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Full text of "The red acorn : a novel"

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Tlin ACORN SERIES. 



The Red Acorn; 



A NOVEL 



By JOHN Mcelroy, 

AUTHOR OF "UfDIBeONTlLLK," yxa 



CHICAGO : 
HENRY A. SUMNER & COMPANY 

1883. 



COPTRIOHT. 

1883. 

HEXRY A. SUMNKR & CO. 



PREFACE. 

THE name given this story is that made glorious by 
the valor and achievements of the splendid First 
Division of the Fourteenth Army Corps, the cognizance 
of which was a crimson acorn, worn on the breasts of 
its gallant soldiers, and borne upon their battle flags. 
There are few gatherings of men into which one can go 
to-day without finding some one wearing, as his most 
cherished ornament, a red acorn, frequently wrought in 
gold and studded with precious stones, and which tells 
that its wearer is a veteran of Mill Springs, Perryville, 
Shiloh, Corinth, Stone River, Chicamauga, Mission 
Ridge, Atlanta, Jonesville, March to the Sea, and Ben- 
tonville. 

The Fourteenth Corps was the heart of the grand 
old Army of the Cumberland — an army that never 
knew defeat. Its nucleus was a few scattered regi- 
ments in Eastern Kentucky, in 1861, which had the 
good fortune to be commanded by Gen. George H. 
Thomas. With them he won the first real victory that 
blessed our arms. It grew as he grew, and under his 
superb leadership it was shaped and welded and tem- 
pered into one of the mightiest military weapons the 
world ever saw. With it Thomas wrung victory from 

603(125 



Q PREFACE. 

defeat on the bloody fields of Stone River and Chica- 
mauga ; with it he dealt the final crushing blow of the 
Atlanta campaign, and with it defeat was again turned 
to victory at Bentonville. 

The characters introduced into the story all belonged 
to or co-operated with the First Division of the Four- 
teenth Corps. The Corps' badge was lUr Acorn. As 
was the custom in the army, the divisions in each Coqis 
were distinguished by the color of the badges — the 
First's being red, the Second's white, and the Third's 
blue. There was a time when this explanation was 
hardly necessary, but now eighteen years have elapsed 
since the Acorn flags fluttered victoriously over the last 
field of battle, and a generation has grown up to which 
they are but a tradition •' • ^' 



CONTENTS. 



CnAPTEn I.— A Diclftrntion, . . . . 

Chapter II.— First SboU, .... 

CnAmcR III.— A Kace, . . . . . 

Co AFTER IV. — Di.Hjfrace, .... 

Cii.vPTER v.— The Llnt-8craping and iiumlHi,'i- iimkinp 
Union. . . . . . 

Chapter VI —The Awakening, 

CuAiTER VII. — Pomp and C'ircuin.Htancc of Glorioiw War, 

Chapter VIII.— The Tetlium of Camp, 

COAiTER IX.— On Ihe March, . . . . 

Chapter X.— The Mountaineer *b Hevengc, 

''mapt>:r XI— Through the Mountain and the Night, 

MAPTER XII.— Aunt Debl)y Brill. 

Chapter XIII —An Apple Jack Itaid. 

Chaiter XIV.— In Uio iloHpital, 

Chapter XV. — Making Arquaintancc with Duty, 

Chapter XVI.— The Ambuscade, 

Chapter XVII — Alspaugh on a IJcd of Pain,- 

Chapter XVIII.— Secret Service, 

Chapter XIX— The Battle of Stone Wve& 



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Digitized by the Internet Arciiive 

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University of Nortii Carolina at Chapel Hi 



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THE RED ACORN. 



CHAPTER I. 



A DECLARATION. 

' O, what U •© rare a* a day In June? 
Then, If ever, come perfect dayt; 
Then Heaven tries the Earth If It be In une, 
And over It softly her warm ear lays." 

— LOWULL. 



/~\F all human teachers they were the grandest who 
Vy gave us the New Testament, and made it a tex^ 
book for Man in every age. Transcendent benefac- 
tors of the race, they opened in it a never-failing 
well-spring of the sweet waters of Consolation and 
Hope, which have flowed over, fertilized, and made 
blossom as a rose the twenty-century wide desert of 
the ills of human existence. 

But they were not poets, as most of the authors 
of the Old Testament were. 

They were too much in earnest in their great work 
of carrying the glad evangel of Redemption to all the 
earth — they so burned with eagerness to pour their 
joyful tidings into every ear, that they recked little 
of the form in which the saving intelligence was con- 
veyed. 

Had they been poets would they have conceived 
Heaven as a place with foundations of jasper, sap- 



10 THE RED ACORN. 

phires and emeralds, gales of pearl, and streets of 
burnished gold that shone like glass ? Never. 

That showed them to he practical men, of a Semi- 
tic cast of mind, who addressed hearers that agreed 
with them in regarding gold and precious stones as 
the finest things of which the heart could dream. 

Had they been such lovers of God's handiwork in 
Nature as the Greek religious teachers — who were 
also poets — they would have painted us a Heaven 
vaulted by the soft blue sky of early Summer, per 
fumed by the breath of opening flowers, and made 
musical by the sweet songs of birds in the tirst 
rapture of finding their young mates. 

In other words they would have given us a picture 
of earth on a perfect June day. 

On the afternoon of such a day as tliis Kachel 
Bond sat i^enoath an apple-tree at the crest of a mod- 
erate hill, and looked dreamily away to where, beyond 
the villajre of Sardis at the foot of the hill, the Miami 
River marked the beautiful valley like a silver ribbon 
carelessly flung upon a web of green velvet. Rather 
she seemed to be looking there, for the light that 
usually shone outward in those luminous eyes was 
turned inward. The little volume of poems had 
dropped unheeded from the white hand. It had done 
its office : the passion of its lines had keyed her 
thoughts to a harmony that suffused her whole being, 
until all seemed as naturally a part of the glorious 
day as the fleecy clouds in the sapphire sky, the cheer- 
ful hum of the bees, and the apple-blossoms' luxuri- 
ous scent. 

Her love — and, quite as much, her girlish ambi- 



A DECLARATION. 11 

tion — had been crowned with violets and bays some 
weeks before, when the fever-heat of patriotism 
seemed to bring another passion in Harry Glen's 
bosom to the eruptive point, and there came the long- 
waited-for avowal of his love, which was made on the 
evening before his company departed to respond to 
the call for troops which followed the fall of Fort 
Sumter. 

Does it seem harsh to say that she had sought to 
bring about this detioiU')iient f Kather, it seems that 
iu'r etforts were commendable. She was a young 
woman of marriageable age. She believed that her 
mission in life was marriage to some man who would 
make her a good husband, and whom she would in 
turn love, honor, and strive to make happy. Harry 
(lien's family was the ecpial of her's in social station, 
and a little above it in wealth. To this he added ed- 
ucational and personal advantages that made him the 
most desirable match in Sardis. Starting with the 
premises given above, her first conclusion was the 
natural one that she should marry the best man avail- 
able, and the ne.\f that that man was Harry Glen. 

Her ctibrts had been bounded by the strictest code 
of maidenly ethics, and so artistically developed that 
the only persons who penetrated their skillful vailing, 
and detected her a.s a ''designing creature," were two 
or three maiden friends, whose maneuvers toward the 
same objective were brought to naught by her suc- 
cess. 

It must be admitted that refining casuists may find 
room for censure in this making Ambition the advance 
guard to spy out the ground that Love is to occupy. 



12 THE RED ACORN. 

But, after all, is there not a great deal of mistake 
about the way that true love begins ? If we had the 
data before us we should be pained by the enlighten- 
ment that, in the vast majority of cases the regard of 
young people for each other is tixed in the first in. 
stance l)v motives that will bear quite as little scrutiny 
as Miss Rachel Bond's. 

"We can afford to be careless how the germ of love 
is planted. The main thing is how it is watered and 
tended, and brought to a lasting and beautiful 
growth. Kachel's ambition gratified, there had been 
a steady rise toward tlood in the tide of her affections. 
She was not long in growing to love Harry with all 
the intensity of a really ardent nature. 

After the meeting at which Harry had signed tlie 
recruiting roll, he had taken lier home up the long, 
sloping hill, through moonlight as st)ft, as inspiring, 
as glorifying as that whidi had melted even the frosty 
Goddess of Maidenhood, so that she stooped from her 
heavenly unapproachableness, and kissed the hand 
some Endymion as he slept. 

Though little and that connnonplace was said a.s 
they walked, sublh^ womanly instinct prepared Ra- 
ehers mind for what was coming, and her grasp upon 
Harry's arm assumed a new feeling that hurried him 
on to the crisis. 

They stopped beneath the old apple-tree, at the 
crest of the hill, and in front of the house. Its 
gnarled and twisted limbs had been but freshly 
clothed in a suit of fragi-ant gi-een leaves. 

The ruddy bonfires, lighted for the war-meeting, 
still burned in the village below. The hum of sup- 



A DECIARATION. 13 

j)lementary speeches to the excited crowds that still 
lingered about came to their ears, mingled with cheers 
from throats rapidly growing hoarse, and the throb 
and wail of fife and drum. Then, uplifted on the 
voices of hundreds who sang it as only men, and men 
swayed b^- powerful emotions can, rose the ever- 
glorious "Star-Spangled Banner," loftiest and most 
inspiring of national hymns. Through its long, force- 
ful measures, which have the sweep and ring of 
marching battalions, swung the singei*s, with a pas' 
.«>ionate earnt'stness that made every note and word 
glow with meaning. The swelling ptean told of the 
heroism and sacrifice with which the fiMindations of 
the Nation were laid, of the glory to which the land 
had risen, and then its mood changing to one of dirc- 
ness and wrath, it foretold the just punishment of 
those who broke the peace of a happy land. 

The mood of the Sardis people was that patriotic 
exaltation which reigned in every city and village of 
the Noi1h on that memorable night of April, ISeU 

But Rachel and Harry had left far behind them 
this passion of the multitude, which had set their own 
to throbbing, even as the roar of a cannon will waken 
the vibrations of haip-strings. Around where they 
stood was the peace of the night and sleep. The per- 
hmie of violets and hyacinths, and of myriads of 
opening buds seemed shed by the moon with her 
silvery rays through the soft, dewy air; a few noc- 
turnal insects droned hither and thither, and " drowsy 
tinklings 'ulled the distant folds." 

As their steps were arrested Rachel released her 
grasp from Harry's arm, but he caught her hand 



14 THE RED ACORN. 

before it fell to her side, and held it fast. She turned 
her face frankly toward him, and he looked down 
with anxious eyes upon the broad white forehead, 
framed in silken black hair, upon great eyes, flaming 
with a meaning that he feared to interpret, upon the 
eloquent lines about the mobile, sensitive mouth, all 
now lifted into almost supernatural beauty by the 
moonlight's spiritualizing magic. 

What he said he could never afterward recall. 
His first memory was that of a pause in his speech, 
when he saw the ripe, red lips turned toward him 
with a gesture of the proud head that was both an 
assent and invitation. The kiss that he pressed there 
thrilled him with the intoxication of unexpectedly re- 
warded love, and Riichel with the gladness of tri- 
umph. 

What they afterward said was as incoherent as 
the conversations of those rapturous moments ever 
are. 

"You know we leave in the morning?" he said, 
when at last it became necessary for him to go. 

" Yes," she answered calmly. "And perhaps it is 
better that it should be so — that we be apart for a 
little while to consider this new-found happiness and 
understand it. I shall be sustained with the thought 
that in giving you to the country I have given more 
than any one else. I know that you wnll do some- 
thing that will make me still prouder of you, and my 
presentiments, which never fail me, assure me that 
you will return to me safely." 

His face showed a little disappointment with the 



A DECLARATION. 15 

She reached above her head, and breaking off a 
bud handed it to him, saying in the words of Juliet : 

"Sweet, good-night: 
This bud of love, by Summer's ripening breath, 
May prove a beauteous flower, when next we meet." 

He kissed the bud, and put it in his bosom ; kissed 
her again passionately, and descended the hill to pre- 
pare for his departure in the morning. 

She was with the rest of the village at the depot 
to bid the company good-bye, and was amazed to find 
how far the process of developing the bud into the 
flower had gone on in her heart since parting with 
her lover. Her previous partiality and admiration 
for him appeared now very tame and colorless, beside 
the emotions that stirred her at the sight of him 
marching with erect grace at the head of his company. 
But while all about her were tears and sobs, and 
modest girls revealing unsuspected attachments in the 
agitation of parting, her eyes were undimmed. She 
was proud and serene, a heightening of the color in 
her cheeks being the only 5;ign of unusual feeling. 
Harry came to her for a moment, held her hand 
tightly in his, took the bud from his bosom, touched 
it significantly with his lips, and sprang upon the 
train which was beginning to move away. 

The days that followed were halcyon for her. 
While the other women of Sardis, whose loved ones 
were gone, were bewailing the dangers they would 
encounter, her proud spirit only contemplated the 
chances that Harry would have for winning fame. 



16 THE RED ACORN. 

Battles meant bright laurels for him, in which she 
would have a rightful share. 

Her mental food became the poetry of love, chiv- 
alry and glorious war. The lyric had a vivid per- 
sonal interest. Tales of romantic daring and achieve- 
ment were suggestions of possibilities in Harry's 
career. Her waking hours were mainly spent, book 
in hand, under the old apple-tree that daily grew 
dearer to her. 

The exalted mood in which we found her was 
broken in upon by the sound of some one shutting 
the gate below very emphatically. Looking down 
she saw her father approaching with such visible 
signs in face and demeanor of strong excitement, 
that she arose and went to him. 

" Why, father, what can be the matter ? " she said, 
stopping in front of him, with the open book pressed 
to her breast. 

"Matter enough, I'm afraid, Rachel. There's 
been a battle near a place called Rich Mountain, in 
Western Virginia, and Harry Glen's " 

"O, father,"" she said, growing very white, "Har- 
ry's killed." 

" No ; not killed." The old man's lip curled with 
scorn. " It's worse. He seems to've suddenly dis- 
covered he wan't prepared to die ; he didn't want to 
rush all at once into the presence of his Maker. 
Mebbe he didn't think it'd be good manners. You 
know he was alwa3'8 stronger on etikwet than any- 
thing else. In short, he's showed the white feather. 
A dozen or more letters have come from the boys 
telling all about it, and the town's talking of nothing 



A DECLARATION. 17 

else. There's one of the letters. It's from Jake 
Alspaugh, who quit working for me to enlist. Read 
it for yourself. " 

The old gentleman threw the letter upon the grass, 
and strode on angrily into the house. Rachel 
smoothed out the crumpled sheet, and read with a 
growing sickness at the heart: 

Mr. Bond— Deer Sur: 

i taik my pen in Imnd to Ictt you no that with the exception 
of a occashunal tuch of roomaticks. an boonions all over my fete 
from hard marchin, ime all rite, an i hope you ar injoiu the saim 
blessm. Weve jest h.id an awful big fite. and the way we warmed 
it to the secshers jest beat the jews, i doant expect they ve stopt 
runnin yit. All the Sardis boys done bully except Lieutenant 
Harry Glen. The smell of burnt powder seamed to onsettle his 
narves. He tuk powerful sick all at wunst. jest as the trail was 
gitlin rather fresh, and he lay giouuin wen the rest of the com- 
pany marched oflf into the fite. He doant And the klime-it here 
as healthy as it is in Sardis. i 'stinguished myself and have bin 
promoted, and ive got a Rebel gun for you with a bore big enuff 
to put a walnut in, and it'll jest nock your wiiole darned shoulder 
off every time you shoot it. No more yours til deth send me 
some flnecut tobacker for heavens sake. 

Jacob Alspaugh. 

Rachel tore the letter into a thousand fragments, 
and flung the volume of poems into the ditch below. 
She hastened to her room, and no one saw her again 
until the next morning, when she came down dressed 
in somber black, her face pale, and her colorless lips 
tightly compressed. 



18 THE RED ACORN. 



CHAPTER II 



FIRST SHOTS. 



" Cowardt fe»r lo dtc; bat roart4r« Moat, 
R Ihtr (hftn lire In tnuff. will be put out." 
— SiB Waltkb IlALiioa. ox "Tub Sxrrr or a Cajtdlb." 

ALL niilitni y courage of any value is the offspring 
of pride and will. The existence of what is 
called " natural couraire " may well be ilouhted. What 
is frequently mistaken for it is either perfect self-com- 
mand, or a stolid indifference, arising from dull lirained 
inability to comprehend what really is danger. 

The first instincts of man teach him to shun all 
sources of harm, and if his senses are sufficiently acute 
to perceive dan;x<?r, his natural disposition is to avoid 
encountering it. This disposition can only be over- 
come by the exercise of the |K>wer of pride and will 
— pride to aspire to the accomplishment of certain 
tilings, even though risk attend, ami will to carry 
out those aspirations. 

Harry Glen was apparently not deficient in either 
pride or will. The close observer, however, seemed 
to see as his ma.stering sentiment a certiiin sterile self- 
ishness, not uncommon among the youths of his train- 
ing and position in the slow-living, hum-drum country 
towns of Ohio. The only son of a weakly-fondling 
mother and a father too earnestly treading the narrow 
path of early diligences and small savings by which :i 



riBHT SHOTS. 19 

man becomes the richest in his villafre, to pay any 
attention to him, Harry grew up a self-indulgent, sclf- 
suflScient boy. His course at the seminary and college 
naturally developed this into a snobbish assumption 
that he was of tiner clay than the conunonally, and in 
some way selected by fortune for her finer displays 
and luxurious purposes. I have termed this a *' sterile 
selfishness," to distinguish it from that grand egoism 
which in large minds is fruitful of high accomplish- 
ments and great deeds, and to denote a force which, 
in the sons of the average "rich" men of the county 
seats, is apt to exju-nd itself in satisfaction at having 
finer clothes and fjLster hoi-ses and plcasanter homes, 
than the average — in a pride of white hands and a 
8Coni of drudgery. 

When Harry signed his name upon the recruiting 
roll — largely impelle<l thereto l)y thedelicately-llattcr- 
ing suggestion that he should lead off for the youth of 
Sardis — he had not the slightest misgiving that by so 
doing he would subjoct himself to any of the ills and 
discomforts incidental to carrying out the enterprise 
upon which they were embarking. He, like every 
one else, had no ver}' clear idea of what the company 
would l)e called upon to do or undergo ; but no doubt 
o])trud('d itself into his mind that whatever might be 
disagn-cable in it would fall to some one else's lot, 
and he continue to have the same pleasant exem])tion 
that had been his good fortune so far through life. 

And though the company was unexpectedly ordered 
to the field in the rugged mountains of Western Vir- 
ginia, instead of to pleasant quarters about Washing- 
ton, there was nothinsr to shake this comfortable be- 



20 THE RED ACOKX. 

lief. The slack discipline of the first three months' 
service, and the confusion of ideas that prevailed in 
the bcf^inning of the war as to military duties and 
responsibilities, enabled him to sjx'nd all the time ho 
chose away from his company and with congenial 
spirits, about headquarters, and to make of the expe- 
dition, so far as he was concerned, a pleasant jiic-nic. 
Occasionally little shadows were thrown by the si«:ht 
of corpses brouirht in. with uirly looking bullet holes 
in head or breast, but these were always of the class 
he looked down upon, and he c(mnected their bad luck 
in some way with their condition in life. Doubtless 
some one had to fro where there was dan^rer of beini^ 
shot, as some one ha<l to diij ditches and help to pry 
WMirons out of the mud, but there wits somcthiiiir 
rather preposterous in the thouirht that anvthiiiL' of 
this kind was incumbent uixm him. 

The mutterings of the men against an ollieer, who 
would not share their hardships and duties, did not 
reach his ears, nor yet the gibes of the more earnest 
of the officers at the "young headquarter swells," 
whose interest and zeal were nothing to what they 
would have taken in a fishing excursion. 

It came about very naturally and very soon that 
this ccmtinual avoidance of dut}' in directions where 
danger might be encountered was stigmatized b}' the 
harsher name of cowardice. Neither did this come to 
his knowledge, and he was consequently ignorant that 
he had delivered a fatal stab to his reputation one 
fine morning when, the regiment being ordered out 
with three days' rations and forty rounds of cart- 
ridges, the sergeant who was sent in search of him 



FIRST SHOTS. 21 

returned and reported that he was sick in his tent. 
Jacob Alspaugh expressed the conchision instantly 
arrived at by every one in the regiment : 

" It's all you could expect of one of thoni kid-glove 
fellers, to weaken when it came to serious business/' 

Harry's self sulliciency had left so little room for 
anything that did not directly concern his own com- 
fort, that he could not understand the deadly earnest- 
ness of the men he saw file out of camp, or that there 
was any urgent call for him to join them in their 
undertaking. 

"Bob Bennett's always going where there's no 
need of it," he said to a companion, as he .saw the last 
of the regiment disappear into the woods on the 
mountain side. ''He could have stiiid back here with 
us just as well as not, instead of trudging off through 
the heat over these devilish roads, and pr()I)ably get 
into a scrape for which no one will Ihank him," 

"Yes," said Xc<l Burnh-igh, with his affected 
drawl, " wliat the devil's the use, I'd like to know, 
for a fellah's putting liim.self out to do thing.s, when 
there's any quantity of other fellahs, that can't be 
better employed, ready and even anxious to do 
them." 

"That's so. But it's getting awful hot here. Let's 
go over to tlie shade, where we were yesterday, and 
liavi! Dick bring us a bucket of cold spring water and 
the bottles and thiiMjs.'' 



"Abe !" said Jake Alspaugh to his file-leader — a 
red-headed, pock-markod man, whose normal condi- 



22 THE RED ACORN. 

tion was that of outspoken disgust at every thing — 
"this means a tight." 

" Your news would 'vc been fresh and interesting 
last night," gi-owled Abe Bolton '* I supi)ose that's 
what we brought our guns along for." 

"Yes ; but somebody's likely to get killed." 

" Well, you nor me don't have to pay their life 
insurance, as I know on." 

" But it may be you or me," 

"Thodevil'd be mighty anxious for green wood 
before he'd call you in." 

"Come, now, don't talk tliat way. Tiiis is a 
mighty serious time." 

••I'll make it a durned sight seriouser for yoti if 
you don't keep them splay feet o' your'n olfon my 
heels when we're marching." 

"Don't you think we'd bettor pray, or— some- 
thing ? " 

"You might try taking U}) a eollection." 

"Try starting a hymn, Jake," said a slender 
young man at his right elbow, whose face showed a 
color more intimately coimected with the contents of 
his canteen than the heat of the day. " Line it out, 
and we'll all join in. Something like this, for exam- 
ple : 

* Hark, from the tombs a doleful sound 
Mine cars attend the cry. 
Ye living men, come view the ground, 
Where you must shortly lie.' " 

Alspaugh shuddered visibly. 

"Come, spunk up, Jake," continued the slender 



FIRST SHOTS. 23 

young man. "Think how proud all your relations 
will be of you, if you die for your country." 

" I'm mad at all of my relations, and I don't want 
to do nothinsr to jilease 'em," sighed Jake. 

•• But I hope you're not so greedy as to want to 
live always ? " said the slender young man, who an- 
swered roll-call to Kent Edwards. 

"No, but I don't want to be knocked olf like a 
green apple, before Fm ripe and ready." 

" Better be knocked off green and unripe," said 
Kent, his railing mood changing to one of sad intro- 
spection, " than to prematurely fall, from a worm 
gnawing at your heart." 

Jake's fright was not so great as to make him 
forego the opportunity for a brutal retort : 

" You mean the ' worm of the still,'I s'pose. Welb 
It don't gnaw at my heart so much as at some other 
folkses' that I know'd.'' 

Kent's face crimsoned still deeper, and he half 
raised his musket, as if to strike him, but at that 
moment came the order to march, and the regiment 
moved forward. 

The enemy was by this time known to be near, 
and the men marched in that silence that comes from 
tense expectation. 

The day was intensely hot, and the stagnant, sul- 
try air was perfumed with the thousand sweet odors 
that rise in the West Vn-ginia forests in the first flush 
of Summer. 

The road wound around the steep mountain side, 
through great thickets of glossy-leaved hiurel, by 



24 



THE RED ACORN. 



banks of fragrant honeysuckle, by beds of millions 
of sweet-breathing, velvety pansies, nestling under 
huge shadowy rocks, by acres of white puccoon flow 
ers, each as lovely as the lily that grows by cool 
Siloam's shady rill— all scattered there with Nature's 
reckless profusion, where no eye saw them from year 
to year save those of the infrequent hunter, those of 
the thousands of gaily-pluinaged birds that sang and 
screamed through the branches of the trees above, 
and those of the hideous rattlesnakes that crawled and 
hissed in the crevices of the shelving rocks. 

At last the regiment halted under the gi-ateful 
shadows of the broad-topped oaks and chestnuts. A 
patriarchal pheasant, dnunniing on a log near by 
some uxorious communication to his brooding mate, 
distended his round eyes in amazement at the strange 
irruption of men and hoi-ses, and then whirred away 
in a transport of fear. A crimson crested woodpecker 
ceased his ominous tapping, and flew boldly to a 
neighboring branch, where he could inspect the new 
arrival to good advantage and determine its char- 
acter. 

The men threw themselves down for a moment's 
rest, on the springing moss that covered the whole 
mountain side. A hum of comment and conversation 
arose. Jake Alspaugh began to think that there was 
not likely to be any fight after all, and his spirits rose 
proportionately. Abe Bolton growled that the cow- 
ardly officers had no doubt deliberately misled the 
regiment, that a fight might be avoided. Kent Ed- 
wards saw a nodding May-apple flower— as fair as a 
calla and as odorous as a pink— at a little distance, 



FIRST SHOTS. 25 

and hastened to pick it. He came back with it in the 
muzzle of his gun, and his hands full of violets. 

A thick-bodied rattlesnake crawled slowly and 
clumsily out from the shelter of a little ledge, his 
fearful eyes gleaming with deadly intentions against 
a ground-squirrel frisking upon the end of a mossy 
log, near where Captain Bob Bennett was seated, 
poring over a troublesome detail in the "Tactics." 
The snake saw the man, and his awkward movement 
changed at once into one of electric alertness. He 
sounded his terrible rattle, and his dull diamonds and 
stripes lighted up with the glare that shines through 
an enraged man's face. The thick body seemed to 
lengthen out and gain a world of sinuous suppleness. 
With the quickness of a fla.sh he was coiled, witli head 
erect, forked tongue protruding, and eyes flaming 
like Satanic jewels. 

A shout apprised Captain Bennett of his danger. 
He dropped the book, sprang to his feet with a quick- 
ness that matched the snake's, and instinctively drew 
his sword. Stepping a little to one side as the reptile 
launched itself at him, he dextrously cut it in two 
with a sweeping stroke. A shout of applause rose 
from the excited boys, who gathered around to inspect 
the slain serpent and congratulate the Captain upon 
his skillful disposition of his assailant. 

" O, that's only my old bat-stroke that used to 
worry the boys in town-ball so much," said the Cap- 
tain carelessly. "It's queer what things turn out 
useful to a man, and when he least expects them." 

A long, ringing yell from a thousand throats cleft 
the air, and with its last notes came the rattle of 



26 THE RED ACORN. 

musketry from the brow of the hill across the little 
ravine. The bullets sang viciously overhead. Thc}^ 
cut the leaves and branches with sharp little crashes, 
and struck men's bodies with a peculiar slap. A score 
of men in the disordered group fell back dead or 
dying upon the green moss. 

"Of course, we might've knowed them muddle- 
headed officers 'd run us right slap into a hornets' 
nest of Rebels before they knowed a thing about it," 
grumbled Abe Bolton, hastily tearing a cartridge Avith 
his teeth, and forcing it into his gun. 

"Hold on, my weak-kneed patriot," said Kent 
Edwards, catching Jake Alspaugh by the collar, and 
turning him around so that he faced the enemy again. 
"It's awful bad manners to rush out of a matinee just 
as the performance begins. You disturb the people 
who've come to enjoy the show. Keep your seat till 
the curtain goes down. You'll find enough to inter- 
est you.'' 

The same sudden inspiration of common-sense that 
had flashed upon Captain Bennett, in encountering 
the snake now raised him to the level of this emer- 
gency. He comprehended that the volley they had 
received had emptied every Rebel gun. The distance 
was so short that the enemy could be reached before 
they had time to re-load. But no time must be lost 
in attempting to form, or in having the order regu- 
larly given by the Colonel. He sprang toward the 
enemy, waving his sword, and shouted in tones that 
echoed back from the clifis: 

"Attention, Battalion! Charge bayonets! For- 
ward, DOUBLE-QUICK, MARCH ! " 



FIRST SHOTS. 27 

A swelling cheer answered him. His own com- 
pany ran forward to follow his impetuous lead. The 
others joined in rapid l3^ Away they dashed down 
the side of the declivity, and in an instant more were 
swarming up the opposite side toward the astonished 
Rebels. Among these divided councils reigned. 
Some were excitedly snapping unloaded guns at the 
oncoming foe; others were fixing bayonets, and stur- 
dily urging their comrades to do likewise, and meet the 
rushing wave of cold steel with a counter wave. The 
weaker-hearted ones were already clambering up the 
mountain-side out of reach of harm. 

There was no time for debate. The blue line led 
by Bennett flung itself upon the dark-brown mass of 
Rebels like an angry wave dashing over a flimsy 
bank of sand, and in an instant there was nothing to 
be done but pursue the disrupted and flying frag- 
ments. It was all over. 



28 THE RED ACORN. 



CHAPTER III. 

A RACE. 

" Some have greatness thrust upon ihem."— Twelfth Night. 

THE unexpected volley probably disturbed pri- 
vate Jacob Alspaugh's mind more than that of 
an}^ other man in the regiment. It produced there 
an effect akin to the sensation of a nauseous emetic in 
his stomach. 

He had long enjoyed the enviable distinction of 
being the "best man" among the combative youths 
of Sardis, and his zeal and invariable success in the 
fistic tournaments which form so large a part of the 
interest in life of a certain class of young men in vil- 
lages, had led his townsmen to entertain extravagant 
hopes as to his achievements in the field. 

But, like most of his class, his courage was purely 
ph3^sical, and a low order of that type. He was bold 
in those encounters where he knew that his superior 
strength and agility rendered small the chances of his 
receiving any serious bodily harm, but of that high 
pride and mounting spirit which lead to soldierly 
deeds he had none. 

The sight of the dying men on each side shriv- 
eled his heart with a deadly panic. 

"O, Kent," he groaned, " Lemme go, and let's 
git out o' here. This's just awful, and it'll be ten 



times wuss in another minnit. Let's git behind that 
big rock there, as quick as the Lord'll let us." 

He turned to pull away from Kent's detaining 
hand, when he heard Captain Bennett's order to the 
regiment to charge, and the hand relaxed its hold. 
Jake faced to the front again and saw Kent and Abe 
Bolton, and the rest of the boj^s rush forward, leaving 
him and a score of other weak-kneed irresolutes 
standing alone behind. 

Again he thought he would seek the refuge of the 
rock, but at that moment the Union line swept up to 
the Rebels, scattering them as a wave does dry sand. 

Jake's mental motions were reasonably rapid. 
Now he was not long in realizing that all the danger 
was past, and that he had an opportunity of gain- 
ing credit cheaply. He acted promptly. Fixing his 
bayonet, he gave a fearful yell and started forward 
on a run for the position which the regiment had 
gained. 

He was soon in the lead of the pursuers, and ap- 
peared, by his later zeal, to be making amends for 
his earlier tardiness. As he ran ahead he shouted 
savagely: 

" Run down the hellions! Shoot 'em! Stab 'em! 
Bay'net 'em! Don't let one of 'em git away." 

There is an excitement in a man-chase that is not 
even approached by any other kind of hunting, and 
Jake soon became fairly intoxicated with it. 

He quickly overtook one or two of the slower- 
paced Rebels, who surrendered quietly, and were 
handed by him over to the other boys as they came 
up, and conducted by them to the rear. 



30 THE RED ACORN. 

Becoming more excited he sped on, entirely un- 
mindful of how far he was outstripping his com- 
rades. 

A hundred yards ahead of him was a tall, gaunt 
Virginian, clad in butternut-colored jeans of queer 
cut and pattern, and a great bell-crowned hat of 
rough, gray beaver. Though his gait was shambling, 
and his huge splay feet rose and fell in the most awk- 
ward way, he went over the ground with a swiftness 
that made it rather doubtful whether Jake was gain- 
ing on him at all. But the latter was encouraged 
by the signs of his chase's distress. First the bell- 
crowned hat flew oflf and rolled behind, and Jake 
could not resist the temptation to give it a kick which 
sent it spinning into a clump of honeysuckles. Then 
the Rebel flung ofl* a haversack, whose flapping inter- 
fered with his speed, and this was followed by a 
clumsily-constructed cedar canteen. The thought 
flashed into Jake's mind that this was probably tilled 
with the much-vaunted peach-brandy of that section; 
and as ardent spirits was one of his weaknesses, the 
temptation to stop and pick up the canteen was very 
strong, but he conquered it and hurried on after his 
prey. Next followed the fugitive's belt, loaded down 
with an antique cartridge-box, a savage knife made 
from a rasp and handled with buckhorn, and a fierce- 
looking horse-pistol with a flint-lock. 

"I seemed to be bustin' up a moosyum o' revolu- 
tionary relics, "said Jake afterward, in describing the 
incident. " The feller dropped keepsakes from his 
forefathers like a bird moltin' its feathers on a windy 
day. I begun to think that if I kep up the chase 



A RACE. 31 

purty soon he'd begin to shed Continental money and 
knee-britches. " 

The fugitive turned off to the right into a narrow 
path that wound through the laurel thickets. Jake 
followed with all the energy that remained in him, 
confident that a short distance more would bring him 
so close to his game that he could force his surrender 
by a threat of bayoneting. He caught up to within 
a rod of the Rebel, and was already foreshortening 
his gun for a lunge in case of refusal to surrender on 
demand, when he was amazed to see the Rebel whirl 
around, level his gun at him, and order /lis surrender. 
Jake was so astonished that he stumbled, fell forward 
and dropped his gun. As he raised his eyes he saw 
three or four other Rebels step out from behind a 
rock, and level their guns upon him with an expres- 
sion of bloodthirstiness that seemed simply fiendish. 

Then it flashed upon him how far away he was 
from all his comrades, and that the labyrinth of lau- 
rel made them even much more remote. With this 
realization came the involuntary groan: 

"• O, Lordy! it's all up with me. I'm a goner, 
sure! " 

His courage did not ooze out of his fingers, like 
the historic Bob Acres's; it vanished like gas from a 
rent balloon. He clasped his hands and tried to think 
of some prayer. 

" Now I lay me," he murmured. 
"Shan't we shoot the varmint ?" said one of the 
Rebels, with a motion of his gun in harmony with 
that idea. 

' O, mister — mister — good mister, don't/ Please 



32 THE RED ACORN. 

don't! I swear I didn't mean to do no harm to 
you." 

" Wall, ye acted mouty quare fur a man that 
didn't mean no harm," said the pursued man, regain- 
ing his breath with some difficulty. " A-chasin' me 
down with thet ar prod on yer gun, an' a-threatenin' 
to stick hit inter me at every jump. Only wanted 
ter see me run, did yer ? " 

" O, mister, I only done it because I wuz ordered 
to. T couldn't help myself; I swear I couldn't. " 

" Whar's the ossifers thet wuz a-orderin' ye ? 
Whar's the captins thet wuz puttin' ye up ter hit ? 
Thar wan't no one in a mile of ye. Guess we'd bet- 
ter shoot ye. " 

Again Jake raised his voice in abject appeal for 
mercy. There was nothing he was not willing to 
promise if his life were only spared. 

" Wouldn't hit be better ter bay 'net him ? " sug- 
gested one of the Rebels, entirely unmoved, as his 
comrades were, by Jake's piteous pleadings. " Ef 
we go ter shootin' 'round yere hit'll likely bring the 
Yankees right onter us." 

"I 'spect hit would be better ter take him back a 
little ways, any way," said the man whom Jake had 
pursued. "Pick up his gun thar, Eph. Come 
along, you, an' be mouty peart about hit, fur we're 
in a powerful bad frame o' mind ter be fooled with. 
I wouldn't gin a fi'-penny-bit fur all yer blue-bellied 
life's worth. The boys ar jest pizen mad from seein' 
so many o' thar kin and folks killed by yer crowd o' 
thievin' Hessians." 

Grateful for even a momentary respite, Jake rose 



A RACK. 88 

from his knees with alacrity and humbly followed 
one of the Rebels along the path. The others strode 
behind, and occasionally spurred him into a more 
rapid pace with a prick from their bayonets. 

"O, ough, mister, don't do that! Don't, 

please! You don't know how it hurts. I ain't got 
no rhinoceros skin to stand such jabs as that. That 
come purty nigh goin' clean through to my heart." 

" Skeet ahead faster, then, or the next punch'll 
go right smack through ye, fur sartin. Ef yer skin's 
so tender what are ye doin' in the army ? " 

The}^ climbed the mountain laboriously, and 
started down on the other side. About midway in 
the descent they came upon a deserted cabin stand- 
ing near the side of the road. 

"By the Lord Harry," said one of the Rebels, 
'' I'm a'most done clean gin out, so I am. I'm 
tireder nor a claybank boss arter a hard day's plowin', 
an' I'm ez dry ez a lime-kiln. I motioii thet we stop 
yere an' take a rest. We kin put our Yank in the 
house thar, an' keep him. I wonder whar the spring 
is thet the folks thet liverl yere got thar water 
from ? " 

" Ef I don't disremember," said another, "this is 
the house where little Pete Higgenbottom lived afore 
the country got ruther onhelthy fur him on account 
of his partiality for other people's bosses. I made a 
little trip up yere the time I loss thet little white- 
faced bay mar of pap's, an I'm purty sure the spring's 
over thar in thet holler. " 

" Lordy, how they must Ve hankered arter the 
fun o' totin' water, to 've lugged hit clar from over 
C 



34 THE RED ACORN. 

thar. I'd 've moved the house nigher the spring afore 
I'd 've stood thet ere a month, so I would." 

" The distance to the water ortent to bother a feller 
thet gets along with usin' ez little ez you do," growled 
the first speaker. 

"A man whose nose looks like a red-pepper pod 
in August, and his shirt like a section o' rich bottom 
land, hain't no great reason ter make remarks on 
other folks's use o' water." 

Jake plucked up some courage from the relaxa- 
tion in the savage grimness of his captors, which 
seeemed implied by this rough pleasantry, and with 
him such recuperation of spirits naturally took the 
form of brassy self-assertion. 

" Don't you fellers know," he began with a manner 
and tone intended to be placating, but instead was 
rasping and irritating, " don't you fellers know that 
the best thing you can do with me is to take me 
back to our people, and trade me off for one of your 
fellers that they've ketched ? " 

" An' don't ye know thet the best thing ye kin do 
is to keep thet gapin' mouth o' your 'n shet, so thet 
the flies won't git no chance to blow yer throat ?" said 
the man whose nose had been aptly likened to a ripe 
red-pepper pod, "an' the next best thing's fur ye to 
git inter thet cabin thar quicker 'n blazes '11 scorch a 
feather, an' stay thar without makin' a motion toward 
gittin' away. Git ! " and he made a bayonet thrust 
at Jake that tore open his blouse and shirt, and laid 
a great gaping wound along his breast. Jake leaped 
into the cabin and threw himself down upon the 
puncheon floor. 



A RACE. 35 

"Thar war none of our crowd taken," said anoth- 
er of the squad, who had looked on approvingly. 
"They wuz all killed, an' the only way to git even is 
ter send ye whar they are." 

Jake made another earnest effort to recall one of 
the prayers he had derided in his bad boyhood. 

Leaving the red-nosed man to guard the prisoner, 
the rest of the Rebels started for the hollow, in search 
of water to cool their burning thirst. 

They had gained sucli a distance from the scene of 
the fight, and were in such an out-of-the way place, 
that the thought of being overtaken did not obtrude 
itself for an instant, either upon their minds or Jake's. 

But as they came back up the hill, with a gourd 
full of spring water for their companion, they were 
amazed to see a party of blue-coats appear around the 
bend of the road at a little distance. They dropped 
the gourd of water, and yelled to the man on guard : 

" Kill the Yank, an' run for yer life ! " and disap- 
peared themselves, in the direction of the spring. 

The guard comprehended the situation and the 
order. He fired his gun at Jake, but with such nerv- 
ous haste as to destroy the aim, and send the charge 
into the puncheon a foot beyond his intended victim, 
and then ran off with all speed to join his companions. 
The Union boys sent a few dropping shots after him, 
all of which missed their mark. 

Jake managed to recover his nerves and wits suffi- 
ciently to stagger to the door as his comrades came 
up, and grasp one of the guns the Rebels had left. 

Questions and congratulations were showered upon 
him, but he replied incoherently, and gasped a request 



36 THE RED ACORN. 

for water, as if he were perishing from thirst. While 
some hunted for this, others sought for traces of the 
Rebels ; so he gained time to fix up a fairly present- 
able story of a desperate and long-continued bayonet 
struggle in which he was beiiaving with the greatest 
gallantry, although nearly hopeless of success, when 
the arrival of help changed the aspect of matters. 
He had so many gaping wounds to confirm the truth 
of this story, that it was implicitly believed, and he 
was taken back to camp as one of the foremost heroes 
of that eventful day. The Colonel made him a Ser- 
geant as soon as he heard the tale, and regretted much 
that he could not imitate the example of the great 
Napoleon, and raise him to a commission, on the scene 
of his valiant exploits. His cot at the hospital was 
daily visited by numbers of admiring comrades, to 
whom he repeated hfs glowing account of the fight, 
with marked improvements in manner and detail 
accompanying every repetition. 

He had no desire to leave the hospital during his 
term of service, but his hurts were all superficial and 
healed rapidly, so that in a fortnight's time the Sur- 
geon pronounced him fit to return to dut3^ He cursed 
inwardly that officer's zeal in keeping the ranks as full 
ns possible, and went back to his company to find it 
preparing to go into another fight. 

"Hello. Jake,'' said his comrades, " awful glad to 
see you back. Now you'll have a chance to get your 
revenge on those fellows. There'll be enough of us 
with you to see that you get a fair fight." 

"To the devil with their revenge and a fair fight," 
said Jake to himself. That evening he strolled around 



A RACE, 87 

to the headquarters tent, and said to the commander 
of the regiment : 

'• Colonel, the doctor seems to think that I'm fit to 
return to duty, but I don't feel all right yet. IVe a 
numbness in my legs, so that I kin hardly walk some- 
times. It's my old rheumatics, stirred up by sleeping- 
out in the night air. I hear that the man who's been 
drivin' the headquarters wagon has had to go to the 
hospital. I want to be at something, even if I can't 
do duty in the ranks, and I'd like. to take his place till 
him and me gets well.'' 

'' All right. Sergeant. You can have the place as 
long as you wish, or any other that I can give you. 
I can't do too much for so brave a man." 

So it happened that in the next fight the regiment 
was not gratified by any thrilling episodes of sangui- 
nary, single-handed combats, between the indomita- 
ble Jake and bloodthirsty Rebels. 

He had deferred his '* revenge " indefinitely. 



38 



THE RED ACORN. 



CHAPTER IV. 



DISGRACE. 

For of fortune's sliarpe adversltle 
The worst kind of Infortune Is this ; 

A man that hath been In prosperltle. 
And It remember when It passed Is. 

— Chauckr. 



TTARRY GLEN'S perfect self-complacency did 
XX not molt II feather when the victors returned to 
camp flushed with their triumph, which, in the eyes 
of those inexperienced three-months men, had the 
dimensions of a Waterloo. He did not know that 
in proportion as they magnified their own exploit, so 
was the depth ot their contempt felt for those of their 
comrades who had declined to share the perils and the 
honors of the expedition with them. He was too 
thoroughly satisfied with himself and his motives to 
even imagine that any one could have just cause for 
complaint at anything he chose to do. 

This kept him from understanding or appreciating 
the force of the biting innuendoes and sarcasms which 
were made to his very face ; and he had stood so aloof 
trom all, that there was nolwdy who cared to take the 
friendly trouble of telling him how free the camp con- 
versation was making with his reputation. 

He could not help, however, understanding that 
in some way he had lost caste with the regiment : but 
he serenely attributed this to mean-spirited jealousy 
of the superior advantages he was enjoying, and it 



DISGRACE. 39 

only made him more anxious for the coming of the 
time when he could *• cut the whole mob of beggars,'' 
as Ned Burnleigh phrased it. 

A few days more would end the regiment's term 
of service, and he readily obtained permission to 
return home in advance. 

The first real blow his confidence received was 
when he walked down the one principal street of 
Sardis, and was forced to a perception of the tact that 
there was an absence of that effusive warmth with 
which the Sardis people had ever before welcomed 
back their young townsman, of whose good looks 
and gentlemanliness they had always been proud. 
Now people looked at him in a curious way. They 
turned to whisper to each other, with sarcastic smiles 
and knowing winks, as he came into view, and they 
did not come forward to ofter him their hands as of old. 
It astonished him that nobody alluded to the company 
or to anything that had happened to it. 

Turning at length from the main street, he entered 
the lateral one leading to his home. As he did so, he 
heard one boy call out to another in that piercing 
treble which boys employ in making their confi- 
dential communications to one another, across a 
street , 

"S-a-y- did you know that Hank Glen 'd got 
back ? and they say he looks pale yet ? " 

"Has he?" the reply came in high falsetto, palp- 
ably tinged with that fine scorn of a healthy boy, for 
anything which does not exactly square with his 
young highness's ideas. "Come back to his mammy, 
eh ? Well, it's a pity she ever let him go away from 



40 THE RED ACORN. 

her. Hope she'll keep him with her now. He don't 
seem to do well out of reach of her apron strings." 

The whole truth flashed upon him : Envious 
ones had slandered him at home, as a coward. 

He walked onward in a flurry of rage. The 
thought that he had done anything to deserve crit- 
icism could not obtrude itself between the joints of 
his triple-plated armor of self-esteem. 

A swelling contempt for his village critics flushed 
his heart. 

'' Spiteful, little-minded country boobies," he said 
to himself with an impatient shake of his head, as if 
to adjust his hair, which was his usual sign of excite- 
ment, " they've always hated me because I was above 
them. They take advantage of the least opportunity 
to show their mean jealousy." 

After a moment's pause : '' But I don't care. I'd 
a little rather have their dislike than their good-will. 
It'll save me a world of trouble in being polite to a 
lot of curs that I despise. I'm going to leave this 
dull little burg anyhow, as soon as I can get away. 
I'm going to Cincinnati, and be with Ned Burnleigh. 
There is more life there in a day than here in a year. 
After all, there's nobody here that I care anything for, 
except father and mother — and — Rachel." 

A new train of thought introduced itself at this 
tardy remembrance of his betrothed. His heat abated. 
He stopped, and leaning against a shady silver maple 
began anew a meditation that had occupied his mind 
very frequently since that memorable night under the 
okl apple tree on the hill-top. 



DISGRACE. 41 

There had been for him but little of that spiritual 
exaltation which made that night the one supreme one 
in Rachers existence ; when the rapture of gratified 
pride and love blended with the radiant moonlight 
and the subtle fragrance of the flowers into a sweet 
symphony that would well chord with the song the 
stars sang together in the morning. 

He was denied the intense pleasure that comes from 
success, after harrowing doubts and fears. His unfail- 
ing consciousness of his own worth had left him little 
doubt that a favorable answer would promptly follow 
whan he chose to propose to Rachel Bond, or to any 
other girl, and when this came with the anticipated 
readiness, he could not help in the midst of his grati- 
fication at her assent the intrusion of the disagreeable 
suspicion that, peradventure, he had not done the best 
with his personal wares that he might. Possibly 
there would appear in time some other girl, whom he 
might prefer to Rachel, and at all events there was 
no necessity for his committing himself when he did, 
for Rachel "would have kept," as Ned Burnleigh 
coarsely put it, when made the recipient of Harry's 
confidence. 

Three months of companionship with Ned Burn- 
leigh, and daily imbibition of that young man's sto- 
ries of his wonderful conquests among young women 
of peerless beauty and exalted social station con- 
firmed this feeling, and led him to wish for at least 
such slackening of the betrothal tether as would per- 
mit excursions into a charmed realm like that where 
Ned reigned supreme. 
3* 



42 THE RED ACORN. 

For the thousandth time — and in each recurrence 
becoming a little clearer defined and more urgent — 
came the question: 

' ' Shall I break with Rachel ? How can I ? And 
what possible excuse can I assign for it ? " 

There came no answer to this save the spurs Avith 
which base self-love was pricking the sides of his 
intent, and he recoiled from it — ashamed of himself, 
it is true, but less ashamed at each renewed consid- 
eration of the query. 

He hastened home that he might receive a greet- 
ing that would efiace the memory of the reception he 
had met with in the street. There, at least, he would 
be regarded as a hero, returning laurel-crowned from 
the conflict. 

As he entered the door his father, tall, spare and 
iron-gra}', laid down the paper he was reading, and 
with a noticeable lowering of the temperature of his 
wonted calm but earnest cordiality, said simply: 

" How do you do ? When did you get in ? " 

"Very well, and on the 10: 30 train." 

" Did all your company come ? " 

Harry winced, for there was something in his 
father's manner, more than his words, expressive of 
strong disapproval. He answered: 

"No; I was unwell. The water and the ex- 
posure disagreed with me, and I was allowed to come 
on in advance." 

Mr. Glen, the elder, carefully folded the paper he 
was reading and laid it on the stand, as if its presence 
would embarrass him in what he was about to say. 
He took oflf his eye-glasses, wiped them deliberately, 



I DISGRACE. 43 

closed them up and hesitated for a moment, holding 
them between the thumb and forefinger of one hand, 
before placing them in their case, which he had taken 
from his pocket with the other. 

These were all gestures with which experience 
had made Harry painfully familiar. He used to 
describe them to his boy intimates as "the Governor 
clearing for action."" There was something very disa- 
greeable coming, and he awaited it apprehensively. 

"Were you"— the ftither's cold, searching eyes 
rested for an instant on the glasses in his hand, and 
then were fixed on his son's face — "were you too ill 
the day of the fight to accompany your command ? " 

Harry's glance quailed under the penetrating scru- 
tiny, as was his custom when his father subjected 
him to a relentless catechism; then he summoned 
assurance to his aid, and his face reddened with both 
genuine and assumed anger. 

"Father," he said, "I certainly did not expect 
that you Avould join these mean-spirited curs in their 
abuse of me, but now I see that " 

"Henry, you evade the question." The calm 
eyes took on a steely hardness. " You certainly 
know by this time that I always require direct an- 
swers to my questions. Now the point is this: You 
entered this company to be its leader, and to share 
all its duties with it. It went into a fight while you 
remamed back in camp. Why was this so ? Were 
you too sick to accompany it ? " 

' ' I certainly was not feeling well. " 

"Were you too ill to go along with your com- 
pany ? " 



44 THE RED ACORN. 

''Well — I — really — was — not — feeling — well, — 
and — there — was — some — work — in — camp — that 
— needed — to — be — done — and there was enough with- 
out me, — and — I — I — " 

" That is sufficient," said the elder man with a 
look of scorn that presently changed into one of 
deeply wounded pride. "Henry, I know too well 
your disposition to shirk the unpleasant duties of 
life, to be much surprised that, when tried by this 
test, you were found wanting. But this wounds me 
deeply. People in Sardis think my disposition hard 
and exacting; the}^ think I care for little except to 
get all that is due me. But no man here can say that 
in all his long life Robert Glen shirked or evaded a 
single duty that he owed to the comnumity or his 
fellowMnen, no matter how dangerous or disagreea- 
ble that duty might be.' To have you fail in this 
respect and to take and maintain your place in the 
front rank with other men is a terrible blow to my 
pride." 

'- O, Harry, is that you ? " said his mother, coming 
into the room at that moment and throwing herself 
mto her son's arms. ''I was lying down when I 
heard your voice, and I dressed and hurried down as 
quickly as possible. I am so glad that you have 
come home all safe and well. I know that you'll 
contradict, for your poor mother's sake, all these 
horrible stories that are worrying her almost to 
death." 

" Unfortunately he has just admitted that those 
stories are substantially true," said the father curtly. 

" I won't believe it,'' sobbed his mother, "until he 



DI8GRACB. 45 

tells me so himself. You didn't, did you, back out 
of a fight, and let that Bob Bennett, whose mother 
used to be my sewing girl, and whom I supported 
for months after he was born, and his father died 
with tlie cholera and left her nothing, by giving her 
work and paying her cash, and who is now putting 
on all sorts of airs because everybod^^'s congratu- 
lating her on having such a wonderful son. and no- 
body's congratulating me at all, and sometimes I 
almost wish I was dead." 

Clearness of statement was never one of Mrs. 
Glen's salient characteristics. Nor did deep emotion 
help her in this regard. Still it was only too evi- 
dent that the fountains of her being were moved by 
having another woman's son exalted over her own. 
Her maternal pride and social prestige were both 
quivering under the blow. 

Harry met this with a flank movement. 

"You both seem decidedl}^ disappointed that I 
did not get myself wounded or killed," he said. 

"That's an unmanly whimper," said his father con- 
temptuously. 

"Why, Harry, Bob Bennett didn't get either 
killed or wounded, " said his mother with that defect- 
ive ratiocination which it is a pretty woman's priv- 
ilege to indulge in at her own sweet will. 

Harry withdrew from the mortifying conference 
under the plea of the necessity of going to his room 
to remove the grime of travel. 

He was smarting with rage and humiliation. His 
panoply of conceit was pierced for the first time since 
the completion of his collegiate course sent him forth 



46 THE RED ACOK^. 

into the world a being superior, in his own esteem, 
to the accidents and conditions that the mass of infe- 
rior mortals are subject to. Yet he found reasons to 
account for liis parents' defection to tlie ranks of his 
enemies. 

''It's no new thing," he said, while carefully 
dressing for a call upon Rachel in the evening, "for 
father to be harsh and unjust to me, and mother has 
one of her nervous spells, when everything goes 
wrong with her." 

"Anyhow," he continued, "there's Ned Burn- 
leigh, who understands me and will do me justice, 
and he amounts to more than all of Sardis — except 
Rachel, who loves me and will always believe that 
what I do is right." 

He sat down at his desk and wrote a long letter 
to Ned, inveighing bitterly against the stupidity and 
malice of people living in small villages, and inform- 
ing him of his intention to remove to Cincinnati as 
soon as an opening could be found for him there, 
which he l)egged Ned to busy himself in discov- 
ering. 

Attired in his most becoming garb, and neglecting 
nothing that could enhance his personal appearance, 
he walked slowly up the hill in the evening to Rachel 
Bond's house. The shrinkage which his self-sufB- 
ciency had suffered had left room for a wonderful 
expansion of his affection for Rachel, whose love and 
lo3^alty were now essential to him, to compensate for 
the falling away of others. The question of whether 
he should break with her was now one the answering 
of which could be postponed indefinitely. There was 



DISGRACE. 47 

no reason why he should not enjoy the sweet priv- 
ileges of an affianced lover during his stay in Sardis. 
What would happen afterward would depend upon 
the shape that things took in his new home. 

He found Rachel sitting on the piazza. Though 
dressed in the deepest and plainest black she had 
never looked so surpassingly beautiful. As is usually 
the case with young women of her type of beauty, 
grief had toned down the rich coloring that had at 
times seemed almost too exuberant into that delicate 
shell-like tint which is the perfection of nature's paint- 
ing. Her round white arms shone like Juno's, as the 
outlines were revealed by the graceful motions ^hich 
threw back the wide sleeves. Her wealth of silken 
black hair was drawn smoothly back from her white 
forehead, over her shapely head, and gathered into 
a simple knot behind. Save a black brooch at her 
throat, she wore no ornaments — not even a plain ring. 

She rose as Harry came upon the piazza, and for 
a moment her ftice was rigid with intensity of feeling. 
This evidence of emotion went as quickly as it came, 
however, and she extended her hand with calm disr- 
nity, saying simply: 

"You have returned, Mr. Glen." 

In his anxiety to so phiy the impassioned lover as 
to conceal the recreancy he had fo&tered in his own 
heart, Harry did not notice the coolness of this greet- 
ing. Then, too, his self-satisfaction had always done 
him the invaluable service of preventing a ready per- 
ception of the repellant attitudes of others. 

