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Title: Frank's Campaign; Or, The Farm and the Camp
Author: Alger, Horatio, Jr
Language: English
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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 "Frank's Campaign; Or, The Farm and the Camp" ***

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FRANK’S CAMPAIGN,

OR THE FARM AND THE CAMP

By Horatio Alger, Jr.



FRANK’S CAMPAIGN



CHAPTER I. THE WAR MEETING

The Town Hall in Rossville stands on a moderate elevation overlooking
the principal street. It is generally open only when a meeting has been
called by the Selectmen to transact town business, or occasionally in
the evening when a lecture on temperance or a political address is to be
delivered. Rossville is not large enough to sustain a course of lyceum
lectures, and the townspeople are obliged to depend for intellectual
nutriment upon such chance occasions as these. The majority of the
inhabitants being engaged in agricultural pursuits, the population is
somewhat scattered, and the houses, with the exception of a few grouped
around the stores, stand at respectable distances, each encamped on a
farm of its own.

One Wednesday afternoon, toward the close of September, 1862, a group of
men and boys might have been seen standing on the steps and in the
entry of the Town House. Why they had met will best appear from a large
placard, which had been posted up on barns and fences and inside the
village store and postoffice.

It ran as follows:

     WAR MEETING!

The citizens of Rossville are invited to meet at the Town Hall, on
Wednesday, September 24, at 3 P. M. to decide what measures shall be
taken toward raising the town’s quota of twenty-five men, under the
recent call of the President of the United States. All patriotic
citizens, who are in favor of sustaining the free institutions
transmitted to us by our fathers, are urgently invited to be present.

The Hon. Solomon Stoddard is expected to address the meeting.

Come one, come all.


At the appointed hour one hundred and fifty men had assembled in the
hall. They stood in groups, discussing the recent call and the general
management of the war with that spirit of independent criticism which
so eminently characterizes the little democracies which make up our New
England States.

“The whole thing has been mismanaged from the first,” remarked a
sapient-looking man with a gaunt, cadaverous face, addressing two
listeners. “The Administration is corrupt; our generals are either
incompetent or purposely inefficient. We haven’t got an officer that can
hold a candle to General Lee. Abraham Lincoln has called for six hundred
thousand men. What’ll he do with ‘em when he gets ‘em? Just nothing at
all. They’ll melt away like snow, and then he’ll call for more men.
Give me a third of six hundred thousand, and I’ll walk into Richmond in
less’n thirty days.”

A quiet smile played over the face of one of the listeners. With
a slight shade of irony in his voice he said, “If such are your
convictions, Mr. Holman, I think it a great pity that you are not in the
service. We need those who have clear views of what is required in the
present emergency. Don’t you intend to volunteer?”

“I!” exclaimed the other with lofty scorn. “No, sir; I wash my hands of
the whole matter. I ain’t clear about the justice of warring upon our
erring brethren at all. I have no doubt they would be inclined to accept
overtures of peace if accompanied with suitable concessions. Still, if
war must be waged, I believe I could manage matters infinitely better
than Lincoln and his cabinet have done.”

“Wouldn’t it be well to give them the benefit of your ideas on the
subject?” suggested the other quietly.

“Ahem!” said Mr. Holman, a little suspiciously.

“What do you mean, Mr. Frost?”

“Only this, that if, like you, I had a definite scheme, which I thought
likely to terminate the war, I should feel it my duty to communicate it
to the proper authorities, that they might take it into consideration.”

“It wouldn’t do any good,” returned Holman, still a little suspicious
that he was quietly laughed at. “They’re too set in their own ways to be
changed.”

At this moment there was a sharp rap on the table, and a voice was
heard, saying, “The meeting will please come to order.”

The buzz of voices died away; and all eyes were turned toward the
speaker’s stand.

“It will be necessary to select a chairman to preside over your
deliberations,” was next heard. “Will any one nominate?”

“I nominate Doctor Plunkett,” came from a man in the corner.

The motion was seconded, and a show of hands resulted in favor of the
nominee.

A gentlemanly-looking man with a pleasant face advanced to the speaker’s
stand, and with a bow made a few remarks to this effect:

“Fellow citizens: This is new business to me, as you are doubtless
aware. My professional engagements have not often allowed me to take
part in the meetings which from time to time you have held in this hall.
On the present occasion, however, I felt it to be my duty, and the duty
of every loyal citizen, to show by his presence how heartily he approves
the object which has called us together. The same consideration will
not suffer me to decline the unexpected responsibility which you have
devolved upon me. Before proceeding farther, I would suggest that a
clerk will be needed to complete the organization.”

A young man was nominated and elected without opposition.

Doctor Plunkett again addressed the meeting: “It is hardly necessary,”
 he said, “to remind you of the object which has brought us together. Our
forces in the field need replenishing. The Rebellion has assumed more
formidable proportions than we anticipated. It is quite clear that we
cannot put it down with one hand. We shall need both. Impressed with
this conviction, President Lincoln has made an extraordinary levy upon
the country. He feels that it is desirable to put down the Rebellion
as speedily as possible, and not suffer it to drag through a series
of years. But he cannot work single-handed. The loyal States must give
their hearty cooperation. Our State, though inferior in extent and
population to some others, has not fallen behind in loyal devotion.
Nor, I believe, will Rossville be found wanting in this emergency.
Twenty-five men have been called for. How shall we get them? This is the
question which we are called upon to consider. I had hoped the Honorable
Solomon Stoddard would be here to address you; but I regret to learn
that a temporary illness will prevent his doing so. I trust that those
present will not be backward in expressing their opinions.”

Mr. Holman was already on his feet. His speech consisted of disconnected
remarks on the general conduct of the war, mingled with severe
denunciation of the Administration.

He had spoken for fifteen minutes in this strain, when the chairman
interfered----

“Your remarks are out of order, Mr. Holman. They are entirely irrelevant
to the question.”

Holman wiped his cadaverous features with a red silk
pocket-handkerchief, and inquired, sarcastically, “Am I to understand
that freedom of speech is interdicted in this hall?”

“Freedom of speech is in order,” said the chairman calmly, “provided
the speaker confines himself to the question under discussion. You have
spoken fifteen minutes without once touching it.”

“I suppose you want me to praise the Administration,” said Holman,
evidently thinking that he had demolished the chairman. He looked around
to observe what effect his shot had produced.

“That would be equally out of order,” ruled the presiding officer. “We
have not assembled to praise or to censure the Administration, but to
consider in what manner we shall go to work to raise our quota.”

Holman sat down with the air of a martyr.

Mr. Frost rose next. It is unnecessary to report his speech. It was
plain, practical, and to the point. He recommended that the town
appropriate a certain sum as bounty money to volunteers. Other towns had
done so, and he thought with good reason. It would undoubtedly draw in
recruits more rapidly.

A short, stout, red-faced man, wearing gold spectacles, rose hastily.

“Mr. Chairman,” he commenced, “I oppose that suggestion. I think it
calculated to work serious mischief. Do our young men need to be hired
to fight for their country? I suppose that is what you call patriotism.
For my part, I trust the town will have too much good sense to agree to
any such proposition. The consequence of it would be to plunge us into
debt, and increase our taxes to a formidable amount.”

It may be remarked that Squire Haynes, the speaker, was the wealthiest
man in town, and, of course, would be considerably affected by increased
taxation. Even now he never paid his annual tax-bill without an inward
groan, feeling that it was so much deducted from the sum total of his
property.

Mr. Frost remained standing while Squire Haynes was speaking, and at the
close continued his speech:

“Squire Haynes objects that my proposition, if adopted, will make
our taxes heavier. I grant it: but how can we expect to carry on this
gigantic war without personal sacrifices? If they only come in the form
of money, we may account ourselves fortunate. I take it for granted
that there is not a man here present who does not approve the present
war--who does not feel that we are waging it for good and sufficient
reasons.”

Here Mr. Holman moved uneasily in his seat, and seemed on the point of
interrupting the speaker, but for some reason forbore.

“Such being the case, we cannot but feel that the burden ought to fall
upon the entire community, and not wholly upon any particular portion.
The heaviest sacrifices must undoubtedly be made by those who leave
their homes and peril life and limb on the battlefield. When I propose
that you should lighten that sacrifice so far as it lies in your power,
by voting them a bounty, it is because I consider that money will
compensate them for the privations they must encounter and the perils
they will incur. For that, they must look to the satisfaction that will
arise from the feeling that they have responded to their country’s call,
and done something to save from ruin the institutions which our fathers
transmitted as a sacred trust to their descendants. Money cannot pay for
loss of life or limb. But some of them leave families behind. It is not
right that these families should suffer because the fathers have devoted
themselves to the sacred cause of liberty. When our soldiers go forth,
enable them to feel that their wives and children shall not lack for the
necessaries of life. The least that those who are privileged to stay at
home can do is to tax their purses for this end.”

“Mr. Chairman,” said Squire Haynes sarcastically, “I infer that the last
speaker is intending to enlist.”

Mr. Frost’s face flushed at this insinuation.

“Squire Haynes chooses to impute to me interested motives. I need enter
into no defense before an audience to whom I am well known. I will
only inquire whether interested motives have nothing to do with his
opposition to voting bounties to our soldiers?”

This was such a palpable hit that Squire Haynes winced under it, and his
red face turned redder as he saw the smiles of those about him.

“Impudent puppy!” he muttered to himself; “he seems to forget that I
have a mortgage of eight hundred dollars on his farm. When the time
comes to foreclose it, I will show him no mercy. I’ll sell him out, root
and branch!”

Mr. Frost could not read the thoughts that were passing through the mind
of his creditor. They might have given him a feeling of uneasiness, but
would not in the least have influenced his action. He was a man loyal to
his own convictions of duty, and no apprehension of personal loss would
have prevented his speaking in accordance with what he felt to be right.

The considerations which had been urged were so reasonable that the
voters present, with very little opposition, voted to pay one hundred
and fifty dollars to each one who was willing to enlist as one of the
town’s quota. A list was at once opened, and after the close of the
meeting four young men came forward and put down their names, amid the
applause of the assembly.

“I wanted to do it before,” said John Drake, one of the number, to Mr.
Frost, “but I’ve got a wife and two little children dependent upon me
for support. I couldn’t possibly support them out of my thirteen dollars
a month, even with the State aid. But your motion has decided me. I
could do better by staying at home, even with that; but that isn’t the
question. I want to help my country in this hour of her need; and now
that my mind is at ease about my family, I shall cheerfully enter the
service.”

“And I know of no one who will make a better soldier!” said Mr. Frost
heartily.



CHAPTER II. THE PRIZE

A few rods distant from the Town Hall, but on the opposite side of the
street, stood the Rossville Academy. It had been for some years under
the charge of James Rathburn, A. M., a thorough scholar and a skilful
teacher. A large part of his success was due to his ability in making
the ordinary lessons of the schoolroom interesting to his scholars.

Some forty students attended the academy, mostly from the town of
Rossville. Mr. Rathburn, however, received a few boarders into his
family.

There were three classes in the Latin language; but the majority of
those who had taken it up stopped short before they had gone beyond the
Latin Reader. One class, however, had commenced reading the Aeneid of
Virgil, and was intending to pursue the full course of preparation for
college; though in regard to one member of the class there was some doubt
whether he would be able to enter college. As this boy is to be our hero
we will take a closer look at him.

Frank Frost is at this time in his sixteenth year. He is about the
medium size, compactly made, and the healthful color in his cheeks is
good evidence that he is not pursuing his studies at the expense of his
health. He has dark chestnut hair, with a slight wave, and is altogether
a fine-looking boy.

At a desk behind him sits John Haynes, the son of Squire Haynes,
introduced in our last chapter. He is nearly two years older than Frank,
and about as opposite to him in personal appearance as can well be
imagined. He has a thin face, very black hair is tall of his age, and
already beginning to feel himself a young man. His manner is full of
pretension. He never forgets that his father is the richest man in town,
and can afford to give him advantages superior to those possessed by his
schoolfellows. He has a moderate share of ability but is disinclined to
work hard. His affectation of Superiority makes him as unpopular among
his schoolfellows as Frank is popular.

These two boys, together with Henry Tufts, constitute the preparatory
class of Rossville Academy. Henry is mild in his manners, and a
respectable student, but possesses no positive character. He comes from
a town ten miles distant, and boards with the principal. Frank, though
the youngest of the three, excels the other two in scholarship. But
there is some doubt whether he will be able to go to college. His father
is in moderate circumstances, deriving a comfortable subsistence from a
small farm, but is able to lay by a very small surplus every year, and
this he feels it necessary to hold in reserve for the liquidation of
the mortgage held by Squire Haynes. Frank’s chance of attaining what he
covets-a college education-seems small; but he is resolved at least
to prepare for college, feeling that even this will constitute a very
respectable education.

The reader is introduced to the main schoolroom of the Rossville Academy
on the morning of the day of which the war meeting takes place.

At nine o’clock the bell rang, and the scholars took their seats. After
the preliminary devotional exercise, Mr. Rathburn, instead of calling up
the first class at once, paused a moment, and spoke as follows:

“Scholars, I need not remind you that on the first day of the term,
with the design of encouraging you to aim at improvement in English
composition, I offered two prizes-one for the best essay written by a
boy over fourteen years of age; the other for the best composition by
any one under that age. It gives me pleasure to state that in most of
those submitted to me I recognize merit, and I should be glad if it were
in my power to give three times as many prizes. Those of you, however,
who are unsuccessful will feel repaid by the benefit you have yourselves
derived from the efforts you have made for another end.”

During this address, John Haynes looked about him with an air of
complacency and importance. He felt little doubt that his own essay on
the “Military Genius of Napoleon” would win the prize. He did not so
much care for this, except for the credit it would give him. But his
father, who was ambitious for him, had promised him twenty-five
dollars if he succeeded, and he had already appropriated this sum in
imagination. He had determined to invest it in a handsome boat which he
had seen for sale in Boston on his last visit to that city.

“After careful consideration,” continued the teacher, “I have decided
that the prize should be adjudged to an essay entitled ‘The Duties of
Boys on the Present National Crisis,’ written by Frank Frost.”

There was a general clapping of hands at this announcement. Frank was
a general favorite, and even his disappointed rivals felt a degree of
satisfaction in feeling that he had obtained the prize.

There was one exception, however. John Haynes turned pale, and then red,
with anger and vexation. He scowled darkly while the rest of the boys
were applauding, and persuaded himself that he was the victim of a great
piece of injustice.

Frank’s face flushed with pleasure, and his eyes danced with delight. He
had made a great effort to succeed, and he knew that at home they would
be very happy to hear that the prize had been awarded to him.

“Frank Frost will come forward,” said Mr. Rathburn.

Frank left his seat, and advanced modestly. Mr. Rathburn placed in his
hand a neat edition of Whittier’s Poem’s in blue and gold.

“Let this serve as an incentive to renewed effort,” he said.

The second prize was awarded to one of the girls. As she has no part in
our story, we need say nothing more on this point.

At recess, Frank’s desk was surrounded by his schoolmates, who were
desirous of examining the prize volumes. All expressed hearty good-will,
congratulating him on his success, with the exception of John Haynes.

“You seem mighty proud of your books, Frank Frost,” said he with a
sneer. “We all know that you’re old Rathburn’s favorite. It didn’t make
much difference what you wrote, as long as you were sure of the prize.”

“For shame, John Haynes!” exclaimed little Harvey Grover impetuously.
“You only say that because you wanted the prize yourself, and you’re
disappointed.”

“Disappointed!” retorted John scornfully. “I don’t want any of old
Rathburn’s sixpenny books. I can buy as many as I please. If he’d given
‘em to me, I should have asked him to keep ‘em for those who needed ‘em
more.”

Frank was justly indignant at the unfriendly course which John chose
to pursue, but feeling that it proceeded from disappointed rivalry, he
wisely said nothing to increase his exasperation. He put the two books
carefully away in his desk, and settled himself quietly to his day’s
lessons.

It was not until evening that John and his father met. Both had been
chafed--the first by his disappointment, the second by the failure
of his effort to prevent the town’s voting bounties to volunteers.
In particular he was incensed with Mr. Frost, for his imputation
of interested motives, although it was only in return for a similar
imputation brought against himself.

“Well, father, I didn’t get the prize,” commenced John, in a
discontented voice.

“So much the worse for you,” said his father coldly. “You might have
gained it if you had made an effort.”

“No, I couldn’t. Rathburn was sure to give it to his favorite.”

“And who is his favorite?” questioned Squire Haynes, not yet siding with
his son.

“Frank Frost, to be sure.”

“Frank Frost!” repeated the squire, rapidly wheeling round to his son’s
view of the matter. His dislike of the father was so great that it
readily included the son. “What makes you think he is the teacher’s
favorite?”

“Oh, Rathburn is always praising him for something or other. All the
boys know Frank Frost is his pet. You won’t catch him praising me, if I
work ever so hard.”

John did not choose to mention that he had not yet tried this method of
securing the teacher’s approval.

“Teachers should never have favorites,” said the squire dogmatically.
“It is highly detrimental to a teacher’s influence, and subversive of
the principles of justice. Have you got your essay with you, John?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You may sit down and read it to me, and if I think it deserving, I will
take care that you sha’n’t lose by the teacher’s injustice.”

John readily obeyed. He hurried up to his chamber, and, opening his
writing-desk, took out a sheet of foolscap, three sides of which were
written over. This he brought down-stairs with him. He began to hope
that he might get the boat after all.

The squire, in dressing-gown and slippers, sat in a comfortable
armchair, while John in a consequential manner read his rejected
essay. It was superficial and commonplace, and abundantly marked with
pretension, but to the squire’s warped judgment it seemed to have
remarkable merit.

“It does you great credit, John,” said he emphatically. “I don’t know
what sort of an essay young Frost wrote, but I venture to say it was
not as good. If he’s anything like his father, he is an impertinent
jackanapes.”

John pricked up his ears, and listened attentively.

“He grossly insulted me at the town meeting to-day, and I sha’n’t soon
forget it. It isn’t for his interest to insult a man who has the power
to annoy him that I possess.”

“Haven’t you got a mortgage on his farm?”

“Yes, and at a proper time I shall remind him of it. But to come back to
your own affairs. What was the prize given to young Frost?”

“A blue-and-gold copy of Whittier’s Poems, in two volumes.”

“Plain binding, I suppose.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very well. The next time I go to Boston, I will buy you the same thing
bound in calf. I don’t intend that you shall suffer by your teacher’s
injustice.”

“It wasn’t so much the prize that I cared for,” said John, who felt
like making the most of his father’s favorable mood, “but you know you
promised me twenty-five dollars if I gained it.”

“And as you have been defrauded of it, I will give you thirty instead,”
 said the squire promptly.

John’s eyes sparkled with delight. “Oh, thank you, sir!” he said. “I
wouldn’t change places with Frank Frost now for all his prize.”

“I should think not, indeed,” said the squire pompously. “Your position
as the son of a poor farmer wouldn’t be quite so high as it is now.”

As he spoke he glanced complacently at the handsome furniture which
surrounded him, the choice engravings which hung on the walls, and the
full-length mirror in which his figure was reflected. “Ten years from
now Frank Frost will be only a common laborer on his father’s farm--that
is,” he added significantly, “if his father manages to keep it; while
you, I hope, will be winning distinction at the bar.”

Father and son were in a congenial mood that evening, and a common
hatred drew them more closely together than mutual affection had ever
done. They were very much alike--both cold, calculating, and selfish.
The squire was indeed ambitious for his son, but could hardly be said
to love him, since he was incapable of feeling a hearty love for any one
except himself.

As for John, it is to be feared that he regarded his father chiefly as
one from whom he might expect future favors. His mother had been a good,
though not a strong-minded woman, and her influence might have been of
advantage to her son; but unhappily she had died when John was in his
tenth year, and since then he had become too much like his father.



CHAPTER III. FRANK AT HOME

Mr. Frost’s farm was situated about three-quarters of a mile from the
village. It comprised fifty acres, of which twenty were suitable for
tillage, the remainder being about equally divided between woodland and
pasture.

Mr. Frost had for some years before his marriage been a painter, and had
managed to save up from his earnings not far from a thousand dollars.
Thinking, however, that farming would be more favorable to health, he
purchased his fifty-acre farm for twenty-eight hundred dollars, payable
one thousand down, and the rest remaining on mortgage. At the date of
our story he had succeeded in paying up the entire amount within eight
hundred dollars, a mortgage for that amount being held by Squire Haynes.
He had not been able to accomplish this without strict economy, in which
his wife had cheerfully aided him.

But his family had grown larger and more expensive. Besides Frank, who
was the oldest, there were now three younger children--Alice, twelve
years of age; Maggie, ten; and Charlie, seven.

The farmhouse was small but comfortable, and the family had never been
tempted to sigh for a more costly or luxurious home. They were happy and
contented, and this made their home attractive.

On the evening succeeding that of the war meeting, Frank was seated
in the common sitting-room with his father and mother. There was a
well-worn carpet on the floor, a few plain chairs were scattered about
the room, and in the corner ticked one of the old-fashioned clocks such
as used to be the pride of our New England households. In the center
of the room stood a round table, on which had been set a large
kerosene-lamp, which diffused a cheerful light about the apartment.

On a little table, over which hung a small mirror, were several papers
and magazines. Economical in most things, Mr. Frost was considered by
many of his neighbors extravagant in this. He subscribed regularly
for Harper’s Magazine and Weekly, a weekly agricultural paper, a daily
paper, and a child’s magazine.

“I don’t see how you can afford to buy so much reading-matter,” said a
neighbor, one day. “It must cost you a sight of money. As for me, I only
take a weekly paper, and I think I shall have to give that up soon.”

