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The Gun-Bearer


By E. A. Robinson and G. A. Wall.









I2mo. Bound in Cloth, $1.00. Paper Cover, 50 Cents.

This is an entrancing romance dealing with the classic scenes
of Italy. To those who desire to behold with their own eyes
those scenes, it wO create a fresh spring of sentiment, and fill
them with unspeakable longing. To those who have visited the
fair and memory-haunted towers and towns of Florence, Rome
and Naples, it will revive their enthusiasm and refresh their
knowledge. Andersen published this novel immediately after
his return from Italy, and it created an extraordinary effect.
Those who had depreciated the author's talent came forward
voluntarily and offered him their homage. It is a work of such
singular originality and beauty that no analysis or description
could do it justice, and the universal admiration which it at once
excited has caused it to be read and reread throughout the world.

For sale by all booksellers and newsd 2alers, or sent, postpaid,
on receipt ,o: price, by the publishers,








Authors of "The Disk," etc.






I SEE the cloud of battle and the flame.
I hear the cannon roar, the crackling note
Of rifles and the clash of angry steel.
My pulses quicken and my brain is wild
With frenzied shouts and yells of men in strife.
There father, son and brother fearless stand
For all men hold most dear.

There, right and left, brave men are stricken down
Beneath the banner that they love so well !
And all the while, pulsating with the shriek
And hiss of shot and shell, with cries and groans
Of wounded, dying men, the sulph'rous air
Speaks to each sense, as if in thunder tones:
The price of peace is blood.






AR ! Ledger ! Midnight edition ! Fort
Sumter fired on !" was the cry which, at
two o'clock on the morning of the i3th
of April, 1 86 1, aroused the slumbering village in which
I lived. It was a cry which stimulated and thrilled
every fiber of my being, as I ran, splashing through
mud, darkness and rain, toward the Waytown Arms,
our village inn.

I had recognized the hoarse, familiar voice shouting
this stirring news as belonging to old Joe, the paper-
carrier, and though I was but a boy, I knew the storm
that had been threatening the safety of the Union had
burst upon us.

Joe was standing on the seat of a light wagon in the
open roadway before the tavern. His vehicle was
drawn by two small mules, whose sweating bodies
threw up clouds of steam, which the lantern in the

[7 ]


hands of the innkeeper scarcely penetrated, and in
which old Joe's form towered black and gigantic.

A surging crowd of hurriedly dressed men had al-
ready gathered around the wagon, and I could see the
gleam of papers as they were passed from hand to

Drawing near, I saw there was another person in
the wagon who was distributing the papers old Joe,
maintaining his lofty position above the heads of the
encircling crowd, and, whip in hand, as if impatient to
be off, had but the one care on his mind, to rouse the
heaviest sleeper in the village with this dreaded news.

A moment before silence had reigned in the unsus-
pecting security of our village, and I, too thoughtful
for sleep, by reason of the excited talk which we boys,
imitating our elders, had been indulging in at our sur-
reptitious meeting that evening, was standing by the
window of my room up under the roof, looking out
into the darkness and listening abstractedly to the drip,
drip of the rain from the eaves. Not a light was to
be seen anywhere ; utter gloom and, save the noise of
the rain, silence everywhere.

After a while I fancied that the echo of another
sound mingled with the patter of the water. It was
like the blast of a horn. I opened the window, that I
might hear better, and, listening with suspended breath,
heard the sound again, this time more plainly.

Toot ! Toot !

It was a horn, surely, but still far away.

Later I could hear the muffled rumble of wheels and
the thump of hoofs in the covered bridge at the north
end of the village and, when that ceased, the rattle of
wheels over stony ground and the sound of a hoarse
voice shouting something.

Others were waking in the village ; lights gleamed


from many windows, and the heads of many people
appeared, some with night-caps and some without.
Meanwhile the noise of hoof -beats and the sound of
wagon-wheels grew louder, the shouting more distinct,
and, when the team turned the corner, came full and
strong the cry of " War."

I made a short cut to 'the ground by way of my win-
dow, the porch underneath, and a drop from the edge
of that to the soft lawn below, and in a very short
space of time was, as you see me at the beginning of
this story, splashing through the darkness and mud on
my way to the inn, where I had rightly concluded Joe
would rein up.

