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Title: The Lost Despatch
Author: Lincoln, Natalie Sumner, 1885-1935
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Lost Despatch" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



THE LOST DESPATCH



BY

NATALIE SUMNER LINCOLN

AUTHOR OF "THE TREVOR CASE"



ILLUSTRATED


NEW YORK AND LONDON
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
1913

Copyright, 1913, by
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

Printed in the United States of America



                                 TO
                   A GALLANT SOLDIER OF THE UNION
                          BRIGADIER-GENERAL
                          SUMNER H. LINCOLN
                               U.S. ARMY
                WHO FOUGHT IN TWO WARS UNDER THE FLAG
                 THIS NOVEL OF 1865 IS AFFECTIONATELY
                              DEDICATED



    "Love rules the court, the camp, the grove
        And men below, and saints above."

                        SIR WALTER SCOTT.



CONTENTS


Chapter                                                  Page

    I. THE PIGEON'S FLIGHT                                  1

   II. BRAINS VS. BRAWN                                     8

  III. A KNOT OF RIBBON BLUE                               19

   IV. BANQUO'S GHOST                                      30

    V. A SCRAP OF PAPER                                    46

   VI. THE SIGNAL LIGHT                                    51

  VII. THE MISCHANCES OF A NIGHT                           57

 VIII. A VOICE FROM THE PAST                               64

   IX. OUTWITTED                                           75

    X. THE FORTUNES OF WAR                                 87

   XI. WHO LAUGHS LAST                                     95

  XII. THE FIGHT AT THE FORD                              112

 XIII. FOR THE CAUSE                                      120

  XIV. WHEN TRAGEDY GRINS                                 134

   XV. NEMESIS                                            144

  XVI. A TANGLED SKEIN                                    161

 XVII. IN CLOSE CONFINEMENT                               168

XVIII. WHEN DOCTORS DISAGREE                              176

  XIX. GROPING IN THE DARK                                186

   XX. THE TURNING POINT                                  197

  XXI. THE TRIAL                                          210

 XXII. WEAVING THE WEB                                    229

XXIII. SENSATIONAL EVIDENCE                               245

 XXIV. A STARTLING DISCOVERY                              257

  XXV. A THUNDERBOLT                                      268

 XXVI. BY A HAIR'S BREADTH                                282

XXVII. WITH MALICE TOWARD NONE                            300



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                  Facing Page

"As Lloyd bent forward ... he received a
  crashing blow on the temple"                _Frontispiece_

"'You? Nancy!' The doctor gazed incredulously"             68

"'I--I--am afraid he is dead'"                            116

"Another interruption stopped her ... A hesitating
  step crossed the threshold"                             278



THE LOST DESPATCH



CHAPTER I

THE PIGEON'S FLIGHT


It was bitterly cold that December night, 1864, and the wind sighed
dismally through the Maryland woods. The moon, temporarily obscured by
heavy clouds, gave some light now and then, which but served to make
the succeeding darkness more intense. Suddenly the silence was broken
by the clatter of galloping hoofs, and two riders, leaving the highway,
rode into the woods on their left. The shorter of the two men muttered
an oath as his horse stumbled over the uneven ground.

"Take care, Symonds," said his companion quickly, and he ducked his
head to avoid the bare branches of a huge tree. "How near are we now to
Poolesville?"

"About seven miles by the road," was the gruff reply; "but this short
cut will soon bring us there. And none too soon," he added, glancing at
their weary horses. "Still, Captain Lloyd, we have done a good night's
work."

"I think Colonel Baker will be satisfied," agreed Lloyd.

"And friend Schmidt, now that he sees the game is up, will probably
turn state's evidence."

Lloyd shook his head. "I doubt if Schmidt can tell us much. He is too
leaky a vessel for a clever spy to trust with valuable information."

"But," objected Symonds, "that is a very important paper you found in
his possession to-night."

"True; but that paper does not furnish us with any clue as to the
identity of the spy in Washington. Schmidt is simply a go-between like
many other sutlers. Probably that paper passed through three or four
hands before it was given to him to carry between the lines."

"Well, there is one thing certain; Baker will make Schmidt talk if any
man can," declared Symonds. "May I ask, Captain, why we are headed for
Poolesville?"

"Because I am looking for the man higher up. I expect to get some trace
of the spy's identity in or around Poolesville."

"You may," acknowledged the Secret Service agent doubtfully; "and again
you may not. Poolesville used to be called the 'rebs' post-office,' and
they do say that word of every contemplated movement of McClellan's
army was sent through that village to Leesburg by the 'grape-vine
telegraph.'"

"Yes, I know," was the brief reply. The two men spoke in lowered tones
as they made what speed they could among the trees. "By the way,
Symonds, has it ever been discovered who it was delayed the despatch
from Burnside, asking for the pontoon bridges?"

"No, never a trace, worse luck; but do you know," drawing his horse
closer to his companion, "I think that and the Allen disaster were
accomplished by one and the same person."

"Those two and a good many others we haven't yet heard of," agreed
Lloyd. "In fact, it was to trace this particular unknown that I was
recalled from service at the front by Pinkerton, and detailed to join
the branch of the Secret Service under Colonel Baker."

"We have either arrested or frightened away most of the informers
inside the city," volunteered Symonds, after a brief silence. "Besides
which, Washington is too well guarded nowadays--two years ago was a
different matter. Now, the general commanding the Maryland border
patrols declares that a pigeon cannot fly across the Potomac without
getting shot."

Lloyd's answer was lost as Symonds' horse stumbled again, recovered
himself, and after a few halting steps went dead lame. In a second
Symonds had dismounted, and, drawing off his glove, felt the animal's
leg.

"Strained a tendon," he growled, blowing on his numb fingers to warm
them. "I'll have to lead him to the road; it is over there," pointing
to a slight dip in the ground. "You go ahead, sir; it's lucky I know
the country."

As the two men reached the edge of the wood and stood debating a
moment, they were disturbed by the distant sound of hoof beats.

"Get over on that side of the road," whispered Lloyd, "and keep out of
sight behind that tree; leave your horse here."

Symonds did as he was told none too soon. Around the bend of the road
came a horseman. Quickly Lloyd's challenge rang out:

"Halt, or I fire!"

As he spoke, Lloyd swung his horse across the narrow road.

Swerving instinctively to the right, the newcomer was confronted by
Symonds, who had stepped from behind the tree, revolver in hand. An
easy target for both sides, the rider had no choice in the matter.
Checking his frightened horse, he called:

"Are you Yanks or rebels?"

Symonds lowered his revolver. He knew that a Confederate picket would
not be apt to use the word "rebels."

"We are Yanks," he answered, "and you?"

"A friend."

"Advance, friend," ordered Lloyd, "but put your right hand up. Now," as
the rider approached him, "where did you come from, and where are you
going?"

"From Harper's Ferry, bearing despatches to Adjutant-General Thomas in
Washington from General John Stevenson, commanding this district."

"How did you come to take this cut?" demanded Symonds.

"I rode down the tow path until I reached Edward's Ferry, then cut
across here, hoping to strike the turnpike. It's freezing on the
tow-path." As he spoke the trooper pulled the collar of his heavy blue
overcoat up about his ears until it nearly met his cavalry hat.

The clouds were drifting away from before the moon, and a ray of light
illuminated the scene. Lloyd inspected the trooper suspiciously; his
story sounded all right, but ...

"Your regiment?" he asked.

"The First Maryland Potomac Home Brigade, Colonel Henry A. Cole. I am
attached to headquarters as special messenger."

"Let me see your despatch."

"Hold on," retorted the trooper. "First, tell me who you are."

"That's cool," broke in Symonds. "I guess you will show it to us
whether you want to or not. Seems to me, young man," glancing closely
at the latter's mount, "your horse is mighty fresh, considering you
have ridden such a distance."

"We in the cavalry know how to keep our horses in good condition, as
well as ride them." The trooper pointed derisively at Symonds' sorry
nag standing with drooping head by the roadside.

"None of your lip," growled Symonds angrily; his poor riding was a sore
subject. Further discussion was cut short by Lloyd's peremptory order:

"Come; I am waiting; give me the despatch," and, as the trooper still
hesitated, "we are agents of the United States Secret Service."

"In that case, sir." The trooper's right hand went to the salute; then
he unbuttoned his coat, and fumbled in his belt. "Here it is, sir."

As Lloyd bent forward to take the expected paper, he received instead a
crashing blow on the temple from the butt end of a revolver, which sent
him reeling from the saddle. At the same time, Symonds, who had hold of
the trooper's bridle, was lifted off his feet by the sudden rearing of
the horse, and before he had collected his wits, he was dashed
violently to one side and thrown on the icy ground.

Symonds staggered to his feet, but at that instant the trooper, who was
some distance away, swerved suddenly toward the woods, and his broad
cavalry hat was jerked from his head by a low-hanging branch. His horse
then bolted into the middle of the road, and for a second the trooper's
figure was silhouetted against the sky in the brilliant moonlight. A
mass of heavy hair had fallen down the rider's back.

"By God! It's a woman!" gasped Symonds, as he clutched his revolver.

A shot rang out, followed by a stifled cry; then silence, save for the
galloping hoof beats growing fainter and fainter down the road in the
direction of Washington.



CHAPTER II

BRAINS VS. BRAWN


Up Thirteenth Street came the measured tread of marching feet, and two
companies of infantry turned the corner into New York Avenue. The
soldiers marched with guns reversed and colors furled. A few passers-by
stopped to watch the sad procession. Suddenly they were startled by
peal on peal of merry laughter, which came from a bevy of girls
standing in front of Stuntz's notion store. Instantly two officers left
their places by the curb and walked over to the little group.

"Your pardon, ladies," said Lloyd sternly. "Why do you laugh at a
soldier's funeral?"

The young girl nearest him wheeled around, and inspected Lloyd from
head to foot.

"What's that to you, Mr. Yank?" she demanded impudently.

"Nothing to me, madam; but for you, perhaps, Old Capitol Prison."

"Nonsense, Lloyd," exclaimed his companion, Major Goddard. "I am sure
the young ladies meant no intentional offense."

Lloyd's lips closed in a thin line, but before he could reply a girl
standing in the background stepped forward and addressed him.

"We meant no disrespect to the dead," she said, and her clear,
bell-like voice instantly caught both men's attention. "In fact, we did
not notice the funeral; they are, alas, of too frequent occurrence
these days to attract much attention."

"Ah, indeed." Lloyd's tone betrayed his disbelief. "And may I ask what
you were laughing at?"

"Certainly; at Misery."

"Misery?" Lloyd's color rose. He hated to be made ridiculous, and a
titter from the listening girls roused his temper. "Is that another
name for a funeral?"

"No, sir," demurely; "it is the name of my dog."

"Your dog?"

"Yes, my pet dog. You know, 'Misery loves company.'" The soft, hazel
eyes lighted with a mocking smile as she looked full at the two
perplexed men. "I'm 'company,'" she added softly.

In silence Lloyd studied the girl's face with growing interest, A
vague, elusive likeness haunted him. Where had he heard that voice
before? At that instant the glint of her red-gold hair in the winter
sunshine caught his eye. His unspoken question was answered.

"Who's being arrested now?" asked a quiet voice behind Lloyd, and a
man, leaning heavily on his cane, pushed his way through the crowd that
had collected about the girls. The slight, limping figure was well
known in every section of Washington, and Lloyd stepped back
respectfully to make room for Doctor John Boyd. It was the first time
he had seen the famous surgeon at such close quarters, and he examined
the grotesque old face with interest.

Doctor Boyd had lost none of the briskness of youth, despite his
lameness, nor his fingers their skill, but his face was a mass of
wrinkles. His keen, black eyes, bristling gray beard, predatory nose,
and saturnine wit, together with his brusque manner, made strangers
fear him. But their aversion was apt to change to idolatry when he
became their physician.

"What, Nancy Newton, you here?" continued the surgeon, addressing the
last speaker, "and Belle Cary? Have you two girls been sassing our
military friends?" indicating the two officers with a wave of his hand.

"Indeed, no, Doctor John," protested Nancy; "such an idea never entered
our heads. But these gentlemen don't seem to believe me."

Major Goddard stepped forward, and raised his cap.

"The young lady is mistaken, doctor," he said gravely. "We do believe
her, notwithstanding," glancing quizzically at Nancy, "that we have not
yet seen her dog."

"Misery!" exclaimed the surgeon, laughing. "So my four-footed friend
has gotten you into hot water again, Nancy? I might have known it.
Here's the rascal now."

Around the corner of Twelfth Street, with an air of conscious virtue,
trotted the cause of all the trouble--a handsome, red-brown field
spaniel. Robert Goddard, a lover of dogs, snapped his fingers and
whistled, but Misery paid not the slightest attention to his
blandishments. Wagging his tail frantically, he tore up to Nancy, and
frisked about her.

"Misery, give me that bone." Nancy stooped over, and endeavored to take
it from the struggling dog. "I cannot stop his eating in the streets.
Oh, he's swallowed it!" Misery choked violently, and looked with
reproachful eyes at his mistress. "You sinner," patting the soft brown
body, "come along--that is," addressing Lloyd, "if you do not wish to
detain us any longer."

"You are at liberty to go." Lloyd bowed stiffly.

"Hold on, Nancy; if you have no particular engagement, come with me to
my office. I have a bottle of medicine to send your aunt," exclaimed
Doctor Boyd hastily. "Good evening, gentlemen." And he bowed curtly to
Lloyd and his friend.

On reaching F Street, the group of girls separated, and Nancy
accompanied Doctor Boyd to his office.

"Go into the waiting room, Nancy," directed the surgeon. "It won't take
me a moment to write the directions on the label of the bottle."

Obediently Nancy entered the room, followed by Misery, and as the
surgeon disappeared into his consulting office, she glanced keenly
about her. The room was empty. Quickly she bent over her dog, and took
off his round leather collar. Another searching glance about the room;
then from a hollow cavity in the round collar, the opening of which was
cleverly concealed by the buckle, she drew a tiny roll of tissue paper.
Opening it, she read:

    Find out Sheridan's future movements. Imperative.

Nancy dropped on her knees before the open grate, tossed the paper into
the glowing embers, and watched it burn to the last scrap. A cold, wet
nose against her hand roused her.

"Misery, you darling." She stooped, and buried her face in the wriggling
body. "My little retriever!" Misery licked her face ecstatically. "If I
only knew which way Sam went after giving you that message for me, much
valuable time could be saved. As it is----" Doctor Boyd's entrance cut
short her whispered words.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Lloyd and his friend, Major Goddard, watched Nancy and her companions
out of sight; then continued on their way to Wormley's Hotel, each busy
with his own thoughts. The grill room of that famous hostelry was half
empty when they reached there, and they had no difficulty in securing a
table in a secluded corner. While Lloyd was giving his order to the
waiter, Colonel Baker stopped at their table.

"Heard the news?" he asked eagerly; then not waiting for an answer:
"They say at the department General Joe Johnston has been captured."

His words were overheard by Wormley, the colored proprietor, who was
speaking to the head waiter.

"'Scuse me, Colonel Baker," he said deferentially. "You all ain't
captured General Johnston. No, sah. I knows Marse Joe too well to
b'lieve that."

Wormley was a privileged character, and his remark was received with
good-natured laughter. Under cover of the noise, Baker whispered to
Lloyd: "_Stanton has discovered his cipher code book has been tampered
with._ Meet me at my office at five o'clock."

"All right, Colonel," and Baker departed.

By the time they had reached dessert, the grill room was deserted.
Goddard lighted a cigar, and, lounging back in his chair, contemplated
his host with keen interest.

"I can't understand it, Lloyd," he said finally.

"Understand what?" replied Lloyd, roused from his abstraction.

"Why you became a professional detective. With your social position,
talents..."

"That's just it!"

"What?"

"My talents. If it had not been for them, I would have gone to West
Point with you, Bob. But, above all else in the world I enjoy pitting
my wits against another's--enjoy unravelling mysteries that baffle
others. To me there is no excitement equal to a man hunt. I suppose in
a way it is an inheritance; my father was a great criminal lawyer, and
his father before him. When Pinkerton organized the Secret Service
division of the army in '61, I went with him, thinking I could follow
my chosen profession and serve my country at the same time. Besides,"
with a trace of bitterness in his voice, "I owe society nothing; nor do
I desire to associate with society people."

Goddard gazed sorrowfully at his friend. "Hasn't the old wound healed,
Lloyd?" he asked softly.

"No; nor ever will," was the brief response, and Lloyd's face grew
stern with the pain of other years. "As I told you, Bob, I was detailed
here to solve a very serious problem for our government," he resumed,
after a slight pause. "Baker has rounded up and arrested all persons
suspected of corresponding with the rebels, and sent some to Old
Capitol Prison, and others through the lines to Richmond, where they
can do us no harm. Most of these spies gave themselves away by their
secesh talk, or by boasting of their ability to run the blockade.

"But information of our armies' intended movements is still being
carried out of Washington right under Baker's nose. It is imperative
that this leak be stopped at once, or the Union forces may suffer
another Bull Run. Baker and the provost marshal of the district have
tried every means in their power to learn the methods and the identity
of this spy, but so far without success."

"But have you found no trace in your search?" inquired Goddard eagerly.

"Until to-day I had only a theory; now I have a clue, a faint one,
but----" Lloyd paused and glanced about the room to see that he was not
overheard. They had the place to themselves, save for their waiter,
Sam, who was busy resetting a table in the opposite corner. "I have
told you, Bob, how I came to get this wound"--Lloyd touched his
temple--"when on my way to Poolesville." Goddard nodded assent. "But I
did not tell you that before the supposed trooper made good his escape
his hat was knocked off and Symonds saw that the spy was a woman."

"A woman!" Goddard nearly dropped his cigar in his astonishment. "How
did he find that out?"

"Her hair fell down her back when her hat was knocked off."

Goddard stared at his companion. "Well, I'll be--blessed!" he muttered.

"I have been looking for such a woman for some time, and until to-day
without success," declared Lloyd calmly.

"Did she by chance leave any trace, any clues, behind her in her
flight?"

"One." Lloyd pulled out his leather wallet. "On examining the hat,
which he picked up on his return to where I was lying unconscious,
Symonds found these hairs adhering to the lining. He put them in an
envelope and brought them to me at the hospital." Lloyd drew out a
small paper, which he opened with care. "Have you ever seen hair of
that color before?"

Goddard took the opened paper, and glanced at its contents. A few
red-gold hairs confronted him. Instantly his thoughts flew to the scene
of that morning. In his mind's eye he saw the laughing face, the lovely
curly Titian hair, and heard the mocking, alluring voice say: "I'm
company." He slowly raised his head in time to see the steady gaze of
their negro waiter fixed full upon the paper in his hand.



CHAPTER III

A KNOT OF RIBBON BLUE


"I am so glad to see you, Major Goddard," said his hostess, stepping
into the hall to greet the young officer, as the black butler admitted
him. "It is a shame you could not get here in time to take supper with
us."

"You are not half as disappointed as I, Mrs. Warren," replied Goddard,
shaking hands warmly. "I was unavoidably detained at the War
Department. Do please accept my sincere apologies for my unintentional
rudeness."

"Why, of course; I was sure you could not help the delay. But I must
not keep you standing in the hall." And she reëntered the parlor,
closely followed by Goddard, who glanced about the room with well-bred
curiosity.

It was the first time he had been entertained while in Washington.
Senator Warren, to whom he had brought letters from mutual friends in
the North, had insisted upon his waiving the formality of a first call.
The invitation to supper had been seconded by a cordial note from Mrs.
Warren, whom he had met two nights before at the Capitol, and he had
accepted the invitation, not counting on the exigencies of the War
Department.

The large rooms were comfortably filled with men and women, who sat or
stood talking together in little groups. In the further corner a girl
was seated at the grand piano; as she raised her head, Goddard
recognized Nancy Newton. Mrs. Warren was on the point of introducing
him to several of her guests when Nancy struck a few opening chords.
Instantly the low hum of conversation ceased, and her clear
mezzo-soprano voice filled the room:

    He stole from its nest in my golden hair,
      A knot of ribbon blue;
    He placed on my hand a jewel rare,
    And whispered soft, as he held it there,
              "Tender and true,
              Adieu, adieu!"

Drawn by the charm of her voice, Goddard edged nearer and nearer the
piano until he leaned against its side facing the singer. He scanned
intently the downcast face, the soft, rippling hair, the broad brow,
and sensitive red lips. Attracted by the steadiness of his gaze, she
raised her eyes to his. For one brief second soul gazed into soul; then
the hazel eyes fell before the gray ones, and a rich wave of color
mantled Nancy's cheeks as her voice rose in birdlike notes:

    They brought my soldier home to me,
      And my knot of ribbon blue;
    But the cruel wound on his brow was hid
    By the flag draped over the coffin lid!
                Tender and true,
                Adieu, adieu!

Silence followed the last note as it died away, for the song struck
home. Northern and Southern sympathizers alike swallowed a suspicious
lump as they thought of their loved ones far away on a field of strife,
and the applause was late in coming.

"Upon my soul, Nancy, that is a doleful song." Doctor Boyd strode over
to the piano. "Give us something cheerful. Play 'Dixie.'"

"Indeed, you will do nothing of the sort," declared Mrs. Warren, as
Nancy's fingers strayed over the keys. "Do you suppose I want the
provost marshal's men camping on my doorstep? Play 'Yankee Doodle' if
you wish; but first, Nancy, I want you to meet Major Goddard--Miss
Newton. Doctor Boyd, this is our friend Major Goddard, who is here on
leave."

Nancy simply bowed in acknowledgment of the introduction, but Doctor
Boyd held out his hand in hearty greeting.

"Glad to meet you, Major." Seeing Goddard's face more clearly as a
guest moved from before one of the lamps, he added: "Why, you are the
officer who wished to arrest us this morning, eh, Nancy?"

"Oh, no, sir," protested Goddard hastily. "Captain Lloyd and I simply
wanted to--to----"

"Don't apologize," retorted the doctor. "Stanton would like nothing
better than to send me to Old Capitol Prison; but they can't spare my
services, so I am left free to practice my profession."

"What are you growling about now?" asked Senator Warren, reaching
around the doctor to shake hands with Goddard. "Has my wife left you to
the tender mercies of Doctor John, Major? Come on, and I will introduce
you to Mrs. Bennett."

"From bad to worse," chuckled the doctor. "She will be claiming your
scalp, Major. Come to me when you want a hair restorer."

Mrs. Bennett, a very pretty woman with mincing manners, received
Goddard graciously, and made room for him on the sofa by her.

"Your name is already familiar to us," she said, "for your gallant
conduct at Cedar Creek was mentioned in all despatches. Mrs. Arnold,"
touching a stout woman who sat next her on the shoulder to attract her
attention, "may I present Major Robert Goddard?"

"How do you do." Mrs. Arnold held out a fat, jeweled hand in welcome.
Her good-natured face was creased in smiles. "My nephew, John Gurley,
has spoken of you so often that I feel as if we were old friends."

"That is very kind of you, Mrs. Arnold," said Goddard gratefully. "John
gave me a letter of introduction, but I have been so busy since my
arrival here I have had no chance to call on you."

"How is John?"

"Very well, and very busy since he has been given his troop."

"Is that the handsome boy who was with you on sick leave last November,
Mrs. Arnold?" asked Mrs. Bennett, raising her eyes languidly to look
more closely at Goddard. "My husband was quite jealous of his
attentions. So absurd, you know. Ah!" She purred as Doctor Boyd drew up
a chair and sat down by her. "My old antagonist! How are you this
evening?"

"Still unreconstructed," retorted the doctor. He turned and surveyed
the room, brilliant with the glitter of uniforms and handsome toilets,
and his penetrating old eyes grew moist as he read the sorrow and
anxiety which both men and women hid beneath feverish excitement and
forced gayety.

Until the breaking out of the war, Washington was almost entirely a
Southern city. After the firing on Sumter, it became a house divided,
and brother fought brother, while Washington women stifled their moans
of anguish, and faced the world with a bravery which equaled that shown
on the battlefield.

"How lovely Nancy Newton looks to-night," went on the doctor, suddenly
realizing that Mrs. Bennett was waiting for him to speak.

"I cannot agree with you." Mrs. Bennett's sleepy eyes opened, and the
soft purr left her voice. "Those pink roses in her red hair are quite
too daring for good taste."

"Daring," echoed Mrs. Arnold, but half catching Mrs. Bennett's remark.
"Daring, did you say? Nancy is downright bold. The idea of that young
girl going to parties given by the officers in the camps about here.
Such conduct would not have been tolerated in my day." And she squared
her ponderous shoulders.

"There were no camps in your day, Mrs. Arnold," retorted the doctor
dryly. "Nancy was chaperoned there by Mrs. Warren. Do you question our
hostess' conduct?"

Alarmed at the very suggestion of such a thing, Mrs. Arnold instantly
backed water.

"I--I--was not informed Mrs. Warren went with her. But, Doctor, take a
kindly word from me, and warn Nancy that she must be more circumspect
in her conduct. She is already being talked about."

"By a lot of scandal mongers, whose word I would not take on oath,"
exclaimed the doctor hotly.

"One moment, Doctor John," cooed Mrs. Bennett. "It has been whispered
that Nancy is suspected of aiding and abetting the enemy, although,"
spitefully, "she does sing our songs so well."

"And what of that? Half Washington suspects the other half of sending
contraband goods through the lines. I don't doubt some of our
unimpeachable friends carry quinine concealed in their bustles."

"Well, really, Doctor!" Mrs. Arnold's face rivaled her cherry gown in
color. "Such things were not mentioned in my day," she ended feebly.

"Civil war brings strange usages," the doctor smiled grimly, "and
to-day's conduct cannot be judged by the standards of the past. I am
sorry to shock your sensibilities, but you ladies must not believe all
you hear."

"What scandal are you discussing so vigorously?" called Nancy from a
near-by window seat.

Mrs. Bennett jumped perceptibly as Nancy's soft voice reached her.
"Dear child, how you startle one! Have you been there long?" Her voice
rose to a sharper key.

"Miss Nancy and I have just returned from the back parlor," volunteered
her escort, a tall officer, wearing the red stripes of the artillery on
his well-worn uniform. As he walked toward Mrs. Bennett, she detained
him for a moment.

Goddard, who had been an interested listener to the doctor's defense of
Nancy, rose from his seat on the sofa, and, seizing his opportunity,
stepped over to the alcove and joined the young girl.

"How is my friend, Misery?" he asked.

"Very miserable, indeed, when I left him this afternoon. He does not
enjoy being away from me."

"I dare swear he is not alone in that," laughed Goddard. "Won't you
sing again, Miss Newton?"

"Not to-night. Are you, by chance, the Major Goddard whom my friend,
John Gurley, is always talking and writing about?"

"Yes; John is in my regiment. We are chums, you know."

"I saw a great deal of Captain Gurley when he was with his aunt, Mrs.
Arnold, in November. We had great fun together." Nancy laughed at a
passing recollection. "In his last letter he urged me to come to
Winchester and make a long-promised visit at my cousins, the Pages."

"Why don't you?" asked Goddard eagerly. "We can give you a very good
time there. The officers' mess has organized a weekly hop, although
girls are scarce, and I am sure we can arrange some other amusements
for you."

"I hesitate to make any definite plans," replied Nancy thoughtfully,
"for General Sheridan is likely to skedaddle out of the Valley at any
moment, and I would not enjoy being captured by Early."

"We are billed to stay there some time longer," replied Goddard
confidently. "The roads are in no condition to move cavalry and
artillery. There really is no prospect of our leaving winter quarters
until later on."

"In that case I will ask Aunt Metoaca's permission to go."

"I expect to return day after to-morrow, Miss Newton; it would give me
great pleasure to escort you to Winchester if you can arrange to go as
soon as that."

"I will talk it over with Aunt Metoaca," was Nancy's non-committal
reply, and Goddard's face fell.

"May I call and see your aunt?" he pleaded eagerly. "I am sure I can
convince her that it is safe for you to make the trip."

"Under your escort," laughed Nancy. In the soft lamplight Goddard
caught the witchery of her eyes, and his heart gave a most unaccustomed
thump against his ribs. "Take care, sir; you don't know what a grave
responsibility you may be assuming."

"I am willing to assume all risks," he answered, a trifle unsteadily.
"When can I know that you will go to Winchester?"

Nancy hesitated, and her fingers strayed to a knot of blue ribbon
pinned to her gown. Abstractedly she unfastened it, and Goddard's hand
closed over the ribbon as she murmured: "Come and see my aunt
to-morrow. Our address is 306 C Street."

"I am sorry to interrupt"--Goddard wheeled around as Senator Warren
joined them--"but a friend has called for you, Major; he says that you
are needed at the War Department."

Goddard slipped the knot of ribbon inside his coat as his eyes traveled
past the senator's spare figure to a man standing directly under the
hall light. It was Lloyd.

Bidding his host and Mrs. Warren a hasty good-bye, Goddard joined his
friend, and they departed at once; so absorbed in conversation neither
noticed the sudden hubbub that arose in the room they had just left.

"Quick, Doctor; she has fainted!" gasped Mrs. Warren, and Boyd stepped
forward to offer first aid to the silent figure on the floor.



CHAPTER IV

BANQUO'S GHOST


Robert Goddard felt at peace with himself and the world as he strolled
down Pennsylvania Avenue on his way to the Capitol the next morning. He
had spent most of the night explaining to Secretary Stanton the lay of
the land in and about Winchester. Having been on many scouting parties
under General Torbet, he was well acquainted with the Shenandoah
Valley, that "Garden of Virginia," as it was called.

The Avenue was alive with people, and the army uniform predominated,
although numerous congressmen hurried by, intent on dodging the mud
holes which dotted the streets, so that they might reach the Capitol
with fairly clean boots and trousers.

Goddard stopped before the Kirkwood House to watch with much amusement
the efforts of several negroes to drag a one-horse hack out of the mud
into which it had sunk up to its hubs. Suddenly the occupant of the
carriage opened the door and beckoned to him. Recognizing Mrs. Bennett,
Goddard, with a rueful glance at his immaculate boots, floundered
through the mud to the side of the carriage.

"Good morning, Major." Mrs. Bennett held forth a slender hand in
greeting. "This is a nice predicament; and I have an important
engagement at eleven o'clock."

"It is too bad," sympathized Goddard. "Still, the condition of the
Avenue is due to a patriotic cause; the passing back and forth of heavy
artillery and cavalry all these years has made it like a ploughed
field."

"Mud is not confined to this Avenue," sighed Mrs. Bennett. "Last Sunday
my carriage stuck in the middle of H Street right in front of St.
John's Church, and my husband had to carry me to the sidewalk."

"May I do the same now?" inquired Goddard quickly.

Mrs. Bennett hesitated; Goddard's fine physique looked quite equal to
the strain of carrying her slight form, but she was not at all certain
her husband would approve.

"You are very kind, Major, but----" she began dubiously. "Oh, here is
Colonel Bennett." A tall soldierly man of middle age strode up to the
carriage. "My dear, you have arrived just in time to rescue poor me.
Major Goddard, my husband. The major has just volunteered to carry me
through the mud, Charles."

"Much obliged to you, sir," exclaimed Bennett heartily. "I was passing,
and recognized my coachman, so concluded my wife was stuck again. Now,
Cora, stand on the step, and I will carry you over to the hotel." And
in a few seconds, with Goddard's assistance, Mrs. Bennett was safely
deposited on the sidewalk.

"It was a shame, Major, that you had to leave Mrs. Warren's so early in
the evening." Mrs. Bennett straightened her clothes as best she could,
while she waited for her husband to return from giving directions to
the driver of the stalled carriage. "I hope it was no bad news that
took you away?"

"Oh, no; Captain Lloyd came to tell me that I was wanted at the
department. I am afraid I must be running along, Mrs. Bennett. Will you
excuse me?"

"Why, certainly, Major. Many thanks for offering to assist me. I hope
you will come and see me before you leave."

Thanking her for the invitation, Goddard bade Mrs. Bennett and her
husband a hasty good-bye, and resumed his interrupted stroll down the
Avenue. At the corner of John Marshall Place, he saw two ladies waiting
by the curb. As the younger turned toward him, he recognized Nancy, and
saw the inevitable Misery sitting close at her side. Quickening his
steps, he hastened across the street and joined her.

"This is better luck than I hoped for," he said, his eyes lightening
with pleasure. "I planned to call at your house on my return from the
Capitol, but now...."

"Aunt Metoaca," Nancy smiled demurely as she extricated her hand from
Goddard's eager clasp, "may I present Major Goddard? The major has most
kindly offered to escort me to Winchester, as I told you last night."

Miss Metoaca Newton inspected Goddard keenly as she returned his low
bow. First impressions counted with her. Goddard was also taking stock
of Miss Metoaca. He decided in his own mind he had never seen a more
angular frame, nor so large a nose as her physiognomy presented.

"I hope you have given your consent to Miss Newton's trip?" he asked
eagerly.

"Yes and no." Miss Metoaca's voice surprised him by its thin treble.
It did not seem possible that so little sound could come out of so big
a cavity. "I don't hold with so much gadding about. 'Twasn't so when I
was a girl, fifty-odd years ago. The way women run hither and yon after
Tom, Dick, and Harry is surprising. I declare I am the only virgin in
Washington these days." She stopped to search in her reticule for her
handkerchief. "So I have just decided, as long as Nancy has set her
heart on it, to go with her to Winchester. Besides which, I am anxious
to see Lindsay Page."

"That is splendid!" Goddard's face lighted with pleasure, then fell.
"How about your passes? Shall I ask Secretary Stanton for them?"

"Young man, when I want a thing, I go to headquarters for it; so I am
on my way to see President Lincoln now. I reckon he will give them to
me. Many thanks, all the same," she wound up, conscious she had been
abrupt in her refusal.

"May I walk up to the White House with you, then?"

"I will be glad of your company, but Nancy is not going with me." Her
eyes twinkled as she saw Goddard's disappointment. "Secondly, I am not
walking this morning. Nancy is just waiting to put me on that new
Yankee contraption, the horse car."

"Here comes one now." Nancy pointed to that slow-moving vehicle as it
toiled leisurely up the avenue.

"Of all the miserable inventions," groaned Miss Metoaca, glancing with
indignation at the ankle-deep mud that lay between her and the car
track. "Why don't they fix it so it can come over here and take in its
passengers? What does anyone want with a stationary track way off
yonder? Nancy, keep that dratted dog from under my skirts,"
indignantly, as her hoop tilted at a dangerous angle. "Don't you let
him follow me; I won't have mud splashed over my new dress." Nancy
clutched Misery's collar obediently. "Well, here goes."

Gathering her ample skirts about her, and with Goddard in close
attendance rendering what assistance he could, the spinster plunged
through the mud until she reached the car step, by the side of which
hung two pictures of a woman, illustrating the proper and improper way
to get on and off a car. Miss Metoaca paused to take breath and
readjust her Fanchon bonnet. As she was about to enter the car, she
noticed a grinning black boy standing with one foot on the step.

"Where's that nigger going?" she demanded of the conductor.

"On top, ma'am," he answered respectfully.

Her question was overheard by a man in clerical dress who sat next the
door, and, as she took the seat opposite, he leaned across and
addressed her.

"You evidently forget, madam," he said severely, "that the blacks are
the Lord's people as well as we, and are entitled to go where we go,
being good and free Americans."

"If the good Lord intended those worthless niggers to be my equals,
He'd have bleached them out," retorted Miss Metoaca, the light of
combat in her eyes. Goddard waited to hear no more, but bolted out of
the door and across the Avenue to where Nancy stood waiting, and they
walked slowly in the direction of Capitol Hill.

"I am a stranger within your gates," quoted Goddard softly. "Take pity
on me, and tell me something about the people I met last night at Mrs.
Warren's."