“All my papers and magazines cost me in a year, including postage,
is less than twenty dollars,” said Mr. Frost quietly. “A very slight
additional economy in dress--say three dollars a year to each of us will
pay that. I think my wife would rather make her bonnet wear doubly as
long than give up a single one of our papers. When you think of the
comparative amount of pleasure given by a paper that comes to you
fifty-two times in a year, and a little extra extravagance in dress, I
think you will decide in favor of the paper.”

“But when you’ve read it, you haven’t anything to show for your money.”

“And when clothes are worn out you may say the same of them. But we
value both for the good they have done, and the pleasure they have
afforded. I have always observed that a family where papers and
magazines are taken is much more intelligent and well informed than
where their bodies are clothed at the expense of their minds. Our daily
paper is the heaviest item; but I like to know what is passing in the
world, and, besides, I think I more than defray the expense by the
knowledge I obtain of the markets. At what price did you sell your
apples last year?”

“At one dollar and seventy-five cents per barrel.”

“And I sold forty barrels at two dollars per barrel. I found from my
paper that there was reason to expect an increase in the price, and held
on. By so doing I gained ten dollars, which more than paid the expense
of my paper for the year. So even in a money way I was paid for my
subscription. No, neighbor, though I have good reason to economize, I
don’t care to economize in that direction. I want my children to grow up
intelligent citizens. Let me advise you, instead of stopping your only
paper, to subscribe for two or three more.”

“I don’t know,” was the irresolute reply. “It was pretty lucky about the
apples; but it seems a good deal to pay. As for my children, they don’t
get much time to read. They’ve got to earn their livin’, and that ain’t
done by settin’ down and readin’.”

“I am not so sure of that,” said Mr. Frost. “Education often enables a
man to make money.”

The reader may have been surprised at the ease with which Mr. Frost
expressed himself in his speech at the war meeting. No other explanation
is required than that he was in the habit of reading, every day,
well-selected newspapers. “A man is known by the company he keeps.”

“So you gained the prize, Frank?” said his father approvingly. “I am
very glad to hear it. It does you great credit. I hope none were envious
of your success.”

“Most of the boys seemed glad of it,” was the reply; “but John Haynes
was angry because he didn’t get it himself. He declared that I succeeded
only because I was a favorite with Mr. Rathburn.”

“I am afraid he has not an amiable disposition. However, we must
remember that his home influences haven’t been the best. His mother’s
death was unfortunate for him.”

“I heard at the store that you and Squire Haynes had a discussion at the
war meeting,” said Frank inquiringly. “How was it, father?”

“It was on the question of voting a bounty to our volunteers. I felt
that such a course would be only just. The squire objected on the ground
that our taxes would be considerably increased.”

“And how did the town vote?”

“They sustained my proposition, much to the squire’s indignation. He
doesn’t seem to feel that any sacrifices ought to be expected of him.”

“What is the prospect of obtaining the men, father?”

“Four have already enlisted, but twenty-one are still required. I fear
there will be some difficulty in obtaining the full number. In a farming
town like ours the young men are apt to go off to other places as soon
as they are old enough; so that the lot must fall upon some who have
families.”

Frank sat for some minutes gazing thoughtfully into the wood-fire that
crackled in the fireplace.

“I wish I was old enough to go, father,” he said, at length.

“I wish you were,” said his father earnestly. “Not that it wouldn’t
be hard to send you out into the midst of perils; but our duty to our
country ought to be paramount to our personal preferences.”

“There’s another reason,” he said, after awhile, “why I wish you were
older. You could take my place on the farm, and leave me free to enlist.
I should have no hesitation in going. I have not forgotten that my
grandfather fought at Bunker Hill.”

“I know, father,” said Frank, nodding; “and that’s his musket that hangs
up in your room, isn’t it?”

“Yes; it was his faithful companion for three years. I often think with
pride of his services. I have been trying to think all day whether
I couldn’t make some arrangement to have the farm carried on in
my absence; but it is very hard to obtain a person in whom I could
confide.”

“If I were as good a manager as some,” said Mrs. Frost, with a smile,
“I would offer to be your farmer; but I am afraid that, though my
intentions would be the best, things would go on badly under my
administration.”

“You have enough to do in the house, Mary,” said her husband. “I should
not wish you to undertake the additional responsibility, even if you
were thoroughly competent. I am afraid I shall have to give up the idea
of going.”

Mr. Frost took up the evening paper. Frank continued to look
thoughtfully into the fire, as if revolving something in his mind.
Finally he rose, and lighting a candle went up to bed. But he did not
go to sleep for some time. A plan had occurred to him, and he was
considering its feasibility.

“I think I could do it,” he said, at last, turning over and composing
himself to sleep. “I’ll speak to father the first thing to-morrow
morning.”



CHAPTER IV. FRANK MAKES A PROPOSITION

When Frank woke the next morning the sun was shining into his window.
He rubbed his eyes and tried to think what it was that occupied his mind
the night before. It came to him in a moment, and jumping out of bed, he
dressed himself with unusual expedition.

Hurrying down-stairs, he found his mother in the kitchen, busily engaged
in getting breakfast.

“Where’s father?” he asked.

“He hasn’t come in from the barn yet, Frank,” his mother answered. “You
can have your breakfast now, if you are in a hurry to get to studying.”

“Never mind, just now, mother,” returned Frank. “I want to speak to
father about something.”

Taking his cap from the nail in the entry where it usually hung, Frank
went out to the barn. He found that his father was nearly through
milking.

“Is breakfast ready?” asked Mr. Frost, looking up. “Tell your mother she
needn’t wait for me.”

“It isn’t ready yet,” said Frank. “I came out because I want to speak to
you about something very particular.”

“Very well, Frank, Go on.”

“But if you don’t think it a good plan, or think that I am foolish in
speaking of it, don’t say anything to anybody.”

Mr. Frost looked at Frank in some little curiosity.

“Perhaps,” he said, smiling, “like our neighbor Holman, you have formed
a plan for bringing the war to a close.”

Frank laughed. “I am not quite so presumptuous,” he said. “You remember
saying last night, that if I were old enough to take charge of the farm,
you would have no hesitation in volunteering?”

“Yes.”

“Don’t you think I am old enough?” asked Frank eagerly.

“Why, you are only fifteen, Frank,” returned his father, in surprise.

“I know it, but I am strong enough to do considerable work.”

“It isn’t so much that which is required. A man could easily be found
to do the hardest of the work. But somebody is needed who understands
farming, and is qualified to give directions. How much do you know of
that?”

“Not much at present,” answered Frank modestly, “but I think I could
learn easily. Besides, there’s Mr. Maynard, who is a good farmer, could
advise me whenever I was in doubt, and you could write home directions
in your letters.”

“That is true,” said Mr. Frost thoughtfully. “I will promise to give it
careful consideration. But have you thought that you will be obliged to
give up attending school.”

“Yes, father.”

“And, of course, that will put you back; your class-mates will get in
advance of you.”

“I have thought of that, father, and I shall be very sorry for it. But I
think that is one reason why I desire the plan.”

“I don’t understand you, Frank,” said his father, a little puzzled.

“You see, father, it would require a sacrifice on my part, and I should
feel glad to think I had an opportunity of making a sacrifice for the
sake of my country.”

“That’s the right spirit, Frank,” said his father approvingly. “That’s
the way my grandfather felt and acted, and it’s the way I like to see my
son feel. So it would be a great sacrifice to me to leave you all.”

“And to us to be parted from you, father,” said Frank.

“I have no doubt of it, my dear boy,” said his father kindly. “We have
always been a happy and united family, and, please God, we always shall
be. But this plan of yours requires consideration. I will talk it over
with your mother and Mr. Maynard, and will then come to a decision.”

“I was afraid you would laugh at me,” said Frank.

“No,” said his father, “it was a noble thought, and does you credit. I
shall feel that, whatever course I may think it wisest to adopt.”

The sound of a bell from the house reached them. This meant breakfast.
Mr. Frost had finished milking, and with a well-filled pail in either
hand, went toward the house.

“Move the milking:-stool, Frank,” he said, looking behind him, “or the
cow will kick it over.”

Five minutes later they were at breakfast.

“I have some news for you, Mary,” said Mr. Frost, as he helped his wife
to a sausage.

“Indeed?” said she, looking up inquiringly.

“Some one has offered to take charge of the farm for me, in case I wish
to go out as a soldier.”

“Who is it?” asked Mrs. Frost, with strong interest.

“A gentleman with whom you are well--I may say intimately acquainted,”
 was the smiling response.

“It isn’t Mr. Maynard?”

“No. It is some one that lives nearer than he.”

“How can that be? He is our nearest neighbor.”

“Then you can’t guess?”

“No. I am quite mystified.”

“Suppose I should say that it is your oldest son?”

“What, Frank?” exclaimed Mrs. Frost, turning from her husband to her
son, whose flushed face indicated how anxious he was about his mother’s
favorable opinion.

“You have hit it.”

“You were not in earnest, Frank?” said Mrs. Frost inquiringly.

“Ask father.”

“I think he was. He certainly appeared to be.”

“But what does Frank know about farming?”

“I asked him that question myself. He admitted that he didn’t know much
at present, but thought that, with Mr. Maynard’s advice, he might get
along.”

Mrs. Frost was silent a moment. “It will be a great undertaking,” she
said, at last; “but if you think you can trust Frank, I will do all
I can to help him. I can’t bear to think of having you go, yet I am
conscious that this is a feeling which I have no right to indulge at the
expense of my country.”

“Yes,” said her husband seriously. “I feel that I owe my country a
service which I have no right to delegate to another, as long as I am
able to discharge it myself. I shall reflect seriously upon Frank’s
proposition.”

There was no more said at this time. Both Frank and his parents felt
that it was a serious matter, and not to be hastily decided.

After breakfast Frank went up-stairs, and before studying his Latin
lesson, read over thoughtfully the following passage in his prize essay
on “The Duties of American Boys at the Present Crisis:”

“Now that so large a number of our citizens have been withdrawn from
their families and their ordinary business to engage in putting down
this Rebellion, it becomes the duty of the boys to take their places as
far as they are able to do so. A boy cannot wholly supply the place of a
man, but he can do so in part. And where he is not called on to do this,
he can so conduct himself that his friends who are absent may feel at
ease about him. He ought to feel willing to give up some pleasures, if
by so doing he can help to supply the places of those who are gone.
If he does this voluntarily, and in the right spirit, he is just as
patriotic as if he were a soldier in the field.”

“I didn’t think,” thought Frank, “when I wrote this, how soon my words
would come back to me. It isn’t much to write the words. The thing is
to stand by them. If father should decide to go, I will do my best, and
then, when the Rebellion is over, I shall feel that I did something,
even if It wasn’t much, toward putting it down.”

Frank put his essay carefully away in a bureau drawer in which he kept
his clothes, and, spreading open his Latin lexicon, proceeded to prepare
his lesson in the third book of Virgil’s Aeneid.



CHAPTER V. MR. RATHBURN MAKES A SPEECH

Frank’s seat in the schoolroom was directly in front of that occupied by
John Haynes. Until the announcement of the prize John and he had been on
friendly terms. They belonged to the same class in Latin, and Frank had
often helped his classmate through a difficult passage which he had not
the patience to construe for himself. Now, however, a coolness grew up
between them, originating with John. He felt envious of Frank’s success;
and this feeling brought with it a certain bitterness which found
gratification in anything which he had reason to suppose would annoy
Frank.

On the morning succeeding the distribution of the prizes, Frank arrived
at the schoolhouse a few minutes before the bell rang. John, with half a
dozen other boys, stood near the door.

John took off his hat with mock deference. “Make way for the great prize
essayist, gentlemen!” he said. “The modern Macaulay is approaching.”

Frank colored with annoyance. John did not fail to notice this with
pleasure. He was sorry, however, that none of the other boys seemed
inclined to join in the demonstration. In fact, they liked Frank much
the better of the two.

“That isn’t quite fair, John,” said Frank, in a low voice.

“I am always glad to pay my homage to distinguished talent,” John
proceeded, in the same tone. “I feel how presumptuous I was in venturing
to compete with a gentleman of such genius!”

“Do you mean to insult me?” asked Frank, growing angry.

“Oh, dear, no! I am only expressing my high opinion of your talents!”

“Let him alone, John!” said Dick Jones, “It isn’t his fault that the
teacher awarded the prize to him instead of you.”

“I hope you don’t think I care for that!” said John, snapping his
fingers. “He’s welcome to his rubbishing books; they don’t amount to
much, anyway. I don’t believe they cost more than two dollars at the
most. If you’d like to see what I got for my essay, I’ll show you.”

John pulled out his portemonnaie, and unrolled three new and crisp
bank-notes of ten dollars each.

“I think that’s pretty good pay,” he said, looking about him
triumphantly. “I don’t care how many prizes Rathburn chooses to give his
favorite. I rather think I can get along without them.”

John’s face was turned toward the door, otherwise he would have observed
the approach of the teacher, and spoken with more caution. But it was
too late. The words had been spoken above his ordinary voice, and were
distinctly heard by the teacher. He looked sharply at John Haynes, whose
glance fell before his, but without a word passed into the schoolroom.

“See if you don’t get a blowing-up, John,” said Dick Jones.

“What do I care!” said John, but in a tone too subdued to be heard by
any one else. “It won’t do Rathburn any harm to hear the truth for once
in his life.”

“Well, I’m glad I’m not in your place, that’s all!” replied Dick.

“You’re easily frightened!” rejoined John, with a sneer.

Nevertheless, as he entered the schoolroom, and walked with assumed
bravado to his seat in the back part of the room, he did not feel quite
so comfortable as he strove to appear. As he glanced stealthily at the
face of the teacher, who looked unusually stern and grave, he could not
help thinking, “I wonder whether he will say anything about it.”

Mr. Rathburn commenced in the usual manner; but after the devotional
exercises were over, he paused, and, after a brief silence, during which
those who had heard John’s words listened with earnest attention, spoke
as follows:

“As I approached the schoolroom this morning I chanced to catch some
words which I presume were not intended for my ear. If I remember
rightly they were, ‘I don’t care how many prizes Rathburn gives his
favorite!’ There were several that heard them, so that I can be
easily corrected if I have made any mistake. Now I will not affect
to misunderstand the charge conveyed by these words. I am accused of
assigning the prizes, or at least, one of them, yesterday, not with
strict regard to the merit of the essays presented, but under the
influence of partiality. If this is the real feeling of the speaker, I
can only say that I am sorry he should have so low an opinion of me.
I do not believe the scholars generally entertain any such suspicion.
Though I may err in judgment, I think that most of you will not charge
me with anything more serious. If you ask me whether a teacher has
favorites, I say that he cannot help having them. He cannot help making
a difference between the studious on the one hand, and the indolent and
neglectful on the other. But in a matter like this I ask you to believe
me when I say that no consideration except that of merit is permitted to
weigh. The boy who made this charge is one of my most advanced scholars,
and has no reason to believe that he would be treated with unfairness.
I do not choose to say any more on this subject, except that I have
decided to offer two similar prizes for the two best compositions
submitted within the next four weeks. I shall assign them to the best of
my judgment, without regard to the scholarship of the writer.”

Mr. Rathburn spoke in a quiet, dignified manner, which convinced all
who heard him of his fairness. I say all, because even John Haynes was
persuaded against his own will, though he did not choose to acknowledge
it. He had a dogged obstinacy which would not allow him to retract what
he had once said. There was an unpleasant sneer on his face while the
teacher was speaking, which he did not attempt to conceal.

“The class in Virgil,” called Mr. Rathburn.

This class consisted of Frank Frost, John Haynes, and Henry Tufts. John
rose slowly from his seat, and advanced to the usual place, taking care
to stand as far from Frank as possible.

“You may commence, John,” said the teacher.

It was unfortunate for John that he had been occupied, first, by
thoughts of his rejected essay, and afterward by thoughts of the boat
which he proposed to buy with the thirty dollars of which he had become
possessed, so that he had found very little time to devote to his Latin.
Had he been on good terms with Frank, he would have asked him to read
over the lesson, which, as he was naturally quick, would have enabled
him to get off passably. But, of course, under the circumstances, this
was not to be thought of. So he stumbled through two or three sentences,
in an embarrassed manner. Mr. Rathburn at first helped him along.
Finding, however, that he knew little or nothing of the lesson, he
quietly requested Frank to read, saying, “You don’t seem so well
prepared as usual, John.”

Frank translated fluently and well, his recitation forming a very
favorable contrast to the slipshod attempt of John. This John, in a
spirit of unreasonableness, magnified into a grave offense, and a desire
to “show off” at his expense.

“Trying to shine at my expense,” he muttered. “Well, let him! Two or
three years hence, when I am in college, perhaps things may be a little
different.”

Frank noticed his repellent look, and it made him feel uncomfortable. He
was a warm-hearted boy, and wanted to be on good terms with everybody.
Still, he could not help feeling that in the present instance he had
nothing to reproach himself with.

John went back to his seat feeling an increased irritation against
Frank. He could not help seeing that he was more popular with his
schoolmates than himself, and, of course, this, too, he considered a
just cause of offense against him.

While he was considering in what way he could slight Frank, the thought
of the boat he was about to purchase entered his mind. He brightened up
at once, for this suggested something. He knew how much boys like going
out upon the water. At present there was no boat on the pond. His would
hold six or eight boys readily. He would invite some of the oldest boys
to accompany him on his first trip, carefully omitting Frank Frost. The
slight would be still more pointed because Frank was his classmate.

When the bell rang for recess he lost no time in carrying out the scheme
he had thought of.

“Dick,” he called out to Dick Jones, “I am expecting my boat up from
Boston next Tuesday, and I mean to go out in her Wednesday afternoon.
Wouldn’t you like to go with me?”

“With all the pleasure in life,” said Dick, “and thank you for the
invitation.”

“How many will she hold?”

“Eight or ten, I expect. Bob Ingalls, would you like to go, too?”

The invitation was eagerly accepted. John next approached Henry Tufts,
who was speaking with Frank Frost.

Without even looking at the latter, he asked Henry if he would like to
go.

“Very much,” was the reply.

“Then I will expect you,” he said. He turned on his heel and walked off
without taking any notice of Frank.

Frank blushed in spite of himself.

“Don’t he mean to invite you?” asked Henry, in surprise.

“It appears not,” said Frank.

“It’s mean in him, then,” exclaimed Henry; “I declare, I’ve a great mind
not to go.”

“I hope you will go,” said Frank hastily. “You will enjoy it. Promise me
you will go.”

“Would you really prefer to have me?”

“I should be very sorry if you didn’t.”

“Then I’ll go; but I think he’s mean in not asking you, for all that.”



CHAPTER VI. MR. FROST MAKES UP HIS MIND

“Well, Frank,” said his father at supper-time, “I’ve been speaking to
Mr. Maynard this afternoon about your plan.”

“What did he say?” asked Frank, dropping his knife and fork in his
eagerness.

“After he had thought a little, he spoke of it favorably. He said that,
being too old to go himself, he should be glad to do anything in his
power to facilitate my going, if I thought it my duty to do so.”

“Didn’t he think Frank rather young for such an undertaking?” asked Mrs.
Frost doubtfully.

“Yes, he did; but still he thought with proper advice and competent
assistance he might get along. For the first, he can depend upon Mr.
Maynard and myself; as for the second, Mr. Maynard suggested a good man,
who is seeking a situation as farm laborer.”

“Is it anybody in this town?” asked Frank.

“No, it is a man from Brandon, named Jacob Carter. Mr. Maynard says he
is honest, industrious, and used to working on a farm. I shall write to
him this evening.”

“Then you have decided to go!” exclaimed Frank and his mother in
concert.

“It will depend in part upon the answer I receive from this man Carter.
I shall feel if he agrees to come, that I can go with less anxiety.”

“How we shall miss you!” said his wife, in a subdued tone.

“And I shall miss you quite as much. It will be a considerable sacrifice
for all of us. But when my country has need of me, you will feel that
I cannot honorably stay at home. As for Frank, he may regard me as his
substitute.”

“My substitute!” repeated Frank, in a questioning tone.

“Yes, since but for you, taking charge of the farm in my absence, I
should not feel that I could go.”

Frank looked pleased. It made him feel that he was really of some
importance. Boys, unless they are incorrigibly idle, are glad to be
placed in posts of responsibility. Frank, though very modest, felt
within himself unused powers and undeveloped capacities, which he knew
must be called out by the unusual circumstances in which he would be
placed. The thought, too, that he would be serving his country, even at
home, filled him with satisfaction.

After a pause, Mr. Frost said: “There is one point on which I still have
some doubts. As you are all equally interested with myself, I think it
proper to ask your opinion, and shall abide by your decision.”

Frank and his mother listened with earnest attention.

“You are aware that the town has decided to give a bounty of one hundred
and fifty dollars to such as may volunteer toward filling the quota.
You may remember, also, that although the town passed the vote almost
unanimously, it was my proposition, and supported by a speech of mine.”

“Squire Haynes opposed it, I think you said, father.”

“Yes, and intimated that I urged the matter from interested motives. He
said he presumed I intended to enlist.”

“As if that sum would pay a man for leaving his home and incurring the
terrible risks of war!” exclaimed Mrs. Frost, looking indignant.

“Very likely he did not believe it himself; but he was irritated with
me, and it is his habit to impute unworthy motives to those with whom
he differs. Aside from this, however, I shall feel some delicacy in
availing myself of a bounty which I was instrumental in persuading the
town to vote. Though I feel that I should be perfectly justified in so
doing, I confess that I am anxious not to put myself in such a position
as to hazard any loss of good opinion on the part of my friends in
town.”

“Then don’t take it,” said Mrs. Frost promptly.

“That’s what I say, too, father,” chimed in Frank.

