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    Chapter 17

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    Chapter 18
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    As previously agreed upon, the mounted infantry had secreted themselves about the mansion and along the foot-path leading across the brook bridge in the rear. The latter point was well wooded, and it was an easy matter for the thirty or forty men stationed at that point to keep out of sight. It still rained incessantly, and the riders were glad enough to keep under the densest trees they could find.

    Artie and Life took positions at the head of the company across the bridge, leaving Captain Fordick on the opposite side of the foot-path with half of the soldiers. In these positions nearly an hour went by without anything unusual turning up.

    Artie had been worrying about what the general would say if Life and he did not report at headquarters, but the tall Kentuckian assured him that matters had been arranged by having one of the mounted infantrymen take a written report. "Others have already tried to get through, and found the road impassable," he added. "So the news won't be new even when it does come."

    Presently from a distance came the splashing of a horse's hoofs through the pools of water formed in the path, and Artie held up his hand significantly. "Wait until we make sure it is not the wrong person," he whispered.

    A few seconds passed, and a man rode up. He was dressed in the suit of a Union soldier, and was not Gossley. He headed directly for the mansion, but soon turned and rode for the barn.

    "What can this mean?" asked Life, but Artie shook his head in perplexity. Then came the sound of another horse's hoofs, and Major Gossley rode into view. He, too, started for the mansion, but the other arrival hailed him from the barn; and both entered that structure.

    "Now I reckon we'll hear something worth listening to," said Life Knox. "Come on, Artie." He turned to an infantryman standing by. "Send your captain after us without delay."

    There was, however, no need to send for Captain Fordick, for he was already coming to join them. Borrowing a pistol to take the place of the gun, Artie led the way, and the other two came after. Soon they were by the side of the barn, and in a position to overhear all that was being said by those inside.

    "It's queer I missed you, Rose," Gossley was saying. "I don't understand it."

    "I had to be careful not to excite suspicion, Gossley, and it was some time before I could get away. But I've got the information for you, and if you want to do General Bragg any good you had best make off with it without delay."

    "Well, what is the information?"

    "Here it is,--on a map I prepared last night. Here is the territory with the names of the troops stationed at different points. The attack on the centre and left is only a ruse, and the main attack will be on Bragg's right, which the Union army will try to turn. Once the turn is made, Rosecrans intends to push on with all speed until Tullahoma is reached."

    "He'll never get there," muttered Major Gossley. "We'll fight them on the right for all they are worth, and beat them back; see if we don't. Lieutenant, have a drink," and he pulled a whiskey-flask from his pocket. Both men drank a large portion of the fiery liquor, and the Confederate spy returned the flask to his pocket. The map was stowed away, inside of the major's boot.

    "The leather is split in two," he explained to his companion. "Even if the boot was pulled off they wouldn't discover the map."

    "You are better prepared than Major André," laughed his companion. "Well, I must be getting back. Good-by, and good luck to you, Major Gossley."

    "The same to you, Lieutenant Blevlich; and you can rest assured General Bragg won't forget your service."

    The two shook hands and prepared to leave the barn. But Captain Fordick had sent out a signal, and a score of infantrymen on their horses surrounded the building.

    "Surrender!" was the command of the mounted infantry's captain. "Surrender, or we will fire upon you!"

    "Trapped!" yelled Gossley, in consternation, and his bronzed face grew pale. His companion for the moment said nothing.

    "Do you surrender, or not?" demanded Captain Fordick.

    "Who are you?"

    "I am Captain Fordick, commanding the Fordick Michigan mounted infantry, unattached," was the reply. "But you haven't answered my question yet."

    "I won't surrender, to be hung for what I've done," burst out the traitorous lieutenant, and cutting his horse, he urged him out of the barn. "Back, if you value your life!" and he thrust his pistol into Captain Artie Lyon's face.

    The young captain was about to fire on the fellow, when Life Knox's weapon rang out, and the lieutenant pitched forward in his saddle and fell down at his horse's side. Frightened, the steed took to his heels, running directly for the brook. The lieutenant's foot had caught fast in the stirrup and he was dragged along, his head striking the ground at every step. In a twinkle, horse and man had disappeared into the water together.

    In the meantime Gossley had fired, and an infantryman riding behind Captain Fordick was struck in the hip. The Confederate spy fired half a dozen shots, and then leaped from his horse's back into the hay-mow above. As he disappeared from view he yelled that he would kill anybody who attempted to capture him.

    "Better get back," said Life. "There is no use in running a useless risk. We'll make him come down from his perch as fast as Davy Crockett brought the 'possum from the tree."

    The advice was good, and captains and men scattered to points where the Confederate could not get a chance at him.

    "Now, if you'll let me take the lead I'll bring him down in short order," said the captain of the seventh company of the Riverlawns.

    "All right, do as you please," answered the Michigan captain, and Artie nodded in approval.

    Advancing on foot to a tree directly behind the barn, Life called out to Gossley,--

    "Are you coming down, Gossley?"

    "Not much."

    "You had better give yourself up. We are about fifty to one, you know."

    "I won't give myself up. You'll hang me as you hung Williams and Peter. I'm going to die game."

