they reached their destination, and were
immediately marched on board a small steamer which lay alongside of the
naval wharf-boat, and carried to the receiving-ship, which lay anchored in
the middle of the river.



CHAPTER II.

Learning the Ropes.


As they came on board the receiving-ship they were all drawn up in a line,
the roll was called, and they were divided off into messes. The mess to
which Frank and his cousin belonged was called "Number Twenty-five." As
they were about to be dismissed, the officer who had called the roll said
to Archie:

"You will be cook of this mess."

"Sir?" said Archie, in surprise.

"You will be cook of this mess," repeated the officer, in a louder tone.
"But what is the matter with you? Are you hard of hearing?"

"No, sir; but I can't cook."

"Never mind; you can try. You may go below, lads."

The men did as they were ordered, and our heroes seated themselves on one
of the broadside guns, and Archie said:

"I'm in a nice fix, ain't I? I don't know any more about cooking than a
hog does about gunpowder."

"I will assist you all I can," said Frank; "but I wonder what we shall
have for dinner? I hope it will be something good, for I'm as hungry as a
bear."

At this moment the whistle of the boatswain's mate sounded through the
ship, and that personage passed them and called out, in a low voice:

"Mess cook Number Twenty-five!"

"He means me, don't he?" inquired Archie, turning to his cousin.

"I don't know, I'm sure. Ask him."

"Mess cook Number Twenty-five," again shouted the mate.

"Here I am," said Archie.

"Well, you ought to be somewhere else," said the mate, sharply. "Why don't
you go and draw your rations?"

"I don't know where I should go," answered Archie.

"Then fly around and find out;" and the mate turned on his heel and
walked away.

"Now, that's provoking," exclaimed Archie. "Why couldn't he tell a fellow
where to go? I'll tell that officer that I didn't ship for a cook; I
shipped to fight. I wish I was at home again."

But regrets were worse than useless, and Archie began to look around to
find some one who could tell him where to go to draw his rations. At
length he met one of the men who belonged to his mess, whose name was
Simpson, who told him that he must go to the paymaster's store-room, and
offered to show him the way; and, as he saw that Archie was entirely
unacquainted with life on shipboard, Simpson told him to come to him
whenever he wanted any advice.

As Archie entered the store-room, the paymaster's steward, a boy about his
own age, who was serving out the provisions, after inquiring the number of
his mess, said:

"It's lucky that you came in just as you did, for I have sent the
master-at-arms after you. If you don't attend to your business better than
this, I shall have you put on the black-list for a week or two."

Now, Archie had never been accustomed to being "ordered about by any boy
of his size," as he afterward remarked, and he felt very much like making
an angry reply. But he knew it would only get him into trouble, and,
choking down his wrath, he answered:

"If any one will tell me what my duty is, I shall be glad to do it."

"You haven't been in the navy a great while, have you?" inquired the
steward, with a laugh.

"No; this is my first attempt at learning to be a sailor."

"Well, all I have got to say," continued the steward, "is, that you will
soon be sorry that you ever made the attempt."

"I am sorry now," said Archie; "and if I ever get home again, you'll never
catch me in another scrape like this. I don't like the idea of having
everybody order me around, and talk to me as though I was a dog."

"No reflections," said the steward sharply. "Better keep a civil tongue in
your head. But now to business. In the first place, here are your dishes,"
and he handed Archie a number of tin pots and plates, a large pan, and a
mess-kettle.

"What shall I do with these?" asked Archie.

"Why, eat out of them, to be sure," answered the steward; "what else would
you do with them? I shall hold you responsible for them," he continued;
"and if any of them are lost, they will be charged to your account. Now go
and put them away in your mess-chest, which you will find on the
berth-deck, and then come back, and I will give you your rations."

Archie accordingly picked up his dishes, and started--he knew not whither,
for he had no idea to which part of the vessel he should go in order to
find the berth-deck. But he had often boasted that he would have no
difficulty in getting along in the world while he had a tongue in his
head; so he made inquiries of the first man he met, who told him to go up
to the captain, who was always ready to send the executive officer to show
landlubbers over the ship. If there was any joke in this, Archie was too
angry to notice it, and he was about to make a suitable rejoinder, when a
voice close behind him said:

"Now, shipmate, what's the use of being so hard on the boy?"

Archie turned, and found Simpson at his side.

"The youngster hain't been to sea as long as you and I have," continued
the latter. "If we were ashore, he would stand a better chance of gettin'
along than you nor me."

"Then, shiver his tim'ers, why didn't he stay ashore, where he belongs?"
asked the man, gruffly.

"Oh, he's got the right stuff in him, and will soon learn the ropes,"
answered Simpson. "Come, now, my little marlinspike," he continued,
turning to Archie, "follow in my wake, and I'll show you where our
mess-chest is;" and the kind-hearted sailor led the way to the berth-deck,
and showed Archie the mess-chest, which had "No. 25" painted on it. Archie
put all his dishes into it, with the exception of the mess-kettle and two
plates, which, according to Simpson's directions, he took back to the
store-room, to put his rations in. The steward then gave him a large piece
of salt beef, some coffee, sugar, butter, and sea-biscuit.

"Is this all we have to eat?" inquired Archie, as he picked up his rations
and followed Simpson back to his mess-chest.

"All!" repeated Simpson; "yes, my hearty, and you may thank your lucky
stars that you have got even this. You'll have to live on worse grub nor
this afore your year is out. But I see you don't like the berth of cook,
so I'll take it off your hands. Give me the key of the chist."

Archie accordingly handed it over, and then went in search of his cousin,
whom he found perched upon a coil of rope, engaged in writing a letter.

"Well," exclaimed the latter, as Archie came up, "how do you get along?"

"I don't get along at all," said Archie; "I tell you, we've got ourselves
in a fix. What do you suppose we are going to have for dinner?"

"I don't know," answered Frank. "Well, we will have a chunk of salt beef,
coffee without any milk, butter strong enough to go alone, and crackers so
hard that you couldn't break them with an ax. I tell you, the navy is
played out."

"Well, it can't be helped," said his cousin. "We are in for it. But we'll
soon get accustomed to the food; we are seeing the worst of our year now."

"I certainly hope so," said Archie; "but I know I can stand it if any one
else can; and when I fairly get started, I won't ask favors of any one."

Frank made no reply, but went on with his letter, and Archie leaned on one
of the guns and gazed listlessly into the water. At length they were
interrupted by the boatswain's whistle, blown three times in succession,
long and loud.

"What's the matter now, I wonder," said Frank, as the sailors commenced
running about the ship in all directions.

"I know," answered Archie, as he saw Simpson dive into the cook's galley
and reappear bearing the mess-kettle, filled with steaming coffee, in one
hand, and a large pan, containing the salt beef, in the other--"dinner is
ready."

The cousins walked aft to their mess-chest, and found the berth-deck
filled with men, who were sitting around the chests, brandishing their
sheath-knives over plates fall of salt beef and "hard-tack."

Coming directly from home, where they had been accustomed to luxurious
living, our young sailors thought they could not relish this hard fare
but, as they had eaten no breakfast, they were very hungry, and the food
tasted much better than they had expected.

When dinner was ended, Simpson began to gather up the dishes belonging to
his mess, preparatory in washing them. Frank and Archie offered their
assistance, and Simpson directed the former to take the mess-kettle and go
up to the galley after some hot water. When he was returning, he saw a man
stealing around the deck, holding something behind him that looked very
much like a bundle of rope, and keeping a close watch on every one he met.
Frank did not know what to make of this, and stepping up to the
boatswain's mate, he inquired:

"What is that man doing with that bundle of rope behind him?"

"That ain't a bundle of rope, you landlubber," replied the mate; "that's a
swab."

"Well, what is he doing with it?"

"The best way for you to learn would be for you to spill some of that
water you have got in your kettle on the deck."

Frank, without stopping to think, tipped up his kettle, and turned out
some of the water; and the man, who had been watching his every movement,
sprang toward him and threw down the swab, exclaiming, "I've caught you,
my hearty; now you may log this bit of rope for awhile."

"What do you mean?" inquired Frank, amid a roar of laughter from every
sailor who had witnessed the performance. "What does he mean?" repeated
the mate; "why, he means that you have got to wipe up that water you have
spilt on deck, and carry that swab until you can catch some one else doing
the same thing."

For the benefit of the uninitiated, we will make an explanation. It often
happens on shipboard, especially receiving-ships, that the men become very
careless; and in carrying water, paint, or grease about the ship,
frequently spill some of it on deck. While this state of things continues,
it is impossible to keep a ship clean, and, in order to break up this
habit, the culprits are obliged to wipe up whatever they have spilled, and
then carry a swab about the deck until they can detect some one else
equally unfortunate. This is not a pleasant task; for, as soon as this
rule is put in force, the men become very careful, and the luckless
offender is sometimes obliged to walk the decks the entire day before he
can detect any one in the act of violating it.

Frank, of course, did not understand this, and the mate had got him into
the scrape for the purpose of getting the man who first had the swab, who
was a particular friend of his, out of his unpleasant position.

"Come, youngster, drop that mess-kettle and pick up that swab," commanded
the mate.

Frank knew he had no alternative; so he set his mess-kettle on deck out of
the way, and picking up the swab, walked aft to the place where he had
left Simpson.

"Hullo, there," exclaimed the latter, as Frank approached, "what's the
matter with you?"

Frank related the whole circumstance, and Simpson could scarcely restrain
his indignation.

"That bo'son's mate ought to be mast-headed for a whole week," he
exclaimed. "But I'll square yards with him some day. I'm sorry you have
got into this scrape, but it can't be helped. I've seen many a good
fellow, in my time, in the same fix. Now you must walk around the ship,
and if you see any one spill the least drop of water, or any thing else,
on deck, rush up and give him the swab. There are a good many landlubbers
on board, who don't know the rules, and you won't have any trouble in
catching them. Always be careful to keep the swab behind you, out of
sight."

Frank was a good deal mortified at being the victim of this novel mode of
punishment; but he consoled himself with the thought that he would soon
learn his duty, and be enabled to avoid all such scrapes. He walked about
the vessel for an hour, trailing the swab along the deck behind him; but
it seemed as though every one was particularly careful.

Meanwhile Archie, who had learned the particulars of the case from
Simpson, was acting as a sort of scout, hoping to be of some assistance to
his cousin. But he looked and waited in vain for some one to violate the
rule, and finally he resolved to make use of a little strategy in
releasing Frank.

Discovering a man coming out of the galley with a pail of water, Archie
walked rapidly down the deck, and jostled him with sufficient force to
empty half the contents of his pail on the deck. Archie did not, of
course, stop to apologize, but hurried on, and before the man could look
up to see who had caused the mischief, he had disappeared Frank, who had
been watching his cousin's motions, immediately stepped up and dropped the
swab before the man, and walked away, laughing in his sleeve, when he
thought how cleverly his release had been accomplished.

When the hour of bedtime arrived, the boys were instructed how to get into
their hammocks, and laughed at for tumbling out on the opposite side. But,
after a few attempts, they succeeded in gaining the center of their
suspended beds, and were soon in a sound sleep.



CHAPTER III.

Squaring the Yards.


By degrees the boys became accustomed to their new situation, and began to
feel much more contented. The only thing that troubled them was the food
they received. It consisted, for the most part, of salt pork and beef, and
hard crackers, with now and then a little flour and dried apples. Simpson,
who had been in the navy nearly all his life, and had become well
acquainted with its rules and regulations, asserted that they did not
receive half their allowance, and promised that, if he could detect the
paymaster's steward in the act of cheating them, he would pay him back in
his own coin. Now Blinks, for that was the steward's name, was a notorious
cheat; he never gave the men their full rations. On the contrary, he often
boasted that he cleared not less than a hundred pounds of provisions every
day. He was the caterer of the steerage mess, and many a pound of flour
and apples, which should have been given to the men, found its way to his
table, in the shape of pies and puddings. Blinks always rose early, and as
soon as he was dressed, the steerage steward, every morning, brought to
his room a lunch, consisting of coffee and apple-pie. He was very fond of
pies, and had several made every day. Every time the men passed the
galley, they saw long rows of them set out to cool. Many a midnight
plundering expedition had been planned against the galley, but without
success. The door and windows were securely fastened at sundown, and all
attempts to effect an entrance were unavailing. It was also useless to
attempt to bribe the cook, for Blinks, who was a strict accountant, always
knew how many pies were made every day, and if any of them were missing,
the cook was sure to suffer. One evening, while Frank and Simpson were
engaged in washing up the supper-dishes, the latter inquired:

"Would you like one of those pies we saw in the galley to-day?"

"Yes," answered Frank; "they looked very tempting."

"Well," said Simpson, lowering his voice to a whisper, "we'll have some of
them to-night."

"How will we get them?" inquired Frank.

"Why, we'll steal them. We can't beg or buy them. Besides, the stuff they
are made of rightfully belongs to us. I don't care a snap for the pies, but
I don't want to see that rascally steward growing fat off our grub."

"I'm in for it," answered Frank, who had long wanted an opportunity to
revenge himself on Blinks.

"Will that cousin of yours lend us a hand?" inquired Simpson.

"Yes, without any coaxing. He does not like the steward any better than I
do. But I'd like to know how we are going to work to get at the pies? The
doors and windows are all fastened."

"We will pry up the galley, so that one of us can crawl under it. I've
put a handspike where I can find it in a moment. We shall have no trouble
at all."

As soon as the dishes were washed and stowed away in the mess-chest, Frank
went to find his cousin, who was always ready for any mischief of that
kind, and readily agreed to the proposal. When bedtime came, the three
slung their hammocks together, and, to all appearances, were soon fast
asleep. At nine o'clock the ship's corporal put out all the berth-deck
lights, which left the place shrouded in darkness. As soon as he had gone
forward again, Simpson raised himself on his elbow, and whispered:

"Turn out, lads. Now's our time."

The boys crept noiselessly out of their hammocks, and followed the sailor,
who led the way directly to the galley, which was, in fact, a small house,
about ten feet square, built on the deck, to which it was insecurely
fastened. Simpson found his handspike without any difficulty, and placing
one end of it under the galley, easily raised it from the deck, while
Archie threw himself on his hands and knees, and crawled in under it. It
was as dark as pitch inside the galley, but he knew exactly where the pies
were kept, and had no difficulty in finding them. He handed three of them
to his cousin, and then crawled out again, and the galley was lowered to
its place. After stowing the pies safely away in their mess-chest, they
again sought their hammocks. The next morning, when the steward entered
the galley to prepare the usual lunch for Blinks, he was surprised, and a
good deal terrified, to find that some of the pies were missing. He
immediately went on deck, and reported it to Blinks, who furiously asked:

"Where have they gone to, you rascal?"

"I don't know, sir, I'm sure," answered the steward, while visions of
double-irons danced before his eyes. "There were eight pies in the galley
when I locked it up last night."

"I don't believe it, you scoundrel. You sold the pies, and think that, by
telling me they are missing, you can make me believe that they were
stolen."

"I have never done any thing of the kind since I have been your steward,
Mr. Blinks," said the man, with some spirit. "I have always been as
careful of your interests as I would be of my own. Did you ever detect me
in a mean or a dishonest act?"

"No; but I have often caught the cook stealing things. I'll report you to
the executive officer, and have you punished. Go below."

The man sullenly withdrew, and Blinks hurried to the executive officer's
room and reported the affair.

"Are you sure the steward stole the pies, Mr. Blinks?" inquired the
officer; "perhaps some one broke into the galley. It would be well for you
to go down and see, before punishing the steward."

Blinks hurried below, and commenced a thorough examination of the locks
and window-fastenings, but all to no purpose; and he was still more
surprised when the steward affirmed that he had found all the doors and
windows closed, just as he had left them. This was also reported to the
executive officer, who advised Blinks to say nothing about the affair, but
to set a watch over the galley, and, if possible, discover the offender.

Blinks resolved to act upon this suggestion; and, the following evening,
he posted a sentry over lite galley, with instructions to arrest any one
who might be discovered prowling around. After fastening the doors and
windows himself, he put the keys in his pocket and walked away.

At half-past nine o'clock our young sailors and Simpson were again on
hand. After a careful reconnoissance, the sentry was discovered fast
asleep at his post. They immediately set to work as before--the galley was
raised up, and three more pies secured. It was all done in a moment, and
the sentinel was not awakened; and as they retreated to their hammocks,
they could scarcely refrain from laughing outright, when they thought how
nicely the trick was performed.

The next morning Blinks opened the galley at an early hour, and was
surprised and enraged to find that some of his pies were again missing. He
carefully examined every nook and corner of the galley, but failed to
discover a place where any one could effect an entrance.

For four nights more, in succession, Frank and his accomplices visited the
galley, each time taking pies enough to last them a whole day; and Blinks,
in the mean time, was making unavailing efforts to discover the offenders.
On the fifth night, Archie, who was the one that always went into the
galley, was much longer than usual in finding the pies. At length he
whispered,

"I say, Simpson!"

"Ay, ay, my hearty; what is it?"

"I can't find but one pie."

"You can't, hey?" said Simpson; "I smell a rat. Bring the pie out here."

Archie accordingly handed it out, saying, as he did so--

"I'm hungry as blazes; I believe I'll eat a piece of that pie to-night."

"Not in a hurry," said Simpson, as they began to crawl back toward their
hammocks; "not in a hurry; I've been in such scrapes as this before, and
can't be fooled easy."

"What do you mean?" inquired Frank.

"Why, I mean that this pie was made on purpose for us," said Simpson; "it
has got some kind of medicine in it that will make a fellow sick. If we
should eat it, they would not be long in finding out who stole the pies."

"I'll tell you what to do with it," said Frank, suddenly; "let's give it
to Jenkins, the boatswain's mate; he's a mean fellow, and I shouldn't be
sorry to see him sick.'

"That's just what I was going to do with it," said Simpson. "Now, you go
back to your hammocks, and I'll carry him the pie."

"As Simpson had taken particular notice of the place where Jenkins was in
the habit of slinging his hammock, he had no difficulty whatever in
finding it.

"I say, shipmate," he whispered, shaking the mate by the shoulder.

"What do you want?" he growled.

"Wake up," said Simpson; "I've got a nice pie for you; do you want it?"

"Of course I do," answered the mate, taking it from Simpson's hand. "But
who are you?" he inquired, for it was so dark that he could not have
recognized the features of his most intimate friend.

"I'm Jack Smith," answered Simpson; "but I can't stop to talk with you,
for some one may discover me;" and before Jenkins could detain him, he had
slipped off quietly in the darkness.

It was as Simpson had said--the pie had made "on purpose for them." When
Blinks saw that it was impossible to discover the guilty party, he ordered
his steward to make a nice large pie, into which he put two doses of
jalap. It was his intention to make the offender sick; and he told the
doctor what he had done, and requested him to keep an eye on all who came
to him for medicine.

The next morning Jenkins was not heard blowing his whistle, but was seen
moving slowly about the ship, with a pale, woe-begone countenance; and as
soon as the doctor appeared, he made application to go on the "sick-list."

"What's the matter with you?" inquired the doctor.

Jenkins then explained how he had been suddenly taken very ill during the
night, and was afraid he was going to die. The doctor, who knew in a
moment that it was the effect of the medicine contained in the pie,
exclaimed:

"Why, you're just the man Mr. Blinks has been wanting to see for the last
week. Orderly, ask Mr. Blinks if he will have the kindness to come here a
moment."

The orderly disappeared, and Jenkins stood, looking the very picture of
despair, too sick to know or care what was going on.

"Mr. Blinks, I've found your man," said the doctor, when the paymaster's
steward made his appearance.

"Well, my fine fellow," said Blinks, turning to the mate, and smiling
grimly, "how do you feel by this time? Very pleasant morning, isn't it! I
knew I'd catch you, you scoundrel," he exclaimed, suddenly changing his
tune; "I'll teach you to steal my pies!"

"I--I--don't know what you mean, sir!" said the mate, in surprise.

"Don't talk to me, you villain," said Blinks savagely; "didn't you eat a
pie last night?"

"Yes, sir," answered Jenkins, hesitatingly, "but"--

"I knew you did, you rascal."

"But the pie was given to me, sir," said the mate.

"Oh, that story won't do at all. I'll fix you. Go below."

In a short, time the mate, who was so weak that he was scarcely able to
stand alone, was summoned before the captain, who gave him a severe
reprimand, and disrated him. He came down on deck, looking very forlorn
indeed; and as he passed by Simpson, who, with Frank and Archie, was
standing in the starboard gangway, the former exclaimed:

"That's what I call squaring the yards; I'm even with him now."

As soon as Jenkins had recovered from the effects of the physic, he began
to make efforts to find Jack Smith. One day he approached Simpson who was
seated on a coil of rope, spinning one of his forecastle yarns to Frank
and Archie, and said:

"Shipmate, do you know any one aboard here named Jack Smith?"

"No," answered Simpson, with the utmost gravity, "I don't know any one who
goes by that name."

"Well, there _is_ a chap here by that name," said Jenkins, "and I wish
I could find him. He got me into a bad scrape."

But, it is needless to say, he never found Jack Smith.



CHAPTER IV.

A Midnight Alarm.


On the afternoon of the following day, as Frank and his cousin were
walking up and down the deck, talking over old times, Simpson hurriedly
approached them, exclaiming,

"Boys, do you want to leave this ship?"

"Yes," answered Frank; "we're tired of staying here."

"Well, it's all right, then. I volunteered to go, and I had both your
names put down. The executive officer says if you want to go, just get
your donnage and go for'ard."

"Where are we to go?" inquired Archie.

"On board of the Illinois," answered Simpson. "She is a magazine-ship, and
is lying half-way between here and Mound City. No work at all to do, I'm
going.'

"Then we'll go, of course," said Frank; "for we don't want to lose you."

They immediately got down their hammocks and bags, and went forward, where
they found the executive officer standing on the forecastle, waiting for
them.

"Well, lads, do you volunteer to go on the Illinois?" he asked.

"Yes, sir."

"Jump down into that dingy, then," said the officer, pointing to a small
boat that lay alongside.

The boys did as they were ordered, and just as they had finished storing
away their bags and hammocks under the thwarts, a man dressed in the
uniform of a sailor sprang down into the boat, exclaiming:

"Man your oars, lads, and shove off--you've a long pull before you."

Archie took one of the oars, Frank the other; Simpson stowed himself away
in the bow of the boat, and the sailor took his seat at the helm.

The cousins were both good oarsmen, and they made the little boat dance
over the water like a duck. It was full five miles to the place where the
Illinois lay, and they soon found that it was indeed "a long, hard pull."
The current was very strong, and it reminded the boys of many a tough
struggle they had had around the head of Strawberry Island, in the
Kennebec River.

In about two hours they reached the Illinois, and, as they sprang on
board, their baggage was seized by willing hands, and carried to the
cabin, which had been stripped of nearly all its furniture, and presented,
altogether, a desolate appearance. After a few moments' conversation with
one of their new messmates, they learned that there were only fifteen men
on board the vessel, including one sergeant and two corporals. These were
the only officers; and they were, in fact, no officers at all, for they
were all rated, on the books of the receiving-ship, as "landsmen."

They soon discovered that there was no discipline among the crew--there
could not be under the circumstances. Each stood a two-hour watch, at
night, and assisted in pumping out the ship, morning and evening. With the
exception of these duties, there was no work to be done on board the
vessel. The remainder of the day was spent as suited them best. Some
passed the time in hunting and nailing, some in reading, and some lounged
about the decks, from morning until night.

Frank and Archie were very much pleased with their new situation. There
was no boatswain's mate to trouble them, and they were in no danger of
rendering themselves liable to punishment for some unintentional offense.

After stowing away their bags and hammocks, they amused themselves in
strolling about the boat, until a neat-looking little sailor stepped up,
and informed them that supper was ready. They followed him into the cabin,
and took their seats at the table, with the rest, and one of the sailors,
who went by the name of Woods, exclaimed:

"Now, boys, pitch in, help yourselves, for if you don't, you won't be
helped at all. Every one that comes here has to learn to take care of
himself."

"You will not find us at all bashful," answered Frank, and he began
helping himself most bountifully to every thing on the table.

It did not take them long to become acquainted, and the boys found that
their new shipmates were much better educated than the majority of the
sailors they had met. They were a good-natured, jovial set of fellows, and
the meal-hour passed away quickly and pleasantly.

Immediately after supper the corporal ordered all hands below to pump out
the ship. In a quarter of an hour this was accomplished, and as they were
ascending to the boiler-deck. Woods remarked:

"I wish I was back in Wisconsin again for a little while."

"Are you tired of the navy?" inquired Frank.

"Oh, no!" answered Woods; "but I should like to see my friends again, and
try my hand at quail-shooting."

"Are you fond of hunting?"

"Yes, indeed; I spend all my spare time in the woods, when I am at home."

This was the very man, of all others, that Frank would have chosen for a
companion, and he informed Woods that he also was very fond of rural
sports. They seated themselves on the boiler door railing, and each
related some of his hunting and fishing adventures, and, finally, Woods
proposed that they should go over the river into Kentucky, on the
following morning, on a squirrel hunt. Frank, of course, readily agreed to
this. He immediately started in search of his cousin and Simpson, and
informed them of the proposed excursion. When he returned to the place
where he had left Woods, he found him with a musket on his shoulder, and a
cartridge-box buckled about his waist, pacing up and down the deck.

"I'm on watch, you see," he said, as Frank came up, "You will go on at
midnight; so you had better go and turn in. If we go hunting to-morrow, we
must start by four o'clock at least, for we have a good way to walk before
we reach the hunting-ground. Good night." And Woods, settling his musket
more firmly on his shoulder, continued his beat, while Frank sought his
hammock.

About midnight he was awakened by a hand laid on his shoulder, when,
starting up, he found one of the corporals standing beside his hammock
holding a lantern in his hand.

"Is your name Nelson?" he inquired.

Frank answered in the affirmative, and the corporal continued:

"Roll out, then, for it is time for you to go on watch. But be careful
when you come out, or you'll be shot."

