Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: From Headquarters - Odd Tales Picked up in the Volunteer Service
Author: Frye, James Albert
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "From Headquarters - Odd Tales Picked up in the Volunteer Service" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



FROM HEADQUARTERS

ODD TALES

PICKED UP IN THE VOLUNTEER SERVICE

BY

JAMES ALBERT FRYE

BOSTON
ESTES AND LAURIAT
1893



Copyright, 1892
BY
JAMES ALBERT FRYE



TO THE
FIRST INFANTRY
M.V.M.



PREFACE.


In the odd though truthful tales here brought together--of which, by
the way, some already have been in print--there is not the slightest
attempt at pen portraiture, nor is there any pretence to the accuracy
of the military historian; in other words, this is a collection of
chance yarns, and not a portrait gallery--and no one is asked to
believe that either the Nineteenth Army Corps or the "Old Regiment"
ever were found in any situations like those in which they here find
themselves placed.

This book, perhaps, may fall into the hands of one of those--and
they are far too many--whose habit it is to scoff at the volunteer
service, and to look askance at all who enter it. I sincerely trust
that it may, for I wish to say--and in all earnestness--that the
militia of today is not the militia of thirty, twenty, or even ten
years ago; that nowadays the incompetent and the vicious are allowed
to remain in civil life, and are not given places in the ranks of the
volunteers; and that those who take the solemn oath of enlistment do
so with the full understanding that they will be required to devote
their time, their money, and their best energies to the service, and
that they have assumed an obligation to fit themselves carefully and
intelligently for the duties of a soldier.

The volunteer service of the present time means, to those who find
themselves enrolled in it, something more than a mere pastime; and
if those who hold it in small esteem could but know of the faithful,
conscientious, and untiring work that, from year's end to year's end,
is being done in armory and camp, they would leave unsaid, it seems
to me, the half-contemptuous words that too often come to the ears of
the hard-working, long-suffering, and unrewarded citizen-soldier.

It has been said that the best is none too good for the service of the
Commonwealth. If this be true,--and who can question it?--the stigma
of whatever blemishes have been found in the militia must be borne by
those men of ability and position who, while ever ready to point out
weaknesses and faults, negligently have left to hands less competent,
or, it may be, less worthy, the work which they themselves were in
honor bound to do.

            J. A. F.



CONTENTS.


                                          PAGE

THE PLUCK OF CAPTAIN PENDER, C.S.N.          1

ONE RECORD ON THE REGIMENTAL ROLLS          37

OUR HORSE "ACME"                            65

FROM BEYOND THE PYRAMIDS                    91

THE HYMN THAT HELPED                       121

THE SEVENTH MAJOR                          153

CONCERNING THE VALUE OF SLEEP              185



THE PLUCK
OF
CAPTAIN PENDER, C.S.N.



THE PLUCK
OF
CAPTAIN PENDER, C.S.N.


Well up town, something above quarter of a mile beyond the massive,
battlemented armory in which we of the Third Infantry have our
headquarters, a side street, branching off from one of the main
thoroughfares, ambitiously stretches away until it finds its farther
progress barred by a high, stone-capped, brick wall. There it stops.
Beyond lie the quadruple tracks of a railway, over which, all day
long--and, for that matter, all night, too--thunder the coming and
going trains, with such an outpouring of smoke and downpouring of
cinders that it is small wonder that a quiet street, such as this one
pretends to be, should have lost all desire to continue its course in
that direction.

A few paces from the end of the _cul-de-sac_ formed by the halting
street and the obstructing wall, and facing a lamp-post which
awkwardly rears itself up from the curbstone to present for inspection
a glass panel lettered "Battery Court," there is--in one of the long
row of houses--an opening which looks like the entrance to a tunnel.

In point of fact, it _is_ the entrance to a tunnel, for, in order to
reach the court which lies hidden beyond, one has to grope through
fifty feet of brick-bound darkness. And even when that venture has
been made, the change from shade to light is not a startling one,
for the court is small and entirely surrounded by lofty buildings,
so that one standing in it and looking up at the patch of blue sky
overhead feels much as if he had landed at the bottom of a well, and
instinctively glances about in search of a rope by which to climb up
and out again.

It is an odd corner--and oddly utilized. All around it stretch streets
of dwellings, but in this silent and dim court the few structures are
plainly and solidly built, and heavily shuttered with iron, for they
all are devoted to storage. It was the lack of breathing space, I
dare say, and the close proximity of the railway that made this nook
undesirable for any other purpose; and in all probability "Battery
Court" would be unknown to-day if we had not happened to stumble upon
it in our search for a place where we could pitch our tent, without
being forced to pitch after it a king's ransom in the shape of rent.

Facing the dark passageway which offers the only avenue for escape
to the street beyond, and entirely filling one end of the court,
there looms up a five-storied warehouse. For four stories it bears a
perfect family resemblance to its companions on either hand, and up
to that height its dull, red bricks and rusty, red iron entitle it to
no distinction whatever. But the _fifth_ story is altogether another
story, and though from an architect's point of view it might seem
wofully incongruous, yet to our eyes it is supremely satisfying--_for
we did it_.

Yes, the fifth story of that old warehouse asserts itself like a
diamond pin in a soiled and rumpled scarf, for the mansard roof
with its galvanized-iron trimmings, which once made it appear
no more respectable than it ought to be, has given place to a
long, well-glazed, dormer window, finished on the outside with
heavy timbering and rough plaster work, and fitted with swinging
sashes through whose many panes the southern sun may shine without
let or hinderance, save when, in summer months, a wide, striped
awning parries the hottest rays. In every sense of the word it is
a great window, and--as I and many another officer of the Third
can testify--the comfortable, cushioned seat which runs its entire
length has many attractions for a lazy, tobacco-loving man. Above
the window, and crowning glory of all, a straight and slender spar
points skyward, from which, on sunny days, floats a great, white flag,
bearing in mid-field the blue Maltese cross, on which the figure "3"
is displayed: for the present Third is the successor of a "fighting
regiment," and we proudly preserve the old corps' device and the
traditions that go with it.

So much for the _outside_ of our nightly gathering-place.

Within-doors the effect is even more surprising, for the four long
and dusty flights of dimly-lighted stairs give no hint of the
cheery quarters up to which they lead the way. Once they had their
termination in a loft--a bare, rough, unfinished loft; but we have
changed all that, and now it would be hard to find at any club in town
a cosier spot. Thirty feet from side to side the great room stretches,
and twice that from front to rear; ample room, yet none too much for
our needs, for our friends are many, and the times are not infrequent
when we find even these quarters crowded. At the southern end, almost
from wall to wall, extends the long window, with its softly cushioned
seat--a vantage point that never lacks for tenants. Midway of one side
wall the great fireplace yawns, waiting for the sharp, cold nights
when the load of logs upon its iron fire-dogs shall be called upon
to send the smoke wreathing and curling up the chimney's broad and
blackened throat.

Above the wide mantel-shelf are crossed two faded colors, hanging
motionless from their staves, save when some stray current of air
idly stirs their tarnished, golden fringes: "Old Glory," with its
stripes and star-sown field, is one; the other, the white banner of
the Commonwealth, beneath whose crest the ever-watchful Indian stands
guard. In a long, glittering row, below the mantel, hang the polished
pewter mugs, swinging expectantly, each upon its hook, and seeming to
say--as they flash back the sunbeams, or reflect the light of the fire
below--"Come, fill us, empty us: and have done with the worries of the
day!"

Furniture? Yes, there's a plenty. Fronting the hospitable fireplace
a long, oaken table stands sturdily upon its solid legs, as indeed
it _must_--for often and often, when the fire is crackling, it has
to bear a load of lazy soldiers, who delight to roost along its edge
and match the logs in smoking: chairs enough there are to be sure,
but somehow there comes a greater sense of comfort and ease to one
who perches on a table's edge. Beneath a trophy of Arab swords and
spears stands the bookcase, on whose shelves the literature ranges
from Tibdall, Upton, and the long and ever-lengthening series of
solemn black "Reports," to the crazy yarns of Lever, and the books
whose backs bear the names of Captain King and Kipling. In one corner
the upright piano, in its ebony case, has its station--and here our
lieutenant-colonel holds command undisputed, for his touch upon the
ivory keys can make the rafters ring with the airs that we all know
and like the best; not far away, a pillowed lounge stands waiting
for an occupant; and all about are scattered small tables, ready for
the whist players. A few rugs and half a dozen deer-skins litter the
floor; while here and there, along the walls, are fixed the heads
and horns of elk and mountain sheep--for there are two among us who
spend their leaves each year far in the West, amid the big game.
Everywhere there are pictures: engravings, etchings, colored prints,
and, last and most of all, photographs by the dozen, and almost by
the hundred--for we of the Third always have borne a reputation for
unflinchingly facing the camera.

This is "The Battery."

Yes, this is The Battery, and here you may drop in on any night with
the certainty of finding a pipe and a mug, and good fellows in plenty
with whom to pass the time of day and pick to bits the latest thing in
the way of general orders.

What gave it the name? I cannot tell. I only know that we always have
spoken of it thus, perhaps because of the shining brass howitzers
that stand on end, one on either side of the chimney-piece. At odd
times, to be sure, we have talked of giving the old sky-parlor some
more high-sounding title, but the years have gone by without ever our
getting to it, and the name which first was thrown at the place has
stuck to it. And now, since Pollard, our junior major, has used his
influence in municipal politics to have the name of the court changed
to correspond, the chances are that "The Battery" it will be, so long
as the Third stands _first_ in the service--which, we fondly hope,
will be always.

One night in December we had been having a battalion drill at the
armory, and--an occurrence by no means uncommon--a goodly array of
officers from other regiments had come over to see our work, and
openly congratulate us upon the beauty of it, while secretly hugging
to their hearts the conviction that _they_ could do the same things
twice as well. When the armory part of the programme had been put out
of the way, we all adjourned to The Battery, and there--after Sam had
relieved the visitors of their heavy, military coats, which he folded
and stacked upon a chair, like so many cheap ulsters in a ready-made
clothing store--our guests went 'round the room on the usual tour of
inspection, while those of us who had not detailed ourselves to act as
guides helped Sam to load the long table with pewters.

Presently all the mugs had been filled with beer, and at a glance
from the colonel we gathered about him. "Gentlemen of the Third,"
he said, raising his froth-capped mug, "our guests!"--and upon this
hint we drank heartily, and very willingly indeed, to the visiting
officers whom we had with us. Then Major Wilson, the senior of our
guests, proposed _our_ healths, and with the conclusion of this simple
ceremony we laid aside all formality, and scattered ourselves over the
room, while Sam passed around the tray of pipes and the great Japanese
jar of cut-plug.

Each equipped with corn-cob and mug--for our tastes are not luxurious,
and beer and tobacco amply satisfy them--we split up into groups, and
as the smoke-cloud became more dense the talk grew louder, until the
clatter of mugs, the humming monotone of many voices, and the frequent
bursts of laughter combined to drown the sound of the hissing and
crackling logs in the fireplace.

"Is that one of your trophies, Major?" asked Kenryck, of the brigade
staff, speaking to Sawin, our surgeon, and nodding up at a huge pair
of moose horns upon the wall above the mantel.

"No, that's a contribution from the colonel," replied Sawin, _alias_
"Bones," setting down his mug and wiping his mustache as he spoke.
"Langforth and I plead guilty to the slaughter of most of these horns
and hides, for we're the 'mighty hunters' of this aggregation, but
_that_ pair of antlers fell to someone else's rifle. Splendid pair,
eh? There's a sort of story goes with 'em, too. Ask the colonel."

"Yes, there _is_ a story connected with that pair," said Colonel
Elliott, who, from his side of the table, overheard the doctor's
suggestion. He rose, transferred his chair and mug to a position
next Kenryck, and continued: "In fact, when we began to fit up this
place, we made it a rule not to admit among the decorations anything
which didn't have a history of some sort. So, you see, The Battery
is rather an interesting establishment, and if any of us had time or
taste for that sort of thing we could get up a good-sized book without
having to go outside these walls to hunt for material."

"It's a mighty interesting outfit--the whole of it," said Kenryck,
glancing up and down the long room, and noting the collection of odds
and ends upon the walls and in every nook and corner. "We're pretty
well fixed, up at _our_ headquarters, but we've nothing so homelike
as this. The general often says that he enjoys nothing more than an
inspection of the Third, with a 'wind-up' afterwards up here. Possibly
you've noticed that, on occasions of that sort, his whole staff is apt
to come with him."

"Yes," said the colonel dryly, remembering the extra cases of beer
which have to be laid in against such emergencies as an official visit
from the brigade staff; "yes, I've noticed it. It's very flattering to
us, I'm sure."

Kenryck must have been aware of something in the colonel's tone, for
he promptly drew upon his reserve supply of tact and said, "Do you
mind telling me the story of those horns? It's worth hearing, I know,
for Sawin put me up to asking for it."

"It's an old story to 'Bones,'" said the colonel, adding, as Sam
passed him, "Break into another case, Sam, and then chuck a couple
more sticks into the fire."

"It must be a good one, then, or he never would have let me in for
it," remarked Kenryck.

"I wouldn't be too sure of that," said the colonel, laughing; "the
doctor's capable of almost anything inhuman, and he may be paying
off an old score, for all _you_ know, by letting you in for a
twenty-minute bore. 'Bones,' what's your grudge against Kenryck?"--but
the surgeon had joined a group at another table, and so the colonel,
getting no reply to his question, went on: "Do you see that little
ivory plate fastened to the shield on which the horns are mounted?
Well, that bears an inscription something like this:

John Harnden Pender, C.S.N.,
             to
    Henry Elliott, U.S.N.
      Jan'y 29th, 1871.

"And the story is not a long one:

"My father was interested in shipping, and at the breaking out of the
war he owned quite a respectable little fleet of vessels. Most of them
were employed in coastwise trade, but he had something like three
or four square-riggers winging it back and forth between here and
England--and sometimes, though rarely, one of his vessels would make a
longer voyage, to Bombay, or 'round the Horn to Frisco. Ah, those were
the good old days! when the harbor was crowded with shipping, and at
least every other ship flew the stars and stripes," and the colonel
raised his mug to his lips, as if drinking to the past glories of our
merchant marine.

"It must have been a pleasant sight," said Kenryck, in the pause
incident to this operation. "I'm a young man, and can't remember that
time, but now-days it's sort of pathetic to see the harbor filled with
huge steamers under foreign bunting, while here and there along the
docks a few wretched little schooners represent our maritime dignity."

"Yes, it's pathetic enough," said the colonel, "but it's more
humiliating than pathetic. However, we can't go into the discussion
of what knocked in the head our ocean carrying trade without running
foul of politics, and politics are barred, up here in The Battery.

"Well, to get back to my story: my father naturally had quite an
acquaintance among Englishmen, and in Liverpool there was an old party
named McClintock, with whom, in particular, he had very extensive
dealings. In course of time he and my governor became great chums,
and finally it got so that once in two years, and sometimes oftener,
one or the other of them would cross the pond, nominally on business,
but really for a visit. Lord! how well I can remember old David
McClintock--'Mac,' my governor used to call him. Square-built and
stocky, hearty and bluff, intellectually sure, but _awfully_ slow--he
certainly was a man to make an impression, for he represented a type
with which we are not over-familiar on this side the water. I can't
forget how he used to laugh at the governor's yarns: ten minutes would
go by without any sign of comprehension from him; then he would begin
to shake; and finally the spasm would pass away, leaving him gasping
for breath, and scarlet in the face. Really, Kenryck, I used to worry
about old Mac, at those times, for his internal mirth was something
awful, and it made me fear for his blood-vessels."

"I know a man like that," put in Kenryck, "and it makes me nervous to
be near him when anything amuses him. But somehow, Colonel, he seems
to get more satisfaction from his silent way of laughing than most men
do who laugh out loud."

"The last time that McClintock came over to this side," continued
the colonel, after a glance at the antlers and the faded colors
crossed below them, "was in '60. He brought his daughter with him--a
pretty girl, too; about eighteen at that time. I'm not making any
official statement, Kenryck, but I've always thought that the two old
gentlemen had put their heads together with an idea of arranging an
international marriage, in which one of the leading parts was to have
been assigned to me. It may be, though, that my suspicions have been
unfounded, for there certainly never was anything _said_ about it.
Anyway, if either old Mac or my governor had been indulging in any
schemes of that sort, they were destined to disappointment, because,
firstly, I had reasons for thinking that a certain little Boston girl
was about the proper thing for me, and secondly--and a clincher on
obstacle number one--little Bess McClintock took a strong dislike to
me. Never quite understood _why_," said the colonel, meditatively
tugging at his mustache, "and don't yet. I thought that most girls
rather liked me, in those days. Probably she saw through the whole
business--for she was a level-headed little chap--and got huffed at
the idea of being 'managed.'"

"Yes?" said Kenryck, with a rising inflection which hinted at a
lack of any very lively interest in what was being said, and led
the colonel to continue: "Well, all this is neither here nor there,
Kenryck, and you must pardon me for getting away from my yarn. But
a pipe and a good listener always tempt me to talk along rather
aimlessly.

"When old Mac and his daughter came for their visit, we had with
us a young fellow named Pender, from Charleston. He was the son of
a man with whom my father, in the course of his southern trade,
had a very considerable amount of business, and he had come north
to settle up some matter or other--_just_ what, I forget. Gad! but
he was a hot-headed little chap! At that time, you know, feeling
was beginning to run pretty high, and I had to do some pretty sharp
manoeuvering in order to keep peace in our house, for my father
was uncompromisingly patriotic, and even went so far as to favor
abolition, while Pender--well, Pender was a southerner to the
core, and went in, neck-or-nothing, for the 'Sacred Institution,'
and States' Rights, and all those things over which later we went
to fighting. It was a cheerful day for me when he finished up his
business and went back home, for though in some ways I liked him well
enough, yet while he was at our house I never sat down to a meal
without an uncomfortable feeling that at any minute some chance remark
might fire a train that would bring about a general explosion.

"It always seems strange to me, when I remember the radical difference
in temperament, but old McClintock developed quite a liking for
Pender. To be sure, he didn't fall in with all of his ideas, but
he had a certain amount of sympathy for the southern view of the
situation, and he used to reply to my governor's criticisms of Pender
with, 'Eh, but he's a spirited lad, ye know--a spirited lad. Bide a
wee, Elliott, bide a wee. Years will give the boy more wisdom.'

"Well, in due time old Mac and his daughter went, and the war came,"
went on Colonel Elliott, after a pause which lessened by half a pint
the contents of his mug. "I went out with the 'Old Regiment,' and
for the better part of four years I was a stranger to this part of
the country. When finally I came home for good and all, I found my
father retired from business, and in feeble health. His little fleet
had disappeared. For some of the vessels which once composed it the
_Alabama_ could have accounted, and the general feeling of insecurity
in shipping circles had caused him to sell the rest. In '66 the
governor died, and about a month afterwards I received a letter from
old Mac, in which he expressed the deepest sorrow, and said that I
must come to see him in Liverpool, since he had determined never again
to visit the States.

"Pender I had lost sight of, and almost had forgotten, for with my
father's retirement from business I lost touch with many of our old
friends and acquaintances, and besides, the war rather cleaned the
slate of our southern connections."

"There must have been a funny state of affairs in business, right
after the war," observed Kenryck, making a gallant attempt to conceal
a yawn, and, by the aid of his sheltering mug, succeeding in his
effort.

"There _was_," said the colonel, "and for some time afterwards, too.
It took more than one year for northern business men to forget some
slight irregularities which showed themselves in the course of trade
about that period.

"Well, after I'd hung up my sword, had my commission and discharge
properly framed, and told my war stories to everyone who could be
induced to listen to them, I began to look about for an occupation. I
ended up by drifting into marine insurance.

"One forenoon, early in '71--the 29th of January, according to that
little plate up there on the horns--I was sitting in my office and
wrestling with the question whether I should lunch at half-past
twelve or wait until one. Business happened to be quiet then, you see,
and so I was able to give a good deal of thought to minor details
like that. I had just decided in favor of half-past twelve, when a
messenger came in and informed me that a certain Captain Pender was
very desirous of having me come to the county jail to see him. Beyond
this bald statement I could get no information except that the man who
had sent for me was locked up on a pretty serious charge--just what,
or how grave, the messenger didn't know.

"This bit of information made me forget all about the lunch question,
and I wasted no time in getting over to the jail. And there, safely
tucked away behind the bars, I found my Charleston acquaintance of
'60--fuming and boiling with rage, and with the maddest kind of
rage, too. Why, Pender was no lamb, at best, but when I got to him,
that day, it was an even chance whether he'd kick down the walls
of his cell or bite off the iron bars of the grated door. And his
_language_--oh, it was sublime! I was in active service for four
years, Kenryck, and gained some knowledge of the power of words; I've
stood by and listened to an army teamster's remarks to a team of
balky mules; I've even had occasion myself to make brief addresses to
company skulkers whom I've caught modestly stealing to the rear; but
I _never_ knew how much could be got out of our mother tongue until I
stood outside of that cell door, and heard Pender tell what he thought
of the man who had managed to get him shut up there."

"Well, what had he done?" asked Kenryck, as the colonel paused to
signal for Sam, by rapping with his empty mug upon the table. "Had he
shot that moose out of season?"

"Bah! no, he was in for a worse shooting affair than _that_," replied
the colonel, still smiling at the remembrance of Pender's outburst.
"After he'd cursed himself out of breath, and had been compelled, from
sheer exhaustion, to seat himself upon the edge of his cot, I managed
to get at the story of the whole trouble. It ran something like this:

"When the 'late unpleasantness' began, Pender, as you may have
guessed, lost no time in taking a hand in the game, and as his
tastes led him in that direction he entered the confederate naval
service--such as it was. He was a capable officer, without any doubt,
and promotion came rapidly in his case, for, a little over two years
after the war had begun, he had reached the rank of captain. Now the
other side never was very strong in the naval branch of the service,
and after a time Pender--who never was any _too_ patient--began to
fidget and fuss because he couldn't seem to get a vessel that suited
him, and, what was worse, could see no prospect of having one provided
for him. Well, what do you suppose he did? You've heard of the
_Halifax_ affair?"

"No," said Kenryck, "can't say that I have--or, if I have, I don't
recall it now."

"It was as plucky an exhibition as was put up by either side during
the whole war--about the same sort of exploit that some of our fellows
performed when they captured the locomotive inside the confederate
lines," said the colonel, taking the replenished mug which Sam had
brought him. "Pender, as I have said, wanted a ship,--and wanted it
badly,--so, as the confederacy wasn't _building_ many at that time,
he calmly sat down and gave his brains a chance, and ended up by
figuring out that it would be comparatively easy, and superlatively
cheap, to come up north and help himself to one.

"And he _did_ it, too, by Jove!" said the colonel, bringing his fist
down with a thump upon the oaken table. "He just took his pick among
the officers whom he knew, and selected an even half-dozen, besides
himself, to work out his little idea. One by one they slipped inside
our lines, and finally they all got together safely up here in Boston.
It must have been nuts for Pender--the secret and solemn conspirators'
meetings, the planning and plotting of when and how, and the stiff
seasoning of danger which gave spice to the whole undertaking. He
told me himself that he gladly would give ten years of his life to go
through with it again.

