The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come
John Fox, Jr.
Part 5 out of 5
new command only a few months before. Harry made no word of comment, but
Chad's heart got bitter as gall as he listened. And this had happened to the
Deans while he was gone to serve them. But the bloody Commandant of the State
would be removed from power--that much good had been done--as Chad learned
when he presented himself, with a black face, to his general.
"I could not help it," said the General, quickly. "He seems to have hated the
Deans." And again read the despatches slowly. "You have done good work. There
will be less trouble now." Then he paused. "I have had a letter from General
Grant. He wants you on his staff." Again he paused, and it took the three past
years of discipline to help Chad keep his self-control. "That is, if I have
nothing particular for you to do. He seems to know what you have done and to
suspect that there may be something more here for you to do. He's right. I
want you to destroy Daws Dillon and his band. There will be no peace until he
is out of the way. You know the mountains better than anybody. You are the man
for the work. You will take one company from Wolford's regiment--he has been
reinstated, you know--and go at once. When you have finished that--you can go
to General Grant." The General smiled. "You are rather young to be so near a
A major! The quick joy of the thought left him when he went down the stairs to
the portico and saw Harry Dean's thin, sad face, and thought of the new grave
in the Deans' garden and those two lonely women in exile. There was one small
grain of consolation. It was his old enemy, Daws Dillon, who had slain Joel
Turner; Daws who had almost ruined Major Buford and had sent him to
prison--Daws had played no small part in the sorrows of the Deans, and on the
heels of Daws Dillon he soon would be.
"I suppose I am to go with you," said Harry.
"Why, yes," said Chad, startled; "how did you know?"
"I didn't know. How far is Dillon's hiding-place from where Morgan is?"
"Across the mountains." Chad understood suddenly. "You won't have to go," he
"I'll go where I am ordered," said Harry Dean.
CHAPTER 26. BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER AT LAST
It was the first warm day of spring and the sunshine was very soothing to
Melissa as she sat on the old porch early in the afternoon. Perhaps it was a
memory of childhood, perhaps she was thinking of the happy days she and Chad
had spent on the river bank long ago, and perhaps it was the sudden thought
that, with the little they had to eat in the house and that little the same
three times a day, week in and week out, Mother Turner, who had been ailing,
would like to have some fish; perhaps it was the primitive hunting instinct
that, on such a day, sets a country boy's fingers itching for a squirrel rifle
or a cane fishing-pole, but she sprang from her seat, leaving old Jack to doze
on the porch, and, in half an hour, was crouched down behind a boulder below
the river bend, dropping a wriggling worm into a dark, still pool. As she sat
there, contented and luckless, the sun grew so warm that she got drowsy and
dozed--how long she did not know--but she awoke with a start and with a
frightened sense that someone was near her, though she could hear no sound.
But she lay still--her heart beating high--and so sure that her instinct was
true that she was not even surprised when she heard a voice in the thicket
above--a low voice, but one she knew perfectly well:
"I tell you he's a-comin' up the river now. He's a-goin' to stay with ole Ham
Blake ter-night over the mountain an' he'll be a-comin' through Hurricane Gap
'bout daylight termorrer or next day, shore. He's got a lot o' men, but we can
layway 'em in the Gap an' git away all right." It was Tad Dillon
speaking--Daws Dillon, his brother, answered:
"I don't want to kill anybody but that damned Chad--Captain Chad BUFORD, he
"Well, we can git him all right. I heerd that they was a-lookin' fer us an'
was goin' to ketch us if they could."
"I wish I knowed that was so," said Daws with an oath. "Nary a one of 'em
would git away alive if I just knowed it was so. But we'll git CAPTAIN Chad
Buford, shore as hell! You go tell the boys to guard the Gap ter-night. They
mought come through afore day." And then the noise of their footsteps fainted
out of hearing and Melissa rose and sped back to the house.
From behind a clump of bushes above where she had sat, rose the gigantic
figure of Rebel Jerry Dillon. He looked after the flying girl with a grim
smile and then dropped his great bulk down on the bed of moss where he had
been listening to the plan of his enemies and kinsmen. Jerry had made many
expeditions over from Virginia lately and each time he had gone back with a
new notch on the murderous knife that he carried in his belt. He had but two
personal enemies alive now--Daws Dillon, who had tried to have him shot, and
his own brother, Yankee Jake. This was the second time he had been over for
Daws, and after his first trip he had persuaded Dan to ask permission from
General Morgan to take a company into Kentucky and destroy Daws and his band,
and Morgan had given him leave, for Federals and Confederates were chasing
down these guerillas now--sometimes even joining forces to further their
common purpose. Jerry had been slipping through the woods after Daws, meaning
to crawl close enough to kill him and, perhaps, Tad Dillon too, if necessary,
but after hearing their plan he had let them go, for a bigger chance might be
at hand. If Chad Buford was in the mountains looking for Daws, Yankee Jake was
with him. If he killed Daws now, Chad and his men would hear of his death and
would go back, most likely--and that was the thought that checked his finger
on the trigger of his pistol. Another thought now lifted him to his feet with
surprising quickness and sent him on a run down the river where his horse was
hitched in the bushes. He would go over the mountain for Dan. He could lead
Dan and his men to Hurricane Gap by daylight. Chad Buford could fight it out
with Daws and his gang, and he and Dan would fight it out with the men who
won--no matter whether Yankees or guerillas. And a grim smile stayed on Rebel
Jerry's face as he climbed.
On the porch of the Turner cabin sat Melissa with her hands clinched and old
Jack's head in her lap. There was no use worrying Mother Turner--she feared
even to tell her--but what should she do? She might boldly cross the mountain
now, for she was known to be a rebel, but the Dillons knowing, too, how close
Chad had once been to the Turners might suspect and stop her. No, if she went
at all, she must go after nightfall--but how would she get away from Mother
Turner, and how could she make her way, undetected through Hurricane Gap? The
cliffs were so steep and close together in one place that she could hardly
pass more than forty feet from the road on either side and she could not pass
that close to pickets and not be heard. Her brain ached with planning and she
was so absorbed as night came on that several times old Mother Turner
querulously asked what was ailing her and why she did not pay more heed to her
work, and the girl answered her patiently and went on with her planning.
Before dark, she knew what she would do, and after the old mother was asleep,
she rose softly and slipped out the door without awakening even old Jack, and
went to the barn, where she got the sheep-bell that old Beelzebub used to wear
and with the clapper caught in one hand, to keep the bell from tinkling, she
went swiftly down the road toward Hurricane Gap. Several times she had to dart
into the bushes while men on horseback rode by her, and once she came near
being caught by three men on foot--all hurrying at Daws Dillon's order to the
Gap through which she must go. When the road turned from the river, she went
slowly along the edge of it, so that if discovered, she could leap with one
spring into the bushes. It was raining--a cold drizzle that began to chill her
and set her to coughing so that she was half afraid that she might disclose
herself. At the mouth of the Gap she saw a fire on one side of the road and
could hear talking, but she had no difficulty passing it, on the other side.
But on, where the Gap narrowed--there was the trouble. It must have been an
hour before midnight when she tremblingly neared the narrow defile. The rain
had ceased, and as she crept around a boulder she could see, by the light of
the moon between two black clouds, two sentinels beyond. The crisis was at
hand now. She slipped to one side of the road, climbed the cliff as high as
she could and crept about it. She was past one picket now, and in her
eagerness one foot slipped and she half fell. She almost held her breath and
"I hear somethin' up thar in the bresh," shouted the second picket. "Halt!"