    "Wouldn't you rather be hung than burnt alive?" went on Life, coolly.

    "What do you mean by that?"

    "I mean that if you won't come down and surrender, we'll burn you out."

    "You can't do it. The place is too wet."

    "Well, we'll smoke you out then, and shoot you as soon as you appear. If you want to become an ordinary prisoner, now is your chance. I won't do any talking with you after we have applied the torch."

    At this Gossley began to say some very uncomplimentary things concerning the Unionists in general and those outside in particular. But the tall Kentuckian cut him short.

    "I'll give you exactly two minutes in which to make up your mind," he went on.

    "Go to thunder!" growled Gossley.

    "I'll go and light that torch," answered Life, and retreated.

    At the end of exactly one minute and a half Gossley called to him.

    "Say there!"

    "Have you made up your mind to come down?"

    "If I give myself up, what will you do with me?"

    "Turn you over to the commander at headquarters."

    "As an ordinary prisoner of war?"

    "No, as a rebel spy."

    "Then I won't come down," howled Gossley, and continued to say uncomplimentary things.

    But when Life really advanced with a lighted torch, his courage failed him, and just as some loose hay was lighted, he called out that he would give in and threw down his pistols. In another moment he came down himself and submitted to having his hands bound behind him. Then Artie took possession of the map placed in the bootleg.

    "What are you going to do with that?"

    "Turn it over to General Mitchell, who will probably take the case to General Rosecrans."

    "You can't prove anything against me," blustered the Confederate.

    "Never mind, we can try pretty hard," said Life Knox, dryly.

    "Have you done anything up to the house?"

    "You will learn in time, I reckon," concluded Life, and hurried off toward the brook.

    Here it was ascertained that the traitorous lieutenant had paid for his treachery with his life. The horse had dragged him over the rough stony bottom of the brook until the man's head was fairly crushed in by hoofs and stones. The negroes Joe and Sam were set to work digging a grave close to the brook, and the remains were soon after buried in this,--where they still lie, unnamed, and well-nigh forgotten.

    It was now getting late, and all felt they must be on the way. Yet every man was hungry, and it was decided that a meal should first be had at Colonel's Bradner's expense. The negro cook, who had been hiding about the kitchen, was brought to light, and made to promise to get ready the best spread the plantation could provide, and it must be acknowledged that she kept her word.

    As Captain Fordick was not willing to escort a woman prisoner back to camp, a detail was left at the mansion, taking both the lady of the house and her husband into custody. Every weapon about the place was confiscated, and the colored people were placed under strict surveillance, that they might not help master and mistress in secret.

    Mrs. Bradner wept bitterly when told that her brother was captured and would be taken to the Union headquarters as a spy. On her knees she begged Artie, Life, and Captain Fordick in turn to let Gossley go. But this was, of course, out of the question. Now that matters had turned out so favorably for him, Artie could not help but feel sorry for the lady, who had allowed her mistaken patriotism to lead her so far astray, yet he could do nothing for her, and left the place as soon as the dinner was finished.

    Two hours of hard riding brought the infantry and their prisoner to general headquarters, and here Gossley was turned over to the proper authorities, who sent him to a western prison, there to remain until the close of the war. The head of the staff, although busy with numerous other reports, listened with close attention to Artie's tale, and placed the map taken from the spy on file.

    "It was a good bit of work, Captain Lyon," he said. "And it is likely to be remembered to your credit."

    "It was only my duty, sir," answered Artie. "Any Union soldier would have done as much."

    "Possibly. But let me say, it is a big thing to catch a spy," and then Artie was dismissed to join his company, along with Life Knox. The unattached infantrymen were ordered to remain in the vicinity of Colonel Bradner's plantation, which was afterwards transformed into a temporary hospital.

    By this time the cavalry, of which the Riverlawns formed a portion, had passed through Eagleville, to do some sharp skirmishing at Rover. Here the Confederates attempted to make a stand, but the forces under General Mitchell were too powerful for them, and they broke and filed down the road leading to Unionville and Shelbyville. At the same time another cavalry force made a demonstration on the extreme left, and some infantry began to operate about Woodbury. Thus was Bragg completely blinded to what the true intention of the Union commander was, and sent force after force to his left when he should have hurried them in exactly the opposite direction.

    When Artie reached his command, to relieve Lieutenant Black, he found Deck in his old place at the head of the battalion. The major was pale and nervous, and probably weaker than he cared to show, yet he insisted on remaining where he was, against the advice of his father and both Majors Truman and Belthorpe.

    "We're bound to drive the Confederates as far as Unionville before nightfall," he said, enthusiastically. "The battalion has been doing splendidly, and Black couldn't have done better."

    The colonel was also glad to see Artie back, and astonished at the tale the young man had to tell. But the talk between the two was cut short by an order from General Mitchell. They had been halting just outside of Rover. Now they were commanded to proceed to a side road and cut off any Confederates who were trying to escape to Unionville from that direction.

    In two minutes the cavalry was off on a gallop, feeling that some hot work was in store for them. And that feeling did not prove a disappointment.
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