"At that time there was a line of steamers running between this
port and the 'Provinces,' and the vessels composing it were all
first-class, seaworthy craft; for, as probably you know, there's
pretty nasty weather to be met, off there to the east'ard. Now, of
the whole lot the _Halifax_ was the best, and our government had
had an eye on her for some time, for she had in her the making of
a good gun-boat, and would have come up very handily to blockading
requirements. But Pender's eye was just as keen as Uncle Sam's, and
Pender's motions were a great deal more sudden, and so the _Halifax_
never attained the dignity of a place in our navy; for, when she
left her dock to begin her last voyage 'Down East,' she bore upon
her passenger-list seven ornamentally fictitious names, under cover
of which travelled Captain John Harnden Pender, C.S.N., and the six
choice spirits whom he had chosen to back him up."

"So he stole her, did he?" exclaimed Kenryck, at last beginning to
take a little interest in the story.

"_Stole_ her! no, indeed," said Colonel Elliott, in a tone of
rebuke. "That's hardly a gentlemanly way to put it. In war you don't
steal things: you _capture_ them. Identity in ideas, you know, but
dissimilarity in terms. Pender would be hurt if he should happen to
hear his exploit classed as larceny. Well, the _Halifax_ went churning
along on her course, and until she was well outside the bay there was
nothing unusual in the conduct of her passengers. But when she had a
good offing, there came a transformation scene; and, all of a sudden,
the men in the pilot-house and engine-room found themselves looking
into the barrels of a very respectable number of navy revolvers.

"There wasn't much chance for argument. One of the engineers tried it
on, but he only got shot for his pains--and the results in his case
seemed to discourage the others. In short, the job was done neatly and
in a thoroughly workmanlike way, and it took, all told, not much over
half an hour to change the course of the _Halifax_ from a northerly to
a southerly one. Sounds easy, doesn't it? Well, it _was_."

"So they got clean away with her?" said the colonel's listener. "It
hardly seems possible!"

"Yes, at first they played in luck, and got away with her right
enough," said Colonel Elliott; "but their luck failed to hold, and off
the coast of the Carolinas they had to go blundering plump into the
blockading squadron. Sandy as Pender was, he couldn't fight his ship
with Colt's revolvers, so, when he found himself in a fair way to be
pocketed by two or three of our cruisers, he made the best of a bad
mess, headed the poor old _Halifax_ for the shore, sent her, head
on and at full speed, upon the sands, and left her there ablaze from
stem to stern. I don't know what he said during the operation, but I'd
bet something that if his words were put into print they'd have to be
bound in asbestos or some other non-inflammable material. Well, it
_was_ hard luck, and--Union veteran though I am--I'm damned if I can
help feeling sorry that Pender didn't get away with his ship! I'd have
liked to see what he'd have done with her."

The colonel reached for the tobacco-jar, filled a corn-cob, lighted
it, and then went on: "After this unsuccessful experiment of his, he
failed to get many more chances, for in some scrimmage or other he
managed to get badly used up, and didn't get fairly into shape until
the war was nearly over. When finally the Confederacy went down he was
one of those who couldn't philosophically accept the result of the
struggle, and in an aimless sort of way he drifted over to England.
There he brought up at Liverpool, and in the course of events happened
again upon old David McClintock. Well, after this he had everything
his own way, for the old man completely surrendered to him. First, he
went to stay at Mac's house; next, he went into business with him; and
finally he made love to Bess and married her. He couldn't have wasted
much time over it all, either, for it all had taken place when he
showed up, here in Boston, in '71. But that was Pender all over. 'Eh,
but he was a spirited lad, ye know.'"

Kenryck laughed at this application of old McClintock's words, and the
colonel, who had stopped to pack more closely the tobacco in his pipe,
continued: "He had come to Boston on a matter of business, and was
about to look me up when he found himself put behind the bars, almost
as soon as he had stepped off the New York train. How did _that_
come about? Very simply. It seems that he had met, at some hotel in
Liverpool, a Boston man who still was rabid on the war question. The
fellow wasn't a veteran, but was one of those who staid at home and
_shouted_ for the Union--and they are the ones who keep the hatchet
longest unburied. Somehow he managed to get into a discussion with
Pender, and displayed such a lamentable lack of tact that, before
he half knew it, the little ex-rebel had knocked him flat, and had
repeated the operation twice running. It was a sort of argument to
which he was unaccustomed, and he seemed offended at it."

"A bit put out, eh?" said Kenryck, with a grin at the matter-of-fact
way in which Colonel Elliott made this latter statement.

"More _knocked_ out," replied the colonel, with an answering smile.
"I'm not wasting much sympathy over him, for he wasn't exactly the
style of man I like. Why, Kenryck, instead of getting up and going for
Pender, he slunk off quietly and, all by himself, hatched up a dirty
little scheme for squaring the account without running further risk of
getting a black eye.

"In some way he'd got hold of Pender's war record, and, learning that
he shortly was to come across to this side, he made off, post-haste,
for Boston, where he set to work very industriously to arrange a
proper reception for the man who had presumed to punch his patriotic
nose. I must admit that he did his work very nicely, and the first
results probably were quite gratifying to him, for about as soon as
Pender set foot in this town he was arrested under a warrant charging
piracy, and murder on the high seas, and pretty much every cheerful
sort of crime and misdemeanor, all on account of his little escapade
on the _Halifax_, eight years before. It was at this stage of the game
that I was called upon to take a hand."

"Why, I'm blessed if I can see--" began Kenryck.

"How the charges could be supported, eh?" said the colonel, finishing
his question for him. "Well, they couldn't be, and weren't. The case
never came to trial, for we were able to show the facts of the matter
in the proper light, and with less trouble than I had dared hope. But
I had to trot up bail to the amount of fifteen thousand before I could
put Pender into more congenial quarters, and, first and last, I wasted
the better part of a week in getting the complications disentangled."

"And _then_ what happened?" asked Kenryck, with a grin of
anticipation. "I suppose Pender took the first chance to knock the
head off his man?"

"_Wouldn't_ he have!" said Colonel Elliott, with something like a sigh
of relief at the thought that his peppery little southerner was safe
in Liverpool again, and unlikely ever to cause him further trouble.
"Why, Kenryck, I honestly thought he'd be back again in jail inside
of a week, and for _real_ murder, too. But, luckily, our friend the
informer found it convenient to leave town as soon as he saw the turn
affairs were taking, and so the gutters didn't run with blood, after
all.

"Well, things calmed down, and in time Pender cooled off sufficiently
to attend to his business. But he worried the life half out of me
by thanking me over and over again, at all sorts of times and in
all sorts of places, for what he was pleased to call my 'soldierly
magnanimity.' At last, and just as he was beginning to become rather
a bore, he took himself off on a hunting trip, somewhere up Canada
way, and that was the last I saw of him, for he went back to England
by way of Montreal. But after he'd been gone about three weeks I had
a reminder of him, in the shape of that pair of horns, which, with
his card attached, came to me by express. I had them mounted on the
shield, and put that plate upon them, partly because they recall
rather an odd experience, and partly to keep myself in mind that the
war is over."

"Now, that's quite a story," said Kenryck, as the colonel paused. "I
should think, though, that you would keep the horns at home. They are
a splendid pair, and the story makes them doubly valuable."

"I had them in my hall for years," said the colonel, "but when we
set out to fit up The Battery here, I chipped them in as part of my
contribution, for that space of wall, in there between the colors,
seemed made on purpose for them. But those antlers are not my only
reminder of Pender's gratitude," he continued, taking out his
pocket-book and extracting from it a photograph of a bald-headed,
pudgy-faced infant, "for here's a picture of a young Liverpool citizen
who rejoices in the name of Henry Elliott Pender. He's Pender's third,
and he's bound to grow up into a terrible little rebel, for his father
is still unreconstructed. Doesn't look very formidable, does he? I'm
ready, though, to bet my commission against a corporal's warrant that,
one of these days, I'll have a namesake in either Her Majesty's army
or navy, for the little rascal comes of fighting stock, and blood
will tell."

"Apparently the doctor _didn't_ have a grudge to settle," said
Kenryck, handing back the photograph. Then, after disposing of what
little beer was left in his pewter, he got upon his feet, saying,
"Well, Colonel, I hope I'll have the luck to get up here often, for I
want to hear the stories that go with the rest of these odds and ends."

"Hello!" said Colonel Elliott, glancing at the clock. "Is it so late
as _that_! Trust I've not bored you; you're too good a listener to
frighten away."

Kenryck went to rescue his overcoat from the fast diminishing pile
upon the chair, while the colonel, pipe in hand, took up a position
near the door, to bid good-night to our departing guests. By twos
and threes our visitors left us, and then the colonel, as the last
descending footfall echoed faintly up the long staircase, turned and
glanced at the disorderly array of empty mugs. "I venture to assert,"
he said, with a laugh, "that there are worse places for story-telling
than The Battery. Judging by appearances, I think it doubtful if
there's been a _dry_ yarn told to-night, up here."

"Twenty-two, twenty-four, twenty-six," counted Sam, as he made the
rounds of the deserted tables. "Twenty-six mugs t' clean an' shine
up! Wal, 'twan't sich a bad evenin' a'ter all." And we left him
gathering up the tarnished pewters, and swearing strange, New England
oaths--"B'gosh!" and "I swan!" and "Gol darn!"--at the prospect of the
morrow's polishing.



ONE RECORD
ON THE
REGIMENTAL ROLLS



ONE RECORD
ON THE
REGIMENTAL ROLLS.


"Very pretty," said the colonel, "very pretty, indeed. Quite up to
_our_ standard, eh, Jack? Guard looks small, though,--doesn't it?--to
one who's used to seeing twenty-four files paraded." The colonel and
I had got leave for a couple of weeks to run down to Old Point to see
the heavy gun practice, and now we stood watching the new guard as it
marched away to relieve the old details.

Yes, it _was_ pretty, all of it,--very pretty indeed,--and I felt
repaid for the early breakfast we had taken in order to get over to
the fort in time for the ceremony. The surroundings made a fitting
frame for the picture: before us lay the broad, green floor of the
level parade, its carpet of short-cropped turf still glistening with
the morning dew; the angular lines of the great, ungainly barracks
somehow looked less harsh in the warm sunshine; and the officers'
quarters, half hidden beneath the scrubby oaks and overhanging
willows, looked cosey and comfortable--and almost too homelike for
such a place.

While the gray, sod-capped walls of the old fort still were ringing
with the quickstep played by the four smart trumpeters who led the
guard in its march, we turned and left the parade, loitering for a
moment at the place where the old guns--relics of Yorktown, Saratoga,
and many another by-gone siege and battle--lie sullen and dumb,
while the green mould of long years gathers ever more thickly upon
cascabel, chase, and trunnion. "Back numbers," said the colonel, half
to himself, as he stooped to read the inscription deeply graven in the
metal of an old field-piece, "back numbers, all of them. 'Captured at
Yorktown'--and that was more than a hundred years ago! Well, those who
won and those who lost are under ground now, and the old gun's dead,
too. It has said its last word."

We sauntered away, through the echoing archway, and across the
drawbridge which spans the green and quiet water of the wide ditch;
and as we slowly walked past the water battery, with its long row of
grim, black Rodmans frowning out upon the bay--each in its vaulted
casemate--like so many kennelled watch-dogs, the colonel broke the
silence with, "Do you know, Jack, I don't care particularly about
watching the firing to-day? The pounding we got yesterday was
infernal. I hope this country can steer clear of war until we've
perfected the pneumatic gun."

"Well, I don't know," said I. "Wouldn't that seem too much like
fighting with bean-blowers?"

"It wouldn't much resemble the fighting in the old days--and that's a
fact," replied the colonel, kicking into the ditch a pebble from the
gravelled roadway, and smiling at the sudden scattering of a school of
little fish, caused by the unexpected splash. "I'm not so sure, after
all, that I'm in a hurry for the time to arrive when some fellow,
ten miles or so away, can free a lot of compressed air, and by means
of it drop half a barrel of dynamite in my vicinity--without even so
much as a puff of smoke to show which way I ought to turn to bow my
acknowledgments. I've an idea, old man, that a little occurrence of
that sort would scatter even the gallant Third about as completely and
expeditiously as my pebble disorganized those minnows."

A few steps more brought us beyond the last of the curving line of
casemates, and as we turned towards the hotel the colonel said, "I
feel that I'm growing old, for now-a-days even a little heavy gun
firing makes my ears ache, and anything _over_ a little bores me.
Thirty years ago I didn't mind it so much as I do now. _Thirty years
ago?_ Why, Jack, I can't realize it! But it must be that: yes, '61
from '91; that makes it--and it makes me an old man, too."

"Nonsense!" said I, laughing, for in all the Third there is no
younger-hearted man than the colonel who commands it. "It makes you
nothing of the sort. In '61 you were nineteen; add thirty to that--and
it leaves you still on the sunny side of fifty. See here, Colonel; on
our rolls we have seven hundred men, and some few over--how many are
there among them who could down you to-day?"

"Not many, if I _do_ say it," replied the colonel, with his usual
modesty, drawing himself up and stretching out one long arm, to gaze
contemplatively at the sinewy wrist and compact bunch of knuckles
with which it terminated. "But all that only goes to show how well
preserved I am, for I _am_ an old man, in spite of what you say.
Confound you, Jack! Can't you let a veteran have the satisfaction of
_feeling_ venerable and antique?"

"All right," I replied, laughing again. "You're my commanding officer,
and if you order me to consider you a relic, why, I must, I suppose.
Perhaps it may comfort you to know that the boys conversationally
refer to you as 'the old man.'"

"There, enough of that," said the colonel, as we stepped upon the
planking of the long piazza. "What's the use of discussing my
infirmities? Now, how shall we kill time this forenoon? Billiards?
No, hardly; it's too good a day to waste indoors. I'll tell you what
we'll do, my boy: we'll go over to Hampton and take a look at the old
fellows in the 'Home.' Which shall it be, drive or walk?"

"Walk," said I promptly, as I felt the fresh, salt breeze come
stealing in from off the water; "yes, we'll walk, unless at your
advanced age you don't feel quite up to the exertion."

"Walk it is, then," said the colonel, ignoring my attempt to pay
proper deference to his accumulated years. "Just wait a second,
though; I must fill my pockets before we start. I like to lay a trail
of cigars when I go among the old boys," and with this he disappeared
into the hotel, from which he emerged a moment later, bearing a paper
of weeds which, he explained, were not rankly poisonous for open-air
smoking, though they might involve some unpleasant consequences if
lighted within-doors.

We set off at a swinging gait along the road, and in something less
than half an hour found ourselves at the entrance of the well-kept
grounds in which are clustered the buildings of the Soldiers' Home.
It is a beautiful place, that quiet spot by the southern sea, and I
never could tire of strolling along its flower-bordered walks, and
among its sunny nooks and corners. And yet, even in the midst of the
brightest sunshine, one cannot escape the thought that the hundreds
upon hundreds of gray-haired, feeble men who throng these grounds have
come here, after all, only to _die_, and are waiting--waiting until it
shall be their turn to be carried out to the great graveyard which,
with its acres and acres of white headstones, lies but a few short
steps outside the gates. It is a thought that somehow seems to dim the
sunshine a little, and though the place is wonderfully picturesque,
and wears an outward air of ease and comfort, yet I, for one, never
can be there without feeling almost awe-stricken at the remembrance of
what it all means.

"Now, Jack," said the colonel, as we walked leisurely along the broad,
hard roadway, which runs parallel with the blue waters of Hampton
Roads, "keep an eye out for 'blue Maltees,' for that's the particular
breed of cats we're after."

"All right," I replied, interpreting this command to mean that I was
to be on the watch for veterans wearing the badge of the old 19th Army
Corps--the blue Maltese cross; a device which we of the Third still
retain, in memory of the days when the "Old Regiment" won its renown.
"White diamonds, red crescents, and stars of every color seem to be
plenty, Colonel, but, so far as I can see, 'Maltees' are at a premium."

"Oh, we shall find one," said the colonel, "we surely shall find one.
There are rows upon rows of them lying quietly over yonder," with a
nod towards the flag floating above the cemetery, "but they are not
yet all mustered out. There's one now, over on that bench. See him?"

Yes, I saw him; a short, wiry man; a man with whitened hair, keen gray
eyes, a sharply-pointed nose, and a clean-shaven face whose every line
and wrinkle betokened shrewdness and native wit. At the first brief
glance I knew him for a Yankee, a thoroughbred old New Englander.

He was sitting alone upon the bench, with one knee drawn up and held
by his clasped hands. Upon his cap he wore the blue Maltese cross
we had been seeking, and on the breast of his faded and loosely
fitting army blouse hung a simple medal of bronze. Into one corner
of his mouth was stuck a quaintly carved, briar-wood pipe, and as
he tranquilly sat there, blowing from his thin lips an occasional
puff of smoke, he seemed contented with himself and the world in
general--and I somehow thought that in his expression I saw something
different from the air of hopelessness which had been so sadly common
to the many old soldiers we had passed before we happened upon him.

"Hello, comrade," said the colonel, walking towards the bench on which
the old fellow sat, and throwing open his coat to bring into view the
enamelled corps badge pinned upon his waistcoat, "how goes it with
you?"

"Fust-rate," replied the veteran, without bothering to remove his
pipe from its resting place. "How be ye?" he went on, speaking with a
sharp, nasal twang which at once opened my heart to him--for he _was_
a Yankee, and I love the honest, hardy old stock that comes from among
the New England hills and valleys. "I see _you_ was in th' ol' 19th,
too," said he, moving over to the end of the seat. "Set ye down an' be
comf'table."

"Yes, I went out with the --th Massachusetts and saw the thing
through," said the colonel, seating himself next his new-found
friend and leaving vacant for me one end of the bench. "What was your
regiment?"

"Burdett's Batt'ry, New Hampshire," replied the old fellow, with
a critical side-glance at the colonel; "an' if ye was in th'
Massachusetts --th ye won't have no trouble in rememberin' how our
guns use'ter sound, neither."

"Lord! I should _say_ not," said the colonel, turning to me with,
"This comes to pretty much the same thing as meeting an old
acquaintance, Jack, for Burdett's Battery was one of the best in our
division, and the 'Old Regiment' has supported it more times than
one. Yes, indeed," he went on, as he reached into his pocket for his
cigars, "I've listened to your music many a day. Good music, too,
it was. The infantry does the work--but sometimes guns are mighty
comforting companions."

"You _bet_ they be," said the old artilleryman, shaking the ashes from
his pipe and taking a cigar from the paper which the colonel held
towards him. "Thank ye. A pipe's my reg'lar smoke, but once 'n a while
I kind o' like t' change off onto a cigar. Yis, I was in Burdett's
Light Batt'ry, an' was mustered out a sargint."

"What brought you down here?" asked the colonel, handing a match to
the old soldier. "Down on your luck a bit, eh?"

"No-o, not exackly," returned the veteran, as he smartly drew the
match across his thigh after the manner of one who had acquired the
habit in active service. Glancing quickly around, and seeing that
we were alone--for the nearest group was gathered beside an old
siege gun, some fifty yards away--he lowered his voice a trifle and
said, "Fact is, I ain't _obliged_ t' board down here, an', strickly
speakin', I s'pose I hadn't oughter be here at all. Ye see, when
I'm home I live up Swanzey way--that's up in New Hampshire, an' not
sech an orful way from th' Massachusetts line. I'm able t' git along
tol'ably comf'table up there, with one odd job an' another, but this
fall I kind o' took it inter my head that I'd like t' spend th' winter
south, an' I managed it, too. So here I be. Nex' spring, though, when
things gits all thawed out up north, I guess I'll move along up agin
t' see th' folks, for this is a terrible shif'less sort o' country,
down here, an' I wouldn't want t' stay here for a stiddy thing."

"I see how it is," laughed the colonel, understanding that this
confession was made because the old sergeant hated to have it
thought that he had been driven by want to accept the government's
hospitality. "You're playing it foxy on Uncle Sam for a little
vacation."

"I s'pose 'taint quite right, lookin' at it in some ways," said the
old gunner apologetically. "But I spent four years south _workin'_
for our Uncle Samuel, an' it _doos_ seem's if I might rest here one
winter at his expense, 'specially sence I'm a sort o' namesake o' his.
Besides, 'taint like it might be 'f I was drawin' a penshin, neither,
for I never tried t' git one, though there's plenty o' men takin'
dollars out o' th' treas'ry that aint got no better claim than I have."

"You're decorated, I see," said I, nodding towards the medal upon his
breast. "Isn't that the 'Medal of Honor' that is awarded only by vote
of Congress?"

"Yis, that's _jest_ what it is," replied the sergeant, unpinning it
and handing it over for my inspection. "Guess 'taint worth much; it's
nothin' but copper. Seems's if the gov'ment don't calc'late t' spend
much on them sort o' fixin's. I got it 'bout three years ago."

"'To Sergeant Samuel Farwell,'" I read aloud, "'October 29th, 1864.'
Do you mean to say, sergeant, that you waited twenty-four years to
obtain recognition of your bravery?"

"Wal, there warn't no one t' blame 'cept me," remarked my New
Englander, taking the medal from the colonel, to whom I had passed it,
and fastening it again in its place upon the breast of his blouse.
"Ye have t' apply for them things yourself, an' git all sorts o'
document'ry evidence t' back ye up. It makes consid'able bother, fust
an' last, an' I'll be darned 'f I'd go through all th' fuss agin for a
peck on 'em."

"Tell us about it," said the colonel, who seemed amused at the light
in which Farwell regarded his decoration. "What did you get it for?"

"What did I git it for?" repeated the old gunner, with a twinkle in
his gray eye and a twitching of the muscles at the corner of his mouth
which warned us that he meditated some outbreak of Yankee wit. "What
_for_? Oh, 'cause--what with Odd Fellers, an' hose companies, an' Sons
o' Vet'rans--there wasn't many people in town that didn't have a medal
o' some description, an' I got this one so 's t' be able t' shine with
th' rest on 'em."

"Pshaw! I don't mean _that_," said the colonel, with a laugh in which
I joined, "What did you _do_ to get it?"

"Why, I thought I'd told ye," said the old fellow, with the twinkle
still visible in his eye. "I _applied_ for it, an' put in my documents
t' prove I warn't lyin'--an' ol' Cap'n Burdett helped me consid'able
by speakin' t' our member o' Congress 'bout it."

"No, no, _no_!" said the colonel, laughing again, "that's not what I
want, either. That medal of yours is awarded only for distinguished
bravery; now, what was the service that made you eligible to receive
it?"

"What did th' gov'nment give it t' me for? ye mean," said the
sergeant, allowing himself a smile at the fun he had had with us.
"Wal, 'taint goin' t' sound like much, but I'd jus' 's lives tell ye.
Hello!" he interjected, "this cigar seems t' be unravellin'."

"Throw it away, then," said the colonel. "Here's another."

"Oh, no! wouldn't do that, would ye?" said the old soldier. "'Twould
seem kind o' wasteful, wouldn't it? I kin tinker this one so's
it'll be all right. Jes' watch me"--and with this he applied his
tongue to the loosened and uncoiling wrapper, and then smoothed the
well-moistened leaf securely into place, remarking, "There! she smokes
as good 's new--an' there's five cents saved."

