"I move that Gideon K. Irons Camp of
United Confederate Veterans, here assembled,
march in a body right now to save ef we can
these poor Eyetalians who are strangers in a
strange and a hosstil land from bein' mistreated,
and to save ef we can our misguided fellow
townsmen from sufferiii' the consequences of
their own folly and their own foolishness. Do I
hear a second to that motion?"
Did he hear a second to his motion? He heard
twenty-five seconds to it, all heaved at him
together, with all the blaring strength of twenty-
five pairs of elderly lungs. Sergeant Jimmy
Bagby forgot parliamentary usage.
"Will we go?" whooped Sergeant Bagby,
waving his pudgy arms aloft so that his mittened
hands described whizzing red circles in the air.
"You betcher sweet life we'll go! We'll go
through hell and high water with you as our
commandin' officer, Billy Priest."
FORREST'S LAST CHARGE
"You betcher! That's the ticket!" A whoop
of approval went up.
"Well, then, ef that's the way you feel about
it come on!" their leader bade them; and they
rushed for the door, sweeping the circuit clerk
aside. "No; wait jest a minute!" He singled
out the jostled Mr. Milam. "Lishy, you've got
the youngest, spriest legs of anybody here. Run
on ahead won't you? and find Father Minor.
He'll be at the priest house back of his church.
Tell him to jine up with us as quick as ever the
Lord'll let him. We'll head down Harrison
Mr. Milam vanished. With a wave of his
arm, the judge comprehended those who re
"Nearly everybody here served one time or
another under old Nathan Bedford Forrest.
The rest would 'a' liked to. I reckin this here is
goin' to be the last raid and the last charge that
Forrest's Cavalry, mounted or dismounted, ever
will make! Let's do it regular open up that
there wardrobe-chist yonder, some of you, and
git what's inside!"
Hurried old hands fumbled at the catches of
a weather-beaten oaken cabinet on the platform
and plucked forth the treasured possessions of
the Camp the dented bugle; the drum; the
slender, shiny, little fife; the silken flag, on its
short polished staff.
"Fall in by twos!" commanded Judge
Priest. " Forward march ! "
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
Half a minute later the gasjets that
lighted Kamleiter's Hall lighted only emptiness
an empty chest in a corner; empty chairs,
some overturned on their sides, some upright
on their legs ; an empty hall doorway opening on
an empty patch of darkness; and one of Judge
Priest's flannel-lined galoshes, gaping emptily
where it had been forgotten.
From the street below rose a measured thud
of feet on the hard-packed snow. Forrest's Cav
alry was on the march!
With bent backs straightening to the call
of a high, strong impulse; with gimpy, gnarled
legs rising and falling in brisk unison; with
heads held high and chests puffed out; with
their leader in front of them and thei flag
going before them Forrest's Cavalry went
forward. Once and once only the double line
stopped as it traversed the town, lying snug
and for the most part still under its blanketing
As the little column of old men swung round
the first corner below Kamleiter's Hall, the lights
coming through the windows of Tony Palassi's
fruit shop made bright yellow patches on the
white path they trod.
"Halt!" ordered Judge Priest suddenly; and
he quit his place in the lead and made for the
"If you're looking for Tony to go along and
translate you're wasting time, Judge," sang out
Mr. Crump. "He's out of town."
FORREST'S LAST CHARGE
"Is he?" said Judge Priest. "Well, that's
As though to make sure, he peered in through
the glassed upper half of the fruitshop door.
Within might be seen Mrs. Delia Callahan Pa-
lassi, wife of the proprietor, putting the place to
rights before locking it up for the night; and at
her skirts tagged Master Antonio Wolfe Tone
Palassi, aged seven, only son and sole heir of the
same, a round-bellied, red-cheeked little Italian-
Irish-American. The judge put his hand on the
latch and jiggled it.
"I tell you Tony's not there," repeated Mr.
If the judge heard him he paid no heed. He
went through that door, leaving his command
outside, as one might go who knew exactly what
he was about. Little Tony Wolfe Tone recog
nised an old friend and came, gurgling a wel
come, to greet him. Most of the children in
town knew Judge Priest intimately, but little
Tony Wolfe Tone was a particular favourite of
his; and by the same token he was a particular
favourite of Tony's.
