Harry Castlemon.

A Rebellion in Dixie





Dan took one more look at his prisoner to see that his bonds were all safe, and then went away. He was hardly out of sight before Leon began tugging and twisting at his fastenings in the hope of being able to get rid of some of them; but the harder he worked the more he exhausted himself. Dan had done his work well, and finally Leon gave it up as a bad job. Dan was gone fully an hour, and when he came back Leon noticed that he didnt have a shirt on. He noticed, too, that he was in pretty bad humor.

They have got two sentries up there to the house, dog-gone them, and I guess they must be waiting for me, said Dan, as he began to undo the fastenings that confined Leons mouth. They think Ill come back after awhile, but they dont know Dan Newman.

When Leon felt the gag removed from his mouth he coughed once or twice and acted as if he was about to expel the contents of his stomach; but after awhile he was able to reply to Dans question.

It makes you sick, dont it? asked Dan.

Yes, and that shirt would make anybody sick. I suppose they have got the sentries there in order to catch you when you come back.

But I say they dont know me, retorted Dan. I didnt go near the house till I had looked around a bit, and then I saw those men there and I came away. They wont let me get even a shirt. I wonder if they have got Cale?

Where was Cale when the men came up to capture you?

He was in the house and fast asleep.

Then of course they have got him. He didnt come out of the front door or I would have seen them. It rather bothers a man to be up all night, dont it?

Who said I was up all night? asked Dan.

I do. You were up all night, and held a conference with that rebel captain.

Whos got a better right? You fellows here in this county wont give me anything, and I have a right to go where I can get to be a captain.

Well, untie my feet, will you? said Leon, who didnt seem disposed to discuss this matter with Dan. You have got them fastened to that sapling until they hurt me.

Dan was accommodating enough to untie his feet, but he didnt make any move towards untying his hands. After that he sat down and held a long talk with his prisoner, who, considering the situation in which he was placed, took the matter very coolly. He knew he couldnt get away, but there would come other times, he thought, when his hands would be at liberty, and then he would try his best at escape. They passed the afternoon in this way, and finally it began to grow dark. Leon was getting hungry, and he knew that Dan was bothered the same way, and consequently he was relieved when his captor said he would try and reach home again and get something.

But first I must tie you up, said he.

Now, whats the use of going to all that trouble? said Leon, who couldnt bear the thought of having that shirt thrust into his mouth for the second time. I didnt halloo before.

No, of course you didnt, said Dan, with a laugh.

Cause why, the gag wouldnt let you. I wont be gone but a little while, and then I will untie you.

Leon yielded with a very bad grace while Dan was placing the gag in his mouth; and well he might, for there was the revolver, lying within easy reach of his captors hand. He was tied up just as he was before, and Dan, after a few parting words, disappeared in the darkness.

Oh, how I wish Tom Howe knew where I was! panted Leon, after he had tried in vain to get rid of some of his bonds. Ill bet you that I wouldnt be here much longer. Now, what will be done with me if I am given up to the rebels? Beyond a doubt Ill be hanged, for of course they will take revenge on my father through me. Well, if I go up there will be one less to fight them.

Dan was gone longer than he was before, and when he came back Leon was surprised to hear him talking to somebody. Of course, it was so dark that he couldnt see anything, but as his captor drew near he began to recognize Cale Newmans voice. Leon was thunderstruck. He did not know where Cale had been confined, but by some inadvertence on the part of his jailers he had got away. Leon was impatient to hear Cales version of it.

CHAPTER XV
A FRIEND IN NEED

Well, sir, you have got him as easy as falling off a log, havent you? said Cale, gleefully, as he sat down on the ground beside Leon and passed his hands over him from head to foot. Its Leon, as sure as I am alive, and youve got him tied up hard and fast, he added, as he felt of the prisoners face.

Hold on till I take the gag out of his mouth, said Dan. He talks as sassy as you please.

He does? Then I would punch him in the mouth for it, said Cale, who showed that he could be brave enough when he had the power.

No, that wont do, said Dan, who forthwith proceeded to take the shirt out of Leons mouth. You are an officer

Oh, get out! sneered Cale. Ill bet you when our officers get him into their hands theyll treat him worse than we will.

They didnt treat them so at Mobile when we saw those prisoners brought in there, retorted Dan. We are officers, and Ill bet you that I will get some men to command when I give this fellow up.

