A Rebellion in Dixieñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“Well, now, this beats me,” said Leon.
“Don’t it?” replied Tom.
“There was one amusing thing that was connected with the interview,” said Mr. Dawson, “and that was Dan’s rapid promotion. The captain made him a captain, too, and his brother a lieutenant.”
“Why, had the captain right to do that?”
“Certainly not; but the captain saw what manner of man he was, and so promoted him on the spot. I thought I had better tell you of this, so as to put you on your guard.”
“Thank you; and you may be sure that we shall take advantage of it. Captain Newman! How that sounds!”
As for Tom Howe, he was almost beside himself with fury. When Leon punched him in the ribs and asked him what he thought about it, he simply shook his head and said nothing. After awhile he inquired: “Was Cale there?”
“Yes, Cale was there, but he didn’t have much to say.”
“No matter. He was knowing to it all, and he would have been the worst one in the lot if he had only dared.”
“What would you have done, Robert?” asked Leon of his rebel friend, although the latter hadn’t made any remark thus far.
“What would I have done if they had laid alongside the road and tried to capture us?” replied Dawson, and there was much more determination in his words than Leon had ever noticed before. “Well, sir, I wouldn’t have been here now. Didn’t you hear me say that I would drop before I would be captured? I meant every word of it. If I should be taken prisoner I would only be hanged, and I would rather be shot than that.”
“Well, boys, I have seen enough to make me believe that the rebels have gone home,” said Mr. Dawson. “Now let’s go and find your mother and see how much luck we will have in getting by the sentries.”
“Oh, we won’t have any trouble there,” said Leon. “I’ve got the password.”
“Yes; but it won’t be of any use to you in broad daylight.”
“Then I’ll make my face pass us. Everybody about here knows Leon Sprague.”
They had something more to do in coming up with the wagon, for Cuff, when he struck the main road, kept on “the best he knew how,” so they had almost reached the bridge when they came within sight of his span of mules. After a short consultation it was decided that Leon and Tom should go on ahead to smooth the way for the fugitives, leaving them to follow with the team; so they galloped their horses and presently heard a voice ordering them to halt. By this time it was almost sunrise, and Leon, profiting by the experience of the old soldier, didn’t say he had the countersign. He and Tom stopped and got off their horses.
“Well, I declare, it’s you, ain’t it?” said the one who came out to see who and what they were. “Did you see anything of the rebels last night?”
“I should say we did,” returned Leon, with a laugh. “We stood right by and saw Mr. Dawson’s house burn up.”
“Was that before they fired into us?”
“Why, I didn’t hear anything about that. Did they shoot into you?”
“Yes, sir; and they killed Bach Noble as dead as a hammer.
You see he was standing guard when they crept up and had no show to defend himself; but we got the better of them.”
“What did you do with Bach?”
“We laid him out there in the bushes and sent a man up to Ellisville after a wagon to take him home. He was the first man killed on our side, but I’ll bet he ain’t the last.”
“You are sergeant of this post, are you not?”
“I reckon. That’s what they call me.”
“I want you to pass along this road a party of rebels who are now coming toward us. I saw their houses burned last night. They are mighty tired of fighting our fellows, and are now going over into Jones county to battle under our flag. And I will tell you another thing about them: they won’t take any prisoners. Here they come now.”
“Now, Leon, I reckon you’ll swear by them?”
“I will, any day in the week. Ask the man any questions you want to. They have got children with them, and they wouldn’t surely take them into an enemy’s country.”
The Dawson party approached, being beckoned to by Leon’s hand, and young Robert was promptly recognized by the so-called sergeant in charge of the post. He shook him warmly by the hand, and said if the rest of the family were as strong for the Union as he was they might all come in and go on to Ellisville.
“They are as strong,” said Dawson. “If you had stood where my father stood and saw your property burn up, you wouldn’t have much love in you for rebels.”
The party passed on over the bridge, lingered there to exchange a word with the squad on guard at the bridge and to look at the blood-stains the sentinel had left when he fell, and finally kept on the road to camp.
CALE IN TROUBLE
The Dawson party now drew a long breath of relief. They had crossed the bridge and were now on the road to Ellisville, the pickets were between them and their pursuers, and all danger of capture was passed. Young Robert walked along beside his horse – the elder Dawson seemed determined to foot it, and his son kept him company – and, judging from the remarks exchanged between husband and wife, all peril of being made prisoners was gone. Even Cuff drew a long breath and slowed up on his mules, while Leon and Tom rode on ahead, apparently very much occupied with their own thoughts. Everybody knew what they were thinking about, and for a long time no one troubled them; but at last Dawson could stand it no longer.
