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The Sisseton weekly standard. (Sisseton, Roberts County, S.D.) 1892-1929, July 05, 1912, Image 3

Image and text provided by South Dakota State Historical Society – State Archives

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn99062049/1912-07-05/ed-1/seq-3/

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SY
TIKI
V? s?
VJ?
Jb)Y
PROLOGUE OF THE STORY.
Kibert King, it northern soldier left
for dead mi i\ southern battlefield, re
covers consciousness near a farmhouse,
whi'ie lie hears .lean Densiow, beau
tiful daughter of the south, tell her
negro servant, Joe. that, soon she must
marry Culvert Dunn, whom she iloes
not love. King overhears Colonel Dons
low and the chaplain discuss a move
ment to surprise the Federals. Anx
lo :s to get away with the information,
lie intercepts 1 lio prospective bride
groom. Lieutenant Dunn, appropriates
his uniform and is mistaken for hini.
Under cover of Jiis disguise and to
sa\e himself lie is married lo .lean
Densiow. Stiil undetected, he starts
en horseback with his bride to Dunn's
home. En route she discovers the de
ception. Kurioiis, she gallops off to
Xvu rn the Confederates. Her horse
falls and breaks its neck, while .lean
Injures her ankle. Hopelessly she ae
coins King's proffer of assistance to
Dunn's home. Kiug's kindnesses par
tially win her. lie later reports to the
I'.ileral commander, ltosecraus, who
nppoints him lieutenant of a body of
Scouts, Including Daniels, head of a
feud faction fighting Jem Donald, a
Confederate guerrilla chief. The ex
pedition leads King to Dunn's home,
where he again meets Jean, who leads
him into a trap. He cseapes, only to
•tumble across the body of a slain Con
federate oflicer. Fearful lest he be
Stigmatized with the crime, he volun
tarily surrenders to Big .Tern Donald,
only to be accused by Calvert Dunn of
the killing. King shows, fight, but Is
subdued and finds himself a prisoner
In the cellar of the house.
COPYRIGHT. 1909. BY A. MeCLURG «t CO.
Released For a Purpose.
I
JUDGED tins cellar room to be
at the north side of the house,
and a brief search along the
walls of the shadowy interior re
vealed nothing that could aid me In
any way. It was totally bare, bricked
solidly to the floor beams above, the
•ingle entrance by a heavy oak door,
evidently barred without, as I could
discover no lock, and the only window,
scarcely large enough to admit the body
of a boy, secured by stout strips of
Iron, between which the daylight filter
ed weakly. Without tools of some kind
the walls were impregnable, and there
was absolutely nothing I could use as
wedge, lever or hammer. I dug at the
bricks, tested the window strips and
exercised my strength aud ingenuity
In every possible manner, driven to
new expedients by recollection of my
perilous position, but such efforts were
all useless Wearied and heartsick, 1
bud fallen back upon the blankets,
when food was suddenly shoved
through the quickly opened door. I
caught merely a glimpse ot a black
band and arm
1 bad completed my meal and was
sitting with head burled in my bands,
my thoughts insensibly drifting to
Jean Densiow. If could only really
understand her if 1 could know how
she felt toward' me now under the
shadow of this crime Of course I
was in her thought merely as a chance
acquaintance, an enemy, Indeed, so
far as the uniform went, yet she bad
exhibited some Interest and perhaps
•till retained a slight doubt of my
guilt Girl though she was In years,
yet hers was the heart of a woman,
and I felt that she would stand for
all she deemed to be right in face of
them all. I was staring down at the
bricks, so deeply Immersed in gloomy
conjectures as to be unconscious of all
else I beard no sound, and yet some
thing told me ol another presence
As my eyes lifted I saw bet standing
alone just within the closed door
s.
I stared at her n9 at an apparition,
unable at the moment to disassociate
her from the vision of my day dream.
"1 am not a specter. Lieutenant
King.".
"It needed your voice to convince
me," 1 returned, bowing and feeling
the sudden release of blood In my
veins. "1 had been thinking of yon,
tailed to bear your entrance, and then
suddenly saw you standing there. It
certainly startled me."