By the time I arrived, however, the demand for
papers had been satisfied, and old Joe, anxious that no
one should get ahead of him in th"e village beyond
cried :

" Ready, boys ! G'lang !"

Then letting the whip fall on the steaming mules,
and with a final cry "War !" he went rattling and splash-
ing away into the darkness.

As Joe drove off, the crowd which he had called to-
gether began to diminish, some going one way and
some another, all anxious to know the particulars.

Many of the villagers went into the tavern, whither
I followed, but on presenting myself at the door of the
bar-room, where they seemed to have assembled, ad-
mittance was refused me.

" The room is already too full," they said.

On trying the office, I found gathered there several
of the boys whom I had left only a little while before.
They were all in one group at the end of the room,
watching with a mixture of diffidence and curiosity a
strange man who was reading one of Joe's papers by
the light of the desk-lamp.


Curiosity at last getting the best of every other feel-
ing, little Tommy Atkins ventured to break the silence
and ask the stranger the meaning of all the excitement.

" It means war, I suppose, boys," he said, in a kindly
voice, looking toward us ; then, probably surmising
that we were anxious to know all about it, he added :
" but would you like to hear what the paper says ?"

"Yes!" we cried, in chorus.

" Very well ; you sit down, and I'll read."

We scattered to seats, and the stranger, springing to
a place on the desk, by which he had been standing,
drew the lamp toward him, and holding the paper side-
wise, so that the light would fall strong on the print,


"'Charleston, S. C., April 12, 1861. The rebels opened fire
upon Fort Sumter at 4:30 this morning. The first shot was
fired from Fort Moultrie. The iron-clad floating battery and
the heavy batteries on Mt. Pleasant and Cummings Point im-
mediately followed suit. The encircling guns poured such a
storm of shot and shell upon the loyal fort that only the cannon
in the casemates could be used,' " etc., etc.

But everybody has read these first dispatches, and
been as excited over them as we were. Our youthful
spirits under the weird spell of the early morning
hour could not be held entirely in check, even by the
magnetic charm of the .stranger's voice and manner or
the strange news that he was reading, and broke
through all restraint at times. We were enthusiastic
partisans of the northern cause, and understood, in a
youthful way, the nature of the crisis. Yet I am sure
none of us really grasped the whole significance of this
news. The novelty wore away somewhat, I confess for
myself, as the stranger went on reading, and my atten-
tion wandered occasionally to outside matters.

I heard a wagon rattle up to the door, saw the post-


master come into the office, take his hat and coat from
a peg, and go out again. He was evidently thinking
deeply about something, for he took no notice of the
stranger, who kept on reading, nor of us boys sitting
around in silence. In a little while I heard the wagon
rumble away.

Again, the stranger had not long been reading be-
fore Joe Bentley, the blacksmith's son, who was sitting
astride a chair, with his elbows resting on the back,
began fumbling about in his pockets. Bringing forth,
at last, a short clay pipe, from which he carefully
shook the ashes, he crowded down what tobacco there
was in it, fished out a live coal from among the ashes
in the big fireplace, and proceeded to light it in an ab-
stracted sort of way. Then placing the pipe in one
corner of his mouth, where neither it nor the smoke
could interfere with his vision, he fixed his eyes un-
waveringly on the stranger.

Joe was the biggest and oldest one among us, and
we always looked up to him a little on that account ;
but now he seemed more than ever sedate and trust-

War and the horrors prophesied by the paper
might seem unreal and overdrawn to the rest of us,
but Joe must realize them, I thought, as I watched him
sitting there so stately and thoughtful with the stump
of a pipe between his teeth.

Tommy Atkins also seemed to realize something of
the terrible news. He, too, seemed absorbed by it, and
sat on the end of the newspaper-table, swinging his
feet and twisting and untwisting his cap, from which
he had long ago wrung out every drop of moisture, ut-
terly unconscious of everything about him except the
words of the stranger.

