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"I've thought of all that," he droned.The trio laughed, the young woman most musically.I found the clerks' mess a bunch of bright good fellows. After supper, stretched on the harsh turf under the June stars, with everyone's head (save mine) in some one's lap, we smoked, talked and sang. Only Gholson was called away, by duty, and so failed to hear the laborious jests got off at his expense. To me the wits were disastrously kind. Never had I been made a tenth so much of; I was even urged to sing "All quiet along the Potomac to-night," and was courteously praised when I had done so. But there is where affliction overtook me; they debated its authorship. One said a certain newspaper correspondent, naming him, had proved it to be the work--I forget of whom. But I shall never forget what followed. Two or three challenged the literary preeminence of that correspondent, and from as many directions I was asked for my opinion. Ah me! Lying back against a pile of saddles with my head in my hands, sodden with self-assurance, I replied, magnanimously, "Oh, I don't set up for a critic, but--well--would you call him a better man than Charlie Toliver?"XIII GOOD-BYE, DICK 幸运28qq群软件 Ferry showed pain. "I know; save that for the General. And what else?"The morning was almost sultry. As I halted in the clear ripples of a gravelly "branch" to let my horse drink, I heard no great way off the Harpers' train shrieking at cattle on the track, and looking up I noticed just behind me an unfrequented by-road carefully masked with brush, according to a new habit of the "citizens". The next moment my horse threw up his head to listen. Then I heard hoofs and voices, and presently there came trotting through the oak bushes and around the mask of brush two horsemen unusually well mounted, clad and armed. Their very dark gray uniforms were so trim and so nearly blue that my heart came into my throat; but then I noticed they carried neither carbines nor sabres, but repeaters only, a brace to each. They splashed lightly to either side of me, and the three horses drank together.For my part I privately wished this saint wouldn't rub my uninteresting surname into me every time he spoke. As we dismounted near the tents I leaned against my saddle and asked further concerning the object of his loving anxiety. Was Ned Ferry generous, pleasant, frank?"Miss Coralie Rothvelt; yes, all right," said the officer, "the men that rode with you this morning told me all about you." He went with her as far as his videttes, and thence she rode alone to a picket of the Federal army and by her request was conducted under guard to the headquarters of a corps commander. To him and his chief-of-staff she told the fate of Jewett's scouts and delivered the messages of their dying leader; and then she tendered the hero's sword.I went down to the supper-table. Camille was there, dispensing its promiscuous hospitality to men who ate like pigs. I would as leave have found her behind a French-market coffee-stand. Harry Helm, nursing his bandaged hand, was lolling back from the board and quizzing her with compliments while she cut up his food. A fellow in the chair next mine said he had seen me with Ferry when we joined the Louisianians' charge. "Your aide-de-camp friend over yonder's a-gitt'n' lots o' sweetenin' with his grub; well, he deserves it."NED FERRY's a-comin' down de la--ane!" LV RESCUE AND RETREATI was not seeking enemies just then and was not pleased. "Didn't the Yankees fall back this morning before day and move southward?" I asked."So called."And still every moment men fell, and what could we do but smite while the foe's bugles still rang out from beside his unfurled standard. Thitherward sprang a swarm of us and found a brave group massed on foot around the colors, men and officers shoulder to shoulder in sudden equality. I saw Ned Ferry make straight for their commander, who alone had out his sabre; the rest stood with cocked revolvers, and at twenty yards fired low. Ferry's horse was hit; he reared, but the spur carried him on; his rider's sword flashed up and then down, the Federal's sabre turned it, the pistols cracked in our very faces, and down went my leader and his horse into the bottom of the whirlwind, right under the standard. I saw the standard-bearer bring down one of our men on top of Ferry, and as Ferry half regained his feet the Federal aimed point-blank against his breast. But it was I who fired and the Federal who fell. As he reeled I stretched out for the standard, and exactly together Ned Ferry and I seized it--the same standard we had seen the night before. But instantly, graciously, he thrust it from him. "Tis yours!" he cried in the midst of a general huzza, smiling up at it and me as I swung the trophy over my head. Then he turned ghastly pale, his smile faded to an unmeaning stare, two or three men leaped to his side, and he sank lifelessly into their arms beside his dying horse. Our intercourse became more amiable and the fellow dragged in his advice that I spend the rest of the night at the house of Mr. Oliver. His acquaintance with that gentleman seemed to grow while we talked, and broke into bloom like a magician's rosebush. He described him as a kind old bird who made hospitality to strangers his meat and drink. A conjecture darted into my mind. "Why, yes! that is his married son, is he not, yonder in the cabin; the one with the fair hair?""I do not think it, I know it. He sends me his own assurance of it by his own father, so that his revenge may be fuller by my knowing daily and hourly that he is on my trail."The trio laughed, the young woman most musically. Springing to the ground between our two candles, she bent over the open pageOnce, when we were not halted or harkening, we heard overmuch; heard that which brought us to an instant stand and caused even Miss Harper to gaze on me with dismayed eyes and parted lips, and the blood to go thumping through my veins. From a few hundred yards off in the northwest, beyond the far corner of an old field and the woods at its back, two gunshots together, then a third, with sharp, hot cries of alarum and command, and then another and another shot, rang out and spread wanderingly across the tender landscape. 