Whatever Judge Priest said to Mrs. Palassi
didn't take long for the saying of it; yet it must
have been an argument powerfully persuading
and powerfully potent. It is possible mind
you, I don't make the positive assertion, but it
is possible he reminded her that the blood of
a race of fighting kings ran in her veins; for in
less than no time at all, when Judge Priest
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
reissued from the fruit shop, there rode pack-
fashion on his back a little figure so well bundled
up against the cold that only a pair of big
brown Italian eyes and a small, tiptilted Irish
nose showed themselves, to prove that Judge
Priest's burden was not a woolly Teddy-bear,
but a veritable small boy. No ; I'm wrong there.
One other thing proved it a woman standing
in the doorway, wringing her apron in her hands,
her face ablaze with mother love and mother
pride and mother fear, watching the hurrying
procession as it moved down the wintry street,
straight into the red glare on ahead.
The flimsy framework of resiny pine burned
fast, considering that much snow had lain on
the roof and much snow had melted and run
down the sides all day, to freeze again with the
coming of nighttime. One end of the barracks
had fallen into a muddle of black-charred ruina
tion. The fire ate its way along steadily, purring
and crackling and spitting as its red teeth bit
into the wetted boards. Above, the whole sky
was aglare with its wavering red reflections. The
outlines of the bowl-shaped flat stood forth dis
tinctly revealed in the glow of that great wooden
brazier, and the snow that covered the earth
was channelled across with red streaks, like spilt
Here, against the nearermost bank, the for
eigners were clumped in a tight, compact black
huddle, all scared, but not so badly scared that
FORRESTS LAST CHARGE
they would not fight. Yonder, across the snow,
through the gap where a side street debouched
at a gentle slope into the hollow, the mob ad
vanced men and half-grown boys to the
number of perhaps four hundred, coming to get
the man who had stabbed Beaver Yancy and
string him up on the spot and maybe to get a
few of his friends and string them up as an
added warning to all Dagos. They came on and
came on until a space of not more than seventy-
five yards separated the mob and the mob's
prospective victims. From the advancing mass
a growling of many voices rose. Rampant,
unloosed mischief was in the sound.
Somebody who was drunk yelled out shrill
profanity and then laughed a maudlin laugh.
The group against the bank kept silent. Theirs
was the silence of a grim and desperate resolu
tion. Their only shelter had been fired over
their heads; they were beleaguered and ringed
about with enemies; they had nowhere to run
for safety, even had they been minded to run.
So they would fight. They made ready with
their weapons of defence such weapons as they
A man who appeared to hold some manner of
leadership over the rest advanced a step from the
front row of them. In his hand he held an old-
fashioned cap-and-ball pistol at full cock. He
raised his right arm and sighted along the levelled
barrel at a spot midway between him and the
oncoming crowd. Plainly he meant to fire when
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
the first of his foes crossed an imaginary line.
He squinted up his eye, taking a careful aim;
and he let his trigger finger slip gently inside the
trigger guard but he never fired.
On top of the hill, almost above his head, a
bugle blared out. A fife and a drum cut in, play
ing something jiggy and brisk; and over the
crest and down into the flat, two by two,
marched a little column of old men, following
after a small silken flag which flicked and whis
pered in the wind, and led by a short, round-
bodied commander, who held by the hand a little
briskly trotting figure of a child. Tony Wolfe
Tone had grown too heavy for the judge to
carry him all the way.
Out across the narrow space between the
closing-in mob and the closed-in foreigners the
marchers passed, their feet sinking ankle-deep
into the crusted snow. Their leader gave a
command; the music broke off and they spread
out in single file, taking station, five feet apart
from one another, so that between the two hos
tile groups a living hedge was interposed. And
so they stood, with their hands down at their
sides, some facing to the west, where the Italians
were herded together, some facing toward the
east, where the would-be lynchers, stricken with
a great amazement, had come to a dead stand.
Judge Priest, still holding little Tony Wolfe
Tone's small mittened hand fast in his, spoke up,
addressing the mob. His familiar figure was
outlined against the burning barracks beyond
FORREST'S LAST CHARGE
him and behind him. His familiar whiny voice
he lifted to so high a pitch that every man and
boy there heard him.
