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Newspaper Page Text
ROBERT W. CHAMBERS
(Copyright, 1914, by tfie Nawspaper Enterprise Association.)
The Special Messenger drew her
buckskin gloves carefully through
her belt and buttoned the holster of
A hospital orderly, passing hur
riedly, stopped to hold her stirrup;
she mounted, thanked the orderly,
and swinging her powerful horse
westward, trotted off through the
woods, passing the camp sentinels
with a nod and alow-spoken word.
There seemed to be no firing any
where in the vicinity; nothing to be
seen but dusky pine woods; and aft
er she had advanced . almost to the
edge of a little, clearing,. and not en
countering .'the outer line of Union
pickets, she drewlmdle and sat stock
still in her saddle, searching in every
direction with, .alert, Bark eyes.
A forest path, apparently leading
west, attracted her attention; into
this she stirred'ther horse and contin
ued, even after her compass had
warned her that the path was run
ning directly south.
A cabin stood at the farther edge.
Three forest bridle-paths ran west,
east and south from this blackened
clearing. She' unbuttoned her waist,
drew out a map, and flattening it on
her pommel, bent above; it in eager
silence. And, as she 'sat studying her
map, she became aware of .a faint
tremor in the solid earth tinder her
horse's feet. It grew to a dull, jarring
vibration nearer nearer nearer
and she hastily backed her horse
into the depths of the laurel, sprang
to the ground and placed both gaunt
leted harid's over her horse's nostrils.
A moment later the Confederate
cavalry swept through the clearing at
a trot a jaunty, gray column, riding,
two abreast, then falling into sin
gle file as they entered the bridle-path
at a canter.
There were only a hundred oV
them probably some of Stuart's.rid
ers, for they seemed strangely fami
liar. What were they doing here? She
did not know. There seemed no logi
cal reason for their presence.
This must be the burnt clearing;
her map and the cabin corroborated
her belief. Then it was here that she
was to meet this unknown man in
Confederate uniform and Union pay
a spy like herself and give him
certain information and receive cer
tain information in return.
Her instructions had been unusu
ally rigid; she was to take every pre
caution; use native disguise whether
or not it might appear necessary,
carry no papers, and let any man she
might encounter make the advances
until she was absolutely certain of
him. For there was an ugly rumor
afloat that he had been caught and
hanged, and that a Confederate
might attempt to impersonate him.
So she looked very carefully at her
map, then out of the thicket at the
burnt clearing. There was the
wretched cabin named as rendez
vous, the little garden patch with
standing corn and beans, and here
and . there a yellowing squash.
At last, with a slight shiver, she
opened her saddle bags and drew out
the dress she meant to wear a
dingy, earth-colored thing of . gingham.