"Just about," said I, grinning, for an occasional whiff of the smoke
had come my way. "How did you know?"

"Oh, I kin tell a _good_ cigar, every time," remarked the veteran,
liberating a prodigious puff of smoke and sniffing at it with the air
of an expert judge of tobacco. "Smokin' a pipe so much haint hurt my
taste for cigars a mite."

"Glad you like them," said the colonel, turning upon me an ominous
frown which checked any inclination I might have had to go more deeply
into the subject. "Now, about that medal?"

"Oh, yis, 'bout th' medal," said Farwell, with just one look at his
cigar to see how his repairs held out. "Wal, ye mus'n't think I'm
boastin'--'cause I aint. What I done warn't no more than I've seen
done time an' time agin--an' you, too, 'f you was four years with th'
--th Massachusetts--an' I never'd have thought twice 'bout it 'f Cap'n
Burdett hadn't kep' urgin' me on t' apply for th' medal. Pooh! 'taint
nothin' but a trinket, anyway, an' it's no earthly use t' me nor
anyone."

"Don't apologize. Go ahead with the story," I put in, recognizing the
chance of an interesting half hour. "You didn't volunteer to tell us,
you know. We asked you."

"Yes, go ahead," said the colonel, lighting a cigar, which, by the
way, he took from his leather case, and not from the paper of weeds he
had brought from the hotel. "I should say that things had come to a
funny pass when one of the old 19th's boys is bashful about yarning to
another."

"Lord! ye don't need t' think that," said the veteran. "_I_ ain't
bashful 'bout tellin' ye. All I was 'fraid of was that p'raps ye'd
think I set myself up for bein' extra courageous--which I don't. Wal,
here's all th' story there is to 't:

"We was down here in Virginia, at a place we called Three Mile
Creek--'twouldn't be many hundred miles from here, 'f a crow was t'
fly it. Like enough _you_ was there?"

"Yes, I ought to remember it," said the colonel, "we lost some men
there. Go on, sergeant."

"Lost some men, hey?" said Farwell, clasping his hands behind his
head, and comfortably stretching his legs out upon the gravelled path.
"Wal, I guess ye'll be interested in what I'm goin' t' tell ye, 'f
_that's_ so. I da'say," he continued, "ye kin remember that there
was some shots fired, an' that our skirmishers come back so sudden
that they forgot t' bring along a few that warn't able t' walk. In
fac', they _run_ back, an' we in th' batt'ry thought it an almighty
poor showin' on th' part o' th' infantry. But p'raps we wasn't in no
position t' jedge."

"It was that sudden volley from the woods that sent the boys back in
disorder," said the colonel shortly. "The skirmish line was made up
of seven companies of the --th; _my_ company was one of the three in
reserve."

"Why didn't they wait t' see what hit 'em?" asked the sergeant in a
tone which showed traces of contempt. "D' ye think 'twas th' right
thing t' skedaddle away 'thout bringin' in th' wounded?"

"No, I don't," said the colonel, flushing a little, "and it wasn't
like the 'Old Regiment' to do it. But the boys were pretty well worn
out and broken down by the marching and fighting we'd had, and the
attack was so sudden and unexpected that it rattled them for a time.
You must admit, sergeant, that we had as good a reputation as any
regiment in the 19th Corps."

"Wal, _that's_ so," said the old fellow, brushing an ash stain from
his blouse, "an' I s'pose we noticed th' break more 'cause we warn't
used t' lookin' for sich displays on your part. Now, _we_ was posted
up on a little knoll, ye remember, well over towards th' right; an'
when th' Rebs showed up in th' open--for t' foller up you infantry
fellers--we jes' dropped a round 'r two o' shell down that way, sort
o' hintin' to 'em t' go back where they'd come from."

"So that was _your_ battery, was it?" asked Colonel Elliott. "From the
way the guns were served I always thought it was a regular battery."

"Sho! we'd been in service 'most three year then," said the veteran
gunner, quickly resenting this reflection upon the efficiency of his
beloved battery, "an' we'd had good practice an' lots of it, too.
Would we be takin' p'ints from th' reg'lars or anybody else? _I guess
not!_ No, not by a gol durn sight!"

"You used to put up some pretty stiff work in your line," the colonel
hastened to say, after this outburst. "Why, my boys have yelled
themselves hoarse many a time when you fellows have gone thundering by
to take up position and unlimber."

"Yes, indeed," I put in at this point, "even we _young_ men have heard
of Burdett's Battery, and the work it did"--which wasn't altogether
true, but served to mollify the disturbed sergeant just as well as if
it had been.

"Go on, sergeant," said the colonel, "tell us when _you_ came in. It
isn't possible that you were the--"

"'Twas terrible hot that noon," began the old fellow, as if he had
paid no attention to what we had been saying. "Th' air was close an'
muggy, an' th' smoke jest hung 'round 's if 'twas too tired t' drift
away. Why, we sent up rings o' smoke from th' guns that was jes' as
perfect 's _that_ one," pointing towards one I just had blown from my
lips, "an' they lasted a heap sight longer 'n that did, too."

"Yes," assented the colonel, "it certainly was hotter than--"

"Tophet an' th' brazen hinges thereof," said the veteran. "Yes, 'twas
_awful_ hot, an' a'ter th' flurry was over--that time we served th'
guns so fast--_I_ was jest a-sweatin', I kin tell ye. Thirsty, too?
Wal, I ruther _guess_! Prob'bly that was what put it inter my head
t' take a couple o' canteens an' slip down inter th' medder where
your skirmishers had left their dead an' wounded. Ye see, a'ter I'd
sponged my gun, an' sent home another shell in case it should be
needed, I took a drink, an' while I had th' ol' canteen up t' my lips
th' thought come t' me that p'raps some o' th' poor devils layin' out
there in th' sun might be gettin' dryer 'n all torment."

The colonel had risen from the bench and slowly was pacing to and fro
upon the path, but he kept his eyes fixed upon the old sergeant, and,
when he paused, broke out with, "So _you_ were the one who went to
give water to our boys. Why, man, the risk was awful!"

"'Twarn't neither," said the old fellow, bluntly. "I got back all
right, didn't I?" and then, as his eye fell upon a long, low steamer,
which was ploughing its way along towards Newport News, he dismissed
the whole matter with, "B'gosh! _ain't_ that a pretty sight? See th'
smoke trailin' out behind, an' watch th' sparkle o' th' water. Oh,
this is a great place in some ways. Here 'tis 'most November, an' I'm
settin' out here 'thout no overcoat, an' warm 's a pot o' beans."

"You were fired upon, weren't you?" asked the colonel, whose face wore
a look I never had seen there. Farwell glanced at the scene before him
for a moment longer, and then turned his eyes upon his questioner.
"Oh, yis, th' Johnnies practised on me a little, an' I got scratched
'crost th' wrist. There's th' mark," he said, drawing up his sleeve,
and displaying a scar which ran diagonally across the flesh. "_I_ got
out of it well enough, but I was all-fired sorry 'bout that lieutenant
I brought in with me. He was livin' when I picked him up, but when I
turned him over t' th' boys that run out t' meet me, he was deader 'n
a door-nail--shot plum' through th' head while I was a-luggin' him in,
_an' I never knowed it_! Must ha' b'en that I was excited--or else my
wrist hurt me so I didn't notice. Poor little cuss! I've always felt
that he might ha' be'n alive yet 'f I'd let him be. But ye can't tell;
no, ye can't tell, an' I _meant_ well, anyhow."

"It must be something more than chance that has brought us together,"
said the colonel. "Why, sergeant, that lieutenant was one of my
closest chums--poor little Hale, of Company H. And _you_ brought him
in!"

"Wal, I didn't mean t' get him killed," began Farwell, grasping the
hand the colonel offered, "an' I'm sorry--"

"You need be sorry for nothing," broke in Colonel Elliott, "for the
surgeon looked him over as he lay there in our lines, and found that
he had been mortally wounded at first, so the shot that came last was
only a merciful one."

"Now, _that's_ a piece o' good news," exclaimed the old man. "I've
always worried myself, more or less, wonderin' 'f I hadn't oughter ha'
let him lay where I found him. So _'twarnt_ my fault? Gosh! I'm glad
o' _that_! Wal, that's what they give me th' medal for, an', 's I said
in th' fust place, it don't signify much, one way or t'other."

I got up and shook hands with the old fellow, and then--because I
had a sort of impression that the colonel would like to be left for
a minute alone with him--I walked over to the sea-wall, and stood
looking out over the blue waters where the _Cumberland_ had gone down,
with the old flag defiantly waving, and her men still standing by the
smoking guns. But I wasn't thinking of the heroism that has made this
place forever famous. No; I was wondering if _I_ could do what the old
gunner had done, and then make so little account of it afterwards. I
had been standing there for perhaps ten minutes, watching the gulls as
they lazily swept by, when I felt a hand upon my shoulder, and heard
the colonel say, "It's time we were getting back to the hotel. We've
had experiences enough for one morning, eh, Jack? Well, _now_ what do
you think of the stuff we had in the old corps?"

"Pretty good stuff, if that's a fair sample," I returned, glancing
over at the bench where I had left the old sergeant seated. "Hello!
he's gone."

"Yes, there he is, walking back to quarters. But you'll see him
again," said the colonel, and as we trudged along back towards the
hotel he explained for my approval the details of a scheme which he
had evolved.

Well, the upshot of the whole matter was that when we went north, ten
days later, Sam--for "Sam" is his official title now--went with us.
It took some trouble to get him started, for he had settled himself
at Hampton for a winter of ease and genteel laziness. But the colonel
has a very persuasive way about him, and finally Sam fell a victim to
it. So now he is installed as presiding genius at "The Battery," and
under his watchful eye that comfortable roost of ours becomes more
comfortable day by day; for who can build the cheeriest fire, who can
most brightly polish our pewter mugs, who can while away a dull half
hour with yarns of the by-gone days in camp and field--who, but Sam?

One drill-night, not long after he had come among us, he turned up at
the armory and for nearly an hour stood watching the companies as
they went through with their night's work. I noticed him as he stood
in one corner of the long hall, and thought that he seemed greatly
interested; but I must admit that I was surprised when, a little
later, he walked into the colonel's room and announced that he wished
to enlist. Now, the law allows us one orderly at headquarters, and as
that place then happened to be unfilled we gave it to him.

The colonel himself mustered him in, and I stood by during the
ceremony. Sam stood erect and motionless, and with uplifted hand
swore "to bear true faith and allegiance to the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts," and after he had slowly repeated the closing words of
the military oath--"I do also solemnly swear that I will support the
constitution of the United States. _So help me God_"--he let fall his
hand, and said, "It's close onto thirty years, Cunnel, sence I said
them words, an' th' last time I said 'em they meant a good deal t' me.
But they aint lost none o' their meanin'--an' if this reg'ment ever
has t' go out _I'll go with it_, though I'd a darn sight ruther be at
th' trail of a gun than go t' foolin' with a muskit at my time o'
life."

Later in the evening I happened to see Sam's muster rolls lying
upon the colonel's desk, and out of curiosity glanced through them.
"Name: Farwell, Samuel," I read, "Rank: Private (Hdq'rs Orderly).
_Age_: 65 years. Occupation: Gentleman. _Remarks_: Private, Corporal,
Sergeant; Burdett's (N. H.) Light Battery, U.S. Vols., 1861-65; Medal
of Honor for distinguished bravery." With my finger upon the column
in which Sam's occupation was recorded as that of "Gentleman," I
looked inquiringly at the colonel, who answered my unspoken question
with--"That's right _enough_, Jack. In the first place, he's a
soldier, and you ought to know that the profession of the soldier
is the profession of the gentleman. In the second place, he wasn't
doing anything for a living when we found him--and that surely is
gentlemanly. And lastly, he is a gentleman, every inch of him, and
I'll thank you not to question it."



OUR HORSE "ACME"



OUR HORSE "ACME."


The paymaster piled up a neat little heap of documentary odds
and ends, shoved it to one side, and banged down upon it a heavy
paper-weight. Then he slammed together the thick, leathern covers of
the regimental roll-book, and by sheer force of muscle hoisted that
precious and ponderous volume up to its appointed resting-place. And
finally, after he had sent crashing down the lid of his desk, he
thrust his hands into his pockets, drew a long breath, and looked over
towards the adjoining desk, where the colonel sat writing.

For a minute or so, after this racket had subsided, the scratching of
the colonel's pen steadily continued, but finally there came a long,
rasping sound of steel upon paper, denoting the flourish at the end of
a signature, and the colonel reached for the blotter, saying, as he
applied it to the writing before him, "So you've concluded to call it
a day's work, eh? Well, why couldn't you _say_ so, instead of making
row enough to raise the dead and deafen the living? I take it that
your infernal old rolls are straightened out at last."

"Rolls are up to date; everything's up to date, and I'm square with
the game again," replied the paymaster, locking his desk and pocketing
the key. "About ready to stroll along, Colonel? Brown has stuck his
head in through the doorway a couple of times, with an expression on
his face which forces me to think that he considers our room worth
more than our company."

"I'm ready to call quits," said the colonel, folding his letter and
slipping it into an envelope. "Hello, Brown!" to the armorer, who had
made a third suggestive appearance at the door. "Keeping you up? Too
bad! Well, you may put out these lights, and in a minute more we'll be
out of my room, too. Come along, Pay, it's time decent people were at
home."

"But we're not 'decent people,'" objected the paymaster, as he
followed the colonel to his private room beyond; "we're officers of
the militia, and, in the estimation of many worthy citizens, that
ranks us just one peg _below_ decency. You know Vandercrumb--old
Judge Vandercrumb? Well, t'other day he was at my house and happened
to see my commission hanging in the library. 'What!' says he, in a
politely disgusted sort of way, '_you_ in the militia? Well, I must
say, Langforth, I'm surprised to find you guilty of that!'" and the
paymaster laughed, as he remembered the inflection with which the
words had been spoken. The colonel laughed, too, for Langforth had
imitated to perfection the tones of shocked respectability, and the
anecdote amused him the more because it bore so close a resemblance to
many experiences of his own.

"It always has been so," he said, as he drew on his light overcoat,
"and always will be, I dare say. People see only one side--the 'fuss
and feather' aspect--of volunteering, and the traditions of the old
'milishy' days are slow in dying out. Well, I suppose we can stand it
all, but at times it galls a bit."

"Yes, it _is_ rather rough, to work hard and faithfully, year in and
year out, and then be rewarded by hearing some fellow at one's club
wondering 'how the devil anybody can take any interest in such boy's
play,'" said the paymaster, whose honest love for the service made him
peculiarly sensitive to any covert sneers directed at it. "But, as
you say, we can stand it; and, besides," he went on, "we have our fun
in our quiet way, and I'm weak enough to pity the outsiders, for they
miss more downright sport than I would be willing to forego."

"Yes, we certainly have our fun," said Colonel Elliott, as he walked
with the paymaster down the granite steps of the armory and out
into the deserted street, "but it's been 'all work' to-night, eh,
Langforth? Phew! I've written, since eight o'clock, more letters than
there are in the whole condemned alphabet."

"I've done my share, too," remarked his companion, taking advantage of
the glare of a chance electric light to consult his watch. "Quarter
past eleven; well, it might be worse."

"Say, Langforth," observed the colonel, abruptly halting as they
came to a corner, "if we switch off here and step out a trifle faster
we can flank The Battery, get a pewter and a sandwich, and do it all
before midnight. What do you say--do or don't?"

"Heads, we go; tails, we also go--home," replied Langforth, yawning,
and extracting from his change pocket a nickel. "_Tails_--and be
hanged to it!" he ejaculated, as he held the coin up to the light.
"Well, that settles it; we'll go up to The Battery. It takes more than
a miserable five-cent bit to send me hungry and thirsty to bed."

"Come ahead, then," said the colonel, laughing at the ease with which
his companion set aside the verdict of the coin. "That's not such a
bad system of yours: snapping to see what you'll do, and then doing
what you please. Always work it that way?"

"No, not always," returned the paymaster, lengthening his stride in
order to keep up with the pace set by the colonel, "only sometimes;
and this is one of the times. Suppose we shall find anybody up there?"

"The genial Pollard is sure to be there. He's a fixture. Can't see why
he pays dues at his club, can you? Since we started this institution
he's never spent an evening anywhere else. Well, here we are--all
except the stairs," said the colonel, turning in at the court at whose
far end, away up in the darkness, the lights of The Battery invitingly
twinkled. "Hello!" he exclaimed, a moment later, as he opened the
door at the head of the last flight of stairs, "here's Pollard, sure
enough--and 'Bones,' and a couple more men," and with this he walked
over towards the table around which the earlier comers were seated.

"Colonel Elliott, let me present Lieutenant Hotchkiss and Ensign
Hatch, both of the Naval Battalion," said the surgeon, rising and
designating these officers with a graceful wave of his cigar.
"Gentlemen, this is Langforth, our 'Pay.' Ah, you've met him?" The two
late comers drew up chairs, and made known to Sam their requirements;
and then the colonel, turning towards the surgeon, said, "Bones, what
is it? You look troubled."

"Well, to tell the truth," replied the surgeon, ruefully glancing at
his questioner, "I _was_ going to tell these fellows how I won the
cavalry cup, but now I suppose I shall have to defer it to another
time."

"Oh, go ahead with your yarn--spring it," said the colonel. "'Pay' and
I don't mind, and Pollard the genial never will interrupt. Besides,
with three of us here, you'll not be apt to deviate very widely from
the truth, and truth is desirable in all reports of a military Nature.
Go ahead!" and the colonel, with a wink at Langforth, took the mug
which Sam had brought him.

"Well, you see, it was like this," began the surgeon, clasping his
hands behind his head, and comfortably leaning back in his chair. "In
camp, last summer, we had the athletic fever pretty badly, and the way
all hands went in for games of various sorts was a caution."

"'Games of various sorts,'" echoed Pollard, winking at the paymaster,
and making motions as if dealing a pack of invisible cards. "That's
not bad, Bones."

"_Out-door_ games of various sorts," amended the surgeon. "Cork up,
will you, and don't let these sailors carry away wrong impressions of
us."

"All right, old man," replied Pollard, catching Sam's eye, and
holding up one finger to denote drought; "only don't be so ambiguous
in your remarks. But really, we did have lots of athletic enthusiasm,
last camp, and it was very tiring to see the boys all sweating after
some record or other--when they were off duty--instead of lying 'round
in their tents and keeping cool."

"The cavalry fellows," resumed Bones, "didn't seem able to muster
much talent in the way of track athletes, and for a time they
weren't in it at all. But one night, between tattoo and taps, little
Whateley--second lieutenant, you know, of 'H' troop--came riding down
the lines, stopping at all the regimental headquarters, and finally he
brought up at our marquee.

"A few of us were sitting there, smoking a good-night pipe before
turning in, and we made him dismount before telling us his errand.
Well, I ordered up a little prescription for him, to counteract the
effects of the night air, and when he'd got back his breath--"

"Gad!" put in one of the visitors, "is _that_ the way your doses work,
doctor?"

"Did I say it was the prescription?" inquired the doctor, unclasping
his hands, and leaning forward to take a pipe from the table. "He
might have been out of breath from riding so far. Anyway, he got his
breath back, as I've stated, and used it to remark that the cavalry
took a deep interest in military sports, and had chipped in to buy
a silver tankard to be ridden for by the mounted officers in the
brigade. And he further said--with a grin, too, confound his youthful
impudence!--that he knew we could enter some mighty fine material, for
the reputation for horsemanship of our field and staff was more than
local.

"Now, that last insinuation was too much, and we told him that he
needn't worry--we'd be represented. So off he rode, declining to
take another dose of my good medicine, though I told him that the
prescription read, 'Repeat as required,' which meant once in five
minutes. Well, after he'd gone, we began to talk it all over, and the
discussion as to who best could afford to run the risk of breaking his
neck for the glory of the regiment and the good of the service was an
animated one, you'd do well to believe."

"Yes--and I remember the extreme modesty with which everybody
suggested some other man for that distinction," remarked the colonel
in a reminiscent way, "and how you all fell over each other in your
anxiety to let somebody else do the riding and gather in the glory."

"Well, I'd been detailed as Field Officer of the Day for the date
the race was scheduled," Major Pollard hastened to explain; while
Langforth promptly came in with the remark, "And I hardly had got into
shape from my winter's attack of grippe."

"There, _there_!" exclaimed the colonel, with a wave of his hand, "we
don't care to have all that over again. For my own part, I couldn't
ride because--well, because it hardly would do for a regimental
commander to so far forget himself as to go in for anything of that
sort. See?"

"In other words, six of us didn't dare to go in, and the remaining
half-dozen were afraid to," said the surgeon, drawing up one foot to
rest it easily across his knee. "Well, it all ended in my being chosen
by acclamation to represent the glorious Third, and, though I wasn't
exactly 'impatient to mount and ride,' yet I made the best of it, and
tried to pretend that I was."

"It seems to have been acknowledged that you were the best rider in
your regiment," suggested one of the visitors.

"Oh, I hardly should care to claim so much as that," replied Bones,
with a glance at his brother officers, "but I've been nine years
in the service without falling off my horse--and that's a pretty
fair record for a staff officer of volunteers. Well, as I've said,
I was elected without a dissenting voice--except my own--and the
ill-concealed joy of Wilder, our assistant surgeon, was something
worth seeing. He's looking for promotion, you know, and a casual
broken neck on my part would have given it to him."

"Pardon the interruption," interposed the colonel, blandly, "but there
will be a vacancy for Wilder, and very soon, too, if you cast any more
reflections upon the horsemanship of my military family."

"Gracious! did I?" asked Bones, hastily. "Impossible! Why, we all
ride, and ride well; all except the adjutant. _He can't!_"

"Pardon me again, doctor," said the colonel, sighing wearily, "but the
adjutant can ride, too. I've _seen_ him."

"If you say so, I suppose I'm not to dispute it," rejoined the
surgeon, meekly. "But, if he's such a good rider, don't you think
it was just a little rough on him to take him up four flights of
stairs, as you did only last week, and introduce him to the wooden
vaulting-horse in the regimental gymnasium?" The colonel laughed at
this recital of the latest headquarters' joke, and Bones continued,
"Well, even if the adjutant _is_ rather amateurish in his riding, he
at least is entitled to some of the credit for winning the cup, for he
furnished my mount.

"You see, Charley had a horse, last camp, that suited him 'way down to
the ground. His walking gait was the poetry of motion; in fact, it was
hard to get him to move at any faster pace. But somehow, by slapping
him with the reins and clucking to him, like a woman calling hens,
Charley sometimes managed to get him into a lope that was just about
as easy as a rocking-chair, and didn't seem to cover ground much more
rapidly than a rocking-chair could. We used to suggest that spurring
would be a more military method of getting the beast under way, but
Charley always replied that spurs were unnecessarily cruel things,
and that he hadn't the heart to do anything to interrupt the _entente
cordiale_ existing between him and his charger."

"Wasn't it a ratty-looking beast, though!" put in Langforth, setting
down his mug and laughing aloud. "We christened him 'Acme,' he was
such a perfect skate."

