Shenandoah Part 16

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BARKET. I've been watching the byes mesilf. [_Coming down._] If a little milithary sugar-plum like you, Miss Jenny, objects to not goin'

wid' 'em, what do you think of an ould piece of hard tack like me? I can't join the regiment till I've taken you and Miss Madeline back to Winchester, by your father's orders. But it isn't the first time I've escorted you, Miss Jenny. Many a time, when you was a baby, on the Plains, I commanded a special guard to accompany ye's from one fort to anither, and we gave the command in a whisper, so as not to wake ye's up.

JENNY. I told you to tell papa that I'd let him know when Madeline and I were ready to go.

BARKET. I tould him that I'd as soon move a train of army mules.

JENNY. I suppose we must start for home again to-day?

BARKET. Yes, Miss Jenny, in charge of an ould Sargeant wid his arm in a sling and a couple of convalescent throopers. This department of the United States Army will move to the rear in half an hour.

JENNY. Madeline and I only came yesterday morning.

BARKET. Whin your father got ye's a pa.s.s to the front, we all thought the fightin' in the Shenandoey Valley was over. It looks now as if it was just beginning. This is no place for women, now. Miss Gertrude Ellingham ought to go wid us, but she won't.

JENNY. Barket! Captain Heartsease left the regiment yesterday, and he hasn't rejoined it; he isn't with them, now, at the head of his company. Where is he?

BARKET. I can't say where he is, Miss Jenny. [_Aside._] Lyin' unburied in the woods, where he was shot, I'm afraid.

JENNY. When Captain Heartsease does rejoin the regiment, Barket, please say to him for me, that--that I--I may have some orders for him, when we next meet. [_Exit on veranda._

BARKET. Whin they nixt mate. They tell us there is no such thing as marriage in Hiven. If Miss Jenny and Captain Heartsease mate there, they'll invint somethin' that's mighty like it. While I was lyin'

wounded in General Buckthorn's house at Washington, last summer, and ould Margery was taking care of me, Margery tould me, confidentially, that they was in love wid aitch ither; and I think she was about right. I've often seen Captain Heartsease take a sly look at a little lace handkerchief, just before we wint into battle. [_Looks off._]

Here's General Buckthorn himself. He and I must make it as aisy as we can for Miss Jenny's poor heart.


BUCKTHORN. Sergeant Barket! You haven't started with those girls yet?

BARKET. They're to go in half an hour, sir.

BUCKTHORN. Be sure they do go. Is General Haverill here?

BARKET. Yes, sir; in the house with some of his staff, and the Surgeon.

BUCKTHORN. Ah! The Surgeon. How is Colonel West, this morning, after the wound he received last night?

BARKET. He says, himself, that he's as well as iver he was; but the Colonel and Surgeon don't agray on that subject. The dochter says he mustn't lave his room for a month. The knife wint dape; and there's somethin' wrong inside of him. But the Colonel, bein' on the outside himsilf, can't see it. He's as cross as a bear, baycause they wouldn't let him go to the front this morning, at the head of his regiment. I happened to raymark that the Chaplain was prayin' for his raycovery.

The Colonel said he'd court-martial him if he didn't stop that--quick; there's more important things for the Chaplain to pray for in his official capacity. Just at that moment the trumpets sounded, "Boots and Saddles." I had to dodge one of his boots, and the Surgeon had a narrow escape from the ither one. It was lucky for us both his saddle wasn't in the room.

BUCKTHORN. That looks encouraging. I think Kerchival will get on.

BARKET. Might I say a word to you, sur, about Miss Jenny?

BUCKTHORN. Certainly, Barket. You and old Margery and myself have been a sort of triangular mother, so to speak, to the little girl--since her own poor mother left her to our care, when she was only a baby, in the old fort on the Plains. [_At his side and unconsciously resting his arm over_ BARKET'S _shoulder, familiarly. Suddenly draws up._]

Ahem! [_Then gruffly._] What is it? Proceed.