Melissa tinkled the sheep-bell and pushed a bush to and fro as though a sheep
or a cow might be rubbing itself, and the picket she had passed laughed aloud.
"Goin' to shoot ole Sally Perkins's cow, air you?" he said, jeeringly. "Yes, I
heerd her," he added, lying; for, being up all the night before, he had
drowsed at his post. A moment later, Melissa moved on, making considerable
noise and tinkling her bell constantly. She was near the top now and when she
peered out through the bushes, no one was in sight and she leaped into the
road and fled down the mountain. At the foot of the spur another ringing cry
smote the darkness in front of her:
"Halt! Who goes there?"
"Don't shoot!" she cried, weakly. "It's only me."
"Advance, 'Me,'" said the picket, astonished to hear a woman's voice. And then
into the light of his fire stepped a shepherdess with a sheep-bell in her
hand, with a beautiful, pale, distressed face, a wet, clinging dress, and
masses of yellow hair surging out of the shawl over her head. The ill startled
picket dropped the butt of his musket to the ground and stared.
"I want to see Chad, your captain," she said, timidly.
"All right," said the soldier, courteously. "He's just below there and I guess
he's up. We are getting ready to start now. Come along."
"Oh, no!" said Melissa, hurriedly. "I can't go down there." It had just struck
her that Chad must not see her; but the picket thought she naturally did not
wish to face a lot of soldiers in her bedraggled and torn dress, and he said
"All right. Give me your message and I'll take it to him." He smiled. "You can
wait here and stand guard."
Melissa told him hurriedly how she had come over the mountain and what was
going on over there, and the picket with a low whistle started down toward his
camp without another word.
Chad could not doubt the accuracy of the information--the picket had names and
"A girl, you say?"
"Yes, sir"--the soldier hesitated--"and a very pretty one, too. She came over
the mountain alone and on foot through this darkness. She passed the pickets
on the other side--pretending to be a sheep. She had a bell in her hand." Chad
smiled--he knew that trick.
"Where is she?"
"She's standing guard for me."
The picket turned at a gesture from Chad and led the way. They found no
Melissa. She had heard Chad's voice and fled up the mountain. Before daybreak
she was descending the mountain on the other side, along the same way,
tinkling her sheep-bell and creeping past the pickets. It was raining again
now and her cold had grown worse. Several times she had to muffle her face
into her shawl to keep her cough from betraying her. As she passed the ford
below the Turner cabin, she heard the splash of many horses crossing the river
and she ran on, frightened and wondering. Before day broke she had slipped
into her bed without arousing Mother Turner, and she did not get up that day,
but lay ill abed.
The splashing of those many horses was made by Captain Daniel Dean and his
men, guided by Rebel Jerry. High on the mountain side they hid their horses in
a ravine and crept toward the Gap on foot--so that while Daws with his gang
waited for Chad, the rebels lay in the brush waiting for him. Dan was merry
over the prospect:
"We will just let them fight it out," he said, "and then we'll dash in and
gobble 'em both up. That was a fine scheme of yours, Jerry."
Rebel Jerry smiled: there was one thing he had not told his captain--who those
rebels were. Purposely he had kept that fact hidden. He had seen Dan purposely
refrain from killing Chad Buford once and he feared that Dan might think his
brother Harry was among the Yankees. All this Rebel Jerry failed to
understand, and he wanted nothing known now that might stay anybody's hand.
Dawn broke and nothing happened. Not a shot rang out and only the smoke of the
guerillas' fire showed in the peaceful mouth of the Gap. Dan wanted to attack
the guerillas, but Jerry persuaded him to wait until he could learn how the
land lay, and disappeared in the bushes. At noon he came back.
"The Yankees have found out Daws is thar in the Gap," he said, "an' they are
goin' to slip over before day ter-morrer and s'prise him. Hit don't make no
difference to us, which s'prises which--does it?"
So the rebels kept hid through the day in the bushes on the mountain side, and
when Chad slipped through the Gap next morning, before day, and took up the
guerilla pickets, Dan had moved into the same Gap from the other side, and was
lying in the bushes with his men, near the guerillas' fire, waiting for the
Yankees to make their attack. He had not long to wait. At the first white
streak of dawn overhead, a shout rang through the woods from the Yankees to
the startled guerillas.
"Surrender!" A fusillade followed. Again:
"Surrender!" and there was a short silence, broken by low curses from the
guerillas, and a stern Yankee voice giving short, quick orders. The guerillas
had given up. Rebel Jerry moved restlessly at Dan's side and Dan cautioned
"Wait! Let them have time to disarm the prisoners," he whispered.
"Now," he added, a little while later--"creep quietly, boys."
Forward they went like snakes, creeping to the edge of the brush whence they
could see the sullen guerillas grouped on one side of the fire--their arms
stacked, while a tall figure in blue moved here and there, and gave orders in
a voice that all at once seemed strangely familiar to Dan.
"Now, boys," he said, half aloud, "give 'em a volley and charge."
At his word there was a rattling fusillade, and then the rebels leaped from
the bushes and dashed on the astonished Yankees and their prisoners. It was
pistol to pistol at first and then they closed to knife thrust and musket
butt, hand to hand--in a cloud of smoke. At the first fire from the rebels
Chad saw his prisoner, Daws Dillon, leap for the stacked arms and disappear. A
moment later, as he was emptying his pistol at his charging foes, he felt a
bullet clip a lock of hair from the back of his head and he turned to see Daws
on the farthest edge of the firelight levelling his pistol for another shot
before he ran. Like lightning he wheeled and when his finger pulled the
trigger, Daws sank limply, his grinning, malignant face sickening as he fell.
The tall fellow in blue snapped his pistol at Dan, and as Dan, whose pistol,
too, was empty, sprang forward and closed with him, he heard a triumphant yell
behind him and Rebel Jerry's huge figure flashed past him. With the same
glance he saw among the Yankees another giant--who looked like another
Jerry--saw his face grow ghastly with fear when Jerry's yell rose, and then
grow taut with ferocity as he tugged at his sheath to meet the murderous knife
flashing toward him. The terrible Dillon twins were come together at last, and
Dan shuddered, but he saw no more, for he was busy with the lithe Yankee in
whose arms he was closed. As they struggled, Dan tried to get his knife and
the Yankee tugged for his second pistol each clasping the other's wrist. Not a
sound did they make nor could either see the other's face, for Dan had his
chin in his opponent's breast and was striving to bend him backward. He had
clutched the Yankee's right hand, as it went back for his pistol, just as the
Yankee had caught his right in front, feeling for his knife. The advantage
would have been all Dan's except that the Yankee suddenly loosed his wrist and
gripped him tight about the body in an underhold, so that Dan could not whirl
him round; but he could twist that wrist and twist it he did, with both hands
and all his strength. Once the Yankee gave a smothered groan of pain and Dan
heard him grit his teeth to keep it back. The smoke had lifted now, and, when
they fell, it was in the light of the fire. The Yankee had thrown him with a
knee-trick that Harry used to try on him when they were boys, but something
about the Yankee snapped, as they fell, and he groaned aloud. Clutching him by
the throat, Dan threw him oft--he could get at his knife now.
"Surrender!" he said, hoarsely.
His answer was a convulsive struggle and then the Yankee lay still.
"Surrender!" said Dan again, lifting his knife above the Yankee's breast, "or,
damn you, I'll--"
The Yankee had turned his face weakly toward the fire, and Dan, with a cry of
horror, threw his knife away and sprang to his feet. Straightway the Yankee's
closed eyes opened and he smiled faintly.
"Why, Dan, is that you?" he asked. "I thought it would come," he added,
quietly, and then Harry Dean lapsed into unconsciousness.
