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Title: Si Klegg, Book 3 - Si And Shorty Meet Mr. Rosenbaum, The Spy, Who Relates His Adventures
Author: McElroy, John, 1846-1929
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 "Si Klegg, Book 3 - Si And Shorty Meet Mr. Rosenbaum, The Spy, Who Relates His Adventures" ***

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SI KLEGG

SI AND SHORTY MEET MR. ROSENBAUM, THE SPY, WHO RELATES HIS ADVENTURES

By John McElroy

BOOK No. 3



PUBLISHED BY THE NATIONAL TRIBUNE, WASHINGTON, D. C.



[Illustration: SI AND SHORTY AS MOUNTED INFANTRY]

(Chapter VIII.)



PUBLISHED BY

THE NATIONAL TRIBUNE CO.

WASHINGTON, D. C.

SECOND EDITION

COPYRIGHT 1910



Contents:

PREFACE
CHAPTER I.       OUT ON PICKET
CHAPTER II.      ROSENBAUM, THE SPY
CHAPTER III.     THE DEACON GOES HOME
CHAPTER IV.      A SPY'S EXPERIENCES
CHAPTER V.       THE BOYS GO SPYING
CHAPTER VI.      LETTER FROM HOME
CHAPTER VII.     CORN PONE AND BUTTERMILK
CHAPTER VIII.    A PERIOD OF SELF-DISGUST
CHAPTER IX.      SHORTY GETS A LETTER
CHAPTER X.       TRADING WITH THE REBS
CHAPTER XI.      SHORTY'S CORRESPONDENT
CHAPTER XII.     THE BAN ON WET GOODS
CHAPTER XIII.    THE JEW SPY WRITES
CHAPTER XIV.     SHORTY HAS AN ADVENTURE WITH SI
CHAPTER XV.      SHORTY NEARLY GOT MARRIED
CHAPTER XVI.     AN UNEXPECTED MARRIAGE
CHAPTER XVII.    GATHERING INFORMATION
CHAPTER XVIII.   THE JEW SPY AGAIN



PREFACE

"Si Klegg, of the 200th Ind., and Shorty, his Partner," were born years
ago in the brain of John McElroy, Editor of The National Tribune.

These sketches are the original ones published in The National Tribune,
revised and enlarged somewhat by the author. How true they are to nature
every veteran can abundantly testify from his own service. Really, only
the name of the regiment was invented. There is no doubt that there were
several men of the name of Josiah Klegg in the Union Army, and who did
valiant service for the Government. They had experiences akin to, if
not identical with, those narrated here, and substantially every man
who faithfully and bravely carried a musket in defense of the best
Government on earth had sometimes, if not often, experiences of which
those of Si Klegg are a strong reminder.

The Publishers.


THIS BOOK IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED

TO THE RANK AND FILE

OF THE GRANDEST ARMY EVER MUSTERED FOR WAR.



CHAPTER I. OUT ON PICKET

THE BOYS SHOW THE DEACON A NEW WRINKLE IN THE CULINARY ART.

SOME days later, Si had charge of a picket-post on the Readyville Pike,
near Cripple Deer Creek. The Deacon went with them, at their request,
which accorded with his own inclinations, The weather was getting warmer
every day, which made him fidgety to get back to his own fields, though
Si insisted that they were still under a foot of snow in Indiana. But
he had heard so much about picket duty that, next to battle, it was the
thing he most wanted to see. Abraham Lincoln was left behind to care for
the "house." He had been a disappointment so far, having developed no
strong qualities, except for eating and sleeping, of which he could do
unlimited quantities.

"No use o' takin' him out on picket," observed Shorty, "unless we kin
git a wagon to go along and haul rations for him. I understand now why
these rebels are so poor; the niggers eat up everything they kin raise.
I'm afraid, Deacon, he'll make the Wabash Valley look sick when you turn
him loose in it."

"I guess my farm kin stand him," said the Deacon proudly. "It stood Si
when he was a growin' boy, though he used, to strain it sometimes."

They found a comfortable fence-corner facing{16} south for their "tent,"
which they constructed by making a roof of cedar boughs resting on a
rail running from one angle to another. They laid more boughs down in
the corner, and on this placed their blankets, making a bed which the
Deacon pronounced very inviting and comfortable. They built a fire in
front, for warmth and for cooking, and so set up housekeeping in a very
neat and soldier-like way.

[Illustration: MR. KLEGG ENJOYS SOLID COMFORT. 16]

The afternoon passed without special incident. Shorty came in with a
couple of chickens, but the{17} Deacon had learned enough to repress
any questions as to where and how he got them. He soon became more
interested in his preparations for cooking them. He had built a big fire
in a hole in the ground, and piled a quantity of dry cedar on this. Then
he cut off the heads and legs of the chickens, and, getting some mud
from the side of the road, proceeded to cover each, feathers and all,
with a coating nearly an inch thick.

"What in the world do you mean by that, Shorty?" asked the Deacon in
surprise.

"He's all right. Pap," assured Si. "He'll show you a new wrinkle in
chicken-fixin' that you kin teach mother when you go home. She knows
more about cookin' than any other woman in the world, but I'll bet she's
not up to this dodge."

The fire had by this time burned down to a heap of glowing embers. The
boys scraped a hole in these, laid on it their two balls of mud, then
carefully covered them with live coals and piled on a little more wood.

"I'll say right now," said the Deacon, "that I don't think much o' that
way. Why didn't you take their feathers off and clean out their innards?
Seems to me that's a nasty way."

"Wait and see," said Shorty sententiously.

Si had mixed some meal into a dough in the half-canteens he and
Shorty carried in their haversacks. He spread this out on a piece of
sheet-iron, and propped it up before the fire. In a little while it was
nicely browned over, when Si removed it from the sheet-iron, turned
it over, and browned the other side. He repeated this until he had
a sufficiency of{18} "hoe cakes" for their supper. A kettle of good,
strong coffee had been boiling on the other side of the fire while this
was going on. Then they carefully raked the embers off, and rolled out
two balls of hard-baked clay. Waiting for these to cool a little, they
broke them. The skin and feathers came off with the pieces and revealed
deliciously savory, sweet meat, roasted just to a turn. The intestines
had shriveled up with the heat into little, hard balls, which were
thrown away.

"Yum--yum--yum," said Shorty, tearing one of the chickens in two, and
handing a piece to the Deacon, while Si gave him a sweet, crisp hoe cake
and a cup of strong coffee. "Now, this's what you might call livin'.
Never beat that cookin' in any house that had a roof. Only do that when
you've stars in the roof of your kitchen."

"It certainly is splendid," admitted the Deacon. "I don't think Maria
could've done better."

It was yet light when they finished their supper, filled their pipes,
and adjusted themselves for a comfortable smoke. One of the men came
back and said:

"Corporal, there's a rebel on horseback down the road a little ways who
seems to be spying on us. We've noticed him for some little time. He
don't come up in good range, and we haven't fired at him, hopin' he'd
come closer. Better come and take a look at him."

"Don't do anything to scare him off," said Si. "Keep quiet. Me and
Shorty'll sneak down through the field, out of sight, and git him."

They picked up their guns and slipped out under{19} the cover of the
undergrowth to where they could walk along the fence, screened by the
heavy thicket of sumach. Catching the excitement of the occasion, the
Deacon followed them at a little distance.

Without discovery Si and Shorty made their way to a covert within an
easy 50 yards of where the horseman sat rather uneasily on a fine,
mettled animal. They got a good look at him. He was a young, slender
man, below medium hight, with curly, coalblack hair, short whiskers, a
hooked nose, and large, full eyes. He wore a gray suit of rather
better make and material than was customary in the rebel army. He had
a revolver in his belt and a carbine slung to his saddle, but showed no
immediate intention of using either. His right hand rested on his thigh,
and his eyes were intently fixed on the distant picket-post.

"A rebel scout," whispered Si. "Shall we knock him over, and then order
him to surrender, or halt him first, and then shoot?"

"He can't git away," said Shorty. "I have him kivered. You kivver his
hoss's head. Then call him down."

Si drew his sights fine on the horse's head and yelled:

"Surrender, there, you dumbed rebel."

[Illustration: "SURRENDER, THERE, YOU DUMBED REBEL." 21]

The man gave a quick start, a swift glance at the blue uniforms, and
instantly both hands went up.

"That is all right, boys. Don't shoot. I'm a friend," he called in a
strong German accent.

"Climb down off o' that boss, and come here, and do it mighty sudden,"
called out Si, with his finger still on the trigger.{20}

The horse became restive at the sound of strange voices, but the man
succeeded in dismounting, and taking his reins in his hand, led the
horse up to the fence.

"Very glad to see you, boys," said he, surveying their blue garments
with undisguised satisfaction, and putting out his other hand to shake.

"Take off that revolver, and hand it here," ordered the wary Shorty,
following the man with the muzzle of his gun. The man slipped his arm
through the reins, unbuckled his revolver, and handed it to Shorty. Si
jumped over the fence and seized the carbine.

"Who are you, and where did you come from?" asked Si, starting the man
up the road toward the post.

"What rechiment do you belong to?" asked the stranger, warily.

"We belong to Co. Q, 200th Injianny, the best regiment in Gen.
Rosecrans's army," answered Si proudly, that the captive might
understand where the honor of his taking belonged.

"That is all right," said the stranger, with an air of satisfaction.
"The 200th Indianny is a very good regiment. I saw them whip John
Morgan's cavalry at Green River. Clumsy farmer boys, but shoot like born
devils."

"But who are you, and where did you come from?" repeated Si impatiently.

"I'm all right. I'm Levi Rosenbaum of Gen. Rosecrans's secret service. I
got some news for him."

"You have?" said Si suspiciously. "Why didn't you ride right in and
tell it to him? What've you{21} bin hangin' around here all afternoon,
watchin' our post for?"

"I wasn't sure you was there. I was told that the Yankee pickets was
going to be pushed out to Cripple Deer Creek to-day, but I didn't know
it for sure. I was afraid that the rebels was there yet. Jim Jones, of
the secret service, had agreed to come out this afternoon and wave a
flag if it was all{22} right. I was waiting for his sign. But he is
probably drunk. He always gets so when he reaches camp."

The Deacon joined them in the road, and gave a searching glance at the
prisoner.

"Ain't you a Jew?" he inquired presently. "Ain't your name Rosenbaum?
Didn't you go through Posey County, Ind., a year or two ago, with a
wagon, sellin' packs o' cloth to the farmers?"

"I'm an American citizen," said the man proudly, "the same as the rest
of you. My religion is Hebrew. I don't know and don't care what your
religion is. Every man has the religion that suits him. My name is
Rosenbaum. I did sell cloth in Posey County, unt all over Indianny. It
was good cloth, too, unt I sold it at a bargain."

"It certainly was good cloth, and cheap," admitted the Deacon. "What in
the world are you doin' down here in them clothes?"

"I'm doing just what these men are doing here in their cloze," answered
Rosenbaum. "I'm trying to serve the country. I'm doing it different from
them, because I'm built different from them. I hope I'm doing it well.
But I'm awfully hungry. Got anything to eat? Just a cup of coffee and a
cracker? Don't care for any pork."

"Yes, we'll give you something to eat," said Shorty. "I think there's
some of our chicken left. You'll find that good."

"How did you cook that?" said Rosenbaum, looking at the tempting morsel
suspiciously.

Shorty explained.{23}

"Thanks; I can't eat it," said Rosenbaum with a sigh. "It ain't kosher."

"What the devil's that?" asked Shorty.

"It's my religion. I can't explain. Send for the Officer of the Guard to
take me to Headquarters," answered Rosenbaum, sipping his coffee.



CHAPTER II. ROSENBAUM, THE SPY

THE JEW TELLS THE THRILLING STORY OF HIS ADVENTURE.

THE Officer of the Guard was a long time in coming, and Mr. Rosenbaum
grew quite chatty and communicative, as they sat around the bright fire
of cedar logs and smoked.

"Yes," he said, "I have been in the secret service ever since the
beginning of the war--in fact, before the war, for I began getting news
for Frank Blair in the Winter before the war. They say Jews have
no patriotism. That's a lie. Why should they have no patriotism for
countries where they were treated like dogs? In Germany, where I was
born, they treated us worse than dogs. They made us live in a little,
nasty, pig-pen of an alley; we had to go in at sundown, unt stay there;
we had to wear a different cloze from other folks, unt we didn't dare to
say our souls were our own to any dirty loafer that insulted us.

"Here we are treated like men, unt why shouldn't we help to keep the
country from breaking up? Jews ought to do more than anybody else, unt
I made up my mind from the very first that I was going to do all that
I could. The Generals have told me that I could do much better for the
country in the secret service than as a soldier; they could get plenty
of soldiers unt but few spies."{25}

"Now you're shoutin'," said Shorty. "They kin git me to soldier as long
as the war lasts, for the askin', but I wouldn't be a spy 10 minutes for
a corn-basket full o' greenbacks. I have too much regard for my neck. I
need it in my business."

"You a spy," said Si derisively. "You couldn't spy for sour apples. Them
big feet o' your'n 'd give you dead away to anybody that'd ever seen you
before."

"Spyin' isn't the business that any straightfor'rd man,"--the Deacon
began to say in tones of cold disapproval, and then he bethought him
of courtesy to the stranger, and changed hastily--"that I'd like to do.
It's entirely too resky."

"O, it's jest as honorable as anything else. Pap," said Si, divining
his father's thought. "All's fair in love and war. We couldn't git along
without spies. They're as necessary as muskets and cannon."

"Indeed they are," said Mr. Rosenbaum earnestly; "you wouldn't know what
to do with your muskets and cannon if the spies didn't tell you where
the rebels were, unt how many there was of them. I go out unt get
information that it would cost hundreds of lives to get, unt may save
thousands of lives, unt all that it costs is one poor little Jew's neck,
when they drop on to him some day, unt leave him swinging from a tree.
But when that time comes, I shall make no more complaint than these
other poor boys do, who get their heads knockt off in battle. I'm no
better than they are. My life belongs to the country the same as theirs,
unt this free Government is worth all our lives, unt more, too."

His simple, sincere patriotism touched the Deacon{26} deeply. "I'd no
idee that there was so much o' the man in a Jew," he said to himself.
Then he asked the stranger:

"How did you come to go into the spy business, Mr. Rosenbaum?"

"Well, I was in St. Louis in the Clothing pizniss, unt you know it was
purty hot there. All the Germans were for the Union, unt most of
the Americans unt Irish seemed to be Secessionists. I sided with the
Germans, but as nobody seemed to think that a Jew had any principles or
cared for anything but the almighty dollar, everybody talked right out
before me, unt by keepin' my ears wide open I got hold of lots of news,
which I took straight to General Lyon. I got well acquainted with him,
and he used to send me here and there to find out things for him. I'd
sell gray uniforms and other things to the Secessionists; they'd talk to
one another right before me as to what was being done, and I'd keep my
ears wide open all the time, though seemed to be only thinking about the
fit and the buttons and the gold lace.

"Then General Lyon wanted to find out just exactly how many men there
was in Camp Jackson--no guesswork--no suppose. I took 2,000 of my
business cards, printed on white, and 1,000 printed on gray paper. I
went through the whole camp. To every man in uniform I give a white
card; to every man without a uniform, who seemed to be there for
earnest, I give a gray card. When I got back I counted my cards in
General Lyon's office, unt found I'd give out 500 white cards unt 200
gray{27} ones. Then General Lyon took out about 3,000 men, unt brought
the whole crowd back with him."

"Then General Lyon," continued Rosenbaum, "sent me out from Springfield,
Mizzouri, to see how many men old Pap Price unt Ben McCullough had
gathered up against him from Mizzouri, Arkansaw, Texas unt the plains.
Holy Moses, I was scared when I saw the pile of them. The whole world
seemed to be out there, yipping unt yelling for Jeff Davis, drinking raw
sod-corn whisky, making secession speeches, unt shooting at marks.

"I rode right into them, unt pretended that I was looking for Mexican
silver dollars to take to Mexico to buy powder unt lead for the rebel
army. I had a lot of new Confedrit notes that I'd got from my cousin,
who was in the tobacco business in Memphis. They was great curiosities,
unt every man who had a Mexican dollar wanted to trade it for a
Confedrit dollar.

"There was no use tryin' to count the men--might as well have tried
to count the leaves on the trees, so I begun to count the regiments.
I stuck a pin in my right lapel for every Mizzouri regiment, one in my
left lapel for every Arkansaw regiment, one in my vest for every one
from Texas. I had black pins for the cannons. I was getting along very
well, when I run across Bob Smiles, a dirty loafer, who had been a
customer in St. Louis. He wouldn't pay me, unt I had to get out a writ
unt levy on his clothes just as he was dressing to go to a quadroon
ball.

"I left him with only a necktie, which was worth nothing to me, as it
had been worn and soiled. He was very sore against me, unt I was not
surprised.{28}

"It made me sick at my stomach when I saw him come up.

"'Hello, you damn Dutch Jew,' he said. 'What are you doing here?'

"I tried to be very pleasant, unt I put out my hand unt said, with my
best smile:

"'Good gracious. Bob, how glad I am to see you. When did you get
here? Are you well? How are the other boys? Who's here? Where are you
stopping?'

"But I might as well have tried to make friends with a bull dog in front
of a farm house where all the people had gone away.

"'Go to blazes,' he said. 'None of your bizniss how I am, how I got
here, or how the other boys are. Better not let them find out you're
here. They'll take it out of your Jew hide for the way you used to skin
them in St. Louis. I want to know what the devil you are doing here?'

"'Now, Mister Smiles,' I said, pleasant as a May morning, 'that's not
the way to talk to me. You know I got up the stylishest clothes unt
the best fits in St. Louis. We had a little trouble, it is true. It
was nothing, though. Just a little business dispute. You know I always
thought you one of the very nicest men in St. Louis, unt I said so, even
to the Squire unt to the Constable.'

"'Go to the devil, you Savior-killing Jew,' said he. 'Shut up your
mouth, or I'll stuff a piece of pork in it. I want to know at once what
you are doing here? Where did you come from?'

"'I come from Memphis,' said I. 'I'm in the service of the Southern
Confedrisy. General Pillow sent{29} me to gather up all the Mexican
dollars I could find, to send to Mexico to buy ammunition.'

"'It's a lie, of course,' said he. 'A Jew'd rather lie than eat, any
day. Then you're one of them St. Louis Dutch--them imported Hessians.
They're all dead against us. They all ought to be killed. I ought to
kill you myself for being so cussed mean to me.'

"He put his hand on his revolver in a way that made my breakfast sour
in my stomach, but then I knew that Bob Smiles was a great blowhard, unt
his bark was much worse than his bite. In St. Louis he was always going
to fight somebody unt kill somebody, but he never done neither. Quite a
crowd gathered around, unt Bob blew off to them, unt they yelled,
'Hang the Jew spy. Kill the damn rascal,' and other things that made me
unhappy. But what made my flesh crawl was to see a man who wasn't saying
much, go to a wagon, pull out a rope, unt begin making a noose on the
end. Bob Smiles caught hold of my collar unt started to drag me toward
a tree. Just as I was giving up everything for lost, up comes Jim
Jones--the same man I'm going to meet here--he come runnin' up. He was
dressed in full uniform as a rebel officer--gray coat unt pants, silver
stars on his collar, high boots, gray slouched hat with gold cord, unt
so on.

"'Here, what is the matter? What's all this fuss in camp?' he said.

"'We've ketched one of them Dutch Jews from St. Louis spying our camp,
Major,' said Bob Smiles, letting loose of my collar to salute the
Major's silver stars. 'And we are going to hang him.'{30}

"'A spy? How do you know he's a spy?'" asked Jim Jones.

"'Well, he's Dutch; he's a Jew, unt he's from St. Louis. What more do
you want?'" asked Bob Smiles.

[Illustration: TRYING TO SAVE HIS NECK. 30]

The crowd yelled, unt de man with the rope went to the tree unt flung
one end over a limb.

"'His being a St. Louis Dutchman is against him,'{31} said Jim Jones,
'but his being a Jew is in his favor. A Jew don't care a blame for
politics. He hain't got no principles. He'd rather make a picayune off
you in a trade than have a wagon-load of principles. But you fellers
have got nothing to do with spies, anyway. That's headquarters' bizniss.
I'm an officer at General Price's headquarters. I'll take him up there
unt examine him. Bring him along.'

"'Go along, Jew,' said two of three of them, giving me kicks, as Bob
Smiles started with me. The man with the rope stood by the tree looking
very disappointed.

"When we got near General Price's tent, Jim Jones says to the rest:

"'You stop there. Come along with me, Jew.'

"He took me by the collar, unt we walked toward General Price's tent. He
whispered to me as we went along: 'You're all right, Rosenbaum. I know
you, unt I know what you're here for. Just keep a stiff upper lip, tell
your story straight, unt I'll see you through.'

[Illustration: "I KNOW YOU, UNT WHAT YOU'RE HERE FOR." 32]

"That scared me worse than ever, but all that I could do was to keep up
my nerve, unt play my cards coolly. We went into the General's tent, but
he was busy, unt motioned us with his hand to the Adjutant-General.

"'What's the matter?' asked the Adjutant-General, motioning me to sit
down, while he went on making tally marks on a sheet of paper, as a man
called off the regiments that had reported. Then he footed them all
up, unt, turning to another officer, read from it so many Arkansaw
regiments, so many{32} Louisianny, so many Mizzouri, so many Texas, so
many batteries of artillery, unt he said to another officer as he laid
the paper face down among the other papers on his table: 'Just as I told
you, Colonel. We have fully 22,000 men ready for battle.' Then to us:
'Well, what can I do for you?'

"'The boys had picked up this Jew for a spy, Colonel,' said Jim Jones,
pointing to me, 'unt they{33} were about to hang him, just to pass away
the afternoon more than for anything else. I took him away from them,
telling them that it was your privilege to hang spies, unt you could do
it according to the science of war. I brung him up here to get him away
from them. After they're gone away or got interested in something else
I'll take him unt put him outside of camp.'

"'All right," said de Adjutant-General, without taking much interest in
the matter. 'Do with him as you please. A Jew more or less isn't of any
consequence. Probably he deserves hanging, though, but it isn't well to
encourage the boys to hang men on sight. They're quite too ready to do
that, anyway.'

"He talked to the other man a little, unt then when he went away he
turned to me, unt said, sort of lazy like, as if he didn't care anything
about it:

"'Where are you from?'

"'From Memphis,' said I.

"'Great place, Memphis,' said he; 'one of the thriving suburbs of
Satan's Kingdom. Had lots of fun there. I know every faro bank in it,
which speaks well for my memory, if not for my morals. What bizniss was
you in?'

"'Clothing,' said I.

"'What a fool question to ask a Jew,' said he, yawning. 'Of course, you
was in the clothing trade. You was born in it. All Jews have been since
they gambled for the Savior's garments.'

"'They wasn't Jews what gambled for Christ's clothes,' said I, picking
up a little courage. 'They vass Romans--Italians--Dagoes.'{34}

"'Was they?' said he. 'Well, mebbe they was. I haven't read my Bible for
so long that I've clean forgot. Say, what are you doing with all them
pins?'

"The question come so unexpected that it come nearly knocking me off
my base. I had calculated on almost every other possible thing, unt
was ready for it, except that fool question. I thought for a minit that
disappointed man by the tree with the rope was going to get his job,
after all. But I gathered myself together with a jerk, unt calmly said
with a smile:

"'O, that's some of my foolishness. I can't get over being a tailor, and
sticking all the pins what I find in my lapel. I must pick up every one
I see.'

"'Queer where you found them all,' said he. 'Must've brung them from
Memphis with you. I can't find one in the whole camp. Our men use
nails unt thorns instead of pins. I've been wanting a lot of pins for my
papers. Let me have all you got. I wish you had a paper of them.'

"I did have two or three papers in my pockets, unt first had a fool idea
of offering them to him. Then I remembered that disappointed man with
the rope by the tree, unt pulled the pins out of my lapels one by one
unt give them to him, trying to keep count in my head as I did so.

"'What are you doing here, anyway?' he asked as he gathered up the pins
unt put them in a pasteboard box.

"'I come here at General Pillow's orders, to pick up some Mexican silfer
dollars, to buy ammunition in Mexico.

"'Another of old blowhard Pillow's fool schemes,'{35} said he. 'I know
old Pillow. I served with him in Mexico, when he dug his ditch on the
wrong side of his fortification. He's probably going to do some-thing
else with the dollars than buy ammunition. Old Gid Pillow's a mighty
slick one, I tell you, when it comes to filling his own pockets. He's no
fool there, whatever he may be in other ways. He's working some scheme
to skin our men, unt making you his partner, then he'll turn around unt
skin you. I'll stop it going any further by turning you out of camp, unt
I ought to take away from you all the money you've gathered up, but I
won't do it on one condition.'

"'What is your condition?' said I, trying not to speak too quick.

"'You say you are in the clothing pizniss. I want awfully a nice
uniform, just like the Major's there. What's such a uniform worth?'

"'About $75,' said I.

"'I paid $65 for this in St. Louis,' said Jim Jones.

"'Well, $10 is not much of a skin for a Memphis Jew,' laughed the
Adjutant-General. 'I tell you what I'll do, if you'll swear by the book
of Deuteronomy, unt Moses, Abraham unt Isaac, to have me inside of two
weeks just such a uniform as the Major's there, I'll let you off with
all the money you have made already, unt when you come back with it I'll
give you written permission to trade for every silver dollar in camp.'

"'It is a bargain,' said I.

"'Unt it'll be a perfect fit," said he.

"'Just like the paper on the wall,' said I. 'Let me{36} take your
measure.'

"I had my eye all the time on the paper he had laid carelessly down unt
forgotten. I pulled my tapemeasure out. The old idee of the tailor come
up. I forgot about the disappointed man with the rope by the tree, unt
was my old self taking the measure of a customer. I put all the figures
down on his piece of paper, without his noticing what I was using. I
asked him about the lining, the trimming, unt the pockets, unt wrote
them down. Then I folded up the paper unt stuck it in my breast pocket,
unt my heart gave a big thump, though I kept my face straight, unt went
on talking about buttons unt silk braid unt gold lace for the sleeves. I
promised him he should have the uniform in the army in two weeks' time.
Just then some officers come in, unt Jim Jones hurried me out. I could
not understand Jim Jones. He hurried me across to a place behind the
woods, where we found some horses.

"'Untie that one unt get on quick,' he said. 'My God, you've got the
thing dead to rights; you've got everything on that piece of paper.
My God, what luck! Smartest thing I ever saw done. Get that paper in
General Lyon's hands before midnight if you kill yourself unt horse in
doing it. I'll take you out past part of the guards, unt show you how to
avoid the rest. Then ride as if the devil was after you, until you reach
General Lyon's tent.'

"I was dumfounded. I looked at Jim Jones. His eyes was like fire. Then
it suddenly occurred to me that Jim Jones was a spy, too.

"As I mounted I looked back across the camp. I saw the rope still
hanging from a limb of the tree,{37} and the disappointed man sitting
down beside it patiently waiting.

"That night the paper was in General Lyon's hands, unt the next night
the army moved out to fight the battle of Wilson's Creek.

"The Adjutant-General is still waiting for that uniform."

"Halt, who comes there?" called out Shorty, whose quick ears caught the
sound of approaching footsteps.

"The Officer of the Guard," responded from the bank of darkness in the
rear.

"Advance, Officer of the Guard, and give the countersign," commanded
Shorty, lowering his musket to a charge bayonets.

The officer advanced, leaned over the bayonet's point, and whispered the
countersign.

"Countersign's correct," announced Shorty, bringing his gun to a
present. "Good evening. Lieutenant. We have got a man here who claims to
belong to the Secret Service."

"Yes," answered the officer. "We've been expecting him all afternoon,
but thought he was coming in on the other road. I'd have been around
here long ago only for that. This is he, is it? Well, let's hurry in.
They want you at Headquarters as soon as possible."

"Good night, boys," called out Mr. Rosenbaum as he disappeared; "see you
again soon."

{38}



CHAPTER III. THE DEACON GOES HOME

SHORTY FALLS A VICTIM TO HIS GAMBLING PROPENSITIES.

THE BOYS did not finish their tour of picket duty till the forenoon of
the next day, and it was getting toward evening when they reached their
own camp.

"What in the world's going on at the house?" Si asked anxiously, as they
were standing on the regimental parade ground waiting to be dismissed.
Strange sounds came floating from that direction. The scraping of a
fiddle was mingled with yells, the rush of feet, and laughter.

"I'll go over there and see," said the Deacon, who had sat down behind
the line on a pile of the things they had brought back with them. He
picked up the coffee-pot, the frying-pan, and one of the haversacks,
and walked in the direction of the house. As he turned into the company
street and came in sight of the cabin he looked for an instant, and then
broke out:

"I'm blamed if they don't seem to be havin' a nigger political rally
there, with the house as campaign headquarters. Where in time could
they have all come from? Looks like a crow-roost, with some o' the crows
drunk."

Apparently, all the negro cooks, teamsters, officers' servants, and
roustabouts from the adjoining camps{39} had been gathered there, with
Groundhog, Pilgarlic, and similar specimens of the white teamsters among
them and leading them.

[Illustration: THE NEGROES MERRYMAKING. 39]

Seated on a log were three negroes, one sawing on an old fiddle, one
picking a banjo, and one playing the bones. Two negroes were in the
center of a ring, dancing, while the others patted "Juba." All were more
or less intoxicated. Groundhog and Pilgarlic were endeavoring to get up
a fight between Abraham Lincoln and another stalwart, stupid negro,
and were plying them with whisky from a canteen and egging them on with
words.{40}

The Deacon strode up to Groundhog and, catching him by the arm, demanded
sternly:

"What are you doing, you miserable scoundrel? Stop it at once."

Groundhog, who had drunk considerable himself, and was pot-valiant,
shook him off roughly, saying:

"G'way from here, you dumbed citizen. This hain't none o' your bizniss.
Go back to your haymow and leave soldiers alone."

The Deacon began divesting himself of his burden to prepare for action,
but before he could do so, Shorty rushed in, gave Groundhog a vigorous
kick, and he and Si dispersed the rest of the crowd in a hurry with
sharp cuffs for all they could reach. The meeting broke up without a
motion to adjourn.

The Deacon caught Abraham Lincoln by the collar and shook him
vigorously.

"You black rascal," he said, "what've you bin up to?"

"Didn't 'spect you back so soon. Boss," gasped the negro. "Said you
wouldn't be back till termorrer."

"No matter when you expected us back," said the Deacon, shaking him
still harder, while Si winked meaningly at Shorty. "What d'ye mean by
sich capers as this? You've bin a-drinkin' likker, you brute."

"Cel'bratun my freedom," gasped the negro. "Groundhog done tole me to."

"I'd like to celebrate his razzled head offen him," exploded the Deacon.
"I'll welt him into dog's meat hash if I kin lay my hands on him. He's
too mean and wuthless to even associate with mules. If I'd a{41} dog on
my place as onery as he is I'd give him a button before night. He's not
content with bein' a skunk himself; he wants to drag everybody else down
to his level. Learnin' you to drink whisky and fight as soon as you're
out o' bondage. Next thing he'll be learnin' you to steal sheep and vote
for Vallandigham. I'd like to put a stone around his neck and feed him
to the catfish."

There was something so strange and earnest about the Deacon's wrath that
it impressed the negro more than any of the most terrible exhibitions
of wrath that he had seen his master make. He cowered down, and began
crying in a maudlin way and begging:

"Pray God, Boss, don't be so hard on a poor nigger."

Si, who had learned something more of the slave nature than his father,
ended the unpleasant scene by giving Abraham Lincoln a sharp slap across
the hips with a piece of clapboard and ordering:

"Pick up that camp-kettle, go to the spring and fill it, and git back
here in short meter."

The blow came to the negro as a welcome relief. It was something that
he could understand. He sprang to his feet, grinned, snatched up the
campkettle, and ran to the spring.

"I must get that man away from here without delay," said the Deacon.
"The influences here are awful. They'll ruin him. He'll lose his soul if
he stays here. I'll start home with him to-morrow."

"He'll do worse'n lose his soul," grumbled Shorty, who had been looking
over the provisions. "He'll lose the top of his woolly head if he brings
another{42} gang o' coons around here to eat us out o' house and home.
I'll be gosh durned if I don't believe they've eat up even all the salt
and soap. There ain't a crumb left of anything. Talk about losin' his
soul. I'd give six bits for something to make him lose his appetite."

"I'll take him home to-morrow," reiterated the Deacon. "I raised over
'leven hundred bushels o' corn last year, 'bout 500 o' wheat, and just
an even ton o' pork. I kin feed him awhile, anyway, but I don't know as
I'd chance two of him."

"What'll you do if you have him and the grasshoppers the same year,
Pap?" inquired Si.

That night the Deacon began his preparations for returning home. He had
gathered up many relics from the battlefield to distribute among
his friends at home and decorate the family mantlepiece. There were
fragments of exploded shells, some canister, a broken bayonet, a smashed
musket, a solid 12-pound shot, and a quart or more of battered bullets
picked up in his walks over the scenes of the heavy fighting.

"Looks as if you were going into the junk business. Pap," commented Si,
as the store was gathered on the floor.

The faithful old striped carpetsack was brought out, and its handles
repaired with stout straps. The thrifty Deacon insisted on taking home
some of Si's and Shorty's clothes to be mended. The boys protested.

"We don't mend clothes in the army, Pap," said Si. "They ain't wuth it.
We just wear 'em out throw 'em away, and draw new ones."

The Deacon held out that his mother and sisters{43} would take great
pleasure in working on such things, from the feeling that they were
helping the war along. Finally the matter was compromised by putting
in some socks to be darned and shirts to be mended. Then the bullets,
canister, round-shot, fragments of shell, etc., were filled in.

"I declare," said the Deacon dubiously, as he hefted the carpetsack.
"It's goin' to be a job to lug that thing back home. Better hire a
mule-team. But I'll try it. Mebbe it'll help work some o' the stupidity
out o' Abraham Lincoln."

The whole of Co. Q and most of the regiment had grown very fond of the
Deacon, and when it was noised around that he was going, they crowded
in to say good-by, and give him letters and money to take home. The
remaining space in the carpetsack and all that in the Deacon's many
pockets were filled with these.

The next morning the company turned out to a man and escorted him to
the train, with Si and his father marching arm-in-arm at the head, the
company fifers playing,

     "Ain't I glad to get out of the Wilderness,
     Way down in Tennessee,"

and Abraham Lincoln, laden with the striped carpetsack, the smashed
musket and other relics, bringing up the rear, under the supervision of
Shorty. Tears stood in the old man's eyes as he stood on the platform
of the car, and grasped Si's and Shorty's hands in adieu. His brief
farewell was characteristic of the strong, self-contained Western{44}
man:

"Good-by, boys. God bless you. Take care of yourselves. Be good boys.
Come home safe after the war."

[Illustration: KLEGG STARTS HOME. 45]

The boys stood and watched the train with sorrowful eyes until it had
passed out of sight in the woods beyond Overall's Creek, and then turned
to go to their camp with a great load of homesickness weighing down
their hearts.

"Just think of it; he's going straight back to God's country," said
someone near.

A sympathetic sigh went up from all.

"Shet up," said Shorty savagely. "I don't want to hear a word o' that
kind. He pulled his hat down over his eyes, rammed his hands deep in his
pockets, and strode off, trying to whistle

     "When this cruel war is over,"

but the attempt was a dismal failure. Si separated from the crowd and
joined him. They took an unfrequented and roundabout way back to camp.

"I feel all broke up. Si," said Shorty. "I wish that we were goin' into
a fight, or something to stir us up."

Si understood his partner's mood, and that it was likely to result in an
outbreak of some kind. He tried to get him over to the house, so that he
could get him interested in work there.

They came to a little hidden ravine, and found it filled with men
playing that most fascinating of all gambling games to the average
soldier--chucka-luck. There were a score of groups, each gathered around
as{45} many "sweat-boards." Some of the men "running" the games were
citizens, and some were in uniform. Each had before him a small board
on which was sometimes painted, sometimes rudely marked with charcoal,
numbers from 1 to 6.

On some of the boards the numbers were indicated by playing-cards, from
ace to six-spot, tacked down. The man who "ran" the game had a dice-box,
with three dice. He would shake the box, turn it upside{46} down on the
board, and call upon the group in front of him to make their bets.

The players would deposit their money on the numbers that they fancied,
and then, after the inquiry, "All down?" the "banker" would raise the
box and reveal the dice. Those who had put their money on any of the
three numbers which had turned up, would be paid, while those who bet on
the other three would lose.

Chuck-a-luck was strictly prohibited in camp, but it was next to
impossible to keep the men from playing it. Citizen gamblers would gain
admittance to camp under various pretexts and immediately set up boards
in secluded places, and play till they were discovered and run out, by
which time they would have made enough to make it an inducement to try
again whenever they could find an opportunity. They followed the army
incessantly for this purpose, and in the aggregate carried off immense
sums of the soldiers' pay. Chuck-a-luck is one of the fairest of
gambling games, when fairly played, which it rarely or never is by
a professional gambler. A tolerably quick, expert man finds little
difficulty in palming the dice before a crowd of careless soldiers so
as to transfer the majority of their bets to his pocket. The
regular citizen gamblers were reinforced by numbers of insatiable
chuck-a-luckers in the ranks, who would set up a "board" at the least
chance, even under the enemy's fire, while waiting the order to move.