“Don’t decide too hastily,” said Mr. Frost. “Remember that in our
circumstances this amount of money would be very useful. Although Frank
will do as well as any boy of his age, I do not expect him to make the
farm as profitable as I should do, partly on account of my experience
being greater, and partly because I should be able to accomplish more
work than he. One hundred and fifty dollars would procure many little
comforts which otherwise you may have to do without.”

“I know that,” said Mrs. Frost quickly. “But do you think I should
enjoy them, if there were reports circulated, however unjustly, to your
prejudice? Besides, I shall know that the comforts at the camp must be
fewer than you would enjoy at home. We shall not wish to fare so much
better than you.”

“Do you think with your mother, Frank?” asked Mr. Frost.

“I think mother is right,” said Frank, proud of having his opinion
asked. He was secretly determined, in spite of what his father had said,
to see if he could not make the farm as profitable as it would be under
his father’s management.

Mr. Frost seemed relieved by his wife’s expression of opinion. “Then,”
 said he, “I will accept your decision as final. I felt that it should be
you, and not myself, who should decide it. Now my mind will be at ease,
so far as that goes.”

“You will not enlist at once, father?” asked Frank.

“Not for three or four weeks. I shall wish to give you some special
instructions before I go, so that your task may be easier.”

“Hadn’t I better leave school at once?”

“You may finish this week out. However, I may as well begin my
instructions without delay. I believe you have never learned to milk.”

“No, sir.”

“Probably Carter will undertake that. Still, it will be desirable that
you should know how, in case he gets sick. You may come out with me
after supper and take your first lesson.”

Frank ran for his hat with alacrity. This seemed like beginning in
earnest. He accompanied his father to the barn, and looked with new
interest at the four cows constituting his father’s stock.

“I think we will begin with this one,” said his father, pointing to a
red-and-white heifer. “She is better-natured than the others, and, as I
dare say your fingers will bungle a little at first, that is a point to
be considered.”

If any of my boy readers has ever undertaken the task of milking for the
first time, he will appreciate Frank’s difficulties. When he had seen
his father milking, it seemed to him extremely easy. The milk poured out
in rich streams, almost without an effort. But under his inexperienced
fingers none came. He tugged away manfully, but with no result.

“I guess the cow’s dry,” said he at last, looking up in his father’s
face.

Mr. Frost in reply drew out a copious stream.

“I did the same as you,” said Frank, mystified, “and none came.”

“You didn’t take hold right,” said his father, “and you pressed at the
wrong time. Let me show you.”

Before the first lesson was over Frank had advanced a little in the art
of milking, and it may as well be said here that in the course of a week
or so he became a fair proficient, so that his father even allowed him
to try Vixen, a cow who had received this name from the uncertainty of
her temper. She had more than once upset the pail with a spiteful kick
when it was nearly full. One morning she upset not only the pail, but
Frank, who looked foolish enough as he got up covered with milk.

Frank also commenced reading the Plowman, a weekly agricultural paper
which his father had taken for years. Until now he had confined his
readings in it to the selected story on the fourth page. Now, with an
object in view, he read carefully other parts of the paper. He did this
not merely in the first flush of enthusiasm, but with the steady purpose
of qualifying himself to take his father’s place.

“Frank is an uncommon boy,” said Mr. Frost to his wife, not without
feelings of pride, one night, when our hero had retired to bed. “I would
trust him with the farm sooner than many who are half a dozen years
older.”



CHAPTER VII. LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON

“Well, father, I’ve got some news for you,” said John Haynes, as he
entered his father’s presence, two or three days later.

“What is it, John?” inquired the squire, laying down a copy of the New
York Herald, which he had been reading.

“Who do you think has enlisted?”

“I do not choose to guess,” said his father coldly. “If you feel
disposed to tell me, you may do so.”

John looked somewhat offended at his father’s tone, but he was anxious
to tell the news. “Frost’s going to enlist,” he said shortly.

“Indeed!” said the squire, with interest. “How did you hear?”

“I heard him say so himself, just now, in the store.”

“I expected it,” said Squire Haynes, with a sneer. “I understood his
motives perfectly in urging the town to pay an enormous bounty to
volunteers. He meant to line his own pockets at the public expense.”

“He says that he doesn’t mean to accept the bounty,” continued John, in
a tone which indicated a doubt whether Mr. Frost was in earnest.

“Did you hear him say that?” asked Squire Haynes abruptly.

“Yes, I heard him say so to Mr. Morse.”

“Perhaps he means it, and perhaps he doesn’t. If he don’t take it, it is
because he is afraid of public opinion. What’s he going to do about the
farm, while he is gone?”

“That is the strangest part of it,” said John. “I don’t believe you
could guess who is to be left in charge of it.”

“I don’t choose to guess. If you know, speak out.”

John bit his lip resentfully.

“It’s that conceited jackanapes of his--Frank Frost.”

“Do you mean that he is going to leave that boy to carry on the farm?”
 demanded Squire Haynes, in surprise.

“Yes.”

“Well, all I can say is that he’s more of a fool than I took him to be.”

“Oh, he thinks everything of Frank,” said John bitterly. “He’ll be
nominating him for representative next.”

The squire winced a little. He had been ambitious to represent the town
in the legislature, and after considerable wire-pulling had succeeded
in obtaining the nomination the year previous. But it is one thing to
be nominated and another to be elected. So the squire had found, to his
cost. He had barely obtained fifty votes, while his opponent had been
elected by a vote of a hundred and fifty. All allusions, therefore,
recalling his mortifying defeat were disagreeable to him.

“On the whole, I don’t know but I’m satisfied,” he said, recurring to
the intelligence John had brought. “So far as I am concerned, I am glad
he has made choice of this boy.”

“You don’t think he is competent?” asked John, in surprise.

“For that very reason I am glad he has been selected,” said the squire
emphatically. “I take it for granted that the farm will be mismanaged,
and become a bill of expense, instead of a source of revenue. It’s
pretty certain that Frost won’t be able to pay the mortgage when it
comes due. I can bid off the farm for a small sum additional and make a
capital bargain. It will make a very good place for you to settle down
upon, John.”

“Me!” said John disdainfully. “You don’t expect me to become a plodding
farmer, I trust. I’ve got talent for something better than that, I
should hope.”

“No,” said the squire, “I have other news for you. Still, you could hire
a farmer to carry it on for you, and live out there in the summer.”

“Well, perhaps that would do,” said John, thinking that it would sound
well for him, even if he lived in the city, to have a place in the
country. “When does the mortgage come due, father?”

“I don’t remember the exact date. I’ll look and see.”

The squire drew from a closet a box hooped with iron, and evidently made
for security. This was his strong-box, and in this he kept his bonds,
mortgages, and other securities.

He selected a document tied with red ribbon, and examined it briefly.

“I shall have the right to foreclose the mortgage on the first of next
July,” he said.

“I hope you will do it then. I should like to see them Frosts humbled.”

“THEM Frosts! Don’t you know anything more about English grammar, John?”

“Those Frosts, then. Of course, I know; but a feller can’t always be
watching his words.”

“I desire you never again to use the low word ‘feller,’” said the
squire, who, as the reader will see, was more particular about
grammatical accuracy than about some other things which might be
naturally supposed to be of higher importance.

“Well,” said John sulkily, “anything you choose.”

“As to the mortgage,” proceeded Squire Haynes, “I have no idea they will
be able to lift it. I feel certain that Frost won’t himself have the
money at command, and I sha’n’t give him any grace, or consent to a
renewal. He may be pretty sure of that.”

“Perhaps he’ll find somebody to lend him the money.”

“I think not. There are those who would be willing, but I question
whether there is any such who could raise the money at a moment’s
warning. By the way, you need not mention my purpose in this matter to
any one. If it should leak out, Mr. Frost might hear of it, and prepare
for it.”

“You may trust me for that, father,” said John, very decidedly; “I
want to see Frank Frost’s proud spirit humbled. Perhaps he’ll feel like
putting on airs after that.”

From the conversation which has just been chronicled it will be
perceived that John was a worthy son of his father; and, though wanting
in affection and cordial good feeling, that both were prepared to join
hands in devising mischief to poor Frank and his family. Let us hope
that the intentions of the wicked may be frustrated.



CHAPTER VIII. DISCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGED

In a small village like Rossville news flies fast. Even the distinctions
of social life do not hinder an interest being felt in the affairs of
each individual. Hence it was that Mr. Frost’s determination to enlist
became speedily known, and various were the comments made upon his plan
of leaving Frank in charge of the farm. That they were not all favorable
may be readily believed. Country people are apt to criticize the
proceedings of their neighbors with a greater degree of freedom than is
common elsewhere.

As Frank was on his way to school on Saturday morning, his name was
called by Mrs. Roxana Mason, who stood in the doorway of a small yellow
house fronting on the main street.

“Good morning, Mrs. Mason,” said Frank politely, advancing to the gate
in answer to her call.

“Is it true what I’ve heard about your father’s going to the war, Frank
Frost?” she commenced.

“Yes, Mrs. Mason; he feels it his duty to go.”

“And what’s to become of the farm? Anybody hired it?”

“I am going to take charge of it,” said Frank modestly.

“You!” exclaimed Mrs. Roxana, lifting both hands in amazement; “why,
you’re nothing but a baby!”

“I’m a baby of fifteen,” said Frank good-humoredly, though his courage
was a little dampened by her tone.

“What do you know about farming?” inquired the lady, in a contemptuous
manner. “Your father must be crazy!”

“I shall do my best, Mrs. Mason,” said Frank quietly, but with
heightened color. “My father is willing to trust me; and as I shall have
Mr. Maynard to look to for advice, I think I can get along.”

“The idea of putting a boy like you over a farm!” returned Mrs. Roxana,
in an uncompromising tone. “I did think your father had more sense.
It’s the most shiftless thing I ever knew him to do. How does your poor
mother feel about it?”

“She doesn’t seem as much disturbed about it as you do, Mrs. Mason,”
 said Frank, rather impatiently; for he felt that Mrs. Mason had no right
to interfere in his father’s arrangements.

“Well, well, we’ll see!” said Mrs. Roxana, shaking her head
significantly. “If you’ll look in your Bible, you’ll read about ‘the
haughty spirit that goes before a fall.’ I’m sure I wish you well
enough. I hope that things’ll turn out better’n they’re like to. Tell
your mother I’ll come over before long and talk with her about it.”

Frank inwardly hoped that Mrs. Roxana wouldn’t put herself to any
trouble to call, but politeness taught him to be silent.

Leaving Mrs. Mason’s gate, he kept on his way to school, but had hardly
gone half a dozen rods before he met an old lady, whose benevolent face
indicated a very different disposition from that of the lady he had just
parted with.

“Good morning, Mrs. Chester,” said Frank cordially, recognizing one of
his mother’s oldest friends.

“Good morning, my dear boy,” was the reply. “I hear your father is going
to the war.”

“Yes,” said Frank, a little nervously, not knowing but Mrs. Chester
would view the matter in the same way as Mrs. Mason, though he felt sure
she would express herself less disagreeably.

“And I hear that you are going to try to make his place good at home.”

“I don’t expect to make his place good, Mrs. Chester,” said Frank
modestly, “but I shall do as well as I can.”

“I have no doubt of it, my dear boy,” said the old lady kindly. “You can
do a great deal, too. You can help your mother by looking out for your
brothers and sisters, as well as supplying your father’s place on the
farm.”

“I am glad you think I can make myself useful,” said Frank, feeling
relieved. “Mrs. Mason has just been telling me that I am not fit for the
charge, and that discouraged me a little.”

“It’s a great responsibility, no doubt, to come on one so young,” said
the old lady, “but it’s of God’s appointment. He will strengthen your
hands, if you will only ask Him. If you humbly seek His guidance and
assistance, you need not fear to fail.”

“Yes,” said Frank soberly, “that’s what I mean to do.”

“Then you will feel that you are in the path of duty. You’ll be serving
your country just as much as if you went yourself.”

“That’s just the way I feel, Mrs. Chester,” exclaimed Frank eagerly. “I
want to do something for my country.”

“You remind me of my oldest brother,” said the old lady thoughtfully.
“He was left pretty much as you are. It was about the middle of the
Revolutionary war, and the army needed recruits. My father hesitated,
for he had a small family depending on him for support. I was only two
years old at the time, and there were three of us. Finally my brother
James, who was just about your age, told my father that he would do all
he could to support the family, and father concluded to go. We
didn’t have a farm, for father was a carpenter. My brother worked for
neighboring farmers, receiving his pay in corn and vegetables, and
picked up what odd jobs he could. Then mother was able to do something;
so we managed after a fashion. There were times when we were brought
pretty close to the wall, but God carried us through. And by and by
father came safely home, and I don’t think he ever regretted having left
us. After awhile the good news of peace came, and he felt that he had
been abundantly repaid for all the sacrifices he had made in the good
cause.”

Frank listened to this narrative with great interest. It yielded him
no little encouragement to know that another boy, placed in similar
circumstances, had succeeded, and he just felt that he would have very
much less to contend against than the brother of whom Mrs. Chester spoke.

“Thank you for telling me about your brother Mrs. Chester,” he said. “It
makes me feel more as if things would turn out well. Won’t you come over
soon and see us? Mother is always glad to see you.”

“Thank you, Frank; I shall certainly do so. I hope I shall not make you
late to school.”

“Oh, no; I started half an hour early this morning.”

Frank had hardly left Mrs. Chester when he heard a quick step behind
him. Turning round, he perceived that it was Mr. Rathburn, his teacher.

“I hurried to come up with you, Frank,” he said, smiling. “I understand
that I am to lose you from school.”

“Yes, sir,” answered Frank. “I am very sorry to leave, for I am very
much interested in my studies; but I suppose, sir, you have heard what
calls me away.”

“Your father has made up his mind to enlist.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you are to superintend the farm in his absence?”

“Yes, sir. I hope you do not think me presumptuous in undertaking such a
responsibility?”

He looked up eagerly into Mr. Rathburn’s face, for he had a great
respect for his judgment. But he saw nothing to discourage him. On the
contrary, he read cordial sympathy and approval.

“Far from it,” answered the teacher, with emphasis. “I think you
deserving of great commendation, especially if, as I have heard, the
plan originated with you, and was by you suggested to your father.”

“Yes, sir.”

The teacher held out his hand kindly. “It was only what I should have
expected of you,” he said. “I have not forgotten your essay. I am glad
to see that you not only have right ideas of duty, but have, what is
rarer, the courage and self-denial to put them in practice.”

These words gave Frank much pleasure, and his face lighted up.

“Shall you feel obliged to give up your studies entirely?” asked his
teacher.

“I think I shall be able to study some in the evening.”

“If I can be of any assistance to you in any way, don’t hesitate to
apply. If you should find any stumbling-blocks in your lessons, I may be
able to help you over them.”

By this time they had come within sight of the schoolhouse.

“There comes the young farmer,” said John Haynes, in a tone which was
only subdued lest the teacher should hear him, for he had no disposition
to incur another public rebuke.

A few minutes later, when Frank was quietly seated at his desk, a paper
was thrown from behind, lighting upon his Virgil, which lay open before
him. There appeared to be writing upon it, and with some curiosity he
opened and read the following:

“What’s the price of turnips?”

It was quite unnecessary to inquire into the authorship. He felt
confident it was written by John Haynes. The latter, of course, intended
it as an insult, but Frank did not feel much disturbed. As long as his
conduct was approved by such persons as his teacher and Mrs. Chester, he
felt he could safely disregard the taunts and criticisms of others. He
therefore quietly let the paper drop to the floor, and kept on with his
lesson.

John Haynes perceived that he had failed in his benevolent purpose
of disturbing Frank’s tranquillity, and this, I am sorry to say, only
increased the dislike he felt for him. Nothing is so unreasonable as
anger, nothing so hard to appease. John even felt disposed to regard as
an insult the disposition which Frank had made of his insulting query.

“The young clodhopper’s on his dignity,” he muttered to himself. “Well,
wait a few months, and see if he won’t sing a different tune.”

Just then John’s class was called up, and his dislike to Frank was not
diminished by the superiority of his recitation. The latter, undisturbed
by John’s feelings, did not give a thought to him, but reflected with a
touch of pain that this must be his last Latin recitation in school for
a long time to come.



CHAPTER IX. THE LAST EVENING AT HOME

Three weeks passed quickly. October had already reached its middle
point. The glory of the Indian summer was close at hand. Too quickly
the days fled for the little family at the farm, for they knew that each
brought nearer the parting of which they could not bear to think.

Jacob Carter, who had been sent for to do the heavy work on the farm,
had arrived. He was a man of forty, stout and able to work, but had
enjoyed few opportunities of cultivating his mind. Though a faithful
laborer, he was destitute of the energy and ambition which might ere
this have placed him in charge of a farm of his own. In New England few
arrive at his age without achieving some position more desirable and
independent than that of farm laborer. However, he looked pleasant and
good-natured, and Mr. Frost accounted himself fortunate in securing his
services.

The harvest had been got in, and during the winter months there would
not be so much to do as before. Jacob, therefore, “hired out” for a
smaller compensation, to be increased when the spring work came in.

Frank had not been idle. He had accompanied his father about the farm,
and received as much practical instruction in the art of farming as
the time would admit. He was naturally a quick learner, and now felt
impelled by a double motive to prepare himself as well as possible to
assume his new responsibilities. His first motive was, of course, to
make up his father’s loss to the family, as far as it was possible for
him to do so, but he was also desirous of showing Mrs. Roxana Mason and
other ill-boding prophets that they had underrated his abilities.

The time came when Mr. Frost felt that he must leave his family. He had
enlisted from preference in an old regiment, already in Virginia, some
members of which had gone from Rossville. A number of recruits were to
be forwarded to the camp on a certain day, and that day was now close at
hand.

Let me introduce the reader to the farmhouse on the last evening for
many months when they would be able to be together. They were all
assembled about the fireplace. Mr. Frost sat in an armchair, holding
Charlie in his lap--the privileged place of the youngest. Alice,
with the air of a young woman, sat demurely by her father’s side on a
cricket, while Maggie stood beside him, with one hand resting on his
knee. Frank sat quietly beside his mother, as if already occupying the
place which he was in future to hold as her counselor and protector.

Frank and his mother looked sober. They had not realized fully until
this evening what it would be to part with the husband and father--how
constantly they would miss him at the family meal and in the evening
circle. Then there was the dreadful uncertainty of war. He might never
return, or, if spared for that, it might be with broken constitution or
the loss of a limb.

“If it hadn’t been for me,” Frank could not help thinking, “father would
not now be going away. He would have stayed at home, and I could still
go to school. It would have made a great difference to us, and the loss
of one man could not affect the general result.”

A moment after his conscience rebuked him for harboring so selfish a
thought.

“The country needs him more even than we do,” he said to himself. “It
will be a hard trial to have him go, but it is our duty.”

“Will my little Charlie miss me when I am gone?” asked Mr. Frost of the
chubby-faced boy who sat with great, round eyes peering into the fire,
as if he were deeply engaged in thought.

“Won’t you take me with you, papa?” asked Charlie.

“What could you do if you were out there, my little boy?” asked the
father, smiling.

“I’d shoot great big rebel with my gun,” said Charlie, waxing valiant.

“Your gun’s only a wooden one,” said Maggie, with an air of superior
knowledge. “You couldn’t kill a rebel with that.”

“I’d kill ‘em some,” persisted Charlie earnestly, evidently believing
that a wooden gun differed from others not in kind, but in degree.

“But suppose the rebels should fire at you,” said Frank, amused. “What
would you do then, Charlie?”

Charlie looked into the fire thoughtfully for a moment, as if this
contingency had not presented itself to his mind until now. Suddenly
his face brightened up, and he answered. “I’d run away just as fast as I
could.”

All laughed at this, and Frank said: “But that wouldn’t be acting like a
brave soldier, Charlie. You ought to stay and make the enemy run.”

“I wouldn’t want to stay and be shooted,” said Charlie ingenuously.

“There are many older than Charlie,” said Mr. Frost, smiling, “who
would doubtless sympathize entirely with him in his objection to being
shooted, though they might not be quite so ready to make confession as
he has shown himself. I suppose you have heard the couplet:

          “‘He who fights and runs away
               May live to fight another day.’”


“Pray don’t speak about shooting,” said Mrs. Frost, with a shudder. “It
makes me feel nervous.”

“And to-night we should only admit pleasant thoughts,” said her husband.
“Who is going to write me letters when I am gone?”

“I’ll write to you, father,” said Alice.

“And so will I,” said Maggie.

“I, too,” chimed in Charlie.

“Then, if you have so many correspondents already engaged, you will
hardly want to hear from Frank and myself,” said his wife, smiling.

“The more the better. I suspect I shall find letters more welcome than
anything else. You must also send me papers regularly. I shall have many
hours that will pass heavily unless I have something to read.”

“I’ll mail you Harper’s Weekly regularly, shall I, father?” asked Frank.

“Yes, I shall be glad enough to see it. Then, there is one good thing
about papers--after enjoying them myself, I can pass them round to
others. There are many privations that I must make up my mind to, but I
shall endeavor to make camp-life as pleasant as possible to myself and
others.”

“I wish you were going out as an officer,” said Mrs. Frost. “You would
have more indulgences.”

“Very probably I should. But I don’t feel inclined to wish myself better
off than others. I am: willing to serve my country in any capacity in
which I can be of use. Thank Heaven, I am pretty strong and healthy, and
better fitted than many to encounter the fatigues and exposures which
are the lot of the private.”

“How early must you start to-morrow, father?” inquired Frank.

“By daylight. I must be in Boston by nine o’clock, and you know it is a
five-mile ride to the depot. I shall want you to carry me over.”

“Will there be room for me?” asked Mrs. Frost. “I want to see the last
of you.”

“I hope you won’t do that for a long time to come,” said Mr. Frost,
smiling.