"Let me see, whom did you meet? Oh, yes, Doctor John. He is the most
cantankerous and the dearest man I ever met. His patients positively
worship him, and yet he has many enemies who would gladly see him
humiliated."

"All strong characters are bound to make enemies, and I dare say Doctor
Boyd has a caustic tongue," laughed Goddard, helping Nancy around an
extra deep mud hole. "Is Captain Gurley's aunt good fun?"

"Mrs. Arnold?" Nancy dimpled with a merry smile. "She is our 'Mrs.
Malaprop.' Her husband secured a big contract to furnish clothing to
the government at the breaking out of the war. Now he is very wealthy.
Mrs. Arnold does not approve of me."

Goddard colored hotly as he recalled the conversation of the night
before. "Why not?" he demanded.

"Because she does not like my friendship with her nephew. When they
first came to Washington, the Arnolds lived at the National Hotel, but
last year Mr. Arnold bought a vacant lot on our street, and has built a
large double house with a ballroom, if you please. I believe Mrs.
Arnold is to give her house-warming some time soon. It was she who made
the original remark about having a 'spinal staircase in the back,' and
Doctor Boyd told her it was quite the proper place for it."

"Is Mrs. Bennett a friend of yours?"

"Mrs. Bennett?" echoed Nancy. "She is Mrs. Arnold's shadow. Aunt
Metoaca sees more of her than I do. I somehow don't believe Mrs.
Bennett cares for me. She is quite literary in her tastes, and I hear
is writing a book about Washington. It ought to prove interesting
reading," Nancy's dimples appeared again, "as she imagines every man
she meets is in love with her. Her husband, Colonel Bennett, is
stationed in the quartermaster general's office, and is just as nice as
he can be, and perfectly wrapped up in his pretty wife. They were
married about two years ago. Little is known here of Mrs. Bennett's
antecedents."

"Which way are you going, Miss Newton?" asked Goddard, as they crossed
the street and walked through the Capitol grounds. He looked with
admiration at the stately lines of the building which sheltered the
law-makers, and bared his head to the Stars and Stripes floating lazily
to and fro from the flag poles on each wing of the Capitol. "I can't
help it," with a quick, boyish laugh. "I have seen too many die in
defense of the flag not to salute it on all occasions."

Nancy nodded comprehendingly. "It is everything to have an ideal," she
said softly. "I am going down A Street to see one of Doctor John's
charity patients."

Absorbed in watching his companion, Goddard did not notice the
direction they were walking until Nancy called his attention to an
unpretentious, rambling building standing on the corner of First and A
streets. "Old Capitol Prison," she said, in explanation. "In 1800 it
was a tavern; then after the burning of the Capitol by the British it
was used by both houses of Congress, hence the name, 'Old Capitol.'"

Goddard stopped and inspected the building with interest. As his eyes
passed along the rows on rows of barred windows, he was attracted by
the actions of one of the sentries. After watching him for a few
seconds, he turned to Nancy.

"Something is wrong over there," he said briefly. "If you will wait
here, I will go over and investigate." Without waiting for a reply, he
crossed the street and accosted the sentry. "What's the trouble here?"

The sentry wheeled about and swung his bayonet to the charge; then,
recognizing the uniform and shoulder straps, he lowered his Springfield
and saluted.

"It's the prisoner there, Major," pointing to a woman who was leaning
as far out of an open window on the ground floor as the bars would
permit. "I can't make her go back."

"Call the corporal of the guard."

"I have, Major; but the devil a bit of good that did me. She wouldn't
pay any more attention to his orders than to mine."

"Well, then, why not stop shouting at the woman, and leave her alone?"

"It's against orders for any prisoner, man or woman, to approach near
enough to touch the window sill or the bars. The corporal says I'm to
shoot her unless she moves back, and the superintendent says the same.
Damn it! Do they think I 'listed to shoot women?" He mopped his heated
face. "Last week they court-martialed a guard for not obeying orders;
so I must do it." Then, in a loud, authoritative voice, he called, "For
the last time, ma'am, get back from that window. I'll count three; then
I'll fire. One----" His rifle jumped to his shoulder, and he took aim.
The woman stood as if carved from stone, gazing steadily at the sentry,
down whose white face beads of perspiration were trickling. "Two----"

"Wait," whispered Goddard, then shouted: "Look out, madam; there's a
mouse!"

With a convulsive start, the woman sprang back from the window. The
sentry dropped the butt of his gun on the sidewalk, and turned
gratefully to Goddard.

"Thanks, Major. If that prisoner shows her face again, I'll just start
some real mice through the window." And, saluting, he resumed his beat.

Nancy did not wait, but joined Goddard before he could recross the
street.

"I go down this way," she said, and Goddard, suiting his step to hers,
strolled with her along A Street. "What train do you propose taking to
Winchester, Major?"

"The nine o'clock, if that is convenient for you and your aunt."

"Perfectly so." She stopped before an unpretentious house. "Shall we
meet at the depot to-morrow?"

"If you will let me, I will call for you and your aunt."

"We shall be delighted." The front door had been opened by a small boy
in answer to Goddard's imperative knock. Nancy turned and held out her
hand. "Until then--good-bye." And the door slammed shut.

Turning on his heel, Goddard retraced his steps to the Capitol, but
when he reached the building he concluded not to enter, so continued on
his way to his boarding house opposite the Ebbitt. On leaving the
Capitol grounds, his progress was blocked by a regiment of raw recruits
on its way to the front, which halted and "marked time." Their band
struck up "Three Hundred Thousand More," and the soldiers instantly
sang the stirring words:

    We are coming, Father Abra'am, three hundred thousand more,
    From Mississippi's winding stream and from New England's shore;
    We leave our ploughs and workshops, our wives and children dear,
    With hearts too full for utterance, with but a silent tear;
    We dare not look behind us, but steadfastly before:
    We are coming, Father Abra'am, three hundred thousand more.

    You have called us, and we're coming, by Richmond's bloody tide
    To lay us down, for Freedom's sake, our brothers' bones beside;
    Or from foul treason's savage grasp to wrench the murderous blade,
    And in the face of foreign foes its fragments to parade.
    Six hundred thousand loyal men and true have gone before;
    We are coming, Father Abra'am, three hundred thousand more.

Goddard promptly joined in the singing with others in the crowd which
had collected. Suddenly a heavy hand fell on his shoulder, and facing
about he found Lloyd standing behind him.

"Come out of this crowd," said the latter, sternly. In silence the two
men walked up the Avenue to Third Street, and Lloyd led his companion
into that quieter thoroughfare. Looking to see that no one was near
enough to hear what he said, he turned savagely on Goddard.

"I should arrest you at once."

Goddard stared blankly at Lloyd, unable to believe his ears.

"On what charge?" he demanded, hotly.

"Aiding and abetting the enemy."

Goddard's face cleared. "You are crazy," he remarked, tersely.

"Am I? We shall see. I warned you Nancy Newton was a spy."

Goddard's eyes snapped angrily, and his color rose.

"Suppose we leave Miss Newton's name out of the discussion," he said,
haughtily; then, in a more friendly tone: "Here I am, happy and
carefree, and you appear, like 'Banquo's ghost,' and shout your silly
theories, which you admit you can't prove, into my ears."

"My theories do hold water," was the stern reply. "Better for you, you
blockhead, if they didn't."

Goddard's face went white. "By heavens! I allow no one to address me in
that way. If it wasn't for our long friendship...."; his clenched hands
finished the sentence.

"It is owing to our old friendship that I haven't had you arrested,
Bob," Lloyd spoke more quietly, realizing he had gone a step too far.

"Then explain what your insinuations mean."

"I will. Half an hour ago you were in front of Old Capitol
Prison"--Goddard nodded assent--"helping the sentry make that woman
behave herself. Well, it was all a plant."

"A plant?"

"Yes. While you and the sentry were engaged with that woman, Nancy
Newton was signaling from an opposite doorway to another prisoner in
the same row."

Goddard gazed incredulously at Lloyd. "How do you know?"

"I was following you both down the street, and saw the whole affair. I
was too far away to interfere, and by the time I had reached the prison
you and your companion were a block away." Goddard stood biting his
lip, so Lloyd, after waiting for a reply, continued: "The comedy was
well played. Your presence but added realism to it in case passers-by
noticed the scene. In some way, she and the woman arranged to engage
the sentry's attention while she signaled to the other prisoner; and
there you are."

"What are you going to do about it?" asked Goddard; then added
stubbornly: "Mind you, Lloyd, I am still convinced Miss Newton is
innocent of the grave charge you bring against her. Many Washingtonians
have been arrested for various offences and put in the Old Capitol;
possibly one of them is a friend of Miss Newton's, and, seeing her
standing opposite the prison, seized the opportunity to wave to her."
But Lloyd remained obstinately silent, and Goddard repeated his first
question, "What are you going to do about it?"

"Arrest her as a suspect. No, on second thoughts, I will leave her
free, but watched. Take my word for it, Bob; if you give that clever
girl rope enough she will hang herself."



CHAPTER V

A SCRAP OF PAPER


"A penny for your thoughts, Nancy." Mrs. Warren leaned across the table
and addressed her friend.

Nancy started guiltily, and her thoughts returned to her surroundings
with a rush. Senator Warren, seated on her left, noticed her confusion,
and whispered in her ear:

"Blue or gray?"

"Gray," she answered; then colored hotly as she met his amused gaze.

"You did not notice me this morning," continued the senator, lowering
his voice so the others could not hear, "and Major Goddard had eyes but
for you--small blame to him!"

Nancy drew a long, slow breath of relief, and the carmine receded from
her cheeks.

"Major Goddard is very good-looking," she said composedly. "His
coloring is a decided relief from the many blond men one meets
nowadays. Blue-black hair and gray eyes are an unusual combination."

"Did you see the President to-day, Senator?" inquired their host,
Colonel Mitchell, breaking in on the conversation; and Nancy sat back
in her chair, glad of a moment's respite in which to collect her
thoughts. Her head ached, and she pushed the soft hair from off her
forehead with an impatient hand. Would her chaperone never make the
move to leave?

Their table was in one corner, and Nancy sat with her back to the other
diners. Mrs. Warren and the two men were soon absorbed in a heated
argument as they slowly sipped their coffee. Nancy turned impatiently
in her seat, and surveyed the animated scene behind her with restless,
tired eyes.

Washington, filled with strangers from all sections of the country
lying north of Mason and Dixon's line, was a city of perpetual unrest.
Besides the soldiers stationed in the encircling camps and
fortifications, regiments were continually passing through the capital
on their way to and from the front. Statesmen, government contractors,
and shoddy politicians haunted hotel lobbies and restaurants.

Gautier's, where many of the old residents and statesmen congregated,
was more than usually crowded that night, and the Frenchman had
difficulty in supplying the wants of his patrons; so earlier in the
evening he had engaged extra waiters to meet the emergency.

The stringed orchestra in the gallery ceased playing, and in the
momentary lull Nancy's quick ear caught fragments of conversation
between two officers seated at the adjoining table. Interested, she
gently edged her chair nearer to the men; then, leaning back, pretended
to be absorbed in watching some new arrivals, as Sam, who was earning
an honest penny by doing extra work on his night off from Wormley's,
deftly removed the dessert plates.

"I tell you, Jim," Nancy heard the older officer say positively, "Grant
intends to have Sheridan join him as soon as he breaks winter camp."

"Nonsense, nonsense; the strategical movement would be to have him
march south and re-enforce Sherman. That would mean the death knell of
the Confederacy."

"You are entirely wrong," returned the first speaker heatedly. "Why,
man, look here; suppose this pepper-caster is Richmond, this crust
Petersburg, this crumb Lee, and this crumb Grant--now, bring this
crumb, Sheridan..." His words were drowned by the strains of "The Girl
I Left Behind Me," and the other diners in the room joined in the
chorus.

At the conclusion of the song, Mrs. Warren gathered her belongings
together, preparatory to departure. Colonel Mitchell, seeing his guests
had finished supper, opened his pocketbook and drew out a roll of bank
notes. As he thrust the money back into the pocketbook after paying his
bill, a small folded piece of paper dropped unseen, except by Nancy, on
the floor close beside her chair.

Like a flash she planted her foot squarely on it. Colonel Mitchell had
risen to help Mrs. Warren into her wrap; the senator was busy talking
to a newcomer. None of them had noticed her quick action. Dare she
stoop over and pick up the paper? As she hesitated, their waiter, Sam,
returned with the colonel's change. Mitchell waved the tray away
impatiently, and the negro stepped back, dropping his napkin over
Nancy's foot as he did so.

"Please 'scuse me, missy." Stooping swiftly, he deftly lifted her foot
and removed the paper as he picked up the cloth. "Hyar's yo' napkin,"
laying it back in her lap; then in a voice that reached her ear alone,
"Look out, yo' am bein' watched."

"Thank you, Sam." Nancy's voice was unruffled as her fingers closed
spasmodically over the paper concealed in the napkin. Seeing her
friends were still occupied, she seized her chance, and whispered
rapidly: "Go to Mr. Shriver's room at Wormley's, search behind the
glass in the mirror over his bureau; then bring the paper you will find
concealed there to me at the Perrys' to-night." Sam nodded
understandingly. Nancy rose. "Senator Warren, will you help me on with
my coat."



CHAPTER VI

THE SIGNAL LIGHT


"Are you sure you have made no mistake, Lloyd?" whispered Colonel Baker
in his companion's ear.

"Positive, Colonel; I have laid my plans too carefully for that."

The two men were crouching behind a corner of a tumbled-down stone
wall. Their position commanded a full view of an old square mansion
standing some little distance from B Street. The galleries on the south
side of the house overlooked a low, rolling meadow which ran down to
the Potomac River.

"Have you no proof against the girl?"

"No tangible proof so far, though I am morally certain she is the
cleverest spy of them all."

"Why not arrest her on suspicion?"

"What good would that accomplish? Her family and friends are the most
influential in the District. Without actual proof of her guilt, you
could not hold her forty-eight hours."

Colonel Baker moved restlessly. Such tactics were foreign to his
nature. He believed in arresting first and investigating afterward. But
his department had gone too far in a recent case, and he had been
warned by no less a person than the President himself that his
high-handed methods would no longer be tolerated.

"My idea is to make her convict herself," resumed Lloyd, after a slight
pause.

"And you think your plot is going to work?"

"It has succeeded so far. I found out that Colonel Mitchell was
entertaining Senator and Mrs. Warren, and that Miss Newton was to be of
the party. The colonel's sentiments for her have changed within the
last few days. I shouldn't be surprised if she had snubbed him, and
wounded his vanity. Anyway he was quite willing to enter into a little
scheme I suggested. I put it on purely patriotic motives, mind you,"
Lloyd smiled grimly to himself, "that, as a loyal Union officer, it was
his duty to assist me. So he wrote a bogus despatch, purporting to come
from the adjutant-general, which he was to drop accidentally before
Miss Newton, and then give her an opportunity to pick it up."

"Did she do it?"

"I am positive she did, although I did not actually see her. I saw
Mitchell, who managed it very cleverly, drop the paper, and as they
left their table I walked over to it. The paper had disappeared from
the floor."

"Why didn't you arrest her then?"

"Because I want to find out her method of passing information on to the
rebels. She may have a confederate who would carry out her schemes
while she is in prison, and we would be none the wiser and still unable
to stop the leak. I judged that the moment Miss Newton had time to read
that paper she would instantly try to communicate with the rebels. And
I judged rightly." He paused to look up and down the silent street.

"Go on," whispered Baker impatiently.

"Symonds and I shadowed her home. She stayed in the house just long
enough to change her dress, then came on here by a circuitous route.
She has been in there about ten minutes," nodding his head in the
direction of the house.

"I am glad I met you," rejoined Baker grimly. "I enjoy being in at the
death. Sure she cannot escape you?"

"The house is surrounded by my men. I am going to give her a few more
minutes before I interrupt her little game."

Somewhere in the neighborhood a dog bayed, but there was no sign of
life about the house, except a loose shutter banged dismally to and fro
in the cutting east wind. No stars were out, and the men had to strain
their eyes to make out objects in the dark. Suddenly Baker clutched
Lloyd's arm and pointed to the south. A faint light had appeared from a
window over the south portico, which grew brighter as it moved once to
the left, then to the right, and then was raised, shedding a brilliant
gleam on the deserted galleries.

"Signaling, by God!" swore Baker. "Come, man, in with you."

He started to his feet, but Lloyd pulled him down again.

"Wait," he cautioned. "We can interfere there at any moment."
Reluctantly Baker followed his advice. Five minutes, ten minutes passed
on leaden feet to the anxious watchers. But their vigil was rewarded.
Lloyd touched his companion on the shoulder, and muttered: "If my eyes
don't deceive me, here comes some one in answer to that signal."

Baker glanced up the deserted street, and dimly saw a man slowly
approaching, apparently picking his way with care. The newcomer was
nearly opposite the dilapidated entrance gate, when the side door of
the house was cautiously opened and a figure stole out, and, making a
quick dash through the gate, collided violently against him.

The Secret Service men were too far away to catch what was said, but
they saw the two shake hands. Lloyd's men to the west of the house had
witnessed the meeting, and, without waiting for a signal, were closing
in on the pair, who stood still for a moment, then turned and walked
straight toward the place where the two officers were crouching.

"Given into our hands," muttered Baker exultingly; then, as the
newcomer stepped almost in front of him, he sprang forward, and seized
him in no uncertain grip. "I've got you," he shouted in triumph.

The man straightened his bent shoulders to his full height; then stood
passive.

"Well, well, so you have," said a quiet voice, "and what are you going
to do about it?"

"A light here," roared Baker.

Obediently one of the soldiers who had come running up struck a match,
and held it in the hollow of his hand so the wind would not extinguish
it. As the tiny flame grew brighter, he raised the match, and the light
fell full on the face of Baker's prisoner.

"Good God! The President!" gasped the colonel, and his hands fell
nerveless by his side.



CHAPTER VII

THE MISCHANCES OF A NIGHT


Baker glanced hopelessly about him; at the President, who pulled his
old gray shawl closer around his shoulders to keep out the chill wind;
at Lloyd, who stood clutching Nancy by her arms; and at the soldiers
who stood grouped about them. For once his feelings were beyond
expression.

"How long are you going to keep me here?" inquired Lincoln patiently.
"And why did you jump at me like a Comanche Indian?"

"Not a mo-moment, sir," stuttered Baker. "It was this young lady we
were after. We had no intention at all of interfering with you."

"And why do you want Miss Newton, Baker?" asked Lincoln.

"She is a rebel spy. We caught her signaling to-night."

"I deny it," exclaimed Nancy hotly; and she tried to step forward, but
Lloyd's strong arm held her back.

"Mr. President, hear me just one moment." Lloyd spoke with great
earnestness, and Lincoln turned to face him. One of the soldiers had
found a half-burnt candle in his coat pocket, and by its feeble rays
the President noticed Lloyd's detaining hand on Nancy's shoulder.

"Release Miss Newton," he ordered sternly. "Then tell your story in
detail."

Reluctantly Lloyd did as he was told. "This young lady picked up a
piece of paper in Gautier's which I knew contained valuable
information. I have suspected her for some days of supplying the
Confederates with our secrets; so I followed her here, and saw the
signal light. Colonel Baker and I thought you came up the street in
answer to it. It was too dark to recognize you...."

"So you took me for a rebel spy?"

"I certainly am sorry for my precipitancy, Mr. President," said Baker
apologetically. "Thinking you were an accomplice of this lady's, I
tried only to do my duty."

"My shoulder and arm can testify to your zeal," chuckled Lincoln. "Now,
Miss Nancy, what have you to say to these charges?"

"I never picked up a paper, Mr. President," said Nancy firmly. "On my
return home to-night from Gautier's I found a message from my old
mammy, Aunt Polly, saying she was very ill and that she needed me. She
lives in that house with her son, who is the caretaker during Mr.
Perry's absence. So I..."

"Disguised yourself and came here," broke in Lloyd insultingly.

"If by 'disguise' you mean I changed my evening gown, I did--for this
more suitable street dress." Nancy threw back her head haughtily. "I am
offering my explanation to the President; not to you, sir."

"Continue your remarks, Miss Nancy," directed Lincoln quietly.

"Why, that is all, Mr. President. After changing my gown I came
here..."

"By side streets," again interposed Lloyd.

"By side streets, because the more direct route is crowded with noisy
men and women," answered Nancy calmly. "I found Doctor Boyd here with
Aunt Polly." Lloyd uttered another exclamation, but Nancy refused to
pay heed. "He advised that we move Aunt Polly into a room facing south
as it would be warmer and more cheery for her in the daytime. Jasper
and the doctor carried her there, and I went ahead with the lamp..."

"With which you have been signaling to the rebels," declared Lloyd
roughly.

"I did nothing of the sort," retorted Nancy vehemently. "In trying to
find a place to put the lamp down I walked backward and forward with it
in my hand until I had pushed a table before the window. I then placed
the lamp on it, and went to help the doctor. He told me my presence was
no longer needed, and advised me to go home, as Aunt Metoaca would be
alarmed by my long absence. Bidding Aunt Polly good night, I slipped
out of the side entrance and ran into you at the gate, Mr. President."

"Miss Nancy told me then," volunteered Lincoln, slowly, "that she had
been with Aunt Polly who was ill. I know Aunt Polly, too; we have
frequent talks when I stroll down this street and she is working in the
garden, or sweeping the driveway."

"And I will take my oath to the truth of Nancy's story," said Doctor
Boyd, stepping into the circle about the President. "Aunt Polly had to
undergo a minor operation, she insisted on Nancy being present, and to
prevent the old woman working herself into a fever I sent for Nancy. I
would have escorted her here myself, but my duties at the hospital
prevented."

Lincoln nodded understandingly. "It's all right, Doctor," he said
soothingly. "I believe Miss Nancy, and I guess our friend, Colonel
Baker, does, also."

Baker looked doubtfully at Nancy. "Yes," he muttered ungraciously,
"Miss Newton has made everything clear." He turned to address Lloyd,
but the latter had disappeared.

"Then suppose we walk on," said Lincoln. "It is cold standing here.
Your aunt called to see me this morning, Miss Nancy."

"It was most kind of you to give us passes to Winchester." Nancy looked
gratefully at the President as she tried to keep step with his long
strides. "The change will do Aunt Metoaca good, she has been too long
in Washington without a change of air, and I am worried about her
condition."

Lloyd rejoined the little procession at the corner of New York Avenue
and Seventeenth Street. To the right gleamed the lights of the cavalry
corral on the ellipse back of the White House, and on the left were the
buildings of the quartermaster general's depot. Lloyd drew Baker to one
side and whispered:

"Apparently the girl has covered her tracks this time. Symonds and I
entered the house and the darky, Jasper, and his mother repeated the
same tale to me. We searched the house, but could find nothing
suspicious. On leaving I stationed a guard about the grounds, for I am
convinced she _did_ signal to some one who may try to enter the house
later on."

"Better give it up," growled Baker, whose temper had been sorely tried
by his own exploit.

"Never!" Lloyd's teeth came together with an ominous click. "I will
trap that girl if it takes me months."

The President and Nancy led the way up Seventeenth Street to
Pennsylvania Avenue and down that thoroughfare toward the White House.
Lincoln stopped when he reached the entrance to the War Department.

"I am going in here to read the latest despatches," he said. "Good
night, Doctor. Miss Nancy, when do you go to Winchester?"

"On the early train to-morrow, or, rather, this morning. Good night,
Mr. President."

"Good night and a safe journey to you." The President watched Nancy and
Doctor Boyd out of sight; then turned to Baker. "Don't take it to
heart, man. I rather enjoyed your springing at me--it was a new
sensation."

"Indeed, Mr. President, you should not go out at this time of night
without a guard," remonstrated Baker earnestly. "Then such a thing
would never have happened. It is not safe for you to walk about without
proper protection."

"Baker," said the President reminiscently, "you remind me of the little
girl who had just been told of the omnipresence of God, and was so
upset that she turned angrily upon her pet dog, saying: 'Go back in the
house, Peggy. It's bad enough having God tagging 'round, without you.'
Good night, Baker," and Lincoln disappeared inside the War Department.



CHAPTER VIII

A VOICE FROM THE PAST


Some hours later Doctor Boyd stepped inside his hall and softly closed
the front door. Quickly removing his hat and heavy cloak, he went
directly into his back office and felt about in the dark for his match
box. It was not to be found in its accustomed place, and an angry
exclamation escaped the doctor. Apparently Martha Crane, his trusted
old housekeeper, had taken advantage of his absence and tidied up his
desk, an act of vandalism which always reduced Boyd to a state
bordering on frenzy.

"Kin I help yo', suh?"

Doctor Boyd's right hand sought his hip pocket, and he faced in the
direction from which the voice came. The intruder guessed his intention
and spoke hastily.

"Fo' God's sake, doan shoot, suh. I'se Sam." And to confirm his
statement he struck a match and held it so that his features were
visible by the flickering flame.

"Well, come in and light this confounded burner," exclaimed the doctor
testily, as his fingers slowly relaxed their hold on his weapon. "Next
time don't announce your presence so dramatically, Sam, or you may get
hurt."

"Yessir." The negro stepped with alacrity through the doorway which led
to the front office, and applied his half burned match to the gas jet
over the doctor's desk. "Miss Martha done told me ter wait in dar."

"Confound the woman!" The doctor seated himself in his armchair and
contemplated the neatly arranged papers and ornaments on his desk in
despair. "Where is she?"

"Done gone out," announced Sam briefly. "I tole her I'd be 'sponsible
fo' de house 'til she cum back."

"Where were you to-night, Sam? Miss Nancy expected you to meet her at
the Perry's."

"I went dar, suh, but I seed a lot ob men a-hangin' 'roun' watchin' de
place, so I jes' cum on heah, thinkin' p'raps Miss Nancy mite be wif
yo'. I done got de papah she wanted."

"Miss Nancy leaves at nine o'clock for Winchester."

"Golly! Den I mus' git right 'roun' an' gib her dis heah papah." Sam
started for the door.

"Stop!" commanded Boyd. "The Newtons' house is also watched by Secret
Service agents. I saw them sneaking about the yard when I left Miss
Nancy an hour ago. If you go there at this hour you will be arrested
instantly."

Sam scratched his woolly head in perplexity. "I reckon if I jes' go to
der back alley an' whistle fo' Misery dey won' notice dis ole nigger,"
he volunteered hopefully, after a moment's thought.

"What good would that do you?"

"I'll jes' slip de papah in de dawg's collah, an' he'll take it ter
Missy same as he brings her messages ter me."

Boyd shook his head. "It is too much to risk on a dog's sagacity now
that suspicion is directed toward Miss Nancy."

"Den 'spose I meet Missy at de train an' slip de papah in her han'."

"Unfortunately she is shadowed wherever she goes. Sit down a moment,
Sam, and let me think." The doctor stroked his chin reflectively. "I'm
afraid if I go to their house on the pretext of giving Miss Metoaca
medicine I will be searched, and if that paper is incriminating we will
all swing together. Here, let me read the message, and then I can
repeat it to Miss Nancy at the station."

"No, suh, 'scuse me, suh, but dis heah papah was ter be delibered ter
her pussionally."

"I am the best judge of that. Give me the paper at once."

"No, suh," reiterated Sam obstinately. "Cunnel Newton tole me I was ter
do 'zackly what Miss Nancy oddered, 'kase he willed meh ter her fo' he
died, an' I'se her serbent now same as I wore his body serbent."

"Confound your stupidity," growled Doctor Boyd. At that moment a sound
from the basement reached his quick ear. Signing to Sam to remain where
he was, Boyd tiptoed out into the hall and over to the back stairs. The
kitchen door creaked dolefully as it was pushed open by an old woman
who walked heavily along the lower hall toward the stairs carrying a
lighted candle. The doctor drew a sigh of relief.

"Glad you have returned, Martha," he called softly. "Please bring some
ice water into my office on your way to bed."

Sam was plucking nervously at his old hat when the doctor reentered the
office.

"'Tain't 'kase I doan _want_ ter gib yo' dat papah, suh," he began
confusedly, edging toward the open hall door. "But de cunnel, he
brunged meh up ter obey his odders, same as he done Miss Nancy. His
word wore law to eb'ry one on de plantashun. I reckon I'se jes' got ter
fin' some way ob reachin' Miss Nancy."

"You won't have to reach far," volunteered a familiar voice from the
doorway. Sam wheeled about and a gasp escaped him.

"You? Nancy!" The doctor gazed incredulously at the stooping,
gray-haired woman who hobbled into the room and closed the door.

[Illustration: "'You? Nancy!' The doctor gazed incredulously."]

For answer Nancy straightened her bent shoulders and removed the gray
wig.

"I found Martha Crane with Aunt Metoaca," she explained, seating
herself by the desk. "She told me that you were here, Sam, and having
failed to meet you at the Perrys' I decided to try and catch you here
before you left."

"But where on earth did you get that disguise?" demanded the doctor.

"I borrowed the clothes from Martha; fortunately, with padding, they
fit me quite well. She also lent me the key of your basement so that I
would not attract attention by going to the front door. The wig," Nancy
laughed, "I used that in some tableaux at one of the Sanitary Fairs
last year. It came in very handy, for the Secret Service men thought I
was old Martha and let me pass unquestioned."

"No wonder; your make-up is perfect," declared Boyd heartily.

"Have you secured the paper for me, Sam?" asked Nancy.

"Yes, Missy." Sam took a small slip of paper from an inside pocket and
handed it to her. Nancy studied the closely written lines intently.

"Important?" inquired the doctor, breaking the long silence.

"Very." She carefully refolded the slip. "This contains the key to
Stanton's private cipher code."

A low whistle of surprise escaped Boyd. "How did you get it?"

"Arthur Shriver, who, as you know, was a clerk in his office, copied
it, but before he could get it to me he was arrested on suspicion,"
explained Nancy. "I heard he was confined in one of the front rooms in
the Old Capitol Prison, and so arranged to have the sentry's attention
diverted while I questioned Arthur by prearranged signals."

"Did the plan work?"

"It did. Arthur told me where he had hidden the paper, and I sent Sam
to-night to get it for me."

"Well, well!" The doctor sat back and contemplated Nancy admiringly.
"There's another message written on the back of that paper."

Nancy turned it over and her eyes widened in surprise as she read aloud
the hastily scrawled words: "Mrs. Bennett is a Union spy. I have just
overheard an interview between her and Stanton."

"That woman!" ejaculated the doctor. "That cat!"

"Felines scratch," Nancy shrugged her shoulders disdainfully. "Stanton
is fighting the devil with fire."

"Be careful, Nancy; don't undervalue your opponents," cautioned the
doctor.

"I flatter myself I am a match for Mrs. Bennett," retorted Nancy, "and
forewarned is forearmed."

"Strange," muttered Doctor Boyd. "Very strange. Do you recollect
the----"

"I shall turn this paper over to you, Doctor," broke in Nancy
impetuously, "to take through the lines, along with a despatch which I
also secured to-night."

Boyd shook his head. "Impossible. I cannot leave the city now."

"Why not?"

"Because I have a capital operation to perform at ten o'clock."

Nancy gazed at him in consternation. "Why, Doctor, you have always said
that when the Cause needed your services you would not fail...."

"Nor will I, when the Cause _really_ needs me. But at present you are
better equipped to carry these messages through the lines than I."

Nancy fingered the table ornaments for a moment in silence; then raised
her troubled eyes to her listener's face.

"I have sent my last despatch," she announced quietly.

"What!" The doctor could not believe his ears. "Why?"

"Because I refuse to deceive people any longer. I was brought up to
believe a lie an abomination of the Lord--and I have been a living lie
for three long years!"

"You have developed a New England conscience," growled Boyd.

"Do you think all the virtues belong north of Mason and Dixon's line?"
retorted Nancy hotly. "For shame!"

"I beg your pardon," the old surgeon bowed toward her with stately
courtesy. "Do be reasonable, child. This operation I am to perform
means not only life to the patient, but much to science. Besides, I
doubt if the authorities would allow me to leave Washington to-day.
Now, your plans for leaving the city are already made; therefore it
will be a very simple, easy matter for you to carry those papers into
Virginia. You will run little risk..."

"I am not hesitating on that score," broke in Nancy. "I would give my
life gladly for the 'bonnie blue flag'--_in the open_. It is the
underhand methods--the spying--the deceit--that burn like a red-hot
coal." Nancy paused; then continued more quietly: "There _is_ such a
word as '_honor_'." She drew out another slip of paper from the bosom
of her dress and tossed it, together with the paper already in her
hand, on the table. "You must find another messenger."

"Missy, Missy, what yo' talkin' 'bout?" Nancy and the doctor both
started. They had forgotten Sam's presence. "Is yo' goin' back on yo'
gibben word--_yo'_--a Newton?"

The girl's face whitened. She started to speak, but the negro gave her
no opportunity to do so.

"Has yo' done forgot dat Sunday night?" he asked, leaning forward
across the table in his earnestness. "Dat night when I fotched yo' from
Newton Manor to Massa's bedside?" His voice deepened, the musical voice
of the emotional African.

In Nancy's mind distinct and vivid rose the memory of that wild ride
through the night to her father, the gay, handsome father whom she
idolized. Then, in thought, she again knelt beside the rude bed in the
silent tent, clinging to a feeble hand which had not the strength to
return her pressure.

"Missy," Sam's voice brought her back to the present, "Massa done
brunged yo' up ter ride, an' shoot, an' swim 'kase he wanted a boy so
bad. He wore shot leadin' a charge ag'in de Yanks, an' when de gen'ral
cum later ter say how bad he feel ter lose Massa, he jes' said: 'Ah
wish Ah haid uh son ter take ma place in de ranks.'" The negro paused,
then continued slowly: "When yo' an' I got dar, Missy, de Massa wore
mos' gone, but he say ter yo': 'Doan cry, dear, de fightin' Newtons
allus die wid de boots on--an' so die happy.' An' den he raise hissef
up uh li'le an' gasp: 'Ah gib yo' ter de Cause--swear to uphold de
honoh ob Virginny--ter repel invasion--swear----'" Sam raised his right
hand solemnly. "An' yo' swore dat oath on de Crucifix, Missy, on de
Crucifix--in a dyin' man's han'."

Sam's accusing eyes held Nancy spellbound. Mechanically she readjusted
her wig. Quickly her right hand sought the papers lying on the table,
and before either of the men realized her intention she had slipped
from the room and was gone.



CHAPTER IX

OUTWITTED


For once Lloyd had overslept, and he kicked a chair viciously out of
his way as he stooped to find an elusive collar button. A loud knock at
his door interrupted his search. On opening it he found one of the
chambermaids leaning against the opposite wall.

"Well, what is it?" he demanded sharply.

"Dis hyar gen'man's down to de do' an' wants ter see yo' to onst," and
she thrust a card into his hand.

"Tell Colonel Mitchell I will be down in a minute. No, stay--show him
up here." Lloyd retreated into his room. He had just completed his
toilet when a second knock sounded on his door.

"Good morning, Mitchell," he said cordially, admitting the officer. "I
had you come up here because we can be more private. Sit down and have
a cigar," and he pulled forward a chair; then opened his cigar case.

But the colonel remained standing, and waved aside the proffered cigar.
"Did you catch Miss Newton?" he asked eagerly.

"We found her, yes; but my plan missed fire."

"You mean?"

"She did not try to communicate with the rebels last night."

"Then you did not arrest her as a spy?"

"No--I had not sufficient evidence against her to do so."

"Is she at large?"

"Yes; but closely watched."

"Did you take the despatch from her?"

"No."

"She still has it?"

"I suppose so. Good God! man, what's the matter?"

Mitchell, white faced and trembling, collapsed into a chair.

"Pull yourself together," continued Lloyd sternly. "She cannot do any
harm even if she does manage to send that despatch to Lee; it is false
information."