Chuck-a-luck was Shorty's greatest weakness. He found it as difficult
to pass a chuck-a-luck board as an incurable drunkard does to pass a
dram-shop.{47}

Si knew this, and shuddered a little as he saw the "layouts," and tried
to get his partner past them. But it was of no use. Shorty was in an
intractable mood. He must have a strong distraction. If he could not
fight he would gamble.

"I'm goin' to bust this feller's bank before I go another step," said
he, stopping before one. "I know him. He's the same feller that, you
remember, I busted down before Nashville. I kin do it agin. He's a bum
citizen gambler. He thinks he's the smartest chuck-a-lucker in the Army
o' the Cumberland, but I'll learn him different."

"Don't risk more'n a dollar," begged Si as a final appeal.

"All down?" called the "banker."

"Allow doublin'?" inquired Shorty.

"Double as much as you blamed please, so long's you put your money
down," answered the "banker" defiantly.

"Well, then, here goes a dollar on that five-spot," said Shorty,
"skinning" a bill from a considerable roll.

"Don't allow more'n 25 cents bet on single cards, first bet," said the
"banker," dismayed by the size of the roll.

"Thought you had some sand," remarked Shorty contemptuously. "Well,
then, here's 25 cents on the five-spot, and 25 cents on the deuce," and
he placed shin-plasters on the numbers. "Now, throw them dice straight,
and no fingerin'. I'm watchin' you."

"Watch and be durned," said the "banker" surlily. "Watch your own
business, and I'll watch mine. I'm as honest as you are any day."{48}

The "banker" lifted the box, and showed two sixes and a tray up. He
raked in the bets on the ace, deuce, four and five-spots, and paid the
others.

"Fifty cents on the deuce; 50 cents on the five," said Shorty, laying
down the fractional currency.

Again they lost.

"A dollar on the deuce; a dollar on the five," said Shorty.

The same ill luck.

"Two dollars on the deuce; two dollars on the five," said Shorty, though
Si in vain plucked his sleeve to get him away.

The spots remained obstinately down.

"Four dollars on the deuce; four dollars on the five," said Shorty.

No better luck.

"Eight dollars on the deuce; eight dollars on the five," said Shorty.

"Whew, there goes more'n a month's pay," said the other players,
stopping to watch the dice as they rolled out, with the deuce and
five-spot down somewhere else than on top. "And his roll's beginning to
look as if an elephant had stepped on it. Now we'll see his sand."

"Come, Shorty, you've lost enough. You've lost too much already. Luck's
agin you," urged Si. "Come away."

"I ain't goin'," said Shorty, obstinately. "Now's my chance to bust him.
Every time them spots don't come up increases the chances that they'll
come up next time. They've got to. They're not loaded; I kin tell that
by the way they roll. He ain't fingerin' 'em; I stopped that when I made
him{49} give 'em a rollin' throw, instead o' keep in' 'em kivvered with
the box."

"Sixteen dollars on the deuce; sixteen dollars on the five-spot. And I
ain't takin' no chances o' your jumpin' the game on me, Mr. Banker. I
want you to plank down $32 alongside o' mine."

Shorty laid down his money and put his fists on it. "Now put yours right
there."

"O, I've got money enough to pay you. Don't be skeered," sneered the
"banker," "and you'll git it if you win it."

"You bet I will," answered Shorty. "And I'm goin' to make sure by havin'
it right on the board alongside o' mine. Come down, now."

The proposition met the favor of the other players, and the "banker" was
constrained to comply.

"Now," said Shorty, as the money was counted down, "I've jest $20 more
that says that I'll win. Put her up alongside."

The "banker" was game. He pulled out a roll and said as he thumbed it
over:

"I'll see you $20, and go you $50 better that I win."

Shorty's heart beat a little faster. All his money was up, but there was
the $50 which the Deacon had intrusted to him for charitable purposes.
He slipped his hand into his bosom, felt it, and looked at Si. Si was
not looking at him, but had his eyes fixed on a part of the board
where the dice had been swept after the last throw. Shorty resisted the
temptation for a moment, and withdrew his hand.

"Come down, now," taunted the "banker." "You've blowed so much about
sand. Don't weaken over a{50} little thing like $50. I'm a thoroughbred,
myself, I am. The man don't live that kin bluff me."

The taunt was too much for Shorty. He ran his hand into his bosom in
desperation, pulled out the roll of the Deacon's money, and laid it on
the board.

Si had not lifted his eyes. He was wondering why the flies showed such
a liking for the part of the board where the dice were lying. Numbers
of them had gathered there, apparently eagerly feeding. He was trying to
understand it.

He had been thinking of trying a little shy at the four-spot himself,
as he had noticed that it had never won, and two or three times he had
looked for it before the dice were put in the box, and had seen the
"banker" turn it down on the board before picking the dice up. A thought
flashed into his mind.

The "banker" picked up the dice with seeming carelessness, dropped them
into the box, gave them a little shake, and rolled them out. Two threes
and a six came up. The "banker's" face lighted up with triumph, and
Shorty's deadened into acute despair.

"I guess that little change is mine," said the "banker" reaching for the
pile.

"Hold on a minnit. Mister," said Si, covering the pile with his massive
hands. "Shorty, look at them dice. He's got molasses on one side. You
kin see there where the flies are eatin' it."

Shorty snatched up the dice, felt them and touched his tongue to one
side. "That's so, sure's you're a foot high," said he sententiously.

Just then someone yelled:

"Scatter! Here come the guards!"{51}

All looked up. A company coming at the doublequick was almost upon them.
The "banker" made a final desperate claw for the money, but was met by
the heavy fist of Shorty and knocked on his back. Shorty grabbed what
money there was on the board, and he and Si made a burst of speed which
took them out of reach of the "provos" in a few seconds. Looking back
from a safe distance they could see the "bankers" and a lot of the
more luckless ones being gathered together to march to the guard-house.
"Another detachment of horny-handed laborers for the fortifications,"
said Shorty grimly, as he{52} recovered his breath, watched them, and
sent up a yell of triumph and derision. "Another contribution to the
charity fund," he continued, looking down at the bunch of bills and
fractional currency in his hands.

[Illustration: SHORTY SETTLES WITH THE BANKER. 51]

"Shorty," said Si earnestly, "promise me solemnly that you'll never bet
at chuck-a-luck agin as long as you live."

"Si, don't ask me impossibilities. But I want you to take every cent
o' this money and keep it. Don't you ever give me more'n $5 at a time,
under any consideration. Don't you do it, if I git down on my knees and
ask for it. Lord, how nigh I come to losin' that $50 o' your father's."



CHAPTER IV. A SPY'S EXPERIENCES

MR. ROSENBAUM TELLS THE BOYS MORE OF HIS ADVENTURES.

MR. ROSENBAUM became a frequent visitor to the Hoosier's Rest,
and generally greatly interested Si and Shorty with his stories of
adventure.

"How did you happen to come into the Army of the Cumberland?" asked Si.
"I'd a-thought you'd staid where you knowed the country and the people."

"That was just the trouble," replied Rosenbaum. "I got to know them very
well, but they got to know me a confounded sight better. When I was in
the clothing pizniss in St. Louis I tried to have everybody know me. I
advertised. I wanted to be a great big sunflower that everybody noticed.
But when I got to be a spy I wanted to be a modest little violet that
hid under the leaves, unt nobody saw. Then every man what knew me become
a danger, unt it got so that I shuddered every time that I see a limb
running out from a tree, for I didn't know how soon I might be hung from
it. I had some awful narrow escapes, I tell you.

"But what decided me to leave the country unt skip over de Mississippi
River was something that happened down in the Boston Mountains just
before the battle of Pea Ridge. I was down there watching Van Dorn unt
Ben McCullough for General Curtis, unt{54} was getting along all right.
I was still playing the old racket about buying up Mexican silver
dollars to buy ammunition. One night I was sitting at a campfire with
two or three others, when a crowd of Texans come up. They was just drunk
enough to be devilish, unt had a rope with a noose on the end, which
I noticed first thing. I had begun to keep a sharp lookout for such
things. My flesh creeped when I saw them. I tried to think what had
stirred them up all at once, but couldn't for my life recollect, for
everything had been going on all right for several days. The man with
the rope--a big, ugly brute, with red hair unt one eye--says:

"'You're a Jew, ain't you?'

"'Yes,' says I; 'I was born that way.'

"'Well,' says he, 'we're going to hang you right off.' Unt he put the
noose around my neck unt began trying to throw the other end over a
limb."

[Illustration: CLOSE CALL FOR ROSENBAUM. 54]

"'What for?' I yelled, trying to pull the rope off my neck. 'I ain't
done nothing.'

"'Hain't eh?' said the man with one eye. 'You hook-nosed Jews crucified
our Savior.'

"'Why, you red-headed fool,' said I, catching hold of the rope with both
hands, 'that happened more as 1,800 years ago. Let me go.'

"'I don't care if it did,' said the one-eyed man, getting the end of the
rope over the limb, 'we didn't hear about it till the Chaplain told us
this morning, unt then the boys said we'd kill every Jew we come across.
Catch hold of the end here, Bowers.'

"The other fellers around me laughed at the Texans so that they finally
agreed to let me go if I'd promise not to do it again, holler for Jeff
Davis, unt treat all around. It was a fool thing, but it scared me
worse'n anything else, unt I resolved to get out of there unt go where
the people read their Bibles unt the newspapers."

"How did you manage to keep Gen. Curtis posted as to the number of
rebels in front of him?" asked Si. "You couldn't always be running back
and forth from one army to the other."

"O, that was easy enough. You see. General{56} Curtis was advancing, unt
the rebels falling back most of the time. There was cabins every little
ways along the road. All these have great big fireplaces, built of
smooth rocks, which they pick up out of the creek unt wherever they can
find them.

"I'd go into these houses unt talk with the people unt play with the
children. I'd sit by the fire unt pick up a dead coal unt mark on these
smooth rocks. Sometimes I'd draw horses unt wagons unt men to amuse the
children. Sometimes I'd talk to the old folks about how long they'd been
in the country, how many bears unt deers the man had killed, how far it
was to the next place, how the roads run, unt so on, unt I'd make marks
on the jam of the fireplace to help me understand.

"The next day our scouts would come in unt see the marks unt understand
them just as well as if I'd wrote them a letter. I fixed it all up with
them before I left camp. I kin draw very well with a piece of charcoal.
I'd make pictures of men what would make the children unt old folks open
their eyes. Our scouts would understand which one meant Ben McCullough,
which one Van Dorn, which one Pap Price, unt so on. Other marks would
show which way each one was going unt how many men he hat with him. The
rebels never dropt on to it, but they came so close to it once or twice
that my hair stood on end."

"That curly mop of yours'd have a time standing on end," ventured
Shorty. "I should think it'd twist your neck off tryin' to."

"Well, something gave me a queer feeling about the throat one day when
I saw a rebel Colonel stop{57} unt look very hard at a long letter which
I'd wrote this way on a rock.

"'Who done that?' he asked.

"'This man here,' says the old woman, 'He done it while he was gassing
with the old man unt fooling with the children. Lot o' pesky nonsense,
marking up de walls dat a-way.'

"'Looks like very systematic nonsense,' said the Colonel very stern unt
sour. 'There may be something in it. Did you do this?' said he, turning
to me.

"'Yes, sir,' said I, 'I have a bad habit of marking when I'm talking. I
always done it, even when I was a child. My mother used to often slap me
for spoiling the walls, but she could never break me of it.'

"'Humph,' said he, not at all satisfied with my story, unt looking at
the scratches harder than ever. 'Who are you, unt what are you doing
here?'

"I told him my story about buying Mexican silver dollars, unt showed him
a lot of the dollars I'd bought.

"'Your story ain't reasonable,' said he. 'You haven't done bizniss
enough to pay you for all the time you've spent around the army. I'll
put you under guard till I can look into your case.'

"He called to the Sergeant of the Guard, unt ordered him to take charge
of me. The Sergeant was that same dirty loafer. Bob Smiles, that I had
the trouble with by Wilson's Creek. He kicked me unt pounded me, unt put
me on my horse, with my hands tied behind me, unt my feet tied under the
horse's belly. I was almost dead by night, when we reached Headquarters.
They gave me something to{58} eat, unt I laid down on the floor of the
cabin, wishing I was Pontius Pilate, so that I could crucify every man
in the Southern Confedrisy, especially Bob Smiles. An hour or two later
I heard Bob Smiles swearing again."

[Illustration: THE SPY IN CUSTODY. 58]

"'Make out the names of all the prisoners I have,' he was saying, 'with
where they belong unt the charges against them. I can't. Do they take
me for a counter-jumping clerk? I didn't come into the army to be a
white-faced bookkeeper, I sprained{59} my thumb the other day, unt I
can't write even a Httle bit. What am I to do?'

"That was all moonshine about his spraining his thumb. He vas ignorant
as a jackass. If he had 40 thumbs he couldn't write even his own name
so's anybody could read it.

"'I don't believe these's a man in a mile of here that can make out
such a list,' he went on. They're all a set of hominy-eating blockheads.
Perhaps that hook-nosed Jew might. He's the man. I'll make him do it, or
break his swindling head.'

"He come in, kicked me, unt made me get up, unt then took me out unt set
me down at a table, where he had paper, pen unt ink, unt ordered me to
take down the names of the prisoners as he brought them up. He'd look
over my shoulder as I wrote, as if he was reading what I set down, but
I knowed that he couldn't make out a letter. I was tempted to write all
sorts of things about him, but I didn't, for I was in enough trouble
already. When I come to my own name, he said:

"'Make de charge a spy, a thief, unt a Dutch traitor to the Southern
Confedrisy.'

"I just wrote: 'Levi Rosenbaum, Memphis, Tenn. Merchant. No charge.'

"He scowled very wisely at it, unt pretended to read it, unt said:

"'It's lucky for you that you wrote it just as I told you. I'd 'a' broke
every bone in your body if you hadn't.'

"I'd just got done when an officer come down from Headquarters for it.
He looked it over unt said:

"'Who made this out?'

"'Why, I made it out,' said Bob Smiles, bold as brass.

"'But who wrote it?" said de officer.

"'O, I sprained my thumb, so I couldn't write very well, unt I made a
Jew prisoner copy it,' said Bob Smiles.

"'It's the best writing I have seen,' said the officer. 'I want the man
what wrote it to go with me to Headquarters at once. I have some copying
there to be done at once, unt not one of them corn-crackers that I have
up there can write anything fit to read. Bring that man out here unt I
will take him with me."

"Bob Smiles hated to let me go, but he couldn't help himself, unt I went
with the officer. I was so tired I could hardly move a step, unt I felt
I could not write a word. But I seemed to see a chance at Headquarters,
unt I determined to make every effort to do something. They gave me a
stiff horn of whisky unt set me to work. They wanted me to make out unt
copy a consolidated report of the army.

"I almost forgot I was tired when I found out what they wanted, for I
saw a chance to get something of great value. They'd been trying to make
up a report from all sorts of scraps unt sheets of paper sent in from
the different Headquarters, unt they had spoiled a half-dozen big sheets
of paper after they'd got them partly done. If I do say it myself, I can
write better and faster and figure quicker than most any man you ever
saw. Those rebels thought they had got hold of a wonder--a{61} lightning
calculator unt lightning penman together.

"As fast as I could copy one paper, unt it would prove to be all right,
I would fold it up unt stick it into a big yaller envelope. I also
folded up the spoiled reports, unt stuck them in the envelope, saying
that I wanted to get rid of them--put them where seeing them wouldn't
bother me. I carefully slipped the envelope under the edge of a pile
of papers near the edge of the table. I had another big yaller envelope
that looked just like it lying in the middle of the table, into which I
stuck papers that didn't amount to nothing. I was very slick about it,
unt didn't let them see that I had two envelopes.

"It was past midnight when I got the consolidated report made out, unt
the rebels was tickled to death with it. They'd never seen anything so
well done before. They wanted a copy made to keep, unt I said I'd
make one, though I was nearly dead for sleep. I really wasn't, for the
excitement made me forget all about being tired.

"I was determined, before I slept, to have that yellow envelope, with
all those papers, in General Curtis's hands, though he was 40 miles
away. How in the world I was going to do it I could not think, but I
was going to do it, if I died a trying. The first thing was to get that
envelope off the table into my clothes; the next, to get out of that
cabin, away from Bob Smiles unt his guards, through the rebel lines, unt
over the mountains to General Curtis's camp. It was a dark, windy night,
unt things were in confusion about the camp--just the kind of a time
when{62} anybody might kill a Jew pedler, unt no questions would be
asked.

"I had got the last copy finished, unt the officers was going over it.
They had their heads together, not 18 inches from me, across the table.
I had my fingers on the envelope, but I didn't dare slip it out,
though my fingers itched. I was in hopes that they'd turn around, or do
something that'd give me a chance.

"Suddenly Bob Smiles opened the door wide, unt walked in, with a
dispatch in his hand. The wind swept in, blew the candles out, unt sent
de papers flying about the room. Some went into the fire. The officers
yelled unt swore at him, unt he shut the door, but I had the envelope in
my breast-pocket.

"Then to get away. How in the name of Moses unt the ten commandments was
I to do that?

"One of the officers said to Bob Smiles: 'Take this man away unt take
good care of him until to-morrow. We'll want him again. Give him a good
bed, unt plenty to eat, unt treat him well. We'll need him to-morrow.'

"'Come on, you pork-hating Jew,' said Bob Smiles crabbedly. 'I'll give
you a mess of spare-ribs unt corn-dodgers for supper.'

"'You'll do nothing of the kind,' said the officer. 'I told you to treat
him well, unt if you don't treat him well, I'll see about it. Give him a
bed in that house where de orderlies stay.'

"Bob Smiles grumbled unt swore at me, unt we vent out, but there was
nothing to do but to obey orders. He give me a good place, unt some
coffee unt bread, unt I lay down pretending to go to sleep.{63}

"I snored away like a good feller, unt presently I heard some one come
in. I looked a little out the corner of my eye, unt see by the light of
the fire that Bob Smiles was sneaking back. He watched me for a minute,
unt then put his hand on me.

"I was scared as I never was, for I thought he vas after my precious
yaller envelope. But I thought of my bowie knife, which I always carried
out of sight in my bosom, unt resolved dat I vould stick it in his
heart, if he tried to take away my papers. But I never moved. He felt
over me until he come to de pocket where I had the silver dollars, unt
then slipped his fingers in, unt pulled them out one by one, just as
gently as if he vas smoothing the hair of a cat. I let him take them
all, without moving a muscle. I was glad to haf him take them. I knowed
that he was playing poker somewhere, unt had run out of cash, unt would
take my money unt go back to his game.

"As soon as I heard his footsteps disappear in the distance, I got up
unt sneaked down to where the Headquarters horses were tied. I must get
a fresh one, because my own vas played nearly out. He would never do to
carry me over the rough roads I must ride before morning. But when I
got there I saw a guard pacing up unt down in front of them. I had not
counted on this, unt for a minit my heart stood still. There were no
other horses anywheres around.

"I hesitated, looked up at Headquarters, unt saw de lights still
burning, unt made up my mind at once to risk everything on one desperate
chance. I remembered that I had put in my envelope some{64} blank sheets
of paper, with Headquarters, Army of the Frontier,' unt a rebel flag on
dem. There was a big fire burning ofer to the right mit no one near. I
went up in de shadow of a tree, where I could see by the firelight, took
out one of the sheets of paper unt wrote on it an order to have a horse
saddled for me at once. Then I slipped back so that it would look as if
I was coming straight from Headquarters, unt walked up to the guard unt
handed him the order. He couldn't read a word, but he recognized the
heading on the paper, unt I told him the rest. He thought there was
nothing for him to do but obey.

"While he was getting the horse I wrote out, by the fire, a pass for
myself through the guards. I was in a hurry, you bet, unt it was all
done mighty quick, unt I was on the horse's back unt started. I had lost
all direction, but I knowed that I had to go generally to the northeast
to get to General Curtis. But I got confused again, unt found I was
riding around unt around the camp without getting out at all. I even
come up again near the big fire, just where I wrote out the pass.

"Just then what should I hear but Bob Smiles's voice. He had lost all
his money--all my money--at poker, unt was damning the fellers he had
been playing with as cheats. He was not in a temper to meet, unt I
knowed he would see me if I went by the big fire; but I was desperate,
unt I stuck the spurs into my horse unt he shot ahead. I heard Bob
Smiles yell:

"'There is that Jew. Where is he going? Halt, there! Stop him!'{65}

"I knowed that if I stopped now I would be hung sure. The only safety
was to go as fast as I could. I dashed away, where, I didn't know.
Directly a guard halted me, but I showed him my pass, unt he let me go
on. While he was looking at it I strained my ears, unt could hear horses
galloping my way. I knowed it was Bob Smiles after me. My horse was a
good one, unt I determined to get on the main road unt go as fast as I
could. I could see by the campfires that I was now getting away from
the army, unt I began to hope that I was going north. I kept my horse
running.

"Pretty soon the pickets halted me, but I didn't stop to answer them. I
just bolted ahead. The chances of their shooting me wasn't as dreadful
as of Bob Smiles catching me. They fired at me, but I galloped right
through them, unt through a rain of bullets that they sent after me. I
felt better then, for I was confident I was out in the open country, but
I kept my horse on the run. It seemed to me that I went a hundred miles.

"Just as the day was breaking in the east, I heard a voice, with a
strong German accent call out the brush:

"'Halt! Who comes there?'

[Illustration: ROSENBAUM RUNS INTO SIGEL'S PICKETS. 66]

"I was so glad that I almost fainted, for I knowed that I'd reached
General Sigel's pickets. I couldn't get my lips to answer.

"There came a lot of shots, unt one of them struck my horse in the head,
unt he fell in the road, throwing me over his head. The pickets run out
unt picked me up. The German language sounded the sweetest I ever heard
it.{66}

"As soon as I could make myself talk, I answered them in German, unt
told them who I was. Then they couldn't do enough for me. They helped
me back to where they could get an ambulance, in which they sent me to
Headquarters, for I was top weak to ride or walk a step. I handed my
yellow envelope to General Curtis, got a dram of whisky to keep me up
while I answered his questions, unt then went to{67} sleep, unt slept
through the whole battle of Pea Ridge.

"After the battle, General Curtis wanted to know how much he ought to
pay me, but I told him that all I wanted was to serve the country, unt I
was already paid many times over, by helping him win a victory.

"But I concluded that there was too much Bob Smiles in that country for
me, unt I had better leave for some parts where I was not likely to meet
him. So I crossed the Mississippi River, unt joined General Rosecrans's
Headquarters."



CHAPTER V. THE BOYS GO SPYING

ON AN EXPEDITION WITH ROSENBAUM THEY MAKE A CAPTURE.

MR. ROSENBAUM'S stories of adventure were not such as to captivate the
boys with the career of a spy. But the long stay in camp was getting
very tedious, and they longed for something to break the monotony of
camp guard and work on the interminable fortifications. Therefore, when
Mr. Rosenbaum came over one morning with a proposition to take them
out on an expedition, he found them ready to go. He went to Regimental
Headquarters, secured a detail for them, and, returning to the Hoosier's
Rest, found the boys lugubriously pulling over a pile of homespun
garments they had picked up among the teamsters and campfollowers.

"I suppose we've got to wear 'em, Shorty," said Si, looking very
disdainfully at a butternut-colored coat and vest. "But I'd heap rather
wear a mustard plaster. I'd be a heap comfortabler."

"I ain't myself finicky about clothes," answered Shorty. "I ain't no
swell--never was. But somehow I've got a prejudice in favor of blue as a
color, and agin gray and brown. I only like gray and brown on a corpse.
They make purty grave clothes. I always like to bury a man what has
butternut clothes on."{69}

"What are you doing with them dirty rags, boys?" asked Rosenbaum, in
astonishment, as he surveyed the scene.

"Why, we've got to wear 'em, haven't we, if we go out with you?" asked
Si.

"You wear them when you go out with me--you disguise yourselves," said
Rosenbaum, with fine scorn. "You'd play the devil in disguise. You can't
disguise your tongues. That's the worst. Anybody'd catch on to that
Indianny lingo first thing. You've got to speak like an educated
man--speak like I do--to keep people from finding out where you're from.
I speak correct English always. Nobody can tell where I'm from."

The boys had hard work controlling their risibles over Mr. Rosenbaum's
self-complacency.

"What clothes are we to wear, then?" asked Si, much puzzled.

"Wear what you please; wear the clothes you have on, or anything else.
This is not to be a full-dress affair. Gentlemen can attend in their
working clothes if they want to."

"I don't understand," mumbled Si.

"Of course, you don't," said Rosenbaum gaily. "If you did, you would know
as much as I do, unt I wouldn't have no advantage."

"All right," said Shorty. "We've decided to go it blind. Go ahead. Fix
it up to suit yourself. We are your huckleberries for anything that you
kin turn up. It all goes in our $13 a month."

"O. K.," answered Rosenbaum. "That's the right way. Trust me, unt I will
bring you out all straight. Now, let me tell you something. When you{70}
captured me, after a hard struggle, as you remember (and he gave as much
of a wink as his prominent Jewish nose would admit), I was an officer
on General Roddey's staff. It was, unt still is, my business to keep up
express lines by which the rebels are supplied with quinine, medicines,
gun-caps, letters, giving information, unt other things. Unt I do it."

The boys opened their eyes wide, and could not restrain an exclamation
of surprise.

"Now, hold your horses; don't get excited," said Rosenbaum calmly. "You
don't know as much about war as I do--not by a hundred per cent. These
things are always done in every war, unt General Rosecrans understands
the tricks of war better as any man in the army. He beats them all when
it comes to getting information about the enemy. He knows that a dog
that fetches must carry, unt that the best way is to let a spy take a
little to the enemy, unt bring a good deal back.

"The trouble at the battle of Stone River was that the spies took more
to General Bragg than they brought to General Rosecrans. But General
Rosecrans was new to the work then. It won't be so in future. He knows a
great deal more about the rebels now than they know about him, thanks to
such men as me."

"I don't know as we ought to have anything to do with this, Shorty,"
said Si dubiously. "At least, we ought to inquire of the Colonel first."

"That's all right--that's all right," said Rosenbaum quickly. "I've got
the order from the Colonel which will satisfy you. Read it yourself."

He handed the order to Si, who looked carefully{71} at the printed
heading, "Headquarters, 200th Ind., near Murfreesboro', Tenn.," and then
read the order aloud to Shorty: "Corporal Josiah Klegg and one private,
whom he may select, will report to Mr. Levi Rosenbaum for special duty,
and will obey such orders and instructions as he may give, and on return
report to these Headquarters. By order of the Colonel. Philip Blake,
Adjutant."

"That seems all straight. Shorty," said Si, folding up the order, and
putting it in his pocket.

"Straight as a string," assented Shorty. "I'm ready, anyway. Go ahead,
Mr. Cheap Clothing. I don't care much what it is, so long's it ain't
shovelin' and diggin' on the fortifications. I'll go down to Tullahoma
and pull old Bragg out of his tent rather than handle a pick and shovel
any longer."

"Well, as I was going to tell you, I have been back to Tullahoma several
times since you captured me, unt I have got the express lines between
here unt there running pretty well. I have to tell them all sorts of
stories how I got away from the Yankees. Luckily, I have a pretty good
imagination, unt can furnish them with first-class narratives.

"But there is one feller on the staff that I'm afraid of. His name is
Poke Bolivar, unt he is a terrible feller, I tell you. Always full of
fight, unt desperate when he gets into a fight. I've seen him bluff all
those other fellers. He is a red-hot Secessionist, unt wants to kill
every Yankee in the country. Of late he has seemed very suspicious of
me, unt has said lots of things that scared me. I want to settle him,
either kill him or take him prisoner, unt keep him away, so's I can feel
greater ease when I'm in{72} General Bragg's camp. I can't do that so
long as I know he's around, for I feel that his eyes are on me, unt that
he's hunting some way to trip me up.

"I'm going out now to meet him, at a house about five miles from the
lines. I have my pockets unt the pockets on my saddles full of letters
unt things. Just outside the lines I will get some more. He will meet me
unt we will go back to Tullahoma together--that is, if he don't kill me
before we get there. I have brought a couple of revolvers, in addition
to your guns, for Poke Bolivar's a terrible feller to fight, unt I want
you to make sure of him. I'd take more'n two men out, but I'm afraid
he'd get on to so many.

"I guess we two kin handle him," said Shorty, slipping his belt into
the holster of the revolver and buckling it on. "Give us a fair show at
him, and we don't want no help. I wouldn't mind having it out with Mr.
Bolivar all by myself."

"Well, my plan is for you to go out by yourselves to that place where
you were on picket. Then take the right-hand road through the creek
bottom, as if you were going foraging. About two miles from the creek
you will see a big hewed-log house standing on the left of the road. You
will know it by its having brick outside chimneys, unt de doors painted
blue unt yaller. There's no other house in that country like it.

"You're to keep out of sight as much as you can. Directly you will see
me come riding out, follered by a nigger riding another horse. I will go
up to the house, jump off, tie my horse, go inside, unt presently come
out unt tie a white cloth to{73} a post on the porch. That will be a
signal to Poke Bolivar, who will be watching from the hill a mile ahead.
You will see him come in, get off his horse, unt go into the house.

"By this time it will be dark, or nearly so. You slip up as quietly as
you can, right by the house, hiding yourselves behind the lilacs. If the
dogs run at you bayonet them. You can look through the windows, unt see
me unt Bolivar sitting by the fire talking, unt getting ready to start
for Tullahoma as soon as the nigger who is cooking our supper in the
kitchen outside gets it ready unt we eat it. You can wait till you see
us sit down to eat supper, unt then jump us. Better wait until we are
pretty near through supper, for I'll be very hungry, unt want all I can
get to keep me up for my long ride.

"You run in unt order us to surrender. I'll jump up unt blaze away with
my revolver, but you needn't pay much attention to me--only be careful
not to shoot me. While you are 'tending to Bolivar I'll get on my horse
unt skip out. You can kill Bolivar, or take him back to camp with
you, or do anything that you please, so long's you keep him away from
Tullahoma. You understand, now?"

"Perfectly," said Shorty. "I think we can manage it, and it looks like
a pretty good arrangement. You are to git away, and we're to git Mr.
Bolivar. Those two things are settled. Any change in the evening's
program will depend on Mr. Bolivar. If he wants a fight he kin git whole
gobs of it."

Going over the plan again, to make sure that the boys understood it,
and cautioning them once more as to the sanguinary character of Polk
Bolivar,{74} Mr. Rosenbaum started for his horse. He had gone but a
little ways when he came back with his face full of concern.

"I like you boys better than I can tell you," he said, taking their
hands affectionately, "unt I never would forgive myself if you got
hurt. Do you think that two of you'll be able to manage Poke Bolivar?
If you're not sure I'll get another man to help you. I think that I had
better, anyway."

"O, go along with you," said Shorty scornfully. "Don't worry about us
and Mr. Bolivar. I'd stack Si Klegg up against any man that ever wore
gray, in any sort of a scrimmage he could put up, and I'm a better man
than Si. You just favor us with a meeting with Mr. Bolivar, and then git
out o' the way. If it wasn't for dividing up fair with my partner here
I'd go out by myself and tackle Mr. Bolivar. You carry out your share of
the plan, and don't worry about us."

Rosenbaum's countenance brightened, and he hastened to mount and away.
The boys shouldered their guns and started out for the long walk. They
followed Rosenbaum's directions carefully, and arrived in sight of the
house, which they recognized at once, and got into a position from which
they could watch its front. Presently they saw Rosenbaum come riding
along the road and stop in front of the house. He tied his horse to
a scraggy locust tree, went in, and then reappeared and fastened the
signal to a post supporting the roof of the porch.

[Illustration: WATCHING THE HOUSE. 75]

They had not long to wait for the answer. Soon a horseman was seen
descending from the distant hill. As he came near he was anxiously
scanned,{75} and appeared a cavalier so redoubtable as to fully justify
Rosenbaum's apprehensions. He was a tall, strongly-built young man, who
sat on his spirited horse with easy and complete mastery of him. Even at
that distance it could be seen that he was heavily armed.

"Looks like a genuine fighter, and no mistake," said Si, examining the
caps on his revolver. "He'll be a stiff one to tackle."{76}

"We must be very careful not to let him get the drop on us," said
Shorty. "He looks quicker'n lightnin', and I've no doubt that he kin
shoot like Dan'l Boone. We might drop him from here with our guns," he
added suggestively.

"No," said Si, "that wouldn't be fair. And it wouldn't be the way
Rosenbaum wants it done. He's got his reasons for the other way.
Besides, I'd be a great deal better satisfied in my mind, if I could
have it out with him, hand-to-hand. It'd sound so much better in the
regiment."

"Guess that's so," assented Shorty. "Well, let's sneak up to the house."

When they got close to the house they saw that it had been deserted;
there were no dogs or other domestic animals about, and this allowed
them to get under the shade of the lilacs without discovery. The only
inmates were Rosenbaum and Bolivar, who were seated before a fire, which
Rosenbaum had built in the big fireplace in the main room. The negro was
busy cooking supper in the outbuilding which served as a kitchen. The
glass was broken out the window, and they could hear the conversation
between Rosenbaum and Bolivar.

It appeared that Rosenbaum had been making a report of his recent
doings, to which Bolivar listened with a touch of disdain mingled with
suspicion.

The negro brought in the supper, and the men ate it sitting by the fire.

[Introduction: BOLIVAR AND ROSENBAUM 77]

"I declare," said Bolivar, stopping with a piece of bread and meat in
one hand and a tin-cup of coffee in the other, "that for a man who is
devoted to the{77} South you can mix up with these Yankees with less
danger to yourself and to them than any man I ever knew. You never
get hurt, and you never hurt any of them. That's a queer thing for a
soldier. War means hurting people, and getting hurt yourself. It
means taking every chance to hurt some of the enemy. I never miss any
opportunity of killing a Yankee, no matter what I may be doing, or what
the risk is to me. I can't help myself. Whenever I see a Yankee in
range I let him have it. I never go near their lines without killing at
least{78} one."

Shorty's thumb played a little with his gunlock, but Si restrained him
with a look.

"Well," said Rosenbaum, "I hates the enemy as badly as any one can, but
I always have business more important at the time than killing men. I
want to get through with what I have to do, unt let other men do the
killing. There's enough gentlemen like you for that work."

"No, there's not enough," said Bolivar savagely. "It's treasonable for
you to say so. Our enemies outnumber us everywhere. It is the duty of
every true Southern man to kill them off at every chance, like he would
rattlesnakes and wolves. You are either not true to the South, or you
hain't the right kind of grit. Why, you have told me yourself that
you let two Yankees capture you, without firing a shot. Think of it; a
Confederate officer captured by two Yankee privates, without firing a
shot."

"They had the dead drop on me," murmured Rosenbaum. "If I had moved
they'd killed me sure."

"Dead drop on you!" repeated Bolivar scornfully. "Two men with muskets
have the dead drop on you! And you had a carbine and a revolver. Why,
I have ridden into a nest of 10 or 15 Yankees, who had me covered with
their guns. I killed three of them, wounded three others, and run the
rest away with my empty revolver. If I'd had another revolver, not one
would've got away alive. I always carry two revolvers now."

"I think our guns'll be in the way in that room," said Shorty, sotting
his down. His face bore a look of stern determination. "They're too
long. I'm itching to have it out with that feller hand-to-hand.{79}
We'll rush in. You pretend to be goin' for Rosenbaum and leave me to
have it out with Mr. Bolivar. Don't you mix in at all. If I don't settle
him he ought to be allowed to go."

"No," said Si decisively. "I'm your superior officer, and it's my
privilege to have the first shy at him. I'll 'tend to him. I want a
chance singlehanded at a man that talks that way. You take care of
Rosenbaum."

"We mustn't dispute," said Shorty, stooping down and picking up a couple
of straws. "Here, pull. The feller that gits the longest 'tends to
Bolivar; the other to Rosenbaum."

Si drew and left the longer straw in Shorty's hand. They drew their
revolvers and rushed for the room, Shorty leading, Rosenbaum and Bolivar
sprang up in alarm at the sound of their feet on the steps, and drew
their revolvers.

"Surrender, you infernal rebels," shouted the boys, as they bolted
through the door.

With the quickness of a cat, Rosenbaum had sidled near the door through
which they had come. Suddenly he fired two shots into the ceiling, and
sprang through the door so quickly that Si had merely the chance to fire
a carefully-aimed shot through the top of his hat. Si jumped toward the
door again, and fired a shot in the air, for still further make-believe.
He would waste no more, but reserve the other four for Bolivar, if he
should need them.

Shorty confronted Bolivar with fierce eyes and leveled revolver, eagerly
watching every movement and expression. The rebel was holding his pistol
pointed upward, and his eyes looked savage. As his eyes met Shorty's the
latter was amazed to see him close the left with a most emphatic wink.
Seeing this was recognized, the rebel fired two shots into the ceiling,
and motioned with his left hand to Si to continue firing. Without quite
understanding. Si fired again. The rebel gave a terrific yell and fired
a couple of shots out the window.