"Shot!" exclaimed Frank. "Who'll shoot me? Are there any rebels around
here?"

"Yes, plenty of them. There are some out on the bank now. I was walking
with Woods, when I happened to look up, and saw two men, with their
muskets pointed straight at us; but we got out ofthe way before they had
time to shoot. Hurry up, now, but don't expose yourself," and the corporal
hurried aft, hiding his lantern under his coat of the went.

What Frank's feelings were, we will not attempt to say. He was not a
coward, for we once saw him alone in the forest, standing face to face
with a wounded wild-cat, with no weapon in his hands but an ax; but
fighting a wild-cat and a rebel sharp-shooter were two widely different
things. He had never heard the whistle of a hostile bullet, nor had he
ever seen a rebel; and it is not to be wondered at, if his feelings were
not of the most enviable nature. But he was not one to shrink from his
duty because it was dangerous; and he drew on his clothes as quickly as
possible, and seizing a musket and cartridge-box that stood in a rack
close by the cabin door, he hurried aft, where he found Woods concealed
behind the port wheel-house, and the corporal behind a chicken-coop. They
both held their guns in readiness, and were peering into the woods, as if
trying to pierce the thick darkness that enshrouded them. The Illinois was
tied up close to the bank, which, as the water in the river was low, was
about thirty feet in hight; and as the moon was shining very brightly, a
person hidden in the bushes could distinctly see every thing on deck.

"Keep close there," said Woods, as Frank came up. "The corporal says he
saw some guerrillas on the bank."

Frank accordingly concealed himself behind a stanchion, and his hand
trembled considerably as he cocked his musket and brought it to his
shoulder. They remained in this position for nearly a quarter of an hour,
when, suddenly, something stirred in the bushes.

"There they are," whispered the corporal, drawing himself entirely out of
sight, behind the chicken-coop. "Look out, they'll shoot in a moment."

Frank kept a close watch on the bushes, and presently discovered a white
object moving about among them.

"I see something, boys," he said; "but it don't look to me like a man."

"Yes, it is a man," exclaimed the corporal, excitedly. "Shoot him."

In obedience to the order, Frank raised his gun to his shoulder, and an
ounce ball and a couple of buckshot went crashing through the bushes. The
commotion increased for a moment, and then ceased, and something that
sounded very much like a groan issued from the woods.

"By gracious, you hit one of them," exclaimed the corporal. "That was a
good shot. We'll teach these rebs that it isn't healthy to go prowling
about here at night."

Frank hastily reloaded his musket, and they waited, impatiently, for
nearly an hour, for the other guerrilla to show himself, but the woods
remained as silent as death.

"I guess that shot finished them," said the corporal; "so I will go and
turn in. Keep a good look-out," he added, turning to Frank, "and don't
expose yourself too much."

Woods and the corporal then went into the cabin, and Frank was left to
himself. A feeling of loneliness he had never before experienced came over
him. At first he determined to go and call his cousin to come and stand
watch with him, so that he would have some one to talk with; but, on
second thought, he remembered that Archie was to come on watch at two
o'clock, and probably would not like to be disturbed. Besides, if he
called him, it would look as though he was a coward, and afraid to stand
his watch alone; so he gave up the idea, and remained in his place of
concealment. Once he thought he discovered the sheen of a musket among the
bushes; but it was only his imagination, and after waiting half an hour
without hearing any thing suspicious, he shouldered his gun, and commenced
pacing the deck, in full view of the woods. But he was not molested, and
when two o'clock came he saw a figure steal cautiously out of the cabin,
and creep along toward him, under cover of the wheel-house. As he
approached nearer, Frank recognized his cousin.

"Where are the rebs?" inquired the latter.

"The corporal said he saw two of them out there in the woods," answered
Frank, pointing to a thick clump of bushes that stood on the edge of the
bank; "and there was _something_ out there, and I shot at it. But I've been
on deck here, in plain sight, for the last hour, and haven't seen any
thing."

"I hope there are no rebs in there," said Archie; "but I'll keep dark for
awhile. I shipped to fight, but I don't like the idea of having a fellow
send a bullet into me when I can't see him," and he began to settle
himself into a comfortable position behind the chicken-coop.

"I don't think there is any danger," said Frank; "but perhaps it is well
to be careful at first. Be sure and call us when you come off watch," and
he shouldered his rifle and walked leisurely into the cabin.



CHAPTER V.

A Discomfited Rebel.


Archie stood his watch without seeing or hearing any thing of the rebels,
and when he was relieved, at four o'clock, he aroused Simpson, Woods, and
his cousin, and after they had tied up their hammocks, and stowed them
away in the nettings, Woods went to the sergeant's room to obtain his
consent to their proposed excursion. This was easily accomplished, and
while they were filling their pockets with musket-cartridges, Frank
proposed that they should go out and see what it was that had occasioned
the alarm during the night; so they leaned their muskets up in one corner
of the cabin, and ran out on the bank, and there, weltering in his blood,
lay, not a rebel, but a white mule. He it was that, while feeding about in
the woods, had occasioned the disturbance in the bushes, and Frank's shot
had done its work. The two men with muskets had existence only in the
corporal's imagination. Simpson burst into a loud laugh.

"A nice set of fellows you are," he exclaimed. "I shouldn't want you
stationed at my gun in action."

"Why not?" inquired Frank.

"Why, because you can't tell the difference between a mule and a secesh."

Frank made no reply to this, for, although he was very much relieved to
find that it was a mule, and not a man, that he had killed, he was a good
deal mortified at first, for he expected to be made the laughing-stock of
his companions. But he consoled himself with the thought that he was not
to blame. The corporal had said that he had seen guerrillas in the woods,
and he had, as in duty bound, done his best to drive them away; besides,
he would not have fired his gun had he not been ordered to do so.

"It's no matter," said Simpson, who noticed that Frank looked a little
crest-fallen; "It was the corporal's fault."

"I know it," said Frank. "But that's poor consolation. I killed the mule,
and shall probably be laughed at for it."

"What's the odds?" asked Simpson. "I've seen many a better man than you
laughed at. But let us be going, for we have a long way to walk."

They accordingly retraced their steps to the vessel, and Woods awoke one
of the corporals, who had volunteered to row them over into Kentucky. The
dingy, which was kept fastened to the stern of the Illinois, was hauled
alongside, and, in a few moments, they reached the opposite shore. Our
four hunters sprang out, and, bidding the corporal good-by, shouldered
their muskets, and disappeared in the forest. Woods, who was well
acquainted with the "lay of the land," led the way. Just at sunrise they
reached a ridge covered with hickory and pecan-trees.

"Here we are," he exclaimed, as he leaned on his gun, and wiped his
forehead with his coat-sleeve. "There are plenty of squirrels around here.
But I'm hungry; we have plenty of time to eat some breakfast before we
begin."

They seated themselves under the branches of some small hickories, and
Simpson produced from a basket some salt pork, hard crackers, and a bottle
of cold coffee. Their long walk had given them good appetites, and the
meal, homely as it was, was eaten with a relish. After they had rested a
few moments, they started off in different directions, to commence the
hunt. As Frank walked slowly along, with his gun on his shoulder, he could
not help thinking of the many times he had been on such excursions about
his native village. What a change a year had made! The "Boys of Lawrence"
were no longer amateur sportsmen. They were scattered all over the
country, engaged in the work of sustaining the integrity of the best
government on earth. Would they ever all meet again? It was not at all
likely. Perhaps some had already been offered up on the altar of their
country; and if he should ever live to return home, there would be some
familiar faces missing. In short, Frank was homesick. Finding himself once
more in his favorite element had made him think of old times. He wandered
slowly along, recalling many a fishing frolic and boat-race he had engaged
in, until a loud chatter above his head roused him from his reverie. He
looked up just in time to see a large squirrel striving to hide himself
among the leaves on a tree that stood close by. Frank's gun was at his
shoulder in a moment, and taking a quick aim at the squirrel, he pulled
the trigger. But the old Springfield musket was not intended for fine
shooting; for, though the shot cut the leaves all around, the squirrel
escaped unhurt, and, running up to the topmost branch, again concealed
himself. While Frank was reloading, Archie came up, and stood leaning on
his gun, with rather a dejected air. "What's the matter with you?"
inquired Frank.

"I wish I was down to the river," answered Archie.

"What would you do there? go fishing?"

"No, but I'd sink this musket so deep that no one would ever find it
again. It don't shoot worth a row of pins. If I was standing twenty feet
from the side of a barn, I couldn't hit it, I wish I had my shot-gun
here."

"So do I," answered Frank; "I would very soon bring down that squirrel.
I'm going to try him again;" and going around to the side of the tree
where the squirrel had taken refuge, he fired again, but with no better
success. The squirrel, not in the least injured, appeared amid a shower of
leaves, and speedily found a new hiding-place.

"It's no use, I tell you," said Archie; "you can't hit any thing with that
musket."

"It does look a little that way. But I must have that squirrel, if I have
to shoot all day. Haven't you got a load in your gun?"

"Yes; but I might as well have none. I can kill as many squirrels by
throwing the musket at them, as I can by shooting at them."

"Never mind, fire away--the ammunition doesn't cost us any thing."

"I know it; but another thing, this musket kicks like blazes. I had as
soon stand before it, as behind it. But I'll try him;" and Archie raised
his gun and blazed away. This time there was no mistake; the squirrel was
torn almost to pieces by the ball; and when the smoke cleared away, Frank
saw his cousin sitting on the ground, holding both hands to his nose,
which was bleeding profusely.

"You've killed the squirrel," he said.

"Yes," answered Archie; "but I hurt myself as much as I did him."

Frank was a good deal amused, and could scarcely refrain from laughing at
his cousin's misfortune. He tried to keep on a sober face, but the corners
of his mouth would draw themselves out into a smile, in spite of himself.
Archie noticed this, and exclaimed:

"Oh, it's a good joke, no doubt."

"If you would hold your gun firmly against your shoulder," said Frank, "it
wouldn't hurt half so bad. But hadn't we better go on?"

Archie raised himself slowly from the ground, and they moved off through
the woods. The squirrels were very plenty; but it required two or three,
and, sometimes, as many as half a dozen shots, to bring one down.

At length, after securing four squirrels, their shoulders became so lame
that they could scarcely raise their guns; so they concluded to give up
shooting, and start in search of Woods and Simpson, who had gone off
together. About noon they found them, sitting on the fence that ran
between the woods and a road. Simpson had three squirrels in his hand.

"We are waiting for you," he said, as Frank and Archie came up; "it's
about time to start for the boat."

"I'm hungry," said Frank; "why can't we go down to that house and hire
some one to cook our squirrels for us?"

"That's a good idea," said Woods; "come along;" and he sprang off the
fence, and led the way toward the house spoken of by Frank, which stood
about a quarter of a mile down the road, toward the river.

As they opened the gate that led into the yard, they noticed that a man,
who sat on the porch in front of the house, regarded them with a savage
scowl on his face.

"How cross that man looks!" said Archie, who, with his cousin, was a
little in advance of the others; "maybe he's a reb."

"How do you do, sir?" inquired Frank, as he approached the place where the
man was sitting.

"What do yees want here?" he growled, in reply.

"We came here to see if we couldn't hire some one to cook a good dinner
for us," answered Frank.

"No, ye can't," answered the man, gruffly; "get out o' here. I never did
nothin' for a Yank, an' I never will. I'd like to see yer all drove from
the country. Get out o' here, I tell yer," he shouted, seeing that the
sailors did not move, "or I'll let my dogs loose on yer!"

"Why, I really believe he is a reb," said Archie; "he's the first one I
ever saw. He looks just like any body else, don't he, boys?"

"If yees don't travel mighty sudden, I'll make a scatterin' among yer,"
said the man, between his clenched teeth; "I'll be dog-gone if I don't
shoot some o' yer;" and he reached for a long double-barrel shot-gun that
stood behind his chair.

"Avast, there, you old landlubber," exclaimed Simpson; "just drop that
shootin' iron, will you. We're four to your one, and you don't suppose that
we are going to stand still and be shot down, like turkeys on Thanksgivin'
morning, do you? No, sir, that would be like the handle of a jug, all on
one side. Shootin' is a game two can play at, you know. Come, put that
we'pon down;" and Simpson held his musket in the hollow of his arm, and
handled the lock in a very significant manner.

The man saw that the sailors were not to be intimidated, and not liking
the way Simpson eyed him, he leaned his gun up in the corner again, and
muttered something about Yankee mudsills and Abolitionists.

"Just clap a stopper on that jaw of yours, will you," said Simpson; "or,
shiver my timbers, if we don't try man-o'-war punishment on you. Now,
Frank," he continued, "you just jump up there, and shoot off the old
rascal's gun; and then keep an eye on him, and don't let him get out of
his chair; and the rest of us will look around and see what we can find in
the way of grub."

Frank sprang up the steps that led on to the porch, and fired both barrels
of the gun into the air, and then, drawing a chair to the other end of the
porch, coolly seated himself, and deposited his feet on the railing; while
the others went into the house, where they secured a pail of fresh milk
and a loaf of bread. From the house they went into the wood-shed, where
they found a quantity of sweet potatoes. They then returned to the place
where they had left Frank.

"Come on, now," said Woods; "we'll have a tip-top dinner, in spite of the
old secesh.

"Hold on," said Frank; "where are you going? I move we cook and eat our
dinner here. There's a stove in the house, and every thing handy."

The man was accordingly invited into his own house by the boys, and
requested to take a seat, and make himself perfectly at home, but to be
careful and not go out of doors. They deposited their muskets in one
corner of the room; and while Archie started a fire in the store, Frank
dressed the squirrels, and washed some of the sweet potatoes, and placed
them in the oven to bake. Woods drew the table out into the middle of the
room; and Simpson, after a diligent search, found the cupboard, and
commenced bringing out the dishes Frank superintended the cooking; and, in
half an hour, a splendid dinner was smoking on the table. When the meal
was finished, they shouldered their muskets, and Simpson said to the man:

"Now, sir, we're very much obliged to you for your kindness; but, before
we go, we want to give you a bit of advice. If you ever see any more
Yankee sailors out this way, don't try to bully them by talking treason to
them. If you do, just as likely as not you'll get hold of some who won't
treat you as well as we have. They might go to work and clean out your
shanty. Good day, sir;" and Simpson led the way toward the boat.



CHAPTER VI.

Frank's First Exploit.


During the three months following that Frank and Archie were attached to
the Illinois, they met with no adventure worthy of notice. They passed
nearly every day in the woods, and, after considerable practice, had
become splendid shots with their muskets; and as game was abundant, their
table was kept well supplied.

At length, the new magazine-boat, which had for some time been building at
Cairo, was towed alongside the Illinois, and a detachment of men from the
receiving-ship were set to work to transfer the ammunition. The crew of
the Illinois were not at all pleased with this, for they knew that the
easy life they had been leading was soon to be brought to an end.

When the ammunition had all been removed into the new boat, the steamer
Champion came alongside, and the Illinois was towed down to Columbus, where
she was to undergo repairs, and her crew was transferred to the
receiving-ship again.

The day after they arrived on board, while Frank and his cousin were
seated on a coil of rope, as usual, talking over old times, and wondering
how George and Harry Butler liked the army, and why they had not written,
the boatswain's mate came along, and called out, in a loud voice:

"Archie Winters!"

"Here I am," said Archie.

"Well, go up on deck," said the mate; "the captain wants to see you."

"The captain wants to see me!" repeated Archie, in surprise.

"Yes; and you had better bear a hand, too, for the captain isn't the man
to wait long when he sends after any one."

Archie accordingly went on deck, trying all the while to think what he had
done that was wrong, and expecting a good blowing up for some
unintentional offense. Perhaps the captain had by some means learned who
it was that had made the descent on the cook's galley, and had called him
up for the purpose of punishing him.

Finding the captain on deck, talking with the executive officer, he very
politely remained out of hearing, holding his hat in his hand, and waited
for a chance to speak to him. At length the captain inquired:

"Hasn't Winters come up yet?"

"Yes, sir," answered Archie, stepping up with his best salute.

"Is this your writing?" inquired the captain, holding out to Archie a
letter addressed, in a splendid business hand, to James Winters, Esq.,
Boston.

"Yes, sir," answered Archie; "that's a letter I wrote to my father."

"Well," continued the captain, "I have got a splendid position for you, as
second clerk in the fleet paymaster's office. Would you like to take it?"

"Yes, sir," answered Archie; "but--but"--

"But what?" inquired the captain.

"I don't like to be separated from my cousin. We shipped together, and I
should like to remain with him as long as possible."

"Oh, as to that," said the captain, "you can't expect to be together long;
there is no certainty that you will be ordered to the same ship. You might
as well separate one time as another. I think you had better accept this
position."

"I should like to speak with my cousin before I decide, sir."

"Very well; look alive, and don't keep me waiting."

Archie touched his hat, and hurried below.

"What did he want with you?" inquired Frank, who was sitting with Simpson
on their mess-chest.

Archie told his story, and ended by saying:

"I don't believe I'll take it; for I don't want to leave you."

"You're foolish," said Simpson; for, as the captain said, you can't expect
to remain together a great while. To-morrow one of you may be ordered to a
vessel in the Cumberland River, and the other to the lower fleet. Better
take it; Frank can take care of himself."

"Yes" said Frank, "I should certainly take it, if I were in your place.
You'll be an officer then, you know."

"Yes, I shall be an officer," said Archie, contemptuously; "and if I meet
one of you anywhere, I mustn't associate with you at all. No sir; I'll go
and tell the captain I can't take it."

"But, hold on a minute," said Frank, as his cousin was about to move away;
"perhaps you may find that there is another good place, and then you can
recommend me."

"That's so," said Archie; "I did not think of that; I believe I'll take
it;" and he hurried on deck again.

"Well, what conclusion have you come to?" inquired the captain. "Will you
take it?"

"Yes, sir, with many thanks for your kindness."

"What is your cousin's name?"

Archie told him, and the captain continued:

"I'll keep an eye open for him. I don't forget that I was young once
myself; and I know that a sailor's life is rather tough for one who is not
accustomed to it; and when I find a deserving young man, I like to help
him along. Mr. Tyler," he continued, turning to the officer of the deck;
"please send this young man over to the fleet paymaster's office in the
first boat that leaves the ship. You need not take your donnage," he said,
turning to Archie again; "if you suit the paymaster, you can come over for
it at any time."

"Very good, sir," answered Archie; and he went below again.

When the ten o'clock boat was called away, Archie, in obedience to the
captain's order, was sent over to the paymaster's office; and Frank was
left alone. He watched the boat until it reached the landing, and he saw
his cousin spring out. He then walked aft, and seated himself on the
mess-chest, and commenced writing a letter to his mother. While he was
thus engaged, he heard the order passed, in a loud voice: "All you men
that belonged to the Illinois, muster on the forecastle with your bags and
hammocks."

As Frank hastened to obey the order, he met Simpson, who exclaimed:

"We're off again, my hearty; and I'm glad of it. I don't like to lay
around here."

"Where are we going?" inquired Frank.

"I don't know for certain; but I suspect we are to be the crew of the
store-ship Milwaukee, now lying alongside the wharf-boat."

Simpson's surmise proved to be correct. The entire crew of the Illinois,
with the exception of Archie, was mustered around the capstan; and after
answering to their names, they were crowded into a cutter that lay
alongside, and, in a few moments, were landed on board the Milwaukee.

She had steam up; her stores were on board, and she was all ready to sail;
and the crew had scarcely time to stow away their bags and hammocks, when
the order was passed: "All hands stand by to get ship under way."

The gang-planks were quickly hauled in; the line with which she was made
fast to the wharf-boat was cast off, and the Milwaukee was soon steaming
down the river, and Cairo was rapidly receding from view.

The Milwaukee, which was now dignified by the name of "store-ship," was an
old river packet. She was loaded with clothing, provisions, and small
stores, with which she was to supply the fleet. It was not, of course,
intended that she should go into action; but, in order that she might be
able to defend herself against the guerrillas, which infested the river
between Cairo and Helena, she mounted a twelve-pound howitzer on her
boiler-deck, and was well supplied with muskets. Her destination was
Helena.

They reached that place without any adventure, and, after supplying the
fleet with stores, started to return to Cairo. One pleasant afternoon, as
they were passing through Cypress Bend, the officer of the deck discovered
a man standing on the bank, waving a flag of truce. A bale of cotton lay
near him; and the man, as soon as he found that he had attracted their
attention, pointed to the cotton, and signified, by signs, that he wished
it carried up the river.

The Milwaukee was immediately turned toward the shore, and as soon as they
arrived within speaking distance, the captain called out:

"What do you want?"

"I would like to have you take this cotton to Cairo for me," answered the
man.

"Are you a loyal citizen?" asked the captain.

"Yes, sir; and here is a permit from Admiral Porter to ship my cotton;"
and, as the man spoke, he held up a letter to the view of the captain.

"Bring her into the bank, Mr. Smith," said the captain, addressing the
pilot; "and, Mr. O'Brien," he continued, in a lower tone, turning to an
officer who stood near, "go down and stand by that howitzer. Perhaps there
is no treachery intended, but it is well to be on the safe side."

As soon as the Milwaukee touched the bank, Frank and Simpson, with two
others, sprang ashore with a line, and, after making it fast to a tree,
returned on board, and commenced pushing out a plank, so that the cotton
could be easily rolled on, when, suddenly, several men rose from behind
the levee, and the quick discharge of their rifles sent the bullets around
those standing on the forecastle, like hailstones; and Simpson, who was
standing directly in front of Frank, uttered a sharp cry of pain, and sank
heavily to the deck. The next moment the guerrillas, with loud yells,
sprang down the bank in a body, intending to board the boat and capture
her. But they had not taken her so much by surprise as they had imagined,
for a shell from the howitzer exploded in their very midst, and one of the
rebels was killed, and three disabled. The others turned and hastily
retreated behind the levee. Frank took advantage of this, and lifting the
insensible form of his friend, retreated under cover, and laid him on a
mattress behind a pile of coal, where he would be safe from the bullets of
the guerrillas, which now began to come through the sides of the boat in
every direction.

This was the first time Frank had ever been under fire, and he was
thoroughly frightened; but he knew that it was his duty to resist the
rebels, and to do them as much damage as possible; so, instead of looking
round for a safe place to hide, his first impulse was to run up on deck
after a gun. This he knew was a dangerous undertaking, for the vessel lay
close to the bank, the top of which was on a level with the boiler-deck;
and behind the levee, scarcely half a dozen rods distant, were the
guerrillas, who were ready to shoot the first man that appeared.

Nevertheless, Frank resolved to make the attempt, for he wanted to take
revenge on them for shooting Simpson. But, just as he was about to start
out, he heard the captain shout down through the trumpet which ran from
the pilot-house to the engine-room:

"Back her, strong! We must get away from the bank or they will pick us all
off."

In obedience to the order, the engineers let on the steam, and a heavy
puffing told Frank that the powerful engines were doing their utmost to
break the line which held them to the bank. Here was another thing that
Frank knew he ought to do; he knew that he ought to cut that line, for it
would be an impossibility to break it. There was an ax handy, and a sudden
rush and a couple of lusty strokes would put the vessel out of danger.
But, at short intervals, he heard the bullets crashing through the side of
the boat, and he knew that the guerrillas were on the watch. If he made
the attempt he could scarcely hope to come back alive; and he thought of
his mother and Julia, how badly they would feel when they heard of his
death. But even where he stood he was in danger of being struck by the
bullets that were every moment coming through the vessel; and would not
his mother much rather hear that he fell while performing his duty, than
that he was shot while standing idly by, taking no part in the fight? He
did not wait to take a second thought, but seized the ax, and, with one
bound, reached the gangway that led out on to the forecastle. Here he
hesitated again, but it was only for a moment. Clutching his ax with a
firmer hold, and gathering all his strength for the trial, he sprang
forward, and a few rapid steps brought him to the capstan, to which the
line was made fast. He raised his ax, and one swift blow severed the line,
and the Milwaukee swung rapidly out from the bank Without waiting an
instant, Frank turned and retreated; but, instead of going back to the
place where he had left Simpson, he bounded up the steps that led to the
boiler-deck, and the next moment was safe behind a pile of baled clothing.
His sudden appearance had taken the rebels completely by surprise, and
before they could recover themselves, the line had been cut, and the young
hero was safe. But they had seen where he had taken refuge, and, with loud
yells of disappointment and rage, sent their bullets about his
hiding-place in a perfect shower. Frank, however, knowing that he was
safe, was not in the least alarmed. Waiting until the fire slackened a
little, he sprang up, and, snatching a musket and cartridge-box from the
rack which stood close by the door of the cabin, was back to his
hiding-place in a moment.

"Now," he soliloquized, "we are on more equal terms. Better keep close, or
I'll drop some of you."

In his cool, sober moments, Frank would have shuddered at the thought of
taking the life of a fellow-being; but he had seen Simpson shot down
before his eyes--perhaps killed; and is it to be wondered that he wished
to avenge his fall?

It was some time before Frank could get an opportunity to use his musket;
for if he exposed the smallest portion of his body, it was the signal for
his watchful enemies, who sent the bullets about him in unpleasant
proximity. In spite of his dangerous situation, he could not help thinking
that the rebels were very proficient in "Indian fighting," for, with all
his watchfulness, he could not get an opportunity to put in a shot. All he
could see of his enemies would be, first, a rifle thrust carefully over
the levee, then a very small portion of a head would appear, and the
bullet would come straight to the mark.

In the mean time the Milwaukee was working her way out into the stream,
and the rebels, finding that their fire was not returned, grew bolder by
degrees, and became less careful to conceal themselves. This was what
Frank wanted; but he reserved his fire until a tall rebel rose to his full
hight from behind the levee, fired his gun, and stood watching the effect
of the shot. Frank's musket was at his shoulder in an instant, his finger
pressed the trigger, and the rebel staggered for a moment, and disappeared
behind the levee.

"There," said Frank to himself, "that's what Simpson would call 'squaring
the yards.' I'm even with the rascals now."

