"You cannot expect me to remain long with you, as I am now in the line of promotion, and don't mean to stop short of a brigadier. But as long as I am your captain I hope you will appreciate your privileges."
Sam's speech was followed by a chorus of laughter, in which he joined heartily himself.
As for John's defection, nobody seemed to regret it much. It was generally felt that the company would have no difficulty in getting along without him.
ON the first of April Frank received the following letter from his father. It was the more welcome because nearly a month had elapsed since anything had been received, and the whole family had become quite anxious:
"Dear Frank," the letter commenced, "you are no doubt feeling anxious on account of my long silence. You will understand the cause of it when I tell you that since the date of my last letter I have been for a fortnight in the enemy's hands as a prisoner. Fortunately, I have succeeded in effecting my escape. You will naturally be interested to learn the particulars.
"Three weeks since, a lady occupying an estate about five miles distant from our camp waited on our commanding officer and made an urgent request to have a few soldiers detailed as a guard to protect her and her property from molestation and loss. Our colonel was not at first disposed to grant her request, but finally acceded to it, rather reluctantly, declaring that it was all nonsense. I was selected, with five other men, to serve as a guard. Mrs. Roberts--for this was her name--appeared quite satisfied to find her request granted, and drove slowly home under our escort.
"On arriving, we found a mansion in the old Virginia style, low in elevation, broad upon the ground, and with a piazza extending along the front. Surrounding it was a good-sized plantation. At a little distance from the house was a row of negro huts. These were mostly vacant, the former occupants having secured their freedom by taking refuge within our lines.
"As sergeant in command--you must know that I have been promoted--I inquired of Mrs. Roberts what danger she apprehended. Her answers were vague and unsatisfactory. However, she seemed disposed to treat me very civilly, and at nine o'clock invited the whole party into the house to partake of a little refreshment. This invitation was very welcome to soldiers who had not for months partaken of anything better than camp fare. It was all the more acceptable because outside a cold rain was falling, and the mod was deep and miry.
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