Harry clutched the bottle, throwing down a ten-dollar bill (all the money he had about him) at Uncle Scip’s feet, and dragging Harold some hundred yards farther into the depths of the wood, seated him on a log, applied the turpentine plentifully to his feet, and then to his own.
All this time the baying of the hounds came nearer and nearer, till it seemed that the next moment would bring them into sight.
“Up!” cried Harry, flinging away the empty bottle, “one more tug for life and liberty, or we are lost!”
Harold did not speak, but hope and fear once more inspiring him with temporary strength, he rose and hurried on by the side of his friend. Coming presently to a cleared space, they almost flew across it, and gained the shelter of the woods beyond. The cry of the hounds was no longer heard.
“They’ve lost the scent, sure enough,” said Duncan, exultingly; “a little farther and I think we may venture to rest awhile, concealing ourselves in some thicket. Indeed ’twill now be safer to hide by day, and continue our journey by night.”
They did so, spending that and the next day in hiding, living upon roots and berries, and the next two nights in traveling in the supposed direction of the nearest Union camp, coming upon the pickets about sunrise of the third day. They were of Captain Duncan’s own regiment, and he was immediately recognized with a delighted, “Hurrah!”
“Hurrah for the Union and the old flag!” returned Harry, waving a green branch above his head, in lieu of the military cap he had been robbed of by his captors.
“In peace, love tunes
the shepherd’s reed;
In war, he mounts the warrior’s steed;
In halls, in gay attire is seen;
In hamlets, dances on the green;
Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And men below and saints above;
For love is heaven, and heaven is love.”
“Escaped prisoners from Andersonville, eh?” queried the guard gathering about them.
“Yes; and more than half-starved; especially my friend here, Captain Allison of the——”
But the sentence was left unfinished; for at that instant Harold reeled, and would have fallen but for the strong arm of another officer quickly outstretched to save him.
They made a litter and carried him into camp, where restoratives were immediately applied.
He soon recovered from his faintness, but was found to be totally unfit for duty, and sent to the hospital at Washington, where he was placed in a bed adjoining that of his brother Richard, and allowed to share with him in the attentions of Dr. King, Miss Lottie, and his own sister May.
How they all wept over him—reduced almost to a skeleton, so wan, so weak, so aged, in those few short months.