Silence at length settled upon the camp, and one by one the groups of comrades disbanded. The campfires were extinguished, and at an early hour sleep tenderly enfolded these guardians of their country’s peace and security.
The spring had come again, and a little more than its first month had elapsed when, early one morning, as the sun was stealing up softly from the east, and before it had brought the hour for the slumbering troops to be aroused by another rveille, or had gilded the hills and valleys with its light, Captain Marshall, accompanied by his faithful orderly, Franco, entered the half-slumbering town of Minneopoli and turned toward the inn, whence the coach was soon to leave for the nearest railway station.
“Lieutenant Styles will be in command, Franco, till I return, you know, and I fear he will form a dangerous substitute, with his affable nature,” said the captain, as the hour of parting drew near.
“Well, never mind that, captain; no matter how affable, we boys do not wish a new commander just now,” returned the true-hearted boy.
“Take care of your scalps, Franco. Don’t let the ‘red-skins’ surprise you while I am gone. There, I see the coach is ready. I must soon bid you adieu.”
“If I remember the bravery of my captain, the red devils won’t get my scalp, I’ll wager. But I hope they are settled for a time. Come back as soon as you can, captain, and in your absence think occasionally of Franco, will you? There comes the coach. The horses are fine and gay.”
“Rest assured, Franco, I will think of you, and often too. How I would like to take you with me! But take care of yourself. A month’s absence is not such a long time, after all. Good-by, my dear fellow, good-by;” and seating himself in the waiting coach, Captain Marshall waved an adieu to his sorrowful young companion, and at the same moment the coach driver hallooed, “All ready!” and gave a sharp crack of the whip; the horses dashed forward, and recruit and captain were soon separated-separated forever. In less time than a fortnight, Captain Marshall had accomplished his long and troublesome journey, and was safe once more within his native State.
“I tell you, Fred,” said the captain, one day when he was visiting a friend in the Queen City, “the agitated, portentous state of affairs in this section distresses and alarms me. I had no dream of the warlike aspect of this quiet Queen City of the Sea. I fancied we had all the trouble with us, in the north-west, among those wretched savages. I came home for a month of recreation and pleasure, and—” he uttered with slight hesitation—“for the fulfilment of my plighted troth; for the realization of the bright dream of a love that has brightened my heart for nearly two years. Yes, Fred, and if it were not for the business that takes me to fair Melrose, I should regret that my coming home had been just at this time. I tell you, my good fellow, the future portends evil, if not bloodshed.”