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want that cavalry. Lieutenant," turning to one of his staff, "ride off
to the left and find Colonel Stilton. Tell him that I need a charge in
ten minutes."

Presently cannon opened from that part of the ridge still held by the
Confederates, the shells tearing through or over the dissolving groups
of their right wing, and cracking viciously above the heads of the
victorious Unionists. The explosions followed each other with stunning
rapidity, and the shrill whirring of the splinters was ominous. Men
began to fall again in the ranks or to drop out of them wounded. Of
all this Waldron took no further note than to ride hastily to the brow
of the ridge and look for his own artillery.

"See how he attinds to iverything himself," said Major Gahogan, who
had cantered up to the side of Fitz Hugh. "It's just a matther of
plain business, an' he looks after it loike a business man. Did ye see
us, though, Captin, whin we come in on their right flank? By George,
we murthered um. There's more'n a hundred lyin' in hapes back there.
As for old Stilton, I just caught sight of um behind that wood to our
left, an' he's makin' for the enemy's right rair. He'll have lots o'
prisoners in half an hour."

When Waldron returned to the group he was told of his cavalry's
whereabouts, and responded to the information with a smile of
satisfaction.

"Bradley is hurrying up," he said, "and Taylor is pushing their left
smartly. They will make one more tussle to recover their line of
retreat; but we shall smash them from end to end and take every gun."

He galloped now to his infantry, and gave the word "Forward!" The
three regiments which composed the _échelon_ were the Fifth on the
right, the Seventh fifty yards to the rear and left of the Fifth, the
Tenth to the rear and left of the Seventh. It was behind the Fifth,
that is the foremost battalion, that the brigade commander posted
himself.

"Do _you_ mean to stay here, Colonel?" asked Fitz Hugh, in surprise
and anxiety.

"It is a certain victory now," answered Waldron, with a singular
glance upward. "My life is no longer important. I prefer to do my duty
to the utmost in the sight of all men."

"I shall follow you and do mine, Sir," said the Captain, much moved,
he could scarcely say by what emotions, they were so many and
conflicting.

"I want you other wheres. Ride to Colonel Taylor at once, and hurry
him up the hill. Tell him the enemy have greatly weakened their left.
Tell him to push up everything, infantry, and cavalry, and artillery,
and to do it in haste."

"Colonel, this is saving my life against my will," remonstrated Fitz
Hugh.

"Go!" ordered Waldron, imperiously. "Time is precious."

Fitz Hugh dashed down the slope to the right at a gallop. The brigade
commander turned tranquilly, and followed the march of his _échelon_.
The second and decisive crisis of the little battle was approaching,
and to understand it we must glance at the ground on which it was to
be fought. Two hostile lines were marching toward each other along the
broad, gently rounded crest of the hill and at right angles to its
general course. Between these lines, but much the nearest to the Union
troops, a spacious road came up out of the forest in front, crossed
the ridge, swept down the smooth decline in rear, and led to a single
wooden bridge over a narrow but deep rivulet. On either hand the road
was hedged in by a close board fence, four feet or so in height. It
was for the possession of this highway that the approaching lines were
about to shed their blood. If the Confederates failed to win it, all
their artillery would be lost, and their army captured or dispersed.

The two parties came on without firing. The soldiers on both sides
were veterans, cool, obedient to orders, intelligent through long
service, and able to reserve all their resources for a short-range
and final struggle. Moreover, the fences as yet partially hid them
from each other, and would have rendered all aim for the present vague
and uncertain.

"Forward, Fifth!" shouted Waldron. "Steady. Reserve your fire." Then,
as the regiment came up to the fence, he added, "Halt; right dress.
Steady, men."

Meantime he watched the advancing array with an eager gaze. It was a
noble sight, full of moral sublimity, and worthy of all admiration.
The long, lean, sunburned, weather-beaten soldiers in ragged gray
stepped forward, superbly, their ranks loose, but swift and firm, the
men leaning forward in their haste, their tattered slouch hats pushed
backward, their whole aspect business-like and virile. Their line was
three battalions strong, far outflanking the Fifth, and at least equal
to the entire _échelon_. When within thirty or forty yards of the
further fence they increased their pace to nearly a double-quick, many
of them stooping low in hunter fashion, and a few firing. Then Waldron
rose in his stirrups and yelled, "Battalion! ready - aim - aim low.
Fire!"

