WITH LEE IN VIRGINIA
A Story Of The American Civil War.
by G.A. Henty
Chapter 14. Across the Border.
Dan on his return with the cart had brought back a message from its late owner to say that if she could in any way be of use to them she should be glad to aid them. Her farm lay on the road they were now following, and they determined therefore to stop there. As the cart drew up at the door the woman came out.
"Glad to see you," she said; "come right in. It's strange now you should have been lodging in my house for more than six weeks and I should never have set eyes on you before. The doctor talked to me a heap about you, but I didn't look to see quite such a young couple."
Lucy colored hotly and was about to explain that they did not stand in the supposed relationship to each other, but Vincent slightly shook his head. It was not worth while to undeceive the woman, and although they had agreed to pass as brother and sister Vincent was determined not to tell an untruth about it unless deceit was absolutely necessary for their safety.
"And you want to get out of the way without questions being asked, I understand?" the woman went on. "There are many such about at present. I don't want to ask no questions; the war has brought trouble enough on me. Now is there anything I can do? If so, say it right out."
"Yes, there is something you can do for us. We want to fill up our cart with the sort of stuff you take to market--apples and pumpkins, and things of that sort. If we had gone to buy them anywhere else there might have been questions asked. From what the doctor said you can let us have some."
"I can do that. The storeroom's chuck full; and it was only a few days ago I said to David it was time we set about getting them off. I will fill your cart, sir; and not overcharge you neither. It will save us the trouble of taking it over to Columbia or Camden, for there's plenty of garden truck round Mount Pleasant, and one cannot get enough to pay for the trouble of taking them there."
The cart was soon filled with apples, pumpkins, and other vegetables, and the price put upon them was very moderate.
"What ought we to ask for these?" Vincent soon inquired. "One does not want to be extra cheap or dear."
The woman informed them of the prices they might expect to get for the produce; and they at once started amid many warm good wishes from her.
Before leaving the farm the woman had given them a letter to her sister who lived a mile from Camden.
"It's always awkward stopping at a strange place," she said, "and farmers don't often put up at hotels when they drive in with garden truck to a town, though they may do so sometimes; besides it's always nice being with friends. I will write a line to Jane and tell her you have been my tenants at Woodford and where you are going, and ask her to take you in for the night and give you a note in the morning to any one she or her husband may know a good bit along that road."
When they reached the house it was dark, but directly Vincent showed the note the farmer and his wife heartily bade them come in.
"Your boy can put up the horse at the stable, and you are heartily welcome. But the house is pretty full, and we can't make you as comfortable as we should wish at night; but still we will do our best."
Vincent and Lucy were soon seated by the fire. Their hostess bustled about preparing supper for them, and the children, of whom the house seemed full, stared shyly at the newcomers. As soon as the meal was over, Chloe's wants were attended to, and a lunch of bread and bacon taken out by the farmer to Dan in the stables. The children were then packed off to bed, and the farmer and his wife joined Vincent and Lucy by the fire.
"As to sleeping," the woman said, "John and I have been talking it over, and the best way we can see is that you should sleep with me, ma'am, and we will make up a bed on the floor here for my husband and yours."
"Thank you--that will do very nicely; though I don't like interfering with your arrangements."
"Not at all, ma'am, not at all, it makes a nice change having some one come in, especially of late, when there is no more pleasure in going about in this country, and people don't go out after dark more than they can help. Ah! it's a bad time. My sister says you are going west, but I see you have got your cart full of garden truck. How you have raised it so soon I don't know; for Liza wrote to me two months since as she hadn't been able to sell her place, and it was just a wilderness. Are you going to get rid of it at Camden to-morrow?"
Vincent had already been assured as to the politics of his present host and hostess, and he therefore did not hesitate to say:
"The fact is, madam, we are anxious to get along without being questioned by any Yankee troops we may fall in with; and we have bought the things you see in the cart from your sister, as, going along with a cart full, any one we met would take us for farmers living close by on their road to the next market-town."
