Harry Castlemon.

A Rebellion in Dixie





And that was the time they killed Bach Noble, said Mr. Knight, with suppressed fury.

Well, it was all in war times, wasnt it?

War times? What do you mean by that? ejaculated the President, while a restless movement among the men told that they did not uphold anybody in thus taking the life of a sentry. Bach Noble was one of the most popular lumbermen in the county, and this method of shooting him just because it was war times aroused all the anger there was in them. A word from the President would have seen Cale swung up to a tree in less than no time.

It was war times, wasnt it? inquired Cale, who seemed to think he had said too much.

Well not discuss that. The Confederate captain offered you and your brother promotion. Then what?

By a little questioning Mr. Knight got at all that had transpired during their interview with the Confederate captain, and the old soldiers that were in there were amazed when they saw how green Dan was. After thinking a moment, he said:

I dont think that Cale has been guilty of treason. What do you men say to that?

No, said a voice. But he has been giving out docterings that wont go down with this county.

Thats so, chimed in others.

I acknowledge that, said Mr. Knight. But I say lets shut him up and keep him until we can catch his brother. He cant be far off.

I noticed that some of my men went into the bushes to find him, said Mr. Sprague. Some of them havent returned yet.

Very well. Well shut Cale up until we find that slippery brother, and then well examine them both. Well find a room somewhere in the hotel I see Bass Kennedy has got his corn in the jail and it would be hardly worth while to take it out for the sake of one prisoner and, Eph, if you will keep watch of him I will relieve you in a couple of hours.

Well, say, Knight, began Cale.

Mister Knight, if you please. I am mister to all such fellows as you are. What were you going to say?

I want you to understand that you dassent hang me, said Cale, not daring to venture upon the mans surname again. Like everybody else in the county he had learned to call a man by his name without any fixture to it, and he did not care to begin now. His father had always spoken of him as Knight, and Cale thought he was as good as the President.

Dassent, eh? said Mr. Knight, with a look of surprise. You will find that we dare do anything.

But I tell you that my father will tell the folks at Mobile about it, whined Cale, almost ready to cry.

There you have it. Shut him up. Eph, you want to open the door every time you hear the clock strike, to see if he is there. If there is no further business before the meeting it stands adjourned.

Eph at once seized his prisoner and hurried him before the proprietor of the hotel, who at once hit upon a room that would do for his confinement.

Well put him high up, so that he cant get down, said he.

Well put him up in the third story. Come on.

Taking a key from behind his desk, the proprietor led the way up the stairs until he came to a small room with only one window in it, pushed open the door and stood aside, so that Cale could enter. There was literally no furniture in the room, it all having been removed down-stairs, so that it could be ready to be moved whenever Mr. Faulkner got ready to go to the swamp.

Now, sir, youll stay here till you come out to be hung, said Eph, giving him a shove.

Good mercy me! exclaimed Mr. Faulkner, opening his eyes in surprise. Is that whats to become of him? Well, its a mighty hard death for a young man to die.

Oh, no, they dassent hang me, said Cale, almost ready to cry again.

If we do your pap will tell the folks in Mobile about it, said Eph, with a sneer. Well, you tell your folks in Mobile to go somewhere and do something about it. Didnt you hear what our President said, that we dare do anything?

He aint any more a President than I be, declared Cale, boldly.

Let me hear you say those words again and Ill begin operations right here! said Eph. Hes as much of a President as Jeff Davis, and I am not going to hear a word said against him. Go in there!

Hold on. He hasnt got a chair. Ill get one.

Mr. Faulkner was gone not more than two minutes and came back with a chair, which was pushed into the room, and then the jailer locked the door and put the key into his pocket. Cale took a look around his prison, and then walked to the window and took a good look there, too. It wasnt a great ways to the ground, and Cale was certain, if his enemies did not put a sentry there to see that he did not drop down and take himself safe off, his escape would be an assured thing. He tried the window, and was gratified to find that it yielded to his touch. Then he walked back to the chair and seated himself upon it.

Those Union men is mighty smart, he soliloquized. Because I am three stories up they think I am safe. Ill show them how easy it will be for me to hang by my hands and drop down. And they talk about hanging me! Ill bet they cant do it.

The muffled tread of the sentry came to his ears, and finally, when the clock struck, Eph opened the door to see if he was there.

