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Title: Waring's Peril
Author: King, Charles, 1844-1933
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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"Ye-as, suh?"

"What time is it?"

"Gyahd-mountin' done gone, suh."

"The devil it has! What do you mean, sir, by allowing me to sleep on in
this shameless and unconscionable manner, when an indulgent government
is suffering for my services? What sort of day is it, sir?"

"Beautiful day, Mr. Waring."

"Then go at once to Mr. Larkin and tell him he can't wear his new silk
hat this morning,--I want it, and you fetch it. Don't allow him to ring
in the old one on you. Tell him I mean the new 'spring style' he just
brought from New York. Tell Mr. Ferry I want that new Hatfield suit of
his, and you get Mr. Pierce's silk umbrella; then come back here and
get my bath and my coffee. Stop there, Ananias! Give my pious regards
to the commanding officer, sir, and tell him that there's no drill for
'X' Battery this morning, as I'm to breakfast at Moreau's at eleven
o'clock and go to the _matinée_ afterwards."

"Beg pahdon, suh, but de cunnle's done ohdered review fo' de whole
command, suh, right at nine o'clock."

"So much the better. Then Captain Cram must stay, and won't need his
swell team. Go right down to the stable and tell Jeffers I'll drive at


"No buts, you incorrigible rascal! I don't pay you a princely salary to
raise obstacles. I don't pay you at all, sir, except at rare intervals
and in moments of mental decrepitude. Go at once! Allez! Chassez!

"But, lieutenant," says Ananias, his black face shining, his even white
teeth all agleam, "Captain Cram stopped in on de way back from stables
to say Glenco 'd sprained his foot and you was to ride de bay colt.
_Please_ get up, suh. Boots and Saddles 'll soun' in ten minutes."

"It won't, but if it does I'll brain the bugler. Tell him so. Tell
Captain Cram he's entirely mistaken: I won't ride the bay colt--nor
Glenco. I'm going driving, sir, with Captain Cram's own team and
road-wagon. Tell _him_ so. Going in forty-five minutes by my watch.
Where is it, sir?"

"It ain't back from de jeweller's, suh, where you done lef' it day
before yist'day; but his boy's hyuh now, suh, wid de bill for las' year.
What shall I tell him?"

"Tell him to go to--quarantine. No! Tell him the fever has broken out
here again, sir, and not to call until ten o'clock next spring,--next
mainspring they put in that watch. Go and get Mr. Merton's watch. Tell
him I'll be sure to overstay in town if he doesn't send it, and then I
can't take him up and introduce him to those ladies from Louisville
to-morrow. Impress that on him, sir, unless he's gone and left it on his
bureau, in which case impress the watch,--the watch, sir, in any case.
No! Stop again, Ananias; _not_ in any case, only in the gold
hunting-case; no other. Now then, vanish!"

"But, lieutenant, 'fo' Gawd, suh, dey'll put you in arrest if you cuts
drill dis time. Cunnle Braxton says to Captain Cram only two days ago,
suh, dat----"

But here a white arm shot out from a canopy of mosquito-netting, and
first a boot-jack, then a slipper, then a heavy top-boot, came whizzing
past the darky's dodging head, and, finding expostulation vain, that
faithful servitor bolted out in search of some ally more potent, and
found one, though not the one he sought or desired, just entering the
adjoining room.

A big fellow, too,--too big, in fact, to be seen wearing, as was the
fashion in the sixties, the shell jacket of the light artillery. He had
a full round body, and a full round ruddy face, and a little round
visorless cap cocked on one side of a round bullet head, not very full
of brains, perhaps, yet reputed to be fairly stocked with what is termed
"horse sense." His bulky legs were thrust deep in long boots, and
ornamented, so far as the skin-tight breeches of sky-blue were
concerned, with a scarlet welt along the seam, a welt that his comrades
were wont to say would make a white mark on his nose, so red and bulbous
was that organ. He came noisily in from the broad veranda overlooking
the parade-ground, glanced about on the disarray of the bachelor
sitting-room, then whirled on Ananias.

"Mr. Waring dressed?"

"No-o, suh; jus' woke up, suh; ain't out o' bed yit."

"The lazy vagabond! Just let me get at him a minute," said the big man,
tramping over to the door-way as though bent on invading the chamber
beyond. But Ananias had halted short at sight of the intruder, and stood
there resolutely barring the way.

"Beg pahdon, lieutenant, but Mr. Waring ain't had his bath yit. Can I
mix de lieutenant a cocktail, suh?"

"Can you? You black imp of Satan, why isn't it ready now, sir? Sure you
could have seen I was as dhry as a lime-kiln from the time I came
through the gate. Hware's the demijohn, you villain?"

"Bein' refilled, suh, down to de sto', but dar's a little on de
sideboa'd, suh," answered Ananias, edging over thither now that he had
lured the invader away from the guarded door-way. "Take it straight,
suh, o' wid bitters--o' toddy?"

"Faith, I'll answer ye as Pat did the parson: I'll take it straight
now, and then be drinkin' the toddy while your honor is mixin' the
punch. Give me hold of it, you smudge! and tell your masther it's
review,--full dress,--and it's time for him to be up. Has he had his two
cocktails yet?"

"The lieutenant doesn't care fo' any dis mawnin', suh. I'll fetch him
his coffee in a minute. Did you see de cunnle's oade'ly, suh? He was
lookin' fo' you a moment ago."

The big red man was gulping down a big drink of the fiery liquor at the
instant. He set the glass back on the sideboard with unsteady hand and
glared at Ananias suspiciously.

"Is it troot' you're tellin', nigger? Hwat did he say was wanted?"

"Didn't say, suh, but de cunnle's in his office. Yawnduh comes de
oade'ly, too, suh; guess he must have hyuhd you was over hyuh."

The result of this announcement was not unexpected. The big man made a
leap for the chamber door, only to find it slammed in his face from the
other side.

"Hwat the devil's the matter with your master this morning,
Ananias?--Waring! Waring, I say! Let me in: the K. O.'s orderly is
afther me, and all on account of your bringing me in at that hour last
night.--Tell him I've gone, Ananias.--Let me in, Waring, there's a good

"Go to blazes, Doyle!" is the unfeeling answer from the other side. "I'm
bathing." And a vigorous splashing follows the announcement.

"For the Lord's sake, Waring, let me in. Sure I can't see the colonel
now. If I could stand him off until review and inspection's over and
he's had his dhrink, he'd let the whole thing drop; but that blackguard
of a sinthry has given us away. Sure I told you he would."

"Then slide down the lightning-rod! Fly up the chimney! Evaporate! Dry
up and blow away, but get _out_! You can't come in here."

"Oh, for mercy's sake, Waring! Sure 'twas you that got me into the
scrape. You know that I was dhrunk when you found me up the levee. You
made me come down when I didn't want to. Hwat did I say to the man last
night, anyhow?"

"Say to him? Poor devil! why, you never can remember after you're drunk
what you've been doing the night before. Some time it'll be the death
of you. You abused him like a pickpocket,--the sergeant of the guard and
everybody connected with it."

"Oh, murther, murther, murther!" groaned the poor Irishman, sitting down
and covering his face with his hands. "Sure they'll court-martial me
this time without fail, and I know it. For God's sake, Waring, can't ye
let a fellow in and say that I'm not here?"

"Hyuh, dis way, lieutenant," whispered Ananias, mysteriously. "Slip out
on de po'ch and into Mr. Pierce's room. I'll tell you when he's gone."
And in a moment the huge bulk of the senior lieutenant of Light Battery
"X" was being boosted through a window opening from the gallery into the
bachelor den of the junior second lieutenant. No sooner was this done
than the negro servant darted back, closed and bolted the long green
Venetian blinds behind him, tiptoed to the bedroom door, and, softly
tapping, called,--

"Mr. Waring! Mr. Waring! get dressed quick as you can, suh; I'll lay out
your uniform in hyuh."

"I tell you, Ananias, I'm going to town, sir; not to any ridiculous
review. Go and get what I ordered you. See that I'm properly dressed,
sir, or I'll discharge you. Confound you, sir! there isn't a drop of
Florida water in this bath, and none on my bureau. Go and rob Mr.
Pierce,--or anybody."

But Ananias was already gone. Darting out on the gallery, he took a
header through the window of the adjoining quarters through which Mr.
Doyle had escaped, snatched a long flask from the dressing-table, and
was back in the twinkling of an eye.

"What became of Mr. Doyle?" asked Waring, as he thrust a bare arm
through a narrow aperture to receive the spoil. "Don't let him get
drunk; _he's_ got to go to review, sir. If he doesn't, Colonel Braxton
may be so inconsiderate as to inquire why both the lieutenants of 'X'
Battery are missing. Take good care of him till the review, sir, then
let him go to grass; and don't you dare leave me without Florida water
again, if you have to burglarize the whole post. What's Mr. Doyle doing,

"Peekin' froo de blin's in Mr. Pierce's room, suh; lookin' fo' de
oade'ly. I done told him de cunnle was ahter him, but he ain't, suh,"
chuckled Ananias. "I fixed it all right wid de gyahd dis mawnin', suh.
Dey won' tell 'bout his cuttin' up las' night. He'd forgot de whole
t'ing, suh; he allays does; he never does know what's happened de night
befo'. He wouldn't 'a' known about dis, but I told his boy Jim to tell
him 'bout it ahter stables. I told Jim to sweah dat dey'd repohted it to
de cunnle."

"Very well, Ananias; very well, sir; you're a credit to your name. Now
go and carry out my orders. Don't forget Captain Cram's wagon. Tell
Jeffers to be here with it on time." And the lieutenant returned to his
bath without waiting for reply.

"Ye-as, suh," was the subordinate answer, as Ananias promptly turned,
and, whistling cheerily, went banging out upon the gallery and
clattering down the open stairway to the brick-paved court below. Here
he as promptly turned, and, noiseless as a cat, shot up the stairway,
tiptoed back into the sitting-room, kicked off his low-heeled slippers,
and rapidly, but with hardly an audible sound, resumed the work on which
he had been engaged,--the arrangement of his master's kit.

Already, faultlessly brushed, folded and hanging over the back of a
chair close by the chamber door were the bright blue, scarlet-welted
battery trousers then in vogue, very snug at the knee, very springy over
the foot. Underneath them, spread over the square back of the chair, a
dark-blue, single-breasted frock-coat, hanging nearly to the floor, its
shoulders decked with huge epaulettes, to the right one of which were
attached the braid and loops of a heavy gilt aiguillette whose
glistening pendants were hung temporarily on the upper button. On the
seat of the chair was folded a broad soft sash of red silk net, its
tassels carefully spread. Beside it lay a pair of long buff gauntlets,
new and spotless. At the door, brilliantly polished, stood a pair of
buttoned gaiter boots, the heels decorated with small glistening brass
spurs. In the corner, close at hand, leaned a long curved sabre, its
gold sword-knot, its triple-guarded hilt, its steel scabbard and plated
bands and rings, as well as the swivels and buckle of the black
sword-belt, showing the perfection of finish in manufacture and care in
keeping. From a round leather box Ananias now extracted a new gold-wire
_fouragère_, which he softly wiped with a silk handkerchief, dandled
lovingly an instant the glistening tassels, coiled it carefully upon
the sash, then producing from the same box a long scarlet horsehair
plume he first brushed it into shimmering freedom from the faintest knot
or kink, then set it firmly through its socket into the front of a
gold-braided shako whose black front was decked with the embroidered
cross cannon of the regiment, surmounted by the arms of the United
States. This he noiselessly placed upon the edge of the mantel, stepped
back to complacently view his work, flicked off a possible speck of dust
on the sleeve of the coat, touched with a chamois-skin the gold crescent
of the nearest epaulette, then softly, noiselessly as before vanished
through the door-way, tiptoed to the adjoining window, and peeked in.
Mr. Doyle had thrown himself into Pierce's arm-chair, and was trying to
read the morning paper.

"Wunner what Mars'er Pierce will say when he gits back from breakfast,"
was Ananias's comment, as he sped softly down the stairs, a broad grin
on his black face, a grin that almost instantly gave place to
preternatural solemnity and respect as, turning sharply on the sidewalk
at the foot of the stairs, he came face to face with the battery
commander. Ananias would have passed with a low obeisance, but the
captain halted him short.

"Where's Mr. Waring, sir?"

"Dressin' fo' inspection, captain."

"He is? I just heard in the mess-room that he didn't propose
attending,--that he had an engagement to breakfast and was going in

"Ye-as, suh, ye-as, suh, General Roosseau, suh, expected de lieutenant
in to breakfast, but de moment he hyuhd 'twas review he ohdered me to
git everything ready, suh. I's goin' for de bay colt now. Beg pahdon,
captain, de lieutenant says is de captain goin' to wear gauntlets or
gloves dis mawnin'? He wants to do just as de captain does, suh."

What a merciful interposition of divine Providence it is that the
African cannot blush! Captain Cram looked suspiciously at the earnest,
unwinking, black face before him. Some memory of old college days
flitted through his mind at the moment. "O Kunopes!" ("thou dog-faced
one!") he caught himself muttering, but negro diplomacy was too much for
him, and the innocence in the face of Ananias would have baffled a man
far more suspicious. Cram was a fellow who loved his battery and his
profession as few men loved before. He was full of big ideas in one way
and little oddities in another. Undoubted ability had been at the bottom
of his selection over the head of many a senior to command one of the
light batteries when the general dismounting took place in '66. Unusual
attractions of person had won him a wife with a fortune only a little
later. The fortune had warranted a short leave abroad this very year.
(He would not have taken a day over sixty, for fear of losing his light
battery.) He had been a stickler for gauntlets on all mounted duty when
he went away, and he came home converted to white wash-leather gloves
because the British horse-artillery wore no other, "and they, sir, are
the nattiest in the world." He could not tolerate an officer whose soul
was not aflame with enthusiasm for battery duty, and so was perpetually
at war with Waring, who dared to have other aspirations. He delighted in
a man who took pride in his dress and equipment, and so rejoiced in
Waring, who, more than any subaltern ever attached to "X," was the very
glass of soldier fashion and mould of soldier form. He had dropped in at
the bachelor mess just in time to hear some gabbling youngster blurt
out a bet that Sam Waring would cut review and keep his tryst in town,
and he had known him many a time to overpersuade his superiors into
excusing him from duty on pretext of social claims, and more than once
into pardoning deliberate absence. But he and the post commander had
deemed it high time to block all that nonsense in future, and had so
informed him, and were nonplussed at Waring's cheery acceptance of the
implied rebuke and most airy, graceful, and immediate change of the
subject. The whole garrison was chuckling over it by night.

"Why, certainly, colonel," said he, "I _have_ been most derelict of late
during the visit of all these charming people from the North; and that
reminds me, some of them are going to drive out here to hear the band
this afternoon and take a bite at my quarters. I was just on my way to
beg Mrs. Braxton and Mrs. Cram to receive for me, when your orderly
came. And, colonel, I want your advice about the champagne. Of course I
needn't say I hope you both will honor me with your presence." Old Brax
loved champagne and salad better than anything his profession afforded,
and was disarmed at once. As for Cram, what could he say when the post
commander dropped the matter? With all his daring disregard of orders
and established customs, with all his consummate _sang-froid_ and what
some called impudence and others "cheek," every superior under whom he
had ever served had sooner or later become actually fond of Sam
Waring,--even stern old Rounds,--"old Double Rounds" the boys called
him, one of the martinets of the service, whose first experience with
the fellow was as memorable as it was unexpected, and who wound up,
after a vehement scoring of some two minutes' duration, during which
Waring had stood patiently at attention with an expression of the
liveliest sympathy and interest on his handsome face, by asking
impressively, "Now, sir, what have you to say for yourself?"

To which, with inimitable mixture of suavity and concern, Sam replied,
"Nothing whatever, sir. I doubt if anything more could be said. I had no
adequate idea of the extent of my misdoing. Have I your permission to
sit down, sir, and think it over?"

Rounds actually didn't know what to think, and still less what to say.
Had he believed for an instant that the young gentleman was insincere,
he would have had him in close arrest in the twinkling of an eye; but
Waring's tone and words and manner were those of contrition itself. It
was not possible that one of the boys should dare to be guying him, the
implacable Rounds, "old Grand Rounds" of the Sixth Corps, old Double
Rounds of the horse-artillery of the Peninsula days. Mrs. Rounds had her
suspicions when told of the affair, but was silent, for of all the
officers stationed in and around the old Southern city Sam Waring was by
long odds the most graceful and accomplished dancer and german leader,
the best informed on all manner of interesting matters,--social,
musical, dramatic, fashionable,--the prime mover in garrison hops and
parties, the connecting link between the families of the general and
staff officers in town and the linesmen at the surrounding posts, the
man whose dictum as to a dinner or luncheon and whose judgment as to a
woman's toilet were most quoted and least questioned, the man whose word
could almost make or mar an army girl's success; and good old Lady
Rounds had two such encumbrances the first winter of their sojourn in
the South, and two army girls among so many are subjects of not a little
thought and care. If Mr. Waring had not led the second german with
Margaret Rounds the mother's heart would have been well-nigh crushed. It
was fear of some such catastrophe that kept her silent on the score of
Waring's reply to her irate lord, for if Sam did mean to be impertinent,
as he unquestionably could be, the colonel she knew would be merciless
in his discipline and social amenities would be at instant end. Waring
had covered her with maternal triumph and Margaret with bliss
unutterable by leading the ante-Lenten german with the elder daughter
and making her brief stay a month of infinite joy. The Rounds were
ordered on to Texas, and Margaret's brief romance was speedily and
properly forgotten in the devotions of a more solid if less fascinating
fellow. To do Waring justice, he had paid the girl no more marked
attention than he showed to any one else. He would have led the next
german with Genevieve had there been another to lead, just as he had led
previous affairs with other dames and damsels. It was one of the
ninety-nine articles of his social faith that a girl should have a good
time her first season, just as it was another that a bride should have a
lovely wedding, a belle at least one offer a month, a married woman as
much attention at an army ball as could be lavished on a bud. He prided
himself on the fact that no woman at the army parties given that winter
had remained a wall-flower. Among such a host of officers as was there
assembled during the year that followed on the heels of the war it was
no difficult matter, to be sure, to find partners for the thirty or
forty ladies who honored those occasions with their presence. Of local
belles there were none. It was far too soon after the bitter strife to
hope for bliss so great as that. There were hardly any but army women to
provide for, and even the bulkiest and least attractive of the lot was
led out for the dance. Waring would go to any length to see them on the
floor but that of being himself the partner. There the line was drawn
irrevocably. The best dancer among the men, he simply would not dance
except with the best dancers among the women. As to personal appearance
and traits, it may be said first that Waring was a man of slender,
graceful physique, with singularly well shaped hands and feet and a
head and face that were almost too good-looking to be manly. Dark hazel
eyes, dark brown hair, eyebrows, lashes, and a very heavy drooping
moustache, a straight nose, a soft, sensitive mouth with even white
teeth that were, however, rarely visible, a clear-cut chin, and with it
all a soft, almost languid Southern intonation, musical, even
ultra-refined, and he shrank like a woman from a coarse word or the
utterance of an impure thought. He was a man whom many women admired, of
whom some were afraid, whom many liked and trusted, for he could not be
bribed to say a mean thing about one of their number, though he would
sometimes be satirical to her very face. It was among the men that Sam
Waring was hated or loved,--loved, laughed over, indulged, even spoiled,
perhaps, to any and every extent, by the chosen few who were his chums
and intimates, and absolutely hated by a very considerable element that
was prominent in the army in those queer old days,--the array of
officers who, by reason of birth, antecedents, lack of education or of
social opportunities, were wanting in those graces of manner and
language to which Waring had been accustomed from earliest boyhood. His
people were Southerners, yet, not being slave-owners, had stood firm for
the Union, and were exiled from the old home as a natural consequence in
a war in which the South held all against who were not for her.
Appointed a cadet and sent to the Military Academy in recognition of the
loyalty of his immediate relatives, he was not graduated until the war
was practically over, and then, gazetted to an infantry regiment, he was
stationed for a time among the scenes of his boyhood, ostracized by his
former friends and unable to associate with most of the war-worn
officers among whom his lot was cast. It was a year of misery, that
ended in long and dangerous illness, his final shipment to Washington on
sick-leave, and then a winter of keen delight, a social campaign in
which he won fame, honors, friends at court, and a transfer to the
artillery, and then, joining his new regiment, he plunged with eagerness
into the gayeties of city life. The blues were left behind with the cold
facings of his former corps, and hope, life, duty, were all blended in
hues as roseate as his new straps were red. It wasn't a month before all
the best fellows in the batteries swore by Sam Waring and all the
others at him, so that where there were five who liked there were at
least twenty who didn't, and these made up in quantity what they lacked
in quality.

To sum up the situation, Lieutenant Doyle's expression was perhaps the
most comprehensive, as giving the views of the great majority: "If I
were his K. O. and this crowd the coort, he'd 'a' been kicked out of the
service months ago."

And yet, entertaining or expressing so hostile an opinion of the
laughing lieutenant, Mr. Doyle did not hesitate to seek his society on
many an occasion when he wasn't wanted, and to solace himself at
Waring's sideboard at any hour of the day or night, for Waring kept what
was known as "open house" to all comers, and the very men who wondered
how he could afford it and who predicted his speedy swamping in a mire
of debt and disgrace were the very ones who were most frequently to be
found loafing about his gallery, smoking his tobacco and swigging his
whiskey, a pretty sure sign that the occupant of the quarters, however,
was absent. With none of their number had he ever had open quarrel.
Remarks made at his expense and reported to him in moments of bibulous
confidence he treated with gay disdain, often to the manifest
disappointment of his informant. In his presence even the most reckless
of their number were conscious of a certain restraint. Waring, as has
been said, detested foul language, and had a very quiet but effective
way of suppressing it, often without so much as uttering a word. These
were the rough days of the army, the very roughest it ever knew, the
days that intervened between the incessant strain and tension of the
four years' battling and the slow gradual resumption of good order and
military discipline. The rude speech and manners of the camp still
permeated every garrison. The bulk of the commissioned force was made up
of hard fighters, brave soldiers and loyal servants of the nation, to be
sure, but as a class they had known no other life or language since the
day of their muster-in. Of the line officers stationed in and around
this Southern city in the lovely spring-tide of 186-, of a force
aggregating twenty companies of infantry and cavalry, there were fifty
captains and lieutenants appointed from the volunteers, the ranks, or
civil life, to one graduated from West Point. The predominance was in
favor of ex-sergeants, corporals, or company clerks,--good men and true
when they wore the chevrons, but who, with a few marked and most
admirable exceptions, proved to be utterly out of their element when
promoted to a higher sphere. The entrance into their midst of Captain
Cram with his swell light battery, with officers and men in scarlet
plumes and full-dress uniforms, was a revelation to the sombre
battalions whose officers had not yet even purchased their epaulettes
and had seen no occasion to wear them. But when Cram and his lieutenants
came swaggering about the garrison croquet-ground in natty shell
jackets, Russian shoulder-knots, riding-breeches, boots, and spurs,
there were not lacking those among the sturdy foot who looked upon the
whole proceeding with great disfavor. Cram had two "rankers" with him
when he came, but one had transferred out in favor of Waring, and now
his battery was supplied with the full complement of subalterns,--Doyle,
very much out of place, commanding the right section (as a platoon was
called in those days), Waring commanding the left, Ferry serving as
chief of caissons, and Pierce as battery adjutant and general utility
man. Two of the officers were graduates of West Point and not yet three
years out of the cadet uniform. Under these circumstances it was
injudicious in Cram to sport in person the aiguillettes and thereby set
an example to his subalterns which they were not slow to follow. With
their gold hat-braids, cords, tassels, and epaulettes, with scarlet
plumes and facings, he and his officers were already much more
gorgeously bedecked than were their infantry friends. The post
commander, old Rounds, had said nothing, because he had had his start in
the light artillery and might have lived and died a captain had he not
pushed for a volunteer regiment and fought his way up to a division
command and a lieutenant-colonelcy of regulars at the close of the war,
while his seniors who stuck to their own corps never rose beyond the
possibilities of their arm of the service and probably never will. But
Braxton, who succeeded as post commander, knew that in European armies
and in the old Mexican War days the aiguillette was ordinarily the
distinctive badge of general officers or those empowered to give orders
in their name. It wasn't the proper thing for a linesman--battery,
cavalry, or foot--to wear, said Brax, and he thought Cram was wrong in
wearing it, even though some other battery officers did so. But Cram was
just back from Britain.

"Why, sir, look at the Life Guards! Look at the Horse Guards in London!
Every officer and man wears the aiguillette." And Braxton was a Briton
by birth and breeding, and that ended it,--at least so nearly ended it
that Cram's diplomatic invitation to come up and try some Veuve
Clicquot, extra dry, upon the merits of which he desired the colonel's
opinion, had settled it for good and all. Braxton's officers who
ventured to suggest that he trim the plumage of these popinjays only got
snubbed, therefore, for the time being, and ordered to buy the infantry
full dress forthwith, and Cram and his quartette continued to blaze
forth in gilded panoply until long after Sam Waring led his last german
within those echoing walls and his name lived only as a dim and
mist-wreathed memory in the annals of old Jackson Barracks.

But on this exquisite April morning no fellow in all the garrison was
more prominent, if not more popular. Despite the slight jealousy
existing between the rival arms of the service, there were good fellows
and gallant men among the infantry officers at the post, who were as
cordially disposed towards the gay lieutenant as were the comrades of
his own (colored) cloth. This is the more remarkable because he was
never known to make the faintest effort to conciliate anybody and was
utterly indifferent to public opinion. It would have been fortune far
better than his deserts, but for the fact that by nature he was most
generous, courteous, and considerate. The soldiers of the battery were
devoted to him. The servants, black or white, would run at any time to
do his capricious will. The garrison children adored him. There was
simply no subject under discussion at the barracks in those days on
which such utter variety of opinion existed as the real character of
Lieutenant Sam Waring. As to his habits there was none whatever. He was
a _bon vivant_, a "swell," a lover of all that was sweet and fair and
good and gracious in life. Self-indulgent, said everybody; selfish, said
some; lazy, said many, who watched him day-dreaming through the haze of
cigar-smoke until a drive, a hop, a ride, or an opera-party would call
him into action. Slow, said the men, until they saw him catch Mrs.
Winslow's runaway horse just at that ugly turn in the levee below the
south tower. Cold-hearted, said many of the women, until Baby Brainard's
fatal illness, when he watched by the little sufferer's side and brought
her flowers and luscious fruit from town, and would sit at her mother's
piano and play soft, sweet melodies and sing in low tremulous tone until
the wearied eyelids closed and the sleep no potion could bring to that
fever-racked brain would come at last for him to whom child-love was
incense and music at once a passion and a prayer. Men who little knew
and less liked him thought his enmity would be but light, and few men
knew him so well as to realize that his friendship could be firm and
true as steel.