"Feller citizens," he stated, "this is part of
Forrest's Cavalry you see here. We done sol-
dierin' oncet and we've turned soldiers ag'in;
but we ain't armed none of us. We've only
got our bare hands. Ef you come on we can't
stop you with guns; but we ain't agoin' to budge,
and ef you start shootin' you'll shorely git some
of us. So ez a personal favour to me and these
other gentlemen, I'd like to ast you jest to stand
still where you are and not to shoot till after you
see what we're fixin' to try to do. That's agree
able to you-all, ain't it? You've got the whole
night ahead of you there's no hurry, is there,
He did not wait for any answer from anyone.
By name he knew a good half of them; by sight
he knew the other half. And they all knew him;
and they knew Tony Palassi's boy; and they
knew Father Minor, who stood at his right hand;
and they knew the lame blacksmith and the
little bench-legged Jewish merchant, and the
rich banker and the poor carpenter, and the
leading wholesaler, and all the other old men
who stretched away from the judge in an uneven
line, like fence posts for a fence that had not
been built. They would not shoot yet; and, as
though fully convinced in his own mind they
would bide where they were until he was done,
and relying completely on them to keep their
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
unspoken promise, Judge Priest half -turned his
back on the members of the mob and bent over
"Little feller," he said, "y u ain't skeered,
Tony looked up at his friend and shook his
head stoutly. Tony was not scared. It was as
good as play to Tony all this was.
"That's my sandy little pardner," said Judge
Priest; and he put his hands under Tony's arms
and heaved the child back up on his shoulders,
and swung himself about so that he and Tony
faced the huddle of silent figures in the shadow of
"You see all them men yonder, don't you,
boy?" he prompted. "Well, now you speak up
ez loud ez you can, and you tell 'em whut
I've been tellin' you to say all the way down
the street ever since we left your mammy.
You tell 'em I'm the big judge of the big court.
Tell 'em there's one man among 'em who must
come on and go with me. He'll know and
they'll know which man I mean. Tell 'em that
man ain't goin' to be hurt ef he comes now.
Tell 'em that they ain't none of 'em goin' to be
hurt ef they all do what I say. Tell 'em Father
Minor is here to show 'em to a safe, warm place
where they kin spend the night. Kin you re
member all that, sonny -boy? Then tell 'em in
Eyetalian quick and loud."
And Tony Wolfe Tone told them. Unmindful
of the hundreds of eyes that were upon him
even forgetting for a minute to watch the fire
Tony opened wide his small mouth and in the
tongue of his father's people, richened perhaps
by the sweet brogue of his mother's land, and
spiced here and there with a word or two of
savoury good American slang, he gave the mes
sage a piping utterance.
They hearkened and they understood. This
baby, this bambino, speaking to them in a poly
glot tongue they, nevertheless, could make out
surely he did not lie to them! And the priest of
their own faith, standing in the snow close by
the child, would not betray them. They knew
better than that. Perhaps to them the flag, the
drum, the fife, the bugle, the faint semblance of
military formation maintained by these volun
teer rescuers who had appeared so opportunely,
promising succour and security and a habitation
for the night perhaps all this symbolised to them
organised authority and organised protection,
just as Judge Priest, in a flash of inspiration back
in Kamleiter's Hall, had guessed that it might.
Their leader, the man who held the pistol,
advanced a pace or two and called out some
thing; and when Tony Wolfe Tone, from his
perch on the old judge's shoulders, had answered
back, the man, as though satisfied, turned and
might be seen busily confabbing with certain of
his mates who clustered about him, gesticu
" Whut did he say, boy?" asked Judge Priest,
craning his neck to look up.
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
"He say, Mister Judge, they wants to talk
it over," replied Tony, craning his neck to look
"And whut did you say to him then?"
"I say to him: 'Go to it, kiddo!' '
In the sheltering crotch of little Tony's two
plump bestraddling legs, which encircled his
neck, the old judge chuckled to himself. A wave
of laughter ran through the ranks of the halted
mob Tony's voice had carried so far as that,
and Tony's mode of speech apparently had met
with favour. Mob psychology, according to
some students, is hard to fathom; according to
From the midst of the knot of Sicilians
a man stepped forth not the tall man with
the gun, but a little stumpy man who moved
with a limp. Alone, he walked through the
crispened snow until he came up to where
the veterans stood, waiting and watching.
The mob, all intently quiet once more, waited
and watched too.