CHAPTER XIV
LEON A PRISONER

Ah! said Eph, youre there yet. You are thinking over how you can escape being hung for your treason. Well, thats a good way to put in ones time.

Cale did not answer. He sat with his elbows on his knees and his head bowed upon his hands, and he was thinking deeply not of how he could escape being hanged, but of where he should go and what he should do in case he made the attempt at escape successful. He had heard Mr. Sprague, when he placed sentinels over his house, one in front and another behind had heard him tell them not to let his father or mother go out of the house and he knew it would be foolhardy to go home after that. The sentries would capture him and bring him back to his prison. Eph took an unbounded delight in bothering the boy. He knew that the most that would be done with Cale would be to ship him off among his friends, and that would be the last of him. He glanced at the window to see that it was all right, and then went out, closing the door behind him.

That fellow keeps telling me that I am going to be hung, said Cale, raising his head and glancing at the door through which Eph had just gone out. What would I give to be in here at night when he comes in and finds the window open and Cale Newman gone? I tell you that would be worth some money. Now, if I could only find Dan. He would know where to go and what to do.

For long hours Cale sat there and listened to the tread of the sentinel, and every time the clock struck down-stairs he lifted his head and looked at the sentinel, who opened the door and looked in. They were changed every two hours, and finally it began to grow dark. By that time Cale began to grow hungry, and while he was thinking about it the door opened and in came Mr. Faulkner, whose hands were filled with bedclothes and eatables.

I cant bear to have any man around me who I know is hungry, even if he is going to be hung, said he. Let me put this bread and meat on the chair. Theres something for you to lie down on. Its pretty rough, I know, but I expect you get rougher at home. Good-night and pleasant dreams.

Cale examined the bedclothes as well as he could in the dark, and found that he had a pillow and, what was better than all, two quilts, which he could tear up, fasten to the chair, and thus let himself down from the window. He chuckled to himself and devoted his attention to the viands. By the time he had got through the sentry opened the door, and Cale saw a light streaming in.

Oh, Im here yet, said Cale.

I know you are, said the man. And youre going to stay there until you come out to be hung.

All right. But you wont hang me until you catch my brother. He had the most to do with talking with that captain.

No matter. You was knowing to it all, and that counts for a heap against you.

The sentry closed the door, and in an instant Cale was on his feet. Things had to be done in a hurry, and quietly, too, for in an hour more the man would look in to see if his prisoner was all right. It was something of a job to tear the quilts; but fortunately he had them all done at last, and when he knotted them together he was glad to see how long they were. He didnt think he would be obliged to drop more than ten feet.

The next thing was opening the window and fastening the quilts to the chair; but he accomplished it without alarming the sentinel, and drawing in a long breath, he launched himself over the side of the window and heard the chair bang loudly as he threw his weight upon the quilts. In his haste the quilts did not do much toward assisting him to the bottom, for he slid rapidly down them and landed all in a heap under the window just as the sentry opened the door to see what was going on.

Are you there yet, Cale? asked the man, as he looked all around the room. By gracious, he has gone!

With two jumps the man reached the window and leaned over and looked out. Everything was concealed by darkness, and even the crouching Cale, who was close to the wall, right under the mans gaze, escaped his notice. Then the man thought of his rifle. He rushed back into the hall and got it, fired it once out of the window, and then went down-stairs to tell the men what an extraordinary escape Cale had made. This was the time for the prisoner to make the most of his opportunity. He arose to his feet and made good time across the narrow cotton-field that lay between him and the woods, and he never ceased running until he reached the banks of a little bayou a mile back in the forest, where he stopped and sat down to rest.

There, sir, said Cale, wiping the big drops of perspiration from his forehead. Ive done it; as sure as the world I have done it. That is the first time I ever was put in jail for something I didnt do. Let them get somebody else and talk about hanging them. Now, if I could only find Dan.

Cale did not take very long to rest himself before he got upon his feet again and cautiously worked his way toward his fathers shanty. The darkness had no effect upon Cale, for he took his course as straight as he could have done in the daytime. The sentries might have been removed by this time, but all the same he made his way stealthily through the bushes, as though the sentries were there and liable at any minute to jump out and make a prisoner of him. It would never do to be captured again, for the next time he would be put where it would be impossible for him to get away. But he walked right onto Dan, who had been up to the house for the same purpose; that is, he wanted to see if there was any chance for him to communicate with his father. As Cale was working his way cautiously through the bushes, going so still that he could not hear the thicket rattle behind him, he was startled out of a years growth by hearing a voice close at his side mutter:

Ill be dog-gone if there aint Cale!