There was a stunning roar of three hundred and fifty rifles, and a
deadly screech of bullets. But the smoke rolled out, the haste to
reload was intense, and none could mark what execution was done.
Whatever the Confederates may have suffered, they bore up under the
volley, and they came on. In another minute each of those fences, not
more than twenty-five yards apart, was lined by the shattered fragment
of a regiment, each firing as fast as possible into the face of the
other. The Fifth bled fearfully: it had five of its ten company
commanders shot dead in three minutes; and its loss in other officers
and in men fell scarcely short of this terrible ratio. On its left the
Seventh and the Tenth were up, pouring in musketry, and receiving it
in a fashion hardly less sanguinary. No one present had ever seen, or
ever afterward saw, such another close and deadly contest.

But the strangest thing in this whole wonderful fight was the conduct
of the brigade commander. Up and down the rear of the lacerated Fifth
Waldron rode thrice, spurring his plunging and wounded horse close to
the yelling and fighting file-closers, and shouting in a piercing
voice encouragement to his men. Stranger still, considering the
character which he had borne in the army, and considering the evil
deed for which he was to account on the morrow, were the words which
he was distinctly and repeatedly heard to utter. "Stand steady,
men - God is with us!" was the extraordinary battle-cry of this
backslidden clergyman, this sinner above many.

And it was a prophecy of victory. Bradley ran up his Napoleons on the
right in the nick of time, and, although only one of them could be
brought to bear, it was enough; the grape raked the Confederate left,
broke it, and the battle was over. In five minutes more their whole
array was scattered, and the entire position open to galloping
cavalry, seizing guns, standards, and prisoners.

It was in the very moment of triumph, just as the stubborn Southern
line reeled back from the fence in isolated clusters, that the
miraculous impunity of Waldron terminated, and he received his death
wound. A quarter of an hour later Fitz Hugh found a sorrowful group of
officers gazing from a little distance upon their dying commander.

"Is the Colonel hit?" he asked, shocked and grieved, incredible as the
emotion may seem.

"Don't go near him," called Gildersleeve, who, it will be remembered,
knew or guessed his errand in camp. "The Chaplain and surgeon are
there. Let him alone."

"He's going to render his account," added Gahogan. "An' whativer he's
done wrong, he's made it square to-day. Let um lave it to his
brigade."

Adjutant Wallis, who had been blubbering aloud, who had cursed the
rebels and the luck energetically, and who had also been trying to
pray inwardly, groaned out, "This is our last victory. You see if it
ain't. Bet you two to one."

"Hush, man!" replied Gahogan. "We'll win our share of um, though we'll
have to work harder for it. We'll have to do more ourselves, an' get
less done for us in the way of tactics."

"That so, Major," whimpered a drummer, looking up from his duty of
attending to a wounded comrade. "He knowed how to put his men in the
right place, and his men knowed when they was in the right place. But
it's goin' to be uphill through the steepest part of hell the rest of
the way."

Soldiers, some of them weeping, some of them bleeding, arrived
constantly to inquire after their commander, only to be sent quietly
back to their ranks or to the rear. Around lay other men - dead
men, and senseless, groaning men - all for the present unnoticed.
Everything, except the distant pursuit of the cavalry, waited for
Waldron to die. Fitz Hugh looked on silently, with the tears of
mingled emotions in his eyes, and with hopes and hatreds expiring in
his heart. The surgeon supported the expiring victor's head, while
Chaplain Colquhoun knelt beside him, holding his hand and praying
audibly. Of a sudden the petition ceased, both bent hastily toward the
wounded man, and after what seemed a long time exchanged whispers.
Then the Chaplain rose, came slowly toward the now advancing group
of officers, his hands outspread toward heaven in an attitude of
benediction, and tears running down his haggard white face.

"I trust, dear friends," he said, in a tremulous voice, "that all is
well with our brother and commander. His last words were, 'God is with
us.'"

"Oh! but, man, _that_ isn't well," broke out Gahogan, in a groan.
"What did ye pray for his sowl for? Why didn't ye pray for his loife?"

Fitz Hugh turned his horse and rode silently away. The next day he was
seen journeying rearward by the side of an ambulance, within which lay
what seemed a strangely delicate boy, insensible, and, one would say,
mortally ill.




SPLIT ZEPHYR.