Twice Mitchell tried to speak. "Man, man," he gasped finally. "By some
fearful mischance I dropped a real despatch and not the bogus one."

With eyes starting from his head, Lloyd regarded the unfortunate
officer while he slowly digested his startling news. Then he picked up
his overcoat and hat and made for the closed door. "To think I let that
girl go into Virginia under the President's pass with that despatch in
her pocket. Damnation!" and the door slammed violently on his
retreating figure.

Goddard rose bright and early that morning. He did not awaken Lloyd,
for he had bidden him good-bye the night before, so after scrawling a
few lines to his friend thanking him for his hospitality and leaving
the note on the bureau, he hastened down to the Newtons'. Nancy and her
aunt did not keep him waiting long, and with the help of their butler
he got them into the waiting hack, tossed in their numerous hand
luggage, and jumped up by the driver. On their arrival at the depot he
found they had but three minutes in which to catch the train, so he
unceremoniously bundled Miss Metoaca and Nancy through the gates and to
the train; while the hackman brought up the rear with two carpet bags
and a lunch hamper.

They found they had the car practically to themselves, so Miss Metoaca
picked out the cleanest seat, and insisted that all the luggage be put
by her side where it would be directly under her eye. Then she
announced she was going to take "forty winks," as she had been up most
of the night and needed sleep. With a sigh of satisfaction, Goddard
settled himself next to Nancy in the seat directly across the aisle
from Miss Metoaca. As the train pulled out from the depot a man swung
himself aboard the back platform and slipped into a seat in the rear of
the last car unseen by Goddard.

"You look tired," said Goddard, glancing keenly at Nancy's pale face.

"I am; for I spent most of the night with a sick servant. But you,
Major Goddard, don't look any too fresh yourself," replied Nancy
quickly.

It was true. Goddard had spent a sleepless night. He could not
believe--would not believe Lloyd's charge against Nancy. After all, she
was not the only girl, or woman, with red-gold hair in the world. Lloyd
had nothing to go upon but theories--no absolute proof--and an innocent
act might easily be construed into a guilty one by a suspicious mind.
Perhaps Lloyd's wish had proved father to the thought; he showed
extraordinary animosity toward Nancy. All the chivalry of his nature
revolted at the Secret Service officer's cold-blooded scheme to ensnare
her, and Goddard determined in his own mind she should have fair play.

"Are you a Washingtonian by birth, Miss Newton?" he inquired, as she
moved restlessly under his intent gaze.

"No, by adoption. I was born and raised in Richmond. I do not remember
my mother. She died when I was very young. After my father's death I
came north in charge of my black mammy, Aunt Polly, to live with Aunt
Metoaca. My dear father," Nancy's eyes filled with unbidden tears, and
she hastily tried to wink them away. "I wish you could have known each
other, Major. Dad's courtly greeting and warm heart won him so many,
many friends."

"I second the wish," said Goddard gently. "Pardon the question, but has
he been dead long?"

"Three years now; but time has not lessened my sorrow. We were all in
all to each other, notwithstanding I was his greatest disappointment."

"How so?"

"He wanted a son and heir; but I was his only child, the last of a long
line of fighting men. Dad was my constant companion as well as my
teacher," she sighed involuntarily. "I miss him more and more as the
years go on."

Goddard nodded sympathetically. "'Oh, for the touch of a vanished hand,
and the sound of a voice that is still,'" he quoted softly. Nancy
started, and, as her lips quivered, Goddard added more lightly, "I have
a fellow feeling with you, for I am an orphan, too, Miss Nancy; but I
cannot say I had so agreeable a guardian as you have."

"Aunt Metoaca has been both mother and father to me. Bless her dear
kind heart!" and Nancy glanced with deep affection at the nodding gray
head on the opposite seat. "She and Doctor John Boyd are the only
friends I have."

"Oh, come, you know you have legions of..."

"Of acquaintances--yes," interpolated Nancy swiftly. "It is my fault. I
do not make friends easily, and lately..."

"Yes, and lately?" asked Goddard, as she hesitated.

"I have noticed a change in my acquaintances. Oh, nothing tangible; but
there is a coolness in their greeting, and I hear innuendoes."

"What do you care? Women will say anything when jealous, which I
suspect is the cause of their behavior. Hasn't your mirror told you
that?" and Goddard smiled, as he looked with admiration at her winsome
face.

"It is not always the women who throw the first stone, Major," again
Nancy hesitated. "There is a man in Washington--he chose to consider
himself in love with me, and because I did not encourage his suit
he--he--insinuates----"

"The beast! Why don't you tell him he is a liar and a coward?"

"Because I am only a woman."

"I wish you would give me the right to protect you," whispered Goddard,
carried away by the wistful appeal in her large, eloquent eyes.

"Major Goddard," Nancy drew back, frightened by the intensity of his
manner. "This is very wrong. You--you--forget we have not known each
other long."

"I am getting on as fast as I can," retorted Goddard sturdily; his
heart thumping as he saw her confusion. "Miss Newton--Nancy--I mean
every word I have said. Tell me that scoundrel's name!"

Unconsciously Goddard raised his voice, and Miss Metoaca awoke from her
slumbers, which had long exceeded the "forty winks." That limit existed
only in her imagination.

"Well, young people, are you hungry?" to attract Goddard's attention
she prodded him with her umbrella. "Suppose we open our lunch basket."

Reluctantly Goddard rose and assisted Miss Metoaca in handing the
sandwiches, cakes, and cold coffee to Nancy. They did full justice to
the good things provided by Miss Metoaca's excellent cook, and lingered
over the improvised lunch table. Finally Nancy commenced putting the
remains of the lunch into the hamper just as the train reached the
railroad bridge which spanned the Potomac at the juncture of the
Shenandoah River.

As the train came to a stop before the depot at Harper's Ferry their
car was surrounded by a squad of soldiers, and a lieutenant of infantry
swung on board the forward platform and consulted with the conductor.

"There's the party," said the latter, pointing through the open door to
Miss Metoaca and Nancy, who were sitting together. The officer stepped
into the car and addressed them.

"Miss Newton?" he asked, touching his cap, "and Miss Nancy Newton, from
Washington?"

"Yes, sir," said Miss Metoaca. "What then?"

"I have orders to detain you both in Harper's Ferry. Kindly follow me,"
and he turned as if to leave the car.

"By whose order, and under what charge?" asked Goddard hotly, stepping
in front of the two indignant women.

"Are you Major Goddard, of the --th United States cavalry?" demanded
the younger officer.

"I am."

"General Stevenson received orders by telegraph from Washington to
detain these ladies here on their arrival. I do not know the charge,
Major," replied the lieutenant courteously.

"How long do you propose keeping us here?" asked Nancy, slowly
recovering from her astonishment.

"Until further orders are received from Washington."

"I haven't the faintest intention of staying here," announced Miss
Metoaca, with rising indignation. "We have passes from President
Lincoln to go to Winchester, and to Winchester I am going."

The lieutenant shook his head. "These orders supersede your passes. You
will both have to come with me."

"Indeed?" Miss Metoaca settled herself comfortably in her seat. "Then,
young man, you will have the pleasure of carrying me; for I do not
intend to walk out of this car until I reach my proper destination."

The lieutenant was equal to the occasion. "Go forward, conductor," he
ordered, "and tell the engineer to back this car on a siding in the
yard, then uncouple it from the train. Sergeant, conduct these
passengers," indicating the men who had gathered about them, "into the
next car."

"Wait," called Nancy, and the conductor stopped. "I am sure this
extraordinary order can be satisfactorily explained; so let us go
quietly with this officer, Aunt Metoaca. We must be dignified under our
arrest."

"Dignity? Who cares about dignity when one's personal liberty is in
question? I decline to leave this seat."

Nancy bent and whispered rapidly in her aunt's ear. At first her
communication was not taken in good part; then the spinster's face
cleared, and she rose.

"I will come with you," she volunteered graciously. "Go on ahead,
Lieutenant."

Bewildered by her sudden change of front, the young officer led the way
to the door, followed by both women, Goddard, and the sergeant. As Miss
Metoaca stepped from the car the guard closed round them. The conductor
deposited their hand luggage on the platform. "All aboard!" he shouted;
then signaled to his engineer, and with a rattle and roar the belated
train thundered out of the station.

"Where do you propose taking these ladies?" demanded Goddard.

"To the waiting room. They are to be detained here under guard until an
officer arrives from Washington on a special train to examine them."

"Do you know who this officer is?"

"Captain Lloyd, of the Secret Service. In there, ladies." He opened the
door of the empty waiting room, and with flashing eyes and heightened
color Miss Metoaca and Nancy disappeared inside the door. Goddard
started to follow them, but the lieutenant laid a detaining hand on his
arm as he closed the door. "Will you come with me, Major. I have orders
not to allow you to hold communication with the ladies."

Goddard stopped as if shot and glared at the embarrassed officer. The
silent passenger, who had carefully remained in the background during
the scene in the car, was following the two men, intent on listening to
their conversation, and he bumped into Goddard when he stopped so
abruptly. Goddard instantly turned and collared him.

"What the devil!" giving vent to his rage. "Why, Symonds," releasing
the Secret Service agent. "What brings you here?"

"Captain Lloyd's orders, sir," and Symonds saluted respectfully.



CHAPTER X

THE FORTUNES OF WAR


It was dreary waiting in the stuffy room. Miss Metoaca, who had
resigned herself to the inevitable after her recent explosion, was busy
knitting a talma, a round cape which, like Penelope's web, seemed to
the uninitiated to have no beginning and no end. She always carried it
with her in a voluminous pocket as she hated to be idle. Nancy, busy
with her own thoughts, sat gazing abstractedly at the dingy wall. The
tread of the sentries could be distinctly heard as they tramped back
and forth before the windows and door. The sergeant and Symonds sat by
the entrance, watching their prisoners closely. The piercing shriek of
a locomotive broke the stillness, and soon with a grinding of brakes
the special train came to a standstill in front of the depot. Symonds
and Lieutenant Field, of the Provost Guard, met Lloyd as he jumped to
the platform.

"Miss Newton and her niece are in the waiting room, Captain Lloyd,"
reported the lieutenant, "under guard. Their luggage is in the station
master's room awaiting your inspection."

"Good!" Lloyd's tone of satisfaction made Goddard's blood boil. Lloyd
turned to his silent friend, and held out his hand. "How are you, Bob?"

Goddard ignored the outstretched hand and the cordial greeting.

"What do you mean by this high-handed outrage, Captain Lloyd?" he
demanded bitterly.

Lloyd's eyes flashed. "Do not stretch my friendship too far, Bob. Your
apparent infatuation for that rebel spy"--Goddard winced perceptibly,
and his color heightened--"blinds your judgment. I give you fair
warning, sir, that if you interfere in any way in this affair you will
be placed in close arrest."

Without a word Goddard turned on his heel and walked to the further end
of the platform. Lloyd returned to the car, and joined two women who
stood waiting patiently by its side.

"This way, Miss Watt," and followed by both women he led the way to the
waiting room. Lieutenant Field threw open the door.

"Captain Lloyd," he announced.

Miss Metoaca's busy fingers stopped and she surveyed the newcomer from
head to foot, but Nancy never turned in his direction.

"What do you want?" inquired Miss Metoaca, seeing that neither of them
spoke.

"The copy of the despatch from the adjutant general's office dropped by
Colonel Mitchell last night."

"Haven't such a thing. Wouldn't know it if I saw it," snapped Miss
Metoaca.

"Symonds, you and the sergeant can step outside." Lloyd waited until
they were well out of hearing. "Miss Newton," turning directly to
Nancy, "you and I have met before."

Nancy raised her head and glanced closely at him. "Oh, yes," she said.
"I believe I have seen you once or twice."

"Twice?" Lloyd laughed. "I have a better memory than you. How about the
27th of December?"

Nancy looked at him in genuine surprise. "You speak in riddles," she
said disdainfully.

"I think you can solve this one," he touched the scar on his temple.
"The blow from your revolver kept me in the hospital for some time."

"Is the man crazy?" Miss Metoaca straightened indignantly in her chair.
"My niece does not go around knocking men on the head, though she has
broken some hearts."

"Come, Miss Newton, evasion will not help you," said Lloyd impatiently,
paying no attention to Miss Metoaca's remark. "I know you are a rebel
spy..."

"Do you know the meaning of the word 'spy'?" inquired Nancy hotly.

"Perfectly," briefly. "I have wasted quite enough time. Give me that
despatch!"

"What despatch?"

Lloyd lost all patience. "Once for all, do you intend to give me that
despatch, or not?"

Nancy shrugged her shoulders. "It is impossible to give what we do not
possess."

Lloyd strode to the door and beckoned to the two women standing in the
hall.

"Search these ladies," he directed, pointing to Miss Metoaca and Nancy,
"and see that you search them thoroughly. I am positive the older lady
is padded." Miss Metoaca's face was a study. "If they give you any
trouble I will send in a guard to assist you," and with this parting
threat he walked out of the room and banged the door to behind him.

"Don't you lay a finger on me," ordered Miss Metoaca belligerently. "If
you do I will box your ears!"

"What good would that do you?" asked Miss Watt practically. "I guess
you would rather have me than one of the men undress you. Do be
reasonable."

"Yes, Aunt Metoaca, let us get it over and done with." Nancy's face was
white, and she looked with frightened eyes at the two women. "President
Lincoln shall hear of this outrage."

"He shall!" Miss Metoaca's tone spoke volumes as she reluctantly began
undressing.

Deftly the women detectives went about their work. Nothing escaped
their notice. Garments were held up to the light to see if anything lay
concealed in the linings, some were ripped open; their shoes were
examined with care. Nothing was discovered.

"I hope you are satisfied," snapped Miss Metoaca, hot in spirit, but
decidedly cold physically. "I do not enjoy impersonating Eve. Give me
those underclothes at once!"

Miss Watt handed her the necessary articles. "Take down your hair," she
directed.

Miss Metoaca stopped dressing, one stocking suspended in air.

"What?" she exclaimed indignantly. "Is nothing above suspicion?" She
whirled around and saw the other detective cutting open a pincushion.
"Mercy sakes, what do you think you will find in that?"

"Quinine," answered the woman curtly. But her search was not rewarded,
and she threw the useless pincushion on the floor.

Without a word Nancy let down her hair. It fell in profusion over her
shoulders and down her back. Quickly the detective ran her fingers over
the girl's head. Without further ado Miss Watt did the same with Miss
Metoaca's scant gray locks.

"You can put on your clothes," she said, more kindly, and with skillful
fingers she assisted Miss Metoaca into her dress, and helped her
arrange her hair.

"Well!" Miss Metoaca drew a long breath. "I have been through a good
deal in my life, but I reckon this beats creation. I look like a
scarecrow! Nancy, are you ready? Yes. Then, perhaps, Miss Watt, you
will be good enough to inform that apology for a gentleman, Captain
Lloyd, that I would like to see him."

Lloyd came at once in answer to the detective's call. His face fell
when she declared nothing had been found of a suspicious nature, and no
trace of the missing despatch.

"Do you mean to say Miss Metoaca Newton was not padded?" he asked
incredulously.

"No, sir," Miss Watt hesitated. A slow smile passed over her sharp
face. "That is just natural development," she added.

Nancy turned and addressed Lloyd. "This farce is played out. I demand
our instant release from this humiliating situation."

Lloyd pondered for a moment. His thorough search of their luggage had
revealed nothing compromising. Apparently the Newtons were innocent. He
had no authority to keep them under arrest unless he had found positive
evidence of their guilt. He thought over the situation quickly, and
came to a sudden decision.

"If I have put you to annoyance, it was but in the line of duty," he
said gravely. "Accept my apologies, ladies."

"Seems to me they come a little late in the day," retorted Miss
Metoaca, struggling into her wrap. "Are we at liberty to go to a hotel,
if there is such a thing near this depot?"

"I am going on to Winchester, and will take you both there in my
special car." Lloyd led the way to the platform. "Miss Watt, a train
leaves for Washington in half an hour which you and your companion can
take. On your arrival report at once to Colonel Baker."

They found Goddard waiting at the steps of the car.

"I hope you suffered no indignities, Miss Metoaca," he asked, assisting
her up the high steps; then, without waiting for an answer, he turned
eagerly to Nancy, who colored hotly as she placed her hand for one
second in his before entering the car.



CHAPTER XI

WHO LAUGHS LAST


The trip to Winchester was uneventful. The country through which they
passed had been made desolate by the contending armies; and Nancy gazed
sad-eyed at the ruined homes and wasted fields. War, grim war, had
devastated the entire valley.

Miss Metoaca spent most of her time repairing the rents made in her
wardrobe by Miss Watt and her assistant, and she ignored Lloyd's
existence with studied insolence. Goddard tried to engage Nancy in a
low-toned conversation, but she did not respond to his overtures; so,
tired and worried over the whole situation, he went to the farther end
of the car and found what comfort he could with a cigar.

The station master and regular detail of soldiers were at Stephenson's
Depot when the special train reached its destination. On inquiry
Goddard learned from the officer in command of the detachment that the
usual escort had come from Winchester for the mail and supplies brought
by the regular train, which had arrived several hours ahead of them.

"Captain Gurley was very much excited when the conductor told him the
Misses Newton, whom he had come to meet, were detained at Harper's
Ferry," continued the officer. "He had to return to Winchester. He said
he would ride back here, or send an escort for you if he learned by
wire to Harper's Ferry that the ladies would reach here to-night."

"Is there any conveyance I can get to take these ladies over to
Winchester?" inquired Goddard.

"Ole Miss Page sent her mules an' road wagon," volunteered the station
master, "for them. Captain Gurley left your hoss hitched under the shed
across the street, Major, thinkin' if you came through sooner than he
could get back you'd want him. I reckon you'll find Miss Page's
worthless nigger boy asleep in the shed, too, 'cause I tole him he
couldn't loaf 'round here."

"I will stay with the ladies, Bob," said Lloyd. "You and Symonds go for
your horse and the mules."

Goddard turned over an empty crate. "Better sit on this, Miss Metoaca,"
he advised, noting the lines of fatigue in the spinster's haggard face.
"There is room for you, too, Miss Nancy. Symonds, come with me," and
the two men hastened across the road to the tumbled down shed.

Goddard's mare, Brown Betty, welcomed him with a whinny of delight, and
he stopped a moment to caress her. The mules, harnessed to an open
two-seated wagon, were hitched beside his horse, but there was no sign
of the negro driver.

"You will have to drive them, Symonds," said Goddard, pulling the
blanket off his mare, and tightening the saddle girths. "Here,
Sergeant," as that worthy approached, "help back these mules out into
the street."

It took some moments to induce the mules to move at all, but by dint of
much whipping and shouting the animals were finally made to mind. Once
out of the shed, Symonds had no difficulty in driving up to the depot,
where Goddard soon joined him, leading his horse.

"The darky has disappeared," he explained briefly to Miss Metoaca, as
he helped her and Nancy into the back seat and covered them with the
warm laprobes that were in the bottom of the wagon.

"Captain Lloyd," Miss Metoaca leaned forward with the inborn breeding
inherited from generations of gentle blood, "you appear to have no way
of reaching Winchester except by foot. May I offer you the fourth seat
in this wagon?"

Lloyd colored as he raised his hat. "Thank you, madam." He caught
Nancy's mocking smile, and murmured: "Is it to be an armed truce?"

"Why look on me as an enemy?" she retorted calmly.

Without answering, Lloyd seated himself by Symonds, and they started
slowly off. Goddard stayed a moment to exchange a few more words with
the officer stationed at the depot, then put spurs to his mare, and
soon overtook the rest of his party.

The winter day was drawing to a close, and dusk was falling as they
left the last cluster of houses behind them. The mules were old and
poorly fed. It was impossible to get them to move faster than a
jog-trot. They had gone some distance when Goddard saw a small
detachment of cavalry approaching, leisurely walking their horses along
the road from Winchester. Their blue uniforms reassured him, and he
rode forward to meet the sergeant, and recognized on nearer view the
insignia of his corps on the latter's uniform.

"Did Captain Gurley send you to escort these ladies?" he asked, as the
sergeant spurred up and saluted.

"Yes, Major."

Goddard turned and beckoned to Symonds, who had stopped some yards in
the rear. "What do you mean by letting your men straggle so along the
road?" he demanded sharply. "Have them close up."

The sergeant again saluted, and wheeled his horse just behind
Goddard's. "Close up, men!" he ordered. "Close up!"

Obediently the cavalrymen trotted to their places on either side of the
wagon, and Symonds urged his mules to their utmost speed to keep up
with the escort.

"How far are we from Winchester, Bob?" called Lloyd.

"About...." Goddard's words died in his throat as a strong hand seized
his bridle rein, and he looked into the barrel of the sergeant's army
revolver. Swiftly his right hand sought his own revolver, and he fired
from his hip, but the sudden rearing of his startled mare spoiled his
aim. The next instant his weapon was wrenched from him by a trooper who
had dashed to the sergeant's assistance, and his arms were pinioned
behind his back. At the same moment Lloyd and Symonds were covered by
the revolvers of the cavalrymen on either side of the wagon.

"Resistance is useless," called the sergeant. "Stop those mules!"

His orders were instantly obeyed. Lloyd, realizing that he was
helpless, sank back into his seat.

"Who the ---- are you?" roared Goddard, as the men, with no gentle
hand, searched him for other weapons.

"Willard Tucker, Captain, C.S.A., now serving with Colonel Mosby," was
the quiet reply. "We were reconnoitring when we met your party, Major,
and you obligingly asked us to 'close up.'"

Goddard inwardly cursed his own stupidity. He remembered, too late,
that it was a favorite trick of Mosby's guerillas to disguise
themselves in Federal uniforms and raid the mail and supply trains.

"Where are you taking us?" he inquired as, obedient to an order from
Captain Tucker, the squad wheeled to the left at the fork of the roads.

"To Mosby," was the brief response. "Your name and regiment, and the
names of your companions, Major?"

Goddard quickly supplied the desired information, and Tucker rode up to
the wagon. "I am sorry to inconvenience you, ladies," he said, "but I
must take you with me to headquarters."

Miss Metoaca and Nancy had sat spellbound watching Goddard's capture
with startled eyes.

"Very well," said Miss Metoaca, with resignation, drawing a long
breath. "Apparently it is as difficult for me to get to Winchester as
it is for our troops to enter Richmond."

Tucker laughed as he leaned forward and addressed Symonds.

"If you try to drive anywhere but in the direction I tell you you will
be instantly shot; and you, too, Captain Lloyd," he added sternly.

Symonds nodded glumly. Both he and Lloyd had been searched and their
revolvers taken from them. Escape just then appeared to be out of the
question. They were but three men against twenty guerillas. It was
impossible to make the old mules go faster than a jog-trot; while the
rebels were well mounted. Goddard, with his arms bound behind him, rode
with a trooper on either side, each holding one of his reins.

After about an hour's ride over a rough road, that was really nothing
more than a cow path, they turned to the east until they reached a
creek.

Tucker shouted an order to his men, then turned to Miss Metoaca.

"We will bivouac in the woods yonder, near this ford," he said
courteously. "It is impossible for us to reach Mosby to-night."

The rough and ready camp was soon organized, and a special shelter was
arranged for Miss Metoaca and Nancy on the extreme left of the camp
fire. They had watched the preparations with interest and, glad of the
warmth of the fire, sat as near it as they conveniently could while a
hasty meal was being cooked.

From the first moment of their capture Lloyd had watched Nancy like a
lynx. Not a movement of her hands had escaped him. Had she planned
their capture? If so, she would be sure to betray herself by some overt
act or word. What treatment would Tucker accord her? Would he consider
her a prisoner of war, or--a friend? They had met as strangers. Lloyd
gave his parole so that he might keep Nancy under constant
surveillance.

While these thoughts were occupying Lloyd Goddard was busy puzzling his
brain for a way to escape. He might chance a dash for the open later
on. Brown Betty was picketed near him, but there were Miss Metoaca and
Nancy to be considered. He could not desert them. No plan seemed
feasible; he would have to bide his time, and see what the fortunes of
war would bring forth. He had just reached this conclusion when Captain
Tucker approached him.

"If you will give me your parole not to attempt escape," he said, "I
will have your arms freed."

Goddard thought quickly. "I promise--until to-morrow morning," he
agreed reluctantly.

Tucker called one of the guerillas, and with his assistance released
Goddard, who rubbed his stiff arms until the blood again circulated
freely.

"Come over by the fire and have some supper," suggested the rebel
captain, and with a muttered word of thanks Goddard hastened to join
his friends. Nancy made room for him beside her.

"Don't be so down-hearted," she whispered, handing him a piece of
corn-pone. "Our fate might be worse. I feel sure we will escape
somehow."

"You are a brave girl to take it that way," he answered, and his eyes
kindled with admiration. "I wonder how many men would have gone through
this morning's humiliating experience and to-night's capture with such
pluck."

Nancy laughed softly. "It is well you judge me from the exterior. I
assure you I am 'all av a trimble,' and my heart quakes with fear of
what the future may have in store for me," and she glanced anxiously at
the rough men about her.

"Miss Newton, won't you sing for us?" called Captain Tucker across the
camp fire. "It is not often we capture ladies, and I am longing for the
sound of a woman's voice."

"Do," pleaded Goddard, low in Nancy's ear.

She hesitated before answering; then: "Certainly, Captain Tucker,
provided you will sing first."

"Agreed." Tucker cleared his throat, thought a moment, then began:

    'Tis years since last we met,
      And we may not meet again,
    I have struggled to forget,
      But the struggle was in vain.
    For her voice lives on the breeze,
      And her spirit comes at will;
    In the midnight, on the seas,
      Her bright smile haunts me still!

Dropping their various occupations the guerillas drew in about the camp
fire as the familiar words of the famous rebel song reached them. Few
joined in the chorus; they were busy thinking of their sweethearts and
wives far away. Tucker glanced appealingly at Nancy as he began the
next verse, but her face was averted.

    I have sailed 'neath alien skies,
      I have trod the desert path,
    I have seen the storm arise
      Like a giant in his wrath;
    Every danger I have known,
      That a reckless life can fill;
    Yet her presence has not flown,
      Her bright smile haunts me still!

A round of applause rang out as Tucker's rich tenor voice ceased.

"Be quiet, you fellows," he directed. "Now, Miss Newton, I hold you to
your promise."

Nancy looked about her. The fire had not been replenished, and the
darkness was creeping in. It was difficult to clearly distinguish each
man's face by the flickering light from the hot embers, but Goddard's
expression caught her attention. Her woman's intuition read, and read
aright, what he but dimly realized.

A burning blush dyed Nancy's pale cheeks, and for a moment her heart
beat more rapidly; then sank. She was a rebel--a spy; he a--ah, not
hated--Yankee--a gallant, _honorable_ foe. She must not encourage
him. That should not be charged against her when the reckoning came.
The old words, "he who breaks--pays," recurred to her. Let hers be the
pain, not his. She forgot "My Old Kentucky Home," instead came the
words:

    Take back the heart that thou gavest,
      What is my anguish to thee?
    Take back the freedom thou cravest,
      Leaving the fetters to me.
    Take back the vows thou hast spoken,
      Fling them aside and be free.

Her eyes caught and held Goddard's. Would he understand?

    Smile o'er each pitiful token,
      Leaving the sorrow for me;
    Drink deep of life's fond illusion,
      Gaze on the storm-cloud and flee
    Swiftly, through strife and confusion,
      Leaving the burden to me.

Not a man stirred as her glorious voice died away. Goddard's eyes fell,
and he prodded the ground viciously with nervous fingers. His mouth was
set in stubborn lines. No one spoke. Goddard roused himself. One quick
compelling look at Nancy and his fine baritone voice took up the song
she had left unfinished:

    Then when at last, overtaken,
      Time flings its fetters o'er thee,
    Come, with a trust still unshaken,
      Come back a captive to me.
    Come back in sadness or sorrow,
      Once more my darling to be.

    Come as of old, love, to borrow
      Glimpses of sunlight from me.
    Love shall resume her dominion,
      Striving no more to be free,
    When on her world-weary pinion,
      Flies back my lost love to me.

"Good, Major, good," exclaimed Tucker heartily, as the applause rang
out. "Do sing again, Miss Newton?"

Miss Metoaca answered for Nancy. "Not to-night, Captain Tucker. We have
had a trying day and are completely worn out. With your permission we
will go to our tent."

"Of course, Miss Newton," exclaimed Tucker, springing to his feet. "You
and your niece are at liberty to walk about the camp, provided you do
not approach the picket line."

"Thanks," Miss Metoaca's tone was dry. "Coming, Nancy? Good night,
gentlemen," and she stalked to her temporary shelter with as much
dignity as the uneven ground permitted.

Nancy rose, bade Tucker a courteous good night and, accompanied by
Goddard, followed her aunt.

"Good night, Major," she said, and turned to enter the canvas shelter.

Goddard took her half extended hand in both of his.

"One moment," he implored, in so low a tone that she barely heard the
words. "Did you intend that song to have an especial meaning for me?
_Did you?_"

Nancy simply bowed her head in an affirmative.

Goddard drew a deep breath. His eyes scanned her face yearningly.

"No man or circumstance shall part us," he said grimly.

"You forget, sir, that it is my privilege to choose my friends and
acquaintances."

The accent on the last word was unmistakable. Goddard paled under his
tan.

"Do you dislike me?" he demanded.

"Yes."

Goddard could not see the effort the monosyllable cost her. In bitter
disappointment he dropped her hand. As Nancy turned abruptly away she
tripped over the root of a tree. Instantly Goddard caught and steadied
her. Her soft hair brushed his cheek ... one breathless moment ... he
clasped her in his arms and showered kisses on the face pressed against
his shoulder. Desperately Nancy wrenched herself free and disappeared
inside the tent. With shining eyes and bounding pulse he rejoined
Tucker and Lloyd by the camp fire.

Some hours later Goddard awoke from an uneasy sleep. At first,
bewildered by his surroundings, he lay without moving; then gradually
the occurrences of that day recurred to him. His thoughts flew to
Nancy, and raising himself on his elbow, he glanced in the direction of
her improvised shelter some distance to his left.

In the stillness the snores of the sleeping men sounded clearly; surely
it had not been that which had awakened him? As his eyes grew
accustomed to the darkness he saw dimly the outlines of a man's figure
approach Nancy's tent and disappear behind it. He was wide awake on the
instant. Some midnight marauder was trying to enter her tent. The
pickets were far away. Captain Tucker, knowing they were within the
Confederate lines, had relaxed his vigilance, and the camp was but
lightly guarded.

Goddard wasted no time in idle speculation. He slid out of his blanket;
then softly, very softly, crouching behind each bush he stole toward
the tent. Then cautiously, on hands and knees, he crept around it. He
was about to rise when fingers closed over his throat, and a heavy body
fell upon him. Silently the two men struggled in the little clearing.
Goddard's eyes were starting from his head as the pressure tightened on
his windpipe. His breath came in panting gasps. With strength born of
desperation he tore the gripping hands away, and the fresh air rushed
into his stifled lungs.

"Lloyd! Lloyd! Help!" he gasped. His weak voice did not carry far; but
the figure above him stiffened.

"My God! Is it you, Bob?" whispered Lloyd. "We have been fighting each
other." He slid off Goddard's body, and assisted him to sit up.

"What--what--in blazes did you jump on me for?" demanded Goddard, in a
hoarse whisper, tenderly feeling his aching throat.

"I did not know it was you, Bob. I have been dozing off and on; and
suddenly heard a faint noise in this direction. Thinking it might be
Tucker trying to communicate unseen with Miss Newton, I stole over
here. When you came creeping around the corner there I sprang on you."

"Have you still got that bee in your bonnet?" whispered Goddard
scornfully. "When will your persecution of that girl cease? Your search
this morning proved she hadn't any despatch. Besides, you did not
actually see her pick up that said despatch in Gautier's; you simply
jumped to that conclusion because the despatch was not on the floor
when you reached their table. Any one might have picked it up. Now, we
both have proof that she has not communicated with Tucker. We mistook
each other for him, that is all. Let's go back to our blankets." His
advice was good, and Lloyd followed it.

Inside the tent, a girl, sad at heart, crouched against the canvas; her
fingers felt around the _empty_ hole in one of her pear-shaped
earrings. As she deftly fitted the two halves together into one pendant
she crooned softly:

    Better the fire upon thee roll,
    Better the blade, the shot, the bowl,
    Than crucifixion of the soul,
        Maryland! My Maryland!



CHAPTER XII

THE FIGHT AT THE FORD


The sentry slackened his walk and rubbed his sleepy eyes. It was almost
time for his relief. He glanced behind him at the motionless figures
lying around the ashes of the camp fire. If it had been a bivouac of
the dead the silence could not have been more profound. Even Lloyd had
dropped into the heavy sleep that comes in the early hours of the
morning. The guerilla gazed for a moment at the other sentries, dim
shadowy forms in the early dawn; then continued on his way. He had
almost reached the evergreen which marked the end of his patrol, when a
faint, very faint, sound in the woods to his left caused him to wheel
in that direction. Surely something moved among the trees. Instantly
his challenge rang out:

"Who goes there? Halt! _Halt!_ or I fire!"

A flash--a loud report! Tucker sprang to his feet as the camp awoke.

"Up, men, up!" he roared. "Secure the prisoners; then mount."

Goddard, who had jumped up, stood bewildered for a second; then dashed
toward Nancy's tent. A burly guerilla clutched him by the shoulder, but
Goddard sent him reeling back with a well directed blow, and continued
his race to the tent. He must shield Nancy.

"Stop, Goddard!" thundered Tucker. "Remember your parole."

"No parole holds in the presence of a rescue," panted Goddard. "Lloyd,
Lloyd, this way, man!"

Frightened by the sudden commotion and firing, Nancy stepped out of the
tent, followed by Miss Metoaca, and paused, uncertain where to go, or
what to do. To his horror, Goddard saw a guerilla seize her roughly and
push her toward the plunging, frightened horses. Miss Metoaca screamed.

With a bound Goddard threw himself forward and grappled with the man,
who knocked Nancy roughly to one side the better to tackle the Union
officer. Reeling backward and forward, the two men fought locked in a
close embrace. The guerilla grasped an old pistol in his right hand,
and tried desperately to use it; but Goddard kept its muzzle turned
skyward, and gradually forced the man's arm, folded, against the
other's chest. Suddenly the guerilla tripped and stumbled backward,
carrying Goddard down on top of him as he fell. A flash, a deafening
report; the red-hot flame seared Goddard's face and forehead, and he
sank into oblivion.

Tucker, whose right arm dangled helpless by his side, tried desperately
to rally his men. They had sought what shelter they could and were
returning the enemies' fire frantically.

"Secure the prisoners!" he shouted again and again. "Then to horse!"

Before his orders could be obeyed the Federals came crashing, bounding
through the trees. The guerillas sent a volley into the advancing men;
then turned and dashed for their horses. One moment of wild confusion,
and they were in full flight, pursued by the cheering Federals. Tucker,
seeing it was hopeless, dug spurs into his horse and raced after his
men.

"Bob, Bob, where are you?" bellowed a stentorian voice, and a tall
figure came sprinting toward the camp fire.

"Here," called Nancy. She was crouching by Goddard's body. Captain
Gurley sped in the direction of her voice.

"Nancy," he gasped. "Safe, thank God! But--where's Bob?"

"Here," Nancy again bent over the motionless man. "I--I--am afraid he
is dead." The hopeless misery of her voice was not noticed by Gurley,
who had dropped on his knees beside Goddard.

[Illustration: "'I--I--am afraid he is dead.'"]

"This light may help you." Miss Metoaca reappeared on the scene with a
candle in her hand. "The daylight is too dim in these woods to tell
what is the matter with the major, so I went to get this candle out of
my bag. Why, John, where did you drop from?"

