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The Iron Game eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 420 pages of information about The Iron Game.

CHAPTER XIII.

A COMEDY OF TERRORS.

When Jack, the day after the battle, found himself able to take account of what was going on, he closed his eyes again with a deep groan, believing in a vague glimpse of peaceful rest that his last confused sensation was real—­that he was dead.  But there were no airy aids of languorous ease to perpetuate or encourage this delusion.  Sharp pains racked his head; his right arm burned and twinged as though he had thrust it into pricking flames.  Loud voices about, but invisible to him, were swearing and gibing.  He was lying on his back, his head on a line with his body.  A regular movement, broken by joltings that sent torturing darts through his whole frame, told him without much conjecture that he was in an ambulance.  The accent of the voices outside told him that it was a rebel ambulance and not a Northern one he was in.  He tried to raise his head to see his companions, but he might as well have been nailed to the cross, so far as pain and helplessness went.  Then he lost the thread of his thought.  He heard, in a vague, far-off voice, men talking: 

“We’ll catch old Abe on our next trip ef we go on like this—­eh, Ben?”

“I reckon.  I’m jess going to take a furlough now.  Hain’t seen my girl fo’ foah months.”

“How much did you pick up?”

“I’ve got five gold watches and right smart o’ shinplasters, I don’t reckon they’ll pass in our parts, but I’m going to trade ’em off with some of these wounded chaps.  They’ll give gold for ’em fast enough.”

“I got a heap of gold watches, jackknives, and sech.  I don’t know what in the land to do with ’em.  Suppose we can sell ’em in Richmond?”

“Yes—­but how are we going to get to Richmond?  We’re ordered to dump these Yanks at Newmarket and go back.  Ef we don’t get to Richmond, our watches ain’t worth a red cent.  Jess like’s not old Bory’ll issue an order to turn everything in.  I’m blamed if I will!”

“Look yere, Ben, do you see that road off there to the right?”

“Yes, I do, but I don’t see that it’s different from any other road.”

“Don’t you?  Well, honey, it’s mitey sight different from all the roads you ever saw.  It takes you where you don’t want to go.”

“What do you mean, Bob?”

“I jess mean that ar road goes to Newmarket, where these Yanks are ordered, but we’ve lost it and we shall come out in about an hour and a half at the junction, whar th’ train goes on to Richmond.  See?”

“Bob Purvis, you are a general, suah,” and then there followed low, rollicking laughter, mingled with a gurgling as of a liquid swallowed from a flask.  “But how’ll we manage at the junction?  We can’t go right on the cars?  There is some hocus-pocus about everything you do in the army.”

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