"Oh, oh! that's it!" the farmer said significantly. "Want to get through the lines, eh?"
"Didn't I think so!" the farmer said, rubbing his hands. "I thought directly my eyes hit upon you that you did not look the cut of a granger. Been fighting--eh? and they are after you?"
"I don't think they are after me here," Vincent said. "But I have seen a good deal of fighting with Jackson and Stuart; and I am just getting over a collar-bone which was smashed by a Yankee bullet."
"You don't say!" the farmer exclaimed. "Well, I should have gone out myself if it hadn't been for Jane and the children. But there are such a lot of them that I could not bring myself to run the chance of leaving them all on her hands. Still, I am with them heart and soul."
"Your wife's sister told me that you were on the right side," Vincent said, "and that I could trust you altogether."
"Now, if you tell me which road you want to go, I don't mind if I get on my horse to-morrow and ride with you a stage, and see you put for the night. I know a heap of people, and I am sure to be acquainted with some one whichever road you may go. We are pretty near all the right side about here, though, as you get further on, there are lots of Northern men. Now, what are your ideas as to the roads?"
Vincent told him the route he intended to take.
"You ought to get through there right enough," the farmer said. "There are some Yankee troops moving about to the west of the river, but not many of them; and even if you fell in with them, with your cargo of stuff they would not suspect you. Anyhow, I expect we can get you passed down so as always to be among friends. So you fought under Jackson and Stuart, did you? Ah, they have done well in Virginia! I only wish we had such men here. What made you take those two darkies along with you? I should have thought you would have got along better by yourself."
"We couldn't very well leave them," Vincent said; "the boy has been with me all through the wars, and is as true as steel. Old Chloe was Lucy's nurse, and would have broken her heart had she been left behind."
"They are faithful creatures when they are well treated. Mighty few of them have run away all this time from their masters, though in the parts the Yankees hold there is nothing to prevent their bolting if they have a mind to it. I haven't got no niXXers myself. I tried them, but they want more looking after than they are worth; and I can make a shift with my boys to help me, and hiring a hand in busy times to work the farm. Now, sir, what do you think of the look-out?"
The subject of the war fairly started, his host talked until midnight, long before which hour Lucy and the farmer's wife had gone off to bed.
"We will start as soon as it is light," the farmer said, as he and Vincent stretched themselves upon the heap of straw covered with blankets that was to serve as their bed, Chloe having hours before gone up to share the bed of the negro girl who assisted the farmer's wife in her management of the house and children.
"It's best to get through Camden before people are about. There are Yankee soldiers at the bridge, but it will be all right you driving in, however early, to sell your stuff. Going out you ain't likely to meet with Yankees; but as it would look queer, you taking your garden truck out of the town, it's just as well to be on the road before people are about. Once you get five or six miles the other side you might be going to the next place to sell your stuff."
"That is just what I have been thinking," Vincent said, "and I agree with you the earlier we get through Camden the better."
Accordingly as soon as daylight appeared the horse was put in the cart, the farmer mounting his own animal, and with a hearty good-by from his wife the party started away. The Yankee sentinels at each end of the bridge were passed without questions, for early as it was the carts were coming in with farm produce. As yet the streets of the town were almost deserted, and the farmer, who before starting had tossed a tarpaulin into the back of the cart, said:
"Now, pull that over all that stuff, and then any one that meets us will think that you are taking out bacon and groceries and such like for some store way off."
This suggestion was carried out, and Camden was soon left behind. A few carts were met as they drove along. The farmer knew some of the drivers and pulled up to say a few words to them. After a twenty-mile drive they stopped at another farm, where their friend's introduction ensured them as cordial a welcome as that upon the preceding evening. So step by step they journeyed on, escorted in almost every case by their host of the night before and meeting with no interruption. Once they passed a strong body of Federal cavalry, but these supposing that the party belonged to the neighborhood asked no questions; and at last, after eight days' traveling, they passed two posts which marked the boundary between Tennessee and Alabama.