The rebels answered the shot with load yells, and their bullets fell
thicker than ever; but the Milwaukee was almost out of range, and, in a
few moments, the firing ceased altogether.



CHAPTER VII.

On a Gun-boat.


When the Milwaukee was fairly out of range of the bullets of the
guerrillas, Frank put his gun back in the rack, and started in search of
the doctor's steward. He ran into the cabin without ceremony, and was
about to enter the steward's room, when he discovered a pair of
patent-leather boots, which he thought he recognized, sticking out from
under a mattress which lay on the cabin floor; and, upon examination, he
found that it concealed the steward, who was as pale as a sheet, and
shaking as though he had been seized with the ague.

"What do you want here?" he asked, in a trembling voice, as Frank raised
the mattress.

"Simpson is shot," answered Frank, "and I would like to have you come down
and see him."

"Do you suppose I am fool enough to go out on deck, and run the risk of
being shot? No, sir; I'll stay here, where I am safe;" and the steward
made an effort to draw his head under the mattress again.

"There's no danger now," said Frank; "the rebels have stopped firing.
Besides, we are out of"--

"Go away, and let me alone," whined the steward.

"I am not going to expose myself."

"You're a coward," exclaimed Frank, now fairly aroused "But I guess the
captain can"--

"Oh, don't," entreated the steward; "I haven't been here a minute. I
started to get a gun, to pay the rebels back in their own coin; but the
bullets came through the cabin so thick that I thought it best to retreat
to a safe place;" and the steward threw off the mattress, and arose,
tremblingly, to his feet.

"You went after a gun, did you?" inquired Frank, in a tone of voice which
showed that he did not believe the steward's story.

"Yes; and I would have given them fits, for I am a dead shot."

"Where did you put your gun when you found that you had to retreat?"

"I put it back in the rack again."

This was a likely story; for a person as badly frightened as was the
steward would not have stopped to put the gun back in its place; and, in
his heart, Frank despised the man who could be guilty of such a falsehood.

As they were about to go out on deck, the steward drew back, exclaiming:

"I don't hardly believe it is safe to go out there just yet. Let us wait a
few moments."

"I shan't wait an instant," said Frank. "Simpson has been neglected too
long already. You can come down and attend to him, or not, just as you
please." So saying, he opened the cabin door, and walking rapidly out,
descended the stairs that led to the main deck.

The steward dreaded to follow; but he knew that, if he did not attend the
wounded sailor, he would be reported to the captain, who, although a
kind-hearted man, was a strict disciplinarian, and one who always took
particular pains to see that his crew was well provided for. He dared not
hesitate long; so, drawing in a long breath, he ran swiftly out on deck,
and disappeared down the stairs like a shot.

Frank found Simpson sitting upon the mattress where he had been lain, with
his elbows on his knees, and his head supported by his hands. As Frank
came up, he said, in a weak voice:

"I came very near losing the number of my mess, didn't I? The rascals shot
pretty close to me;" and he showed Frank an ugly-looking wound in the back
of his head, from which the blood was flowing profusely.

By this time the steward arrived. After examining the wound, he pronounced
it very severe, and one that would require constant attention.

Simpson was speedily conveyed to the sick bay, and every thing possible
done to make him comfortable. Although the Milwaukee was completely
riddled by the bullets of the guerrillas, he was the only one hurt. Frank
was excused from all duty, that he might act as Simpson's nurse; and he
scarcely left him for a moment during the two weeks of fever and delirium
that followed. By the time they reached Cairo, however, he was pronounced
out of danger.

Frank wanted very much to see his cousin; but the Milwaukee was anchored
out in the river, and no one was allowed to go ashore. One afternoon, as
he sat by his friend's hammock, reading aloud a letter from Harry Butler,
in which he gave a vivid description of a late battle in which his
regiment had participated, the orderly entered and informed him that the
captain wished to see him. He followed the orderly, and, as he entered the
cabin, the captain said:

"Please help yourself to a chair, Mr. Nelson; I shall be at liberty in a
moment. I should like to finish this letter before the mail-steamer sails.
You will excuse me, will you not?"

"Certainly, sir," answered Frank; and he seated himself, lost in wonder.

The captain had addressed him as _Mr._ Nelson, while heretofore he had
always been called, by the officers, Nelson, or Frank. What could it mean?
The captain had always treated him with the greatest kindness; but, since
the engagement with the guerrillas, all the officers had shown him more
consideration than ever. He had noticed the change, and wondered at it.

At length the captain, after hastily directing the letter he had written,
and giving it in charge of the orderly, took an official document from his
desk, saying, as he did so:

"I am greatly pleased, Mr. Nelson, to be able to give you this, for you
deserve it;" and after unfolding the letter, he gave it to Frank, who read
as follows:

    NAVY DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 18, 1862.

    Sir: For your gallantry in the late action at Cypress Bend, on the
    1st inst., you are hereby appointed an Acting Master's Mate in the
    Navy of the United States, on temporary service. Report, without
    delay, to Acting Rear-Admiral David D. Porter, for such duty as he
    may assign you. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    GIDEON WELLES, _Secretary of the Navy,_

    Acting Master's Mate FRANK NELSON,
    _S.S. Milwaukee, Mississippi Squadron._

"Well," said the captain, after Frank had read the letter over three
times, to make sure that he was not dreaming, and that he was really an
officer, "what do you think of it?"

"I hardly know what to think, sir," answered Frank. "It is an honor I did
not expect."

"Very likely," said the captain, with a laugh; "but you deserve it. If it
hadn't been for you, we should all have been captured. I saw the whole of
the transaction from the pilot-house."

"It was my duty to do it, sir."

"It was a brave act, call it what else you will. Now go and give this to
the paymaster," continued the captain, handing Frank an order for the
settlement of his accounts, "and then go immediately and report to the
Admiral."

Frank left the captain, a good deal elated at his success; and when he
approached Simpson, the latter exclaimed:

"What is it, my hearty? Your promotion?"

"Yes," answered Frank; "read that;" and he handed his appointment to his
friend, who said:

"I knew you would get it. The captain isn't the man to let such a thing as
you did at Cypress Bend pass unnoticed. Give us your flipper, my boy; I'm
glad to see you an officer." And the brave fellow actually shed tears, as
he shook Frank's hand. "Now, when you are ordered to your ship," he
continued, "I wish you would speak a word for me. I am very well contented
here, but I had much rather sail with you."

Frank promised to do his best, and, after putting on his "shore togs," as
Simpson called them, and giving the captain's order to the paymaster, he
started off to report to the Admiral.

When he arrived on board the flag-ship, he was met by the officer of the
deck, who inquired his business.

"I wish to see the Admiral, sir" answered Frank; "I am ordered to report
to him."

The officer immediately led the way aft, and showed Frank a marine
standing at the door of the cabin, who took his name and disappeared. In a
moment he returned, and informed Frank that the Admiral was waiting to see
him.

He entered the cabin, and handed his appointment to the Admiral, who,
after reading it, said:

"So, you are the young man that saved the Milwaukee, are you? Take a
chair, sir."

In a few moments his orders to report, without delay, on board the
Ticonderoga, were ready; and as the Admiral handed them to him, he said:

"Now, young man, you will be on a ship where you will have a chance to
distinguish yourself. I shall expect to hear a good account of you."

"I shall always endeavor to do my duty, sir," answered Frank; and he made
his best bow and retired.

When he returned to the Milwaukee, his accounts had all been made out.
After the paymaster paid him up in full, Frank started for the nearest
clothing-store, and when he came out, he was changed into a fine-looking
officer.

He immediately directed his steps toward the naval wharf-boat, where he
found a lively little fellow, who seemed full of business, superintending
the loading of a vessel with provisions. It was Archie Winters; but it was
plain that he did not recognize his cousin in his new uniform, for Frank
stood close behind him, several moments, and Archie even brushed against
him, as he passed.

"Can you tell me, sir, where I can find Mr. Winters?" inquired Frank, at
length.

"Yes, sir," answered Archie, promptly, looking his cousin full in the
face; "I'm the--why, Frank, how are you?" and he seized his cousin's hand,
and shook it heartily. "I've been on board the Milwaukee twice this
morning, but you were off somewhere. I heard you had a fight down the
river, with the rebels. But what are you doing? What boat are you ordered
to?"

"I am not doing any thing at present," answered Frank; "but I am ordered
to report on board the Ticonderoga."

"There she is," said Archie, pointing to a long, low, black vessel that
lay alongside of the wharf boat. "I am just putting provisions on board of
her. I'll come and see you as soon as I get my work done."

Frank went on board his vessel, where he was received by the officer of
the deck, who showed him the way into the cabin. After the captain had
indorsed his orders, he strolled leisurely about the ship, examining into
every thing, for as yet he knew nothing of gun-boat life.

The Ticonderoga was a queer-looking craft. She was not exactly a Monitor;
but she had a turret forward, and mounted two eleven-inch guns and four
twelve-pounder howitzers. She had a heavy iron ram on her bow, and the
turret was protected by three inches of iron, and the deck with two
inches. It did not seem possible that a cannon-ball could make any
impression on her thick armor.

The officers' quarters were all below decks; and, although it was then the
middle of winter, Frank found it rather uncomfortable in his bunk.

During the two weeks that elapsed before the ship was ready to sail, the
time was employed in getting every thing in order--in drilling at the
great guns, and with muskets and broad-swords.

Most of the crew were old seamen, who understood their duty; and by the
time their sailing orders came, every thing moved like clock-work.

In the mean time Frank had been assigned his station, which--being the
youngest officer on board the ship--was to command the magazine. He
learned very rapidly, and, as he was always attentive to his duties, he
grew in favor with both officers and men.

At length, one afternoon, the anchor was weighed, and the Ticonderoga
steamed down the river. Her orders were to report to the Admiral, who had
sailed from Cairo about a week previous. They found him at Arkansas Post,
where they arrived too late to take part in the fight. In a few days a
station was assigned to her in the Mississippi River; and the Ticonderoga
immediately set sail, in obedience to orders.



CHAPTER VIII.

The Struggle Between the Lines.


One day, about two weeks after they came out of Arkansas River, the
Ticonderoga stopped at Smith's Landing to take on wood, as her supply of
coal had run short. The vessel was made fast to the bank, and, while the
seamen were bringing in the wood, the paymaster's steward called Frank's
attention to some cattle which were feeding on the bank, and remarked: "I
wish we could go out and shoot one of them." "So do I," said Frank; "I've
eaten salt pork until I am tired of it. Let's go and ask the captain."

"I'm agreed," said the steward.

The captain was walking on deck at the time and his permission was readily
obtained, for he himself had grown tired of ship's pork; Frank,
accompanied by the steward, and a seaman who was an expert butcher,
started out. They were armed with muskets, and, as they were all good
shots, and did not wish to kill more than enough to feed the ship's
company once, they took with them no ammunition besides what was in the
guns. At the place where the Ticonderoga was lying, the levee--an
embankment about six feet high, built to prevent the water from
overflowing--ran back into the woods about half a mile, then, making a
bend like a horse-shoe, came back to the river again, inclosing perhaps a
dozen acres of low, swampy land; and it was in this swamp that the cattle
were. They proved to be very wild; but, after a considerable run, Frank
succeeded in bringing down one, and the steward and seaman finally killed
another. The question now was, how to get the meat on board the vessel.
While they were debating on the matter, they were startled by the clatter
of horses' hoofs on the levee; and, instead of drawing back into the
bushes, out of sight, they very imprudently waited to see who the horsemen
were. Presently, a party of guerrillas, to their utter amazement--for they
had not dreamed that the rebels were so near them--galloped up.

The rebels discovered them at the same moment, and one of them exclaimed:

"I'll be dog-gone if thar ain't a Yank;" and, not knowing how many there
might be of the "Yanks," they very prudently drew up their horses. One of
them, however, who appeared to be the leader of the band, comprehended
their situation at a glance, and exclaimed:

"Throw down your arms, and you shall be treated like men!"

This brought them to their senses, and they turned and ran for their
lives. They had scarcely made a dozen steps before the bullets and
buckshot began to rattle about their ears; but the trees and bushes were
so thick that they escaped unhurt. Frank reached the vessel far in advance
of the others; as he came over the side, panting and excited, the captain,
who was still on deck, inquired:

"What's the matter, Mr. Nelson?"

"We ran foul of some guerrillas out there in the woods, sir," replied
Frank.

"How many of them did you see?"

"They didn't give us much of a chance to judge of their numbers, sir; but
I should say that there were at least a dozen of them, and they were
coming this way. I shouldn't wonder if they intended to pick off some of
the men who are carrying in wood."

"Mr. Hurd," said the captain, turning to the executive officer, "take
thirty men, who are good shots, and go out there and keep those fellows
off. Mr. Nelson will go with you."

Frank accordingly ran below, and armed himself with a revolver and musket,
and buckled on a cartridge-box. When the men were ready, he led the way,
along the levee, so that, if the guerrillas were advancing, they would be
certain to meet them. But they saw no signs of them until they came within
sight of a barn which stood in the woods, about a mile from the river. The
rebels were gathered before it, as if in consultation, and greeted the
approach of the sailors with a scattering volley of musketry, which
whistled harmlessly over their heads, or plowed up the ground before them.

"Give 'em a shot, boys," said the executive officer, "and then scatter,
and let each man take to a tree and fight Indian fashion."

The sailors wheeled into line with all the promptness and regularity of
veteran troops; and before the smoke of their muskets cleared away, they
had disappeared, like a flock of young partridges. The rebels had also
treed, and the skirmish was continued for half an hour, without any damage
being done to either party.

This style of fighting did not suit Frank, and he began to urge the
executive officer to advance, and drive them from their position. But the
officer did not think it safe to attempt it; for, although he had seen but
a small number of the rebels, he did not know how many there might be
hidden away in the bushes.

"Well, then," said Frank, after thinking a moment, "I have another
proposition to make. If you will give me ten men, and engage the rebels
warmly in front, I'll go and get that fresh beef."

"Where did you leave it?" inquired the officer.

"In the woods, about three hundred yards to the left of where the rebels
now are."

"Very well; pick out your men, and go ahead."

Frank accordingly selected the boatswain's mate, an old, gray-headed man,
who had been in the navy from boyhood, as his first lieutenant, and
ordered him to call for volunteers.

If there is any thing a sailor admires, it is bravery in an officer. Every
one on board the Ticonderoga, from the captain down, was acquainted with
Frank's gallant behavior at Cypress Bend, although he himself had never
said a word about it; and this, together with his uniform kindness toward
the men under his command, and the respect he always showed his brother
officers, had made him very popular with the ship's company; and when the
mate--who was never better pleased than when he could do Frank a
service-passed the word along the line that Mr. Nelson had called for
volunteers, the men flocked around him in all directions. The mate quickly
selected the required number, and Frank led them toward the place where
they had left the beef.

The woods were very thick, and, of course, the rebels, who were hidden in
the bushes, on the other side of the levee, knew nothing of what was going
on. Frank sent two of his men to the levee, to watch the motions of the
rebels, with orders not to fire unless they attempted to advance; and then
pulled off his coat, and set to work, with the others, cutting up the
beef. This was soon accomplished; and, after getting it all ready to carry
to the vessel, Frank, after consulting with the mate, concluded that the
rebels ought to be punished for what they had done, and he determined to
try the effect of a cross-fire upon them.

He cautiously advanced his men to the levee, when he found that the rebels
had been growing bolder; and one of them, who was mounted on a powerful
iron-gray horse, would frequently ride out from his concealment, and
advance toward the place where the men under the executive officer were
stationed, coolly deliver his fire, and then retreat out of range of their
guns, to reload.

"Now, boys," said Frank, "if that fellow tries that again, I'll put a
stopper on his shooting for awhile."

The rebel, who, of course, was entirely ignorant of the proximity of
Frank's party, soon reappeared, and rode rapidly down the levee, until he
came directly opposite the place where Frank and his men were concealed,
and then drew up his horse, and settled himself in his saddle, for a good
shot. But at that instant the report of Frank's musket echoed through the
woods, and the horse on which the rebel was mounted fell to the ground,
with a bullet in his brain. Before the astonished guerrilla could
extricate himself from the saddle, Frank, with more recklessness than
prudence, had bounded out of his concealment, and seized him by the collar
with one hand, at the same time attempting to draw his revolver with the
other.

"You're my prisoner!" he exclaimed.

But the rebel had no sooner regained his feet, than he seized Frank around
the body, and, lifting him from his feet, threw him heavily to the ground.
Frank's revolver had become entangled in his belt in such a manner that he
could not draw it, and he now saw how foolhardy he had been, for his
antagonist was a man of almost twice his size, and possessed of enormous
strength. But Frank still retained his presence of mind, and, in falling,
he managed to catch the rebel by the hair, and pulled him to the ground
with him. He clung to him with a death-grip, and the guerrilla, after
trying in vain to break his hold, attempted to draw a knife from his belt.
Frank seized it at the same moment, when each used all his skill and
strength to obtain possession of it.

Both parties gazed in utter amazement, as this singular struggle went on
and neither dared to fire a shot, for fear of hitting their own man. At
length the mate, who, with his men, had watched the progress of the
conflict, with their feelings worked up to the highest pitch of
excitement, discovered that the rebel, by his superior strength, was
gaining the advantage; and he knew that the only way to save his officer
was to drive the rebels from their position.

"Steady there, lads!" he exclaimed; "fix bayonets."

The order was promptly obeyed.

"Ready, now! Aim! Fire! Charge bayonets! Forward, double-quick!"

The sailors broke from their concealment with a loud yell, and rushed
toward the rebel line. They were soon overtaken by the men under command
of the executive officer, who, not wishing to be outdone by their
comrades, had come to their assistance.

The rebels were taken completely by surprise, and, after delivering a
straggling fire, rapidly retreated.

The charge made by the sailors infused new courage into Frank, who
increased his exertions, and struggled furiously for the possession of the
knife.

"Hold on," exclaimed the rebel; "I'll surrender, if you will promise me
kind treatment."

"I guess you'll surrender any way," said Frank; "and you may be sure that
you will be well treated."

"Let go my hair, then," said the rebel; "and let me get up."

Frank accordingly released his hold, and the rebel rose to his feet, and
was immediately seized by the mate, who, with his men, was just returning
from the pursuit of the rebels.

After the prisoner had delivered up his weapons, they marched back to the
place where they had left the beef, and then started for the vessel.

Every one was soon made acquainted with the particulars of the fight, and
Frank was again the hero of the mess-room.



CHAPTER IX.

A Union Family.


After two days' sail, the Ticonderoga arrived at Phillips's Landing, where
she had been ordered to take her station; for the Admiral had received
information that the rebel General Marmaduke was preparing to cross the
river, with his forces, at that place.

They came to anchor in front of a large plantation, owned by the man after
whom the place was named. In a short time, a boat, rowed by two stout
negroes, and which contained two ladies and a gentleman, came alongside.

The captain received them, as they came upon the quarter-deck, and the
gentleman, after introducing himself as Mr. Phillips, and apologizing for
the liberty they had taken in coming on board, asked if the captain could
furnish them with some Northern papers. They lived in an out-of-the-way
place, he said, where boats seldom landed, for fear of the guerrillas, and
they were entirely ignorant of what was going on.

The captain seemed much pleased with his visitors. After complying with
their request, he conducted them down into the cabin, where they passed an
hour in conversation. When they were about to take their departure, they
invited the captain and his officers to call on them, and assured them
that there were no rebels in the vicinity.

The captain was an old sailor, and had been in the service so long that he
was inclined to be suspicious of any thing that looked like friendship on
the part of a person living in an enemy's country. But, after calling on
Mr. Phillips's family a few times, without discovering any thing to
confirm his suspicions, he allowed both officers and men to go ashore at
all times; and soon quite an intimacy sprung up between them and the
people of the plantation, and dinner parties and horseback rides were the
order of the day.

Frank had been elected caterer of his mess, and as he was obliged to
furnish provisions, he had a good excuse for being ashore most of his
time. He became a regular visitor at the plantation, and was soon well
acquainted with each member of the family. They all professed to be
unconditional Union people, with the exception of the youngest daughter,
who boldly stated that her sympathies were, and always had been, with the
South; and she and Frank had many a long argument about the war.

Things went on thus for a considerable time, when, early one morning, as
Frank was on his way to the plantation, to buy his marketing, a negro met
him, as he was ascending the hill that led to the quarters, and said:

"I'd like to speak just one word with you, young master."

"Well, what is it, uncle?" said Frank; "talk away."

"Let us move on, this way first, for I don't want them to see us from the
house."

Frank followed the negro behind one of the cabins, and the latter
continued:

"I'm afraid you and all the officers on your boat will be captured one of
these days."

"What do you mean?" inquired Frank, in surprise, half inclined to think
that the negro was crazy.

"I suppose you don't know that my master and mistress, and all the white
folks on the plantation, are rebels, do you?"

"No; and I don't believe they are."

"Yes, they are. My master is a Major in the rebel army; and that Miss
Annie you come to see every day has got a sweetheart in the army, and she
tells him every thing you say. Besides, they send a mail across the river,
here, twice every month. I took one across myself, night before last."

"I believe you're lying to me, you old rascal," exclaimed Frank.

"No, young master," answered the negro; "every word I have told you is
gospel truth. You see, my daughter waits on Miss Annie, and I find out
every thing."

"You say Miss Phillips has a sweetheart in the army?"

"Yes; and he was here to see her not long ago. He is a lieutenant, and has
gone up to Conway's Point, with two cannons, to fire into steamers. His
name is Miller; and you would know him from a long scar on his left cheek.
Wasn't Miss Annie on board your boat two days ago?"

"Yes, I believe so."

"Well, she stole a book."

"A book!" repeated Frank. "What kind of a book?"

"I don't know the name of it. It was a small book, and had lead fastened
to the covers."

"By gracious!" exclaimed Frank, "that was the captain's signal-book."

"Yes; she told my daughter that she took it out of the captain's room."

Frank did not stop to buy any marketing, but hastily catching up his
basket, he hurried back to the vessel.

"Orderly," he exclaimed, as he approached the marine who always stood at
the cabin door, "ask the captain if I may see him."

"He hasn't got up yet, sir."

"That makes no difference. Tell him that I have something particular to
say to him."

The orderly went into the cabin, and, in a few moments, returned, and
said:

"The captain says walk in, sir."

"Captain," said Frank, after he had closed the door carefully behind him,
"have you lost your signal-book?"

"No, I guess not;" answered the captain, in a tone of surprise. "What
makes you ask?"

"I heard, a few moments ago, that it had been stolen from you."

"I have not had occasion to use it for two or three weeks," answered the
captain, getting out of bed; "but I know exactly where I put it;" and he
opened a drawer in the sideboard, and commenced to overhaul the contents.

"Set me down for a landlubber," he exclaimed, at length, "if it hasn't
been stolen. It isn't here, at any rate."

Frank then related the conversation which had taken place between himself
and the negro, and the captain continued:

"Well, I always thought those folks had some object in view, or they would
not have been so friendly. I can't reproach myself for neglecting my duty,
for I watched them pretty closely."

"I wonder how that girl knew that the signal-book was in that drawer,"
said Frank.

"I suppose she must have seen me put it in there," said the captain. "Now,
the question is, now to go to work to recover it. It will do no good to
search the house."

"If you will leave the matter in my hands, sir," said Frank, "I will agree
to recover the signal-book, and capture that mail-bag which they intend to
send across the river in a few days."

"Well," said the captain, "it was you who first knew that the signal-book
was gone, and I believe you ought to have the honor of sifting the matter
to the bottom. Find out all you can, and call on me for any assistance you
may need."

Frank immediately returned to the plantation, and started toward the
quarters, in quest of the negro who had given him the information, whom he
found chopping wood in front of one of the cabins.

"See here, uncle," he exclaimed, "I want you to keep me posted on all that
goes on here on the plantation; and tell your daughter to find out when
that rebel lieutenant is coming here again, and when they intend to send
that mail across the river."

"I will do my best, young master," answered the negro. "But you won't tell
any one what I have said to you? I shall be killed, sure, if you do"

"No, uncle, I shan't betray you; so don't be afraid," said Frank; and,
after purchasing some articles which they needed in the mess, he returned
on board the boat.

A week passed on, but nothing further was developed. The officers of the
vessel still continued to visit the plantation, and Mr. Phillips and his
family always seemed glad to see them, and evidently did all in their
power to make their visits agreeable.

As soon as Frank had time to think the matter over, he wondered why he had
not known that something suspicious was going on. He remembered now that
Mr. Phillips had often questioned him closely concerning the manner in
which the gun-boats were stationed along the river, and the distance they
were apart. And he thought of other questions which had been asked him by
the family, which, although they did not seem strange at the time, now
seemed suspicious. At first he had been inclined to doubt the negro's
story; but his doubts were soon removed by the appearance of a transport,
which was completely riddled with shot; and her captain reported that they
had been fired into by a battery of two guns, at Conway's Point. Frank
knew that it was the work of the rebel lieutenant, and he hoped that it
would soon be his fortune to meet him face to face.

One evening, just after supper, the negro appeared on the bank, with some
chickens in his hand, which was a signal to Frank that he had something to
communicate. He immediately set off alone, in a skiff. When he reached the
shore, the negro informed him that the rebel lieutenant was expected at the
plantation that evening, and that he would bring with him the mail, which
was to be carried across the river at midnight.

After paying the negro for his chickens, in order to deceive any one who
might be watching them, Frank returned to the vessel, and informed the
captain that, if he would give him twenty men, he would fulfill his
promise. He did not acquaint him with what he had learned, however, for
fear that the captain would send an officer with him, and thus rob him of
the laurels now almost within his grasp.

As soon as it was dark, Frank picked out the men he wished to accompany
him, and started off. His first care was to quietly surround the house,
after he had placed his men to his satisfaction, he removed his sword,
thrust a brace of revolvers into his pocket, and walked up and knocked at
the door. It was opened by the youngest of the girls, who started back and
turned pale when she saw the young officer; but instantly recovering her
presence of mind, she exclaimed:

"Good evening, Mr. Nelson; walk in. Allow me to introduce to you my
cousin, Mr. Williams," she continued, as they entered the parlor.