"'Handsome is as handsome does,'" quoted Bones, sententiously.
"His performances were remarkable, but he _wasn't_ much on beauty,
especially at that point of his anatomy where about a square foot
of hide and hair was lacking. However, we got around that blemish
by borrowing some axle grease from one of the battery drivers and
painting the bare spot so thoroughly that the rest of his hide looked
dingy by contrast.

"Now, 'Acme' had one little peculiarity that nobody knew anything
about; nobody, that is, except Charley and me. You couldn't touch him
with a spur on either flank without making him wheel half 'round to
the opposite side and bolt for all that was in him. It was a pleasant
little trick and one that would throw a man every time unless he knew
what was coming. I know that to be a fact because, well, because he
threw _me_ in that way, the very first day we were in camp."

"Thought you'd been nine years in the service without ever being
thrown," remarked Hotchkiss, with the air of one scoring a good point.

"Oh! no, I never said that," explained the imperturbable doctor,
turning this thrust harmlessly aside. "If you recall my words you will
remember that I said I'd never _fallen_ off; to be thrown off is a
very different matter."

"Ah! I see. Pardon my carelessness," said the discomfited naval
visitor. "We fellows that go down upon the sea in ships aren't very
well up, I fear, in these nice distinctions of the land service."

"Naturally not," said the surgeon, "and of course it's excusable; but
you readily will notice the distinction, which really is as great as
that between being in mid-ocean and being 'half-seas over' would be,
in your own case.

"Now, I recalled that little experience of mine with the adjutant's
horse, and it occurred to me, when I was casting about for a mount,
that if I only could manage to keep my seat while he was executing
his diabolical half-face, I should have a dead cinch on the cup; for
when he _did_ run, after one of those performances, he ran like the
very devil."

"He did, indeed," said the colonel, smiling as if at some remembrance.

"It was on Wednesday night that little Whateley dropped in on us,"
Bones continued, "and the race was on the card for Friday noon. That
was on 'Governor's Day,' you know, and the camp was sure to be crowded
with visitors. Pleasant outlook for me, wasn't it?

"Well, on Thursday morning I borrowed 'Acme', and rode a couple of
miles out of camp to a big hay-field I knew of, because I wished to
make sure, by a strictly private trial, that my little scheme was in
reliable working order. It was. Everything went to a charm. I got a
firm grip on the pommel and gave 'Acme' the spur; whereupon he spun
half 'round, and was off like a wild engine on a drop grade. Yes,
he was off, but, better still, I was _on_, and when finally I got
him into his rocking-chair lope, I started back for camp, pretty
well satisfied with my experiment; and all the way along the road
I couldn't help grinning at the thought of the sensation that was
brewing for the next day."

"Well, it _was_ a sensation, and that can't be disputed," commented
Pollard, as the surgeon paused for a moment. "We all backed you and
'Acme'; not because we had any particular expectations, but just out
of loyalty to the old regiment, and because the odds were so inviting.
I took ten out of Mixter, myself."

"Friday morning was cloudy," said the doctor, after he had brought
his pipe to a satisfactory glow, "and I half hoped that it would rain
before noon, for I was getting the least shade nervous. Everybody
around our headquarters was so very kind that it made me fidgety
as a school-girl. At breakfast, in mess, the colonel thoughtfully
opened an elaborate discussion about the proper form of ceremonies
at military burials. The adjutant, on his way to guard mounting,
stopped long enough at my tent to say that 'Acme' just had killed one
of the hostlers, and that the band had gone out of camp soon after
breakfast for the purpose of practising 'The Lost Chord.' And _you_,
Langforth--confound you! I haven't forgotten how you forged my name
to an order to have the brigade ambulance report to me at noon, the
very hour of the race.

"But somehow the morning went by, and at noon the sky was beautifully
clear, though the air was most horribly lifeless and hot. I dressed
up in full fig, helmet, sword, and all, according to the conditions,
mounted 'Acme,' and rode out upon the parade.

"Pretty nearly the whole brigade had turned out to see the fun, and
around the start the crowd was packed closely, while groups of men
were scattered here and there along the three furlongs of turf over
which the course had been laid out. I had supposed that there would
be, at the very least, half-a-dozen entries; but when I had succeeded
in manoeuvering 'Acme' through the crowd and up to the line, I found
awaiting me just one solitary horseman. It was Porter, captain of "H"
troop, and his mount was the same beautiful thoroughbred that he rides
from one year's end to the other.

"Wasn't I sick! I never had a patient who felt worse than I did then.
But there was no such thing as backing out at that stage of the game,
and so I looked as confident as possible, and happier, I hope, than
I felt. But when Porter saluted me, with an inquiring sort of glance
at my tired-looking mount, and a grin at my audacity in showing up on
such a beast, why, I swore under my breath that I'd send the spur into
poor old 'Acme' deeply enough to scratch his digestive apparatus."

"It was a funny contrast," laughed Langforth, with his mug in
mid-transit from the table to his lips. "Of course, Bones, you're a
better looking man, and all that, than Porter; but that horse of his
is a perfect picture for style, and when Charley's old skate ambled up
beside him we couldn't _help_ grinning, any of us. Do you remember,
Pollard, how that grease spot on 'Acme's' flank showed up?"

"Do I?" roared the major. "_Don't_ I! Why, Bowen, of the
brigade-staff, was standing next me, and when he caught sight of
that daub of axle-grease he punched me in the ribs and said, 'So you
fellows have black-leaded your craft, eh? Now, I call that blasted
unsportsmanlike! The other man hasn't worked any funny games like
that.'"

"That was all right!" said the surgeon, grimly, "I had _my_ fun
later--after the race was run.

"We lined up for the start, and it'll be a long while before I forget
the row it raised when I persisted in planting 'Acme' at right angles
to the course. Porter got mad, and announced that he'd come out to
race, and not to take part in a circus. Most of the brigade set me
down for being either sunstruck or drunk, but I wouldn't budge, and
neither would 'Acme.' Finally Porter growled out, 'Let's have this
nonsense over with! It isn't my fault that we can't have a race. Start
us, will you?' 'All ready, major?' the starter asked me. 'Confound it
all--yes!' said I, looking to see that all was clear around me, and
then getting a death-grip on the pommel.

"Down went the flag, and off went Porter at an easy gallop. Up came
my spurred heel, and off went 'Acme,' too, after a whirl-around that
took away the breath of everybody who saw the performance, and knocked
end-ways a couple of gunners who had edged in too close to the course.
Shades of night! How that old four-legger flew! I'd rammed my spur
home for business, and the way he responded beat even my wildest
expectations.

"It was the worst run-away ever seen in camp, and, before I knew it,
we'd passed Porter, passed the finish, passed the last tent in the
long brigade line, and passed the ditch at the end of the field; at
least, 'Acme' passed the ditch--_me_ they picked out of it."

"It certainly was a remarkable burst of speed," assented the colonel,
laughing until the tears stood in his eyes. "When we found that Bones
wasn't killed outright, we went for the cavalry fellows in every way,
shape, and manner that our combined talents could suggest, and if we
failed to make life a burden to them it wasn't for lack of trying.
Come over here," he continued, rising from his chair, and leading the
way to the opposite side of the room, where, in a double frame, there
hung upon the wall two large photographs. "These two pictures--which,
by the way, we consider priceless--tell the whole story. See that one?
Well, that's the enlargement of a snap-shot plate caught by one of our
color-sergeants when Bones was in full career. Observe the expression
of the face; and, above all, notice that grip on the pommel. Isn't it
all grand? Where should Sheridan's ride and Paul Revere's little trip
be classed beside _that_?"

"The other picture in the frame," said the doctor, with a pardonable
air of pride, "is a photo of the cup itself, and we all think a heap
of it. The fellows in the troop, you see, had been going the rounds of
the camp, and guying the life out of the Third--and me--for presuming
to enter against their crack horse, so the final result was just plain
joy for all hands at our headquarters.

"I was excused from parade that afternoon," he continued, knocking the
dead ashes from his pipe, "because I was a trifle tired, and more than
a trifle sore--in spots. Besides, it took one able-bodied darkey the
best part of that afternoon to clean the mud off my uniform, knock my
helmet out into shape, and straighten out the kinks in my scabbard.

"As for 'Acme': well, _he_ never turned a hair, and after a careless
sort of trot around the camp he came back to our stables, looking just
as unconcerned and sleepy as ever. But he lived high for the rest of
that tour of duty, and nobody seemed to care about referring to him
as a 'skate.'"

"'Sporting blood will tell,'" was Hatch's comment as the doctor led
the way to the chair where the overcoats lay piled. "I should think,
though, that the troopers would have challenged you to another go."

"They _have_ challenged us--and more than once," said the colonel,
as Sam held his coat for him, "but our invariable reply is that our
surgeon is too precious a bit of bric-à-brac to risk in any more
enterprises of that sort, and--as none of the rest of us care to
diminish Bones' glory--we have averaged up matters by keeping the cup
and conceding them the championship," and he moved towards the door,
stopping, however, with, "I wonder which owl this is?" as he caught
the sound of footsteps on the stairs outside.

"Good evening, Colonel," sung out the new arrival, the adjutant, as he
threw wide the door and stepped blinking into the room. "Hello, the
rest of you! Can't make you all out, it's so bright here--after the
stairs. What, all going?"

"Yes, it's a good hour beyond taps," replied the colonel.

"All right, sir; I'll go with you, if you'll wait for me to empty just
_one_," said the adjutant, drawing off his right glove. "It would be
too much to ask me to turn 'round and go down again without stopping
for a second wind. One up, Sam--right around; making six."

"What's new, Charley?" asked the doctor, as Sam made off towards the
base of supplies.

"Can't seem to think of anything," replied the adjutant, seating
himself easily upon the nearest table, upon which he began vigorously
to drum with his knuckles. "Hold on, though! Now I come to think of
it, I saw 'Acme' to-day. Yes, sir! And he was drawing a _hearse_,
too. _Yes_, sir! I followed the funeral a block, to make sure. Well,
here's to him!" and the late master of "Acme" emptied his pewter with
one long, breathless pull, while the doctor slowly drained _his_ mug,
saying with unsmiling solemnity, "To 'Acme.'"



FROM BEYOND THE PYRAMIDS



FROM BEYOND THE PYRAMIDS.


It was the evening after the battle at Farlow's Farm, and most of
us--what's that? You never heard of any such engagement? Now, isn't
that odd! Why, it was fought only last year, and for one whole day
the papers were full of it. Well, though I had no idea of putting a
preface to the story I started to tell, I suppose I must stop long
enough to explain why there was a fight, and how it happened that so
many of us--all of us, in fact--got back alive from it.

Once a year, you must know, there comes down from the State House, and
through "proper channels," a mandate directing each volunteer regiment
in the Commonwealth to arm and equip itself, ration and supply itself,
and bundle itself out into the country for what officially is known
as the Fall Drill. _We_ are rather apt to refer to an affair of this
sort as "going out with the regiment for the Autumn Manoeuvres,"
because, you see, this sounds more dignified, and lacks the baldness
of the official phraseology.

Now, an order for a Fall Drill means _war_; because it entails a long
day of marching, a prodigal expenditure of blank cartridges, and, at
headquarters, bother and worry beyond reckoning.

Yes, when one of these orders comes down to us we awake to an activity
which calls for the largest size of A in the spelling of it. The
quartermaster rises to a height of importance hard to estimate, while
his sergeant--upon whom devolves the bulk of the work--sinks into a
settled gloom of corresponding depth. The surgeons find themselves
pestered with requests to lay in a better brand of liniment than the
stuff they took out with them the year before, which, it unanimously
is asserted, was too blistering in its effect. The adjutant grimly
sits at his desk and wrestles with the "General Order" until he
reaches a state half-way between utter misery and hopeless atheism.
Why? Because he knows to a dead certainty that a copy of it will find
its way into every Sunday paper in town, and therefore tries with
might and main--to say nothing of the aid of the old order-files for
ten years back--to make of it a lucid and grammatical fragment of
English prose,--an attempt in which he most signally fails. And the
colonel: well, _he_ has the task of tasks, for it becomes his duty and
privilege to evolve the plan of campaign; and the campaign, mind you,
must be one that can be brought to a successful issue in a single day.
Think of it! Do you suppose Sherman, or even Grant himself, could have
met without concern such a demand upon strategic resources?

Days in advance of active operations, the field officers fill up their
cigar-cases and run out into the country to look over the ground;
constructing, upon their return, amazing maps, wherein--on generously
large sheets of brown wrapping-paper--a tangle of blue lines and
red ones serves to make plain the positions for the attack and the
defence. Remarkable productions, those maps!--with long straight
marks to indicate the roads, and zigzag lines to denote fences, and
aggregations of pretzel-like symbols to show where the woods lie; and
many a mystic sign besides to stand for as many more features in the
landscape. Oh, we couldn't do without the maps, for a campaign that
has to be settled between one sunrise and the next sunset must be
managed very understandingly; and yet all this doesn't seem to keep
the enlisted man from damning up hill and down both the maps and their
makers when he finds himself one of a skirmish-line stationed in what
ought to be a dry ditch, but isn't.

Well, last fall we got our annual order, went through with the usual
week's worry at headquarters, and then railroaded the regiment out to
Farlow's Farm for its day of field work. The fight was a stubborn one,
and the amount of powder burned was far in excess of anything before
known, for we had raised a regimental fund and had purchased with it
some odd thousands of cartridges in addition to the quantity issued by
the State.

The tide of battle swept back and forth until well into the afternoon,
but finally the smoke-cloud lifted--because there were no more
cartridges to be fired away--and in the lull a flag of truce was
sent by the lieutenant-colonel, who humbly begged permission to bury
his dead, and also announced his readiness to accept any decent
sort of terms, since the umpires had declared his four companies to
have been annihilated. Now, the lieutenant-colonel and his men, you
understand, represented the enemy, and since we had been devoting the
day to his destruction we sent up a mighty cheer when his submission
was made known, voted the whole affair an admirable illustration of
grand strategy, and prepared to leave the field to solitude and the
sorrowful contemplation of farmer Farlow, its owner.

We formed line, then broke by fours to the right, and started off
along the tree-shaded country road. Up at the head of the long
column the drums rolled and rattled, while the bugles and fifes
joined merrily together in the crazy, rollicking "Wild Irishman"
quickstep--an air which never fails to send the Third into its famous,
swinging gait. By turning in my saddle, as I rode in my place with the
staff, I could see the regiment behind me as it came solidly tramping
along--company after company of blue-clad men; rank on rank of snowy
helmets; file upon file of sloping rifle-barrels; and midway of all,
the colors, rustling their silken folds in time with the cadenced
tread of the men who bore them. Far in the rear glowed a ruddy October
sunset, making a fit background for the whole living, moving picture.
It was a stirring sight and a beautiful one, and I glanced back again
and again to see it, for the picturesque side of the service has a
peculiar charm for me.

"Jove! but that's pretty!" said Van Sickles, who rode next me on the
staff, reining his horse over a bit closer to mine, and nodding back
towards the following column. "People sometimes ask me what earthly
attraction I can find in volunteer soldiering. Well, a sight like
_that_ certainly has strong attractions for me," and he gave another
long look towards the rear.

"Yes, this is one of the things outsiders miss," said I, bringing
to bear upon the curb a light pressure, as I noticed that my horse
gradually was outstepping the others, "and taking it all together,
Van, the outsiders miss a great deal."

"That's so, Jack," assented Van Sickles, "but it's hard to make them
see it. Time and again I've tried to explain why I went into the
service, and why I stay in it; but I've given up that sort of thing
now, because my friends only laugh and say, 'Well, you _have_ got the
fever, Van, but you can't give it to us.'" Here his horse stumbled
slightly, but he easily lifted him, and then asked, "Say, old man,
who's this Captain Penryhn?" and he waved his hand towards an officer
in foreign uniform who was riding next our surgeon.

"Why, you met him," said I, "just before you were sent over to join
'the enemy.'"

"That's true enough; but I barely caught his name, and beyond the
fact that he's in British uniform, and that Penryhn is his name and
'captain' his title, I'm still uninformed."

"Well, I can't help you out to any great extent," I rejoined, just as
the rattle of the drums gave place to a crash of brazen melody from
the band, "for all I know is that he's one of Stearns' acquisitions,
is over here on leave, holds his commission in 'Her Majesty's
Sixty-fifth,' and seems to be a decent, soldierly sort of fellow. You
must remember that I've been more or less on the jump to-day, and
haven't had time to cultivate acquaintances."

"We'll get a chance for cultivation later, no doubt," observed Van
Sickles as we came in sight of the long train of cars, side-tracked
and waiting to take us aboard and carry us back to the city. "He
probably will dine with us to-night, and then we can"--

"Battalion--_halt!_" rang out the colonel's voice, and we reined up,
as the seven hundred rifles behind us were brought down, with a rattle
and crash, to the carry. "Order--_arms!_ In place--_rest!_" followed;
and we dismounted, and gave over our horses to the men waiting to lead
them to their car at the head of the train.

An hours ride brought us back to the city, a short march through
the lamp-lighted streets found us at the great armory, towering up
in the dusky twilight, and then, one by one, the companies were
dismissed, and seven hundred veterans were set free to resume the
pursuits of peace--which I trust they at once did. We of headquarters
dined together at the hotel which lies just around the corner, and
afterwards, by twos and threes, sauntered up to The Battery, to smoke
our after-dinner cigars and fight over again the day's battle.

When Van and I entered the cosey old room the fun had been started.
"That's all right about your flank attack," the lieutenant-colonel was
saying, in answer to the senior major's assertion that a brilliant
move by his detachment had won the day for the attacking side; "oh,
yes--_that's_ all right; but if it had been the 'real thing,' I'd have
cut you up into sausage-meat with the sharpshooters I'd tucked into
that clump of pines."

"Well, why didn't you--as it was?" inquired the major, calmly cutting
the end from his cigar.

"Because the boys had run short of ammunition," replied the
lieutenant-colonel.

"Ah! they _had_, had they?" remarked the major sarcastically; "and
if it had been the real old stuff I'd have been wiped out, would I?
Humph! A bush full of sharpshooters _without ammunition_ doesn't seem
to strike me as being much of an obstacle. It's no use, Billy--there's
where I caught you napping; empty boxes are empty boxes, whether
they've been emptied of blank or ball."

"I was outnumbered, anyway," said the lieutenant-colonel, on the
defensive for the second time that day. "How in thunder could I take
four companies, and play 'em off against eight?"

"I don't know, I'm sure," pleasantly replied the major. "You thought
you could, though, when we planned this thing out. Miscalculated just
a hair, eh?"

"Hello, here's Stearns," put in Van, with a view to diverting the
conversation into safer courses before the traditional tranquillity of
The Battery should become ruffled. "How are you, Tom? Good evening,
Captain Penryhn."

Stearns and his companion came up to the fireplace, in which a
cheerful blaze had been kindled to take the chill from the air of the
cool October evening, and for a moment the discussion was dropped;
but it wasn't long before some chance word renewed the argument, and
so, on Van's suggestion, we made a change of base to one of the small
tables in the corner of the room, and left the strategists to settle
their differences without our aid.

Now, it happened that Bones had been called away immediately after
dinner, and so Van appropriated the absent surgeon's pet story,
and entertained our visitor by telling how the doctor and "Acme"
had brought the Cavalry Cup to our headquarters. It happened also
that the recital of this yarn of ours reminded the Englishman of an
experience of his own--and that was what I had started to tell you
when I had to branch off into so many explanations.

"Rather brutal bit of luck, I should call it," observed the English
captain, referring to Bones' racing exploit. "Must have been very
melancholy for the troopers. Well, luck's a factor that can't be
disregarded. I had a rare slice of luck myself, once on a time, and in
the way of riding, too. Fancy I'll tell you of it. Do you mind?"

No, we didn't mind; and so Captain Penryhn proceeded to tax our
credulity in this wise:

"I ran upon this particular piece of good fortune in--let me think--in
'84," said he, bringing out his words slowly and with an accent
which fell oddly upon our ears, and yet certainly detracted nothing
from the interest of the story. "It was in Egypt, where we'd had to
interfere somewhat in the course of matters. Daresay you remember what
led up to all the bother?" Van nodded assent, and so I could do no
less, though I'm morally certain that our combined knowledge of the
Egyptian question could have been put into four lines of type without
overcrowding. "Then I'll jump _in medias res_ at once," Penryhn went
on, "merely stopping to explain how I happened to be in Egypt at that
time.

"I then was in the Sixty-fifth--the 'York and Lancaster' regiment--the
same corps in which I now hold my captaincy. I was on leave, however,
and had obtained permission to attach myself to the staff of Baker
Pacha, who was fitting out his expedition for the relief of Tokar. I'd
gone into this venture simply for the fun of the thing, but before I
got quit of it I was forced to the conclusion that I possibly had been
led into it under a mistaken set of impressions; for the fun was much
less in quantity and of a far poorer quality than I had anticipated."

Penryhn picked up the mug which Sam had set upon the table, took a
long pull at its amber contents, and then remarked, "Do you know, this
American beer of yours is very good? In fact, I find myself coming to
fancy it strongly, though I must admit that at first I didn't. It's
much the same with Americans themselves: we Englishmen really don't
care much about them until we learn to know them well, but when we
_do_ know them we become very fond of them. I found that to be so
in the case of Carroll--Major Carroll, of your Eighteenth Regular
Cavalry, who was with me on the campaign of which I am telling."

"Of our Eighteenth Cavalry?" said I, inquiringly. "Why, how came he in
Egypt?"

"He was looking for sport, as I was," Captain Penryhn replied. "He was
military _attaché_ at Berlin, and had got leave for a few months. We
both were volunteer aides-de-camp to Baker."

Here, noticing that the Englishman had got well towards the last inch
of his cigar, I silently proffered my freshly filled case. He half
drew out a weed, but pushed it back to its place, saying "I'm of a
mind to try one of your pipes, if I may?"

"You certainly shall," said I. "Hi! Sam, bring the cobs." Penryhn took
a pipe, filled and lighted it, and then remarked, "Oh, I say! I rather
wondered why so many of you were smoking these things, but _now_ I
don't. Sweet, isn't it, eh?"

"Yes, we call a cobful of plug a comforting sort of smoke," said Van,
"and it takes the entire crop of a fifty-acre cornfield to keep The
Battery supplied with smoking utensils."

"Not really?" said our astonished guest.

"Possibly not quite," I put in; and then, in order to check Van in
any further flights of imagination, I asked, "Didn't you have some
difficulty, captain, in getting your expedition into shape? As I
recall it, at this late day, Baker Pacha rather came to grief in his
attempt at relieving Tokar."

"Difficulty?" said Penryhn. "Yes, we had an abundance of it. Baker had
drawn together a mob of something over five thousand men. Did I say
_men_? Sheep would be better--and black sheep, too; for the rabble we
had with us, under the nickname of 'soldiers,' was made up for the
most part of cowardly Egyptian _fellahen_, who had been driven into
the ranks either through fear of the bastinado or else by the actual
application of it. Great Wolseley! Never such a mob had masqueraded as
an army since war was invented."

"How were you officered?" asked Stearns, tossing a match to Van, whose
pipe had managed to go out.