For the last two days they had been beyond the point to which the Federal troops had penetrated. They now felt that all risk was at an end. Another day's journey brought them to a railway station, and they learned that the trains were running as usual, although somewhat irregular as to the hours at which they came along or as to the time they took upon their journey. The contents of the cart had been left at the farm at which they stopped the night before, and Vincent had now no difficulty in disposing of the horse and cart, as he did not stand out for price, but took the first offer made. Two hours later a train came along, and the party were soon on their way to the east. After many hours' traveling they reached Rome, in Georgia, and then proceeded by the southern line a few miles to Macon, at which place they alighted and hired a conveyance to take them to Antioch, near which place Lucy's relatives resided.
The latter part of the journey by rail had been a silent one. Lucy felt none of the pleasure that she had expected at finding herself safely through her dangers and upon the point of joining relations who would be delighted to see her, and she sat looking blankly out of the window at the surrounding country. At last Vincent, who had been half an hour without speaking, said: "Are you sorry our journey is just over, Lucy ?"
The girl's lip quivered, but she did not speak for a moment. "Of course it is unpleasant saying good-by when people have been together for some time," she said with an effort.
"I hope it will not be good-by for long," he said. "I shall he back here as soon as this horrible war is over."
"What for?" the girl asked, looking round in surprise. "You live a long way from here, and you told me you knew nobody in these parts."
"I know you," Vincent said, "and that is quite enough. Do you not know that I love you?"
The girl gave a start of surprise, her cheek flushed, but her eyes did not drop as she looked frankly at him.
"No, Vin," she said after a pause, "I never once thought you loved me, never once. You have not been a bit like what I thought people were when they felt like that."
"I hope not, Lucy. I was your protector then, that is to say when you were not mine. Your position has been trying enough, and I should have been a blackguard if I had made it more uncomfortable than it was by showing you that I cared for you. I have tried my best to be what people thought me--your brother; but now that you are just home and among your own people, I think I may speak and tell you how I feel toward you and how I have loved you since the moment I first saw you. And you, Lucy, do you think you could care for me?"
"Not more than I do now, Vin. I love you with all my heart. I have been trying so hard to believe that I didn't, because I thought you did not care for me that way."
For some minutes no further word was spoken. Vincent was the first to speak:
"It is horrid to have to sit here in this stiff, unnatural way, Lucy, when one is inclined to do something outrageous from sheer happiness. These long, open cars, where people can see from end to end what every one is doing, are hateful inventions. It is perfectly absurd, when one finds one's self the happiest fellow living, that one is obliged to look as demure and solemn as if one was in church."
"Then you should have waited, sir," the girl said.
"I meant to have waited, Lucy, until I got to your home, but directly I felt that there was no longer any harm in my speaking, out it came; but it's very hard to have to wait for hours perhaps."
"To wait for what?" Lucy asked demurely.
"You must wait for explanations until we are alone, Lucy. And now I think the train begins to slacken, and it is the next station at which we get out."
"I think, Lucy," Vincent said, when they approached the house of her relatives, "you and Chloe had better get out and go in by yourselves and tell your story. Dan and I will go to the inn, and I will come round in an hour. If we were to walk in together like this it would be next to impossible for you to explain how it all came about."
"I think that would be the best plan. My two aunts are the kindest creatures possible, but no doubt they will be bewildered at seeing me so suddenly. I do think it would be best to let me have a talk with them and tell them all about it before you appear upon the scene."
"Very well, then, in an hour I will come in."
When they arrived at the gate, therefore, Vincent helped Lucy and Chloe to alight, and then jumping into the buggy again told the driver to take him to the inn.