幸运28qq群软件 "The chances are few," he answered; "even to General Austin she laughs and says we must let the story work itself out; that she is the fool in it, but there is a chance for the fool to win if not too much burdened with help." They say two or three men sprang to catch me, but the first thing I knew was that the ambulance was under way and I in it on my back within elbow-touch of Ferry, looking up into a surgeon's face. "How's the Lieutenant?" I asked."No, except that it was through--""Oh! Lieutenant Ferry, oh! would such a man as that come hunting down a woman, with a troop of cavalry?""Why, eh,--Lieutenant, I don't believe there's a braver man in Grant's army than that one a-straddle of my horse to-day! Why, just the way he got him, night before last,--you've heard that, haven't you?"How nimbly her mind moved! "Oh Mr. Gholson!" she said, and laughed to gain an instant for invention. The discussion warmed and I began to catch words and meanings. Oftenest they were old Lucius Oliver's, whose bad temper made him incautious. While his son and the other two jayhawkers obstinately pressed their scheme he kept saying, sourly, "That's--not--our--wa-ay!"She came. I met her outside the door, and for a moment I feared she would come no farther. "How can I, Richard! Oh, how can I?" she whispered; "this is my doing!" But presently she stood at the bedside calm and compassionate, in the dark dress and limp hat of two nights before. The dying man's eyes were lustrous with gratitude."You'll be the first prisoner I ever shot if you get any funnier!" "From whom? from Harry Helm? Oh, Gholson, that's too fantastical!""How many do you see?"We galloped. A courier from the brigade-camp met us, and the Colonel scribbled a purely false explanation of our absence, begging that no delay be made because of it. As the man left us, who should come up from behind us but Harry, asking what was the matter. "Matter enough for you to come along," said the Arkansan, and we went two and two, he and Gholson, Harry and I. We reached camp at sundown, and stopped to feed and rest our horses and to catch an hour's sleep. Gholson's fatigue was pitiful, but he ate like a wolf, slept, and awoke with but little fever. The Colonel kept him under his eye, forcing on him the honors of his own board, bed and bottle, and at nine we galloped again. 幸运28qq群软件 A familiar friendship lighted every countenance but mine as this second pair turned and rode with us, the lieutenant in front on Sergeant Jim Longley's right, and the two privates with me between them behind. For some minutes the sergeant, in under-tone, made report to his young superior. Then in a small clearing he turned abruptly into a neighborhood road, and at his word my two companions pricked after him westward. I closed up beside the lieutenant; he praised the weather, and soon our talk was fluent though broken, as we moved sometimes at a trot and often faster. In stolen moments I scanned him with the jealousy of my youth. Five feet, ten; humph! I was five, nine and a thirty-second. In weight he looked to be just what I always had in mind in those prayers without words with which I mounted every pair of commissary scales I came to. The play of his form as our smooth-gaited horses sped through the flecking shades was worth watching for its stanch and supple grace. Alike below the saddle and above it he was as light as a leaf and as firm as a lance. I had long yearned to own a pair of shoulders not too square for beauty nor too sloping for strength, and lo, here they were, not mine, but his. No matter; the slender mustache he sported he was welcome to, I had shaved off nearly as good a one; wished now I hadn't. As once or twice he lifted his képi to the warm breeze I took new despair from the soft locks of darkest chestnut that lay on his head in manly order, ready enough to curl but waiving the privilege."Right!" She laughed. "I wish a woman could choose that way. Oh! if you'll do that I'll go with you and stand guard over you!""There's no Lieutenant in there." Bang! "But they were present, eh?""Then take my parole! I give it! you have it! I'll take the chances."But my unsoldierly motive for going to headquarters kept my misgivings alive. I was hungry for the gentilities of camp; to be where Shakespeare was part of the baggage, where Pope was quoted, where Coleridge and Byron and Poe were recited, Macaulay criticized, and "Les Misérables"--Madame Le Vert's Mobile translation--lent round; and where men, when they did steal, stole portable volumes, not currycombs. Ned Ferry had been Major Harper's clerk, but had managed in several instances to display such fitness to lead that General Austin had lately named him for promotion, and the quartermaster's clerk was now Lieutenant Ferry, raised from the ranks for gallantry, and followed ubiquitously by a chosen sixty or so drawn from the whole brigade. Could the like occur again? And could it occur to a chap who could not comprehend how it had ever occurred at all?