AN ATTENUATED YARN SPUN BY THE FATES.

BY HENRY A. BEERS

_Century Magazine, June, 1883._


It was the evening of Commencement Day. The old church on the green,
which had rung for many consecutive hours with the eloquence of slim
young gentlemen in evening dress, exhorting the Scholar in Politics or
denouncing the Gross Materialism of the Age, was at last empty and
still. As it drew the dewy shadows softly about its eaves and filled
its rasped interior with soothing darkness, it bore a whimsical
likeness to some aged horse which, having been pestered all day with
flies, was now feeding in peace along the dim pasture.

It was Clay who suggested this resemblance, and we all laughed
appreciatively, as we used to do in those days at Clay's clever
sayings. There were five of us strolling down the diagonal walk to
our farewell supper at "Ambrose's." Arrived at that refectory, we
found it bare of guests and had things quite to ourselves. After
supper, we took our coffee out in the little court-yard, where a
fountain dribbled, and the flutter of the grape-leaves on the
trellises in the night wind invited to confidences.

"Well, Armstrong," began Doddridge, "where are you going to spend the
vacation?"

"Vacation!" answered Armstrong; "vacations are over for me."

"You're not going to work for your living at once?" inquired Berkeley.

"I'm going to work to-morrow," replied Armstrong, emphatically: "I'm
going down to New York to enter a law office."

"I thought you had some notion of staying here and taking a course of
graduate study."

"No, sir! The sooner a man gets into harness, the better. I've wasted
enough time in the last four years. The longer a man loafs around in
this old place, under pretense of reading and that kind of thing, the
harder it is for him to take hold."

Armstrong was a rosy little man, with yellow hair and light eyes. His
expression was one of irresolute good nature. His temper was sanguine
and expansive, and he had been noted in college for anything but
concentration of pursuit. He was gregarious in his habits, susceptible
and subject to sudden enthusiasms. His good nature made him a victim
to all the bores and idlers in the class, and his room became a
favorite resort for men on their way to recitation, being on the
ground floor and near the lecture-rooms. They would drop in about half
an hour before the bell rang, and make up a little game of "penny
ante" around Armstrong's center-table. In these diversions he seldom
took part, as he had given it out publicly that he was "studying for a
stand"; but his abstinence from the game in no wise damped the spirits
of his guests. Occasionally his presence would receive the notice of
the company somewhat as follows:

No. 1. "Make less noise, fellows: Charley is digging out
that Puckle lesson."

No. 2. "You go into the bedroom, Charley, and shut the door,
and then you won't be bothered by the racket."

No. 3. "Oh, hang the Puckle! Come and take a hand, Charley.
We'll let you in this pool without an ante."

No. 4. "Why don't you get a new pack of cards, Charley? It's
a disgrace to you to keep such a dirty lot of old
pasteboards for your friends."

In face of which abuse, Armstrong was as helpless as Telemachus under
the visitation of the suitors. The resolute air with which he now
declared his intention of grappling with life had therefore something
comic about it, and Berkeley said, rather incredulously:

"I suppose you'll keep up your reading along with your law?"

"No," replied the other; "Themis is a jealous mistress. No; I'm going
to bone right down to it."

"Haven't you changed your ideal of life lately?" asked Clay, a little
scornfully.

"Perhaps I have," said Armstrong, "perhaps I've had to."

"What _is_ your ideal of life?" I inquired.

"Well, I'll tell you," he answered, draining his coffee-cup solemnly,
and putting it down with the manner of a man who has made up his mind.
The rest of us arranged ourselves in attitudes of attention. "My ideal
is independence," began Armstrong. "I want to live my own life; and as
the first condition of independence is money, I'm going for money.
Culture and taste, and all that, are well enough when a man can afford
it, but for a poor man it means just so many additional wants which he
can't gratify. My father is an educated man; a country minister with a
small salary and a large family; and his education, instead of being a
blessing, has been an actual curse to him. He has pined for all sorts
of things which he couldn't have - books, engravings, foreign travel,
leisure for study, nice people and nice things about him. I've made
up my mind that, whatever else I may be, I won't be poor, and I
won't be a minister, and I won't have a wife and brats hanging
to me. I tell you that, next to ill health, poverty is the worst
thing that can happen to a man. All the sentimental grievances
that are represented in novels and poetry as the deepest of human
afflictions, - disappointed ambitions, death of friends, loss of faith,
estrangements, having your girl go back on you, - they don't signify
very long if a man has sound health and a full purse. The ministers
and novel writers and fellows that preach the sentimental view of life
don't believe it themselves. It's a kind of professional or literary
quackery with them. Just let them feel the pinch of poverty, and then
offer them a higher salary or a chance to make a little 'sordid gain'
in some way, and see how quick they'll accept the call to 'a higher
sphere of usefulness.' Berk, hand over a match, will you; this cigar
has gone out."

