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Title: A Rebellion in Dixie
Author: Castlemon, Harry
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: REPLACING THE NOTICE.]



                                   A

                           REBELLION IN DIXIE

                                   BY
                            HARRY CASTLEMON

          AUTHOR OF “THE GUNBOAT SERIES,” “THE HUNTER SERIES,”
                           “WAR SERIES,” ETC.



                              PHILADELPHIA
                         HENRY T. COATES & CO.
                                  1897



                          COPYRIGHT, 1897, BY
                         HENRY T. COATES & CO.

                               CONTENTS.

  CHAPTER                                                        PAGE

       I. IN REGARD TO THE REBELLION,                               5
      II. THE CONVENTION,                                          25
     III. “A WORD IN YOUR EAR,”                                    45
      IV. CARL BRINGS NEWS,                                        65
       V. CAPTURING A WAGON-TRAIN,                                 88
      VI. THE MARCH HOMEWARD,                                     109
     VII. BREAKING THE MULE,                                      129
    VIII. REBELS IN THE REAR,                                     152
      IX. A NIGHT EXPEDITION,                                     176
       X. CALE WANTS A MULE,                                      196
      XI. MR. DAWSON’S STRATEGY,                                  220
     XII. THE REBELS TAKE REVENGE,                                247
    XIII. CALE IN TROUBLE,                                        271
     XIV. LEON A PRISONER,                                        294
      XV. A FRIEND IN NEED,                                       315
     XVI. A FIGHT AND ITS RESULTS,                                338
    XVII. THE EVENTS OF A WEEK,                                   363
   XVIII. COLEMAN PROVES HIS HONESTY,                             384
     XIX. CONCLUSION,                                             407



                         A REBELLION IN DIXIE.



                               CHAPTER I.
                      IN REGARD TO THE REBELLION.


“Now, Leon, you will take in everybody. Don’t leave a single man out,
for we want them all there at this convention.”

“Secessionists, as well as Union men?”

“Yes, of course. I had a talk with Nathan Knight, last night, and he
says everybody must be informed of the fact. We are going to secede from
the State of Mississippi and get up a government of our own, and he
declares that everybody must be told of it.”

“I tell you, dad, we’ve got a mighty poor show. I suppose there are at
least two thousand fighting men here—”

“Say fifteen hundred; and they are all good shots, too.”

“And Jeff Davis has called out a hundred thousand men. Where would we be
if he would send that number of men after us?”

“He ain’t a-going to send no hundred thousand men after us. He has other
work for them to do, and when the few he does send come here in search
of us, he won’t find hide nor hair of a living man in the county.”

It was Mr. Sprague who spoke last, and his words were addressed to his
son Leon. They, both of them, stood leaning on their horses, and were
equipped for long rides in opposite directions. Just inside the gate was
a woman leaning upon it; but, although she was a Southerner, she did not
shed tears when she saw Leon and his father about to start on their
perilous ride. For she knew that every step of the way would be harassed
by danger, and if she saw either one of them after she bade them
good-bye it would all be owing to fortunate manœuvres on their part
rather than to any mismanagement on the part of the rebels. They were
both known as strong Union men, and no doubt there were some of their
neighbors who were determined that they should not fulfil their errand.
It would be an easy matter to shoot them down and throw their bodies
into the swamp, and no one would be the wiser for it.

Leon Sprague was sixteen years old, and had been a raftsman all his
life. He had but little education but much common sense, for schools
were something that did not hold a high place in Jones county. In fact
there had been but one school in the county since he could remember, and
some of the boys took charge of that, and conducted themselves in a
manner that drove the teacher away. Leon was a fine specimen of a boy,
as he stood there listening to his father’s instructions—tall beyond his
years, and straight as one of the numerous pines that he had so often
felled and rafted to Pascagoula bay. His countenance was frank and
open—no one ever thought of doubting Leon’s word—but just now there was
a scowl upon it as he listened to what his father had to say to him.

These people, the Spragues, were a little better off than most of those
who followed their occupation, owning a nice little farm, four negroes,
and a patch of timber-land from which they cut their logs and rafted
them down to tide-water to furnish the masts for ocean-going vessels.
His father and mother were simple-minded folks who thought they had
everything that was worth living for, and they did not want to see the
Government broken up on any pretext. The negro men worked the farm and
their wives were busy in the house, which they kept as neat as a new
pin. Just now the men had been butchering hogs in the woods, and were at
work making hams and bacon of them. These negroes did not have an
overseer—they did not know what it was. They went about their work
bright and early, and when Saturday afternoon came they posted off to
the nearest village to enjoy their half-holiday. They loved their master
and mistress, and if anybody had offered them their freedom they would
not have taken it.

In order that you may understand this story, boy reader, it is necessary
that you should know something of the character of the inhabitants, and
be able to bear in mind the nature of the country in which this
Rebellion in Dixie took place, for it was as much of a rebellion as that
in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Missouri, where men were shot
and hanged for not believing as their neighbors did, and their houses
were set on fire. They made up their minds at the start—as early as
1862—that they would not furnish any men for the Southern army; and,
furthermore, they took good care to see that there was no drafting done
in their county.

If you will take your atlas and turn to the map of Mississippi you will
find Jones county in the southeastern part of the State, and about
seventy-five miles north of Mobile, a port that was one of the last to
be captured by the United States army. It comprised nearly twenty
townships, the white population being 1482, a small chance, one would
think, for people to live as they did for almost two years. The land was
not fertile, “the entire region being made up of pine barrens and
swamps, traversed by winding creeks, bordered by almost impenetrable
thickets.” It was bounded on four sides by Jasper, Wayne, Perry and
Covington counties, which were all loyal to the Confederacy, and it
would seem that the people had undertaken an immense job to carry on a
rebellion here in the face of such surroundings. The inhabitants were,
almost to a man, opposed to the war. They were lumbermen, who earned a
precarious living by cutting the pine trees and rafting them to
tide-water, which at that time was found on Pascagoula bay. They had
everything that lumbermen could ask for, and they did not think that any
effort to cut themselves loose from the North would result in any glory
to them. They could not get any more for their timber than they were
getting now, and why should they consent to go into the army and fight
for principles that they knew nothing about?

Of course, this county was divided against itself, as every other county
was that laid claim to some Union and some Confederate inhabitants.
There were men among them who had their all invested there, and they did
not think these earnest people were pursuing the right course. These
were the secessionists, but they were very careful about what they said,
although they afterward found opportunities to put their ideas into
practice. When General Lowery was sent with a strong force to crush out
this rebellion he was met by a stubborn resistance, and some of these
Confederates, who were seen and recognized by their Union neighbors,
were afterward shot to pay them for the part they had carried out in
conducting the enemy to their place of retreat. Taken altogether, it was
such a thing as nobody had ever heard of before, but the way these
lumbermen went about it proclaimed what manner of men they were. It
seemed as if the Confederacy could run enough men in there to wipe out
the Jones County Republic before they could have time to organize their
army; but for all that the inhabitants were determined to go through
with it. They held many a long talk with one another when they met on
the road or in convention at Ellisville, and there wasn’t a man who was
in favor of joining the Confederacy, the secessionists wisely keeping
out of sight.

Things went on in this way for a year or more, during which the
lumbermen talked amazingly, but did nothing. Finally Fort Sumter was
fired upon, and afterward came the disastrous battle of Bull Run, and
then the Confederates began to gain a little courage. They knew the
South was going to whip, and these battles confirmed them in the belief;
but the raftsmen did not believe it. In 1862, when the Confederate
Congress passed the act of conscription, which compelled those liable to
do military duty to serve in the army, the lumbermen grew in earnest,
and a few of them got together in Ellisville and talked the matter over.
The market for their logs had long ago been broken up, and some of them
were beginning to feel the need of something to eat; and when one of
their number proposed, more as a joke than anything else, that they
should cast their fortunes with the Confederates, and so be able to go
down to tide-water and get some provisions, the motion was hooted down
in short order. There were not enough people there to hold a convention,
and so the matter was postponed, some of the wealthy ones who owned
horses being selected to ride about the county and inform every one that
the matter had gone far enough—that they were going to hold a meeting
and see what the lumbermen thought of taking the county out of the State
of Mississippi. Leon and his father were two of those chosen, and they
were just getting ready to start on their journey.

“I don’t know as I ought to send that boy out at all, Mary,” said Mr.
Sprague, when he arrived at home that night after the convention had
been decided upon. “I have never seen Leon in trouble and I don’t know
how he will act; but the boys down to Ellisville seemed determined to
let him go, and I never said a word about it.”

“I think you have seen Leon in trouble a half a dozen times,” said his
wife, who was prompt to side with her son. “The time that Tom Howe came
so near being smashed up with those logs down there in the bend—I guess
he was in trouble then, wasn’t he?”

“But that was with logs; it wasn’t with men,” said Mr. Sprague. “Yes,
Leon was pretty plucky that day, and when all the boys cheered him I
didn’t say a word, although I had an awkward feeling of pride around my
heart, I tell you.”

Leon and three or four other fellows of light build were frequently
called upon to start a jam of logs which had filled up the stream so
full that the timber could not move. A hasty glance at the jam would
show them the log that was to blame for it, and armed with an ax and
bare-footed the boys would leap upon the raft and go out to it. A few
hasty blows would start the jam, and the timber rushing by with the
speed of a lightning express train, the boys would make their way back
to the shore, jumping from one log to another. Sometimes they did not
get back without a ducking. On the occasion referred to Tom went out
alone, and after he had been there some minutes without starting the
jam, Leon was sent out to assist him. Two axes were better than one, and
in a few minutes the timber was started. It came with a rush, too, but
Tom was just a moment too late. The log upon which he had been chopping
shot up into the air fully twenty feet, and when it came down it struck
the log on which Tom was standing and soused him head over heels in the
water; but before he went he felt somebody’s around him. It was Leon
Sprague’s arm, for the latter struck the water almost as soon as he did.
Leon came up a moment afterward with Tom hanging limp and lifeless in
his arms, and heard the cheers of the “boys” ringing in his ears, but
had to go down again to escape the onward rush of the logs which were
coming toward him with almost railroad speed. By going down in this way
and swimming lustily whenever the logs were far enough away to admit of
it, Leon succeeded in landing about half a mile below, and hauling his
senseless burden out on the bank. Tom could swim—there were few boys on
the stream that could beat him at that—but when that log came down on
him it well nigh knocked it all out. Leon’s father never said a word. He
walked up and gave the boy’s hand a hearty shake, and that was the last
of it. Leon had the opportunity of knowing, as soon as Tom came to
himself, that he had made a life-long friend by his last half-hour’s
operations.

“Jeff Davis ain’t a going to send no hundred thousand men after us,”
repeated Mr. Sprague, preparing to mount his horse. “He’ll send a few in
here to break up this rebellion, and when they get here we’ll be in the
woods out of sight. Kiss your mother, Leon, and let’s go. We have got a
good ways to ride before night.”

“Now, Leon, be careful of yourself,” said his mother.

“You need have no fear of me,” said Leon, leaving his horse and going up
to the gate. “I’ve got my revolver in my pocket all handy.”

“But remember that when you are riding along the road somebody can
easily pick you off,” said Mrs. Sprague. “You know you are a Union boy.”

“Do you want me to make believe that I am--Confederate?”

“By no means. Stick to the Union. Good-bye.”

The farewells being said, father and son got upon their horses and rode
away in opposite directions. Leon rode a high-stepping horse—he was fond
of a good animal and he owned one of the very best in the county—but he
allowed him to wander at his own gait, knowing that the horse would be
tired enough when he returned home. As he rode along, thinking how
foolish the people were to consider seriously the proposal to withdraw
from the Union, he ran against a boy about his own age who, like
himself, was journeying on horseback. He was a boy he did not like to
see. He was awfully “stuck up,” and, furthermore, he was a rebel and did
not hesitate to have his opinions known.

“Hello, Leon,” exclaimed Carl Swayne, for that was the boy’s name.
“Where are you going this morning?”

“I am going around to see every man in this side of the county,” said
Leon. “We are going to get up a convention on the 13th, and we want
everybody there. The convention is going to be held at Ellisville.”

“By George! Has it come to that?” cried Carl, flourishing his
riding-whip in the air. “What do you think you are going to do after you
get to that convention?”

“We are going to dissolve the Union existing between this county and the
State of Mississippi.”

“Yes, I’ll bet you will. How long will it be before the Confederates
will send men in here to whip you out? You must think you can stand
against them.”

“I don’t think we can stand against anybody,” said Leon. “If the
Confederates come in here we shall go into the woods.”

“Well, it won’t take me long to show them where you are,” said Carl,
savagely. “I was talking with uncle about it last night, and he says you
haven’t got but a few fighting men here, and that it is utterly
preposterous for you to think of getting up a rebellion. I know one
thing about it: you will all be hanged.”

“And I know another thing about it,” said Leon. “When it comes we’ll be
in good company. Will you be down to our convention?”

“Not as anybody knows of,” replied Carl, with a laugh. “I’ll get
somebody up here to put a stop to it.”

“Well, I wouldn’t be too hasty about it. You may get hanged yourself.”

“Yes? I’d like to see the man living that can put a rope around my
neck,” exclaimed Carl, hotly. “I’ve got more friends in this county than
one would suppose. I’ll bet you wouldn’t be one of the first to do it.”

Leon picked up his reins and went on without answering this question. He
saw that Carl was in a fair way to pick a quarrel with him, and he had
no desire to keep up his end of it. Carl was hot-headed, and when he got
mad, was apt to do and say some things that any boy of his age ought to
have been ashamed of. He kept on down the road for a mile further, and
finally turned into a broad carriage-way that led up to a neat little
cottage that was surrounded by shade trees on all sides. This was the
house of Mr. Smith—a crusty old bachelor who had always taken a deep
interest in Leon. He was Union to the backbone, and if he could have had
his way he would have made short work with all such fellows as Carl
Swayne. He was sitting out on the porch indulging in a smoke.

“Hallo, Leon,” he cried, as soon as he found out who the new-comer was.
“Alight and hitch.”

“I can’t do it, Mr. Smith,” replied Leon. “I am bound to see every man
in this part of the county, and that, you know, is a good long ride. We
are going to hold a convention on the 13th, and we want you to come down
to it.”

“Whew!” whistled Mr. Smith. “You bet I’ll be there. What are you going
to do at that convention?”

Leon explained briefly, adding:

“I just now saw a fellow whom I asked to come down, and he positively
declined. He says he will get somebody to put a stop to it.”

“That’s Carl Swayne,” said Mr. Smith, in a tone of disgust. “Say! I will
give half my fortune if we can hang that fellow and his uncle to the
nearest tree. They have been preaching up secessionists’ doctrines here
till you can’t rest.”

“I think we can get the better of them after a while,” said Leon. “When
did you get back?” he added, for Mr. Smith had been down to tide-water
to see what was going on there. “Did you see or hear anything in
Mobile?”

“I got back last night. There is nothing in Mobile except
fortifications. I tell you it will require a big army to take that
place. By the way, Leon, I want to see you some time all by yourself.
Don’t let any one know you are coming here, but just come.”

“I’ll remember it, Mr. Smith. You won’t forget the convention? Good-by.”

“What in the world does the old fellow want to see me for?” soliloquized
Leon. “And why couldn’t he have told me to-day as well as any other
time? Well, it can’t be much, any way.”

Leon kept on his ride, and before night he was many miles from home. He
took in every house he came to, Union as well as secessionist, and while
the former greeted him cordially, the rebels had something to say to him
that fairly took his breath away. If he hadn’t been the most
even-tempered fellow in the world he would have got fighting mad. They
all agreed as to one thing: They were going to see Leon hanged for
carrying around the notice of that convention. His neighbors wouldn’t do
it, but there would be plenty of Confederates in there after a while
that would string the Union people up as fast as they could get to them.
Leon had no idea that there were so many secessionists in the county as
he found there when he came to ride through it, and he made up his mind
to one thing, and that was, it was going to be pretty hard work to carry
that county out of the State.

“But just wait until we get together and decide upon a constitution,”
said Leon, as he rode along with his hands in his pockets and his eyes
fastened upon the horn of his saddle. “Jeff Davis has long ago ordered
all Union men out of the Confederacy, and what is there to hinder us
from ordering all these rebels out? That’s an idea, and I will speak to
father about it.”

Leon did not care to spend all night with such people as these, and so
he kept on until he found a family whose sentiments agreed with his own,
and there he laid by until morning. The head of this household had but
recently come into the county, and Leon did not know him. When the
latter rode up to the bars the man was chopping wood in front of a
dilapidated shanty, but when he saw Leon approaching he dropped his axe,
took long strides toward his door and turned around and faced him. The
boy certainly thought he was acting in a very strange way, and for a
moment didn’t know whether he was a Union man or a rebel.

“Good evening, sir,” said Leon, who thought he might as well settle the
matter once for all. “Can I stay all night with you?”

“Who are you and where did you come from?” asked the man in reply.

“My name is Leon Sprague and I live in the other part of the county,”
replied Leon. “I am a Union boy all over, and I came out to tell
everybody—”

“Course we can keep you all night if that is the kind of a boy you are,”
replied the man coming up to the bars. “Get off and turn your horse
loose. I haven’t seen a Union boy before in a long while. I came from
Tennessee.”

“What are you doing down here?” asked Leon, as he led his horse over the
bars.

“I came down here to get out of reach of the rebels, dog-gone ’em,” said
the man in a passionate tone of voice. “You had just ought to see them
up there. They have got their jails full, they are hanging men for
burning bridges, and when I left home there was two or three thousand
men going over the mountains into Kentucky. But I couldn’t go with them.
The rebels cut me off, and as I was bound to go somewhere, I came on
down here.”

Leon had by this time taken the saddle and bridle from his horse and
turned him loose to get his own supper. Then he backed up against the
fence and watched the man chopping his wood.



                              CHAPTER II.
                            THE CONVENTION.


“What made you start for the house when you saw me coming up?” said
Leon, as the man sank his axe deep into the log on which he was chopping
and paused to moisten his hands.

“Because I thought you was a rebel. I reckoned there was more coming
behind you, and I wanted to be pretty close to my rifle. I didn’t know
that I had got into a community of Union folks down here.”

Leon was astonished to hear the man converse. He talked like an
intelligent person, and the boy was glad to have him express an opinion,
for it was so much better than his own that he resolved to profit by it.

“I don’t know that you got in among Union people,” said Leon, “for I
have seen more rebels to-day than I thought there was in the county; but
all the same there are some Union folks here. You might have gone
further and fared worse.”

“So I believe. When you came up you said you were out to tell everybody
something. What were you going to say?”

It didn’t take Leon more than two minutes to explain himself. The man
listened with genuine amazement, and when the boy got through he seated
himself on the log and rested his elbows on his knees.

“How are you going to take this county out?” said he. “You haven’t got
men enough to do any fighting.”

“No, sir; but we are going to do the best we can with what we have got.”

“That’s plucky at any rate. I suppose that if the rebels come in here to
capture you, you will take to the swamp.”

“Yes, sir. That’s just what we intend to do.”

“Well, sir, you can put my name down for that convention,” said the man,
getting upon his feet and going to work upon his wood-pile. “I’ve got so
down on the rebels that I am willing to do anything I can to bother
them. I’ve got two brothers in jail up there now.”

“You said something about bridge burning,” said Leon, and he didn’t know
whether he made a mistake or not. “Perhaps you had a hand in it.”

“Perhaps I did,” answered the man with a laugh. “And I tell you I had to
dig out as soon as I got home. So you see I dare not go back there.”

“What’s the punishment?”

“Death,” answered the man. “And they don’t give you any time to say
good-bye to your friends. They don’t even court-martial you, but string
you up at once.”

The man said this in much the same tone that he would have asked for a
drink of water. Leon was surprised that one who had passed through so
many dangers as that man had could speak of it so indifferently. But
then he looked like a man who would have been picked out of a crowd to
engage in business of that kind. He was large and bony, the ease with
which he handled his axe was surprising, but his face was one to attract
anybody’s attention. It was a determined face—a face that wouldn’t back
down for any obstacles. If the Union men in Tennessee were all like him,
it was a wonder how the rebels got the start of them.

“I can’t give you as good a place here as I could at home,” said the
man, as his wife came to the door and told him that supper was ready.
“At home I have a commodious house, and you could have a room in it all
to yourself. Here I have nothing but this little tumble-down shanty to
go into. It leaks, but I will soon get the better of that. Molly, this
young man is Union all over, and he has come down here to tell of a
convention that is to be held at Ellisville to take this county out of
the State. Whoever heard of such a thing? I am going to that meeting,
sure pop.”

His wife was greatly surprised to listen to this, but she accepted the
introduction to Leon, and forthwith proceeded to make him feel at home.
There were two children, but they had been taught to behave, and did not
try to shove themselves forward at all. Taken altogether, it was a
comfortable meal, and before it was over Leon learned some things
regarding this man that he wouldn’t have believed possible. He had come
all the way through the rebel State of Mississippi by telling the people
he met on the way that he was going to see some friends, and had, by
chance, struck Jones county, the very place of all others he wanted to
be.

“I must confess it was pretty pokerish, sometimes,” said the man. “The
rebels had sent on a description of me as the man who helped burn their
bridges, and now and then I had to get under the bundles of clothing and
cover myself up there, leaving my wife to guide the horses. But I had my
rifle all right, and it would have gone hard with the men who discovered
me.”

The evening was passed in this way listening to the man’s stories, and
when Leon went to bed in a dark corner of the room he told himself that
he had got into a desperate scrape, and that he had got something to do
in order to get out of it. He had never dreamed that men could be down
on their neighbors in that way, and here this man had all he could do to
keep from being shot.

“By George! I tell you we are in for it,” said Leon, pulling the
blankets up over him, “and I don’t know how we are going to come out.
There are rebels all around us, and if they are as bad down here as they
are up in Tennessee there won’t one of us come through alive. But I am
armed, and I’ll see that some of them get as good as they send.”

It was daylight when Leon awoke, and after washing his hands and face in
a basin outside the door he stood in front of the fireplace, before
which the woman was engaged in cooking the breakfast, and looked up at
the man’s rifle, which hung on some wooden pegs over the mantel. It was
an ordinary muzzle-loading thing, and didn’t look as though it had been
the death of anybody.

“That rifle has been too much for half a dozen men,” said the woman.

“Why, how did that happen?” asked Leon.

“It happened when they came to burn us out,” answered the woman. “They
came one night and tried to call Josiah to the door, but he would not
go. He took his rifle down, but he wouldn’t shoot until they did, and as
he is a good shot, he hit every time. The next day we had to move, for
they came with a larger body of men.”

“There is one thing that makes me think you are in a bad place,” said
Leon. “You are right here close to the river which separates the two
counties, and if anybody makes a raid over here they will strike you,
sure. I think if that convention is held you had better come down to our
place. We have room enough there to stow you away.”

“Oh, thank you. Perhaps you had better speak to Josiah about it.”

Josiah was out attending to his horses and cow, and Leon went out to
him. He looked at him with more respect than he did the night before,
for, in addition to burning the bridges, he had “got the better” of half
a dozen men. He bade Leon a hearty good-morning, but the boy noticed
that all the while he kept talking to him he kept his eyes fastened on
the woods. Probably it was from the force of habit. He agreed with Leon
that they were in a bad place to meet raids, and promised that after the
convention came off he would see what he could do. He didn’t want to
trespass on anybody until he had to.

Breakfast over, Leon brought his horse to the door, put on his saddle
and bridle and bid good-bye to the family from Tennessee, and rode off.
He was two days more on his route, and on the third day he turned his
horse toward home. He reached it without any mishap, and his mother was
glad to see him, judging by the hug she gave him. His father had arrived
the night before, but the stories he had to tell didn’t compare with
Leon’s. Of course his mother was shocked when she learned that Josiah
(Leon did not know what else to call him) had shot so many men before he
left Tennessee, but she readily agreed to shelter his wife and children.

“I never thought to ask him his name,” said Leon, “but I will ask him
down to the convention. He was dead in favor of it, and said he would be
there. I tell you that man has passed through a heap. He couldn’t talk
to me without running his eyes over the woods to see if there was
anybody coming.”

On the next day but one was the time of the convention, and at an early
hour Mr. Sprague and Leon mounted their horses and set out for
Ellisville. On the way they picked up a good many more, both afoot and
on horseback, and by the time they reached their destination they
numbered fifty or more. They made their way at once to the church, and
found themselves surrounded by a formidable body of men, all of whom
were armed with rifles. There must have been a thousand men there, and
there was not a secessionist to be seen in the party. Shortly afterward
Nathan Knight arrived. He bid good-morning to the people right and left,
and went into the church, whither he was followed by all the building
would hold. Those who couldn’t get in raised the windows on the outside
and settled themselves down to hear what was going to happen.

Nathan Knight was a large man, with gray whiskers and an eye that seemed
to look right through you. But for all that his face was kindly, and if
you got broken up in business and wanted help, Nathan Knight was the man
to go to. He took his seat in the pulpit, just where he knew the folks
would send him, took off his hat and drew his handkerchief across his
forehead. His meeting was not conducted according to order, but those
who were there understood it.

“Gentlemen will please come to order,” said he. “Are there any of us who
are opposed to taking this county out of the State of Mississippi? If
there is, let him now speak or hereafter hold his peace.”

Each man gazed into the face of his neighbor; but each one knew that the
one he looked at was as much in favor of secession as he was himself.
Finally, some one in the back part of the church called out:

“Nathan, there ain’t nary a rebel here.”

“I am glad to hear it,” said Mr. Knight. “But there are some around in
the county, and you want to be careful how you deal with them. I will
now appoint a committee of six to draw up a series of resolutions of
secession. They will go over to the hotel and come back when they get
done.”

Mr. Knight had evidently been thinking of this matter before for he
appointed the committee without hesitation, and among them was the name
of Mr. Sprague. They were all men who would not say a thing they did not
mean, and as they were about to go out the president beckoned Mr.
Sprague to his desk and placed a piece of paper in his hands.

“There’s some resolutions I drew up after thinking the matter over,”
said he. “Perhaps it will serve as a model to you. You can amend them or
leave them out entirely, as suits you best.”

When the committee had retired Mr. Knight got up, and for the next
half-hour proceeded to arraign the Confederate States and praise the
Union, his remarks calling forth loud and long-continued applause. He
took the ground that it was a “geographical impossibility” to conquer
Jones county, because, the inhabitants being lumbermen, it would be easy
for them to slip into the woods, and when there nobody but a raftsman
could find them. He kept his speech going until the committee were seen
coming back. Mr. Sprague made his way to the desk, and amid the most
impressive silence read the resolutions of secession as follows:

WHEREAS, The State of Mississippi has seen fit to withdraw from the
Federal Union for reasons which appear justifiable;

_And whereas_, We, the citizens of Jones county, claim the same right,
thinking our grievances are sufficient by reason of an unjust law passed
by Congress of the Confederate States of America, forcing us to go to
distant parts, etc., etc.;

_Therefore be it resolved_, That we sever the union heretofore existing
between Jones county and the State of Mississippi, and proclaim our
independence of said State and the Confederate States of America; and we
solemnly call upon Almighty God to witness and bless such act.

When Mr. Sprague ceased reading, the applause which shook the building
was long and loud. Not satisfied with that, some of the raftsmen fired
off their guns, and for the next five or ten minutes it was impossible
to do anything inside the church. By that time the excitement had
somewhat died out, and then the president asked if there was any debate
on the matter, but no one had anything to say. Knowing that those six
men had the good of the county at heart, there was not one who had
anything to say against them. Mr. Knight expressed himself pleased, and
was about to announce that the resolutions were passed, when somebody on
the outside of the building called out:

“Nathan, here’s a couple of rebels out here.”

“What are they doing out there?” asked the president, in surprise.

“I don’t know. They have just come up here. It looks to me like they
were going to recruit.”

“Well, fetch them in here. Now, boys, not a word out of you. I will do
the talking, and if you have any questions to ask, you can ask them; but
don’t all talk at once.”

Mr. Knight settled back in his chair and the most profound silence
ensued. Finally the crowd about the door gave way as the rebels and
their escort approached, and the Confederates, seeing so many men
standing there with their hats all off, courteously took off their own.
They kept on until they got up to the desk, and then Mr. Knight drew up
chairs for them to be seated.

“Now, gentlemen, what brought you up here?” asked the president.

“We came up here to recruit,” replied the ranking officer. “I am glad to
see so many of you here, for it will save us the trouble of hunting you
up.”

“Will you be kind enough to read that?” said Mr. Knight, unfolding the
paper on which the resolutions were written and passing it over to the
officer.

The official took the paper, and as he read his eyes opened with
surprise. When he had got through with it he passed it over to his
subordinate, and then turned and looked at the men near him. He was
satisfied that there was not a man there who did not believe every word
of those resolutions. The officer had nothing to fear now—he was the
first recruiting official that ever came there—but after he got away he
would not come back at any price.

“These are not all your men?” said he.

“No, sir. We have not more than three hundred men, but these extra
parties have come in with their families at odd times. And every man you
see is a Union man.”

“My friend, you are making a great mistake,” began the officer.

“We are ready to stand by it, sir.”

“Do you suppose the Confederates will stand by and allow you to take
this county out of the State, to be an odd sheep in the flock?”
continued the officer. “The first thing you know you will be overrun
with men, and you won’t have a house to go into.”

“What will we be doing all that time?”

“Oh, I suppose you will fight, but it won’t do you any good. The
Confederates can send twenty thousand men in here.”

“We don’t care if they send forty thousand,” replied the president.
“Whatever you send we’ll fight.”

The men who were crowded in the church and gathered about the windows
couldn’t stand it any longer. They broke out into loud applause, which
continued for some minutes. When they got through, the officer evidently
thought they were in earnest.

“We have a thousand men here, and when we get into the swamp we are
willing to meet five thousand,” continued Mr. Knight. “You can’t conquer
us.”

“What will you do for grub?”

“We’ll steal it,” shouted one of the men; and the answer was so droll
and corresponded so entirely with the thoughts of the men who were
standing around, that the whole assembly burst into laughter. Even the
enrolling officers joined in.

“I suppose you can do that, of course,” said he, “but supposing the
escort is too strong to be successfully attacked?”

“We don’t borrow any trouble on that score,” said Mr. Knight. “We
haven’t got all the men we are going to have. You see how they are
coming in now. But you are interrupting us, and we shall have to bid you
good-bye. You see very plainly that you can’t raise any men here for the
Confederate army. Another thing we’ll tell you, you are the first to
come in, and you will be the last to go out.”

“Do you mean to say that you will kill any enrolling officers who come
here?”

“That’s just what I mean to say. We don’t want them here.”

“Well,” said the official, rising to his feet, “we’ll go, but we won’t
be the last officers to come in here. I will tell you that very plainly.
You mustn’t think that the Confederates are going to allow you to have
your own way in this matter. It beats anything I ever heard of.”

“We are aware of that, and that’s what makes us think we are going to go
through with it. I will bid you good-bye, gentlemen.”

The men divided right and left to allow the rebels a chance to get out,
and when they had passed out beyond the door the president proceeded to
call the meeting to order.

“I am pleased with the way you obeyed my commands,” said Mr. Knight. “If
you will obey as promptly as that, we are going to be hard to whip. The
next thing is to elect a president.”

“I nominate Nathan Knight as president of the Jones County Confederacy,”
shouted a man near the door.

“We ought to have a ballot for that,” said Mr. Knight.

“We don’t need no ballot. It takes too much time. Can I get a second to
that?”

He could and he did. It seemed as if every man in the house seconded the
motion. Mr. Sprague put the vote before the house, and it was carried
unanimously. Mr. Knight did not stop to make a speech, but said the next
vote would be for vice-president, and Mr. Sprague was nominated.

“Hold on, there,” shouted a voice. “We don’t want Mr. Sprague for
vice-president. We want him for secretary of war. If there is any man
who can put us fellows where we can do the most good in a fight Mr.
Sprague is the chap.”

And so it was all through the convention. There wasn’t a ballot taken
for anything, and no man thought of declining an office. By four o’clock
the work was all done, and then Mr. Knight thought of something else.

“There is one thing more that I want the convention to decide on,” said
he. “It is a ticklish piece of business, but we have got to do it. Jeff
Davis has been making things very uncomfortable for our fellows out
there in the Confederacy by telling them that they have got to light out
or go into the army; now, what’s to hinder us from doing the same thing?
There are many rebels about here—”

“And I say let’s get rid of them,” said a voice. “I know one fellow who
is going around all the time talking secession, and if the meeting says
the word I’ll go to him and tell him he had better dig out. The county
will be a heap happier if he ain’t in it.”

“Let’s all go in a body,” said another voice.

“That’s what I say,” said a chorus of half a dozen men.

“I think myself that would be the better way,” said the president. “If a
lot of us get together and call upon a man, he will think we are in dead
earnest. Give them time to take what they want, and then escort them out
of the county. Don’t leave a rebel behind you. There being no further
business, the convention stands adjourned, to meet again upon call.”

And where was Leon Sprague all this time? He was sitting in the front
seat, where he could hear all that was going on. He felt proud when his
father was elected secretary of war. He supposed, of course, that it was
his business to post men in battle, but he learned better after a while.
He was particularly anxious about escorting the rebels out of the
county, and as soon as the convention adjourned he hurried out to find
Tom Howe. As he was hurrying through the door, whom should he run
against but Josiah—the “man who had seen a heap,” and who “got the best
of half a dozen men.” He stood with his rifle hugged up close to him as
if it were an old friend and he did not want to part from it.



                              CHAPTER III.
                         “A WORD IN YOUR EAR.”


“Why, Josiah, I am glad to see you,” said Leon, advancing and shaking
hands with the man. “The rebels haven’t raided you yet? Look here, what
is your name? I forgot to ask you when I was up to your house.”

“Giddings—Josiah Giddings,” answered the man. “No, the rebels have not
raided me yet, but I am mighty dubious about them.”

“Well, I want to make you acquainted with my father,” said Leon. “He
will give your wife protection at his house. We have a negro cabin there
that is much more comfortable than the one you live in now, for it
doesn’t leak. And there is plenty of pasturage there for your horse and
cow.”

Leon drew up alongside of Giddings and in a few minutes his father came
out. The introduction was given, and after a few commonplace remarks Mr.
Sprague inquired how he liked the resolutions.

“They ain’t strong enough,” said Giddings. “If you had two brothers in
jail waiting for their death-warrant, I reckon you would put in more
language than you did.”

“Where is that?” inquired Mr. Knight, who came out just at that moment.

“Up in Tennessee mountains. My brothers were engaged in bridge burning,
and now they have got to suffer death for it.”

Leon waited just long enough to see that Giddings was in a fair way to
make the acquaintance of the principal men of the county, and then
hastened out to find Tom Howe. After looking all about, he discovered
him sitting under the shade of an oak eating a lunch.

“Hallo, Leon; have some,” was the way in which he greeted the new-comer.
“It’s mighty good, I tell you—chicken and apple pie.”

“A person to look at your lunch wouldn’t think that we Union fellows
would be so hard up for grub,” said Leon, seating himself on the ground
by Tom’s side. “You heard what that man said, in reply to the enrolling
officer, that if we got short of provisions we would steal them? But I
want to talk to you about driving those rebels away from here.”

“I know one who will get out of the county with once telling,” said Tom.

“Who is it?”

“Carl Swayne.”

“That’s just the fellow I was thinking of,” said Leon, spitefully. “He
told me the other day that if we ran into the swamp it would not take
him long to show them where we were.”

“And he told me that he wished I had been smashed up in that jam while I
was about it, for then there would be one Union man less in the world,”
said Tom. “I’ll never forget him for that.”

“Well, you come around to the house early to-morrow morning, and we will
go up and send him off. I see father is getting ready to go home, so I
must go. So-long.”

Leon mounted his horse and started on a lope after his father, but when
he came up with him he found him surrounded by a lot of men and boys who
were talking loudly of the secession resolutions, finding no end of
fault with the Confederate Government, and praising the Union.

“They won’t get me, no matter which way they turn,” said one of the men,
who lived away off in the swamp. “I live two miles from everybody, and
right there is where the fight is going to take place. The river in
front of my house is so narrow that you can throw a stone across it
anywhere, and for a mile above and below the house it spreads out into a
swamp that they couldn’t get across to save their necks.”

“So you really think there is going to be a fight, do you?” inquired Mr.
Sprague.

“Oh, sure. It’s just as that enrolling officer said. The Confederates
ain’t a-going to leave us to be the black sheep in the flock. We are
going to see some fun before we get through with this.”

That was the opinion of all the men, and they concluded, too, that the
best place to hold the fight would be right there in front of this man’s
house. “But I’ll tell you what’s a fact,” said Giddings, “you will have
to look out for your wife and children. The rebels will make short work
of them if they get hold of them.”

“The swamp is big,” said the man. “If they get out in there I will risk
the rebels getting hold of them.”

Then men and boys dropped off one after the other when they came to the
cross-roads that led to their homes, and by the time Mr. Sprague reached
his home there were but few men besides Giddings left. The latter got
off his horse at the gate and went in to take a view of the cabin in
which Mr. Sprague told him he could live until the trouble was all over,
and he straightway came to the conclusion that it was a much better
house than the one he now occupied.

“You see there was nobody there to tell me that I could go into that
house or I could stay out of it,” said Giddings. “It wasn’t occupied,
and so I went into it, and sometimes when it rains you might just as
well be outside. If it suits you, I will come here to-morrow.”

Mr. Sprague told him that the sooner he came the better; but Giddings
declined an invitation to supper, because he knew his wife was waiting
for him, so he got on his horse and rode off.

“It kinder runs in my mind that that man Giddings will be a good fellow
to tie to,” said Mr. Sprague, as he drew his chair up to the table.
“There’s no end to the way he hates the rebels, and it’s my opinion that
when he shoots at them he will shoot to kill.”

“But do you really think there is going to be a fight?” inquired his
wife. She asked this in a very indifferent manner, as if she did not
care whether it came or not. She had got used to thinking of such
things.

Mr. Sprague, by way of reply, told her all about the convention, and
described to her the visit of the enrolling officers who had come up
there to enlist men for the Confederate army.

“Did they get any?” inquired Mrs. Sprague.

“Not much. There were a thousand men there under arms, and that is
rather more than two men want to handle. They know all about our plans,
for Knight showed them the resolutions. Of course, they are going back
to their headquarters, and are going to make a fuss about it.”

“I tell you it won’t be long now before we shall see some Confederate
soldiers up here, and I wonder if I dare shoot at any of them?” said
Leon. “If they will let me alone I believe I’ll let them alone.”

“How about those rebels that we are going to drive away from here
to-morrow?” asked his father. “I think I have heard you say something
pretty rough against Carl Swayne.”

“Well, that’s a different matter. Carl won’t let me alone, and I am
determined that hereafter I am going to live in peace. He told Tom Howe
that he wished he had been jammed up in that log heap, and I don’t like
to have people talk that way.”

Early the next morning Mr. Sprague’s family were up and stirring. Leon
was surprised when he looked at his father. There was a determined
expression on his face, and the boy became aware that he was about to
engage in an enterprise that promised at some future time to bring him
no end of trouble. Leon took his cue from it, and from that time he was
not so joyous as he had been. He took his revolver out, shot it at a
mark, and then proceeded to load it very carefully. There was only a man
and a boy and two women in the family he intended to send out of the
county, and Leon could not understand that determined look on his
father’s face. When he sat down at the breakfast-table he asked him
about it.

“Father, you seem to think you are going to have a handful in sending
that Swayne family away from among their friends,” said he. “What do you
look for?”

“I don’t look for anything now,” said Mr. Sprague. “There will be a time
when they will come back. Old man Swayne is a fighter, and it will stand
us well in hand to get rid of him entirely.”

The conversation was dropped there, and they ate breakfast in silence.
Before it was fairly ended the five men on whom Mr. Sprague was
depending to assist him stepped up on the porch and came into the house.
They were all invited to sit down and take another breakfast, but all
declined, having broken their fast several hours before.

“You see, Mrs. Sprague, we got an order from the Secretary of War, and
we’ve got to be on hand,” said one of the men. “It would not do to go
back on anything he tells us.”

“I don’t know what they put me in for that office for,” said Mr.
Sprague. “I don’t see that I have got anything to do.”

“Well, wait until it comes to fighting, and then you will find plenty to
do. Now if you are all ready we’ll go on,” said the man, forgetting that
he was giving orders to his superior officer. “We can’t get rid of that
Swayne family any too quick. They’re all the time boasting and bragging
of what they intend to do, and now we will give them a chance.”

Leon found opportunity to kiss his mother good-bye, and when he went out
on the porch, where Tom Howe was sitting and waiting for him, they fell
in behind the men, who shouldered their rifles and marched at a brisk
pace toward Mr. Swayne’s house. There was no attempt at military
movement, for there was not one in the party who knew anything about it,
but they went ahead just as if they were going hog-hunting in the woods.
In due time they came to a cross-roads which led down to Swayne’s house,
and here they stopped, for there was something that drew their attention
and angered them not a little. Before they left Ellisville, on the day
of the convention, Mr. Knight had given several copies of the
resolutions to men living in different parts of the county, with the
request that they should nail them up on trees (there was no
printing-press in the county), in order to give those who were not there
timely notice of what they had done. The man who served this notice
performed his duty, for the tacks were in the tree plain enough, but it
hadn’t been able to do much good. The notice had been torn down and the
pieces scattered about on the ground.

“Well, I do think in my soul!” began one of the men, “he wasn’t going to
let anybody see it, was he?”

“Look here,” exclaimed Leon, who had grown wonderfully sharp sighted of
late; “I know who did it. It was that miserable Carl Swayne. Do you not
see his footprints here in the dust?”

“That’s so. Now what shall we do with him? Sprague, you are Secretary of
War, and you ought to be able to say what shall be done with him. Knight
never thought yesterday, when he gave out those resolutions, that
somebody would go to work and pull them down.”

Meanwhile Leon had been busy gathering up the torn fragments of the
resolution that were scattered around. When he got them together he
compared them and saw they were all there.

“I’ll fix him,” said he. “And I’ll make him so sorry that he ever tore
this down that he’ll go by a resolution the next time he sees it.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’ll make him write it over again and come here and put it up,” said
Leon, savagely.

“That’s the idea,” said Tom Howe. “He pulled it down, and of course he
must put it up. I’ll be close at your heels when you are doing it.”

Mr. Sprague said nothing, but Leon noticed that the look on his face got
deeper than ever. He led the way at increased speed toward Swayne’s
house, and in a few minutes turned through the carriageway and saw Mr.
Swayne and his nephew, Carl, sitting on the front porch. They evidently
grew alarmed at seeing them, for they arose from their chairs and held
on to the backs of them.

“Good morning,” said Swayne, and his voice trembled and his hand shook
as he hauled up some chairs for them to seat themselves. “I did not
expect to see so many of you here this fine morning.”

“We have no time to sit down,” said Mr. Sprague, who was supposed to do
all the talking. “You are a rebel, are you not?”

“Well—yes; that is it depends on what you call a rebel,” said Mr.
Swayne, trying to laugh at his own wit. “I am opposed to your trying to
take this county out of the State; because why—”

“So I supposed. We have come here to tell you that you can pack up and
leave this county as soon as you please. We don’t want to hear any
argument about it.”

“Why—why, where shall I go to?” exclaimed Swayne, while the boy turned
whiter than ever. “If I leave here, I leave everything I have got behind
me.”

“We will give you an hour to pack up things. If you are in the house at
the end of that time, we shall set fire to it.”

“Well, now, see here,” said Swayne, who grew more frightened than ever;
“I can’t pack up in an hour—”

“I have told you just what I intend to do,” said Mr. Sprague, consulting
his watch. “It is now ten o’clock. If you are in here at eleven we shall
set the house going. If you are out of it in that time, why, we’ll save
it. You want to make up your mind in a hurry.”

