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- My Lady of the North - 1/57 -


My Lady of the North

The Love Story of a Gray Jacket

By RANDALL PARRISH

Contents

CHAPTER

I. A DESPATCH FOR LONGSTREET II. THE NIGHT RIDE III. AN UNWELCOME GUEST IV. A WOMAN WITH A TEMPER V. A DISASTER ON THE ROAD VI. A STRUGGLE IN THE DARK VII. A DISCIPLE OF SIR WALTER VIII. MRS. BUNGAY DEFENDS HER HEARTHSTONE IX. IN THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY X. A WOMAN'S TENDERNESS XI. IN THE PRESENCE OF SHERIDAN XII. UNDER SENTENCE OF DEATH XIII. A STRANGE WAY OUT XIV. I BECOME A COLONEL OF ARTILLERY XV. AT THE STAFF OFFICERS' BALL XVI. THE WOMAN I LOVED XVII. THROUGH THE CAMP OF THE ENEMY XVIII. THE REPUTATION OF A WOMAN XIX. THE CAVALRY OUTPOST XX. A DEMON ON HORSEBACK XXI. REINFORCEMENTS FOR EARLY XXII. THE BATTLE IN THE SHENANDOAH XXIII. FIELD HOSPITAL, SIXTH CORPS XXIV. A NIGHT RIDE OF THE WOUNDED XXV. A LOST REGIMENT XXVI. THE SCOUTING DETAIL XXVII. AN EMBARRASSING SITUATION XXVIII. WE CAPTURE A COURIER XXIX. A MISSION FOR BEELZEBUB XXX. A UNION OF YANK AND REB XXXI. A CONVERSATION IN THE DARK XXXII. HAND TO HAND XXXIII. A BELLIGERENT GERMAN XXXIV. THE WORDS OF LOVE XXXV. A PLAN MISCARRIED XXXVI. THE LAST RESORT OF GENTLEMEN XXXVII. THE LAST GOOD-BYE XXXVIII. THE FURLING OF THE FLAGS XXXIX. MY LADY OF THE NORTH

My Lady of the North

The Love Story of a Gray-Jacket

CHAPTER I

A DESPATCH FOR LONGSTREET

It was a bare, plain interior,--the low table at which he sat an unplaned board, his seat a box, made softer by a folded blanket. His only companions were two aides, standing silent beside the closed entrance, anxious to anticipate his slightest need.

He will abide in my memory forever as I saw him then,--although we were destined to meet often afterwards,--that old gray hero, whose masterly strategy held at bay for so long those mighty forces hurled on our constantly thinning lines of defence. To me the history of war has never contained his equal, and while I live I shall love and revere him as I can love and revere no other man.

"General Lee," said one of the aides, as I passed the single sentry and drew aside the flap to step within, "this is Captain Wayne."

He deliberately pushed aside the mass of papers which had been engaging him, and for an embarrassing moment fixed upon me a glance that seemed to read me through and through. Then, with simple dignity, far more impressive than I can picture it in words, he arose slowly and extended his hand.

"Captain Wayne," he said gravely, yet retaining his grasp, and with his eyes full upon mine, "you are a much younger man than I expected to see, yet I have selected you upon the special recommendation of your brigade commander for services of the utmost importance. I certainly do not hold your youth to be against your success, but I feel unwilling to order you to the performance of this duty, which, besides being beyond the regular requirements of the service, involves unusual risks."

"Without inquiring its nature," I said hastily, "I freely offer myself a volunteer for any service which may be required either by the army or yourself."

The kindly face brightened instantly, almost into a smile, and a new look of confidence swept into the keen gray eyes.

"I felt, even as I spoke," he said, with a dignified courtesy I have never marked in any one else, "that I must be doing wrong to question the willingness of an officer of your regiment, Captain Wayne, to make personal sacrifice. From our first day of battle until now the South has never once called upon them in vain. You are from the ranks, I believe?"

"I was a corporal at Manassas."

"Ah! then you have won your grade by hard service. You take with you one man?"

"Sergeant Craig of my troop, sir, a good soldier, who knows the country well."

He lowered his eyes to the numerous papers littering the table, and then, leaning over, traced lightly with a colored pencil a line across an outspread map.

"You speak of his knowing the country well; are you aware, then, of your destination?"

"I merely inferred from what Colonel Carter said that it was your desire to re-establish communication with General Longstreet."

"That is true; but do you know where Longstreet is?"

"Only that we of the line suppose him to be somewhere west of the mountains, sir. It is camp gossip that his present base of supplies is at Minersville."

"Your conjecture is partly correct, although I have more reason to believe that the head of his column has reached Bear Fork, or will by to-morrow morning. Kindly step this way, Captain Wayne, and make note of the blue lines I have traced across this map. Here, you will observe, is Minersville, directly beyond the high ridge. You will notice that the Federal lines extend north and south directly between us, with their heavier bodies of infantry along the Wharton pike, and so disposed as to shut off all communication between us and our left wing. Now, the message I must get into Longstreet's hands is imperative; indeed, I will say to you, the very safety of this army depends upon its reaching him before his advance passes Bear Fork. There remains, therefore, no time for any long detour; the messenger who bears it must take his life in his hands and ride straight westward through the very lines of the enemy."

He spoke these words rapidly, earnestly; then suddenly he lifted his eyes to mine, and said firmly: "I am perfectly frank with you. Are you the man?"

I felt the hot blood leap into my face, but I met his stern gaze without flinching.

"If I live, General Lee, I shall meet his advance at Bear Fork by daybreak."

"God guide you; I believe you will."

His words seemed uttered unconsciously. He turned slightly, and glanced toward the door. "Major Holmes, will you kindly hand me the draft of that despatch?"

He took the paper from the outstretched hand of the aide, read it over slowly and with great care, wrote a word of explanation upon the margin, and then extended it to me.

"Commit that, word by word, to your memory; we must run no possible risk of its ever falling into the enemy's hands."

I can see it now, that coarse yellow paper,--the clear, upright penmanship, the words here and there misused and corrected, the sentence scratched out, the heavy underlining of a command, and his own strangely delicate signature at the bottom.

_"Headquarters, Army Northern Virginia, "In the field, near Custer House, "Sept. 22, 2 P.M.

"Lieut.-Gen'l Longstreet, "Commanding Left Wing.

"Sir: You will advance your entire force by the Connelton and Sheffield pikes, so as to reach Castle Rock with your full infantry command by daybreak, September 26th. Let this supersede all other orders. I propose to attack in force in the neighborhood of Sailor's Ford, and shall expect you to advance promptly at the first sound of our artillery. It is absolutely essential that we form prompt connection of forces, and to accomplish this result will require a quick, persistent attack upon your part. You are hereby ordered to throw your troops


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