"Do the same," he said to Shorty, who complied, as Si had done, in
half-comprehension. The rebel handed his revolver to Shorty, stepped to
the window and listened.

[Illustration: THE SURPRISE 79]

There came the sounds of two horses galloping away on the hard, rocky
road.

"He's gone, and taken the nigger with him," he said contentedly, turning
from the window, and giving another fierce yell. "Better fire the other
two shots out of that pistol, to hurry him along."

Shorty fired the remaining shots out of the rebel's revolver.

"What regiment do you belong to, boys?" asked Bolivar calmly.

"The 200th Ind.," answered Si, without being able to control his
surprise.

"A very good regiment," said the rebel. "What's your company?"

"Co. Q," answered Si.

"Who's your Colonel?"

"Col. Duckworth."

"Who's your Captain?"

"Capt. McGillicuddy."

"All right," said the rebel, with an air of satisfaction. "I asked
those questions to make sure you were genuine Yankees. One can't be too
careful in my business. I'm in the United States Secret Service, and
have to be constantly on the watch to keep it from being played on me by
men pretending to be Yankees when they are rebels, and rebels when they
are Yankees. I always make it the first point to ask them the names
of their officers. I know almost all the officers in command on both
sides."

"You in the Secret Service?" exploded the boys.{82}

They were on the point of adding "too," but something whispered to them
not to betray Rosenbaum.

"Yes," answered Bolivar. "I've just come from Tullahoma, where I've been
around Bragg's Headquarters. I wanted to get inside our lines, but I was
puzzled how to do it. That Jew you've just run off bothered me. I wish
to the Lord you'd killed him. I'm more afraid of him than any other man
in Bragg's army. He's smart as a briar, always nosing around where
you don't want him, and anxious to do something to commend him to
Headquarters, Jew like. I've thought he suspected me, for he'd been
paying special attention to me for some weeks. Two or three times I've
been on the point of tailing him into the woods somewhere and killing
him, and so get rid of him. It's all right now. He'll go back to
Tullahoma with a fearful story of the fight I made against you, and that
I am probably killed. I'll turn up there in a week or two with my own
story, and I'll give him fits for having skipped out and left me to
fight you two alone. Say, it's a good ways to camp. Let's start at once,
for I want to get to Headquarters as soon as possible."

"You've got another revolver there," said Si, who had prudently reloaded
his own weapon.

"That's so," said Bolivar, pulling it out. "You can take and carry it or
I'll take the cylinder out, if you are not convinced about me."

"You'd better let me carry it," said Shorty, shoving the revolver in
his own belt. "These are queer times, and one can't be too careful with
rebels who{83} claim to be Yankees, and Yankees who claim to be rebels."

They trudged back to camp, taking turns riding the horse. When the rebel
rode, however, one of the boys walked alongside with the bridle in his
hand. All doubts as to Bolivar's story were dispelled by his instant
recognition by the Provost-Marshal, who happened to be at the
picket-post when they reached camp.

"The longer I live," remarked Shorty, as they made their way along to
the Hoosier's Rest, "and I seem to live a little longer every day, the
less I seem to understand about this war."

Shorty spoke as if he had had an extensive acquaintance with wars.

"The only thing that I've come to be certain about," assented Si, "is
that you sometimes most always can't generally tell."

And they proceeded to get themselves some supper, accompanying the
work of denunciations of the Commissary for the kind of rations he was
drawing for the regiment, and of the Orderly-Sergeant for his letting
the other Orderlies eucher him out of the company's fair share.



CHAPTER VI. LETTER FROM HOME

THE DEACON'S TROUBLES IN GETTING HOME WITH ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

ONE MORNING the Orderly-Sergeant handed Si the following letter:

Deer Son: I got hoam safely a weke ago, thanks 2 all-protecting
Providens; likewise 2 about 175 pound of tuff & helthy Josiah Klegg.
Providens helpt rite along, but it tuk 50-year-old Injianny hickory &
whit-leather 2 pull through sum ov the tite plasis.

Abraham Lincoln is as strong as an ox, but I never thought that anything
that diddent wear horns or chew the cud could be so measly dumb. He kin
eat as much as Buck, our off-steer, & I declare I don't believe he knows
any more.

We had only bin on the train long enuff for Abe to finish up the whole
of the 3 days rations you provided us with 2 last us home, when I
notist that Blowhard Billings was on board. He was still dressed in full
uniform, & playin off officer yit, but I happened 2 recolleck that he
was no officer no more, & it wuz lucky that I done so. He wuz lookin at
me & Abe hard with them mean, fatfish ize ov hizn.

Jest as a matter ov precaushon. I make Abe change seats with me & taik
the inside. Billings{85} caim up. You know what I thought ov him ov old,
& there's never bin any love lost betwixt us sence I stopped him cheatin
poor Eli Mitchell outen his plow-team. I told him then that the coppers
on a dead nigger's eyes wuzzent saif when he wuz around, & I woulddent
trust him ez fur ez I could sling a bull by the tale. He got mad at
this & never got over it. I never encouraged him to. I woulddent feel
satisfied with myself if he wuzzent mad at me. I coulddent change my
opinion, even when he tried to steal into respectability by goin
into the army. I knowed he'd do anything but fite, & woulddent've bin
supprized any day by hearing that him and the other mules in camp had
disappeared together.

Presently Billings he cum up very corjil like & says:

"Howdy, Deacon. I hope you air very well."

I told him I wuz tollable peart, and he says:

"I see a man in the third car forward that wuz inquiring for you, and
wanted to see you powerful bad."

"That so?" says I, unconcernedlike.

"Yes," says he. "He wuz awful anxious to see you, and I said I'd send
you to him if I cum acrost you."

Somehow, I dropped onto it in a minnit that he wuz schemin' to git me
away from Abraham Lincoln--

"Well," says I, "it's about ez fur for me forward to him as it is for
him back here to me. I don't know as I want to see him at all. If he
wants to see me so bad let him cum back here."{86}

"I think I'd go forward and see him," said Billings, sort ov
impatient-like. "You'll have no trouble finding him. He's in the
third car from here, up at the front end, right-hand side, next to the
watercooler. He inquired most partickerlerly for you."

"Probably he wants 2 borry money," says I, without stirrin'. "Men
that want particularly 2 see me always do. Well, I hain't got none 2
lend--hain't got no more'n 'll talk me hoam."

"You'd better go forward & see him," he said very bossy like, as if he
was orderin me.

"I'd better stay right here, & I'm goin' to stay," says I, so decided
that Billings see that it was no use.

His patience gave clean away.

"Look here, Klegg," said he, mad as a hornet, "I'm after that ere nigger
you're trying to steal away into Injianny, and by the holy poker I'm
goin' to have him! Come along here, you black ape," and he laid his
hand on Abe Lincoln's collar. Abe showed the white ov his eyes as big as
buckeyes, put his arm around the piece betwixt the winders, and held on
for deer life. I see by the grip he tuk that the only way 2 git him wuz
2 tear out the side of the car, and I thought I'd let them tussle it out
for a minnit or 2.

The others in the car who thought it grate fun to see a
Lieutenant-Kurnol wrastlin' with a nigger, laffed and yelled:

"Go it, nigger,"

"Go it, Kurnel,"

"Grab a root,"

"I'l bet on the nigger if the car is stout onuf,"{87} and sich. Jest
then Groundhog cum runnin' up to help Billings, and reached over and
ketched Abe, but I hit him a good biff with the musket that changed his
mind. Billings turned on me, and called out to the others:

"Men, I order you to arrest this man and tie him up."

Sum ov them seemed a-mind to obey, but I sung out:

"Feller-citizens, he ain't no officer--no more'n I am. He ain't got no
right to wear shoulder-straps, and he knows it as well as I do."

At this they all turned agin him & began yellin at him 2 put his head
in a bag. He turned 2 me savage as a meat-ax, but I ketched him by
the throat, & bent him back over the seat. The Provo-Guard cum up, & I
explained it 2 them, & showed my passes for me & Abe. So they made us
all sit down & keep quiet.

Bimeby we got to Nashville. Abe Lincoln wuz hungry, & I stopped 2 git
him something to eat. My gracious, the lot ov ham & aigs at 50 cents a
plate & sandwiches at 25 cents a piece that contraband kin eat. He never
seemed 2 git full. He looked longingly at the pies, but I let him look.
I wuzzent runnin no Astor House in connexion with the Freedmen's buro.

We walked through the city, crost on the ferry, & wuz jest gittin in the
cars which wuz about ready 2 start, when up comes Billings agin, with
2 or 3 other men in citizen's cloze. One ov these claps his hand on my
shoulder & says:

"I'm a Constable, & I arrest you in the name ov{88} the State ov
Tennessee for abductin a slave. Make no trubble, but come along with
me."

I jest shook him off, & clumb onto the platform, pullin Abe after me.
The Constable & his men follered us, but I got Abe Lincoln inside the
door, shet it & made him put his shoulders agin it. The Constable & his
2 assistants wuz buttin away at it, & me grinnin at them when the train
pulled off, & they had 2 jump off. I begin 2 think there wuz something
good in Abe Lincoln, after all, & when we stopped at an eatin-plais,
about half-way 2 Louisville, & Abe looked at the grub as if he haddent
had a mouthful sence the war begun, I busted a $2-bill all 2 pieces
gittin' him a little supper. If I wuz goin into the bizniss ov freein
slaves I'd want 2 have a mule train haulin grub follering me at every
step.

Abe wuz awful hungry agin when we reached Louisville, but I found a
place where a dollar would buy him enuf pork & beans 2 probably last him
over the river.

But I begun 2 be efeard that sum nosin pryin Mike Medler might make
trubble in gitting Abe safely acrost the Ohio. I tuk him 2 a house, &
laid it down strong 2 him that he must stay inside all day, and 2 make
sure I bargained with the woman 2 keep him eating as much as she could.
I ruined a $5 bill, & even then Abe looked as if he could hold some
more. I've always made it a pint 2 lend 2 the Lord for the benefit ov
the heathen as much as my means would allow, but I begun 2 think that my
missionary contribushions this year would beat what I was layin out on
my family.{89}

After it got dark, me & Abe meandered down through the streets 2 the
ferry. There wuzzent many people out, except soljers, & I've got 2 feel
purty much at home with them. They seem more likely 2 think more nearly
my way than folks in every-day clothes.

There wuz quite a passel ov soljers on the wharf boat waitin' for the
ferry when we got there. They saw at wuns that I had probably bin down
2 the front 2 see my son, & sum ov them axed me 2 what rigiment he
belonged. When I told them the 200th Injianny Volunteer Infantry they
all made friends with me at wunst, for they said they knowed it wuz a
good rigiment.

Bimeby a big, important-lookin' man, with a club with a silver head for
a cane, cum elbowin through the crowd & scowling at everybody as if he
owned the wharf-boat & all on it. He stopped in frunt ov Abraham Lincoln
& says very sharp & cross:

"Boy, where did you come from?"

Abe diddent say nothin'. His ize got all white, he grinned sort ov
scared like, showed his white teeth, & looked sickly over at me. I spoke
up & says:

"I brung him along with me from Murfreesboro'."

"So I sposed," said he. "He's a slave you're tryin 2 steal from his
master. You can't do it. I'll jest take charge ov him myself. That's my
dooty here," & he ketched hold ov Abraham Lincoln's collar. Abe, in
his scare, put out his arms to ketch hold ov something, & throwed them
around the big important man, & lifted him clean offen his feet. I never
before realized how strong Abe wuz. The soljers gethered around, purty
mad, and then laffin and{90} yellin when they see the man in Abe's arms.
Suddenly sum one hollered:

"Throw him overboard; throw him in the river." Abe was wuss scared than
ever when he found he had the man in his arms. He wuz afeared 2 hold on
& still more afeared 2 let go. He heard them hollerin, & thought he had
2 do jest as they said, & begun edgin toward the river.

The man got more scared than Abe. He began kickin & wrigglin & hollerin:

"Don't let him do it. Help me. I can't swim a lick."

At this the men hollered worsen ever:

"Throw him in the river! Duck him! Baptize him! Drown him!"

I'm a Baptist, but I don't believe in immersion onless the convert has
bin prepared for it, & is willin, which neither this man wuz. I stepped
forward 2 make Abe let him down, but before T could do anything Abe
had got 2 the edge of the wharfboat & let go, & plunk went the man into
about 10 foot ov water. Abe, scared now nearly 2 death, stood there with
his ize biggern sassers & whitern goose-eggs.

In a minnit the man cum up, sputterin & hollerin. A big Sergeant, with
his left arm in a sling, reached over & ketchod him by the collar & held
his head above water.

"If I pull you out will you promis 2 go out ov the niggor-kotchin
bizniss forever?" axed the Sergeant.

"Pull me out & then I'll talk 2 you," says the man grabbin for the
slippery sides ov the wharfboat.{91}

"No, I won't," said the Sergeant, sousin him under water agin.

"Yes, yes, I'll promise," says the man, when he come up agin.

"Will you swear it?" axed the Sergeant.

"Yes, I'll swear it before a Justice ov the Peace."

"Will you swear 2 support the Constitution ov the United States agin all
enemies & opposers whatsumever, & vote for Abraham Lincoln every time?"
axed the Sergeant.

"I'll take the oath ov allegiance," says the man, sputterin the water
out ov his mouth, "but I'll never vote for that Abolition ape as long as
I live."

"Then down you go," says the Sergeant, sousin him again.

"Yes, yes, I'll vote for Abe Lincoln, & anybody else, if you'll only
pull me out," said the man, in a tired tone of voice, when he cum up
agin. I begin 2 see that immersion had a great deal ov good in it, even
if a man isn't prepared & willin.

"Will you swear 2 always love a nigger as a man & a brother, until death
do you part, & aid & comfort all them who are tryin 2 git away from
slavery?" axed the Sergeant.

"Damned if I will," says the man. "No nigger kin ever be a brother 2 me.
I'll die first."

"Then you'll die right now," says the Sergeant, sendin him down as far
as his long arm would reach & holding him there until I wuz scared for
fear he wuz really goin 2 drown the man. When he brung him up the man
whimpered:

"Yes, only pull me out--save my life--& I'll do anything you want."{92}

By this time the ferryboat had cum up. We got aboard & crost over to
Injianny, & I felt so glad at bein on my nativ soil wuns more that I
took Abe up 2 the eatin stand, & blowed in a dollar filin up the vacant
plasis in his hide.

When we tried 2 git on the train there cum another trubble: The
conductor woulddent let him ride in the car with white folks--not even
in the smokin-car. He made him go into the baggage-car. Abe wuz so
scared about leavin me for a minnit in' that strange country that I
tried 2 go into the baggage-car with him, but the conductor woulddent
let me. He said it wuz agin the rules for passengers to ride in the
baggage-cars, but Abe could go in there, same as dogs, prize poultry, &
household pets. I tried 2 joke with him, tellin him that in sum plasis
I wuz considered a household pet, but he said Ide have 2 git another mug
on me before he could believe it.

One of Zeke Biltner's hogs ditched the train jest before we got home, &
turned the baggage-car over. Sum crates ov aigs wuz smashed over Abraham
Lincoln, & he wuz a sight to behold. He wuz awfully scared, though, &
begged me 2 let him go the rest ov the way on foot. He said he wuz
a thousand years older than when he left his ole massa, & I could
understand what he meant.

I found your mother & the girls bright & chipper & jest tickled 2 death
to see me safe back. They axed me so many questions about you & Shorty
that my head buzzed like a bee-hive. It is hard 2 git away from them
2 tend 2 my Spring work, but I've made an arrangement 2 giv em an hour
mornin{93} & evenin 2 answerin questions. I think this will keep me
purty busy till the snow flise agin.

Wheat is lookin surprisinly well, though I found sum bare plasis in the
north field. I think we'll have a fair crop ov apples and peaches. Your
colt is growin up the purtiest thing that ever went on four legs, &
jumped an eight-rail fence. My hogs wintered in good shape, & pork is
risin. They have the measles over on the Crick, & school's broke up.
Bill Scripp's out agin for Sheriff, & I spose I'le have 2 turn 2 agin &
beat him. Singler, that he'll never know when he's got enuff.

If anything, Abraham Lincoln's appetite has bin improved by Wabash air.
I wuzzent goin 2 have the wimmen folks wear theirselves out cookin for
him. So I fix-ed up a place for him in the old log house, & took him
over some sides ov meat, a few bushel ov pertaters, a jug ov sorghum
molasses, & every time mother bakes she sends over some leaves ov bread.
I jest turned him loose there. He seems 2 be very happy, & we hear him
singin & yellin most all the time when he's by hisself. He's a good
worker when I stand right over him, & he'll lift & dig as patient as an
ox. But he hain't no more sense about goin ahead by hisself than a steer
has, & the moment my back's turned he stops work. Ime af eared I've got
a job on my hands makin a firstclass farmer out ov him. But if that's my
share ov the work that Providens has chalked out for me, there's nothin
left for me but 2 go ahead & do it in fear & tremblin.

No more from your affeckshionate father.

P. S. Give my best respects 2 Shorty.



CHAPTER VII. CORN PONE AND BUTTERMILK

SI AND SHORTY GO FORAGING AND ARE CAPTURED AND ROBBED

SI AND SHORTY got the common feeling of men of some months' service,
that they had fully mastered the art of war, and that there was little,
if anything, left for them to learn. It did not take some men even so
long as months to acquire this pleasant idea of themselves. Some entered
the army feeling quite capable of giving advice to the oldest General in
it, and they were not slow about offering their opinions.

Si and Shorty had had successes enough since their enlistment to
develop a self-confidence which might be pardoned if it expanded into
self-sufficiency and vanity.

The 200th Ind. had been sent out on a reconnoissance toward Shelbyville.
No sign of rebels in force developed in any direction, and Si and Shorty
got permission to go off on a little scout of their own.

"No use o' huntin' rebels with a brass band," said Si, who, since his
association with Mr. Rosenbaum, had gotten some idea that stealth and
cunning were efficient war powers. "We kin jest slip around out
here somewhere, and if there is any rebels, find 'em, and git more
information than the whole regiment kin."

"I'm not so thirsty for information and rebels{95} as I am for some
fresh buttermilk," said Shorty. "Somehow, I've been hankering for
buttermilk and cornpone for days. I hain't had any for a coon's age, and
it'd go mighty good as a change from camp rations. Buttermilk and rebels
sometimes grow near together. You look for one, I'll look for the other.
Mebbe we kin git both."

"I wouldn't mind havin' some buttermilk an' cornpone myself," said Si.
"But I'd like much better to drop on some rebels somewhere, and bring
'em into camp, and show that we kin git more information than the whole
regiment kin."

"All right," assented Shorty; "ask the Captain to let us go. I'll be
bound we'll find something worth goin' for, if it's no more'n a chicken
for the Captain's supper. I'd like to take in one for him. He's been
mighty good to me and you in several ways, and I'd like to show him that
we appreciate it."

As the regiment had gone as far as ordered without discovering anything
that in the least threatened the peace in that portion of Tennessee, it
would start on its return, after the men had rested and had dinner.
Si and Shorty, consequently, had no difficulty in securing the desired
permission.

They cut off through a side-road, which gave promise of leading into a
better-settled part of the country than that they had been traversing. A
mile or so of walking brought them in sight of the substantial chimneys
of a farmhouse showing above the trees. A glimpse of a well-fenced field
roused warm hopes in Shorty's heart.

"Now, I think we're comin' to a better thing than we've ever struck
before," said he, as they stopped{96} and surveyed the prospect. "We've
got out o' the barren plateaus and into the rich farming country. That's
likely a farm jest like they have up in Injianny, and it's way off where
they hain't knowed nothin' o' the war. No soljer's ever anigh 'em, and
they've jest got lots and plenty o' everything. They've got a great
big barnyard full o' chickens and turkeys, pigs and geese and guineas.
There, you kin hear the guineas hollerin' now. There's cows layin' in
the shade chawin' the cud, while their calves are cavortin' around in
the sun, hogs rootin' in the woods-pasture, horses and sheep in the
medder, and everything like it is at home. And down a little ways from
the house there's a cool springhouse, with clear, cold water wellin' up
and ripplin' out over the clean, white sand, with crocks o' fresh milk
setting in it with cream half an inch thick, and big jars o' buttermilk
from the last churnin', and piggins o' fresh butter, and mebbe a big
crock full o' smearkase. Si, do you like smearkase?"

"'Deed I do," answered Si, his mouth watering at the thought. "My
goodness, you jest orter eat some o' mother's smearkase. She jest lays
over all the women in the country for smearkase. Many's the time I've
come in hot and sweatin from the field, and got a thick slice o' bread
clear acrost the loaf from one o' the girls, and went down to our
spring-house and spread it with fresh butter, and then put a thick layer
o' smearkase on top o' that, and then got about a quart o' cool milk,
that was half cream, from ono o' the crocks, and then--"

"Shot up, Si," shouted Shorty, desperately. "Do you want me to bang you
over the head with my{97} musket? Do you s'pose I kin stand everything?
But I believe there's jest sich a spring-house down there, and we'll
find it plumb-full o' all them sort o' things. Le's mosey on."

"Do you think there's any rebels around here?" said Si, the caution
which experience had taught him making a temporary reassertion of
itself.

"Naw," said Shorty, contemtpuously, "there ain't no rebel this side o'
the Duck River, unless some straggler, who'd run if he saw us. If we
ketch sight o' one we'll take him into camp, jest to gratify you. But I
ain't lookin' for none. Buttermilk and cornpone's what I want."

The scene was certainly peaceful enough to justify Shorty's confidence.
A calmer, quieter landscape could not have been found in the whole
country. A negro was plowing in a distant field, with occasional
sonorous yells to his team. He did not seem to notice the soldiers, nor
did a gray-haired white man who was sitting on the fence superintending
him. A couple of negresses were washing the family linen by a fire under
a large kettle on the creek bank, at some distance from the house, and
spreading the cleansed garments out on the grass to dry and bleach.
Cattle and horses were feeding on the fresh Spring grass and sheep
browsing on the bushes on the hillside. Hens cackled and roosters
crowed; the guineas, ever on the lookout, announced their approach with
shrill, crackling notes. Two or three dogs waked up and barked lazily
at them as they walked up the path to where an elderly, spectacled
woman sat on the porch knitting. She raised{98} her eyes and threw her
spectacles on top of her head, and looked curiously at them.

Whatever faint misgivings Si might have had vanished at the utter
peacefulness of the scene. It was so like the old home that he had left
that he could not imagine that war existed anywhere near. It seemed as
if the camp at Murfreesboro' and the bloody field of Stone River must
be a thousand miles away. The beds of roses and pinks which bordered the
walk were the same as decorated the front yard at home. There were the
same clumps of snowballs and lilacs at the corners of the house.

"Howdy, gentlemen?" said the woman, as they came up.

It seemed almost a wrong and insult to be carrying deadly arms in the
presence of such a woman, and Si and Shorty let their guns slip down, as
if they were rather ashamed of them.

"Good day, ma'am," said Shorty, taking off his hat politely and wiping
his face. "We're lookin' around to git some cornpone and buttermilk, and
didn't know but what you might let us have some. We're willin' to pay
for it."

"If you want suthin' to eat," said the woman promptly, "I kin gin it
to ye. I never turn no hungry man away from my door. Wait a minnit and
I'll bring ye some."

She disappeared inside the house, and Si remarked to Shorty:

"Your head's level this time, as it generally is. We'll git something
that's worth while comin' after."

The woman reappeared with a couple of good-size corn-dodgers in her
hand.{99}

"This appears to be all the bread that's left over from dinner," she
said. "And the meat's all gone. But the wenches 'll be through their
washin' purty soon, and then I'll have them cook ye some more, if ye'll
wait."

"Thankee, ma'am," said Shorty; "we can't wait. This'll be a plenty, if
we kin only git some buttermilk to go with it. We don't want no meat. We
git plenty o' that in camp."

"You can have all the buttermilk you want to drink," she answered, "if
you'll go down to the spring-house thar and git it. It's fresh, and
you'll find a gourd right beside o' the jar. I'd go with you, but it
allers gives me rheumatiz to go nigh the spring-house."

"Don't bother, ma'am, to go with us," said Shorty politely. "We are very
much obliged to you, indeed, and we kin make out by ourselves. How much
do we owe you?" And he pulled a greenback dollar from his pocket.

"Nothin', nothin' at all," said the woman hastily. "I don't sell
vittels. Never thought o' sich a thing. Ye're welcome to all ye kin eat
any time."

"Well, take the money, and let us ketch a couple of them chickens
there," said Shorty, laying down the bill on the banister rail.

After a little demur the woman finally agreed to this, and picked up the
money. The boys selected two fat chickens, ran them down, wrung their
necks, and, after repeating their thanks, took their bread and started
for the spring-house. They found it the coolest and most inviting place
in the world on a hot, tiresome day--just such a spot as Shorty had{100}
described. It was built of rough stones, and covered with a moss-grown
roof. A copious spring poured out a flood of clear, cool water, which
flowed over white pebbles and clean-looking sand until it formed a
cress-bordered rivulet just beyond the house. In the water sat crocks of
fresh milk, a large jar of buttermilk, and buckets of butter. The looks,
the cool, pure freshness of the place, were delightful{101} contrasts
from the tiresome smells and appearances of the camp kitchens. The boys
reveled in the change. They forgot all about war's alarms, stood their
rifles up against the side of the spring-house, washed their dust-grimed
faces and hands in the pure water, dried them with their handkerchiefs,
and prepared to enjoy their meal. How good the buttermilk tasted along
with the cornpone. The fresh milk was also sampled, and some of the
butter spread upon their bread.

Si even went to the point of declaring that it was almost as good as
the things he used to eat at home, which was the highest praise he could
possibly give to any food. Si never found anywhere victuals or cooking
to equal that of his mother.

He was pointing out to Shorty, as they munched, the likenesses and
unlikenesses of this spring-house to that on the Wabash, when they were
startled by the stern command:

"Surrender, there, you infernal Yankees!"

[Illustration: UNDESIRABLE ACQUAINTANCES. 100]

They looked up with startled eyes to stare into a dozen muskets leveled
straight at their heads from the willow thickets. Corn-dodgers and
milk-gourds dropped into the water as they impulsively jumped to their
feet.

"If yo'uns move we'uns 'll blow the lights outen yo'uns," shouted the
leader of the rebels. "Hold up yer hands."

It was a moment of the most intense anguish that either of them had ever
known. Their thoughts were lightning-like in rapidity. The rebel muzzles
were not a rod away, their aim was true, and it{102} would be madness to
risk their fire, for it meant certain death.

The slightest move toward resistance was suicide.

Si gave a deep groan, and up went his hands at the same moment with
Shorty's.

The rebels rushed out of the clump of willows behind which they had
crept up on the boys, and surrounded them. Two snatched up their guns,
and the others began pulling off their haversacks and other personal
property as their own shares of the booty. In the midst of this, Si
looked around, and saw the woman standing near calmly knitting.

"You ain't so afeared o' rheumatism all at once," he said bitterly.

"My rheumatiz has spells, young man, same ez other people's," she
answered, pulling one of the needles out, and counting the stitches with
it. "Sometimes it is better, and sometimes it is wuss. Jest now it is a
great deal better, thankee. I only wisht I could toll the whole Yankee
army to destruction ez easy ez you wuz. My, but ye walked right in,
like the fly to the spider. I never had nothin' do my rheumatiz so much
good."

And she cackled with delight. "When you git through," she continued,
addressing the leader of the rebels, "come up to the house, and I'll
have some dinner cooked for ye. I know ye're powerful tired an'
hungry. I s'pose nothin' need be cooked for them," and she pointed
her knitting-needle contemptuously at Si and Shorty. "Ole Satan will be
purvidin' fur them. I'll take these along to cook fur ye."{103}

She gathered up the dead chickens and stalked back to the house.

"Ef we're gwine t' shoot they'uns le's take they'uns over thar on the
knoll, whar they'uns won't spile nothin'," said one evil-looking man,
who had just ransacked Si's pockets and appropriated everything in them.
"Hit'd be too bad t' kill they'uns here right in sight o' the house."

"Le'me see them letters, Bushrod;" said the leader, snatching a package
of letters and Annabel's picture out of the other's hand. "Mebbe thar's
some news in them that the Captain'd like to have."

Si gnashed his teeth as he saw the cherished missives rudely torn open
and scanned, and especially when the ambrotype case was opened and
Annabel's features made the subject of coarse comment. The imminent
prospect of being murdered had a much lighter pang.

While the letters and ambrotype were being looked over the process of
robbery was going on. One had snatched Si's cap, another had pulled off
his blouse, and there was a struggle as to who should have possession of
his new Government shoes, which were regarded as a great prize. Si had
resisted this spoliation, but was caught from behind and held, despite
his kicks and struggles, while the shoes were pulled off. Shorty was
treated in the same way.

[Illustration: THE SPOILS OF WAR 105]

In a few minutes both, exhausted by their vigorous resistance, were
seated on the ground, with nothing left on them but their pantaloons,
while their captors were quarreling over the division of their personal
effects, and as to what disposition was to be made of them. In the
course of the discussion{104} the boys learned that they had been
captured by a squad of young men from the immediate neighborhood, who
had been allowed to go home on furlough, had been gathered together when
the regiment appeared, and had been watching every movement from safe
coverts. They had seen Si and Shorty leave, and had carefully dogged
their steps until such moment as they could pounce on them.

"Smart as we thought we wuz," said Si bitterly, "we played right into
their hands. They tracked us down jest as if we'd bin a couple o'
rabbits, and ketched us jest when they wanted us."

He gave a groan which Shorty echoed.

Bushrod and two others were for killing the two boys then and there and
ending the matter.

"They orter be killed, Ike, right here," said Bushrod to the leader.
"They deserve it, and we'uns hain't got no time to fool. We'uns can't
take they'uns back with we'uns, ef we wanted to, and I for one don't
want to. I'd ez soon have a rattlesnake around me."

But Ike, the leader, was farther-seeing. He represented to the others
the vengeance the Yankees would take on the people of the neighborhood
if they murdered the soldiers.

This developed another party, who favored taking the prisoners to some
distance and killing them there, so as to avoid the contingency that Ike
had set forth. Then there were propositions to deliver them over to the
guerrilla leaders, to be disposed of as they pleased.

Finally, it occurred to Ike that they were talking entirely too freely
before the prisoners, unless they{105} intended to kill them outright,
for they were giving information in regard to the position and
operations of rebel bands that might prove dangerous. He drew his squad
off a little distance to continue the discussion. At first they kept
their eyes on the prisoners and their guns ready to fire, but as they
talked they lost their watchful attitude in the eagerness of making
their points.

Si looked at Shorty, and caught an answering gleam. Like a flash both
were on their feet and started on a mad rush for the fence. Bushrod
saw{106} them start, and fired. His bullet cut off a lock of Si's auburn
hair. Others fired as fast as they could bring their guns up, and the
bullets sang viciously around, but none touched the fugitives. Their
bare feet were torn by the briars as they ran, but they thought not of
these. They plunged into the blackberry briars along the fence, climbed
it, and gained the road some distance ahead of their pursuers, who were
not impelled by the fear of immediate death to spur them on. Up the road
went Si and Shorty with all the speed that will-power could infuse into
their legs. Some of the rebels stopped to reload; the others ran after.
A score of noisy dogs suddenly waked up and joined in the pursuit. The
old white man mounted his horse and came galloping toward the house.

On the boys ran, gaining, if anything, upon the foremost of the rebels.
The dogs came nearer, but before they could do any harm the boys halted
for an instant and poured such a volley of stones into them that they
ran back lamed and yelping. The fleetest-footed of the rebels, who was
the sanguinary Bushrod, also came within a stone's throw, and received
a well-aimed bowlder from Si's muscular hand full in his face. This
cheered the boys so that they ran ahead with increased speed, and
finally gained the top of the hill from which they had first seen the
farmhouse.

They looked back and saw their enemies still after them. Ike had taken
the old man's horse and was coming on a gallop. They knew he had a
revolver, and shivered at the thought. But both stooped and selected the
best stones to throw, to attack him with{107} as soon as he came within
range. They halted a minute to get their breath and nerve for the good
effort. Ike had reached a steep, difficult part of the road, where his
horse had to come down to a walk and pick his way.

[Illustration: AN UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATION 107]

"Now, Si," said Shorty, "throw for your life, if you never did before.
I'm goin' to git him. You take his horse's head. Aim for that white
blaze in his forehead."

Si concentrated his energy into one supreme effort.{108}

He could always beat the rest of the boys in throwing stones, and now
his practice was to save him. He flung the smooth, round pebble with
terrific force, and it went true to its mark. The horse reared with his
rider just at the instant that a bowlder from Shorty's hand landed on
Ike's breast. The rebel fell to the ground, and the boys ran on.

At the top of the next hill they saw the regiment marching leisurely
along at the foot of the hill. It was so unexpected a deliverance that
it startled them. It seemed so long since they had left the regiment
that it might have been clear back to Nashville. They yelled with all
their remaining strength, and tore down the hill. Co. Q saw them
at once, and at the command of the Captain came forward at the
double-quick. The rebels had in the meanwhile gained the top of the
hill. A few shots were fired at them as they turned from the chase.

The Colonel rode back and questioned the boys. Then he turned to the
Captain of Co. Q and said:

"Captain, take your company over to that house. If you find anything
that you think we need in camp, bring it back with you. Put these boys
in the ambulance."

The exhausted Si and Shorty were helped into the ambulance, the Surgeon
gave them a reviving drink of whisky and quinine, and as they stretched
themselves out on the cushioned seats Si remarked:

"Shorty, we ain't ez purty ez we used to be, but we know a durned sight
more."

"I doubt it," said Shorty surlily. "I think me and you'll be fools as
long as we live. We won't be fools the same way agin, you kin bet your
life, but we'll find some other way."



CHAPTER VIII. A PERIOD OF SELF-DISGUST

SI AND SHORTY HAVE AN ATTACK OF IT, FOLLOWED BY RECOVERY.

IT TOOK many days for the boys' lacerated feet to recover sufficiently
to permit their going about and returning to duty. They spent the period
of enforced idleness in chewing the cud of bitter reflection. The thorns
had cut far more painfully into their pride than into their feet. The
time was mostly passed in moody silence, very foreign to the customary
liveliness of the Hoosier's Rest. They only spoke to one another on the
most necessary subjects, and then briefly. In their sour shame at the
whole thing they even became wroth with each other. Shorty sneered at
the way Si cleaned up the house, and Si condemned Shorty's cooking.
Thenceforth Shorty slept on the floor, while Si occupied the bed, and
they cooked their meals separately. The newness of the clothes they drew
from the Quartermaster angered them, and they tried to make them look as
dirty and shabby as the old.

Once they were on the point of actually coming to blows.

Si had thoughtlessly flung some dishwater into the company street. It
was a misdemeanor that in ordinary times would have been impossible to
him. Now almost anything was.

Shorty instantly growled:{110}

"You slouch, you ought to go to the guard-house for that."

Si retorted hotly:

"Slouch yourself! Look where you throwed them coffee-grounds this
morning," and he pointed to the tell-tale evidence beside the house.

[Illustration: SHORTY AND SI ARE AT OUTS. 110]

"Well, that ain't near so bad," said Shorty crustily. "That at least
intended to be tidy."

"Humph," said Si, with supreme disdainfulness. "It's the difference
betwixt sneakin' an' straightout. I throwed mine right out in the
street. You tried to hide yours, and made it all the nastier. But{111}
whatever you do's all right. Whatever I do's all wrong. You're a pill."

"Look here, Mister Klegg," said Shorty, stepping forward with doubled
fist, "I'll have you understand that I've took all the slack and
impudence from you that I'm a-goin' to."

"Shorty, if you double your fist up at me," roared the irate Si, "I'll
knock your head off in a holy minute."

The boys of Co. Q were thunderstruck. It seemed as if their world was
toppling when two such partners should disagree. They gathered around in
voiceless sorrow and wonderment and watched, developments.

Shorty seemed in the act of springing forward, when the sharp roll of
the drum at Headquarters beating the "assembly" arrested all attention.
Everyone looked eagerly toward the Colonel's tent, and saw him come
out buckling on his sword, while his Orderly sped away for his horse.
Apparently, all the officers had been in consultation with him, for they
were hurrying away to their several companies.

"Fall in, Co. Q," shouted the Orderly-Sergeant. "Fall in promptly."

Everybody made a rush for his gun and equipments.

"Hurry up. Orderly," said Capt. McGillicuddy, coming up with his sword
and belt in hand. "Let the boys take what rations they can lay their
hands on, but not stop to cook any. We've got to go on the jump."

All was rush and hurry. Si and Shorty bolted for their house,
forgetful of their mangled feet. Si{112} got in first, took his gun and
cartridge-box down, and buckled on his belt. He looked around for his
rations while Shorty was putting on his things. His bread and meat and
Shorty's were separate, and there was no trouble about them. But the
coffee and sugar had not been divided, and were in common receptacles.
He opened the coffee-can and looked in. There did not seem to be more
than one ration there. He hesitated a brief instant what to do. It would
serve Shorty just right to take all the coffee. He liked his coffee even
better than Shorty did, and was very strenuous about having it. If he
did not take it Shorty might think that he was either anxious to make up
or afraid, and he wanted to demonstrate that he was neither. Then there
was a twinge that it would be mean to take the coffee, and leave his
partner, senseless and provoking as he seemed, without any. He set
the can down, and, turning as if to look for something to empty it in,
pretended to hear something outside the house to make him forget it, and
hurried out.