He came forward eagerly to press a kiss upon her 
lips, but she checked him with uplifted hand. 



48 THE RED ACORX. 

"O, the family's in there, are they?" said he, 
looking toward the open windows of the parlor. 
" Well, what matter ? Isn't it expected that a fellow 
will kiss his affianced wife on his return, and not care 
who knows it ? " 

He pointed to the old apple-tree where the3^ had 
plighted their troth that happy night, with a gesture 
and look that was a reminder of their former meet- 
ing and an invitation to go thither again. She com- 
prehended, but refused with a shudder, and. turning, 
motioned him to the farther end of the piazza, to 
which she led the way, moving with a sweeping 
gracefulness of carriage that Harry thought had won- 
derfully ripened and perfected in the three months 
that had elapsed since their parting 

" 'Fore gad," he said to himself. (This was a new 
addition to his expletoiy vocabulary, which had 
accrued from Ned Burnleigh's companionship.) " I'd 
like to put her alongside of one of the girls that Ned's 
always talking about. I don't believe she's got her 
equal anywhere." 

Arriving at the end of the piazza he impetuously 
renewed his attempt at an embrace, but her repulse 
was now unmistakable. 

"Sit down," she said, pointing to a chair; '• 1 
have something to say to you." 

Harry's first thought was a rush of jealousy. 
"Some rascal has supplanted me," he said bitterly, 
but under his breath. 

She took a chair near by, put away the arm he 
would have placed about her waist, drew from her 
pocket a dainty handkerchief bordered with black. 



DISGRACE. 49 

and opened it deliberately. It shed a delicate odor 
of violets. 

Harry waited anxiously for her to speak. 

" This mourning which I wear," she began gently, 
"I put on when I received the news of your down- 
fall." 

" My do^Tifall ? " broke in Harry hotly. " Great 
heavens, you don't say that you, too, have been car- 
ried away by this wretched village slander ? " 

"I put it on," she continued, unmindful of the 
interruption, ''because I suffered a loss which was 
greater than any merely physical death could have 
occasioned." 

"I don't understand you." 

" My faith in you as a man superior to your fel- 
lows died then. This was a much more cruel blow 
than your bodily death would have been." 

"Fore gad, you take a pleasant view of my de- 
cease — a much cooler one, I must confess, than I 
am able to take of that interesting event in my his- 
tory." 

Her great eyes blazed, and she seemed about to 
reply hotly, but she restrained herself and went on 
with measured calnmess: 

" The reason I selected you from among all other 
men, and loved you, and joyfully accepted as my lot 
in life to be your devoted wife and helpmate, was 
that I believed you superior in all manly things to 
other men. Without such a belief I could love no 
man." 

She paused for an instant, and Harry managed to 
stammer: 

D 3 



60 THE RED ACORN. 

"But what have I done to deserve being thrown 
over in this unexpected way ? " 

"You have not done anything. That is the 
trouble. You have failed to do that which was right- 
fully expected of you. You have allowed others, 
who had no better opportunities, to surpass you in 
doing your manly duty. Whatever else my husband 
may not be he must not fail in this." 

" Rachel, you are hard and cruel." 

"No, I am only kind to you and to myself I 
know myself too well to make a mistake in this re- 
spect. I have seen too many women who have been 
compelled to defend, apologize or blush for their hus- 
band's acts, and have felt too keenly the abject mis- 
ery of their lives to take the least chance of adding 
myself to their sorrowful number. If I were married 
to you I could endure to be beaten by you and per- 
haps love you still, but the moment I was compelled 
to confess your inferiority to some other woman's 
husband I should hate you, and in the end drag both 
of us down to miserable graves." 

" But let me explain this." 

"It would be a waste of time," she answered coldly. 
" It is sufBcient for me to know that 3^ou are con- 
victed by general opinion of having failed where a 
number of commonplace fellows succeeded. You, 
yourself, admit the justice of this verdict b}'' tame 
submission to it, making no effort to retrieve your 
reputation. I can not understand how this could be 
so if you had any of the qualities that I fondly imag- 
ined you possessed in a high degree. But this inter 



DISGRACE. 61 

view is being protracted to a painful extent. Let us 
say good night and part. " 

"Forever?" he stammered. 

"Yes." 

She held out her hand for farewell. Harry caught 
it and would have carried it to his lips, but she drew 
it away. 

"No; all that must be ended now," she said, with 
the first touch of gentleness that had shaded her sad, 
serious eyes. 

" Will you give me no hope? " said Harry, plead- 
ingly- 

' ' When you can make people forget the past — if 
ever — " she said, "then I will change this dress and 
you can come back to me." 

She bowed and entered the house. 



58 THE EED ACOEN. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE LINT-SCRAPING AND BANDAGE- MAKING UNION. 

At length I have acted my severest part: 
I feel the woman breaking in upon me, 
And melt about my heart: My tears ^7I11 flow. 

— Addison. 

EACHEL BOND'S will had carried her triumph- 
antly through a terrible ordeal — how terrible no 
one could guess, unless he followed her to her room 
after the interview and saw her alone with her agony. 
She did not weep. Tears did not lie near the surface 
with her. The lachrymal glands had none of that 
ready sensitiveness which gives many superficial wo- 
men the credit of deep feeling. But when she did 
weep it was not an April shower, but a midsummer 
tempest. 

Now it was as if her intense grief were a powerful 
cautery which seared and sealed every duct of the 
fountain of tears and left her eyes hot and dry as her 
lieart was ashes. 

With pallid face and lips set until the blood was 
forced from them, and they made a thin purplish line 
in the pale flesh, she walked the floor back and forth, 
ever back and forth, until a half-stumble, as she was 
turning in the drear}'' round, revealed to her that she 
was almost dropping from exhaustion. 

She had thought her love for Harry had received 
its death blow when her pride in him had been so 



LINT-SCRAPING AND BANDAGE-MAKING UNIQN. 53 

rudely shattered. But this meeting, in which she 
played the part set for herself with a brave perfec- 
tion that she had hardly deemed possible, had resur- 
rected every dear memory, and her passion sprung 
into life again to mock and jeer at her eflbrts to throt- 
tle it out of existence. With him toppling from the 
pedestal on which her husband must stand, she had 
told herself that there was naught left but to roll a 
great stone against the sepulcher in which her love 
must henceforth lie buried, hopeless of the coming 
of any bright angel to unseal the gloomy vault. Yet, 
despite the entire approval given this by her judg- 
ment, her woman's heart cried bitterly for a return 
of the joys out of which the beauty had fled for- 
ever. 

Hours passed in this wrestle with pain. How 
many she did not know, but when she came forth it 
was Avith the composure of one who had fought the 
fight and won the victory, but at a cost that forbade 
exultation. 



There was one ordeal that thus far she had not 
been called upon to endure. From the day on which 
she had donned her sable robes to that of Harry's 
return no one had ventured to speak his name in her 
presence. Even her father and mother, after the first 
burst of indignation, had kept silence in pity for her 
suflering, and there was that in her bearing that for- 
bade others touching upon a subject in her hearing 
that elsewhere was discussed with the hungry avidity 
of village gossips masticating a fresh scandal. 

But she could not be always spared thus. She 



54 THE RED ACORN. 

had not been so careful of the feelings of less favored 
women and girls, inferior to her in brightness, as to 
gain any claim for clement treatment now, when the 
displacement of a portion of her armor of superiority 
gave those who envied or disliked her an unprotected 
spot upon which to launch their irritating little darts. 

All the sewing, dorcas and mite societies of the 
several churches in Sardis had been merged into one 
consolidated Lint-Scraping and Bandage-Making Un- 
ion, in whose enlarged confines the waves of gossip 
flowed with as much more force and volume as other 
waves gain when the floods unite a number of small 
pools into one great lake. 

In other days a sensational ripple starting, say in 
the Episcopalian " Dorcas," was stilled into calmness 
ere it passed the calm and stately church boundaries. 
It would not do to let its existence be even suspected 
by the keen eyes of the freely-censorious Presbyte- 
rian dames, or the sharp-witted, agile-tongued Meth- 
odist ladies. 

And, much as these latter were disposed to talk 
over the weaknesses and foibles of their absent sisters 
in the confidential environments of the Mite Society 
or the Sewing Circle, the}'' were as reluctant to ex- 
pose these to the invidious criticisms of the women of 
the other churches as if the discussed ones had been 
their sisters in fact, and not simply through sectarian 
affiliation. Church pride, if nothing else, contributed 
to the bridling of their tongues, and checking the 
free circulation of gossip. 

"Them stuck-up Presbyterian and Episcopalian 
women think little enough on us now, the land 



LINT-SCRAPING AND BANDAGE-MAKING UNION. 55 

knows," Mrs. Debcu'ah Pancake explained to a newly- 
received sister, whom she was instructing in ele- 
mentary duties. " There's no use giving 'em more 
reason for looking down upon us. We may talk 
over each other's short-comings among ourselves, 
private like, because the Bible tells us to admonish 
and watch over each other. But it don't say that 
we're to give outsiders any chance to speak ill of our 
sisters-in-Christ. " 

And Mrs. Euphrosyne Pursifer remarked to the 
latest agreeable accession to the parish of St. Marks, 
with that graceful indirection that gave her the repu- 
tation in Sardis of being a feminine Talleyrand : 

"Undoubtedly the ladies in these outside denom- 
inations are very worthy women, dear, but a certain 
circumspection seems advisable in conversing with 
them on subjects that we may speak of rather freely 
among ourselves." 

The rising fervor of the war spirit melted away 
most of these barriers to a free interchange of gossip. 
With the first thrill of pleasure at finding that patri- 
otism had drawn together those whom the churches 
had long held aloof came to all the gushing impulse 
to cement the newly-formed relationship by confiding 
to each other secrets heretofore jealously guarded. 
Nor should be forgotten the "narrative stimulus" 
every one feels on gaining new listeners to old sto- 
ries. 

It was so graciously condescending in Mrs. Eu- 
phrosyne Pursifer to communicate to Mrs. Elizabeth 
Baker some few particulars in which her aristocratic 
associates of St. Marks had grieved her by not rising 



56 THE RED ACORN. 

to her standard of womanly dignity and Christian 
duty, that Mrs. Baker in turn was only too happ}' to 
reciprocate with a similar confidence in regard to her 
intimate friends of Wesley Chapel. 

It was this sudden lapsing of all restraint that 
made the waves of gossi)) surge like sweeping billows. 

And the flotsam that appeared most frequentl}' of 
late on their crests, and that was tossed most relent- 
lessly hither and thither, was Rachel Bond's and 
Harry Glen's conduct and relations to each other. 

"The Consolidated Lint-scraping and Bandage-mak- 
ing Union was holding a regular session, and gossip 
was at spring-tide. 

"It is certainly queer," said Mrs. Tufis, one of her 
regulation smiles illuminating her very artificial coun- 
tenance; "it is singular to the last degree that we 
don't have Miss Rachel Bond among us. She is such 
a lovely girl. I am very, very fond of her, and her 
heart is thoroughly in unison with our objects. It 
would seem impossible for her to keep awa\'." 

All this with the acrid sub-flavor of irony and insin- 
cerity with which an insincere woman can not help 
tainting even her most sincere words. 

"Yes," said Mrs. Tabitha Grimes, with a premed- 
itated acerbity apparent even in the threading of her 
needle, into the eye of which she thrust the thread as 
if piercing the flesh of an enemy with a barb ; "yes ;" 
she pulled the thread through v/ith a motion as if she 
enjoyed its rasping against the steel. " Rachel Bond 
started into this work quite as brash as Harry Glen 
started into the war. Her enthusiasm died out about 
as quickly as his courage, when it came to the actual 



LINT-SCRAPING AND BANDAGE-MAKING UNION. 57 

business, and she found there was nobody to admire 
her industry, or the way she got herself up, except 
a parcel of married women. " 

The milk of human kindness had begun to curdle 
in Mrs. Grimes's bosom, at an early and now rather 
remote age. Years of unavailing struggle to convince 
Mr. Jason Grimes that more of his valuable time 
should be devoted to providing for the wants of his 
family, and less to leading the discussion on the con- 
dition of the country in the free parliament that met 
around the stove in the corner grocery, had carried 
forward this lacteal fermentation until it had converted 
the milky fluid into a vinegarish whey. 

" Well, why not? " asked Elmira Spelter, the main 
grief of whose life was time's cruel inflexibility in 
scoring upon her tace unconcealable tallies of every one 
of his yearly flights over her head, "why should n't 
she enjoy these golden days? Youth is passing, to 
her and to all of us, like an arrow from the bow. 
It 'd be absurd for her to waste her time in this stuffy 
old place, when there are so many more attractive 
ones. It ought to be enough that those of us who 
have only a few remnants of beauty left, should 
devote them to this work." 

"Well," snapped Mrs. Grimes, "your donation of 
good looks to the cause — even if you give all you got 
— will be quite modest, something on the widow's 
mite order. You might easily obey the scriptural in- 
junction, and give them with your right hand without 
your left knowing what was being done." 

Elmira winced under this spiteful bludgeoning, 
but she rallied and came back at her antasonist. 



58 THE RED ACOKi^. 

" Well, my dear," she said quietly, " the thought 
often occurs to me, that one great reason why we 
both have been able to keep in the straight and nar- 
row path, is the entire lack of that l)eauty which so 
often proves a snare to the feet of even the best-inten- 
tioned women." 

It was Mrs. Grimes's turn to wiace. 

"A hit! a palpable hit!" laughed pretty Ann;, 
Bayne, who studied and quoted Shaksperc, 

"The mention of snares reminds me," said Mrs. 
Grimes, "that /, at least, did not have to spread any 
to catch a husljand." 

" No," returned Elmira, with irritating composure. 
" the poorer kinds of game are caught without tak- 
ing that trouble." 

"Well" — Mrs. Grimes's temper was rising so rap- 
idly that she was losing her usual skill in this verbal 
fence — "Jason Grimes, no doubt, has his faults, as all 
men have ; but he is certainly better than no husband 
at all." 

"That's the way for you to think," said Ehiiira. 
composedly, disregarding the thrust at her own celi- 
bac}^ "It's very nice in you to take so cheerful a view 
of it. Somebody had to marry him, doubtless, and 
it's real gratifying to sec one accepting the visitations 
of Providence in so commendable a spirit." 

To use the language of diplomacy, the relations 
between these ladies had now become so strained that 
a rupture seemed unavoidable. 

"Heavens, will this quarrel ne'er be mended?" 
quoted Anna Bayne, not all sorry that these veteran 



LINT-SCKAPING AND BANDAGE-MAKING UNION. 5i^ 

word-swordsmea, dreaded by everybody, were for 
once turning their weapons on each other. 

Peace-making was one of the prerogatives assumed 
by Mrs. Tufis, as belonging to the social leadership 
to which she had elected herself. She now hastened 
to check the rapidly-opening breach. 

'^Ladies," she said blandly, ''the discussion has 
wandered. Our first remarks were, I believe about 
Miss Bond, and there was a surmise as to her reasons 
for discontinuing attendance upon our meetings." 

The diversion had the anticipated efiect. The two 
disputants gladly quit each other, to turn upon and 
rend the ol^ject flung in between them. 

"Why Rachel Bond don't come here any more? " 
said Mrs. Grimes, with a sniflf that was one of the 
keenest-edged weapons in her controversial armory. 
" When you know Rachel Bond as well as I do, you'll 
know how little likely she is to do anything that's not 
going to Idc for her benefit in some way. She's mighty 
particular in everything, but more particular in that 
than in anything else." 

" I'll admit that there is reason to suspect a strain 
of selfishness in Rachel's nature," said Anna Bayne ; 
"but it's the only blemish among her many good 
qualities. Still, I think you do her an injustice in 
attributing her absence from our meetings to purely 
selfish motives." 

"Of course, we all know what you mean," said 
Elmira. "She set her cap for Harry Glen, and 
played her cards so openly and boldly — " 

"I should say 'shamelessly,'" interrupted Mrs. 
Grimes. 



60 THE RED ACORN. 

" Shamelessly, my dear? " This from Mrs. Tufis, 
as if in mild expostulation. 

" Shamelessly," repeated Mrs. Grimes, firmly. 

'"Well, so shamelessly, if you choose," continued 
Elmira, "as to incur the ill-will of all the rest of the 
girls — " 

"Whom she beat at a game in which they all 
played their best," interrupted Anna. 

"That's an miworthy insinuation," said Elmira, 
getting very red. "At least, no one can say I played 
any cards for that stake." 

"AVasn't it because all your trumps and suit had 
been played out in previous games '( " This from Mrs. 
Grimes, whose smarting wounds still called for ven- 
geance. 

For an instant a resumption of hostilities was 
threatened. Mrs. Tufis' hastened to interpose: 

" There's no doubt in my mintl that the poor, dear 
girl really took very deeply to heart the stories that 
have been circulated about Harr}' Glen's conduct, 
though there are people ready to say that she was 
quite willing to play the r6le of the stricken one. It 
really makes her look very interesting. Mourning, 
and the plain style of wearing her hair suit her very, 
ve?'i/ well. I do not think I ever saw her looking so 
lovely as she has lately, and I have heard quite a 
number of gentlemen say the same thing. 

"If she'd had real spirit," said Mrs. Grimes, 
"she'd have dropped Harry Glen without all this 
heroine-of-a-yellow-covered-novel demonstration, and 
showed her contempt of the fellow by going ahead 
just as usual, pretending that his conduct was nothing 



UNT-SCRAPING AND BANDAGE-MAKING UNION. 61 

to her ; but she's a deep one. I'll venture anything 
she's got a well-laid scheme, that none of us dream of." 

" Mrs. Tufis," — it was the calm, even tones of 
Rachel Bond's voice that fell upon the startled ears 
of the little coterie of gossipers. She had glided in 
unobserved by them in the earnestness of their debate. 
How long has she been here and what has she heard ? 
was the thrilling question that each addressed to her- 
self. When they summoned courage to look up at 
her, they saw her standing with perfectly composed 
mien, her pale face bearing the pensive expression it 
had worn for weeks. With subdued and kindly man- 
ner she returned the affectionate greetings that each 
bestowed on her, in imitation of Mrs. Tufis, who was 
the first to recover her wits, and then continued : 

" Mrs. Tufis, I come to you, as president of this 
society, to apologize for my absence from so many 
of your meetings, and to excuse myself on the ground 
of indisposition." (Mrs. Grimes darted a significant 
look at Elmira.) "I also want to announce that, as 
I have determined to join the corps of nurses for the 
field hospitals, which Miss Dix, of New York, is organ- 
izing, and as 1 will start for the front soon, I shall 
have to ask you to excuse me from any farther attend- 
ance upon your meetings, and drop my name from 
your roll." 

She replied pleasantly to a flood of questions and 
expostulations, which the crowd that gathered around 
poured upon her, and turning, walked quietly away 
to her home. 



THE RED ACOEN. 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE AWAKENING. 

The nobler nature within him stirred 
To life, at that woman's deed and word. 

— Whittiek. 

DEEPER emotions than he had felt before in all 
his life of shallow aiinlessness stirred Harry 
Glen's bosom as he turned away from the door which 
Rachel Bond closed ))ehind her with a decisive prompt- 
ness that chorded well with her resolute composure 
during the interview. 

This blow fell much more heavily than any that 
had preceded it, because it descended from the tower- 
ing height to which he had raised his expectations of 
an ardent greeting from a loving girl, eagerly watch- 
ing for his return. 

As was to be expected from one of his nature, he 
forgot entirely his ruminations upon the advisability 
of discarding her, and the difficulty he experienced 
in devising a plan whereby this could be done easily 
and gracefully. He onh^ thought of himself as the 
blameless victim of a woman's fickleness. The bitter 
things he had read and heard of the sex's inconstancy 
rose in his mind, as acrid bile sometimes ascends in 
one's throat. 

"Here," he said to himself, "is an instance of 
feminine perfidy equal to an3'thing that Byron ever 
sneered at. This girl, who was so proud to receive 



THE AWAKENING. 63 

my attentions a little while ago, and who so gladly 
accepted me for her promised husband, now turns 
away at the slightest cloud of disapproval falling upon 
me. And to think, too, how I have given her all 
my heart, and lavished upon her a love as deep and 
true as ever a man gave a woman." 

He was sure that he had been so badly used as to 
have sufficient grounds for turning misanthrope and 
woman-hater. Thin natures are like light wines and 
weak sirups in the readiness with which they sour. 

The moon had risen as it did on that eventful 
betrothal-night. Again the stars had sunk from sight 
in the sea of silver splendor rolling from the round, 
full orb. Again the roadway down the hill lay like 
a web of fine linen, bleaching upon an emerald mead- 
ow. Again the clear waters of the Miami rippled in 
softly merry music over the white limestone of their 
shallow bed. Again the river, winding through the 
pleasant valley, framed in gently rising hill-sides, 
appeared as a great silver ribbon, decorating a mass 
of heavily-embroidered green velvet. Again Sardis 
lay at the foot of the hills, its coarse and common- 
place outlines softened into glorious symmetry by the 
moonlight's wondrous witchery. 

He stopped for a moment and glanced at the 
old apple-tree, under which they had stood when 

" Their spirits rushed together at the meetiug of their lips." 

But its raiment of odorous blossoms was gone. In- 
stead, it bore a load of shapeless, sour, unripened 
fruit. Instead of the freshly springing grass at its 
foot was now a coarse stubble. Instead of the deli- 



64 THE RED ACORN 

cately sweet breath of violets and fruit blooms scent- 
ing the evening air came the heavy, persistent per- 
fume of tuberoses, and the mawldsh scent of gaudy 
poppies. 

"Bah, it smells like a funeral," he said, and he 
turned away and walked slowly down the hill. ' ' And 
it is one. My heart and all my hopes lie buried at 
the foot of that old apple-tree. " 

It had been suggested that much of the sympathy 
we lavish upon martyrs is wanton waste, because to 
many minds, if not in fact to all, there is a positive 
pleasure in considering oneself a martyr. More abso- 
lute truth is contained in this than appears at the first 
blush. There are very few who do not roll under 
their tongues as a sweet morsel the belief that their 
superior goodness or generosity has brought them 
trouble and affliction from envious and wicked infe- 
riors. 

So the honey that mingled with the gall and hys- 
sop of Harry Glen's humiliation was the martyr feel- 
ing that his holiest affections had been ruthlessly 
trampled upon by a cold-hearted woman. His desul- 
tory readings of Byron furnished his imagination 
with all the woful suits and trappings necessary to 
trick himself out as a melancholy hero. 

On his way home he had to pass the principal 
hotel in the place, the front of which on Summer 
evenings was the Sardis forum for the discussion of 
national politics and local gossip. As he approached 
quietly along the grassy walk he overheard his own 
name used. He stepped back into the shadow of a 
large maple and listened : 



THE AWAKENING. 66 

"Yes, I seen him as he got off the train," said 
Nels Hathaway, big, fat, lazy, and the most invet- 
erate male gossip in the village. "And he is looking 
mighty well — yes, mighty well. I said to Tim Bot- 
kins, here, ' what a wonderful constitution Harry 
Glen has, to be sure, to stand the hardships of the 
field so well.'" 

The sarcasm was so evident that Harry's blood 
seethed. The Tim Botkins alluded to had been 
dubbed by Basil Wurmset, the cynic and wit of the 
village, "apt appreciation's artful aid." Red-haired, 
soft eyed, moon-fticed, round of belly and lymphatic 
of temperament, his principal occupation in life was 
to play a fiddle in the Sardis string-band, and in the 
intervals of professional engagements at dances and 
picnics, to fill one of the large splint-bottomed chairs 
in front of the hotel with his pulpy form, and receive 
the smart or bitter sayings of the loungers there with 
a laugh that began before any one else's, and lasted 
after the others had gotten through. His laugh alone 
was as good as that of all the rest of the crowd. It 
was not a hearty, resonant laugh, like that from the 
mouth of a strong-lunged, wholesome-natured man, 
which has the mellow roundness of a solo on a French 
horn. It was a slovenly, greasy, convictionless 
laugh, with uncertain tones and ill-defined edges. Its 
effect was due to its volume, readiness, and long con- 
tinuance. Swelling up of the puffy form, and redden- 
ing ripples of the broad face heralded it, it began 
with a contagious cackle, it deepened into a flabby 
guffaw, and after all the others roundabout had fin- 
ished their cachinnatory tribute it wound up with 
E 3* 



66 THE RED ACORN. 

what was between a roar and the lazy drone of a bag- 
pipe. 

It now rewarded Nels Hathaway's irony, and the 
rest of the loungers joined in. Encouraged, Nels 
continued, as its last echoes died away : 

"Yes, he's just as spry and peart as anybody. 
He seems to have recovered entirely from all his 
wounds ; none of 'em have disfiggered him any, and 
his nerves have got over their terrible strain. " 

Tim ran promptly through all the notes in his 
diapason, and the rest joined in on the middle register. 

"Well, Fm not at all surprised," said Mr. 
Oldunker, a bitter States' Rights Democrat, and the 
oracle of his party. "I told you how it'd be from 
the first. Harry Glen was one of them Wide-A wakes 
that marched around on pleasant evenings last Fall 
with oil-cloth capes and kerosene lamps. I told you 
that those fellows'd be no where when the war they 
were trying to bring on came. I'm not at all aston- 
ished that he showed himself lil3''-livered when he 
found the people that he was willing to rob of their 
property standing ready to fight for their homes and 
their slaves." 

"Ready to shoot into a crowd of unsuspecting 
men, you mean,'' sneered Basil Wurmset, "and then 
break their own cursed necks when they saw a little 
cold steel coming their way." 

Tim came in promply with his risible symphony. 

"AVelK they didn't run away from any cold steel 
that Harry Glen displayed,'' sneered Oldunker. 

Tim's laugh was alh^irro and crescendo at the first, 
and staccato at the close. 



THE AWAKENING. 67 

"You seem to forget that Capt. Bob Bennett was 
a Wide- Awake, too," retorted Wurmset, "though 
you might have remembered it from his having threat 
ened to lick you for encouraging the boys to stone the 
lamps in the procession." 

Tim cackled, gurgled and roared. 

Nels Hathaway had kept silent as long as he 
could. He must put his oar into the conversational 
tide. 

"I'd give six bits," he^ said, "to know how the 
meeting between him and Rachel Bond passes off. 
He's gone up to the house. The hoys seen him, all 
dressed up in his best. But his finery and his per- 
fumed handkerchiefs won't count anything with her, 
I can tell you. She comes of lighting stock, if ever a 
woman did. The Bonds and Harringtons — her 
mother's people — are game breeds, both of 'em. and 
stand right on their record, every time. Shell have 
precious little traffic with a white-feathered fellow. 
I think she's been preparing for him the coldest 
shoulder any young feller in Sardis's got for many a 
long day. " 

There vvas nothing very funny in this speech, but 
a good deal of risible matter had accumulated in 
Tim's diaphragm during its delivery which he had to 
get rid of, and he did. 

Harry had heard enough. While Tim's laugh yet 
resounded he walked away unnoticed, and taking a 
roundabout course gained his room. There he re- 
mained a week, hardly coming down to his meals. 
It was a terrible week to him, for every waking hour 
of it he walked through the valley of humilia- 



68 THE RED AGORN. 

tion, and drank the bitter waters of shame. The 
joints of his hitherto impenetrable armor of self- 
conceit had been so pierced by the fine rapier thrusts 
of Rachel's scorn that it fell from him under the 
coarse pounding of the village loungers and left him 
naked and defenseless to their blows. Every nerve 
and sense ached with acute pain. He now felt all of 
his father's humiliation, all his mother's querulous 
sorrow, all his betrothed's anguish and abasement. 

Thoughts of suicide, and of ^ying to some part of 
the country where he was entirely unknown, crowded 
upon him incessantly. But with that perversity that 
nature seemingly delights in, there had arisen in his 
heart since he had lost her, such a love for Rachel 
Bond as made life without her, or without her esteem 
even, seem valueless. To go into a strange part of 
the country and begin life anew would be to give her 
up forever, and this he could not do. It would be 
much preferable to die demonstrating that he was in 
some degree worthy of her. And a latent manly 
pride awakened and came to his assistance. He 
could not be the son of his proud, iron-willed fiither 
without some transmission of that sire's courageous 
qualities. He formed his resolution : He would stay 
in Sardis, and recover his honor where he had 
lost it. 

At the end of the week he heard the drums beat, 
the cannon fire, and the people cheer. The company 
had come home, and was marching proudly down the 
street to a welcome as enthusiastic as if its members 
were bronzed veterans returning victoriously from a 
campaign that had lasted for years. 



THE AWAKENING. 69 

His mother told hiui the next day that the com- 
pany had decided to re-enlist for three years or 
during the war, and that a meeting would be held 
that evening to carry the intention into execution. 
When the evening came Harry walked into the town 
hall, dressed as carefully as he had prepared himself 
for his visit to Rachel. He found the whole company 
assembled there, the members smoking, chatting with 
their friends, and recounting to admiring hearers the 
wonderful experiences they had gone through. The 
enlistment papers were being prepared, and some of 
the boys who had not been examined during the day 
were undergoing the surgeon's inspection in an ad- 
joining room. 

Harry was coldly received by everybody, and 
winced a little under this contrast with the attentions 
that all the others were given. 

At last all the papers and rolls seemed to be 
signed, and there was a lull in the proceedings. 
Harry rose from his seat, as if to address the meet- 
ing. Instantly all was silence and attention. 

" Comrades," he said, in a firm, even voice, "I 
have come to say to you that 1 feel that I made a 
mistake during our term of service, and I want to 
apologize to you for my conduct then. More than 
tliis, I want to redeem myself. I want to go with 
you again, and have another chance to " 

He was interrupted by an enthusiastic shout from 
them all. 

" Hurrah ! Bully for Lieutenant Glen ! Of 
course we'll give you another show. Come right 
along in your old place, and welcome." 



70 THE RED ACORN. 

There was but one dissenting voice. It was that 
of Jake Alspaugh : 

" No, I'll be durned if we want ye along anymore. 
We've no place for sich fellers with us. We only 
want them as has sand in their craws." 

But the protest Avas overslaughed by the multi- 
tude of assents. At the tirst interA-.d of silence 
Harry said : 

"No, comrades, Til not accept a commission again 
until Tm sure I can do it credit. I'll enlist in the 
company on the same footing as the rest of the boys, 
and share everything with you. Give the lieuten- 
ancy to our gallant comrade Alspaugh, who has 
richly earned it." 

The suggestion was accepted with more enthu- 
siastic cheering, and IJarry, going up to the desk, 
tilled out an enlistment blank, signed it and the com- 
pany roll, and retired with the surgeon for the phys- 
ical examination. This finished, he slipped out un- 
noticed and went to his home. On his way thither 
he saw Rachel as she passed a brilliantly lighted 
show-window. She was in traveling costume, and 
seemed to be going to the depot. She turned her 
head slightly and bowed a formal recognition. 

As their eyes met he saw enough to make him be- 
lieve that what he had done met her approval. 



POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE OF GLORIOUS WAR. 71 



CHAPTER Vn. 

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE OF GLORIOUS WAR. 

But man, proud man, 
Dressed In a little brief authority. 
Most Ignorant of what he's most assured. 

Plays such fantastic tricks before high Heaven 
As make the angels weep, who, with our spleens. 
Would all themselves laugh mortal. 

—Measure for Measure. 

" A BE, you remember how that man who made 
-^^^ the speech when our colors were presented 
to us talked of ' the swelling hearts of our volunteers,' 
don't you?" said Kent Edwards, as he and Abe 
Bolton lounged near the parade-ground one fine after- 
noon, shortly after the arrival of the regiment in 
camp of instruction. " You remember that that was 
his favorite figure of rhetoric, and he repeated it sev- 
eral times ? " 

''Don't know anything about figger of retterick," 
growled Abe, who, his comrades said, had the evenest 
temper in the regiment, ''for he was always mad. " 
"But I do remember that he said that over several 
times, with a lot o' other things without much pint to 
'em, until I thought I'd drop, I was so thirsty and 
tired." 

"Yes? Well, now if you want to get a good 
idea of what that expression meant, look over there. 
Not only his heart swells, but he swells all over." 

" I should think he did," replied Abe, after a mo- 



72 THE RED ACORX. 

ment's inspection. " Unless his hut hiir? an Injy-rub- 
ber band, he'll have to git it cut offen his head, which 
ought to be hooped, for it can't swell no more with- 
out busting." 

It was Jacob Alspaugh crossing the parade ground 
in more than Solomonic splendor of uniform. His 
inflated form bore upon it all the blue and tinsel pre- 
scribed by the Army Regulations for the raiment and 
insignia of a First Lieutenant of Infantry, with such 
additions as had been suggested by his exuberant 
fancy. His blue l^roadcloth was the tinest and shiniest. 
Buttons and bugles seemed masses of barbaric gold. 
From broad-l)rimmed hat floated the longest ostrich 
feather procural)le in the shops. Shining leather 
boots, field-marshal patteni, came above his knees. 
Yellow gauntlets covered his massive hands and reached 
nearly to his elbows, and on his broad shoulders were 
great glittering epaulets— then seldom worn by any- 
one, and still more rarely by volunteer officers. He 
evidently disdained to hide the crimson glories of his 
sash in the customary modest way, by folding it 
under his belt, but had made of it a broad bandage 
for his abdominal regions, which gave him the appear- 
ance of some gigantic crimson-breasted blue-bird. 
Behind him trailed, clanking on the ground as he 
walked, not the modest little sword of his rank, but a 
long cavalry saber, with glittering steel scabbard. 
But the sheen of gold and steel was dimmed be- 
side the glow of intense satisfoction with his make-up 
that shone in his face. There might be alloy in his 
gleaming buttons and bullion epaulets ; there was 
none in his happiness. 



POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE OF GLOKIOU.S WAR. 73 

•'I feel sorry for the poor lilies of the field thiit 
he comes near," sighed Kent, S3^mputhetically. "He 
is like them now, in neither toiling nor spinning, and 
yet how ashamed he nnist make them of their inferior 
raiment." 

"Faugh ! it makes me sick to see a dunghill like 
that strutting around in feathers that belong to game 
birds." 

"O, no; no game bird ever wore such plumage 
as that. You must be thinking of a peacock, or a 
bird-of-paradise. " 

"Well, then, blast it, I hate to see a peacock 
hatched all at once out of a slinking, roupy, barnyard 
rooster. " 

"O, no ; since circuses are out of the question 
now, we ought to be glad of so good a substitute. It 
only needs a brass band, with some colored posters, 
to be a genuine grand entry, with street parade." 

Alspaugh's triumphal march had now brought him 
within a few feet of them, but they continued to 
lounge indifferently on the musket box upon which 
they had been sitting, giving a mere nod as recogni- 
tion of his presence, and showing no intention of ris- 
ing to salute. 

The glow of satisfaction faded from Alspaugh's 
horizon, and a cloud overcast it. 

"Here, you fellers," he said angrily, " why don't ye 
git up an' saloot ? Don't ye know your business yit ? " 

"What business, Jake?" asked Kent Edwards, 
absently, paying most attention to a toad which had 
hopped out from the cover of a burdock leaf, in search 
of insects for his supper. 
4 



74 THE RED ACORN. 

Al?>p;morh's face grew blacker. ''The business of 
paying pi'oper respect to your officers/' 

"It hasn't occurred to me that I am neglecting 
anything in that line," said Kent, languidly, shifting 
over to recline upon his left elbow, and with his right 
hand gathering up a little gravel to flip at the toad ; 
"but maybe you are better acquainted with our l)usi- 
ness than we are." 

Abe contributed to the dialogue a scornful laugh, 
indicative of a most heartless disbelief in his superior 
officer's superior intellectuality. 

The dark cloud burst in storm: "Don't you 
know," said Alspaugh, angry in every fiber, " that 
the reggerlations say that 'when an enlisted man sees 
an officei- ai)pr()ach, he will rise and saloot, and 
remain standin' and gazin' in a respectful manner 
until the officer passes tive paces beyond him? ' Say, 
don't you know that t " 

Kent Edw\ards flipped a bit of gravel with sucii 
good aim that it struck the toad fairly on the head, 
who l)linked his bright eyes in surprise, and hopped 
back to his covert. "I am really glad," said he, " to 
know that you have learned HoniPthing of the regula- 
tions. Now, don't say another word about it until I 
run down to the company quarters and catch a fellow 
for a bet, who wants to put up money that you can 
never learn a single sentence of them. Don't say 
another word, and you can stand in with me on the 
bet." 

"Had your head measured since you got this 
idea into it ? " asked Abe Bolton, with well-assumed 
interest. 



POSIP AND CIRCUMSTANCE OF GLORIOUS WAR. ^5 

'' If he did, he had to use a surveyor's chain," 
suggested Kent, flipping another small pebble in the 
direction of the toad's retreat. 

Alspaugh hud grown so great upon the liberal feed 
of the meat of flattery, that he could hardly make 
himself believe he had heard aright, and that these 
men did not care a tig for himself oi' his authority. 
Then recovering confidence in the fidelity of his ears, 
it seemed to him that such conduct was aggravated 
mutiu\', which military discipline demanded should 
receive condign punishment on the spot. Had he any 
confidence in his ability to use the doughty weapon at 
his side, he would not have resisted the strong temp- 
tation to draw his sword and make an example then 
and there of the contemners of his power and magnifi- 
cence. But the culprits had shown such an aptitude 
in the use of arms as to inspire his wholesome respect, 
and he was very far from sure that they might not 
make a display of his broadsword an occasion for 
heaping fresh ridicule upon him. An opportune 
remembrance came to his aid : 

''If it wasn't for the strict orders we oflficers got 
yesterday not to allow ourselves to be provoked under 
any circumstances into striking our men, I'd learn 
you fellers mighty quick not to insult your superior 
oflScers. I'd bring you to time, I can tell you. But 
I'll settle with you yit. I'll have you in the guard 
house on bread and water in short meter, and then I'll 
learn you to be respectful and obedient." 

" He means ' teach,' instead of ' learn,' " said Kent, 
apologetically, to Abe. "It's just awful to have a 
man, wearing shoulder-straps, abuse English gram- 



76 THE RED ACORN. 

mar in that way. What's grammar done to hini to 
deserve such treatment ? He hasn't even a speaking 
acquaintance with it." 

"I 'spose it's because gi'ammar can't hit back. 
That's the kind he always picks on," answered Abe. 

"You'll pay for this," shouted Alspaugh, striding 
off after the Sergeant of the Guard. 

At that moment a little drummer appeared by the 
flagstaflf, and beat a livel}^ rataplan. 

"That's for dress-parade," said Kent Edwards, 
rising. "We'd better skip right over to quarters and 
fall in." 

"Wish their dress-parades were in the brimstone 
flames,'' growled Abe Bolton, as he rose to accom- 
pany his comrade. " All they're for is to stand up as 
a background, to show oflf a lot of spruce young offi- 
cers dressed in ftmcy rigs " 

" Well," said Kent, lightly, as the}^ walked along, 
"I kind of like that ; don't you ? We make pictur- 
esque backgrounds, don't we ? you and I, especially ; 
you, the soft, tender, lithe and willowy ; and I, the 
frowning, rugged and adamantine, so to speak. I 
think the background business is our best hold." 

He laughed heartily at his own sarcasm, but Abe 
was not to be moved by such frivolity, and answered 
glumly : 

"O, yes; laugh about it, if you choose. That's 
your wa}' : giggle over everything. But when I play 
l)ackground, I want it to be with something worth 
while in the foreground. I don't hanker after making 
myself a foil to show off such fellers as our officers 
are, to good advantajje." 



POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE OF GLORIOUS WAR. 77 

"That don't bother me any more than it does a 
mountain to serve as a backgromid for a nanny goat 
and a pair of sore-eyed mules ! " 

" Yes, but the mountain sometimes has an oppor- 
tunity to drop an avalanche on 'em. " 

At this point of the discussion they arrived at the 
company grounds, and had scarcely time to snatch 
up their guns and don their belts before the company 
moved out to take its place in the regimental line. 

The occasion of Lieutenant Alspaugh's elaborate 
personal ornamentation now manifested itself By 
reason of Captain Bennett's absence, he was in com- 
mand of the company, and was about to make his first 
appearance on parade in that capacity. Two or three 
young women, of the hollyhock order of beauty, 
whom he was very anxious to impress, had been 
brought to camp, to witness his apotheosis into a com- 
manding officer. 

The moment, however, that he placed himself at 
the head of the company and drew sword, the chill 
breath of distrust sent the mercury of his self-con- 
fidence down to zero. It looked so easy to command 
a company when some one else was doing it ; it was 
hard when he tried it himself All the imps of confu- 
sion held high revel in his mind when he attempted 
to give the orders which he had conned until he sup- 
posed he had them "dead-letter perfect." He felt 
his usually-unfailing assurance shrivel up under the 
gaze of hundreds of mercilessly critical eyes. He 
managed to stammer out : 

" Attention^ company ! forward^ file right, 
MARCH ! " 



78 THE RED ACORN. 

But as the company began to execute the order, it 
seemed to be going just the opposite to what he had 
commanded, and he called out excitedly : 

" Not that way ! Not that way ! I said 'file right,' 
and you're going left." 

"We are filing right," answered some in the com- 
pany. ''You're turned around; that's what's the 
matter with you.'' 

So it was. He had forgotten that when standing 
facing the men, he must give them orders in reverse 
from what the movement appeared to him. This in- 
creased his confusion, until all his drill knowledge 
seemed gone from him. The sight of his young lady 
friends, clad in masses of primary colors, stimulated 
him to a strong efibrt to recover his audacity, and 
bracing himself up, he began calling out the guide 
and step, with a nois}' confidence that made him heard 
all over the parade ground : 

"Left! left! left! Hep! hep! hep! Cast them 
head and eyes to the right ! " 

Trouble loomed up mountainously as he approached 
the line. Putting a company into its place on parade 
is one of the crucial tests of tactical proficienc3\ To 
march a company to exactly the right spot, with every 
man keeping his proper distance from his file-leader — 
" twentj^-eight inches from back to breast, "clear down 
the column, so that when the order "front" is given, 
every one turns, as if on a pivot, and touches elbows 
with those on each side of him, in a straight, firm 
wall of men, without an}' shambling "closing up," or 
"side-stepping" to the right or left, — to do all this at 
word of command, looks very simple and easy to the 



POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE OF GLORIOUS WAR. 79 

iioii-niilitaiy spectator, as many other very difficult 
things look simple and easy to the inexperienced. 
But really it is only possible to a thoroughly drilled 
company, held well in hand by a competent com- 
mander. It is something that, if done well, is simply 
done well, but if not done well, is very bad. It is like 
an egg that is either good or utterly worthless. 

Alspaugh seemed fated to exhaust the category 
of possible mistakes. Coming on the ground late he 
found that a gap had been left in the line for his 
company which was only barely sufficient to receive 
it when it was aligned and compactly " dressed.'' 

In his nervousness he halted the company before 
it had reached the right of the gap by ten paces, and 
so left about one-quai'ter of the company lapping over 
on the one to his left. Even this was done with an 
unsightly jumble. His confusion as to the reversal 
of right and left still abode with him. He com- 
manded " right face,'' instead of " front," and was 
amazed to see the whole one hundred well-drilled 
men whirl their backs around to the regiment and 
the commanding officer. A laugh rippled down the 
ranks of the other companies ; even the spectators 
smiled, and something sounded like swearing by the 
Adjutant and Sergeant-Major. 

Alspaugh lifted his plumed hat, and wiped the 
beaded perspiration from his brow with the back of 
one of the yellow gauntlets. 

" Order an ' about face,' " whispered the Orderly- 
Sergeant, whose face was burning with shame at the 
awkward position in which the company found 
itself. 



80 THE RED ACORN. 

^^ About — FACE ! " gasped Alspaugh. 

The men turned on their heels. 

'• Side-step to the right," whispered the Orderly. 

'' Side-step to the right," repeated Alspaugh, me- 
chanically. 

The men took short side-steps, and following the 
orders which Alspaugh repeated from the whispered 
suggestions of the Orderly, the company came clum- 
sily forward into its place, " dressed," and "opened 
ranks to the rear." When at the command of '' pa- 
rade-rest," Alspaugh dropped his saber's point to the 
ground, he did it with the crushed feeling of a strut- 
ting cock which has been flung into the pond and 
emerges with dripping feathers. 

He raised his iioart in sincere thanksgiving that 
he was at last through, for there was nothing more 
for him to do during the parade, except to stand still, 
and at its conclusion the Orderly would have to march 
the company back to its quarters. 

But his woes had still another chapter. The In- 
spector-General had come to camp to inspect the reg- 
iment, and he was on the ground. 

Forty years of service in the regular army, with 
promotion averaging one grade every ten years, 
making him an old man and a grandfather before he 
was a Lieutenant-Colonel, had so surcharged Col. 
Murbank's nature with bitterness as to make even 
the very air in his vicinity seem roughly astringent. 
The wicked young Lieutenants who served with him 
on the Plains used to say that his bark was worse 
than his bite, because no reasonable bite could ever 
be so bad as his bark. They even suggested calling 



POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE OF GLORIOUS WAR. 81 

him " Peruvian Bark," because a visit to his quarters 
was worse than a strong dose of quinia. 

'' Yeth, thafth good," said the lisping wit of the 
crowd. ^'Evely bite ith a bit, ain't it? And the 
wortht mutht be a bitter, ath he ith." 

The Colonel believed that the whole duty of man 
consisted in loving the army regulations, and in keep- 
ing their commandments. The best part of all virtue 
was to observe them to the letter ; the most abhor- 
rent form of vice, to violate or disregard even their 
minor precepts. 

His feelings were continually lacerated by contact 
with volunteers, who cared next to nothing for the 
form of war-making, but everything for its spirit, 
and the martinet heart within him was bruised and 
sore when he came upon the ground to inspect the 
regiment. 

Alspaugh's blundering in bringing the company 
into line awakened this ire from a passivity to ac- 
tivity. 

"I'll have that dunderhead's shoulder-straps off 
inside of a fortnight," he muttered between his 
teeth. 

The unhappy Lieutenant's inability to even stand 
properly during the parade, or repeat an order in- 
tensified his rage. When the parade was dismissed 
the officers, as usual, sheathed their swords, and 
forming a line with the Adjutant in the center, 
marched forward to the commanding and inspecting 
officers, and saluted. Then the wrath of the old In- 
spector became vocable. 

"What in God's name," he roared, fixing his glance 

F 



82 THE RED ACORN. 

upon Alspaugh so unmistakably that even the latter's 
rainbow-clad girls, who had crowded up closely, 
could not make a mistake as to the victim of the ex- 
pletives. " What in God's name, sir," repeated the 
old fellow with purpling face, ''do you mean by 
bringing your company on to the ground in that ab- 
surd way, sir? Did you think, sir, that it was a hod 
of brick — with which I have no doubt you are most 
familiar — that you could dump down any place and 
any how, sir ? Such misconduct is simplj' disgrace- 
ful, sir, I'd have you know. Simply disgraceful, 
sir." 

He paused for breath, but Alspaugh had no word 
of defense to offer. 

"And what do you mean, sir," resumed the In- 
spector, after inflating his lungs for another gust, 
"what in the name of all the piebald circus clowns 
that ever jiggered around on sawdust, do 3'ou mean 
by coming on parade dressed like the ringmaster of 
a traveling monkey-show, sir? Haven't you any 
more idea of the honor of wearing a United States 
sword — the noblest weapon on earth, sir — than to 
make yourself look like the drum-major of a band of 
nigger minstrels, sir. Yes, sir, the drum-major of a 
band of nigger minsti*els, sir ! A United States 
officer ought to be ashamed to make a damned har- 
lequin of himself, sir. I'd have you to understand 
that most distinctly, sir." 

The Inspector's stock of breath, alas, was not so 
ample as in the far-off" days when his sturdy shoulders 
bore the modest single-bar, instead of the proud 
spread eagle of the present. Even hai it been, the 



POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE OF GLORIOUS WAR. 83 

explosive energy of his speech would have speedily 
exhausted it. Compelled to stop to pump in a fresh 
supply, the Colonel of the regiment took advantage 
of the pause to whisj^er in his ear : 

"Don't be too rough on him, please. He's a good 
man but green. Promoted from the ranks for cour- 
age in action. First appearance on parade. He'll 
do better if given a chance." 

The Inspector's anger was mollified. Addressing 
himself to all the officers, he continued in a milder 
tone : 

"Gentlemen, you seem to be making progress in 
acquiring a knowledge of your duties, though you 
have a world of things yet to learn. I shall say so in 
my report to the General. You can go to your quar- 
ters." 

The line of officers dissolved, and the spectators 
began to melt away. Alspaugh's assurance rose 
buoyantly the moment that the pressure was removed. 
He raised his eyes from the ground, and looked for 
the young ladies. They had turned their backs and 
were leaving the ground. He hastened after them, 
fabricating as he walked an explanation, based on 
personal jealousy, of the Inspector's treatment of 
him. He was within a step of overtaking them when 
he heard one say, with toss of flaunting ribbons, and 
hoidenish giggle : 

" Did you ever see any-\)0(\.y wilt as Alspaugh did 
when old Bite-Your-Head-Off-In-a-Minute was jawing 
him ? It was so awfully /«^w;iy that I just thought I 

should DEE." 

The sentence ended with the picturesque rapid 



84 THE RED ACORN. 

crescendo employed by maidens of her tyj^e in de- 
scribing a convulsive experience. 

''Just didn't he," joined in another. "I never 
saw flwy-thing so funny in all my horn days. I was 
afraid to look at either one of ymt ; I knew if I did I 
would hnrd right out laughing. I couldn't \v. heJj»>i/ 
it — I know I coiddny. if I'd 'a knowed I'd 'a die// 
the next rnimtte.'''' 

''Tliis would seem to be a pretty good time to 
drop the fellow," added the third girl, reflectively. 

Alspaugh turned and went in another direction. 
At the 9 o'clock roll-call he informed the company 
that the Inspector was well pleased with its appear- 
ance on parade. 



THE TEDrUM OF CAMP. 86 



CHAPTER Vm. 

THE TEDIUM OF CAMP. 

And you, (?<x)(l yeoman. 
Whose limbs wore niaUe in England, show us here 
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear 
That you are worth your breeding.— 5enry V. 

TO really enjoy life in a Camp of Instruction re- 
quires a peculiar cast of mind. It requires a 
genuine liking for a tread-mill round of merely me- 
chanical duties ; it requires a taste for rising in the 
chill and cheerless dawn, at the unwelcome summons 
of reveille, to a long day filled with a tiresome rou- 
tine of laborious drills, alternating with tedious roll- 
calls, and wearisome parades and inspections ; it 
requires pleased contentment with walks continually 
cut short by the camp-guard, and with amusements 
limited to rough horse-play on the parade-ground, 
and dull games of cards by sputtering candles in the 
tent. 

As these be tastes and preferences notably absent 
from the mind of the average young man, our vol- 
unteers usually regard their experience in Camp of 
Instruction as among the most unpleasant of their 
war memories. 

These were the trials that tested Harry Glen's 
resolution sorely. When he enlisted with the inten- 
tion of redeeming himself, he naturally expected that 
the opportunity he desired would be given by a 



8fi THE RED ACORN. 

prompt march to the field, and a speedy entrance 
into an engagement. He nerved himself strenuously 
for the dreadful ordeal of battle, but this became a 
continually receding point. The bitter defeat at Bull 
Run Avas bearing fruit in months of painstaking 
preparation before venturing upon another collis- 
ion. 

Day by day he saw the chance of retrieving his 
reputation apparently more remote. Meanwhile dis- 
couragements and annoyances grew continually more 
plentiful and irksome. lie painfully learned that the 
most disagreeable part of war is not the trial of bat- 
tle, but the daily sacrifices of personal liberty, tastes, 
feelings and conveniences involved in cann>life, and 
in the reduction of one's cherished individuality to 
the dead-level of a passive, obedient, will-less private 
soldier. 

" I do wish the regiment would get orders to 
move I " said almost hourly each one of a half-million 
impatient youths fretting in Camps of Instruction 
through the long Summer of ISGl. 

" I do wish the regiment would get orders to 
move I " said Harry Glen angi'ily one evening, on 
coming into the Surgeon's tent to have his blistered 
hands dressed. He had been on fatigue duty during 
the day, and the Fatigue-Squad had had an obstinate 
struggle with an old oak stump, which disfigured the 
parade-ground, and resisted removal like an Irish ten- 
ant. 

" 1 am willing — yes, I can say I am anxious, even 
— to go into battle," he continued, while Dr. Paul_ 
Denslow laid plasters of simple cerate on the abraded 



THE TEDIUM OF CAMP. 87 

palms, and then swathed them in bandages. "Any- 
thing is preferable to this chopping tough stumps 
with a dull ax, and drilling six hours a day while the 
thermometer hangs around the nineties." 

"I admit that there are things which would seem 
pleasanter to a young man of your temperament and 
previous habits," said the Surgeon, kindly. "Shift 
over into that arm-stool, wdiich 3'ou will find easier, 
and rest a little while. Julius, bring in that box of 
cigars." 

WTiile Julius, who resembled his illustrious name- 
sake as little in celerity of movement as he did in 
complexion, was coming, the Surgeon prepared a 
paper, which he presented to Harry, saying : 

"There, that'll keep you off duty to-morrow. 
After that, we'll see what can be done." 

Julius arrived with the cigars as tardily as if he 
had had to cross a Rubicon in the back room. Two 
were lighted, and the Surgeon settled himself for a 
chat. 

"Plave 3'ou become tired of soldier-life ?"' asked 
he, studying Harry's face for the effect of the question. 

"I can not say that I have become tired of it," 
said Harry, frankly, "because I must admit that I 
never had the slightest inclination to it. I had less 
fancy for becoming a soldier than for any other hon- 
orable pursuit that you could mention," 

"Then you only joined the army — " 

"From a sense of duty merely," said Harry, 
knocking the ashes from his cigar. 

' ' And the physical and other discomforts now be- 
gin to weigh nearly as much as that sense of duty ? " 



88 THE RED ACORN. 

" Not at all. It only seems to iiic that there are 
more of them than are absolutely essential to the per- 
formance of that duty. I want to be of service to the 
country, but I would prefer that that service be not 
made unnecessarily onerous." 

''Quite natural ; quite natural." 

"For example, how have tlu- fatigues and pains of 
ni}' afternoon's chojiping contributed a particle to- 
ward the suppression of the rebellion I What have 
my blistered hands to do with the hurts of actual con- 
flict ? " 

"Let us admit that the connection is somewhat 
obscure," said Doctor Denslow, philo.sophically. 

" It is easier for you, than for me, to view the 
matter calmly. Your h;mds are imhurt. / am the 
galled jade whose withers are wrung." 

"Body and spirit both brui-sed ? " said the Sur- 
geon, half reflectively. 

Harry colored. "Yes," he said, rather defiantly. 
"In addition to desiring to serve my country, I want 
to vindicate my manhood from some aspersions which 
have been cast upon it." 

"Quite a fair showing of motives. Better, per- 
haps, than usual, when a careful weighing of the 
rehitive proportions of self-esteem, self-interest and 
higher impulses is made." 

" I am free to say that the discouragements I have 
met with are very difl'erent. and perhaps much greater 
than I contemplated. Nor can I bring myself to be- 
lieve that they are necessary. I am trying to be 
entirely willing to peril life and limb on the field of 
battle, but instead of placing me where I can do this. 



THE TEDIUM OF CAMP. 89 

and allowing me to concentrate all my energies upon 
that object, I am kept for months chafing under the 
petty tyrannies of a bullying officer, and deprived of 
most of the comforts that I have heretofore regarded 
as necessary to my existence. What good can be ac- 
comphshed by diverting forces which should be 
devoted to the main struggle into this ignoble channel ? 
That's what puzzles and irritates me." 

" It seems to be one of the inseparable conditions 
of the higher forms of achievement that they require 
vastly more preparation for them than the labor of 
doing them.''' 

''That's no doubt very philosophical, but it's not 
satisfactory, for all that." 

" My dear boy, learn this grand truth now : That 
philosophy is never satisfactory ; it is only mitigatory. 
It consists mainly in saying with many fine words : 
'What can't be cured must be endured.' " 

''I presume that is so. I wish, though, that by 
the mere saying so, I could make the endurance 
easier." 

" I can make your lot in the service easier." 