"Winchester," was the brief reply, as Gurley examined Goddard's
condition. "Belden, one of Colonel Young's spies, saw your capture. He
followed you some distance to discover which road you took, then
returned to the cantonment and reported. I was ordered in pursuit, and
brought Belden with me. He knows this country by heart, so we were able
to steal up on the camp and surprise the guerillas."

"It was splendidly done," declared Lloyd, who had silently approached
in time to hear Gurley's last remarks. "I cannot express my thanks and
admiration for your gallant rescue." Seeing Gurley's start of surprise
and suspicion, he hastened to add: "I am Captain George Lloyd, of the
Secret Service"; then in another tone, "Is Bob badly hurt?"

"Can't tell yet," grunted Gurley. Nancy was gently wiping the
powder-stained and bleeding face with some water which Symonds had
brought her. "I think he is only stunned. Apparently the bullet did not
penetrate; these are only flesh wounds," touching Goddard's face
tenderly. "The powder has burned off his eyebrows, too. Miss Metoaca,
have you any clothes which I can use for bandages?"

Without answering, the spinster hastened to her tent; she returned in a
few moments with the necessary article and, pulling the edges of the
wounds together, Gurley bandaged them as best he could.

"Won't a sip of this do him good?" inquired Miss Metoaca, unscrewing
the stopper of a small flask. Lloyd forced some of the brandy down
Goddard's throat. Quickly the stimulant took effect, and his eyelids
fluttered faintly.

"He will come round all right," said Gurley, much relieved. "How soon
can you and Nancy be ready to start for Winchester, Miss Metoaca?"

"We are ready now," was the prompt reply, "for we did not undress or
unpack our bags last night."

"Good. Then we will leave at once; for we must get back inside our
lines as quickly as possible. Mosby will hear of this skirmish, and may
send a superior force after us. By the way, Miss Metoaca, did you ride
or drive from Stevenson's Depot?"

"Drove in an open two-seated wagon."

"In that case I will put Major Goddard in the wagon with you. And you,
Captain Lloyd?"

"If you will permit me, I will ride Major Goddard's mare; that is, if
she hasn't been stampeded, or carried off by the guerillas. Symonds, my
assistant, who drove the ladies, can surely drive them back."

"All right." Gurley nodded curtly. "I see no objection to that plan.
Will you assist the ladies in getting their belongings into the wagon?
I must see if there are any casualties among our men. Orderly, stay
here with Major Goddard, and let me know instantly if he regains
consciousness."

The troopers were returning from their fruitless pursuit of the
guerillas, and they congregated about the lieutenant, who was busy
examining the prisoners.

"Nine prisoners, Captain," he reported, as Gurley strode up. "Wounded,
but not badly enough to prevent their riding. Five guerillas were
killed, and three of our men. They are lying yonder," pointing to a
clump of trees.

"Were any of our men wounded?"

"Three have flesh wounds--nothing serious."

"Then bury the dead as quickly as you can...."

"Is Major Goddard dead?" inquired the lieutenant anxiously, not waiting
for his superior to finish his sentence.

"No, indeed," cheerily, "simply stunned by the explosion of an old
pistol before his face. Sergeant, take some men and carry Major Goddard
over to that wagon standing by the roadside."

Symonds had removed one of the long cushions belonging to the back
wagon seat, and the men carefully lifted Goddard on it, and carried him
as gently as possible and placed him in the wagon.

"Sit here, Nancy," directed Gurley, "and hold on to Bob; otherwise I am
afraid he will fall out."

Nancy sprang into the wagon and made Goddard as comfortable as she
could. Miss Metoaca, who had been occupied in putting her luggage under
the seat, clambered into the vehicle and sat down by Symonds. The mules
had been hitched to the wagon by the sergeant and two troopers.

"All ready, Miss Metoaca?" asked Gurley, tucking the laprobe around the
spinster. "Bugler, sound 'Boots and Saddles.'"

As the call ended man after man filed out into the path leading his
horse, and the ranks were rapidly formed by Sergeant Crane. A few swift
orders, and the troop started on their return trip to Winchester, the
wagon, followed by the mounted prisoners, in their midst.



CHAPTER XIII

FOR THE CAUSE


Captain Gurley pushed open the rickety gate impatiently, and strode up
the walk to "Page Hall" with jingling spurs and clanking saber. The
rambling old house, with shutters askew, bore mute testimony to the
fallen fortunes of its owner. The paint was peeling off the tall
pillars, and the boards of the gallery shook ominously under Gurley's
weight.

"Miss Page done say yo' was ter walk inter de pawler, Marse Cap'in,"
said the old darky, bowing and scraping on the threshold of the open
door, "an' Miss Nancy'll be down d'reckly."

Gurley followed the old man in to the big, square room, and waited with
what patience he could muster for Nancy's appearance. When she finally
entered the room she was dressed for walking.

"Do you think the authorities would allow me to send a telegram, John?"
she asked, after a few words of greeting.

"I don't know, Nancy; Colonel Smith is very strict. But I can ask him.
Is it important?"

"Aunt Metoaca has just received a letter from our cousin, Mrs. Green,
saying that her house was burned to the ground, and she is homeless. So
Aunty wants to telegraph her to go to our house, and that we will
return to Washington at once."

Gurley's face fell. "Oh, don't say you are going away. I am sorry about
Mrs. Green's misfortune; but surely your servants can take care of her
in your absence?"

"Mrs. Green is a cripple, and we fear the shock and exposure at the
time of the fire may make her ill. Aunt Metoaca also feels that she
should be with her cousin in case she is financially embarrassed by her
loss."

"I will escort you to the telegraph office, Nancy, and try and arrange
to have your despatch sent at once. But I call it beastly hard luck,"
grumbled Gurley, as they sauntered through Miss Page's garden and into
the main street of the town. "I have hardly seen a thing of you; you
spend your entire time with Bob Goddard...."

"Reading to him," supplemented Nancy calmly. "It is the least I can do,
John, when you think that he was injured in trying to protect me."

"I wish to gracious my eyes had been blinded by the explosion of that
pistol," exclaimed Gurley bitterly. "Then perhaps I might have enjoyed
some of your society."

"For shame!" Nancy stopped and glared indignantly at her companion. "Do
you think my society compensates for a ruined career? Think of being
doomed to a life of dependence upon others--in darkness for the rest of
your days!"

"It must be horrible," agreed Gurley contritely. "I spoke hastily,
Nancy, and without thought. Doesn't the surgeon hold out any hope that
Bob may recover his sight?"

"He has advised Major Goddard to consult Doctor Boyd, and I think he
expects to return to Washington soon to be under the latter's care."

"I sincerely hope he recovers. Goddard is too fine a fellow to have his
life blasted by such a fate," said Gurley earnestly, ashamed of his
churlishness. "I did hope, Nancy, that you would remain in Winchester
for the fox-hunt on the 28th. Colonel Young has secured three red
foxes, and a large pack of hounds from the people in the neighborhood.
It promises to be great sport. Do postpone going away until March."

"I wish I could, John, but I fear it is out of the question. Is this
the place?"

"Yes; this way."

The sentry in front of the house paused and inspected them carefully,
then, recognizing Gurley, allowed them to pass. Gurley held the door
open for Nancy, and stepped after her into the room. She glanced with
interest at her surroundings; the bare walls, worn pine furniture, the
operators' tables with their telegraph equipments, the shelves of
batteries, and at the half dozen men who filled the room. Seeing a
woman in their midst all conversation ceased, and the officers rose and
hurriedly pulled on coats and removed hats. Considerably embarrassed,
Nancy hesitated, and Gurley came to her rescue.

"Colonel Smith," he said, saluting a tall gray-haired officer who stood
by the stove, "this is Miss Newton. She has a pass from President
Lincoln to Winchester, and is visiting her relative, Miss Lindsay Page.
Miss Newton desires to send a telegram to Washington for her aunt, Miss
Metoaca Newton, who is also visiting Miss Page."

"I already know your aunt, Miss Newton." The colonel advanced and shook
hands warmly. "What is the message you wish to send?" He listened
attentively to Nancy's explanation. "If that is all, Miss Newton, I
will have the despatch sent to Washington as soon as the wires are
free. Wilson, will you clear that table and give Miss Newton some paper
and ink. Now, if you will sit here," pushing a chair before the table,
"you can write your despatch at your leisure."

"Thank you, Colonel!" Nancy bowed gravely to the officers who made way
for her, and, seating herself, she toyed with the pen a moment.

The officers reseated themselves and resumed their interrupted chat,
glancing covertly at Nancy as often as they could. Colonel Smith and
Gurley were standing by the window so deep in conversation that neither
noticed the flight of time.

Nancy wrote down Mrs. Green's temporary address in Washington; then
paused to compose her message. The telegraph instruments kept up an
incessant clicking. Almost subconsciously she listened to the
instrument nearest her; apparently the sender was having trouble in
getting his message over the wire. A dash--two dots--another dash--then
quickly the instrument woke to full life, and Nancy realized with fast
beating heart that she was reading off a despatch of vital importance
with the same ease as the Union operator who was receiving it. Her
lessons in the War Department in Richmond were not wasted.

With a desperate effort Nancy controlled herself, and sat with
impassive face as she dallied with her pen. The instrument stopped
sounding, the despatch was given to a waiting orderly, and Nancy wrote
a few words on a fresh piece of paper and signed her aunt's name. Then
she rose.

"I hope this message is not too long," she said, handing the paper to
Colonel Smith. "It took me some time to condense my aunt's message."

"It is all right. I will see that it is sent myself. Please give my
compliments to your aunt," and the gallant colonel escorted her to the
door.

"I have to see Colonel Edwards a moment, Nancy," said Gurley, as they
started to retrace their steps to Miss Page's. "Do you mind going to
his house with me?"

"Oh, no."

"This way, then. Do you see much of Captain Lloyd?"

"No," Nancy was devoutly thankful for the fact. "Why do you ask?"

"His face puzzles me--an elusive likeness to some one I have known
formerly, and whose name I cannot for the life of me recollect. I have
an idea the fellow avoids me."

"Perhaps ..." A man in nondescript clothes slouched along the sidewalk
just ahead of Nancy. As he stepped back to allow her room to pass he
straightened up and looked her squarely in the face. Nancy's voice died
in her throat.

"What did you say, Nancy?" asked Gurley, whose attention had been
diverted by the bolting of a horse down the crowded street.

Nancy's lips were dry and she moistened them with her tongue before
answering. "Perhaps Major Goddard can tell you something about Captain
Lloyd. They seem to be warm friends."

"That's a good idea. I will ask Bob the next time I see him alone."
They stopped before an old mansion which Colonel Edwards had taken for
his quarters, and Gurley led the way inside the broad hall. "Now,
Nancy, if you will wait in this side room," conducting her across the
hall, "no one will disturb you here."

"Don't be long, John."

"I won't," and Gurley carefully shut the door behind him as he went
out.

Nancy walked over to the window, raised the curtain and looked out into
the street. The stranger in nondescript clothes was standing in front
of the house talking to the corporal of the guard. He produced a soiled
paper, at sight of which the corporal signed to him to enter. Nancy,
sure that she had been seen by him, dropped the curtain into place and
returned to the mantel. She drew out a piece of paper and a small
pencil and, leaning on the mantel, wrote rapidly. She had just finished
when the hall door was cautiously opened. Quickly she crumpled the
paper in her hand; then, seeing the intruder's face, she stepped into
the center of the room. The man entered and closed the door gently
behind him.

"George!" Nancy's voice was no more than a whisper. Are you mad?
Suppose you are recognized?"

"It is not likely to happen. Don't be so worried, Nancy," the
Confederate moved swiftly to her side and caught her outstretched hand
in both of his. "One of Young's spies was captured inside our lines. I
am using his pass and his clothes. Believe me, I am running no
unnecessary risks. Tucker told me you were here. I laid my plans
carefully, so as not to involve you if my disguise is penetrated. Have
you any news for us?"

"This despatch has just come for Sheridan; it is of vital importance,"
Nancy unrolled the paper. "It is in cipher. I have not had time to
translate it, so just jotted down the words and put the key at the
bottom."

"Good." The Confederate took the paper and concealed it about his
person. "General Lee has recommended arming the blacks."

"What!"

"It has become a military necessity," briefly. "Columbia has surrendered
to Sherman; we have evacuated Charleston, and the Yanks under General
Gilmore are occupying the city. All the ammunition and provisions
stored there and in the vicinity were destroyed." Nancy uttered an
exclamation. "We are in such straits we cannot find money to replace
the loss," went on Pegram bitterly. "Our currency," he shrugged his
shoulders expressively, "in Richmond gold is 4,400 per cent, premium;
the women and children are suffering daily privations there which----"

"George, can't you take me with you to Richmond?" broke in Nancy
passionately. "I will gladly endure all and every privation; for I am
sick, _sick_ of worming secrets from trusting friends, and spying upon
those who shelter me."

George Pegram looked at her aghast. "Nancy, Nancy, what are you saying?"
Then, glancing more keenly at her, "You are over-wrought, child. You
won't feel the same after a good night's rest."

"_Rest_, did you say? I feel as if I could never rest in peace again. I
tell you, George, I am living under the shadow of the gallows. At night
I dream the noose is fastened about my throat, and wake myself feeling
for the rope."

"Poor child!" He stroked Nancy's hair soothingly. "You have done us
inestimable service. Lee told me that he had the greatest admiration
for your ability and pluck."

Nancy smiled wanly. "Thanks, George, for telling me that. But I fear my
days of usefulness are over; I am already suspected. Captain Lloyd, of
the Secret Service, is dogging my footsteps, waiting and watching for a
fatal slip on my part, so far without success. But you know the fate of
the pitcher that went too often to the well."

"I will back your quick wits against any man's. But I never thought to
find you lacking in courage, Nancy."

Stung by his tone, she drew back. "How dare you say such a thing! I am
not afraid to face danger. It's--it's--this life of deceit that is
killing me."

"The end justifies the means, Nancy. Remember your oath to a dying
man."

"I have remembered," proudly, "and in keeping it have forgotten sex,
and played the part of a man. But," more calmly, "I can be of little
use now that I am suspected."

"You are wrong, Nancy. We are fighting against time now. Soon, very
soon, the Confederate States of America will be recognized by the
foreign powers. Lee has come to the conclusion that Petersburg and
Richmond must be abandoned; that only in the mountainous regions upon
the borders of Virginia and North Carolina can the war be protracted.
He wishes to get his army safely out of Petersburg. Therefore, it is
imperative that we know Grant's plans so that we can checkmate them.
Your place is in Washington, Nancy. Your father gave his life for the
Cause, would you do less?"

"He died an honorable death--while I----" Nancy's voice broke; then in
a different tone: "You must go, George, every moment may increase your
danger. Tell General Lee I am still fighting for the Cause."

"For the Cause!" echoed her companion. "It claims us all! God bless
you, Nancy."

He threw his arms about her and, stooping, pressed his lips to her
white cheek; then stood transfixed as the hall door swung slowly open,
disclosing a Union officer facing them on the threshold. Nancy's lips
moved, but no sound escaped her. Her terrified eyes stared unblinkingly
at the newcomer.

"Is any one here?" asked Goddard slowly.

Nancy's muscles relaxed and she leaned limply against the Confederate.
She had forgotten that Goddard was blind. A slight pause--then she
spoke.

"It is I, Nancy Newton. I was so surprised to see you without your
bandages that it quite took my breath away. Nor did I realize you were
strong enough to leave your quarters."

Goddard's sad face had brightened, and he made a hesitating step
forward. "My orderly brought me over here, as I wished to say good-bye
to Colonel Edwards. I am practicing finding my way about alone." He
turned directly toward the Confederate, who, watching with breathless
interest, was waiting to take his cue from Nancy.

"Won't you sit by me over here?" Nancy went forward, and gently piloted
Goddard to the sofa by the window. She turned and nodded her head
toward the open door, and with catlike quickness the Confederate stole
from the room, closing the door behind him. Nancy's knees shook under
her, and she sank on the sofa by Goddard, trembling in every limb.

"I have waited in my rooms all day long, hoping you would come."
Goddard reached over, and felt about for Nancy's hand, and she placed
her cold fingers reluctantly in his. "Are you having a chill?" he
asked, alarmed.

"Oh, no; my hands are always cold," with well-simulated lightness; then
she hastened to change the subject. "I am glad you are so much better."

"Thanks. Doctor Scott is very much encouraged by my improvement, and
insists on my going to Washington to-morrow. He says I must see Doctor
Boyd."

"And he is right."

"I know." Goddard hesitated. "I should have gone last week, but--but--I
could not bear to leave you."

Nancy flushed warmly. "Aunt Metoaca and I return to Washington on the
same train with you. So you see we will not be separated--yet."

"God! how I wish it could be never, my darling!" The words seemed wrung
from Goddard. His face laid bare his secret. Then pulling himself up
abruptly: "I--I--ask your pardon--Miss Nancy--pay no heed. For the
moment I forgot--my blindness. What I would ask in happier
circumstances cannot be spoken now."

Nancy's answer was drowned in the sudden rush of feet outside, and the
shout: "Corporal of the guard, this way!"

The door was dashed open, and Lloyd, followed by a file of soldiers,
strode into the room.

"Arrest----" He stopped short and gazed blankly at Nancy and Goddard.
One searching look around showed him they were the only occupants of
the room.

"What is the matter?" demanded Goddard, much startled.

"We are searching for a rebel spy who entered Winchester with a false
pass. The corporal thinks he saw him enter this room thirty minutes
ago."

"I beg pardon, Captain; it might have been Major Goddard that I saw. It
is dark in the hall, and I did not see clearly," interrupted the
bewildered corporal.

"How long have you been in this room, Bob?" asked Lloyd sternly.

Nancy's fingers closed convulsively over the edge of the sofa.
Goddard's sightless eyes were turned for an instant in her direction.

"Nearly three-quarters of an hour, Lloyd," was the tranquil answer.



CHAPTER XIV

WHEN TRAGEDY GRINS


"As usual, Tad, it is your stomach that is cutting up. Haven't you any
other organ in your body?"

Tad Lincoln pulled the bedclothes up about his shoulders, and smiled
sheepishly at Doctor Boyd. "It was the cream puffs," he murmured
apologetically.

"And two weeks ago--candy. You are incorrigible. What's this?" The
doctor picked an oblong slip of paper off the pillow. It was a check,
and read:

    "Pay to the order of Tad Lincoln 50c--Fifty Cents--for having his
    tooth pulled.

                         "A. LINCOLN."[1]

      [1] A true story.

"Did it hurt when it came out?" asked Boyd gravely. For reply, the boy
opened his mouth, and disclosed a vacancy in the shining ivories.
"Well, don't eat this money up. One attack of indigestion should be
enough this month." Tad's face fell; he had already planned how he
would spend that fifty cents.

"Is anything much the matter with Tad, Doctor?" inquired the President,
entering the bedroom. "Sit down," as Boyd rose. "I stole up from the
levee to ask you how he is."

"Just a slight attack of indigestion, due to over-eating, Mr.
President. He will be all right to-morrow."

"Poor Tad." Lincoln stroked the small, hot head. "It is my fault,
Doctor. Mrs. Lincoln was out; so he and I just browsed 'round for
dinner. I ate most of the meat, and he the cream puffs. It wasn't an
equal division, was it, Tad? Must you be going, Doctor?"

"Yes; if one of these green tablets dissolved in half a glass of water
is given every three hours the nausea will cease. By the way, Mr.
President, before I leave, I want to ask if you will give me a pass
through our lines to Richmond. I have received word that my brother
lies dangerously wounded in one of their hospitals. We have not met for
years, and I"--the doctor cleared his throat--"I would like to see him
once again before we are parted for aye."

"Certainly!" Lincoln strode over to Tad's table and wrote a few lines;
then tore off the top sheet from the latter's school pad. "I hope this
will help you. I've given passes to Richmond to my generals, but they
haven't got there yet."

Lincoln's careworn face lighted with his rare smile. The strain of hope
deferred was telling on the President, and Doctor Boyd scrutinized him
professionally for a moment.

"I've seen you look worse," he growled, "but what I don't understand is
how you keep so damned good-natured."

Lincoln laughed heartily. "That is the question I once asked the wife
of one of our backwoodsmen. He would abuse her in public, and she
always took it smilingly, so I asked her how she managed it: 'When Jim
gets too much for me, I just goes in and bites the bureau. I know I'm
doing more harm than he is, and it keeps me good-natured.' My 'bureau'
is pretty well scarred by now," added Lincoln, chuckling. "I don't wish
to detain you, Doctor, but Mrs. Lincoln wants to see you a moment in
the East Room if you can stop there on your way out. Now, Tad, be a
good boy, and obey the nurse."

"And don't eat too much," cautioned Doctor Boyd, as he followed the
President out of the room.

The East Room was crowded with the usual throngs that gathered every
Thursday night. After reassuring Mrs. Lincoln as to her son's
condition, Doctor Boyd stationed himself behind the President and
watched the animated scene with interest, for once forgetful of his
duties elsewhere. Men and women in every walk of life were present.
Generals rubbed elbows with privates; statesmen with day laborers;
well-dressed women stood next women in faded and patched attire. All
were greeted by a cordial handshake and a pleasant word as they filed
past Lincoln. The doctor smiled sardonically as he saw the circle of
admirers about pretty Mrs. Bennett. Was it possible that her blue eyes,
childlike in their candor, her simpering smile, and affected manner
were masks assumed to cover her machinations? She a Union spy? It
seemed incredible. If so, was she clever enough to injure Nancy? Moving
with the crowd, she gradually worked her way to where Boyd stood.

"You never find time to come to my house, Doctor," she pouted.

"Send for me professionally," retorted Boyd, "and I will come at once."

"I captured Doctor Boyd this evening," interposed the President,
turning toward them. "He does not usually honor my levees."

"A busy man has small opportunity," began Boyd hastily.

"I know, Doctor; I know." The President laid a kindly hand on his arm.
"Isn't that Mrs. Arnold over there?"

"Yes," answered Mrs. Bennett. "We came together, for Mrs. Arnold is
obliged to go out alone, as her husband is too busy acquiring wealth to
accompany her to entertainments."

"I cannot understand why a man should work so hard for _that_," said
the President thoughtfully. "Wealth is simply a superfluity of what we
don't need."

"Who is that good-looking officer talking to my husband and Mrs.
Arnold?" questioned Mrs. Bennett.

"Brevet-Colonel Hilton," Lincoln smiled mischievously. "He is one of my
bravest officers, having behaved with conspicuous gallantry at
Gettysburg and Cedar Creek. But the night of the first Bull Run, his
body servant was asked by his family, who are Washingtonians, if he had
seen his master during the battle. 'Deed I done seed him at de end ob
de fight, and Marse Sam was on de mos' _retreatenist_ hoss in de
army.'"

"Thank God, we do not have to live over those first days of the war,"
said Boyd devoutly. "They tried men's souls."

"Ah, I do thank God," the President sighed wearily. His surroundings
faded from view. Instead, he saw the awful carnage of a battlefield. In
his ears sounded the thunder of guns; the cheers of the victors; and
the moans of the dying. With an effort, he put such thoughts from him.
"And yet those days had their comic side, Doctor; even tragedy grins
occasionally. I recollect that a regiment, who wore the uniform of
Highlanders, reached here after the battle of Bull Run utterly
demoralized. Like thousands of other soldiers, they threw away pretty
much everything they had. Their costume was abbreviated in the
beginning, and after Bull Run," the President's eyes twinkled, "lots of
them had to borrow skirts and blankets to cover their bareness. One of
these men gravely told me that the rebels in the trenches were perched
on teter-boards, and when one end came up to fire, the other end went
down to load. Good evening, Mrs. Arnold." He turned to shake hands with
her and Colonel Bennett.

"Why, Doctor Boyd," exclaimed Mrs. Arnold; "you here! I hope it means
that you are giving up night work, and so can come to our house-warming
on Monday night."

"As much as I should like to, I am afraid I cannot," rejoined Boyd. "I
expect to be called out of town at any time, but"--as her face
fell--"if I am in the city I will surely go to you."

"It is a shame if you do have to go away just then," declared Mrs.
Arnold, "because my husband counted on you to help him through the
evening, as he detests social gatherings."

"Ah, there comes that charming Monsieur Mercier," chimed in Mrs.
Bennett, as the French Minister strove to make his way through the
crowded room.

"Mercier has never recovered from his disappointment at his failure to
induce his government to recognize the Confederacy,"[2] laughed Colonel
Bennett. "It hurt his _amour propre_."

      [2] See "Abraham Lincoln," by Nicholay and Hay.

"Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference
of purpose between the Almighty and them," was Lincoln's noncommittal
reply. He turned to cross the room, but Mrs. Arnold, who had been an
interested listener, detained him for a moment.

"Do you speak French, Mr. President?" she inquired.

There was a quizzical gleam in Lincoln's eyes as he replied slowly and
with emphasis: "No, Mrs. Arnold; only English, and that not very well,"
and he moved on up the room.

Disconcerted by the expression on Doctor Boyd's face, Mrs. Arnold asked
hastily, "How is poor Major Goddard? I hear he is under your care now."

"He is badly shaken up physically," returned Boyd.

"Is there no prospect of his regaining his sight, Doctor?" inquired
Mrs. Bennett.

"Only time can tell."

"It is too dreadful," commented Mrs. Bennett. "I like Major Goddard so
much, and to think of his being helpless the rest of his life is most
distressing. Will you let him receive company, Doctor? Because I would
like to go and read to him."

Boyd scanned Mrs. Bennett intently, without replying to her last
remark. Why this sudden interest in Goddard? It behooved him to find
out.

"And I want to send him some jellies," volunteered Mrs. Arnold. "What
is his address, Doctor?"

"At present he is occupying Captain Lloyd's rooms at Mrs. Lane's
boarding house on F Street across from the Ebbitt." Boyd hesitated for
a perceptible moment. Would it be wise to allow Mrs. Bennett to
interview Goddard? Would she be able to worm any information about
Nancy's adventures in Winchester from the Major?

"Perhaps Captain Lloyd would not like our calling," suggested Mrs.
Arnold, breaking the slight pause.

"Oh, Lloyd is not in town now, though Goddard expects him back some
time next week."

"Did Major Goddard make the trip from Winchester alone?" asked Mrs.
Bennett in surprise.

"No. Miss Newton and her niece looked after him, with the assistance of
a man they called 'Symonds.' I met them at the station, and took
Goddard to his rooms, and engaged an attendant for him, as he cannot
get about without a body-servant now."

"From last accounts, Nancy Newton has behaved abominably to John,"
began Mrs. Arnold angrily. "She is a miserable flirt...."

"You mustn't run down my friend Nancy," said Lincoln, who had returned
in time to hear the last remark. "She and Tad are great chums; he is
devoted to her."

"I was only going to say," stammered Mrs. Arnold, "that Nancy has
treated my nephew very shabbily; first encouraged his suit, then threw
him over in the most bare-faced manner for--Major Goddard."



CHAPTER XV

NEMESIS


"Come up, Symonds; come up!" called Lloyd from the head of the stairs.
The old colored cook, protesting under her breath at having to mount to
the second story to announce visitors, had not waited to take a message
to Symonds, but returned at once to her domain by way of the back
stairs. Lloyd's voice was so imperative that Symonds took the steps two
at a time, and arrived breathless at the top, to find Lloyd, booted and
spurred, and covered from head to foot with a thick layer of mud,
waiting impatiently for him.

"I have caught her, Symonds," he cried exultingly. "By God! I've caught
her this time." Then, more calmly: "I have absolute proof here,"
tapping his chest, "that she is a rebel spy. Come in, and I will tell
you about it." And half dragging Symonds into his sitting room, he
slammed to the door. "It's been a long chase and a stern chase, but I
have won at last." He dropped heavily into an armchair, and signed to
Symonds to take the one opposite him.

"That is splendid!" said Symonds, with satisfaction. "I was afraid
something had happened to you, Captain, and have just been over to the
Bureau to find out if they had news of you. They told me they knew
nothing of your whereabouts, so I stopped here to ask Major Goddard if
he could tell me where you were."

"Was Colonel Baker at the Bureau?"

"No, sir; he is in Baltimore, but will be back to-night."

"What has Miss Newton been doing since her return to Washington?"

"Nothing of a suspicious character. I hear that she is going to Mrs.
Arnold's ball to-night."

"Well, we will put an end to her masterly inactivity." Lloyd chuckled
so vindictively that Symonds glanced at him in surprise.

"You seem to hate Miss Newton, Captain?"

"Hate? Well, perhaps that is too strong a word, Symonds, though I can
be a good hater of those who have wronged me. Miss Newton's cleverness
put me on my mettle. I cannot say I enjoyed being outwitted by a girl,
but I could forgive her that. What has roused my dislike, my bitter
dislike, is that she has turned Major Goddard against me. I can never
forgive her for that. He has been my lifelong friend; now, he avoids
me--and it cuts deep!" Lloyd spoke with intense feeling.

"How comes it, then, that you have the same rooms here?"

"Probably Major Goddard is planning to move to another boarding house;
I have not seen him since my return. Mrs. Lane told me he had gone for
a drive, accompanied by his attendant. I am glad he is out, for I do
not relish telling him Miss Newton will be arrested to-night. I prefer
to have him learn it from some one else."

"You say you have absolute proof of her guilt?" questioned Symonds.

"Absolute. She will not slip through my fingers this time. As I told
you in Winchester, Symonds, I was convinced that Major Goddard, to
shield Miss Newton, told a deliberate lie when he said he had been in
that room over half an hour. I was sure she had seen and talked with
that rebel spy; so I wasted no time making further inquiries at the
house, but, with Colonel Young's permission, took Belden and started in
pursuit of him.

"Belden knows that country like a book, and he guessed the route the
rebel would take. We had two of the best horses in the cavalry, and, to
cut a long story short, we headed him off, and forced him back toward
our lines. His horse was almost spent when we came up with him. It was
two to one. He died bravely. We found his name on an envelope, 'George
Pegram, --th Virginia Cavalry,' and this paper." Lloyd unbuttoned his
coat, and drew out a leather wallet. "Here it is--see"--he opened a
small crumpled paper--"not only the cipher message verbatim, as
received that afternoon in Winchester, but the key to our code. It is
damning evidence, and it will hang her." He folded the paper, replaced
it in his pocketbook, which he slipped back in his inside coat pocket;
then resumed his story:

"We were returning to Winchester when we almost ran slam-bang into some
of Mosby's guerillas. To avoid them, we had to go miles out of our way.
Twice we were nearly captured by scouting parties of Early's forces;
then some of Lomax' cavalry chased us still deeper inside the rebel
lines. It took us four days to reach Snicker's Gap, and so on to
Washington. Since I last saw you, I have been constantly in the saddle
without rest and without sufficient food." Lloyd's face was drawn and
haggard, and his eyes inflamed and heavy from lack of sleep. Seeing
Symonds' look of concern, he added: "Mrs. Lane brought me up a cold
lunch. I intended going at once to see Colonel Baker, but, as he is
away, I will let you apply for the necessary papers to arrest her. I
must get some sleep. I cannot stay awake another moment. Stay," as
Symonds hastened to the hall door. "You meet Colonel Baker; tell him
what I have told you, and have him arrest the girl. And send a
messenger to me when she is taken to the provost marshal's, and I will
join you there." He stretched himself and yawned. "Be sure and send for
me, Symonds," he called, "for I shall sleep like the dead."

"All right, Captain; I will have you called."

Lloyd went thoughtfully back into his sitting room, stood for a moment
undecided, then walked through the communicating door into the next
room. The two single beds, bureaus, table and chairs but partially
filled the bedroom, which was unusually large. There were two side
windows, and two doors, one of which opened directly into the back
hall, and the other into the sitting room.

Lloyd did not trouble to undress. He kicked off his muddy boots, and
tossed them into a corner of the room; removed his coat and hung it on
the back of a chair; then threw himself on the outside of one of the
beds, drawing a quilt over him. His head had hardly touched the pillow
before his regular breathing testified that he had fallen into the
heavy slumber of utter exhaustion.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Mrs. Arnold's ball was in full swing when Nancy and her aunt arrived.
Nancy did not look well, to Miss Metoaca's concern, who tersely advised
her to pull herself together, or else stay at home. If she had followed
the latter course, Miss Metoaca would have been bitterly disappointed,
for she greatly enjoyed going to parties and watching Nancy's
belleship.

Nancy much preferred staying quietly at home. Dull care dogged her
footsteps; Goddard's pathetic face haunted her memory. Do what she
could; go where she would, she could never banish from her mind his
halting, passionate words spoken on that never-forgotten day in
Winchester. After all, did she wish to?

Mrs. Arnold's spacious new house was filled with members of the cabinet
and their wives; some of the foreign ministers and their secretaries,
and Washington's residential circle, which consisted of about
forty-five persons, all told, who religiously attended each other's
parties, and occasionally went to the President's levees, and the
entertainments of the diplomatic corps and the cabinet officers. A
"social column" in the daily paper was never heard of; but,
notwithstanding, each person knew when the other was giving a party or
entertaining house guests. Occasionally a paragraph was slipped in the
_National Intelligencer_, saying: "Miss H---- attended Mrs. R----'s
reception," but even that was considered very bad form, though initials
only were given.

Mrs. Arnold received Nancy and her aunt with some reserve. She did not
want her nephew to marry Nancy, but still less, with true feminine
inconsistency, did she want him to be jilted by such a chit of a girl.
She also stood very much in awe of Miss Metoaca's ready wit and
formidable tongue.

Nancy was immediately carried off by an impatient partner for the next
dance, and Miss Metoaca was left chatting with Senator Warren and Lord
Lyons, the British minister. Mrs. Arnold, flushed with her labors as
hostess, stopped near them, and the Englishman turned at once and
complimented her on the decorations of her ball-room.

"I am delighted you approve of my taste, your Excellency," she said
complacently. "Have you seen our new oil painting which my husband has
just purchased at Goupil's in New York?"

"No, I have not had that pleasure," replied the diplomat courteously.

"Then come with me. You, too, Miss Metoaca, and Senator Warren. I would
very much like your opinion of the painting. It is called 'Jupiter and
Ten.' What 'Ten' has to do with it is beyond me. There are not ten
figures in the picture; nor did we pay ten dollars for it."

By that time they had reached the painting, a fine work by a famous
artist. Underneath, on the brass name plate, were the words: "JUPITER
AND IO."

"The technique is fine," murmured Lord Lyons feebly, adjusting his
monocle. Whereat Mrs. Arnold beamed with delight.

"It is indeed an excellent painting," exclaimed Miss Metoaca, her eyes
twinkling. "You are to be congratulated, Mrs. Arnold. I must go and
find Nancy, as I want to introduce her to Mrs. Scott, the wife of the
new member from Pennsylvania."

"Let me escort you, Miss Metoaca," said the Senator gallantly.

Nancy was not hard to find, and, after she had met Mrs. Scott, Senator
Warren asked her to sit out a dance with him.

"If I can escape my next partner, I will do so with pleasure."

"Suppose we sit in that alcove by the palms, he will never find us
there," suggested the senator, and he led the way to the sofa, which
was partially concealed from view, only to find Mrs. Bennett
comfortably installed on one end of it.

"There is plenty of room for all," she declared, as Nancy drew back.
"Colonel Bennett has gone with Mr. Arnold, and, being partnerless, I
came over here to enjoy watching the dancers. Where is Mrs. Warren this
evening, Senator?"

"Sick in bed with a bad headache," returned Warren, sitting down
between the two women. "I would not have come to-night, but she
insisted it would not be neighborly to back out at the last moment."

"So, like an obedient American husband, you sacrificed yourself,"
laughed Nancy, her small foot keeping time to the dreamy strains of the
waltz, "Brightest Eyes."

"I am managing to have a very comfortable time," retorted the Senator.
He ceased speaking as a man in uniform stepped to Nancy's side and
touched her on the shoulder.