Thus, at its best, this fratricidal war was being fought out that daybreak in
one little hollow of the Kentucky mountains and thus, at its worst, it was
being fought out in another little hollow scarcely twenty yards away, where
the giant twins--Rebel Jerry and Yankee Jake--who did know they were brothers,
sought each other's lives in mutual misconception and mutual hate.
There were a dozen dead Federals and guerillas around the fire, and among them
was Daws Dillon with the pallor of death on his face and the hate that life
had written there still clinging to it like a shadow. As Dan bent tenderly
over his brother Harry, two soldiers brought in a huge body from the bushes,
and he turned to see Rebel Jerry Dillon. There were a half a dozen rents in
his uniform and a fearful slash under his chin--but he was breathing still.
Chad Buford had escaped and so had Yankee Jake.
CHAPTER 27. AT THE HOSPITAL OF MORGAN'S MEN
In May, Grant simply said--Forward! The day he crossed the Rapidan, he said it
to Sherman down in Georgia. After the battle of the Wilderness he said it
again, and the last brutal resort of hammering down the northern buttress and
sea-wall of the rebellion--old Virginia--and Atlanta, the keystone of the
Confederate arch, was well under way. Throughout those bloody days Chad was
with Grant and Harry Dean was with Sherman on his terrible trisecting march to
the sea. For, after the fight between Rebels and Yankees and Daws Dillon's
guerilla band, over in Kentucky, Dan, coming back from another raid into the
Bluegrass, had found his brother gone. Harry had refused to accept a parole
and had escaped. Not a man, Dan was told, fired a shot at him, as he ran. One
soldier raised his musket, but Renfrew the Silent struck the muzzle upward.
In September, Atlanta fell and, in that same month, Dan saw his great leader,
John Morgan, dead in Tennessee. In December, the Confederacy toppled at the
west under Thomas's blows at Nashville. In the spring of '65, one hundred and
thirty-five thousand wretched, broken-down rebels, from Richmond to the Rio
Grande, confronted Grant's million men, and in April, Five Forks was the
beginning of the final end everywhere.
At midnight, Captain Daniel Dean, bearer of dispatches to the great
Confederate General in Virginia, rode out of abandoned Richmond with the
cavalry of young Fitzhugh Lee. They had threaded their way amid troops,
trains, and artillery across the bridge. The city was on fire. By its light,
the stream of humanity was pouring out of town--Davis and his cabinet,
citizens, soldiers, down to the mechanics in the armories and workshops. The
chief concern with all was the same, a little to eat for a few days; for, with
the morning, the enemy would come and Confederate money would be as mist. Afar
off the little fleet of Confederate gunboats blazed and the thundering
explosions of their magazines split the clear air. Freight depots with
supplies were burning. Plunderers were spreading the fires and slipping like
ghouls through red light and black shadows. At daybreak the last retreating
gun rumbled past and, at sunrise, Dan looked back from the hills on the
smoking and deserted city and Grant's blue lines sweeping into it.
Once only he saw his great chief--the next morning before day, when he rode
through the chill mist and darkness to find the head-quarters of the
commanding General--two little fires of rubbish and two ambulances--with Lee
lying on a blanket under the open sky. He rose, as Dan drew near, and the
firelight fell full on his bronzed and mournful face. He looked so sad and so
noble that the boy's heart was wrenched, and as Dan turned away, he said,
"General, I am General Dean's son, and I want to thank you--" He could get no
farther. Lee laid one hand on his shoulder.
"Be as good a man as your father was, my boy," he said, and Dan rode back the
pitiable way through the rear of that noble army of Virginia--through ranks of
tattered, worn, hungry soldiers, among the broken debris of wagons and
abandoned guns, past skeleton horses and skeleton men.
All hope was gone, but Fitz Lee led his cavalry through the Yankee lines and
escaped. In that flight Daniel Dean got his only wound in the war--a bullet
through the shoulder. When the surrender came, Fitz Lee gave up, too, and led
back his command to get Grant's generous terms. But all his men did not go
with him, and among the cavalrymen who went on toward southwestern Virginia
was Dan--making his way back to Richard Hunt--for now that gallant Morgan was
dead, Hunt was general of the old command.
Behind, at Appomattox, Chad was with Grant. He saw the surrender--saw Lee look
toward his army, when he came down the steps after he had given up, saw him
strike his hands together three times and ride Traveller away through the
profound and silent respect of his enemies and the tearful worship of his own
men. And Chad got permission straightway to go back to Ohio, and he mustered
out with his old regiment, and he, too, started back through Virginia.
Meanwhile, Dan was drawing near the mountains. He was worn out when he reached
Abingdon. The wound in his shoulder was festering and he was in a high fever.
At the camp of Morgan's Men he found only a hospital left--for General Hunt
had gone southward--and a hospital was what he most needed now. As he lay,
unconscious with fever, next day, a giant figure, lying near, turned his head
and stared at the boy. It was Rebel Jerry Dillon, helpless from a sabre cut
and frightfully scarred by the fearful wounds his brother, Yankee Jake, had
given him. And thus, Chadwick Buford, making for the Ohio, saw the two strange
messmates, a few days later, when he rode into the deserted rebel camp.
All was over. Red Mars had passed beyond the horizon and the white Star of
Peace already shone faintly on the ravaged South. The shattered remnants of
Morgan's cavalry, pall-bearers of the Lost Cause--had gone South--bare-footed
and in rags--to guard Jefferson Davis to safety, and Chad's heart was wrung
when he stepped into the little hospital they had left behind--a space cleared
into a thicket of rhododendron. There was not a tent--there was little
medicine--little food. The drizzling rain dropped on the group of ragged sick
men from the branches above them. Nearly all were youthful, and the youngest
was a mere boy, who lay delirious with his head on the root of a tree. As Chad
stood looking, the boy opened his eyes and his mouth twitched with pain.
"Hello, you damned Yankee." Again his mouth twitched and again the old
dare-devil light that Chad knew so well kindled in his hazy eyes.
"I said," he repeated, distinctly, "Hello, you damned Yank. DAMNED Yank I
said." Chad beckoned to two men.
"Go bring a stretcher."
The men shook their heads with a grim smile--they had no stretcher.
The boy talked dreamily.
"Say, Yank, didn't we give you hell in--oh, well, in lots o' places. But
you've got me." The two soldiers were lifting him in their arms. "Goin' to
take me to prison? Goin' to take me out to shoot me, Yank? You ARE a damned
Yank." A hoarse growl rose behind them and the giant lifted himself on one
elbow, swaying his head from side to side.
"Let that boy alone!" Dan nodded back at him confidently.
"That's all right, Jerry. This Yank's a friend of mine." His brow wrinkled.
"At any rate he looks like somebody I know. He's goin' to give me something to
eat and get me well--like hell," he added to himself--passing off into
unconsciousness again. Chad had the lad carried to his own tent, had him
stripped, bathed, and bandaged and stood looking down at him. It was hard to
believe that the broken, aged youth was the red-cheeked, vigorous lad whom he
had known as Daniel Dean. He was ragged, starved, all but bare-footed,
wounded, sick, and yet he was as undaunted, as defiant, as when he charged
with Morgan's dare-devils at the beginning of the war. Then Chad went back to
the hospital--for a blanket and some medicine.
"They are friends," he said to the Confederate surgeon, pointing at a huge
"I reckon that big fellow has saved that boy's life a dozen times. Yes,
And Chad stood looking down at Jerry Dillon, one of the giant twins--whose
name was a terror throughout the mountains of the middle south. Then he turned
and the surgeon followed.