"You were thinking of me?" The
ton# was slightly curious.
"Yes: wondering if you believed me
guilty: hoping you at least gave me
the benefit of the doubt Your appear
ance was like an answer to my query."
"I am only a girl. Lieutenant King,
with no very wide experience in life,
yet I cannot be mistaken altogether in
your character. I not only believe you
guiltless of this crime, but I trust you
otherwise or I should not. be here.
Will yon give me your word that I am
right?"
"Before God. yes." earnestly. "I
know nothing of the crime except what
I told in the library."
••Aud 1 may trnst you?"
"To the end of the world, Miss Dens
low."
"Lieutenant King"—her words spo
keu slowly, yet with sufficient clear
ness—"I do not wish to be misunder
stood. I am a daughter of the south,
loyal to the interests,of the Confed
eracy. While I believe you guiltless
"I AH TOT A SPECTEn, LIEUTENANT MHO."
of this cruel murder, yet you have en
tered this house as a Yankee officer,
searching for one who Is very dear to
me, beyond all his claims upon my
protection aR a soldier of mycountry.
To protect bim I made you captive,
and 1 consider you now as rightfully
a prisoner of war. 1 have been left
here as your Jailer, with no one but
negroes to help me guard you. Miss
Dunn has given way to her nerves and
locked herself in her room: Jndge
Dunn Is comparatively helpless. 1 am
therefore practically alone."
"Aionel" mystified as to her pur
pose in such confessloa "Yon mean,
bnt for you. I could walk out of that
door. What has become of Calvert
Dunn and Colonel Donald?'
She stepped aside, again uplifting
her eyes to my face as she did so.
"Yes." she said simply, "there Is no
strength here to prevent your escape
1 merely, appeal to your honor.''
Breathing hard. 1 looked at her.
•rarrely knowing what to say The
expression of her fqgc,
T?hat will have greater weight with
me than a barred door. I pledge you
my word."
"And 1 accept It without reserve. 1
give you my band In token of the
compact. You tbink me an odd girl,
no doubt. When other children learn
to walk, I was learning to ride and
to use firearms aye, and to distrust
strangers. Perhaps that very experi
ence bas brought, me self reliance and
an unusual confidence In my own judg
ment Am I overbold?"
"Far from It yet 1 may be when I
say you are my Ideal of womanhood."
The quick flush mounted to her hair,
her bands clasping.
"Oh, but I did not expect that. What
a poor ideal you must have? No north
ern school ever held me up as a
model. 1 bardly know what spirit
possesses me to make me forget the
real purpose of my visit I came In all
seriousness. 1 told you I was alone
here, but for the negroes. Believing
you perfectly helpless, confined here
In the cellar. Colonel Donnld rode
away to collect some of bis men. who
•re widely scattered Just now. Intend
ing to convey you under guard tonight
to Johnston's headquarters. Calvert
Dunn, with two of tbe negroes, de
parted even earlier with Lieutenant
Navarre's body."
"Tbey intend holding me, then, as a
prisoner of warV"
She hesitated, as If doubtful of her
reply, her eyes lifting suddenly to my
own, then falling as quickly to the
stone floor of the cellar.
"You fear to tell me the truth?"
"No. not that, but 1 do not feel quite
certain of the tinnl outcome. Both
Calvert Dunn and bis father hold you
merely as an emissary of Daniels
and would treat you as they would
him If be ever fell Into their hands
We have not known much about law
In this region. Lieutenant King, and
men have learned to wreak their own
vengeance. 1 cannot picture to you
what the bitterness of a mountain
feud means." She pressed her bands
to her eyes as if to shut out tbe mem
ory, yet went steadily on. her soft
voice trembling with emotion "I—I
have seen so much of it from my
very babyhood I have lived amid
scenes of violence—burned homes, wo
men and children suffering and desti
tute, men shot down from ambush
and outrages unspeakable. War Is
terrible, but a mountain feud turn*
human beings into fiends
Her words, the deep Intensity of her
utterance, told bow clearly she recalled
it all. She stopped, breathing heavily,
one hand reaching out to the door for
support.