"Loud cries of 'We will - we will'!" said Berkeley. "But can it be? Has
the poick turned cynic, and the sickly sentimentalist become a
materialist and a misogynist?"

(Armstrong was our class poet, and had worried the official muse on
Presentation Day to the utterance of some four hundred lines filled
with allusions to Alma Mater, Friendship's Altar, the Elms of Yale,
etc. His piece on that occasion had been "pronounced, by a well-known
literary gentleman who was present, equal to the finest productions of
our own Willis.")

"I'll bet the cigars," said Doddridge, "that Armstrong marries the
first girl he sees in New York."

"Yes," said Clay, "his boarding-house keeper's daughter."

"And has a dozen children before he is forty," added Berkeley; "a
dozen kids, and all of them girls. Charley is sure to be a begetter of
wenches."

"And writes birthday odes 'To My Infant Daughter' for the 'Home
Journal,'" continued Clay.

"No, no," said the victim of this banter, shaking his head solemnly.
"I shall give no hostages to Fortune. I mean to live snug and carry as
little sail as possible: to leave only the narrowest margin out for
Fate to tread on. The man who has the fewest exposed points leads, on
the whole, the happiest life. How can a man enjoy himself freely when
a piece of defective plumbing, the bursting of a toy pistol, the
carelessness of a nurse, may plunge him into a life-long sorrow? I
don't say it's a very noble life that I propose to myself, but it's a
safe one. I'm too nervous and anxious to stand the responsibilities of
matrimony."

"If you can't stand responsibility," said Doddridge, "I don't see why
you choose the law for a profession. You don't seem to me cut out for
a lawyer anyway. I always thought you meant to be some kind of a
literary chap."

"Yes," said Berkeley, "why don't you go for a snug berth under the
government, or study for a tutorship here? That's the life that would
suit you, old man."

"Not at all," answered Armstrong; "I have a horror of any salaried
position, or of any position where a man is obliged to conform his
habits and opinions to other people's. It is the worst sort of
dependence. Now a lawyer in successful practice, and especially if he
is a bachelor, is about as independent as a man can be. His relations
with his clients are merely professional, and what he does or thinks
privately is nobody's business."

"If you are going to be a mere lawyer," asked Clay, "what becomes of
your education and your intellectual satisfactions, etc.?"

"A man can get his best intellectual satisfactions out of the work of
his profession," answered Armstrong. "Besides, as to that, there's
time enough. Fifteen years of solid work will enable one to put by a
fair competence, if he lives carefully and has no one but himself to
support; and then he will be free to take up a hobby. Oh, I shall
cultivate a hobby or two after awhile. It keeps the mind healthy to
have some interest of the kind outside of one's business. I may take
to book-collecting or numismatics or raising orchids. Perhaps I may
become an authority on ancient armor; time enough for that by and by.
And then I can cut over to Europe every summer if I like, and no one
to interfere with my down-sittings or my up-risings, my goings-out or
my comings-in. Do you know," he went on, after a pause, "how I always
look to myself in the glass of the future? I figure myself like old
Tulkinghorn, in 'Bleak House,' - going down into his reverberating
vaults for a bottle of choice vintage, after the work of the day, and
then sitting quietly in the twilight in his dusky, old-fashioned law
chambers, sipping his wine while the room fills with the fragrance of
southern grapes. The gay old silver-top!"

There was silence for a few minutes after Armstrong had finished his
declaration. It was broken by Berkeley, who had risen, and was walking
up and down in front of the fountain with his hands thrust into his
pockets.

"You couldn't lead that sort of life if you tried," he said; "you
aren't built for it."

"Don't you make any mistake," rejoined the other; "it's the sort of
life I'm going to live."

"It's a cowardly life," retorted Berkeley.

"Did I say it wasn't? I said it was safe. You can call it what you
like."

