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booze-soaked block's clear enough to listen I will tell you a few things, but I'm not wastin' any words on shave-tails till they sobers up some sensible."
The man in underclothes considered. Evidently somebody had the drop on him. He looked for something to hide behind, but there was no tombstone present, or anything of like nature except the log on which the other fellow sat.
"Time's up," announced the lieutenant. "I see you don't understand. Get up and put on those clothes, unless you prefer to march in fatigue uniform. Do it darn quick, too; its eight miles to camp, and it's not healthy here nights since the gugus has cut loose again."
"See here, whats this all about anyway?" demanded Tombstone Johnny, with the first gleam of returning intelligence.
"Oh, that's easy, and since you inquire special, I'll state the case. I'm Second Lieutenant John W. Bates, with orders to proceed to the reservation and take command of the garrison succeeding Lieutenant Jergenses. Got that far? Very well. You're Wilbur Hutchings, late private 1st class, of the 20th, on vacation without leave for reasons sufficient to yourself, but arrested at large as a de-, serter by Lieutenant Bates, and you will accompany me, in front, to Camp McBain-and you'll do it quick."
Slowly the unclad man rose, every joint protesting, and with gingerly fingers arrayed himself in the shabbiest uniform that had ever covered his shrinking figure. The man with the gun watched the performance with ill-concealed amusement. "Not up to your grade, eh?" he sallied. "Well, maybe not, but they've done me all the good they will ever do, and they won't hurt you. I'm no raw recruit, and it's sure suitable that my last appearance is in an official uniform. First time I was ever a shave-tail, though, and they never called me Tombstone Johnny, neither." In blind fury, the cringing captive turned and sprang at his tormentor, but he only stepped aside. Then leveling the revolver at the wretched figure before him he said: "That'll do, now. Forward march!"
Once more Tombstone Johnny began to protest. Then he swore, but the protest was sickly, and the profanity weak, and
the man with the gun got tired, and with a crack over the head sent the prisoner on his way up the trail. And what could a poor little shave-tail do when his legs refused to go straight under him, his tongue failed to connect with his ideas, and his head felt in danger of colliding with the trees on both sides of the trail?
"You skunk, you-you bob-tailed malingerer you," he sputtered. "I'll fix you when we get to camp. It'll be six-sixty for a starter-why, man alive," he broke out with sudden comprehension, "you're a deserter. Don't you know what that means?"
"Silence," commanded the man in the rear. "Your memory's bad. I'll fix your lesson so you won't forget it." And two seconds later Tombstone Johnny lay on the ground while his oppressor stood over him, revolver by the barrel, repeating: "I (tap) am Lieutenant (tap) Bates (tap.) You (tap) are (tap) deserter (tap) Hutchings (tap) under arrest (tap) on road (tap) to Camp McBain (tap.) Savy now," (tap, tap.)
If any desire for further protest were left, it was drowned in a shower of meteors and lost in an inarticulate groan of terror. For the quaking heart of a counterfeit man can be nothing but itself, and well, let's not abuse a wretch when he's down.
After awhile the trail grew steeper and the staggering prisoner bethought him of a last resort. "Where's my bottle? Let's have a drink together-my treat, you know," he whined and simpered. "Shut up! Bottle's safe. bottle now. March!"
They walked into camp just as the flag came down, and the sunset gun bade its farewell to the day. Each man looked his part. "Chesty," muttered the sergeant, as he took in the new commander. "But who the dickens is that dish-rag he's got?"
"Sergeant, place deserter Wilbur Hunchings, 20th regiment, in the guard house, double guard. He's been seein' things and 's crazy as a lobster. Make him keep his mouth shut."
The lieutenant was master of the situation. He took possession of headquarters, showed his papers to the ranking sergeant, inspected daily reports for the past week, ordered the best supper the camp could
furnish, asked how the Navajos were behaving, demanded a dozen cigars from the commissary sergeant, and generally looked and acted the part of ranking officer of the post.