“Of all the brazen-faced fellows I ever saw you are the beat,” said
Swayne, his fear giving place to anger. “I wish I had half a dozen
Confederate soldiers here to protect me.”

“By gum! We’ll set the house a-going before you get out of it,” said one
of Mr. Sprague’s men. “You ain’t a-going to talk to us like that.”

“One moment, Bud. We’ll sit down here on the porch until he gets through
being mad, and then maybe he’ll pack up. You had better go, Swayne, for
as sure as we are sitting on this porch, so sure will we set fire to
it.”

In the meantime Leon and Tom had stood close together, and as Carl
flounced into the house after his uncle, the two bounded up the steps
and went up to the frightened boy.

“A word in your ear,” said Leon.

“Well, I don’t want anything to do with you,” said Carl, almost ready to
cry when he found himself driven away from his home. “A man who will do
as you have done has no business with a white person.”

“One moment,” said Leon, while Tom cocked his gun and brought it to bear
on Carl’s head. “That brings you to your senses, don’t it? Here’s a
resolution of secession that my father got up yesterday, and which was
left on a tree down here, and I found it torn up and strewn on the
ground. Did you have a hand in it?”

“Say, Tom, I want you to turn that gun the other way,” said Carl, who
dared not move for fear that the rifle would still be pointed at him.

“Did you have a hand in it?” repeated Leon.

“Yes, I did,” said Carl, who, remembering that his uncle had got off
easy by showing some grit, now resolved to show a little himself. “I
will tear up every one you put there.”

“Well, I want you to go into the house and bring out some writing
materials, and sit down at this table here on the porch and draw up a
full copy of this resolution,” said Leon; and Carl had never heard him
speak so before. As he spoke he drew a revolver from his pocket.

“I can’t write as well as that,” stammered Carl, who saw that he had got
to do something very soon. “I wish you would put that revolver away. You
don’t know how it worries me to have those things in sight.”

“You can write well enough. Go and get the pen and ink. And mind you,
you want to be out here in short order, or we will be in there after
you.”

Carl hurried into the house, while Tom uncocked his gun and leaned upon
it, and Leon put his revolver into his pocket. They didn’t think they
would have any more use for them. Carl went at once to the room in which
his aunt was busy packing up some of her clothes, and the face he
brought with him was enough to attract anybody’s attention.

“Well, Carl, this is pretty rough, ain’t it?” said his uncle, who was
engaged in getting some of his own things together.

“I should say it was,” whimpered Carl. “Are you not going to be revenged
on these fellows?”

“We’ll be revenged on them so quick that they won’t know it,” said his
aunt, in a husky voice. She didn’t cry, but her hands trembled and her
face was very white.

“Where are your writing materials, aunt? That little Leon Sprague is
going to make me write out those resolutions I tore down. I wish, with
uncle, that we had some half a dozen Confederate soldiers here. Wouldn’t
we make a scattering among them?”

“Carl, you can’t have those writing materials,” said his aunt, who was
struck motionless with surprise. “Tell him that we haven’t got any in
the house. The young jackanapes! Where’s your rifle, that you don’t use
it? I wish I were a man for about twenty minutes. There wouldn’t be so
many of them as there are now.”

“But, aunt, they have got fire-arms, and they pulled them on me,” said
Carl. “If I don’t get them out there very soon they will come after me.”

“You will find them in the top bureau drawer,” said his aunt, who began
to think it was necessary to show a little speed. “Wait until I get my
things all together and get out there, I will give them a piece of my
mind.”

“Now, Lydia, you want to be mighty careful what you say out there,” said
her husband. “They have got weapons, and they had just as soon use them
as not. It is a pretty piece of business, this allowing strangers to
drive us away from our home, but I tell you we’ll have revenge for it
sooner or later. Pack up all your things in a hurry, for we have an hour
left us in which to save our home.”

Carl, seeing that his uncle had no way to propose for him to get out of
making a copy of that secession resolution, hunted up the writing
materials as soon as he could, and went out on the porch with them. He
found Leon and Tom there, and they were getting impatient.

“Look here,” said the former, “if you want to help your uncle get his
things together you will move a little spryer than that. Now, sit down
at this table and make out a full copy of this paper, just as it was
when you pulled it down.”

“I’ll bet you won’t always have things all your own way,” said Carl, as
he seated himself and removed the stopper from the ink-bottle. “You
don’t suppose we’ll come back, do you?”

“I suppose you will, and that you will have men with you,” said Leon.
“But you must bring all of two thousand men to put this rebellion down.
Don’t let’s have any more talk. Go on and write out that paper.”

“And remember, it’s got to be the same as it was there,” said Tom, when
he saw Carl arrange the pieces without reference to what came after
them. “If you don’t, you will have to write it over again.”

While Carl was busy with his copying his uncle and aunt came out on the
porch. They didn’t say a word, but brought with them a large bundle of
clothing that they wanted to save. Aunt Lydia showed that she would have
annihilated Mr. Sprague if she could, for the glance she cast upon him
was full of hate. Mr. Swayne then took a horn down from a nail under the
porch and blew two long blasts upon it. That was a signal to let the
field-hands know that they were wanted. Presently the field-hands came
up, a half a dozen of them, and although they may have been very smart
negroes, the clothing which they wore did not proclaim the fact. There
was hardly a piece of cloth on them that wasn’t patched until it was
almost ready to drop off their persons. They looked on in surprise when
they saw so many Union men there (they used to say that the darkies were
rather blunt in such matters, and that they didn’t know who the Union
men were), and saw the piles of clothing that had been brought out, but
the first words their master spoke to them cleared everything up.

“We’ve got to go away from home now, or these men are going to burn it,”
said Mr. Swayne. “Hitch those mules to the lumber-wagons and bring them
up here. Be in a hurry, now, for we have no time to waste.”

The darkies rolled their eyes in great astonishment, and then went about
their work with alacrity. In a few minutes the wagons were driven up to
the door, and the darkies began to pile in the clothes. While Mr.
Sprague was watching them he became aware that somebody was trying to
attract his attention. A pebble thrown by a friendly hand hit him on the
shoulder. He faced about, and saw one of the darkies behind the house.
When he saw Mr. Sprague looking at him he beckoned to him to come where
he was.



                              CHAPTER IV.
                           CARL BRINGS NEWS.


“Say, Marse Sprague, is you Union men going to burn dese houses ober
deir heads?” began the darky, so excited that he could scarcely stand
still.

“We have given them an hour to take their things out,” said Mr. Sprague.
“If they don’t take them out in that time we’ll set the house a-going.
If they get all their things out and loaded in the wagons we’ll save the
house, so that they can have something to live in when these troubles
are all over.”

“Whar do you reckon dey’ll go if dey get the things all tooken out?”
asked the negro.

“I don’t know where they will go; over into the next county, probably.
But what makes you so anxious?”

“Well, say, Marse Sprague, I don’t care to go ober into the next county
wid ’em. Dey’s rebels ober dere.”

“So I have heard.”

“Well, I don’t want to go among dose rebels ’cause I won’t get no
freedom. Dey say we’ll get it in a little while if we stays here among
dese Union men.”

“Who told you that?”

“Your own Mose told me dat, sah.”

“Is Mose going to take his freedom when he can get it?”

“Sah? No, sah. He say he’s got a Marse who don’t stripe his jacket none,
and he ain’t a-going to look at his freedom. I tell you, I don’t care to
go ober into dat oder county wid dem people here.”

“What are you going to do about it?”

“We-uns didn’t know what to do about it. If we slip away from dem while
dey are going ober dar can dey catch us?”

“I don’t know whether they can or not. There’s been an Emancipation
Proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln, saying that if they don’t quit
their rebellion in six months he will declare their niggers all free.”

“Dat’s just what I want to get at, sah,” said the negro, pounding his
knees and shaking his head as if he were overjoyed to hear it. “Dat’s
just what I want, sah. De rebels ain’t a-going to go and get up such a
’bellion, and den go and give it up ’cause somebody tells ’em to. I
ain’t a-going into dat oder county, and the first thing Marse Swayne
knows my folks and me will be missing.”

“Well, you have got to depend on yourself,” said Mr. Sprague. “I cannot
help you if you do run away from them.”

“I knows dat mighty well. But you just watch out and see if you hain’t
got more black folks up to your plantation dan you ought to have. You is
a Union man and I know it, and you ain’t a-going to give me up just
’cause Marse Swayne says so.”

The negro started one way because he heard somebody calling him, and Mr.
Sprague joined the men on the porch feeling as if he had a big
responsibility resting upon him. He didn’t agree to take all the darkies
in the county who might make up their minds to run away from their
masters, and how was he going to support them all and find work for them
to do?

“I tell you, this thing is coming to a head,” said Mr. Sprague to the
man who sat next to him. “You remember what Stephens said about having a
Government whose cornerstone should be slavery?”

The man remembered it perfectly. They used to get Confederate papers
when the war first broke out, but now that they were in rebellion, and
the postmaster was a rebel, they didn’t get a sight of one. The man who
had charge of the office removed to Mobile as soon as he saw how things
were going, and since then there had not been any post-office.

“Well, sir, old Cuff has just been talking to me, and he thinks of
running away. He says that if he goes over into the other county he
won’t get his freedom.”

“Good” said the man. “I am glad of it. We’ll see how their
‘corner-stone’ is going to hold out when they get their Confederacy. But
they ain’t a-going to whip.”

“But this old Cuff thinks I am going to support him,” said Mr. Sprague.
“I haven’t got any work for him to do.”

“Send him into the woods to cut logs for you,” said the man.

“I might do that, but I don’t see where I am going to find market for
them. But I will get along somehow. Well, half an hour is gone, and they
haven’t got many things out yet. Leon and Tom seem to be making it all
right with Carl, don’t they?”

The two boys referred to stood patiently by until the resolutions were
complete; then Tom took his copy and Leon fastened his eyes upon the
torn manuscript and waited for him to read it. It was all correct; there
wasn’t a mistake in it.

“You write a pretty good hand for a boy who hasn’t been to school more
than you have,” said Leon.

“Keep your compliments for them that need them,” said Carl, snappishly.
“I don’t care to hear them.”

“You haven’t got through with this business yet,” said Leon, in a voice
which he meant should carry conviction with it. “You found this
resolution on a tree, and you tore it down so that people couldn’t see
it. I intend that you shall go back and post this thing up there.”

“But you told me I should have to help my uncle carry out his things,”
said Carl, anxious to shirk all the responsibility he could.

“Oh, we’ll wait until you carry out your things,” said Leon, with a
smile. “You are going right by the tree, and it won’t hurt you at all to
stop and nail this thing up.”

Carl gathered up the pen and ink and disappeared in the house, and Leon
and Tom went down the steps to join the men who were sitting there.

“I got it, but I had hard work in getting it, too,” said Leon. “How much
longer time has he got?”

“Not quite fifteen minutes,” said Mr. Sprague.

“And I see he is hustling things more lively than he did. You won’t
start the fire when the quarter of an hour is up, seeing that he is
doing the best he can to get them out?”

“Oh, no. I wanted to see him get to work, that is all.”

At the end of half an hour the furniture and clothes they intended to
take with them had been loaded on the wagons, and then the women began
to slam the blinds and fasten them securely. When Mr. Swayne came out on
the porch he locked that door and put the key into his pocket.

“We have got some things in there yet, but we don’t want these traitors
to have them,” said his wife, in a tone which was intended very plainly
for the ears of Mr. Sprague and his friends. “Let them go somewhere else
and steal somebody else poor.”

Mr. Swayne did not pay any attention to it. He buttoned up the key in
his pocket, and looked all around as if he were searching for someone.
At last he called out:

“Cuff! Where is that lazy nigger Cuff? Come here this minute, or I will
stripe your jacket till you can’t rest.”

Mr. Sprague was surprised. He thought it very likely that he could tell
Mr. Swayne what had become of the negro Cuff. He had been sent with all
his companions to the quarters to bring some clothes and other things
they wanted to save, and he hadn’t showed up since. It would be very
easy for them to slip through the cornfield, and so into the woods, and
that was right where Cuff was when his master was calling him.

“Carl, suppose you run down to the quarters and hurry them up,” said his
uncle. “We want to get away from here as soon as we can. There’s too
many Union people here.”

The man who had threatened to burn the house before they got out of it
was sitting on the steps a little way from Mr. Sprague. He wiggled and
twisted and wanted to say something in return, but there was his
superior officer who didn’t say anything, and he thought he would hold
in for a better opportunity. Carl was away about fifteen minutes, and
when he came back his face bore evidence that he was utterly confounded.

“There ain’t a nigger about the quarters,” said he. “Their clothes, both
bedding and wearing apparel, are gone, and that proves that they have
run away.”

“That’s the first time I ever had a nigger serve me that way,” said Mr.
Swayne, pacing up and down the porch. “Run away, have they? If I ever
get my hands on them I’ll make it awfully uneasy for them to lie down,
now I tell you. Did you follow them into the woods to see where they
went?”

“No, I didn’t. I saw their tracks leading through the cornfield, and
then I came home to report the matter to you. Those niggers think they
are going to get their freedom now.”

“Yes, and you might have expected it,” said his aunt, turning her
flashing eyes upon Mr. Sprague. “What are these Union men here for if it
isn’t to coax the niggers away from an honest Confederate?”

“Mrs. Swayne, we had no hand in inducing your negroes to run away from
you,” said Mr. Sprague, who now began to get angry. “They said they were
not going into the other county with you, and I told them that they must
depend entirely upon themselves.”

“By gum! You want to see your house go before you get away from it,”
said the man who had threatened to burn them out. “Any more such talk as
that and I’ll set her a-going; by gum I will.”

“Carl, you will have to do some driving for us, for we can’t stop to
hunt the niggers,” said Mr. Swayne.

“Oh, now, I didn’t agree to do driving,” whined Carl. “Let’s stop and go
into the woods after them.”

“You have already got your things loaded on the wagons, and I must ask
you to drive on,” said Mr. Sprague. “It is my duty to stay by you until
you get beyond Ellisville.”

“Carl, jump on that wagon and drive after me,” said Mr. Swayne. “I don’t
want to hear any more argument about it.”

“Tom, you haven’t got any horse, and I advise you to get into that wagon
with Carl,” said Leon. “When you come to the tree on which the
resolution was posted, make him get out and post this one in its place.
He’ll object, but we can’t help it.”

While Carl was tying his riding-horse behind the wagon Tom climbed in
and seated himself on the table which had been placed there for one of
the negroes who had gone off with Cuff. Carl saw what he was doing, but
didn’t make any fuss about it. He had arrived at his uncle’s conclusion
that the best thing they could do was to take no notice of the Union
men. By doing that they would irritate them, and they would not have so
much to brag of when they talked about driving Confederate families out
of the county. But they didn’t know Mr. Sprague and his friends. The
task was one they did not like, but they did it because they had been
ordered to. Carl kept his mouth resolutely closed until they came to the
tree from which he had torn down the resolutions. He whipped up his
mules when he came there, but Tom laid hold of the reins and stopped
them.

“Now, Carl, this is the place,” said he. “Here’s the notice, and you
want to get out and tack it up. The nails are all there.”

Carl didn’t know whether to refuse or not, but just then Leon came up on
his side of the wagon. Leon had a revolver in his pocket, and Carl did
not like to see that; so he grabbed the notice and sprang out of the
wagon. In a few minutes it was tacked up just the same as it was before.

“There,” said Leon, “that will do. Now anybody who comes along here and
who wasn’t at the convention can see what we did there.”

“Now I guess you had better get out,” said Carl, addressing himself to
Tom Howe.

“No, I reckon not,” replied Tom. “I’ve got to go with you as long as you
stay in the county, and I reckon I can get along here as well as I can
afoot. Drive on.”

Carl at once closed his lips and had nothing more to say. As they were
going by his own house, Leon noticed that there was nobody present, for
his mother was too refined a woman to take such a paltry vengeance on
those who did not believe as she did, but there was one little
circumstance that attracted his attention. He was certain that he saw
old Cuff’s cottonade coat disappear around the house. He did not have
more than a glimpse of it, but he was sure it was there. When they
arrived at the cross-roads they met ten more men on foot who were
escorting four more wagon-loads of secessionists to Perry county, which
was the nearest place they could get and be among friends. They never
said a word, but fell in behind Mr. Sprague, and followed along after
him. They were all armed with rifles, and some of them had revolvers
stuck in their belts. The sight of these men made Carl open his eyes. He
had not dreamed that there were so many Union men in the county.

“I believe you’ve got more Yankees here than Confederates,” said he.

“These men are not Yankees,” said Tom. “They are men born here in the
South. But these ain’t a patching to what we’ve got. If you had been
down to that convention you would have seen a thousand men under arms.
There were so many of them that we couldn’t get them all in the church.
Some of them had to stay outside and raise the windows.”

“Well, what did you do there besides pass the resolutions of secession?”
asked Carl; for now that his uncle was out of hearing he seemed anxious
to learn what had been going on at that meeting.

“We elected officers,” said Tom.

“Didn’t you do anything else?”

“Well, yes. There was a couple of enrolling officers came there to
enlist men for the Confederate army, and we sent them back where they
came from.”

“Then the rebels don’t allow that this county is out of the State, do
they?” said Carl, who was overjoyed to hear it. “You have got your own
way this time, but I tell you we are coming back. And I won’t forget the
boys that drew fire-arms on me.”

“Well, that’s right. I suppose they won’t draw any more on you?”

“No, sir, they won’t,” said Carl, hotly. “I don’t mind talking this way
to you, but I do hate the sight of that revolver that Leon Sprague has
in his pocket. Where is he now?”

“He is back talking to those men that came up awhile ago,” said Tom. “He
can’t hear you, but you must remember that we can fight tolerable
sharp.”

Leon had gradually slackened his pace until the single man on horseback,
who seemed to be the leader of the party, came up and rode beside him.

“Well, sir, you got ’em, didn’t you?” said the man. “You know, when your
father said he would go up after that man yesterday I felt rather
anxious about him. I thought he would fight, sure.”

“Well, he didn’t. He did not show any signs of it. He was mighty saucy,
though, and so was that nephew of his.”

“One of our men was sassy, too. Do you see that man driving the next
wagon? He’s got a big lump under his eye. Bob Lee hit him.”

“Now, what did he do that for? Bob had the right on his side, and there
was no reason why he should get mad and strike the man. My father had
just as good reason to hit Swayne, but he didn’t do it.”

“He had no business to be sassy. If Bob hadn’t a hit him I would. He
said that he hoped to goodness that the rebels would come in and take
the last scalp from our heads. When Bob asked him to take it back he
said he wouldn’t do it, and so Bob upended him. That was the last sassy
word given to us. It showed them that we were in earnest. Hello! There’s
three more fellows come up and are talking to your father, and by
gracious! one of them is a rebel. Let’s go there and see what they have
got to say.”

Leon and his friend urged their horses forward, and in a few minutes
drew up beside Mr. Sprague, who was listening to some words the rebel
had to say to him. As he spoke he looked at the women and Mr. Swayne,
and then sank his voice almost to a whisper.

“Colonel, are these some rebels that you are taking out of the county?”
said he.

“We have got so far with them, and we expect to get the rest of the
way,” answered Mr. Sprague.

“I want you to come off on one side so that I can talk to you without
fear of being overheard,” said the rebel. “Now,” he added, as the men
moved some distance down the road, “the rebels are going to move a big
wagon-train along that road to-morrow. You see they have got to go
around this county, for they don’t want to run the risk of being
captured if they pass through here.”

“We stopped and saw President Knight about it, and he advised us to come
on and see you,” said one of the men who had acted as guard to the
rebel.

“Take his gun away from him,” said Mr. Sprague, and the rebel promptly
gave it up, together with his ammunition-box and bayonet. “Have you any
other weapons about you?”

“Nary one, sah,” said the rebel. “My family is down here a little ways
from Ellisville, and you may know that I am all right when I bring them
with me.”

“How did you say you escaped?”

“I wasn’t conscripted, as a great many were, but there was such a
pressure brought to bear upon me that I thought I might as well go into
the army instead of waiting until I was conscripted in reality. I have
been in the service only six months, but I have been in three or four
little engagements. I live in Perry county, and when I found out what
you were doing here, how you had never sent any men into the army, and
how there were a thousand men here who didn’t intend to go at all, I
wrote to my wife, advising her to come here and I would join her after
awhile; but she wrote back that she wouldn’t stir a step unless I came.
On the night I escaped I was on guard, and the corporal hadn’t any more
than got away from me when I was missing. I travelled all night, and at
daylight reached my home. I packed up what few things I wanted to save
and came here, and one of my mules dropped dead as soon as I got to
Ellisville. I wanted the President to go on at once and capture that
train, but he thought I had better come on and see you about it.”

“Well, you tell a pretty straight story, and I shall have to put some
faith in it until I can prove the contrary,” said Mr. Sprague.

“You are at liberty to disprove my story in any way you can,” said the
rebel, earnestly. “I am dead shot on this thing, and if this county is
going to stay out of the Confederacy I am going to stay out, too.”

“I shall have to send you to my house,” said Mr. Sprague.

“Send me anywhere, sah, but stop and explain to my family why I don’t
come home. She will appreciate the reason, for she is a soldier’s wife.”

“Father, come here a minute. I don’t see what’s the use of sending that
rebel to our house,” said Leon, when his father had drawn off on one
side. “He must have a camp down there in Ellisville, and, now he has
given up his weapons, I don’t see how he is going to get away. There are
fully five hundred men camped around Ellisville now.”

“Well, that is so,” said Mr. Sprague, after reflecting a moment. “I
think I had better take him on to Ellisville and leave him there, with
plenty of men to watch him.”

“That would be my way, certainly.”

“Forward, march!” shouted Mr. Sprague, as he placed himself at the head
of his little train, and the cavalcade once more moved onward. The rebel
kept close at his side, and Leon rode a little ways behind him. There
was one thing that drew the boy’s attention, and that was the rebel’s
horse. Although she was tired, her gait showed that she fretted and
fumed at the bit as if she was anxious to go faster. She was a beautiful
animal, with limbs so small that they did not look strong enough to
support her weight.

“May I ask you where you got that horse?” said Leon, after he had
watched her for some length of time.

“I stole her from the wagon-master,” said the rebel. “I should not have
been able to get home if it hadn’t been for her. I did the rebels all
the damage I could before leaving them.”

“There must be some escort with that wagon-train, isn’t there?” inquired
Mr. Sprague.

“There are twenty-five men, including two officers,” replied the rebel.
“But half of them you needn’t be afraid of, for they are all Union.”

“How many wagons are there in the train?”

“Forty;” whereat Leon opened his eyes in surprise.

“Will the teamsters fight?”

“Fight!” exclaimed the rebel, in disgust. “No, they won’t. Half of them
are armed, but they don’t know what it is to fight. When they see you
coming up with your guns all ready the majority of them will throw up
their hands.”

If ever there was a happy man in that train it was the rebel. He joked
and laughed because he said he was among friends once more and could say
what he pleased, and all the way to Ellisville entertained his auditors
with thrilling stories of his earliest battles. He told how frightened
he was when he got into the first one, and how he looked around for a
hollow log into which he could crawl and get out of sight; but there
were his companions all standing up without being shot, and his pride
made him stay right where he was. At three o’clock they reached
Ellisville, where the President had located his office. As Leon had
said, there were at least five hundred men camped around there, some
with their families, some had no homes at all, but all wanted to be
where they could feel that they were of some assistance to Mr. Knight.
They knew that when a raid was made upon the county it would come from
Perry, the county next on the south, and they calculated to be at hand
to stop it. Here Mr. Sprague halted his train and went in to hold an
interview with the President, taking the rebel’s gun with him. He was
gone but a few minutes, and when he came out his countenance indicated
that he had resolved upon something. He mounted his horse and rode in
among the lean-tos and other shelters which the men had erected for
themselves, and shouted “Attention!” at the top of his voice, and
immediately every man who heard him came running up to see what was the
matter. When he thought he had got a sufficient number about him, Mr.
Sprague proceeded to unfold his plans. It wasn’t the way that a majority
of leaders do, for they never let their men know what sort of dangers
they are going to meet until they get fairly into them.

“We are going out to-morrow to attack that wagon-train,” said Mr.
Sprague, “and I want all of you who can go to be on hand here bright and
early.”

“Good!” exclaimed one. “Then we’ll have something to eat.”

Mr. Sprague then went on to tell them how many wagons there were in the
train, how many teamsters, and how large an escort of soldiers; for he
put implicit faith in the rebel’s word. He was certain that five hundred
men, if he could secure that many, advancing with their guns at full
cock, would take all the fight out of them. Mr. Sprague was careful not
to talk so loud as to attract the attention of Mr. Swayne, for he knew
that he would warn the Confederates. Having given his men something to
think about, he rode back to place himself at the head of his train,
which moved away toward the county line.



                               CHAPTER V.
                        CAPTURING A WAGON-TRAIN.


“Now,” said Mr. Sprague, when Leon rode up beside him, “you want to go
and tell your mother the reason that I don’t come home to-night. I shall
have to stay here with the men, to be ready to start out with them at an
early hour.”

“Then after that I suppose I can stay at home,” said Leon.

“Yes; I think that would be the best place for you. Those twenty-five
men, and all of them old soldiers, are not going to give up that
wagon-train without some resistance.”

“Well, now, I’ll tell you what’s a fact, father,” said Leon, decidedly.
“I just ain’t a-going to stay at home.”

“Why not?” said Mr. Sprague, in surprise.

“If you are going to meet those men, I am going, too. You needn’t think
you are going into danger without my being close beside you. I wouldn’t
dare look mother in the face again if I should be guilty of remaining at
home.”

Mr. Sprague looked down at the horn of his saddle and thought about it.
Leon had really more pluck than his father thought he had, and after
awhile he thought it would be better to let the boy have his own way in
the matter.

“I don’t see what is the use of sending any word at all home to mother,”
said Leon, after pondering what his father had said. “She knows that we
are in the service of the county, and she won’t care whether we come
home or not. The best way would be to stay right down here and go home
when we get the job done.”

This settled the matter, and Mr. Sprague never referred to it again.
About eight o’clock they arrived at the little bridge which spanned the
creek that flowed between Jones and Perry counties, and there Mr.
Sprague halted his men and motioned to Mr. Swayne to go on. The man
complied, and when he had got far enough across to let all the wagons
that came after him get a footing on Confederate soil he stopped and
jumped out.

“Thank goodness I’ve got a white man’s ground under my feet!” he
exclaimed; and no one had ever seen him so mad before. He seemed to be
holding in for just this occasion, and he was so angry that he could
scarcely speak plainly. “I suppose that now I can talk to you as I have
a mind to.”

“Draw yourselves in line across this bridge and hold your guns in
readiness to shoot,” said Mr. Sprague in a low tone to his men. “He may
open fire on us before we can get under cover. Oh, yes, you can say what
you please, now,” he said, in his ordinary voice. “But I wouldn’t say
too much till I get behind that bend.”

“Well, I want to say this much to you,” shouted Mr. Swayne; “you have
had your own way this time, but we are coming back in less than a week
to clean you all out.”

“And remember this,” exclaimed Carl from his place in the wagon. “I will
bear in mind the boys who drew shooting-irons on me, you see if I don’t.
I’ll tear down that notice, and every other one that I can find.”

“And you, Bob Lee, I’ll remember you,” said the man with a lump under
his eye. “I’ll teach you that the next man who says anything about the
Confederates—well, you had better let him alone, that’s all,” he added,
when he saw Bob raise his gun to his shoulder.

“If you are all ready, go on,” said Mr. Sprague.

Mr. Swayne was a long time in getting into his wagon. He would place his
foot upon the hub, and then one of the men would say something insulting
in regard to the men they had just left, and Mr. Swayne would take his
foot down and stand there until he heard what the man had to say. He was
in earnest when he said they were coming back to clean the Union men all
out, and that there wouldn’t be hide nor hair of them left when they did
come, and finally he got into his wagon and drove on. When he looked
behind to see what had become of Mr. Sprague and his party, he saw them
just disappearing around the nearest bend in the road.

“I wish I dared shoot at them,” said he.

“Well, I’ll shoot at them, and welcome,” said the man whom Bob Lee had
struck, as he reached for his gun.

“Don’t do it, Jim,” expostulated Mr. Swayne.

“Dog-gone it, don’t you see the bump under my eye?” said the man. “I can
see the chap who did it, and I can pick him off just as easy as you
would kill a squirrel.”

“If you shoot at them they will come back here and arrest the whole of
us, and take us back to their camp and make us stand a court-martial,”
said Mr. Swayne. “I am not a-going to stand punishment for your deeds
and mine into the bargain.”

This view of the matter rather arrested the man’s hand, and he sat with
his gun resting across his knees, muttering curses not loud but deep,
until he saw the Union men disappear around a bend in the road. Mr.
Sprague knew that he stood a chance of being fired upon, and that was
what he intended to do; he would arrest the whole of them and take them
to camp. But Mr. Swayne was a little too sharp for him. It was two
o’clock when they arrived at the camp, and the men, to show that they
knew what sort of respect ought to be paid to the Secretary of War, went
off to hunt up some forage for his horse and Leon’s before they went to
bed.

“Well, Leon,” said Mr. Sprague, after the horses had been picketed with
plenty to eat and the men had all gone away, “we haven’t got any
blankets.”

“No matter for that,” said Leon. “It won’t be the first time I have
slept out with nothing to cover me. Get some leaves, and they will do
just as well.”

They walked along the road as they talked, and Mr. Sprague could not
help thinking what a big army he was going to have to attack that
wagon-train. Every step of the way he saw lean-tos, and he knew that
there were stalwart men sleeping under them. Finally he drew up before a
lean-to where there was a sentry sitting in front of the door. He did
not carry his arms at a “support,” nor did he bring his piece to “arms
port” and call out, “Who comes there?” when he saw Mr. Sprague and Leon
approaching. But he greeted him in regular backwoods style.

“Hallo, Sprague” said he. “Did you get your parties through all right?”

The Secretary of War replied that he did, adding—

“This must be the home of that rebel, isn’t it?”

“Yes. But he has been perfectly peaceable all night. He didn’t sleep at
all the night before.”

“No; but I am awake now,” called out a voice from the inside; and there
was a little fussing in the cabin and the rebel came to the door.

“Say, Colonel, are you going to stay here all night?”

“That is the intention. I want to get an early start, and it is too far
for me to go home.”

“Well, now, I know that you haven’t got any quilts,” said the rebel,
disappearing under the roof of the lean-to. “Here’s some that will add
to your comfort to-night. Take them and welcome.”

Mr. Sprague thanked the rebel for his gift and spread the quilts down
where they intended to camp for the night, while Leon told himself that
it was a good thing to have a father who was Secretary of War, after
all. They slept soundly for a little while, but at half-past three Mr.
Sprague was awake and busily engaged in arousing the men. In less time
than it takes to tell it they were all up and cooking their breakfast,
and in an hour more the grove was empty. Five hundred men were going out
to attack that wagon-train, and, if possible, secure something to eat.
We don’t mean to say that they were hard up for provisions, for there
was bacon and corn-meal enough in the county to last them for months;
but we mean that they had lived so long on these things that they had
grown tired of them. They had been used to something better than that
before the war, and when their boats came back from tide-water, after
their owners had succeeded in selling their logs, the housewife found
pickles, canned meat and condensed milk enough to last her family for
six months. That was one thing that the men had in view; and another
thing, some of them were in need of clothes; and they believed that this
wagon-train had something of that kind stowed away for the boys in
Mobile. And, better than all—and here was the thing that led the men to
look with favor upon robbing the train—it would show the Confederates
they were in earnest;—just what the Union people wanted to do.

It was a long march from the grove in Ellisville to the stream that
separated the two counties, but the men went about it in earnest and
determined to get there in time to stop that wagon-train. Of course,
there was plenty of joking and laughing while they were on their own
ground, but the moment they struck the bridge a deep silence fell upon
the company. We ought by rights to say that the men had been divided
into five companies, a hundred men in each, and that each one had three
officers to direct them; but the Union men of Jones county had not got
that far in military tactics. There was only one man at the head, Mr.
Sprague, and he had the full management of them.

Mr. Sprague rode at the head of the line in company with all the men who
had horses, and there must have been about fifty of them, and when he
crossed the bridge he sent a dozen of them on ahead to travel at full
speed, to see if the wagon-train had passed.

“I needn’t remind you that you want to go into every house you come to,
and if there is a man in there take him in,” said he. “Don’t say a word
to the women, but ketch the men. It won’t do to leave any rebels behind
us, for they can easily warn the train, and so we must take them with us
until we get the job done. Silas, I will appoint you captain of this
squad.”

Silas raised his hand to his hat with something that was intended for a
military salute, called all his men about him, and went down the road at
a keen jump, while the rest of the company travelled on as before. An
hour afterward they came up with their scouts, and Silas at once rode up
to report.

“The wagon-train hain’t passed yet, and we’ve got five men, and two of
them are rebels. We had to chase through a cornfield after one, and
fired two shots at him.”

“Did you hit him?”

“No, we didn’t hit him, but he was mighty ready to throw up his hands
when he heard the bullets whistling.”

“Did you get their guns?”

“Yes, we got them all safe.”

“Now the best thing we can do,” said Mr. Sprague, turning about to face
his men, “is to go down the road and conceal ourselves in the bushes.
When you see me move my arm this way,” here he raised his arm above his
head and waved it toward the right and left of the road, “you will all
divide and go into the timber on different sides; and when you hear me
whistle this way,” he put his hand to his mouth and gave a whistle that
could have been heard a mile, “then you may know that it is time for you
to get down to business. But bear one thing in mind: Don’t shoot unless
you have to.”

The company, or, more properly speaking, the battalion, moved on again,
and in half an hour not one of them was in sight. They had divided right
and left, as Mr. Sprague had directed, and taken up their positions on
opposite sides of the road, and there was not the least noise or
confusion about it. Two of the men had gone down the road to see if the
train was coming, and they were impatiently waiting their return. The
prisoners had all been turned over to Mr. Sprague, and he was having
something of a time with one of them, who was determined that he would
not hold his tongue. He had a very shrill voice, and when he spoke in
his ordinary tone it could be heard a long distance.

“Now, Sprague, I don’t see the sense in your doing this,” said the
shrill-voiced man, and he seemed to have pitched his tones so loud that
they could have heard him at the end of the line. “You take me away from
my home, who never did the Union any harm—”

“You are a nice fellow, you are,” said one of the men who happened to be
close around when the shrill-voiced person was talking. “I take notice
of the fact that Ebenezer Hale wanted to come up here so as to be among
Union men, and you heard his story, and when he was asleep that night
you went off and got a lot of rebels to surround and carry him off.
Where is he now? In jail, likely. And you, dog-gone you, you never did
the Union men any harm! You had oughter go to jail until this trouble is
all over.”

“Well, now, Simeon, I did just what I thought was best for the
community. I didn’t have nothing against Ebenezer Hale, but I knew that
if he went into this fight—”

“That’s enough,” said Mr. Sprague. “We have listened to you all we want
to.”

“Now, Sprague, I shan’t quit talking until I have a mind to,” said the
shrill-voiced man. “You have undertaken more than you can accomplish,
and I say—”

“Sim, cut a little piece of wood about four inches long, and tie a
string to each end of it,” said Mr. Sprague. “If Kelley don’t shut up
we’ll gag him.”

“Oh, now, Mr. Sprague, don’t gag me,” said the man, sinking his voice
almost to a whisper this time. “I won’t say one word more. I won’t, upon
my honor.”

The gag was duly cut and prepared, and nothing was wanting except
another word from Mr. Kelley to induce Sim to put it where it belonged;
but the man took just one look at it and concluded that the best thing
he could do was to keep still. He never showed any disposition to open
his head until the scouts were seen coming back with the information
that the train was approaching. They came in a hurry, too, as if they
were anxious to get something off their minds.

“Where’s Sprague?” were the words they shouted as they galloped along
the road; whereupon Mr. Sprague showed himself. “The train is coming,”
they said, as soon as they came within hearing of their leader. “Every
blessed one of them is coming, and are acting as if they didn’t fear
anything.”

“Did they see you?” inquired Mr. Sprague.

“No, they didn’t. We hid our horses in the bushes, and then went and lay
down beside the road until we saw the train coming. Yes, sir, we’re
going to get them all.”

Mr. Sprague and his scouts went into the bushes again out of sight, and
then he noticed that Mr. Kelley wasn’t so anxious to keep in the
background so much as he had been. He was even disposed to go out of the
bushes, but he hadn’t made many steps in that direction when Simeon
seized him by the collar and stretched him flat on his back.

“Oh, now, Simeon—”

“Not another word out of you,” said his guard, savagely. “You will get
the gag in your mouth as sure as you’re alive.”

“Take your stand close behind him,” said Mr. Sprague, who was getting
angry now, “and with the very first words he utters shoot him down. We
are not going to have our plans spoilt for the sake of him.”

Leon, who stood close at his father’s side and heard all this
conversation, grew as pale as death when he found that the wagon-train
was coming. He clutched his revolver nervously, and determined that
whatever danger his father got into he would be there to help him. The
leader glanced at his son’s pale face and said, in a low tone:

“Leon, I think you had better stay here as a guard to these prisoners.”

“Are you going out there to face that escort?” asked Leon.

“Of course I am. I shall be right in the thickest of it.”

“Then I’m going, too.”

“But you will be safe here. They can’t hit you, even if they shoot at
you.”

But Leon only shook his head, and at that moment somebody whispered that
the foremost wagons were in sight. That turned Mr. Sprague’s attention
into a new channel, and Leon was left to himself. He glanced at Simeon
and his captive, and was gratified to see that Mr. Kelley had been
forced to sit down, and Simeon was standing there with his cocked gun
ranged within two inches of his head. He wanted to speak, and made a
motion to Simeon to turn the gun the other way, but as often as he did
this the piece was raised to his guard’s shoulder, and the words froze
on his lips.

The foremost wagon came along as rapidly as the mules could draw it, and
after what seemed an age to Leon the wagons were all in view. When the
leading wagon was almost opposite to him Mr. Sprague raised his hand to
his mouth and gave a shrill whistle. Never in his life had he given a
better one. He wasn’t excited at all. There was a moment’s silence there
in the brush, and out popped the cavalry and infantry, and in less time
that it takes to tell it the wagon-train was surrounded. Not a shot was
fired. To say that the rebels were astounded would not half express
their feelings. Every teamster had three or four guns looking at him,
and the cavalry, who occupied the advance of the train, were surrounded
with horsemen that were two to their one.

“Well, by George! You have done this up in good shape,” said the rebel
captain, after he had taken time to get his wits together. “What are
you—Union?”

“Yes, sir; Union to the backbone,” replied Mr. Sprague. “May I trouble
you for your sword and revolver?”

“That was as neat a surprise as I ever saw,” said the captain, as he
unbuckled his belt and handed it to Mr. Sprague. “You didn’t give us
time to fire a shot. What are you going to do with us? Put us in jail?”

“No, sir. We shall allow you to go where you please,” said Mr. Sprague,
accepting the belt and fastening it about his own waist. “We are not
making war on your folks now, but on your provisions. We shall have to
take your horses, too. Dismount.”

“I guess father’s all right, and now I’ll get some weapons of my own,”
said Leon, as he turned his horse and rode along the line of the escort.
“There must be some rebels in there that haven’t given up all their
fire-arms.”

As he rode along he found a soldier on the inside of the third four who
held his weapons in his hand and was looking around for somebody to give
them to. When he saw Leon approaching he held his sword, revolver and
carbine toward him over his companion’s horse.

“Come out here,” said Leon. “I shall have to take your horse as well as
your weapons.”

“Well, I can’t help it, can I?” said the rebel, who was more inclined to
laugh than he was to feel despondent over it. He came out and proceeded
to give up his horse and weapons to Leon, and at the same time he took
particular pains to place himself on the boy’s side next to the woods.
In this way he could talk to him without his rebel friends hearing it.

“Say,” he added, “you won’t take me to jail, will you?”

“Certainly not,” said Leon.

“Don’t talk so loud. I don’t want my companions to know that I have
found a friend among Union men. Let me go out in the woods a little
while, and I will come back sure when you are all ready to start for
home.”

“You will only be giving yourself trouble if you do that,” said Leon,
who thought his rebel friend was taking a queer way to escape. “As soon
as we get your weapons we intend to turn you all loose, to go where you
please.”

“But I don’t want to go with those rebels,” said the young soldier,
earnestly. “I am a Union man, and I went into the army because I had to.
I will come back, sure.”

“Well, go ahead, but don’t let anybody see you.”

When Leon led the captured horse back to his father’s side he found that
the escort had all been dismounted and disarmed, and were now standing
there and awaiting further orders. Some were disposed to be angry and
sullen, while others were laughing over what they considered a
first-class surprise. Mr. Sprague was highly elated over it. He did not
show it, but there was something about him that made Leon feel happy,
too. The goods that were captured that day must have been worth
$500,000.

“Now, Captain, you are all right, and I will bid you good-day,” said Mr.
Sprague. “You can go ahead, and as fast as the teamsters come up, we’ll
send them on after you. Silas, go back there and send up all the
teamsters.”

“But suppose they don’t want to go?” said Silas.

“Then leave them behind. If they want to go and join the Confederate
army, send them up here; but if they want to stay and join the Union
forces, let them alone.”

“Colonel, I suppose I can say what I please, can’t I?” said the rebel
captain. “You have got the dead-wood on me now, but it won’t be long
before I’ll come back. Then I shall ask you for my sword.”

In a few minutes the teamsters began to come up, and, as they
approached, Mr. Sprague told them to fall in behind the escort, which
was marching down the road. Leon kept a close watch on them, but didn’t
count more than thirty who wanted to go back to the Confederacy. There
must have been at least ten of them who wanted to stay with the Union
men. The next thing was to turn the mules around and start back home.
This occupied a good deal of time, for the mules were balky; and some of
them would not “back;” but those five hundred men soon took the “balky”
out of them, and in half an hour more the wagons were all turned around
and the train was on its way to Ellisville.



                              CHAPTER VI.
                          THE MARCH HOMEWARD.


Leon remained beside his father until the wagons were turned around, and
when he ordered the cavalry ahead to take its place at the advance of
the column, he went with them. Forty wagons, and some of them were
loaded so heavily that four mules could scarcely draw them. Everybody
was pleased with the performance. If all the wagon-trains they captured
were to be taken as easily as that, they had no fear but that they
should have grub enough. Every driver’s seat was filled with men who
thought that they preferred riding to walking, and they all joined in
and sang, at the top of their voices:

          “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave.”

How the song got down there they didn’t know. Probably some of those who
had been prisoners in the hands of the Federals, and there were a good
many old soldiers in the lot, had heard it sung by their captors, and
now that they were fighting for the Union they resolved to imitate them
as far as possible. Finally, when Mr. Sprague appeared riding along
beside them, somebody thought he ought to be praised for what he had
done, so he called out, in tones that were heard to the farthest end of
the line:

“Three cheers for Colonel Sprague. Hip, hip, hurrah!”

All the men immediately around there joined in in cheering Colonel
Sprague—they had given him a new title, now—and Mr. Sprague took off his
hat. As far as he went along the line everybody cheered him, and there
was something in their way of talking to his father that made Leon feel
very happy. He was bringing up the rear, leading his captured horse as
he went, until he found himself opposite a wagon managed by his friend
Tom Howe. Leon was glad to see him, for he had not spoken with him since
they left Ellisville. There were three men on the driver’s seat, and Tom
was sitting on the knees of one and handling the reins over his
four-mule team as if he had been used to it all his life.

“G’lang here!” he shouted when he saw Leon riding by. “We don’t take no
slack from anybody. But say, Leon, you will stand by me, won’t you?”

“Of course I will stand by you,” said Leon. “But I don’t know what you
mean.”

