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Title: The Courier of the Ozarks
Author: Dunn, Byron A. (Byron Archibald), 1842-1926
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 Courier of the Ozarks" ***

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



by The Kentuckiana Digital Library)



                      THE COURIER OF THE OZARKS

                     THE YOUNG MISSOURIANS SERIES

                           BY BYRON A. DUNN

               AUTHOR OF "THE YOUNG KENTUCKIANS" SERIES


    WITH EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS
    BY H. S. DeLAY

    CHICAGO
    A. C. McCLURG & CO.
    1912

    Copyright
    A. C. McCLURG & CO.
    1912

    Published September, 1912

    W. F. HALL PRINTING COMPANY, CHICAGO


     _To the Loyal Men of Missouri, who as members of the militia
     did so much to save the State to the Union, this book is
     dedicated. History gives them scant notice, and the Federal
     government has failed to reward them as they deserve._



[Illustration: "Follow the colors," he shouted.]



PREFACE


During the year 1862, after the capture of Island No. 10 and New Madrid,
no large armies operated in Missouri; but the State was the theater of a
desperate guerrilla warfare, in which nearly or quite a hundred thousand
men took part. It was a warfare the magnitude of which, at the present
time, is very little known; and its cruelty and barbarity make a bloody
page in the history of those times.

This book is a story of this warfare. It is a story of adventure, of
hair-breadth escapes, and of daring deeds. In it the same characters
figure as those in _With Lyon in Missouri_ and _The Scout of Pea Ridge_.
It tells how our young heroes were instrumental in thwarting the great
conspiracy by which the Confederate government, by sending officers into
the State, and organizing the different guerrilla bands into companies
and regiments, was in hopes of wresting the State from Federal control.

As in former books, history is closely followed.

    BYRON A. DUNN.
    Waukegan, Illinois.
    _August, 1912._



CONTENTS


I BRUNO CARRIES A MESSAGE

II AN INTERNECINE WAR

III A MYSTERIOUS COMMUNICATION

IV MOORE'S MILL

V A FIGHT IN THE NIGHT

VI KIRKSVILLE

VII POINDEXTER CAPTURED

VIII LONE JACK

IX CAPTURED BY GUERRILLAS

X THE GUERRILLA'S BRIDE

XI THE STORY OF CARL MEYER

XII THE NEWS FROM CORINTH

XIII PORTER CAPTURES PALMYRA

XIV TEN LIVES FOR ONE

XV A GIRL OF THE OZARKS

XVI A WOUNDED CONFEDERATE

XVII TRAILING RED JERSEY

XVIII LIVE--I CANNOT SHOOT YOU

XIX MARK HAS A RIVAL

XX CAPTURING A TRAIN

XXI THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAINS

XXII MARK CONFESSES HIS LOVE

XXIII INTO THE LION'S MOUTH

XXIV PRAIRIE GROVE

XXV CALLED TO OTHER FIELDS



ILLUSTRATIONS


"Follow the colors," he shouted.

"Halt the advance. Ambuscade!" gasped Harry.

Down the street they rode at full speed.

"You pretend to be men and call this war?"

To catch the rider as he reeled from the saddle.

Her revolver was pointed at his breast.

He was looking into the muzzle of a revolver.

An old man leaning on a staff.



THE COURIER OF THE OZARKS



CHAPTER I

BRUNO CARRIES A MESSAGE


"Down! Bruno, down!"

These words were uttered in a guarded whisper by a boy about seventeen
years of age, to a great dog that stood by his side.

At the word of command, the dog crouched down, his whole body quivering
with excitement. His master gently patted him on the head, and
whispered, "There, there, old fellow, don't get nervous. Our lives would
not be worth much, if we were discovered."

The boy was lying full length on the ground, concealed in a dense
thicket, but from his point of vantage he had a full view of the road
which ran a few yards in front of him. This road ran north and south,
and nearly in front of where he lay another road entered it, coming in
from the west.

The cause of the dog's excitement was apparent, for coming up the road
from the west was a large body of horsemen, and a motley troop they
were. They were mostly dressed in homespun, and armed with all sorts of
weapons, from cavalry sabers to heavy knives fashioned out of files by
some rude blacksmith; the army musket, the squirrel rifle, and the
shotgun were much in evidence.

As the head of the column reached the north and south road the leader
called a halt, and looked up and down the road, as if expecting some
one. He did not have long to wait. The sound of the swift beating of
horse-hoofs was heard from the south, and soon three men came riding up.
One, a man of distinguished looks and military bearing, was a little in
advance of the other two. As he came up, the leader of the little army
saluted him awkwardly and exclaimed, "Glad to see you, Colonel. What
news?"

"Glad to see you, Captain Poindexter," replied the Colonel. "I see you
are on time. As for the news, all goes well. Within a week all Missouri
will be ablaze, and the hottest place for Yankees in all Christendom.
How many men have you, Captain?"

"About five hundred, and more coming in all the time."

"So that is Jim Poindexter, the bloody villain," muttered the boy
between his set teeth, and nervously fingering his revolver. "How I
would like to take a shot at him! But it would not do. It would be
madness."

The next question asked by the Colonel, whose name was Clay, and who had
been in the State for the past two months promoting the partisan
uprising, was, "Where is Porter?"

"At Brown's Springs. I am to join him there tonight. But he was to meet
me here with a few followers, knowing you were to be here."

"Good! I will be more than pleased to see him," answered Colonel Clay.
"But I thought he was farther north."

"Most of his force is," answered Poindexter. "But he promised to meet me
at Brown's Springs with five hundred followers. We have our eye on
Fulton. My spies report it is garrisoned by less than a hundred men.
Fulton captured, I can supply my men with both clothes and arms, and
then Jefferson City next."

"Jefferson City?" asked Colonel Clay in surprise. "Do you look that
far?"

"Yes. Thanks to the Yankee Government, there are not over five hundred
soldiers in Jefferson City. Fulton once taken, the boys will flock to
our standard by thousands, and Jefferson City will become an easy prey."

"Accomplish this, Poindexter," cried Colonel Clay, "and Missouri will be
redeemed. All over southwestern Missouri the boys are rallying and
sweeping northward. The object is to capture Independence, and then
Lexington. This done, we will once more control the Missouri River, and
the State will be anchored firmly in the Southern Confederacy. Then with
your victorious legions you can march south and help drive the Yankee
invaders from the land. Poindexter, Missouri can, and should, put fifty
thousand Confederate soldiers in the field."

Poindexter shrugged his shoulders. "Colonel, not so fast," he exclaimed.
"I could not drag my men into the regular Confederate service with a
two-inch cable. Neither do I have any hankering that way myself. The
free and easy life of a partisan ranger for me."

Colonel Clay looked disgusted. "Captain," he asked, "don't you get tired
of skulking in the brush, and waging a warfare which is really contrary
to the rules of war of civilized nations? There is little honor in such
a warfare; but think of the honor and glory that would await you if you
could free Missouri, and then help free the entire South. Why, it is not
too much to say that the star of a general might glisten on your
shoulder."

A look of rage came over the face of Poindexter. "If you don't like the
way we fight," he growled, "why are you here, urging us to rise? If we
can free this State of Yankees, we will accomplish more than your armies
down south have. We prefer to fight our own way. Here, I am a bigger man
than Jeff Davis. I fight when it suits me, and take to the brush when I
want to. If you have any thoughts of influencing me or my men to join
the regular Confederate army, you may as well give up the idea. As for
the rules of civilized warfare, I don't care that," and he snapped his
fingers contemptuously.

Colonel Clay concealed the indignation and disgust which he felt towards
the fellow, and said: "While we may not think alike, we are both working
for the same cause--the liberation of our beloved Southland from the
ruthless invasion of the Yankee hordes. If you can accomplish what you
think, surely the South will call you one of her most gallant sons.
Neither should we be too squeamish over the means used to rid ourselves
of the thieves and murderers that have overrun our fair State."

"Now you are talking," exclaimed Poindexter, with an oath. "If Porter
comes--and he should be here by now--we will discuss the situation more
thoroughly; but the first thing for us to do is to capture Fulton."

"Are you sure," asked Clay, "that your plans will not miscarry? Mr.
Daniels, one of the gentlemen here with me, informs me that that
regiment of devils, the Merrill Horse, is only a few miles to the west.
May they not interfere with your plans?"

At the mention of the Merrill Horse, Poindexter's countenance took on a
demoniac expression. Striking the pommel of his saddle with his clenched
hand, he hissed: "I will never rest until I shoot or hang every one of
that cursed regiment. But you are mistaken in thinking the force west
consists of the entire Merrill Horse. Only part of the regiment is
there; the rest is up north. The force west is about five hundred
strong. I have given out the impression that I am making for the woods
which skirt Grand River, to join Cobb. Every citizen they meet will tell
them so. Little does Colonel Shaffer, who is in command, think I have
slipped past him, McNeil believes Porter is up around Paris--the most of
his force is--but he is to join me here with a goodly number. Ah! here
he comes now."

Down the road from the north a party of horsemen were coming at a swift
gallop. They rode up, and salutations were spoken and hands shaken.

A look of passion came into the face of the watching boy, and again he
fingered his revolver. Even the dog partook of the boy's excitement, for
his whole body was quivering.

"Quiet, old boy, quiet," whispered the boy. "No doubt you would like to
tear the bloody monster to pieces, and I would give ten years of my life
for a shot, but it will not do."

The boy was now listening intently, trying to catch every word that was
said.

"Mighty glad to see you, Jo," Poindexter was saying. "How many men have
you at Brown's Springs?"

"About four hundred when I left; but squads were coming in continually.
I count on six hundred by night."

"Good! Then we will swoop down on Fulton tonight."

"Don't know about that," answered Porter. "Many of the boys have ridden,
or will ride, fifty miles to join us. Their horses will be tired.
Tomorrow will be all right. How is everything?"

"Splendid," answered Poindexter, rubbing his hands. "Not over a hundred
soldiers in Fulton. The only drawback is that there is a Yankee force of
about five hundred a few miles to the west, part of them the Merrill
Horse."

"The Merrill Horse! The Merrill Horse!" cried Porter with a dreadful
oath. "I thought they were north. They are surely giving me enough
trouble up there."

"About four companies are down here, under the command of
Lieutenant-Colonel Shaffer," answered Poindexter. "They have been trying
to find me for the past week. But they haven't found me yet," and he
chuckled. "The fact is," he continued, "I have fooled them. Shaffer
thinks I am making for the woods along the Grand River, to join Cobb. I
skipped past him last night. By this time he is making for the Grand
River as fast as he can go. No trouble from him in our little business
with Fulton."

"Don't be too sure," exclaimed Porter. "Shaffer is about as sharp as the
devil; but I trust you are right."

The conversation now took a general turn, Colonel Clay going over the
ground, telling them what was being done, and what he hoped would be
accomplished. "As for me," he said, "I must be across the river by
tomorrow. Everything depends on the movement to capture Independence and
Lexington. Then, if you gentlemen are successful here, and capture
Fulton and Jefferson City, our brightest hopes will be fulfilled. I must
now bid you good-bye. May success attend you."

The Colonel and his two friends rode back towards the south, from whence
they came. Poindexter watched them until they were out of sight, and
then, turning to Porter, said: "What do you think, Jo? The Colonel
wanted me and my men to join the regular Confederate army."

"Humph!" sniffed Porter, "I reckon you jumped at the chance."

"Not much; but he did more. He mentioned that I was not conducting this
blood-letting business strictly on the rules of genteel, scientific
murder."

"I reckon, before we indulged in a necktie party, he would want us to
say, 'Beg pardon, sir, but I am under the painful necessity of hanging
you,'" replied Porter, indulging in a coarse laugh.

"I told him," continued Poindexter, "we fought as we pleased, and asked
no favors of General Price, Jeff Davis, or any other man. As for the
Confederate service, none of it for me."

"They have offered me a colonelcy, if I take my men down into Arkansas,"
answered Porter. "If it gets too hot for me here I may go. You know
there is a price on my head. But I must go, or my boys will be getting
uneasy. Join me at the Springs as soon as possible." Thus saying, he and
his party rode away.

Poindexter ordered his men to fall in, and they followed Porter, but at
a more leisurely gait.

When the last one had disappeared, the boy arose and shook himself.
"What do you think of that, Bruno?" he asked, patting the dog's head.
The dog stood with hanging head and tail, as if ashamed he had let so
many of his enemies get away unharmed. He looked up in his master's face
and whined at the question, as much as to say, "I don't like it."

"Well, my boy, there is the Old Nick to pay. Both Porter and Poindexter
on the warpath. Fulton to be attacked, and not a hundred men to defend
it. Shaffer with the boys miles away. How are both to be warned? We must
see, old fellow, we must see. There is no time to lose."

Thus saying, the boy hurriedly made his way back through the woods where
in a hollow in the midst of a dense thicket a horse stood concealed.
Those who have read "The Scout of Pea Ridge" will readily recognize the
boy as Harry Semans, and Bruno as his celebrated trained dog. After the
battle of Pea Ridge and upon the dissolution of the company of scouts
under the command of Captain Lawrence Middleton, Harry had returned to
Missouri, and become a scout for the Merrill Horse. The Merrill Horse,
officially known as the Second Missouri Cavalry, was a regiment composed
of companies from Missouri, Illinois, and Michigan.

It can safely be said that no other regiment in the Federal army ever
saw more service in fighting guerrillas than did the Merrill Horse. From
the very first of the war their work was to help exterminate the
guerrilla bands which infested the State. The name "Merrill Horse"
became a terror to every bushwhacker and guerrilla in Missouri. No
trail was so obtuse, no thicket so dense that members of that regiment
would not track them to their lair. A true history of the Merrill Horse,
and the adventures of its different members, would read like the most
exciting fiction.

When Harry reached his horse he stood for a moment in deep thought, and
then speaking to Bruno, said: "Yes, old boy, you must do it. I know you
can, can't you?"

Bruno gave a bark and wagged his tail as if to say, "Try me."

Tearing a leaf from a blank book, Harry wrote a brief note to Colonel
Shaffer, telling him what had happened, and begging him to march with
all speed to Fulton. This note he securely fastened to Bruno's collar
and said, "Bruno, go find Colonel Shaffer and the boys. You know where
we left them. Go."

For a moment Bruno stood and looked up in his master's face, as if
undecided.

"Go and find Colonel Shaffer. Go," Harry repeated, sternly.

The dog turned and was away like a shot. Harry gazed after him until he
was out of sight, then patting the glossy neck of his horse, said, "Now,
Bess, it's you and I for Fulton; the machinations of those two
archfiends, Poindexter and Porter, must be brought to naught."

Harry believed he would have no trouble in reaching Fulton, as the
guerrillas were generally quiet near a place garrisoned by Federal
troops, therefore he took the main road, as he was desirous of reaching
Fulton as soon as he possibly could. He had not gone more than two miles
when he met two men, rough-looking fellows, whom Harry had no desire to
meet, but there was no way to avoid it, except flight, so he rode boldly
forward.

Harry was dressed in the homespun of the country, and had all the
appearance of a country bumpkin. As to arms, none were visible, but
stowed away beneath his rough jacket was a huge navy revolver, and Harry
was an adept in the use of it.

"Hello, youn' feller," cried one of the men. "Whar be yo' goin' in sich
a hurry? Halt, and give an account of yo'self."

"Goin' to Fulton, if the Yanks will let me," drawled Harry. "Whar be yo
'uns goin'?"

"That 's nun yo' business. Air yo 'un Union or Confed?"

"Which be yo'uns?"

"Look heah, young feller, nun of yo' foolin'. I reckon yo' air a Yank in
disguise. That 's a mighty fine hoss yo 'un air ridin'. 'Spose we 'uns
trade."

"'Spose we 'uns don't."

During this conversation Harry's right hand was resting beneath his
jacket, grasping the butt of his revolver.

"I reckon we 'uns will," jeered the fellow, reaching for his pistol.

Quick as a flash Harry had covered him with his revolver. Fortunately
for him, the two men were close together. "Hands up," he ordered. "A
move, a motion to draw a weapon, and one or both of you will die. It
don't pay to fool with one of Porter's men."

The hands of both went up, but one exclaimed, "One of Porter's men? Be
yo' one of Porter's men? We 'uns are on our way to join him. We 'uns
heard he was at Brown's Springs."

"Yo 'uns will find him thar. I am taking a message from him to a friend
in Fulton. Yo 'uns can lower your hands. I reckon we 'uns understand
each other now."

"We 'uns certainly do," said one of the men, as they dropped their
hands, looking foolish.

"Wall, good-bye; may see yo 'uns in Fulton tomorrow." And Harry rode
off, leaving the men sitting on their horses watching him.

"Ought to have shot both of them," muttered Harry, "but I cannot afford
to take any risks just now."

Harry had no further adventures in reaching Fulton, and at once reported
to Captain Duffield, who was in command of the post.

Captain Duffield listened to Harry's report with a troubled countenance.

"A thousand of the devils, did you say?" he asked.

"Yes, and more coming in every hour."

"And I have only eighty men," replied Duffield, bitterly. "If they
attack before I can get help, there is no hope for us."

"Colonel Shaffer is a few miles to the west with about five hundred
men," replied Harry. "If they do not attack tonight, as I do not reckon
they will from what Porter said, he may be here in time to help. I have
sent him word."

"Sent him word? By whom?" asked Outfield, eagerly.

"By my dog," and Harry explained.

As Duffield listened, his countenance fell. "I see no hope from that,"
he said. "It is preposterous to think that a dog will carry a message
for miles, and hunt up a man."

"If you knew Bruno, you would think differently," replied Harry,
smiling.

"I can put no dependence on any such thing," said Duffield. "My only
hope is getting word to Colonel Guitar, at Jefferson City. If I get any
help, it must come from him. God grant that Porter may not attack
tonight."

"I think there is little danger tonight, but they may be down in the
morning," said Harry. "Do you think Guitar can reinforce you by
morning?"

"He must; he must. I will send a message to him by courier mounted on
one of my fleetest horses."

"Bess is about as fast as they make them," replied Harry. "I know the
country. I will go if you wish."

Duffield looked at him a moment doubtfully, and then said, "You may go,
as you can tell Colonel Guitar all you have told me. But I will send one
of my own men with you."

Captain Duffield wrote two messages, giving one to Harry, and the other
to the soldier who was to accompany him.

"If you have trouble," said Captain Duffield, "for the love of Heaven,
one of you get through, if the other is killed. The safety of this post
depends on Colonel Guitar receiving the message."

"It will go through, if I live," calmly replied Harry, as he carefully
concealed the message in the lining of his coat.

To Harry's surprise, the soldier detailed to go with him proved to be a
boy, not much older than himself. He was mounted on a spirited horse and
his manner showed he was ready for any kind of an adventure, no matter
where it might lead.

The shades of night were falling when Captain Duffield bade them
good-bye, and they rode away and were soon lost to view in the dusk.

Captain Duffield stood looking after them, and then said to one of his
lieutenants, "I don't know what to make of that boy. He told a straight
story, but his thinking that dog of his would take a message to Shaffer
is a little too much to believe."

But Captain Duffield soon had other things to think about. Reports began
to come in from other sources of the gathering of the guerrillas at
Brown's Springs, and their number was augmented to two thousand. He
posted his little force in the best manner possible to resist an attack,
and with an anxious heart, watched and waited through the long hours of
the night; but to his immense relief, no attack came.



CHAPTER II

AN INTERNECINE WAR


After the battle of Pea Ridge, the Confederate Government had no regular
organized troops in Missouri. General Sterling Price, with his Missouri
regiments, which had enlisted in the Confederate service, was ordered
east of the Mississippi. But there were thousands of State troops that
had followed Price, and although they refused to enlist in the regular
Confederate service, they were, at heart, as bitter towards the Union as
ever. These men found their way back home, and although thousands of
them took the oath of allegiance to the Federal Government, the majority
of them were not only ready, but eager, to ally themselves with some of
the guerrilla bands which were infesting the State.

The Federal authorities, knowing that Price, with his army, had been
ordered east, thought that the Confederates had given up all hopes of
holding the State, and that the fighting was over, except with small
guerrilla bands, that could easily be kept in check. Therefore, the
great majority of the Federal troops in Missouri were withdrawn to swell
the armies of Buell and Grant.

The Confederates now thought they saw their opportunity. Numbers of the
Confederate officers secretly made their way into the State and
commenced to organize the disloyal forces, co-operating with the
guerrilla bands. Among these officers was Colonel Clay, who appeared in
the first chapter.

This movement was so successful that during the summer of 1862 it is
estimated that there were from thirty to forty thousand of these men
enrolled and officered. Places of rendezvous were designated, where all
were to assemble at a given signal, and, by a coup-de-main, seize all
the important points in the State which were feebly garrisoned. Then
they were to co-operate with an army moving up from Arkansas, and the
State would be redeemed.

It was a well laid plan, but fortunately it was early discovered by
General J. M. Schofield, who was in command of the Department of
Missouri. How General Schofield first received his information will be
told hereafter.

General Schofield frantically appealed to Halleck for aid, and then to
Washington, but he was answered that owing to the great military
movements going on, not a regiment could be spared.

General Schofield, thus left to his own resources, rose grandly to the
occasion. He would use the Confederates' own tactics. So he ordered the
entire militia of the State to be enrolled. Thousands of Confederate
sympathizers fled the State, or took to the bush. During the summer of
1862 between forty and fifty thousand loyal State militia were
organized. Thus the whole State became one vast armed camp, nearly forty
thousand men on a side, arrayed against each other.

It was father against son, brother against brother, neighbor against
neighbor. The only wonder is that owing to the passions of the times
there were not more excesses and murders committed than there were.

During the year 1862 there were at least one hundred and fifty
engagements fought on the soil of Missouri, in which the numbers engaged
varied from forty or fifty to five or six thousand. In these engagements
General Schofield says the Union troops were successful in nine out of
ten, and that at least three thousand guerrillas had been killed,
wounded, or taken prisoners, and that ten thousand had fled the State.

This terrible warfare between neighbors receives scant mention in
history, but in no great battles of the war was greater bravery shown,
greater heroism displayed, than in many of the minor engagements fought
in Missouri.



CHAPTER III

A MYSTERIOUS COMMUNICATION


In the month of May, 1862, a young Federal officer reported in St.
Louis, and found himself without a command, and without a commission.
This officer, Captain Lawrence Middleton, had greatly distinguished
himself during the first year of the war on the staff of General
Nathaniel Lyon. After the death of Lyon he was commissioned a captain by
General Fremont, and authorized to raise an independent company of
scouts. With this company he had rendered valiant service in the
campaign which ended with the battle of Pea Ridge.

Many of the acts of Fremont, and a number of commissions which he had
granted, had been repudiated by the Government, and thus Middleton had
found himself free. But he had no intention of remaining inactive, his
heart was too much in the cause. If no other field was open, he would
enlist as a private soldier. But there was no need of that, he was too
well known. Though young, scarcely more than eighteen, he had rendered
services and performed deeds which made his name known throughout the
State. He had thwarted the machinations of Frost, Price, Governor
Jackson, and other disloyal leaders in their efforts to drag Missouri
out of the Union.

While Lawrence was undecided just what to do he met Frank P. Blair, who
was overjoyed to see him. He had been Blair's private secretary during
the troublesome months before the opening of the war, and a lieutenant
in one of his regiments of Home Guards.

Blair, who had been appointed a brigadier general in the Federal army,
had been at home on business, and was about to return to his command.

"Never better pleased to see anyone in my life," said Blair, nearly
shaking Lawrence's arm off. "Oh, I've kept track of you, you've been
keeping up your reputation. But what are you doing in St. Louis? I
thought you were with Curtis."

Lawrence told Blair of his predicament,--that he was now without a
command or a commission.

"Good!" cried Blair, shaking Lawrence's hand again. "I was about to
write to Curtis to see if I could not get you away from him. I will see
that you are commissioned as captain, and I will detail you on my staff.
I need just such fellows as you."

"I couldn't ask anything better," said Lawrence, "and, General, I thank
you from the bottom of my heart. It is more than I could have possibly
hoped, more than I deserve."

"Too modest, my boy. If you had your deserts, you would be wearing a
star on your shoulder, as well as myself. I am a little selfish in
asking you to go on my staff. I want you."

So it was all arranged, and Lawrence went to see his uncle and tell him
of his new position on Blair's staff. This uncle, Alfred Middleton, was
one of the wealthiest citizens of St. Louis, and an ardent secessionist.
Now that Lawrence was out of the army, he was in hopes that he would
stay out, and he showed his disappointment in his face. He had also been
greatly worried of late. His only son was with Price, and it was a sore
spot with him that the Missouri Confederate troops had been ordered
east, and not been left to defend their native State.

In fact, the Confederates of the State felt that they had been deserted
by the Richmond Government, and bore Jeff Davis and his cabinet no great
love.

"I am sorry, Lawrence," said his uncle, sadly. "I was in hopes that as
long as you were out of the army you would stay out. Why will you
persist in fighting against those who were your friends? Your whole
interest lies with the South."

"Uncle, please do not let us discuss that question again," replied
Lawrence. "You and I are both firm in our belief, and no amount of
discussion will change either."

Mr. Middleton sighed, but did not resume the subject. That Lawrence,
whom he looked upon almost as a son, should take up arms against the
South was to him a source of endless regret.

The next two or three days were busy ones with Lawrence. The new
arrangement had one drawback, it would separate him from Dan Sherman,
who had been a lieutenant in his company of scouts, and the two were
inseparable. Dan would not hear of parting from Lawrence; he would go
with him if he had to go as his servant.

"I can never consent to that, Dan," said Lawrence. "I had rather tell
Blair I have reconsidered his proposition and cannot accept."

"You'll do no such thing," retorted Sherman. "I will try and behave
myself, but I feel that something will happen, and we will not be
separated."

Something did happen, much quicker than either one expected. Something
which entirely changed the calculations of Lawrence. It was to be some
months before he saw service with Blair.

Lawrence and Dan were passing a newspaper office, before which a large
crowd had gathered, reading the war bulletins. They told that Halleck
was tightening his lines around Corinth and that the place must soon
fall; and that McClellan was well on his way towards Richmond.

It was curious to watch the faces of those who read. The countenances of
those who were for the Union would brighten when anything was posted
favorable to the Union cause, and now and then a cheer would be given.

The iron heel of the Yankees was on St. Louis, and the Confederate
sympathizers dare not be so outspoken, but when anything favorable to
the South was posted their eyes would flash, and their countenances beam
with joy.

And thus the crowd stood and read, once friends and neighbors, but now
ready to rend each other to pieces at the first opportunity.

Lawrence mingled with the crowd, and as he read he felt a bulky envelope
thrust in his hand and caught a glimpse of a dusky arm. He glanced at
the address and then turned to see who had given it to him, but could
not. He glanced at the envelope again. Yes, it was for him. In bold
letters was written, "For Captain Lawrence Middleton. Important."

The writing was strange to Lawrence, and making his way through the
crowd he sought a private place where he could see what had so
mysteriously come into his possession. As he read, a look of surprise
came over his face, and then his countenance grew stern and grim.
Carefully he read the document through from beginning to end. It was
signed "By One Who Knows." There was not a mark to tell who was the
writer. The writing was strong and bold, and possessed an originality of
its own, as if the writer had put much of his own character in it.
Lawrence sat and pondered long. He looked the manuscript over and over
again to see if he could not discover some private mark, something that
would identify the writer, but he found nothing.

"Strange," he muttered, "but if Guilford Craig was alive I would swear
he was the writer of this. Who else would write me, and me alone, and
give such important information? Who else could obtain the information
contained in this letter? Yet Guilford is dead. Benton Shelly was seen
to shoot him. There were those who saw him lying on the ground, still in
death, his bosom drenched in blood. But his body was not found.
Guilford, Guilford, are you still alive? But why do I indulge in such
vain hope that he is alive? The proof of his death is too plain. This
letter must have been written by another, but who? Who? And why send it
to me?"

The letter was, in fact, a full and complete _exposé_ of the plans of
the Confederates. It told of the conception of the plot; who was
carrying it out; of the hundreds who had taken the oath of allegiance in
order that they might work more securely, and that many had even
enlisted in the State militia, so that when the supreme time came they
could desert: the time set for the uprising was the last of July or else
the first of August, by which time they hoped to have at least forty
thousand men enrolled.

"Blair and Schofield must see this, and no time lost," said Lawrence to
himself as he placed the communication carefully in his pocket.

Blair was soon found. After carefully reading the letter he said, "I am
not surprised. I warned the Government of the folly of removing so many
troops from the State. But who could have written this?"

"If Guilford Craig was alive there would be but one answer," replied
Lawrence. "As it is, it is a mystery."

"Let us see Schofield at once," said Blair. "There should be no time
lost."

Repairing to the headquarters of General Schofield, they were readily
admitted. General Schofield was the chief of staff to General Lyon at
the time of the battle of Wilson Creek, and, of course, knew Lawrence
well. "Glad to see you, Captain," said the General. "Curtis has written
me of your good work. You are not with him now, are you?"

"No, you know the commission I held was granted by Fremont. The
authorities at Washington declared it illegal."

"Ah, there was a large number of those commissions. I must see what I
can do for you."

"I thank you, General, but General Blair has just done me the great
honor of appointing me on his staff."

"General Blair, as well as yourself, is to be congratulated," answered
the General.

Blair now spoke. "General, our business with you is very important.
Captain Middleton, please show the General the communication you
received."

Lawrence handed the General the mysterious message and Schofield read it
with a darkened brow.

"Who wrote this?" he asked, abruptly.

"General, I do not know."

"Then it may be a fake, a joke. Someone may be trying to scare us."

"General, it is no joke, the proof is too positive," replied Lawrence,
earnestly.

"That is so," answered the General. "It also confirms rumors I have been
hearing. There has been unusual activity among Southern sympathizers,
all over the State, yet outside of the guerrilla bands there have been
no hostile demonstrations. This must have been written by someone deep
in their counsels."

"General, do you remember Guilford Craig?"

"Remember him! Indeed, I do. Can I ever forget what he and you were to
Lyon?"

"If Guilford Craig had not been killed at the battle of Pea Ridge I
would be positive the communication came from him. But the handwriting
bears no resemblance to his."

"Are you certain he was killed?"

"The proof seems positive, but his body was not found," answered
Lawrence.

Schofield sat for a moment in silence, and then suddenly said to Blair,
"General Blair, I have a great favor to ask of you."

"What is it, General? Any favor I can give you will be readily granted."

"That you relinquish your claim on Captain Middleton, at least, until
this crisis is over, and let me have him."

Blair looked surprised, but no more so than Lawrence.

"You know," continued Schofield, "there is no one who can help me more
just now than Captain Middleton. No one who understands the work before
me better. This Guilford Craig, as you are aware, was a curious
character. To no one would he report but to Captain Middleton. This
_exposé_, coming to Middleton, instead of to me, leads me to believe
that Craig was not killed, as supposed, but in some way got off the
field, and for reasons, known only to himself, remains in hiding.
Judging the future by the past, if he is alive, and has more information
to impart, it would be given only through the same source. For these
reasons I would like to attach Captain Middleton to my staff."

"General, your reasons are good," replied Blair, "and it shall be for
Captain Middleton to decide."

"Where I can do my country the most good, there I am willing to go,"
answered Lawrence.

So it was decided that for the summer Lawrence should remain with
General Schofield. The words of General Schofield had also given
Lawrence hope that Guilford lived. But as weeks and months passed, and
no other communication came to him, he again looked upon Guilford as
dead.

Hopeless of getting relief from the Federal Government, General
Schofield entered upon the gigantic task of organizing the militia of
the State. In this Lawrence was of the greatest service, and through a
system of spies and scouts he was enabled to keep General Schofield well
informed as to what was going on in the State.

In helping organize the militia, Lawrence had many adventures and many
hair-breadth escapes, and by his side always rode the faithful Dan
Sherman, and together they shared every danger.

By the last of July, as has been stated, there were nearly one hundred
thousand men arrayed against each other. It was a partisan warfare on a
mighty scale, and the storm was about to burst.



CHAPTER IV

MOORE'S MILL


We left Harry Semans and his young companion just starting on their
lonely ride to Jefferson City, a distance of twenty-seven miles. The
soldier with Harry proved rather a garrulous youth. He said his name was
David Harris; that he belonged to the Third Iowa Cavalry; was a farmer
boy, and rather liked the service. "It's exciting, you know," he added.

"Very much so at times," dryly answered Harry.

"Say, what makes you dress like a blamed guerrilla?" suddenly asked
Dave. "You are a soldier, aren't you?"

"I am a scout," replied Harry. "I dress like a guerrilla because I have
to pretend to be one about half the time. Just before I reached Fulton
today I passed myself off as one of Porter's men. It saved me a
dangerous encounter, perhaps my life."

"Gee! it must be exciting," said the boy. "I wish I was a scout."

"Couldn't be one," laughed Harry. "Your Yankee brogue would give you
away. I notice you say 'keow' instead of 'cow' and 'guess' instead of
'reckon.' But please don't talk any more, we must keep both ears and
eyes open."

After this they rode along in silence; that is, as much as Dave would
allow, until Harry ordered him to ride in the rear, and if he must talk,
talk to himself, and so low that no one else could hear.

For some ten miles they proceeded at a swift gallop without adventure,
meeting two or three horsemen who seemed as little desirous of making
acquaintance as they were themselves, and Dave began to think the ride
rather tame.

As they were passing a place where the bushes grew thickly by the side
of the road, they received a gruff command to halt. Instead of obeying,
Harry, as quick as thought, drew his revolver and fired, at the same
time putting spurs to his horse and shouting to Harris, "Ride for your
life."

There was a rustling in the bushes, an angry exclamation as well as a
groan. Harry's shot had gone true, and came as a surprise to the
bushwhackers as well, for two or three seconds elapsed before three or
four shots rang out, and they went wild.

"Well, how do you like it?" asked Harry, as he drew rein, considering
the danger past.

"It was so sudden," said Dave. "I think I would have halted, and asked
what was wanted."

"And got gobbled, and in all probability hanged afterwards. Dave, you
have to learn something yet before you become a scout. Always be ready
to fire at a moment's notice; and if you have to run don't tarry on your
going. I took chances as to whether there was a large party or not, but
concluded it was not, or some of them would have been in the road."

"Did you think of all that? Why, the word 'Halt' was hardly out of the
fellow's mouth when you fired."

"Think quickly, act quickly; it has saved my bacon many a time. You
ought to have been with me when I was with Captain Lawrence Middleton.
There is the fellow to ride with. But this wouldn't have happened if
Bruno had been with me."

"Bruno? Who is Bruno?" asked Dave.

"Bruno is my dog. He would have smelled those fellows out before we were
within forty rods of them. I am never afraid of a surprise when Bruno is
with me. But no more talking now."

Once more their horses took up a swinging gallop, and they met with no
further adventures, and within less than three hours from the time they
started they were halted by the Union pickets who guarded the approach
to the river opposite Jefferson City.

Harry demanded of the Lieutenant in command of the picket that they be
ferried across the river without loss of time, but the Lieutenant
demurred, saying it was against orders to allow anyone to cross the
river during the night.

"I have important dispatches from Captain Duffield to Colonel Guitar.
Refuse to take me over, and I would not give much for your command,"
angrily answered Harry.

"Who are you?" demanded the Lieutenant. "From your dress you are
certainly not a soldier."

"I am Harry Semans, scout for the Merrill Horse," answered Harry.

"At the name 'Merrill Horse' the Lieutenant became as meek as a lamb.

"Excuse me," he exclaimed. "I will see that you get over the river
immediately. Anything new at Fulton?"

"Porter and Poindexter are within eleven miles of the place, and
Duffield expects to be attacked by morning."

The Lieutenant gave a low whistle. "The devil," he ejaculated, and
rushed to give the necessary orders.

It was eleven o'clock before the river was crossed and the headquarters
of Colonel Guitar reached. He had just retired, but Harry and Dave were
without ceremony admitted into his bedroom. The Colonel read the
dispatch of Captain Duffield, sitting on his bed in his nightclothes.

At once all was excitement. There were but five hundred men guarding the
important post of Jefferson City. Of this force, Colonel Guitar ordered
one hundred to accompany him to Fulton. He dared not deplete the little
garrison more.

While Harry and Dave were in the Colonel's bedroom, Harry noticed that
Dave was regarding Guitar with a great deal of interest. When they
passed out Dave said to Harry in a whisper, "That general don't amount
to shucks. Think of him fighting Porter?"

"Why, what's the matter with Guitar?" asked Harry.

"Matter! He wears a nightgown just like a woman. Who ever heard of a man
wearing a nightgown?"[1]

[Footnote 1: A true incident.]

Harry exploded with laughter. "Many men wear nightgowns," he explained.
"I have no doubt but what General Schofield does. I reckon you will find
out that Guitar will fight."

During the day there had been two important arrivals in Jefferson City,
that of Lawrence Middleton and Dan Sherman. They had told Colonel Guitar
of the rapid concentration of the guerrilla bands all through the
counties north of the river, and had warned him to be on the lookout for
trouble. In fact, they had brought orders from General Schofield for him
to send two of his companies to Columbia, as it was thought that was the
place in greatest danger.

Lawrence and Dan were told of the danger that threatened Fulton, and
they determined to accompany Guitar in his expedition.

It was not until they were on the ferryboat crossing the river that
Harry was aware that Lawrence and Dan were of the number. He nearly went
wild on seeing them.

"And how is Bruno?" asked Lawrence.

"Bruno is all right. I sent him with a dispatch to Colonel Shaffer."

Hurry as fast as they could, it was long past midnight before the force
was across the river, and then there was a twenty-seven mile ride ahead
of them.

On the march Harry had an opportunity to tell Lawrence much that had
happened to him since they parted.

It was daylight when Fulton was reached, and, much to their relief, the
place had not been attacked, but the excitement ran high. Rumor had
increased Porter's force to two thousand. Colonel Guitar believed this
estimate to be much too high. So, small as his force was, only one
hundred and eighty, he determined to move out and attack Porter without
delay.

When this became known to the few Union inhabitants of Fulton they
implored Guitar not to do it. "Your force will be annihilated," they
exclaimed, "and Fulton will be at the mercy of the foe."

Lawrence agreed with Colonel Guitar. "We came here in the night," said
he. "Porter does not know how many men you brought. No doubt your force
is magnified, the same as his. Assuming the offensive will disconcert
him, and also prevent him receiving further reinforcements."

So it was decided, and the little force took up the march for Brown's
Springs, eleven miles away. Couriers were dispatched to find Colonel
Shaffer, for even if Bruno had succeeded in delivering Harry's message
Shaffer would march for Fulton instead of Brown's Springs.

It was about eleven o'clock when the column reached the vicinity of
Brown's Springs. Nothing as yet had been heard from Colonel Shaffer, but
Guitar determined to attack. Lawrence had been asked by Guitar to act as
his aid, to which he gladly assented.

Two or three small parties of guerrillas had been sighted, but they took
to the brush at the sight of the Federals.

The command now moved cautiously forward, but there was to be no battle.
Harry, who had been scouting in front, returned with the news that the
guerrillas had fled. Their camp was soon occupied. Everything showed a
rapid flight; even the would-be dinner of the guerrillas was found half
cooked.

Along in the afternoon Porter's force was located near Moore's Mill,
about four miles distant.

As Colonel Guitar's men had not slept a wink the night before, and as
both men and horses were tired out, the Colonel decided to camp, rest
his men and await the coming of Shaffer.

Why Porter fled from Brown's Springs and yet gave battle the next day,
after Shaffer had come up, will never be known. If he had fought at
Brown's Springs he would have had five men to Guitar's one. He may have
thought Shaffer was miles away. What Poindexter had told him would lead
him to believe this. And it would have been the case had it not been for
Harry and the faithful Bruno.

Every precaution was taken by Colonel Guitar to guard against a night
attack, but his little army was allowed to rest in peace.

During the night the couriers sent out to locate Shaffer reported. Bruno
had done his work well, but Shaffer had been miles farther away than
thought, and as had been requested by Harry in his report, had marched
for Fulton. He was yet ten miles away, and it would be impossible for
him to join Guitar before morning.

The morning came and with it Shaffer, and with him five hundred and
fifty men, eager for the combat. How Guitar's men did cheer when they
saw Shaffer coming.

Scouts reported that Porter still occupied his camp, and showed no sign
of moving. It looked as if he had resolved to stay and fight. Colonel
Guitar gave the order to move forward and attack. The advance had to be
carefully made, for the country was rough, wooded, and covered with a
dense undergrowth of bushes.

Harry now had Bruno with him, and leaving his horse, he, with the dog,
made his way to the front, in order to discover, as far as possible, the
plans and position of the enemy. So dense was the undergrowth he could
not see thirty feet ahead of him, but Bruno, as stealthy as a tiger in
the jungle, crept through the bushes ahead of him and more than once
gave him warning to turn aside his steps and take another direction. At
last he came to quite a hill, on the summit of which grew a tree with
branches close to the ground. Leaving Bruno to guard, Harry climbed the
tree, and to his satisfaction had a good view of the country. But what
he saw filled him with consternation.

The road on which the Federals were marching was narrow and on each side
lined with dense underbrush. Ahead of the Federal advance, the road
itself was clear, not a guerrilla in sight, but Porter had left his camp
and all his forces were stealthily creeping through the woods, and
concealing themselves in the bushes which lined the road.

Harry knew that that meant an ambuscade, and the Federal advance was
almost into it. In his eagerness he hardly knew whether he fell, jumped,
or swung himself down by the branches, but he was out of the tree and
tearing through the brush like a mad man to give warning.

He came to the road just as Colonel Guitar came along, riding at the
head of his column, the advance, consisting of twenty-five men of
Company E, Third Iowa Cavalry, being a short distance ahead.

"Halt the advance. Ambuscade," gasped Harry. He could say no more, as he
fell from exhaustion.

[Illustration: "Halt the advance. Ambuscade," gasped Harry.]

Guitar understood. "Halt," he cried, and to an aid, "Warn the advance."

The aid put spurs to his horse, but he was too late. Before he could
give warning there came a crashing volley from the jungle on the east
side of the road, the thicket burst into flame and smoke. It was an
awful, a murderous volley. Out of the twenty-five men who composed the
advance, hardly a man or horse escaped unscathed; all were killed or
wounded.

Swift and terrible as this blow was, it created no panic in Guitar's
little army. The road was narrow, thickets on each side. Nothing could
be done with cavalry. Quickly the order was given to dismount and send
the horses back in charge of every fourth man. Guitar then formed his
slender line in the edge of the thicket on the west side of the road,
with orders to hold until Shaffer came up, for Shaffer was still behind.

Hearing the sound of the conflict, Shaffer rushed forward, sent back his
horses, and along the road and through the tangled undergrowth the line
was formed and the battle became general.

The guerrillas displayed a bravery they seldom showed when engaged with
regular troops, and fought with determination and ferocity. They had the
advantage in position and numbers, but Guitar had the advantage in
having a couple of pieces of artillery. One of these pieces was brought
up by hand and planted in the road where it could sweep the woods in
which the guerrillas were concealed.

Hidden from view, the guerrillas crept up near, poured in a murderous
volley, and then raising a blood-curdling yell, dashed for the gun. Four
of the gunners had fallen before the volley, and for the time the gun
was silent. But behind the piece lay a line of sturdy cavalrymen. They
waited until the guerrillas had burst from the thicket and were within
forty feet of the gun, then sprang to their feet and poured a terrific
volley almost into the faces of the foe.

Staggering and bleeding, the guerrillas shrank back into the woods, but
only to rally and with fearful yells dash for the gun again. This time
they were not met by the cavalrymen alone, but the cannon belched forth
its deadly charge of canister in their faces.

When the four gunners fell at the first charge, Dan Sherman, seeing that
the piece was not manned, rushed forward and snatched the primer from
the dead hand of the man who was about to insert it when he fell. Dan
inserted the primer, pulled the lanyard and sent the contents of the gun
into the ranks of the enemy. Two of the artillerymen who had not been
injured came to his assistance, and again the gun was thundering forth
its defiance.

Through the chaparral Shaffer's men now pushed their way foot by foot.
It was a strange conflict. So dense was the undergrowth the line could
not be followed by the eye for thirty feet. No foe could be seen, but
the thickets blazed and smoked, and the leaden hail swept through the
bushes, tearing and mangling them as if enraged at their resistance.

The duty of Lawrence was a dangerous one. He had to break his way
through the thickets, see that some kind of a line was kept, and that
orders were being executed. While the men were sheltered by trees, logs
and rocks, he had to be exposed, but as if possessed of a charmed life,
he passed through unscathed.

Foot by foot the Federals dragged themselves forward, slowly pressing
the guerrillas back. At last, tired of fighting an unseen foe, the men
arose to their feet, and with a wild cheer sprang forward. Surprised,
the foe wavered, then broke. The flight became a panic, and they fled
terror-stricken from the field. The battle of Moore's Mill had been
fought and won.

There was no pursuit that night. The day had been intensely hot, and the
battle had raged from twelve noon until four. The soldiers, with
blackened, swollen faces and tongues, were fainting with thirst. Colonel
Guitar ordered his men to occupy the camp deserted by the foe. The dead
were to be buried, the wounded cared for.

So precipitously had the guerrillas fled that except the severely
wounded, few prisoners were taken. Porter had impressed upon his men
that to be captured by the Yankees meant certain death.

While searching the field Lawrence noticed some white object crawling
along like a large reptile. Upon investigation he found to his surprise
that it was a man, and entirely nude.

"Why are you without clothes?" asked Lawrence.

The man looked tip into Lawrence's face with a scared expression and
whined, "The guerrillas captured me, and they stripped me of my
clothing."

"Then you are a Federal soldier?" inquired Lawrence.

"Y-e-s," came the halting answer.

"You lie," exclaimed Lawrence. "You are one of the guerrillas."

The fellow then broke down, and, piteously begging for his life, said he
was one of Porter's men, and that he looked for nothing but death if
captured, so he had divested himself of his clothing, hoping to pass
himself off as a Federal.[2]

[Footnote 2: A true incident of the battle.]

Lawrence ordered him to be tenderly cared for, and tears of gratitude
ran down the fellow's face when he realised he was not to be murdered.

The battle of Moore's Mill, insignificant as it was compared to the
great battles of the war, was important in this: It frustrated the plans
of the conspirators, and was the beginning of a series of conflicts
which forever ended the hopes of the Confederates to recapture the State
by an uprising.

Colonel Guitar reported his loss in the battle as thirteen killed and
fifty-five wounded. The guerrilla loss he reported at fifty-two left
dead on the field and one hundred and twenty-five wounded.

In all the partisan battles in Missouri the guerrillas never reported
their losses, and only the reports of the Federal commanders are
accessible. In many cases no doubt these reports are exaggerated.



CHAPTER V

A FIGHT IN THE NIGHT


Early the next morning Colonel Guitar started in pursuit of the enemy.
Lawrence took the advance with a party of six men. As a matter of
course, Harry and Bruno made a part of this force.

"This seems like old times, Harry," said Lawrence, as they started off.

"It does that, Captain," replied Harry. "You, Dan, Bruno and myself make
four of the old gang. Now if only Guilford was with us--" He stopped and
sighed. His mind had gone back to the time when he and Guilford had so
nearly faced death in among the Boston mountains. "You have heard
nothing of him, have you, Captain?"