“You know what I mean, Henry.”

“Oh, yes, there will be room. At any rate, we will make room for you.
And now it seems to me it is time for these little folks to go to bed.
Charlie finds it hard work to keep his eyes open.”

“Oh, papa, papa, not yet, not yet,” pleaded the children; and with the
thought that it might be many a long day before he saw their sweet young
faces again, the father suffered them to have their way.

After the children had gone to bed Frank and his father and mother sat
up for a long time. Each felt that there was much to be said, but no
one of them felt like saying much then. Thoughts of the approaching
separation swallowed up all others. The thought kept recurring that
to-morrow would see them many miles apart, and that many a long
to-morrow must pass before they would again be gathered around the fire.

“Frank,” said his father, at length, “I have deposited in the Brandon
Bank four hundred dollars, about half of which I have realized from
crops sold this season. This you will draw upon as you have need, for
grocery bills, to pay Jacob, etc. For present purposes I will hand you
fifty dollars, which I advise you to put under your mother’s care.”

As he finished speaking, Mr. Frost drew from his pocketbook a roll of
bills and handed them to Frank.

Frank opened his portemonnaie and deposited the money therein.

He had never before so large a sum of money in his possession, and
although he knew it was not to be spent for his own benefit--at least,
no considerable part of it--he felt a sense of importance and even
wealth in being the custodian of so much money. He felt that his
father had confidence in him, and that he was in truth going to be his
representative.

“A part of the money which I have in the bank,” continued his father,
“has been saved up toward the payment of the mortgage on the farm.”

“When does it come due, father?”

“On the first of July of next year.”

“But you won’t be prepared to meet it at that time?”

“No, but undoubtedly Squire Haynes will be willing to renew it. I always
pay the interest promptly, and he knows it is secured by the farm, and
therefore a safe investment. By the way, I had nearly forgotten to say
that there will be some interest due on the first of January. Of course,
you are authorized to pay it just as if you were myself.”

“How much will it be?”

“Twenty-four dollars--that is, six months’ interest at six per cent. on
eight hundred dollars.”

“I wish the farm were free from encumbrance,” said Frank.

“So do I; and if Providence favors me it shall be before many years are
past. But in farming one can’t expect to lay by money quite as fast as
in some other employments.”

The old clock in the corner here struck eleven.

“We mustn’t keep you up too late the last night, Henry,” said Mrs.
Frost. “You will need a good night’s sleep to carry you through
to-morrow.”

Neither of the three closed their eyes early that night. Thoughts of
the morrow were naturally in their minds. At last all was still.
Sleep--God’s beneficent messenger--wrapped their senses in oblivion, and
the cares and anxieties of the morrow were for a time forgotten.



CHAPTER X. LITTLE POMP

There was a hurried good-by at the depot.

“Kiss the children for me, Mary,” said her husband.

“You will write very soon?” pleaded Mrs. Frost.

“At the very first opportunity.”

“All aboard!” shouted the conductor.

With a shrill scream the locomotive started.

Frank and his mother stood on the platform watching the receding train
till it was quite out of sight, and then in silence our young hero
assisted his mother into the carryall and turned the horse’s head
homeward.

It was one of those quiet October mornings, when the air is soft and
balmy as if a June day had found its way by mistake into the heart of
autumn. The road wound partly through the woods. The leaves were still
green and abundant. Only one or two showed signs of the coming change,
which in the course of a few weeks must leave them bare and leafless.

“What a beautiful day!” said Frank, speaking the words almost
unconsciously.

“Beautiful indeed!” responded his mother. “On such a day as this the
world seems too lovely for war and warlike passions to be permitted to
enter it. When men might be so happy, why need they stain their hands
with each other’s blood?”

Frank was unprepared for an answer. He knew that it was his father’s
departure which led his mother to speak thus. He wished to divert her
mind, if possible.

Circumstances favored his design.

They had accomplished perhaps three-quarters of the distance home when,
as they were passing a small one-story building by the roadside, a
shriek of pain was heard, and a little black boy came running out of the
house, screaming in affright: “Mammy’s done killed herself. She’s mos’
dead!”

He ran out to the road and looked up at Mrs. Frost, as if to implore
assistance.

“That’s Chloe’s child,” said Mrs. Frost. “Stop the horse, Frank; I’ll
get out and see what has happened.”

Chloe, as Frank very well knew, was a colored woman, who until a few
months since had been a slave in Virginia. Finally she had seized a
favorable opportunity, and taking the only child which the cruel slave
system had left her, for the rest had been sold South, succeeded in
making her way into Pennsylvania. Chance had directed her to Rossville,
where she had been permitted to occupy, rent free, an old shanty which
for some years previous had been uninhabited. Here she had supported
herself by taking in washing and ironing. This had been her special work
on the plantation where she had been born and brought up, and she was
therefore quite proficient in it. She found no difficulty in obtaining
work enough to satisfy the moderate wants of herself and little Pomp.

The latter was a bright little fellow, as black as the ace of spades,
and possessing to the full the mercurial temperament of the Southern
negro. Full of fun and drollery, he attracted plenty of attention when
he came into the village, and earned many a penny from the boys by his
plantation songs and dances.

Now, however, he appeared in a mood entirely different, and it was easy
to see that he was much frightened.

“What’s the matter, Pomp?” asked Frank, as he brought his horse to a
standstill.

“Mammy done killed herself,” he repeated, wringing his hands in terror.

A moan from the interior of the house seemed to make it clear that
something had happened.

Mrs. Frost pushed the door open and entered.

Chloe had sunk down on the floor and was rocking back and forth, holding
her right foot in both hands, with an expression of acute pain on her
sable face. Beside her was a small pail, bottom upward.

Mrs. Frost was at no loss to conjecture the nature of the accident which
had befallen her. The pail had contained hot water, and its accidental
overturn had scalded poor Chloe.

“Are you much hurt, Chloe?” asked Mrs. Frost sympathizingly.

“Oh, missus, I’s most dead,” was the reply, accompanied by a groan.
“‘Spect I sha’n’t live till mornin’. Dunno what’ll become of poor Pomp
when I’se gone.”

Little Pomp squeezed his knuckles into his eyes and responded with an
unearthly howl.

“Don’t be too much frightened, Chloe,” said Mrs. Frost soothingly.
“You’ll get over it sooner than you think. How did the pail happen to
turn over?”

“Must have been de debbel, missus. I was kerryin’ it just as keerful,
when all at once it upsot.”

This explanation, though not very luminous to her visitor, appeared to
excite a fierce spirit of resentment against the pail in the mind of
little Pomp.

He suddenly rushed forward impetuously and kicked the pail with all the
force he could muster.

But, alas for poor Pomp! His feet were unprotected by shoes, and the
sudden blow hurt him much more than the pail. The consequence was a howl
of the most distressing nature.

Frank had started forward to rescue Pomp from the consequences of his
precipitancy, but too late. He picked up the little fellow and, carrying
him out, strove to soothe him.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Frost examined Chloe’s injuries. They were not so great
as she had anticipated. She learned on inquiry that the water had not
been scalding hot. There was little doubt that with proper care she
would recover from her injuries in a week or ten days. But in the
meantime it would not do to use the foot.

“What shall I do, missus?” groaned Chloe. “I ain’t got nothin’ baked up.
‘Pears like me and Pomp must starve.”

“Not so bad as that, Chloe,” said Mrs. Frost, with a reassuring smile.
“After we have you on the bed we will take Pomp home with us, and give
him enough food to last you both a couple of days. At the end of that
time, or sooner, if you get out, you can send him up again.”

Chloe expressed her gratitude warmly, and Mrs. Frost, calling in Frank’s
assistance, helped the poor woman to a comfortable position on the
bed, which fortunately was in the corner of the same room. Had it
been upstairs, the removal would have been attended with considerable
difficulty as well as pain to Chloe.

Pomp, the acuteness of whose pain had subsided, looked on with wondering
eyes while Frank and Mrs. Frost “toted” his mother onto the bed, as he
expressed it.

Chloe accepted, with wondering gratitude, the personal attentions of
Mrs. Frost, who bound up the injured foot with a softness of touch which
brought no pain to the sufferer.

“You ain’t too proud, missus, to tend to a poor black woman,” she said.
“Down Souf dey used to tell us dat everybody looked down on de poor
nigger and lef’ ‘em to starve an’ die if dey grow sick.”

“They told you a great many things that were not true, Chloe,” said Mrs.
Frost quietly. “The color of the skin ought to make no difference where
we have it in our power to render kind offices.”

“Do you believe niggers go to de same heaven wid w’ite folks, missus?”
 asked Chloe, after a pause.

“Why should they not? They were made by the same God.”

“I dunno, missus,” said Chloe. “I hopes you is right.”

“Do you think you can spare Pomp a little while to go home with us?”

“Yes, missus. Here you, Pomp,” she called, “you go home wid dis good
lady, and she’ll gib you something for your poor sick mudder. Do you
hear?”

“I’se goin’ to ride?” said Pomp inquiringly.

“Yes,” said Frank good-naturedly.

“Hi, hi, dat’s prime!” ejaculated Pomp, turning a somersault in his joy.

“Scramble in, then, and we’ll start.”

Pomp needed no second invitation. He jumped into the carriage, and was
more leisurely followed by Frank and his mother.

It was probably the first time that Pomp had ever been in a covered
carriage, and consequently the novelty of his situation put him in high
spirits.

He was anxious to drive, and Frank, to gratify him, placed the reins
in his hands. His eyes sparkling with delight, and his expanded mouth
showing a full set of ivories, Pomp shook the reins in glee, shouting
out, “Hi, go along there, you ol’ debble!”

“Pomp, you mustn’t use that word,” said Mrs. Frost reprovingly.

“What word, missus?” demanded Pomp innocently.

“The last word you used,” she answered.

“Don’t ‘member what word you mean, missus,” said Pomp. “Hi, you debble!”

“That’s the word?”

“Not say ‘debble’?” said Pomp wonderingly. “Why not, missus?”

“It isn’t a good word.”

“Mammy says ‘debble.’ She calls me little debble when I run away, and
don’t tote in de wood.”

“I shall tell her not to use it. It isn’t a good word for anybody to
use.”

“Hope you’ll tell her so, missus,” said Pomp, grinning and showing his
teeth. “Wheneber she calls me little debble she pulls off her shoe and
hits me. Hurts like de debble. Mebbe she won’t hit me if you tell her
not to say ‘debble.’”

Mrs. Frost could hardly forbear laughing. She managed, however, to
preserve a serious countenance while she said, “You must take care to
behave well, and then she won’t have to punish you.”

It is somewhat doubtful whether Pomp heard this last remark. He espied a
pig walking by the side of the road, and was seized with a desire to run
over it. Giving the reins a sudden twitch, he brought the carriage round
so that it was very near upsetting in a gully.

Frank snatched the reins in time to prevent this catastrophe.

“What did you do that for, Pomp?” he said quickly.

“Wanted to scare de pig,” exclaimed Pomp, laughing. “Wanted to hear him
squeal.”

“And so you nearly tipped us over.”

“Didn’t mean to do dat, Mass’ Frank. ‘Pears like I didn’t think.”

Mrs. Frost was too much alarmed by this narrow escape to consent to
Pomp’s driving again, and for the moment felt as if she should like to
usurp his mother’s privilege of spanking him. But the little imp looked
so unconscious of having done anything wrong that her vexation soon
passed away.

In half an hour Pomp was on his way back, laden with a basketful of
provisions for his sick mother and himself.



CHAPTER XI. PUNISHING A BULLY

It was fortunate for Mrs. Frost that she was so soon called upon to
think for others. It gave her less time to grieve over her husband’s
absence, which was naturally a severe trial to her. As for Frank, though
the harvest was gathered in, there were plenty of small jobs to occupy
his attention. He divided with Jacob the care of the cows, and was up
betimes in the morning to do his share of the milking. Then the pigs and
chickens must be fed every day, and this Frank took entirely into his
own charge. Wood, also, must be prepared for the daily wants of the
house, and this labor he shared with Jacob.

In the afternoon, however, Frank usually had two or three hours at his
own disposal, and this, in accordance with a previous determination, he
resolved to devote to keeping up his studies. He did not expect to
make the same progress that he would have done if he had been able
to continue at school, but it was something to feel that he was not
remaining stationary.

Frank resolved to say nothing to his classmates about his private
studies. They would think he was falling far behind, and at some future
time he would surprise them.

Still, there were times when he felt the need of a teacher. He would
occasionally encounter difficulties which he found himself unable to
surmount without assistance. At such times he thought of Mr Rathburn’s
kind offer. But his old teacher lived nearly a mile distant, and he felt
averse to troubling him, knowing that his duties in school were arduous.

Occasionally he met some of his schoolmates. As nearly all of them were
friendly and well-disposed to him, this gave him pleasure, and brought
back sometimes the wish that he was as free as they. But this wish was
almost instantly checked by the thought that he had made a sacrifice for
his country’s sake.

A few days after the incident narrated in the last chapter, Frank was
out in the woods not far from Chloe’s cottage, collecting brushwood,
to be afterward carried home, when his attention was called to an
altercation, one of the parties in which he readily recognized as little
Pomp. To explain how it came about, we shall have to go back a little.

Pomp was returning from Mrs. Frost’s, swinging a tin kettle containing
provisions for his mother and himself, when all at once he met John
Haynes, who was coming from the opposite direction.

Now, John was something of a bully, and liked to exercise authority over
the boys who were small enough to render the attempt a safe one. On the
present occasion he felt in a hectoring mood.

“I’ll have some fun out of the little nigger,” he said to himself, as he
espied Pomp.

Pomp approached, swinging his pail as before, and whistling a plantation
melody.

“What have you got there, Pomp?” asked John.

“I’se got a pail,” said Pomp independently. “Don’t yer know a pail when
you see him?”

“I know an impudent little nigger when I see him,” retorted John, not
overpleased with the answer. “Come here directly, and let me see what
you’ve got in your pail.”

“I ain’t got noffin for you,” said Pomp defiantly.

“We’ll see about that,” said John. “Now, do you mean to come here or
not? I’m going to count three, and I’ll give you that time to decide.
One--two--three!”

Pomp apparently had no intention of complying with John’s request.
He had halted about three rods from him, and stood swinging his pail,
meanwhile watching John warily.

“I see you want me to come after you,” said John angrily.

He ran toward Pomp, but the little contraband dodged him adroitly, and
got on the other side of a tree.

Opposition only stimulated John to new efforts. He had become excited in
the pursuit, and had made up his mind to capture Pomp, who dodged in
and out among the trees with such quickness and dexterity that John
was foiled for a considerable time. The ardor of his pursuit and its
unexpected difficulty excited his anger. He lost sight of the fact that
Pomp was under no obligation to comply with his demand. But this is
generally the way with tyrants, who are seldom careful to keep within
the bounds of justice and reason.

“Just let me catch you, you little rascal, and I will give you the worst
licking you ever had,” John exclaimed, with passion.

“Wait till you catch me,” returned Pomp, slipping, eel-like, from his
grasp.

But Pomp, in dodging, had now come to an open space, where he was at
a disadvantage. John was close upon him, when suddenly he stood
stock-still, bending his back so as to obtain a firm footing. The
consequence was that his too ardent pursuer tumbled over him, and
stretched his length upon the ground.

Unfortunately for Pomp, John grasped his leg in falling, and held it
by so firm a grip that he was unable to get free. In the moment of his
downfall John attained his object.

“Now I’ve got you,” he said, white with passion, “and I’m going to teach
you a lesson.”

Clinging to Pomp with one hand, he drew a stout string from his
pocket with the other, and secured the hands of the little contraband,
notwithstanding his efforts to escape.

“Le’ me go, you debble,” he said, using a word which had grown familiar
to him on the plantation.

There was a cruel light in John’s eyes which augured little good to poor
Pomp. Suddenly, as if a new idea had struck him, he loosened the cord,
and taking the boy carried him, in spite of his kicking and screaming,
to a small tree, around which he clasped his hands, which he again
confined with cords.

He then sought out a stout stick, and divested it of twigs.

Pomp watched his preparations with terror. Too well he knew what they
meant. More than once he had seen those of his own color whipped on the
plantation. Unconsciously, he glided into the language which he would
have used there.

“Don’t whip me, Massa John,” he whimpered in terror. “For the lub of
Heaven, lef me be. I ain’t done noffin’ to you.”

“You’d better have thought of that before,” said John, his eyes blazing
anew with vengeful light. “If I whip you, you little black rascal, it’s
only because you richly deserve it.”

“I’ll nebber do so again,” pleaded Pomp, rolling his eyes in terror.
Though what it was he promised not to do the poor little fellow would
have found it hard to tell.

It would have been as easy to soften the heart of a nether millstone as
that of John Haynes.

By the time he had completed his preparations, and whirled his stick in
the air preparatory to bringing it down with full force on Pomp’s back,
rapid steps were heard, and a voice asked, “What are you doing there,
John Haynes?”

John looked round, and saw standing near him Frank Frost, whose
attention had been excited by what he had heard of Pomp’s cries.

“Save me, save me, Mass’ Frank,” pleaded poor little Pomp.

“What has he tied you up there for, Pomp?”

“It’s none of your business, Frank Frost,” said John passionately.

“I think it’s some of my business,” said Frank coolly, “when I find you
playing the part of a Southern overseer. You are not in Richmond, John
Haynes, and you’ll get into trouble if you undertake to act as if you
were.”

“If you say much more, I’ll flog you too!” screamed John, beside himself
with excitement and rage.

Frank had not a particle of cowardice in his composition. He was not
fond of fighting, but he felt that circumstances made it necessary for
him to do so now. He did not easily lose his temper, and this at present
gave him the advantage over John.

“You are too excited to know what you are talking about,” he said
coolly. “Pomp, why has he tied you up?”

Pomp explained that John had tried to get his pail from him. He closed
by imploring “Mass’ Frank” to prevent John from whipping him.

“He shall not whip you, Pomp,” said Frank quietly. As he spoke he
stepped to the tree and faced John intrepidly.

John, in a moment of less passion, would not have ventured to attack a
boy so near his own size. Like all bullies, he was essentially a coward,
but now his rage got the better of his prudence.

“I’ll flog you both!” he exclaimed hoarsely, and sprang forward with
upraised stick.

Frank was about half a head shorter than John, and was more than a year
younger, but he was stout and compactly built; besides, he was cool and
collected, and this is always an advantage.

Before John realized what had happened, his stick had flown from his
hand, and he was forcibly pushed back, so that he narrowly escaped
falling to the ground.

“Gib it to him, Mass’ Frank!” shouted little Pomp. “Gib it to him!”

This increased John’s exasperation. By this time he was almost foaming
at the mouth.

“I’ll kill you, Frank Frost,” he exclaimed, this time rushing at him
without a stick.

Frank had been in the habit of wrestling for sport with the boys of his
own size. In this way he had acquired a certain amount of dexterity in
“tripping up.” John, on the contrary, was unpractised. His quick temper
was so easily roused that other boys had declined engaging in friendly
contests with him, knowing that in most cases they would degenerate into
a fight.

John rushed forward, and attempted to throw Frank by the strength of his
arms alone. Frank eluded his grasp, and, getting one of his legs around
John’s, with a quick movement tripped him up. He fell heavily upon his
back.

“This is all foolish, John,” said Frank, bending over his fallen foe.
“What are you fighting for? The privilege of savagely whipping a poor
little fellow less than half your age?”

“I care more about whipping you, a cursed sight!” said John, taking
advantage of Frank’s withdrawing his pressure to spring to his feet.
“You first, and him afterward!”

Again he threw himself upon Frank; but again coolness and practice
prevailed against blind fury and untaught strength, and again he lay
prostrate.

By this time Pomp had freed himself from the string that fettered his
wrists, and danced in glee round John Haynes, in whose discomfiture he
felt great delight.

“You’d better pick up your pail and run home,” said Frank. He was
generously desirous of saving John from further humiliation. “Will you
go away quietly if I will let you up, John?” he asked.

“No, d---- you!” returned John, writhing, his face almost livid with
passion.

“I am sorry,” said Frank, “for in that case I must continue to hold you
down.”

“What is the trouble, boys?” came from an unexpected quarter.

It was Mr. Maynard, who, chancing to pass along the road, had been
attracted by the noise of the struggle.

Frank explained in a few words.

“Let him up, Frank,” said the old man. “I’ll see that he does no further
harm.”

John rose to his feet, and looked scowlingly from one to the other, as
if undecided whether he had not better attack both.

“You’ve disgraced yourself, John Haynes,” said the old farmer
scornfully. “So you would turn negro-whipper, would you? Your talents
are misapplied here at the North. Brutality isn’t respectable here, my
lad. You’d better find your way within the rebel lines, and then perhaps
you can gratify your propensity for whipping the helpless.”

“Some day I’ll be revenged on you for this,” said John, turning
wrathfully upon Frank. “Perhaps you think I don’t mean it, but the day
will come when you’ll remember what I say.”

“I wish you no harm, John,” said Frank composedly, “but I sha’n’t stand
by and see you beat a boy like Pomp.”

“No,” said the farmer sternly; “and if ever I hear of your doing it,
I’ll horsewhip you till you beg for mercy. Now go home, and carry your
disgrace with you.”

Mr. Maynard spoke contemptuously, but with decision, and pointed up the
road.

With smothered wrath John obeyed his order, because he saw that it would
not be safe to refuse.

“I’ll come up with him yet,” he muttered to himself, as he walked
quietly toward home. “If he doesn’t rue this day, my name isn’t John
Haynes.”

