The Girl at the Halfway House eBook

Emerson Hough
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 250 pages of information about The Girl at the Halfway House.

CHAPTER III

THE VICTORY

The bandmaster marshalled his music at the head of the column of occupation which was to march into Louisburg.  The game had been admirably played.  The victory was complete.  There was no need to occupy the trenches, for those who lay in them or near them would never rally for another battle.  The troops fell back behind the wood through which they had advanced on the preceding day.  They were to form upon the road which had been the key of the advance, and then to march, horse and foot in column, into Louisburg, the place of honour at the head being given to those who had made the final charge to the last trench and through the abattis.  Gorged with what it had eaten, the dusty serpent was now slothful and full of sleep.  There was no longer need for hurry.  Before the middle of the morning the lines would start on the march of the few short miles.

During the delay a young officer of engineers, Captain Edward Franklin by name, asked permission of his colonel to advance along the line of march until he came to the earthworks, to which he wished to give some examination, joining his regiment as it passed beyond the fortifications on its march.  The colonel gave his consent, not altogether willingly.  “You may see more over there than you want to see, young man,” said he.

Franklin went on, following as nearly as he could the line of the assault of the previous day, a track all too boldly marked by the horrid debris of the fight.  As he reached the first edge of the wood, where the victorious column had made its entrance, it seemed to him that there could have been no such thing as war.  A gray rabbit hopped comfortably across the field.  Merry squirrels scampered and scolded in the trees overhead.  The jays jangled and bickered, it is true, but a score of sweet-voiced, peaceful-throated birds sang bravely and contentedly as though there had never been a sound more discordant than their own speech.  The air was soft and sweet, just cold enough to stir the leaves upon the trees and set them whispering intimately.  The sky, new washed by the rain which had fallen in the night, was clean and bright and sweet to look upon, and the sun shone temperately warm.  All about was the suggestion of calm and rest and happiness.  Surely it had been a dream!  There could have been no battle here.

This that had been a dream was changed into a horrid nightmare as the young officer advanced into the wood.  About him lay the awful evidences.  Coats, caps, weapons, bits of gear, all marked and emphasized with many, many shapeless, ghastly things.  Here they lay, these integers of the line, huddled, jumbled.  They had all the contortions, all the frozen ultimate agonies left for survivors to see and remember, so that they should no more go to war.  Again, they lay so peacefully calm that all the lesson was acclaim

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The Girl at the Halfway House from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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