And so the garrison was mixed in its mind as to Mr. Waring, and among
those who heard it said at the mess that he meant at all hazards to keep
his engagement to breakfast in town there were some who really wished he
might cut the suddenly-ordered review and thereby bring down upon his
shapely, nonchalant head the wrath of Colonel Braxton.

"Boots and Saddles" had sounded at the artillery barracks. Mr. Pierce,
as battery officer of the day, had clattered off through the north
gateway. The battery had marched with dancing plumes and clanking sabres
out to the stables and gun-shed. The horses of Lieutenants Doyle and
Ferry were waiting for their riders underneath the gallery of their
quarters. Captain Cram, in much state, followed by his orderly bugler
and guidon-bearer, all in full uniform, was riding slowly down the sunny
side of the garrison, and at sight of him Doyle and Ferry, who were
leisurely pulling on their gauntlets in front of their respective doors,
hooked up their sabres and came clattering down their stairway; but no
Waring had appeared. There, across the parade on the southern side, the
bay colt, caparisoned in Waring's unimpeachable horse-equipments, was
being led up and down in the shade of the quarters, Mr. Pierce's boy Jim
officiating as groom, while his confrère Ananias, out of sight, was at
the moment on his knees fastening the strap of his master's
riding-trousers underneath the dainty gaiter boot, Mr. Waring the while
surveying the proceeding over the rim of his coffee-cup.

"Dar, suh. Now into de coat, quick! Yawnduh goes Captain Cram."

"Ananias, how often have I told you that, howsoever necessary it might
be for you to hurry, I never do? It's unbecoming an officer and a
gentleman to hurry, sir."

"But you's got to inspect yo' section, suh, befo' you can repote to
Captain Cram. Please hurry wid de sash, suh." And, holding the belt
extended with both hands, Ananias stood eager to clasp it around
Waring's slender waist, but the lieutenant waved him away.

"Get thee behind me, imp of Satan! Would you have me neglect one of the
foremost articles of an artilleryman's faith? Never, sir! If there were
a wrinkle in that sash it would cut a chasm in my reputation, sir." And,
so saying, he stepped to the open door-way, threw the heavy tassel over
and around the knob, kissed his hand jauntily to his battery commander,
now riding down the opposite side of the parade, backed deliberately
away the full length of the sash across the room, then, humming a
favorite snatch from "Faust," deliberately wound himself into the bright
crimson web, and, making a broad flat loop near the farther end and
without stopping his song, nodded coolly to Ananias to come on with the
belt. In the same calm and deliberate fashion he finished his military
toilet, set his shako well forward on his forehead, the chin-strap
hanging just below the under lip, pulled on the buff gauntlets, surveyed
himself critically and leisurely in the glass, and then began slowly to
descend the stairs.

"Wait--jus' one moment, please, suh," implored Ananias, hastening after
him. "Jus' happened to think of it, suh: Captain Cram's wearin' gloves
dis mawnin'."

"Ah! So much the more chance to come back here in ten minutes.--Whoa,
coltikins: how are you this morning, sir? Think you could run away if I
begged you to pretty hard? You'll try, won't you, old boy?" said Waring,
stroking the glossy neck of the impatient bay.--"Now, Jim, let go. Never
allow anybody to hold a horse for you when you mount. That's highly
unprofessional, sir. That'll do." And, so saying, he swung himself into
saddle, and, checking the bounds of his excited colt, rode calmly away
to join the battery.

Already the bandsmen were marching through the north gate on the way to
the broad open field in which the manoeuvres were held. The adjutant,
sergeant-major, and markers were following. Just outside the gate the
post commander was seated on horseback, and Cram had reined in to speak
with him. Now, in his blithest, cheeriest tones, Waring accosted them,
raising his hand in salute as he did so:

"Good-morning, colonel. Good-morning, Captain Cram. We're in luck
to-day. Couldn't possibly have lovelier weather. I'm only sorry this
came off so suddenly and I hadn't time to invite our friends out from
town. They would have been so pleased to see the battalion;--the

"H'm! There was plenty of time if you'd returned to the post at retreat
yesterday, sir," growled old Braxton. "Everybody was notified who was
here then. What time _did_ you get back, sir?"

"Upon my word, colonel, I don't know. I never thought to look or
inquire; but it was long after taps. Pardon me, though, I see I'm late
inspecting." And in a moment he was riding quietly around among his
teams and guns, narrowly scrutinizing each toggle, trace, and strap
before taking station midway between his lead drivers, and then, as Cram
approached, reporting, "Left section ready, sir."

Meantime, the infantry companies were marching out through the gate and
then ordering arms and resting until adjutant's call should sound.
Drivers and cannoneers were dismounted to await the formation of the
battalion line. Waring rode forward and in the most jovial off-hand way
began telling Cram of the incidents of the previous day and his
sight-seeing with the party of visitors from the North.

"By the way, I promised Mr. Allerton that they should see that team of
yours before they left: so, if you've no objection, the first morning
you're on duty and can't go up, I'll take advantage of your invitation
and drive Miss Allerton myself. Doesn't that court adjourn this week?"

"I'm afraid not," said Cram, grimly. "It looks as though we'd have to
sit to-day and to-morrow both."

"Well, that's too bad! They all want to meet you again. Couldn't you
come up this evening after stables? Hello! this won't do; our infantry
friends will be criticising us: I see you're wearing gloves, and I'm in
gauntlets. So is Doyle. We can't fit him out, I'm afraid, but I've just
got some from New York exactly like yours. I'll trot back while we're
waiting, if you don't object, and change them."

Cram didn't want to say yes, yet didn't like to say no. He hesitated,
and--was lost. In another moment, as though never imagining refusal were
possible, Waring had quickly ridden away through the gate and
disappeared behind the high brick wall.

When the bugle sounded "mount," three minutes later, and the battery
broke into column of pieces to march away to the manoeuvring grounds,
Mr. Ferry left the line of caissons and took command of the rear
section. All that the battery saw of Waring or his mount the rest of the
morning was just after reaching the line, when the fiery colt came
tearing riderless around the field, joyously dodging every attempt of
the spectators to catch him, and revelling in the delight of kicking up
his heels and showing off in the presence and sight of his envious
friends in harness. Plunge though they might, the horses could not join;
dodge though they might, the bipeds could not catch him. Review,
inspection, and the long ceremonials of the morning went off without the
junior first lieutenant of Battery "X," who, for his part, went off
without ceremony of any kind, Cram's stylish team and wagon with him.
That afternoon he reappeared driving about the barrack square, a pretty
girl at his side, both engrossed in the music of the band and apparently
oblivious of the bottled-up wrath of either battery or post commander.

"Be gorra!" said Doyle, "I'd like to be in his place now, provided I
didn't have to be in it to-morrow."

But when the morrow came there came no Waring with it.


For twenty-four hours old Brax had been mad as a hornet. He was not much
of a drillmaster or tactician, but he thought he was, and it delighted
him to put his battalion through the form of review, the commands for
which he had memorized thoroughly and delivered with resonant voice and
with all proper emphasis. What he did not fancy, and indeed could not
do, was the drudge-work of teaching the minutiæ of the school of the
battalion, explaining each movement before undertaking its execution.
This was a matter he delegated to one of his senior captains. For a
week, therefore, in preparation for a possible visit on the part of the
new brigadier-general or his inspector, the six companies of the
regiment stationed at the post had been fairly well schooled in the
ceremonies of review and parade, and so long as nothing more was
required of them than a march past in quick time and a ten minutes'
stand in line all might go well. The general had unexpectedly appeared
one evening with only a single aide-de-camp, simply, as he explained, to
return the calls of the officers of the garrison, six or eight of whom
had known enough to present themselves and pay their respects in person
when he arrived in town. Braxton swelled with gratified pride at the
general's praise of the spick-span condition of the parade, the walks,
roads, and visible quarters. But it was the very first old-time garrison
the new chief had ever seen, a splendid fighting record with the
volunteers during the war, and the advantage of taking sides for the
Union from a doubtful State, having conspired to win him a star in the
regular service only a year or two before.

"We would have had out the battery and given you a salute, sir," said
Brax, "had we known you were coming; but it's after retreat now. Next
time, general, if you'll ride down some day, I'll be proud to give you a
review of the whole command. We have a great big field back here."

And the general had promised to come. This necessitated combined
preparation, hence the order for full-dress rehearsal with battery and
all, and then came confusion. Fresh from the command of his beautiful
horse-battery and the dashing service with a cavalry division, Cram
hated the idea of limping along, as he expressed it, behind a battalion
of foot, and said so, and somebody told Brax he had said so,--more than
one somebody, probably, for Brax had many an adviser to help keep him in
trouble. The order that Cram should appear for instruction in review of
infantry and artillery combined gave umbrage to the battery commander,
and his reported remarks thereupon, renewed cause for displeasure to his
garrison chief.

"So far as we're concerned," said Cram, who wanted to utilize the good
weather for battery drill, "we need no instruction, as we have done the
trick time and again before; and if we hadn't, who in the bloody
Fifty-First is there to teach us? Certainly not old Brax."

All the same the order was obeyed, and Cram started out that loveliest
of lovely spring mornings not entirely innocent of the conviction that
he and his fellows were going to have some fun out of the thing before
they got through with it. Not that he purposed putting any hitch or
impediment in the way. He meant to do just exactly as he was bid; and
so, when adjutant's call had sounded and the blue lines of the infantry
were well out on the field, he followed in glittering column of pieces,
his satin-coated horses dancing in sheer exuberance of spirits and his
red-crested cannoneers sitting with folded arms, erect and statuesque,
upon the ammunition-chests. Mrs. Cram, in her pretty basket phaeton,
with Mrs. Lawrence, of the infantry, and several of the ladies of the
garrison in ambulances or afoot, had taken station well to the front of
the forming line. Then it became apparent that old Brax purposed to
figure as the reviewing officer and had delegated Major Minor to command
the troops. Now, Minor had been on mustering and disbursing duty most of
the war, had never figured in a review with artillery before, and knew
no more about battery tactics than Cram did of diplomacy. Mounted on a
sedate old sorrel, borrowed from the quartermaster for the occasion,
with an antiquated, brass-bound Jenifer saddle, minus breast-strap and
housings of any kind, but equipped with his better half's brown leather
bridle, Minor knew perfectly well he was only a guy, and felt indignant
at Brax for putting him in so false a plight. He took his station,
however, in front of the regimental colors, without stopping to think
where the centre of the line might be after the battery came, and there
awaited further developments. Cram kept nobody waiting, however: his
leading team was close at the nimble heels of Captain Lawrence's company
as it marched gayly forth to the music of the band. He formed sections
at the trot the instant the ground was clear, then wheeled into line,
passed well to the rear of the prolongation of the infantry rank, and by
a beautiful countermarch came up to the front and halted exactly at the
instant that Lawrence, with the left flank company, reached his post,
each caisson accurately in trace of its piece, each team and carriage
exactly at its proper interval, and with his crimson silk guidon on the
right flank and little Pierce signalling "up" or "back" from a point
outside where he could verify the alignment of the gun-wheels on the
rank of the infantry, Cram was able to command "front" before little
Drake, the adjutant, should have piped out his shrill "Guides posts."

But Drake didn't pipe. There stood all the companies at support, each
captain at the inner flank, and the guides with their inverted muskets
still stolidly gazing along the line. It was time for him to pipe, but,
instead of so doing, there he stuck at the extreme right, glaring down
towards the now immovable battery and its serene commander, and the
little adjutant's face was getting redder and puffier every minute.

"Go ahead! What are you waiting for?" hoarsely whispered the senior

"Waiting for the battery to dress," was the stanch reply. Then aloud the
shrill voice swept down the line: "Dress that battery to the right!"

Cram looked over a glittering shoulder to the right of the line, where
stood the diminutive infantryman. The battery had still its war
allowance of horses, three teams to each carriage, lead, swing, and
wheel, and that brought its captain far out to the front of the sombre
blue rank of foot,--so far out, in fact, that he was about on line with
Major Minor, though facing in opposite direction. Perfectly confident
that he was exactly where he should be, yet equally determined to abide
by any order he might receive, even though he fully understood the cause
of Drake's delay, Cram promptly rode over to the guidon and ordered
"Right dress," at which every driver's head and eyes were promptly
turned, but not an inch of a wheel, for the alignment simply could not
be improved. Then after commanding "front" the captain as deliberately
trotted back to his post without so much as a glance at the irate staff
officer. It was just at this juncture that the bay colt came tearing
down the field, his mane and tail streaming in the breeze, his reins and
stirrups dangling. In the course of his gyrations about the battery and
the sympathetic plunging of the teams some slight disarrangement
occurred. But when he presently decided on a rush for the stables, the
captain re-established the alignment as coolly as before, and only
noticed as he resumed his post that the basket phaeton and Mrs. Cram had
gone. Alarmed, possibly, by the non-appearance of her warm friend Mr.
Waring and the excited gambolings of his vagrant steed, she had promptly
driven back to the main garrison to see if any accident had occurred,
the colt meantime amusing himself in a game of fast-and-loose with the
stable guard.

Then it was that old Brax came down and took a hand. Riding to where
Minor still sat on his patient sorrel, the senior bluntly inquired,--

"What the devil's the matter?"

"I don't know," said Minor.

"Who does know?"

"Well, Drake, possibly, or else he doesn't know anything. He's been
trying to get Cram to dress his battery back."

"Why, yes, confound it! he's a mile ahead of the line," said the
colonel, and off he trotted to expostulate with the batteryman. "Captain
Cram, isn't there room for your battery back of the line instead of in
front of it?" inquired the chief, in tone both aggrieved and aggressive.

"Lots, sir," answered Cram, cheerfully. "Just countermarched there."

"Then I wish you'd oblige me by moving back at once, sir: you're
delaying the whole ceremony here. I'm told Mr. Drake has twice ordered
you to dress to the right."

"I've heard it, sir, only once, but have dressed twice, so it's all
right," responded Cram, as affably as though he had no other aim in life
than to gratify the whims of his post commander.

"Why, confound it, sir, it isn't all right by a da---- good deal! Here
you are 'way out on line with Major Minor, and your battery's----  why,
it isn't dressed on our rank at all, sir. Just look at it."

Cram resumed the carry with the sabre he had lowered in salute, calmly
reversed so as to face his battery, and, with preternatural gravity of
mien, looked along his front. There midway between his lead drivers sat
Mr. Doyle, his face well-nigh as red as his plume, his bleary eyes
nearly popping out of his skull in his effort to repress the emotions
excited by this colloquy. There midway between the lead drivers in the
left section sat Mr. Ferry, gazing straight to the front over the
erected ears of his handsome bay and doing his very best to keep a
solemn face, though the unshaded corners of his boyish mouth were
twitching with mischief and merriment. There, silent, disciplined, and
rigid, sat the sergeants, drivers, and cannoneers of famous old Light
Battery "X," all agog with interest in the proceedings and all looking
as though they never heard a word.

"I declare, sir," said Cram, with exasperating civility, "I can see
nothing out of the way. Will you kindly indicate what is amiss?"

This was too much for Ferry. In his effort to restrain his merriment
and gulp down a rising flood of laughter there was heard an explosion
that sounded something like the sudden collapse of an inflated paper
bag, and old Brax, glaring angrily at the boy, now red in the face with
mingled mirth and consternation, caught sudden idea from the sight. Was
the battery laughing at--was the battery commander guying--him? Was it
possible that they were profiting by his ignorance of their regulations?
It put him on his guard and suggested a tentative.

"Do you mean that you are right in being so far ahead of our line
instead of dressed upon it?" asked he of the big blond soldier in the
glittering uniform. "Where do you find authority for it?"

"Oh, perfectly right, colonel. In fact, for six years past I've never
seen it done any other way. You'll find the authority on page 562, Field
Artillery Tactics of 1864."

For a moment Brax was dumb; he had long heard of Cram as an expert in
his own branch of the service; but presently he burst forth:

"Well, in _our_ tactics there's reason for every blessed thing we do,
but I'll be dinged if I can see rhyme or reason in such a formation as
that. Why, sir, your one company takes up more room than my six,--makes
twice as much of a show. Of course if a combined review is to show off
the artillery it's all very well. However, go ahead, if you think you're
right, sir; go ahead! I'll inquire into this later."

"I know we're right, colonel; and as for the reason, you'll see it when
you open ranks for review and we come to 'action front:' then our line
will be exactly that of the infantry. Meantime, sir, it isn't for us to
go ahead. We've gone as far as we can until your adjutant makes the next

But Braxton had ridden away disgusted before Cram wound up his remarks.

"Go on, Major Minor; just run this thing without reference to the
battery. Damned if I understand their methods. Let Cram look after his
own affairs; if he goes wrong, why--it's none of our concern."

And so Minor had nodded "Go ahead" to Mr. Drake, and presently the whole
command made its bow, so to speak, to Minor as its immediate chief, and
then he drew sword and his untried voice became faintly audible. The
orders "Prepare for review" and "To the rear open order" were instantly
followed by a stentorian "Action front" down at the left, the instant
leap and rush of some thirty nimble cannoneers, shouts of "Drive on!"
the cracking of whips, the thunder and rumble of wheels, the thud of
plunging hoofs. Forty-eight mettlesome horses in teams of two abreast
went dancing briskly away to the rear, at sight of which Minor dropped
his jaw and the point of his sword and sat gazing blankly after them,
over the bowed head of his placid sorrel, wondering what on earth it
meant that they should all be running away at the very instant when he
expected them to brace up for review. But before he could give utterance
to his thoughts eight glossy teams in almost simultaneous sweep to the
left about came sharply around again. The black muzzles of the guns were
pointed to the front, every axle exactly in the prolongation of his
front rank, every little group of red-topped, red-trimmed cannoneers
standing erect and square, the chiefs of section and of pieces sitting
like statues on their handsome horses, the line of limbers accurately
covering the guns, and, still farther back, Mr. Pierce could be heard
shouting his orders for the alignment of the caissons. In the twinkling
of an eye the rush and thunder were stilled, the battery without the
twitch of a muscle stood ready for review, and old Brax, sitting in
saddle at the reviewing point, watching the stirring sight with gloomy
and cynical eye, was chafed still more to hear in a silvery voice from
the group of ladies the unwelcome words, "Oh, wasn't that pretty!" He
meant with all his heart to pull in some of the plumage of those
confounded "woodpeckers," as he called them, before the day was over.

In grim silence, therefore, he rode along the front of the battalion,
taking little comfort in the neatness of their quaint old-fashioned
garb, the single-breasted, long-skirted frock-coats, the bulging black
felt hats looped up on one side and decked with skimpy black feather,
the glistening shoulder-scales and circular breastplates, the polish of
their black leather belts, cartridge- and cap-boxes and
bayonet-scabbards. It was all trim and soldierly, but he was bottling up
his sense of annoyance for the benefit of Cram and his people. Yet what
could he say? Neither he nor Minor had ever before been brought into
such relations with the light artillery, and he simply didn't know where
to hit. Lots of things looked queer, but after this initial experience
he felt it best to say nothing until he could light on a point that no
one could gainsay, and he found it in front of the left section.

"Where is Mr. Waring, sir?" he sternly asked.

"I wish I knew, colonel. His horse came back without him, as you
doubtless saw, and, as he hasn't appeared, I'm afraid of accident."

"How did he come to leave his post, sir? I have no recollection of
authorizing anything of the kind."

"Certainly not, colonel. He rode back to his quarters with my consent
before adjutant's call had sounded, and he should have been with us
again in abundant time."

"That young gentleman needs more discipline than he is apt to receive at
this rate, Captain Cram, and I desire that you pay closer attention to
his movements than you have done in the past.--Mr. Drake," he said to
his adjutant, who was tripping around after his chief afoot, "call on
Mr. Waring to explain his absence in writing and without delay.--This
indifference to duty is something to which I am utterly unaccustomed,"
continued Braxton, again addressing Cram, who preserved a most
uncompromising serenity of countenance; and with this parting shot the
colonel turned gruffly away and soon retook his station at the reviewing

Then came the second hitch. Minor had had no experience whatever, as has
been said, and he first tried to wheel into column of companies without
closing ranks, whereupon every captain promptly cautioned "Stand fast,"
and thereby banished the last remnant of Minor's senses. Seeing that
something was wrong, he tried again, this time prefacing with "Pass in
review," and still the captains were implacable. The nearest one, in a
stage whisper, tried to make the major hear "Close order, first." But
all the time Brax was losing more of his temper and Minor what was left
of his head, and Brax came down like the wolf on the fold, gave the
command to "Close order" himself, and was instantly echoed by Cram's
powerful shout "Limber to the rear," followed by "Pieces left about!
Caissons forward!" Then in the rumble and clank of the responding
battery, Minor's next command was heard by only the right wing of the
battalion, and the company wheels were ragged. So was the next part of
the performance when he started to march in review, never waiting, of
course, for the battery to wheel into column of sections. This omission,
however, in no wise disconcerted Cram, who, following at rapid walk,
soon gained on the rear of column, passing his post commander in
beautiful order and with most accurate salute on the part of himself and
officers, and, observing this, Minor took heart, and, recovering his
senses to a certain extent, gave the command "Guide left" in abundant
time to see that the new guides were accurately in trace, thereby
insuring what he expected to find a beautiful wheel into line to the
left, the commands for which movement he gave in louder and more
confident tone, but was instantly nonplussed by seeing the battery wheel
into line to the _right_ and move off in exactly the opposite direction
from what he had expected. This was altogether too much for his
equanimity. Digging his spurs into the flanks of the astonished sorrel,
he darted off after Cram, waving his sword, and shouting,--

"_Left_ into line wheel, captain. _Left_ into line wheel."

In vain Mr. Pierce undertook to explain matters. Minor presumed that
the artilleryman had made an actual blunder and was only enabled to
correct it by a countermarch, and so rode back to his position in front
of the centre of the reforming line, convinced that at last he had
caught the battery commander.

When Braxton, therefore, came down to make his criticisms and comments
upon the conduct of the review, Minor was simply amazed to find that
instead of being in error Cram had gone exactly right and as prescribed
by his drill regulations in wheeling to the right and gaining ground to
the rear before coming up on the line. He almost peevishly declared that
he wished the colonel, if he proposed having a combined review, would
assume command himself, as he didn't care to be bothered with
combination tactics of which he had never had previous knowledge. Being
of the same opinion, Braxton himself took hold, and the next
performance, though somewhat erroneous in many respects, was a slight
improvement on the first, though Braxton did not give time for the
battery to complete one movement before he would rush it into another.
When the officers assembled to compare notes during the rest after the
second repetition, Minor growled that this was "a little better, yet not
good," which led to some one suggesting in low tone that the major got
his positives and comparatives worse mixed than his tactics, and
inquiring further "whether it might not be well to dub him Minor Major."
The laughter that followed this sally naturally reached the ears of the
seniors, and so Brax never let up on the command until the review went
off without an error of any appreciable weight, without, in fact, "a
hitch in the fut or an unhitch in the harse," as Doyle expressed it. It
was high noon when the battalion got back to barracks and the officers
hung out their moist clothing to dry in the sun. It was near one when
the battery men, officers and all, came steaming up from the stables,
and there was the colonel's orderly with the colonel's compliments and
desires to see Captain Cram before the big battery man had time to
change his dress.

Braxton's first performance on getting into cool habiliments was to go
over to his office and hunt through the book-shelves for a volume in
which he never before had felt the faintest interest,--the Light
Artillery Tactics of 1864. There on his desk lay a stack of mail
unopened, and Mr. Drake was already silently inditing the summary note
to the culprit Waring. Brax wanted first to see with his own eyes the
instructions for light artillery when reviewed with other troops,
vaguely hoping that there might still he some point on which to catch
his foeman on the hip. But if there were he did not find it. He was
tactician enough to see that even if Cram had formed with his leading
drivers on line with the infantry, as Braxton thought he should have
done, neither of the two methods of forming into battery would then have
got his guns where they belonged. Cram's interpretation of the text was
backed by the custom of service, and there was no use criticising it
further. And so, after discontentedly hunting through the dust-covered
pages awhile in hopes of stumbling on some codicil or rebuttal, the
colonel shut it with a disgusted snap and tossed the offending tome on
the farthest table. At that moment Brax could have wished the board of
officers who prepared the Light Artillery Tactics in the nethermost
depths of the neighboring swamp. Then he turned on his silent staff
officer,--a not unusual expedient.

"Why on earth, Mr. Drake, didn't you look up that point, instead of
making such a break before the whole command?"

"I couldn't find anything about it in Casey, sir, anywhere," replied the
perturbed young man. "I didn't know where else to look."

"Well, you might have asked Mr. Ferry or Mr. Pierce. The Lord knows you
waste enough time with 'em."

"_You_ might have asked Captain Cram," was what Drake wanted to say, but
wisely did not. He bit the end of his penholder instead, and bridled his
tongue and temper.

"The next time I have a review with a mounted battery, by George!" said
the post commander, finally, bringing his fist down on the table with a
crash, "I just--won't have it."

He had brought down the pile of letters as well as his fist, and Drake
sprang to gather them, replacing them on the desk and dexterously
slipping a paper-cutter under the flap of each envelope as he did so. At
the very first note he opened, Brax threw himself back in his chair with
a long whistle of mingled amazement and concern, then turned suddenly on
his adjutant.

"What became of Mr. Waring? He wasn't hurt?"

"Not a bit, sir, that I know of. He drove to town with Captain Cram's
team,--at least I was told so,--and left that note for you there, sir."

"He did!--left the post and left a note for me? Why!----" But here
Braxton broke off short, tore open the note, and read:

"MY DEAR COLONEL,--I trust you will overlook the informality of my going
to town without previously consulting you. I had purposed, of course,
asking your permission, but the mishap that befell me in the runaway of
my horse prevented my appearance at the review, and had I waited your
return from the field it would have compelled me to break my engagement
with our friends the Allertons. Under the circumstances I felt sure of
your complaisance.

