BLTC Press Titles

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Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

Mosby's men

by John Henry Alexander


Just north of the town and scarcely beyond the camps was a long, narrow meadow. On one side a thin strip of woods separated it from the Centerville turnpike; on the other side a high hill hid it from the town and the neighboring camps, and at the lower end it was skirted by a large body of pines. Down the middle of it ran a bold stream of water on its way to Cedar Run, a mile away.

On the Cedar Run bottoms the pasturage was rich and in those times free to such of the town cows as had not been "confiscated." We were so fortunate as to have one at our house, and it seemed that my mission in life just then was to look after her. There were four or five other lads who were dedicated to the same high calling. I recollect Frank and Lytt Helm, Will Saunders and Frank Jennings as being in the party. And we surely did have grand times herding cows on Cedar Run that summer. We practiced soldiering, camping, raiding, running pickets, surprising camps, and such amusements as imaginative boys, imbued with the spirit of war and turned loose to themselves, would naturally run into. What we couldn't do we dreamed of, and vied with each other in concocting wild adventures and describing the things that we might do. The bubbles we blew under the old elms on the grassy bank may not have stood the tests of high art, but they were immensely fascinating. I wonder if they all did dissolve into air, "and left no wreck behind"? I sometimes fancy that Mosby afterward reaped some fruits from the spirit and education which we helped each other acquire those summer days. For every one of us, I believe, subsequently joined his command.

One beautiful afternoon I started from town to join my friends down on the creek. When I reached the meadow I saw a number of soldiers at the brook bathing themselves and washing out their clothes. Their horses had been turned loose, without saddle and bridles, to luxuriate on the rich herbage while the owners sought the next thing to godliness.

I stepped in the woods by the roadside and watched the scene. There were things about the bathers and their doings to interest a boy; but what most impressed me was their absorption in themselves. The horses seemed to have drifted out of their attention altogether, and one of them, especially, became the object of my intense interest. He had wandered some distance below his fellows, and I noticed that he was a spanking fine one. How the curved lines of beauty in him were brought out against the green! How his dark brown coat glistened in the sunlight! My heart went out after that horse with a yearning; he stirred in me all that spirit of adventure which I had been cultivating at the cow-camp. He certainly was worth some risk —indeed, that element in the case appealed to me irresistibly, as I thought of what the boys would say if I should succeed in "acquiring" him.

The ethics of the matter did not bother me in the least. Indeed, I do not recollect that they rose out of my subconsciousness. Doubtless the question was fought out there, and it was downed in its incipiency by the knowledge of how many things the Yankees had taken from me and my people. Besides, if I were not then a combatant in actual service, I would become one as soon as I connected myself with that horse; and I was anticipating my rights very slightly.

He was near enough for me to see that he had on a halter, the strap of which was tied around one of his fore ankles, so as to keep him from running. I moved through the woods until I came within perhaps a hundred yards from him. I then fell upon my hands and knees, and even a little lower sometimes, into the high grass, and wormed my way to him. A few soothing words kept him quiet while I untied the halter strap from his foot. In the same posture as before, I slowly led him to the brook. While he stood beside the bank and drank, I jumped upon his back, and with a few bounds we were within the shades of the pine woods beyond.

I do not think that any of the soldiers saw us. As I glanced over my shoulder toward them, I observed nothing to indicate that they were interested in us at all. They doubtless assumed that it was just some one who was crossing the meadow. What they thought when they came to round up their stock and found the brown gelding missing, was another story, a story which some of them may tell.

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