“It’s rather rough on you, ain’t it, Leon?” said he. “To see where that sentinel shed his blood is enough to make you believe that you have not undertaken a picnic.”
“I tell you, boys, you have taken something of a job on your hands,” said Mr. Dawson. “I never heard of such a thing, and I am afraid before the thing is up you will find it an impossibility. The sight of a little blood don’t worry me. When you belong to a company that charges a battery, and the battery opens on you and kills all but five or six of you, then it will be time for you to open your eyes.”
“Well, I don’t see why you took that method of finding out how many men there were at the bridge,” said Leon. “Why couldn’t you have made a fuss of some kind out there in the bushes and then counted the men when they came out?”
“Because it was orders,” said Mr. Dawson. “If you were in the rebel army for a few short weeks you would know what that means. I fired with the balance, but I shot wild. I never fired at a Union man in my life.”
“But, father, how did you come to be on this scout?” asked Dawson. “You don’t belong to that company.”
“Oh, no. I happened to be present when the squad was made out, and among them was an old German fellow who didn’t care to go, and I borrowed his weapons and mule and went in his place. I expect he’ll get tired waiting for his weapons before he sees them again. That’s a pretty good carbine,” added Mr. Dawson, holding his gun off at arm’s length and looking at it.
“I didn’t know that a man could do that,” said Leon. “I thought you had to obey orders, no matter whether you wanted to or not.”
“Not in a case like this. I didn’t say anything to anybody about it. I got on the mule, and when the squad was called together I put in an appearance. I was afraid that something was going to happen to my family, and I couldn’t bear to stay behind.”
“I tell you, things turned out all right, didn’t they?” said Dawson, gleefully. “You came home just in the right time to join us.”
“What I want to know is, am I going to get my horse?” said Mr. Dawson. “I raised him myself, and shouldn’t like to part with him.”
“You will get your horse all right,” said Leon. “If he has been given to anybody, that man will have to give him up.”
That settled the matter to the satisfaction of all the Dawson family. Leon soon began to get over the forebodings caused by that crimson stain on the floor of the bridge, and riding beside the wagon he kept up a conversation with Mrs. Dawson, who told him many things connected with the service that he hadn’t dreamed of. In due time they arrived at Ellisville. Just as they were going up the main road that led past the hotel they met a squad of sentinels going down to relieve those at the bridge. It was plain that an old soldier was in command of them, for they were closed up, held their guns at a carry and marched by twos. The two officers who commanded them marched at the head. They had evidently had some time to drill their men, and the result showed that the backwoodsmen were not at all behind in military matters. When they came up, they reined their horses out of the way and passed on without speaking.
“There’s a squad that is well drilled,” said Mr. Dawson. “But I do not see why you do not destroy that bridge. It seems to be a world of trouble to you.”
“There’s a very good reason why we don’t destroy it,” said Leon. “There are five other places where it can be forded.”
“Why, I hadn’t heard of that,” exclaimed Mr. Dawson.
“Do you remember sending two men up here to make a map of the country?” asked Leon. “Well, they found it out.”
“And did you let those men go back?”
“No, one of them stayed up here,” said Leon, who somehow could not find it in his heart to say the man had been killed. “If we destroy the bridge, anybody like you, who is tired of serving under that old rag, won’t know that they can get across, and we have nobody to send them to show where the fords are. We don’t know, ourselves.”
As they drew near to the porch of the hotel, Leon saw his father standing there. He dismounted and shook him by the hand – he was certain that his father put a little more grip into the shake than usual – and presented Mr. Dawson, who, it is not necessary to say, was received with a hearty welcome.
“The first thing this man wants is his horse,” said Leon.
“Was he with us when we captured that wagon-train?” asked Mr. Sprague. “If so, he can have his horse. They have not been given out yet.”
“There, sir, you got your horse,” added Leon, turning to Mr. Dawson. “Now the next thing is, we want to report. Is the President in his room? Then, father, I want you to come up there with Mr. Dawson. He’s got some things to tell you that will astonish you.”
His father replied that he didn’t see how he was going to be astonished any more than he had been, but followed Leon up the stairs to the President’s office. They found the gentleman there just as they had seen him before, with a pair of blue jean pants on, which were tucked in heavy cowhide boots, and no coat on. He greeted Mr. Dawson very cordially and inquired, in his hearty way:
“So you’ve got tired of serving under a flag that you don’t like, and have come over here to cast your lot with us. Well, sir, the best we have got is yours.”