Leon took a few moments in which to get over the effect of the shirt being in his mouth, after which he was ready to talk to Cale; for, as we said, he was impatient to hear his version of the story of his escape.

How did you get away, Cale? said he.

You thought they had me hard and fast, didnt you? said Cale, shaking his fist at Leon. Well, they didnt. They had me in the third story of the hotel, and once, when the sentinel wasnt looking, I tore up the quilts they had given me to sleep on and dug out.

Didnt they have any sentry under the window? said Leon, astonished at such a want of foresight on the part of the Union men.

No, they didnt; and I took note of that the first thing when I went in. I stayed up close to the building while the sentry was looking out, and when he fired his gun to let them know that I had gone I dug out across the cotton-field until I struck the woods. I wondered what I should do without Dan, and I run onto him the first thing. Now, what are you going to do with this fellow?

As soon as it comes daylight well take him down to Mobile.

Ah! thats the place for you, said Cale, giving Leon a pinch. You wont be riding around on that horse of yours and making us all wish we had one, too. Youve got the revolver, Dan, and now Ill have the horse. I wish father could get away from the house. Mebbe he would make you stretch hemp right where you are.

Well, Cale, as I didnt have any sleep last night Ill lie down, said Dan. Do you reckon you can watch him while I doze a little?

Youre right, I can, said Cale, with savage emphasis. Give me your revolver. Now, let us see him make a move to get away. Ill stretch him out so stiff that he wont be of any use down there at Mobile.

That fellow has got a mighty nice shirt on that Id like to have, said Dan, as he drew his coat about him, but couldnt confine it, for it had no buttons. As soon as it comes daylight Ill make him shed that linen. I aint a-going among our officers with no shirt on.

Why dont you make him take it off now? said Cale. Ill watch him so that he cant run away.

No, I guess Id better be on the safe side. Let it go until to-morrow.

Leon was glad that he had such a reputation. He was able to sleep warm for one night at least. His clothing was comfortable, and his coat being buttoned up to the chin, and being protected from the keen wind by the thicket in which he was placed, he slept as warm as he would if he had been at home. The only thing was, his hands hurt him. He knew it would be of no use to appeal to Dan, so he gritted his teeth and said nothing. When Leon awoke it was broad daylight. Both his captors were asleep. The revolver that Cale threatened him with was lying by his side, and all he needed was his hands at liberty to turn the tables on them in good shape.

By gracious! muttered Leon; and once more he began trying the effect of Dans knots. But they were there to stay. He could not move his hands at all. Halloo! here, he added aloud. Do you want to go to sleep and let me run off? I am cold, and it is time I was moving.

Well, now, Ill be shot! said Dan, opening his eyes and rubbing them, while Cale made a clutch for the revolver. It was good of you not to go away.

You can thank yourself for it, said Leon. If I could have got away Id had my revolver in my hands, and then you would have gone to Ellisville.

Yes; and what would we be doing all that time? said Cale.

You shut up! answered Dan. You said you could watch him, and so you did. You went fast asleep watching him.

I only just closed my eyes, thats all, protested Cale. If hed a-made any move

Oh, shut up, and lets be moving, interrupted Dan. The sooner we get him where our officers are, the sooner well be rid of him and get something to eat.

Leon found that he was somewhat stiff when he came to get upon his feet, but before they had gone half a mile he stepped off with his accustomed free stride. Dan led the way with the revolver in his hand, and he was considerate enough to keep the bushes from striking his prisoner in the face. Leon knew how far it was to the river, but the distance seemed to lengthen out wonderfully since he last passed that way. He kept a bright look-out in the hope that he would meet some of the Union men, but in this he was disappointed.

Now, right up that way, not more than a mile, is a company of your fellows stationed there to watch the bridge, said Dan, stopping at length. How much would you give to holler and bring them down here?

Dont talk to him that way, exclaimed Cale, disturbed by the thought. The first thing you know he will holler.

Then this revolver will settle his hash, said Dan, savagely. Let him holler, if he wants to.

A little further on came the river, whereupon Dan backed off for a few feet and told Cale to undo the prisoners hands. Cale was prompt to obey, and the first thing that Leon did when he felt his arms free was to stretch them above his head, as if he enjoyed having them at liberty once more. He did not make a motion to escape, for there was the revolver looking him in the face.

