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Winsome Winnie and other New Nonsense Novels By Stephen Leacock Characters: 3232

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

Randolph set out that night, mounted upon the fastest horse, in fact the fleetest, that the Confederate Army could supply. He was attended only by a dozen faithful negroes, all devoted to his person.

Riding over the Tennessee mountains by paths known absolutely to no one and never advertised, he crossed the Tombigbee, the Tahoochie and the Tallahassee, all frightfully swollen, and arrived at the headquarters of General Braxton Bragg.

At this moment Bragg was extended over some seven miles of bush and dense swamp. His front rested on the marshes of the Tahoochie River, while his rear was doubled sharply back and rested on a dense growth of cactus plants. Our readers can thus form a fairly accurate idea of Bragg's position. Over against him, not more than fifty miles to the north, his indomitable opponent, Grant, lay in a frog-swamp. The space between them was filled with Union and Confederate pickets, fraternizing, joking, roasting corn, and firing an occasional shot at one another.

One glance at Randolph's despatches was enough.

"Take them at once to General Hood," said Bragg.

"Where is he?" asked Eggleston, with military precision.

Bragg waved his sword towards the east. It was characteristic of the man that even on active service he carried a short sword, while a pistol, probably loaded, protruded from his belt. But such was Bragg. Anyway, he waved his sword. "Over there beyond the Tahoochicaba range," he said. "Do you know it?"

"No," said Randolph, "but I can find it."

"Do," said Bragg, and added, "One thing more. On your present mission let nothing stop you. Go

forward at all costs. If you come to a river, swim it. If you come to a tree, cut it down. If you strike a fence, climb over it. But don't stop! If you are killed, never mind. Do you understand?"

"Almost," said Eggleston.

Two days later Eggleston reached the headquarters of General Hood, and flung himself, rather than dismounted, from his jaded horse.

"Take me to the General!" he gasped.

They pointed to the log cabin in which General Hood was quartered.

Eggleston flung himself, rather than stepped, through the door.

Hood looked up from the table.

"Who was that flung himself in?" he asked.

Randolph reached out his hand. "Despatches!" he gasped. "Food, whisky!"

"Poor lad," said the General, "you are exhausted. When did you last have food?"

"Yesterday morning," gasped Eggleston.

"You're lucky," said Hood bitterly. "And when did you last have a drink?"

"Two weeks ago," answered Randolph.

"Great Heaven!" said Hood, starting up. "Is it possible? Here, quick, drink it!"

He reached out a bottle of whisky. Randolph drained it to the last drop.

"Now, General," he said, "I am at your service."

Meanwhile Hood had cast his eye over the despatches.

"Major Randolph," he said, "you have seen General Bragg?"

"I have."

"And Generals Johnston and Smith?"


"You have been through Mississippi and Tennessee and seen all the battles there?"

"I have," said Randolph.

"Then," said Hood, "there is nothing left except to send you at once to the army in Virginia under General Lee. Remount your horse at once and ride to Gettysburg. Lose no time."

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