As she spoke, a tall, handsome young man rose from his seat, and made a
low bow. It was none other than Lieutenant Miller; for there was the scar
on his cheek, which had been described to him by the negro.

After returning the rebel's salutation, Frank seated himself on the sofa,
and said:

"I shall trouble you only a moment. I merely came here on a little matter
of business. I understand that there is a rebel mail to be carried across
the river, from this house, to-night."

The suddenness with which this announcement was made was astounding. Mrs.
Phillips appeared ready to faint; Annie turned very pale; and the
lieutenant raised his hand to his breast, as if about to draw a weapon.

"What do you mean, sir?" inquired Mr. Phillips, with well-feigned
surprise.

"I mean," answered Frank, "that, since we anchored opposite this house, we
have been associating with the worst kind of rebels. Put down your hand,
Lieutenant Miller! If I see you make that move again, I shall be obliged
to shoot you. You have professed to be Union people," continued Frank,
settling himself back in his seat, and coolly crossing his legs, "and have
been treated as such; you have, however, attempted to betray us, by
communicating such of our plans and movements as you could learn to the
rebels. But you have been discovered at last. You, gentlemen, will please
consider yourselves my prisoners. Miss Phillips, have the kindness to
produce that mail-bag, and the signal-book you took from the captain. If
you refuse, I shall be obliged to take you on board the ship, as a
prisoner."

The girl saw that there was no alternative, and she pulled from under the
sofa, where Frank sat, the mail-bag, which appeared to be well filled with
letters, and dispatched a servant to her room after the signal-book, which
was to have been sent across the river with the mail.

After Frank had relieved the lieutenant of his weapons, he called two of
his men into the house, and, after delivering the prisoners into their
charge, returned to the vessel.

That evening the captain examined the mail, and found several letters
which showed, beyond a doubt, that their prisoners were connected with the
rebel army; and they were, accordingly, sent to the Admiral, on the first
steamer that went up the river.

About two weeks afterward, the captain of the Ticonderoga received orders
to proceed with his vessel to Helena, and take command of an expedition
which was preparing to start down the Yazoo Pass. They found the fleet,
consisting of the Manhattan, six "tin-clads," and several transports,
loaded with troops, assembled in Moon Lake, which was about six miles from
the Mississippi River; and, on the 23d day of February, they entered the
pass, the Ticonderoga leading the way.

The west shore of Moon Lake was bounded by a swamp, through which ran the
pass, which was just wide enough to admit one good-sized vessel. It was
filled with trees, which stood so close together that it seemed impossible
to work a passage through them; and the men on deck were constantly in
danger of being killed by falling limbs. They advanced slowly, sometimes
making not more than four miles in a day; and it was almost two weeks
before they reached Coldwater River.



CHAPTER X.

A Spunky Rebel.


In the afternoon of the day of their arrival, the Ticonderoga tied up in
front of a large plantation-house. As soon as the vessel was made fast to
the bank, the captain turned to the executive officer, and exclaimed:

"Mr. Smith, please call away one company of small-armed men. Mr. Nelson,"
he continued, turning to Frank, "I wish you to take command of the
company, and go ashore and search that house for fire-arms, and bring on
board all you find."

"Very good, sir," answered Frank; and he hurried down to his room to
buckle on his sword and revolver.

In a few minutes the company was formed on deck, and Frank marched them
out on the bank and then up to the house. His first care was to surround
the building, so that, in case there were any men in it, their escape
would be entirely cut off. He then, in company with the boatswain's mate
and two men, walked up and knocked at the door. After some delay, the
summons was answered by a negro woman, who scowled upon him, and waited
for him to make known his wants.

"Is your master or mistress in?" inquired Frank.

"Yes, missus is h'ar," answered the woman, gruffly.

"Well, I should like to see her."

"Den you stay h'ar, an' I'll ax her if she wants to see you."

"No, aunty, that won't do. I must see her, whether she wants to see me or
not;" and Frank unceremoniously entered the house, followed by his men.

"Now, where is your mistress, aunty?" he inquired.

"She's up stairs," answered the woman.

"Well, then," said Frank, turning to the boatswain's mate, "you come with
me, and let the others remain here until we return."

Frank then ascended the stairs, and very easily found his way to the room
where the lady was; and, as he entered, he politely removed his cap.

"Well, sir," said the lady, in no very pleasant tone, "what do you wish?"

"I have been ordered to come here and search your house for fire-arms,"
replied Frank.

"I suppose I shall be obliged to submit to it, for I have not the power to
prevent you; if I had, I should certainly use it. But, I hope you will be
gentleman enough not to steal every thing we have in the house."

Frank's face reddened to the very roots of his hair at this insult, and he
replied, in a voice choked with indignation:

"No, madam, we shall disturb nothing. I hope you do not take us for
thieves;" and he turned and tried a door, (several of which opened off the
room in which the lady was sitting), but it was fastened on the other
side.

"That's a bed-room," exclaimed the lady, angrily. "I hope you are not
going in there!"

"Certainly I am, madam. I am going into every nook and corner of your
house. My orders were to search your building, and I intend to obey them.
Is there any one in here?"

"Yes, sir; my daughters are in there."

"Then, why don't they open this door?" and Frank, who was getting out of
patience, pounded loudly upon the door with the butt of his revolver.

"Is that you, mother?" inquired a voice from the room.

"No," answered Frank, "it isn't mother; but open this door."

"Yes, in a minute."

"Open this door immediately," repeated Frank, who began to suspect that he
had been purposely delayed.

But the persons in the room made no reply; when the boatswain's mate, at
a sign from Frank, raised his foot, and, with one kick of his heavy boot,
sent the door from its hinges. Loud screams issued from the room, which,
as Frank entered, he found to be occupied by two young ladies, who,
judging from the overturned work-basket, and the half-finished articles of
apparel which were scattered about over the floor, had been engaged in
sewing.

"Don't be alarmed, ladies," said Frank, "you shall not be harmed. Jack,"
he continued, turning to the boatswain's mate, "just examine that bed."

"Oh, don't," exclaimed one of the young ladies, "don't, for mercy's sake.
Do go away from here."

"Ellen," exclaimed her mother, who had followed Frank into the room,
"don't make a child of yourself. I am surprised at you."

"We shall leave every thing just as we find it," said Frank, who was a
good deal surprised at the conduct of the girl. "All we want is the
fire-arms, if you have any in the house."

"Yes, we have got some here," said Ellen, "and I will get them for you;"
and she drew out from the bed-clothes two beautifully-finished rifles, a
quantity of ammunition, a cavalry sword, and a double-barreled shot-gun.
"There," she exclaimed, as she handed them to Frank; "there are no more in
this room. Now, do go away."

"Ellen," said her mother, who was evidently very anxious about the girl's
conduct, "will you keep quiet?"

"Don't say any thing to him, Ellen," said her sister, whose name was Mary;
"don't ask any favors of a Yankee. Let him stay here till doomsday if"--

She was interrupted by a loud scream from Ellen; and the mate, who had
been "reconnoitering" under the bed, exclaimed:

"Here you are! Come out o' that, you son of a sea-cook;" and he seized
something which struggled and fought furiously, but all to no purpose, for
the mate soon pulled into sight tall man, dressed in the uniform of a
rebel officer.

Ellen screamed and cried louder than ever, and even her mother could not
refrain from shedding tears; but Mary, although pale as death, retained
her haughty look, and was evidently too proud to manifest any feeling in
the presence of a Federal officer.

"I knowed there was something of this kind goin' on, sir," said Jack,
turning to his officer, and giving his pants a hitch; "I knowed, by the
way the young lady handed over them we'pons, that there was something
about that bed she didn't want us to see."

"Yes, Ellen," said the rebel, "I have to thank you for my capture. If it
hadn't been for your crying and whimpering, I might have"--

"Escaped," exclaimed Jack. "No, sir; not so easy. Don't go to jawin' her,
now, 'cause yer ketched. Come, now," he continued, "let's have yer
we'pons."

The rebel coolly handed out two silver-mounted revolvers, which the mate
thrust into his belt.

"Now, I hope you're satisfied," said Mary, impatiently; "and are ready to
go and leave us in peace."

"Not quite," answered Frank. "I have not yet obeyed my orders. As I said
before, I must see the inside of every room in your house. Jack, send two
men on board the ship with that prisoner."

"Ay, ay, sir," answered the mate, touching his cap. "Come, you corn-fed,
march."

The mother and sisters of the rebel crowded around him, to say good-by;
and, in spite of the unladylike, and even insulting manner with which they
had treated him, Frank could not help pitying them.

When the mate had seen the prisoner safe on the boat, he went back, and
Frank continued his search. But no more weapons or prisoners being found,
he and his men returned on board, well satisfied with their success.

After supper, as Frank was walking up and down the deck, arm in arm with
one of his brother officers, the orderly approached, and, touching his
cap, informed him that the captain wished to see him.

"Mr. Nelson," said the captain, as Frank entered the cabin, "come here."

Frank followed the captain to one of the after windows, and the latter
inquired:

"Do you see _that_?"

Frank looked in the direction indicated by the captain, and was surprised
to see a rebel flag floating from one of the windows of the house.

"Yes, sir; I see it," said Frank.

"Well, sir, go over there, and tell those women to have that flag taken in
and sent on board this ship. Don't touch it yourself: they put it out
there, and they must take it in. That's a pretty piece of impudence,
indeed--a rebel flag floating in the breeze in the face of a Federal
vessel of war!" and the eccentric captain paced up and down his cabin, in
a state of considerable excitement.

Frank started off, and in a few moments again stood before the mistress of
the house.

"You're here again, sir, are you?" she asked, petulantly.

"Yes, ma'am," replied Frank, not the least annoyed by the tone in which he
was addressed, or the sharp glances which the ladies threw at him, "I'm
here; and I came to tell you that the captain wishes you to have that
rebel flag removed from your window, and sent on board the ship."

"Is there any thing else your captain wants?" inquired Mary, with a
sneer.

"No, ma'am, not at present; but he wishes that flag taken down
immediately."

The ladies made no reply. After a moment's pause, Frank inquired:

"Do you intend to comply with his orders?"

"I did not put the flag up there," said the mother.

"It makes no difference who put it up there, madam," said Frank, warmly,
"it must come down; and I would advise you not to hesitate long, for the
captain is not one who can be trifled with."

As Frank ceased speaking, Mary touched a signal-bell, which stood on the
table near her. A servant appeared almost instantly, and the young lady
said:

"Show this man out."

Frank, who saw that it would do no good to remain, put on his cap and
followed the servant down stairs.

"Well, what did they say?" inquired the captain, when Frank again entered
the cabin.

"They didn't say any thing, sir," replied Frank. "They neither said they
would, nor they would not, take it down."

Frank was careful not to say a word about the manner in which they had
treated him, for he knew it would only irritate the captain, and make
matters worse.

"They didn't say whether they would take it down or not, eh!" exclaimed
the captain. "Please help yourself to a chair, Mr. Nelson, and, in a few
moments, I will give you your orders."

Frank accordingly took a seat, and the captain stationed himself at the
window, with his watch in his hand. Frank knew by this that the captain
had granted the rebels a few moments' grace; and he also knew that, unless
the flag came down soon, and was sent on board the vessel, something
unpleasant would happen. At length the allotted time expired, and the
captain said:

"Mr. Nelson, take a dozen men, and go ashore. Give those women just ten
minutes to remove their furniture, and then fire the house. No building
shall float a secesh flag, and stand, while I have the power to burn it."

This time the ladies made no remark when Frank entered the room where they
were sitting, for they knew by his looks that they were about to receive
the punishment their folly merited.

"Madam," said Frank, speaking in a tone which showed how much he dreaded
to break the intelligence, "I am ordered to burn your house."

"Yes," answered the mother, bitterly; "I expected that to be your next
errand. I suppose your brutal captain will feel perfectly satisfied when
he sees us deprived of a home."

"I thought the Yankees were too gallant to make war on women and
children," chimed in Mary. "That has always been their boast," continued
she, very spitefully.

"So they are," replied Frank. "But the captain is one who will not
tolerate an exhibition of treason in any one, be it man, woman, or child.
You have no one to blame but yourselves. But we have no time to waste in
argument. I will give you ten minutes in which to remove your furniture
and will assist you, if you wish it."

"We can take care of ourselves," said the mother. "No one asked you for
assistance."

Frank made no reply; and the ladies, assisted by their servants,
immediately commenced the removal of the most valuable articles; and when
the time had expired, a straw-bed was pulled into the middle of the floor,
a match was applied to it, and the house was soon enveloped in flames.

Frank could not help pitying the women, who were thus obliged to stand by
and witness the destruction of their home. But he knew that they had
brought it on themselves, and that they deserved it; and, besides, he had
only done his duty, for he was acting under orders.

The women, however, did not seem to be in the least concerned; for when
the roof fell in with a crash, Mary commenced the rebel air, "Bonnie Blue
Flag," and sang it through to the end. Frank admired her "spunk," even
though her sympathies were enlisted in a bad cause.

He remained until the house was entirely consumed, and then returned on
board his vessel.



CHAPTER XI.

Frank a Prisoner.


In the afternoon of the following day, while it was Frank's watch on
deck, as the Ticonderoga came suddenly around an abrupt bend in the river,
a puff of smoke rose from behind an embankment, about half a mile in
advance, while a shell whistled over the vessel, and dropped into the
water without exploding.

Frank immediately requested the pilot to blow four whistles, which was a
signal to the other boats that they were attacked; and, after sending the
messenger-boy below to report to the captain, he raised his glass to his
eye, and found that they were directly in front of a good-sized fort,
built of cotton bales and embankments, and mounting at least five heavy
guns. A flag-staff rose from the center of the fort, and supported the
"stars and bars," which flaunted defiantly in the breeze. This was Fort
Pemberton, the only formidable fortification the rebels had between the
Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers.

The captain came on deck immediately, and ordered the vessel to be
stopped; and, when the other boats came up, they were ordered to take
their stations along the bank, on each side of the river, out of range of
the guns of the fort. When the entire fleet had assembled, the
Ticonderoga, in company with the Manhattan, steamed down, and opened fire
on the fort, with a view to ascertain its strength. The fort replied
vigorously, and, after an hour's firing, the vessels withdrew.

The next morning, at an early hour, the troops were landed, but, for some
reason, it was afternoon before they were ready to march. At three o'clock
they were drawn up in line in the woods, about two miles from the fort,
where the men stacked arms, and stretched themselves out in the shade of
the trees.

In the mean time the iron-clads had been preparing for the fight. The
magazines were opened and lighted; the casemates covered with a coat of
grease, to glance the shot which might strike them; the men were at their
stations, and when all was ready, they steamed down toward the fort, the
Ticonderoga leading the way.

Frank, by attention to his duties, had rapidly learned the gun-drill, and
had been promoted to the command of one of the guns in the turret. He
thought he had become quite accustomed to the noise of bullets, but he
could not endure the silence that then reigned in the ship. The men,
stripped to the waist, stood at their guns as motionless as so many
statues; and, although Frank tried hard to exhibit the same indifference
that they did, his mind was exceedingly busy, and it seemed to him that he
thought of every thing he had done during his life. Oh, how he longed to
hear the order passed to commence firing! Any thing was preferable to that
awful stillness.

At length, the captain came into the turret, where he always took his
station in action, and glanced hastily at the countenance of each of the
officers and men. He seemed satisfied with his examination, for he
immediately took his stand where he could see all that was going on, and
gave orders to the pilot to head the vessel directly toward the fort; and
then every thing relapsed into that horrible silence again. But this did
not continue long; for, the moment they came within range, the fort opened
on them, and a solid shot struck the casemate directly over Frank's gun,
with a force that seemed to shake the entire vessel. Frank glanced at the
captain, and saw him standing with his elbow on the starboard gun, and his
head resting on his hand, watching the fort as coolly as though they had
been engaged only in target practice.

The shells from the fort continued to fall around them, but the captain
neither changed his position nor gave the order to fire. The port-holes in
the turret were all closed, with the exception of the one at which the
captain stood, and, of course, no one could see what was going on. Frank
began to grow impatient. He did not like the idea of being shot at in that
manner without returning the fire. At length the captain inquired:

"What have you in your gun, Mr. Nelson?"

"A five-second shell, sir," answered Frank, promptly.

"Very well. Run out your gun and give them a shot."

The men sprang to their stations in an instant; the ports flew open with a
crash, and the heavy gun was ran out as easily as though it had been a
twelve-pounder. The first captain seized the lock string; there was a
deafening report, and an eleven-inch shell went booming into the fort. The
force of the discharge ran the gun back into the turret again, and the
ports closed as if by magic. They did not close entirely, however, for
there was a space of about four inches left between them, to allow for the
action of the rammer in loading. The gun was sponged, the cartridge driven
home, and the gunner's mate stood at the muzzle of the gun, removing the
cap from a shell, when a percussion shell from the fort struck in the
space between the shutters and exploded. The discharge set fire to the
shell which the gunner's mate was holding in his hand, and the unfortunate
man was blown almost to atoms.

In naval actions there is nothing which will carry such terror and dismay
among a ship's company as the bursting of one of their own shells; and the
scene which followed the explosion in the turret of the Ticonderoga
beggars all description. Old seamen, who had been in many a hard-fought
battle, and had stood at their guns under the most deadly fire the enemy
could pour upon them, without flinching, now deserted their stations, and
ran about through the blinding and suffocating smoke that filled the
turret, with blanched cheeks, trampling each other under their feet, and
utterly disregarding the commands of their officers, who ran among them
with drawn swords, and endeavored to force them back to their guns. It was
some time before quiet was restored, and then Frank found, to his horror,
that, out of twenty-five men which had composed his gun's crew, only ten
were left. Four had been instantly killed, and eleven badly wounded. The
deck was slippery with blood, and the turret was completely covered with
it. The shrieks and groans of the wounded and dying were awful. Frank had
never before witnessed such a scene, and, for a moment, he was so sick he
could scarcely stand. But he had no time to waste in giving away to his
feelings. After seeing the dead and wounded carried below, he returned to
his station, and, with what was left of his gun's crew, fought bravely
during the remainder of the action.

The fight continued until after dark, when the captain, knowing that it
would be impossible to capture the fort without the assistance of the
troops, ordered a retreat.

That same night a consultation of the naval and military commanders was
held, and it was decided to renew the attack on the following morning. A
battery of two thirty-pounder Parrotts was taken off one of the
"tin-clads" and mounted on the bank, about half a mile back in the woods,
and a mile from the fort. Captain Wilson, who commanded one of the
mosquito boats, was ordered to take command of it, and Frank, at his own
request, was permitted to accompany him as his aid. He started early the
next morning with fifty men, who had been detailed from the gun-boats, and
at sunrise was at his station.

The battery was masked, and the rebels knew nothing of its existence. The
captain's orders were, not to fire until they heard the action opened by
the iron-clads. Twenty-eight men were required to man the guns, and the
others, armed with Spencer rifles, were to act as sharp-shooters. Frank,
to his surprise, soon learned that this was all the support they were to
have, the troops having been ordered to take the same station they had
occupied the day before, and to hold themselves in readiness to charge
upon the fort, as soon as the iron-clads had silenced the guns.

About ten o'clock the fort commenced firing, and Frank knew that the
gun-boats were again under way. At length a loud report, which he could
have recognized among a thousand, blended with the others, and, in
obedience to the order of the captain, the men tore away the bushes which
had masked the battery, and the fight became general.

Frank directed his fire upon a pile of cotton-bales, which protected one
of the largest guns of the fort; but, as fast as he knocked them down, the
rebels would recklessly spring out of the fort and put them up again. At
length Captain Wilson ordered she sharp-shooters to advance five hundred
yards nearer the fort. The rebels soon discovered this, and the
cotton-bales were allowed to remain where they had fallen.

In half an hour that part of the fort was completely demolished; and the
rebels, being without protection against the sharp-shooters, were obliged
to abandon the gun.

While Frank was congratulating himself on the fine shooting he had done,
and wondering why the troops were not ordered to charge, he was startled
by the rapid report of muskets behind him. Three of his men fell dead
where they had stood; and Frank turned just in time to see a party of
rebels issuing from the woods. They came on with loud yells; and one of
them, who appeared to be the leader, called out:

"Surrender, now, you infernal Yankees. Shoot down the first one who
resists or attempts to escape," he added, turning to his men.
"Stand to your guns, my lads!" shouted Captain Wilson. "Don't give ground
an inch."

The sailors, always accustomed to obedience, gathered around their
officers, and poured a murderous fire upon the advancing enemy, from their
revolvers. The rebels, who were greatly superior in numbers, returned the
fire, and the captain fell, mortally wounded. But the sailors stubbornly
stood their ground, until the rebels closed up about them, and Frank saw
that escape was impossible. But he fought like a young tiger, and
determined that he would die before he would surrender; for even death was
preferable to a long confinement in a Southern prison.

"Drop that pistol!" exclaimed a rebel, pointing his rifle directly at
Frank's head, "or I'll blow your brains out."

"Blow away!" exclaimed Frank, seizing the rebel's rifle, with a quick
movement, and firing his revolver full in his face; "I'll never surrender
as long as I have strength left to stand on my feet. Give it to 'em,
lads!"

The next moment Frank was prostrated by a severe blow on the head from the
butt of a musket, and the sailors, finding that both their officers were
gone, lost all heart, and threw down their weapons.

The rebels had scarcely time to collect their prisoners and retreat, when
the troops, who had heard the noise of the conflict, and started to the
rescue, arrived. But they were too late; for in less than half an hour
Frank and his men were safe in the fort, and confined under guard.



CHAPTER XII.

The Escape.


Frank, as may be supposed, was not at all pleased with the prospect
before him. He had often heard escaped prisoners relate sad stories of
the treatment they had received while in the hands of the rebels; and,
as he knew that they cherished an especial hatred toward gun-boatmen,
he could not hope to fare very well.

The place where he was confined was in the lower part of the fort,
directly in range of the shells from the iron-clads, and Frank
expected to be struck by them every moment, for the pieces flew about
him in all directions. Oh, how he prayed that the fort might be taken!
He could see that one of their heaviest guns was dismounted, and a
large detail of men was constantly occupied in carrying off the dead
and wounded.

The firing continued until four o'clock in the afternoon, and then
the gun-boats suddenly withdrew. The rebels cheered loudly as they
disappeared around a bend in the river, and Frank gave up all hope:
nothing now remained for him but a long captivity.

That evening, as soon as it was dark, he, with the other prisoners,
was marched on board the General Quitman, a large steamer, lying just
below the fort, and carried to Haines' Bluff, and from thence they
went by rail to Vicksburg. Here Frank was separated from his men, and
confined, for two days, with several army officers, in a small room in
the jail. Early on the third morning he was again taken out, and sent
across the river, into Louisiana, with about three hundred others.
Their destination, he soon learned, was Tyler, a small town in
Texas, where most of the Union prisoners captured in Mississippi were
confined.

They were guarded by a battalion of cavalry, under command of the
notorious Colonel Harrison, who called themselves the "Louisiana
Wild-cats." Frank had never before seen this noted regiment, and he
found that they were very appropriately named; for a more ferocious
looking set of men he had never met. They all wore long hair and
whiskers; and their faces looked as though they had never been
acquainted with soap and water. They were armed with rifles,
Bowie-knives, and revolvers, and seemed to take pleasure in boasting
of the number of women and children and unarmed men they had slain.

They had not made more than a day's march, when Frank found that his
troubles were just commencing. He was not accustomed to marching, and
his feet soon became so swollen that he could scarcely stand on them.
The heat was almost intolerable; the roads were very dusty, and the
places where they were allowed to obtain water were many miles apart.
Besides, as if to add to their sufferings, the rebels were continually
stealing from the prisoners, and, finally, some of them were left with
scarcely any clothing; and if the poor fellows ventured to remonstrate
against such treatment, they were shot or bayoneted on the spot.

On the fourth day of the march, Frank noticed a soldier, just in
advance of him, who was so weak that he could scarcely keep his feet.
He had been wounded in the arm, at the late battle before Vicksburg,
but not the least notice had been taken of it by the rebels, and he
was suffering the most intense agony. Frank, although scarcely able to
sustain himself, owing to the swollen condition of his feet, offered
his assistance, which the poor fellow was glad enough to accept. But
he continued to grow weaker every moment, and, finally, in spite of
Frank's exertions, fell prostrate in the road.

"What's the matter here?" inquired the colonel, who happened to be
riding by.

"This man isn't able to go any further," replied Frank.

"Then he doesn't need any of your help, you young Abolitionist; get
back to your place! Here, Stiles," he continued, beckoning to one of
his men and bending upon him a glance of peculiar meaning, "you stay
here until this man dies."

The colonel rode up to the head of the column again, and Frank was
obliged to move on with the others. But he could not relieve his mind
of a feeling that something more dreadful than any thing he had yet
seen was about to take place. He frequently turned and looked back,
and saw the man lying where he had fallen, and the rebel, who had
dismounted from his horse, standing over him, leaning on his rifle. At
length a bend in the road hid them from sight. In a few moments, Frank
heard the report of a gun, and presently the rebel rode up, with the
coat, pants, and boots which had once belonged to the soldier, hanging
on his arm. Such scenes as this were enacted every day; but, for some
unaccountable reason, Frank was not molested, beyond having his boots
stolen one night while he was asleep. He had made up his mind that he
would escape at the first opportunity; but he was in no condition to
travel, and, besides, the sight of several ferocious blood-hounds,
which accompanied the rebels, was enough to deter him from making the
attempt.

After a march of two weeks, during which he suffered more than he had
thought it possible for him to endure, they arrived at Shreveport.
Here they encamped for the night, with the understanding that they
were to start for Tyler--which was one hundred and ten miles further
on--early the next morning. Frank concluded that he had walked about
far enough. "If I intend to escape," he soliloquized, "I might as well
start from here as from Tyler. I'll play off sick, and see if I can't
get them to leave me here; and then, as soon as I become strong enough
to travel, I'll be missed some fine day."