Having engaged a room and indulged in a thorough wash Vincent sallied out into the little town, and was fortunate enough to succeed in purchasing a suit of tweed clothes, which, although they scarcely fitted him as if they had been made for him, were still an immense improvement upon the rough clothes in which he had traveled. Returning to the hotel he put on his new purchases, and then walked to the house of Lucy's aunts, which was a quarter of a mile outside the town.
Lucy had walked up the little path through the garden in front of the house, and turning the handle of the door had entered unannounced and walked straight into the parlor. Two elderly ladies rose with some surprise at the entry of a strange visitor. It was three years since she had paid her last visit there, and for a moment they did not recognize her.
"Don't you know me, aunts?"
"Why, goodness me!" the eldest exclaimed, "if it isn't our little Lucy grown into a woman! My dear child, where have you sprung from?" And the two ladies warmly embraced their niece, who, as soon as they released her from their arms, burst into a fit of crying, and it was some time before she could answer the questions showered upon her.
"It is nothing, aunts," she said at last, wiping her eyes; "but I am so glad to be with you again, and I have gone through so much, and I am so happy, and it is so nice being with you again. Here is Chloe waiting to speak to you, aunts. She has come with me all the way."
The old negress, who had been waiting in the passage, was now called in.
"Why, Chloe, you look no older than when you went away from here six years ago," Miss Kingston said. "But how ever did you both get through the lines? We have been terribly anxious about you. Your brother was here only a fortnight ago, and he and your father were in a great way about you, and reproached themselves bitterly that they did not send you to us before the troubles began, which certainly would have been a wiser step, as I told them. Of course your brother said that when they left you to join the army they had no idea that matters were going so far, or that the Yankees would drive us out of Tennessee, or they would never have dreamed of leaving you alone. However, here you are, so now tell me all about it."
Lucy told the story of the various visits of the Federal bushwhackers to the house, and how they had narrowly escaped death for refusing to betray the Confederate officer who had come to the house for food. Her recital was frequently interrupted by exclamations of indignation and pity from her aunts.
"Well, aunts, after that," she went on, "you see it was impossible for me to stop there any longer. No doubt they came back again a few hours afterward and burned the house, and had I been found there I should have been sure to be burned in it, so Chloe agreed with me that there was nothing to do but to try and get through the lines and come to you. There was no way of my getting my living at Nashville except by going out as a help, and there might have been some difficulties about that."
"Quite right, my dear. It was clearly the best thing for you to come to us--indeed, the only thing. But how in the world did you two manage to travel alone all that distance and get through the Federal lines?"
"You see, we were not alone, aunts," Lucy said; "the Confederate officer and his servant were coming through, and of course they took care of us. We could never have got through alone, and as Chloe was with me we got on very nicely; but we have been a long time getting through, for in that fight, where he saved my life and killed five of the band, he had his shoulder broken by a pistol bullet, and we had to stop in a farmhouse near Mount Pleasant, and he was very ill for some time, but the doctor who attended him was a true Southerner, and so we were quite safe till he was able to move again."
"And who is this officer, Lucy?" Miss Kingston asked rather anxiously.
"He is a Virginian gentleman, auntie. His mother has large estates near Richmond. He was in the cavalry with Stuart, and was made prisoner while he was lying wounded and insensible, at Antietam; and I think, auntie, that that--" and she hesitated--"some day we are going to be married."
"Oh, that's it, is it?" the old lady said kindly. "Well, I can't say anything about that until I see him, Lucy. Now tell us the whole story, and then we shall be better able to judge about it. I don't think, my dear, that while you were traveling under his protection he ought to have talked to you about such things."
"He didn't, auntie; not until we were half a mile from the station here. I never thought he cared for me the least bit; he was just like a brother to me--just like what Jack would have been if he had been bringing me here."
"That's right, my dear; I am glad to hear it. Now, let us hear all about it."
Lucy told the whole story of her escape and her adventures, and when she had finished her aunts nodded to each other.