"IJut why should It be? We know
notbing of such conditions in the
north. What caused all this fighting'."'
"I—I heard the story," speaking now
almost wearily "Way back, they say
a huudred years ago, when the first
settlers came, some controversy arose
between the Dauieises and the Don
alds. Blood was shed, and little by lit
tie every relative was drawn into the
controversy. The Danielses were the
more numerous, the more ignorant,
the more vindictive. Colonel Donald
saw them kill bis father aud burn his
own home to the ground, lie sought ear
nestly to compromise, to make peace
The others laughed, thought him a
coward, and finally burned his home
for the second time, twenty of them,
at midnight. Bill Daniels at their
head. They left hi seriously wound
ed and drove his wife aud children into
tne night and storm. His wife and one
child died from exposure. Hu lay for
weeks In this house delirious with
fever, and twice those fiends sought
him even then. When he recovered he
was another man—living for no other
purpose than to clear this region of
that scum. LIo was five years at it
night and day, tireless as a blood
hound. Bill Daniels was tried for mur
der and convicted lie escaped from
Jail two years ago and since then,
until the war broke out. we have had
peace. Now be bas come back—come
back with the Yankee army behind
him—and—and it Is murder again."
"You know this to be all true?"
The cellar was almost dark now,
but I could see her straighten up. her
bands clasped tightly together.
"DS 1 know? Ob. God, yes I have
been part of it 1 have'seen men shot
down. I have cowered in darkness
and rain while flames destroyed the
house I called home. All my childhood
was a passion of fear."
"You say Calvert Dunn and his
followers bold me to be one of Dan
iels' followers and would deal with me
accordingly? How about Colonel Don
ald?"
"He believes you guilty of killing
Lieutenant Navarre, but merely in an
effort to escape. Otherwise he thinks
you have told the truth and favors
turning you over to the military au
thorities."
"They expect to return?"
"Yes. tonight, with a squad of Colo
nel Donald's men."
"And yet you ask me to remain.
Miss Densiow, to remain here volun
tarily and wait for them?" I asked In
despair of comprehending. "Yon open
the door of my prison, yet ask me to
wait the return of men who are un
decided whether tbey will bang me
outright or merely fling me Into a
southern prison? You really ask this?"
She took a step forward, her bands
outstretched as though she would
grasp mine.
"Yes. Lieutenant King. I do ask It I
ask because 1 am afraid to be left
here any longer alone. I ask It be
cause I believe yon are Innocent, and
I wish to give you an opportunity to
prove It I ask you to pledge me your
word not to leave me until the others
come I believe tbe assassin Is still
In the house
In complete amazement I beard these
words, too snrnrised for tbe momeut
that had driven her hers. Yet this
fact did not In any way lessen the act
as proof of her confidence,
"Yon say the assassin Is still here
in this house?" I questioned. "Are
you sure?"
"No, not sure, but I have every
reason to believe so. One of the serv
ants caught a glimpse of him, and I
have seen that which has aroused my
own suspicions. 1 have not dreamed
this, but 1 actually .believe there is
aome presence In this house seeking
evil. This house was built In time of
fend and In a feud country. Judge
Dunn was then on the bench snd had
made many dangerous enemies by his
decisions. He always was a man to
arouse animosity by bis arbitrary
manner and abrupt speech. As a girl
1 heard this house contained a bidden
room and secret passages so arranged
as to facilitate escape In time of peril
or attack. Calvert Dunn has confessed
as much, but he and his father alono
know tbe secret It would be useless
to question the Judge."
"Where Is he now?"
"Where you saw him last, occupy
ing bis chair In the library, his body
perfectly helpless, bis mind apparently
as active as ever, but more bitter than
before because of bis physical weak
ness. I do not think he has slept for
two nights or that he bas uttered a
word except to curse the servants who
brought him food."
1 bad the full picture of the situa
tion clearly before me now—the super
stitious. unwilling darkles, knowing
just enough to be frightened at their
own shadows: the characterless and
colorless Lucille, suffering from a
headache and locked safely away with
in her own' room that vindictive old
man, seated helpless in his chair, his
strange eyes glaring out across the
library table, and Jean Densiow left
alone in the big bouse to cope with
Its mystery, the night shadows clos
ing In. Instinctively I extended by
band, and In the sudden response of
comradeship she slipped her own into
my grasp.