“Do you see that leading muel there, that white one?” said Tom, pointing
out the animal in question. “Well, that’s mine. There ain’t been anybody
to lay a claim to him and I want him.”

“I guess you can have him,” said Leon. “But why don’t you take a horse?”

“I would rather have the muel than that horse you are leading by the
bits. Where did you get him?”

“I got these weapons,” said Leon, showing the revolver and sword he
carried about his waist and the carbine he held in his hand, “from a
young fellow who gave them up to me without being asked. He has gone off
in the bushes, now, to get out of sight of the other members of the
escort, but he’ll be back directly.”

“Who let him go into the bushes?” inquired one of the men who was
sitting on the driver’s seat with Tom.

“I did.”

“Well, he has taken a rough way to escape. Why didn’t he stay here and
march away with his squad?”

“But he don’t want to escape,” said Leon. “He is a Union man, and he
wants to go home with us.”

“You are the most confiding man I ever saw. You will never see him
again.”

“Then I shall have a horse and weapons to give to somebody who needs
them. I don’t need them myself. When you want to get that mule, Tom, you
come to me.”

“I’ll do it,” said Tom, as he unwound his lash and gave the leading
white mule a cut with the whip to make him pull faster; whereupon the
mule’s ears came back and he kicked with both hind feet in the direction
of the wagon, barely missing the wheel-mule’s head. Leon laughed
heartily. “Well, you see, he hasn’t been taught to pull in a wagon. This
is his first attempt, but he is gay on horseback, and I’ll bet on it.
I’ll teach him in two days so that he won’t kick.”

Leon urged his horse on ahead to catch up with the cavalry, but he had
not made many steps before the bushes parted at his side and the young
rebel who owned the steed he was leading came out.

“Have they gone?” said he, and he acted like one who felt overjoyed. “I
told you I would come back, and here I am. May I get up and ride my
horse?”

“Certainly,” said Leon, and he felt so delighted to see the rebel that
he could have hugged him. He didn’t know what his father would say to
him for allowing that man to go out in the bushes. He gave up the horse,
and the young fellow swung himself into the saddle.

“I am glad you didn’t give him up to some of your men who have no horses
of their own,” said the rebel, as he accompanied Leon toward the head of
the column. “My father raised this animal, I broke him myself, and he’s
got just the kind of a gait that I like. Now, what are you going to do
here in this county? Are you going to rebel against the Confederacy sure
enough?”

“We have gone out already,” said Leon. “I haven’t got a copy of the
resolutions with me, but you can see them when you get up to
Ellisville.”

“It beats anything I ever heard of,” exclaimed the rebel, who burst out
laughing every time he thought of it. “The idea that one county in the
very heart of the Southern Confederacy should cut loose from it and say
that they are Union men beats my time all holler. I told my father about
it—”

“Where is your father now?” interrupted Leon.

“He is in the rebel army.”

“Was he conscripted?”

“No. We didn’t wait for that, but we heard enough to let us know what
Jeff Davis was going to do. More than that, some of our neighbors began
to talk about hanging those who did not believe as they did to the
plates of their own gallery, and as we could get into the cavalry by
enlisting then, we rode down to the county-seat one day and gave our
names in.”

“Have you been in any fights?”

“Two or three; but, mind you, I always shot high. I never drew a bullet
on a Union man in my life. I live only three or four miles from where
you stopped us, and I really wish the authorities of Jones county would
give me permission to go back and get my mother.”

“Do you think your father would come up here after that?”

“Of course he would. We have done nothing but think and talk about what
you fellows are doing here ever since we have been in the army. There
was a distinct understanding between my father and myself that whoever
escaped first should bring my mother here.”

“Well, Mr.— Mr.—,” began Leon.

“Dawson is my name,” said the rebel.

“If you turn out to be all right I will go with you,” said Leon.

“Will you?” exclaimed the rebel, so highly excited that he could hardly
speak plainly. “I know we will succeed, for you have been in fights
enough to know what it means.”

“I don’t understand you,” said Leon. “This is as near as I have come to
being in a fight.”

“What! Capturing our wagon-train? You don’t tell me! Well, I have seen
men who had been in three or four battles that showed more nervousness
than you did. You were not excited a bit.”

Leon very wisely concluded that he would not say anything more on this
subject just then. He never was more excited in his life than when he
rode along the line and demanded the rebel’s weapons. If Dawson thought
he wasn’t excited, so much the better for him.

“I certainly thought you had been where you had seen men knocked down by
the cart-load,” said Dawson, looking at Leon to see what he was made of.
“I have been where I have seen a whole platoon laid out at one fire, but
I never go into action without feeling afraid. After this trouble is all
over I would like to compare notes with you.”

“To see how many times I am afraid?” asked Leon. “I don’t care to
compare notes with you on that, for I know I shall feel afraid all the
time. I’ve got one chum here who won’t haul in his shingle one inch to
please anybody, and we’ll ask him to go with us.”

“Two men are all we want,” said Dawson. “By the way, there was a friend
of mine deserted the camp night before last, and he stole the
wagon-master’s horse to help him along. I don’t suppose you have seen
anything of him, have you?”

“We have a rebel up to Ellisville, and he says that was the way he got
away. But his horse and weapons have been taken from him.”

“That’s all right. You wanted him to prove to you that he was true-blue
before you let him have his fire-arms. But he’s all hunky-dory. He told
you about this wagon-train? I never saw him in a fight with Federals
when he pretended to show any vim about it, but you give him rebels to
shoot at and you’ll hear something drop. He hasn’t got the smallest
sympathy for a Confederate. Why, they had him with a rope around his
neck, and were going to hang him.”

“He never said anything to us about that,” said Leon, in surprise.

“It happened on the very morning that father and I went down to enlist,”
said Dawson, “and the way they acted made us believe that when they got
through with him they were coming to see us. We rushed into his house
and did some good talking to save the man’s neck, and when they let him
go he got onto his horse and went down to the county-seat with us. But
didn’t he give the rebels a good blessing!”

“He could say what he had a mind to in your presence, I suppose?”

“Yes, sir; and he laid down the law in good shape, I tell you. There are
six men he wants to find, and they are the men who had the rope around
his neck. What are you going to do with the prisoners you capture in
battle?”

“I am sure I don’t know,” said Leon, with a laugh. “We haven’t got any
yet.”

“You haven’t been in a fight yet? How many men have you?”

“We had about three hundred fighting men, but first one Union family has
come in, and then another, until we have a thousand men able to bear
arms. Father said that about three hundred fighting men were all we had
when this war broke out about a year ago, but they have been coming in
from all sides. One man I know here has come from the mountains of
Tennessee. I tell you we are going to make a good fight if the rebels
get after us.”

“I believe you; and these men you have now won’t be a patching to what
you will have by and by. But say,” added Dawson, as they drew up in the
rear of the cavalry, “do you really think you will be able to go with me
to get my mother?”

“That depends entirely on what my father says. If he continues to let me
do as I please, as he always has done, I’ll go with you. There is no
chance of being captured down there, I suppose?”

“Not in the least. Mobile is their nearest headquarters, and we can slip
in there and get away again without any one being the wiser for it. It
can be done just as easy as falling off a log.”

“Well, you stay here and I will go on and ride by my father. I will tell
him about you and see what he has to say.”

Leon turned out and hurried on ahead to meet his father, who was riding
alone in advance of the column, with his hat drawn over his eyes, as if
he were thinking deeply. When he saw who the new-comer was he pushed
back his hat, and beamed upon him with a smile that reminded the boy of
old times.

“I tell you, father, you have done one good act in capturing this
train,” said Leon. “What were you thinking of?”

“Oh, there are lots of things to come after this,” said Mr. Sprague. “We
have got to whip the rebels in order to keep the train. Where’s your
horse?”

“The owner has got him;” and taking this as his starting-point, Leon
went on to give his father as much of the history of Dawson as he was
acquainted with. When he told about the rebels having a rope around the
neck of that man in camp his father was hardly prepared to believe it.

“But do you think the man honest?” asked Mr. Sprague.

“I know he is. No boy could talk as feelingly of his mother as he did
and tell a lie about it. Now, if you will let me go down there and bring
his family up here, we will make two good soldiers by the operation.”

“We will see about it when the time comes,” said Mr. Sprague.

That was enough for Leon, who reined his horse out of the road and
halted until Dawson came up. Somehow he had taken a great fancy for the
young rebel. There was something so honest about him that Leon put
strong faith in everything he said. He drew up beside Dawson, and the
latter’s face grew more radiant than ever when Leon said that his father
would “see about it.”

“That is as good as saying that I may go, if something doesn’t turn up
in the meantime. Now, the next thing will be to get Tom to go with us. I
shall feel a heap better with him alongside of me.”

It was a long journey toward Ellisville, and the mules walked so slowly
that it was almost midnight when they got there. Following the
instructions of Mr. Sprague, the wagons were drawn up in a park in the
grove, the mules were watered at the river and staked out where they had
plenty of food, and the men left of their own accord and went to bed.
There was no posting of sentries about the wagons to see that some
backwoodsman did not slip up there to steal anything, for such a thing
as theft was never heard of in that county. They knew that the things
would be in the wagons in the morning in just as good shape as they were
then. When Leon and Dawson, after hitching their horses and foddering
them, turned to go to the opposite side of the grove, the place where
that rebel was under guard, they came across Tom Howe, who had his coat
off and was building a fire.

“Why, Tom, come with us,” said Leon. “I am going to get something to eat
before I go to bed.”

“Well, sir, you can go and get it, for you are one of these hungry
fellows who always want something,” replied Tom. “Do you see that muel?
I ain’t a-going to take my eyes off of him until your father gives him
into my possession.”

“You haven’t had any supper, have you?”

“Nary supper. And I ain’t a-going to have any, either, until I get that
there muel in my hands.”

“You can come back here and sleep. Tom, this is Dawson, whom I want you
to be friends with. He was in that squad, but he gave up his horse and
weapons to me without being asked.”

The moment Leon referred to Dawson Tom put his hands behind his back as
if he didn’t want to say how glad he was to see him. Leon noticed the
movement and went on with something which he knew would bring Tom to his
senses. Tom had a mother, his father was dead, and he fairly worshipped
her.

“He is going down after his mother, and I am going, too. And we want you
to go with us.”

“Howdy!” exclaimed Tom, and his hands came out and he shook Dawson as if
he was a friend from whom he had long been separated. “Then he’s all
right, of course. I’ll go, but you must get my muel for me.”

The boys bent their steps toward the hotel, for they knew that the
landlord was a man who was determined to do what he could to help along
the cause. He knew that at least a portion of the men who had gone out
to capture that wagon-train had no place to get anything to eat, and he
cooked up a lot of food for them, and had it spread out on his
dining-room tables. He had remained up all night, and the noise the men
made when they returned almost drove him wild.

“Who said those who took part with us in this useless struggle would go
hungry?” said he, standing on the porch, and welcoming the men as they
came up, and sending them all into the dining-room. “Ah! here’s Leon and
Tom Howe, I declare. Where did you get shot, boys? And a rebel, as sure
as I am a foot high. Where did you take him up?”

“I am a rebel no longer,” replied Dawson. “In spite of my clothes I am
as good a Union man as there is in the county.”

“You are just the lads we want,” said the landlord. “Haven’t had
anything to eat yet? No dinner, either? Then go right into the
dining-room. You will find the President and the Secretary of War in
there.”

The boys went in and found the two officers sitting in a remote corner
engaged in earnest conversation. They talked in low tones, and it was
evident that they did not want anybody to hear what they were
discussing, so the boys sat down and began an attack upon the food. The
way the landlord’s bacon, eggs and corn-bread disappeared before them
would have astonished that gentleman could he have witnessed it. It made
no difference to them that the food was cold, for the coffee was hot,
and they finally stopped because they were ashamed to eat any more. By
the time they had finished eating their supper the two high officers
ceased their consultation, and Mr. Sprague hauled up a chair to the
nearest table and sat down. Leon decided that this was his time. Tom
Howe would certainly sleep better if he knew that the mule was his own.

“Father, there’s a white mule out there in the train, and Tom Howe wants
him.”

“Well, he can have him, I guess,” said Mr. Sprague. “Anybody else laid
any claim to him?”

“No, sir; Tom is the only one. And he has taken a mighty queer animal to
carry him through this war. He kicks.”

“Tom will have to manage that to suit himself. Why don’t he wait until
we can capture a horse?”

“Because he would rather have that mule than anything else.”

“Tell him to take him, and welcome.”

Leon found his companions in the living-room, and when he told them that
the Secretary of War had given Tom the mule he wanted, Tom was
delighted. He promised the others that he would get to work early in the
morning to break him of kicking, and wanted them to come over and see
how it was done, and then turned away to his own camp, while Leon and
Dawson started out to find the camp of the rebel who was kept under
guard.

“There’s his lean-to right there,” said Leon, after walking some
distance up the road. “Do you see any comparison between that sentry and
the ones you left behind? I mean, do they sit down and warm themselves
by a fire when they are left on duty?”

“Not much, they don’t,” answered Dawson, with a laugh. “If you had our
officer of the day here he would snatch that fellow bald-headed. He
ought to get up, hold his arms at support and pace his beat.”

“Who is it that the officer of the day is going to snatch bald-headed?”
asked the sentry. He sat on a log with his rifle beside him, and he was
warming his hands over the fire. He seemed to think that he could see
everything that was going on, and he thought that was all that was
required of him.

“The officer of the rebel army, if there was one here, would take you to
task for not pacing your beat,” said Leon.

“Sho! What would he do that for?” asked the man. “That rebel hasn’t
moved in there without my seeing him, and he can’t get away. Say,
Johnny, are you asleep?”

“No; I am wide awake,” shouted a voice from the inside. “I wanted to see
the men that came back with that wagon-train. Well—halloo! Dawson,”
exclaimed the rebel, who, when he came out, caught sight of his old
comrade in arms. “You’re here, ain’t you?”

The two men shook hands as though they had not seen each other for
years. Dawson then explained how the capture was effected, and the
rebel’s eyes fairly flashed as he listened to it. When he ceased
speaking the rebel asked permission for Dawson to come under his lean-to
and share his blankets with him, and as the sentry did not find any
fault Leon readily granted it. When he had seen the two tuck themselves
away preparatory to a good sleep and had exchanged a few words with
their guard, Leon turned about and made the best of his way to the
hotel.



                              CHAPTER VII.
                           BREAKING THE MULE.


What Mr. Sprague was talking about when Leon and his companions went in
to eat their suppers was whether or not it would be a good plan to send
a party of cavalrymen, say a dozen or more, down to the little creek
that separated the two counties to bring them warning of a Confederate
force which was coming to subdue them; for Mr. Sprague was certain that
those men would be along before a great while. The rebels were not the
men to stand still and allow themselves to be robbed of $500,000.

“Their scouts will be a long ways ahead of the main body, and by the
time they get here we can be safe in the swamp,” said Mr. Sprague. “The
cavalrymen are all good shots, and by the time they get through with one
fire there won’t be so many of them to follow up our men.”

“They will shoot them down, I suppose?” said Mr. Knight.

“Of course they will have to take their chances on that. While all the
rest of them are asleep one of them can be standing guard.”

“I think it would be a good plan. We’ll send cavalrymen down there every
morning to relieve them. Perhaps you had better detail some guards for
to-morrow morning. But do you say you captured that train without firing
a shot?”

“It is the truth,” said Mr. Sprague. “One of the soldiers said it was
the prettiest surprise he every saw. The men were all prompt, and they
obeyed my whistle just like clock-work.”

The next morning when Leon awoke and stretched himself on the bench
which served him in lieu of a bed he felt like a new man. He was not
accustomed to spending so many hours in the saddle, his long ride of the
day before had wearied him, and when he went to slumber he “slept for
keeps,” as he expressed it. He got up, and, after washing his hands and
face, went out on the porch and saw a party of a dozen men gathered
about a tree a short distance away. There was a white mule in the party,
and three or four men were fussing around her.

“Tom has got to work to break the ‘muel,’ as lie calls it, from
kicking,” said Leon, “and I am going down to see how it is done. He
thinks he has got a prize there, and I hope he has.”

When Leon got up with the crowd he found that the mule had been securely
fastened to a tree, and that there were two men engaged in holding her
head up. You may have noticed that when a mule wants to kick she always
puts her head down, and by holding her head up it was impossible for her
to kick Tom, who, by bringing her tail around by her side, was busy in
tying a stone that weighed two or three pounds, and was wrapped up in a
thick rag so that it would not bruise her heels, fast to the end of it.
Leon saw through the plan at once, and he laughed heartily.

“There, now, I reckon we’re all right,” said Tom, as he took a finishing
knot in the string with which the stone was tied. “Kick, now, and we
will see how you will come out. Let go her head, boys.”

When Tom said this he raised the stone and let it down against the
mule’s heels with a sounding whack, and the men let go their hold and
backed away. In an instant you could not have told where that mule
belonged. Her heels were in the air all the time; but no matter how high
the stone went, it always came down, and the further it went, it came
back to its place and punished her heels severely. Sometimes she seemed
as if she would kick herself over her head, she stood up so straight.
The men stood around and laughed heartily, until the mule, after trying
in vain to rid herself of the contrivance, stopped her kicking and
turned around and looked at it. She seemed to know that it was fast to
her, and after looking first on one side and then on the other, and
trying with more energy than before to throw off the useless appendage,
which she knew did not belong there, she drew her haunches under her,
looked at Tom and broke out into a faint bray, as if begging him to take
it off.

“There, sir, she is done with her kicking for all time,” said one of the
men.

“Tom,” said Leon, “don’t go near her. You know how treacherous a mule
can be.”

The man promptly stepped up to the mule, undid the stone, lifted her
tail, and did other pranks which would have led even a mule who did not
know how to kick to lay back her ears.

“I said I would break her of kicking in less than two days, and we have
broken her in less than half an hour,” said Tom, gleefully. “Now watch
me and see me ride to camp.”

Tom mounted in regular Texas fashion, placing his left hand upon the
mule’s shoulder and throwing his right leg over her back, and with a
“G’lang there, muel!” went down the road at a furious pace. She loped
beautifully, and Tom wasn’t even moved, although he rode bare-back. Leon
was satisfied that he had got a prize, after all.

“Now all he wants is to go around that mule forty times a day, lifting
her tail and patting her, and she won’t kick him,” said the man who
undid the stone. “I just know, for I’ll bet on it.”

When Leon had seen the mule broken and Tom ride away, he turned his
steps toward the camp of the rebels to see how they were getting on.
There was another sentry on guard this time, and he was engaged in a
favorite occupation, sitting on a log with his rifle beside him, smoking
a cob pipe and warming his hands at the fire. The two rebels were
standing in the door of the lean-to, and they greeted Leon heartily.
After exchanging a few words with them Leon said:

“I am going to speak to father about you to-day, and I think he will let
you out. I am going home this morning, and I want Dawson to ride with
me.”

“If he lets me out I will go and be glad of the chance,” said Dawson.
“But what are you going home for?”

“To let my mother know that I shan’t be home to-night. I reckon we are
going down after your mother.”

“By George! That’s the best news I have heard since I have been a
prisoner,” exclaimed Dawson. “You will see father here in less than a
week, and you don’t want to let him get into any fight where the rebels
are. He don’t take any prisoners.”

Leon next bent his steps toward the hotel to get his breakfast. In the
living-room he met the landlord, who had three or four men around him,
and was talking gleefully of the manner in which the wagon-train had
been captured the day before.

“To think that our boys never fired a shot, and there were twenty-five
of them rebels who were hired to defend it,” said he. “Now here’s Leon,”
he added, taking the boy’s right hand in his own, throwing his left arm
around his shoulder, and affectionately drawing him up to his side. “Who
would think that this boy would watch over his father? He gets close up
to his side, and if anyone pops him over he is going to see about it.”

“You will have to get away from this place, Mr. Faulkner,” said Leon.
“Your house is right on the main road, and the first party of rebels who
come in here will set fire to it.”

“I know all about that,” said Mr. Faulkner, with a laugh. “I expect
everything I have got will go up in smoke. But you see they won’t burn
anything but the house. Your father is going to lend me some of the
wagons as soon as they are unloaded, and I am going to pile on
everything I have got and take them all up to the swamp. I should like
to see the rebels get them out of there.”

“So would I,” said Leon.

“I can’t give you as good a breakfast as I could once,” added Mr.
Faulkner. “Bacon, eggs, corn-bread and coffee—I am almost out of coffee,
now that I think of it. I shall be all out if you haven’t got some in
those wagons you captured yesterday. Go on and get your breakfast, the
whole of you. There’s many a better man than you and I dare be who is
living on worse food, and he’s just as good a Union man as though he
stood in our ranks.”

Leon went into the dining-room and found his father and Mr. Knight
sitting there by themselves, and he concluded that it was a good time to
talk to them about the rebels who were kept under guard.

“I have been thinking about them all the morning,” said Mr. Sprague,
when Leon had explained things to him, “and I don’t see the need of
keeping them under guard any longer; do you, Knight?”

“No, I don’t. I say let them out.”

“Well, I will go back with you and turn them loose,” said Mr. Sprague.
“That will be the way we’ll work it. As fast as any rebels come in here
and say they are on our side we’ll take their weapons and horses away
from them, if they have any, and hold them until they prove that they
are just as they should be.”

“Well, what do you say to my going down to Dawson’s house after his
mother?” said Leon.

“What do you think about it, Knight?”

“Why I say let the boy go. He has proved long ago that he knows how to
handle himself in a tight place; yesterday, for instance; and he will be
just as safe as he would be here in camp. By the way, Leon, we have
given your father a new title. He says the Secretary of War is too long
for him, and so we have promoted him to Colonel. He likes that better.
Maybe if you conduct yourself all right he will make you aid-de-camp.”

We are sorry to say that Mr. Knight did not pronounce this word
correctly, and if there had been some boys like you, who are fresh from
their books, they would have seen a good many other words whose spelling
bothered him. But he knew one thing that had evidently slipped the
President’s mind. If his father had been promoted to colonel, Leon
thought that was being promoted backwards. But then this thing would not
last more than a year or two, and it did not make much difference to him
what people said about it. He got no money for the position he held,
none of the officers got any, and he was willing to do what he could for
the sake of the county.

“I don’t care if my father never promotes me to anything,” said Leon.
“If he will let me stay close by him, so as to be on hand if anything
happens to him, I shall be satisfied.”

The party having finished their breakfast arose from the table at the
same time, and Mr. Sprague went out with Leon to call upon the rebels.
On the way he talked more plainly to Leon than he had ever done before.

“I shan’t appoint you aid-de-camp,” said Mr. Sprague.

“I know why,” said Leon. “If you should do a thing like that, the
fellows who are not as high in authority as you are would think that you
were giving me a place to keep me out of danger. I don’t want anybody to
think that of me.”

“Well, yes; that has something to do with it. But you would be in just
as much danger there as you would anywhere else. I don’t want you
hanging around me all the time. The men think you are doing it on
purpose to shield me.”

“I confess that that is what I was thinking of.”

“Don’t do it any more. Of course I shall be in the thickest of the
fight, if we have any, but I don’t want you to be there. That’s the
reason I am giving my consent to allow you to go down after Dawson’s
mother.”

“Do you say I may go?” exclaimed Leon, joyfully.

“Yes; but I want you first to let your mother know we are safe and what
is the reason we don’t come home.”

“I’ll go and get Tom and Dawson to go with me. By the way, Tom has got
his mule broken.”

“So that he won’t kick?” asked Mr. Sprague, in surprise.

“Yes, sir; and he broke him in less than half an hour.”

Leon then went on to tell how Tom had operated to break the mule, and
when he described her kicking he made his father laugh heartily. By this
time they had reached the lean to and found the two rebels enjoying
their breakfast. They arose to their feet as Mr. Sprague approached,
knowing that the Secretary of War had much authority over their
prisoners, but he motioned them to keep their seats. Even the sentry got
up, put down his plate—for the rebels had helped him most
bountifully—and held his rifle in a way that was intended to present
arms. But then the Secretary didn’t know whether the motion was properly
executed or not. He touched his hat, however, and after bidding the
rebels good-morning and lifting his hat once more out of respect to the
woman who sat at the head of the table, he turned again to the sentry.

“I would like to see all the men who are on guard with you,” said he.
“They are around here, I suppose?”

“Oh, yes, sir; they are around here,” said the sentry. Then lifting his
voice he called out: “All you guards turn out. The Secretary of War
wants you. Come a-lumbering!”

The men came in a hurry, three of them, some bareheaded, some swinging
on their bullet-pouches as they hastened through the bushes, and all
eager to see what the Secretary of War wanted. Like the good soldiers
they were, they concluded that there was some business to engage in, and
they were impatient to do it. But when they found out what he wanted
they were just as pleased, all the same. Mr. Sprague told them in so
many words that the rebels were all right, and from this time they were
released from all sentry duty. The rebels were just as free in their
camp as they were themselves.

“Colonel, I want to shake your hand for that,” said the owner of the
lean-to, and as he spoke he got up from the table and came out. “Now I
want all of you boys to understand one thing. You have done nothing but
call me ‘Johnny’ ever since I have been in camp, and now I want you to
stop it. My name is Roberts, and I am as good a Union man as the best of
you. If you don’t believe it, wait until we get into a fight and I will
show you.“

All this was said in a perfectly good-natured way, and the guards, on
being sent back to their lean-tos, promised that they would address him
as Roberts ever afterward. They had called him “Johnny” because they did
not know any other name for him.

“Now, Dawson, I am going to start for home,” said Leon. “Come with me
and I will get your horse and weapons for you.”

When Leon and Dawson turned away the former was surprised to see
standing at his side another boy, Newman by name, who was enough like
Carl Swayne to have been his brother, except in one particular. Newman
did not proclaim himself so much in favor of the secessionists as Carl
did, but in every other way, so far as meanness was concerned, they were
a good team. Leon was not the only one about there who believed that
Newman was a rebel at heart, and that if he had his way he would have
arrested every Union man in the county. He noticed that Newman did not
go with them when they assaulted the train—he had something else that
demanded his immediate attention; but he noticed, too, that when the
expedition came back Newman had as much to say as anybody. There was one
thing about Newman that did not look exactly right to Leon. In the early
part of the year, when there was a good deal of talk about the secession
of Jones county, this Newman’s father had piled all his worldly goods
into a one-horse wagon and started for Mobile; but in two months’ time
he came back. There was more fighting going on there than there was in
Jones county, he said, and as he was a man of peace and did not believe
in contests of any kind, he thought he and his family had better come
back and stay in their own house until the trouble was over. Mind you,
that was the story he told; whether or not it was the truth remains to
be seen.

“Well, Leon, we got ’em, didn’t we?” was the way in which Newman began
the conversation.

“Got whom?” inquired Leon, and he was not very civil about it, either.
He wished that Newman would keep to his own side of the walk and let him
alone.

“Why, the rebels, of course,” said Newman. “You have got one them with
you right now.”

“How many of them did you capture?” inquired Leon, poking his elbow into
Dawson’s ribs when he saw that he was about to reply.

“I captured one, but I let him go. You know the President said we wasn’t
going to take any prisoners.”

“Yes, I know. But what made you let him go?”

“Oh, he told me such a funny story about his wife being sick, and all
that, that I couldn’t bear to keep him captive. So I just told him to
clear out.”

“And you let him take his weapons with him?”

“Of course,” replied Newman; and then finding that Leon was getting onto
rather dangerous ground he changed the subject, for he had come there to
ask a favor. “Say, Leon, do you suppose that your father would give me
one of them muels that we captured yesterday? I reckon I’ve got as much
right to them as he has.”

“Well, I reckon you haven’t,” replied Leon, indignantly.

“Just because he’s a high officer, do you think he has more right to
property that we capture than them that takes it?” asked Newman, getting
mad in his turn. “He gave Tom Howe a muel, and Tom didn’t do any more
than I did.”

“What’s the use of telling such an outrageous falsehood? You was not
there. Did you see me?”

“Yes, I saw you.”

“What did I do? Did you see me when I ran from this man, and he followed
after me, swinging his sword in his hand?”

“Eh? Oh, yes, I saw you,” said Newman, looking surprised. “He came
pretty near catching you, too, and he would if that man hadn’t come up
and poked a revolver in his face. Who was that, do you know?”

“Well, Newman, I don’t believe you can get a mule to ride during this
war,” said Leon, once more turning his steps towards the hotel. “You see
Tom wants to do something with this mule, and you don’t. You simply want
him to ride around, and when the fight comes you will be miles away.
That is, if you are on our side at all,” said Leon to himself. “I
wouldn’t be afraid to bet that you will stay around here and lead the
rebels to our place of concealment.”

Newman thrust his hands into his pockets, pushed his hat on the back of
his head, and looked after Leon as he walked away with the rebel by his
side.

“I’ll bet that boy lied to me when he spoke of that fellow being after
him with a sword,” said he, “and that he ever run from him a step. I am
no good for a spy. I haven’t got my wits about me. But his father will
give me one of those mules or I’ll know the reason why. It is most time
for the rebels to come up here, and when they do come, my fine lad, I’ll
have that horse of yours.”

“Who is that fellow, anyway?” asked Dawson, after they had left Newman
behind. “You don’t seem to like him very well.”

“Neither would you if you knew him as well as I do,” replied Leon. “Ever
since I got into a scrape with those logs that fellow has been down on
me, and said he didn’t see why I should come out all right when other
men had lost their lives in attempting the same thing.”

“You don’t bear him any ill-will for that, I hope?” said Dawson. “He
didn’t dare do it, although I don’t know what danger you got into.”

“I ran out on the logs and started a jam, and Tom Howe fell into the
water and I saved him. But that isn’t what I have against him,” said
Leon. “You see, Newman’s father has never said where he stood. When he
came back to this county, and found that we were in earnest in
threatening to secede, then he wanted an office, but the men were too
sharp to give it to him.”

“Ah! that’s the trouble, is it? Let him go in and serve as a private.
That’s what my father and I intend to do.”

“But he don’t want to serve as a private. He wants the position that
father holds, so that he can boss around the men and have nothing else
to do. Father would give it to him in a minute if he thought he was able
to fill it, but you see he don’t. And mind you, I don’t say this out
loud, but I believe it to be so, he says if he can’t be an officer he
will betray us all.”

“Ho-ho!” said Dawson, while a gleam of intelligence shot across his
face. “He is going to turn Benedict Arnold, is he? By gracious! You
fellows have something to contend with, haven’t you? A spy! Well, let
him come on and see how much he will make by it.”

“Now, don’t say that out loud,” said Leon earnestly, “for I don’t know
that it is so. I only judge him by his actions. Now, here’s the place
where your weapons were left. We’ll go up and see the President.”

“I don’t look fit to go into the President’s office,” said Dawson,
looking down at his clothes. “I want to get home and see my wardrobe, so
that I can get some clothes more befitting my station in life.”

“O come on,” said Leon, with a hearty laugh. “Ten to one you will find
the President with a pair of jean breeches on, and a pair of cowhide
boots. He is like all the rest of us, but then he will be glad to see
you, for you were a rebel once.”

“There’s where you make a mistake,” said Dawson. “I never was a rebel,
although I wear the clothes. Introduce me as a Union man forced into the
rebel army.”

At this moment Leon opened the door that gave entrance into the office
of the high dignitary of Jones county, where they found him leaning back
in his chair and conversing with three or four men. He was just such a
man as Leon said he was—to the manor born. He didn’t act as though he
considered himself better than other men simply because he was
President. Dawson took off his hat, while the other men did not remove
theirs. He followed Leon to a corner in which several stand of fire-arms
were stowed, and assisted him in picking out his own weapons. Leon gave
him the sword and revolver, and motioned him to buckle them around him,
while with the carbine in his hand he approached the President’s chair.
When he got through talking with the men he looked up to see what Leon
had to say.

“Mr. Knight, here’s a good man I have got for us,” said he. “His name is
Dawson, and although he wears the rebel uniform, he is as much of a
Union man as anyone here.”

“Howdy, Dawson,” said the President, nodding his head, “So you are
coming over to side with us, are you?”

“Yes, sir,” said Dawson. “I was obliged to go into the rebel ranks to
escape being hung.”

“He wants his horse and his weapons, too,” added Leon. “Father says he
is all right.”

“Let him have them,” said the President.

Leon promptly handed over the carbine. “He wants to go home to-night to
get his mother,” said he. “There are two of us, myself and Tom Howe,
going with him.”

“I heard all about it from your father,” said Mr. Knight. “Now, be
careful of yourself, Leon. If you should get captured it would drive the
first colonel I have got crazy.”

The boy promised that he would look out for himself, and, with a salute
from Dawson, they opened the door and went down the stairs. They saw
that Mr. Sprague had already hitched the mules to the wagons and hauled
them down in front of the hotel where they could be examined by all the
principal men of the county. Before they had taken many steps they saw
Newman walk up to the Secretary of War and accost him.



                             CHAPTER VIII.
                          REBELS IN THE REAR.


“What did I tell you?” said Leon, turning to his companion. “Newman is
going to strike father for one of those mules. Let us go up and see how
he comes out.”

“I don’t think I ought to give you a mule, Newman,” said Mr. Sprague, as
Leon and Dawson approached within hearing distance. “You were not with
us at all, yesterday.”

Newman glanced at Leon and saw there was one lie nailed, but he had
become so accustomed to being caught that way that he hardly changed
color. He thrust his hands into his pockets, looked up the road toward
the lean-tos, and said:

“Well, you see one of our cows had strayed away and I was afraid she
might not come up, so I went into the woods to find her.”

“And you thought that cow was of more use to the county than stopping
the train, did you?”

“It was of more use to us, ’cause, you see, we wouldn’t have had any
milk to put in our coffee.”

“And you have milk in your coffee every day, do you? That’s more than I
have, and I have eight or nine cows on my place.”

“Well, can I have the mule? That’s what I want to know.”

“No, I don’t think you can.”

“You have given one to Tom Howe and never asked him what he was going to
do with it,” said Newman, hotly.

“But I knew what Tom was going to do with his mule before I gave it to
him. Whenever we get ready to go out and capture a train Tom will be on
hand, and that’s more than I can say in regard to you.”

“Then you won’t give me the mule?”

“No, I can’t. You will have to go to somebody else and get one. It is
Government property that comes into my hands, and I am bound to take the
best of care of it.”

“I’ll get even with you for this some way or another,” said Newman,
starting to walk off.

“Newman,” said Mr. Sprague, sternly, “come back here.”

“Well, now, when I come back you just blow a horn to let me know it,
will you?” replied Newman, still continuing on his way.

“If I ask you once more I shall put you under arrest,” said Mr. Sprague.
“I am not in the habit of giving orders twice.”

While he was speaking there were certain other parties, who had arrived
with a wagon, who happened to overhear the conversation that passed
between Mr. Sprague and Newman. They dropped whatever they were about
and came up to see about it, for one of the disputants had got so angry
that he raised his voice a good deal above its natural key. One of them
was Bud McCoy, the man who had threatened to burn Mr. Swayne’s house
before he got out of it. He did not like Newman any too well, for he
believed that the young man was more in favor of secessionists than he
was of the Union men.

“Come back here, you scoundrel!” said Bud, shaking his fists in the
other’s face.

“Oh, now, Bud, you haven’t anything to do with it,” said Newman, and he
retraced his steps very slowly.

“Come faster than that,” said Bud, tucking up his shirt-sleeves. “I will
show you that I have something to do with it.”

“I will tell my father what you are doing up here, and perhaps he will
think we had better go back to Mobile,” said Newman.

“Well, go back to Mobile. You belong there among the rebels more’n you
do among these Union men. Your father has not got anything to do with
this business. We’ve been talking about playing soldier for a long time,
and now that we have got a constitution we are going to act. You’ll see
that there is a big difference between the two.”

“One moment, Bud,” said Mr. Sprague, when he saw that Newman had been
frightened sufficiently to put a little sense into him. “You may not
have been aware of the fact,” he added, addressing himself to Newman,
“but you were treating me in a way that I don’t like when you refused to
come back here. Perhaps I have more authority in this county than you
think for. You talked about getting even with me. How are you going to
do it?”

“I was only fooling,” said Newman. “I didn’t mean nothing by it.”

“Well, hereafter, when you feel aggrieved by an officer, don’t say that
you will get even with him in some way. That looks to me as though you
had something on your mind.”

“I haven’t; I haven’t, honor bright,” said Newman, wondering if Mr.
Sprague knew anything further. There had been talk between his father
and some of the rebel officers who had their quarters in Mobile in
regard to betraying all the chief men of the Jones-County Confederacy
into their hands, and this was one reason that brought him back there.
But Newman didn’t suppose that anybody but his own family knew anything
about it.

“It looks mighty suspicious,” continued Mr. Sprague. “But I can’t give
you that mule. It is not my business, anyway. It belongs to the
quartermaster’s department, and he is the man you must see.”

Mr. Sprague turned on his heel and went away to inspect one of the
wagons, and Leon and Dawson continued their walk toward Roberts’
lean-to. To say that Leon was surprised to hear his father talk in this
way would not express his feelings.

“I tell you your father can’t be too strict when it comes to the pinch,”
said Dawson. “I didn’t know he had so much in him. Well, you see he is
high in authority, and it won’t do to let ordinary men talk to him as
that Newman did. Say, that fellow knew something he did not want to
speak about.”

“That’s my idea exactly,” said Leon. “I’ll keep watch on him, and if I
find anything out of the way with him I’ll arrest him and take him
before father.”

“If you do that he’ll shoot him.”

“My gracious! Has it come to that?” exclaimed Leon, astonished beyond
measure.

“Of course it has. I have seen three men shot to death because they
tried to desert the army, and you have got to come down to that way of
doing business here. You will have to be stricter, too, than they are in
the army, for you have got less power to back you up. Oh, you’re not
going to have a picnic, I’ll tell you that.”

Leon was thunderstruck, for he did not believe that such things could
take place in Jones county. While he was thinking about it they came up
with Roberts, who had borrowed a mule to take the place of the one that
had dropped dead during his rapid flight, and was engaged in packing
things into his wagon. He said he was going deeper into the swamp.

“You see these houses are right on the main road, and the rebels who
come in will come from Perry county,” said he. “I don’t propose to have
what things I own burned up, and so I am going to take them where it
will cost the Confederates some trouble to get at them.”

“Well, say, Mr. Roberts, what do you suppose they would do to you if
they should succeed in getting their hands on you?” asked Leon.

“I deserted to the enemy, didn’t I?” asked Roberts.

“Yes, you did.”

“And I had my rebel clothes on when I left their camp?”

Leon nodded; and Roberts, after looking at him a moment, made a turn of
a rope around his neck, drew it up with his left hand and allowed his
head to fall over on one side.

“That’s what they would do with me,” said Roberts, with a laugh. “I
don’t suppose they would shoot me, but they must catch me first. I’m not
going to be taken prisoner. And Dawson, there, would come in for
something of the kind.”

Dawson smiled and said he well knew what was coming if he allowed
himself to be taken prisoner, and thrust out his hand, adding:

“Well, I don’t suppose I shall see you again until we get into our first
fight. I am going after my mother to-night.”

“So-long, old boy, and remember and don’t let those Graybacks get a grip
on you.”

“I’ll stay right there on the field until I drop,” said Dawson,
earnestly. “You’ll never hear of my being hung.”

They turned off to find their horses, after which they drew a bee-line
for Tom’s camp. Leon didn’t have much to say. When men like Dawson and
Roberts could talk as they did about falling into the hands of their old
comrades, it made him feel kind of anxious. And if they would serve the
deserters that way, what would they do with him? He was a traitor to the
cause of Southern independence, everybody on the Pascagoula river from
the swamps down knew who he was, and if he should unfortunately fall
into the hands of the Confederates a captive, they would without a doubt
hang him without giving him any trial at all. He had never been able to
look at it in this light before, and it made him feel rather desperate.
But here was a fellow who would take ample revenge for his death if such
a thing should happen. It was Tom Howe, who, when they found him, was
sitting at the foot of a tree, and he had just been disposing of a
substantial breakfast which somebody had provided for him.

“Halloo, Leon! And you, Dawson, halloo!” said Tom, getting upon his
feet. “Well, if you are going home now I am going with you. I have been
around that muel forty times, as that man told me to, petting her and
fooling in various ways, and she never offered to kick me. But what’s
the matter with you, Leon? You act as though your last friends had been
gobbled up by the rebels.”

“Well, they haven’t been gobbled up yet, but I am just thinking of what
would happen to them if they were gobbled,” said Leon. “Do you know what
they would do with you if they caught you?”

“Hang me, I suppose. But you see, Leon, these swamps are mighty big.”

“But you are going right among them to-night.”

“Oh, no,” said Dawson, quickly. “We’ll not see a rebel from the time we
leave here until we get back. I’m not going to get you in any fuss. If I
thought there was a chance I wouldn’t go myself.”

“But we are liable to be mistaken, you know.”

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” said Dawson. “I’ll ride on ahead, and the
first glimpse I see of anything suspicious I’ll warn you. You certainly
will not be captured in that way.”

Tom struck up a whistle, as if to show how much he cared what the rebels
might think it worth while to do, and went to work about the mule as
though he had always owned her, strapped a piece of gunny-sack to serve
in lieu of a saddle, felt his revolvers to make sure that they were
safe, and then announced that he was ready. Their ride would have been
gloomy enough, for they did not meet a single person on the way, had it
not been for Dawson, who was fairly alive with stories. He was two or
three years older than Leon, but, like all boys who had lived much
out-of-doors, he was almost big enough to be considered a man. He was
young enough in his boyish tastes and habits to be hail-fellow with Leon
and Tom, and reckless enough to add a spice of danger to everything he
engaged in. They did not think they had been on their way a great while
before the plantation-house was in view. Leon did not see anybody about.
The doors of the negro quarters were closed, and so were the rear doors
of the house; and even the pickaninnies, who were usually the first to
welcome him when he rode up to the bars, were nowhere in sight.

“I wonder what’s been going on here?” said Leon, involuntarily sinking
his voice to a whisper. “There are more people than this in the house.”

“I should say there ought to be,” said Tom. “We haven’t seen any, yet.”

“If it was a little nearer the lower end of the county I should say that
some rebels had been calling here,” said Dawson, in an anxious tone of
voice. “I have seen many a house look that way.”

Filled with forebodings, Leon hurried on until he came opposite the
front bars, and on the way he saw a man lying down behind a log with a
rifle in his hand, and it was pointed toward the other bank of the
stream, which here ran through Mr. Sprague’s property. The moment the
topmost bars rattled the front door opened and his mother came out on
the porch. Thank goodness she was safe.

“Why, mother, what’s up?” cried Leon, throwing himself off his horse and
rushing up the steps with arms spread out. “When I saw the house closed
I supposed something had happened.”

“Something has happened,” replied his mother; and although her face was
very pale, her tightly-closed lips and the way in which her hands
trembled showed that she was trying to keep down some rising emotion.
“The rebels are at it already.”

“At what?” asked Leon, while the other boys got up close to her to hear
what she had to say.

“There have been two men over on the other side of the creek, and they
have got a complete map made out of all the streams and the places where
they are fordable,” said his mother.

“Why, how did you find it out?” asked Leon.

“One of the darkies discovered them, and I slipped out very quietly and
told Mr. Giddings of it.”

“Wasn’t it lucky that I brought Giddings here? I knew I was proposing a
good thing when I advised him to come. Well, what did Giddings do?”

“He took down his rifle and shot one of the men,” said Mrs. Sprague, at
the same time clinging to Leon as if she were afraid that the ghost of
the slain man might come back. “This war is going to be a horrible
thing. I wouldn’t see the thing happen again for all the money the
United States is worth. It was the first thing of the kind I ever saw
done—”

“Why did you stay here and look at it?” asked Leon. “How did he know
that he had a map? What made him shoot him, in the first place?”

