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Lieut. Carroll mounted his horse and picked his way to the valley below, and as soon as he had reached headquarters reported the advice to his general. Carroll was a member of the general ' s staff. Since early morning he had been waiting at the signal station to receive and bear back any news of the approach ing enemy. Hardly had he communicated his message to the commanding offi- cer, when the order to advance was given. Staff-officers rode away, bearing the important news that the enemy were near at hand, and that a general advance of the battle line was ordered. Carroll heard the bugles sounding in the fields back of the house, and before long the regiments began to pass by and on into the opposing woods. And now one hour, two hours, three hours passed, and still the companies, battalions, and regiments hurried to the front. As Carroll waited upon the little piazza, he watched with much interest the thousands of men passing by him. Yes, he had become a soldier, and at this very moment was waiting for the opening shot in a battle that he knew would be fierce. There ! the pickets on the right had opened fire. It had begun. Soon he distinguished the heavier discharges, and he knew that the action had really opened. Officers began to flock back from the front, bearing news or asking for further orders. Nearer and nearer came the noise of conflict. The enemy were pushing them back. Before two hours had passed, Carroll saw that his army was being defeated. The general, surrounded by most of his staff, came out upon the piazza. Through the opening in the woods in front of the headquarters they could see a battery unlimbering, " They mean to fire upon this house, " said the general, quietly surveying the distant enemy with his field-glasses. " It looks as though it had gone hard with our men. " Louder grew the crashes of musketry and the roar of cannon. The enemy were certainly gaining ground. Carroll saw in dismay the same regiments that had marched proudly to the front now retreating in disorder. Everything was in confusion. Shells began to crash through the house. In a few moments the front line of the enemy would reach them. " Gentlemen, we must mount and ride to the rear. It ' s getting too hot. " It was the general who spoke. He led the way to the horses hitched to the trees at the farther end of the little lawn. Carroll was among the last to leave the house. As he crossed the grass plot now strewn with pieces of broken timber and fragments of exploded shell, he 53
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military diploma, not yet unrolled. He removed the ribbon and glanced over the contents. " I wonder if I ' ll ever use this thing? " he asked himself. " What ' s the good of it, anyhow? There ' ll never be any war, and if there was, and I should enlist, I ' d probably have to go in the ranks. H ' m ! I ' d like to know just how many captains and lieutenants my class ' d furnish. They can do dress parade pretty well, but when it comes to charging a modern battery or an earthwork — well, I don ' t believe any certificate would help them. " Carroll tossed the diploma aside and gave his attention to the thesis. In the midst of his work his lamp spluttered once or twice, and then, in a most provok- ing way, began slowly to go out. He put up his paper, and, being in no desire to continue study, went over to his window. He threw himself back among the cushions, and found it very pleasant sitting there listening to the soft rustle of the leaves outside. He wished he might sit there all night, but that would be bad for his appearance on the commencement stage tomorrow. Presently his eye caught sight of an electric light over in " Hamp. " The tiny silvery spark seemed to fascinate him. It reminded him somehow or other of the heliograph practice he had had the other day from the top of Mt. Holyoke. War ! Would there ever be another war ? Would any of his classmates be called upon to shoulder the rifle ? What would he do if ever ordered to face the death-dealing line of a hostile force ? Carroll still watched the distant light. Now it would sparkle like some bright star, and now it would vanish for a second or two. It held his attention in a most amazing manner. Strange ! He had seen that light a hundred times before. What was there in it tonight to interest him so specially ? He caught himself trying to make out some sort of a signal it was flashing into the darkness; as though it were a heliograph. Yes ! it was flashing something, he could read it : " Enemy advances over — " " Lieutenant, do you make it out? " The colonel bent over Lieut. Carroll ' s shoulder to catch a glimpse of the card upon which Carroll was working. " Certainly, sir, — ' Enemy advances over Milton Road. ' You see, Colonel, our corps signals as I thought. Unless I mistake, they will meet our skirmish line in about three hours. " " You are right, Lieutenant, " answered the colonel. " Go back to your com- mand and inform the general that everything ought to be held in readiness. " « 5 2
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caught a glimpse of the battery as it ceased its deadly fire for a moment or two. They were pushing the guns still nearer. A ringing cheer broke out at his right. There in full view, charging at a double quick, a regiment was dashing down from the house. The general and staff-officers had by this time mounted and were galloping away. As they disappeared round the corner of the building, the enemy sent a volley after them ; another, and yet another. No old-fashioned " Springfields " were those, but modern magazine guns. The firing was incessant. Carroll saw his horse fall, and before he could reach another near the fallen animal, he himself pitched headlong upon the ground. He knew that he was hit, but not seriously. He was on his feet in an instant, and hurried back into the house. Escape was out of the question now — everything was in the hands of the enemy. Well, he would die fighting. He crossed the hall and ascended the stairway. Then, drawing his revolver, he waited. With a rush the victors poured upon the piazza ; they thronged into the house. Carroll calmly awaited his death, for he knew they would fire upon discovering him. He thought of his past life — of his college course. Far, far away it all seemed to him now! How proud he had been during that last drill on his commencement day ! Little had he thought then that he was to die a soldier ' s death. There ! the enemy saw him — five or six of them at once. He fired at the nearest, and killed him. The others raised their rifles and took aim. Again Carroll discharged his revolver, but with what effect he could not see. There was a loud crash, a blinding glare, a fall — Carroll opened his eyes. A strange peaceful stillness was around him. There, far away on the horizon, the light in " Hamp " was still twinkling. The distant wall of the Holyoke range stood out dark and misty in the silvery moonlight. The leaves outside his window were rustling as calmly as before. A single stroke from the chapel tower sent its clear tone out upon the air. It was one o ' clock. " I must have been dreaming:. " That was all he said. 54
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