*Carter Druse was born in Virginia. He loved his parents, his home and the south. But he loved his country, too. And in the autumn of eighteen sixty-one, when the United States was divided by a terrible civil war, Carter Druse, a southerner, decided to join the Union Army of the north.
He told his father about his decision one morning at breakfast.The older man looked at his only son for a moment, too shocked to speak. Then he said, "As of this moment you are a traitor to the south. Please don't tell your mother about your decision. She is sick, and we both know she has only a few weeks to live."
Carter's father paused, again looking deep into his son's eyes. "Carter," he said, "No matter what happens -- be sure you always do what youthink is your duty."
Both Carter Druse and his father left the table that morning with broken hearts. And Carter soon left his home, and everyone he loved to wear the blue uniform of the Union soldier.
One sunny afternoon, a few weeks later, Carter Druse lay with his face in the dirt by the side of a road. He was on his stomach, his arms still holding his gun. Carter would not receive amedal for his actions. In fact, if his commanding officer were to see him, he would order Carter shot immediately.
*For Carter was not dead or wounded. He was sleeping while on duty. Fortunately, no one could see him. He was hidden by some bushes, growing by the side of the road.
The road Carter Druse had been sent to guard was only a few miles from his father's house.
It began in a forest,down in the valley, and climbed up the side of a huge rock. Anyone standing on the top of this high rock would be able to see down into the valley. And that person would feel very dizzy, looking down. If he dropped a stone from the edge of this cliff, it would fall for six hundred meters before disappearing into the forest in the valley below.
Giant cliffs, like the one Carter lay on, surroundedthe valley.
Hidden in the valley's forest were five union regiments -- thousands of Carter's fellow soldiers. They had marched for thirty-six hours. Now they were resting. But at midnight they would climb
that road up the rocky cliff.
Their plan was to attack by surprise an army of southerners, camped on the other side of the cliff. But if their enemy learned about the Union Army hiding inthe forest, the soldiers would find themselves in a trap with no escape. That was why Carter Druse had been sent to guard the road.
*It was his duty to be sure that no enemy soldier, dressed in gray, spied on the valley, where the union army was hiding.
But Carter Druse had fallen asleep. Suddenly, as if a messenger of fate came to touch him on the shoulder, the young man opened his eyes.As he lifted his head, he saw a man on horseback standing on the huge rocky cliff that looked down into the valley.
The rider and his horse stood so still that they seemed made of stone. The man's gray uniform blended with the blue sky and the white clouds behind him. He held a gun in his right hand, and the horse's reins in the other.
Carter could not see the man's face, because the riderwas looking down into the valley. But the man and his horse seemed to be of heroic, almost gigantic size, standing there motionless against the sky. Carter discovered he was very much afraid, even though he knew the enemy soldier could not see him hiding in the bushes.
Suddenly the horse moved, pulling back its head from the edge of the cliff. Carter was completely awake now. He raised his gun,pushing its barrel through the bushes. And he aimed for the horseman's heart. A small squeeze of the trigger, and Carter Druse would have done his duty.
*At that instant, the horseman turned his head and looked in Carter's direction. He seemed to look at Carter's face, into his eyes, and deep into his brave, generous heart.
Carter's face became very white. His entire body began shaking. His...