“You’re pirates!” reiterated the northern, leader. “You’re border ruffians, and you want to take this boat. You’ll have to account for this.”
“We are ready to account for it,” said Dunwody. “Throw down your arms, or we will kill every man of you. At once!”
He swung heavily back on his support as he spoke. Clayton caught him by the arm. “You’re hit, Dunwody!” he said in a low voice.
“Yes, a little,” answered the other. “Don’t say anything.” Slowly he pushed on, directly up to Carlisle, who faced him fearless as ever. “Tell your men to throw down their guns!” demanded Dunwody once more.
“Attention, company!” called out the young Northerner. “Stack arms!”
Silently, in the dark, even in the confusion, the beleaguered men grouped together and leaned their rifles against this or that support. Silently they ranged themselves, some on the deck, some still upon the shore.
“Get lights now, at once!” commanded Dunwody. “We’ve got men hurt here. We’ll have to do something at once. Jamieson!” he cried out. “Are you hurt?”
“I’m all right,” answered Doctor Jamieson out of the darkness. “Not a scratch. But there’s a lot of our fellows down.”
“Take care of them,” said Dunwody. “We’ll attend to the rest of this business after that.”
A dismal sight enough was presented when finally a few half-hearted torches were pressed into use to produce a scant illumination. What had been a commonplace scene now was become one of tragedy. The bank of this willow-covered island had assumed the appearance of a hostile shore. Combat, collision, war had taken the place of recent peace and silence. The night seemed ominous, as though not even these incidents were more than the beginning of others yet more serious soon to come.
Out of the confusion at last there might have been heard the voice of Dunwody, calling again for Jamieson. There was work for the surgeon when the dead and injured of both sides at last were brought aboard the little steamer and ranged in a ghastly common row along the narrow deck. “Take care of them, Jamieson,” said Dunwody shortly. He himself leaned against the rail.
“You’re hurt yourself, Dunwody,” exclaimed Jamieson, the blood dripping from his fingers when he half rose. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing—I got a nick in my leg, I think, but I’m all right. See to the others.”
Jamieson bent over the body of young Desha, who had been first to suffer here on the debated ground of Missouri. He had been shot through the upper body and had died with little suffering. Of the assailing party two others also were beyond aid, one a young planter who had joined the party some miles back beyond St. Genevieve, the other a sallow example of the “poor white trash” who made a certain