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The Metropolis   By: (1878-1968)

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"Return at ten thirty," the General said to his chauffeur, and then they entered the corridor of the hotel.

Montague gazed about him, and found himself trembling just a little with anticipation. It was not the magnificence of the place. The quiet uptown hotel would have seemed magnificent to him, fresh as he was from the country; but, he did not see the marble columns and the gilded carvings he was thinking of the men he was to meet. It seemed too much to crowd into one day first the vision of the whirling, seething city, the centre of all his hopes of the future; and then, at night, this meeting, overwhelming him with the crowded memories of everything that he held precious in the past.

There were groups of men in faded uniforms standing about in the corridors. General Prentice bowed here and there as they retired and took the elevator to the reception rooms. In the doorway they passed a stout little man with stubby white moustaches, and the General stopped, exclaiming, "Hello, Major!" Then he added: "Let me introduce Mr. Allan Montague. Montague, this is Major Thorne."

A look of sudden interest flashed across the Major's face. "General Montague's son?" he cried. And then he seized the other's hand in both of his, exclaiming, "My boy! my boy! I'm glad to see you!"

Now Montague was no boy he was a man of thirty, and rather sedate in his appearance and manner; there was enough in his six feet one to have made two of the round and rubicund little Major. And yet it seemed to him quite proper that the other should address him so. He was back in his boyhood to night he was a boy whenever anyone mentioned the name of Major Thorne.

"Perhaps you have heard your father speak of me?" asked the Major, eagerly; and Montague answered, "A thousand times."

He was tempted to add that the vision that rose before him was of a stout gentleman hanging in a grape vine, while a whole battery of artillery made him their target.

Perhaps it was irreverent, but that was what Montague had always thought of, ever since he had first laughed over the tale his father told. It had happened one January afternoon in the Wilderness, during the terrible battle of Chancellorsville, when Montague's father had been a rising young staff officer, and it had fallen to his lot to carry to Major Thorne what was surely the most terrifying order that ever a cavalry officer received. It was in the crisis of the conflict, when the Army of the Potomac was reeling before the onslaught of Stonewall Jackson's columns. There was no one to stop them and yet they must be stopped, for the whole right wing of the army was going. So that cavalry regiment had charged full tilt through the thickets, and into a solid wall of infantry and artillery. The crash of their volley was blinding and horses wore fairly shot to fragments; and the Major's horse, with its lower jaw torn off, had plunged madly away and left its rider hanging in the aforementioned grape vine. After he had kicked himself loose, it was to find himself in an arena where pain maddened horses and frenzied men raced about amid a rain of minie balls and canister. And in this inferno the gallant Major had captured a horse, and rallied the remains of his shattered command, and held the line until help came and then helped to hold it, all through the afternoon and the twilight and the night, against charge after charge. And now to stand and gaze at this stout and red nosed little personage, and realize that these mighty deeds had been his!

Then, even while Montague was returning his hand clasp and telling him of his pleasure, the Major's eye caught some one across the room, and he called eagerly, "Colonel Anderson! Colonel Anderson!"

And this was the heroic Jack Anderson! "Parson" Anderson, the men had called him, because he always prayed before everything he did. Prayers at each mess, a prayer meeting in the evening, and then rumour said the Colonel prayed on while his men slept... Continue reading book >>

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