"Mainly by Egyptians," replied the Englishman, "though there were
enough Europeans to pound the mass into at least a semblance of order
and discipline. But it's utterly impossible to put brains into a solid
Egyptian skull, nor can you put any heart into one of those miserable,
half-human _fellahen_: and that was unfortunate, you know, because it
takes a tidy bit of heart to go out into the desert against the wild
tribesmen; while as for brains--well, enough brains for aiming and
firing a rifle are almost indispensable. 'Pon my soul, we actually
lost scores of men by the random firing of our own troops. What d'ye
think of _that_?"

"I think you ought to have had Van Sickles, here, to do a little
missionary work among your marksmen," said I, laughing. "He's our
I.R.P., you know, and since he came into commission he has been
eminently successful in keeping our boys from killing each other."

"Beg pardon," said Penryhn, doubtfully, "your I.R.P.?"

"Inspector of rifle practice," explained Van, adding, "Shouldn't think
you could have afforded to waste your darkies in that fashion."

"My dear fellow," said our visitor, in a tone of the deepest disgust,
"it isn't possible to waste an Egyptian soldier. The only waste I can
think of is that of the powder and lead it takes to blow him to--to
oblivion."

"That was good material to recruit from," remarked Stearns. "Didn't
you feel a little shaky about going out with it?"

"I've not the slightest hesitation in admitting that I did," replied
the English captain; "and just before we started on our final advance,
I bet a dinner with Major Carroll that if we got into a fight, our
black regiments wouldn't face the music for an hour. It wasn't a bad
bet, for I won by a good, wide margin.

"Well, on the fourth of February, in '84, we marched out our 'army'
from Trinkitat, waded across the shallow lagoon to the mainland, and
struck out over the sands for Tokar--twenty miles away. You think
that you have done rapid work to-day in fighting a sham battle inside
half-a-dozen hours, but _we_ made a record that, in one way, is
incomparably better than yours; for we marched four miles, fought just
fifteen minutes by my bracelet watch, and the campaign _ended_ right
there! Can you equal that, eh?"

"Blest if it wasn't hustling!" said Stearns. "You had pretty nearly a
soft thing in that bet of yours, didn't you?"

"It wasn't half a bad speculation," replied Penryhn, as Sam replaced
our empties by four newly filled pewters. "Bah! a good part of
our fellows couldn't find spirit enough even to run, and stood
stock-still, paralyzed with fright, until they were cut down in their
tracks. The rest of 'em--and the braver ones _they_ were--set off on
a jog-trot for Trinkitat, going just fast enough to afford gentle
exercise to the cheerful savages, who trotted along after them and
carved them up at their leisure. Ah, perhaps things weren't in a devil
of a box!"

"I judge that you wasted precious little time in trying to rally your
men," observed Stearns.

"On that point your judgment is very fair indeed," returned the
Englishman. "Rallies aren't manufactured out of that kind of rubbish.
I much sooner should have thought of attempting to catch a hurricane
in a scoop-net. Perhaps if I'd been on hand at the first break I
might have had a try or two at it, but it so happened that I'd been
sent with a handful of native cavalry to scatter a bunch of horsemen
threatening our flank. When I left the column on this errand, Baker
was preparing to 'form square,' but the Mahdi's men came dancing in
before he had time for the manoeuvre, and when we came galloping
back from our dash the fight was _over_; and, as I've said, fifteen
minutes had been time, and ample, for the winding up of that campaign.

"It was a very rum go, and I reflected that, under all the
circumstances, I might as well devote my time and attention to getting
myself, with unpunctured skin, back to Trinkitat. However, I thought
I'd edge in a bit towards the flying rabble, on the chance of falling
in with Carroll; and so I spurred into the outskirts of the mob of
fright-crazed blacks. As luck would have it, I ran upon my man almost
immediately, and to my dying day I never shall forget how he was
busying himself.

"You may think it absurd, but when I rode up to your countryman I
found him holding by the collar an Egyptian major, whom he was
spanking--yes, actually _spanking_!--with the flat of his sword.
Affairs were at the last ditch of desperation, and every moment's
delay brought death by so much the closer; and yet, for the life of
me, I couldn't help laughing at the sight. The poor major was bawling
and sobbing with pain and fright, while Carroll was laying it on with
jolly goodwill, accompanying each whack with a burst of transatlantic
profanity which, under any ordinary circumstances, would have made me
shiver.

"But I hadn't any time to waste in watching performances of this sort,
and so I rode up closer, yelling, 'Carroll! _Carroll_, old man, are
you mad? You've not an instant to spare! The black devils are close
upon us! Where's your horse?' Carroll gave two more resounding whacks
to his captive, shook him until his teeth rattled, and then set him
free, with a parting kick to speed him on his way to safety. Then he
looked up at me with, 'Hello, Pen! My horse? That mud-colored major--I
hope they'll lift his woolly scalp!--he _shot_ my horse! Pulled his
revolver, shut both eyes, blazed away, and hit poor old _Selim_. I
swear, Pen, he nearly made me lose my temper!'"

"Were your native officers all as efficient as this one?" I inquired,
after we had laughed a little over this piece of marksmanship.

"Why, compared with the others, he was a hero," said Penryhn, in all
earnestness, "for he actually fired a shot. Most of 'em turned and ran
without even stopping to pull trigger.

"But though all this now may seem funny enough in the telling, the
humor of the situation wasn't quite so apparent _then_, for the few
seconds that this little occurrence had consumed had brought danger
very close to us. The half-naked Arabs had begun to carve their way
right into the heart of our stampeding crowd, and from my seat in the
saddle I could see them getting altogether too neighborly to suit my
ideas of comfort. 'Catch hold of my stirrup,' I said to Carroll, 'and
come along out of this.' He sprang towards me, but before he reached
my side a great wiry savage came tearing through the mob, and with one
sweep of his long sword hamstrung my horse. Probably he meant to have
taken a shy next at me, but he lost the chance, for Carroll plumped
a bullet into his neck, and he went tumbling down all of a heap. All
that, though, was cold comfort; for there we were, _on foot_, and with
any odds you please against our getting out of the scrape alive.

"'The game's up, old fellow,' said I, clearing myself from my
struggling horse. 'Come up here to me, and so long as our ammunition
lasts we'll fight it out, back to back.' Our chances seemed so
desperate, you see, that I didn't give even a thought to escape.
'The hell we will!' responded Carroll, whose language somehow seemed
unnecessarily lurid, 'I guess _not_! Pick up your heels, Pen, and
make a scramble for it. We can fight just as well running as we can
standing still.'

"At the word he started off, and I followed him, for though death
seemed inevitable I didn't have quite the courage to stay and face
it alone. 'It's no sort of use,' I panted, as we ran along side by
side; 'we can't foot it for four miles over this sand--in our boots,
too--and get clear of those naked desert-devils.'

"'Well, who's going to?' was the answer I got. Carroll had looked
over his shoulder, and catching sight of a camel which, urged on by
a Soudanese, was lumbering down upon us, he halted and faced about.
'Hi! you black son-of-the-Nile,' he shouted, 'hold up! You _won't_?'
he went on, bringing up his revolver, and roaring out his command in
Arabic. 'Take that, then!' and he fired twice. The first shot was a
clean miss, but at the second the poor chap rolled over and dropped
headlong upon the sand, while Carroll jumped to catch the riderless
camel. 'Hold him by the nose!' I yelled, 'that's the only way you can
manage him!' '_I've_ got him,' he sang out in reply, as he caught the
dangling cord. 'Whoa! you hump-backed beast of misery! Hi! Steady, you
four-legged, graceful nightmare! How in blazes, Pen, can we make him
kneel?'"

"Well, how _did_ you?" inquired Van, removing his pipe from between
his teeth in order to ask the question.

"We simply didn't," said the Englishman, blowing forth a mighty volume
of fragrant smoke, and following this up with a succession of short
puffs, "because neither of us knew the trick. 'He looks higher than
a house,' said I, as I stood helplessly beside the ungainly animal,
'but we've got to scale him somehow.' 'Here, hold his head,' said
Carroll, 'and I'll make a bluff at mounting him,' and then, after we
had exchanged places, he sprang up, caught at some part or other of
the camel's trappings, and managed to haul himself up. 'Pass up the
lines, Pen, and look lively,' he called out. 'Old Humpty's getting
uneasy--and so am I. Give me your hand, and climb as if the Mahdi
himself were after you!' I tossed him the rein, and started to follow
him up, but the minute I released the camel's head the terrified beast
lunged forward, knocking me over like a ninepin, and when I got to my
feet again he was fifty yards away--and going like a race-horse.

"'Clean bowled!' I muttered, as I realized what had happened. 'He
can't manage him, so my last chance is played,' and with a farewell
glance at Carroll's receding figure I faced towards the desert--the
direction from which I knew my death was on its way to me--drew my
revolver, filled an empty chamber in it, cocked it, and waited for the
end.

"All around me the rush of terror-stricken blacks continued, while in
front, and not far away, I could catch the flash and gleam of steel
when some Arab butcher hove his sword up into the air, to bring it
whistling down upon one of our defenceless darkies. Frightened? Yes, I
was in a blue funk, but it was the sort of fear that has a good share
of ugliness in it, and I shut my teeth down and watched out for some
one to kill.

"In a fix like that a little time goes a long way, and it seemed as
though I had been standing there for hours--though probably it was
a matter of but minutes--when a long, misshapen shadow darkened the
sand beside me, and I heard a voice shouting, 'Quick, Pen, for your
life! Your hand, old chap--_your hand_! I can't control this fellow
much longer!' It was Carroll--the blessed, profane old angel!--who had
worked some Yankee miracle with that camel, and had come back to pick
me out of the wreck.

"Without a word, for seconds were precious then, I thrust my
revolver into my belt--not the most careful thing I could have done,
considering that it was full-cocked--and by a desperate bit of
scrambling got up behind my rescuer. Off started the camel, stretched
out at top-speed, swaying from side to side, and plunging and rising
like a troop-ship in the Bay of Biscay, while we two fugitives clung
to whatever we could lay hands upon. But it was comforting to note the
rate at which he took himself over the sand, and I actually began to
pluck up a trifle."

"Then you didn't complain of your accommodations," remarked Stearns,
suggestively.

"I? No, I wouldn't have minded being tossed in a blanket if each toss
had sent me away from Osman Digna's sweating savages.

"Well, we hung on like monkeys, and after a time became used to the
jolting. Finally Carroll turned his head and said, 'You all right,
Pen?'

"'Yes; and you?' said I.

"'Happy as a hoo-poo,' said he; 'but I've got all I can do to steer.
You'll have to do the shooting, old man; and when your gun goes dry
you'll find two shots left in mine. Help yourself to it, if you need
it.'

"Now, I'm quite certain that I couldn't have hit a bungalow, under the
circumstances, but I piped up cheerfully with, 'All right; you keep
your eye out for Trinkitat, and I'll 'tend to matters at this end.'

"Luckily I didn't have to experiment at holding on with one hand and
shooting with the other, for our long-legged mount held his gait
nobly, and took us into Trinkitat, sound and safe, and at such a rate
of going that we weren't much behind Baker and those of his staff who
had escaped with him."

"Hm! that was a near call, Captain Penryhn," observed Van Sickles.

"I certainly thought so at the time," said the Englishman, shifting
his position in his chair, "and I've seen no cause since to change my
opinion. Carroll affected to make light of the whole affair, though,
and declared that we could have got away on foot; and to prove it, he
brought up the case of his Egyptian major, who actually managed to
escape."

"No! Really?" asked Stearns. "I should hope that he and Carroll didn't
meet afterwards."

"But they did," said Penryhn, with an expansive grin. "Oh, yes,
they met--and it was a funny meeting, too. Carroll walked right up
to his man, grabbed him by the hand, and congratulated him on his
escape. And then he apologized for his conduct, and said that he
felt compelled to give satisfaction for it; wherefore he would meet
the aggrieved Egyptian whenever and wherever he might choose, and
would fight him in whatever way he might be pleased to suggest. But
this generous offer was too much for our native friend, and with a
profusion of thanks truly Oriental he declined it, even going so far
as to declare that the slapping he had undergone at the hands of the
ever-noble and beneficent Carroll--'might his illustrious line long be
permitted to continue!'--without doubt had saved his life, since it
had been the means of spurring him on to a magnificent and gloriously
maintained dash for safety. And so that matter ended happily and to
the complete satisfaction of all concerned."

At this point the colonel came over to our corner and carried away
Penryhn to show him the photographs of our field-work of the previous
year. Stearns got up and went with them, leaving Van and me to smoke
in comfort and exchange at our leisure our views of things in general.
Now, that man Van Sickles is a sceptical sort of person, and he
began to question the probability of the Englishman's story; but I
maintained, as I still do, that it must have been true--for I'm myself
something of a liar, and it's hard work for a brother-prevaricator
to take me into camp. So I tell you the yarn in the full confidence
that it is a true one; and I further will remark that last spring
Penryhn sent over to Stearns an Arab shield, together with half a
dozen villainous, iron-bound spears and a couple of long, straight,
nasty-looking swords, all of which things now may be seen up in The
Battery, where we've arranged them upon the wall, above the big
book-case.



THE HYMN THAT HELPED



THE HYMN THAT HELPED.


It was a warm night, late in May. For two long hours the battalion
steadily had kept at it--ploying into column, deploying again into
line, and varying things by an occasional march, in company front,
around the great hall. But there comes an end to all things, even to
a two hours' tramp over an unyielding floor, and at last the bugler,
standing beneath the crowded spectators' gallery, puckered his lips,
puffed out his cheeks, and blew the welcome bars of "Recall"--the
signal that it was ten o'clock and time to wind up the evening's
drill. One by one the companies filed out through the broad doorway,
and as the last man passed over the threshold--even while the closing
notes of the bugle-call still faintly rang among the arching trusses
of the vaulted roof--the waiting armorer pressed down the lever which,
at a single touch, extinguished the lights in the double row of
chandeliers, and left the drill-hall to silence and darkness.

But if all was dark and still in the hall below, upstairs the state of
affairs was in lively contrast, for in the company quarters there was
light in plenty and the hum of many voices, while presently a yell of
laughter from "K's" rooms, followed by a responsive roar from "A's"
corner, across the corridor, seemed to show that the manoeuvres
of the evening had not brought the men to the point of complete
exhaustion.

About the adjutant's desk, in the staff-room, a knot of officers had
gathered to talk over the night's work, and speculate upon the weather
of the morrow, for it was the night before Memorial Day, and the four
companies detailed for escort duty in the coming parade had been going
through a battalion drill, "To get shaken into shape for exhibition
purposes," as the major put it.

"The boys measured off a good step to-night: thirty elegant inches,
within an eighth," said the adjutant, footing up the last column
of the drill report, and then gracing it with his undecipherable
signature. "Yes, they stretched it out in gorgeous style, and the
last time they came 'round the hall the company wheels were just as
pretty as any you ever saw on a little, red wagon." This was in the
days when Upton yet was law in the land; before the "new regulations"
had come to vex the souls of company commanders.

"That's all well enough," remarked the major who was to command the
battalion next day; "but, after all, we're at the mercy of whatever
band we catch. It was a mistake to let ours go out of town for
to-morrow."

"It _was_ so," assented the adjutant, shoving a handful of documents
into the pigeon-hole labelled "Papers awaiting action," and then,
rising from his desk, "Do you know what band's been assigned?"

"Haven't heard," replied the major, with a yawn. "_I_ wouldn't ask
for any better marching music than the article the drum-corps deals
out. The boys swing along like machines, when they have the old tunes
to set 'em going;" and he began, to whistle "The British Grenadier,"
drumming with his fingers an accompaniment to the inspiring, old
refrain, but stopping when the sergeant-major entered and said, "The
colonel presents his compliments, and wishes the field and staff to
report to him in his room."

"Come along, fellows," said the major, buttoning up his fatigue
jacket. "This means an expedition against The Battery," and with this
safe prediction he led the way along the corridor towards the door
which bore upon its oaken panel the words "Colonel, Third Infantry."

"Come in," sang out the colonel, as the group of officers reached his
door, "come in for a minute. I need your advice. Only _four_ of you?
Why, where's 'Pay'?"

The major replied, "He's escaped, sir, but those of us who are left
are very much at your service--and full of advice."

"No doubt of it," laughed the colonel; "I've not the slightest doubt
of it. That's where the officer of volunteers never is found lacking.
I've yet to meet the one who's not prepared to give advice on any
matter, and at a minute's notice, too. Well, now for that same advice:
do you counsel an immediate and early scattering, or a brief visit
to the dominions of Sam? Weigh your words, for I've determined to be
guided to-night by the wishes of the majority."

"I haven't attained a 'majority'--as yet, sir," said the adjutant,
speaking rapidly and beginning to unbuckle his belt; "but with due
deference to my seniors, I would state that the evening has been
long, warm, and very arid; enough so to reduce some of us--_one_ I
can swear to--to a state bordering upon collapse. I therefore most
respectfully would suggest that The Battery be converted temporarily
into a field-hospital, and that Major Sawin, surgeon, Third Infantry,
be ordered to proceed thither without delay, to make provision for
such patients as later may report to him for treatment."

"Listen to the boy!" said the colonel, as the adjutant paused for
lack of breath. "And nobody has any better advice to offer?" he went
on. "Well, Bones, you heard? Trot along--you're not in uniform--and
start Sam on a bowl of claret-cup. The rest of us will join you in ten
minutes."

"I think _I'll_ do the compounding," said the surgeon, mentally
recalling a formula of his earlier days, "and if the results aren't
satisfactory--why, I'll resign and give Wilder his step;" and
he turned towards the door, pausing to remark, "Don't overheat
yourselves by hurrying, for I'm going to take my time in getting
there."

The ten minutes had stretched well along towards twenty, when an
uneven trampling of feet upon The Battery's stairs warned the waiting
surgeon that his patients were at hand. He had employed his time to
good purpose, however, and in the arrangement of his "field-hospital"
there lacked nothing which long experience could suggest.

Before the wide dormer-window--in which every sash had been thrown
open to catch whatever of breeze might stray that way--stood a round
table, bearing a huge glass pitcher, filled to the brim with crimson
claret-cup, and beaded with the dew of its icy contents. Five heavy
chairs were ranged near at hand, and to each a glass was allotted,
while beside every glass lay a newly filled pipe, ready for the
lighting. Save one shaded lamp, all the lights were out, to give
full play to the bright moonlight which came slanting in through the
casement, tracing curious patterns of light and shadow upon the floor
and walls. All looked cool and restful, and the surgeon gave just one
more satisfied glance at his preparations before turning to receive
his wearied brothers-in-arms.

"This way to the operating-table," he called out, as the door was
flung open. "The instruments are ready, and the surgeon is waiting. I
shall make no diagnosis in individual cases--since it is apparent that
your ailment has reached the proportions of an epidemic--but shall
treat you collectively."

"Bones, you deserve to be thanked 'in orders,'" said the colonel
impressively, after a comprehensive survey of the surroundings. "Sit
down, all--and Charley, you man the pitcher."

"I chose a pitcher in preference to a bowl," explained the beaming
doctor, waving his hand in the direction of that seductive-looking
vessel, "because the effect upon the eye is so much more pleasing. I
tell you, the careful practitioner has to watch out for even the most
trifling details."

A clatter of chairs followed this remark, succeeded by the musical
tinkle of ice, as the adjutant filled the glasses. Then came a moment
of refreshing silence; and finally five grateful men set down their
empty tumblers with a universal, long-drawn sigh of comfort and
supreme content.

"Wilder will not get his step _this_ time," said the colonel, holding
his glass in readiness for refilling, "for your reputation, Bones, is
saved."

"Your appreciation touches me," replied the surgeon, leaning forward
to possess himself of a pipe, an example followed by the others. One
after another the matches cracked and flamed, until five corn-cobs
glowed soothingly in the dim, half-light of the quiet room, sending a
pale cloud of fragrant smoke adrift across the moonbeams, to twist and
circle in the fitful current of air from the open casement.

"With the brigade band, which you'll have to-morrow," observed the
colonel, between puffs, to the major, "you ought to go 'swinging on
the old, old gait.'"

"So it's to be the brigade band?" said the major. "Good enough! Just
before we left the armory we were discussing our chances on music."

"Well, music is rather important," returned the colonel, "for a good
band can put life into the lamest column. I once even knew a band to
put life into a dead man, too. Fact!"

"Extraordinary!" murmured the major. "I've heard plenty of bands bad
enough to strike a man dead, but I never happened to discover one that
seemed quite up to the resurrection pitch. Perhaps, Colonel, you'll
tell us about it?"

"I'm blessed if I don't," was the colonel's reply to this suggestion,
"if for nothing else than punishment for the doubt implied in your
tone."

"Thank you, sir," said the major politely, bestowing his lazy length
upon the cushions of the window-seat, where he settled himself in all
comfort. "It's a good long time since we've had a yarn from you, and
I'm pleased to learn that we're in a fair way to get you started."

This judicious remark was not without its effect, for the chief pulled
the major's empty chair handily near, gently deposited his feet upon
it, and observed, "Well, if I've told you this incident at all, I'm
sure it hasn't been within a year, so it will be as good as new." Then
he turned his head and called, "Sam, come and put out that lamp,"
adding, "Moonlight's good enough for story-telling--and somehow
lamplight makes a discord on a night like this."

"Got ev'rythin' handy, Cun'l?" inquired Sam, as the flame flickered
and went out.

"Yes, everything except _you_," responded the commanding officer.
"Pull up a chair, Sam, and kindle your disreputable old briarwood; for
I'm going to yarn about a shindy in which your battery trumped the
winning trick, and I shall need your corroborative testimony."

Sam brought a chair, seated himself with proper deliberation, and
added his contribution to the ever-thickening cloud of smoke; those
whose glasses stood in need of refilling took the precautions
necessary to avert a drought; and the colonel, fixing his eyes upon
the cloudless sky without, began:

"Back in '64--a matter of a fortnight or so before that little
affair at Three Mile Creek, where you, Sam, got scraped across the
wrist, and won that medal of yours--the 'Old Regiment' found itself
at a most forsaken sort of place which was going to ruin under the
name of Ashford Four Corners. Why we had been dumped down in that
particular spot we neither knew nor greatly cared, for we had reached
a point in soldierly indifference which enabled us to take our billet
unquestioningly, though not always uncomplainingly. Even old Burleigh,
our colonel, hadn't a very definite conception of our exact errand,
for he told us that we had been ordered to sit down, keep our eyes
open, and stay there until we were sent for,--an order which, at the
time, seemed easy of execution, though rather purposeless.

"With all due pomp and circumstance we marched into and through
Ashford Four Corners, and took up a position about half a mile beyond
the straggling collection of tumble-down buildings composing that
metropolis; and there we prepared to 'sit down,' as _per_ orders, and
'keep our eyes open' to see that nothing came along over a sandy road
running off, in a southeasterly direction, into the dense woods in our
front."

"Wal, 'twarnt sich a bad idee, havin' ye thar," observed Sam, between
puffs, "an' I guess ye seen th' reason for't, finally."

"Oh, yes, the reason made itself unpleasantly obvious later," assented
the colonel; "but along at the first we were rather pleased at being
sent off and--as we thought--side-tracked, for we hadn't the slightest
expectation of seeing or hearing anything from the enemy. No, we
certainly weren't grumbling much over the detail, for we'd had a hot
and trying time of it for ten days hand-running, and the prospect of
even a few hours of rest and quiet seemed attractive.