Presently Shorty came out, and ostentatiously fell into line at a
distance from Si. It was the first time they had not stood shoulder to
shoulder.

The Orderly-Sergeant looked down the line, and called out:

"Here, Corp'l Klegg, you're not fit to go. Neither are you, Shorty. Step
out, both of you."

"Yes, I'm all right," said Shorty. "Feet's got well. I kin outwalk a Wea
Injun."

"Must've bin using some Lightning Elixir Liniment," said the
Orderly-Sergeant incredulously.. "I saw you both limping around like
string-halted{113} horses not 15 minutes ago. Step out, I tell you."

"Captain, le' me go along," pleaded Si. "You never knowed me to fall
out, did you?"

"Captain, I never felt activer in my life," asserted Shorty; "and you
know I always kept up. I never played sore-foot any day."

"I don't believe either of you're fit to go," said Capt. McGillicuddy,
"but I won't deny you. You may start, anyway. By the time we get to the
pickets you can fall out if you find you can't keep up."

"The rebel calvary's jumped a herd of beef cattle out at pasture,
run off the guard, and are trying to get away with them," the
Orderly-Sergeant hurriedly explained as he lined up Co. Q. "We're to
make a short cut across the country and try to cut them off. Sir, the
company's formed."

"Attention, Co. Q!" shouted Capt. McGillicuddy. "Right face!--Forward,
file left!--March!"

The company went off at a terrific pace to get its place with the
regiment, which had already started without it.

Though every step was a pang. Si and Shorty kept up unflinchingly.
Each was anxious to outdo the other, and to bear off bravery before the
company. The Captain and Orderly-Sergeant took an occasional look at
them until they passed the picket-line, when other more pressing matters
engaged the officers' attention.

The stampeded guards, mounted on mules or condemned horses, or running
on foot, came tearing back, each with a prodigious tale of the numbers
and ferocity of the rebels.{114}

The regiment was pushed forward with all the speed there was in it,
going down-hill and over the level stretch at a double-quick. Si felt
his feet bleeding, and it seemed at times that he could not go another
step, but then he would look back down the line and catch a glimpse of
Shorty keeping abreast of his set of fours, and he would spur himself to
renewed effort. Shorty would long to throw himself in a fence-corner
and rest for a week, until, as they went over some rise, he would catch
sight of Si's sandy hair, well in the lead, when he would drink in fresh
determination to keep up, if he died in the attempt.

Presently they arrived at the top of the hill from which they could
see the rebel cavalry rounding up and driving off the cattle, while a
portion of the enemy's horsemen were engaged in a fight with a small
squad of infantry ensconced behind a high rail fence.

Si and Shorty absolutely forgot their lameness as Co. Q separated from
the column and rushed to the assistance of the squad, while the rest of
the regiment turned off to the right to cut off the herd. But they were
lame all the same, and tripped and fell over a low fence which the rest
of the company easily leaped. They gathered themselves up, sat on the
ground for an instant, and glared at one another.

"Blamed old tangle-foot," said Shorty derisively.

"You've got hoofs like a foundered hoss," retorted Si.

After this interchange of compliments they staggered painfully to their
feet and picked up their{115} guns, which were thrown some distance from
their hands as they fell.

By this time Co. Q was a quarter of a mile away, and already beginning
to fire on the rebels, who showed signs of relinquishing the attack.

"Gol darn the luck!" said Si with Wabash emphasis, beginning to limp
forward.

"Wish the whole outfit was a mile deep in burnin' brimstone," wrathfully
observed Shorty.

A couple of lucky shots had emptied two of the rebel saddles. The
frightened horses turned away from the fighting line, and galloped down
the road to the right of the boys. The leading one suddenly halted in
a fence-corner about 30 yards away from Si, threw up his head and began
surveying the scene, as if undecided what to do next. The other, seeing
his mate stop, began circling around.

Hope leaped up in Si's breast. He began creeping toward the first horse,
under the covert of the sumach. Shorty saw his design and the advantage
it would give Si, and, standing still, began swearing worse than ever.

Si crept up as cautiously as he had used to in the old days when he
was rabbit-hunting. The horse thrust his head over the fence, and began
nibbling at a clump of tall rye growing there. Si thrust his hand out
and caught his bridle. The horse made one frightened plunge, but the
hand on his bridle held with the grip of iron, and he settled down to
mute obedience.

Si set his gun down in the fence-corner and climbed into the saddle.

Shorty made the Spring air yellow with profanity{116} until he saw Si
ride away from his gun toward the other horse. When the latter saw
his mate, with a rider, coming toward him he gave a whinney and dashed
forward. In an instant Si had hold of his bridle and was turning back.
His face was bright with triumph. Shorty stopped in the middle of a
soul-curdling oath and yelled delightedly:

"Bully for old Wabash! You're my pardner after all Si."

He hastened forward to the fence, grabbed up Si's gun and handed it to
him and then climbed into the other saddle.

The rebels were now falling back rapidly before Co. Q's fire. A small
part detached itself and started down a side road.

Si and Shorty gave a yell, and galloped toward them, in full sight of
Co. Q. who raised a cheer. The rebels spurred their horses, but Si and
Shorty gained on them.

"Come on. Shorty." Si yelled. "I don't believe they've got a shot left.
They hain't fired once since they started."

He was right. Their cartridge-boxes had been emptied.

At the bottom of the hill a creek crossing the road made a deep, wide
quagmire. The rebels were in too much hurry to pick out whatever road
there might have been through it. Their leaders plunged in, their horses
sank nearly to the knees, and the whole party bunched up.

"Surrender, you rebel galoots." yelled Si reining up at a little
distance, and bringing his gun to bear.{117}

"Surrender, you off-scourings of secession," added Shorty.

[Illustration: SI AND SHORTY AS MOUNTED INFANTRY 117]

The rebels looked back, held up their hands, and said imploringly:

"Don't shoot, Mister. We'uns give up. We'uns air taylored."

"Come back up here, one by one," commanded Si,{118} "and go to our rear.
Hold on to your guns. Don't throw 'em away. We ain't afraid of 'em."

One by one the rebels extricated their horses from the mire with more
or less difficulty and filed back. Si kept his gun on those in the
quagmire, while Shorty attended to the others as they came back. Co. Q
was coming to his assistance as fast as the boys could march.

What was the delight of the boys to recognize in their captives the
squad which had captured them. The sanguinary Bushrod was the first to
come back, and Si had to restrain a violent impulse to knock him off
his horse with his gun-barrel. But he decided to settle with him when
through with the present business.

By the time the rebels were all up, Co. Q had arrived on the scene. As
the prisoners were being disarmed and put under guard, Si called out to
Capt. McGillicuddy:

"Captain, one o' these men is my partickler meat. I want to 'tend to
him."

"All right. Corporal," responded the Captain, "attend to him, but don't
be too rough on him. Remember that he is an unarmed prisoner."

Si and Shorty got down off their horses, and approached Bushrod, who
turned white as death, trembled violently, and began to beg.

"Gentlemen, don't kill me," he whined. "I'm a poor man, an' have a
fambly to support. I didn't mean nothin' by what I said. I sw'ar't' Lord
A'mighty I didn't."

"Jest wanted to hear yourself talk--jest practicin' your voice," said
Shorty sarcastically, as he took the{119} man by the shoulder and pulled
him off into the bush by the roadside. "Jest wanted to skeer us, and see
how fast we could run. Pleasant little pastime, eh?" "And them things
you said about a young lady up in Injianny," said Si, clutching him by
the throat.

[Illustration: BUSHROD PRAYS FOR HIS LIFE 119]

"I want to wring your neck jest like a chicken's. What'd you do with her
picture and letters?"

Si thrust his hand unceremoniously into Bushrod's pocket and found the
ambrotype of Annabel. A brief glance showed him that it was all right,
and he gave a sigh of satisfaction, which showed some amelioration of
temper toward the captive.{120 }

"What'd you do with them letters?" Si demanded fiercely.

"Ike has 'em," said Bushrod.

"You've got my shoes on, you brindle whelp," said Shorty, giving him a
cuff in bitter remembrance of his own smarting feet.

"If we're goin' to shoot him, let's do it right off," said Si, looking
at the cap on his gun. "The company's gittin' ready to start back."

"All right," said Shorty, with cheerful alacrity. "Johnny, your ticket
for a brimstone supper's made out. How'd you rather be shot--standin' or
kneelin'?"

"O, gentlemen, don't kill be. Ye hadn't orter. Why do ye pick me out
to kill? I wuzzent no wuss'n the others. I wuzzent rayly half ez bad. I
didn't rayly mean t' harm ye. I only talked. I had t' talk that-a-way,
for I alluz was a Union man, and had t' make a show for the others. I
don't want t' be shot at all."

"You ain't answerin' my question," said Shorty coolly and inexorably. "I
asked you how you preferred to be shot. These other things you mention
hain't nothin' to do with my question."

He leveled his gun at the unhappy man and took a deliberate sight.

"O, for the Lord A'mighty's sake, don't shoot me down like a dog,"
screamed Bushrod. "Le'me have a chance to pray, an' make my peace with
my Maker."

"All right," conceded Shorty, "go and kneel down there by that
cottonwood, and do the fastest prayin* you ever did in all your
born days, for you have need of it. We'll shoot when I count
three. You'd{121} better make a clean breast of all your sins and
transgressions before you go. You'll git a cooler place in the camp down
below."

Unseen, the rest of Co. Q were peeping through the bushes and enjoying
the scene.

Bushrod knelt down with his face toward the Cottonwood, and began an
agonized prayer, mingled with confessions of crimes and malefactions,
some flagrant, some which brought a grin of amusement to the faces of
Co. Q.

"One!" called out Shorty in stentorian tones.

"O, for the love o' God, Mister, don't shoot me," yelled Bushrod,
whirling around, with uplifted arms. "I'm too wicked to die, an' I've
got a fambly dependin' on me."

"Turn around there, and finish your prayin'," sternly commanded Shorty,
with his and Si's faces down to the stocks of their muskets, in the act
of taking deliberate aim.

Bushrod flopped around, threw increased vehemence into his prayer, and
resumed his recital of his misdeeds.

"Two!" counted Shorty.

Again Bushrod whirled around with uplifted hands and begged for mercy.

"Nary mercy," said Shorty. "You wouldn't give it to us, and you hain't
given it to many others, according to your own account. Your light's
flickerin', and we'll blow it out at the next count. Turn around,
there."

Bushrod made the woods ring this time with his fervent, tearful appeals
to the Throne of Grace. He was so wrought up by his impending death
that he{122} did not hear Co. Q quietly move away, at a sign from
the Captain, with Si and Shorty mounting their horses and riding off
noiselessly over the sod.

For long minutes Bushrod continued his impassioned appeals at the top
of his voice, expecting every instant to have the Yankee bullets
crash through his brain. At length he had to stop from lack of breath.
Everything was very quiet--deathly so, it seemed to him. He stole a
furtive glance around. No Yankees could be seen out of the tail of his
eye on either side. Then he looked squarely around. None was visible
anywhere. He jumped up, began cursing savagely, ran into the road, and
started for home. He had gone but a few steps when he came squarely in
front of the musket of the Orderly-Sergeant of Co. Q, who had placed
himself in concealment to see the end of the play and bring him along.

"Halt, there," commanded the Orderly-Sergeant; "face the other way and
trot. We must catch up with the company."

Si and Shorty felt that they had redeemed themselves, and returned to
camp in such good humor with each other, and everybody else, that they
forgot that their feet were almost as bad as ever.

They went into the house and began cooking their supper together again.
Shorty picked up the coffeecan and said:

"Si Klegg, you're a gentleman all through, if you was born on the
Wabash. A genuine gentleman is knowed by his never bein' no hog under no
circumstances. I watched you when you looked into this coffee-can, and
mad as I was at you, I said you was a thorobred when you left it all to
me."

{123}



CHAPTER IX. SHORTY GETS A LETTER

BECOMES ENTANGLED IN A HIGHLY IMPORTANT CORRESPONDENCE.

A LIGHT spring wagon, inscribed "United States Sanitary Commission,"
drove through the camp of the 200th Ind., under the charge of a
dignified man with a clerical cast of countenance, who walked alongside,
looking at the soldiers and into the tents, and stopping from time
to time to hand a can of condensed milk to this one, a jar of jam to
another, and bunches of tracts to whomsoever would take them.

Shorty was sitting in front of the house bathing his aching feet.
The man stopped before him, and looked compassionately at his swollen
pedals.

"Your feet are in a very bad way, my man," he said sadly.

"Yes, durn 'em," said Shorty impatiently. "I don't seem to git 'em well
nohow. Must've got 'em pizened when I was runnin' through the briars."

"Probably some ivy or poison-oak, or nightshade among the briars.
Poison-oak is very bad, and nightshade is deadly. I knew a man once
that had to have his hand amputated on account of getting poisoned by
something that scratched him--nightshade, ivy, or poison-oak. I'm afraid
your feet are beginning to mortify."

"Well, you are a Job's comforter," thought Shorty.{124}

"You'd be nice to send for when a man's sick. You'd scare him to death,
even if there was no danger o' his dyin'."

"My friend," said the man, turning to his wagon, "I've here a nice pair
of home-made socks, which I will give you, and which will come in nicely
if you save your legs. If you don't, give them to some needy man. Here
are also some valuable tracts, full of religious consolation and advice,
which it will do your soul good to peruse and study."

Shorty took the gift thankfully, and turned over the tracts with
curiosity.

"On the Sin of Idolatry," he read the title of the first.

"Now, why'd he give that? What graven image have I bin worshipin'? What
gods of wood and stone have I bin bowin' down before in my blindness?
There've bin times when I thought a good deal more of a Commissary
tent then I did of a church, but I got cured of that as soon as I got a
square meal. I don't see where I have bin guilty of idolatry.

"On the Folly of Self-Pride," he read from the next one. "Humph, there
may be something in that that I oughter read. I am very liable to git
stuck on myself, and think how purty I am, and how graceful, and how
sweetly I talk, and what fine cloze I wear. Especially the cloze. I'll
put that tract in my pocket an' read it after awhile."

"On the Evils of Gluttony," he next read. "Well, that's a timely tract,
for a fact. I'm in the habit o' goin' around stuffin' myself, as this
says, with delicate viands, and drinkin' fine wines--'makin' my belly
a god.' The man what wrote this must've bin{125} intimately acquainted
with the sumptuous meals which Uncle Sam sets before his nephews. He
must've knowed all about the delicate, apetizin' flavor of a slab o' fat
pork four inches thick, taken off the side of the hog that's uppermost
when he's laying on his back. And how I gormandize on hardtack baked in
the first place for the Revolutioners, and kept over ever since.
That feller knows jest what he's writin' about. I'd like to exchange
photographs with him."

"Thou Shalt Not Swear." Shorty read a few words, got red in the face,
whistled softly, crumpled the tract up, and threw it away.

"On the Sin of Dancing," Shorty yelled with laughter. "Me dance with
these hoofs! And he thinks likely mortification'll set in, and I'll lose
'em altogether. Well, he oughter be harnessed up with Thompson's colt.
Which'd come out ahead in the race for the fool medal? But these seem to
be nice socks. Fine yarn, well-knit, and by stretching a little I think
I kin get 'em on. I declare, they're beauties. I'll jest make Si sick
with envy when I show 'em to him. I do believe they lay over anything
his mother ever sent him. Hello, what's this?"

He extracted from one of them a note in a small, white envelope, on one
end of which was a blue Zouave, with red face, hands, cap and gaiters,
brandishing a red sword in defense of a Star Spangled Banner which he
held in his left hand.

"Must belong to the Army o' the Potomac," mused Shorty, studying
the picture. "They wear all sorts o' outlandish uniforms there. That
red-headed woodpecker'd be shot before he'd git a mile o' the rebels
out here. All that hollyhock business'd jest be meat{126} for their
sharpshooters. And what's he doin' with that 'ere sword? I wouldn't
give that Springfield rifle o' mine for all the swords that were ever
hammered out. When I reach for a feller 600 or even 800 yards away I kin
fetch him every time. He's my meat unless he jumps behind a tree. But as
for swords, I never could see no sense in 'em except for officers to put
on lugs with. I wouldn't pack one a mile for a wagonload of 'em."

He looked at the address on the envelope. Straight lines had been
scratched across with a pin. On these was written, in a cramped, mincing
hand:

"To the brave soljer who Gits these Socks."

"Humph," mused Shorty, "that's probably for me. I've got the socks, and
I'm a soldier. As to whether I'm brave or not's a matter of opinion.
Sometimes I think I am; agin, when there's a dozen rebel guns pinted
at my head, not 10 feet away, I think I'm not. But we'll play that I'm
brave enough to have this intended for me, and I'll open it."

On the sheet of paper inside was another valorous red-and-blue Zouave
defending the flag with drawn sword. On it was written:

     "Bad Ax, Wisconsin,

     "Janooary the 14th, 1863.

     "Braiv Soljer: I doant know who you air, or whair you may
     bee; I only know that you air serving your country, and
     that is enuf to entitle to the gratitude and afl'ection of
     every man and woman who has the breath of patriotism in
     their bodies.

     "I am anxious to do something all the time, very little
     though it may be, to help in some way the men{127} who air
     fiting the awful battles for me, and for every man and woman
     in the country.

     "I send these socks now as my latest contribution. They aint
     much, but I've put my best work on them, and I hoap they
     will be useful and comfortable to some good, braiv man.

     "How good you may be I doant know, but you air sertingly a
     much better man than you would be if you was not fiting for
     the Union. I hoap you air a regler, consistent Christian.
     Ide prefer you to be a Methodist Episcopal, but any church
     is much better than none.

     "He be glad to heer that you have received these things all
     rite.

     "Sincerely your friend and well-wisher,

     "Jerusha Ellen Briggs."


Although Shorty was little inclined to any form of reading, and disliked
handwriting about as much as he did work on the fortifications, he read
the letter over several times, until he had every word in it and every
feature of the labored, cramped penmanship thoroughly imprinted on his
mind. Then he held it off at arm's length for some time, and studied
it with growing admiration. It seemed to him the most wonderful epistle
that ever emanated from any human hand. A faint scent of roses came from
it to help the fascination.

"I'll jest bet my head agin a big red apple," he soliloquized, "the
woman that writ that's the purtiest girl in the State o' Wisconsin. I'll
bet there's nothin' in Injianny to hold a candle to her, purty as Si
thinks his Annabel is. And smart--my! Jest look at that letter. That
tells it. Every word spelled correckly,{128} and the grammar away up in
G. Annabel's a mighty nice girl, and purty, too, but I've noticed
she makes mistakes in spelling, and her grammar's the Wabash
kind--home-made."

He drew down his eyebrows, pursed his lips, and assumed a severely
critical look for a reperusal of the letter and judgment upon it
according to the highest literary standards.

"No, sir," he said, with an air of satisfaction, "not a blamed mistake
in it, from beginnin' to end. Every word spelled jest right, the grammar
straight as the Ten Commandments, every t crossed and i dotted accordin'
to regulashuns and the Constitushun of the United States. She must be
a school-teacher, and yit a school-teacher couldn't knit sich socks as
them. She's a lady, every inch of her. Religious, too. Belongs to the
Methodist Church. Si's father's a Baptist, and so's my folks, but I
always did think a heap o' the Methodists. I think they have a little
nicer girls than the Baptists. I think I'd like to marry a Methodist
wife."

Then he blushed vividly, all to himself, to think how fast his thoughts
had traveled. He returned to the letter, to cover his confusion.

"Bad Ax, Wis. What a queer name for a place. Never heard of it before.
Wonder where in time it is? I'd like awfully to know. There's the 1st
and 21st Wis. in Rousseau's Division, and the 10th Wis. Battery in
Palmer's Division. I might go over there and ask some o' them. Mebbe
some of 'em are right from there. I'll bet it's a mighty nice place."

He turned to the signature with increased interest.

"Jerusha Ellen Briggs. Why, the name itself is{129} reg'lar poetry.
Jerusha is awful purty. Your Mollies and Sallies and Emmies can't hold
a candle to it. And Annabel--pshaw! Ellen--why that's my mother's name.
Briggs? I knowed some Briggses once — way-up, awfully nice people.
Seems to me they wuz Presbyterians, though, and I always thought that
Presbyterians wuz stuck-up, but they wuzzent stuck-up a mite. I wonder
if Miss Jerusha Ellen Briggs--she must be a Miss--haint some beau? But
she can't have. If he wuzzent in the army she wouldn't have him; and if
he was in the army she'd be sending the socks to him, instead of to whom
it may concern."

This brilliant bit of logic disposed of a sudden fear which had been
clutching at his heart. It tickled him so much that he jumped up,
slapped his breast, and grinned delightedly and triumphantly at the
whole landscape.

"What's pleasin' you so mightily. Shorty?" asked Si, who had just come
up. "Got a new system for beatin' chuck-a-luck, or bin promoted?"

"No, nothin'! Nothin's happened," said Shorty curtly, as he hastily
shoved the letter into his blouse pocket. "Will you watch them beans
bilin' while I go down to the spring and git some water?"

He picked up the camp-kettle and started. He wanted to be utterly alone,
even from Si, with his new-born thought. He did not go directly to the
spring, but took another way to a clump of pawpaw bushes, which would
hide him from the observation of everyone. There he sat down, pulled out
the letter again, and read it over carefully, word by word.

"Wants me to write whether I got the socks," he{130} mused. "You jest bet
I will. I've a great mind to ask for a furlough to go up to Wisconsin,
and find out Bad Ax. I wonder how fur it is. I'll go over to the
Suiter's and git some paper and envelopes, and write to her this very
afternoon."

He carried his camp-kettle back to the house, set it down, and making
some excuse, set off for the Sutler's shop.

"Le'me see your best paper and envelopes," he said to the pirate who had
license to fleece the volunteers.

"Awfully common trash," said Shorty, looking over the assortment
disdainfully, for he wanted something superlatively fine for his letter.
"Why don't you git something fit for a gentleman to write to a lady on?
Something with gold edges on the paper and envelopes, and perfumed? I
never write to a lady except on gilt-edged paper, smellin' o' bergamot,
and musk, and citronella, and them things. I don't think it's good
taste."

"Well, think what you please," said the Sutler. "That's all the kind I
have, and that's all the kind you'll git. Take it or leave it."

Shorty finally selected a quire of heavy letter paper and a bunch
of envelopes, both emblazoned with patriotic and warlike designs in
brilliant red and blue.

"Better take enough," he said to himself. "I've been handlin' a pick
and shovel and gun so much that I'm afeared my hand isn't as light as it
used to be, and I'll have to spile several sheets before I git it just
right."

On his way back he decided to go by the camp of{131} one of the
Wisconsin regiments and learn what he could of Bad Ax and its people.

"Is there a town in your State called Bad Ax?" he asked of the first man
he met with "Wis." on his cap.

"Cert'," was the answer. "And another one called Milwaukee, one
called Madison, and another called Green Bay. Are you studying primary
geography, or just getting up a postoffice directory?"

"Don't be funny, Skeezics," said Shorty severely. "Know anything about
it? Mighty nice place, ain't it?"

"Know anything about it? I should say so. My folks live in Bad Ax
County. It's the toughest, ornerist little hole in the State. Run by
lead-miners. More whisky-shanties than dwellings. It's tough, I tell
you."

"I believe you're an infernal liar," said Shorty, turning away in wrath.

Not being fit for duty, he could devote all his time to the composition
of the letter. He was so wrought up over it that he could not eat much
dinner, which alarmed Si.

"What's the matter with your appetite. Shorty?" he asked. "Haint bin
eatin' nothin' that disagreed with you, have you?

"Naw," answered Shorty impatiently; "nothin' wuss'n army rations. They
always disagree with me when I'm layin' around doin' nothin'. Why, in
the name of goodness, don't the army move? I've got sick o' the sight o'
every cedar and rocky knob in Middle Tennessee. We ought to go down and
take a look at things around Tullahoma, where Mr. Bragg{132} is."

It was Si's turn to clean up after dinner, and, making an excuse of
going over into another camp to see a man who had arrived there, Shorty,
with his paper and envelopes concealed under his blouse, and Si's pen
and wooden ink-stand furtively conveyed to his pocket, picked up the
checkerboard when Si's back was turned, and made his way to the pawpaw
thicket, where he could be unseen and unmolested in the greatest
literary undertaking of his life.

He took a comfortable seat on a rock, spread the paper on the
checkerboard, and then began vigorously chewing the end of the penholder
to stimulate his thoughts.

It had been easy to form the determination to write; the desire to do
so was irresistible, but never before had he been confronted with a
task which seemed so overwhelming. Compared with it, struggling with
a mule-train all day through the mud and rain, working with pick and
shovel on the fortifications, charging an enemy's solid line-of-battle,
appeared light and easy performances. He would have gone at either, on
the instant, at the word of command, or without waiting for it, with
entire confidence in his ability to master the situation. But to write
a half-dozen lines to a strange girl, whom he had already enthroned as a
lovely divinity, had more terrors than all of Bragg's army could induce.

But when Shorty set that somewhat thick head of his upon the doing of
a thing, the thing was tolerably certain to be done in some shape or
another.

"I believe, if I knowed whore Bad Ax was, I'd git a furlough, and walk
clean there, rather than write a line," he said, as he wiped from his
brow the sweat{133} forced out by the labor of his mind. "I always did
hate writin'. I'd rather maul rails out of a twisted elm log any day
than fill up a copy book. But it's got to be done, and the sooner I do
it the sooner the agony 'll be over. Here goes."

He began laboriously forming each letter with his lips, and still more
laboriously with his stiff fingers, adding one to another, until he had
traced out:

     "Headquarters Co. Q, 200th Injianny Volunteer Infantry,
     Murfreesboro, Aprile the 16th eighteen hundred & sixty
     three."

The sweat stood out in beads upon his forehead after this effort, but it
was as nothing compared to the strain of deciding how he should address
his correspondent. He wanted to use some term of fervent admiration, but
fear deterred him. He debated the question with himself until his head
fairly ached, when he settled upon the inoffensive phrase:

     "Respected Lady."

The effort was so exhausting that he had to go down to the spring,
take a deep drink of cold water, and bathe his forehead. But his
determination was unabated, and before the sun went down he had produced
the following:

     "i talk mi pen in hand 2 inform U that ive reseeved the SOX
     U so kindly cent, & i thank U 1,000 times 4 them. They are
     boss sox & no mistake. They are the bossest sox that ever
     wuz nit. The man is a lire who sez they aint. He dassent tel
     Me so. U are a boss nitter. Even Misses Linkun can't hold a
     candle 2 U.

     "The sox fit me 2 a t, but that is becaws they are nit so
     wel, & stretch."{134}

"I wish I knowed some more real strong words to praise her knitting,"
said Shorty, reading over the laboriously-written lines. "But after I
have said they're boss what more is there to say? I spose I ought to say
something about her health next. That's polite." And he wrote:

     "ime in fair helth, except my feet are" locoed, & i weigh
     156 pounds, & hope U are injoying the saim blessing."

"I expect I ought to praise her socks a little more," said he, and
wrote:

     "The SOX are jest boss. They outrank anything in the Army of
     the Cumberland."

After this effort he was compelled to take a long rest. Then he communed
with himself:

"When a man's writin' to a lady, and especially an educated lady, he
should always throw in a little poetry. It touches her."

There was another period of intense thought, and then he wrote:

     "Dan Elliott is my name,
     & single is my station,
     Injianny is mi dwelling place,
     & Christ is mi salvation."

"Now," he said triumphantly, "that's neat and effective. It tells her
a whole lot about me, and makes her think I know Shakspere by heart.
Wonder if I can't think o' some more? Hum--hum. Yes, here goes:

     "The rose is red, the vilet's blue;
     ime 4 the Union, so are U."

Shorty was so tickled over this happy conceit that he fairly hugged
himself, and had to read it over{135} several times to admire its
beauty. But it left him too exhausted for any further mental labor than
to close up with:

     "No moar at present, from yours til death.

     "Dan Elliott,

     "Co. Q, 200th injianny Volunteer Infantry."

He folded up the missive, put it into an envelope, carefully directed to
Miss Jerusha Ellen Briggs, Bad Ax, Wis., and after depositing it in the
box at the Chaplain's tent, plodded homeward, feeling more tired
than after a day's digging on the fortifications. Yet his fatigue was
illuminated by the shimmering light of a fascinating hope.



CHAPTER X. TRADING WITH THE REBS

THE BOYS HAVE SOME FRIENDLY COMMERCE WITH THE REBEL PICKETS.

THE 200th Ind. Volunteer Infantry had been pushed out to watch the
crossings of Duck River and the movements of the rebels on the south
bank of that narrow stream. The rebels, who had fallen into the
incurable habit of objecting to everything that the "Yankees" did,
seemed to have especial and vindictive repugnance to being watched.

Probably no man, except he be an actor or a politician, likes to be
watched, but few ever showed themselves as spitefully resentful of
observation as the rebels.

Co. Q was advanced to picket the north bank of the river, but the moment
it reached the top of the hill overlooking the stream it had to deploy
as skirmishers, and Enfield bullets began to sing viciously about its
ears.

"Looks as if them fellers think we want to steal their old river and
send it North," said Shorty, as he reloaded his gun after firing at a
puff of smoke that had come out of the sumach bushes along the fence at
the foot of the hill. "They needn't be so grouchy. We don't want their
river--only to use it awhile. They kin have it back agin after we're
through with it."

"Blamed if that feller didn't make a good line{137} shot," said Si,
glancing up just above his head to where a twig had been clipped off
the persimmon tree behind which he was standing. "He put up his sights a
little too fur, or he'd 'a' got me."

Si took careful aim at where he supposed the lurking marksman to be and
fired.

There was a waving of the tops of the bushes, as if the men concealed
there had rushed out.

"Guess we both landed mighty close," said Shorty triumphantly. "They
seem to have lost interest in this piece o' sidehill, anyway."

He and Si made a rush down the hill, and gained the covert of the fence
just in time to see the rails splintered by a bunch of shots striking
them.

"Lay down, Yanks!" called out Shorty cheerily, dropping into the weeds.
"Grab a root!"

To the right of them they could see the rest of Co. Q going through
similar performances.

Si and Shorty pushed the weeds aside, crawled cautiously to the fence,
and looked through. There was a road on the other side of the fence,
and beyond it a grove of large beech trees extending to the bank of the
river. Half concealed by the trunk of one of these stood a tall, rather
good-looking young man, with his gun raised and intently peering into
the bushes. He had seen the tops stir, and knew that his enemies had
gained their cover. He seemed expecting that they would climb the fence
and jump down into the road. At a little distance to his right could be
seen other men on the sharp lookout.

Shorty put his hand on Si to caution and repress{138} him.

With his eyes fixed on the rebel, Shorty drew his gun toward him. The
hammer caught on a trailing vine, and, forgetting himself, he gave it an
impatient jerk. It went off, the bullet whistling past Shorty's head and
the powder burning his face.

The rebel instantly fired in return, and cut the leaves about four feet
above Shorty.

"Purty good shot that, Johnny," called out Shorty as he reloaded his
gun; "but too low. It went between my legs. You hain't no idee how tall
I am."

"If I couldn't shoot no better'n you kin on a sneak," answered the
rebel, his rammer ringing in his gun-barrel, "I wouldn't handle
firearms. Your bullet went a mile over my head. Must've bin shootin' at
an angel. But you Yanks can't shoot nary bit--you're too skeered."

"I made you hump out o' the bushes a few minutes ago," replied Shorty,
putting on a cap. "Who was skeered then? You struck for tall timber like
a cotton-tailed rabbit."

"I'll rabbit ye, ye nigger-lovin' whelp," shouted the rebel. "Take
that," and he fired as close as he could to the sound of Shorty's voice.

Shorty had tried to anticipate his motion and fired first, but the limbs
bothered his aim, and his bullet went a foot to the right of the rebel's
head. It was close enough, however, to make the rebel cover himself
carefully with the tree.

"That was a much better shot, Yank," he called out. "But ye orter do a
powerful sight better'n that on a sneak. Ye'd never kill no deer, nor
rebels nuthor, with that kind o' shootin'. You Yanks are{139} great on
the sneak, but that's all the good it does, yet ye can't shoot fer a
handful o' huckleberries."

"Sneaks! Can't shoot!" roared Shorty. "I kin outshoot you or any other
man in Jeff Davis's kingdom. I dare you to come out from behind your
tree, and take a shot with me in the open, accordin' to Hardee's
tactics. Your gun's empty; so's mine. My chum here'll see fair play; and
you kin bring your chum with you. Come out, you skulkin' brindle pup,
and shoot man fashion, if you dare."{140}

"Ye can't dare me, ye nigger-stealin' blue-belly," shouted the rebel in
return, coming out from behind his tree. Shorty climbed over the fence
and stood at the edge of the road, with his gun at order arms. Si came
out on Shorty's left, and a rebel appeared to the right of the first.
For a minute all stood in expectancy. Then Shorty spoke:

"I want nuthin' but what's fair. Your gun's empty; so's mine. You
probably know Hardee's tactics as well as I do."

"I'm up in Hardee," said the rebel with a firm voice.

"Well, then," continued Shorty, "let my chum here call off the orders
for loadin' and firin', and we'll both go through 'em, and shoot at the
word."

"Go ahead--I'm agreed," said the rebel briefly.

Shorty nodded to Si.

"Carry arms," commanded Si.

Both brought their guns up to their right sides.

"Present arms."

Both courteously saluted.

"Load in nine times--Load," ordered Si.

Both guns came down at the same instant, each man grasped his muzzle
with his left hand, and reached for his cartridge-box, awaiting the next
order.

"Handle cartridges."

"Tear cartridges."

"Charge cartridges," repeated Si slowly and distinctly. The rebel's
second nodded approval of his knowledge of the drill, and sang out:

"Good soldiers, all of yo'uns."

"Draw rammer," continued Si,{141}

"Turn rammer."

"Ram cartridge."

Shorty punctiliously executed the three blows on the cartridge exacted
by the regulations, and paused a breath for the next word. The rebel
had sent his cartridge home with one strong thrust, but he saw his
opponent's act and waited.

"Return rammer," commanded Si. He was getting a little nervous, but
Shorty deliberately withdrew his rammer, turned it, placed one end in
the thimbles, deliberately covered the head with his little finger,
exactly as the tactics prescribed, and sent it home with a single
movement. The rebel had a little trouble in returning rammer, and Shorty
and Si waited.

"Cast about,"

"Prime!"

Both men capped at the same instant.

"Ready!"

Shorty cocked his piece and glanced at the rebel, whose gun was at his
side.

"Aim!"

Both guns came up like a flash.

[Illustration: THE DUEL. 139]

Si's heart began thumping at a terrible rate. He was far more alarmed
about Shorty than he had ever been about himself. Up to this moment he
had hoped that Shorty's coolness and deliberation would "rattle" the
rebel and make him fire wildly. But the latter, as Si expressed it
afterward, "seemed to be made of mighty good stuff," and it looked as if
both would be shot down.

"Fire!" shouted Si, with a perceptible tremor in his voice.{142}

Both guns flashed at the same instant. Si saw Shorty's hat fly off, and
him stagger and fall, while the rebel dropped his gun, and clapped his
hand to his side. Si ran toward Shorty, who instantly sprang up again,
rubbing his head, from which came a faint trickle of blood.

"He aimed at my head, and jest scraped my scalp," he said. "Where'd I
hit him? I aimed at his heart, and had a good bead."

"You seem to have struck him in the side," answered Si, looking at the
rebel. "But not badly, for he's still standin' up. Mebbe you broke a
rib though."

"Couldn't, if he's still up. I must file my trigger Gun pulls too hard.
I had a dead aim on his heart, but I seem to've pulled too much to the
right."

"Say, I'll take a turn with you," said Si, picking up his gun and
motioning with his left hand at the other rebel.

"All right," answered the other promptly. "My gun ain't loaded, though."

"I'll wait for you," said Si, looking at the cap on his gun. A loud
cheer was heard from far to the right, and Co. Q was seen coming forward
on a rush, with the rebels in front running back to the river bank.
Several were seen to be overtaken and forced to surrender.

The two rebels in front of the boys gave a startled look at their
comrades, then at the boys, and turned to run. Si raised his gun to
order them to halt.

"No," said Shorty. "Let 'em go. It was a fair bargain, and I'll stick to
it. Skip out Johnnies, for every cent you're worth."{143}

The rebels did not wait for the conclusion of the sentence, but followed
their comrades with alacrity.

The boys ran forward through the woods to the edge of the bank, and saw
their opponents climbing up the opposite bank and getting behind the
sheltering trees. Si waited till his particular one got good shelter
behind a large sycamore, and then sent a bullet that cut closely above
his head.

This was the signal for a general and spiteful fusillade from both sides
of the river and all along the line. The rebels banged away as if in
red-hot wrath at being run across the stream, and Co. Q retorted
with such earnestness that another company was sent forward to its
assistance, but returned when the Irish Lieutenant, who had gone forward
to investigate, reported:

"Faith, its loike the divil shearing a hog--all cry and no wool at all."

