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Newspaper Page Text
AN OFFICIAL ERROR
By H. M. Egbert
(Copyright by WG. Chapman.)
"We are all agreed"upon our ver
dict, gentlemen?" inquired the pre
siding officer of the court-martial.
"Yes, sir," answered Major La
fleche. "Yes, sir," repeated the other mem
bers, down to the junior one, Lieu
tenant Leblanc, who repeated the
words in a dry voice and licked his
"It is the only verdict possible un
der the laws of war," said Colonel
Boileau. "Let the prisoner be
Two noncommissioned officers led
the young fellow into the tent. He
was a fair-haired boy, not more than
two or three and twenty. He faced
the court impassively, but the fear
of death was evident in his ashen
face and twining fingers.
"Jean Marchand," said the colonel,
"you have been found guilty of the
crime of sleeping on sentry duty.
There is only one punishment for
that. Have you anything to say be
fore sentence is pronounced upon
"Not much, sir ."answered the boy.
"I had not slept for three nights,
owing to the forced marches. And
the sergeants put me on duty two
nights in succession, by error."
"Let Sergeant Lavergne be re
called," commanded the colonel, and
presently the sergeant appeared with
in the tent.
"Was the prisoner placed on sen
try duty on two successive nights,"
asked Colonel Boileau.
"No, sir," replied the sergeant
He was not sure, now that they
questioned him, but having given his
evidence he did not want to get into
trouble. Besides, he hated the young
American Avho had returned at the
outbreak of the war to fight for his
Marchand, with his American
ideasrhad been what is called a "law
yer." He had made trouble with
the commissiariat,, with the little
thieving corporal who sold the hay;
altogether he was what the sergeant
regarded as a bad influence in the
force that is to say, a man, not a
War had been declared four days
before, and the company was moving
by forced marches toward the fron
tier. In war time sleeping on sen-
A Little Old Lady Came In.
try dutyias, justly enough, only one
penalty death. Marchand could
hope for no mercy, for his negligence
might have cost hundreds of Jives.
He had been brought to America in
childhood and. had grown up an
American in every sense of the
word. His father, a silk-importer, had
prospered in the land of his adoption
and two months before, while on a
business trip to his native land, had
died suddenly. The boy and his
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