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      My heart beat wildly and I wanted to ask if it was on my account; but I was too pusillanimous a coward, and when I feebly tried to look into her eyes she would not let me, which convinced me that she lacked candor. A dance ended. Gold-laced fellows came and sat on the veranda rail wiping wrists and brows with over-tasked handkerchiefs, and explaining the small mishaps of the floor. Two promenaders mentioned the hour. I gasped my amazement and extended my hand. "Good-bye."

      Prout came up smiling in the course of the next afternoon. He was disposed to chaff his prisoner in a mild kind of way.

      Glad was I then to be on a true cavalryman's horse that answered the closing of my left leg and moved steadily around till I could see down the bridge. Oliver, after a step or two, stopped. "Turn!" I yelled, and swelled. "One, two,--"

      "No, sir, not then. But the 'ands was moving very fast, and there was a sort of 'umming going on like a lot of clocks all going on at once, only quiet like. I was so taken back I didn't know what to do, but presently I caught 'old of 'is legs and tried to pull 'im out. It weren't a easy job, 'cos 'is legs was kicking all the time, and although I 'ollered out to 'im 'e took no notice. At last I dragged 'im out, and 'e lay on the grass, still kicking. 'E never even tried to get up, and at last I took 'old of his shoulders and picked 'im up. And then, as soon as I got 'im up and stood 'im on his feet, and afore I 'ad time to 'ave a good look at 'im, off he goes, like greased lightning. An awful noise started, like[Pg 61] machinery, and afore I 'ad time to turn round 'e was down the path towards Bapchurch and out of sight. I tell you, sir, it gave me a proper turn."The shock was dying away. After all, what was the accusation? And yet Charlton was looking at her with the eyes of a man who has found out everything. They stood confronting one another for some time in silence. It was Charlton who first spoke. He came a step or two nearer.


      "Very good," said the General, "you are now on parole. See the lady conducted to Squire Gilmer's, Major. And now, Miss--eh,--day after to-morrow morning I shall either pass you beyond my lines or else send you to Baton Rouge. Good-day." When Charlotte found herself alone in a room of the Gilmer house she lay down upon the bed staring and sighing with dismay; she was bound by a parole! If within its limit of time Oliver should appear, "It will mean Baton Rouge for me!" she cried under her breath, starting up and falling back again; "Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Ship Island!" She was in as feminine a fright as though she had never braved a danger. Suddenly a new distress overwhelmed her: if--if--someone to deliver her should come--"Oh Heaven! I am paroled!--bound hand and foot by my insane parole!"



      "It has gone from my mind," he said. "It is so long ago. Even then my brother and this woman had drifted apart. I am not happy in my mind today, for your news has disturbed me more than I can tell. Even a rascal like myself can be possessed of a heart, eh?"