Accordingly, the next morning, when the prisoners were ordered to
"fall in," Frank did not stir; and, when the sergeant came to arouse
him, he appeared to be in the greatest agony. So well did he play his
part, that the doctor declared that it was impossible for him to go
on; and he was accordingly left behind. As soon as the prisoners
had gone, he was carried to the hospital, which was a large brick
building, standing on the outskirts of the town. The lower floor was
used as a barrack for the soldiers who guarded the building, and the
upper rooms as a hospital and guard-house. Frank found about fifteen
Federal soldiers, and as many rebels, who were confined for various
offenses, principally desertion.

Frank soon became acquainted with his fellow-prisoners, and the
stories they told of their treatment made the cold sweat start out all
over him; but when he spoke of escape, he was surprised to find that
there was not one among them who dared to make the attempt. But this
did not alter his determination. He resolved that, rather than
remain in prison, he would go alone. He grew stronger every day, and
succeeded in securing a pair of shoes, and a compass, for which he
gave the last shirt he had. His determination was to take to the
woods, until he had escaped pursuit, and then strike for Red River.
He knew that this route would bring him out a good distance below
Vicksburg, but still it would be easier and safer than traveling
across the country; and he hoped that the rebel stronghold would be
taken by the time he reached the Mississippi River.

Finally, one dark night--after he had well matured his plans--he
concluded to make the trial. So, waiting until every one in the room
appeared to be asleep--for he had been told that there were some who
must know nothing of his intention--he carefully raised one of the
windows, and looked out. He had made all his observations beforehand,
and knew that the window was about twenty feet above the ground. He
had tried in vain to obtain a rope strong enough to assist him in his
descent; and his only alternative was, to hang by his hands and "drop"
to the ground, where, he hoped, aided by the darkness, to escape the
fire of the guards.

He was crawling noiselessly out of the window, when he was startled by
the creaking of the stairs, as if some one was descending them; and,
at the same time, hasty footsteps sounded under the window. Frank saw
that he had been discovered, and, hastily climbing back into the room,
he closed the window and threw himself on the floor, and appeared to
be fast asleep.

"Very well done!" exclaimed an officer, who suddenly appeared at the
top of the stairs. "Very well done, indeed. Now, you young Yankee,
I don't want to see you try that move again. If you do, I shall be
obliged to shoot you. Do you understand?"

Frank replied in the affirmative; and the officer, after satisfying
himself that the prisoners were all in the room, went below again,
leaving a guard at the head of the stairs, who kept a close watch upon
Frank until morning.

He was a good deal annoyed and perplexed at the unsuccessful
termination of his adventure; but he could not make up his mind what
it was that had led to his discovery. Still, he was not discouraged;
but, in spite of the officer's warning, determined to renew his
attempt at escape, as soon as an opportunity was offered.

The next day, while he was eating his scanty dinner, the lieutenant
in charge of the prisoners came in, and, as was his custom, began to
argue with them as to the probable termination of the war. Frank
had always hoped that he would let him alone, for the lieutenant
invariably became enraged if the prisoners endeavored to uphold their
Government.

"Well, young man," he exclaimed, walking up to Frank, "how do you get
along?"

"As well as can be expected, I suppose," answered Frank.

"How do you relish being a prisoner? Are you not sorry that you ever
took up arms against us?"

"No, I am not," answered Frank, indignantly, "You'll have to fight me
again, as soon as I get out of this scrape."

"What made you come down here to fight us?"

"Because I thought you needed a good drubbing."

"Well, we haven't had it yet;" said the lieutenant, stroking his
moustache. "Why didn't you take Fort Pemberton? You got the worst of
it there. We sunk the Ticonderoga."

"Oh, yes," answered Frank, with a sneer, "no doubt of it. But, on the
whole, I think you had better tell that to the marines."

"You don't believe it, then! Well, how do you think this war is going
to end?"

"Now, see here," said Frank, "I wish you would travel on, and let
me alone. I am a prisoner, and in your power; and I don't want to be
abused for speaking my mind; for, if I answer your questions at all, I
shall say just what I think."

"That is what I like," said the lieutenant. "You need not be afraid to
speak your mind freely. Now, tell me, how do you think this struggle
will end?"

"There is only one way for it to end, and that is in your
subjugation."

"But what is your object in fighting us?"

"To preserve the Union!"

"You're a liar!" shouted the lieutenant. "You're fighting to free the
niggers."

"Well, have it your own way," answered Frank. "But, if I'm a liar,
you're a gentleman, so take it and go on. You need not ask me any more
questions, for I shan't answer them."

The lieutenant muttered something about hanging every Yankee he could
catch if he could have his own way, and moved away; and Frank was left
to finish his dinner in peace.

That afternoon, a soldier, whose name was Cabot, came and sat down
beside Frank, and inquired:

"Didn't you try to escape last night?"

"Yes, but I was discovered."

"You would not have been, if one of our own men hadn't split on you."

"What!" exclaimed Frank, "you don't pretend to say that a Federal
soldier was mean enough to inform against me?"

"Yes, I do; and there he stands now." And, as Cabot spoke, he pointed
to a tall, hard-featured man standing by the window, looking out
into the street. "I slept at the head of the stairs last night, and
distinctly heard him tell the guards that you were intending to leave.
His name is Bishop, and he belongs to the Thirtieth Maine Regiment. He
has for some time past been trying to be allowed to take the oath of
allegiance to the South." [Footnote: A fact.]

"What will he do then?" inquired Frank; "go into the rebel army?"

"No, but he could be employed here in the arsenal, making bullets to
kill our own men with."

"The scoundrel!" exclaimed Frank, indignantly; "I didn't suppose there
was a man from my own State who could be guilty of such meanness."

"He is mean enough for any thing. Haven't you noticed that every night
he comes around through our quarters with a candle?"

"Yes; but I don't know what he does it for."

"Well, he counts us every night before he goes to sleep, and, in fact,
comes through our room two or three times in the night, to see that
none of us have escaped. He hopes in that manner to gain favor with
the rebels. I have told you this, in order that you may look out for
him the next time you try to escape."

Frank was astounded at this intelligence, and, at first, he did not
believe it. But that evening, about nine o'clock, Bishop came in, as
usual, with his candle, and Frank inquired:

"What made you tell the guard that I was going to escape last night?"

The question was asked so suddenly--and in a manner which showed
Bishop that Frank was well acquainted with his treachery--that he
dared not deny the charge, and he answered:

"Because, when any of our boys escape, the guards are awful hard on
those of us that are left."

"That's no excuse at all," answered Frank. "If you were a man, you
would have endeavored to escape long ago, instead of staying here
and trying to make friends with the enemies of your country. You're
a black-hearted scoundrel and traitor! and I tell you, once for all,
that if you ever come into my quarters again after dark, you'll never
go out alive. We all know about your operations here."

Bishop made no reply, but turned to walk on, when Frank rose to his
feet, and exclaimed:

"Hold on, here! you are not going through this room with that candle.
Go back instantly where you belong, and don't show your face in here
again."

Bishop saw that Frank was in earnest, and, without saying a word, he
turned and walked into his quarters.

Frank had a twofold object in talking to him as he did. He wanted to
let him know that his fellow-prisoners all knew what he had done, and
he wished, also, to deter him from coming into that room again, as he
had determined to make another attempt at escape that very night. The
traitor had no sooner disappeared than Frank descended the stairs that
led down into the hall, at the foot of which there were two guards
posted.

"Hallo, Yank!" said one of them, as Frank came down, "I reckon as
how you had better travel right back up sta'rs agin, 'cause it's agin
orders to 'low you fellers to come down here a'ter dark."

"I know it is," answered Frank; "but it is so awful hot up stairs that
I can't stand it. You'll let me stay down here long enough to cool off
a little, won't you?"

"Wal," answered the guard, who really seemed to be a kind-hearted
fellow, "I reckon as how you mought stay here a minit; but you mustn't
stay no longer."

"All right," answered Frank; and he seated himself on the lower step,
and talked with the guards until he was informed that it was high time
he was "travelin' back up sta'rs."

"Very well," answered Frank, rising to his feet, and stretching
himself, "I'll go, if you want me to."

And he _did_ go. With one bound he dashed by the astonished guards,
and, before they could fire a shot, he had disappeared in the
darkness.

His escape had been accomplished much easier than he had anticipated.
He had expected at least a shot from the guards, and, perhaps, a
struggle with them; for, when he left his quarters, he had determined
to escape, or die in the attempt. In a few moments he reached the
bushes that lined the road on both sides, and threw himself flat among
them, and determined to wait until his pursuers had passed on, so that
he would be on their trail, instead of having them on his. It was well
that he had adopted this precaution, for he had scarcely concealed
himself before the roll of a drum announced that the guards were being
aroused, and that the pursuit was about to commence; and presently a
squad of cavalry dashed rapidly by, and a crashing in the bushes told
him that a party of men were searching the woods for him. As soon
as his pursuers were out of hearing, Frank rose to his feet, and ran
along the road, close to the bushes, so that, if he heard any one
approaching, he would have a place of concealment close at hand. He
had made, perhaps, half a mile in this way, when he discovered a man
pacing up and down the road, with a musket on his shoulder. He was
evidently a picket; and Frank, knowing that his comrades were not far
off, drew back into the bushes, out of sight. Which way should he go
now? This was a question which he could not answer satisfactorily.
There was, doubtless, another picket-post not far off, and if, in
going through the woods, he should stumble upon it, he would be shot
down before he had a chance for flight. Should he attempt to pass the
sentinel by strategy? This seemed to be the most feasible plan, for he
would have a much better chance to escape in running by one man, than
risking the shots of half a dozen. Besides, he had no weapon whatever,
and he resolved to secure the picket's gun, if possible; so, waiting
until his back was turned, he came out of his place of concealment,
and approached him.

"Who comes there?" shouted the picket.

"A friend," answered Frank.

"Advance, friend, and give the countersign."

"Never mind the countersign," answered Frank; "I haven't got it. Have
you seen any thing of an escaped Yankee prisoner out here?"

"No," answered the rebel, lowering his gun, which he had held at a
charge bayonet. "He didn't come around here. But a company of cavalry
went by just now, and my relief went with them."

"And left you here alone?" said Frank, who had continued to approach
the picket, until he was now within arm's length of him.

"Yes," answered the rebel; "and I think it is a pretty way to do
business, for it is time I was"--

He never finished the sentence; for Frank sprang upon him like a
tiger, and seizing his throat, with a powerful gripe, threw him to the
ground; and, hastily catching up the musket which had fallen from his
enemy's hand, dealt him a severe blow on the head. The muscles of
the rebel instantly relaxed; and Frank--after unbuckling his
cartridge-box, and fastening it to his own waist--shouldered his
musket, and ran boldly along the road. He traveled until almost
daylight, without seeing any one, and then turned off into the woods.

About noon, he came to a road, and, as he was crossing it, a bullet
whistled past him, and, the next moment, a party of rebels, whom he
had not noticed, dashed down the road in pursuit. Frank returned the
shot, and then started for the woods, loading his musket as he went.
He soon had the satisfaction of seeing that he was gaining on his
pursuers, and, although the bullets whizzed by his head in unpleasant
proximity, he escaped unhurt. The rebels, however, were not so
fortunate; for Frank fired as fast as he could load his gun, and at
every shot a rebel measured his length on the ground.

For almost two hours his pursuers remained within gun-shot; but
finding it impossible to capture him, or, perhaps, struck with terror
at his skill as a marksman, they abandoned the pursuit. This was a
lucky circumstance for Frank, for, to his astonishment and terror, he
discovered that his last cartridge had been expended. But still, he
was rejoicing over his escape, when a man rose out of the bushes,
close at his side, and seized him by the collar.



CHAPTER XIII.

The Faithful Negro.


"Wal, now, I'll be dog-gone, but you are lively on your legs, for a
little one," exclaimed the rebel, with a laugh. "But you're a safe
Yank now."

"Not yet, I ain't," answered Frank. "I want you to understand that
it's my principle never to surrender without a fight;" and, suddenly
exerting all his strength, he tore himself away from his captor,
leaving part of his collar in his grasp.

The rebel was taken completely by surprise, for he had supposed that
Frank would surrender without a struggle; but the latter brought his
musket to a charge bayonet, in a way that showed he was in earnest.
The rebel was the better armed, carrying a neat sporting rifle, to
which was attached a long, sharp saber-bayonet. Frank noticed this
difference, but resolutely stood his ground, and, as he was very
expert in the bayonet exercise, and as his enemy appeared to be but
very little his superior in strength and agility, he had no fear as to
the result of the conflict.

At length the rebel, after eyeing his youthful antagonist for a
moment, commenced maneuvering slowly, intending, if possible, to draw
him out. But Frank stood entirely on the defensive; failing in this
mode of attack, the rebel began to grow excited, and became quicker
in his movements. But his efforts were useless, for Frank--although
a little pale, which showed that he knew the struggle must end in the
death of one or the other of them--did not retreat an inch, but coolly
parried every thrust made by his infuriated enemy, with the skill of a
veteran. The rebel was again obliged to change his plan of attack, and
commenced by rushing furiously upon Frank, endeavoring to beat down
his guard by mere strength. But this proved his ruin; for Frank met
him promptly at all points, and, watching the moment when the rebel
carelessly opened his guard, he sprang forward and buried his bayonet
to the hilt in his breast. The thrust was mortal, and the rebel threw
his arms above his head, and sank to the ground without a groan.

"I believe he's done for," said Frank to himself; and he stepped up to
take a nearer look at his enemy. There he lay, his pale face upturned,
and the blood running from an ugly wound in the region of his heart.
"I do believe he _is_ dead," repeated Frank, with a shudder, as
he gazed sorrowfully at he work he had done. "But there was no
alternative between his death and a long confinement in prison. It was
done in self-defense;" and he turned to walk away.

Just then the thought struck him that he would take the rebel's
gun; his own was worse than useless, for his cartridges had all been
expended. So, throwing down his heavy musket, he picked up the rifle
his enemy had carried, and, slinging the powder-horn and bullet-pouch
over his shoulder, he started off through the woods.

But where should he go? His escape, and the manner in which it was
accomplished, had doubtless aroused the entire country. The woods
around him were filled with rebels, and the question was, in which
direction should he turn to avoid them? After some hesitation, he
determined to go as directly through the woods, toward the river, as
possible, and, if discovered, trust to his woodcraft and swiftness of
foot to save him. With this determination, he shouldered his rifle and
walked rapidly on, taking care, however, to keep a good look-out on
all sides, and to make as little noise as possible. All sounds of the
pursuit had died away, and the woods were as silent as midnight. But
even this was a source of fear to Frank; for he knew not what tree or
thicket concealed an enemy, nor how soon the stillness would be broken
by the crack of a rifle and the whistle of a hostile bullet.

At length the sun went down, and it began to grow dark; but still
Frank walked on, wishing to get as far away from the scene of the
fight as possible. Presently he heard a sound that startled him: it
was the clatter of horses' hoofs, on a hard, well-beaten road. Nearer
and nearer came the sound, and, in a few moments, a company of cavalry
passed by, and Frank could distinctly hear them laughing and talking
with each other.

When they were out of hearing, he paused to deliberate. It was evident
that he could not travel through those deep woods at night; should he
wait until it became dark, and then boldly follow the road, or should
he remain where he was until morning? There was one great objection
to the first proposition, and that was his uniform, and the danger he
would run of being captured by the night patrol, which he knew were
stationed at intervals along the road. It did not seem possible for
him to remain where he was; for now, that he had partly got over
his excitement, he began to feel the cravings of hunger; in fact,
it almost rendered him desperate, and he began to wish that he had
surrendered without a struggle, or that he had not attempted to
escape at all, for, if he were a prisoner, he could probably obtain
sufficient food to keep him from starving. But he knew that his time
was too precious to be wasted with such foolish thoughts; besides,
when he thought of home and his mother, who had evidently heard of his
capture, all ideas of surrendering himself vanished, and he felt
that he could endure any thing, even starvation, if he only had the
assurance that he would see home once more. But he knew that wishing
would not bring him out of his present difficulty: he must work
for his liberty; do every thing in his power, and leave the rest to
Providence.

He started out again, and determined that his first step should be to
reconnoiter the road. No one was in sight; but, about a quarter of a
mile down the road, on the other side, was a large plantation-house,
with its neat negro quarters clustering around it, and looking
altogether like a little village. He knew that some of the cabins were
inhabited, for he saw the smoke wreathing out of the chimneys; could
he not go to one of them, and obtain food? He had often heard of
escaped prisoners being fed and sheltered by the negroes; why could
not he throw himself under their protection? He must have something to
satisfy his hunger; and if he could but gain the woods on the opposite
side of the road, it would require but a few moments to reach the
house. He determined to try it. Glancing hastily up and down the road,
he clutched his rifle desperately, and started. A few rapid steps
carried him across the road; he cleared the fence at a bound, and was
out of sight, in the bushes, in a moment. He immediately started for
the nearest cabin and, in a few moments, came to a stand-still in a
thicket of bushes just behind it. There was some one in the cabin, for
he could see a light shining through the cracks between the logs; and
he distinctly heard the music of a violin, and a voice singing:

  "The sun shines bright in my ole Kentucky home"--

But still he hesitated to advance; his courage had failed him. What,
if the negro--for he was certain it was a negro in the cabin--should
betray him? What if--His reverie was suddenly interrupted by the
approach of a horseman on the road. Presently a rebel officer rode
leisurely by. When he arrived opposite the house, a man, who was
sitting on the portico, and whom Frank had not noticed, hailed the
horseman, who drew in his rein, and stopped.

"Have you caught them all yet?" inquired the man on the portico.

"No," answered the officer; "not yet. One of them gave us the slip; a
little fellow; belongs to the gun-boats. He's around here somewhere;
but we'll have him to-morrow, for he can't escape. If he comes around
here, and you think there is any chance to take him alive, just send
down to the Forks for us. If not, you had better shoot him. I wouldn't
advise you to meddle with him much, however, for he's a dead shot, and
fights like a cuss."

"Did he kill any of the boys?" asked the man on the portico.

"Yes; he killed Bill Richards, who was on guard at the time he
escaped, and stole his musket and cartridge-box. I suppose you heard
of that. And then, when we got after him, he ran through the woods
like a deer, loading his gun as he went, and every time he turned
around, somebody had to drop. Finally, old Squire Davis's son overtook
him, and they had a regular hand-to-hand fight; but the little one, as
usual, came out at the top of the heap."

"Did he kill young Davis?"

"Yes, as dead as a smelt; stuck a bayonet clean through his heart. But
I must be going. Keep an eye out for him!"

"All right," answered the man on the portico; and the horseman rode
off.

What Frank's feelings were, as he lay there in the bushes, and
listened to this conversation--every word of which he overheard--we
will not attempt to say. But it showed him that his enemies feared
him, and dreaded to meet him single-handed; and that, if he were
retaken, his life would not be worth a moment's purchase. He had all
along been perfectly aware that his case was desperate, and that he
had undertaken something at which many a person, with twice his years
and experience, would have hesitated. His condition seemed utterly
hopeless. He had never before realized his danger, or what would be
his fate if he were captured; but now all the difficulties before him
seemed to stand out in bold relief. Yet this knowledge did not act
upon him as with some persons; it only nerved him for yet greater
exertions, and with a determination to brave every danger before him.

When the horseman had disappeared, and the man on the portico had
returned to his seat, Frank again turned his attention to the cabin.
After putting a new cap on his rifle, he threw it into the hollow of
his arm, and crawled noiselessly out of his place of concealment.
When he reached the cabin, he raised to his feet, boldly ascended the
steps, and knocked at the door, intending, if his demand for food was
not instantly complied with, to take it by force.

"Who dar?" inquired a voice from the inside.

Frank made no reply, but was about to repeat the summons, when the
door was thrown open, and an old, gray-headed negro woman appeared
before him. Frank was about to make known his wants, when the woman,
who had thrown the door wide open, to allow the light to fall upon
him, exclaimed:

"Why, de Lor' A'mighty bress us! Come in, chile. What is you standin'
out dar for? Come in, I tol' you." And Frank was seized by the arm and
pulled into the cabin, and the door was closed carefully behind him.

"Stop dat 'ar fiddlin', ole man," continued the woman, addressing
herself to an aged negro, who was seated in an easy chair in the
chimney corner; "stop dat 'ar fiddlin', an' git up an' give young
massa dat cheer."

"I don't wish to give you any trouble," said Frank. "I'm not the least
bit tired; but I would like something to eat."

"No trouble 't all, chile," said the old woman. "Now, don't you go
talkin' 'bout trouble, I knows who you is. Set down dar." And the old
woman pointed to the chair which the man had vacated. "I'll give you
somethin' to eat, right away. Pomp, ole man, git up an' cut some
o' dat ham;" and the woman bustled about in a state of considerable
excitement.

Frank hid his rifle behind a coat which hung in one corner of the
cabin, and was about to take possession of the chair, when hasty steps
were heard on the walk leading to the cabin.

"Gorry mighty!" exclaimed the old negro, in alarm, "dar come de
oberseer. Git under the bed--quick, young massa. You'll be safe
dar--quick."

Frank had hardly time to act upon this suggestion, when the door
suddenly opened, and a shaggy head appeared.

"Haven't you had your supper yet, Pomp, you black rascal?" inquired
the overseer, witnessing the preparations for cooking that were going
on.

"I's only been home a few minutes, massa," answered Pomp.

"Well, hurry up, then. I came here," continued the overseer, "to tell
you that there is a Yankee prowling around here somewhere; if he comes
here, I want you to send for me. Do you understand?"

"Yes, massa," answered Pomp.

"Don't you feed him, or do any thing else for him," continued the
overseer. "If you do, I'll whip you to death. Now, mind what I tell
you." And the overseer closed the door, and departed, to carry the
same information and warning to the other cabins.

As soon as the sound of his footsteps had died away, Pomp whispered:

"All right now, young massa. You can come out now--no danger. The
oberseer won't come to dis house g'in dis night."

Frank, accordingly, crawled out from under the bed, and seated himself
in the easy chair, while the old woman went on with her cooking. In
a few minutes, which seemed an age to Frank, however, the meal, which
consisted of coffee, made of parched corn, ham, honey, and corn-bread,
was ready. Frank thought he had never eaten so good a meal before. He
forgot the danger of his situation, and listened to the conversation
of the old negro and his wife, as though there was not a rebel within
a hundred miles of him.

"There," he exclaimed, after he had finished the last piece of
corn-bread, and pushed his chair back from the table, "I believe I've
eaten supper enough to satisfy any two men living."

"Has yer had enough, chile?" asked the old woman. "I's glad to see yer
eat. I wants to do all I can for you Yankee sogers."

"Oh, I've had a great plenty, aunty," answered Frank, as he rose from
the table. "Now, I must bid you good-by," he continued, as he pulled
his rifle out from its hiding-place. "I shall never be able to repay
you; but"--

"Lor' A'mighty, chile!" interrupted the old woman, "whar's you gwine?
You mustn't say one word 'bout gwine out o' dis house _dis_ night.
I's got a bed all fixed for you, an' Pomp will take you up early in de
mornin', an' show you de way fru de swamp."

"Put away dat gun, young massa," chimed in Pomp; "dere's no danger."

Frank could not resist this appeal, for the bed, which the old woman
had made for him in one corner of the cabin, rough as it was, was a
pleasant sight to his eyes. So, after hiding his rifle under one of
the quilts, where he could get his hand upon it at a moment's warning,
he threw himself upon the bed without removing his clothes, and was
fast asleep in a moment. It seemed to him that he had hardly closed
his eyes, when a hand was laid on his shoulder, and Pomp's voice
whispered in his ear:

"Wake up, young massa; 'most daylight."

"You sleep mighty sound, chile," said the old woman, as Frank rose
from the bed. "I's sorry to be 'bilged to 'sturb you, but you must
be gwine now. Here's a little bite for you to eat." As she spoke,
she handed Frank a haversack, such as he had often seen used by the
soldiers of the rebel army, filled with corn-bread and cold ham. Frank
slung it over his shoulder, and, after pulling his rifle out from
under the bed, said:

"Aunty, I thank you for your kindness to"--

"Lor' A'mighty, chile!" interrupted the woman, "don't say one word
'bout dat, I tol' you. I's sorry we can't do more for you; but you
must go away now. May de good Lor' bress you."

The tears rolled down the old woman's cheeks as she said this,
and Frank silently shook her hand, and followed Pomp out into the
darkness.



CHAPTER XIV.

Chased by Blood-Hounds.


The moon had gone down, the stars were hidden by thick, heavy clouds,
and it was so dark that it was impossible to distinguish the nearest
objects. Every thing was as silent as death; but this did not affect
the vigilance of Pomp, who led the way with noiseless steps, pausing,
now and then, to listen. They met with no difficulty, however, and,
in a few moments, the plantation was left behind, and they entered
the swamp. It was a chilly, gloomy place, and the darkness was
impenetrable; but Frank relied implicitly on his guide, who seemed
to understand what he was about, and kept as close behind him as
possible.

For an hour they traveled without speaking; at length Pomp stopped on
the bank of a narrow but deep stream.

"Can you swim, young massa?" he inquired, turning to Frank.

"Yes, like a duck," was the reply.

"I's mighty glad to h'ar it," said Pomp, "'cause den you're safe. But
I's been mighty oneasy 'bout it, 'cause, if you can't swim, you're
kotched, shore. Now," he continued, "I must leave you here, 'cause I
don't want to let any one know dat I's been away from de plantation.
You must cross dis creek, and foller dat road," pointing to a narrow,
well-beaten bridle-path on the opposite bank, "an' dat will lead you
straight to de Red Ribber. You must keep a good watch, now, 'cause
you'll h'ar something 'fore long dat'll make you wish you had nebber
been born. I's heered it often, an' I knows what it is. Good-by; an'
de Lor' bress an' protect you;" and, before Frank could speak, Pomp
had disappeared.