"But though we weren't looking for trouble, we'd 'been in the
business' too long to take anything for granted, and so we had a turn
at pick-and-shovel drill, and threw up a very workmanlike line of
breastworks, neatly topped-off with logs; and after the earth had been
heaped up and patted down we surveyed the result of our labors, called
it good, and waited patiently to see if anybody would blunder along
that way to help us in a house-warming.

"In billiards 'position is everything,'" the colonel observed,
after a short pause to obtain necessary restoratives, "and the same
rule applies in war. Our position, as we lay at ease in our hastily
constructed works, was fairly good. If I had the blackboard here I
could show you, in ten strokes of the chalk, just how the land lay;
but the blackboard isn't here, and, moreover, I should be too lazy to
lift the chalk if it _were_ here; and therefore I'll state that our
line was established across the tapering end of a fan-shaped clearing,
and in such a manner that both flanks were protected by dense woods,
while on our left an impenetrable swamp afforded us additional
security. The open ground in our front stretched away for a distance
of about five hundred yards, ending at the edge of the unbroken
forest. Do I make clear the situation?"

"Perfectly, sir," said the adjutant, rattling the ice in the pitcher,
by way of serving notice that he stood ready to fill any or all
depleted glasses.

"'Twas a good 'nough lay-out for inf'ntry," commented Sam, "but thar
warn't quite th' right slope t' git th' best work out o' guns."

"I daresay not," said the colonel, in reply to this bit of criticism,
"but your guns were able to accomplish all that we asked, eh? By the
way, did you _ever_ get a position that suited your exacting taste?"

"Wal, yis," remarked Sam, after an instant of meditation, "seems like
we _did_ once--at Malvern Hill. We hed jest th' right drop, thar,
an' our plungin' fire cut out work thet warn't far from bein' plain
butchery."

"After we'd got settled," resumed the colonel, "we began to look about
for amusement; but the 'Four Corners' didn't seem to afford much in
that line, and so most of us put in our time at making up lost sleep,
and we certainly might have found less profitable employment. Of
course we sent out foraging parties, but the few unhappy hens that
fell into their hands didn't go far towards making chicken salad for
four hundred hungry men, and so we fell back upon our usual healthful
diet of hard-tack and 'salt horse.' Lord! what wouldn't I have given
for a bottle of cold beer, or a pitcher of this blessed mixture," and
the chief, moved by the recollection of past privations, emptied his
half-filled glass at a single swallow.

The watchful adjutant promptly made good the deficiency in his
superior's tumbler, and then did himself a like kindness; Van Sickles,
who quietly had been smoking in a shadowy corner, rose, stretched
himself, and flung himself down upon the end of the window-seat
opposite the major; and then the colonel--just as the city clocks
began to strike eleven--went on, "Up to nightfall there had been no
developments, and when we bundled ourselves up in our blankets, after
posting pickets, it was with a comfortable feeling that we were in for
a quiet night.

"I'd been officer of the guard the night before, and probably
I don't need to say how soundly I fell asleep. But when, along
towards morning, a shot rang out from somewhere in the darkness
beyond, followed by another, and then by two or three in quick
succession--why, I came rolling out of my blankets in almighty short
order, and it didn't take an alarm-clock to tell me that it was time
to be getting up. Well, the long roll sounded, the regiment fell in,
and presently in came the pickets to report the enemy in our front.

"By this time the night was pretty well along, and the first hazy
light of the new day was beginning to come; but there wasn't quite
enough of it to show us what was going on across the clearing, and so
we threw out skirmishers into the woods on either flank, and waited
for the next number on the programme. For a good half-hour we stood
there, behind the breastworks, without being able to detect a movement
in our front; and I--believing the whole thing due to an attack of
'nerves'--had begun to try what satisfaction I could get from damning
the eyes and ears of the pickets who had spoiled my beauty-sleep, when
Bob Sheldon, my captain, touched my arm, and silently pointed out
towards the clearing.

"Now, all this time the light had been gathering strength, and though
it still was too dim to enable us easily to distinguish objects
at any distance, I yet could make out what seemed to be a line of
skirmishers, slowly moving up towards us. A second glance told me
that my eyes had not deceived me, and I turned towards Sheldon, with,
'My apologies to the pickets. I damned 'em too hastily, for we're to
have company at breakfast, surer than gospel.' 'Yes; them's them,'
said Bob, 'but not all of 'em. I'd give a pipeful of plug to know
what's hidden over there in the woods.' 'Where'd be the fun in that?'
I inquired, stooping over to rub my knee, which had stiffened up a
trifle during the night. 'If we knew what was coming, the chances are
that we'd leg it; and then what would become of the reputations we've
been so long in building up?'

"I straightened up, as I spoke, and again peered over the crest of
the breastwork, discovering that the advancing line had halted about
two hundred yards from us, evidently without any great ambition to
attempt a closer investigation; for at this stage in the war, you must
understand, both the Confederates and we had learned to think twice
before intruding upon a force well entrenched. These fellows, however,
didn't get much time to ponder on the situation, for we gave them a
volley which sent them to the rear again, though they retired slowly,
and fired as they fell back."

"About as my skirmishers did last October," said the major, half to
himself, as he recalled an episode of the regiment's latest engagement.

"Yes; exactly as your men did," said the chief, catching this remark,
"with this exception: your boys _all_ went back, but when this line
gave ground it left three poor devils lying motionless in the damp
grass. Ah, yes; a 'Fall Drill' would be very like a real fight--if it
weren't so different," and he paused to liven up his pipe by a few
quick, strong puffs.

"This little exchange of compliments--the way we had in those days,
you know, of saying 'How d'ye do?'--was only the curtain-raiser to the
real performance," the colonel resumed, after his pipe again had begun
to glow and smoke like a toy volcano, "and we hadn't long to wait for
the beginning of it. In something less than fifteen minutes after
we'd cut loose with that preliminary volley, a regiment came marching
out from the woods, changed direction to the right, and formed line
of battle; another followed it, and formed on its left; and in the
interval between them a battery swung into position and unlimbered.
That made the odds two to one, in infantry--and six to nothing in the
matter of guns."

"Then ye don't count th' breastworks for nothin'?" queried Sam, who
was in a critical mood.

"Well, they ought to be considered," admitted the colonel, with a
laugh, "and I'll call it an even thing on infantry, but the guns
we'll have to figure at sixes and zeros; and as an old gunner, Sam,
you'll admit that the other fellows held the stronger hand.

"Now, we didn't care much for the infantry part of the show, but the
artillery feature promised to be interesting. The sight of those six
guns, I make no bones of admitting, worried me considerably; and even
old Burleigh himself showed signs of unusual animation when he turned
to Frazier, our quartermaster, with, 'Frazier, did you ever see a man
ride like hell?' 'Yes, sir, I've seen several men riding that way,'
replied the quartermaster. 'Well, then,' blurted out old Burleigh,
'get on your horse, and ride back to the brigade--in _just_ that way!
Give the general my compliments, and tell him I want some guns, and
in the biggest kind of hurry, too, if I'm to hold this position. Say
that I've got a brigade, at the least, to handle, and nobody knows how
much more. I guess I can stand 'em off for an hour, unless they're in
force enough to walk right over me, and I'll give you exactly those
sixty minutes for getting the guns here. That's all--go! and Frazier
started at a gallop, just as the first shell came screeching across
the clearing.

"'Twas all-fired short range for artill'ry work," commented Sam, at
this point, "an' I've always allowed thet th' only thing thet saved ye
were raw gunners. _Must_ ha' be'n that, for guns half handled would
ha' had ye dead an' buried 'fore we got up."

"Yes, the guns seemed frightfully near," assented the chief, slightly
shifting his position, to bring his glass within easier reach, "and I
think your guess about the gunners must be a good one, for a smartly
handled battery ought to have wiped us off the face of the earth in
less than half the time that we faced this one. In fact, now that
I come to think of it, I remember noticing that most of the shells
went over us, and wondering how soon the pieces would be depressed
sufficiently to knock our line of works into a cocked hat.

"Well, as I've said, Frazier left for the rear in something of a
hurry, and none of us devoted much time to watching his departure, for
in front there was more than plenty to take up our attention. Five
hundred yards was as long range for the muskets of those days as it
was close quarters for guns; but we couldn't stand idle and take _all_
the pounding, and so we went in for a little firing on our own account.

"For a time things were rather in a mixed-up mess, and I had my hands
full in seeing that my boys kept cool--or decently near it--and
didn't go to chucking their ammunition away too generously; so you
can understand that I had no eye for anything except what went on in
my immediate vicinity. But I can remember, as distinctly as if it
had occurred but yesterday, how I turned, when a shell burst just
over us, and saw poor Bob Sheldon throw up his hands, stagger, and go
plunging down, flat upon his face. I was at his side in an instant,
but there was nothing to be done, for he lay there _dead_, with the
blood gushing in torrents from a frightful wound which apparently had
crushed in his skull. Poor old Bob! I turned him over upon his back,
gave just one hurried look at him, and then went back to the company,
for--our second lieutenant being then in hospital--I was the only
officer left."

The colonel paused long enough to take a sip from his glass, holding
it for an instant up before him to catch the effect of the bright
moonlight upon the ruddy claret. Then he went on: "Just how long we'd
been at it I'm not certain--for it's hard to compute time when every
minute is crowded with noise, and smoke, and death; but finally there
came a let-up in the firing, and with it an indescribable sort of
feeling that something new was about to happen. I was walking up and
down behind my company--now and again saying a word to steady the
boys--when, from our rear, I heard the music of a military band; and
presently, as it drew nearer, I caught the air it was playing. It was
our own band--we were one of the few volunteer regiments provided
with such a luxury--and old Colonel Burleigh had ordered it to march
up to the front, playing for all it was worth, in the hope that the
Confederates might be led to believe that we were being reënforced.

"Now, we were a careless and godless set, the most of us, but we were
a Massachusetts regiment, New Englanders born and bred, and we all
knew the 'psalm tunes' of our boyhood days; so when the band came
marching up, thundering out the 'Portuguese Hymn'--that grand old
psalm beginning,

    'How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,'--

the effect was instantaneous. The old colonel afterwards told us that
he had intended to pass along word for the boys to set up a cheer when
the band began to play, but the command never was given; for when our
fellows recognized the old, familiar air, they rose as one man, and
shouted and yelled, and yelled again, until the woods reëchoed with
the cheering.

"The cheering was at its height when an inspiration came to our
color-sergeant--a great, bearded fellow, with a voice like a
trumpet--and, holding high in air the torn and faded colors, he sprang
upon the breastworks, and roared out the second verse of the hymn--

    'Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed!
    I, I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
    I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
    Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.'

"It was magnificent! One after another the boys joined in the refrain,
until four hundred throats swelled the chorus, and four hundred
strong voices sang the old psalm as it never had been sung before. It
was one of those moments that make an impression upon the memory which
only death can efface, and I never shall forget the electric thrill
which ran along our worn-out line as we sung those words of mighty
comfort and cheer.

"I had joined in with the rest, and was singing for all that was
in me, when I heard at my side a weak voice trying to follow the
air, and, looking down, I saw Bob Sheldon--whom I had thought
dead--supporting himself on one elbow, and feebly wandering along upon
the words of the hymn. It was a ghastly sight, for he was covered with
blood from the gaping wound in his head, and so begrimed with the dirt
which had clung to it that his own mother never could have recognized
him. He was alive, to be sure, but barely alive; and as I knelt beside
him he sank back with a pitifully feeble groan, for the effort he had
made had exhausted the little strength that was left in him.

"Supporting his head with one arm, I moistened his lips from my
canteen, and then bent over to catch what he was saying; for, though
his eyes were closed, he was muttering indistinctly, and I could make
out an occasional word or short sentence. 'Nell--little Nell,' I heard
him murmur, 'it's _hard_ to go away.' Poor old Bob! I knew in a minute
that he was clean out of his head, and that his thoughts had gone
wandering back to his old New England town, and to the brown-haired
girl who, with brimming eyes and quivering lips, had bidden him
Godspeed when the 'Old Regiment' marched away. 'Be patient and--and
brave, dear,' he rambled on, in his feeble voice, 'for I'm surely,
surely coming--back--to you,' _Was he?_ Gad! something caught me in
the throat when I heard the words," and the colonel abruptly paused,
and reached for his glass.

Half unconsciously the major slipped his hand inside the breast of
his coat, where it rested upon a much-worn leathern case in which
lay hidden a photograph; the adjutant blew a succession of feathery
smoke-rings across the broad beam of moonlight which came streaming
into the room, and--for he was a very young man--fancied that each
ring framed a certain sunny face; Van Sickles tranquilly went on with
his pipe; and the colonel, clearing his throat by a slight cough,
continued:

"Now, all this meant a great deal to me, for I had known from
childhood both Sheldon and the girl whom he was to marry. And I can
remember how I wondered, as I knelt there, if it would be my duty to
tell her how her lover had gone down at his post. I tell you, boys,"
and his teeth tightened a bit upon the reed stem of his pipe, "war has
a terrible fascination--I wouldn't willingly wipe away the memory of
the old days in the service--and yet many an experience of mine made
me stop to think if, after all, war were worth the while.

"But in this case matters turned out all right in the end," went on
the chief, reaching for the jar of tobacco, and extracting a pipeful,
which he slowly rubbed in the palm of one hand, "and when the 'Old
Regiment' marched through the crowded streets of Washington, in the
grand review, Bob Sheldon rode along with us--and his straps bore the
gold leaves, in place of the silver bars. Yes, he pulled through all
right, and not long after we were mustered out, I stood with him in
the little church at home, and saw his handsome face light up when
Nell--his 'little Nell'--came blushing down the aisle to end the long
waiting.

"You see, the flying splinter of shell that had crushed him down had
torn a frightful furrow in his scalp, and had stunned him for a time;
but the skull wasn't fractured, and so, after a few weeks, he came
back from hospital to us, strong and hearty, and nearly as handsome as
ever. And now, Ned," glancing towards the major, and holding a flaming
match above his freshly filled cob-pipe, "I've demonstrated to you
how a band--if it's a good one and judicious in the selection of its
music--can call a dead man back to life."

"But the fight, sir?" asked Van Sickles, from his lounging-place upon
the cushions; "how did the fight come out?"

"Why, that's so! I forgot to mention how the affair ended," said the
colonel, rising with a yawn. "Sam, you tell 'em; you know as much as I
do about the rest of it."

"Wal, I dunno's thar's much more t' tell," drawled the old gunner,
in response to this command. "Fact is, thar warn't much fightin'
a'ter th' reg'ment'd got through with its praise-meetin'. Ye see,
soon's th' ol' gineral heard th' sound o' th' guns down Ashford way,
he started a couple o' troops an' our batt'ry a-jumpin', an' we met
Cun'l Burleigh's messenger on th' road. Wal, we sweat our teams some,
an' got down thar real suddin; an' 'fore we'd done enough firin' t'
heat th' guns, th' rebs pulled out o' th' clearin', hoss, foot, an'
artill'ry--only thar warn't no hoss--an' took 'emselves off out o' th'
way."

"Yes, that was the way it ended," said the chief, as Sam closed his
official report of the action. "And now we must be getting along
towards bed. Don't set too stiff a pace for us, Ned, in the parade;
for all of the old boys aren't so able-bodied as I am, and to-morrow
there'll be many a man in the Grand Army who'll have a hard struggle
between pride and stiffened joints. Wonder why I lighted this pipe!
Well, it's late, and I'm going to risk being caught on the street with
it. Good-night, Sam."

"What's become of your man Sheldon, since the war?" asked Van Sickles,
as the little party picked its way down the stairs.

"I've lost him," replied the colonel, in an altered tone. "It's a long
story, Van, and a sad one. Some other time, perhaps, I'll tell you;
but not now."



THE SEVENTH MAJOR



THE SEVENTH MAJOR.


"I was a-tryin'," Sam once meditatively remarked, up in The Battery,
as he straightened himself up after carefully depositing a fresh
log upon the blazing fire,--"I was a-tryin' t' figger out how many
majors we've got now. Startin' at th' top, thar's three _real_ majors,
which are three; then thar be th' surg'n--he bein' also a major
likewise--comin' t' four; then th' sargint-major an' drum-major totals
her up t' six--an' then in comes Major Larry Callahan, at th' wind-up,
makin' sev'n. Sev'n majors! Tol'able gen'rous outfit fur one reg'ment,
hain't it?"

Well, yes--I suppose it is; and yet all seven of our majors ably fill
their positions, while Major Larry Callahan certainly fills _his_ to
the brim.

He never was enlisted, and his name has no place between the heavy
leather covers of the paymaster's cherished roll-book, and yet he
is just as much a part of the regiment as the colonel commanding, or
for that matter, as the adjutant--and everybody knows how big a man a
gold-corded adjutant considers himself. Why, I honestly believe that
Colonel Elliott--at such times as it seems good to parade the Third,
to exhibit the power of the Commonwealth's "Strong Right Arm"--never
would think of giving the order to start into motion his seven hundred
men unless he first had made sure that Larry was at his post in front
of the big bass-drum. "Is Mulcahy in the ranks?" asked Hancock at
Gettysburg. "He is? Then let the battle proceed!"--and that rather
well illustrates our feelings in regard to our seventh major.

It was two years ago last June when he came to us. We just had topped
off a week of hard work in camp by a long, hot parade through the
dusty streets of the city, and six of our twelve companies had been
dismissed to take trains for their out-of-town stations, while the
rest of the regiment, with the drum-corps and the band, had marched up
town to the big armory. How he got by the sentry at the door is more
than I can tell, but somehow he managed it; I dare say he "sneaked it"
in, under cover of the big drum which afterwards became his idol.

Captain Tom Stearns, of "A," had turned his company over to his first
sergeant, and stood mopping his forehead with his handkerchief, as he
watched his men slowly filing through the door of the drill-hall on
their way upstairs to quarters, when he felt a tug at the skirts of
his coat and heard a hoarse little voice demanding, "C'n I get a job
carryin' de drum--say, can't I, mister? I c'n tote it jus' 's well's
dat coon youse got dere, an' I'd match d' rest o' de men better."

The captain looked down, and discovered, about at the level of his
belt, a fiery red head, crowned by the ruin of a once-white straw hat;
while a snub nose, an enormous mouth, a lavish display of freckles,
and a twinkling pair of impish gray eyes made up the prominent
features of the face upturned for his inspection.

"How in time did _you_ get in here?" politely asked Stearns, taking
the intruder by the ear, and entirely ignoring his request.

"Follied de band, same's youse did. Le' go me ear, will yer! Say, c'n
I carry de drum?"

"No, you can't. Now, 'bout face--and _march_!" replied the captain,
releasing the boy's ear. "Look out for the guard at the door, or he'll
make a pincushion of you when you go by him."

The ragged little urchin turned away, his face puckering into a mass
of wrinkles in which a fair share of the freckles disappeared, dug a
dirty fist into each eye, and started towards the door.

"Here, come back for a minute!" called Stearns, who, though dusty,
hot, and tired, felt some compunction for his roughness, and in amends
meditated the offering of a dime. "What are you crying about?"

"I ain't cryin'; an' I wanted de job--an' I'm hungry," said the boy,
stopping and turning about.

"You _were_ crying; and you can't have the job--and if you're hungry,
why don't you go home to get a bite to eat, instead of hanging around
processions?" said the captain, thrusting his hand into his pocket in
search of a peace-offering.

"Ain't got no home t' go to," came the brief but comprehensive reply.

"Haven't, eh? What's your name?"

"Callahan--Larry Callahan," replied the imp, coming a step nearer.
"Say, _why_ can't I carry de drum? Dat coon's clo'es would jus' about
fit me, an' I sh'd t'ink de fellies would ruther 'sociate wid me dan
wid him."

This novel view of the fitness of things seemed to come home with
considerable force to the tall captain, for he grinned and said,
"Well, I'm not sure that there isn't something in that view of the
situation. Come along upstairs with me. I've got to shift out of my
uniform, and after that I'll see what I can do for you. I'm hungry
myself, and I've a faint suspicion that I'm also thirsty, so I can
sympathize with you to a certain extent. Come along, 'Major'--we'll go
foraging later."

In the company rooms there was tumult, as there always is when sixty
men find themselves jammed into a confined space and simultaneously
making the attempt to change from the blue of the soldier to the
plainer and better-fitting costume of the civilian. Belt buckles
clattered, locker doors slammed, and now and again a stray bar of the
latest popular song brought forth either a rousing chorus or else a
roar of derision loud enough to drown all other sounds. Conversation,
though rather fragmentary, was plentiful and generously spiced, for
the week in camp had supplied the men with a brand-new stock of gags
and guys, and a torrent of chaff, in which no one escaped, was raging
unchecked.

"Who'll get the grand bounce for running the guard last Thursday
night?" roared a voice, just as the captain and his new-found
acquaintance reached the door of the company quarters; and,
"Smith--_Private_ Smith!" came back the answering yell.

"Yes, and the captain's got a recruit for your place, me boy," said a
man standing near the door of the equipment-room, catching sight of
Stearns' guest. "Come here, Smithy, and get onto the new un that's
going to stuff out your uniform."

Stearns caught this last remark and smiled at it, for he had found
recent occasion to "read the riot act" to one Private Smith, and he
remembered having said that he might feel compelled to give that
unruly warrior's uniform to some man more worthy of filling it.

In the snug officers' dressing-room the two lieutenants were engaged
in freeing themselves from their heavy, uncomfortable dress-coats.
Both looked up as the captain entered, and both laughed when he said,
"Gentlemen, I have the honor of presenting Major Larry Callahan, who
has inspected the regiment, and expresses complete satisfaction at
its apparent efficiency. He more especially dwells upon the soldierly
bearing of the drum-corps, though he criticises the complexion of
the musician at the forward end of the boomer-drum, making the point
that the presence of this black sheep among our tuneful lambs is in
doubtful taste. I might add that he aspires to the position himself.
Harry," to the second lieutenant, "you're smoking a cigarette! It's a
nasty and often fatal habit--and you may give me one. It's the first
article of war that a junior officer always must set 'em up for his
superiors."

Stearns lighted the cigarette which this gentle hint brought forth
from his subaltern's case, hung his heavy helmet upon a projecting
gas-burner, and began leisurely to strip himself of his trappings.

"Where did you get it?" asked the senior lieutenant, nodding at
Larry, and then turning to deposit his sword and belt in his locker.

"He introduced himself to me, down in the hall," replied the captain,
sighing contentedly as he flung his coat, with its row of jingling
marksman's medals, across the nearest chair. "I'm to have the pleasure
of his company at lunch, as soon as I can get into street costume. I
crave food, and--by the Great White Label!--I crave pure, sparkling,
cold water, or anything cold and wet," and he softly hummed to himself,

    "No-bod-y knows how dry-I-am!"

"Then you'll not come over to the club with us?" asked the younger
lieutenant, ruefully. "I know it seems a journey--way across town on
a day like this--but we'd counted on your coming. Westbrook, of the
Fourth, is going to meet us, and possibly Van Sickles will be there.
Can't you fix it?"

