Meet us on:
Welcome to Read Print! Sign in with
or
to get started!
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "My father hated radio and could not wait for television to be invented so he could hate that too."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 13

    • Rate it:
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 14
    Previous Chapter
    BELLE ISLE--TERRIBLE SUFFERING FROM COLD AND HUNGER--FATE OF LIEUTENANT
    BOISSEUX'S DOG--OUR COMPANY MYSTERY--TERMINATION OF ALL HOPES OF ITS
    SOLUTION.

    In February my chum--B. B. Andrews, now a physician in Astoria, Illinois
    --was brought into our building, greatly to my delight and astonishment,
    and from him I obtained the much desired news as to the fate of my
    comrades. He told me they had been sent to Belle Isle, whither he had
    gone, but succumbing to the rigors of that dreadful place, he had been
    taken to the hospital, and, upon his convalesence, placed in our prison.

    Our men were suffering terribly on the island. It was low, damp, and
    swept by the bleak, piercing winds that howled up and down the surface of
    the James. The first prisoners placed on the island had been given tents
    that afforded them some shelter, but these were all occupied when our
    battalion came in, so that they were compelled to lie on the snow and
    frozen ground, without shelter, covering of any kind, or fire. During
    this time the cold had been so intense that the James had frozen over
    three times.

    The rations had been much worse than ours. The so-called soup had been
    diluted to a ridiculous thinness, and meat had wholly disappeared.
    So intense became the craving for animal food, that one day when
    Lieutenant Boisseux--the Commandant--strolled into the camp with his
    beloved white bull-terrier, which was as fat as a Cheshire pig, the
    latter was decoyed into a tent, a blanket thrown over him, his throat cut
    within a rod of where his master was standing, and he was then skinned,
    cut up, cooked, and furnished a savory meal to many hungry men.

    When Boisseux learned of the fate of his four-footed friend he was,
    of course, intensely enraged, but that was all the good it did him.
    The only revenge possible was to sentence more prisoners to ride the
    cruel wooden horse which he used as a means of punishment.

    Four of our company were already dead. Jacob Lowry and John Beach were
    standing near the gate one day when some one snatched the guard's blanket
    from the post where he had hung it, and ran. The enraged sentry leveled
    his gun and fired into the crowd. The balls passed through Lowry's and
    Beach's breasts. Then Charley Osgood, son of our Lieutenant, a quiet,
    fair-haired, pleasant-spoken boy, but as brave and earnest as his gallant
    father, sank under the combination of hunger and cold. One stinging
    morning he was found stiff and stark, on the hard ground, his bright,
    frank blue eyes glazed over in death.

    One of the mysteries of our company was a tall, slender, elderly
    Scotchman, who appeared on the rolls as William Bradford. What his past
    life had been, where he had lived, what his profession, whether married
    or single, no one ever knew. He came to us while in Camp of Instruction
    near Springfield, Illinois, and seemed to have left all his past behind
    him as he crossed the line of sentries around the camp. He never
    received any letters, and never wrote any; never asked for a furlough or
    pass, and never expressed a wish to be elsewhere than in camp. He was
    courteous and pleasant, but very reserved. He interfered with no one,
    obeyed orders promptly and without remark, and was always present for
    duty. Scrupulously neat in dress, always as clean-shaved as an
    old-fashioned gentleman of the world, with manners and conversation that
    showed him to have belonged to a refined and polished circle, he was
    evidently out of place as a private soldier in a company of reckless and
    none-too-refined young Illinois troopers, but he never availed himself of
    any of the numerous opportunities offered to change his associations.
    His elegant penmanship would have secured him an easy berth and better
    society at headquarters, but he declined to accept a detail. He became
    an exciting mystery to a knot of us imaginative young cubs, who sorted up
    out of the reminiscential rag-bag of high colors and strong contrasts
    with which the sensational literature that we most affected had
    plentifully stored our minds, a half-dozen intensely emotional careers
    for him. We spent much time in mentally trying these on, and discussing
    which fitted him best. We were always expecting a denouement that would
    come like a lightning flash and reveal his whole mysterious past, showing
    him to have been the disinherited scion of some noble house, a man of
    high station, who was expiating some fearful crime; an accomplished
    villain eluding his pursuers--in short, a Somebody who would be a fitting
    hero for Miss Braddon's or Wilkie Collins's literary purposes. We never
    got but two clues of his past, and they were faint ones. One day, he
    left lying near me a small copy of "Paradise Lost," that he always
    carried with him. Turning over its leaves I found all of Milton's bitter
    invectives against women heavily underscored. Another time, while on
    guard with him, he spent much of his time in writing some Latin verses in
    very elegant chirography upon the white painted boards of a fence along
    which his beat ran. We pressed in all the available knowledge of Latin
    about camp, and found that the tenor of the verses was very
    uncomplimentary to that charming sex which does us the honor of being our
    mothers and sweethearts. These evidences we accepted as sufficient
    demonstration that there was a woman at the bottom of the mystery, and
    made us more impatient for further developments. These were never to
    come. Bradford pined away an Belle Isle, and grew weaker, but no less
    reserved, each day. At length, one bitter cold night ended it all.
    He was found in the morning stone dead, with his iron-gray hair frozen
    fast to the ground, upon which he lay. Our mystery had to remain
    unsolved. There was nothing about his person to give any hint as to his
    past.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 14
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a John McElroy essay and need some advice, post your John McElroy essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?