"Nothing. I did receive a communication about two months ago that I
thought might be from him; but I have received nothing since and I have
given up all hopes."

The trail left by the guerrillas was very plain. It followed the
Auxvasse for some two miles, and then turned off into the hills. The
country was very rough, the places for an ambuscade numerous, but with
Bruno scouting, Lawrence had no fears of being surprised.

Soon they came to a place where the road forked. On the road that led to
the left up the Auxvasse the trail was plainly marked; but the road that
led on into the more open country had little appearance of being
traveled; but it was rocky, and by being careful a large force could
have passed over it and left but few traces behind.

Harry dismounted and carefully examined the ground. As for Bruno, he
seemed to have no doubt; he was taking the blind trail.

"A blind," said Harry. "Not more than fifty took to the left, and they
left as broad a trail as possible. The main force passed up the other
road. If Guitar follows the broad trail it will lead him away among the
hills and then disappear, for the party will separate."

Just then the advance of Guitar's force appeared, led by a young
lieutenant.

"What are you waiting for?" he asked Lawrence. "Have you discovered the
enemy?"

"No, but Porter evidently divided his forces here, and we were
discussing which road the main body took."

The Lieutenant dismounted, and after looking over the ground, said,
"Why, it's as plain as the nose on a man's face; they went to the left."

"Harry and Bruno both think differently," answered Lawrence.

The Lieutenant sniffed. "Much they know about it," he exclaimed. "I have
trailed too many guerrillas to be mistaken."

Just then Colonel Guitar, at the head of his column, appeared. He was
appealed to, and after examining the road, decided to take the left hand
road, but told Lawrence he might keep on the other road with his scouts,
and see what he could discover. As a matter of precaution he increased
Lawrence's force to ten men.

The Lieutenant rode off highly elated over the fact that Colonel Guitar
agreed with his views.

"Let them go," sputtered Harry. "They will be disgusted before night."

And so it proved. The trail led Guitar over hills, through ravines and
rocky dells, through tangled forests, and twisted and turned, until it
disappeared entirely; and, much to his disgust, Guitar found himself
along in the afternoon within two miles from where he had started. The
wily guerrilla chieftain had fooled him completely. Guitar led his mad,
weary and swearing force back to the old camp grounds, and there awaited
the return of Lawrence and his scouting party.

Lawrence did not think for a moment but that Harry was right, and that
fact soon became evident. They were now in a more open country, and the
signs that a large body of troops had passed became numerous. Not only
this, but in the houses along the road they found a number of severely
wounded that the guerrillas had been forced to leave.

After some miles they came to a road that crossed the one they were on,
and which led to the west. Here the ground had been much trampled, and
that but a short time before.

Again Harry dismounted and examined the ground carefully. "We are close
onto them," he said. "I do not believe they have been gone half an
hour."

"Harry, you are a regular Kit Carson for trails," laughed Lawrence. "Are
you sure you are right?"

"Perfectly, and what is more, their force divided here, but the larger
force kept on. The explanation is plain. Porter operates to the north
and east, so he has kept on with the larger force; Poindexter and Cobb
have their chief haunts along the Chariton and Grand, so with their
forces they have gone to the west."

"We had better hurry back to Guitar and tell him this," exclaimed
Lawrence.

"No," snapped Harry. "I don't propose to be snubbed again. You only have
my word now. Let's keep on until you and everyone present have proof
that cannot be doubted."

"I believe you are right, Harry," said Lawrence, and he gave the command
to continue on.

They had proceeded a mile when Bruno came running back, showing by his
manner he had news to impart.

Halting his squad, Lawrence dismounted, and taking Harry, they carefully
made their way to the brow of a hill which lay in front. Cautiously
peering over, they saw about a quarter of a mile ahead a commodious
house, around which a number of horses were hitched.

It was evident that they had come on the rear guard of the retreating
guerrillas, and that they had halted to rest, and were being well
entertained, for a number of black women were passing back and forth
from the house to a rude outdoor kitchen, all bearing dishes, and it
looked very tempting to Lawrence and Harry.

"Feel like eating myself," whispered Harry. "I didn't know I was so
hungry."

"How many do you reckon there are?" asked Lawrence.

Harry carefully counted the horses and then said, "Not over fifteen or
twenty. I can count only fifteen horses, but there may be some out of
sight."

"Feel like appropriating that dinner myself," said Lawrence.

"The boys would never forgive us if we didn't," answered Harry.

Hurrying back they explained the situation, and by unanimous vote it was
decided to make a charge on that dinner without loss of time.

"Harry and I will ride a little ahead," said Lawrence. "Harry is dressed
in homespun and my uniform is so dusty they won't be able to distinguish
its color until we are close to them. Dan, when I give the signal, come
on in a rush."

So Lawrence find Harry rode ahead, the squad some fifteen or twenty
paces in the rear, leisurely following. Scarcely had they rode over the
brow of the hill when two sentinels they had not seen before suddenly
showed themselves on the road. The sentinels seemed much alarmed, and
drew up their carbines as if to shoot.

Harry waved his hat and signaled they were friends. Seeing the squad
coming so leisurely and the two in advance, the sentinels lowered their
guns and waited, thinking it must be some of their own men. But when
Lawrence and Harry were a few yards from them one of the sentinels
caught the color of Lawrence's uniform.

Giving a terrific whoop, he raised his gun and fired, the ball just
missing Lawrence's head. The other sentinel fired, but his shot went
wild. Both wheeled their horses and dashed back, yelling, "Yanks! Yanks!
Yanks!"

There was no need of Lawrence signaling Dan to come on, for the squad
were urging their horses to the limit.

The guerrillas at dinner heard the firing and came pouring out of the
house. Close on the heels of the flying sentinels thundered the
Federals. The guerrillas took one look, and with cries of terror sprang
for their horses, and cutting the halter straps were up and away. By
this time the balls were falling among them thick and fast, killing two,
and the horse of a third one fell and the rider was taken prisoner.

The fight was over and Lawrence rode up to the house, and was met on the
porch by a white haired, fine looking old gentleman.

"Sorry to trouble you," said Lawrence, urbanely, "but with your
permission I will have my men finish that dinner that your friends have
so ungraciously and suddenly declined."

"Step right in, suh, the dinner is waiting," the old gentleman replied
with a wan smile, "but my guests are not accustomed to invite
themselves."

"Sorry, sir, but when you consider the improvement in the character of
your guests, you should rejoice," rejoined Lawrence. "Entertaining such
guests as have run away is dangerous."

"I shall feed no Yankees," cried a shrill voice, and a young lady
flounced out of the door, her face red with anger.

Lawrence saw that she was good to look at, tall, willowy and fair of
face. Taking off his hat and bowing politely, he said, "My dear lady, I
humbly beg your pardon, but my men must certainly finish that dinner you
so kindly prepared for those who were so impolite and cowardly as to run
away and leave it. It would take more than Rebel bullets to make me
decline a meal prepared by your fair hands."

The compliment was lost. "Cowardly?" cried the girl. "Is it cowardly for
twenty to flee before a regiment of Yankee cut-throats?"

"There are only a dozen of us," said Lawrence, "and a dozen finer
gentlemen you never entertained, every one a prince and as brave as a
lion. If it were not so, twenty of your friends would not have fled from
them."

The young lady flashed a look of scorn at him and cried, "Yankee
cut-throats and robbers--gentlemen and brave! You amaze me." She
abruptly turned and went into the house, and much to Lawrence's regret
he did not see her again.

"You must excuse my daughter," said the old man, nervously.

"That's all right, so we get the dinner," answered Lawrence. "Don't you
see my men are getting impatient?"

"Come right in. I feed you, not because I want to, but because I must."
Thus speaking, he led them into the house, where they found a sumptuous
repast but partly eaten; and not a man in the squad but did full justice
to it.

Lawrence found the prisoner they had taken shaking with terror, for some
of the men had coolly informed him that after dinner he was to be
hanged.

Lawrence was about to reprimand the men for their cruel joke, when it
occurred to him he might use the fellow's fears to some advantage. So he
told him if he would tell all he knew, not only would his life be
spared, but that he would be paroled, but he would have to be careful
and tell nothing but the truth.

The prisoner eagerly embraced the opportunity, and confirmed what Harry
had said. He moreover stated that before Porter and Poindexter parted
they had agreed to gather up all the men they could, and join forces
again somewhere along the line of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad.

"I guess that is straight enough for Guitar to believe, instead of that
upstart lieutenant," said Harry.

Back to find Guitar the scouts rode; but it was night when they found
him and then nearly where they had left him. All day his men had marched
beneath a broiling sun, and when they found out how they had been led
astray, against the protests of Harry, they wanted to lynch the smart
lieutenant; and it was a long time before the poor fellow heard the last
of it.

Colonel Guitar concluded to rest his men until morning, and then
continue the pursuit. "I will chase Porter clear to the Iowa line, if
necessary, to catch him," he said.

While it was arranged that Colonel Guitar should march straight for
Mexico, Lawrence, with a detail of ten men dressed as guerrillas, was to
follow directly on the trail of Porter, thus keeping track of his
movements. Lawrence chose ten of the Merrill Horse to go with him.

One of the men in looking over the squad and noticing that with
Lawrence, Dan, and Harry there were thirteen of them, demurred, saying
that another man should be added, as thirteen was an unlucky number. "No
thirteen for me," he said.

"Step aside," ordered Lawrence. "I want no thirteen cranks. I, for one,
am not troubled over the old superstition of thirteen. Who will
volunteer to take this fellow's place?"

A dozen were eager to go, and Lawrence chose a manly looking fellow.
"Our timid friend here counted wrong," he said. "He forgot Bruno, and he
is equal to a dozen men."

This raised a laugh, and the party started in the highest spirits. After
going a short distance, Lawrence halted and made his men a short speech.

"Boys," he said, "dressed as we are, it will be certain death if we are
captured. If circumstances arise where we must fight, fight to the
death--never surrender. We are strong enough to beat off any small
party, and large ones we must avoid. But remember, our object is to get
information, not to fight. To all appearances we must be simon-pure
guerrillas. If we meet with guerrillas, as no doubt we will, keep cool,
and let Harry or me do the talking."

"All right, Captain," they shouted, and they rode merrily forward,
careless of what dangers they might meet. So often had they faced death,
they considered him an old acquaintance.

They found little trouble in following the trail of Porter. Taken for
guerrillas, every Southern sympathizer was eager to give them all the
information possible.

For two days they traveled, frequently meeting with small parties of
guerrillas, and to these Lawrence always represented they belonged south
of the river, and had been obliged to cross to avoid a large party of
Federals, and that they had concluded to keep on and join Porter.

By questioning, Lawrence found all of these parties had orders to join
Porter at or near Paris. Some of these parties gave Lawrence a good deal
of trouble by wanting to join forces with him, but he put them off by
saying it would be safer to travel in small parties, as they would not
then be so liable to attract the attention of the Federals.

Porter in his flight had crossed the North Missouri Railroad near
Montgomery City, but in his haste did little damage.

It was after Lawrence had crossed this railroad that he had his first
serious trouble. Here he came onto a company of at least fifty
guerrillas under the command of Bill Duncan, a leader who often acted
with Porter, and as noted for cruelty as he. The company was hastening
to join Porter at Paris.

Lawrence thought it best to change his story. Duncan had roughly ordered
him to join his company. This Lawrence firmly refused, saying they
belonged to Poindexter's command; that after Poindexter and Porter had
parted, Poindexter had found it impossible for him to join Porter, as he
had promised, and that he had been sent post-haste by Poindexter to find
Porter and inform him of the fact.

"But now," said Lawrence, "I need go no farther, as you can carry this
information to Porter."

"Where are you going if I do this?" asked Duncan.

"Back to join Poindexter, as I promised," said Lawrence.

"I don't know but you are all right," said Duncan; "but I don't like the
looks of your men. What did you say your name was?"

"I haven't told you, but it is Jack Hilton. Porter knows me well. Give
him my respects. Be sure and tell him what I have told you, for it is
very important. Good-day, Captain. Come on, boys," and Lawrence turned
and rode back the way he had come.

Duncan watched them until they were out of sight; then, shaking his
head, said: "I almost wish I hadn't let them go, but I reckon they're
all right. That young chap in command told a mighty straight story."

About this time Lawrence was saying: "That was a mighty close shave,
Dan. That fellow had a big notion to make trouble."

Bruno, who had been told to keep out of sight, joined them after they
had gone some distance. He acted dejected and dispirited, and if he
could have talked would have asked the meaning of it all. Time and time
again he had given warning of the approach of guerrillas, only to have
his master meet them as friends. He had given notice of the approach of
Duncan's party, and to his surprise nothing had come of it. He was a
thoroughly disgusted dog, and walked along with drooping head and tail;
but it only took a word from Harry to set him all right again.

"We must turn north again at the first opportunity," said Lawrence.
"This will put us back several miles."

They had not gone far before they met a solitary guerrilla. He was one
of Duncan's party, and had gone out of his way to visit a friend. He was
halted, and explained who he was.

"Ah, yes," said Lawrence; "your company is just ahead. We left it only a
few moments ago."

"Whar be yo' goin'?" asked the fellow.

"Back to join Poindexter, where we belong. I was carrying a message to
Porter from Poindexter, but on meeting Duncan I gave it to him, so we
are on our way back."

The fellow had sharp eyes, and Lawrence noticed that he was scrutinizing
his party closely, and when he saw Harry, who had been a little in the
rear, and just now came up, he started perceptibly, but quickly
recovered himself, and exclaimed, "I must be goin'." Putting spurs to
his horse, he rode rapidly away.

Harry gazed on his retreating figure, his brow wrinkled in perplexity.
Suddenly he cried: "Captain, I know that fellow, and I believe he
recognized me. If he did, we are going to have trouble."

"Are you sure?" asked Lawrence, startled.

"Quite sure. I arrested him near Paris a couple of months ago, and he
gave his parole. I had hard work to keep Bruno from throttling him.
Where is Bruno?"

"There he comes now," said Lawrence, "and he seems to be greatly
excited."

Bruno was indeed greatly excited, and he ran around Harry, growling, and
then in the direction the fellow had taken, looking back to see if Harry
was following.

"Bruno knows him, too," said Harry. "He never forgets. If that fellow
saw Bruno, it is indeed all up. He will tell Duncan, and we will have a
fight on our hands as sure as fate."

"By hard riding we can reach Mexico and avoid the fight," said Lawrence;
"but I don't like the idea of running away."

"Nor I," said Harry. "Even if the fellow knew me, Duncan may not follow
us."

"What do you think, Dan?" asked Lawrence.

Dan took a chew of tobacco, as he always did when about to decide
anything weighty, and then slowly remarked: "Don't like to run until I
see something to run from."

"That's it," cried Lawrence. "It is doubtful if Duncan follows us at
all. If he does, it will be time enough to think of running."

It was therefore decided to take the first road they came to which led
in the direction they wished to go. They soon came to the road, but
before they turned into it, Lawrence took the precaution to make it
appear that they had ridden straight on.

"Reckon Bruno and I will hang near this corner for a while," said Harry.
"I want to make sure whether we are followed or not. I feel in my bones
Duncan is after us."

Harry had good reasons for feeling as he did, for the guerrilla whose
name was Josh Hicks, had not only recognized him, but he had also seen
Bruno, and he bore the dog an undying hatred, for it was he who had
captured him, and would have killed him had not Harry interfered.

No sooner was Hicks out of sight of the scouts than he put his horse to
the utmost speed. "I have an account to settle with that dawg and his
master," he muttered, "and it will be settled tonight or my name is not
Josh Hicks."

He overtook Duncan's command, his horse covered with foam.

"Hello, Josh, what's up?" asked some of the men, as he dashed up. "Yo'
un acts as if the Merrill Hoss was after yo'. What has skeered yo'?"

"Whar is Bill?" Hicks fairly shrieked.

"Up in front. What's the matter?" and the men began to look uneasy.

Seeing the excitement in the rear, Duncan came riding back. "What's the
trouble?" he asked, gruffly.

"Don't know," answered one of the men, "but Josh Hicks has jest come up,
his hoss covered with foam, and he seems mighty skeered about
something."

Just then Hicks caught sight of Duncan, and yelled: "Bill, did yo' un
meet a party of about a dozen men a few minutes ago?"

"Yes; what of it?"

"An' yo'un had them and let them go?" fairly screamed Hicks.

"Of course; they were Poindexter's men."

"Poindexter's men! Hell!" Hicks shouted. "They was Yanks in disguise,
an' one of them was that damned boy scout of the Merrill Hoss. I know
him, and I saw the dawg."

"Be you sure, Josh?" asked Duncan.

"Sure? Of course I'm sure. Don't I know the boy, and don't I know the
dawg? Can I forgit the brute that had his teeth in my throat? Oh, yo' un
be a nice one, yo' un be, Bill, to let them fellers slip through your
fingers!"

Duncan flushed with anger and chagrin. "Look here, Josh," he roared,
"none of your insinuations, or you settle with me. I never met that
feller, and if you had been with us, as you ought to have been, instead
of gallivanting around the country, you would have known them. Them
fellers told a straight story, they did; but they'll never fool Bill
Duncan but once. About face, boys."

In a moment more the guerrillas were thundering on the trail of the
scouts. They had little difficulty until they came to the road where
Lawrence had turned off. Here Duncan carefully examined the ground, and
with the almost unerring instinct of his class, decided rightly as to
the way the scouts had gone.

Harry had taken a position about half a mile from where the road turned,
and where he had a good view without being seen. He saw the guerrillas
stop and hesitate, and then take the right road.

"They are after us, sure," he muttered, and, spurring his horse, he did
not pull rein until he had overtaken the scouts.

"They are close after us!" he exclaimed, pulling up his panting horse.

"It will soon be dark; we can elude them," said Lawrence.

"Let's fight them," said Dan, taking out his plug of tobacco and holding
it until a decision was made.

"Yes, let's fight them," said the men. "This is the tamest scout we've
ever been on--hobnobbing with the villains instead of fighting them."

"All right," replied Lawrence. "Let's ride rapidly ahead until dark.
Dan, you and I must think up a bit of strategy in the meantime."

"All right," said Dan, biting off a big chew from the plug he was
holding, and restoring the rest to his pocket. If the decision had been
against a fight, Dan would have put the plug back without taking a chew.
When Dan put his tobacco back unbitten, it was always an infallible sign
that something had gone in a way that did not suit him.

That Lawrence and Dan had fixed up that bit of strategy was evident, for
just as darkness was closing in, Lawrence ordered the scouts to stop
long enough to gather a good feed of corn for their horses, from a
near-by field. Then they rode on and camped in a wood, some little
distance from the road.

"The guerrillas will not now attack us until some time in the night," he
said, "thinking to surprise us."

He gave orders for the horses to be tethered a little distance in the
rear of the camp, where they would be sheltered. "Hitch them so you can
loose them in a twinkling, if it becomes necessary," he ordered.

Then he told the men they might build a fire, make some coffee, and
roast some corn, if they wished.

"Had we not better dig a hole for the fire, and screen it with
blankets?" suggested one of the men. "A light might give us away."

"Just what I want it to do," answered Lawrence, to the astonishment of
all but Dan and Harry.

Lawrence then explained to his men his plan: "The guerrillas will attack
us some time during the night, thinking to surprise us. I want the
surprise the other way. Therefore I propose to camp as if we were
unconscious of danger. The fire is to be left, not too bright, but
smouldering enough to give a little light. Each man of you is to prepare
a dummy. A log with a blanket around it will do. These will be placed in
a row a short distance from the fire. In the dim light they will look
exactly like a row of sleeping men. Last of all, we will fix a dummy
sentinel, leaning against a tree as if asleep.

"We will all lie down a little to one side in the bush. Then, when the
guerrillas charge on the supposed sleeping camp, give it to them. If
things go wrong, each man make for his horse, and get away the best he
can. Make for Mexico."

These instructions were obeyed implicitly, and soon the camp was buried
in apparent slumber.

To make sure they were right, the guerrillas had inquired at the first
house they passed, and were told that a small party of men had passed
but a short time before.

"We are on the right track, boys," exclaimed Duncan, gleefully, "and if
they don't take the alarm and dodge us in the dark, they are ours. We
must not press them too closely. Let them go into camp, and we will get
them when they are asleep."

Just as darkness began to fall, Duncan became fearful that the scouts
would not halt, but keep on for Mexico, and he gave orders to gallop,
but concluded to stop at the first house and inquire. He did so, and an
old man came to the door, and in answer to his inquiry replied that a
party whom he supposed to be guerrillas passed just before dark.
"Confound them!" he exclaimed, "they stopped at my cornfield and
gathered a good feed for their horses, and never said even 'Thank you.'
They are camped in the woods about half a mile ahead, for I saw the
gleam of the campfire. I am going down in the morning, and see if I
can't collect for that corn."

"We will collect it for you," chuckled Duncan, "and while we are about
it we will collect enough to pay for a feed for our horses. There are
sixty or seventy of us. Them fellers are not our men; they are Yanks."

"Good land!" exclaimed the old fellow.

"Don't worry--we'll collect for that corn, all right," said Duncan.

The guerrillas waited until ten o'clock, then approached the wood as
near as they dared, and Duncan sent two of his men ahead to spy upon the
camp. They were gone so long that Duncan began to be impatient, but at
last they returned, and their report was all that could be wished.

"We almost crept on them before we discovered them," said one. "The
fools do not seem suspicious of any danger. They have but one man on
guard, and sure as shooting he is leaning against a tree, sound asleep.
It will be no trick to send them to the devil as they sleep."

"And to the devil we will send them," growled Duncan. "Understand, no
quarter."

"The dawg? Didn't you see the dawg?" asked Hicks, anxiously.

"That dawg seems to trouble you, Hicks," sneered one of the men.

"He would trouble yo' un if yo' un had had the experience I have,"
retorted Hicks. "I tell you I don't like it. Them Yanks seem too blame
careless. It ain't like them. An' that dawg--didn't he make no fuss when
yo' un crept up?"

"Not a bit. If thar was any dawg, he must have been asleep, too."

"I tell yo' un I don't like it. Thar is something wrong. That dawg----"

"Shut up," commanded Duncan. "Josh, if you are afraid of a dawg, stay
with the hosses. Some of the boys will have to stay, and there is not
one, unless it is you, but wants a hand in this job."

"Yes, stay, Josh, stay!" jeered the men. "Josh is getting skeery. He is
afraid of a dawg."

"Stay nothin'!" snorted Josh, mad as a hornet. "An' if any of yo' uns
insinuates I am afraid, yo' uns will have to settle with Josh Hicks, an'
that mighty quick."

"No quarrelling, boys," commanded Duncan. "Josh is all right. Don't want
to stay with the hosses, Josh?"

"Not by a thundering sight."

"All right, Josh, we will give you the first crack at that boy, the
owner of the dawg, to settle old scores."

They were to creep up on the scouts and kill them as they slept. If an
alarm was given, they were to rush on them and make quick work of it.

Slowly the guerrillas worked their way through the wood, as noiselessly
and stealthily as Indians. By the dim light of the campfire they saw
what they supposed were the sleeping forms of their enemies. The
sentinel stood leaning against a tree, his head on his breast,
apparently sound asleep.

The sentinel was right in front of Josh Hicks. He drew a huge knife, his
eyes gleaming with hate and cruelty. Nearer and nearer he crept, then
sprang forward and buried his knife in the bosom of the supposed man,
but instead of striking flesh and bone, he struck a log of wood, and so
fierce was the blow he could not withdraw the knife.

As he struck there was a hoarse growl, a huge form shot through the air,
and the teeth of Bruno were buried in his throat. He gave a
blood-curdling yell, which died away in a sickening gurgle.

The guerrillas, thinking themselves discovered, rushed upon the sleeping
forms. As they came into the light, the woods to the right and left
burst into flame. Men reeled and, clutching the air, fell. The wood
resounded with horrid curses, groans, and yells of terror.

Firing a random volley, those that lived turned and fled, pursued by the
scouts. The battle was soon over. A full third of the attacking force
lay on the ground, dead or grievously wounded. But of all the dead,
there was none so ghastly as Josh Hicks. He lay with his throat torn in
shreds, and on his face there was still a look of mortal terror.

The next morning, when the guerrillas came creeping back to bury their
dead and care for the wounded, a feeling of superstitious awe crept over
them when they saw the body of Josh Hicks.

"That dawg--that dawg!" they whispered. "Poor Josh! He must have had a
presentiment."

From that time on Bruno was to them an uncanny beast, in league with
evil spirits.



CHAPTER VI

KIRKSVILLE


No sooner had the affrighted cries of the guerrillas died away, than
Lawrence, calling back his men, said: "We must now be up and away. By
morning the guerrillas will be over their fright, and we will be
surrounded. Let the dead and wounded lie, though make the wounded as
comfortable as possible. It will not be long before some of their
comrades will be creeping back to care for them."

To Lawrence's delight, he found that not a single one of his men had
been harmed. In the highest of spirits, the men mounted their horses and
rode away.

All night they rode and, when morning came, they halted by a field of
corn, and once more gave their horses a fine feed, while the men made
coffee and feasted on roasting ears.

"Boys, which shall it be--Mexico or Paris?" asked Lawrence. "From what
we learned from Duncan, it is the intention of Porter to unite all his
force near Paris, and then move north. Guitar must be in Mexico by this
time, but there will be no fighting there. No doubt he will keep on to
Paris."

"To Paris!" shouted the men. "Let's go where the fighting will be. Our
horses are quite fresh. We can be there by night."

"What if we run into Porter and his whole gang?" asked Lawrence,
smiling.

"Lick the whole gang!" they yelled.

"You're all right, boys, but I hardly think you can do that; at least,
we won't try as long as I'm leader," laughed Lawrence.

The day was hot and the roads dusty, and Lawrence favored the horses all
possible, but they made good progress. Taken for guerrillas by the
inhabitants, they fared well, and much information was given them.

Much to Lawrence's surprise, he learned that Porter had taken and sacked
Paris the day before, and that McNeil had moved down from Palmyra and
driven him out. More serious still was the news that Porter had been
reinforced, and had attacked and expected to recapture the place.

This was news, indeed. If true, Porter was squarely between them and
Paris. A consultation was held, and it was the unanimous opinion that
they should keep on and join McNeil, if they could.

As they neared Paris, they heard firing, and became aware a slight
skirmish was in progress. They halted, and while debating what best to
do, a couple of guerrillas came riding towards them.

"Who be yo' un?" they asked of Lawrence, as they rode up.

"We 'uns are from Galloway County, on our way to join Porter," answered
Lawrence. "I heah fightin'. What is it?"

"Oh, a few of us are only amusing the Yanks while Porter gits away,"
said the men.

"Then Porter is not heah?"

"No; he an' most of his men air miles north by this time. He left about
a hundred of us here to make believe we 'uns ware goin' to attack Paris,
so to give him time to git away. Thar, yo' uns don't hear any shooting
now. The boys have amused the Yanks as long as they wanted to, and now
air on their way to jine Porter, and bet your life the Yanks don't catch
them."

"What are you doing here, away from your command?" asked Lawrence,
sternly.

The guerrillas started at the change in the speech and manner of
Lawrence. "We 'uns," they stammered, "we 'uns live about five miles
back, and we 'uns was goin' to see the folks. We 'uns can easily
overtake the boys by riding all night."

A sign from Lawrence, and, to the amazement of the guerrillas, they were
looking into the muzzles of revolvers.

"It's all up with you, fellows," said Lawrence. "We are Yanks. Boys,
disarm them."

The guerrillas' faces were as white as chalk, and they began to beg for
their lives. They had only just joined Porter, they declared, and they
were sick of it already. They had never molested a Union man. In fact,
they had told a lie--they were deserting, instead of going to visit
their families, as they said.

"If that is the case," said Lawrence, "you will readily give us all the
information you can. No doubt Colonel McNeil will be pleased to see you;
so come along."

It was as the prisoners had said--the guerrillas had gone, and Lawrence
had no trouble in riding into Paris, where he was gladly welcomed by
McNeil, who had been in fear he was being attacked by an overwhelming
force. It was welcome news that Lawrence brought, that Colonel Guitar
was in Mexico by this time, with five hundred good men; but that Porter
was retreating north, was a big surprise to McNeil.

"He must have at least a thousand men," said McNeil. "I thought he would
stay and fight this time, sure. I see we will have to chase the fox."

During the night the advance of Colonel Guitar's column came in. Guitar
had been taken sick at Mexico, but had sent forward five hundred men
under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Shaffer.

McNeil, his force now augmented by Shaffer's, resolved to push Porter to
the limit, and if possible bring him to battle.

A pursuit now commenced which lasted a week--a pursuit that every
soldier that was present will always remember. Men grew haggard for want
of sleep; horses staggered under the weight of their riders, and then
fell dying by the side of the road. Across prairies and streams, through
woods and tangled thickets, over rocky hills, almost inaccessible, the
pursuit led. By every art known to the wily Porter did he try to mislead
his pursuers; but they hung on to his trail like grim death.

More than once would the pursuers have been at fault had it not been for
Lawrence and his little band of scouts. Hanging on to the flank and at
times almost ahead of Porter, they were enabled to keep McNeil well
posted as to the movements of his foes.

More than once did the faithful Bruno keep the scouts from falling into
ambuscades, and more than once shots were fired at him by the vengeful
guerrillas. But Bruno had become as cunning and wary as a fox in keeping
out of danger. It was but a glimpse the guerrillas could get at him as
he stole through the woods.

"What now, Bruno? What's the matter?" asked Lawrence one day, as the dog
came rushing back in the greatest excitement. The scouts were in
advance, and had been following the trail through a rough and broken
country.

The dog gave a short bark, and looked to the front, as if to say, "Look
out--trouble ahead."

Lawrence gave the order to halt, and told Harry and another of the
company to dismount and steal carefully through the woods, and see what
they could discover. They did so, and soon came to a stream. The bridge
that spanned it had, to Harry's astonishment, been only partially
destroyed; it could easily be crossed. This looked suspicious. The other
bank of the stream was covered by a thick growth of bushes. Their leaves
rustled gently as they were touched by the breeze, and that was all.
There was no sign of life. Bruno, as he looked across the stream, gave a
low, menacing growl, and his eyes shone like two coals of fire. The
road, after crossing the bridge, was narrow, and ran between two hills,
both thickly wooded.

"There's something over there in the bushes," whispered Harry. "We'd
better go back and report to the Captain."

They did so.

"We'll wait until some of the command come up," said Lawrence.

They had not long to wait. A company of Merrill Horse that was leading
the advance came in sight. To the Captain in command Lawrence explained
his fear of an ambuscade in front. The company was halted, the men
dismounted, and a skirmish line formed. The men were instructed to work
their way carefully to the bank of the stream, but not to show
themselves.

"I see nothing alarming over there," said the Captain of the company, as
he swept the other side of the stream with his glass.

"There is something," said Lawrence. "I have just seen a bush tremble
more than if stirred by the wind. That half-destroyed bridge is but a
trap."

By this time more of the troop had come up, and had been halted. With
them were a couple of pieces of artillery.

"We are losing valuable time," grumbled the Captain. "We'd better ride
on, before McNeil gives us thunder."

"Not if I can prevent it," said Lawrence. "Bring up that artillery."

The two pieces were brought as close to the river as they could without
being seen. The horses were then unhitched, and the pieces run forward
by hand, so that a few yards more would bring them into view, and in a
position where they could sweep the bushes on both sides of the road
across the stream.

"Load with canister," ordered Lawrence. "When all is ready, I will order
a volley fired across the river into the bushes. Wait for the returning
volley, for I am sure it will come; then run up your pieces and sweep
both sides of the road."

The skirmishers crept carefully forward, and at the word poured a volley
into the bushes across the stream. The effect was electrical. The bushes
seemed to burst into smoke and flame, and then came a crashing volley in
return. Quick as thought, the two cannon were run forward and a storm of
canister swept the bushes. There were howls of rage, curses and groans,
and the guerrillas were in wild flight.

With cheers the men ran back, mounted their horses and started in
pursuit, thinking the time had come for them to annihilate Porter and
his gang.

Porter had planned well. A short distance from the bridge the road
passed through a narrow, rocky defile, and this was so obstructed that
it took two hours to remove the obstructions so the command could pass
through. Porter had left his horses on the other side of the
obstruction, so when his men broke all they had to do was to make their
way to their horses.

Porter did not try any more ambuscades. His only thought was to elude
his pursuers and get away. He came nearly doing it, and for a day McNeil
was in doubt as to which way he had gone--to the northwest or the north.

It was Lawrence and his scouts who brought the news. His report was:
"Porter crossed the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad last night at
Shelbina. He is said to be making for Kirksville, where he expects to be
joined by the guerrilla bands of northwestern Missouri. His force is
estimated at two thousand, which, I think, is an overestimate, but as he
goes north, it is hourly increasing."

"I don't care whether he has two thousand or five thousand; I am going
to catch him and make him fight," said McNeil, grimly. The pursuit was
once more taken up, the column headed for Kirksville.

There is only one county in Missouri north of the county in which
Kirksville is situated. It was as far north as Porter could hope to go
without being surrounded by enemies. Full of hope that he would be
forced to give battle at Kirksville, McNeil pressed on.

So rapid was the pursuit that McNeil, as he neared Kirksville, could not
bring over five hundred men into action. His trains and his men with
broken-down horses had been left behind. All along the route Porter's
force had been reported as fully three thousand, but three thousand did
not alarm McNeil, who had faith in his little army.

As the Federals approached Kirksville, Lawrence, who had been scouting,
reported that Kirksville had been occupied by Porter, and that he had
expelled the entire inhabitants of the place. His horses he had
concealed in the brush west of the town.

"These facts," said Lawrence, "I have learned from the three prisoners I
have here."

McNeil questioned the prisoners, but they were surly and would say
nothing. The facts that Lawrence had learned were told him when they
believed him to be one of their number. When undeceived and told to
surrender, their surprise was only equalled by their chagrin.

In bringing them back, Lawrence noticed one of the prisoners stealthily
throw away some papers. They were secured and found to be a parole and
an oath of allegiance to the National Government.

"I'm sorry," said Lawrence, "but this fact must be reported to Colonel
McNeil."[3]

[Footnote 3: This prisoner and fifteen others were afterwards executed
by McNeil for the breaking of their paroles.]

It was a beautiful August morning when McNeil's little army reached the
outskirts of the village of Kirksville. To all appearances, they gazed
upon a deserted town. If the angel of death had passed over the place
and had smitten every man, woman and child, it could not have been more
silent, death-like. The hot sun beat down upon the streets and houses,
but awoke no life. The stillness was unearthly, appalling. What did it
mean?

"Can it be that Porter has slipped away without our knowing it?" asked
McNeil.

"Impossible," answered Lawrence. "The whole guerrilla force is concealed
in the stores and houses. They are hoping we will think the place
unoccupied; then as we ride through the streets they can open fire and
slaughter us without mercy."

"How can we find out where they are?" asked McNeil, rather anxiously.

Lawrence thought a moment, and then said: "Colonel, give me a few men
and I will make a dash down the main street, and around the square. If
they are hidden, we will surely draw their fire, and thus reveal their
position."

McNeil looked at Lawrence in amazement. "Do you mean it?" he asked.

"I certainly do."

"Why, it would mean almost certain death--suicide."

"I am willing to try."

McNeil thought a moment and then said: "Captain, you must not do it. If
you were one of my officers, I might consent; but with you it is
different. You are on special duty from General Schofield. It is true
you have acted as one of my aids, and as leader of my scouts, for which
I am grateful. But for you to lead such a forlorn hope, I cannot--will
not--permit such a sacrifice on your part."

Colonel Shaffer, of the Merrill Horse, who had been present during the
conversation, now said: "Colonel, you are right. To permit Captain
Middleton to do what he proposes would be a reflection on our command;
especially would I consider it so on the Merrill Horse. I will make a
detail, and lead the forlorn hope myself."

"No, you will not," cried three or four officers of his regiment, who
had come up in time to hear his proposal. "Our Colonel leading as
desperate an undertaking as that, and we looking on! Why, every mother's
son of us should be shot for cowardice. Detail one of us."

Shaffer looked upon his officers with pride. "It is just what I might
have expected," he exclaimed, his voice trembling. "Lieutenant Coudrey,
you spoke first. You may go if you wish; but mind, I don't order you."

Coudrey saluted and said: "Colonel, I thank you. I need no order."

"How many men will you need, Lieutenant?" asked Shaffer.

"Eight, I think, will be enough. I do not wish to expose more than
necessary."

Lieutenant Coudrey returned to his company, explained to them what was
to be done, and added: "Not one that comes with me may ever come back. I
want eight volunteers."

He looked up and down the line. For a moment there was not a sound. The
men gazed into each others' faces blankly; and then, as if by common
impulse, the whole company rode forward.

"God bless you, my men, my brave boys! I might have known it, but I
cannot take you all. The first eight will do. That will save me choosing
man by man."

History tells of great charges. Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, and
Hood's at Franklin, will live as long as American history is written;
but history tells nothing of these small affairs. Yet who will say that
Lieutenant Coudrey and his eight men did not perform a braver deed than
do men who, in the heat of battle, rush up to the mouth of the cannon?
It is the individual bravery, the scout and the skirmish, which make the
romance of war.

All was ready, and as they started a thousand eyes followed them, and
with bated breath their comrades watched them as they rode. Each carried
a heavy revolver, that they might return the fire they would receive.

Down the street they rode at full speed, but not a shot was fired; the
town lay still as dead. They reached the square. "Is it possible----"
exclaimed McNeil, but his speech was cut short. As the little squad
turned to ride around the square, flashes of fire and little clouds of
smoke burst from doors and windows of stores and houses. The village had
suddenly come to life.

[Illustration: Down the street they rode at full speed.]

From their revolvers Coudrey and his men returned the fire as they rode.
A horse goes down, then another. A man throws up his arms and tumbles
headlong, but those that live dash on. The circuit is made, the hell of
fire passed through, and the enemy is located.

Coudrey, his face blackened with smoke, and his eyes blazing with the
light of battle, came riding back. His hand was grasped by both McNeil
and Shaffer. Neither could speak for a moment, and then they could only
gasp: "Thank God!"

Strange as it may seem, Lieutenant Coudrey had passed through the fiery
ordeal unscathed; but of the eight men who rode with him, two were
killed, three more wounded, and five of the eight horses lay dead.

The position of the enemy uncovered, McNeil dismounted his force, and
the battle was opened. From house to house the men forced their way, and
at the end of two hours the enemy were in full flight. The artillery of
the Federals played an important part in the action, and did much
towards turning the victory. Porter had at least three or four men to
one in this action, but his force was poorly disciplined, and stood
little show against the seasoned veterans of McNeil.[4]

[Footnote 4: Colonel McNeil reports his loss in this action as
twenty-eight killed and sixty wounded. He estimates the loss of the
guerrillas as one hundred and fifty killed, three hundred wounded and
forty-seven prisoners. Horses captured, one hundred and fifty.]

The routed guerrillas took refuge in the timber which skirted the
Chariton, but early the next morning the Merrill Horse was after them.

The next day Porter was caught at Stockton and completely routed, losing
nearly a hundred men. Porter himself barely escaped, but with a few
followers he made his way back to his old haunts, and a couple of months
later was the cause of one of the most lamentable tragedies enacted in
Missouri during the war.



CHAPTER VII

POINDEXTER CAPTURED


Hundreds of the guerrillas who had been with Porter worked their way
south to join Poindexter, and that chieftain found himself at the head
of a force of from a thousand to fifteen hundred men. That part of
Porter's force that had joined Poindexter had been closely followed by a
portion of McNeil's force, among them a hundred of the Merrill Horse.
With them came Lawrence and Harry with Bruno.

When they reached Mexico, Lawrence found a dispatch waiting him from
General Schofield, which filled him with amazement. It stated that he
had received a communication, apparently from the same hand that had
sent the first communication to him (Lawrence), in May, which revealed
the plot of the partisan uprising. This communication stated that a
large body of troops was moving up from Arkansas to coöperate with the
guerrillas, the object being to capture Independence and Lexington, and
that the movement was a month later than expected, but now it was well
under way.

"I am not satisfied," wrote General Schofield, "with the way the
officers in that district are meeting the emergency, and I want you to
go there immediately and report to me the full situation."

Lawrence reluctantly bade Harry and Bruno good-bye, and he and Dan
started for their new field of work, where we will leave them for a
time, and follow the adventures of Harry.

Poindexter and Cobb had now come back into the territory that was
commanded by Colonel Guitar. That officer had fully recovered from his
sickness, and, hastily collecting a force of five hundred men, he
started in pursuit of Poindexter.

Harry and his dog were now so well known that Guitar placed him in
command of a small body of scouts. They were dressed as guerrillas, and
they certainly looked and acted the part.

Poindexter had expected to join Porter in his retreat north, at or near
Kirksville, but he had been attacked and driven back by a force under
General Ben Loan, thus preventing the union which Porter and Poindexter
had planned.

Poindexter was now hiding in the woods and thickets along the Chariton,
and numerous guerrilla bands were flocking to his standard.

It was Colonel Guitar's business to find him and scatter his forces
before they became too strong; and to find him Guitar could employ no
better means than Harry and Bruno.

For his companions, Harry had chosen five boys, ranging in age from
eighteen to twenty, all native Missourians, skilled in woodcraft,
accustomed to firearms, and all burning to avenge themselves on the
guerrillas, for all had suffered terrible wrongs at their hands.

Just as Harry was about to start on his scout, a boy by the name of Jack
Harwood came to him and begged to be allowed to be one of the party. He
was about eighteen years of age, of slender build, but as wiry and
active as a cat. His face bore a rather sad expression, for his father
had been shot down in cold blood by some of Porter's gang; the house had
been burned over his mother's head, and she had died a few days later
from shock and exposure. Fortunately for Jack, he was not at home at the
time, or he would have shared his father's fate.

Jack buried his mother, bade farewell to his ruined home, and enlisted.
He seemed never to tire, and was never as happy as when he was hunting
guerrillas. He was brave to recklessness, and early in the service had
been promoted to a sergeantcy in his company.

Harry looked him over and told him he would see what he could do. The
eyes of the boy glowed with a fierce flame as he told Harry of his
wrongs. It was so much like his own story that Harry's heart went out
towards him.

Colonel Guitar readily granted Harry's request that Harwood might be
added to his force, and so Harry found himself at the head of six young,
adventuresome and daring scouts.

Harry's orders were to locate Poindexter, but keep in touch with the
column as much as possible.

No sooner were they away from the command than Harry halted and said:
"Boys, I must make you acquainted with Bruno, so he may make no
mistake."

The great dog was called, and he came and stood before his master,
wagging his tail and looking up in his eyes, as if to say, "What is it?"

"Bruno, this is Jack Harwood. He is all right."

Bruno smelled Jack, gave a short yelp and, lifting one of his paws,
offered it to him. The boy shook it with wonder and delight.

Bruno was then introduced to each of the scouts, and they seemed to pass
muster, for to each one he offered his paw.

"Good," exclaimed Harry. "Bruno will now know any one of you among
thousands, and you will find him the most valuable member of the squad."

Harry rode to the northwest, for he knew it was in that direction
Poindexter was rallying his forces. The country through which they
passed seemed to be terror-stricken. But few men were seen, and they
were old. The women gazed at them with scared eyes as they passed, and
little children would run and hide, or peer at them around the corners
of the houses with frightened faces.

To questions asked, both men and women were noncommittal. They knew
nothing. They were the first guerrillas they had seen for days. As for
Yankee soldiers, they knew of none nearer than the towns where they were
garrisoned.

Towards evening Bruno gave warning of foes ahead. Soon a party of ten
men rode in sight, manifestly guerrillas.

"Let me do the talking, boys," Harry said, "but be sure and sanction
everything I say; and be ready to fight at the word, if necessary. For
your life, don't let them get the drop on you. At the first suspicious
action, draw and fire."

The scouts did not seem loath to have a little skirmish. They loosened
the revolvers in their holsters, and remarked they were ready.

"Bruno," said Harry, "I don't want them to see you. Go and hide, and
don't come till I whistle."

The dog slunk into the woods that grew along the road, and in a
twinkling was out of sight. The scouts marvelled. "Why, he is human,"
said one.

"Almost, but not quite, about some things," answered Harry.

The band of guerrillas had seen them, and halted, and were scanning them
carefully, as if debating whether to advance or not.

"They seem to be a little afraid," laughed Harry. "Let's ride leisurely
forward, as if satisfied."

As they approached, the guerrillas made a movement as if to raise their
guns, but evidently thought better of it, and sat still to await their
coming, but with hands on the butts of their revolvers.

"Hello, boys; whar yo' uns goin'?" called out Harry, as he came up. "The
way yo' uns act, yo' uns must think we' uns air Yanks."

"Who be yo' uns, an' whar be yo' uns goin'?" the leader asked, scowling.

"We' uns? We' uns air from Franklin County. We' uns was a little too
close to St. Louis to be healthy for sich fellers as we' uns, so we
reckoned we' uns would come over and join Poindexter. Do yo' uns know
whar we' uns can find him?"

"Don't know an' don't care," growled the leader. "Yo' uns had better
come with we' uns. Had enough of stand-up fightin'! We' uns was with
Porter at Kirksville, and got hell kicked out of us."

Harry now learned that they were a part of Porter's band; that after his
last defeat Porter had advised his men to break into small parties and
make their way back to their old haunts, where they could rally if he
needed them. They could be nice, peaceable citizens until he wanted them
again. It was more fun harassing and robbing Union men and surprising
small parties of Yanks than it was to face the enemy in an open battle.

"I tell yo' uns," added the leader, shrugging his shoulders, "it's no
fun facing them rotten balls. They skeer a feller."

"Why didn't yo' uns lick 'em?" asked Harry.

"Lick 'em? Say, young feller, Did yo' un ever face the Merrill Hoss?"

"No; but the boys heah reckon they would like to have the chance."

"Ha! ha!" laughed the guerrillas. "Wall, go on and join Poindexter, an'
yo' uns may have a chance. See how you like it after the Merrill Hoss
gits a whack at yo' uns," and, laughing and jesting, they rode on.

When the guerrillas were first met, Jack Harwood gave a start of
surprise, and a look of fierce passion swept over his face. He suddenly
pulled his slouch hat down so as to hide his features, turned and kept
as far away as he could without exciting suspicion.

When the guerrillas had gone, he rode up to Harry, his eyes blazing, and
his whole body trembling with suppressed excitement.

"I know two of those fellows," he exclaimed, "They were with the gang
that murdered father. One of them was the one that fired the house.
Mother knew them. There were six of them, and I know every one. I have
sworn to get the whole six, and I will if I live."

The look of hatred on his face made Harry shiver, but he knew how he
felt; so had he felt when he saw his father lying dead before him.

"I had all I could do to keep from shooting them while they were talking
to you," continued Jack. "It makes me feel like a coward to let such a
chance go."

"It would have been madness, Jack. Then, we are not out to fight if we
can avoid it, but to get information. Never let your passion lead you to
do a foolish thing."

Jack said no more, but fell back in the rear.

It was almost night, and Harry decided to go into camp, as he had not
learned the exact whereabouts of Poindexter.