During this time it was evident, from noises which


came to us from the bar-room, that the older people
there assembled were not without their excitement.
First we would hear an indistinct roar, as if all were
talking at once. Then came a more decided shout,
with stamping of feet and thumping of chair-legs.
After this a short silence, and then the indistinct tones
of a single voice murmuring on, sometimes undisturbed,
sometimes interrupted by applause, and in one or two
cases completely overcome by noises of an opposite
character, not quick and soon over, like applause, but
slowly growing from a mere murmur persistently
louder and louder until the one voice was swallowed
up and lost.

This effort to drown the speaker's voice occurred but
twice. At the end of the second time I heard a scuf-
fling of feet, a crash as of breaking furniture, followed
by a loud, angry voice, shouting: "You lie! Take
that !" A pistol-shot added to the confusion, and as I
heard some one cry out : " Murder !" the stranger
jumped to the floor and darted through the doorway
leading to the bar-room.

Curiosity overcoming my judgment, I followed just
far enough to see the cause of this disturbance, and
there, close by the door, struggling in the grasp of two
of the worst roughs that ever disgraced the quiet of a
mill-village, was old white-haired Deacon Miller, his
face streaked with blood, his coat torn to shreds, his
hat off and a crowd of dazed and seemingly helpless
men watching this unnatural combat, yet making no
effort to offer the help that was needed.

Pressing through the crowd, the stranger jumped
like a tiger at the bully nearest him, and, with a well-
directed blow, knocked him senseless. Before the other
villain could appreciate the situation, he, too, received
a well-merited punishment, and the deacon, faint with


exhaustion, would have fallen to the floor had not the
stranger caught him in his arms.

A murmur of approval went up from the crowd, and
Billy Green, of the variety store, shouted :

" Kick the rascals into the road ! Hang 'em to the
sign-post !"

"Silence !" thundered the stranger, in a commanding
tone. " Can't you act like men ? Landlord, get out
your carriage and help me take the deacon to his
house. And you, sir," addressing Billy Green, "get me
a basin of water and a sponge."

It was soon discovered that the Deacon had received
only a slight flesh wound, and that, aside from the
damage sustained by his clothing and the exhaustion
resulting from rough handling, there was no serious
damage done.

After the carriage with the deacon, the stranger and
the landlord had rolled away, the two miscreants, who
by this time had gained their feet, muttered threats of
dire vengeance upon the deacon.

" You'd better let him alone," said Joe Bentley, who
was standing behind me. " If he can't take care of
himself, he's got a friend who can take of him."

The roughs looked at Joe angrily an instant, then
turned and left the tavern.

" They 're a bad lot," said Dick Wentworth, the sta-
tion-agent, as the door closed after them " a bad lot
and they ought to be watched. They're mean enough
to do anything."

" Who are they, anyhow ?" asked Billy Green, rather
out of contempt than for information.

" Jail-birds a couple of jail-birds of the worst sort,
just two weeks out of jails, where they've been board-
ing for the past three years for setting fire to the dea-
con's mill."


" They '11 get another three years if they don't make
themselves scarce 'round these parts," said Billy.

" Like enough like enough," answered Wentworth,
meditatively ; " but they'll be up to some deviltry before
they go. You see if they don't."

An hour was spent discussing the war-news, during
which the situation was viewed from every stand-

The village orator, Bert Smith, who, by the way, hap-
pened to be town-crier, had a good deal to say about
the Stars and Stripes, the scream of the eagle for
liberty, and rounded out his speech with the solemnity
of a prophet.

" I see," he said, " this beautiful land of ours deluged
with blood ; our sons slaughtered on our own hearth-
stones ; ruin, wretchedness, tears, despair and death,

Just as he had finished the landlord returned, and,
rushing into the room, shouted excitedly :

"The rascals! What's become of them? Where
are those brutes that struck the deacon ?"

" Gone !" answered Billy Green. 4t They left just after
you drove away."

" Boys," replied the landlord, " there 's going to be
trouble to-night, sure ; and those villains are going to
make it."

" What's the matter now?" asked Billy.

" Matter enough. The stranger and I took the dea-
con home, and were coming back through the woods.
When we 'd got as far as Paddock's, I saw two men
sneak in behind the big stone at the bound'ry line and
crawl off into the darkness. The stranger also saw
them, and said : ' Landlord, you 'd better turn and drive
me back to Miller's house. Those imps mean mischief,
and the old man may need help. I'll stop with him


to-night ?' So I drove back, left him, and he's there

"What's that?" said Billy, from the west window.
" The moon ?"