With a touch of the dramatic instinct that
belongs to his race, he flung down a dirk knife
at Judge Priest's feet and held out both his
hands in token of surrender. To the men who
came there to take his life he gave no heed not
so much as a sidewise glance over his shoulder
did he give them. He looked into the judge's
face and into the face of little Tony, and into
the earnest face of the old priest alongside
"Boys" the judge lifted Tony down and,
with a gesture, was invoking the attention of
his townsmen "boys, here's the man who did
the knifin' this rnornin', givin' himself up to my
pertection and yours. He's goin' along with
me now to the county jail, to be locked up ez a
prisoner. I've passed my word and the word of
this whole town that he shan't be teched nor
molested whilst he's on his way there, nor after
he gits there. I know there ain't a single one of
you but stands ready to help me keep that prom
ise. I'm right, ain't I, boys?"
"Oh, hell, judge you win!" sang out a
member of the mob, afterward identified as one
of Beaver Yancy's close friends, in a humorously
creditable imitation of the judge's own earnest
whine. And at that everybody laughed again
and somebody started a cheer.
" I thought so," replied the judge. "And now,
boys, I've got an idea. I reckin, after trampin*
all the way down here in the snow, none of us
want to tramp back home ag'in without doin*
somethin' we don't feel like ez ef we want to
waste the whole evenin', do we? See that shack
burnin' down? Well, it's railroad property; and
we don't want the railroad to suffer. Let's put
her out let's put her out with snowballs!"
Illustrating his suggestion, he stooped,
scooped up a double handful of snow, squeezed
it into a pellet and awkwardly tossed it in the
general direction of the blazing barracks. It flew
wide of the mark and fell short of it; but his
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
intention was good, that being conceded.
Whooping joyously, four hundred men and half-
grown boys, or thereabouts such a number,
pouched their weapons and dug into the drifted
"Hold on a minute we'll do it to soldier
music!" shouted the judge, and he gave a signal.
The drum beat then ; and old Mr. Harrison Treese
buried the fife in his white whiskers and ripped
loose on the air the first bars of Yankee Doodle.
The judge molded another snowball for himself.
"All set? Then, ready! aim! fire!"
Approximately two hundred snowballs bat
tered and splashed the flaming red target. A
great sizzling sound rose.
Just after this first volley the only gun-powder
shot of the evening was fired. It came out after
ward that as a man named Ike Bowers stooped
over to gather up some snow his pistol, which he
had forgotten to uncock, slipped out of his
pocket and fell on a broken bit of planking.
There was a darting needle of fire and a smart
crack. The Sicilians wavered for a minute,
swaying back and forth, then steadied them
selves as Father Minor stepped in among them
with his arms uplifted; but Sergeant Jimmy
Bagby put his hand to his head in a puzzled sort
of way, spun round, and laid himself down full
length in the snow.
It was nearly midnight. The half -burned hull
of the barracks in the deserted bottom below the
Old Mjrt still smoked a little, but it no longer
blazecL Its late occupants all save one slept
in the P. A. & O. V. roundhouse, half a mile away,
under police and clerical protection; this one
was iu a cell in the county jail, safe and sound,
and It is probable that he slept also. That lin
guistic prodigy, Master Tony Wolfe Tone Pa-
lassi> being excessively awearied, snored in soft,
little-boy snores at his mother's side; and over
him she cried tears of pride and visited soft
kisses on his flushed, upturned face. To the fam
ily of the Palassis much honour had accrued
not forgetting the Callahans. At eleven o'clock
the local correspondent of the Courier- Journal
and other city papers had called up to know
where he might get copies of her son's latest
photograph for widespread publication abroad.
The rest of the town, generally speaking, was
at this late hour of midnight, also abed; but in
the windows of Doctor Lake's office, on the
second floor of the Planters' Bank building,
lights burned, and on the leather couch in
Doctor Lake's inner room a pudgy figure, which
breathed heavily, was stretched at full length,
its hands passively flat on its breast, its head
done up in many windings of cotton batting and
surgical bandages. Above this figure stood old
Doctor Lake, holding in the open palm of his
left hand a small, black, flattened object. The
door leading to the outer office opened a foot and
the woe-begone face and dripping eyes of Judge
Priest appeared through the slit.
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
"Get out!" snapped Doctor Lake without
turning his head.
"Lew, it's me!" said Judge Priest in the
whisper that any civilised being other than a
physician or a trained nurse instinctively
assumes in the presence of a certain dread visita
tion. "I jest natchelly couldn't wait no longer
not another minute ! I wouldn't 'a' traded one
hair off of Jimmy Bagby's old grey head fur all
the Beaver Yancys that ever was whelped. Lew,
is there a chance?"