" Indeed ! how so?" 

"By having you appointed my Hospital Steward. 
I have not secured one yet, and the man who is acting 
as such is so intemperate that I feel a fresh sense of 
escape with every day that passes without his mistak- 
ing the oxalic acid for Epsom salts, to the destruction 
of some earnest but constipated young patriot's whole 
digestive viscera. 

"If you accept this position," continued the Sur- 
geon, flinging away his refractory cigar in disgust, 
4* 



90 Tin: iu:d acokn. 

and rising to get a fresh one, "you will have the 
best rank and pay of any non-commissioned officer in 
the regiment ; better, indeed, than that of a Second 
Lieutenant. You will have your quarters here with 
me, and be compelled to associate with no one but 
me, thus reducing your disagreeable companions at a 
single stiY)ke, to one. And you will escape finally 
fiom all subserviency to Lieutenant Alspaugh, or in- 
deed to any other officer in the regiment, except your 
humble servant. As to food, you will mess with 
me." 

'"Those are certainly very strong inducements,'" 
said Harry, meditating upon the delightfulness of 
relief from the myriad of rasping little annoyances 
which rendered every day of camp-life an infliction 

"Yes, and still farther, ycm will never need to go 
under fire, or expose yourself to danger of any kind, 
unless you choose to.'' 

Harry's face crimsoned to the hue of the westeni 
sky where the sun was just going down. He started 
to answer hotly, but an understanding of the Sur- 
geon's evident kindness and sincerity interposed to 
deter him. He knew there was no shaft of sarcasm 
hidden below this plain speech, and after a moment's 
consideration he replied : 

" I am very grateful, I assure you, for your kind- 
ness in this matter. I am strongly tempted to accept 
your offer, but there are still stronger reasons why I 
should decline it." 

" ^lay I ask y(nn- reasons ? " 

" My reasons for not accepting the appointment ? " 
" Yes, the reasons which impel you to prefer a 



THE TEDIUM OF CAMP. 91 

dinner of bitter herbs, under Mr. Alspaugh's usually 
soiled thumb, to a stalled ox and my profitable soci- 
ety," said the Surgeon, gayly. 

Harry hesitated a moment, and then decided U 
speak frankly. "Yes," he said, "your kindness gives 
3^)u the right to know. To not tell you would show 
a lack of gratitude. I made a painful blunder before 
in not staying unflinchingly with my company. The 
more I think of it, the more I regret it, and the more I 
am decided not to repeat it, but al)ide with my com- 
rades and share their fate in all things. I feel that I 
no longer have a choice in the matter ; I must do it. 
But tiiere goes the drum for roll-call. I must go. 
Good evening, and very many thanks." 

"The young fellow's no callow milksop, after all," 
said Surgeon Denslow, as his eyes followed Harry's 
retreating form. " His gristle is hardening into some- 
thing like his stern old father's backbone." 



92 THE RED A(X)RN. 



CHAPTER IX. 



ON THE MARCH. 

• He smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the Captalna and the ihoutlng.' 



— Job. 



T 



HE wearv wooks in Ciimp of Inslnution ended 
witli the Suniincr. September liad eonie, and 
Nature was lian^jfing out crimson hattle-tlags every- 
wliere — on tlie swayinor poj)py and the heavy-odored 
freranium. The sumach and the sassafras wore crim- 
son siirnals of defiance, and tl)e maples blazed with 
the iraudy red, yellow and oranire of warlike pomp. 

The reirimenl made its first step on Kentuck}' soil 
with a little bit of pardonable ostentation. Every 
one looked upon it as the real beginning of its military 
( areer. When the transport was securely tied up at 
the wharf, the Colonel mounted his horse, drew his 
sword, placed himself at the head of the regiment, 
and gave the conunand '' Forward." Eleven hundred 
superb young fellows, marching four abreast, with 
bayonets fixed, and muskets at ''right shoulder shift,'' 
strode up the bank after him and went into line of 
battle at the top, where he made a short soldierly 
speech, the drums rolled, the colors dipped, the men 
cheered, and the band played "Star-spangled Ban- 
ner" and "Dixie.'' 

Three years later the two hundred survivors of 
this number returning from their " Veteran furlough," 



ON THE MARCH. 93 

without a band and with their tattered colore carefully 
cased, came off a transport at the same place, without 
uttering a word other than a little grumbling at the 
trouble of disposing of some baggage, marched swift- 
ly and silently u}) the bank, and disappeared before 
any one fairly realized that they were there. So 
much had Time and War taught them. 

'' Now our work may be said to be fairly begun," 
said the Colonel, turning from the contemjilation of 
his regiment, and scanning anxiously the tops of the 
distant line of encircling hills, as if he expected to 
see there signs of the Rebels in strong force. All the 
rest imitated his example, and studied the horizon 
solicitously. "And I expect we shall have plenty of 
it ! " continued the Colonel. 

" No doubt of that," answered the Major. ''They 
say the Rebels are filling Kentucky with troops, and 
going to fight for every foot of the Old Dark and 
Bloody Ground. I think we will have to earn all we 
get of it." 

"To-day's papers report," joined in Surgeon Dens- 
low, "that General Sherman says it will take two 
hundred thousand troops to redeem Kentucky." 

"Yes," broke in the Colonel testily, "and the 
same papers agree in pronouncing Sherman crazy. 
But no matter how many or how few it takes. That's 
none of our affair. We've got eleven hundred good 
men in ranks, and we're going to do all that eleven 
hundred good men can do. God Almighty and Abe 
Lincoln have got to take care of the rest." 

It will be seen that the Colonel was a very prac- 
tical soldier. 



94 THE RED ACORN. 

" First thing we know, the Colonel will be trying 
to make us 'leven hundred clean out 'leven thousand 
Rebs," gi'owled Abe Bolton. 

"Suppose the Colonel should imagine himself an- 
other Leonidas, and us his Spartan band, and want us 
to die around him, and start another ThermopyU^ 
down here in the mountains, some phice,"" suggested 
Kent Edwards, "you would cheerfully pass in your 
checks along with the rest, so as to make the thing 
an entire success, wouldn't you ( '' 

"The day I'm sent below, I'll take a pile of Rebs 
along to keep me company," answered Abe, surlily. 

Glen, standing in the rear of his company in his 
place as file-closer, listened to these Avords, and saw in 
the dim distance and on the darkling bights the 
throngs of fierce enemies and avalanches of impend- 
ing dangers as are likely to oppress the imagination 
of a young soldier at such unfiivorable moments. The 
conflict and carnage seemed so imminent that he half 
expected it to begin that very night, and he stiffened 
his sinews for the shock. 

Lieutenant Alspaugh also heard, studied over the 
unwelcome possibilities shrouded in the gathering 
gloom of the distance, and regretted that he had not, 
before crossing the Ohio, called the Surgeon's atten- 
tion to some premonitory symptoms of rheumatism, 
which he felt he might desire to develop into an 
acute attack in the event of danger assuming an un- 
pleasant proximity. 

But as no Rebels appeared on the sweeping semi- 
circle of hills that shut in Covington on the south, he 
concluded to hold his disability in abeyance, by a , 



ON THE MARCH. 95 

strong effort of the will, until the regiment had pen- 
etrated farther into the enemy's country. 

For days the regiment marched steadily on 
through the wonderfully lovely Blue Grass Region, 
toward the interior of the State, without coming into 
the neighborhood of any organized body of the 
Rebels. 

Glen's first tremors upon crossing the Ohio sub- 
sided so as to permit him to thoroughly enjoy the 
beauties of the scenery, and the pleasures of out-door 
life in a region so attractive at that season of the 
year. 

The turnpike, hard and smooth as a city pave- 
ment, wound over and around romantic hills— hills 
crowned u ith cedar and evergreen laurel, and scarred 
with cliffs and caverns. It passed through forests, 
aromatic with ripening nuts and changing leaves, and 
glorious in the colors of early Autumn. Then its 
course would traverse farms of gracefully undulating 
acres, bounded by substantial stone-walls, marked by 
winding streams of pure spring water, centering 
around great roomy houses, with huge outside chim- 
neys, and broad piazzas, and with a train of humble 
negro cabins in the rear. The horses were proud- 
stepping thoroughbreds, the women comely and spir- 
ited, the men dignified and athletic, and all seemed 
well-fed and comfortable. The names of the places 
along the route recalled to Harry's memory all he 
had ever read of the desperate battles and massacres 
and single-handed encounters of Daniel Boone and 
his associates, with the Indians in the early history of 
the country. 



96 THE RED ACORN. 

"This certainly seems an ideal pastoral land — a 
place where one would naturally locate a charming 
idyl or bucolic love-story! " he said one evening, to 
Surgeon Paul Denslow, after descanting at length 
upon the beauties of the country which they were 
"redeeming" from the hands of the Rebels. 

" Yes," answ^ered Dr. Denslow, " and it's as dull 
and sleepy and non-progressive as all those places are 
where they locate what you call your idyls and pasto- 
rals ! These people haven't got an idea belonging to 
this century, nor do they want one. They know how 
to raise handsome girls, distil good Avhisky, and 
breed fast horses. This they esteem the end of all 
human knowledge and understanding. Anything 
more is to them vanity and useless vexation of 
spirit." 

At last the regiment halted under the grand old 
beeches and hickories of the famous Camp Dick Rob- 
inson, in the heart of the Blue Grass Region. In 
this most picturesque part of the lovely Kentucky 
River Valley they spent the bright days of October 
very delightfully. 

Nature is as kindly and gracious in Central Ken- 
tucky as in any part of the globe upon which her 
sun shines, and she seemed to be on her best be- 
havior, that she might duly impress the Northern 
visitors. 

The orchards were loaded with fruit, and the 
forest trees showered nuts upon the ground. In 
every field were groups of persimmon trees, their 
branches bending under a Imrden of luscious fruit, 
which the frost had coated with sheeny purple out- 



ON THE MARCH. 97 

side, and made sweeter than fine wine within. Over 
all bent softly brilliant skies, and the bland, bracing 
air was charged with the electricity of life and hap- 
piness. 

It was the very poetry of soldiering, and Harry 
began to forget the miseries of life in a Camp of In- 
struction, and to believe that there was much to be 
enjoyed, even in the life of an enlisted man. 

" This here air or the apple-jack seems to have a 
wonderfully improving efiect on Jake Alspaugh's 
chronic rheumatics,*" sneered Abe Bolton. 

It was a sunny afternoon. Bolton and Kent Ed- 
wards were just outside of the camp lines, in the 
shade of a grand old black walnut, and had re-seated 
themselves to finish devouring a bucketful of lush 
persimmons, after having reluctantly risen from that 
delightful occupation to salute Lieutenant Alspaugh, 
as he passed outward in imposing blue and gold stal- 
warthood. 

"I've been remarking that myself," said Kent, 
taking out a handful of the shining fruit, and delib- 
erately picking the stems and dead leaves from the 
sticky sides, preparatory to swallowing it. " He 
hasn't had an attack since we thought those negroes 
and teams on the hills beyond Cynthiana was John 
Morgan's Rebel cavalry." 

"Yes," continued Abe, helping himself also to 
the mellow date-plums, "his legs are so sound now 
that he is able to go to every frolic in the country for 
miles around, and dance all night. He's going to 
the Quartermaster's now, to get a horse to ride to a 
dance and candy-pulling at that double log-house four 
G "^ 5 



98 THE RED ACORN. 

• 

miles down the Harrodsburg Pike. I heard hira 
talking to some other fellows about it when I went 
up with the squad to bring the rations down to the 
company." 

" Seems to me, come to think of it, that I have 
heard of some rheumatic symptoms recently. Re- 
member that a couple of weeks ago Pete Sanford got 
a bullet through his blouse, that scraped his ribs, 
don't you ? " 

"Yes," said Abe, spitting the seeds out from 
a mouthful of honeyed pulp. 

" Well, the boys say that Jake went to a candy- 
pulling frolic down in the Cranston settlement, and 
got into a killing flirtation with the prettiest girl 
there. She was taken with his brass buttons, and his 
circus-horse style generally, but she had another fel- 
low that it didn't suit so well. He showed his dis- 
approval in a way that seems to be the fashion down 
here ; that is, he ' laid for ' Jake behind a big rock with 
a six-foot deer rifle, but mistook Pete Sanford for him." 

"The dunderhead's as poor a judge of men as 
he's marksman. He's a disgrace to Kentucky " 

" At all events it served as a hint, which Alspaugh 
did not fail to take. Since that time there has been 
two or three dances at Cranston's, but every time 
Jake has had such twinges of his rheumatism that he 
did not think it best to ' expose himself to the night 
air,' and go with the boys." 

"O ! ouw ! — wh-i s-s-s-sh ! " sputtered Abe. 

spitting the contents of his mouth out explosively, 
while his face was contorted as if every nerve and 
muscle was being twisted violently. 



ON THE MARCH. 99 

"Why, what is the matter, Abe ? " asked Kent, in 
real alarm. "Have you swallowed a centipede, or 
has the cramp-colic griped you ? " 

"No! I hain't swallowed no centerboard, nor 
have I the belly-ache — blast your chucldehead," 
roared Abe, as he sprang to his feet, rushed to the 
brook, scooped up some water in his hands, and 
rinsed his mouth out energetically. 

"Well, what can it be, then? You surely ain't 
doing all that for fun." 

"No, I ain't doing it for fun" shouted Abe, an- 
grier still ; " and nobody but a double-and-twisted 
idiot would ask such a fool question. I was paying 
so much attention to your dumbed story that I chewed 
up a green persimmon — one that hadn't been touched 
by the frost. It's puckered up my mouth so that I 
never will get it straight again. It's worse than a 
pound of alum and a gallon of tanbark juice mixed 
together. O, laugh, if you want to — that's just what 
rd expect from you. That's about all the sense 
you've got." 



There was enough excitement in camp to prevent 
any danger of ennui. The probability of battle gave 
the daily drills an interest that they never could gain 
in Ohio. The native Rebels were numerous and de- 
fiant, and kept up such demonstrations as led to con- 
tinual apprehensions of an attack. New regiments 
came in constantly, and were received with enthu- 
siasm. Kentucky and East Tennessee Loyalists, tall, 
gaunt, long-haired and quaint-spoken, but burning 
with enthusiasm for the Government of their fathers, 



100 THE RED ACORN. 

flocked to the camp, doffed their butternut garb, as- 
sumed the blue, and enrolled themselves to defend 
the Union. 

At length it became evident that the Rebel "Army 
of Liberation " was really about crossing the Cum- 
berland Mountains to drive out the "Yankees" and 
recover possession of Kentucky for the Southern Con- 
federacy. 

Outposts were thrown out in all directions to gain 
the earliest intelligence of the progress of the move- 
ment, and to make such resistance to it as might be 
possible. One of these outposts was stationed at 
Wildcat Gap, an inexpressibly wild and desolate re 
gion, sixty miles from Camp Dick Robinson, where 
the road entering Kentucky from Tennessee at Cum- 
berland Gap crosses the Wildcat range of mountains. 

One da}' the startling news reached camp that an 
overwhelming Rebel force under Gen. Zollicoffer was 
on the eve of attacking the slender garrison of Wild- 
cat Gap. The "assembly" was sounded, and the 
regiment, hastily provided with rations and ammu- 
nition, was hurried forward to aid in the defense of 
the threatened outpost. 

Nature, as if in sympathy with the gathering storm 
of war, ceased her smiling. The blue, bending skies 
were transformed into a scowling, leaden- visaged can- 
opy, from which fell a chill, incessant rain. 

When the order to prepare for the march came 
Glen, following the example of his comrades, packed 
three days' cooked rations in his haversack, made his 
blankets into a roll, tieing their ends together, threw 
them scarf-fashion over his shoulder, and took his 



ON THE MARCH. 101 

accustomed place as file-closer in the rear of his com- 
pany. He was conscious all the time, though he 
sutfered no outward sign to betray the fact, that he 
was closely watched by the boys who had been with 
him in Western Virginia, and who were eager to see 
how he would demean himself in this new emer- 
gency. 

He was shortly ordered to assist in the inspection 
of cartridge-boxes and the issuing of cartridges, and 
the grim nature of the errand they were about to 
start upon duly impressed itself upon his mind as he 
walked down the lines in the melancholy rain, ex- 
amined each box, and gave the owner the quantity of 
cartridges required to make up the quota of forty 
rounds per man. 

Those who scrutinized his face as he passed slowly 
by, saw underneath the dripping eaves of his broad- 
brimmed hat firm-set lines about his mouth, and a 
little more luminous light in his eyes. 

"Harry Glen's screwing his courage to the stick- 
ing point. He's bound to go through this time," said 
Kent Edwards. 

" The more fool he," answered Abe Bolton, adjust- 
ing his poncho so as to better protect his cartridges and 
rations from the rain. "If he Avanted to play the 
Avarrior all so bold why didn't he improve his oppor- 
tunities in Western Virginia, when it was fine weather 
and he only had three months to do it in ? Now that 
he's in for three years it will be almighty strange if 
he can't find a pleasanter time to make his little strut 
on the field of battle than in this infernal soak." 

*'I have seen better days than this, as the tramp 



102 THE RED ACORN. 

remarked who had once been a bank cashier," mur- 
mured Kent, tightening the tompion in his musket- 
muzzle with a piece of paper, the better to exclude 
the moisture, and wrapping a part of the poncho 
around the lock for the same purpose. " Where is 
that canteen ? " 

''It's where it'll do you no good until you need 
it much worse'n 3'ou do now. O, 1 know you of 
old, Mr. Kent Edwards," continued Abe, with 
that deep sarcasm, which was his nearest approach to 
humor. " I may say that IVe had the advantages 
of an intimate acquaintance with you for years, and 
when I trust j^ou with a full canteen of apple-jack at 
the beginning of such a march as this'll lie, Til be 
ready to enlist in the permanent garrison of a lunatic 
asylum, I will. This canteen only holds three pints ; 
that's great deal less'n 'you do. It's full now, and 
you're empty. Fill up some place else, and to- 
morrow or next day, when you'd give a farm for a 
nip, this'Ucome in mighty handy." 

The Hospital Steward approached, and said : 
"Captain, the Surgeon presents his compliments 
and requests that you send four men to convey your 
First Lieutenant Alspaugh to comfortable quarters 
which have been prepared for him in the hospital 
barracks. His rheumatic trouble has suddenly as- 
sumed an acute form — brought on doubtless by the 
change in the weather — and he is suffering greatly. 
Please instruct the men to be very careful in carrying 
him, so as to avoid all unnecessary pain, and also all 
exposure to the rain. He will have a good room in 



ON THE MARCH. 103 

in the hospital, with a fire in it, and every atten- 
tion, so that you need have no fears concerning 
him." 

"I never had," said Kent, loud enough to be 
heard all over the right wing of the company. 

"I have," said Abe. "There's every danger in 
the world that he'll get well." 

Away the regiment marched, through the dismal 
rain, going as fast as the heavily laden men could be 
spurred onward by the knowledge of their comrades' 
imminent need. 

It was fearful hard work even so long as the pike 
lasted, and they had a firm, even foundation for their 
feet to tread upon. But the pike ended at Crab Or- 
chard, and then they plunged into the worst ronds 
that the South at any time offered to resist the pro- 
gress of the Union armies. Narrow, tortuous, un- 
worked substitutes for highways wound around and 
over steep, rocky hills, through miry creek bottoms, 
and over bridgeless streams, now so swollen as to be 
absolutely unfordable by less determined men, start- 
ing on a less urgent errand. 

For three weary, discouraging days they pressed 
onward through the dispiriting rain and over all the 
exhausting obstacles. On the morning of the fourth 
they reached the foot of the range in which Wildcat 
Gap is situated. They were marching slowly up the 
steep mountain side, their soaked garments clinging 
about their weary limbs and clogging their footsteps. 
Suddenly a sullen boom rolled out of the mist that 
hung over the distant mountain tops. 



104 THE RED ACORN. 

Every one stopped, held their breaths, and tried 
to check the beating of their hearts, that they might 
hear more. 

They needed not. There was no difficulty about 
hearing the succeeding reports, which became ever}- 
instant more distinct. 

"By God, that's cannon!" said the Colonel. 
' ' They're attacking our boys. Throw off every thing, 
boys, and hurry forward ! " 

Overcoats, blankets, haversacks and knapsacks 
were hastily piled, and the two most exhausted men 
in each company placed on guard over them. 

Kent and Abe did not contribute their canteen to 
the company pile. But then its weight was much 
less of an impediment than when they left Camp 
Dick Robinson. 

They employed the very brief halt of the regi- 
ment in swabbing out the barrels of their muskets 
very carefully, and removing the last traces of mois- 
ture from the nipples and hammers. 

"At last I stand a show of getting some return 
from this old piece of gas-tube for the trouble it's 
been to me," said Kent Edwards, as he ran a pin into 
the nipple to make assurance doubly sure that it was 
entirely free. "Think of the transportation charges 
I have against it, for the time I have lugged it around 
over Ohio and Kentucky, to say nothing of the man- 
ual labor and the mental strain of learning and prac- 
tising 'present arms,' 'carry arms,' 'support aims,' 
and such other military monkey-shines under the hot 
sun of last Summer ! " 

He pulled off the woolen rag he had twisted 



ON THE MARCH. 105 

around the head of the rammer for a swab, wiped the 
rammer clean and bright and dropped it into the gun. 
It fell with a clear ring. Another dextrous move- 
ment of the gun sent it fljnng into the air, Kent 
caught it as it came down and scrutinized its bright 
head. He found no smirch of dirt or dampness. 
"Clean and clear as a whistle inside," he said, ap- 
provingly. "She'll make music that our Secession 
friends will pay attention to, though it may not be as 
sweet to their ears as 'The Bonnie Blue Flag.' " 

"More likely kick the whole northwest quarter 
section of your shoulder ofl* when you try to shoot 
it," growled Abe, who had been paying similar close 
attention to his gun. "If we'd had anybody but a 
lot of mullet-heads for officers we'd a' been sent up 
here last week, when the weather and the roads were 
good, and when we could've done something. Now 
our boys'U be licked before we can get where we can 
help 'em." ' 

Glen leaned on his musket, and listening to the 
deepening roar of the battle, was shaken by the surge 
of emotions natural to the occasion. It seemed as if no 
one could live through the incessant firing the sound 
of which rolled down to them. To go up into it was to 
deliberately venture into certain destruction. Mem- 
ory made a vehement protest. He recalled all the 
pleasant things that life had in store for him ; all 
that he could enjoy and accomplish ; all that he 
might be to others ; all that others might be to him. 
Every enjoyment of the past, every happy possibility 
of the future took on a more entrancing roseate- 
ness. 



106 THE KED ACORN. 

Could he give all this up, and die there on the 
mountain top, in this dull, brutal, unheroic fashion, 
in the filthy mud and dreary rain, with no one to note 
or care whether he acted courageously or other- 
wise ? 

It did not seem that he was expected to fling his 
life away like a dumb brute entering the reeking 
shambles. His youth and abilities had been given 
him for some other purpose. Again palsying fear 
and ignoble selfishness tugged at his heart-strings, 
and he felt all his carefully cultivated resolutions 
weakening. 

" A Sergeant must be left in command of the men 
guarding this property,'' said the Colonel. "The 
Captain of Company A will detail one for that 
duty." 

Captain Bennett glanced from one to another of 
his five Sergeants. Harry's heart gave a swift leap, 
with hope that he migl>t be ordered to remain be- 
hind. Then the blood crimsoned his cheeks, for the 
first time since the sound of the firing struck his ears ; 
he felt that every eye in the Company was upon him, 
and that his ignoble desire had been read by all in 
his look of expectancy. Shame came to spur up his 
faltering will. He set his teeth firmly, pulled the 
tompion out of his gun, and flung it away disdain- 
fully as if he would never need it again, blew into 
the muzzle to see if the tube was clear, and wiped ofi" 
the lock with a fine white handkerchief — one of the 
relics of his by-gone elegance — which he drew from 
the breast of his blouse. 

"Sergeant Glan — Sergeant Glancey will remain," 



ON THE MARCH. 107 

said the Caplain peremptorily. Glancey, the Captain 
knew, was the only son and support of a widowed 
mother. 

"Now, boys," said the Colonel in tones that rang 
like bugle notes, "the time has come for us to strike 
a blow for the Union, and for the fame of the dear 
old Buckeye State. I need not exhort you to do your 
duty like men; I know you too well to think that any 
such words of mine are at all necessary. Forward ! 
quick time! march ! " 

The mountain sides rang with the answering cheers 
from a thousand throats. 

The noise of the battle on the distant crest was at 
first in separate bursts of sound, as regiment after 
regiment came into position and opened fire. The 
intervals between these bursts had disappeared, and 
it had now become a steady roar. 

A wild mob came rushing backward from the 
front. 

"My God, our men are whipped!" exclaimed 
the young Adjutant in tones of anguish. 

"No, no," said Captain Bennett, with cheerful 
confidence. " These are only the camp rifi'-rafi*, who 
run whenever so much as a cap is burst near them." 

So it proved to be. There were teamsters upon 
their wheel-mules, cooks, officers' servants, both 
black and white, and civilian employes, mingled with 
many men in uniform, skulking from their companies. 
Those were mounted who could seize a mule any- 
where, and those who could not were endeavoring to 
keep up on foot with the panic-stricken riders. 

A.11 seemed wild with one idea : To get as far as 



108 THE RED ACORN. 

l)osi5ible from the terrors raging around the moun- 
tain top. They rushed through the regiment and 
disordered its ranks. 

"Who are you a-shovin\ young fellow — say? " de- 
manded Abe Bolton, roughly collaring a strapping 
hulk of a youth, who, hatless, and with his fat cheeks 
white with fear, came plunging against him like a 
frightened steer. 

'•O boys, let me pass, and don't go up there! 
Don't ! You'll all be killed. I know it, I'm all the 
one of my company that got away — I am, really. 
All the rest are killed." 

" Heavens 1 what a wretched remnant, as the dry- 
goods man said, when the clerk brought him a piece 
of selvage as all that the burglars had left of his stock 
of broadcloth," said Kent Edwards. " It's too bad 
that you were allowed to get away, either. You're 
not a proper selection for a relic at all, and you give a 
bad impression of your company. You ought to have 
thought of this, and staid up there and got killed, 
and ict some better-looking man got away, that would 
have done the company credit. Why didn't you think 
of this?" 

"Git !" said Abe, sententiously, with a twist in 
the coward's collar, that, with the help of an oppor- 
tune kick by Kent, sent him sprawling down the 
bank. 

"Captain Bennett," shouted the Colonel angrily, 
•* Fix bayonets there in front, and drive these hounds 
off, or we'll never get there." 

A show of savage-looking steel sent the skulkers 
down a side-path through the woods. 



ON THE MARCH. 109 

The tumult of the battle heightened with every 
step the regiment advanced. A turn in the winding 
road brought them to an opening in the woods which 
extended clear to the summit. Through this the torrent 
of noise poured as when a powerful band passes the 
head of a street. Down this avenue came rolling the 
crash of thousands of muskets fired with the intense 
energy of men in mortal combat, the deeper pulsations 
of the artillery, and even the fierce yells of the fight- 
ers, as charges were made or repulsed. 

Glen felt the blood settle around his heart anew. 

"Get out of the road and let the artillery pass! 
Open up there for the artillery ! " shouted voices from 
the rear. Everybody sprang to the side of the road. 

There came a sound of blows rained upon horses' 
bodies — of shouts and oaths from excited drivers 
and eager officers — of rushing wheels and of ironed 
hoofs striking fire from the grinding stones. Six 
long-bodied, strong-limbed horses, their hides reeking 
with sweat, and their nostrils distended with intense 
efibrt, tore past, snatching after them, as if it were a 
toy, a gleaming brass cannon, surrounded by galloping 
cannoneers, who goaded the draft horses on with 
blows with the flats of their drawn sabers. Another 
gun, with its straining horses and galloping attend- 
ants, and another, and another, until six great, grim 
pieces, with their scores of desperately eager men 
and horses, had rushed by toward the front. 

It was a sight to stir the coldest blood. The ex- 
cited infantry boys, wrought up to the last pitch b}" 
the spectacle, sprang back into the road, cheered 
vociferously, and rushed on after the battery. 



110 THE RED ACORX. 

Hardly had the echoes of their voices died away, 
when they heard the battery join its thunders to the 
din of the fight. 

Then wounded men, powder-stained, came strag- 
gling back — men Avith shattered arms and gashed 
faces and garments soaked with blood from bleeding 
wounds. 

"Hurrah, boys!" each shouted with weakened 
voice, as his eyes lighted up at sight of the regiment, 
" We're whipping them ; but hurry forward ! You're 
needed." 

"If you ain't pretty quick," piped one girl-faced 
boy, with a pensive smile, as he sat weakly down on a 
stone and pressed a delicate hand over a round red 
spot that had just appeared on the breast of his 
blouse, " you'll miss all the fun. We've about licked 
'em already. Oh ! — " ' 

Abe and Kent sprang forward to catch him, but 
he was dead almost before they could reach him. 
They laid him back tenderly on the brown dead 
leaves, and ran to regain their places in the ranks. 

The regiment was now sweeping around the last 
curve between it and the line of battle. The smell of 
the burning powder that tilled the air, the sight of 
flowing blood, the shouts of the fighting men, had 
awakened in every bosom that deep-lying hilling in- 
stinct inherited from our savage ancestr}'. which slum- 
bers — generally wholly unsuspected — in even the gen- 
tlest man's bosom, until some accident gives it a 
terrible arousing. 

Now the slaying fever burned in every soul. They 
were marching with long, quick strides, but well- 



ON THE MARCH. Ill 

closed ranks, elbow touching elbow, and every move- 
ment made with the even more than the accuracy of 
a parade. Harry felt himself swept forward by a 
current as resistless as that which sets over Niagara. 

They came around the little hill, and saw a bank 
of smoke indicating where the line of battle was. 

"Let's finish the canteen now," said Kent. "It 
may get bored by a bullet and all run out, and you 
know I hate waste." 

" I suppose we might as well drink it," assented 
Abe — the first time in the history of the regiment, 
that he agreed with anybody. "We may n't be able 
to do it in ten minutes, and it would be too bad to 've 
lugged that all the way here, just for some one else to 
drink." 

An Aide, powder-grimed, but radiant with joy, 
dashed up. "Colonel," he said, " you had better go 
into line over in that vacant space there, and wait for 
orders ; hnt I don't think you will have anything to do, 
for the General believes that the victory is won, and 
the Rebels are in full retreat." 

As he spoke, a mighty cheer rolled around the 
line of battle, and a band stationed upon a rock which 
formed the highest part of the mountain, burst forth 
with the grand strains of the " Star-spangled Banner." 

The artillery continued to hurl screaming shot and 
shell down into the narrow gorge, through which the 
defeated Rebels were flying with mad haste. 



112 ♦ THE RED ACORN. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE mountaineer's REVENGE. 

And If w (• do but watch the hour. 
Then- never yet was human power 
Which could evade. If unforglven. 
The patient Bearch and vigil long 
Of him who treasures up a wrong. 

— Btkon. 

TTARRY GLEN'S first feeling when he found the 
J-X l)attle was really over, was that of elation that 
the crisis to which he iiad looked forward with so 
much apprehension, had passed without his receiving 
any bodily harm. This was soon replaced by regret 
that the long-coveted o"pportunity had been suffered 
to pass unimi)roved, and still another strong senti- 
ment — that keen sense of disappointment which comes 
when we have braced ourselves uj) to encounter an 
emergency, and it vanishes. There is the feeling of 
waste of valuable accumulated energy, which is as 
painful as that of energy misapplied. 

Still farther, he felt sadly that the day of his vin- 
dication had been again postponed over another weary 
period of probation. 

All around was intense enthusiasm, growing 
stronger every instant. It was the first battle that 
the victors had been engaged in, and they felt the 
tumultuous joy that the first triumph brings to young 
soldiers. It was the first encounter upon the soil of 
Kentucky ; it was the first victory between the Cum- 



THE MOUNTAINEERS REVENGE. 113 

berland Mountains and the Mississippi River, and the 
loss of the victors was insignificant, compared with 
that of the vanquished. 

The cold drench from the skies, the dreary mud 
—even the dead and wounded — were forgotten in the 
jubilation at the sight of the lately insolent foe flying 
in confusion down the mountain side, recking for 
nothing so much as for personal safety. 

The band continued to play patriotic airs, and the 
cannon to thunder long after the last Rebel had dis- 
appeared in the thick woods at the bottom of the 
gloomy gorge. 

A detail of men and some wagons were sent back 
after the regiment's baggage, and the rest of the boys, 
after a few minutes survey of the battle-field, were 
set to work building fires, cooking rations and pre- 
paring from the branches and brush such shelter as 
could be made to do substitute duty for the tents left 
behind. 

Little as was Harry's normal inclination to manual 
labor, it was less than ever now, with these emotions 
struggling in his mind, and leaving his comrades 
hard at work, he wandered off to where Hoosier Knob, 
a commanding eminence on the left of the battle-field, 
seemed to offer the best view of the retreat of the 
forces of ZoUicoffer. Arriving there, he pushed on 
down the slope to where the enemy's line had stood, 
and where now were groups of men in blue uniforms, 
searching for trophies of the fight. In one place a 
musket would be found ; in another a cap with a 
silver star, or a canteen quaintly fashioned from altei- 
nate staves of red and white cedar. Each ^' find " was 
H 5* 



114 THE RED ACORN. 

proclaimed by the discoverer, and he was immediately 
surrounded by a group to earnestly inspect and dis- 
cuss it. It was still the first year of the war ; the 
next year " trophies " were left to rot unnoticed on 
the battle-fields they covered. 

Hurry took no interest in the relic-hunting, but 
walked onward toward another prominence that gave 
hopes of a good view of the Rebels. The glimpses 
lie gained from this of the surging mass of fugitives 
iiitlamed liim with the excitement of the chase — of the 
most exciting of chases, a man-hunt. He forgot his 
tears — forgot how far behind he was leaving all the 
others, and became eager only to see more of this fas- 
cinating sight. Before he was aware of it, he was 
three or four miles from the Gap. 

Here a point ran l^oUUy down from the mountain 
into the valley, and ended in a ijare knob that over- 
looked the narrow creek bottom, along which the 
beaten host was forging its way. Harry unhesitat- 
ingly descended to this, and stood gazing at the swarm- 
ing horde below. It was a sight to rivet the attention. 
The narrow level space through which the creek me- 
nndered between the two parallel ranges of heights 
was crowded as far as he could see with an army 
which defeat had degraded to a demoralized mob. All 
semblance of military organization had well-nigh dis- 
appeared. Horsemen and footmen, infantry, cavalry 
and artillery, officers and privates, ambulances creak- 
ing under their load of wounded and dying, ponder- 
ous artillery forges, wagons loaded with food, wagons 
loaded with ammunition, and wagons loaded with lux- 
uries for the delectation of the higher officers, — all 



THE mountaineer's REVENGE. 115 

huddled and crowded together, and struggled forward 
with feverish haste over the logs, rocks, gullies and 
the deep waters of the swollen stream, and up its 
slippery banks, through the quicksands and quagmires 
which every passing foot and wheel beat into a still 
more grievous obstacle for those that followed. Hope- 
lessly fiigged horses fell for the last time under the 
merciless blows of their frightened masters, and 
added their great bulks to the impediments of the 
road. 

The men were sullen and depressed — cast down by 
the wretchedness of earth and sky, and embittered 
against their officers and each other for the blood use- 
lessly shed — oppressed with hunger and weariness, 
and momentarily fearful that new misfortunes were 
about to descend upon them. In brief, it was one of 
the saddest spectacles that human history can present : 
that of a beaten and disorganized army in full retreat, 
and an army so new to soldiership and discipline as 
to be able to make nothing l)ut the worst out of so 
great a calamity — it was a rout after a repulse. 

Nearly all of the passing thousands were too much 
engrossed in the miseries of their toilsome progress 
to notice the blue-coated figure on the bare knob 
above the road. But the rear of the fugitives was 
brought up b}' a squad of men moving much more 
leisurely, and with some show of order. They did 
not plunge into the mass of men and animals and 
vehicles, and struggle with them in the morass which 
the road had now become, but deliberately picked 
their way along the sides of the valley where the 
walking was easier. They saw Harry, and under- 



116 THE RED ACORN. 

stood as soon as they saw, who he was. Two or three 
responded to their first impulse, and raising their guns 
to their shoulders, fired at him. A bullet slapped 
against the rock upon Avhich he was partially leaning, 
and fell at his feet. Another spattered mud in his 
face, and flew away, singing viciously. 

At the reports the fear-harassed mob shuddered 
and surged forward through its entire length. 

The companions of those who fired seemed to re- 
proach them with angry gestures, pointing to the 
effect upon the panicky mass. Then the whole squad 
rushed forward toward the hill. 

Deadly fear clutched Harry Glen's heart as the 
angry notes of the bullets jarred on his senses. .Then 
pride and the animal instinct of fighting for life 
flamed upward. So swiftly that he was scarcely con- 
scious of what he was doing he snatched a cartridge 
from the box, tore its end between his teeth, and 
rammed it home. He replaced the ramrod in its 
thimbles with one quick thrust, and as he raised his 
eyes from the nipple upon which he had placed the 
cap, he saw that the Rebel squad had gained the foot 
of the knoll and started up its side. He raised the 
gun to fire, but as he did so he heard a voice call out 
from behind him : 

" Skeet outen thar ! Skeet outen thar ! Come 
up heah, quick ! " 

Harry looked in the direction of the voice. He 
saw a tall, slender, black-haired man standing in the 
woods at the upper edge of the cleared space. He 
was dressed in butternut jeans, and looked so much 
like the Rebels in front that Harry thought he was 



THE mountaineer's REVENGE. 117 

one of them. The stranger noticed his indecision, 
and called out again still more peremptorily : 

" Skeet outen thar, I tell ye ! Skeet outen thar ! 
Come up heah. I'm a friend — Fm Union." 

His rifle came to his face at the same instant, and 
Harry saw the flame and white smoke puii from it, 
and the sickening thought flashed into his mind that 
the shot was fired at him, and that he would feel the 
deadly ball pierce his body ! Before he could more 
than formulate this he heard the bullet pass him with 
a screech, and strike somewhere with a plainly sharp 
slap. Turning his head he saw the leading Reljcl 
stagger and fall. Harry threw his gun up, with the 
readiness acquired in old hunting days, and fired at 
the next of his foes, who also fell ! The other Rebels, 
as they came up, gathered around their fallen com- 
rades. 

Harry ran back to where the stranger was, as 
rapidly as the clinging mud and the steep hillside 
would permit him. 

'^Purty fa'r shot that," said the stranger, setting 
down the heavy rifle he was carefully reloading, and 
extending his hand cordially as Harry came panting 
up. " That's what I call mouty neat shooting — knock 
yer man over at 150 yards, down hill, with that ole 
smooth-bore, and without no rest. The oldest han' 
at the business couldnTve done no better." 

Harry was too much agitated to heed the compli- 
ment to his markraanship. He looked back anxiously 
and asked : 

" Are they coming on yet ? " 
"Skacely they hain't," said the stranger, with a 



118 THE RED ACORN. 

very obvious sneer. " Skacely they hain't comin' on 
no more. They've hed enuff, they hev. Two of 
their best men dropt inter blue blazes on the first 
jump will take all the aidge ofFther appetite for larks. 
I know 'em." 

"But they Avill come on. They'll pursue us. 
They'll never let us go now," said Harry, reloading 
his gun with hands trembling from the exertion and 
excitement. 

He w^as yet too 3'oung a soldier to understand 
that his enemy's fright might be greater than his 
own. 

"Nary a time they won't," said the stranger, de- 
risively. "Them fellers are jest like Injuns ; they're 
red-hot till one or two gits knocked over, an' then 
they cool doAvn mouty siiddent. Why, me an' two 
others stopt the whole of ZoUicofTer's army for two 
days by shootin' the officer in command of the ad- 
vance-guard jest ez the}^ war a-comin' up the hill this 
side of Barboursville. Fact ! They'd a' been at 
Wildcat last Friday ef we hedn't skeered 'em so. 
They stopt an^ hunted the whole country round for 
bushwhackers afore they'd move ary other step." 

" But who are you ? " asked Harry, looking again 
at his companion's butternut garb, 

"I'm called Long Jim Fortner, an' I've the name 
o' bein' the pizenest Union man in the Rockassel 
Mountains. Thar's a good s'tifikit o' my p'litical 
principles " (pointing with his thumb to where lay 
the men who had fallen under their bullets). Harry 
looked again in that direction. Part of the squad 
were looking apprehensively toward him, as if they 



THE mountaineer's REVENGE. 110 

feared a volley from bushwhackers concealed near 
him, and others were taking from the bodies of the 
dead the weapons, belts, and other articles which it 
was not best to leave for the pursuers, and still others 
were pointing to the rapidly growing distance be- 
tween them and main body, apparently adjuring 
haste in following. 

The great mental and bodily strain Harry had un- 
dergone since he had first heard the sound of cannon 
in the morning at the foot of Wildcat should have 
made him desperately weary. But the sight of the 
man falling before his gun had fermented in his 
blood a fierce intoxication, as unknown, as unsus- 
pected before as the passion of love had been before 
its first keen transports thrilled his heart. Like that 
ecstacy, this fever now consumed him. All fear of 
harm to himself vanished in its flame. He had actu- 
ally slain one enemy. Why not another ? He raised 
his musket. The mountaineer laid his hand up- 
on it. 

"No," he said, "that's not the game to hunt. 
"They'll do when thar's notliin' better to be hed, but 
now powder an' lead kin be used to more advantage. 
Besides they're outen range o' your smooth-bore now. 
Come." 

As Fortner threw his rifle across his shoulder 
Harry looked at it curiously. It had a long, heavy, 
six-sided barrel, with a large bore, double triggers, 
and a gaily striped hickory ramrod in its thimbles. 
The stock, of fine, curly rock-maple, was ornamented 
with silver stars and crescents, and in the breech 
were cunning little receptacles for tow and patches, 



J 20 THE RED ACORN. 

and other rifle necessaries, each closed by a polished 
silver cover that shut with a snap. It was evidently 
the triumph of some renowned Kentucky gunsmith's 
skill. 

The mountaineer's foot was on the soil he had 
trodden since childhood, and Harry found it quite 
difficult to keep pace with his stron^^, quick stride. 
His step landed firm and sure on the sloping surfaces, 
where Harry slipped or shambled. Clinging vines 
and sharp briers were avoided without an apparent 
eflfort, where every one grasped Harry, or tore his 
face and hands. 

The instinct of the wolf or the panther seemed to 
lead Fortner by the shortest courses through the 
pathless woods to where he came unperceived close 
upon the flank of the mass of harassed fugitives. 
Then creeping behind a convenient tree with the 
supple lightness of the leopard crouching for a spring, 
he scanned with eager eyes the mounted officers 
within range. Selecting his prey he muttered : 

" 'Taiu't him^ but he'll hev to do, this time." 

The weapon rang out shaiply. The stricken offi- 
cer threw up his sword arm, his bridle arm clutched 
his saddle-pommel, as if resisting the attempt of 
Death to unhorse him. Then the muscles all re- 
laxed, and he fell into the arms of those who had hur- 
ried to him. 

Harry fired into the mass the next instant ; a few 
random shots replied, and another impetus of fear 
spurred the mob onward. 

Fortner and Harry sped away to another point of 
interception, where the same scene was repeated, and 



THE mountaineer's REVENGE. 121 

then to another, and then to a third, Fortner mutter- 
ing after each shot his disappointment at not finding 
the one whom he anxiously sought. 

When they hurried away the third time they were 
compelled to make a wide circuit, for the little valley 
suddenly broadened out into a considerable plain. 
Upon this the long-drawn-out line of fugitives gath- 
ered in a compact, turmoiling mass. 

"That's Little Rockassel Ford," said Fortner, 
pointing with his left hand to the base of the moun- 
tain that rose steeply above the farther side of the com- 
motion. " That's Rockassel Mountain runnin' up thar 
inter the clouds. The Little Rockassel River runs 
round hits foot. That's what's a-stoppin' 'em. 
They'll hev a turrible time gittin' acrost hit. Hit's 
mouty hard crossin' at enny time, but hit's awful 
now, fur the Rockassel's boomin'. The big rains hev 
sent her up kitin', an' hit's now breast-deep thar in 
the Ford. We'll git round whar we kin see hit 
all." 

Another wide detour to keep themselves in the 
concealment of the woods brought Fortner and Harry 
out upon an acclivity that almost overhung the ford, 
and those gathered around it. The two Unionists 
crawled cautiously through the cedars and laurel to 
the very edge of the cliflfand looked down upon their 
enemies. They were so near that everything was 
plainly visible, and the hum of conversation reached 
their ears. They could even hear the commands of 
the officers vainly trying to restore order, the curses 
of the teamsters upon their jaded animals, the ribald 
songs of the few whose canteens furnished them with 



122 TJIE RED ACORN . 

forgetfiilness of defeat, and contempt for the surround- 
ing misery. 

All the flooding showers which had l)een falling 
upon hundreds of square miles of precipitous moun- 
tain sides were now gorging through the crooked, 
narrow throat of the Little Rockcastle. The torrent 
filled the ragged })anks to the l)rini, and in their 
greedy swirl undermined and tore from there logs, 
great trees, and even rocks. 

This w^as the barrier that sta\'ed the flight of th(^ 
fugitive throng, and it was this that they strove to 
put between them and the presumed revengeful vic- 
tors. 

On the bank, field and line officers lal)orod to calm 
their men and restore organization. It was in vain 
that they pointed out that there had been no pursuit 
thus far, and the unlikelihood of there being one. 
When did Panic yield to Reason ? In those demor- 
alized ears the thunder of the cannon at Wildcat, the 
crash of the bursting shells, and the deadly whistle 
of bullets still rang louder than any w^ords oflScers 
could speak. 

The worst frightened crowded into the stream in 
a frenzy, and struggled wildly with the current that 
swept their feet oS" the slimy limestone of the bottom, 
with the logs and trees dashing along like so many 
catapult-bolts, and with the horses and teams urged on 
b}^ men more fear-stricken still. On the steep slope on 
the other side glimmered numbers of little fires where 
those who were luck}' enough to get across were 
warming and drying themselves. 

"Heavens!" s:iid Harry with an anticipator}- 



THE mountaineer's REVENGE. 123 

shudder, "if our men should come up, the first can- 
non sliot would make half these men drown them- 
selves in trying to get away." 

Fortner heeded him not. The mountaineer's eyes 
were fixed upon a tall, imperious looking man, whose 
collar bore the silver stars of a Colonel. 

" He has found his man at last," said Harry, no- 
ticing his companion's attitude, and picking up his 
own gun in readiness for what might come. 

Fortner half-cocked his rifle, took from its nipple 
the cap that had been there an hour and flung it away 
He picked the powder out of the tube, replaced it 
with fresh from his horn, selected another cap care- 
fully, fitted it on the nipple, and let the hammer 
down witli the faintest snap to force it to its place. 

His eyes had the look of the rattlesnake's when it 
coils for a spring, and his breast swelled out as if he 
was summoning all his strength. He stepped for- 
ward to a tree so lightly that there came no rustle 
from the dead leaves he trod upon. Harry took his 
place on the other side of the tree, and cocked his 
musket. 

So close were they to hundreds of Rebels with 
arms in their hands, that it seemed simply an invita- 
tion to death to call their attention. 

Fortner turned and waved Harry back as he 
heard him approach, but Glen had apparently ex- 
hausted all his capacity for fearing, in the march upon 
Wildcat, and he was now calmly desperate. 

The Colonel rode out from the throng toward the 
level spot at the base of the ledge upon which the two 
were concealed. The horse he bestrode was a mag- 



124 TUK RED ACORN. 

niticeiit thoroughbred, whose fine action coulil not be 
concealed, even by his great fatigue. 

" Go and find Mars," said tlie Colonel to an 
orderly, "and tell him to build a fire against that 
rock there, and make us some coffee. We will not be 
able to get across the ford before midnight." The 
orderly rode off, and the Colonel dismounted and 
walked forward with the cramped gait of a man who 
had been long in the saddle. 

Still louder yells arose from the ford. A i)ower- 
ful horse, ridden by an officer who was trying to force 
his way across, had slipped on the river's glassy bed- 
stones, in the midst of Ji compact throng, and carried 
many with it down into the dccj) water below the 
crossing. 

The Colonel's lip curled with contempt as he con- 
tinued his walk. 

A sharp little click sounded from Fortner's rifie. 
He had set the hair trigger. 

He stepped out clear of the tree, and gave a pecu- 
liar whistle. The Colonel started as he heard the 
sound, looked up, saw who uttered it, and instinct- 
ively reached his hand back to tlie holster for a 
revolver. 

Down would scarcel}' have been ruffled by Fort- 
ner's light touch upon the trigger. 

Fire flamed from the rifle's muzzle. 

The Colonel's haughty eyes became stenier than 
ever. The holster was torn as he wrenched the revol- 
ver out. A clutch at the mane, and he fell forward 
on the wet brown leaves — dead ! 



THE MOU^'TALNEER S REVENGE. 125 

Dumb amazement filled the horse's great eyes ; 
he stretched out his neck and smelled his lifeless 
master inquiringly. 

A shot from Harry's musket, fifty from the 
astounded Rebels, and the two Unionists sped away 
unhurt into the cover of the dark cedars. 



126 THE KED ACORN. 



CHAPTER XI. 

THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS AND THE NIGHT. 

<.iod sits uiwn the Throne of Klnfrs 
And Judges unto Judgment brings : 

Why thi-n so long 

Maintain your wrong, 
And favor lawless things ? 

Defend the poor, the fatherless ; 
Their crj-Ing Injuries redress : 

And vindicate 

The desolate. 
Whom wicked men oppress. 

— Gkobok Sandy's Pabaphbase of Psalm Lixxir. 

"TpORTXER and Gli^n were soon so far away from 
-L the Ford that the only reminder of its neigli- 
borhood were occasional glimpses, caught through 
rifts in the forest, of the lofty slope of Rockcastle 
:\loantain, now outlined in the gathering darkness by 
twinkling fires, which increased in number, and 
climbed higher towards the clouds as fast as the fugi- 
tives succeeded in struggling across the river. 

"That's a wonderful sight," said Harry, as they 
paused on a summit to rest and catch breath. "It 
reminds me of some of the war scenes in Scott, or 
the Iliad." 

" Hit looks ter me like a gineral coon-hunt," said 
Fortner, " on'y over thar hit's the coons, an' not the 
hunters, that hev the torches. I wish I could put a 
bum-shoU inter every fire." 

"You are merciless." 



THKOUGH THE MOUNTAINS AND THE NIGHT. 127 

"No more 'n they are. They've ez little marcy ez 
a pack o' wolves in a sheep-pen. 

^•Well, continued Fortner, meditatively, "Ole 
Rockassel's gittin' a glut to-night. She'd orten't ter 
need no more now fur a hundred yeahs." 

"I don't understand you," said Harry. 

"Why, they say thet the Rockassel hez ter hev a 
man every Spring an' Fall. The Injuns believed hit, 
an' hit's bin so ever sence the white folks come inter 
the country. Last Spring hit war the turn o' the 
Fortner kin to gi'n her a man, an' she levied on a fust 
cousin o' mine — a son o' Aunt Debby Brill. But less 
jog on ; we've got a good piece fur ter go." 

It was now night — black and starless, and the 
dense woods through which they were traveling 
made the darkness thick and impenetrable. But no 
check in Fortner's speed hinted at any ignorance ot 
the course or encountering of obstacles. He contin- 
ued to stride forward with the same swift, certain 
step as in the day time. But for Harry, who could 
see nothing but his leader's head and shoulders, and 
whose every effort was required to keep these in sight, 
the journey was full of painful toil. The relaxation 
from the intense strain manifested itself in proportion 
as they seemed to recede from the presence of the 
enemy, and his spirits flagged continually. 

In the daylight the brush and briers had been an- 
noying and hurtful, and the roughness of the way 
very trying. Now the one was wounding and cruel ; 
the other made eveiy step with his jaded limbs a tor- 
ture. With the low spirits engendered by the great 
fatigue, came a return of the old fears and tremors. 



128 THE RED ACORN. 

The continual wnils of the wildcats roundabout filled 
him with gloomy forebodings. Every hair of his 
head stood stiffly up in mortal terror when a huge 
catamount, screaming like a fiend, leaped down from 
a tree, and confronted them for an instant with hid- 
eously-gleaming yellow, eyes. 

''Cuss-an'-burn the nasty varmint! " said Fortner 
angrily, snatching up a pine knot from his feet and 
flino:ing it at the beast, which vanished into the dark- 
ness with another curdling scream. 

"Don't that man know what fear is T' wondered 
Harry, ignorant that the true mountaineer feels to- 
ward these vociferous felidfe about the same contempt 
with which a plainsman regards a coyote. 

At length Fortner slackened his pace, and began 
to move with caution. • 

" Are we coming upon the enemy again ? " asked 
Harry, in a loud whisper, which had yet a perceptible 
quaver in it. 

" No," answered Fortner, " but we're a-comin' ter 
what is every bit an' grain ez dangersome. Heah's 
whar the path winds round Blacksnake Clift, an' ye'U 
hev ter be ez keerful o' your footin' ez ef ye war 
treadin' the slippaiy ways o' sin. The path's no 
wider 'n a hoss!s back, an' no better ter walk on. On 
the right hand side hit's several rods down ter whar 
the creek's tearin' 'long like a mad dog. Heah hit 
now, can't ye ? '' 

For some time the roar of the torrent sweeping 
the gorire had filled Harry's ears. 

" Ye want ter walk slow,'' continued Fortner, " an' 
feel keerfuUy with yer foot every time afore ye sot 



THROUGH THE xMOUNTAINS AND THE NIGHT. 129 

hit squar'ly down. Keep yer left hand a-feelin' the 
rocks above yer, so'ts ter make shore all the time thet 
ye're close ter 'em. 'Bout half way, thar's a big break 
in the path. Hit's jess a long step acrost hit. Take 
one step arter I say thet I'm acrost ; then feel keer- 
fully with yer left foot fur the aidge o' the break, an' 
then step out ez long ez ye kin with yer right. That'll 
bring ye over. Be shore o' yer feet, an' ye'll be all 
right." 

Harry trembled more than at any time before. 
They were already on the path around the steep cliff. 
The darkness was inky. The roar of the waters be- 
low rose loudly — angrily. The wails of the wildcats 
l)ehind, overhead and in front of them, made it seem 
as if the sighing pines and cedars were inhabited with 
lost spirits shrieking warnings of impending disaster. 

Harry's foot came down upon a boulder which 
tiu-ned under his weight. He regained his balance 
with a start, but the stone toppled over. He listened. 
There were scores of heart-beats before it splashed 
in the water below. 

"Not so much as a twig between here and etern- 
ity," he said to himself, with a shudder. Then aloud : 
" Can't we stay here, some place, and not go along 
there to-night ? " 

The roar of the water drowned his voice before it 
reached Fortner's ears, and Harry, obeying the in- 
stinct to accept leadership, followed the mountaineer 
tremblingly. 

In a little while he felt — more than saw — Fortner 
stop, adjust his feet, and make a long stride forward 
with one of them. Glen collected himself for the 
I 



130 THE RED ACORN. 

same effort. He had need of all his rosolution, for 
the many narrow escapes Avhich he had made from 
slipping into the hungry torrent, had shaken every 
nerve. 

'Tm over," called out Fortucr. "Ye tr}^ hit 
now. " 

Harry balanced his gun so as to embarrass him the 
least, and carefully felt with his left foot for the edge 
of the chasm. The catamount announced his renewed 
presence by a vindictive scream. The clouds parted 
just enough to let through a rift of gray light, but it 
fell not upon the brink of the black gap in the path. 
It showed for an instant the whirlpool, with fragments 
of tree trunks, of ghastly likeness to drowned human 
bodies, eddying dizzily around. 

"Come on," called out Fortner, impatiently. 

Harry stepped out desperately. For a mental 
eternity he hung in air. His hands relaxed and his 
gun dropped with a crash and a splash. Then his 
foot touched the other side with nervous doubtfulness. 
It slipped, and he felt himself falling — falling into 
all that he feared. Fortner grasped his collar with a 
strong hand, and dragged him up against the rocky 
wall of the path. 