Suddenly some one asked, "Where is Jack Harwood?"

Harry looked. He was nowhere to be seen.

"Does any one know anything about him?" he asked, anxiously.

One of the men said: "Jack stopped just after the guerrillas left us. He
said the girth of his saddle was loose, and he would have to fix it. I
thought no more about him, and as I have been riding in front, I did not
notice he was not with us."

Could Jack have been captured by lurking guerrillas? They would go back
and see. It would not do to leave a comrade in peril. If Jack had been
captured, Bruno would have little trouble in following the trail. It was
not more than two miles back to the place where the soldier had seen
Jack dismount to fix his saddle girth, but there was no sign of a
struggle there; no evidence that any guerrilla had been lying in ambush.
But by the side of the road there were tracks of where a horse had been
turned and ridden back.

"By heavens!" exclaimed one of the men, "Jack has deserted. Don't you
remember one of those guerrillas said they lived in Ralls County?--and
Jack is from Ralls."

The other men began to swear. "If we ever catch him," they muttered,
with clenched fists.

"Hold on, boys," ejaculated Harry; "Jack has not deserted, but he has
gone, and gone alone, on one of the maddest adventures that ever single
man set out to do."

Then he told them of what Jack had said, and added: "No doubt he has
gone back to try and get those men."

"Let's go back and try to help him!" exclaimed the squad in unison.

Harry shook his head. "No, boys," he said; "and if you wish to continue
with me, you must promise me that you will not leave under any
conditions whatever, without my consent. We are soldiers. We are under
orders, and those orders are to find Poindexter. To try and find Jack
would lead us we know not where, and bring the whole object of our scout
to naught."

The men saw, and turned back; but with heavy hearts, for their thoughts
were with Jack.

The scouts went into camp not far from a substantial farmhouse, and the
occupants were a little more communicative than common, especially when
Harry told them to set up a good meal for them, and he would pay for it,
saying they had captured some Yankee money.

Their mouths being open, Harry found they had a son with Poindexter, and
he had left home only that morning. They had heard the son say
Poindexter was preparing to attack some place. They thought it was
Columbia, but were not sure.

Harry made his camp in the edge of a wood, a field in front. A rough
road ran through the wood, a short distance in the rear. If danger came,
it would be by that road that Harry calculated to retreat. They were to
rest till three o'clock, then up and away. Harry knew that with Bruno on
guard there would be no surprise, but he could not rest. He was thinking
of Jack Harwood.

About eleven o'clock, to Harry's surprise, Harwood made his appearance.
"If it hadn't been for Bruno," he said, "I would never have found you.
He met me down the road a ways, and guided me here."

"Where have you been?" asked Harry.

"Where have I been?" he answered, slowly. "On private business. I will
tell you about it in the morning."

"You must promise never again to leave without permission, or this is
your last scout with me," said Harry, sternly.

Jack did not answer. He turned to care for his horse.

When Jack stopped, under the pretence of fixing the girth of his saddle,
it was with the fixed purpose, come what would, of following those
guerrillas and killing the men who had helped murder his father. Had he
not taken a solemn oath to kill them on sight? He did not stop to think
how he could accomplish his purpose--of the danger of the undertaking.
He only knew he had seen the men; that was enough. He would track them,
if necessary, to the ends of the earth. As it was, fate favored him.

The guerrillas, all unconscious that Nemesis was on their track, rode on
until dusk, when they stopped at a fine plantation, and roughly ordered
supper and feed for their horses.

Mr. Rice, the owner of the plantation, was a hot Southern sympathizer,
but he did not relish his present company. He felt like kicking them out
of doors, but he knew it would not do to refuse them, so he made the
best of it, and ordered supper prepared.

It was a good supper, and, in the highest of spirits, nine of the
guerrillas sat down; the tenth was on guard. But he did not notice a
silent figure creeping up to the window of the room in which the rest
were dining.

Suddenly there was a sharp report, a crash of glass, and one of the
diners sprang to his feet and fell backward, shot through the brain. At
the same time a voice rang through the room. "Remember Thomas Harwood,
Number One. Let the other five beware!"

At the sound of the shot and the fall of their comrade, the other
guerrillas sat as if stunned for a moment; then with cries of terror
they rushed from the house, thinking a Yankee force was on them; but a
single shot, and excited cries from the sentinel, were all that they
heard.

Before the attack, the sentinel had seen or heard nothing, but
afterwards he had caught a glimpse of a dim figure fleeing up the road.
He had fired, but there was no response to his shot.

When told what the voice had said, he turned pale and trembled. "My
God!" he exclaimed, "it must have been Jack Harwood, Tom Harwood's son.
There were six of us who put a quietus on that old Abolitionist. I heard
the boy took a terrible oath he would never rest until he got the whole
six. After that we lay for the boy, but he gave us the slip and went in
the Yankee army. So, poor Ben is done for. He was one of the six. My
being on guard is all that saved me. But whar did the boy come from? How
did he know we' uns was heah?"

This question greatly puzzled the guerrillas, until one of them spoke:
"I reckon them seven fellers we' uns met was Yanks. That Harwood boy
must have been one of them. He saw you two fellers, and follered we' uns
heah, and got poor Ben."

"Boys, I'll never feel easy as long as Jack Harwood lives," said the one
who had escaped. "That boy is a devil. That's nine of us--only seven of
them. Let's turn back and take them by surprise. We' uns can shoot them
up."

It was agreed to, and so the guerrillas turned back.

After the return of Jack, Harry had lain down for a time, but could not
sleep. He knew something had happened, but could not imagine what it
was. Surely, Jack had not engaged the guerrillas single-handed. But he
would have to wait until morning to know. Just as he was sinking into
sleep, Bruno caught him by the shoulder and shook him. He was on his
feet in a second.

Everything seemed quiet, and the guard said he had heard nothing, but
Bruno showed by his actions everything was not right.

"Arouse the boys," said Harry; "something is in the wind."

The scouts were aroused, but nothing could be discovered. Everything
seemed quiet and asleep.

"Jeffreys," said Harry to one of the men, "creep down towards the house
and see if any mischief is going on down there. Be careful; keep in the
shadow of the fence, and get back as quickly as possible."

Jeffreys was gone nearly half an hour and Harry was beginning to get
alarmed, when he came back. He had a startling story to tell. He had
crept up nearly to the house and found the yard full of men and horses.
The nine guerrillas had come back and stopped at the house to make
inquiries.

"The villain who lives there," continued Jeffreys, "told them all about
where we were camped and the best way to surprise us. They were making
arrangements to creep up on us when I thought it time to come back. I
heard them talk of some one of our number who had killed one of their
men. What did they mean?"

"Never mind now," answered Harry. "Let's get ready to give them a warm
reception. We know just how many there are, and they are the ones who
will be surprised."

It was a warm reception they got. Harry let them come almost up to them
before he gave the signal to fire. First the carbines, then the
revolver, had been his order.

In a minute all was over. Stunned by the reception they received, those
who had not been killed or wounded beat a hasty retreat. Investigation
showed three of the guerrillas dead and three more desperately wounded.
The wounded were carried to the farmhouse to be cared for.

Among the dead was the one who had stood guard. Jack gazed at him a
moment in silence and then muttered, "Number Two, but who killed him?"

Jack now told Harry how he had followed the guerrillas and shot one.

Harry listened in silence and then said, "Jack, I know how you feel. I
once felt the same way, until Captain Middleton taught me better. He
says this is a war of principles, not against individuals. That it is
simply murder to kill for private wrongs."

"Wrong to kill guerrillas?" asked Jack in surprise.

"Yes, the way you did. In killing Ben Storms you had no idea of aiding
the great cause for which we are fighting. You did it for revenge. In
doing it you put yourself on the same plane as the man you killed."

"Why, you have just helped me in killing several. What's the
difference?" asked Jack in astonishment.

"We killed those men in battle, and to save our own lives. The
difference is great. If I had cruelly killed those wounded men instead
of taking them to the house to be cared for, that would have been
murder, not warfare."

A thought came to Harry and he asked, "Jack, if that other man who
helped kill your father had been only wounded and not killed, what would
you have done?"

Jack hung his head and whispered, "Killed him."

"I thought so, I would have done the same to a man who helped kill my
father if it had not been for Captain Middleton. I have learned better,
and now thank him for it. Jack, promise me you will never leave the
command again without my permission."

Jack made the promise, but was rather doubtful as to the expediency of
sparing the life of a guerrilla guilty of murder.

Owing to the fight it was well along in the morning before the scouts
started. They had not gone over two miles before they met a man riding
rapidly. To him they told the story of going to join Poindexter.

"Better go to Switzler's Mill," he said. "Poindexter starts for there
this morning. I left him not over six hours ago. I'm on my way to try
and rally some of Porter's men to come to his assistance."

"Is that so?" dryly answered Harry. "You had better come with us. You
are just the man we've been looking for." And to the fellow's amazement,
he found himself a prisoner.

"Now, boys," cried Harry, gleefully, "back to Guitar, I've found out all
I want to know."

Horse flesh was not spared, and Guitar was found about noon, his column
on the march. To him Harry told the news, and with all speed the head of
the column was turned towards Switzler's Mill.

Now commenced a chase that lasted for seven days and did not end until
the command had ridden two hundred and fifty miles over the roughest of
roads.

Poindexter turned and twisted like a fox. There was no fight in his men;
they ran like a pack of frightened coyotes at the first crack of a gun.

Guitar struck him at Switzler's Mill and scattered his force like chaff.
Hot on Poindexter's trail the tireless troopers clung. Horses suffered
more than the men. Scores fell by the roadside and died of exhaustion.

At Little Compton Poindexter was once more brought to bay, and, scarcely
firing a shot; he fled, leaving behind his trains, most of his
ammunition, several hundred stands of arms, and five hundred horses.

His army was now little more than a fleeing mob. Once more he was struck
at the Muscle Fork of the Chariton. Many of his men were drowned trying
to get across the stream.

With only four hundred followers out of the fifteen hundred he had at
the beginning, Poindexter fled westward. Guitar could follow no farther.
Men and horses were exhausted.

In this remarkable campaign Guitar states that he lost only five men
wounded, while he estimates that at least one hundred and fifty of the
enemy were killed and drowned, and he had captured one hundred men and a
thousand horses and mules.

Poindexter's misfortunes were not ended. As he fled west and south the
remnant of his force was struck by General Ben Loan and totally
dispersed, every guerrilla seeking his own safety. Poindexter found
himself a wanderer without a single follower.

Disguising himself he skulked in the woods and found shelter in the
houses of friends, but tireless on his path were Harry and his scouts.
From covert to covert and from house to house they trailed him and at
last ran him down.

They entered a house where an apparently sick man sat cowering in a
corner, wrapped in a blanket. With a snarl Bruno was about to spring
upon him when Harry stopped him, and going up to the man said, "The jig
is up, Poindexter. You're not half as sick as you pretend."

With a groan and a curse the guerrilla chieftain yielded himself a
prisoner.



CHAPTER VIII

LONE JACK


Although the dispersion of Porter's and Poindexter's forces had
apparently put an end, at least for a time, to the guerrilla warfare in
Northeast Missouri, the situation was still threatening in Southwest
Missouri. It was for that reason General Schofield had ordered Lawrence
to that field to inspect the posts, and to see that the officers in
command were vigilant and doing their full duty.

Rumors were rife that a large party under Hughes, Quantrell and others
was gathering to attack Independence, also that a force was moving up
from Arkansas to join them. Independence captured, the combined forces
were to move on Lexington.

Lawrence was to sift down these rumors, and find out how much truth
there was in them, and above all to impress on the officers in charge of
the different posts the necessity of eternal vigilance.

But the blow fell just before Lawrence reached Lexington. Lieutenant
Colonel Buell, in command at Independence, although repeatedly warned,
allowed himself to be surprised. His forces were divided and not well
posted, and after a spirited fight Buell surrendered, and with him about
three hundred men were taken prisoners. The Confederate commander,
Colonel Hughes, was killed in the action.

The capture of Independence greatly elated the guerrillas, and recruits
came pouring in by the hundreds. They now only awaited the arrival of
Colonel Coffee from the south and they would move on to Lexington. When
Lawrence arrived at Lexington he found the place in the wildest
excitement. Rumors said that the enemy numbered thousands, and that they
were already marching on the place.

Lawrence acted quickly. He applied to the commander of the post for a
detail of ten men, dressed in citizen clothes.

"Tell them," he said, "it is for a scout, so they will not be deceived
as to the danger of the undertaking."

The ten men were easily procured, and, headed by Lawrence and Dan,
started. The object was to find out the strength of the enemy under
Coffee, and whether he could not be prevented from forming a union with
the forces which had captured Independence.

The scout was far more successful than Lawrence could have hoped.
Representing themselves as coming from north of the river, they had no
trouble in meeting on friendly terms several small parties of guerrillas
with whom they fell in. They were all on their way to join Thompson, who
was now in command of the forces which had captured Independence.
Everyone expected Lexington would be the next to fall, and they were all
anxious to have a hand in the affair. Lawrence represented they were to
find Coffee and hurry him up.

At length they were fortunate enough to fall in with a single guerrilla
who was sitting by the side of the road, making the air blue with his
curses.

"What's the matter?" asked Lawrence.

"My hoss stepped into a hole and threw me, and I have broken my leg," he
groaned.

"That's bad," said Lawrence. "I will see what I can do for you."

"Yes, it's bad, and I was on my way from Colonel Coffee to Colonel
Thompson."

"Ah! were you? Perhaps I can help you. I can send one of my men with the
message. What was it?"

"That he would camp near Lone Jack on the evening of the fifteenth, and
wanted Thompson to join him thar."

"How many men has Coffee?" Lawrence asked.

"About a thousand, but more are coming in all the time."

The information was important. It was just what Lawrence wanted, but
what to do with the man and still keep him deceived puzzled Lawrence.
This problem was solved by a native coming along driving a raw-boned
horse before a rickety wagon. Lawrence stopped him. The disabled
guerrilla was lifted into the wagon and taken to the nearest farmhouse.
Here Lawrence left instructions for them to send for a physician to set
the broken leg.

"Now I've done all I can for you," he told him, "and I must leave you,
for my business is very important. I shall see that your message to
Colonel Thompson is safely delivered."

No sooner were they out of sight than Lawrence said, "Now, boys, for
Lexington."

When Lawrence made his report, Colonel Huston, in command at Lexington,
acted with promptness. It was decided to send a force to strike Coffee
at Lone Jack before Thompson and Quantrell could join him.

The utmost that could be done was to gather a little force of about
seven hundred and fifty. This force was placed in command of Major Emery
Foster.

There was another force of about the same number under the command of
Colonel Fitz Henry Warren at Clinton. Clinton being about the same
distance from Lone Jack as Lexington, Warren was ordered to march there
and join Foster, and the two forces combined to attack Coffee without
delay.

In the meantime General Blunt, in command at Fort Scott, Kansas, had
learned that Coffee had slipped past Springfield and was making north,
and he started in pursuit with a thousand men.

A third force under Colonel Burris of the Kansas Infantry was ordered to
move from Kansas City and try to catch Thompson and Quantrell before
they could join Coffee.

Thus it looked as if the Confederates were hemmed in, and if everything
went right, could be captured.

Lawrence decided to join the expedition under Foster.

Foster's little army left Lexington on the morning of the fifteenth of
August, and by a rapid march reached the vicinity of Lone Jack by
evening. Here at nine o'clock at night he surprised Coffee in camp,
routing him, his men fleeing in confusion.

Foster took possession of the abandoned camp and waited until morning.
Warren had not been heard from.

Lawrence still was in command of his scouts, and he volunteered to see
if he could find Warren.

The night was dark and they had to be careful.

"If we only had Harry and Bruno," sighed Lawrence to Dan, as they were
groping their way along as best they could.

"If we had we wouldn't be going at this snail pace," answered Dan.

They could find nothing of Warren and started to return. On the way back
they came to a cross road and halted in doubt as to which road to take.
While debating, the sound of approaching horses was heard.

"Halt," commanded Lawrence as two guerrillas rode up.

"Who are yo' uns?" they asked, surprised.

"We 'uns are from Thompson. I was afraid yo' uns were Yanks. Whar is
Coffee?"

"The Yanks struck his camp a few hours ago and made us git."

"Many hurt?"

"I reckon not. We 'uns run too fast."

"Glad to heah that. Thompson sent me to tell Coffee he would be with him
by morning. Coffee hasn't run clear away, has he?"

"No, he's gittin' his men together and will be all right by morning. How
many men has Thompson?"

"About twelve or fifteen hundred. You see, Quantrell and Hayes air with
him. An Red Jerry has promised to come with his company."

"Together we 'uns ought to eat the Yanks up tomorrow."

"I don't see any use of your going farther, as Thompson is coming," said
Lawrence. "So you might as well go with us into camp."

To this the guerrillas agreed, and their surprise can be imagined when
they found themselves in Foster's camp instead of Coffee's.

The report of Lawrence that he could not find Warren, and that Thompson
would join Coffee in the morning troubled Foster.

"The whole combined force will be down on us in the morning," he said.
"Where can Warren be? Surely he cannot fail, for his orders were
positive, and mine were positive to stay here and wait for him. And stay
I will, if all the devils in Missouri are around me."

Lawrence looked at him with admiration. "Major, you are a man after my
own heart," he said. "I will make one more attempt to find Warren. This
time I will only take Sherman with me, as I do not wish to deplete your
little force by a single man."

"It will be dangerous, only two of you," replied Foster.

"Not as much danger as you will be in if Warren does not come," answered
Lawrence. "God grant I may find him."

"Amen!" said Foster, fervently.

The two men shook hands and Lawrence and Dan rode away. It lacked but an
hour till day.

Morning came, but there was no Warren, and neither had Dan and Lawrence
returned. The new day had hardly begun when the guerrilla hordes poured
down on Foster's little army, confident of an easy victory.

Now began one of the bloodiest and most fiercely contested small battles
of the war. The enemy had no artillery, but Foster had two pieces of the
Third Indiana battery. The lieutenant in charge of the piece, J. F.
Devlin, had been removed by Major Foster the night before for being
intoxicated, and the guns placed in charge of Sergeant James M. Scott,
and nobly did he uphold the confidence placed in him. Never was there a
battery better or more bravely served. Time and time again did the enemy
charge upon the guns, only to be flung back, bleeding and torn.

During a lull in the conflict, Lieutenant Devlin, somewhat recovered
from his drunken debauch, staggered on the field and ordered his men to
abandon the pieces. Accustomed to obey their superior officer, the men
did so. The enemy saw and with fiendish yells of triumph swarmed upon
and over the pieces.

It was a critical moment. Major Foster hastily collected sixty men and
charged on the guns--so shamelessly abandoned by the order of a drunken
commander. Of the sixty men who charged, but eleven reached the guns,
the rest had fallen, and among them the gallant Major. Others now rushed
to the rescue, the artillery men came back, and once more the guns were
thundering their defiance. The enemy again rushed on them, only to be
bloodily repulsed.

Disheartened, the Confederates now fell back, leaving the field to those
who had so valiantly defended it. But the situation of the little band
was perilous. Nothing had been heard from Warren, and nearly one-half of
the force had fallen. Captain Brawner, on whom the command had fallen,
resolved to retreat to Lexington. In doing this the two cannon had to be
abandoned.

Every horse had been shot, even the harnesses were in tatters. Of the
thirty-six artillery men manning the guns, twenty-four had been killed
and wounded. The severely wounded had to be left, among them the gallant
Foster.[5]

[Footnote 5: The brave Major recovered from what was supposed to be a
mortal wound, was exchanged, and afterwards did valiant service for the
Union.]

So severe had been the punishment administered to the enemy that the
Federals were not molested in their retreat. It put an end to all the
Confederates' hopes of capturing Lexington.[6]

[Footnote 6: Out of the seven hundred and forty Federals engaged in the
battle the loss was two hundred and seventy-two. The Confederates never
reported their loss, but a Confederate officer told Captain Brawner that
they buried one hundred and eighteen, who had been killed outright,
besides their hundreds of wounded.]

But where were Lawrence and Dan all the time the battle was raging? Why
had they not brought Colonel Warren to the rescue?

In the early morning they had run into a small party of guerrillas, had
boldly charged them and put them to flight, but the sound of firing had
brought a larger party, and they blocked the way Lawrence and Dan wished
to go. It was now light, and they saw the band numbered at least fifty.
There was no help for it, they had to turn and run, and that in a
direction that for aught they knew would bring them in the midst of the
enemy.

With fierce yells the guerrillas took up the pursuit and the chase was a
hot one. Lawrence and Dan were well mounted, but a few of the guerrillas
were just as well mounted, and pressed them closely.

Now as they fled, above the sound of their horses' hoofs rose the sound
of battle. Just the faint cracking of musketry, and then the boom of the
cannon.

"Great Heavens!" gasped Lawrence. "They are at it. Foster and his little
band against thousands. Why did we leave them? We might have been of a
little help."

"And we are going farther away from Warren every minute," groaned Dan.

Here the whistling of a bullet from the revolver of the nearest
guerrilla brought their thoughts back to the seriousness of their own
situation. They had now gone beyond the sound of the musketry, but the
roar of the cannon grew more incessant, and they knew they were almost
in the rear of the enemy.

Coming to where there were open fields, they glanced to the right and
saw the stragglers and wounded drifting to the rear, as is always the
case in time of battle. They must turn or they would soon be in the
midst of the rabble.

Fortunately, they came to a cross road and turned into it. They were now
followed by only five or six of their pursuers, the rest having turned
back to take part in the battle. But these half dozen were mounted on
the fleetest horses and were gaining on them rapidly. Already the
bullets were singing around them freely.

"This cannot last," Lawrence exclaimed. "Our horses are becoming winded.
We must find some way to stop those fellows."

"We've got to stop them," said Dan. "My horse is staggering and I look
for him to drop any minute."

They rode over a little hill that for a moment put them out of sight.
"Now," said Lawrence, halting and wheeling his horse. Dan did the same.

"When they come over the hill give it to them," exclaimed Lawrence. "It
will be a question of who can shoot the straightest."

Dan smiled and he drew his revolver. He was known to be a dead shot, and
nothing rattled him.

They had hardly two seconds to wait when four of the guerrillas dashed
over the rise. Seeing Lawrence and Dan facing them and not thirty yards
away, startled them and they instinctively tried to check their headlong
pace. It was a fatal mistake, for it disconcerted their aim and their
shots went wild.

To his astonishment, Lawrence recognized one of the guerrillas as Jerry
Alcorn, his old time enemy. Lawrence fired, but just as he did so
Jerry's horse threw up his head and the ball struck him squarely between
the eyes. The horse dropped like a stone, pinning Jerry for a moment to
the ground.

Dan had fired the same time Lawrence did and his guerrilla pitched
headlong. The report of his shot had not died before he shot again and a
second guerrilla fell.

The remaining guerrilla had no stomach to continue the fight, and
wheeled his horse to flee. Once more Dan's revolver spoke, and the
guerrilla fell forward, but he clung desperately to the neck of his
horse and was soon carried from view.

It took Jerry Alcorn but a moment to extricate himself from his horse,
and as he half rose he fired at Lawrence, but missed. Lawrence returned
the fire, and the ball struck Jerry's revolver and sent it spinning.
With a mocking laugh Jerry sprang into the bushes along the road. "Not
this time, Lawrence Middleton," he shouted as he disappeared, "but we'll
meet again."

"Let's get out of here," said Lawrence. "We can't follow Jerry in the
brush and we are now safe from pursuit."

Even the short stop had allowed their horses a breathing spell and they
could now ride more leisurely.

"Dan, I'm a poor stick. I should be reduced to the ranks and you given
my commission," said Lawrence.

"How's that?" asked Dan.

"Didn't you get three of those fellows, and I only killed a horse and
disabled a revolver. Missed three shots." Lawrence had fired again at
Jerry as he disappeared in the brush. "Bah! I'm ashamed of myself."

"Look here!" said Dan. "It was that measly horse. He had no business to
throw up his head at that moment. Served him right to get killed."

"But the second shot, Dan. It went wild and hit his revolver, and the
third missed altogether. And of all men to let Jerry Alcorn escape. Kick
me, Dan."

"Might have bored one of us if you hadn't knocked the revolver out of
his hand," answered Dan, "so shut up."

They had ridden far out of their way and had to make a wide circuit to
get back. A little before noon the distant booming of the cannon was
heard no longer.

"It's all over," sighed Lawrence, "and I'm afraid."

Dan's jaws came together with a snap and a dark scowl came over his
face. "Why in thunder didn't Warren come?" he wrathfully exclaimed.
"Some of these officers make me tired."

It was the middle of the afternoon before Warren was found. He was
fearful of an attack on himself, and was several miles from the
battlefield.

To Lawrence's request to hurry the Colonel replied, "You say the battle
is over and in all probability Foster's whole force captured. In that
case I can do no good. My force is but little greater than that Foster
had."

"But they may not all be captured. You may be able to cover the
retreat," Lawrence urged.

"The best I can do is to stay and watch the enemy, and wait for
reinforcements," replied Warren.

Lawrence and Dan were disgusted, but Warren was right in not seeking an
engagement with his small force.

"What shall we do, Dan?" Lawrence asked with a heavy heart as they
turned away.

"Try and see what has become of Foster," answered Dan.

"You're right, Dan."

They were about to ride away when news came that Foster's force was in
full retreat for Lexington, and that those who survived the battle were
safe.

Lawrence and Dan concluded to stay with Warren.

Knowing that a force from Kansas City, as well as General Blunt from the
far south, was closing in on the Confederates, they had high hopes that
they might be captured. But during the night Coffee's entire force
slipped by Blunt and, before the movement was discovered, was well on
its way to Arkansas. The guerrilla bands of Quantrell, Red Jerry and
others took to the brush, there to remain hidden until the Federal
troops had returned to their several posts.

Lawrence and Dan returned to Lexington disgusted. They believed that if
the different forces had acted together, and the campaign been managed
rightly, the entire force of the enemy could have been captured.



CHAPTER IX

CAPTURED BY GUERRILLAS


There is little doubt that Major Foster's plucky fight at Lone Jack
saved Lexington, for had he not gone out and attacked the Confederates,
they would have marched straight on that place, as was their intention.

The fight halted them and gave the Federals time to concentrate.

All danger of the Federals being driven from the State by a partisan
uprising now being over, and the deep laid plans of General Hindman and
other Confederate leaders being brought to naught, General Schofield
resolved to concentrate his army at Springfield.

The army that was known as "The Army of the Northwest" had now been
designated "The Army of the Frontier," and General Schofield decided to
leave the command of the Department of Missouri in other hands and
assume the command of the Army of the Frontier in person, with
headquarters at Springfield.

Before returning to St. Louis business took Lawrence to Fort
Leavenworth. He had not been there since 1856, when a forlorn little boy
of twelve, without money and without friends, he had taken passage for
St. Louis. How the memory of those days came rushing over him. The mob,
the tarring and feathering of his father, Judge Lindsly taking them
in,--the gallant defence of his father by Judge Lindsly,--the raid by
John Brown,--the flight to Kansas,--his father's death,--it all came
back to him like a mighty rushing torrent.

He wondered how Judge Lindsly was now. How was he faring in these
troublesome times? Was he being robbed by both guerrillas and Federals?
He determined to visit him. Perhaps he might be of some protection to
him as far as the Federal side was concerned.

He spoke of his determination to the commander at Fort Leavenworth and
that officer replied, "You cannot go without an escort. The country is
swarming with guerrillas who never lose a chance of shooting any
Federals who are unwise enough to stray outside of the lines. There is a
detachment of our troops at Platte City and I will give you an escort
that far. How far is it from Platte City to where Judge Lindsly lives?"

"I should say nine or ten miles," replied Lawrence.

"Well, do not try to make the trip from there without a good escort. A
Captain Leeper is in command at Platte and he will readily supply you
with one."

Lawrence thanked him and was ready to start when the escort, which
consisted of a sergeant and five men, made their appearance.

Dan had found some old friends at Leavenworth who had been with him in
the troublesome times on the border before the war, and he concluded to
stay with them while Lawrence made his visit. As it turned out, it was
fortunate that he did so.

Crossing the river on a ferry, Lawrence and his escort mounted their
horses and started for Platte City, but a few miles away. It was with a
sad heart that Lawrence looked over the country. What had been one of
the most beautiful portions of the State had become almost a desolate
waste. Ruined houses and deserted farms met his gaze at every turn.

When Platte City was reached Lawrence received a cordial welcome from
Captain Leeper, who, on hearing his request, readily consented to give
him an escort of a corporal and four men.

"A few days ago," said the Captain, "I would not have dared to send so
small an escort, for a gang of bushwhackers under the command of a
notorious guerrilla named Lamar has been scourging the neighborhood, but
Colonel Penick, last week, came over from Liberty and scattered them. He
captured two, whom he shot, and burned two or three houses whose owners
had been harboring the gang. It has been very quiet ever since. I think
he has thoroughly dispersed the gang."

This news was not very cheering to Lawrence. Shooting guerrillas after
they were caught and burning houses did not tend to make those left less
cruel.

When Lawrence came in sight of the once fine plantation of Judge Lindsly
his heart bled. The fields were neglected, not half of them under
cultivation, and those that were, poorly tended, but to his relief the
house had not been disturbed.

Although greatly surprised, the Judge received Lawrence with open arms.
"I often see your name in the papers," he said, "and rejoice at your
advancement, although it is at the cost of the cause I love."

"Tell me of yourself," said Lawrence, "and all that has happened to you
during the last months of trial."

The Judge sighed deeply and replied, "Look and see for yourself what
this unhappy war has not only brought upon me, but on the whole State. I
have been preyed upon by both Federals and guerrillas. Most of my slaves
have left me. To make my position more intolerable, I am _persona non
grata_ with both sides. The guerrillas do not like me because I denounce
guerrilla warfare. I tell them if the independence of the South is ever
achieved, it will be done by the great armies in the field, and that the
place of every man who loves and would fight for the South should be in
the army, not hiding in the brush. General Price should have had the
fifty thousand men he called for. He would have had them if everyone who
has played the part of guerrilla had responded. With such an army he
would have swept the State clear of Federals.

"I told them the late uprising of the partisan bands would only bring
more misery, bloodshed and murder on the State, and nothing would be
accomplished, and so it has proven.

"I was denounced for these opinions and my life has been threatened by
Quantrell, Lamar and others.

"On the other hand, I am continually being threatened with arrest by the
Federals. I have absolutely refused to take the oath of allegiance to
the Federal Government. Now that the worst has come, I am with the South
heart and soul, and I will not perjure myself."

Lawrence was deeply moved. He could only press the hand of the old Judge
in sympathy and say, "If I have any influence you will never be
arrested. If you ever get in trouble let me know. What I can do I will."

This the Judge promised, and when it came time to part he held
Lawrence's hand lingeringly and said with emotion, "Would to God,
Lawrence, you were my own son and fighting for the right, but I love you
as it is. May your life be spared."

Lawrence's eyes filled with tears. He tried to speak, but his voice
failed. He could only press the hand of the Judge as they parted.

Riding a short distance he turned and looked back. Judge Lindsly was
still standing on the porch looking after him and waved his hand.
Lawrence choked back a sob as he waved his hand in return. The once
erect form of the Judge was bowed and bent; his gray hair was perfectly
white, and he leaned on his cane, weak and trembling.

It was months before Lawrence saw him again, and then it was in a prison
pen at Kansas City.

All unconscious of danger, Lawrence started back to Platte City. His
visit had left a heavy load on his heart. He thought of the time the
Judge saved his father's life, risking his own to do so, and his image
rose before him, as he stood, proud, erect, like a lion at bay, facing
the mob.[7]

[Footnote 7: See "With Lyon in Missouri."]

They had covered about half the distance to Platte City without
incident, Lawrence and the corporal riding side by side, the four
troopers a short distance in advance.

Suddenly from a thicket two rifles blazed. The corporal fell from his
horse dead, the horse which Lawrence rode plunged forward on his head,
throwing Lawrence heavily, and he lay unconscious in the road.

The four troopers, seeing both Lawrence and the corporal, as they
supposed, lying dead, put spurs to their horses and rode for their lives
to Platte City to give the alarm.

At the head of twenty men Captain Leeper started for the scene of
action, but all he found was the dead body of the corporal, and that of
Lawrence's horse. The horse had been shot through the head and both
saddle and bridle were missing.

The guerrillas had hung the body of the corporal from a tree and there
it dangled over the road, a gruesome object. To the lapel of his coat
they had pinned a paper on which was written, "The fate that awaits all
Kansas Jayhawkers."

Of Lawrence there were no signs, and as night was falling, Captain
Leeper returned to Platte City full of wrath, but impotent to avenge.

When the guerrillas fired the corporal was slightly in advance of
Lawrence and the bullet had gone clear through his body and struck
Lawrence's horse. The horse falling had saved Lawrence's life, as he
being thrown had caused the second guerrilla to miss him.

When Lawrence came to, there were two guerrillas standing gloating over
him. "Say, Jim," said one. "This feller ain't dead. He's wiggling. Shall
I finish him?"

"No, let's take him to the captain," replied the other. "He's a Yankee
officer, and if we 'uns hang him all the boys will want to see the fun."

It was not long before Lawrence fully came to. To the jeers and taunts
of his captors he made no reply. But when he saw there were but two of
them he mentally cursed the four escorts who had so cowardly left him to
his fate.

After he was securely bound he was forced to stand while the two, with
foul epithets, hung the body of the corporal over the road.

"Thar yo' un can see what yo' un are coming to," one said, grinning at
Lawrence. "How do yo' un like it?"

Lawrence made no answer, and with a curse and a growl the guerrillas
turned away.

Lawrence was now placed on the horse that had been ridden by the
corporal, his hands tied behind him and his feet securely bound beneath
the horse on which he rode. One of the guerrillas tied the halter of the
horse to the saddle of the one he rode, and they started for the secret
rendezvous of the gang. It was long after nightfall before they reached
it.

Captain Lamar and most of the gang were found to be away, so supperless
and bound, Lawrence was placed under a tree to await the morning.

The cords with which he was bound cut into his flesh and he was parched
with thirst. He asked for water, but a curse was the only answer.

There throughout the rest of the night Lawrence lay, the stars looking
pityingly down upon him. He could not sleep, his sufferings were too
great, and there was the uncertainty of the morrow. What would the end
be?

All his life passed before his mental vision in a panoramic vision. He
lived it all over again.

Morning came, but Captain Lamar and the rest of the gang had not yet
returned. He was given some breakfast, but taunted with the fact that it
would be his last meal on earth. Better than the food was the water
which cooled his parched mouth and tongue. No nectar that ever flowed
tasted half so sweet.

About nine o'clock Captain Lamar came. He was in a towering rage, for
his expedition had failed and he had lost two men.

When told two of his men had killed a Yankee and captured a Yankee
captain, he asked what had been done with the captain.

"He is heah," said one of the men. "We 'uns have been waitin' to see
what yo' un wanted to do with him."

"Hang him or shoot him, I don't care which," he growled as he turned
away. "I'm tired and hungry and want some breakfast."

The Captain's decision was told, but the gang decided to wait until the
men who came in with the Captain had had breakfast, so all could enjoy
the sport. To the savage men the hanging or shooting of a Yankee was an
enjoyable event.

When breakfast was over there was quite a discussion as to whether
Lawrence should be hung or shot. Those in favor of hanging carried the
day, so he was led under the projecting limb of a tree and a rope placed
around his neck.

Lawrence felt all hope was gone. He was standing face to face with
death. For a moment he felt faint and a deadly fear seized him. Few
there be who in health and strength can face Death without a fear. As
they look him in his face and his shadowy wings cover them, nature
recoils and would flee from him.

But it was only a moment that Lawrence feared. He gulped back the lump
in his throat; his trembling nerves became as steel. He was a man--a
soldier again. He had faced death on the battlefield without a quiver
and he would do so now, though this was different, it was coming in such
a horrible form; but he would face it. He looked into the scowling faces
around him without a sign of fear.

"What do yo' un have to say before we 'uns string you up?" demanded one
of the men.

"Nothing," answered Lawrence, "but I would be thankful if you would
inform Judge Lindsly of my fate. He at least will give my body a decent
burial."

At this the guerrillas burst into a boisterous laugh. "That's a good
one," they cried. "He reckons we 'uns bury the Yanks we 'uns hang. Young
feller, we 'uns will pitch your carcass in the brush and leave it for
the buzzards to pick--that is, if a Missouri buzzard will pick a dead
Yank."

At this sally there was another burst of laughter.

Just then there came a diversion. One of the men, Cal Jones, who had
been one of the party with Lamar, had missed a Federal soldier at short
range, and his companions were guying him unmercifully.

"Why," drawled one called Hooper, "Cal couldn't hit a barn door at fifty
paces."

Cal was hopping mad. "I'll bet yo 'un a hoss I ken put a ball through
that Yank's heart at fifty paces," he roared.

"Done," exclaimed Hooper. "Heah, boys, stop that picnic for a few
moments. Cal has bet me a hoss he can plug that Yank through the heart
at fifty paces the first shot."

Some of the men began to demur, but Hooper, in a tantalizing tone,
drawled, "Don't be skeered, boys. Cal will sure miss him, and we 'uns
can have our fun afterwards."

"I'll show yo' un. I'll show yo' un," yelled Cal, hopping around like a
mad turkey.

They now all fell in with the idea, and Lawrence was placed with his
back against a tree. To him the diversion came as a welcome relief. He
would now die like a soldier and not like a felon.

"Hold on thar!" cried Hooper, as Jones began to pace the distance. "I
said fifty paces, not fifty steps. Yo' un don't come that on me."

"I am pacin'." snarled Cal. "Want to back out, do yer?"

"Not much, but I'll do that pacin' myself." And he began.

"No, yer don't," yelled Cal. The men were about to fight when the others
interfered, saying it was only fair a third party should do the pacing.
This was agreed to and the pacing duly done. Jones took his position, a
huge navy revolver in his hand.

Lawrence stood facing him. Not a muscle quivered as he looked his
would-be executioner in the eye.

Jones raised his weapon. "Stand back," yelled Hooper. "Don't get too
close, some of yo' uns will get hurt. The Yank is in no danger."

Jones fired, but he was too angry to shoot straight, and his shot went
wild.

"What did I tell yo' un? What did I tell yo' un?" cried Hooper. "Never
teched the Yank or tree, either," and he kicked up his heels like a
young colt. "That hoss is mine."

The whole crowd shouted in derision, and Jones, in anger, fired every
shot in his revolver before they could stop him. Lawrence stood unmoved
and smiling. One shot had struck the tree an inch above his head,
another had passed between his arm and body, and a third had cut a
little piece out of his coat on the shoulder. The humorous aspect of the
affair struck him, and he laughed outright.

The guerrillas simply went crazy with delight. Many of them threw
themselves on the ground rolling and kicking with laughter.

Captain Lamar heard the shots and the uproar and came to see what it
meant. He had just finished his breakfast and was in a little better
humor. When he heard what had happened he remarked with a cruel smile,
"Turn about is fair play. Better put Cal up, and see what the Yank can
do."

This suggestion took like wildfire. Cal was seized by his comrades and,
frightened and begging for his life, was being hustled to the tree to
take Lawrence's place when the Captain interfered. "Hold on, boys," he
said. "I only wanted to frighten Cal. But if he don't learn to be a
better shot I'll hang him sure. But that Yank must be a gritty fellow.
I'll have a look at him."

"Gritty," said one of the men. "Well, I should say so. He turned kind of
white around the gills when he first felt the halter around his neck,
and then braced up and not a whimper. Why, he actually laughed when Cal
was shooting at him."

"That was because Cal was shooting so wild," remarked the Captain.

"Three of the shots came mighty close to him. Only missed him by a
hair's breadth."

"Glad to hear Cal is improving," said Lamar dryly, as he walked towards
Lawrence.

He had no sooner looked him in the face than an expression of surprise
came over his countenance. He stepped back, swept his hand across his
eyes, as if he was brushing away something, looked again and then turned
away, saying, "There'll be no hanging. Untie the prisoner and bring him
to my tent."

The men gazed at each other in astonishment. But great as was their
surprise, greater was Lawrence's. The shock was almost as great as when
he thought he had to die. Then he began to realize he had stepped from
the shadow of death, and there was hope of living, and he breathed a
prayer of thankfulness.

His surprise grew when Lamar called the two men who had captured him and
asked what they had of his.

"Everything, Captain, but his hoss. That was killed. But we 'uns have
got the hoss of the Yank that was killed," they answered.

"Well, bring everything you have of his, and the horse you
captured--saddled and bridled," he ordered, and the men departed
wondering.

When Lawrence was brought before Lamar he asked him what he was doing in
this part of the country. Lawrence told him he had been to visit Judge
Lindsly, who had greatly befriended him when he was small.

"Are you the boy whose father was tarred and feathered, and the Judge
took you both in?"

"I am."

Lamar chuckled. "Say, boy, do you know I was in that crowd?"

"No," answered Lawrence, more astonished than ever.

"Well, I was. But here is your horse and everything taken from you. You
are at liberty to take them and ride away. Nay, more, I will send an
escort with you to protect you until you are near the lines of your
friends."

Lawrence's lips trembled and his voice was husky as he answered,
"Captain, I don't know why you have granted me such clemency, but I am
thankful from the bottom of my heart. Be assured if the time ever comes
when I can return you the same mercy you have shown me it will be done."

"We are at quits now," said Lamar. "You saved my life once."

"I?" cried Lawrence. "I never remember having seen you before."

"You have. About a year ago I belonged to a body of partisans commanded
by Captain Proctor. A fellow by name of Semans peached on us. We paid
him off by burning his buildings and shooting him. Just as we finished
the job a body of cavalry charged down and drove us off. I was left on
the field desperately wounded. Some of the men were about to shoot me as
I lay there helpless, but the captain of the cavalry, a mere boy, sprang
in, with his sword, beat down the guns, and swore that no wounded man,
no matter what he had done, should be ruthlessly murdered while he was
commanding that company. Captain, you are that boy; I am that wounded
man."

"Ah, I remember," murmured Lawrence.

"That is not all," continued Lamar. "You tenderly cared for me, had me
taken to a near-by house, where I stayed until I recovered. Captain, no
thanks. As I have said, we are quits now. If we meet again it will be on
even terms. One promise you must make me. You must not lead the Federals
to this place for the next twenty-four hours. After that I do not care."

"The promise is freely given," answered Lawrence.

The two men, so strangely met, shook hands, and Lawrence mounted his
horse and, accompanied by two of the guerrillas, rode away.

On the way they met several rough-looking men who looked at Lawrence
with malevolent eyes, but a few whispered words from his guards and they
were allowed to pass on. Lawrence now saw why Captain Lamar had sent a
guard with him.

After they had traveled several miles Lawrence saw a line of blue
galloping towards him.

"Go, I will see you are not followed," he said to his guards. They
raised their hands in salute, turned, and putting spurs to their horses,
were soon out of sight.

In a moment more Lawrence was in the arms of Dan Sherman, who was
hugging him, laughing and crying at the same time.

"I'll never leave you again," he cried.

"It is fortunate that you did," replied Lawrence, "for if you had been
with me there would be no Dan Sherman now."

The officer in command of the company now bustled up. "Did I not see two
men with you, Captain?" he asked. "They looked to me very much like
guerrillas."

"They were friends," answered Lawrence. "Neither can I guide you to the
haunts of those who held me prisoner. Tomorrow you are at liberty to
find them if you can. Turn back with me to Platte City and I will tell
you my story."

When they heard the story they marvelled and swore they had never heard
of any gratitude in a guerrilla's heart before.[8]

[Footnote 8: Several months after this Lamar was captured, not by
Lawrence, but by an officer who knew the story. He was paroled and lived
to become a good citizen after the war.]



CHAPTER X

THE GUERRILLA'S BRIDE


"How did you come to be with the soldiers I met?" asked Lawrence of Dan.
The two were now in Leavenworth, waiting for a boat to take them down
the river.

"It was this way," answered Dan. "When those rascally cavalrymen
deserted you and rode back to Platte City, word was sent post-haste
here, asking for a company to go to the aid of Captain Leeper, and help
chastise the band which had murdered you, and, if possible, to procure
your body. I was nearly wild when I heard you had been killed, and
nothing could have prevented me from accompanying the company sent to
Captain Leeper. I tell you, charges ought to be preferred against those
four men who so basely deserted you. They should be court-martialed for
cowardice and shot."

"Not so fast, Dan," replied Lawrence. "Those men heard the shots, looked
back and saw, as they supposed, the Corporal and myself both killed.
They did not know how many guerrillas were in the brush, and they did
the best and about the only thing they could do--get to Platte City as
soon as possible, and give the alarm."

"They should have known there were but two from the report of the guns,"
grumbled Dan. "I tell you it was a cowardly trick. Do you think I would
have left you, if I had been one of the four?"

"No, Dan," said Lawrence, laying his hand on his shoulder,
affectionately. "You would have charged back there if there had been
fifty guerrillas, instead of two; but all men are not dear old Dan."

There was a suspicious moisture in Dan's eyes, but he only said: "Pshaw!
Any fellow with any grit would have done it."

A boat coming along, they took passage for Lexington, the boat making
quite a long stop at Kansas City. They found that all fear that the
enemy might be able to capture the towns along the Missouri had
subsided. Everywhere the guerrillas had been beaten, and they were
fleeing south by the hundreds to hide in the Ozarks or among the
mountains of northern Arkansas. Still, numerous small bands remained in
hiding. Within a radius of a hundred miles, taking Lexington as a
center, then were a score of these bands operating, but there were two
of them which were especially daring and troublesome.

One of these bands was led by the notorious Quantrell, and the other by
Jerry Alcorn, known as Red Jerry.

Jerry, the year before, had fled from St. Louis, being detected in a
plot to assassinate Lawrence Middleton and Guilford Craig. He had joined
Price's army, but soon deserted to become leader of a band of
guerrillas. Lawrence, with his scouts, had met this band the year
before, and given it a crushing defeat. As has also been seen, it was
Jerry and his men that chased Lawrence and Dan as they were going in
search of Colonel Warner at Lone Jack.

When Lawrence reached Lexington, he received dispatches from General
Schofield, saying he would not be able to go to Springfield to take
command of the army quite as soon as he had expected, and that Lawrence
should report to him at St. Louis; but before he reported he was to see
that all the guerrilla bands around Lexington were dispersed.

Lawrence found that a force was being organized in Lexington to try to
surprise and capture Red Jerry and his entire band. He determined to
accompany it. But when he found the officer who was to command the
expedition was a Colonel Jennison, he hesitated. He had but little use
for that officer. He commanded one of those regiments known as
jay-hawkers. The men composing the regiment were fighters, but in their
tactics differed little from the guerrillas. With them it was "an eye
for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."

Lawrence talked it over with Dan, and they were so anxious that Red
Jerry be brought to justice for his many crimes that he decided to
overcome his repugnance to the Colonel, and go, taking the place of the
Major of the regiment, who was sick.

Jerry was reported as hanging around the plantation of a Mr. Floyd
Templeton, a very respected old gentleman, but a bitter Southern
partisan. Mr. Templeton had two children--a son who was with Price, and
a daughter who oversaw the household, the mother being dead.

