It Seemed A Long
Time Before The Companies Got In Line, And Then I Noticed That Instead
Of Fire Buckets They Were Carrying Rifles.
Directly every company
started off on double time and disappeared in between two sets of
barracks at one corner of the parade ground.
Then everything was
unusually quiet; not a human being to be seen except the sentry at the
guardhouse, who was walking post.
It was pleasant, so I sat down, still feeling curious about the
trouble that was serious enough to call out all the troops. It was not
so very long before Lieutenant Todd, who was officer of the day, came
from the direction the companies had gone, pistol in hand, and in
front of him was a man with ball and chain. That means that his feet
were fastened together by a large chain, just long enough to permit
him to take short steps, and to that short chain was riveted a long
one, at the end of which was a heavy iron ball hanging below his belt.
When we see a prisoner carrying a ball and chain we know that he is a
deserter, or that he has done something very bad, which will probably
send him to the penitentiary, for these balls are never put on a
prisoner who has only a short time in the guardhouse.
The prisoner yesterday - who seemed to be a young man - walked slowly to
the guardhouse, the officer of the day following closely. Going up the
steps and on in the room to a cot, he unfastened the ball from his
belt and let it thunder down on the floor, and then throwing himself
down on the cot, buried his face in the blankets, an awful picture of
woe and despair.
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