BARKET. Her mother's bosom would have been the softest place for her poor little head to rest upon, now, sur.

BUCKTHORN. [_Touching his eyes._] Well!

BARKET. Ould Margery tould me in Washington that Miss Jenny and Captain Heartsease were in love wid aitch ither.

BUCKTHORN. [_Starting._] In love!

BARKET. I approved of the match.

BUCKTHORN. What the devil! [BARKET _salutes quickly and starts up stage and out._ BUCKTHORN _moves up after him; stops at post._ BARKET _stops in road._

BARKET. So did ould Margery.

BUCKTHORN. March! [_Angrily._ BARKET _salutes suddenly, and exits._]

Heartsease! That young jackanapes! A mere fop; he'll never make a soldier. My girl in love with--bah! I don't believe it; she's too good a soldier, herself.

[_Enter_ HAVERILL, _on veranda._]

Ah, Haverill!

HAVERILL. General Buckthorn! Have you heard anything of General Sheridan since I sent that despatch to him last evening?

BUCKTHORN. He received it at midnight and sent back word that he considers it a ruse of the enemy. General Wright agrees with him. The reconnaissance yesterday showed no hostile force, on our right, and Crook reports that Early is retreating up the Valley. But General Sheridan may, perhaps, give up his journey to Washington, and he has ordered some changes in our line, to be executed this afternoon at four o'clock. I rode over to give you your instructions in person. You may order General McCuen to go into camp on the right of Meadow Brook, with the second division. [HAVERILL _is writing in his note-book._

_Enter_ JENNY, _on veranda._

JENNY. Oh, papa! I'm so glad you've come. I've got something to say to you. [_Running down and jumping into his arms, kissing him. He turns with her, and sets her down, squarely on her feet and straight before him._

BUCKTHORN. And I've got something to say to you--about Captain Heartsease.

JENNY. Oh! That's just what I wanted to talk about.

BUCKTHORN. Fall in! Front face! [_She jumps into military position, turning towards him._] What's this I hear from Sergeant Barket? He says you've been falling in love.

JENNY. I have. [_Saluting._

BUCKTHORN. Young woman! Listen to my orders. Fallout! [_Turns sharply and marches to_ HAVERILL.] Order the Third Brigade of Cavalry, under Colonel Lowell, to occupy the left of the pike.

JENNY. Papa! [_Running to him and seizing the tail of his coat._]

Papa, dear!

BUCKTHORN. Close in Colonel Powell on the extreme left--[_Slapping his coat-tails out of_ JENNY'S _hands, without looking around._]--and hold Custer on the second line, at Old Forge Road. That is all at present.

[_Turns to_ JENNY.] Good-bye, my darling! [_Kisses her._] Remember your orders! You little pet! [_Chuckling, as he taps her chin; draws up suddenly; turns to_ HAVERILL.] General! I bid you good-day.

HAVERILL. Good-day, General Buckthorn. [_They salute with great dignity._ BUCKTHORN _starts up stage;_ JENNY _springs after him, seizing his coat-tails._

JENNY. But I want to talk with you, papa; I can't fall out. I--I haven't finished yet. [_Etc., clinging to his coat, as_ BUCKTHORN _marches out rapidly, in road,--holding back with all her might._

HAVERILL. It may have been a ruse of the enemy, but I hope that General Sheridan has turned back from Washington. [_Looking at his note-book._] We are to make changes in our line at four o'clock this afternoon. [_Returns book to pocket and stands in thought._] The Surgeon tells me that Kerchival West will get on well enough if he remains quiet; otherwise not. He shall not die by the hand of a common a.s.sa.s.sin; he has no right to die like that. My wife gave my own picture of herself to him--not to my son--and she looked so like an angel when she took it from my hand! They were both false to me, and they have been true to each other. I will save his life for myself.

_Enter_ GERTRUDE, _on veranda._

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Shenandoah Part 16 summary

You're reading Shenandoah. This manga has been translated by Updating. Author(s): Bronson Howard. Already has 94 views.

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