“Well, he was acting very sly, making use of every tree and stump to
cover him, so Mr. Giddings thought he would shoot them both. He went
over there in our boat and got the man, and he is out there now in one
of our negro cabins. And he hadn’t any more than brought him over here
before the other fellow shot at him.”

“He didn’t hit him, I suppose?”

“No; but he made the bullet sing pretty close to his head.”

“I reckon that Giddings had better stay here to-night and protect you,”
said Leon, after thinking a moment. “I am not coming home to-night, and
neither is father. We had some work day before yesterday,” he added, as
if trying to draw her away from the melancholy event she had witnessed.
“We captured forty wagons without firing a shot. Here’s a man who was
with them. Mother, let me introduce Mr. Dawson. He is going back into
the country for his mother to-night, and wants Tom and me to go with
him.”

Mrs. Sprague smiled for the first time, shook Dawson by the hand, said
she was glad to see him on the Union side if he did wear those clothes
on his back, and then she turned to Tom Howe, who had just come in from
hitching the horses.

“As those rebels didn’t fire a shot at you the other day you don’t know
how it feels,” said Mrs. Sprague.

“Who? Me? No, ma’am. I just covered a driver’s head with my rifle and
told him to hold up his hands, and he put them into his pockets and
brought out his revolvers, which he handed to me. There they are,” said
Tom, putting his hands behind him and bringing out a pistol in each.
“You see Leon had a revolver and I had none, and I just put these into
my clothes and said nothing about it. If I am going to be a soldier I’ll
soon learn how to steal as well as anybody.”

“Let’s go out there and see what Giddings is doing,” said Leon. “Mother,
can you get us up some dinner? We have a long way to ride to-night, and
we want to give our horses a little rest after we get back to
Ellisville.”

His mother said that dinner would be ready by the time he wanted it, and
Leon walked around the house toward the place he had seen Giddings lying
in ambush, followed by his companions. Giddings was on his feet now, and
was standing behind a corn-crib, looking cautiously around the corner of
it.

“Howdy, Leon?” he exclaimed, when he saw the boys approaching. “You had
better get something between you and the woods over there, for that chap
is a tolerable fair shot. I don’t like the way he sent his bullet
a-flying past my head.”

“He didn’t hit you, though,” said Leon, as the boys drew up beside the
mountaineer from Tennessee. They kept an eye on the woods, but all
danger from that source had passed. The rebel who had been left alive
had taken advantage of the bushes, crawled among them until he was out
of sight, and so got himself safe off.

“And the only reason he didn’t make a better shot was because he had a
revolver,” said Giddings. “I tell you, Leon, we are going to have
trouble now. Those fellows are making a map of this whole country.”

“Perhaps they are looking, too, for that wagon-train we stole from
them,” said Leon. “There were forty wagons in the lot, and we captured
the last one of them.”

“Sho!” exclaimed Giddings in disgust. “And I wasn’t there to help. But
let’s go in and look at that man. Perhaps you know who he is.”

The boys followed the man into the negro cabin with slight quakings of
conscience, all except Dawson, who had seen so many dead men that he
thought nothing of it. He lay there on the floor covered with a blanket,
never to move again in this life, with bushy black whiskers spread all
down his breast, and dressed in a uniform that had a couple of bars on
the collar. He was a fine-looking man, and Leon was wondering how many
hearts would break when they heard of his death.

“I hit him right in the heart,” said Giddings, pointing out the mark of
his bullet on his coat with as much indifference as he would have shown
if it had been a deer instead of a man that was stretched out before
him. “Know him, any of you?”

“No, he is a stranger to me. I think the best thing you can do, Mr.
Giddings,” said Leon, reverently spreading the blanket over the dead
man’s face again, “is to stay here and keep an eye on mother. I didn’t
think the rebels would ever trouble her up here.”

“Did you steal much of them?” asked Giddings.

Leon replied that to the best of his knowledge it was pretty near half a
million dollars’ worth.

“A half a million? Pshaw! They will be all over this county looking for
them goods, and you will have to go deeper into the swamp to be rid of
them. When the rebels come they won’t leave a shingle of this house that
you can use. They will burn them all.”

“Where’s the map he made out?”

“Your mother has got that, and his weapons, too. Yes, I guess the best
thing I can do is to stay here. There may be some more of these
Confederates where these came from.”

Leon went out, spent a few moments in exchanging compliments with
Giddings’ wife, who was very comfortably settled in her new quarters,
and went into the house to ask his mother for the map the rebel had
made. While the dinner was being made ready the boys spent their time in
looking it over. They were astonished to find all the streams, as far up
as he had time to go, were correctly drawn, and still more amazed to see
that the little creek which marked the boundary-line between their
county and Perry, which was so deep at the place where the bridge
extended across it, could be forded in five different localities.

“That man must have been a civil engineer,” said Dawson. “No one,
without he had some knowledge of the business, could go over those
streams in the short time he has and make such a complete map of them.”

At the end of half an hour the boys had eaten their dinner and were well
on their way toward Ellisville, Leon having the map, for which the man
in the rebel army had given his life, safely stowed away in one of his
pockets. He wasn’t as happy now as he was when he came that way before.
Dawson’s stories of his adventures had made him a little reckless, and
he felt as though he would like to go through some of them himself; but
unfortunately it did not come to him in quite that way. Here was his
mother liable to see more adventures than he was, and how did he know
but a squad of rebel cavalry would come down on her, kill her guard and
carry her off to some Southern prison-pen? Another thing, the Union men
had been very careful to hold a force on the main road which extended
into Perry county, so as to meet the Confederate troops when they came
there, and now the rebels had been at work operating in their rear. It
told Leon that they had got something to do before they could establish
their independence.

“I know what you are thinking of, Leon,” said Dawson. “I don’t care how
strongly a place is fortified or how closely it is watched, the enemy
will get in and make a map of it. They know right where the strongest
works are, and all about it.”

“What do they do with a man they catch making those maps?”

“That depends. If he is in citizens’ clothes they take him and shut him
up; but if he is in uniform, then it’s good-bye, John.”

“Do they shoot him?”

“No; they hang him just as surely as they can get their hands upon him.
So you see that that rebel up to your house got what he deserved. He
knew what was going to happen to him in case he was caught, and he would
rather be shot than hung.”

Before the boys had gone a great way on their road to Ellisville they
met a party of perhaps a hundred men, some with an axe on one shoulder
and a rifle on the other, accompanied by three or four wagons loaded
with their household furniture. They were going up into the swamp to
build boats, so that their families would not be cut off when the time
came for them to retreat.

“The President sent us, but I don’t look for much trouble up here,” said
the leader of the party, leaning on his rifle. “But then it is well to
be on the safe side.”

“Don’t fool yourselves,” said Leon. “The rebels won’t come along the
main road.”

“Sho! How do you know?”

“Because they have got men around in your rear working at maps, and all
that sort of thing,” said Leon. “Here’s a map that was taken off a dead
rebel this morning.”

As Leon produced the book the men crowded around in eagerness to see it.
They looked at it in surprise, but they little thought it was a plan
that would lead the attacking force miles behind them, and that when
they turned they would find five hundred men in front of them, and that
they could drive them pell-mell across the little stream before spoken
of, and into the hands of another Confederate party who were concealed
there in the bushes waiting for them. It was a scheme to clean out the
Union party at one fell swoop, and nothing but Leon’s going home that
morning saved them from it.

“There’s the little creek right there which divides our county from
Perry,” said Leon, pointing it out with his riding-whip, “and that map
shows that it is fordable in five different places—above and below the
bridge.”

“Well, sir, it’s amazing how he got all the little streams down there in
the little time that he has had,” said the leader. “Who shot this
rebel?”

“Mr. Giddings. He is lying in one of father’s negro cabins. I tell you
this that you need not be caught napping,” said Leon, putting the book
where it belonged. “There may be more rebels where these came from, and
you don’t want to let them see what you are doing. Good-bye, and good
luck to you.”

Ellisville was livelier now than they had ever seen it, except on the
day of the convention. There were men scattered all over it, but the
greatest number of them were around the hotel. All the chief men were
there inspecting the wagons to see what there was in them, and as fast
as one wagon was found to contain provisions it was pushed off on one
side, to be hitched up directly and taken away into the swamp. It seemed
strange that when one of them had been doing such good work, and when
all the men about him were so deeply interested in what was going on
before them, that there was one among them who ached for an opportunity
to “throw it all into the ditch.” It was Newman. He was waiting to see
the quartermaster. He was going to get a mule if he could; if not, he
was “going to bust up the whole thing.”



                              CHAPTER IX.
                          A NIGHT EXPEDITION.


“Who do you report to?” asked Dawson, as, following Leon’s example, he
pulled his horse up to a halt.

“What do I want to report to anybody for?” asked Leon. These things were
entirely new to him, and he had a good many formalities to learn.

“Why, it is the rule that you must report to the men who sent you away,
in order that they may know when you got back.”

“Oh! Then I suppose I ought to report to father. He is busy now, but as
soon as I can get his ear I’ll tell him about this map. Now, Tom, you
and Dawson go back to your camp, and stay there till I come. We’ll make
that our headquarters until we get ready to go away.”

But Mr. Sprague was not so very busy that he could not take a little
time to listen to Leon. The last two wagons were loaded with clothing,
and he told the person who officiated as quartermaster that it would be
proper for him to call up any of the men who needed something to wear,
adding:

“There are rebel uniforms in there, and I expect the men won’t want to
wear them, but it can’t be helped. I know I shouldn’t want to take off
my clothes and put on a gray jacket. Well, Leon, how did you find your
mother? No Confederates been near her, I suppose?”

Mr. Sprague opened his eyes in surprise when he received a warning
gesture from Leon, but he followed him off on one side, out of reach of
everybody. The boy then began a hurried account of what had transpired
at his house, showed him the map, and told how he had left Giddings
there to keep an eye on his mother. To his surprise his father never
changed his countenance at all. He listened to Leon’s recital with the
same apparent unconcern that he would have received any ordinary piece
of news.

“Now, father, what are you going to do about this?” said Leon, in
conclusion. “It looks to me as though the rebels were getting up
something, and the first thing we know they will be after us.”

“I don’t know what I shall do about it yet,” said Mr. Sprague. “I shall
want to see Knight about it first. Now, as you are going into foreign
parts to-night—”

“Why, I am not going away,” exclaimed Leon. “I am only going into Perry
county.”

“Well, that is a foreign country. That is what the rebels call the
United States, and head all their news as ‘foreign intelligence.’ What’s
the reason that we can’t so designate a county which they claim? You are
going into Perry county to help Dawson bring his mother up here, and I
must instruct you how to pass the sentries.”

“Have you got some sentries out?” inquired Leon.

“We’ve got ten men down by that bridge, but this map you have shown me
proves that they won’t do much good there. Now, when you come up with
them—”

Mr. Sprague took this as his starting-point, and went on to tell Leon
just what he must do when he passed the sentries. It was new business to
him, and he must be very careful how he acted. He must not attempt to
run by them—Mr. Sprague thought that Dawson was rather careless, and was
afraid he might do something to draw the sentries’ fire—but must do just
as he was told. When ordered to dismount and bring the countersign,
“Fidelity”—could he remember it?—he must be sure not to give it until
the sentry was close upon him, and then utter it in tones so low that no
one but the man for whom it was intended could hear it. Leon promised
compliance, repeated the countersign over to be sure he had it in his
mind, then shook his father warmly by the hand and went off to Tom
Howe’s camp. In reply to their inquiring glances, Leon then went on to
tell that his father had decided to see Mr. Knight before he determined
what to do in regard to the men who had been operating in the rear, and
described how he was going to work it to get by the sentries.

“That’s all right,” said Dawson. “We can’t attempt anything wrong there,
although, to tell the truth, I have run by my own sentries more than
once.”

“What would they do with you if they were to catch you in that
business?” inquired Tom.

“Oh, if you hadn’t made any effort at deserting they would put you in
the guard-house,” replied Dawson, with a laugh. “They would think it was
merely a little fun on your part, and they wouldn’t punish you very
severely. But if you were known to be a deserter, they would hang you in
a minute. Now, I suppose we can wait here until it is pretty near dark,
and then we must be up and doing. If you fellows don’t want to go say
the word, and I’ll go alone.”

“I shall be with you when you see your mother,” said Leon.

“Here too,” said Tom. “You just bet I’ll stick close to Leon’s
coat-tails. If he gets into a row I’ll be there to help.”

After that there was silence in the camp, for two of the boys had
something at least to think about. They were about to begin soldiering
in earnest. It is true that the events of the day before had infused new
confidence into them, but the attacking Union party was a great deal
stronger than the Confederate escort, and a battle, if one had taken
place, could have ended in but one way. Now, they were going right in
among those fellows, and who knew but they might run onto a squad of
rebels who were numerically their superiors, and be all taken prisoners?
That was what bothered Leon. He wasn’t afraid of being shot, but he was
afraid of being hanged. There was something murderous about a rope and
the men getting ready to haul away on it, but with a bullet the case was
different.

“Well, if I am going to die I’ll show myself a man,” soliloquized Leon,
as he rolled about under the trees watching Tom, who was getting an
early supper for them. “How cool Dawson takes it.”

His rebel friend lay opposite to him, on the other side of the fire,
with his saddle for a pillow and his hat drawn over his face, and the
regular breathing that came to Leon’s ears told him he was fast asleep.

“Now, it seems to me that if I was going back among a lot of comrades
who were just aching to hang me I should find something to think about
to keep me awake,” muttered Leon. “Maybe it is all in a lifetime.
Perhaps when I have been through as many dangers as he has I can go to
sleep, too.”

Supper was ready at last, Dawson aroused to eat his share of it, and the
moment he was settled with a plate of bacon and corn-bread before him,
he became at once full of stories. He seemed surprised because Leon told
him that he was asleep.

“Well, I couldn’t make the time pass quicker by staying awake, could I?”
said Dawson. “You would have gone to sleep if you knew what’s before
you. You may see the time when you will be glad to take a wink all by
yourself.”

In half an hour more the boys rode out of the grove and turned their
horses toward the bridge. In passing by the hotel Leon saw his father
standing on the porch. He saluted him, but kept right on without
stopping. Dawson was surprised, and remarked in his quiet way that Mr.
Sprague was taking the separation very coolly.

“He must have unbounded confidence in you,” said he. “Most fathers would
have come out to bid you good-bye.”

“I did that long ago,” said Leon. “My mother is the only one I am
worrying about now. If the killing of that rebel will convince them that
we have a body-guard out on all sides, I shall be more than pleased.
They will come with a bigger force than two men to take a map next
time.”

The ride through the woods was a lonely one, and, finally, just as it
began to grow dark, they came within sight of the bridge, and saw a
sentry pacing up and down there with his piece carried at shoulder arms.
One thing was evident to Leon: his father had improved his time in
giving the men some instruction, or else the squad was under a corporal
who understood his business. The sentry halted when he heard the sound
of their horses’ hoofs on the road, faced about, and brought his gun to
arms port before he said a word.

“That fellow acts like an old sentinel, don’t he?” said Dawson. “He has
been in the service before.”

“No, I reckon not,” said Leon. “So far as I know, everyone of these men
is as green as I am myself.”

“Halt!” shouted the sentry. “Who comes there?”

“Friends with the countersign!” said Leon.

“Dismount, friends. Advance, one, with the countersign.”

So far everything was all right; but the next move was something that
was not down in the tactics. No sooner had Leon’s voice answered the
sentry than nine men came running from different parts of the woods and
took up their stand directly behind the sentry. They held their guns in
readiness, too, as if they meant to be on hand for anything that might
happen.

“I tell you they meant to be ready for us, didn’t they?” said Dawson.
“You won’t get the sentries in our army to answer a challenge like
that.”

“What would they do?”

“They would keep out of sight in the bushes, and perhaps be ready to
fire in case anything goes wrong.”

The boys had by this time dismounted, and Leon, leaving his horse for
Dawson to hold, walked up to the sentry and whispered the countersign,
“Fidelity,” in his ears.

“The countersign is correct,” said the man. “Why, Leon, where are you
going? Don’t you know that you will be gobbled up if you go beyond that
bend?”

“No,” said Leon, in amazement; “we are going down after Dawson’s
mother.”

“Well,” said one of the men who stood behind the sentry, “you can go,
but I won’t. A little while ago two or three of us happened to be out
here, and we looked up and saw a fellow standing in the road watching
us. We called to him, but he got into the bushes before we could shoot
at him.”

This was something Leon had not bargained for. The other boys had come
up in obedience to his signal, and they all heard what the man had to
say about the spy who was watching them.

“Did you see more than one?” asked Dawson, who was utterly amazed to
know the rebels had come between him and his mother. If that was the
case he might as well go back, for all hope of bringing her into the
Union camp was, as he expressed it, “up stump.”

“No, I didn’t see but one, and he was a Johnny, for the way he took to
the bush was a caution,” said the man. “That was what brought us out
here in such a hurry. We didn’t know but there might be others behind
you, and we thought we would be ready for you.”

“Well, Dawson, I am going ahead if you are,” said Leon.

“Talk enough,” exclaimed Dawson, placing his foot in the stirrup and
swinging himself upon his horse. “All I want is a little pluck to back
me up, and I will have my mother up here before you see the sun rise.”

“You have got the old man’s grit, I can see that easy enough,” said the
sentry. “Good-bye and good luck to you. We don’t want to say a word to
dishearten you, but if you come back here at all, you’ll come a-flying.
One sentry can’t stop you.”

The boys laughed, but anybody could see that it was forced, and in a few
moments they were around the bend, out of sight. It was there that the
rebel spy had been seen. They looked sharply into the woods as they
passed along—every boy had his revolver drawn and hanging by his
side—but the thickets were as silent as if nobody had ever been there.
Leon and Tom were very pale, there was no mistake about that, but they
kept as close at the heels of Dawson’s horse as they could possibly get.
Not a word was said until the woods had been passed and they found
themselves in the midst of a long cotton-field which stretched away on
both sides of them, and in the distance was a row of buildings which
Dawson pointed out to them.

“If we can get there inside of that house we are all right,” said he,
and a person wouldn’t have thought from the way he spoke that he was
thinking of his mother. “There is where she lives.”

“If that spy was in the bushes and saw us when we went by, what was the
reason he didn’t jump out and grab us?” said Tom.

“Perhaps he was alone,” said Leon, who would have felt safer if that
spy, whoever he was, had been among his friends. “He wants more help
before he attempts to arrest us.”

“Now, boys, let’s keep perfectly still and ride up to the house as
though we had a right there,” said Dawson. “You are not afraid to shoot,
are you, Tom?”

“All I ask of you is to give me a chance,” returned Tom, indignantly.
“Anything to keep from being made prisoner.”

The boys relapsed into silence again, and presently drew up before the
gate which gave entrance into the door-yard. It was an old-fashioned
gate, and was held in place by a wooden pin, which was thrust into an
auger-hole. The horse Dawson rode showed that he was accustomed to that
way of getting in, for he moved up close to the pin, so that his rider
could pull it. The gate creaked loudly on its wooden hinges, whereupon
they heard a little confusion in the house, the door opened, and by the
aid of the light from the fireplace the boys saw a woman and two little
children fill the door.

“Oh, Bo—”

One of the children was on the point of shouting out Dawson’s name, but
quicker than a flash the mother’s hand covered his mouth. It was no
place to speak a person’s name out loud.

“Sh—! Not a word out of you,” said Dawson, dismounting from his horse.
“You will bring the rebels on me. That’s a little boy, but he is Union
all over,” he added, turning to Leon. “Now you stay here and hold my
horse, and I will go in and get things ready. I needn’t tell you to keep
a good watch down the road. If you hear so much as a foot-step, I want
to know it.”

“Now hold on a bit,” said Tom, dismounting and handing his reins to Leon
to hold for him, “If you are going to leave us here in silence I must
take care of my muel, else she will arouse the neighborhood. You hold
her head, Leon, and I will look out for her tail.”

“Well, why don’t you take care of it, then?” asked Leon, when he saw Tom
station himself in such a position that he could readily seize her tail
in moments of emergency.

“Because she isn’t ready to bray yet,” said Tom. “Whenever she gets
ready to let the people know she is here she will bob her tail up and
down. Then I will be ready to take hold of it and keep it down. Oh,
there’s a heap to be learned about muels the first thing you know.”

Dawson laughed—he couldn’t keep from laughing if he knew his mother was
in danger—and went on into the house, the door of which was closed after
him; so Leon didn’t hear much of that greeting. And he wouldn’t have
learned much if he had heard it. His mother had lived in danger for the
last year, and all she did was to kiss him and listen while he told of
his capture.

“But I wanted to go,” said he, “and father and I promised each other
that whoever got away first should go to Jones county, and the one that
was left in the rebel ranks should come there as soon as he could. I got
away first, and now I am come after you. Pack up everything you want and
be ready to load it aboard the mule-team which I will bring here as soon
as possible.”

“Will I be protected there?” asked his mother.

“You certainly will. There is a thousand men there, and they are growing
every day. I wouldn’t ask you to stir a step if I didn’t think so. Your
house is gone up.”

“Well, I can’t help that. But do you really think your father will be
able to join us there?”

“He’s got to take his chances; that’s what I had to do. Now, mother,
take everything you need and leave the rest behind for the rebels.”

This was all that was said, and Dawson left the house and went out to
his companions; but he knew that his mother had gone hastily to work to
bundle up such things as she needed and could not possibly do without.
He took his bridle from Leon’s hand and with a whispered “follow me” led
the way around behind a corn-crib, out of sight.

“Now I must leave you again, and you will take notice that your horses
don’t let anyone know they are here,” said Dawson. “I am going to get a
mule-team.”

“Your mother is going, is she?” asked Tom.

“Of course she’s going. She would look nice living in that house while
she had a husband and son in the Yankee army! Of course we have seen the
house for the last time. The rebels will burn it up the first time they
come this way.”

While Dawson was getting ready to go out and get the mule-team the boys
noticed that their horses raised their heads, and pricked their ears
forward and looked down the road, as if there was some object down there
that attracted their attention. Dawson was the first to notice it, and
he straightway grabbed his horse by the bridle and forced his head down.

“Somebody’s coming,” said he.

Leon speedily dismounted and took up a position by his horse’s bridle,
Tom gave his reins into his hand and occupied his old station by his
mule’s tail, and all the boys held their breath and listened. It was
faint and far off, but presently they could distinctly hear the sound of
a multitude of horses’ hoofs upon the hard road. Nearer it came, until
Dawson, who was experienced in such matters, informed his companions in
a whisper that there must be a whole platoon of cavalry approaching. It
came from the south, too, and that was the direction in which the rebel
headquarters were situated.

“I tell you it’s lucky that we got here just in the nick of time,” said
Tom. “Hold on there, old muel,” he continued, catching the mule’s tail
and pulling it down. “You mustn’t let those folks know we’re here. Did
you see how I stopped his braying?”

Leon and Dawson were too deeply interested in what was going on in the
road to pay much attention to him, and finally they could see, through
the cracks in the corn-crib where the chinking had fallen out, a number
of men ride past the house, or, rather, the majority of them rode by,
while three drew rein and stopped there.

“By gracious! I hope mother heard them, and that she had time to put her
bundles away out of sight,” whispered Dawson. “Everything depends upon
that.”

“Where do you suppose they are going?” asked Leon, who was so excited
that he could scarcely speak.

“They are going up to Jones county to see how nearly ready for them we
are,” said Dawson. “I reckon they’ll stop when they get to the bridge.
There are some riflemen up there that act to me as if they were good
shots.”

“Now, here’s a thing that bothers me,” said Leon. “You are talking about
getting a mule-team to haul your mother’s things to our county, and I
would like to know how we are to get it by those fellows? We’ll have to
wait until they go back.”

Dawson did not answer at once, for he was much concerned about those
three men who rode into the yard. He saw one of them dismount and go
into the house, and his heart beat like a trip-hammer when he saw it. He
waited for the confusion which he knew would follow when the bundles his
mother had made up were exposed to view, but it did not come. In a few
minutes the man came out and spoke to the two men he had left on
horseback, and they went on, and the rebel turned and came directly
toward the corn-crib.

“He’s coming here,” said Leon; and before anybody could say a word
against it he had cocked his revolver, rested it in the crack, and
pointed it at the man’s head. He was right in front of the open doorway,
and of course Leon couldn’t have missed him at that distance. The rebel
came on as though he knew where he was going, entered the doorway,
placed his mouth close to the crack, and whispered:

“Robert!”

“For goodness’ sake turn that revolver the other way!” whispered Dawson.
“It is my father.”



                               CHAPTER X.
                           CALE WANTS A MULE.


“I am to go to the quartermaster, am I? It is his business to give the
muels out, is it? He give one to that Tom Howe and never asked what he
was going to do with him, and now he had to go and refuse to give one to
me. I’ll get even with you, Mr. Sprague, for that, and you just see if I
don’t.”

It was Newman who spoke, and he leaned against the corner of the hotel
and watched Mr. Sprague as he went on inspecting the wagons. He was a
boy about nineteen years old, although he might have passed for thirty,
judging by his looks. He didn’t have a rifle; in fact he didn’t have
anything except the big hunk of “nigger-twist” which he took from his
pocket, transferring a generous slice to his mouth. He was not a
raftsman, anybody could have told that, for they generally took some
pains with their personal appearance. This Newman was ragged and dirty,
and looked as though he had been in the habit of sleeping wherever night
overtook him. He had the appearance of being mean enough for anything,
and the facts proved that he was.

“See that ole Sprague stepping around like he owned the nation,”
muttered Newman, shutting one eye and squirting a flow of tobacco-juice
at the nearest tree. “I’ll see pap, and if he thinks it can be done I am
going to do it. That ’rolling officer, when he was here, told them that
they couldn’t have things all their own way, and I guess they will find
it out. They will give me something for telling them where they can find
the men, and I’ll be dog-gone if I don’t do it. Where’s that
quartermaster, I wonder? Busy, as usual, I’ll bet. Well, let him work
his own gait. He won’t do it much longer.”

Newman stayed around almost all day before he got a chance to speak to
the quartermaster, and before he went away there was something that drew
his attention from Mr. Sprague to Leon. The latter and two companions
came up to report what had happened at Mr. Sprague’s plantation since
his absence. Leon made a handsome figure, if he only knew it. He sat his
horse with easy grace, was clad in a suit of blue jeans which fitted his
person admirably, and he raised his hand to his father with a military
salute that would have done credit to an old soldier. Newman did not
hear any of his report, for it was given in tones so low that they could
not reach his ears; but if he had heard any of it, it would have shown
the necessity of his being up and doing.

“See how easily he touches his hat to that old civilian,” said Newman,
with a sneer; “while my father, who could have had that position if the
folks had been a-mind to give it to him, has to go around without
anybody saluting him. Such things ain’t right, but I tell you I am going
to make them that way. They offered my father something nice if he would
betray these chief men into their hands—they didn’t say what it would
be, but I suppose it is some commission—and he don’t seem willing to do
it. I’ll do it, and see what they will give me. There’s the
quartermaster now, and he don’t seem to be busy.”

Newman threw his tobacco out of his mouth and walked up to the
quartermaster, who stood with his hands in his pockets and watching some
wagons that were being hitched up previous to being hauled into the
swamp.

“I want to see if you will give me a muel, please, sir,” said Newman,
stepping up and trying his best to give the military salute as he had
seen Leon do.

“A mule? What do you want of a mule?” said the officer, more than half
inclined to laugh at the boy’s appearance. “You don’t want a mule to
ride up to the house.”

“No, sir; but I want him so as to be ready to go with the men when they
capture another wagon-train,” said Newman.

“Why, you didn’t go with the men the other day. I saw you around here
the whole time. Your father was with you, and so was Dan.”

Dan was Newman’s oldest brother. All we can say about him is that he was
Cale Newman over again. Dan was the one that stole the bacon and sweet
potatoes that the family lived on. He had courage to go where Cale
wouldn’t dare show his head.

“But we would a-had to go afoot,” said Newman, in an injured tone. “I
couldn’t walk so fur.”

“It seems the others did it without any trouble. You could have gone
there and showed your good-will, if you had been a-mind to. I reckon you
will find it better to do without a mule.”

“You gave Tom Howe one and said nothing about it,” said Newman, growing
angry again.

“I did?” said the quartermaster.

“Old Sprague done it, and it amounts to the same thing.”

“Look here, Newman, you want to be careful how you talk about that man.
He ain’t a common civilian any more.”

“What is he, then, I would like to know?”

“He’s got power enough to put you where people won’t hear you say that,”
said the officer, fastening his eyes sternly on Newman’s face. “He will
put you in jail.”

“Well, I’ll bet he won’t put me in jail, neither. My father has got
friends enough to tear it up.”

“Well, Cale, if you are going to hold to such doctrines as that you
might as well go among the Confederates, where you belong. You don’t
belong here, that is certain.”

“If you will give me a muel I won’t hold no such docterings,” said
Newman. “I’ll be the loyalest fellow you ever see.”

The quartermaster looked at Newman in amazement.

“What kind of a fellow are you, any way?” he asked. “You are going to be
loyal or not, just as you get paid for it.”

“That’s the way my father looks at it. You didn’t give him an office,
and now he’s going to let you hoe your own row. Now, if I could have a
muel to ride around—”

“Well, you’ll not get any, I can tell you that. And, furthermore, if I
hear any more such talk from you I’ll have you arrested.”

“My father says—”

“I’ve heard enough. Don’t speak to me again. A man who will depend upon
a mule for his loyalty don’t amount to much. Now go away, and don’t let
me see you again.”

The quartermaster was very angry as he turned away, and Newman stood and
watched him while he went on inspecting the wagons. Then he took a chew
of “nigger-twist,” shook his head threateningly, and turned his steps
toward home.

“You have heard enough, have you?” he muttered, as he followed the blind
path that led through the woods toward the little shanty under which his
family found shelter. “Well, I’ll bet you will hear more of it before
to-morrow night. If father don’t give you into the hands of the rebels I
will.”

When Newman arrived within sight of his home he found his father sitting
on the door-step smoking his pipe, while his brother Dan was stretched
in a sunny spot where he could enjoy the full benefit of the warmth
without going near the fire. His mother was engaged in a lazy sort of
way over a blaze which had been started in the fireplace; that is to
say, she was sitting down and watching a pot that had been set over the
coals, while a dingy cob pipe, like her husband’s, was tightly clasped
between her teeth. The house was a tumble-down affair, and looked as
though it was about to come to pieces, with a dirt floor, and the door
beside which Mr. Newman was sitting was minus a hinge near the top. The
family were all of them what might have been expected by this
description of their place of abode. And the work, which might have been
accomplished by one man in three or four days to make his house worth
living in, was not above Mr. Newman’s ability, for he showed on his face
that he had seen better times. He had been wealthy once, but now he had
lost it, and was much too lazy to go to work and earn more. That
accounted for Cale’s way of talking. He didn’t say “pap” and “mam”
unless he spoke before he thought, for he considered himself better than
those with whom he associated. The raftsmen used to say that if Mr.
Newman’s work was equal to his talk he would have a much better house to
live in.

“Well, Cale, what’s the matter with you?” inquired his father, as the
new-comer approached the place where they were sitting. “You act as
though you had lost your last friend.”

“I want to tell you what has happened down there in town, and see if you
wouldn’t look so, too,” said Cale, seating himself on the ground. “I
asked old Sprague and the quartermaster—”

“Quartermaster nothing,” exclaimed Mr. Newman. “Who gave him such an
office as that? He had the handling of the mules and horses and would
not give you one.”

“That’s just the way of it,” said Cale. “Now, I want to know if such a
thing is right? He gave Tom Howe one and never said nothing about it;
but he wouldn’t give me one for fear that I wouldn’t be on hand when he
was going out to capture the next wagon-train.”

“No more would you,” said his mother, at that moment appearing at the
door to hear what Cale had to say. “You ain’t on that side. The South is
going to whip, and you don’t want to be beholden to those fellows for
anything.”

“I told ’em if they would give me a muel I would be just the loyalest
fellow he ever saw,” said Cale.

“The more shame to you,” said his mother, angrily.

“Well, I don’t know about that,” chimed in Mr. Newman. “If he could get
a mule or one of the horses he could fly around easy, carrying
dispatches and the like. He could be here to-day and see what was going
on, and to-night he could get on his mule and take the news down to the
Confederates. Wouldn’t he give you a mule?”

“No, he wouldn’t, I tried Sprague and the quartermaster, too, and they
both threatened to arrest me if I talked so any more.”

“Well, I do think in my soul that they are getting on a high horse,”
said Mr. Newman, taking the pipe from his mouth. “I’d like to see them
arrest you or anybody connected with this family. Their old jail would
stay up about as long as I could get to it with an axe.”

“That’s what I told ’em; and he said that I mustn’t talk that way any
more.”

“Say,” said Dan, who had mustered up energy enough to straighten up
during this talk and was now engaged in filling a cob pipe with some
nigger-twist, “you don’t suppose that the men who were captured with
that wagon-train have gone on to Mobile, do you? It seems to me that
they ought to be back here to-night or to-morrow. Them fellows ain’t
a-going to stand still and let themselves be robbed of half a million
dollars’ worth.”

“Don’t I wish I had the stuff that’s in one of them wagons!” exclaimed
Cale. “There’s grub enough to keep our jaws wagging for one good solid
year; and clothes! You just ought to see the uniforms there is in
there.”

“I came away before they got to inspecting the wagons,” said Mr. Newman.
“Somehow I couldn’t manage to stay around and see the clothes and things
our fellows were going to wear go to those lazy vagabonds.”

That was one reason why Mr. Newman came away before the wagons were
overhauled, but the principal motive that governed him was because he
did not want to see others saluted. His attention was first called to it
by the actions of Bud McCoy. Bud didn’t care for anything, but he seemed
to be carried away by his Union sentiment, and once, when he spoke to
Mr. Sprague, he did it without saluting; but he thought of it at once,
and came back and touched his hat to him.

“I declare, Mr. Secretary of War, I almost forgot my manners to you. I
forgot that you ain’t a plain raftsman any more.”

Mr. Newman would have given a good deal if he could have been saluted
that way, and because he was not, he didn’t care to stay around where
the crowd was.

“Mr. Sprague let on that he didn’t want to be saluted every time a man
spoke to him, but I know a story worth two of that,” said Mr. Newman,
getting upon his feet and pacing up and down in front of his house. “I
am better able to hold that position than anybody else, because I have
seen more military than they have. But no, they had to go and give it to
a man who don’t know a thing about it.”

“That’s just what I told them,” said Cale.

“And what did they say?”

“They said I couldn’t have the muel.”

“Well, now, if those fellows come back here,” said Dan, “what’s the
reason we can’t help them get all the chief men of the county? I am in
it, for one.”

“Here, too,” said Cale.

“You must be careful what you do,” said Mr. Newman. “They have got
sentries posted down there, and you can’t get by them without the
countersign.”

“Then we’ll go below the bridge and swim the creek,” said Dan. “If I go
into this business I shall go in all over.”

“If you will do that you may be able to get me the commission of Colonel
of the Confederate army,” said Mr. Newman. “I never told you this
before, but I shall ask that or nothing.”

“A colonel!” ejaculated Cale, with intense enthusiasm. “Then you will
have command. He rides a horse, doesn’t he?”

“He certainly does, and he’s got a commission backed by a government.
He’s higher than the President of the Jones-County Confederacy. That’s
the commission I am working for.”

One would not have thought that Mr. Newman was working very hard for
that commission to have seen him at that moment. In fact he did not seem
to be working for anything. He was sitting there perfectly quiet and
waiting for the commission to come to him.

“I tell you, boys, you must work hard for that colonel’s
shoulder-straps,” said Mrs. Newman, taking her stand in the door with
her arms placed on her hips. “You won’t be wearing no ragged clothes
like you be now, and I’ll have a silk dress to wear at all seasons. You
won’t catch me around cooking as I am now. I’ll be a lady, and have a
better pipe than this to smoke.”

“And who knows but that father might get us something?” said Dan. “I’ll
bet if you held old Sprague’s position you would give me something
besides a private in your ranks.”

“That’s just what I am thinking of,” returned Mrs. Newman. “Your father
was telling me about it last night. Of course he would have a staff, and
you two would come in for two of the offices mighty handy. I tell you
you want to work hard. Your father doesn’t seem to be able to do
anything.”

“And what is the reason?” exclaimed Mr. Newman, taking his pipe from his
mouth with one hand and extending the other toward his wife. “Do you
suppose I am going to run down there among all that crowd and stand all
the risk of getting my neck stretched for treachery? The boys can do
what they please and nobody will say a word to them; but let me go down
there and carry news of what has been going on and you will see how long
you have got a husband to take care of you. It ain’t safe for me to go
there.”

“I didn’t think about your being hung,” said Mrs. Newman, indifferently.

“Of course that is what they are up to, and they are thinking now how it
could be done.”

“Yes,” exclaimed Cale, “they told me that I had best go among the
rebels, where I belonged.”

“Don’t that prove what I said? I ain’t going down there any more. But I
want to see them lock you up, if they dare do it. That’s what I am
aching for.”

But Cale didn’t agree with his father’s opinions in regard to locking
him up, and he secretly resolved that he wouldn’t say anything more in
the presence of the quartermaster that would lead him to carry that
resolution into effect. His father filled his pipe and sat down in his
usual place in the doorway, and Cale, following the motion of Dan’s
head, accompanied him around behind the house. Mr. Newman didn’t care
where they went or what they did while they were gone. All he thought of
was the carrying out of Dan’s proposition to surrender the head men of
the Jones-County Confederacy into the hands of the enemy. It looked like
a very small piece of business for a father to put this into his sons’
hands, but Mr. Newman thought he was acting just right. The boys were
gone half an hour or more, and came back in time to get something to
eat. They sat down to their supper in silence, and when they had got
through they put on their hats and left the house. They didn’t take
their dogs with them, and that proved that they were not going after
wild hogs.

“You just let those boys alone,” said Mr. Newman, looking down the path
along which they had gone with some satisfaction. “They are going to get
whatever they go for.”

“I think it would have been some honor to you if you had gone in their
place,” said his wife. “Somehow it don’t seem right to leave the
capturing of so many men to boys.”

“Yes, and run the risk of stretching hemp,” replied Mr. Newman,
indignantly. “Those boys can be away from home as much as they are
a-mind to and nobody will say a word; but if I go down to where the men
are and find out something about them they would know in a minute if I
wasn’t at home, like I had oughter be. And I don’t want them to ask that
question. Let the boys go on. We’ll have some of them men arrested the
first thing you know.”

“But how are they going to arrest them? Are they going to come here and
take them?”

“No; it will be in a fight, likely.”

“And where will you be when the fight comes off?”

“Oh, I’ll be around somewhere. You look out for yourself and let your
husband look out for himself. That’s the way to do it.”

“I wish we had a muel to ride,” said Dan, as they trudged through the
woods toward the creek. “Somehow it puts me on nettles to walk. Now that
Tom Howe has got a muel I don’t see why we can’t have one. We ought to
have gone with them men that captured that train.”

“But we had no guns,” said Cale.

“No, but we would soon have had them. There’s lots of guns in the
President’s headquarters that haven’t got any owners. Tom didn’t have a
muel, and now he’s got one.”

“And that’s what comes of touching his hat to those civilians,” said
Cale, in disgust. “I bet you I wouldn’t do it. Why didn’t they give
father a position like he ought to have had? We would have had muels by
this time.”

“It’s my opinion that father has got his foot in it,” said Dan, with a
knowing shake of his head. “He has said all along that the South was
going to whip, and old Sprague and the other men don’t like it. I’ll bet
you that if the truth was known half of them are on our side.”

This was the substance of the conversation that passed between Dan and
Cale on their way to the creek. Boys as they were, they had every reason
to believe that one county could not stand against the whole Southern
Confederacy, that the Union men in the county were going to be easily
whipped out, and they wanted to be on the winning side. Perhaps there
was a little hope of plunder mixed in with it, as Cale finally said:

“I’ll tell you what, Dan: I don’t like the way that young Sprague had of
throwing on style to-day. He rode up on that colt of his and saluted the
old man as if he were the owner of the State. I’d like to have him go
afoot for awhile and let me ride on that horse.”

“Well, he’ll have to do it,” returned Dan. “But he’s got some other
things that I’d like to have—his revolver, for instance.”

Before long it began to grow dark, but the gloom that settled over the
woods did not interfere with the movements of these backwoodsmen. They
kept straight ahead as though it had been broad daylight, and finally
arrived on the banks of the creek. Without saying a word they threw off
their clothes and prepared to plunge into the stream. If they had known
as much as Leon did they would have looked for that ford which was but a
short distance from the place where they swam the creek. The water was
somewhat cold, but they took it bravely, and in a few minutes more stood
on the opposite side.

“That Leon is going to have a colder place than this,” said Dan, as he
shiveringly put on his clothes. “I do wish they would turn him and Tom
over to us.”

“What would you do with him?”

“I’d make him swim this creek.”

“Perhaps he wouldn’t do it.”

“He wouldn’t, eh? Wait until he sees his revolver looking him squarely
in the face. I bet you he would go. Now, we want to be still, for we
don’t know how close those sentries are to us. We must keep mum and make
as little noise as possible in going through the woods until we find out
where they are.”

Cale was now perfectly willing that Dan should take the lead, for as
they were getting pretty close to armed men he did not want to be the
first to draw their fire; so he gradually fell behind, while Dan made
his way through the bushes with an ease and celerity that was
astonishing. He scarcely caused a twig to rustle. The experience which
the boys had in hunting wild hogs stood them well in stead. Finally Dan
pushed aside the bushes and saw the road fairly before him. There was
nothing on it as far as he could see, and the bridge seemed to be empty.

“Somebody has been fooled in regard to those sentinels,” said Dan.

“Go out in the road,” said Cale. “You can’t see anything from here.”

Dan went, but had scarcely got clear of the bushes when a voice called
out, in a surprised tone:

“Halt!”

“By gum, I guess you found something,” whispered Cale. “You had better
be getting out of there.”

Dan waited to hear no more. He drew a bee-line for the bushes, and in a
moment more was threading his way noisely through them. When he had gone
a little ways he stopped and said to his brother:

“I didn’t see anybody there.”

“No, but they are there, and they saw you,” said Cale, who was greatly
excited. “Now, what’s to be done? I wish that cavalry would come along
now, and we would have those sentinels took in out of the wet. I hope
they did not see you.”

“Nor me. I wouldn’t dare go back home again. Let’s sit down here a
spell.”

“I—I believe I would rather go a little further away,” said Cale.
“Suppose some officer should come along the road?”

Dan answered this question by seating himself on the nearest log and
resting his chin on his hands. He wasn’t going any further, and Cale,
rather than be left alone in the woods, took a place by his side. They
stayed there for a quarter of an hour without saying a word, except
Cale, who wished they had a gun, so that they could tumble the officer
over when he came along to see where they went, and then they heard
another challenge to halt from the sentinel on the bridge.

“There, now, I’ll bet there is somebody else coming,” said Cale, his
excitement and fear increasing tenfold.

“Well, he didn’t come by here,” said Dan, who sat where he could see
everybody who passed along the road.

“No, but he came from Ellisville. Who knows but there was someone there
watching our house, and who saw us when we came away?”

“That’s so,” said Dan, but he didn’t seem to be much worried by it.

“Well, now, I say let’s go a little further back.”

But Dan kept his seat with his eyes fixed upon the road, and while his
brother was trying to make up his mind whether or not he ought to leave
him they heard the clatter of horses’ hoofs on the bridge, and even Dan
began to prick his ears. It was a small party of horsemen who were
coming directly along the road of which he kept watch. They were walking
their horses, and that made the spies eager to escape observation. Dan
stretched himself out at full length in the bushes, his example being
promptly followed by Cale, and in a few minutes the horsemen rode by;
but they saw nothing to excite their suspicions, and in a few seconds
more they passed out of hearing.