There was a rustle of branches on one side when they were gone, and at the
sound the wounded man lifted his head. The branches parted and the oxlike face
of Yankee Jake peered through. For a full minute, the two brothers stared at
"I reckon you got me, Jake," said Jerry.
"I been lookin' fer ye a long while," said Jake, simply, and he smiled
strangely as he moved slowly forward and looked down at his enemy--his heavy
head wagging from side to side. Jerry was fumbling at his belt. The big knife
flashed, but Jake's hand was as quick as its gleam, and he had the wrist that
held it. His great fingers crushed together, the blade dropped on the ground,
and again the big twins looked at each other. Slowly, Yankee Jake picked up
the knife. The other moved not a muscle and in his fierce eyes was no plea for
mercy. The point of the blade moved slowly down--down over the rebel's heart,
and was thrust into its sheath again. Then Jake let go the wrist.
"Don't tech it agin," he said, and he strode away. The big fellow lay
blinking. He did not open his lips when, in a moment, Yankee Jake slouched in
with a canteen of water. When Chad came back, one giant was drawing on the
other a pair of socks. The other was still silent and had his face turned the
other way. Looking up, Jake met Chad's surprised gaze with a grin.
A day later, Dan came to his senses. A tent was above him, a heavy blanket was
beneath him and there were clothes on his body that felt strangely fresh and
clean. He looked up to see Chad's face between the flaps of the tent.
"D'you do this?"
"That's all right," said Chad. "This war is over." And he went away to let Dan
think it out. When he came again, Dan held out his hand silently.
CHAPTER 28. PALL-BEARERS OF THE LOST CAUSE
The rain was falling with a steady roar when General Hunt broke camp a few
days before. The mountain-tops were black with thunderclouds, and along the
muddy road went Morgan's Men--most of them on mules which had been taken from
abandoned wagons when news of the surrender came--without saddles and with
blind bridles or rope halters--the rest slopping along through the yellow mud
on foot--literally--for few of them had shoes; they were on their way to
protect Davis and join Johnston, now that Lee was no more. There was no
murmuring, no faltering, and it touched Richard Hunt to observe that they were
now more prompt to obedience, when it was optional with them whether they
should go or stay, than they had ever been in the proudest days of the
Threatened from Tennessee and cut off from Richmond, Hunt had made up his mind
to march eastward to join Lee, when the news of the surrender came. Had the
sun at that moment dropped suddenly to the horizon from the heaven above them,
those Confederates would have been hardly more startled or plunged into deeper
despair. Crowds of infantry threw down their arms and, with the rest, all
sense of discipline was lost. Of the cavalry, however, not more than ten men
declined to march south, and out they moved through the drenching rain in a
silence that was broken only with a single cheer when ninety men from another
Kentucky brigade joined them, who, too, felt that as long as the Confederate
Government survived, there was work for them to do. So on they went to keep up
the struggle, if the word was given, skirmishing, fighting and slipping past
the enemies that were hemming them in, on with Davis, his cabinet, and General
Breckinridge to join Taylor and Forrest in Alabama. Across the border of South
Carolina, an irate old lady upbraided Hunt for allowing his soldiers to take
forage from her barn.
"You are a gang of thieving Kentuckians," she said, hotly; "you are afraid to
go home, while our boys are surrendering decently."
"Madam!"--Renfrew the Silent spoke--spoke from the depths of his once
brilliant jacket--"you South Carolinians had a good deal to say about getting
up this war, but we Kentuckians have contracted to close it out."
Then came the last Confederate council of war. In turn, each officer spoke of
his men and of himself and each to the same effect; the cause was lost and
there was no use in prolonging the war.
"We will give our lives to secure your safety, but we cannot urge our men to
struggle against a fate that is inevitable, and perhaps thus forfeit all hope
of a restoration to their homes and friends."
Davis was affable, dignified, calm, undaunted.
"I will hear of no plan that is concerned only with my safety. A few brave men
can prolong the war until this panic has passed, and they will be a nucleus
for thousands more."
The answer was silence, as the gaunt, beaten man looked from face to face. He
rose with an effort.
"I see all hope is gone," he said, bitterly, and though his calm remained, his
bearing was less erect, his face was deathly pale and his step so infirm that
he leaned upon General Breckinridge as he neared the door--in the bitterest
moment, perhaps, of his life.
So, the old Morgan's Men, so long separated, were united at the end. In a
broken voice General Hunt forbade the men who had followed him on foot three
hundred miles from Virginia to go farther, but to disperse to their homes; and
they wept like children.
In front of him was a big force of Federal cavalry; retreat the way he had
come was impossible, and to the left, if he escaped, was the sea; but
dauntless Hunt refused to surrender except at the order of a superior, or
unless told that all was done that could be done to assure the escape of his
President. That order came from Breckinridge.
"Surrender," was the message. "Go back to your homes, I will not have one of
these young men encounter one more hazard for my sake."
That night Richard Hunt fought out his fight with himself, pacing to and fro
under the stars. He had struggled faithfully for what he believed, still
believed, and would, perhaps, always believe, was right. He had fought for the
broadest ideal of liberty as he understood it, for citizen, State and nation.
The appeal had gone to the sword and the verdict was against him. He would
accept it. He would go home, take the oath of allegiance, resume the law, and,
as an American citizen, do his duty. He had no sense of humiliation, he had no
apology to make and would never have--he had done his duty. He felt no
bitterness, and had no fault to find with his foes, who were brave and had
done their duty as they had seen it; for he granted them the right to see a
different duty from what he had decided was his. And that was all.
Renfrew the Silent was waiting at the smouldering fire. He neither looked up
nor made any comment when General Hunt spoke his determination. His own face
grew more sullen and he reached his hand into his breast and pulled from his
faded jacket the tattered colors that he once had borne.
"These will never be lowered as long as I live," he said, "nor afterwards if I
can prevent it." And lowered they never were. On a little island in the
Pacific Ocean, this strange soldier, after leaving his property and his
kindred forever, lived out his life among the natives with this bloodstained
remnant of the Stars and Bars over his hut, and when he died, the flag was
hung over his grave, and above that grave to-day the tattered emblem still
sways in southern air.
. . . . . .
A week earlier, two Rebels and two Yankees started across the mountain
together--Chad and Dan and the giant Dillon twins--Chad and Yankee Jake afoot.
Up Lonesome they went toward the shaggy flank of Black Mountain where the
Great Reaper had mowed down Chad's first friends. The logs of the cabin were
still standing, though the roof was caved in and the yard was a tangle of
undergrowth. A dull pain settled in Chad's breast, while he looked, and as
they were climbing the spur, he choked when he caught sight of the graves
under the big poplar.
There was the little pen that he had built over his foster-mother's
grave--still undisturbed. He said nothing and, as they went down the spur,
across the river and up Pine Mountain, he kept his gnawing memories to
himself. Only ten years before, and he seemed an old, old man now. He
recognized the very spot where he had slept the first night after he ran away
and awakened to that fearful never-forgotten storm at sunrise, which lived in
his memory now as a mighty portent of the storms of human passion that had
swept around him on many a battlefield. There was the very tree where he had
killed the squirrel and the rattlesnake. It was bursting spring now, but the
buds of laurel and rhododendron were unbroken. Down Kingdom Come they went.