This daughter, Agnes by name, was at this time about twenty, and was a
strikingly beautiful girl. Her lustrous hair, dark as midnight, crowned
a well-shaped head, which she carried as proudly as a queen. Her dark
eyes, lovely in repose, could with a languishing glance cause the heart
of the most prosaic of men to beat more rapidly; but in their depth was
a hidden fire which would blaze forth when aroused, and show the
tempestuous soul which dwelt within. She was above medium height, and
her body was as lithe and supple as a panther's.

In vain had her hand been sought by the beaux for twenty miles around.
When the war came, she told them no one need woo her until her beloved
Missouri was free of the Yankee foe, and he who did win her must be a
soldier, brave and true.

Some months before, Jerry's gang had been attacked and scattered, and
Jerry, his horse being killed, fled on foot. In his flight he came to
the Templeton house, his pursuers close behind.

He implored Agnes to save him, and this she did by secreting him in a
hidden closet behind the huge chimney. To the Federal soldiers in
pursuit she swore the guerrilla chieftain had passed by without
stopping. A careful search of the house revealing nothing, the soldiers
were forced to believe she told the truth.

Jerry was not only grateful to his fair preserver, but fell violently in
love with her. The rough guerrilla soldier was not the soldier of the
dreams of the proud, aristocratic girl. Concealing her repugnance to his
advances, she gently but firmly refused him, telling him her duty was to
her aged father. Jerry was so persistent in his advances that she
finally told him he must never speak of the subject again, or he would
be refused the house.

More than once did Jerry conceive the scheme of carrying her off by
force and marrying her against her will; but he became aware that the
girl possessed as fierce a spirit as his own, and if need were she would
not hesitate to plunge a dagger in his heart.

With the fires of unrequited love burning in his heart, he had to cease
his advances; but, like the silly moths that flutter around a candle, he
made every excuse to call at the Templeton residence. The girl warned
him by saying that by his course he was bringing not only danger on
himself, but on her father as well.

Jerry knew this, and the dastardly thought came to him that if the
Federals did make way with her father, Agnes, in her loneliness, might
come to him. It was a thought worthy of his black nature, but that he
madly loved the girl, there was no doubt.

The expedition against Jerry was well planned, but he got wind of it,
and scattered his force.

In a running fight that took place, Jerry captured two of Jennison's
men. These he calmly proceeded to hang, almost in sight of Templeton's
door, for the purpose of bringing down the wrath of Jennison on
Templeton's head. Only too well did the damnable plot succeed.

Jennison was beside himself with rage, and after pursuing Jerry until
all hopes of catching him had ended, he returned to the Templeton place,
and, calling the old man to the door, he denounced him in the most
violent terms, calling him a sneaking rebel, who made his house a
rendezvous for murderers.

Mr. Templeton drew himself up proudly. "I may be what you call a rebel,"
he exclaimed, "but I am not a sneaking one. My heart and soul are with
the South in her struggle for liberty, and every one knows it. As for
the men you call guerrillas, I can no more help their coming here than I
can help your coming."

"You lie, you old scoundrel!" shouted Jennison. "You invite them to
come, and aid them in their nefarious work. The murderers you have been
harboring hanged two of my men yesterday, almost at your very door, and
no doubt you looked on and approved."

"I did no such thing," answered Mr. Templeton. "I did not know of the
deed until it was done; then I told Alcorn never again to set foot on my
premises."

"More lies, you canting old hypocrite. Do you know what I am going to do
with you?" shouted Jennison.

"I am in your power; you can do anything you wish," answered Mr.
Templeton, with dignity.

"I am going to shoot you, and burn your house," yelled Jennison.

"You will never harbor any more guerrillas."

At these words, Agnes sprang before her father, with a scream. "If you
shoot any one, shoot me--not him," she said. "If there has been any
harboring, it is I who am to blame. I have harbored those fighting to
rid our State of such as you, and I glory in it. Shoot me--not him."

Lawrence and Dan just now rode up and gazed in astonishment at the
scene. The girl stood in front of her father, her arms outspread, her
bosom heaving with excitement, her eyes blazing, inviting the deadly
volley.

Her tragic attitude, her wondrous beauty, awed the men, and they lowered
the guns that had been raised to slay the father.

"Drag her away, and shoot!" commanded Jennison, with an oath.

"Hold!" cried Lawrence. "Colonel Jennison, do you realize what you are
doing? What does this mean?"

"It means I'm going to shoot this old villain and burn the house. It
means I am going to put an end to this harboring of guerrillas, if I
have to burn every house in this accursed State," thundered Jennison.
"Now drag the girl away."

"The first man that touches that girl dies!" cried Lawrence, drawing his
revolver.

"I'm with you," said Dan, drawing his revolver, and taking his place by
Lawrence's side.

For a moment Colonel Jennison was too astonished to speak; then his face
turned livid with passion. "Young man," he hissed, "do you know what you
are doing? By a word I can have you both shot--shot for mutiny--and, by
God! I ought to say the word."

"But, Colonel, what you are going to do is an outrage," cried Lawrence,
"a damnable outrage--one that will bring black disgrace on our arms. It
is an act that General Schofield will never countenance, and in his name
I ask you to countermand the order."

"Which I will not do!" exclaimed Jennison, white with rage. "I have been
trammelled enough with orders from headquarters. I propose to deal with
these red-handed assassins as I please. We, along the border, propose to
protect ourselves. Captain Middleton, you and your companion are under
arrest for insubordination. Lieutenant Cleveland, take their swords, and
with a detail of six men escort them back to Lexington. When I return I
will make a formal charge against them."

There was no use in resisting. The majority of Jennison's regiment was
composed of men from Kansas who had suffered from the raids of the
Border Ruffians before the war, or had been driven from their homes in
Missouri, and heartily sympathized with the Colonel in his warfare of
retaliation.

Lawrence also knew he had committed a grave offence when, in his
indignation, he tried to prevent the execution of Templeton by force. So
he quietly submitted to arrest; but as he rode away there came to his
ears the shrieks of the girl, then the sharp crack of three or four
carbines. Lawrence shuddered and, looking back, he saw great columns of
smoke rolling up, and through the blackness red tongues of leaping
flame.

After the volley killing her father had been fired, the girl uttered one
more shriek, and then stood with dry eyes, gazing as if in a trance;
then with a low moan she threw herself on the still body, enfolding it
with her arms as if she would shield it from the profane gaze of those
around it. She lay as if dead; and so they left her.

Hours afterward, Red Jerry came creeping up from his hiding place, and
found her. At first he thought her dead, but at his touch and the sound
of his voice she aroused and stood up--but a changed being--changed from
a woman into a demon.

She spoke a few words to Jerry, but in so low a tone his few followers
who had gathered round could not hear. Jerry gently led her away from
the rest; but the men noticed she walked as one seeing not.

They stopped under a tree not far away.

"Jerry," she said, in a tone devoid of the least sign of feeling, "you
have often told me you loved me, and wanted me to become your wife. I
have as often refused. I am now ready to marry you, if you make me one
promise."

Red Jerry's heart gave a great bound. He had won. The peerless Agnes
Templeton was to become his wife--he, a guerrilla chieftain.

"Anything you ask," he cried, rapturously, and attempted to take her in
his arms.

"Do not touch me," she said, in the same passionless tones. "You must
not touch me until you have promised, and not then until the words are
spoken which give you a right."

"What is it you want me to promise, Agnes? You know anything in my power
will be granted," Jerry replied, his voice showing the depth of his
passion.

"That you will let me dress as a man and ride by your side; that you
will never order me away, however great the danger; that where you are,
I may always be."

"For you to ride at my side would be bliss," said Jerry; "but, oh!
Agnes, to lead you into danger--how can I do it?"

"It must be as I say, or I can never be your wife," was her answer.

Jerry promised, and side by side they rode away to the home of a
minister. It was near midnight when they reached it, and there, amid the
clashing of the elements--for a fearful storm had arisen--the words were
spoken that made Agnes Templeton the bride of Jerry Alcorn, the
guerrilla.

Sacrificing everything feminine, except her luxuriant hair, which she
coiled tightly on top of her head and concealed under a wide sombrero,
she rode by the side of her husband throughout his career. No Federal
thought the smooth-faced, handsome young man who was always with Jerry
was a woman.

The band became known as one of the most cruel and merciless in the
State. It revelled in deeds of bloodshed, and of all the band, the young
man with the angel face and the heart of a demon, who rode by Red Jerry,
was known as the most merciless.



CHAPTER XI

THE STORY OF CARL MEYER


"Of all outrages!" exclaimed Dan.

"That girl! Wasn't she splendid?" answered Lawrence. "She made me think
of some great tragic queen. What a scene for the stage!--and we saw it
in reality."

"Wasn't thinking of the girl," sputtered Dan. "I was thinking of the
outrage of sending us back under arrest."

"He had a right to, Dan. We could be court-martialed and shot."

"What! For interfering with the hellish work of that murderer? He is as
bad as a guerrilla," angrily responded Dan.

"For drawing a weapon and interfering with his orders," replied
Lawrence. "Good God! I could almost afford to be shot for the pleasure
of putting a bullet through the black heart of Jennison. That girl--I
wonder what will become of her!"

"Girl again!" growled Dan. "And don't blame Jennison too much. He had
great provocation. No doubt that old scoundrel had been shielding
Jerry."

But Lawrence did not answer. He knew Dan's aversion to girls, and little
was said as they rode on, mile after mile. Both Lawrence and Dan
bitterly felt the disgrace of reporting back to Lexington under arrest.

Lawrence knew that the case would have to go to Schofield. If there was
any court-martial, Schofield would have to order it, and Lawrence felt
that the General would deal leniently with him.

But the case never went to Schofield. On his return from his raid,
Colonel Jennison released Lawrence from arrest, saying he did so on
account of his youth, and that no doubt he acted as he did from sudden
impulse, owing to the distress and beauty of the girl. Neither did he
think Lawrence understood the situation. Harsh means had to be used to
prevent the guerrillas from murdering Union men.

The fact was, Colonel Jennison did not wish the case to be investigated.
He, Lane, and others had been reprimanded so often by the Federal
authorities that more than once they had threatened to turn guerrillas
and wage warfare on their own account.

Soon after this affair, Lawrence was ordered to report at St. Louis.

"Now I suppose I can leave and join General Blair," said Lawrence, after
he had given General Schofield a full report of what had happened.

"I trust you will stay with me a while yet," answered the General. "As I
wrote you, I am about to take the field in person. We will have but
little rest until Hindman, who is gathering a large force in northern
Arkansas, is thoroughly whipped. There will be stirring times for the
next two months. Blair is not needing you yet. Grant's army is very
quiet--hasn't done much since Corinth fell and Memphis was taken. They
are making slow progress along the Mississippi now."

Lawrence agreed to stay in Missouri a while longer. He was granted a two
weeks' furlough, and then he was to report at Springfield.

The first use Lawrence made of his furlough was to visit his uncle, and
he found that personage greatly elated over the prospects of the South.
"I tell you, Lawrence," he exclaimed, "the independence of the South is
already as good as secured. Why, just consider: McClellan whipped on the
Peninsula, his army barely escaping; Pope completely crushed, his army
almost annihilated, the remnant seeking refuge in the fortifications
around Washington. Lee's army is sweeping victoriously through Maryland;
Harper's Ferry taken with ten thousand prisoners. It will only be a
matter of a few days until Washington is taken.

"Bragg is thundering at the very gates of Louisville. The whole of
Tennessee and Kentucky will soon be redeemed. Buell's army will be
driven across the Ohio. Grant has not gained a foot since the capture of
Corinth. He has not, and never will, get past Vicksburg, I tell you,
Lawrence, it's all over. The South has won."

"I admit, uncle," replied Lawrence, "that this has been a bad year for
us. But the war isn't over. The worst is yet to come. In the end the
South will be crushed."

"It cannot be! It cannot be!" cried his uncle, excitedly.

"Uncle, don't let us discuss the war," said Lawrence. "How long since
you heard from Edward? I am anxious to hear all the news."

"He was well the last time I heard from him," said Mr. Middleton, "but I
do not hear very often. It is harder to get letters through than it was;
but, thank God! those we do get don't come through the hands of that
traitor, Guilford Craig. You have heard no news of him, have you?"

"No; but it is curious his body was never found. There is little doubt
but that he fell at Pea Ridge, and that at the hands of his
step-brother."

"Served him right," growled Mr. Middleton.

"And Randolph Hamilton--what of him?" asked Lawrence.

"Randolph is also well, Edward writes."

"I am glad to hear that," answered Lawrence. "Randolph is a noble
fellow. Lola Laselle did a fine thing when she saved him. How is Mrs.
Hamilton now?"

"Mrs. Hamilton and Dorothy have gone to Europe," answered Mr. Middleton.
"Mr. Hamilton thought it best to take her away from the excitement of
the war."

"So Dorothy is gone," said Lawrence, "Well, she won't have to hold aside
her skirts for fear of contamination, if I happen to pass her on the
sidewalk."

"I thought you and Dorothy were great friends--kind of childish
sweethearts," replied his uncle.

"That was before I turned Yankee," laughed Lawrence.

"Ah, my boy, Dorothy is not the only one who has been disappointed in
you," sighed his uncle.

While Lawrence and Mr. Middleton were talking, a newsboy came running
down the street, yelling: "Extra! Extra! Terrible battle in Maryland.
McClellan whips Lee. Fifty thousand men killed."

Mr. Middleton rushed out and purchased a paper. It told of the great
battle at Antietam. He turned pale as he read, and his hands trembled so
he could scarcely hold the paper. Lawrence heard him murmur, "Thank God!
Edward was not in it."

Lawrence had no thought of exulting over the news in his uncle's
presence; instead, he told him that the first reports of a battle were
always exaggerated; but at the same time his heart was singing for joy.
Afterward, when the news came that Lee had succeeded in getting his army
safely across the Potomac, Mr. Middleton's hopes revived. It was a drawn
battle, after all.

There was one in St. Louis that Lawrence could not fail to visit, and
that was Lola Laselle, the girl who had taken his part on the steamboat,
when a forlorn, dirty, homeless boy, and who had chosen him for her
knight-errant when he went into the army.

Of all the young people Lawrence had associated with before the war,
Lola was one of the few who had remained faithful to the old flag, and
by so doing had been mercilessly cut by her young companions. But one
day Lola hid Randolph Hamilton to keep him from being arrested as a spy,
and this somewhat restored her to favor, especially with the Randolph
family.

No sooner did Lola see Lawrence than she ran toward him with
outstretched hands, crying, "Lawrence, Lawrence, is this indeed you? How
glad I am to see you! And how you have grown! Why, you are a man!"

"And I am afraid I have lost my little girl," said Lawrence, as he took
her hand, and gallantly raised it to his lips. "You have grown to almost
a young lady."

"I don't know whether I like it or not," said Lola. "I sometimes think I
had rather remain a little girl."

"I believe I am of your opinion," replied Lawrence, looking at her
admiringly.

"Why, am I growing homely?" pouted Lola.

"That's not it. If you were still a little girl, I--I might have been
permitted to kiss your cheek, instead of just your hand. Remember----"

"Stop! You mean thing!" commanded Lola, blushing furiously.

Lawrence gazed on her with admiration. She was certainly budding into a
most beautiful girl.

"Lola, you are splendid!" he cried, "I wouldn't have you a little girl
again. You are far ahead of any girl I know."

"How about Dorothy Hamilton?" she asked, mockingly.

"Dorothy Hamilton be hanged! How did you and she part?"

"Good friends. She and I correspond. After I saved Randolph, she could
not do enough for me."

"Then she has some heart. I am glad to hear it," answered Lawrence,
bitterly. "When I saved her from being crushed beneath the horse's feet,
she rewarded me by calling me a miserable Yankee."

"Maybe she will be good to you some time," said Lola. "Remember how she
used to cut me."

"I reckon I do," said Lawrence, "and it used to make me tearing mad.
Lola, of all the girls I used to associate with, you are the only one
who does not pass me with looks of contempt; but your friendship and
sympathy are worth all I have lost--yes, a thousand times more."

"Don't magnify my importance; but I shall always be your friend,
Lawrence," she said, simply.

They then fell to talking of other things, and Lawrence had to tell her
of all his experiences. When he told her of his capture by the
guerrillas, and how he had been ordered to be put to death, she
shuddered and turned so pale he thought she was going to faint.

"Stop! Stop!" she gasped. "It was awful--awful! I cannot bear it."

"Wait and let me tell you how I escaped death," said Lawrence.

When he had finished, her eyes, though bedewed with tears, were shining
with joy and pride.

"Lawrence," she cried, "I am prouder of you than ever. You were shown
mercy, because you were merciful; and I would have my knight-errant as
merciful as he is brave."

"How can he be otherwise, when she whose colors he wears is so kind and
merciful?" gallantly replied Lawrence, and, taking her little hand in
his, he raised it and pressed his lips against her trembling fingers.

"A true knight can always kiss the hand of the lady he serves," said
Lawrence. He then bade her good-bye, with the promise of coming again
before he went to the front.

Is it strange that, as he went on his way, his thoughts were all of the
beautiful girl he had just left? But, all unbidden, there arose before
him a mental vision of the face of another girl--a girl whose queenly
head was crowned with a wealth of golden hair, but whose eyes flashed
with scorn at the sight of him--whose very soul loathed the uniform he
wore; and he sighed, he hardly knew why.

Suddenly the thoughts of all girls were driven from his mind, for in the
crowd before him he saw a well-known face--the face of Carl Meyer. Carl
was a German boy, about a year older than Lawrence. It was he who had
induced Lawrence to join the Home Guards, and thus paved the way to his
acquaintance with Frank Blair. They had not met since the battle of
Wilson Creek, when Carl went back with a broken arm.

In a moment the two clasped hands, their eyes telling what their lips
refused to utter. At length Lawrence found voice. "My! how you have
grown!" he exclaimed; "and this,"--he touched the strap of a second
lieutenant on his shoulder--"Oh, Carl, I am so glad."

"And you," replied Carl, the joy gleaming in his honest eyes; "I see
it's Captain now."

"Come with me, Carl. I must hear all that has happened to you since the
last time we met."

In the privacy of Lawrence's room, Carl told his story--a story that
Lawrence listened to breathless attention.

"The wound which I received at Wilson Creek was a bad one," said Carl,
"and at first it was thought I would have to lose my arm; but I have it
yet, and a pretty good arm it is. After I had recovered, which was early
in January of this year, I was with the army which operated against New
Madrid and Island Number 10. Lawrence, you should have been with me. It
was glorious. The river fight--the mighty siege-guns--the great mortars
which hurled shells weighing hundreds of pounds. It was as if all the
thunders of heaven had gathered in one place to smite the earth.

"Then think of digging a canal twelve miles long, six miles of it
through heavy timber. Great trees were sawed off beneath the water, to
make a road for the transports."

"How could you do it? How could you do it?" broke in Lawrence.

"By standing on rafts or in boats and using saws with very long handles.
It was a giant's task, but at last it was completed. Not only this, but,
amid snow and chilling rains, bayous were waded, swamps considered
impassable struggled through; and at last New Madrid and Island Number
10 fell.

"The fruits of these victories were glorious: nearly two hundred cannon,
great and small; seven thousand prisoners, as many small arms, great
stores of the munitions of war, and several transports sunk. All of this
with a loss of only fifty."

"It was glorious, Carl," cried Lawrence. "No wonder you feel proud of
being one of an army that dared so much, and accomplished so much."

"Wait until you hear the rest," replied Carl. "After Island Number 10
fell, most of the army was sent to reinforce Halleck before Corinth; but
my command was left. We soon had possession of the Mississippi nearly to
Memphis; but rumors came of the Confederates building an immense fleet
of gunboats and ironclad rams.

"Our gunboats moved down and attacked, but were repulsed and driven
back. Colonel Charles Ellet had been given authority to build some rams.
He hastily constructed some out of old river steamboats, converting them
into engines of destruction. With these wooden rams, without cannon, and
without an armed crew, Colonel Ellet proposed to attack and destroy the
whole fleet.

"Eleven sharpshooters had been chosen and placed on the _Monarch_. I was
fortunate enough to be one of the eleven. We were the only armed men
aboard the ram. The _Monarch_ was commanded by Colonel Alfred Ellet, a
brother of Charles. Charles was aboard the ram, _Queen of the West_.

"It was dusk when we came to our fleet of gunboats anchored across the
Mississippi. Below them, a little above Memphis, lay the Rebel fleet,
anchored in a line across the river. There the two fleets lay like two
great beasts ready to spring on each other.

"Colonel Ellet anchored and waited for the morning. Hardly was it light
when there came the boom of a great gun. It was a beautiful morning, and
as the thunder of the gun reverberated over the water, thousands of the
people of Memphis rushed to the bluffs to witness the battle and, with
waving flags and shouts of encouragement, cheer their men on to victory.

"On, in imposing line, comes the Rebel fleet, the smokestacks of their
vessels belching forth great clouds of smoke, and their guns thundering
as they come. Now the guns of our fleet answer their thunder, and the
bluffs on which the people are gathered shake and tremble with the
concussion. A black wall of smoke settles down and hides our fleet from
view; only through the blackness can be seen the flashes of the great
guns.

"Hardly had the battle opened when Colonel Ellet signalled for his fleet
of rams to get under way. The _Queen of the West_ and the _Monarch_ got
off first, and straight for the wall of blackness, lit by the fitful
flashes, we steered. We entered that wall, and everything was blotted
from view--only around and about us was the roar of the great guns, the
bursting of shells.

"Suddenly, as if emerging from the mouth of a tunnel, we burst from the
cloud of smoke, and before us at full speed was coming the Rebel fleet,
nearly a dozen gunboats and ironclads, against two wooden, unarmed rams.

"Colonel Ellet never swerved; ahead at full speed he drove the _Queen of
the West_ for the _General Lovell_. We could see the tall figure of
Colonel Ellet standing on the hurricane-deck of the _Queen_. With his
hat he signalled his brother to steer for the _General Price_, and on
the two rams rushed, the _Queen_ slightly ahead.

"The _General Lovell_ drew out from their line and steered straight for
the _Queen_. Like two great monsters, the boats rushed at each other. We
forgot to cheer; we heeded not the thunder of battle; we could only look
at these two vessels rushing to what seemed certain destruction.

"Even the excited cheering of the crowd on the bluffs grew silent. With
tense nerves and white faces, they watched the two vessels. Coming as
they were, it meant the destruction of both. Would not one swerve to
avoid the coming blow? Still standing on the deck of his vessel, his eye
fixed on his prey, Ellet drove the _Queen_ forward--not a hair's breadth
would he swerve.

"Just before the shock came, the _General Lovell_ swerved to try to
avoid the coming blow--but too late. Full amidships the _Queen_ struck
her, cutting her through like a great knife, and the vessel sank beneath
the turbid waters of the river, all the crew not killed struggling in
the water.

"From the thousands on shore there came a mighty groan--a wail of agony
which seemed to throb and quiver through the air, making itself felt
even above the roar of the battle.

"Now was our turn. The _Monarch_ struck the _General Price_ a glancing
blow, not sinking her, but shaving off her starboard wheel; and she was
out of the fight.

"Before the _Queen_ could be disentangled from the wreck of the _General
Lovell_, the _Beauregard_ and _Van Dorn_ both attacked her. Colonel
Ellet fell with a ball through the knee; but as he lay on the deck, he
continued to direct the fight.[9]

[Footnote 9: Colonel Ellet died of his wounds.]

"The _Monarch_ saw the danger which threatened the _Queen of the West_,
and straight for the _Beauregard_ she went, crashing into that vessel's
side, and putting her out of the conflict.

"The Confederate fleet thought only of escape now. The battle drifted
down the river, past the city. The gunboats joined in the chase, and but
one Confederate vessel escaped. Those that had not been sunk or disabled
were run on the shore on the Arkansas side and set on fire by their
crews, before escaping into the swamp."

"Carl," cried Lawrence, "I would have given ten years of my life to have
seen that battle, and, like you, to have been a part of it."

"Very little part I had," replied Carl, modestly, "except to fire a few
shots when we were at close quarters. But after the fight--ach!
Lawrence, that is something worth telling."

"What was it, Carl?"

"Toward the close of the fight, a white flag was run up in the city of
Memphis. Colonel Ellet sent his son, a medical cadet, no older than
yourself, Lawrence, to demand the surrender of the city. He chose three
men, of whom I was one, to accompany him.

"We rowed ashore in a small boat, and landed in the midst of a howling,
excited mob of thousands.

"Young Ellet handed the message which his father had written to the
Mayor, and then we started for the postoffice. The mob closed in around
us--four men in the midst of thousands. They cursed, they howled; they
heaped upon us the most violent names; they threatened to tear us to
pieces.

"We reached the postoffice, ascended to the top of the building, and
began to lower the Confederate flag. A frenzy seized the crowd. They
surged to and fro; they howled and gnashed their teeth like beasts of
prey. Some drew revolvers and began shooting at us.

"'Don't fire back,' said young Ellet, coolly. 'They can not hit us this
high.'

"The Stars and Bars came down, and the glorious Stars and Stripes arose,
and as its folds unfurled to the breeze we swung our hats and gave a
rousing cheer; but I do not think we were heard above the roar of the
mob.

"Leaving the flag waving, we descended, and once more the mob surrounded
us, snarling, cursing and howling; but a great fear kept them from
tearing us to pieces.

"We walked through their midst as coolly as if we were being showered
with bouquets instead of curses, and reached our boat in safety."

"It was a brave thing to do, Carl. I wouldn't have missed hearing your
story for anything," said Lawrence, as he warmly shook his hand at
parting.

The next day Lawrence went to bid his uncle and aunt good-bye, before
starting for the front. As they talked, they were again interrupted by a
newsboy crying, "Extra! Extra! All about the great battle at Corinth!
Generals Price and Van Dorn whipped! The Missouri brigade annihilated!"

"What's that?" exclaimed Mr. Middleton, turning pale.

Lawrence secured a paper and gave it to him. He glanced at it and
groaned. It told how Van Dorn and Price had been disastrously defeated
before Corinth; how the Confederate Missouri brigade had charged up to
the very mouth of the cannon of Fort Robinette, and that but few of them
were left alive.

"We must hope for the best," said Lawrence, as he looked at the stricken
faces of his uncle and aunt; but he could say no more.

Mr. Middleton, with shaking limbs and halting footsteps, assisted his
wife to her room.

In St. Louis that night many sat weeping, yet hoping that their loved
ones were safe; for St. Louis had many a son in that battle, both on the
Federal side and the Confederate.



CHAPTER XII

THE NEWS FROM CORINTH


All the Missourians who had enlisted in the Confederate service had been
transferred to the east of the Mississippi River, and with them their
beloved General, Sterling Price.

It was a bitter blow to them, for they had to leave their State overrun
with Federals, and at the mercy of what they considered an inhuman foe.

The first months of their service in Mississippi had been tame. The
great Federal army which had laid siege to Corinth had been divided, the
Army of the Cumberland going east under Buell, and the Army of the
Tennessee, under General Grant, remaining in northern Mississippi and
western Tennessee. For three months there had been only desultory
fighting, no great battles.

At the Confederate camp at Baldyn, Mississippi, a group of officers of
the Missouri regiments were gathered in a tent, discussing the
situation. In the group was Edward Middleton, the son of Alfred
Middleton; Randolph Hamilton, brother of Dorothy; and last, but not
least, Benton Shelley, a step-brother of Guilford Craig.

Edward Middleton had become major of his regiment. He was everywhere
regarded as among the bravest and most reliable officers in Price's
army. He was a bitter partisan, had the utmost contempt for everything
Northern, but withal a noble and chivalric gentleman. He could never
forgive Lawrence, whom he had regarded as a brother, for going into the
Yankee army; yet after Lawrence had saved his life at the battle of
Wilson Creek, and in so doing nearly lost his own, Edward had had a
kinder feeling for him.

Randolph Hamilton was but little older than Lawrence. He was of a
generous nature, fought for the South because he believed the South
right, and not from any hatred toward the North. Before the war, he and
Lawrence were the closest of friends, and now, although they were
fighting on different sides, neither allowed that to interfere with
their friendship. Randolph was now captain of his company, and idolized
by his men.

Benton Shelley was of a different nature. Brave he was, but he had a
haughty and cruel disposition, and believed himself to be made of finer
clay than the soldiers under him. For this reason he was tyrannical, and
was hated by his men as much as Randolph was loved. As for the Yankees,
there were no terms too contemptuous for him to apply to them. Toward
Lawrence he held undying hatred, and tried in every way to encompass his
death. Toward his step-brother, Guilford Craig, he held the same hatred.
He frequently boasted how, at the battle of Pea Ridge, he had slain his
step-brother, and he always added: "And I'll get that Lawrence Middleton
yet. See if I don't. I nearly got him at Wilson Creek, and will not fail
the next time."

"It seems you did meet him again, Bent," said Randolph, with a sly
twinkle in his eye; "but, like the fellow who caught the Tartar, the
Tartar had him--not he the Tartar."

Benton turned white with rage. "Look here, Captain Hamilton," he
exclaimed, furiously, "don't presume on our friendship too much, or I
shall demand the satisfaction of a gentleman. You have already thrown
that up to me several times. I have told you my horse was shot, and I
was lying helpless on the ground, when that cowardly traitor attacked
me, and would have murdered me if he had not been stopped by an officer
more humane than he."

Major Middleton turned like a flash; his face was set and grim. "Captain
Shelley," he said, in a low, even tone, but terrible in its earnestness,
"I have no love for my cousin, as you well know; but he is no coward. He
is a Middleton. As for his killing you in cold blood, that thought comes
from your excitement of the moment and your chagrin at your overthrow.
From your own account, he had every opportunity of killing you, if he
had so wished."

"I thought I was among friends," said Benton, "but I see I am not, and
will go."

"Hold on, gentlemen," commanded General Green, who was present; "I
cannot have this--my best and bravest officers quarrelling, and
threatening to shoot each other. You, Captain Hamilton, are to blame for
taunting Captain Shelley for an unfortunate situation in which any of
you may be placed some time. And you, Captain Shelley, are to blame for
trying to mitigate your misfortune by charging your opponent with
cowardice and cruelty. There is not a drop of coward's blood in a
Middleton's body. There stands a noble example," and he pointed to
Edward.

"I can also understand," he continued, "why Captain Shelley feels so
bitter against Lawrence Middleton. He believes him to have been
instrumental in leading his step-brother astray, and thus bringing a
damning disgrace on his family."

"That's it!" cried Benton, eager to set himself right. "I can never
forget, never forgive, the disgrace."

"That being the case," continued the General, "I trust that Captain
Hamilton, even in jest, will never allude to the subject again, and that
all of you will be as good friends as ever, eager only to sheathe your
swords in the bosom of our enemy. That reminds me that I dropped in to
tell you the season of inactivity is over."

"What!" they all cried, everything else forgotten. "Are we to fight at
last?"

"It looks like it," answered Green. "You know Bragg is sweeping
everything before him in Kentucky--will be in Louisville before a week.
The point is to keep Grant from rushing any of his troops to aid Buell.
The Yankee troops here must be held. The orders are to make it lively
for Rosecrans. We are to move on Iuka tomorrow."

Then from those officers went up a cheer. They were to meet the foes of
their country; no thought of the danger before them; no thought that
before many hours some of them might be lying in bloody graves.

"Here's for old Kentucky!" cried one. "We are going to reinforce Bragg."

"Better say we are going to thrash Rosecrans at Corinth," chimed in
another.

That night Price with his army marched straight for Iuka, some fifteen
or twenty miles east of Corinth. The place was only held by a small
detachment, which beat a hasty retreat, leaving a large quantity of
military stores to the jubilant Confederates.

From Iuka Price could cross over into Tennessee, and pursue his way
northward to join Bragg, or turn on Rosecrans at Corinth.

It was decided for him: Rosecrans no sooner learned that Price had
captured Iuka than he set forth from Corinth to attack him.

Portions of the two armies met two miles from Iuka, a bloody battle was
fought, the Federals being driven back a short distance, and losing a
battery.

During the night Price beat a hasty retreat, leaving the battery he had
taken, all his dead unburied, and many of his sick and wounded.

The Missouri brigade was not up in time to take part in this battle, and
when they learned a retreat had been ordered, both officers and men were
furious.

"I feel like breaking my sword!" exclaimed Major Middleton, and his jaws
came together with a snap.

"Why did General Price do it?" cried Randolph Hamilton, tears of
humiliation running down his face.

"You will know in time," replied Benton Shelley. He was on General
Price's staff, and was the officer who had brought the orders to
retreat.

The fact was, General Price knew if he did not retreat he would be
soundly whipped the next day. Then, General Price had just received a
communication from General Van Dorn that he was ready to join him, and,
with the combined armies, make an attack on Corinth.

The news that they were to attack Corinth fired the army with
enthusiasm, and eagerly did they go forward to what they thought was
certain victory. The Missouri regiments marched with song and cheer, as
if going to a festival. The time they had longed for had come; they were
to wipe out the disgrace of Pea Ridge; they would show the rest of the
army what Pop Price and his boys could do.

At noon on October third the battle opened, and now around the little
village of Corinth, where in the spring it was thought the great battle
of the war would be fought, was waged a most desperate conflict, lasting
for two days. The hills trembled, and the very heavens seemed shattered
with the thunder of artillery.

Thickets were swept as with a great jagged scythe by the leaden hail
which swept through them. Nothing could withstand the fierce rush of the
Confederate troops. The Federals were swept from their outer line of
intrenchments.

With yells of victory, the Confederates rushed on. Before them was the
second and stronger line of intrenchments. They were met with a storm of
shot and shell. The carnage was awful, and the charging columns halted,
staggered, and then began to reel back. Most of the officers of the
Missouri regiments had fallen, killed or wounded. Both the colonel and
lieutenant-colonel of the regiment to which Edward Middleton belonged
had fallen.

Major Middleton spurred his horse in front of his men, and, waving his
sword over his head, shouted: "Forward, men! Forward, for the honor of
Missouri! I will lead you!"

The reeling column straightened, grew firm, and with a shout sprang
forward.

Major Middleton's horse fell; but, sword in hand, he pressed forward,
followed by his men. Nothing could stay them, and soon their shouts of
victory were heard above the roar of the battle.

The line was taken, the Federals in full retreat for their last and
strongest line of works, which ran around the edge of the little
village.

Night had come, and the Confederates, flushed with victory, lay on the
ground they had so bravely won--to complete, in the morning, as they
supposed, the destruction of Rosecrans's army.

When morning came, the Confederates once more rushed to the conflict.
Again did Major Middleton lead his regiment. The color-bearer went down,
but the flag was seized by Randolph Hamilton, and held aloft. "Follow
the colors!" he shouted, as he sprang forward.

The Federals shrank from the advancing line of steel, and fled in
dismay.

As Randolph mounted the breastwork, a young Federal lieutenant, the last
to leave the works, levelled his revolver on him, but as he did so a
look of surprise came over his face, and he turned his weapon and shot a
soldier who had sprung on the works by Randolph's side.

Randolph did not return the shot. The young lieutenant was Leon Laselle,
the brother of Lola.

Everywhere along the front of Green's division the wild cheers of
victory were ringing. Not only had they swept the Federal breastworks,
but forty cannon had been captured. Oh, it was good! It was glorious!
But it was no time to stop and rejoice. The Yankees must be completely
crushed--Rosecrans's whole army captured; and into the village they
followed the fleeing but not demoralized Federals.

Into the houses, and behind every garden fence and hedge, the retreating
Federals gathered. Every house became a flaming fort, and into the
advancing ranks of the Confederates was poured a storm of balls, while
the loud-mouthed cannon swept away with an iron hail the front of the
advancing foe.

The Confederates wavered, halted; then there sprang forward a line of
blue-coated soldiers, and as a great wave bears on its crest everything
before it, so did this line of blue bear back the Confederates. In vain
did Edward Middleton struggle before it. He was as helpless as a log of
wood borne onward by the surging tide.

Randolph Hamilton once more seized the standard of the regiment. "Let us
die with it floating," he cried. As he cried, the hand of a Federal
lieutenant reached out to grasp the flag, and then both went down, and
Randolph Hamilton and Leon Laselle lay side by side, the blood stained
flag between them.

On rolled the wave of blue, catching and flinging back hundreds of the
fleeing Confederates.

The armies of Van Dorn and Price that had had no thought but victory,
that had fought so bravely and won so much, now fled from the field in
wild confusion, leaving behind them over a thousand of their dead,
hundreds of their wounded, and nearly three thousand prisoners. They had
fought as only brave men can fight--and lost.

Throughout the North the name of Rosecrans, before but little known, was
on every tongue.[10]

[Footnote 10: A few weeks after this battle Rosecrans was appointed
Commander of the Army of the Cumberland.]

It was the news of this battle that caused such excitement in St. Louis,
for in it hundreds of Missourians had met Missourians, and as we have
seen, the first news was that the Confederate regiments of Missouri had
been annihilated. Excitement was at fever heat, and anxious hearts
awaited authentic news. It came in a telegram from Leon Laselle,
reading: "Am seriously but not dangerously wounded. Randolph Hamilton
dangerously wounded, and captured. Edward Middleton safe."

Lawrence was at the Laselle home when the telegram came. Mr. Laselle was
sick at the time and unable to go to his son, if he had wished. When the
telegram was read Lola clasped her hands and cried, with tears streaming
down her face, "Leon wounded! I must go to him."

"I am afraid that is hardly possible," said Lawrence. "I will see what
can be done, but first let me take this telegram to my uncle and aunt.
It will take a great load from their minds."

When the telegram was read to Mr. and Mrs. Middleton, they both dropped
to their knees and thanked God their son was safe. Days afterwards, when
the news came of his bravery, and how he had been promoted to the
colonelcy of his regiment, they, in their pride, forgot the agony they
had suffered.

As for Lawrence, he hastened back to Mr. Laselle's.

"I must go to Leon," Lola cried. "There is no one else to go."

Lawrence showed her how impossible it was for her to go. "I will see
General Schofield," he said. "Perhaps I can manage to get permission to
go."

"Oh! do, do," cried Lola, and the whole family echoed her wish.

"There is Randolph," said Lawrence. "The telegram says he is dangerously
wounded."

"In my anxiety over Leon, I forgot Randolph," said Lola. "What a pity!
His mother and Dorothy both in Europe, and Mr. Hamilton somewhere east.
Why not--" she stopped, and added lamely, "I am so sorry for him."

"We are all sorry, Lola," replied Lawrence. "Randolph is a noble fellow,
and believes he is doing his duty both to his God and his country in
fighting as he does. You may rest assured I will do all I can for him."

Lawrence had no trouble in getting the requisite authority from General
Schofield to visit his friend. "I shall not be ready to take the field
yet for some days," said the General. "So take your time."

Lawrence went from St. Louis to Memphis by steamboat and from Memphis to
Corinth by rail. Once the train was fired into by Confederate raiders.
There were quite a number of soldiers on board and Lawrence, placing
himself at their head, succeeded, after a brisk little fight, in driving
the raiding party off. But the track had been torn up and there was a
delay of several hours, a delay under which Lawrence chafed, for he was
anxious to get to his friend.

At length Corinth was reached. All signs of the battle had been
obliterated, except the shattered houses, the mangled forest and
thickets and row upon row of new-made graves.

To his joy, Lawrence found Leon improving. He had not only been shot
through the arm, the arm he had stretched forth to seize the flag, but
had also received a scalp wound.

Lawrence would not have known him with his head all swathed up, if he
had not been pointed out to him. The meeting between the two friends was
a joyful one.

"How are the folks and how did they take my being wounded?" was Leon's
first question.

And thus it is. The first thought of a soldier as he sinks dying or
wounded on the battlefield is of home and the loved ones.

Lawrence told him and added, "Lola was crazy to come to you, but you
know it could not be."

"I reckon there would be another one besides me glad to see Lola," said
Leon. "Poor Randolph, he lies on the third cot, there. Don't go to him,
he seems to be asleep, and he needs rest. The surgeons cut the ball from
his thigh yesterday. It had lodged against the bone. They have hopes of
his recovery now, if blood poisoning does not set in. He has been
delirious most of the time, and what do you think? He is continually
raving about Lola. Seems to be living over again the time he was pursued
as a spy, and would have been captured if it had not been for her."

Somehow it gave Lawrence a little pang to hear this, then he cast the
thought out as unworthy.

When Randolph awoke, Lawrence went to him, pressed his hand in sympathy
and whispered that everything was all right, and not to talk. Randolph
smiled and, closing his eyes, went to sleep again.

The doctor came and looked at him. "Friend of yours?" he asked of
Lawrence.

Lawrence nodded.

"Mighty plucky fellow. Had a close call, but I think he will pull
through. Fever's most gone," exclaimed the doctor as he felt Randolph's
pulse and then hurried away.

Lawrence and Leon held a consultation that night, and it was determined
that if they could get Randolph paroled they would take him back to St.
Louis with them, for Leon had already been granted a furlough.

The parole was easily secured, but a week passed before they considered
it safe to move Randolph. The journey back was safely made and Leon, in
spite of his bandaged head and wounded arm, was nearly smothered with
kisses.

Lawrence found that Mr. Hamilton had not yet returned; in fact, he had
met with an accident, and it would be several days before he could
travel. What was to be done with Randolph? That was the question.

"Bring him with me," said Leon. "I want someone to fight with while I am
getting well, and fighting with tongues is not as dangerous as with
guns."

"Where are you taking me? This is not home," exclaimed Randolph, as the
ambulance stopped before the Laselle residence.

"No," replied Lawrence. "Your father has met with a slight accident, not
severe, but enough to detain him for several days. So we have brought
you to Mr. Laselle's. Leon wants you for company. You two can fight your
battles over while you are convalescing."

"But--"

"Not a word. Just think of what a nurse you will have. I almost wish I
was in your place."

Randolph smiled and made no more protestations.

Lawrence could hardly help envying Randolph, who had found a haven of
rest for at least some weeks, while he must once more face the hardships
and dangers of the tented field.

The orders came in a couple of days and Lawrence went to say good-bye to
his friends.

He found Leon and Randolph had been placed in one room, and there they
lay, Union and Confederate, side by side, as they had lain on the
battlefield, but now no blood-stained flag lay between them.

Lawrence watched as Lola, with gentle hands, administered to Randolph's
wants. He saw how his face lighted up as she came near, and--well, he
didn't like it.

When it came time for him to go and Lola followed him to the door, he
said in a tone of carelessness, "Lola, as you have not only Leon, but
Randolph to look after now, I suppose you do not care to hear from me
any more."

The girl looked at him in surprise and tears gathered in her eyes.
"Lawrence, what do you mean?" she asked in a trembling voice. "Are you
not my own, my true knight-errant?"

"There, Lola, I was only joking. Of course, I am your knight-errant,"
answered Lawrence hastily, "and my Lady of Beauty must not forget me.
God bless you, Lola." He raised her hand to his lips and was gone.

Lola gazed after him with troubled eyes, and then a thought, a thought
that had never entered her head before, came. The color in her cheeks
came and went. "He couldn't have meant that," she murmured, as she
looked at his retreating figure until it was out of sight. Then with a
sigh she turned and went into the house.



CHAPTER XIII

PORTER CAPTURES PALMYRA


With the disastrous defeats and scattering of the guerrilla bands of
Poindexter, Cobb and Porter, it looked as if Northeast Missouri was, at
last, free from partisan warfare, but such did not prove to be the case.
Porter had escaped, and was soon back in his old haunts, gathering
together as many of his followers as possible.

Harry Semans reported this fact to McNeil, who had now been appointed
general in the Missouri militia. That officer could hardly believe that
Porter would be able to gather a force large enough to do much damage,
but he bade Harry be watchful and report at the first signs of danger.

"Hist! Bruno, keep quiet!"

It was Harry Semans, who was once more lying in a thicket by the side of
the road, and as usual the faithful Bruno was by his side. The dog was
now showing that he scented danger.

Harry's method of scouting was peculiar. When in need of information he
and Bruno generally scouted alone, and that during the night.

In the daytime he would lie concealed in some thicket, close to a road,
his horse always picketed some distance from him. He would observe any
men that passed along the road, the direction they were going, and thus
be able to determine whether the guerrillas were gathering for a raid or
not. If so, it was his duty to find their rendezvous, report with all
possible speed, and bring a Federal force down upon them.

When he thought best, he had no scruples in passing himself off as a
guerrilla. It was only in case of urgent necessity that he rode in the
daytime. For one reason he did not wish the guerrillas to know he was
always accompanied by a dog. In the night he could not be recognized,
and he was never in fear of a surprise, for Bruno always gave warning.

To the guerrillas it was a matter of wonderment how the Federals so
often found out their secret hiding places, and many a suspected Union
man was accused of giving information, and suffered in consequence, when
it was Harry who was the guilty party.

Feeling safe, McNeil had left only one small company in Palmyra to guard
the place, and to protect the prisoners, of whom he had nearly a
hundred. He was away looking after other posts in his territory.

The news of McNeil's absence and the small number of soldiers at Palmyra
was borne to Porter and he determined to make a raid on the village,
liberate the prisoners, and capture some of the Union citizens who had
made themselves obnoxious to Porter and his gang.

The news was given out and the guerrillas were rallying at a given place
in the western part of the county. It was this gathering of the
guerrillas that Harry was now watching.

He quickly quieted the dog and the cause of his excitement was now
apparent, for six men came riding past, all armed to the teeth.

"There is deviltry on foot, old fellow," whispered Harry to Bruno, "and
it 's up to us to find out what it is. There's twenty of these villains
ridden past since we've been hiding here.

"How I wish I could hear what they are saying," continued Harry. "I
must, I _will_ find out what's brewing."

Harry was in a place which he could not safely leave before night, so he
waited impatiently for the coming darkness. As soon as he dared he made
his way back to where he had left his horse, and cautiously led it to
the road. He then mounted and rode in the direction the guerrillas had
taken. Two or three times Bruno gave warning, and Harry quietly drew out
by the side of the road and let men pass.

He had gone some two or three miles when he came to a main road leading
to Palmyra. Bruno showed unusual excitement, and Harry stopped and
listened intently. From up the road there came the sound of the
trampling of horses, as if a large body of cavalry was coming.

"Quick, Bruno, we must get out of this," exclaimed Harry, and wheeling
his horse he rode back a short distance. Then he rode into a clump of
bushes where he dismounted and tied the horse. "I dare not leave you too
near the road when that cavalry passes, you might give me away," he
said, patting his horse's neck. "Bruno, you stay here."

Back on the run went Harry. Climbing a fence he quickly made his way to
the road over which the cavalry must pass. Here a fence ran close to the
road and the corners were overgrown with weeds and brush, making a safe
hiding place.

He was none too soon. Six men came riding by. "An advance guard,"
muttered Harry.

In a short time the head of the column appeared, and in front rode two
men. As they came abreast of Harry he heard one of them say, "What time
do you expect to attack Palmyra, Colonel?"

"Just at daybreak." It was the voice of Colonel Porter that answered.

Harry breathed hard. It was Palmyra that was to be attacked, and he knew
the weakness of the garrison. He calculated as closely as he could the
number that passed, and concluded there must be about four hundred in
the band.

What was he to do? The whole force was squarely between him and Palmyra.
He could never get through that body of men. He must ride around. But
would he have time? Could he find his way in the darkness? He could try.