D Dan, is that you? stammered Cale, so overjoyed that he could scarcely speak.

Youre right, its me, said Dan. Where you been?

They had me shut up in jail, was the answer.

In the calaboose?

No, in the hotel; and they left one window there without any sentry to guard it, and I just come out.

Well, sir, I will say hereafter that youve got pluck. But come up here. Ive got something to show you.

Cale began feeling his way toward the place where Dan was, and in a few moments he placed his hand upon his shoulder. But there was something else that he touched there. It was a revolver.

Why, Dan, where have you been to get that? asked Cale, in surprise.

I have not only got that, but the man what owns it, returned Dan, with the same pride he would have exhibited had he won an enemys colors in battle. Ive got Leon Sprague.

Cale was so astonished that he couldnt say anything just then.

While you have been shut up in jail I have been working for the glorious cause, said Dan. I got him just as easy as falling off a log. Ive heard so much tell about Leons courage that I was kinder afraid to tackle him; but pshaw! I handled him as easy as you would handle a baby.

Let us now go back for a moment and tell what had happened to Dan while Cale was being shut up in the hotel. When he came back from holding his interview with the Confederate captain he did not go to bed, as Cale did, but filled his pipe with negro-twist and lay down on the ground to smoke and think. He lay there for an hour he didnt want any breakfast; besides, he was getting tired of corn-bread and bacon, anyway building his air-castles and dreaming how proud he would be if he could only hold a position equal to the captains.

Boots on his feet that came up to his knees and gloves on his hands that came clear up to there, said Dan, motioning with his finger to a point on his arm that came clear up to his elbow. And didnt he handle that horse gay? She was a frisky animal, but he managed her as easy as if he was seated in a rocking-chair. And, dog-gone him, he went and fooled me!

By this time his father had eaten his breakfast and came out to his usual place on the threshold, pipe a-going. He took a few pulls at the tobacco, cast his eye up to the clouds to see what the weather was going to be, and was then ready to begin his topic of conversation.

The South is going to whip, said he. It dont stand to reason that one county in the midst of a State thats in rebellion is going to whip all the counties around her.

But, father, do you think they are going to fight? asked Dan.

Fight! No, they wont. I only wish I could get my position as colonel. I would show them how to clean these men out.

And the men here wouldnt give you the position of Secretary of War, said Dan. What would you have done if you had got that position?

Eh? Well, I would have done a heap more than that old Sprague is doing, I can tell you that. I would have made you boys officers, to begin with. You would make a bully captain, Dan.

Thats just what I think, and and I ought to be one, too.

Yes; and think of the money we would make. Thats what makes me so down on all these officers. That must be worth six or eight thousand dollars a year.

Whew! whistled Dan. And old Sprague is making that much?

I have no doubt of it. At any rate they might have offered it to me, and I would ask how much they was going to give. If the price didnt suit me Whats the matter? added Mr. Newman, seeing that Dan removed his pipe from his mouth and sat up straight on the ground. Do you hear anything?

Father, there is some one coming along through the bushes, said Dan, involuntarily lowering his voice to a whisper. And they are coming fast, too.

Mr. Newman listened, and presently he heard the faint rustle of the thicket as a body of men worked its way through them. It was still very faint, but it came plainly to his ears.

Ive got to go, said Dan, hurriedly. You call Cale.

What have you been a-doing? said his father, in astonishment. You stay where you are, and if they should put one of you in the calaboose Id cut it down as soon as I could get to it with my axe.

I know, but Ill tell you at some future time what I have been a-doing. Call Cale.

Dan turned and made a dive for the bushes, and no sooner had he disappeared than Mr. Sprague came in sight. While Mr. Sprague was holding his colloquy with the father and mother, who stood at the door, and Bud McCoy had gone around the house in time to catch Cale Newman coming out of the window, Leon noticed the pipe which Dan had thrown down, and which was not yet extinguished. He took a few pulls at it, and it went as lively as it ever did.