Alone! The young hero had never before comprehended the full meaning
of that single word, as he did now. Alone, in an almost unbroken
forest, which was filled with enemies, who were thirsting for his
blood; with no one to whom he could go for advice or assistance. Is it
to be wondered that he felt lonely and discouraged?

He looked back to the scenes through which he had passed: the fight;
his capture; the long, weary march, under a burning sun; his treatment
in the prison, the escape, and the pursuit; the hand-to-hand struggle
in the woods; all came up vividly before him, and he wondered how he
had escaped unhurt; and, then, what had the future in store for him?
The warning of the faithful Pomp was still ringing in his ears, and
a dread of impending evil, which he could not shake off, continually
pressed upon him. For the first time since his escape, Frank was
completely unnerved. Seating himself on the ground, he covered his
face with his hands, and cried like a child.

But this burst of weakness did not continue long, for he did not
forget that he was still in danger. Hastily dashing the tears from his
eyes, he rose to his feet, and prepared to cross the stream. Holding
his rifle and ammunition above his head with one hand, he swam with
the other, reached the opposite bank in safety, and followed the path
into the swamp. A mile further on, he came to another stream, and
was making preparations to cross it, when he was startled by a voice,
which sounded from the opposite bank:

"Who goesh dere?"

Instead of replying to the challenge, Frank sprang behind a tree, and,
looking across the stream, discovered a tall, powerfully-built man,
dressed in "butternut" clothes, holding his rifle in the hollow of his
arm. In an instant Frank's gun was at his shoulder, and his finger was
already pressing the trigger, when the man exclaimed:

"What for you shoot? I be a friend."

Frank, although fearful of treachery, lowered his gun, and the
Dutchman, moving out of the bushes, leaned on his rifle, and inquired:

"Where you go? I guess you been a gun-boat feller; ain't it?"

"Yes," answered Frank, "I once belonged to a gun-boat. But who are
you?"

"Me? Oh, I was a captain in the army. Sherman gets licked at
Wicksburg, an' I gets took brisoner; an' purty quick me an' anoder
feller runs away. Here he is;" and, as the Dutchman spoke, a man
wearing a shabby Confederate uniform appeared.

Frank's mind was made up in an instant. Beyond a doubt this was but
a stratagem to capture him. But he resolved that he would never
surrender, as long as he had sufficient strength to handle his rifle.

"Well, my young friend," exclaimed the man in the rebel uniform, "this
is a nice dress for a Federal officer to be wearing, isn't it?"

"I don't believe that either of you are officers in the Federal army,"
answered Frank. "It's my opinion that you are both rebels. If it is
your intention to attempt to capture me, I may as well tell you that
your expectations will never be realized, for I shall never be taken
alive;" and Frank handled the lock of his gun in a very significant
manner.

"I admire your grit," said the man, "and I acknowledge that you have
strong grounds for suspicion. But we are really escaped prisoners."

"Yah," chimed in the Dutchman, "I shwear dat is so."

"It is no fault of ours," continued the man, "that we are wearing
rebel uniforms; for we were compelled to exchange with our captors,
and were obliged to accept these, or go without any."

"What regiment do you belong to?"

"The One Hundred and Twenty-ninth Illinois Infantry, Company 'K.' I
formerly belonged to the Forty-sixth Maine."

"Do you know any of the boys belonging to Company 'B,' of the
Forty-sixth Maine Regiment?"

"Oh, yes," replied the man, "I know Harry and George Butler, Ben Lake,
and, in fact, all the boys; for I once belonged to that very company.
My home is only twenty miles from Lawrence, the place where the
company was raised."

Frank did not stop to ask any more questions, for he was satisfied
that he had fallen in with friends. How his heart bounded at meeting
one who had lived so near his own home! He hastily crossed the stream,
and, seizing the man's hand, shook it heartily.

"I am overjoyed at meeting with you, sir," he said, in a voice choked
with emotion. "Perhaps I owe you an apology; but you will acknowledge
that it is best to be on the safe side."

"Certainly it is," answered the man. "I should have done exactly as
you did, if I had been in your place. But where are you travelling
to?"

"I want to reach Red River, as soon as possible."

"So do we! But we have lost our reckoning, and don't know which way to
go."

"I do," said Frank. "This path leads directly to it."

They did not linger long to converse--time was too precious for
that--but immediately struck into the path, Frank leading the way.
He soon learned that the names of his newly-found friends were Major
Williams and Captain Schmidt. They had been captured, with two hundred
others, at the battle of Vicksburg, and had escaped while being taken
into Texas. They had accomplished, perhaps, half a dozen miles from
the place where they met, when the breeze bore to their ears a sound
that made Frank turn as pale as death, and tremble as though suddenly
seized with a fit of the ague. They all heard it; but he was the only
one who knew what it was.

"What ish dat, ony how?" coolly inquired the captain.

Before Frank could reply, the fearful sound was repeated, faint and
far off, but still nearer than before.

"Merciful heavens!" ejaculated the major, who now understood their
situation; "is it possible you don't know what that sound is? _It is
the cry of a blood-hound!_"

"Oh, yah!" exclaimed the captain, as though the idea had suddenly come
into his head, "I did think it vas a dorg."

"Push ahead now, boys, for Heaven's sake!" exclaimed the major. "Push
ahead as fast as possible."

The captain evidently did not comprehend the danger of their
situation; but Frank and the major knew that their lives depended
upon the next few moments. Oh, how thankful was Frank that he was not
alone! He now knew the meaning of Pomp's warning; and the dreadful
sound had so unnerved him, that it was with great difficulty he could
keep on his way. But this lasted only for a moment. His fear changed
to indignation, and a desire to execute vengeance on men who could be
guilty of such barbarity. It seemed as though the strength of a dozen
men was suddenly infused into him; so, shouldering his rifle, he ran
along the path with a speed that made it difficult for the Dutchman
to keep pace with him. But, fast as they went, the fearful sound grew
louder and louder; and, finally, they distinctly heard the clatter of
horses' hoofs, and voices cheering on the dogs.

"Hurry on, for mercy's sake," said the major.

"Mine Gott in Himmel!" ejaculated the captain, who was puffing and
blowing like a porpoise; "I can't run no faster. I guess it's petter
we stops and fights 'em, ain't it? I been not a good feller to run!"

"You _must_ run a little further," said Frank. "We will certainly be
captured, if we stop to fight them here."

The captain made no reply, but kept along as close behind the major as
possible. Frank's swiftness of foot was standing him well in hand now,
for he frequently found himself obliged to slacken his pace, in order
to allow his friends to come up with him. But his usual confidence
was gone. He knew he could not stand that rapid pace much longer.
Soon they must stop and fight; and what if the dogs, which would,
undoubtedly, be some distance in advance of the horsemen, should
overpower them? Frank had often read of the ferocity of these
blood-hounds, and the thought of being pulled down and torn to pieces
by them in those dark woods, and the knowledge that his mother and
sister would forever remain ignorant of his fate, was terrible.
Suddenly, an abrupt bend in the path brought them to the banks of
another of those narrow streams with which the country was intersected
like a net-work. What a cheering sight it was to Frank's eyes! He
now saw some chance for escape; and, without hesitating a moment, he
plunged into the water. The others were close at his heels, and a few
bold strokes brought them to the opposite shore.

"Here we are," said the major. "Our chance for escape is rather slim,
but we will make a stand here."

They had scarcely concealed themselves in the bushes, when one of the
hounds appeared on the bank. He was followed by another, and still
another, until eight of the terrible animals were in sight. They
followed the trail of the fugitives down to the edge of the water,
where, finding themselves at fault, they separated, and commenced
beating up and down the bank, now and then looking toward the opposite
shore, and uttering their bays, which sounded in Frank's ears like the
knell of death.

"I pelieve I shoots one of them dorgs, ain't it?" said the captain;
and he thrust his rifle cautiously through the bushes.

"No, no," commanded the major, "save your ammunition. The men will be
here in a minute. Here they come now." And, as he spoke, there was a
loud crashing in the bushes, and four horsemen came in sight.

"Thunder!" exclaimed one of them, who wore the uniform of a colonel,
"I was in hopes we should catch the rascal before he reached this
place. Here, Tige," he continued, addressing a powerful white hound,
"hunt 'em up, hunt 'em up!"

The hound ran down to the edge of the stream, and barked and whined
furiously, but still hesitated to enter; for hounds are always averse
to going into water.

"Hunt 'em up, sir!" shouted the colonel, angrily.

The dog, evidently, feared his master more than the water, for he
plunged in, and commenced swimming toward the place where Frank
and his companions were concealed; and the others, after a little
hesitation, followed him.

"Ready, now, boys," whispered the major. "Captain, you shoot that
white hound. Frank, you take the colonel, and I'll attend to the man
just behind him. Don't waste your lead now."

The three rifles cracked in rapid succession, and the colonel and one
of his men fell heavily from their saddles. The white hound gave one
short howl of pain, and sank out of sight. Every shot had reached its
mark.

The remaining rebels stood aghast at this sudden repulse; and the
smoke of the rifles had scarcely cleared away, when they wheeled their
horses, and disappeared in the woods.

The death of the white hound produced no less consternation among his
canine assistants, for they each gave a short yelp, and turned and
made for the shore.



CHAPTER XV.

The Rescue.


"Now's our time, boys," exclaimed the major; "come on, and load your
guns as you run;" and he started rapidly down the path.

All sounds of the rebels were soon left behind; but our party kept on
their way, until they emerged from the woods, and found themselves in
full view of a plantation.

"I pelieve somebody lives in that house," exclaimed the captain,
drawing back in the bushes.

"No doubt of it," answered the major.

"Let's move back into the woods a little further, and eat some
dinner," said Frank; and he turned to walk away, and felt for the
haversack the negro woman had given him. But it seemed that he was
destined to disappointment, for the haversack was gone.

During all the perils he had encountered that day, he had been buoyed
up by the thought that he had food sufficient to last him for a day
or two, and that he was in no danger of suffering the pangs of hunger.
But now his spirits fell again to zero.

"How unfortunate!" he exclaimed. "But it's just my luck."

"Yes, it is too bad," said the major; "for now we shall be obliged to
run the risk of being captured, in order to procure food. But let us
move on, and get as far away from this place as possible."

Frank silently shouldered his rifle, and followed the major, who
threaded his way along in the edge of the woods, taking care to keep
out of sight of any one who might be in the house. They kept on until
dark, and then halted in the rear of another plantation, to hold a
consultation relative to the manner in which they should obtain food.

"Well," said the major, "we must have something to eat, that's
certain; and the only way I can think of, is to draw lots to see who
shall go up to the house after it. It is a dangerous undertaking, but
that is the fairest way to see who shall run the risk;" and the major
selected three sticks of different lengths, and continued, as he held
them out to Frank, in his closed hand, "Now, the one that draws the
shortest stick must go to the house and procure us some food."

Frank drew first, then the captain, and the major took the one that
was left. The lot fell upon Frank.

"Now," said the major, as he shook Frank's hand, "be careful of
yourself, my friend. We will remain here until you return. When you
get into the woods give two low whistles, that we may know that it is
you. Good-by."

Frank silently returned the pressure of the major's hand, and moved
away. He climbed over the fence that ran between the woods and the
plantation, and walked fearlessly toward the house. He was not at all
pleased with the part he had to perform, for he remembered the danger
he had run the night before; but his determination was to do his duty,
and trust to his skill to carry him safely through.

He shaped his course toward the negro quarters, which were in the
rear of the house; but he soon discovered that these were entirely
deserted. He carefully examined all the cabins, in hopes of finding
a hen-roost, but in vain. His only alternative was to try the house.
There was a light shining in the window, and Frank determined to
reconnoiter the premises, and, if possible, learn who were in the
house, before asking admittance. With this intention he shouldered
his rifle, and was about to move forward, when he was startled by the
sound of horses' hoofs behind him, and a voice exclaimed:

"Hullo, my friend! Have you an extra bed in the house, for a soldier?"

Frank turned, and found that the horseman was so close to him that
flight was impossible. His first impulse was to shoot him where he
sat; but he was still ignorant of the number of persons there might be
in the house. Perhaps it was filled with soldiers. The report of
his gun would certainly alarm them, and might lead to his capture.
Besides, the man had addressed him as though he were the proprietor of
the plantation; perhaps he might be able to obtain some information.
So he answered, with some hesitation:

"Yes, I suppose there is an extra bed in the house; but I should
really like to know who and what you are, before I agree to
accommodate you."

"I am Lieutenant Somers," answered the rebel; "and I belong to the
Seventeenth Georgia Infantry. You belong to the army too, do you not?"
he continued, noticing the brass buttons on Frank's coat.

It was a lucky circumstance for the young hero that the night was so
dark, or he would certainly have been discovered.

"Yes," he answered, in reply to the rebel's question, "I am in the
service. But what are you doing around here this time of night?"

"I have been hunting after an escaped Yankee prisoner--a gun-boat
officer."

"Did you catch him?" inquired Frank.

"No; but I caught two others. I chased this gun-boat fellow with
blood-hounds; but when I overtook him, I found that he had been
reinforced by half a dozen others, and I was obliged to retreat. The
scoundrels killed Colonel Acklen and one of his men, and the best
blood-hound in Louisiana."

"Where are the prisoners you captured?" inquired Frank, hardly able
to suppress his exultation at finding himself face to face with one of
the men who had hunted him with blood-hounds.

"Oh, I left them at the back of the plantation, one of my men is
keeping guard over them; but there is scarcely any need of that, for
the Yankees are securely bound."

"They are, eh!" exclaimed Frank, who could restrain himself no longer.
"Well, here is a Yankee who is not bound, and never intends to be;"
and he raised his rifle to his shoulder, and glanced along the
clean, brown barrel. "I am the gun-boat fellow you were pursuing
with blood-hounds. So, if you wish to live five minutes longer, don't
attempt to make any resistance."

The rebel was taken so completely by surprise that he could not utter
a word, but sat on his horse as motionless and dumb as though he had
been suddenly turned into a statue.

"Come down off that horse!" commanded his captor.

The rebel obeyed, without hesitation.

"Now, have you got any dangerous weapons about you?" inquired Frank.
"Tell the truth, now, for your life isn't worth a picayune."

"Yes," answered the rebel, "I have a revolver and a Bowie-knife;" and
he raised his hand to his breast pocket.

"Hands down! hands down!" exclaimed Frank; "I want to examine your
pockets myself;" and he stepped forward and relieved the rebel of a
Bowie-knife, a revolver, several cartridges, a flint and steel,
and some papers. These, with the exception of the revolver, he laid
carefully on the ground, and placed his rifle beside them. "Now,"
continued Frank, "it would be a great accommodation if you would trade
uniforms with me. The people in this part of the country don't seem to
like Uncle Sam's clothes very well. Come out of that coat."

The rebel hesitated to obey.

"Come out of that coat, Lieutenant Somers," repeated Frank, slowly;
and he raised his revolver until it was on a line with his captive's
head.

The sight of his own weapon, whose qualities he probably knew full
well, brought the rebel to his senses, and he quickly divested himself
of his coat.

"Now, pull off those pants," commanded his captor.

The rebel obeyed; and Frank continued, as he divested himself of his
own clothes: "Now, if you wish, you can put on these."

The rebel had no other alternative, and he slowly donned the naval
uniform, while Frank quickly converted himself into a fine-looking
rebel lieutenant. He then carefully pocketed the articles which he had
taken from the rebel, with the exception of the papers.

"What are these?" he inquired.

"The one in the brown envelope is my appointment, and the others are
orders to take my company and act as scouts."

The latter were just what Frank wanted.

"Now," said Frank, going up to the horse, which had stood patiently
by, "I have one more favor to ask of you, you mean, sneaking rebel,
and then I am done with you. I want you to show me where you left your
prisoners. But, in the first place, I am going into that house to get
something to eat."

"I hope to thunder that you will be gobbled up," said the lieutenant,
angrily.

"Easy, easy!" exclaimed Frank; "you are talking treason when you wish
evil to befall one of Uncle Sam's boys; and I am not one to stand by
and listen to it; so keep a civil tongue in your head, or I shall be
obliged to put a stopper on your jaw. As I said before," he continued,
"I am going into that house to get some supper; and, as I wish you to
remain here until I come back, I shall take the liberty to tie your
hands and feet. That's the way you serve your prisoners, I believe."

As Frank spoke, he cut the bridle from the horse with his Bowie-knife,
and securely bound the rebel--who submitted to the operation with a
very bad grace--and laid him away, as he would a log of wood, behind
one of the cabins.

"Now, you barbarian," he continued, as he shouldered his rifle, and
thrust the revolver and Bowie-knife into his belt, "you are in the
power of one who has very little love for a man who is guilty of the
cruelty of hunting a fellow-being with blood-hounds; so, if you expect
to live to see daylight, don't make any noise." With this piece of
advice, Frank left his captive, and started for the house.

He walked up the steps that led to the portico, which ran entirely
around the house, and boldly knocked at the door. The summons was
answered by a fine-looking, elderly lady, who, as soon as she saw the
Confederate uniform, exclaimed:

"Good evening, sir; walk in."

Frank followed the lady through the hall, into a large room, whose
only inmates were three young ladies, who rose and bowed as he came
in. He was very much relieved to find that there were no men in the
house.

"Take a chair, sir," said the elderly lady. "Is there any thing we can
do for you?"

"Yes, ma'am," answered Frank. "I am out on a scout with some of my
men, and my provisions have given out. I have taken the liberty to
come here and see if I could not purchase some from you."

"We are glad to see you," said one of the young ladies. "I will have
some food put up for you immediately; and you shall have a nice, warm
supper before you go."

"I am under obligations to you, madam," answered Frank; "but,
really, I can not wait, for I am on the trail of some escaped Yankee
prisoners; and, besides, I always make it a point never to fare better
than the men I command."

"I should like to have you stay," said the elderly lady, whom Frank
set down as the mother of the girls; "but you know your duty better
than we do. I wish all of our officers were as careful of their men,
and as devoted to the cause, as you are. But what regiment do you
belong to?"

"The Seventeenth Georgia," answered Frank.

"Did you catch any of the Yankees you are after?"

"No, ma'am, not yet. But we shall have them before to-morrow night."

"Oh, I hope so! I suppose you will hang them to the nearest tree, as
fast as you catch them?"

"No, ma'am, I can't do that. They will be prisoners, you know, and
must be treated as such."

"Then bring them here, and I will hang them for you," exclaimed the
lady, excitedly. "I think our government is entirely too lenient with
the rascals."

During the conversation that followed, Frank gained some very valuable
information concerning the plans the rebels had on foot for the
capture of the runaways. He also learned that the lady's husband was
an officer of high rank in the rebel army, and that she was expecting
him home every moment. Frank, as may be supposed, was not very well
pleased with this information, and he cast uneasy glances toward the
door, expecting to see the officer enter. But his fears were soon set
at rest by the return of the young lady from the kitchen, with a large
traveling bag, filled with provisions.

When Frank inquired what was to pay, he was informed that any one who
would think of charging a soldier for provisions ought to be tarred
and feathered and sent into the Yankee lines. This was good news to
Frank, for, if there had been any thing to pay, he would not have
known how to act, as money was a thing he had not seen for many a day.
So, after thanking the ladies for their kindness, and bidding them
good-night, he picked up his provisions and started out.

"Now, you man that hunts Union soldiers with blood-hounds," he
exclaimed, as he walked up to his captive, and untied the strap with
which his feet were bound, "get up, and lead me to the place where you
left your prisoners;" and Frank seized the rebel by the collar, and
helped him rather roughly to his feet.

The rebel made no reply, but led the way down the road which ran
through the plantation. Frank followed close behind him, carrying his
rifle and provisions in one hand, and his revolver in the other. At
length they came to the fence at the end of the field, and, as he was
helping his prisoner over, a voice from the woods called out:

"Who goes there?"

"Is that your man?" inquired Frank, in a whisper, turning to his
prisoner.

"Yes," answered the rebel, gruffly.

"Then keep your mouth shut, and let me talk to him," commanded Frank.
Raising his voice, he answered to the hail, "Friend!"

"Is that you, Lieutenant Somers?" inquired the voice.

"Yes," answered Frank. "Come here; I've got a supply of provisions,
and another prisoner."

"Another Yank, eh!" said the man; and Frank heard him coming through
the woods toward him.

"Well, we've one less to catch, then. Where is he? Let's have a squint
at him."

"Never mind the prisoner," exclaimed Frank, "but come and take these
provisions; they're heavy."

The rebel, who could not discover that any thing was wrong, reached
out his hand, and took the traveling-bag from Frank, when the latter
suddenly seized him by the collar, and exclaimed, as he pressed the
muzzle of his revolver against his head:

"You're my prisoner!"

For an instant the rebel appeared utterly dumfounded; then, suddenly
recovering himself, he struck up Frank's arm, and, with a quick
movement, tore himself away from his grasp, and drew his Bowie-knife.

"Kill him, Jake! kill him!" shouted the lieutenant, who, of course,
was unable to assist his man, as his hands were securely bound behind
his back.

But Frank was too quick for him, for, before the rebel could make a
thrust with his knife, the sharp report of the revolver echoed through
the woods, and the man sank to the ground like a log.

"Now," exclaimed Frank, turning to his prisoner, "I've a good notion
to shoot you, also. But I will try you once more; and I tell you now,
once for all, don't open your head again to-night, unless you are
spoken to. Now, show me where you left your prisoners."

"Here we are!" exclaimed a voice from the bushes.

Frank soon found them, and, when he had cut the ropes with which they
were bound, and set them at liberty, they each seized his hands, and
wrung them in silent gratitude.

"Thank heaven, we're free men once more!" exclaimed one of the poor
fellows. "But where is that lieutenant that captured us?"

"He's my prisoner," answered Frank.

"Here you are, you thunderin', low-lived secesh!" exclaimed the man,
who had not yet spoken, as he walked up to the rebel, and laid his
hand on his shoulder. "I've a mind to stop your wind for you, you
mean"--

"Easy, easy, boys," exclaimed Frank; "he's a prisoner, you know, and
we've no right to put him in misery simply because he's in our power."

"Why, the varmint hunted us yesterday with blood-hounds," exclaimed
one of the soldiers.

"He served me the same way to-day," answered Frank; "but, still, we
have no right to abuse him. But I have two more friends around here
somewhere;" and Frank put his hand to his mouth, and gave two low
whistles. It was answered immediately, and a voice, which Frank
recognized as the captain's, inquired:

"Ish dat you, you gun-boat feller?"

"Yes, I'm here, captain; come along."

The Dutchman soon made his appearance, followed by the major. They had
remained in their hiding-place, and heard all that was going on; but,
so fearful were they of treachery, that they dared not come out. Frank
briefly related to them the circumstances connected with the capture
of the lieutenant, and the release of the two soldiers; after this a
consultation was held, and it was decided that it would not be prudent
to attempt to reach Red River for a day or two, at least. The major
thought it best to remain concealed during the day, and at night
boldly follow the road.

This plan was adopted, for the entire party--including the soldiers
Frank had just released--were dressed in butternut clothes; besides
this, the papers which had been taken from the lieutenant would
greatly assist them, if their plan was carried out with skill and
determination. And, in regard to the prisoner--who, of course, had not
heard a word of the consultation--it was decided to detain him for a
day or two, in order that he might be led to believe that it was their
intention to keep as far away from Red River as possible, and then
release him.

After their plans had all been determined upon, Frank opened his sack
of provisions, when, eating a scanty meal, they again started forward.
They kept along on the edge of the plantations until the day began to
dawn, and then turned into the woods and encamped.



CHAPTER XVI.

A Friend in Need.


In the evening, at dark, they resumed their journey. They boldly
followed the road, and met with no opposition until just before
daylight, when a voice directly in front of them shouted, "Halt!"

"Now, boys," whispered the major, "our safety depends upon our nerve.
It is so dark they can't see our faces, so don't be frightened at
any thing that may happen. Captain, take care of that prisoner, and
remember and blow his brains out the moment he makes the least attempt
at escape."

"Who goes there?" shouted the voice again.

"Scouts!" answered the major, promptly.

"Advance, one scout, and give the counter sign."

The Major accordingly advanced to the place where the sentry was
standing, and the captain cautiously cocking his musket, placed its
cold muzzle against the prisoner's head, whispering, between his
clenched teeth:

"I guess you hear what the major did said, ain't it? Well, then, don't
say somethings."

The laconic captain probably thought this warning sufficient, for
he brought his musket to an "order arms," and did not afterward even
deign to cast a single glance at the prisoner.

In the mean time, the major was endeavoring to convince the lieutenant
of the guard that, although they did not have the countersign, they
were in reality Confederate soldiers.

"It may be that you'uns is all right," said the lieutenant, after
reading, by the aid of a dark lantern, the papers which Frank had
captured. "But, you see, thar's so many of these yere Yanks running
away, that we'uns has got to be mighty careful how we let folks go
past."

"I tell you," said the major, speaking as though he considered himself
highly insulted, "I tell you, that I am on special service by order
of General Taylor. I have been out on a scout to recapture the very
prisoners you have just mentioned. I have already caught one of them,"
he added, pointing to their prisoner, who, let it be remembered, was
dressed in Frank's uniform.

"If you'uns is out on a scout," said a soldier, who had been aroused
from his blanket, and pressed up to obtain a glance at the major,
"whar's your hosses?"

"I left them about a mile down the river. I have already been through
your lines once to-night, and I might have gone through this time
without your knowledge, if I had seen fit to do so."

"Maybe it's all right," said the lieutenant, shaking his head
dubiously; "but I'll be dog-gone if I don't think I've seen your face
somewhere before;" and as he said this he raised the lantern, and
allowed the light to shine full upon him. Frank, who had been waiting
impatiently for the interview to be brought to a close, gave himself
up for lost when he saw a smile of triumph light up the rebel's face.
But the major was equal to the emergency. Meeting the lieutenant's
gaze without flinching, he replied, carelessly:

"Very likely you have. I have been in the service ever since the war
broke out. But do you intend to allow us to proceed, or shall I be
obliged to report you at head-quarters? Remember, I can say that you
do not keep a very good watch, seeing I have already passed you once."

