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   Chapter 12 No.12

A Little Union Scout By Joel Chandler Harris Characters: 3973

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


As he said, so it was; he hustled everything before him, permitting me to keep my horse and allowing Whistling Jim to go along. "Good-by, mother," he said; "I'm sorry to leave you in such a place as this. I suppose you are waiting for Major Whiskers." He laughed gayly as he said this, and his mother slapped him playfully as she kissed him.

He invited me to ride with him at the head of his little squad of troops, saying that when a colonel started out to command a corporal's guard he assuredly needed assistance. He was perhaps thirty years old, but he had a tremendous fund of animal spirits, so that he had all the ways of a gay youth of twenty. He paid no more attention to the man who had been knocked about by Whistling Jim than if he had been a log of wood, and yet he was very tender-hearted. Whatever was in the line of war appealed to his professional instincts. War was his trade, and he seemed to love it; and he had a great relish for the bustle and stir that are incident thereto.

His sister rode in the top-buggy in which I had first seen her, and she might have been the commander of the men, judging from the way she gave instructions. She seemed to know all the roads, for she went ahead without the slightest hesitation. She was driving a good horse, too; his trot was sufficient to keep our horses in a canter; and whenever he heard us coming up behind him he would whisk the buggy away as if he scorned company. Perhaps this was due to the little lady who was driving him.

I had no grudge against her, heaven knows, but somehow I resented my present plight, for which I thought she was responsible. She had given me fair warning, but she should have known that it was my purpose to carry out the orders of General Forrest; and if I was to be warned at all she should have told me the precise nature of the danger. In that case, I could not only have escaped, but I could have been instrumental in the capture of her brother and his whole party. Perhaps

she knew this-and perhaps this was why she would give me no definite information.

But if she knew at all she must have known everything; her brother must have come in response to a summons from her or her mother. In any case I had been tricked-I had been made a fool of-and after what I had done for her, I felt that I had a right to feel aggrieved. Colonel Ryder observed my sullenness and commented on it.

"Don't be down-hearted, my boy. It is the fortune of war; there is no telling when it may turn its sunny side to you. In your place I should whistle and sing and make the best of it. Still, I know how you feel, and I sympathize with you."

"I should not have gone to that house last night," he went on, "but I knew that my mother was there, and I had received information that one of our scouts by the name of Leroy was in great danger of capture. What I did discover was that Miss Ryder had been captured." He laughed as he said this, and gave me a peculiar look.

"As to Leroy," I asked, "was he at that house? I am very much interested in knowing, for General Forrest detailed me to capture him."

"Under the circumstances, you acquitted yourself wonderfully well, and General Forrest has no right to be displeased with you," remarked Colonel Ryder.

"But you have not answered my question," I said.

"In the nature of things," he replied, enigmatically, "I prefer not to tell you. Of one thing you may be sure-Leroy is not likely to bother the rebels for some time to come. I think you have put him out of business, as the boys say."

"Then Leroy must be the name of the man that tried to capture me at the tavern. It was the negro that put him out of business."

"But Leroy is a very dear friend of mine," laughed the Colonel, "and you may be sure I should not have left him there. You observed, of course, that I was very attentive to the man your negro had whipped." He was still laughing, and I could not imagine for the life of me why he was tickled.

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