“I am well aware of that, Mr. President,” said Mr. Dawson. “But there is one thing that I want to post you on at once. It is about that man Dan Newman.”
Mr. Knight removed the pen from behind his ear and settled back in his chair. He had been expecting to hear something from Dan Newman for a long time. Mr. Dawson began and told him the whole story of Dan’s meeting with the Confederates, his sudden promotion, and all about it, and when he got done there was an expression on the President’s face that few people had seen there.
“Well, Dawson, you can go down there and pick out any place you can find to draw your wagon up,” said he. “You are right at home here. Sprague, what is your opinion regarding Dan Newman?”
“My opinion is that he ought to be arrested at once,” replied Mr. Sprague.
“And after that are you going to try him by a court-martial?”
“That will be just as the men say. If he is not tried by court-martial he will be shipped off among his friends. They can promote him faster than we can,” said Mr. Sprague, with a smile.
“Well, get to work at once. Take as many men as can surround Newman’s old shanty and make prisoners of those boys. If the old man says too much, bring him along, too. Dawson, I shall send for you presently.”
“Very good, sir. I will be on hand when I am wanted.”
Mr. Sprague lost no time in getting his men together, and while he was hunting them up Dawson held a short interview with his father.
“Now, you take my horse,” said he, “and when we get back we’ll get your nag. Of course Leon is going to arrest Newman, and I am going with him. Turn into any open place you can find in the grove, and there make your camp. You will find them all friendly here.”
Mr. Dawson mounted the horse and led the wagon down the road, and just then Bud McCoy came up. Bud was always on hand when he was wanted. He got so in the habit of staying close around to Mr. Sprague that it was not long before the men came to call him Colonel Sprague’s body-guard. But Bud didn’t mind that. He said he got more to do by being around there than he could anywhere else, and that was what a Union volunteer wanted in times like these.
“What’s up?” he exclaimed. “What does the old man want with volunteers?”
“He is going out to arrest Dan Newman,” said Leon.
“Well, there; I always thought that man ought to be arrested,” said Bud. “He has been preaching up secession docterings till you can’t rest. What’s he been doing now?”
It did not take long for Leon to make Bud understand the matter, and as he went on to tell what Dan had been guilty of, the scowl on the man’s face changed to one of furious hatred. When Leon ceased he struck his fist into his open palm with a ringing slap.
“You’ll go, too, won’t you?”
“Of course I’ll go. I ain’t a-going to stand no fooling like that. He has said enough to hang him higher’n Haman.”
While they were talking Mr. Sprague was seen coming at the head of five men whom he had summoned to make the arrest. We said he had summoned five men, but the news of what he wanted to do had gradually worked its way through the camp until there were more than twenty men who were slinging on their bullet-pouches and hurrying to catch up with those who had been summoned. The feeling was so great against Newman that all hands wanted to have a finger in his arrest. As he passed by the porch of the hotel, Leon, Tom and Dawson joined him.
“There’s one thing about it,” said Leon, looking back at the stalwart fellows behind him. “No Newman can get away from this party.”
“You’re mighty right,” said one of the men. “It’s a wonder to me that your father didn’t arrest him long ago.”
“See here, boys,” said Mr. Sprague, from the head of the column. “Be quiet and still. Those Newmans are like quails; they’ll run and hide if they hear a twig snap. When we come up with the house I’ll give the word, and then you know what to do.”
The Newmans in trouble.
Silently the men fell in behind their leader, and swiftly did they work their way toward the shanty. It was probably half a mile to where it was located, and although everybody moved so cautiously that they were certain not a twig snapped, they were not careful enough to conceal their presence from the man they were going to arrest. At length, when Mr. Sprague dashed aside the thicket and stepped out into the little space that surrounded the cabin, they saw Newman and his wife at the door. The former held in his hand an axe, and the other had a skillet, which she flourished to and fro as the men approached.
“What do you want here?” exclaimed Newman, and he lifted his axe threateningly in his hand.
“Surround the house, boys,” said Mr. Sprague. “We’ll talk to you in a minute.”
The most of the men were prompt to act upon this suggestion, and no sooner had Bud McCoy, who was leading one squad, appeared behind the house than he caught a glimpse of Cale Newman in the act of leaving it through the window.
“Ah! here you are, my fine lad,” said Bud, seizing him by the arm. “Where’s that brother of yours?”