"That's all very satisfactory, Lucy. It was a difficult position to be placed in, though I don't see how it was to be avoided, and the young man really seems to have behaved very well. Don't you think so, Ada?" The younger Miss Kingston agreed, and both were prepared to receive Vincent with cordiality when he appeared.
The hour had been considerably exceeded when Vincent came to the door. He felt it rather an awkward moment when he was ushered into the presence of Lucy's aunts, who could scarcely restrain an exclamation of surprise at his youth, for although Lucy had said nothing about his age, they expected to meet an older man, the impression being gained from the recital of his bravery in attacking singlehanded twelve men, and by the manner in which he had piloted the party through their dangers.
"We are very glad to see you--my sister Ada and myself," Miss Kingston said, shaking hands cordially with their visitor. "Lucy has been telling us all about you; but we certainly expected from what you had gone through that you were older."
"I am two or three years older than she is, Miss Kingston, and I have gone through so much in the last three years that I feel older than I am. She has told you, I hope, that she has been good enough to promise to be my wife some day?"
"Yes, she has told us that, Mr. Wingfield; and although we don't know you personally, we feel sure--my sister Ada and I--from what she has told us of your behavior while you have been together that you are an honorable gentleman, and we hope and believe that you will make her happy."
"I will do my best to do so," Vincent said earnestly. "As to my circumstances, I shall in another year come into possession of estates sufficient to keep her in every comfort."
"I have no doubt that that is all satisfactory, Mr. Wingfield, and that her father will give his hearty approval when he hears all the circumstances of the case. Now, if you will go into the next room, Mr. Wingfield, I will call her down"--for Lucy had run upstairs when she heard Vincent knock.
"I dare say you will like a quiet talk together," she added smiling, "for she tells me you have never been alone together since you started."
Lucy required several calls before she came down. A new shyness such as she had never before felt had seized her, and it was with flushed cheeks and timid steps that she at last came downstairs, and it needed an encouraging--"Go in, you silly child, your lover will not eat you," before she turned the handle and went into the room where Vincent was expecting her.
Vincent had telegraphed from the first station at which he arrived within the limits of the Confederacy to his mother, announcing his safe arrival there, and asking her to send money to him at Antioch. Her letter in reply reached him three days after his arrival. It contained notes for the amount he wrote for; and while expressing her own and his sisters' delight at hearing he had safely reached the limits of the Confederacy, she expressed not a little surprise at the out-of-the-way place to which he had requested the money to be sent.
"We have been examining the maps, my dear boy," she said, "and find that it is seventy or eighty miles out of your direct course, and we have puzzled ourselves in vain as to why you should have made your way there. The girls guess that you have gone there to deliver in person some message from one of your late fellow-prisoners to his family. I am not good at guessing, and am content to wait until you return home. We hope that you will leave as soon as you get the remittance. We shall count the hours until we see you. Of course we learned from a Yankee paper smuggled through the lines that you had escaped from prison, and have been terribly anxious about you ever since. We are longing to hear your adventures."
A few hours after the receipt of this letter Vincent was on his way home. It was a long journey. The distance was considerable, and the train service greatly disordered and unpunctual. When within a few hours of Richmond he telegraphed, giving the approximate time at which he might be expected to arrive. The train, however, did not reach Richmond until some hours later. The carriage was waiting at the station, and the negro coachman shouted with pleasure at the sight of his young master.
"Missis and the young ladies come, sah; but de station-master he say de train no arrive for a long time, so dey wait for you at de town house, sah."
Dan jumped up beside the coachman and Vincent leaped into the carriage, and a few minutes later he was locked in the arms of his mother and sisters.
"You grow bigger and bigger, Vincent," his mother said after the first greeting was over. "I thought you must have done when you went away last, but you are two or three inches taller and ever so much wider."
"I think I have nearly done now, mother--anyhow as to height. I am about six feet one."