So it was. Both sides found complete shelter behind the giant trunks
of the trees, and each fired at insignificant portions of the anatomy
allowed to momentarily protrude beyond the impenetrable boles.

After this had gone on for about half an hour those across the river
from Si and Shorty called out:

"Say, Yanks, ye can't shoot down a beech tree with a Springfield musket,
nohow ye kin do it. If we'uns hain't killin' more o' yo'uns than yo'uns
is a-killin' o' we'uns, we'uns air both wastin' a powerful lot o' powder
an' lead and good shootin'. What d' yo'uns say to King's excuse for
awhile?"

"We're agreed," said Si promptly, stepping from{144} behind the tree,
and leaving his gun standing against it.

"Hit's a go," responded the rebels, coming out disarmed. "We'uns won't
shoot no more till ordered, an' then'll give yo'uns warnin' fust."

[Illustration: THE OVERTURE FOR TRADE. 144]

"All right; we'll give you warning before we shoot," coincided Si.

"Say, have yo'uns got any Yankee coffee that{145} you'll trade for a
good plug o' terbacker?" inquired the man whom Si had regarded as his
particular antagonist.

"Yes," answered Si. "We've got a little. We'll give you a cupful for a
long plug with none cut off."

"What kind of a cupful?" asked the bartering "Johnny."

"A big, honest cupful. One o' this kind," said Si, showing his.

"All right. Hit's to be strike measure," said the rebel. "Here's the
plug," and he held up a long plug of "natural leaf."

"O. K.," responded Si. "Meet me half way."

The truce had quickly extended, and the firing suspended all along the
line of Co. Q. The men came out from behind their trees, and sat down on
the banks in open view of one another.

Si filled his cup "heaping-full" with coffee, climbed down the bank and
waded out into the middle of the water. The rebel met him there, while
his companion and Shorty stood on the banks above and watched the trade.

"Y're givin' me honest measure, Yank," said the rebel, looking at the
cup. "Now, if ye hain't filled the bottom o' yer cup with coffee
that's bin biled before, I'll say y're all right. Some o' yo'uns air so
dod-gasted smart that y' poke off on we'uns coffee that's bin already
biled, and swindle we'uns."

"Turn it out and see," said Si.

The rebel emptied the cup into a little bag, carefully scrutinizing
the stream as it ran in. It was all fine, fragrant, roasted and ground
coffee.{146}

"Lord, thar's enough t' last me a month with keer," said the rebel,
gazing unctuously at the rich brown grains. "I won't use more'n a
spoonful a day, an' bile hit over twice. Yank, here's yer terbacker.
I've made a good trade. Here's a Chatanooga paper I'll throw in to boot.
Got a Northern paper about ye anywhar?"

Si produced a somewhat frayed Cincinnati Gazette.

"I can't read myself," said the rebel, as he tucked the paper away.
"Never l'arned to. Pap wuz agin hit. Said hit made men lazy. He got
erlong without readin', and raised the biggest fambly on Possum Crick.
But thar's a feller in my mess kin read everything but the big words,
and I like t' git a paper for him to read to the rest o' we'uns."

"Was your pardner badly hurt by mine's shot?" asked Si.

"No. The bullet jest scraped the bone. He'll be likely to have a stitch
in his side for awhile, but he's a very peart man, and won't mind that.
I'm s'prised he didn't lay your pardner out. He's the best shot in our
company."

"Well, he was buckin' agin a mighty good shot, and I'm surprised your
pardner's alive. I wouldn't 've given three cents for him when Shorty
drawed down on him; but Shorty's bin off duty for awhile, and his gun's
not in the best order. Howsumever, I'm awful glad that it come out as it
did. His life's worth a dozen rebels."

"The blazes you say. I'd have you know, Yank, that one Confederit is
wuth a whole rijimint o' Lincoln hirelings. I'll--"{147}

"O, come off--come off--that's more o' your old five-to-one gas," said
Si irritatingly. "I thought we'd walloped that dumbed nonsense out o'
your heads long ago. We've showed right along that, man for man, we're a
sight better'n you. We've always licked you when we've had anything like
a fair show. At Stone River you had easy two men to our one, and yit we
got away with you."

"'Tain't so. It's a lie. If hit wuzzent for the{148} Dutch and Irish you
hire, you couldn't fight we'uns at all."

"Look here, reb," said Si, getting hot around the ears, "I'm neither a
Dutchman nor an Irishman; we hain't a half dozen in our company. I'm
a better man than you've got in your regiment. Either me or Shorty kin
lick any man you put up; Co. Q kin lick your company single-handed and
easy; the 200th Injianny kin lick any regiment in the rebel army. To
prove it, I kin lick you right here."

[Illustration: SI WANTS A FIGHT 147]

Si thrust the plug of tobacco into his blouse pocket and began rolling
up his sleeves.

The rebel did not seem at all averse to the trial and squared off at
him. Then Shorty saw the belligerent attitude and yelled:

"Come, Si. Don't fight there. That's no place. If you're goin' to fight,
come up on level ground, where it kin be fair and square. Come up here,
or we'll go over there."

"O, come off," shouted the rebel on the other side. "Don't be a fool,
Bill. Fist-foutin' don't settle nothin'. Come back here and git your gun
if ye want to fout. But don't le's fout no more to-day. Thar's plenty of
it for ter-morrer. Le's keep quiet and peaceful now. I want powerfully
to take a swim. Air you fellers agreed?"

"Yes; yes," shouted Shorty. "You fellers keep to your side o' the river,
and we will to ours."

The agreement was carried into instantaneous effect, and soon both sides
of the stream were filled with laughing, romping, splashing men.

There was something very exhilarating in the cool, clear, mountain
water of the stream. The boys{149} got to wrestling, and Si came off
victorious in two or three bouts with his comrades.

"Cock-a-doodle-doo," he shouted, imitating the crow of a rooster. "I kin
duck any man in the 200th Injianny."

The challenge reached the ears of the rebel with whom Si had traded. He
was not satisfied with the result of his conference.

"You kin crow over your fellers, Yank," he shouted; "but you dassent
come to the middle an' try me two falls outen three."

Si immediately made toward him. They surveyed each other warily for a
minute to get the advantages of the first clinch, when a yell came from
the rebel side:

"Scatter, Confeds! Hunt yer holes, Yanks! The Cunnel's a-comin'."

Both sides ran up their respective banks, snatched up their guns, took
their places behind their trees, and opened a noisy but harmless fire.

{150}



CHAPTER XI. SHORTY'S CORRESPONDENT

GETS A LETTER FROM BAD AX, WIS., AND IS ALMOST OVERCOME WITH JOY.

SHORTY had always been conspicuously lacking in the general interest
which his comrades had shown in the mails. Probably at some time in his
life he had had a home like the rest of them, but for some reason home
now played no part in his thoughts. The enlistment and muster-rolls
stated that he was born in Indiana, but he was a stranger in the
neighborhood when he enrolled himself in Co. Q.

His revelations as to his past were confined to memories of things which
happened "when I was cuttin' wood down the Mississippi," or "when I was
runnin' on an Ohio sternwheel."

He wrote no letters and received none. And when the joyful cry, "Mail's
come," would send everybody else in the regiment on a run to the
Chaplain's tent, in eager anticipation, to jostle one another in
impatience, until the contents of the mailpouch were distributed, Shorty
would remain indifferent in his tent, without an instant's interruption
in his gun cleaning, mending, or whatever task he might have in hand.

A change came over him after he sent his letter to Bad Ax, Wis. The
cry, "Mail's come," would make{151} him start, in spite of himself, and
before he could think to maintain his old indifference. He was ashamed,
lest he betray his heart's most secret thoughts.

The matter of the secure transmission of the mails between camp and home
began to receive his earnest attention. He feared that the authorities
were not taking sufficient precautions. The report that John Morgan's
guerrillas had captured a train between Louisville and Nashville, rifled
the mail car, and carried off the letters, filled him with burning
indignation, both against Morgan and his band and the Generals who had
not long ago exterminated that pestiferous crowd.

He had some severe strictures on the slovenly way in which the mail was
distributed from the Division and Brigade Headquarters to the regiments.
It was a matter, he said, which could not be done too carefully. It
was a great deal more important than the distribution of rations. A man
would much rather lose several days' rations than a letter from home.
He could manage in some way to get enough to live on, but nothing would
replace a lost letter.

Then, he would have fits of silent musing, sometimes when alone,
sometimes when with Si in the company, over the personality of the fair
stocking-knitter of Wisconsin and the letter he had sent her. He would
try to recall the exact wording of each sentence he had laboriously
penned, and wonder how it impressed her, think how it might have been
improved, and blame himself for not having been more outspoken in his
desire to hear from her again. He would steal off into the brush, pull
out the socks{152} and letter, which he kept carefully wrapped up in
a sheet of the heavy letter paper, and read over the letter carefully
again, although he knew every word of it by heart. These fits alarmed
Si.

"I'm af eared," he confided to some cronies, "that rebel bullet hurt
Shorty more'n he'll let on. He's not actin' like hisself at times. That
bullet scraped so near his thinkery that it may have addled it. It was
an awful close shave."

"Better talk to the Surgeon," said they. "Glancing bullets sometimes
hurt worse'n they seem to."

"No, the bullet didn't hurt Shorty, any more than make a scratch," said
the Surgeon cheerfully when Si laid the case before him. "I examined him
carefully. That fellow's head is so hard that no mere scraping is going
to affect it. You'd have to bore straight through it, and I'd want at
least a six-pounder to do it with if I was going to undertake the job.
An Indiana head may not be particularly fine, but it is sure to be
awfully solid and tough. No; his system's likely to be out of order. You
rapscallions will take no care of yourselves, in spite of all that I can
say, but will eat and drink as if you were ostriches. He's probably
a little off his feed, and a good dose of bluemass followed up with
quinine will bring him around all right. Here, take these, and give them
to him."

The Surgeon was famous for prescribing bluemass and quinine for every
ailment presented to him, from sore feet to "shell fever." Si received
the medicines with a proper show of thankfulness, saluted, and left.
As he passed through the clump if bushes he was tempted to add them to
the{153} collection of little white papers which marked the trail from
the Surgeon's tent, but solicitude for his comrade restrained him. The
Surgeon was probably right, and it was Si's duty to do all that he could
to bring Shorty around again to his normal condition. But how in the
world was he going to get his partner to take the medicine? Shorty had
the resolute antipathy to drugs common to all healthy men.

It was so grave a problem that Si sat down on a log to think about it.
As was Si's way, the more he thought about it, the more determined he
became to do it, and when Si Klegg determined to do a thing, that thing
was pretty nearly as good as done.

"I kin git him to take the quinine easy enough," he mused. "All I've got
to do is to put it in a bottle o' whisky, and he'd drink it if there wuz
40 'doses o' quinine in it. But the bluemass's a very different thing.
He's got to swaller it in a lump, and what in the world kin I put it in
that he'll swaller whole?"

Si wandered over to the Sutler's in hopes of seeing something there that
would help him. He was about despairing when he noticed a boy open a can
of large, yellow peaches.

"The very thing," said Si, slapping his thigh. "Say, young man, gi' me a
can o' peaches jest like them."

Si took his can and carefully approached his tent, that he might decide
upon his plan before Shorty could see him and his load. He discovered
that Shorty was sitting at a little distance, with his back to him,
cleaning his gun, which he had taken apart.

"Bully," thought Si. "Just the thing. His hands{154} are dirty and
greasy, and he won't want to tech anything to eat."

He slipped into the tent, cut open the can, took out a large peach with
a spoon, laid the pellet of bluemass in it, laid another slice of peach
upon it, and then came around in front of Shorty, holding out the spoon.

"Open your mouth and shut your eyes, Shorty," he said. "I saw some
o' the nicest canned peaches down at the Sutler's, and I suddenly got
hungry for some. I bought a can and brung 'em up to the tent. Jest try
'em."

He stuck the spoon out towards Shorty's mouth. The latter, with his
gunlock in one hand and a greasy rag in the other, looked at the
tempting morsel, opened his mouth, and the deed was done.

"Must've left a stone in that peach," he said, as he gulped it down.

"Mebbe so," said Si, with a guilty flush, and pretending to examine the
others. "But I don't find none in the rest Have another?"

Shorty swallowed two or three spoonfuls more, and then gasped:

"They're awful nice, Si, but I've got enough. Keep the rest for
yourself."

Si went back to the tent and finished the can with mingled emotions of
triumph at having succeeded, and of contrition at playing a trick on his
partner. He decided to make amends for the latter by giving Shorty an
unusually large quantity of whisky to take with his quinine.

Si was generally very rigid in his temperance ideas, He strongly
disapproved of Shorty's{155} drinking, and always interposed all the
obstacles he could in the way of it. But this was an extraordinary
case--it would be "using liquor for a medicinal purpose"--and his
conscience was quieted.

Co. Q had one of those men--to be found in every company--who can get
whisky under apparently any and all circumstances. In every company
there is always one man who seemingly can find something to get drunk on
in the midst of the Desert of Sahara. To Co. Q's representative of this
class Si went, and was piloted to where, after solemn assurances against
"giving away," he procured a halfpint of fairly-good applejack, into
which he put his doses of quinine.

In the middle of the night Shorty woke up with a yell.

"Great Cesar's ghost!" he howled, "what's the matter with me? I'm
sicker'n a dog. Must've bin them dodgasted peaches. Si, don't you feel
nothin'?"

"No," said Si sheepishly; "I'm all right. Didn't you eat nothin' else
but them?"

"Naw," said Shorty disgustedly. "Nothin' but my usual load o' hardtack
and pork. Yes, I chawed a piece o' sassafras root that one of the boys
dug up."

"Must've bin the sassafras root," said Si. He hated to lie, and made
a resolution that he would make a clean breast to Shorty--at some
more convenient time. It was not opportune now. "That must've bin a
sockdologer of a dose the Surgeon gave me," he muttered to himself.

Shorty continued to writhe and howl, and Si made{156} a hypocritical
offer of going for the Surgeon, but Shorty vetoed that emphatically.

"No; blast old Sawbones," he said. "He won't do nothin' but give me
bluemass, and quinine, and I never could nor would take bluemass. It's
only fit for horses and hogs."

Toward morning Shorty grew quite weak, and correspondingly depressed.

"Si," said he, "I may not git over this. This may be the breakin' out o'
the cholera that the folks around here say comes every seven years and
kills off the strangers. Si, I'll tell you a secret. A letter may come
for me. If I don't git over this, and the letter comes, I want you to
burn it up without reading it, and write a letter to Miss Jerusha Ellen
Briggs, Bad Ax, Wis., tellin' her that I died like a man and soldier,
and with her socks on, defendin' his country."

Si whistled softly to himself. "I'll do it. Shorty," he said, and
repeated the address to make sure.

The crisis soon passed, however, and the morning found Shorty bright and
cheerful, though weak.

Si was puzzled how to get the whisky to Shorty. It would never do to let
him know that he had gotten it especially for him. That would have been
so contrary to Si's past as to arouse suspicion. He finally decided
to lay it where it would seem that someone passing had dropped it, and
Shorty could not help finding it. The plan worked all right. Shorty
picked it up in a few minutes after Si had deposited it, and made quite
an ado over his treasure trove.

"Splendid applejack," he said, tasting it; "little bitter, but that
probably comes from their using{157} dogwood in the fires when they're
'stilhn'. They know that dogwood'll make the liquor bitter, but they're
too all-fired lazy to go after any other kind o' wood." He drank, and
as he drank his spirits rose. After the first dram he thought he would
clean around the tent, and make their grounds look neater than anybody
else's. After the second he turned his attention to his arms and
accouterments. After the third he felt like going out on a scout and
finding some rebels to vary the monotony of the camp-life. After the
fourth, "Groundhog," unluckily for himself, came along, and Shorty
remembered that he had long owed the teamster a licking, and he felt
that the debt should not be allowed to run any longer. He ordered
Groundhog to halt and receive his dues. The teamster demurred, but
Shorty was obdurate, and began preparations to put his intention into
operation, when the Orderly-Sergeant came down through the company
street distributing mail.

[Illustration: SHORTY WANTS TO FIGHT GROUNDHOG 157]

"Shorty," he said, entirely ignoring the bellicosity of the scene,
"here's a letter for you."

Shorty's first thought was to look at the postmark. Sure enough, it was
Bad Ax, Wis. Instantly his whole demeanor changed. Here was something a
hundred times more important than licking any teamster that ever lived.

"Git out, you scab," he said contemptuously. "I haint no time to fool
with you now. You'll keep. This won't."

Groundhog mistook the cause of his escape. "O, you're powerful anxious
to fight, ain't you, till you find I'm ready for you, and then you quiet
down. I'll let you know, sir, that you mustn't give me no more o' your
sass. I won't stand it from you. You jest keep your mouth shet after
this, if you know when you're well off."

The temptation would have been irresistible to Shorty at any other
time, but now he must go off somewhere where he could be alone with his
letter, and to the amazement of all the spectators he made no reply to
the teamster's gibes, but holding the{159} precious envelope firmly in
his hand, strode off to the seclusion of a neighboring laurel thicket.

His first thought, as he sat down and looked the envelope over again,
was shame that it had come to him when he was under the influence of
drink. He remembered the writer's fervent Christianity, and it seemed
to him that it would be a gross breach of faith for him to open and
read the letter while the fumes of whisky were on his breath. He had a
struggle with his burning desire to see the inside of the envelope,
but he conquered, and put the letter back in his pocket until he was
thoroughly sober.

But he knew not what to do to fill up the time till he could
conscientiously open the letter. He thought of going back and fulfilling
his long-delayed purpose of thrashing Groundhog, but on reflection this
scarcely commended itself as a fitting prelude.

He heard voices approaching--one sympathetic and encouraging, the other
weak, pain-breathing, almost despairing. He looked out and saw the
Chaplain helping back to the hospital a sick man who had over-estimated
his strength and tried to reach his company. The man sat down on a rock,
in utter exhaustion.

Shorty thrust the letter back into his blousepocket, sprang forward,
picked the man up in his strong arms, and carried him bodily to the
hospital. It taxed his strength to the utmost, but it sobered him and
cleared his brain.

He returned to his covert, took out his letter, and again scanned its
exterior carefully. He actually feared to open it, but at last drew his
knife and carefully slit one side. He unfolded the inclosure as{160}
carefully as if it had been a rare flower, and with palpitating heart
slowly spelled out the words, one after another:

[Illustration: SHORTY READING THE LETTER 160]


     "Bad Ax, Wisconsin,

     "April the Twenty-First, 1863.

     "Mister Daniel Elliott, Company Q, 200th Indiana Volunteer
     Infantry.

     "Respected Sir: I taik my pen in hand toe inform you that I
     am wel, and hoap that you aire in joying{161} the saim
     blessing. For this, God be prazed and magnified forever."

"Goodness, how religious she is," said he, stopping to ruminate. "How
much nicer it makes a woman to be pious. It don't hurt a man much to
be a cuss--at least while he's young--but I want a woman to be awfully
religious. It sets her off more'n anything else."

He continued his spelling exercise:

     "I am verry glad that my sox reached you all rite, that they
     fell into the hands of a braiv, pious Union soldier, and he
     found them nice."

"Brave, pious Union soldier," he repeated to himself, with a whistle.
"Jewhilikins, I'm glad Bad Ax, Wis., is so fur away that she never heard
me makin' remarks when a mule-team's stalled. But I must git a brace on
myself, and clean up my langwidge for inspection-day."

He resumed the spelling:

     "I done the best I could on them, and moren that no one can
     do. Wimmen cant fite in this cruel war, but they ought all
     to do what they can. I only wish I could do more. But the
     wimmen must stay at home and watch and wait, while the men
     go to the front."

"That's all right. Miss Jerusha Ellen Briggs," said he, with more
satisfaction. "You jest stay at home and watch and wait, and I'll try
to do fightin' enough for both of us. I'll put in some extra licks in
future on your account, and they won't miss you from the front."

The next paragraph read:

     "I should like to hear more of you and your{162} regiment.
     The only time I ever beared of the 200th Indiana regiment
     was in a letter writ home by one of our Wisconsin boys and
     published in the Bad Ax Grindstone, in which he said they
     wuz brigaded with the 200th Indiana, a good fighting
     regiment, but which would stele even the shoes off the
     brigade mules if they wuzzent watched, and sumtimes when
     they wuz. Ime sorry to hear that any Union soldier is a
     thief. I know that our boys from Wisconsin would rather die
     than stele."

"Steal! The 200th Injianny steal!" Shorty flamed out in a rage. "Them
flabbergasted, knock-kneed, wall-eyed Wisconsin whelps writin' home that
the Injiannians are thieves! The idee o' them longhaired, splay-footed
lumbermen, them chuckleheaded, wap-sided, white-pine butchers talking
about anybody else's honesty. Why, they wuz born stealin'. They never
knowed anything else. They'd steal the salt out o' your hardtack. They'd
steal the lids off the Bible. They talk about the 200th Injiannny! I'd
like to find the liar that writ that letter. I'd literally pound the
head offen him."

It was some time before he could calm himself down sufficiently to
continue his literary exercise. Then he made out:

     "Spring's lait here, but things is looking very well. Wheat
     wintered good, and a big crop is expected. We had a fine
     singing-school during the Winter, but the protracted meeting
     drawed off a good many. We doant complain, however, for the
     revival brought a great many into the fold. No moar at
     present, but belave me

     "Sincerly Your Friend,

     "Jerusha Ellen Briggs."{163}


Shorty's heart almost choked him when he finished. It was the first
time in his hfe that he had received a letter from any woman. It was
the first time since his mother's days that any woman had shown the
slightest interest in his personality. And, true man like, his impulses
were to exalt this particular woman into something above the mere
mortal.

Then came a hot flush of indignation that the Wisconsin men should
malign his regiment, which, of course, included him, to the mind of
such a being. He burned to go over and thrash the first Wisconsin man he
should meet.

"Call us thieves; say we'll steal," he muttered, as he walked toward the
Wisconsin camp. "I'll learn 'em different."

He did not see anybody in the camp that he could properly administer
this needed lesson to. All the vigorous, able-bodied members seemed
to be out on drill or some other duty, leaving only a few sick moping
around the tents.

Shorty's attention was called to a spade lying temptingly behind one of
the tents. He and Si had badly wanted a spade for several days. Here was
an opportunity to acquire one. Shorty sauntered carelessly around to the
rear of the tent, looked about to see that no one was observing, picked
up the implement and walked off with it with that easy, innocent air
that no one could assume with more success than he when on a predatory
expedition.



CHAPTER XII. THE BAN ON WET GOODS

SI HAS A HARD TIME TRYING TO KEEP WHISKY OUT OF CAMP.

"DETAIL for guard to-morrow," sang out the Orderly-Sergeant, after he had
finished the evening roll-call: "Bailey, Belcher, Doolittle, Elliott,
Fracker, Gleason, Hendricks, Hummerson. Long, Mansur, Nolan, Thompson."

"Corp'l Klegg, you will act as Sergeant of the Guard.

"Dan Elliott will act as Corporal of the Guard." It is one of the
peculiarities of men that the less they have to do the less they want to
do. The boys of Co. Q were no different from the rest. When they were in
active service a more lively, energetic crowd could not be found in the
army. They would march from daybreak till midnight, and build roads, dig
ditches, and chop trees on the way. They were ready and willing for any
service, and none were louder than they in their condemnation when they
thought that the officers did not order done what should be. But when
lying around camp, with absolutely nothing to do but ordinary routine,
they developed into the laziest mortals that breathed. To do a turn of
guard duty was a heart-breaking affliction, and the Orderly-Sergeant's
announcement of those who were detailed for the morrow brought forth a
yell of protest from every man whose name was called.{165}

"I only come off guard day before yesterday," shouted Bailey.

"I'm sick, and can't walk a step," complained Belcher, who had walked 15
miles the day before, hunting "pies-an'-milk."

"That blamed Orderly's got a spite at me; he'd keep me on guard every
day in the week," grumbled Doolittle.

"I was on fatigue dooty only yesterday," protested Fracker, who had to
help carry the company rations from the Commissary's tent.

"I'm goin' to the Surgeon an' git an excuse," said Gleason, who had
sprained his wrist a trifle in turning a handspring.

So it went through the whole list.

"I want to see every gun spick-and-span, every blouse brushed and
buttoned, and every shoe neatly blacked, when I march you up to the
Adjutant," said the Orderly, entirely oblivious to the howls. "If any of
you don't, he'll have a spell of digging up roots on the parade. I won't
have such a gang of scarecrows as I have had to march out the last
few days. You fellows make a note of that, and govern yourselves
accordingly."

"Right face--Break ranks--March!"

"Corp'l Klegg," said the Officer of the Day the next morning, as Si was
preparing to relieve the old guard, "the Colonel is very much worked up
over the amount of whisky that finds its way into camp. Now that we are
out here by ourselves we certainly ought to be able to control this. Yet
there was a disgusting number of drunken men in camp yesterday, and
a lot of trouble that should not be. The Colonel has{166} talked very
strongly on this subject, and he expects us to-day to put a stop to
this. I want you to make an extra effort to keep whisky out. I think you
can do it if you try real hard."

"I'll do my best, sir," said Si, saluting.

"Shorty," Si communed with his next in rank before they started on their
rounds with the first relief, "we must see that there's no whisky brung
into camp this day."

"You jest bet your sweet life there won't be, either," returned
Shorty. He felt not a little elated over his brevet rank and the
responsibilities of his position as Corporal of the Guard. "This here
camp'll be as dry as the State o' Maine to-day."

It was a hot, dull day, with little to occupy the time of those off
guard. As usual, Satan was finding "some mischief for idle hands to do."

After he put on the first relief, Si went back to the guard tent and
busied himself awhile over the details of work to be found there. There
were men under sentence of hard labor that he had to find employment
for, digging roots, cleaning up the camp, chopping wood and making
trenches. He got the usual chin-music from those whom he set to enforced
toil, about the injustice of their sentences and "the airs that some
folks put on when they wear a couple of stripes," but he took
this composedly, and after awhile went the rounds to look over his
guard-line, taking Shorty with him.

Everything seemed straight and soldierly, and they sat down by a cool
spring in a little shady hollow.

"Did you ever notice, Shorty," said Si, speculatively, as he looked over
the tin cup of cool water he{167} was sipping, "how long and straight
and string-like the cat-brier grows down here in this country? You see
25 or 30 feet of it at times no thicker'n wooltwine. Now, there's a
piece layin' right over there, on t'other side o' the branch, more'n a
rod long, and no thicker'n a rye straw."

"I see it, an' I never saw a piece o' cat-brier move endwise before,"
said Shorty, fixing his eyes on the string-like green.

"As sure's you're alive, it is movin'," said Si, starting to rise.

"Set still, keep quiet an' watch," admonished Shorty. "You'll find out
more."

Si sat still and looked. The direction the brier was moving was toward
the guard-line, some 100 feet away to the left. About the same distance
to the right was a thicket of alders, where Si thought he heard voices.
There were indications in the weeds that the cat-brier extended to
there.

The brier maintained its outward motion. Presently a clump of rags was
seen carried along by it.

"They're sending out their money for whisky," whispered Shorty. "Keep
quiet, and we'll confiscate the stuff when it comes in."

They saw the rag move straight toward the guardline, and pass under the
log on which the sentry walked when he paced his beat across the branch.
It finally disappeared in a bunch of willows.

Presently a bigger rag came out from the willows, in response to the
backward movement of the long cat-brier, and crawled slowly back under
the log and into camp. As it came opposite Si jumped out, put his
foot on the cat-brier and lifted up the rag. He{168} found, as he had
expected, that it wrapped up a pint flask of whisky.

"O, come off, Si; come off, Shorty!" appealed some of Co. Q from the
alders. "Drop that. You ain't goin' to be mean, boy's. You don't need to
know nothin' about that, an' why go makin' yourselves fresh when there's
no necessity? We want that awful bad, and we've paid good money for it."

"No, sir," said Shorty sternly, as he twisted the bottle off, and
smashed it on the stones. "No whisky goes into this camp. I'm astonished
at you. Whisky's a cuss. It's the bane of the army. It's the worm that
never dies. Its feet lead down to hell. Who hath vain babblings? Who
hath redness of eyes? The feller that drinks likker, and especially
Tennessee rotgut."

"O, come off; stop that dinged preaching, Shorty," said one impatiently.
"There's nobody in this camp that likes whisky better'n you do; there's
nobody that'll go further to get it, an' there's nobody up to more
tricks to beat the guard."

"What I do as a private soldier, Mr. Blakesley," said Shorty with
dignity, "haint nothing to do with my conduct when I'm charged
with responsible dooty. It's my dooty to stop the awful practice o'
likker-drinkin' in this camp, an' I'm goin' to do it, no matter what the
cost. You jest shet up that clam-shell o' your'n an' stop interfering
with your officers."

Si and Shorty went outside the lines to the clump of willows, but they
were not quick enough to catch Groundhog, the teamster, and the civilian
whom our readers will remember as having his head shaved in the camp at
Murfreesboro some weeks before. They{169} found, however, a jug of
new and particularly rasping apple-jack. There was just an instant of
wavering in Shorty's firmness when he uncorked the jug and smelled its
contents. He lifted it to his lips, to further confirm its character,
and Si trembled, for he saw the longing in his partner's eyes. The
latter's hand shook a little as the first few drops touched his tongue,
but with the look of a hero he turned and smashed the jug on a stone.

"You're solid. Shorty," said Si.

"Yes, but it was an awful wrench. Le's git away from the smell o' the
stuff," answered Shorty. "I'm afraid it'll be too much for me yit."

"Corporal of the Guard, Post No. 1."

"Sergeant of the Guard, Post No. 1," came down the line of sentries as
the two boys were sauntering back to camp.

"Somethin's happening over there at the gate," said Si, and they
quickened their steps in the direction of the main entrance to the camp.

They found there a lank, long-haired, ragged Tennesseean, with a
tattered hat of white wool on his head. His scanty whiskers were
weather-beaten, he had lost most of his front teeth, and as he talked
he spattered everything around with tobacco-juice. He rode on a blind,
raw-bone horse, which, with a dejected, broken-down mule, was attached
by ropes, fragments of straps, withes, and pawpaw bark to a shackly
wagon.

In the latter were some strings of dried apples, a pile of crescents
of dried pumpkins, a sack of meal, a few hands of tobacco, and a jug of
buttermilk.

"I want t' go inter the camps an' sell a leetle jag{170} o' truck,"
the native explained, as he drenched the surrounding weeds with
tobacco-juice. "My ole woman's powerful sick an' ailin', an' I need some
money awfully t' git her some quinine. Yarbs don't seem t' do her no
sort o' good. She must have some Yankee quinine, and she's nigh dead
fer some Yankee coffee. This war's mouty hard on po' people. Hit's jest
killin' 'em by inches, by takin' away their coffee an' quinine. I'm a
Union man, an' allers have bin."

"You haint got any whisky in that wagon, have you?" asked Si.

"O, Lord, no! nary mite. You don't think I'd try t' take whisky into
camp, do you? I'm not sich a bad man as that. Besides, whar'd I git
whisky? The war's broke up all the 'stilleries in the country. What the
Confedrits didn't burn yo'uns did. I've bin sufferin' for months fur a
dram o' whisky, an' as fur my ole woman, she's nearly died. That's the
reason the yarbs don't do her no good. She can't get no whisky to soak
'em in."

"He's entirely too talkative about the wickedness o' bringin' whisky
into camp," whispered Shorty. "He's bin there before. He's an old hand
at the business."

"Sure you've got no whisky?" said Si.

"Sartin, gentlemen; sarch my wagon, if you don't take my word. I only
wish I knowed whar thar wuz some whisky. I'd walk 20 miles in the rain
t' git one little flask fur my ole woman and myself. I tell you, thar
haint a drap t' be found in the hull Duck River Valley. 'Stilleries
all burnt, I tell you." And in the earnestness of his protestations he
sprayed his team,{171} himself, and the neighboring weeds with liquid
tobacco.

Si stepped back and carefully searched the wagon, opening the meal
sack, uncorking the buttermilk jug, and turning over the dried apples,
pumpkins and tobacco. There certainly was no whisky there.

Shorty stood leaning on his musket and looking at the man. He was pretty
sure that the fellow had had previous experience in running whisky into
camp, and was up to the tricks of the trade. Instead of a saddle the
man had under him an old calico quilt, whose original gaudy colors were
sadly dimmed by the sun, rain, and dirt. Shorty stepped forward and
lifted one corner. His suspicions were right. It had an under pocket,
in which was a flat, half-pint flask with a cob stopper, and filled with
apple-jack so new that it was as colorless as water.

"I wuz jest bringin' that 'ere in fur you, Capting," said the
Tennesseean, with a profound wink and an unabashed countenance. "Stick
hit in your pocket, quick. None o' the rest 's seed you."

Shorty flung the bottle down and ordered the man off his horse. The
quilt was examined. It contained a half-dozen more flasks, each holding
a "half-pint of throat-scorch and at least two fights," as Shorty
expressed it. A clumsy leather contrivance lay on the hames of the mule.
Flasks were found underneath this, and the man himself was searched.
More flasks were pulled out from the tail pockets of his ragged coat;
from his breast; from the crown of his ragged hat.

"Well," said Shorty, as he got through, "you're a regler grogshop on
wheels. All you need is a lot{172} o' loafers talkin' politics, a
few picturs o' racin' hosses and some customers buried in the village
graveyard to be a first-class bar-room. Turn around and git back to that
ole woman o' your'n, or we'll make you sicker'n she is."

Si and Shorty marched around with the second relief, and then sat down
to talk over the events of the morning.

"I guess we've purty well settled the whisky business for to-day, at
least," said Si. "The Colonel can't complain of us. I don't think we'll
have any more trouble. Seems to me that there can't be no more whisky in
this part o' Tennessee, from the quantity we've destroyed."

"Don't be too dinged sure o' that," said Shorty. "Whisky seems to brew
as naturally in this country as the rosin to run out o' the pine
trees. I never saw sich a country fur likker. They have more stills in
Tennessee than blacksmith shops, and they work stiddier."

Si looked down the road and saw returning a wagon which had been sent
out in the morning for forage. It was well loaded, and the guards who
were marching behind had a few chickens and other supplies that they had
gathered up.

"Boys seem to be purty fresh, after their tramp," said he, with the
first thought of a soldier looking at marching men. "They've all got
their guns at carry arms. I noticed that as they came over the hill."

"Yes," answered Shorty, after a glance, "and they're holdin' 'em up very
stiff an' straight. That gives mo an idee. Lo's go over there an' take a
look at 'em."{173}

Shorty had sniffed at a trick that he had more than once played in
getting the forbidden beverage past the lynx-eyed sentry.

"Don't you find it hard work to march at routstep with your guns at a
carry?" he said insinuatingly. "No need o' doin' that except on parade
or drill. Right-shoulder-shift or arms-at-will is the thing when you're
on the road."

"H-s-sh," said the leading file, with a profound wink and a sidelong
glance at Si. "Keep quiet, Shorty," he added in a stage whisper. "We'll
give you some. It's all right. We'll whack up fair."

"No, it ain't all right," said Shorty, with properly offended official
dignity. "Don't you dare offer to bribe me, Buck Harper, when I'm on
duty. Hand me that gun this minute."

Harper shamefacedly handed over the musket, still holding it carefully
upright. Shorty at once reversed it and a stream of whisky ran out upon
the thirsty soil.

Si grasped the situation, and disarmed the others with like result.

"I ought to put every one o' you in' the guardhouse for this. It's lucky
that the Officer of the Guard wasn't here. He'd have done it. There he
comes now. Skip out after the wagon, quick, before he gits on to you."

"What next?" sighed Si. "Is the whole world bent on bringin' whisky into
this camp? Haint they got none for the others?"

"Sergeant of the Guard, Post No. 1," rang out upon the hot air. Si
walked over again to the entrance, and saw seeking admission a tall,
bony{174} woman, wearing a dirty and limp sunbonnet and smoking a
corn-cob pipe. She was mounted on a slab-sided horse, with ribs like a
washboard, and carried a basket on her arm covered with a coarse cloth
none too clean.

"Looks as if she'd bin picked before she was ripe and got awfully warped
in the dryin'. All the same she's loaded with whisky," commented Shorty
as the woman descended from her saddle and approached the sentry with an
air of resolute demand.

"You haint got no right to stop me, young feller," she said. "I come in
hyar every day an' bring pies. Your Jinerul said I could, an' he wanted
me to. His men want my pies, an' they do 'em good. Hit's homecookin',
an' takes the taste o' the nasty camp vittles out o' their mouths, an'
makes 'em healthy. You jest raise yer gun, an' let me go right in, or
I'll tell yer Jinerul, an' he'll make it warm fur yer. I've got a pass
from him."

"Let me see your pass," said Si, stepping forward. The woman unhooked
her linsey dress, fumbled around in the recesses, and finally produced a
soiled and crumpled paper, which, when straightened out, read:

     "Mrs. Sarah Bolster has permission to pass in and out of the
     camp of the 200th Indiana Volunteer Infantry.

     "By order of Col. Quackenbush.

     "D. L. Blakemore, Lieut. & Adj't."

"What've you got in that basket?" asked Si, still hesitating.