"As I hope to drive Miss Allerton down after the _matinée_, might it not
be a good idea to have dress-parade and the band out? They have seen the
battery drills, but are much more desirous of seeing the infantry.
                    "Most sincerely yours,
                                   "S. G. WARING."

"Well, for consummate impudence this beats the Jews!" exclaimed Brax.
"Orderly, my compliments to Captain Cram, and say I wish to see him at
once, if he's back from stables."

Now, as has been said, Cram had had no time to change to undress
uniform, but Mrs. Cram had received the orderly's message, had informed
that martial Mercury that the captain was not yet back from stables, and
that she would tell him at once on his return. Well she knew that
mischief was brewing, and her woman's wit was already enlisted in behalf
of her friend. Hurriedly pencilling a note, she sent a messenger to her
liege, still busy with his horses, to bid him come to her, if only for a
moment, on his way to the office. And when he came, heated, tired, but
bubbling over with eagerness to tell her of the fun they had been having
with Brax, she met him with a cool tankard of "shandygaff," which he had
learned to like in England among the horse-artillery fellows, and
declared the very prince of drinks after active exercise in hot weather.
He quaffed it eagerly, flung off his shako and kissed her gratefully,
and burst all at once into laughing narration of the morning's work, but
she checked him:

"Ned, dear, don't stop for that yet. I know you're too full of tact to
let Colonel Braxton see it was any fun for you, and he's waiting at the
office. Something tells me it's about Mr. Waring. Now put yourself in
Mr. Waring's place. Of course he ought never to have made that
engagement until he had consulted you, but he never dreamed that there
would be a review to-day, and so he invited the Allertons to breakfast
with him at Moreau's and go to the _matinée_."

"Why, that rascal Ananias said it was to breakfast at the general's,"
interrupted the battery commander.

"Well, perhaps he was invited there too. I believe I did hear something
of that. But he had made this arrangement with the Allertons. Now, of
course, if review were over at ten he could just about have time to
dress and catch the eleven-o'clock car, but that would make it very
late, and when Bay Billy broke away from Ananias nobody could catch him
for over half an hour. Mr. Ferry had taken the section, Mr. Waring
wasn't needed, and---- Why, Ned, when I drove in, fearing to
find him injured, and saw him standing there the picture of
consternation and despair, and he told me about his engagement, I said
myself, 'Why don't you go now?' I told him it was what you surely would
say if you were here. Neither of us thought the colonel would object, so
long as you approved, and he wrote such a nice note. Why, Ned, he only
just had time to change his dress and drive up with Jeffers----"

"With Jeffers? With my--er--our team and wagon? Well, I like----"

"Of course you like it, you old darling. She's such a dear girl, though
just a little bit gushing, you know. Why, I said, certainly the team
should go. But, Ned, here's what I'm afraid of. Mrs. Braxton saw it
drive in at nine-thirty, just after Billy ran away, and she asked
Jeffers who was going, and he told her Mr. Waring, and she has told the
colonel, I'll wager. Now, what you have got to do is to explain that to
him, so that he won't blame Mr. Waring."

"The dickens I have! The most barefaced piece of impudence even Sam
Waring was ever guilty of--to me, at least, though I've no doubt he's
done worse a dozen times. Why, bless your heart, Nell, how can I
explain? You might, but----"

"But would you have me suppose my big soldier couldn't handle that
matter as well as I? No, sir! Go and do it, sir. And, mind you, I'm
going to invite them all up here to the gallery to hear the band play
and have a cup of tea and a nibble when they come down this evening.
He's going to drive the Allertons here."

"Worse and more of it! Why, you conspiracy in petticoats, you'll be the
ruin of me! Old Brax is boiling over now. If he dreams that Waring has
been taking liberties with him he'll fetch him up so short----"

"Exactly! You mustn't let him. You must tell him I sent him up with your
team--yours, mind you--to keep his engagement, since it was impossible
for him to come back to review ground. Of course he wouldn't expect him
to appear afoot."

"Don't know about that, Nell. I reckon that's the way he'll order out
the whole gang of us next time. He's had his fill of mounted work

"Well, if he should, you be sure to acquiesce gracefully now. Whatsoever
you do, don't let him put Mr. Waring in arrest while Gwen Allerton is
here. It would spoil--everything."

"Oh, match-making, is it? Then I'll try." And so, vexed, but laughing,
half indignant, yet wholly subordinate to the whim of his beloved better
half, the captain hastened over, and found Colonel Braxton sitting with
gloomy brow at his littered desk, his annoyance of the morning evidently
forgotten in matters more serious.

"Oh--er--Cram, come in, come in, man," said he, distractedly. "Here's a
matter I want to see you about. It's--well, just take that letter and
read. Sit down, sit down. Read, and tell me what we ought to do about

And as Cram's blue eyes wandered over the written page they began to
dilate. He read from start to finish, and then dropped his head into his
hand, his elbow on his knee, his face full of perplexity and concern.

"What do you think of it? Is there any truth----" and the colonel

"As to their being seen together, perhaps. As to the other,--the
challenge,--I don't believe it."

"Well, Cram, this is the second or third letter that has come to me in
the same hand. Now, you must see to it that he returns and doesn't quit
the post until this matter is arranged."

"I'll attend to it, sir," was the answer.

And so that evening, while Waring was slowly driving his friends about
the shaded roads under the glistening white pillars of the rows of
officers' quarters, chatting joyously with them and describing the
objects so strange to their eyes, Mrs. Cram's "little foot-page" came to
beg that they should alight a few minutes and take a cup of tea. They
could not. The Allertons were engaged, and it was necessary to drive
back at once to town, but they stopped for a moment to chat with their
pretty hostess under the gallery, and then a moment later, as they
rolled out of the resounding sally-port, an orderly ran up, saluted, and
slipped a note in Waring's hand.

"It is immediate, sir," was his explanation.

"Ah! Miss Allerton, will you pardon me one moment?" said Waring, as he
shifted whip and reins into the left hand and turned coolly up the levee
road. Then with the right he forced open and held up the missive.

It only said, "Whatsoever you do, be here before taps to-night. Come
direct to me, and I will explain.
                                     "Your friend,

"All right," said Waring, aloud. "My compliments to the captain, and
say I'll be with him."

But even with this injunction he failed to appear. Midnight came without
a word from Waring, and the morning dawned and found him absent still.


It was one of Sam Waring's oddities that, like the hero of "Happy
Thoughts," other people's belongings seemed to suit him so much better
than his own. The most immaculately dressed man in the regiment, he was
never satisfied with the result of the efforts of the New York artists
whom he favored with his custom and his criticism. He would wear three
or four times a new coat just received from that metropolis, and spend
not a little time, when not on duty or in uniform, in studying
critically its cut and fit in the various mirrors that hung about his
bachelor den, gayly humming some operatic air as he conducted the
survey, and generally winding up with a wholesale denunciation of the
cutter and an order to Ananias to go over and get some other fellow's
coat, that he might try the effect of that. These were liberties he took
only with his chums and intimates, to be sure, but they were liberties
all the same, and it was delicious to hear the laugh with which he
would tell how Pierce had to dress in uniform when he went up to the
opera Thursday night, or how, after he had worn Ferry's stylish morning
suit to make a round of calls in town and that young gentleman later on
went up to see a pretty girl in whom he felt a growing interest, her
hateful little sister had come in and commented on his "borrowing Mr.
Waring's clothes." No man in the battery would ever think of refusing
Sam the use of anything he possessed, and there were half a dozen young
fellows in the infantry who were just as ready to pay tribute to his
whims. Nor was it among the men alone that he found such indulgence.
Mrs. Cram had not known him a fortnight when, with twinkling eyes and a
betraying twitch about the corners of his mouth, he appeared one morning
to say he had invited some friends down to luncheon at the officers'
mess and the mess had no suitable china, therefore he would thank her to
send over hers, also some table-cloths and napkins, and forks and
spoons. When the Forty-Sixth Infantry were on their way to Texas and the
officers' families were entertained over-night at the barracks and his
rooms were to be occupied by the wife, sister, and daughters of Captain
Craney, Waring sent the battery team and spring wagon to town with a
note to Mrs. Converse, of the staff, telling her the ladies had said so
much about the lovely way her spare rooms were furnished that he had
decided to draw on her for wash-bowls, pitchers, mosquito-frames, nets
and coverlets, blankets, pillows, slips, shams, and anything else she
might think of. And Mrs. Converse loaded up the wagon accordingly. This
was the more remarkable in her case because she was one of the women
with whom he had never yet danced, which was tantamount to saying that
in the opinion of this social bashaw Mrs. Converse was not considered a
good partner, and, as the lady entertained very different views on that
subject and was passionately fond of dancing, she had resented not a
little the line thus drawn to her detriment. She not only loaned,
however, all he asked for, but begged to be informed if there were not
something more she could do to help entertain his visitors. Waring sent
her some lovely flowers the next week, but failed to take her out even
once at the staff german. Mrs. Cram was alternately aghast and
delighted at what she perhaps justly called his incomparable impudence.
They were coming out of church together one lovely morning during the
winter. There was a crowd in the vestibule. Street dresses were then
worn looped, yet there was a sudden sound of rip, rent, and tear, and a
portly woman gathered up the trailing skirt of a costly silken gown and
whirled with annihilation in her eyes upon the owner of the offending

"That is far too elegant a skirt to be worn unlooped, madame," said Mrs.
Cram's imperturbable escort, in his most suave and dulcet tones, lifting
a glossy silk hat and bowing profoundly. And Mrs. Cram laughed all the
way back to barracks at the recollection of the utter discomfiture in
the woman's face.

These are mere specimen bricks from the fabric which Waring had builded
in his few months of artillery service. The limits of the story are all
too contracted to admit of extended detail. So, without further
expansion, it may be said that when he drove up to town on this eventful
April day in Cram's wagon and Larkin's hat and Ferry's Hatfield clothes,
with Pierce's precious London umbrella by his side and Merton's watch
in his pocket, he was as stylish and presentable a fellow as ever issued
from a battery barrack, and Jeffers, Cram's English groom, mutely
approved the general appearance of his prime favorite among the officers
at the post, at most of whom he opened his eyes in cockney amaze, and
critically noted the skill with which Mr. Waring tooled the spirited
bays along the levee road.

Nearly a mile above the barracks, midway between the long embankment to
their left and the tall white picket fence surmounted by the olive-green
foliage of magnolias and orange-trees on the other hand, they had come
upon a series of deep mud-holes in the way, where the seepage-water from
the rapidly-rising flood was turning the road-way into a pond. Stuck
helplessly in the mud, an old-fashioned cabriolet was halted. Its driver
was out and up to his knees thrashing vainly at his straining,
staggering horse. The tortuous road-way was blocked, but Waring had been
up and down the river-bank too many times both day and night to be
daunted by a matter so trivial. He simply cautioned Jeffers to lean well
over the inner wheel, guided his team obliquely up the slope of the
levee, and drove quietly along its level top until abreast the scene of
the wreck. One glance into the interior of the cab caused him suddenly
to stop, to pass the reins back to Jeffers, to spring down the slope
until he stood at the edge of the sea of mud. Here he raised his hat and

"Madame Lascelles! madame! this is indeed lucky--for me. Let me get you

At his call a slender, graceful woman who was gazing in anxiety and
dismay from the opposite side of the cab and pleading with the driver
not to beat his horse, turned suddenly, and a pair of lovely dark eyes
lighted up at sight of his face. Her pallor, too, gave instant place to
a warm flush. A pretty child at her side clapped her little hands and
screamed with delight,--

"_Maman! maman! C'est M'sieu_' Vayreeng; _c'est_ Sa-am."

"Oh, Monsieur Wareeng! I'm so glad you've come! Do speak to that man! It
is horrible the way he beat that poor horse.--_Mais non_, Nin Nin!" she
cried, reproving the child, now stretching forth her little arms to her
friend and striving to rise and leap to him.

"I'd like to know how in hell I'm to get this cab out of such a hole as
this if I don't beat him," exclaimed the driver, roughly. Then once
more, "Dash blank dash your infernal hide! I'll learn you to balk with
me again!" Then down came more furious lashes on the quivering hide, and
the poor tortured brute began to back, thereby placing the frail
four-wheeler in imminent danger of being upset.

"Steady there! Hold your hand, sir! Don't strike that horse again. Just
stand at his head a moment and keep quiet till I get these ladies out,"
called Waring, in tone quiet yet commanding.

"I'll get 'em out myself in my own way, if they'll only stop their
infernal yellin'," was the coarse reply.

"Oh, Monsieur Wareeng," exclaimed the lady in undertone, "the man has
been drinking, I am sure. He has been so rude in his language."

Waring waited for no more words. Looking quickly about him, he saw a
plank lying on the levee slope. This he seized, thrust one end across
the muddy hole until it rested in the cab, stepped lightly across, took
the child in his arms, bore her to the embankment and set her down,
then sprang back for her young mother, who, trembling slightly, rose and
took his outstretched hand just as another lash fell on the horse's back
and another lurch followed. Waring caught at the cab-rail with one hand,
threw the other arm about her slender waist, and, fairly lifting little
Madame over the wheel, sprang with her to the shore, and in an instant
more had carried her, speechless and somewhat agitated, to the top of
the levee.

"Now," said he, "let me drive you and Nin Nin wherever you were going.
Is it to market or church?"

"_Mais non_--to _bonne maman's_, of whom it is the _fête_," cried the
eager little one, despite her mother's stern orders of silence. "Look!"
she exclaimed, showing her dainty little legs and feet in creamy silken
hose and kid.

It was "bonne maman," explained Madame, who had ordered the cab from
town for them, never dreaming of the condition of the river road or
suspecting that of the driver.

"So much the happier for me," laughed Waring.--"Take the front seat,
Jeffers.--Now, Nin Nin, _ma fleurette_, up with you!" And the delighted
child was lifted to her perch in the stylish trap she had so often
admired. "Now, madame," he continued, extending his hand.

But Madame hung back, hesitant and blushing.

"Oh, Monsieur Wareeng, I cannot, I must not. Is it not that some one
shall extricate the cab?"

"No one from this party, at least," laughed Waring, mischievously making
the most of her idiomatic query. "Your driver is more _cochon_ than
_cocher_, and if he drowns in that mud 'twill only serve him right. Like
your famous compatriot, he'll have a chance to say, 'I will drown, and
no one shall help me,' for all I care. The brute! _Allons!_ I will drive
you to _bonne maman's_ of whom it is the _fête_. Bless that baby
daughter! And Madame d'Hervilly shall bless Nin Nin's _tout dévoué_

And Madame Lascelles found further remonstrance useless. She was lifted
into the seat, by which time the driver, drunken and truculent, had
waded after them.

"Who's to pay for this?" was his surly question.

"You, I fancy, as soon as your employer learns of your driving into that
hole," was Waring's cool reply.

"Well, by God, I want five dollars for my fare and trouble, and I want
it right off." And, whip in hand, the burly, mud-covered fellow came
lurching up the bank. Across the boggy street beyond the white picket
fence the green blinds of a chamber window in an old-fashioned Southern
house were thrown open, and two feminine faces peered forth, interested
spectators of the scene.

"Here, my man!" said Waring, in low tone, "you have earned no five
dollars, and you know it. Get your cab out, come to Madame d'Hervilly's,
where you were called, and whatever is your due will be paid you; but no
more of this swearing or threatening,--not another word of it."

"I want my money, I say, and I mean to have it. I'm not talking to you;
I'm talking to the lady that hired me."

"But I have not the money. It is for my mother--Madame d'Hervilly--to
pay. You will come there."

"I want it now, I say. I've got to hire teams to get my cab out. I got
stalled here carrying you and your child, and I mean to have my pay
right now, or I'll know the reason why. Your swell friend's got the
money. It's none of my business how you pay him."

But that ended the colloquy. Waring's fist landed with resounding whack
under the cabman's jaw, and sent him rolling down into the mud below. He
was up, floundering and furious, in less than a minute, cursing horribly
and groping in the pocket of his overcoat.

"It's a pistol, lieutenant. Look out!" cried Jeffers.

There was a flash, a sharp report, a stifled cry from the cab, a scream
of terror from the child. But Waring had leaped lightly aside, and
before the half-drunken brute could cock his weapon for a second shot he
was felled like a log, and the pistol wrested from his hand and hurled
across the levee. Another blow crashed full in his face as he strove to
find his feet, and this time his muddled senses warned him it were best
to lie still.

Two minutes more, when he lifted his battered head and strove to stanch
the blood streaming from his nostrils, he saw the team driving briskly
away up the crest of the levee; and, overcome by maudlin contemplation
of his foeman's triumph and his own wretched plight, the cabman sat him
down and wept aloud.

And to his succor presently there came ministering angels from across
the muddy way, one with a brogue, the other in a bandanna, and between
the two he was escorted across a dry path to the magnolia-fringed
enclosure, comforted with soothing applications without and within, and
encouraged to tell his tale of woe. That he should wind it up with
vehement expression of his ability to thrash a thousand swells like the
one who had abused him, and a piratical prophecy that he'd drink his
heart's blood within the week, was due not so much to confidence in his
own powers, perhaps, as to the strength of the whiskey with which he had
been liberally supplied. Then the lady of the house addressed her Ethiop

"Go you over to Anatole's now, 'Louette. Tell him if any of the byes are
there I wahnt 'um. If Dawson is there, from the adjutant's office, I
wahnt him quick. Tell him it's Mrs. Doyle, and never mind if he's been
dhrinkin'; he shall have another dhrop here."

And at her beck there presently appeared three or four besotted-looking
specimens in the coarse undress uniform of the day, poor devils, absent
without leave from their post below and hoping only to be able to beg
or steal whiskey enough to stupefy them before the patrol should come
and drag them away to the guard-house. Promise of liberal reward in
shape of liquor was sufficient to induce three of their number to go out
with the fuming cabman and help rescue his wretched brute and trap. The
moment they were outside the gate she turned on the fourth, a pallid,
sickly man, whose features were delicate, whose hands were white and
slender, and whose whole appearance, despite glassy eyes and tremulous
mouth and limbs, told the pathetic story of better days.

"You're off ag'in, are you? Sure I heerd so, and you're mad for a dhrink
now. Can ye write, Dawson, or must I brace you up furrst?"

An imploring look, an unsteady gesture, alone answered.

"Here, thin, wait! It's absinthe ye need, my buck. Go you into that room
now and wash yourself, and I'll bring it, and whin the others come back
for their whiskey I'll tell 'um you've gone. You're to do what I say,
now, and Doyle will see you t'rough; if not, it's back to that hell in
the guard-house you'll go, my word on it."

"Oh, for God's sake, Mrs. Doyle----" began the poor wretch,
imploringly, but the woman shut him off.

"In there wid you! the others are coming." And, unbarring the front
door, she presently admitted the trio returning to claim the fruits of
their honest labor.

"Is he gone? Did he tell you what happened?"

"He's gone, yes," answered one: "he's gone to get square with the
lieutenant and his cockney dog-robber. He says they both jumped on him
and kicked his face in when he was down and unarmed and helpless. Was he

"Oh, they bate him cruel. But did he tell you of the lady--who it was
they took from him?"

"Why, sure, the wife of that old Frenchman, Lascelles, that lives
below,--her the lieutenant's been sparkin' this three months."

"The very wan, mind ye!" replied the lady of the house, with significant
emphasis and glance from her bleary eyes; "the very wan," she finished,
with slow nodding accompaniment of the frowzy head. "And that's the kind
of gintlemen that undertakes to hold up their heads over soldiers like
Doyle. Here, byes, dhrink now, but be off ag'inst his coming. He'll be
here any minute. Take this to comfort ye, but kape still about this till
ye see me ag'in--or Doyle. Now run." And with scant ceremony the dreary
party was hustled out through a paved court-yard to a gate-way opening
on a side street. Houses were few and scattering so far below the heart
of the city. The narrow strip of land between the great river and the
swamp was cut up into walled enclosures, as a rule,--abandoned
warehouses and cotton-presses, moss-grown one-storied frame structures,
standing in the midst of desolate fields and decrepit fences. Only among
the peaceful shades of the Ursuline convent and the warlike flanking
towers at the barracks was there aught that spoke of anything but
demoralization and decay. Back from the levee a block or two the double
lines of strap-iron stretched over a wooden causeway between parallel
wet ditches gave evidence of some kind of a railway, on which, at rare
intervals, jogged a sleepy mule with a sleepier driver and a musty old
rattle-trap of a car,--a car butting up against the animal's lazy hocks
and rousing him occasionally to ringing and retaliatory kicks. Around
the barracks the buildings were closer, mainly in the way of saloons;
then came a mile-long northward stretch of track, with wet fields on
either side, fringed along the river by solid structures and walled
enclosures that told of days more prosperous than those which so closely
followed the war. It was to one of these graceless drinking-shops and
into the hands of a rascally "dago" known as Anatole that Mrs. Doyle
commended her trio of allies, and being rid of them she turned back to
her prisoner, their erstwhile companion. Absinthe wrought its work on
his meek and pliant spirit, and the shaking hand was nerved to do the
woman's work. At her dictation, with such corrections as his better
education suggested, two letters were draughted, and with these in her
hand she went aloft. In fifteen minutes she returned, placed one of
these letters in an envelope already addressed to Monsieur Armand
Lascelles, No.--Rue Royale, the other she handed to Dawson. It was
addressed in neat and delicate feminine hand to Colonel Braxton, Jackson

"Now, Dawson, ye can't see her this day, and she don't want ye till you
can come over here sober. Off wid ye now to barracks. They're all out
at inspection yet, and will be for an hour. Lay this wid the colonel's
mail on his desk, and thin go you to your own. Come to me this
afthernoon for more dhrink if ye can tell me what he said and did when
he read it. No! no more liquor now. That'll brace ye till dinnertime,
and more would make ye dhrunk."

Miserably he plodded away down the levee, while she, his ruler, throwing
on a huge, dirty white sun-bonnet, followed presently in his tracks, and
"shadowed" him until she saw him safely reach the portals of the
barracks after one or two fruitless scouts into wayside bars in hope of
finding some one to treat or trust him to a drink. Then, retracing her
steps a few blocks, she rang sharply at the lattice gate opening into a
cool and shaded enclosure, beyond which could be seen the white-pillared
veranda of a long, low, Southern homestead. A grinning negro boy
answered the summons.

"It's you, is it, Alphonse? Is your mistress at home?"

"No; gone town,--_chez Madame d'Hervilly_."

"Madame Devillease, is it? Very well; you skip to town wid that note and
get it in your master's hands before the cathedral clock strikes
twelve, or ye'll suffer. There's a car in t'ree minutes."

And then, well content with her morning's work, the consort of the
senior first lieutenant of Light Battery "X" (a dame whose credentials
were too clouded to admit of her reception or recognition within the
limits of a regular garrison, where, indeed, to do him justice, Mr.
Doyle never wished to see her, or, for that matter, anywhere else)
betook herself to the magnolia-shaded cottage where she dwelt beyond the
pale of military interference, and some hours later sent 'Louette to say
to Doyle she wanted him, and Doyle obeyed. In his relief at finding the
colonel had probably forgotten the peccadillo for which he expected
punishment, in blissful possession of Mr. Waring's sitting-room and
supplies now that Waring was absent, the big Irishman was preparing to
spend the time in drinking his junior's health and whiskey and
discoursing upon the enormity of his misconduct with all comers, when
Ananias entered and informed him there was a lady below who wished to
see him,--"lady" being the euphemism of the lately enfranchised for the
females of their race. It was 'Louette with the mandate from her
mistress, a mandate he dared not disregard.

"Say I'll be along in a minute," was his reply, but he sighed and swore
heavily, as he slowly reascended the stair. "Give me another dhrink,
smut," he ordered Ananias, disregarding Ferry's suggestion, "Better
drink no more till after dark." Then, swallowing his potion, he went
lurching down the steps without another word. Ferry and Pierce stepped
to the gallery and gazed silently after him as he veered around to the
gate leading to the old war-hospital enclosure where the battery was
quartered. Already his walk was perceptibly unsteady.

"Keeps his head pretty well, even after his legs are gone," said Ferry.
"Knows too much to go by the sally-port. He's sneaking out through the
back gate."

"Why, what does he go out there for, when he has the run of Waring's

"Oh, didn't you hear? Mrs. Doyle sent for him."

"That's it, is it? Sometimes I wonder which one of those two will kill
the other."

"Oh, he wouldn't dare. That fellow is an abject coward in the dark. He
believes in ghosts, spooks, banshees, and wraiths,--everything
uncanny,--and she'd haunt him if he laid his hands on her. There's only
one thing that he'd be more afraid of than Bridget Doyle living, and
that would be Bridget Doyle dead."

"Why can't he get rid of her? What hold has she on him? This thing's an
infernal scandal as it stands. She's only been here a month or so, and
everybody in garrison knows all about her, and these doughboys don't
make any bones about chaffing us on our lady friends."

"Well, everybody supposed he had got rid of her years ago. He shook her
when he was made first sergeant, just before the war. Why, I've heard
some of the old stagers say there wasn't a finer-looking soldier in all
the regiment than Jim Doyle when he married that specimen at
Brownsville. Doyle, too, supposed she was dead until after he got his
commission, then she reappeared and laid claim to him. It would have
been an easy enough matter five years ago to prove she had forfeited all
rights, but now he can't. Then she's got some confounded hold on him, I
don't know what, but it's killing the poor beggar. Good thing for the
regiment, though: so let it go."

"Oh, I don't care a rap how soon we're rid of him or her,--the sooner
the better; only I hate to hear these fellows laughing and sneering
about Mrs. Doyle." And here the young fellow hesitated. "Ferry, you know
I'm as fond of Sam Waring as any of you. I liked him better than any man
in his class when we wore the gray. When they were yearlings we were
plebes, and devilled and tormented by them most unmercifully day and
night. I took to him then for his kindly, jolly ways. No one ever knew
him to say or do a cross or brutal thing. I liked him more every year,
and missed him when he was graduated. I rejoiced when he got his
transfer to us. It's because I like him so much that I hate to hear
these fellows making their little flings now."

"What flings?" said Ferry.

"Well, you know as much as I do. You've heard as much, too, I haven't a

"Nobody's said anything about Sam Waring in my hearing that reflected on
him in any way worth speaking of," said Ferry, yet not very stoutly.