Now take off your clothes, you two, and be ready to swim the river, said Dan.

Am I going over there with him? asked Cale, and he was thoroughly frightened at the prospect.

You go first, and when you get over there you can pick up a club. Ill keep his clothes behind with me, and the revolver, too, and if he wants to run off naked let him go. I bet you hell be glad to have his clothes again.

The two boys lost no time in taking off their clothes, and there was one thing that Leon didnt like pretty well. He would lose his shirt by the operation; but there was no help for it that he could see. In due time the boys were all over, and Leon saw his shirt go upon the back of Dan Newman.

There, now, I feel like myself again, exclaimed Dan. I can go among our officers now and have a shirt on. Button your coat up tight, Leon, and no wind can get in. Now you must have your hands tied again.

This much being accomplished, the prisoner and his captors went ahead at a more rapid pace, the woods being more open, and they held their course parallel with the main road. Their object was to get below the bend, where they would be out of sight of the sentries. At the end of half an hour they emerged from the woods, and striking the road went on their way with increased speed.

Dont you know some place along here where you can go and get something to eat? asked Leon. I could travel twice as fast if I had something on my stomach.

I was just thinking of that thing myself, answered Dan. I am going to stop at the first house I meet. And remember, Leon, no trying to get away, he added, showing the revolver he still carried in his hand.

Leon didnt make any reply. He knew now that he was beyond all reach of help, and after he got something to eat that was the first thing on the programme he must make up his mind to face our officers, who wouldnt be apt to treat him any too well. But first one house was passed and then another, and as neither Dan nor Cale had the courage to go in and beg something to eat, Leon finally gave it up as a bad job, and thought he would have to go on to Mobile before he could get a mouthful to stay his appetite. At last they came along to a place that Leon remembered. The first time he saw it there was a pleasant farm-house, and corn-cribs and negro quarters in abundance; but now everything had been given up to the flames, and some of the ruins were still smoking.

Well, I declare, somebody has been burned out, here! said Dan. Is this the place where you came last night, Leon?

I was around here somewhere, replied Leon.

Then heres where that rebel fellow lives, continued Dan. It serves him just right. Before I take an oath to support a government and then go back on it I would deserve to be burned out myself.

Leon did not make any reply to this, for he thought that Dan might be burned out and still not lose a great deal by it; but he did not want to say so for fear of making him angry. His captors had treated him all right so far, but he knew what the consequences would be if he got them down on him. While he was thinking about it, and wondering how Tom Howe and young Dawson would look upon his absence they certainly would know he had been captured they came suddenly around another bend in the road, and saw before them a long line of horsemen who were travelling as though they had some place to reach before night. He took a second glance at them, and saw that they were all dressed in Confederate uniform.

Theres some of our men now! exclaimed Dan, so overjoyed that he took off his hat and waved it to them. But, Cale, that aint our captain in front, is it? He was a big man, and this is a little one. There must be a whole regiment of them, and if that is the case they are going up to whip the Union men.

Leons heart fairly came up into his mouth. He would know soon what the rebels were going to do with him. The Confederates discovered them as soon as they came around the bend, and they kept a close watch of them until they came up. The man in front certainly was not a captain. He had a mark on his collar that no one had ever seen before.

Well, boys, where are you going? inquired the man; and they found out before the interview was over that his men called him colonel. Of course, Dan looked at him with a great deal of respect after he found out what his rank was.

Yes, weve got a Yankee prisoner here, said Dan, who was expected to do all the talking. He is the son of the Secretary of War up in Jones county.

He is, hey? exclaimed the colonel, beginning to show some interest in the matter. Well, well send him right down to Mobile the first thing we do. Are you from Jones county?

Dan replied that he was.

Then you must know all about the men up there, said the colonel. How many have they got, anyway?

A thousand fighting men, replied Dan. And I tell you, you will want more men than you have got here to whip them.

I dont know about that. We have got a thousand men here in this regiment, and they are all disciplined, and when they draw up against your crowd of bushwhackers you will see some scattering. Now, we want to get across that bridge; how far is it from here?

You will find it right straight up this road about twenty miles. You want to be careful, because they have got ten men hidden up there, and they are all good shots.

