“Was Mr. Hayne here when the row occurred?” asked the cavalryman, looking as though he wanted to hear something from the young officer who stood a silent witness.
“I don’t know,” replied Rayner. “It makes no difference, captain. It is not a case of witnesses. I shan’t prefer charges against the man. Come!” And he drew him hastily away.
Hayne stood watching them as they disappeared beyond the glimmer of his lamp. Then a hand was placed on his arm:
“Did you notice Captain Rayner’s face,—his lips? He was ashen as death.”
“Come in here with me,” was the reply; and, turning, Hayne led the post surgeon into the house.
There was an unusual scene at the matinee the following morning. When Captain Ray relieved Captain Gregg as officer of the day, and the two were visiting the guard-house and turning over prisoners, they came upon the last name on the list,—Clancy,—and Gregg turned to his regimental comrade and said,—
“No charges are preferred against Clancy, at least none as yet, Captain Ray; but his company commander requests that he be held here until he can talk over his case with the colonel.”
“What’s he in for?” demanded Captain Ray.
“Getting drunk and raising a row and beating his wife,” answered Gregg; whereat there was a titter among the soldiers.
“I never shtruck a woman in me life, sir,” said poor Clancy.
“Silence, Clancy!” ordered the sergeant of the guard.
“No, I’m blessed if I believe that part of it, Clancy, drunk or no drunk,” said the new officer of the day.—“Take charge of him for the present, sergeant.” And away they went to the office.
Captain Rayner was in conversation with the commanding officer as they entered, and the colonel was saying,—
“It is not the proper way to handle the case, captain. If he has been guilty of drunkenness and disorderly conduct he should be brought to trial at once.”
“I admit that, sir; but the case is peculiar. It was Mrs. Clancy that made all the noise. I feel sure that after he is perfectly sober I can give him such a talking-to as will put a stop to this trouble.”
“Very well, sir. I am willing to let company commanders experiment at least once or twice on their theories, so you can try the scheme; but we of the ——th have had some years of experience with the Clancys, and were not a little amused when they turned up again in our midst as accredited members of your company.”
“Then, as I understand you, colonel, Clancy is not to be brought to trial for this affair,” suddenly spoke the post surgeon.
Everybody looked up in surprise. “Pills” was the last man, ordinarily, to take a hand in the “shop talk” at the morning meetings.
“No, doctor. His captain thinks it unnecessary to prefer charges.”
“So do I, sir; and, as I saw the man both before and after his confinement last night, I do not think it was necessary to confine him.”