"Not on him so much, perhaps, as the world looks at this sort of thing,
but on her. She's young, pretty, married to a man years her senior, a
snuffy, frowzy old Frenchman. She's alone with her child and one or two
servants from early morning till late evening, and with that weazened
little monkey of a man the rest of the time. The only society she sees
is the one or two gossipy old women of both sexes who live along the
levee here. The only enjoyment she has is when she can get to her
mother's up in town, or run up to the opera when she can get Lascelles
to take her. That old mummy cares nothing for music and still less for
the dance; she loves both, and so does Waring. _Monsieur le Mari_ goes
out into the foyer between the acts to smoke his cigarette and gossip
with other relics like himself. Waring has never missed a night she
happened to be there for the last six weeks. I admit he is there many a
time when she is not, but after he's had a few words with the ladies in
the general's box, what becomes of him? I don't know, because I'm seldom
there, but Dryden and Taggart and Jack Merton of the infantry can tell
you. He is sitting by her in the D'Hervilly _loge grillée_ and going
over the last act with her and rhapsodizing about Verdi, Bellini,
Mozart, or Gounod,--Gounod especially and the garden-scene from

"Isn't her mother with her, and, being in mourning, doesn't she have to
stay in her latticed loge instead of promenading in the foyer and
drinking that two-headaches-for-a-picayune punch?" queried Ferry, eager
for a diversion.

"Suppose she is," answered Pierce, stoutly. "I'm a crank,--strait-laced,
if you like. It's the fault of my bringing up. But I know, and you know,
that that little woman, in her loneliness and in her natural longing for
some congenial spirit to commune with, is simply falling madly in love
with Sam Waring, and there will be tragedy here before we can stop it."

"See here, Pierce," asked Ferry, "do you suppose Mrs. Cram would be so
loyal a friend to Waring if she thought there was anything wrong in his
attentions to Madame Lascelles? Do you suppose Cram himself wouldn't

"He has spoken."

"He has? To whom?"

"To me, three days ago; said I had known Waring longest and best,
perhaps was his most intimate friend, and he thought I ought to warn him
of what people were saying."

"What have you done?"

"Nothing yet: simply because I know Sam Waring so well that I know just
what he'd do,--go and pull the nose of the man who gossiped about him
and her. Then we'd have a fight on our hands."

"Well, we can fight, I suppose, can't we?"

"Not without involving a woman's name."

"Oh, good Lord, Pierce, was there ever a row without a woman _au fond_?"

"That's a worm-eaten witticism, Ferry, and you're too decent a fellow,
as a rule, to be cynical. I've got to speak to Waring, and I don't know
how to do it. I want your advice."

"Well, my advice is _Punch's_: Don't. Hello! here's Dryden. Thought you
were on court duty up at head-quarters to-day, old man. Come in and have
a wet?" Mr. Ferry had seen some happy days at Fortress Monroe when the
ships of Her Majesty's navy lay off the Hygeia and the gallants of
England lay to at the bar, and Ferry rejoiced in the vernacular of the
United Service, so far as he could learn it, as practised abroad.

"Thanks. Just had one over at Merton's. Hear you've been having review
and all that sort of thing down here," said the infantryman, as he
lolled back in an easy-chair and planted his boot-heels on the gallery
rail. "Glad I got out of it. Court met and adjourned at ten, so I came
home. How'd Waring get off?"

"Huh!--Cram's wagon," laughed Ferry, rather uncomfortably, however.

"Oh, Lord, yes, I know that. Didn't I see him driving Madame Lascelles
up Rampart Street as I came down in the mule-car?"

And then Pierce and Ferry looked at each other, startled.

That evening, therefore, it was a comfort to both when Sam came tooling
the stylish turnout through the sally-port and his battery chums caught
sight of the Allertons. Pierce was just returning from stables, and
Ferry was smoking a pipe of _perique_ on the broad gallery, and both
hastened to don their best jackets and doff their best caps to these
interesting and interested callers. Cram himself had gone off for a ride
and a think. He always declared his ideas were clearer after a gallop.
The band played charmingly. The ladies came out and made a picturesque
croquet-party on the green carpet of the parade. The officers clustered
about and offered laughing wagers on the game. A dozen romping children
were playing joyously around the tall flag-staff. The air was rich with
the fragrance of the magnolia and Cape jasmine, and glad with music and
soft and merry voices. Then the stirring bugles rang out their lively
summons to the batterymen beyond the wall. The drums of the infantry
rolled and rattled their echoing clamor. The guard sprang into ranks,
and their muskets, glistening in the slanting beams of the setting sun,
clashed in simultaneous "present" to the red-sashed officer of the day,
and that official raised his plumed hat to the lieutenant with the
lovely girl by his side and the smiling elders on the back seat as the
team once more made the circuit of the post on the back trip to town,
and Miss Flora Allerton clasped her hands and looked enthusiastically up
into her escort's face.

"Oh," she cried, "isn't it all just too lovely for anything! Why, I
think your life here must be like a dream."

But Miss Allerton, as Mrs. Cram had said, sometimes gushed, and life at
Jackson Barracks was no such dream as it appeared.

The sun went down red and angry far across the tawny flood of the
rushing river. The night lights were set at the distant bend below. The
stars came peeping through a shifting filmy veil. The big trees on the
levee and about the flanking towers began to whisper and complain and
creak, and the rising wind sent long wisps of straggly cloud racing
across the sky. The moon rose pallid and wan, hung for a while over the
dense black mass of moss-grown cypress in the eastward swamp, then hid
her face behind a heavy bank of clouds, as though reluctant to look upon
the wrath to come, for a storm was rising fast and furious to break upon
and deluge old Jackson Barracks.


When Jeffers came driving into barracks on his return from town, his
first care, as became the trained groom, was for his horses, and he was
rubbing them down and bedding their stalls for the night when the
sergeant of the battery guard, lantern in hand, appeared at the door. It
was not yet tattoo, but by this time the darkness was intense, the
heavens were hid, and the wind was moaning about the stables and
gun-shed and whistling away over the dismal expanse of flat, wet,
ditch-tangled fields towards the swamp. But the cockney's spirits were
blithe as the clouds were black. As was usual when he or any other
servitor was in attendance on Waring, the reward had been munificent. He
had lunched at Cassidy's at the lieutenant's expense while that officer
and his friends were similarly occupied at the more exclusive Moreau's.
He had stabled the team at the quartermaster's while he had personally
attended the _matinée_ at the St. Charles, which was more to his taste
than Booth and high tragedy. He had sauntered about the Tattersalls and
smoked Waring's cigars and patronized the jockeys gathered there for the
spring meeting on the Metairie, but promptly on time was awaiting the
return of the party from their drive and lolling about the ladies'
entrance to the St. Charles Hotel, when he became aware, as the lamps
were being lighted and the dusk of the evening gave place to lively
illumination, that two men had passed and repassed the open portals
several times, and that they were eying him curiously, and chattering to
each other in French. One of them he presently recognized as the little
"frog-eater" who occupied the old house on the levee, Lascelles, the
husband of the pretty Frenchwoman he and the lieutenant had dragged out
of the mud that very morning and had driven up to the old D'Hervilly
place on Rampart Street. Even as he was wondering how cabby got out of
his scrape and chuckling with satisfaction over the scientific manner in
which Mr. Waring had floored that worthy, Mr. Jeffers was surprised to
find himself most civilly accosted by old Lascelles, who had been
informed, he said, by Madame his wife, of the heroic services rendered
her that morning by Monsieur Jeffers and Monsieur le Capitaine. He
begged of the former the acceptance of the small _douceur_ which he
slipped into the Englishman's accustomed palm, and inquired when he
might hope to see the brave captain and disembarrass himself of his
burden of gratitude.

"Here they come now," said Jeffers, promptly pocketing the money and
springing forward to knuckle his hat-brim and stand at the horses'
heads. All grace and animation, Mr. Waring had assisted his friends to
alight, had promised to join them in the ladies' parlor in ten minutes,
had sprung to the seat again, signalling Jeffers to tumble up behind,
and then had driven rapidly away through Carondelet Street to the broad
avenue beyond. Here he tossed the reins to Jeffers, disappeared a
moment, and came back with a little Indian-made basket filled to
overflowing with exquisite double violets rich with fragrance.

"Give this to Mrs. Cram for me, and tell the captain I'll drop in to
thank him in a couple of hours, and---- Here, Jeffers," he said, and
Jeffers had pocketed another greenback, and had driven briskly
homeward, well content with the result of his day's labors, and without
having mentioned to Mr. Waring the fact that Lascelles had been at the
hotel making inquiries for him. A day so profitable and so pleasant
Jeffers had not enjoyed since his arrival at the barracks, and he was
humming away in high good humor, all reckless of the rising storm, when
the gruff voice of Sergeant Schwartz disturbed him:

"Chevvers, you will rebort at vonst to Captain Cram."

"Who says I will?" said Jeffers, cheerfully, though bent on mischief,
but was awed into instant silence at seeing that veteran step quickly
back, stand attention, and raise his hand in salute, for there came Cram
himself, Pierce with him.

"Did Mr. Waring come back with you?" was the first question.

"No, sir; Hi left Mr. Warink on Canal Street. 'E said 'e'd be back to
thank the capt'in in a little while, sir, and 'e sent these for the
capt'in's lady."

Cram took the beautiful basket of violets with dubious hand, though his
eyes kindled when he noted their profusion and fragrance. Nell loved
violets, and it was like Waring to remember so bountifully her fondness
for them.

"What detained him? Did he send no word?"

"'E said nothink, and sent nothink but the basket, sir. 'E said a couple
of hours, now I think of it, sir. 'E was going back to the 'otel to dine
with a lady and gent."

For a moment Cram was silent. He glanced at Pierce, as much as to say,
Have you no question to ask? but the youngster held his peace. The
senior officer hated to inquire of his servant into the details of the
day's doings. He was more than half indignant at Waring for having taken
such advantage of even an implied permission as to drive off with his
equipage and groom in so summary a way. Of course Nell had said, Take it
and go, but Nell could have had no idea of the use to which the wagon
was to be put. If Waring left the garrison with the intention of using
the equipage to take Madame Lascelles driving, it was the most underhand
and abominable thing he had ever heard of his doing. It was unlike him.
It couldn't be true. Yet had not Braxton shown him the letter which
said he was seen on the levee with her by his side? Had not Dryden
further informed every man and woman and child with whom he held
converse during the day that he had seen Waring with Cram's team driving
Madame Lascelles up Rampart Street, and was not there a story already
afloat that old Lascelles had forbidden him ever to darken his threshold
again,--forbidden Madame to drive, dance, or even speak with him? And
was there not already in the post commander's hand a note intimating
that Monsieur Lascelles would certainly challenge Waring to instant and
mortal combat if Waring had used the wagon as alleged? Jeffers must know
about it, and could and should tell if required, but Cram simply could
not and would not ask the groom to detail the movements of the
gentleman. Had not Waring sent word he would be home in two hours and
would come to see his battery commander at once? Did not that mean he
would explain fully? Cram gulped down the query that rose to his lips.

"All right, then, Pierce; we'll take these over to Mrs. Cram and have a
bite ready for Waring on his return," said the stout-hearted fellow,
and, in refusing to question his servant, missed the chance of averting

And so they bore the beautiful cluster of violets, with its mute pledge
of fidelity and full explanation, to his rejoicing Nell, and the trio
sat and chatted, and one or two visitors came in for a while and then
scurried home as the rain began to plash on the windows, and the bugles
and drums and fifes sounded far away at tattoo and more than usually
weird and mournful at taps, and finally ten-thirty came, by which time
it had been raining torrents, and the wind was lashing the roaring river
into foam, and the trees were bowing low before their master, and the
levee road was a quagmire, and Cram felt convinced no cab could bring
his subaltern home. Yet in his nervousness and anxiety he pulled on his
boots, threw his gum coat over his uniform, tiptoed in to bend over
Nell's sleeping form and whisper, should she wake, that he was going
only to the sally-port or perhaps over to Waring's quarters, but she
slept peacefully and never stirred, so noiselessly he slipped out on the
gallery and down the stairs and stalked boldly out into the raging
storm, guided by the dim light burning in Waring's room. Ananias was
sleeping curled up on a rug in front of the open fireplace, and Cram
stirred him up with his foot. The negro rolled lazily over, with a
stretch and yawn.

"Did Mr. Waring take any arms with him?" queried the captain.

"Any whut, suh?" responded Ananias, rubbing his eyes and still only half

"Any pistol or knife?"

"Lord, suh, no. Mr. Waring don't never carry anything o' dat sort."

A student-lamp was burning low on the centre-table. There lay among the
books and papers a couple of letters, evidently received that day, and
still unopened. There lay Waring's cigar-case, a pretty trifle given him
by some far-away friend, with three or four fragrant Havanas temptingly
visible. There lay a late magazine, its pages still uncut. Cram looked
at the dainty wall clock, ticking merrily away over the mantel.
Eleven-thirty-five! Well, he was too anxious to sleep anyhow, why not
wait a few minutes? Waring might come, probably would come. If no cab
could make its way down by the levee road, there were the late cars from
town; they had to make the effort anyhow. Cram stepped to the
sideboard, mixed a mild toddy, sipped it reflectively, then lighted a
cigar and threw himself into the easy-chair. Ananias, meantime, was up
and astir. Seeing that Cram was looking about in search of a
paper-cutter, the boy stepped forward and bent over the table.

"De lieutenant always uses dis, suh," said he, lifting first one paper,
then another, searching under each. "Don't seem to be yer now, suh.
You've seen it, dough, captain,--dat cross-handled dagger wid de
straight blade."

"Yes, I know. Where is it?" asked Cram. "That'll do."

"'Tain't yer, suh, now. Can't find it yer, nohow."

"Well, then, Mr. Waring probably took a knife, after all."

"No, suh, I don't t'ink so. I never knowed him to use it befo' away from
de room."

"Anybody else been here?" said Cram.

"Oh, dey was all in yer, suh, dis arternoon, but Mr. Doyle he was sent
for, suh, and had to go."

A step and the rattle of a sword were heard on the gallery without. The
door opened, and in came Merton of the infantry, officer of the day.

"Hello, Waring!" he began. "Oh, it's you, is it, captain? Isn't Waring
back? I saw the light, and came up to chin with him a moment. Beastly
night, isn't it?"

"Waring isn't back yet. I look for him by the eleven-thirty car,"
answered the captain.

"Why, that's in. No Waring there, but half a dozen poor devils, half
drowned and half drunk, more'n half drunk, one of your men among 'em. We
had to put him into the guard-house to keep him from murdering Dawson,
the head-quarters clerk. There's been some kind of a row."

"Sorry to hear that. Who is the man?"

"Kane. He said Dawson was lying about his officer and he wouldn't stand

"Kane!" exclaimed Cram, rising. "Why, he's one of our best. I never
heard of his being riotous before."

"He's riotous enough to-night. He wanted to lick all six of our fellows,
and if I hadn't got there when I did they would probably have kicked him
into a pulp. All were drunk; Kane, too, I should say; and as for
Dawson, he was just limp."

"Would you mind going down and letting me talk with Kane a moment? I
never knew him to be troublesome before, though he sometimes drank a
little. He was on pass this evening."

"Well, it's raining cats and dogs, captain, but come along. If you can
stand it I can."

A few minutes later the sergeant of the guard threw open one of the
wooden compartments in the guard-house, and there sat Kane, his face
buried in his hands.

"I ordered him locked in here by himself, because I feared our fellows
would hammer him if he were turned in with them," explained Mr. Merton,
and at sound of the voice the prisoner looked up and saw his commander,
dripping with wet. Unsteadily he rose to his feet.

"Captain," he began, thickly, "I'd never have done it in the world, sir,
but that blackguard was drunk, sir, and slandering my officer, and I
gave him fair warning to quit or I'd hit him, but he kept on."

"Ye-es? And what did he say?"

"He said--I wouldn't believe it, sir--that Mr. Doyle was that drunk
that him and some other fellers had lifted him out of the mud and put
him to bed up there at--up there at the house, sir, back of Anatole's
place. I think the captain knows."

"Ah, you should have steered clear of such company, Kane. Did this
happen at Anatole's saloon?"

"Yes, sir, and them fellers was making so much noise that the dago
turned them all out and shut up the shop at eleven o'clock, and that's
what made them follow me home in the car and abuse me all the way. I
couldn't stand it, sir."

"You would only have laughed at them if your better judgment hadn't been
ruined by liquor. Sorry for you, Kane, but you've been drinking just
enough to be a nuisance, and must stay where you are for the night.
They'll be sorry for what they said in the morning.--Did you lock up the
others, Mr. Merton?" he asked, as they turned away.

"All but Dawson, sir. I took him over to the hospital and put a sentry
over him. That fellow looks to be verging on jimjams, and I wouldn't be
surprised if he'd been talking as Kane says." Merton might have added,
"and it's probably true," but courtesy to his battery friend forbade.
Cram did add mentally something to the same effect, but loyalty to his
arm of the service kept him silent. At the flag-staff the two officers

"Merton, oblige me by saying nothing as to the alleged language about
Doyle, will you?"

"Certainly, captain. Good-night."

Then, as the officer of the day's lantern flickered away in one
direction, Cram turned in the other, and presently went climbing up the
stairs to the gallery leading to the quarters of his senior first
lieutenant. A dim light was shining through the shutters. Cram knocked
at the door; no answer. Opening it, he glanced in. The room was
unoccupied. A cheap marine clock, ticking between the north windows over
the wash-stand, indicated midnight, and the battery commander turned
away in vexation of spirit. Lieutenant Doyle had no authority to be
absent from the post.

It was still dark and storming furiously when the bugles of the battery
sounded the reveille, and by the light of the swinging lanterns the men
marched away in their canvas stable rig, looking like a column of
ghosts. Yet, despite the gale and the torrents of rain, Pierce was in no
wise surprised to find Cram at his elbow when the horses were led out to

"Groom in-doors this morning, Mr. Pierce. Is Waring home?"

"No, sir; Ananias told me when he brought me up my coffee."

"Hold the morning report, then, until I come to the office. I fear we
have both first lieutenants to report absent to-day. You and I may have
to go to town: so get your breakfast early. We will ride. I doubt if
even an ambulance could get through. Tell me, Pierce, have you spoken to
Waring about--about that matter we were discussing? Has he ever given
you any idea that he had received warning of any kind from old
Lascelles--or any of his friends?"

"No, sir. I've had no chance to speak, to be sure, and, so far as I
could observe, he and Mr. Lascelles seemed on very excellent terms only
a few days ago."

"Well, I wish I had spoken myself," said Cram, and turned away.

That morning, with two first lieutenants absent without leave, the
report of Light Battery "X" went into the adjutant's office just as its
commander and his junior subaltern went out and silently mounted the
dripping horses standing in front. The two orderlies, with their heads
poked through the slit of their ponchos, briskly seated themselves in
saddle, and then the colonel hurried forth just in time to hail,--

"Oh, Cram! one minute." And Cram reined about and rode to the side of
the post commander, who stood under the shelter of the broad gallery.

"I wouldn't say anything about this to any one at head-quarters except
Reynolds. There's no one else on the staff to whom Waring would apply,
is there?"

"No one, sir. Reynolds is the only man I can think of."

"Will you send an orderly back with word as soon as you know?"

"Yes, sir, the moment I hear. And-d--shall I send you word
from--there?"--and Cram nodded northward, and then, in a lower
tone,--"as to Doyle?"

"Oh, damn Doyle! I don't care if he never----" But here the commander of
the post regained control of himself, and with parting wave of the hand
turned back to his office.

Riding in single file up the levee, for the city road was one long pool,
with the swollen river on their left, and the slanting torrents of rain
obscuring all objects on the other hand, the party made its way for
several squares without exchanging a word. Presently the leading file
came opposite the high wall of the Lascelles place. The green latticed
gate stood open,--an unusual thing,--and both officers bent low over
their pommels and gazed along the dark, rainswept alley to the pillared
portico dimly seen beyond. Not a soul was in sight. The water was
already on a level with the banquette, and would soon be running across
and into the gate. A vagabond dog skulking about the place gave vent to
a mournful howl. A sudden thought struck the captain. He led the way
down the slope and forded across to the north side, the others

"Joyce," said he to his orderly, "dismount and go in there and ring at
the door. Ask if Mr. Lascelles is home. If not, ask if Madame has any
message she would like to send to town, or if we can be of any service."

The soldier was gone but a moment, and came hurrying back, a negro boy,
holding a long fold of matting over his head to shed the rain, chasing
at his heels. It was Alphonse.

"M'sieu' not yet of return," said he, in labored translation of his
negro French, "and Madame remain chez Madame d'Hervilly. I am alone wiz
my mudder, and she has fear."

"Oh, it's all right, I fancy," said Cram, reassuringly. "They were
caught by the storm, and wisely stayed up-town. I saw your gate open, so
we stopped to inquire. We'll ride over to Madame d'Hervilly's and ask
for them. How came your gate open?"

"_Mo connais pas_; I dunno, sare. It was lock' last night."

"Why, that's odd," said Cram. "Better bolt it now, or all the cattle
along the levee will be in there. You can't lock out the water, though.
Who had the key besides Mr. Lascelles or Madame?"

"Nobody, sare; but there is muddy foots all over the piazza."

"The devil! I'll have to look in for a moment."

A nod to Pierce brought him too from the saddle, and the officers
handed their reins to the orderlies. Then together they entered the gate
and strode up the white shell walk, looking curiously about them through
the dripping shrubbery. Again that dismal howl was raised, and Pierce,
stopping with impatient exclamation, tore half a brick from the yielding
border of the walk and sent it hurtling through the trees. With his tail
between his legs, the brute darted from behind a sheltering bush,
scurried away around the corner of the house, glancing fearfully back,
then, halting at safe distance, squatted on his haunches and lifted up
his mournful voice again.

"Whose dog is that?" demanded Cram.

"M'sieu' Philippe's: he not now here. He is de brudder to Monsieur."

At the steps the captain bent and closely examined them and the floor of
the low veranda to which they led. Both were disfigured with muddy
footprints. Pierce would have gone still further in the investigation,
but his senior held up a warning hand.

"Two men have been here," he muttered. "They have tried the door and
tried the blinds.--Where did you sleep last night, boy?" and with the
words he turned suddenly on the negro. "Did you hear no sound?"

"No, sare. I sleep in my bed,--'way back. No, I hear noting,--noting."
And now the negro's face was twitching, his eyes staring. Something in
the soldier's stern voice told him that there was tragedy in the air.

"If this door is locked, go round and open it from within," said Cram,
briefly. Then, as Alphonse disappeared around the north side, he stepped
back to the shell walk and followed one of its branches around the
other. An instant later Pierce heard him call. Hastening in his wake,
the youngster came upon his captain standing under a window, one of
whose blinds was hanging partly open, water standing in pools all around

"Look here," was all he said, and pointed upward.

The sill was above the level of their heads, but both could see that the
sash was raised. All was darkness within.

"Come with me," was Cram's next order, and the lieutenant followed.
Alphonse was unlocking the front door, and now threw it open. Cram
strode into the wide hall-way straight to a door of the east side. It
was locked. "Open this, Alphonse," he said.

"I have not the key. It is ever with M'sieu' Lascelles. It is his

Cram stepped back, gave one vigorous kick with a heavy riding-boot, and
the frail door flew open with a crash. For a moment the darkness was
such that no object could be distinguished within. The negro servant
hung back, trembling from some indefinable dread. The captain, his hand
on the door-knob, stepped quickly into the gloomy apartment, Pierce
close at his heels. A broad, flat-topped desk stood in the centre of the
room. Some shelves and books were dimly visible against the wall. Some
of the drawers of the desk were open, and there was a litter of papers
on the desk, and others were strown in the big rattan chair, some on the
floor. Two student-lamps could be dimly distinguished, one on the big
desk, another on a little reading-table placed not far from the south
window, whose blinds, half open, admitted almost the only light that
entered the room. With its head near this reading-table and faintly
visible, a bamboo lounge stretched its length towards the southward
windows, where all was darkness, and something vague and
indistinguishable lay extended upon the lounge. Cram marched half-way
across the floor, then stopped short, glanced down, and stepped quickly
to one side, shifting his heavily-booted feet as though to avoid some
such muddy pool as those encountered without.

"Take care," he whispered, and motioned warningly to Pierce. "Come here
and open these shutters, Alphonse," were the next words. But once again
that prolonged, dismal, mournful howl was heard under the south window,
and the negro, seized with uncontrollable panic, turned back and clung
trembling to the opposite wall.

"Send one of the men for the post surgeon at once, then come back here,"
said the captain, and Pierce hastened to the gate. As he returned, the
west shutters were being thrown open. There was light when he re-entered
the room, and this was what he saw. On the China matting, running from
underneath the sofa, fed by heavy drops from above, a dark wet stain. On
the lounge, stretched at full length, a stiffening human shape, a
yellow-white, parchment-like face above the black clothing, a bluish,
half-opened mouth whose yellow teeth showed savagely, a fallen chin and
jaw, covered with the gray stubble of unshaved beard, and two staring,
sightless, ghastly eyes fixed and upturned as though in agonized appeal.
Stone-dead,--murdered, doubtless,--all that was left of the little
Frenchman Lascelles.


All that day the storm raged in fury; the levee road was blocked in
places by the boughs torn from overhanging trees, and here, there, and
everywhere turned into a quagmire by the torrents that could find no
adequate egress to the northward swamps. For over a mile above the
barracks it looked like one vast canal, and by nine o'clock it was
utterly impassable. No cars were running on the dilapidated road to the
"half-way house," whatever they might be doing beyond. There was only
one means of communication between the garrison and the town, and that,
on horseback along the crest of the levee, and people in the
second-story windows of the store- and dwelling-houses along the
other side of the way, driven aloft by the drenched condition of the
ground floor, were surprised to see the number of times some Yankee
soldier or other made the dismal trip. Cram, with a party of four, was
perhaps the first. Before the dripping sentries of the old guard were
relieved at nine o'clock every man and woman at the barracks was aware
that foul murder had been done during the night, and that old Lascelles,
slain by some unknown hand, slashed and hacked in a dozen places,
according to the stories afloat, lay in his gloomy old library up the
levee road, with a flood already a foot deep wiping out from the grounds
about the house all traces of his assailants. Dr. Denslow, in examining
the body, found just one deep, downward stab, entering above the upper
rib and doubtless reaching the heart,--a stab made by a long, straight,
sharp, two-edged blade. He had been dead evidently some hours when
discovered by Cram, who had now gone to town to warn the authorities,
old Brax meantime having taken upon himself the responsibility of
placing a guard at the house, with orders to keep Alphonse and his
mother in and everybody else out.