"1—I believe I am actually afraid."
she confessed. "This is so different
from a real danger—this—this haunted
feeling."
I do not recall what I said, but I
know I retained her hand In mine and
must have spoken words of encour
agement. for when we emerged from
that dark bole of a cellar Into the nar
row hallway, already lighted by a
hanging lamp, her eyes were smiling
and the clasp of her fingers had grown
firm.
"1 shall want weapons. Miss Dens
iow," 1 said, as we stood looking up
and down the main hall, "for whoever
this visitant may prove he will be of
flesh and blood and not Impervious to
a bullet. You can trust me armed?"
"Oh. yes I will get your own re
volvers. They are left In the library."
She was back In a moment and I
snapped the belt nbout my waist, feel
ing renewed confidence as 1 found
both weapons still loaded.
Lamp in hand, I explored every
nook and corner, peering under furni
ture and into closet recesses, until ab
solutely convinced that not even a
rat could have escaped my scrutiny.
Having thus completed the lower floor,
not even forgetting to test the walls In
hope of thus locating the secret room,
1 was for following the same course
above, bad not she begged me to de
sist. her voice trembling, her face pa
thetic as she pleaded. Through the
partially opened door I caught a
glimpse of the. Judge at the library ta
ble. his head bowed forward as if he
slept, but 1 did not venture to enter
the room.
"Miss Densiow," 1 said at last, stand
ing at the foot of the stairs, "if It is
true that any one is hiding in the
house, as you suspect, the fellow must
be the murderer of Lieutenant Na
varre Naturally I wish to make that
man prisoner. Are you willing to sit
here in the dark, thus helping me to
draw him into the trap?"
Her eyes lifted to mine In a single
searching glance.
"Yes," she said quietly, "I know I
am nervous, strangely so, yet I am not
afraid."
1 blew out the light placed two
chairs back in the denser shadow un
derneath the circular staircase and
made her sit down in tbe one nearest
the wall. Her hand was cold, tremb
ling as 1 touched It and 1 whispered
a few words of courage into her ear,
but .she made no effort to respond.
Perhaps we bad been sitting thus for
ten minutes, in a stillness so profound
as to be painful, when I felt the girl's
hand steal along the arm of my chair
and press my sleeve. The movement,
unconsciously made perhaps, was elo
quent of her distress of mind, and,
obeying the first impulse, I clasped her
fingers within ray own. We sat thus
in the dark, like two lovers, listening
Intently, neither venturing to speak.
Was she right or wrong In her sus
picion? Had overstrained nerves caus
ed her to believe tbe house haunted?
Or bad the assassin, dissatisfied with
his previous work, returned to com
plete his task? I was not convinced
either way, yet the fellow must be
mad to run such risk of discovery.
Still, if he understood the situation,
that the girl had been left alone, bis
venture would not be particularly
dangerous he had no reason to fear
her or tbe negroes. Yet if be knew all
this, he must also be aware that Colo
nel Donald and Calvert Dunn would
soon return and that he must act
qnlckl.v In order to escape. A great
clock at the rear of the hall boomed
out nine strokes, causing us both to
start nervously at tbe first unexpected
sound. I counted the strokes to make
6urp of tbe hour
"Do you know when the others are
expected back?" I asked In a low whis
per, turning my face toward her bare-
"No: they were unable to say, but
they surely must be here before morn
ing."
"Perhaps it is cruel of me to insist
upon your remaining here In the dark.
You could go Into one of the rooms
with a lamp and lie down and rest"
"Oh. no." the clasp of her hand
tightening "1 atn far too nervous. I
prefer being here with you."
Another
THEKhlactionMystery.
was that oern tono
and to urge me for
ward.
"It is odd you should trust
me so wholly," 1 ventured, "a Yankee
and a stranger and one under such
grave suspicion of crime. Why should
you trust me. Miss Densiow?"