" Moon !" replied the landlord, going hastily to the
window. " Moon don't rise in the west. My God,
boys ! They 're at it ; they Ve fired either the mill or the
deacon's house. Come on ; help me out with the big
wagon ; and you, Billy, run for the sexton, get the key
to the church, and ring the bell, quickly ! Away with
with you !" noticing a little hesitation.

Willing hands helped the landlord get out the big
wagon, to which were harnessed a fresh pair of horses,
and into which sprang half a dozen men, eager to ren-
der whatever assistance might be needed to save the
mill, upon which so many of the townspeople depended
for their daily bread.

Just as the horses were put to a gallop toward the
fire, the old church-bell rang out an alarm, which
aroused every able-bodied man in the village.

While I stood in the doorway, watching the teams
disappear in the rain and haze which were reddened
by the light of the distant fire, and was debating with
myself whether or not I should run after the other
boys, I distinctly heard the thump of a crutch on the
floor behind me. There could be no mistake about
this, and I at once became conscious that my father
was near me, as he was the only man in the village
who used a crutch.

I was proud that I could show my father that his
own interest in affairs of state, as well as of local im-
portance, were finding a ready second in the person of
his son ; but I was also aware of a little inward trem-
bling for all that.

My father was one of those men who could never be


depended upon beforehand to look at anything in any
particular way. Of a very nervous temperament, and
made irascible by chronic ailing and loss of property,
his views, I often thought, were colored by his feelings ;
and as I was an only child, and babied, as the boys say,
it occurred to me that he might think this a fitting op-
portunity to reduce me to my proper place, as a person
of no importance, and, more's the pity, I was right, for
hardly had he caught sight of me when he cried :

"You here? This is no place for a boy on such a
night as this. Go home !"

Why didn't I run before I was discovered ! To say I
was vexed would be putting it too mildly. It seemed to
me that I was old enough to be allowed some rights,
and had about determined to resist parental authority
when my father took me by the shoulder, and pushing
me, said :

" March !"

I went, and felt then as I have felt since, my body
move forward, though my spirit rebelled and bade me

"Yin Ml iKiwv. AND I'LL UK A 1 1. -. 1'aye IO.


When I again came out of the house, although the
morning sun was high in the heavens, I noticed that
the village was unusually quiet. Everybody seemed
to be asleep ; but, without pausing to wonder at the
unwonted stillness that reigned all around, I went to
the barn and began work on the horses, finishing with
my mare ; for I liked to spend all extra time on her.

In the next house to ours lived Mrs. Atkins, Tommy's
mother. Mr. Atkins had died in debt, father said.
Consequently, Tommy's mother was compelled to de-
pend upon her own exertions for a living, and called
upon Tommy to add to the family treasury all he could
earn by driving the grocer's wagon, and doing any other
light jobs that came in his way.

Out on all occasions and in all kinds of weather, Tom-
my improved a happy faculty for picking up little bits of
news, to which his ingenuity and imagination added
many interesting details, and therefore, though the
youngest boy among us, he was generally the best in-
formed as to whatever was of current interest.

But he was a little too conscious of this superiority,
we sometimes thought. We did not like to have to
listen to him always.

Tommy's bedroom window was just opposite the
doorway of our barn, and the noise I made over the



horses, and the low whistle I kept up to drive the dust
from my mouth must have aroused him, as he appeared
suddenly at the stable-door.

" Hello, Tommy," I cried, on seeing him.

" Hello yerself. I say, Dan, 'twas too bad yer had to
go home. Yer missed all the fun."

" Did you see it all ?"

"Did I see it? Wa'n't I out all night?" Tom, in-
deed, did look as though he had been out, as he said :
" Gosh ! wa'n't it lively, though ?"

" Well, what was it burnt ?" I asked.

But Tommy was not going to tell the whole secret
or any part of it in a hurry, so he passed over my ques-
tion as though he had not heard it.

"D'yer s'pose I 'd gone home, 'nd left a big red sky
like that ? Not much ! It beat all the Fourth -of -July
fireworks you ever saw, all holler."