"Miss Newton, you are to come with me."

Nancy turned quickly, and her face whitened. The sword of Damocles had
fallen.

"What do you mean, Baker?" demanded Warren sharply.

"That Miss Newton is under arrest, Mr. Senator. I advise the young lady
to come quietly."

Nancy rose. "I shall make no scene," she said haughtily. "Go on, sir,
and I will follow."

"I prefer that you should go first," said Baker quickly.

"One moment," interrupted Warren. "Where are you taking Miss Newton?"
Baker hesitated. "I insist on an answer."

Senator Warren was a power on Capitol Hill, and the Secret Service
officer did not care to offend him.

"She is to be taken to the War Department. Secretary Stanton wishes to
interview her," he answered at last.

"My dear! My dear!" ejaculated Mrs. Bennett, who had sat speechless
with surprise. "This is too dreadful. Can I not accompany you? or my
husband? We know the secretary well, and will use our influence to
secure your immediate release."

"Miss Newton goes with me _alone_," interposed Baker harshly. "I will
allow no outside interference." And he looked significantly at Mrs.
Bennett.

"Many thanks, Mrs. Bennett." The older woman colored hotly under her
scrutiny, and Nancy's suspicions were instantly aroused. Had she and
Lloyd planned her arrest? "I will not trouble you, however, to exert
your influence in my behalf, because I am convinced I shall be set free
the moment I have talked this affair over with Secretary Stanton.
Senator Warren, will you take Aunt Metoaca home, and explain to her
about this ridiculous arrest."

"I will, and will join you afterward at the War Department. There is
undoubtedly some explanation, and, as your friend, I will investigate
the matter at once."

Nancy impulsively extended her hand; she could not voice her thanks. It
was some seconds before she regained her self-control; then she
addressed Baker. "Now, Colonel, I am ready to go with you." She turned
disdainfully, and walked proudly across the room, spoke to Mrs. Arnold,
then went directly into the hall. "May I go for my wrap?" she asked the
Secret Service officer, who followed at her heels.

"No, send the maid for it," was the surly reply.

It did not take the colored girl long to find the wrap, and, escorted
by Baker, Nancy ran down the steps and entered the waiting hack. They
drove in absolute silence, Nancy gazing straight before her with
brooding eyes. Never had he escorted so quiet a prisoner, and Baker was
glad when they reached the War Department. He wasted no time, but took
her at once to the private office of the Secretary of War.

"Here is Miss Newton, Mr. Secretary," he announced, signing to Nancy to
enter the room first.

"To what do I owe my arrest, Secretary Stanton?" asked Nancy, walking
quietly up to his desk.

Stanton glanced piercingly at her. Her proud, cold beauty and
distinguished appearance stirred a momentary feeling of admiration in
the "Iron Secretary's" breast. He half rose, then sank again into his
chair.

"Be seated," he directed shortly. "Baker, close that door." He took off
his spectacles, wiped them carefully, then replaced them am his nose.
"You asked me?"

"Why I am arrested?" steadily.

"Isn't that an unnecessary question?"

"No. I am not a mind reader."

"You need not strain your imagination. Do you know Major George Pegram,
of the --th Virginia Cavalry?"

"I do. He is my cousin."

"He _was_." Stanton stopped and eyed Nancy intently; but she sat as if
carved from stone. Not by cry or sign did she betray the shock his
words gave her. "Major Pegram was killed last Wednesday, when trying to
get through our lines about Winchester."

"Poor fellow!" Nancy's tone was keyed to express simply natural sorrow
and regret. "I am sure his death became him."

Stanton looked baffled, as his bomb shell exploded without apparent
effect. Was there no vulnerable spot in her armor of iron self-control?
After a moment he continued his examination.

"Your cousin was killed by Captain Lloyd, of the Secret Service, who
took from his dead body the cipher despatch which you secured under the
noses of a room full of my officers at Winchester." He paused to let
the meaning of his words sink in.

Nancy thought for a second; then shook her head. "I fail to recall any
such incident."

"You have a poor memory," retorted Stanton. "Possibly it will be
improved when I show you the despatch in your handwriting."

Nancy's face never altered. "May I see the despatch?"

The Secretary paid no attention to her question. "There is no use
denying it any longer, Miss Newton. I know you are a rebel spy."

"Indeed. And may I ask on what grounds you base so serious a charge?"

"No, madam, you may not. That will come out at your trial. I had you
brought here that I might find out how you secured the key to our
secret cipher code."

Nancy started to reply, when the door opened, and the President,
followed by Senator Warren, walked quietly in.

"Good evening, Miss Nancy." The President bowed gravely to her. "Keep
your seat. Now, Stanton, what's all this about?" And he threw himself
into a vacant chair.

The Secretary, surprised by Lincoln's entrance, pulled himself
together. He was not pleased by the interruption.

"I was examining Miss Newton, Mr. President, as to how she gained
possession of the key to our cipher code. Pardon me if I suggest that
it would be better to conduct the interview in private." And he glanced
significantly at Warren.

"What do you mean by that insinuation, Mr. Secretary?" demanded Warren
hotly.

"Now, now," interposed the President patiently. "Nobody has insinuated
anything, Warren. It is perfectly proper that the senator be present,
Stanton. You forget he is a member of the Military Commission in
Congress."

"And I am also here as Miss Newton's legal representative," added
Warren warmly, still ruffled by Stanton's manner.

Nancy shot him a grateful glance, but Stanton frowned. He did not like
the turn things were taking.

"What is Miss Nancy accused of?" inquired Lincoln.

"Of being a rebel spy."

Lincoln's face grew grave. He inspected Nancy keenly, as his mind flew
back to the scene before the deserted house on B Street. It might
be.... "And what have you to say to that accusation, Miss Nancy?" he
asked sternly.

"I deny it."

"The girl lies," declared Stanton.

Nancy's eyes flashed her indignation, and she turned squarely and faced
the Secretary.

"The honorable Secretary," she said, with biting scorn, "has three
times announced that I am a rebel spy. Is it not time that he produce
evidence to prove that _he_ is not lying."

Stanton turned purple with suppressed wrath. To be bearded by a slip of
a girl, and before the President! "Blustering will not help your
cause," he snarled.

"You have made a serious charge," interrupted Lincoln thoughtfully. "I
agree with Miss Nancy, Stanton, that it is time you produce your
evidence against her."

The Secretary wheeled on Baker. "Where is Captain Lloyd?"

Lincoln, who was covertly studying Nancy, saw her move ever so slightly
and her eyes dilate.

"I sent word to him that I was bringing Miss Newton to see you, instead
of taking her to the provost marshal, and to join us here. I think this
is he coming now," as the sound of hurrying footsteps sounded outside
in the corridor. Baker stepped to the door, and pulled it open. "Come
in, Lloyd."

But the man who entered was not Lloyd. He breathed heavily, as if spent
with running, and, despite the cold winter night, beads of perspiration
trickled down his face.

"Symonds!" exclaimed Baker. "Did you go for Captain Lloyd, as I
ordered?"

Symonds nodded, gazing past Baker with frightened eyes at Nancy.

"Then, why didn't he return here with you?"

"Because"--Symonds took a long breath--"because--he's dead!"



CHAPTER XVI

A TANGLED SKEIN


The President and his companions sat looking at Symonds in stupefied
silence. Secretary Stanton was the first to speak.

"Dead!" he thundered. "Who killed him?"

"I don't know, sir."

"What killed him?"

"I don't know, sir," reiterated Symonds stupidly.

"Was he shot or stabbed?"

"Neither, sir."

"Well, damn my soul!" The exasperated and hot-tempered Secretary
clutched the inkstand with the evident intention of hurling it at
Symonds. "_What_ did he die of?"

"I don't know, sir." Symonds passed a trembling hand over his pale
face. "He was just lying there in bed--dead."

"Had Captain Lloyd been ill?" asked the President.

"No, Mr. President; not to my knowledge. He appeared to be in good
health and spirits when I left him this afternoon; only exhausted from
five days in the saddle. He told me he was going to lie down and rest,
and that I was to send for him after I had seen Colonel Baker, who was
then in Baltimore, and arranged for this lady's arrest."

"Take that chair, Symonds," said the President, "and tell us all you
know of this affair."

Obediently Symonds pulled forward the chair indicated, and faced the
President, much perturbed in mind.

"I met Colonel Baker, as Captain Lloyd directed, and gave him the
information he had been waiting for. We came here, and, after
consulting the Secretary, Colonel Baker ordered me to bring Captain
Lloyd to this room.

"When I reached Mrs. Lane's boarding house, I went directly up to the
captain's sitting room. I rapped and rapped on his door, but could get
no response." Symonds paused impressively, and five pairs of eyes
watched him almost without blinking. "The captain had told me he was a
heavy sleeper; so, thinking I would have to shake him awake, I tried
the door knob. It turned, and I entered. The room was dark except for
the moonlight which came through the front windows.

"I saw that the communicating door leading to the captain's bedroom was
open; so I went over to it and called Captain Lloyd's name. Not getting
any answer, I walked into the room. It was pitch dark, and the next
thing I knew I had tripped and fallen over a body...."

"You just stated that you found Captain Lloyd dead in bed," interposed
the Secretary sharply.

"And so I did, sir."

"Then, what do you mean by saying you fell over his body on the floor?"

"It wasn't his body, sir."

"Get on, get on!" Stanton glared impatiently at Symonds, who had
stopped and was nervously twirling his cap in his fingers. The
President was intently watching Nancy, who sat on the edge of her chair
listening to Symonds' slow speech with bated breath.

"I picked myself up, sir, considerably shaken, struck a match, found a
burner and lighted the gas. Then I leaned over and looked at the man on
the floor ... it was Major Goddard!"

A low cry of terror broke from Nancy. She reeled in her seat. Stanton
viewed her emotion with grim satisfaction. He had found the vulnerable
heel of Achilles.

"He wasn't ... Symonds, don't say it...."

Nancy pleaded. "Don't say he was----" Her hands were raised, as if to
push some over-mastering horror from her.

"No, no, ma'am; he was only unconscious from a blow on his head."
Symonds, shocked by her look of agony, spoke with unusual rapidity.

Nancy bowed her head in her hands; then, realizing that the four men
were noting her every movement, she straightened herself and faced them
with regained self-control.

"What next, Symonds?" exclaimed Stanton.

"I turned to the bed, and was astounded to see Captain Lloyd sleeping
peacefully--at least, I thought so then. I rushed over and shook and
shook him. The Lord forgive me! I was so excited over Major Goddard
that I never thought, never suspected. I had pushed Captain Lloyd up in
bed by that time in my efforts to rouse him. To my unutterable horror,
he fell back in my arms a dead weight, and my hand accidentally touched
his cold face. I quickly unbuttoned his shirt and placed my ear over
his heart, but could detect no action there, nor any pulse when I
clutched his wrist.

"It took me a few minutes to collect myself; then I called the
landlady, Mrs. Lane. She sent one of her boarders for the provost
marshal. When he arrived, I turned the rooms over to him, and came on
here to report to the Secretary."

"Did you send for a physician, Symonds?" asked Lincoln.

"Yes, Mr. President. Doctor Ward reached the boarding house a few
minutes before the provost marshal. He declared Captain Lloyd had
apparently been dead for some hours, and that Major Goddard was
unconscious from a blow on the head."

"Did he make an examination as to the cause of Captain Lloyd's death?"
inquired Stanton.

"No, Mr. Secretary. He said that the captain was beyond his help, and
that Major Goddard needed immediate attention. He dressed the major's
wound at once, and then I helped him lift the still unconscious officer
onto the other bed."

"Had Major Goddard regained consciousness before you left?"

"No, Mr. Secretary. He had lost a great deal of blood, and Doctor Ward
said it might be hours before he came to himself. The doctor seemed to
fear concussion of the brain," he added thoughtfully.

A low sigh escaped Nancy. Only the President noticed her agitation. The
other men had forgotten her presence, so absorbed were they in Symonds'
story.

"The provost marshal stationed a guard about the house," resumed
Symonds, before the Secretary could frame another question. "He placed
Mrs. Lane and her whole household under arrest pending an
investigation."

"He did right," was Stanton's brief comment. "The affair is certainly
mysterious. Did the room look as if there had been a fight?"

"No, Mr. Secretary. There was a good deal of blood collected on the
floor about Major Goddard's head; but not even a chair was overturned.
When I first reached him, Captain Lloyd lay as if asleep, covered by a
bed quilt."

"Strange!" muttered Stanton, and he looked at the President, who sat
tilted back in his chair, hands clasped behind his head, gazing through
lowered lids at the scene before him. As Lincoln made no comment, and
Warren was equally silent, he continued his questions more briskly.
"Undoubtedly Major Goddard will satisfactorily explain what took place
in the room before Captain Lloyd's death, and who his assailant was, as
soon as he regains consciousness. Now, we have a more pressing matter
to attend to to-night." With a wave of his hand, he indicated Nancy.
"This afternoon Captain Lloyd showed you a paper, a cipher despatch,
written by this young lady..."

"I protest," interrupted Nancy vehemently, "against such a base
accusation."

"...taken by him from Major George Pegram, a rebel spy, did he not?"
continued Stanton, paying no heed to Nancy.

"Yes, Mr. Secretary; he showed me such a paper," admitted Symonds.

"Did it occur to you, Symonds, to take possession of that paper before
it fell into other hands?"

"It did, sir."

"Good. Give it to me." And Stanton stretched out an eager hand.

"I--I--can't, Mr. Secretary," stammered the Secret Service agent. "I
searched all the captain's belongings before the provost marshal
arrived; but the pocketbook containing the despatch had disappeared."



CHAPTER XVII

IN CLOSE CONFINEMENT


Stanton's face hardened, and he wheeled on Nancy.

"Where is that paper?" he demanded curtly.

"I do not know."

The Secretary's eyes were the first to fall before the girl's steady
gaze.

"I have wasted quite enough time with you," he snapped. "Baker, conduct
Miss Newton to Old Capitol Prison, and have her placed in close
confinement."

"Wait." Senator Warren rose. "Your pardon, Mr. Secretary; but so far
you have produced no direct evidence to prove your charge against Miss
Newton. Therefore, I demand her immediate release."

"It is impossible to grant your request. Miss Newton is too dangerous a
character to leave at large. She will have an opportunity to prove her
innocence of the charges against her before a military commission."

"Charges?" said Nancy inquiringly, as she picked up her wrap in
obedience to a sign from Baker. "Charges, did you say, Mr. Secretary?
Your threats multiply with lightning rapidity."

"Charges, madam," sternly, "as a rebel spy, and, as such, conniving at
the death of Captain Lloyd and stealing the paper which proves your
guilt."

"It is monstrous!" cried Nancy hotly. "Symonds' own words prove Captain
Lloyd died naturally in his bed. As to the paper, I have repeatedly
told you I know nothing of it. It may be simply a fabrication of this
man's excited imagination. You have only his word against mine that it
ever existed."

"Very true, madam; but I prefer to take his word." Stanton's tone of
overbearing finality made Nancy clench her hands with rage. She turned
appealingly to Lincoln.

"Mr. President, in the name of justice I ask for fair play."

Lincoln unlocked his big, bony hands, brought his chair softly down on
its four legs, and rose awkwardly.

"There is much to be explained, Miss Nancy; and Secretary Stanton is
right in the stand he is taking," he said unwillingly. How gladly would
he have spoken otherwise! "I cannot interfere." Nancy blanched, and bit
her lips to hide their trembling. Nothing escaped the President, and
his worn, unlovely face grew tender. "I give you my word, you shall
have a fair and impartial trial. Warren, go with Baker and see what you
can do to soften Miss Nancy's imprisonment."

"Thanks, Mr. President." But he had turned back to the desk and did not
see Nancy's half-extended hand, or hear her faltering voice. Her hand
dropped to her side, and, choking back a sob, she followed Senator
Warren and Baker out of the room.

Nancy had only a confused idea of what followed: the drive to the
provost marshal's office, his questions and cross-questions, the
signing of papers, all were but the hazy outlines of some fearful
nightmare from which she must soon awake. She was hurried from the
provost marshal's and into the carriage again. The rapid hoof beats of
the horses kept pace with the pounding of her heart.

"Here we are, Nancy." Warren touched her on the shoulder as their
carriage stopped in front of the Old Capitol Prison.

Baker sprang out, and beckoned to a soldier standing before the
doorway. Nancy followed the Secret Service officer more slowly and
paused, as the guard gathered about her, to gaze at the twinkling stars
and fill her lungs with the cold, fresh air which fanned her hot
cheeks.

"Come!" Nancy shuddered involuntarily as Baker's hand closed over her
arm in no gentle grip. "This way." And they entered a wide hall.

A number of soldiers lounged on the benches which lined the walls on
both sides. Recognizing Baker, they rose, and stood at attention.

"This way, Colonel," said the corporal of the guard. "Superintendent
Wood is still in his office." And he preceded them down the hall.

Nancy answered apathetically all the questions the superintendent shot
at her.

"Room No. 10, second floor, women's section," said the latter to an
orderly, as he closed the register and filed his papers away. "See that
clean bedding is taken there at once." The soldier saluted and hastened
out of the room. "Now, Miss Newton, follow me." He led her into a
smaller apartment where a stout woman and two colored assistants stood
waiting. "The matron has to search you. Let me know when you have
finished," he directed, and banged to the door.

Nancy submitted quietly to the ordeal. Her thoughts were elsewhere; she
hardly noticed what the others did. She was soon told to put on her
clothes, and the matron, leaving her under the watchful eyes of the
other women, stepped out of the room. In a few minutes she returned and
beckoned Nancy to the door. She found Senator Warren and the
superintendent waiting in the hall.

"I sent to your aunt for some necessary clothes for you, Nancy, and the
superintendent, here, says they will be brought to you as soon as my
messenger returns with them."

"After they have been examined by me," put in Wood gruffly. "Your
quarters are in Carrol Prison, where the women are confined."

He pointed up the dirty staircase, and Nancy, preceded by the corporal
of the guard, climbed wearily up them, and turned down a long corridor.
The corporal stopped before an open door midway down the hall, and
signed to her to enter. Senator Warren, who had accompanied her by
Wood's permission, stepped forward.

"I must perforce leave you here," he said; then, seeing the hunted look
in Nancy's weary eyes, he added pityingly: "Don't be so worried, child;
keep a brave heart. Your aunt and I will have you out of here in no
time."

Nancy turned and impulsively kissed him. "You dear, faithful friend,"
she murmured brokenly.

"There, there." The senator's own eyes were moist. He thought of his
little daughter at home under a watchful mother's care. What if she
were in prison, suspected of grave crimes? He patted Nancy's wavy hair
with tender hand.

"Senator"--her voice was so low he barely caught her halting
words--"won't you get word to me to-morrow without fail
about--about----"

"About what, child?"

"About Major Goddard's condition. I--I--must know."

Bravely and unashamed, she looked squarely at Warren. His shrewd eyes
softened as he read the story of an untold love in her blushing face.

One second more and the door slammed to; the bolt was shot, and Nancy,
with wide, curious eyes, stood gazing at her new surroundings by the
aid of a half-burnt candle. The room was small and unspeakably dirty. A
wooden cot with its straw mattress stood in the corner farthest from
the window; a broken-down wash stand with a tin basin was in another
corner, and a wooden chair without a back occupied the center of the
room.

While Nancy was taking stock of her furniture, the door was opened and
a bundle of clothes tossed unceremoniously inside. She waited until she
heard the door relocked; then took up her belongings, which were well
tumbled by the inspection they had undergone. There were some pegs in
the walls, and Nancy hung her wrap on one of them; then walked over to
the window.

Her room looked out on a court formed by the wings of the buildings. A
high platform wide enough for two men to pass each other had been
erected on the top of the fence at the back, and she caught the gleam
of the moonlight on the sentries' bayonets as it was reflected back by
the burnished steel. There was no curtain of any kind in the window.
The dirt on the window-panes was her only protection against prying
eyes. So Nancy pushed the stool over by the bed, piled her extra
clothing on the foot of the bed, and carefully blew out the candle
before undressing.

It was a relief to get her clothes off, and she sat on the edge of the
bed listening to the sentry's unceasing tramp up and down the corridor.
Suddenly the silence was broken by the sentry's call from outside:
"Post No. 1! Two o'clock, and all's well!"

As the call sounded from post to post, Nancy threw herself face down on
the hard mattress.

"Bob, Bob," she moaned, "what evil fortune led you into that room!"



CHAPTER XVIII

WHEN DOCTORS DISAGREE


The next morning all Washington was agog over the news of Nancy's
arrest as a rebel spy, and Captain Lloyd's sudden death. All day long
Miss Metoaca's negro butler kept trotting to the front door in answer
to the frantic ringing of the bell, and to every anxious inquiry he
invariably replied: "Miss Turkey's only tol'able, thank yo', and she
begs to be 'scused."

Late in the afternoon Senator Warren walked heavily up the steps. Old
Jonas, who had seen him coming along C Street, stood waiting on the
threshold, and without a word took his hat and cane.

"Dis way, Marse Senator." He helped him off with his overcoat. "We's
been 'spectin' yo' all day, suh."

Miss Metoaca, hollow-eyed and weary, dropped the shawl she was
pretending to knit, and rose quickly when she caught sight of Warren.

"What news?" she asked, scanning his face anxiously.

The senator motioned her to resume her seat, and drew up a chair by
her. He hesitated perceptibly for a second; then answered her query
with another: "Have you seen Nancy?"

"No. I went to the Old Capitol Prison the first thing this morning, and
saw Superintendent Wood. He told me I would have to get a permit from
the judge advocate general before he could allow me to talk with Nancy.
I immediately went to see Judge Holt, and he curtly refused my request.
Then I went to the President, who told me he would talk it over with
Stanton. I knew what _that_ meant; so did not waste any time waiting,
but came straight home."

Warren nodded his head gravely. "That is about what I expected. Nancy
is in close confinement, charged with the most serious offense possible
in war times. I doubt if I, her legal representative, am allowed to see
her until this mystery is a little more cleared up.

"Stanton is already wrought up over the fact that the key to his cipher
code is known outside of his office. He will move heaven and earth to
discover how Nancy secured the key to the information she is accused of
giving to Pegram. She can expect no leniency there. Baker also is
determined to prove that she stole the recovered despatch from Lloyd.
He insists she is implicated in some way in the captain's mysterious
death."

Miss Metoaca drew a long breath. "It looks as if the odds were against
Nancy having a fair chance to prove her innocence," she sighed. "Have
you any idea when she will be brought to trial?"

"When I saw him just now, Judge Holt was busy selecting officers to
serve on a military commission."

"I was told it would be a court-martial."

"Not necessarily." Warren drew out a sheet of paper. "I asked Judge
Holt about it, and he gave this copy of the eighty-second article of
war, enacted in 1862, which reads: 'All persons, who in time of war, or
of rebellion against the supreme authority of the United States, shall
be found lurking or acting as spies in or about any of the
fortifications, posts, quarters, or encampments of any of the armies of
the United States, or elsewhere, shall be triable by a general
court-martial, or by a military commission, and shall, on conviction,
suffer death.'"

His voice unconsciously deepened on the last solemn word, and Miss
Metoaca's face went gray.

"I wish you men were not so fond of plain language," she exclaimed
irritably. "Please remember they have not yet proved anything against
Nancy."

"Quite true. But you must also recollect, Miss Metoaca, that a military
commission will accept evidence which a civil court would throw out."

"But, Senator, the despatch which Stanton claims Nancy wrote cannot be
found. Therefore, it is impossible for them to bring it up as proof
against her."

"I am not so sure of that."

"Tut! They have only Symonds' word that such a paper ever existed."

"True; but Symonds is a man whose word can be relied on. His story will
be accepted as direct evidence, and it will, I fear, be hard to shake
his testimony."

"Have you learned anything that throws light on Captain Lloyd's death?"
inquired Miss Metoaca, after a slight pause.

Warren moved his chair nearer the sofa, and glanced about to see that
he was not overheard.

"The mystery deepens," he said gravely. "By order of the President, I
was allowed to hear the result of the autopsy held this morning."

"What was it?" demanded Miss Metoaca breathlessly.

"After a prolonged and careful examination, the surgeons declare that
they could find no wound or mark of violence on Captain Lloyd's body;
nor any trace of poison in his system. Therefore, they were forced to
believe, in the absence of any particular symptom, or pathological
appearance, that he died from some cause, or causes, to them unknown."
Warren paused in the rapid reading of his notes in his memorandum book;
then resumed dryly: "In my state, the country people would describe
Lloyd's death as 'a visitation of God.'"

"Well, Providence might have been worse employed," said Miss Metoaca
abruptly, and her face cleared. "Doesn't the autopsy settle that
preposterous charge against Nancy?"

"I have not finished telling you all that I heard from the surgeons,"
went on Warren patiently. "They also said that it was just possible
that the last five days in the saddle without sufficient food or sleep
might have produced heart failure, but they judged that extremely
unlikely----"

"I don't call that bad news," broke in Miss Metoaca. "Seems to me that
statement clears Nancy absolutely."

"Unfortunately, Doctor Ward contends that the symptoms would be the
same if Lloyd had been suffocated by some anæsthetic, chloroform, for
instance."

"Suffocated!" ejaculated Miss Metoaca, half rising in her surprise.
"What nonsense! They would have detected the smell of chloroform."

"Not necessarily," again returned Warren. "Lloyd had been dead some
hours before they found him; secondly, one of the windows was open top
and bottom, which ventilated the room. The chloroform probably
evaporated quickly, and left no tell-tale odor behind."

"And do you mean to tell me that those idiots believe on such flimsy
evidence as that that Nancy killed Lloyd!" exclaimed Miss Metoaca
wrathfully. "Do you believe a young, delicate, high-strung girl, like
Nancy, could commit such a cold-blooded murder?"

"Nancy's sex will not protect her when the passions of men are roused.
Do you suppose that a suspected spy will not be an object of hatred in
these days?"

Miss Metoaca nodded sullenly in agreement. She knew the opprobrium and
scorn which were heaped on rebel sympathizers in Baltimore and
Washington, and realized the justice of Warren's comment.

"This is not the day of miracles," continued the senator, "and it is
stretching probability to the breaking point to believe that Lloyd died
from natural causes at the very moment when his death would be of
benefit to Nancy. In addition to this, there is the disappearance of
that important despatch."

Miss Metoaca made no remark, so Warren resumed his argument.

"The first and most important thing in solving a murder mystery is to
find a _motive_ for the crime. When that is once established, the means
are easy to prove. The thing that will militate the most against Nancy
is the _timeliness_ of Captain Lloyd's death.

"The military commission will undoubtedly believe that Nancy, realizing
that Lloyd could prove she was a rebel spy, resorted to murder to
silence the one man whose evidence would hang her. I fear, I greatly
fear, Nancy will have a hard time convincing the commission that, if
not actually the criminal, she did not connive at Captain Lloyd's
death."

"It is an outrage!" fumed Miss Metoaca. "I am willing to stake my
immortal soul that Nancy had nothing to do with the captain's
mysterious death, nor with the disappearance of that miserable
despatch."

"My wife and I also believe in Nancy's innocence," declared Warren
warmly; "and I give you my solemn word of honor, Miss Metoaca, that I
will do everything within my power to assist her."

"God forever bless you!" Miss Metoaca leaned forward, and impulsively
clasped his hand in both of hers. "You give me renewed courage. Tell
me," as Warren's eyes strayed to the clock on the mantel, "have you
heard how Major Goddard is getting on?"

"I stopped at Mrs. Lane's this morning, but the corporal of the provost
marshal's guard stationed about the house refused to admit me.
Fortunately I met Doctor Ward on his way out from seeing Goddard, and
he told me that the major had regained consciousness, but was very weak
and unable to talk. I drove at once to the Old Capitol Prison, and
induced Wood to promise to tell Nancy that Major Goddard was
recovering. I hope the message gave her some comfort, poor girl!"

"Senator," Miss Metoaca lowered her voice until she almost whispered,
"Major Goddard and Nancy were thrown together day after day while we
were in Winchester. We both felt so sorry for him, and Nancy used to
talk or read to him continually during his convalescence. I watched
them both, and it gradually dawned on me that the major worshipped the
ground Nancy walked on. Now, is it not possible that he overheard Lloyd
tell Symonds he had secured a paper which might hang Nancy?"

"Yes," agreed the senator, seeing she paused for a reply.

"Men have thrown worlds away before now to win a woman's love," went on
Miss Metoaca so rapidly that her words tumbled over each other. "God
knows, I don't want to turn suspicion against an innocent man; but do
you not think it possible that Major Goddard...?"

"Killed his friend and secured the paper," finished Warren, as she
hesitated. "Possible, but not probable."

"Why not?" demanded Miss Metoaca heatedly. "It is more probable than
that Nancy should have committed the murder."

"Men have done many mad deeds for love," pursued Warren, paying no
attention to her interruption, "but they cannot accomplish the
impossible. You think Goddard stepped into that bedroom, chloroformed
Lloyd, and then stole the wallet containing that despatch?"

Miss Metoaca nodded her head without speaking.

"How could a blind man do all that and _not_ overturn one thing in the
room?" asked Warren quietly.



CHAPTER XIX

GROPING IN THE DARK


"How do you know he didn't?" snapped Miss Metoaca, sticking to her
theory with grim determination.

"Because Symonds declares there was no sign of confusion in the room
when he found the two men--one dead--one unconscious."

"Always Symonds!" grumbled Miss Metoaca disgustedly. "He is a regular
Jack-in-the-box. I don't care what he says. I firmly believe Major
Goddard is responsible for Lloyd's death, if he really _was_ killed,
which I think is open to doubt."

"I thought as you do at first," agreed the senator, "but I found on
closer examination that the theory would not hold water. In the first
place, Goddard, being blind, had, and has, to feel his way
about--probably had to grope around Lloyd's body to locate his
face--which would undoubtedly have aroused the sleeping man...."

"Wait a bit," interrupted Miss Metoaca. "Even if he did awaken Lloyd,
the latter would have thought nothing of finding his friend by his
bedside. They were roommates--and probably, after speaking to Goddard,
he rolled over and went to sleep again.

"Then there's another thing," pursued Miss Metoaca eagerly, as Warren
nodded a silent agreement to her statement. "Symonds declares Lloyd's
wallet was stolen. Why should Nancy take the book when all she needed
was the one single paper, which Stanton contends concerned her?

"Now, Major Goddard is blind. It was impossible for _him_ to pick out
that paper from others; therefore, he would have been forced to steal
the pocketbook."

"That appears plausible," admitted Warren, "but it is _just_ as
plausible to suppose that Nancy, fearing she would be discovered in
Lloyd's room, did not dare to stop and open the pocketbook there, and
so took it away with her."

"You seem mighty anxious to believe Nancy took the despatch," commented
Miss Metoaca, and disappointment lent bitterness to her voice.

"You mistake me," protested Warren warmly. "I will do my utmost to
clear Nancy of these terrible charges; but I fear there is no use
trying to prove Goddard guilty. After Symonds discovered the pocketbook
was missing, he and Doctor Ward searched Goddard's clothing, as well as
the room, but found no trace of the book or the despatch."

"Have you formed any theory as to how Major Goddard came to be lying in
the room unconscious?" inquired Miss Metoaca.

"Well." Warren stroked his gray beard thoughtfully. "He may have had an
attack of vertigo, or, mind you, this is wild guessing, perhaps he and
Lloyd quarreled, and the latter struck him, forgetting his friend's
blindness."

"And perhaps the excitement and shock of a quarrel with his best friend
brought on Lloyd's attack of heart failure," put in Miss Metoaca
excitedly.

"Only time--and Goddard--can tell." Warren shrugged his shoulders as he
rose to go. "At present, Miss Metoaca, we are all groping in the dark,
but I hope for enlightenment soon."

"When will the military commission hold the trial?" Miss Metoaca
followed Warren into the hall.

"As soon as Major Goddard is able to testify. He is one of the most
important witnesses. Now, Miss Metoaca, do stop worrying." Warren was
shocked by the change in the spinster's worn face, which he saw more
clearly in the light from the open door. "I will let you know the
moment something new turns up."

"Be careful how you send news to me," cautioned Miss Metoaca. "This
house is under constant surveillance. The Secret Service men were here
all the morning, going through Nancy's belongings, and searching the
entire house from top to bottom. They even overturned Aunt Betsy's
barrel of soft soap. The Lord only knows what they expected to find
there. I wished they had done it before they handled my clothes, there
would be less dirty finger marks on them." Miss Metoaca snorted with
suppressed indignation. "Our wardrobes are simply ruined. Good-bye,
Senator Warren; my love to your dear wife. I can never thank you enough
for all your kindness." Her lips quivered, and her shrewd old eyes
filled with most unwonted tears.

"Please don't," pleaded Warren, much embarrassed. "You and Nancy have
warm friends, who will stand by you through thick and thin. You must
not get discouraged."

"Discouraged?" echoed Miss Metoaca, winking violently. "When I think of
my dear Nancy in that place--I'd--I'd--like to murder some one myself!"
And she slammed the front door viciously as a slight vent to her
over-wrought feelings.

About the same hour that Senator Warren and Miss Metoaca were
conferring together, Colonel Baker, much dissatisfied in mind, was
walking moodily along F Street. Things had not gone to suit him that
day. The result of the autopsy had puzzled him; the search of Miss
Metoaca's house had proved disappointing, for nothing had been found
there that in any way touched on the supposed murder, or on the
whereabouts of the missing and all-important despatch. As he crossed
the street on his way to the Ebbitt House, he encountered Symonds
hurrying out of the F Street entrance of the hotel.

"Well, Symonds, what news?" he asked briefly, returning the other's
salute.

"I hear that Major Goddard has regained consciousness, Colonel."

"Good!" Baker hesitated a moment; then turned on his heel. "Come with
me, Symonds." And he led the way to Mrs. Lane's. The sentry on duty
before the house saluted as he recognized him, and allowed him to enter
the dwelling.

Baker wasted no time downstairs, but went directly to Lloyd's sitting
room, and rapped softly on the door. In response to his knock, a nurse
appeared in the doorway.

"What is it?" she asked.

"I have come to see your patient, Major Goddard, who I am told has
regained consciousness."

"Oh, that is impossible," exclaimed the nurse, and she made a movement
to close the door.

"One moment!"--sternly--"I am Colonel Baker, of the Secret Service. It
is imperative that I see Major Goddard at once. I will not stay long."
And he edged toward the doorway.

The young nurse had but recently joined the United States Sanitary
Commission, and she was overawed by Baker's authoritative manner.

"Doctor Ward has forbidden ... still," she murmured, "if you will stay
but a few minutes...." She moved reluctantly aside, and Baker stepped
into the room, followed by Symonds.

"Don't worry," said the colonel kindly. "I will explain my presence to
Doctor Ward; you will not be blamed. Where is your patient?"

"In the next room. He has been asleep all the afternoon, but is awake
now."

With noiseless steps Colonel Baker made his way into the next room, and
drew up a chair by Goddard's bedside. Nothing had been disturbed in the
room; the furniture had been left as it was before Lloyd's death. A
feeble attempt had been made to remove the blood stains in front of the
mantel; but the servant had only succeeded in spreading the stains over
the rag carpet.

Goddard moved restlessly, and turned over in bed, so that he faced
Baker; his quick ear had caught the slight sound the newcomer made in
seating himself.

"Nurse, is it you?" His voice was scarcely more than a whisper.

"No, Major Goddard; it is I, Colonel Baker."

"Baker?" Goddard spoke half to himself. "Baker? Not Colonel Baker, of
the Secret Service?" attempting to rise in bed.

"The same, sir, but that need not excite you. Here, let me put this
pillow at your back; you might then be more comfortable." Baker leaned
over, and lifted Goddard up in his strong arms as Symonds slipped the
pillow in place.

