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The Locket


One night in autumn a few men were gathered about a fire on
the slope of a hill. They belonged to a small detachment of
Confederate forces and were awaiting orders to march. Their gray
uniforms were worn beyond the point of shabbiness. One of the men
was heating something in a tin cup over the embers. Two were lying
at full length a little distance away, while a fourth was trying to
decipher a letter and had drawn close to the light. He had
unfastened his collar and a good bit of his flannel shirt front.

"What's that you got around your neck, Ned?" asked one of the
men lying in the obscurity.

Ned--or Edmond--mechanically fastened another button of his
shirt and did not reply. He went on reading his letter.

"Is it your sweet heart's picture?"

"`Taint no gal's picture," offered the man at the fire. He
had removed his tin cup and was engaged in stirring its grimy
contents with a small stick. "That's a charm; some kind of hoodoo
business that one o' them priests gave him to keep him out o'
trouble. I know them Cath'lics. That's how come Frenchy got
permoted an never got a scratch sence he's been in the ranks. Hey,
French! aint I right?" Edmond looked up absently from his letter.

"What is it?" he asked.

"Aint that a charm you got round your neck?"

"It must be, Nick," returned Edmond with a smile. "I don't know
how I could have gone through this year and a half without it."

The letter had made Edmond heart sick and home sick. He
stretched himself on his back and looked straight up at the
blinking stars. But he was not thinking of them nor of anything
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