It is hardly worth while to waste time on the various theories advanced
in the garrison as to the cause and means of the dreadful climax. That
Doyle should be away from the post provoked neither comment nor
speculation: he was not connected in any way with the tragedy. But the
fact that Mr. Waring was absent all night, coupled with the stories of
his devotions to Madame, was to several minds _prima facie_ evidence
that his was the bloody hand that wrought the deed,--that he was now a
fugitive from justice, and Madame Lascelles, beyond doubt, the guilty
partner of his flight. Everybody knew by this time of their being
together much of the morning: how could people help knowing, when Dryden
had seen them? In his elegantly jocular way, Dryden was already
condoling with Ferry on the probable loss of his Hatfield clothes, and
comforting him with the assurance that they always gave a feller a new
black suit to be hanged in, so he might get his duds back after all,
only they must get Waring first. Jeffers doubtless would have been
besieged with questions but for Cram's foresight: his master had ordered
him to accompany him to town.

In silence a second time the little party rode away, passing the flooded
homestead where lay the murdered man, then, farther on, gazing in mute
curiosity at the closed shutters of the premises some infantry satirists
had already christened "the dove-cot." What cared they for him or his
objectionable helpmate? Still, they could not but note how gloomy and
deserted it all appeared, with two feet of water lapping the garden
wall. Summoned by his master, Jeffers knuckled his oil-skin hat-brim and
pointed out the spot where Mr. Waring stood when he knocked the cabman
into the mud, but Jeffers's tongue was tied and his cockney volubility
gone. The tracks made by Cram's wagon up the slope were already washed
out. Bending forward to dodge the blinding storm, the party pushed along
the embankment until at last the avenues and alleys to their right gave
proof of better drainage. At Rampart Street they separated, Pierce going
on to report the tragedy to the police, Cram turning to his right and
following the broad thoroughfare another mile, until Jeffers, indicating
a big, old-fashioned, broad-galleried Southern house standing in the
midst of grounds once trim and handsome, but now showing signs of
neglect and penury, simply said, "'Ere, sir." And here the party

Cram entered the gate and pulled a clanging bell. The door was almost
instantly opened by a colored girl, at whose side, with eager joyous
face, was the pretty child he had seen so often playing about the
Lascelles homestead, and the eager joyous look faded instantly away.

"She t'ink it M'sieur Vareeng who comes to arrive," explained the
smiling colored girl.

"Ah! It is Madame d'Hervilly I wish to see," answered Cram, briefly.
"Please take her my card." And, throwing off his dripping raincoat and
tossing it to Jeffers, who had followed to the veranda, the captain
stepped within the hall and held forth his hands to Nin Nin, begging her
to come to him who was so good a friend of Mr. Waring. But she would
not. The tears of disappointment were in the dark eyes as the little one
turned and ran away. Cram could hear the gentle, soothing tones of the
mother striving to console her child,--the one widowed and the other
orphaned by the tidings he bore. Even then he noted how musical, how
full of rich melody, was that soft Creole voice. And then Madame
d'Hervilly appeared, a stately, dignified, picturesque gentlewoman of
perhaps fifty years. She greeted him with punctilious civility, but with
manner as distant as her words were few.

"I have come on a trying errand," he began, when she held up a slender,
jewelled hand.

"_Pardon. Permettez._--Madame Lascelles," she called, and before Cram
could find words to interpose, a servant was speeding to summon the very
woman he had hoped not to have to see.

"Oh, madame," he murmured low, hurriedly, "I deplore my ignorance. I
cannot speak French. Try to understand me. Mr. Lascelles is home,
dangerously stricken. I fear the worst. You must tell her."

"'Ome! _Là bas? C'est impossible._"

"It is true," he burst in, for the swish of silken skirt was heard down
the long passage. "_Il est mort_,--_mort_" he whispered, mustering up
what little French he knew and then cursing himself for an imbecile.

"_Mort! O ciel!_" The words came with a shriek of anguish from the lips
of the elder woman and were echoed by a scream from beyond. In an
instant, wild-eyed, horror-stricken, Emilie Lascelles had sprung to her
tottering mother's side.

"When? What mean you?" she gasped.

"Madame Lascelles," he sadly spoke, "I had hoped to spare you this, but
it is too late now. Mr. Lascelles was found lying on the sofa in his
library this morning. He had died hours before, during the night."

And then he had to spring and catch the fainting woman in his arms. She
was still moaning, and only semi-conscious, when the old family doctor
and her brother, Pierre d'Hervilly, arrived.

Half an hour later Cram astonished the aides-de-camp and other bored
staff officials by appearing at the general loafing-room at
head-quarters. To the chorus of inquiry as to what brought him up in
such a storm he made brief reply, and then asked immediately to speak
with the adjutant-general and Lieutenant Reynolds, and, to the disgust
and mystification of all the others, he disappeared with these into an
adjoining room. There he briefly told the former of the murder, and then
asked for a word with the junior.

Reynolds was a character. Tall, handsome, and distinguished, he had
served throughout the war as a volunteer, doing no end of good work, and
getting many a word of praise, but, as all his service was as a staff
officer, it was his general who reaped the reward of his labors. He had
risen, of course, to the rank of major in the staff in the volunteers,
and everybody had prophesied that he would be appointed a major in the
adjutant- or inspector-general's department in the permanent
establishment. But there were not enough places by any means, and the
few vacancies went to men who knew better how to work for themselves.
"Take a lieutenancy now, and we will fix you by and by," was the
suggestion, and so it resulted that here he was three years after the
war wearing the modest strap of a second lieutenant, doing the duties
and accepting the responsibilities of a far higher grade, and being
patronized by seniors who were as much his inferiors in rank as they
were in ability during the war days. Everybody said it was a shame, and
nobody helped to better his lot. He was a man whose counsel was valuable
on all manner of subjects. Among other things, he was well versed in all
that pertained to the code of honor as it existed in the antebellum
days,--had himself been "out," and, as was well known, had but recently
officiated as second for an officer who had need of his services. He and
Waring were friends from the start, and Cram counted on tidings of his
absent subaltern in appealing to him. Great, therefore, was his
consternation when in reply to his inquiry Reynolds promptly answered
that he had neither seen nor heard from Waring in over forty-eight
hours. This was a facer.

"What's wrong, Cram?"

"Read that," said the captain, placing a daintily-written note in the
aide-de-camp's hand. It was brief, but explicit:

"COLONEL BRAXTON: Twice have I warned you that the attentions of your
Lieutenant Waring to Madame Lascelles meant mischief. This morning,
under pretence of visiting her mother, she left the house in a cab, but
in half an hour was seen driving with Mr. Waring. This has been, as I
have reason to know, promptly carried to Monsieur Lascelles by people
whom he had employed for the purpose. I could of told you last night
that Monsieur Lascelles's friend had notified Lieutenant Waring that a
duel would be exacted should he be seen with Madame again, and now it
will certainly come. You have seen fit to scorn my warnings hitherto,
the result is on your head." There was no signature whatever.

"Who wrote this rot?" asked Reynolds. "It seems to me I've seen that
hand before."

"So have I, and pitched the trash into the fire, as I do everything
anonymous that comes my way. But Brax says that this is the second or
third, and he's worried about it, and thinks there may be truth in the

"As to the duel, or as to the devotions to Madame?" asked Reynolds,

"We-ll, both, and we thought you would be most apt to know whether a
fight was on. Waring promised to return to the post at taps last night.
Instead of that, he is gone,--God knows where,--and the old man, the
reputed challenger, lies dead at his home. Isn't that ugly?"

Reynolds's face grew very grave.

"Who last saw Waring, that you know of?"

"My man Jeffers left him on Canal Street just after dark last night. He
was then going to dine with friends at the St. Charles."

"The Allertons?"


"Then wait till I see the chief, and I'll go with you. Say nothing about
this matter yet."

Reynolds was gone but a moment. A little later Cram and the aide were at
the St. Charles rotunda, their cards sent up to the Allertons' rooms.
Presently down came the bell-boy. Would the gentleman walk up to the
parlor? This was awkward. They wanted to see Allerton himself, and Cram
felt morally confident that Miss Flora Gwendolen would be on hand to
welcome and chat with so distinguished a looking fellow as Reynolds.
There was no help for it, however. It would be possible to draw off the
head of the family after a brief call upon the ladies. Just as they were
leaving the marble-floored rotunda, a short, swarthy man in
"pepper-and-salt" business suit touched Cram on the arm, begged a word,
and handed him a card.

"A detective,--already?" asked Cram, in surprise.

"I was with the chief when Lieutenant Pierce came in to report the
matter," was the brief response, "and I came here to see your man. He is
reluctant to tell what he knows without your consent. Could you have him
leave the horses with your orderly below and come up here a moment?"

"Why, certainly, if you wish; but I can't see why," said Cram,

"You will see, sir, in a moment."

And then Jeffers, with white, troubled face, appeared, and twisted his
wet hat-brim in nervous worriment.

"Now what do you want of him?" asked Cram.

"Ask him, sir, who was the man who slipped a greenback into his hand at
the ladies' entrance last evening. What did he want of him?"

Jeffers turned a greenish yellow. His every impulse was to lie, and the
detective saw it.

"You need not lie, Jeffers," he said, very quietly. "It will do no good.
I saw the men. I can tell your master who one of them was, and possibly
lay my hands on the second when he is wanted; but I want you to tell and
to explain what that greenback meant."

Then Jeffers broke down and merely blubbered.

"Hi meant no 'arm, sir. Hi never dreamed there was hanythink wrong.
'Twas Mr. Lascelles, sir. 'E said 'e came to thank me for 'elping 'is
lady, sir. Then 'e wanted to see Mr. Warink, sir."

"Why didn't you tell me of this before?" demanded the captain, sternly.
"You know what happened this morning."

"Hi didn't want to 'ave Mr. Warink suspected, sir," was poor Jeffers's
half-tearful explanation, as Mr. Allerton suddenly entered the little
hall-way room.

The grave, troubled faces caught his eye at once.

"Is anything wrong?" he inquired, anxiously. "I hope Waring is all
right. I tried to induce him not to start, but he said he had promised
and must go."

"What time did he leave you, Mr. Allerton?" asked Cram, controlling as
much as possible the tremor of his voice.

"Soon after the storm broke,--about nine-thirty, I should say. He tried
to get a cab earlier, but the drivers wouldn't agree to go down for
anything less than a small fortune. Luckily, his Creole friends had a

"His what?"

"His friends from near the barracks. They were here when we came down
into the rotunda to smoke after dinner."

Cram felt his legs and feet grow cold and a chill run up his spine.

"Who were they? Did you catch their names?"

"Only one. I was introduced only as they were about to drive away. A
little old fellow with elaborate manners,--a Monsieur Lascelles."

"And Waring drove away with him?"

"Yes, with him and one other. Seemed to be a friend of Lascelles. Drove
off in a closed carriage with a driver all done up in rubber and
oil-skin who said he perfectly knew the road. Why, what's gone amiss?"


And all day long the storm beat upon the substantial buildings of the
old barracks and flooded the low ground about the sheds and stables.
Drills for the infantry were necessarily suspended, several sentries,
even, being taken off their posts. The men clustered in the squad-rooms
and listened with more or less credulity to the theories and
confirmatory statements of fact as related by the imaginative or
loquacious of their number. The majority of the officers gathered under
the flaring lamp-lights at the sutler's store and occupied themselves
pretty much as did their inferiors in grade, though poker and
punch--specialties of Mr. Finkbein, the sutler--lent additional color to
the stories in circulation.

From this congress the better element of the commissioned force was
absent, the names, nationalities, and idiomatic peculiarities of speech
of the individual members being identical in most instances with those
of their comrades in arms in the ranks. "Brax" had summoned Minor,
Lawrence, Kinsey, and Dryden to hear what the post surgeon had to say on
his return, but cautioned them to keep quiet. As a result of this
precaution, the mystery of the situation became redoubled by one
o'clock, and was intensified by two, when it was announced that Private
Dawson had attempted to break away out of the hospital after a visit
from the same doctor in his professional capacity. People were tempted
out on their galleries in the driving storm, and colored servants
flitted from kitchen to kitchen to gather or dispense new rumors, but
nobody knew what to make of it when, soon after two, an orderly rode in
from town dripping with mud and wet, delivered a note to the colonel,
and took one from him to Mr. Ferry, now sole representative of the
officers of Battery "X" present for duty. Ferry in return sent the
bedraggled horseman on to the battery quarters with an order to the
first sergeant, and in about fifteen minutes a sergeant and two men,
mounted and each leading a spare horse, appeared under Ferry's gallery,
and that officer proceeded to occupy one of the vacant saddles, and,
followed by his party, went clattering out of the sally-port and
splashing over to the levee. Stable-call sounded as usual at four
o'clock, and, for the first time in the record of that disciplined
organization since the devastating hand of Yellow Jack was laid upon it
the previous year, no officer appeared to supervise the grooming and
feeding. Two of them were at the post, however. Mr. Doyle, in arrest on
charge of absence without leave, was escorted to his quarters about
four-fifteen, and was promptly visited by sympathizing and inquisitive
comrades from the Hotel Finkbein, while Mr. Ferry, who had effected the
arrest, was detained making his report to the post commander. Night came
on apace, the wind began to die away with the going down of the sun, the
rain ceased to fall, a pallid moon began peering at odd intervals
through rifts in the cloudy veil, when Cram rode splashing into
barracks, worn with anxiety and care, at eleven o'clock, and, stopping
only for a moment to take his wife in his arms and kiss her anxious face
and shake his head in response to her eager query for news of Waring, he
hurried down-stairs again and over to Doyle's quarters. All was darkness
there, but he never hesitated. Tramping loudly over the gallery, he
banged at the door, then, turning the knob, intending to burst right in,
as was the way in the rough old days, was surprised to find the bolt

"Doyle, open. I want to see you at once."

All silence within.

"Doyle, open, or, if you are too drunk to get up, I'll kick in the

A groan, a whispered colloquy, then the rattle of bolt and chain. The
door opened about an inch, and an oily Irish voice inquired,--

"Hwat's wanted, capt'in?"

"You here?" exclaimed Cram, in disgust. "What business have you in this
garrison? If the colonel knew it, you'd be driven out at the point of
the bayonet."

"Sure where should wife be but at her husband's side whin he's sick and
sufferin'? Didn't they root him out of bed and comfort this day and ride
him down like a felon in all the storm? Sure it was the doughboys'
orders, sir. I told Doyle the capt'in niver would have----"

"Oh, be quiet: I must see Doyle, and at once."

"Sure he's not able, capt'in. You know how it is wid him: he's that
sinsitive he couldn't bear to talk of the disgrace he's bringin' on the
capt'in and the batthery, and I knowed he'd been dhrinkin', sir, and I
came back to look for him, but he'd got started, capt'in, and it's----"

"Stop this talk! He wasn't drinking at all until you came back here to
hound him. Open that door, or a file of the guard will."

"Och! thin wait till I'm dressed, fur dacency's sake, capt'in. Sure I'll
thry and wake him."

And then more whispering, the clink of glass, maudlin protestation in
Doyle's thick tones. Cram banged at the door and demanded instant
obedience. Admitted at last, he strode to the side of an ordinary
hospital cot, over which the mosquito-bar was now ostentatiously drawn,
and upon which was stretched the bulky frame of the big Irishman, his
red, blear-eyed, bloated face half covered in his arms. The close air
reeked with the fumes of whiskey. In her distress lest Jim should take
too much, the claimant of his name and protection had evidently been
sequestrating a large share for herself.

"How on earth did you get here? Your house was flooded all day," angrily
asked Cram.

"Sure we made a raft, sir,--'Louette and me,--and poled over to the
levee, and I walked every fut of the way down to follow me husband, as I
swore I would whin we was married. I'd 'a' come in Anatole's boat, sir,
but 'twas gone,--gone since last night. Did ye know that, capt'in?"

A groan and a feverish toss from the occupant of the narrow bed
interrupted her.

"Hush, Jim darlin'! Here's the capt'in to see you and tell you he's come
back to have you roighted. Sure how could a poor fellow be expected to
come home in all that awful storm this mornin', capt'in? 'Tis for not
comin' the colonel had him under arrest; but I tell him the capt'in 'll
see him through."

But Cram pushed her aside as she still interposed between him and the

"Doyle, look up and answer. Doyle, I say!"

Again vehement protestations, and now an outburst of tears and
pleadings, from the woman.

"Oh, he can't understand you, capt'in. Ah, don't be hard on him. Only
this mornin' he was sayin' how the capt'in reminded him of the ould
foine days whin the officers was all gintlemen and soldiers. He's truer
to ye than all the rest of thim, sir. D'ye moind that, capt'in? Ye
wouldn't belave it, mabby, but there's them that can tell ye Loot'nant
Waring was no friend of yours, sir, and worse than that, if ould
Lascelles could spake now--but there's thim left that can, glory be to

"Oh, for God's sake shut up!" spoke Cram, roughly, goaded beyond all
patience. "Doyle, answer me!" And he shook him hard. "You were at the
Pelican last night, and you saw Mr. Waring and spoke with him. What did
he want of you? Where did he go? Who were with him? Was there any
quarrel? Answer, I say! Do you know?" But maudlin moaning and
incoherencies were all that Cram could extract from the prostrate man.
Again the woman interposed, eager, tearful.

"Sure he was there, capt'in, he _was_ there; he told me of it whin I
fetched him home last night to git him out of the storm and away from
that place; but he's too dhrunk now to talk. Sure there was no gittin'
down here to barx for anybody. The cabman, sir, said no carriage could
make it."

"What cabman? That's one thing I want to know. Who is he? What became of

"Sure and how do I know, sir? He was a quiet, dacent man, sir; the same
that Mr. Waring bate so cruel and made Jeffers kick and bate him too. I
saw it all."

"And was he at the Pelican last night? I must know."

"Sure he was indade, sir. Doyle said so whin I fetched him home, and
though he can't tell you now, sir, he told me thin. They all came down
to the Pelican, sir, Waring and Lascelles and the other gintleman, and
they had dhrink, and there was trouble between the Frenchman and
Waring,--sure you can't blame him, wid his wife goin' on so wid the
loot'nant all the last month,--and blows was struck, and Doyle
interposed to stop it, sir, loike the gintleman that he is, and the
cab-driver took a hand and pitched him out into the mud. Sure he'd been
dhrinkin' a little, sir, and was aisy upset, but that's all he knows.
The carriage drove away, and there was three of thim, and poor Doyle got
caught out there in the mud and in the storm, and 'twas me wint out wid
Dawson and another of the byes and fetched him in. And we niver heerd of
the murther at all at all, sir, until I came down here to-day, that's
God's troot', and he'll tell ye so whin he's sober," she ended,
breathless, reckless of her descriptive confusion of Doyle and Divinity.

And still the Irishman lay there, limp, soggy, senseless, and at last,
dismayed and disheartened, the captain turned away.

"Promise to sober him up by reveille, and you may stay. But hear this:
if he cannot answer for himself by that time, out you go in the battery
cart with a policeman to take you to the calaboose." And then he left.

No sooner had his footsteps died away than the woman turned on her
patient, now struggling to a sitting posture.

"Lie still, you thafe and cur, and swear you to every word I say, unless
you'd hang in his place. Dhrink this, now, and go to slape, and be riddy
to tell the story I give ye in the mornin', or may the knife ye drove in
that poor mummy's throat come back to cut your coward heart out."

And Doyle, shivering, sobbing, crazed with drink and fear, covered his
eyes with his hands and threw himself back on his hot and steaming

The morning sun rose brilliant and cloudless as the horses of the
battery came forth from the dark interior of the stable and, after
watering at the long wooden trough on the platform, were led away by
their white-frocked grooms, each section to its own picket-line. Ferry,
supervising the duty, presently caught sight of the tall muscular form
of his captain coming briskly around the corner, little Pierce tripping
along by his side. Cram acknowledged the salute of the battery officer
of the day in hurried fashion.

"Good-morning, Ferry," he said. "Tell me, who were there when you got
Doyle away from that woman yesterday?"

"Only the three, sir,--Mr. and Mrs. Doyle and the negro girl."

"No sign of anybody else?"

"None, sir. I didn't go in the house at all. I rode in the gate and
called for Doyle to come out. The woman tried to parley, but I refused
to recognize her at all, and presently Doyle obeyed without any trouble
whatever, though she kept up a tirade all the time and said he was too
sick to ride, and all that, but he wasn't. He seemed dazed, but not
drunk,--certainly not sick. He rode all right, only he shivered and
crossed himself and moaned when he passed the Lascelles place, for that
hound pup set up a howl just as we were opposite the gate. He was all
trembling when we reached the post, and took a big drink the moment he
got to his room."

"Ye-es, he's been drinking ever since. I've just sent the doctor to see
him. Let the corporal and one man of the guard go with the ambulance to
escort Mrs. Doyle out of the garrison and take her home. She shall not

"Why, she's gone, sir," said Ferry. "The guard told me she went out of
the back gate and up the track towards Anatole's--going for all she was
worth--just after dawn."

"The mischief she has! What can have started her? Did you see her
yourself, Sergeant Bennett?" asked the captain of a stocky little Irish
soldier standing at the moment with drawn sabre awaiting opportunity to
speak to his commander.

"Yes, sir," and the sabre came flashing up to the present. "She'd wint
over to the hospital to get some medicine for the lieutenant just after
our bugle sounded first call, and she came runnin' out as I wint to call
the officer of the day, sir. She ran back to the lieutenant's quarters
ahead of me, and was up only a minute or two whin down she came again
wid some bundles, and away she wint to the north gate, runnin'
wild-like. The steward told me a moment after of Dawson's escape."

"Dawson! escaped from hospital?"

"Yes, sir. They thought he was all right last evening when he was
sleeping, and took the sentry off, and at four this morning he was


Forty-eight hours had passed, and not a trace had been found of
Lieutenant Waring. The civil officers of the law had held grave converse
with the seniors on duty at the barracks, and Cram's face was lined with
anxiety and trouble. The formal inquest was held as the flood subsided,
and the evidence of the post surgeon was most important. About the
throat of the murdered man were indubitable marks of violence. The skin
was torn as by finger-nails, the flesh bruised and discolored as by
fiercely-grasping fingers. But death, said the doctor, was caused by the
single stab. Driven downward with savage force, a sharp-pointed,
two-edged, straight-bladed knife had pierced the heart, and all was over
in an instant. One other wound there was, a slashing cut across the
stomach, which had let a large amount of blood, but might possibly not
have been mortal. What part the deceased had taken in the struggle could
only be conjectured. A little five-chambered revolver which he
habitually carried was found on the floor close at hand. Two charges had
been recently fired, for the barrel was black with powder; but no one
had heard a shot.

The bar-keeper at the Pelican could throw but little light on the
matter. The storm had broken, he said, with sudden fury. The rain dashed
in torrents against his western front, and threatened to beat in the
windows. He called to the two men who happened to be seated at a table
to assist him, and was busy trying to get up the shutters, when
Lieutenant Doyle joined them and rendered timely aid. He had frequently
seen Doyle before during the previous month. Mrs. Doyle lived in the old
Lemaître house in the block below, and he often supplied them with
whiskey. They drank nothing but whiskey. As they ran in the side door
they were surprised to see the lights of a carriage standing at the edge
of the banquette, and the driver begged for shelter for his team, saying
some gentlemen had gone inside. The bar-keeper opened a gate, and the
driver put his horses under a shed in a paved court in the rear, then
came in for a drink. Meantime, said the bar-keeper, whose name was
Bonelli, three gentlemen who were laughing over their escape from the
storm had ordered wine and gone into a private room, Doyle with them.
The only one he knew was Monsieur Lascelles, though he had seen one of
the others frequently as he rode by, and knew him to be an officer
before Mr. Doyle slapped him on the back and hailed him as "Sammy, old
buck!" or something like that. Mr. Doyle had been drinking, and the
gentleman whispered to him not to intrude just then, and evidently
wanted to get rid of him, but Mr. Lascelles, who had ordered the wine,
demanded to be introduced, and would take no denial, and invited Mr.
Doyle to join them, and ordered more wine. And then Bonelli saw that
Lascelles himself was excited by drink,--the first time he had ever
noticed it in the year he had known him. The third gentleman he had
never seen before, and could only say he was dark and sallow and did not
talk, except to urge the driver to make haste,--they must go on; but he
spoke in a low tone with Mr. Lascelles as they went to the room, and
presently the rain seemed to let up a little, though it blew hard, and
the driver went out and looked around and then returned to the private
room where the gentlemen were having their wine, and there was some
angry talk, and he came out in a few minutes very mad; said he wouldn't
be hired to drive that party any farther, or any other party, for that
matter; that no carriage could go down the levee; and then he got out
his team and drove back to town; and then Bonelli could hear sounds of
altercation in the room, and Mr. Doyle's voice, very angry, and the
strange gentleman came out, and one of the men who'd been waiting said
he had a cab, if that would answer, and he'd fetch it right off, and by
the time he got back it was raining hard again, and he took his cab in
under the shed where the carriage had been, and a couple of soldiers
from the barracks then came in, wet and cold, and begged for a drink,
and Bonelli knew one of them, called Dawson, and trusted him, as he
often had done before. When Dawson heard Lieutenant Doyle's drunken
voice he said there'd be trouble getting him home, and he'd better fetch
Mrs. Doyle, and while he was gone Lascelles came out, excited, and threw
down a twenty-dollar bill and ordered more Krug and some brandy, and
there was still loud talk, and when Bonelli carried in the bottles
Doyle was sitting back in a chair, held down by the other officer, who
was laughing at him, but nevertheless had a knife in hand,--a long,
sharp, two-edged knife,--and Doyle was calling him names, and was very
drunk, and soon after they all went out into the rear court, and Doyle
made more noise, and the cab drove away around the corner, going down
the levee through the pouring rain, one man on the box with the driver.
That was the last he saw. Then Mrs. Doyle came in mad, and demanded her
husband, and they found him reeling about the dark court, swearing and
muttering, and Dawson and she took him off between them. This must have
been before eleven o'clock; and that was absolutely all he knew.

