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IX IN THE HOUR OF DEFEAT As the dusk fell Dan found himself on the road with a little company of stragglers, flying from the pursuing cavalry that drew off slowly as the darkness gathered. He had lost his regiment, and, as he went on, he began calling out familiar names, listening with strairred ears for an answer that would tell of a friend's escape. At last he caught the outlines of a gigantic figure relieved otl a hii10ck against the pale green west, and, with a shout, he hurried through the swarm of fugitives, and overtook Pinetop, who had stooped to tie his shoe on with a leather strap. " Thank God, old man! " he cried. "Where are the others?" Pinetop, panting yet imperturbable, held out a steady hand. "The Lord knows," he replied. "Some of 'em air here an' some ain't. I was gain' back agin to git the flag, when I saw you chased like a fox across the creek with it hangin' on yo' back. Then I kinder thought it wouldn't do for none of the regiment to answer when Marse Robert called, so I came along right fast and kep' hopin' you would follow." " Here I am," responded Dan, " and here are the 474 In the Hour of Defeat 475 colours." He twined the silk more closely about his arm, gloating over his treasure in the twilight. Pinetop stretched out his great rough hand and touched the flag as gently as if it were a woman. "I've fought under this here thing goin' on four years now," he said, " and I reckon when they take it prisoner, they take me along with it." "And me," added Dan; "poor Granger went down, you know, just as I took it from him. He fell fighting with the pole." I' Wall, it's a better way than most," Pinetop replied , "an' when the angel begins to foot up my account on Jedgment Day, I shouldn't mind his cappin' the whole list with' he lost his life, but he didn't lose his flag.' To make a blamed good fight is what the Lord wants of us, I reckon, or he wouldn't have made our hands itch so when they touch a musket." Then they trudged on silently, weak from hunger , sickened by defeat. When, at last, the disorganized column halted, and the men fell to the ground upon their rifles, Dan kindled a fire and parched his com above the coals. After it was eaten they lay down side by side and slept peacefully on the edge of an old field. For three days they marched steadily onward, securing meagre rations in a little town where they rested for a while, and pausing from time to time, to beat off a feigned attack. Pinetop, cheerftll, strong, undaunted by any hardship, set his face unflinchingly toward the battle that must clear a road for them through Grant's lines. Had he met alone a squadron of cavalry in the field, he would, The Battle-Ground probably, have taken his stand against a pine, and aimed his musket as coolly as if a squirrel were the mark. With his sunny temper, and his gloomy gospel of predestination, his heart could swell with hope even while he fought single-handed in the face of big battalions. What concerned him, after all, was not so much the chance of an ultimate victory for the cause, as the determination in his own mind to fight it out as long as he had a cartridge remaining in his box. As his fathers had kept the frontier, so he meant, on his own account, to keep Virginia. On the afternoon of the third day, as the little company drew near to Appomattox Court House, it found the road blocked with abandoned guns, and lined by exhausted stragglers, who had gone down at the last halting place. As it filed into an open field beyond a wooded level, where a few campfires glimmered, a group of Federal horsemen clattered across the front, and, as if by instinct , the column formed into battle line, and the hand of every man was on the trigger of his musket. " Don't fire, you fools! " called an officer behind them, in a voice sharp with irritation. "The army has surrendered! " " What! Grant surrendered?" thundered the line, with muskets at a trail as it rushed into the open. " No, you blasted fools - we've surrendered," shouted...


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