Uncle Sam! He it was whose uncertain steps made Rocket prick up his ears and listen, neighing at last a neigh of welcome, by which he, too, was recognized.
“De dear Father be praised if that be’nt Rocket hisself. I’ve found him, I’ve found my Massah Hugh. I tole Miss Ellis I should, ’case I knows all de way. Dear Massuh Hugh, I’se Sam, I is,” and with a convulsive sob the old negro knelt beside the white-faced man, who but for this timely aid could hardly have survived that fearful night.
HOW SAM CAME THERE
It is more than a year now since last we looked upon the inmates of Spring Bank, and during that time Kentucky had been the scene of violence, murder, and bloodshed. The roar of artillery had been heard upon its hills. Soldiers wearing the Federal uniform had marched up and down its beaten paths, encamping for a brief season in its capital, and then departing to other points where their services were needed more.
Morgan, with his fierce band of guerillas, had carried terror, dismay, and sometimes death, to many a peaceful home; while Harney, too, disdaining open, honorable warfare, had joined himself, it was said, to a horde of savage marauders, gathered, some from Texas, some from Mississippi, and a few from Tennessee; but none, to her credit be it said, none from Kentucky, save their chief, the Rebel Harney, who despised and dreaded almost equally by Unionist and Confederates, kept the country between Louisville and Lexington in a constant state of excitement.
At Spring Bank, well known as the home of stanch Unionists, nothing as yet had been harmed, thanks to Alice’s courage and vigilance, and the skill with which she had not only taught herself to handle firearms, but also taught the negroes, who, instead of running away, as the Wendell Phillips men of the North seem to believe all negroes will do, only give them the chance, remained firmly at their post, and nightly took turns in guarding the house against any attack from the guerillas.
Toward Spring Bank Harney had a peculiar spite, and his threats of violence had more than once reached the ears of Alice, who wisely kept them from the nervous, timid Mrs. Worthington. At her instigation, Aunt Eunice had left her home in the cornfield, and come to Spring Bank, so that the little garrison numbered four white women, including crazy Densie, and twelve negro servants.
As the storm grew blacker, it had seemed necessary for Colonel Tiffton openly to avow his sentiments, and not “sneak between two fires, for fear of being burned,” as Harney wolfishly told him one day, taunting him with being a “villainous Yankee,” and hinting darkly of the punishment preparing for all such.
The colonel was not cowardly, but as was natural he did lean to the Confederacy. “Peaceful separation, if possible,” was his creed; and fully believing the South destined to triumph, he took that side at last, greatly to the delight of his high-spirited Nell, who had been a Rebel from the first. The inmates of Spring Bank, however, were not forgotten by the colonel, and regularly each morning he rode over to see if all were safe, sometimes sending there at night one or two of his own field hands as body guard to Alice, whose courage and intrepidity in defending her side of the question he greatly admired.