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"Injustice," he replied, scoring. The sun winked on the buttons of men and the bits of horses, a half mile away. Capture was certain, and her scorn was ample; but he had become steady. It was the desperate, laughing courage of the battle-field, when a man who cannot run away may die a hero; and the girl recognized it.
"There is no injustice like that of death," she declared.
"Death's easy," said he, with seeming contempt. "Anything can die, and it isn't worth a man's while to run from it. But to live-and be denied the best thing in life-that takes the courage! I haven't got it. Have you? 1?"
“I live,” said she, definitively. He quickly comprehended. "That's so. He was in here. I wonder now if he told them?" And he looked out again at the approaching patrol with affected impersonal interest. He was speaking, arguing with the glibness of a certain undesirable class of enlisted mentrouble-breeders-to whom their more reliable comrades apply the epithet of "guard - house lawyers." They never win more than one case in the same court.
"No," said the girl, with candor, “he did not meet them."
"That's good . . Not that it makes any difference now,' he added, bitterly. Then he flung up his head. "After all, there's only one reason why we do these things-live, or die, or desert. Love."
At the word, which he uttered musically, the shadows deepened in the girl's eyes, and she unbent from her rigidity. "Ah! do you love a girl?" she said, softly. Love had become a religion with her, and her loyal heart found no shame in its worship. "You do?" she murmured.
"Not more than she loves me," he replied, steadfastly. It was the only ground on which they could meet, and he went on, conscious of his gain. “Perhaps you don't know how they manage in this our paternal regular army? There's nothing like it. Marrying don't depend on you, or the girl, or the girl's father, or the priest. You must go to an outsider to your captain—and say, 'Have I the Captain's permission to
marry?' 'No, sir! go to your quarters or I'll send you to the guard-house for impertinence!' That's what mine said! And it isn't as if hard times or hard duty interfered. It's just because he likes single men in his company best. And I was a corporal, too— here's where the chevron was on my sleeve. Reduced, of course, soon after-insubordination. Oh, yes!" he cried, recklessly, fleering his arm above his head, "and drunk, and court-martialled, and fined, and confined, till I had no good name in all the garrison only with her. She knew better'n all the men who were disciplining me! But what of it? I couldn't stand it. Nobody could. Here I am, and I see I'm going back to worse'n it ever was before." The patrol was near now. his comrades—the individual seat, the slant of their caps. He was going back soon as their prisoner.
He could recognize
"We live and wait," said the girl, with a certain sympathy. She had withdrawn somewhat in the story of his disgrace, and her gaze was far away, up the road, as though she might discern her lover- a dear, black, loyal spot against the snow.
"Oh, I could have lived and waited, too-if it hadn't been for her. She's at the Fort, a poor girl, of course-who else would marry a soldier?—and I know what life for that kind is at a post. You don't; she don't. Good women can't. But I know And I wanted her
to take care of, but I couldn't have her. And then they made it so hot for me with their discipline I thought I'd get away, and send for her Desert? I'd do it every day for a year if it'd help!"
"Yes, you did it for her," said the girl, studying him. She had arrived at his motive, but it had not rebuilt her unquestioning first faith in him as a man. She perceived that it was fear of punishment, not chagrin at failure, that made him dread capture.
"Of course. What else?" he said, with assumed nonchalance. worth it--but where's the use? The game's up. There's just one thing"he smiled faintly-"I didn't ask you to hide me, just now, you know. That wasn't me somebody else no relation whatever. You know that?" He
struck himself lightly on the chest. "This is me!" he cried. "I made a try for it, but I know when I'm done for. I'm going back now, faster'n I come!"
Suddenly the girl sprang at him, set her hands against his shoulders, and pushed him violently along. "Get away from that window!" she cried. "They're near enough to see you!"
He seemed astonished, and he yielded before her. "Why, you're being good to me!" he said.
Oh, not you," she gasped. She hardly knew she had touched him. She stood defensively before the window, as if to fend off his approach. He did not divine her motive, did not understand that she acted from more than impulse. But he liked her for it; she was generous and noble to sacrifice her principles for him, for he had spoken sincerely about going back; and it made him feel capable of some lofty action also. The plan of it flashed into his mind on the instant, and he smiled and spoke :
"Why, yes, you are, but it isn't any use. I've got to go back now. They'll stop and ask if you've seen me know; I've been out for deserters myself-and you're not the girl to lie me out of it. But I appreciate what you've done and tried to do. I'm beaten, though. So when they come I wish you'd tell the sergeant I'm here, and lead them right in. I can't get away, so I won't give you my word, such as it is, to stay and be captured. You tell him that, will you? And bring 'em right in."