"Billy Priest," said Doctor Lake severely,
"the main trouble with you is that you're so
liable to go off half-cocked. Beaver Yancy's
not going to die you couldn't kill him with an
ax. I don't know how that story got round
to-night. And Jim Bagby's all right too, except
he's going to have one whale of a headache to
morrow. The bullet glanced round his skull
and stopped under the scalp. Here 'tis I just
got it out. . . . Oh, Lord! Now look what
you've done, bursting in here and blubbering all
around the place!"
The swathed form on the couch sat up and
cocked an eye out from beneath a low-drawn
fold of cheesecloth.
"Is that you, Judge?" demanded Sergeant
Bagby in his usual voice and hi almost his usual
"Yes, Jimmy; it's me."
Judge Priest projected himself across the
room toward his friend. He didn't run; he
[ 322 ]
FORREST S LAST CHARGE
didn't jump; he didn't waddle he projected
"Yes, Jimmy, it's me."
"Are any of the other boys out there in the
"Yes, Jimmy; they're all out there, waitin'."
"Well, quit snifflin' and call 'em right in!"
said Sergeant Bagby crisply. "I've been tryin'
fur years to git somebody to set still long enough
fur me to tell 'era that there story about Gin'ral
John C. Breckenridge and Gin'ral Simon Bolivar
Buckner; and it seems like somethin' always
comes up to interrupt me. This looks like my
chance to finish it, fur oncet. Call them boys
ALONG and limber man leaned against
a doorjamb of the Blue Jug Saloon
and Short Order Restaurant, inhal
ing the mild clear air of the autumnal
day and, with the air of a man who amply is
satisfied by the aspect of things, contemplating
creation at large as it revealed itself along
Franklin Street. In such posture he suggested
more than anything else a pair of callipers en
dowed with reason. For this, our disesteemed
fellow citizen of the good old days which are
gone, was probably the shortest-waisted man
in the known world. In my time I have seen
other men who might be deemed to be exces
sively short waisted, but never one to equal
in this unique regard Old King Highpockets.
A short span less of torso, and a dime museum
would have claimed him, sure.
You would think me a gross exaggerator did
I attempt to tell you how high up his legs forked ;
suffice it to say that, as to his suspenders, they
crossed the spine just below his back collar
button. Wherefore, although born a Magee
and baptised an Elmer, it was inevitable in this
community that from the days of his youth
onward he should have been called what they
did call him. To his six feet five and a half
inches of lank structural design he owed the
more descriptive part of his customary title.
The rest of it the regal-sounding part of it
had been bestowed upon him in his ripened
maturity after he achieved for himself local
dominance in an unhallowed but a lucrative
Sitting down the above-named seemed a
person of no more than ordinary height, thi
being by reason of the architectural peculiar
ities just referred to. But standing up, as at
the present moment, he reared head and gander
neck above the run of humanity. From this
personal eminence he now looked about him
and below him as he took the sun. There was
not a cloud in the general sky; none in his
private and individual sky either. He had
done well the night before and likewise the
night before that; he expected to do as well or
better the coming night. Upstairs over the
Blue Jug King Highpockets took in gambling
both plain and fancy gambling.
There passed upon the opposite side of the
street one Beck Giltner. With him the tall
man in the doorway exchanged a distant and
[ 325 ]
OLD JUDGE PRIEST
formal greeting expressed in short nods. Be
tween these two no great amount of friendliness
was lost. Professionally speaking they were
opponents. Beck Giltner was by way of being
in the card and dicing line himself, but he was
known as a square gambler, meaning by that,
to most of mankind he presented a plane sur
face of ostensible honesty and fair dealing,
whereas within an initiated circle rumour had
it that his rival of the Blue Jug was so crooked
he threw a shadow like a brace and bit. Beck
Giltner made it a rule of business to strip only
those who could afford to lose their pecuniary
peltries. Minors, drunkards, half-wits and
chronic losers were barred from his tables. But
all was fish I use the word advisedly all was
fish that came to the net of Highpockets.
Beck Giltner passed upon his business. So
did other and more reputable members of
society. A short straggling procession of gen
tlemen went by, all headed westward, and each
followed at a suitable interval by his negro
"boy," who might be anywhere between seven