"No, not to-day, boys," said the captain, taking from his locker a
straw hat and placing it upon his head, with a mental comparison
between its weight and that of his stiff, spiked helmet; "I can't do
it to-day. I'm going to the hotel for a bite, and then I'm bound
straight for home--and a tub. Well, so-long! Remember, I must see
you both here to-morrow afternoon--say, at half-past four. Come on,
Major," and with a nod to his lieutenants he left the room.

The two younger men winked at each other, when the captain had
disappeared, and the junior found occasion to remark, "Isn't he the
gaudy old crank! Always picking up _some_ curio or other--but this
last 'find' of his comes near beating 'em all, eh?"

"It's one of his original ways of amusing himself," said the other,
stepping to the mirror to adjust his tie, "and I dare say he enjoys
it--but it isn't every one that could afford to go 'round in that way,
with a dirty little ruffian tagging along at his heels. Come, Harry,
aren't you ready yet? Well, get a gait on you, then--we don't want to
keep Westbrook in agony any longer than necessary."

Over at the hotel, Stearns put his guest through a vigorous course of
soap-and-towel exercise, and then ushered him into the gentlemen's
_café_. To be sure, the waiters stared a bit when the tall captain and
his dilapidated follower took possession of a table; but Stearns was
a frequent and liberal patron, and so--in spite of the exceedingly
doubtful social standing of his companion--his order received prompt
and willing attention. In the attack upon the food the honors were
easy, but I'm reasonably sure that Larry gave good account of himself,
for I've had the privilege of seeing him eat, in his company mess at
camp, and so I'm able to vouch for his ability as a trencher-man.

So long as anything eatable remained on the table, conversation
languished, but when the last crumb had disappeared--a matter to
which Larry probably attended--the captain called for a glass of
Kümel-and-ice, lighted a cigar, and said, "Well, Major Callahan, I
trust that good digestion may be pleased to attend your appetite. How
are you feeling--well lined?"

"By Jinks!" responded his guest, drawing his forefinger across his
throat, "me tank's loaded 'way up t' here. Dat was dandy grub, de bes'
I ever got."

"Can't you go something more?" asked Stearns, much gratified at the
spirit in which his hospitality had been received.

"No-o, I'm 'fraid I couldn't fin' de room," said the little fellow,
slowly and with an air of deep regret. "I'd like t' 'commodate yer,
but me 'commodations is all took up."

"If that's the case, then," said the captain, raising his glass to
inspect the icy film with which its exterior had become coated, "we'll
indulge in a gentlemanly chat. You're _sure_ there's nothing else you
want?"

"Well, I _smokes_," was Larry's suggestive response to this last
question, "an' if youse 've got a cig'rette--"

"No, you _don't_ smoke," put in the captain with some emphasis; "at
least, you don't smoke here."

"Jus' 's yer say, o' course," replied his guest. "I don't care much
'bout it--on'y I t'ought p'r'aps 'twould be sort o' comp'ny t' yer."

"Well, it wouldn't be," said Stearns, pushing his chair a trifle
farther away from the table. "And now, Major, suppose you tell me
something about yourself. You say you've no home--what's the reason?"

The boy took a big gulp of water, hesitated for an instant, and
then--catching the kindly expression in the captain's eye--rested his
elbows upon the table, and told his story: how he never had known
a father; how his mother had been sent away for a long term at the
women's reformatory; and how he himself had been consigned to the
fostering care of an "Institution," but had managed to evade the
officer who had been sent to conduct him to it.

"I s'pose I'd oughter ha' went t' de 'Home,'" admitted Larry, as
he concluded his brief and pitiful life's history; "but, hones', I
couldn't stan' it t' live de way dem kids does. Dey gets dere t'ree
meals a day, an' has a place t' sleep--but dat's de whole of it. An'
as fer fun, why, what does _dey_ know 'bout fun? Nothin'! Jus' youse
look at 'em sometime, an' see what a peepy-looking lot dey is. Huh!
dey ain't got no guts at all!" and with this inelegant summing-up
of the moral effects of charity-rearing he dismissed as absurd any
possibility of his subjecting himself to its tender mercies.

Captain Stearns heard the boy through, and then for a few minutes sat
thoughtfully smoking. Finally he fixed his eyes upon the little gamin,
and abruptly asked, "Larry, are you honest?"

"Yessir," replied the boy promptly, meeting unfalteringly the
captain's glance, "Yessir, I'm dead on de square, an' if 'twasn't dat
I'm tryin' t' keep clear o' de 'Home,' I'd jus' 's lives walk up t'
any copper in town."

"That's business," said Stearns, "and I'm glad to hear you say so.
Now, I'm going to give you some money, to keep you running until
tomorrow,"--with this he drew out a handful of change,--"and if you're
playing a square game with me you'll meet me tomorrow noon, at the
armory. Ask for Captain Stearns, and they'll let you in. I'm not sure
that I can do anything for you--I can't today, at any rate--but we can
talk over the situation. Is it a go?"

"Yep, I'll be wid youse," said the boy, hesitatingly taking the money
which his entertainer pushed across to him. "A quarter, an' ten's
t'irty-five--an' t'ree nick'ls is a ha'f!" he went on, inspecting the
tokens of the captain's munificence. "Gee-cricketty! w'at'll I do wid
all de wealt'? Somebody'll be marryin' me fer me forchune, 'f I ain't
careful!"

"You needn't spend it all, unless you have to," said Stearns; "and if
you have any of it left, when you meet me tomorrow, I shall think all
the better of you. See here," he went on, yielding to a sudden whim,
and tossing over a bill as he spoke, "suppose you put on a little
style, and pay for this lunch of ours!"

Larry's eyes twinkled as he clutched at the bill, and his mouth
twisted itself into a grin of alarming proportions, but in an instant
he assumed an air of unruffled composure, and beckoning to the waiter
he inquired, "Sa-ay, cully, w'at's de taxes on dese 'freshments?"

The astonished waiter, check in hand, for a moment stood glancing
back and forth from the captain to the ragged but unabashed urchin.
But Larry, waving the bill in his face, demanded, "Have youse b'en
drinkin'? I axed youse de damage on de whole layout!"

"Yas, sah," at length said the bewildered colored man, laying the
check before the boy, "I heerd yo'!"

"Den _dat's_ all right," said Larry, picking up the check and glancing
at it, only to break out with, "_W'at!_ Two dollars an' a quarter?
Why, I seen a place, on'y dis mornin', where dey gives youse a square
meal--'de bes' in de city,' it said on de sign--fer twenty cents!"

"I think the check is correct," put in Stearns, smiling at the
indignant expression on Larry's face and the disgusted look of the
waiter. "Pay up--you're not being cheated."

After matters had been adjusted satisfactorily, the captain rose, held
out his hand to his guest, and said, "Well, my boy, I must be going.
Hope you enjoyed your lunch as well as I did mine. You'll drop in on
me tomorrow, eh?"

"Sure!" replied the major, as he hunted for a pocket secure enough for
the retaining of his suddenly acquired riches. "T'anks fer de grub,
an' I'm 'bliged fer all dis mon'. An' _say_," coaxingly, "youse _must_
have pull enough fer t' get me de place on de drum."

"I'm afraid I can't promise you that," said the captain, stopping as
they reached the street, "for the drum-corps is rather outside my
command. Well, I turn off here--goodbye, until tomorrow noon, Major."

The next forenoon Captain Tom varied his customary Sunday routine by
taking a stroll through a quarter of the city with which he had but
slight acquaintance, and casually dropping in at the station house
of the precinct wherein Larry claimed former residence. A short chat
with the lieutenant behind the rail brought out a number of unedifying
facts about the lad's parentage, but Stearns found that his _protégé_
had kept to the truth in telling his story; and so, considerably
encouraged, he took a cab and went to meet his appointment at the
armory.

Promptly at noon Major Larry reported with an elaborate sweep of the
hand evidently meant to represent a military salute, and with a most
expectant grin upon his mobile features.

"On time to a minute, that's proper," said Captain Tom, drawing
out the sliding book-shelf of his desk, and utilizing it as a
resting-place for his long legs. "Sit down, Larry, and we'll have a
conference of the powers. How did your 'wealt'' hold out?"

Silently, but with a splendid air of pride, the boy drew a handful of
coins from his pocket, came over to the captain's desk, and spread out
his capital for inspection. Stearns counted the collection, and found
that it aggregated eighty-two cents.

"H'm! so you're a young Napoleon of finance?" he said, as the little
fellow put back the money into his pocket. "Well, tell me how you
managed it."

"It was dis way," explained Larry, balancing himself on the back of
a chair: "t' start wid, I had de ha'f youse gin me; an' den I went
into de papey biz, and sol' enough t' make twenty cents more. Now, dat
was 'velvet'--dem two dimes was--an' so I went t' pitchin' pennies
wid de Pie Alley gang, an' I win t'irty more, makin' an even skimole.
Well, I 'stood' on dat, 'cause I wasn't takin' no chances; an' I've
got de stack, 'ceptin' t'ree cents I give Reddy Burns fer a shine,
and fifteen w'at I blew in on me breakfus'. I slep' wid Reddy las'
night, y' know, an' so I paid 'im fer me lodgin' by lettin' 'im black
me boots--which wasn't no snap fer 'im, 'cause one o' dem boots is
a cloth 'un, an' he kep' shinin' fer an hour 'fore he c'd get it t'
glitterin'."

"Where did you get your supper?" inquired Stearns, leaning back in his
chair and laughing at Larry's report of his business transactions.

"Oh, I didn't want much supper, 'cause it was so late when you an' me
was eatin'," returned the major, jingling his coins in his pocket,
"but I matched wid Slinky Smith fer a piece o' pie, down in de alley,
an stuck'm. Say, I'll give back dat ha'f, if youse want it--an' how
'bout de drum?"

Well, Larry failed to get the position his soul coveted--at least, at
_that_ time--but when, after being in executive session for more than
an hour, the Conference of the Powers adjourned, he had been appointed
"Company Kid" for "A"; and on the Monday night following he duly was
introduced to the men, and was installed formally in office.

From that day until now his popularity steadily has grown
greater--"and for good cause." He has an inexhaustible fund of Irish
wit, by but one generation removed from The Sod, and sharpened to
the keenest edge by the sort of life he has led. He is a tower of
strength in his command of modern Arabic, that weird _patois_ which
reaches its full power and beauty only in the streets of a great
city. He can sing, after a fashion, and his ability to "do a dance
act" is unquestioned, for when he executes the steps it is with an
air of impressive earnestness and solemnity that never fails to bring
down the house. In fact, since his advent, when we in the staff-room
hear a yell of delight come echoing down the stairs and along the
corridors, we grin sympathetically one to another, and say, "Larry's
at it again--the little devil!"

He is clever, too, at all sorts of things over which the volunteer
hates to fuss, and many a dime comes his way in return for his skill
in polishing buttons and brasses for the lazy men of the company--and
"A," with fifty-eight enlisted men upon its rolls, boasts of an
aggregate of fifty-seven who always are "in fatigue," the remaining
one being the tireless first-sergeant.

Yes, it was a great and ruby-lettered day for "A"--the day when
Larry came to it--and in all its long history its quarters never
were kept so neat and clean, and its officers and men never were
entertained so well as they have been since he began his genial reign.
And it was a great day for the regiment when our "seventh major"
joined--for Stearns' nickname of "Major" Callahan has been adopted
officially--because Larry's fame has gone abroad in the land, and his
deeds have added new lustre to the name of the Third.

Larry had been with us a little over a year when his great opportunity
came to him. It was on a certain night when "A" had made arrangements
for a smoke-talk, up in quarters--for Captain Stearns had met at his
club one Lieutenant Hackett, of the regular cavalry, whom he had
induced, after much patient persuasion, to come over to the armory and
informally talk to the boys on the delights and discomforts of chasing
Indians around through the Bad Lands.

Now, much as Larry respected his own corps, he held the regulars in
even higher esteem, for he always had heard "The Army" held up as
a pattern of all that is, in a military sense, good-and-holy and
generally worthy of imitation by the hard-working and much-cursed-at
volunteer. So when it came to his ears that a regular officer--and
one, too, who actually had seen holes shot through people!--really
was going to honor his domain by his presence, he went to work with
even greater energy than he had displayed at inspection time, and
accomplished a house-cleaning such as would have warmed the heart of
any New England matron to witness.

First he swept the floor, and then he dusted from the furniture the
dust which had been raised by that operation, and then he swept
up again the dust which the dusting had caused to return to the
carpet--and then he paused, reflecting that, in the nature of things,
he might continue this alternation forever unless he stopped. So,
after a final dusting, he bent his energies to the arrangement of the
chairs, marshalling them in ranks of military rigidity, and squinting
critically along each row--muttering, "Back in de center, dere!" or
"Up on de left, dad-gast-yer-shoulder-blades!" as he rectified the
alignment. Then he polished the glasses of the pictures which form
the nondescript art-gallery of the company; and finally he put the
crowning touch to his afternoon's work by brushing the plush cushions
of the great, carved chair in which the captain seats himself on
occasions of state and ceremony.

He had been so busy that he had allowed his supper-hour to slip by
unheeded, and when he happened to glance up at the clock he gave a low
whistle of surprise, and said to himself, "Quarter pas' sev'n? _Wow!_
how de time's be'n humpin' along? Well, I s'pose I might's well skip
me grub now: de boys'll be showin' up in less 'n a shake."

He had given one last critical glance around the room and was turning
towards the door, when his eye fell upon the great, wrought-iron lamp
which the company rifle-team had won, a couple of years before, in a
match with "K," of the Fourth, and suddenly he remembered that the oil
in it nearly had been burned out. Now, the boys of "A" regard that
lamp with particular affection, because it was won in a contest to
which they had been egged-on by a series of peculiarly exasperating
events; and it has become a time-honored custom of the company to have
the lamp a-glow on every occasion when its members are assembled by
night. So Major Larry, knowing that the absence of its cheerful rays
would rouse the wrath of the company kickers, picked up the heavy mass
of iron, and lugged it into the equipment-room.

Here he filled the lamp, polished the chimney, trimmed the wick,
lighted it, and had raised his burden to carry it back to its
place--when, in some unexplained way, he lost his grip upon it,
and the whole heavy affair went crashing down upon the floor. In
an instant the scattered oil was in a blaze, and as Larry stood
there, horrified at his mishap, he saw the creeping tongues of flame
beginning to lick their way up the varnished woodwork of the nearest
lockers. In two jumps he was at the door: a dozen steps more brought
him, yelling "Fire!" at the top-pitch of his voice, out into the
corridor--and then there came to him a thought that almost stilled the
beating of his heart.

"Good Gawd!" he gasped, stopping short in his tracks, "dey's five
hundred round o' ca'tridge an' a ten-pound canister o' powder in de
nex' locker to de one dat's burnin'--an' de door's locked! Oh, what'll
I do--_what'll_ I do!"

Well, here's what he did do--and we have fallen into the way of
believing that no man could have done much better work. On the wall of
the company room, in the midst of a collection of flint-lock muskets
and other antiquated contrivances for achieving wild shots, hung a
heavy axe, a relic of the _ante-bellum_ days when "A"--at that time
an independent company--added dignity to its parades by maintaining
a small but ferocious-looking pioneer corps. Rushing in from the
hallway, Larry tore this long-disused implement from its hooks, and
dashed with it back into the equipment-room. By this time the flames
had gained a fair start, and the blazing woodwork was crackling
merrily, while the air was heavy and suffocating from the smoke of the
burning oil and varnish.

With a single blow of the axe Larry sent the flimsy locker-door
crashing from its hinges, and then, stooping down, he felt around for
the powder can. _The locker was empty!_

"Yah! yer jay," he snarled at himself, as the smoke choked him; "yer
poor, dam' jay--it's de _nex'_ one!" and he snatched up the axe, swung
it again, and splintered the burning door of the adjoining locker.

This time he hit his mark, for after an instant of frantic groping
in the thick smoke, he got his hands upon the canister and flung it
far from him, out into the room beyond. Then, by an effort almost
superhuman, he dragged out the heavy, wooden case of cartridges,
staggered with it through the flame and smoke--and fell in a dead
faint across it, just as he cleared the threshold. And there, not
five seconds later, the armorer found him, when he came rushing into
the room with a line of stand-pipe hose, by the agency of which the
blaze speedily was conquered.

Poor little major! His hands and face were cruelly burned, his thick
crop of curly, red hair was wofully singed, and he had inhaled smoke
enough to demoralize utterly his breathing-machinery. The firemen--for
whom, upon hearing Larry's shout of alarm, the armorer had stopped
to telephone--tenderly bore the lad downstairs to the staff-room;
and just before the first of "A's" men strolled into the building an
ambulance rolled away from the door, bearing the still unconscious
form of the company kid.

Around the armory, that night, conversation was carried on in rather
quiet tones, and nobody talked much except of Larry and his heroism.
As soon as Stearns came in he was told of what had happened, and
sending immediately for a cab he drove off post-haste to the hospital,
leaving his lieutenants to receive his Army guest. In half an hour
he was back again, with word that Larry, though badly burned and in
great pain, was in no immediate danger--at which bit of news there
came an audible sigh of relief from the men who had crowded around
him. And then some one sung out "Hooray!" and the rest came in with a
shout that set the window panes to rattling.

Lieutenant Hackett was unfortunate in his audience that evening,
for the boys--though they listened with studied politeness to his
remarks--had something else upon their minds. But he got as much
applause as any one could wish, when--at the close of his talk--he
said, "Congress awards a Medal of Honor to those in the Army who
perform deeds of exceptional bravery, and I can recall a long list of
those who have received the decoration; but I wish to say that I can
call to mind no instance of purer grit than that displayed today by
your unlucky little comrade."

It certainly seemed a long time before Larry came back to us, but one
night he turned up in our midst, as happy as ever and nine or ten
degrees prouder than a colonel on the Governor's staff--for Stearns
had fitted him out with a complete drum-corps uniform, made expressly
for him, and Colonel Elliott had used his influence to make for his
especial benefit a vacancy at the advance-end of the big drum. The
affairs of the regiment ran more smoothly after his return, and I can
remember the change in the aspect of "A's" men--for Larry was himself
again, and funnier than ever.

But there was still more glory awaiting him. About two weeks after he
had "re-joined," we had a battalion-drill in the big hall, and after
it a dress parade. The companies had got wind of what was coming,
and the ranks were full. It was Larry's first appearance with the
drum-corps, and when the field music "sounded-off" along the line, the
air with which he stepped out lacked little of being superb.

The adjutant had received the reports and published the orders, when
the colonel, in a low tone, said a word or two to him which caused him
to face about and walk along the front of the battalion to the spot
where Larry was standing, stiff as a post, among the musicians. In a
moment he returned, bringing the bewildered lad with him, and then
the colonel stepped a pace forward to meet him, and pinned upon his
breast a bronze Maltese cross, inscribed:

"A" Co., 3rd Infantry
         TO
    Larry Callahan
         FOR
DISTINGUISHED BRAVERY.

And beside this simple decoration he fastened the regimental badge,
brilliant with its glittering gold and bright enamel--a tribute from
the officers of the field and staff.

Of course the colonel made a little speech, but it was a short one and
the words were simple. As he finished he shook hands with the boy, and
then brought the battalion to a "carry," after which he called out,
"Present: _arms!_"

Up with a snap came the long line of rifles; down drooped the colors
until their golden fringes touched the floor; the flashing blades of
the officers rose and fell--and little Larry Callahan had been saluted
by the crack regiment of the Old Commonwealth!

"Now, adjutant," said Colonel Elliott, when the line again stood at
attention, "just take Major Larry to the left of the line and march
him along the front to the right, so that all the men can see him.
Chin in, Larry, my boy--and keep a stiff upper lip!"

The boy said never a word, but saluted and then started off with the
adjutant. For a time discipline went into eclipse: the men yelled
"_Hi! Hi!_" and thumped their rifle-butts upon the floor, until the
great hall shook to its very foundations--while the officers not only
neglected to check the uproar, but even went so far as to help in
swelling it.

Larry stood it all like a Spartan, tramping along with eyes to the
front and head well up, until he came abreast of the center, where "A"
stood in line, with the colors. But here he broke down, hid his face
behind the adjutant's arm, and sobbed as though his heart would burst,
when the sixty men--his friends and comrades, every one of them--broke
into a wild yell of applause as he came before them.

Well, that ended the ovation; for Captain Stearns, seeing at a glance
that the strain had been too heavy for the boy to bear, raised his
hand in a warning gesture to his men, picked up the little hero, swung
him up upon his shoulder, and marched with him straight along the
line and then out of the hall, leaving his company to take care of
itself as best it might. And yet, so far as my knowledge goes, Colonel
Elliott never has taken the slightest notice of this most un-military
proceeding of the captain's!



CONCERNING
THE
VALUE OF SLEEP



CONCERNING
THE
VALUE OF SLEEP.


Over the mantel in Major Pollard's smoking-room, in a heavy,
elaborately carved frame, there hangs a colored photogravure of De
Neuville's "_Une Pièce en Danger_," that terrible group--outlined
against a gray background of battle-haze--of rearing, plunging horses,
and of fiercely fighting German cavalrymen and French gunners, surging
in desperate struggle around a limbered gun. Many a time I've sat and
looked up at it, idly wondering whether the troop of Cuirassiers,
dimly visible in the drifting smoke at the right, would come rushing
into the rumpus in time to save the battered handful of artillerymen
and the piece to which they so grimly and absurdly cling. But
all this is neither here nor there: for the picture tells its own
story--while the story I have in mind to tell is quite another one.

It's not a very thrilling story. In fact, I doubt if it will have much
interest for any one outside the regiment; but it will please Pollard
to see it in cold, black type, and I'm indebted to him for so many
comfortable hours, passed in the fragrant atmosphere of that same
smoking-room of his, that I gladly take this opportunity to even up in
the matter of obligations.

It so happens that these are times of peace, and--though there are a
few of us who childishly consider that the very peacefulness of the
times affords a most excellent opportunity to prepare for war--the
tranquillity of everything bids fair to continue undisturbed. But even
in quiet days something in the blood of the Anglo-Saxon craves rivalry
and contention, and so from year to year we of the volunteers get
together and shoot--projecting much lead at remote bullseyes, in order
to find out who are the most disgracefully erratic marksmen.

Now, in these days the soldier who cannot shoot--however pleasing to
the eye he may be--is of no earthly sort of use. Pollard can shoot.
On battalion drill he sometimes may find himself at a loss for just
the proper command; and once, in earlier days, I heard him direct his
astonished company to execute "Right forward, fours _left_!"--but
there is no denying that he can shoot.

To the scroll-work on the bottom of the great carved frame enclosing
the picture of which I have spoken, there is fastened a bevelled,
gilded panel, very modestly lettered in black, "LAST SHOT, 1890:"
and this ideally simple inscription commemorates a shot which--if
not "heard 'round the world"--has not yet ceased to be remembered
whenever, in the company-rooms of the Third, men drift into rifle-talk.

Pollard was not always a major. It was only last October, when, in
the nature of things, leaves were falling freely, that two pairs of
bright, golden ones found a resting-place upon his broad shoulders.
Back in '90, he was captain of "M" Company; and one night, early in
September of that year, he found himself badly out of sorts at the
news that one of the best men on his company rifle-team had slipped,
fallen, and gone into temporary retirement with a broken wrist.