Her heart was crying for the girl at the Fort, who must know the sorrows of waiting and of disappointment, to escape one yet heavier. She shook her head at him. 'No, no, no." "You will, if you really want to be kind to me," he urged. It don't make any difference to me whether I give myself up or am given up. I'll get the same ration either way-and if you give me up, it's thirty dollars to you. Government reward."
. . .
"Stop!" she cried, raising her hand warningly.
Never mind if they do hear me," he continued, obtusely. "I know you need the money, and you can't make
"I didn't mean anything by that," he apologized. "It's thirty pieces now; sometimes they pay more, sometimes less. I think you ought to do it. Thirty dollars means a good deal-comforts for your mother-you've got a duty to her you know-perhaps less waiting for you." He ventured this doubtfully; but he did not see her clench her hands, and he could not have known she heard. "It's really from me for value received, not from the govern ment. I ain't worth thirty dollars to them or anybody," he concluded, halfreckless, half-defiant.
Quickly the girl went from the room, closing the door behind her, through a long passage, and to the front door. The patrol had jingled up and halted before the house, and the sergeant was hammering with his pistol butt on the panel. As she opened to him he swung her off a handsome salute.
"You haven't seen one of our boys go by to-day or yesterday, have you, Miss?" he asked.
"We thought likely he'd come this way, but that's what they tell us all along. You'd have seen him, would you, if he had come by?" Yes. Probably."
"Had our ride for nothing, then. Thank you, Miss. Good-day." He saluted again, swung himself to the saddle, and his little command turned its face in the direction it had come. She went back to the kitchen.
By the look on his face the deserter expected some of the patrol to follow her, and as she came alone he fell into wonder. "What-where-what's happened?" he cried.
"They thought it was useless to seek farther, and they have gone back," said the girl. She did not look at him. Her eyes were on the door by which he should go out.
HE train was rolling its huge wheels over the Illinois prairies, not so swiftly as car wheels are used to roll over that level stretch between Joliet and Chicago; but the day was the third of July, 1894, and there was enough chance that there had been tampering with the rails to excuse caution. It was so warm that most of the car-windows were open; nevertheless in the last car (not a Pullman) the air was heavy with the sickly pungency of apples and orange peel and the indescribable odor of cinders. Dust was everywhere; vibrating in the sunshine that changed its dingy motes into gold, painting the window-ledges gray, and coating the red plush of the seats, except where two commercial travellers had fended off the warm prickle by newspapers. Flies buzzed through the car, and one especial fly so annoyed the younger of the travellers that he chased him to his death, remarking, "There! I wish you were Debs!"
"Debs isn't to blame for the weather or the flies," criticised the other man; "you better be thankful we're going at all. I guess they will have the Rock Island tied up as tight as a drum tomorrow."
"Then I shall wish all the more Debs was this fly!" returned the first man, coolly, slipping into his seat.
"I'm not so blooming certain we can get through to-day," the other continued: "did you know we have got a scab fireman on?'
"That's why those rocks flew at Spring Valley!”
"They were rocks, then?" "Why, certainly-" then the speaker's voice sank, to the discomfiture of the elderly woman from the country, two seats in front, who vainly tilted her plump neck backward and strained
her ears to catch more than vagrant phrases.
She was a comely old woman, whose gray hair was not thin, whose skin had a wholesome clearness, and whose bright brown eyes sparkled behind her glasses. There was a kind of vigorous neatness about her old-fashioned toilet. was the single person in the car who was not dusty. As she listened, an emotion not akin to timidity, stirred the lines of her mouth, and a color not due to the heat, mottled her still pretty cheeks. Rising, she brushed the full folds of her black alpaca skirts with a determined action. She smoothed out the wrinkles of her basque at the waist. With the same brisk and almost angry movements she pulled her antique black straw bonnet off the rack, unswathed it from a blue barège veil and tied it firmly on her head. This done, she ran a careful eye over the neat pile of her belongings on the opposite seat, pushed the bandbox, covered with wall-paper, into a safer position, rested a portly, greenish-black umbrella against her knee, and sat upright, like one prepared for action.
When the big brakeman, whom every traveller on No. 2 likes, entered with his water-can, she beckoned to him. There had been an interchange of courtesies and fried chicken between the two already; hence he halted with the smile of an acquaintance. "Well, grandma?" said the brakeman. "Say, you set down by me, cayn't you? I got something to tell you. But I don't want to take you off your business; come back if you ain't got the time now."
Lyon is the most amiable man on the road; he dropped into the seat beside her at once. "It's fifteen minutes to the next station," said he, "and we're running awful light-not twenty passengers on this train. Think of that for the day before the Fourth!"