"Pies," she answered confidently. "The best pies you ever seed. Some of
'em pumpkin; but the rest{175} of 'em dried apple, with lots o' 'lasses
in fur sweetenin'. Your mother never baked better pies 'n 'em."

"To my mind," muttered Shorty, as he stepped forward to investigate the
basket, "she's the kind o' a woman I'd like to have bake pies for a gang
o' State's prison birds that I wanted to kill off without the trouble o'
hangin'. Say, ma'am, are your pies pegged or sewed? What'd you use for
shortenen'--injy rubber or Aunt Jemimy's plaster?" he continued as he
turned back the cloth and surveyed the well-known specimens of mountain
baking which were as harmful to Uncle Sam's boys as the bullets of their
enemies.

"Young feller, none o' yer sass," she said severely. "Them's better pies
than ye're used ter. Folks that's never had nothin' air allers the most
partickeler, an' turnin' up thar noses at rayly good things. Don't
fool with me no more, but let me go on inter camp, fur the soljers air
expectin' me."

"Sure you haint got no whisky down in the bottom o' that basket?" said
Si, pushing the pies about a little, to get a better look.

The indignation of the woman at this insinuation was stunning. She took
her pipe out of her mouth to better express her contempt for men who
would insult a Southern lady by such a hint--one, too, that had been of
so much benefit to the soldiers by toiling over the hot oven to prepare
for them food more acceptable than the coarse rations their stingy
Government furnished them. She had never been so insulted in her life,
and she would bring down on them dire punishment from the Colonel.

Several experiences with the tongue-lashings of{176} Southern viragoes
had made Si and Shorty less impressed by them than they had been
earlier in their service. Still, they had the healthy young man's awe of
anything that wore skirts, and the tirade produced its effect, but not
strong enough to eradicate the belief that she was a whisky-bringer.
While she stormed Si kept his eyes fixed upon the scant linsey dress
which draped her tall form. Presently he said to Shorty:

"What do you think? Shall we let her go in?" Shorty whispered back with
great deliberation: "Si, what I know about the female form don't amount
to shucks. Least of all the Tennessee female form. But I've been lookin'
that 'ere woman over carefully while she's been jawin', an' while she's
naturally covered with knots and knobs in places where it seems to me
that women generally don't have 'em, I can't help believin' that she's
got some knots and knobs that naturally don't belong to her. In other
words, she's got a whole lot o' flasks of whisky under her skirts."

"Jest what I've been suspicionin'," said Si. "I've heard that that's the
way lots o' whisky is brung into camp. Shorty, as Corporal o' the Guard,
it's your duty to search her."

"What!" yelled Shorty, horror-struck at the immodest thought. "Si Klegg,
are you gone plum crazy?"

"Shorty," said Si firmly, "it's got to be done. She's got a pass, and
the right to go into camp. We're both o' the opinion that she's carryin'
in whisky. If she was a man there'd be no doubt that she'd have to be
searched. I don't understand that the law{177} knows any difference
in persons. No matter what you may think about it, it is your duty, as
Corporal o' the Guard, to make the search."

"No, sir-ree," insisted Shorty. "You're Sergeant o' the Guard, and it's
your dooty to make all searches."

"Shorty," expostulated Si, "I'm much younger and modester'n you are, an'
haint seen nearly so much o' the world. You ought to do this. Besides,
you're under my orders, as Actin' Corporal. I order you to make the
search."

"Si Klegg," said Shorty firmly, "I'll see you and all the Corporals and
Sergeants betwixt here and Washington in the middle o' next week before
I'll do it. You may buck-and-gag me, and tie me up by the thumbs, and
then I won't. I resign my position as Corporal right here, and'll take
by gun and go on post."

"What in the world are we goin' to do?" said Si desperately. "If we let
her in, she'll fill the camp full o' whisky, and she'll have to go in,
unless we kin show some reason for keepin' her out. Hold on; I've got an
idee."

He went up to the woman and said:

"You say you want to go into camp to sell your pies?"

"Yes, sir, an' I want to go in right off--no more foolin' around," she
answered tartly.

"How many pies've you got?"

She went through a laborious counting, and finally announced: "Eight
altogether."

"How much are they worth?"

"Fifty cents apiece."{178}

"Very good," announced Si taking some money from his pocket. "That comes
to $4. I'll take the lot and treat the boys. Here's your money. Now
you've got no more business in camp, jest turn around and mosey for
home. You've made a good day's business, and ought to be satisfied."

The woman scowled with disappointment. But she wisely concluded that
she h'd better be content with the compromise, remounted her horse and
disappeared down the road.

"That was a sneak out of a difficulty," Si confessed to Shorty; "but you
were as big a coward as I was."

"No, I wasn't," insisted Shorty, still watchful. "You'd no right to
order me do something that you was afraid to do yourself. That's no kind
o' officering."

{179}



CHAPTER XIII. THE JEW SPY WRITES

SHORTY HAS AN ADVENTURE WITH A LONE, LORN WIDDER LADY."

"I WONDER what has become of our Jew spy, Shorty?" said Si, as he and
Shorty sat on the bank of Duck River and watched the rebel pickets
lounging under the beeches on the other side. "We hain't heard nothin'
of him for more'n a month now."

"He's probably hung," answered Shorty. "He was entirely too smart
to live long. A man can't go on always pokin' his finger into a
rattlesnake's jaw without gittin' it nipped sooner or later."

"I'm looking fur a man called Si Klegg," they heard behind them. Looking
around they saw the tall, gaunt woman whom they had turned back from
entering the camp a few days before, under the belief that she was
trying to smuggle in whisky.

"What in the world can she want o' me?" thought Si; but he answered:

"That's my name. What'll you have?"

A flash of recognition filled at once her faded blue eyes. Without
taking her pipe from between her yellow, snaggly teeth she delivered
a volley of tobacco-juice at an unoffending morning-glory, and snapped
out:

"O, y'r him, air ye? Y'r the dratted measly{180} sapsucker that bounced
me 'bout takin' likker inter camp. What bizniss wuz hit o' your'n
whether I tuk likker in or not? Jest wanted t' be smart, didn't ye? Jest
wanted t' interfere with a lone, lorn widder lady makin' a honest livin'
for herself and 10 children. My ole man ketched the black ager layin'
out in the brush to dodge the conscripters. It went plumb to his heart
an' killed him. He wa'n't no great loss, nohow, fur he'd eat more in a
week than he'd kill, ketch, or raise in a year. When his light went out
I'd only one less mouth to feed, and got rid o' his jawin' an' cussin'
all the time. But that hain't nothin' t' do with you. You 's jest
puttin' on a lettle authority kase ye could. But all men air alike
that-a-way. Elect a man Constable, an' he wants t' put on more airs than
the Guv-nor; marry him, an' he makes ye his slave."

"I should think it'd be a bold man that'd try to make you his slave.
Madam," Si ventured.

"Y' she'd think," she retorted, with her arms akimbo. "Who axed y' t'
think, young feller? What d' y' do hit with. Why d' y' strain y'rself
doin' somethin' y' ain't used t'?"

It did Shorty so much good to see Si squelched, that he chuckled aloud
and called out:

"Give it to him, old Snuff-Dipper. He's from the Wabash, an' hain't no
friends. He's bin itchin' a long time for jest such a skinnin' as you're
givin' him."

"Who air y' callin' Snuff-Dipper?" she retorted, turning angrily
on Shorty. "What've ye got t' say agin snuff-dippin', anyway,
y' terbacker-chawin', likker-guzzlin', wall-oyed, splay-footed,
knock-kneed{181} oaf? What air y' greasy hirelings a-comin' down heah
fo', t' sass and slander Southern ladies, who air yo' superiors?"

"Give it to him, old Corncob Pipe," yelled Si "He needs lambastin'
worse'n any man in the regiment. But what did you want to see me for?"

"I wanted to see yo' bekase I got a letter to yo' from a friend o' mine,
who said yo' wuz gentlemen, an' rayly not Yankees at all. He said that
yo' wuz forced into the army agin yo' will."

"Gracious, what a liar that man must be," murmured Shorty to himself.

"An' yo' rayly had no heart to fight for the nigger, an' that yo'd treat
me like a sister."

"A sister," Shorty exploded internally. "Think of a feller's havin' a
sister like that. Why, I wouldn't throw her in a soap-grease barrel."

"Who was this friend. Madam?" said Si, "and where is his letter?"

"I don't know whether to give it to yo' or not," said she. "Y're not the
men at all that he ascribed to me. He said yo' wuz very good-lookin',
perlite gentlemen, who couldn't do too much for a lady."

"Sorry we're not as handsome as you expected," said Si; "but mebbe
that's because we're in fatigue uniforms. You ought to see my partner
there when he's fixed up for parade. He's purtier'n a red wagon then.
Let me see the letter. I can tell then whether we're the men or not."

"Kin yo' read?" she asked suspiciously.

"O, yes," answered Si laughingly at the thought almost universal in
the South that reading and writing were--like the Gift of Tongues--a
special{182} dispensation to a few favored individuals only. "I can read
and do lots o' things that common people can't. I'm seventh son of a
seventh son, born with a caul on my head at the time o' the full moon.
Let me see the letter."

She was not more than half convinced, but unhooked her dress and took a
note from her bosom, which she stuck out toward Si, holding tightly on
to one end in the meanwhile. Si read, in Levi Rosenbaum's flourishing,
ornate handwriting:

     "Corporal Josiah Klegg, Co. Q, 200th Indiana Volunteers,
     in Camp on Duck River."

"That means me," said Si, taking hold of the end of the envelope. "There
ain't but one 200th Injianny Volunteers; there's no other Co. Q, and I'm
the only Josiah Klegg."

The woman still held on to the other end of the letter.

"It comes," continued Si, "from a man a little under medium size,
with black hair and eyes, dresses well, talks fast, and speaks a Dutch
brogue."

"That's him," said the woman, relinquishing the letter, and taking a
seat under the shade of a young cucumber tree, where she proceeded to
fill her pipe, while awaiting the reading of the missive.

Si stepped off a little ways, and Shorty looked over his shoulder as he
opened the letter and read:

     "Dear Boys: This will be handed you, if it reaches you at
     all, by Mrs. Bolster, who has more about her than you
     think."{183}

"I don't know about that," muttered Shorty; "the last time I had the
pleasure o' meetin' the lady she had 'steen dozen bottles o' head-bust
about her."

     "She's a Confederate, as far as she goes."

Si continued reading,

     "which is not very far. She don't go but a little ways. A
     jay-bird that did not have any more brains would not build
     much of a nest. But she is very useful to me, and I want you
     to get in with her. As soon as you read this I want Si to
     give her that pair of horn combs I gave him. Do it at once.
     Sincerely your friend,

     "Levi Rosenbaum."

Si knit his brows in perplexity and wonderment over this strange
message. He looked at Shorty, but Shorty's face was as blank of
explanation as his own. He fumbled around in his blouse pocket, drew
forth the combs, and handed them to the woman. Her dull face lighted
up visibly. She examined the combs carefully, as if fitting them to a
description, and, reaching in her bosom, pulled out another letter and
handed it to Si.

When this was opened Si read:

     "Dear Boys: Now you will understand the comb business. I
     wanted to make sure that my letter reached the right men,
     and the combs were the only things I could think of at the
     moment. Mrs. B. will prize them, though she will never think
     of using them, either on herself or one of her shock-headed
     brats. I want you to play it on her as far as your
     consciences will allow. Pretend that you are awful sick of
     this Abolition war, and tired fighting for the nigger, and
     all that stuff. Make her the happiest{184} woman in
     Tennessee by giving her all the coffee you can spare. That
     will fetch her quicker and surer than anything else. Like
     most Southern women, she is a coffee-drinker first and a
     rebel afterward, and if some preacher would tell her that
     heaven is a place where she will get all the Yankee coffee
     she can drink, she would go to church regularly for the rest
     of her life. Tell her a lot of news--as much of it true as
     you can and think best; as much of it otherwise as you can
     invent. Follow her cautiously when she leaves camp. Don't
     let her see you do so. You will find that she will lead you
     to a nest of spies, and the place where all the whisky is
     furnished to sell in camp. I write you thus freely because I
     am certain that this will get in your hands. I know that
     your regiment is out here, because I have been watching it
     for a week, with reference to its being attacked. It won't
     be for at least awhile, for there's another hen on. But make
     up to the old lady as much as your consciences and stomachs
     will allow you. It will be for the best interests of the
     service.

     "Sincerely your friend, Levi Rosenbaum."

"I wonder what game Levi is up to?" Si said, as he stood with the letter
in his hand and looked at the woman. "I'll give her all the coffee I can
and be very civil to her, but that's as far as I'll go. The old rebel
cat. I'll not lie to her for 40 Levi Rosenbaums."

"Well, I will," said Shorty. "You fix her up with the coffee, and leave
the rest to me. I always had a fancy for queer animals, and run off from
home once to travel with a menagerie. I'd like to take her up{185} North
and start a side-show with her. 'The Queen o' the Raccoon Mountains,' or
the 'Champion Snuff-Dipper o' the Sequatchie Valley.' How'd that do for
a sign?"

"Well, go ahead," said Si. "But expect no help from me."

"Mr. Klegg, when I want your help in courtin' a lady I'll let you know,"
said Shorty with dignity. Si went back to the tent to see about
getting the coffee, and Shorty approached Mrs. Bolster with an engaging
expression on his countenance. She was knocking the ashes out of her
pipe.

"Let me fill your pipe up again. Madam, with something very choice,"
said he, pulling out a plug of bright natural leaf. "Here's some
terbacker the like o' which you never see in all your born days. It was
raised from seed stole from the private stock of the High-muk-a-muk o'
Turkey, brung acrost the ocean in a silver terbacker box for the use
o' President Buchanan, and planted in the new o' the moon on a piece
o' ground that never before had raised nothin' but roses and
sweet-williams. My oldest brother, who is a Senator from Oshkosh, got
just one plug of it, which he divided with me."

"O, my! is that true?" she gurgled.

"It's as true as that you are a remarkably fine lookin' woman," he said
with unblushing countenance, as he began whittling off some of the
tobacco to fill her pipe. "I was struck by your appearance as soon as I
saw you. I always was very fond of the Southern ladies."

"Sakes alive, air y'?" she asked; "then what air yo'uns down here
foutin' we'uns fur?"{186}

"That's a long story, m'm," answered Shorty. "It was a trick o' the
Abolition politicians that got us into it. I'm awful sick o' the war
(that we hain't gone ahead and knocked the heads offen this whole crowd
instead o' layin' 'round here in camp for months)" he added as a mental
reservation, "and wisht I was out of it (after we've hung Jeff Davis on
a sour-apple tree). Then I might settle down here and marry some nice
woman. You're a widder, I believe you said."

"Yes, I'm a widder," she answered, taking her pipe from her mouth and
giving him what she intended for a languishing smile, but which Shorty
afterward said reminded him of a sun-crack in a mud fence. "Yes, I'm
a widder. Bin so for gwine on six months. Sakes alive, but ye do
talk nice. You air the best-lookin' Yankee I've ever seed." "Nothin'
painfully bashful about her," thought Shorty. "But I must be careful not
to let her get me near a Justice of the Peace. She'd marry me before I
could ketch my breath. Madam," he continued aloud.

"Yo' may call me Sophrony," she said, with another cavernous smile.

"Well, Sophrony, let me present you with half o' this plug o' famous
terbacker." He drew his jackknife and sliced the plug in two. "Take it,
with my warmest respects. Here comes my partner with some coffee I've
sent him for, and which I want you to have. It is not as much as I'd
like to give you, but it's all that I have. Some other day you shall
have much more."

"Law's sakes." she bubbled, as the fragrant odor{187} of the coffee
reached her nose, and she hefted the package. "Yo' air jest the nicest
man I ever did see in all my born days. I didn't s'pose thar wuz so nice
a man, or sich a good-lookin' one, in the hull Yankee army, or in
the oonfederit either, fur that matter. But, then, yo' ain't no real
blue-bellied Yankee."

"No, indeed, Sophrony. I never saw New England in all my life, nor did
any o' my people. They wuz from Virginny (about 500 miles, as near as I
kin calculate)" he added to himself as a mental poultice.

"Say, Mister, why don't you leave the Yankee army?"

"Can't," said Shorty, despairingly. "If I tried to git back home the
Provos 'll ketch me. If I go the other way the rebel's ketch me. I'm
betwixt the devil and the deep sea."

She sat and smoked for several minutes in semblance of deep thought,
and spat with careful aim at one after another of the prominent weeds
around. Then she said:

"If yo' want t' splice with me, I kin take keer o' yo'. I've helped run
off several o' the boys who wuz sick o' this Abolition war. Thar's
two o' them now with Bill Phillips's gang makin' it hot for the Yankee
trains and camps. They're makin' more'n they ever did soljerin', an'
havin' a much better time, for they take whatever they want, no matter
who it belongs to. D' yo' know Groundhog, a teamster? He's in cahoots
with us."

"Oh!" said Shorty to himself. "Here's another lay altogether. Guess it's
my duty to work it for all that it's worth."{188}

"Is it a bargain?" she said suddenly, stretching out her long, skinny
hand.

"Sophrony," said Shorty, taking her hand, "this is so sudden. I never
thought o' marryin'--at least till this cruel war is over. I don't know
what kind of a husband I'd make. I don't know whether I could fill the
place o' your late husband!"

"Yo're not gwine t' sneak out," she said, with a fierce flash in her
gray eyes. "If yo' do I'll have yo' pizened."

"Now, who's talkin' about backin' out?" said Shorty in a fever of
placation, for he was afraid that some of the other boys would overhear
the conversation. "Don't talk so loud. Come, let's walk on toward your
home. We kin talk on the way."

The proposition appeared reasonable. She took the bridle of her horse
in her arm, and together they walked out through the guard-line. The
sentries gave Shorty a deep, knowing wink as he passed. He went the more
willingly, as he was anxious to find out more about the woman, and the
operations of the gang with which she was connected. She had already
said enough to explain several mysterious things of recent occurrence.
Night came down and as her ungainliness was not thrust upon him as it
was in the broad glare of day, he felt less difficulty in professing
a deep attachment for her. He even took her hand. On her part she grew
more open and communicative at every step, and Shorty had no difficulty
in understanding that there was gathered around her a gang that was
practicing about everything detrimental to the army. They were by turns
spies, robbers, murderers, whisky{189} smugglers, horse-thieves, and
anything else that promised a benefit to themselves. Ostensibly they
were rebels, but this did not prevent their preying upon the rebels when
occasion offered. Some were deserters from the rebel army, some were
evading the conscript laws, two or three were deserters from our army.

Shorty and the woman had reached a point nearly a half-mile outside of
the guard-line when he stopped and said:

"I can't go no farther now. I must go back." "Why must yo' go back?" she
demanded, with a{190} sudden angry suspicion. "I thought yo' wuz gwine
right along with me."

"Why, no. I never thought o' that. I must go back and get my things
before I go with you," said Shorty, as the readiest way of putting her
off.

"Plague take y'r things," she said. "Let 'em go. Yo' kin git plenty more
jest as good from the next Yankee camp. Yo' slip back some night with
the boys an' git yo'r own things, if y'r so dratted stuck on 'em. Come
along now."

She took hold of his wrist with a grip like iron. Shorty had no idea
that a woman could have such strength.

"I want to go back and git my partner," said Shorty. "Me and him 've bin
together all the time we've bin in the army. He'll go along with me,
I'm sure. Me and him thinks alike on everything, and what one starts the
other jines in. I want to go back an' git him."

"I don't like that partner o' your'n. I don't want him. I'll be a better
partner t' yo' than ever he was. Yo' mustn't think more o' him than yo'
do o' me."

"Look here, Sophrony," said Shorty desperately, "I cannot an' will
not go with you to-night. I'm expectin' important letters from home
to-morrow, and I must go back an' git 'em. I've a thousand things to
do before I go away. Have some sense. This thing's bin sprung on me so
suddenly that it ketches me unawares."

With the quickness of a flash she whipped out a long knife from
somewhere, and raised it, and then hesitated a second.

[Illustration: SHE WHIPPED OUT A LONG KNIFE. 189]

"I believe yo're foolin' me, and if I wuz shore I'd{191} stick yo'. But
I'm gwine t' give yo' a chance. Yo' kin go back now, an' I'll come for
yo' ter-morrer. If you go back on me hit'll be a mouty sorry day for
yo'. Mind that now."

Shorty gallantly helped her mount, and then hurried back to camp.



CHAPTER XIV. SHORTY HAS AN ADVENTURE WITH SI

HE GOES OUT TO VISIT MRS. BOLSTER.

SHORTY sauntered thoughtfully back to the tent, and on the way decided
to tell Si the whole occurrence, not even omitting the deceit practiced.

He had to admit to himself that he was unaccountably shaken up by the
affair.

Si was so deeply interested in the revelations that he forgot to blame
Shorty's double-dealing.

"Never had my nerve so strained before," Shorty frankly admitted. "At
their best, women are curiouser than transmogrified hullaloos, and when
a real cute one sets out to hornswoggle a man he might as well lay down
and give right up, for he hain't no earthly show. She gits away with him
every time, and one to spare. That there woman's got the devil in her
bigger'n a sheep, and she come nigher makin' putty o' your Uncle Ephraim
than I ever dreamed of before. It makes me shivery to think about it."

"I don't care if she's more devils in her than the Gadarene swine, she
must be stopped at once," said Si, his patriotic zeal flaming up. "She's
doin' more mischief than a whole regiment o' rebels, and must be busted
immediately. We've got to stop{193} her."

"But just how are we goin' to stop her?" Shorty asked. There was a weak
unreadiness in Shorty's tones that made Si look at him in surprise.
Never before, in any emergency, had there been the slightest shade of
such a thing in his bold, self-reliant partner's voice.

"I'd rather tackle any two men there are in the Southern Confederacy
than that woman," said Shorty. "I believe she put a spell on me."

"Le's go up and talk to Capt. McGillicuddy about it," said Si.
Ordinarily, this was the last thing that either of them would have
thought of doing. Their usual disposition was to go ahead and settle the
problem before them in their own way, and report about it afterward. But
Shorty was clearly demoralized.

Capt. McGillicuddy listened very gravely to their story.

"Evidently that old hen has a nest of bad, dangerous men, which has to
be broken up," he said. "We can get the whole raft if we go about it in
the right way, but we've got to be mighty smart in dealing with them,
or they'll fly the coop, and leave the laugh on us. You say she's coming
back to-morrow?"

"Yes," said Shorty, with a perceptible shiver.

"Well, I want you to fall right in with all her plans--both of you.
Pretend to be anxious to desert, or anything else that she may propose.
Go back home with her. I shall watch you carefully, but without seeming
to, and follow you with a squad big enough to take care of anything that
may be out there. Go back to your tent now, and think it{194} all over,
and arrange some signal to let me know when you want me to jump the
outfit."

The boys went back to their tent, and spent an hour in anxious
consideration of their plans. Si saw the opportunity to render a great
service, and was eager to perform it, but he firmly refused to tell
any lies to the woman or those around her. He would not say that he was
tired of the service and wanted to desert; he would not pretend liking
for the Southern Confederacy or the rebels, nor hatred to his own
people. He would do nothing but go along, share all the dangers with
Shorty, and be ready at the moment to co-operate in breaking up the
gang.

"Some folks's so durned straight that they lean over backwards," said
Shorty impatiently. "What in thunder does it amount to what you tell
these onery gallinippers? They'll lie to you as fast as a hoss kin trot.
There's no devilment they won't do, and there kin be nothin' wrong in
anything you kin do and say to them."

"Everybody settles some things for himself," said the unchangeable Si.
"I believe them folks are as bad as they kin be made. I believe every
one o' 'em ought to be killed, and if it wuz orders to kill 'em I'd kill
without turnin' a hair. But I jest simply won't lie to nobody, I don't
care who he is. I'll stand by you until the last drop; you kin tell 'em
what you please, but I won't tell 'em nothin', except that they're a
pizen gang, and ought t've bin roastin' in brimstone long ago."

"But," expostulated Shorty, "if you only go along with me you're actin'
a lie. If you go out o' camp with mo you'll pretend to bo desertin' and
j'inin' in{195} with 'em. Seems to me that's jest as bad as tellin' a
lie straight out."

"Well," said the immovable Si, "I draw the line there. I'll go along
with you, and they kin think what they like. But if I say anything to
'em, they'll git it mighty straight."

"Well, I don't know but, after all, we kin better arrange it that way,"
said Shorty, after he had thought it over in silence for some time. "I'm
sure that if you'd talk you'd give us dead away. That clumsy basswood
tongue o' your'n hain't any suppleness, and you'd be sure to blurt out
something that'd jest ruin us. An idee occurs to me. You jest go along,
look sour and say nothin'. I'll tell 'em you ketched cold the other
night and lost your speech. It'll give me a turn o' extra dooty talkin'
for two, but I guess I kin do it."

"All right," agreed Si. "Let it go that way."

"Now, look here, Si," said Shorty, in a low, mysterious tone, "I'm goin'
to tell you somethin' that I hadn't intended to. I'm scared to death
lest that old hag'll git the drop on me some way and marry me right out
of hand. I tell you, she jest frightens the life out o' me. That worries
me more'n all the rest put together. I expect I ought t 'v' told you so
at the very first."

"Nonsense," said Si contemptuously. "The idee o' you're being afeared o'
such a thing."

"It's all very well for you to snort and laugh, Si Klegg," persisted
Shorty. "You don't know her. I sneered at her, too, at first, but when
I was left alone with her she seemed to mesmerize me. I found myself
talkin' about marryin' her before I knowed{196} it, and the next thing
I was on the p'int o' actually marryin' her. I believe that if she'd got
me to walk a half-mile further with her she'd a run me up agin a Justice
o' the Peace and married me in spite of all that I could do. I'd much
ruther have my head blowed off than married to that old catamount.

"Bah, you can't marry folks unless both are willin'," insisted Si. "A
man can't have a marriage rung in on him willy-nilly."

"There's just where you're shootin' off your mouth without any sense.
You don't know what you're talkin' about. Men are lassoed every day and
married to women that they'd run away from like a dog from a porcupine,
if they could. You jest look around among the married folks you know,
and see how many there are that wouldn't have married one another if
they'd bin in their senses."

"Well, I don't think o' many," said Si, whose remembrances were that the
people in Posey County seemed generally well-mated.

"Well, there mayn't be many, but there's some, and I don't propose to
be one of 'em. There's some spell or witchcraft about it. I've read in
books about things that gave a woman power to marry any man she wanted
to, and he couldn't help himself. That woman's got something o' that
kind, and she's set her eye on me. I'm goin' to meet her, and I want to
help break up her gang, but I'd a great deal rather tackle old Bragg and
his entire army. I want you to stay right by me every minnit, and keep
your eye on me when she's near me."{197}

"All right," said Si sleepily, as he crawled into bed.

The next morning, as they were discussing the question of signals, they
happened to pass the Sutler's, and Si caught a glimpse of packages of
firecrackers, which the regimental purveyor had, for some inscrutable
reason, thought he might sell. An idea occurred to Si, and he bought a
couple of packages, and stowed them away in his blouse pocket and told
the Captain that their firing would be the signal, unless a musket-shot
should come first.

It was yet early in the forenoon as they walked on the less-frequented
side of the camp. Shorty gave a start, and gasped:

"Jewhilikins, there she is already."

Si looked, and saw Mrs. Bolster striding toward them. Shorty hung back
instinctively for an instant, and then braced up and bade her good
morning.

She grunted an acknowledgment, and said rather imperiously:

"Y're a-gwine, air yo'?"

"Certainly," answered Shorty.

"And yo'?" she inquired, looking at Si.

"He's a-goin', too," answered Shorty. "Mustn't expect him to talk. He's
short on tongue this mornin'. Ketched a bad cold night before last.
Settled on his word-mill. Unjinted his clapper. Can't speak a word.
Doctor says it will last several days. Not a great affliction. Couldn't
've lost anything o' less account."

"Must've bin an orful cold," said she, taking her pipe from her mouth
and eyeing Si suspiciously.{198}

"Never knowed a cold to shut off any one's gab afore. Seems t' me that
hit makes people talk more. But these Yankees air different. Whar air
yer things? Did yo' bring plenty o' coffee?'

"We've got 'em hid down here in the brush," said Shorty. "We'll git 'em
when we're ready to start."

"We're ready now," she answered. "Come along."

"But we hain't no passes," objected Shorty. "We must go to the Captain
and git passes."

"Yo' won't need no passes," she said impatiently. "Foller me."

Shorty had expected to make the pretext about the passes serve for
informing Capt. McGillicuddy of the presence of the woman in the camp.
He looked quickly around and saw the Captain sauntering carelessly at a
little distance, so that any notification was unnecessary. He turned and
followed Mrs. Bolster's long strides, with Si bringing up the rear.

They went to the clump of brush where they had hidden their haversacks
and guns. Mrs. Bolster eagerly examined the precious package of coffee.

"I'll take keer o' this myself," she said, stowing it away about her
lanky person. "I can't afford to take no resks as to hit."

Si and Shorty had thought themselves very familiar with the campground,
but they were astonished to find themselves led outside the line
without passing under the eye of a single guard. Si looked at Shorty in
amazement, and Shorty remarked:

"Well, I'll be durned."

The woman noticed and understood. "Yo' Yanks,"{199} she said scornfully,
"think yourselves moughty smart with all your book-larnin', and yo'uns
put on heaps o' airs over po' folks what hain't no eddication; but what
you don't know about Tennessee woods would make a bigger book than ever
was printed."

"I believe you," said Shorty fervently. His superstition in regard to
her was rapidly augmenting to that point where he believed her capable
of anything. He was alarmed a'bout Capt. McGillicuddy's being able to
follow their mysterious movements. But they soon came to the road, and
looking back from the top of a hill, Shorty's heart lightened as he saw
a squad moving out which he was confident was led by Capt. McGillicuddy.

But little had been said so far. At a turn of the road they came upon a
gray-bearded man, wearing a battered silk hat and spectacles, whom Mrs.
Bolster greeted as "'Squire."

The word seemed to send all the blood from Shorty's face, and he looked
appealingly to Si as if the crisis had come.

The newcomer looked them over sharply and inquired:

"Who are these men, Mrs. Bolster?"

"They'uns 's all right. They'uns 's had enough o' Abolition doin's,
and hev come over whar they'uns allers rayly belonged. This one is a
partickler friend o' mine," and she leered at Shorty in a way that made
his blood run cold.

"Hain't yo' time t' stop a minute, 'Squire?" she asked appealingly, as
the newcomer turned his horse's head to renew his journey.{200}

"Not now; not now," answered the 'Squire, digging his heels into his
steed's side. "I want to talk t' yo' and these 'ere men 'bout what's
gwine on in the Lincoln camps, but I must hurry on now to meet Capt.
Solomon at the Winding Blades. I'll come over to your house this
evening," he called back.

"Don't fail, 'Squire," she answered, "fur I've got a little job for yo',
an' I want hit partickerly done this very evenin'. Hit can't wait."

"I'll be there without fail," he assured her.

"Capt. Solomon's the man what sent the letter to you," she explained,
which somewhat raised Shorty's depressed heart, for he began to have
hopes that Rosenbaum might rescue him if Capt. McGillicuddy should be
behind time.

As they jogged onward farther from camp Mrs. Bolster's saturnine
earnestness began to be succeeded by what were intended to be
demonstrations of playful affection for her future husband, whom she now
began to regard as securely hers. She would draw Shorty into the path
a little ahead of Si, and walk alongside of him, pinching his arm and
jabbering incoherent words which were meant for terms of endearment.
When the narrowness of the road made them walk in single file she would
come up from time to time alongside with cuffs intended for playful
love-taps.

At each of these Shorty would cast such a look of wretchedness at Si
that the latter had difficulty in preserving his steadfast silence and
rigidity of countenance.

But the woman's chief affection seemed to be called forth by the package
of coffee. She would{201} stop in the midst of any demonstration to pull
out the bag containing the fragrant berry, and lovingly inhale its odor.

It was long past noon when she announced: "Thar's my house right ahead."
She followed this up with a ringing whoopee, which made the tumbledown
cabin suddenly swarm with animation. A legion of loud-mouthed dogs
charged down toward the road. Children of various ages, but of no
variety in their rags and unkempt wildness, followed the dogs, or
perched upon the fence-corners and stumps, and three or four shambling,
evil-faced mountaineers lunged forward, guns in hand, with eyes fiercer
than the dogs, as they looked over the two armed soldiers.

"They'uns is all right, boys," exclaimed the woman. "They'uns 's plum
sick o' doggin' hit for Abe Lincoln an' quit."

"Let 'em gin up thar guns, then," said the foremost man, who had but
one eye, reaching for Shorty's musket. "I'll take this one. I've been
longin' for a good Yankee gun for a plum month to reach them Yankee
pickets on Duck River."

Though Shorty and Si had schooled themselves in the part they were
to play, the repugnant thought of giving up their arms to the rebels
threatened to overset everything. Instinctively they threw up their guns
to knock over the impudent guerrillas. The woman strode between them and
the others, and caught hold of their muskets.

"Don't be fools. Let 'em have your guns," she said, and she caught Si's
with such quick unexpectedness that she wrenched it from his grasp and
flung{202} it to the man who wanted Shorty's. She threw one arm around
Shorty's neck, with a hug so muscular that his breath failed, and she
wrenched his gun away. She kept this in her hand, however.

"Now, I want these 'ere men treated right," she announced to the others,
"and I'm a-gwine to have 'em treated right, or I'll bust somebody's
skillet. They'uns is my takings, and I'm a-gwine to have all the say
'bout 'em. I've never interfered with any Yankees any o' yo'uns have
brung in. Yo've done with them as you pleased, an' I'm a-gwine to do
with these jest as I please, and yo'uns that don't like hit kin jest
lump hit, that's all."

[Illustration: TAKE YOUR ARM FROM AROUND THAT YANK'S NECK 203]

"'Frony Bolster, I want yo' to take yo'r arms from around that Yank's
neck," said the man who had tried to take Shorty's gun. "I won't 'low
yo' to put yo'r arm 'round another man's neck as long's I'm alive to
stop it."

"Ye won't, Jeff Hackberry," she sneered. "Jealous, air ye? You've got no
bizniss o' bein'. Done tole ye 'long ago I'd never marry yo', so long
as I could find a man who has two good eyes and a 'spectable character.
I've done found him. Here he is, and 'Squire Corson 'll splice us
to-night."

How much of each of the emotions of jealousy, disappointment, hurt
vanity, and rebel antagonism went into the howl that Mr. Jeff Hackberry
set up at this announcement will never be known. He made a rush with
clenched fists at Shorty.

A better description could be given of the operations of the center of a
tornado than of the events of the next few minutes. Shorty and Hackberry
grappled fiercely. Mrs. Bolster mixed in to stop the fight and save
Shorty. Si and the other three rebels flung themselves into the
whirlpool of strikes, kicks, and grapples. The delighted children
came rushing in, and eagerly joined the fray, striking with charming
impartiality at every opportunity to get a lick in anywhere on anybody;
and finally the legion of dogs, to whom such scenes seemed familiar and
gladsome, rushed in with an ear-splitting clamor, and jumped and bit at
the arms and legs that went flying around.{204 }

This was too violent to last long. Everybody and everything had to stop
from sheer exhaustion. But when the stop came Mrs. Bolster was sitting
on the prostrate form of Jeff Hackberry. The others were disentangling
themselves from one another, the children and the dogs, and apparently
trying to get themselves into relation with the points of the compass
and understand what had been happening.

"Have yo' had enough, Jeff Hackberry," inquired Mrs. Bolster, "or will
yo' obleege me to gouge yer other eye out afore yo' come to yer senses?"

"Le' me up, 'Frony," pleaded the man, "an' then we kin talk this thing
over."



CHAPTER XV. SHORTY NEARLY GOT MARRIED

BREAKING UP A BAD REBEL NEST IS NO PICNIC.

WHEN physical exhaustion called a halt in the fracas, Mrs. Bolster was
seated on Jeff Hackberry's breast with her sinewy hands clutching his
long hair, and her thumb, with a cruel, long nail, pressing the ball of
his one good eye. Shorty was holding down one of the guerrillas who had
tried to climb on his back when he was grappling with Hackberry. Si had
knocked one guerrilla senseless with his gun-barrel, and now came to a
breathless standstill in a struggle with another for the possession
of his gun. The children and dogs had broken up into several smaller
stormcenters, in each of which a vicious fight was going on. In some
it was dog and dog; in some child and child, and in others dogs and
children mixed.

Then they all halted to observe the outcome of the discussion between
Mrs. Bolster and Jeff Hackberry.

"Holler 'nuff, Jeff, or out goes yer last light," commanded Mrs.
Bolster, emphasizing her words by rising a little, and then settling
down on Jeff's breast with a force that drove near every spoonful of
breath out of him.

"'Frony, le' me up," he begged in gasps.{206}

"Mrs. Bolster," she reminded him, with another jounce upon his chest.

"Mrs. Bolster, le' me up. I'd 'a' got away with that 'ere Yank ef ye'
hedn't tripped me with them long legs o' your'n."

"I'm right smart on the trip, aint I," she grinned. "I never seed a man
yit that I couldn't throw in any sort of a rastle."