Then Mr. Allerton had told his story again, without throwing the
faintest light on the proceedings; and the hack-driver was found, and
frankly and fully told his: that Lascelles and another gentleman hired
him about eight o'clock to drive them down to the former's place, which
they said was several squares above the barracks. He said that he would
have to charge them eight dollars such a night anywhere below the old
cotton-press, where the pavement ended. But then they had delayed
starting nearly an hour, and took another gentleman with them, and when
driven by the storm to shelter at the Pelican saloon, three squares
below where the pavement ended, and he asked for his money, saying he
dare go no farther in the darkness and the flood, the Frenchman wouldn't
pay, because he hadn't taken them all the way. He pointed out that he
had to bring another gentleman and had to wait a long time, and demanded
his eight dollars. The other gentleman, whom he found to be one of the
officers at the barracks, slipped a bill into his hand and said it was
all he had left, and if it wasn't enough he'd pay him the next time he
came to town. But the others were very angry, and called him an Irish
thief, and then the big soldier in uniform said he wouldn't have a man
abused because he was Irish, and Lieutenant Waring, as he understood the
name of this other officer to be, told him, the witness, to slip out and
say no more, that he'd fix it all right, and that was the last he saw of
the party, but he heard loud words and the sound of a scuffle as he
drove away.

And Madame d'Hervilly had given her testimony, which, translated, was
to this effect. She had known the deceased these twenty years. He had
been in the employ of her lamented husband, who died of the fever in
'55, and Monsieur had succeeded to the business, and made money, and
owned property in town, besides the old family residence on the levee
below. He was wedded to Emilie only a little while before the war, and
lived at home all through, but business languished then, they had to
contribute much, and his younger brother, Monsieur Philippe, had cost
him a great deal. Philippe was an officer in the Zouaves raised in 1861
among the French Creoles, and marched with them to Columbus, and was
wounded and came home to be nursed, and Emilie took care of him for
weeks and months, and then he went back to the war and fought bravely,
and was shot again and brought home, and this time Monsieur Lascelles
did not want to have him down at the house; he said it cost too much to
get the doctors down there: so he came under Madame's roof, and she was
very fond of the boy, and Emilie would come sometimes and play and sing
for him. When the war was over Monsieur Lascelles gave him money to go
to Mexico with Maximilian, and when the French were recalled many
deserted and came over to New Orleans, and Monsieur Lascelles was making
very little money now, and had sold his town property, and he borrowed
money of her to help, as he said, Philippe again, who came to visit him,
and he was often worried by Philippe's letters begging for money. Seven
thousand dollars now he owed her, and only last week had asked for more.
Philippe was in Key West to buy an interest in some cigar-business.
Monsieur Lascelles said if he could raise three thousand to reach
Philippe this week they would all make money, but Emilie begged her not
to, she was afraid it would all go, and on the very day before he was
found dead he came to see her in the afternoon on Rampart Street, and
Emilie had told her of Mr. Waring's kindness to her and to Nin Nin, and
how she never could have got up after being dragged into the mud by that
drunken cabman, "and she begged me to explain the matter to her husband,
who was a little vexed with her because of Mr. Waring." But he spoke
only about the money, and did not reply about Mr. Waring, except that
he would see him and make proper acknowledgment of his civility. He
seemed to think only of the money, and said Philippe had written again
and must have help, and he was angry at Emilie because she would not
urge with him, and Emilie wept, and he went away in anger, saying he had
business to detain him in town until morning, when he would expect her
to be ready to return with him.

Much of this testimony was evoked by pointed queries of the officials,
who seemed somewhat familiar with Lascelles's business and family
affairs, and who then declared that they must question the stricken
widow. Harsh and unfeeling as this may have seemed, there were probably
reasons which atoned for it. She came in on the arm of the old family
physician, looking like a drooping flower, with little Nin Nin clinging
to her hand. She was so shocked and stunned that she could barely answer
the questions put to her with all courtesy and gentleness of manner. No,
she had never heard of any quarrel between Monsieur Lascelles and his
younger brother. Yes, Philippe had been nursed by her through his
wounds. She was fond of Philippe, but not so fond as was her husband.
Mr. Lascelles would do anything for Philippe, deny himself anything
almost. Asked if Monsieur Lascelles had not given some reason for his
objection to Philippe's being nursed at his house when he came home the
second time, she was embarrassed and distressed. She said Philippe was
an impulsive boy, fancied himself in love with his brother's wife, and
Armand saw something of this, and at last upbraided him, but very
gently. There was no quarrel at all. Was there any one whom Monsieur
Lascelles had been angered with on her account? She knew of none, but
blushed, and blushed painfully. Had the deceased not recently objected
to the attentions paid her by other gentlemen? There was a murmur of
reproach among the hearers, but Madame answered unflinchingly, though
with painful blushes and tears. Monsieur Lascelles had said nothing of
disapproval until very recently; _au contraire_, he had much liked Mr.
Waring. He was the only one of the officers at the barracks whom he had
ever invited to the house, and he talked with him a great deal; had
never, even to her, spoken of a quarrel with him because Mr. Waring had
been so polite to her, until within a week or two; then--yes, he
certainly had. Of her husband's business affairs, his papers, etc., she
knew little. He always had certain moneys, though not large sums, with
all his papers, in the drawers of his cabinet, and that they should be
in so disturbed a state was not unusual. They were all in order, closed
and locked, when he started for town the morning of that fatal day, but
he often left them open and in disorder, only then locking his library
door. When she left for town, two hours after him, the library door was
open, also the side window. She could throw no light on the tragedy. She
had no idea who the stranger could be. She had not seen Philippe for
nearly a year, and believed him to be at Key West.

Alphonse, the colored boy, was so terrified by the tragedy and by his
detention under the same roof with the murdered man that his evidence
was only dragged from him. Nobody suspected the poor fellow of
complicity in the crime, yet he seemed to consider himself as on trial.
He swore he had entered the library only once during the afternoon or
evening, and that was to close the shutters when the storm broke. He
left a lamp burning low in the hall, according to custom, though he felt
sure his master and mistress would remain in town over-night rather
than attempt to come down. He had slept soundly, as negroes will,
despite the gale and the roar of the rain that drowned all other noises.
It was late the next morning when his mother called him. The old mammy
was frightened to see the front gate open, the deep water in the
streets, and the muddy footprints on the veranda. She called Alphonse,
who found that his master must have come in during the night, after all,
for the lamp was taken from the hall table, the library door was closed
and locked, so was the front door, also barred within, which it had not
been when he went to bed. He tapped at the library, got no answer, so
tiptoed to his master's bedroom; it was empty and undisturbed. Neither
had Madame nor Mademoiselle Nin Nin been to their rooms. Then he was
troubled, and then the soldiers came and called him out into the rain.
They could tell the rest.

Cram's story is already told, and he could add nothing. The officials
tried to draw the batteryman out as to the relations existing between
Lieutenant Waring and Madame, but got badly "bluffed." Cram said he had
never seen anything in the faintest degree worthy of comment. Had he
heard anything? Yes, but nothing worthy of consideration, much less of
repetition. Had he not loaned Mr. Waring his team and carriage to drive
Madame to town that morning? No. How did he get it, then? Took it! Was
Monsieur Waring in the habit of helping himself to the property of his
brother officers? Yes, whenever he felt like it, for they never
objected. The legal official thought such spirit of _camaraderie_ in the
light artillery must make life at the barracks something almost poetic,
to which Cram responded, "Oh, at times absolutely idyllic." And the tilt
ended with the civil functionary ruffled, and this was bad for the
battery. Cram never had any policy whatsoever.

Lieutenant Doyle was the next witness summoned, and a more
God-forsaken-looking fellow never sat in a shell jacket. Still in
arrest, physically, at the beck of old Braxton, and similarly hampered,
intellectually, at the will of bold John Barleycorn, Mr. Doyle came
before the civil authorities only upon formal subpoena served at post
head-quarters. The post surgeon had straightened him up during the day,
but was utterly perplexed at his condition. Mrs. Doyle's appearance in
the neighborhood some weeks before had been the signal for a series of
sprees on the Irishman's part that had on two occasions so prostrated
him that Dr. Potts, an acting assistant surgeon, had been called in to
prescribe for him, and, thanks to the vigorous constitution of his
patient, had pulled him out in a few hours. But this time "Pills the
Less" had found Doyle in a state bordering on terror, even when assured
that the quantity of his potations had not warranted an approach to
tremens. The post surgeon had been called in too, and "Pills the
Pitiless," as he was termed, thanks to his unfailing prescription of
quinine and blue mass in the shape and size of buckshot, having no
previous acquaintance, in Doyle, with these attacks, poohpoohed the
case, administered bromides and admonition in due proportion, and went
off about more important business. Dr. Potts, however, stood by his big
patient, wondering what should cause him to start in such terror at
every step upon the stair without, and striving to bring sleep to eyes
that had not closed the livelong night nor all the balmy, beautiful day.
Once he asked if Doyle wished him to send for his wife, and was startled
at the vehemence of the reply, "For God's sake, no!" and, shuddering,
Doyle had hidden his face and turned away. Potts got him to eat
something towards noon, and Doyle begged for more drink, but was
refused. He was sober, yet shattered, when Mr. Drake suddenly appeared
just about stable-call and bade him repair at once to the presence of
the commanding officer. Then Potts _had_ to give him a drink, or he
would never have got there. With the aid of a servant he was dressed,
and, accompanied by the doctor, reached the office. Braxton looked him
over coldly.

"Mr. Doyle," said he, "the civil authorities have made requisition
for----" But he had got no further when Doyle staggered, and but for the
doctor's help might have fallen.

"For God's sake, colonel, it isn't true! Sure I know nothing of it at
all at all, sir. Indade, indade, I was blind dhrunk, colonel. Sure
they'd swear a man's life away, sir, just because he was the one--he was
the one that----"

"Be silent, sir. You are not accused, that I know of. It is as a witness
you are needed.--Is he in condition to testify, doctor?"

"He is well enough, sir, to tell what he knows, but he claims to know
nothing." And this, too, Doyle eagerly seconded, but was sent along in
the ambulance, with the doctor to keep him out of mischief, and a
parting shot to the effect that when the coroner was through with him
the post commander would take hold again, so the colonel depressed more
than the cocktail stimulated, and, as luck would have it, almost the
first person to meet him inside the gloomy enclosure was his wife, and
her few whispered words only added to his misery.

The water still lay in pools about the premises, and the police had
allowed certain of the neighbors to stream in and stare at the white
walls and shaded windows, but only a favored few penetrated the hall-way
and rooms where the investigation was being held. Doyle shook like one
with the palsy as he ascended the little flight of steps and passed into
the open door-way, still accompanied by "Little Pills." People looked at
him with marked curiosity. He was questioned, re-questioned,
cross-questioned, but the result was only a hopeless tangle. He really
added nothing to the testimony of the hack-driver and Bonelli. In abject
remorse and misery he begged them to understand he was drunk when he
joined the party, got drunker, dimly remembered there was a quarrel, but
he had no cause to quarrel with any one, and that was all; he never knew
how he got home. He covered his face in his shaking hands at last, and
seemed on the verge of a fit of crying.

But then came sensation.

Quietly rising from his seat, the official who so recently had had the
verbal tilt with Cram held forth a rusty, cross-hilted, two-edged knife
that looked as though it might have lain in the mud and wet for hours.

"Have you ever seen this knife before?" he asked. And Doyle, lifting up
his eyes one instant, groaned, shuddered, and said,--

"Oh, my God, yes!"

"Whose property is it or was it?"

At first he would not reply. He moaned and shook. At last--

"Sure the initials are on the top," he cried.

But the official was relentless.

"Tell us what they are and what they represent."

People were crowding the hall-way and forcing themselves into the room.
Cram and Ferry, curiously watching their ill-starred comrade, had
exchanged glances of dismay when the knife was so suddenly produced. Now
they bent breathlessly forward.

The silence for the moment was oppressive.

"If it's the knife I mane," he sobbed at last, desperately, miserably,
"the letters are S. B. W., and it belongs to Lieutenant Waring of our

But no questioning, however adroit, could elicit from him the faintest
information as to how it got there. The last time he remembered seeing
it, he said, was on Mr. Waring's table the morning of the review. A
detective testified to having found it among the bushes under the window
as the water receded. Ferry and the miserable Ananias were called, and
they, too, had to identify the knife, and admit that neither had seen it
about the room since Mr. Waring left for town. Of other witnesses
called, came first the proprietor of the stable to which the cab
belonged. Horse and cab, he said, covered with mud, were found under a
shed two blocks below the French Market, and the only thing in the cab
was a handsome silk umbrella, London make, which Lieutenant Pierce laid
claim to. Mrs. Doyle swore that as she was going in search of her
husband she met the cab just below the Pelican, driving furiously away,
and that in the flash of lightning she recognized the driver as the man
whom Lieutenant Waring had beaten that morning on the levee in front of
her place. A stranger was seated beside him. There were two gentlemen
inside, but she saw the face of only one,--Lieutenant Waring.

Nobody else could throw any light on the matter. The doctor, recalled,
declared the knife or dagger was shaped exactly as would have to be the
one that gave the death-blow. Everything pointed to the fact that there
had been a struggle, a deadly encounter, and that after the fatal work
was done the murderer or murderers had left the doors locked and barred
and escaped through the window, leaving the desk rifled and carrying
away what money there was, possibly to convey the idea that it was only
a vulgar murder and robbery, after all.

Of other persons who might throw light upon the tragedy the following
were missing: Lieutenant Waring, Private Dawson, the cabman, and the
unrecognized stranger. So, too, was Anatole's boat.


When four days and nights had passed away without a word or sign from
Waring, the garrison had come to the conclusion that those officers or
men of Battery "X" who still believed him innocent were idiots. So did
the civil authorities; but those were days when the authorities of
Louisiana commanded less respect from its educated people than did even
the military. The police force, like the State, was undergoing a process
called reconstruction, which might have been impressive in theory, but
was ridiculous in practice. A reward had been offered by business
associates of the deceased for the capture and conviction of the
assassin. A distant relative of old Lascelles had come to take charge of
the place until Monsieur Philippe should arrive. The latter's address
had been found among old Armand's papers, and despatches, _via_ Havana,
had been sent to him, also letters. Pierre d'Hervilly had taken the
weeping widow and little Nin Nin to _bonne maman's_ to stay. Alphonse
and his woolly-pated mother, true to negro superstitions, had decamped.
Nothing would induce them to remain under the roof where foul murder had
been done. "De hahnts" was what they were afraid of. And so the old
white homestead, though surrounded on every side by curiosity-seekers
and prying eyes, was practically deserted. Cram went about his duties
with a heavy heart and light aid. Ferry and Pierce both commanded
sections now, as Doyle remained in close arrest and "Pills the Less" in
close attendance. Something was utterly wrong with the fellow. Mrs.
Doyle had not again ventured to show her red nose within the limits of
the "barx," as she called them, a hint from Braxton having proved
sufficient; but that she was ever scouting the pickets no one could
doubt. Morn, noon, and night she prowled about the neighborhood,
employing the "byes," so she termed such stray sheep in army blue as a
dhrop of Anatole's best would tempt, to carry scrawling notes to Jim,
one of which, falling with its postman by the wayside and turned over by
the guard to Captain Cram for transmittal, was addressed to Mister
Loot'nt James Doyle, Lite Bothery X, Jaxun Barx, and brought the only
laughter to his lips the big horse-artilleryman had known for nearly a
week. Her customary Mercury, Dawson, had vanished from sight, dropped,
with many another and often a better man, as a deserter.

Over at Waring's abandoned quarters the shades were drawn and the green
_jalousies_ bolted. Pierce stole in each day to see that everything,
even to the augmented heap of letters, was undisturbed, and Ananias
drooped in the court below and refused to be comforted. Cram had duly
notified Waring's relatives, now living in New York, of his strange and
sudden disappearance, but made no mention of the cloud of suspicion
which had surrounded his name. Meantime, some legal friends of the
family were overhauling the Lascelles papers, and a dark-complexioned,
thick-set, active little civilian was making frequent trips between
department head-quarters and barracks. At the former he compared notes
with Lieutenant Reynolds, and at the latter with Braxton and Cram. The
last interview Mr. Allerton had before leaving with his family for the
North was with this same lively party, the detective who joined them
that night at the St. Charles, and Allerton, being a man of much
substance, had tapped his pocket-book significantly.

"The difficulty just now is in having a talk with the widow," said this
official to Cram and Reynolds, whom he had met by appointment on the
Thursday following the eventful Saturday of Braxton's "combined" review.
"She is too much prostrated. I've simply got to wait awhile, and
meantime go about this other affair. Is there no way in which you can
see her?"

Cram relapsed into a brown study. Reynolds was poring over the note
written to Braxton and comparing it with one he held in his hand,--an
old one, and one that told an old, old story. "I know you'll say I have
no right to ask this," it read, "but you're a gentleman, and I'm a
friendless woman deserted by a worthless husband. My own people are
ruined by the war, but even if they had money they wouldn't send any to
me, for I offended them all by marrying a Yankee officer. God knows I am
punished enough for that. But I was so young and innocent when he
courted me. I ought to of left--I would of left him as soon as I found
out how good-for-nothing he really was, only I was so much in love I
couldn't. I was fastenated, I suppose. Now I've sold everything, but if
you'll only lend me fifty dollars I'll work my fingers to the bone until
I pay it. For the old home's sake, please do."

"It's the same hand,--the same woman, Cram, beyond a doubt. She bled
Waring for the old home's sake the first winter he was in the South. He
told me all about it two years ago in Washington, when we heard of her
the second time. Now she's followed him over here, or got here first,
tried the same game probably, met with a refusal, and this anonymous
note is her revenge. The man she married was a crack-brained weakling
who got into the army the fag end of the war, fell in love with her
pretty face, married her, then they quarrelled, and he drank himself
into a muddle-head. She ran him into debt; then he gambled away
government funds, bolted, was caught, and would have been tried and sent
to jail, but some powerful relative saved him that, and simply had him
dropped;--never heard of him again. She was about a month grass-widowed
when Waring came on his first duty there. He had an uncongenial lot of
brother officers for a two-company post, and really had known of this
girl and her people before the war, and she appealed to him, first for
sympathy and help, then charity, then blackmail, I reckon, from which
his fever saved him. Then she struck some quartermaster or other and
lived off him for a while; drifted over here, and no sooner did he
arrive, all ignorant of her presence in or around New Orleans, than she
began pestering him again. When he turned a deaf ear, she probably
threatened, and then came these anonymous missives to you and Braxton.
Yours always came by mail, you say. The odd thing about the
colonel's--this one, at least--is that it was with his mail, but never
came through the post-office."

"That's all very interesting," said the little civilian, dryly, "but
what we want is evidence to acquit him and convict somebody else of
Lascelles's death. What has this to do with the other?"

"This much: This letter came to Braxton by hand, not by mail,--by hand,
probably direct from her. What hand had access to the office the day
when the whole command was out at review? Certainly no outsider. The
mail is opened and distributed on its arrival at nine o'clock by the
chief clerk, or by the sergeant-major, if he happens to be there, though
he's generally at guard mount. On this occasion he was out at review.
Leary, chief clerk, tells Colonel Braxton he opened and distributed the
mail, putting the colonel's on his desk; Root was with him and helped.
The third clerk came in later; had been out all night, drinking. His
name is Dawson. Dawson goes out again and gets fuller, and when next
brought home is put in hospital under a sentry. Then he hears of the
murder, bolts, and isn't heard from since, except as the man who helped
Mrs. Doyle to get her husband home. _He_ is the fellow who brought that
note. He knew something of its contents, for the murder terrified him,
and he ran away. Find his trail, and you strike that of the woman who
wrote these."

"By the Lord, lieutenant, if you'll quit the army and take my place
you'll make a name and a fortune."

"And if you'll quit your place and take mine you'll get your _coup de
grâce_ in some picayune Indian fight and be forgotten. So stay where you
are; but find Dawson, find her, find what they know, and you'll be


That night, or very early next morning, there was pandemonium at the
barracks. It was clear, still, beautiful. A soft April wind was drifting
up from the lower coast, laden with the perfume of sweet olive and
orange blossoms. Mrs. Cram, with one or two lady friends and a party of
officers, had been chatting in low tone upon their gallery until after
eleven, but elsewhere about the moonlit quadrangle all was silence when
the second relief was posted. Far at the rear of the walled enclosure,
where, in deference to the manners and customs of war as observed in the
good old days whereof our seniors tell, the sutler's establishment was
planted within easy hailing-distance of the guard-house, there was still
the sound of modified revelry by night, and poker and whiskey punch had
gathered their devotees in the grimy parlors of Mr. Finkbein, and here
the belated ones tarried until long after midnight, as most of them
were bachelors and had no better halves, as had Doyle, to fetch them
home "out of the wet." Cram and his lieutenants, with the exception of
Doyle, were never known to patronize this establishment, whatsoever they
might do outside. They had separated before midnight, and little Pierce,
after his customary peep into Waring's preserves, had closed the door,
gone to his own room, to bed and to sleep. Ferry, as battery officer of
the day, had made the rounds of the stables and gun-shed about one
o'clock, and had encountered Captain Kinsey, of the infantry, coming in
from his long tramp through the dew-wet field, returning from the
inspection of the sentry-post at the big magazine.

"No news of poor Sam yet, I suppose?" said Kinsey, sadly, as the two
came strolling in together through the rear gate.

"Nothing whatever," was Ferry's answer. "We cannot even form a
conjecture, unless he, too, has been murdered. Think of there being a
warrant out for his arrest,--for him, Sam Waring!"

"Well," said Kinsey, "no other conclusion could he well arrived at,
unless that poor brute Doyle did it in a drunken row. Pills says he
never saw a man so terror-stricken as he seems to be. He's afraid to
leave him, really, and Doyle's afraid to be alone,--thinks the old woman
may get in."

"She has no excuse for coming, captain," said Ferry. "When she told Cram
she must see her husband to-day, that she was out of money and starving,
the captain surprised her by handing her fifty dollars, which is much
more than she'd have got from Doyle. She took it, of course, but that
isn't what she wanted. She wants to get at him. She has money enough."

"Yes, that woman's a terror, Ferry. Old Mrs. Murtagh, wife of my
quartermaster sergeant, has been in the army twenty years, and says she
knew her well,--knew all her people. She comes from a tough lot, and
they had a bad reputation in Texas in the old days. Doyle's a totally
different man since she turned up, Cram tells me. Hello! here's 'Pills
the Less,'" he suddenly exclaimed, as they came opposite the west gate,
leading to the hospital. "How's your patient, Doc?"

"Well, he's sleeping at last. He seems worn out. It's the first time
I've left him, but I'm used up and want a few hours' sleep. There isn't
anything to drink in the room, even if he should wake, and Jim is
sleeping or lying there by him."

"Oh, he'll do all right now, I reckon," said the officer of the day,
cheerfully. "Go and get your sleep. The old woman can't get at him
unless she bribes my sentries or rides the air on a broomstick, like
some other old witches I've read of. Ferry sleeps in the adjoining room,
anyhow, so he can look out for her. Good-night, Doc." And so, on they
went, glancing upward at the dim light just showing through the
window-blinds in the gable end of Doyle's quarters, and halting at the
foot of the stairs.

"Come over and have a pipe with me, Ferry," said the captain. "It's too
beautiful a night to turn in. I want to talk to you about Waring,
anyhow. This thing weighs on my mind."

"Done with you, for an hour, anyhow!" said Ferry. "Just wait a minute
till I run up and get my baccy."

Presently down came the young fellow again, meerschaum in hand, the
moonlight glinting on his slender figure, so trim and jaunty in the
battery dress. Kinsey looked him over with a smile of soldierly
approval and a whimsical comment on the contrast between the appearance
of this young artillery sprig and that of his own stout personality,
clad as he was in a bulging blue flannel sack-coat, only distinguishable
in cut and style from civilian garb by its having brass buttons and a
pair of tarnished old shoulder-straps. Ferry was a swell. His shell
jacket fitted like wax. The Russian shoulder-knots of twisted gold were
of the handsomest make. The riding-breeches, top-boots, and spurs were
such that even Waring could not criticise. His sabre gleamed in the
moonbeams, and Kinsey's old leather-covered sword looked dingy by
contrast. His belt fitted trim and taut, and was polished as his
boot-tops; Kinsey's sank down over the left hip, and was worn brown. The
sash Ferry sported as battery officer of the day was draped, West Point
fashion, over the shoulder and around the waist, and accurately knotted
and looped; Kinsey's old war-worn crimson net was slung
higgledy-piggledy over his broad chest.

"What swells you fellows are, Ferry!" he said, laughingly, as the
youngster came dancing down. "Even old Doyle gets out here in his
scarlet plume occasionally and puts us doughboys to shame. What's the
use in trying to make such a rig as ours look soldierly? If it were not
for the brass buttons our coats would make us look like parsons and our
hats like monkeys. As for this undress, all that can be said in its
favor is, you can't spoil it even by sleeping out on the levee in it, as
I am sometimes tempted to do. Let's go out there now."

It was perhaps quarter of two when they took their seats on the wooden
bench under the trees, and, lighting their pipes, gazed out over the
broad sweeping flood of the Mississippi, gleaming like a silvered shield
in the moonlight. Far across at the opposite shore the low line of
orange-groves and plantation houses and quarters was merged in one long
streak of gloom, relieved only at intervals by twinkling light. Farther
up-stream, like dozing sea-dogs, the fleet of monitors lay moored along
the bank, with the masts and roofs of Algiers dimly outlined against the
crescent sweep of lights that marked the levee of the great Southern
metropolis, still prostrate from the savage buffeting of the war, yet so
soon to rouse from lethargy, resume her sway, and, stretching forth her
arms, to draw once again to her bosom the wealth and tribute, tenfold
augmented, of the very heart of the nation, until, mistress of the
commerce of a score of States, she should rival even New York in the
volume of her trade. Below them, away to the east towards English Turn,
rolled the tawny flood, each ripple and eddy and swirling pool crested
with silver,--the twinkling lights at Chalmette barely distinguishable
from dim, low-hanging stars. Midway the black hulk of some big ocean
voyager was forging slowly, steadily towards them, the red light of the
port side already obscured, the white and green growing with every
minute more and more distinct, and, save the faint rustle of the leaves
overhead, murmuring under the touch of the soft, southerly night wind,
the plash of wavelet against the wooden pier, and the measured footfall
of the sentry on the flagstone walk in front of the sally-port, not a
sound was to be heard.

For a while they smoked in silence, enjoying the beauty of the night,
though each was thinking only of the storm that swept over the scene the
Sunday previous and of the tragedy that was borne upon its wings. At
last Kinsey shook himself together.

