George at the Fort Life Among the Soldiers

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"Captain, this thing must be stopped. I say it must be stopped, even if we have to resort to summary measures. We must find out who the ringleaders are, and make an example of them."

The speaker was Colonel Brown, the commanding officer of Fort Lamoine. As he uttered these emphatic words he slammed a paper-weight down upon a pile of reports which the adjutant had just brought in, and, settling back in his chair, looked sharply at the officer who stood in front of the table. The red sash the latter wore around his waist proclaimed him to be the officer of the day.

"How many did you say there were in the party who deserted last night?" continued the colonel.

"Seven, sir," replied the officer of the day, "and there is a list of their names. They took no horses with them, but they each secured a carbine and a box of cartridges."

An Unexpected Guest.

"That makes thirty men who have deserted since I took command of this post," said the colonel, angrily, "and not more than half of them have been captured.—Orderly, tell Corporal Owens I want to see him. He is one of the few non-commissioned officers in the command whom I am not afraid to trust.—Captain, have six picked men, with two days' rations, detailed to go with him in pursuit of these deserters. He can find and arrest them if anybody can."

The officer of the day closed the door of the colonel's head-quarters behind him, and in a few minutes the orderly opened it again to admit a sturdy young soldier, about eighteen years old, who wore upon his arms the yellow chevrons of a corporal of cavalry. This was Bob Owens—the boy who stole the mail-carrier's hard-earned money and ran away from home to enjoy it. He had not changed much in appearance. He had grown taller and his shoulders were broader, but any one who had known him before he entered the army would have recognized him now. The fact that he had been selected to perform the hazardous duty of pursuing and arresting the deserters who had left the fort the night before fully armed, and who would not hesitate to make a desperate resistance rather than allow themselves to be taken back to stand the punishment that would be inflicted upon them by a court-martial, and the colonel's declaration that he was one of the few non-commissioned officers in the command whom he was not afraid to trust, seemed to indicate that our old friend Bob had won a reputation since he enlisted in Galveston, nearly a year ago, and done something to win the confidence of his superiors. Let us go back and see what it was.

The last time we saw Bob Owens he was just coming out of a recruiting-office, having enlisted in the regular cavalry and sworn away his liberty for a long term of years. He did not take this step of his own free will, but was driven to it by force of circumstances.

When Bob found Dan Evans in his camp in the woods and stole from him the money that David, with Dan and Bert Gordon's assistance, had earned by trapping quails, he ran away from home, and after escaping from the constable who arrested him at Linwood on suspicion of being a horse-thief he took passage on board the steamer Sam Kendall for St....