"Well," replied Berkeley, seating himself again, "my ideal career is
just the opposite of that."

"Suppose you explain yours, then," said Armstrong.

Berkeley hesitated a few moments before beginning. He was a lean,
tallish fellow, with a Scotch cast of countenance, a small blue eye,
high cheek bones, a freckled skin, and whity-brown hair. He had a dry,
cautious humor, fed by much out-of-the-way reading. He had been
distinguished in college by methodical habits, a want of ambition, a
disposition to keep to himself, and a mixture of selfishness and
_bonhomie_ which made him a cold friend but an agreeable companion.
It was therefore with some surprise that we heard him deliver himself
as follows:

"I believe that the greatest mistake a man can make is in not getting
enough out of life. I want to lead a full life, to have a wide
experience, to develop my whole nature to the utmost, to touch mankind
at the largest possible number of points. I want adventure, change,
excitement, emotion, suffering even, - I don't care what, so long as it
is not stagnation. Just consider what there is on this planet to be
seen, learned, enjoyed, and what a miserably small share of it most
people appropriate. Why, there are men in my village who have never
been outside the county and seldom out of the township; who have never
heard a word of any language but English; never seen a city or a
mountain or the ocean - or, indeed, any body of water bigger than Fresh
Pond or the Hogganum River; never been in a theatre, steamboat,
library, or cathedral. Cathedral! Their conception of a church is
limited to the white wooden meeting-house at 'the center.' Their
art-gallery is the wagon of a travelling photographer. Their
metropolitan hotel is the stoop and bar-room of the 'Uncas House.'
Their university is the unpainted school-house on the hill. Their
literature is the weekly newspaper from the county town. But take the
majority of educated men even. What a rusty, small kind of existence
they lead! They are in a rut, just the same as the others, only the
rut is a trifle wider. If I had my way I would never do the same work
or talk with the same people - hardly live in the same place for two
days running. Life is too short to do a thing twice. When I come to
the end of mine I don't want to say _J'ai manqué la vie_; but make my
brag, with the Wife of Bath,

'Unto this day it doth myn herte bote
That I have had my world as in my time.'"

"Well, how are you going to do all those fine things?" inquired
Armstrong. "For instance, that about not living in one place two days
running. I'm afraid you'll find that inconvenient, not to say
expensive."

"Oh, you mustn't take me too literally. I may have to travel on foot
or take a steerage passage, but I shall keep going all the same. I
haven't made any definite plans yet. I shall probably strike for
something in the diplomatic line, - secretary of legation, or some
small consulship perhaps. But the principle is the main thing, and the
principle is: Don't do anything because it's the nearest and easiest
and most obvious thing to do, but make up your mind to get the best.
Look at the lazy way in which men accept their circumstances. There is
the matter of acquaintance, for instance - we let chance determine it.
We know the men that we can't help knowing, - the ones in the next
house, cousins and second cousins, business connections, etc. Here at
college, now, we get acquainted with the fellows at the eating club or
in the same society, or those who happen to sit next us in the
class-room, because their names begin with the same letter. That's it;
it's just a sample of our whole life. Our friendships, like everything
else about us, are determined by the alphabet. We go with the Z's
because some arbitrary system of classification has put us among them,
instead of fighting our way up to the A's, where we naturally belong.
The consequence is that one's friends are mostly dreadful bores."

"I'm sure we are all much obliged to you," murmured Clay,
parenthetically.

"There are about two or three thousand people in the world," continued
Berkeley, "supremely worth knowing. Why shouldn't _I_ know them? - - I
will! Everybody knows two or three thousand people, - mostly very
stupid people, - or, rather, he lets them know him. Why shouldn't he
use some choice in the matter? Why not know Thackeray and Carlyle,
Lord Palmerston and the Pope, and the Emperor of China and all the
great statesmen, authors, African explorers, military commanders,
artists, hereditary nobles, actresses, wits and belles of the best
society, instead of putting up with Tom, Dick, and Harry?"

"Berkeley, 'with whom the bell-mouthed flask had wrought!'" exclaimed
Clay. "Decidedly, Berk, you should take your coffee without cognac."

"Let me suggest," put in Doddridge, "that some of those parties you
mentioned are not so easy to get introductions to."

"Oh, I say again, you mustn't take me too literally. But even the top


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