Here was where he had met the old cow, and here was the little hill where Jack
had fought Whizzer and he had fought Tad Dillon and where he had first seen
Melissa. Again the scarlet of her tattered gown flashed before his eyes. At
the bend of the river they parted from the giant twins. Faithful Jake's face
was foolish when Chad took him by the hand and spoke to him, as man to man,
and Rebel Jerry turned his face quickly when Dan told him that he would never
forget him, and made him promise to come to see him, if Jerry ever took
another raft down to the capital. Looking back from the hill, Chad saw them
slowly moving along a path toward the woods--not looking at each other and
speaking not at all.
Beyond rose the smoke of the old Turner cabin. On the porch sat the old Turner
mother, her bonnet in her hand, her eyes looking down the river. Dozing at her
feet was Jack--old Jack. She had never forgiven Chad, and she could not
forgive him now, though Chad saw her eyes soften when she looked at the
tattered butternut that Dan wore. But Jack--half-blind and aged--sprang
trembling to his feet when he heard Chad's voice and whimpered like a child.
Chad sank on the porch with one arm about the old dog's neck. Mother Turner
answered all questions shortly.
Melissa had gone to the "Settlemints." Why? The old woman would not answer.
She was coming back, but she was ill. She had never been well since she went
afoot, one cold night, to warn some YANKEE that Daws Dillon was after him.
Chad started. It was Melissa who had perhaps saved his life. Tad Dillon had
stepped into Daws's shoes, and the war was still going on in the hills. Tom
Turner had died in prison. The old mother was waiting for Dolph and Rube to
come back--she was looking for them every hour, day and night She did not know
what had become of the school-master--but Chad did, and he told her. The
school-master had died, storming breastworks at Gettysburg. The old woman said
not a word.
Dan was too weak to ride now. So Chad got Dave Hilton, Melissa's old
sweetheart, to take Dixie to Richmond--a little Kentucky town on the edge of
the Bluegrass--and leave her there and he bought the old Turner canoe. She
would have no use for it, Mother Turner said--he could have it for nothing;
but when Chad thrust a ten dollar Federal bill into her hands, she broke down
and threw her arms around him and cried.
So down the river went Chad and Dan--drifting with the tide--Chad in the
stern, Dan lying at full length, with his head on a blue army-coat and looking
up at the over-swung branches and the sky and the clouds above them--down,
through a mist of memories for Chad--down to the capital.
And Harry Dean, too, was on his way home--coming up from the far South--up
through the ravaged land of his own people, past homes and fields which his
own hands had helped to lay waste.
CHAPTER 29. MELISSA AND MARGARET
The early spring sunshine lay like a benediction over the Dean household, for
Margaret and her mother were home from exile. On the corner of the veranda sat
Mrs. Dean, where she always sat, knitting. Under the big weeping willow in the
garden was her husband's grave. When she was not seated near it, she was there
in the porch, and to it her eyes seemed always to stray when she lifted them
from her work.
The mail had just come and Margaret was reading a letter from Dan, and, as she
read, her cheeks flushed.
"He took me into his own tent, mother, and put his own clothes on me and
nursed me like a brother. And now he is going to take me to you and Margaret,
he says, and I shall be strong enough, I hope, to start in a week. I shall be
his friend for life."
Neither mother nor daughter spoke when the girl ceased reading. Only Margaret
rose soon and walked down the gravelled walk to the stile.
Beneath the hill, the creek sparkled. She could see the very pool where her
brothers and the queer little stranger from the mountains were fishing the day
he came into her life. She remembered the indignant heart-beat with which she
had heard him call her "little gal," and she smiled now, but she could recall
the very tone of his voice and the steady look in his clear eyes when he
offered her the perch he had caught. Even then his spirit appealed
unconsciously to her, when he sturdily refused to go up to the house because
her brother was "feelin' hard towards him." How strange and far away all that
seemed now! Up the creek and around the woods she strolled, deep in memories.
For a long while she sat on a stone wall in the sunshine--thinking and
dreaming, and it was growing late when she started back to the house. At the
stile, she turned for a moment to look at the old Buford home across the
fields. As she looked, she saw the pike-gate open and a woman's figure enter,
and she kept her eyes idly upon it as she walked on toward the house. The
woman came slowly and hesitatingly toward the yard. When she drew nearer,
Margaret could see that she wore homespun, home-made shoes, and a poke-bonnet.
On her hands were yarn half-mits, and, as she walked, she pushed her bonnet
from her eyes with one hand, first to one side, then to the other--looking at
the locusts planted along the avenue, the cedars in the yard, the sweep of
lawn overspread with springing bluegrass. At the yard gate she stopped,
leaning over it--her eyes fixed on the stately white house, with its mighty
pillars. Margaret was standing on the steps now, motionless and waiting, and,
knowing that she was seen, the woman opened the gate and walked up the
gravelled path--never taking her eyes from the figure on the porch. Straight
she walked to the foot of the steps, and there she stopped, and, pushing her
bonnet back, she said, simply:
"Are you Mar-ga-ret?" pronouncing the name slowly and with great distinctness.
"Yes," she said.
The girl merely looked at her--long and hard. Once her lips moved:
"Mar-ga-ret," and still she looked. "Do you know whar Chad is?"
"Who are you?"
Melissa! The two girls looked deep into each other's eyes and, for one
flashing moment, each saw the other's heart--bared and beating--and Margaret
saw, too, a strange light ebb slowly from the other's face and a strange
shadow follow slowly after.
"You mean Major Buford?"
"I mean Chad. Is he dead?"
"No, he is bringing my brother home."
"As soon as my brother gets well enough to travel. He is wounded."
Melissa turned her face then. Her mouth twitched and her clasped hands were
working in and out. Then she turned again.
"I come up here from the mountains, afoot jus' to tell ye--to tell YOU that
Chad ain't no"-- she stopped suddenly, seeing Margaret's quick flush--"CHAD'S
MOTHER WAS MARRIED. I jus' found it out last week. He ain't no--"--she started
fiercely again and stopped again. "But I come here fer HIM--not fer YOU. YOU
oughtn't to 'a' keered. Hit wouldn't 'a' been his fault. He never was the same
after he come back from here. Hit worried him most to death, an' I know hit
was you--YOU he was always thinkin' about. He didn't keer 'cept fer you."
Again that shadow came and deepened. "An' you oughtn't to 'a' keered what he
was--and that's why I hate you," she said, calmly--"fer worryin' him an' bein'
so high-heeled that you was willin' to let him mighty nigh bust his heart
about somethin' that wasn't his fault. I come fer him--you understand--fer
HIM. I hate YOU!"
She turned without another word, walked slowly back down the walk and through
the gate. Margaret stood dazed, helpless, almost frightened. She heard the
girl cough and saw now that she walked as if weak and ill. As she turned into
the road, Margaret ran down the steps and across the fields to the turnpike.
When she reached the road-fence the girl was coming around the bend her eyes
on the ground, and every now and then she would cough and put her hand to her
breast. She looked up quickly, hearing the noise ahead of her, and stopped as
Margaret climbed the low stone wall and sprang down.
"Melissa, Melissa! You mustn't hate me. You mustn't hate ME." Margaret's eyes
were streaming and her voice trembled with kindness. She walked up to the girl
and put one hand on her shoulder. "You are sick. I know you are, and you must
come back to the house."
