Ailsa Paige eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 337 pages of information about Ailsa Paige.

Berkley remembered seeing him do it twice; then remembered no more.  A blessed sense of rest soothed every bone; in the heavenly stillness and surcease from noise he drifted gently into slumber, into a deep dreamless sleep.

The old negro looked at him, aged face wrinkled in compassion.

“Po’ li’l sodger boy,” he muttered.  “Done gib me fo’ dollahs.  Lor’ Gor’ a’mighty!  Spec’ Mars Linkum’s men is all richer’n ole Miss.”

He cast another glance at the sleeping man, then picked up the worn, muddy boots, threw the soiled jacket and breeches over his arm, and shuffled off, shaking his grizzled head.

CHAPTER XVIII

It was still dark when he awoke with a violent start, dreaming of loud trumpets, and found himself sitting upright on his cot, staring into obscurity.

Outside on the veranda a multitude of heavy steps echoed and re-echoed over the creaking boards; spurs clinked, sabres dragged and clanked; a man’s harsh, nasal voice sounded irritably at intervals: 

“We’re not an army—­we’re not yet an army; that’s what’s the matter.  You can’t erect an army by uniforming and drilling a few hundred thousand clerks and farmers.  You can’t manufacture an army by brigading regiments—­by creating divisions and forming army corps.  There is only one thing on God’s long-enduring earth that can transform this mob of State troops into a National army—­discipline!—­and that takes time; and we’ve got to take it and let experience kick us out of one battle into another.  And some day we’ll wake up to find ourselves a real army, with real departments, really controlled and in actual and practical working order.  Now it’s every department for itself and God help General McClellan!  He has my sympathy!  He has a dirty job on his hands half done, and they won’t let him finish it!”

And again the same impatient voice broke out contemptuously: 

“War?  These two years haven’t been two years of war!  They’ve been two years of a noisy, gaudy, rough and tumble!  Bull Run was opera bouffe!  The rest of it has been one fantastic and bloody carnival!  Did anybody ever before see such a grandmother’s rag bag of uniforms in an American army!  What in hell do we want of zouaves in French uniforms, cavalry, armed with Austrian lances, ridiculous rocket-batteries, Polish riders, Hungarian hussars, grenadiers, mounted rifles, militia and volunteers in every garb, carrying every arm ever created by foreign armourers and military tailors! . . .  But I rather guess that the fancy-dress-ball era is just about over.  I’ve a notion that we’re coming down to the old-fashioned army blue again.  And the sooner the better.  I want no more red fezzes and breeches in my commands for the enemy to blaze at a mile away!  I want no more picturesque lances.  I want plain blue pants and Springfield rifles, by God!  And I guess I’ll get them, if I make noise enough in North America!”

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Ailsa Paige from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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