"Le' me up, Mrs. Bolster, an le's begin over agin, an' yo' keep out,"
begged Hackberry.

"Not much I won't. I ain't that kind of a chicken," she asserted with
another jounce. "When I down a man I down him fer good, an' he never
gits up agin 'till he caves entirely. If I let yo' up, will yo' swar to
quite down peaceable as a lamb, an' make the rest do the same?"

"Never," asserted Hackberry. "I'm ergwine to have it out with that
Yank."

"No you haint," she replied with a still more emphatic jounce that made
Hackberry use all the breath left him to groan.

"I'll quit," he said, with his next instalment of atmosphere.

"Will yo' agree t' let me marry this Yank, an' t' give me away as my
oldest friend, nearest o' kin, an' best man?" she inquired, rising
sufficiently to let him take in a full breath and give a free, unforced
answer.

"Nary a time," he shrieked. "I'll die fust, afore I'll 'low yo' t' marry
ary other man but me."

"Then you'll lose yor blinker, yo' pigheaded, likker-guzzling', ornery,
no-account sand-hill crane," she said, viciously coming down on his
chest with{207} her full weight and sticking the point of hei nail
against his eye. "I wouldn't marry yo' if ye wuz the last nubbin' in
the Lord A'mighty's crib, and thar'd never be another crap o' men. Ye'll
never git no chance to make me yer slave, and beat me and starve me t'
death as yo' did Nance Brill. I ain't gwine t' fool with yer pervarsity
nary a minnit longer. Say this instant whether yo'll do as I say with a
freewill and good heart, or out goes yer peeper." "I promise," groaned
Jeff.{208 }

"Yo' sw'ar hit?" she demanded.

"Yes, I sw'ar hit," answered Jeff.

Mrs. Bolster rose, and confirmed the contract by giving him a kick in
the side with her heavy brogan.

"That's jest a lovetap," she remarked, "'t let yo' know t' le' me alone
hereafter. Now, le's straighten things around here fer a pleasant time."

She initiated her proposed era of good feeling by a sounding kick in the
ribs of the most obstreperous of the dogs, and a slap on the face of a
12-year-old girl, who was the noisest and most pugnacious of the lot.
Each of these set up a howl, but there was a general acquiescence in her
assertion of authority.

[Illustration: JEFF SAT UP AND RUBBED HIMSELF 208]

Jeff Hackberry sat up, scratched and rubbed himself, seemed to be
trying to once more get a full supply of air in his lungs, and turned
a one-eyed glare on his surroundings. The guerrilla whom Si had knocked
down began to show signs of returning consciousness, but no one paid any
attention to him. One of the other two pulled out a piece of tobacco,
split it in two, put the bigger half in his mouth and handed the
remainder to his partner. Both began chewing meditatively and looking
with vacant eyes for the next act in the drama. Shorty regained his gun,
and he and Si looked inquiringly at one another and the mistress of the
ranch.

"Come on up t' the house," she said, starting in that direction. The
rest followed, with Si and Shorty in the lead.

The boys gazed around them with strong curiosity. The interior was like
that of the other log cabins they had seen--a rough puncheon floor for
the single room, a fireplace as big as a barn door, built of rough{209}
stones, with a hearth of undressed flat stones, upon which sat a few
clumsy cooking utensils of heavy cast-iron, three-legged stools for
chairs, a table of rough whip-sawed boards held together by wooden pins.
In two of the corners were beds made of a layer of poles resting upon a
stick supported at one end upon a log in the wall and at the other end
a forked stick driven between the puncheons into the ground below.
Upon this was a pile of beech leaves doing duty as a mattress. The
bed-clothes were a mass of ragged fabrics, sheepskins, etc., used in the
daytime for saddle-blankets and at night upon the bed. There had been
added to them, however, looking particularly good and rich in contrast
with their squalor, several blankets with "U. S." marked upon them.
Around the room were canteens, shoes, and other soldier belongings.

"Have they killed and robbed the men to whom these belonged, or merely
traded whisky for them?" was the thought that instantly flashed through
Si's and Shorty's minds. The answer seemed to be favorable to murder and
robbery. "Set down an' make yourselves at home. I'll git yo' out suthin'
t' wet yer whistles," said Mrs. Bolster, wreathing as much graciousness
as she could into her weathered-wood countenance. She apparently kicked
at the same instant a stool toward them with her left foot, and a dog
out of the way with her right, a performance that excited Shorty's
admiration.

"When I see a woman kick in different directions with both feet at the
same time, I understood how dangerous her trip would be in a rastle," he
said afterward.{210}

Si and Shorty shoved two of the stools so that they could sit with their
backs to the wall, still holding their guns.

The guerrillas came filing in, with an expectant look on their faces.
Even Jeff Hackberry looked more thirstily longing than wrathful. The man
who had fallen under Si's gunbarrel had gotten able to walk, was
rubbing his head and moaning with the design of attracting attention and
sympathy.

Mrs. Bolster produced a key from her pocket. The others understood what
this meant. They lifted aside some sacks of meal and shelled corn, and
revealed a puncheon which had been cut in two, and the short piece was
garnished by rude iron hinges and hasp, all probably taken from some
burned barn. The hasp was locked into the staple by one of the heavy
padlocks customary on the plantations, and this Mr. Bolster proceeded
to open with her key. When the puncheon was turned up it revealed a pit
beneath, from which she lifted a large jug of whisky. She poured some
out in a tin cup and handed it to Shorty.

"Take a big swig," she said; "hit's mouty good stuff--ole Jeff
Thompson's brewin' from yaller corn raised on rich bottom land."

Si trembled as he saw his partner take the cup. Shorty smelled it
appreciatively. "That is good stuff," he said. "Roses ain't nowhere
alongside."

He put the cup to his lips and took a sip.

"Tastes as good as it smells," he said, heartily, while the mouths of
the guerrillas were watering. He put the cup again to his lips, as if
to take a deep draft. Then came a short cough and a tremendous{211}
sputter, followed by more painful coughing and strangling.

"Jest my infernal luck," gasped Shorty. "I would talk, an' I got some
down the wrong way.

"Lord, it's burnin' my lights out. Gi' me a drink o' water, somebody."

One of the children handed him a gourdful of water, while he continued
to cough and sputter and blame himself for talking when he was drinking.

The woman handed the cup to Si, who feared that the liquor might be
poisoned or drugged. He made a pretense of drinking, and then handed the
cup back, making motions that his throat was so sore that he could not
drink much. Mrs. Bolster looked at him suspiciously, but the clamor of
the guerillas distracted her attention, and she turned to supply them.

"No, Jeff Hackberry," she said firmly, "yo' can't have more'n two
fingers. I know yo' of old, an' jest how much yo' orter tote. Two
fingers'll make yo' comfortable an' sociable; three'll raise the devil
in yo,' an' four'll make yo' dancin' drunk, when yo'll have t' be held
down. Yo'll have jest two fingers, an' not a drap more."

"Jest another finger, 'Frony. Remember, yo've bin orful rough on me, an'
I need more. I'll promise t' be good," pleaded Hackberry.

"No, not a drap more'n two fingers now. If yo' behave yo'self I'll give
yo' another two fingers by-an'-by."

"Hackberry swallowed his portion at a thirsty gulp and sat down on the
door-sill to let it do its invigorating work. The other two guerrillas
were{212} given each two fingers, and the man whom Si knocked down
had his moanings rewarded by three fingers and a liberal application in
addition to the wound on his head, which he declared was much relieved
by it.

"Set your guns up agin the wall an' ack nacherul," commanded Mrs.
Bolster. "Nobody's a-gwine to hurt yo'. The 'Squire'll be here soon,
we'll git spliced, an' have a good time all around."

The noisy barking of the dogs announced the approach of someone.

"Lord, I hope that's 'Squire Corson," said Mrs. Bolster, running eagerly
to the door. "If hit's him, we kin go right ahead with the weddin'."

"If that's the 'Squire," said Shorty, in a low whisper, without turning
his head, "we'll grab our guns and fight to the death. We may clean out
this gang."

Si's attention had been in the meanwhile attracted to some boxes
concealed under the beds, and his curiosity was aroused as to what such
unusual things in a cabin might contain.

"No; hit's Capt. Sol. Simmons," said she in a tone of disappointment
mixed with active displeasure. "Now, he'll be cavortin' and tearin'
around, and wantin' t' kill somebody. I wish he wuz whar hit's a good
deal hotter."

She came over to where the boys were sitting, and said in a low tone:

"This man's allers makin' trouble, an' he's bad from his boots up.
Keep a stiff upper lip, both on yo', an' we'll try t' manage him. Don't
weaken. Hit'll do no good. He'll be wuss'n ever then."{213}

Si and Shorty instinctively felt for the revolvers in their pockets.

The newcomer tied his horse to a sapling and strode into the house. The
guerrillas seemed rather more fearful than otherwise to see him, but met
him with manners that were ranged from respectful by Jeff Hackberry to
absolute servility by the others. He was a burly, black-bearded man,
wearing a fairly-good uniform of a rebel Captain. His face showed that
he was a bully, and a cruel one.

He acknowledged in an overbearing way the greetings of the others, and
called out imperiously:

"'Frony, gi' me a stiff dram o' yer best at wunst. My throat's drier'n a
lime-kiln. Bin ridin' all mornin'."

"Folks wantin' likker don't say must t' me, but will yo', an' please,"
she answered sulkily.

"'Must,' 'please,' yo' hag," he said savagely. "Talk that a-way to me.
I'll 'please' yo'. I've killed two Yankees this mornin', an' I'm not in
the humor to fool around with an old pennyroyal huzzy like yo'. Gi' me
some whisky at wunst, or I'll baste yo'."

If ever Mrs. Bolster had been favorably disposed to him, she could not
endure to have him treat her this way before Shorty. She would assert
herself before him if ever.

She put her arms akimbo and retorted vigorously:

"Nary drap o' likker yo'll git from me, Sol. Simmons. Go and git yer
likker whar y're welcome. Y're not welcome here. I don't keer if yo'
have killed two Yankees or 20 Yankees. Y're allers talkin' about killin'
Yankees, but nobody never sees none that y've killed. I'm a better
Confederit than yo'{214} ever dared be. I'm doin' more for the Southern
Confedrisy. Y're allers a-blowin' while I'm allers adoin.' Everybody
knows that. Talk about the two Yankees y've killed, an' which nobody's
seed, here I've brung two Yankees right outen their camps, an' have 'em
to show. More'n that, they're gwine to jine we'uns."

She indicated the two boys with a wave of her hand. Simmons seemed to
see them for the first time.

"Yankees here, an' yo' haint killed 'em," he yelled. He put his hand to
his revolver and stepped forward. The two boys jumped up and snatched
their guns, but before another move could be made Mrs. Bolster's
unfailing trip brought Simmons heavily to the floor, with his revolver
half out the holster. In an instant she sat down heavily upon him, and
laid her brawny hand upon his pistol. The dogs and children gathered
around in joyous expectation of a renewal of general hostilities. But
the dogs broke away at the scent or sight of someone approaching.

"Mebbe that's 'Squire Corson,'" said Mrs. Bolster with a renewed flush
of pleasant anticipation.

Instead, a rather, good-looking young rebel officer wearing a Major's
silver stars dismounted from his horse and, followed by two men, entered
the cabin.

"Hello, Simmons," said the Major in a tone of strong rebuke as soon as
he entered. "What in the world are you doing here? Is this the way you
carry out the General's orders? You're at your old tricks again. You
were sent out here early this morning, to capture or drive away
that Yankee picket at Raccoon Ford, so as to let Capt. Gillen come
through{215} with his pack-mules. I expected to meet him here and go
on with him. Your men have been waiting at the crossroads for you since
daylight, while you've been loitering around the rear. I ought to
have you shot, and you would be if I reported this to the General. You
skulking whelp, you ought to be shot. But I'll give you one more chance.
It may not be too late yet. Break for your place as fast as you can, and
take these whelps with you. I'll wait here till sundown for you. If you
don't report back to me by that time you'd better make your will. Jump
now."

Mrs. Bolster had let go of Simmons as this exordium proceeded, as she
felt that he was in good hands.

As they disappeared the Major turned to Mrs. Bolster and inquired:

"Did Capt. Gillen get through with that quinine and guncaps?"

"They're thar," she said, pointing to the boxes under the beds.

"Very good. I've brought some men to take them away. We need them very
badly. Who are these men?"

Mrs. Bolster told her story about how they were tired of the Abolition
war, and had yielded to her persuasions to join the Southern army.

The Major looked them over sharply, and began a close cross-questioning
as to where they were born, what regiment they belonged to, how long
they had been in the service, what battles they had been engaged in and
on what part of the field, where their regiment now was, its brigade,
division and corps, commanders, etc., etc.{216}

As Shorty did not see any present occasion for lying, he had no trouble
in telling a convincing straightforward story. Si successfully worked
the loss-of-voice racket, and left the burden of conversation to his
partner.

The Major seemed satisfied, and said at the conclusion:

"Very good. I'll take you back with me when I return, and place you in a
good regiment."

This was a new and startling prospect, which was almost too much
for Shorty's self-control. For a minute he had wild thoughts of
assassinating the Major then and there, and making a run for life. But
he decided to wait a little longer and see what would develop.

If Mrs. Bolster's hue had permitted she would have turned pale at this
threatened loss of a husband and upsetting of all her plans. She merely
gulped down a lump in her throat and seemed to be thinking.

She became very attentive to the Major, and brought for his edification
a private bottle of fine old whisky. She set about preparing something
for them to eat.

Again the dogs barked, and in walked a man dressed in the fatigue
uniform of a Union soldier with the chevrons of a Sergeant. The boys
gave a start of surprise, and a great one when they saw on his cap:

           A
     200 Ind. Vols.

Si would have sprung up to greet him, but Shorty laid a restraining
hand, and whispered:{217}

"He don't belong to our regiment."

A second glance satisfied Si of this. While it is hardly possibly for a
man to know every other man in his regiment, yet in a little while there
comes something which enables him to know whether any man he meets does
or does not belong to his regiment.

The Major and Mrs. Bolster instantly recognized the newcomer.

"Awful glad to see you, Tuggers," said the Major, rising and shaking his
hand. "Did you get through without any trouble?"

"Not a bit o' trouble, thanks to you and Mrs. Bolster here. She got me
this uniform and this cap," said Tuggers, taking off the latter article
and scanning the lettering. "Rather more brass than I'm in the habit of
carrying on top of my head, no matter how much I have in my face. I got
your not giving me the positions of the Yankee regiments, for which I
suppose we must also thank Mrs. Bolster. I found them all correct. As
the 200th Ind. was the farthest out, I had no difficulty getting through
the rest of them by saying that I was on my way to my regiment. Of
course, I didn't come through the camp of the 200th Ind., but modestly
sought a byroad which Mrs. Bolster had put me onto. I've got a lot
of important letters from the mail in Nashville, among which are some
letters for the General, which I am told are highly important. I'm
mighty glad to be able to place them in your hands, and relieve myself
of the responsibility. Here they are. Thanks, I don't care if I do,
since you press me so hard,"{218} said he, without change of voice, as
he handed over the letters and picked up the bottle and tin cup.

"Excuse me, Tuggers, for not asking you before," said the Major. "I was
so interested in you and your letters I forgot for the moment that you
might be thirsty. Help yourself."

"I didn't forget it," said Tuggers, pouring out a liberal dram. "Here's
to our deserving selves and our glorious Cause."

A shy girl of about eight had responded to Si's persistent
encouragement, and sidled up to him, examining his buttons and
accouterments. Si gave her some buttons he had in his pocket, and showed
her his knife and other trinkets in his pockets. The other children
began to gather around, much interested in the elaborate dumb show he
was making of his inability to speak.

Again the dogs barked. Mrs. Bolster ran to the door. "Hit's 'Squire
Corson," she exclaimed joyously, and hustled around to make extra
preparations for his entertainment.

The 'Squire entered, mopping his face with his bandana, and moving with
the deliberation and dignity consistent with his official position.

He looked at the boys with a severe, judicial eye, and gave the ominous
little cough with which he was wont to precede sentences. But he
recognized the Major and Tuggers, and immediately his attention was
centered in them. They were connected with Army Headquarters; they were
repositories of news which he could spread among his constituents.
He greeted them effusively, and was only too glad to accept their
invitation to sit down and drink. But{219} he suggested, with official
prudence, that they go out in front and sit under a tree where they
could converse wore at liberty.

"Afore you go out, 'Squire," said Mrs. Bolster, with an attempt at
coyness, "I want yo' t' do a little job fer me."

Shorty's hair tried to stand on end.

"Jest wait a little, my good woman," said the 'Squire patronizingly. "I
want to talk to these gentlemen first; I kin 'tend to your matter any
time."

They lighted their pipes, and talked and talked, while Mrs. Bolster
fidgeted around in growing anxiety. Finally, as the sun was going down,
she could stand it no longer, and approached the group.

"'Squire," she said, "I'm orferly anxious to have a little job o' mine
done. 'Twon't take yo' five minits. Please 'tend to it right away."

"What is it she wants?" inquired the Major.

"I think she wants me to marry her to a Yankee deserter in there. She
whispered suthin' o' that kind to me awhile ago."

"That reminds me," said the Major; "I want you to swear those two men
into the service of the Southern Confederacy. You might as well do it
now, if you please, for I want to take them back with me and put them
into a regiment."

"That won't give much of a honeymoon to Mrs. Bolster," grinned the
'Squire.

"Well, we've all got to make sacrifices for the Cause," said the Major;
"her honeymoon'll be the sweeter for being postponed. I've had to
postpone mine."

"Well, bring the men out," said the 'Squire, pouring himself out another
drink.{220}

Si and Shorty had moved to the front door when Mrs. Bolster went out,
and could hear the whole conversation. They looked at one another. Their
faces were whiter than they had ever been on the field of battle.

"Take the oath of allegiance to the Southern Confederacy? Die right here
a hundred times," surged through both their hearts.

Si pulled the bunches of firecrackers from his pocket, undid them before
the children's wondering eyes. He went through a pantomime to tell them
to take a coal from the fire, run out back with them, and touch it to
the fuses.

"Take a coal, run back, and tech it to them strings," said Shorty,
forgetting himself in his excitement. "It'll be the greatest fun ye ever
saw."

"What's that y're sayin'?" said Mrs. Bolster.

"Jest talkin' to the children," said Shorty, seeing with relief the
children bolt out of the back door. He slipped his hand on his revolver,
determined to kill the 'Squire, the Major, and the other three men
before he would take a syllable of the oath.

"Come out here, men," said the Major authoritatively. Si slipped his
hand into his pocket, grasped his revolver, and walked forward very
slowly.

"Ahem," said the 'Squire, with an official cough. "Raise yer right
hands, and repeat these words after me, givin' your own names."

The other rebels took off their hats.

The dogs raised a clamor, which directed all eyes to the road. Sol
Simmons and the rest could be seen coming on a dead run.

"What does that mean?" said the Major anxiously.{221}

At the same instant there was a series of crashes behind the house;
the firecrackers were going off like a volley of rifle-shots. The Major
whirled around to see what that meant, and looked into the muzzle of
Shorty's revolver.

"Surrender, or I'll kill you," shouted Shorty desperately. "Don't stop a
minit. Throw up your hands, I tell you."

Si was making a similar demand on Tuggers, while the 'Squire was
standing, open-mouthed, with the first word of the oath apparently still
on his tongue.

The Major sprang at Shorty, whose bullet cut his hair. The next bullet
caught the officer in the shoulder, and he reeled and went down. Si was
not so fortunate with Tuggers, who succeeded in grappling him. Simmons
dashed by and struck Si, in passing, with his fist, which sent him to
the ground, with Tuggers on top.

The next minute the 'Squire, who was the only one who had any
opportunity to look, saw Yankees pop out of the brush and jump the
fences in a long, irregular line which immediately surrounded the
house. Capt. McGillicuddy cut down Simmons with his sword, and the rest
incontinently surrendered.

"We had got tired of waiting, and were on the point of dashing in,
anyhow, when we heard the firecrackers," said Capt. McGillicuddy, after
the prisoners had been secured and things quieted down. "That feller
that I cut down was out there with a squad and caught sight of us, and
started back this way, and I concluded to follow him up and jump the
house. Neither of you hurt, are you?"{222}

"Not hurt a mite," answered Shorty cheerfully, "but it's the closest
squeak I ever had. Wouldn't go through it agin for a pile o' greenbacks
big as a cornshock. Say, Cap., you've made a ten-strike today that ought
to make you a Major. That house's plum full o' contraband, and there's
a lot o' important letters there. But, say, Cap., I want you to either
kill that 'Squire or git him as fur away as possible. I ain't safe a
minnit as long as him and that woman's a-nigh me."



CHAPTER XVI. AN UNEXPECTED MARRIAGE

THE BOYS CAPTURE REBELS AND ADMINISTER THE OATH.

THE REBEL Major accepted the unexpected turn of events with soldierly
philosophy. Tuggers, captured in a blue uniform, saw the ignominious
fate of a spy loom up before his eyes. His face grew very white and set.
He sat down on a log, looked far away, and seemed oblivious to everything
around him.

Jeff Hackberry and Sol Simmons were frightened into nerveless terror,
and occasionally sighed and groaned audibly. Their men huddled together
like frightened sheep, and looked anxiously at every move of their
captors.

'Squire Corson had ventured two or three remarks in a judicial and
advisory way, but had been ordered by Capt. McGillicuddy to sit down and
keep quiet. He took a seat on a stump, pulled a large bandana out of
his beaver crowned hat, wiped his bald head, and anxiously surveyed the
scene as if looking for an opportunity when the power and dignity of the
State of Tennessee might be invoked to advantage.

Only Mrs. Bolster retained her aggressiveness and her tongue. If
anything, she seemed to be more savage and virulent than ever. She was
wild that she had been outwitted, and particularly by Si, whose fluent
speech had returned the moment the{224} firecrackers went oif. She
poured out volleys of scorching epithets on all the Yankees from
President Lincoln down to Corp'l Si Klegg, and fervently invoked for
them speedy death and eternal torment where the worm dieth not and the
fire is not quenched.

Capt. McGillicuddy rounded up his prisoners, took arms from those
who still retained them, had Si and Shorty do what they could toward
dressing the Major's wound, and then began an examination of the house.

He found abundant evidence of all that he, Si and Shorty had believed
of it. It was a rendezvous for spies, both great and small--both those,
like Mrs. Bolster, who infested our camps, and got news of whatever
was going on there, and those who operated on a larger scale, passing
directly from the Headquarters of the rebels to the Headquarters of
ours, and to the rear, and the sources of information at Nashville
and Louisville. It was an important station on the route for smuggling
gun-caps, quinine, medicines and other contraband from the North.
Quantities of these were there waiting to be forwarded. As the source of
the fighting whisky introduced into the camp of the 200th Ind. too much
was known of it to require any further information. And it was more than
probable that it was the scene of darker crimes--Union soldiers lured
thither under some pretext, murdered and robbed.

"How in the world am I going to break this infernal nest up?" said
Capt. McGillicuddy, with a puzzled air, after he had ordered the whisky
destroyed and the other things gotten in shape to send{225} back to
camp. "By rights, I ought to burn that house down, but that would leave
all these children without shelter. By the same token, I ought to shoot
or at least send off to prison that old she-catamount, but that would
mean starving the children to death. I declare, I don't know what to
do."

He had drawn apart a little with Si and Shorty, to whom he spoke
confidentially, while casting his eyes about him as if seeking some
solution of the problem.

"If you'll allow me. Captain," said Shorty, "I've an idee. Now that
we've got the trap, let's set it agin, and see if we can't ketch some
more."

"Splendid idea. Shorty," said the Captain, catching on at once.

"And my idee," said Shorty, emboldened by the reception of his first
suggestion, "is that you take all the company but me and Si and four or
fire of the boys back to camp, leavin' us here until to-morrow at least.
There'll probably some very interestin' men happen along here to-night,
not knowing what's happened, and we'll jest quietly yank 'em in."

"That's good," assented the Captain.

"In the meantime," continued Shorty, "you kin be considerin' what you'll
do with the house. It may be best to let it stand, and watch it. That's
a good way to do with a bee-tree or a woodchuck hole.

"I believe you are right. I'll do as you say. Si, you and Shorty pick
out as many men as you want to stay with you. I'll leave one of these
horses with you. If you should happen to need any more, mount one of
the boys and send him back for help. I'll come out with the whole
company."{226}

Shorty and Si consulted together for a few minutes, picked out their
men, gave their names to the Captain, and received his assent to the
selection. Then Shorty said:

"Captain, you don't want to take that old woman, the 'Squire and that
skunk they call Jeff Hackberry back to camp with you, do you? Leave 'em
here with us. I've got a little scheme."

"The old woman and the 'Squire you can take and welcome," answered the
Captain. "I'll be glad to have them oif my hands. But Hackberry is a
rebel soldier. I don't know about giving him up."

"Leave him with us, then. We'll turn him back to you all right, and the
old woman and the 'Squire, too, if you want 'em."

"No," said the Captain, with an impatient wave of his hand. "Keep them,
do what you please with them. If you should accidentally kill the old
woman I should not be unduly distressed. But don't let Hackberry get
away from you. I'll take the rest back to camp, and I must start at
once, for it's getting late, and we didn't bring any rations with us.
Do you suppose you can find enough around the house to keep you till
morning?"

"O, yes," said Si. "There's a sack of meal in there and some side-meat.
We gave the old woman a lot of coffee. We'll make out all right."

The prisoners had been watching the Captain and his men with greatest
anxiety. They now saw Si with his squad take the 'Squire. Mrs. Bolster
and Hackberry off to one side, while the Captain placed the remainder of
the prisoners in the center of his company and started back to camp with
them.{227}

There was something in this separation that terrified even Mrs. Bolster,
who stopped railing and began to look frightened.

"What are yo'uns goin' to do with we'uns?" she inquired hoarsely of Si.

"You'll find out soon enough," said Si significantly. "Set down there
on that log and think about what you deserve. You might put in any spare
time you have in doing some big repentin'."

Hackberry began to whine and beg for mercy, but Shorty ordered him to
keep silent.

"I want you to understand," said the 'Squire, "that I'm a regerlarly
elected and qualified Magistrate o' the State o' Tennessee; that I'm
not subjeck to military laws, and if any harm comes to me you'll have to
answer for it to the State o' Tennessee."

"Blast the State o' Tennessee," said Shorty contemptuously. "When we git
through there won't be no State o' Tennessee. It'll be roasting in the
same logheap with South Caroliny and Virginny, with Jeff Davis brilin'
in the middle."

"Boys," ordered Si, "a couple of you look around the house and see if
you can't find a mattock and shovel."

Terrible fears assailed the three unhappy prisoners at this. What could
a mattock and shovel be wanted for but to dig their graves?

Shorty stepped over a little distance to a large clump of "red-sticks."
These grow in long wands of brilliant red, as straight as a corn-stalk,
and slenderer. They are much used about the farms of the South for rods
for rough measurement. He cut one off about six feet long and stripped
off its leaves.{228}

The anxious eyes of the prisoners followed every movement.

Two of the boys appeared with an old mattock and shovel.

"Guess you'd better dig right over there," said Si, indicating a little
bare knoll.

"Nothin' else's ever bin planted there. At least nothin's ever come up.
The chances are agin their comin' up if we plant 'em there."

"Stand up," said Shorty, approaching Hackberry with the bright crimson
rod in his hand. "I'm goin' to measure you for a grass-green suit
that'll last you till Gabriel blows his horn."

Hackberry gave a howl of terror. The 'Squire and Mrs. Bolster began a
clamor of protests.

"Don't fuss," said Shorty calmly to them, as he took Hackberry's
dimensions. "I ain't goin' to show no partiality. I'll serve you both
the same way. Your turns 'll come after his'n."

The children, aware that something unusual was going on, yet unable to
comprehend what it was, stood silently around, their fingers in
their mouths and their vacant eyes fixed in the stolid stare of the
mountaineer youth. Even the dogs were quiet, and seemed watching the
scene with more understanding than the children.

Mrs. Bolster's mood suddenly changed from bitter vituperation. She
actually burst into tears, and began pleading for her life, and making
earnest promises as to better conduct in the future. The 'Squire and
Hackberry followed suit, and blubbered like schoolboys. Mrs. Bolster
reminded Si and Shorty how she had saved them from being killed by
the{229} fierce Hackberry and the still fiercer Simmons. This seemed
to move them. She tried a ghastly travesty of feminine blandishments by
telling Shorty how handsome she had thought him, and had fallen in
love with him at first sight. Shorty gave a grimace at this. He and Si
stepped back a little for consultation.

When they came back Shorty said oracularly:

"Our orders is strict, and we should've carried 'em out at once. But,
talkin' with my partner here, we're reminded o' somethin'. We believe
it's the law that when a man or woman is sentenced to death the
execution kin be put off if they kin find anybody to marry 'em. Is that
good law, 'Squire?"

"H-m-m," answered the Magistrate, resuming his judicial manner at once;
"that is a general belief, and I've heard o' some instances of it. But
before sayin' positively, I should like to examine the authorities an'
hear argument."

"Well, there hain't goin' to be no continuance in this case for you to
look up authorities and hear arguments," said Shorty decisively. "We're
the higher court in this case, and we decided that the law's good enough
for it. We've settled that if Mrs. Bolster 'll marry Hackberry, and
Hackberry 'll marry Mrs. Bolster, and you'll marry 'em both, we'll grant
a stay o' proceedings in the matter o' the execution o' the sentence o'
death until we kin be advised by the higher authorities."

"I'll do anything. Mister," blubbered Hackberry. "I'll marry her this
minnit. Say the words, 'Squire."

"I've said I'd rather die 10 times over than marry yo', Jeff Hackberry,"
murmured Mrs. Bolster. "I've{280} bin the wife o' one ornery snipe of a
whisky-sucking sand-digger, and when the Lord freed me from him I said
I'd never git yoked with another. But I s'pose I've got to live for my
children, though the Lord knows the yaller-headed brats hain't wuth hit.
They're everyone of 'em their dad over agin--all Bolsters, and not wuth
the powder to blow 'em to kingdom come. I'd a heap ruther marry
Jeff Hackberry to make sure o' havin' him shot than to save him from
shootin'."

"You hain't no choice, Madam," said Shorty severely. "Law and orders is
strict on that pint."

"Well, then," said she, "since hit's a ch'ice betwixt death and Jeff
Hackberry, I'll take Jeff Hackberry, though I wouldn't take him on no
other terms, and I'm afeared I'm makin' a mistake as hit is."

"What do you say, 'Squire?" asked Shorty.

"I've bin studyin' on jest whar I come in," answered the Magistrate.
"These two save their necks by marryin', but do you understand that the
law says that the Magistrate who marries 'em gits his neck saved?"

"The court is not clear on that as a p'int o' law," said Shorty; "but in
the present case it'll hold that the 'Squire who does the splicin'
gets as much of a rake-off as the rest. This is not to be considered a
precedent, however."

"All right," assented the 'Squire; "let the couple jine hands."

With an air of glad relief, Hackberry sprang up and put out his hand.
Mrs. Bolster came up more slowly and reluctantly grasped his hairy fist
in her{231} large, skinny hand. The 'Squire stood up before them in his
most impressive attitude.

"Hold on," suddenly called out Tom Welch, who was the "guard-house
lawyer" of Co. Q, and constantly drawing the "Regulations," the
"Tactics," and the "Constitution and Laws of the United States," in
which he was sharply proficient, upon the members of the regiment. "I
raise the point that the 'Squire can't officiate until he has taken the
oath of allegiance to the United States."

Si and Shorty looked at one another.

"That's a good point," said Si. "He's got to take the oath of
allegiance."

"Never," shouted the 'Squire, who had begun to recover his
self-confidence. "Never, as long as I live. I've sworn allegiance to the
Southern Confederacy, and won't take no other oath."

"Grave for one!" called out Shorty to the boys with the pick and shovel,
as if he were giving an order in a restaurant. "Full size, and hurry up
with it."

He picked up his measuring rod and started to take the 'Squire's
dimensions.

The 'Squire wilted at once. "I s'pose I've got to yield to force," he
muttered. "I'll take the oath."

"Who knows the oath?" inquired Si. "Do you, Tom?"

"Not exactly," replied Tom, non-plused for once. "But I know the oath
we took when mustered in. That ought to do. What's good enough for us is
good enough for him."

"Go ahead," ordered Si.

"We ought to have a Bible by rights," said Tom.{232}

"Where kin we find your Bible, Mrs. Bolster, asked Si.

"We'uns air done clean out o' Bibles," she said, rather shamefacedly.
"Thar hain't nary one in the house. I allers said we orter have a Bible.
Hit looked 'spectable to have one in the house. But Andy allers wanted
every cent to guzzle on."

"Here's a Testament. That'll do," said Tom, handing Si one which some of
the boys had about him. "Le's make 'em all take the oath while we're at
it."

"You'll all raise your right hands," said Si, opening the book. "Place
your left on this book, and repeat the words after that man there,
givin' your own names." Si was as solemn about it as he believed
everyone should be at such a ceremony. Hackberry and Mrs. Bolster were
not sure which were their right hands, but Si finally got them started,
and Tom Welch repeated slowly and impressively:

"You do solemnly swear to support the Constitution and laws of the
United States, and all laws made in pursuance thereof, against all
enemies and opposers whatsoever, whether foreign or domestic, and to
obey the orders of all officers duly appointed over you. So help you
God, and kiss this book."

"And to quit liquor selling, smuggling, spying and giving aid and
comfort to the enemy," added Shorty, and this was joined to the rest of
the oath.

"I ought to have added that they wash their faces once a day, and put
more shortenin' and fillin' in Mrs. Bolster's pies," said Shorty in
an undertone to{233} Si. "But I suppose we oughtn't to ask impossible
things."

"Now go ahead with the wedding ceremony," ordered Si.

Again the 'Squire commanded them to join hands, and after mumbling
over the fateful words, pronounced Thomas Jefferson Hackberry and Mrs.
Sophronia Bolster man and wife.

"Now," said Shorty, who felt at last fully insured against a great
danger, "I believe it's the law and custom for all the witnesses to
a weddin' to see the bride and bridegroom in bed together. You'll go
inside the house and take one of them beds, and after we've seen you
there we'll consider your cases further. You're all right, anyway, until
we hear from camp to-morrow."

Amid the grins of the rest the boys conducted the newly-weds into the
house.

He and Si brought out the sack of meal, a few cooking utensils, a side
of bacon, and the package of coffee, which they gave to the other boys
to get supper with. They closed the door behind them, excluding the
children and dogs, and left the pair to their own reflections.

"Gentlemen, what air you gwine to do with me?" asked the 'Squire. "I'd
powerful like to git on home, if you've no further use for me."

"We hain't decided what to do with you, you old fomenter o' rebellion,"
said Si. "We ought to shoot you for what you've done in stirring up
these men to fight us. We'll settle your case to-morrow. You'll stay
with us till then. We'll give you your{234} supper, and after awhile you
kin go in and sleep in that other bed, with the children."

The 'Squire gave a dismal groan at the prospect, which was lost on the
boys, who were very hungry and hurrying around helping to get supper.

They built a fine fire and cooked a bountiful meal, of which all,
including the 'Squire and children, partook heartily. A liberal portion,
with big cups of strong coffee, were sent into the bridal couple. As
bed-time drew near, they sent the 'Squire and the children into the
house, and divided themselves up into reliefs to watch during the night.



CHAPTER XVII. GATHERING INFORMATION

SI AND SHORTY WORK A TRAP AND LAND SOME PRISONERS.

THE boys were sitting around having another smoke before crawling into
their blankets, spread under the shade of the scraggly locusts and mangy
cedars, when the dogs raised an alarm.

"Get back under the shadow of the trees, boys, and keep quiet," said Si.

"Hello, the house!" came out of the darkness at the foot of the hill.

"Hello, thar' yourself," answered Shorty, imitating Mrs. Bolster's
voice.

"Hit's me--Brad Tingle. Don't yo' know my voice? Call off yer dogs.
They'll eat me up."

"Hullo, Brad; is that yo'? Whar'd yo' come from? Git out, thar, Watch!
Lay down, Tige! Begone, Bones! Come on up, Brad."

Shorty's imitations of Mrs. Bolster's voice and manner were so good as
to deceive even the dogs, who changed their attitude of shrill defiance
to one of fawning welcome.

"Whar'd yo' come from, Brad?" repeated Shorty as the newcomer made his
way up the narrow, stony path.

"Jest from the Yankee camps," answered the newcomer. "Me an' Jim Wyatt's
bin over thar by that{236} Hoosier camp tryin' to git the drop on their
Kurnel as he was gwine t' Brigade Headquarters. We a'most had him when
a company o' Yankees that'd bin out in the country for something
a'most run over us. They'uns wuz a-nigh on top o' we'uns afore we
seed they'uns, an' then we'uns had t' scatter. Jim run one way an' me
another. I come back here t' see ef yo' had any o' the boys here. I
hearn tell that a passel o' Yankee ossifers is at a dance over at the
Widder Brewster's an' I thought we'uns might done gether they'uns in ef
we'uns went about it right."

"So you kin--so you kin," said Shorty, reaching out from behind the
bushes and catching him by the collar. "And to show you how, I'll jest
gether you in."