Melissa gave way then, and breaking from the girl's clasp she leaned against
the stone wall and sobbed, while Margaret put her arms about her and waited
"Come now," she said, "let me help you over. There now. You must come back and
get something to eat and lie down." And Margaret led Melissa back across the
CHAPTER 30. PEACE
It was strange to Chad that he should be drifting toward a new life down the
river which once before had carried him to a new world. The future then was no
darker than now, but he could hardly connect himself with the little fellow in
coon-skin cap and moccasins who had floated down on a raft so many years ago,
when at every turn of the river his eager eyes looked for a new and thrilling
They talked of the long fight, the two lads, for, in spite of the war-worn
look of them, both were still nothing but boys--and they talked with no
bitterness of camp life, night attacks, surprises, escapes, imprisonment,
incidents of march and battle. Both spoke little of their boyhood days or the
future. The pall of defeat overhung Dan. To him the world seemed to be nearing
an end, while to Chad the outlook was what he had known all his life--nothing
to begin with and everything to be done. Once only Dan voiced his own trouble:
"What are you going to do, Chad--now that this infernal war is over? Going
into the regular army?"
"No," said Chad, decisively. About his own future Dan volunteered nothing--he
only turned his head quickly to the passing woods, as though in fear that Chad
might ask some similar question, but Chad was silent. And thus they glided
between high cliffs and down into the lowlands until at last, through a little
gorge between two swelling river hills, Dan's eye caught sight of an orchard,
a leafy woodland, and a pasture of bluegrass. With a cry he raised himself on
"Home! I tell you, Chad, we're getting home!" He closed his eyes and drew the
sweet air in as though he were drinking it down like wine. His eyes were
sparkling when he opened them again and there was a new color in his face. On
they drifted until, toward noon, the black column of smoke that meant the
capital loomed against the horizon. There Mrs. Dean was waiting for them, and
Chad turned his face aside when the mother took her son in her arms. With a
sad smile she held out her hand to Chad.
"You must come home with us," Mrs. Dean said, with quiet decision.
"Where is Margaret, mother?" Chad almost trembled when he heard the name.
"Margaret couldn't come. She is not very well and she is taking care of
The very station had tragic memories to Chad. There was the long hill which he
had twice climbed--once on a lame foot and once on flying Dixie--past the
armory and the graveyard. He had seen enough dead since he peered through
those iron gates to fill a dozen graveyards the like in size. Going up in the
train, he could see the barn where he had slept in the hayloft the first time
he came to the Bluegrass, and the creek-bridge where Major Buford had taken
him into his carriage. Major Buford was dead. He had almost died in prison,
Mrs. Dean said, and Chad choked and could say nothing. Once, Dan began a
series of eager questions about the house and farm, and the servants and the
neighbors, but his mother's answers were hesitant and he stopped short. She,
too, asked but few questions, and the three were quiet while the train rolled
on with little more speed than Chad and Dixie had made on that long ago
night-ride to save Dan and Rebel Jerry. About that ride Chad had kept Harry's
lips and his own closed, for he wished no such appeal as that to go to
Margaret Dean. Margaret was not at the station in Lexington. She was not well
Rufus said; so Chad would not go with them that night, but would come out next
"I owe my son's life to you, Captain Buford," said Mrs. Dean, with trembling
lip, "and you must make our house your home while you are here. I bring that
message to you from Harry and Margaret. I know and they know now all you have
done for us and all you have tried to do."
Chad could hardly speak his thanks. He would be in the Bluegrass only a few
days, he stammered, but he would go out to see them next day. That night he
went to the old inn where the Major had taken him to dinner. Next day he hired
a horse from the livery stable where he had bought the old brood mare, and
early in the afternoon he rode out the broad turnpike in a nervous tumult of
feeling that more than once made him halt in the road. He wore his uniform,
which was new, and made him uncomfortable--it looked too much like waving a
victorious flag in the face of a beaten enemy--but it was the only stitch of
clothes he had, and that he might not explain.
It was the first of May. Just eight years before, Chad with a burning heart
had watched Richard Hunt gayly dancing with Margaret, while the dead
chieftain, Morgan, gayly fiddled for the merry crowd. Now the sun shone as it
did then, the birds sang, the wind shook the happy leaves and trembled through
the budding heads of bluegrass to show that nature had known no war and that
her mood was never other than of hope and peace. But there were no fat cattle
browsing in the Dean pastures now, no flocks of Southdown sheep with frisking
lambs The worm fences had lost their riders and were broken down here and
there. The gate sagged on its hinges; the fences around yard and garden and
orchard had known no whitewash for years; the paint on the noble old house was
cracked and peeling, the roof of the barn was sunken in, and the cabins of the
quarters were closed, for the hand of war, though unclinched, still lay heavy
on the home of the Deans. Snowball came to take his horse. He was respectful,
but his white teeth did not flash the welcome Chad once had known. Another
horse stood at the hitching-post and on it was a cavalry saddle and a rebel
army blanket, and Chad did not have to guess whose it might be. From the
porch, Dan shouted and came down to meet him, and Harry hurried to the door,
followed by Mrs. Dean. Margaret was not to be seen, and Chad was glad--he
would have a little more time for self-control. She did not appear even when
they were seated in the porch until Dan shouted for her toward the garden; and
then looking toward the gate Chad saw her coming up the garden walk bare-
headed, dressed in white, with flowers in her hand; and walking by her side,
looking into her face and talking earnestly, was Richard Hunt. The sight of
him nerved Chad at once to steel. Margaret did not lift her face until she was
half-way to the porch, and then she stopped suddenly.
"Why, there's Major Buford," Chad heard her say, and she came on ahead,
walking rapidly. Chad felt the blood in his face again, and as he watched
Margaret nearing him--pale, sweet, frank, gracious, unconscious--it seemed
that he was living over again another scene in his life when he had come from
the mountains to live with old Major Buford; and, with a sudden prayer that
his past might now be wiped as clean as it was then, he turned from Margaret's
hand-clasp to look into the brave, searching eyes of Richard Hunt and feel his
sinewy fingers in a grip that in all frankness told Chad plainly that between
them, at least, one war was not quite over yet.
"I am glad to meet you, Major Buford, in these piping times of peace."
"And I am glad to meet you, General Hunt--only in times of peace," Chad said,
The two measured each other swiftly, calmly. Chad had a mighty admiration for
Richard Hunt. Here was a man who knew no fight but to the finish, who would
die as gamely in a drawing-room as on a battle-field. To think of him--a
brigadier-general at twenty-seven, as undaunted, as unbeaten as when he heard
the first bullet of the war whistle, and, at that moment, as good an American
as Chadwick Buford or any Unionist who had given his life for his cause! Such
a foe thrilled Chad, and somehow he felt that Margaret was measuring them as
they were measuring each other. Against such a man what chance had he?
He would have been comforted could he have known Richard Hunt's thoughts, for
that gentleman had gone back to the picture of a ragged mountain boy in old
Major Buford's carriage, one court day long ago, and now he was looking that
same lad over from the visor of his cap down his superb length to the heels of
his riding-boots. His eyes rested long on Chad's face. The change was
incredible, but blood had told. The face was highly bred, clean, frank, nobly
handsome; it had strength and dignity, and the scar on his cheek told a story
that was as well known to foe as to friend.
"I have been wanting to thank you, not only for trying to keep us out of that
infernal prison after the Ohio raid, but for trying to get us out. Harry here
told me. That was generous."
"That was nothing," said Chad. "You forget, you could have killed me once
and--and you didn't." Margaret was listening eagerly.
"You didn't give me time," laughed General Hunt.
"Oh, yes, I did. I saw you lift your pistol and drop it again. I have never
ceased to wonder why you did that."
Richard Hunt laughed. "Perhaps I'm sorry sometimes that I did," he said, with
a certain dryness.
"Oh, no, you aren't, General," said Margaret.
