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Parker Adderson, Philosopher
by [?]

“Prisoner, what is your name?”

“As I am to lose it at daylight to-morrow morning it is hardly worth while concealing it. Parker Adderson.”

“Your rank?”

“A somewhat humble one; commissioned officers are too precious to be risked in the perilous business of a spy. I am a sergeant.”

“Of what regiment?”

“You must excuse me; my answer might, for anything I know, give you an idea of whose forces are in your front. Such knowledge as that is what I came into your lines to obtain, not to impart.”

“You are not without wit.”

“If you have the patience to wait you will find me dull enough to-morrow.”

“How do you know that you are to die to-morrow morning?”

“Among spies captured by night that is the custom. It is one of the nice observances of the profession.”

The general so far laid aside the dignity appropriate to a Confederate officer of high rank and wide renown as to smile. But no one in his power and out of his favor would have drawn any happy augury from that outward and visible sign of approval. It was neither genial nor infectious; it did not communicate itself to the other persons exposed to it–the caught spy who had provoked it and the armed guard who had brought him into the tent and now stood a little apart, watching his prisoner in the yellow candle-light. It was no part of that warrior’s duty to smile; he had been detailed for another purpose. The conversation was resumed; it was in character a trial for a capital offense.

“You admit, then, that you are a spy–that you came into my camp, disguised as you are in the uniform of a Confederate soldier, to obtain information secretly regarding the numbers and disposition of my troops.”

“Regarding, particularly, their numbers. Their disposition I already knew. It is morose.”

The general brightened again; the guard, with a severer sense of his responsibility, accentuated the austerity of his expression an stood a trifle more erect than before. Twirling his gray slouch hat round and round upon his forefinger, the spy took a leisurely survey of his surroundings. They were simple enough. The tent was a common “wall tent,” about eight feet by ten in dimensions, lighted by a single tallow candle stuck into the haft of a bayonet, which was itself stuck into a pine table at which the general sat, now busily writing and apparently forgetful of his unwilling guest. An old rag carpet covered the earthen floor; an older leather trunk, a second chair and a roll of blankets were about all else that the tent contained; in General Clavering’s command Confederate simplicity and penury of “pomp and circumstance” had attained their highest development. On a large nail driven into the tent pole at the entrance was suspended a sword-belt supporting a long sabre, a pistol in its holster and, absurdly enough, a bowie-knife. Of that most unmilitary weapon it was the general’s habit to explain that it was a souvenir of the peaceful days when he was a civilian.

It was a stormy night. The rain cascaded upon the canvas in torrents, with the dull, drum-like sound familiar to dwellers in tents. As the whooping blasts charged upon it the frail structure shook and swayed and strained at its confining stakes and ropes.

The general finished writing, folded the half-sheet of paper and spoke to the soldier guarding Adderson: “Here, Tassman, take that to the adjutant-general; then return.”

“And the prisoner, General?” said the soldier, saluting, with an inquiring glance in the direction of that unfortunate.

“Do as I said,” replied the officer, curtly.

The soldier took the note and ducked himself out of the tent. General Clavering turned his handsome face toward the Federal spy, looked him in the eyes, not unkindly, and said: “It is a bad night, my man.”

“For me, yes.”

“Do you guess what I have written?”

“Something worth reading, I dare say. And–perhaps it is my vanity–I venture to suppose that I am mentioned in it.”