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‘ [473] Rebel women’ at the house had tried to frighten them about Wheeler's men, and they intended to burn the house to avenge the insult.

I was sitting in the back porch when they returned; V. with me and my little sister (still pouting over the indignity of having been called ‘Sis’), a half-dozen small dark pickaninnies nestled under and around our skirts in abject terror, silent, but staring with the curious animal gaze of their kind at the creatures which could cause such excitement and alarm in this hitherto placid abode.

The first soldier to dismount and enter was one I had not observed before, a dark, wiry, middle-aged man, with a brigandish face and air, a sort of American ‘Devilshoof.’ ‘Say, old woman,’ he began, addressing Mrs. DeG., ‘where is that watch I told you to hide when I was here two or three weeks ago?’

In vain the poor lady protested she had no watch, did not recollect ever having had a watch, and would not have hidden it if she had ever had a watch! The fellow laughed at her incoherency and iteration with demoniacal sarcasm.

‘You wouldn't, hey? Well, let's see if your memory is better than mine,’ and deliberately putting his hand into her pocket he drew forth a small tin box of snuff, stick-brush, a knife, and-awatch! Without a word, but with a gesture of infinite mockery, and a leer I have never before or since seen on a human face, he transferred the two latter articles to his own pocket, and then addressed the elder Mrs. DeG. in a similar manner.

At this moment, my attention was distracted by the striking of matches in the inner room, and I saw only with divided mind the next outrage—the same man tearing open the dress-neck of the dignified old mother, and drawing thence a silk handkerchief in which was wrapped sixteen golden dollars. My blood boiled at the sight, but I dared not speak. The consciousness of my own heavy-laden pocket weighed upon me and fastened me to my seat. No attempt, however, was made to search either V. or me, and the little poniard rested quietly in its hiding-place.

Meanwhile, a very inoffensive looking youth in sergeant's uniform, sat upon his horse in front of us as if keeping guard. The attitude and expression of the colored children huddled around us seemed to interest and amuse him.

‘They haven't recognized their deliverers yet,’ I said, as he remarked how frightened they were.

The animal he rode was so beautiful that I could not repress my

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