Thus they chatted and laughed and joked together above the sombre tide of
feeling that showed in the face of each if it reached not his tongue, for,
when the war was over, the hatchet in Kentucky was buried at once and buried
deep. Son came back to father, brother to brother, neighbor to neighbor;
political disabilities were removed and the sundered threads, unravelled by
the war, were knitted together fast. That is why the postbellum terrors of
reconstruction were practically unknown in the State. The negroes scattered,
to be sure, not from disloyalty so much as from a feverish desire to learn
whether they really could come and go as they pleased. When they learned that
they were really free, most of them drifted back to the quarters where they
were born, and meanwhile the white man's hand that had wielded the sword went
just as bravely to the plough, and the work of rebuilding war-shattered ruins
began at once. Old Mammy appeared, by and by, shook hands with General Hunt
and made Chad a curtsey of rather distant dignity. She had gone into exile
with her "chile" and her "ole Mistis" and had come home with them to stay,
untempted by the doubtful sweets of freedom. "Old Tom, her husband, had
remained with Major Buford, was with him on his deathbed," said Margaret, "and
was on the place still, too old, he said, to take root elsewhere."
Toward the middle of the afternoon Dan rose and suggested that they take a
walk about the place. Margaret had gone in for a moment to attend to some
household duty, and as Richard Hunt was going away next day he would stay, he
said, with Mrs. Dean, who was tired and could not join them. The three walked
toward the dismantled barn where the tournament had taken place and out into
the woods. Looking back, Chad saw Margaret and General Hunt going slowly
toward the garden, and he knew that some crisis was at hand between the two.
He had hard work listening to Dan and Harry as they planned for the future,
and recalled to each other and to him the incidents of their boyhood. Harry
meant to study law, he said, and practise in Lexington; Dan would stay at home
and run the farm. Neither brother mentioned that the old place was heavily
mortgaged, but Chad guessed the fact and it made him heartsick to think of the
struggle that was before them and of the privations yet in store for Mrs. Dean
"Why don't you, Chad?"
"Stay here and study law," Harry smiled. "We'll go into partnership."
Chad shook his head. "No," he said, decisively. "I've already made up my mind.
I'm going West."
"I'm sorry," said Harry, and no more; he had learned long ago how useless it
was to combat any purpose of Chadwick Buford.
General Hunt and Margaret were still away when they got back to the house. In
fact, the sun was sinking when they came in from the woods, still walking
slowly, General Hunt talking earnestly and Margaret with her hands clasped
before her and her eyes on the path. The faces of both looked pale, even that
far away, but when they neared the porch, the General was joking and Margaret
was smiling, nor was anything perceptible to Chad when he said good-by, except
a certain tenderness in his tone and manner toward Margaret, and one fleeting
look of distress in her clear eyes. He was on his horse now, and was lifting
"Good-by, Major," he said. "I'm glad you got through the war alive. Perhaps
I'll tell you some day why I didn't shoot you that morning." And then he rode
away, a gallant, knightly figure, across the pasture. At the gate he waved his
cap and at a gallop was gone.
After supper, a heaven-born chance led Mrs. Dean to stroll out into the lovely
night. Margaret rose to go too, and Chad followed. The same chance, perhaps,
led old Mammy to come out on the porch and call Mrs. Dean back. Chad and
Margaret walked on toward the stiles where still hung Margaret's
weather-beaten Stars and Bars. The girl smiled and touched the flag.
"That was very nice of you to salute me that morning. I never felt so bitter
against Yankees after that day. I'll take it down now," and she detached it
and rolled it tenderly about the slender staff.
"That was not my doing," said Chad, "though if I had been Grant, and there
with the whole Union army, I would have had it salute you. I was under orders,
but I went back for help. May I carry it for you?"
"Yes," said Margaret, handing it to him. Chad had started toward the garden,
but Margaret turned him toward the stile and they walked now down through the
pasture toward the creek that ran like a wind-shaken ribbon of silver under
"Won't you tell me something about Major Buford? I've been wanting to ask, but
I simply hadn't the heart. Can't we go over there tonight? I want to see the
old place, and I must leave to-morrow."
"To-morrow!" said Margaret. "Why--I--I was going to take you over there
to-morrow, for I--but, of course, you must go to-night if it is to be your
And so, as they walked along, Margaret told Chad of the old Major's last days,
after he was released from prison, and came home to die. She went to see him
every day, and she was at his bedside when he breathed his last. He had
mortgaged his farm to help the Confederate cause and to pay indemnity for a
guerilla raid, and Jerome Conners held his notes for large amounts.
"The lawyer told me that he believed some of the notes were forged, but he
couldn't prove it. He says it is doubtful if more than the house and a few
acres will be left." A light broke in on Chad's brain.
"He told you?"
Margaret blushed. "He left all he had to me," she said, simply.
"I'm so glad," said Chad.
"Except a horse which belongs to you. The old mare is dead."
"Dear old Major!"
At the stone fence Margaret reached for the flag.
"We'll leave it here until we come back," she said, dropping it in a shadow.
Somehow the talk of Major Buford seemed to bring them nearer together--so near
that once Chad started to call her by her first name and stopped when it had
half passed his lips. Margaret smiled.
"The war is over," she said, and Chad spoke eagerly:
"And you'll call me?"
The very leaves over Chad's head danced suddenly, and yet the girl was so
simple and frank and kind that the springing hope in his breast was as quickly
"Did he ever speak of me except about business matters?"
"Never at all at first," said Margaret, blushing again incomprehensively, "but
he forgave you before he died."
"Thank God for that!"
"And you will see what he did for you--the last thing of his life."
They were crossing the field now.
"I have seen Melissa," said Margaret, suddenly. Chad was so startled that he
stopped in the path.
"She came all the way from the mountains to ask if you were dead, and to tell
me about--about your mother. She had just learned it, she said, and she did
not know that you knew. And I never let her know that I knew, since I supposed
you had some reason for not wanting her to know."
"I did," said Chad, sadly, but he did not tell his reason. Melissa would never
have learned the one thing from him as Margaret would not learn the other now.
"She came on foot to ask about you and to defend you against--against me. And
she went back afoot. She disappeared one morning before we got up. She seemed
very ill, too, and unhappy. She was coughing all the time, and I wakened one
night and heard her sobbing, but she was so sullen and fierce that I was
almost afraid of her. Next morning she was gone. I would have taken her part
of the way home myself. Poor thing!" Chad was walking with his head bent.
"I'm going down to see her before I go West."
"You are going West--to live?"
They had reached the yard gate now which creaked on rusty hinges when Chad
pulled it open. The yard was running wild with plantains, the gravelled walk
was overgrown, the house was closed, shuttered, and dark, and the spirit of
desolation overhung the place, but the ruin looked gentle in the moonlight.
Chad's throat hurt and his eyes filled.
"I want to show you now the last thing he did," said Margaret. Her eyes
lighted with tenderness and she led him wondering down through the tangled
garden to the old family graveyard.
"Climb over and look, Chad," she said, leaning over the wall.
There was the grave of the Major's father which he knew so well; next that, to
the left, was a new mound under which rested the Major himself. To the right
was a stone marked "Chadwick Buford, born in Virginia, 1750, died in
Kentucky"--and then another stone marked simply:
"He had both brought from the mountains," said Margaret, softly, "and the last
time he was out of the house was when he leaned here to watch them buried
there. He said there would always be a place next your mother for you. 'Tell
the boy that,' he said." Chad put his arms around the tombstone and then sank
on one knee by his mother's grave. It was strewn with withered violets.
"You--YOU did that, Margaret?"
Margaret nodded through her tears.
. . . . . . .