"Thar, yer all right," he said, panting with the 
exertion, "but hit wuz a mouty loud call fur ye. 
GabrieFs ho'n could n't 've made a much mo' power- 
ful one." 

"IVe lost my gun," said Harry, regretfully, as 
soon as he could compose himself. 

" Cuss-an'-burn the blasted ole smooth-bore," said 
Fortner, contemptuously. '' Don't waste no tears on 



THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS AND THE NIGHT. 131 

thet ole kick-out-behiud. We'll go "long 'tween Wild- 
cat an' the Ford, an' pick up a wagon-load uv ez good 
shooters ez thet clumsy chunk o' pot-metal wuz. 
Shake yourself together. We've on'y got a mile or 
so ter go now." 

In Harry's condition, the 'Mnile or so" seemed to 
be stretching out a long ways around the globe, and 
he began to ask himself how near he was to the 
much-referred-to "heart of the Southern Confed- 
eracy." 

At length a little fading toward gray of the thick 
blackness, told that they had emerged from the heavy 
woods into more open country. Harry thought they 
were come to fields, but he could see nothing, and 
without remark plodded on painfully after his leader. 

Suddenly a pack of dogs inuuediately in front of 
them broke the stillness with a startling diapason, 
ranging from the deep bass of the mastiff to the ring- 
ing bark of the fox-hounds. Mingled with this was 
the sound of the whole pack rushing fiercely forward. 
Fortncr stopped in his tracks so abruptly that Glen 
stumbled against him. The mountaineer gave the 
peculiar whistle he had uttered at the Ford. The 
rush ceased instantly. The deep growls of the mas- 
tiffs and bull-dogs stopped likewise ; only the hounds 
and the shrill -voiced young dogs continued bark- 
ing. 

The darkness was rent by a long narrow lane of 
light. A door had l)een opened in a tightly-closed 
house, just beyond the dogs. 

" Down, Tige ! Git out, Beauty ! " said Fortner, 
imperiously. '"Lay down, Watch! Quiet, Bruno! 



132 THE RED ACORN. 

The clamors of the gang changed to little yelps of 
welcome. 

"Is that you, Jim?" inquired a high-pitched but 
not unpleasant voice, from the door. 

"Yes, Aunt Debh}^" answered Fortner, "an' I 
hev some one with me." 

As the two approached, surrounded by the fawn- 
ing dogs, a slender, erect woman appeared in the 
doorway, holding above her head, by its nail and 
chain, one of the rude iron lamps common in the 
houses of the South. 

"Everything all right, Aunt Debby ? " asked Fort- 
ner, as, after entering, ho turned from firmly securing 
the door, hy placing across it a strong wooden bar 
that rested in the timbers on either side. 

" Yes, thank God ! " she said with quiet fervor. 
She stepped with graceful freedom over the floor, and 
hung the lamp up by thrusting the nail into a crack 
in one of the logs forming the walls of the room. 
"An' how is hit with ye?" she asked, facing Fort- 
ner, with her large gray eyes eloquent with solicitude. 

"O, ez fur me, I'm jes ez sound ez when I left 
heah last week, 'cept thet Fm tireder "n a plow mule 
at night, an' hongrier nor a b'ar thet's lived all Win- 
ter by suckin' hits paws."* 

''I s'pose y' air tired an' hongry ; ye look hit," 
said the woman, with a compassionate glance at Harry, 
who had sunk limply into a chair before the glowing 
wood-fire that filled up a large part of the end of the 
room. 

"Set down by the fire," she continued, "an' I'll 
git ye some pone an' milk. Thar's nothin' better ter 



THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS AM) THE NIGHT. 1 u3 

start in on when yer rale empty." She went to a 
rude cupboard in the farther part of the room, whence 
the note of colliding crockery soon gave information 
that she was busy. 

Fortner took a bunch of tow from his pouch, and 
with it wiped ofl' every particle of dumi)ness from the 
outside of his rifle, after which he laid the gun on 
two wooden hooks above the fireplace, and hung the 
accoutermcnts on deer hoiTis at its breech. 

" Pull oflF yer shoes an' toast yer feet," he said to 
Harry. " The firell draw the tiredness right out."" 

Harry's relaxed fingers fumbled vainly with the 
wet and obstinate shoe-strings. Aunt Debby came 
up with a large bowl of milk in each hand, and a 
great circular loaf of corn-bread under her arm. She 
placed her burden upon the floor, and with quick, 
deft fingers loosened the stubborn knots without an 
apparent efibrt, drew oflf the muddy shoes and set 
them in a dark corner near the fire]:)lace before Harry 
fan-ly realized that he had let a Avoman do this hum- 
ble office for him. The sight and smell of food 
aroused him from the torpor of intense fatigue, and 
he devoured the homely fare set before him with a 
relish that he had never before felt for victuals. As 
he ate his senses awakened so that he studied his 
hostess with interest. Hair which the advancing 
years, while bleaching to a snowy white had still been 
unable to rob of the curling waves of girlhood, rip- 
pled over a broad white brow, sober but scarcely 
wrinkled ; large, serious but gentle gray eyes, and a 
small, firm mouth, filled with even white teeth were 
the salient features of a face at once resolute, refined 



134 TTT?-: RED ACUKN. 

and womanly. Long, slender hands, small feet, cov- 
ered with coarse but well-fitting shoes, a slight, erect 
figure, sugsrestive of nervous strength, and clad in a 
shapely homespun gown stamped her as a superior 
specimen of the class of mountaineer women to which 
she belonged. 

'' Heah's "nuther pone, honey," she sud to Fort- 
ner, as she handed both of them segments of another 
disk of corn-bread, to replace that which they had 
ravenously devoured. " An' le'me till yer bowls 
agin. Hit takes a powerful sight o' bread an' milk 
ter do when one's rale hongry. But "tain't like meat 
vittels. Ye can't eat 'nuft' ter do ye harm." 

She took from its place behind the rough stones 
that formed the jam of the fireplace a rude broom, 
made by shaving down to near its end long slender 
strips from a stick of pliant green hickory, then turn- 
ing these over the end and confining them by a band 
into an exaggerated mop or brush. With this she 
swept back from the hearth of uneven stones the live 
coals flung out by the fire. 

" Thar's some walnut sticks amongst thet wood," 
she said as she replaced the hearth-broom, " an' they 
pops awful." 

From a pouch-like basket, made of skilfully inter- 
woven hickory strips, and hanging against the wall, 
she took a half-finished stocking and a ball of yarn. 
Drawing a low rocking-chair up into the light, she 
seated herself and began knitting. 

As he neared the last of his second bowl of milk 
Fortner bethought himself, and glanced at Aunt 
Debby. Her work had fallen from her nervous 



THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS AND THE NIGHT. 135 

hands and lay idly in her Jap, while her great eyes 
were fixed hungrily upon him. 

" They've bin fonten over ter Wildcat to-day," he 
said, answering their inquiry, without waiting to 
empty his mouth. 

"Yes, I heared the cannons," she said with such 
gentle voice as made her dialect seem quaint and 
sweet. " I dim up on Bald Rock at the top o' 
the mounting an' lissened. I could see the smoke 
raisin', but I couldn't tell nothin'. Much uv a font ? " 

"Awful big 'un. Biggest 'un sence Buner Vister. 
Ole Zollicoifer pitched his whole army outer Kunnel 
Garrard's rijimint. Some other rijiments cum up ter 
help Kunnel Garrard, an' both sides fit like devils fur 
three or fur hours, an' the dead jess lay in winrows, 
an' " 

The demands of Fortner's unappeased appetite 
here rose superior to his desire to impart information. 
He stopped to munch the last bit of corn-bread and 
drain his bowl to the bottom. 

"Yes," said Aunt Debby, inhospitably disregard- 
ing the exhaustion of the provender, and speaking a 
little more quickly than her wont, " but which side 
whipt ? " 

"Our'n, in course," said Fortner, with nettled sur- 
prise at the question. "Our'n, in course. Old Zol- 
licoflfer got ez bad a lickin' ez ever Gineral Zach Tay- 
lor gi'n the Mexicans. " 

" Rayally ? " she said. Gratification showed itself 
in little lines that coursed about her mouth, and her 
e^^es illumined as when a light shines through a win- 
dow 



136 THE RED ACORN. 

"Yes," answered Fortner. "Like hound:^, and 
run clean ter the Ford, whar they're now a-foiiten an' 
strugglin to git acrost, and drowndin' like so many 
stampeded cattle. " 

'^ Glory ! Thank God ! " said Aunt Dol)l)y. Her 
earnestness expressed itself more by the intensity of 
the tone than its rise. 

"Evidently a tolerable regular attendant at Meth- 
odist camp-meetings," thought Harry, rousing a little 
from the torpor into which he was falling. 

Her faded cheek flushed with a little confusion at 
having suftered this outburst, and picking up her 
knitting she nervously resumed work. 

Fortner looked wistfully at the bottom of his 
emptied bowl. Aunt Debby took it away and speed- 
ily returned with it fille^l. She came back with an 
air of eager exi)ectancy that Fortner would continue 
his narrative. But unsatisfied hunger still dominated 
him, and he had thoughts and mouth only for food. 
She sat down and resumed her knitting with an ap- 
parent effort at composing herself. 

For a full minute the needles clicked industri- 
ously. Then they stopped ; the long, slender fingers 
clenched themselves about the ball of yarn ; she 
faced Fortner, her eyes shining with a less brilliant 
but intenser light. 

"Jim Fortner," she said with low, measured dis- 
tinctness, "why don't ye go on? Is thar somethin' 
thet ye'r afeered ter tell me ? What hez happened 
ter our folks ? Don't flinch from tellin me the wust. 
I'm allers willin' ter bow ter the will o' the Lord 



THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS AND THE NIGHT. 137 

without a murmur. On'y let me know what 
hit is." 

"Why, Aunt Debby, thar hain't been nothin' 
happened ter 'em," said Fortner, deeply surprised. 
"Thar ain't nothin' ter tell ye 'bout 'em. They're all 
safe. They're in Kunnel Garrard's rijimint, ez ye 
know, an' hit fit behind breastworks, an' didn't lose 
nobody, ska.cely — leastwise none uv our kin." 

She rose quickly from her chair. The ball of yarn 
fell from her lap and rolled unheeded toward the 
glowing coals under the forelog. With arms out- 
stretched, hands clasped, and eyes directed upward 
in fervent appeal, there was much to recall that Deb- 
orah from whom she took her name — that prophetess 
and priestess who, standing under the waving palm 
trees of Baal-Tamar, inspired her countrymen to go 
forth and overthrow and destroy their Canaanitish op- 
pressors. 

"O, God!" she said in low, thrilling tones, 
" Thou'st afo retimes gi'n me much ter be thankful 
fur, as well ez much ter dumbly ba'r when Thy rod 
smote me fur reasons thet I couldn't understand. 
Thou knows how gladly I'd've gi'n not on'y my pore, 
nigh-spent life, but also those o' my kinsmen, which 
I prize much higher, fur sech a vict'ry ez this over 
the inimies of Thee an' Thy people. But Thou'st 
gi'n hit free ez Thy marcy, without axin' blood sacri- 
fice from any on us. I kin on'y praise Thee an' Thy 
goodness all my days." 

Fortner rose and li-stened with bowed head while 
she spoke. When she finished he snatched up the 
6* 



138 THE RED ACORN. 

ball of shriveling yarn and qucnclied its smoking 
with his hand. Looking tixedly at this he said softly: 
"Aunt Dehby, honey, I hain't tole ye all yit.'' 

"No, Jim? " 

"No," saitl he, slowly winding: iij) the yarn, ''Ar- 
ter the fouten wuz thru with at the Gap I slipt down 
the mounting, an' come in on the r'ar uv those fel- 
lers, an' me an' this ere man drapt two on 'em." 

"I kinder 'spected ye would do something uv 
thet sort." 

"Then we tuk a short cut an' overtuk 'em agin, 
an' we drapt another." 

Aunt Debby's eyes expressed surprise at this con- 
tinued good fortune. 

"An' then we tuk 'nuthcr short cut, an' saved 
'nuther one." 

Aunt l)ebl)y waited for him to continue. 

"At last — jess ez they come ter the Ford — I seed 
our man," 

"Seed Kunnel Bill Pennington?" The great 
gray eyes were blazing now. 

" Yes." Fortner's speech was the spiritless drawl 
of the mountains, and it had now become so langui<l 
that it seemed doubtful if after the enunciation of 
each word whether vitality enough remained to evolve 
a successor. "Yes," he repeated with a yawn, as he 
stuck the ball of yarn upon the needles and gave the 
whole a toss which landed it in the wall-basket, "an' 
I got him, tew.'' 

" O, just God ! Air ye shore ? " 

"Jess ez shore ez in the last great day thar'll be 



THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS AND THE NIGHT. 139 

some \m settin' in judgment atween him tin' me. I 
wanted him ter be jess ez shore about me. I came 
out in phiin sight, and drawed his attention. He 
knowed me at the fust glimpse, an' pulled his revol- 
ver. I kivered his heart with the sights an' tetcht 
the trigger. I'm sorr}^ now thet I didn't shoot him 
thru the belly, so thet he'd been a week a-dyin' an' 
every minnit he'd remembered what he wuz killed 
fur. But I wuz so afeered thet I would not kill him 
cf I hit him some place else'n the heart — thet's a way 
all pizen varmints hev — thet I didn't da'r rcsk hit. 
I wuz detarmined ter git him, too, ef I had ter foller 
him clean ter Cumberland Ga})." 

"Ye done God's vengeance," said Aunt Debby 
sternly. " An' yit hit wuz very soon ter expect hit." 
She clasped her hantls upon her forehead and rocked 
back and forth, gazing tixedly into the mass of incan- 
descent coals. 

" Hit's gwine to chi'r up ter-morrow," said Fort- 
ner, returning from an inspection of the sky at the 
door. " Le's potter off ter bed," he continued rous- 
ing up Harry. They removed their outer garments 
and crawled into one of the comfortable beds in the 
room. 

Later in the night a shaip pain in one of Harry's 
over-strained legs awoke him out of his deep slum- 
ber, for a few minutes. Aunt Debby was still seated 
before the fire in her chair, rocking back and forth, 
and singing softly : 

" Thy saints in all this glorious war, 
Shall conquer ere they die. 



140 Till': RED ACOUN. 

They see the triumph from afar — 

By f:iith they brina: hit nigh. 
Sure I must sutler ef I would reign ; 

Increase my courage. Lord. 
I'll bear the toil, endiu'e the pain. 

lie went to sleep ao^ain with the sweet strains 
rinfrinfr in his ears, as if in some way a part of the 
marvelous happenings of that most eventful day. 



AUNT DEBBY BRILL. 141 



CHAPTER XII. 

AUNT DEBBY BRILL. 

Beneath the dark waves where the dead go down. 

There are gulfs of night more deep ; 
But little they care, whom the waves once drown. 

How far from the light they sleep, 

And dark though Sorrow's fearful billows be. 

They have caverns darker still. 
O Grod ! that Sorrow's waves were like the sea. 

Whose topmost waters kill. 

— Akoxymous. 

IT was nearly noon when Harry awoke. The awak- 
ening came slowly and with pain. In all his 
previous experiences he had had no hint even of such 
mental and l)odily exhaustion as now oppressed him. 
Every muscle and tendon was aching a bitter com- 
plaint against the strain it had been subjected to the 
day before. Dull, pulseless pain smoldered in some ; 
in others it was the keen throb of the toothache. 
Continued lying in one position was unendurable ; 
changing it, a thrill of anguish ; and the new posture 
as intoleral)le as the tirst. His brain galled and 
twinged as did his botly. To think was as acute pain 
as to use his sinews. Yet he could not help thinking 
any more than he could help turning in bed, though 
to turn was torture. 

Every organ of thought was bruised and sore. 
The fearful events of the day before would continue 
to thrust themselves upon his mind. To put them 



142 THK KF.I) ACORN. 

out retjuired p:iinfiil effort ; to recall and c()nii)rehend 
them was even worse. Reflectins; upon them now, 
with unstrung nerves, made them seem a huntired-fold 
more terrible than when they were the spontaneous 
offspring of hot blood. With the reflection came the 
thoughts that this was but a prelude— an introduction 
— to an intinitely horrible saturnalia of violence and 
blood, through which he was to be hurried until 
released by his own destruction. This became a night- 
mare that threatened to stagnate the blood in his veins. 
He gasped, turned his back to the wall with an effort 
that thrilled him with pain, and opened his eyes. 

Naught that he >a\v reminded him of the preced- 
ing day. Sunny peace and contentment reigned. 
The door stood wide open, and as it faced the south, 
the noonday sun pusfied in — clear to the opposite 
wall — a broad band of mellow light, vividly telling 
of the glory he was shedding where roof nor shade 
checked his genial glow. On the smooth, hard, ashen 
floor, in the center of this bright zone, sat a matrf)nlv 
cat, giving with tongue and paw dainty finishing 
touches to her morning toilet, and watching with ma- 
ternal pride a kittenish game of hide-and-seek on the 
front step. Through the open doorway came the 
self-complacent cackling of hens, celebrating their 
latest additions to their nests, and the exultant call of 
a cock to his feathered harem to come, admire and 
partake of some especially fat worm, which he had 
just unearthed. Farther away speckled Guinea chick- 
ens were clamoring their satisfaction at the improve- 
ment in the weather. Still farther, gentle tinklings 
hinted of peacefully-browsing sheep. 



AUNT DKHBY BRILL. 143 

Inside the house, bunches of sweet-smelting medi- 
cinal herbs, hanging against the walls to dry, made 
the air heavy with their odors. Aunt Debby was at 
work near the bright zone of sun-rays, spinning j^irn 
with a ''big wheel." She held in one hand a long, 
slender roll of carded wool, and in the other a short 
stick, with which she turned the wheel. Setting it to 
whirling with a long sweep of the stick against a 
spoke, she would walk backward while the roll was 
twisted out into a long, thin thread, and then walk for- 
ward as the yarn was wound upon the spindle. When 
she walked backward, the spindle hummed sharply ; 
when she came forward, it droned. There was a 
stately rhythm in both, to which her footsteps and 
graceful sway of body kept time, and all blended har- 
moniously with the camp-meeting melody she was 
softly singing : 

"Jesus, I my cross have taken, 

All to leave and follow Thee ; 
Naked, poor, despised, forsaken, 

Thou from honce my all shalt be. 
Perish every fond ambition — 

All I've sought, or hoped, or known ; 
Yet how rich is my condition — 

God and Heaven still my own." 

A world of memories of a joyous past, unflecked 
by a single one of the miseries of the present, crowded 
in upon Harry on the wings of this well-remembered 
tune. It was a favoritq hymn at the Methodist church 
in Sardis, and the last time he had. heard it was when 
he had accompanied Rachel to the church to attend 
services conducted by a noted evangelist. 

Ah, Rachel ! — what of her ? 



144 THE RED ACORN. 

He had not thought of her «iuce a swift recollec- 
tion of her words at the parting scene on the piazza 
had corae to spur up his faltering resolution, as the 
regiment advanced up the side of Wildcat. Now one 
bitter thought of how useless all that he had gone 
through with the day before was to rehabilitate him- 
self in her good opinion was speedily chased from his 
mind by the still bitterer one of the contempt she 
must feel for him, did she but know of his present 
abject prostration. 

After all, might not the occurrences of yesterday 
be but the memories of a nightmare ? They seemed 
too unreal for i)r()bability. Perhaps he was just recov- 
ering consciousness after the delirium of a fever. 

The walnut sticks in the fireplace popped as 
sharply as pistols, and he trembled from head to foot. 

"Heavens, Fm a "bigger coward than ever," h*e 
said bitterly, and turning himself painfully in bed. he 
fixed his eyes upon the wall. '• 1 was led to believe," 
he continued, "that after 1 had once been under fire, 
I would cease to dread it. Now, it seems to me more 
dreadful than I ever imagined it to be." 

Aunt Debby's wheel hummed and droned still 
louder, but her pleasant tones rode on the cadences 
like an iEolian haip in a rising wind : 

" Man may trouble and distress me, 

'T will but drive me to Thj' breast ; 
Life with trials hard may press me ; 

Heaven will brini; me sweeter rest. 
O, 't is not in grief to harm me, 

"WTiile Thy love is left to me. 
O, 't were not in joy to charm me. 

Were that joy unmixed with Thee." 



AUNT DEBBY BRILL. 145 

He wondered weakly wh}^ there were no monas- 
teries in this land and age, to serve as harbors of ref- 
wge for those who shrank from the tearfulness of war. 

He turned over again wearily, and Aunt Debby, 
looking toward him, encountered his wide-open eyes. 

" Yer awake, air ye? " she said kindly. "Hope I 
did n't disturb you. I wuz tryin' ter make ez little 
noise ez possible." 

"No, you didn't rouse me. It's hard for me to 
sleep in daylight, even when fatigued, as I am." 

" Ef ye want ter git up now," she said, stopping 
the wheel by pressing the stick against a spoke, and 
laying the ''roll" in her hand upon the wheel-head, 
"I'll hev some breakfast fur ye in a jiffy. Ye kin 
rise an' dress while I run down ter the spring arter a 
fresh bucket o' water. " 

She covered her head with a "slat sun-bonnet," 
which she took from a peg in the wall, lifted a cedar 
watei-pail from a shelf supported by other long pegs, 
poured its contents into a large cast-iron teakettle 
swinging over the fire, and whisked out of the door. 
Presently the notes of her hymn mingled in plaintive 
harmony with the sparkling but no sweeter song of a 
robin redbreast, twittering his delight in the warm 
sunshine amid the crimson apples of the tree that 
overhung the spring. 

"Will ye hev a fresh drink?" she asked Harry, 
on her retura. 

He took the gourdful of clear, cool water, which 
she offered him, and drank heartily. 

"Thet hez the name o' bein' the best spring in 
these parts," she said, pleased with his appreciation. 
K 7 



Ht) THE RED ACORN. 

"An' hit's a never-fiiilin' spring, too. WeVe 
plenty o' water the dryest times, when everybody 
else's goes dry. " 

"That is delicious water," said Harry. 

"An' now I'll git ye yer breakfast in a minnit. 
The teakittle's a-bilin', the coffee's ground, the pone's 
done, an' when I fry a little ham, everything will be 
ready.'' 

As her culinary methods and utensils differed 
wholly from anything Harry had ever seen, he studied 
them with an interest sharpened not a little by a 
growing appetite for breakfast. 

The clumsy iron teakettle swung on a hook at the 
end of a chain fastened somewhere in the throat of 
the rhinnu'V. On the rough stones forming the hearth 
were a half-dozen "ovens'' and '•skillets" — circular, 
cast-iron vessels standing on legs, high enough to allow 
a layer of live coals to be placed beneath them. They 
were covered by a lid with a ledge around it, to retain 
the mass of coals heaped on top. The cook's scepter 
was a wooden hook, with which she moved the ket 
ties and ovens and lifted lids, while the relentless tire 
scorched hor arms and face ruddier than a cherry. 

It was a primitive way, and so wasteful of wood 
that it required a tree to furnish fuel enough to pre- 
pare breakfast ; but under the hands of a skillful 
woman those ovens and skillets turned out viands 
with a flavor that no modern appliance can equal. 

The joists of the house were thickly hung with the 
small delicious hams of the country — hams made from 
young and tender hogs, which had lived and fattened 
upon the acorns, fragrant hickory-nuts and dainty 



AUNT DEBBY BRILL. 147 

beechnuts of the abundant "mast'' of the forest, ^ntil 
they were saturated with their delicate, nutty tlavor.* 
This w^as farther enriched by a piquancy gained from 
the smoke of the burning hickory and oak, with which 
tliey were cured, and the absorption of odors from 
the scented herbs in the rooms where they were dry- 
ing. Many have sung the praises of Kentucky's 
horses, whisky and women, but no poet has tuned his 
lyre to the more fruitful theme of Kentucky's mast- 
fed, smoke cured, herb scented hams. For such a 
man waits a crown of enduring bays. 

Slices of this savory ham, fried in a skillet — the 
truth of history forces the reluctant confession that 
the march of progress had not yet brought the grid- 
iron and its virtues to the mountains — a hot pome of 
golden-yellow meal, whose steaming sweetness had 
not been allowed to distill of}', but had been forced 
back into the loaf by the hot oven-lid ; coffee as black 
and strong as the virile infusions which cheer the hearls 
of the true believers in the tents of the Turk, and 
cream from cows that cropped the odorous and juicy 
grasses of mountain meadows, made a l)reakfast that 
could not have been more appetizing if composed hy 
a French c/ief, and garnished by a polyglot bill-of- 
f'are. 

Moved thereto by the hospitable urgings of Aunt 
Debby, and his own appetite, Harry ate heartily. 
Under the influence of the comfortable meal, the 
cheerful sunshine, and the rousing of the energies 
that follow a change from a recumbent to an erect 
posture, his spirits rose to a manlier pitch. As he 
could not walk without pain he took his seat in a 



148 TIIK KKI) WUllS. 

slat-bottomed chair bv tlio side of the hearth, and 
Aunt IVl)hy, knitting in hand, ociupied a low rocker 
nearly opposite. 

"Where's Mr. Fortner?" asked Harry. 

*' Jim got up, arly, an' arter eatin' a snack .said 
he'd go out an' take a look aroinid — mebbe he mout 
go ez fur ez the Ford." 

As if to accompany II;irry's in^tiiu-livc tremor 
over the possibilities attending the resumption ot 
Fortner's prowling aroimd the tlanks of ZoIIieotler's 
army, the fire shot oil' a whole volley of sharp little 
explosions. 

Harry sprang two or throe inelies above his chair, 
then reddeneil violently, and essayed to conceal his 
confusion by assiduoijs attention with the poker to 
the wants of the tire. 

Aunt Debby regarded him witii gentle compas- 
sion. 

'* Yer all shuck up by the happenin's yesterday," 
she said with such tactful sympathy that his sensi- 
tive mettle was not offended. '' 'Tis nateral ye should 
be. Hit's allers so. Folks kin .say what they please, 
but fouten's terril)le tryin' to the narves, no matter 
who does hit. My husband wuz in the Mexican War, 
an' he's offen tole me thet fur weeks arter the battle 
o' Bunor Visty he couldn't heah a twig snap wi th- 
ou ten his heart poppin' right up inter his mouth, an' 
hit wuz so with everybody else, much ez they tried 
ter play off unconsarncd like. '' 

"Ah, really?" said Harry, deeply interested in 
all that concerned this woman, whose remarkable 
qualities were impressing themselves upon his recog- 



AUNT DEBBY BKIIL. 149 

nition. "^Vhat part of tlie army did your husband 
belong to ! " 

'^Howuz in the Kentucky riiriinint ooinnianded 
by Kunncl Ilonry Clay, son o' tlio great IlcnryClay, 
who wuz killed thar. My liusband was promoted to 
a Leftenant fur his brav'ry in the battle. 

''Then this is not your tirst experience with 
war?" 

"No, indeed," said she, wilji just a trace of pride 
swelling in the temple's delicate network of blue 
veins. "The P^)rtners an' the Brills air soljer fami- 
lies, an' ther young men hev shoiddered ther guns 
whenever the country needed fouten-men. Great 
gran'fathers Brill an' Fortner come inter the State 
along with Dan'I Boone nigh outer a hundred years 
ago, and sence then them an' ther descendants hev lit 
Injuns, Brittishers an' Mexikins evr'y time an ininiy 
raised a sword agin the country." 
" Many of them lose their lives? " 
" Yes, ev'ry war hez cost the families some mem- 
ber. Gran'fathers Brill an' Fortner war both on 'em 
killed at the Injun ambush at Blue Licks. I wuz 
on'y a bal)y when my father wuz killed at the massa- 
cre of Winchester's men at the River Raisin. My 

brother " 

•' Father of the man I was with yesterday ? " 
"No; Ills father wuz my oldest brother. My 
youngest brother— the 'baby' o' the family— wuz 
mortally wounded by a copper ])all in the charge on 
the Bishop's Palace at the takin' o' :\Ionterey." 

" And your husband— he went through t4ie war 
safely, did he ? " 



150 THK RED ACORN. 

The ploasant, iiH)l)ilc linos iijion tho woman's faco 
congoalc(l into stony hardness. At the moment of 
Harry's question she was beuinnin*^ to count the 
stitches in her work for some feminine mystery of 
" narrowins: " or "' tiirnini^." She slopjjed, and liands 
and knittiuLT (h-oppi>d into lier lap. 

'•'■ My hiisl)and," she said slowly and bitterly. 
'* wuz spared by the Mcxikins thet he tit, but not by 
his own countrymen an' nei<:hb()rs. alnonir-^t whom 
lie wuz brung up. His blcMxl wuz not poure.l out on 
the soil he invaded, but wuz drunk by the l.-md his 
forefathers an' kinsmen bed died fur. The irodless 
(Jreasers on the Kii-r Grande war kinder ter him nor 
the (1u'!f<ti<in genth'men on the Koekasse!."" 

The intensity and bitterness of the utterance re- 
vealed a long conning of the expression of bitter 
tnitli<. 

" He lost his life, then," said Harry, partially com- 
j)rehending, '* in some of the troubh's around here ^ " 

"He WW/, killecl, bekase he wouldn't helj) break 
down what hit bed cost so nnich ter build up. He 
wuz killed, bekase he thot a jwrc man's life wuth nio'en 
a rich man's nigger. He wuz killed, beka.sc he 
l)"li«ved this whole country belonged ter the men 
who'd tit fur hit an' made hit what hit is, an' thet hit 
wuzn't a plantation fur a i)assel o' slave drivers ter 
boss an' divide up jess ez hit suited 'em." 

" Why, I thought all you Kentuckians were 
-trongly in favor of keeping the negroes in slavery," 
-aid Harry in amazement. 

" Keepin the nigjrers ez .slaves ain't the question 
at all. We folks air ez fur from b.-in' Abolitionista 



AUNT DEBliY BUILL. lol 

ez ennybody. Hit's a battle now witli a lot uv 'risto- 
crats who'd take our rights away." 

"I don't quite understtmd your position," said 
Harry. 

" Hit's bekase ye don't undor-^tand the country. 
The people down heah air divided into three classes. 
Fust thar's the tew ver}' rich tain'lics thet hev bi«j 
farms over in the Blue Grass with lots o' niggers ter 
work 'em. Then thar's the middle class — like the 
Fortners an' the Brills — thet hev small -farms in the 
creek vallies, an' wharever thar's good land on the 
mounting sides ; who hev no niggers, an' who try ter 
lead God-fe.irin', hard-workin' lives, an' support ther 
fam'lies decently. Lastly thar's the pore white 
trash, thet lives 'way up in the hollers an' on the 
wuthless lands about the headwaters. They've little 
patches o' corn ter make ther bieadstufF, an' depend 
on hunt in', fishin', an' stealin' fur the rest o' ther vit- 
tle.s. They've half-a-dozen guns in ever}' ca])in, but 
nary a hoe ; they've more yaller dogs then the rest 
o' us hev sheep, an' they tind hit a good deal handier 
ter kill other folks's hogs than ter raise ther own 
pork." 

"Hardly desirable neighbors, I should think," 
venture<l Harry. 

'• Hit's war all the time between our kind o' peo- 
ple, and them other kinds. Both on 'em hates us 
like pizen, an' on our side — well, Ave air Christians, 
but we recken thet when Christ tole us ter love our 
inimies, an' do good ter them cz despitefully used us, 
he couldn't hev bed no idee how mean people would 
git ter be long arter he left the airth." 



152 THE RED ACORN. 

Harry could not help smiling at this new adapta- 
tion of a Scriptural mandate. 

"The low-down whites hates us bekase we ain't 
mean an' ornery cz they air, an' hold ourselves above 
'em. The big-l)ags hates us bekase we won't knuckle 
down ter 'em, cz ther niggers an' the pore whites do. 
So hit's cat-an'-dog all the time. We don't belong ter 
the same parties, we don't jine the same churches, an' 
thar's more or less trouble a-gwine on batween us an' 
them continnerly." 

" Then when the war broke out you took differ- 
ent sides as usual ? " 

" Of course ! of course! The l)ig nigger-owners 
an' the ornery whites who air jest ez much ther slaves 
ez ef they'd been bot an' paid fur with ther own 
money, became red-hot Secessioners, while our peo- 
ple stuck ter the Union. ' The very old Satan his^'lf 
seemed ter take possession ov 'em, and stir 'em np 
ter do all manner o' cruelty ter conquer us inter jinin' 
in with 'em. The Brills an' Fortncrs hed allers been 
leaders agin the other people, an' now the Rebels 
hissed their white slaves outer our men, ez one sets 
dogs outer steers in the corn. The chief man among 
'em wuz Kunnel Bill Pemiington." 

Harry looked up with a start. 

"Yes, the same one who got his reward yester- 
day," she continued, interpreting the expression of 
of his eyes. " The Penningtons air the richest fam- 
ily this side o' Danville. They an' the Brills an' 
Fortners hev allers been mortal enemies. Thar's 
bin blood shed in ev'ry gineration. Kunnel Bill's 
father limpt ter his grave on 'count of a bullet in his 



AUNT DEBBY BRILL. 153 

hip, which wuz lodged thar soon arter I'd flmicr on 
the floor a ten dollar gold piece he\l crowded inter 
my hand at a dance, where he'd come 'ithout ary in- 
vite. The bullet wuz from the rifle ov a young man 
named David Brill, thet I married the next day, jest 
ez he wuz startin' fur Mexico. He volunteered a 
little airlier then he'd intended, fur his father\s wheat 
wuz not nearly all harvested, but hit wuz thot best 
ter git himself out o' the way o' the Penningtons, 
who wuz a mouty revengeful family, an' besides they 
then hed the law on ther side. Ez soon ez he come 
back from the war Ole Kunnel Bill, an' Young Kun- 
nel Bill, an' all the rest o' the Pennington clan an' 
connection begun watchin' fur a chance ter git even 
with him. The Ole Kunnel used ter vow an' swar 
thet he'd never leave the airth ontil Dave Brill wuz 
under the clods o' the valley. But he hed ter iro last 
year, spite o' hisself, an' leave David Brill 'live an' 
well an' becomin' more an' more lookt up ter cv'rv 
day by the people, while the Penningtons war gittin' 
wuss and wuss hated. We hed a son, too, th^very 
apple of our eyes, who wuz growin' up jest like his 
father " 

The quaver of an ill-repressed sob blun-ed her 
tones. She closed her eyes firmly, as if to choke 
l)ack the brimming tears, and then rising from her 
seat, busied herself brushing the coals and ashes back 
into the fire. 

"Thet walnut pops so awfully," she said, "thet 
a body hez to sweep nearly ev'ry minnit ter keep the 
harth at all clean." 

"The death of his father made no change in the 



15-i THE RED ACOK.V. 

3'ounger Col. Pennington ? He kopt up the quarrol 
the same as ever, did he?" asked Ilarrv, deeply in- 
terested in the narrative. 

" Wussen ever ! Wussen ever ! He got bitterer 
ev'ry day. He hiid liis defeat when he wuz riiii- 
nin' fur the Legislatur at our door. He hired hulii(>s 
ter git inter a quarrel with David, at public gethcr- 
in's, an' kill him in sech a way ez ter hev a plea o' 
self-defense ter cla'r themselves on, but David tuck 
too good keer o' hisself ter git ketched that a-w.iy. 
an' he hurt one o' the bullies so bad thet he niver 
quite got over hit. He an' Kunnel Pennington lev- 
eled ther weepons on each other at a barbecue near 
London last Fall, but the byst:uiders interfered, an' 
prevented bloodshed fur a time." 

" When the war broke out, we never believed hit 
would reach us. Thar mout be trouble in Louisville 
:ind Cincinnati — some even thought hit likely that 
thar would be foutcn' in I^'.xington — but way up in 
the mountings wcM be peaceable an' safe allers. (h\v 
young men formed theirselves inter a company o' 
Home Gyards, an' elected my husband their Capting. 
Kunnel Pennington gathered together 'bout a hundred 
o' the poorest, orneriest shakes on the headwaters, an' 
tuck them oft* ter jine Sidney Johnson, an' ch-ive the 
Yankees 'way from Louisville. Everybody said hit 
wuz the best riddance o' bad rubbish the country 'd 
ever knowed, and when they wuz gone our chances 
fur peace seemed better 'n ever. 

"All the flurry made by ther gwine 'way hed died 
down, an' ez we heered nothin' from 'era, or the war, 



AUNT DEBBY BRILL. 155 

people's niincls got quiet ag'in, an' they sot 'bout hur- 
ryin' up their Spring work. 

''One bright, sweet mornin' in jNIay, I wuz at my 
Avork in the yard with Fortner — thet wuz my son's 
name — tixin' up the kittles ter dye .some 3'ain fur a 
coat fur him. Husband 'd went ter the other side o' 
the hill, whar the new terbacker ground wuz, ter cut 
(Hit some trees that shaded the plants. Tiie skies wuz 
ez bright an' fa'r ez the good Lord ever tnade 'cul I 
could heah the ringin' o' David's ax, ez he chopped 
away, an' hit seemed ter l)e sayin' ter me cheerfully 
all the time : ' Heah I am — hard at work.' Tiie smoke 
from some brush-piles thet he'd sot afire riz up slowly 
an' gently, fur thar wuz no wind a-stirring. The 
birds sung gayly 'bout their work o' nest-buildin\ an' 
I couldn't help singin' about mine. I left the kittles 
fur a minnit ter run down the gyarden walk, ter see 
how my bed o' pinks wuz comin' out, an' I sung 
ez I run. 

"Jest then a passel o' men come stringin' up the 
road ter the bars. They looked like some o' them 
thet Kunnel Pennington tuck 'way with him, but they 
rid better critters then any o' them ever hed, an' they 
were dressed in a sorter soljer-cloze, an' all o' 'em 
toted guns. 

" Something sent a chill ter my very heart the mo- 
ment I laid e\'es on 'em. Hit a'most stopped beatin' 
when I see Kunnel Bill Pennington a little ways be- 
hind 'em, with a feather in his hat, an' sword an' 
pistols in his belt. "When they waited at the bars fur him 
ter come up, I knowed instantly what they were arter. 



156 THE RED ACORN. 

" 'Fortiier/ I said ter ni}' son, trvin"* tor speak cz 
low cz possible; ' Fortner, honey, slip back tlirouirh 
the bushes cz quick ez the Lord '11 let ye, an tell yer 
daddy thet Bill IVnninirton an' his franij air heah arter 
him. Sneak away, but when ye air out o' siirht, run 
fur yer life, honey.' 

"Ho turned tor go, but at that niinnil Bill Pen- 
nington shouted out : 

" ' Stop thar ! Don't ye send thet boy away ! Ef 
he moves a stop. I'll i)ut a bullet throuirh his brain ! ' 
Fortner would *ve run in spite o' him. but I wuz so 
skeered fur him thet I jumped ter his side an' kctched 
his arm. 

" ' K('(>p (juict, honey.' I >aid. * Likely they won't 
tind yer daddy at all.' 

"Vain hope I Kz I spoke, the sound o' David's a.\ 
rung out clearly and steadily. The cannons at Wild- 
cat, yesterday, didn't sound no louder ter mo. I could 
even tell thet he wuz choppin' a beech tree. The 
licks was oz a-sharp an' ringin' ez ef the ax struck iron. 

"Bill Pennington lit offen liis beast, an' walked 
toward me, with his sword a clatterin' an' his spurs u- 
jinglin'. 

'"Whar's that Yankeefied scalawag of a husband 
o' your'n ? Whar's Dave Brill ( ' he said savagely. 

"Hit seemed ter me thet every stroke from over the 
hill said ez plainly ez tongue could utter words : ' Heah 
lam. Come over heah! ' I tried ter gain time ter 
think o' something. 

" 'He started this mornin' on Roan ^loUy for Mt. 
Venion, to 'tend court,' I said, knowiu' thet I didn't 
dare hesitate ter make up a story. 



AUNT DERBY HRILL. 157 

"Kunnel, thet air's a lie,' said Jake Johnson, who 
knowed us, ' Thar's Dave Brill's Roan Molly over 
thar, in the pasture.' 

" An' this hain't coui't-day in Mt. Vernon, neither/ 
said another. 

" 'I know your husband's on the place. I wuz 
tole so this mornin',' said Kunnel Bill. 'Hit '11 be 
much better fur ye, ef ye tell me whar he is. Hit '11 
at least save yer house from bcin' sot afire.' 

"Rino^! rini? ! went David's ax, ez ef hit war a 
trumpet, shoutin' ter the whole world : ' Hcah I am. 
Come over heah ! ' 

" 'Ye kin burn our house ef yer thet big a villain,' 
I said ; ' but I can't tell ye no different.' 

"'Kunnel, thet's him a-choppin' over thar,' said 
Jake Johnson. ' I know he's cl'ared some new ground 
fur terbackcr on thet air hill-side.' 

"'I believe hit is,' said Kunnol Bill, listenin' a 
minnit, 'Parker, yean' Haygood go over thar an' 
git him, while some o' the rest o' ye look 'bout the 
stable an' fodder-stack thar. Mind my orders, an' 
see thet they air carried out. ' 

"His manner made me fear everything. A thought 
flashed inter my mind. Thar wuz thet horn thar." — 
Harry followed her eyes with his, and saw hanging 
on hooks against the wall one of the long tin horns, 
used in the South to call the men-folks of the farms to 
their meals. It was crushed and battered to useless- 
ness. — "I thought I'd blow hit an' attract his atten- 
tion. He mout then see them a comin' an' git away. 
I ran inter the house an' snatched the horn down, 
but afore I could put hit ter my lips, Bill Pen- 



158 TIM-: RED ACOltX. 

nington jerked hit 'way from nu\ an' stamped on 
hit. 

" ' Deb Brill,' said he, with a mortally liati't'ul look, 
' ver peart an' sassy an' hold, an' hev allcrs heen so, 
an' so 's yer Yankeetied hu>hand. Ye'vc hed yer own 
way ofl'en — too otfen. Now I'll iiev mine, an' wipe 
out some lon«r-stan<lin' scores. Davo l^rill hv/. eappt'd 
a lifetime o' |>lairiK' an' distiirhaner t( r lii«. hcttcrs, hy 
Ix'comin' a traitor to his country, an* indiu-in' others 
ter he traitors. He must he quieted. Come out an' 
listrn.' 

'• He pulltMl mr out inter the yard. D.ivr wuz still 
choppin' away. F'ur nearly every day fin niLdi thirty 
years, the .soun«l o' his ax hed heen music in my ear.'*. 
I had larned to know hit, even afore we wuz lovers, 
fur his father's land jinrd my father's, an' liit seems 
ter me thet I could tell the note o' his ax from thet o' 
everybody else, a'most ez airly ez I could tell a rob- 
in's sons: from a blackbird's. Girl, woman, wife an' 
mother, I hed listened to hit while I knit, wove, or 
spun, every stroke minirliiv with the sounds o' my 
wheel or loom an' the sonir o' the birds, an' tcllin' me 
whar he wuz, an' thet he wuz toilin' cheerfully tur me 
an' mine. 

'* Now, fur the fust time in all these years, hits 
steady stroni^ beat ])rought mis'r}' ter my ears. Hit 
wiiz ez the toilin' of bell fur some one not yit dead. 
My heart o'ny beat ez fast ez he chopped. Hit would 
give a great jump when the sound o' the blow reached 
me, an' then stand still until the next one came. 

"At last came a long — O, so long pause. 

" 'They've got thar,' said Bill Pennington, cranin' 



AUNT DKBHY BRILL. 159 

forward his bead ter ketch the fust sound. ' He's 
seed 'em, an' is tryin' ter git 'way. But he kin never 
do hit. I know the men I sent ter do the job." 

''Two ritie shots sounded a'most together, an' then 
immediately arter wuz a couple o' boastful Injun-like 
yells. 

" 'Thar, Deb, heah thet i Ye'r a widder now. Bo 
thankful thet I let ye oti' so easy. I ought by rights 
ter l)urn yer house, an' put thet boy o' your'n wliar 
he'll do no harm But this'll do fur an' example ter 
these mounting traitors. They've lost ther leader, an' 
ther hain't no one ter take his place. They'll know 
now thet we're in dead airnest. Boys, go inter the 
house an' crit all the guns thar is thar, an' what vittles 
an' blankets ye want ; but make haste, fur we must 
git away from heah in a hurry.' 

" I run ez fast ez my feet'd cai'ry me to whar 
David lay stone dead. Fortner saddled his colt an' 
galloped otf ter his cousin Jim Fortner's, ter rouse 
the Home Gyard. The colt reached Jim's house, bc- 
kase hits mammy wuz thar ; but my son never did. 
In takin' the siiortest road, he bed ter cross the dan- 
gerousest ford on the Kockassel. The young beast 
wuz skeered nigh ter death, an' hits rider wuz 
drowned." 



160 THE UED ACORN. 



CHAPTER Xin. 



This kind o' Mjerin' ain't a mite like onr October tratnln', 

A chap could clear rigbl oat from tbcre, cf li only looked like ralnln'; 

And the Cunneln. loo, could klrer up their •liappo«ii with handanncra, 

An' send the Inilnes nkoutln* to the barroom, with their hanncn, 

(Fear u'Klttln' un 'em •putted.) an' a feller could cry quarter 

Ef he Ored away hi* ramrod arter tu much rum an' water. 

— JaM«» KlKSILL Lo\«-KLL. 

rj^IIK inoininL' iiftcr llio Imttlc, Kt'iit Kthvards was 
-L strollinir .'iround tlio cnni]) at Wildcat. '* Sliadcs 
of my hot throated ancestors who swallowed several 
fine farms by the tunTl)lerfiil, liow thirsty I am !" he 
said at lencrth. ''It's no wonder these Kentuckians 
are such hard drinkers. There's soniethinfr in the 
atinospluM-e that makes me drier the fartlu-r we ad- 
vance into the State. Maybe the pursuit of jrhny 
has somethins: desiccatinir in it. At least, all the war- 
riors I ever heard of seemed composed of cla}' that 
required as much moistenin*^ a-s unslaked lime. I will 
hie me to the hill of frankincense and the mountain 
of myrrh ; in other wonls, I'll po back where Abe is, 
and ir<*t what's left in the canteen." 

He found his saturnine comrade sittin*! on a log 
by a comfortable fire, restoring buttons which, like 
soldiers, had become ''missing b}' reason of exigen- 
cies of the campaign." 

The temptation to believe that inanimate matter 



AN APPLE JACK RAID. 161 

can be actuated by obstinate malice is almost irresist- 
ible when one has to do with the long skeins of black 
thread which the soldiers use for their sewing. These 
skeins resolve themselves, upon the pulling of the 
first thread, into bunches of entanglement more hope- 
lessly perverse than the Gordian knot, or the snarls in 
a child's hair. To the inexperienced victim, desirous 
of securing the wherewithal to sew a button on, nothing 
seems easier than to pull a thread out of the bunch of 
loose filament that lies before him. Rash man ! Tliat 
simple mesh hatii a baffling ])()wer like unto theLahy- 
rinth of Arsin"', and long labor of fingers and teelli, 
aided by heated and improper language, fre(iuenlly 
fails to extract so much as a half foot of thread. 

Abe had stuck his needle down into the log beside 
him Near, were the buttons he had fished out of his 
pocket, and he was laboring with clumsy fingers and 
rising temper at an obdurate bun«'h of thread. 

"I've been round looking over the field," said 
Kent, as he came up. 

A contemptuous snort answered him. 

" You ought to've been along. I saw a great 
many interesting things." 

" O, yes. I s'po.se. Awful interesting. Lot o' 
dead men hiying around in the mud. 'Bout as inter- 
esting. I .should say, as a .spell o' setting on a Coron- 
er's jury. The things you find interesting would 
bore anybody' else to death." 

Abe gave the obstinate clump a savage twitch, 
which only made its knots more rebellious, and he 
looked as if strongly tempted to throw it into the 
tire. 

L 7* 



162 THE RED AOORN. 

"Don't do it, Alx'," said Kont, with a laugh that 
irritated Abe worse still. 'Thread's thread, out 
here, H hundred miles from nowhere. You don't 
know where you'll get any more. Save it — my dear 
fellow — save it. Perchance you may yet sweetly be- 
guile many an hour of your elegant leisure in unrav- 
eling its fantastic convolutions with your taper lingers, 
and " 

" Lord I Lord ! " said Al)e with an expression of 
deep weariness, but without l(M)king in Kent'> direc- 
tion " who's pulled the string o' that clack-mill and 
set it to going i ^^'hon it gets started once it rolls 
out big wonls like punkins dropping out o' the tail 
of a wagon going up hill. And there's no way o' 
stopping it, either. You've just got to wait till it 
runs down." 

"The Proverbs .say so littingly that ' A fool de- 
lighteth not in wise instruction,*" sjiid Kent, as he 
stepped around to the other side of the fire. His foot 
fell upon a projecting twig, the other end of which 
flew up and landed a very hot coal on the back of 
Alx''s hand. Abe's action followed that of the twig. 
in the suddenness of his upspringing. He imrled an 
oath and a firebrand at his comrade. 

"This is really becoming domestic," said Kent as 
he laughingly dodged. "The gentle amenities could 
not cluster more thickly around our fireside, even if 
we were married." 

When Abe resumed his seat he did not come down 
exactly upon the spot from which he had arisen. It 
was a little farther to the right, where he had .-tuck 
the needle. He had tori:otten all about it, but he 



AX APPLE JACK RAID. 163 

rose with a howl when it keenly rciiiindod him that 
like the star-spangled banner, it "was still there."" 

" Don't rise on my aceount, I beg," said Kent 
with a deprecatory wave of the hand, as he hurried 
off to where he could laugh with safety. A saucy 
drummer-boy, who neglected this precaution, re- 
ceived a cuff from Abe's heavy hand that thrilled the 
rest of the drum-corps with delight. 

When Abe's wrath sub^idecl from this ebullient 
stage back to its customary one of simmer, Kent ven- 
tured to return. 

" Say," said he. pulling over the coats and blankets 
near the fire, " where's that canteen ? " 

"Tiiere it is by the cups. Can't you see it? If 
it was a snake it'd bite you." 

" It's done that already, several times, or rather 
its contents have. You know what the lVil)le says, 
' Riteth like a .serpent and stingeth like an adder ? ' 
Ah, here it is. But gloomy forebodings .seize me : 
it is su.spiciously light. Parado.xically, its lightness 
induces gravity in me. Hut that pun is entirely too 
fine-drawn for camp atmosphere." 

He shook the canteen near his ear. ''Alas! no 
gurgle responds to my fond caresses — 

Canteen, Mavourneen, O, why art thou silent, 
Thou voice of my heart? 

It is — woe is me — it is empty." 

"Of course it is — you were the last one at it." 
"I hurl that foul imputation back into thy teeth, 

base knave. Thou thyself art a very daughter of a 

horse-leech with a canteen of whisky." 



164 THE KKI) .V'OKN. 

Abe looked at him inquiringly. ''You mu^^tVe 
found .some, some place," he said, "or you wouldn't 
be .so awful glib. It\s taken 'bout half-a-pint to 
loosen your tongue so that it'd run this way. I know 
you." 

"No, I've not found a spoonful. The eloquence 
of thii-st is the only inspiration I have at present. I 
fain would stay its cravings by (piaffing a beaker of 
mountain-distilled hair-curler. Mayhap this humble 
receptacle contains yet a few drops which escaped thy 
ravenous thirst." 

Kent turned the (•ant«'en upside down. an<l place<| 
its mouth upon iii- tongue. "No," 1h> said, with 
deep dejection, "all that delicious lluid of yesterday, 
is now like the Father of his Country." 

" Eh i " .said Abe, puzzled. 

" Hecause it is no more —it is no more. It be- 
longs to the unreturning pa>t." 

" I say," he continued after a moment's pause. 
" let's go out and hunt for some. There nmst be 
plenty in this neighborhood. Nature never makes a 
want without providing .something to supply it. 
Therefore, judging from my thirst, tiiis comitry ought 
to be full of distilleries." 

They buckled on their i)elt.s. picked up their guns 
and started out, directing their .steps to the front. 

In spite of the sunshine the walk through the bat- 
tle-field was (lepressing. A chafing wind fretted 
through the naked limbs of the oaks and che>tnuts, 
and drew moans from the pines and the hemlocks. 
The brown, dead leaves rustled into little tawny 
hillocks, behind protecting logs and rocks. Fre- 



AN APPLE JACK RAID. 165 

quently these took on the shape of long, narrow 
mounds as if they covered the graves of some ill- 
fated l)eing. who like themselves, had fallen to the 
earth to rot in dull ol)scurit y. The clear little streams 
tiiat in Sunnner-tinu' murmured musically down the 
slopes, under can()})ies of nodding roses and fragrant 
sweet-hrier, were now turbid torrents, brawling like 
churls drunken with nnich wine, and tearing out with 
savage wantonness their banks, matted with the roots 
of the blue violets, and the white-tlowered puccoon. 

Scattered over the mountain-side were fatigue- 
parties engaged in hunting uj) the dead, and burying 
them in slialiow graves, hastily dug in clay so red 
that it seemed as if saturated with the blood shetl the 
day before. The buriers thrust their hands into the 
pockets of the dead with the flinching, jiauseated air 
of men touching tilth, and took from the garments 
seeping with water and l)lo()d, watches, letters, ani- 
brotypes, money and trinkets, some of which they 
studied to gain a clue to the dead man's identity, 
some retained as souvenirs, but threw the most back 
into the grave with an air of loathing. The faces of 
the dead with their staring eyes and open mouths and 
long, lank hair, cloyed with the sand and nuid thrown 
up i)y the beating rain, looked indescribal)ly repul- 
sive. 

The buriers found it better to begin their work by 
covering the features witli a cap or a broad brinuned 
hat. It was difficult for the coarsest of them to fling 
a .spadeful of dank clay directl}- upon the wide-open 
eyes and seemingly-speaking mouth. 

"Those fellows' souls," said Kent, regardini; tlie 



166 Tni: kkd acorn. 

coipses, " seem to have left their earthly houses in 
sueli haste that they forgot to close the doors and 
windows after them. Somewhere I have read of a 
.superstition that bodily tenements left in this way 
were liable to be entered and <»ecu{)ied by evil spirits, 
and from thi< rose the eustom of piously closiiii: the 
eyes and moullis of deceased friends." 

'"Nowoi-se spirit's likely to get into them than 
was shot out of 'em," growled Abe *' A Kebel w ith 
a gun is as bad an evil spirit as I everexju'ct to meet. 
But let's go on. It's another kind of an evil spirit 
that we are interested in just now — one that'll enter 
into an<l occupy our em|)ty canteen." 

''You're right. It's the enemy that my friend 
Shakspere says we * put into our m«>uths to steal 
away our l)rains.' By the way, what a weary hunt 
lie must have in your cranium for a load worth steal- 
ing." 

"There goes that clack-mill again. Great Ctesar I 
if the boys only had legs as active a.s your tongue 
what a racer the regiment would Iw I Cavalry 'd be 
nowhere." 

Toward the foot of the mountain their path led 
them across a noi.sy, swollen little creek, whose over- 
sowing waters were dyed deeply red and yellow by 
the load of hill clay they were carrying awa}' in their 
headlong haste. A little to the left lay a corpse of 
more striking appearance than any they had ^et seen. 
It was that of a tall, slender, gi'acefully formed young 
man, clad in an officer's uniform of rich gray cloth, 
lavishly ornamented with gilt buttons and gold lace. 
The features were strouir. but delicatelv cut, and the 



AN APPLE JACK RAID. 167 

(lark skin smooth and fine textured. One shapely 
hand still clasped the hilt of a richly ornamented 
sword, with which he had evidently been directing 
his men, and his staring gray eyes seemed yet filled 
with the anger of battle. A bullet had reached him 
as he stood upon a little knoll, striving to stay the 
headlong flight. Falling backward his head touched 
the edge of the swift running water, which was now 
tilling his long, black locks with slimy sediment. 

'^The ounce o'l<>ad that done that piece o' work," 
said Abe, '" was better'n a horseload o' gold. A few 
more used with as good judgment would bring the 
rebellion to an end in short meter." 

"Yes," answered Kent, "he's one of the Chiv- 
alry ; one of the main props ; one of the fellows who 
are trying to bring about Secession in the hopes of 
being Dukes, or Marquises, or Earls — High Keepers 
of Ilis Majesty Jetf. Davis's China Spittoons, or 
(irand Custodians of the Prince of South Carolina's 
IMug Tol)acco, when the Southern ('onfederac}- gains 
its independence." 