A harsh, prolonged, sibilant, far-reaching hiss came from the door of
the cabin, but came too late to warn Brad Tingle of the trap into which
he was walking.

Shorty understood it at once. He jerked Tingle forward into Si's strong
clutch, and then walked toward the cabin, singing out angrily:

"Jeff Hackberry, I want you to make that wife o' your'n mind her own
bisness, and let other people's alone. You and her've got quite enough
to do to tend to your honeymoon, without mixing into things that don't
concern you. Take her back to bed and keep her there."

He went back to where Si was disarming and searching Tingle. The
prisoner had a United States musket, cartridge-box, canteen, and a new
haversack, all of which excited Shorty's ire.{237}

"You hound, you," he said, taking him by the throat with a fierce grasp,
"you've bin bushwhacking, and got these things off some soldier you
sneaked onto and killed. We ought to kill you right now, like we would a
dog."

"No, Mister, I haint killed nobody; I swar t' God I haint," gurgled the
prisoner, trying to release his throat from Shorty's grip.

"Where'd you git these things?" demanded Shorty.

"Mrs. Bolster gi' me the gun an' cartridge-box; I done found the canteen
in the road, an' the poke with the letters in hit the Yank had done laid
down beside him when he stopped t' git a drink, an' me an' Jim crep' up
on him an' ordered him to surrender. He jumped an' run, an' we wuz af
eared to shoot least we bring the rest o' the Yanks down onto us."

At the mention of letters Si began eagerly examining the contents of the
haversack. He held some of them down to the light of the fire, and then
exclaimed excitedly:

"Why, boys, this is our mail. It was Will Gobright they were after."

A sudden change came over Shorty. He took the prisoner by the back of
the neck and ran him up to the door of the house and flung him inside.
Then he hastened back to the fire and said:

"Le's see them letters."

A pine-knot had been thrown on the fire to make a bright blaze, by the
light of which Si was laboriously fumbling over the letters. Even by the
flaring, uncertain glare it could be seen that a ruddy hue came into
his face as he came across one with a gorgeous flag on one end of the
envelope, and directed in a{238} pinched, labored hand on straight lines
scratched by a pin. He tried to slip the letter unseen by the rest into
his blouse pocket, but fumbled it so badly that he dropped the rest in a
heap at the edge of the fire.

"Look out, Si," said Shorty crossly, and hastily snatching the letters
away from the fire. "You'll burn up somebody's letters, and then
there'll be no end o' trouble. You're clumsier'n a foundered horse. Your
fingers are all thumbs."

"Handle them yourself, if you think you kin do any better," said Si,
who, having got all that he wanted, lost interest in the rest. If Si's
fingers were all thumbs. Shorty's seemed all fists. Besides, his reading
of handwriting was about as laborious as climbing a ladder. He tackled
the lot bravely, though, and laboriously spelled out and guessed one
address after another, until suddenly his eye was glued on a postmark
that differed from the others. "Wis." first caught his glance, and he
turned the envelope around until he had spelled out "Bad Ax" as the rest
of the imprint. This was enough. Nobody else in the regiment got letters
from Bad Ax, Wis. He fumbled the letter into his blouse pocket, and in
turn dropped the rest at the edge of the fire, arousing protests from
the other boys.

"Well, if any o' you think you kin do better'n I kin, take 'em up. There
they are," said he. "You go over 'em, Tom Welch. I must look around a
little."

Shorty secretly caressed the precious envelope in his pocket with his
great, strong fingers, and pondered as to how he was going to get an
opportunity to read the letter before daylight. It was too
sacred{239} and too sweet to be opened and read before the eyes of his
unsympathetic, teasing comrades, and yet it seemed an eternity to wait
till morning. He stole a glance out of the corner of his eye at Si, who
was going through the same process, as he stood with abstracted air on
the other side of the fire. The sudden clamor of the dogs recalled them
to present duties.

"Hullo, the house!" came out of the darkness.

"Hullo, yourself!" replied Shorty, in Mrs. Bolster's tones.

"It's me--Groundhog. Call off yer dogs."

Si and Shorty looked startled, and exchanged significant glances.
"Needn't 've told it was him," said Shorty. "I could smell his breath
even this far. Hullo, Groundhog," he continued in loud tones. "Come
on up. Git out, Watch! Lay down, Tige! Begone, Bones! Come on up,
Groundhog. What's the news?"

A louder, longer, more penetrating hiss than ever sounded from the
house. Shorty looked around angrily. Si made a break for the door.

"No, I can't come up now," said Groundhog; "I jest come by to see if
things wuz all right. A company went out o' camp this mornin' for some
place that I couldn't find out. I couldn't git word t' you, an' I've bin
anxious 'bout whether it come this way."

"Never tetched us," answered Shorty, in perfect reproduction of Mrs.
Bolster's accents. "We'uns is all right."

The hissing from the cabin became so loud that it seemed impossible for
Groundhog not to hear it.{240}

"Blast it, Si, can't you gag that old guinea-hen," said Shorty, in a
savage undertone.

Si was in the meanwhile muttering all sorts of savage threats at Mrs.
Bolster, the least of which was to go in and choke the life out of her
if she did not stop her signalling.

"Glad t' hear it," said Groundhog. "I was a leetle skeery all day about
it, an' come out as soon's I could. Have yo' seed Brad Tingle?"

"Yes; seen him to-day."

"D' yo' know whar he is? Kin yo' git word to him quick?"

"Yes, indeed; right off."

"Well, send word to him as soon as you kin, that I've got the mules
ready for stampedin' an' runnin' off at any time, an' waitin' for him.
The sooner he kin jump the corral the better. To-night, if he kin, but
suttinly not later'n to-morrer night. Be sure and git word to him by
early to-morrer mornin' at the furthest."

"I'll be sure t' git word t' him this very night," answered the
fictitious Mrs. Bolster.

"Well, good-night. I must hurry along, an' git back afore the second
relief goes off. All my friends air on it. See yo' ter-morrer, if I
kin."

"You jest bet you'll see me to-morrow," said Shorty grimly, as he heard
Groundhog's mule clatter away. "If you don't see me the disappointment
'll come nigh breaking my heart. Now I'll go in and learn Mr. and Mrs.
Hackberry how to spend the first night o' their wedded lives."

"I don't keer ef yo' do shoot me. I'd a heap ruther be shot than not,"
she was saying to Si as Shorty{241} came up. "I've changed my mind
sence I've bin put in here. I'd a heap ruther die than live with Jeff
Hackberry."

"Never knowed married folks to git tired o' one another so soon,"
commented Shorty. "But I should've thought that Jeff' d got tired first.
But this it no time to fool around with fambly jars. Look here, Jeff
Hackberry, you must make that wife o' yourn keep quiet. If she tries to
give another signal we'll tie you up by the thumbs now, besides shoot
you in the mornin'."

"What kin I do with her?" whined Jeff.

"Do with her? You kin make her mind. That's your duty. You're the head
o' the fambly."

"Head o' the fambly?" groaned Jeff, in mournful sarcasm. "Mister, you
don't seem to be acquainted with 'Frony.

"Head o' the fambly," sneered his wife. "He aint the head o' nothin'.
Not the head o' a pin. He haint no more head'n a fishworm."

"Look here, woman," said Shorty, "didn't you promise to love, honor and
obey him?"

"No, I didn't nuther. I said I'd shove, hammer an' belay him. Hit's none
o' yer bizniss, nohow, yo' sneakin' Yankee' what I do to him. You hain't
no call t' mix betwixt him an' me. An' my mouth's my own. I'll use hit
jest as I please, in spite o' yo' an' him, an' 40 others like yo'. Hear
that?"

"Well, you git back into that bed, an' stay there, and don't you dare
give another signal, or I'll buck-and-gag you on your wedding-night."

"Don't you dar tetch me," she said menacingly.

"I aint goin' to tech you. I'm too careful what I{242} touch. But I'll
tie you to that bed and gag you, if you don't do as I say. Get back into
bed at once."

"I ain't gwine t', and yo' can't make me," she said defiantly.

"Take hold of her, Jeff," said Shorty, pulling out his bayonet and giving
that worthy a little prod.

Jeff hesitated until Shorty gave him a more earnest prod, when he
advanced toward his wife, but, as he attempted to lay his hands on her
shoulders, she caught him, gave him a quick twist and a trip, and down
he went; but he had clutched her to save himself from falling, and
brought her down with him. Shorty caught her elbows and called to Si to
bring him a piece of cord, with which he tied her arms. Another piece
bound her ankles. She lay on the floor and railed with all the vehemence
of her vicious tongue.

"Pick her up and lay her on the bed there," Shorty ordered Jeff. Jeff
found some difficulty in lifting the tall, bony frame, but Shorty gave
him a little help with the ponderous but agile feet, and the woman was
finally gotten on the bed.

"Now, we'll gag you next, if you make any more trouble," threatened
Shorty. "We don't allow no woman to interfere with military operations."

They had scarcely finished this when the dogs began barking again, and
Si and Shorty hurried out. The operations in the house had rather heated
them, the evening was warm, and Shorty had taken off his blouse and
drawn it up inside of his belt, in the rear.

The noise of the dogs betokened the approach of something more than
usual visitors. Through the clamor the boys' quick ears could detect
the clatter{243} of an ominous number of hoofs. The other boys heard it,
too, and were standing around, gun in hand, waiting developments.

"Hullo, dere, de house!" came in a voice Si and Shorty dimly recognized
having heard somewhere before.

"Hullo, yourself," answered Shorty. "Who air yo?"{243}

"I'm Capt. Littles," came back above the noise of barking. "Call off
your togs. I'm all righdt. Is it all right up dere?"

"Yes. Lay down. Watch! Git out, Tige!" Shorty started to answer, when he
was interrupted by the apparition of Mrs. Bolster-Hackberry flying out
of the door, and yelling at the top of her voice:

"No, hit ain't all right at all. Captain. The Yankees 've got us. Thar's
a right smart passel o' 'em here, with we'uns prisoners. Jump 'em, if
you' kin. If yo' can't, skeet out an' git enough t' down 'em an' git us
out."

Si and Shorty recognized that the time for words was passed. They
snatched up their guns and fired in the direction of the hail. The other
boys did the same. There was a patter of replying shots, aimed at the
fire around which they had been standing, but had moved away from.

Apparently, Capt. Littles thought the Yankees were in too great force
for him to attack, for his horses could be heard moving away. The boys
followed them with shots aimed at the sound. Si and Shorty ran down
forward a little ways, hoping to get a better sight. The rebels halted,
apparently{244} dis mounted, got behind a fence and began firing back at
intervals.

Si and Shorty fired from the point they had gained, and drew upon
themselves quite a storm of shots.

"Things look bad," said Si to Shorty. "They've halted there to hold us
while they send for reinforcements. We'd better go back to the boys and
get things in shape. Mebbe we'd better send back to camp for help."

"We'll wait till we find out more about 'em," said Shorty, as they moved
back. They had to cross the road, upon the white surface of which they
stood out in bold contrast and drew some shots which came uncomfortably
close.

The other boys, after a severe struggle, had caught Mrs.
Bolster-Hackberry and put her back in the cabin. After a brief
consultation, it was decided to hold their ground until daylight. They
could get into the cabin, and by using it as a fortification, stand off
a big crowd of enemies. The rest of the boys were sent inside to punch
out loop-holes between the logs, and make the place as defensible as
possible. Si and Shorty were to stay outside and observe.

"I've got an idee how to fix that old woman," said Shorty suddenly.

"Buck-and-gag her?" inquired Si.

"No; we'll go in there and chuck her down that hole where she kept her
whisky, and fasten the hasp in the staple."

"Good idee, if the hole will hold her."

"It's got to hold her. We can't have her{245} rampaging round during the
fight. I'd rather have a whole company o' rebels on my back."

They did not waste any words with the old woman, but despite her yells
and protests Si took hold of one shoulder Shorty the other, and forced
her down in the pit and closed the puncheon above her.

They went out again to reconnoiter. The enemy was quiet, apparently
waiting. Only one shot, fired in the direction of the fire, showed that
they were still there.

Shorty suddenly bethought him of his blouse, in the pocket of which was
the precious letter. He felt for it. It was gone. He was stunned.

"I remember, now," he said to himself, "it was working out as I ran, and
it slipped down as I climbed the fence."

He said aloud:

"Si, I've lost my blouse. I dropped it down there jest before we crossed
the road. I'm goin' to get it."

"Blast the blouse," said Si; "let it be till mornin'. You need something
worse'n a blouse to-night. You'll ketch a bullet sure's you're alive if
you try to go acrost that road agin. They rake it."

"I don't care if they do," said Shorty desperately. "I'd go down there
if a battery raked it. There's a letter in the pocket that I must have."

Si instinctively felt for the letter in his own pocket. "Very well," he
said, "if you feel as if you must go I'll go along."

"No, you sha'n't. You stay here in command; it's your duty. You can't
help if you do go. I'll go alone. I'll tell you what you might do,
though. You might go over there to the left and fire on 'em, as if{246}
we wuz feelin' around that way. That'll draw some o' their attention."

Si did as suggested.

Shorty crept back to the point they had before occupied. The rebels saw
him coming over a httle knoll, and fired at him. He ran for the fence.
He looked over at the road, and thought he saw the blouse lying in the
ditch on the opposite side. He sprang over the fence and ran across the
road. The rebels had anticipated this and sent a volley into the road.
One bullet struck a small stone, which flew up and smote Shorty's cheek
so sharply that he reeled. But he went on across, picked up the blouse,
found the dear letter, and deliberately stopped in the road until he
transferred it to the breast of his shirt. Then he sprang back over
the fence, and stopped there a moment to rest. He could hear the rebel
Captain talking to his men, and every moment the accents of the voice
became more familiar.

"Don't vaste your shods," he was saying. "Don'd vire undil you sees
somedings to shood ad, unt den vire to hid. See how many shods you haf
alretty vired mitout doing no goot. You must dink dat ammunition's as
blenty as vater in de Southern Confederacy. If you hat as much druble as
I haf to ket cartridges you vould pe more garcful of dem."

Capt. Littles was Rosenbaum, the Jew spy, masquerading in a new role.
Shorty's heart leaped. Instantly he thought of a way to let Rosenbaum
know whom he had run up against.

"Corporal Si Klogg!" he called out in his loudest tones.

"What is it, Shorty?" answered the wondering Si.{247}

"Don't let any more o' the boys shoot over there to the left. That's the
way Capt. McGillicuddy's a-comin' in with Co. Q. I think I kin see him
now jest raisin' the hill. Yes, I'm sure it's him."

The next instant he heard the rebel Captain saying to his men:

"Boys, dey're goming up in our rear. Dey're de men ve saw a liddle vhile
ago. De only vay is to mount unt make a rush past de house. All mount
unt vollow me as vast as dey gan."

There was a gallop of horsemen up the road, and they passed by like the
wind, while Si and Shorty fired as fast as they could load--Shorty over
their heads. Si at the noise. Just opposite the house the Captain's
horse stumbled, and his rider went over his head into a bank of weeds.
The rest swept on, not heeding the mishap.

"Surrender, Levi," said Shorty, running up.

"Certainly, my tear poy," said Rosenbaum. "Anyding dat you vant. How
are you, any vay? Say, dat vas a nead drick, vasn't it? Haf your horse
sdumble unt trow you jest ad de righd dime unt place? It dook me a long
dime to deach my horse dot. I'm mighty glat to see you."

{248}



CHAPTER XVIII. THE JEW SPY AGAIN

MR. ROSENBAUM RECITES A THRILLING EXPERIENCE.

"HIST, boys, don't talk friendly to me out loud," said the prudent
Rosenbaum. "What's happened? I know you have got the house. I have been
expecting for a long time that there would be a raid made upon it. What
the devil is that saying you have: 'It's a long worm that don't have a
turn.' No; that isn't it. 'It's an ill lane that blows nobody no good.'
No; that's not it, neither. Well, anyway, Mrs. Sophronia unt her crowd
got entirely too bold. They played too open, unt I knew they'd soon get
ketched. Who did you get in the house?"

Si started to call over the names, and to recite the circumstances, but
as he reached that of Brad Tingle, Rosenbaum clutched him by the arm and
said earnestly:

"Hold on. Tell me the rest after a while. I'm afraid of that man. He's
come pretty near getting on to me several times already. He's listening
now, unt he'll be sure to suspect something if he don't hear you
treating me as you did the others. Begin swearing at me as you did at
the rest."

Si instantly took the hint.

"I'll stand no more foolishness," he called out{249} angrily. "If you
don't surrender at once I'll blow your rebel head off."

"I have to give up," Rosenbaum replied in an accent of pain, "for I
believe I broke my leg when I fell. I find I can't stand up."

"Give up your arms, then, and we'll help you up to the fire, and see how
badly you're hurt," said Si.

Rosenbaum gave groans of anguish as Si and Shorty picked him up and
carried him over to the fire.

"Now we're out of ear-shot o' the house," said Si, as they deposited him
on the opposite side, and somewhat behind a thicket of raspberries, "and
we can talk. Where did you come from this time, Levi?"

"Straight from General Bragg's Headquarters at Tullahoma, and I have
got information that will make General Rosecrans's heart jump for joy.
I have got the news he has been waiting for all these weeks to move
his army. I have got the number of Bragg's men, just where they are
stationed, and how many is at each place. I'm crazy to get to General
Rosecrans with the news. I have been cavorting around the country all
day trying some way to get in, unt at my wits' ent, for some of the men
with me had their suspicions of me, unt wouldn't have hesitated to shoot
me, if they didn't like the way I was acting. To tell the truth, it's
been getting pretty hot for me over there in the rebel lines. Too many
men have seen me in Yankee camps. This man. Brad Tingle, has seen me
twice at General Rosecrans's Headquarters, unt has told a lot of stories
that made much trouble. I think that this is the last{250} visit I'll
pay General Bragg. I'm fond of visiting, but it rather discourages me
to be so that I can't look at a limb running out from a tree without
thinking that it may be where they will hang me."

"Excuse me from any such visitin'," said Si sympathetically. "I'd much
rather stay at home. I've had 12 or 15 hours inside the enemy's lines,
playin' off deserter, and I've had enough to last me my three years.
I'll take any day o' the battle o' Stone River in preference. I ain't
built for the spy business in any shape or form. I'm plain, out-and-out
Wabash prairie style--everything above ground and in sight."

"Well, I'm different from you," said Shorty. "I own up that I'm awfully
fond o' a game o' hocuspocus with the rebels, and tryin' to see which
kin thimble-rig the other. It's mighty excitin' gamblin' when your own
head's the stake, an' beats poker an' faro all holler. But I want the
women ruled out o' the game. Never saw a game yit that a woman wouldn't
spile if she got her finger in."

"Mrs. Bolster came mighty near marrying him, and he's pale yet from the
scare," Si explained.

"Yes," said Shorty frankly. "You'll see I'm still while all around the
gills. Never wuz so rattled in my life. That woman's a witch. You could
only kill her by shooting her with a silver bullet. She put a spell
on me, sure's you're a foot high. Lord, wouldn't I like to be able to
manage her. I'd set her up with a faro-bank or a sweat-board, and she'd
win all the money in the army in a month."

"Yes, she's a terror," accorded Rosenbaum. "She{251} made up her mind
to marry me when I first come down here. I was awfully scared, for I was
sure she saw through me sharper than the men did, and would marry me or
expose me. But I got some points on her about poisoning a neighboring
woman that she hated unt was jealous of, unt then I played an immediate
order from General Bragg to me to report to his Headquarters. But it
took all the brains I had to keep her off me."

"She's safe now from marryin' anybody for awhile," said Shorty, and he
related the story of her nuptials, which amused Rosenbaum greatly.

"But you have signed Jeff Hackberry's death warrant," he said. "If he
tries to live with her she'll feed him wild parsnip, unt he'll get a
house of red clay, that you put the roof on with a shovel. It'll be no
great loss. Jeff ain't worth in a year the bread he'll eat in a day."

"She may be smothered in that hole," Shorty bethought himself. "I guess
we'd better let her out for awhile."

"Yes," said Rosenbaum. "She can't do no harm now. Nobody else will come
this way to-night. The men that were with me will scatter the news that
the house is in Yankee hands. They think there's a big force here, unt
so we won't be disturbed till morning."

"Then I'll go in and let her out," said Shorty.

The other inmates of the cabin were asleep when he entered, but they
waked up, and begged him not to let the woman out until morning.

"Keep her in there till daylight," said 'Squire Corson, "and then
restore me to my home and functions,{252} and I'll call out a posse
comitatus, and have her publicly ducked, according to the laws of the
land, as a common scold. I've never heard such vile language as she
applied to me when I gave her the advice it was my duty to give to live
in peace and quietness with her husband. That there woman's a Niagary of
cuss words and abuse."

"If yo' let her out, take me outside with yo'," begged Jeff Hackberry.
"She'll kill me, sho', if I've to stay in here till mornin' with her.
She begun by flingin' a bag o' red pepper in my face, and set us all to
sneezin' until I thought the 'Squire'd sneeze his durned head off. Then
she jobbed me with a bayonet, and acted as no woman orter act toward her
lawful husband, no matter how long they'd bin married, let alone their
weddin' night."

"Sorry, but it's agin all my principles to separate man and wife," said
Shorty, as he moved to the puncheon trap-door and undid the hasp. "You
took her for better or worse, and it's too early in the game to complain
that you found her a blamed sight worse than you took her for. You're
one now, you know, and must stay that way until death do you part."

Shorty lifted up the trap-door, and Si helped the woman out with some
difficulty. They expected a torrent of abuse, but she seemed limp and
silent, and sank down on the floor. The boys picked her up and laid her
on the bed beside Jeff Hackberry. "She's fainted; she's dead. She's bin
sufferkated in that hole," said Jeff.

"No, yo' punkin-headed fool," she gasped. "I hain't dead, nor I hain't
fainted, nor I hain't{253} sufferkated. Yo'll find out when I git my
wind back a little, I'm so full o' mad an' spite that I'm done tuckered
clean out. I'm clean beat, so clean beat that I hain't no words to fit
the 'casion. I've got t' lay still an' think an' gether up some."

"She's comin' to, Shorty," said Si. "It'll be pleasanter outside."

"You say you have been having unusually exciting times," said Si to
Rosenbaum, as the boys again seated themselves by the fire.

"Veil, I should say so," replied Rosenbaum with emphasis. "Do you know
that General Bragg is the very worst man that ever lived?"

"All rebels are bad," said Shorty oracularly. "But I suppose that some
are much worse than others. I know that the private soldiers are awful,
and I suppose the higher you go the wuss they are. The Corporals are
cussider than the privates, the Sergeants can give the Corporals points
in devilishness, and so it goes on up until the General commanding an
army must be one of the devil's favorite imps, while Jeff Davis is Old
Horney's junior partner."

"No; it isn't that," said Rosenbaum. "I've known a good many rebel
Generals, unt some of them ain't really bad fellers, outside of their
rebelness. But old Bragg is a born devil. He has no more heart than a
rattlesnake. He actually loves cruelty. He'd rather kill men than not.
I've seen plenty of officers who were entirely too willing to shoot
men for little or nothing. General Bragg is the only man I ever saw who
would shoot men for nothing at all--just 'for example,' as he says,
unt to make the others{254} afraid unt ready to obey him. He coolly
calculates to shoot so many every month. If they've done anything to
deserve it, all right. If they hain't, he shoots them all the same, just
to 'preserve discipline.'"

Si and Shorty uttered exclamations of surprise at this cold-blooded
cruelty.

"I know it's hard to believe," said Rosenbaum, "but it's true all the
same, as anybody around his Headquarters will tell you. Jeff Davis knows
it unt approves it. He is the same kind of a man as General Bragg--no
more heart than a tiger, I have seen a good deal of the inside of the
rebel army, unt General Bragg is the coldest-blooded, cruelest man in
it or in the whole world. It's true that the men he orders shot are
generally of no account, like our man Jeff Hackberry--but it's the
principle of the thing that shocks me. He just takes a dislike to the
way a man looks or acts, or the way he parts his hair, looks at him with
his steely-gray eyes, unt says coldly: 'Put him in the bull-pen.' In
the bullpen the poor devil goes, unt the next time General Bragg gets
an idea that the discipline of the army is running down, unt he must
stiffen it up with a few executions, he orders all the men that happen
to be in the bull-pen taken out unt shot."

"Without any trial, any court-martial, any evidence against them?"
gasped Si.

"Absolutely without anything but General Bragg's orders. It is like you
read of in the books about those Eastern countries where the Sultan or
other High-muk-a-muk says, 'Cut that man's head off,' unt the man's
head is cut off, unt no questions asked.{255} unt no funeral ceremonies
except washing up the blood."

"Lucky for you, Levi," said Shorty, "that he didn't have any of the
common prejudices against Jews, and slap you in the bull-pen."

"O, but he did," said Rosenbaum. "He hated a Jew worse than any man I
ever met. Unt it brought me so near death that I actually watched them
digging my grave.

"While I had my ups unt downs, unt some very narrow escapes," continued
Rosenbaum, "when I first went inside Bragg's lines, I got along very
well generally. I played the peddler unt smuggler for the Southern
Confederacy in great shape, unt run them through a lot of gun-caps,
quinine, medicines, unt so so on, unt brought in a great deal of
information which they found to be true. Some of dis General Rosecrans
gave me himself, for he is smart enough to know that if he wants his
Secret Service men to succeed he must give them straight goods to carry
to the enemy.

"I brought in exact statements of what divisions, brigades unt regiments
were at this place unt that place, how many men was in them, who their
commanders were, unt so on. General Rosecrans would have these given me.
It helped him in his plans to know just what information was reaching
the enemy, for he knew just how old Bragg would act when he had certain
knowledge. If he knew that Sheridan with 6,000 men was at this place,
with Tom Wood 10 miles away with 6,000 more, he would do a certain
thing, unt Rosecrans would provide for it. The news that I brought in
the rebels could test by{256 } the reports they got from others, unt
they always found mine correct.

"My work pleased the rebel Generals so well that they made me a Captain
in their army, transferred me from Brigade Headquarters to Division, unt
then to Corps Headquarters. I was given command of squads of scouts. I
can draw very well, unt I made good maps of the country unt the roads,
with the positions of Yankee unt rebel forces. This was something that
the other rebel spies could not do, unt it helped me lots. I was careful
to make copies of all these maps, unt they got to General Rosecrans's
Headquarters.

"The other rebel spies got very jealous of me because I was promoted
over them, unt they laid all sorts of plans to trip me up. They came
awful near catching me several times, but I was too smart for them, unt
could outwit them whenever I got a pointer as to what they were up to.
Once they watched me go to a hollow sycamore tree, which I used as a
postoffice for Jim Jones to get the things I wanted to send to General
Rosecrans. They found there maps I had made at Shelbyville, with the
positions of the rebel un Yankee forces unt the fortifications all
shown.

"That was an awful close call, unt I could feel the rope tightening
around my neck. But I kept my nerve, unt told a straight story. I said
that that tree was my regular office where I kept lots of things that I
was afraid to carry around with me when I was in danger of falling into
the Yankee hands, as I was every day when I was scouting. Luckily for me
I had some other private things unt a lot of{257} Confederate money hid
there, too, which I showed them. They didn't more than half believe my
story, but they led me off, probably because they needed me so bad.

"I saw that the thing was only skimmed over, unt was ready to break
out again any minute worse than ever, unt I kept my eyes peeled all the
time. That's one reason why you have not seen me for so long. I didn't
dare send General Rosecrans anything or go near outside the rebel lines.
I had to play very good, but I kept gathering up information for the day
when I should make a final break unt leave the rebels for good.

"A week ago I was ordered to go up to General Bragg's Headquarters to
help them with their maps unt reports. They had nobody there that could
do the work, unt Jeff Davis, who always wants to know everything about
the armies, was bunching them up savagely for full information. He
wanted accurate statements about the Yankee strength unt positions,
unt about the rebel strength unt positions, to see if he couldn't do
something to pull the Yankees off of Pemberton at Vicksburg. Bragg's
Adjutant-General sent word through all the army for to find good rapid
penmen unt map-makers, unt I was sent up.

"The Adjutant-General set me to work under a fly near Headquarters, unt
he was tickled almost to death with the way I did my work. Old Bragg
himself used to walk up unt down near, growling unt cussing unt swearing
at everything unt everybody. Once or twice the Adjutant-General called
his attention to my work. Old Bragg just looked it over, grunted, unt
bored me through unt through with{258 } those sharp, cold, gray eyes of
his. But I thought I was safe so long as I was at Headquarters, unt I
gave a great stiff to other Secret Service men who had been trying to
down me.

[Illustration: OLD BRAGG USED TO WALK UP UNT DOWN, GROWLING UNT CUSSING.
259]

"One morning old Bragg was in an awful temper--the worst I had ever
seen. Every word unt order was a cruelty to somebody. Finally, up comes
this Brad Tingle that you have inside. He is a sort of a half-spy--not
brains enough to be a real one, but with a good deal of courage unt
activity to do small work. He had been sent by General Cheatham to carry
some papers unt make a report. Whatever it was, it put old Bragg in a
worse temper than ever. Brad Tingle happened to catch sight of me, unt
he said in a surprised way:

"'Why, there's that Jew I saw sitting in General Rosecrans's tent
talking to him, when I was playing off refugee Tennesseean in the
Yankee camps.'

"'What's that? What's that, my man?' said old Bragg, who happened to
overhear him.

"Brad Tingle told all he knew about me. Old Bragg turned toward me unt
give me such a look. I could feel those cold, cruel eyes boring straight
through me.

"'Certainly he is a Jew, unt one of old Rosecrans's best spies,' he
said. 'Old Rosecrans is a Jew, a Dutch Jew, himself. I knowed him well
in the old army. He's got a regular Jew face. He plays off Catholic, but
that is to hide his Jewishness. He can't do it. That hook nose'd give
him away if nothing else did, unt he has got enough else. He likes to
have Jews about him, because he understands them better than he does
white people, unt{259} particularly he is fond of Jew spies. He can
trust them where nobody else can. They'll be true to him because he is a
Jew. Put that man in the bull-pen, unt shoot him with the rest to-morrow
morning.' "'Heavens,' gasped the Adjutant-General; 'he is{260} by far
the best man I ever had. I can't get along without him.'

"'You must get along without him,' said old Bragg. 'I'm astonished at
you having such a man around. Where in the world did you pick him up?
But it's just like you. How in God's name Jeff Davis expects me to
command an army with such makeshifts of staff officers as he sends me,
I don't know. He keeps the best for old Lee unt sends me what nobody
else'll have, unt then expects me to win battles against a better army
than the Army of the Potomac. I never got a staff officer that had
brains once.'

"A Sergeant of the Provost Guard, who was a natural beast, unt was kept
by old Bragg because he was glad to carry out orders to murder men,
caught hold of me by my shoulder unt run me down to the bull-pen,
leaving the Adjutant-General with forty expressions on his angry face.

"My goodness, my heart sunk worse than ever before when I heard the door
shut behind me. There were 30 or 40 others in the bull-pen. They were
all lying around--dull, stupid, sullen, silent, unt hopeless. They
hardly paid any attention to me. I sat down on a log, unt my heart
seemed to sink clear out of me. For the first time in my life I couldn't
see the slightest ray of hope. Through the cracks in the bull-pen I
could see the fresh graves of the men who had already been shot, unt
while I looked I saw a squad of niggers come out unt begin digging
the graves of those who were to be shot to-morrow. I could see rebel
soldiers unt officers passing by, stop unt look a moment at the graves,
shrug their{261} shoulders, unt go on. It froze my blood to think that
tomorrow they would be looking at my grave that way. After a while a
man came in unt gave each one of us a piece of cornbread unt meat. The
others ate theirs greedily, but I could not touch it. Night came on, unt
still I sat there. Suddenly the door opened, unt the Adjutant-General
came in with a man about my size and dressed something like me. As he
passed he caught hold of my arm in a sort of way that made me understand
to get up unt follow behind him, I did so at once without saying a word.
I walked behind him around the bull-pen until we came back to the door,
when the guard presented arms, unt he walked out, with me still behind
him, leaving the other man inside. After we had gone a little way he
stopped unt whispered to me:

"'The General had to go off in a hurry toward War Trace this afternoon.
He took the Provost-Sergeant unt part of his staff with him, but I had
to be left behind to finish up this work. I can't get anybody else to do
it but you. I'm going to take you over to a cabin, where you'll be out
of sight. I want you to rush that work through as fast as the Lord'll
let you. After you get it done you can go where you damned please, so
long as you don't let the General set eyes on you. I've saved your life,
unt I'm going to trust to your honor to play fair with me. Help me out,
do your work right, unt then never let me see you again.'

"Of course, I played fair. I asked no questions, you bet, about the poor
devil he had put in my place. I worked all that night unt all the next
day getting his papers in the best possible shape, unt in making{262}
copies of them for General Rosecrans, which I stuck behind the chimney
in the cabin. Along in the morning I heard the drums beating as the
men were marched out to witness the execution. It made my heart thump
a little, but I kept on scratching away with my pen for hfe unt death.
Then the drums stopped beating for a while, unt then they begun again.
Then I heard a volley that made me shiver all over. Then the drums beat
as the men were marched back to their camps. If I had had time to
think I should have fainted. Towards evening I had got everything in
first-class shape. The Adjutant-General came in. He looked over the
papers in a very satisfied way, folded them up, checked off from a list
a memorandum of the papers he had given me to copy unt compile, unt saw
that I had given them all back to him. Then he looked me straight in the
eye unt said:

"'Now, Jew, there's no use of my saying anything to you. You heard that
volley this morning, unt understood it. Never let me or the General
lay eyes on you again. You have done your part all right, unt I mine.
Good-by.'

"He took his papers unt walked out of the cabin. As soon as he was gone
I snatched the copies that I had hidden behind the chimney, stuck them
here unt there in my clothes, unt started for the outer lines.

"I made my way to a house where I knew I'd find some men who had scouted
with me before. I knew they might be suspicious of me, but I could get
them to go along by pretending to have orders from Headquarters for a
scout. I got to the house by morning, found some of them there, gathered
up some more{263} unt have been riding around all day, looking at the
Yankee lines, unt trying to find some way to get inside. I'm nearly dead
for sleep, but I must have these papers in General Rosecrans's hands
before I close my eyes."

"Your horse is all right, isn't he?" asked Shorty.

"Yes, I think so," answered Rosenbaum.

"Well, we have a good horse here. I'll mount him and go with you to
camp, leaving Si and the rest of the boys here. I can get back to them
by daylight."

So it was agreed upon.

Day was just breaking when Shorty came galloping back.

"Turn out, boys!" he shouted. "Pack up, and start back for camp as quick
as you kin. The whole army's on the move."

"What's happened, Shorty?" inquired Si, as they all roused themselves
and gathered around.

"Well," answered Shorty, rather swelling with the importance of that
which he had to communicate, "all I know is that we got into camp a
little after midnight, and went direct to Gen. Rosecrans's Headquarters.
Of course, the old man was up; I don't believe that old hook-nosed
duffer ever sleeps. He was awful glad to see Rosenbaum, and gave us
both great big horns o' whisky, which Rosenbaum certainly needed, if I
didn't, for he was dead tired, and almost flopped down after he handed
his papers to the General. But the General wanted him to stay awake,
and kept plying him with whisky whenever he would begin to sink, and, my
goodness, the questions he did put at that poor Jew.{264}

"I thought we knowed something o' the country out here around us, but,
Jerusalem, all that we know wouldn't make a primer to Rosecrans's Fifth
Reader. How were the bridges on this road? Where did that road lead to?
How deep was the water in this creek? How many rebels were out there?
Where was Bragg's cavalry? Where's his reserve artillery? And so on,
until I thought he'd run a seine through every water-hole in that Jew's
mind and dragged out the last minner in it. I never heard the sharpest
lawyer put a man through such a cross-examination.

"Rosenbaum was equal to everything asked him, but it seemed to me that
Gen. Rosecrans knowed a great deal more about what was inside the rebel
lines than Rosenbaum did. All this time they was goin' over the papers
that Rosenbaum brung, and Old Rosey seemed tickled to death to git 'em.
He told Rosenbaum he'd done the greatest day's work o' his life and made
his fortune.

"In the meantime the whole staff had waked up and gathered in the tents,
and while the General was pumpin' Rosenbaum he was sending orders
to this General and that General, and stirrin' things up from Dan to
Beersheba. Lord, you ought t've seen that army wake up. I wouldn't 've
missed it for a farm. Everything is on the move--right on the jump.
We're goin' for old Bragg for every cent we're worth, and we want to
git back to the regiment as quick as our leg'll carry us. Hustle around,
now."

"But what'er we goin' to do with our prisoners?" asked Si.

"Blast the prisoners!" answered Shorty with profane emphasis. "Let 'em
go to blue blazes, for all{265} that we care. We're after bigger game
than a handful o' measly pennyroyal sang-diggers. We hain't no time to
fool with polecats when we're huntin' bears. Go off and leave 'em here."

"That's all right," said Si, to whom an idea occurred. "Hustle around,
boys, but don't make no noise. We'll march off so quietly that they
won't know that we're gone, and it'll be lots o' fun thinking what
they'll do when they wake up and begin clapper-clawin' one another and
wonderin' what their fate'll be."


END BOOK THREE





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