This threat seemed to decide the lieutenant, who replied, "I guess
it's all right--you'uns can pass."

When Frank heard this, it seemed as though a heavy load had been
removed from his breast. But the hardest part of the trial, with him,
had yet to come. What if he should be recognized? But he had that
risk to run; so, summoning up all his fortitude, he marched with his
companions by the guards, apparently as unconcerned as though he was
entering a friendly camp.

The moment they got out of hearing of the tread of the sentinel,
the major turned from the road and led the way into the woods. After
walking a short distance, at a rapid pace, he whispered:

"Perhaps we fooled the rascals, but I think not. I didn't like the way
that lieutenant eyed me. I am certain we shall be pursued as soon as
he can send for assistance; and the best thing we can do is to get
away from here. So, forward, double-quick. Don't make too much noise
now. Captain, look out for that prisoner."

It was well that the major had adopted the precaution of leaving the
road and taking to the woods, for, in less than half an hour after
they had passed the guards, a squad of cavalry came up, having a full
and correct description of Frank and his companions. By some means,
the capture of the rebel lieutenant had become known, and a portion of
his own regiment--which had followed Frank from Shreveport, but which
had given up the chase and returned--had again started in pursuit.
The guards were astounded when they learned that the young gun-boat
officer (with whose flight and subsequent almost miraculous escapes
from recapture every scout in the country was acquainted) had been
within their very grasp, and a portion of them joined the cavalry in
pursuit; but, as they kept on down the road, Frank and his companions
again escaped. They had heard their pursuers pass by, and knowing that
the country would be thoroughly alarmed, and that it would be useless
to attempt to reach Red River at present, they directed their course
toward Washita River, which lay about thirty-five miles distant,
hoping to deceive the rebels as to their real intentions, and thus, by
drawing their pursuers into the country, leave their avenue of escape
unobstructed.

One clear, moonlight night they halted, as usual, in the rear of a
plantation, and were debating upon the best means to be employed in
obtaining food, when a man, dressed in a shabby Federal uniform, was
discovered coming slowly toward them, on the opposite side of the
fence that separated the woods from the plantation.

His sudden and wholly unexpected appearance took them completely by
surprise. Frank immediately proposed to challenge him. Perhaps, like
themselves, he was a fugitive from a rebel prison, and in need of
assistance. But the captain strongly opposed this, and was in favor
of shooting the man, who still continued to advance, as if wholly
unconscious of the presence of any one--arguing, in his broken
English, and with good reason, too, that the appearance of a Federal
uniform in that part of the country boded them no good, but was a sure
sign of treachery; and evidently thinking that he had won the day, he
was about to put his plan into execution, when the major struck up his
musket, and shouted:

"Who comes there?"

The stranger, instead of replying, instantly threw himself on the
ground behind the fence, out of sight.

"Gott in himmel, major," exclaimed the disappointed captain, "I
pelieve it's better you shoots that man--purty quick we all gets
ketched again;" and as he said this the captain, who, although a very
brave man on the field of battle, was very much opposed to fighting an
invisible enemy, drew himself behind a tree, as if fully expecting to
see a whole army of rebels rush out of their concealments upon them.

"Be quiet, captain," said the major. "You have grown very suspicious
lately." Then, raising his voice, he called out: "Whoever you are
behind that fence, whether a friend or an enemy to the Union, come out
immediately, or you are a dead man."

A deep silence, which lasted for several seconds, followed his words.
Then came the ominous click of half a dozen gun-locks, which, in the
stillness of the night, could be heard a long distance.

The stranger evidently heard it too, for, without further hesitation,
he arose from behind the fence, and came forward.

The major allowed him to approach within a few yards, and then ordered
him to halt, and inquired:

"Now, sir! who and what are you? Tell the truth, for you have
desperate men to deal with."

"From your language," answered the stranger, in a voice so soft that
it was almost feminine, but which, nevertheless, betrayed not the
slightest trepidation, "I should judge that you are escaped prisoners;
if so, permit me to make one of your number. If not, you will find me
as desperate as yourselves; for I have suffered too much in prison
to ever allow myself to be taken back alive;" and, as he spoke, he
displayed a brace of pistols, which showed that he meant what he said.

"Gott in himmel!" exclaimed the captain, springing out from behind
his tree, and forgetting, in a moment, all his suspicions, "vos you
captured, too? We been mighty glad to see you, any how."

"Yes," answered the man, "I have been a prisoner for twenty-two
months, and it was not until three weeks since that I succeeded in
making my escape."

"We'll take your story for what it is worth, at present," said
the major, "for we can not stop to talk. We must first make some
arrangements about obtaining something to eat, and then we must be
off."

"My haversack has just been replenished," said the stranger, "and we
have sufficient to last us for a day or two, at least."

"Well, let us be moving, then."

The major, as usual, led the way, and Frank walked beside the
stranger, who firmly, but respectfully, repelled every attempt he made
to enter into conversation, a circumstance which Frank regarded with
suspicion.

At length day began to dawn, and the fugitives commenced to cast
sidelong glances at their new companion. He was a tall, slimly-built
youth, apparently but little older than Frank, and his boyish face
wore a look of care and sorrow, which if once seen could never be
forgotten, and which showed that, young as he was, his path through
life had been any thing but a smooth one. His clothing was reduced
almost to tatters; but still there was enough of it left to show that
it was "Uncle Sam's blue;" and, as Frank surveyed him from head to
foot, he discovered something hanging to one of the shreds of his
coat, which immediately interested him in the silent stranger. It was
a navy button. This was enough for Frank, who, forgetting the manner
in which his advances had been received, inquired:

"Are you a naval officer, sir?"

"Yes," answered the youth, in a low voice, "or, rather, I was once."

"So was I. Give us your hand."

The sad, gloomy look gave way to a smile of genuine pleasure, as the
stranger grasped the proffered hand, and shook it heartily.

"What vessel were you attached to, and when and how were you
captured?" inquired Frank.

But his companion had relapsed into his former state of gloominess and
silence, and seemed to be pondering upon something at once painful and
interesting.

Frank made no further attempts to draw him into conversation, and,
just as the sun was rising, the major gave the order to halt. He also
had noticed the sorrowful look of the young stranger, and, attributing
it to a depression of spirits, which any one would feel at finding
himself in such circumstances, addressed him, as he came up, with:

"My friend, you appear to be sorely troubled about something. Cheer
up; it does no good to be despondent. I know our case is desperate,
but it is not altogether hopeless. We do not intend to be recaptured,
as long as one of us has strength to draw a trigger."

"I am not troubled about that, sir," answered the youth, throwing
himself wearily on the ground. "The cause of my sorrow dates further
back than my capture and confinement in prison. I know that I am not
the only one who has suffered during this rebellion; but mine is a
peculiar case. I have not known a happy day since the war commenced.
Every tie that bound me to earth was severed when the first gun was
fired on Fort Sumter."

"Ah!" exclaimed Frank, guessing the truth at once. "Then your
relatives are rebels."

"Yes, they are; and the most bitter kind of rebels, too. I have kept
my secret until I can no longer endure it. I have become
completely discouraged, and am greatly in need of what I at first
shunned--sympathy. If you will bear with me, I will tell you my
circumstances. It will serve to relieve me, and may interest you, and
prove that I am really what I profess to be, an escaped prisoner."

"Certainly, let us hear it. Go on," said the major.

Thus encouraged, the youth proceeded:

"My name is George Le Dell; and I am the youngest son of General
Le Dell, of the Confederate army. My home is, or rather was, on
the Washita River, about ten miles from this very place. When I was
seventeen years of age, I was sent North to complete my education,
at Yale College, and was just about commencing my senior year, when I
received this letter from my father."

Here George paused, and drew from his pocket a bundle of papers,
carefully tied up, and, producing a letter, from which the writing was
almost obliterated, he handed it to Frank, who read aloud as follows:

    CATAHOOLA PARISH, _February_ 12, 1861.

    MY DEAR GEORGE:

    Your letter of the 2d ult. was duly received.

    Although your ideas of the civil war, to which you seem to look
    forward with such anxiety, are rather crude, you are, in the main,
    correct in your conjectures as to our intentions. Secession is a
    fixed fact. You know it has often been discussed by our leading
    men, and the election of Mr. Lincoln has only served to
    precipitate our action. Had he been defeated, it might have been
    put off four years longer; but it would be certain to come then.
    For years the heaven-sanctioned institution of slavery has been
    subjected to all the attacks that the fiendish imaginations of the
    Yankee abolitionists could suggest, and we are determined to bear
    with them no longer. We intend to establish a confederacy of our
    own, whose corner-stone shall be slavery.

    I wish you to come home immediately, as I have secured you a first
    lieutenant's commission in a cavalry company, which is to be
    mustered into my regiment. Your brothers have already accepted
    theirs, and are drilling their companies twice every week. Of
    course, we do not expect a war, for we have kept the cowardly
    Yankees under our thumbs so long that they will not dare to oppose
    us. However, we consider it best to be on the safe side.

    Inclosed I send you a check for two hundred dollars, which, I
    think, will be sufficient to pay all your bills, and to defray
    your expenses home.

    Your mother and sisters send their love.

    Hoping to see you soon, and to join hands with you in destroying
    every vestige of the old Union, I remain,

    Yours, affectionately, EDWARD LE DELL.

While Frank was reading this letter, George had sat with his face
buried in his hands, not once moving or giving a sign of life: but,
as soon as the letter was finished, he raised his pale face, and
inquired, in a husky voice:

"What do you think of that? It does not seem possible that a father,
who had the least spark of affection for his son, could advise him to
follow such a course, does it? Turn the letter over, and you will see
a copy of my answer written on the back."

It ran as follows:

    YALE COLLEGE, _March_ 20, 1861.

    MY DEAR FATHER:

    You can not imagine with what feelings of astonishment and sorrow
    I read your letter of the 12th ult., which was received nearly
    three weeks since. The reason for my delay in replying you can
    easily divine. Has it, then, come to this? Is it possible that, in
    order to do my duty to my country, I must be willing to incur the
    displeasure of my father? What would you have me do? Assist in
    pulling down the old flag, and in breaking up the best government
    the world over saw? Why, father, this is downright madness. I _can
    not_ "join hands" with you in so unholy a cause. On the contrary,
    as long as that flag needs defenders, you will find me among them.
    You are deceiving yourself when you say the "cowardly Yankees"
    will not fight. They are a people "slow to wrath," but they are
    not cowards, father; and you will find, to your sorrow, that they
    will resist, to the death, "any and every attempt to alienate any
    portion of this _Union_ from the rest."

    Living in the South, as I have, I have long seen this war brewing,
    but was unwilling to confess it, even to myself; and I had hoped,
    that if it did come, my father would not countenance it. Why will
    you do it? You never, never can succeed. The very first attempt
    you make to withdraw from your allegiance to the United States
    will be the signal for a war, the like of which the world has
    never witnessed, and the blood of thousands of men, who will be
    sacrificed to glut your ambition, will be upon your own heads.

    Inclosed, I respectfully return the check, with many thanks for
    your kindness. I can not use it for the purpose you wish.

    Hoping and praying that you and my brothers will consider well
    before you take the step that will bring you only suffering and
    disgrace, and will use all your influence to prevent the effusion
    of blood that must necessarily follow the suicidal course you
    would pursue, I am, as ever,

    Your affectionate son, GEO. LE DELL.

"That was the best I could do at the time," said George, as Frank
finished the letter. "I believe I must have been crazy when I wrote
it. If I could only have known as much as I do now, I think I could
have made a much better plea than that."

"Didn't it have any effect upon your father?" inquired the major.

"Effect!" repeated George. "Yes, it had the effect of making him
disinherit and cast me off. Read that," he continued, handing Frank
another soiled paper, which looked as though it had been read and
thumbed continually. "I felt like one with his death-warrant when I
received that."

It ran thus:

    CATAHOOLA PARISH, _March_ 31, 1861.

    SIR:

    In reply to your scandalous and insulting letter, I have but a few
    words to say.

    This, then, is the only return you have to make for all the favors
    I have showered upon you! I had expected great things of you,
    George, for you have the abilities that would have raised you to a
    high position in the South; and it seems hard that my fond hopes
    should be dashed to the ground, by one fell blow, given, too, by
    your own hand. But I know my duty; and now, sir, I have done with
    you. I cast you off forever. You will never enter my house again;
    and not a cent of my property shall ever be possessed by you--no,
    not even if you were starving. I have instructed my family to
    forget that such a person as George Le Dell ever existed. Take
    part with our oppressors, if you choose, but be assured that the
    justly-merited consequences of your folly will be visited upon
    you.

    In conclusion, I have to say, that if any more letters are
    received from you, they shall be returned unopened.

    EDWARD LE DELL.

"Now you can see exactly how I am situated," said George, taking the
letter from Frank's hand, and putting it with the others carefully
away in his pocket. "Do you wonder, then, that I am sorrowful, cut off
as I am from all my relatives, with strict orders never to cross the
threshold of my father's house again, not even if I am dying for want
of food? You have, doubtless, heard of the malignity displayed by the
rebel leaders toward any Southerner who dares to differ with them
in opinion, and have looked upon them as idle stories, gotten up
for effect; but I know, by the most bitter experience, that it is a
reality. Does it seem possible that a person can be so blind, and act
with such cruelty toward a son?

"When the war was fairly begun," he continued, "I kept the vow I had
made--that as long as the old flag needed defenders, I should be found
among them, by enlisting as fourth master, in what was then called
the 'Gun-boat Flotilla,' about to commence operations on the Western
waters. I participated in the battle of Island No. 10; was at the
taking of Memphis, and at St. Charles; when the 'Mound City' was blown
up, I barely escaped being scalded to death. I was on the 'Essex,'
when she ran the batteries at Vicksburg, and during the subsequent
fight, which resulted in the defeat of the 'Arkansas' ram. About a
month after that I was captured with a party of men, while on shore
on a foraging expedition. I fought as long as I could, for I knew that
death would be preferable to the treatment I should receive; but I was
overpowered, and finally surrendered to save the lives of my men. The
rebels, of course, immediately commenced crowding about us, and the
very first officer I saw was my brother Henry, who had risen to the
position of adjutant, in father's regiment. He instantly recognized
me, and, after giving strict orders that I should be closely confined,
rode off. I had many acquaintances in the regiment. Some of them had
been my classmates at college; and the story of my _treason_, as they
called it, was given a wide circulation. I fared even worse than I had
expected. My food was of the very worst quality, and barely sufficient
to sustain life. I was never allowed a shelter of any kind, not even
a blanket; and, when my clothing was worn out, I could not obtain
another suit. 'Stick to your dirty blue,' said the officer under whose
charge I had been placed, 'and every time you look at it, think of the
meanness of which you have been guilty.'

"At length, to my relief, the order came for me to be transferred to
the prison at Tyler. When I arrived at that place, I was thrust into
an old slave-pen, where I was contained nearly twenty months before
I succeeded in effecting my escape. I was given to understand that it
had been ordered that I was not to be exchanged, but might expect
to die a traitor's death at no distant day. Whether or not this was
intended to terrify me, I do not know; but, since my escape, I have
thought that there were some good grounds for fear; for, during my
journey from Tyler to Shreveport, I was not once out of hearing of the
blood-hounds that were following my trail. The only support I have had
is the consciousness that I have tried to do my duty. If it were not
for that, I should be the most miserable person in the world; and I
should not care how soon some rebel bullet put an end to my existence.

"Although I am now looked upon by my relatives as a stranger and an
outcast, I have determined to visit once more the place which, long
ago, I used to call _home_. It is only ten miles from here, and not a
step out of our way. Will you accompany me?"

Of course, this strange proposition at first met with strong
opposition, especially from the captain. But George assured them that
there was not the slightest danger, as all the troops in that part
of the country had been ordered to Fort De Russy, and were hourly
expecting an attack; consequently they would find no one at home
except George's mother, sisters, and a few old negroes who were too
feeble to work on the fortifications. Besides as all the troops were
now at Red River, their safest course would be to abandon, for awhile,
at least, the idea of taking it as their guide to the Mississippi.
This silenced their objections, and, after the sentinels for the day
had been selected, the fugitives, stretching themselves out on the
ground, and fell asleep--all except Frank, who leaned back against a
tree. While he kept watch over his sleeping companions, he pondered
upon the history of their new acquaintance, and admired the high
sense of duty and patriotism that had animated him to make so great a
sacrifice for the sake of the "old flag."



CHAPTER XVII.

The Scene at the Plantation.


Next evening, George took the lead, and conducted them through the
woods, with a certainty that showed that he was well acquainted with
the ground over which they were passing. Not a word did he speak until
they emerged from the woods, and found before them a large plantation,
with the huge, old-fashioned farm-house, surrounded by its negro
quarters and out-buildings, looming up in the distance.

George gazed upon the scene long and earnestly, until his feelings
overcame him, when he leaned his head upon his hand, and gave full
vent to his sorrow. He did not weep, but the heaving of his chest, and
the quivering of his whole frame, showed how severe was the struggle
that was going on within him. His companions, who well knew what was
passing in his mind, leaned on their weapons, and silently waited
until the burst of grief had subsided. At length, George recovered his
composure, and said, slowly:

"It looks natural, boys; every thing is just as I left it five years
ago. Let us go up to the house. I _must_ see my mother and sisters
once more. We will say that we are rebel soldiers, and want something
to eat. My father and brothers are at Fort De Russy with their
commands, so there will be no danger."

"But your uniform," said Frank, anxiously, "that will certainly betray
us."

"No danger of that," answered George; "a great many soldiers in the
rebel army wear the Federal uniform. There's no danger."

Frank was far from being satisfied, but he fell in with the rest, and
followed George toward the house. A few moments' walk brought them to
a barn, where they again halted, and, while George stood feasting his
eyes on each familiar object, the captain bound the rebel lieutenant
hand and foot, and laid him away under a fence-corner; and left him,
with the information that his life depended upon his observing the
strictest silence. This course was the wisest that could have
been adopted, under the circumstances; for it would have been very
imprudent to have taken the prisoner with them, as he could easily
have found means to make himself known.

George again took the lead, and, when they had almost reached the
house, they heard the sound of a piano, and a female voice singing the
never-failing "Bonnie Blue Flag."

"There you have it," said George, bitterly; "but don't stop--let's
go right in. Major, you had better go up to the door, and ask them
to give us something to eat. I dare not trust myself to do it. Be a
bitter rebel now, and they will certainly invite us all in, and we
will get whatever we ask for. Now, boys," he continued, turning to the
others, "don't watch me too closely when we get in the house, or you
will betray me."

The major--after making sure that the papers, which had already been
of so much service to them, were still in his pocket--ascended the
broad stone steps that led up to the portico, and knocked at the door.
It was opened by a servant, who, after inquiring what he wanted, led
the way into a brilliantly-lighted parlor, where he saw before him
George's mother and sisters.

"Good evening, sir," said Mrs. Le Dell, rising from her seat. "Is
there any way in which we can serve you?"

The major made known his wants, and a servant was at once dispatched
to order supper, and to invite the remainder of the fugitives into
the house. As they filed slowly into the room--George bringing up the
rear--the particular orders which the major gave about the muskets
caused the lady to say:

"You need have no fear, sir. The Yankees have never yet favored us
with a visit."

"I know it, ma'am," replied the major, accepting a chair that one of
the sisters offered him, "but I have been a soldier so long, that I
never omit to make preparations for a fight."

As soon as they were fairly seated, Frank turned to look at George.
"That boy must be made of iron," said he to himself, "or else he
is among his friends, and we are betrayed;" for, instead of being
embarrassed, or wearing his habitual sorrowful look, he sat easily in
his chair, and gazed carelessly about the room, as though he were a
perfect stranger there, and not a muscle quivered, to show the
emotion he really felt, as his eye rested on the familiar faces of
his relatives. He calmly met their glances, which Frank thought were
directed toward him rather suspiciously, but all attempts to draw him
into the conversation that followed, about the war, and the certainty
of speedily overpowering the Yankees, and driving them from the
land, were unavailing. Once Frank thought he heard one of his sisters
whisper, "How much he looks like George!" but he was not recognized,
and the supper, which was enlivened by conversation on indifferent
subjects, passed off pleasantly.

When the meal was finished, a large bag was filled with provisions,
sufficient to last them nearly a week, and given in charge of one
of the soldiers; and the major, after thanking the ladies for their
kindness, was about to bid them good evening, when there was a clatter
of horses' hoofs on the walk, then heavy steps sounded in the hall,
and the next moment, to the utter astonishment and horror of the
fugitives, three rebel officers entered the room.

They were General Le Dell and his two sons.

Frank's heart fairly came up into his mouth at this unwelcome
intrusion, and his first impulse was to draw his revolver and shoot
the rebels where they stood; but, on glancing at the major who always
seemed to have his wits about him, he abandoned the idea. The major,
with the rest, had seized his musket, but, as the rebels entered, he
returned it to its place in the corner, (motioning to the others to do
the same,) and, saluting the general, said, with a smile:

"I beg your pardon, sir. I did not know but that the Yankees were upon
us."

"No danger of that," said the general, with a laugh; "you'll never see
them as far up in the country as this. Pray be seated, sir."

After greeting his wife and daughters, the general again turned to the
major, whom, by his soldierly bearing, he at once picked out as the
leader of the band, and inquired:

"May I ask what you are doing up here? Has not your command been
ordered to Fort De Russy?"

"Yes, sir. But I am out on a scout, by order of General Taylor."

"You can have no objection to produce those orders?"

"O no, sir! certainly not. Here they are," answered the major, drawing
from his pocket the papers which Frank had captured. The general,
after hastily running his eye over them, suddenly exclaimed:

"Why, Lieutenant Somers, how do you do, sir? I am very glad to meet
you again. I heard that you had been taken prisoner. I am most happy
to see that you have escaped."

This was rather more than the major had been expecting, and he
suddenly found himself placed in a most awkward position. But his
presence of mind never forsook him; and, accepting the rebel's
proffered hand, he shook it with apparent cordiality, and replied:

"Thank you, sir. I, myself, am not sorry to know that I am a free man
once more."

"You probably do not remember me," continued the general, "but I was
well acquainted with your father before he moved to Georgia, and used
to trot you on my knee when you were a little fellow; and I do believe
you were the ugliest little brat I ever had any thing to do with. You
did nothing but yell and screech from morning until night. But, by the
way, your father met his death in a very singular manner, did he not?"

"Yes, sir--very singular--very singular, indeed," replied the major,
promptly, as though he were perfectly familiar with all of the
particulars, although in reality he was sorely puzzled to know what to
say. What if the rebel should ask him to explain the affair? But the
general appeared to be well enough acquainted with the matter, for he
continued:

"He died like a brave man, and a soldier. I suppose you intend to take
ample revenge upon the Yankees to pay for it."

"Yes, sir; and I am now on the trail of the very man who shot him."
The major said this at a venture; but, fortunately, he was correct in
his surmise as to the manner in which Mr. Somers departed this life.

While this conversation was going on, Frank was a good deal annoyed
to see that George's sisters, and one of his brothers, were engaged in
mysterious whisperings, now and then darting suspicious glances toward
his new companion. When the general entered, George had risen with
the rest and saluted him, after which he had resumed his seat, and
the deep blush of excitement that arose to his cheek had quickly given
place to the same careless look that Frank had before noticed. George
was also aware that the whispering that was going on related to
himself, and it was evident that his relatives had some suspicions of
who he was; but, if it caused him any uneasiness, he was very careful
to conceal it.

At length, one of his brothers drew his chair to his side, and said:

"Excuse me, sir; but I believe I've seen you before."

"I shouldn't be surprised if you had, sir," answered George, steadily
meeting the rebel's gaze. "I _know_ I've seen you before."

His brother started back in his chair, and a gleam of triumph shot
across his face as he exclaimed:

"George, I know you."

"And you will have cause to know me better before this war is over,"
answered George, forgetting, in his excitement, all the precautions he
had before adopted to escape being recognized.

Had a thunderbolt fallen into the room, the astonishment of the
general and his wife could not have been greater. They sat in their
chairs as motionless as if they had been suddenly turned into stone,
gazing at their son as though they could scarcely believe their eyes,
while the fugitives sat with their hands on their weapons, wondering
what would be the result of George's imprudence. At length the
general, who was the first to recover from his astonishment,
vociferated:

"You here, you rascal--you young traitor! I thought you were safe in
the prison at Tyler again by this time."

"No doubt you did," answered George, bitterly. "But I'm a free man
now, and intend to remain so."

"You are free!" repeated the general; "that's a capital joke.
Lieutenant Somers, I charge you with his safe delivery at Tyler."

The major, greatly relieved to find that the general still considered
him a rebel, was about to promise that George should be well taken
care of, when the latter, to the astonishment of all, boldly declared:

"That is not Lieutenant Somers. These gentlemen are all my
friends--Union to the backbone."

"Eh! what?" ejaculated the general, in surprise, scarcely believing
what he heard. "These men all Yankees?"

"Yes, sir; every one of them."

"A nice-looking set, surely--a fine lot of jailbirds you are."

"So I have been feeding a lot of tyrants instead of loyal Confederate
soldiers," said Mrs. Le Dell, while the sisters gazed at the young
hero with contempt pictured in their faces.

"No, mother, you have _not_ fed tyrants," answered George, with a good
deal of spirit, "but true Union men. It is nothing you need be ashamed
of."

"Well, we _are_ ashamed of it," said the general, who seemed to be
fairly beside himself with rage. "Didn't I tell you never to darken my
door again? Where are you traveling to, and what do you intend to do?"

"I am on my way North, and I purpose to join my vessel, if she is
still afloat."

"You'll do no such thing. Just consider yourselves prisoners--all of
you."

"O no sheneral, I pelieve not," said the captain, quietly, "cause you
see we six been more as you three."

"No, father, we shall never be taken prisoners again--never."

"You are very bold, young man," said the general, who, as he gazed
upon the flushed countenance and flashing eyes of his son, could not
but admire his courage. "This is big talk for a boy of your age."

