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September 17th, 1862.
Near Sharpsburg, Maryland.
Bullets cut the legs out from under the man to his left and shattered the head of the man to his right.
Duff kept moving forward, the 69th's banner flying.
Suddenly, out of the dust and smoke, a Reb officer appeared, brandishing a saber in his left hand. The blade glistened red in the autumn sun. The Reb was smiling, so happy was he at the scent of blood, and the chance to kill. It was clear to Duff that it was his particular blood this enemy was seeking.
The Reb was coming directly at him, his saber point aiming for Duff's throat.
You'll be a stuck pig, Duff told himself. Run, you fool. But his feet refused to swerve.
The two advanced, saber to flag.
With a terrifying Rebel yell, the officer thrust his blade. Using the flagstaff as a spear, Duff parried the thrust and jabbed hard at his opponent's head with the butt of the pole. His enemy, bloodied, foundered, falling away. Limbs twisted, he sprawled like death, his left hand still gripping his saber, his gray hat on the trampled, bloody ground.
Duff noted the man's gory face and twisted limbs without passion. But he was mesmerized by the Reb's full head of jet black hair which was divided neatly by a white streak straight down the center.
Duff crossed himself. The Devil. I've fought the Devil and I've won.
But the Devil now hurled his saber at him. Duff parried again, but not in time.
Price, John. Lieutenant, Tenth Kentucky Cavalry. Army of the Confederacy. Wounded in head and left leg. Morgan's Raider. Paymaster,Lucifer.
November 1st, 1864, Tuesday, midafternoon.
David Corwin was compact, small in stature. He set his newspaper aside on the seat next to him and moved down the aisle to the door, balancing himself against the rocking with his hand on the seat backs. At the door he stretched, as if that were his only purpose for rising. When the train rolled into Catskill Station, he slipped casually out the door.
At the back of the car a second man, just as casually, got to his feet, adjusted his hat, and followed Corwin. The man jumped to the gravel. Except for the stationmaster with his red flag, he was the only one to be seen on the ground. Where'd the little bastard go? A quick gust snatched his broad-brimmed black hat, spinning it in the air, then slamming it to the gravel.
"Damn," the man said, retrieving the hat, but still seeking his prey. He dusted his hat on his long coat and squared it on his head.
The train whistle wailed, shattering the quiet pastoral scene. The conductor, master of his domain, blew his own sharp whistle. "Board! All aboard for Manhattan, Thirtieth Street Station." In this manner, the train left Catskill Station. "Next stop, Germantown. Germantown, next stop."
The train picked up speed. The man who had followed Corwin swung himself aboard. After a quick inspection of his hat and coat and the knife sheathed in his boot, he strode down the aisle, plucking up the newspaper Corwin had left, and continued to his own seat at the back of the car.
He didn't notice the man in the herringbone mackinaw and spectacles.
And neither man saw the youth who was watching them both.
In a ditch, not three yards from the tracks, among a patch of yellow weeds, Corwin lay, legs bent like broken twigs, throat cut from ear to ear. A Lucifer friction match was jammed between his clamped teeth.