We will take care of them, dont you fear. Now, after we get across the bridge we must deploy in line of battle; how far will we have to go before we can strike their main line?

It is ten miles from the bridge to Ellisville, and when you get there you will find all the men you want.

Well, now, see here: suppose you go with me? You know all the crooks and turns of the road that leads

But, Captain, began Dan.

This gentleman is a colonel, interrupted the man who rode by his commanding officers side.

A colonel! exclaimed Dan, somewhat surprised to find that he had found the man who held the position his father was working for. Colonel, I am glad to meet you, he added, advancing and thrusting out a dirty, begrimed hand to the man, who merely reached down and touched the tips of it with his fingers. My father calculates to hold the position of colonel when he has delivered up all the head men of the county into your hands. But, Colonel, I want to see this man located in Mobile. I had a heap of trouble to gobble him, and I dont want to lose him.

But that wasnt the principal reason why Dan did not want to go back. Some of the men at the bridge would be certain to recognize him, and if he escaped the bullets which they would send after him he would not dare go home.

Well take care of him, said the colonel. The son of the Secretary of War is too valuable to lose.

What do you reckon you will do with him, Colonel?

Hang him, probably.

Leon heard the words, and looked around at Dan and Cale. Dan smiled upon him as if he had just heard a glorious piece of news, but Cale was grinning with delight. He said to himself: If Leon is going to be hung Ill have his horse.

Adjutant, pick out a good, trusty man to march this fellow to Mobile, said the colonel. A faithful fellow, mind you.

Captain Cullom, have you such a man in your company? said the adjutant, turning to the officer who commanded the advance of the line.

Yes, sir. Ballard, step out here!

The man referred to, who was one of the leading fours of his company, urged his horse to the front and brought his hand to his hat with a military salute. Then he slung his carbine upon his shoulder and drew his revolver from his belt. Leon looked at him, and he told himself that if he had been a rebel he would have trusted that man with his life. He was young, not more than twenty-four, but he was from Texas, and had been a cowboy all his life; consequently he was a little better clad than the majority of his comrades.

Ballard, you take this man before General Lowery and tell him that I sent him, said the colonel. Tell him that he is the son of a high-up man of Jones county, and let him do what he pleases with him.

Very good, sir, answered Ballard.

I wouldnt untie his hands, continued the colonel, but you have got your revolver in your hands and can easily stop him in case he runs for the woods.

Very good, sir, replied Ballard. Forward, march! Go off at one side of the road so as to be out of the way of the column.

Now, two of the men must make room for these boys, said the colonel. Forward!

Dan and Cale were quickly provided with places to ride behind two of the cavalrymen, the adjutant shouted Forward! with all the strength of his lungs, and Leon stood at one side of the road and watched the men as they marched by. He had heard a good deal about Texas, and he finally came to the conclusion that all the soldiers were from that region. They were all long-haired, and many of them were unacquainted with combs, but there were some among them who were dressed like his cowboy, with handkerchiefs around their necks, broad tarpaulins on their heads and fine boots on their feet. A good many of them had a word to say to Ballard and his prisoner, and they were not of the kind that was calculated to encourage Leon. When Leon wasnt looking Ballard raised his pistol and took a deliberate aim at his head a proceeding that was welcomed by shouts from all the men who saw it.

Thats the way; shoot him down! shouted one of the soldiers. There will be one less Yank for us left to fight, anyway.

Now, sonny, I guess all the men have passed, said Ballard. Take the middle of the road and travel ahead as if you were going for the doctor. Mobile is a long ways from here.

Leon accordingly took to the road and plodded along at his best pace; but he was wearied, and his hands hurt him so that he was on the point of urging his captor to untie them for a little while, so that he could stretch his arms and get the kinks out of them. He walked along until he had got around the first bend, out of sight of the cavalrymen, and then Ballard, after looking all around and up and down the road, to make sure that there was nobody in sight, leaned forward and whispered to him:

Say, sonny, go into the woods.

Leon turned around and faced him. He had heard that was one way the Confederates had of getting rid of their prisoners, namely, to take them into the woods and lose them. They would shoot them down and leave them there. Leon couldnt help himself if Ballard had decided to lose him, for his hands were tied.

What will I go in there for? he asked, and one wouldnt suppose that his life was in danger, to hear him talk.

Go into the woods quick! said Ballard. Im Union.





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