John did not see fit to make known the circumstances of his quarrel with
Frank, feeling, justly, that neither his design nor the result would
reflect any credit upon himself. But his wrath was none the less deep
because he brooded over it in secret. He would have renewed his attempt
upon Pomp, but there was something in Mr. Maynard’s eye which assured
him that his threat would be carried out. Frank, solicitous for the
little fellow’s safety, kept vigilant watch over him for some days, but
no violence was attempted. He hoped John had forgotten his threats.



CHAPTER XII. A LETTER FROM THE CAMP

The little family at the Frost farm looked forward with anxious
eagerness to the first letter from the absent father.

Ten days had elapsed when Frank was seen hurrying up the road with
something in his hand.

Alice saw him first, and ran in, exclaiming, “Mother, I do believe Frank
has got a letter from father. He is running up the road.”

Mrs. Frost at once dropped her work, no less interested than her
daughter, and was at the door just as Frank, flushed with running,
reached the gate.

“What’ll you give me for a letter?” he asked triumphantly.

“Give it to me quick,” said Mrs. Frost. “I am anxious to learn whether
your father is well.”

“I guess he is, or he wouldn’t have written such a long letter.”

“How do you know it’s long?” asked Alice. “You haven’t read it.”

“I judge from the weight. There are two stamps on the envelope. I was
tempted to open it, but, being directed to mother, I didn’t venture.”

Mrs. Frost sat down, and the children gathered round her, while she read
the following letter:

                    “CAMP --------, Virginia.

“DEAR MARY: When I look about me, and consider the novelty and
strangeness of my surroundings, I can hardly realize that it is only a
week since I sat in our quiet sitting-room at the farm, with you and
our own dear ones around me. I will try to help your imagination to a
picture of my present home.

“But first let me speak of my journey hither.

“It was tedious enough, traveling all day by rail. Of course, little
liberty was allowed us. Military discipline is rigid, and must be
maintained. Of its necessity we had a convincing proof at a small
station between Hartford and New Haven. One of our number, who, I
accidentally learned, is a Canadian, and had only been tempted to enlist
by the bounty, selected a seat by the door of the car. I had noticed for
some time that he looked nervous and restless, as if he had something on
his mind.

“At one of our stopping-places--a small, obscure station--he crept
out of the door, and, as he thought, unobserved, dodged behind a shed,
thinking, no doubt, that the train would go off without him. But
an officer had his eye upon him, and a minute afterward he was
ignominiously brought back and put under guard. I am glad to say that
his case inspired no sympathy. To enlist, obtain a bounty, and then
attempt to evade the service for which the bounty was given, is
despicable in the extreme. I am glad to know that no others of our
company had the least desire to follow this man’s example.

“We passed through New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, but I can
give you little idea of either of these cities. The time we passed in
each was mostly during the hours of darkness, when there was little
opportunity of seeing anything.

“In Washington I was fortunate enough to see our worthy President. We
were marching down Pennsylvania Avenue at the time. On the opposite side
of the street we descried a very tall man, of slender figure, walking
thoughtfully along, not appearing to notice what was passing around him.

“The officer in command turned and said: ‘Boys, look sharp. That is
Abraham Lincoln, across the way.’

“Of course, we all looked eagerly toward the man of whom we had heard so
much.

“I could not help thinking how great a responsibility rests upon this
man--to how great an extent the welfare and destinies of our beloved
country depend upon his patriotic course.

“As I noticed his features, which, plain as they are, bear the
unmistakable marks of a shrewd benevolence, and evince also, as I think,
acute and original powers of mind, I felt reassured. I could not help
saying to myself: ‘This man is at least honest, and if he does not carry
us in safety through this tremendous crisis, it will not be for the lack
of an honest determination to do his duty.’

“And now let me attempt to give you a picture of our present situation,
with some account of the way we live.

“Our camp may appropriately be called ‘Hut Village.’ Imagine several
avenues lined with square log huts, surmounted by tent-coverings. The
logs are placed transversely, and are clipped at the ends, so as to fit
each other more compactly. In this way the interstices are made much
narrower than they would otherwise be. These, moreover, are filled in
with mud, which, as you have probably heard, is a staple production of
Virginia. This is a good protection against the cold, though it does not
give our dwellings a very elegant appearance.

“Around most of our huts shallow trenches are dug, to carry off the
water, thus diminishing the dampness. Most of the huts are not floored,
but mine, fortunately, is an exception to the general rule. My comrades
succeeded in obtaining some boards somewhere, and we are a little in
advance of our neighbors in this respect.

“Six of us are lodged in a tent. It is pretty close packing, but
we don’t stand upon ceremony here. My messmates seem to be pleasant
fellows. I have been most attracted to Frank Grover; a bright young
fellow of eighteen. He tells me that he is an only son, and his mother
is a widow.

“‘Wasn’t your mother unwilling to have you come out here?’ I asked him
one day.

“‘No,’ he answered, ‘not unwilling. She was only sorry for the
necessity. When I told her that I felt it to be my duty, she told me at
once to go. She said she would never stand between me and my country.’

“‘You must think of her often,’ I said.

“‘All the time,’ he answered seriously, a thoughtful expression
stealing over his young face. ‘I write to her twice a week regular, and
sometimes oftener. For her sake I hope my life may be spared to return.’

“‘I hope so, too,’ I answered warmly. Then after a minute’s silence, I
added from some impulse: ‘Will you let me call you Frank? I have a boy
at home, not many years younger than you. His name is Frank also--it
will seem to remind me of him.’

“‘I wish you would,’ he answered, his face lighting up with evident
pleasure. ‘Everybody calls me Frank at home, and I am tired of being
called Grover.’

“So our compact was made. I shall feel a warm interest in this brave
boy, and I fervently hope that the chances of war will leave him
unscathed.

“I must give you a description of Hiram Marden, another of our small
company, a very different kind of person from Frank Grover. But it takes
all sorts of characters to make an army, as well as a world, and Marden
is one of the oddities. Imagine a tall young fellow, with a thin face,
lantern jaws, and long hair ‘slicked’ down on either side. Though he
may be patriotic, he was led into the army from a different cause. He
cherished an attachment for a village beauty, who did not return his
love. He makes no concealment of his rebuff, but appears to enjoy
discoursing in a sentimental way upon his disappointment. He wears such
an air of meek resignation when he speaks of his cruel fair one that the
effect is quite irresistible, and I find it difficult to accord him
that sympathy which his unhappy fate demands. Fortunately for him, his
troubles, deep-seated as they are, appear to have very little effect
upon his appetite. He sits down to his rations with a look of subdued
sorrow upon his face, and sighs frequently between the mouthfuls. In
spite of this, however, he seldom leaves anything upon his tin plate,
which speaks well for his appetite, since Uncle Sam is a generous
provider, and few of us do full justice to our allowance.

“You may wonder how I enjoy soldier’s fare. I certainly do long
sometimes for the good pumpkin and apple pies which I used to have at
home, and confess that a little apple sauce would make my hardtack
a little more savory. I begin to appreciate your good qualities as a
housekeeper, Mary, more than ever. Pies can be got of the sutler, but
they are such poor things that I would rather do without than eat them,
and I am quite sure they would try my digestion sorely.

“There is one very homely esculent which we crave in the camp--I mean
the onion. It is an excellent preventive of scurvy, a disease to which
our mode of living particularly exposes us. We eat as many as we can
get, and should be glad of more. Tell Frank he may plant a whole acre of
them. They will require considerable care, but even in a pecuniary way
they will pay. The price has considerably advanced since the war began,
on account of the large army demand, and will doubtless increase more.

“As to our military exercises, drill, etc., we have enough to occupy
our time well. I see the advantage of enlisting in a veteran regiment.
I find myself improving very rapidly. Besides my public company drill,
I am getting my young comrade, Frank Grover, who has been in the service
six months, to give me some private lessons. With the help of these, I
hope to pass muster creditably before my first month is out.

“And now, my dear Mary, I must draw my letter to a close. In the army
we are obliged to write under difficulties. I am writing this on my
knapsack for a desk, and that is not quite so easy as a table. The
constrained position in which I am forced to sit has tired me, and I
think I will go out and ‘limber’ myself a little. Frank, who has just
finished a letter to his mother, will no doubt join me. Two of my
comrades are sitting close by, playing euchre. When I joined them I
found they were in the habit of playing for small stakes, but I have
succeeded in inducing them to give up a practice which might not
unlikely lead to bad results.

“In closing, I need not tell you how much and how often I think of you
all. I have never before been separated from you, and there are times
when my longing to be with you again is very strong. You must make up
for your absence by frequent and long letters. Tell me all that is going
on. Even trifles will serve to amuse us here.

“Tell Frank to send me Harper’s Weekly regularly. Two or three times a
week I should like to have a daily paper forwarded. Every newspaper that
finds its way into camp goes the rounds, and its contents are eagerly
devoured.

“I will write you again very soon. The letters I write and receive from
home will be one of my principal sources of pleasure. God bless you all,
is the prayer of your affectionate husband and father,

“HENRY FROST.”


It is hardly necessary to say that this letter was read with eager
interest. That evening all the children, including little Charlie, were
busy writing letters to the absent father. I have not room to print them
all, but as this was Charlie’s first epistolary effort, it may interest
some of my youthful readers to see it. The mistakes in spelling will be
excused on the score of Charlie’s literary inexperience. This is the way
it commenced:


“DEER FARTHER: I am sorry you hav to live in a log hous stuck up with
mud. I shud think the mud wood cum off on your close. I am wel and so is
Maggie. Frank is agoin to make me a sled--a real good one. I shal cal it
the egle. I hope we shal soon hav sum sno. It will be my berth day next
week. I shal be seven years old. I hope you cum back soon. Good nite.

“from CHARLIE.”


Charlie was so proud of his letter that he insisted on having it
enclosed in a separate envelope and mailed by itself--a request which
was complied with by his mother.



CHAPTER XIII. MISCHIEF ON FOOT

As may be supposed, John Haynes was deeply incensed with Frank Frost for
the manner in which he had foiled him in his attack upon Pomp. He felt
that in this whole matter he had appeared by no means to advantage.
After all his boasting, he had been defeated by a boy younger and
smaller than himself. The old grudge which he had against Frank for the
success gained over him at school increased and added poignancy to his
mortification. He felt that he should never be satisfied until he had
“come up” with Frank in some way. The prospect of seeing him ejected
from the farm was pleasant, but it was too far off. John did not feel
like waiting so long for the gratification of his revengeful feelings.
He resolved in the meantime to devise some method of injuring or
annoying Frank.

He could not at once think of anything feasible. Several schemes flitted
across his mind, but all were open to some objection. John did not care
to attempt anything which would expose him, if discovered, to a legal
punishment. I am afraid this weighed more with him than the wrong or
injustice of his schemes.

At last it occurred to him that Mr. Frost kept a couple of pigs. To let
them out secretly at night would be annoying to Frank, as they would
probably stray quite a distance, and thus a tedious pursuit would be
made necessary. Perhaps they might never be found, in which case John
felt that he should not grieve much.

Upon this scheme John finally settled as the one promising the most
amusement to himself and annoyance to his enemy, as he chose to regard
Frank. He felt quite averse, however, to doing the work himself. In the
first place, it must be done by night, and he could not absent himself
from the house at a late hour without his father’s knowledge. Again, he
knew there was a risk of being caught, and it would not sound very well
if noised abroad that the son of Squire Haynes had gone out by night and
let loose a neighbor’s pigs.

He cast about in his mind for a confederate, and after awhile settled
upon a boy named Dick Bumstead.

This Dick had the reputation of being a scape-grace and a ne’er-do-well.
He was about the age of John Haynes, but had not attended school for
a couple of years, and, less from want of natural capacity than from
indolence, knew scarcely more than a boy of ten. His father was a
shoemaker, and had felt obliged to keep his son at home to assist him
in the shop. He did not prove a very efficient assistant, however, being
inclined to shirk duty whenever he could.

It was upon this boy that John Haynes fixed as most likely to help him
in his plot. On his way home from school the next afternoon, he noticed
Dick loitering along a little in advance.

“Hold on, Dick,” he called out, in a friendly voice, at the same time
quickening his pace.

Dick turned in some surprise, for John Haynes had a foolish pride, which
had hitherto kept him very distant toward those whom he regarded as
standing lower than himself in the social scale.

“How are you, John?” he responded, putting up the knife with which he
had been whittling.

“All right. What are you up to nowadays?”

“Working in the shop,” said Dick, shrugging his shoulders. “I wish
people didn’t wear shoes, for my part. I’ve helped make my share.
Pegging isn’t a very interesting operation.”

“No,” said John, with remarkable affability. “I shouldn’t think there’d
be much fun in it.”

“Fun! I guess not. For my part, I’d be willing to go barefoot, if other
people would, for the sake of getting rid of pegging.”

“I suppose you have some time to yourself, though, don’t you?”

“Precious little. I ought to be in the shop now. Father sent me down to
the store for some awls, and he’ll be fretting because I don’t get back.
I broke my awl on purpose,” said Dick, laughing, “so as to get a chance
to run out a little while.”

“I suppose your father gives you some of the money that you earn,
doesn’t he?’ inquired John.

“A few cents now and then; that’s all. He says everything is so high
nowadays that it takes all we can both of us earn to buy food and
clothes. So if a fellow wants a few cents now and then to buy a cigar,
he can’t have ‘em.”

John was glad to hear this. He felt that he could the more readily
induce Dick to assist him in his plans.

“Dick!” he said abruptly, looking round to see that no one was within
hearing-distance, “wouldn’t you like to earn a two-dollar bill?”

“For myself?” inquired Dick.

“Certainly.”

“Is there much work in it?” asked indolent Dick cautiously.

“No, and what little there is will be fun.”

“Then I’m in for it. That is, I think I am. What is it?”

“You’ll promise not to tell?” said John.

“Honor bright.”

“It’s only a little practical joke that I want to play upon one of the
boys.”

“On who?” asked Dick, unmindful of his grammar.

“On Frank Frost.”

“Frank’s a pretty good fellow. It isn’t going to hurt him any, is it?”

“Oh, no, of course not.”

“Because I wouldn’t want to do that. He’s always treated me well.”

“Of course he has. It’s only a little joke, you know.”

“Oh, well, if it’s a joke, just count me in. Fire away, and let me know
what you want done.”

“You know that Frank, or his father, keeps pigs?”

“Yes.”

“I want you to go some night--the sooner the better--and let them out,
so that when morning comes the pigs will be minus, and Master Frank will
have a fine chase after them.”

“Seems to me,” said Dick, “that won’t be much of a joke.”

“Then I guess you never saw a pig-chase. Pigs are so contrary that if
you want them to go in one direction they are sure to go in another.
The way they gallop over the ground, with their little tails wriggling
behind them, is a caution.”

“But it would be a great trouble to Frank to get them back.”

“Oh, well, you could help him, and so get still more fun out of it, he
not knowing, of course, that you had anything to do with letting them
out.”

“And that would take me out of the shop for a couple of hours,” said
Dick, brightening at the thought.

“Of course,” said John; “so you would get a double advantage. Come, what
do you say?”

“Well, I don’t know,” said Dick, wavering. “You’d pay me the money down
on the nail, wouldn’t you?”

“Yes,” said John. “I’ll show you the bill now.”

He took from his pocketbook a two-dollar greenback, and displayed it to
Dick.

“You could buy cigars enough with this to last you some time,” he said
insinuatingly.

“So I could. I declare, I’ve a good mind to take up your offer.”

“You’d better. It’s a good one.”

“But why don’t you do it yourself?” asked Dick, with sudden wonder.

“Because father’s very strict,” said John glibly, “and if I should leave
the house at night, he’d be sure to find it out.”

“That’s where I have the advantage. I sleep downstairs, and can easily
slip out of the window, without anybody’s being the wiser.”

“Just the thing. Then you agree?”

“Yes, I might as well. Are you particular about the night?”

“No, take your choice about that. Only the sooner the better.”

The two boys separated, John feeling quite elated with his success.



CHAPTER XIV. A RAID UPON THE PIG-PEN

The more Dick thought of the enterprise which he had undertaken, the
more he disliked it. He relished fun as much as any one, but he could
not conceal from himself that he would be subjecting Frank to a great
deal of trouble and annoyance. As he had told John, Frank had always
treated him well, and this thought made the scheme disagreeable to him.

Still, John had promised him two dollars for his co-operation, and this,
in his circumstances, was an important consideration. Unfortunately,
Dick had contracted a fondness for smoking--a habit which his scanty
supply of pocket-money rarely enabled him to indulge. This windfall
would keep him in cigars for some time. It was this reflection which
finally turned the wavering scale of Dick’s irresolution, and determined
him to embrace John’s offer.

The moon was now at the full, and the nights were bright and beautiful.
Dick decided that it would be best to defer the accomplishment of his
purpose till later in the month, when darker nights would serve as a
screen, and render detection more difficult.

By and by a night came which he thought suitable. A few stars were
out, but they gave only a faint glimmer of light, not more than was
necessary.

Dick went to bed at nine o’clock, as usual. By an effort he succeeded in
keeping awake, feeling that if he once yielded to drowsiness, he should
probably sleep on till morning. At half-past nine all in the house were
abed. It was not till eleven, however, that Dick felt it safe to leave
the house. He dressed himself expeditiously and in silence, occasionally
listening to see if he could detect any sound in the room above, where
his parents slept. Finally he raised the window softly, and jumped out.
He crept out to the road, and swiftly bent his steps toward Mr. Frost’s
house.

As this was not more than a third of a mile distant, a very few minutes
sufficed to bring him to his destination. Dick’s feelings were not the
most comfortable. Though he repeatedly assured himself that it was only
fun he was engaged in, he felt very much like a burglar about to enter a
house.

Arrived before the farmhouse, he looked cautiously up to the windows,
but could see no light burning.

“The coast is clear,” he thought. “I wish it were all over, and I were
on my way home.”

Dick had not reconnoitered thoroughly. There was a light burning in a
window at the other end of the house.

The pig-pen was a small, rough, unpainted building, with a yard opening
from it. Around the yard was a stone wall, which prevented the pigs from
making their escape. They were now, as Dick could with difficulty see,
stretched out upon the floor of the pen, asleep.

Dick proceeded to remove a portion of the stones forming the wall. It
was not very easy or agreeable work, the stones being large and heavy.
At length he effected a gap which he thought would be large enough for
the pigs to pass through. He next considered whether it would be better
to disturb the slumbers of the pigs by poking them with a hoe, or wait
and let them find out the avenue of escape in the morning. He finally
decided to stir them up. He accordingly went round to the door and,
seizing a hoe, commenced punching one of the pigs vigorously.

The pig whose slumbers were thus rudely disturbed awoke with a loud
grunt, and probably would have looked astonished and indignant if nature
had given him the power of expressing such emotions.

“Get out, there, you lazy beast,” exclaimed Dick.

The pig, as was perhaps only natural under the circumstances, seemed
reluctant to get up, and was by no means backward in grunting his
discontent. Dick was earnestly engaged in overcoming his repugnance to
locomotion, when he was startled by hearing the door of the building,
which he had carefully closed, open slowly. Looking up hastily, the hoe
still in his hand, his dismayed glance fell upon Frank Frost, entering
with a lantern.

A half-exclamation of surprise and dismay escaped him. This called the
attention of Frank, who till that moment was unsuspicious of Dick’s
presence.

“Dick Bumstead!” he exclaimed, as soon as he recognized the intruder.
“What brings you here at this time of night?”

“A mean errand, Frank,” returned Dick, with a wholesome feeling of
shame. He had made up his mind to a confession.

“You didn’t come here to--to----” Here Frank stopped short.

“No, not to steal. I ain’t quite so mean as that comes to. I come to let
out your pigs, so that in the morning you would have a long chase after
them.”

“But what could put such a thing into your head, Dick?” asked Frank, in
great surprise.

“I thought it would be a good joke.”

“It wouldn’t have been much of a joke to me,” said Frank.

“No; and to tell the truth it wouldn’t have been to me. The fact is,
and I don’t mind telling it, that I should never have thought of such a
thing if somebody else hadn’t put it into my head.”

“Somebody else?”

“Yes; I’d a little rather not tell who that somebody is, for I don’t
believe he would like to have you know.”

“Why didn’t he come himself?” asked Frank. “It seems to me he’s been
making a catspaw of you.”

“A catspaw?”

“Yes, haven’t you read the story? A monkey wanted to draw some chestnuts
out of the hot ashes, but, feeling a decided objection to burning his
own paws in the operation, drew a cat to the fire and thrust her paw
in.”

“I don’t know but it’s been so in my case,” said Dick. “I didn’t want to
do it, and that’s a fact. I felt as mean as could be when I first came
into your yard to-night. But he offered me two dollars to do it, and
it’s so seldom I see money that it tempted me.”

Frank looked puzzled. “I don’t see,” he said thoughtfully, “how anybody
should think it worth while to pay two dollars for such a piece of
mischief.”

“Perhaps he don’t like you, and wanted to plague you,” suggested Dick.

The thought at once flashed upon Frank that John Haynes must be
implicated. He was the only boy who was likely to have two dollars
to invest in this way, and the suggestion offered by Dick of personal
enmity was sufficient to supply a motive for his action.

“I believe I know who it is, now, Dick,” he said quietly. “However, I
won’t ask you to tell me. There is one boy in the village who thinks
he has cause of complaint against me, though I have never intentionally
injured him.”

“What shall you do about it, Frank?” asked Dick, a little awkwardly, for
he did not want his own agency made public.

“Nothing,” answered Frank. “I would rather take no notice of it.”

“At any rate, I hope you won’t think hard of me,” said Dick. “You have
always treated me well, and I didn’t want to trouble you. But the money
tempted me. I meant to buy cigars with it.”

“You don’t smoke, Dick?”

“Yes, when I get a chance.”

“I wouldn’t if I were you. It isn’t good for boys like you and me. It is
an expensive habit, and injurious, too.”