“Don’t I wish I had a gun!” exclaimed Dan, raising himself on his knees
and going through all the motions he would make in covering the
horsemen.

“Who was it?” asked Cale.

“It was Leon, that worthless Tom Howe, and that rebel fellow that they
have been running with since yesterday,” said Dan. “Now I wish your
squad of cavalry would come along. But you see we hain’t got no guns,
and each one of them has got a six-shooter.”

Cale had never been more astonished in his life.



                              CHAPTER XI.
                         MR. DAWSON’S STRATEGY.


“Yes, sir, I wish I had a gun in my hands,” said Dan, rising to his feet
and gazing down the road in the direction in which the horsemen had
disappeared. “I could have tumbled that Leon Sprague off his horse just
as easy as not. And I might have had if there had been any way for me to
earn it.”

There had been plenty of ways for him to earn a gun, or, for the matter
of that, some better clothes than he wore, if it had not been for his
disinclination to work. He could have gone into the woods almost any
time and made a man’s wages by chopping, but that was niggers’ work and
a little too low down for him. Mr. Newman and his boys had tried it
once, but the men who had charge of them were so cross and snappish, and
wanted them to do so much more work than they did, that they could no
longer stand it. At the end of three days they came home with their
axes, put them up in a corner, and vowed that they would hunt wild hogs
with their dogs and stick them with their knives rather than work under
such task-masters. And if their father wouldn’t do it they might be sure
that the boys would not, for Dan and Cale looked for better times
without doing a thing to bring them about. They preferred to be
idle—they were squatters; even the ground their house was built upon did
not belong to them—and whenever anybody came near losing his life, as
Tom Howe had come near losing his during the last spring drive, it
pleased them wonderfully. That little episode added to their enmity
against Leon Sprague. According to their belief, Leon ought to have
stood on a log and seen him go under.

“I didn’t see anybody go by,” said Cale.

“I don’t suppose you did,” said Dan, with something like a sneer. “You
are like an ostrich. Whenever they get frightened they hide their heads
and think their body can’t be seen. Now let’s go down this way a little
further, and then we’ll lay in the bushes and see what’s going to
happen.”

“What do you suppose that rebel fellow has come out here with Leon for?”
said Cale. “Has he got any relatives or things down here that he is
going after?”

“That’s just what’s a-bothering of me. I don’t know, but we can watch
and find out. Now we’ll wait until they come back,” said Dan, picking
out a comfortable seat for himself against a tree where the bushes were
so thick that one might have passed within five feet of him without
knowing that he was there. “He’s a rebel, he deserted to the enemy with
a uniform on, and if we see some Confederates come along here we will
tell them where he is.”

“But we don’t know where he is,” said Cale, looking around to find an
easy spot to sit down.

“Well, the rebels can easy watch here until he comes back,” retorted his
brother. “What’s there to hinder them from jumping out on him and taking
him and all that he’s got into the bargain? Now, I like, when I am
sitting down in this way, to talk about what I am going to do with those
things we are going to take away from Leon. I speak for his revolver.”

This started Cale off on a new subject, and it wasn’t long before he
forgot that there were armed men within less than a quarter of a mile
from him. If Leon and Tom could have been dealt with as these young
backwoodsmen wanted them to be it wouldn’t be long before they would
have changed places. They probably passed an hour in talking over their
various plans, and then they were brought to an abrupt silence by the
sound of horses’ hoofs upon the road. The men had been advancing so
cautiously that they were close upon them before they knew it. Cale,
whose greatest care was to keep out of sight, at once stretched himself
at full length in the bushes, while Dan, who wanted to see who the men
were, raised himself to his full height and looked over the thicket.
What he saw was about a dozen men, all on horseback, and noted, too,
that they were all dressed in Confederate uniform; but one thing that
astonished him was a revolver that was pointed straight at his head. The
leader of the horsemen was an old soldier, and he could not be taken
unawares.

“Halloo! By George, there’s a Yank,” he exclaimed. “Come out of that.”

Dan was thunderstruck. He had never expected to be greeted this way by
his friends, and for a moment or two he stood with his hands down by his
side unable to move or speak; while Cale, uttering a smothered
ejaculation, began to worm his way out of the bushes on his belly.

“Hold on! There are two of you there, and if you move another hair I
will cut loose on you!” shouted the leader; and to show that he was in
earnest he turned his horse and rode into the woods. His men were with
him, and when Dan cleared his eyes of a mist that seemed to obstruct
their vision he found that there were half a dozen revolvers looking at
him. “We’ve got you and you might as well come out. Where do you
belong?”

“Are you Confederates?” stammered Dan.

“Of course we are. What did you take us for? Come out of that.”

“Well, now, if you are Confederates you want to turn those weapons the
other way,” said Dan, growing bolder when he heard his own voice. “I am
as good a Confederate as you are.”

“Oh, well, then, it is all right. Come out here on the road so that we
can talk to you. Get up there, you fellow lying in those bushes. You
needn’t think we are going to hurt you. Now, then, what do you know?
Have you seen any Confederates around here to-day?”

“No, I haven’t. But say,” added Dan, who had by this time taken up his
stand in the road and grew bolder when he saw that none of the soldiers
addressed him by name, “you want to get all the head men of Jones county
in your hands, don’t you?”

“Well, I should say so,” exclaimed the leader, showing more enthusiasm
than he had thus far exhibited. “Can you put me in the way of getting my
hands onto them?”

“How much will you give?” said Dan.

“How much will I give?” asked the leader, as if he did not quite catch
Dan’s meaning.

“Yes. My father had some talk with you fellows about it, and he says he
is working for a colonel’s commission. He won’t work for any less. Now,
you can afford to give me captain and my brother here lieutenant, can’t
you?”

The captain, for that’s who he was, was taken aback by this bold
declaration on the part of Dan. He looked hard at him to see if he was
in earnest, and then looked around at his men. There was one present, a
lieutenant, who evidently measured Dan by his own estimate, for he said:

“I was there and heard all about it, Captain. We had a long talk with
the old man—what’s your father’s name?” he added, bending down from his
saddle and trying to get a glimpse of Dan’s face.

“His name is Newman,” said Dan.

“And yours?”

“Dan; and this is my brother, Cale Newman. We are two good Confederates,
dyed in the wool.”

“I know you are, for I recognize the name. We had a long talk with Mr.
Newman about it, and we agreed to give him a colonel’s position if he
would put us in the way of getting the chief men of Jones county into
our hands. Now, Captain, you can afford to give two such little offices
as he wants in return for his services.”

“Why, yes, of course,” said the captain, who fell in at once with his
lieutenant’s ruse. “You see, Captain—I want all of you men hereafter to
address this man as captain and his brother as lieutenant—do you hear?”
he added, turning to his squad; and a responsive “Yes, sir,” came from
all the men; although candor compels us to say that some of them wanted
to laugh. Some of them looked back down the road, and others had
something to to do with fixing their feet in their stirrups.

“Thank-ee, Captain; thank-ee,” said Dan, who didn’t know whether he was
awake or dreaming. “Just give us a horse apiece and a gun, and we will
lead you against those men any day.”

Cale Newman scarcely believed he had heard aright. He knew more about
military matters than his brother did, and he did not know that an
officer had a right to promote one to his own rank without going first
through some preliminary steps. He listened in a dazed sort of way to
the conference between the leader of the squad and Dan, but as no one
spoke to him and addressed him as “lieutenant,” he did not know whether
he was an officer or not. At any rate, he decided to get home before he
built any hopes upon it. His father had “seen some military” (although
where he saw it, it would be hard to tell, unless he had seen some
military companies march along the street), and he would know whether or
not everything was just as it should be.

“You see, Captain, I was not with my officers when they talked this
matter over with your father, and consequently I didn’t know anything
about it,” said the leader of the squad. “However, I am glad to be set
right on the matter. You spoke of surrendering the chief men into our
hands; now, how are you going to do it?”

“I will tell you where you can get one of them right here,” said Dan.
“Leon Sprague has gone down the road with a rebel fellow that he has
been running with since yesterday—”

“A rebel fellow?” interrupted the captain, in astonishment. “Have any of
our men deserted to you?”

“Oh, yes; there’s lots of them. We had 1498 men when this war broke
out,” replied Dan, copying what he had often heard his father say, “and
now we have a thousand fighting men camped right up this road.”

“Well, I declare,” said the captain, turning to his lieutenant. “We came
within an ace of getting right in the midst of it. They are camping
right up this road, you say?”

“Yes; and they stole a big lot of provisions from you yesterday.”

“We know that, dog-gone them!” said the captain. “We have come up here
to see about those provisions. Do you know where they are?”

“The most of them have been hauled to the swamp.”

“There!” said the lieutenant. “Then it is of no use to go any further.
If those goods have been taken to the swamp they are lost to us.”

“I confess it does look that way. Now, about this rebel fellow who has
just gone off. What is he going after; do you know?”

“He may be out scouting, the same as you are,” replied Dan.

“And he takes a couple of green boys to help him scout the same as we
are?” exclaimed the captain. “I guess not. He’s got some friends down
here, and he wants to get them on the other side of the line. Do you
know where this boy lives or what he is?”

“We can easy catch him as we go back,” said the lieutenant. “And in the
meantime I would suggest to you the propriety of going up and finding
out for ourselves the number of pickets they have placed at the bridge.
I believe you said there were some there?” he continued, turning to Dan.

“There’s a whole pile of them,” answered Dan. “We didn’t see them
ourselves, because we swum the creek; but when we got over here I went
out to see if I could see anything of the sentinels, and they saw and
halted me.”

“But you didn’t go in, did you?”

“Not much I didn’t. I took leg bail, and got into the woods. You see the
men up there are acquainted with us, and if they got us they would make
us stretch hemp.” Another quotation from his father.

“Well, we shall have to ask you to stay here until we come back,” said
the captain. “We shan’t be gone but a little while. Forward, and hold
your sabres in so that they won’t hit against your heels.”

The two boys stood there in the road and saw them ride around the first
bend, and they went so silent and still that one who didn’t know they
were there would not have suspected anything. As soon as they were out
of hearing Dan showed off a little of the enthusiasm that was in him.

“Captain! Captain Dan Newman!” said he, with a violent attempt to
refrain from giving a wild hurrah. “And I never was in the army in my
life! And you are a lieutenant, Cale. But you don’t seem to think much
of it.”

“The fact is, I don’t know whether I am an officer or not,” replied
Cale, looking down at the ground. “I don’t believe that officer had any
right to promote us.”

“Well, I declare, you are a dunce,” said his brother, more than half
inclined to get angry with him. “Didn’t you hear what the officer said
to his men—‘I want you all to address him as captain and his brother as
lieutenant’—I tell you that’s enough for me.”

“But this officer was a captain.”

“No matter for that.”

“And I don’t believe that he had a right to promote you to the same rank
as himself. They don’t do business like that in Jones county.”

“What way?”

“Why, the President has something to do with it.”

“Somebody has been stuffing you. Of course they don’t do business that
way in Jones county; but these men are in the service, and of course
they know what’s right.”

“Well, I am going to wait until I see father, and if he tells me that I
am an officer, why I’ll have to believe it.”

This was a new thing to Dan, and he did not say any more. He supposed
that the next thing was to be ordered to Mobile, where his uniform, a
horse and weapons would be given him, and after that he would be at
liberty to take command of a body of scouts the same as this captain had
done; but now he began to look at it in a different light.

“I’ll tell you what is the matter with you,” said Cale, after thinking
the matter over. “It all comes of your wanting father to get that
commission as colonel.”

“Hasn’t he got a right to it, I’d like to know?” retorted Dan. “He said
he wouldn’t work for any less.”

“I know, but they didn’t tell him that they would give him that
commission. He told us that he was working for it; and here the rebs
have gone and got on your blind side—”

“Whoop!” yelled Dan, his anger getting the start of him; and with the
word he kicked out savagely at his brother, who was just a little bit
too quick for him. He slipped out of the way, and Dan’s momentum took
him around on one foot and finally seated him rather roughly on the
ground.

“That shows that you don’t believe it more than I do,” said Cale.
“Heavens and earth! What’s that?”

It was fortunate that something happened to turn Dan’s mind from all
thoughts of revenge, for just then there was a rapid fusillade of
carbines heard up the road. Dan picked himself up, and before he could
answer there came another report of rifles in reply to the first, and
they were so accurately aimed that some of the bullets passed through
the branches above their heads. The first alarm was given by the rebels,
who wanted to see how many men there were at the bridge. They had halted
a little ways from the creek, leaving two men to hold their horses, and
crept up on the unconscious sentinel and brought him bleeding to the
ground. A moment later they became aware that the pickets at the bridge
were too strong to be carried by the small force they had at their
command, for the answering volleys that came across the creek—they came
thick and fast, too—showed them that the insurgents of Jones county had
taken ample precautions. It demonstrated another point to their
satisfaction: it showed them that they knew how to fight.

“They are shooting at us!” cried Cale, who straightway dove into the
bushes.

Dan stood there in the road and didn’t know what to do. While he was
considering the matter the firing ceased, and then all was still. He
stood there for a long time, half an hour, it seemed to him, and then he
heard the sound of horses’ hoofs coming from the direction of the
bridge, and in a few minutes the Confederates rode up.

“Did you hit any of them?” inquired Dan.

“We hit one that we know of, and that was the sentry,” said the captain.
“We filled him so full of holes that he never will hold that position
again. Now we will go on and report that they have got sentries at the
bridge. I’ll look into all the houses as I go by, and if that rebel
fellow is about I’ll have him, sure.”

“Well, now, look here,” said Dan, who began to think now that there was
some truth in what his brother told him. “What be I going to do?”

“You? Oh, yes. We shall want you to stay here, so as to be on hand, you
know, the next time we come out after the Yanks. You will be right here
when we want you?”

“No. I live all of twelve miles from here, and how will I know when you
are coming? Couldn’t you take me on to Mobile with you?”

“Why, of what use would you be there?” answered the captain, speaking
before he thought. “Why—you see,” he added, on receiving a nudge from
his lieutenant, “your company isn’t ready for you to command it.”

“Couldn’t you take me on your staff?”

“Well, you see, I don’t have a staff,” said the leader, struggling hard
to keep from laughing outright. “I’ll speak to the colonel about you as
soon as I get back. Good-bye. Forward!”

“Of all things I ever heard of this is the beat,” thought Dan, as he
stood there and watched the men out of sight. “If I am a captain, I do
not see what’s the reason my company isn’t ready for me to command it. I
guess I have made a botch of this business. Well, Cale,” he added,
aloud, “let’s catch up and go home. And Cale, I won’t say anything to
the old man about this.”

“I reckon I wouldn’t if I was in your place,” said Cale.

“No; but I will depend upon you to do it for me,” continued Dan,
coaxingly. “You can repeat what the captain said to us without
mentioning any names, can’t you?”

“I suppose so.”

“And all the while I will listen and be as earnest as you for
disbelieving it,” said Dan. “In that way we will get at the truth of the
matter. But I do say that I think that that captain was up to mighty
mean business. I reckon he’ll find somebody else that he wants to
promote in the same way, and I wish I could be there to whisper a word
or two in his ear.”

Cale followed along behind his brother as he bent his steps toward home,
swam the creek, and just at daylight arrived within sight of his
dilapidated shelter. His father was up, and a smoke lazily ascended from
the chimney.

“Well, boys, what luck?” he exclaimed, when his eyes fell upon the two
weary tramps coming toward him. “Did you see any rebels?”

Dan borrowed his father’s plug of nigger-twist, and Cale hunted up his
pipe before either of them replied. Dan cut off a generous chew, and
then seated himself on the doorstep.

“You have been gone a long time,” continued Mr. Newman, “and I think you
must have seen something. Did you capture any of the head men of the
county?”

“No,” replied Dan. “We saw some Confederates, but they wouldn’t go after
them.”

“Why, how was that?”

Dan began and told his story just as it happened, and the old man became
so interested that he allowed his pipe to go out. He told about his
meeting with the Confederates, described the conversation they had with
them, all except the promotion, told about the firing on the pickets,
and that they went back to report that they had found sentries at the
bridge.

“And didn’t they charge across the bridge and capture those pickets?”
exclaimed Mr. Newman, in disgust.

“They didn’t make nary charge that we heard of,” replied Dan. “They said
they would go back and report it.”

“Well, if that ain’t a pretty way to do business I don’t want a cent.
They ought to have a couple of thousand men behind them; then they could
have captured the sentries, and come on up here and gobbled these men.”

It was now Cale’s turn to try his hand.

“Father,” said he, “has a captain any right to promote a man to the same
rank as himself?”

“No,” said his father. “What made you ask that question?”

“Oh, I was just thinking about it.”

“The captain has a right to watch his men in action, and if he sees them
doing any brave act he reports it to the colonel,” said Mr. Newman. “But
he has no authority to promote them himself.”

The boys were satisfied. Cale stretched himself out upon his shake-down
and dropped off into a dreamless slumber, while Dan threw out his
tobacco, filled a pipe with nigger-twist, and sat down and thought about
it. There was one thing he did not neglect to do. While he was lost in
dreaming of the glory that might have been his if his promotion had been
according to law, he did not forget to vow vengeance upon the captain
who had presumed to play upon his credulity in that outrageous way.

“I know just how he looks,” soliloquized Dan, “and if it ever comes in
my way to do him a mean act he’ll see how quick I’ll take him up. But
that promotion is what gets me. How fine that old fellow looked in his
high-topped boots, slouch hat, and gloves that came up to his elbows!
Never mind. I’ll see the day when I will be better off than any of
them.”

Meanwhile there was one soldier in the captain’s ranks who would have
given everything he possessed to have been able to have pulled out his
revolver and shot Dan down when he talked about “that rebel fellow” who
had gone off with a couple of Yanks. He well knew what had brought him
out there. He was Mr. Dawson, and the boy who had escaped at the time
the wagon-train was captured was his son. The boy had lived up to his
agreement, and was now paving the way to take his mother and younger
brothers inside the Federal lines in Jones county.

We have said that Mr. Dawson came out and spoke to the two men who had
come into the yard with him, and they went on, while Mr. Dawson himself
came toward the corn-crib, behind which he knew his boy was concealed.
He was after a saddle, for his own, together with his horse and weapons,
had been taken by the Jones county men when they captured the train. He
had seen his boy go off into the bushes and drew a long breath of
relief, for he knew that his troubles were ended. He obtained the
saddle, placed it on the old clay-bank which had been given to him to
replace the horse he had lost, and rode on and overtook the line just
after they had made a capture of Cale and Dan Newman. He was in
something of a scrape, because if either of the boys saw or recognized
him they might have mistrusted something. So he sat there on his mule,
and heard what Dan had to say about that “rebel fellow,” but no one
thought of connecting him with it. They supposed that young Dawson was
somewhere in Mobile, and that they would find him there when they got
back.

The captain went into all the houses as he went along, but without
finding any preparations for hurried departure. The women came to the
doors as fast as they could find some clothing to put on, obediently
struck a light in response to the captain’s request, and then he
departed with a slight apology for his intrusion. One garrulous old
woman followed him to the door and inquired:

“What did you-uns think you wanted to find, anyway?”

“I just wanted to see if any of your men folks had been at home packing
up goods to take them into the Yankee lines,” said the captain.

“Sho! My men folks been in the Conf’drit army before you was born. They
ain’t seed nuthing to make ’em desert yit.”

Finally they reached the house where Mr. Dawson lived, and he noticed
one thing that attracted his attention at once. There was but a single
dog to welcome him, and he was tied up back of the house. All the others
had gone off somewhere. As the lieutenant reined his horse up close to
the pin the captain turned about and said:

“Why, this is the place where one of you men live, isn’t it? You came in
here after a saddle, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir,” replied a voice from somewhere in the line.

“Your boy is in the service, too. You don’t suppose that he has
deserted, do you?”

“Well, he went off into the woods, and I haven’t seen him since. You can
go in and see for yourself, sir.”

“Seeing is believing. It will not take but a minute.”

The captain dismounted from his horse and pounded loudly upon the closed
door, but met with no response. Then he pushed open the door and entered
the house. By the flickering light that was thrown out by the fire that
was blazing on the hearth the lieutenant found a candle, and when he had
struck a light a scene of the greatest confusion was presented. The
bureau drawers were all thrown every which way, and when they made their
way to the sleeping-room, not a vestige of clothing was there on the
bed.

“Gee-whizz!” shouted the captain. “Here’s where one of those fellows has
been. Arrest that man out there—the one riding the clay-bank mule.”

The men outside began riding about the house, but no such man could be
found. They saw the place where the solitary hound had been confined,
but he was gone, and the man on the clay-bank mule had disappeared.

“Don’t you find him anywhere?” shouted the captain, coming out of the
door in great excitement.

“No, sir. He has skipped,” exclaimed one of the men.

“He’s gone off this way,” shouted another. “I hear somebody going
through the field.”

“Take after him, the last mother’s son of you!” commanded the captain.
“And remember and don’t come back without him. I tell you I’ll get fits
for this, going out on a scout and letting one of my men desert under my
very eyes!”

In an instant the captain and all his men were in hot pursuit of the
horseman whose hoof-beats could just be heard. The chase led through a
wide cotton-field, with a high fence at the other end, but the horseman,
whoever he was, had a long start and seemed determined to make the most
of it. Toward the fence he held, the men scattering out so as to head
him off when he got there, and finally the captain, who rode a splendid
horse, got near enough to the object he was pursuing to see that it was
a clay-bank mule.

“Halt!” he shouted. “We’ve got you, and you might as well give up. If
you don’t we’ll leave you right here for the buzzards to eat. Halt, I
say.”

Still there was no response, and the mule kept on as fast as ever. The
captain began to get angry, and he drew his sabre, intending to cut the
man down when he got within reach of him; but just then they came within
reach of the fence, and the mule turned and ran alongside of it. That
brought him within reach of the captain’s vision (it was so dark that
they couldn’t see the man on the mule’s back), and the officer, after
taking a look or two at the mule, drew up his horse.

“Gee-whiz!” he shouted, making use of his favorite expression; “we have
been chasing that clay-bank mule, but where’s the man on her? The mule
was going home but the man’s got off. Catch him, men, and then we’ll go
back and hunt for somebody else who is hidden somewhere in the bushes.”

The captain was mortified in the extreme, and no doubt he was a little
suspicious. At any rate, he was certain that he heard one or two of his
men giggling softly to themselves. The idea of halting a clay-bank mule
and telling him that if he didn’t give some heed to it he would leave
him there for the buzzards to eat was almost too much for them.



                              CHAPTER XII.
                        THE REBELS TAKE REVENGE.


“Robert,” whispered a voice close to the crack where the chinking had
fallen out, “is that you?”

“For goodness’ sake turn that revolver the other way, Leon!” exclaimed
Dawson, so full of excitement that he could scarcely speak plainly. “It
is my father, and if you kill him I am gone up. What is it, pap?”

“You got away, didn’t you?” continued the voice, and one would have
thought there was a slight chuckle mingled with it, “and you have come
here to take your mother over into Jones county.”

“You’re right, I have,” returned Dawson, gleefully, “and you are here to
help us. I’ve got two Yanks here with me, and they are just as good as
they make them.”

“I thought I heard you mention Leon’s name. Is it Leon Sprague?”

“Yes, sir,” returned the owner of that name. “I am here and ready to
assist him in any way I can.”

“I am glad to see you here,” continued Mr. Dawson, “for I shall know
that we are going to stand some show.”

“Now, father, what shall I do first?” asked Dawson, who was impatient to
get to work.

“Hitch the first two mules you can get to that wagon, and by the time
you have done that your mother will be ready for you. Leave one dog
behind you, so that I can readily follow your trail.”

“Why, are you not going to stay, too?”

“No; I must go on with the squad, and run my risk of getting away
afterward,” replied Mr. Dawson. “I will be missed if I don’t go with
them, and I want you and your mother to get a good start. Be lively, and
work as hard as you can, for I don’t know when we shall be back.”

“What shall I do after I get the mules hitched up?” asked Dawson. “Will
it be safe for me to drive around in front of the house?”

“You can go where you please. There will be nobody to bother you. Keep
up a good heart till I come.”

The man went off to get his saddle, which hung in a remote corner, and
Dawson kept a close watch on him as long as he remained in the crib.
Leon couldn’t help thinking how coolly father and son went about
escaping from serving under the flag they didn’t like. If they made a
success of it, well and good; if they failed, it was certain death to
the one of them that happened to be caught. What would Leon’s own mother
have said if she could have seen him at that moment? When Mr. Dawson got
his saddle and turned to go out he waved his hand toward the crack as a
farewell signal, and that brought the first long breath from the young
fellow at Leon’s side. It was plain now that all the nonsense was gone
out of him.

“There goes the best father that any fellow ever had,” said Dawson. “He
is plucky, too, and when he next joins us he won’t come so still. He’ll
have all that crowd after him. But now I must get to work,” he added,
brightening up. “You fellows can help me by staying right here and
watching these animals, so that they won’t arouse the whole
neighborhood, while I get the team ready.”

“Why don’t you let one or the other of us go with you?” asked Leon.

“You’ll only be in the way; and, besides, I have got plenty of negroes
out there to help.”

Dawson went away, and although the boys who were watching the animals
caught sight of him once in a while through the cracks, it was fully
half an hour before he came back. Then he had the team, which an old
negro was driving, and the wagon was loaded so full that there did not
seem to be room for so much as a skillet anywhere about it. Safely
perched among the feather-beds was his mother, and she was having as
much as she could do to keep the children quiet. On the end-board in
front was Cuff, who was talking to his mules in a quiet sort of way, and
it was astonishing how much speed he got out of them. Following along
behind the wagon were ten or fifteen negroes, who wished her every
success in her journey and promised to come to her on the following day.
The dogs were there, too, all except the one that had been tied behind
the house, and they seemed to think they were going off on a pleasure
trip.

“Now, then,” said Dawson, taking his bridle from Leon’s hand and
mounting his horse, “you darkies have followed us far enough. Go back
now and go to bed, and remember and don’t come out of your house again
to-night, no matter how much noise is made here. Leave that dog tied up.
Father wants him to follow our trail by. Good-bye. Now, Cuff, whip up.
We don’t want to stay around here any longer. Mother, take a good look
at your home, for it is your last chance to see it.”

“No, Robert, I will see it in my dreams, anyway,” replied his mother,
who was almost heart-broken at the idea of separating herself for so
long a time from all her associations. “If your father only comes up
with me I shall be satisfied.”

“What do you think of that, Leon?” asked Dawson, as the wagon passed on
out of hearing. “These rebels want killing. Father brought my mother to
that house when he first married her, and we have lived there ever
since. I am going to shoot every rebel that comes in my way.”

Leon did not know what reply to make to this. It was probable that his
own mother might be obliged to leave her home in the same way, and he
didn’t know how he would feel if she were turned loose in the world. It
was no wonder, he thought, that Union men should talk of killing every
rebel that came within reach. He knew he would feel so, too.

“There is one thing about it,” said Dawson, with something that sounded
like a sigh. “A woman has more pluck than a man to stand under such
things. I never believed so until to-night.”

The road they intended to take had evidently been explained to Cuff
before they started, for he took to the lane that led through the
cotton-fields, and he kept his mules on a keen trot all the way. Dawson
didn’t go so fast. He allowed the wagon to gradually get ahead of him,
in order to cover their retreat, and of course the boys stayed behind
with him. When they arrived at the cover of the woods Cuff turned into
it, and in a few moments more was out of sight, while Dawson turned his
horse into a fence-corner and dismounted.

“Now, we will wait here for father,” said he.

“Where’s your wagon?” asked Leon.

“They are going on ahead toward the bridge. Taken in connection with
those pickets I saw there they will get across, too, because I believe
they would turn out to help us. Now, if you see that squad coming back
along the road, just hold your breath. Father is with that crowd.”

Leon had never known what excitement was before. He tried to take it
coolly, as Dawson did, but did not succeed very well. He threw the
bridle off his horse’s neck and placed it around his arm, leaned on the
top rail of the fence and kept watch of the road, and all the while he
kept thinking how he would have felt if his father had been with that
squad of Confederates and watching for a chance to escape. Tom Howe took
it philosophically, as Dawson did. He had a mother to worry over him,
but all he cared for was the successful outcome of Dawson’s scheme. The
baying of the lonely hound came faintly to their ears, but with the
exception of that, silence reigned unbroken. They stood leaning on the
fence, watching first the house and then allowing their eyes to roam as
far down the road as they could reach, and finally Tom broke the
stillness.

“I see some fellows away off in that direction,” said he, pointing with
his finger to direct the attention of his comrades, “who are coming
along this way. There’s a whole body of them, too.”

“The time is coming,” said Dawson, after he had taken a look at the
advancing horsemen. “We’ll know in a minute what’s going to happen.”

After that all was still again. The three boys stood there in the
fence-corner and watched the men when they rode into the yard, and in a
few minutes the baying of the hound ceased. Judging from the distance
they were from the scene, there was a fearful commotion in the house.
Men were seen riding rapidly about, a faint voice like a command came to
their ears, and the squad suddenly vanished from view.

“Father has the start of them at last,” exclaimed Dawson, so excited and
nervous that he could not stand still.

“Why, how do you make that out?” asked Leon. “You must have an owl’s
eyes, for I can’t see anything from here.”

“Neither can I; but he is doing just what I would have done if I had
been in his place. You don’t hear the hound any longer, do you? Well,
you just wait until father comes up and he will tell you that the men
are chasing a riderless mule.”

Leon began to understand the matter now, and he was utterly amazed at
the strategy the man had used. He had dismounted from his clay-bank,
given him a tremendous dig from some weapon or other he had in his hand,
knowing that the mule would go home before he would go anywhere else,
unloosed the dog, which showed him the way down the lane, and he was now
coming that way with the speed of the wind. His pursuers had gone on
after the mule, and were leaving him behind every moment. All this Leon
went over for the benefit of Tom Howe, and Dawson simply nodded his head
and then walked out in the lane to find his father. Presently he saw the
hound, which sprang upon him, delighted to see him, and a long way down
the lane behind him came his father.

“That’s father’s lope and I know it,” said Dawson, addressing himself to
his companions. “He’ll hold that for two hours in order to beat a deer
on his runway. But I am going to show him that I am a good soldier. Who
comes there?” he added, in a voice pitched just loud enough to reach the
fugitive’s ears.

“It is I, Robert,” came the joyful response; and in a few seconds Mr.
Dawson came up. “By George, I have had a good race for it!” he went on,
pulling his hat from his head and using his crooked finger to remove the
big drops of perspiration that clung there. “Now, let us see what those
laddy-bucks are going to do with the house.”

“You’ll never see it again after to-night,” replied Dawson. “Father,
this is Leon Sprague, who has stuck to me all along.”

“Leon, I am glad to meet you,” said Mr. Dawson, extending his hand. “If
you wait here for a few minutes you’ll see what you are going to come
to. The rebels are making up an organization already to go up to Jones
county and clean them out.”

“And, father, here’s another Yank that we must not forget,” said Dawson,
laying his hand upon Tom Howe’s shoulder. “He’s little, but he don’t say
much. You heard about the boy that came so near losing his life during
the last drive? Well, sir, he’s the man, and there is the one who saved
him.”

“I’m no Yank,” returned Tom, indignantly. “I am Tom Howe, Southern born,
the same as yourself; but I hate a rebel.”

“I am glad to know you, Tom, and sometime, when I get opportunity, I am
going to shake hands with you. You see the reason we never knew you
before is because you kept to the river during your drives, and never
came back into the country at all,” said Mr. Dawson, turning to Leon.
“Now, we will wait here a few minutes and see what those fellows are
going to do with the house.”

They were not obliged to wait very long, for the squad soon returned,
having captured the clay-bank mule, and two of them at once proceeded to
ride out the lane in which the fugitives had gone. They came on until
they got within fifty yards of the woods, and there they stopped.

“I declare they are coming on in pursuit of us,” whispered Leon, drawing
one of his revolvers and resting it upon the top rail of the fence in
readiness to shoot.

“That’s the captain and the lieutenant,” said Mr. Dawson. “They’re not
coming any further. When they see that we have gone into the woods they
will go back. There isn’t a man in that squad that dare trust himself
within reach of these thickets.”

[Illustration: THE OLD HOMESTEAD DOOMED.]

The boys stood there and watched the two men—Leon at the bridle of his
horse to hold his head down, and Tom keeping a firm hold of his mule’s
tail—and finally they saw one of them alight and strike a match. By the
aid of the light which it threw out they examined the ground and easily
saw the wagon-tracks, but they didn’t care to go any nearer the woods.
They held a short consultation, after which they turned their horses and
rode back to the house.

“I told you they wouldn’t come any further,” said Mr. Dawson. “If I was
in command of that squad I would think twice before I would put my men
in danger of certain death by bringing them in here.”

Mr. Dawson leaned upon the fence again and devoted himself to the house.
He wanted to see what was going to happen to his property before he went
away. He had not held this position for more than five minutes before
his heart gave a violent throb, and then he became satisfied that the
enemy was carrying out his plan of setting fire to the house. He saw a
bright light on the inside, which grew brighter every moment, and
finally the flames came out of the doors and windows. And not only the
house, but the barns, the corn-crib and the negro cabins went up in
smoke.

“Well, boys, I have seen enough,” said Mr. Dawson, turning away to
follow up the wagons. “The rebels have one enemy now that they never had
before. Which way did your mother go, Robert?”

“Yes, and they have got two now,” said Dawson, who was almost ready to
cry when he saw the home of his boyhood going up in flames. “I’ll shoot
every rebel that comes across my path.”

“What could you expect in war times?” said his father. “Of course, I
looked for them to burn my house—indeed, I should do the same if I were
on their side; but there’s one thing they can’t burn, and that is the
ground. When these troubles are all over, if we live to see it, we have
the plain land with which to start over again.”

“But what have they done with our black ones?”

“Oh, they have gone.”

“Gone where?”

“They are on the road towards Mobile before this time.”

“Well, I’ll bet you they don’t keep them there long,” said Dawson,
angrily. “They will have to watch them all the time or they’ll get away.
Mother went out this way, father.”

“You see, it wouldn’t do for them to leave the darkies with us,” said
Mr. Dawson, pausing for a few moments to allow the boys time to mount
their animals, “because we are traitors to the South. They calculate to
whip us, and when the war is ended we’ll have to get out.”

“But they ain’t a-going to whip us,” said Dawson.

The fugitives followed along the road—it had been cut in better times,
to enable the planter to haul out the logs—for a mile or more, and then
they came up with the wagon, which had halted for them to come up. They
had been within sight of the burning house all the while, and the
mother, although she had all she could do to choke back her tears, was
endeavoring to explain the matter to her children, who could not see
into it at all. When young Robert appeared in sight, they forthwith
assailed him with questions.

“Say, Bobo, what’s the matter?” said the elder.

“Oh, some men wanted to burn our house, and so we had to get out and let
them do it,” returned Dawson.

“Go on, Cuff,” said Mr. Dawson; and all he did was to reach in and give
his wife a cordial grasp of the hand. “Keep right in this road until you
strike the main road, and then go for the bridge the best you know how.”

“But, Bobo, I don’t see what them folks should want to burn our house
for,” said the boy. “We’ve always minded our own business—”

“Wait till we get to where we are going and then I will tell you all
about it,” said Dawson; and that settled the question of burning the
house until the party reached Ellisville.

Following the directions of his master, the negro stuck to the
woods-road, while Mr. Dawson and the boys stopped in a fence-corner to
reconnoiter. The house was a mile away, but it threw out so much light
that anything that happened around it could be plainly seen. They saw
some of the men moving about, and when everything was well started they
all mounted their horses and disappeared down the road in the direction
of Mobile. But they had an old soldier to contend with in Mr. Dawson,
who did not leave his hiding-place for an hour. He didn’t know but some
of the men would come back, and so get between him and the bridge and
cut him off, and that was the reason he waited there in the
fence-corner. While he waited there he talked, but it was not about
anything connected with his recent misfortune.

“Do you boys happen to know anything about Dan Newman?” said he.

“Yes, sir, we know him,” replied Leon, with a smile. “And we know Cale,
too.”

“Well, what sort of fellows are they?”

“It’s my opinion that they are all rebels,” said Leon, with emphasis.
“The amount of it was that the old man expected to get some kind of a
position, and when he didn’t get it he turned against us.”

“That’s just what I supposed,” said Mr. Dawson. “Robert, I heard all
about you before I ever saw you to-night.”

“Who told you?” asked his son, in surprise.

“Dan Newman told me; or, rather, he told it to the captain and I
overheard it.”

“Was he out here?” asked Leon, and he was so surprised that he could
scarcely believe he heard aright. “Was he out here among the rebels?”

“He was, and he was the one that kept the squad from running into the
pickets stationed at the bridge.”

Mr. Dawson then went on to tell what he knew about Dan, and before he
got fairly started he had two surprised and angry boys for listeners.
When he told how “that rebel fellow” had ridden on before them in
company with Leon and Tom, and that he could easily capture them if they
would only wait until they came back, Leon took off his hat, scratched
his head and declared:

“If that fellow is at home when we get there I am going to have him
arrested. I don’t see why the fellow didn’t wait.”

“Well, I don’t think he paid much attention to what Dan had to say,”
replied Mr. Dawson. “He preferred to go on and see how many men there
were at the bridge, and when he came back he would look into all the
houses and see if there had been any evidences of hasty departure. I
guess he didn’t find any until he got to our house, and then he found
all he wanted,” added Mr. Dawson, with a laugh.

“Well, now, this beats me,” said Leon.

“Don’t it?” replied Tom.

“There was one amusing thing that was connected with the interview,”
said Mr. Dawson, “and that was Dan’s rapid promotion. The captain made
him a captain, too, and his brother a lieutenant.”

“Why, had the captain right to do that?”

“Certainly not; but the captain saw what manner of man he was, and so
promoted him on the spot. I thought I had better tell you of this, so as
to put you on your guard.”

“Thank you; and you may be sure that we shall take advantage of it.
Captain Newman! How that sounds!”

As for Tom Howe, he was almost beside himself with fury. When Leon
punched him in the ribs and asked him what he thought about it, he
simply shook his head and said nothing. After awhile he inquired: “Was
Cale there?”

“Yes, Cale was there, but he didn’t have much to say.”

“No matter. He was knowing to it all, and he would have been the worst
one in the lot if he had only dared.”

“What would you have done, Robert?” asked Leon of his rebel friend,
although the latter hadn’t made any remark thus far.

“What would I have done if they had laid alongside the road and tried to
capture us?” replied Dawson, and there was much more determination in
his words than Leon had ever noticed before. “Well, sir, I wouldn’t have
been here now. Didn’t you hear me say that I would drop before I would
be captured? I meant every word of it. If I should be taken prisoner I
would only be hanged, and I would rather be shot than that.”

“Well, boys, I have seen enough to make me believe that the rebels have
gone home,” said Mr. Dawson. “Now let’s go and find your mother and see
how much luck we will have in getting by the sentries.”

“Oh, we won’t have any trouble there,” said Leon. “I’ve got the
password.”

“Yes; but it won’t be of any use to you in broad daylight.”

“Then I’ll make my face pass us. Everybody about here knows Leon
Sprague.”

They had something more to do in coming up with the wagon, for Cuff,
when he struck the main road, kept on “the best he knew how,” so they
had almost reached the bridge when they came within sight of his span of
mules. After a short consultation it was decided that Leon and Tom
should go on ahead to smooth the way for the fugitives, leaving them to
follow with the team; so they galloped their horses and presently heard
a voice ordering them to halt. By this time it was almost sunrise, and
Leon, profiting by the experience of the old soldier, didn’t say he had
the countersign. He and Tom stopped and got off their horses.

“Well, I declare, it’s you, ain’t it?” said the one who came out to see
who and what they were. “Did you see anything of the rebels last night?”

“I should say we did,” returned Leon, with a laugh. “We stood right by
and saw Mr. Dawson’s house burn up.”

“Was that before they fired into us?”

“Why, I didn’t hear anything about that. Did they shoot into you?”

“Yes, sir; and they killed Bach Noble as dead as a hammer. You see he
was standing guard when they crept up and had no show to defend himself;
but we got the better of them.”

“What did you do with Bach?”

“We laid him out there in the bushes and sent a man up to Ellisville
after a wagon to take him home. He was the first man killed on our side,
but I’ll bet he ain’t the last.”

“You are sergeant of this post, are you not?”

“I reckon. That’s what they call me.”

“I want you to pass along this road a party of rebels who are now coming
toward us. I saw their houses burned last night. They are mighty tired
of fighting our fellows, and are now going over into Jones county to
battle under our flag. And I will tell you another thing about them:
they won’t take any prisoners. Here they come now.”

“Now, Leon, I reckon you’ll swear by them?”

“I will, any day in the week. Ask the man any questions you want to.
They have got children with them, and they wouldn’t surely take them
into an enemy’s country.”

The Dawson party approached, being beckoned to by Leon’s hand, and young
Robert was promptly recognized by the so-called sergeant in charge of
the post. He shook him warmly by the hand, and said if the rest of the
family were as strong for the Union as he was they might all come in and
go on to Ellisville.

“They are as strong,” said Dawson. “If you had stood where my father
stood and saw your property burn up, you wouldn’t have much love in you
for rebels.”

The party passed on over the bridge, lingered there to exchange a word
with the squad on guard at the bridge and to look at the blood-stains
the sentinel had left when he fell, and finally kept on the road to
camp.



                             CHAPTER XIII.
                            CALE IN TROUBLE.


The Dawson party now drew a long breath of relief. They had crossed the
bridge and were now on the road to Ellisville, the pickets were between
them and their pursuers, and all danger of capture was passed. Young
Robert walked along beside his horse—the elder Dawson seemed determined
to foot it, and his son kept him company—and, judging from the remarks
exchanged between husband and wife, all peril of being made prisoners
was gone. Even Cuff drew a long breath and slowed up on his mules, while
Leon and Tom rode on ahead, apparently very much occupied with their own
thoughts. Everybody knew what they were thinking about, and for a long
time no one troubled them; but at last Dawson could stand it no longer.

“It’s rather rough on you, ain’t it, Leon?” said he. “To see where that
sentinel shed his blood is enough to make you believe that you have not
undertaken a picnic.”

“I tell you, boys, you have taken something of a job on your hands,”
said Mr. Dawson. “I never heard of such a thing, and I am afraid before
the thing is up you will find it an impossibility. The sight of a little
blood don’t worry me. When you belong to a company that charges a
battery, and the battery opens on you and kills all but five or six of
you, then it will be time for you to open your eyes.”

“Well, I don’t see why you took that method of finding out how many men
there were at the bridge,” said Leon. “Why couldn’t you have made a fuss
of some kind out there in the bushes and then counted the men when they
came out?”

“Because it was orders,” said Mr. Dawson. “If you were in the rebel army
for a few short weeks you would know what that means. I fired with the
balance, but I shot wild. I never fired at a Union man in my life.”

“But, father, how did you come to be on this scout?” asked Dawson. “You
don’t belong to that company.”

“Oh, no. I happened to be present when the squad was made out, and among
them was an old German fellow who didn’t care to go, and I borrowed his
weapons and mule and went in his place. I expect he’ll get tired waiting
for his weapons before he sees them again. That’s a pretty good
carbine,” added Mr. Dawson, holding his gun off at arm’s length and
looking at it.

“I didn’t know that a man could do that,” said Leon. “I thought you had
to obey orders, no matter whether you wanted to or not.”

“Not in a case like this. I didn’t say anything to anybody about it. I
got on the mule, and when the squad was called together I put in an
appearance. I was afraid that something was going to happen to my
family, and I couldn’t bear to stay behind.”