"You are a dreadful trouble to us, Vincent," Annie said. "We have awful anxiety whenever we hear of a battle being fought, and it was almost a relief to us when we heard that you were in a Yankee prison. We thought at least you were out of danger for some time; but since the news came of your escape it has been worse than ever, and as week passed after week without our hearing anything of you we began to fear that something terrible had happened to you."
"Nothing terrible has happened at all, Annie. The only mishap I had was getting a pistol bullet in my shoulder which laid me up for about six weeks. There was nothing very dreadful about it," he continued, as exclamations of alarm and pity broke from his mother and sister. "I was well looked after and nursed. And now I will tell you my most important piece of news, and then I will give you a full account of my adventures from the time when Dan got me out of prison, for it is entirely to him that I owe my liberty."
"Well, what is the piece of news?" Annie asked.
"Guess!" Vincent replied smiling.
"You have got promoted?" his mother said. He shook his head.
"Is it about a lady?" Annie asked.
"Oh, Vincent, you are not engaged to be married! That would be too ridiculous!" Vincent laughed and nodded.
"Annie is right, mother; I am engaged to be married." Mrs. Wingfield looked grave, Rosie laughed, and Annie threw her arms round his neck and kissed him.
"You dear, silly old boy:" she said. "I am glad, though it seems so ridiculous. Who is she, and what is she like?"
"We needn't ask where she lives," Rosie said. "Of course it is in Antioch, though how in the world you managed it all in the two or three days you were there I can't make out."
Mrs. Wingfield's brow cleared. "At any rate, in that case, Vincent, she is a Southerner. I was afraid at first it was some Yankee woman who had perhaps sheltered you on your way."
"Is she older than you, Vincent?" Annie asked suddenly. "I shouldn't like her to be older than you are."
"She is between sixteen and seventeen," Vincent replied, "and she is a Southern girl, mother, and I am sure you will love her, for she saved my life at the risk of her own, besides nursing me all the time I was ill."
"I have no doubt I shall love her, Vincent, for I think, my boy, that you would not make a rash choice. I think you are young, much too young, to be engaged; still, that is a secondary matter. Now tell us all about it. We expected your story to be exciting, but did not dream that love-making had any share in it."
Vincent accordingly told them the whole story of his adventures from the time of his first meeting Dan in prison. When he related the episode of Lucy's refusal to say whether he would return, although threatened with instant death unless she did so, his narrative was broken by the exclamations of his hearers.
"You need not say another word in praise of her," his mother said. "She is indeed a noble girl, and I shall be proud of such a daughter."
"She must be a darling!" Annie exclaimed. "Oh, Vincent, how brave she must be! I don't think I ever could have done that, with a pistol pointing straight at you, and all those dreadful men round, and no hope of a rescue; it's awful even to think of."
"It was an awful moment, as you may imagine," Vincent replied. "I shall never forget the scene, or Lucy's steadfast face as she faced that man; and you see at that time I was a perfect stranger to her-- only a fugitive Confederate officer whom she shielded from his pursuers."
"Go on, Vincent; please go on," Annie said. "Tell us what happened next."
Vincent continued his narrative to the end, with, however, many interruptions and questions on the part of the girls. His mother said little, but sat holding his hand in hers.
"It has been a wonderful escape, Vincent," she said when he had finished. "Bring your Lucy here when you like, and I shall be ready to receive her as my daughter, and to love her for her own sake as well as yours. She must be not only a brave but a noble girl, and you did perfectly right to lose not a single day after you had taken her safely home in asking her to be your wife. I am glad to think that some day the Orangery will have so worthy a mistress. I will write to her at once. You have not yet told us what she is like, Vincent."
"I am not good at descriptions, but you shall see her photograph when I get it."
"What, haven't you got one now?"
"She had not one to give me. You see, when the troubles began she was little more than a child, and since that time she has scarcely left home, but she promised to have one taken at once and send it me, and then, if it is a good likeness, you will know all about it."
"Mother, when you write to-night," Rosie said, "please send her your photograph and ours, and say we all want one of our new relative that is to be."