"It's too blistering bad!" said Pollard, as, late that night, he stood
upon the steps of the armory and scowled out into the darkness. "Even
with Harvey on the team, we had no sure thing--'H' is shooting so like
sin!--but now I don't know _where_ we are. Well, Johnny, you'll have
to do your cleverest, and perhaps we'll get there in spite of you."

"Thanks!" said the younger officer, thus addressed. "You're mighty
encouraging, aren't you? Well, I've always said that I ought to have
been put on the team, and to-morrow I'll prove it. Wow! how it blows!"

"Yes, it's breezy," assented Pollard, listening to the lively
rat-a-tat played by the loose flag-halliards upon the tower-staff,
"and later it'll rain. To-morrow, though, will be a good enough day;
see if it isn't. Come along, my son, it's high time we were getting
bedward."

"Now, see here, Johnny," he observed, a moment later, stopping at the
head of the street, "I've got to make good time to catch my train,
but I'll pause to remark that you must go home _now_! Don't color any
pipes to-night; don't take a pencil and go to figuring on the scores,
for matches aren't won in that way; and go to sleep early. _Sleep_
is the all-important thing, and without it you'll not do anything
to-morrow. Got all that? Good-night," and, tossing to his shoulder the
rifle he carried, he rapidly strode away.

"Humph! he thinks I can't hold up my end," thought the lieutenant,
glancing at the receding figure of his superior officer; "I'll show
him! I'm sorry for Harvey, but I'm inclined to think that his place
will be filled tolerably well. Pollard's right, though, about the
sleep question. I'd like to play a game or two of billiards, but,"
heroically, "but--I'll go home."

Meanwhile Pollard was hastening towards his train. As he came in
sight of the illuminated clock-dial upon the station his rapid walk
quickened into a trot; and the trot, in its turn, gave place to a run
when, as he passed in through the wide doorway, he heard the clang of
the last gong. However, by a spirited dash down the long platform,
he caught the handrail of the last car in the moving train, and swung
himself, panting but triumphant, upon the steps.

"Enemy behind us?" inquired the brakeman, pausing in his task of
knotting the dangling bell-cord, and glancing down at the uniformed
figure below him.

"Didn't have time to see," said Pollard, laughing at the aptness of
the question. "I ran without waiting to find out," and, as the train
swung around a curve and rattled over a switch, he lurched through
the doorway, and dropped into the nearest empty seat. Fifteen minutes
later he found himself at his destination, and leaving behind him the
oasis of brightness formed by the lights of the little station he
plunged into the desert of suburban gloom lying beyond.

It certainly was not a cheerful night to be abroad. The sky was black
as a hat, and the wind swept by in gusts that threatened to extinguish
the street lamps which, at rare intervals, twinkled along the lonely
way. It was early in September, and many of the houses still were
closed; while the lateness of the hour made those that were occupied
seem dark and untenanted.

Half unconsciously Pollard began to whistle "The White Cockade,"
and his step fell as naturally into the cadence of the air as if he
were following the regimental drum-corps. A short walk brought him
to his own house,--standing shadowy and silent among the surrounding
trees,--and, dropping upon the floor of the porch the butt of his
rifle, he fumbled in his pocket for his keys. He threw open the door,
stepped into the yawning blackness of the unlighted hall, and groped
his way along the wall to the electric button which should light the
chandelier. He pressed it, but no blaze of light followed the sharp
click. Once more he touched the button, and then, when again the light
failed to respond, cautiously felt his way along the floor until he
stood beneath the chandelier, and, reaching up his hand, found that
the gas was turned off.

"Hello!" he said to himself. "That's funny--altogether _too_ funny!
I certainly left the gas turned on, ready for the spark," and
instinctively he fell back a pace, and then stepped out upon the
porch.

"_Did_ I leave the burner like that?" he queried, as he stood peering
into the dense shadow before him. "Blessed if I can remember! Somehow,
though, it seems queer," and, unbuttoning his military great-coat,
he slipped his hand beneath its lapel and drew a cartridge from the
canvas belt which hung from his shoulder diagonally down across his
chest.

"I'm not sure that this is a very sandy proceeding," he thought,
pushing home the cartridge, and with a vicious snap locking behind
it the breech-block of his rifle; "but if anybody's in the house I'm
going to have an even show with him."

Balancing his piece in his left hand, he again entered the hall,
turned on the gas, touched the button, and when the jet of flame
flared up, glanced quickly into the empty rooms on either side. All
was as he had left it in the morning; and after intently listening for
a moment he closed and bolted the hall door, and went upstairs to his
own rooms.

Once in the room he called his Den, he took off his great-coat,
drew the cartridge from his rifle, and returned it to its place
in the long row of leaden-tipped, shining copper cylinders in his
ammunition-belt, and tossed the belt upon the lounge. Then he went
over to the mantel, picked out from the litter upon it a short, dark
briarwood, and proceeded to comfort himself with smoke.

"Humph! that was a pretty weak exhibition," he grunted, stooping
over to unlace his shoes. "Come to think of it, when I went out this
morning I found that I'd left the light burning all night, and--I
remember it now clearly enough--turned off the gas to save the bother
of going over to punch the button."

He tossed aside his shoes, put on a pair of easy slippers, and lighted
a candle. "May as well see that all's tight," he soliloquized,
starting on a tour of the silent house; "here goes for 'grand rounds'!
It is lonesome, with the family across the water. Wish they'd come
home! Can't say I blame the servants for packing up and leaving; but
mother'll be wild when she gets my letter telling that they've gone."

From room to room, trying the fastenings of doors and windows, he
went his rounds. All was secure; so, pausing on his way to touch the
button extinguishing the hall light, he slowly climbed the stairs
again, locked the door of his Den, and with a yawn flung himself into
his easy-chair.

For a few minutes he quietly sat thinking; then, taking from his
pocket a pencil, he began to jot down upon the back of an old envelope
a series of figures--his estimate of the scores likely to be made in
the match of the morrow.

"Perhaps we can pull it out," he muttered, eying the columns of
figures upon the crumpled bit of paper; "_perhaps_ we can; but it'll
be cruelly close! 'H' is good for almost anything up to five points
over centres, and--unless I can get more than I think I can out of
Johnny--we're not liable to run much above that. Confound Harvey! Why
couldn't he pick out a more convenient time for breaking himself?"

Here Pollard guiltily started, sprang to his feet, and hastily began
to throw off his garments, for the clock in the hall outside had
begun to sound off the first of the twelve slow strokes of midnight.
"I'm better at preaching than at practising," he thought, grinning
at the remembrance of his parting injunctions to his junior; "I've
broken two-thirds of the rules I laid down for Johnny. Well, I'm an
old hand at this business, and even if I've wasted a half-hour or so
I shall get enough sleep to put me into shape," with which consoling
reflection he took a long, parting pull at his pipe, shook the ashes
from it, put out the light in the Den, and went into his bedroom
adjoining.

Taking a revolver from the drawer of the bureau, he tucked it under
his pillow; and after locking the door, leading from the chamber into
the hall, kicked his slippers across the room, finished his disrobing,
and tumbled into bed. "There it comes!" he drowsily murmured, as a
stronger gust of wind was followed by a few scattering drops, and
then by a driving dash of rain. "Well, it'll rain itself out before
morning; to-morrow's _got_ to be a good day. H'm! it's pretty quiet
out here! I'm sick and tired of this suburban business; think I'll
have to set up bachelor-rooms in town, after the family gets back."
And with this resolve--which he later carried into effect--he fell
asleep, with the fingers of one hand lightly and comfortably resting
upon the butt of his pistol.

For more than an hour the rain fell heavily; then, as suddenly as it
had begun, it ceased. With it the wind died away, leaving a silence
so intense that when the hall clock gave out two resonant strokes the
sound echoed and reëchoed through the house. Ten minutes later the
deep quiet was broken by a sharp crack, as of splintering wood, and
then, for a time, all again was still.

Now, Pollard sleeps lightly, and the unusual sound, insignificant
though it was, started him up upon his elbow, with eyes wide open
and ears strained to catch the slightest creak or jar. Three minutes
passed. He was about to relax his motionless position of listening,
when there came to his ear a muffled noise that made him slip
cautiously, revolver in hand, from bed.

"Shoving up a sash, by thunder!" he said to himself. "It's lucky that
I came out, instead of going to a hotel as I thought of doing. Let's
see what's going on."

He crept to the door, pressed his ear to the thin panel, and listened;
but after a few seconds he straightened up, and disgustedly addressed
himself thus: "See here, Pollard--_Captain_ Pollard!--what sort
of soldier are you? Your heart's thumping so that you can't hear
anything else, and your knees are about as near wobbling as they well
can be without doing it! I know you're not afraid--but what _is_ the
matter with you?" Again he put his ear to the door, and this time
distinctly heard from below sounds which plainly indicated that some
one was at work in the dining-room.

"Now, I'd give something," thought the silent listener at the door,
"to know just how my side of this campaign ought to be conducted.
In the first place, I'd be a heap sight more courageous if I had
on my trousers and shoes. I'm no Highlander; I'm just an ordinary
citizen-soldier--and if I've got to go into action I'd much prefer to
form for the attack in less light-marching-order than this. But if I
leave the door--confound it all!--I'll lose touch with the enemy. I
want my clothes, but I _must_ know what's being done down there."

Still keeping to his post at the door he noiselessly cocked and
uncocked his weapon, in order to make sure that the cylinder freely
revolved. Below, for a moment, all was quiet; then came a sound which
Pollard interpreted to be the metallic clink of hastily gathered
silverware. "That'll keep 'em busy for a moment," he thought, leaving
the door, "and I'll have time to put on my armor. There isn't
much stuff in the sideboard--only a few spoons and forks. Lucky
that we sent the bulk of the silver in to the vaults! Here are my
trousers--and here's one slipper--where in glory's the mate to it? Oh,
if I only find it I'll make a vow to put my foot-gear, after this,
under my pillow every night!" For an instant longer he cautiously
pawed around in the darkness, but the missing slipper refused to be
found, and so, half-shod, he crept back to the door to resume his
listening.

The startled feeling that had come upon him when so suddenly awakened
had gone, and he was perfectly cool and determined. "Well, what's
the next move?" he asked himself, as he stood listening to the faint
sounds below. "So long as I stay here I'm safe enough, but it seems a
trifle white-feathery to let 'em have full swing down there, without
lifting a finger to spoil their sport. Of course I can scare 'em out
of the house easily enough--a couple of thumps on the floor would do
it--but I want a _shot_ for my money. What sort of good were old
Bones' 'Emergency Lectures'? I went to 'em all, last winter, and yet
here's an emergency--and I don't know exactly what to do with it!"

For a time there had been a cessation in the noises below stairs, but
suddenly Pollard became aware of stealthy footfalls, and then the
stairs lightly creaked under an ascending tread.

"They're coming up!" he said to himself; "more than one of 'em,
too--I can tell by the sound! Well, this campaign's planned itself
out now. I'm going to fight on inside lines," and gently disengaging
his slippered foot from its encumbrance, he stole barefooted into the
outer room, and took his station at the door.

"Now, this is going to be almost _too_ easy; and all because the
inspired architect who planned this house saw fit to locate a
push-button in the wall, just outside!" thought Pollard, as there
came to his ear a subdued whispering which indicated that the
intruders had reached the head of the stairs, and had paused for a
short consultation. "I'll just try a pot-shot at these gentlemen from
inside here; and then--when they break for downstairs--step out,
touch up the light in the lower hall, and halt 'em where they stand."

Softly falling back a couple of paces, he pointed his pistol towards
the door, and fired. In the confined air of the closed room the report
was deafening, and Pollard's ears rang merrily, when--taking it for
granted that his visitors must be in full retreat--he sprang to open
the door and put into execution the remaining part of his plan of
operations. In clumsy haste he groped in the darkness for the key; but
at that instant a shot rang out in the hall, and a bullet tore its
way through the panel of the door and embedded itself in the opposite
wall, making a most unexpected interruption in the programme that he
had laid out for himself to follow.

"Stay where y' are--_d' yer hear?_--stay where y' are," commanded a
hoarse voice from without, "while we're gettin' clear, or I'll blow
yer blasted head off, yer--" here came a burst of abusive profanity
that sent Pollard's blood to the boiling-point.

"All right; but get out lively!" said he, still keeping his hand upon
the key, but swinging to one side in order to be out of direct range
of the frail door. At the words, a second bullet came splintering
through the wood, as if to give emphasis to the remarks which so had
annoyed him, and then there followed a noisy rush of feet down the
stairs.

Without an instant's hesitation Pollard wrenched open the door, jumped
into the hall, and calling, "Up with your hands!" set ablaze the gas
in the chandelier below. Midway of the stairs, as he stood in the
shadow of the upper landing, he saw the two marauders, who had been
checked in their flight by the unexpected burst of light.

"Come--_up with those hands!_" said Pollard sternly, levelling
his weapon, "or I'll blow _your_ blasted--" but the sentence was
left incomplete, for with cat-like swiftness one of the men turned
and fired at him. But Pollard, heavily built though he is, can be
quickness itself when occasion demands, and at the flash of the
other's revolver his own weapon spoke sharply, sending a cruel bit
of lead ploughing its way through flesh and sinew and bone. With a
gasp of pain the man at whom he had fired reeled over against the
balusters, and, as his shattered arm fell helplessly at his side, his
smoking pistol dropped from his grasp and went clattering down the
stairway.

"Have you got enough?" said Pollard, swinging over his weapon, and
covering the unwounded burglar. "There's more of the same sort where
that came from--if you want it!"

"_Don't shoot again!_" said the second man, throwing up his hands. "We
give in!"

"Thereby showing more sense than you've shown yet," returned the
barefooted master of the situation, coming forward a few steps. "Now,
listen to me. Take your pal down to that big leather chair in the
corner of the hall--and don't make any fatal mistake by trying to pick
up that gun on the stairs!"

"And now," he went on, following the doleful procession downstairs,
"get his coat off, and see how badly he's hit. Bone's broken, eh? H'm!
that's pretty bad! Well, get to work to stop the bleeding; I'll tell
you how," and under his directions the wounded arm was bandaged up in
a rough, though effective fashion.

"And what'll I do with you _now_?" said Pollard reflectively, as he
stood looking at the two crestfallen intruders. "What's that? 'I shot
first!' Well, that's so; but I also shot last--and best. It's no use;
I've got to turn you over, much as I dislike to do it."

Here there came heavy footsteps upon the porch outside, followed by a
sharp pull at the door-bell, and Pollard, keeping one eye upon his two
bad men, edged to the door and opened it.

"Come in," he said politely, as he caught the glitter of a policeman's
buttons; "come in; but don't feel obliged to club me. In fact, you
needn't club anybody; the row's all over, and we're all friends here."

"I'd have been here sooner," said the panting patrolman, reaching into
his pocket for his handcuffs, "only when I heard the shooting I ran to
the box, and rang in the wagon-call. The team'll be along in a minute.
Well, you've done a good job here, sir, and I guess you didn't need
much help about it, judging by the looks of things."

"No, I suppose I didn't," admitted Pollard, shivering slightly as the
damp air of the early morning found its way through the thin, white
garment which modestly draped the upper portion of his person; "I
daresay I didn't; but ten minutes ago, all the same, I wouldn't have
refused a small amount of assistance Br-r-r! Chilly, isn't it? If
you'll stay here and entertain my guests for me, I'll run upstairs for
a minute and throw on some more cloth."

Stooping to pick up the burglar's revolver, which still lay where it
had fallen upon the stairs, he ran up to his room, struck a light, and
without bothering over the matter of hosiery, slipped on his shoes.
Then he struggled into his warm, military coat, lighted a cigar, and
descended to the hall, just in time to hear the rapid beat of hoofs
and the crunching sound of wheels that told of the patrol-wagon's
approach.

In a few minutes more all was over; Pollard had told his story to
the officers and the few excited neighbors who had ventured out to
investigate the cause of the tumult, and the wagon had rumbled away
with its two unwilling passengers and their guards.

"Well, that's over with and out of the way," said Pollard to himself,
after he had made secure the window through which, by forcing off the
catch, the burglars had gained entrance; "out of the way for the
present, at least: to-morrow, I suppose, I'll have to go through all
manner of fuss at the station--and later I'll be summoned to court to
help jug those poor devils for ten years or so apiece. Confound 'em!
why couldn't they have gone to some house where the people were away,
instead of stirring _me_ up?"

He yawned, and slowly made his way up to his Den, pausing for a minute
to inspect the perforated panels of the door. Of the three holes in
the woodwork, two were clean-cut and smooth, showing that the lead
had gone through from without; the third, ragged and surrounded by
splinters, told of the shot that he had fired.

"I'll have to get that door patched up before mother comes home," he
reflected, as he passed into the room, "or she'll have a most awful
attack of nerves when she sees it. Hello! it's well along towards
three o'clock, and--Great Jupiter's thunderbolts! I'd forgotten about
that match!"

He dropped into a chair, and stared blankly at the carpet. How on
earth could he manage to be in two places at once? He had promised to
report in the morning at the police-station, and yet he _must_ leave
town on an early train with his company team!

"Phew! I _am_ let in for it!" he thought. "Here's another 'emergency'
not provided against in Bones' lectures. I've ordered the team to
report to me at eight o'clock, and if I go over to see the police I
can't get to the armory in time. On the other hand, if I fail to show
up at the station I'll more than likely succeed in mixing myself up in
some unholy legal mess. Now, _how_ can I surround the situation?"

It certainly was a perplexing problem: but Pollard is not of those who
are prodigal of time in the making up of their minds, and his decision
was reached in short order.

"I don't know much about law," said he to himself, as for the second
time that night he pulled off his shoes; "but, for the present, the
police will have to go to Halifax! Perhaps I'm showing contempt of
court, or something else of the sort that will get me into calamity.
I can't help it if I am! I'm going out with the team, even if I land
in jail for doing it. Lord! I'm in fine, fat form for shooting!
To-morrow'll find me--_to-day'll_ find me, I mean--as nervous as a
Salem witch," and groaning dismally at his hard luck, he hunted up an
alarm-clock, set it for an early hour, and prepared to snatch what
little sleep he yet might be able to get.

With a vivid recollection of recent experiences he carefully assembled
his slippers at the foot of the bed, and then crawled between the
sheets. "I mustn't let the boys know anything about this," he
reflected, as he lay waiting for sleep to come to him; "it would break
'em up. Let me see, the morning papers go to press somewhere about two
o'clock, so the story can't leak out in that way. Well, it's tolerably
certain that _I'm_ out of the race. It would take a wooden man to
go through a night like this without getting the quivers. I'll be
satisfied if I can put my ten shots anywhere on the target."

Rolling over upon his side he closed his eyes, murmuring, "Glad I
winged that fellow, after all; he did his best to lay me out, and his
remarks were extremely ungentlemanly. Take it all together, it was a
pretty lively fray while it lasted. Can't say I'd care to go through
another like it--not just yet, anyway."

After an hour of turning and tossing, Pollard succeeded in dropping
into a troubled sort of doze; but, as it seemed to him, he hardly had
lost consciousness when the merciless little bell of the alarm-clock
began to rattle out its diabolical reveille, compelling him,
heavy-eyed and in a most villainous frame of mind, to struggle out
from beneath the tangled bedclothes. A plunge into a tub of cold water
did something towards freshening him up a bit, but when he buckled on
his ammunition-belt and picked up his rifle he swore softly to himself
at the day's prospect. However, a quick walk in the crisp air of the
September morning sent the blood jumping cheerfully through his veins;
and after he had made, at an in-town hotel, a halt long enough for
the total destruction of a thick and generous tenderloin of steak, he
strode over to the armory in a more confident mood.

And the match? Well, it was much like a hundred other matches
that have been shot over the same stretch of level, close-cropped
greensward: but "H" shot like sin, and it _was_ a cruelly close
thing--as Pollard had thought it would be--from the time when the
first bullet was sent singing on its way towards the distant targets,
until the last disk had been pushed up from the marking-pit.

According to his custom, Pollard coached his team until, except
himself, all had fired; then, with a coolness at which he found
himself wondering, he took his place at the firing-point and prepared
to shoot his own score. Shot by shot the sergeant at the blackboard
chalked up the results: three centres; a bullseye; another lone
centre; two more bullets in the black; a fifth centre; a fourth
bullseye--and one shot yet to be fired!

With his eyes upon the target, Pollard was slipping a cartridge into
the chamber when he felt a touch upon his sleeve, and turning, saw
Lieutenant Johnny, flushed with excitement, standing beside him.
"Polly," whispered the youth, with utter forgetfulness of rank and
title, "Polly, 'H' has finished! I'd never think of doing this with
anybody besides you--but, to win, you'll have to get a 'bull.' A
'four' isn't going to do the trick, for we'd be outranked on a tie.
_You've got to land in the black!_"

"Yes?" said the captain, dryly. "Well, Johnny, fall back--the gun
might explode, you know," and with a last glance at the drooping
wind-flags, he stiffened himself into position, gently lined the
sights upon the far-off speck of black, and fired.

For five breathless seconds, while the little puff of pungent smoke
lazily floated away, there was silence; and then, when the white
disk went slowly creeping up over the face of the target to find its
resting-place upon the bull's eye, there came from the watching men of
"M" a sharp gasp of relief, followed by an exultant yell of victory.

"_Steady!_" commanded Pollard, swinging around upon his heel.
"What's the matter with you, boys? Do you want to make people think
we've never won before?" and, bending over to pick up his lightened
cartridge belt, he walked towards the tents.

Late that afternoon, as the members of Pollard's team sat together
in the smoker, on their way back to town, a newsboy entered the car.
Pollard beckoned him to his side, bought an afternoon paper, and after
rapidly running his eye down the columns of the outer page, handed the
sheet to his lieutenant.

"Holy Smoke!" said that young man, catching a glimpse of the bold type
heading the story of his captain's night adventure, "Is _that_ the way
you slept last night? Well, I'll be--"

"You'll be asked to 'send in your papers,' Johnny," interrupted
Pollard, with an awful yawn, "if you ever again speak to me when I'm
at the firing-point in a match. You came pretty close to queering
my score for me, this afternoon. Yes, that's the way I slept last
night, and I think I'm beginning to feel it a trifle," whereat he
again yawned, and then settled himself more comfortably upon the dusty
cushions of the seat.

Well, that's all there is to the story. About the picture in Pollard's
smoking-room? Oh, the men of his team gave that to him, thinking that
he would like to have something by which to remember the cleverest
shot he ever fired. Over in the big armory, in the company-room of
"M," there hangs another picture, just like that one--the trophy
awarded by the Commonwealth to the team winning the championship of
the regiment.



       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Retained hyphenated and unhyphenated versions of "to-day" and
"to-morrow" used in the original book.

Page 44: changed "sittting" to "sitting." (Orig: He was sittting alone
upon the bench,)

Page 207: Changed "beween" to "between" and "must'nt" to "mustn't."
(Orig: then crawled beween the sheets. "I must'nt let the boys know)





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "From Headquarters - Odd Tales Picked up in the Volunteer Service" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home