“I tell you, things turned out all right, didn’t they?” said Dawson,
gleefully. “You came home just in the right time to join us.”

“What I want to know is, am I going to get my horse?” said Mr. Dawson.
“I raised him myself, and shouldn’t like to part with him.”

“You will get your horse all right,” said Leon. “If he has been given to
anybody, that man will have to give him up.”

That settled the matter to the satisfaction of all the Dawson family.
Leon soon began to get over the forebodings caused by that crimson stain
on the floor of the bridge, and riding beside the wagon he kept up a
conversation with Mrs. Dawson, who told him many things connected with
the service that he hadn’t dreamed of. In due time they arrived at
Ellisville. Just as they were going up the main road that led past the
hotel they met a squad of sentinels going down to relieve those at the
bridge. It was plain that an old soldier was in command of them, for
they were closed up, held their guns at a carry and marched by twos. The
two officers who commanded them marched at the head. They had evidently
had some time to drill their men, and the result showed that the
backwoodsmen were not at all behind in military matters. When they came
up, they reined their horses out of the way and passed on without
speaking.

“There’s a squad that is well drilled,” said Mr. Dawson. “But I do not
see why you do not destroy that bridge. It seems to be a world of
trouble to you.”

“There’s a very good reason why we don’t destroy it,” said Leon. “There
are five other places where it can be forded.”

“Why, I hadn’t heard of that,” exclaimed Mr. Dawson.

“Do you remember sending two men up here to make a map of the country?”
asked Leon. “Well, they found it out.”

“And did you let those men go back?”

“No, one of them stayed up here,” said Leon, who somehow could not find
it in his heart to say the man had been killed. “If we destroy the
bridge, anybody like you, who is tired of serving under that old rag,
won’t know that they can get across, and we have nobody to send them to
show where the fords are. We don’t know, ourselves.”

As they drew near to the porch of the hotel, Leon saw his father
standing there. He dismounted and shook him by the hand—he was certain
that his father put a little more grip into the shake than usual—and
presented Mr. Dawson, who, it is not necessary to say, was received with
a hearty welcome.

“The first thing this man wants is his horse,” said Leon.

“Was he with us when we captured that wagon-train?” asked Mr. Sprague.
“If so, he can have his horse. They have not been given out yet.”

“There, sir, you got your horse,” added Leon, turning to Mr. Dawson.
“Now the next thing is, we want to report. Is the President in his room?
Then, father, I want you to come up there with Mr. Dawson. He’s got some
things to tell you that will astonish you.”

His father replied that he didn’t see how he was going to be astonished
any more than he had been, but followed Leon up the stairs to the
President’s office. They found the gentleman there just as they had seen
him before, with a pair of blue jean pants on, which were tucked in
heavy cowhide boots, and no coat on. He greeted Mr. Dawson very
cordially and inquired, in his hearty way:

“So you’ve got tired of serving under a flag that you don’t like, and
have come over here to cast your lot with us. Well, sir, the best we
have got is yours.”

“I am well aware of that, Mr. President,” said Mr. Dawson. “But there is
one thing that I want to post you on at once. It is about that man Dan
Newman.”

Mr. Knight removed the pen from behind his ear and settled back in his
chair. He had been expecting to hear something from Dan Newman for a
long time. Mr. Dawson began and told him the whole story of Dan’s
meeting with the Confederates, his sudden promotion, and all about it,
and when he got done there was an expression on the President’s face
that few people had seen there.

“Well, Dawson, you can go down there and pick out any place you can find
to draw your wagon up,” said he. “You are right at home here. Sprague,
what is your opinion regarding Dan Newman?”

“My opinion is that he ought to be arrested at once,” replied Mr.
Sprague.

“And after that are you going to try him by a court-martial?”

“That will be just as the men say. If he is not tried by court-martial
he will be shipped off among his friends. They can promote him faster
than we can,” said Mr. Sprague, with a smile.

“Well, get to work at once. Take as many men as can surround Newman’s
old shanty and make prisoners of those boys. If the old man says too
much, bring him along, too. Dawson, I shall send for you presently.”

“Very good, sir. I will be on hand when I am wanted.”

Mr. Sprague lost no time in getting his men together, and while he was
hunting them up Dawson held a short interview with his father.

“Now, you take my horse,” said he, “and when we get back we’ll get your
nag. Of course Leon is going to arrest Newman, and I am going with him.
Turn into any open place you can find in the grove, and there make your
camp. You will find them all friendly here.”

Mr. Dawson mounted the horse and led the wagon down the road, and just
then Bud McCoy came up. Bud was always on hand when he was wanted. He
got so in the habit of staying close around to Mr. Sprague that it was
not long before the men came to call him Colonel Sprague’s body-guard.
But Bud didn’t mind that. He said he got more to do by being around
there than he could anywhere else, and that was what a Union volunteer
wanted in times like these.

“What’s up?” he exclaimed. “What does the old man want with volunteers?”

“He is going out to arrest Dan Newman,” said Leon.

“Well, there; I always thought that man ought to be arrested,” said Bud.
“He has been preaching up secession docterings till you can’t rest.
What’s he been doing now?”

It did not take long for Leon to make Bud understand the matter, and as
he went on to tell what Dan had been guilty of, the scowl on the man’s
face changed to one of furious hatred. When Leon ceased he struck his
fist into his open palm with a ringing slap.

“You’ll go, too, won’t you?”

“Of course I’ll go. I ain’t a-going to stand no fooling like that. He
has said enough to hang him higher’n Haman.”

While they were talking Mr. Sprague was seen coming at the head of five
men whom he had summoned to make the arrest. We said he had summoned
five men, but the news of what he wanted to do had gradually worked its
way through the camp until there were more than twenty men who were
slinging on their bullet-pouches and hurrying to catch up with those who
had been summoned. The feeling was so great against Newman that all
hands wanted to have a finger in his arrest. As he passed by the porch
of the hotel, Leon, Tom and Dawson joined him.

“There’s one thing about it,” said Leon, looking back at the stalwart
fellows behind him. “No Newman can get away from this party.”

“You’re mighty right,” said one of the men. “It’s a wonder to me that
your father didn’t arrest him long ago.”

“See here, boys,” said Mr. Sprague, from the head of the column. “Be
quiet and still. Those Newmans are like quails; they’ll run and hide if
they hear a twig snap. When we come up with the house I’ll give the
word, and then you know what to do.”

[Illustration: THE NEWMANS IN TROUBLE.]

Silently the men fell in behind their leader, and swiftly did they work
their way toward the shanty. It was probably half a mile to where it was
located, and although everybody moved so cautiously that they were
certain not a twig snapped, they were not careful enough to conceal
their presence from the man they were going to arrest. At length, when
Mr. Sprague dashed aside the thicket and stepped out into the little
space that surrounded the cabin, they saw Newman and his wife at the
door. The former held in his hand an axe, and the other had a skillet,
which she flourished to and fro as the men approached.

“What do you want here?” exclaimed Newman, and he lifted his axe
threateningly in his hand.

“Surround the house, boys,” said Mr. Sprague. “We’ll talk to you in a
minute.”

The most of the men were prompt to act upon this suggestion, and no
sooner had Bud McCoy, who was leading one squad, appeared behind the
house than he caught a glimpse of Cale Newman in the act of leaving it
through the window.

“Ah! here you are, my fine lad,” said Bud, seizing him by the arm.
“Where’s that brother of yours?”

“Oh, now, what are you going to arrest me for?” exclaimed Cale, who
turned white and trembled in every limb. “I ain’t done nothing. Father,
do you see what they are doing?”

“We hain’t done you no harm yet, but just wait until we get back—”

Bud had been on the point of looking in at the window to see if he could
discover anything of Dan, when, to his surprise, there came something
down on his head which knocked the hat over his eyes and narrowly
escaped laying him out flat. It was the skillet in the hands of the old
woman; but Bud didn’t wait to see what it was. He straightened himself
up by the side of the house, and when the skillet descended a second
time he caught it in his hand and came within an ace of jerking the
woman through the window. He wrested the novel weapon from her and threw
it as far as possible into the bushes.

“Say, old woman, you want to keep your distance!” said Bud, who was so
angry that he could scarcely talk straight. “You try that again and I’ll
have you through that window!”

By this time the men from the front part of the house had entered
through the door—the man with his axe didn’t make half the battle his
wife did—but no Dan was there to be seen. You will remember that when he
came back he sat down with his pipe to smoke and think over the perfidy
of the captain in giving him promotion when he had no business to do it,
and that he had not yet gone to bed. While smoking he was startled by a
noise in the bushes. He listened, but the noise increased and grew
louder, and in an instant it flashed upon him that his interview with
the rebel captain was known. That was enough to start him into the
bushes. Giving his father a sign to call Cale, he was out of sight in a
moment, and all efforts to find him were useless.

“Here’s one of them, colonel!” said Bud, coming around the house. “Now,
where’s the other?”

The man had been disarmed of his axe, and the woman didn’t seem to have
any more fight left in her, the powerful jerk she got from Bud
satisfying her that the best thing she could do was to keep quiet; but
they had plenty of talk left in them.

“Of all the mean things that I ever saw this is the beat!” said Mrs.
Newman, as she gazed around at the number of men that had come there to
take her boy into custody.

“It is an outrage!” chimed in Mr. Newman, stamping about over the floor
as if he were almost beside himself. “They come with an army of men to
take away one little fellow! I hope you feel duly ashamed of
yourselves.”

“Let go my coat!” exclaimed Cale to the man who held him tight by his
collar to see that he did not escape. “What are you going to do with
me?”

“We’ll put you in jail; that’s what we’ll do with you,” said the man.
“You have preached up secession long enough.”

“Say, father, are you going to let that old jail stand?” demanded Cale,
trying hard to escape from the grip that held him. “You said that you
would cut it down if they took any of us there.”

“Where’s your brother?” demanded Bud.

“He’s gone where you won’t find him,” retorted Mrs. Newman. “Now, I want
you to turn my boy loose.”

“We have had enough out of you,” said Mr. Sprague, who had looked all
around in the hope of finding Dan hidden somewhere in the house. “If you
say another word I’ll take you along to keep Cale company. You two stay
here and watch the cabin, one in front and one at the back,” he added,
pointing out two of the men he wished to obey his orders. “Don’t let
Newman and his wife go out of doors, and if Dan comes back here, gobble
him up. I will relieve you in a couple of hours. Forward, the rest of
us.”

Taking Cale along the narrow path that led through the woods was as much
as two men wanted to do, he kicked and struggled so furiously. As long
as he remained within reach of his father he constantly appealed to his
father to “cut down the jail” so that he could not be confined there,
and it was only when Mr. Sprague threatened him with the gag that he
condescended to keep still. They hustled him along the half a mile that
led to Ellisville, and when they arrived within sight of the grove they
found all the men there to see how they had come out. Cale must have
listened to some things that astonished him, for he heard one man say
that hanging was too good for such as he was, and advocated that he be
tied to a tree and left there. He was marched through the crowd of men,
some of whom shook their fists in his face, and up the stairs that led
to the President’s office. Then the men let go of his collar, and in an
instant every inch of standing-room was filled. There wasn’t the least
chance for escape.

“Well, Cale Newman,” said the President, taking off his spectacles and
settling back in his chair, “you tried to get those Confederates last
night to go after our boys.”

“I never,” began Cale.

“I am not here to argue the matter with you; I am here to tell you what
you have done,” said Mr. Knight. “They offered you promotion in case you
would do something for them.”

“Well, I’ll tell you how it was,” said Cale, who didn’t think that he
was betraying his brother by the confession he was about to make. “The
captain offered to make me lieutenant, but I didn’t think he had any
right to do it.”

“Ah!” said the President.

“Yes; and my brother he offered to make captain. Dan was in for it, but
I was a little jubius. He offered to show them where Leon and that rebel
fellow was, but the captain said he would go on and see how many men
they were at the bridge.”

“And that was the time they killed Bach Noble,” said Mr. Knight, with
suppressed fury.

“Well, it was all in war times, wasn’t it?”

“War times? What do you mean by that?” ejaculated the President, while a
restless movement among the men told that they did not uphold anybody in
thus taking the life of a sentry. Bach Noble was one of the most popular
lumbermen in the county, and this method of shooting him just because it
“was war times” aroused all the anger there was in them. A word from the
President would have seen Cale swung up to a tree in less than no time.

“It was war times, wasn’t it?” inquired Cale, who seemed to think he had
said too much.

“We’ll not discuss that. The Confederate captain offered you and your
brother promotion. Then what?”

By a little questioning Mr. Knight got at all that had transpired during
their interview with the Confederate captain, and the old soldiers that
were in there were amazed when they saw how green Dan was. After
thinking a moment, he said:

“I don’t think that Cale has been guilty of treason. What do you men say
to that?”

“No,” said a voice. “But he has been giving out docterings that won’t go
down with this county.”

“That’s so,” chimed in others.

“I acknowledge that,” said Mr. Knight. “But I say let’s shut him up and
keep him until we can catch his brother. He can’t be far off.”

“I noticed that some of my men went into the bushes to find him,” said
Mr. Sprague. “Some of them haven’t returned yet.”

“Very well. We’ll shut Cale up until we find that slippery brother, and
then we’ll examine them both. We’ll find a room somewhere in the hotel—I
see Bass Kennedy has got his corn in the jail and it would be hardly
worth while to take it out for the sake of one prisoner—and, Eph, if you
will keep watch of him I will relieve you in a couple of hours.”

“Well, say, Knight,” began Cale.

“Mister Knight, if you please. I am mister to all such fellows as you
are. What were you going to say?”

“I want you to understand that you dassent hang me,” said Cale, not
daring to venture upon the man’s surname again. Like everybody else in
the county he had learned to call a man by his name without any fixture
to it, and he did not care to begin now. His father had always spoken of
him as “Knight,” and Cale thought he was as good as the President.

“Dassent, eh?” said Mr. Knight, with a look of surprise. “You will find
that we dare do anything.”

“But I tell you that my father will tell the folks at Mobile about it,”
whined Cale, almost ready to cry.

“There you have it. Shut him up. Eph, you want to open the door every
time you hear the clock strike, to see if he is there. If there is no
further business before the meeting it stands adjourned.”

Eph at once seized his prisoner and hurried him before the proprietor of
the hotel, who at once hit upon a room that would do for his
confinement.

“We’ll put him high up, so that he can’t get down,” said he. “We’ll put
him up in the third story. Come on.”

Taking a key from behind his desk, the proprietor led the way up the
stairs until he came to a small room with only one window in it, pushed
open the door and stood aside, so that Cale could enter. There was
literally no furniture in the room, it all having been removed
down-stairs, so that it could be ready to be moved whenever Mr. Faulkner
got ready to go to the swamp.

“Now, sir, you’ll stay here till you come out to be hung,” said Eph,
giving him a shove.

“Good mercy me!” exclaimed Mr. Faulkner, opening his eyes in surprise.
“Is that what’s to become of him? Well, it’s a mighty hard death for a
young man to die.”

“Oh, no, they dassent hang me,” said Cale, almost ready to cry again.

“If we do your pap will tell the folks in Mobile about it,” said Eph,
with a sneer. “Well, you tell your folks in Mobile to go somewhere and
do something about it. Didn’t you hear what our President said, that we
dare do anything?”

“He ain’t any more a President than I be,” declared Cale, boldly.

“Let me hear you say those words again and I’ll begin operations right
here!” said Eph. “He’s as much of a President as Jeff Davis, and I am
not going to hear a word said against him. Go in there!”

“Hold on. He hasn’t got a chair. I’ll get one.”

Mr. Faulkner was gone not more than two minutes and came back with a
chair, which was pushed into the room, and then the jailer locked the
door and put the key into his pocket. Cale took a look around his
prison, and then walked to the window and took a good look there, too.
It wasn’t a great ways to the ground, and Cale was certain, if his
enemies did not put a sentry there to see that he did not drop down and
take himself safe off, his escape would be an assured thing. He tried
the window, and was gratified to find that it yielded to his touch. Then
he walked back to the chair and seated himself upon it.

“Those Union men is mighty smart,” he soliloquized. “Because I am three
stories up they think I am safe. I’ll show them how easy it will be for
me to hang by my hands and drop down. And they talk about hanging me!
I’ll bet they can’t do it.”

The muffled tread of the sentry came to his ears, and finally, when the
clock struck, Eph opened the door to see if he was there.



                              CHAPTER XIV.
                            LEON A PRISONER.


“Ah!” said Eph, “you’re there yet. You are thinking over how you can
escape being hung for your treason. Well, that’s a good way to put in
one’s time.”

Cale did not answer. He sat with his elbows on his knees and his head
bowed upon his hands, and he was thinking deeply—not of how he could
escape being hanged, but of where he should go and what he should do in
case he made the attempt at escape successful. He had heard Mr. Sprague,
when he placed sentinels over his house, one in front and another
behind—had heard him tell them not to let his father or mother go out of
the house—and he knew it would be foolhardy to go home after that. The
sentries would capture him and bring him back to his prison. Eph took an
unbounded delight in bothering the boy. He knew that the most that would
be done with Cale would be to ship him off among his friends, and that
would be the last of him. He glanced at the window to see that it was
all right, and then went out, closing the door behind him.

“That fellow keeps telling me that I am going to be hung,” said Cale,
raising his head and glancing at the door through which Eph had just
gone out. “What would I give to be in here at night when he comes in and
finds the window open and Cale Newman gone? I tell you that would be
worth some money. Now, if I could only find Dan. He would know where to
go and what to do.”

For long hours Cale sat there and listened to the tread of the sentinel,
and every time the clock struck down-stairs he lifted his head and
looked at the sentinel, who opened the door and looked in. They were
changed every two hours, and finally it began to grow dark. By that time
Cale began to grow hungry, and while he was thinking about it the door
opened and in came Mr. Faulkner, whose hands were filled with bedclothes
and eatables.

“I can’t bear to have any man around me who I know is hungry, even if he
is going to be hung,” said he. “Let me put this bread and meat on the
chair. There’s something for you to lie down on. It’s pretty rough, I
know, but I expect you get rougher at home. Good-night and pleasant
dreams.”

Cale examined the bedclothes as well as he could in the dark, and found
that he had a pillow and, what was better than all, two quilts, which he
could tear up, fasten to the chair, and thus let himself down from the
window. He chuckled to himself and devoted his attention to the viands.
By the time he had got through the sentry opened the door, and Cale saw
a light streaming in.

“Oh, I’m here yet,” said Cale.

“I know you are,” said the man. “And you’re going to stay there until
you come out to be hung.”

“All right. But you won’t hang me until you catch my brother. He had the
most to do with talking with that captain.”

“No matter. You was knowing to it all, and that counts for a heap
against you.”

The sentry closed the door, and in an instant Cale was on his feet.
Things had to be done in a hurry, and quietly, too, for in an hour more
the man would look in to see if his prisoner was all right. It was
something of a job to tear the quilts; but fortunately he had them all
done at last, and when he knotted them together he was glad to see how
long they were. He didn’t think he would be obliged to drop more than
ten feet.

The next thing was opening the window and fastening the quilts to the
chair; but he accomplished it without alarming the sentinel, and drawing
in a long breath, he launched himself over the side of the window and
heard the chair bang loudly as he threw his weight upon the quilts. In
his haste the quilts did not do much toward assisting him to the bottom,
for he slid rapidly down them and landed all in a heap under the window
just as the sentry opened the door to see what was going on.

“Are you there yet, Cale?” asked the man, as he looked all around the
room. “By gracious, he has gone!”

With two jumps the man reached the window and leaned over and looked
out. Everything was concealed by darkness, and even the crouching Cale,
who was close to the wall, right under the man’s gaze, escaped his
notice. Then the man thought of his rifle. He rushed back into the hall
and got it, fired it once out of the window, and then went down-stairs
to tell the men what an extraordinary escape Cale had made. This was the
time for the prisoner to make the most of his opportunity. He arose to
his feet and made good time across the narrow cotton-field that lay
between him and the woods, and he never ceased running until he reached
the banks of a little bayou a mile back in the forest, where he stopped
and sat down to rest.

“There, sir,” said Cale, wiping the big drops of perspiration from his
forehead. “I’ve done it; as sure as the world I have done it. That is
the first time I ever was put in jail for something I didn’t do. Let
them get somebody else and talk about hanging them. Now, if I could only
find Dan.”

Cale did not take very long to rest himself before he got upon his feet
again and cautiously worked his way toward his father’s shanty. The
darkness had no effect upon Cale, for he took his course as straight as
he could have done in the daytime. The sentries might have been removed
by this time, but all the same he made his way stealthily through the
bushes, as though the sentries were there and liable at any minute to
jump out and make a prisoner of him. It would never do to be captured
again, for the next time he would be put where it would be impossible
for him to get away. But he walked right onto Dan, who had been up to
the house for the same purpose; that is, he wanted to see if there was
any chance for him to communicate with his father. As Cale was working
his way cautiously through the bushes, going so still that he could not
hear the thicket rattle behind him, he was startled out of a year’s
growth by hearing a voice close at his side mutter:

“I’ll be dog-gone if there ain’t Cale!”

“D—Dan, is that you?” stammered Cale, so overjoyed that he could
scarcely speak.

“You’re right, it’s me,” said Dan. “Where you been?”

“They had me shut up in jail,” was the answer.

“In the calaboose?”

“No, in the hotel; and they left one window there without any sentry to
guard it, and I just come out.”

“Well, sir, I will say hereafter that you’ve got pluck. But come up
here. I’ve got something to show you.”

Cale began feeling his way toward the place where Dan was, and in a few
moments he placed his hand upon his shoulder. But there was something
else that he touched there. It was a revolver.

“Why, Dan, where have you been to get that?” asked Cale, in surprise.

“I have not only got that, but the man what owns it,” returned Dan, with
the same pride he would have exhibited had he won an enemy’s colors in
battle. “I’ve got Leon Sprague.”

Cale was so astonished that he couldn’t say anything just then.

“While you have been shut up in jail I have been working for the
glorious cause,” said Dan. “I got him just as easy as falling off a log.
I’ve heard so much tell about Leon’s courage that I was kinder afraid to
tackle him; but pshaw! I handled him as easy as you would handle a
baby.”

Let us now go back for a moment and tell what had happened to Dan while
Cale was being shut up in the hotel. When he came back from holding his
interview with the Confederate captain he did not go to bed, as Cale
did, but filled his pipe with negro-twist and lay down on the ground to
smoke and think. He lay there for an hour—he didn’t want any breakfast;
besides, he was getting tired of corn-bread and bacon, anyway—building
his air-castles and dreaming how proud he would be if he could only hold
a position equal to the captain’s.

“Boots on his feet that came up to his knees and gloves on his hands
that came clear up to there,” said Dan, motioning with his finger to a
point on his arm that came clear up to his elbow. “And didn’t he handle
that horse gay? She was a frisky animal, but he managed her as easy as
if he was seated in a rocking-chair. And, dog-gone him, he went and
fooled me!”

By this time his father had eaten his breakfast and came out to his
usual place on the threshold, pipe a-going. He took a few pulls at the
tobacco, cast his eye up to the clouds to see what the weather was going
to be, and was then ready to begin his topic of conversation.

“The South is going to whip,” said he. “It don’t stand to reason that
one county in the midst of a State that’s in rebellion is going to whip
all the counties around her.”

“But, father, do you think they are going to fight?” asked Dan.

“Fight! No, they won’t. I only wish I could get my position as colonel.
I would show them how to clean these men out.”

“And the men here wouldn’t give you the position of Secretary of War,”
said Dan. “What would you have done if you had got that position?”

“Eh? Well, I would have done a heap more than that old Sprague is doing,
I can tell you that. I would have made you boys officers, to begin with.
You would make a bully captain, Dan.”

“That’s just what I think, and—and—I ought to be one, too.”

“Yes; and think of the money we would make. That’s what makes me so down
on all these officers. That must be worth six or eight thousand dollars
a year.”

“Whew!” whistled Dan. “And old Sprague is making that much?”

“I have no doubt of it. At any rate they might have offered it to me,
and I would ask how much they was going to give. If the price didn’t
suit me—What’s the matter?” added Mr. Newman, seeing that Dan removed
his pipe from his mouth and sat up straight on the ground. “Do you hear
anything?”

“Father, there is some one coming along through the bushes,” said Dan,
involuntarily lowering his voice to a whisper. “And they are coming
fast, too.”

Mr. Newman listened, and presently he heard the faint rustle of the
thicket as a body of men worked its way through them. It was still very
faint, but it came plainly to his ears.

“I’ve got to go,” said Dan, hurriedly. “You call Cale.”

“What have you been a-doing?” said his father, in astonishment. “You
stay where you are, and if they should put one of you in the calaboose
I’d cut it down as soon as I could get to it with my axe.”

“I know, but I’ll tell you at some future time what I have been a-doing.
Call Cale.”

Dan turned and made a dive for the bushes, and no sooner had he
disappeared than Mr. Sprague came in sight. While Mr. Sprague was
holding his colloquy with the father and mother, who stood at the door,
and Bud McCoy had gone around the house in time to catch Cale Newman
coming out of the window, Leon noticed the pipe which Dan had thrown
down, and which was not yet extinguished. He took a few pulls at it, and
it went as lively as it ever did.

“Dan is out here in the bushes,” said he to Tom and young Dawson, who
remained close at his side. “Let’s go out and capture him.”

“All right,” said Dawson. “Let us spread out a little, so that we will
cover more ground. Be in a hurry, now.”

Leon was out of sight before he had ceased speaking. He made no attempt
to draw his revolver, for he did not think it would be worth while. He
had always known Dan, and knew him to be a lazy, worthless fellow, but
he was little prepared for what happened afterward. He was looking
everywhere for Dan—he must have been half a mile or more from his
friends by this time—when suddenly, as he pressed down a thicket to look
into it, he felt something on his back and he was thrown violently on
his face. Knowing in a minute what it was, his hand went behind him, but
he felt some fingers at work with his own, and his revolver was torn
from his grasp. A feeling of horror came over him when he knew that he
was disarmed. The weight was lifted off his back, he was rolled over, so
that he could see what he had to contend with, and his own revolver was
looking him in the face. It was cocked, too, and it needed only the
pressure of a finger to make all things blank to him. It was Dan Newman
who was bending above him. His face was very pale, but there was a glint
in his eyes that spoke volumes.

“Not a word out of you,” said Dan, fiercely. “Not a word out of you.
Roll over, with your face downwards.”

Leon had no alternative but to obey. There was shoot in Dan’s eyes, and
Leon saw it. He rolled over, and Dan arose to his feet and took off his
coat, and then his shirt, which he proceeded to tear up into small
strips. It was then a task of no difficulty to bind Leon’s arms. It was
done in less time than it takes to tell it, and then Leon was pulled to
a sitting posture, while Dan stood and looked down at him.

“I’ve got you, ain’t I?” said Dan, who hardly knew whether he stood on
his head or his heels. “Now, what are you going to do about it?”

“I don’t see that I can do anything,” said Leon, wondering if he was to
give up and remain a prisoner in the hands of this man. “You can do what
you please with me.”

“And it pleases me to take you down to Mobile and give you up to our
folks,” said Dan. “Mebbe they’ll think that my company is in a condition
for me to command it. It ain’t often that a man can get the son of a
Secretary of War prisoner, is it?”

Leon did not care to talk any longer. He knew what Dan was going to do
with him, and he did not feel much elated over it. He sat there in
silence and watched Dan, who was grinning all over and hardly knew
whether or not his good fortune had stood him so well in stead or not.
He wanted to be sure about it, and so began a conversation with Leon; or
rather, he talked and Leon listened. He examined his revolver
repeatedly, took aim at certain spots on the trees, and acted for all
the world like one who was bereft of his senses. Having spent an hour in
this way, and being at last satisfied that Mr. Sprague had looked around
the house without being able to find him, Dan thought he would go home
and hold a short consultation with his father.

“The old man will be dreadful glad I’ve got you,” said Dan, wondering
how he was going to leave Leon so that he wouldn’t arouse the whole
neighborhood by his yelling, “and perhaps he’ll think I had better do
something else with you. I want to go home and get a shirt, too, for
these nights are mighty damp.”

“Does the old man believe as you do?” asked Leon. He thought it would be
policy to learn all he could concerning the belief of the squatter’s
family, for he did not expect to remain a prisoner all his life. When he
returned he would know how to go to work. The first thing he did would
be to put all that family under arrest.

“Of course the old man believes as I do,” said Dan. “The South is going
to send men enough in here to whip you. I tell you, Leon, you fellows
are crazy.”

“What are you going to do with that?” asked Leon, referring to a piece
of shirt which Dan was carefully folding.

“I am going to use it as a gag,” said Dan. “You must think that I am a
pretty smart man to go away and leave you with your mouth wide open.
Now, I guess this will do.”

“I assure you that I won’t halloo,” exclaimed Leon, who did not like to
have any of Dan’s clothing in his mouth. “Try me and see.”

“No, I reckon I’d best be on the safe side. If you will let this go into
your mouth, well and good; if not, it will have to go in anyway,” said
Dan, picking up his revolver.

There was but one course open to Leon, and he submitted to have a wad of
shirt tucked into his mouth that almost made him sick. It was tied hard
and fast, too, so that he could not get rid of it. Dan next turned his
attention to his feet, which he bound with another piece of shirt, and
fastened them to a tree so that he could not get up. Then he looked at
the way his hands were fastened and got up, shoving the revolver into
his pocket.

“I won’t be gone but a little while,” said Dan, straightening up the
thicket in which Leon lay. “I reckon I’ll bring the old man back here
with me. You will be glad to see him, I know. My father might have been
top-notch in this county if it hadn’t been for your old man. But no,
they wouldn’t have him for Secretary of War, and now they see what they
made by it.”

Dan took one more look at his prisoner to see that his bonds were all
safe, and then went away. He was hardly out of sight before Leon began
tugging and twisting at his fastenings in the hope of being able to get
rid of some of them; but the harder he worked the more he exhausted
himself. Dan had done his work well, and finally Leon gave it up as a
bad job. Dan was gone fully an hour, and when he came back Leon noticed
that he didn’t have a shirt on. He noticed, too, that he was in pretty
bad humor.

“They have got two sentries up there to the house, dog-gone them, and I
guess they must be waiting for me,” said Dan, as he began to undo the
fastenings that confined Leon’s mouth. “They think I’ll come back after
awhile, but they don’t know Dan Newman.”

When Leon felt the gag removed from his mouth he coughed once or twice
and acted as if he was about to expel the contents of his stomach; but
after awhile he was able to reply to Dan’s question.

“It makes you sick, don’t it?” asked Dan.

“Yes, and that shirt would make anybody sick. I suppose they have got
the sentries there in order to catch you when you come back.”

“But I say they don’t know me,” retorted Dan. “I didn’t go near the
house till I had looked around a bit, and then I saw those men there and
I came away. They won’t let me get even a shirt. I wonder if they have
got Cale?”

“Where was Cale when the men came up to capture you?”

“He was in the house and fast asleep.”

“Then of course they have got him. He didn’t come out of the front door
or I would have seen them. It rather bothers a man to be up all night,
don’t it?”

“Who said I was up all night?” asked Dan.

“I do. You were up all night, and held a conference with that rebel
captain.”

“Who’s got a better right? You fellows here in this county won’t give me
anything, and I have a right to go where I can get to be a captain.”

“Well, untie my feet, will you?” said Leon, who didn’t seem disposed to
discuss this matter with Dan. “You have got them fastened to that
sapling until they hurt me.”

Dan was accommodating enough to untie his feet, but he didn’t make any
move towards untying his hands. After that he sat down and held a long
talk with his prisoner, who, considering the situation in which he was
placed, took the matter very coolly. He knew he couldn’t get away, but
there would come other times, he thought, when his hands would be at
liberty, and then he would try his best at escape. They passed the
afternoon in this way, and finally it began to grow dark. Leon was
getting hungry, and he knew that Dan was bothered the same way, and
consequently he was relieved when his captor said he would try and reach
home again and get something.

“But first I must tie you up,” said he.

“Now, what’s the use of going to all that trouble?” said Leon, who
couldn’t bear the thought of having that shirt thrust into his mouth for
the second time. “I didn’t halloo before.”

“No, of course you didn’t,” said Dan, with a laugh. “’Cause why, the gag
wouldn’t let you. I won’t be gone but a little while, and then I will
untie you.”

Leon yielded with a very bad grace while Dan was placing the gag in his
mouth; and well he might, for there was the revolver, lying within easy
reach of his captor’s hand. He was tied up just as he was before, and
Dan, after a few parting words, disappeared in the darkness.

“Oh, how I wish Tom Howe knew where I was!” panted Leon, after he had
tried in vain to get rid of some of his bonds. “I’ll bet you that I
wouldn’t be here much longer. Now, what will be done with me if I am
given up to the rebels? Beyond a doubt I’ll be hanged, for of course
they will take revenge on my father through me. Well, if I go up there
will be one less to fight them.”

Dan was gone longer than he was before, and when he came back Leon was
surprised to hear him talking to somebody. Of course, it was so dark
that he couldn’t see anything, but as his captor drew near he began to
recognize Cale Newman’s voice. Leon was thunderstruck. He did not know
where Cale had been confined, but by some inadvertence on the part of
his jailers he had got away. Leon was impatient to hear Cale’s version
of it.



                              CHAPTER XV.
                           A FRIEND IN NEED.


“Well, sir, you have got him as easy as falling off a log, haven’t you?”
said Cale, gleefully, as he sat down on the ground beside Leon and
passed his hands over him from head to foot. “It’s Leon, as sure as I am
alive, and you’ve got him tied up hard and fast,” he added, as he felt
of the prisoner’s face.

“Hold on till I take the gag out of his mouth,” said Dan. “He talks as
sassy as you please.”

“He does? Then I would punch him in the mouth for it,” said Cale, who
showed that he could be brave enough when he had the power.

“No, that won’t do,” said Dan, who forthwith proceeded to take the shirt
out of Leon’s mouth. “You are an officer—”

“Oh, get out!” sneered Cale. “I’ll bet you when our officers get him
into their hands they’ll treat him worse than we will.”

“They didn’t treat them so at Mobile when we saw those prisoners brought
in there,” retorted Dan. “We are officers, and I’ll bet you that I will
get some men to command when I give this fellow up.”

Leon took a few moments in which to get over the effect of the shirt
being in his mouth, after which he was ready to talk to Cale; for, as we
said, he was impatient to hear his version of the story of his escape.

“How did you get away, Cale?” said he.

“You thought they had me hard and fast, didn’t you?” said Cale, shaking
his fist at Leon. “Well, they didn’t. They had me in the third story of
the hotel, and once, when the sentinel wasn’t looking, I tore up the
quilts they had given me to sleep on and dug out.”

“Didn’t they have any sentry under the window?” said Leon, astonished at
such a want of foresight on the part of the Union men.

“No, they didn’t; and I took note of that the first thing when I went
in. I stayed up close to the building while the sentry was looking out,
and when he fired his gun to let them know that I had gone I dug out
across the cotton-field until I struck the woods. I wondered what I
should do without Dan, and I run onto him the first thing. Now, what are
you going to do with this fellow?”

“As soon as it comes daylight we’ll take him down to Mobile.”

“Ah! that’s the place for you,” said Cale, giving Leon a pinch. “You
won’t be riding around on that horse of yours and making us all wish we
had one, too. You’ve got the revolver, Dan, and now I’ll have the horse.
I wish father could get away from the house. Mebbe he would make you
stretch hemp right where you are.”

“Well, Cale, as I didn’t have any sleep last night I’ll lie down,” said
Dan. “Do you reckon you can watch him while I doze a little?”

“You’re right, I can,” said Cale, with savage emphasis. “Give me your
revolver. Now, let us see him make a move to get away. I’ll stretch him
out so stiff that he won’t be of any use down there at Mobile.”

“That fellow has got a mighty nice shirt on that I’d like to have,” said
Dan, as he drew his coat about him, but couldn’t confine it, for it had
no buttons. “As soon as it comes daylight I’ll make him shed that linen.
I ain’t a-going among our officers with no shirt on.”

“Why don’t you make him take it off now?” said Cale. “I’ll watch him so
that he can’t run away.”

“No, I guess I’d better be on the safe side. Let it go until to-morrow.”

Leon was glad that he had such a reputation. He was able to sleep warm
for one night at least. His clothing was comfortable, and his coat being
buttoned up to the chin, and being protected from the keen wind by the
thicket in which he was placed, he slept as warm as he would if he had
been at home. The only thing was, his hands hurt him. He knew it would
be of no use to appeal to Dan, so he gritted his teeth and said nothing.
When Leon awoke it was broad daylight. Both his captors were asleep. The
revolver that Cale threatened him with was lying by his side, and all he
needed was his hands at liberty to turn the tables on them in good
shape.

“By gracious!” muttered Leon; and once more he began trying the effect
of Dan’s knots. But they were there to stay. He could not move his hands
at all. “Halloo! here,” he added aloud. “Do you want to go to sleep and
let me run off? I am cold, and it is time I was moving.”

“Well, now, I’ll be shot!” said Dan, opening his eyes and rubbing them,
while Cale made a clutch for the revolver. “It was good of you not to go
away.”

“You can thank yourself for it,” said Leon. “If I could have got away
I’d had my revolver in my hands, and then you would have gone to
Ellisville.”

“Yes; and what would we be doing all that time?” said Cale.

“You shut up!” answered Dan. “You said you could watch him, and so you
did. You went fast asleep watching him.”

“I only just closed my eyes, that’s all,” protested Cale. “If he’d
a-made any move—”

“Oh, shut up, and let’s be moving,” interrupted Dan. “The sooner we get
him where our officers are, the sooner we’ll be rid of him and get
something to eat.”

Leon found that he was somewhat stiff when he came to get upon his feet,
but before they had gone half a mile he stepped off with his accustomed
free stride. Dan led the way with the revolver in his hand, and he was
considerate enough to keep the bushes from striking his prisoner in the
face. Leon knew how far it was to the river, but the distance seemed to
lengthen out wonderfully since he last passed that way. He kept a bright
look-out in the hope that he would meet some of the Union men, but in
this he was disappointed.

“Now, right up that way, not more than a mile, is a company of your
fellows stationed there to watch the bridge,” said Dan, stopping at
length. “How much would you give to holler and bring them down here?”

“Don’t talk to him that way,” exclaimed Cale, disturbed by the thought.
“The first thing you know he will holler.”

“Then this revolver will settle his hash,” said Dan, savagely. “Let him
holler, if he wants to.”

A little further on came the river, whereupon Dan backed off for a few
feet and told Cale to undo the prisoner’s hands. Cale was prompt to
obey, and the first thing that Leon did when he felt his arms free was
to stretch them above his head, as if he enjoyed having them at liberty
once more. He did not make a motion to escape, for there was the
revolver looking him in the face.

“Now take off your clothes, you two, and be ready to swim the river,”
said Dan.

“Am I going over there with him?” asked Cale, and he was thoroughly
frightened at the prospect.

“You go first, and when you get over there you can pick up a club. I’ll
keep his clothes behind with me, and the revolver, too, and if he wants
to run off naked let him go. I bet you he’ll be glad to have his clothes
again.”

The two boys lost no time in taking off their clothes, and there was one
thing that Leon didn’t like pretty well. He would lose his shirt by the
operation; but there was no help for it that he could see. In due time
the boys were all over, and Leon saw his shirt go upon the back of Dan
Newman.

“There, now, I feel like myself again,” exclaimed Dan. “I can go among
our officers now and have a shirt on. Button your coat up tight, Leon,
and no wind can get in. Now you must have your hands tied again.”

This much being accomplished, the prisoner and his captors went ahead at
a more rapid pace, the woods being more open, and they held their course
parallel with the main road. Their object was to get below the bend,
where they would be out of sight of the sentries. At the end of half an
hour they emerged from the woods, and striking the road went on their
way with increased speed.

“Don’t you know some place along here where you can go and get something
to eat?” asked Leon. “I could travel twice as fast if I had something on
my stomach.”

“I was just thinking of that thing myself,” answered Dan. “I am going to
stop at the first house I meet. And remember, Leon, no trying to get
away,” he added, showing the revolver he still carried in his hand.

Leon didn’t make any reply. He knew now that he was beyond all reach of
help, and after he got something to eat—that was the first thing on the
programme—he must make up his mind to face “our officers,” who wouldn’t
be apt to treat him any too well. But first one house was passed and
then another, and as neither Dan nor Cale had the courage to go in and
beg something to eat, Leon finally gave it up as a bad job, and thought
he would have to go on to Mobile before he could get a mouthful to stay
his appetite. At last they came along to a place that Leon remembered.
The first time he saw it there was a pleasant farm-house, and corn-cribs
and negro quarters in abundance; but now everything had been given up to
the flames, and some of the ruins were still smoking.

“Well, I declare, somebody has been burned out, here!” said Dan. “Is
this the place where you came last night, Leon?”

“I was around here somewhere,” replied Leon.

“Then here’s where that rebel fellow lives,” continued Dan. “It serves
him just right. Before I take an oath to support a government and then
go back on it I would deserve to be burned out myself.”

Leon did not make any reply to this, for he thought that Dan might be
burned out and still not lose a great deal by it; but he did not want to
say so for fear of making him angry. His captors had treated him all
right so far, but he knew what the consequences would be if he got them
down on him. While he was thinking about it, and wondering how Tom Howe
and young Dawson would look upon his absence—they certainly would know
he had been captured—they came suddenly around another bend in the road,
and saw before them a long line of horsemen who were travelling as
though they had some place to reach before night. He took a second
glance at them, and saw that they were all dressed in Confederate
uniform.

“There’s some of our men now!” exclaimed Dan, so overjoyed that he took
off his hat and waved it to them. “But, Cale, that ain’t our captain in
front, is it? He was a big man, and this is a little one. There must be
a whole regiment of them, and if that is the case they are going up to
whip the Union men.”

Leon’s heart fairly came up into his mouth. He would know soon what the
rebels were going to do with him. The Confederates discovered them as
soon as they came around the bend, and they kept a close watch of them
until they came up. The man in front certainly was not a captain. He had
a mark on his collar that no one had ever seen before.

“Well, boys, where are you going?” inquired the man; and they found out
before the interview was over that his men called him colonel. Of
course, Dan looked at him with a great deal of respect after he found
out what his rank was.

“Yes, we’ve got a Yankee prisoner here,” said Dan, who was expected to
do all the talking. “He is the son of the Secretary of War up in Jones
county.”

“He is, hey?” exclaimed the colonel, beginning to show some interest in
the matter. “Well, we’ll send him right down to Mobile the first thing
we do. Are you from Jones county?”

Dan replied that he was.

“Then you must know all about the men up there,” said the colonel. “How
many have they got, anyway?”

“A thousand fighting men,” replied Dan. “And I tell you, you will want
more men than you have got here to whip them.”

“I don’t know about that. We have got a thousand men here in this
regiment, and they are all disciplined, and when they draw up against
your crowd of bushwhackers you will see some scattering. Now, we want to
get across that bridge; how far is it from here?”

“You will find it right straight up this road about twenty miles. You
want to be careful, because they have got ten men hidden up there, and
they are all good shots.”

“We will take care of them, don’t you fear. Now, after we get across the
bridge we must deploy in line of battle; how far will we have to go
before we can strike their main line?”

“It is ten miles from the bridge to Ellisville, and when you get there
you will find all the men you want.”

“Well, now, see here: suppose you go with me? You know all the crooks
and turns of the road that leads—”

“But, Captain,” began Dan.

“This gentleman is a colonel,” interrupted the man who rode by his
commanding officer’s side.

“A colonel!” exclaimed Dan, somewhat surprised to find that he had found
the man who held the position his father was working for. “Colonel, I am
glad to meet you,” he added, advancing and thrusting out a dirty,
begrimed hand to the man, who merely reached down and touched the tips
of it with his fingers. “My father calculates to hold the position of
colonel when he has delivered up all the head men of the county into
your hands. But, Colonel, I want to see this man located in Mobile. I
had a heap of trouble to gobble him, and I don’t want to lose him.”