“I don’t know but you are right, Frank,” said Dick candidly.

“I know I am. You can leave off now, Dick, better than when you are
older.”

At this moment a voice was heard from the house, calling “Frank!”

“I came out for some herbs,” said Frank hurriedly. “Jacob isn’t very
well, and mother is going to make him some herb tea. I won’t mention
that I have seen you.”

“All right. Thank you, Frank.”

A minute later Frank went into the house, leaving Dick by himself.

“Now,” thought Dick, “I must try to remedy the mischief I have done. I’m
afraid I’ve got a job before me.”

He went round to the gap in the wall, and began to lay it again as well
as he could. In lifting the heavy stones he began to realize how much
easier it is to make mischief than to repair damages afterward. He
pulled and tugged, but it took him a good half-hour, and by that time he
felt very tired.

“My clothes must be precious dirty,” he said to himself. “At any rate,
my hands are. I wonder where the pump is. But then it won’t do to pump;
it’ll make too much noise. Oh, here’s some water in the trough.”

Dick succeeded in getting some of the dirt off his hands, which he dried
on his handkerchief. Then with a feeling of relief, he took the road
toward home.

Although he may be said to have failed most signally in his design, he
felt considerably better than if he had succeeded.

“Frank’s a good fellow,” he said to himself. “Some boys would have been
mad, and made a great fuss. But he didn’t seem angry at all, not even
with John Haynes, and did all he could to screen me. Well I’m glad I
didn’t succeed.”

Dick reached home without any further mischance, and succeeded in
crawling in at the window without making any sound loud enough to wake
up his parents.

The next day John, who had been informed of his intention to make the
attempt the evening previous, contrived to meet him.

“Well, Dick,” he said eagerly, “what success last night?”

“None at all,” answered Dick.

“Didn’t you try?”

“Yes.”

“What prevented your succeeding, then?”

“Frank came out to get some herbs to make tea for the hired man, and so
caught me.”

“You didn’t tell him who put you up to it?” said John apprehensively.

“No,” said Dick coolly; “I don’t do such things.”

“That’s good,” said John, relieved. “Was he mad?”

“No, he didn’t make any fuss. He asked what made me do it, and I told
him somebody else put it into my head.”

“You did! I thought you said you didn’t.”

“I didn’t tell who that somebody was, but Frank said he could guess.”

“He can’t prove it,” said John hastily.

“I don’t think he’ll try,” said Dick. “The fact is, John, Frank’s a good
fellow, and if you want to get anybody to do him any mischief hereafter,
you’d better not apply to me.”

“I don’t know as he’s any better than other boys,” said John, sneering.
He did not enjoy hearing Frank’s praises.

“He’s better than either of us, I’m sure of that,” said Dick decidedly.

“Speak for yourself, Dick Bumstead,” said John haughtily. “I wouldn’t
lower myself by a comparison with him. He’s only a laborer, and will
grow up a clodhopper.”

“He’s my friend, John Haynes,” said Dick stoutly, “and if you’ve got
anything else to say against him, you’ll oblige me by going farther
off.”

John left in high dudgeon.

That day, to his father’s surprise, Dick worked with steady industry,
and did not make a single attempt to shirk.



CHAPTER XV. POMP BEHAVES BADLY

The village of Rossville was distant about five miles from the long line
of railway which binds together with iron bands the cities of New
York and Boston. Only when the wind was strongly that way could the
monotonous noise of the railway-train be heard, as the iron monster,
with its heavy burden, sped swiftly on its way.

Lately a covered wagon had commenced running twice a day between
Rossville and the railway-station at Wellington. It was started at seven
in the morning, in time to meet the early trains, and again at four,
in order to receive any passengers who might have left the city in the
afternoon.

Occupying a central position in the village stood the tavern--a
two-story building, with a long piazza running along the front. Here
an extended seat was provided, on which, when the weather was not too
inclement, the floating population of the village, who had plenty of
leisure, and others when their work was over for the day, liked to
congregate, and in neighborly chat discuss the affairs of the village,
or the nation, speculating perchance upon the varying phases of the
great civil contest, which, though raging hundreds of miles away,
came home to the hearts and hearths of quiet Rossville and every other
village and hamlet in the land.

The driver of the carriage which made its daily journeys to and fro from
the station had received from his parents the rather uncommon name of
Ajax, not probably from any supposed resemblance to the ancient Grecian
hero, of whom it is doubtful whether his worthy progenitor had ever
heard. He had been at one time a driver on a horse-car in New York,
but had managed to find his way from the busy hum of the city to quiet
Rossville, where he was just in time for an employment similar to the
one he had given up.

One day, early in November, a young man of slight figure, apparently
not far from twenty-five years of age, descended from the cars at the
Wellington station and, crossing the track, passed through the small
station-house to the rear platform.

“Can you tell me,” he inquired of a bystander, “whether there is any
conveyance between this place and Rossville?”

“Yes, sir,” was the reply. “That’s the regular carriage, and here’s the
driver. Ajax, here’s a passenger for you.”

“I have a trunk on the other side,” said the young man, addressing the
driver. “If you wild go round with me, we will bring it here.”

“All right, sir,” said Ajax, in a businesslike way.

The trunk was brought round and placed on the rack behind the wagon.
It was a large black trunk, securely bound with brass bands, and showed
marks of service, as if it had been considerably used. Two small strips
of paper pasted on the side bore the custom-house marks of Havre and
Liverpool. On one end was a large card, on which, written in large, bold
letters, was the name of the proprietor, Henry Morton.

In five minutes the “express” got under way. The road wound partly
through the woods. In some places the boughs, bending over from opposite
sides, nearly met. At present the branches were nearly destitute of
leaves, and the landscape looked bleak. But in the summer nothing could
be more charming.

From his seat, beside Ajax, Henry Morton regarded attentively the
prominent features of the landscape. His survey was interrupted by a
question from the driver.

“Are you calc’latin’ to make a long stay in our village?” inquired Ajax,
with Yankee freedom.

“I am not quite certain. It is possible that I may.”

“There isn’t much goin’ on in winter.”

“No, I suppose not.”

After a few minutes’ pause, he inquired, “Can you tell me if there is a
gentleman living in the village named Haynes?”

“I expect you mean Squire Haynes,” said Ajax.

“Very probably he goes by that name. He was formerly a lawyer.”

“Yes, that’s the man. Do you know him?”

“I have heard of him,” said the young man, non-committally.

“Then you ain’t going to stop there?”

An expression of repugnance swept over the young man’s face, as he
hastily answered in the negative.

By this time they had come to a turn in the road. This brought them in
view of Chloe’s cottage. Little Pomp was on all fours, hunting for nuts
among the fallen leaves under the shagbark-tree.

Under the influence of some freakish impulse, Pomp suddenly jumped to
his feet and, whirling his arms aloft, uttered a wild whoop. Startled
by the unexpected apparition, the horses gave a sudden start, and nearly
succeeded in overturning the wagon.

“Massy on us!” exclaimed an old lady on the back seat, suddenly flinging
her arms round young Morton’s neck, in the height of her consternation.

“All right, marm,” said Ajax reassuringly, after a brief but successful
conflict with the horses. “We sha’n’t go over this time. I should like
to give that little black imp a good shaking.”

“Oh, I’ve lost my ban’box, with my best bunnit,” hastily exclaimed the
old lady. “Le’ me get out and find it. It was a present from my darter,
Cynthy Ann, and I wouldn’t lose it for a kingdom.”

In truth, when prompted by her apprehension to cling to the young man in
front for protection, Mrs. Payson had inadvertently dropped the bandbox
out of the window, where it met with an unhappy disaster. The horse,
quite unconscious of the damage he was doing, had backed the wagon in
such a manner that one of the wheels passed directly over it.

When Ajax picked up the mutilated casket, which, with the jewel it
contained, had suffered such irreparable injury, and restored it to its
owner, great was the lamentation. Rachel weeping for her children could
hardly have exhibited more poignant sorrow.

“Oh, it’s sp’ilt!” groaned the old lady. “I can never wear it arter
this. And it cost four dollars and sixty-two cents and a half without
the ribbon. Oh, deary me!”

Then, suddenly waxing indignant with the author of the mischief, she put
her head out of the window, and, espying Pomp on the other side of the
stone wall, looking half-repentant and half-struck with the fun of the
thing, she shook her fist at him, exclaiming, “Oh, you little sarpint,
ef I only had you here, I’d w’ip you till you couldn’t stan’.”

Pomp was so far from being terrified by this menace that he burst into a
loud guffaw. This, of course, added fuel to the flame of the old lady’s
wrath, and filled her with thoughts of immediate vengeance. Her sympathy
with the oppressed black race was at that moment very small.

“Jest lend me your w’ip, driver,” said she, “an’ I’ll l’arn that sassy
imp to make fun of his elders.”

Ajax, whose sense of humor was tickled by the old lady’s peculiarities,
quietly took her at her word, and coming round to the side opened the
door of the carriage.

“There, ma’am,” said he, extending the whip. “Don’t spare him. He
deserves a flogging.”

Mrs. Payson, her eyes flashing from beneath her glasses with a vengeful
light, seized the proffered whip with alacrity, and jumped out of the
wagon with a lightness which could hardly have been anticipated of one
of her age.

“Now, look out,” she said, brandishing the whip in a menacing way. “I’ll
git pay for that bunnit in one way, ef I don’t in another.”

Pomp maintained his position on the other side of the wall. He waited
till the old lady was fairly over, and then commenced running. The
old lady pursued with vindictive animosity, cracking the whip in a
suggestive manner. Pomp doubled and turned in a most provoking way.
Finally he had recourse to a piece of strategy. He had flung himself,
doubled up in a ball, at the old lady’s feet, and she, unable to check
her speed, fell over him, clutching at the ground with her outstretched
hands, from which the whip had fallen.

“Hi, hi!” shrieked Pomp, with a yell of inconceivable delight, as he
watched the signal downfall of his adversary. Springing quickly to his
feet, he ran swiftly away.

“Good for you, you old debble!” he cried from a safe distance.

Henry Morton, though he found it difficult to restrain his laughter,
turned to Ajax and said, “I think it’s time we interfered. If you’ll
overtake the little black boy and give him a shaking up, just to keep
him out of mischief hereafter, I’ll go and help the old lady.”

Ajax started on his errand. Pomp, now really alarmed, strove to escape
from this more formidable adversary, but in vain. He was destined to
receive a summary castigation.

Meanwhile, the young man approached Mrs. Payson.

“I hope you’re not much hurt, madam,” said he respectfully.

“I expect about every bone in my body’s broke,” she groaned.

Raising her to her feet, it became manifest that the damage was limited
to a pair of hands begrimed by contact with the earth. Nevertheless, the
old lady persisted that “something or ‘nother was broke. She didn’t feel
quite right inside.”

“I shouldn’t keer so much,” she added, “ef I’d caught that aggravatin’
boy. I’d go fifty miles to see him hung. He’ll die on the gallows, jest
as sure’s I stan’ here.”

At this moment a shrill cry was heard, which could proceed from no one
but Pomp.

“Golly, Mass’ Jack, don’t hit so hard. Couldn’t help it, sure.”

“You’ll have to help it the next time, you little rascal!” responded
Ajax.

“Le’ me go. I hope to be killed if I ever do it ag’in,” pleaded Pomp,
dancing about in pain.

“I hope you gin it to him,” said the old lady, as the driver reappeared.

Ajax smiled grimly. “I touched him up a little,” he said.

“Oh, my poor bunnit!” groaned Mrs. Payson, once more, as her eyes fell
upon the crushed article. “What will Cynthy Ann say?”

“Perhaps a milliner can restore it for you,” suggested Henry Morton,
with an attempt at consolation.

The old lady shook her head disconsolately. “It’s all jammed out of
shape,” she said dismally, “an’ the flowers is all mashed up. Looks as
ef an elephant had trodden on to it.”

“As you are the only one of us that has suffered,” said the young man
politely, “I think it only fair that your loss should be lightened. Will
you accept this toward making it good?”

He drew from his portemonnaie a five-dollar greenback, as he spoke, and
offered it to Mrs. Payson.

“Are you in airnest?” inquired the old lady dubiously.

“Quite so.”

“You ain’t robbin’ yourself, be you?” asked Mrs. Payson, with a look of
subdued eagerness lighting up her wrinkled face.

“Oh, no; I can spare it perfectly well.”

“Then I’ll take it,” she responded, in evident gratification, “an’
I’m sure I’m much obleeged to you. I’m free to confess that you’re a
gentleman sech as I don’t often meet with. I wouldn’t take it on no
account, only the loss is considerable for me, and Cynthy Ann, she would
have been disapp’inted if so be as I hadn’t worn the bunnit. I’d like to
know who it is that I’m so much obligated to.”

Henry Morton drew a card from his card-case and handed it with a bow to
Mrs. Payson.

“What’s that?” asked the old lady.

“My card.”

“Le’s see, where’s my specs?” said Mrs. Payson, fumbling in her pocket.
“Oh, I’ve got ‘em on. So your name’s Herod. What made ‘em call you
that?”

“Henry, madam--Henry Morton.”

“Well, so ‘tis, I declare. You ain’t related to Nahum Morton, of Gilead,
be you; he that was put into the State’s prison for breakin’ open the
Gilead Bank?”

An amused smile overspread the young man’s face.

“I never had any relatives sent to the State’s prison,” he answered;
“though I think it quite possible that some of them may have deserved
it.”

“Jest so,” assented the old lady. “There’s a good deal of iniquity that
never comes to light. I once know’d a woman that killed her husband
with the tongs, and nobody ever surmised it; though everybody thought
it strange that he should disappear so suddint. Well, this woman on her
death-bed owned up to the tongs in a crazy fit that she had. But the
most cur’us part of it,” the old lady added rather illogically, “was,
that the man was livin’ all the while, and it was all his wife’s fancy
that she’d struck him with the tongs.”

By this time the “express” had rumbled into the main street of
Rossville, and the old lady had hardly completed her striking
illustration of the truth, that murder will out, before they had drawn
up in front of the tavern.

“Ain’t you a-goin’ to carry me to my darter’s house?” she inquired with
solicitude. “I can’t walk noway.”

“Yes, ma’am,” answered Ajax, “directly, just as soon as this gentleman’s
got out, and they’ve taken the mail.”

He tossed the mail-bag to a small boy who stood on the piazza in waiting
to receive it, and then, whipping up his horses, speedily conveyed Mrs.
Payson to her destination.

“He’s a very nice, obleeging young man,” said the old lady, referring
to Henry Morton. “I wonder ef his mother was a Bent. There’s old Micajah
Bent’s third daughter, Roxana Jane, married a Morton, or it might have
been a Moulton. Ever see him afore?”

“No, ma’am. Here you are.”

“So I be! and there’s Reuben at the gate. How are ye all? Jest take this
carpetbag, will ye, and I’ll give you a cent some time or ‘nother.”

Reuben did not appear much elated by this promise. It had been made too
many times without fulfilment.

The old lady having reached her destination, we take leave of her
for the present, promising to resume her acquaintance in subsequent
chapters.



CHAPTER XVI. FRANK MAKES A FRIEND

Henry Morton rose with the sun. This was not so early as may be
supposed, for already November had touched its middle point, and the
tardy sun did not make its appearance till nearly seven o’clock. As he
passed through the hall he noticed that breakfast was not quite ready.

“A little walk will sharpen my appetite,” he thought. He put on his hat,
and, passing through the stable-yard at the rear, climbed over a fence
and ascended a hill which he had observed from his chamber window.
The sloping sides, which had not yet wholly lost their appearance of
verdure, were dotted with trees, mostly apple-trees.

“It must be delightful in summer,” said the young man, as he looked
thoughtfully about him.

The hill was by no means high, and five minutes’ walk brought him to the
summit. From this spot he had a fine view of the village which lay at
his feet embowered in trees. A narrow river wound like a silver thread
through the landscape. Groups of trees on either bank bent over as if
to see themselves reflected in the rapid stream. At one point a dam had
been built across from bank to bank, above which the river widened and
deepened, affording an excellent skating-ground for the boys in the cold
days of December and January. A whirring noise was heard. The grist-mill
had just commenced its work for the day. Down below the dam the shallow
water eddied and whirled, breaking in fleecy foam over protuberant rocks
which lay in the river-bed.

The old village church with its modest proportions occupied a knoll
between the hill and the river. It was girdled about with firs
intermingled with elms. Near-by was a small triangular common, thickly
planted with trees, each facing a separate street. Houses clustered here
and there. Comfortable buildings they were, but built evidently rather
for use than show. The architect had not yet come to the assistance of
the village carpenter.

Seen in the cheering light of the rising sun, Henry Morton could not
help feeling that a beautiful picture was spread out before him.

“After all,” he said thoughtfully, “we needn’t go abroad for beauty,
when we can find so much of it at our own doors. Yet, perhaps the more
we see of the beautiful, the better we are fitted to appreciate it in
the wonderful variety of its numberless forms.”

He slowly descended the hill, but in a different direction. This brought
him to the road that connected the village with North Rossville, two
miles distant.

Coming from a different direction, a boy reached the stile about the
same time with himself, and both clambered over together.

“It is a beautiful morning,” said the young man courteously.

“Yes, sir,” was the respectful answer. “Have you been up looking at the
view?”

“Yes--and to get an appetite for breakfast. And you?”

Frank Frost--for it was he--laughed. “Oh, I am here on quite a different
errand,” he said. “I used to come here earlier in the season to drive
the cows to pasture. I come this morning to carry some milk to a
neighbor who takes it of us. She usually sends for it, but her son is
just now sick with the measles.”

“Yet I think you cannot fail to enjoy the pleasant morning, even if you
are here for other purposes.”

“I do enjoy it very much,” said Frank. “When I read of beautiful scenery
in other countries, I always wish that I could visit them, and see for
myself.”

“Perhaps you will some day.”

Frank smiled, and shook his head incredulously. “I am afraid there is
not much chance of it,” he said.

“So I thought when I was of your age,” returned Henry Morton.

“Then you have traveled?” said Frank, looking interested.

“Yes. I have visited most of the countries of Europe.”

“Have you been in Rome?” inquired Frank.

“Yes. Are you interested in Rome?”

“Who could help it, sir? I should like to see the Capitol, and the Via
Sacra, and the Tarpeian Rock, and the Forum--and, in fact, Rome must be
full of objects of interest. Who knows but I might tread where Cicero,
and Virgil, and Caesar had trodden before me?”

Henry Morton looked at the boy who stood beside him with increased
interest. “I see you are quite a scholar,” he said. “Where did you learn
about all these men and places?”

“I have partly prepared for college,” answered Frank; “but my father
went to the war some weeks since, and I am staying at home to take
charge of the farm, and supply his place as well as I can.”

“It must have been quite a sacrifice to you to give up your studies?”
 said his companion.

“Yes, sir, it was a great sacrifice; but we must all of us sacrifice
something in these times. Even the boys can do something for their
country.”

“What is your name?” asked Henry Morton, more and more pleased with his
chance acquaintance. “I should like to become better acquainted with
you.”

Frank blushed, and his expressive face showed that he was gratified by
the compliment.

“My name is Frank Frost,” he answered, “and I live about half a mile
from here.”

“And I am Henry Morton. I am stopping temporarily at the hotel. Shall
you be at leisure this evening, Frank?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then I should be glad to receive a call from you. I have no
acquaintances, and perhaps we may help each other to make the evening
pass pleasantly. I have some pictures collected abroad, which I think
you might like to look at.”

“I shall be delighted to come,” said Frank, his eyes sparkling with
pleasure.

By this time they had reached the church, which was distant but a few
rods from the hotel. They had just turned the corner of the road, when
the clang of a bell was heard.

“I suppose that is my breakfast-bell,” said the young man. “It finds me
with a good appetite. Good morning, Frank. I will expect you, then, this
evening.”

Frank returned home, feeling quite pleased with his invitation.

“I wish,” thought he, “that I might see considerable of Mr. Morton. I
could learn a great deal from him, he has seen so much.”

His road led him past the house of Squire Haynes. John was sauntering
about the yard with his hands in his pockets.

“Good morning, John,” said Frank, in a pleasant voice.

John did not seem inclined to respond to this politeness. On seeing
Frank he scowled, and without deigning to make a reply turned his back
and went into the house. He had not forgotten the last occasion on which
they had met in the woods, when Frank defeated his cruel designs upon
poor Pomp. There was not much likelihood that he would forget it very
soon.

“I can’t understand John,” thought Frank. “The other boys will get mad
and get over it before the next day; John broods over it for weeks.
I really believe he hates me. But, of course, I couldn’t act any
differently. I wasn’t going to stand by and see Pomp beaten. I should do
just the same again.”

The day wore away, and in the evening Frank presented himself at the
hotel, and inquired for Mr. Morton. He was ushered upstairs, and told to
knock at the door of a room in the second story.

His knock was answered by the young man in person, who shook his hand
with a pleasant smile, and invited him in.

“I am glad to see you, Frank,” he said, very cordially.

“And I am much obliged to you for inviting me, Mr. Morton.”

They sat down together beside the table, and conversed on a variety of
topics. Frank had numberless questions to ask about foreign scenes and
countries, all of which were answered with the utmost readiness. Henry
Morton brought out a large portfolio containing various pictures, some
on note-paper, representing scenes in different parts of Europe.

The evening wore away only too rapidly for Frank. He had seldom
passed two hours so pleasantly. At half-past nine, he rose, and said
half-regretfully, “I wish you were going to live in the village this
winter, Mr. Morton.”

The young man smiled. “Such is my intention, Frank,” he said quietly.

“Shall you stay?” said Frank joyfully. “I suppose you will board here?”

“I should prefer a quieter boarding-place. Can you recommend one?”