Harry waited until the last man had passed, then going back he mounted
his horse and followed the band. So close was he after them that three
or four stragglers overtook him, and taking him for one of their number,
told him to hurry up or he would be too late for the fun.

"My hoss is plumb tired out," was Harry's answer, "but I reckon I will
git thar in time."

After riding three or four miles Harry came to a road that he believed
might enable him to get around Porter's force, and by hard riding get to
Palmyra first and give warning. Taking the road he put his horse to a
fast gallop. Two or three times he was hailed as he passed houses, but
he dashed on regardless of the fact that a bullet might be sent after
him.

He soon became aware that the road was taking him away instead of in the
direction he wished to go. He brought his horse down to a walk.

"I'm afraid it's all up," he sighed, "but I will never cease trying
until all hope is gone."

Keeping a sharp lookout he soon came to a road that ran in the direction
he wished to go. True the road seemed but little traveled, but it was
his only hope, so he turned into it, and again urged his horse forward.

The road twisted and turned and Harry soon lost all idea of direction.
Worse than all, it grew fainter and fainter and soon became little more
than a trail. Harry felt himself hopelessly lost. He knew not where he
was, nor in what direction he wanted to go, but he knew by the woods
which bordered the trail he must be near a stream.

Soon he came to a clearing, in the middle of which stood a rough log
house. There was a light burning in the house, and before it a horse
stood saddled and bridled, and Harry noticed that a shotgun lay across
the saddle.

Though he knew it was risky he determined to stop and find out where he
was and to inquire the shortest way to Palmyra. Hitching his horse and
telling Bruno to keep out of sight, but near him, he carefully made his
way to the house. He soon became satisfied it was tenanted only by a man
and woman; if there were children they were asleep.

The man kept coming to the door and looking out as if he expected some
one. Harry saw he was a sinister looking fellow, and that he wore a belt
which held in place a huge revolver. Harry waited until the man had
closed the door after one of his visits, and then marching boldly up he
gave a short rap.

The door was immediately opened and the man he had seen exclaimed,
"Hello, Steve, yo' un air late." When he saw Harry he stopped and his
hand went to his belt, "Who be yo' un," he growled, "and what do yo' un
want?"

"Don't be alarmed, pard," laughed Harry. "I reckon yo' un and I air in
the same class. I'm from Shelby an' on my way to join Porter. Yo' un
knows we 'uns air to make it hot for the Yanks in Palmyra. I have lost
my way, an' want to know whar I kin find the direct road to Palmyra."

"Yo' un only have to foller the trail to the branch, cross it and yo' un
will strike the main road. But I kalkerlate to have a hand in that
little job at Palmyra myself. Have three or four debts to pay, one agin
old Allsman. He reported me to McNeil as a dangerous char'ter. He'll
never peach agin if I lay hands on him."

"Thank yo' un. I'll be goin'," said Harry, "or I'm afraid I'll be late."

"Hold on, pard," said the man. "I be jest waitin' for Steve and Sol
Jones. We 'uns will all go together."

"Sorry I can't wait. I must be goin'," replied Harry, turning to go.

"Stop!" cried the man, hoarsely.

Harry wheeled, his hand on his revolver.

"Better not," drawled the man, with a grin. "The old woman has you
kivered and she's a dead shot."

Harry glanced up. Sure enough the woman, a gaunt, muscular virago, stood
in the door, a rifle at her shoulder, and Harry saw that he could look
right into the muzzle.

"Ha! Ha!" chuckled the fellow, "yo' un didn't count on that, did yo' un?
Fact is, I didn't take to yo' un's story and I giv' the old woman a sign
to look out. If yo' un be from Shelby, how'd it happen yo' un got in
this timber along the branch. Yo' un may be all right, and if yo' un air
it will be no hurt for yo' un to wait and go with we 'uns. Thar, stop
fingering that thar revolver, or I'll giv' the old woman the wink.
Better up with yo' hands. Thar, I heah Steve and Sol comin'. If yo' un
don't prove all right, we 'uns will have a hangin' bee before we 'uns
start. Hands up, I tell yo' un."

Harry was still looking into the muzzle of the rifle. It seemed to him
as big as a cannon. His hands slowly went up, but as they did so he gave
a low, peculiar whistle. Like a flash a great black body bounded through
the air and Bruno's teeth were buried in the shoulder of his victim. The
force of the impact threw the fellow over, and as he fell Harry ducked.

The woman fired, but the shot went wild. In a moment Harry had wrenched
the gun from her, and with a blow bent the barrel of the rifle around
the door frame. But now was heard the approach of horses, and the cries
of men. Steve and Sol Jones were coming, and the sound of the rifle shot
had alarmed them.

"Here, Bruno, come quick," commanded Harry. But Bruno was unwilling to
release his victim, and it took a hard cuff and a sharp command to make
him let go. Steve and Sol were now there, excitedly crying, "What's up?
What's up?"

Without a word Harry opened fire. One of the horses and the rider went
down; the other wheeling his horse, was off like a shot, fortunately
going the way Harry had come.

Without waiting to learn the result of his shots, Harry rushed for his
horse and rode away. He reached the branch spoken of, and, crossing it,
was soon on the highroad to Palmyra. But Porter and his men were still
in between him and the place.

Harry now came to where he was acquainted with the country. He could
ride around Porter, but it was a good six or eight miles out of his way.
"I can never do it and be in time," he groaned, "but I may do some
good." Again his good horse was urged to a stiff gallop.

Day was just breaking and Harry was still three miles from Palmyra, but
he had got past Porter, and would enter the place from the east. He was
congratulating himself that he might still be in time, when the faint
echo of firearms was borne to him on the breeze. Spurring his horse
forward he rode some distance, then halted and listened.

The sounds of firing were unmistakable, but the reports were scattering,
not as if any considerable number of men were engaged.

Harry reached the fair grounds on the eastern edge of town. Here he
unstrapped the blanket from his saddle, and carrying it into a vacant
stall, said to Bruno, "Old fellow, watch that blanket until I come
back."

The dog lay down by the side of the blanket, and Harry patted his head
and told him to keep his eyes open, then he left him, thinking to return
shortly.

Harry now rode boldly forward, thinking he would have no trouble in
passing himself off as one of the guerrillas. He soon saw squads of them
riding through the town and stopping at the different houses. He
shuddered, for he knew Union men lived in every one of those houses.

The firing up in the center of the town now grew more severe.

"Seems as if they air havin' quite a time up thar," he said to a
guerrilla whom he met.

"Yes," growled the fellow. "The Yanks have got into the court house and
a brick store. Porter ordered them to surrender and they answered if he
wanted them to com' an' take them. That they'd fight till the last man
fell before they'd surrender. The Kunnel will find it hard work to get
them out without cannon."

Harry's heart gave a great bound. If the Federals were in the court
house and a brick store, they might hold out for hours. Might he not get
help from Hannibal? McNeil was at Monticello, only thirty miles away,
with part of the Merrill Horse. Would it be possible to bring help to
the besieged men? He would try, and he turned up a side street.

"Hullo! Whar be yo' un goin'?" asked the guerrilla.

"Thar's a feller up here aways I've got an account to settle with, an'
I'll git him no matter what happens," exclaimed Harry, fiercely. Then a
happy thought came to him, "Say," he asked, "didn't the Kunnel tell us
whar to rally after this affair was over?"

"Yes, at Whaley's Mill," was the answer.

"Wall, I must git my man an' then I'll find yo' un," Harry answered.

On the outskirts of the village Harry met another guerrilla who told him
he had better be getting back, as Porter had given up all hopes of
capturing the soldiers in the court house, and they were going to gather
up their booty and prisoners and evacuate the place.

"Very well," answered Harry. "Thar is one feller out heah I want to get,
an' I'm goin' to get him."

"Better hurry up then," replied the guerrilla.

Porter had no idea of holding the place when he made the raid. His
orders were that while some of his force should engage the soldiers at
the court house, the rest should disperse through the city and arrest
every Union man in the place; expressly were they ordered to find and
arrest Andrew Allsman, who had made himself very obnoxious to them by
acting as guide to the Union forces.

Allsman was found in bed. He was dragged out, ordered to dress himself,
and taken away.

Porter expected to find a large quantity of arms and munitions of war in
the place. In this he was disappointed, but he succeeded in taking the
jail and liberating a number of prisoners.

One Union citizen was shot down as he stood in the door of his house.

The soldiers, in defending the court house, had a few men wounded. The
guerrillas lost one killed and had several wounded.

When Porter withdrew from the place he halted on the outskirts of the
village and paroled all his prisoners except four, and one of the four
was Allsman.

This done he started for the appointed rendezvous at Whaley's Mill. He
expected no immediate pursuit, for he knew McNeil was at Monticello.



CHAPTER XIV

TEN LIVES FOR ONE


Harry succeeded in clearing the village in safety, and, when about half
a mile away, halted and looked back. Porter's men were already leaving
the place, and Harry saw they had quite a number of prisoners. Porter
halted in an open meadow near the edge of the village, and the prisoners
were gathered together.

"My God!" groaned Harry. "Are they going to murder them all?"

But the prisoners were not murdered. They were all paroled with the
exception of four, to whom allusion has been made.

Harry watched until he saw the paroled men start back to the village,
and the guerrillas riding away. He drew a long breath of relief. The
fact was, McNeil held so many of Porter's men prisoners that the
guerrilla chieftain dare not command such wholesale murder.

"What is to be done now?" asked Harry of himself. "I know," he cried
suddenly. "If I can make Monticello before night, McNeil can get to
Whaley's Mill nearly as quickly as Porter. I'll make Monticello or die
in the attempt."

Thus saying, he turned his horse to the north and rode swiftly away. He
had gone some distance when he suddenly drew rein. "Great guns!" he
exclaimed. "I have forgotten Bruno. He will stay by that blanket until
he starves."

He reined in his horse and sat a moment in deep thought. "It's no use,"
he sighed. "It's full five miles. I can never go back and make
Monticello in time. Poor Bruno! I won't let him suffer for more than a
day or two."

His mind made up, Harry rode on at as swift a pace as his horse could
stand. Residents along the road gazed in wonder as Harry dashed past.
Most of them took him for a guerrilla fleeing from his foes, and looked
in vain for blue-coated pursuers. A number hailed him and two or three
sent a ball after him on receiving no answer.

When about half way to Monticello three rough-looking men blocked the
road, demanding his name and the reason of his haste.

"I'm carrying the news to the boys," he explained. "Porter captured
Palmyra this morning."

"Yo' un don't say. But who air yo' un carryin' the news to?"

"To Sam Dodds. Porter wanted him to rally all the boys he could and join
him at Whaley's Mill."

This was a guess by Harry. He only knew Dodds was a leader among the
guerrillas in that section of the country.

"That's a lie. Sam Dodds is with Porter and--" The guerrilla never got
further. Harry's revolver cracked and the fellow rolled from his horse.
Bending low over his horse's neck, Harry was off like a shot.

For a moment the other two guerrillas were dazed by the unlooked-for
attack, then drawing their revolvers sent ball after ball after Harry,
who, as they fired, felt a sharp pain in his left arm, but he only urged
his horse to greater speed.

One of the guerrillas sprang from his horse and went to his fallen
companion. "Dead as a doornail," he exclaimed. "Shot through the heart.
Jack, let's after that boy. I reckon one of us winged him, for I saw him
winch. We 'uns can come back and see to poor Collins heah, after we
catch him. I reckon that young devil was the famous boy scout of the
Merrill Hoss. I've heard Porter say he'd give a thousand dollars for him
dead or alive."

Without further parley, leaving their dead companion lying in the road,
the two guerrillas mounted their horses and started in pursuit. Harry by
this time had gained a good lead, but the guerrillas' horses were fresh,
and they gained on him rapidly. As dark as it now looked for Harry, his
being pursued proved to be his salvation, for he had not gone more than
two miles when six guerrillas blocked the road.

"Halt and give an account of yo'self!" they cried.

Without checking his horse, Harry shouted, "Yanks! Yanks!"

The guerrillas saw the cloud of dust raised by Harry's pursuers and
wheeling their horses fled with him. Harry now had company he did not
relish, but not for long. Coming to a cross road which led into a wood
they turned into it crying out to Harry to do the same, but to their
amazement he kept right on.

"Reckon he's so skeered he didn't notice," said one.

"Hold," said another, "thar's only two comin' an' they don't look like
Yanks. If they be, we 'uns can tend to them."

Drawing their weapons they waited for the two to come up, when they
found they were two of their own gang. Explanations were made and there
were curses loud and deep.

"We 'uns air losing time," cried one of the first two. "The feller's
hoss must be badly winded. We 'uns can catch him."

The leader of the six shook his head. "No," he exclaimed, with an oath,
"it's all off. Thar is a scouting party of Yanks up the road. They
chased us. That's the reason we 'uns are down heah. That feller will
fall in with them before we 'uns can ketch him."

So, much to their chagrin, the guerrillas gave up the chase and went to
attend to their dead comrade.

About five miles from Monticello Harry overtook the scouting party, now
on their way back to that city. Taking Harry for a guerrilla, they
ordered him to surrender, which he did very willingly.

Harry was white with dust, blood was dripping from his left hand and his
horse, white with foam, stood trembling.

The lieutenant in charge of the party rode up. "Well, young man," he
began, then stopped and gazed in wonder.

"Good Heavens!" he exclaimed. "It's Harry Semans. Harry, what's up?"

"Porter is on the warpath. He has captured Palmyra," gasped Harry.

The news was astounding.

"When?" cried the lieutenant.

"This morning. But I have no time to talk. Give me a fresh horse. I must
see McNeil."

"But your hand, my boy. Let me send one of the boys with the news."

"No, no!" cried Harry. "I must see McNeil. The wound is nothing. It is
nothing but a scratch."

Harry took a horse from one of the troop, and accompanied by the
lieutenant and three men rode post-haste for Monticello, leaving the
troop to come more leisurely.

General McNeil was greatly surprised by the news. He had supposed
Porter's band to be entirely dispersed.

"You say the garrison did not surrender?" asked McNeil.

"No, but Porter plundered the town and took every Union man in the place
prisoner. From what I could see he paroled all, or most of them."

"God help Andrew Allsman if they captured him," exclaimed McNeil; "but
if Porter dares--" The General said no more, but his jaws came together
with a snap.

Harry now told the whole story and ended with: "General, they are to
rendezvous at Whaley's Mill. You can catch them if you act promptly.
It's not much farther to Whaley's Mill from here than it is from
Palmyra; and Porter has no idea you can get there nearly as quickly as
he."

McNeil lost no time. Fortunately there was a battalion of the Merrill
Horse at Monticello, and he could muster five hundred men for the
pursuit.

"I wish you could be with us," said the General to Harry.

"I certainly shall be," answered Harry.

"But your wound, and thirty-six hours without sleep or rest," said the
General.

"My wound is nothing," said Harry, "but that reminds me it has not been
dressed, and that I am nearly famished, but I will be ready as soon as
you are."

"Only cut deep enough to make it bleed freely," said the surgeon, as he
dressed Harry's arm. "You will be all right in a week."

"I'm all right now, except a lame arm and an empty stomach," laughed
Harry, "and I will attend to the stomach now."

It was not long before McNeil, at the head of five hundred stout
troopers, was on his way to Whaley's Mill, every man eager for the
conflict. But as Harry rode there came to him the thought of Bruno. His
first impulse was to turn back and ride for Palmyra, but he knew how
dangerous it would be, and then he felt his duty was to continue with
McNeil. It would not make more than a day's difference, and if he
started alone, the probabilities were he would never get to Palmyra, so
with a heavy heart he rode on.

All through the night they rode. Porter, never dreaming McNeil could
reach him so quickly, went into camp at Whaley's Mill to await supplies
and reinforcements.

The next day McNeil was on him like a thunderbolt. Never was there a
surprise more complete. Many of the guerrillas cut the halters of their
horses and without saddles or bridles galloped furiously away.
Frequently two men were seen on one horse, digging in their heels and
urging him to the utmost speed.

The relentless Merrill Horse were after them, cutting, shooting and
taking prisoners those who threw down their arms and begged for mercy.
For two days the pursuit was kept up, and at last in desperation Porter
cried to the men who had kept with him, "Every man for himself." And
every man for himself it was. The band was totally dispersed.

When Porter saw all hope was lost, he paroled three of the four
prisoners he had kept; but Andrew Allsman was held, and from that day
all authentic news of him ceases.[11]

[Footnote 11: It is claimed by friends of Porter that he also paroled
Allsman, and that he had nothing to do with his disappearance.]

Porter did not rally his band; he collected as many as he could and fled
south into Arkansas, where he held a commission as colonel in a regiment
of provisional troops. Owing to this pursuit six days had elapsed before
Harry could get back to Palmyra. During this period the thought of Bruno
keeping his lonely watch over that blanket caused Harry many a sharp
pain. More than once he thought of deserting and going to the relief of
the animal. Those of the officers who knew the story laughed at Harry's
fears, saying no dog would stay and watch a blanket until he starved,
but Harry knew better.

Upon reaching Palmyra he rode with all haste to the fair grounds where
he had left Bruno. He found the dog lying with his head and forepaws on
the blanket, his eyes closed. So still he lay, so gaunt he looked, that
Harry's heart gave a great bound; he feared he was dead. But the moment
Harry's footsteps were heard, Bruno gave a hoarse growl and staggered to
his feet, every hair on his back bristling. But no sooner did he see who
it was than he gave a joyful bark and attempted to spring forward to
meet him, but fell from weakness.

In a moment Harry's arms were around his neck and he was weeping like a
child. The dog licked his hands and his face in an ecstasy of joy.

"Bruno, Bruno, to love me like this, after I left you to starve and
die," sobbed Harry, "but I couldn't help it, if the guerrillas had seen
you they would never have let you live. They would rather have your life
than mine, and Bruno you are worth a dozen of me."

If ever a dog was cared for and fed tidbits, it was Bruno, and in a few
days he showed no signs of his fast.

The taking of Palmyra was a humiliating affair to General McNeil. That
the town in which he made his headquarters should be raided, every Union
citizen in it captured, one shot down and another carried off, and in
all probability murdered, was a bitter pill for him to swallow.

He had often declared that if any more murders were committed in his
district he would shoot ten guerrillas for every man murdered. Had the
time come for him to make that threat good?

McNeil was not naturally a cruel man; to his friends he was one of the
kindest and most generous of men, but to his foes he was relentless. He
believed that the guerrillas of Missouri had broken every law of
civilized warfare, and were entitled to no mercy. But now that the time
had come for him to make his threats good, he hesitated. He arose and
paced his room. "No, no," he murmured, "I cannot do it. There must be
some way out of it."

Just then his provost marshal, Colonel W. R. Strachan, entered the room.
Strachan was a coarse featured man and his heavy jaw showed him to be a
man of determined will. His countenance showed marks of dissipation, for
he was a heavy drinker, and this served to further brutalize his nature.
That he was cruel could be seen in every lineament of his face. But he
was a man of marked executive ability, and when occasion demanded he
wielded a facile and ready pen. His defence of McNeil in a New York
paper showed him to be a man possessing ability of the highest order.

Such was the man who came into the presence of McNeil at this critical
moment. He stood and regarded McNeil as if he would read his very
thoughts, and then remarked, cynically, "I haven't seen anything of that
proclamation of yours yet, General."

McNeil started as if stung. He hesitated and then said, "Strachan, I
can't make up my mind. It seems so cold blooded."

"The Rebels say you dare not," sneered Strachan.

McNeil flushed. "I allow no man to question my courage," he answered
hotly.

"Pardon me, General, it is not your physical courage they question. That
is above criticism. It is your moral courage, the courage to do right,
because it wrings your heart to do right. You feel for the ten men you
doom to die, but, Great God! look at their crimes. Does not the blood of
the Union men murdered by Porter's gang cry for vengeance? Think of
that. Think of Carter, and Preston, and Pratt, and Spieres, and Carnegy,
and Aylward--but why enumerate every one of these men murdered by these
assassins. Now they come and, right under our very eyes, carry off
Allsman, to be foully dealt with--and yet General McNeil hesitates."[12]

[Footnote 12: All of these men named by Strachan had been cruelly
murdered by guerrillas.]

"Say no more, Strachan," cried McNeil, "the proclamation will be
forthcoming."

A cruel smile played around the lips of Strachan as he saluted his
superior and departed.

The next morning a proclamation appeared, directed to Joseph C. Porter,
saying that if Andrew Allsman was not returned before the end of ten
days ten of his followers held as prisoners would be taken out and shot.

The proclamation was posted on the door of the court house and soon a
motley crowd gathered around to read it. Some read it with satisfaction,
some with lowering brows, but the most with jeers.

"McNeil will never do it. It's only a bluff," declared a sullen-looking
man.

A tall, lank, cadaverous native ejected a mouthful of tobacco juice and
drawled, "Directed to Joe Porter, is it? That's a mistake; the General
should have directed it to the devil. He's the only one who can return
ole Allsman."

"Think so, do you?" said a soldier, who, overhearing the remark, laid a
heavy hand on the fellow's shoulder. "Come along with me."

Protesting vehemently, the fellow was taken to prison. This episode
ended public criticism.

There were not many in Palmyra who believed Porter could return Allsman
if he wanted to; the universal belief was that he had been murdered.
What would McNeil do when the man was not returned, was the question.
The general belief was that the proclamation was only a bluff to try and
scare Porter; so the people of Palmyra went about their business
disregarding the ominous cloud hanging over them.

As the days slipped by and Allsman was not returned and no explanation
made, McNeil began to be uneasy. He caused the proclamation to be made
throughout all Northeast Missouri. He even sent Harry on a dangerous
ride to deliver a copy to the wife of Porter, and to beg her to get a
copy to her husband, if she knew where he was.

She replied she did not know where he was. The fact was, Porter had fled
south, as has been noted, but McNeil did not know this.

No representations were made to McNeil that Allsman had been paroled by
Porter, as was afterwards claimed by Porter and his friends, and that he
was afterwards murdered by unknown parties. His proclamation was utterly
ignored.

The ninth day arrived and Strachan sought his chief. "Well," he growled,
"the time is up tomorrow and Allsman has not been returned. He will not
be. We might as well prepare for the execution."

"Is there any way out of this, Strachan?" asked McNeil, with much
feeling. "I hate this."

"Going to show the white feather?" sneered Strachan.

"No, but what if I issue a proclamation that if the men who actually
murdered Allsman are given up these ten men will be spared?"

"They will pay just as much attention to it as they did to your first
proclamation," said Strachan. "General, if you do not carry out your
proclamation there is not a Union man in the State whose life will be
safe, and their blood will be on your hands. You will be cursed by every
loyal citizen, and your enemies will despise you as a coward. Better,
far better, you had never issued any proclamation."

McNeil felt the force of Strachan's reasoning. It would have been better
if no proclamation had been made. To go back on it, and at the eleventh
hour, would proclaim him weak and vacillating, and the effect might be
as Strachan said.

"Go ahead, Strachan. I will not interfere," he said abruptly, and turned
away.

Strachan departed highly elated, and repaired to a carpenter shop, where
he ordered ten rough coffins made. The village suddenly awoke to the
fact that the execution would take place. Then faces grew pale, and all
jeering ceased. McNeil was besieged by applicants imploring him to stay
the execution. Among these were a number of Union men. But McNeil
remained obdurate; his mind was made up.

Strachan picked out ten men among the prisoners and they were told that
on the morrow they must die. Why Strachan picked the ten men he did will
never be known. They were not chosen by lot.

Among the ten men was a William S. Humphrey. Mrs. Humphrey had arrived
in Palmyra the evening before the execution, not knowing her husband was
to die. When told of his fate she was horrified, and in the early
morning she sought Strachan to plead for his life, but was rudely
repulsed. Then with tottering footsteps she wended her way to the
headquarters of General McNeil. He received her kindly, but told her he
would not interfere.

Half fainting she was borne from the room. Her little nine-year-old
daughter had accompanied her as far as the door. Catching sight of the
child, she cried with tears streaming down her face, "Go, child, go to
General McNeil, kneel before him and with uplifted hands beg him to
spare your father. Tell him what a good man he is. How he had refused to
go with Porter after he had taken the oath."

The little girl obeyed. She made her way to General McNeil; she knelt
before him; she raised her little hands imploringly; with the tears
streaming down her face she sobbed, "Oh, General McNeil, don't have papa
shot. He never will be bad any more. He promised and he will not break
that promise. Don't have him shot. Think of me as your little girl
pleading for your life."

She could say no more, but lay sobbing and moaning at his feet. The
stern man trembled like a leaf; tears gathered in his eyes and rolled
down his cheeks.

"Poor child! Poor child!" he murmured, as he gently raised her. Then
turning to his desk he wrote an order and, handing it to an officer,
said, "Take that to Colonel Strachan."

The order read:

     COLONEL STRACHAN:

     If the fact can be established that Humphrey was in Palmyra
     when Porter was here and refused to leave, reprieve him and put
     no one in his place.

     McNEIL.

When the order was delivered to Colonel Strachan he raved like a madman.
He had had ten coffins made, and though the heavens fell, they should be
filled. Like Shylock, he demanded his pound of flesh.

"For God's sake!" said Captain Reed to Strachan, "if you must have the
tenth victim, take a single man."

Strachan stalked to the prison and glancing over the prisoners called
out, "Hiram Smith."

A young man, twenty-two years of age, stepped forward.

"Is your name Hiram Smith?" asked Strachan.

"It is," was the answer.

"You are to be shot this afternoon."

The young man drew himself up, gazed blankly at Strachan for a moment,
and then without a word turned and walked across the room to where a
bucket of water was standing. Taking a drink he turned around with the
remark, "I can die just as easily as I took that drink of water." And
this young man knew he had but two hours to live.[13]

[Footnote 13: It was currently reported at the time, and believed for
years, that young Smith voluntarily offered himself as a substitute for
Humphrey; and that McNeil accepted him as such, and had him shot, after
his performing an act that would have placed him among the world's
greatest heroes.

This is what the author believed until in writing this book he wrote to
Palmyra for the full facts in the case, which were furnished him by Mr.
Frank H. Sosey, editor of the Palmyra Spectator.

No doubt this belief had much to do in intensifying the feeling against
General McNeil].

The time came and amid the groans and sobs of the populace, the ten men
were taken to the fair grounds, where seated on their coffins, they
bravely faced their executioners.

The firing squad consisted of thirty soldiers, three to a man. A few
hundred pale faced spectators looked on. The fatal order was given and
the volley rang out.

From the spectators there burst a cry of horror. Strong men turned away,
unable to look. Many of the firing squad were nervous and their aim was
bad; others had shot high on purpose--they had no heart in the work. Of
the ten men, only three had been killed outright. Six lay on the ground,
writhing in agony; one sat on his coffin, untouched.

"Take your revolvers and finish the job," thundered Strachan.

Harry, who had witnessed the scene, fled from it in horror, as did most
of the spectators. It was a scene that those who lived in Palmyra will
never forget. The fair grounds was never again used as such. It was a
place accursed.[14]

[Footnote 14: The Palmyra incident has gone into history as one of the
most deplorable during the war. Even at this late day it is more often
referred to than the horrible massacres committed by Anderson and
Quantrell.

That General McNeil did not violate the rules of civilized warfare will
be generally admitted, also that his provocation was great. But the
incident always hung over him like a cloud, and was the means of
defeating him for several responsible official positions. The dark blot
against McNeil was that he did not bring Strachan to account for
disobeying his orders, and that he took no notice of the awful crime of
which Strachan was accused in connection with this affair.

As for Strachan, his acts showed him to be a brute, and in connection
with this affair a crime was charged against him for which he should
have been court-martialed and shot. He was court-martialed a year or two
afterwards, but not for the Palmyra affair, and sentenced to a year in
military prison, but never served his sentence, as he was pardoned by
General Rosecrans. He died in 1866, unwept and unmourned.]



CHAPTER XV

A GIRL OF THE OZARKS


In one of the loveliest valleys in the heart of the Ozarks lived Judge
Marion Chittenden. He was the youngest son of a Kentucky pioneer, one
who did much in the building up of that commonwealth when it was known
as "The Dark and Bloody Ground."

In his youth, Marion Chittenden--that was not his name then--was wild
and wayward, and became involved in numerous brawls and personal
encounters. When about twenty years of age, in a drunken brawl he shot
and killed one of his best friends. Filled with horror, and knowing the
consequences of his crime, he fled. Although a large reward was offered
for his apprehension, all efforts to find him proved unavailing. As
years passed and nothing was heard from him, his relatives breathed
sighs of relief and considered him as one dead.

The fact was, he had fled beyond the Mississippi and became lost in the
wilds of Missouri. Here he changed his name, and no one ever knew but
that he always had been Marion Chittenden.

In the Ozarks he made his living by hunting and fishing, and for some
years lived almost the life of a hermit. In one particular his crime
made him a changed man; from the moment he fled he never touched another
drop of liquor.

One day while hunting he came across a lovely valley. Through it ran a
purling stream, its waters as clear as crystal. Around and about the
valley the hills rose to a height of from five to eight hundred feet,
clothed to their tops in a forest of living green.

When he first saw the valley it was from the top of one of the hills
where he had trailed and shot a bear. As he stood and looked, the scene
was so peaceful, so beautiful, that a longing for rest came over him.
The wild and wandering life he had led for years all at once palled upon
him. The memory of his childhood came like a flood. His waywardness, his
crime, arose before him with startling distinctness. He was naturally a
lover of the refinements of civilization, and the rough, lonely life he
had led was the result of his crime, not of inclination.

Standing there, he suddenly exclaimed, "Here will I make my home; here
will I forget the past; here will I begin a new life."

He descended into the valley, startling a herd of deer that bounded into
the forest which clothed the hills. But they need not have been
afraid--for the time being he had lost the instinct of a hunter.

He stood by the side of the little river, its clear waters showing the
fish darting to and fro, as if in wanton play. A little back was a knoll
crowned with noble trees. "Here," thought he, "will I build my house.
Here will I begin my new life. It is beautiful. The stream is beautiful.
It shall be called La Belle, and this the valley of La Belle." And the
valley of La Belle it became.

He went to St. Louis and preëmpted the land, for he had no fears the
rough, bearded hunter would be taken for the immaculate young dandy who
had fled from Kentucky.

He built him a home; the range of thousands of acres of land was his,
and his flocks grew and flourished. Time passed, and other settlers
began to invade the seclusion of the Ozarks.

One day there came into the hills a man by the name of Garland. He had
seen better days, but had become impoverished and fled to the Ozarks,
thinking that in that wilderness he might make a home, and in a measure
retrieve his fortune. His family consisted of his wife and one daughter,
a young lady about twenty years of age.

Mr. Garland settled some miles from where Chittenden lived his lonely
life; but in a wilderness those who live miles away are considered
neighbors. Mr. Chittenden visited them, and, though charmed by the
beauty of the daughter, he had no thoughts of giving up his bachelor
life.

But misfortune seemed to have followed Mr. Garland. He had not been
there a year before his wife died, and in a few months he followed her.

Before this Mr. Chittenden had not thought of marriage, but now the
helplessness of the girl appealed to him. He proposed and was accepted.
He never had cause to regret his action, for beautiful Grace Garland
made a wife of whom any man might be proud.

His marriage also made a great change in Mr. Chittenden. The house was
enlarged and beautified. He greatly prospered, and in time became one of
the prominent men in his section of the country. He was called Judge,
and sent to the Legislature, and was even pressed to run for Congress.
Against this he resolutely set his face. The ghost of the past arose and
frightened him. As a congressman his past might be traced.

A couple of years after his marriage a daughter was born and was named
Grace, after her mother.

Mr. Chittenden continued to prosper, and in time bought a few slaves.
This put him on a higher plane, for to be a slave-holder was to belong
to the aristocracy, and it was a matter of pride among the Ozarks that
Mr. Chittenden owned slaves.

Little Grace grew up a true child of the mountains, as wild and free as
the birds. When she was about ten years of age her mother died. If it
had not been for his daughter, Mr. Chittenden would have lost all
interest in life. Now everything centered in her, and she became a part
of his very life.

The death of his wife left him without a competent housekeeper, so one
day he informed Grace he was going to St. Louis to see if he could not
buy a colored woman recommended as a good housekeeper, and that if she
liked she might go with him.

The girl was overjoyed, for she had never been away from her lovely
valley home. The hills to her had been the boundary of the world, and
often as she gazed at them she would wonder and wonder what was beyond.
The birds were her friends, and they seemed to sing of things she did
not know. They had wings and could fly and explore that wonderful
beyond. She often wished she too had wings, so she might fly with the
birds--then she would know too.

Her mother early had taught her to read, and Mr. Chittenden had gathered
quite a library. Grace read every book in it with avidity, but they told
her of a world she could not understand.

But now she was to go beyond the barrier; she was to see the world, and
she could hardly wait for the time to start.

At last the day came and the journey was begun, first on horseback and
then by a lumbering stage coach.

In due time they reached the city, and what she saw filled her with
wonder and surprise. But when she woke in the morning and heard no
singing of birds, but instead the din and roar of the street; and when
she looked out and saw no lovely valley, no stately hills, no La Belle,
its waters sparkling in the sun, but instead row upon row of great
buildings, she sighed--she hardly knew why.

The next day when her father showed her around the city she said, "It's
all very wonderful, papa, but it isn't like home. The houses are not as
beautiful as the hills, and even the great river does not sing as
sweetly, and its waters are not clear and sparkling like La Belle."

One day Mr. Chittenden told Grace there was to be an auction of slaves,
and he would go and try to get one for a housekeeper. The little girl
was eager to go with him, but he would not allow it. She wondered why
and rebelled, but her father was obdurate and left her crying.

Grace's slightest wish was generally law to her father, and to be
refused and left alone was to her a surprise. She did not realize that
her father did not wish her to see the distressing scenes which often
took place at an auction of slaves.

In due time Mr. Chittenden returned, accompanied by a comely mulatto
woman about forty years of age. The woman's eyes were red with weeping,
and now and then her bosom would heave with a great sob which she would
in vain try to hold back.

"This is Tilly, Grace," said her father. "She is said to be a good
housekeeper and a famous cook."

"Why do you cry?" asked Grace. "Papa is a good man; he will use you
well."

"It's not that," sobbed the woman: "it's mah honey chile, mah little
Effie. I'll neber see her moah." And she broke down and sobbed
piteously.

Grace turned with a distressed countenance. "Did Tilly have a little
girl?" she asked.

"Y-e-s," answered Mr. Chittenden, rather reluctantly.

"Why didn't you buy her too?" she asked indignantly. "What if someone
should take me from you?"

Mr. Chittenden winced. "That is different, child," he answered. "As for
Tilly's child, a trader from New Orleans bought her, paying an enormous
price. She was nearly white, and gave promise of becoming quite a
beauty. Rich people give large prices for such for maids. I could not
afford to buy her. As it was, I had to pay a big price for Tilly."

Grace said no more, but from that time new thoughts entered her mind,
and when alone with Tilly she tried to comfort her.

Tilly proved as good a housekeeper and cook as Mr. Chittenden could have
desired, and in time seemed to have forgotten her child. But Grace knew
better, for when alone with her Tilly never tired of telling her about
her "honey chile," and Grace was learning what it meant to be a slave,
and all unconsciously to herself she was drinking in a love of freedom.

As for Tilly, she came to worship the very ground that Grace walked on.
Willingly she would have shed every drop of blood in her veins for her.

Years went by and other settlers came into the Ozarks, but they were a
rough, uneducated class, and Mr. Chittenden had little in common with
them. In time a Mr. Thomas Osborne settled about four miles from him. He
was a northern man, well educated, and had come to the Ozarks for his
health, being threatened with consumption. He had a daughter, Helen,
about the age of Grace, and the two became inseparable friends.

When Grace was about fifteen years of age it was evident that she would
be a very beautiful woman. She was by no means an ignorant girl, for her
father had employed a private teacher for her, and she was far better
acquainted with the elementary branches and with books than most girls
who attend fashionable boarding schools.

But she was still a child of nature, the birds her best companions. The
wind whispering through the forest told her wonderful stories. She could
ride and shoot equal to any boy who roamed the Ozarks, and was the
companion of her father as he looked after his flocks and herds.

The father saw she was fast budding into womanhood, and sighed, for he
felt she should know something beyond the rough life of the mountains,
and, although parting from her was like tearing out his own heart, he
resolved to send her to a boarding school in St. Louis. His daughter
must be a lady; he had not forgotten his early life.

Grace heard his decision. She had not forgotten her visit to that
wonderful city five years before, and, now that she was older, thought
she would like to see and know more of it.

"But how can I leave you, papa?" she exclaimed, throwing her arms around
his neck and pressing kiss after kiss upon his brow.

Mr. Chittenden clasped her to his breast. "It will not be for long,
child," he said huskily, "and I would have my little girl a lady."

"Am I not a lady, now?" she asked, pouting.

"Yes, yes, Grace; but I would have you know something of the ways of
society. I do not want you to be always a mountain girl. You are worthy
to adorn the grandest palace in the city."

"I don't want to adorn a palace. I love the valley of La Belle," she
replied. "I want to live and die here."

"You may think differently some day, child. It is only for your good I
would have you go, for, Grace, you do not know how hard it is for me to
part from you."

Again the girl threw her arms around him. "Don't make me go, papa," she
sobbed. "I thought I wanted to go, but I don't now. I don't want to be a
fine lady. I want to stay with you."

"No, Grace; it is for the best." And so it was fully decided.

The time came for her to go. The parting with Helen Osborne was a
tearful one, but Tilly was inconsolable. "All de sunshine will be gone
frum de house," she moaned. "When Missy Grace goes, Tilly want to die."

"Oh, no, Tilly; you want to be here to welcome me when I come back,"
said Grace.

Grace was taken to St. Louis and placed in one of the most fashionable
schools in the city. Lola Laselle and Dorothy Hamilton were members of
the same school, but as they were day pupils, Grace did not become very
well acquainted with them.

Grace's gentle, unaffected ways soon made her a favorite, but there were
a few of the pupils who looked down on the mountain girl as beneath
them. But gentle as Grace was, there was the blood of a fiery and proud
race in her veins, and she soon taught those girls she could not be
snubbed with impunity. She was an apt pupil and soon became the most
popular girl in the school, and the haughty ones were proud to be
classed as her friends.

The rules and restrictions of the school were irksome to her, and she
became the leader of a bevy of girls who delighted in having a good
time, and many were the little luncheons they enjoyed together after the
teachers thought all good girls were in bed.

One day Grace heard the girls discussing a book which at that time was
creating a sensation.

"It's dreadful," said one of the girls. "Every copy printed ought to be
destroyed, and the woman who wrote it burned at the stake."

"Have you read it?" asked one of the girls.

The first girl raised her eyebrows in surprise. "Read it!" she
exclaimed. "I would as soon touch a viper as that book."

"How do you know it is bad, then?" persisted the second girl.

"Because I have heard papa say so. It's all about slavery, and makes out
that the people that own slaves are the wickedest people in the world.
Papa says the book will cause a war yet."

"My papa says," spoke up another, "that the South is going to secede,
and when it does he says there may be war."

"Pshaw! the Yankees will not fight," exclaimed a girl from Mississippi.
"Brother Ned says they are a cowardly lot, and that one Southern
gentleman can whip ten of them."

The conversation now took a general turn over what would happen if war
came, and it was the opinion of most of the girls that it would be just
grand.

Grace listened eagerly to the conversation, but took no part. So far she
had given little attention to the strife which was agitating the
country. Even the conflict which had raged along the borders of Missouri
and Kansas had only come as a faint echo among the Ozarks. But now she
asked, "What is the name of the book you girls are talking about?"

"Uncle Tom's Cabin. It's a horrid book," replied one of the girls.

Grace said no more, but she determined to have that book; she wanted to
see what made it so terrible. The first time she had leave to go
downtown she made an excuse to go into a book store and purchase a copy.
She concealed it in her clothes and then made a few other purchases.

"Why, Grace, what made you so long?" asked the monitor in charge of the
girls when she returned.

"Couldn't get waited on before," answered Grace demurely.

That evening Grace swore her room-mate to eternal secrecy, and then
showed her the book.

The girl was horrified. "What made you buy it?" she wailed. "Why, if I
should take that book home I would be arrested and sent to prison."

"I am determined to see what kind of a book it is," answered Grace,
doggedly. "When I see, I can burn it up if I don't like it."

"I wouldn't touch it for the whole world," exclaimed her room-mate.
"Burn it up. Burn it up now, Grace. What if the girls found it out! We
would be disgraced, ostracized, perhaps expelled!"

"If you don't tell, I will take care that no one else sees it," said
Grace.

The next day Grace feigned a headache, and remained in her room to read
the book. That evening her room-mate asked about it.

"You will never see it," replied Grace. "I looked into it and concluded
you were right; it would never do for that book to be found in our room.
I have destroyed it."

"Grace Chittenden," cried the girl, "I believe you pretended to have a
headache so you could stay in our room and read that book! I have a mind
to report you. What kind of a book was it? Tell me."

"Do you want me to corrupt you too, Mabel?" laughed Grace. "No; the book
is destroyed, and that ends it. It is not the kind of a book I thought
it was--not so horrid; but it makes one think. I am almost sorry I read
it."

That night Grace lay awake a long time thinking of Uncle Tom and Little
Eva, and more than once she sighed, "Tilly is right. Slavery is
wicked--wicked!"

Grace had been in school two years when the war opened. Even the
seclusion of a girl's boarding school could not help being penetrated by
the fierce excitement which swept through the whole country. The streets
were filled with marching troops. Many of the girls had brothers in
Frost's militia. Then Camp Jackson was taken.

Grace heard the distant firing, saw the surging mob in the streets, but
in the midst of the excitement her father came. He had hurried to the
city to take her home--to take her to the heart of the Ozarks, where he
hoped the red waves of war would never come.

Marion Chittenden was by nature fierce and combative, but the horror
from which he had fled had so changed him that it was only when some
great excitement moved him that his passions were aroused. He was a
strong partisan of the South and believed the North wholly wrong. It was
only his age and an injury that forbade protracted riding on horseback
that kept him from offering his services to the State.

Mr. Chittenden's fierce denunciation of the North alarmed Grace. What
would he say if he knew she was for the Union? She resolved to keep
still and say nothing. She noticed a large number of rough men calling
on her father, and a great number of secret consultations were held.

The first great shock came to Grace when one day her father said,
"Grace, I wish you would cease visiting Helen Osborne, and by all means
do not invite her here. I want no intercourse between the two families."

Grace opened her eyes in astonishment. "Why, father, what is the
matter?" she asked.

"Osborne is a sneaking Yankee, an abolitionist, and the old fool can't
keep his mouth shut."

"What difference should that make as far as Helen and I are concerned?"
asked Grace, her eyes flashing.

Surprised at the feeling his daughter showed, Mr. Chittenden said more
gently: "Grace, you do not understand, you do not realize the feeling
throughout the country. To be friendly with the Osbornes would bring
suspicion on me. Even your visits would be misconstrued. Do as I ask
you, Grace, for my sake."

She promised, though very reluctantly. More than once she resolved to
tell her father her true feelings, but shrank from the ordeal.

After that Grace did not leave the valley. Rough, uncouth men came to
visit her father more frequently than ever, and she heard enough to know
that the waves of war had rolled clear down to Springfield and that the
whole State was becoming a vast armed camp.

One day her father seemed much perturbed, and at last rode away in
company with several men. Grace noticed they were all armed. Feeling
alarmed as well as lonely, she resolved to take a ride. Ordering her
favorite horse saddled, she soon was galloping down the valley towards
the Osbornes. Why she took that direction she hardly knew. She rode as
near to the Osbornes as she thought prudent, and was about to turn back,
when she saw a great cloud of smoke arising.

"It must be the Osborne house," she exclaimed, and urged her horse
forward. When she came to where she could see she reined in her horse
and gazed at the scene in horror. Not only was Mr. Osborne's house in
flames, but his barn and outbuildings, as well as stacks of grain.

But it was not so much the fire as what else she saw that made her face
pale and her breath to come in gasps. A little apart from the fire stood
a group of men, and in their midst Mr. Osborne, with a rope around his
neck. His wife and daughter were clinging to him, and even from where
Grace was their shrieks and cries for mercy reached her ears. She took
one look, then struck her horse a sharp blow and, like a whirlwind, came
upon the scene. Astonished, the men stood like statues.

"You pretend to be men, I suppose," she cried, "and call this war.
Cowards! Poltroons! Murderers!"

[Illustration: "You pretend to be men and call this war!"]

Just then she caught sight of her father in the group. "You too!" she
gasped, and fell fainting from her horse.

When she came to she was in her father's arms, the men had gone, and
bending over her was Helen Osborne, bathing her face. She opened her
eyes and then, shuddering, closed them again. She had looked into the
face of a man stricken as unto death.

"Grace, Grace," he moaned, "another such look as that will kill me. You
do not understand. I was trying to save life, not take it."

A shiver went through her body, but she did not open her eyes nor
answer.

"Grace, hear me. I am not what you think. O God!"

"What did you say, father?" she whispered.

"That I was trying to save Mr. Osborne, not hang him."

Once more her eyes opened, but now they looked with love into her
father's face. "Thank God!" she murmured, and her arms went around his
neck. The strong man wept as he clasped her to his breast and kissed her
again and again.

"Take me home," she whispered weakly. "I feel, oh, so faint!"

On the invitation of Mr. Chittenden the Osbornes accompanied him. The
next day he sent them out of the country.

When Grace was strong enough to hear, her father told her all. Mr.
Osborne's pronounced Northern principles had made him very obnoxious to
those who sympathized with the South. "It was for this reason, Grace,"
he said, "I forbade your visiting Helen. Even a friendly intercourse
between you two would have brought suspicion on me. You cannot
understand the terrible feeling towards all Yankees and those who
sympathize with them. Mr. Osborne was repeatedly warned to leave the
country, but he paid no attention to the warnings. Instead, he became
active in giving information to the Federal authorities. Some time ago
it became known that he had sent to the Federal commander at Rolla the
name of every active Southern sympathizer in the country. My name was on
the list as one of the leaders.

"This was too much for the boys, and they decided on summary punishment,
but, knowing that I was opposed to extreme means, they tried to keep
what they were to do from me. I found it out and did all in my power to
save him, but a vote was taken, and it was decided he should be burned
out and then hanged. It was only your timely arrival that saved him. He
is well out of the country now, for which I am thankful."

Grace listened to his account in silence, then said: "I'm so glad,
father, you tried to save him. I thought--oh, I can't tell what I
thought, it was so dreadful."

She then seemed struggling with herself, as if she wanted to say
something and dared not.

"What is it, child?" asked Mr. Chittenden gently.

Looking at him with yearning eyes, she whispered, "Do you love me?"

"What a question, Grace! Better than my life! You should know that!"

"And will you let anything come between? Will you always love me, even
if I am not what you think?"

"Grace, what do you mean?" he cried, brokenly. A terrible suspicion came
to him that her mind was wandering, that the shock she had received had
unbalanced her reason.

"Father, I must tell you. I cannot think as you do. This war is
terrible, and I believe the South is all in the wrong."