"I have the honor to report that the prisoner in the guard house refuses to keep quiet, and talks. He claims to be at commissioned officer, and that he was
"Certainly, certainly, sir. He raved like a loon all the way in. I found him down at Sand Creek, drunk as a fool, and had the devil of a time to get him up here. He's been seein' 'em all the way. If he doesn't shut up, gag him."
The sergeant hesitated. "What is it?" demanded mander in best military tones.
"Nothing, lieutenant. But we understood you was to come yesterday, and the scouts has just come in and says that there is trouble on tonight. They's scheming to drop down on us after taps. They got wind of it through a squaw that'sfriendly, and I thought you ought to know it."
"Thunder," muttered the ranking officer, "but I've got into a -I mean that is important surely," he continued aloud. "Sergeant, issue sixty rounds of ammunition, put three guards on first watch, double pickets, order every man ready for action at taps."
The sergeant saluted and retired. Outside he met the corporal. "New lieutenant is O. K., but that was a mighty straight story the prisoner told. Doesn't look to me to be as drunk as reported. Look like he'd been out a week.”
With military precision orders were obeyed. Pickets were stationed, rations protected, ammunition issued, orders passed, taps sounded, and lights blinked out. The silence of the night settled down, broken only by the night owl on the hill. and the crickets in the pines. The new lieutenant sat and smoked and considered. This was better than he had dared hope. Whatever the discrepancies of his past, failure to make good in a scrap had never been one, which was why he had not been cashiered long ago. When he made the find at Sand Creek he had no plans for anything but a get-away, and now fortune had tumbled into his lap this basket of plums. A lieutenancy, command of the
post, and prize of prizes, a chance for a fight. fight. For the first time he thought of what might have been, and then he sighed and wondered how he would get away. It was plain sailing now. After the trick was turned tonight he could disappear with accoutrements of war and leave the wretch in the guard house to come to his own. It would be funny to see him try it, he thought.
Then it happened. Down. the trail there was a shot, and then another, and in ten seconds the line was formed, and the lieutenant by the look-out tree watched for the charge, and it came. Up the trail swept the mob of painted and be-feathered red-skins, expecting to find all hands asleep. An instant later there swept through their ranks a fire deadly and unexpected, and in the half moon-light they went down a dozen braves. The yell died, and with dead and wounded on their backs they fled.
It was over in a minute, and to have let them go would have been prudence. But the new Lieutenant had smelled powder, and it went to his brain, and with an unofficial shout, he yelled, "Forward, double-quick! March! Give 'em hell, boys," and down the mountain he ran with the men.
At the big rock, the narrow meadow became a trap. A dozen men might scale the boulder and stand off a company as it came. But the new Lieutenant knew nothing of this, and into the hail of lead ran every man in the garrison except nine -and the prisoner in the guard-house. It was short and sharp, and it was nasty enough on both sides. In five minutes the rock was bare, and the foe had fled, and then there was a sound of strife from the camp. Shots and shouts rang out in the night air, and without waiting for command, every man that was left tore up the hill to find a hand to hand skirmish that lasted longer than was pleasant. Over by the guard house it was thick and fast, and here and there ran men, striking right and left. It was too dark to shoot straight and too light to ambush, and the Indians were too thick to pick off, and confusion reigned supreme.
Then there rose above the din a voice of command that rang through the camp. It brought assurance to the hard
pressed men and sent terror to the renegades. "To the commissary!" the voice commanded. "To the commissarymarch!" And at the door of the commissary they gathered and drove out the pillagers within and put out the fire kindled beneath the door, and cleared the camp of the last ambitious brave left to tell the tale of one of the bloodiest nights known on the frontier.
When it was all over, the lieutenant gave orders for the care of the wounded and recovery of the missing. The sergeant turned to confer and started back in blank amazement. "I'll be"
"Remember your work, sir," came the orders cool and steady.. "Send ten men down to the meadow, bring the men into the barracks for treatment."
