Last of the Great Scouts HTML version

In The Secret-Service
IN common walks of life to play the spy is an ignoble role; yet the work has to be done,
and there must be men to do it. There always are such men--nervy fellows who swing
themselves into the saddle when their commander lifts his hand, and ride a mad race,
with Death at the horse's flank every mile of the way. They are the unknown heroes of
every war.
It was with a full realization of the dangers confronting him that Will cantered away from
the Union lines, his borrowed uniform under his arm. As soon as he had put the outposts
behind him, he dismounted and exchanged the blue clothes for the gray. Life on the
plains had bronzed his face. For aught his complexion could tell, the ardent Southern sun
might have kissed it to its present hue. Then, if ever, his face was his fortune in good
part; but there was, too, a stout heart under his jacket, and the light of confidence in his
The dawn had come up when he sighted the Confederate outposts. What lay beyond only
time could reveal; but with a last reassuring touch of the papers in his pocket, he spurred
his horse up to the first of the outlying sentinels. Promptly the customary challenge
greeted him:
"Halt! Who goes there?"
"Dismount, friend! Advance and give the countersign!"
"Haven't the countersign," said Will, dropping from his horse, "but I have important
information for General Forrest. Take me to him at once."
"Are you a Confederate soldier?"
"Not exactly. But I have some valuable news about the Yanks, I reckon. Better let me see
the general."
"Thus far," he added to himself, "I have played the part. The combination of `Yank' and
`I reckon' ought to establish me as a promising candidate for Confederate honors."
His story was not only plausible, but plainly and fairly told; but caution is a child of war,
and the sentinel knew his business. The pseudo-Confederate was disarmed as a necessary
preliminary, and marched between two guards to headquarters, many curious eyes (the
camp being now astir) following the trio.
When Forrest heard the report, he ordered the prisoner brought before him. One glance at
the general's handsome but harsh face, and the young man steeled his nerves for the