Mr. Chittenden could only gasp his astonishment, then he commenced
laughing. "Is that all, Grace? I thought--well, it hardly matters what I
thought. It was unworthy of me. But what makes you think the South is
all wrong?"

"I do not know as I can make you understand, but, father--I hate
slavery! I think I was born with a love for freedom. I have drunk it in
from my childhood. This valley, the grand old hills around it, all speak
of freedom. La Belle murmurs it as her waters dance and sparkle on their
way to the sea. The wind in the trees sings of freedom, the birds warble
it."

"Grace, you are poetic; it is only these fancies that make you think as
you do."

"No, father. You know I love history, and you have some good histories
in your library. I have learned how slavery came into this country, how
it grew; and I also know something about what is called State Rights. I
believe the South claims any State has a perfect right to withdraw from
the Union at pleasure."

"Yes, the doctrine is true. We are no rebels."

"I can't believe it. To trample on the flag of our common country is
rebellion. Father, I love the starry flag. I carry it next my heart." To
her father's surprise, she put her hand in her bosom and drew forth a
tiny flag. "I made it, father, at school. While the other girls were
making Confederate flags, I made this one."

Mr. Chittenden could only say, "Thank God, you are not a boy."

"Father, you do not hate me?"

"No, child; I look at what you have said as only the foolish fancies of
a girl. You will laugh at them yourself when you are older. But, Grace,
let me ask you a question. According to your ideas I am a rebel. Does
that make you love me less?"

For answer she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. "No,
father, for you are doing what you think right. If you were in the army,
riding at the head of your regiment, I would be proud of you--pray for
you."

"Would to God that I could," cried Mr. Chittenden, "and, old as I am, I
would if it were not for this infernal rupture. But, Grace, I can never
forget that look you gave me when you thought I was one of the gang
about to hang Osborne. If I had been, would you still love me?" His
voice trembled as he asked the question.

The girl shivered and was silent for a moment, then said: "When--when I
thought you were, it was as if a dagger had pierced my heart. I believe
I would have died then and there if I had not learned differently. It
would have been my love for you that would have killed me. To think my
father was a mur----"

She did not finish the sentence. A look of anguish, of terror, came into
the father's face. He trembled like a leaf--what if his daughter knew
his past!

"What is it, father?" cried Grace in alarm.

With a tremendous effort Mr. Chittenden recovered his composure.
"Nothing now, Grace, but your words were so terrible. Don't say them
again, Grace. I--I would die if I lost my daughter's love."

"You never will, father. You are too good, too noble," and she drew his
head down and kissed him again and again.

Oh! the past! the past! How it stung that father as he felt his
daughter's pure kisses on his brow!

"Father, you are not angry with me, are you?" asked Grace, wondering at
his silence.

"No, darling; only, for my sake, keep your belief to yourself."

"For your sake I will be just as little a Yankee as possible," answered
Grace, smiling.



CHAPTER XVI

A WOUNDED CONFEDERATE


A few days after the battle of Pea Ridge there came riding into the
valley of La Belle a wounded Confederate soldier. He was mounted on a
raw-boned, emaciated horse that staggered as it walked. The rider seemed
as weak as the horse, for he swayed in the saddle as he rode, and the
bridle reins hung limp in his hands. The soldier's left arm was
supported by a dirty sling, and the front of his uniform, if uniform it
could be called, showed it had been soaked in blood.

The deep-set eyes of the soldier glowed with an unnatural fire, and he
was muttering to himself, as if in delirium.

Of his own accord, the horse turned up to the door of Mr. Chittenden's
house, and that gentleman came out just in time to catch the rider as he
reeled from the saddle.

[Illustration: To catch the rider as he reeled from the saddle.]

"He is about done for," he exclaimed as he ordered him carried in.
"Tilly," he called, "here is a patient for you."

The colored woman came running, and with her Grace, who looked at the
wan features of the soldier with piteous eyes. "Why, father, he's
nothing but a boy," she exclaimed. "Where did he come from?"

"A sorry-looking horse brought him here, is all I know," replied her
father.

A hasty examination showed a ball had gone through the muscles of his
left arm about half-way between the elbow and shoulder and then torn a
great jagged wound in the breast.

Tilly was a born nurse. The first thing she did was to turn to Grace and
say, "Now, Missy Grace, yo' jes go 'way an' leave this boy to me. Dis is
no place for a youn' lady."

The next time Grace saw the boy he was lying in a clean bed, his wounds
neatly dressed. His bloody uniform had disappeared and instead he had on
a soft white night-shirt. As Grace looked at him, so thin and pale, her
eyes filled with tears, and she murmured, "Poor boy! Poor boy! I wonder
if he has a mother." Then she turned to her father and asked, "Will he
get well?"

"I'm afraid not," answered Mr. Chittenden. "He is not only badly
wounded, but has a raging fever. I have sent for Doctor Hart. He will do
all he can for him."

Doctor Hart lived miles away, and it was not until the next day he
arrived. After examining the boy he said, "The wounds are bad, very bad.
Without the fever, I would say he had a chance, but now I can hold out
little hope. Who is he?"

"I know no more than you," replied Mr. Chittenden, and related how the
boy came.

"Strange, very strange!" said the Doctor. "These wounds have the
appearance of having been inflicted several days ago, and yet I have
heard of no fighting near by. Must have been shot in a brawl."

"There is the battle of Pea Ridge; you know we have just heard of it."

"Mercy, man! what are you talking about! It must be between one and two
hundred miles to where that battle was fought. I do not see how this boy
could have ridden ten miles with the wounds he has. He must be a spunky
chap, and I will do the best I can for him; but I reckon, Chittenden,
you will have a funeral on your hands in a day or two."

But the young soldier did not die, although it was Tilly's careful
nursing rather than the skill of the doctor that saved him.

For two days he tossed in delirium, and then the fever left him and he
began to mend. Tilly was assiduous in her attentions, and until he was
out of danger could hardly be persuaded to leave the bedside, even for
rest.

When the wounded soldier became well enough to talk he told his story to
Mr. Chittenden. He said his name was Mark Grafton, that his parents were
dead, and that he had no living relatives who cared for him. "I am all
alone in the world," he said, "and, Mr. Chittenden, if you had let me
die there would have been no one to weep."

"Are you as friendless as that?" asked Mr. Chittenden.

"As friendless as that! I am nothing but a poor private soldier,"
answered Mark.

He then went on and told how he had been with Price from the beginning,
how he had fought at Wilson Creek and Lexington and numerous other
engagements.

"But at Pea Ridge----" Mark stopped and sighed.

"Pea Ridge!" cried Mr. Chittenden. "Was it at Pea Ridge you received
your wounds?"

Mark nodded.

"And you rode all the distance from there here, wounded as you were? It
seems impossible."

"I reckon I must," said Mark; "but I remember little about it. It was
this way: We whipped them the first day; that is, Price's army did.
Before the battle, McCullough's men--and he had a larger army than
Price--made fun of our appearance and said they would show us how to
fight, but they ran like sheep, while we drove the Yankees before us. We
thought the victory ours. But with McCullough out of the way, the next
morning the whole Yankee army attacked us, and we had to retreat. The
retreat became a rout. I was wounded and left on the field for dead.
When I came to it was night and the stars were shining. I staggered to
my feet and was fortunate enough to catch a stray horse and, by taking a
defile through the hills, was able to get away. I stopped at a house and
had my wounds roughly dressed. It was reported that the Yankee cavalry
were scouring the country, picking up the fugitives, and, although I was
so weak from my wounds I could hardly stand, I determined to push on.
Then my head began to feel strange: I saw all sorts of things. From that
time until I came to and found myself here, I have no remembrance, how I
got here, or how long it was after the battle."

"The battle had been fought about two weeks when you put in an
appearance," said Mr. Chittenden.

"I must have stopped, and got some rest during that time," said Mark.
"But where--it's all a blank. I feel I owe my life to you, Mr.
Chittenden. Not many would be as kind to a poor friendless soldier as
you have been to me. I feel----"

"No thanks, my boy; you must stay with us until you get entirely well."

"I reckon I will have to," replied Mark, with a smile. "I don't feel
much like traveling."

There seemed to be something troubling Mark, and at last he asked Mr.
Chittenden what had become of the clothes he wore when he came.

"Burnt up, Mark."

Mark gave a convulsive start and looked as if he were going to faint.

"There, don't worry; I'll see you have much better ones; those you wore
were in awful condition," replied Mr. Chittenden.

"But--but what became of what was in the pockets?" Mark asked the
question with a visible effort to appear calm.

"All safe, nothing disturbed. I gave orders that nothing should be
touched until we saw whether you lived or died."

Mark looked relieved, but he only said: "There is nothing to worry
about; but I had a little money in my pockets, and it might have been
taken from me while I was wandering, not myself."

"We will see," said Mr. Chittenden, and he got the articles which had
been taken from Mark's clothing.

Mark hastily glanced them over and said, "It's all right. I am glad
there is money enough here to pay you, in part, for your trouble."

"None of that, Mark. I will throw you out of the house if you ever say
pay again. In fact, I would take it as an insult," said Mr. Chittenden.

Mark said no more, but, glancing over the articles, he abstracted two or
three papers, and handed the rest back to Mr. Chittenden, asking him to
keep them for him. No sooner was he gone than Mark called Tilly and
handed her the papers he had kept, asking her if she would not burn
them. "Don't let anyone see them, Tilly, and burn them right away."

"Dat what I will," said Tilly, taking them.

"And, Tilly, don't say anything about it to anyone."

"Honey boy kin trust Tilly," exclaimed the woman as she turned to hurry
away, highly pleased that she had been trusted with a secret errand.

"I can now rest easy," murmured Mark, as he closed his eyes and went to
sleep.

One day as Tilly was administering to his wants Mark said, "Tilly, I
don't know, but it seems as if I have seen you somewhere before, but for
the life of me I can't remember where."

"Dat is jes what I said 'bout yo', Marse Mark," cried Tilly, her face
brightening. "I said shorely I hev seen dat boy somewhar. It jes 'peared
to me that Tilly had held yo' in her arms some time, an' Tilly tuk yo'
to her ole heart right away, an' she grab yo' when de ole deth angel had
hole of yo', and she sed, 'Go 'way, ole deth angel, dis is mah boy,' an'
she tuk yo' right out of de clutches of dat ole deth angel, she did, an'
now yo' air mah boy."

Mark smiled as he said, "Yes, Tilly, I believe you did cheat the death
angel, and if anyone has a claim on me, you have. I shall always
remember you."

"An' Missy Grace, she helped too," cried Tilly. "Yo' mustn't forgit
Missy Grace."

"I shall never forget her," replied Mark, and there was more meaning in
his words than Tilly thought.

That night Mark lay thinking over what Tilly had said about holding him
in her arms, and suddenly he remembered. "She is right," he almost
sobbed. "She has held me in her arms, but she must never know."

At last the day came when Mark could sit in a chair on the porch and
look out over the beautiful valley and stately hills. The valley was
arrayed in all the freshness and loveliness of spring; La Belle was
murmuring her sweetest music.

"What a lovely valley you have here," he said to Mr. Chittenden. "One
should be perfectly happy here--so peaceful, so beautiful, so far
removed from the unrest and turmoil of the world."

"You talk like a philosopher, young man," replied Mr. Chittenden,
laughing. "Not many of the world would like it; the mass of mankind
prefer the rush and roar of the cities. There is little room for
ambition here. The world would never have grown to what it is if all
preferred to live as I do. Yet I would live nowhere else. Yes, it is
very quiet here, or was before the war."

"Has the war disturbed you much?" asked Mark.

"Yes, a great deal. As yet there has been no fighting nearer than
Frederickstown, but the hills are full of small guerrilla bands, I would
not be surprised to have a Federal cavalry force visit us any day. I try
to impress on the boys that it would be better if they were in the army
fighting, but few of them care to become regular soldiers."

Mark said no more, but sat apparently buried in deep thought.

It was not to be expected that Mark had remained at Mr. Chittenden's all
of this time without him and Grace becoming fast friends. Mark was so
different from what she had expected when he represented himself as a
poor, homeless private soldier, that it puzzled her. "There is a mystery
about him," she said to herself, "and I am going to find out what it is.
Whatever he is now, he was raised a gentleman."

As for Mark, he almost regretted he was getting well. The girl had come
to fill a large share of his thoughts. He had also learned some things
that surprised him. He had heard Grace and Tilly talk when he was lying,
as they thought, asleep, and he knew that Grace's heart was with the
North, and not the South, and that she hated slavery.

One day Tilly told Grace a story that caused every nerve in his body to
tingle, and he scarcely could keep from crying out.

Mark was very curious to know whether or not Mr. Chittenden was
cognizant of his daughter's heresy, and soon found that he was, but that
he looked upon it as a mere girlish whim.

As Mark grew stronger he and Mr. Chittenden grew very intimate, and he
never tired to hear Mark tell of how he had fought with Price at Wilson
Creek, at Lexington, and at Pea Ridge.

In turn he confided to Mark that his house was what might be called a
station between Missouri and Arkansas. The route through the valley of
La Belle was little known to Federals, and practically unguarded. It
touched no towns in their possession, and thus left an almost
uninterrupted gateway between the two States.

Mark soon noticed that a good many Confederate officers were making
their way north, and he learned that a gigantic conspiracy was on foot,
but, being only a private soldier, he was not taken into their
confidence.

One day there came to the house on his way north the same Colonel Clay
spoken of in our first chapter. He noticed and asked about Mark, and,
when told, exclaimed, "Remarkable! I would like to speak to him."

He made Mark tell him the whole story. Not only this, but by questioning
he learned that Mark had not only a keen knowledge of military affairs
but was wonderfully well informed as to the army.

"It's a shame you were kept in the ranks. You should be an officer,"
cried Clay.

"All can not be officers, and I was content to serve my country in the
most humble capacity," modestly replied Mark. "Alas! I am afraid I can
serve her no more." And he touched his wounded arm.

"I don't know about that," said Colonel Clay. "You may be able to serve
your country even in a greater capacity than you yet have. I have some
important documents which I would like to get into St. Louis to certain
parties. I will not deny that if you were caught with them on your
person it would be certain death; but I believe you are both brave and
shrewd."

"The boy is not able," spoke up Mr. Chittenden. "He has not been out of
bed more than a week. His wounds are not healed yet."

"So much the better," said Clay. "If he can ride, he can get through
where a well man can not."

"I will go. A man can die but once, and it is for my country." As Mark
said this his eyes fairly seemed to shine.

"Bravely spoken, my lad," cried Clay. "Would we had more like you!"

So it was arranged that Mark was to make the dangerous journey.

"Why do you do this, Mark?" asked Grace when he went to bid her
good-bye.

"It is for my country," answered Mark.

"You mean it is to help destroy your country. I despise the cause for
which you fight."

"Yes, I know; your father told me."

"You knew, and never let on?"

"Why should I?"

"Because father says I am a traitor to the South."

"Grace, if I never come back, remember that there is one who never will
despise you, believe what you will."

"Take it easy," said Clay to Mark as he started to ride away. "Don't
overtax your strength. Two or three days will not matter much."

Colonel Clay had liberally supplied Mark with money for the journey; in
fact, the Colonel seemed to have plenty of money.

"Clay, I don't like it. You should never have sent him," said Mr.
Chittenden. "I am afraid he never will live to see St. Louis, and I have
grown fond of the boy. We raised him, as it were, from the dead."

"Never fear," replied the Colonel. "The same grit that brought him here
will take him to St. Louis. If he dies after he gets there--well, it
won't matter much. His mission will be done, and it may mean the
redemption of the State. What is one life to that?"

Grace overheard the heartless remark, and a fierce anger seized her. It
was well the Colonel left the next day, for she resolutely refused to
serve him or sit at the same table with him.

The days passed. Two weeks passed, and then three, and Mark had not
returned. Grace grew restless, her father anxious, and Tilly kept
asking, "Whar is mah boy?"

But one day Mark appeared. He was riding slowly, so slowly, and his face
was flushed. It was seen the fever had him again.

"Help me off." His voice was almost a whisper.

He was helped off, and almost carried into the house, and it was some
weeks before he was able to leave it. "I do not regret the journey," he
said to Mr. Chittenden. "I was entirely successful in my mission, and I
rejoice that I was able to do something for my country, wounded as I
am."

During his convalescence this time, Grace was with him a good deal. She
sang and read to him, and Mark thought he never had heard a voice so
sweet. Even the hand of Tilly was not so gentle and soothing on his
fevered brow as was the hand of Grace.

By the first of August he had nearly recovered, but with August came
Colonel Clay, returning to the South. He was in a towering rage, for all
his planning had come to naught. The defeat of Porter at Moore's Mill,
and then his complete overthrow at Kirksville, the dispersion of
Poindexter's army, and his capture, ended all his hopes of capturing
Missouri by a partisan uprising.

But one hope remained to him--that the movement in Southwest Missouri
might be successful and Independence and Lexington captured. If so, the
blow must be struck, and struck quickly. It had been ordered, but
Colonel Clay was afraid it would not be struck quickly enough. Therefore
when he saw Mark his face brightened.

"Ah, my boy, I learned weeks ago that your mission was entirely
successful. You are a faithful courier, and I have another job for you."

"The one he had nearly proved the death of him," spoke up Mr.
Chittenden. "The hardships of the trip were too much for him, and he lay
for days with a return of the fever."

"He must go; I can trust no one else," cried Clay. "He is a soldier. I
command him."

"I need no commands. I will go," said Mark proudly, drawing himself up.

"That's the talk. I knew I could depend on you," replied Clay.

When Grace learned Mark was to go again, she solemnly assured him that
if he did and got the fever, he would have to look for someone else to
nurse him, but her voice trembled and tears gathered in her eyes as she
bade him good-bye.

As for Mark, he only said as he rode away, "God bless you, if I never
see you again."

After Mark had gone Colonel Clay apologized to Mr. Chittenden for
sending him, saying there were so few he could trust with so delicate a
mission. Then with an oath he exclaimed, "Chittenden, there is a traitor
somewhere. Schofield got hold of our entire plans in regard to this
uprising. If I only knew who it was." He brought his fist down with a
resounding blow on the table beside which they were sitting.

"Have you any suspicion?" asked Mr. Chittenden.

"No, it is some one high up, but I'll get him yet."

The next day Colonel Clay continued on his way to the south. In a few
days he had the satisfaction of hearing that Independence was taken and
Foster defeated. But a little later came the discouraging news that the
Confederate forces in Southwest Missouri were again in full retreat for
Arkansas.

This time Mark was not gone as long as before but he returned in a weak
and exhausted condition.

When Colonel Clay went away he left orders for Mark to join him in
Arkansas on his return.

"I shall do no such thing. He has no right to order me," exclaimed Mark.
"What I have done I have done of my own volition."

"Good for you, Mark," said Mr. Chittenden. "Stay right here and get
entirely well. Then you can help me, as I have some important orders to
fill for supplies for General Hindman."

"Thank you. You are very kind," replied Mark. "So kind that I am afraid
I shall trespass on your hospitality longer than is well." As he said
it, his eyes wandered over to where Grace was sitting.



CHAPTER XVII

TRAILING RED JERRY


Lawrence sat reading a letter. It was from Harry and told of his
adventures since their parting. It closed as follows: "Captain, I want
to come to you. Bruno and I are becoming too well known in this section.
Then it has been very quiet here since Porter and most of his men fled
south. I understand General McNeil and most of his force have been
ordered to Southeastern Missouri, so there is little here for me to do.
Try and get me transferred if you can. I have a mate now, a boy about my
age, by the name of Jack Harwood. He is a good one, and is crazy to come
with me. See if you can't get him transferred too."

Dan came in just as Lawrence finished reading the letter. "What do you
think of that, Dan?" asked Lawrence, handing it to him.

Dan read it. "Don't see what you can do for him when you can't keep me,"
said Dan, lugubriously. He had been in the dumps ever since he thought
that he and Lawrence might have to part.

"Cheer up, Dan," said Lawrence. "I have good news for you. General
Schofield finds so much requiring his attention that he will not be able
to take the field in person for some time yet. He has requested me to
take a force of fifty men and scout down through the Ozarks and then
make my way to General Blount in Northwest Arkansas. Of course, you will
go with me."

Dan was so excited that he took three chews of tobacco, one right after
the other.

"You can send for Harry now, can't you?" asked Dan.

"Yes, and to please him I will also ask for a transfer for that mate of
his. He must be a good one to have Harry like him so well."

Lawrence had no trouble in getting Harry Semans and Jack Harwood,
scouts, transferred to his command.

When the transfer came Harry was overjoyed, and lost no time in
reporting at Rolla, where Lawrence was organizing his company.

"Hello, you here already?" cried Lawrence, as Harry made his appearance.
"Mighty glad to see you and Bruno, too. How are you, old fellow?" and
Lawrence patted the dog's head and heartily shook the paw extended to
him.

"Here is Jack, Captain, you mustn't forget him," said Harry introducing
his companion.

"Ah! Jack, glad to meet you," said Lawrence so heartily and cheerily
that Jack's heart was at once won. "Anyone that Harry recommends needs
nothing more. You are more than welcome."

"I can never hope to equal Harry," replied Jack, modestly, "but where he
leads I can follow."

"The trouble is he wants to go ahead where there is danger," laughed
Harry.

"I reckon I will have to put leading strings on both of you," replied
Lawrence, with a smile.

Just as Lawrence was ready to start for the Ozarks he received a message
from General Schofield, saying that Red Jerry and his band were making a
great deal of trouble along the Osage; that he had lately surprised and
nearly annihilated a force of seventy-five men under a Captain Dunlay,
and that the victory had encouraged him to commit further excesses.

"Can't you go and teach him a lesson he won't forget, before you start
for the Ozarks?" asked the General.

"Here, what do you think of this, Dan?" asked Lawrence, handing the
message to his lieutenant.

"Let's go by all means," replied Dan, his face brightening. "I am just
aching to get a chance at that fellow."

"The same here," exclaimed Lawrence.

Hearing that Captain Dunlay, who had been in command of the force Red
Jerry had routed, was in Rolla, Lawrence hunted him up to learn all he
could of his whereabouts, and the supposed number of his band.

When Dunlay heard Lawrence was to go after Red Jerry with fifty men he
was astonished. "Captain," he exclaimed, "It's suicidal! Your force will
simply be exterminated. Red Jerry has at least two hundred men and they
fight like devils."

"Never mind the number of his men, or how they fight," said Lawrence.
"What I want to know is where I will be most likely to find him."

"I can tell you where I found him," snapped Dunlay, nettled at what
Lawrence had said, "and I wish you joy when you meet him."

"No offence, Captain," replied Lawrence. "Just tell me what you know
about his hiding places."

The Captain told all he knew, and when Lawrence thanked him and went
away, Dunlay turned to a brother officer standing by and remarked, "That
young popinjay will be wiser before many days."

The next morning Lawrence was on his way bright and early. It was not
until the afternoon of the second day that he began to hear anything of
Red Jerry. He then learned that he had attacked and was chasing a small
scouting party towards Versailles.

"Dan, we are in luck," said Lawrence. "Jerry will not be expecting a
force from this way, and we may meet him on the way back."

The meeting took place quicker than Lawrence expected. Towards evening
there came from the front the sound of several shots, and in a few
minutes Harry Semans, who was in command of the advance guard, came
galloping up.

"Guerrillas ahead, Captain," he reported.

"How many?"

"I only saw four, but I reckon there are more back. Bruno had hardly
given a warning of danger ahead when these four came around a bend in
the road at full gallop. They seemed surprised at seeing us, and after
firing one volley wheeled their horses and went tearing back. The boys
were eager to pursue, but I held them back, fearing an ambuscade."

"You did right, Harry. We have a wary foe to contend with, up to all
sorts of tricks. We can't be too careful."

Leaving the troop in charge of Dan, Lawrence rode forward with Harry to
where the advance had halted.

"Seen anyone since I left?" asked Harry.

"No, but that dog of yours acts mighty queer."

"Plenty of rebs around then? Hello! There's a couple."

Two horsemen had appeared around the bend. When they noticed they had
been discovered they halted and one of them, who was on a magnificent
gray horse, raised a field glass to his eyes.

"Don't fire, boys, the distance is too great and I want to look at
them," said Lawrence.

Lawrence took a look through his glasses and after a moment exclaimed,
"Jerry Alcorn, as I live, on that gray horse. The one with him is a
young fellow. Well, we have found the game we came after."

At the same time Jerry was saying to his companion, "I know that fellow,
Agnes.[15] Curse the luck. It's Lawrence Middleton. It's run now instead
of fight. Where in the world did he come from? and how did he get here?"

[Footnote 15: Jerry called his wife Agnes only when they were alone. At
other times she was known as Billy and called so by his men.]

"Don't let's run until we have to," replied Billy. "This Middleton is
the fellow who cut your command all to pieces last fall, is he not?"

"Yes, and the same one who run me out of St. Louis; but I hold no grudge
against him for that, for if he had not I never would have met you.
The ----"

This exclamation was caused by Lawrence and the advance guard charging
down upon them. Lawrence had come to the conclusion that the guerrillas
were surprised and totally unprepared for a fight. This was true. They
were returning from their pursuit of the scouting party and were strung
out a long distance along the road.

Wheeling their horses, Jerry and Billy rode madly back and after them
thundered Lawrence and the guard. When they turned the bend in the road
Lawrence saw a sight that made his heart thrill. On each side of the
road for over a mile there were open fields. Scattered along the road
for the whole distance was Jerry's band riding at leisure.

"Tell Dan to bring forward the whole troop at full gallop," shouted
Lawrence.

Eager for the fray the troopers came. Jerry saw his danger and was
wildly gesticulating for his men to turn back. They understood, and
wheeling their horses, in a moment were in full retreat.

The troop came up and the order "Charge" was given. Soon the hindmost of
the guerrillas and the foremost of the Federals began to exchange shots.
A guerrilla's horse went down, but the rider scrambled to his feet and
was over the fence and running like a deer when a carbine rang out and
he fell, all crumpled up, and lay still.

Lawrence saw one of his men reel and then fall forward, clutching his
horse's neck. Some of the guerrillas riding the fleetest horses formed a
rear guard, and taking advantage of every rise of ground would hold the
advance of the Federals back as long as possible.

The chase had continued some three miles, when the road became narrow
and lined with bushes on each side. Jerry saw his opportunity; he knew
the pursuit must be checked, or his whole band would be captured or
dispersed. As it was, he had already lost six or seven men. He dashed to
the head of the column and quickly gave orders. As the men passed him,
three would spring from their horses and disappear in the brush, the
fourth one riding on with the horses.

The road through the brush was a winding one, and Jerry was in hopes the
Federals might not see what was being done and ride into the trap.

Mounted men would have but little chance in that narrow road against an
enemy concealed in the brush. But Lawrence was not to be caught. He saw
the opportunity afforded for just such a move; not only this, but he
caught sight of the last of the guerrillas as they were disappearing in
the brush.

"Halt!" he ordered.

His men drew rein, wondering why they were halted. When the column
closed up, Lawrence ordered half of the men to dismount, form a skirmish
line on each side of the road and to advance cautiously.

This was done, and soon the crack of the carbines and revolvers showed
that the guerrillas had been aroused, and then the cheers of his men
told Lawrence the enemy were retreating. Jerry had failed to draw the
Federals into his trap, but he had saved his gang, for night was now
near at hand and it would have been madness for Lawrence to continue the
pursuit in the darkness.

Lawrence went into camp near a farmhouse, where he noticed there was
plenty of provender for the horses.

The house was tenanted by a woman and three children. At the sight of
the Yankees the children shrieked in terror and ran cowering behind
their mother, who tried to preserve a brave front, but could not conceal
her fears.

By questioning, Lawrence became convinced her husband was one of Jerry's
band, but he quieted her fears by saying, "There is no reason for you to
be alarmed. Your house will not be disturbed. I will see that no soldier
enters it. What feed the horses need I will take. I also see some fat
pigs. I shall let my men kill one. Some sweet potatoes may be dug and a
few chickens killed, but nothing will be taken that we do not actually
need, and nothing will be destroyed. But for all I know we may be
attacked. My advice is to go into the house, bar the door and keep
quiet."

Lawrence had had two men wounded in the _mêlée_ and they were as
tenderly cared for as possible.

The men were soon busy preparing supper, and chicken, fresh pork and
sweet potatoes added to their rations, made, as they thought, a banquet
fit for a king. All were in the highest spirits as they discussed the
incidents of the day.

"I tell you," said one, "that young Captain of ours is a good one. Not
many would have discovered that ambuscade, and we would have ridden
plumb into it."

In this they were all agreed, and when they saw the preparations that
Lawrence made to guard against a surprise at night they became
convinced, more than ever, that their Captain was all right.

As for the guerrillas, they felt when night came that they were safe;
but Red Jerry was wild with rage. As soon as he became convinced that
the pursuit was over he called a halt. If he wished, he could have been
miles away by morning, and out of all danger, but he did not wish. He
was burning for revenge. He detailed two of his best men to go back and
find where the Yankees camped and then report as soon as possible.
Runners were also sent out through the country to bring in all the men
they could. By morning he believed he could rally at least a hundred
men.

"They have not over fifty," said Jerry, as he discussed the matter with
his officers. "If we can't whip them we had better go out of business. I
will have revenge or die in the attempt. We will wait until Carter and
Holmes report, then lay our plans."

Lawrence, like Jerry, was not satisfied with what had been done. After
supper, when the men sat around discussing the results of the day, he
said nothing, but sat buried in thought.

"Why so glum, Captain?" asked Dan. "Has anything gone wrong?"

"Yes," replied Lawrence. "We have just scorched the guerrillas instead
of capturing or dispersing them, and by morning they will be miles away.
I look upon our expedition as a failure."

"Pardon me, Captain," spoke up Harry, "but I believe you are mistaken
when you say the guerrillas will be miles away in the morning. Instead,
I look for an attack tonight or in the morning."

"What makes you think so?" asked Lawrence.

"In the first place, from what you tell me of Red Jerry, I do not think
he is a man that will run away so easily. Then through that open country
he had a good opportunity to ascertain our strength. He knows as well as
you that we do not number over fifty. I took care to estimate his
strength and he has about eighty. By morning he will have a hundred.
Instead of running away, I am confident he is not over three miles from
us, laying plans as to how he can get his revenge."

"Do you really think so, Harry?" asked Lawrence, rising.

"I not only think so, but I am going to know so."

"But how?"

"By going to see. By tracking them to their lair."

"How many men will you need to go with you?" asked Lawrence.

"I want Jack only. Bruno, of course, will be one of the party. More
would be in the way. Come on, Jack."

"Aren't you going to take your horses?" cried Lawrence, seeing they were
making preparation to start away on foot.

"Horses are no use on this scout. I hope to sneak up on them."

"Harry, I hate to see you go," said Lawrence, with feeling.

"Poof! I have had many a more dangerous job than this, but if we are not
back by midnight, you may know something has happened. Come on, Jack."

The two boys and the dog were quickly swallowed up in the darkness. The
men watched them as they went, and shook their heads. "Cap oughtn't to
have let them go," said one.

"Don't worry," said Dan. "The boys can take care of themselves, and they
have Bruno."

It was well they had Bruno, for after going a mile the dog turned up a
road that crossed the one they were on. "We would have gone right on,"
said Harry. "It's funny how much more a dog knows about some things than
a man."

After following the cross-road a space they saw the dim lights of a
house ahead. They also became aware there were dogs on the place. Bruno
began to bristle up.

"Quiet, old boy, no fuss," said Harry.

Bruno obeyed and walked meekly by his side.

But the dogs of the house barked so furiously that two men came out.
Harry and Jack sought shelter in a clump of bushes by the roadside. It
was starlight and objects could be distinguished some distance away. The
dogs began leading the men directly to where Harry and Jack lay. With
revolvers in their hands, the boys waited. They knew a shot might
destroy the object of their scout, but saw no way out of it. Just at
this moment a rabbit scurried across the road, and the dogs, with yelps
of delight, took after it.

"Them blame dawgs," growled one of the men, "to make all that fuss over
a rabbit. But, Hicks, we 'uns might as well git our hosses an' be
goin'."

Just then two horsemen came galloping down the road. They halted at the
sight of the two men and one cried, "Why, Sloan and Hicks, what's up?
Why aren't you with Red Jerry?"

"Jes' goin' to start," said Sloan. "Whar hev' yo' uns been?"

"Watching the Yanks. We're on our way to report to Jerry. Hicks, the
Yanks are camped on your place."

"What's that? The Yanks camped on my place!" cried Hicks.

"Sure. Reckon you'll be short on fodder and pork and sweet 'taters by
morning."

"The ole woman and children?" gasped Hicks.

"Reckon they're all right, seeing their natural protector is not at
home. The Yanks won't hurt them. Git your hosses and come on. We've been
gone too long now. Jerry will give us the devil for not reporting
before."

As he was speaking horsemen were heard approaching from the other
direction, and in a moment Jerry and Billy rode up.

"Is that you, Stevens?" Jerry demanded angrily.

"Yes," was the hesitating reply.

"I have a notion to have you cashiered for dawdling along the road. You
know everything depends on your report. I've been waiting an hour."

Stevens was Jerry's lieutenant and he did not relish the idea of losing
his office.

"Captain, I came as quickly as I could," he responded meekly. "You told
us to make a thorough examination, and that took time. I arrived here
just a moment ago. Sloan halted me, saying his dogs were making a fuss.
Then he asked us to wait a minute; saying they would get their hosses
and come with us."

"Well, what did you find?"

"The Yanks have gone into camp on Hicks' farm. They seem to be making
free with Hicks' fodder, pigs and 'taters (here Hicks was heard to
groan), and it looks as if they intended to stay all night."

"What do you say, Billy? Shall we attack them there?" asked Jerry.

"Stevens saw how they were situated. Let's hear what he thinks."

"We might whip them, but it would be a costly job," answered Stevens.
"We had a taste of how they can fight this afternoon. My advice is to
let them alone tonight and they will think we have run entirely away.
When they are not attacked nor hear anything from us, they will move out
kind of careless."

"Then your idea is to attack them in the morning?" asked Jerry.

"Yes, and I know a capital place. It is where this road crosses the main
road. This side of the main road is covered with bushes for about two
hundred yards, then come clear fields. Along the edge of the fields the
ground descends this way. We can leave our horses in the field, the men
hide in the brush along the road, and when they come along we can
annihilate them with one volley."

"What do you think of the plan, Billy?" asked Jerry.

"It's all right. If it works well we ought to finish them without the
loss of a man. Even if they discover us, we will have the advantage of
position, and we have two men to their one. If we cannot whip them I
shall lose my confidence in you as a fighter."

"Well said, Billy. Tomorrow morning it is. I will never rest until I
leave the body of Lawrence Middleton swinging on a tree."

Then turning to his lieutenant, Jerry said, "As you know the ground,
Stevens, I will leave the details to you. See the troop is on the ground
by daylight. Mind you don't fail me."

Thus speaking, Jerry and Billy rode back and in a few moments were
followed by the other four.

As soon as the sound of their horses' hoofs died away, Harry drew a long
breath. "I say, Jack," he exclaimed, "this is a cinch. Got all we want
without half trying. Now to camp as quick as we can."

They started back on the run, but Bruno soon gave notice of danger and
they hid while four men passed them.

"Recruits for Jerry," said Harry. "He may have two hundred men by
morning."

When they came to the main road both were breathing heavily from their
run.

"Let's stop here a moment," panted Harry. "Here is where they propose to
ambush us, and a jolly good place it is for the job. But let's hurry on.
Cap can't learn of this too quick."

Again they started on the run, and did not stop until they were halted
by the picket guarding the road.



CHAPTER XVIII

LIVE--I CANNOT SHOOT YOU


"Back so soon!" cried Lawrence, grasping Harry's hand, as he came up.
"Thank God you are back safe!"

"Never had an easier job, did we, Jack?" laughed Harry. "Even Bruno is
ashamed of himself, it was so easy."

"And you found out what you were after?"

"Yes," and Harry told his story.

Lawrence and Dan listened in silence. "What do you think, Dan?" asked
Lawrence.

"I reckon it's fight or run. When Jerry finds he cannot surprise us, he
will attack us openly."

"I don't feel like running," said Lawrence.

"Well, I don't feel inclined that way myself," said Dan, resorting to
his tobacco box.

"Why can't we occupy that ambush ourselves?" spoke up Harry, "and let
Jerry be the one to be surprised."

"Didn't Jerry leave men on guard?" asked Lawrence, eagerly.

"No, but he may send guards there. If we think of occupying that ground
it must be done at once."

The proposition was eagerly discussed, but there were obstacles in the
way. Not only were there their own two wounded men, but they had picked
up and were caring for six wounded guerrillas. After a short discussion
it was decided to leave the camp in charge of ten men. If they were
attacked they were to take refuge in a log barn, and defend it until the
rest of the troop could come to their rescue.

Dan, much to his chagrin, was left in charge of the camp. "It's no use
kicking, Dan," said Lawrence. "I cannot risk going unless you stay, and
the boys left here would rebel if you did not stay." So Dan had to
remain, much as he wished a hand in the fray.

The ten men to remain were chosen, and the rest of the troop told to get
ready to move. "Be as quiet as possible," said Lawrence. "We have not
far to go; walk your horses, don't talk, and above all things, don't
allow your arms to rattle."

As silent as specters of the night the troop moved away, Harry, Jack,
and Bruno in advance to see if the coast was still clear. They reached
the cross roads without either seeing or hearing anything of the enemy.

"It's all right, Captain, so far," whispered Harry, as the head of the
troop came up, "but we must get into position as soon as possible, for
there is no knowing how soon some of the guerrillas may make their
appearance."

A hasty examination showed the position all that could be wished. The
troop rode up the cross road until the bushes were cleared, and then
filed into the open field. Here the men dismounted, and the horses were
led back into the brush, where they could easily be concealed. The men
then were placed in single line in the edge of the brush facing the open
field. A slight ridge in front protected them from observation.

Thus the preparations of Lawrence were exactly the reverse of what Jerry
had planned. In an incredibly short time the troop was in position.

"Now," said Harry, "Jack and I will hide in the brush close to where the
roads cross. If guards are sent there is where they will be stationed,
and I want to be close enough to hear what they say."

Order was given to maintain a strict silence and to molest no one
passing along either road.

It was well that all the preparations had been made expeditiously, for
hardly had Harry and Jack taken their position when horsemen were heard
approaching down the cross road, and soon the shadowy forms of four men
appeared.

They halted where the roads crossed and one said, "The orders are that
Brown and I stay here while Hayden, you and Singleton are to ride
towards the Yankee camp until you reach the rise where you can look down
the road to the camp. Don't go any nearer, for we don't want them to
know we are within forty miles of them. If the Yanks show signs of
moving, report immediately. Better have Singleton report every hour,
anyway."

"All right, Sergeant," replied Hayden. "You may be sure Singleton and I
will keep our eyes open." And they rode away.

The men left fell to talking.

"Mighty quiet," said one.

"Yes, but if everything goes right it won't be so quiet when the Yanks
move. Why, if the Yanks ride into the trap, we ought to kill every last
son of them at the first fire."

Harry and Jack lay chuckling as they listened.

In about an hour the man called Singleton came riding back. "The Yanks
are there yet," he reported, "but they are keeping mighty quiet. There's
a dim fire burning and we can catch the shadow of one once in a while.

"That's where Jerry wants them to stay. He was afraid they might take a
notion to light out during the night."

Singleton rode back and again all was quiet. The Federals lay sleeping,
their guns in their hands and revolvers by their sides. It would take
but a word to bring them to attention.

About four o'clock the trampling of horses told the guerrillas were
coming. In a whisper the word was passed and in an instant every man was
alert. But the guerrillas halted some distance from the main road and
only three rode forward. They were Jerry, Stevens and Billy.

"How is it, Sergeant?" asked Jerry as they came up.

"As quiet as a churchyard. Hayden and Singleton are down the road
watching if the Yanks move. I have Singleton report every hour. There he
comes now."

Singleton rode up. "The Yanks are beginning to stir," he reported. "They
are building fires, no doubt to make coffee. It makes my mouth water to
think of coffee."

"You men will have coffee enough before long, but there'll be a lot of
blood spilling first," said Jerry.

"Sergeant, what time was it when you reached this post?" he asked
suddenly.

"I should say somewhere near midnight," answered the Sergeant.

"Then the Yankees could have moved before you got here. Stevens, I
thought I told you to have this cross-roads guarded and the Yankee camp
watched as soon as we decided to attack. Slow, as usual. If this thing
goes wrong, you pay for it."

"You know, Captain, it was eleven o'clock before I received orders to
post the guard," said Stevens uneasily.

"Well, we have no time to lose now. Go back, have the force moved into
the field and see that instructions are carried out to the letter.
Sergeant, you call in your men and join the force."

While these orders were being carried out Jerry and Billy lingered a
minute looking over the field. "Couldn't be a better place for an
ambuscade," said Jerry. "If the Yanks ride into it, not a man will come
out alive."

"Hark!" suddenly exclaimed Billy.

"What is it?" asked Jerry, startled.

"I thought a heard a horse stamping."

"It's Hayden and Singleton coming in from guard."

"No, it was over there to the left, in the bushes. I'm sure I heard it."

Both gazed anxiously into the bushes, as if to pierce the secret they
contained.

Harry's heart stood still; was the ambuscade to be discovered at the
last minute? But the wind had risen, and nothing was heard but the
rustling of the leaves.

"I reckon you must have been mistaken," said Jerry.

"Perhaps," replied Billy, with a sigh. "Jerry, I don't know why, but I
feel as if everything is not right. You have told me so much about this
Lawrence Middleton that I am afraid."

"Afraid of what?"

"I don't know. What if he should discover this ambuscade?"

"I will fight him anyway. I now have over a hundred men and he has less
than fifty. It will mean some loss to us, but we will have no trouble in
beating him."

By this time Hayden and Singleton came up. They reported the Yankees
were still in camp, but showed signs of moving.

"We have no time to lose then," said Jerry.

The gray dawn was just breaking in the east when the guerrillas filed
into the field and formed their line.

"Move forward!" ordered Jerry, "until you nearly reach the crest of the
ridge, then halt and dismount, leaving the horses in charge of every
fourth man. The rest of you advance through the brush until you nearly
reach the road. Be sure you are well concealed. When the enemy comes
along take good aim at the man directly in front of you, and at the
command, fire. Let not a shot be fired until the command is given. Give
no quarter. Shoot the wounded as you come to them. But if you can
capture the Yankee captain alive do so. I will have my reckoning with
him afterwards. And it will be a reckoning that will make the devil
laugh."

Every word of this was heard by Lawrence and his men, and the men fairly
gnashed their teeth as they listened. It boded no good to the guerrillas
that fell into their hands.

The guerrillas moved forward until about seventy-five paces from the
waiting Federals. The order was given them to dismount, and the men not
holding the horses moved forward and formed into line.

Lawrence was going to wait until they were over the ridge, but before he
gave the order to advance, Lieutenant Stevens walked towards the bushes
as if to reconnoiter, and a few more steps would have taken him into the
midst of the Federals.

"Fire!" cried Lawrence.

The men sprang to their feet and poured in a crashing volley. Then with
a wild cheer, without waiting for orders, they sprang forward, revolvers
in hand, and sent a leaden hail into the demoralized mass. The effect
was awful; men and horses went down. Never was surprise more complete.

From out the struggling mass came the groans of the dying and the
shrieks of the wounded and terror-stricken. Horses reared and plunged,
trampling on the dead and living.

Many fled on foot across the fields, others mounting in wild haste
spurred their horses. But one thought filled the minds of all--to get
away from that awful place.

Lawrence had given orders for the men holding the horses to rush forward
at the first volley, so his men were almost as quickly mounted as the
guerrillas.

In vain did Jerry and Billy try to stem the tide and rally the men. They
were forced to join in the flight.

It now became a matter of single combat. Each trooper selected his
victim and pursued him until he surrendered, or was shot down fighting.
Those who had fled on foot were first overtaken and then those who had
the poorest mounts.

Lawrence passed several, but he gave them no heed. He had but one
thought, to find Jerry Alcorn. At last he saw him mounted on his
magnificent gray horse. He was shouting to the men to take to the
woods--to abandon their horses--to save themselves if possible.

Lawrence bore down upon him. Jerry saw him coming, and with a roar like
a cornered beast, turned to face him. He raised his revolver to fire,
but Lawrence was first and the revolver dropped. He was shot in the arm.
Defenceless, he wheeled his horse to fly. Again Lawrence fired. Jerry
reeled in his saddle, but gathered himself together and urged his horse
to greater speed. Close after him came Lawrence.

The chase was a wild one, continued for more than a mile. Lawrence had
now drawn his sword and a few bounds of his horse took him to Jerry's
side. "Surrender!" he cried with uplifted sword. "Surrender or die!"

Jerry turned to him, his face distorted with rage and fear. Blood was
dripping from his right hand. He had dropped the reins and was
struggling to draw a revolver from his right holster with his left hand.

"Surrender or I strike!" cried Lawrence, but before the blow could
descend he felt a sharp sting in the side and his horse plunged forward
and fell. Hardly had Lawrence touched the ground when he heard a voice
hiss, "Turn, so you may see who sends you to hell."

As if impelled by the voice, Lawrence turned his head and looked into
the blazing eyes of Billy. Her face was distorted with rage and hate.
Her horse stood almost over Lawrence and her revolver was pointed at his
breast.

[Illustration: Her revolver was pointed at his breast.]

But no sooner did her eyes meet Lawrence's than she gave a start of
surprise. A change came over her face and her hand trembled. The muzzle
of the revolver sank, was raised, but once more was lowered.

"You--you," she whispered hoarsely. "Oh, God! How can I take your life.
You tried to save my father. You pitied me. You--" A softer expression
came over her face. She seemed to forget where she was and she
whispered, "Then--then I was a girl, an innocent girl, but now--" her
voice rose to a shriek. "Now I am a devil; but live; I cannot shoot."

The sound of galloping horses was heard and shouts. Lawrence looked and
saw Harry and Jack almost onto them, their revolvers levelled on Billy.

"Great God! don't shoot!" he shouted; and to Billy, "Fly! Fly."

She sank her spurs into her horse and bending low over his neck was away
like an arrow, but no avenging bullet followed her.

In a moment Harry and Jack were at Lawrence's side and helped him to his
feet. "Captain, you're wounded," cried Harry. "Your side is all bloody."
He tore away the coat and shirt.

"Thank Heaven, it's not deep," he exclaimed, "but bleeds freely. How did
it happen?"

"I was about to cut down Red Jerry when I received this wound from
behind. The same shot must have struck my horse in the back of the head,
for he went down like a log."

"And the guerrilla who shot you was the same you told us not to shoot?"

"Yes. She was a woman and she spared my life. I will tell you all about
it, but not now."

It was noon before all the men returned from pursuing the guerrillas. Of
the band not more than thirty escaped, and most of these by taking to
the woods.

When Lawrence gathered his little troop together he found that three had
been killed and six wounded, three of them grievously. Of the
guerrillas, twenty-five had been slain outright, as many badly wounded,
and twenty prisoners had been taken.

Some of the men were for shooting the prisoners. "Red Jerry would not
have spared us," they exclaimed.