"See here," broke out the bewildered sergeant. "Weren't you in the guardhouse an hour ago?"
"If I was, it's none of your business. I am Lieutenant Bates, in command of this garrison by order of General Holland. Find that deserter and put him in the guard house."
The sergeant started down the hill. "I'll be damned," he gasped. "He's got more nerve and grit than the other fellow. What'll happen when they get together?"
Down by the big rock lay a still figure clad in the uniform of a second lieutenant. The sergeant paused a minute and touched his arm. There was no response, and the hole behind the ear told the tale.
They carried him back to camp and the next day they buried him. The deserter had come in.
In the morning they looked curiously at the face of the lieutenant in command, and they were silent, for it was not the face of the man whom they had put in the guardhouse. They forgot that he had been clad in the bedraggled uniform of a private soldier, and they forgot that it was not he who had carried the papers. When the belated soul of a man awakens under pressure of a desperate moment and he comes to himself, papers are a secondary matter. Lieutenant John W. Bates, U. S. A., was in command of the garrison.
A CHANGE OF NATURE
BY HUNTLY GORDON
"So long," he said, "as sky be blue,
As long shall live my love for you!
"As winds, complaining dove-wise, woo
The sky bewept its change of hue
To earth-like gray; the lark its wing, Grief-heavy, drooped; rude winds did fling. Fade flowers aside; the man.-he, too:
"So long!" he said.
A LATE FULFILLMENT
BY MAUDE HEATH BLANK
NASTASIA FRISBEE sat on the back piazza, shelling peas for dinner. Before her stretched the green meadow of the ten acre lot. Through it ran a noisy little brook, shaded by drooping willows, and beyond the brook rose a large rock, across the smooth face of which was painted in staring white letters, "Perry's Pleasant Pills Prevent Pain." On the roof of the barn, nearer the house, was a sign painted in letters that covered the surface, "Curena Cures All Diseases of the Stomach, Liver, and Blood."
These two disfiguring advertisements had spoiled the landscape for Anastasia. Her beauty-loving soul revolted at the desecration, and more than one dispute, that verged dangerously near to the quarreling line, had arisen between herself and husband on the subject. But the advertising agent paid for the privilege a sum that seemed extravagant to Jabez Frisbee, and his thrifty mind could not conceive the senseless idea of losing ready money, so easily obtained, for a mere notion. So the farm continued to bear the stigma that artistic natures deplore through the length and breadth of the land; Anastasia continued to refer at appropriate seasons, in tones of contempt, to "the barn that the Curena folks hired," and Jabez continued to take the money every spring for space that would not otherwise bring in
This condition of affairs had obtained for years, but recently Anastasia had been unaccountably silent on the subject. In fact, the day before when the advertising man had come to make his annual payment, she had not only refrained from objecting to the transaction, but had actually asked the stranger to stay to dinner. Jabez wondered, but like a wise man
had asked no questions, having learned in a long married life to let sleeping dogs. lie.
Anastasia was a
comfortable-looking, motherly woman, rather stout, with a fresh color and sympathetic mouth and eyes. She was fifty years old, the wife of one of the most respected and influential men in the little town of Gilson, a member of the Methodist Church, of which her husband was a deacon; a grandmother and a sensible, God-fearing woman; and yet, if she had been asked suddenly any time in the past forty-two years what she wished for above everything else, she would have answered promptly, "a garnet ring."
When she was little Anastasia Gates, the youngest of ten children, city boarders were taken one summer at her home to eke out the precarious living of a New England farmer. Their small homestead of ten acres was about three parts stones, which were laboriously gathered up each spring from the apparently inexhaustible supply, and piled up to be carted off, or built into fences. The crops that could be coaxed from the inhospitable land during the short season barely sufficed to feed and clothe John Gates' healthy family, so that city people who were willing to pay five dollars a week to look at the view and eat what the family had, without extra "fixins," were looked upon as a direct intervention of Providence in the form of harmless lunatics.