"We have already wasted time enough," said the major, growing
impatient. "Captain, relieve those gentlemen of their weapons."

The order was promptly obeyed, the rebels offering no resistance.

"Now," resumed the major, "we shall take our leave. Good evening."

"You'll all be in Fort De Russy in less than forty-eight hours,"
shouted the general, "or I am very much mistaken."

"We'll be dead men, then," answered George. "You will never take us
there alive."

The fugitives did not linger to converse, but made all haste to get
into the open air. The horses belonging to the rebels, which were
found fastened in front of the house, were immediately turned loose,
and a thrust from the captain's bayonet sent them galloping up the
road.

George silently led the way to the place where they had left their
prisoner, and, as soon as he was set at liberty, they bent their steps
across the plantation, toward the woods at the rear. Although George
had borne up bravely while in the presence of his rebel parents,
he could control himself no longer, and tears, which he could not
repress, coursed down his cheeks, as ever and anon he turned to take a
long, lingering look at the place he could no longer call home. Every
emotion he experienced found an echo in the generous heart of Frank,
who was scarcely less affected than himself. He could not believe that
the scene through which they had just passed was a reality. It did not
seem possible that parents could address a son in the language that he
had heard used toward George.

The unexpected denouement at the house had rendered the major and
captain doubly anxious; for now nothing but the most consummate skill
and daring could save them from recapture; and, while the former kept
close watch on the house to catch the first sign of pursuit that
should be made, the latter gave vent to his feelings by railing, in
his broken English, first at George for proposing such an expedition,
and then by deprecating his own folly for yielding his consent to
it. But there was no help now; regrets could not mend the matter, and
nothing but rapid flight could save them.

When they reached the end of the field, George became suddenly
aroused. Brushing away the tears that dimmed his eyes, he placed
himself at the head of the party, and started on at a rapid pace
through the woods.



CHAPTER XVIII.

Almost Betrayed.


Whither he was leading them no one knew, or cared to ask; for, if they
had entertained any suspicions in regard to George, the scene at the
house had dispelled them; and knowing that he had as much, if not
more, cause to dread recapture than themselves, they relied implicitly
on him to get them out of their present difficulty.

The woods were pitch-dark, but George seemed to understand what he was
about, and, for two hours, not a word was spoken, except, perhaps,
now and then a growl of anger, as some one stumbled over a log or bush
that lay in his way. Finally, the softness of the ground under their
feet indicated that they were approaching a swamp. George now paused,
and said:

"Major, with your permission, we will stop here until daylight. It is
impossible to go further in this darkness, for it is an ugly road to
travel."

"What makes you take to the swamp?" inquired Frank.

"It is a short cut across the country," answered George, "and if we
are pursued by blood-hounds we can more easily elude them."

Between sleeping and listening for the noise of pursuit, the fugitives
passed the night. As soon as day began to dawn, they made a hasty
breakfast on the provisions which they had obtained at the plantation,
and resumed their journey. George led the way into the swamp, and,
as he seemed to choose the most difficult path, their progress was
necessarily slow and laborious. About the middle of the afternoon the
swamp became almost impassable, and the major was about to suggest the
propriety of picking out an easier path, when George suddenly halted
on the banks of a narrow, but deep and sluggish, stream, and, wiping
his forehead with his coat-sleeve, said, with something like a sigh of
relief:

"Here we are, at last."

"I see we are," said the major, gazing impatiently about on the
labyrinth of trees and bushes with which they were surrounded, "but
I had rather be almost anywhere else. You might as well get us out of
this swamp by the shortest and easiest path you can find."

"I will, if you order me to do so," answered George; "but we are now
at as good a harboring place as can be found in a country filled with
enemies, bent upon our capture, and thirsting for our blood. I know
my father's disposition too well to think that he will allow us to get
off easily. The country is fairly overrun with cavalry by this time,
and the best thing we can do is to remain here until the excitement
has abated a little, and then push for Red River again. That high bank
you see over there," he continued, pointing across the stream, "is an
island, and all the blood-hounds and negro-hunters in Louisiana would
not think of looking for us there. However, I will lead you out of the
swamp, if you say so."

After a short consultation, it was decided that it would be best to
accept George's plan, as their pursuers would never think of looking
for them so near the plantation; and, after divesting themselves of
their clothes, they entered the water and struck out for the opposite
shore. Frank, who brought up the rear, had scarcely made half a
dozen strokes, when he was startled by a loud splashing in the water,
followed by a noise resembling the bellowing of a bull, and looked up
just in time to see the huge, shining body of an alligator disappear
in the muddy water. The utmost horror was depicted on Frank's
countenance, as he turned and hastily regained the shore. The others,
who were too far out to return, were no less terrified, but they
had the presence of mind to retain their hold of their clothing and
weapons, and a few hasty strokes brought them to the shore. George
and the lieutenant were the only ones who did not seem aware of the
danger; for, when the former reached the shore, he proceeded to pull
on his clothes, and, seeing Frank standing where he had left him,
coolly inquired:

"Why don't you come on? Can't you swim?"

"Yes," answered Frank; "but didn't you see that alligator? I almost
ran over him before I saw him."

"O, that's nothing," answered George, carelessly. "If alligators were
all we had to fear, we would all be safe at the North in less than two
months. They are death on darkeys, but they will not touch a white man
in the water, if he keeps moving. There's not the slightest danger.
Come on."

Frank was very much inclined to doubt this statement; but, screwing up
his courage to the highest pitch, he stepped into the water again, and
struck out. When he reached the middle of the stream, he saw a large,
black object rise in the water but a short distance from him, and,
after regarding him a moment with a pair of small, sharp-looking eyes,
it disappeared, with another of those roars which had so startled
him but a moment before. He kept on, however, and, in a few moments,
reached the shore in safety.

"Now," said George, "there is, or was about five years ago, a cabin
on this island, where our negroes used to put up when they came here
fishing. Let us see if we can find it."

He commenced leading the way, through the thick bushes and trees,
toward the center of the island, and, after a few moments' walk, they
suddenly entered a small, clear spot, where stood the cabin of which
George had spoken. But a far different scene was presented than they
had expected; for a fire was burning near the cabin, and a man stood
over it, superintending the cooking of his supper, and conversing in
a low tone with a companion who lay stretched out on his blanket close
by. Both were dressed in the rebel uniform, and their muskets and a
cavalry saber were hung up under the eaves of the cabin. George
at once hastily drew back into the bushes, while the captain threw
forward his musket, and whispered:

"Major, I pelieve it's petter we shoots them rebels."

Before the major had time to reply, a large dog, which the fugitives
had not before noticed, arose from the blanket where he had lain
beside his master, and uttered a low growl, whereat the rebels seized
their weapons, and were beating a precipitate retreat, when a loud
"halt!" from the major brought them to a stand-still.

"We takes you all two brisoners," said the captain, as he advanced
from the bushes, followed by the remainder of the fugitives, who all
held their weapons in readiness. "Drop them guns."

The rebels did as they were ordered, and the major said:

"Now we will talk to you. Who and what are you?"

The men hesitated for a moment, and at length one of them, turning to
his companion with a meaning look, said:

"We're caught, any way we can fix it, Jim, and we may as well make a
clean breast of it. We are deserters."

"What are you doing here?"

"We came here to get out of the way of you fellows who were sent after
us. It is as good a place of refuge as we could find, and, to tell the
truth, we did not think you would discover it. You must have followed
us with blood-hounds."

"No, sir; we did not," exclaimed the major, indignantly. "What do you
take us for--savages?"

"Well, you found us in some way," replied the rebel, "and I suppose
we're done for."

"No, not necessarily. We shall not trouble you as long as you behave
yourselves, for we are in a bad fix also."

"Are you deserters, too?" inquired the rebel, joyfully. "If you are,
we are all right, for, with the force we have, we can defend this
island against as many men as they can pile into Louisiana. But, shoot
me if I didn't think you were looking after us. I see you have gobbled
a Yankee," he continued, pointing to the lieutenant. "But, come, sit
down and have some supper."

The major was perfectly willing that the rebels should consider
themselves in the presence of their own men; and, besides, if they
were really deserters, their being on the island proved what
George had told them, that it was considered to be a safe place for
concealment. The only cause he had for uneasiness was the presence
of the rebel lieutenant; if he should find opportunity to talk to the
men, he would soon make known the true state of affairs.

"Captain," he whispered, turning to that individual, "keep an eye on
that prisoner of ours, and do not, under any circumstances, leave him
alone with these deserters."

The fugitives then threw themselves on the ground, under the shade of
the trees, and, while the majority readily entered into conversation
with the rebels, Frank, who had grown suspicious of every thing that
looked like friendship, in spite of the cordial manner with which
the deserters had welcomed them, could not, for a long time, satisfy
himself that every thing was right. However, as he could detect
nothing in the actions of the men to confirm his suspicions, and, as
the fact that their food was supplied to them by a negro, who visited
the island every night, gave him good grounds for believing that there
_might_, after all, be some truth in their statement, he dismissed the
subject for the present, but determined that the men should be closely
watched.

During the two following days, which the fugitives spent on the
island, nothing suspicious was discovered. Wherever the lieutenant
went he was closely followed by his keeper, and he was never allowed
to be alone with the other rebels. In fact, he did not seem at all
desirous of having any conversation with them, for, with the exception
of taking a short walk about the island after every meal, he passed
both day and night in dozing in the cabin. The rebels, on the other
hand, appeared to believe him a "Yankee," and as such, considered him
beneath their notice. Frank was beginning to think that his fears had
been utterly groundless, when, on the third night, he was fortunate
enough to detect a plot, which, if carried into execution, would have
put an end to all his hopes of seeing home again, perhaps forever.

It was his duty to stand sentry from dark until midnight. As he walked
his beat, listening for the signal of the negro, whom he every moment
expected with another supply of provisions, and thinking over the
scenes through which he had passed since he had entered the service,
he heard a slight rustling in the bushes back of the cabin, and saw
one of the deserters disappear among the trees. What could the man
mean by moving about the island at that time of night? There must be
something wrong, for his stealthy movements proved that he did not
wish to be observed. While Frank was pondering upon the subject,
and debating the propriety of informing the major of the fact, the
lieutenant sauntered leisurely up to the place where he was standing,
and, stretching his arms, languidly inquired:

"Don't you think it is very sultry this evening? It is impossible for
me to sleep."

This was something unusual for the lieutenant, who, although he had
often conversed very freely with the major, had never before spoken to
Frank since the night of his capture. The latter knew that the rebel
had some object in view, and at once determined to act as though he
suspected nothing, and to await the issue of affairs.

"Yes, it is very warm," he replied, fanning himself with his cap. "I
shall be glad when I get North again."

"No doubt of it," answered the rebel, carelessly. "I believe I'll go
down to the spring and get a cup of water, if you have no objections."

As soon as he had disappeared, Frank threw himself on his hands and
knees, and crawling to the edge of the bank, looked over, and saw the
lieutenant and the deserter, whom he had seen stealing from the cabin,
engaged in conversation.

"They will be here to-morrow night, then, without fail?" he heard the
lieutenant ask.

"Yes, so the negro says," replied the deserter.

"Twelve of them, did you say? That will make sixteen, including the
negro. There will be none too many of us, for these Yankees will fight
like perfect demons. If we fail, our lives will not be worth five
minutes' purchase."

"Do not have any fears," replied the other. "I have made 'assurance
doubly sure,' and failure is impossible."

"Well, go back to the cabin now," said the lieutenant, "for you might
be missed."

On hearing this, Frank hastily retreated, and regained his post.
Presently the lieutenant returned, and, after giving Frank a drink of
water from his cup, sought his blanket.

"A pretty piece of business, indeed," thought Frank, as he commenced
walking his beat again. "It is fortunate I discovered it. I'll keep a
lookout for the negro, and learn all I can from him."

He was not obliged to wait long, for presently a low whistle, that
sounded from the opposite side of the bayou, told that the negro was
in waiting. Frank answered the signal, when a light canoe shot out
from the shore and approached the island. In a few moments the negro
walked up the bank, and, depositing a large bag of provisions in
the cabin, turned to go back, followed by Frank, who commenced
conversation by observing, "A warm evening, uncle;" but, the moment
they were out of sight of the cabin, he inquired, in a low voice:

"Are those twelve men all ready to come here to-morrow night?"

"Sar! what twelve men?" asked the negro, in well-feigned surprise. "I
dunno nuffin 'bout no twelve men."

"O, now, see here, uncle," said Frank, "that story won't do at all,
for I know better than that. You see this is the first chance I have
had to talk to you, for these Yanks watch me so closely. Now, at what
hour are they to be here?"

"I tol' you, massa," repeated the negro, "dat I dunno nuffin 'bout no
men;" and, thinking he had settled the matter, turned to walk away.

But Frank was not yet done with him, and, seeing that he was too
cunning to be "pumped," determined to try what effect the sight of his
weapons would produce. Seizing the negro by the collar, he pressed
the muzzle of his revolver against his head, whispering, between his
clenched teeth:

"See here, you black rascal! you _do_ know all about the matter, for
you have carried orders from these rebels here to their friends. So,
confess the whole truth, instantly."

"I dunno nuffin 'bout no men, I tol' you," persisted the negro.

"You won't confess, eh?" said Frank, cocking his revolver. "Then
you're a dead man."

"O Lor'! don't shoot, massa," exclaimed the now terrified negro. "What
shall I 'fess."

"Confess the truth," replied Frank, "and you shall not be harmed; but,
if you try to deceive me, you're a dead darkey. Answer such questions
as I shall ask you. In the first place, who are these men who say they
are rebel deserters?"

"One of 'em is my massa, an' de other is a captain in de army."

"What are they doing on this island?"

"Dey come here for to cotch young massa George Le Dell, 'cause dey
knowed he would be shore for to come here."

"Well, how many men are you going to bring over here to-morrow night?"

"Twelve, sar, an' I fotch 'em in de big canoe."

"At what hour?"

"Midnight, when de moon hab gone down, an' my massa is on guard."

Having got this important information, Frank released the negro, and
regained his post without being discovered. At midnight he called his
relief, and then lay down on the ground and fell asleep.

After breakfast, the next morning, as the major went to the spring to
fill his cup, Frank, who had followed close behind him, said suddenly:

"We're in trouble again."

"Yes, and always shall be," answered the major, coolly, "until we are
safe at the North. But what is the matter now--any thing new?"

"Yes," replied Frank, speaking in a whisper, lest he should be
overheard. "Last night I discovered that there is a plot on foot to
recapture us, and the attempt is to be made at midnight. These men we
found here are not deserters, as they claim to be, but still belong to
the army."

The major, as if not at all concerned, raised the cup to his lips and
slowly drained it, keeping his eyes fastened on Frank, who finally
began to grow impatient, and inquired:

"What shall we do to defeat them?"

"Keep cool, for one thing," answered the major. "But tell me all the
particulars."

Frank then recounted every thing that had transpired. When he had
finished, the major carelessly remarked:

"The rascals played their parts pretty well; in fact, very well,
indeed. Now, the first thing to be done is to go back to the camp and
secure those two fellows. We'll determine upon our plans afterward."

They accordingly slowly returned to the cabin, and found their men
engaged, one in sharpening his Bowie-knife, and the other cleaning his
rifle. The major walked straight up to one of them, and, seizing his
musket, wrested it from him. The other, comprehending the state of
affairs in an instant, exclaimed "Betrayed!" and turned to run, when
Frank grappled with him and threw him to the ground.

"What ish the matter here, any way?" exclaimed the captain, who was
taken so completely by surprise that he stood riveted to the spot.

"Lend a hand here," answered Frank, struggling desperately with his
man, "and ask your questions afterward."

The captain at once sprang to Frank's assistance; in a moment, the
rebel was disarmed, and his hands bound behind his back. The major,
in the mean time, having succeeded in securing his man, gave a hasty
explanation of the matter, and ended by saying:

"There is but one way for us to do, and that is to leave this place at
once. Tie those two rebels to some of these trees, and then we'll be
off."

As soon as this was accomplished, and the major had satisfied himself
that there was not the least chance for their escape, he said:

"Now, we shall leave you here. Your friends will probably be along at
midnight and liberate you."

The rebels made no reply, and the fugitives, after collecting their
weapons, again set out, taking the lieutenant with them. The major
ordered George to lead them by the most direct route to Red River.
This was a desperate measure, but their case was also desperate. The
country on all sides of them had been alarmed, and, if Red River was
closely guarded, the Washita was equally dangerous.

So anxious were they to put as long a distance as possible between
them and the scene of their late narrow escape, that they traveled
until the next morning--stopping only to eat sparingly of some
provisions which one of the soldiers had secured before leaving the
island--and then camped in the swamp, and slept soundly.



CHAPTER XIX.

Conclusion.


The next evening, as soon as it was dark, they again started out. For
three days they held their course straight through the woods, and,
finally, releasing their prisoner, they bent their steps toward Red
River, where, after many delays, they succeeded in securing a canoe.

They traveled entirely by night, and, in a short time reached
Alexandria, where they landed just above the village, and went ashore
to reconnoiter. To their disappointment they found that the place was
filled with soldiers, and that a pontoon-bridge had been thrown across
the river, and was guarded at both ends.

After making all their observations, they retreated to the bank of the
river, and held a consultation. Should they abandon their canoe, and
strike off through the woods again? There were many objections to
this plan. The country, for miles around, was, doubtless, filled with
encampments, and guarded by pickets, and their progress would involve
both danger and difficulty. Besides, they were almost worn out with
travel and constant watching, and, even had there been no obstacles
in their way, it would have been impossible for them to sustain a
long journey across the country. It was finally decided to follow the
river. They resolved to run the bridge, and hoped, aided by darkness,
to escape discovery. It was necessary that some one should guide
the canoe, and, as Frank perfectly understood its management, he was
selected for the purpose.

As soon as the moon had gone down, Frank seated himself in the stern
of the canoe, and his companions stretched themselves out under the
thwarts, as much out of sight as possible. As soon as all was ready,
he moved their frail craft from the shore, with one silent sweep of
the paddle, turning it toward the bridge.

It was a dangerous undertaking; but Frank although perfectly aware
of this, and knowing what his fate would be if he was recaptured, had
never been more cool and self-possessed in his life. He remained at
his station until they were within a hundred yards of the bridge. He
then drew in his paddle, and laid on the bottom of the canoe, with the
others, awaiting the issue.

Propelled by the force of the current, the canoe rapidly approached
the bridge, and, presently, they could distinctly hear the sentinels
talking with each other. They had not been expecting an enemy in that
quarter; but, in a few moments, that danger was passed. For miles
below Alexandria, the river was lined with picket fires, and
the slightest noise would have betrayed them. But they were not
discovered; and, after a week's journey--during which the papers Frank
had taken from the rebel lieutenant procured them food--they reached
the Mississippi River.

To their disappointment they learned that Vicksburg was still in
possession of the rebels, and that they had two hundred miles further
to go before they would be among friends again. After having come so
far, they could not be discouraged, but, taking a few moments' repose,
they again set out.

The current in the river was very strong, and it was a month before
they reached Vicksburg. One dark night, they ran by the city in
safety, and the next morning, to their joy, they found themselves in
sight of a gun-boat, for which they immediately shaped their course.
As they approached her, Frank thought there was something about the
vessel that looked familiar; and when they came alongside, he found
that it was the Ticonderoga. She had been repainted, and some of
her rigging altered, which was the reason he had not recognized her
before.

Frank almost cried with joy when he found himself once more on his own
ship; and all the dangers he had undergone were forgotten in a moment.
He saw many new officers on board, and a master's mate met them at the
gangway, who, probably, held the position he once occupied.

The captain stood on deck, but did not recognize him; and even the old
mate, with whom Frank had been an especial favorite, gazed at him as
though he were a perfect stranger.

"Walk up on deck, men," said the officer who received them, and who,
doubtless, took them for rebel deserters, "the captain wants to see
you."

Frank led the way up the ladder, and as they filed, one after the
other, on to the quarter-deck, the captain inquired:

"Where do you belong, men?"

"I formerly belonged here, sir," answered Frank, raising his hat; "and
I have the honor to report myself on board."

"Report yourself on board!" repeated the captain, in a tone of
surprise.

"Yes, sir. I haven't been on board since we were down Yazoo Pass. I
did not intend to remain away so long, when I left the ship, but I
couldn't help it."

"Explain yourself," said the captain, growing impatient; "I don't know
what you mean."

"My name is Nelson, sir; I was captured at"--

"Why, Mr. Nelson!" exclaimed the captain, seizing his hand with a grip
that almost wrung from him a cry of pain, "is it possible this is you?
I never expected to see you again. But who are these with you?"

"They are some of our soldiers, whom I met on the way down."

Their story was very soon told. When it became known that the rebel
lieutenant who was talking with the captain was none other than
Frank Nelson, the quarter-deck was filled with officers and men, who
gathered around the young hero, congratulating him on his safe return.
He was compelled to relate the particulars of his escape over and over
again; and, finally, he and his companions were taken down into the
wardroom, and supplied with clothing more befitting their stations
than that which they wore.

For two days Frank did nothing but answer questions and relate
incidents that occurred during the flight from Shreveport. But at
length the reaction came, and he, with several of his companions, were
seized with the fever. For a month Frank was very ill; but he received
the best of care, and, aided by his strong constitution, the progress
of the disease was stayed.

One day the captain came into his room, and, seating himself by his
bedside, inquired:

"Well, Mr. Nelson, how do you prosper?"

"Oh, I am getting along finely, thank you, sir."

"Do you think you will be strong enough to travel, soon?"

"Yes, sir," answered Frank, wondering what made the captain ask that
question.

"How would you enjoy a trip home?"

"Oh, I should enjoy it above all things, sir I never was away from
home so long before, in my life."

"Well," said the captain, as he rose to go, "you must hurry and get
well as fast as you can. The doctor told me that he thought you ought
to go North and recruit a little; so I wrote to the Admiral, and
obtained you a sick-leave. The dispatch boat will be along in a day
or two, and I will send you up the river on her. I think it is nothing
more than right that you should go home for a couple of months, at
least, for you have been through a good deal for a young man of your
age."

The thought that he was soon to see his home again did Frank more good
than all the medicine the doctor had given him; and, by the time the
mail steamer arrived, he was able to walk about. In two weeks they
arrived at Cairo. The steamer had scarcely touched the wharf-boat
before Archie, who had seen his cousin standing on deck, sprang on
board.

We can not describe the meeting. To Archie it was like finding one
risen from the dead; for he had heard of Frank's capture, and had
never expected to see him again. A multitude of questions were asked
and answered on both sides; and when Frank informed Archie that he
was on his way home, the latter abruptly left him, and hurried to the
fleet paymaster to ask permission to accompany his cousin. This, as
business was dull, and as Archie had always been very faithful, was
readily obtained. They made preparations for immediate departure.
After Archie had telegraphed to his father that Frank was safe--taking
care, however, not to say one word about their coming home--they took
their seats in the cars, and soon arrived safely in Portland. Frank
remained there only one day, and then set out for Lawrence.

Only those who have been in similar circumstances can imagine what
Frank's feelings were, as he stood on the deck of the Julia Burton,
and found himself once more in sight of his native village. Familiar
objects met his eye on every side. There were the weeds that
surrounded the perch-bed, where he, in company with George and Harry
Butler, was fishing when he made the acquaintance of Charles Morgan,
who was afterward the leader of the Regulators. Above the perch-bed
was the bass-ground, and to the left was Reynard's Island, where
the black fox had been captured. Near the middle of the river lay
Strawberry Island, which had been the silent witness of many a sailing
match between the yachts of the village; in short, every thing looked
exactly as it did when, just fifteen months before, he had sailed down
the river on that same steamer, on his way to Portland.

As soon as the steamer was made fast to the wharf, Frank gave his
trunk in charge of a drayman, and set out on foot for the cottage;
for, impatient as he was to get home, he wished to have time to enjoy
the sight of each familiar object along the road; besides, he wished
to come in upon his folks (who little dreamed that he was so near to)
suddenly, and take them by surprise. Every thing in the village, and
along the road, looked as natural as ever; not a tree, bush, or stump
seemed to have been removed. At length he reached the bend in the road
which brought him in sight of his home. He stopped to gaze upon the
scene. Not a thing about the house or orchard had been changed. He
noticed that a part of the rose-bush which covered his window, and
which had been broken off in a storm the night before he left, still
swung loose in the wind; and even his fish-pole, which he had hung up
under the eaves of his museum, had not been touched.

While he stood thus, trying in vain to choke back the tears, he was
aroused by a well-known bark; the next moment Brave bounded over the
fence, and came toward his master at the top of his speed. He had been
lying in his accustomed place in front of the house; he had seen Frank
approaching, and had recognized him in an instant. Frank wound his
arms around the faithful animal's neck, and, after caressing him for
a moment, again started toward the house, Brave leading the way, with
every demonstration of joy. As soon as Frank succeeded in quieting
him, he walked through the gate, noiselessly opened the door leading
into the hall, and paused to listen.

He heard Julia's voice singing one of his favorite songs, while a
loud clatter of dishes told him that Hannah was still in charge of the
kitchen.

Brave ran into the sitting-room, barking and whining furiously, and
Frank heard his mother say:

"Julia, I guess you did not close the front door when you came in. Be
quiet, Brave. What is the matter with you?" and Mrs. Nelson, dressed
in deep mourning, came into the hall. The next moment she was clasped
in her son's arms.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let those who have sons and brothers in the service imagine the joy
that prevailed in that house! They had heard of Frank's capture,
through Archie and the captain of the Ticonderoga, and, afterward,
that he was killed at Shreveport, while attempting to run by the
guards.

"Mother," said Frank, as soon as the greeting was over, "you told me,
when I went away, never to shrink from my duty, but always to do what
was required of me, no matter what the danger might be. Have I obeyed
your instructions?"

Reader, will you answer the question for her? and will you follow
Frank through his adventures before Vicksburg and on the Lower
Mississippi?

The End





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