"Thanks. Who is the other person in the room?" inquired Goddard weakly.

"Symonds."

"Symonds!" Goddard's eyelids fluttered over his sightless eyes. Baker
did not care to break the pause that followed. Suddenly Goddard roused
himself. "What can I do for you, Colonel?"

"Just answer a few questions as to what happened here yesterday
afternoon. I won't keep you talking long."

"I--I--am not very strong," faltered Goddard faintly.

"You had a nasty fall," sympathized Baker, "and lost a lot of blood
before Symonds found you."

"Found me! Where?"

"Right on this floor, sir," volunteered Symonds. "You gave me an awful
turn, sir; for you looked more dead than..."--he stopped abruptly as he
met Baker's warning glare ... "alive," he supplemented feebly.

At that moment the nurse came in from the sitting room and touched
Baker on the shoulder. "You must go at once," she whispered. "You are
staying too long. Major Goddard must not be excited."

"In a second, nurse." Baker waved her impatiently away, and turned
again to Goddard. "Had you and Captain Lloyd been talking long before
you fell?"

After a prolonged pause came the whisper: "I--I--cannot remember."

Nothing daunted, the Secret Service officer pursued his examination.

"Did Captain Lloyd tell you that an important despatch, _proving_ Miss
Nancy Newton a rebel spy, had been stolen from him by her?"

Goddard was so long in answering that Baker glanced anxiously at the
silent figure on the bed. Goddard's face matched the whiteness of the
pillow case. He must have felt the scrutiny of Baker's searching eyes,
for he moved slightly. Again came the same whisper: "I--I--cannot
remember."

"Now, see here." Baker's voice rose.

Goddard held up a shaking hand. "Wait, Colonel," he stammered. "You
forget I am ill--faint--perhaps later--" He paused for breath. "Instead
of coming to me, why don't you ask Captain Lloyd?"

"For the very good reason that Lloyd is dead," returned Baker solemnly.

"Dead!" Goddard half rose; then sank back on his pillows, panting from
his exertions.

"Yes, dead," went on Baker, watching him closely. "Brutally murdered
last evening." He paused.

"Where?" Goddard's white lips formed the question; the whispered word
could hardly be heard.

"Here in this room while lying on his bed. Now, Major Goddard, I insist
upon knowing..." He spoke to deaf ears; Goddard had fainted away.

A firm hand descended on Baker's shoulder, and swung him about face.

"What in hell do you mean by browbeating my nurse and forcing yourself
in here!" exclaimed Doctor Ward hotly. "Good God! What have you done to
Goddard!" He had caught sight of the latter's ghastly face. "Nurse,
look to your patient! Now, sir, out with you." He pushed Baker in the
direction of the door. "And you go, too, Symonds," as the man rose and
stood uncertain whether or not to assist Colonel Baker in his efforts
to remain in the room.

"I have a perfect right to come here," stormed Baker, bracing his
thick-set figure against the door jamb. "I am investigating Captain
Lloyd's murder, and came here to get Major Goddard's testimony. You
forget, Doctor, I am the head of the Secret Service of this city."

"I don't care a damn who you are," roared Ward, much incensed. "In
managing a sick room, I take my orders from no one. Major Goddard was
in no condition to be interviewed. I have carefully kept all
sensational news from him. By your crass stupidity you have probably
brought on a relapse. When he is able he will give his testimony before
a court composed of his superior officers and to no one else. Now, go!"
And he closed the door in Baker's indignant face.



CHAPTER XX

THE TURNING POINT


Doctor Ward's fears for his patient's condition were well founded. The
shock of his interview with Baker in his weakened condition brought on
an attack of brain fever, and for days Goddard's life hung in the
balance. An experienced Sister of Mercy replaced the young nurse from
the United States Sanitary Commission; and at Doctor Ward's earnest
request the provost marshal stationed a sentry at Goddard's door with
orders to admit no one to the sick room except by the doctor's express
permission. Anxious days followed, the doctor and the nurse grimly
contesting each step of the way as Goddard sank nearer and nearer the
Valley of the Shadow.

Ward bent over the bed, and anxiously scanned Goddard's bloodless face;
then rose and tiptoed softly about the room. He was weary from his long
vigil by the bedside; it was a relief to stretch his cramped limbs
while he waited for the crisis to pass.

"Have you heard anything more about the arrangements for Miss Newton's
trial?" asked Sister Angelica softly.

"No, except that the hearing has been again postponed."

"I cannot believe the charges against Miss Newton," murmured the
sister. "I have seen her frequently at the hospitals when she came to
read to the convalescents and bring them pickles."

"Pickles?"

"Yes, sir. The soldiers prefer them to many luxuries. I have seen Miss
Newton do many kind and generous acts. It is incredible that she should
have planned and carried out so deliberate and cold-blooded a murder."

"Judge Holt asked me to-day--" The doctor's hurried whisper was
interrupted by a sound from the bed, and he hurried to his patient.

Goddard lay on his back, gazing with unseeing eyes at the ceiling, one
thin arm tossed across the pillow. "Nancy," he whispered; "Nancy!"

"He is always calling her name," murmured Sister Angelica. "Poor
fellow--poor girl!"

"Aye," muttered Ward under his breath. "God help them both--one here
and one in prison!"

"Nancy." Goddard's weak voice seemed to gain in strength. "Don't cry,
dear. I am coming." A feeble smile lighted his face; he turned
slightly, his eyes closed, and, with a sigh like a tired child, he
slept.

Ward's hand sought Goddard's pulse. He touched the white cheek. The
skin was cool and moist. Turning to the nurse, his eyes dancing with
delight, he whispered: "The fever is broken. At last Major Goddard is
sleeping naturally."

Sister Angelica's fervid "Thank God!" was lost in the folds of the sash
curtain as she pulled up the shade and let the daylight enter the sick
room.

                     *      *      *      *      *

The days passed on leaden feet for Nancy. The suspense and close
confinement told even on her splendid constitution, and she grew but a
shadow of her former self. The prison food was not inviting; only when
pangs of hunger forced her could she swallow the unappetizing
half-cooked meats and sour bread which were brought to her on a tin
plate by a slatternly negress.

Occasionally the superintendent sent her word of Robert Goddard's
condition, but that was all she heard from the outside world. The
negress, who tidied her room and brought her meals, had received orders
not to speak to the prisoner, and the soldiers on guard at the prison
were, with few exceptions, Germans, who did not understand or speak
much English. Sometimes Nancy actually ached to hear the sound of
friendly voices. The only break in the daily monotony was the
nine-o'clock inspection of prisoners, which occurred each morning, as
well as at night. Nancy spent most of her days standing near the window
and gazing with wistful eyes at the other prisoners, who were allowed
fresh-air exercise in the courtyard under the watchful eyes of the
sentries.

The horrors of the long, sleepless nights were added to by the presence
of rats, who scampered noisily back and forth across the bare floor.
Nancy had discovered one on her bed the second night of her
imprisonment, and her screams brought the guard on the double quick.

"Vat ess de drouble?" he demanded, dashing open the door. He leveled
his Springfield full at the girl, and she heard the click of the
hammer. Another soldier came in, carrying a lantern, and Nancy, huddled
in one corner of her cot, hastily drew the bedclothes about her.

"Rats. Look!" And she pointed to a gray body disappearing down a hole
in one of the corners of the room.

"Ah, Himmel! Dey ess all ober," remarked the guard stolidly, as he
lowered his rifle. "Dere ess no use to holler. We can do nuddings."

"Do you mean to say I have to lie here while those vile creatures run
over me?" exclaimed Nancy wrathfully.

"Ya."

"Go tell Superintendent Wood I wish to see him at once," imperiously.

"Nein," both soldiers spoke at once.

"And you call yourselves men!" ejaculated Nancy scornfully.

"We fight mit Siegel for de Union," retorted the sentry, retreating to
the hall, "and not mit rats." He shut the door and shot the bolt in
place. Nancy was once again in solitary confinement.

                     *      *      *      *      *

To Miss Metoaca and Senator Warren the days fled by all too quickly.
Try as they did, they could find no evidence, no clue that would
benefit Nancy, or prove another guilty of the crime she was charged
with. Secretary Stanton was deaf to all appeals that Nancy's captivity
be lightened, and that her aunt be permitted to see her.

"Treason must be, shall be, punished," he declared. "Miss Newton will
be given an opportunity to clear herself of the charges against her
before a military commission. Until then she must remain in solitary
confinement."

Miss Metoaca refused to be cast down by her rebuffs, and doggedly
persisted in her efforts to obtain Nancy's freedom. She took no part in
the city's mad rejoicing over the fall of Richmond; she was too sick at
heart over her niece's threatened fate.

On the afternoon of the eighth of April she was taking off her wraps in
her own room in a thoroughly discouraged frame of mind. She had just
called on Doctor Ward, who had courteously but firmly refused to allow
her to see Goddard.

"What is it, Jonas?" she demanded crossly, in answer to a timid knock
on her door.

"Mrs. Arnold an' Mrs. Bennett am down in de pawler, Miss Turkey." No
negro had ever been able to pronounce Miss Metoaca's name, and she had
been accustomed from childhood to being called "Miss Turkey" by her
domestics. "Dey done seed yo' come home, an' I'se jes' 'bliged ter show
dem in."

Miss Metoaca considered for a moment. Nancy had confided her suspicions
in regard to Mrs. Bennett to her aunt in February. Should she receive
her now? She had called repeatedly since Nancy's arrest, but Miss
Metoaca had always excused herself. This time she was inside the house,
perhaps already spying around. Miss Metoaca came to a sudden
resolution. "Tell the ladies I will be right down," she called to the
waiting servant, and, true to her words, she joined them without
further loss of time.

"My dear Miss Metoaca," began Mrs. Arnold pompously, but the look in
the spinster's red eyes went straight to her heart, and she threw her
arms impulsively about her in a warm embrace without completing her
sentence.

"It is good of you to come," said Miss Metoaca, touched by Mrs.
Arnold's greeting. "I--I--was feeling very downhearted."

"And no wonder," purred Mrs. Bennett, wiping her eyes with a dainty
handkerchief. "You have borne a great deal, Miss Metoaca, and have our
deepest sympathy."

"You crocodile," thought the spinster, as she said aloud: "It is cruel,
cruel! Nancy never committed that crime, _never_."

Mrs. Arnold and her friend exchanged doubtful glances.

"Have you been allowed to see your niece?" inquired the latter, as Mrs.
Arnold seemed at a loss for words.

"No; and I am convinced the food and clothes I send her never get past
the inspector's office."

"Have you appealed to the President?"

"Have I?" Miss Metoaca's tone was eloquent. "I have tormented that poor
man nearly to death."

"Did he give you no comfort?" asked Mrs. Arnold. "Usually President
Lincoln is only too anxious to sign pardons."

"He doesn't seem to be in this instance," dryly. "He insists that an
open trial will be the best thing for Nancy. 'Murder is evil,' he said;
'evil cannot stand discussion. The more the mystery is discussed the
quicker you will discover clues leading to the murderer. What kills the
skunk is the publicity it gives itself. What a skunk wants to do is to
keep snug under the barn--in the daytime--when men are around with
shotguns.'"

"Is Sam working for you now?" inquired Mrs. Arnold, after a slight
pause.

"Sam!" echoed Miss Metoaca, her surprise causing her to raise her
voice.

Seeing Mrs. Arnold was flurried by the apparent effect of her innocent
remark on Miss Metoaca, Mrs. Bennett answered for her.

"My husband and I met Nancy conversing with the negro Sam, about six
o'clock on the afternoon that Captain Lloyd--ah--died." Miss Metoaca
was intently studying the speaker's face, but she could learn nothing
from the innocent blue eyes raised so confidingly to hers. "Nancy told
us then that Sam, who has often waited on me, was anxious to secure a
place in a private family...."

"And so," broke in Mrs. Arnold, "as I am in need of another
man-servant, I came to inquire about Sam."

"Now that is too bad," exclaimed Miss Metoaca, rallying her wits to her
aid. "I wish I had known before that you needed a servant, Mrs. Arnold.
Sam came to me and asked me to find him a place, so I sent him over to
my cousin, Mrs. Hillen, in Baltimore, as she wanted a good butler." Her
tranquil manner effectually covered a rapidly beating heart. How much
did Mrs. Bennett know about Sam, and where had she gained her
information?

"Great heavens! What is that?" exclaimed Mrs. Bennett, startled out of
her usual calm as a long-drawn howl came from the back of the house.

"It's Misery. Poor dog! He is grieving his heart out for Nancy. I
suspect Jonas has forgotten and shut him in the pantry." Miss Metoaca
made a motion to rise.

"Sit still, dear." Mrs. Bennett detained her by a gesture. "I will go
and release Misery." And before the perturbed spinster could stop her
she had tripped gracefully out of the room.

"Here is Senator Warren," remarked Mrs. Arnold, catching sight of him
through the window as he came up the steps; and Miss Metoaca, all else
forgotten, hastened to the front door.

As Warren greeted her, the shrill voices of newsboys shouting "Extra!"
"Extra!" sounded down the street, and, with a muttered word of apology,
he waited on the steps until a newsboy saw his beckoning hand and
rushed up with the paper. Miss Metoaca and Mrs. Arnold, who had joined
her, read the flaring headlines over Warren's shoulder:

    STIRRING NEWS FROM THE FRONT!
    LEE OVERWHELMED!
    GRANT CRUSHING HIM ON THE EAST!!
    SHERIDAN ON THE WEST!!!

Warren raised his hat reverently. "The end is in sight! Thank God!
Thank God!"

"Oh, I _do_ thank God! This cruel war!" Miss Metoaca choked, and turned
to Mrs. Arnold, who was weeping softly. "Let us go inside." And she led
the way into the hall, where Warren detained her.

"I only came to tell you that the military commission meets day after
to-morrow, the tenth, to try Nancy."

Miss Metoaca drew a long breath. "Anything is better than this
suspense."

Warren nodded understandingly. "I am to see Nancy to-morrow. The judge
advocate has furnished me with a copy of the charges. Did Ward allow
you to talk with Goddard?"

"No."

"How strange!" exclaimed Mrs. Bennett, who had rejoined them, dropping
the extra which she and Mrs. Arnold were busy reading. "I hear the
major is almost well again. Do you know," warming to the subject, "I
consider Doctor Ward is acting very mysteriously in regard to Major
Goddard's condition."

"Indeed? In what way, Mrs. Bennett?" Warren pricked up his ears.

"By his persistent refusals to let anyone into Major Goddard's sick
room. And I am not the only one who thinks so." She paused
impressively, then went on: "Colonel Baker told me that he was
convinced the last time he talked with Major Goddard that he had
regained his sight."

"Is that so?" Warren looked his disbelief. "I will inquire into it.
Good night, Miss Metoaca; I must be running along."

"And we have to go, too," declared Mrs. Arnold. "Don't be discouraged,
dear Miss Metoaca." And she gave the spinster an encouraging pat on her
shoulder.

"Don't allow your mind to dwell too much on your worries," advised Mrs.
Bennett soothingly, as she followed the senator down the steps.

Miss Metoaca nodded a smiling farewell, but when the door was safely
shut the smile faded, and instead her face looked pinched and drawn.
Deep in thought she hastened to the morning room, which was back of the
dining room, and sat down at her desk to scribble a line to her cousin,
Mrs. Hillen.

To a casual eye the desk was as she had left it two hours before. But
Miss Metoaca had a well-developed bump of order, the terror of her
servants, and nothing escaped her eagle eye. One glance showed her the
desk ornaments had been moved. Dropping her pen, Miss Metoaca opened
several of the drawers. One look was enough to show her that their
contents had been disturbed. Every paper was tossed and tumbled.

Feverishly Miss Metoaca went through the remaining drawers. Apparently
nothing had been removed. Just as she was drawing a long breath of
relief, her hand touched a note book concealed under a mass of papers
at the back of the bottom drawer. Pulling it out, Miss Metoaca found
that the book was one used by Nancy to keep the marketing accounts and
other memoranda. She turned the pages hastily--five sheets had been
torn out! The book fell unheeded on the floor, as Miss Metoaca bowed
her head in her trembling hands.



CHAPTER XXI

THE TRIAL


On the morning of the tenth, Senator Warren had difficulty in reaching
the office building on Fourteenth Street, where Nancy's trial was to be
held. The official news of Lee's surrender had just been received at
the Capitol, and the streets were jammed with excited, cheering crowds.
Despite the drizzling rain, groups of citizens paraded, singing "Old
Hundred" with more fervor than harmony, and military bands added their
din to the confusion. As far as the eye could see, flags and gay
bunting waved from every public building and residence.

As Warren pushed his way through a crowd of negroes, who were almost
delirious with joy, he heard the boom of the distant guns in the
fortifications about Washington firing the two hundred salutes ordered
by Secretary Stanton. On entering the long room assigned for the use of
the court, he found the members of the military commission had
assembled. Warren already knew Colonel Andrews, who, by the seniority
of his rank, was the president of the commission, and they exchanged a
few words of greeting. The colonel beckoned to a tall, bearded officer
standing by the door to approach.

"Senator Warren, let me introduce Captain Foster, the judge advocate."

The two men examined each other covertly and with keen interest; they
both realized the gravity of the struggle before them--a young girl's
life hung in the balance--as they gravely shook hands.

"If you are ready, Mr. Senator, we will call the court to order, as we
are already very late, having been detained by the celebration of Lee's
surrender," said Foster courteously. "The necessary witnesses are in
the next room, and the sergeant tells me the prisoner is downstairs
under guard."

At that moment a young man came into the room, and, seeing Warren,
strode over to him.

"Good morning, Dwight," said the senator. "Colonel Andrews--Captain
Foster--this is my colleague, Mr. Dwight, a member of the Washington
Bar, who will assist me in my defence of Miss Newton. I am quite ready
to commence at once, Captain Foster."

In the meantime the seats provided for the spectators in the back of
the room were being rapidly filled. Both Miss Metoaca and Nancy were
very popular in Washington society, and all their friends and relatives
who could procure cards of admission from the authorities had arrived
early so as not to miss any of the proceedings.

A long table with writing materials on it had been provided for the use
of the members of the court, and a smaller one for Nancy and her
counsel was placed near it. Facing the two tables was a chair for the
witnesses, and beyond that another small table for the use of the
reporters.

The officers, who wore their full-dress uniforms and side arms, were
soon seated about the table, with the presiding officer, Colonel
Andrews, at the head, and the judge advocate, Captain Foster, in
undress uniform, facing him at the foot. At a signal from the judge
advocate, one of the orderlies in attendance stepped to the door and
spoke to the sentry.

In a few minutes, Nancy was ushered into the room by the provost
sergeant of the guard. Warren rose instantly, and escorted her to her
seat, and his eyes flashed in admiration of her poise and beauty.

Tranquilly and with dignity, she returned the salutes of the officers;
if she had been receiving them in her own drawing-room, her manner
could not have been more composed.

Mrs. Warren, who sat between Mrs. Arnold and Mrs. Bennett, noticed with
pitying heart the deep shadows under Nancy's eyes and the hollows in
her white cheeks. She bent forward, and impulsively kissed her hand to
Nancy when the latter looked wistfully at her, and was promptly rebuked
by the presiding officer. Nancy had hoped that her aunt would be
present, but Warren had decided to call Miss Metoaca as one of the
witnesses for the defence, and therefore she could not attend the
hearings.

The judge advocate rapped for order; then rose and signed to Nancy to
do likewise as he read from a paper in his hand:

    "Special Orders } War Department,
    No. 576         } Office of the Adjutant-General,
                    } April 8th, 1865.

    "4 ... A Military Commission is appointed to meet in the City of
    Washington, District of Columbia, at nine o'clock on Monday, April
    10th, 1865, for the trial of Miss Nancy Newton.

    "Detail for the Commission

    "Colonel Andrews            U.S. Volunteers
    Major Charles Lane          U.S. Veterans Reserve Corps
    Captain John Taylor         1st Squadron Provisional Cavalry
    Lieutenant Joseph Clarke    1st Mass. Heavy Artillery
    Lieutenant Henry Wells      1st N.H. Heavy Artillery
    Lieutenant Harvey Slocum    3rd Mass. Heavy Artillery
    Lieutenant James Phillipse  2nd District Volunteer Cavalry
    Captain George Foster       --th U.S. Infantry, Judge Advocate
                                    and Recorder.

    "A greater number of officers cannot be assembled without manifest
    injury to the service at this time.

    "By command of the President.

                          "E. D. TOWNSEND,
                          _Assistant Adjutant-General._"

"Prisoner," the judge advocate turned and faced her directly, "do you
object to being tried by any member of this commission?"

"No, sir," answered Nancy calmly.

The officers all rose and stood, while the judge advocate went through
the long ceremony of swearing in the court and then the reporter.
Colonel Andrews in turn administered the oath to the judge advocate.
After the officers had resumed their seats there was a slight pause
while the judge advocate searched among his papers. Finding what he
wanted, he again faced Nancy, who had remained standing, and read in a
voice that was clearly heard through the room:

    "Charges and specifications against the prisoner, Miss Nancy Newton.

    "Charge 1st.--Violation of the 82nd Article of War:

    "Specification.--In this that the said Nancy Newton on or about the
    23rd day of February, 1865, was found acting as a rebel spy in or
    near Winchester, Va., the Headquarters of the U.S. Middle Military
    Division, Major-General Sheridan commanding.

                           "GEORGE LLOYD,
                           _Captain, U.S. Secret Service,
                            Officer Preferring Charges._

    "Charge 2nd.--Murder in violation of the 58th Article of War:

    "Specification.--In that the said Nancy Newton, being in fear of
    arrest within our lines as a spy by order of the said Captain
    Lloyd, who had secured proof of her guilt, did, feloniously and
    with malice aforethought, kill the said Captain Lloyd on Monday,
    the 6th day of March, 1865."

"Prisoner, what say you to these charges and specifications?"

"Not guilty, sir," Nancy answered, without a tremor, and she reseated
herself by Warren's side.

Symonds was the first witness called. After he had been duly sworn, the
judge advocate began his direct examination.

"Your name and occupation?"

"John Symonds, serving as United States Secret Service agent under
Colonel Lafayette C. Baker."

"How long have you been in that service?"

"I have been with Colonel Baker ever since the Bureau was first
established."

"Do you recognize the accused?"

"I do, sir." Symonds glanced hastily at Nancy, then averted his eyes.

"State under what circumstances you have known her?"

"Captain Lloyd, my superior officer, had reason to believe that Miss
Newton was a rebel spy, and I was detailed to watch her movements."

"Do you know what first led Captain Lloyd to suspect the accused?"

"Yes, sir. On the twenty-seventh of December, 1864, I accompanied the
captain to Poolesville. While on our way there we met a Federal
cavalryman riding toward Washington, who said he carried despatches to
Adjutant General Thomas. When Captain Lloyd demanded to see the
despatch, the supposed trooper managed to make his escape, after first
knocking the captain senseless from his horse. As he dashed up the
road, his horse swerved toward the woods skirting the road, and a
low-hanging branch knocked his hat off, and I discovered the rider was
a woman."

A low murmur of surprise from the spectators interrupted Symonds, and
the president rapped on the table with his sword hilt. "Those present
must be silent," he announced, "or the room will be cleared."

"What led you to think the rider was a woman in disguise?" asked the
judge advocate, after silence had been restored.

"By the long hair which fell down her back below her waist."

"You say she escaped. How did that happen?"

"Her horse was fresh, mine lame, and the captain's worn out. It was
impossible for me to overtake her. I soon gave up the chase
discouraged, and returned to Captain Lloyd, whom I found lying
senseless where he had fallen. I rode to Poolesville, procured a horse
and wagon, and brought Captain Lloyd back to this city. But before
doing so I picked up the spy's hat, and on examining it found a number
of hairs sticking to the inside. They were of a peculiar color." He
glanced significantly at Nancy. "Captain Lloyd and I both agreed that
they exactly matched Miss Newton's hair."

"Produce the hairs," ordered the judge advocate.

"I can't, sir," reluctantly. "I gave them to Captain Lloyd, and I don't
know what he did with them."

The judge advocate, who had entered all questions and answers in the
book before him, paused and gazed blankly at Symonds for a moment; then
resumed his examination.

"When did you last see Captain Lloyd?"

"On the afternoon of Monday, the sixth of last March. He had just
returned from Winchester."

"Did he speak of the accused?"

"He did, sir."

"In what way?"

"He told me," Symonds cleared his throat, and spoke impressively, "that
he had absolute proof that Miss Newton was a rebel spy."

"Did he make that statement in the privacy of his room, or in the
public hall?"

"In the hall, sir."

"In a voice that could be overheard?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did Captain Lloyd state what that proof was while you were in the
hall?"

"No, sir; but he _did_ tap his chest and said he had it there."

"Did you see anyone in the hall?"

"No, sir; the hall where we stood was empty except for the captain and
myself."

"In your opinion, did Captain Lloyd speak loudly enough to be overheard
by persons on the floors above or below where you were standing?"

Warren started to his feet. "I object to that question."

"Objection not sustained," ruled the president. "The question is
relevant. Continue, Mr. Judge Advocate."

"Answer my last question, Symonds," directed the judge advocate.

"In my opinion, he could easily have been overheard," declared Symonds
positively.

"When Captain Lloyd told you in the hall that he had absolute proof
that the accused was a rebel spy, did he mention her by name?"

"No, sir."

"Did he speak of this spy in such a way that _anyone_ would know to
whom he alluded."

Symonds reflected for a moment. "No, sir; he did not," he answered
finally.

"Did you go with Captain Lloyd into his sitting room?"

"Yes, sir."

"State to the court what occurred then."

"Captain Lloyd showed me a despatch which he had taken from the dead
body of a rebel officer, Major George Pegram. The captain declared this
despatch was given to Pegram by the accused; that she understood the
Morse code, and had taken the message verbatim from the wire, having
been in the telegraph office at the time it was received."

"Have you that despatch, Symonds?"

"No, sir. I handed it back to Captain Lloyd."

"What did he do with it?"

"He replaced it in his wallet, and put that in the inside pocket of his
coat."

"Can you recollect the words of the despatch?"

"No, sir; I cannot. It was in cipher, and the words made no sense that
I could understand; secondly, I only saw it for a second."

"Would you recognize the handwriting if you saw it again?"

"I think I would, sir," but Symonds looked dubious.

The judge advocate picked up several sheets of paper, apparently torn
from a notebook, and handed them to the Secret Service agent.

"Did the writing of the despatch resemble any of these specimens of the
prisoner's handwriting?" he asked.

Symonds studied the papers intently; then shook his head. "No, sir."

Mrs. Bennett, who had bent forward, the better to hear Symonds' answer,
sank slowly back in her chair. The judge advocate's manifest surprise
was reflected in her face. She paid no attention to his next question;
her busy brain was occupied in planning to get instant word to Colonel
Baker that, in her opinion, Symonds was deliberately lying to shield
Nancy.

"State to the court as briefly as possible what occurred after you
returned the despatch to Captain Lloyd," ordered the judge advocate.

"The captain told me to report to Colonel Baker that he possessed new
evidence, which would hang Miss Newton. He said I was to explain to
Colonel Baker that he had been five days in the saddle and was
exhausted from lack of sleep, and that he was obliged to rest that
afternoon, as he could not keep awake any longer, or words to that
effect."

"One moment," interrupted the judge advocate. "Did all this
conversation take place in Captain Lloyd's room, and was the hall door
closed?"

Symonds considered a second before replying. "The door was closed
during our interview in the room," he said thoughtfully, "but I
distinctly recollect he told me, _after_ I had stepped into the hall,
that he was going to lie down and that I was to be sure and send for
him when the accused was arrested because he 'would sleep like the
dead.'"

Nancy stole an anxious glance at Warren's impassive face, for the
effect of Symonds' testimony on the court was only too apparent; but
the senator was staring steadily at the witness and paid no attention
to his client. She sank back in her chair with a deep sigh.

"Do you think these last remarks of Captain Lloyd could have been
overheard?"

"Yes, sir. The captain did not trouble to lower his voice."

"Did you obey the captain's orders, Symonds?"

"I did, sir. I met Colonel Baker on his return from Baltimore. After
consulting with the Secretary of War, he sent me to tell Captain Lloyd
to join him at the War Department."

"Describe what took place when you reached Captain Lloyd's room that
night," directed the judge advocate; and Symonds gave a dramatic
account of the discovery of Lloyd's dead body and Goddard's unconscious
form. When he had finished, the judge advocate continued his questions.

"Were any chairs or tables overturned in the room, as if there had been
a fight?"

"No, sir; not one."

"You say Captain Lloyd was apparently sleeping naturally in bed.
Explain your meaning a little more clearly."

"Why, sir, he was lying there on his side covered by a bed quilt.
Anyone would have thought, as I did, that he was still asleep."

"Did you send for a doctor?"

"I did, sir. Doctor Ward arrived a few moments before the provost
marshal."

"Did you search for the important despatch?"

"I did, sir; but without finding a trace of either the pocketbook or
the despatch."

"Where did you find the coat Captain Lloyd had worn that afternoon?"

"Hanging on the back of the chair by his bed."

"What did you do when the provost marshal arrived?"

"I turned the rooms over to him, left Doctor Ward in charge of Major
Goddard, and hastened to the War Department to report to the Secretary
of War."

The judge advocate walked over and conferred with Colonel Andrews; then
turned back and addressed Warren courteously.

"I have finished, Mr. Senator. Do you wish to cross-examine the
witness?"

Warren nodded in the affirmative, glanced over his notes, then handed a
slip of paper to the judge advocate, who read the question aloud as he
pasted it in the book in front of him.

"What proof have you, beyond Captain Lloyd's word, that he _took_ that
despatch from the dead confederate, Major Pegram?"

"None, sir," exclaimed Symonds, much astonished.

"Would you question a dead man's word, Mr. Senator?" inquired the judge
advocate sharply.

"I would, sir," declared Warren firmly. He rose and faced Colonel
Andrews. "I respectfully submit to this court that I seriously object
to the introduction of hearsay evidence."

"And I contend, sir," exclaimed the judge advocate, "that Symonds'
testimony is direct evidence. He saw the despatch in Captain Lloyd's
hand."

"You are right there, sir," said Warren courteously. "But Symonds _did
not see_ Captain Lloyd take that despatch from the dead body of the
Confederate. He believes that that paper was taken from Major Pegram
only because Captain Lloyd _told him so_--and _that_, sir, is hearsay
evidence. And I demand in justice to my client, whose life hangs in the
balance, that hearsay evidence be not accepted in this trial."

Major Lane hastily scribbled a few lines, and handed the paper to the
judge advocate, who immediately read the question aloud:

"What induces you to think, Mr. Senator, that Captain Lloyd, a man of
integrity and standing, would manufacture evidence against the
accused?"

"Because of his known animosity toward her," was the prompt reply, "in
proof of which I have direct evidence to offer to this court."

The judge advocate, however, stuck to his argument, and a quick war of
words followed, during which Colonel Andrews bent forward and consulted
Major Lane in an undertone; then came the brief order: "Clear the
court." Warren and the judge advocate ushered Nancy into a small vacant
room, while the spectators were bundled unceremoniously into the hall.

The fresh air in the hall was a relief after the stuffy atmosphere of
the courtroom. Mrs. Warren and her two friends pushed their way to the
end window, opened it, and leaned out, the better to cool their flushed
faces.

"I fear, I greatly fear, Nancy is very deeply involved in this
mysterious tragedy," murmured Mrs. Bennett, so that she would not be
overheard by others in the crowd.

"It looks that way," agreed Mrs. Warren sadly. "Still, I firmly believe
in her innocence. If the court refuses hearsay evidence, they cannot
then prove that Nancy had a motive for killing Captain Lloyd."

"My husband declares that a military court is the fairest and most
impartial tribunal in the world," pursued Mrs. Bennett. "Hark! What is
that music?" A band, preceding its regiment, had wheeled into
Fourteenth Street, some blocks below, and was marching toward them. The
strains of music, at first faint, grew louder in volume. "It
is--yes--it _is_ 'Dixie'!"

"It's the first time in four years that that tune has been heard in the
nation's capital," declared Mrs. Warren excitedly.

"President Lincoln has just said we captured it along with Richmond,
and that 'Dixie' is national to-day," laughed a staff officer, who had
just entered the building. "Is the hearing over for this afternoon,
ladies?"

"I wish it was," sighed Mrs. Arnold. "We dine at four, and...."

Her words were interrupted by the opening of the folding doors. The
closed session was over. Nancy, accompanied by the judge advocate and
her counsel, preceded the crowd back into the courtroom.

"The court in this instance, when so grave an issue is at stake, has
decided not to accept hearsay evidence," announced the presiding
officer, as soon as all noise in the room had ceased.

Warren drew a long breath of relief. "Then I demand that Symonds'
testimony relating to the despatch be stricken from the records."

"Not so fast, Mr. Senator," sternly admonished the colonel. "It is
possible to get direct evidence in regard to Captain Lloyd's capture of
that despatch. You forget, sir, that he was accompanied by Belden, one
of Colonel Young's scouts. Mr. Judge Advocate, you are directed by the
court to telegraph to General Sheridan's headquarters, requesting that
the said Belden be detached and sent back to Washington to testify
before this court; or, if that is not possible, that his deposition in
the matter be taken and forwarded to us. It is three o'clock,
gentlemen; the court will adjourn until to-morrow morning."



CHAPTER XXII

WEAVING THE WEB


The court convened promptly at nine o'clock the next morning. The first
witness summoned by the judge advocate was Doctor Ward. After the usual
preliminaries had been gone through with, he testified that he had
reached Mrs. Lane's boarding house five minutes after Symonds' message
had been delivered to him. He was shown at once to Captain Lloyd's
room.

"I hastily examined Captain Lloyd, and found there was no hope of
resuscitating him. He had apparently been dead for some hours,"
continued the doctor, in answer to a question put by the judge
advocate. "I then turned my attention to Major Goddard, who was still
lying on the floor. There were two single beds in the room, and Symonds
and I lifted the major on to his, after I had dressed his wound."

"Kindly describe Major Goddard's condition when you first examined
him."

"Major Goddard lay with his head on the hearth. Apparently in falling
he had struck the side of his head against the sharp edge of the iron
fender. It had made a jagged cut, which bled profusely. The blow
undoubtedly stunned him; but I think his long unconsciousness was due
to the loss of blood caused by a hemorrhage from the nose."

"What do you think caused his fall?"

"Possibly vertigo. The hemorrhage points to that. Major Goddard was in
a weakened condition before his fall from wounds received about the
head from an explosion of an old-fashioned pistol some time in
February, which had blinded him."

"Is Major Goddard totally blind?"

"At present he is, sir."

"Is there then a prospect of his regaining his sight?"

"It is just possible." Ward's eyes traveled in Nancy's direction. "I do
not consider his case entirely hopeless." He smiled in sympathy, as her
eyes lighted with pleasure.

The judge advocate paused to make an entry on his pad, then resumed his
examination. "What did you do next, Doctor?"

"I sent a note to the United States Sanitary Commission, asking them to
send me a nurse at once."

"Did the Secret Service agent, John Symonds, speak to you of a
pocketbook or a despatch?"

"He did, sir. Said that they were both missing from Captain Lloyd's
coat pocket. I helped him search the rooms for them, but could find no
trace of either of them."

"What did you do after the arrival of the provost marshal?"

"I conferred with him about Captain Lloyd. Considering the mystery
surrounding his sudden death, we both deemed it expedient to hold an
autopsy at once; so his body was removed to the city morgue."

"Did you hold the said autopsy?"