It was on the finger of one of these exotic ladies that little Anastasia first saw a garnet ring, the desire for which possessed her thereafter unceasingly. Her fancy never wavered. No other ring seemed desirable to her. Afterwards, when she saw diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds, it was still for a garnet that her heart cried.
On one red letter day, when it rained so that they stayed indoors, the lady had
called Anastasia to her room, and let her help arrange her bureau drawers and boxes, and seeing the longing in the child's eyes, had allowed her to wear the wonderful ring for an hour. Clasped tightly between two tiny fingers, to keep it from slipping off, Anastasia, for that brief period, tasted absolute happiness. She never forgot it. At any time in the following forty years she could close her eyes and see again the rich red of Miss Lacy's garnet ring.
The next Sunday, when she went to Sunday school a new song was sung, the refrain of which was, "Oh, who will help us to garner in the sheaves," etc., but to Anastasia, as the children sang, it said, "Oh, who will help us to a garnet ring," and for years she believed those were the words she heard.
Once she found a ring in the road as she went home from school-a gold ring set with three small garnets, but before the glory of holding it had fully enveloped her soul, a woman came hurrying out of a nearby house and saw her. She snatched the ring from the child, as if she thought she were a thief, and left Anastasia wondering if she would actually have kept the ring if she could without looking for the owner. She had been too well schooled not to know that her soul was lost if such yielding to temptation was possible, and it worried her for weeks.
As she grew older, she saw the futility of asking her hardworking father for anything not absolutely necessary, and it occurred to her that if she picked berries and sold them she could buy a ring for herself. So she spent three days of the next holiday week picking strawberries in the hilly pasture land, under the fervent June sun, and sold them from house to house. She earned a dollar and a quarter altogether. When she brought the money home her mother advised her to buy the material for a best woolen dress for herself, and told her she was a good child to try to help her parents. Anastasia said nothing of her secret ambition. She did as she was told, and only cried herself to sleep two or three nights. In August, when the blueberries ripened, she went uncomplainingly with the older children to pick enough, if possible, to buy her school shoes.
Sometimes she dreamed of finding another ring, far more beautiful than the real one, and set with with one large flashing garnet, but just before she could put it on her finger she always awoke.
As she grew up into a pretty, redcheeked, blue-eyed girl, and went occasionally to parties, the young men of the neighborhood began to pay her attention, and the summer that she was eighteen Jabez Frisbee, the oldest son of one of the most prosperous farmers of the county, asked her to be his wife. Partly because she liked him, but more because young girls were expected to marry as soon as a suitable offer came, she said yes, and preparations for an early wedding were. begun.
All the girls she knew who were engaged had engagement rings, and Anastasia had no doubt that Jabez would give her one. She only hoped, almost fiercely, that it would be a garnet but would have thought it unmaidenly to even hint at the kind she wanted. Jabez brought the ring the first time he came to see her after the engagement. It was a plain gold band. He was a prudent young man, and considered it just as well, besides being a saving, to make the betrothal token serve also as a wedding ring. Anastasia said nothing, and after they were married she gave up planning for a garnet ring. It was so hopeless.
A year after their marriage, she and Jabez moved to California, and they prospered well. Jabez bought a small farm, which was clear of debt; he built a neat five room cottage, with a wide back piazza, and he had all the machinery that he considered necessary to carry on the place. He was a "good provider." His wife had all she needed, according to his judgment, and if he had known of her secret longing he would have said without hesitation that it was "all folderol."
Jabez was a good man. His greatest fault was a little "nearness" in money matters, and as he firmly believed economy to be one of the cardinal virtues, it was not likely that he would ever correct himself of that characteristic. His idea of comfort was to buy what was actually necessary, and put as much money as possible in the bank every year. To leave a good bank account when he died was only