I was breathless with impatience to hear about it,
but saw Tommy had made up his mind to tantalize
me, and at the same time show me how much more
independent he was than I. It would not do to allow
that ; besides, I knew that if let alone he would give me
the whole story in time. I said nothing, therefore, but
applied myself more closely to my work. I was rub-
bing down the mare's hind legs at the time. This gave
me a chance, as I bent over, to watch Tommy under
my arm, and by saying "Whoa!" now and then I
seemed to acquire independence and carelessness, as
it were.

Tommy at first seemed disturbed, because I did not
show more enthusiasm, and I became almost afraid
that he was going to disappoint me, and go away with-
out giving me the news ; but the desire to air some of
his knowledge conquered all other inclinations, and,
taking up a position on the mealchest, he began :


11 Yer know the stranger who read to us. Yer remer-
ber him, don't yer ?"

Of course I remembered him. Was not his face, with
its black hair and glittering black eyes, the clearest
thing in my mind of all last night's excitement ? But
I simply said :


"Well, he's a brick." Tommy shut his teeth,
winked his eyes, and shook his head convincingly.
" You know, of course, 'bout his killing the rough ?"

I was startled from my forced calm, and straighten-
ing up stared over the mare's back at Tommy sitting
on the chest. Tommy saw his advantage and sneered.

" Don't even know that, hey ?" I went back to work
in a hurry. "Yer a pretty feller to be 'round when
there 's anything goin' on."

" Whoa ! Stand still, can't you ?" said I to the mare.

" Well, " said Tommy, with a gleam of satisfaction in
his eyes, " when we left the tavern the landlord whipped
up his horses, and away we went in fine shape, I tell

" But you weren't in the wagon, were you ?" I asked,
remembering distinctly that when the wagon started
Tommy and the other boys were afoot.

" No ; but they hadn 't reached the corner before I
was with them."

" I suppose they needed you," said I, determined to
get a fling at Tommy.

" Of course," answered Tommy indifferently, as if
that were a matter about which there ought to be but
one opinion, and that further remarks on that subject
were unnecessary. " But don't bother me, Dan, if you
want to hear what happened."

' Go on, then !" I muttered.

" Well, 's I was sayin', we went off in fine shape. We


picked up some of the mill overseers on the way, and
by the time we got clear of the town we had a dozen
men in the wagon. My, but it was dark and drizzly
when we got into the woods ! Just after we got through
them, and came out at the top of the hill, we could see
the blaze over the tops of the trees that stood between
us and the mill. One of the overseers said : ' It 's the
mill, boys, sure enough !' "

" ' The rascals !' said the landlord, sharp and angry
like. ' Keep a sharp eye along the roadside, boys, for
two of the meanest skunks that ever went unhung.
Don't let 'em get away. It '11 be some satisfaction in
running those fellows in.' "

" ' Better hang 'em,' said Billy, 'and run 'em in after-

" A little turn in the road as you reach the mansur
house brought us into a full view of the fire, which
proved to be " here Tommy began to mount his high
horse again " but what are you looking at me in that
way for, with your mouth wide open, and your eyes
fairly sticking out of your head ?"

"Stand still there," I cried to the mare. I had to say
something to cover my excitement.

Tommy waited an instant, just to bother me, and then
said :

" Well, it was the"

" Whoa ! Be quiet !" I shouted to the mare, as
Tommy again paused, with a smile at my eagerness to
catch every word.

" The barn. The mill was all right, but the deacon's
house was in danger. The barn is close to the house,
yer know, and well filled with hay. It made a mighty
hot fire. We could hear it roar as the big waves of
flame, all edged with a fringe of sparks and smoke, rose
high into the air."


I had now stopped work and was standing, curry-
comb and brush in hand, staring at Tommy. Tommy,
warming to the subject, for the moment forgot his
superiority, and, not noticing my attitude, continued
rapidly :

" When we turned into the mill road we heard a
couple of explosions. Some of the men said 't was
powder in the barn ; others said 't was more like the
crack of a rifle. When we reached the house we saw
the stranger, the deacon and 'a couple of his men

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Online LibraryEdward A RobinsonThe gun-bearer : A novel → online text (page 1 of 18)