He had no particular trouble or advanture until he reached Nashville. There he found that he could go no farther without procuring a pass from the Provost-Marshal. At the Provosts's office he found a highly miscellaneous crowd besieging that official for the necessary permission to travel on the military railroad. There were more or less honest and loyal speculators in cotton who were ready to take any chances in the vicissitudes of the military situation to get a few bales of the precious staple. There were others who were downright smugglers, and willing to give the rebels anything, from quinine to gun-caps, for cotton. There were sutlers, pedlers, and gamblers. And there were more or less loyal citizens of the country south who wanted to get back to their homes, some to be honest, law-abiding citizens, more to get in communication with the rebels and aid and abet the rebellion."Say, you fellers up there, ain't you gittin' tired o' that work? You ain't hurtin' nobody with them dornicks. We kin dodge 'em easy, and you're just strainin' yourselves for nothin'. Let up for awhile, till we both rest and git a fresh hold. We'll amuse you if you will."
The Deacon's first thought was for Si, and he bestirred himself to do what he thought his wife, who was renowned as a nurse, would do were she there.
Shorty quietly broached the scheme to a few of his comrades, who fell in with it at once. Gathering around the cart, they cheered and chattered so as to drown any noise Si might make while carrying out his plan, and which would "give it away."
Si walked down in front, in the rear of the line, superintending the operation."'The General had to go off in a hurry toward War Trace this afternoon. He took the Provost-Sergeant unt part of his staff with him, but I had to be left behind to finish up this work. I can't get anybody else to do it but you. I'm going to take you over to a cabin, where you'll be out of sight. I want you to rush that work through as fast as the Lord'll let you. After you get it done you can go where you damned please, so long as you don't let the General set eyes on you. I've saved your life, unt I'm going to trust to your honor to play fair with me. Help me out, do your work right, unt then never let me see you again.'
"She's a mean rebel, that's what she is! But that was a smart trick o' her'n, wasn't it?""Wait a little," said Si. "We'll get the boys together, issue 'em catridges and give 'em a little preparation for a light, if we're to have one."
Then came a long wait for the signal from Shorty. The rebels seemed to get tired first. Presently they could be seen moving around, and Si had hard work restraining his squad from shooting at the tempting marks. Then the rebels began talking, at first in murmurs, and then louder. There seemed to be a division of opinion among them. Those who had been run back were sure that the Yankee were coming on to the relief of their comrades in the mill. The others thought that their comrades had run the other away just as fast.。
"I was so glad that I almost fainted, for I knowed that I'd reached General Sigel's pickets. I couldn't get my lips to answer.。