The wonder of it! They stood very still, looking for a long time into each
other's eyes. Could the veil of the hereafter have been lifted for them at
that moment and they have seen themselves walking that same garden path, hand
in hand, their faces seamed with age to other eyes, but changed in not a line
to them, the vision would not have added a jot to their perfect faith. They
would have nodded to each other and smiled--"Yes, we know, we know!" The
night, the rushing earth, the star-swept spaces of the infinite held no
greater wonder than was theirs--they held no wonder at all. The moon shone,
that night, for them; the wind whispered, leaves danced, flowers nodded, and
crickets chirped from the grass for them; the farthest star kept eternal lids
apart just for them and beyond, the Maker himself looked down, that night,
just to bless them.
Back they went through the old garden, hand in hand. No caress had ever passed
between these two. That any man could ever dare even to dream of touching her
sacred lips had been beyond the boy's imaginings--such was the reverence in
his love for her--and his very soul shook when, at the gate, Margaret's eyes
dropped from his to the sabre cut on his cheek and she suddenly lifted her
"I know how you got that, Chad," she said, and with her lips she gently
touched the scar. Almost timidly the boy drew her to him. Again her lips were
lifted in sweet surrender, and every wound that he had known in his life was
. . . . . .
"I'll show you your horse, Chad."
They did not waken old Tom, but went around to the stable and Chad led out a
handsome colt, his satiny coat shining in the moonlight like silver. He lifted
his proud head, when he saw Margaret, and whinnied.
"He knows his mistress, Margaret--and he's yours."
"Oh, no, Chad."
"Yes," said Chad, "I've still got Dixie."
"Do you still call her Dixie?"
"All through the war."
Homeward they went through the dewy fields.
"I wish I could have seen the Major before he died. If he could only have
known how I suffered at causing him so much sorrow. And if you could have
"He did know and so did I--later. All that is over now."
They had reached the stone wall and Chad picked up the flag again.
"This is the only time I have ever carried this flag, unless I--unless it had
"You had captured it, Chad."
"There?" Chad pointed to the stile and Margaret nodded.
Seated on the porch, Mrs. Dean and Harry and Dan saw them coming across the
field and Mrs. Dean sighed.
"Father would not say a word against it, mother," said the elder boy, "if he
"No," said Dan, "not a word."
"Listen, mother," said Harry, and he told the two about Chad's ride for Dan
from Frankfort to Lexington. "He asked me not to tell. He did not wish
Margaret to know. And listen again, mother. In a skirmish one day we were
fighting hand to hand. I saw one man with his pistol levelled at me and
another with his sabre lifted on Chad. He saw them both. My pistol was empty,
and do you know what he did? He shot the man who was about to shoot me instead
of his own assailant. That is how he got that scar. I did tell Margaret that."
"Yes, you must go down in the mountain first," Margaret was saying, "and see
if there is anything you can do for the people who were so good to you--and to
see Melissa. I am worried about her."
"And then I must come back to you?"
"Yes, you must come back to see me once more if you can. And then some day you
will come again and buy back the Major's farm" -- she stopped, blushing. "I
think that was his wish Chad, that you and I--but I would never let him say
"And if that should take too long?"
"I will come to you, Chad," said Margaret.
Old Mammy came out on the porch as they were climbing the stile.
"Ole Miss," she said, indignantly, "my Tom say that he can't get nary a
triflin' nigger to come out hyeh to wuk, an' ef that cawnfiel' ain't ploughed
mighty soon, it's gwine to bu'n up."
"How many horses are there on the place, Mammy?" asked Dan.
"Hosses!" sniffed the old woman. "They ain't NARY a hoss--nothin' but two ole
"Well, I'll take one and start a plough myself," said Harry.
"And I'll take the other," said Dan.
. . . . . .
And still the wonder of that night to Chad and Margaret!
"It was General Hunt who taught me to understand--and forgive. Do you know
what he said? That every man, on both sides, was right--who did his duty."
"God bless him," said Chad.
CHAPTER 31. THE WESTWARD WAY
Mother Turner was sitting in the porch with old Jack at her feet when Chad and
Dixie came to the gate--her bonnet off, her eyes turned toward the West. The
stillness of death lay over the place, and over the strong old face some
preternatural sorrow. She did not rise when she saw Chad, she did not speak
when he spoke. She turned merely and looked at him with a look of helpless
suffering. She knew the question that was on his lips, for she dumbly motioned
toward the door and then put her trembling hands on the railing of the porch
and bent her face down on them. With sickening fear, Chad stepped on the
threshold--cap in hand--and old Jack followed, whimpering. As his eyes grew
accustomed to the dark interior, he could see a sheeted form on a bed in the
corner and, on the pillow, a white face.
"Melissa!" he called, brokenly. A groan from the porch answered him, and, as
Chad dropped to his knees, the old woman sobbed aloud.
In low tones, as though in fear they might disturb the dead girl's sleep, the
two talked on the porch. Brokenly, the old woman told Chad how the girl had
sickened and suffered with never a word of complaint. How, all through the
war, she had fought his battles so fiercely that no one dared attack him in
her hearing. How, sick as she was, she had gone, that night, to save his life.
How she had nearly died from the result of cold and exposure and was never the
same afterward. How she worked in the house and in the garden to keep their
bodies and souls together, after the old hunter was shot down and her boys
were gone to the war. How she had learned the story of Chad's mother from old
Nathan Cherry's daughter and how, when the old woman forbade her going to the
Bluegrass, she had slipped away and gone afoot to clear his name. And then the
old woman led Chad to where once had grown the rose-bush he had brought
Melissa from the Bluegrass, and pointed silently to a box that seemed to have
been pressed a few inches into the soft earth, and when Chad lifted it, he saw
under it the imprint of a human foot--his own, made that morning when he held
out a rose-leaf to her and she had struck it from his hand and turned him, as
an enemy, from her door.
Chad silently went inside and threw open the window to let the last sunlight
in: and he sat there, with his face as changeless as the still face on the
pillow, sat there until the sun went down and the darkness came in and closed
softly about her. She had died, the old woman said, with his name on her lips.
. . . . . .
Dolph and Rube had come back and they would take good care of the old mother
until the end of her days. But. Jack--what should be done with Jack? The old
dog could follow him no longer. He could live hardly more than another year,
and the old mother wanted him--to remind her, she said, of Chad and of
Melissa, who had loved him. He patted his faithful old friend tenderly and,
when he mounted Dixie, late the next afternoon, Jack started to follow him.
"No, Jack," said Chad, and he rode on, with his eyes blurred. On the top of
the steep mountain he dismounted, to let his horse rest a moment, and sat on a
log, looking toward the sun. He could not go back to Margaret and
happiness--not now. It seemed hardly fair to the dead girl down in the valley.
He would send Margaret word, and she would understand.
Once again he was starting his life over afresh, with his old capital, a
strong body and a stout heart. In his breast still burned the spirit that had
led his race to the land, had wrenched it from savage and from king, had made
it the high temple of Liberty for the worship of freemen--the Kingdom Come for
the oppressed of the earth--and, himself the unconscious Shepherd of that
Spirit, he was going to help carry its ideals across a continent Westward to
another sea and on--who knows--to the gates of the rising sun. An eagle swept
over his head, as he rose, and the soft patter of feet sounded behind him. It
was Jack trotting after him. He stooped and took the old dog in his arms.
"Go back home, Jack!" he said.
Without a whimper, old Jack slowly wheeled, but he stopped and turned again
and sat on his haunches--looking back.
"Go home, Jack!" Again the old dog trotted down the path and once more he
"Home, Jack!" said Chad.
The eagle was a dim, black speck in the band of yellow that lay over the rim
of the sinking sun, and after its flight, horse and rider took the westward
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