Frank hesitated.

“Where,” continued Mr. Morton, “I could enjoy the companionship of an
intelligent young gentleman of your age?”

“If we lived nearer the village,” Frank began, and stopped abruptly.

“Half a mile would be no objection to me. As I don’t think you will find
it unpleasant, Frank, I will authorize you to offer your mother five
dollars a week for a room and a seat at her table.”

“I am quite sure she would be willing, Mr. Morton, but I am afraid we
should not live well enough to suit you. And I don’t think you ought to
pay so much as five dollars a week.”

“Leave that to me, Frank. My main object is to obtain a pleasant home;
and that I am sure I should find at your house.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Frank; “I will mention it to my mother, and let
you know in the course of to-morrow.”



CHAPTER XVII. A SHADE OF MYSTERY

Frank found little difficulty in persuading his mother to accept young
Morton’s proposition. From her son’s description she felt little doubt
that he would be a pleasant addition to the family circle, while his
fund of information would make him instructive as well as agreeable.

There was another consideration besides which determined her to take
him. Five dollars a week would go a great way in housekeeping, or,
rather, as their income from other sources would probably be sufficient
for this, she could lay aside the entire amount toward paying the
mortgage held by Squire Haynes. This plan occurred simultaneously to
Frank and his mother.

“I should certainly feel myself to blame if I neglected so good an
opportunity of helping your father,” said Mrs. Frost.

“Suppose we don’t tell him, mother,” suggested Frank; “but when he gets
home surprise him with the amount of our savings.”

“No,” said Mrs. Frost, after a moment’s thought, “your father will be
all the better for all the good news we can send him. It will make his
life more tolerable.”

Frank harnessed his horse to a light wagon and drove down to the tavern.

Henry Morton was sitting on the piazza, as the day was unusually-warm,
with a book in his hand.

“Well,” he said, looking up with a smile, “I hope you have come for me.”

“That is my errand, Mr. Morton,” answered Frank. “If your trunk is
already packed, we will take it along with us.”

“It is quite ready. If you will come up and help me downstairs with it,
I will settle with the landlord and leave at once.”

This was speedily arranged, and the young man soon occupied a seat
beside Frank.

Arrived at the farmhouse, Frank introduced the new boarder to his
mother.

“I hope we shall be able to make you comfortable,” said Mrs. Frost, in a
hospitable tone.

“I entertain no doubt of it,” he said politely. “I am easy to suit, and
I foresee that Frank and I will become intimate friends.”

“He was very urgent to have you come. I am not quite sure whether it
would have been safe for me to refuse.”

“I hope he will be as urgent to have me stay. That will be a still
higher compliment.”

“Here is the room you are to occupy, Mr. Morton,” said Mrs. Frost,
opening a door at the head of the front stairs.

It was a large square room, occupying the front eastern corner of the
house. The furniture was neat and comfortable, though not pretentious.

“I like this,” said the young man, surveying his new quarters with an
air of satisfaction. “The sun will find me out in the morning.”

“Yes, it will remain with you through the forenoon. I think you will
find the room warm and comfortable. But whenever you get tired of it you
will be welcome downstairs.”

“That is an invitation of which I shall be only too glad to avail
myself. Now, Frank, if you will be kind enough to help me upstairs with
my trunk.”

The trunk was carried up between them, and placed in a closet.

“I will send for a variety of articles from the city to make my room
look social and cheerful,” said Mr. Morton. “I have some books and
engravings in Boston, which I think will contribute to make it so.”

A day or two later, two large boxes arrived, one containing pictures,
the other books. Of the latter there were perhaps a hundred and fifty,
choice and well selected.

Frank looked at them with avidity.

“You shall be welcome to use them as freely as you like,” said the
owner--an offer which Frank gratefully accepted.

The engravings were tastefully framed in black walnut. One represented
one of Raphael’s Madonnas. Another was a fine photograph, representing
a palace in Venice. Several others portrayed foreign scenes. Among them
was a street scene in Rome. An entire family were sitting in different
postures on the portico of a fine building, the man with his swarthy
features half-concealed under a slouch hat, the woman holding a child
in her lap, while another, a boy with large black eyes, leaned his head
upon her knees.

“That represents a Roman family at home,” explained Henry Morton.

“At home!”

“Yes, it is the only home they have. They sleep wherever night finds
them, sheltering themselves from the weather as well as they can.”

“But how do they get through the winter? should think they would
freeze.”

“Nature has bestowed upon Italy a mild climate, so that, although they
may find the exposure at this season disagreeable, they are in no danger
of freezing.”

There was another engraving which Frank looked at curiously. It
represented a wagon laden with casks of wine, and drawn by an ox and
a donkey yoked together. Underneath was a descriptive phrase, “Caro di
vino.”

“You don’t see such teams in this country,” said Mr. Morton, smiling.
“In Italy they are common enough. In the background you notice a priest
with a shovel-hat, sitting sideways on a donkey. Such a sight is much
more common there than that of a man on horseback. Indeed, this stubborn
animal is found very useful in ascending and descending mountains, being
much surer-footed than the horse. I have ridden down steep descents
along the verge of a precipice where it would have been madness to
venture on horseback, but I felt the strongest confidence in the donkey
I bestrode.”

Frank noticed a few Latin books in the collection. “Do you read Latin,
Mr. Morton?” he inquired.

“Yes, with tolerable ease. If I can be of any assistance to you in
carrying on your Latin studies, it will afford me pleasure to do so.”

“I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Morton. I tried to go on with it by
myself, but every now and then I came to a difficult sentence which I
could not make out.”

“I think we can overcome the difficulties between us. At any rate, we
will try. Have no hesitation in applying to me.”

Before closing this chapter, I think it necessary to narrate a little
incident which served to heighten the interest with which Frank regarded
his new friend, though it involved the latter in a shadow of mystery.

Mrs. Frost did not keep what in New England is denominated “help.” Being
in good health, she performed the greater part of her household tasks
unassisted. When washing and house-cleaning days came, however, she
obtained outside assistance. For this purpose she engaged Chloe to come
twice a week, on Monday and Saturday, not only because in this way she
could help the woman to earn a living, but also because she found her a
valuable and efficient assistant.

Henry Morton became a member of the little household at the farm on
Thursday, and two days later Chloe came as usual to “clean house.”

The young man was standing in the front yard as Chloe, with a white
turban on her head, for she had not yet laid aside her Southern mode of
dress, came from the street by a little path which led to the back door.
Her attention was naturally drawn to the young man. No sooner did she
obtain a full view of him, than she stopped short and exclaimed with
every appearance of surprise, “Why, Mass’ Richard, who’d’a’ thought to
see you here. You look just like you used to do, dat’s a fac’. It does
my old eyes good to see you.”

Henry Morton turned suddenly.

“What, Chloe!” he exclaimed in equal surprise. “What brings you up here?
I thought you were miles away, in Virginia.”

“So I was, Mass’ Richard. But Lor’ bless you, when de Linkum sogers
come, I couldn’t stay no longer. I took and runned away.”

“And here you are, then.”

“Yes, Mass’ Richard, here I is, for sure.”

“How do you like the North, Chloe?”

“Don’t like it as well as de Souf. It’s too cold,” and Chloe shivered.

“But you would rather be here than there?”

“Yes, Mass’ Richard. Here I own myself. Don’t have no oberseer to crack
his whip at me now. I’se a free woman now, and so’s my little Pomp.”

The young man smiled at the innocent mistake.

“Pomp is your little boy, I suppose, Chloe.”

“Yes, Mass’ Richard.”

“Is he a good boy?”

“He’s as sassy as de debble,” said Chloe emphatically. “I don’t know
what’s goin’ to ‘come of dat boy. He’s most worried my life out.”

“Oh, he’ll grow better as he grows older. Don’t trouble yourself about
him. But, Chloe, there’s one favor I am going to ask of you.”

“Yes, Mass’ Richard.”

“Don’t call me by my real name. For some reasons, which I can’t at
present explain, I prefer to be known as Henry Morton, for some months
to come. Do you think you can remember to call me by that name?”

“Yes, Mass’--Henry,” said Chloe, looking perplexed.

Henry Morton turned round to meet the surprised looks of Frank and his
mother.

“My friends,” he said, “I hope you will not feel distrustful of me, when
I freely acknowledge to you that imperative reasons compel me for a time
to appear under a name not my own. Chloe and I are old acquaintances,
but I must request her to keep secret for a time her past knowledge
concerning me. I think,” he added with a smile, “that she would have
nothing to say that would damage me. Some time you shall know all. Are
you satisfied?”

“Quite so,” said Mrs. Frost. “I have no doubt you have good and
sufficient reason.”

“I will endeavor to justify your confidence,” said Henry Morton, an
expression of pleasure lighting up his face.



CHAPTER XVIII. THANKSGIVING AT THE FARM

The chill November days drew to a close. The shrill winds whistled
through the branches of the trees, and stirred the leaves which lay
in brown heaps upon the ground. But at the end of the month came
Thanksgiving--the farmer’s Harvest Home. The fruits of the field were in
abundance but in many a home there were vacant chairs, never more, alas!
to be filled. But he who dies in a noble cause leaves sweet and fragrant
memories behind, which shall ever after make it pleasant to think of
him.

Thanksgiving morning dawned foggy and cold. Yet there is something in
the name that warms the heart and makes the dullest day seem bright. The
sunshine of the heart more than compensates for the absence of sunshine
without.

Frank had not been idle.

The night before he helped Jacob kill a turkey and a pair of chickens,
and seated on a box in the barn they had picked them clean in
preparation for the morrow.

Within the house, too, might be heard the notes of busy preparation.
Alice, sitting in a low chair, was busily engaged in chopping meat
for mince pies. Maggie sat near her paring pumpkins, for a genuine New
England Thanksgiving cannot be properly celebrated without pumpkin pies.
Even little Charlie found work to do in slicing apples.

By evening a long row of pies might be seen upon the kitchen dresser.
Brown and flaky they looked, fit for the table of a prince. So the
children thought as they surveyed the attractive array, and felt that
Thanksgiving, come as often as it might, could never be unwelcome.

Through the forenoon of Thanksgiving day the preparations continued.
Frank and Mr. Morton went to the village church, where an appropriate
service was held by Reverend Mr. Apthorp. There were but few of
the village matrons present. They were mostly detained at home by
housewifely cares, which on that day could not well be delegated to
other hands.

“Mr. Morton,” said Frank, as they walked leisurely home, “did you notice
how Squire Haynes stared at you this morning?”

Mr. Morton looked interested. “Did he?” he asked. “I did not notice.”

“Yes, he turned halfround, and looked at you with a puzzled expression,
as if he thought he had seen you somewhere before, but could not recall
who you were.”

“Perhaps I reminded him of some one he has known in past years,” said
the young man quietly. “We sometimes find strange resemblances in utter
strangers.”

“I think he must have felt quite interested,” pursued Frank, “for he
stopped me after church, and inquired who you were.”

“Indeed!” said Henry Morton quietly. “And what did you tell him?”

“I told him your name, and mentioned that you were boarding with us.”

“What then? Did he make any further inquiries?”

“He asked where you came from.”

“He seemed quite curious about me. I ought to feel flattered. And what
did you reply?”

“I told him I did not know--that I only knew that part of your life
had been passed in Europe. I heard him say under his breath, ‘It is
singular.’”

“Frank,” said Mr. Morton, after a moment’s thought, “I wish to have
Squire Haynes learn as little of me as possible. If, therefore, he
should ask you how I am employed, you say that I have come here for
the benefit of my health. This is one of my motives, though not the
principal one.”

“I will remember,” said Frank. “I don’t think he will say much to me,
however. He has a grudge against father, and his son does not like me.
I am sorry that father is compelled to have some business relations with
the squire.”

“Indeed!”

“Yes, he holds a mortgage on our farm for eight hundred dollars. It was
originally more, but it has been reduced to this. He will have the right
to foreclose on the first of July.”

“Shall you have the money ready for him at that time?”

“No; we may have half enough, perhaps. I am sometimes troubled when I
think of it. Father feels confident, however, that the squire will not
be hard upon us, but will renew the mortgage.”

Henry Morton looked very thoughtful, but said nothing.

They had now reached the farmhouse.

Dinner was already on the table. In the center, on a large dish, was
the turkey, done to a turn. It was flanked by the chickens on a smaller
dish. These were supported by various vegetables, such as the season
supplied. A dish of cranberry sauce stood at one end of the table, and
at the opposite end a dish of apple sauce.

“Do you think you can carve the turkey, Mr. Morton?” asked Mrs. Frost.

“I will at least make the attempt.”

“I want the wish-bone, Mr. Morton,” said Maggie.

“No, I want it,” said Charlie.

“You shall both have one,” said the mother. “Luckily each of the
chickens is provided with one.”

“I know what I am going to wish,” said Charlie, nodding his head with
decision.

“Well, Charlie, what is it?” asked Frank.

“I shall wish that papa may come home safe.”

“And so will I,” said Maggie.

“I wish he might sit down with us to-day,” said Mrs. Frost, with a
little sigh. “He has never before been absent from us on Thanksgiving
day.”

“Was he well when you last heard from him?”

“Yes, but hourly expecting orders to march to join the army in Maryland.
I am afraid he won’t get as good a Thanksgiving dinner as this.”

“Two years ago,” said Mr. Morton, “I ate my Thanksgiving dinner in
Amsterdam.”

“Do they have Thanksgiving there, Mr. Morton?” inquired Alice.

“No, they know nothing of our good New England festival. I was obliged
to order a special dinner for myself. I don’t think you would have
recognized plum pudding under the name which they gave it.”

“What was it?” asked Frank curiously.

“Blom buden was the name given on the bill.”

“I can spell better than that,” said Charlie.

“We shall have to send you out among the Dutchmen as a schoolmaster
plenipotentiary,” said Frank, laughing. “I hope the ‘blom buden’ was
good in spite of the way it was spelt.”

“Yes, it was very good.”

“I don’t believe it beat mother’s,” said Charlie.

“At your present rate of progress, Charlie, you won’t leave room for
any,” said Frank.

“I wish I had two stomachs,” said Charlie, looking regretfully at the
inviting delicacies which tempted him with what the French call the
embarrassment of riches.

“Well done, Charlie!” laughed his mother.

Dinner was at length over. Havoc and desolation reigned upon the once
well-filled table.

In the evening, as they all sat together round the table, Maggie climbed
on Mr. Morton’s knee and petitioned for a story.

“What shall it be about?” he asked.

“Oh, anything.”

“Let me think a moment,” said the young man.

He bent his eyes thoughtfully upon the wood-fire that crackled in the
wide-open fireplace, and soon signified that he was ready to begin.

All the children gathered around him, and even Mrs. Frost, sitting
quietly at her knitting, edged her chair a little nearer, that she, too,
might listen to Mr. Morton’s story. As this was of some length, we shall
devote to it a separate chapter.



CHAPTER XIX. THE WONDERFUL TRANSFORMATION

“My story,” commenced Mr. Morton, “is rather a remarkable one in some
respects; and I cannot vouch for its being true. I shall call it ‘The
Wonderful Transformation.’

“Thomas Tubbs was a prosperous little tailor, and for forty years had
been a resident of the town of Webbington, where he had been born and
brought up. I have called him little, and you will agree with me when I
say that, even in high-heeled boots, which he always wore, he measured
only four feet and a half in height.

“In spite, however, of his undersize, Thomas had succeeded in winning
the hand of a woman fifteen inches taller than himself. If this extra
height had been divided equally between them, possibly they might have
attracted less observation. As it was, when they walked to church, the
top of the little tailor’s beaver just about reached the shoulders of
Mrs. Tubbs. Nevertheless, they managed to live very happily together,
for the most part, though now and then, when Thomas was a little
refractory, his better half would snatch him up bodily, and, carrying
him to the cellar, lock him up there. Such little incidents only served
to spice their domestic life, and were usually followed by a warm
reconciliation.

“The happy pair had six children, all of whom took after their mother,
and promised to be tall; the oldest boy, twelve years of age, being
already taller than his father, or, rather, he would have been but for
the tall hat and high-heeled boots.

“Mr. Tubbs was a tailor, as I have said. One day there came into his
shop a man attired with extreme shabbiness. Thomas eyed him askance.

“‘Mr. Tubbs,’ said the stranger, ‘as you perceive, I am out at the
elbows. I would like to get you to make me up a suit of clothes.’

“‘Ahem!’ coughed Thomas, and glanced upward at a notice affixed to the
door, ‘Terms, Cash.’

“The stranger’s eye followed the direction of Mr. Tubbs’. He smiled.

“‘I frankly confess,’ he said, ‘that I shall not be able to pay
immediately, but, if I live, I will pay you within six months.’

“‘How am I to feel sure of that?’ asked the tailor, hesitating.

“‘I pledge my word,’ was the reply. ‘You see, Mr. Tubbs, I have been
sick for some time past, and that, of course, has used up my money. Now,
thank Providence, I am well again, and ready to go to work. But I need
clothes, as you see, before I have the ability to pay for them.’

“‘What’s your name?’ asked Thomas.

“‘Oswald Rudenheimer,’ was the reply.

“‘A foreigner?’

“‘As you may suppose. Now, Mr. Tubbs, what do you say? Do you think you
can trust me?’

“Thomas examined the face of his visitor. He looked honest, and the
little tailor had a good deal of confidence in the excellence of human
nature.

“‘I may be foolish,’ he said at last, ‘but I’ll do it.’

“‘A thousand thanks!’ said the stranger. ‘You sha’n’t repent of it.’

“The cloth was selected, and Thomas set to work. In three days the suit
was finished, and Thomas sat in his shop waiting for his customer. At
last he came, but what a change! He was splendidly dressed. The little
tailor hardly recognized him.

“‘Mr. Tubbs,’ said he, ‘you’re an honest man and a good fellow. You
trusted me when I appeared penniless, but I deceived you. I am really
one of the genii, of whom, perhaps, you have read, and lineally
descended from those who guarded Solomon’s seal. Instead of making you
wait for your pay, I will recompense you on the spot, either in money
or----’

“‘Or what? asked the astonished tailor.

“‘Or I will grant the first wish that may be formed in your mind. Now
choose.’

“Thomas did not take long to choose. His charge would amount to but
a few dollars, while he might wish for a million. He signified his
decision.

“‘Perhaps you have chosen wisely,’ said his visitor. ‘But mind that you
are careful about your wish. You may wish for something you don’t want.’

“‘No fear of that,’ said the tailor cheerfully.

“‘At any rate, I will come this way six months hence, and should you
then wish to be released from the consequences of your wish, and to
receive instead the money stipulated as the price of the suit, I will
give you the chance.’

“Of course, Thomas did not object, though he considered it rather a
foolish proposition.

“His visitor disappeared, and the tailor was left alone. He laid aside
his work. How could a man be expected to work who had only to wish, and
he could come into possession of more than he could earn in a hundred or
even a thousand years?

“‘I might as well enjoy myself a little,’ thought Mr. Tubbs. ‘Let me
see. I think there is a show in the village to-day. I’ll go to it.’

“He accordingly slipped on his hat and went out, somewhat to the
surprise of his wife, who concluded that her husband must be going out
on business.

“Thomas Tubbs wended his way to the marketplace. He pressed in among
the people, a crowd of whom had already assembled to witness the show.
I cannot tell you what the show was. I am only concerned in telling you
what Thomas Tubbs saw and did; and, to tell the plain truth, he didn’t
see anything at all. He was wedged in among people a foot or two taller
than himself. Now, it is not pleasant to hear all about you laughing
heartily and not even catch a glimpse of what amuses them so much.
Thomas Tubbs was human, and as curious as most people. Just as a
six-footer squeezed in front of him he could not help framing, in his
vexation, this wish:

“‘Oh, dear! I wish I were ten feet high!’

“Luckless Thomas Tubbs! Never had he framed a more unfortunate wish. On
the instant he shot up from an altitude of four feet six to ten feet.
Fortunately his clothes expanded proportionally. So, instead of being
below the medium height, he was raised more than four feet above it.

“Of course, his immediate neighbors became aware of the gigantic
presence, though they did not at all recognize its identity with the
little tailor, Thomas Tubbs.

“At once there was a shout of terror. The crowd scattered in all
directions, forgetting the spectacle at which, the moment before, they
had been laughing heartily, and the little tailor, no longer little, was
left alone in the market-place.

“‘Good heavens!’ he exclaimed in bewilderment, stretching out his
brawny arm, nearly five feet in length, and staring at it in ludicrous
astonishment, ‘who’d have thought that I should ever be so tall?’

“To tell the truth, the little man--I mean Mr. Tubbs--at first rather
enjoyed his new magnitude. He had experienced mortification so long on
account of his diminutive stature, that he felt a little exhilarated
at the idea of being able to look down on those to whom he had hitherto
felt compelled to look up. It was rather awkward to have people afraid
of him. As he turned to leave the square, for the exhibitor of the show
had run off in the general panic, he could see people looking at him
from third-story windows, and pointing at him with outstretched fingers
and mouths agape.

“‘Really,’ thought Thomas Tubbs, ‘I never expected to be such an object
of interest. I think I’ll go home.’

“His house was a mile off, but so large were his strides that five
minutes carried him to it.

“Now Mrs. Tubbs was busy putting the dinner on the table, and wondering
why her husband did not make his appearance. She was fully determined
to give him a scolding in case his delay was so great as to cause the
dinner to cool. All at once she heard a bustle at the door. Looking into
the entry, she saw a huge man endeavoring to make his entrance into
the house. As the portal was only seven feet in height, it was not
accomplished without a great deal of twisting and squirming.

“Mrs. Tubbs turned pale.

“‘What are you trying to do, you monster?’ she faltered.

“‘I have come home to dinner, Mary,’ was the meek reply.

