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Captain

by Alex Shell Briscoe

THE beat of their hoofs was a long roll as they passed down the road in a white cloud of macadam dust. There were blacks and browns, sorrels and bays, but never a white or gray. For these horses had been bought for the French army, and a white one is decidedly too attractive a target.

Across the road at a gate to a drive that led up to a neat white house and a big red barn stood one whose eyes kindled at the sight—a little old man whose white beard could not entirely conceal the furrow where a saber had laid open his cheek from jaw to temple.

For were not these horses on their way to help France; were they not going forth to see battles, to do their part, to be maimed, to die; even as he, Jean Louis de Tourville, had done his part, had been maimed, had been ready to die in the red days of "Seventy-one"?

His heart went out to them for the sufferings that would be theirs, but it glorified them for the work they would do for his beloved France. And it held something of envy, too; envy of the beautiful, intelligent creatures on their way across the seas to do their part in the great war. They would be of use there, and he would not with his empty sleeve and burden of seventy years.

He spoke his thoughts aloud as he beamed upon them. That slim sorrel that trotted as though on springs—what a mount for a dragoon! Yonder up-standing chestnut— probably it would draw one of the famous "seventy-fives."

A touch on his shoulder caused him to turn and lay a caressing hand on the sleek neck of a tall bay gelding that had reached over the fence from the barnyard and was nosing the old man's pockets in search of sugar and to attract attention.

De Tourville ran his fingers through the rippling mane, smoothed the satin coat. Surely this was a horse to be proud of, a horse that was a credit to the house of the De Tourvilles. There was intel...

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