But that wasn’t the principal reason why Dan did not want to go back.
Some of the men at the bridge would be certain to recognize him, and if
he escaped the bullets which they would send after him he would not dare
go home.

“We’ll take care of him,” said the colonel. “The son of the Secretary of
War is too valuable to lose.”

“What do you reckon you will do with him, Colonel?”

“Hang him, probably.”

Leon heard the words, and looked around at Dan and Cale. Dan smiled upon
him as if he had just heard a glorious piece of news, but Cale was
grinning with delight. He said to himself: “If Leon is going to be hung
I’ll have his horse.”

“Adjutant, pick out a good, trusty man to march this fellow to Mobile,”
said the colonel. “A faithful fellow, mind you.”

“Captain Cullom, have you such a man in your company?” said the
adjutant, turning to the officer who commanded the advance of the line.

“Yes, sir. Ballard, step out here!”

The man referred to, who was one of the leading fours of his company,
urged his horse to the front and brought his hand to his hat with a
military salute. Then he slung his carbine upon his shoulder and drew
his revolver from his belt. Leon looked at him, and he told himself that
if he had been a rebel he would have trusted that man with his life. He
was young, not more than twenty-four, but he was from Texas, and had
been a cowboy all his life; consequently he was a little better clad
than the majority of his comrades.

“Ballard, you take this man before General Lowery and tell him that I
sent him,” said the colonel. “Tell him that he is the son of a high-up
man of Jones county, and let him do what he pleases with him.”

“Very good, sir,” answered Ballard.

“I wouldn’t untie his hands,” continued the colonel, “but you have got
your revolver in your hands and can easily stop him in case he runs for
the woods.”

“Very good, sir,” replied Ballard. “Forward, march! Go off at one side
of the road so as to be out of the way of the column.”

“Now, two of the men must make room for these boys,” said the colonel.
“Forward!”

Dan and Cale were quickly provided with places to ride behind two of the
cavalrymen, the adjutant shouted “Forward!” with all the strength of his
lungs, and Leon stood at one side of the road and watched the men as
they marched by. He had heard a good deal about Texas, and he finally
came to the conclusion that all the soldiers were from that region. They
were all long-haired, and many of them were unacquainted with combs, but
there were some among them who were dressed like his cowboy, with
handkerchiefs around their necks, broad tarpaulins on their heads and
fine boots on their feet. A good many of them had a word to say to
Ballard and his prisoner, and they were not of the kind that was
calculated to encourage Leon. When Leon wasn’t looking Ballard raised
his pistol and took a deliberate aim at his head—a proceeding that was
welcomed by shouts from all the men who saw it.

“That’s the way; shoot him down!” shouted one of the soldiers. “There
will be one less Yank for us left to fight, anyway.”

“Now, sonny, I guess all the men have passed,” said Ballard. “Take the
middle of the road and travel ahead as if you were going for the doctor.
Mobile is a long ways from here.”

Leon accordingly took to the road and plodded along at his best pace;
but he was wearied, and his hands hurt him so that he was on the point
of urging his captor to untie them for a little while, so that he could
stretch his arms and get the kinks out of them. He walked along until he
had got around the first bend, out of sight of the cavalrymen, and then
Ballard, after looking all around and up and down the road, to make sure
that there was nobody in sight, leaned forward and whispered to him:

“Say, sonny, go into the woods.”

Leon turned around and faced him. He had heard that was one way the
Confederates had of getting rid of their prisoners, namely, to take them
into the woods and “lose” them. They would shoot them down and leave
them there. Leon couldn’t help himself if Ballard had decided to lose
him, for his hands were tied.

“What will I go in there for?” he asked, and one wouldn’t suppose that
his life was in danger, to hear him talk.

“Go into the woods quick!” said Ballard. “I’m Union.”

The revulsion of feeling was so great that Leon staggered and would have
fallen to the ground if Ballard had not ridden up and caught him by the
collar.

“Go in there quick before some one sees you!” said Ballard, looking up
and down the road as he spoke. “I wouldn’t hurt the hair of your head.
I’ve wanted to get with those Jones county people ever since I have been
here, and now I have got a chance at last. Go into the woods quick as
you can walk. I’ll untie your hands in there.”

Leon waited to hear no more, but dived straight into the bushes, and he
never stopped until he had gone half a mile from the road. But fast as
he went, Ballard was close behind him. When he stopped his captor
dismounted and pulled a big bowie-knife from his boot. One blow was
enough, and Leon’s arms were free.

“Ballard, I never shall forget you!” said Leon, and his voice was
somewhat husky as he spoke. “I have been wondering how I should get
away, but I never thought that you would help me. You are a friend
indeed. But first I want to know if you have anything to eat in your
haversack? I haven’t had a bite since yesterday.”

Ballard at once unslung his haversack, and while Leon was regaling
himself on the corn-bread and bacon, which tasted wonderfully good to
him, he told Leon how he happened to go into the service, while he knew
that the South was going to be utterly impoverished. He owned a fine
cattle-ranch in Texas, and when the Southern men around him began to
talk of going into her service he found that he had to go, too, or run
the risk of stretching hemp.

“I didn’t want to go for a long time,” said Ballard, “and when I found
that my neighbors were all giving in their names, and began to look
cross-eyed at me and make remarks that people who were not for us were
against us, I saw it was high time I was doing something; so I got an
Englishman to take care of my place, and here I am. I tell you, there is
a lot of men in the rebel army that think just the same as I do.”

“Let them come over into our county and we’ll treat them right,” said
Leon. “Father says we will have at least ten thousand men by-and-by, and
it is going to take more than double that number of men to whip us. Now,
Ballard, I am much obliged to you for this breakfast, and I am now able
to go on. Are you going to take your horse with you?”

“Oh, I couldn’t think of going anywhere without that horse,” said
Ballard, hastily. “I’ll warrant that if the rebels went by within ten
feet of us he wouldn’t say a word.”

Leon at once stepped out at his old pace, and Ballard kept close behind
him. The woods were so thick that they couldn’t stop to do much talking,
and by the time it began to grow dark they were on the banks of the
creek.

“Now, we are half way home,” said Leon. “I would like to know just how
that cavalry came out in attacking our men. I’ve listened every once in
a while, but I didn’t hear any sound of rifles or carbines.”

“Probably they are too far away for us to hear them,” said Ballard. “If
your men will fight—”

“Oh, they will fight, and there are some of them with us who have
repeatedly declared that they won’t take any prisoners. If they drive
our men back to the swamp they are whipped, sure. By gracious! what’s
that? It sounds like a couple of horses coming through the woods.”

Ballard took his horse by the bridle to hold his head down in case he
wanted to call to them and listened intently. Soon the measured tread of
the horses could be heard coming through the woods, and in a few minutes
a couple of rebels appeared on the opposite bank of the creek and but a
short distance above them. One of the Confederates had no hat on, his
left arm was hanging loose by his side and his companion was holding him
on his horse. They paused for a few moments, as if they didn’t know what
to do with the creek in front of them, and then the uninjured one urged
the horses in, and in a few strokes of the hoofs they were safe across.

“I’ll tell you what’s the matter with our side,” said Ballard, as soon
as the two rebels had disappeared in the bushes. “We have been whipped!”

“Do you mean to say that our fellows have whipped the cavalry?” inquired
Leon, and he was surprised and delighted to hear it.

“That is just what I mean. If the cavalry had been successful they would
have kept to the road and taken some prisoners with them; but their
being scattered in this way makes me think that they have been worsted.
You saw that man who was being held on his horse? Well, he was wounded.”

“We have got to swim the creek before we can get over,” said Leon. “I am
impatient to see how my father came out. Take off your clothes and hold
them above your head. I’ll carry your carbine for you.”

Leon worked in earnest now, for his father had been in danger and he was
not there to share it. In hardly less time than it takes to tell it he
was on the other side of the bayou and pulling on his clothes. Ballard
was not very far behind him, and seeing how impatient Leon was he donned
his uniform with all possible haste, after which they struck out for
Ellisville.



                              CHAPTER XVI.
                        A FIGHT AND ITS RESULTS.


Let us now return to the cavalrymen and see how they came out in their
assault on the Union men who had been left to guard the bridge, and
particularly to tell how Dan and Cale felt when they found themselves
going back among those who would be sure to know them. Cale was
frightened, and consequently he said nothing, but Dan was just scared
enough to have plenty of talk in him.

“Take that man up behind you,” said Captain Cullom, addressing himself
to one of the leading fours of his company.

“Up you come with a jump,” said the man, reaching down to catch Dan by
the hand.

“Oh, now, I tell you I don’t want to get up there,” said Dan. “Those
people at the bridge will surely know me, and I’ll be tumbled off with
the first volley you get.”

“Get on up there,” said Captain Cullom, and he reached over as if he was
going to draw his sword.

“Give us your hand,” said the man, getting impatient. “Now throw your
leg over the back of the horse. You are Southerner enough to do that.”

Dan finally made out to get on the cavalryman’s horse, but it was more
the effects of the sword, which had leaped half-way out of its scabbard
while the captain was talking to him. Cale was already seated behind his
man, and in response to the adjutant’s order, “Forward!” they moved
toward the bridge. Dan was more than half-inclined to cry when he found
that he must go whether he wanted to or not, and the man he was with
began to torment him.

“Oh, they will give it to you if they catch you up there,” said he, in a
tone so low that the captain couldn’t hear it. “Say, Charlie, you
remember what they done to those two fellows they caught down to
Mobile?”

“You’re right, I do,” replied the man thus addressed. “They hung ’em up
to the nearest tree.”

“What did they do that for?” asked Dan.

“Because they wanted to betray their friends into our hands,” said the
man.

“But these ain’t friends of mine,” replied Dan, “I’ve been down on them
ever since I have been here.”

“No matter. You know what we will do to them if we catch them, and the
others will serve you the same way. I would rather be in my boots than
in yours.”

“But you are going to lick them, ain’t you?”

“Lick them? Of course we are. That’s what we are going up here for. Have
you got any friends there?”

“I’ve got a father and a mother.”

“Then they had better get out. We’re going to sweep everything clean.
There won’t be hide nor hair left of a Union man to-night.”

“Now, if you will let me get off and go through the woods,” said Dan, “I
can warn my relatives.”

“Can’t do it,” said the man, shaking his head. “Didn’t you hear what the
captain said? If you were in the service you would know how to obey
orders.”

“Silence in the ranks!” commanded Captain Cullom, and this put a stop to
all conversation between them, although Dan had many things that he
wanted to say.

After this they rode along in a sort of a fox trot, but Dan noticed that
they didn’t take as much pains to go quietly as the squad had done the
night before. By the time they got to the bend Dan was certain that the
pickets had heard them and taken to the bushes, and when they got around
it in plain view of the bridge there was not a sentinel in sight. But
before they had gone many feet along the road a voice called out:

“Halt! Who comes there?”

“Draw sabres and revolvers!” shouted the colonel, and the order was
repeated by the adjutant, who galloped back along the column and yelled
out the command as he went. “Forward! Charge!”

In a second Dan was flying along the road faster than he had ever
travelled on horseback before, and in another second the line was thrown
into confusion by a discharge of rifles and carbines from the woods on
each side of the bridge. The shots were well-aimed, too, for each man
was sure of his mark. The colonel and his horse went down, and so did
the two men who were carrying Dan and Cale double. The leading four were
also badly cut up, and before the major could get up to command in place
of his colonel a second discharge followed, which came within an ace of
putting the column to a rout. Dan and Cale were on their feet as soon as
they struck the ground, the former with his left arm hanging loose and
the latter with a bullet-hole through both cheeks.

“I’ve got it now! I’ve got it now!” moaned Dan, and when he tried to
raise his arm he saw that the lower part of it was useless.

“And I, too!” yelled Cale. “What’s the matter with my face, Dan? I can’t
hardly talk.”

But Dan wasn’t staying around there to tell Cale what was the matter
with his face. In fact he didn’t think anything of his brother at all,
for his thoughts were wrapped up in his own wound. He gazed at the
fallen men who were scattered around him, heard the major issue some
rapid orders, and then he, too, fell off his horse. The pickets were
evidently going for the officers, and they made short work of them. Dan
saw and heard all this and then made a desperate lunge for the bushes,
and Cale was close at his heels when he got there.

“Oh, my face!” groaned Cale. “I wish I knew what was the matter with
it.”

“Do you think there is nobody killed but yourself?” retorted Dan. “Look
at this arm. It don’t hurt me so much, but it feels bruised, and you
have got nothing but a bullet-hole through your cheeks.”

By this time the column was under command of a captain, who had little
difficulty in rallying them, and Dan heard a yell such as he had never
heard before, the yell of charging cavalry, and he saw the body of men
sweep on toward the bridge; but when they got there they saw the Union
pickets far up the road. But they loaded their rifles as fast as they
went, and when they turned around to fire at their pursuers some man was
certain to go down. At last the captain who commanded the cavalry went
over also, and this left Captain Cullom, who was the second in rank, in
charge of the regiment.

“Forward!” he shouted at the top of his voice. “They are going on ahead
to arouse the other men, and we must overtake them before they get
there.”

Again that charging yell arose, and it was answered by yells equally as
savage from the Union men, who turned and fired another volley at them.
The ten miles that lay between them and Ellisville were quickly passed
over, and by the time the pickets had arrived within sight of the camp
there was not a man to be seen. The houses didn’t look as though there
was anybody around them, but when they came nearer they found that every
window was filled with sharpshooters. The church, too, was used as a
barricade, and as it stood broadside to the road we can imagine that it
must have been hot work for that column of cavalry to have stood against
it. As they came opposite the hotel the door opened and Mr. Knight and
Mr. Sprague stepped out.

“What is going on down the road?” asked the former.

“The rebs are coming!” shouted half a dozen voices. “They have got a
whole regiment of cavalry with them. We hain’t lost a man.”

“You have done nobly,” said Mr. Sprague. “Go around behind the
church-house and make your horses fast, and go in there. Be ready to
shoot when you hear us.”

“This looks like a fight,” said one of the pickets, as they made their
way into the church. “Boys, I laid out one traitor the first fire I had.
It was that miserable Dan Newman.”

“And I made all haste to lay out the other one,” chimed in a second.
“His brother, Cale Newman, was there, and Bob, here, shot the man’s
horse, and I took particular aim at his head. I know I hit him, but I
did not fix him. I saw him get up and go into the bushes.”

“Here they come!” said one of the sharp-shooters, who was keeping watch
at one of the windows. “There is lots of them, ain’t they?”

“Yes, but it is going to take more than they have got to get away with
us,” said one of the pickets. “If ten men can throw a column like that
into confusion, they won’t stand long against the fire of five hundred.”

“Now, all you men who can get there at the window fire your one shot,
and then fall back and give somebody else a chance,” said the
quartermaster—the one who had refused to give Cale Newman a mule. “In
that way we can keep up a regular fusillade on them.”

The Confederates came on, yelling as they went, and there was more than
one man who took note of the fact that discipline was a great thing. All
those in front were coming to their death, but not one was seen to
flinch. The men in the church began to wonder if Mr. Sprague had
forgotten how to shoot, his signal was so long delayed, and some of the
most excitable ones yelled “Fire!” as the rebels came on, but the calm
voice of their leader broke in with:

“Steady there, men. Don’t shoot until you have the word;” and scarcely
had he got the words out of his mouth when a rifle-shot came from the
hotel across the way, and an instant afterward nearly a thousand rifles
and carbines cracked in unison. The slaughter was fearful. The captain,
who was leading the charge, fell with a dozen bullets in his person, and
when the smoke cleared away so that they could see the effect of the
shot, they found that the leading company had been dismounted, and their
horses were running about as if they didn’t know which way to go.

“Now, you men at the window who have had a hand in this fall back,” said
the quartermaster; but nobody seemed to hear him. The men struggled to
keep their places, and the men in the body of the church, finding that
no opportunity was to be given them, opened the door and went out. Then
the rebels got another volley, and it was almost as disastrous as the
first. And this wasn’t the worst of it. All the men came out from their
hiding-places, from the hotel and from behind the trees that concealed
them in the grove, and the surviving rebels, seeing nothing before them
but a regiment of Union men who were backed by rifles that never missed,
and more running up to join them, took to their heels and made the best
of their time down the road.

“Get on your horses and follow them!” shouted Mr. Knight from the window
of the hotel. “Don’t let one escape!”

That was the way the rebels got scattered. The Union men pursued them on
fresh horses; and some of them, seeing that their chances for escape
were slim indeed, threw down their arms and surrendered, while the rest
took off through the woods. That was the time that Leon and Ballard
might have added some glory to their escape by capturing the two men who
went across the creek, but the trouble was they didn’t know how the
thing had ended.

“Now, if you think they were whipped we can go up the main road,” said
Leon. “But I really shouldn’t like to get so close to home and then have
them jump onto me.”

“I shouldn’t like it, either,” said Ballard, with a laugh. “I would be
apt to fare worse than you would. But can’t we go on and reconnoitre the
ground? If we find some of your men there we’ll be safe.”

“Let us try it,” said Leon. “Anything is better than walking through
this thick underbrush.”

Leon was not more than half a mile below the bridge, and before he had
gone that distance he heard somebody talking in the road. He raised his
hand to Ballard, and the latter at once took his horse by the head and
forced it down. Leon held on, and after carefully feeling his way came
upon several Union men who were gathered about a rebel who had been shot
from his horse. One of the Union men he recognized as Bud McCoy, but who
the others were he didn’t know.

“Halloo! there. You licked them, didn’t you?”

“Well, I’ll be dog-gone!” exclaimed the man, as he turned about and saw
Leon advancing upon him through the bushes. “Where have you been? Your
pap has been in a heap of worry about you.”

“And well he might be,” said Leon. “I have been a prisoner. Come on,
Ballard; it’s all right.”

The men all straightened up—they were busy getting ready to remove the
wounded rebel—and presently saw Ballard coming through the woods leading
his horse.

“And here’s the man who saved me,” added Leon. “Know him, boys. His name
is Ballard. He was going to take me down to Mobile, but after he got out
of sight of the rebels he asked me into the woods and gave me something
to eat. How many of the Confederates did you kill?”

“But first, I want to know how you came to be taken prisoner?” said Bud.
“Did you run onto the rebels before you knew it? The last time I saw
you, you were up to old Newman’s house.”

“No, I didn’t run onto the rebels before I saw them,” said Leon; and he
knew the confession he was about to make would not meet the entire
approval of Bud McCoy. “One man made a prisoner of me.”

“Who was it?”

“Dan Newman.”

“And you had a revolver in your pocket?”

“Yes, but he got it away from me.”

“Dan Newman! Well, I’ll be dog-gone! Before I would let a man like Dan
Newman capture me—”

“But, Bud, he threw me down when I didn’t know he was near me,”
protested Leon, “and when I turned over to see what had happened to me,
there was my own revolver aimed straight at me.”

“Well, you will never have an opportunity to get even with him now,”
said Bud. “He was shot right through the arm, and his brother got a
bullet-hole through both cheeks.”

“Why, who did that?” exclaimed Leon, who felt very much disappointed to
hear it. He had always contended that no Newman could handle him, and
now he would have to live with that shadow on his mind.

“I don’t know; some of the pickets did it, Tom Howe was almost as worked
up as your father. He’s down there now, helping gather up the wounded
rebels,” said Bud, jerking his head down the road.

“I hope Dan will get well, for I am bound to try my strength with him
some day,” said Leon. “Has anybody here got a horse that I can ride?”

“Take that gray,” said one of the men, “I have got to carry this man to
Ellisville, so I will have to walk.”

Leon thanked him, unhitched the horse, swung himself upon his back and
galloped across the bridge and down the road to the place where his two
friends were at work. Tom and Dawson were surprised to see him, and
while he was telling them the story he looked all around to find Dan and
Cale. He wanted to see how badly hurt Dan was, for he believed, if they
were to measure strength once more, that Dan would go under.

“There’s one thing that happened about this business that you won’t
like,” said Tom; and he spoke as though he was very much disheartened
himself. “Old man Smith was badly wounded during the fight.”

“Why, how did that happen?” asked Leon in surprise.

“Well, you must know that all the shooting that was done wasn’t confined
to our men,” said Tom. “The rebels rallied two or three times, and every
time they poured in a volley.”

“But how did Mr. Smith get hit? Wasn’t he under cover?”

“Yes; he was in the hotel with your father, but he came out. He was just
getting all ready to fire when a bullet took him in the side and over he
went.”

Leon was very sorry to hear this. He remembered that Mr. Smith had told
him particularly that he had something to say to him, and he had not
been near him since. Perhaps if he went directly home he would get there
in time to hear what he had to say. He didn’t think it anything worth
listening to, but he would show his good-will. While he was looking
around at the dead and wounded Confederates lying there—and he was
really surprised when he saw what a havoc ten guns had made in the
assaulting column—he became aware that there was a man leaning on a
rifle and keeping guard over several prisoners. Among them were Dan and
Cale. One’s arm and the other’s face had been bandaged after a fashion,
and they were waiting until the rebels were all gathered up, when they
would go on to Ellisville and be placed under the care of the doctor.
Leon gave his horse the rein and rode up and accosted Dan.

“Well, old fellow, I am sorry to see you in this fix,” said he.

“Yes, no doubt you are glad of it,” whined Dan, moving his wounded arm
to a better place.

“I am, really. I was in hopes that you and I would come together again,
and I wanted you to see that you couldn’t take me down as easy as you
did before. You handled me as easy as though I wasn’t there.”

“I can do it all the time,” replied Dan, snappishly, for just then his
arm pained him and he moved it to another position. “I can get away with
you the best day you ever saw.”

“Oh, it is very easy for you to talk that way now, but if you had two
good arms I would try you right here.”

“Say, Leon, what do you reckon those fellows will do with us after they
get us to Ellisville?” said Cale, speaking with difficulty.

“I am sure I don’t know. If I had my way with you I would send you among
the rebels, with orders not to come back. You talk of the rebels as ‘our
men,’ and you belong with them.”

“I guess you’ll stretch hemp,” said the man who was acting as sentry
over them.

“I hope they won’t go that far, but I don’t know,” said Leon, as he
turned his horse about and started for Ellisville.

It was getting dark by this time, but all the way Leon saw some signs of
the fight. Here was a dead rebel who had been shot during the retreat,
and who had fallen in the middle of the road, and he had been moved out
on one side and his body covered with a blanket. A little further on he
came across a wagon which was loaded with wounded Confederates, and the
Union men all greeted him as though they were glad to see him. There was
one thing about it, if there was any faith to be put in what the men
said to him: His father had been in a constant worry ever since he
failed to show up at Newman’s house, and he became so satisfied that
Newman was to blame for his capture—for Mr. Sprague knew that somebody
had made a prisoner of him—that he sent a squad of men back to the house
and placed them all in custody. Finally Leon came up to the place where
the slaughter had taken effect when the Confederates got ready to make
their charge, and he shuddered when he looked at it. The rebels and
their horses had fallen together in a heap until they were piled on top
of one another. The Union men had not got through removing them yet.

“By gracious, if those rebels could come up here from Mobile and see
what I have seen to-day, I’ll bet they would give up trying to conquer
us,” said Leon, as he once more gave his horse the rein and drew up
before the hotel porch. “I didn’t suppose that a battle ended in that
way. I thought the dead and wounded were scattered all around, and that
you had to hunt a long time before you found them, but—I never want to
see another fight.”

The hotel porch was empty when he got there, but a little way up toward
the grove he saw a company of Confederates, all huddled together, and
Union men were keeping guard over them. They were waiting there until
their paroles could be made out. You see they had no printing-press in
Jones county, and everything like this had to be made out by hand. He
went up into the President’s room, and there he found as many men as
could find seats at the table engaged in writing. Some of the prisoners
were there to assist them.

“The way we do this,” said Mr. Knight, addressing himself to the captain
who had last commanded the regiment (by the way, he was wounded, too,
for a handkerchief that was wet with blood was tied around his
forehead)—“the way we do this is all owing to you rebels alone. You have
not hung any of our men yet; indeed, I don’t know that you have had a
chance, but if you had hung any of them, we should pick out as many men
as had been executed and hang them to the nearest tree. We want you to
understand that these paroles are matters of life and death with you. If
you go into battle against us without being exchanged, and we capture
you, you can expect nothing but death. I think you have found out, by
the way that cavalry charged upon us, that we know how to fight. How
many men had you to go back to Mobile?”

“Well, sir, I should say about two hundred.”

“And how many had you in the first place?”

“We marched up here to assault you with eleven hundred men, sir.”

“And only two hundred escaped! That’s doing pretty good work.”

Leon was astonished when he found out that so small a number of
Confederates had got away, and then, seeing that the conversation
between the President and the rebel captain had ceased, he began looking
around for his father. He found him at last sitting at a table in a
remote corner of the room, and walked up and placed his hand upon his
shoulder. Mr. Sprague looked up, and finding Leon’s face beaming down
upon him, put his pen in his mouth and extended his hand.

“Halloo, Leon; you have got back, haven’t you?” he exclaimed; and for
the first time in his life he saw his father’s eyes filled with tears.

“Yes, sir, I have got back. Where’s Mr. Smith?”

“Mr. Smith has got his death-wound, I am afraid,” said his father,
looking down at the paper on which he was writing with a most gloomy
expression. “He wants to see you bad, and I would advise you to go down
to him at once. You will find him in the parlor, lying on the sofa.”

Leon waited to hear no more, but worked his way through the men toward
the door, stopping to shake hands with this one, or to give a bow and a
smile to another, and presently found himself in the parlor. The doctor
was there and bending over the wounded man, and so was a distant
relative of his, who seemed determined that the doctor should not
exchange any words with Mr. Smith without he could hear them. Leon had
never liked that man, Leonard Smith. It is true that he had never worked
for his father, nor for Mr. Smith, either, for there was something about
him that neither of the gentlemen approved of. He was constantly telling
around that he was going to have a lot of money one of these days, and
nobody knew where he was going to get it. Mr. Smith had a little, just
how much no one knew, and it was very clear to everyone that Leonard
Smith wouldn’t get any of it when he got done with it. Mr. Smith had
often been heard to declare:

“I’ll never help a man who is too lazy to help himself. What does that
Leonard Smith do to earn his living? He works at the logs about half the
time, and the balance he spends in visiting me. I have often told him to
go to work, but he won’t do it. He is a sort of second cousin to me, but
all the same he has no claim on me.”

When Leon came into the parlor Mr. Smith turned his head and saw him.
With more strength than a person of his injuries would be likely to show
he thrust out his hand and welcomed him in his cheery way.

“Why, Leon, where have you been?” exclaimed the wounded man. “Come here
and tell me all about it. Now, doctor, I can get along without any more
help until I get through with Leon. Take everybody out of the room.”

The only person in the room besides the doctor and Leon was this Leonard
Smith, and he didn’t seem inclined to move. He walked back toward the
foot of the sofa and leaned upon it, and there he seemed determined to
stay.

“I want you to go, too,” said Mr. Smith, in angry tones. “Take him out
with you, doctor.”

“I guess I had better stay here,” said Leonard. “You might want me to
hand you your water or something.”

“I reckon this man I have got here is enough to hand me my water or
anything else,” retorted Mr. Smith. “Doctor, I want to see Leon about
something particular, and I would thank you to take that fellow out of
the room. I haven’t got but a short time to live—”

“Come, now, Leonard, go out of the room,” said the doctor.

Leonard waited a moment, just long enough to cast a glance of mingled
hate and rage upon Mr. Smith and Leon, and then went out, banging the
door after him.

“That’s all right,” said Mr. Smith. “Now, lock the door. It will take
not more than a minute, but what little I do say I want to reach your
ears, and your ears alone. Pull up a chair and sit down.”

Leon complied. He fastened the door, and then drew a chair close to the
wounded man’s side and leaned over him.



                             CHAPTER XVII.
                         THE EVENTS OF A WEEK.


“That’s all right,” repeated Mr. Smith, as Leon seated himself close by
his side. “I didn’t want that Leonard Smith to hear a word I had to say
to you, for he is a slippery fellow, and I don’t deny that I have
detected him in efforts to steal money from me. The funds I have got—
Put your hand inside my vest and pull out my pocket-book.”

Leon arose to his feet and was about to comply with the man’s request
when the door of the parlor was tried with a careful hand, but the lock
prevented intrusion.

“That’s Leonard,” said Mr. Smith. “Let him work. He has got rid of the
doctor and was coming in to hear what I had to say to you. That’s it,”
he continued, as Leon drew out a pocket-book which was made so large
that it would contain bills at full length. “Now, put it in your pocket
and button it up and give it to your father the first thing you do. My
will is in there, and my money is all bequeathed to you.”

Leon gasped, but he had never thought of anything like this, and he
didn’t know what to say to it. Finally he stammered:

“Do you think it right, Mr. Smith, to take all this money away from
Leonard and give it to me, who—”

“I have a right to do what I please with my own,” interrupted Mr. Smith.
“I have worked hard for every cent of it, and I have made it all. The
money is all in gold, and the will tells where to find it; but don’t you
let Leonard get hold of the pocket-book, for if you do he will cheat you
out of it. Keep watch of him the first thing you do, and don’t let him
catch you off your guard. Now, Leon, that’s all. Hand me a drink of
water. This fever, or something else in me, is burning me up.”

Leon made all haste to bring the wounded man a tumbler of water from the
table, and when he had drained it he thought it wise to provide for the
use of the money in case Mr. Smith’s injuries should not be as severe as
they thought.

“Of course, if you get well,” he began.

“Why, then, of course, I’ll get the money back. I understand that; but,
Leon, you don’t want to talk about such things. I know when I am done
for as well as anybody. Now you may unlock the door and let Leonard in.
After that, take the money up and give it to your father. It is all
willed to you, mind you, but of course your father will have full charge
of it until you are twenty-one. Now unlock the door.”

Leon lingered a moment. Something told him that he would not see Mr.
Smith alive again, and he wanted to bid him good-bye, but he didn’t know
how to go about it. The wounded man was getting impatient, so he stepped
up and shook him by the hand; after that he unlocked the door, and he
unlocked it so suddenly that it came open with a jerk, and Leonard
Smith, who was leaning over with his ear close to the key-hole in the
hope of hearing something that would be of use to him, came into the
parlor on all-fours. He didn’t apologize for his abrupt entrance, and
neither did Leon for letting him into the room so suddenly, while Mr.
Smith looked the disgust he could not express in words.

“If I were in that man’s place I should feel so ashamed of myself that I
couldn’t look Mr. Smith in the face,” said Leon, as he bounded up the
stairs that led to the President’s room. “But I suppose he has been
caught in so many tricks that he isn’t ashamed of anything. Father,” he
added, in a whisper, “this is what Mr. Smith wanted to see me about.
This pocket-book has got his will in it, and tells us where to find his
money. How much of it there is I don’t know; but he wanted me to give it
into your hands, with instructions to look out for Leonard Smith.”

“Ah!” said Mr. Sprague, taking the pocket-book and slipping it inside
his vest. “So Leonard has got onto it in some way or another, has he?”

“Yes; and it was all Mr. Smith could do to get him out of the parlor
when he wanted to talk to me. He says don’t you let Leonard catch you
off your guard one instant, for if you do he will cheat you out of it.”

“Why, if the money is made over to you I don’t see what Leonard can have
to do with it.”

“But he will find out where the money is hidden, and go there and dig it
up.”

“Well, I reckon Mr. Leonard won’t get it now,” said Mr. Sprague,
buttoning his vest.

“No, I don’t think he will. Now, hadn’t you better go down and see Mr.
Smith? He thinks he isn’t going to last much longer.”

“I will go down and see him now. I hope he will get well, so that he can
have this money back again.”

Mr. Sprague laid down his pen and got upon his feet, and just then there
was a rumble of wagons in front of the house, which told them that some
of the wounded had arrived. Leon went down to assist them and to look
for Ballard, whom he wanted to introduce to the President, while his
father went on to the parlor. Leon found that there were four
wagon-loads of wounded rebels there, and while he was looking around
watching for a chance to lend a hand his father came to the door and
beckoned to him.

“He has gone,” said he, when Leon approached within speaking distance.

“Is he dead?”

“Yes; and all his pockets are turned inside out.”

Leon followed his father into the parlor, and they found no one there
except the doctor and Leonard Smith. The doctor shook his head and
turned and went out, while Leonard stood in his accustomed place at the
foot of the sofa, and did nothing but glare at the father and son. The
pockets had evidently been searched, and Leonard did not have time to
put them back again before the doctor came in. Leon drew a long breath
of relief when he saw how mad Leonard was. He had arrived home just in
the nick of time. If he had delayed his coming half an hour the
pocket-book would now be in the possession of one whom Mr. Smith did not
want to have it. But it was plain Leonard did not intend to give it up
in this way. As Leon took hold of the sheet to spread it reverently over
the dead man’s face, Leonard suddenly aroused himself and seemed
determined to find out where the pocket-book was.

“I would thank you to give up what you got from him when I went out,”
said he, and he was so angry that he could scarcely form the words into
a sentence.

“What did I get?” inquired Leon, while his father straightened up and
looked at him without speaking.

“You got a pocket-book, or something else, in which he kept his will,”
said Leonard. “That pocket-book is mine, and I am bound to have it.”

“It’s safe,” replied Mr. Sprague. “I’ll tell you what I will do in order
to find out whether it is in the possession of the one who ought to have
it. As soon as these troubles are all over I will take out the will and
read it in the presence of the men—”

“But I don’t intend to remain out of my money so long,” interrupted
Leonard. “Some of these rebels might come here and dig down and find it.
If I have it now it will be safe.”

“How do you know it is in the ground?”

“Well, I just suppose it is. I don’t know any other place he could put
it where it would be equally safe.”

“I told you that I would read the will in the presence of the men and
let them decide who owns the money. More than that I cannot promise.”

“Now, I will just tell you what’s the gospel truth,” said Leonard,
leaving his place at the foot of the sofa and striding up and shaking
both his clinched hands in Mr. Sprague’s face.

“Put down your hands or I will have you arrested in a minute!” said Mr.
Sprague, not in the least alarmed by the other’s threatening manner.

“I will shake my fists in your face or in anybody else’s face who
intends to rob me of my birthright!” exclaimed Leonard, at the same time
allowing his hands to fall by his side. “I tell you that I will camp on
that place every night, and woe be to the man or boy who comes there
after that money. He will not get away with it.”

“I hope you have said enough in the presence of this dead man—”

“He was my cousin; that is what he was,” shouted Leonard.

“—of this dead man to make you ashamed of yourself,” said Mr. Sprague.
“Now, we will go out.”

“But I want you to understand what I said about camping on that place,”
said Leonard. “The man or boy who gets that money don’t get away with
it.”

Mr. Sprague and Leon went out without making any reply, the former going
back to the President’s room to resume his work upon the paroles, and
his son to wander aimlessly about, with no disposition to do any work,
although he saw plenty of it before him. After awhile he found Tom Howe,
and both his friends with him. They were tired of removing wounded
rebels and were now going up to Tom’s camp for a good nap. Ballard was
evidently much impressed with the sharp-shooting the Union men had done,
and declared that he had never seen the beat.

“I don’t see how any of our fellows came out alive,” said he, and his
astonishment was so great that he threw his arms about his head. “You
Union men are dead shots!”

“Well, there are plenty of deer and bear loose in the swamps, and
squirrels in abundance,” said Leon, “and you can’t expect that men who
sometimes have to depend on them for a living will miss them every
time.”

“Come on, Leon,” said Dawson. “You’ll have to go up to Tom’s camp, too.
We haven’t heard your story yet.”

Leon began his story as they walked along, and as he did not have very
much to tell, anyway, his companions knew all about it by the time they
got to the place where Tom had left his mule. Tom was disgusted when
Leon told him about his being captured by one man, and more than all by
such a man as Dan Newman, but he was elated just as much when Leon told
how Ballard had taken him into the woods and given him something to eat.

“Howdy, Mr. Ballard,” said Tom, walking up and shaking the Texas rebel
by the hand. “I didn’t get a chance to shake hands with you before, but
now I am glad to see you. That boy is a friend of mine, and if you do
anything for him it is as though you did it for me. Now, we will take
some supper and then go to bed.”

While Tom was kindling the fire Leon related to him the particulars of
Mr. Smith’s death, and to say that Tom felt quite as badly as Leon did
would be telling nothing but the truth. He did not say anything about
the will which he had given into his father’s care, or about the trouble
that Leonard Smith had threatened to make on account of it, for
something told him that he had better keep that to himself. Thus far, he
and Mr. Sprague were the only ones that knew anything about it. Of
course, he would have been perfectly willing to have trusted Tom with
his secret, but there were other men there, Ballard and Dawson, of whom
he knew nothing. How did he know that they would not hunt for the money
and make off with it? It was hidden in the ground somewhere. Leonard
seemed to think that that was the place he would go to find it, and if
he told everybody of it they would dig Mr. Smith’s farm full of holes
but that they would find it.

“I don’t think I had better say anything about that,” said Leon to
himself, after he had thought the matter over. “I will talk about it to
father the first chance I get. These men will all be poor when this war
is settled, and they may fight about the money as readily as they fired
into that regiment of cavalry.”

During the week following there was nothing happened that would be of
interest to you, although it was full of interest to the Union men of
Jones county. In the first place, as soon as they had eaten breakfast,
the prisoners who had been captured the day before were summoned to the
hotel, and there signed their paroles. They did it, too, knowing full
well what was to be expected if they didn’t keep them, for Mr. Knight
was there, and he went over the same speech he had delivered to the
captain in his room. There were a number of wagons, and the wounded were
placed carefully in them, and they were to be taken away and delivered
to their friends. There were also two hundred Union men with them who
were to guard them as far as the bridge, and then they were to bid them
good-bye and come back.

“I hope,” said Mr. Knight, after he had got through with his speech,
“that you all have been treated right since you have been here.”

“Oh, yes, sir,” responded a dozen voices. “You have treated us like we
were your own.”

“Then I hope that if you get any of my boys in the Confederate lines you
will treat them in the same way. That’s all. Go on.”

Mr. Knight did not raise any objections when the men took off their hats
and gave him a cheer. He simply bowed and went up the stairs that led to
his room.

The next thing was taking Mr. Smith and Bach Noble, and several other
men who had been killed and wounded during the fight with the cavalry,
to their homes. It was done with rather more of solemnity than had yet
been displayed, and a long line followed after each man who had given up
his life in defence of the flag. Mr. Sprague and Leon went with the man
who had bequeathed them all he had in this world to give, and saw a
grave dug where he had always said he would wish to be laid, and when
the ceremony was over they came back to the hotel very much depressed in
spirits. And it was a long time before they got over thinking about Mr.
Smith. He was so lively and full of fun that he was sadly missed, but it
was not long before something else demanded their attention. There was
one thing that Leon was glad to see. Leonard Smith was not present at
the funeral. It was not the man he cared for—it was the money he thought
he had laid away, and which he believed he was in duty bound to get,
seeing that Mr. Smith had no one else to bestow it upon. But he saw that
he was not likely to get it by fair means, and so he kept out of the
way.

There was another thing that happened during the week that made the
Union men draw a long breath of relief. The boats which that squad had
been sent up to build were all done, and now it needed nothing but a
strong force of Confederates, much too large to be handled by them, to
send the last man of them over to the island, where they would be
comparatively safe. They were now ready to fight, and they didn’t care
how soon it was forced upon them. During that week, too, a large number
of men, probably two hundred of them in all, came in to give themselves
up. Some of them were on foot, and others had their wagons along loaded
with their families and household furniture. They had heard the
particulars of the capture of that wagon-train, and believing that the
men in Jones county were in earnest, and that they did not intend to be
forced into the rebel army, they watched their opportunity and came in
by night. And this wasn’t the worst of it. There were more came in every
day, until Leon wondered where they should get food for them all.

“I don’t think the rebels knew how many fighting men there were about
here,” said he. “We must have as many as twenty-five hundred men here.”

“Yes, and I guess if you had said double that you wouldn’t have been far
out of the way,” said Ballard, who stuck close to the boys wherever they
went. “It will take ten thousand men to whip us.”

“Do you suppose that Jeff Davis can send that number of men up here? We
are only one little part of the Confederacy, and I should think he would
want to save his men for something else.”

“He may now, but he won’t after a while. When Mobile becomes surrounded
by Union troops, as she certainly will, he will need all the men he can
get.”

And there was one other thing that happened during this week that caused
Leon and Tom to look at each other in perfect astonishment. It proved
that the chief men of the county, although they might act so very
innocent, were not to be taken unawares. They had spies out. Some of
them went to Mobile to see what they could find there that was worth
looking at, especially to keep track of that strong force which they
knew would be sent against them sooner or later, and the others went up
into the interior of the State to keep a lookout for some more
wagon-trains. These men took their lives in their hands, for every one
of them that went into the Confederate lines was dressed in a rebel
uniform. If they were caught and could not make a good excuse in regard
to the regiment and company they belonged to, they would be hanged. Leon
had been so very busy ever since he came into camp that he had not had
time to learn all these things; but there was one other thing that he
did learn which afforded him infinite gratification. It was what
happened to Mr. Newman and family. They had been arrested as soon as Mr.
Sprague found out, or rather mistrusted, that one of their number could
tell more about Leon’s absence than any one else, and Bass Kennedy’s
corn being thrown out of the calaboose, they were chucked in there, and
guards placed over them to be sure that they stayed, too. Of course, Mr.
Sprague was very much astonished when he learned that Dan had made a
prisoner of Leon and had been wounded and captured by the pickets, and
when he was brought to Ellisville he had him put into the jail with his
father and mother. On the morning that the prisoners were sent away they
were given a wagon to themselves and forwarded to the rebels in Mobile,
and Leon never heard of them afterward. We may tell you, however, that
Dan’s arm was amputated when he got among the doctors, and Cale never
recovered his good looks. He looked as if his jaws were sunk in, and all
the negro-twist he could get in them would not make them look any
different.

By this time everything had been got ready for the visit of that force
which was to crush out the rebellion of the Jones-County Confederacy. We
don’t say that Mr. Sprague and the other chief men looked upon it as
boys’ play, because they knew well enough what it meant. The actions of
the regiment of cavalry which came in there, as well as the threats they
had made that they were “going to sweep everything clean,” and that
before night there wouldn’t be a Union man left, showed them that they
couldn’t hope for any mercy. The head men of the Confederacy would be
hanged, and the others would be forced into the rebel army. Mr. Sprague
talked this all over with Leon, but the latter did not exhibit any signs
of wavering.

“Well, I suppose if that is what we have got to contend with we can’t
meet it any too soon,” said Leon, compressing his mouth firmly, as he
always did whenever his courage was tested to the utmost. “I never
thought that this thing was coming through all right. Such an exploit
was never thought of before.”

“I know it; and that is what makes us think we shall come through with
flying colors. There’s one thing about it: We won’t fight against our
old flag.”

In spite of all the constant work there was for him to do at
headquarters, Mr. Sprague found opportunity to go home and assist his
wife in packing up for the island, which was the place the backwoodsmen
had decided upon to make their last stand. It was a piece of ground in
the midst of the swamp, entirely surrounded by water, and now that the
inside of it had been cleared of all underbrush, which had been piled
around the outside of it to answer for a breastwork, the island seemed
to be a larger camp than the force of men at their disposal needed. Leon
went up and saw it. He took his mother over in one of the boats, making
their stock swim behind, and through a long, winding pathway, made of
corduroy logs, and obstructed at every turn by numerous barricades, and
when he came at last into the cleared space he was astonished.

“Why, father, we haven’t got men enough to fill up that space,” said he.
“There’s room enough for ten thousand men.”