"I think, my dear, you can leave that until we have exchanged a letter or two. You will see Vincent's copy, and can then wait patiently for your own."
"And now, mother, I have told you all of my news; let us hear about every one here. How are all the old house hands, and how is Dinah? Tony is at Washington, I know, because I saw in the paper that he had made a sudden attack upon Jackson."
Mrs. Wingfield's face fell.
"That is my one piece of bad news, Vincent. I wish you hadn't asked the question until to-morrow, for I am sorry that anything should disturb the pleasure of this first meeting; still as you have asked the question I must answer it. About ten days ago a negro came, as I afterward heard from Chloe, to the back entrance and asked for Dinah. He said he had a message for her. She went and spoke to him, and then ran back and caught up her child. She said to Chloe, 'I have news of my husband. I think he is here. I will soon be back again.' Then she ran out, and has never returned. We have made every inquiry we could, but we have not liked to advertise for her, for it may be that she has met her husband, and that he persuaded her to make off at once with him to Yorktown or
"This is bad news indeed, mother," Vincent said. "No, I do not think for a moment that she has gone off with Tony. There could be no reason why she should have left so suddenly without telling any one, for she knew well enough that you would let her go if she wished it; and I feel sure that neither she nor Tony would act so ungratefully as to leave us in this manner. No, mother, I feel sure that this has been done by Jackson. You know I told you I felt uneasy about her before I went. No doubt the old rascal has seen in some Northern paper an account of his son having been attacked in the streets of Washington, and recaptured by Tony, and he has had Dinah carried off from a pure spirit of revenge. Well, mother," he went on in answer to an appealing look from her, "I will not put myself out this first evening of my return, and will say no more about it. There will be plenty of time to take the matter up to-morrow. And now about all our friends and acquaintances. How are they getting on? Have you heard of any more of my old chums being killed since I was taken prisoner at Antietam?"
It was late in the evening before Vincent heard all the news. Fortunately, the list of casualties in the army of Virginia had been slight since Antietam; but that battle had made many gaps among the circle of their friends, and of these Vincent now heard for the first time, and he learned too, that although no battle had been fought since Antietam, on the 17th of September, there had been a sharp skirmish near Fredericksburg, and that the Federal army, now under
General Burnside, who had succeeded McClellan, was facing that of Lee, near that town, and that it was believed that they would attempt to cross the Rappahannock in a few days.
It was not until he retired for the night that Vincent allowed his thoughts to turn again to the missing woman. Her loss annoyed and vexed him much more than he permitted his mother to see. In the first place, the poor girl's eagerness to show her gratitude to him upon all occasions, and her untiring watchfulness and care during his illness from his wound, had touched him, and the thought that she was now probably in the hands of brutal taskmasters was a real pain to him. In the next place, he had, as it were, given his pledge to Tony that she should be well cared for until she could be sent to join him. And what should he say now when the negro wrote to claim her? Then, too, he felt a personal injury that the woman should be carried off when under his mother's protection, and he was full of indignation and fury at the dastardly revenge taken by Jackson. Upon hearing the news he had at once mentally determined to devote himself for some time to a search for Dinah; but the news that a great battle was expected at the front interfered with his plan. Now that he was back, capable of returning to duty, his place was clearly with his regiment; but he determined that while he would rejoin at once, he would as soon as the battle was over, if he were unhurt, take up the search. His mother and sisters were greatly distressed when at breakfast he told them that he must at once report himself as fit for duty, and ready to join his regiment.
"I was afraid you would think so," Mrs. Wingfield said, while the girls wept silently; "and much as I grieve at losing you again directly you have returned, I can say nothing against it. You have gone through many dangers, Vincent, and have been preserved to us through them all. We will pray that you may be so to the end. Still, whether or not, I as a Virginian woman cannot grudge my son to the service of my country, when all other mothers are making the same sacrifice; but it is hard to give you up when but yesterday you returned to us."