Dan is out here in the bushes, said he to Tom and young Dawson, who remained close at his side. Lets go out and capture him.

All right, said Dawson. Let us spread out a little, so that we will cover more ground. Be in a hurry, now.

Leon was out of sight before he had ceased speaking. He made no attempt to draw his revolver, for he did not think it would be worth while. He had always known Dan, and knew him to be a lazy, worthless fellow, but he was little prepared for what happened afterward. He was looking everywhere for Dan he must have been half a mile or more from his friends by this time when suddenly, as he pressed down a thicket to look into it, he felt something on his back and he was thrown violently on his face. Knowing in a minute what it was, his hand went behind him, but he felt some fingers at work with his own, and his revolver was torn from his grasp. A feeling of horror came over him when he knew that he was disarmed. The weight was lifted off his back, he was rolled over, so that he could see what he had to contend with, and his own revolver was looking him in the face. It was cocked, too, and it needed only the pressure of a finger to make all things blank to him. It was Dan Newman who was bending above him. His face was very pale, but there was a glint in his eyes that spoke volumes.

Not a word out of you, said Dan, fiercely. Not a word out of you. Roll over, with your face downwards.

Leon had no alternative but to obey. There was shoot in Dans eyes, and Leon saw it. He rolled over, and Dan arose to his feet and took off his coat, and then his shirt, which he proceeded to tear up into small strips. It was then a task of no difficulty to bind Leons arms. It was done in less time than it takes to tell it, and then Leon was pulled to a sitting posture, while Dan stood and looked down at him.

Ive got you, aint I? said Dan, who hardly knew whether he stood on his head or his heels. Now, what are you going to do about it?

I dont see that I can do anything, said Leon, wondering if he was to give up and remain a prisoner in the hands of this man. You can do what you please with me.

And it pleases me to take you down to Mobile and give you up to our folks, said Dan. Mebbe theyll think that my company is in a condition for me to command it. It aint often that a man can get the son of a Secretary of War prisoner, is it?

Leon did not care to talk any longer. He knew what Dan was going to do with him, and he did not feel much elated over it. He sat there in silence and watched Dan, who was grinning all over and hardly knew whether or not his good fortune had stood him so well in stead or not. He wanted to be sure about it, and so began a conversation with Leon; or rather, he talked and Leon listened. He examined his revolver repeatedly, took aim at certain spots on the trees, and acted for all the world like one who was bereft of his senses. Having spent an hour in this way, and being at last satisfied that Mr. Sprague had looked around the house without being able to find him, Dan thought he would go home and hold a short consultation with his father.

The old man will be dreadful glad Ive got you, said Dan, wondering how he was going to leave Leon so that he wouldnt arouse the whole neighborhood by his yelling, and perhaps hell think I had better do something else with you. I want to go home and get a shirt, too, for these nights are mighty damp.

Does the old man believe as you do? asked Leon. He thought it would be policy to learn all he could concerning the belief of the squatters family, for he did not expect to remain a prisoner all his life. When he returned he would know how to go to work. The first thing he did would be to put all that family under arrest.

Of course the old man believes as I do, said Dan. The South is going to send men enough in here to whip you. I tell you, Leon, you fellows are crazy.

What are you going to do with that? asked Leon, referring to a piece of shirt which Dan was carefully folding.

I am going to use it as a gag, said Dan. You must think that I am a pretty smart man to go away and leave you with your mouth wide open. Now, I guess this will do.

I assure you that I wont halloo, exclaimed Leon, who did not like to have any of Dans clothing in his mouth. Try me and see.

No, I reckon Id best be on the safe side. If you will let this go into your mouth, well and good; if not, it will have to go in anyway, said Dan, picking up his revolver.

There was but one course open to Leon, and he submitted to have a wad of shirt tucked into his mouth that almost made him sick. It was tied hard and fast, too, so that he could not get rid of it. Dan next turned his attention to his feet, which he bound with another piece of shirt, and fastened them to a tree so that he could not get up. Then he looked at the way his hands were fastened and got up, shoving the revolver into his pocket.

I wont be gone but a little while, said Dan, straightening up the thicket in which Leon lay. I reckon Ill bring the old man back here with me. You will be glad to see him, I know. My father might have been top-notch in this county if it hadnt been for your old man. But no, they wouldnt have him for Secretary of War, and now they see what they made by it.





: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20