Lawrence immediately put an end to such talk. "If any of the men have
committed crimes that merit death," he said, "they should be convicted
by a court-martial. No soldier has a right to put a defenceless man to
death for revenge. Barbarity begets barbarity, while mercy appeals to
the hearts of the most depraved."

He then told them how his life had been spared by the dreaded wife of
Red Jerry.

There was no more talk of shooting the prisoners, and Lawrence noticed
that not one of them was insulted or treated brutally.

The Federals remained on the battlefield for three days, caring for the
wounded, and Lawrence had it given out that anyone who cared might come
to claim the dead or carry away the badly wounded without being
molested. The news spread and soon the camp was filled with weeping
women and wailing children. Even some men came when they found they
could do so safely. From the number of dead and wounded claimed,
Lawrence thought Jerry's band must have been made up principally from
the neighborhood.

At the end of three days Lawrence began his return march. A couple of
farm wagons were pressed into service to convey the wounded. With the
slightly wounded who were able to travel he took back with him thirty
prisoners and fifty-five horses.

Great was the rejoicing when Rolla was reached, and the success of the
expedition became known. Lawrence received a congratulatory message from
General Schofield, highly praising him. But there was one Federal
officer who did not congratulate Lawrence. Captain Dunlay felt too
mortified over his own failure.

Red Jerry still lived. Lawrence had wounded him not only in the arm, but
in the thigh. Secreted in the fastnesses of the hills, and tenderly
cared for by his wife, he nursed his wounds and thirsted for revenge.
Terrible were his imprecations against Lawrence and terrible would be
his revenge if ever he got him in his power.

It was fated that he and Lawrence should never meet again. Jerry lived
to organize another band and he became even more merciless than ever,
and by his side rode his wife, as merciless as he. But there was one
secret she never told her husband--that was, that she had spared the
life of Lawrence Middleton.



CHAPTER XIX

MARK HAS A RIVAL


It was in September when Mark returned from his last trip. He was so
thin and pale that Mr. Chittenden insisted on his taking a few weeks of
absolute rest. These weeks were the happiest, as well as the most
miserable, that Mark had ever spent. Happy because he was thrown
continually in the company of Grace, miserable because he felt a great
love springing up in his heart which must never be spoken.

A thousand times he resolved to flee. It would be so easy for him to go
on one of his secret missions and never return. But he kept putting off
the evil day; it was so near heaven to be near her, to see her every
day. He believed he would be content if he could only live as he was
always. In his imagination he had invested Grace with more than human
attributes, and worshipped her from afar, as he would some angelic
being.

Did Grace know the feeling Mark Grafton had for her? The eyes often
speak more eloquently than words, and Mark's eyes told her the story of
his devotion a hundred times a day. But this knowledge, instead of
drawing Grace to him, piqued her. If he loved her why did he remain
silent? In all the books she had read, lovers were not backward in
telling of their love. But after all, she was glad he was silent, for
she was doubtful of her father's approval, and there was that mystery
that hung over him, a mystery she had not solved as yet.

"Mark, you are deceiving us," she said boldly one day. "You are not what
you pretend to be."

Mark started, but soon recovered his composure. "What makes you think
so, Grace?" he asked quietly.

"Because you have represented yourself as a poor, friendless, private
soldier. Now, I know you were raised a gentleman. You need not deny it."

"Is that all? I thought--" he stopped.

"Thought what?" asked Grace.

"Nothing, only I am sorry you have such a poor opinion of me, Grace. In
saying I am poor and friendless I have not deceived you. I am as poor
and as friendless as I have represented."

"But in other things you are silent. You have never told me a word of
yourself, of your early life. You only say you are an orphan. Mark, you
are not what you pretend. You are holding back something, and I don't
like it. Mark, what is it? You can surely trust me as you would a
sister."

A look of pain came over Mark's face. "Grace, don't think evil of me,"
he faltered. "Think of me as a friend, a friend who would willingly die
for you, but never anything more than a friend."

He turned away and left her confused, confounded. She saw that he was
suffering, but she was angry. He had refused to confide in her. He had
even hinted she might think more of him than was wise.

That night as she lay in bed thinking of what he had said, tears of hot
anger filled her eyes, "Would die for me," she whispered, "but would
never be more than a friend. Who asked him to be more? He is nothing but
a presumptuous boy and should be punished." For the next two or three
days she was decidedly cool to Mark.

By the first of November Mark felt he had fully recovered his health,
and except for his arm he was as well as he ever would be. He told Mr.
Chittenden so, and that it was not right for him to stay longer. But Mr.
Chittenden asked him not to go, as he had some work he could help him
in. He had orders to gather all the provisions and forage possible. A
train was coming from Arkansas to get it. Then, some time in the month,
a body of recruits from the northern part of the State were expected.
Supplies must be gathered for them.

Mark promised to stay, but the change in Grace cut him to the heart. He
thought she was angry because he had refused to tell her his secret.
Little did he think he had uttered words which cut more deeply.

It was hard for Grace to think the cause of Mark's reticence was that he
had fled for committing some criminal act, but what else could it be?
She resolved more firmly than ever to discover his secret.

It is not to be supposed that such a girl as Grace had lived to be
nineteen years of age without admirers. There was not a young man in the
Ozarks but what would have been her slave if she had given him the least
encouragement, but she was such a lady, so far above them, that they
were content to worship from afar. They well knew they could be no mate
for her. But there was one exception, a young man called Thomas Hobson,
known as Big Tom.

Big Tom was a splendid specimen of the human animal, tall, broad
shouldered, thick chested, and he had the strength of a giant. If the
world had been looking for a perfect physical specimen of man it would
have found it in Big Tom. There was also an animal beauty about him that
captivated and charmed.

His magnificent body was all he had to recommend him. He was a bully by
nature, and used his great strength by imposing on others. He was
inordinately vain and conceited, and was continually boasting of his
prowess. He was thought brave, for no man in the Ozarks dared to stand
up against him in a fight, but at heart he was a coward.

During the first year of the war he was active in driving out and
maltreating Union men. Living quite a distance from Mr. Chittenden, he
had never seen Grace until the time she went to the rescue of Mr.
Osborne. He was one of the hanging party. When Grace so unexpectedly
appeared on the scene, her excitement and fierce wrath only heightened
her beauty, and Tom gazed at her in admiration. He had been one of the
most violent in demanding the death of Mr. Osborne, but now he suddenly
changed sides and demanded that he be let go.

Much to Grace's disgust he persisted in paying her attention, and at
length proposed. Much to his surprise he was not only refused but
refused with scorn and contempt. This aroused every evil passion of his
nature.

"You will regret this, Grace Chittenden," he cried furiously. "I 'spose
you reckon you be too good for me, but I will give you to understand
that there is not a gal in the Ozarks, except you, but would jump at the
chance to be my wife."

"Go and make one of them jump, then. I want none of you," replied Grace
sarcastically, as she slammed the door in his face, leaving him swearing
and cursing.

When Mr. Chittenden was informed of what had occurred he sent word to
Tom never to set foot on his premises again.

Mr. Chittenden was too big a man for even Tom to defy. But the affair
got out and Tom, when he was not present, became the butt of the county
over his presumption in aspiring to the daughter of Judge Chittenden.
Tom knew of the merriment it caused and his pride was so hurt that he
disappeared and was not heard of for over a year. In the fall of 1862 he
suddenly appeared in the Ozarks at the head of a band of guerrillas.

The band numbered about fifteen, and he concluded that with this force
he would show Judge Chittenden that he was not afraid of him, and that
he was as big a man as he was. Therefore, he rode boldly up to the
house. He was mounted on a magnificent horse, an immense plume floated
from his hat, and he was decked out in all the grandeur of a bandit
chief.

Mr. Chittenden was surprised, but concluded that under the circumstances
it was policy to treat him with courtesy. Tom had learned to be polite.
He did not mention past differences, or ask to see Grace. He had much to
say of his prowess in the field, and of the number of Yankees he had
killed, and boasted he held a commission as captain signed by General
Price. The main object of his visit seemed to be to impress on the Judge
his importance. When he learned Mr. Chittenden was engaged in gathering
supplies for the Confederate army he proffered his services to help,
which the Judge thought best to accept.

He became quite a frequent caller at the house, and as he did not force
his attentions on Grace, she thought it best to do nothing to anger him,
but saw as little of him as possible.

"Who is this fellow hanging around here?" asked Tom one day of Mr.
Chittenden.

"Do you mean Mark Grafton? He is a Confederate soldier who was cruelly
wounded at Pea Ridge, and found his way here. Since then he has rendered
valuable services as a courier."

Tom did not rest until he had learned all about Mark that he could, and
then growled: "A likely story. He never saw Pea Ridge; he was shot in
some brawl. He is simply hanging around here to try and work his way
into the good graces of your daughter. Look out for him. I have been
watching the fellow; he is a sneak."

"Please keep my daughter's name out of your conversation," replied Mr.
Chittenden, angrily, "or you and I will have a settlement. As for Mark,
he can take care of himself, and if you know when you are well off you
won't pick a quarrel with him."

"What! I skeered of that chap! Why, I could crush him with one finger.
But no offence, Mr. Chittenden, only you will find I am right."

From that time on Tom became insanely jealous of Mark. What Tom was
saying came to the ears of Mark, and a look came into his face which
boded no good to Tom.

One day Mark met Tom alone, and as he was about to pass him with a
scowling face and no recognition, Mark hailed him with, "Hold on,
Hobson, a word with you."

With a growl Tom wheeled his horse and as he did so his hand went to his
revolver.

"Hands up! None of that!" And Tom saw Mark had him covered. He also saw
a look in his eyes that made him tremble. Death lurked there.

"Tom Hobson, it's time you and I had a reckoning," said Mark. "I hear
you have been calling me a sneak and an impostor, but for that I care
nothing. I hear you have been linking my name with that of Miss
Chittenden. Now, I give you fair warning, if I ever hear of you taking
the name of that young lady on your foul lips I will shoot you like a
dog."

"So it's all settled between yo' uns?" Tom managed to stammer. "Beg
pardon, didn't know it had went that far." Looking into the muzzle of a
revolver made Tom very humble.

"Fool!" answered Mark. "Grace Chittenden is not for such as either you
or me. Neither of us is worthy to kiss the ground on which she walks.
Now ride away and don't look back. If you do you get a bullet."

Tom meekly did as he was bid, but in his heart there raged the passions
of a demon, and he swore Mark Grafton should die.

But what did Mark mean by saying Grace was for neither of them? Tom
pondered the question long. Light broke in upon him. It must mean that
Mark had proposed and been refused, and being jealous of him had taken
this way to scare him away. Perhaps Grace had been captivated by his
fine appearance after all, and was only waiting for him to propose.

Again was his vanity in the ascendency, and he resolved to propose at
the first opportunity. It came quicker than he had thought for. Near Mr.
Chittenden's house was a shady nook that overlooked the La Belle. It was
where the little river dashed and foamed and smote the rocks that would
bar its passage. Here Grace loved to sit and watch the conflict, and
here she was when Tom Hobson rode by. His heart gave a great bound, for
it was the first opportunity he had had of seeing and speaking to her
alone.

Reining in his horse, he dismounted, and making what he thought a most
courtly bow, he bade her good evening.

Grace arose, an angry flush on her face, and barely acknowledging his
greeting, turned to go.

Stepping in front of her he said, "Please don't go. I have been wanting
to speak to yo' un ever since I returned. Yo' un know what I told yo' un
when I went away. I'm of the same mind still, though I do be a capting
now, and expect to be a kernel befo' the war is over."

"Out of my way," exclaimed Grace, white with rage and trying to push
past him.

He caught her by the shoulder, "I reckon yo' un think that sneak of a
Mark Grafton loves yo' un, but he don't. He told me so," sneered Tom.

"You lie. Mark Grafton is a soldier and a gentleman and you are a
coward. Out of my way."

Her hand sought the bosom of her dress, but Tom did not notice. He was
white with rage.

"I'll hev' yo' un yet," he shouted. "All hell can't keep me from heven
yo'." He attempted to take her in his arms.

He drew back amazed. For the second time that afternoon he was looking
into the muzzle of a revolver, and the hand that held that revolver was
as firm and steady as the one that held the first.

[Illustration: He was looking into the muzzle of a revolver.]

"Mr. Hobson," said Grace, without a tremor in her voice, "if you do not
mount your horse and ride away before I count ten I shall kill you. One,
two--"

But Tom did not wait for her to finish; he sprang on his horse and
dashed away cursing.

About an hour later, as Mark was returning home, there came the report
of a rifle from a hillside and a ball tore away the crown of his hat.
All he could see was a little cloud of smoke on the mountain. Putting
spurs to his horse he was soon out of danger.

When he reached the house he found Mr. Chittenden in a towering passion.
He had just returned, and Grace was telling him of her encounter with
Big Tom.

"The wretch is too vile to live," he swore. "I will hunt him to earth,
if it takes me a year."

"I am with you," said Mark, showing his hat. "I got that only a few
moments ago, so you see I have an account to settle with him, too."

"Why should he shoot at you?" asked Mr. Chittenden, in astonishment.

"You must ask him," answered Mark, carelessly, but as he said it he
glanced at Grace. Her face was crimson, and then grew very pale. Had Big
Tom told the truth? Had Mark been talking about her to him?

That night it was agreed that the next day a posse should be organized
and Big Tom run down, but when morning came it was found Big Tom and his
gang had fled during the night.



CHAPTER XX

CAPTURING A TRAIN


It took Lawrence some little time to reorganize his troop, and to fill
the places of those who fell in the fight with Red Jerry.

At last all was ready and the start was made. To reach General Blunt by
the circuitous route he intended to take would mean a journey of nearly
four hundred miles, much of the way through a country not occupied by
Federal troops. The guerrilla bands infesting this country were small,
however, and he considered that with his fifty men he would be able to
cope with any force he might meet.

For subsistence he would have to depend on the country through which he
passed. He knew it was sparsely settled, but as his force was small, and
the corn crop had ripened, he believed neither his men nor horses would
suffer for food.

To Lawrence the mountain scenery was a continual source of delight. It
was November, and the leaves of the forest covering the mountain sides
and crowning their summits had been touched by the frost, and painted in
all colors of the rainbow. It was a magnificent panorama and on so
tremendous a scale that all the works of man seemed as nothing in
comparison.

Occasionally a small band of guerrillas was seen, but at sight of the
Federals they scurried into the hills and were soon lost to view. Only
one band attempted to show fight and they were quickly routed with one
killed and two wounded, left on the field. One of these stated that the
band was commanded by a man called Big Tom, who was wounded early in the
action, how badly he did not know.[16]

[Footnote 16: This wound prevented Big Tom for some months from carrying
out his contemplated revenge against the Chittendens.]

One day Lawrence stood on a hill overlooking the valley of La Belle. He
thought he had never gazed on so lovely a scene, and he wondered who it
was who had made his home in that peaceful valley. That it was a home of
refinement and luxury was apparent.

As he was looking, to his astonishment, what seemed to be an army came
pouring into the valley from the north. It was a motley army, without
uniforms, without banners and many without arms. Accompanying the army
was a long train composed of every kind of vehicle, from carriages to
farm wagons. There was no order in the march, everyone seemed to be
traveling as pleased him best.

For a moment Lawrence wondered what it could mean, and then he knew. He
had stumbled on the secret route through the Ozarks through which
recruits for the South passed. Before Lawrence started on his raid it
had been known for some time that numerous small bodies of guerrillas
had been gathering, and were making their way to some secret rendezvous,
from which they were to start to join Porter in Arkansas.

"How many do you suppose there are?" asked Lawrence of Dan.

"About four or five hundred, I should say."

"Do you think we can handle them?"

"Don't see any reason why we can't," drawled Dan. "Reckon half of them
will die of fright when they see us."

Arrangements were quickly made. They were to make a sudden dash and ride
the full length of the line, ordering those who had arms to give them
up.

Riding into the valley the troop, whooping and yelling like mad men,
suddenly dashed upon the unsuspecting recruits. If an army had fallen
from the sky they could not have been more astonished. Consternation
seized them, and many, leaving everything, fled for the hills, but the
greater part of them surrendered, begging for mercy. Not a shot was
fired. It was a bloodless victory.

The prisoners were gathered together; they numbered nearly four hundred.
Being deprived of all arms, they were powerless. What to do with them
was the question.

"The only thing we can do," said Lawrence, "is to parole them."

"And they will keep their parole just as long as we are in sight and no
longer," growled Dan.

"Can't help it. It's the only thing we can do."

The train was now thoroughly searched and many of the wagons were found
to contain cloth, boots and shoes, and a goodly quantity of powder and
shot. All such articles were destroyed and the wagons burnt. The
prisoners looked on sullenly.

Lawrence noticed there was a scarcity of provisions, and inquired what
it meant. One of the prisoners told him they were suffering from hunger,
but had been told they would find plenty of food here in the valley of
the La Belle. "We 'uns be jes' starvin'," said the prisoner.

"I will see what I can do," said Lawrence. "If there is food here you
will surely get it."

About this time Mr. Chittenden appeared. There had been great excitement
at the house when it was known that the Yankees were in the valley and
had succeeded in capturing the train. Mr. Chittenden feared that if it
became known that he had gathered supplies for the South, not only would
he be arrested, but his home and buildings burned.

"I reckon," he said to Grace, "that I will ride down and see what force
it is, and who is in command."

"Don't go, father," begged Grace. "You know what you have been doing."

"It is best, Grace. They may not find it out, and if they do, it won't
mend matters for me to stay here."

"But, father, you can take to the hills until they are gone."

"What! Leave you here unprotected? Never!"

"Where is Mark?" asked Grace. "I have not seen him for three or four
days."

"Gone off on some secret expedition. Said he might be gone several days.
Grace, I believe he is trailing Big Tom. He has an idea he will return
and wreak his vengeance on us."

Grace turned pale. "What! Mark gone, all alone?" she asked.

"Yes. Mark seems to prefer to go alone. I don't think we are in as much
danger from Big Tom as he thinks, but there is no telling. Some of these
guerrilla bands are nothing more or less than robbers, and they care
little whom they rob. But I must go now. Don't worry. I won't be long."

Mr. Chittenden was gone some two hours, and when he returned he did not
seem in the best of spirits. Grace had been anxiously waiting his
return.

"How is it, father?" she cried. "I thought I saw smoke."

"Yes, they have burned a great deal of the train," answered Mr.
Chittenden, gloomily. "The worst part of it is, it is only a small
scouting party that has done the mischief--not over fifty men--and they
have captured four hundred prisoners without firing a gun."

"That doesn't look as if one Southern man could whip ten Yankees,"
replied Grace, with a twinkle in her eyes.

"Grace, I believe you are glad that train was captured," said her
father, with more feeling than he had ever manifested toward her.

"I surely am," replied Grace, undaunted. "You well know I am for the
Union."

"Grace, beware! Don't trespass on my love for you too much. Perhaps you
will rejoice when I am arrested and dragged off to prison."

"You arrested! You dragged off to prison! Father, what do you mean?"
gasped Grace, now thoroughly alarmed.

"It means that your dear friends, the Yankees, have found out that I
have been gathering supplies for this train. The officer in command has
ordered me to turn over everything I have gathered, and threatened to
arrest me for being an agent of the South."

"What will be done with all the food and forage you have gathered? Will
it be destroyed?" asked Grace.

"No; not all of it, anyway. The captured men are without food and nearly
starving. They have been, or will be, paroled and turned back north.
They will be given the food for their return journey to Rolla, where
they have been ordered to report."

"Why, father, that is grand. The very ones will get the food that you
have gathered it for. The officer in command must be a gentleman. What
is he like?"

"He is young--not much more than a boy. He seems to know his business;
has perfect control over his men. Moreover, he has the appearance of a
gentleman. But you can see for yourself, Grace, for I have invited him
and his Lieutenant to take supper with us tonight. And--and, Grace, I
will not object to your making known your true sentiments. It may save
me from a Federal prison."

"Father, if they arrest you, they will have to arrest me, too. I will be
the worst rebel in the State. But, father, they won't arrest you. What
have you done?"

"What have I done, child? Has not this house been a rendezvous for those
passing to and fro between this State and Arkansas? Has not many a plot
been hatched right here? Grace, if everything were known, I should not
only be arrested, but this house would be burned and the valley rendered
desolate. I am afraid this young Captain knows more than he lets on. But
there he comes now, with a lot of wagons for the provisions."

The next two hours were busy ones. A detail of prisoners, under guard,
was made to load the wagons, and a herd of beef cattle was driven down.
The prisoners feasted that night as they had not in many a day. In fact,
many of them were not sorry that they had been made prisoners.

When Lawrence and Dan went to keep their engagement to dine with Mr.
Chittenden, they met with as cordial a reception as could be expected
under the circumstances. Mr. Chittenden was deeply chagrined over the
loss of the supplies he had gathered, but he concealed his
disappointment as much as possible.

The meal was all that could be desired. Tilly had surpassed herself. To
cook for Yankees was to her a new experience. They were the men who were
to free her race, and she looked upon them as almost divine beings.

Grace presided at the head of the table, and more than one glance did
Lawrence cast at the lovely girl.

"You have a beautiful home here, Mr. Chittenden," said Lawrence. "I
almost envy you. In the spring and summer it must be as near Arcadia as
one gets in this world. The scenery is magnificent. I never saw a more
beautiful sight than the mountains, covered with their flaming foliage."

"Yes, I like it," replied Mr. Chittenden. "I chanced on the valley many
years ago, while hunting, and resolved to make it my home. So wild and
unsettled was the country then, that for some years I had to get all my
supplies from St. Louis."

"What a mercy it is that the ravages of war so far have left it almost
untouched," answered Lawrence.

"You are the first Yankees who have favored us with a visit," replied
Mr. Chittenden, "and pardon me, but I trust you will be the last. But if
we are to be visited again, I hope it will be by your troop, Captain,
for, under the circumstances, you have been very kind. I hear fearful
stories of ravages committed in other parts of the State."

"Missouri certainly has had her share of the war," replied Lawrence,
"but it is the guerrilla warfare that has caused it. I trust you have
seen little of it here. Are there many Union men residing among these
hills?"

Mr. Chittenden hesitated, then replied: "We did have a few Union men in
these parts, but the sentiment was so strong against them that many of
them were forced to leave. I do not believe in guerrilla warfare, but am
powerless to prevent it."

"From the train I captured," said Lawrence, "I would say you were not a
stranger to Confederate troops; in fact, I have learned that this valley
is a gateway between Missouri and Arkansas, and that many of the
guerrillas we drive out of the northern and central part of the State
pass through here, and no doubt many pass back the same way."

Mr. Chittenden winced. "I cannot prevent Confederate troops passing
through here," he said, "any more than I can prevent you passing
through. I admit my heart is with the South, and I do what little I can
to help her; but I am sorry to say I have a traitor in my own
household--my daughter here."

"What! Your daughter?" cried Lawrence, in surprise, and he looked at
Grace with renewed interest.

"Yes, my daughter; she is heart and soul with you Yankees."

Grace was covered with confusion, and started to rise and leave the
table.

"Please don't go, Miss Chittenden," begged Lawrence. "Let me hear from
your lips that you love the flag of our common country."

"I hate to differ with father," said Grace, "but I do love the flag.
Born and living here as free as the birds of the air, I learned to love
freedom. I think this is a wicked, wicked war, waged to perpetuate
slavery and to destroy the Union. Father and I don't quarrel. He says I
am a girl, and it does not matter much what I believe. That may be; but
there is one Union flag still cherished in the Ozarks," and as she said
it she put her hand in her bosom and drew forth the little flag she had
made in St. Louis. "There is not a day," she continued, "that I don't go
out and hold it aloft, that it may be kissed by the winds of heaven, and
I pray the day will soon come when it will wave over a reunited
country."

Lawrence and Dan could hardly refrain from shouting aloud; even Mr.
Chittenden was surprised at the feeling Grace showed.

"There, Grace, that will do," he said, crossly. "Don't make----"

Lawrence stopped him. "Mr. Chittenden," he exclaimed, "I congratulate
you on having such a daughter, and you can be thankful that you have."

"I do not see why," answered Mr. Chittenden; "but I am thankful that
Grace has until now kept her opinions to herself. It would be rather
awkward for me to have it generally known."

Grace was excused, and the men, over their cigars, entered into a
general discussion of the war, and how it would terminate, Mr.
Chittenden holding that the independence of the South was already as
good as secured.

As they were about to go, Lawrence said: "Mr. Chittenden, you may think
it a poor return for your hospitality, but I came here tonight with the
full intention of arresting you."

Mr. Chittenden could only gasp, "What for?"

"Because you are a dangerous man to the cause I serve. I have learned
much while I have been here. Not only are you an agent of the
Confederate Government to gather supplies, but your house has been a
haven for some of the worst guerrillas which infest the State. Even the
infamous Porter found rest and shelter here when he fled South."

Mr. Chittenden stood pale and trembling, for he knew Lawrence was
speaking the truth; but he was thinking more of Grace than of himself.

"My God! what will become of my daughter, if I am dragged away to a
Federal prison?" he cried.

"Mr. Chittenden, do not fear," answered Lawrence. "I can never arrest
the father of such a girl as your daughter, and leave her unprotected.
She has saved you, and for her sake be more careful in the future."

"For her sake, I thank you; for myself, I have no apologies to make for
what I have done," Mr. Chittenden replied, somewhat haughtily. But in
his heart he was not sorry Grace had displayed that little flag.

"By Jove!" exclaimed Lawrence, when he and Dan were alone. "What a girl!
She is grand, and such a lady. Who would dream of finding such a girl in
the Ozarks? And she is as lovely as a picture--more beautiful than many
who reign as belles in St. Louis."

"Look here, Captain," said Dan, solemnly, "don't be falling in love with
every pretty face you see. What about that St. Louis girl you are always
getting letters from--Lola--confounded childish name--I think you call
her. And I've heard you rave about a certain Dorothy, with golden hair.
Let the girls alone; they are no good. I never knew a fellow in love who
was any good. They go around sighing and writing poetry and making
confounded idiots of themselves. I agree that Miss Chittenden is a
mighty good-looking girl; but how do you know she isn't fooling
us--shook that little flag in our faces to save her father?"

"Oh, Dan, Dan!" laughed Lawrence, "when it comes to girls, you are
incorrigible. Dan, tell the truth--were you ever in love?"

"If I ever was, thank God! I am over it," snapped Dan, as he took a chew
of tobacco.

Lawrence spent two days in the valley of the La Belle, paroling his
prisoners, and loading up their wagons with provisions and forage enough
to last to Rolla.

Lawrence started the train back to Rolla, and then bade farewell to the
lovely valley, which he left scathless; but for many days there remained
before his mental vision the image of the beautiful girl who was loyal
to the Union under such adverse circumstances.

All unknown to Lawrence, he had been gone from the valley but a few
hours when there came riding up from the South a Confederate cavalry
force of one hundred and fifty men, under the command of a Major Powell.
They had come to meet the recruits, and had with them a train of empty
wagons to take back what was left of the provisions and forage after the
recruits were supplied.

When Major Powell learned what had happened, and that all the provisions
and forage not given to the recruits had been destroyed, his rage knew
no bounds. He first ordered fifty of his men to pursue the train and
bring every man back. "Their paroles are not worth the paper they are
written on," he roared.

"I will not wait for you," he said to the Captain in command of the
fifty, "but shall pursue this audacious Captain Middleton. I will see
that not a man of his command gets out of the Ozarks alive."

"That will leave you only one hundred men for the pursuit, Major," said
the Captain.

"That is so; but you know we brought arms for one hundred. Call for
volunteers from the recruits. Tell them to take the best horses from the
train, and report as soon as possible."

The Captain in pursuit of the train had an easier task than he thought,
for he had not gone more than five miles when he met nearly two hundred
of the men returning, under the leadership of three or four men known as
desperate guerrillas. Hardly had the Federals left the train, when a
plot was formed to seize it. Nearly half the paroled men entered the
plot; those who refused were stripped of everything and sent on their
way, destitute.

This reinforcement, so much sooner than expected, greatly elated Major
Powell. A mountaineer explained he knew a shorter route than the one the
Federals were taking, and although they had several hours' start, he
could easily lead a force that could gain their front, and thus they
would be hemmed in between the two forces.

Major Powell quickly made his plans. A hundred men, under the command of
one of his most trusted officers, were sent to try and get ahead of the
Federals, while he, with a hundred more, would follow in quick pursuit.

About this time Mark Grafton appeared on the scene. He, too, brought
important news. Believing that Big Tom was contemplating a raid on Mr.
Chittenden, and that his sudden departure was only a blind to disarm
suspicion, Mark had disguised himself and followed the gang.

"I unearthed the most hellish plot," said Mark. "Big Tom and his gang
were to disguise themselves as Federals, raid the plantation of La
Belle, kill Mr. Chittenden and me, and carry off Grace, and force her
into a marriage with Big Tom. The plot was about to be carried out, when
the gang unexpectedly met the force under Captain Middleton, and was
routed. And we needn't fear anything from Big Tom for some time, as he
is badly wounded."

Mark, on his part, was greatly surprised to hear what had happened in
the valley while he was gone. "I would go with you," he said to Major
Powell, "but I have an important engagement I must keep. I hope you will
overtake and chastise those Yankees as they deserve."

"If I can overtake them, you may depend on it they will get the
chastisement," responded the Major, as he rode away.

Mark then related to Mr. Chittenden more fully what he had found out as
to Big Tom's plans, and added: "If I were you, Mr. Chittenden, I would
say nothing about this to Grace, for it might unnecessarily alarm her.
She is safe, at least, until Big Tom gets well. If I did not think so, I
would not rest until I had hunted the dog down. As it is, I must be
absent for a week or two, but not longer."

Mark waited until nightfall, and then he, too, rode away.



CHAPTER XXI

THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAINS


It was the second day after Lawrence had left the valley of La Belle,
and so far nothing of interest had occurred. Lawrence and Dan were
riding along side by side, when suddenly a stone struck in the road just
ahead of them, causing their horses to rear and plunge. The road ran
close to the bluff, and no doubt it was from the top of the bluff that
the stone was thrown.

A careful scrutiny of the bluff revealed nothing, and they were about to
ride on, when Lawrence suddenly exclaimed: "Hold on! there's a paper
wrapped around that stone." Springing from his horse, he secured the
paper. It proved to be a rude scrawl, telling them they were being
pursued by a hundred men, and that another hundred had been sent to head
them off.

"What do you think of that?" asked Lawrence, handing the scrawl to Dan.

Dan deciphered it, after some trouble, and then remarked: "A hoax,
probably."

"It's no hoax, Dan. We may as well be prepared."

"But where did the two hundred men come from?" asked Dan. "Even if those
fellows who were paroled turned back, they had no arms."

"It's a raiding party from the South, in all probability," answered
Lawrence, "and we left just in time to miss them."

"Whew! Why couldn't we have stayed a few hours longer?"

"What! And fought the two hundred?"

"Sure; we could have licked them easily."

"Well, I am not sorry we left. I am not aching for a fight against such
odds; but if they overtake us, we will show them what we can do. What
puzzles me is, who gave us the warning?"

"Give it up," said Dan.

Harry was now called, and told what had happened. "You take Jack and
Bruno and guard the rear. Don't let those fellows get close to us,
without our knowing it."

"No danger, as long as Bruno is alive," laughed Harry.

"What about the front?" asked Dan. "We may run into those fellows who
have gone to head us off."

"They haven't had time to head us off yet," said Lawrence, "and before
they meet us, I want to teach those fellows in the rear a lesson."

The horses began to show signs of weariness, and, coming to a settler's
cabin, around which grew a fine field of corn, Lawrence, concluded to
halt, rest and feed the horses, and allow the men to make some coffee.
There were some fine pigs running around, and two of these were
slaughtered. The owner of the corn and hogs made strenuous objections to
this appropriation of his property. He was a tall, gaunt mountaineer,
and his face showed that he was both cunning and crafty.

"Are you Union or Confed?" asked Lawrence.

After emptying his capacious mouth of an enormous quid of tobacco, he
drawled: "I don't know. Yo' uns be the first Yanks I hev seen. I allers
reckoned I was a Confed, but now that yo' uns hev tuk my cohn and hawgs,
I reckon I be Union. If I be Union, I get pay for my cohn and hawgs,
don't I?"

Laughing, Lawrence handed him ten dollars, saying, "I'll bet you a ten
against that one that you will be Confed before night. There's a band of
Confederate cavalry chasing us."

"Is thar? Then I won't bet," replied the fellow, grinning. "It's too
risky. They might p'int a gun at me, and make me yell for Jeff Davis."

"I reckon you wouldn't wait for the gun to be pointed before you
yelled," said Lawrence; "but you're welcome to the ten."

"Ought to be fifty," growled the fellow, as he turned and went into the
house, and they saw him no more.

That night Major Powell camped on his place, and made free with both his
corn and hogs, but he made no objection; neither did he hurrah for Jeff
Davis, for he was not there.

The Federals had not gone far from the cabin when the valley narrowed
down and the mountains arose steep and precipitous on each side.

"It's lucky," said Dan, "that these hills are not filled with
guerrillas, or they would be taking pot-shot at us. I will feel
safer----"

He did not finish the sentence, for there came the sharp crack of a
rifle from the hillside, and a piece of the crown of Dan's hat went
flying through the air. He pulled off his damaged headgear and, gazing
ruefully at it exclaimed: "A blame good hat spoiled; but my head is
safe."

"Charge the bluff!" shouted Lawrence; but there was no need of the
order. A half dozen troopers had already dismounted, and were scaling
the bluff to where a small wreath of smoke was seen curling. Before they
were half way up, there came the sound of another shot, but this time
the whiz of no ball was heard.

Soon the men reached the spot where the smoke had been seen, and their
exclamations of surprise were heard.

"What is it?" shouted Lawrence.

"Dead man up here. No signs of any live one."

"Well, look around sharp, and then come down," replied Lawrence.

The men soon returned, and told a strange story.

"We found," said the sergeant in charge, "whom do you think? Our friend
who sold us the corn and hogs. He was lying behind a rock; his gun,
loaded and cocked, was on the rock, and no doubt he was just going to
take another shot at us, when some one shot him through the head from
behind. He had just been shot, for the fresh blood was gushing from the
wound as we came up. But we neither saw nor could we find any trace of
the one who shot him. It's blame curious. I feel creepy. These mountains
must be haunted."

"If they are, the spirits who haunt them must be very friendly to us,"
said Lawrence; "but, as you say, it is a singular circumstance. I can't
make it out. Why doesn't the fellow show himself, if he is our friend?"

Many and various were the opinions expressed, but no satisfactory
solution was arrived at.

The day closed dark and gloomy; great clouds swept across the sky, and
the wind roared through the forest. It became so dark, and traveling so
difficult, that Lawrence decided to camp for the night, and risk the
chance of being overtaken. The place chosen to camp was a natural
amphitheater which ran back into the mountains. It was overhung by the
giant trees growing on the mountain.

Supper over, the men sat for some time around their little campfire,
talking over the events of the day; but gradually the camp became quiet,
and nothing was heard but the stamping of the horses and the roaring of
the wind.

It was nearly midnight when the soldiers were aroused, not by the guard,
but by Bruno, who came bounding into camp, growling fiercely, every hair
on his back erect. He was trembling violently, either from fear or
excitement.

"Why, what's the matter, Bruno?" cried Harry. "I never saw you act like
this before."

"I believe he is scared," said Lawrence. "Andrew Jackson! Bruno scared!"

"I never knew him to be scared," said Harry, "but I believe he is. See
how he trembles."

Before an investigation could be made, the horses began to rear and
plunge, and the sentinels called out they were breaking loose.

"See to the horses," shouted Lawrence.

The men were just in time, as several of the horses had broken their
halters. As it was, they had hard work to keep them from getting away.

"The horses are badly frightened. They are trembling like leaves," said
the men.

"It must be some wild animal," said Lawrence. "Men, stay by the horses;
Dan, Harry and I will investigate."

Lawrence took a burning brand from the fire, and all three, well armed,
started to find the cause of the trouble. Bruno at first hung back, but
when he saw Harry start, he followed; but it was noticed he kept close
to his master's side.

The dog kept looking to the cliff back of their encampment. A large tree
grew close to the cliff, and an animal could spring into it from the
cliff. Cautiously the three men advanced.

"See there," said Dan, pointing up in the tree.

Lawrence looked, and saw up in the tree what looked like two coals of
fire.

"Hold your brand where I can see the sights of my gun," whispered Dan.

Lawrence did so. Dan took a quick aim and fired. There came a terrible
scream, a crashing among the branches, and then a huge panther lay
struggling on the ground, tearing up the earth in his death agony.

Bruno seemed to have recovered from his fright, for he was about to
spring on the struggling animal, when Harry cried, "Back, Bruno, back!"

Still Bruno would have rushed to his fate if Lawrence had not struck him
a sharp rap over the nose with the burning brand.

At last the beast lay still.

"That was a good shot, Dan," said Lawrence. The ball had struck the
panther squarely between the eyes.

"What could have induced him to visit our camp?" asked Harry.

"The smell of the meat the boys roasted for supper," replied Dan. "You
know, we brought along some of those pigs we had for dinner."

Some of the soldiers insisted on skinning the beast and taking the skin
along as a trophy. As it was, there was little more sleep in the camp,
for the horses continued to be restless, and it was hard to keep them
quieted.

"The panther's mate may be around," said Dan. "It is well to be on the
lookout."

Bruno was of no more use, for he had become sulky and gone and lain
down. He could not understand that the blow Lawrence gave him had saved
his life.

If there was another panther around, he did not show himself, and at the
break of day the troop was once more on the way.

Along in the afternoon, Harry came rapidly riding from the rear, saying
the foremost of the pursuers had been sighted. Hardly had he made his
report when the faint sound of three or four shots was heard.

"Harry, you, with Dan and Bruno, now take the advance," commanded
Lawrence. "That is where we will have to look now for a surprise. Dan,
take command, and ride at a good pace. I, with ten men, will look to the
rear, and hold back the enemy."

"Why not stop and fight them?" grumbled Dan. "I don't like this idea of
running."

"Because I don't wish to have a battle here, if I can help it," replied
Lawrence. "If we fight, especially on anything like even terms, some of
the men will be sure to be killed or wounded. Think of leaving any of
the boys here in the mountains, wounded! It would be better for them to
be shot than left wounded, for they would be sure to be murdered by
guerrillas."

"Reckon you are right; but it is against my principles to run," sighed
Dan.

"Don't be downhearted, old fellow," laughed Lawrence. "I expect to give
them a fight; but I want to choose the ground and the manner of
fighting."

Dan's face brightened. "That's all right, Captain," he exclaimed. "I
might have known you were up to some of your tricks."

Lawrence now rode back to take charge of the rear. Major Powell, knowing
he had two men to Lawrence's one, eagerly pressed forward; but his
enthusiasm was a little cooled when his advance was driven back with a
loss of one killed and two wounded, and he began to be a little more
careful.

By taking advantage of every little inequality of ground, Lawrence was
able to hold the enemy well in check for some miles; but at length they
came to a place where the valley spread out, and flank movements were
easy, and it soon became a test of speed and endurance of the horses.

"This will never do," thought Lawrence. "I must find a place to stop and
fight them, and that soon."

Leaving the rear guard in charge of a sergeant, he rode rapidly to the
front.

"Horses getting winded," said Dan. "We will have to stop and fight."

"At the first favorable place, Dan. Tell the boys to keep up the pace a
little longer."

Lawrence now urged his horse to his utmost speed. He rode two or three
miles without finding a favorable place for an ambuscade, and was about
to halt and choose as good ground as possible and give battle. He had no
fears of the result--only that many of his men might be killed or
wounded. Just as he came to this conclusion, to his delight, he saw the
valley close in front of him. A great hill pushed into it, leaving only
a narrow gateway. Beyond this the valley turned, and the force would be
entirely concealed by the hill. It took Lawrence but a minute to form
his plan of battle. Just before the gateway was reached, the road ran
close to the base of the mountain, which was thickly wooded.

Dan, in command of the advance, now dashed up. "Captain, we must fight.
The horses are all in."

"Yes, Dan, it's fight now. Dismount your men, and have the horses taken
around that point, out of sight. One man can care for six horses.
Conceal the rest of your force in the brush along the base of the
mountain. Be quick. If I succeed in leading them into the trap, you will
know what to do." Thus saying, Lawrence clapped spurs to his horse, and
rode for the rear.

Lawrence found the rear guard hard pressed.

"Look out, Captain; they are flanking us, and you are in range," called
one of the men.

Just then three or four balls whizzed close to Lawrence's head. Wheeling
his horse, he shouted, "Follow me!" and the rear guard went down the
road as if in swift retreat. The enemy followed with wild cheers.

The rapid pursuit had strung out the Confederates, and Major Powell had
ridden back to hurry up the stragglers, leaving the advance in charge of
his senior captain. This officer, thinking the Yankees in full retreat,
and that he might gain some honor, pressed the pursuit with vigor.

Straight past where Dan and his men were concealed, Lawrence rode, but
he halted his little squad where the valley narrowed.

If the Confederates had not been so eager in the pursuit, they might
have seen the bushes tremble or caught the gleam of a gun barrel; but
they only had eyes for the flying Yankees. When they saw the Federals
had halted, they also halted, taking time to close up, and that was just
what Lawrence wanted.

Ordering his men to fire a volley, Lawrence again wheeled as if in
retreat.

"Forward!" shouted the Confederate captain. "Charge! Ride over them!"

Suddenly, from the side of the road, there came a crashing volley. The
destruction was awful; men and horses went down in heaps.

"Wheel and charge!" shouted Lawrence; and down on the terror-stricken
Confederates came Lawrence with his ten men. The panic became a rout.
The enemy thought only of getting away. In vain Major Powell tried to
stop his men; he, too, was borne back in the confusion.

Quickly as possible, Dan had the horses brought up, and he and his men
joined in the pursuit. For two miles it was kept up; then Lawrence
ordered a halt. He saw that Major Powell had succeeded in rallying some
of his men, and taken a position that could not be carried without loss.

All along the road lay dead and wounded men and horses, and where the
first volley was fired the road was filled with the dead and dying.

It was a sight that made Lawrence's heart ache; but he could not stop
even to give relief, for Harry and Jack came back with the startling
news that there was a large force in front, not more than three miles
away.

Lawrence rallied his men, and, to his intense relief, found he had only
three men slightly wounded. It was almost a bloodless victory. The
question was, what to do now. While debating, one of the men suddenly
exclaimed, "Look, there!"

On a rock on the mountain-side, some three hundred yards away, stood the
figure of an old man. A long white beard swept his breast, and he was
bent with age. He stood leaning on a staff, as if weary.

[Illustration: An old man leaning on a staff.]

When he saw he was seen, he beckoned for some one to come to him. Two or
three of the soldiers started, but he peremptorily waved them back.
Lawrence then started, and the old man stood still.

"Don't go, Captain," cried the men. "It may be a trap."

"I will be careful," replied Lawrence. "Shoot at the first sign of
treachery."

A dozen carbines covered the old man, but he did not seem to notice it.
When Lawrence was within about fifty yards of him, he motioned for him
to stop; then, in a high, cracked voice, exclaimed: "There is danger
ahead."

"I know it," replied Lawrence.

"A little ahead, close to that large tree, you will find a faint trail.
Take it. It will lead you over the mountain into another valley, where
you can go on your way in safety. Delay twenty minutes, and all will be
lost. Farewell."

The old man stepped from the rock and disappeared. Lawrence rushed to
where he had been standing. Nothing was to be seen. It was as if the
earth had swallowed him.

He returned and told what had happened, and the wonderment was great.

"No time to lose," exclaimed Lawrence. "I shall take his advice."

In single file, the men turned into the trail. The way was steep, but
not impassable, and soon the forest swallowed them up.

Not until they were over the mountain, was there any opportunity of
discussing the strange warning they had received.

"Can it be that old man has been our guardian angel all the time?" asked
Lawrence.

"Impossible," said Dan. "We received the first warning when we had
hardly left the valley of La Belle. We have come fast. How could that
old man have come over the mountains and got ahead of us?"

"And where did he go when he disappeared so suddenly?" asked one.

"And who shot the guerrilla?" questioned another.

"It's a secret only the mountains can tell. I have heard they were
haunted," said Dan.

"It's God's hand," said one of the men, a solemn, clerical-looking
fellow, whom the men called Preacher. Before he was a soldier, he had
been a Methodist class leader; and there was not a braver man in the
company.

Argue as they might, they could come to no conclusion. To them it was a
mystery that was never solved.

It was weeks before Lawrence fully knew of the danger from which the old
man had saved him. Captain Turner, in his swift ride to get ahead of
him, had fallen in with a scouting party of fifty Confederate cavalry;
not only this, but his force had been augmented by guerrillas until he
had fully two hundred men, well armed and mounted. Had Lawrence met this
force in the narrow valley, he could not have escaped defeat.

The horror and amazement of the advance guard of Turner's force may be
imagined when they came upon the scene of conflict. That the battle had
just been fought, was evident; the smoke of the conflict had not
entirely cleared from the field. What was more surprising, not an armed
man was in sight--neither Federal nor Confederate.

They listened, but could hear no sound of conflict. Captain Turner came
up. For a moment he gazed on the scene of carnage, and then cried:
"Great God! Major Powell ran into an ambuscade, and his force has been
annihilated. The dead are all our men. But where are the Yankees?"

"Doubtless in pursuit of the few of the Major's force that escaped,"
replied an officer.

"That is so," cried Turner. "Forward, men! Let our war-cry be: 'Powell
and Revenge!' Give no quarter! Let every one of the cursed Yankees die."

They rode nearly four miles before they came on to Major Powell and the
remnant of his force. They had continued falling back until they were
certain they were not pursued.

Of his hundred men, the Major had succeeded in rallying about forty. The
rest had been killed or wounded, or had fled. Some of them did not stop
until they reached the valley of La Belle, bringing with them the story
of the disaster, saying that of all of Powell's force they alone
escaped.

"Did you meet and exterminate the Yankees?" was the first question put
to Captain Turner by Major Powell.

"I have seen no Yankees," was the surprising answer.

Major Powell could only gasp, "Seen no Yankees?"

"No; not one."

"Then the mountains must have opened and swallowed them."

Full explanations were made, and the force returned to bury the dead and
care for the wounded. The only possible explanation they could make for
the disappearance of the Federals was that they had hid on the
mountain-side and let the force of Captain Turner pass, then come down
and resumed their flight.

As they debated, suddenly, above them, on the mountain-side, appeared
the figure of an old man, and his voice came down to them, loud and
shrill: "Woe, woe, woe to them who raise their hands against the flag of
their country!"

"Damn him! Fire!" shouted Turner.

A hundred rifles blazed. There came back to them a mocking laugh, and
the old man disappeared. The mountain was scoured, but not a trace of
him could be found.

A superstitious fear fell upon the whole force. The old man must have
been the devil, they argued, and he had helped the Yankees to escape.



CHAPTER XXII

MARK CONFESSES HIS LOVE


It was a day or two after the appearance of the fugitives from Powell's
force that Mark Grafton returned to the La Belle. He seemed tired and
careworn, but reported that his trip had been entirely successful.

