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HAVERILL. [_Sighing._] A--h.
BARKET. [_Coming down stone steps._] It is reported that Captain Heartsease was shot dead at his side.
KERCHIVAL. Heartsease dead!
LIEUTENANT OF SIGNAL CORPS. [_Reading signals._]
BARKET. Begorra! I forgot the Sintinil entirely, but he didn't forget me. [_Holding his left arm._
HAVERILL. Colonel West! We must make every possible sacrifice for the immediate exchange of Lieutenant Bedloe, if he is still living. It is due to him. Colonel Robert Ellingham is a prisoner in this camp; offer him his own exchange for young Bedloe.
KERCHIVAL. He will accept, of course. I will ride to the front with him myself, General, and show him through the lines.
HAVERILL. At once! [KERCHIVAL _crosses front and exit on veranda._ HAVERILL _crosses._] Can you follow the despatch, Captain?
LOCKWOOD. Perfectly; everything is here
LIEUTENANT OF SIGNAL CORPS. Eleven--Twenty-two--One--Twelve.
LOCKWOOD. [_From book._] "General Longstreet is coming with--"
LIEUTENANT OF SIGNAL CORPS. One--Twenty-one.
LOCKWOOD. "With eighteen thousand men."
LIEUTENANT OF SIGNAL CORPS. Two--Eleven--Twenty-two.
LOCKWOOD. "Sheridan is away!"
HAVERILL. They have discovered his absence!
LIEUTENANT OF SIGNAL CORPS. Two--Twenty-two--Eleven--One--Twelve--One.
LOCKWOOD. "We will crush the Union Army before he can return."
HAVERILL. Signal that despatch from here to our Station at Front Royal. [_Pointing._] Tell them to send it after General Sheridan--and ride for their lives. [LOCKWOOD _hurries out._] Major Burton! We will ride to General Wright's headquarters at once--our horses! [_Noise of a struggle without._
BARKET. [_Looking._] What the devil is the row out there? [_Exit. Also one of the_ STAFF OFFICERS.
HAVERILL. [_Looking off._] What is this? Colonel West wounded!
_Enter_ KERCHIVAL WEST, _his coat thrown open, with_ ELLINGHAM, BARKET _a.s.sisting._
ELLINGHAM. Steady, Kerchival, old boy! You should have let us carry you.
KERCHIVAL. Nonsense, old fellow! It's a mere touch with the point of the knife. I--I'm faint--with the loss of a little blood--that's all.
Bob!--I--[_Reels suddenly and is caught by_ ELLINGHAM _as he sinks to the ground, insensible._
ELLINGHAM. Kerchival! [_Kneeling at his side._
HAVERILL. Go for the surgeon! [_To_ STAFF OFFICER, _who goes out quickly on veranda._] How did this happen? [_Enter_ CORPORAL DUNN _and_ GUARD, _with_ THORNTON. _He is in his shirt sleeves and disheveled, his arms folded. They march down._] Captain Thornton!
ELLINGHAM. We were leaving the house together; a hunted animal sprang suddenly across our path, like a panther. [_Looking over his shoulder._] There it stands. Kerchival!--my brother!
CORPORAL DUNN. We had just brought this prisoner to bay, but I'm afraid we were too late.
HAVERILL. This is a.s.sa.s.sination, sir, not war. If you have killed him--
THORNTON. Do what you like with me; we need waste no words. I had an old account to settle, and I have paid my debt.
ELLINGHAM. General Haverill! I took these from his breast when he first fell. [_Handing up wallet and miniature to_ HAVERILL. HAVERILL _starts as he looks at the miniature._ THORNTON _watches him._
HAVERILL. [_Aside._] My wife's portrait!
THORNTON. If I have killed him--your honour will be buried in the same grave.
HAVERILL. Her picture on his breast! She gave it to him--not to my son! [_Dropping into seat._ CAPTAIN LOCKWOOD _enters with a_ SIGNALMAN, _who has a burning torch on a long pole; he hurries up the elevation._ CAPTAIN LOCKWOOD _stands below, facing him. Almost simultaneously with the entrance of the_ SIGNALMAN, GERTRUDE _runs in on veranda._
GERTRUDE. They are calling for a surgeon! Who is it? Brother!--you are safe,--ah! [_Uttering a scream, as she sees_ KERCHIVAL, _and falling on her knees at his side._] Kerchival! Forget those last bitter words I said to you. Can't you hear my confession? I do love you. Can't you hear me? I love you! [_The_ SIGNALMAN _is swinging the torch as the curtain descends,_ LOCKWOOD _looking right._
SCENE. _Same. It is now bright daylight, with sunshine flecking the foreground and bathing the distant valley and mountains._
DISCOVERED. JENNY, _on low stone post, looking left. As the curtain rises, she imitates Trumpet Signal No._ 19 _on her closed fists._
JENNY. What a magnificent line! [_Looking._] Guides-posts! Every man and every horse is eager for the next command. There comes the flag!
[_Trumpet Signal without, No._ 30.] To the standard! [_As the signal begins._] The regiment is going to the front. Oh! I do wish I could go with it. I always do, the moment I hear the trumpets. Boots and saddles! [_Imitates No._ 16.] Mount! [_Imitates No._ 37.] I wish I was in command of the regiment. It was born in me. [_Trumpet Signal No._ 48, _without._] Fours right! There they go! Look at those horses'
ears! [_Trumpet Signal No._ 39, _without._] Forward. [_Military band heard without--"The Battle Cry of Freedom"_ JENNY _takes att.i.tude of holding bridle and trotting._] Rappity--plap--plap--plap, etc. [_She imitates the motions of a soldier on horseback, stepping down to rock at side of post; thence to ground and about stage, with the various curvettings of a spirited horse. Chorus of soldiers without, with the band. The music becomes more and more distant._ JENNY _gradually stops as the music is dying away, and stands, listening. As it dies entirely away, she suddenly starts to an enthusiastic att.i.tude._] Ah! If I were only a man! The enemy! On Third Battalion, left, front, into line, march! Draw sabres! Charge! [_Imitates Trumpet Signal No._ 44. _As she finishes, she rises to her full height, with both arms raised, and trembling with enthusiasm._] Ah! [_She suddenly drops her arms and changes to an att.i.tude and expression of disappointment--pouting._]
And the first time Old Margery took me to papa, in her arms, she had to tell him I was a girl. Papa was as much disgusted as I was. But he'd never admit it; he says I'm as good a soldier as any of 'em--just as I am.
_Enter_ BARKET _on veranda, his arm in a sling._
BARKET. [_On veranda_] Miss Jenny!
JENNY. Barket! The regiment has marched away to the front, and we girls are left here, with just you and a corporal's guard to look after us.