Last of the Great Scouts HTML version

A Rescue And A Betrothal
AFTER the battle of Pilot Knob Will was assigned, through the influence of General
Polk, to special service at military headquarters in St. Louis. Mrs. Polk had been one of
mother's school friends, and the two had maintained a correspondence up to the time of
mother's death. As soon as Mrs. Polk learned that the son of her old friend was in the
Union army, she interested herself in obtaining a good position for him. But desk-work is
not a Pony Express rush, and Will found the St. Louis detail about as much to his taste as
clerking in a dry-goods store. His new duties naturally became intolerable, lacking the
excitement and danger-scent which alone made his life worth while to him. One event,
however, relieved the dead-weight monotony of his existence; he met Louise Frederici,
the girl who became his wife. The courtship has been written far and wide with blood-
and-thunder pen, attended by lariat-throwing and runaway steeds. In reality it was a
romantic affair. More than once, while out for a morning canter, Will had remarked a
young woman of attractive face and figure, who sat her horse with the grace of Diana
Vernon. Now, few things catch Will's eye more quickly than fine horsemanship. He
desired to establish an acquaintance with the young lady, but as none of his friends knew
her, he found it impossible.
At length a chance came. Her bridle-rein broke onemorning; there was a runaway, a
rescue, and then acquaintance was easy. From war to love, or from love to war, is but a
step, and Will lost no time in taking it. He was somewhat better than an apprentice to Dan
Cupid. If the reader remembers, he went to school with Steve Gobel. True, his
opportunities to enjoy feminine society had not been many, which; perhaps, accounts for
the promptness with which he embraced them when they did arise. He became the
accepted suitor of Miss Louise Frederici before the war closed and his regiment was
mustered out. The spring of 1865 found him not yet twenty, and he was sensible of the
fact that before he could dance at his own wedding he must place his worldly affairs upon
a surer financial basis than falls to the lot of a soldier; so, much as he would have enjoyed
remaining in St. Louis, fortune pointed to wider fields, and he set forth in search of
remunerative and congenial employment. First, there was the visit home, where the
warmest of welcomes awaited him. During his absence the second sister, Eliza, had
married a Mr. Myers, but the rest of us were at the old place, and the eagerness with
which we awaited Will's home-coming was stimulated by the hope that he would remain
and take charge of the estate. Before we broached this subject, however, he informed us
of his engagement to Miss Frederici, which, far from awakening jealousy, aroused our
delight, Julia voicing the sentiment of the family in the comment: "When you're married,
Will, you will have to stay at home." This led to the matter of his remaining with us to
manage the estate--and to the upsetting of our plans. The pay of a soldier in the war was
next to nothing, and asWill had been unable to put any money by, he took the first chance
that offered to better his fortunes. This happened to be a job of driving horses from
Leavenworth to Fort Kearny, and almost the first man he met after reaching the fort was
an old plains friend, Bill Trotter.