"Ferry, sometimes I come out here for a quiet smoke and think. Did it
ever occur to you what a fearful force, what illimitable power, there is
sweeping by us here night after night with never a sound?"

"Oh, you mean the Mississip," said Ferry, flippantly. "It would be a
case of mops and brooms, I fancy, if she were to bust through the bank
and sweep us out into the swamps."

"Exactly! that's in case she broke loose, as you say; but even when in
the shafts, as she is now, between the levees, how long would it take
her to sweep a fellow from here out into the gulf, providing nothing
interposed to stop him?"

"Matter of simple mathematical calculation," said Ferry, practically.
"They say it's an eight-mile current easy out there in the middle where
she's booming. Look at that barrel scooting down yonder. Now, I'd lay a
fiver I could cut loose from here at reveille and shoot the passes
before taps and never pull a stroke. It's less than eighty miles down to
the forts."

"Well, then, a skiff like that that old Anatole's blaspheming about
losing wouldn't take very long to ride over that route, would it?" said
Kinsey, reflectively.

"No, not if allowed to slide. But somebody'd be sure to put out and
haul it in as a prize,--flotsam and what-you-may-call-'em. You see these
old niggers all along here with their skiffs tacking on to every hit of
drift-wood that's worth having."

"But, Ferry, do you think they'd venture out in such a storm as Sunday
last?--think anything could live in it short of a decked ship?"

"No, probably not. Certainly not Anatole's boat."

"Well, that's just what I'm afraid of, and what Cram and Reynolds

"Do they? Well, so far as that storm's concerned, it would have blown it
down-stream until it came to the big bend below here to the east. Then,
by rights, it ought to have blown against the left bank. But every inch
of it has been scouted all the way to quarantine. The whole river was
filled with drift, though, and it might have been wedged in a lot of
logs and swept out anyhow. Splendid ship, that! Who is she, do you

The great black hull with its lofty tracery of masts and spars was now
just about opposite the barracks, slowly and majestically ascending the

"One of those big British freight steamers that moor there below the
French Market, I reckon. They seldom come up at night unless it's in the
full of the moon, and even then they move with the utmost caution. See,
she's slowing up now."

"Hello! Listen! What's that?" exclaimed Ferry, starting to his feet.

A distant, muffled cry. A distant shot. The sentry at the sally-port
dashed through the echoing vault, then bang! came the loud roar of his
piece, followed by the yell of--

"Fire! fire! _The guard!_"

With one spring Ferry was down the levee and darted like a deer across
the road, Kinsey lumbering heavily after. Even as he sped through the
stone-flagged way, the hoarse roar of the drum at the guard-house,
followed instantly by the blare of the bugle from the battery quarters,
sounded the stirring alarm. A shrill, agonized female voice was madly
screaming for help. Guards and sentries were rushing to the scene, and
flames were bursting from the front window of Doyle's quarters. Swift
though Ferry ran, others were closer to the spot. Half a dozen active
young soldiers, members of the infantry guard, had sprung to the rescue.
When Ferry dashed up to the gallery he was just in time to stumble over
a writhing and prostrate form, to help extinguish the blazing clothing
of another, to seize his water-bucket and douse its contents over a
third,--one yelling, the others stupefied by smoke--or something. In
less time than it takes to tell it, daring fellows had ripped down the
blazing shades and shutters, tossed them to the parade beneath, dumped a
heap of soaked and smoking bedding out of the rear windows, splashed a
few bucketfuls of water about the reeking room, and the fire was out.
But the doctors were working their best to bring back the spark of life
to two senseless forms, and to still the shrieks of agony that burst
from the seared and blistered lips of Bridget Doyle.

While willing hands bore these scorched semblances of humanity to
neighboring rooms and tender-hearted women hurried to add their
ministering touch, and old Braxton ordered the excited garrison back to
quarters and bed, he, with Cram and Kinsey and Ferry, made prompt
examination of the premises. On the table two whiskey-bottles, one
empty, one nearly full, that Dr. Potts declared were not there when he
left at one. On the mantel a phial of chloroform, which was also not
there before. But a towel soaked with the stifling contents lay on the
floor by Jim's rude pallet, and a handkerchief half soaked, half
consumed, was on the chair which had stood by the bedside, among the
fragments of an overturned kerosene lamp.

A quick examination of the patients showed that Jim, the negro, had been
chloroformed and was not burned at all, that Doyle was severely burned
and had probably inhaled flames, and that the woman was crazed with
drink, terror, and burns combined. It took the efforts of two or three
men and the influence of powerful opiates to quiet her. Taxed with
negligence or complicity on the part of the sentry, the sergeant of the
guard repudiated the idea, and assured Colonel Braxton that it was an
easy matter for any one to get either in or out of the garrison without
encountering the sentry, and, taking his lantern, led the way out to the
hospital grounds by a winding foot-path among the trees to a point in
the high white picket fence where two slats had been shoved aside. Any
one coming along the street without could pass far beyond the ken of the
sentry at the west gate, and slip in with the utmost ease, and once
inside, all that was necessary was to dodge possible reliefs and
patrols. No sentry was posted at the gate through the wall that
separated the garrison proper from the hospital grounds. Asked why he
had not reported this, the sergeant smiled and said there were a dozen
others just as convenient, so what was the use? He did not say, however,
that he and his fellows had recourse to them night after night.

It was three o'clock when the officers' families fairly got settled down
again and back to their beds, and the silence of night once more reigned
over Jackson Barracks. One would suppose that such a scene of terror and
excitement was enough, and that now the trembling, frightened women
might be allowed to sleep in peace; but it was not to be. Hardly had one
of their number closed her eyes, hardly had all the flickering lights,
save those at the hospital and guard-house, been downed again, when the
strained nerves of the occupants of the officers' quadrangle were jumped
into mad jangling once more and all the barracks aroused a second time,
and this, too, by a woman's shriek of horror.

Mrs. Conroy, a delicate, fragile little body, wife of a junior
lieutenant of infantry occupying a set of quarters in the same building
with, but at the opposite end from, Pierce and Waring, was found lying
senseless at the head of the gallery stairs.

When revived, amid tears and tremblings and incoherent exclamations she
declared that she had gone down to the big ice-chest on the ground-floor
to get some milk for her nervous and frightened child and was hurrying
noiselessly up the stairs again,--the only means of communication
between the first and second floors,--when, face to face, in front of
his door, she came upon Mr. Waring, or his ghost; that his eyes were
fixed and glassy; that he did not seem to see her even when he spoke,
for speak he did. His voice sounded like a moan of anguish, she said,
but the words were distinct: "Where is my knife? Who has taken my

And then little Pierce, who had helped to raise and carry the stricken
woman to her room, suddenly darted out on the gallery and ran along to
the door he had closed four hours earlier. It was open. Striking a
match, he hurried through into the chamber beyond, and there, face
downward upon the bed, lay his friend and comrade Waring, moaning like
one in the delirium of fever.


Lieutenant Reynolds was seated at his desk at department head-quarters
about nine o'clock that morning when an orderly in light-battery dress
dismounted at the banquette and came up the stairs three at a jump.
"Captain Cram's compliments, sir, and this is immediate," he reported,
as he held forth a note. Reynolds tore it open, read it hastily through,
then said, "Go and fetch me a cab quick as you can," and disappeared in
the general's room. Half an hour later he was spinning down the levee
towards the French Market, and before ten o'clock was seated in the
captain's cabin of the big British steamer Ambassador, which had arrived
at her moorings during the night. Cram and Kinsey were already there,
and to them the skipper was telling his story.

Off the Tortugas, just about as they had shaped their course for the
Belize, they were hailed by the little steamer Tampa, bound from New
Orleans to Havana. The sea was calm, and a boat put off from the Tampa
and came alongside, and presently a gentleman was assisted aboard. He
seemed weak from illness, but explained that he was Lieutenant Waring,
of the United States Artillery, had been accidentally carried off to
sea, and the Ambassador was the first inward-bound ship they had sighted
since crossing the bar. He would be most thankful for a passage back to
New Orleans. Captain Baird had welcomed him with the heartiness of the
British tar, and made him at home in his cabin. The lieutenant was
evidently far from well, and seemed somewhat dazed and mentally
distressed. He could give no account of his mishap other than that told
him by the officers of the Tampa, which had lain to when overtaken by
the gale on Saturday night, and on Sunday morning when they resumed
their course down-stream they overhauled a light skiff and were
surprised to find a man aboard, drenched and senseless. "The left side
of his face was badly bruised and discolored, even when he came to us,"
said Baird, "and he must have been slugged and robbed, for his watch,
his seal-ring, and what little money he had were all gone." The second
officer of the Tampa had fitted him out with a clean shirt, and the
steward dried his clothing as best he could, but the coat was stained
and clotted with blood. Mr. Waring had slept heavily much of the way
back until they passed Pilot Town. Then he was up and dressed Thursday
afternoon, and seemingly in better spirits, when he picked up a copy of
the New Orleans _Picayune_ which the pilot had left aboard, and was
reading that, when suddenly he started to his feet with an exclamation
of amaze, and, when the captain turned to see what was the matter,
Waring was ghastly pale and fearfully excited by something he had read.
He hid the paper under his coat and sprang up on deck and paced
nervously to and fro for hours, and began to grow so ill, apparently,
that Captain Baird was much worried. At night he begged to be put ashore
at the barracks instead of going on up to town, and Baird had become so
troubled about him that he sent his second officer in the gig with him,
landed him on the levee opposite the sally-port, and there, thanking
them heartily, but declining further assistance, Waring had hurried
through the entrance into the barrack square. Mr. Royce, the second
officer, said there was considerable excitement, beating of drums and
sounding of bugles, at the post, as they rowed towards the shore. He did
not learn the cause. Captain Baird was most anxious to learn if the
gentleman had safely reached his destination. Cram replied that he had,
but in a state bordering on delirium and unable to give any coherent
account of himself. He could tell he had been aboard the Ambassador and
the Tampa, but that was about all.

And then they told Baird that what Waring probably saw was Wednesday's
paper with the details of the inquest on the body of Lascelles and the
chain of evidence pointing to himself as the murderer. This caused
honest Captain Baird to lay ten to one he wasn't, and five to one he'd
never heard of it till he got the paper above Pilot Town. Whereupon all
three officers clapped the Briton on the back and shook him by the hand
and begged his company to dinner at the barracks and at Moreau's; and
then, while Reynolds sped to the police-office and Kinsey back to
Colonel Braxton, whom he represented at the interview, Cram remounted,
and, followed by the faithful Jeffers, trotted up Rampart Street and
sent in his card to Madame Lascelles, and Madame's maid brought back
reply that she was still too shocked and stricken to receive visitors.
So also did Madame d'Hervilly deny herself, and Cram rode home to Nell.

"It is useless," he said. "She will not see me."

"Then she shall see me," said Mrs. Cram.

And so a second time did Jeffers make the trip to town that day, this
time perched with folded arms in the rumble of the pony-phaeton.

And while she was gone, the junior doctor was having the liveliest
experience of his few years of service. Scorched and burned though she
was, Mrs. Doyle's faculties seemed to have returned with renewed
acuteness and force. She demanded to be taken to her husband's side, but
the doctor sternly refused. She demanded to be told his condition, and
was informed that it was so critical he must not be disturbed,
especially by her, who was practically responsible for all his trouble.
Then she insisted on knowing whether he was conscious and whether he had
asked for a priest, and when informed that Father Foley had already
arrived, it required the strength of four men to hold her. She raved
like a maniac, and her screams appalled the garrison. But screams and
struggles were all in vain. "Pills the Less" sent for his senior, and
"Pills the Pitiless" more than ever deserved his name. He sent for a
straitjacket, saw her securely stowed away in that and borne over to a
vacant room in the old hospital, set the steward's wife on watch and a
sentry at the door, went back to Waring's bedside, where Sam lay tossing
in burning fever, murmured his few words of caution to Pierce and Ferry,
then hastened back to where poor Doyle was gasping in agony of mind and
body, clinging to the hand of the gentle soldier of the cross, gazing
piteously into his father confessor's eyes, drinking in his words of
exhortation, yet unable to make articulate reply. The flames had done
their cruel work. Only in desperate pain could he speak again.

It was nearly dark when Mrs. Cram came driving back to barracks,
bringing Mr. Reynolds with her. Her eyes were dilated, her cheeks
flushed with excitement, as she sprang from the low phaeton, and, with a
murmured "Come to me as soon as you can" to her husband, she sped away
up the stairs, leaving him to receive and entertain her passenger.

"I, too, went to see Madame Lascelles late this afternoon," said
Reynolds. "I wished to show her this."

It was a copy of a despatch to the chief of police of New Orleans. It
stated in effect that Philippe Lascelles had not been seen or heard of
around Key West for over two weeks. It was believed that he had gone to

"Can you get word of this to our friend the detective?" asked Cram.

"I have wired already. He has gone to Georgia. What I hoped to do was to
note the effect of this on Madame Lascelles; but she was too ill to see
me. Luckily, Mrs. Cram was there, and I sent it up to her. She will tell
you. Now I have to see Braxton."

And then came a messenger to ask Cram to join the doctor at Doyle's
quarters at once: so he scurried up-stairs to see Nell first and learn
her tidings.

"Did I not tell you?" she exclaimed, as he entered the parlor. "Philippe
Lascelles was here that very night, and had been seen with his brother
at the office on Royal Street twice before this thing happened, and
they had trouble about money. Oh, I made her understand. I appealed to
her as a woman to do what she could to right Mr. Waring, who was so
generally believed to be the guilty man. I told her we had detectives
tracing Philippe and would soon find how and when he reached New
Orleans. Finally I showed her the despatch that Mr. Reynolds sent up,
and at last she broke down, burst into tears, and said she, too, had
learned since the inquest that Philippe was with her husband, and
probably was the stranger referred to, that awful night. She even
suspected it at the time, for she knew he came not to borrow but to
demand money that was rightfully his, and also certain papers that
Armand held and that now were gone. It was she who told me of Philippe's
having been seen with Armand at the office, but she declared she could
not believe that he would kill her husband. I pointed out the fact that
Armand had fired two shots from his pistol, apparently, and that no
bullet-marks had been found in the room where the quarrel took place,
and that if his shots had taken effect on his antagonist he simply could
not have been Waring, for though Waring had been bruised and beaten
about the head, the doctor said there was no sign of bullet-mark about
him anywhere. She recognized the truth of this, but still she said she
believed that there was a quarrel or was to be a quarrel between her
husband and Mr. Waring. Otherwise I believe her throughout. I believe
that, no matter what romance there was about her nursing Philippe and
his falling in love with her, she did not encourage him, did not call
him here again, was true to her old husband. She is simply possessed
with the idea that the quarrel which killed her husband was between
himself and Mr. Waring, and that it occurred after Philippe had got his
money and papers, and gone."

"W-e-e-ll, Philippe will have a heap to explain when he is found," was
Cram's reply. "Now I have to go to Doyle's. He is making some
confession, I expect, to the priest."

But Cram never dreamed for an instant what that was to be.

That night poor Doyle's spirit took its flight, and the story of misery
he had to tell, partly by scrawling with a pencil, partly by gesture in
reply to question, partly in painfully-gasped sentences, a few words at
a time, was practically this. Lascelles and his party did indeed leave
him at the Pelican when he was so drunk he only vaguely knew what was
going on or what had happened in the bar-room where they were drinking,
but his wife had told him the whole story. Lascelles wanted more
drink,--champagne; the bar-tender wanted to close up. They bought
several bottles, however, and had them put in the cab, and Lascelles was
gay and singing, and, instead of going directly home, insisted on
stopping to make a call on the lady who occupied the upper floor of the
house Doyle rented on the levee. Doyle rarely saw her, but she sometimes
wrote to Lascelles and got Bridget to take the letters to him. She was
setting her cap for the old Frenchman. "We called her Mrs. Dawson." The
cabman drove very slowly through the storm as Doyle walked home along
with Bridget and some man who was helping, and when they reached the
gate there was the cab and Waring in it. The cab-driver was standing by
his horse, swearing at the delay and saying he would charge double fare.
Doyle had had trouble with his wife for many years, and renewed trouble
lately because of two visits Lascelles had paid there, and that evening
when she sent for him he was drinking in Waring's room, had been
drinking during the day; he dreaded more trouble, and 'twas he who took
Waring's knife, and still had it, he said, when he entered the gate, and
no sooner did he see Lascelles at his door than he ordered him to leave.
Lascelles refused to go. Doyle knocked him down, and the Frenchman
sprang up, swearing vengeance. Lascelles fired two shots, and Doyle
struck once,--with the knife,--and there lay Lascelles, dead, before
Doyle could know or realize what he was doing. In fact, Doyle never did
know. It was what his wife had told him, and life had been a hell to him
ever since that woman came back. She had blackmailed him, more or less,
ever since he got his commission, because of an old trouble he'd had in

And this confession was written out for him, signed by Doyle on his
dying bed, duly witnessed, and the civil authorities were promptly
notified. Bridget Doyle was handed over to the police. Certain
detectives out somewhere on the trail of somebody else were telegraphed
to come in, and four days later, when the force of the fever was broken
and Waring lay weak, languid, but returning to his senses, Cram and the
doctor read the confession to their patient, and then started to their
feet as he almost sprang from the bed.

"It's an infernal lie!" he weakly cried. "I took that knife from Doyle
and kept it. I myself saw Lascelles to his gate, safe and sound."


The sunshine of an exquisite April morning was shimmering over the
Louisiana lowlands as Battery "X" was "hitching in," and Mrs. Cram's
pretty pony-phaeton came flashing through the garrison gate and reined
up in front of the guns. A proud and happy woman was Mrs. Cram, and
daintily she gathered the spotless, cream-colored reins and slanted her
long English driving-whip at the exact angle prescribed by the vogue of
the day. By her side, reclining luxuriously on his pillows, was Sam
Waring, now senior first lieutenant of the battery, taking his first
airing since his strange illness. Pallid and thin though he was, that
young gentleman was evidently capable of appreciating to the fullest
extent the devoted attentions of which he had been the object ever since
his return. Stanch friend and fervent champion of her husband's most
distinguished officer at any time, Mrs. Cram had thrown herself into his
cause with a zeal that challenged the admiration even of the men whom
she mercilessly snubbed because they had accepted the general verdict
that Lascelles had died by Waring's hand. Had they met in the duello as
practised in the South in those days, sword to sword, or armed with
pistol at twelve paces, she would have shuddered, but maintained that as
a soldier and gentleman Waring could not have refused his opponent's
challenge, inexcusable though such challenge might have been. But that
he could have stooped to vulgar, unregulated fracas, without seconds or
the formality of the cartel, first with fists and those women's weapons,
nails, then knives or stilettoes, as though he was some low dago or
Sicilian,--why, that was simply and utterly incredible. None the less
she was relieved and rejoiced, as were all Waring's friends, when the
full purport of poor Doyle's dying confession was noised abroad. Even
those who were sceptical were now silenced. For four days her comfort
and relief had been inexpressible; and then came the hour when, with woe
and trouble in his face, her husband returned to her from Waring's
bedside with the incomprehensible tidings that he had utterly repudiated
Doyle's confession,--had, indeed, said that which could probably only
serve to renew the suspicion of his own guilt, or else justify the
theory that he was demented.

Though Cram and the doctor warned Waring not to talk, talk he would, to
Pierce, to Ferry, to Ananias; and though these three were pledged by
Cram to reveal to no one what Waring said, it plunged them in an agony
of doubt and misgiving. Day after day had the patient told and re-told
the story, and never could cross-questioning shake him in the least.
Cram sent for Reynolds and took him into their confidence, and Reynolds
heard the story and added his questions, but to no effect. From first to
last he remembered every incident up to his parting with Lascelles at
his own gateway. After that--nothing.

His story, in brief, was as follows. He was both surprised and
concerned, while smoking and chatting with Mr. Allerton in the rotunda
of the St. Charles, to see Lascelles with a friend, evidently watching
an opportunity of speaking with him. He had noticed about a week
previous a marked difference in the old Frenchman's manner, and three
days before the tragedy, when calling on his way from town to see
Madame and Nin Nin, was informed that they were not at home, and
Monsieur himself was the informant; nor did he, as heretofore, invite
Waring to enter. Sam was a fellow who detested misunderstanding.
Courteously, but positively, he demanded explanation. Lascelles shrugged
his shoulders, but gave it. He had heard too much of Monsieur's
attentions to Madame his wife, and desired their immediate
discontinuance. He must request Monsieur's assurance that he would not
again visit Beau Rivage, or else the reparation due a man of honor, etc.
"Whereupon," said Waring, "I didn't propose to be outdone in civility,
and therefore replied, in the best French I could command, 'Permit me to
tender Monsieur--both. Monsieur's friends will find me at the

"All the same," said Waring, "when I found Madame and Nin Nin stuck in
the mud I did what I considered the proper thing, and drove them, _coram
publico_, to 'bonne maman's,' never letting them see, of course, that
there was any row on tap, and so when I saw the old fellow with a
keen-looking party alongside I felt sure it meant mischief. I was
utterly surprised, therefore, when Lascelles came up with hat off and
hand extended, bowing low, praying pardon for the intrusion, but saying
he could not defer another instant the desire to express his gratitude
the most profound for my extreme courtesy to Madame and his beloved
child. He had heard the whole story, and, to my confusion, insisted on
going over all the details before Allerton, even to my heroism, as he
called it, in knocking down that big bully of a cabman. I was confused,
yet couldn't shake him off. He was persistent. He was abject. He begged
to meet my friend, to present his, to open champagne and drink eternal
friendship. He would change the name of his _château_--the rotten old
rookery--from Beau Rivage to Belle Alliance. He would make this day a
_fête_ in the calendar of the Lascelles family. And then it began to
dawn on me that he had been drinking champagne before he came. I did not
catch the name of the other gentleman, a much younger man. He was very
ceremonious and polite, but distant. Then, in some way, came up the fact
that I had been trying to get a cab to take me back to barracks, and
then Lascelles declared that nothing could be more opportune. He had
secured a carriage and was just going down with Monsieur. They had _des
affaires_ to transact at once. He took me aside and said, 'In proof that
you accept my _amende_, and in order that I may make to you my personal
apologies, you must accept my invitation.' So go with them I did. I was
all the time thinking of Cram's mysterious note bidding me return at
taps. I couldn't imagine what was up, but I made my best endeavors to
get a cab. None was to be had, so I was really thankful for this
opportunity. All the way down Lascelles overwhelmed me with civilities,
and I could only murmur and protest, and the other party only murmured
approbation. He hardly spoke English at all. Then Lascelles insisted on
a stop at the Pelican and on bumpers of champagne, and there, as luck
would have it, was Doyle,--drunk, as usual, and determined to join the
party; and though I endeavored to put him aside, Lascelles would not
have it. He insisted on being presented to the comrade of his gallant
friend, and in the private room where we went he overwhelmed Doyle with
details of our grand reconciliation and with bumper after bumper of
Krug. This enabled me to fight shy of the wine, but in ten minutes Doyle
was fighting drunk, Lascelles tipsy. The driver came in for his pay,
saying he would go no further. They had a row. Lascelles wouldn't pay;
called him an Irish thief, and all that. I slipped my last V into the
driver's hand and got him out somehow. Monsieur Philippes, or whatever
his name was, said he would go out,--he'd get a cab in the neighborhood;
and the next thing I knew, Lascelles and Doyle were in a fury of a row.
Lascelles said all the Irish were knaves and blackguards and swindlers,
and Doyle stumbled around after him. Out came a pistol! Out came a
knife! I tripped Doyle and got him into a chair, and was so intent on
pacifying him and telling him not to make a fool of himself that I
didn't notice anything else. I handled him good-naturedly, got the knife
away, and then was amazed to find that he had my own pet paper-cutter. I
made them shake hands and make up. It was all a mistake, said Lascelles.
But what made it a worse mistake, the old man _would_ order more wine,
and, with it, brandy. He insisted on celebrating this second grand
reconciliation, and then both got drunker, but the tall Frenchman had
Lascelles's pistol and I had the knife, and then a cab came, and,
though it was storming beastly and I had Ferry's duds on and Larkin's
best tile and Pierce's umbrella, we bundled in somehow and drove on down
the levee, leaving Doyle in the hands of that Amazon of a wife of his
and a couple of doughboys who happened to be around there. Now Lascelles
was all hilarity, singing, joking, confidential. Nothing would do but we
must stop and call on a lovely woman, a _belle amie_. He could rely on
our discretion, he said, laying his finger on his nose, and looking sly
and coquettish, for all the world like some old _roué_ of a Frenchman.
He must stop and see her and take her some wine. 'Indeed,' he said,
mysteriously, 'it is a rendezvous.' Well, I was their guest; I had no
money. What could I do? It was then after eleven, I should judge.
Monsieur Philippes, or whatever his name was, gave orders to the driver.
We pulled up, and then, to my surprise, I found we were at Doyle's. That
ended it. I told them they must excuse me. They protested, but of course
I couldn't go in there. So they took a couple of bottles apiece and went
in the gate, and I settled myself for a nap and got it. I don't know how
long I slept, but I was aroused by the devil's own tumult. A shot had
been fired. Men and women both were screaming and swearing. Some one
suddenly burst into the cab beside me, really pushed from behind, and
then away we went through the mud and the rain; and the lightning was
flashing now, and presently I could recognize Lascelles, raging.
'Infâme!' 'Coquin!' 'Assassin!' were the mildest terms he was volleying
at somebody; and then, recognizing me, he burst into maudlin tears,
swore I was his only friend. He had been insulted, abused, denied
reparation. Was he hurt? I inquired, and instinctively felt for my
knife. It was still there where I'd hid it in the inside pocket of my
overcoat. No hurt; not a blow. Did I suppose that he, a Frenchman, would
pardon that or leave the spot until satisfaction had been exacted? Then
I begged him to be calm and listen to me for a moment. I told him my
plight,--that I had given my word to be at barracks that evening; that I
had no money left, but I could go no further. Instantly he forgot his
woes and became absorbed in my affairs. _'Parole d'honneur!_' he would
see that mine was never unsullied. He himself would escort me to the
_maison de_ Capitaine Cram. He would rejoice to say to that brave
ennemi, Behold! here is thy lieutenant, of honor the most unsullied, of
courage the most admirable, of heart the most magnanimous. The Lord only
knows what he wouldn't have done had we not pulled up at his gate. There
I helped him out on the banquette. He was steadied by his row, whatever
it had been. He would not let me expose myself--even under Pierce's
umbrella. He would not permit me to suffer 'from times so of the dog.'
'You will drive Monsieur to his home and return here for me at once,' he
ordered cabby, grasped both my hands with fervent good-night and the
explanation that he had much haste, implored pardon for leaving me,--on
the morrow he would call and explain everything,--then darted into the
gate. We never could have parted on more friendly terms. I stood a
moment to see that he safely reached his door, for a light was dimly
burning in the hall, then turned to jump into the cab, but it wasn't
there. Nothing was there. I jumped from the banquette into a berth
aboard some steamer out at sea. They tell me the first thing I asked for
was Pierce's umbrella and Larkin's hat."