When told of the disastrous defeat of Powell's force, he was astounded.
"Had I expected such a result," he exclaimed, "I would have gone with
him. Ran into an ambuscade, did he? I believe, if I had been with him, I
could have prevented that, for I am used to fighting just such fellows,
and am up to all their tricks."

"You seem to have a good opinion of yourself," remarked Grace, somewhat
sarcastically.

What she said, and the tone in which she said it, cut Mark to the heart.
"Your rebuke is just, Grace. No man should boast," he said, as he turned
away.

That night Mark lay thinking. That Grace had changed, he could plainly
see. It must be because he had refused to tell her his secret. "I must
go away, and never return," he sighed. "It is the only way. If I could
only stay near her, to see her every day, to be her slave, I would be
contented."

Then the thought of Big Tom came into his mind. He knew there was real
danger from that source. No one knew better than he what the guerrillas
of the State were fast becoming--bands of robbers that preyed on friend
and foe alike. He felt that Mr. Chittenden's being a Confederate would
not save him. To go away and leave Grace exposed to such a great danger
would be to him a torture.

Sleep did not visit him that night, and when morning came he was no
nearer a decision than he was the night before. He arose; white and
haggard. The lines in his face showed what he had suffered.

That night also seemed to have changed Grace. She came to him and,
holding out her hand, said: "Mark, I'm sorry I spoke as I did last
night. Forgive me." Then, looking at him, she cried: "Foolish boy! I
believe you took to heart what I said. Mark, did it hurt you so?"

"There is nothing to forgive, Grace," he replied, gently. "I passed a
restless night, but it was not what you said that caused it, but the
thought that I had already remained here too long; and yet it is hard to
go from those who are so kind to me."

"Why go at all?" asked Grace. "You belong here. Did we not bring you
back from the very brink of the grave? I have heard father say he wished
you would always remain. He has taken a great fancy to you."

A great light came into Mark's face. He took a step toward her, as if he
would clasp her in his arms. "Grace! Grace!" he cried, then stopped and
turned deadly pale.

"Mark, what is it? Are you sick?" asked Grace, anxiously.

"No; I did turn a little faint, but I am over it now. I will think over
what you said."

He did think it over, and came to the conclusion that he must go; for,
if he stayed, the time would come when he would have to confess his love
for Grace. He trembled when he realized how near he had come to telling
her. But it was not many hours before he was telling her.

A man came riding into the valley from the north. He was burning with
fever, and reeled from side to side in his saddle. He was lifted from
his horse, and carried into the house.

"I am afraid I am done for," he said, faintly, as he was gently placed
on a bed. "I was told I would find a crippled Confederate soldier here,
called Mark Grafton, who sometimes acts as the bearer of dispatches. Is
he here now?"

"He is," answered Mr. Chittenden.

"I must see him--see him before it is too late. I feel the hand of Death
upon me."

Mark was called, and the sick man, between gasps, told his story. He
said his name was Paul Dupont, and he was the bearer of important
dispatches to General Hindman. "I was sick at the time they asked me to
carry them, and tried to beg off, but they said the dispatches were so
important they could only be trusted to a brave and trusty man, and they
knew I was one. 'Carry them as far as Judge Chittenden's, on the La
Belle,' they said; 'then, if you are not able to go farther, deliver
them into the hands of a crippled Confederate soldier there, by the name
of Mark Grafton.' I can go no farther. The hand of Death is already on
me. You will find the dispatches sewed in the lining of my coat. Take
them and deliver them into the hands of General Hindman."

"To Hindman!" gasped Mark.

"Yes--don't fail!" whispered Dupont, as he sank back on his pillow,
exhausted. He closed his eyes; his breath came shorter and shorter, and
he soon passed away, without speaking again.

Mark stood as one confounded. A sacred trust had been committed to
him--one that took him where he never wished to go--into Arkansas. No
one except himself could realize the dangers that he would run.

When Mr. Chittenden heard of the dead man's request, he said: "Mark,
will you go? Those dispatches mean much; they may mean the redemption of
the State. But the danger--Mark, I hate to see you go."

Mark thought a moment, and then, drawing himself up to his full height,
his face set and determined, he answered: "I will go. It is a sacred
trust--it is for my country."

Mr. Chittenden and Mark searched the effects of the dead man, and found
the dispatches as stated. They also found he had about one hundred
dollars in Federal money and two thousand dollars in Confederate money
on his person. Among the papers found was a pass from General Hindman,
asking all good Confederates to aid the bearer all possible.

"No doubt Dupont was a trusty spy for General Hindman," said Mr.
Chittenden. "Mark, you are stepping into dangerous shoes; yet, if you
were my son, I should bid you go. As for the money, keep that; no doubt
it was given Dupont for expenses, and you are now in his place."

Mark's preparations were soon made, but the roll which he strapped
behind his saddle was much larger than he generally took. When he was
ready, he sought Grace, to say good-bye. She was not in the house, and
knew nothing of what had taken place.

He sought her in her favorite nook by the side of the La Belle, and
there he found her gazing pensively into the water. Mark thought there
was a look of sadness on her face. She looked up in surprise as he rode
up.

"Going away so soon?" she asked.

Dismounting, Mark hitched his horse, and, going up to her, said: "Yes,
Grace, I am going again, and on one of the most dangerous missions I
ever undertook. I have come to say good-bye. If I never see you again,
God bless you!"

The girl turned pale. "Why go, Mark, if it is so dangerous?"

"It is my duty."

"Mark, don't go!" Tears were gathering in her eyes.

He looked at her, his whole face eloquent with love. All the resolutions
he had made were forgotten.

"Grace, I must say what I have told myself a thousand times I would
never say. Grace, I love you--love you better than I do my own soul, and
because I so love you, it is better that I go away and never return."

"I don't understand," she murmured. "You said things the other day I
didn't understand, and you made me angry."

"Grace, you are fit to reign a queen in some palace. I am poor and
unknown. But it is not my poverty that has kept me from declaring my
love. It is because I am unworthy of you--because I have deceived you in
some things. Grace, I am not worthy to kiss the earth you tread on."

A death-like pallor came over the face of the girl. "Mark, for the love
of Heaven, tell me--tell me! Are you married, or have you committed some
heinous crime?"

"Married! Why, Grace, I never thought of love until I saw you. I knew
not what love was. Neither am I a criminal. Things are done in war that
would be criminal in times of peace."

"Then why do you say you are so unworthy? Mark, it's that terrible
secret you are keeping from me! Mark, tell me what it is?" She put her
hands on his shoulders, looking yearningly in his face.

Mark Grafton shook like a leaf. "Grace! Grace!" he cried, "don't tempt
me! You know not what you ask."

"Then you refuse to tell me?" She had taken her hands from his
shoulders; there was an angry flush on her cheeks.

"I can't, Grace! Oh, God! if I could!"

"Go!" she said. "For once, you have told the truth, when you said you
were not worthy of me. All the rest you have said are lies--lies. You
love me, you say, better than your own soul, and yet you refuse to tell
me what it is that would keep me from you. If you loved me, you would
trust me, confide in me. By your actions you have shown yourself
unworthy of the love of any true woman. I have loved you as a
sister--nothing more--but even that love is gone now. Go! I never want
to see you again," and she turned from him.

A moment Mark stood; then he said, gently: "Grace, good-bye. It is best
that you feel as you do, for I now know that it is only I who will
suffer. I love you, Grace, and always will, but it will be a pure, a
holy love. Nothing you can say or do can take from me the blessed
privilege of loving you. Grace, will you not say good-bye?" No answer.

Mark turned wearily, and mounted his horse. As the sound of the horse's
hoofs came to her, Grace started as if from a dream. She looked. He was
already riding away. She rushed toward him, with outstretched arms.

"Mark! Mark! Come back!" she cried. "It was I that lied. I love you! I
love you!"

He did not hear, or, if he heard, did not heed, for he rode on without
looking back. She watched until he had disappeared in the distance;
then, pressing her hands to her heart, sank down. The wind rustled
through the trees, and sent a shower of withered leaves down upon her.

"Like my hopes," she murmured, "withered and dying; yet, even in death,
they are beautiful!"

She noticed the imprint of Mark's foot where he had stood when he
declared his love. A leaf, all orange and gold, with a splash of red in
the center, had fallen and half concealed the imprint. She stooped and
picked it up.

"He said he was not worthy to kiss the earth on which I tread," she
whispered, and she pressed the leaf to her lips; then, with a shudder,
she threw it from her, for she noticed her lips had touched the splash
of red, which to her looked like blood.



CHAPTER XXIII

INTO THE LION'S MOUTH


For a few miles after leaving Grace, Mark rode as if pursued by an
enemy. Wild thoughts rushed through his mind; but at length he became
calmer.

"No, no," he soliloquized, "I cannot leave Grace to the vengeance of
Hobson, and I am sure he will seek vengeance as soon as he recovers from
his wound. But am I not leaving her? Well do I realize the danger I am
running. It is doubtful if I ever come back. An ignominious death may
await me. I have put duty above love. But, Grace, if I live, my duty,
after this, will be to guard and protect you. Unseen and unknown, I will
be near you. To see you from afar will be heaven."

Mark soon halted by a pool of clear water, and undid the roll behind his
saddle, from which he took various articles. Soon no one would have
known him as the young man who had ridden away from the La Belle. He
looked ten years older; the color of his hair was changed, and a fine
mustache adorned his upper lip.

He studied his face for a while as he leaned over the clear water. "It
will do," he said. "But what if I meet Colonel Clay?"

For three days after that Mark rode without an adventure, but on the
fourth day he was chased by a squad of Federal cavalry. A lucky shot
killed the horse of his foremost pursuer, and he escaped. Skirting the
flank of the Federal army, he reached the headquarters of General
Hindman at Van Buren, on the Arkansas River.

Here, behind the Boston Mountains, Hindman had gathered an army
estimated at from twenty to thirty thousand men. Opposed to him was
General Blunt, with an army of not over seven or eight thousand men.
Hindman thought that by a swift movement he could crush Blunt before he
could be reinforced, and then, meeting any reinforcements which might be
marching to his relief, whip them in detail, thus wresting Missouri from
the grasp of the Federals.

He was now only waiting dispatches from Missouri informing him of the
number and position of the Federal troops in the State, and the number
of recruits he could reasonably expect to join him, once in the State,
and where.

It was these dispatches that Mark Grafton was carrying. If captured with
them, Mark well knew what his fate would be. There were other reasons,
known only to himself, which made it extremely perilous for him to enter
the Confederate lines.

It was late in the afternoon when Mark was challenged by the outposts of
the Confederate army. He stated that he was a courier from Missouri,
with important dispatches for General Hindman, and demanded that he be
conducted to headquarters at once. It was dark before headquarters were
reached, but Mark was granted an immediate audience with the General.

"What is your name?" asked the General, as Mark handed him the
dispatches.

"Grafton--Mark Grafton."

"I was expecting dispatches, important ones, but from another source. I
wonder what these can be?"

He opened them and, glancing at them, exclaimed: "Why, these are the
very dispatches I was looking for! I expected them to be delivered by a
man named Dupont. How did you come by them?"

"Dupont is dead," replied Mark, solemnly.

"Dupont dead! Great God! How did he die? Was he captured?"

"No." Mark told the full particulars of Dupont's death, and how in his
dying moments he had committed the dispatches to him.

"Poor Dupont!" sighed Hindman. "He was my most trusted spy, and he died
in the discharge of his duty."

Then, scrutinizing Mark closely, he said: "You have made good time in
coming from Chittenden's. Have any trouble?"

"Only once. I put one Yankee cavalryman out of commission."

"Good! How would you like to take Dupont's place?" asked Hindman,
abruptly.

"General, I would make a poor spy. I could be identified too easily,"
and Mark touched his crippled arm.

"Where did you get that?"

"In one of the little partisan battles in Missouri," answered Mark,
without hesitation.

"I am sorry," answered Hindman. "I wished to send some dispatches back
with you."

"I can take them," promptly answered Mark. "And, if you wish, I can act
as dispatch-bearer for you in Missouri. I am well acquainted in the
State, and am known to most of the guerrilla leaders. It is through them
I receive and deliver my dispatches. I am careful never to enter a
Federal camp. I am at present staying at Chittenden's, and will
cheerfully execute any commission you may send me. I have carried
dispatches for Colonel Clay several times."

"Just the thing. Consider yourself engaged," cried the General. "I
recall now that I have heard Colonel Clay speak of you. I am sorry the
Colonel is away on special duty."

Mark was not the least bit sorry, but his looks did not show it. Clay
would not have known him in his disguise, and would have denounced him
as an impostor.

"General, one thing more," said Mark. "Mr. Chittenden, in looking over
the effects of Dupont, found several little trinkets that his family
might wish to have. There was also one hundred dollars in Federal money
and two thousand dollars in Confederate money on his person. Here is
everything."

"You can keep the Federal money. The Confederate will be of little use
to you in Missouri. Here is another one hundred in Federal money, but
remember this money is a sacred trust, and only to be used for expenses
when on business for the Confederacy."

"It will be so considered," said Mark as he took the money. "General,
will it be possible for you to have your dispatches ready by morning.
Mr. Chittenden wished me to get back as quickly as possible. He is in
trouble."

"Trouble? What trouble?"

"Why, haven't you heard? The valley of the La Belle has been raided by a
force of Federals, the provisions and forage he had gathered captured,
and four or five hundred recruits coming from the central and northern
part of the State taken prisoners and paroled."

"I had not heard of it," said the General, greatly excited. "When did it
happen?"

"Only a few days before I left. But that is not all. Just as the
Federals left, Major Powell came up from Arkansas with a train to get
the provisions and forage and escort the recruits. He pursued the
Federals, but fell into an ambuscade and his command was cut to pieces."

"Do you know who commanded the Federals?"

"Yes, a Captain Lawrence Middleton."

"The devil! He had much to do with frustrating our plans last summer."

"Yes, and but a few weeks ago he almost annihilated the band of Red
Jerry. We are trying to lay plans to capture him."

"Well, this is bad news, but we will try and turn the tables before many
days. I will have my dispatches ready by morning. Make yourself
comfortable until then." With a wave of the hand the General dismissed
him.

The next morning Mark called early for the dispatches and found the
General in close conversation with a thick, heavy-set man whose face
showed both courage and determination. When Mark saw him he gave a
start. "I know you, my friend," he thought, "and it will be an
unfortunate thing for me if you recognize me."

"Ah, Grafton, is that you?" said the General. "Glad to see you. Allow me
to make you acquainted with Mr. Spencer. Spencer, this is the young man
I was telling you about. Grafton, Spencer is now my most trusted spy,
since Dupont is gone. He will ride part way with you."

Mark extended his hand cordially, but there was no warmth or cordiality
in the hand that Spencer gave him. Instead, he looked as if he would
read the inmost thoughts of Mark's soul, but Mark met his gaze steadily
and coolly, as if he did not know his life was hanging in the balance.

At length Spencer said, "Glad to meet you, Grafton. Excuse me for
scrutinizing you so closely, but we are in the same business, and as I
may have you for a companion sometime, I like to measure my man before I
tie to him."

"Well, how do I measure?" asked Mark, with a smile.

"I reckon you will do."

"I trust so," rejoined Mark. "But you made a mistake in saying I was in
the same business. I don't believe I have nerve enough to be a spy. I am
simply a courier, and carry what others have gathered. It takes nerve to
penetrate the enemy's camp. Nerve such as you have, Spencer."

Spencer's face lit up with a smile. "You rate me too highly, Grafton,"
he answered. "But I certainly have been in some tight places, and I
reckon you could relate some startling adventures if you would."

Mark had been handed his dispatches, and was about to depart when
General Frost was announced.

"Hold on a minute," said Hindman. "General Frost may have some word he
would like to send."

"Sending a courier into Missouri?" asked Frost.

"Yes, the same young man who brought those dispatches last night, that
Dupont should have brought. I am sorry to say Dupont is dead."

"Dead! Dupont dead! Did the Yankees get him?"

"No, he died of the fever. He arrived at Chittenden's in a dying
condition and gave his dispatches to Grafton to bring on."

"Grafton? I think I have heard that name from Colonel Clay. Happy to
meet you, Grafton. Let me hear the news from Missouri."

Much against his will Mark was forced to remain and again rehearse his
story. When he told of the capture of the train and the defeat of
Powell, Frost became very much excited.

"What Federal officer did you say was in command?" he asked.

"I didn't say, but I understood it was a Captain Middleton."

Frost sprang to his feet, letting out a volley of oaths.

"Where were you when this happened?" he then asked.

"I was absent from the valley. I was helping Mr. Chittenden in gathering
supplies, and was away seeing about some that had not yet arrived."

Mark was now excused, but told to wait for Spencer. General Frost had
taken him aside and they were engaged in earnest conversation. Every now
and then they would glance at Mark, and he was sure they were talking
about him. If he had heard what they were saying he would have known he
was under suspicion.

"It can't be he," Frost was saying, "but every now and then there is
something about him that makes me think of him. I hardly know what;
certain motions, I think."

"I knew him well," answered Spencer, "and so far I have not seen
anything that would make me think Grafton was he. I am to ride with him
nearly a day's journey, and if I see anything suspicious--well you know
what will happen."

All being ready the two rode away together. They had not gone far when
Mark noticed that Spencer was watching every move he made. Instantly
every nerve of Mark's body became alert, but to all appearances he was
totally unsuspicious. To Spencer's request that he tell him something of
his life, he responded that he did not have much to tell. He had been a
member of a guerrilla band, was wounded and had found his way into the
Ozarks, where he had been with Mr. Chittenden, who took him in when he
was suffering with the fever. He had acted as courier for Colonel Clay,
but had never met with many exciting adventures.

"Now, Spencer," he said, "tell me something of yourself, for I know you
have faced a hundred dangers where I have faced one."

Spencer refused to be interviewed, and maintained a rather moody
silence. At length they reached where they were to part and when they
shook hands Spencer, as if by accident, drew the sleeve of his coat
across Mark's face and his mustache came off.

"Damn you! I know you now," shrieked Spencer as he reached for his
revolver, but quick as a flash Mark snatched a revolver from his bosom
and fired.

Spencer's revolver went off half raised. He sank down in the saddle,
then rolled from his horse, a motionless body.

Mark was about to dismount to see if he was dead when he was startled by
the pounding of horses' hoofs and looking up saw a squad of Federal
cavalry bearing down on him. Putting spurs to his horse and bending low
over his neck he escaped amid a shower of bullets.

The only mark of the conflict that Mark could find was a bullet which
had lodged in the back of his saddle.

After riding several miles, Mark met half a dozen guerrillas who said
they were on their way to join Hindman. He told them of meeting the
Yankee cavalry and that they would have to look out, and asked them to
take a note to General Hindman for him. To this they readily assented
and this is what Mark wrote:

     GENERAL: I am sorry to say that just as Spencer and I were to
     part we ran into a squad of Yankee cavalry. Poor Spencer was
     killed and I only escaped by the fleetness of my horse. If
     Spencer had dispatches that will embarrass you, you can govern
     yourself accordingly, for they are now in the hands of the
     enemy.

     As for the dispatches you entrusted to me, they are safe, and
     if they are never delivered you will know I have suffered the
     fate of poor Spencer.

     MARK GRAFTON.

After parting from the guerrillas Mark, instead of riding towards home,
turned his horse westward. In due time General Hindman learned that the
dispatches he had entrusted to Mark had been faithfully delivered, but
that Mark had disappeared. Mr. Chittenden looked for his return to the
La Belle in vain.

General Hindman made anxious inquiries, for he had use for so faithful a
courier as Mark had proved to be. But the weeks passed and nothing was
heard, and it was thought he must have been killed, and he was numbered
with the unknown dead.

Mr. Chittenden mourned him as such, but Grace maintained that he still
lived, and she had good cause for her belief. She had never told her
father of the love passage between Mark and herself, and how she had
refused to bid him good-bye when he left. The memory of that parting was
a secret, she felt, only to be held in her own heart, for she was not
sure she would ever see or hear from Mark again.

One day a letter was placed in Grace's hands by a messenger who hurried
away before she had time to thank him, much less question him. Much to
her surprise and joy the letter was from Mark.

"He lives! He lives!" she cried rapturously as she pressed it to her
lips. Grace had forgotten all her resentment towards Mark, forgotten
that the secret that lay between them was still unsolved. She only knew
that she loved him. Eagerly she read the letter, which ran:

     GRACE: Lest you believe me dead, I write this. It was foolish
     in me to tell you of my love, but I had to do it. Now that you
     know, I am content. I ask nothing, deserve nothing, in return.
     Just the thought of loving you is like thinking of heaven. When
     I went away I rode as it were into the jaws of death, and
     escaped as by a miracle. Grace, it is best that I see you no
     more. Think of me only as one who takes joy in loving you. Only
     one thing will ever call me to your side, and that is if you
     are ever in grave danger. To defend you I would come from the
     ends of the earth.

     I think you have read Longfellow's Hiawatha, for I have seen it
     in your library. Do you remember that when Minnehaha lay dying
     she called for Hiawatha, and, although he was miles and miles
     away, that cry of anguish reached him. And so great is my love
     for you that I believe that if you should call me in a time of
     danger I would hear. Remember this if trouble comes, though I
     hope it never will.

     Farewell.
     MARK.

Grace read and re-read the strange letter. Hiawatha had just been
published when she was at school in St. Louis, and it had been a great
favorite of hers.

What could Mark mean by intimating that some great peril might be
impending? She knew not. But Mark lived; he still loved her, would
always love her.

She placed the letter in her bosom next her heart and there it rested.
Her secret was her own; why tell it? If Mark never came back, no one
would ever know. But she believed he would come back, and her step grew
lighter, her face brighter, her laugh merrier. In fact, she became her
old self, and her father rejoiced, for he had noticed a change in her
since Mark went away.



CHAPTER XXIV

PRAIRIE GROVE


When General Sterling Price was ordered east of the Mississippi River
the Confederate Government placed the Department of Arkansas under the
command of General T. C. Hindman. It was Hindman who originated the idea
of organizing the guerrillas of Missouri into companies and regiments,
intending by a general uprising to wrest the State from the grasp of the
Federals.

In his report to the Confederate Government Hindman says: "I gave
authority to various persons to raise companies and regiments there (in
Missouri) and to operate as guerrillas."

Thus Hindman confesses he was encouraging the bloody guerrilla warfare
which raged throughout the State.

Hindman ruled Arkansas with a rod of iron. He declared martial law
throughout the State, appointed a provost marshal for every county, and
proceeded to force every able-bodied man into the army. In his reports
he coolly says: "For the salvation of the country, I took the
responsibility to force these men into service. I now resolved for the
same objects to compel them to remain."

A great many of these men were Union at heart, and desertions were
frequent. To stop this Hindman began the wholesale shooting of
deserters. In all probability he shot as many men for deserting as the
Federal authorities shot guerrillas in Missouri for breaking their
paroles. So high-handed did his acts become, and so many were the
complaints made against him, that the Confederate Government had to take
cognizance of them.

By the end of November Hindman had succeeded in gathering an army of
from twenty-five to thirty thousand men. Many of them were unarmed, but
he had a formidable host in comparison to the small army opposed to him.

It was on December the second that Lawrence arrived at the camp of
General Blunt. Since he had crossed the mountains, and escaped the force
in front of him, he had encountered no serious opposition. He had met
and scattered two or three small bands of guerrillas, and taken a number
of prisoners, whom he had been obliged to parole.

"I am more than glad to see you," exclaimed General Blunt, warmly
grasping Lawrence's hand. "Schofield telegraphed me you were coming and
I have been looking for you for several days. I began to fear misfortune
had overtaken you."

"We did have a variety of adventures," answered Lawrence. "More than we
bargained for, but we are here all right now."

"Tell us about it," said the General, and nothing would do but that
Lawrence must give a detailed account of the trip. The General listened
attentively, and when Lawrence finished he clapped him on the shoulder
and cried, "Well done, my boy! Well done. You ought to be a general. But
were not the warnings you received in the mountains rather mysterious?"

"They were," answered Lawrence, "and I have no plausible explanation to
make."

Early next morning Blunt sent for Lawrence, asking him to come
immediately. He found him sitting with a paper in his hand, and a
puzzled expression on his face.

"Hello! Captain," he cried. "I'm glad to see you, as I am a little in
the mystery business myself this morning."

"In the mystery business?" asked Lawrence, somewhat astonished.

"Yes, don't imagine you are the only one to receive mysterious warnings.
I received one myself last night."

"Out with it. Don't keep me in suspense, General."

"Well, last night a soldier brought me a communication, saying it was
given to him by a young Indian with the urgent request that it be given
to me at once."

"You have Indians in your command, have you not?"

"Yes, a company of scouts under the command of Colonel Wattles. The
paper was of such a nature that I immediately began an investigation as
to its genuineness. Colonel Wattles asked every man in his command if
any one of them had delivered such a paper and each and every one denied
knowledge of it. I found the soldier who gave me the paper, and he said
the Indian who gave it to him disappeared in the darkness before he
could ask him any questions. The paper contains the most important
information, if true. Here it is. I want you to look at it, and tell me
what you think of it."

General Blunt handed Lawrence the communication, and no sooner had he
glanced at it than he exclaimed, "Great Heavens!"

"What is it?" asked Blunt, jumping up in his excitement. "Do you know
who wrote it?"

"I do not know who wrote it, but I know the handwriting. It is from the
same person who warned General Schofield, through me, of the
contemplated partisan uprising in Missouri last summer. It was the
information given in that communication that enabled General Schofield
to thwart the movement."

"Was it the same person that warned you that you were being pursued in
the Ozarks?" asked the General.

"No, that warning was given by an illiterate person. This is by someone
well educated. Whatever information the paper gives, act upon it at
once. I will stake my life on its being correct."

"Read what it says," replied the General.

Lawrence read the paper through and, as he expected, it was a detailed
account of the plans of General Hindman. It stated that Hindman had just
received dispatches from several sources in Missouri that if he did not
hurry up and invade the State the cause would be hopelessly lost, but if
he could defeat Blunt and invade the State, thousands were ready to
flock to his standard. Hindman had answered that he was ready to move on
Blunt with twenty thousand men, and anticipated an easy victory as he
(Blunt) did not have more than five or six thousand men.

"He estimated my force closely," said Blunt. "There must have been spies
in my camp," but read on.

"Great Scott! He says Hindman will commence his movement on the fourth
or fifth; and this is the third," exclaimed Lawrence.

"Yes, and I have only this small division to oppose him."

"Where are the other two divisions?"

"Up around Springfield, seventy-five miles away, and Schofield's orders
are to hold this position at all hazards."

"Herron can get here," cried Lawrence. "I know his Western boys; they
are greyhounds to march."

"But just think, seventy-five miles in two or three days," said Blunt,
"and then go into battle. But it is my only hope."

It was twelve miles to the telegraph office at Fayetteville. A swift
courier carried the message there and from there it went on the wings of
the lightning to General Herron.

It was a little after midnight on the morning of the fourth that General
Herron received the message, and by three o'clock his little army was on
the way--a march of seventy-five miles before them and then a battle.
There was no lagging, no grumbling. "On to save Blunt" was the cry.

That army was accustomed to long marches, to hardships almost
incredible. Hardly ever stopping, through the nights as well as days,
they marched, and on the evening of the sixth the advance of Herron's
army reached Fayetteville; the rest would be up during the night.
Blunt's army was still twelve miles away, and the boom of the cannon
told them the conflict was on.

Hindman knew that Herron was coming, and he made haste to strike before
his arrival. On December fifth he instructed General Marmaduke to take
his division, turn the right flank of Blunt's army, and throw his men in
between Blunt and Fayetteville, thus preventing the union of Blunt and
Herron.

The clash came at Cain Hill. Lawrence, with his troop, was in the
advance, and the rapidity of their fire so astonished Marmaduke that he
thought he was fighting a much larger force than he was, and his men
fell back in confusion. The movement was a failure.

All through the next day Hindman's forces kept pouring through the
passes of the mountains, and though the Federals resisted gallantly,
they were gradually pressed back, and the evening of the sixth found the
two armies confronting each other, ready to grapple in deadly conflict.

Blunt had sent word to Herron that he would fight where he was, and for
him to hurry forward. During the night General Hindman made an
unexpected and aggressive movement, worthy of Stonewall Jackson.
Reasoning that Herron's men must be completely exhausted by their long
march, he resolved to leave his camp fires burning and a small force
which was to make a big show, thus leading General Blunt to believe the
whole army was still before him. Hindman then marched around Blunt and
in the morning was squarely between him and Herron. Hindman believed he
could easily whip Herron before Blunt came up, and then he would turn on
Blunt and finish the job.

As soon as it was light the Confederates in front of Blunt opened a
noisy battle. Lawrence was serving on Blunt's staff, leaving the troop
in command of Dan. The Federals pressed eagerly forward, the
Confederates yielding ground readily.

"General," said Lawrence, "there is something wrong. I do not believe
the whole army is before us. They give ground too easily. I believe the
main part of Hindman's army has slipped past us, and gone to attack
Herron."

"Impossible," answered Blunt. "The only road they could have taken to
get past us is the Cove Creek road, some four miles away, and I sent
Colonel Richardson with his regiment to guard that with strict orders to
hold it, and let me know if he was attacked. I have heard nothing from
him, so all must be well."

But Lawrence was not satisfied; more and more he became convinced that
there was only a small force in front, and he asked Blunt if he might
not go and try to find Richardson, as he had not yet reported.
Permission was readily granted. Lawrence had not gone two miles before
he came onto Richardson. He had not occupied nor had he attempted to
occupy the Cove Creek road. Instead he had halted two miles from it, and
sent forward a small reconnoitering party; and the officer in charge of
the party had reported that the enemy had been passing along the road in
force ever since midnight.

"Why didn't you occupy the road as ordered?" angrily demanded Lawrence
of Richardson.

"Do you think I was going to fight the whole Confederate army with my
little regiment? I'm not such a fool," retorted Richardson.

"Why didn't you send word to the General then that the enemy was passing
along this road in force?" demanded Lawrence, still more angry. "By your
own admission you became aware of the movement by midnight."

"Why, I was just about to report the matter," said Richardson.

"Just about to, and here it is after nine o'clock. If I had the power I
would strip off your shoulder straps, and have you drummed out of the
army," exclaimed Lawrence furiously. In fact, he came the nearest
swearing he ever did. But there was no time to quarrel. Wheeling his
horse he rode at full speed to General Blunt with the news.

Calling back his men and paying no more attention to the force in front,
Blunt marched to the relief of Herron, but it was nearly eleven o'clock
before he got under way. Then he did not know exactly where Herron was,
for no courier could get through. It was one o'clock before the roar of
the cannon told him that the battle had opened, and then he found he was
marching in the wrong direction, and it was nearly four o'clock before
he reached the field.

Hindman's movement had been a complete success. Herron had gathered his
little army at Fayetteville and early in the morning started to join
Blunt, whose cannon he could hear, not dreaming that it was to be he and
not Blunt that was to fight the main battle.

Hardly had the light of the short December day dawned when Shelby's
brigade surprised and captured a train of thirty wagons, and with it
nearly three hundred of the four hundred soldiers guarding it. Those not
captured fled panic-stricken and for nearly five miles Shelby's men
followed them, but here they ran into Herron's men and went back as fast
as they had come.

Herron soon came upon the entire Confederate army in line of battle
along Illinois Creek, not far from an old church called Prairie Grove
Church. The position was a strong one, but Herron did not hesitate a
moment, but made preparations to attack.

Why Hindman, with his overwhelming force, did not attack, but waited to
be attacked, will never be known. Owing to the nature of the ground it
took Herron some time to form his line, but at one o'clock the battle
opened. For nearly three long hours it raged. Every time the
Confederates essayed to charge they were met with such a storm of shot
and shell that they went reeling back.

Twice did Herron's men make desperate charges and captured a battery
each time, but they were met with such an overwhelming force that they
were forced to relinquish the guns. Herron's men were hard pressed, but
grimly they held to their position, awaiting the arrival of Blunt.

It was nearly four o'clock when the roar of Blunt's cannon was heard.
Throwing his force on the flank of the Confederate army, they were
compelled to give way and the field was won.

Darkness put an end to the conflict, and the tired soldiers threw
themselves on the ground to sleep, expecting to renew the conflict in
the morning. But Hindman had had enough. He had failed to crush Herron,
and now that Blunt and Herron were united, he only thought of safety; so
muffling the wheels of his artillery he began his retreat to Van Buren,
leaving his dead to be buried and hundreds of his wounded to be cared
for by the victorious Federals.

This ended all hopes of the Confederates invading Missouri at this time.
Soon Hindman withdrew his army from Northwest Arkansas and fled to
Little Rock.

Again had the Army of the Northwest, now known as the Army of the
Frontier, achieved a glorious victory in the face of immense odds.[17]

[Footnote 17: The battle of Prairie Grove, for the number engaged, was a
bloodier and more fiercely contested battle than Pea Ridge. Blunt
claimed that he and Herron together had only seven thousand men on the
field. That Herron, with not more than half that number, had held the
enemy at bay for three hours, speaks volumes for the valor of his weary
men.

Hindman claims he brought only eleven thousand men to the fight.

The Federal loss was about thirteen hundred; the Confederate loss was
estimated at from fifteen hundred to two thousand. Hindman admitted a
loss of fourteen hundred.

A few of the Federal regiments engaged lost heavily. The Twentieth
Wisconsin lost two hundred and seventeen; the Twenty-sixth Indiana, two
hundred and one; the Nineteenth Iowa, one hundred and ninety-three; the
Seventh Missouri Cavalry, one hundred and forty-two, and the
Thirty-seventh Illinois, seventy-one.

General John C. Black, then colonel of the Thirty-seventh Illinois,
states that his regiment marched sixty-six miles in thirty-six hours to
get into the fight, and so exhausted were the men that during lulls in
the battle they would sink to the ground and be fast asleep in a minute,
but would spring to their feet and renew the fight when the call came,
with all the fury of fresh soldiers.]



CHAPTER XXV

CALLED TO OTHER FIELDS


The victory of Prairie Grove sent a thrill throughout the west,
especially to the Union men of Missouri. To the secession element of the
State it was a fearful blow, and they felt that their only hope was in
the success of the Southern army in other fields.

Generals Blunt and Herron and the gallant soldiers of the Army of the
Frontier were warmly thanked by the Federal Government for the great
victory they had achieved.

A few days after the battle an orderly placed a bulky letter in the
hands of Lawrence. He found it to be from General Schofield. As he read
it he uttered an exclamation of surprise. The letter stated that General
Blair had sent an urgent request that Lawrence be at once returned to
him, as he was greatly in need of a staff officer of Lawrence's
acquirements.

"As much as I regret to lose you," wrote Schofield, "under the
circumstances I cannot object. I have just heard of your achievements in
the Ozarks and desire to thank you, which I hope to do in person."

The letter then went on to state that while he no longer feared an
invasion of Missouri by any large force, the guerrilla warfare was by no
means over, and the State was still open to raids from Arkansas;
therefore he hoped that the troop would remain under the command of
Lieutenant Sherman, and that the scout Harry Semans would remain with
him.

As Lawrence read this his brow contracted, for he hated to give up Dan
and Harry. But he felt the wisdom of Schofield's suggestion and could
offer no objection.

Enclosed was a letter from General Blair to Lawrence, urging him to come
as soon as possible, saying that the movement against Vicksburg was
about to commence. "There will be stirring times down here for the next
few months," he wrote, "and you will find plenty to do, and fresh fields
in which to win honor."

After he read the letter Lawrence handed Schofield's letter to Dan,
saying, "Read it."

Dan had read but a few words when he looked up with a happy smile. "Why,
Captain," he exclaimed, "this is jolly. It means a wider field. I always
thought I would like to be in an army commanded by Grant."

"Read on, Dan," said Lawrence. "There is much bitter with the sweet in
that document."

Dan read on. In a moment he uttered an oath, and threw the letter down.
"I won't stay," he cried. "I want to go with you. I will resign my
commission. I will enlist as a private soldier so I can be near you."

"I do not think that will do you much good," said Lawrence, smiling. "As
a private soldier you might be sent hundreds of miles from me. Even if
we were in the same army we would see little or nothing of each other.
Dan, let's look at this in a reasonable way. To part with you is as
great a grief to me as to you. It will be a sad parting, Dan, but it
will leave you in command of the troop and, Dan, I know you will do as
well, if not better, than I. Then you will have Harry and Bruno. General
Schofield is right; the guerrilla warfare is not over, and it is your
duty to remain here."

It was hard to convince Dan, although he knew Lawrence was right.

"Let's go and see Blunt," said Lawrence.

The General, though he had known Lawrence but a few days, had become
warmly attached to him. His gallantry and coolness in time of battle had
won his admiration.

"I had hoped you could remain and become chief of my scouts," he said.
"I have need of just such a body of men as you command."

"You forget," said Lawrence, "that General Schofield writes that the
troop is to remain under the command of my lieutenant, Daniel Sherman.
You will find him equal to all demands. As for scouting, Harry Semans is
to remain with his dog Bruno, and they are equal to a regiment when it
comes to scouting."

Schofield had written that he wished Lawrence would come by way of St.
Louis, as he wished to see him. This meant a horseback ride of two
hundred miles to Rolla. Lawrence's preparations for the long ride were
soon made, and the time to bid farewell to his command came.

The members of the troop crowded around him to say good-bye and bid him
Godspeed, and tears stood in the eyes of many a rough soldier as they
took his hand in theirs.

When it came to parting with Dan and Harry, Lawrence broke down. He
tried to say something, but a great lump was in his throat and his voice
died away. They could only clasp hands, their eyes looking what their
tongues refused to say. Dan and Harry watched him ride away, and as he
looked back, waved him a last farewell.

But Lawrence's adventures in Missouri were not ended. He reached
Springfield in safety and there joined a wagon train en route for Rolla,
guarded by a detachment of fifty cavalry. The train was a small one,
consisting of forty wagons and ten ambulances, the ambulances conveying
back some disabled soldiers who had been furloughed.

The escort was in charge of a Captain Jackson, a pompous, red faced man.
Lawrence noticed that he was more or less under the influence of liquor
all the time, and that there was little discipline among his men.

A train from Rolla that came into Springfield just as this train was
leaving reported that they had been threatened by a band of guerrillas
under Jackman, but as their train was strongly guarded, he had not
attacked.

"You had better be on your guard," said the officer in command to
Jackson.

With an oath Jackson replied that his fifty men were a match for any
force Jackman could bring against him. That he wished Jackman would
attack, as he would like to give him a good licking.

The first day out Lawrence saw how things were going and spoke to
Jackson, telling him that he was moving carelessly, that his men were
straggling and were in no shape to resist an attack if one came.

Jackson drew himself proudly up and growled: "Who's in command of this
train, you or I? If you are afraid you had better go back to Springfield
and get a regiment to guard you through."

Lawrence smothered his wrath and said nothing more. Jackson went among
his men boasting loudly how he had taken the starch out of that young
peacock of a captain. He had quickly shown him he couldn't order him
around.

Soon a lieutenant of the company came to Lawrence and said, "Captain, I
heard what you said to Captain Jackson and his insulting reply. You are
right. We are in no shape to resist an attack."

"You are in charge of the rear guard, are you not?" asked Lawrence.

"Yes."

"How many men have you?"

"Fifteen."

"Can they all be depended on?"

"Ten or twelve can."

"Good! Tell them if an attack comes to stand by the train to the last.
Captain Jackson has charge of the advance; how many men has he?"

"Twenty. Half of them are no good. They would run at the first shot."

"That leaves fifteen men to guard the center of the train," replied
Lawrence. "Under whose command are they?"

"Sergeant Strong. He's a good man."

"Let's see him."

The Sergeant was seen and found to be a keen young soldier, fully alive
to the situation. "I have had hard work," he said, "to keep my men in
hand owing to the example of those in front, but I am doing the best I
can. One shot would stampede the whole advance."

"If an attack should come in front," said Lawrence, "and the advance
come back panic-stricken, don't give way; Lieutenant Hale, here, will
come to your relief. If the rear is attacked, go to him. If the center
is attacked he will come to you."

"You can depend on that," said Hale.

"Are the teamsters armed?" asked Lawrence.

"Only about half of them are enlisted men. They are armed."

"See that their guns are loaded and ready for instant use."

The teamsters were astonished and considerably excited when the order
came, but they were told that it was merely a matter of precaution, and
that there was no cause for alarm.

On the morning of the third day out firing was heard in front. There
came a volley followed by fiendish yells and the advance came tearing
back, panic-stricken. In a moment everything was in confusion.

Down the train rode the guerrillas, shooting the teamsters and mules,
and yelling like devils. Back came Captain Jackson, spurring his horse,
his face white with fright.

"Halt," cried Lawrence. But the Captain went past him like a whirlwind,
his only thought of escape.

Where the guerrillas had charged the head of the train the ground was
open, but where Lawrence was there was a thick growth of bushes on one
side of the road and a rough fence built out of logs and rails on the
other.

Lawrence ordered one of the teamsters who had not entirely lost his head
to swing his wagon across the road, blocking it. Sergeant Strong had
succeeded in rallying some ten or twelve of the soldiers, who, springing
from their horses, used the mules and wagons for breastworks. Several of
the advance guard had been cut off, but they jumped from their horses
and, diving under the wagon, continued their flight. Lawrence did not
attempt to stop them, for they had lost their arms and would have been
of no use.

Close on the heels of the fugitives came six or eight guerrillas.

"Steady, men! Hold your fire!" shouted Lawrence.

He waited until the guerrillas were within a few rods of the improvised
breastworks, then ordered the men to fire. Half the saddles were emptied
and the rest went scurrying back. But they were met by the main body of
guerrillas and all came charging with blood curdling yells.

At this opportune moment Lieutenant Hale came galloping up with the rear
guard. His quick eye took in the situation and he ordered his men to
dismount and take position behind the mules and wagons.

"Hold your fire!" again shouted Lawrence. "Keep cool and take good aim."

On came the yelling horde. When within a few yards of the blockade the
foremost tried to check their horses, but those in the rear pressed on
and threw the whole body into confusion.

"Fire!" Lawrence's voice rang out loud and clear. In that packed mass
the effect of the volley was terrible.

"Give it to them," shouted Lawrence.

The men loaded and fired as fast as they could, but soon there was no
one to shoot at. The guerrillas who had escaped were in retreat.

"Lieutenant Hale, hold the position here," said Lawrence. "Fifteen men
come with me."

Every man within the barricade volunteered. Quickly Lawrence counted off
fifteen. "The rest stay with Lieutenant Hale and hold the barricade," he
ordered.

With the fifteen men Lawrence boldly charged after the fleeing enemy.
They had commenced to rally, but a few well directed volleys once more
put them to flight.

Ten or twelve wagons were in flames, half a dozen of the teamsters lay
weltering in their blood, and the poor mules lay in heaps as they had
fallen. The ambulances had been in the rear of the train and so the
occupants had escaped.

It was found that fifteen of the teamsters and soldiers had been killed
or wounded. Of the guerrillas, thirty lay dead or desperately wounded.

After the fight was over Captain Jackson came creeping back. He claimed
that before he retreated he had killed two of the guerrillas with his
own hand and he had only gone to the rear to order up Lieutenant Hale.

"Captain Jackson, you are under arrest."

"Sergeant Strong, please relieve Captain Jackson of his sword," said
Lawrence, coolly.

"By what right do you arrest me?" roared the Captain. "I refuse to be
arrested. Sergeant Strong, dare to arrest me and I will have you
court-martialed."

"As the representative of General Schofield I arrest you; I am on his
staff," quietly answered Lawrence. "Sergeant, do your duty."

The Captain delivered up his sword without a word. The name of General
Schofield was potent.

Lawrence now turned to Lieutenant Hale and said, "Lieutenant, you are in
charge of the train. Clear up the debris of the battle. Let the men in
the ambulances who are best able be put in the wagons and our wounded
take their places. Let the wounded guerrillas be taken to that house
over there, and be made as comfortable as possible. Their friends will
care for them as soon as we are out of sight."

It was noon before the train was again on the way. The burnt wagons,
dead mules and new made graves were the mute witnesses left to tell of
the fight.

Rolla was reached without further trouble. Here Lawrence turned Captain
Jackson over, charging him with disgraceful cowardice. The Captain was
court-martialed and dishonorably dismissed from the service. For their
bravery, Lieutenant Hale was promoted to captain and Sergeant Strong to
second lieutenant.

Lawrence took the cars at Rolla and was soon in St. Louis, where he
reported to General Schofield. What that gentleman said brought the
blushes to Lawrence's cheeks.

"You do not know how I hate to give you up," said the General. "But on
your account, I rejoice. This is a miserable warfare in Missouri; not
much glory gained in fighting guerrillas. I will welcome the day when I
am assigned to another department. I have repeatedly asked to be
released, but the powers that be think I am of more service here. I know
the Radicals are opposed to me, and that complaints are pouring into
Washington against me. There is a large element that will not be
satisfied except I devastate the whole State with fire and sword."

"I know," replied Lawrence. "I had a little experience with Jennison.
Jim Lane and a host of others are as bad. As you say, this is a
murderous warfare in Missouri, without much glory."

"There will be great things doing around Vicksburg. I envy you," said
Schofield.

"Ah! General, before the war is over you may have opportunities to
distinguish yourself, rather than fight guerrillas."

The history of General Schofield shows that these opportunities came and
that in the last year of the war he won great distinction.

Lawrence made a hurried visit to his friends before he departed for his
new field. He found his uncle and aunt well. His uncle was as firmly
convinced as ever that the South could never be conquered.

Lola Laselle was overjoyed to meet him. "Every day I live I am prouder
of my knight-errant than ever," she cried. "No lady of old ever had a
braver or truer knight."

Lawrence found Leon Laselle had nearly recovered from his wound.
Randolph Hamilton was in a fair way to recover, and was longing for the
day to come when he could be exchanged and again fight for the
principles he held dear.

When he heard of Lawrence being the chosen knight of Lola he begged to
be allowed to become her knight too. "Then Lola," he said, "you will
have a knight in both armies, and one of them will be sure to come back
wearing the crown of victory."

"It will not do," laughed Lola, "and you are a naughty boy for fighting
against the old flag. I had rather my knight be defeated in a good cause
than be victor in a bad one, and Randolph, the cause for which you are
fighting is a bad one, very bad."

Randolph sighed. Day by day Lola had become more precious to him, and as
he looked at Lawrence he thought, "Why should she not prefer him to me?"

When Lawrence inquired so particularly about Dorothy, how she was
getting along and how she liked Europe, a faint hope came to him that
after all it might be Dorothy and not Lola that attracted Lawrence; and
then he sighed again, for he remembered Dorothy's hatred for Yankees.

The next day Lawrence was floating down the river. When we meet him next
it will be in that great campaign which ended in the capture of
Vicksburg, the Gibraltar of the Mississippi River.


THE END.



THE YOUNG KENTUCKIANS SERIES

    GENERAL NELSON'S SCOUT
    ON GENERAL THOMAS'S STAFF
    BATTLING FOR ATLANTA
    FROM ATLANTA TO THE SEA
    RAIDING WITH MORGAN


THE YOUNG MISSOURIANS SERIES

    WITH LYON IN MISSOURI
    THE SCOUT OF PEA RIDGE
    THE COURIER OF THE OZARKS





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