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[469]

Going to the window, I looked out and saw a half-dozen horses fastened to the palings. As usual, these unwelcomed visitors had made themselves ‘at home,’ and entered by the back gate. I believe this was invariably the case. At least I never heard of their first approach ever being made by the front door. Is there a phsychological reason for this?

I had always determined to appear in my best dress before these guests. Southern women knew why. It was desirable to preserve one, and naturally that one would be the choicest when choice was so limited. But I found that the notification was too brief, and was obliged to content myself with putting on my cuffs (to save the buttons) cramming watch, ear-rings, broaches into my capacious pockets. We had reached the door in our downward career, when I remembered the role of the ‘Maid of Saragossa,’ which I had actually forgotten. Smiling sardonically to myself, I bade V. wait a moment, and returned, found the dagger under a lot of feminine small-wear and thrust it into the receptacle where the other valuables were reposing, not having on the dress arranged for it, and very deliberately we two advanced to the charge.

At the foot of the stairs a man was standing, as if uncertain where to proceed.

‘Who are you?’ I asked. ‘Do you belong to Johnston's command?’

‘Yes,’ he replied very promptly.

‘And this uniform.’

The fellow hesitated a moment and then burst out laughing.

“Well, we is what you call the Yankees,” he allowed.

‘Indeed! We had given you out, you were so long coming.’

A gun lay near, a sort of folding affair, it seemed to me, as it was bent double. I drew my skirts away as I passed it going to the rear of the house.

‘Oh! you needn't mind that,’ he cried, much amused; ‘it won't hurt anything now. It's broke.’

Then I recognized Mr. DeG.'s honest, old-fashioned rifle that was accustomed to lie on a rack just overhead, and had never ‘hurt’ anything but birds or squirrels. They had halved it at one blow.

Mrs. DeG. now appeared, bathed in tears and wringing her hands pitifully. ‘Oh! Miss C., what shall we do? Isn't it awful?’

‘Yes, it is; but don't let these creatures see that you are frightened, or it may be the worse for us. Bear up and be brave. They can't kill us.’


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