'• Well," said Abe, raising the Rebel's hat on the 
point of his bayonet, and laying it across the corpse's 
face, "• he's changed bosses much sooner than he ex- 
pected. JeflJ". Davis's blood-relation, who presides 
over the Sulphur Confederacy, will j)ut on his shoul- 
der-straps with a branding-iron, and serve up his 
rations for him red-hot. I only wish he had more 
going along with him to keep him company." 

" Save your feelings against the Secessionists for 
expression with your gun in the next fight, and come 
I'long. I'm getting thirstier every minute." 



168 THK KKD ACORN. 

Thoy walked on rapidly for a couple or three 
hours, without tinding much ciicourageiiient in tlicir 
search. The rugged mountain sides were hut thinly 
peoi)led, and the^ few poor cabins they saw in the ths- 
tance they decided were not promising enough of 
results to justify clamhering up to where they were 
perched. At la.st, almo>t wearied out, tiiey halted 
for a little while to rest and scan the interminahle 
waves of summits that stretched out U'tore tln-m. 

''Ah/ said Kent, rising suddenly, "let's go on. 
Hopo dawns at last. I .-^mell apples. That's a i>er- 
fiune my nose never mistakes. We're near an or- 
chard. Where there's an orchard there's likrly to 
be a pretty good style of a house, and where in Ken- 
tucky there's a good style of a house there's a likeli- 
hood of being plenty of goo<l whisky. Now there's 
a train of brilliant indintive reasoning that shows 
that nature intended me to 1k» a great natural philos- 
opher. Come on, Abo."" 

The smell of apples certainly did grow more pal- 
pable as they proc«'eded, and Abe nuittered that even 
if they did not get any thing to drink they would 
probably get enough of the fruit to make an agree- 
alile change in their diet. 

They emerged from the woods into a cleared space 
where a number of roads and paths focused. To the 
right was a little opening in the mountain-side, hardly 
large enough to be called a valley, but designated in 
the language of the region as a ''hollow." At its 
mouth stood a couple of diminutive log-cabins, of the 
rudest possible con-strnction. and I'oofed with ''claj> 
Iwards" hcKl in plac«- by stones and poles. A long 



AN APPLK JACK IIAID. 169 

siring of wooden troughs, supported upon props, con- 
ducted the water from an elevated spring to the roof 
of one of the cabins, and the water could be seen 
issuing again from underneath the logs at one side of 
the cal)in. A very primitive cider mill — two wooden 
rollers fastened in a frame, and moved by a long sap- 
ling sweep attached to one of them — stood near. The 
ground was covered with rotting apple pomace, from 
which arose the odor that had reached Kent's nc)st>. 

"Hello!" said the latter, "here's luck; here's 
richness ! We've succeeded beyond our most sanguine 
expectations, as the boy said, who ran away from 
school to catch minnows, and caught a ducking, a bad 
cold ixnd a licking. We've struck an apple-jack dis- 
tillery, and as they've been at work lately, they've 
])robably left enough somewhere to give us all that 
we can drink." 

Abe's sigh was ehxpient of a disbelief that such a 
consunnnation was j)ossible, short of the blissful here- 
after. 

Inside of one of the cabins they touiid a still nboiit 
the size of ti tub, with a worm of similar >m.ill pro 
portions, kept cool by the flow from the spring. 
Some tubs and barrels, in which the lees of cider 
were rapidly turning to vinegar, gave off a fruity, 
spirituous odor, but for awhile their eager search did 
not discover a bit of the distilled product. At last, 
Kent, with a cry of triumph, dragged from a place of 
cunning concealment a small jug, stopped with a corn- 
cob, lie smelled it hungrily. 

•' Yes, here is some. It's apple-jack, not a week 
old, and as rank as a Maj(n- General. Phew! I can* 
8 



170 TlIK HKI) ACOKN'. 

siiicll every stick they hiirned to distil it. Abe, watch 
me closely while I drink. I luaLnianimonsly take the 
lead, out of consideration for you. If 1 ain't dead in 
five minult!s, you try it." 

'*(), stop nionki'yini:, and drink." wa< the impa- 
tient an.-wer. 

Kent put tin* Jiiir to ins mouth and took a lonir 
drau«;ht. " Shade of old Fatiier Noah, tiie Hr>t 
tlrunkard," he said as he wiped th»' t«'ars from his 
eyes, " another swip like that woulil pull out all the 
rivets in my internal pipinirs. Heavens I it went 
down like pulling a eat out o( i\ hole hy the tail. Vm 
afraid to wip«' my mouth, lest my l)n alh l)urn a hole 
in the sleeve of my hloiise." 

Three-ipiarters of nn hour later, the spirits in the 
juu were lowerin<? and those in the men risin*; with 
unetpial rapitlity. L'nder the influence of the ticry 
stimulant, Kent's sjmiruine temp<'rament Imiled .and 
huhhied over. Imairination jiainted the j)resent and 
future in hues of dazzlinfj radi.inee. KverythiiiL' was 
as delijrhtful as it could be now, and would become 
more channing as time rolled on. But with Al>c 
lV)lton drinkiniT tended to develop moroseness into 
.savagi'ry. 

" Ah, comfort me with apple-jack, and stay me 
with rtaiions of it," .said Kent Kdwards, settin*: down 
the juir with the circums|>ection of a man not yet too 
drunk to suspect that he is losin^r exact control of his 
less and arms. "That gets l^etter the deejier down 
you pro. First it was like swallowing a chestnut bur ; 
now, old baud-made Bourlxju couldn't Ixj smoother.'' 



AN APPLE JACK RAID. 171 

"A man can get used to a'most anything," said 
Bolton. 

'' I get gladder every day, AIh', that I came into 
the army. I woulihrt liave missed all this experience 
for the tinest farm in the Miami Valley. 

' 'T were worth ten yt'ftrs of peaceful life, 
To soKliiT half a day.' 

Sir Walter Scott says — as I improve him."" 

'•'Specially one of them soaking days when we 
were marching through the nnid to Wildcat." 

*' O, those were just thrown in to make us appre- 
ciate good weather when we have it. Otherwise we 
wouldn't. You know what Ihe song says : 

' For Spring would be but gloomy weather, 
If we had nothing el.se but Spring.' " 

"Well, for n)y part, one o' them days was enough 
to p'i>on six months o' sunshine. I declare, J htliovt' 
I'll feel mildewed for the rest of my life. 1 know if 
I pulled ofl' my cU)thes you could .scrape the green 
mold otf of my back.'' 

'• And I'm sure that if we'd had the whole army to 
pick from, we couldn't 've got in with a better lot of 
boys and ofHcers. Every one of them \s true blue, 
and a man all the way through. It's the best regi- 
ment in the army, and our company's the best comi)a- 
ny in the regiment, and I flatter myself the company 
has n't got two other as good men us we are." 

" Your modesty '11 ruin you yet, Kent," said Abe, 
sardonically. "It's very painful to see a man going 



172 THF. RED ACORN. 

'ioiiikI nndorratinir liinisolf, as you do. If I could 
only got you to liavo a propcM- opinion of yourself — 
that is, believe tliat you are a bipirer man tban General 
Scott or George H. McClelian. I'd iiave some hopes 
of you."' 

'• We'll have one grand, big battle with the Seces- 
sionists now, pretty soon everything's getting ripe 
for it— and we'll whij) them like WcIlinLrton whijjped 
.\ajx)leon at Waterloo. Our regiment will cover it.self 
with glory, in which you and I will have a big shan*. 
Then we'll march back to Sardis with flags flying and 
drums beating, everylxxly turning out, and the bands 
l)laying ' See, the Concjuering Hero Comes.' when you 
and I come down the stnM't, and we'll be heroes for 
the rest of our natural livt-s." 

"Go ahead, and trll the rest of it to the mash-tub^ 
and tli<> -till. I've heanhas much as I can stand, and I 
must have a breath of fresh air. I'm going into the 
other cabin, to see what 's thore." 

Kent t'ollowiMl him to the door, with tiie Juir in his 
hand. 

"Kent, there's a man coming down that path 
there," .said Abe. pulling himself together, after the 
manner of a halfnlrunken man whose attention la pow- 
erfully attracted. 

"Where?" a.sked Kent, .setting the jug down 
with .solicitous gentleness, and reaching back for his 
musket. 

"There, by that big chestnut. Can't you .see 
him { or have you got so much whisky in you, that 
you can't see anything ? lie's in Rebel clothes, and 
he's got a gun. I'm going to shoot him." 



AN APPLK .TACK RAID. 173 

** Maybe he's one of these loyal Kentuckians. 
Hold on a minute, till you are sure," said Kent, half 
cockinir his own gun. 

"The last words of General Washinixton were 
' Never, trust a nigger with a gun/ A man witli that 
kind o' cloze has no business carrying weapons around 
in this country. I'm going to shoot." 

"If you shoot with your hands wobbling lliat 
way, you'll make him as full of holes as a skimmer. 
That 'd be cruel. Steady yourself up a little, while I 
talk to him. 

'• Halt, tliere I " comiuandtMl Kent, with a lliick 
tongue. "Who are you, and how many are with 
you ( " 

" Tm a rnioii man," said Fortner, for it was he, 
"an' I'm alone." 

" Lay down your gun and come uj) here, if you 
are a friend," ordered Kent. 

The swaggering impcriousness in Ivlwards's lone 
nettled Fortner as much as the order itself. " I don't 
make a practice of layin' down my gun fur no 
man," he said proudly. "I'm ez good Union ez ary 
of you 'uns dar be, an' I don't take no orders from ye. 
I could've killed ye both, ef I'd a-wanted ter, afore 3'e 
ever seed me." 

Bolton's gun cracked, and the Ixdlei })nried itself 
in the thick, soft bark of the chestnut, just above 
Fortner's head, and threw dust and chips in his eyes. 
He bru>^hed them away angrily, and instinctively 
raised his rifle. Kent took this as his cue to fire, but 
his aim was even worse than A])e's. 

"Ruined again by strong drink," Ik; muttered 



1 (4 TIIF- REP \roHN. 

despairin«rly, as he saw \\\o failure of hi- shot. 
" Xotliinix l)iit now apph^jack could make inc miss so 
fair a mark." 

*' Now, yo tVlh'is, hiy down //">/>' «nins ! " shouted 
Fortnor, sprinirin;,' forward to wlioro tliey .vcre. with 
his ritle co('k«'d. '* Lay 'om down I I say. Lay '»in 
down, or I'll let tlayliillit throiiLrh y<' ! " 

" Ilf 's jjot us, A I K'." said Kent, layini/ down his 
musket reluctantly. Ills example was followe<l hy 
Abe. who, however, did not place his irun so far that 
he couM not readily pick it up aL'ain, if Fortner «rave 
him an instant's opportunity. Fortner noticed this, 
and pu.shed the musket farther away with his foot, 
.<till covering the two with \\h rifle. 

"Ye sec now," he said, **thet I hev ye at my 
marcy, ef I wanted ti'i; kill or captun' ye. Kf I «:in 
ye hack yer jjuns, ye'll a«lmit thet Fm ycr fri<*nd, and 
not y<M- inimy. won't y<> f " 

'• It '11 certainly look like an overture to a perma- 
niMit and disintei*ested friendship," said Kent, hright- 
cninir up ; and Alx", who was gatherinir himself up 
for a spring to catch Fortner's rifle, let his nniscles 
rcia.x again. 

••Well, ye kin take up yer guns agin and load 
cm." said Fortner, letting down the hammer of his 
ritle. •' I'm Jim Fortner. supposed ter be the pizen- 
est Union man on the Rocka-ssel I Come along ter 
my house, an' I'll gin ye a good meal o' vittels. Hit's 
on'y a little piece off, an' I 've got thar one of yer 
fellers. His name 's Harry Glen. 



Df THE HOSPITAL- 175 



CHAPTER XIV. 

IN THE HOSPITAL. 

Am the tall uhlp wIiom lofty prora 
Slull never (tern the blUowa mora 
Deserted by her Ksllant band. 
Amid the breakers lies ast rand- 
Bo on hl» couch lay Khud.rlck Dhn. 
And oft his fevered limbs ho threw 
In toss abrupt, as when hi^r sides 
Lie rcK.-kln){ In the advnnchiK tide*. 
That shake lier frame with ceaseless beat, 
Vet c n not heave her from her seat ; — 
O, how unlike her cours*' on sea! 
Or his free step on hill and lea!— i>idy if the Lakt. 

AN Army Hospital is tiio vestibule of the Ceme- 
tery — the anteroom where the reeruiting-agents 
of Death — Wounds and Disease — assemble their con- 
scripts to prepare them for the ranks from which there 
is neither desertion nor discharge. Therein enter 
those who are to lay aside "this muddy vesture of 
decay," for the changeless garb of the Beyond. 
Thither troop the Wasted and Stricken to rest a little, 
and prepare for the last great journey, the lirst mile- 
stone of which is placed over their heads. 

Humanity and Science have done much for the 
Army Hospital, but still its swinging doors wave 
two to the tomb wliere they return one to health and 
activity. 

It was a broiling hot day when Rachel Bond 
descended from the ambulance which had brought 
her from the station to camp. 



17^1 THE RKD ACORN. 

She shielded her eyes with a palm-leaf fan, and 
surveyed the surroundings of the post of duty to 
which she had been assi«xnod. She found herself in 
a little city of r()U<j:ii plank hainuks. arranired in troo- 
nu'trically correct streets and anirlcs alxmt a jrreal 
plain of a parade ^.fround, from which tlic heat radi- 
ated as from a irlowini^ stove. A flag dro()j)ed as if 
wilted from thr top of a tall pole standing on the 
side of the parade-ground opposite her. Languidly 
pacing in front of the Colonel's tent was an Orderly, 
who had l)een seh'ctcd in the morning for his spruce 
neatne-^s, hut who now looked like some enormous 
l)luc vegetahle. rapidly witliering imder tlie sim's 
blistering rays. 

I^n'ontl were tiie barracks, baking and sweltering, 
cracking their rough, unpainted sides into yawning 
fi.s.sures. and tilling the smotheriniz air with resinous 
odors distilled from the fat knots in the refuse plank- 
ing of which they were built. Heyond these was the 
line of campguards — bright gun barrels and bayo- 
nets glistening painfully, and tho.se who bore them 
walking wjth as weary .slowness as was consistent 
with any motion whatever, along their boMts. 

On straw in the oven-like barracks, and under the 
few trct's in the camp-ground, lay the flushed and 
panting soldiers, waiting wearily for that relief which 
the descending sun would bring. 

Tlie hospital to which Riichel had been brought 
differed from the rest of the sheds in the camp by 
being whitewa.shed within and without, which made 
it radiate a still more unendurable heat than its 
duller-lustered companions. A powerful odor of chlo- 



IN THE HOSPITAL. 177 

ride of lime and carbolic acid shocked her sensi- 
tive nostrils with their tales of all the lepulsiveness 
those disinfectants were intended todcistroy or hide. 

Several dejected, hollow-eyed convalescents, whose 
uniforms hung about their wasted bodies as they 
would about wooden crosses, sat on benches in 
the scanty shade by one side of the building, and 
fanned themselves weakly with fans clumsily fash- 
ioned from old newspapers They looked up as the 
trim, lady-like figure stei)ped lightly down from the 
ambulance, and the long-absent luster returned brieti}' 
to their sad eyes. 

"That looks like home, Jim," said one of the 
fever-wasted, 

" That it does. Lord ! she looks as fresh and sweet 
as the Johnny -jumi>-ups down by our old spring-house. 
I expect she's come down hero to find somebody that 
belongs to her that's sick. Don't I wish it was 
me I " 

"I wouldn't mind being a brother, or a cousin, 
or a sweetheart to her myself. That'd be better luck 
than to be given a sutler-shop. Just see her move ! 
She's got a purtier gait than our thorougbred colt." 

"It does one's eyes good to look at her. It makes 
me feel better than a cart-load of the stuft' that old 
Pillbags forces down our throats." 

" You're a-talking. She's a lad}' — every inch of 
her — genuine, simon-pure, fast colors, all-wool, a 
yard wide, as fine as silk, and bright as a May morn- 
ing." 

"And as wholesome as Spring sunshine." 

All unconscious that her appearance was to the 
M 



178 THE RED ACORN. 

invalids who looked upon her like a sweet, health- 
giving breeze bursting through a tainted atmosphere, 
Rachel passed wearily along the burning Avalks to- 
ward the Surgeon's office, with a growing heart- 
sickness at the unwelcome appearance of the task she 
had elected for herself. 

The journey had been full of irritating discom- 
forts. Heat, dust, and soiled linen are only annoy- 
ances to a man ; they are real miseries to a woman. 
The marvel is not that ,Toan of Arc dared the perils 
of battle, but that she endured the continued wretch- 
edness of camp uncleanliness, to the triumphant 
end. 

With her throat parched, garments "sticky," 
hair, eyes, ears and nostrils filled with irritating dust, 
and a feeling that collar and cufis were, as ladies 
phrase it, "a sight to behold," Rachel's heroic enthu- 
siasm ebbed to the bottom. Ushered into the Sur- 
geon's office she was presented to a red-faced, harsh- 
eyed man, past the middle age, who neither rose nor 
apologized to her for being discovered in the undress 
of a hot day. He motioned her to a seat with the 
wave of the fan he was vigorously using, and taking 
her letter of introduction, adjusted eye-giasses upon 
a ripe-colored nose, and read it with a scowl that rip- 
pled his face with furrows. 

"So you're the first of the women nurses that's to 
be assigned to me," he said ungraciously, after finish- 
ing the letter, and scanning her severely for a mo- 
ment over the top of his glasses. " I suppose I have 
to have 'em." 

The manner hurt Rachel even more than tho 



IN THE HOSPITAL. 179 

words. Before she could frame a reply he contin- 
ued: 

"I don't take much stock in this idea of women 
nurses, especially when they're young and pretty." 
He scowled at Rachel as if she had committed a 
crime in being young and beautiful. "But the coun- 
try's full of women with a Quixotic notion of being- 
Florence Nightingales, and they've badgered the 
Government into accepting their services. I suppose 
I'll have to take my share of them. Ever nursed ? " 

'' No, sir," responded Rachel, compressing as much 
haughtiness as possible into the answer. 

'* Of course not. Girls at your age are not at all 
likely to know anything that is useful, and least of all 
how to nurse a sick man. I hardly know which is 
the worst, a young one who don't know anything, or 
a middle-aged one who thinks she knows it all, and 
continually interferes with the management of a case. 
I believe though, I'd rather have had the middle-aged 
one to start with. She'd be more likely to tend to her 
business, and not have her head turned by the atten- 
tions of the good-looking young officers who swarm 
around her. Mind, I'll not allow any flirting here." 

Rachel's face crimsoned. " You forget yourself," 
she said, cuttingly; "or perhaps you have nothing 
to forget. At least, make an effort to remember that 
I'm a lady " 

The bristly eyebrows straightened down to a level 
line over the small blue eyes, and unpleasant furrows 
drew themselves around the corners of his mouth. 
" You forget," he said, " that if you enter upon these 
duties you are in the military service and subject to 



180 THE RED ACORN. 

your superior officers. You forget the necessity of 
the most rigid discipline, and that it is my duty to 
explain and enforce this.'' 

"I certainly expect to ohvy orders," said Rachel, a 
little overawed. 

"You may rightly expect to," he answered with 
a slight sneer ; " because it will be a matter of neces- 
sity — you will have to. "We must have instant and 
unquestioning obedience to orders here, as well as 
everywhere else in the Army, or it would be like a 
rope of sand — of no strength whatever — no strength, 
whatever." 

"I know it," answered Rachel, depressed even 
more by the apparition of martial law than she had 
been before by the heat. 

'"And what I have been telling you is only the 
beginning," continued the Surgeon, noting the effect 
of his words, and exulting in their humbling power. 
"The cornerstone of everything military is obedi- 
ence — prompt, unfailing obedience, b}' everybody, 
soldier or officer, to his superiors. Without it " 

" Major Moxon," said an officer, entering and sa- 
luting, " the General presents his com})linients, and 
desires to know why his repeated orders in regard to 
the furloughing of men have been so persistently dis- 
regarded." 

"Because," said the Surgeon, getting pui-plish- 
red about the cheeks and nose, "because the matter's 
one which I consider outside of his province — beyond 
his control, sir. I am Chief of the Medical Depart- 
ment, as you are perhaps aware, sir." 

"We presumed that you were taking that view of 



IN THE HOSPITAL. 181 

the matter, from your course," answered the Aide 
cahnly. " I am not here to argue the matter with 
you, but simply to direct you to consider yourself 
under arrest. Charges arc being prepared against 
you, to which I will add specifications based on this 
interview. Good afternoon, sir." The Aide saluted 
stiffly and moved away, leaving the Surgeon in a 
state of collapse at the prospect of what he had 
brought upon himself by his injudicious contumacy. 
Miss Rachel was in that state of wonderment that 
comes to pupils at seeing their teachers rc])el against 
their own precepts. The Surgeon was too much en- 
grossed in his own affairs to pay farther heed to her. 
He tapped a bell. 

"Orderly," he said, to the soldier who responded, 
"conduct this young woman to Dr. Denslow. In- 
form him that she is to be with us as a nurse, and 
ask him to be kind enough to assign her suitable 
quarters. Good afternoon, ma'am." 

In another office, much smaller and far less luxu- 
riously furnished, she found Dr. Denslow, a hazel- 
eyed, brown-bearded man of thirty, whose shoulder- 
straps bore the modest bars of a Captain. The 
reader has already made his acquaintance. He re- 
ceived her with the pleasant, manly sympathy for her 
sex, which had already made him one of the most pop- 
ular of family physicians in the city where he was 
practicing at the outl^reak of the war. 

Rachel's depressed spirits rose again at his cordial 
reception. 

"I am so busy," he said, after a brief exchange of 
commonplaces, "that I'll not have the time to give 



182 THE RED ACORN. 

you much information thir? afternoon as to your duties, 
and I know that you are so fatigued with your jour- 
ne}^ and tlie heat that you will not care to do any- 
thing but rest and refresh yourself. I will therefore 
show you immediately to your quarters." 

"This will be your field of labor," he said, as he 
led her down the long aisle between rows of cots to- 
ward her room. "It's not a cheerful one to contem- 
plate at first. Human suffering is always a depressing 
spectacle, and you will see here more of it and more 
varied agony than you can find anywhere outside of 
an army hospital's walls. But as the deed is so is the 
duty, and the glory of doing it. To one who wants 
to serve God and his fellow-creatures — which I take 
it is the highest form of religion — here is an oppor- 
tunity that he may bless God for giving him. Here 
he can earn a brighter cn-own than is given them who 
die at the stake for o})ini()n's sake." 

So earnest was his enthusiasm that Rachel felt her- 
self lifted up by it, in spite of her discomforts. But 
then she turned her eyes away from his impassioned 
face, and looked over the array of white beds, each 
with its pale and haggard occupant, his eyes blazing 
with the delirium of fever, or closed in the langor 
of exhaustion, with limbs tossing as the febrile fire 
seethed the blood, or quivering with the last agonies. 
Groans, prayers, and not a few oaths fell on her ears. 
The repulsive smell of the disinfectants, the nausea- 
ting odor of the sick room where hundreds of invalids 
were lying, the horrible effluvia of the typhus rose on 
the hot air, and seemed part of the misery which so 
strongly assailed her other senses. 



IN THE HOSPITAL. 183 

She was sick at heart, and with every feeling in 
active revolt, but without a word she turned and fol- 
lowed Dr. Denslow to a hot, close, little room which 
had been cut off one end of the hospital, though 
not so separated from it but that the sounds and 
odors from the sick wards continually filtered in 
through the wide cracks in its plank sides. An iron 
bedstead, of the same pattern as that upon which the 
sick lay, stood in one corner, and in another was a 
rudely-fashioned stand, upon which was a tin-basin, a 
cake of yellow ])ar-soap, and a bucket of water for 
washing. This was all the furniture. 

As the door closed behind the Doctor, Rachel 
threw herself upon the cot, in a fit of despair at the 
wreck of all her fancies, and the repulsiveness of the 
career upon which she had embarked. 

"I can not — I will not — live here a week," she 
said to herself, over and over again. "I will die for 
the lack of the comforts — of the decencies of life, 
even — to say nothing of being poisoned b}' these hor- 
rible smells, or driven distracted by the raving sick 
and that boor of a Surgeon. But I can not draw 
back ; I would rather die than go back to Sardis with 
a confession of failure at the very outset of my at- 
tempt to play the heroine."" 

Then she remembered her last words to Harry 
Glen : "I only know that you have failed where a 
number of commonplace men have succeeded, and 
that is sufficient." 

Would she subject herself to having him throw 
these words in her teeth ? No. Any shape of trial 
and death, rather. 



184 THE RED ACORN. 



CHAPTER XV. 

MAKING AN ACQUAINTANCE WITH DUTY. 

And with light In her looks she entered the chnmber of slcknesa. 

Noiselessly moved about the assiduous, careful attendants, 

Moistening the feverish lip, and the aching brow, and In silence 

Closing the sightless eyes of the d-'ad. and conccallnB their faces, 

Where oa their pallets they lay like drifts of snow by the roadside. 

Many a languid head upraised ns Ev;ingclln«' entered. 

Turned on Its pillow of pain to gaze while she passed for her presence 

Fell on their hearts like a ray of sun on the walls of a prison. 

And as she looked around she saw how Death the Consoler, 

Laying his hand on many a heart had healed It forever.— Eeanffeltru. 

NERVOUSLY bolting the rude door after Dr. 
Dcnslow's departure, Rachel tossed her hat into 
one corner, and without farther undressinir flung her- 
self down upon the coarse l)lankets of the cot, in utter 
exhaustion of mind and l)ody. Nature, i)eneticent 
ever to Youth and Health, at once drew the kindly 
curtain of Sleep, and the world and its woes became 
oblivion. 

Early the next morn ins: the shrill reveille called 
for a resumption of the day's activities. She was 
awakened by the fifes screaming a strenuously cheer- 
ful jig, but lay for .some minutes without opening her 
eyes. She was so perfectly healthful in every way 
that the tribulations of the previous day had left no 
other traces than a slight weariness. But everysen.se 
began informing her that yesterday's experience was 
not a nightmare of her sleep, but a waking reality. 
The morning sun was already pouring hot beams 



MAKING AN ACQUAINTANCE WITH DUTY. 185 

upon the thin roof over her head. Through the wide 
cracks in the partition came the groans and the nau- 
seating odors which htid depressed her so on the day 
before. Mingled witlj these was the smell of spoiled 
coffee and ill-cooked food floating in from the kitchen, 
where a detail of slovenly and untaught cooks were 
preparing breakfast. 

She shuddered and opened her eyes. 
The rude garniture of her room, thickly covered 
with coarse dust, and destitute of everything to make 
life comfortable, looked even more repugna^it than it 
had the evening before. 

The att:u-k of sickness at heart at the position in 
which she found herself came on with renewed inten- 
.sity, for the hatefulness of everything connected with 
the lot she had chosen seemed to have augmented 
during the passing hours. She tried to gain a IKtle 
respite by throwing one white arm over her eyes, so 
as to shut out all sight, that she might imagine for a 
moment at least that she was back under the old 
apple tree at Sardis, before all this sorrow had come 
into her life. 

"It is not possible," she murmured to herself, 
"that Florence Nightingale, and those who assisted 
her found their work and its surroundings as unlovely 
as it is here. I won't believe it. In Europe things 
are different, and the hospitals are made fitting places 
for women to visit and dwell in." 

It would have helped her much if she could have 
known that the Crimean hospitals, in which Florence 
Nightingale won world-wide fame, lacked immeasur- 
ably of the conveniences and comforts with which 



186 THE KED ACOKN. 

American ingenuity and lavish generosity mitigated 
somewhat the wretchedness of army hospitals. 

Lving still becoming unendurable, she rose, in 
hopes that action might bring some sort of relief. 
Such plain toilet was made as the very limited means 
at her command permitted. The scant privacy af- 
forded by her room was another torture. ^Maiden 
modesty suggested a Peeping Tom at every yawning 
crack in the planking. 

At last, neatly attired in a serviceal)le gray frock, 
with a dainty white collar at her throat, and her sat- 
in}' hair brushed smoothly over her forehead, she 
opened her door and stepped out into the main ward 
rooni. 

A murnuu- of admiration arose from those wh« 
looked ui)on her, and the sick cesised groaning, to 
feast their eyes upon -the fiiir, fresh apparition of 
sweet young womanhood. There was such unmis- 
takable pleasure written on every face that for a mo- 
ment even .she herself became a little conscious that 
her presence was like a grateful shower upon a 
parched and weary land. But before she could buoy 
her spirits up with this knowledge they sank again as 
she perceived Dr. ^lo.xon stalking down the long 
aisle, with ill-humor expressed in every motion of his 
bulky figure. He was frowning deeply ; his great 
feet fell flatly upon the creaking planks, as if he were 
crushing something at every step, and he rated the 
occupants of the cots on either side as he passed 
along. 

"No. 4," he said sharply to a gaunt boy, whose 
cheeks were burning with rising fever, ''you've got 



MAKING AN ACQUAINTANCE WITH DUTY. 187 

a relapse. Serv^es you right for leaving your bed 
yesterday. Now don't deny it, for I saw you outside 
myself. I'll send the "Wardniaster to the guard-house 
for that." 

"But, Doctor, it wasn't his fault," gasped the sick 
man, painfully. "I begged so hard to go out that 
he couldn't refuse me. It was so hot in here and 
smellcd so badl}^ that I felt I should die unless I got 
a breath of fresh air." 

" Silence ! " thundered the Surgeon ; "I'll have no 
talking back to me. Steward, send that Wardmaster 
to the guard-house for disobedience of orders. No. 
7, you refused to take your medicine yesterday. 
Steward, double his prescription, and if he shows the 
least resistance to taking it, have the nurses hold him 
and force it down his throat. Do you hear? There, 
why don't you hold still? " (This to a man who was 
having a large blister applied to his back.) 

•'It hurts so," answered the sufferer. 

"Hurts, eh? Well, I'll show you what hurts 
some of these days, when I cut your leg ofi'. Well, 
what do you want, youngster ? " 

A slender, white-faced boy was standing at the foot 
of his cot, at "attention,'' and saluting respectfully. 

"If you please," said he, "I'd like to be dis- 
charged, and go back to my company. I'm well 
enough now to do duty, and I'll be entirely well in 
a short time, if I can get out of doors into the 
fresh air." 

"Indeed," answered Dr. Moxon, with a sneer, 
"may I inquire wdien you began to diagnose cases, 
and offer advice to your superior officers? Why 



188 THE RED ACORN. 

don't you set up in the practice of medicine at once, 
and appl}- for a commission as Surgeon in the Army i 
Step back, and don't ever speak to me again in this 
manner, or it '11 l)e the worse for you, I can tell ^'ou. 
/ know when you are tit to go hack to duty, and I 
won't have patients anno3'ing me with their whims 
and fancies. Step back, sir.'' 

Thus he passed along, leaving anger and humilia- 
tion behind him, as a steamer leaves a wake of waves 
beaten into a froth. 

"Old Sawbones made a mistake with his morning 
cocktail, and mi.xed a lot of wormwood with it," said 
one of the ••convalescents^" in an undertone to those 
about him. 

"This awful hot weather's spilin' most every- 
thing." said anotlu'r, "and the old man's tem})er 
never was any too sweVt." 

Dr. Moxon came up to Kaciiel, and regarded her 
for an instant very unpleasantly. "Young woman," 
he said in a harsh tone and with a >till harsher man- 
ner, "the rules of this institution reciuire every 
attendant to be present at morning roll-call, under 
pain of punishment. You were not present this 
morning, but be careful that you are in future.'' 

Kachel's grief over her own situation had been 
swallowed up by indignation at the Surgeon's brutal- 
it}' to others. All her higher instincts were on tire at 
the gratuitous insults to boys, toward whom her wo- 
manly sympathies streamed out. The pugnacious 
element, large in hers as in all strong natures, asserted 
itself and invited to the fray. If there was no one 
else to resist this petty tyrant she would, and may- 



MAKING AN ACQUAINTANCE WITH DUTY. 189 

hap in this she might tind such exercise of her heroic 
qualities that she felt were within her, as would justify 
herself in her own esteem. She met with a resolute 
glance his peevish eyes, and said : 

"When the rules are communicated to me in a 
proper manner, I shall take care to obey them, if the\'^ 
are just and proper ; but I will not be spoken to in 
that way by any man.'' 

His eyes fell from the encounter with hers, and tlie 
dull mottle on his cheek became crimson witli a l)lush 
at this, assertion of outraged womanl}- dignity. He 
turned away, saying gruffly : 

"Just as I expected. The moment a woman 
comes into the hospital, all discipline is at an 
end." 

He moved oft" angrily. All the inmates saw and 
overheard. If Rachel's refreshing beauty had capti- 
vated them before, her dauntless spirit completed the 
conquest. 

A cheery voice behind her said " Good morning." 
There was something so winning in its tones that the 
set lines in her indignant face relaxed, and she turned 
softened eyes to meet the frankly genial ones of Dr. 
Paul Denslow. 

" Good morning, Miss ^," he repeated, as she 

hesitated, a little dazed. 

" Bond — Rachel Bond's my name. Good morning, 
sir,*' she answered, putting out her hand. 

As he took it, he said : " I want to make an abject 
apology. We are ill-prepared to entertain a lady 
here, and no one knew of your coming. But we cer- 
tainly intended to mitigate in some degree the deso- 



190 THE RED ACORN. 

lation of the room to which you were conducted. I 
left you for the purpose of seeing what the store- 
room contained tliat would contribute a trifle toward 
transforming it into a maiden's Ijoucr — " 

''Cindert'lia'-; fairy godmother couldn't have made 
the transformation with tliat room," she said willi a 
little shrug of despair. 

''Probably not —probably not— and I lay no claim 
to evi'u the least of the powers exercised l)y the old 
lady with the wand. Biit I allow no man to surpass 
me in the matter of good intentions. Tliat is a lux- 
ury of wliich the poorest of us can afford an abun- 
dance, and I will not deny myself anything that is so 
cheap." 

Rachel was beguiled inti) t^miling at his merry 
cynicism. 

''Allusions to the pavement in the unmentionable 
place are barred in this connection," he continued 
gayly. ''On my way to carry out the.se good inten- 
tention.s — at some one else's expense, remember, all 
the time — I was called to the bedside of a dying man, 
and detained there some time. "When I at last re 
turned to your room, I ju<lged that you were fast 
asleep, and 1 decided not to disturb you." 

"I think you would have found it a difficult mat- 
ter to have roused me. I had sunk on the cot, and 
was sleeping the sleep of — " 

"The just," interposed Dr. Denslow, gallantly. 

"No, of the fatigued." 

"Well, scientific truth compels me to say that 
fatigue is a surer and stronger sedative than a clear 
conscience even. I know, for I have occasionally 



MAKING AN ACQUAINTANCE \VTrH DUTY. 191 

ti'ied a clear conscience — only by way of experiment, 
you know/' he added, apologetically. 

" Well, whatever the cause, I was sleeping as 
though on downy beds of ease," 

''Then my mind is lightened of a mountain-load 
of responsibility for having made you pass a miser- 
able night. But let's go in to breakfast. I am 
opposed to doing anything on an empty stomach- 
even to holding a pleasant conversation. It invites 
malaria, and malaria brings a number of disagreeable 
sensations which people mistake for repentance, 
remorse, religious awakening, and so on, according to 
their mental idiosyncrasies, and the state of their 
digestion." 

The breakfiist did not help remove the unpleasant 
impressions already made u})on her mind. The cloth 
tliat covered the coarse planks of the table was unmis- 
takably a well-worn sheet. Tin cups and platters 
made humble substitution for china, and were appro- 
priately accompanied by cast-iron knives and two- 
tined forks. 

Two Hospital Stewards— denoted by the green 
bands, embroidered with caducel^ around their arms 
—and the same numl)or of Wardmasters, formed the 
mess which sat down with Dr. Denslow and Rachel, 
on benches around the table. 

What buoyant cheerfulness could do to raise 
Rachel's spirits and give an appetizing flavor to the 
coarse viands. Dr. Denslow did. 

"I apprehend," said he, "that you will suspect 
that in obtaining this steak the indefatigable cook 
made a mistake, and sliced a piece from a side of sole 



102 THE RED ACORN. 

leather hangins; near. This was not the case. It was 
selected with a deep physiological design. Meat of 
this character consists almost wholly of fibrine, the 
least heat-producing constituent of flesh. By exclud- 
ing all fats and other tender portions, and contining 
ourselves to fibrine, we are the better able to stand 
this torrid weather." 

One of the Hospital Stewards gi'oaned deeply. 

'^ What is the matter, ' Squills' ^ " saiil the Doctor, 
kindly. 

"I wa.s thinking of the monstrous tibber-in here." 
said "Squills,'' lugul)n<)usly. 

"' 'Squills,' I don't know how I can properly pun- 
ish the disrespect shown our young lady guest and 
your superior officer, by that vile pun nnd the viler 
implication contained in it." 

''This sugar," continued the Doctor, lifting some 
out of an old tomato can with a large iron spoon, and 
tendering it to Rachel for her coflfee, "has a rich 
golden color, which is totally absent from the paler 
varieties to which you are accustomed. Its deeper 
hue comes from having caught more of the Cuban 
yellow sun's rays." 

"Yes," interjected "^^ Squills," "all the Cuban's 
yellow sons raise. Their daughters, too, are some- 
times almost brown." 

Dr. Denslow frowned. 

*' What a queer odor it has," said Rachel, sniffing 
it, and staying the spoon just over her cup. 

"Has it?" said the Doctor, sniffing too. "O, 
that 's nothing. That 's only chlorofoiTn. The ants 
were very bad. and we put some in to kill them off.'' 



MAKING AN ACQUAINTANCE WITH DUTY. 103 

" I don't believe 1 11 take any in my coffee, thank 
you," said Rachel, calmly. "There are times when 
I don't like it sweetened." 

"But you'll certainly take cream, then," he said, 
breaking off the cover of a can of condensed milk. 
"Here is some put up on the reverse of the homoe- 
opathic plan. Instead of beinor the 30th dilution, it 
is about the 30th concentration. With this little can, 
and his pump in good order, a milkman could supply 
a g()()(i big route with ^pure grass-fed milk.' Within 
these narrow walls are compressed the nutritive juices 
of an acre of fragrant white clover." 

"The Doctor was formerly a lecturer in a medical 
college," said " Squills" sotto voce to Rachel. 

Rachel's appetite had seemed sufficient for almost 
any food, but she confined her breakfast to two or 
three crackers of hard bread, and a few sups of coffee. 
The pleasantry had failed of its desired effect. It 
was like vinegar upon niter, or the singing of songs 
to an heavy heart. 

As they rose from the table the Doctor infonned 
her that he and the Stewards were about to make 
their morning round of the wards, and that she had 
better accompany them. She went along without a 
word. 

They walked slowly up and down the long aisles 
behind the Doctor, who stopped before each cot, and 
closely examined its occupant's tongue, pulse, and 
other indicators of his condition, and gave prescrip- 
tions, which the Steward wrote down, as to medicine 
and food. What was better still were his words of 
sympathy for the verv ill and of cheery encourage- 
N 9 " 



194 THE RED ACORN. 

ment for the convalescent, which he bestowed upon 
every one. 

"A visit from Dr. Dcnslow docs a sick man more 
good," whispered "S(iiiiils" to Rachel, as he saw lior 
eyes light up with admiration at the Doctor's tactful 
kindliness, "than all the drugs in the disjwnsary. I 
sometimes bolieve he's one of them that can cure by a 
simple laying-on of hands. He's just the ()pi)osite of 
old Moxon, who'd counteract the effect of the best 
medicine in the world." 

''No. 19, Quin. Sulph.. grains IT); make four 
powders, one every three hours," continued " Squills," 
repeating the directions as he received them, " Spir- 
it us Frumcnti. 1 oz., at evening. No. 2 diet. No. 
20, Dover's powdt'r 10 grains, at bedtime. No. 1 
diet. You," addressing himself to Richel again, 
"will do even better than Dr. Dcnslow, .'^oon. Can't 
you .see how the mere sight of you brightens up eve- 
rybody around here ? " 

Rachel had no reply ready for so broad a compli- 
ment. l)ut its assertion of her high usetulne.ss went far 
to reconcile her to her position. 

She wondered silently if her mission was to be con- 
fined to posing as a thing of beauty and a joy forever. 

This diftered much from her expectation.s, for she 
dreaded at each step le.st the next bring her face to 
face with some horrible task, which she would be ex- 
pected to undertake. But the Doctor, with his usual 
tact, was almost imperceptibly inducting her into her 
duties. 

" Would Miss Bond kindly shake this powder into 
that cup of water and giv(« it to that boy?" 



MAKTNG AN ACQUAINTANrR ^^^TH DUTY. 195 

She did .so, and was rewarded by the recipient's 
grateful look, as he said : 

*'It don't seem at all nasty when ijou give it to 
me." 

"Would she hand that one this bit of magnesia 
for his heartburn i " 

It was a young Irishman, who received the mag- 
nesia with a gallant speech : 

" Faith, your white fingers have made it swater 
than loaf-sugar." 

Rachel colored deeply, and those within hearing 
laughed. 

At the ne.xt cot a feverish boy tossed wearily. 
Rachel noticed the uncomfortable arrangement of the 
folded blanket which did duty as a pillow. She 
stepped quickly to the head of the cot, took the 
blanket out, refoldc^l it with a few deft, womanly mo- 
tions, and replaced it with a cool surface upper- 
most. 

"O, that is so good," murmured the boy, half- 
unclosing his eyes. '"It's just as mother wouldVe 
done it." 

Dr. Denslow looked earnest approval. 

Rachel began to feel an interest kindling in her 
work. It was not in a womanly nature to resist this 
cordial appreciation of all she did. 

A few cots farther on a boy wanted a letter writ- 
ten home. She was provided with stationery, and 
taking her place by the side of the cot, received his 
instructions, and wrote to his anxious parents the first 
news they had had from their only son since they had 
been informed, two weeks before, that he harl l)een 



lOfi THE RED ACORN. 

sent to the hospital. AVhon slio had tinishod she re- 
joined the Doctor, who had by this time nearly com- 
pleted his round of the ward. As soon as he was 
throuirh he dismissed Stewards and Wardmasters 
to their duties, and returned with her to her room. 
It was so chanf^ed that she thought .she had made a 
mistake when she opened the door. The time of her 
absence had been well employed by a detail of men, 
whom the Dvntor had previously instructed. The 
floor was as white and clean as stronir arms with an 
abundance of soap and hot water could scrub it, the 
walls and ceilinir were neatly papered with narj}n'\^ 
Weeklies, and Frank Lefdien, other papei-s concealed 
the roughness of the table and shelves, white sheets 
and piliow-cast's had irivcn the cot an air of invitinir 
neatness, and before it lay a scpiare of raff carpet. 
The window was shaded with calico curtains, the tin 
basin and dipi)er had been scoured to bri«?htness, and 
beside them stood a cedar water-pail with shining 
brass hoops. 

''Ah," she said, with brinhteninir f:ice, "this is 
something like living." 

"Yes." answered Dr. Denslow, ''I imagine it is 
some improvement upon the sandy desert in which 
you spent the night. I hojie we will soon be able to 
make it still more comfortable. AVe have just started 
this hospital, and we are sadly destitute of many of 
the commonest necessaries of such an institution. 
But everything will get lietter in a week or so, and 
while I can not exactly promi.se you the comforts of 
a home, I can assure you that life will l>e made more 
endurable than it seems to be possible now." 



MAKING AX ACQUAINTANCE WITH DUTY. 197 

"I do hope none of this has been taken away from 
any sick man who needs it more than I ? " said Ra- 
chel, with a remembrance of how much the boys in 
the ward needed. 

"•Do not disturb yourself with any such thought. 
Your comfort has not l)een bought at the expense of 
any one else's. I would not give, even to you, any- 
liiing that would help restore a sick soldier to his reg- 
iment or his home. My first duty, as that of yours 
and all of us, is to him. He is the man of the occa- 
sion. All the rest of us are mere adjuncts to him. 
We have no reason for being, except to increase his 
etfectiveness."" 

The earnestness with which he spoke, so diflferent 
fiom his light bantering at the breakfast table, made 
her regard him more attentively. 

" I begin to get a glimmering," she said at length, 
"of the inspiration in this kind of work. Before it 
has all seemed unutteral)ly repulsive to me. But it 
has its rewards."' 

"Yes," said he, lapsing still deeper into a mood 
which she soon came to recognize in him as a frequent 
one of spiritual exaltation, "we who toil here, lal)or 
amidst the wreck and ruin of war without the benefit 
of that stirring impulse which fills the souls of those 
who actually go into battle. The terrors of human 
surtering which they see but for an instant, as when 
the lio^htning in the niorht shows the ravages of 
the storm, encompass us about and abide with us 
continually. We are called upon for another kind 
of fortitude, and we must look for our reward other- 
wise than in the victor's laurels. We can only have 



198 THK RED ACORN. 

to animate us our own consciousness of a high duty 
well done. To one class of minds this is an infinitely 
rich meed. The old Jewish legend says tliat Abra- 
ham's principal jewel was one worn upon hi.s breast, 
•• whose lisrht raised those who were bowed down, and 
Iicaled the sick,' and when he passed from earth it 
was placed in heaven, where it shone ;is one of the 
great stars. Of sucIj kind nmst be oui- jewel." 

He stopped, and bbisliing through his beard, as if 
ashamed of his heroics, said witii a liglit laugh : 

"But if there is anything I fear it is self-righteous- 
ness which cankereth the soul. Come ; I will show 
you a sight which will repress any tendency you may 
ever feel to exalt your services to the pinnacle of hu- 
man merit." 

Wiiile leading her to a remote part of the hospital 
he continued : '• Of course greater love hath no man 
than this, that he give his life for that which he loves. 
Considered relatively to the person the peasant who 
falls in the defense of his country gives just as much 
as the Emperor who may die by his side. In either 
case the measure of devotion is brim-full. Nothing 
more can be added to it. But there are accessories 
and surroundings which apparently make one life of 
much gi-eater value than another, and make it a vastly 
richer sacrifice when laid on the altar of patriot- 
ism." 

"There are certainly degrees of merit, even in 
yielding up one's life," said Rachel, not altogether 
unmindful of the sacrifice she herself had made in 
coming to the front. 

" Judsred bvthis stnndnrd." the Doctor continued, 



MAKING AN ACQUAINTANCE WITH DUTY. 100 

"the younir man whom we are about to see has made 
a richer oftering to his country than it is possible for 
most men to make. It almost shames me as to the 
meagerness of the gift I bring." 

"If you be ashamed how must others who give 
much less feel ? " 

" He was in the first dawn of manhood." the Doc- 
tor went on, without noticing the interruption, "'hand- 
some as a heathen god, educated and wealthy, and 
with high aspirations for a distinguished scientific 
ciireer fermenting in his young blood like new wine. 
Yet he turned his back upon all this — upon the open- 
ing of a happy married life — to carry a private sol- 
dier's nuisket in the ranks, and to die ingloriously by 
the shot of a skulking bushwhacker. He would not 
even take a conuuission, because he wanted that used 
to encourage some other man, who might need the 
inducement.'" 

" But why call his death inglorious? If a man 
braves death why is any one time or place worse than 
another ? " 

"Because for a man of his temperament he is 
dying the cruellest death possible. He had expected, 
if called upon to yield up his life, to i)urchase with it 
some great good for his country. But to perish use- 
lessly as he is doing, as if bitten by a snake, is terri- 
ble. Here we are. I will tell you before we go in 
that he has a bullet wound through the body, just 
grazing an artery and it is only a question of a short 
time, and the slightest shock, when a fatal hemorr- 
hage will ensue. Be very quiet and careful." 

He untied a rope stretched across the entrance to 



2U0 TIIK KED A('(JKN. 

a little wing of the buildiiiir to keej) unnecessary foot- 
steps at a distance. 

" How is he this morninfj: '." he asked of a fjrav- 
haired nurse seated in front of a door curtained witii 
a blanket. 

••(^uiet and cheerful as ever." answcn'(l the nur>c, 
risin<; and puUiiii,^ the l)hiiikcl aside tliat they might 
enter. 

The face upon which KacheKs eyes fell when she 
entered the room imi)ressed her as an unusual combi- 
nation of refinement an<l strength. Beyond this she 
noted little as to the details of the patient's counte- 
nance, except that he had hazel eyes, and a clear com- 
l)lexi()n asserting itself undt-r llie deep sun-burn- 
ing. 

When they entered he wjis languidly fanning him- 
.self with a fan which had been ingenious!)- construct- 
ed for him by some inmate, out of a twig of willow 
bent into a hex)}), and covered by pasting paper over 
it. He gave a faint smile of welcome to the Doctor, 
but his face liirhted up with pleasure wlien he .saw 
Kachel. 

"Good morning, Sanderson," said Dr. Denslow, 
in a repres.sed voice. " How do 3'ou feel ? " 

"As usual," whispered Sanderson. 

''This is Miss Rachel Bond, who is a.ssigned to 
our hospital as nurse." 

A slight movement of Sanderson's head acknowl- 
edged Rachel's bow. 

" I am so glad to see you," he whispered, taking 
hold of her hand. " Sit down there, please." 



MAKING AN ACQUAINTANCh WITH DUTY. 20i 

Rachel took the indicated .scat id the head of 
the cot. 

''Doctor," inquired Sanderson, "is it true that 
McClellan has had to fall back from before Rich- 
mond ? " 

''I have tried hard to keep the news from you," 
answered Dr. Denslow, reluctantly. *■' I fear it 
is too true. Let us hope it is only a temporary 
reverse, and that it will soon be more than over- 
come." 

"Not in time for me," said Sanderson, in deep 
dejection. •' I have lived several days merely because 
I wanted to see Richmond taken before I died. I can 
wait no longer." 

The Doctor essayed some confused words of en- 
couragement, but stopped abruptly, and feigning 
important business in another part of the hospital, 
hurried out, bidding Rachel await his return. 

When he was gone Sanderson lifted RacheKs hand 
to his lips, and said with deep feeling: 

"I am so glad you have come. You rcniind iiu^ 
of her." 

The ebbing life welled up for the last time into 
such ardent virility that Rachel's first maidenly instinct 
was to withdraw her hand from his earnest pressure 
and kiss. 

" No, do not take your hand away," he said 
eagerly. "There need be no shame, for I shall be 
clay almost before your blush has had time to fade. 
I infringe on no other's rights, for I see in you only 
another whom you much resemble." 



202 THE KED ACOKN. 

Rachel suffered her haiul to remain within his 
grasp. 

"I would that she knew, as you do, that I died 
thinking of her, next to ni}- country. You will write 
and tell her so. The Doctor will irive you hvv address, 
and you can tell her, a.s only a woman can tell an- 
other what the woman-heart hun<rers for, of my last 
moments. It is >o nmch i)ettcr that you should do it 
than Dr. Donslow. even, errand as he is in every way. 
You will tell her that there was not a thought of 
repining — that I felt that giving my life was only 
partial repayment to those who gave theii*s to pur- 
chase for me every good thing that I have enjoyed. I 
had twenty-tive years of as happy a life as ever a man 
lived, and she came as its crowning joy. I look for 
ward almost eagerly to what that Power, which has 
made every succeeding year of my life happier than 
the previous one, has in store for me in the awakening 
beyond. Ah, see there I It has come. There goes 
my life." 

She looked in the direction of his gaze, and saw a 
pool of blood slowly spreading out fnmi under the 
bed, banking itself against the dust into miniature 
gulfs and seius. The hand that held hers relaxed, and 
looking around she saw his eyes closed as if in peace- 
ful sleep. 

Dr. Denslow entered while she still gazed on the 
dead face, and said : 

"I am so sorry I left you alone. I did not expect 
this for some hours. " 

" How petty and selfish all my life has been," said 
Rachel, dejectedly, as they left the room. 



MAKING AN ACQUAINTANCE WITH DUTY. 208 

"Not a particle more than his was, probably," 
said Dr. Denslow, ''until his opportunity came. It is 
opportunity that makes the hero, as well as the less 
reputable personage, and I have no doubt that when 
yours comes, you will redeem yourself from all blame 
of selfishness and pettiness. " 



204 TUE RED ACORN. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

THE AMBUSCADE. 

This bcaryhcaded rcvrl, cut and wrst. 

Makes ui tnitliu-id and taxed uf other nailona; 

They clop«- u*driinkardK, nnd with swInlaU fras^ 

Boil our addlilon: nnd Indi id It takrn 

From our achievements. tliuuKli pcrfunuedat bight. 

The pith and marrow of our attribute.— //amtet. 

THE day sjicnt witli Aunt D('l)hy liad boon of tlio 
<rreato>t Ittiictil to Hanv (rlon. Sinco his pait- 
infj with Kaciu'l Bond, tlu'ic had Ix-on «r<>in«; on in his 
spirit a fcrnu'ntation like that witli whicli «rood wine 
discharges itself of its crossness and iinpiiritic's, and 
becomes clear and line. In this process had vanished 
the al)sorbin«r seltishness of a n)ucli-indul<re<l only 
son, and the supercilious ofrotisni whicli came as an 
almost necessary result of his colleire curricu- 
lum. This spiritual riiTcninj; received its perfecting 
color and bloom from the serene exaltation of Aunt 
Debby's soul. So filled was she with lofty devotion 
to the cause, so complete her faith in its holiness, and 
so untiuestioniiiir her beli«'f that it was every one's 
simple duty to brave all daniiers for it, and die if need 
be without a murmur, that contact with her would 
have inspired with pure patriotic ardor a nature much 
less ready for such leavening than Harry's. 

As Dr. Denslow had surmised, his faults were 
mainly superricial, and underneath them was a tirm 
gristle of manhood, which would speedily harden into 



THE AMBUSCADK. 205 

bone. With the experience he had been having, days 
would mature this as rapidly as ordinary years. He 
wa§ himself hardly aware of the transformation, but 
only felt, as his physical exhaustion disappeared, a 
new eagerness to participate in the great work of tlie 
war. He was gratified to know a little later that this 
was no transient feeling. In the course of the even- 
ing Jim Former came in, with Kent Edwards and Abe 
Bolton. After they had all satisfied their hunger, 
Fortner informed Harry and Aunt Debby that the 
enemy had fallen back to London, from which point 
he was sending out wagons intotiic surrounding coun- 
try, to gather up food, forage, arms, clothing, ammu- 
nition, etc., with the double object of depriving the 
Union men of them, and adding the same to the 
Rebel resources. A long train had also been sent out 
to the Goose Creek Salt AVorks— twenty-five miles 
northeast of London— to l)ring away a lot of salt 
stored there, of wliich the Rebels had even more need 
than of food. 

Fortner proposed to go out in the morning, and 
endeavor to cajiture some of these wagons. It seemed 
altogether probable that a few might be caught in 
such a position that their guards could be killed or 
driven off. 

All readily agreed to this plan, Aunt Debby lead- 
ing off by volunteering to ride ahead on her mare, as 
a scout. 

Harry suddenly remembered that he was weapon- 
less. "What shall I do for a gun?" he asked, anx- 
iously. 

"Ideclar, I done forgot all 'bout gittin' ye a gun," 



206 THE IIKD ACORS. 

said ForliRT with real conciTn. " My iiiind was dis- 
turbed by otlier things," lie added with a suspicion of 
a grin at Edwards and Bolton ; but they were leaning 
back in their chairs fast asleep. A})pl'.' jack, fatigue 
and a hearty supper together made a narcotic too 
potent to resist. 

Fortncr rose, spread a t"ew l)lankets on the floor, 
added a sack of bran for a pillow, and with sonic dif- 
ficulty induced the two sleepei*s to lie down and take 
their shimbei-s in a more natural position. 

•ril tind ye a gun," .said Aunt Dcbby, as this 
operation was tinished, and walking to a farther 
corner of the room, she came l)ack bearing in her 
hand a ritle very similar to the one Fortner car- 
ried. 

