The Shades of the Wilderness eBook

Joseph Alexander Altsheler
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 332 pages of information about The Shades of the Wilderness.

THE MISSING PAPER

Harry and Dalton did not awake until late the next morning and they found they had not suffered at all from sleeping between four walls and under a roof.  Their lungs were full of fresh air, and youth with all its joyous irresponsibility had come back.  Harry sprang out of bed.

“Up! up! old boy!” Harry cried to Dalton.  “Don’t you hear the bugles calling? not to battle but to pleasure!  There is no enemy in our front!  We don’t have to cross a river with an overwhelming army pressing down upon us!  We don’t have to ride before the dawn on a scout which may lead us into a thicket full of hostile riflemen.  We’re in a city, boy, and our business now is beauty and pleasure!”

“Harry,” said Dalton, “you ought to go far.”

“Why, George?  What induces you to assume the role of a prophet concerning me?”

“Because you’re so full of life.  You’re so keen about everything.  You must have a heart and lungs of extra steam power.”

“But I notice you don’t say anything about brain power.  Maybe you think it’s the quiet, rather silent fellows like yourself, George, who have an excess of that.”

“None of your irony.  Am I not looking forward to this ball as much as you are?  I was a boy when I entered the war, Harry, but two years of fighting day and night age one terribly.  I feel as if I could patronize any woman under twenty-five, and treat her as quite a simple young thing.”

“Try it, George, and see what happens to you.”

“Oh, no!  I merely said I felt that way.  I’ve too much sense to put it into action.”

“Do you know, George, that when this war is over it will be really time for us to be thinking about girls.  We’ll be quite old enough.  They say that many of the Yankee maidens in Philadelphia and New York are fine for looks.  I wonder if they’ll cast a favoring eye on young Southern officers as our conquering armies go marching down their streets!”

“It’s too remote.  Don’t think about it, Harry.  Richmond will do us for the present.”

“But you can let a fellow project his mind into the future.”

“Not so far that we’ll be marching as conquerors through Philadelphia and New York.  Let’s deal with realities.”

“I’ve always thought there was something of the Yankee about you, George, not in political principles—­I never question your devotion to the cause—­ but in calculating, weighing everything and deciding in favor of the one that weighs an ounce the most.”

“Are you about through dressing?  You’ve taken a minute longer than the regular time.”

There was a knock at the door, and, when Dalton opened it a few inches, a black head announced through the crack that breakfast was ready.

“See what a disgrace you’re bringing upon us,” said Dalton.  “Delaying everything.  Mrs. Lanham will say that we’re two impostors, that such malingerers cannot possibly belong to the Army of Northern Virginia.”

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Project Gutenberg
The Shades of the Wilderness from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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