"I did, sir, in the presence of the coroner and Surgeon McBride. Here
is the report of the result." He searched among his papers, and handed
one of the sheets to the judge advocate, who, before inserting it in
his book, read its contents aloud:

    "After a prolonged and careful examination we found no wound or
    mark of violence on Captain Lloyd's body; nor any trace of poison
    in his system. Therefore, we are obliged to believe, in the absence
    of any particular symptom or pathological appearance, that he died
    from some cause or causes to us unknown.

    "It is just possible that the last five days in the saddle without
    sufficient food or sleep might have produced a paralysis of the
    heart which left no symptom.

                         "WILLIAM MCBRIDE,
                               _Surgeon, Kalorama Hospital._
                          JAMES RICHARDS, M.D.,
                               _Coroner, District of Columbia._

    "_March 7th, 1865._"

"I see that you have not signed this report, Doctor," exclaimed the
judge advocate, in surprise.

"I did not entirely agree with my colleagues," explained Doctor Ward.
"I contend that the symptoms would be the same if Captain Lloyd had
been suffocated by some anæsthetic such as chloroform."

"Did you detect any odor of chloroform about Captain Lloyd?"

"No. It evaporates quickly, and the room was well ventilated by
currents of fresh night air from the open window."

"Did you find a bottle which might have contained chloroform anywhere
in Captain Lloyd's apartment?"

"No, sir; but, then, I did not look for such a bottle until after the
autopsy."

"Could it have been removed in the interval?"

"Possibly; but I hardly think it likely. The provost marshal had placed
all the boarders and Mrs. Lane under arrest, and stationed a guard
about the house. No one could enter the captain's two rooms, except,"
remembering Baker's intrusion, "the head of the Secret Service Bureau,
and officers of the provost guard."

"I have no further questions to ask you now, Doctor. Mr. Senator, will
you take the witness?"

Warren, who had followed Ward's testimony with the closest attention,
tore off a sheet from his pad, and passed it over to the judge advocate
to read aloud.

"Is it not possible that Captain Lloyd died from apoplexy, Doctor?"

"No, Mr. Senator. I examined the brain, and found no indication of
apoplexy, although there was a slight, very slight congestion
noticeable at the base of the brain."

Warren quickly wrote another question, and handed it to the judge
advocate, who was busy entering his first question and its answer in
his record.

"Symonds testified yesterday that Captain Lloyd lay in bed as if
asleep. If he had been suffocated, would not convulsions have ensued?"

"Some muscular contractions," admitted Ward, "but not enough to throw
off the heavy quilt which Symonds told me covered his body when he
first approached Captain Lloyd."

Again Warren wrote another question, which the judge advocate read
aloud after a moment's pause.

"Are you willing to swear, Doctor Ward, that Captain Lloyd could not
possibly have died from natural causes?"

"Natural causes?" echoed the doctor. "I don't catch your meaning, Mr.
Senator. A man's natural state is living. It is unnatural for him to
die."

Quickly Warren's hand traveled over the paper; then he tossed the slip
to the judge advocate.

"I will amend my question," read the latter. "Do you think it possible
that the captain died from one of the diseases of nature, such as heart
failure, and so on?"

"No, Mr. Senator, I do not," declared Ward positively. "I am willing to
go on oath that Captain Lloyd was killed by a person or persons
unknown."

Warren reddened, and bit his lip. "I have no further questions to ask,"
he said abruptly.

"Does the court desire to examine this witness?" inquired the judge
advocate. The president replied in the negative, and Ward was then
excused. The next witness was Coroner Richards, who stated that, in his
opinion, Captain Lloyd might have died from an attack of heart failure
superinduced by the fatigue of five days in the saddle with
insufficient food or sleep. His testimony was corroborated by Surgeon
McBride. Warren refused to cross-examine the surgeon, and he was
excused. He was followed on the stand by Mrs. Lane, a tall, raw-boned
woman of middle age.

"How long have you kept your boarding house on F Street?" asked the
judge advocate, after Mrs. Lane had been duly sworn and had answered
the usual questions as to her full name, age, and length of residence
in Washington.

"Six years," was the brief reply. Mrs. Lane never wasted words, if she
could help it.

"For how long a time had Captain Lloyd boarded with you?"

"He took the rooms with me the middle of last December, but did not
spend much of his time in Washington."

"Was he a good tenant?"

"Yes, sir," with more enthusiasm. "He was quiet, never found fault, and
always paid promptly."

"Do you usually supply your boarders with sitting room and bedroom?"

"Oh, no. Captain Lloyd told me he desired privacy; and, as he offered
me fair payment for the two bedrooms, I moved the bed and bureau out of
the front room and put them in Captain Lloyd's own bedroom, because he
often had men stay nights with him. I fixed up the front room as a
sitting room. He had his meals served there whenever he came back in
time for them; he wasn't very regular about returning for them, and
spent most of his days out of the house."

"When did Major Goddard first come to visit his friend, Captain Lloyd?"

"About the last of January. Captain Lloyd sent for me and asked me to
get the extra bed ready, which I did," she supplemented.

"Did you ever hear Captain Lloyd and Major Goddard quarreling?"

"No, sir; I never did."

"Did they seem to be on good terms _all_ the time, Mrs. Lane?" with
emphasis.

"Yes. They were the best of friends. Several of my boarders spoke to me
of it. Captain Lloyd was so stand-offish and morose that they could not
understand Major Goddard's affection for him."

"Was Captain Lloyd on good terms with your other boarders?"

"I believe he was. I never heard otherwise, but he did not see much of
anyone in the house."

"Did he receive many visitors?"

"No, sir; only members of the Secret Service, or army officers."

"When did you last see Captain Lloyd alive?"

"On the afternoon of March sixth. I did not know he had returned to
town until he sent word by my cook that he would like a cold lunch."

"Why did he send that message by the cook?"

"Because I had discharged my two worthless maids that afternoon, and
the new ones I had engaged hadn't come. The cook was the only servant I
had in the house that afternoon."

"Did your cook carry Captain Lloyd's lunch up to him?"

"No, I did. The cook only let him in when he returned."

"Did Captain Lloyd look ill when you saw him that afternoon?"

"No, indeed; only very tired. He told me he was half dead for want of
sleep and could hardly keep his eyes open."

"Was Major Goddard with him?"

"No, sir. Major Goddard had gone out driving before Captain Lloyd
returned."

"Did you let Major Goddard in when he got back from his drive?"

"No, sir. Captain Lloyd had given his latch key to the major before the
latter left Winchester. So the attendant who accompanied Major Goddard
used the latch key and they let themselves in that afternoon."

"Is it your custom to give latch keys to your boarders?"

"I don't do it usually, sir; but Captain Lloyd was in and out of the
house at all hours."

"Did you hear any unusual noise in Captain Lloyd's room that afternoon
or night?"

"No, sir, I did not. As I said before, the cook was the only servant in
the house, and I had to help her in the kitchen."

"Do you know the accused?"

"I do, sir."

"When did you last see her and where?"

"I saw her on the afternoon of the sixth of March when she came to my
house to see her friend, Miss Alice Cary."

Her words created a small sensation, and the President had to rap
repeatedly for order before quiet was restored. Nancy had told Warren
in their interview on Sunday that she had been to the boarding-house,
so he was prepared for the testimony, and no one could read from his
expressionless face what he thought of the new development.

"Did the accused see you?" asked the judge advocate.

"She did," retorted Mrs. Lane. "I let her in."

"Did she go into your parlor?"

"No, sir. She came just as dinner was being served. I told her that
Miss Cary was out, but that she had left word she would be back by
half-past five. Miss Newton seemed very anxious to see Miss Cary, so I
told her to go right to her friend's room and wait there."

"Where is Miss Cary's room located?"

"On the third floor, back."

"Wasn't it unusual to send her upstairs instead of having her wait in
the parlor?"

"No, indeed. She and Miss Cary are very intimate, and they often spend
the day together, either at my house or at Miss Metoaca Newton's."

"Did the accused have a bundle with her?"

"She did."

"Was it a bottle?" eagerly. The court and spectators leaned forward to
catch the reply.

"I couldn't tell, sir. It _seemed_ to be a box of candy."

"What made you think that?"

"The way her dog kept smelling at it, and then it was shaped like a
box."

"Did the dog accompany the accused into the house?"

"He did. I don't mind Misery. He's a good dog, as dogs go, and doesn't
give me any trouble."

"Have you any questions to ask the witness, Mr. Senator?"

For reply Warren handed a sheet of paper to the judge advocate who read
the two questions written on it slowly and one at a time.

"What did Captain Lloyd eat for lunch?"

"Let me see?" Mrs. Lane considered for a moment. "Cold bread, ham,
pickles, and ginger bread--oh, and a cup of coffee."

"Did Captain Lloyd eat very heartily?"

"Well, he ate every scrap I sent up. Aunt Dinah brought the tray down
stairs with her when she came back from telling the captain that
Symonds wished to see him. There wasn't a morsel of food left on the
plates."

"That is all," announced Warren; and at a signal from the judge
advocate, Mrs. Lane left her chair and hastened out of the room.

Mrs. Warren, who had come with Mrs. Bennett, was sick at heart. It was
obvious to all that her husband was fighting against heavy odds. A
whisper here, a look there, showed that every spectator in the room
thought Nancy guilty.

Mrs. Lane's place was taken by Mrs. Lewis, a frail, old lady whose
timorous voice could hardly be heard as the judge advocate administered
the oath to her.

"Now, Mrs. Lewis, will you please speak louder in answering my
questions?" requested the judge advocate. "Do you board at Mrs.
Lane's?"

"Yes, sir."

"Where is your room?"

"On the third floor, front."

"Do you know the accused?"

"I do." Mrs. Lewis wiped her eyes; she was easily moved to tears.

"When did you last see her, and where?"

"On the sixth of March, last----"

"Go on, madam," urged the judge advocate, as her voice died away.

"I finished my dinner--I did not stay for dessert--and went upstairs to
my room. I stopped a moment when I reached the second floor to rest--my
breath is short these days--and I saw Miss Newton coming toward me from
the back hall----"

"Well, what then?" impatiently.

"I--I--know her aunt very well, and Nancy stopped to ask how I was."

"Did she state what she was doing there?"

"Yes, sir. She told me she was waiting for Alice Cary, and had run down
the back stairs to look for her dog, Misery, who she thought had
probably sneaked down to the kitchen. We went upstairs together, and I
went on to my room alone."

"Did the accused find her dog?"

"I reckon she did, though he wasn't in the hall then, because shortly
after she rapped at my door to ask me to tell Alice Cary she couldn't
wait any longer for her, and Misery came into my room while we were
talking."

The judge advocate cleared his throat, and spoke impressively.

"Did the accused have a bottle and a pocket book in her hands?"

"I--I--can't say positively," stammered Mrs. Lewis, doubtfully. "It--it
was dark in the hall, and I am quite near-sighted."

"How was the accused dressed when you saw her the first time?"

"She had on her hat, but no coat. The last time I saw her she was
dressed for the street."

"Did you notice anything unusual about the accused when you met her in
the hall?"

"She looked excited and frightened, and very pale."

The judge advocate smiled with satisfaction; he was piling up damaging
facts against Nancy. He signed to Warren to cross-examine the witness;
but his smile changed to a frown when he read Warren's first question.

"Will you kindly explain to this court how you could see in a dark hall
that Miss Newton 'looked excited and frightened, and very pale,' when
you have just testified that you are too near-sighted to have seen so
large an object as a bottle or a pocket-book in Miss Newton's hands?"

"I do-don't understand?" quavered Mrs. Lewis. The judge advocate
repeated the question with more emphasis.

"I guess I just thought she looked excited and frightened," admitted
the confused old lady reluctantly.

"That is all," exclaimed Warren, and Mrs. Lewis left the chair
dissolved in tears.



CHAPTER XXIII

SENSATIONAL EVIDENCE


Turning quickly, the judge advocate gave an order in an undertone to an
attendant, who saluted and then followed Mrs. Lewis out into the hall.
Warren leaned forward and spoke an encouraging word to Nancy; then
settled back in his chair and fidgeted uneasily with his papers. He
glanced covertly at her. Surely her frank, fearless eyes, her unruffled
demeanor, hid no criminal act; and yet.... Angry with himself for
permitting a doubt, he pulled out his watch and glanced at its face. A
quarter of two....

At that moment the attendant reëntered the room, and delivered a
message to the judge advocate, who rose and announced that the next
witness called to the stand was Major Robert Goddard. All eyes were
turned to the entrance as the folding doors opened and Goddard stepped
into the room, leaning on his attendant's arm.

Wasted by his illness, Goddard's uniform hung loosely on him. He looked
so changed, so pallid and worn, that Nancy dug her nails into her flesh
to keep from crying. The attendant quickly guided him to the witness
chair, then retired to the back of the room as the judge advocate
stepped forward to administer the oath.

When the ceremony was over, Goddard sat down, and, leaning on his sword
hilt, turned his head slowly, as if, not seeing, he were trying to
locate by ear some familiar presence. Warren read his meaning, and in
pity leaned forward and addressed Nancy by name. As her clear voice
answered, Goddard turned instantly in her direction, and a quick bright
smile lighted his wan face. Nancy half rose, but Warren's detaining
hand checked her; and suddenly realizing that she was watched by dozens
of curious eyes, she blushed hotly. Her confusion was noticed by the
judge advocate, who smiled grimly to himself.

"State your full name, rank, and regiment," he began.

"Robert Goddard, Major, --th U.S. Cavalry."

"Your age and the year of your graduation from the Military Academy?"

"Thirty-five. I graduated from West Point in 1850."

"You know the accused?"

"I do, sir."

"When did you first meet her, and where?"

"I met Miss Newton on Monday night, the thirtieth of January, at
Senator Warren's house."

"How long have you known Captain Lloyd?"

"We were school-mates together in New York. I should say I had known
him for about twenty years all told."

"Have you seen much of each other in recent years?"

"Not very much. Our professions kept us apart."

"How did you happen to join him here?"

"I heard that he was here, and wrote him I was coming to Washington for
a few days on leave, and he suggested that I room with him."

"Did Captain Lloyd tell you that he suspected the accused was a rebel
spy?"

"He did, sir."

"And did you agree with him?"

"I did not."

"Have you had any cause since then to change your mind?"

"I object to that question," exclaimed Warren, heatedly.

"Objection not sustained," ruled the president. "Continue your
examination, Mr. Judge Advocate."

"While in Winchester did you see anything in the prisoner's conduct
which made you believe that she was acting as a spy?"

"No, sir; I _saw_ nothing in her conduct which would indicate that."
Only Warren's keen ear caught the slight emphasis on "saw," and he drew
a quick breath of relief when the judge advocate did not press the
question.

"Did you escort the accused and her aunt to Winchester?"

"I did, sir."

"Did you see much of the accused while there?"

"Miss Newton and her niece came often to see me when I was convalescing
from my wounds. I returned to Washington in the same train with them,
but I have not met either of the ladies since we parted at the depot."

"Major Goddard, are you engaged to the accused?"

"I have not that honor," with quiet dignity, and a ripple of applause
sounded through the room. Goddard's eyes strayed in Nancy's direction,
but he could not see the rich color which mantled her pale face. She
dropped her eyes instantly to hide their tell-tale message. If _he_
could not see, others should not.

"When did you last see Captain Lloyd?"

"In Winchester, the day before I returned here."

"Why did he not come back with you?"

"He did not inform me."

"Where were you on the afternoon of Monday, March 6th, last?"

"I went for a drive with my attendant, Donnally, and did not return to
Mrs. Lane's until some time after four o'clock."

"State to the court what occurred after your arrival at the boarding
house?"

"With Donnally's assistance I went directly to my room. He informed me
that dinner was being served, but I had no appetite and did not care to
go in and join a lot of strangers. When we reached the door of our
sitting-room I told Donnally to go down stairs and get his dinner; that
I would ring for him if I needed his assistance. I then entered the
sitting-room and felt my way to a chair by the fireplace. There is not
much furniture in the room, and I was familiar enough with my
surroundings to find my way about without much difficulty----" he
hesitated.

"Go on," prompted the judge advocate. "Tell your story in your own
way."

"I have no idea how long I sat in that chair, whether it was five
minutes or half an hour, for I was deep in thought," continued Goddard.
"Without any warning my nose started bleeding--a way it has since I was
wounded in the face by the explosion of a pistol. The bell was in the
next room, so I felt my way to the communicating door and into the
room...."

"One moment," interrupted the judge advocate. "Was the door closed?"

"Yes, sir; but not locked. I should judge I was about half way toward
the fire place, where I knew the bell was hung, when I became conscious
that there was some one in the bedroom with me.

"I cannot tell you exactly what it was," went on Goddard, after a
slight pause, "that made me think that. I stood still for a moment and
turned slowly around trying to trace the faint, very faint sound I
thought I had heard. Then I lost my bearings. I could not remember in
which direction the door was, nor where the fireplace was located."

"Why didn't you call out?" demanded the judge advocate, sharply.

"I was too confused. Only the blind can know and understand my feeling
of over-powering helplessness," declared Goddard, earnestly. "I stepped
forward, tripped, and fell with all my weight, striking against the
iron fender before I could save myself. I knew nothing more until I
regained consciousness the next day and found myself in bed, with a
trained nurse in attendance."

Everyone in the court room followed Goddard's story with breathless
interest. Nancy never took her eyes from his face; she sat as if
hypnotized.

"What did you trip over, Major?" inquired the judge advocate.

There was a perceptible pause; then came the answer, "A foot-stool."

"Could you tell whether the sound you thought you heard in the room was
made by a man or a woman?" asked the judge advocate, laying down his
pen.

"I could not, sir. It was too intangible to even locate."

"I have finished my direct examination, Mr. Senator. Have you any
questions to ask the witness?"

Warren wrote his message and gave it to the judge advocate.

"Did you know that Captain Lloyd was asleep in the next room?"

"No, sir; I did not even know he had returned to the city," replied
Goddard.

Warren handed another slip to the judge advocate, who read its contents
aloud: "His hat and overcoat were found in the sitting-room later that
night. You were in that room, were you not?"

"I was, Mr. Senator; but you must remember I could not see. I did not
pass my hand over all the chairs or other furniture in the room;
otherwise I might have found his overcoat and hat."

"Could not your attendant, Donnally, have seen them?" wrote Warren.

"Certainly, Mr. Senator; but Donnally did not enter the room with me.
He was standing in the hall when I went inside and closed the door."

"When did you first hear of Captain Lloyd's death?" was Warren's next
question.

"Colonel Baker came in the next afternoon and told me."

"I have no further questions to ask this witness," announced Warren,
after consulting Nancy.

When Goddard retired, his place was taken by his attendant, Donnally.
He stated briefly that he had only accompanied Major Goddard to the
sitting-room door; that he had not looked into the room, being in a
hurry to return downstairs and get something to eat. No, he did not
think it strange that Major Goddard did not ring for him. The major had
said he was not hungry, and that he did not wish to be disturbed. He
was not told that Captain Lloyd had returned. He knew absolutely
nothing of what had happened upstairs in his master's room, because he
had spent his entire time in the kitchen until he was sent for by the
Secret Service agent, Symonds. Warren declined to cross-examine
Donnally, and he was excused.

Symonds was then recalled to the stand. "Do you recollect, Symonds,
whether the door leading from Captain Lloyd's bedroom into the rear
hall was locked that night?"

"No, sir, it was not," replied Symonds, confidently. "It wasn't even
closed. I found it ajar when I rushed over to open it, and call for
assistance after I discovered Captain Lloyd was dead. And what's more,"
he added, "there was no key in the lock."

"Did you find any trace of the key?" inquired the judge advocate,
quickly.

"Yes, sir. Doctor Ward wished to lock the room to prevent curious
persons entering. So I searched the room, and finally found it on the
mantel in the sitting-room half hidden by the clock. I guess Captain
Lloyd was too exhausted to look about for the key, and decided to lie
down without locking the door."

"Were the other doors also unlocked?"

"Yes, sir. I have already testified that they were not locked," and
Symonds looked bewildered.

"Are you sure none of the furniture was upset in Captain Lloyd's
bedroom, Symonds?"

"Absolutely positive, sir."

"That is all, Symonds; you may go. Orderly, ask Mrs. Lane to step
here."

It was after three o'clock, but the judge advocate's manner was so full
of suppressed excitement that Colonel Andrews refrained from adjourning
the court.

"I will not detain you long, Mrs. Lane," said the judge advocate
briskly. "Kindly tell the court what furniture was in Captain Lloyd's
bedroom."

"Two beds, two chairs, a desk by the window, and two bureaus," replied
Mrs. Lane, concisely and without hesitation.

"Are you sure that is all?"

"I am."

"Which hall does Captain Lloyd's bedroom door open into?"

"The back hall, sir."

"And where does that lead?"

"To the back stairs which go down into the kitchen."

"Do these back stairs go up to the third floor?"

"No, sir; only to the second floor."

"So that you have to pass Captain Lloyd's door every time you wish to
go to the kitchen by way of the back stairs?"

"Yes, sir."

"You may go, Mrs. Lane. Orderly, tell Major Goddard that his presence
is needed here."

Goddard was not long in coming, and with Donnally's assistance again
made his way to the witness chair.

"Major Goddard," began the judge advocate, turning over the leaves of
his book, "in your direct testimony you stated that when trying to find
your way out of Captain Lloyd's bedroom you tripped over a foot-stool.
Mrs. Lane has just testified that there was not such a thing in the
room. Symonds has also testified that not one article of furniture that
_was_ in the room was overturned or apparently disturbed in any way.
Now, sir, kindly inform this court what you really _did_ trip over, and
remember," he sternly admonished, "that you are under oath to tell the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

Goddard grew white to the lips, and fingered his sword hilt nervously.
Getting no answer to his question, the judge advocate repeated it.
Still no reply.

"I will alter my question." The judge advocate's accusing voice rang
through the tense silence. "Did you not trip over a dog belonging to
the accused? I demand an answer, sir. Yes or no?"

For one brief second Goddard gazed with white set face in the direction
of the judge advocate; then dropped his face into his trembling hand as
he murmured: "Yes."



CHAPTER XXIV

A STARTLING DISCOVERY


Mrs. Warren, who had spent an anxious evening by herself, heard the
rattle of her husband's latch key, and hurried out to the front door to
meet him.

"Any new developments, dear?" she asked, as he stooped and kissed her.

Warren hung up his overcoat and hat before answering. "Let us go into
the study," he suggested, and waited until they were closeted in the
room before he spoke again. "Goddard has been placed under close
arrest."

"Great Heavens! Why?" Mrs. Warren pushed forward a lounging chair. "Sit
here, dear, you look utterly worn out."

"I am." The senator dropped wearily into the seat and stretched himself
in comfort. "Baker insists that Goddard is an accessory after the
fact." He ceased speaking, and drew out his cigar case and selected one
of its contents. Mrs. Warren threw herself on the sofa near at hand and
waited in silence for her husband to continue his remarks. "The judge
advocate, also, is firmly convinced that Goddard knows more of what
took place in Lloyd's bedroom than he will admit."

"I agree with the judge advocate," admitted Mrs. Warren. "It was only
too obvious this afternoon that Major Goddard was trying to shield
Nancy."

"And by so doing he has accomplished more harm than good." Warren
paused and watched the smoke from his cigar as it curled slowly upward.
"And what is worse, he has _shown_ that he himself believes she is
guilty."

"But, oh, Tom, how he loves her!"

"Yes," Warren's face softened. "He lied like a man. I wish to God he
hadn't been caught!"

"Tom--you--you--_don't_ believe Nancy killed that man?" The question
seemed forced from her.

Warren hesitated. "Nancy swore to me that she was innocent; and
yet--the deeper we go into this affair the more evidence we find that
she _only_ could have murdered Lloyd."

"But, Tom, we have only heard the prosecution's side of the case, so
far. Your defence will surely throw some light favorable to Nancy's
cause."

Again Warren hesitated and twirled his beard with nervous fingers; then
burst out, "I wouldn't give _that_"--he snapped his fingers
derisively--"for my defence! Louise, except Miss Metoaca, there is not
_one_ person I can call as a witness in Nancy's behalf. God help the
girl! My only hope is to shake or discredit the testimony of the
Government's witnesses."

He glanced at his wife's shocked face, and added hastily, "To sum up
the case against Nancy: let us grant that the prosecution has
established a motive for the murder. Now, they have proved, mind you,
_proved_: first, that Captain Lloyd's talk with Symonds in the hall
could have been overheard, and that _no_ one but Nancy could have
understood to whom that conversation referred as no names were
mentioned; secondly, that Nancy was in the boarding-house at that time
on the floor above; thirdly, that later she was seen coming _from_ the
back hall, which Captain Lloyd's bedroom door opens into; fourth, that
Captain Lloyd's door was not locked; fifth, that Nancy had her dog with
her; sixth, that that dog was in the room at the very time Captain
Lloyd was probably killed. Nancy gave Mrs. Lewis a plausible excuse for
her presence in that hall when she said she had gone down stairs to
look for Misery, but I doubt if I can _prove_ her statement. I have
already seen the cook, Aunt Dinah, and questioned her as to whether the
dog or Nancy were in the kitchen that afternoon, and the only response
I could get from her was that she 'disremembered'."

"It is all circumstantial evidence," protested Mrs. Warren.

"Aye, my dear; only circumstantial evidence--but strong enough to
convict her. I have not one witness who can refute this testimony."

"Why not let Nancy testify in her own behalf?"

"Nancy _can_ testify in her own behalf and make a statement, but the
evidence and statement will not be recorded. Besides, what weight will
her unsupported word carry against a dozen witnesses?" asked Warren,
bitterly.

"The coroner testified that Captain Lloyd might have died from heart
failure. Perhaps Nancy entered the room just to steal the paper and
found the captain already dead, and she dare not confess that she was
in his room fearing they would not believe she had not killed him,"
argued Mrs. Warren, hopefully.

"My dear, if she made such an admission the court would lose no time
worrying as to whether she killed Lloyd or not. They would instantly
convict her for being a rebel spy, and she would hang," returned
Warren, grimly.

"Why?" blankly.

"Because if she admits stealing that paper, it is proof positive that
Captain Lloyd's charges are true."

"Scylla and Charybdis!" ejaculated Mrs. Warren. "But you forget, Tom,
that Lee has surrendered."

"And Joe Johnston has not," dryly. "The war is not over. Once convicted
on such a charge Nancy need expect no leniency. I have just left Miss
Metoaca--" A knock interrupted him. "Come in!" Then as his servant
entered, "Well, Hamilton, what is it?"

"Doctor Ward would like ter see yo', suh."

Warren rose. "Is he in the parlor?"

"Yes, suh."

"Wait!" Mrs. Warren sprang up from the sofa. "Hamilton, show the doctor
in here. I am going up to my room, Tom, and you and the doctor can talk
here undisturbed." And with a swish of her skirts she disappeared up
the staircase as the man-servant ushered the doctor into the study.

"How are you, Ward," said the senator, heartily. "Stop, Hamilton, bring
the doctor some refreshments."

"None for me, Senator, thank you all the same." Ward took the chair
pushed toward him, and Warren turned his seat about so as to face his
visitor. "I am sorry to disturb you at this hour, but I felt that I had
to see you at once."

"Oh, that's all right. I am glad you came. I doubt if I can sleep
to-night. The prosecution will rest its case to-morrow, and my work
begins." He opened his cigar case and handed it to the doctor. "Won't
you join me? Here's a match." He put an ash receiver on the table by
Ward's side. "Have you heard of Goddard's arrest?"

"Yes. It is all over town by now; and Stanton is very much censured for
placing him under close arrest. Major Goddard has won the people's
sympathy."

"It is not surprising. His blindness, his evident infatuation for Miss
Newton and desire to shield her appeal to the romantic side of human
nature. I only wish it would have the same effect on the Court,"
growled Warren.

For a few minutes the two men smoked in silence; then Ward laid aside
his cigar. "May I close the door?" he asked. "I have something of
importance to say to you."

"Why, certainly." Warren started to rise, but Ward returned quickly
from closing the door, and resumed his seat.

"I made a startling discovery to-night," he began. "I suppose I should
take my story to the judge advocate; but I am convinced you are
defending an innocent girl, and this information may help you to clear
her."

"Continue," urged Warren, his weariness forgotten. Ward drew his chair
closer to his interested listener.

"You undoubtedly recollect that Captain Lloyd was found dead on Monday
night, March 6th, and that Symonds sent at once for me."

"Yes, yes," exclaimed Warren, impatiently as Ward paused for a reply.

"The next day I called to see Major Goddard in the morning, and again
in the afternoon. To my intense indignation I found Colonel Baker
talking to Goddard, with what results you know. Goddard's condition was
such that I had to remain with him all night.

"When I rose to go the young nurse handed me my hypodermic syringe,
saying that I had left it there that morning. I dropped the syringe
into my overcoat pocket and thought no more of the matter. The weather
turned mild, and I did not use my overcoat again. But this evening I
hunted through its pockets looking for a mislaid letter, and I found my
hypodermic syringe.

"I was considerably puzzled; for I have given many hypodermics since I
used that coat. So I searched through the pockets of the clothes I have
on and found the syringe I have been using constantly. Thinking the
syringe in the coat pocket was the one I carry in my bag for
emergencies, I opened the bag intending to replace it, and was
astounded to find a syringe already there.

"Then I sat down and examined the syringe the nurse had given me. I
found some substance remaining in it; made several tests, and
discovered that it was a solution of curari or curarine."

"Curari!" echoed Warren.

"Curari, called variously 'curara, ourari, woorali', a deadly poison
which leaves no trace when injected into the blood, or applied to an
open wound or sore."

Warren's eyes were fairly popping from his head. "And you think?" he
gasped.

"There is not a doubt in my mind but that Captain Lloyd was killed by
an injection of a solution of curari," declared Ward, positively.
"Every symptom, or rather, lack of symptoms, found at the autopsy
points to its use.

"Realizing what I had stumbled across," continued the doctor, "I
hurried over to the office of the Sanitary Commission, and they told me
there that the nurse, Mary Phelps, was at the Central Hospital. When I
reached the hospital I found Miss Phelps just going off duty. She said
that she had found that syringe tucked between the mattress and the
headboard of Goddard's bed when she changed the sheets. She supposed I
had dropped it there the night before."

Ward ceased speaking, and in uncontrollable excitement Warren sprang to
his feet and walked rapidly up and down the room.

"This ought to help, and yet I cannot see--I cannot see," he muttered;
then wheeled on Ward, who was watching him intently. "Come, Doctor,
haven't you formed some theory which may give me a clue?"

"I have," admitted Ward slowly. "It is one that may lead to very
serious consequences. Curari is a poison that we Americans at present
know little about. It is used by the South American Indians, who dip
their arrow points in it. You can swallow a small dose of the poison
and it will not hurt you. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to
get this drug in this country. I only know one person who possesses a
small quantity of the poison."

"His name?" demanded Warren vehemently. "His name?" Then as Ward still
hesitated, "Good God! man, do you realize that an innocent life may be
sacrificed if you don't divulge his name!"

"It is that which induced me to come to you to-night, Senator," said
Ward reluctantly. "The only man I know who owns that drug is my
preceptor, Doctor John Boyd."

"Boyd!" shouted Warren. "Oh, preposterous!"

"That is what I thought--at first."

"Why, why, damn it, man!" exclaimed Warren. "Doctor John wouldn't do
such a thing. He is just a hot-tempered, peppery old Southern----"

"Exactly, sir, and has been accused of passing information through our
lines. Time and again he has been threatened with arrest."

Warren mopped his hot face; then dropped back into his chair. "Go ahead
and explain your theory more definitely," he directed abruptly.

"Doctor John is devoted to Miss Newton. I don't doubt he has assisted
her on many occasions--" Ward checked his hasty speech. He did not wish
to convince Warren that Nancy was a spy. _That_ would not be doing her
a service.

"Listen to me, Senator," he checked off his remarks on his fingers to
emphasize them. "Doctor John Boyd is the only person who has any curari
in this city--to that I am willing to swear. Miss Newton may have
confided to him that Lloyd suspected her of being a spy, and that she
feared him. Doctor John may have overheard Lloyd when he told Symonds
that he had absolute proof of her guilt. He attends several of Mrs.
Lane's boarders professionally, and may have been in the house at that
time."

"Hold on, hold on; not so fast, man," cautioned Warren. "It is not
likely Doctor John went about carrying poison in his pocket, and how
was it possible for him to be there at the psychological moment?"

"You forget his office is next door to Mrs. Lane's; it would not have
taken him five minutes to get the poison and reënter the boarding
house. Secondly," as Warren still stared at him with unbelieving eyes,
"Doctor John disappeared that night and has not been heard of since."



CHAPTER XXV

A THUNDERBOLT


The court-room was crowded when Colonel Andrews called the court to
order on Wednesday morning. Goddard's arrest had stirred interest in
the trial to fever heat, and the authorities had been besieged by
requests for cards of admission.

Mrs. Warren was late in arriving, having stopped in her carriage to
pick up Mrs. Arnold and Mrs. Bennett, and she found that every seat was
occupied. But the orderly at a whispered word from the judge advocate
placed extra chairs for them near the center table. After thanking the
judge advocate for his courtesy, Mrs. Warren turned and looked
anxiously at Nancy.

The strain of the past two days had told on the girl. She looked
haggard and worn, and her eyes were heavy from lack of sleep. She
caught Mrs. Warren's eye, and smiled bravely in response to a friendly
wave of the hand. She showed far more composure than either of her
counsel. Mr. Dwight was visibly nervous, and Warren preoccupied.

He and Doctor Ward had talked far into the early hours of the morning,
without coming to any decision except that it would be best to ask a
stay of proceedings on the plea that new and vital evidence in Nancy's
behalf could be procured. Warren hesitated even to do that. He realized
all too clearly that he was between the horns of a dilemma. If it
chanced that Doctor Boyd's motive for killing Captain Lloyd was to
secure that despatch and thus protect Nancy, it would but establish her
guilt as a rebel spy. No one would be likely to believe Boyd had
committed such a murder unless he _knew_, and feared the despatch would
incriminate her if allowed to fall into Union hands.

Since seven o'clock Warren had been scouring the city in search of a
clue as to Doctor Boyd's whereabouts, but without success. He had seen
several of the doctor's patients, who could only tell him that Doctor
Boyd had been unexpectedly called out of town, and before going had
notified them to send for Doctor Ward if they needed medical attendance
during his absence. Warren met with no better success when he made
inquiries at Boyd's house. After repeated ringing of the front bell,
and knocking on the basement door, the old housekeeper finally answered
the door. On learning Warren's errand, she said that the doctor told
her he was likely to return at any time; she had no idea where he had
gone, he had told her to keep all mail for him.

Warren glanced impatiently at his watch. Miss Metoaca was to be the
first witness for the defence, and he had promised to escort her to the
trial. Realizing that he had little time to spare before the court
convened, he called a hack, jumped into the vehicle, and was driven to
the Newtons'. Miss Metoaca was ready and waiting for him, and on their
way to Fourteenth Street Warren asked her if she could tell him where
Doctor Boyd had gone. Her reply was discouraging. She had not seen or
heard of him for weeks.

"I would give anything in the world if he were here," added Miss
Metoaca, with emphasis. "He is devoted to Nancy."

Warren silently echoed her wish as he piloted her into the room
reserved for the witnesses.

The judge advocate's first witness that morning was an elderly man who
apparently did not relish his unexpected prominence before the public.
He sat biting his nails and glancing uneasily at Nancy. When being
sworn he was ill at ease, and his behavior created a most unfavorable
impression on spectators and court alike.

"Your full name?" demanded the judge advocate.

"Oscar Brown."

"Occupation?"

"Druggist."

"Where is your drug store?"

"On F Street next the Ebbitt."

"You know the accused?"

"I don't exactly know Miss Newton," he grinned deprecatingly, "but I
have put up prescriptions for her on numerous occasions."

"When did you last see the accused?"