And this was the story that Waring maintained from first to last.
"Pills" ventured a query as to whether the amount of Krug and Clicquot
consumed might not have overthrown his mental equipoise. No, Sam
declared, he drank very little. "The only bacchanalian thing I did was
to join in a jovial chorus from a new French opera which Lascelles's
friend piped up and I had heard in the North:

     Oui, buvons, buvons encore!
     S'il est un vin qu'on adore
     De Paris à Macao,
     C'est le Clicquot, c'est le Clicquot."

Asked if he had formed any conjecture as to the identity of the
stranger, Sam said no. The name sounded like "Philippes," but he
couldn't be sure. But when told that there were rumors to the effect
that Lascelles's younger brother had been seen with him twice or thrice
of late, and that he had been in exile because, if anything, of a
hopeless passion for Madame his sister-in-law, and that his name was
Philippe, Waring looked dazed. Then a sudden light, as of newer, fresher
memory, flashed up in his eyes. He seemed about to speak, but as
suddenly controlled himself and turned his face to the wall. From that
time on he was determinedly dumb about the stranger. What roused him to
lively interest and conjecture, however, was Cram's query as to whether
he had not recognized in the cabman, called in by the stranger, the very
one whom he had "knocked endwise" and who had tried to shoot him that
morning. "No," said Waring: "the man did not speak at all, that I
noticed, and I did not once see his face, he was so bundled up against
the storm." But if it was the same party, suggested he, it seemed hardly
necessary to look any further in explanation of his own disappearance.
Cabby had simply squared matters by knocking him senseless, helping
himself to his watch and ring, and turning out his pockets, then
hammering him until frightened off, and then, to cover his tracks,
setting him afloat in Anatole's boat.

"Perhaps cabby took a hand in the murder, too," suggested Sam, with
eager interest. "You say he had disappeared,--gone with his plunder.
Now, who else could have taken my knife?"

Then Reynolds had something to tell him: that the "lady" who wrote the
anonymous letters, the _belle amie_ whom Lascelles proposed to visit,
the occupant of the upper floor of "the dove-cot," was none other than
the blighted floweret who had appealed to him for aid and sympathy, for
fifty dollars at first and later for more, the first year of his army
service in the South, "for the sake of the old home." Then Waring grew
even more excited and interested. "Pills" put a stop to further
developments for a few days. He feared a relapse. But, in spite of
"Pills," the developments, like other maladies, throve. The little
detective came down again. He was oddly inquisitive about that _chanson
à boire_ from "_Fleur de Thé_." Would Mr. Waring hum it for him? And
Sam, now sitting up in his parlor, turned to his piano, and with long,
slender, fragile-looking fingers rattled a lively prelude and then
faintly quavered the rollicking words.

"Odd," said Mr. Pepper, as they had grown to call him, "I heard that
sung by a fellow up in Chartres Street two nights hand-running before
this thing happened,--a merry cuss, too, with a rather loose hand on his
shekels. Lots of people may know it, though, mayn't they?"

"No, indeed, not down here," said Sam. "It only came out in New York
within the last four months, and hasn't been South or West at all, that
I know of. What did he look like?"

"Well, what did the feller that was with you look like?"

But here Sam's description grew vague. So Pepper went up to have a beer
by himself at the _café chantant_ on Chartres Street, and didn't return
for nearly a week.

Meantime came this exquisite April morning and Sam's appearance in the
pony-phaeton in front of Battery "X." Even the horses seemed to prick up
their ears and be glad to see him. Grim old war sergeants rode up to
touch their caps and express the hope that they'd soon have the
lieutenant in command of the right section again,--"not but what
Loot'n't Ferry's doing first-rate, sir,"--and for a few minutes, as his
fair charioteer drove him around the battery, in his weak, languid
voice, Waring indulged in a little of his own characteristic chaffing:

"I expect you to bring this section up to top notch, Mr. Ferry, as I am
constitutionally opposed to any work on my own account. I beg to call
your attention, sir, to the fact that it's very bad form to appear with
full-dress _schabraque_ on your horse when the battery is in fatigue.
The red blanket, sir, the red blanket only should be used. Be good
enough to stretch your traces there, right caisson. Yes, I thought so,
swing trace is twisted. Carelessness, Mr. Ferry, and indifference to
duty are things I won't tolerate. Your cheek-strap, too, sir, is an inch
too long. Your bit will fall through that horse's mouth. This won't do,
sir, not in my section, sir. I'll fine you a box of Partagas if it
occurs again."

But the blare of the bugle sounding "attention" announced the presence
of the battery commander. Nell whipped up in an instant and whisked her
invalid out of the way.

"Good-morning, Captain Cram," said he, as he passed his smiling chief.
"I regret to observe, sir, that things have been allowed to run down
somewhat in my absence."

"Oh, out with you, you combination of cheek and incapacity, or I'll run
you down with the whole battery. Oh! Waring, some gentlemen in a
carriage have just stopped at your quarters, all in black, too. Ah,
here's the orderly now."

And the card, black-bordered, handed into the phaeton, bore a name which
blanched Waring's face:

     |                                |
     |    _M. Philippe Lascelles_,    |
     |                                |
     |                                |
     |                _N'lle Orléans_.|

"Why, what is it, Waring?" asked Cram, anxiously, bending down from his

For a moment Waring was silent. Mrs. Cram felt her own hand trembling.

"Can you turn the battery over to Ferry and come with me?" asked the

"Certainly.--Bugler, report to Lieutenant Ferry and tell him I shall
have to be absent for a while.--Drive on, Nell."

When, five minutes later, Waring was assisted up the stair-way, Cram
towering on his right, the little party came upon a group of
strangers,--three gentlemen, one of whom stepped courteously forward,
raising his hat in a black-gloved hand. He was of medium height,
slender, erect, and soldierly in bearing; his face was dark and oval,
his eyes large, deep, and full of light. He spoke mainly in English,
but with marked accent, and the voice was soft and melodious:

"I fear I have intrude. Have I the honor to address Lieutenant Waring? I
am Philippe Lascelles."

For a moment Waring was too amazed to speak. At last, with brightening
face and holding forth his hand, he said,--

"I am most glad to meet you,--to know that it was not you who drove down
with us that night."

"Alas, no! I left Armand but that very morning, returning to Havana,
thence going to Santiago. It was not until five days ago the news
reached me. It is of that stranger I come to ask."

It was an odd council gathered there in Waring's room in the old
barracks that April morning while Ferry was drilling the battery to his
heart's content and the infantry companies were wearily going over the
manual or bayonet exercise. Old Brax had been sent for, and came.
Monsieur Lascelles's friends, both, like himself, soldiers of the South,
were presented, and for their information Waring's story was again told,
with only most delicate allusion to certain incidents which might be
considered as reflecting on the character and dignity of the elder
brother. And then Philippe told his. True, there had been certain
transactions between Armand and himself. He had fully trusted his
brother, a man of affairs, with the management of the little inheritance
which he, a soldier, had no idea how to handle, and Armand's business
had suffered greatly by the war. It was touching to see how in every
word the younger strove to conceal the fact that the elder had
misapplied the securities and had been practically faithless to his
trust. Everything, he declared, had been finally settled as between them
that very morning before his return to Havana. Armand had brought to him
early all papers remaining in his possession and had paid him what was
justly due. He knew, however, that Armand was now greatly embarrassed in
his affairs. They had parted with fond embrace, the most affectionate of
brothers. But Philippe had been seeing and hearing enough to make him
gravely apprehensive as to Armand's future, to know that his business
was rapidly going down-hill, that he had been raising money in various
ways, speculating, and had fallen into the hands of sharpers, and yet
Armand would not admit it, would not consent to accept help or to use
his younger brother's property in any way. "The lawyer," said Philippe,
"informed me that Beau Rivage was heavily mortgaged, and it is feared
that there will be nothing left for Madame and Nin Nin, though, for that
matter, they shall never want." What he had also urged, and he spoke
with reluctance here, and owned it only because the detectives told him
it was now well known, was that Armand had of late been playing the
_rôle_ of _galant homme_, and that the woman in the case had fled. Of
all this he felt, he said, bound to speak fully, because in coming here
with his witnesses to meet Lieutenant Waring and his friends he had two
objects in view. The first was to admit that he had accepted as fact the
published reports that Lieutenant Waring was probably his brother's
slayer; had hastened back to New Orleans to demand justice or obtain
revenge; had here learned from the lawyers and police that there were
now other and much more probable theories, having heard only one of
which he had cried "Enough," and had come to pray the forgiveness of Mr.
Waring for having believed an officer and a gentleman guilty of so foul
a crime. Second, he had come to invoke his aid in running down the
murderer. Philippe was affected almost to tears.

"There is one question I must beg to ask Monsieur," said Waring, as the
two clasped hands. "Is there not still a member of your family who
entertains the idea that it was I who killed Armand Lascelles?"

And Philippe was deeply embarrassed.

"Ah, monsieur," he answered, "I could not venture to intrude myself upon
a grief so sacred. I have not seen Madame, and who is there who
could--who would--tell her of Armand's----" And Philippe broke off
abruptly, with despairing shrug, and outward wave of his slender hand.

"Let us try to see that she never does know," said Waring. "These are
the men we need to find: the driver of the cab, the stranger whose name
sounded so like yours, a tall, swarthy, black-haired, black-eyed fellow
with pointed moustache----"

"_C'est lui! c'est bien lui!_" exclaimed Lascelles,--"the very man who
insisted on entering the private office where, Armand and I, we close
our affairs that morning. His whispered words make my brother all of
pale, and yet he go off humming to himself."

"Oh, we'll nail him," said Cram. "Two of the best detectives in the
South are on his trail now."

And then came Ananias with a silver tray, champagne, and glasses (from
Mrs. Cram), and the conference went on another hour before the guests
went off.

"Bless my soul!" said Brax, whose diameter seemed in no wise increased
by the quart of Roederer he had swallowed with such gusto,--"bless my
soul! and to think I believed that we were going to have a duel with
some of those fellows a fortnight or so ago!"

Then entered "Pills" and ordered Waring back to bed. He was sleeping
placidly when, late that evening, Reynolds and Cram came tearing up the
stair-way, full of great news; but the doctor said not to wake him.

Meantime, how fared it with that bruised reed, the lone widow of the
late Lieutenant Doyle? Poor old Jim had been laid away with military
honors under the flag at Chalmette, and his faithful Bridget was
spending the days in the public calaboose. Drunk and disorderly was the
charge on which she had been arraigned, and, though she declared herself
abundantly able to pay her fine twice over, Mr. Pepper had warned the
authorities to keep her under lock and key and out of liquor, as her
testimony would be of vital importance, if for nothing better than to
send her up for perjury. Now she was alternately wheedling, cursing,
coaxing, bribing; all to no purpose. The agent of the Lemaître property
had swooped down on the dove-cot and found a beggarly array of empty
bottles and a good deal of discarded feminine gear scattered about on
both floors. One room in which certain detectives were vastly interested
contained the unsavory relics of a late supper. Three or four empty
champagne-bottles, some shattered glasses, and, what seemed most to
attract them, various stubs of partially-consumed cigarettes, lay about
the tables and floor. Adjoining this was the chamber which had been
known as Mrs. Dawson's, and this, too, had been thoroughly explored.
'Louette, who had disappeared after Doyle's tragic death, was found not
far away, and the police thought it but fair that Mrs. Doyle should not
be deprived of the services of her maid. Then came other additions,
though confined in other sections of the city. Mr. Pepper wired that
the party known as Monsieur Philippes had been run to earth and would
reach town with him by train about the same time that another of the
force returned from Mobile by boat, bringing a young man known as Dawson
and wanted as a deserter, and a very sprightly young lady who appeared
to move in a higher sphere of life, but was unquestionably his wife, for
the officer could prove their marriage in South Carolina in the spring
of '65. As Mr. Pepper expressed it when he reported to Reynolds, "It's
almost a full hand, but, for a fact, it's only a bobtail flush. We need
that cabman to fill."

"How did you trace Philippes?" asked Reynolds.

"Him? Oh, he was too darned musical. It was--what do you call it?--Flure
de Tay that did for him. Why, he's the fellow that raised all the money
and most of the h--ll for this old man Lascelles. He'd been sharping him
for years."

"Well, when can we bring this thing to a head?" asked the aide-de-camp.

"_Poco tiempo!_ by Saturday, I reckon."

But it came sooner.

Waring was seated one lovely evening in a low reclining chair on Mrs.
Cram's broad gallery, sipping contentedly at the cup of fragrant tea she
had handed him. The band was playing, and a number of children were
chasing about in noisy glee. The men were at supper, the officers, as a
rule, at mess. For several minutes the semi-restored invalid had not
spoken a word. In one of his customary day-dreams he had been calmly
gazing at the shapely white hand of his hostess, "all queenly with its
weight of rings."

"Will you permit me to examine those rings a moment?" he said.

"Why, certainly. No, you sit still, Mr. Waring," she replied, promptly
rising, and, pulling them off her fingers, dropped them into his open
palm. With the same dreamy expression on his clear-cut, pallid face, he
turned them over and over, held them up to the light, finally selected
one exquisite gem, and then, half rising, held forth the others. As she
took them and still stood beside his chair as though patiently waiting,
he glanced up.

"Oh, beg pardon. You want this, I suppose?" and, handing her the dainty
teacup, he calmly slipped the ring into his waistcoat-pocket and
languidly murmured, "Thanks."

"Well, I like that."

"Yes? So do I, rather better than the others."

"May I ask what you purpose doing with my ring?"

"I was just thinking. I've ordered a new Amidon for Larkin, a new
ninety-dollar suit for Ferry, and I shall be decidedly poor this month,
even if we recover Merton's watch."

"Oh, well, if it's only to pawn one, why not take a diamond?"

"But it isn't."

"What then, pray?"

"Well, again I was just thinking--whether I could find another to match
this up in town, or send this one--to her."

"Mr. _Waring_! _Really?_" And now Mrs. Cram's bright eyes are dancing
with eagerness and delight.

For all answer, though his own eyes begin to moisten and swim, he draws
from an inner pocket a dainty letter, post-marked from a far, far city
to the northeast.

"You _dear_ fellow! How can I tell you how glad I am! I haven't dared
to ask you of her since we met at Washington, but--oh, my heart has been
just full of her since--since this trouble came."

"God bless the trouble! it was that that won her to me at last. I have
loved her ever since I first saw her--long years ago."

"Oh! _oh!_ OH! if Ned were only here! I'm wild to tell him. I may,
mayn't I?"

"Yes, the moment he comes."

But Ned brought a crowd with him when he got back from town a little
later. Reynolds was there, and Philippe Lascelles, and Mr. Pepper, and
they had a tale to tell that must needs be condensed.

They had all been present by invitation of the civil authorities at a
very dramatic affair during the late afternoon,--the final lifting of
the veil that hid from public view the "strange, eventful history" of
the Lascelles tragedy. Cram was the spokesman by common consent. "With
the exception of the Dawsons," said he, "none of the parties implicated
knew up to the hour of his or her examination that any one of the others
was to appear." Mrs. Dawson, eager to save her own pretty neck, had
told her story without reservation. Dawson knew nothing.

The story had been wrung from her piecemeal, but was finally told in
full, and in the presence of the officers and civilians indicated. She
had married in April, '65, to the scorn of her people, a young Yankee
officer attached to the commissary department. She had starved all
through the war. She longed for life, luxury, comforts. She had nothing
but her beauty, he nothing but his pay. The extravagances of a month
swamped him; the drink and desperation of the next ruined him. He
maintained her in luxury at the best hotel only a few weeks, then all of
his and much of Uncle Sam's money was gone. Inspection proved him a
thief and embezzler. He fled, and she was abandoned to her own
resources. She had none but her beauty and a gift of penmanship which
covered the many sins of her orthography. She was given a clerkship, but
wanted more money, and took it, blackmailing a quartermaster. She
imposed on Waring, but he quickly found her out and absolutely refused
afterwards to see her at all. She was piqued and angered, "a woman
scorned," but not until he joined Battery "X" did opportunity present
itself for revenge. She had secured a room under Mrs. Doyle's reputable
roof, to be near the barracks, where she could support herself by
writing for Mrs. Doyle and blackmailing those whom she lured, and where
she could watch _him_, and, to her eager delight, she noted and prepared
to make much of his attentions to Madame Lascelles. Incidentally, too,
she might inveigle the susceptible Lascelles himself, on the principle
that there's no fool like an old fool. Mrs. Doyle lent herself eagerly
to the scheme. The letters began to pass to and fro again. Lascelles was
fool enough to answer, and when, all on a sudden, Mrs. Doyle's
"long-missing relative," as she called him, turned up, a pensioner on
her charity, it was through the united efforts of the two women he got a
situation as cab-driver at the stable up at the eastern skirt of the
town. Dawson had enlisted to keep from starving, and, though she had no
use for him as a husband, he would do to fetch and carry, and he dare
not disobey. Twice when Doyle was battery officer of the day did this
strangely-assorted pair of women entertain Lascelles at supper and
fleece him out of what money he had. Then came Philippes with Lascelles
in Mike's cab, as luck would have it, but they could not fleece
Philippes. Old Lascelles was rapidly succumbing to Nita's fascinations
when came the night of the terrible storm. Mike had got to drinking, and
was laid low by the lieutenant. Mike and Bridget both vowed vengeance.
But meantime Doyle himself had got wind of something that was going on,
and he and his tyrant had a fearful row. He commanded her never to allow
a man inside the premises when he was away, and, though brought home
drunk that awful night, furiously ordered the Frenchman out, and might
have assaulted them had not Bridget lassoed him with a chloroformed
towel. That was the last he knew until another day. Lascelles,
Philippes, and she, Mrs. Dawson, had already drunk a bottle of champagne
when interrupted by Doyle's coming. Lascelles was tipsy, had snatched
his pistol and fired a shot to frighten Doyle, but had only enraged him,
and then he had to run for his cab. He was bundled in and Doyle disposed
of. It was only three blocks down to Beau Rivage, and thither Mike drove
them in all the storm. She did not know at the time of Waring's being in
the cab. In less than fifteen minutes Mike was back and called
excitedly for Bridget; had a hurried consultation with her; she seized a
waterproof and ran out with him, but darted back and took the bottle of
chloroform she had used on her husband, now lying limp and senseless on
a sofa below, and then she disappeared. When half an hour passed and
Lascelles failed to return with them, bringing certain papers of which
he'd been speaking to Philippes, the latter declared there must be
something wrong, and went out to reconnoitre despite the storm. He could
see nothing. It was after midnight when Mrs. Doyle came rushing in,
gasping, all out of breath "along of the storm," she said. She had been
down the levee with Mike to find a cushion and lap-robe he dropped and
couldn't afford to lose. They never could have found it at all "but for
ould Lascelles lending them a lantern." He wanted Mike to bring down two
bottles of champagne he'd left here, but it was storming so that he
would not venture again, and Lieutenant Waring, she said, was going to
spend the night with Lascelles at Beau Rivage: Mike couldn't drive any
farther down towards the barracks. Lascelles sent word to Philippes that
he'd bring up the papers first thing in the morning, if the storm
lulled, and Philippes went out indignant at all the time lost, but Mike
swore he'd not drive down again for a fortune. So the Frenchman got into
the cab and went up with him to town. The moment he was gone Mrs. Doyle
declared she was dead tired, used up, and drank huge goblets of the wine
until she reeled off to her room, leaving an apron behind. Then Mrs.
Dawson went to her own room, after putting out the lights, and when, two
days later, she heard the awful news of the murder, knowing that
investigation would follow and she and her sins be brought to light, she
fled, for she had enough of his money in her possession, and poor
demented Dawson, finding her gone, followed.

Philippes's story corroborated this in every particular. The last he saw
of the cab or of the cabman was near the house of the hook-and-ladder
company east of the French Market. The driver there said his horse was
dead beat and could do no more, so Philippes went into the market,
succeeded in getting another cab by paying a big price, slept at
Cassidy's, waited all the morning about Lascelles's place, and finally,
having to return to the Northeast at once, he took the evening train on
the Jackson road and never heard of the murder until ten days after. He
was amazed at his arrest.

And then came before his examiners a mere physical wreck,--the shadow of
his former self,--caught at the high tide of a career of crime and
debauchery, a much less bulky party than the truculent Jehu of Madame
Lascelles's cab, yet no less important a witness than that same driver.
He was accompanied by a priest. He had been brought hither in an
ambulance from the Hôtel-Dieu, where he had been traced several days
before and found almost at death's door. His confession was most
important of all. He had struck Lieutenant Waring as that officer turned
away from Lascelles's gate, intending only to down and then kick and
hammer him, but he had struck with a lead-loaded rubber club, and he was
horrified to see him drop like one dead. Then he lost his nerve and
drove furiously back for Bridget. Together they returned, and found
Waring lying there as he had left him on the dripping banquette. "You've
killed him, Mike. There's only one thing to do," she said: "take his
watch and everything valuable he has, and we'll throw him over on the
levee." She herself took the knife from his overcoat-pocket, lest he
should recover suddenly, and then, said the driver, "even as we were
bending over him there came a sudden flash of lightning, and there was
Lascelles bending over us, demanding to know what it meant. Then like
another flash he seemed to realize what was up, sprang back, and drew
pistol. He had caught us in the act. There was nothing else to do; we
both sprang upon him. He fired, and hit me, but only in the arm, and
before he could pull trigger again we both grappled him. I seized his
gun, Bridget his throat, but he screamed and fought like a tiger, then
wilted all of a sudden. I was scared and helpless, but she had her wits
about her, and told me what to do. The lieutenant began to gasp and
revive just then, so she soaked the handkerchief in chloroform and
placed it over his mouth, and together we lifted him into the cab. Then
we raised Lascelles and carried him in and laid him on his sofa, for he
had left the door open and the lamp on the table. Bridget had been there
before, and knew all about the house. We set the pistol back in his
hand, but couldn't make the fingers grasp it. We ransacked the desk and
got what money there was, locked and bolted the doors, and climbed out
of the side window, under which she dropped the knife among the bushes.
'They'll never suspect us in the world, Mike,' she said. 'It's the
lieutenant's knife that did it, and, as he was going to fight him
anyhow, he'll get the credit of it all.' Then we drove up the levee, put
Waring in Anatole's boat, sculls and all, and shoved him off. 'I'll
muzzle Jim,' she said. 'I'll make him believe 'twas he that did it when
he was drunk.' She took most of the money, and the watch and ring. She
said she could hide them until they'd be needed. Then I drove Philippes
up to town until I began to get so sick and faint I could do no more. I
turned the cab loose and got away to a house where I knew they'd take
care of me, and from there, when my money was gone, they sent me to the
hospital, thinking I was dying. I swear to God I never meant to more
than get square with the lieutenant. I never struck Lascelles at all;
'twas she who drove the knife into his heart."

Then, exhausted, he was led into an adjoining room, and Mrs. Doyle was
marched in, the picture of injured Irish innocence. For ten minutes,
with wonderful effrontery and nerve, she denied all personal
participation in the crime, and faced her inquisitors with brazen calm.
Then the chief quietly turned and signalled. An officer led forward from
one side the wreck of a cabman, supported by the priest; a door opened
on the other, and, escorted by another policeman, Mrs. Dawson
re-entered, holding in her hands outstretched a gingham apron on which
were two deep stains the shape and size of a long, straight-bladed,
two-edged knife. It was the apron that Bridget Doyle had worn that fatal
night. One quick, furtive look at that, one glance at her trembling,
shrinking, cowering kinsman, and, with an Irish howl of despair, a loud
wail of "Mike, Mike, you've sworn your sister's life away!" she threw
herself upon the floor, tearing madly at her hair. And so ended the
mystery of Beau Rivage.

There was silence a moment in Cram's pretty parlor when the captain had
finished his story. Waring was the first to speak:

"There is one point I wish they'd clear up."

"What's that?" said Cram.

"Who's got Merton's watch?"

"Oh, by Jove! I quite forgot. It's all right, Waring. Anatole's place
was 'pulled' last night, and he had her valuables all done up in a box.
'To pay for his boat,' he said."

       *       *       *       *       *

A quarter of a century has passed away since the scarlet plumes of Light
Battery "X" were last seen dancing along the levee below New Orleans.
Beau Rivage, old and moss-grown at the close of the war, fell into rapid
decline after the tragedy of that April night. Heavily mortgaged, the
property passed into other hands, but for years never found a tenant.
Far and near the negroes spoke of the homestead as haunted, and none of
their race could be induced to set foot within its gates. One night the
sentry at the guard-house saw sudden light on the westward sky, and then
a column of flame. Again the fire-alarm resounded among the echoing
walls of the barracks; but when the soldiers reached the scene, a
seething ruin was all that was left of the old Southern home. Somebody
sent Cram a marked copy of a New Orleans paper, and in their cosey
quarters at Fort Hamilton the captain read it aloud to his devoted Nell:
"The old house has been vacant, an object of almost superstitious dread
to the neighborhood," said the _Times_, "ever since the tragic death of
Armand Lascelles in the spring of 1868. In police annals the affair was
remarkable because of the extraordinary chain of circumstantial evidence
which for a time seemed to fasten the murder upon an officer of the army
then stationed at Jackson Barracks, but whose innocence was triumphantly
established. Madame Lascelles, it is understood, is now educating her
daughter in Paris, whither she removed immediately after her marriage a
few months ago to Captain Philippe Lascelles, formerly of the
Confederate army, a younger brother of her first husband."

"Well," said Cram, "I'll have to send that to Waring. They're in Vienna
by this time, I suppose. Look here, Nell; how was it that when we
fellows were fretting about Waring's attentions to Madame, you should
have been so serenely superior to it all, even when, as I know, the
stories reached you?"

"Ah, Ned, I knew a story worth two of those. He was in love with Natalie
Maitland all the time."


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