"Thar," she said,, .setting the delicately-curved 
brazen heel down upon the hearth, and holding the 
muzzle at arm's length while she gazed at the gun 
with the admiration one can not help feeling for a 
magnificent weapon, "is ez true a rifle ez ever a man 
put to his shoulder. Ef I didn't b'lave ye ter be ez 
true ez steel ye shouldn't tech hit, fur hit belonged 
ter the truest man in this livin' world.'' 

"Hit wuz her husband's," explained Fortner, as 
her lips met firmly, as if choking down bitter mem- 
ories. 

" Fm givin' hit ter ye ter use ez he'd a-used hit ef 
he war a-livin'," she said, steadying her tones with a 
perceptible eflfort. " Fm glad thet my hands can put 
inter yours the means ter avenge him." 

Harry tried in vain to make an appropriate 
response. 



THE AMBr>iCADE. 207 

"I'll clean hit up for ye," she said to Harry, as 
she saw Fortner beginning to furbish up his own rifle 
for the next day's duties. 

That she was no stranger to the work was shown 
by the skill with which she addressed herself to it. 
Nothing that a Kentucky mountaineer does has more 
of the aspect of a labor of love, than his caring for a 
fine rifle, and any of them would have been put to 
shame by the deftness of Aunt Debby's supple hands. 
Removing the leathern hood which protected the 
lock, she carefully rubbed off* the hannnor and nipple 
with a wisp of soft tine tow, and picked out the tube 
with a needle. Wrapping another bit of tow around 
the end of a wiping-stick, she moistened it slightly in 
her mouth, and carefully swabbed out of the inside of 
the barrel every suspicion of dust and dirt. Each of 
the winding rifles was made clean and free along its 
whole course. Then the tow swab was lightly touched 
with sweet, unsalted goose-fat, that it might spread a 
rust-preventing film over the interior surface. She 
burnished the silver and l)rass ornaments, and rubbed 
the polished stock until it shone. When not a suspi- 
cion of soil or dirt remained any where, the delicate 
double triggers were examined and set so that they 
would yield at the stroke of a hair, a tuft of lightly- 
oiled tow was placed over the nipple and another 
closed the muzzle. 

"Thar," said Aunt Debby, setting the gun back 
against the logs, " is a rifle that '11 allers do hits dut}^ 
ef the man a-holt of hit does his. Let's see how the 
ammunition is." 

The powder horn was found to be well filled with 



20S THE KKl) AfORN. 

powdor. and the l)ox witli cn\)>, hut there were only a 
few bullets. 

"I'll run ye some." she said, takin": from a shelf 
a small iron ladle, a few hars of lead, and a \rMr of 
hulh't molds. "Fur more'n a hundred y«'ars the wo- 
men uv our f:un*iy hcv run all tlir liiillrt< our men- 
folksshol. TIm'v h'lioved hit made 'em huky. (iran- 
father Foitnci- killed an Injun chief aerost the Mau- 
mee River at tin- battle of Fallen Timbcis with a 
bullet thct Granmother bed run fur him an' markt 
with a little cross. Afore the battle lu'L'un (iran- 
father tuck the bullet outen his pouch an' put hit 
inter his mouth, until he could prit a chance ter use 
hit on biix iram*'. He brot the chiefs scalp hum ter 
Granmother." 

" I believe the bullets you cast for me will do 
jjood service," said Harry, with sincerity in his 
tonc<. 

" I'm sartin of hit," she returned, confidently. 
"I hev adopted ye in my heart ez a son, an' I feel to 
wards ye ez ef ye were raylly uv my own kin. I 
know ye'U be a credit to yerself an' me." 

While the lead was meltinfr upon the bed of coals 
she drew out on the hearth, she sat in her low chair 
with her hands clasped about her knees, and her great 
gray eyes fixed upon the depths of a ma.ss of glowing 
embers in the fireplace, as if .she saw there vivid pic- 
tures of the past or revelations of the future. 

"How wonderfully bright an' glowin' hit is in 
thar," she said musingly ; " hit's purer an' brighter 
then ennything else on arth. 'Purified ez by fire,' 
the Book says. My God, Thou has sent Thy fires 



THE AMBUSCADE. 200 

upon me ez a sweepin' flood. Hev they purified me 
ez Thou wisht ? How hit shines an' glows away in 
thar! Hit seems so deep sometimes thet I kin 
skeercely see the eend. A million times purer an' 
brighter is the light thet shines from the Throne uv 
God. They're lookin' at thet now, while I still tarry 
hcah. Husband an' son, when will I go to ye? 
When will I finish the work the Lord hez fur me ter 
do ? When will the day uv my freedom come ? May- 
be to-morrer — may-be to-morrer." 
She began singing softly : 



" An' when a shadder falls acrost the winder 

Of my room, 
When I am workiu' my app'inted task, 
I lift my head to watch the door an' ask 

If lie is come; 
An' the angel answers sweetly 

In my home: 
' Only a few more shadders 

An" He will come.'" 

*' Aunt Debby, honey," said Fortner, rousing 
himself from a nap in his chair, "thet thar lead's 
burnin'. Better run yer bullets." 

She started as if waked from a trance, pressed 
her slender thin hands to her eyes for an instant, and- 
then taking the molds up in her left hand she raised 
the ladle with her right, filled them from it, knocked 
the molded balls out by a tap on the floor, and repeated 
the process with such dexterous quickness that she 
had made fifty bullets before Harry realized that she 
was fairly at work. 



210 THE RED ACORN. 

'' Ye men hed better lay down an' git some sleep," 
she said, as she replaced the molds and ladle on the 
shelf. '' Ye'll need all yer strennfth to-morrer. Til 
neck these bullets, an' git togctiier some vittles fur the 
trip, an' then I'll lay down a while. We orter start 
airly — soon arter daybreak." 

They did start early the next mornino:, with Aunt 
Debby riding upon the roads that wound around the 
mountain sides, while Fortner led the men through 
the shorter by-paths. 

Noon had passed some hours, and yet they had 
comea(ross no signs of wagons. Aunt Debby was 
riding along a road cut out of the rocks about mid- 
way up the mountain. To her right the descent was 
almost peq^endiiular for a hundred feet or more to 
where a creek ran at the bottom of a cliff. To her 
left the hill rose up !«teeply to a great bight. Fort- 
ner and the others were threading their way through 
the brush some distance above her, and keej)ing her 
in view as well as the bushes and trees would permit. 
Suddenlv there amse from the road the sound of rral- 
loping hoofs. L#eaning forward to get a better view 
Fortner and the others saw Aunt Dol)by galloping 
back, waving the red handkerchief which was her sig- 
nal of the approach of a wagon. After her galloped 
a Rebel Sergeant, with revolver drawn shouting to 
her to stop or he would fire. Abe Bolton stepped 
forward impulsively to shoot the Rebel, missed his 
footing, and slid down the hill, landing in the road 
with such force as to jar into unintelligibility a bitter 
imprecation he had constructed for the emergency. 
lie struck in front of the Sergeant, who instantly fired 



THE AMBUSCADE. 211 

at Aunt Debby's mare, sending a bullet through the 
faithful animal, which sank to her knees, and threw 
her rider to the ground. Without waitinsf to rise, 
and he wits not certain that he could, Abe fired his 
musket, l)ut missed both man and horse. He scrani- 
l)led*to his feet, and ran furiously at the Rebel with 
raised gun. The Sergeant fired wildly at him, when 
liolton struck the animal a violent blow across the 
head. It recoiled, slii)ped, and in another instant had 
fallen over the side of the road, and crushed his rider 
on the rocks below. Five of the wagon-guard who 
were riding ahead of the wagon gallojicd forward at 
the sound of the shots. Fortner, Edwards and Harry 
Glen fired into these, and three saddles were emptied. 
The remaining two men whirled their horses around, 
tired wildly into the air, and dashed back upon the 
plunging team, with which the driver was vainly 
struggling. The ground quivered as the frightened 
animals struck together; they were crushed back 
upon their haunches, and beat one another cruelly with 
their mighty hoofs. Wagon, horses and men reeled 
on the brink an agonizing instant ; the white-faced 
driver dropped the lines and sprang to the secure 
ground ; the riders strained with the energy of deadly 
fear to tear themselves loose from their steeds, but in 
vain. Then the frantic mass crashed down the jagged 
rocks, tearing up the stunted cedars as if they were 
weeds, and fell with a sounding splash on the lime- 
stone bed of the shallow creek. 

Fortner, Glen, and Edwards came down as quickly 
as possible, the latter spraining his ankle badly by 
making a venturesome leap to reach the road first. 



212 THE RED ACORN. 

The\' found the man that Fortner liad shot at stone 
dead, with a bullet through his temple. The other 
two had been struck in the body. Their horses stood 
near, looking wonderingly at their prostrate mas- 
ters. 

Bolton was rubbing his bruises and abrasions, and 
vitui)erating everything, from the conduct of the war 
to tlie steepness of Kentucky mountains. Aunt 
Debby had partially recovere«l from the stunning of 
her fall, and limped slowly up, with her long riding- 
skirt raised by one hand. Her lips were compressed, 
and iier great gray eyes blazed with excitement. 

Tliey all went to the side of the road, and looked 
down at the crushed and bleeding mass in the creek. 

"My Gcxl I that's awful," said Harry, with a 
rising sickness a]>out his heart, as the excitement be- 
gan subsiding. 

''Plenty good enuf fur -touiKlrcI^ who rob poor 
men of all they hev," said Fortner fiercely, as he re- 
loadecl his rifle. " Hit's not bad enuf fur thieves an' 
robbers." 

" Hit's God's judgment on the wicked an' the op- 
pressor,'' said Aunt Debby, with solemn pitiless- 
ness. 

"Hadn't we better try to get down tiiere, and 
lielp those men out ?" suggested Harry. "Perhaps 
they are not dead yet." 

*' Aunt Debby, thet thar boss thet's raisin' his head 
an' whinny in'," said Fortner, with sudden interest, 
"is Joel Spriggs's roan geldin', sho's yore bo'n, 
honey." He pointed to where a shapely head was 
raised, and almost human agony looked out of great 



THE AMBUSCADE 213 

liquid eyes. "Thetwuz the finest hoss in Laurel 
County, an' they've stole "im from Joel. HitUl 'bout 
break his heart, fur he set a powerful sight o' store 
on thet ere beast. Pore critter I hit makes me sick 
ter see 'im suffer thet-a-way ! I've a mind ter put 
'im outen his misery, but I'm afcercd I can't shoot 
'im, so long ez he looks at me with them big pitiful 
eyes o' his'n. They go right ter my heart." 

*' You'd better shoot him,'' urged Aunt Debby. 
"Hit's a sin ter let an innercent critter suffer thet-a- 
way." 

Fortncr raised his rifie, and sent a bullet through 
the mangled brute's brain. 

Aunt Dcbby's eyes became fixed on a point where, 
a mile away down the mountain, a bend in the road 
was visil)Ie through an opening in the trees. 

**Look out," she said, as the echoes of the shot 
died away, " thar comes a hull lot on 'em." 

They looked and saw plainly a large squad of cav- 
alry, with a wagon behind. 

"We must get outen hcah, an' thet quick," said 
Forlner decisively. He caught one of the horses, 
and shortened a stirrup to make the saddle answer 
for a side-saddle. " Heah, Aunt Debby, let me help 
ye up, honey. Now Bolton and Edwards, I'll help 
ye on these ere other critters. Now skeet out ez fast 
ez the bosses' legs will tote ye. Don't spar 'em a 
mite. Them fellers'll gin ye the devil's own chase ez 
soon ez they git heah, an' see what's bin done. Glen 
and me'll go acrost the mounting, an' head 'em off 
on t'other side. Don't come back ef ye heah shootin', 
but keep straight on, fur we kin take keer o' this 



914 THE RED ACORN. 

crowd without enny help. Glon, you sasshay up the 
mounting thar ez fast ez the Lord'H let ye. Til bo 
arter ye right spry." 

All sped away as directed. Fortnor had i)eon 
loading his gun while speaking. He now rammed the 
bullet h()m(\ and withdrawing his rammer walked over 
to the elirt* beside whieh the teamster was cowering. 

"O, Mister Fortner. don't kill me— plejtsc don't I " 
whined the luckless man, getting awkwardly uj)(>n iiis 
knees, and raising his hands implorinirly. '• I sw.ii- 
ter God I'll never raise a hajid agin a Union man agin 
ef ye'll only spar my life." 

"Kill ye, Pete Iloskins ! " said Fortner with un- 
fathomable contempt. '' What consetc ye hev ter 
think yer wuth the powder an' lead. I hain't no l)ul- 
lots ter waste on caiT'on." 

He struck the abject fellow a couple of stinginir 
blows on the face with the ramrod, replaced it in the 
thimbles, and sprang up the rocks just as the head of 
the cavalry appeared around the bend of the road a 
few rods away. 

Overtaking Harry shortly, he heard about the same 
time the Rebels on the road below strike into a 
trot. 

''They know hit all now," he said, "an' hev 
started in chase. Let's jog on lively, an' get ter whar 
we kin head 'em off." 

Night had fallen in the meantime, but the full 
moon had risen immediately, making it almost as 
light as day. 

After half an hour's fast walking, the two Union- 
ists ha<l cut across the lon<r hor-^eshoe around which 



THE AMBUSCADE. 215 

the Rebels were traveling, and had come down nuich 
ahead of them on the other side of the mountain, and 
just wliore tlie road led up the steep ascent of another 
mountain. 

There was a loneliness about the spot that was 
terrible. Over it hung the '* thought and deadly feel 
of solitude." The only break for miles in the prime- 
val forest was that made for the narrow road. House 
or cabin there was none in all the gloomy reaches of 
rocks and gnarled trees. It was too inhospitable a 
region to tempt even the wildest squatter. 

The flood of moonlight made the desolation more 
oppressive than ever, by making palpable and sug- 
gestive the inky abysses under the trees and in the 
thickets. 

Fortner lo()ko(l up the road to his right and 
listened intently. 

A waterfall mumbled somewhere in the neighl)or- 
hood. The pines and hemlocks near the summit 
sighed drearil}'. A gray fox, which had probably 
just sui)ped oil* a phea.sant, sat on a log and barked out 
his gluttonous satisfaction. A wildcat, as yet supper- 
less, screamed its envy from a clift' half a mile away. 

"I can't hcah anything of Aunt Debby an" the 
others," said Fortner, at length ; " so I reckon they're 
clean over the mounting, an' bout safe by this time. 
Them beasts are purty good travelers, I imagine, an' 
they hain't let no grass grow in under the'r hufs." 

"But the Rebels are coming, hand over hand," 
said Harry, who had been watching to the left and 
listening. "I hear them now quite plainly. Yes, 
there they are," he continued, as two or three gal- 



216 THK RED ACORN. 

loped around a turn in the road, followed at a little 
interval by others. 

Tiie metallic clang of the rapid hoof-beats on the 
rocks rang through tjie somber aisles of the forest. 
Noisy fox and antiphonal wildcat stopped to listen to 
this inva-ion of sound. 

"Quick ! let 's get in cover," said Fortner. 

" Ye make fur thet rock up thar," said Fortner to 
Harry, pointing to a spot several hundred yards 
above them, ''and stay thar tell I come. Keep close 
in the shadder, so's they won't see ye." 

"It seems to me that I ought to stay with you," 
said Harry, indecisively. 

'* No ; go. Ye can't do no good heah. One 'a 
better nor two. I '11 be up thar soon. Go, quick." 

There was no time for debate, and Harry did as 
bidden. 

Fortner stepped into the inky shadow of a large 
rock, against which he leaned. The great broad face 
of the rock, gray from its covering of minute a^h- 
colored lichens, was toward the pursuers, and shone 
white as marble in the flood of moonlight. The dark- 
ness seemed banked up around him. but within his 
arm's length it was as light as day. The long rifle 
barrel reached from the darkness into the light, past 
the corner of the rock against which it rested. The 
bright rays made the little "bead" near the muzzle 
gleam like a diamond, and lighted up the slit as fine 
as a hair in the hind-sight. Three little clicks, as if of 
twigs breaking under a rabbit's foot, told that the 
triggers had been set and the hammer raised. 

The horsemen, much scattered by the pursuit, 



THE AMBUSCADE. 217 

clattered onward. In ones ami twos, with wide inter- 
vals between, they reached along a half mile of the 
road. Two — the best mounted— rode together at the 
head. Two hundred yards below the great white 
rock, which shone as innocent and kindly as a Heecy 
Summer cloud, a broad rivulet wound its way toward 
the neighboring creek. The blown horses scented the 
grateful water, and checked down to drink of it. The 
right-hand rider loosened his bridle that his steed 
might gratify himself. The other tightened his rein 
and struck with his spurs. His horse ''gathered," 
and leaped across the stream. As the armed hoofs 
struck sparks from the smooth stones on the opposite 
side, the rider of the drinking horse saw burst out of 
the white rock above them a gray cloud, with a cen- 
trd tongue of flame, and his comrade fall to the 
ground. 

His immediate reply with both barrels of his shot- 
gun showed that he did not mistake this for any 
natural phenomenon. The sound of the shots brought 
the rest up at a gallop, and a rapid tire was opened on 
the end of the rock. 

But the instant Fortner fired he sprang back 
behind the rock, and then ran under its cover a little 
distance up the mountain side to a dense laurel thicket, 
in which he laid down behind a log and reloaded his 
rifle. He listened. The firing had ceased, and a half- 
dozen dismounted men were carefully approaching 
the spot whence he had sent the fatal shot. He heard 
the Captain order a man to ride back and bring uj) 
tiie wagon, that the body of the dead man might be 
put in it. As the wagon was heard rumbling up, the 
10 



218 Tin: kkd ajokn. 

dismounted men reported to the Captain that tlic 
bushwhacker had made ^rood liis cscajx' and was no 
lonfrer behind tiie rock. 

"Well, he has n't nrone verv far," said tlie Captain, 
with a sava*re oath. '"Ho can't have got any distance 
away, and I '11 have him. dead or alive, before I leave 
this spot. The whole giiu*^ of.Lincolnite hellhounds 
are treed right up there, and not one of them sh.all 
get away alive." He put a l)one whistle to his lips, 
and sounded a shrill signal. A horseman trotted up 
from the rear in response to the call, leading a ho»m<l 
with a leash. "Take the dog up to that rock, there. 
Bill," said the Captain, ''and si't him on that devil's 
trail. Five more of you dismount, and deploy- there 
on the other side of the road. All of you move for- 
ward cautiously, watching the <log, and make sure 
you 'save ' the whelp Whou he is run out." 

The men left their saddles and m(»ved forward 
with manifest reluctance. They had the highly emo- 
tional nature usual in the iX)or white of the South, 
and this was deeply depressed l)y the weird loneliness 
that bnxMled over everything, and the bloodshed they 
had witnessed. Their thirst for venireance w.-is l)einnr 
tempered rapidly by a growing superstitious fear. 
There was something suix^matural in these mysteri- 
ous killings. Each man, therefore, only moved for- 
ward as he felt the Captain's eye on him, or his com- 
rades advanced. 

The dog. after some false starts, got the scent, and 
started to follow Fortner's footsteps. 

" He's done tuck the trail, Cap'n." called back one 
of the men. 



THE AMBUSCADE. 210 

"All riirht," answered the otiicor, "don't take 
your eyes oti" of him for a second till he trees the 
game." 

But the logs and the rocks and the impenetrahle 
darkness in the shadows made it impossible to follow 
the movements of the hound every moment. Only 
Fortner was able to do this. lie could see the great 
greeni>h-yellow eyes burn in the pitchy depths and 
steadily draw nearer him. They entered the laurel 
thicket, and the beast gr()wle<l as he felt the nearness 
of his prey. 

" Wolf must be gittin close ter him," said one of 
the men. 

Fortner laid his ritle acro.ss the log, and drew from 
his belt a long keen knife. He stirred slightly in do- 
ing this, and in tuming to confront the dog. The 
hound sprang forward with a growl that was abruptly 
ended, for Fortner's left hand shot out like an arrow, 
and caught the loose folds of skin on the brute's neck, 
and the next instant his right, armed with the knife, 
descended and laid the animal's shoulder and neck 
open with a long deep cut. But the darkness made 
Fortner mistake his distance. lie neither caught the 
dog securely, nor sent the knife to his heart, as ho in- 
tended, and the hound tearing away, ran out into the 
moonlight, bleeding and yeli)ing. Before he reached 
his human allies Fortner had silently sped back a 
hundred yards, to a more secure shelter, so that the 
volley which was poured into the thicket only endan- 
gered the lives of the chij^munks denizened there. 
The mounted men rode forward and joined those on 
foot, in raking the copse with charges of buck-shot. 



220 THE RED ACORN. 

Away ab<)ve Fortiu'i- and Harrv rose yoll-. and tlic 
clatter of frall()pin<2: horses. Before they could imag- 
ine what tins meant a little cavalcade swept by at a 
mad ufalloj), yelling at the tops of their voices, and 
charginir directly at the Hchcis below. In front were 
Aunt Dcbby, Bolt<m and Kdwanls. riding abreji.st, and 
behind them three men in homespun. 

The Rebels .'icemed totally unnerved by this start- 
ling apparition. The dismounted ones tlung them- 
selves on their horses and all tied away at a gallop, 
without attempting to make a stand and without 
taking thought of their wagon. As they .scurried 
along the opposite mountain-side Fortncr and Harry 
tired at them, but without being able to tell whether 
their shots took effect. 

The pursuit was carried but a little distance. The 
wagon was .secured and taken up the mountain. A 
little after midnight the sunnnit was passed, and Fort- 
ner led the way into an opening to the right, which 
eventually brought up at a little level s|X)t in front of 
a large cave. The horses were unhitched and unsad- 
dled, a fire built, cedar boughs gathered to make a bed 
on the rocky floor of the cave, and they threw them- 
selves down upon this to sleep the sleep of utter 
weariness. 

In the meantime Harry had learned that the new 
comers were cousins of Fortner'.s, who, l)eing out on 
a private scouting expedition, had been encountered 
by Aunt Debby and the others, near the summit of 
the mountain, and had started back with them to the 
assistance of Fortner. The sound of firins: had 8o 



THE AMBUSCADE. 221 

excited them that the .suggestion of a charge by Kent 
Edwards was eagerl}- acceded to. 

"It must be near three o'clock," said Kent, 
looking up at the stars, as he came back stealthily 
from laying the saddle blanket, which was the only 
covering he and Abe had, upon the sleeping form of 
Aunt Debby, "and my downy couch still waits for 
me. My life-long habits of staid respectal)ility have 
been gi-oatly shaken recently." 

Abe groaned derisively. 

An inspection, the next morning, of the wagon's 
load, showed it to be mainly made up of hams, shoul- 
ders and sides, plundered from the smokehouses 
visited. With these were a number of guns, includ- 
ing several fine rifles, and all the ammunition that 
could be found along the route. 

A breakfast was made of slices of ham broiled 
on the ends of sticks, and then a consultation was 
held as to the plans for the day's operations. 

The result of this wa.s a decision that Aunt Debl)y 
and one of the newcomers should go back and inform 
the neighborhood of what had taken place, gather a 
party to remove the dead from the creek and bury 
them, to keep the water from being poisoned, and 
recover wliat property might be found with the first 
wagon. Kent Edwards, Abe Bolton, and two of the 
new comers would scout down toward London, to 
ascertain the truth of the nimor that Zollicotfer had 
evacuated that place, and retired to Laurel Bridge, 
nine miles south of it. Fortner and Harry Glen 
would take the wagon to Wildcat Gap, report what 



222 THE RED ArOFiX. 

Ii.ul heon done, aiifl expl:iin to their commander the 
absence of the enlisted men. 



'' Shade of Kinir Solomon," said Kent to Abe, 
after their party had riiMcn for two or three horn's 
fhroii^rh the nioinitains toward London. " I wonder 
if there is any other kind of worldly knowledi^e that 
I know as little about as I did ot .seoutinjr when we 
>lMrted out i My eyes have been opened to my own igno- 
rance. I used to have the conceit that we two eonld 
)»Iay a f lir hand at any «rame of war they eoiild «jfet up 
for onr ent«'rtainment. But the.se Kenluekians <rive 
me points every hundred yards that I never so much 
as dreamed of Theirs is the wisdom of serjwnts 
when compared with our. dove-like innocence." 

'' I like dove-like innocence," interrupted Abe. 

"Hut did you ever see anybody that could iro 
through the country as these fellows can ? It's just 
marvelous. They know every .short cut to every 
jioint, and they know just where to go every time to 
see away ahead without bemg seen themselves. It 
would puzzle the sharpest Rebel bushwhacker to get 
the drop on them." 

"I don't know as I want to learn their w.iy of 
doing," said Abe crustily. "It looks like sneaking, 
<m a big scale, that's all. And I'm ashamed of this 
laying round behind a log or a rock to pop a man 
over. It ain't my style at all. I believe in open and 
above board fighting, give and take, and may the best 
man win.'' 



THE AMBUSCADE. 223 

" So do I, though I bTippose all's fair in war. But 
when we scout we give them the same chance to 
knock us over that they give us when they scout, 
ril admit it looks very much like murder to shoot 
men down that way, for it does not help either side 
along a particle. But these Kentuckians have a great 
many private injuries to avenge, and they can't do it 
any other way," 

All the people of the region wore intensely Union, 
so it was not dilBcult to get exact information of the 
movements of the Kel)els, and as the scouts drew 
near London they became assured that not only all 
of ZollicollVr's infantry, but his small parties of cav- 
alry had retreated beyond the town. Our scouts 
therefore, putting Edwards and Bolton to the front, 
that their blue uniforms might tell the character of 
the party, spurred into a gallop, and dashed into Lon- 
don, to be received with boundless enthusiasm. 

"Somebody ought to ride back to Wildcat imme- 
diately," said Kent, after they liad enjoyed their re- 
ception a little while, '"and report this to the Gen- 
eral." 

All assented to this proposition. 

"It is really the duty of myself and comrade here 
to do it," said Kent, shifting uneasily in his chair, to 
find a comfortable place to sit upon; "but as we 
have been for two days riding the hardest-backed 
horses over roads that were simply awful, and as pre- 
vious to that time we had not taken any equestrian 
exercise for several years, there are some fundamen- 
tal reasons — that is, reasons lying at the very base of 
tilings, (he shifted again) — why we should not be 



224 THE RED ACOIIN. 

called upon to do another mile of horseback riding 
until Time has had an opportunity to exercise his 
soothing and healing influence, so to speak. Abe, I 
believe I have stnted the case with my usual happy 
combination of grace and delicacy ? '' 

"You have, as usual, flushed a tail-race of big 
words." 

"Tn short," Kent went on. ("Ah, thank you. 
That is delicious. The best I ever drank. Your 
mountain stills make the finest apple jack in the world. 
There must be something in the water — that you don't 
put in. It's a.s smooth as new-made butter. Well, 
here's to the Banner of Beauty and Glory.) In 
short, as I wjis saying when you hospital)ly inter- 
rupted me, we are willing to do anytliing for the 
cause, but unless there is some other way of riding, 
the most painful clTort J could make for our beloved 
country would be to mount that horse again, and ride 
anotlier lunnlred yards. To be messenger of this 
good news would Ije bliss ; what urevents it is a 
blister." 

The crowd laughed boisterously. 

"Mister," said one of the Kentuckians who ac- 
companied them, with that peculiar drawling inflec- 
tion of the word that it were ho|Xiless to attempt to 
represent in print, *'ef ye want ter .send some one in 
yer places me an' Si heah will be powerful glad ter 
go. Jes' git a note ter the Jineral at Wildcat ready 
while we saddle fresh beasts, an' we'll hev hit in his 
hands afore midnight." 

The proposition was immediately accepted, and in 
a little while the Kentuckians were speeding their way 



THE AMBUSCADH. M5 

back to Gen. Schoepf. with a letter giving the news, 
and signed : •' Kent Edwards, Chief of Scouts/' 

That evening a party of young men who had fol- 
lowed the Rebel retreat some distance, brousrht in a 
wagon which had been concealed in an out-of-the-way 
place, and left there. It was loaded mainly with 
things taken from the houses, and was evidently the 
private collection of some freebooting subordinate, 
who did not intend that the Southern Confederacy 
should be enriched by the property. Hence, prob- 
ably, the hesitation about taking it along with the 
main train. It was handed over to Kent as the rep- 
resentative of the United States, who was alone au 
thorized to take charge of it. Assisted by Abe he 
>^tarted to make an inventory of its contents. A 
portly jug of applejack was kept at hand, that there 
might not be any sutfering from undue thirst during 
the course of the operation, which, as Kent provi- 
dently remarked, was liable to make a man as dry as 
an Arizona plain. 

The danger of such aridity seemed to grow more 
imminent continually, judged by the frequency of 
their applications to the jug. It soon became more 
urgent than the completion of the inventory. Fre- 
quent visits of loyal Kentuckians with other jugs and 
bottles, to drink to the renewed supremacy of the 
Banner of Beauty and Glory, did not diminish Kent's 
and Abe's apprehensions of ultimate thirst. Their 
clay seemed like some other kinds, which have their 
absorptive powers strengthened by the more they 
take up. They belonged to a not-unusual class of 
men whom it takes about as long to get thoroughly 
P 



226 THE RED ACORN. 

drunk as it does to lu-at y\\) an iron-furnace, hut the 
condition tliat thoy aciiiove then makes the intoxica- 
tion of other and ordinary men seem a very mild and 
tame exhilaration. 

By noon the next day this process was nearing 
its completion. A mes.senger gallojwd into town 
with the information that the Union forces were 
coming, and would arrive in the course of an hour or 
two. 

"Shjishso!'" said Kent, straightening himself uj) 
with a crushing dignity that always formed a sure 
gauge of the extent to which inehriation had pro- 
gressed. " Sha^h so ^ Troop-^ 'she United Shtates 
'l)()ut to enter shis lovely metropolis wish all pomp 
and shircumshtance 'rea.ssherted 'thority. 'Shton- 
ishin' event ; wonderful 'casion. Never happenecl 
'fore ; prohably never'll happen again. Ought to be 
'propriately celebrated, Abe I" 

That gentleman made a strong effort to control 
joints which seemed unmanageable, and .succeeded in 
assuming a tolerable erectness, while he blinked at 
his companion with stolid gravity. 

'• Abe, shis ish great 'casion. Greatest in she an- 
nalsh of she country. We're only represhentatives 
Government in she town. Burden whole shing fallsh 
on us. Undersbtand i AVe musht do every.shing. 
Undershtnnd ( Country 'spects every man to do his 
(bity. Undersbtand ? 

Abe sank down on a bench, leaned his head against 
the wall, and looked at his companion with one eye 
closed wearily. 

"Yesshir," Kent resumed, summoning up a new 



THE AMBUSCADE. 227 

supply of oratorical energy, and an official gravity 
beneath which his legs trembled. *' Name shis town's 
London. Shame name's big town 'cross ocean. Lots 
history c'nected wish name. Shtacks an' cords of it. 
Old times when King wanted t'come t' s'own 'gain 
Lord Mayor went out t'meet him, wish shtyle piled 
on bigger'n a hayshtack. Fact. Clothes tiner'n a 
peacock. Tendered him keys, freed'm city. All 
shat short shing. Ver' inipreshive shpcctacle. Ev- 
erybody felt bctter'n for imi)rovin' sight. Undcr- 
shtand ? We'll be Lord Mayor and train for shis 
London. We can rig out right here. Onr trous- 
seau's here in shis hair trunk." 

''Shall we get anyshing t' drink?" inquired Abe, 
making a temporary collection of his wits with a vio- 
lent etibrt. 

'•Abe I" the freezing severity of Kent's tone and 
manner would have been hopelessly fatal to early veg- 
etables. " Abe you've many good qualities— more of 
'em shan any man I know. But a degrading passion 
fur shtrong drink is ruinin' you. I'm your besht 
fren, an' shay it wish tearsh in m' eyes. Lemme beg 
o' you t' reform ere it ish too late. Beware of it, my 
fren, beware of it. It shtingeth like a serpent, an' 
biteth like a multiplier — 1 mean an adder. You 
haven't got my shuperb self-control, an' so yer only 
shafety lies in total abstinence. Cheese it, my fren, 
cheese it on she sheductive but fatal lush." 

"Are we goin' out t' meet she boysh ? " inquired 
Abe. 

"Shortainly we arc. Yesshir. An' we're goin' 
out ash I proposed. Yer a shplendid feller, Abe," 



f88 TIIE RED ACORN. 

continued Kent, with lofty patronage. ''A shplen- 
did fcUcr, an' do great credit t' yer 'portunitios. But 
y' haven't had my Mvantages of mingling constantly 
in p'lite s'ciety, y" know. Rough diamond, I know, 
'nail that short o' .shing, but lack polish an' easy 
grace. So Fll be th' Lord Mayor, an' y'll be th' 
train. Undershtand ? " 

He lurched forward, and came near falling over 
the chair, but recovering he stitfcned up and gazed on 
that useful article of furniture with a sternness that 
implied his belief that it was a rascally blackleg try- 
ing to insinuate itself into the circle of refinement and 
chaste elegance of which he was the particular orna- 
ment. 

''Come," he resumed, "le's bedizen ourselves; 
le's assume th' shplendor 'projiriate t* th* "cation." 

When the troops inarched in in the afternoon, 
they encountered at the head of the crowd that met 
them at the crossing of the creek just outside of town, 
a man who seemed filled with deep emotion, and 
clothed with strange fancies. He wore a tall silk hat 
of anticjue pattern, carefully brushed, which he pro- 
tected from the rays of the sun with a huge blue cot- 
ton umbrella. A blue broadcloth coat, with gilt but- 
tons, sat jauntily over a black satin vest, and nankeen 
trousei-s. A pair of gold spectacles reposed in mag- 
isterial dignity about half way down his no.se, and a 
lame >ilver-headed cane in the left hand balanced the 
umbrella in the right By the .side of the man with 
rare vestments stood another figure of even more 
limpness of general bearing, who.se garb consisted of 
a soldier's uniform pantaloons and woolen shirt — 



THE ambl:*cai)E. 229 

none too clean — set otf by a black dress-coat, and 
white linen vest. 

As the head of the column came up he in the blue 
broadcloth pulled ofl' his hat and spectacles, and ad- 
dressed himself to speech : 

''Allow me, shir, to welcome you with hoshpita- 
ble hands to a bloody — no, let me tender you, shir, 
the liberties of our city, and reshoice shat she old 
banner which has braved she battle, hash "" 

The column had stf)pped, and the Captain com- 
manding the advance was listening patiently to what 
he supposed was the address of an enthusiastic, but 
eccentric old Kentuckian, when one of the sharp-eyed 
ones in the company shouted out : 

''I declare, it's Kent Edwards and Abe Bolton." 

The yell of laughter and ai)i)lausc at the ludicrous 
mas<juerade shook the hills. The Colonel rode up to 
see what occasioned it. He recognized his two men, 
and his face darkened with anger. 

''You infernal ra.scals," he shouted, "you have 
been oflf plundering houses, have you, in place of 
being with your compan}'. I'll stop this sort of thing 
mighty sudden. This regiment shall not degrade 
itself by plundering and robbing, if I have to shoot 
every man in it. Captain, arrest those men, and 
kecji them in close continemont until I can have them 
irit'd and properly punished." 



230 THE RED ACORN. 



CHAPTKR XVJl. 

ALSPAUGH ON A BED OF PAIN. 

This Is the very ecstacy of love, 
WTiose violent property foredoes Itself. 
And leads the will to despirate undertakings 
As often as any passion under Heaven 
That does aflllet our natures.— //uni/«t. 

ENDURANCE is nuulo possible by reason of the 
element of divisibility. Metaphysical mathe- 
maticians imagine that there is j)()ssibly a ''fourth 
dimension," by the existence of which many hitherto 
inexplicable phenomena may be explained. They 
think that probably this, fourth dimension is 8ucce,'<8- 
!o7i of time. 

So endurance of unendurable things is explainable 
on the ground that but a small portion of them has to 
be endured in any given space of time. 

It is the old fable of the clock, whose pendulum 
and wheels stopped one day, appalled by the discov- 
er}' that they would have to move and tick over three 
million times a year for many wearisome years, but 
resumed work again when reminded that they would 
onh' have to tick once each second. 

So it was with Rachel Bond. 

The unendurable whole of a month's or a week's 
experience was endurable when divided in detail and 
spread over the hours and days. 

She was a woman — young and hiofh-natured. 



ALSPAUGH ON A BED OF PAIN. 231 

Being a woman she had a martyr-joy in affliction 
that comes- in the guise of duty. Young, she enjoyed 
the usefuhiess and importance attaclied to her work 
in the hospital. High-natured, she felt a keen satis- 
faction in triumphing over daily difficulties and obsta- 
cles, even though these were mainly her own feel- 
ings. 

Though months had gone by it seemed as if no 
amount of habituation could dull the edge of the sick- 
ening disgust which continually assailed her senses 
and womanly instincts. The smells were as nauseat- 
ing, the sights as repulsive, the sounds of misery as 
saddening as the day when she first set foot inside the 
hospital. 

From throbbing heart to dainty finger-tip, every 
fiber in her maidenly body was in active rebellion 
while she ministered to the rough and coarse men who 
formed the bulk of tlie patients, and whose afflictions 
she could not help knowing were too frequently the 
direct result of their own sins and willful disobedience 
of Nature's laws. 

One day, when flushed and Avearied with the peev- 
ish exactions of a hulking fellow whose indisposition 
was trifling, she said to Dr. Denslow : 

"It is distressing to find out how much unmanli- 
ness there is in apparently manly men." 

"Yes," answered the doctor, with his customary 
calm philosophy; "and it is equally gratifying to 
find out how much real manliness there is in some 
apparently unmanly men. You have been having an 
experience with some brawny subject ? " 

" Yes. If the fellow's spirit were equal to his 



232 THE RED ACORN. 

bone and brawn, he would oVrtop Julius Casar. In- 
stead, he whimpers like a school-girl." 

" That's about the way it usually goes. It may be 
that my views are colored by ray lacking three or 
four inches of six feet, but I am sometimes strongly 
inclined to believe that every man — big or little — is 
given about the same amount of will or vital power, 
and the bigger and more lumbering the body he has 
to move with it, the less he accomplishes, and the 
sooner it is exhausted. You hnve found. I Iimvo no 
doubt, that as a rule the broad-chested, muscular six- 
footers, whose lives have ever passed at hard work in 
the open air, groan and sigh incessantly under the 
burden of minor afflictions, worry every one with their 
querulousness, moan for their wives, mothers, or 
sweethearts, and the comforts of the homes they have 
left, and linall}^ fret and grieve themselves into the 
grave, while slender, soft-muscled boys bear real dis- 
tress without a murmur, and survive sickness and 
wounds that by all rules ought to prove fatal." 

''There is certainly a good deal in that ; l)ut what 
irritates me now is a display of querulous tyranny." 

"Well, you know what Dr. Johnson says : 'That 
a sick man is a scoundrel. ' There is a basis of truth 
in that apparent cruelty. It is true that 'scoundrel' 
is rather a harsh term to apply to a man whose moral 
obliquities have not received the official stamp in open 
court by a jury of his peers. The man whose impru- 
dences and self-indulgences have made his liver sloth- 
ful, his stomach rebellious, and wrecked his constitu- 
tion in other ways, may — probably does — become 
an exasperating little tyrant, full of all manner of 



ALSPAUGH ON A BED OF PAIN. 233 

petty selfishness, which saps the comfort of others, as 
acid vapors corrode metals, but does that make him 
a 'scoundrel?' Opinions var}'. His much endurinu' 
feminine relatives would probal)ly resent such a query 
with tearful indignation, while unprejudiced outsiders 
would probably rcpl}' calmly in the affirmative.'''' 

" What is the medical man's view ? " asked Rachel, 
much anmscd by this cool scrutiny of what people 
are too often inclined to regard as among the '' inscru- 
table providences." 

"I don't speak in anything for the profession at 
large, but my own private judgment is that any man 
is a scoundrel who robs others of anything that is of 
value to them, and he is none the less so when he 
makes his aches and pains, mostly incurred by his 
gluttony, passions or laziness, the means of plunder- 
ing others of the comforts and pleasure which are 
their due.'' 

Going into the wards one morning, Rachel found 
that Lieutenant Jacob Alspaugh ha<l been brought in, 
suflfering from what the Surgeon pronounced to be 
" febrile symptoms of a mild type, from which he 
will no doubt recover in a few days, with rest, quiet 
and proper food. 

It is possibl}' worth while to note the coincidence 
that these symptoms developed with unexpected sud- 
denness in the midst of earnest preparations by the 
Army of the Cumberland, for a terrible grapple at 
Perryville with the Rebel Army of the Tennessee. 

Alspaugh recognized Rachel at once, much to her 
embarrassment, for her jirido winced at playing the 
rdle of nurse before an acquaintance, especially when 
10* 



234 Tin: nv.D acorn. 

that acquaintance was her father's hired-man, whom 
she knew too well to esteem highly. 

"O, Miss Rachel," he groaned, as she came to his 
cot in response to his earnest call, '' Fm so glad to see 
you, for I'm the sickest man that ever came into this* 
liospital. Nothin' hut the best o' care '11 carry me 
through, and I know you '11 give it to me for the 
sake of old times," and Jacob's face expressed to 
his comrades the idea that there had been a time 
■when his relations with her had i)eiMi exceedingly 
tender. 

Rachel's face flushed at tlie impudent assumj^tion, 
but she overcame the temptation to make a snul)l)ing 
answer, and replied quietly: 

"No, Jacob, you are not so sick as you think 
you are." ("She calls him 'Jacob,'" audibly com- 
mented some of those near, as if this was a confirma- 
tion of Jake's insinuation.) " The Surgeons say," she 
continued, "that your symj)toms are not at all bad, 
and that you '11 bo up again in a few days." 

"O, them Doctors always talk that way. They're 
the flintiest-hearted set I ever see in all my born days. 
They're always pretending that they don't believe 
there is nothin' the matter with a feller. I really 
believe they 'd a little liefer a man \\ die than not. 
They don't seem to take no sort of interest in savin' 
the soldiers that the country needs so badly." 

Rachel felt as if it would sweeten much hard ser- 
vice if she could tell Alspaugh outright her opinion, 
that he was acting verj' calfishly ; but other counsels 
prevailed, and she said encouragingly : 

"You are only discouraged, Jacob — that's all. A 



ALSPAUGH ON A BED OF PAIN. *i35 

few days rest here will restore both your health and 
your spirits." 

"No, I'm not discouraged. I'm not the kind to 
git down in the mouth — you know me well enough 
for that. I'm sick, sick I tell you — sicker' n any 
other man in this hospital, an' notliin' but the best o' 
nursin"ll save my life for the country. O, how I 
wish I was at home with my mother ; she'd take care 
o' me." 

Rachel could not repress a smile at the remem- 
brance of Jake's termagant mother and her dirty, 
comfortless cottage, and how her intemperance in 
administering such chastisement as conveyed most 
grief to a boy's nature tirst drove Jake to seek refuge 
with her father. 

"No doubt it would be very comfortable," she 
answered, ''if you could get home to your mother ; 
l)ut there's no need of it, because you'll be well be- 
fore you could possibly reach there." 

"No, I '11 never be well," persisted Jake, " unless 
I have the best o' care ; but I feel much better now, 
since I find you here, for I 'm sure you '11 take as 
much interest in me as a sister would." 

She shuddered a little at the prospect of even 
temporary sisterly relations to the fellow, but replied 
guardedly : 

"Of course I'll do what I can for you, Jacob," 
and started to move away, but he caught her dress 
and whimpered : 

"O, don't go, Miss Rachel ; don't go and leave 
me all alone. Stay any way till I'm tixed somehow 
comfortable." 



236 THE RED ACORN. 

"I half believe the booby will have h^'sterics,"" 
thought Rachel, with curling lip. ''Is this the man 
they praised so for his heroism i Doos all his man- 
hood depend upon his health? Now he hasn't the 
spii-it of a sick kitten." Dreading a scene, however, 
she took her seat at the head of the cot, and gave 
some directions for its arrangement 

Jake's symptoms grew worse rapidly, for he bent 
all his crafty energies to that end. Refuge in the hos- 
pital from the unpleasant contingencies attending duty 
in the field was a good thing, and it l)ecame superex- 
cellent when his condition made him the object of the 
care and synijKithy of so fine a young lady as Miss 
Rachel Bond. This he felt was something like com- 
pensation for all that he had endured for the country, 
and he would get as much of it as p()ssii)le. His 
mind busied itself in recalling and imitating the signs 
of suffering lu' had soon in others. 

lie breathed stertorously, groaned and sighed im- 
moderately, and even had little fits of well-feigned 
delirium, in which he babbled of home and friends 
and the war, and such other things as had come 
within the limited scope of his mental horizon. 

"Don't leave me. Miss Rachel — don't leave me," 
he said, in one of these simulated paro.xysms, clutch- 
ing at the same time, with a movement singularly well- 
directed for a delirious man, one of her delicate hands 
in his great, coarse and not-over-clean fingers. Had 
it been the hand of a dying man, or of one in a raging 
fever, that imprisoned hers, Rachel would not have 
felt the repulsion that she did at a touch which 
betrayed to her only too well that the toucher's illness 



ALSrAUGH ON A BED OF PAIN. 237 

was counterfeited. She could hardly restrain the im- 
pulse to dash away the loathsome hand, as she would 
a toad that had fallen upon her, but she swiftly remem- 
bered, as she had in hundreds of other instances since 
she had been in the hospital, that she was no longer in 
her own parlor, but in a public place, with scores of 
eyes noting every movement, and that such an act of 
just disdain would probalily be misunderstood, and 
possibly be ruinous to a belief in her genuine s^'m- 
pathy with the misfortunes of the sick which she had 
labored so heroically to build up. 

She strove to release her fingers quietly, but at 
this Alspaugh's paroxysm became intense. He clung 
the tighter to her, and kneaded her fingers in a way 
that was almost maddening. Never in all her life 
had a man presumed to take such a familiarity with 
her. But her woman's wit did not desert her. With 
hor disengaged hand she felt for and took out a large 
pin that listened a bit of lace to hor throat, with the 
desperate intent to give her tormentor a sly stab that 
would change the current of his thoughts. 

But at the moment of canning this into effect 
something caused her to look up, and she saw Dr. 
Denslow standing before her, with an amused look in 
his kindly, hazel eyes. 

She desisted from her purpose and restored the 
pin to its place in obedience to a sign from him, 
which told her that he thoroughly understood the 
case, and had a more effective way of dealing with it 
than the thrust of a pin point. 

" Fm very much afraid this is a dangerous case 
we have here, Miss Bond," he said in a stage whisper, 



238 THE RED ACORX. 

as if very anxious that the patient should not over- 
hear. "Yes, a very dangerous case." 

Jake grew pale, released Rachel's hand, turned 
over on his side and groaned. 

''Do you really think so. Doctor? '' said Rachel 
in the same tone. 

"Yes, really. It's as clear a case of (h' gustlbns 
non dhjyiitandum as I ever saw in my life." 

"O, Lordie, hev I got all of that? " asked Jake, 
as he sat bolt upright, with eyes starting. 

"It is my unpleasant duty to tell you that you 
certainly have," said the Doctor, gravely. "As 
plainly indicated as I ever saw it. Furthermore, it is 
seriously complicated with jiat jtiatHla mat ccBhim^ 
with strong hints of the presence of in media tti- 
tissimm /6/.y.'' 

"Great Scott! can I ever get weU?'" groaned 
poor Jake. RacheVs strain was on her risibles, and 
to make her face express only sympathy and concei-n. 

''And," continued the remorseless Surgeon, in a 
tone of the kindliest commiseration, "in the absence 
of the least ej<j)ri't de co/'j)s, and didce et decorum est 
pro jpatria mori feeling in you it is apparent that none 
of your mental processes are going on properly, which 
deranges everything." 

"Can't I be sent home to die ?" whimpered the 
Avretched Jake." 

''Not in your present condition. I notice, in ad- 
dition to what I have told you, that your heart is not 
right — its action is depraved, so to speak." This 
with a glance at Rachel, which brought the crimson 
to that damsel's cheek. 



ALSPAUOH OX A BED OV PAIN. 23!) 

'O, Doctor, please try to do something for me 
right off, before I get any worse," pleaded Jake, with 
the tears starting in his eyes. 

Rachel took this opportunity to slip away to where 
she could laugh unobserved. The Surgeon's facial 
muscles were too well trained to feel any strain. He 
continued in the same tone of gentle consideration : 

" I have already ordered the preparation of some 
remedies. The Steward will be here in a few min- 
utes with the barber, who will shave your head, that 
we may apply a couple of fly-blisters beliind your ears. 
They are also spreading a big mustard-plaster in the 
dispensary for you, which will cover your whole; 
l)reast and stomach. These, with a strong dose of 
castor-oil, may bring you around so that you will be 
able to go back to duty in a short time." 

Jake did not notice the unsheathed sarcasm m the 
Surgeon's allusion to returning to duty. He was too 
delighted with the chance of escaping all the horrors 
enumerated to think of aught else, and he even forgot 
to beg for Rachel to come and sit beside his bedside, 
as he had intended doing, until the blisters began to 
remind him that they stuck closer than a brother. 
After that he devoted his entire attention to them, as 
a man is apt to. 

A good-sized blister, made according to the United 
States Pharmacopoeia, has few- equals as a means of 
concentrating the attention. When it takes a fair 
hold of its work it leaves the gentleman whom it pa- 
tronizes little opportunity to think of anything else 
than it and what it is doing. Everything else is for- 
gotten, that it may receive full consideration. Then 



240 THE RED ACORN. 

comes in an opportunit}^ for a vigorous imagination. 
No one ever underestimates the work done by an ac- 
tive blister, if it is upon himself. No one ever grum- 
bles that he is not getting his money's worth. It is 
the one monumental exception, where men are willing 
to accept and be satisfied with a fractional part of that 
which they have bought and paid for. 

So when the hiyer of fresh mustard that covered 
the whole anterior surface of Mr. Alspaugh's torso 
began to take a fair hold of its appointed work that 
gentleman's thoughts became strongly focused upon 
it, and they succeeded each other as the minutes went 
by something in this fashion : 

First Ten Minutes. — "I 'spect that this may be- 
come rather unpleasant and bothersome, but it will 
not be for long, and it'll really do me much good." 

Second Ten- Jlifiutes. — "I had no idea that blisters 
felt just this way, but they never really hurt anybody 
but women and children — fnen laugh at them." 

TJiird Ten Minutes. — "The thing seems to be 
hunting 'round for my tender spots, and pokin' pins^ 
into 'em. I begin to wish that it was all over with." 

Fourth Ten Minutes. — "It begins to hurt real 
bad. I wonder if it ain't a'most time to take it off? " 

Fifth Ten Minutes. — "The very devil seems to 
be in that thing. It burns like as if a sheet of red- 
hot iron was layin' there." 

Sixth Ten Minutes. — " I surely believe that they've 
made a terrible mistake about that blister, and put in 
some awful thing that'll kill me if it ain't stopped. 
I'll swear it's not only eat all the skin off, but it's 
gone through my ribs, an' is gnawin' at my insides. 



AL8PAUGH 0^' A BED OF PAIN. 241 

Why don't the Doctor come 'round an' see to it ? 
Here, nurse, call the Doctor, a a' have this thing taken 
off." 

Nurse. — "No, it's all right. The Doctor left or- 
ders that it was not to be disturbed for some time yet. 
I'll see to it when the proper time comes. I'm watch- 
ing the clock. " 

Seventh Ten Minutes. — "Great Jehosefat ! this's 
jest awful. That blasted stuff's cooked my innards 
to rags, an' I kin feel my backbone a-sizzlin'. Say, 
Steward, do, for the Lord's sake, come here, an' take 
this thing off, while there's a little life left in me." 

Stevxird. — "Can't do anything yet. You must 
grin and bear it a little while longer." 

Eighth Ten Minutes. — " Holy smoke ! I couldn't 
suffer more if I was in the lake of burnin' brimstone. 
Every ounce of me's jest fryin'. Say, Steward ! 
Steward ! " 

Steward {angrily). — " I have told you several 
times that I couldn't do anything for you yet awhile. 
Now keep quiqt." 

' ' But, Steward, can't you at least bring me a 
fork?" 

" Why, what do you want a fork for? " 

" Jest to see for myself if I ain't cooked done — 
that's all." 

A roar of laughter went up in which even Dr. 
Denslow, who had just entered the ward, joined. He 
ordered the blister to be taken off, and the inflamed 
surfaces properly dressed, which was done to the ac- 
companiment of Jake's agonizing groans. 

"I think Lieut Alspaugh will be content to go 
Q n 



242 THE RED ACORN. 

back to the field in a few days, if we continue this 
vigorous treatment/' Dr. Denslow said, a little later, 
as he came into the reading-room of the hospital 
where he found Rachel sitting alone. 

"O, Doctor, how could you be so cruel?" she 
asked in tones which were meant to be reproachful, 
but only poorly disguised her mirthful appreciation 
of the whole matter. 

"I wasn't cruel ; I only did my duty. The fel- 
low's a palpable malingerer, and his being an officer 
makes it ever so much worse. He's trying to shirk 
duty and have a good time here in the hospital. It's 
my place to make the hospital so unpleasant for him 
that he will think the field preferable, and I'm going 
to do it, especially if I find him squeezing your hand 
again." 

There was that in Ihe tone of the last sentence 
which sol)ered her instantly. Womanly prescience 
told her that the Surgeon had discovered what seemed 
to him a fitting opportunity to say that which he had 
long desired. Ever since she had been in the hospi- 
tal he had exerted himself to smooth her path for her, 
and make her stay there endurable. There was not a 
day in which she was not indebted to him for some 
unobtrusive kindness, delicately and thoughtfully ren- 
dered. 

While she know quite well that these courtesies 
would have been as conscientiously extended to any 
other woman — young or old — in her position, yet her 
instincts did not allow her any doubt that there was 
about them a flavor personal to herself, and redolent 
of somethinir much warmer than mere kindliness. A 



ALSPAUGH ON A BED OF PAIN. 243 

knowledge of this hud at times tainted the pleasure 
she felt in accepting welcome little attentions from 
him. She dreaded what she knew was coming. He 
took her hand and started to speak with tremulous 
lips. But almost at the same instant the door was 
flung open, and a nurse entered in breathless haste. 

"O, Doctor/Mie gasped, "Fve been looking for 
you everywhere. That Lieutenant in the First Ward 
thinks he's a-dyin\ He's groanin' an' cryin', and 
a-takin' on at a terrible rale, an' nobody can't do 
nothin' with him. The Steward wants you to come 
there right off." 

"It's only the castor oil," muttered the Doctor 
savagely, as he rose to follow the nurse. 

This was the letter that the Orderly handed Rachel 
some days later : 

Dkah Ratik: Your letter came at last, for which I was so 
thankful, because I had waited so long for it that I was so tired 
aud so anxious that I was almost at my wits' end. I am so glad 
that you are well, (hat you have got your room at last fixed up 
real nice and comfortal)le. as a young lady should have, and that 
you find your duties more agreeable. It is so nice in that Dr 
Denslow to help you along as he does. But then that is what 
every real gentleman should do for a young lady— or old one for 
that matter. Still, I would like to thank him w much. 

I am not at all well: my heart gives me so much trouble- 
more than ever before— and as you say nothing about coming 
home I have about concluded to try what a change of climate and 
scene will do for me, and so have concluded to accept your Aunt 
Tabitha's invitation to spend a few months with her. Unless you 
hear from me to the contrary— whicli you will probably not, as 
the mails are so uncertain in Kentucky, you had better address 
your next letter to me at Eau Claire. 

But I am so sorry to see by your letter that you show no 
signs of weariness with your quixotic idea of serving the country 



244 THE RED ACORX. 

in the hospital. I had hoped so much that you would by this 
time have decided that you had done enough, and come home and 
content yourself with doing what you could for the Sanitary 
Fair, and the lint-scraping bees. 

Youu Affectionate Motheu. 

P. S. — Your father is well. He will go with me to Wiscon- 
sin, and then go down to Nebraska to look after his land there. 

P. S — I am so sorry to tell you that Harry Glen has acted 
badly again. The last letters from the regiment say that he did 
not go into the fight at "Wildcat, and afterward was missing. 
They believe he was captured, and some say he was taken pris- 
oner on purpose. Everybody's saying, "I told you so," and 
Mrs. Glen has not been on the street or to church since the news 
came. I am so sorry for her, but then you know that she used to 
put on quite as many airs as her position justified. 

