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[209] and learned my mistake. Retracing my steps, I found the right road, and was soon in front of a white farm-house. A few well-directed shouts brought an astonished masculine head out of an upper window. I appealed to him for a horse. I fancied I saw him smile satirically as he declined, but he politely urged me to dismount and ‘ “come in out of the wet.” ’ I then knew I must play trumps and said plaintively, ‘My dear friend, I am an officer of Stonewall Jackson's staff, carrying an important message, and I must have a fresh horse.’

‘The devil!’ was all the response I had, and down went the window. But immediately I heard again at the back of the house, with rising inflection, ‘Saul, Saul, I say Saul—drat that sleepy nigger—there you are—run, you wooly head, bring out the big black mare, and be quick about it.’ He soon appeared with Saul and the horse and a lantern, and helped to exchange the saddle and bridle. As I climbed from the fence on the mare and rode away he threw the light of the lantern on my face, and said, in a tender voice: ‘Good luck, for I have a boy, may be about your age, with Stonewall Jackson.’

My new beast was as tall as a dromedary, and as I steered her through the deep mud she seemed to plough it like a gunboat and knew just as little about a riding bridle. Madison Courthouse was fifteen miles from Stanardsville, and by the time we reached it she was worn out. There, fortunately, was a courier station, and I exchanged her for a little gray horse. Clattering through the streets of that slumbering town I was soon in the open country and on another deep mud road. Suddenly my horse slipped, gave a groan and was down, and I rolled off into the mire. I jumped up and asked him to do the same, but he never moved and was apparently dead. Taking off the saddle, I stood by the roadside in hopeless bewilderment. I looked about me and could see no habitation, no light—nothing. Just then a little imp jumped into the road on the opposite side with a ‘Good Lordy, what's dat?’ Explanations followed. He was on his way to town for the doctor ‘for ole missus.’ He said it was ‘a mile or mo “ from town around de road, but cutabias ” cross de fiel's not more'n half a mile—not dat.’ I bribed him with a dollar to hurry to the tavern and tell them to send me another horse, and he disappeared like a rabbit in the dark.

I sat upon the fence and waited. The rain was pouring down, I was covered with mud and water, my little horse gave no sign of life, the night was waning, and my spirits were sinking rapidly. But the

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