“Oh, now, what are you going to arrest me for?” exclaimed Cale, who turned white and trembled in every limb. “I ain’t done nothing. Father, do you see what they are doing?”
“We hain’t done you no harm yet, but just wait until we get back – ”
Bud had been on the point of looking in at the window to see if he could discover anything of Dan, when, to his surprise, there came something down on his head which knocked the hat over his eyes and narrowly escaped laying him out flat. It was the skillet in the hands of the old woman; but Bud didn’t wait to see what it was. He straightened himself up by the side of the house, and when the skillet descended a second time he caught it in his hand and came within an ace of jerking the woman through the window. He wrested the novel weapon from her and threw it as far as possible into the bushes.
“Say, old woman, you want to keep your distance!” said Bud, who was so angry that he could scarcely talk straight. “You try that again and I’ll have you through that window!”
By this time the men from the front part of the house had entered through the door – the man with his axe didn’t make half the battle his wife did – but no Dan was there to be seen. You will remember that when he came back he sat down with his pipe to smoke and think over the perfidy of the captain in giving him promotion when he had no business to do it, and that he had not yet gone to bed. While smoking he was startled by a noise in the bushes. He listened, but the noise increased and grew louder, and in an instant it flashed upon him that his interview with the rebel captain was known. That was enough to start him into the bushes. Giving his father a sign to call Cale, he was out of sight in a moment, and all efforts to find him were useless.
“Here’s one of them, colonel!” said Bud, coming around the house. “Now, where’s the other?”
The man had been disarmed of his axe, and the woman didn’t seem to have any more fight left in her, the powerful jerk she got from Bud satisfying her that the best thing she could do was to keep quiet; but they had plenty of talk left in them.
“Of all the mean things that I ever saw this is the beat!” said Mrs. Newman, as she gazed around at the number of men that had come there to take her boy into custody.
“It is an outrage!” chimed in Mr. Newman, stamping about over the floor as if he were almost beside himself. “They come with an army of men to take away one little fellow! I hope you feel duly ashamed of yourselves.”
“Let go my coat!” exclaimed Cale to the man who held him tight by his collar to see that he did not escape. “What are you going to do with me?”
“We’ll put you in jail; that’s what we’ll do with you,” said the man. “You have preached up secession long enough.”
“Say, father, are you going to let that old jail stand?” demanded Cale, trying hard to escape from the grip that held him. “You said that you would cut it down if they took any of us there.”
“Where’s your brother?” demanded Bud.
“He’s gone where you won’t find him,” retorted Mrs. Newman. “Now, I want you to turn my boy loose.”
“We have had enough out of you,” said Mr. Sprague, who had looked all around in the hope of finding Dan hidden somewhere in the house. “If you say another word I’ll take you along to keep Cale company. You two stay here and watch the cabin, one in front and one at the back,” he added, pointing out two of the men he wished to obey his orders. “Don’t let Newman and his wife go out of doors, and if Dan comes back here, gobble him up. I will relieve you in a couple of hours. Forward, the rest of us.”
Taking Cale along the narrow path that led through the woods was as much as two men wanted to do, he kicked and struggled so furiously. As long as he remained within reach of his father he constantly appealed to his father to “cut down the jail” so that he could not be confined there, and it was only when Mr. Sprague threatened him with the gag that he condescended to keep still. They hustled him along the half a mile that led to Ellisville, and when they arrived within sight of the grove they found all the men there to see how they had come out. Cale must have listened to some things that astonished him, for he heard one man say that hanging was too good for such as he was, and advocated that he be tied to a tree and left there. He was marched through the crowd of men, some of whom shook their fists in his face, and up the stairs that led to the President’s office. Then the men let go of his collar, and in an instant every inch of standing-room was filled. There wasn’t the least chance for escape.
“Well, Cale Newman,” said the President, taking off his spectacles and settling back in his chair, “you tried to get those Confederates last night to go after our boys.”
“I never,” began Cale.
“I am not here to argue the matter with you; I am here to tell you what you have done,” said Mr. Knight. “They offered you promotion in case you would do something for them.”
“Well, I’ll tell you how it was,” said Cale, who didn’t think that he was betraying his brother by the confession he was about to make. “The captain offered to make me lieutenant, but I didn’t think he had any right to do it.”
“Ah!” said the President.
“Yes; and my brother he offered to make captain. Dan was in for it, but I was a little jubius. He offered to show them where Leon and that rebel fellow was, but the captain said he would go on and see how many men they were at the bridge.”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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