P. S. — Hoop-skirts are getting smaller every month, and 
some are confident that they will go entirely out of fashion by 
next year. I do so hope not, 1 so dread having to come back to 
the old way of wearing a whole clothes-basketful of white skirts. 
The new bonnets are just the awfulest things you ever did see. 
Write soon. 



Rachel crumpled the letter in her hand, with a 
quick, angry gesture, as if crushing some hateful, 
despicable thing, and her clear hazel eyes blazed. 

"He is evidently a hopeless coward,"" she said to 
herself, "when all that has pa.ssed can not spur him 
into an exhibition of proper spirit. If he had the 
love for me he professed it could not help stimulat- 
ing him to some show of manliness. I will fling him 
out of my heart and my world as I would fling a rotten 
apple out of a basket." 

Then a sadder and gentler light shone in her face. 

"Perhaps I am myself to blame a little. I may 
not be a good source of inspiration to acts of heroism. 



ALSPAUGH ON A BED OF PAIN. 245 

Other girls may have ways of stimulating their lovers 
to high deeds that I know not of. Possrbly I applied 
the lash too severely, and instead of rousing him up 
I killed all the hope in his heart, and made him indif- 
ferent to his future. Possibly, too, this story may 
not be true. The feeling in Sardis against him is 
strong, and they are hardly willing to do him jus- 
tice. No doubt they misrepresent him in this, as they 
are apt to do in everything." 
Her face hardened again. 

"But it's of no use seeking excuses for him. My 
lover— my husband— must be a man who can hold his 
own with other men, in whatever relation of life the 
struggle may be. The man into whose hands I 
entrust the happiness of my life must have his qual- 
ities so clear and distinct that there never will be any 
question about them. He must not need continual 
explanation and defense, for then outraged pride 
would strangle love with a ruthless hand. No, I must 
never have reason to believe that my choice is inferior 
to other men in anything." 

But notwithstanding this, she smoothed out the 
crumpled letter tenderly upon her knee, and read it 
over again, in the vain hope of finding that the words 
had less harshness than she had at first found in them. 
"No, she said, after a weary study of the lines, 
"It's surely worse than mother states it. She is so 
kind and gentle that she never fails to mitigate the 
harshness of anything that she hears about others, 
and she has told me this as mildly as the case will 
admit. I must give him up forever." 

But though she made this resolution with a firm 



246 THE RED ACORN. 

settling of the lines around her mouth that spoke 
strongly of its probable fulfilment, the arrival of the 
decision was the signal for tlie assault of a thousand 
tender memories and dear recollections, all pleading 
trumpet-tongued against the summary dismissal of the 
unworthy lover. All the ineffably sweet incidents of 
their love-life stretched themselves out in a vista be- 
fore her, and tempted her to reverse her decision. 
But she stayed her purpose with repeating to herself: 

" It will save untold misery hereafter to be firm 
now, and end a connection at once that must be the 
worse for both of us every day that it is allowed to 
continue." 

There was a tap at the door, and Dr. Densiow 
entered. 

The struggle had so shattered Rachel's self-control 
that she nervously grasped the letter and thrust it 
into her pocket, as if the mere sight of it would 
reveal to him the perturbation that was shaking her. 

His quick eyes—quicker j'et in whatever related 
to her — noticed her embarrassment. 

"Excuse me," he said with that graceful tact 
which seemed the very fiber of his nature. " You are 
not in the mood to receive callers. I will go now. 
and look in again." 

"No, no ; stay. I am really glad to see you. it 
is nothing, I assure you." 

She really wished very much to be alone with her 
grief, but she felt somehow that to shrink from a 
meeting would be an evasion of the path of duty she 
had marked out for her feet to tread. If she were 
going to eliminate all thoughts of her love and her 



ALSPAUGH ON A BED OF PAIN. 247 

lover from her life, there was no better time to be^in 
than now, while her resolution was fresh. She insisted 
upon the Doctor remaining, and he did so. Conscious 
that her embarrassment had been noticed, her self- 
possession did not return quickly enough to prevent 
her falling into the error of failing to ignore this, and 
she confusedly stumbled into an explanation : 

"I have received a letter from home which con- 
tains news that disturbs me." This was as far as she 
had expected to go. 

Dr. Denslow's face expressed a lively sympathy. 
"No one dead or seriously ill, I trust." 

"No, not so bad as that," she answered hastily, 
in the first impulse of fear that she had unwarrant- 
ably excited his sympathy. " Nor is it anything con- 
nected with property," she hastily added, as she saw 
the Doctor looked inquiringly, but as though fearing 
that further questioning might be an indelicate intru- 
sion. 

She picked nervously at the engagement ring 
which Harry had placed upon her finger. It fitted 
closely, nnd resisted her efforts at removal. She felt, 
when it was too late, that neither this nor its signifi- 
cance had escaped Dr. Denslow's eyes. 

"A f-riend — an — acquaintance of mine has dis- 
graced himself," she said, with a very apparent effort. 
An ordinary woman would have broken down in a 
tearful tempest, but as has been said before she 
was denied that sweet relief which most women find 
in a readily responsive gush of tears. Her eyes be- 
came very dry and exceedingly hot. Her misery was 
evident. 



248 THE KED ACORN. 

The Doctor took her hand with a movement of in- 
voluntaiy s^'mpathy. •*! am deeply hurt to see you 
grieve," he said, ''and I wish that I might say some- 
thing to alleviate your troubles. Is it anything that 
you can tell me about i '* 

"No, it is nothing of which I can say a word to 
any one," she answered. "It is a trouble that I can 
share with no one, and least of all with a stranger." 

"Am I not more than a stranger to you?" he 
asked. 

"Oyes, indeed," she said, and hastemng to cor- 
rect her former coldness, added ; 

"You are a very dear, good friend, whom I vaiu^ 
much more highly than I have given you reason to 
think." 

His face brightened wonderfully, but he adven- 
tured his way slowly. "I am very glad that you 
esteem me what I have tried to show myself during 
our acquaintance." 

"You have indeed shown yourself a ver}' "true 
friend. I could not ask for a better one." 

"Then will you not trust me with a share of your 
sorrows, that I may help you l)ear them ? " 

"No, no ; you can not. Nobody can do anything 
in this case but m3'self." 

" You do not know. You do not know what love 
can accomplish when it sets itself to work with the 
ardor belonging to it " 

" Love ! O, do not speak to me of that," she said, 
suddenl}^ awaking to the drift of his words, and striv- 
ing to withdraw her hand. 

" No, but I must speak of it," he said with a vehe- 



ALSPAUGH ON A BED OF PAIN. 249 

mence entirely foreign to his usual half-mocking phi- 
losophy. "I must speak of it," he repeated with 
deepening tones. " You surely can not be blind to 
the ftict that I love you devotedly — absorbingly. 
Every day's intercourse must have shown you sonic- 
thing of this, which you could not have mistaken. 
You must have seen this growing upon me contin- 
ually, until now I have but few thoughts into which 
your image does not appear, to brighten and enhance 
them. Tell me now that hopes, dearer — infinitely 
dearer — than any I have ever before cherished, are to 
have the crown of fruition." 

"I can not — I can not," she sighed. 
"What can you not? Can't you care for me at 
least a little ? " 

" I do ; I care for you ever so much. 1 am not 
only grateful for all that you have been to me and 
done for me, but I have a feeling that goes beyond 
mere gratitude. But to say that I return the love you 
profess for me — - that I even entertain any feeling 
resembling it — I can not, and certainly not at this 
time." 

" But 3^ou certainly do not love any one else? " 
"O, I beg of you not to question me." 
"I know I have no right to ask you such a ques- 
tion. I have no right to pry into any matter which 
you do not choose to reveal to me of your own free 
will and accord. But as all the mail of the hospital 
goes through my hands, I could not help noticing that 
in all months that you have been here you have written 
to no man, nor received a letter from one. Upon this 
I have built my hopes that you wore hoartfree." 



250 THE RED ACORN. 

"I can not talk of this, nor of anvthinsr now. I 
am so wrought up by many things that have happened 
— by my letter from home ; by your unexpected dec- 
laration — that my poor brain is in a whirl, and I ran 
not think clearly and connectedly on any subject. 
Please do not press me any more now.'' 

The torrent of his passion was stayed b}^ this 
appeal to his forbearance. He essayed to calm down 
his impetuous eagerness for a decision of his fate, 
and said penitently : 

"I beg your pardon. I really forgot. I have so 
long sought an opportunity to speak to you upon 
this matter, and I have been so often balked at the 
last moment, that when a seeming chance came I was 
carried awa}- with it, and in my selfish eagerness for 
my own happiness, I forgot your distress. Forgive 
me — do." 

"I have nothing to forgive," she said frankly, 
nmch touched by his tender consideration. " You 
never allow me an occasion for forgiveness, or to do 
anything in any way to offset the favors you contin- 
ually heap upon me." 

''Pay them all a thousand times over by giving 
me the least reason to hope." 

" I only wish I could — I only wish I dared. But 
I fear to sa}' anything now. I can not trust myself." 

'"But you will at least say something that will 
give me the basis of a hope," he persisted. 

"Xot now — not now," she said, giving him her 
hand, which he seized and kissed fervently, and with- 
drew from the room. 



ALSPAUGH ON A BED OF PAIN. 251 

She bolted the door and gave herself up to the 
most intense thought. 

Assignment to duty with an expedition took Dr. 
Denslow awa}^ the next morning, without his being 
able to see her. When he returned a week later, he 
found this letter lying on his desk : 

My Very Deak Friend: The declaration you honored me 
with making have been the subject of many hours of the most 
earnest consideration possible. I am certain that it is due to you 
and to the confession that you have made of your feelings, that I 
should in turn confess that I am deeply— what shalfl say — 
interested in you ? No ; that is too prim and prudish a term. 
There is in you for me more than a mere attraction ; I feel for you 
something deeper than even warm friendship. That you would 
make such a husband as I sliould cherish and honor, of whom I 
should be proud, and whose strong, kindly arms would be my 
secure support and protection until death claimed us, I have not 
the slightest doubt. But when I ask myself whether this is really 
love— the sacred, all pervading pa.ssion which a wom.in .sliould feel 
for the man to whom she gives herself, body and soul, I encounter 
tlie strongest doubts. These doubts have no reference to you— 
only to myself. I feel that it would be a degradation— a deep 
profanation— for me to give myself to you, without feeling in its 
entirety such a love as I have attempted to define. I have gone 
away from you because I want to consider this question and 
decide it with more calmness and impartiality than I can where I 
meet you daily, and daily receive .some kindness from your hands. 
These and the magnetism of your presence are temptations which 
I fear might swerve me from my ideal, and possibly lead to a 
mistake which we both might ever afterward have reason to regret. 
I have, as you will be informed, accepted a detail to one of 
the hospitals at Nashville. Do not write me, except to tell me of 
a change in your postofHce address. I will not write you, unless 
I have something of special moment to tell you. Believe me, 
whatever may betide, at least your very sincere friend, 

Rachel Bond. 



252 THE RED ACORN. 



CHAPTER XVIIl. 



SECRET SERVICE. 

The flags of war like storm-birds fly. 

The charging trumpets blow. 
Yet rolls no thunder In the sky, 

No earthquake strives below. 

And calm and patient Nature keeps 

Her ancient promise well. 
Though o'er her bloom and greenness sweeps 

The battle's breath of hell. 

Ah! eyes may well he full of tears, 

And hearts with <iatc are hot, 
But even-paced come round the years. 

And Nature changes not. 

She meets with smiles our bitter grief, 

■With songs our groans of pain; 
She mocks with tint of flower and leaf 

The war-field' s crimson stain. 

— Whittier's '"Battle Autumn of 1 



THE Summer and Full of the ''Battle Year" of 
1862 had passed without the Army of the Cum- 
berland—then called the Army of the Ohio— l)eing 
able to bring its Rebel antagonist to a decisive strug- 
gle. In September the two had raced entirely across 
the States of Tennessee and Kentucky, for the prize 
of Louisville, which the Union army won. In Octo- 
ber the latter chased its enemy back through Ken- 
tucky, without being able to inflict upon it more than 



, SECRET SERVICE. 25d 

the abortive blow at Perryville, and November found 
the two opponents facing each other in Middle Ten- 
nessee — the Army of the Cumberland at Nashville, 
and the Rebel Army of the Tennessee at Murfrees- 
boro, twenty-eight miles distant. There the two equally 
matched giants lay confronting each other, and sul- 
lenly making ready for the mighty struggle which 
was to decide the possession of a territory equaling a 
kingdom in extent. 

In the year which had elapsed since the affair at 
Wildcat Harry Glen's regiment had not participated 
in a single general eniragement. It had scouted and 
raided ; it had reconnoitered and guarded ; it had 
chased guerrillas through the Winter's rain and mud 
for days and nights together ; it had followed John 
Morgan's dashing troopers along limestone turnpikes 
that glowed like brick-kilns under the July sun until 
three-fourths of the regiment had dropped by the 
roadside in sheer exhaustion ; it had marched over 
the mountains to Cumberland Gap, and back over the 
mountams to Lexington ; across Kentucky and Ten- 
nessee to Huntsville, Ala., back across those States 
to the Ohio River, and again back across Kentucky 
to Nashville, beside side marches as numerous as the 
branches on a tree ; 50 per cent, of its number had 
fallen victims to sickness and hardship, and 10 per 
cent, more had been shot, here and there, a man or 
two at a time, on the picket or skirmish line, at fords 
or stockades guarding railroad bridges. But while 
other regiments which had suffered nothing like it 
had painted on their banners "Mill Springs," " Shi- 
loh," and "Perryville," its colors had yet to receive 



254 THE RED ACORN 

their maiden inscription. This was the hard luck of 
many of the regiments in the left wing of BuelFs 
army in 1862. 

Kent Edwards, whose promotion to the rank of 
Sergeant, and reduction for some esca[)ade had been 
a usual monthly occurrence during the year, was fond 
of saying that the i-egiment was not sent to the field 
to gain martial glory, but to train as book agents to 
sell histories of the struggle, " When This Cruel War 
is Over." Whereupon Abe Bolton would imi)rove 
the occasion to invoke a heated future for every per- 
son in authorit3% from the President down to the 
Fifth Corporal. 

But for all this the 400 hardy boys who still re- 
mained to answer roll-call, out of the 1,100 that had 
crossed the Ohio River in September, 1801, were as 
fine a body of fighting men as ever followed a flag, 
and there was no better soldier among them than 
Harry Glen. Every day had been a growth to him, 
and every trial had knit his spirit into firmer texture. 
For awhile he had made it a matter of conscience to 
take an active part in everything that his comrades 
were called upon to do. Soon this l)ecame a matter 
of pleasure, for the satisfaction of successfully leading 
them through difficulties and dangers more than com- 
pensated for the effort. But while he had vindicated 
himself in their estimation, he yet lacked that which 
the ordeal of a battle would give him at home, and 
more than all, in RacheFs eyes. He heard nothing from 
or of her, but he consoled himself with the hope that 
the same means by which she had been so promptly 
informed of his misstep, would convey to her an inti- 



SECRET SEEVICE. 



255 



mation of how well he wa. deserving her. When lie 

ir TT r^r'l'''™"''' '"™^^'f laytbemather 
feet. Unfl then he conid only hope and strive, cher- 
ishmg all the while the love for her that daily .rew 
stronger in his heart. " 



A patient in her ward, recovering from a fever, 
attracted Rachel's attention soon after her entranc^ 
upon duty at Nashville. entrance 

Womanly intuition showed her that no ordinary 
spirit slumbered underneath the usual mountaineer 
characteristics. The long, lank, black hair, the an<.u- 
larou lines, and the uncouth gestures were comm"on 
enongl among hose around her, but she saw a latent 

formed r""""^'"" •'•"•' '"""'"'' ^>'-' -'"^h trans- 
formed the man into one in whose brain and hand 
slept many possibilities that were liable to awaken at 

t.aying this fact by .singling him out as the recipient 
of many Imie attentions somewhat more special than 
those she bestowed on others. 

wnrd" f""" ""7, '!""''• "'■'"" '•^ *<> -""^^d "bout the 
ward she would in turning discover his eyes fixed 

study After awhile the study seemed to show that 
It had been satisfactory, and one d.ay, when the Sur- 
geon had informed him that he w.as now in a condi- 

L'llrCU : '"'' ^^'^"^™" '" '-' «' '" "o -' 

"Kin I speak ter ye a moment in private. Miss?" 

Certamly,"she replied. "Come right in here." 



256 THE RED ACORN. 

Entering the room he closed the door behind them, 
and made a minute survej' of the windows, and other 
points of vantage for eavesdroppers. This done, he 
returned to where Rachel was watching his operations 
with much curiosit}', and said : 

" Let's set down. I guess no one'll overhear us, 
ef we're keerful. 

'' Hev ye enn\^ idee who I am ? " he asked ab- 
ruptly, as they sat down on one of the rude benches 
with which the room was furnished. 

"Not the slightest,'' she answered, "except that 
you appear on tlie roll as 'James Brown, No. 23,' no 
company or regiment given." 

"Very good. D'ye reckon thet enny o' them in 
thar hev ? " — pointing over his shoulder with his thumb 
to the ward. 

''Of course I can 'not tell as to that. I never 
hear them say anything about you. They seem to 
think that you are one of the loyal East Tennesseeans 
that are pretty plentiful about here." 

"I've bin afeered fur the last few days that some 
uv 'em were Rebels in disguise, an' thet they sort o' 
suspicioned me. I hev seed two on 'em eyein' me 
mouty hard. One has a red head, an' 'tother a long 
black beard. " 

"I can perhaps .set your anxiety at rest on that 
score. They are Southerners, but loyal ones. They 
were forced into the Rebel army, but made their es- 
cape at the first opportunity. They naturally watch 
every Southern-looking man with great interest, fear- 
ing that he may be an unpleasant acquaintance." 

"Desarters from the Rebel army, be they? Thet 



SECRET SERVICE. 257 

makes me sho\ I thot I'd seen 'em afore, an' this 
makes me sartin. They're mouty bad pills, an' they 
hain't heah far no good. But whar did I see 'em ? 
In some Rebel camp soniewhar? No ; now I remem- 
ber. Ef I hain't powerfully fooled them's the two 
laddie-bucks thet Harry Glen an' me gobbled up one 
fine momin' an' tuck inter Wildcat. They're bad 
aigs, ef ther ever war bad aigs. " 

" Harry Glen, did you say ? What do you know 
of Harry Glen ? " Her heart was in her mouth. 

"What do I know of Harry Glen ? Why, jest 
heaps an' more yit. He's one o' the best men thet 
ever wore blue clothes. But thet's nuther heah nor 
thar. Thet hain't what I brung ye out heah ter talk 
on." 

"Go on," said Rachel, resisting her eagerness to 
overwhelm him with questions concerning the one 
man of all the world she most desired to learn about. 
"I can spare you but little time." 

"All right, Miss. Ter begin with, my name's 
not Brown. Nary a time. Hit's Fortner— Jim Fort- 
ner — the 'noted Scout,' ez I heered ye readin' 'bout 
'tother day, when ye war givin' the boys the war 
news in the papers. I'm well-known ez a secret- 
sarvice man — tu well-known, I'm afeered. I could 
git 'long 'ithout quite ez menny 'quaintances pz I hev 
gethered up lately. More 'specially o' the kind, fur 
menny on 'em ar' only waitin' a good opportunity ter 
gin me a gran' interduction to 'tarnity. I'd ruther 
know fewer folks an' better ones, ez I wunst heered 
Harry Glen say." 

"What do you know of -" Rachel started to 

R 11* 



258 THE RED ACORN. 

say, but beforo she could finish the sentence Fortnei 
resumed : 

"I'm now 'l)()ut tor start on the most 'portant 
work I ever done fur the Gover'mint. Things ar' 
ripcnin' fast fur the orfulest battle over fit in this ere 
co'ntry. Afore the Chrismuss snow flies this ere 
army'll fall on them thar Rel>els "round Murfreesboro 
like an oak tree on a den o" rattlesnakes. Blood'll 
run like water in a Spring thaw, an' them foUors'll 
hov so monny fun'rals tor tend thot thoy won't hcv 
no time for Chrismuss frolics. They've raced back 
an' forrard, an' dodged up an' down fur a year now, 
but they're at the eend uv ther rope, an' hit'll be a 
deth-nooze fur 'em. May the pit o' hell open fur 
'em.'' 

He watched Rachel's face closely as he spoke. 
She neither blanched iTor recoiled, but her eyes lighted 
up as if with anticipation of the coming conflict, and 
she asked eagerly : 

"O, are yon only quite sure that our army will be 
victorious ? " 

His eyes shone with gratification. 
"Iknowed thet's the way ye'd take the news. I 
knowod the minit I sot eyes on ye thot ye war good 
grit. I never git fooled much in my guess o' peo- 
ple's backbone. Thar wuz Harry Glen — all his own 
comrades thot he wuz white 'bout the liver, but I 
seed the minit I laid my eyes onter him thet he hed 
ez good, stan'-up stuff* in him ez ennybody, w'en he 
got over his fust flightiness.'* 

Had this man some scheme that would bring her 
lover and her together '( " But what do you want of 



SECRET SERVICE. 259 

me ? •' Rachel asked, with all the composure she could 
summon. 

'•Suthing a cussed sight more hon'rable an' more 
useful ter ther Gover'mint then stayin'Vound heah 
nussin' those loafers," he answered roughly. " Hist ' 
thar's a shadder nigh ycm winder." He crossed the 
room with the quick, silent tread of a panther, and 
his face dai-kened as he saw the ol>jecti()nable red- 
headed and black-bearded men walkinir away toward 
the parade-ground, with their backs to the'window 
" Yer orful cute," he said, talking to himself, and 
alludmgtothe retiring figures, -but ef I don't o-in 
ye a trip afore long thet'U make yer heels bre^ak 
yer pizen necks I hope I may never see Rockassel 
Mountings agin. Td do hit now, but I'm a-trailin' 
bigger game. When hit's my day fur killin' skunks 
look out— thet's all." 

Returning to the expectant Radiol he continued • 
"I leave ter-night fur the Rebel army at Mur- 
freesboro. Ole Rosy hisself sends me, but I'm ter 
pick out the messengers ter send my news back ter 
hiui by. I must hev sevVal so's ter make dead slio' 
thet ev'rything reaches 'im. I want ye fur the main 
one, bekase ye've got brains an' san', and then ye kin 
git thru the lines whar a man can't. Tliar'll be noth- 
m' bad 'bout hit. Ye'll ride ter xMurfreesboro an' 
back on yer own boss, ez a young lady should, an' if 
ye accomplish ennything hit'U be a greater sarvice 
tew the country then most men kin do in ther lives 
Hit II be sum'thing ter be proud of ez long's ye live 
Willye try hit?" 

•'Why don't you bring back the information 



260 TH?: RED ACORN. 

yourself^ Can't yon come back througli the lines 
as easil}' as you go ? " 

"I mout, an' then air'in I nioutn't. Every time I 
go inter the Rebel camps the chances get stronger 
thet I '11 never come back ag'in. Ez Harry Glen sez, 
the circle o' my onpleasant acquaintances — the fellers 
thet 's reachin' fur my top-knot— widens. Thar 's so 
many more on 'em layin' fur me all the time, thet the 
prosju'cts keeps gittin' brigliter every day thet by-an' 
by they '11 fetch me. The arrant I 'm a-gwineon now 
is too important ter take any resks 'bout. I 'm sartin 
to git the information thet Gineral Kosy wants, but 
whether 1 kin git hit back ter him is ruther duber- 
some. I must hev 'some help. Will ye jine in 
with me ( " 

"But how am 1 to know that all this is as you 
say?'' 

"By readin' these 'ere pa.sses, all signed by Gin- 
eral Rosencrans's own hand, or by takin' a walk with 
me up ter headquartei*s, whar they '11 tell ye thet I 'm 
all right, an' ez straight ez a string." 

••But how can I do what you wnnt ^ I know 
nothing of the country, nor the people, and still less 
of this kind of service. I would probably make a 
blunder that would spoil all." 

'• I '11 resk the blundei-s. Ye kin ride critter-back, 
can't ye?" 

Rachel owned that she was a pretty fair horse- 
woman. 

" Then all ye hev ter do is ter git yer.self up ez ye 
see the young women who are ridin' "round heah, an' 
airly on the day arter to-morrow mornin', mount a 



SECRET SERVICE. 261 

blooded mar thct yc 11 tind .standin" afore the door 
thar, all rigged out ez fine ez silk, an' go down the 
Lavergne turnpike, at a sharp canter, jes ez though 
ye war gwine somewhar. Nobody on our lines Ml be 
likely ter say anything ter ye, but ef they do, ye '11 
show 'em a pass from Gineral Rosy, which, howso- 
ever, ye '11 tar up afore ye reach Lavei'gne, fur ye 'II 
likely tind some o' t' other folks thar. Ef any o' them 
at Lavergne axes ye inn)erent questions, ye must hev 
a story ready 'bout yer being the Nashville niece o' 
Aunt Debby Brill, who lives on the left hand o' the 
Nashville pike, jest north o' the public squar in Mur- 
freesl)oro, an' ye 're on yer way ter pay yer ole Aunty 
a long promised visit." 

" There is such a woiiimu in Murfrecsljoro? " 

"Yes, an' she's talked a great deal 'bout her niece 
in Nashville, who 's comin' ter see her. I tiiought" — 
the earnestness of the eyes relaxed to a suspici(m of a 
twinkle — " thet sometime I mout come across sich a 
nii'ce fur the ole lady, an' hit wuz well ter be pre- 
pared fur her.'' 

''But suppose they ask me al)out things in Nasli- 
ville ? " 

" Wll, yc must fix up a story 'bout thet too. Ye 
needn't be very partickelar what hit is, so long's hit's 
awful savage on the Yankees. Be keerful ter sa}' 
frequently thet the Yankees is awful sick o' their job 
o' holdin' Nashville ; that their new Dutch Gineral is 
a mean brute, an' a coward beside ; thet he 's skeered 
'bout out 'n his wits half the time, an' he 's buildin' 
the biggest kind o' forts to hide behind, an' thet he 

CO 

won't dar show his nose outside o' them — leastways 



262 TIIK RKD ACORN. 

not this \^vo Wiiitor. Talk t-z imicli oz ye kin 'l)out 
the sojers rrwine inter AVintcr (jiiarters ; 'Ijout them 
being mortally sartin not tcM- do anything toll next 
Spring, an' 'bout them tlesartin* by rijimints an' brig- 
ades, an' gwine home, bekasc tlu'V "re siek an' tired o' 
the war." 

"^Sly," said Kachel. with a gasp. '• what awful 
things to tell ! *" 

"Yes," returned the seout C()nii)lacently. "I 
s'poscd hit'd strike you thet away. Hut my experi- 
ence with war is tlict hit 's jot plum full o' awful 
things. In fart hit don't seem ter hev much else in 
hit. All ye hev ter ax yerself is whether this is nigh 
on ter ez awful ez the things they 'uns do to we *un>. 
Besides, we 'uns are likely ter give they 'uns in a few 
day- a heap more interestin' things ter think about 
then the remarkable stories told by young ladies out 
fur a mornin' ride." 

"Ill take some hours to think this matter over," 
said Rachel, "and give you your answer this after- 
noon. That '11 be time enough, will it not ? '' 

'•Heai)s an' plenty, ma'am," he answered, as he 
rose to go. " She '11 go," he added to himself. '• I "m 
not fooled a mite on thet 'ere stock. I'll jest go to 
headquarters an' git things ready for her" 

He was right. The i)rospect of doing an impor- 
tant service on a grand occasion was stimulus enough 
for Rachel's daring spirit, to make her undertake 
anything, and when Fortncr returned in the after- 
noon he found her eager to set out upon the enter- 
prise. 



SECRET SERVICE. 263 

But as the eveniiiir c:iine on with its depressing 
shadows and silence, she felt the natural reaction that 
follows taking an irrevocable step. The loneliness of 
her unlighted room was peopled with ghostly mem- 
ories of the horrors inflicted upon spies, and of tales 
she had heard of the merciless cruelty of the Rebels 
among whom she was going. She had to hold her 
breath to keep from shrieking aloud at the terrors 
conjured u}) before her vision. Then the spasm passed, 
and braver thoughts reasserted themselves. Fortuer's 
inadvertent words of praise of Harry Glen were 
recalled, and began glowing like pots of incense to 
sweeten and purify the choking vapors in her imag- 
inati(m. 

Could it be that Harry had really retrieved him- 
self? He had certainly gained tiie not -easily -won 
admiration of this brave man, and it had all been to 
render himself worthy of her ! There was rapture in 
the thought. Then her own heroic aspirations welled 
up again, bringing intoxication at the prospect of 
ending the distasteful routine of nursing, by taking 
an active part in what would be a grand event of his- 
tory. Fears and misgivings vanislied like the mists 
of the morning. She thought only of how to accom- 
plish her mission. 

She lighted a candle and wrote four letters — one 
to her mother, one to Dr. Denslow, one to Harry 
Glen in care of his mother, and one to the Hospital 
Steward, asking him to mail the letters in case he 
did not receive any contrary request from her before 
the 10th of January. 



264 THE RKD ACORN. 

She was too excited to sleep in the early p-irt of the 
night, and busied her waking hours in packing her 
clothing and books, and maturing her plans. 

She had much concern about her wardrobe. Never 
in all the days of her village belleship had she been 
so anxious to be well-dressed as now, when about to 
embark upon the greatest act of her life. She planned 
and schemed as women will in sueh times, and rising 
early the next morning she visited the stores in the 
city, and procured the material for a superb riding 
habit, A cutter from a fashionable establishment in 
Cincinnati was found in an Orderly Sergeant in one 
of the convalescent wards, and enough tailors 
responded to tlie call for such artisans, to give him 
all the help required By evening she was provided 
with a hal)it that, in material and that sovereign but 
indescribable quality called "style," was superior to 
those worn by the young ladies who cantered about 
the streets of Nashville on clean-limbed thorough- 
breds. 

As she stood surve3'ing the exquisite ''set" of the 
garment in such mirrors as she could procure, she 
said to herself quizzically : 

"I feel now that the expedition is going to be a 
grand success. No woman could fail being a heroine 
in such an inspiration of a dress. There is a moral 
support and encouragement about a perfectly made 
garment that is hardly equaled by a clear conscience 
and righteousness of motive." 

The next morning she came forth from her room 
attired for the journey. A jaunty hat and feather sat 
gi'Ecefully above her tace. to which excitement had 



SECRET SERVICE. 205 

given a strikino; animation. One trimly-gauntleted 
hand carried a dainty whip ; the other supported the 
long skirts of her riding hal)it as she moved through 
the ward with such a newly-added grace and beauty 
that the patients, to whom her appearance had become 
familiar, raised in tlieir beds to follow the lovely spec- 
tacle witii their eyes, and then turned to each other to 
comment upon lier beauty. 

At the door slie foimd an orderly, holding a spir- 
ited young mare, handsome enough for a Queen's 
palfrey, and richly caparisoned. 

She sprang into the saddle and adjusted her seat 
with the easy grace of an accomplished horsewoman. 

A squad of " Convalescents '' standing outside, and 
and a group of citizens watched her with an admira- 
tion too palpable for her to be unconscious of it. 

She smiled pleasantly upon tlie soldiers, and gave 
them a farewell bow as she turned the mare's head 
away, to which they responded with cheers. 

A few hundred yards further, where an angle in 
the street would take her from their view, she lurned 
around again and waved her handkerchief to them. 
The boys gave her another ringing cheer, with waving 
hats and handkerchiefs ; her steed broke into a canter 
and she disappeared from view. 

" Where is she going? " asked one of the soldiers. 

"I don't know," responded another gallantly; "but 
wherever it is, it will be better than here, just because 
she's there." 

The sight of an orderly, coming with the morning 
mail, ended the discussion by scattering the squad in 
a hurry. 

12 



266 THE RED ACORN. 

Rachel cantered on, her spirits rising continually. 

It was a bright, crisp morning — a Tennessee 
Winter morning — when the air is as wine to the 
blood, and sets every pulse to leaping. Dt-licate bal- 
samic scents floated down from groves of shapely 
cedars. Gratefully-astringent odors were wafted from 
the red oaks, ranked Ui)on the hillsides and still cov- 
ered with their leaves, now turned bright-brown, mak- 
ing them appear like serried phalanges of giant 
knights, clad in rusted scale armor. The spicy smell 
of burning cedar rose on the lazily-curling smoke 
from a thousand camp-fires. The red-berried holly 
looked as fresh and bright as rose-bushes in June, and 
the magnolias still wore their liveries of Spring. The 
sun shone down with a tender fervor, as if wooing 
the sleeping buds and flowers to wake from a slumber 
of which he had grown weary, and start with him 
again through primrose paths on the pilgrimage of 
blossoming and fruitage. 

RacheFs nostrils expanded, and she drank deeply 
of the exhilarating draughts of mountain air, with its 
delicious woodsy fragrance. Her steed did the same, 
and the hearts of both swelled with the inspiration. 

Away she sped over the firm, smooth ]\Iurfrees- 
boro Pike, winding around hillsides and through val- 
leys filled with infantry, cavalry and artillery, through 
interminable masses of wagons, herds of braying 
mules, and crowds of unarmed soldiers trudging back 
to Nashville, on leave of absence, to spend the day 
seeing the sights of the historic Tennessee capital. 
In the camps the soldiers were busy with evergreen 
and bunting, and the contents of boxes received from 



SECRET SERVICE. 267 

the North, preparing for the celebration of Christmas 
in something like the manner of the old days of home 
and peace. 

Like the sweet perfume of rose-attar from a bun 
(lie of letters unwittingly stirred in a drawer, rose 
the fragrant memory of the last of those Christmascs 
in Sardis before the war, when winged on the scent 
of evergreens, and the merry laughter of the church 
decorators, came to her the knowledge that she had 
found a lodgment in the heart of Harry Glen. 

Was memory juggling with her senses, or was 
that really his voice she heard in command, in a field 
to her left? She turned a swift, startled look in that 
direction, and saw a Sergeant marching a large squad 
at quick time to join a heavy ''detail.'' His back was 
toward her, but his figure and bodily carriage were 
certainly those of Plarry Glen. But before she could 
make certain the squad was merged with the "detail," 
to the obliteration of all individuality, and the whole 
mass disappeared around the hill. 

She rode on to the top of the rim of hills which 
encircle that most picturesque of Southern cities, and 
stopjied for a moment for a farewell to the stronghold 
of her friends, whose friendly cover she was abandon- 
ing to venture, weak and weaponless, into the camp 
of her enemies. 

Above her the gi-eat black guns of a heavy fort 
pointed their sinister muzzles down the Murfreesboro 
road, with fearful suggestiveness of the dangers to be 
encountered there. 

She remembered Lot's wife, but could not resist 
the temptation to take a one backward look. She 



2fi8 THE RED ACORN. 

f?;iw MS grand a landscape picture as the world af- 
fords. 

Serenely throned upon the hill that dominated 
the whole of the lovely valley of the Cumberland, 
stood the beautiful Capitol of Tennessee. 

Ionic porticos and graceful Corinthian columns of 
dazzling white limestone rose hundreds of feet above 
the fountains and magnolia-shaded terraces that 
crowned the hill — still more hundreds of feet above 
the densely packed roofs and spires of the city 
crowded upon the hill's rocky sides It was like 
some fine and pure old Greek temple, standing on a 
romantic headhmd, far above the murk and toil of 
sordid striving. But over the symmetrical pile floated 
a banner that meant to the world all that was signi- 
fied even by the banners which Greece folded and 
laid away in eternal rest thousands of years ago. 

At the foot of the hill the Cumberland, clear as 
when it descended from its mountains five hundred 
miles away, flowed between its high, straight walls 
of limestone, spanned by cobweb-like bridges, and 
bore on its untroul)led breast a great fleet of high- 
chiumoyed, white-sided transports, and black, sullen 
gunboats. Miles away to her left she saw the trains 
rushing into Nashville, unrolling as they came long 
black and white ribbons against the sky. 

"They're coming from the North,'"' she said, with 
an involuntary sigh ; '' they're coming from home." 

She touched her mare's flank with the whip and 
sped on. 

She soon reached the outer line of guards, by 
whom she was halted, with a demand for her pass. 



SECRET SERVICE, 269 

She produced the one furnished her, which was signed 
by Gen. Rosencrans. While the Sergeant was in- 
specting it it occurred to her that now was the time 
to begin the rdle of a young woman with rebellious 
proclivities. 

"Is this the last guard-line I will have to pass? " 
she asked. 

" Yes'm,'* answered the Sergeant. 
" You're quite sure ? " 
" Yes'ni." ■ 

"Then I won't have any further use for this— 
thing ? " indicating the pass, which she received back 
with fine loathing, as if it were something infec- 
tious. 

"No'm." 
"Quite sure?" 
" Yes'm, quite sure." 

She rode over to the fire around which part of 
the guard were sitting, held the pass over it by the 
extremest tips of her dainty thumb and forefinger, 
and then dropped it upon the coals, as if it were a 
rag from a small-pox hospital. Glancing at her fin- 
ger-tips an instant, as if they had been permanently 
contaminated by the scrawl of the Yankee General, 
she touched her nag, and was off like an arrow with- 
out so much as good day to the guards. 

" She-cesh— clean to her blessed little toe-nails," 
said the Sergeant, gazing after her meditatively, as 
he fished around in his pouch for a handful of Kinni- 
kinnick, to replenish his pipe, " and she's purtier'n a 
picture, too." 

"Them's the kind that's always the wust Rebels," 



270 TfiE ri:d acokn. 

said the oracle of the sqnad. from his .seat by the fire. 
"I'll bet she's just loaded down Avith information or 
ouinine. Mebbe both." 

She was now fairly in the enemy's country, and 
her heart beat faster in momentar}' expectation of en- 
countering^ some form of the perils abounding there. 
But she became calm, almost joyous, as she pas.sed 
through mile after mile of tranquil landscape. The 
war might as well have been on the other side of the 
Atlantic for any hint .she now .saw of it in the peace- 
ful, sun-lit fields and woods, and streams of crystal 
spring-water. She saw women busily engaged in 
their morning work about all the cabins and houses. 
With bare and sinewy arms they beat up and down 
in tiresomely monotonous stroke the long-handled 
da.shers of cedarn churns standing in the wide, open 
•'entries" of the '' dolible-houses ; " they arrayed 
their well-scalded milk crocks and jars where the sun's 
rays would still further sweeten them ; they plied 
swift shuttles in the weaving sheds ; they toiled over 
great, hemi.^pherical kettles of dye-stuffs or soap, swing- 
ing from poles over open fires in the yard ; 1hey 
spread out long webs of jeans and linen on the grass 
to dry or bleach, and all the while they .'^ang — sang 
the measured rhythm of familiar hymns in the high 
soprano of white women sang wild, plaintive lyrics 
in the liquid contralto of negresses. Men were re- 
pairing fences, and doing other Winter work in the 
fields, and from the woods came the ringing staccato 
of choppers. She met on the road leisurely-traveling 
negro women, who louted low to her, and then as she 
passed, turned to gaze after her with feminine analy- 



SECRET SERVICE. 271 

sis and admiration for every detail of iier attire. 
Then came "Uncle Tom" looking men, driving 
wagons loaded with newly-riven rails, breathing the 
virile pungency of freshly-cut oak. Occasionally an 
old white man or woman rode by, greeting her with 
a courteous "Howdy ? " 

The serenity everywhere intoxicated her with a 
half-belief that the terrible Rebel army at Murfrees- 
boro was only a nightmare of fear-oppressed brains, 
and in her relief she was ready to burst out in echo 
of a triumphant hymn ringing from a weaving-shed 
at her right. 

Her impulse was checked by seeing approach a 
figure harshly dissonant to Arcadian surroundings 

It was a young man riding a powerful roan horse 
at an easy gallop, and carrying in his hand, ready foi- 
instant use, a 16-shooting Henry rifle. He Avas evi- 
dently a scout, but, as was usual with that class, his 
uniform was so equally made up of blue and gray 
that it was impossible to tell to which side he be- 
longed. He reined up as he saw Rachel, and looked 
at her for a moment in a way that chilled her. They 
were now on a lonely bit of road, out of sight and 
hearing of any person or house. All a woman's fears 
rose up in her heart, but she shut her lips firmly, and 
rode directly toward the scout. Another thought 
seemed to enter his mind, he touched his horse up 
with his heel, and rode by her, saying courteously : 

"Good morning. Miss," but eyeing her intently 
as they passed. She returned the salutation with a 
firm voice, and rode onward, but at a little distance 
could not resist the temptation to turn and look back- 



272 THE RED ACORN. 

ward. To her horror the scout had stopped, half 
turned his horse, and was watching her as if debating 
whether or not to come l)at'k after her. She yielded 
to the impulse of fear, struck her mare a stiniring 
blow, and the animal flew away. 

Her fright sul)si(led as she heard no hoof-l)eats 
following iier, and when she raised her eyes, she saw 
that she was approaching the village of Lavcrgne, 
half-wa}- to Murfreesboro, and that a party of Rebel 
cavalry were moving toward her. She felt less tre- 
mor at this Hrsl sight of the armed enemy than she 
had expected, after her panic over the scout, and rode 
towanl the horsemen with perfect outward, and no 
little inward coinposure. 

The Lieutenant in command raised his hat with 
the greatest gallantry. 

'' Good morning. Miss. From the city. I suppose ?" 
he inquired. 

"Yes," she answered in tones as even as if speak- 
ing in a parlor ; " fortunately. I am at last from the 
city. I have been trying to get away ever since it 
seemed hopeless that our people would not redeem it 
soon." 

The conversation thus opened was carried on by 
Rachel giving copious and disparaging information 
concerning the " Yankees," and tlie Lieutenant listen- 
ing inlidmiration to the musical accents, interrupting 
them but rarely to interject a question or a favorable 
comment. He was as little cntical as ardent young 
men are apt to be of the statements of captivating 
young women, and Rachel's spirits rose as she saw 
that the worst she had to fear from this enemy was 



SECRET SERVICE. 2^3 

an excess of devotion. The story of her aunt at 
Murfrcesboro received unhesitating acceptance, and 
nothing but imperative scouting orders prevented his 
escorting her to the town. He would, however, send 
a non-commissioned officer with her, who would see 
that she was not molested by any one. He requested 
permission to call upon her at her aunt's, which 
Kachel was compelled to grant, for lack of any readv 
excuse for such a contingency. With this, and manV 
smiles and bows, they parted. 

All the afternoon she rode through camps of n)en 
in gray and butternut, as she had ridden throu-h 
those of men in blue in the morning. I„ these, as In 
he others, she heard gay songs, dance music and 
laughter, and saw thousands of merry boy.s rollickincr 
in the sunshine at games of ball and other sports° 
with the joyous earnestness of a school-house play- 
ground. She tried, but in vain, to realize that in a 
te^y days these thoughtless youths would be the de- 
mons of the battle-field. 

Just before dusk she came to the top of a low 
linmstone ridge, and saw, three miles awav, the lights 
ot Murfreesboro. At that moment Fortner appeared 
.jogging leisurely towai<l her, mounted on a splendid 

-O there 's my Cousin Jim ! " she exclaimed glee- 
fully, " coming to meet me. Sergeant, I am deeply 
obliged to you and to your Lieutenant, for your com- 
pany, and I will try to show my appreciation of it in 
the tuture in some way more substantial than words 
You need not go any farther with me. I know that 
both you and your horse are very tired. Good by " 



274 THE RED ACOliX. 

The Serjeant was only too glad of this release, 
which gave him an opportunity to get back to camp, 
to enjoy some good cheer that he knew was there, 
and bidding a hasty good-night, he left at a trot. 

Fortner and Rachel rode on slowly up the pike, 
traversing the gi*ound that was soon to run red with 
the blood of thousands. 

They talked of the fearful probabilities of the next 
few days, and hailed for some minutes on the bridge 
across Stone River, to study the wonderfully pictur- 
esque scene spread out before them. The dusk was 
just closing down. The scowling darkness seemed to 
catch around woods and trees and nouses, and grow 
into monsters of vast and somber bulk, swelling and 
spreading like the "gin" which escaped from the 
copper can, in the "Arabian Nights," until they 
touched each other, coalesced and covered the whole 
land. Far away, at the edge of the valley, the tops 
of the hills rose, distinctly lighted by the last rays 
of the dying day, as if some strip of country resisting 
to the last the invasion of the dark monsters. 

A half-mile in front of the bridge was the town of 
Murfreesboro. Bright lights streamed from thousands 
of windows and from bonfires in the streets. Church 
bells rang out the glad acclaim of Christmas from 
a score of steeples. The happy voices of childhood 
singing Christmas carols ; the laughter of youths and 
maidens strolling arm in arm through the streets ; 
the cheery songs of merr}— making negroes; silver- 
throated bands, with throbbing drums and gently- 
complaining flutes, playing martial airs ; long lines of 
gleaming camp-fires, stretching over the undulating 



SECRET SERVICE. 275 

valley and rising hills like necklaces of burning jewels 
on the breast of night, — this was what held them 
silent and motionless. 

Rachel at last spoke : 

"It is like a. scene of enchantment. It is more 
wonderful than anything T ever read of." 

"Yes'm, hit's moiity strikin' now, an' when ye 
think how hit '11 all be changed in a little while ter 
more misery then thar is this side o' hell, hit becomes 
all the more strikin'. Hit seems ter me somethin' 
like what I've heered 'em read 'bout in the Bible, 
wliar they went on feastin' an' singin', an' dancin' an' 
frolickin', an' the like, an' at midnight the inimy 
broke through the walls of ther city, an' put 'cm all 
ter the sword, even while they wuz settin' round thar 
tables, with ther drinkin' cups in ther hands." 

'•To think what a storm is about to break upon 
this scene of haf)piness and mirth - making !" said 
Rachel, with a shudder. 

"Yes, an' they seem ter want ter do the very 
things thet'll show ther contempt o' righteousness, 
an' provoke the wrath o' the Lord. Thar, where ye 
see thct house, all lit up from the basement ter the 
look-out on the ruf, is whar one o' the most 'ristocratic 
families in all Tennessee lives. Ther datter is bein' 
married to-night, an' Major-Gineral Polk, the biggest 
gun in all these 'ere parts, next ter ole Bragg, an' who 
is also 'Piscopalian Bishop o' Tennessee, does the 
splicin'. They Ve got ther parlors, Avhar they '11 dance, 
carpeted with 'Merican flags, so thet the young bucks 
an' gals kin show ther despisery of the banner thet 
wuz good enough for ther fathers, by trampin' over 



276 THE RED Aconx. 

hit all night. But we '11 show hit tor 'em in a day or 
two whar they won't feel like cuttin' pigeon-wing.s 
over hit. Ye jes stand still an' see the salvation o' 
the Lord." 

"I hope we will."' said Rachel, her horror of the 
storm that was about to break giving away to indig- 
nation at the treatment of her country's flag. " Shan't 
we go on ? My long ride has made me very tired 
and very hungry, and I know my horse is the same." 

Shortly after crossing the river they passed a large 
tent, with a number of others clustered around it. 
All were festooned with Rebel flags, and brilliantly 
lighted. A band came up in front of the principal 
one and played the "'Bonnie Blue Flag." 

••'Thet's ole Gineral Brag<r's headquarters," ex- 
plained Fortner. " He '_s the king bee of all the Rebels 
in these heah parts, an' they think he kin 'bout make 
the sun stand still cf he wants ter," 

They cantered on into the town, and going more 
slowly through the great public square and the more 
crowded streets, came at last to a modest house, stand- 
ing on a corner, and nearly hidden by vines and 
shrubbery. 

A i)eculiar knock caused the door to open quickly, 
and befoi-e Rachel was hardly aware of it, she was 
standing inside a comfortable room, so well lighted 
that her eyes took some little time to get used to such 
a change. 

When they did so she saw that she was in the 
presence of a slender, elderly woman, whose face 
charmed her. 

"This is ver Aunt Debbv Brill," said Fortner, 



SECRET SERVICE. 277 

dryly, "who j^e came so fur far ter see, an' who's 
bin 'spectin' ye quite anxiously." 

" Ye 're very welcome, my clear," said Aunt 
Debby, after a moment's inspection which seemed to 
be entirely satisfactory. "Jest lay oflf yer things thar 
on the bed, an' come out ter supper. I know ye 're 
sharp-set. A ride from Nashville sech a day ez this 
is mouty good for the appetite, an' we 've hcd supper 
waitin' 3-0." 

Hastily throwing off her hat and gloves, she sat 
down with the rest, to a homely but excellent supper, 
which they all ate in silence. During the meal a 
muscular, well knit man of thirty entered. 

"All clar, outside, Bill? " asked Fortner. 

"Allclar," replied the man. "Everybody's ofl 
on a high o' some kind." 

Bill sat down and ate with the rest, until he satis- 
fied his hunger, and then rising he felt along the 
hewed logs which formed the walls, until he found a 
splinter to serve as a tooth-pick. Using this for a 
minute industriously, he threw it into the fire and 
asked : 

"Well?" 

"Well," answered Fortner. " I reckon hit 's ez 
sartin ez anything kin well be thet Wheeler's and 
Morgan's cavalry hez been sent off inter Kentucky, 
and ez thet 's what Ole Rosy's been waitin' fur, now's 
the time fur him ter put in his best licks. Ye'd better 
start afore midnight fur Nashville. Ye '11 hev this 
news, an' also thet thar 's been no change in the loca- 
tion o' the Rebels, 'cept thet Polk's an' Kirby Smith's 
corps are both heah at Murfreesboro, with a strong 



278 THE RED ACORN. 

brigade at Stewart's creek, an' another at Lavergne. 
Ye'd better fall in with Boscall's rijiinent, which'll go 
out ter Lavergne to-night, ter relieve one o' the riji- 
ments thar. Ye 'd better not try to git back heah 
ag'in tell arter the battle. Good by. God bless ye. 
Miss, ye'd better git ter bed now, ez soon ez possible, 
an' rest yerself far what 's coniin'. We '11 need every 
mite an' grain of our strength." 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 279 



CHAPTER XIX. 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 

O, wherefore come ye forth, In triumph from the North, 
With your hands and your feet, and your raiment all red? 

And wherefore doth your rout, send forth a joyous shout? 
And whence be the grapes of the wine-press that ye tread? 

O, evil was the root, and bitter was the fruit, 
And crimson was the Juice of the vintage that we trod; 

For we trampled on the throng, of the haughty and the strong, 
Who sat In the high places and slew the saints of God. 



They are here — they rush on — we are broken — we are gone — 
Our left Is borne before them like stubble on the blast. 

O, Lord, put forth thy might'. O, Lord, defend the right! 
Stand back to back. In God's name! and fight It to the last. 

—" Battle of Naseby r 

THE celebration of Christmas in the camps around 
Nashville was abruptly terminated by the recep- 
tion of orders to march in the morning, with full hav- 
ersacks and cartridge-boxes. The next day all the 
roads leading southward became as rivers flowing 
armed men. Endless streams of blue, thickly glinted 
everywhere with bright and ominous steel, wound 
around the hills, poured over the plains, and spread 
out into angry lakes wherever a Rebel outpost checked 
the flow for a few minutes. 

Four thousand troopers under the heroic Stanley 
— the foam-crest on the war-billow — dashed on in ad- 
vance. Twelve thousand steadily-moving infantry 
under the luckless McCook, poured down the Frank- 



280 THE RED ACORN. 

lin turnpike, miles away to the right : twelve thou- 
sand more streamed down the Mnrfreesboro pike on 
the left, with the banner of the over-weighted Crit- 
tenden, while grand old Thomas, he whose trumpets 
never sounded forth retreat, but always called to vic- 
tory, moved steadfast as a glacier in the center, with 
as many more, a sure support and help to those on 
either hand. 

The mighty war-wave rolling up the broad plateau 
of the Cumberland was fifteen miles wide now. It 
would be less than a third of that when it gathered 
itself together for its mortal dash upon the rocks of 
rebellion at Murfreesboro. 

It was Friday morning that the wave began roll- 
ing southward. All day Friday, and Saturday, and 
Sunday, and Monday it rolled steadily onward, sweep- 
ing before it tlie enemy "s pickets and outposts as dry 
sand by an incoming tide. Monday evening the lead- 
ing divisions stood upon the ridge where Rachel and 
Fortner had stood, and looked as they did upon the 
lights of Murfreesboro, two miles away. 

"Two days from to-morrow is New Year's," said 
Kent Edwards. "Dear Festival of Egg-Nogg ! how 
sweet are thy memories. I hope the Tennessee hens 
are doing their duty this Winter, so that we'll have 
no trouble finding eggs when we get into Murfrees- 
boro to-morrow." 

"We are likely to be so busy tendering the com- 
pliments of the season to Mr. Bragg," said Harry. 
lightl}^ "that we will probably have but little time 
to make calls upon the lady-hens who keep open 
nests." 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 281 

" We all may be where we'lJ need lots o' cold wa- 
ter more than anything else/' said Abe grimly. 

" Well,'' said Kent blithely, ''if I'm to be made a 
sweet little angel I don't know any day that I would 
rather have for my promotion to date from. It 
would have a very proper look to put in the full year 
here on earth, and start in with the neAv one in a 
world of sui)crior attractions. '' 

"Well, I declare, if here isn't Dr. Denslow," said 
Harry, delightedly, as he recognized a horseman, 
who rode up to them. " How did you come here ? 
We thought 30U were permanently stationed at the 
grand hospital." 

" So I was," replied the Doctor. '' So I was, at 
least so far as general orders could do it. But I felt 
that I could not be away from my boys at this su- 
preme moment, and I am here, though the irregular 
way in which I detached myself from my post may 
require explanation to a court-martial. Anyhow, it 
is a grateful relief to be away from the smell of chlo- 
ride of lime, and get a breath of fresh air that is not 
mingled with the groans of a ward-full of sick men. 
It looks," he continued, with a comprehensive glance 
at the firmament of Rebel camp-fires that made Mur- 
freesboro seem the center of a ruddy Milky- way, " as 
if the grand climax is at last at hand. Bragg, like 
the worm, will at last turn, and after a year of foot- 
races we'll have a fight which will settle who is the 
superfluous cat in this alley. There is certainly one 
too many. " 

"The sooner it comes the better," said Harry, 
firmly. "It has to be sometime, and I'm getting 

12* 



ZOJi THE liKD ACUUX. 

very anxious for an end to this eternal marchinfr and 
coimterniarcliing. " 

"My winsome little feet," Kent Edwards put in. 
plaintively, " are knobby as a bursflar-proof safe, with 
corns and bunions, all of them more tender than a 
maiden's heart, and painful as a mistake in a poker 
liand. They're the ripe fruit of the thousands of 
miles of side hills I've had to tramp over because of 
Mr. Brairir's retirinir disposition. Now, if he's Sfot 
the s})irit of a man he'll come out from under the bed 
and tiiiht me." 

"O, he'll come out— he'll come out— never you 
fear," said Abe, sardonic as usual. " He's o^ot a day 
or two's leisure now to attend to this business. A 
hundred thousand of him will come out. They'll 
swarm out o' them cedar thickets there like grass- 
hoppers out of a timothy field." 

''Boy.s," .said Harry, returning after a few min- 
utes' absence, "the Colonel says we'll go into camp 
right here, just as we stand. Kent, I'll take the can- 
teens and hunt up water, if you and Abe will break 
some cedar boughs for the bed, and get the wood to 
cook supper with." 

"All right," responded Kent, "I'll go after the 
boughs." 

"That puts me in for the wood," grumbled Abe. 
" And I don't suppose there's a fence inside of a mile, 
and if there is there's not a poplar rail in it." 

"And, Doctor," continued Harry, flinging the 
canteens over his shoulder, "you'll stay and take a 
cup of coffee and sleep with us to-night, won't you ? 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 2S3 

The trains arc all far behind, and the hospital wagon 
must be miles away." 

" Seems to me that Fve heard something of the 
impropriety of visiting your friends just about meal- 
time," said the Doctor quizzically, '' but a cup of cof- 
fee just now has more charms for me than rigid eti- 
quette, so I'll thankfully accept your kind invitation. 
Some day Til reciprocate with liberality in doses of 
quinine.'' 

