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   Chapter 23 No.23

Winsome Winnie and other New Nonsense Novels By Stephen Leacock Characters: 4702

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

At this date the Confederate Army of the Tennessee was extended in a line with its right resting on the Tennessee and its left resting on the Mississippi. Its rear rested on the rugged stone hills of the Chickasaba range, while its front rested on the marshes and bayous of the Yazoo. Having thus-as far as we understand military matters-both its flanks covered and its rear protected, its position was one which we ourselves consider very comfortable.

It was thus in an admirable situation for holding a review or for discussing the Constitution of the United States in reference to the right of secession.

The following generals rode up and down in front of the army, namely, Mr. A. P. Hill, Mr. Longstreet, and Mr. Joseph Johnston. All these three celebrated men are thus presented to our readers at one and the same time without extra charge.

But who is this tall, commanding figure who rides beside them, his head bent as if listening to what they are saying (he really isn't) while his eye alternately flashes with animation or softens to its natural melancholy? (In fact, we can only compare it to an electric light bulb with the power gone wrong.) Who is it? It is Jefferson C. Davis, President, as our readers will be gratified to learn, of the Confederate States.

It being a fine day and altogether suitable for the purpose, General Longstreet reined in his prancing black charger (during this distressed period all the horses in both armies were charged: there was no other way to pay for them), and in a few terse words, about three pages, gave his views on the Constitution of the United States.

Jefferson Davis, standing up in his stirrups, delivered a stirring harangue, about six columns, on the powers of the Supreme Court, admirably calculated to rouse the soldiers to frenzy. After which General A. P. Hill offered a short address, soldier-like and to the point, on the fundamental principles of international law, which inflamed the army to the highest pitch.

At this moment an officer approached the President, saluted and stood rigidly at attention. Davis, with that nice punctilio which marked the Southern army, returned the salute.

"Do you speak first?" he said, "or did I?"

"Let me," said the officer. "Your Excellency," he continued, "a young Virginian officer has just been fished out of the Mississ


Davis's eye flashed. "Good!" he said. "Look and see if there are many more," and then he added with a touch of melancholy, "The South needs them: fish them all out. Bring this one here."

Eggleston Lee Carey Randolph, still dripping from the waters of the bayou, was led by the faithful negroes who had rescued him before the generals. Davis, who kept every thread of the vast panorama of the war in his intricate brain, eyed him keenly and directed a few searching questions to him, such as: "Who are you? Where are you? What day of the week is it? How much is nine times twelve?" and so forth. Satisfied with Eggleston's answers, Davis sat in thought a moment, and then continued:

"I am anxious to send some one through the entire line of the Confederate armies in such a way that he will be present at all the great battles and end up at the battle of Gettysburg. Can you do it?"

Randolph looked at his chief with a flush of pride.

"I can."

"Good!" resumed Davis. "To accomplish this task you must carry despatches. What they will be about I have not yet decided. But it is customary in such cases to write them so that they are calculated, if lost, to endanger the entire Confederate cause. The main thing is, can you carry them?"

"Sir," said Eggleston, raising his hand in a military salute, "I am a Randolph."

Davis with soldierly dignity removed his hat. "I am proud to hear it, Captain Randolph," he said.

"And a Carey," continued our hero.

Davis, with a graciousness all his own, took off his gloves. "I trust you, Major Randolph," he said.

"And I am a Lee," added Eggleston quickly.

Davis with a courtly bow unbuttoned his jacket. "It is enough," he said. "I trust you. You shall carry the despatches. You are to carry them on your person and, as of course you understand, you are to keep on losing them. You are to drop them into rivers, hide them in old trees, bury them under moss, talk about them in your sleep. In fact, sir," said Davis, with a slight gesture of impatience-it was his one fault-"you must act towards them as any bearer of Confederate despatches is expected to act. The point is, can you do it, or can't you?"

"Sir," said Randolph, saluting again with simple dignity, "I come from Virginia."

"Pardon me," said the President, saluting with both hands, "I had forgotten it."

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