"Indeed 1 do not know," as If the
thought had but Just occurred to her.
"only the act Is natural to me. 1 ei
ther trust fully or not at all. 1 have
been like that from a child—tbe serv
ant of first Impressions."
"Yet yoc have not forgotten my uni
form."
"No, although there are times when
I seem to forget," ber voice hesitated.
"1 was brought up to bate my ene
mies, to fight them bitterly and to the
death. That was the feud spirit and
we took this feeling with us into tbe
war. We of the south clung together.
1 sincerely wish I could take a broad
er view."
"And you do already. You are here
now with a Yankee whom you trust
Peculiar conditions have brought us
into sudden Intimacy. We are really
friends, are we not?"
"1—I am hardly ready to promise
that I feel kindly toward you, but I
do not know you. Lieutenant King,
and—and all my friendB are on the
other side."
"Oh, no they are not, Miss Densiow.
1 am your friend in spite of every
difference between us. So long as 1
live there will be one heart under a
blue uniform you may feel confidence
In. 1 do not even believe you are as
hard hearted as your words would in
dicate Shall 1 be entirely forgotten
as soon as this episode is over? Will
you not retain some kindly memory
of me?"
"I could not be indifferent to the
claim of gratitude."
"Nor can you refuse friendship
while I show myself worthy, can
you?"
She remained silent, a silence I did
not understand, yet 1 was unwilling
to accept It as a negative.
"You gave me your hand a few mo
ments ago because you were frighten
ed and nervous. It was a comfort
then for you to feel the nearness of
one upon whom you relied for protec
tion. Will you not give me the same
hand now in token of friendship?"
It seemed to me 1 waited a long
while, my own heart beating like a trip
hammer, as she sat there motionless
in the dark Then there was a slight
rustle of her loose sleeve, as her hand
slipped hesitatingly along the arm of
my chair. 1 held It for a moment In
silence, nor. daring to utter the mad
words that came thronging to my Hps.
"I thank you," 1 said nt last "your
friendship will mean much to me."
"I do not know why I am so foolish,"
she confessed, as though the words es
caped her control. "Somehow you
make me do things, even ngalnst my
will. 1—1 haven't liked Yankees, you
know, and It is pretty hard to learn to
like even one Yankee."
"Out you are going to try?"
1 could hear the breath between her
half opened lips.
"1 don't think I shall bavo to try
—very hard. Somehow you do not
seem like a Yankee at all."
"Good! I am not going to seem like
one—at least not in the sense you
mean."
11' 1 could have read the expression
In lior eyes might have dared more,
but in that darkness, her words barely
audible from the cautious whisper In
which we conversed, my courage fail
ed. Already 1 had gained much, more
even than 1 could Justly have expected.
She had trusted herself to me, and
were 1 to take unfair advantage of the
situation it might cost me all 1 had
already gained of her good will.
I tiptoed forward and peered Into the
library. Judge Dunn sat just as be
fore, his posture unchanged, his head
bent forward upon the table. Sud
denly my ears caught tbe creak of a
board sounding from the top of the
stairs. I was not even certain I actual
ly heard It, yet 1 stepped aside into
the deeper shadow of the coat rack,
every nerve a-tingle, my band reach
ing for the revolver at my belt
1 could see nothing, the circular
staircase a mere dark blur barely dis
tinguishable, yet, faint as the sounds
were, 1 was convinced some one was
stealthily descending step by step, feel
ing a way cautiously through the
gloom. Who could it be? What pur
pose could account for such a pres
ence? 1 felt no doubt that this was
the murderer, seeking to complete his
work of blood, but how could 1 meet
him? With a shot, ending his career
with one pressure of my finger against
the trigger, or should 1 attempt tak
ing bim alive, thus the more thorough
ly vindicating myself of all suspicion?
Had I been older undoubtedly 1
would have chosen the safer method,
but as It was felt confidence in my
strength and in the advantage of sur
prise and was urged Into recklessness
by a desire to prove before Jean Dens
iow the extent of my courage. Thrust
ing the half drawn revolver back Into
the belt, I crept forward to the foot
of the stairs, crouching down within
the shadow of the parlor doorway.