“Don’t worry yourself,” said his father, with a smile. “This war is not
half over yet. By the time we have our first fight here we’ll have more
men than we want.”

We must not forget to say that Tom Howe’s mother and Mr. Giddings and
his family went with them. They all settled right down close together,
and seemed as happy and contented there as they would have been under
their own roofs. Mr. Giddings especially was the source of constant
merriment to the boys. It didn’t make any difference to him that he was
so far from his mountain home, but he pitched right in and had a good
time. Of course, he was careful of his rifle. Whenever he could get his
hands upon that he seemed to throw care to the winds. It was on this
very day that Mr. Sprague thought it best to speak to Leon about that
will. The boy didn’t know anything about it, and if anything happened to
him during the fights that followed he wanted Leon to know where to get
the money. Mr. Sprague, in the presence of his wife, had examined the
will a few days before, and the result almost took his breath away.
There were a few gold-pieces in the pocket-book, perhaps a hundred
dollars or two, and a few bills payable; but they were all marked off,
as if to show Mr. Sprague that Mr. Smith did not want to press the men
for the money. Among these bills was the will, and when Mr. Sprague came
to examine it his hand shook and he passed it over to his wife, saying:

“My goodness! Mary, who would have supposed that Mr. Smith was worth so
much money? We dare not say anything about this, for if we do our lives
will not be worth a moment’s purchase. These men around us will fight as
hard to keep the money here as they will to keep the rebels away. Now,
what had we better do?”



                             CHAPTER XVIII.
                      COLEMAN PROVES HIS HONESTY.


Mrs. Sprague fastened her eyes on the document, and as she read the
color all left her face. She looked around. There was plenty of
opportunity for her to be overheard now, for they were living in a brush
lean-to, and there were people constantly passing back and forth almost
within reach of them. There were plenty of folks there that could be
trusted with their secret, but there were lots more from whom it must be
kept at all hazards.

“And do you think that some of these people will fight for this money?”
she said in an earnest whisper.

“There are lots of them that will do it,” returned her husband. “You see
we will be as poor as they make them when this thing is ended, and where
they are going to get money to start on, I don’t know. I tell you, we
mustn’t let anybody know it. Put that away and I will go out and call
Leon.”

The heir of all this wealth was found assisting Mr. Giddings, who was
just putting the finishing touches on his brush shanty preparatory to
getting his family under it. He looked up when he saw his father
approaching, and he had never seen him look so white before; but he was
warned by the signal his father made him, and so he didn’t say a word.
His mother handed him the will when he entered their brush lean-to, and
in less time than it takes to tell it Leon was master of its contents.

“A hundred thousand dollars!” he gasped.

“Sh! Not so loud,” cautioned his mother. “You don’t want everybody to
know it, do you? Sit down here and tell us what you think of it.”

“To think that old Mr. Smith, who went about with his knees and elbows
out, should be worth so much money!” said Leon. “It is no wonder that
that fellow wanted to fight for it.”

“Yes, and you must be careful what you say around where he can hear it,”
said his father, who had taken up a position in the door of the lean-to
so that he could partially screen Leon while reading the will. “If he
finds out where that money is hid, it’s all up with you.”

“But he won’t find it,” said Leon, who quickly copied after his father
and spoke in an almost inaudible whisper. “He has got it hidden in the
pig-pen. I was there while he was laying that floor along in the early
part of the war, and he said then that I might some day dig up something
under it. I couldn’t think then what he meant, although I know it now.”

“Well, you had better let your mother take care of the will,” said Mr.
Sprague, “and then if anything happens to us she will know right where
to go and get the money. I tell you that is a good deal more than we
thought we were going to have.”

Leon was almost overwhelmed by the result of the last few minutes, and
if he could have had his own way he would have been glad to get off
somewhere by himself and think the matter over. But now it was
impossible. Everywhere he went there was somebody around, and it seemed
to Leon, now that he thought about it, that those who knew about Mr.
Smith’s will had a way of looking at him as though they knew the secrets
of what was hidden under the pig-pen. Of course, it was all imagination
on his part, but still he wanted to get away and talk the matter over
with Tom Howe.

“Mustn’t I take anybody into my confidence at all, not even Tom?” said
he.

“Take nobody into your confidence,” said his father, earnestly. “You
don’t know what sort of a fellow Tom is. He may be all right to have
around where there’s a jam of logs in the river, but you don’t want to
say anything to him about this money business.”

“Well, when are you going to get it? We’ll have to go away from here in
order to use it.”

“We’ll go to it after this war is settled, and not before. Of course, we
shall have to go away from here, for we can’t use it around where
Leonard Smith is. And here’s another thing I want to tell you. Remember
and keep close within reach of me, and don’t let Smith or anybody else
get you off on one side. If you do, you will suffer for it.”

Leon smiled and wondered what sort of a story Smith could make up to
draw him off in the woods, and it wasn’t so very long before he found
out. Ever since the night that Mr. Smith died, Leonard had been
half-crazy. He had no idea how much the will in the pocket-book
contained, but he was certain that it was enough to keep him all his
days without work. This was what this lazy vagabond was building his
hopes upon. Anyway, he didn’t want the Spragues to have it, and what was
more he was determined that they shouldn’t. If there was any way by
which could get the will, or any means to learn the hiding-place of the
money, why then it would be clear sailing with him. Leon undoubtedly had
time to read the will and find out where the money was concealed, and if
he could get him off by himself somewhere he would find out where that
money was concealed, or he would leave Leon hanging to a tree in the
woods. It took him two days to come to this decision, and all the while
he roamed about over Mr. Smith’s place, poking into every place that he
could think of where there was the least chance of hiding money. When
the funeral procession came there he slunk into the woods, but when they
went away again he came out and renewed his endeavors to find the
fortune.

“There is money hidden somewhere about here, and I am as certain of it
as that I am alive,” said Leonard Smith, when the men who had composed
the funeral procession had gone away. “If it were not that Leon has the
secret stowed away in his head I would up-end him the moment I saw him;
but if I can get him in the woods and make preparations to hang him,
I’ll find out where the money is. I can’t do anything by myself, and I
must have somebody to help me. Now, who shall I get?”

Fortunately it was an easy thing for Leonard Smith to decide upon this
question. He thought over all the worthless fellows who occurred to his
mind just then, and finally hit upon one who was just about of as much
use in the world as he was. Caleb Coleman was on the island beyond a
doubt—he was always around where he was certain there was no danger—and
if he could only get over there and see him he was sure that he could
induce him to lend a hand in finding the money. But the trouble was he
did not care to go around where Leon was.

“I don’t know whether that boy is certain that I am looking for the
money or not, but he acts as if he did,” said Smith, as he took a look
around to make sure that he had not missed any place where he thought
there was a chance of hiding the money.

He had removed every pile of boards there was about the farm-house and
had dug under them until he saw that the earth had not recently been
disturbed, and then threw the piles of boards back again. He had even
been in the cow-stable and plied his search there; but with all his
looking he could not find any place which bore the appearance of having
been dug over, and he was almost inclined to give up his search in
despair. But he had one more trump card to play, and the more he thought
of it the more confident he became that it would surely work.

“Here’s one thing that I have got to blame old Sprague for,” said Smith,
as he picked up his rifle—nobody ever thought of going abroad without a
rifle in war times—and turned his steps toward the island. “He’s gone
and sent off that Newman family, and if they were here I would know
right where to go to find three good men to assist me; but seeing that
he couldn’t mind his own business, I suppose Coleman is the best one I
can get. I’ll bet I will make his eyes open if I promise him one
thousand dollars in gold.”

Smith had not yet been over to the island, but it was no trouble at all
for him to get there, for the boats were constantly employed in carrying
over the household furniture of the refugees. He did not know that there
were so many men in the county before, and when he came to look closely
at them he found that the most of them were strangers. A great many of
them, too, were dressed in rebel uniform, and they worked like honest
men who were anxious to take their families to a place of safety; but he
did not see Coleman there.

“I’ll bet I’ll find him on the island, laid down alongside the fire,”
said Smith, as his boat touched the shore and he jumped off. “You may be
sure that he wouldn’t do any work while there is anybody to do it for
him.”

Smith was surprised to find that no one on the island had missed him,
for nobody spoke to him. The majority of the men were busy building
their houses and getting their household goods under cover, and well
they might be. After they got through here they were to march in a body
down to the hotel and meet the assault of that force which was coming to
crush out the last vestige of the Jones-County Confederacy. The men all
acted with a feverish eagerness, as if they were impatient to get at it.
Smith thought, too, that if that invading force succeeded in following
the Union men to their island they were bound to be whipped. The passage
through the cane was long and winding, and at every turn there were
barricades erected, behind which three or four hundred men could have
resisted a thousand. These breastworks of logs had been thrown up by the
party who came out to build the boats and without any orders from
headquarters, and Mr. Sprague showed what he thought of them by praising
the men without stint.

“You will make good soldiers some day,” said he. “The rebels can’t get
in here any way they can fix it. They are bound to come in column when
they assault these breastworks, because the cane is so thick that they
can’t come in any other way, and before they can get in here they won’t
have a man left.”

“There’s one of them now,” muttered Smith, as he caught sight of Mr.
Sprague standing in the door of his lean-to. If Smith had only known it,
Leon was in the act of reading the will. “If I can get a-hold of that
boy of yours I’ll soon know as much as he does. He knows where the money
is, and he will tell it all sooner than be hung.”

Mr. Sprague bowed to Smith as he passed by, but the latter didn’t pay
any attention to him. The man wanted to know where he could find
Coleman, but he was much too sharp to speak to Mr. Sprague about it. He
kept on a little further, and found somebody of whom he could make
inquiries. Another thing that attracted Smith’s attention right here was
the air of neatness and order with which all the lean-tos were arranged.
They were laid off in streets, so that one could go the whole length of
them on the darkest of nights without stumbling over a brush shanty
which contained some sleeping occupants.

“You will find Caleb up there on the outskirts of the camp,” said the
man of whom he made inquiries. “He’s got sick of poleing the boats over,
and so has gone up to camp to lie down.”

“Then he isn’t doing any work at all?” asked Smith.

“Work? Naw. He says he hain’t got but a little time to stay with his
folks, and so he intends to see them all he can. When we go down there
to meet the rebels, he is going to stay in camp.”

“Then he is just the man I want,” said Smith to himself, as he pursued
his way toward Coleman’s lean-to. “I aint a-going to meet the rebels
myself, and consequently I don’t blame him.”

Smith followed along up the street until he came to the end of it, and
there he found Coleman. The lean-to that he had over him was not very
secure, but Coleman didn’t seem to mind that. He lay stretched out on
the bedding with his pipe in his mouth, and three or four dogs and as
many children kept him company.

“Why don’t you put a roof on your lean-to?” asked Smith. “When it rains
you’ll wish you had paid more attention to it.”

“Well, when it rains I can’t fix it; and now it don’t need it,” replied
Coleman with a laugh. “It will do.”

“Why don’t you get out and pole the boats over?”

“Oh, there’ll be plenty of men besides me to do that little thing,”
replied Coleman. “Besides, I’ve poled some of them over until I am all
tired out.”

“Well, get up, if you can. I want to see you.”

“Anything particular?”

“You will think so when you hear it,” replied Smith, impatiently. “Kick
some of those dogs out of the way and come along with me.”

Coleman arose with an effort, laid the children carefully aside and
followed after Smith, who led the way around on the outside of the
lean-to, being particular to keep out of sight of Mr. Sprague at the
other end of the street. There he threw himself down upon the leaves and
waited for Coleman to join him.

“Sit up closer—not so far off,” he said, when the man halted at least
five feet away. “I have got something in particular that I want to say
to you, and I don’t want anybody to overhear it.”

“It seems to me that you are mighty friendly, now that the old man is
dead and you have come into his fortune,” said Coleman, moving up
closer. “How much did you make out of that? I think I have heard you say
that you wanted as much as twenty-five or thirty thousand dollars.”

“That’s what I said,” answered Smith, frowning fiercely. “But the
trouble is I have not got it.”

“Who has got it, then?” demanded Coleman, looking surprised.

“That little snipe, Leon Sprague. Smith had no business to give it to
him, but he did, and I am left out in the cold.”

“I say! That’s a pretty how-de-do, ain’t it?”

“I should say so. Now, I will give you a thousand dollars if you will
help me to get it.”

“That’s a power of money, ain’t it? But how can I help you?”

“By going to Leon and telling him that I want to see him in the woods,”
said Smith, sinking his voice almost to a whisper. “If I once get him
out there, away from everybody, I will tell him that if he wants to see
daylight again he can tell me where that money is.”

“Good gracious! What are you going to do with him? Kill him?”

Smith nodded.

“Then you can get somebody else to help you get that money,” said
Coleman, drawing a long breath. “You won’t get any help out of me.”

“But think of the thousand dollars,” said Smith, who began to see that
he had made a mistake.

“I don’t care if it’s twice a thousand dollars. I wouldn’t dare show my
face in Jones county again.”

“You needn’t come back to Jones county,” said Smith, who began to fear
that he had run against a snag when he least expected it. “I am not
coming back. I am going over to the rebels.”

“Well, there! That’s just what I expected you to do. Here you promise to
support this government, and then go back on it the first chance you
get!”

“You say you won’t meet the rebels,” retorted Smith.

“I know it; but I didn’t say I was going over to them. Good land! You
can get somebody else to help you,” said Coleman, rising to his feet.
“That’s a little too dangerous a piece of business for me. If that’s all
you wanted to say I’ll go back.”

“Well, here, hold on a minute,” exclaimed Smith, who saw that it would
not do to permit Coleman to go back among his friends feeling as he did
now. “There is all of twenty-five or thirty thousand dollars in that
will, and Leon knows where it is.”

“Let him keep it. That’s what I say.”

“Now, suppose, instead of hanging him,” continued Smith, paying no heed
to the interruption, “we will just make believe to hang him—pull him up
until he sees stars and then pull him down again. We could do that.”

“No, we couldn’t. Leon’s eyes would be unbandaged, and he could easy see
who pulled him up. I tell you you had better get somebody else.”

“Well, I supposed you were willing to work hard for a thousand dollars,”
said Smith, in disgust. “But you are willing to live along just as you
are now, without any thought for the morrow. Thank goodness, there are
plenty of men in this party who will help me.”

“Then you had better get one of them.”

“You won’t say anything about what I have told you?”

“Never a word; only, don’t mention it to me again. I would rather be
poor all my life than make a living in that dishonest way.”

“Say, Coleman, sit down here a minute. I want to whisper something to
you.”

The man was a long time in sitting down. He seemed to think that Smith
had some other terms to disclose which would lead him into his scheme,
whether he wanted to or not.

“I will give you five thousand dollars,” said Smith, in an earnest
undertone. “Just think of that! Here you will be as poor as Job’s
turkey, and that amount of money will easily set you on your feet.”

“I don’t care if it’s ten thousand. I won’t do it.”

“Well, Coleman, I was only just fooling you,” said Smith, and in order
to give color to his words he leaned back and laughed heartily. “You
will do to tie to.”

“Yes?” said Coleman, and he laughed, too, but it was a different sort of
laugh. “You have an awful funny way of fooling a fellow, I must say. If
you were not in earnest when you sat down here I shall miss my guess.”

Coleman got upon his feet again, and Smith was so angry that he let him
go without compelling him to promise over again that he would not tell
anybody of the scheme that had been proposed to him. He laid down on his
bed and filled his pipe, but he rolled over to see where Smith went.

“That fellow is a-going to get himself in a power of disturbance the
first thing he knows,” said he to his wife, as he saw Smith moving down
toward Mr. Sprague’s end of the street. “He is fixing himself to get
hung.”

“Good land! How is that?” exclaimed the woman.

In spite of the fact that he had promised Smith that he would not say a
word about it, it did not take Coleman long to go over his interview
with him, and when he told of the amount of money that had been offered
him his wife fairly gasped for breath.

“I know that is a big sum,” continued Coleman, “but just think of the
danger there will be. If Leon gets off in the woods and don’t come back
they will hunt high and low for him, and it won’t take them long to
determine who it was that had a hand in his taking off. If they
make-believe they were going to hang him, why, of course, he will know
who it was and he’ll tell of it when he comes back. I think I was pretty
smart in keeping out of it. There goes Smith off toward the boats. Now I
believe I’ll go and see Leon.”

Smith had evidently missed his guess by a long ways when he selected
Coleman to assist him. He had never known anything against this man’s
honesty. He supposed, of course, that a fellow who hated to work as bad
as he did, and who was content to lay around home all the time in
company with the dogs and the children in preference to handling an axe,
ought to be willing to engage in anything that he thought would bring
him money; but as it happened, there were some honest men in that party,
although they did wear ragged jackets. Without further thought Coleman
arose and sauntered off toward Mr. Sprague’s end of the street, and when
he came opposite their lean-to he found the boy he wanted to see,
talking with his mother.

“Well, Caleb, what can I do for you to-day?” asked Mr. Sprague, who
still occupied his old position in the door of the lean-to.

“Not a thing,” replied Coleman. “But I want to see Leon for about five
minutes.”

“Do you want him to go out in the woods with you?” said Mr. Sprague,
with a wink that spoke volumes.

“Eh? No; but I want to tell him to keep away from the woods,” replied
Coleman, who wondered if Mr. Sprague knew all about it.

“Well, you might just as well come in here and tell it,” said Mr.
Sprague, taking Coleman by the arm. “There are no secrets between us.”

Coleman went, and in a few minutes was seated on a trunk revealing the
scheme that had been proposed to him. Leon and his father exchanged
significant glances, and the boy thought how wise Mr. Sprague had been
when he advised him to stick closely by his side and to let nothing draw
him away.

“I did say that I wouldn’t tell this to anybody,” said Coleman, in
conclusion. “And I won’t tell it to any one except you-uns, who are so
deeply interested in it. You won’t tell on me?”

“Did he say how much he was going to get?” asked Leon, after his father
had made the required promise.

Coleman replied that he thought he was going to get twenty-five or
thirty thousand dollars, and this proved that Mr. Smith did not know
anything of the value of the deceased man’s legacy.

“That’s a heap of money,” said Leon. “And now, Coleman, I’ll tell you
what we will do with you. If you will stay around with Smith and learn
all you can in regard to his plans you shall not lose anything by it. I
want to find out if he gets somebody else to assist him.”

Coleman promised, and having had his talk out went away.

“I can easily give him a thousand dollars to pay him for the trouble he
has taken,” said Leon.

“But you must remember that you haven’t got the money yet,” said his
father.

“Oh, I know I shall have some trouble in getting it,” said Leon, while
that firm expression settled about his mouth. “When this trouble is over
that fellow is going to camp on the place, and just as likely as not he
will shoot down everybody who goes anywhere near the money.”

“Leon, I am afraid to have you go there,” said Mrs. Sprague.

“But think of the money! I tell you that will set us up. Then I can get
an education. That’s one thing I will never have if I stay down here.”

The matter was settled for the time being by Mrs. Sprague’s putting the
will into her bosom and pinning it fast; then Leon went out and mingled
with his fellow-refugees. But his feelings were very different from
those which he had experienced when he followed his father into the
lean-to. When he came to think of what the will bequeathed him it fairly
took his breath away. It would get them a little home somewhere, his
mother would be obliged to do no more work, and, better than all, he
would have money enough left to send him to school.

“Well, Leon, you seem to be particularly happy, and so am I,” said Mr.
Giddings, as he took his seat near the door of his lean-to, pulled off
his hat and wiped the big drops of perspiration from his forehead. “Or
rather, I should be happy if my brothers were out of prison. I expect
they have been executed by this time.”

“If I thought that, it would make me shoot to kill,” said Leon.

“Oh, won’t I, when I get the chance!” replied Mr. Giddings, with so much
excitement that Leon was glad he was not a rebel. “I am waiting for the
colonel to say the word and get me down there where I will have full
swing at them, and then every one that I pull on goes up. I tell you,
you don’t know anything about rebellion down here.”

This started Mr. Giddings on his favorite subject of conversation, and
Leon sat there and listened to him until they were called to supper.



                              CHAPTER XIX.
                              CONCLUSION.


But two adventures remain to be told regarding Leon Sprague’s life as a
Jones county Confederate soldier. One was the first real fight in which
he bore a part, though to tell the truth he didn’t remember much about
it, and the other the exploit he went through in getting the money that
had been bequeathed to him.

It took one hundred men to guard the island, and although there was no
necessity for having this number of men out, the colonel thought it best
to be on the safe side. He selected the men, posted them himself, and
sat up nearly all night to make sure that they were doing their duty. At
the first peep of day the men were all aroused, and, having had
breakfast, were getting ready to march down to the hotel. How Leon’s
eyes opened when he saw the men all in line after they had got across
the stream! His father said that there were at least three thousand of
them—enough to whip four times their number of rebels, if they were
brought against them. They were going back to the hotel because it was
the first point that the rebels would strike in Jones county; and, more
than that, they had things very neatly fixed there for the reception of
any body of men who might be brought against them. A long line of
breastworks extended across the edge of the woods, one side being
flanked by a deep swamp and the other by the river, so it was impossible
to get behind them. They calculated to whip the men right there. If they
didn’t, the island would be their next halting place. The women had
congregated on the edge of the island to see them off, and after giving
them a hearty cheer to ease their hearts when they were away, the
cavalcade set out on its journey.

“Now bring on your rebs!” said Dawson.

Nearly two-thirds of the men were on horseback. They had attempted to
form column of fours as nearly as they could, and aided by some old
soldiers, of whom there were a goodly number in the ranks, they managed
to hit the right number at last, and before the brigade had marched a
mile it was going along as orderly as any old body of cavalrymen could
have exhibited. Leon was riding in the first four in company with Mr.
Giddings, Dawson and Tom Howe, and he was as lively and jolly as could
be. He looked all around, but he couldn’t see either Smith or Coleman.
But, in spite of the fact that there were men enough to protect him, he
wished that Smith was out of the way.

“I declare, it is always so,” soliloquized Leon. “When you get
everything going just as you want it to, there is always somebody to
step in and knock the thing into a cocked hat. Smith won’t get the
money, and he might as well give up trying.”

“Bring on your rebs, I say,” repeated Dawson, raising his carbine and
looking all around. “We’re ready for a fight!”

“You may sing a different tune from that,” said Mr. Giddings.

“I know I may, but I hope not,” said Dawson. “I want to keep up long
enough to pay the rebels for burning our house.”

It was three o’clock when they arrived within sight of Ellisville, and
then Mr. Dawson, who had been riding all the way with Mr. Sprague, took
command. Under his supervision the Union men were all posted behind the
breastworks, and each one knew where he belonged. His camp was right
where he halted, and all the men had to do was to throw off their arms,
picket their horses and wait for dinner and supper, which were to be
served together. If there was anything to which Leon objected it was to
being held down with a firm hand. He wanted to go with his father, for
by doing that he knew that he would be in a fair way to learn all the
news that happened within the borders of the Jones-County Confederacy,
as well as some things that occurred outside of it; so he climbed the
breastworks and went down to the porch of the hotel, where he found all
the chief men of the county gathered and holding a consultation with his
father.

“I thought it best to burn the bridge, and move our pickets up nearer
headquarters, for it would put the rebels to some trouble to swim their
horses over the creek,” Mr. Knight was saying to his father when he came
up. “If we only had our breastworks built nearer the creek we could whip
them before they ever got across.”

“I think that is the best way, and I wondered long ago that you didn’t
think of it before,” said Mr. Sprague. “Halloo! there is something
coming, down there. And what’s that waving over them? It is a white
flag, as sure as I live! Knight, you are getting to be a big man when
the enemy comes to consult you in that way.”

“I declare, I believe that’s what it is!” said Mr. Knight, after he and
the other chief men of the party had taken a good view of it. “Now, we
don’t want them to see how many men we have got, and I want you to order
them all into the breastworks out of sight. Tell them that we will
describe the whole thing to them after the rebels go away.”

The chief men went off at once to obey the order, and by time the two
Confederates got up to the hotel porch there wasn’t more than a
half-dozen of them in sight—just enough to act as body-guard for the
President. There were two rebels in the party, and with them were four
pickets whom they had picked up after they had swam their horses across
the creek.

“Here’s a couple of gentlemen who want to see the President,” said one
of the pickets. “They have come to us with General Lowery’s compliments
and want us to surrender.”

“Well, I guess they can take General Lowery’s compliments back to him
and say we didn’t come out here to surrender,” said Mr. Knight.

“I want to see—are you the President?” asked one of the rebels, opening
his eyes in surprise.

“I have that honor,” replied Mr. Knight.

The rebels looked at him in profound astonishment. If any of the other
men standing around had said that he was the President of the
Jones-County Confederacy, they might have believed it; but for this man,
who stood there with his coat off, his hands in his pockets and his hat
perched on the back of his head—for him to say that he was the head and
front of that rebellion, was almost too much. The rebels looked at him,
and then they looked at the men standing around. There didn’t seem to be
but a few of them, and perhaps it was not going to be much to whip them,
after all.

“General Lowery wants you to surrender at once,” said the rebel, who had
grown bolder since he looked around.

“You have my answer, sir,” said Mr. Knight.

“If you surrender, we will let the privates off if they will enlist in
the army,” said the colonel, for Leon made out that that was his rank.
“But the chief men of the party will have to go under arrest and be
tried for treason.”

“That’s very kind of General Lowery, but somehow we are not ready to be
tried yet. We won’t surrender.”

“Why, my goodness, my friend, there won’t be a living man of you left by
this time to-morrow. How many men have you got here, anyway?”

“About five thousand.”

“Why, I don’t see anybody.”

“Of course you don’t; but if you bring your four thousand four hundred
men up here—”

“Have you had spies out?” asked the rebel, more surprised than ever.

“We know how many men you have, and we know that we outnumber them,”
said Mr. Knight.

“Then, of course, you won’t surrender if you have that number of men.
Then we may as well go back.”

“I think it would be as well. We are bound to kill and capture some of
the men you bring against us, and to-morrow we’ll send them inside of
your lines with their paroles.”

“Yes? Well, their paroles won’t amount to a row of pins.”

“I think they will. If we capture any of the men without being exchanged
we’ll hang them to the nearest tree. Good-morning, sir.”

It was right on the rebel’s tongue to tell Mr. Knight to look out or he
would get hung himself, but he didn’t say it. After looking all around
to make sure that there were no Union men in sight he wheeled his horse
and rode off, accompanied by the pickets. No sooner were they out of
sight around the first bend than the men began to pour out of their
breastworks, and in five minutes more the hotel grounds in front of the
porch were just black with an eager, excited crowd, all anxious to hear
what the rebels had to say. Mr. Sprague took the part of spokesman, and
when he told them what the Confederates had said about there not being
one Union man left alive by this time to-morrow, the announcement was
received with whoops and yells.

“Let them bring their men on!” shouted Bud McCoy. “We are all ready for
them.”

“You must remember that the demand for a surrender comes before a
fight,” said Mr. Sprague. “They may be up here in an hour, and I think I
had better send some men down there to reinforce those pickets.”

“I’ll go for one,” and “I’ll go for another,” were the exclamations that
arose from the crowd, and in less time than it takes to tell it five
hundred men were all mounted and armed, and rode up to the porch to
listen to their final instructions from Mr. Knight. Leon wanted to go,
too, but a positive shake of the head from his father told him that that
thing wouldn’t do at all.

“You will get fighting enough if you stay right here,” said Mr. Sprague.
“You do your duty here under my eye and that is all I shall ask of you.”

“Make as good a fight as you can, boys,” said Mr. Knight. “Only, don’t
let them get behind you. Be sure and retreat while you have the chance.”

The reinforcements rode on down the road with Mr. Dawson in command, and
as soon as they were out of sight a silence fell upon the men they had
left behind. All were listening for the first report of a carbine or
rifle that should announce the opening of the battle. One hour passed,
and then two, and just as darkness came down to conceal the movements of
the rebels the long-wished-for report came. It was followed by a
moment’s silence, and then it seemed as if a hurricane was going through
the woods. The Confederates had deployed their line until it reached the
woods, where it was lost to view, and in that manner charged across the
stream and through the timber. But where were the Union men who were to
oppose them? For three miles they went through the woods, and then all
of a sudden the opposition came when they least expected it. It was the
report of a carbine in the hands of young Dawson, and the nearest
colonel threw up his arms and fell from his horse. A moment afterward
the woods were fairly aflame in advance of them. Scarcely a yell was
heard, for the Union men fought as though they had life and liberty at
stake.

“Fire low, boys,” said Mr. Dawson, as he loaded up for another shot. “If
you strike a man in the legs it will take two to carry him off.”

The Union men fired three times before they thought of retreat, and the
middle of the line was not only thrown into confusion, but it was
annihilated, so that their officers could not get anybody to charge upon
their concealed enemy; but the wings were all right—they were stretched
out so far in the woods that they could easily wrap around the Union men
and capture them all—and they hastily got on their horses and beat a
quick retreat. The company that came along the road was badly cut up.
They were marching in column of fours, and it was their intention, after
they got the Union men in full flight, to follow them in, and they would
go with such rapidity that they would take the breastworks at once. But
after the smoke had cleared away there wasn’t more than a dozen men
left. The riders had been shot down, and the horses, having no one to
control them, were running frantically about, trampling the dead and
dying under their feet.

“That’s pretty well done for the first time,” said Mr. Dawson, when he
had made up his mind that all of his battalion were in the road. The
rest were in the woods, and could easily fight their way to Ellisville.
“Now, boys, give them as good as they send.”

The retreat to Ellisville was accomplished in short order, and when the
rebels broke from the woods and uttered their charging yell they
couldn’t see a single man. They were all behind their breastworks.

“I tell you we gave it to them down there in the woods,” said Dawson, as
he rode along behind the breastworks until he found Leon and Tom. “You
ought to have been along. I reckon I have paid the rebels for burning
our house. I lifted one officer out of his saddle as clean as a
whistle.”

“Did you kill him?” asked Leon.

“Well, I reckon so. He threw his arms above his head, and that is a
pretty good sign that he was done for.”

“Did you hear any bullets come near you?” inquired Leon, who shuddered
when he thought how coolly Dawson could talk of shooting another in cold
blood.

“Yes, sir, I heard them; but the rebels fired too high. I saw one man
clap his hand to his mouth and say ‘Oh!’ but I didn’t see who it was.
There they come!” said Dawson, grasping his carbine with a firmer hold
and creeping up to an opening in the breastworks. “Now, Leon, show what
you are made of.”

“It is certain death to send those fellows up here!” said Leon. “I wish
I could warn them away.”

“Haw! haw!” laughed Dawson. “They know what is behind here better than
we can tell them. If they don’t, they will soon find it out.”

Mr. Sprague stood a little ways from Leon with his rifle in his hand. He
had charge of the brigade now, and it was his duty to give the order to
fire. Nearer and nearer came the rebels, yelling like so many mad men,
but the report of Mr. Sprague’s gun couldn’t be heard. As soon as the
men saw him raise his piece to his shoulder they all fired, and the way
the rebels went down before it was certain proof that their bullets had
not all been thrown away. But these men were not to be defeated by one
volley. They kept on until they reached the breastworks, and then they
found that they were too high to be scaled by their horses. The Union
men on the other side reached over and fired their guns in their faces,
until the Confederates could stand it no longer. They turned their
horses and fled, and did not stop until they were safe in the woods,
from which they had just emerged.

“Long live the Jones-County Confederacy!” shouted some one in the ranks;
and the shout was taken up by all the men in the line.

“Let’s go after them!” said another. “We can easy whip them.”

“No, stay where you are,” said Mr. Sprague, who got his instructions
from Mr. Knight. “We can whip them here, but if we should get out of
line of the breastworks they might prove too much for us.”

It was the occasion of no little difficulty for the Confederate officers
to rally their men, and the trouble was that those who belonged to the
right and left wings reported that it was impossible to flank the Union
position. Those on the right said that there was a swamp in which many
men had been killed in their efforts to get around it, and the men who
belonged on the left reported that there was the river there, and that
any attempt to get by it would be useless. General Lowery began to see
that the Union men were not to be easily whipped, but he used all his
eloquence and authority to induce them to make an effort to carry the
centre of the line. He dismounted some of his men with instructions to
go and throw down the breastworks, and the rebel cavalry was to be close
behind them and go in at the openings they had made. This was the plan
that General Lee decided on when he made the attempt to split Grant’s
lines by his assault on Fort Steadman. He had half his army in that
exploit, but his effort ended just as General Lowery’s did to split the
Union lines here. The second attempt was grandly made, and the fight
lasted a little longer than it did at first; but the dismounted men were
quickly picked off, the cavalry began dropping here and there, and
finally, without a word from anybody, they all took to their heels. This
time there was nothing said about pursuit, for the Union men had their
blood up, and nobody could have controlled them. By the time the rebels
were in the woods the Union men had mounted their horses and started
after them. Leon was in this exploit, and his father did not tell him to
stay behind. He didn’t find any Confederates on the way, but he assisted
in making some noise, so he did just as much as anybody.

This was the last attempt that was made to break up the Jones-county
Confederacy. The rebels saw that the Union men were in earnest and they
gave it up as a bad job. A week afterward a big wagon-train was captured
and taken to their place of refuge on the island, and after that the
Union men breathed a good deal easier. They were going to have grub
enough to support them, no matter what happened. About this time, too,
some more men began to come in, and Leon saw the army grow from one
thousand men to more than twenty thousand. Of course with such an army
as that the Confederates wouldn’t try to whip them. They minded their
own business, going out whenever they thought that their provisions were
getting low, and picking up wagon-trains and taking them where they
would do the most good. Of course, too, these parties when they went out
always captured some papers, which were read until they almost crumbled
to pieces. When the rebels were defeated at Vicksburg and Gettysburg the
Union men drew a long breath of relief, for they thought that the war
was almost ended and that they could go home; but there were some severe
battles to be fought before their flag could wave over the entire
country. One day, long months after this, when Leon had got so tired of
being a soldier that he wished that the Confederacy would sink or do
something else that would wipe it out of existence, he was out with a
party of skirmishers, when they ran plump onto a rebel soldier who had a
gun on his shoulder, and acted as though he was going somewhere. In an
instant Bud McCoy’s pistol was aimed at his breast.

“Put up your revolver, young man!” said the rebel, who did not seem at
all abashed by finding himself in the company of Union men. “You belong
down in Jones county, don’t you? Well, I want to say that you are behind
the times. General Lee has surrendered!”

Bud and the rest were so astonished that they could not say a word.

“It’s a fact,” continued the rebel. “I wasn’t there, because I was in
our Western army, but I heard of it, and more than five thousand of us
escaped that night. The Confederacy has gone up!”

“I tell you I am glad of it,” replied Leon. “Why didn’t you surrender
when you got whipped at Gettysburg?”

“A good many men said it ought to have been done,” answered the rebel,
“but I wasn’t at the head of affairs. You had better let me go, for I
want to reach home and see my wife. I haven’t seen her since I went into
the service.”

The foragers were only too glad to let him go. They would have passed
anybody who brought such news as that; and, furthermore, they wheeled
their horses and went back to Ellisville with much more speed than they
had shown in coming out. There was joy on the island when they told what
the rebel had said to them, and some of the men fired off their guns in
ecstacy; but Mr. Knight said that the rebels had so long been accustomed
to lying that they didn’t know when they spoke the truth, and suggested
that it would be better for them if they sent a couple of men down to
Mobile to see what was going on there. Any number of men offered
themselves, but two were promptly sent, and while they were gone the
refugees hardly knew what to do with themselves. In due time the men
came back, and, better than all, they swung a paper over their heads.

“It’s a Yankee paper, and now we’ll get at the truth of the matter,”
said one of the messengers. “Yes, sir, Lee has surrendered; that whole
army has surrendered, and the fortifications down at Mobile are just
black with Yankees!”

Cheers long and loud rent the air at this announcement, so that it was a
long time before Mr. Sprague could read what the paper said in regard to
Lee’s surrender. When he read it, the cheers once more broke out afresh.

“They said that we couldn’t take this county out of the Confederacy,”
said Mr. Knight. “I reckon we’ve done something that nobody else could
do.”

A day or two after this, companies of Union cavalry began scouting about
Mobile to see if they could find any rebels, and some of them presented
themselves before Mr. Knight. The officer listened in amazement while he
was told the story, and when Mr. Knight had got through he laughed until
he could hardly sit on his horse. The Union men all laughed, too; and,
taken all together, it was a jolly party—very different from what they
felt while they were resisting the cavalry that tried so hard to
overpower them. The officer told them that they could go home, that the
war was ended, and that they would never be called upon to fight for the
flag again.

After that there was a good deal of excitement in and around Ellisville,
for the refugees were making efforts to go home. The bridge over the
bayou that had been burned to keep the rebels from getting across so
easily was rebuilt, and after that Leon and his father had their hands
full in saying good-bye to the Union men, who wished them every success
in life. Then they went home and went to work, getting their ground
ready to plant a supply of cotton, glad indeed to handle a plow once
more instead of a rifle. Their object was to throw Smith off the scent.
They had seen him a few times during the last few months, but he had
nothing to say to them; but the sequel proved that he knew what he was
talking about when he threatened to camp on his cousin’s place and shoot
the man or boy who came there for the money. He lived in Mr. Smith’s
house, for the rebels had not had time to set the buildings on fire; but
it was close to the pig-pen, so it would be next to impossible for them
to go there and dig for what was hidden in it, and every day he rode
over the plantation, to make sure that the Spragues had not dug in some
other place. Mr. Sprague kept close watch of his movements, and one day
announced to Leon his plan of action.

“We will go there and hunt for that money to-night,” said he. “But, mind
you, we won’t dig where it is. We will go down into the lower part of
the plantation and dig there, and when we come away we’ll leave a shovel
there. How will that do? He will be sure to see the shovel, and at night
he will watch that place and leave the pig-pen free for us.”

Leon didn’t see that anything else could be done, so he readily fell in
with his father’s proposal. When night came they set out, and selecting
a place where some brush had been thrown to get it out of the way, they
threw it aside, and in a few minutes had a hole dug there that was six
feet deep. Then they placed a shovel in a conspicuous position and went
home, wondering what was to be the result of Mr. Sprague’s new scheme.
They were not long in finding out. The next day about ten o’clock
Leonard Smith rode by on his horse, and, seeing the father and son
employed in plowing the field, stopped and had a word to say to them.

“You didn’t get the money last night, did you?” he asked, while his face
was white with fury. “I know where it is now, and I will give you fair
warning that if either of you go there again I will shoot you.”

Mr. Sprague made no reply, and Smith rode off. When night came they set
out again—only, this time they went on horseback, and told Mrs. Sprague
that if she heard them going by some time during the night—she must pack
up the next day and go to Mobile. Mr. Sprague and Leon were armed, of
course. They went up the road until they came to Mr. Smith’s gate, and
there Mr. Sprague left Leon while he went ahead to reconnoitre. He was
gone half an hour, and when he came back his words were full of news.

“There’s nobody about the house,” said he, and one wouldn’t think that
he had a hundred thousand dollars at stake. “Now, we must go quickly.
Stay by the horses’ heads, so that they won’t call out. I will do the
digging.”

With a heart that beat like a trip-hammer Leon dismounted, passed the
shovel over to his father, and followed along after him when he led the
way toward the pig-pen. The house was all dark, and it didn’t look as
though anybody lived there, but Leon couldn’t help drawing a long breath
when he thought of the unerring rifle that was hidden somewhere about.
His father got into the pen and pried up the boards, and he did it
without causing anything to creak. Then by putting down his shovel in
various positions he found where the earth had been disturbed, and then
he went to work. Never had he worked so hard before, but it seemed an
age to Leon, as he stood there holding fast to the horses. At length, to
his great relief, his father seized something and held it over the side
of the pen.

“Leon,” he exclaimed, “here’s one of them!”

How heavy it was! But just as Leon was going to take it he heard the
sound of horses’ hoofs up Mr. Smith’s lane. His horses heard it, too,
and raised their heads to see what was coming.

“Father, father, they are coming back!” he faltered. “Can’t you find the
other one?”

“Yes, here it is. Now, you get on your horse and ride for dear life and
I will stay behind. I will keep them from overtaking you.”

Leon was on his horse in a moment, the other valise was passed up to
him, and in another second he was flying down the road. Mr. Sprague was
close behind him, but before they had gone far they heard some muttered
ejaculations from the horsemen, followed by the command:

“I declare, there is that Sprague. Halt! I say halt!”

But Leon and his father were not given to halting. Their horses went
faster than ever, and by the time Smith—for he was one of the party—had
lingered to look at the pig-pen, they were far out of sight. Then
followed a volley from their carbines—not one or two of them—but from a
dozen which proved that Smith had found more than one man to assist him.
But all the balls went high or wild, and Mr. Sprague and Leon got safely
off. They crossed the bridge, travelled rapidly along the road that led
to Mobile, and by ten o’clock the next day had the money safely in the
bank. On the next day but one Mrs. Sprague came along. She told a pretty
thrilling story about what had happened to her since Mr. Sprague left.
Smith was so mad to think they had got away with the money that he
burned her house over her head, and did not even leave her a negro cabin
to go in to.

[Illustration: THE HIDDEN FORTUNE SAFE AT LAST.]

Here we will leave Leon Sprague, only stating that he came on to
Clayton, where Mr. Sprague had some friends, who gave him a cordial
welcome. They purchased a neat little house which had been deserted by
its owner during the war, and as they now lived there six years it began
to look very home-like. He made the acquaintance of Bob Nellis almost as
soon as he got into town, through him learned of the academy at which
the latter was preparing for college, and went with him and entered his
name on the books when he went there next term. Of course he was in the
lowest class, but he studied his books night and day, and the result was
very soon apparent. In two years he was up with boys of his own age.

We said that Joe Lufkin had not forgotten the raid he was going to make
on that watering place the time he talked of stealing all the jewels. He
made it, and perhaps we shall see what came of it. His son Hank got a
boat about this time; and what he did with it, and how it took Joe
Lufkin almost two hundred miles to sea, shall be told in “The Cruise of
the Ten-Ton Cutter.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           Transcriber’s Note

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original.
The following issues should be noted, along with the resolutions.

  7.14     tall [be-]beyond his years                     Removed.

  68.20    “Good,[”] said the man.                        Added.

  90.8     he could scar[c]ely                            Added.

  105.17   “Come out here,” said Leon. [“]I shall have

  147.8    [mye fin/my fine] lad,                         Misplaced.

  149.13   with a pai[s/r] of jean breeches on            Replaced.

  182.10   [“]Supper was ready at last, Dawson aroused    Removed.

  206.9    ain[t]’t' a-going to stand still               Removed.

  209.6    the commission to come to him[.]               Added.

  214.25   and the other men don’t like it. [“]I’ll bet   Removed.

  216.24   “You had better be get[t]ing                   Added.

  275.15   “And did you let those men go back?[”]         Added.

  299.25   so overjoyed that he could scar[c]ely speak.   Added.

  312.2    Leon, who didn’t seem[ed] disposed to discuss  Removed.

  313.12   [“]Oh, how I wish Tom Howe knew                Added.

  340.1    “You[ /’]re' right, I do,” replied the man     Replaced.

  350.3    The men all straighten[e]d up                  Added.

  352.14   He want[ed] to see how badly hurt Dan was      Added.

  370.4    he could put it where it would[ be] equally    Added.
           safe.

  402.3    to hang him, why, of course[./,] he will know  Replaced.

  409.11   but [b/h]e couldn’t see either                 Replaced.

  412.15   we didn’t come out here to surrender[,]” said  Added.
           Mr. Knight.

  416.19   while you have the chance[.]”                  Added.

  431.15   “Leon,[”] he exclaimed, “here’s one of them!”  Added.

  431.23   “Yes, here it is. [“]Now, you get on your      Removed.

  432.8    “I declare, there is that Sprague[,/.] Halt!   Replaced.





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