"On the afternoon of the sixth of March, when she came into my store."

"Did she buy any drugs?"

"Yes, sir; a bottle of chloroform."

A gasp escaped Mrs. Warren which was clearly audible in the silent
room. Warren had not told his wife of Doctor Ward's startling
discovery, and Brown's testimony was a distinct shock to Nancy's
tender-hearted and loyal friend.

"Did the accused state why she required chloroform?"

"She did, sir. Otherwise I would not have sold it to her. She said her
cat had been run over and she wished to put it out of its misery. Miss
Newton is so well known, and her character then was respectable----"

"I object," challenged Warren instantly.

"Objection sustained. Witness, do not indulge in reflections. Confine
yourself to answering the judge advocate's questions as briefly as
possible," ordered Colonel Andrews sternly.

"Yes, sir"--much abashed.

"Had the accused a bundle in her hand when she entered your store?"

"No, sir. I put the bottle of chloroform in an empty candy box for her
as she said it was awkward carrying a round bottle, and she feared she
would drop it."

"Indeed!" The judge advocate's satisfaction was apparent. "State the
exact time the accused was in your store."

"About a quarter to four, as far as I can remember. I did not enter the
sale in my books at the time because Miss Newton said she was in a
hurry."

"Have you any questions to ask the witness, Mr. Senator?" asked the
judge advocate. For answer Warren handed him a folded paper which he
read aloud: "Was that the first time you sold chloroform to Miss
Newton?"

"I can't say. It might have been. I do a large business," was the
evasive reply.

"Answer yes or no," thundered Colonel Andrews.

Cowed by the president's manner, Brown answered sullenly, "No."

"How many times have you sold her chloroform?" read Warren's next
question.

"At least three times."

"Since the new year?"

"Before and since; yes, sir."

"Did she state for what purpose she needed the drug?"

"Doctor John Boyd sent her to buy it for him when he was in a great
hurry. Doctor Boyd had a class of young ladies who were learning
first-aid to the injured, and Miss Newton acted as his assistant at the
clinics."

At the man's words Warren started as if stung. A horrible possibility
had occurred to him. Suppose Nancy had visited the doctor's office as
well as the drug store that afternoon! She was probably familiar with
every article in the doctor's office. Could she have known about the
curari? He passed his hand across his damp forehead; then turned to the
witness: "I have no further questions to ask you," and Brown beat a
hasty retreat.

The judge advocate completed his last entry in his book, laid down his
pen, and rose.

"The prosecution rests its case," he announced quietly.

After a brief consultation with Nancy and Dwight, Warren summoned Miss
Metoaca to the stand. The spinster's eyes filled with tears when she
first saw Nancy. She was devoted to her niece, and the signs of
suffering in Nancy's face cut her to the heart. She had to clear her
throat twice to get rid of a suspicious lump before she could be duly
sworn. Though a witness for the defence, the judge advocate asked the
first question, as is the custom in all courts-martial.

"Are you related to the accused?" he asked, when Miss Metoaca was
finally settled in her chair.

"She is my niece, my brother's only child."

At that moment an orderly entered the room and handed a note to Warren.
He quickly broke the seal and a muttered exclamation escaped him as he
read its contents. He crushed the note in his hand, gave a few
low-toned directions to his colleague, and left the room.

Warren had prepared his questions, and Mr. Dwight handed them one by
one to the judge advocate.

"Do you own a cat?"

"I do, or rather, I did. She had to be chloroformed, much to Misery's
delight."

"Misery?" Dwight was confused; he was not familiar with Misery, never
having made his acquaintance. "Who is Misery?"

"My niece's dog. He hated that cat."

The judge advocate frowned as he consulted the defence's next question.
"State to the court the exact day, and why, you chloroformed her."

"Let me see--it was the afternoon of Mrs. Arnold's ball, the sixth. The
cat was run over just before my niece went out, and I asked her to buy
some chloroform, thinking I might have to use it."

"Was the bottle full when the accused handed it to you?"

"To the best of my recollection it was."

"Did the accused appear excited or nervous when she returned with the
chloroform?"

"No, sir."

"At what hour did she return?"

"About twenty minutes past six."

"I have no further questions to ask this witness," said Dwight. "Do you
wish to cross-examine her, Mr. Judge Advocate?"

"Miss Newton," began the judge advocate, "have you taken the 'oath'?"

"I was under the impression you had just administered it to me,"
exclaimed Miss Metoaca, mildly.

"I mean the oath of allegiance," reddening.

"No, sir."

"Nor the accused?"

"Neither of us, sir. We are law-abiding citizens."

"Are your sympathies with the Union or with the Confederacy?"

"They are divided," tranquilly. "I have relatives and friends in both
armies."

"Are you a rebel sympathizer? Answer yes or no."

"I am, sir; like many other Washington women."

"And is the accused also a rebel sympathizer?"

"I cannot answer for my niece's feelings."

"Where was the accused on the night of December 27th, 1864?"

"She spent Christmas with friends in Baltimore, and did not return to
Washington until the day after New Year."

"Kindly give the names of these friends."

"Mr. and Mrs. William Murray, 24 Saratoga Street, Baltimore, Md."

The judge advocate made a note of the names and address.

"That is all, Miss Newton; you may retire."

As Miss Metoaca passed Nancy she bent over and whispered tenderly:
"Don't worry, my darling; you will be acquitted." Then she was gone.

Mr. Davis rose. "May I ask the indulgence of the court," he said
nervously, "that a recess be taken until to-morrow morning? Our senior
counsel, Senator Warren, has been called away."

"Has he been called out of town?" asked the president.

"Oh, no, Colonel."

"Did he say when he would be back?"

"He told me that he would return as soon as he could."

"Have you further testimony to offer?"

"No, sir."

"I object to postponement." The judge advocate rose. "It is unnecessary
taking up the valuable time of this commission, the members of which
have been detached from their respective posts and regiments to serve
on it. The Secretary of War has directed that the hearing be terminated
at the earliest possible date. If Senator Warren wished a recess he
should have so stated before leaving the room. As it is, the accused is
still represented by able counsel. If she does not wish to make a
statement in her own defence, I will submit the case to the court."

"One moment," interposed Dwight firmly. "You forget, Mr. Judge
Advocate, that your case is incomplete. The court has ruled that
hearsay evidence will not be accepted. Belden, the scout, has not yet
testified before this court as to----"

"I forget nothing," interrupted the judge advocate, heatedly. "The
first charge can wait. The second charge of wilful murder has been
proved against the accused."

"I deny it," retorted Dwight. "Without a motive you cannot prove a
murder. The second charge hinges on the first; until that is proven the
second cannot be----"

"I appeal to the court," broke in the judge advocate passionately. "I
contend this is simply a clever ruse to gain time. Can you doubt it,
you who have seen the rope tightened about the prisoner's
throat"--involuntarily Nancy's hand crept up to her neck and plucked
nervously at her collar--"by the testimony of reputable witnesses?

"Captain Lloyd, a gallant soldier, was foully murdered in the
performance of his duty. You, his brother officers, have been told how
the murderess crept down stairs, crept into his bedroom, stole the
pocketbook containing the incriminating paper; then, fearing that he
might still be able to prove her guilt, she leaned over the sleeping
man--and silenced him forever. I tell you," he struck the table with no
uncertain hand, "this has been proved. Let the counsel for the defence
deny it if they can."

"We deny nothing." With set, stern face Warren, who had entered
unnoticed some moments before, pushed his way through the crowded room.
He passed Nancy, without look or word, and stopped midway between her
chair and the seated officers. "We admit the truth of the judge
advocate's statement."

A thunderbolt could not have created a greater sensation. The officers,
as well as the spectators, sat dumb, bereft of speech. Nancy, grown
deadly white, gazed at Warren with agonized, helpless eyes as his
powerful, relentless voice rang out:

"The judge advocate has described to you how she stole step by step
into that room with murder in her heart, the guilt of former days
lending courage to a desperate act. With stealthy tread she crept up to
the bed, her hand fumbled for a moment in the folds of her dress, then
drew out a syringe. Deftly, and with practiced hand, she thrust the
hypodermic needle into the brawny arm which, once so valiant in the
fight, lay helpless on the pillow.

"Calmly she watched the poison flow into Lloyd's veins; then stepped
back and dropped the syringe between the head-board and the mattress of
the other empty bed. As her hands closed over Lloyd's coat the hall
door was pushed open--admitting only a friendly dog.

"Quickly she resumed her search, but another interruption stopped her.
The sitting-room door opened. She started violently and stood with
fast-beating heart. A hesitating step crossed the threshold. Gradually
her breath came back and her guilty heart beat more slowly. A blind man
could not harm her. She removed the pocket-book just as Goddard tripped
over the dog. The sound of his fall aroused the stupefied figure on the
bed. Faintly he whispered a name--a familiar name--the name of----"

[Illustration: "Another interruption stopped her.... A hesitating step
crossed the threshold."]

A shriek rang out--the cry of a soul in torture! The spell-bound
officers sprang to their feet. Spectators climbed on their chairs for a
better view.

"Sit down! Sit down!" roared the judge advocate.

A figure tottered out into the aisle.

"Air! Air! I must have air!" The judge advocate stepped aside. "For
God's sake, let me go!"

"That is just what we cannot do. Guard, here is your prisoner," and
Warren caught Mrs. Bennett as she fell.



CHAPTER XXVI

BY A HAIR'S BREADTH


Again and again Colonel Andrews demanded order in the court-room, but
the spectators were utterly demoralized and refused to be quiet. It was
only after Mrs. Bennett had been carried unconscious into another room
that the confusion somewhat abated. Nancy, trembling in every limb, in
the reaction which followed her terror and shock, collapsed in her
chair, incapable of speech. Mrs. Arnold, whose complexion had turned
pasty from her emotions, clung frantically to Mrs. Warren and begged
tearfully to be taken home.

Colonel Andrews, purple in the face with his exertions, bellowed in a
voice at last heard above the racket: "This unseemly behavior must
cease! Major Lane, call the guard and clear the room!"

Silence quickly followed the order, and Warren turned and addressed the
excited court:

"I ask your indulgence for precipitating such a scene. I returned to
this room intending to ask a stay of proceedings so that I could have
time to gather evidence against Mrs. Bennett; but, on hearing the judge
advocate's argument against postponement, I saw my opportunity to force
a confession from the guilty woman by giving details of Captain Lloyd's
murder which would induce her to think there had been an eye-witness to
her crime.

"Sitting there, confident that another was practically convicted for
Captain Lloyd's murder, the shock of my unexpected words affected her
as I hoped they would, and she betrayed herself."

"Is that the only evidence you can offer to prove Mrs. Bennett's
guilt?" demanded the judge advocate, harshly.

"My next witness is Miss Mary Phelps, a nurse of the United States
Sanitary Commission," was Warren's noncommittal reply.

After the usual preliminaries Miss Phelps told how she found the
hypodermic syringe and why she gave it to Doctor Ward. She was then
excused, and her place taken by Doctor Ward, who in a few concise words
described how he discovered that the syringe was not his, and that it
contained a solution which, on examination, proved to be a form of
curari. He produced the syringe and gave it to the judge advocate.

As he left the court-room Doctor John Boyd's name was called, and the
famous surgeon limped into the room and to the witness chair, followed
by a low ripple of excited comment from the spectators which was
quickly quelled by Colonel Andrews' peremptory demand for silence. When
Doctor Boyd had satisfactorily answered the judge advocate's first
question after being sworn, Warren began his direct examination.

"Doctor, are you acquainted with the poison known as curari or
curarine?"

"I am. Some of the drug was given to me when I was last in South
America. It is almost impossible to procure it in this country now."

"How many people knew that you owned this drug?"

Doctor Boyd reflected a moment before answering. "I am sure only two
people beside myself--my former assistant and Mrs. Bennett."

Colonel Andrews had no need to call for silence; one could hear a pin
fall in that quiet room as court and spectators bent forward, the
better to hear Doctor Boyd's low voice.

"How did Mrs. Bennett learn that you had some curari?"

"She came in to my consulting room one day last November. I had just
been making some physiological tests, and the bottle containing the
curari was on my table. After I had given her the prescription she had
come for she asked me what the bottle contained.

"Curari is a curious poison, and one that is not much known, at least
at this date. I explained that the South American Indians used it on
their arrow points in the chase, animals killed by it being quite
wholesome. I also told her that curari may, except in very large doses,
be swallowed with impunity, but if introduced into a puncture of the
skin, so as to mix with the blood, the effect is instantly fatal, and
leaves no trace of poison behind it. She asked me how to obtain a
solution of the drug, and I explained in detail; then, seeing she was
ready to go, I rose and put the bottle of curari back on its shelf in
the small medicine cabinet that hangs near my table."

"Is the cabinet kept locked?"

"No. My old housekeeper, Martha Crane, has charge of my private office
and would not think of disturbing any of my belongings."

"Did you know Captain Lloyd?" read the judge advocate, pasting Warren's
last question in his book.

"I first met Captain Lloyd on New York Avenue one morning in January,
but I saw him again that same night." The surgeon paused.

"Give a full account of that last occasion," directed Warren.

"I was attending a supper party at Senator Warren's," began Boyd. "We
were having a pleasant evening when the bell rang and the servant told
the senator that a gentleman wished to speak to Major Goddard. Senator
Warren immediately asked Captain Lloyd to step into the parlor, but he
declined, saying he preferred to wait in the hall for his friend.

"Suddenly I was startled by a half-stifled moan, and turned to see
where the sound came from. Mrs. Bennett was crouching on the sofa
behind me; her face livid, her eyes starting from her head. I followed
her glance and saw Captain Lloyd standing directly under the hall
light."

"Did Captain Lloyd see Mrs. Bennett?"

"No; we were sitting in the darkest part of the room, besides which he
was too occupied in staring at Major Goddard and Miss Newton to notice
anyone else."

"What happened next?"

"Major Goddard joined his friend almost at once and they went away
together. Then, before I could catch her, Mrs. Bennett fell fainting on
the floor. If ever I saw naked fear it was in her livid countenance
when she gazed at Captain Lloyd.

"Naturally I was curious to know what connection there was between Mrs.
Bennett, a society butterfly, and Captain Lloyd of the Secret Service,
particularly as I was informed that she was a Union spy, but my
professional duties claimed all my attention. And I forgot about the
scene until it was recalled to my mind by Mrs. Bennett herself."

"In what way?"

"I was talking with her at the President's levee on March 2nd, and
spoke of Major Goddard. She asked me if Captain Lloyd had returned to
town with him, and I replied in the negative."

"Was that the last time you saw Mrs. Bennett?"

"No. I saw her on the afternoon of the 6th of March going in to Mrs.
Lane's. My housekeeper, Martha," he added, before the judge advocate
could speak, "told me, when I entered my office a few seconds later,
that Mrs. Bennett had just left, having waited for me in the front
office for some time."

"Is the communicating door between the office and your consulting room
kept locked when you are absent?"

"No, never."

"Then a patient could enter your consulting room without disturbing
your housekeeper?"

"Yes."

"Did you see Mrs. Bennett waiting on Mrs. Lane's doorstep?"

"No, she was just turning the front doorknob and entering when I passed
the house."

"Did she see you?"

"No, I think not. Her back was turned to me."

"Is your usual office hour at that time in the afternoon?"

"No."

"Then Mrs. Bennett knew that you were likely to be out at that hour?"

"Yes; she told my housekeeper that she had a bad attack of neuralgia,
and had called on the chance of finding me in."

"Where have you been during the past month, Doctor?"

"I left Washington that very afternoon on my way to Richmond."

"Just a moment," interposed Warren, and handed another slip to the
judge advocate, who read the question aloud. "Did Mrs. Bennett know you
expected to leave town?"

"She did. I told Mrs. Arnold in her presence that I expected to go away
at any moment, and did not know exactly when I would return."

"Continue your statement," directed Warren.

"I went to Richmond to see my brother. On my arrival there I found him
in one of the hospitals, dying." Boyd's keen eyes grew misty. "I stayed
with him to the end. I found my services needed in that unhappy city,
so remained; but just before the evacuation I went over to Petersburg
to assist in the field hospitals. I only returned to Washington this
morning."

"When did you first hear of the charges against Miss Newton?"

"When I reached my house this morning I found Doctor Ward there making
inquiries of Martha as to my whereabouts. We went into the office, and
Ward told me of Miss Newton's arrest and trial, finally mentioning his
suspicions that curari had been used. I sprang out of my chair, walked
over and pulled open the door of the cabinet. The bottle of curari was
empty. I also found on further search that one of my hypodermic
syringes and needles, which I keep in the top drawer of my table, were
missing."

"Did any one have access to your offices during your absence from the
city?"

"No. I locked both the doors and bolted the windows of those rooms
before I left that afternoon, and took the keys with me, knowing that I
might be away from home for some time."

"What did you do on discovering the curari was gone?"

"Doctor Ward and I agreed that Senator Warren should be sent for. On
his arrival we consulted together and decided that Mrs. Bennett must
have killed Captain Lloyd."

"That is all, Doctor," announced Warren. "Mr. Judge Advocate, take the
witness."

"Do you know any motive for Mrs. Bennett's crime?" inquired the judge
advocate.

"Fear, deadly fear."

"Do you know what inspired that fear?"

"No, sir; I do not."

"You are excused." And the doctor, bowing to the court and to Nancy,
withdrew.

"May it please the court to recall Major Goddard," said Warren.

"Major Goddard is under close arrest and cannot leave his quarters,"
replied the President.

"But there are no longer grounds for such arrest," retorted Warren,
warmly. "He cannot now be accused of being an accessory after the fact.
By President Lincoln's permission I was allowed to see the major this
morning, and I say to you in all earnestness that his testimony is
needed to clear up this mystery. I have here an order from the
Secretary of War," extending a long envelope which had been delivered
to him a moment before, "releasing Major Goddard from arrest."

Convinced by Warren's earnest appeal, the presiding officer despatched
an orderly for Goddard.

Nancy's color had returned, and her eyes sparkled with relief and
renewed courage as she talked in a low tone with Warren and Dwight
during the short wait that followed. Goddard soon made his appearance,
for his conversation with Warren had prepared him for such a summons.
His whole bearing had changed. He entered the room erect and smiling,
and despite his blindness moved with quick, decisive step as the
orderly guided him to the witness chair.

"State to the court Captain Lloyd's _full_ name," ordered Warren.

"George Lloyd Irving." His announcement caused low voiced comment, and
Colonel Andrews pounded for order.

"Why did Captain Lloyd drop his family name?"

"Because he desired to lose his identity after a certain tragedy in his
family."

"Give a full account of that tragedy."

"After graduating from West Point I was ordered West, and I did not see
Captain Lloyd until seven years later. I found him greatly changed from
the kindly, happy boy I had known in former days. After we had been
together for a month we drifted into our old friendly ways, and one
night Lloyd confided his troubles to me and why he had dropped his
surname.

"Three years before that date, when on a visit in the West, he had met
a very pretty, charming girl, became infatuated with her, and after a
brief courtship they were married. Shortly after the honeymoon they
both realized they had made a fearful mistake. She had married Lloyd
for the social position his name could give her. She found that Lloyd
hated society and would go nowhere. He was also comparatively poor and
could not supply her with the luxuries her shallow nature craved. So
they endured a parrot and monkey life of it. After the birth of their
baby there was continuous friction, for Lloyd declared that to cut down
expenses to meet additional bills they would have to live in a farm
house which he owned near a village in New Jersey.

"They moved there and things went from bad to worse. Mrs. Irving hated
the village people. Their church socials and the sewing circles seemed
to mock her; for she craved balls and brilliant receptions. She never
troubled to return the calls of the friendly farmers' wives, and
finally she was shunned. Lloyd, who went to and from his work every
day, was wrapped up in the baby, a sickly little girl, and paid but
little attention to his wife's tempers.

"One day, driven to desperation by the monotony of her existence, for
which she chiefly had herself to blame, Mrs. Irving decided to leave
Lloyd. He had been sent to Philadelphia to investigate a criminal case,
and was expected back the next afternoon. Mrs. Irving dismissed her
servant, and at noon the next day, after writing a note to Lloyd, she
shut up the house and trudged into town, reaching the station in time
to catch the train to the city."

Goddard stopped his long narrative, and cleared his throat nervously.
Nancy had never taken her eyes from him, and, as if he felt their
appeal, he turned and spoke as if addressing her alone.

"Unfortunately, Lloyd was detained in Philadelphia by illness. When he
reached his home he found his house closed, his wife gone, and his
delicate baby _dead_ from starvation and exposure in the bitter
weather. His farm was on a little-frequented road; his nearest neighbor
six miles away. No one had noticed the closed house; no one had
approached near enough to hear the baby's cries.

"From that moment Lloyd was a changed man. He waited until after his
child was buried; then started in pursuit of her unnatural mother. I do
not suppose," added Goddard hastily, "that it ever occurred to Mrs.
Bennett that Lloyd might be prevented from returning home that
afternoon. She had no particular affection for the child, and decided
that having a baby with her would be a drag. She also undoubtedly
reasoned that Lloyd would not trouble to find _her_, but if she took
the _child_ away he would instantly institute a search for her.

"Lloyd spent months trying to trace his wife. Finally word reached him
that she had sailed on an ill-fated ship which was wrecked, and his
wife was reported among those drowned. Convinced that she was dead, he
let the matter drop. But, knowing Lloyd as I did, I am convinced that,
had he suspected his wife really was _alive_, he would have killed her,
for he worshipped that baby. Many a night I have been wakened by his
calling: 'Baby-tot! baby-tot!' in heart-rending tones in his sleep, as
I told Senator Warren this morning."

"Why did you not relate this narrative when you testified yesterday?"
asked the judge advocate, after Warren signified that he could
cross-examine Goddard.

"Because I never connected Lloyd's unhappy married life with the cause
of his murder. I thought his wife was dead."

"Did you ever see Captain Lloyd--Captain Irving's wife?"

"No, sir. You can prove my statements by going to the village where the
child is buried. I don't doubt you can find some farmers who can
identify Mrs. Irving."

"Then you have no direct proof to adduce that Mrs. Irving and Mrs.
Bennett are one and the same person?"

"I have no such proof," admitted Goddard, "but any one of average
intelligence----" His hot-tempered speech was interrupted by a request
that the judge advocate see Mrs. Bennett, who had regained
consciousness.

Interest was keyed to the highest pitch, and the judge advocate's
return to the room was hailed by a low murmur of suppressed excitement.
He laid down a paper and announced gravely: "Mrs. Bennett has
confessed."

For the moment there was absolute stillness; then spontaneous applause
broke out from Nancy's friends, which was instantly checked by Colonel
Andrews.

"In her signed confession Mrs. Bennett states that she _is_ Mrs.
Irving," continued the judge advocate. "She bribed a poor woman who was
sailing on that ill-fated ship to assume her name, thinking it would
mislead her husband should he try to find her. When she heard the woman
was drowned Mrs. Irving considered that she was safe. She altered her
appearance by dyeing her hair and by other artificial means. Her
pleasing address and good education assisted her, together with a
forged reference, in securing a position as companion to a rich
invalid. Some months after that she heard of the death of her child,
and she considered one of the links binding her to the past had been
broken. Two years went by; then she met Colonel Bennett at Saratoga,
and three months later they were married.

"Mrs. Irving states that she spent December and the first part of
January in the North, and only returned to Washington the day before
Senator Warren's supper party. On her arrival she had an interview with
Secretary Stanton and agreed to find out and report which women in
society were sending aid and comfort to the enemy. When she saw and
recognized Lloyd she was panic-stricken; not only had she knowingly
committed bigamy, a criminal offence, but exposure meant social ruin.
And while only indirectly responsible for her child's death, she _knew_
Lloyd, and realized that he would stop at nothing to revenge what _he_
considered the child's _murder_.

"From that night she planned to get rid of Lloyd. It was easy for her
to keep out of his way, for he was in Winchester most of the time. Then
she remembered the curari--the poison that left no trace!

"Accompanied by Mrs. Arnold, she visited Major Goddard, and then found
out where their rooms were located and how to reach them. Fate played
into her hands, for on that sixth of March she met Aunt Dinah, whom she
knew, having lived at Mrs. Lane's with her husband when he was first
ordered to duty in Washington. Aunt Dinah, who was returning from
executing an errand at Brown's drug store, told her that Captain Lloyd
had returned and was lying down in his room. Mrs. Lane had said he was
not to be disturbed, as he was asleep. Aunt Dinah announced she was
dead tired herself from answering the front door in addition to her
other work. Mrs. Irving promptly suggested that she leave the front
door on the latch, and she watched the old colored woman follow out her
suggestion. At last the way was clear. Mrs. Irving knew the house; knew
the hours kept by the boarders; if she was seen in the house she had a
plausible excuse to explain her presence there. So she secured the
poison and committed the murder as already described.

"Mrs. Irving declares that she stole the pocketbook thinking it might
contain some papers which referred to her. She burned the case and its
contents without examining them, such was her haste to get rid of what
might prove incriminating evidence against her. She only took the
pocketbook, because she dared not linger long enough to search Lloyd's
other belongings, as she could not lock the hall door, and she was in
deadly terror for fear some one would walk in on her.

"That is all in the confession which refers to this trial," ended the
judge advocate, as he laid down the paper.

"I respectfully submit to the court," began Warren, rising, "that my
client has been absolutely vindicated, and demand that she be released
from imprisonment."

"The accused has been proven not guilty of the charge of wilful
murder," said Andrews, slowly. "But, Mr. Senator, she has _not_ been
cleared of the first charge. We must first hear Private Belden's
testimony."

The judge advocate rose. "I have here," he announced, taking up an
envelope, "a telegram which was handed to me as I entered the room just
now. I have not had a moment in which to read it." As he spoke he tore
open the envelope. Quickly he scanned the lines, then read them aloud:

    "Cavalry Headquarters, April 12, 1865.
    Captain George Foster,
    --th Infantry,
    War Department, Washington.

    "I have to report that Private Belden was killed during the battle
    of Sailors' Creek, April 6th, 1865.

                         "H. K. YOUNG,
                         _Chief of Scouts_".



CHAPTER XXVII

WITH MALICE TOWARD NONE


The judge advocate handed the telegram to the presiding officer as
Warren stepped forward.

"I respectfully submit to the court," he said, quietly, "that the first
charge against my client is quashed. You have ruled not to admit
hearsay evidence. Symonds' testimony in regard to the securing of that
despatch from Major Pegram is hearsay. Furthermore, he declares on
direct examination that my client's handwriting is not the same as that
of the despatch. My client has already been vindicated of the second
charge; the first is non-proven. Again I demand my client's honorable
acquittal at your hands."

The judge advocate rose to sum up his case, but his argument was
interrupted by the entrance of an orderly who handed him a note which
he read in haste; and he changed the words almost on his lips.

"May it please the court," he said. "I have received word that new and
most important testimony has been discovered relating to the first
charge against the accused----"

"You are too late, Mr. Judge Advocate," exclaimed Warren, hotly. "I
have already presented my argument to the court. The case is closed!"

"Not so." The judge advocate picked up a book from the table and read
aloud: "'The court may, in the interest of truth and justice, call or
recall witnesses, or permit their recall at any stage of the
proceedings; it may permit material testimony to be introduced by
either party quite out of its regular order and place, or permit a case
once closed by either or both sides to be reopened for the introduction
of testimony previously omitted, if convinced that such testimony is so
material that its omission would leave the investigation incomplete.'"

The judge advocate closed the book with a snap and laid it back on the
table. "I respectfully contend that Colonel Baker's testimony is
necessary before this case is closed. Here is the colonel's note, Mr.
President," and he passed the paper to Colonel Andrews, who, after
perusing it, handed the paper to the other members.

"The court rules that it is both permissible and necessary to hear
further testimony," announced the colonel. "Call Colonel Baker to the
stand."

Vexed and angry, Warren resumed his seat. Was victory to be snatched
from him at the crucial moment. He dared not glance at Nancy, and sick
at heart he listened to the judge advocate's slightly hoarse voice
administering the oath to the new witness.

"Do you know the accused?" asked the judge advocate after Baker had
given his full name and rank in the service.

"I do. I placed her under arrest as a rebel spy."

"What evidence have you to prove that fact?"

"This." Baker put his hand in his pocket and drew out a small red
leather cardcase which was caked with mud. Nancy's eyes distended with
fear, and she whitened perceptibly. "I have searched Miss Newton's
house a number of times, but without success. To-day I decided to make
one more effort, and so ransacked the place thoroughly. When in the
stable I noticed that a red-brown field spaniel was doing a lot of
snooping around in the rose garden, and I watched him for about ten
minutes. Finally he located his bone and dug it up, and with it a tin
box which contained this leather case."

Nancy almost cried out. Misery had betrayed her--her pet companion, her
little dumb, loyal friend, whose companionship she had longed for for
many days. She could hardly see Baker's movements through the stinging
tears that surged into her eyes.

Baker took from the case a much-worn paper, and without further comment
handed it to the judge advocate, who cleared his voice and read its
contents aloud:

    "Special Order {        WAR DEPARTMENT,
        No. 17     { Richmond, Va., June 25th, 1862.
                        (Extract)

    "2 ... The Bearer, Miss Nancy Newton, of Washington, District of
    Columbia, having volunteered her services, is hereby appointed as
    Special Agent of Confederate States Government, subject to the
    approval of this Department. Commanders of Posts, Officers of
    Guards and Patrols will render all assistance in their power.

    "Quartermasters will furnish all necessary transportation.

                         "By Command of the President.

    "Description

    "Age--21
    Stature--5 ft. 7-1/2 in.
    Forehead--Broad
    Eyes--Hazel
    Nose--Rather short and straight
    Mouth--Medium size
    Chin--Round, with deep dimple
    Hair--Red-golden
    Complexion--Fair
    Face--Oval

                         "JAMES A. SEDDON,
                         _Sec'y of War_."

Silently the presiding officer accepted the paper, inspected it, then
passed it over to the members of the court.

"Have you any questions to ask the witness, Mr. Senator?" asked the
judge advocate.

"Who was present when you found that paper, Colonel Baker?"

"The provost marshal and two of his men," answered Baker; then added:
"The leather case is stamped with the prisoner's initials."

"That is all. I have no further questions to ask," said Warren, and
Baker departed.

"Do you desire to present argument, Mr. Senator?" asked the judge
advocate.

Warren glanced at Nancy's averted face.

"The case rests on its merits," he said slowly. "The evidence is before
the court; but I must plead that in reviewing it the court will
remember the youth of the prisoner and her sex."

"Stop!" Nancy was on her feet in an instant, her slender form drawn to
her full height. "It is my right to make a statement in my own behalf.
I desire no such plea entered. My sex prevented my taking arms in the
field for the cause I love; so I strove to aid the Confederacy in the
only way I could, by woman's wit. Like the Cause," her voice trembled,
"I have failed.

"Gentlemen, I am a spy; that most despicable of characters. You are
soldiers. You fight in the open and die, honored; I fight in the dark
and die--dishonored. You fought for love of the Stars and Stripes; I
for love of the Stars and Bars."

A brief pause followed as Nancy's clear, unfaltering voice ceased; then
Colonel Andrews rose.

"The court is closed," he announced solemnly. "The findings will be
sent to the proper authorities."

Nancy swayed slightly, recovered herself, bowed to the court, then
turned blindly and followed the corporal of the guard out of the room.
Silently the crowd dispersed; the shadow of coming tragedy stilling all
desire for light chatter.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Nancy rose and paced the small prison room restlessly. Anything to get
away from her own thoughts. For forty-eight hours she had heard nothing
from the outside world. She had not closed her eyes the night before,
and Friday found her weary and unstrung by her long vigil.

She wondered dully when the sentence would be carried out. She hoped
soon. She pushed her hair back from her forehead nervously. Her
thoughts turned to her aunt and then to Goddard. Surely she would be
permitted to see them; they would not let her face the end alone.

She had never thanked Senator Warren for all his kindness; all that he
had tried to do for her, and all that he had accomplished. At least she
was not branded as a murderess. And yet Goddard had thought her capable
of such an act!

Nancy's eyes burned with hot, scalding tears that fell one by one;
bravely her white lips hushed their moan. She must not lose her
self-control. Resolutely she turned and straightened her few
belongings. She was so absorbed in trying to forget painful thoughts
that she did not hear the sentry open the door, nor a hesitating
footstep that crossed the threshold.

"Nancy," said a pleading voice. The girl wheeled around, the carmine
mounting her bloodless cheeks. Without a word she stepped forward and
was clasped in Goddard's strong embrace. "Do not cry so, my darling,"
and he stroked her hair with loving hand.

"I must--I must--it is the first time I have given way," gasped Nancy
between her sobs. "Oh, Bob, you don't know how I have wanted you; to
feel your strong arms about me; to know"--her voice sank--"to know you
love me in spite of all----"

"Love you!" the man's voice was rough with the intensity of his
emotions. "I love you so it frightens me. God! Why am I so helpless?
You are more precious to me than all the world, and I can do nothing."

"Do you call it nothing to offer to die in her place?" asked a quiet
voice behind the lovers, and Lincoln, who had walked into the room
unheard, closed the door.

Nancy's eyes shone like stars. "Did Bob do that?"--forgetting greeting
in her excitement.

"Yes," replied Lincoln, seating himself on the edge of the bed and
placing his tall hat beside him.

"You will let me, Mr. President," pleaded Goddard vehemently. "I am
blind--helpless--my life will be no loss--I have served my
country--while she----" Nancy clung to him in sudden terror. "I give
you my word Nancy will henceforth be loyal to our Government."

"Seems to me you are promising a good deal," said Lincoln, dryly.

"You _will_ let me?"--eagerly.

"Die in her stead? No."

"And you are right," declared Nancy, as Goddard stooped over her to
hide his bitter disappointment. "I will not accept such a sacrifice."

"'Greater love hath no man,'" quoted Lincoln softly. "You have warm
friends, Nancy. Doctor Boyd was with me at noon. He told me that your
father on his death-bed made you swear that you would do your utmost to
assist the Confederacy. Is that so?"

"Yes." Nancy raised her head bravely and met unflinchingly the gaze of
the saddest eyes she had ever seen in human head. "But it was not only
that, Mr. President. Like all loyal Virginians, I loved and believed in
the Cause."

"As I believe in _my_ Cause, Nancy. Suppose we leave Cause and effect
to our Maker; He knows and will not judge our errors harshly, for God
is love. The fighting is practically over. Dear child, are you willing
to trust to me to heal the war-hurt, and to accept the protection of
the flag again, the flag your forefathers died for?"

"Yes," said Nancy, brokenly. It hurt most cruelly to renounce _her_
Cause; and Lincoln, ever quick to detect suffering, spoke to Goddard in
an undertone as Nancy walked to the window to regain some hold on her
composure.

"Ah, Nancy," he said, as she returned; "I was not surprised to hear
Symonds did not recognize your writing. He did not know you were
ambidextrous." An exclamation escaped Nancy. "You forget you once
showed Tad that you have that gift--so your right hand did not know
what your left one wrote." Lincoln laughed gently; then rose. "I left
my wife in the carriage and I must not keep her waiting too long, as we
are going to Ford's Theater to see 'Our American Cousin.'

"Major Goddard, I expect you to report to me to-morrow that your
_wife_," he glanced mischievously at Nancy, "has taken the 'iron-clad
oath of allegiance'--to us _both_." Lincoln stepped to the door and
beckoned to Superintendent Wood, who was waiting in the corridor, to
enter. "Superintendent, this prisoner is to go free. Here is her
pardon, signed, sealed and delivered," handing it to the officer.
"Good-bye, Nancy;" as he looked at the weeping girl his face was a
benediction. "God be with you until we meet again!"

Five hours later the Martyr President had joined the Great Majority.
Abraham Lincoln! Man of the people! Sorrowing nations paid tribute at
his bier.





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