Step by step the intruder came down
toward me. yet he was almost within
reach of my arm before I could mak«
out even tbe dim' smndge of his form,
a shapeless «badow. but looking burly
enough. A step more and I could see
circular cloak hung dangling over his
shoulders. With teeth set crouching
for a spring at hts throat 1 waited
until he planted both feet on the floor,
his bead turned away, peering into tbe
blackness of the rear hallway. Tha
next Instant I had him, my left arm
under Ills chin, my right hand bind
ing his cloak about him so tightly ho
could not lift an arm.
We went down together, crashing
against the lower stair, but I fell on
top, confident of victory, my knee
crushing his chest, my hand grasping
his throat A moment 1 thought bim
unconscious, stunned by the bard fall
then I knew 1 was in the grasp of a
giant, fighting for my life. I clung
to him madly, not^daring to release my
grip even long enough to grasp at a
revolver, every muscle exerted, strain
ing my utmost to hold him dowu.
There were few tricks I did not know
In the wrestler's game, but this man's
strength offset them, inch by inch he
TBB NEXT INSTANT I BAD BIM.
forced mo back, his grip fairly digging
into my flesh, his arms pressing about
me like iron bars. There were no
blows struck, no words spoken-just
the heavy breathing of desperate light,
the scutlllpg of bodies, the sheer strain
of muscles exercised to their uttermost
I had the advantage of posture, he ot
strength, but at last he got me. Inn
arms crushing me as If I were iu iho
grasp of a bear, tearing my lingers
from his throat and forcing my body
over against the wall and my'head to
the floor. The round barrel of a pistol
was pressed into my cheek.
A sudden gleam of light swept ovet
ns both and 1 caught a glimpse of
Jean Densiow standing white faced,
holding a lamp in one outstretched
hand, tbe other grasping at tbe bsruster
rail. The man gripping me tnrned his
head to glance toward her, the rays of
light falling upon bis face. Wltb
a gasp of astonishment I recognized
my antagonist to be Colonel Donald.
"Bring mo something to tie the fel*
low with, Jean," he called, still crash
ing mo relentlessly ddwn. "The taUi
there on the coat rack will answer."
She acted like one nnable to compre
hend the situation.
"Don't you hear, Jean? Bring md
the belt"
"Yes, I bear," she had found baa
voice at last "but what doe* all thia
mean? What are you doing here^
That Is Lieutenant King, and
Is no reason why you should
him."
3
He brought his eyes from her tei
to mine, loosened his grip of me an
rose to his knees.
"He Is not trying to escape. I
him out of tbe cellar, and he gave) ma(
bis pledge not to run away. He wall
here with me watching the house*
only I fell asleep. That was all
knew until I heard you struggling."
"You released him? What for?"
"Miss Densiow was frightened," 1
said, catching my breath painfully.i
"She believed the murderer of Lieu*
tenant Navarre was still concealed la
tbe bouse. 1 was here In the darlc
waiting when you came down tha
stairs. I supposed you to be the as*
sassin."
b1
Donald laughed, rising to his feet
and bending forward to grasp tha
girl's bands.
"So that was It. Jean. dear. And
I gave you a bad scare. You must
forgive me. for It was unintentional.
I came back hurriedly, without wait
ing for my men. They are widely
scattered, and it will require several
hours yet to bring them together. I
could not bear to think of your being
here alone. I came through a secret
passage, never dreaming any one
would be hiding In this darkness."
He glanced down at me. where I
had lifted myself upon one elbow.
"You should have shot me. lieutenant"
"And I am very glad 1 did not,"
I returned honestly. "1 hoped to cap*
ture the prowler so as to vindicate
myself of crime."
"Sincerely 1 wish yon might have
proved so fortunate, for I am far from
being convinced myself that yon are
capable of such a deed. My little
Jean, here, must posssas great confi
dence In you."
"J do." she broke In earnestly.
KyM
xim
MX
would stake my Life upon his Inno*
cence." pig'
[To be'continued.]
Germany has 486 plants for tbe pre*
ervatlon and utilization of potatoes Iq

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