In less time than that taken by well-appointed 
kitchens to furnish " Hot Meals to Order" the four 
were sitting on their blankets around a comfortable 
fire of rails and cedar logs, eating hard bread and 
broiled fat pork, and drinking strong black coffee, 
which the magic of the open air had transmuted into 
delightfully delicate and relishable viands. 

"You arc indebted to me," said Dr. Denslow, as 
he finished the last crumb and drop of his portion of 
the food, "for the accession to your company at this 
needful time, of a tower of strength in the person of 
Lieutenant Jacob Alspaugh." 

Abe groaned ; the Doctor looked at him with well- 
feigned astonishment, and continued : 

"That gore-hungry patriot, as you know, has 
been home several months on recruiting duty, by vir- 
tue of a certificate which he wheedled out of old 
Moxon. At hist, when he couldn't keep away any 
longer, he started back, but he carefully restrained 
his natural impetuosity in rushing to the tented field, 
and his journey from Sardis to Nashville was a fine 
specimen of easy deliberation. There was not a sign 



2H4 THE RED ACORX. 

of ungentlemanly huri'v in any \vdv{ of it. He ciime 
into my ward at Nashville with violent symptoms of 
a half-dozen speedily fatal diseases. I was cruel 
onoiiirli to see a coincidence in this attack and the 
general marching orders, and I i)rescrihed for his 
ailments a thorough course of open air exercise. 
To be sure that my pres('rii)ti()n would he taken I had 
the Provost-Marshal interest himself in my patient's 
case, and the result was that Alspaugh Joined the reg- 
iment, and so far has found it difficult to get away 
from it. It's the unexpected that happens, the French 
say, and there is a hare possibilit}' that he may do 
the country some service by the accidental discharge 
of his duty." 

'•The possibility is too remote to waste time con- 
sidering," said Harry. . 

They lay down together upon a bed made by 
spreading their overcoats and blankets upon the 
springy cedar boughs, and all ])ut Harr}' were soon 
fast asleep. Though fully as weary as they he could 
not sleep for hours. He was dominated b}- a feeling 
that a crisis in his fate was at hand, and as he lay and 
looked at the stars every possible shape that that fate 
could take drifted across his mind, even as the end- 
lessly-varying cloud-shapes swept — now languidly, 
now hurriedly — across the domed .sky above him. 
And as the moon and the stars shone through or 
around each of the clouds, making the lighter ones 
masses of translucent glory, and gilding the edges of 
even the blackest with silvery promise, so the thoughts 
of Rachel Bond suffused with some brightness every 
possible happening to him. If he achieved anything 



THE BATTLE OF STOxXE RIVER. 285 

the achievement would have for its chief value that it 
won her commendation ; if he fell, the blackness of 
death would be gilded by her knowledge that he died 
a brave man's death for her sweet sake. 

He listened awhile to the mournful whinny of the 
mules; to the sound of artillery rolling up the reso- 
nant pike; to the crashing of newly-arrived regiments 
through the cedars as they made their camps in line- 
of battle ; to little spurts of firing between the nervous 
pickets, and at last fell asleep to dream that he was 
returning to Sardis, maimed but honor-crowued, to 
claim Rachel as his exultant bride. 



The Christmas forenoon was quite well-auvanced 
before the fatigue of Rachel Bond's long ride was 
sufficiently abated to allow her to awaken. Then a 
soft hum of voices impressed itself upon her drowsy 
senses, and she opened her eyes with the idea that 
there were several persons in the room en^acred in 
C()nversation. But she saw that there was only°Aunt 
Debby, seated in a low rocking-chair by the lazily 
burning fire, and reading aloud from a lar^re Bible 
that lay open upon her knees. The residing was slow 
and difficult, as of one but little used to it, and many 
of the longer words were patiently spelled out. But 
this labored picking the way along the rugged path 
ot knowledge, stumbling und halting at the nouns, 
and ^■erbs, and surmounting the polysyllables a letter 
at a time, seemed to give the reader a deopor feeliuo- 
of the value and meaning of each word, than is usu- 



286 THE RED ACORN. 

ally gained by the more facile scholar. As Rachel 
listened she became aware that Aunt Debby was read- 
ing that wonderful twelfth chapter of St. Luke, rich- 
est of all chapters in hopes and promises and loving 
counsel for the lowly and oppressed. She had reached 
the thirty-fifth verse, and read onward with a passion- 
ate earnestness and understanding thtit made every 
word have a new revelation to Rachel : 



' Let your loins be girded up, and your lights burning ; 

"And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord 
when lie will return from the wedding ; that when he oometh 
and kuoeketh they may open unto him immediately. 

"Ble^^sed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh 
shall find watching ; verily I say unto you that he shall gird him- 
self and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and 
serve them. 

"And if ye shall come iri the second watch, or come in the 
third watch, and shall find them .so, blessed are tho.se servants. 

" And this know that if the good man of the bouse had known 
what the hour the thief would come he would have watched, and 
not suffered his house to be broken through. 

"Be ye therefore ready also, for the Son of Man cometh at an 
hour when ye think not." 

Rachel stirred a little, and Aunt Debby looked up 
and closed the book. 

"I'm afeared I've roused ye up too soon," she 
said, coming toward the bed with a look of real con- 
cern upon her sad, sweet face. "I raylly didn't in- 
tend ter. I jest opened the book ter read the prom- 
ise 'bout our Father heedin' even a sparrer's fall, an' 
forgot, an' read on ; an' when I read. I must read out 
loud, ter git the good of hit. Some folks pretend 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 287 

they kin understand jest ez well when they read ter 
themselves. Mebbe they kin." 

"O, no," replied Kachel cheerfully, "you didn't 
disturb me in the least. It was time that I got up, 
and I was glad to hear 3'ou read. I 'm only troubled 
with the fear that I Ve overslept myself, and missed 
the duty that I was intended for." 

"Make yourself easy on thet 'ere score. Ye '11 
not be needed to-day, nor likely to-morrow. Some 
things hev come up ter change Jim's plans." 

"I am very sorry," said Rachel, sitting up in the 
bed and tossing back her long, silken mane with a 
single quick, masterful motion. "I wished to go im- 
mediately about what I am expected to do. I can do 
anything better than wait." 

Aunt Debby came impulsively to the bedside, 
threw an arm around Rachel's neck, and kissed her 
on the forehead. "I love ye, honey," she said with 
admiring tenderness. "Ye 're sich ez all women 
orter be. Ye '11 make heroes of yer husband and sons. 
Ye 've yit ter I'arn though, thet the most of a wo- 
man's life, an' the hardest part of hit, is ter wait." 

In her fervid state of mind Rachel responded elec- 
trically to this loving advance, made at the moment 
of all others when she felt most in need of sympathy 
and love. She put her strong arms around Aunt 
Debby, and held her for a moment close to her heart. 
From that moment the two women became of one 
accord. Womanlike, they sought relief from their 
high tension in light, irrelevant talk and care for the 
trifling details of their surroundings. Aunt Debby 
brought water and towels for Rachel's toilet, and flut- 



288 THE RED ACORX. 

tered around her, solicitous, helpful and motherly, 
and Rachel, weary of long companionship with men, 
delighted in the restfulness of association once more 
with a gentle, sweet-minded woman. 

The heavy riding-hnbil was entirely too cumber- 
some for indoor wear, and Rachel put on instead one 
of Aunt Dobby's "linsey " gowns, that hung from a 
peg, and laughed at the prim, demure mountain girl 
she saw in the glass. After a good breakfast had still 
farther raised her spirits she ventured upon a little 
pleasantry about the dramatic possibilities of a young 
lady who could assume different characters with such 
facility. 

The day passed quietly, with Rachel studying 
such of the Christmas festivities as were visible from 
the window, and from time to time exchanging per- 
sonal history with Aunt Dobby. She learned that the 
latter had left her home in the Rockcastle Mountains 
with the Union Army in the previous Spring, and 
gone on to Chattanooga, to assist her nephew. Fortner, 
in obtaining the required information when ^litchell's 
army advanced against that place in the Summer. 
When the arm}' retreated to the Ohio, in September, 
she had come as far back as Murfreesboro, and there 
stopped to await the army's return, which she was 
confident would not be long delayed. 

"How brave and devoted you have been," said 
Rachel warmly, as Aunt Debby concluded her mod- 
estly-told stor3\ "No man could have done better." 

"No, honey," replied the elder woman, with her 
wan face coloring faintly, "I Ve done nothin' but my 
plaiil duty, ez I seed hit. I Ae done nothin' ter what 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 289 

they would 've done had n't they been taken from me 
afore they had a chance. Like one who speaks ter 
us in the Book, I 've been in journeyin's often, in 
perils of robbers, in perils of mine own countrymen, 
in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in 
weariness an' painfulness, in watchings often, in hun- 
ger an' thirst, in fastings often, in cold an' nakedness, 
but he warns us not ter glory in these things, but in 
those which consarn our infirmities." 
"How great should be your reward ! " 
" Don't speak of reward. I only want my freedom 
when I 've 'arned hit — the freedom ter leave an 'arth 
on which I 've been left behind, an' go whar my hus- 
band an' son are waitin' fur me." 

She rose and paced the floor, with her face and 
eyes shining. 

"Have you no fear of death whatever?" asked 
Rachel in amazement. 

"Fear of death ! Child, why should I fear death ? 
Why should I fear death, more than the unborn child 
fears birth? Both are the same. Hit can't be fur ter 
thet other world whar they wait fur me. Hit is not 
even ez a journey ter the next town — hit's only one 
little step through the curtain o' green grass an' vio- 
lets on a sunny hillside — only one little^step." 

She turned abruptly, and going back to her chair 
by the fireside, seated herself in it, and clasping her ' 
knees with her hands, rocked back and forth^and 
sang in a low, sweet croon : 

" Oh, the rapturous, transporting scene, 
That rises ter my sight ; 

T 13 



290 THE RED ACORN. 

Sweet fields arrayed in livin' green, 
An' rivers of delight. 

"All o'er those wide, extended plains 
Shines one eternal day ; 
Thar God, the Son, forever reigns, 
An' scatters night away. 

"No chillin' winds or poisonous breath 
Kin reach Ihet healthful shore ; 
Sickness an' sorrow, pain an' death, 
Are felt an' feared no more." 

After dark Fortner came in. Both women studied 
his face eagerly as he walked up to the fire. 

"Nothin' yet, honey," he said to Aunt Debby, 
and "Nothiir yet, Mis.s," to Kacliei. and after a little 
stay went out. 

When Rachel awoke the next luorning the sky 
was lowering darkl}'. On going to the window she 
found a most depressing change from the scene of 
bright merriment she had studied the night before. 
A chill Winter rain was falling with dreary persist- 
ence, pattering on the dead leaves that covered the 
ground, and soaking into the sodden earth. A few 
forlorn little birds hopped wearily about, searching in 
vain in the dry husks and empty in.sect shells for the 
food that had once been so plentiful there. Up and 
down the streets, as far as she could see, men in 
squads or singly, under officers or without organiza- 
tion, plodded along dejectedly, taking the cold drench 
from above, and the clinging mud around their feet, 
with the dumb, stolid discontent characteristic of sea- 
soned veterans. When mules and horses went by 
the}' seemed poor and shrunken. They drew their 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 291 

limbs and bodies together, as if to present the least 
surface to the inclement showers, and their labored, 
toilsome motion contrasted painfully with their strong, 
free movement on brighter days. Everything and 
everybody in sight added something to increase the 
dismalness of the view, and as Rachel continued to 
gaze upon it the "horrors" took possession of her. 
She began to brood wretchedl}' over her position as a 
spy inside the enemy's lines, and upon all the conse- 
quences of that position. 

It was late that night wiicn Fortner came in. As 
he entered tlie two expectant women saw, by .the 
ruddy light of the fire, that his face was set and his 
eyes flashing. He hung his dripping hat on a peg in 
the chimnc}', and kicked the blazing logs with his wet 
boots until a flood of meteor sparks flew up the throat 
of the fireplace. Turning, he said, without waiting 
to be questioned : 

" Well, the hunt 's begun at last. Our folks come 
out 'n Nashville this mornins: in three ])ifr armies, 
marchin' on different roads, an' they begun slash in' at 
the Rebels wherever they could find 'em. Thar 's 
been fouten at Triune an' Lavergne, an' all along the 
line. They histed the Rebels out 'n ther holes every- 
whar, an' druv' em back on the jump. Wagon load 
arter wagon load o' Avounded's comin' back. I come 
in ahead of a long train agwine ter the hospital. 
Haik I ye kin heah 'em now." 

The women listened. 

They heard the ceaseless patter and swish of the 
gloomy rain — the gusty sighs of the wind through 
the shade -trees' naked branches — louder still the 



292 THE RED ACORN. 

rolling of heavy wheels over the rough streets ; and 
all these were torn and rent by the shrieks of men in 
agony. 

" Poor fellows,'' said Rachel, " how they are suf- 
fering ! *" 

"Think ruther," said Aunt Debby calmly, "of 
liow they Ve made others suffer. Hit \s God's judg- 
ment on 'em." 

Rachel turned to Fortner. " What will come 
next ? Will this end it ? AVill the Rebels fall back 
and leave this place ? " 

. "Hardl}'. This 's on'y like the fust slap in the 
face in a fight atween two big savage men, who 've 
locked horns tcr see which is the best man. Hit's 
on'y a sorter limberin' the jints fur the death rassel." 

" Yes ; and what next ? " 

"Well, Rosy 's started fur this 'ere place, an' he's 
bound ter come heah. Bragg 's bound he sha'n't come 
heah, an' is gittin' his men back to defend the town." 

" What am I — what are we to do in the mean- 
while ? " 

"Ye 're ter do nothin', on'y stay in the house ez 
close ez ye kin, an' wait tell the chance comes ter use 
ye. Hit may be ter-morrer, an' hit mayn't be fur 
some days. These army moves are mouty unsartin. 
Aunt Debb}' '11 take keer on ye, an' ve '11 not be in a 
mite o' danger." 

" But we '11 see you frequently ? '' 

" Ez offen ez I kin arrange hit. I'm actin' ez 
orderly an' messenger 'bout headquarters, but I '11 
come ter ye whenever I kin git a chance, an' keep ye 
posted. " 



THE BATTLE OF STONE KIVER. 293 

This was Friday night. All day Saturday, as long 
as the light lasted, Rachel stood at the window and 
watched with sinking heart the steady inflow of the 
Rebels from the north. That night she and Aunt 
Debby waited till midnight for Fortner, but he did 
not come. All day Sunday she stood at her post, and 
watched the unabated pouring-in on the Nashville 
pike. Fortner did not come that night. She was 
downcast, but no shade disturbed the serenity of Aunt 
Debby's sweet hymning. So it was again on Monday 
and Tuesday. The continually-swarming multitudes 
weighed down her spirits like a millstone. She 
seemed to be encompassed b}- millions of armed ene- 
mies. They appeared more plentiful than the trees, or 
the rocks, or the leaves even. They filled the streets of 
the little town until it seemed impossible for another 
one to find standing room. Their cavalry blackened 
the faces of the long ranges of hills. Their artillery 
and wagons streamed along the roads in a never-end- 
ing train. Their camp-fires lighted up the country 
at night for miles, in all directions. 

Just at dusk Tuesday night Fortner came in, and 
was warmly welcomed. 

"There are such countless hosts of the Rebels," 
Rachel said to him after the first greetings were over, 
''that I quite despair of our men being al)le to do 
anything with them. It seems impossible that there 
can be gathered together anywhere else in the world 
as many men as they have." 

"I don't wonder ye think so, but ef ye'd been 
whar I wuz to-day ye'd think thet all the world wuz 
marchin' round in blue uniforms. Over heah hit 



294 THE RED ACORN. 

seems ez ef all the cedars on the hills hed suddintly 
turned inter Rebel soldiers. Three miles from heah 
the blue-coats are swarm in' thicker'n bees in a field 
o' buckwheat." 

''Three miles from here! Is our army within 
three miles of here ? " 

"Hit sartinly is, an* the Lord-awfullest crowd o' 
men an' guns an' bosses thet ever tromi)ed down the 
grass o' this ere airth. Why, hit jest dazed my eyes 
ter look at 'em. Come ter this other winder. D'ye 
see thet furthercst line o' campfires, 'way on yander 
hill? Well, them's Union. Ef ye could see far enuf 
ye'd see they're 'bout five miles long, an' they look 
purtier'n the stars in heaven." 

" But if they are so close the battle will begin im- 
mediately, will it not ?•" 

"Hit ain't likely ter be put otf very long, but 
thar's no tellin' w^iat'U happen in war, or when." 

" When is my time to come ?" 
" Thet's what I've come fur ter tell ye. Ef we're 
agwine ter be of sarvice ter the G\iY''me7it^ we must 
do hit to-night, fur most likely the battle'll begin in 
the mornin'. Hit's not jest the way I intended ter 
make use of ye, but hit can't be helped now. I hev 
information thet must reach Gineral Rosencrans afore 
daybreak. The vict'ry may depend on hit. Ter 
make sure all on us must start with hit, fur gittin' 
through the lines is now mouty dangersome, an' some- 
body — mebbe several— is bound to git cotcht, mebbe 
wuss. The men I expected ter help me are all gone. 
I hain't nobody now bat ye an' Aunt Debby. D'ye 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 295 

dar try an' make yer way through the lines to- 
night ? " 

Rachel thought a minute upon the dreadful possi- 
bilities of the venture, and then replied firmly : 

" Yes I dare. I will try anything that the rest of 
you will attempt." 

"Good. I knowed ye'd talk thet-a-way. Now 
we must waste no time in gittin' started, fur God ony 
knows what diffikiltios we'll meet on the way, an' 
Rosencrans can't hev the information enny too soon. 
Ev'ry minute hit's kep' away from him'll cost many 
vallerable lives — mebbe help defeat the army." 

"Tell me quickly, then, what I must do, that I 
may lose no time in undertaking it." 

" Well, heah's a plan of the position at sundown 
of the Rebels. Hit's drawed out moughty roughl\', 
but h it'll show jest whar they all are, an' about the 
number there is at each place. Hit begins on the 
right, which is south of Stone River, with Breckin- 
ridge's men ; then across the river is Withers, an' 
Cheatham, an' Cleburne, with McCown's division on 
the left, an' Wharton's cavalry on the flank. But the 
thing o' most importance is tlict all day long they've 
been movin' men round tcr ther left, tcr fall on our 
right an' crush hit. They're hid in the cedar thickets 
over thar, an' they'll come out to-morrow niornin' 
like a million yellin' devils, an' try ter sweep our 
right wing ofien the face o' the arth. D'ye under- 
stand what I've tole ye ? " 

"Yes. Breckinridge's division is on their right, 
and south of Stone River. Withers, Cheatham, and 



296 THE RED ACORN. 

Cleburne come next, on the north of the river, with 
McCown's division and Wharton's cavahy on the 
left, as shown in the sketch, and they are nio\ inu: 
heavy forces around to their left, with the evident 
intention of falling overwhelmingly on our right 
early in the morning." 

''Thet'shit. Thct's hit. But lay all the stress 
ye kin on the movin' around tor ther left. Thar\s 
mo' mischief in thet than all the rest. Say thet thar's 
20,000 men gwine round thar this arternoon an eve- 
nin\ Say thet thar's the biggest thunder-cloiul o' 
danger thet enny one ever seed. Say hit over an' 
over, tell everybody understands hit an' gits ready 
ter meet hit. Tell hit till ye've made ev'ry one on 
'em understand thet thar can't be no mistake about 
hit, an' they must look out fur heeps o' trouble on 
ther right. Tell hit ez ye never tole anything afore 
in yer life. Tell hit ez ye'd pray God Almighty fur 
the life o' the one thet ye love better then all the 
world beside. An' git thar ter tell hit — git thru the 
Rebel lines— ef ye love yer God an' yer country, an' 
ye want ter see the brave men who are ter die ter- 
morrer make their deaths count somethin' to'ard 
savin' this Union. Hit may be thet yore informa- 
tional save the army from defeat. Hit may be— hit's 
most likely — thet hit'll save the lives o' thousands o' 
brave men who love ther lives even ez yo an' me 
loves ourn." 

"Trust me to do all that a devoted woman can. 
I will get through before daybreak or die in the at- 
tempt. But how am 1 to go ? " 

" Hide this paper somewhar. Aunt Debby'U tix ye 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 297 

up ez a country gal, while Fm gittin' yer mar sad- 
dled an' bridled with some common harness, instid o' 
the fancy fixings ye hed when ye rode out heah. Ef 
ye're stopt, ez ye likely will be, say thet yeVe been 
ter town fur the doctor, an' some medicine fur yer 
sick mammy, an' are tryin' ter git back ter yer home 
on the south fork o' Overall's Creek. Now, go an' 
git ready ez quick ez the Lord'U let ye." 

As she heard the mare's hoofs in front of the door, 
Rachel came out with a '• slat-sun-bonnet '' on her 
head, and a long, bhick calico riding-skirt over her 
linsey dress. Fortner gave her attire an approving 
nod. Aunt Debby followed her with a bottle. " This 
is the medicine ye've bin ter git from Dr. Thacker 
heah in town, " she said, handing the vial. " Remember 
the name, fur fear ye mout meet some one who knows 
the town. Dr. Thacker, who lives a little piece offen 
the square, an' gives big doses of epecac fur every- 
thing, from brakebone fever ter the itch." 

"Dr. Thacker, who lives just off the square," said 
Rachel. " Fll be certain to remember," 

"Take this, too," said Fortner, handing her a 
finely-finished revolver, of rather large caliber. 
" Don't pull hit onless ye can't git along without hit, 
an' then make sho o' yer man. Salt him." 

"Good-by — God bless ye," said Aunt Debby, 
taking Rachel to her heart in a passionate embrace, 
and kissing her repeatedly. "God bless ye agin. 
No one ever hed more need o' His blessin' then we'uns 
will fur the next few hours. Ef He does bless us an' 
our work we'll all be safe an' sound in Gineral Rosen- 
crans' tent afore noon. But ef His will's different 



298 THE RED ACORN 

we'll be by thet time whar the Rebels cease from 
troublin', and the weaiy are at rest. I'm sure thet ef 
I thot the Rebels war gwine ter whip our men I'd 
never want ter see the sun rise ter-morrer. Good- 
by; we're all in the hands o' Him who seeth even the 
sparrer's fall." 

Fortner led the mare a little ways, to where he 
could get a good view, and then said : 

"Thet second line o' fires which ye see over tiiar 
is our lines — them fires I mean which run up inter the 
woods. The fust line is the Rebels. Ye'il go right 
out this road heah tell ye git outside the town, an' 
then turn ter yer right an' make fur Iho Stone River. 
Ford hit or swim 3'^our mar' acrost, an' make yer way 
thru or round the Rebel line. Ef ye find a good 
road, an' everything favorable ye mout try ter make 
yer way strait thru ef ye think ye kin fool the gyards 
with yer stor3^ Ef ye're fearful ye can't then ride 
beyond the lines, an' come inter ours thet-a-way. 
Aunt Debby'll go ter the other flank, an' try ter git 
a-past Breckinridge's pickets, an' I'll 'tempt ter make 
my May thru the center. We may all or none o' us 
git thru. I can't gin ye much advice, ez ye'll hev ter 
trust mainly ter yerself. But remember all the time 
what hangs upon yer gittin' the news ter Rosy afore 
daybreak. Think all the time thet mebbe ye kin 
save the hull army, mebbe win the vict'ry, sartinly 
save heeps o' Union lives an' fool the pizen Rebels. 
This is the greatest chance ye'll ever hev ter do good 
in all yer life, or a hundred more, ef ye could live 
'em. Good-by. Ef God Almighty smiles on us we'll 
meet ter-morrer on yon side o' Stone River. Ef He 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 299 

frowns we'll meet on yon side o' the Shinin' River. 
Good-by."' 

He released her hand and her horse, and she rode 
forward into the darkness. Her course took her first 
up a main street, which was crowded with wagons, 
ambulances and artillery. Groups of men mingled 
with these, and crowded upon the sidewalks. When 
she passed the light ot a window the men stared at 
her, and some few presumed upon her homely garb 
so far as to venture upon facetious and compliment- 
ary remarks, aimed at securing a better acquaint- 
ance. 

She made no reply, but hurried her mare onward, 
as fast as she could pick her way. She soon passed 
out of the limits of the town and was in the country, 
though she was yet in the midst of camps, and still 
iiad to thread her way through masses of men, horses 
and wagons moving along the road. 

The first flutter of perturbation at going out into 
the darkness and the midst of armed men had given 
way to a more composed feeling. No one had stop- 
ped her, or offered to, no one had shown any S3'mp- 
tom of surprise at her presence there at that hour. 
She began to hope that this immunity would continue 
until she had made her way to the Union lines. She 
had left the thick of the crowd behind some distance, 
and was going along at a fair pace, over a clear road, 
studying all the while the line of fires far to her 
right, in an attempt to discover a promising dark gap 
in their extent. 

She was startled by a hand laid upon her bridle, 
and a voice saying : 



300 THE RED ACORN. 

"Sc\y, Sis. who mout ye be, an' whar mout ye be 
a-mosyin" ter this time o' night?" 

She saw a squad of brigandish-looking stragglers 
at her mare's head. 

" My name's Polly Briggs. I live on the South 
Fork o' Overall's Creek. I've done been ter Dr. 
Thacker's in Murfreesboro, fur some medicine fur my 
sick mammy, an' I'm on my way back home, an' I'd 
be much obleeged ter ye, gontlomon. cf ye'd 'low me 
ter go on, kase mammy's powerful sick, an' she's in 
great hurry fur her medicine." 

She said this with a coolness and a perfect imita- 
tion of the speech and manner of the section that sur- 
prised herself. As she ended she looked directly at 
the squad, and inspected them. She saw she had 
reason to be alarmed. . They were those prowling 
wolves found about all armies, to whom war meant 
only wider opportunities for all manner of villainy 
and outrage. An unprotected girl was a welcome 
prize to them. It was not death as a spy she had to 
fear, but worse. Now, if ever, she must act deci- 
sively. The leader took his hand from her bridle, as 
if to place it on her. 

" Yer a powerful peart sort of a gal, an' ez purty 
ez a fawn. Yer mammy kin git 'long without the 
medicine a little while, an " 

He did not finish the sentence, for before his hand 
could touch her Rachel's whip cut a deep wale across 
his face, and then it fell so savagely upon the mare's 
flank that the high-spirited animal sprang forward as 
if shot from a catapult, and was a hundred yards 



THE BATTLE OF STONE PIVER. 301 

away before the rascals really comprehended what 
had happened. 

Onward sped the mettled brute, so maddened by 
the first cruel blow she had ever received that she re- 
fused to obey the rein, but made her own way by and 
through such objects as she encountered. AVhen she 
at last calmed down the road was clear and lonely, 
and Rachel began searching for indications of a favor- 
able point of approach to the river, that hinted at a 
bridge or a ford. While engaged in this she heard 
voices approaching. A moment's listening to the 
mingling of tones convinced her that it was another 
crowd of stragglers, and she obeyed her first impulse, 
which was to leap her horse over a low stone wall to 
her right. Taking her head again, the mare did not 
stop until she galloped down to tlie water's edge. 

" I '11 accept this as luck}^,'" said Rachel to herself. 
"The ancients trusted more to their horses' instincts 
than their own perceptions in times of danger, and 
I '11 do the same. I '11 cross here." 

She urged the mare into the water. The beast 
picked her way among the boulders on the bottom 
successfully for a few minutes. The water rose to 
Rachel's feet, but that seemed its greatest depth, and 
in a few more yards she would gain the opposite 
bank, when suddenly the mare stepped upon a slip- 
pery steep, her feet went from under her instantly, 
and steed and rider rolled in the sweeping flood of 
ice-cold water. Rachel's first thought was that she 
should surely drown, but hope came back as she 
caught a limb swinging from a tree on the bank. 



302 THE RED ACORN. 

With this she held her head above water until she 
could collect herself a little, and then with great diflS- 
cLilty pulled herself up the muddy, slippery bank. 
The weight of her soaked clothes added greatly to 
the difficulty and the fatigue, and she lay for some 
little time prone upon her face across the furrows of 
of a cotton field, before she could stand erect. At 
last she was able to stand up, and she relieved herself 
somewhat b}^ taking off her calico riding skirt and 
wringing the water from it. Her mare had also 
gained the bank near the same point she had, and 
stood looking at her with a world of wonder at the 
whole night's experience in her great brown eyes. 

" Poor thing," said Rachel sympathetically. " This 
is only the beginning. Heaven knows what we won't 
have to go through witji before the sun rises."" 

She tried to mount, but her watery garments were 
too much for her agility, and with the wet skirts fet- 
tering her limbs she began toiling painfully over the 
spong}', plowed ground, in search of a stump or a 
rock. She thought she saw many around her, but on 
approaching one after another found they were only 
large cotton plants, with a boll or two of ungathcred 
cotton on them, which tudcd the darkness in giving 
them their deceptive appearance. She prevented 
herself from traveling in a circle, by remembering 
this aptitude of benighted travelers, and keeping her 
eye steadily fixed on a distant camp-fire. When she 
at last came to the edge of the field she had to lean 
against the fence for some minutes before she could 
recover from her fatigue sufficiently to climb upon it. 
While she sat for a minute there she heard some 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER 303 

cocks, at a neighboring farm-house, crow the turn of 
night. 

'• It is midnight," she said feverishly, " and I have 
only begun the journey. Now let every nerve and 
muscle do its utmost." 

She rode along the fence until she came to an 
opening which led into what appeared in the darkness 
to be another cotton held, but proved to be a worn- 
(mt one, long ago abandoned to the rank-growing 
briars, which clung to and tore her skirts, and seamed 
the mare's delicate skin with bleeding farrows. The 
flinching brute pressed onward, in response to her 
mistress's encouragement, but the progress was griev- 
ously slow. 

Presentl}' Rachel began to see moving figures a 
little way ahead of her, and hear voices in conunand. 
She realized that she wa.s approaching the forces mov- 
ing to the attack on the Union right. There was 
something grotesque, weird, even frightful in the 
sounds and the aspect of the moving masses and fig- 
ures, but she at last made out that they were batteries, 
regiments and mounted men. She decided that her 
best course was to mingle with and move along with 
them, until she could get a chance to ride away in 
advance. For hours that seemed weeks she remained 
entangled in the slow-moving mass, whose bewilder- 
ing vagaries of motion were as trying to the endur- 
ance of her steed as they were exasperating to her own 
impatience. Occasionally she caught glimpses of the 
Union camp-fires in the distance, that, low and smol- 
dering, told of the waning night, and she would look 
anxiously over her left shoulder for a hint of the 



304 THE RED ACORN. 

coming of the dreaded dawn. Her mare terrified her 
with symptoms of giving out. 

At last she saw an unmistakable silvery break in 
the eastern clouds. Half-frantic she broke suddenly 
out of the throng by an abrupt turn to the right, and 
lashing her mare savageh', gallo])ed where a graying 
in the dense darkness showed an opening between two 
cedar thickets, that led to the picket-fires, half a mile 
away. The mare's hoofs beat sonorously on the level 
limestone floor, which there frequently rises through 
the shallow soil and starves out the cedar. 

" Halt ! Go l^ack," commanded a hoarse voice in 
front of her, which was accompanied with the clicking 
of a gunlock. '' Ye can't pass heah." 

''Lemme pass. Mister," she pleaded. "I'm on'y 
a gal, with medicine fur my mammy, an' I'm power- 
ful an.xlous ter git home." 

"No, ye can't git out heah. Orders are strict ; 
besides, ef ye did the Yankees 'd cotch ye. They 're 
jest out thar." 

She became aware that there were heavy lines of 
men lying near, and fearing to say another word, she 
turned and rode away to the left. She became entan- 
gled with a cavalry company moving toward the 
extreme Union right, and riding with it several hun- 
dred yards, turned off into a convenient grove just 
as the light began to be sufiicient to distinguish her 
from a trooper. She was now, she was sure, outside 
of the Rebel lines, but she had gone far to the south, 
where the two lines were wide apart. The Union 
fifes and drums, now sounding what seemed an unsus- 
picious and cheerful reveille, were apparently at least 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 305 

a mile away. It was growing lighter rapidly, and 
every passing moment was fraught with the weight- 
iest urgency. She concentrated all her energies for a 
supreme eflfort, and lashed her mare forward over the 
nmddy cotton-field. The beast's hoofs sank in the loose 
red loam, as if it were quicksand, and her pace was 
maddeningly slow. At last Rachel came in sight of a 
Union camp at the edge of a cedar thicket. The arms 
were stacked, the men were cooking Ijreakfast, and a 
battery of cannon standing near had no horses at- 
tached. 

Rachel beat the poor mare's flanks furiously, and 
shouted, 

"Turn out ! The Rebels are coming ! The Rebels 
are coming ! " 

Her warning came too late. Too late, also, came 
that of the pickets, who were firing their guns and 
rushing back to camp before an awful wave of men 
that had rolled out of the cedars on the other side of 
the cotton field. 

A hundred Ijoisterous drums were now making the 
thickets ring with the "long roll." Rachel saw the 
men in front of her leave their cofFee-making, rush to 
the musket-stacks, seize their guns and take their 
places in line. In another minute they were ordered 
forward to the fence in front of them, upon which 
they rested their muskets. Rachel rode through their 
line and turned around to look. The broad cotton 
field was covered with solid masses of Rebels, rushing 
forward with their peculiar fierce yell. 

"Fire!" shouted the Colonel in front of her. The six 
field-pieces to her right split her ears with their crash. 
U 13* 



30G THE RED ACORX. 

A thousand nm=;kcts blazod out a fire that withered 
the first line of the advancing foe. Anoth-jr crash, 
and the Rebels had answered with musketry and artil- 
lery, that tore the cedars around her, sent the fence- 
rails flying into the air, and covered the ground with 
blue-coats. Her faithful mare shied, cauglit her hoof 
in a crack in the limestone, and fell with a broken 
leg. 

So began that terrible AVcdncsdav, December 31, 
18G± 

Bragg's plan of battle was very simple. Rose- 
crans had stretched out a long thin wing through the 
cedars to the right of the pike. At the pike it was 
very strong, but two miles away it degenerated into 
scattered regiments, unskilfully disposed. Bragg 
threw against these tlu-ee or four to one, with all the 
fury of the Southern soldier in the onset. Tlie line 
was crumbled, and before noon crushed back to the 
pike. 

Rachel disengaged herself from her fallen steed, 
and leaning against a sapling, watched the awful col- 
lision. She forgot the great danger in the fascination 
of the terrible spectacle. She thouglit she had seen 
men scale the whole gamut of passion, but their 
wildest excesses were tamo and frothy beside this 
ecstacy of rage in the fury of battle. The rustic 
Southerners whom she had seen at ball-play, the sim- 
ple-hearted Northerners whom she had alarmed at 
their coSee-making, were now transformed into furies 
mad with the delirium of slaughter, and heedless of 
their own lives in the frenzy of taking those of others. 

"You had better run back, young woman," said 



THE BATTLE OF STOXE RIVER. 807 

some one touching her elbow. ''The whole line's 
going to fall back. Wo 're flanked." 

A disorderly stream of men, fragments of the 
shattered right, caught her in its rush, and she was 
borne back to the open fields lying along the pike. 
There, as when a turbulent river empties into a bay, 
the force of the current subsided, and she was dropped 
like silt. The cowardly ones, hatless and weaponless, 
ran off toward the i)ike, but the greater portion halted, 
formed in line, called for their comrades to join them, 
and sent for more cartridges. 

Almost dropping with fatigue, Rachel made her 
way to a pile of cracker-boxes by an Osage-orango 
hedge, on a knoll, and sat down. Some fragments of 
hard-bread, dropped on the trampled sod while rations 
were being issued, lay around. She was so hungry 
that she picked up one or two that were hardly soiled, 
and nibbled them. 

The dreadful clamor of battle grew louder contin- 
ually. The musketry had swollen into a sullen roar, 
with the artillery pulsating high above it. Crashing 
vollies of hundreds of muskets fired at once, told of 
new regiments joining in the struggle. Rebel brig- 
ades raised piercing treble yells as they charged 
across the open fields against the Union positions. 
The latter responded with deep-lunged cheers, as they 
hurled their assailants back. Clouds of slowly curl- 
ing smoke rose above thickets filled with ma(ldened 
men, firing into one another's breasts. Swarms of 
rabbits and flocks of birds dashed out in terror from 
the dark coverts in which they had hitherto found 
security. 



308 THE RED ACORN. 

No gallantry could avail against such overwhelming 
numbers as assailed the Union right. The stream of 
disorganized men from flowing back from the thickets 
became wider and swifter ever}^ minute ; every min- 
ute, too, the din of the conflict came closer ; every 
minute the tide of battle rolled on to regiments lying 
nearer the pike. 

A Surgeon with a squad of stretcher-bearers came 
up to where Rachel was sitting. 

*'Pull down some of those boxes, and fix a place 
to lay the Colonel till we can make other arrange- 
ments," said a fiimiliar voice. Rachel looked up, and 
with some difficulty reconciled a grimy-fticed man in 
torn clothes with the trim Hospital Surgeon she had 
known. 

"Can that be you, -Dr. Denslow?" she said. 

He had equal difficulty in recognizing her. 

"Is it- possible that it is you. Miss Bond?" he 
said in amazement, after she had spoken to him again. 
"Yes, this is I, or as much as is left of me. And 
here," and his voice trembled, "is about all that is 
left of the regiment. The rest are lying about the 
roots of those accursed cedars, a full mile from 
here." 

"And Harry Glen — where is he ? " she said, ris- 
ing hurriedl}' from the boxes and passing along the 
line of stretchers, scanning each face. 

A new pain appeared in the Doctor's face, as he 
watched her. 

" You'll not find him there," he said. "The last 
I saw of him he was forming a handful of the regi- 
ment that were still on their feet, to retake cannon 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 309 

which the Rebels had captured. I was starting off 
with the Colonel here, w^hen they dashed away." 

"Come," he said, after making some temporary 
provisions for the comfort of his wounded. "You 
must get away from here as quickly as possible. I 
fear the army is badly defeated, and it may be a rout 
soon. You must get away before the rush begins, 
for then it will be terrible." 

He took her over the pike, and across it to where 
some wagons were standing. As he was about to put 
Rachel in one of these their attention was arrested 
by an officer, apparently acting as Provost Marshal, 
draorsrino; from behind a huo^e rock a Lieutenant who 
was skulking there. They were too far away to hear 
what was said, but not so far that they could not rec- 
ognize the skulker as Lieutenant Jacob Alspaugh. 
The Provost Marshal apparently demanded the skulk- 
er's name, and wrote it in a book. Alspaugh seemed to 
give the information, and accompanied it with a lugu- 
brious pointing to a bandage around his knee. The 
Provost Marshal stooped and took the handkerchief 
off, to find that not even the cloth of the pantaloons 
had been injured. He contemptuously tore the 
straps from Alspaugh's shoulders, and left him. 

"The rascal's cowardice is like the mercy of God," 
said Denslow, " for it endureth forever." 

He put Rachel in the wagon, and ordered the 
driver to start at once for Nashville wdth her. She 
pressed his hand, as they separated, and then sank 
back on the boxes, overwhelmed with fatigue and 
grief. 



310 THE RED ACORX. 

How had it been faring all this time with Harry 
Glen and those with him ? 

The fierce wave had dashed against the regiment 
early in the morning, and although the first fire re- 
ceived from the Rebels made gaps in the ranks where 
fifty men fell, it did not recoil a step, but drove its 
assailants back with such slaughter that their dead, 
lying in the open ground over M'hich they crossed, 
were grimly compared by Abe Bolton to "punkins 
layin' in a field where the corn's been cut off." 

Then the fight settled into a murderous musketry 
duel across the field, in which the ranks on both sides 
molted away like frost in the sun. In a few minutes 
all the field ofBcers were down, and the only Captain 
that remained untouched took command of the regi- 
ment, shouting to Harry Glen at the same moment to 
take command of the two companies on the right, 
whose Captains and Lieutenants had fallen. Two 
guns escaping from the crush at the extreme right, 
had galloped down, and opened gallantly to assist the 
regiment. Almost instantly horses and men went 
down under the storm of bullets. An Aide broke 
through the cedars behind. 

"Fall back — fall back, for God's sake!" he 
shouted. "The Rebels have got around the right, 
and will cut you off." 

"Fall back, bo^^s," shouted the Captain in com- 
mand, " but keep together, listen to orders, and load 
as you go." The same instant he fell with a ball 
through his chest, 

" Sergeant Glen, you're in command of the regi- 
ment, now," shouted a dozen voices. 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 311 

The Lieutenant of the battery — a mere boy — ran 
up to Harry. A stream of blood on his jacket 
matched its crimson trimmings. 

" Don't go off and leave my guns, after I've lielpcd 
you. Do not, for the love of Heaven ! I've saved 
them so far. Bring them off with you." 

Harry looked inquiringly around upon the less 
than one hundred survivors, wlio gathered about him, 
and had heard the passionate appeal. Every face 
was set with mortal desperation. An Irish boy on 
the left was kissing a cross which he had drawn from 
his bosom. 

The tears which strong men shed in wild fits of 
rage were rolling down the cheeks of Edwards, Bolton 
and others. 

" I don't want to live always ! " shouted Kent with 
an oath ; " let's take the guns ! " 

"I don't want no better place to die than right 
hero ! " echoed Abe, still more stivagely profane. 
" Le's have the guns, or sink into hell getting 
'em!" 

The remnant of the Rebel regiment had broken 
cover and rushed for the guns. 

" Attention ! " shouted Harry. *' Fix baj^onets ! " 

The sharp steel clashed on the muzzles 

"Forward, Charge I" 

For one wild minute shining steel at arm's length 
did its awful work. Tiien three -score Rebels fled 
back to then- leafy lair, and as many blue -coats with- 
drew into the cedars, pulling the guns after them. 

"Pick up the Lieutenant, there, some of you Avho 
can do a little lifting," said Kent, as they came to 



312 THE RED ACORN. 

where the boy-artillerist lay dead "This prod in 
my shoulder's spoilt my lifting for some time. Lay 
him on the gun and we'll take him back with us. He 
deserves it, for he was game clear through. Harry, 
that fellow that gave you that beauty-mark on the 
temple with his saber got his discharge from the 
Rebel army just afterwards, on the point of Abe's 
bayonet." 

" Is that so? Did Abe get struck at all ? " 

"Only a whack over the nose with the butt of a 
gun, which will doubtless improve his looks. Any 
change would." 

"Guess Ave can go back now with some peace and 
comfort," said Abe, coming up, and alluding to the 
cessation of the firing in their front. "That last 
round took all the figlit out of them hell-hounds 
across the field." 

"Some of you had better go over to the camp 
there and get our axes. We'll have to cut a road 
through the cedars if we take these guns off," said 
Harry, tieing a handkerchief around the gaping saber 
wound in his temple. "The rest of j^ou get around 
to the right, and keep a sharp look out for the 
flank." 

So they worked their way back, and a little after 
noon came to the open fields by the pike. 



As the wagon rolled slowly down the pike toward 
Nashville Rachel, in spite of her anxiety, fell asleep. 
Some hours later she was awakened by the driver 
.shaking her rudelv. 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 313 

"Wake up!^' he shouted, - ef ye vahie yer 

hfe ! " 

" Where are we ? " she asked, rubbing her eyes. 

"At Stewart's Creek," answered the driver, "an' 
all o' Wheeler's cavalry are out thar' in ' them 
woods. " 

She looked out. She could see some miles ahead 
of her, and as far as she could see the road was filled 
with wagons moving toward Nashville. A sharp 
spurt of firing on the left attracted her attention, and 
she saw a long wave of horsemen ride out of the 
woods, and charge the wagon-guards, who made a 
sharp resistance, but at length fled before overwhelm- 
ing numbers. The teamsters, at the first sight of the 
formidable line, began cutting their wheel-mules 
loose, and escaping upon them. Rachel's teamster 
followed their example. 

"The ofi'-mule's unhitcht ; jump on him, an' skip," 
he shouted to her as he vanished up the pike. 

The Rebels were shooting down the mules and 
such teamsters as remained. Some dismounted, and 
with the axes each wagon carried, chopped the spokes 
until the wagon fell, while others ran along and 
started fires in each. In a little while five hundred 
wagons loaded with rations, clothing, ammunition and 
stores were blazing furiously. Their work done, the 
cavalry rode ofi" toward Nashville in search of other 
trains. 

Rachel leaped from the wagon, before the Rebels 
approached, and took refuge behind a large tree, 
whence she saw her wagon share the fate of the rest' 
M'hen the eavalrv disappeared, she came out ao-ain 



314 THE EED ACORN. 

into the road and v/alked slowly np it, debating what 
she could do. She was rejoiced to meet her teamster 
returning. He had viewed the occurrence from a 
prudent distance, and beins: kindly-natured had de- 
cided to return to her help, as soon as it could be 
done without risk. 

He told her that there was a wagon np the pike a 
little ways with a woman in it, to which he would 
conduct her, and the}^ would go back to the army in 
front of Murfreesboro. 

"It seems a case of 'twixt the devil and the deep 
sea." he said, despairingly. " At any rate we can't 
stay out here, and m}^ experience is that it is always 
safest where there is the biggest crowd." 

The}^ found the wagon with the woman in it. Its 
driver had bolted irrevocably, so Rachel's friend as- 
sumed the reins. It was slow work making their way 
back through the confused mass, but Rachel was 
lucky enough to sleep through most of it. When she 
awoke the next morning the wagon was still on the 
pike, but in the center of the army, which filled all 
the open space round-a bout. 

Everywhere were evidences of the terrible work 
of the day before, and of preparations for renewing 
it. The soldiers, utterly exhausted by the previous 
day's frightful strain, lay around on the naked ground, 
sleeping, or in a half-waking torpor. 

An officer rode up to the wagon. "There seems 
to be some flour on this wagon," said the voice of Dr. 
Denslow. "Well, that may stay the boys' stomachs 
until we can get something better. Go on a little 
ways, driver." 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 315' 

"0, Doctor Denslow," called out Rachel, as the 
wagon stopped again, " what is the news ? " 

"You here again?" said the Doctor, recognizing 
the voice : "well that is good news. When I heard 
about Wheeler's raid on our trains I was terribly 
alarmed as to your fate. This relieves me much." 

"But how about the army? " 

"Well it seems to have been a case of hammer 
and anvil yesterday, in which both suffered pretty 
badly, but the hammer got much the worst of it. We 
are in good shape now to give them some more, if 
they want it, which so far they have not indicated 
veiy strongly. Here, Sergeant Glen, is a couple bar- 
rels of tlour, which you can take to issue out to your 
regiment." 

Had not the name been called Rachel could never 
have recognized her former elegant lover in the stal- 
wart man with tattered uniform, swollen face, and 
head wrapped in a bloody bandage, Avho came to the 
wagon with a squad to receive the flour. 

A tumult of emotions swept over her, but supe- 
rior to them all was the feminine feeling that she 
could not endure to have Harry see her in her pres- 
ent unprepossessing plight. 

"Don't mention my name before those men," she 
said to Dr. Denslow, when he came near again. 

"Very good," he answered. "Sit still in the 
wagon, and nobody will see 3'ou. I will have the 
wagon drive over to the hospital presently, with the 
remainder of the flour, and you can go along." 

All the old love seemed to have been out at com- 
pound interest, from the increment that came back 



31 fi THE RED ACORN. 

to her at the sound of Harry Glen's voice, now so 
much deeper, fuller and more masterful than in the 
fastidious days of yore. She lifted the smallest cor- 
ner of the wagon-cover and looked out. The barrel 
heads had been beaten in with stones, and a large cup- 
ful of flour issued to each of the hungry men. They 
had mixed it up into dough with water from the 
ditch, and were baking it before the fire on large flat 
stones, which abounded in the vicinity. 

"I'll mix up enough for all three of us on this 
board," she heard Harry sa}^ to Abe and Kent. 
"With your game arm, Kent, and Abe's battered 
eyes, your cooking skill's about gone. You ought to 
both of 3'ou go to the hospital. You can't do any 
good, and why expose yourself for nothing ? I've a 
mind to use my authority as temporary commander 
of the regiment and send you to the hospital under 
guard." 

"You try it if you dare, after my saAdng your 
life yesterday," said Abe. "I can see well enough 
yet to shoot toward the Rebels, and that's all that's 
necessary." 

"I enlisted for the war," said Kent, "and I'm 
going to stay till peace is declared. I went into this 
fight to see it through, and I'm going to stay until we 
whip them if there's a piece of me left that can wig- 
gle. Bragg's got to acknowledge that I'm the best 
man before I'll ever let up on him." 

Rachel longed to leap out of the wagon, and do 
the bread-making for these clumsy fellows, but pride 
would not consent. 

The dough was browning slowly on the hot stones, 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 317 

but not yet nearly done, when the spiteful spirts of 
firing out in front suddenly burst into a roar, with a 
crash of artillery. A bugle sounded near. 

"Fall in, boys," shouted Harry, springing to his 
feet, and tearing off the flakes of dough, which he 
hastily divided with his comrades. "Right dress. 
Right face, forward, file right — march ! 

" If there is anything that 1 despise, it's disturb- 
ing a gentleman at his meals," said Kent, giving the 
fire a spiteful kick, as he tucked the bread under his 
lame arm, took his musket in his other hand, and 
started ofi" in the rear of the regiment, accompanied 
by the purblind Abe. 

Rachel's heart sank, as she saw them move off, 
but it rose again when the firing died down as sud- 
denly as it had flamed up. 

Soon Dr. Denslow took the wagon off to a cabin 
on a high bank of Stone River, which he was using 
as a hospital. 

She called some question to him, as he turned 
away to direct the preparation of the flour into food 
for his patients, when some one cried out from the 
interior of the cabin : 

"Rachel Bond! Is that you? Come in heah, 
honey." 

She entered, and found Aunt Debby lying on the 
rude bed of the former inhabitants of the cabin. 

" O my love— my darling — my honey, is this you? " 
said the elderly woman, with streaming eyes, reach- 
ing out her thin arms to take Rachel to her heart. 
"I never expected ter see ye ag'in! But God is 
good." 



318 THE RED ACORN. 

"Aunt Debby, is it possible? Are you hurt, 
dear ? " 

"No, not hurt, child ; ony killed," she answered 
with a sweet radiance on her face. 

"Killed? It is not possible." 

"Yes, honey, it is possible. It is true. The gates 
open for me at last. " 

" How did it happen ? " 

"I got through Breckenridge's lines all right, an' 
reached the river, but thar was a picket thar, hid be- 
hind a tree, and ez he heered my boss's feet splash in 
the ford, he shot me through the back. An' I didn't 
get through in time," she added, with the first shade 
of melancholy that had yet appeared in her face. 
" Did ijouf " 

"No, I was too hite, too." 

"An' Jim must've been, too. Hev ye seed him 
any whar ? " 

" No," said Rachel, unable to restrain her tears. 

"Now, honey, don't cry fur ^ me — don't," said 
Aunt Debby, pulling the young face down to where 
she could kiss it. "Hit's jest ez I want hit. On'y 
let me know thet Bragg is whipt, an' I die happy." 

All day Thursday the two bruised armies lay and 
confronted each other, as two bulldogs, which have 
torn and mangled one another, will stop for a few 
minutes, to lick their hurts and glare their hatred, 
while they regain breath to carry on the fight. 

Frida}^ morning it was the same, but there was a 
showing of teeth and a rising fierceness as the day 
grew okler, which was very portentous. 

While standing at the door of the cabin Rachel 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 319 

had seen Harry Glen march down the bank at the 
head of the regiment, and cross the ford to the hights 
in front of Breckenridge. She picked up a field-glass 
that lay on a shelf near, and followed the movements 
of the force the regiment had joined. 

" What d' ye see, honey ? " called out Aunt Debby. 
She was becoming very fearful that she would die be- 
fore the victory was won. 

"Our people," answered Rachel, "seem to be 
concentrating in front of Breckenridge. There must 
be a division over there. Breckenridge sees it, and 
his cannon are firing at our men. He is bringing men 
up at the double quick." She stopped, for a spasm 
of fear in regard to Harry choked her. 

" Go on, honey. What are they doing now ? " 

" Our men have formed a long line, reaching from 
the river up to the woods. They begin to march for- 
ward. Breckenridge opens more guns. They cut 
lanes through them. Now the infantry begins firing. 
A cloud of smoke settles down and hides both sides. 
I can see no more. O my God, our men are running. 
The whole line comes back out of the smoke, with 
men dropping at every step. If Harry were only 
safely out of there, I'd give my life." 

Aunt Debby groaned. " Look again, honey," she 
said after a moment 's pause. 

"It's worse than ever. Breckenridge's men are 
swarming out of their works. There seenjs to be a 
myriad of them. They cover the whole hillside 
until I can not see the ground. They yell like de- 
mons, and drive our men down into the river. They 
follow them to the water's edge and shoot them down 



320 THE RED ACORN. 

in the stream. Ah, there goes a battery on the gallop 
to the hill in front of us. It has opened on the Reb- 
els, and its shells dig great holes in the black masses, 
but the Rebels still come on. There goes another 
battery on the gallop. It has opened. There is an- 
other. Still another. They are galloping over here 
from every direction."" 

" Glory ! " shouted Aunt Debby. 

"There 's a fringe of trees near the water's edge, 
whose tops reach nearly to the top of the hill. The 
cannon shots tear the branches off and dash down 
great ranks of Rebels with them. " 

" The arth rocks as when He lays his finger upon 
hit," said Aunt Debby. 

The ground was trembling under the explosion 
of the fifty-eight pieces of artillerj' w^hich Rosecrans 
hastily massed at four o'clock Friday afternoon, for 
the relief of his overpowered left. "What's them 
that go ' boo-woo-woo,' like great big dogs barkin' ? '' 

"Those are John Mendenhall's big Napoleons," 
said a wounded artillery oflScer. " Go on. Miss. 
What now ? " 

" The Rebels have stopped coming on. They are 
apparently firing back. The shells and the limbs of 
the trees still break their lines and tear them to pieces. 
Now our men dash across the river again, and begin 
a musketry fire that mows them down. They start 
to run, and our men charge after them, cheering as 
they run. Our men have taken their cannon away 
from them. The Rebels are running for life to get 
inside their works. The hillside is dotted with those 
who have fallen, and there are rows of them lying 



THE BATTLE OF STONE RIVER. 321 

near the water. Now everything is quieting down 
again. " 

"Glory ter God! for He has at last given the 
enemy inter our hands. Come and kiss me, honey, 
an' say good-by." 

From the throats of twenty-five thousand excited 
spectators of the destruction of Breckenridge's divi- 
sion rose cheers of triumph that echoed to the clouds. 

" What sweet music that is ! " said Aunt Debby, 
half unclosing her eyes. "God bless ye, honey. 
Good-by." 

The gentle eyes closed forever. 

Late in the evening Dr. Denslow's stretcher corps 
brought in Harry Glen, who had fallen in the last 
charge with a flesh wound in the leg. Until he woke 
the next morning to find her sitting by his bedside, 
Harry thought he had been dreaming all the time that 
Rachel Bond had come to him, dressed in quaint 
country garb, and loosed with gentle, painless fingers 
the stifi", blood-encrusted bandage about his head, and 
replaced it with something that soothed and eased his 
fevered temples. 

"I have very good news for you," she said, later 
in the day. "Kent Edwards says that you are pro- 
moted to Captain, by special orders, for ' Conspicuous 
gallantry on the battle-field of Stone River,'" 

" And when are we to be married ? " he asked. 

" Just as soon as you are able to travel back to 
Sardis." 

They looked up and saw Dr. Denslow standing 
beside them. A stunned look on his face indicated 
that he had heard and understood all. This speedily 
V 



322 THE RED ACORN. 

gave away to his accustomed expression of serene 
philosophy. 

"Forget me, except as a friend," he said. "It is 
better as it is for you, Harry, and certainly better for 
her. Possibly it is better for " — with a little gasp — 
" me. The sweets of love are not for me. They are 
irrational, and irrational things are carefully elim- 
inated from my scheme of life." 

Towards evening Fortner came in with the news 
"Thet ole Bragg picked up his traps and skipped out 
fur TuUahoma, ter nuss his hurts, leavin' his wounded 
and lots o' stores in our hands." 

So was gained the great victory of Stone River. 

THE END. 



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