“‘Come home to dinner!’ exclaimed Mrs. Tubbs, aghast. ‘Who in the name
of wonder are you, you overgrown brute?’

“‘Who am I? asked the giant, smiling feebly, for he began to feel a
little queer at this reception from the wife with whom he had lived for
fifteen years. ‘Ha! ha! don’t you know your own husband--your Tommy?’

“‘My husband!’ exclaimed Mrs. Tubbs, astonished at the fellow’s
impudence. ‘You, don’t mean to say that you are my husband?’

“‘Of course I am,’ said Thomas.

“‘Then,’ said Mrs. Tubbs, ‘I would have you know that my husband is a
respectable little man, not half your size.’

“‘Oh, dear!’ thought Thomas. ‘Well, here’s a kettle of fish; my own
wife won’t own me!’

“‘So I was,’ he said aloud. ‘I was only four feet six; but I’ve--I’ve
grown.’

“‘Grown!’ Mrs. Tubbs laughed hysterically. ‘That’s a likely story,
when it’s only an hour since my husband went into the street as short as
ever. I only wish he’d come in, I do, to expose your imposition.’

“‘But I have grown, Mary,’ said Tubbs piteously. ‘I was out in the
crowd, and I couldn’t see what was going on, and so I wished I was ten
feet high; and, before I knew it, I was as tall as I am now.’

“‘No doubt,’ said Mrs. Tubbs incredulously, ‘As to that, all I’ve got
to say is, that you’d better wish yourself back again, as I sha’n’t own
you as my husband till you do!’

“‘Really,’ thought Mr. Tubbs, ‘this is dreadful! What can I do!’

“Just then one of his children ran into the room.

“‘Johnny, come to me,’ said his father imploringly. ‘Come to your
father.’

“‘My father!’ said Johnny, shying out of the room. ‘You ain’t my
father. My father isn’t as tall as a tree.’

“‘You see how absurd your claim is,’ said Mrs. Tubbs. ‘You’ll oblige me
by leaving the house directly.’

“‘Leave the house--my house!’ said Tubbs.

“‘If you don’t, I’ll call in the neighbors,’ said the courageous woman.

“‘I don’t believe they’d dare to come,’ said Tubbs, smiling queerly at
the recollection of what a sensation his appearance had made.

“‘Won’t you go?’

“‘At least you’ll let me have some dinner. I am ‘most famished.’

“‘Dinner!” said Mrs. Tubbs, hesitating. ‘I don’t think there’s enough
in the house. However, you can sit down to the table.’

“Tubbs attempted to sit down on a chair, but his weight was so great
that it was crushed beneath him. Finally, he was compelled to sit on
the floor, and even then his stature was such that his head rose to the
height of six feet.

“What an enormous appetite he had, too! The viands on the table seemed
nothing. He at first supplied his plate with the usual quantity; but as
the extent of his appetite became revealed to him, he was forced to make
away with everything on the table. Even then he was hungry.

“‘Well, I declare,’ thought Mrs. Tubbs, in amazement, ‘it does take an
immense quantity to keep him alive!’

“Tubbs rose from the table, and, in doing so, hit his head a smart whack
against the ceiling. Before leaving the house he turned to make a last
appeal to his wife, who, he could not help seeing, was anxious to have
him go.

“‘Won’t you own me, Mary?’ he asked. ‘It isn’t my fault that I am so
big.’

“‘Own you!’ exclaimed his wife. ‘I wouldn’t own you for a mint of
money. You’d eat me out of house and home in less than a week.’

“‘I don’t know but I should,’ said Mr. Tubbs mournfully. ‘I don’t see
what gives me such an appetite. I’m hungry now.’

“‘Hungry, after you’ve eaten enough for six!’ exclaimed his wife,
aghast. ‘Well, I never!’

“‘Then you won’t let me stay, Mary?’

“‘No, no.’

“With slow and sad strides Thomas Tubbs left the house. The world seemed
dark enough to the poor fellow. Not only was he disowned by his wife and
children, but he could not tell how he should ever earn enough to keep
him alive, with the frightful appetite which he now possessed. ‘I don’t
know,’ he thought, ‘but the best way is to drown myself at once.’ So he
walked to the river, but found it was not deep enough to drown him.

“As he emerged from the river uncomfortably wet, he saw a man timidly
approaching him. It proved to be the manager of the show.

“‘Hello!’ said he hesitatingly.

“‘Hello!’ returned Tubbs disconsolately.

“‘Would you like to enter into a business engagement with me?’

“‘Of what sort?’ asked Tubbs, brightening up.

“‘To be exhibited,’ was the reply. ‘You’re the largest man living in
the world. We could make a pretty penny together.’

“Tubbs was glad enough to accept this proposition, which came to him
like a plank to a drowning man. Accordingly an agreement was made that,
after deducting expenses, he should share profits with the manager.

“It proved to be a great success. From all quarters people flocked to
see the great prodigy, the wonder of the world, as he was described in
huge posters. Scientific men wrote learned papers in which they strove
to explain his extraordinary height, and, as might be expected, no two
assigned the same cause.

“At the end of six months Tubbs had five thousand dollars as his share
of the profits. But after all he was far from happy. He missed
the society of his wife and children, and shed many tears over his
separation from them.

“At the end of six months his singular customer again made his
appearance.

“‘It seems to me you’ve altered some since I last saw you,’ he said,
with a smile.

“‘Yes,’ said Tubbs dolefully.

“‘You don’t like the change, I judge?’

“‘No,’ said Tubbs. ‘It separates me from my wife and children, and that
makes me unhappy.’

“‘Would you like to be changed back again!’

“‘Gladly,’ was the reply.

“Presto! the wonderful giant was changed back into the little tailor. No
sooner was this effected than he returned post-haste to Webbington. His
wife received him with open arms.

“‘Oh, Thomas,’ she exclaimed, ‘how could you leave us so? On the day of
your disappearance a huge brute of a man came here and pretended to be
you, but I soon sent him away.’

“Thomas wisely said nothing, but displayed his five thousand dollars.
There was great joy in the little dwelling. Thomas Tubbs at once took a
larger shop, and grew every year in wealth and public esteem. The
only way in which he did not grow was in stature; but his six months’
experience as a giant had cured him of any wish of that sort. The last I
heard of him was his election to the legislature.”

“That’s a bully story,” said Charlie, using a word which he had heard
from older boys. “I wish I was a great tall giant.”

“What would you do if you were, Charlie?”

“I’d go and fight the rebels,” said Charlie manfully.



CHAPTER XX. POMP’S EDUCATION COMMENCES

In the season of leisure from farm work which followed, Frank found
considerable time for study. The kind sympathy and ready assistance
given by Mr. Morton made his task a very agreeable one, and his progress
for a time was as rapid as if he had remained at school.

He also assumed the office of teacher, having undertaken to give a
little elementary instruction to Pomp. Here his task was beset with
difficulties. Pomp was naturally bright, but incorrigibly idle.
His activity was all misdirected and led him into a wide variety of
mischief. He had been sent to school, but his mischievous propensities
had so infected the boys sitting near him that the teacher had been
compelled to request his removal.

Three times in the week, during the afternoon, Pomp came over to the
farm for instruction. On the first of these occasions we will look in
upon him and his teacher.

Pomp is sitting on a cricket by the kitchen fire. He has a primer open
before him at the alphabet. His round eyes are fixed upon the page as
long as Frank is looking at him, but he requires constant watching. His
teacher sits near-by, with a Latin dictionary resting upon a light stand
before him, and a copy of Virgil’s Aeneid in his hand.

“Well, Pomp, do you think you know your lesson?” he asks.

“Dunno, Mass’ Frank; I reckon so.”

“You may bring your book to me, and I will try you.”

Pomp rose from his stool and sidled up to Frank with no great alacrity.

“What’s that letter, Pomp?” asked the young teacher, pointing out the
initial letter of the alphabet.

Pomp answered correctly.

“And what is the next?”

Pomp shifted from one foot to the other, and stared vacantly out of the
window, but said nothing.

“Don’t you know?”

“‘Pears like I don’t ‘member him, Mass’ Frank.”

Here Frank had recourse to a system of mnemonics frequently resorted to
by teachers in their extremity.

“What’s the name of the little insect that stings people sometimes,
Pomp?”

“Wasp, Mass’ Frank,” was the confident reply.

“No, I don’t mean that. I mean the bee.”

“Yes, Mass’ Frank.”

“Well, this is B.”

Pomp looked at it attentively, and, after a pause, inquired, “Where’s
him wings, Mass’ Frank?”

Frank bit his lips to keep from laughing. “I don’t mean that this is a
bee that makes honey,” he explained, “only it has the same name. Now do
you think you can remember how it is called?” “Bumblebee!” repeated Pomp
triumphantly.

Pomp’s error was corrected, and the lesson proceeded.

“What is the next letter?” asked Frank, indicating it with the point of
his knife-blade.

“X,” answered the pupil readily.

“No, Pomp,” was the dismayed reply. “It is very different from X.”

“Dat’s him name at school,” said Pomp positively.

“No, Pomp, you are mistaken. That is X, away down there.”

“Perhaps him change his name,” suggested Pomp.

“No. The letters never change their names. I don’t think you know your
lesson, Pomp. just listen to me while I tell you the names of some of
the letters, and try to remember them.”

When this was done, Pomp was directed to sit down on the cricket, and
study his lesson for twenty Minutes, at the end of which he might again
recite.

Pomp sat down, and for five minutes seemed absorbed in his book. Then,
unfortunately, the cat walked into the room, and soon attracted the
attention of the young student. He sidled from his seat so silently that
Frank did not hear him. He was soon made sensible that Pomp was engaged
in some mischief by hearing a prolonged wail of anguish from the cat.

Looking up, he found that his promising pupil had tied her by the leg to
a chair, and under these circumstances was amusing himself by pinching
her tail.

“What are you doing there, Pomp?” he asked quickly.

Pomp scuttled back to his seat, and appeared to be deeply intent upon
his primer.

“Ain’t doin’ noffin’, Mass’ Frank,” he answered innocently.

“Then how came the cat tied to that chair?”

“‘Spec’ she must have tied herself.”

“Come, Pomp, you know better than that. You know cats can’t tie
themselves. Get up immediately and unfasten her.”

Pomp rose with alacrity, and undertook to release puss from the thraldom
of which she had become very impatient. Perhaps she would have been
quite as well off if she had been left to herself. The process of
liberation did not appear to be very agreeable, judging from the angry
mews which proceeded from her. Finally, in her indignation against Pomp
for some aggressive act, she scratched him sharply.

“You wicked old debble!” exclaimed Pomp wrathfully.

He kicked at the cat; but she was lucky enough to escape, and ran out of
the room as fast as her four legs could carry her.

“Big ugly debble!” muttered Pomp, watching the blood ooze from his
finger.

“What’s the matter, Pomp?”

“Old cat scratch me.”

“And what did you do to her, Pomp? I am afraid you deserved your
scratch.”

“Didn’t do noffin’, Mass’ Frank,” said Pomp virtuously.

“I don’t think you always tell the truth, Pomp.”

“Can’t help it, Mass’ Frank. ‘Spec’ I’ve got a little debble inside of
me.”

“What do you mean, Pomp! What put that idea in your head?”

“Dat’s what mammy says. Dat’s what she al’ays tells me.”

“Then,” said Frank, “I think it will be best to whip it out of you.
Where’s my stick?”

“Oh, no, Mass’ Frank,” said Pomp, in alarm; “I’ll be good, for sure.”

“Then sit down and get your lesson.”

Again Pomp assumed his cricket. Before he had time to devise any new
mischief, Mrs. Frost came to the head of the stairs and called Frank.

Frank laid aside his books, and presented himself at the foot of the
stairs.

“I should like your help a few minutes. Can you leave your studies?”

“Certainly, mother.”

Before going up, he cautioned Pomp to study quietly, and not get into
any mischief while he was gone. Pomp promised very readily.

Frank had hardly got upstairs before his pupil rose from the cricket,
and began to look attentively about him. His first proceeding was to,
hide his primer carefully in Mrs. Frost’s work-basket, which lay on the
table. Then, looking curiously about him, his attention was drawn to the
old-fashioned clock that stood in the corner.

Now, Pomp’s curiosity had been strongly excited by this clock. It was
not quite clear to him how the striking part was effected. Here seemed
to be a favorable opportunity for instituting an investigation. Pomp
drew his cricket to, the clock, and, opening it, tried to reach up to
the face. But he was not yet high enough. He tried a chair, and still
required a greater elevation. Espying Frank’s Latin dictionary, he
pressed that into service.

By and by Frank and his mother heard the clock striking an unusual
number of times.

“What is the matter with the clock?” inquired Mrs. Frost.

“I don’t know,” said Frank unsuspiciously.

“It has struck ten times, and it is only four o’ clock.”

“I wonder if Pomp can have got at it,” said Frank, with a sudden
thought.

He ran downstairs hastily.

Pomp heard him coming, and in his anxiety to escape detection, contrived
to lose his balance and fall to the floor. As he fell, he struck
the table, on which a pan of sour milk had been placed, and it was
overturned, deluging poor Pomp with the unsavory fluid.

Pomp shrieked and kicked most energetically. His appearance, as he
picked himself up, was ludicrous in the extreme. His sable face was
plentifully besprinkled with clotted milk, giving him the appearance
of a negro who is coming out white in spots. The floor was swimming in
milk. Luckily the dictionary had fallen clear of it, and so escaped.

“Is this the way you study?” demanded Frank, as sternly as his sense of
the ludicrous plight in which he found Pomp would permit.

For once Pomp’s ready wit deserted him. He had nothing to say.

“Go out and wash yourself.”

Pomp came back rather shamefaced, his face restored to its original
color.

“Now, where is your book?”

Pomp looked about him, but, as he took good care not to look where he
knew his book to be, of course he did not find it.

“I ‘clare, Mass’ Frank, it done lost,” he at length asserted.

“How can it be lost when you had it only a few minutes ago?”

“I dunno,” answered Pomp stolidly.

“Have you been out of the room?”

Pomp answered in the negative.

“Then it must be somewhere here.”

Frank went quietly to the corner of the room and took therefrom a stick.

“Now, Pomp,” he said, “I will give you just two minutes to find the book
in. If you don’t find it, I shall have to give you a whipping.”

Pomp looked at his teacher to see if he was in earnest. Seeing that he
was, he judged it best to find the book.

Looking into the work-box, he said innocently: “I ‘clare to gracious,
Mass’ Frank, if it hasn’t slipped down yere. Dat’s mi’ty cur’s, dat is.”

“Pomp, sit down,” said Frank. “I am going to talk to you seriously. What
makes you tell so many lies?”

“Dunno any better,” replied Pomp, grinning.

“Yes, you do, Pomp. Doesn’t your mother tell you not to lie?”

“Lor’, Mass’ Frank, she’s poor ignorant nigger. She don’t know nuffin’.”

“You mustn’t speak so of your mother. She brings you up as well as she
knows how. She has to work hard for you, and you ought to love her.”

“So I do, ‘cept when she licks me.”

“If you behave properly she won’t whip you. You’ll grow up a ‘poor,
ignorant nigger’ yourself, if you don’t study.”

“Shall I get white, Mass’ Frank, if I study?” asked Pomp, showing a
double row of white teeth.

“You were white enough just now,” said Frank, smiling.

“Yah, yah!” returned Pomp, who appreciated the joke.

“Now, Pomp,” Frank continued seriously, “if you will learn your lesson
in fifteen minutes I will give you a piece of gingerbread.”

“I’ll do it, Mass’ Frank,” said Pomp promptly.

Pomp was very fond of gingerbread, as Frank very well knew. In the time
specified the lesson was got, and recited satisfactorily.

As Pomp’s education will not again be referred to, it may be said that
when Frank had discovered how to manage him, he learned quite rapidly.
Chloe, who was herself unable to read, began to look upon Pomp with
a new feeling of respect when she found that he could read stories in
words of one syllable, and the “lickings” of which he complained became
less frequent. But his love of fun still remained, and occasionally got
him into trouble, as we shall hereafter have occasion to see.



CHAPTER XXI. THE BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG

About the middle of December came the sad tragedy of Fredericksburg,
in which thousands of our gallant soldiers yielded up their lives in a
hard, unequal struggle, which brought forth nothing but mortification
and disaster.

The first telegrams which appeared in the daily papers brought anxiety
and bodings of ill to many households. The dwellers at the farm were
not exempt. They had been apprised by a recent letter that Mr. Frost’s
regiment now formed a part of the grand army which lay encamped on
the eastern side of the Rappahannock. The probability was that he was
engaged in the battle. Frank realized for the first time to what peril
his father was exposed, and mingled with the natural feeling which such
a thought was likely to produce was the reflection that, but for him,
his father would have been in safety at home.

“Did I do right?” Frank asked himself anxiously, the old doubt recurring
once more.

Then, above the selfish thought of peril to him and his, rose the
consideration of the country’s need, and Frank said to himself, “I have
done right--whatever happens. I feel sure of that.”

Yet his anxiety was by no means diminished, especially when, a day or
two afterward, tidings of the disaster came to hand, only redeemed by
the masterly retreat across the river, in which a great army, without
the loss of a single gun, ambulance, or wagon, withdrew from the scene
of a hopeless struggle, under the very eyes of the enemy, yet escaping
discovery.

One afternoon Frank went to the post-office a little after the usual
time. As he made his way through a group at the door, he notice
compassionate glances directed toward him.

His heart gave a sudden bound.

“Has anything happened to my father?” he inquired, with pale face. “Have
any of you heard anything?”

“He is wounded, Frank,” said the nearest bystander.

“Show it to me,” said Frank.

In the evening paper, which was placed in his hands, he read a single
line, but of fearful import: “Henry Frost, wounded.” Whether the wound
was slight or serious, no intimation was given.

Frank heaved a sigh of comparative relief. His father was not dead, as
he at first feared. Yet he felt that the suspense would be a serious
trial. He did not know how to tell his mother. She met him at the gate.
His serious face and lagging steps revealed the truth, exciting at first
apprehensions of something even more serious.

For two days they remained without news. Then came a letter from the
absent father, which wonderfully lightened all their hearts. The fact
that he was able to write a long letter with his own hand showed plainly
that his wound must be a trifling one. The letter ran thus:


“DEAR MARY: I fear that the report of my wound will reach you before
this letter comes to assure you that it is a mere scratch, and scarcely
worth a thought. I cannot for an instant think of it, when I consider
how many of our poor fellows have been mown down by instant death, or
are now lying with ghastly wounds on pallets in the hospital. We have
been through a fearful trial, and the worst thought is that our losses
are not compensated by a single advantage.

“Before giving you an account of it from the point of view of a private
soldier, let me set your mind at rest by saying that my injury is only a
slight flesh-wound in the arm, which will necessitate my carrying it in
a sling for a few days; that is all.

“Early on the morning of Thursday, the 10th inst., the first act in the
great drama commenced with laying the pontoon bridges over which our men
were to make their way into the rebel city. My own division was to cross
directly opposite the city. All honor to the brave men who volunteered
to lay the bridges. It was a trying and perilous duty. On the other
side, in rifle-pits and houses at the brink of the river, were posted
the enemy’s sharpshooters, and these at a given signal opened fire upon
our poor fellows who were necessarily unprotected. The firing was so
severe and deadly, and impossible to escape from, that for the time
we were obliged to desist. Before anything could be effected it became
clear that the sharpshooters must be dislodged.

“Then opened the second scene.

“A deluge of shot and shell from our side of the river rained upon the
city, setting some buildings on fire, and severely damaging others. It
was a most exciting spectacle to us who watched from the bluffs, knowing
that ere long we must make the perilous passage and confront the foe,
the mysterious silence of whose batteries inspired alarm, as indicating
a consciousness of power.

“The time of our trial came at length.

“Toward the close of the afternoon General Howard’s division, to which I
belong, crossed the pontoon bridge whose building had cost us more than
one gallant soldier. The distance was short, for the Rappahannock at
this point is not more than a quarter of a mile wide. In a few minutes
we were marching through the streets of Fredericksburg. We gained
possession of the lower streets, but not without some street fighting,
in which our brigade lost about one hundred in killed and wounded.

“For the first time I witnessed violent death. The man marching by
my side suddenly reeled, and, pressing his hand to his breast, fell
forward. Only a moment before he had spoken to me, saying, ‘I think we
are going to have hot work.’ Now he was dead, shot through the heart. I
turned sick with horror, but there was no time to pause. We must march
on, not knowing that our turn might not come next. Each of us felt that
he bore his life in his hand.

“But this was soon over, and orders came that we should bivouac for the
night. You will not wonder that I lay awake nearly the whole night. A
night attack was possible, and the confusion and darkness would have
made it fearful. As I lay awake I could not help thinking how anxious
you would feel if you had known where I was.

“So closed the first day.

“The next dawned warm and pleasant. In the quiet of the morning it
seemed hard to believe that we were on the eve of a bloody struggle.
Discipline was not very strictly maintained. Some of our number left the
ranks and ransacked the houses, more from curiosity than the desire to
pillage.

“I went down to the bank of the river, and took a look at the bridge
which it had cost us so much trouble to throw across. It bore frequent
marks of the firing of the day previous.

“At one place I came across an old negro, whose white head and wrinkled
face indicated an advanced age. Clinging to him were two children, of
perhaps four and six years of age, who had been crying.

“‘Don’t cry, honey,’ I heard him say soothingly, wiping the tears from
the cheeks of the youngest with a coarse cotton handkerchief.

“‘I want mama,’ said the child piteously.

“A sad expression came over the old black’s face.

“‘What is the matter?’ I asked, advancing toward him.

“‘She is crying for her mother,’ he said.

“‘Is she dead?’

“‘Yes, sir; she’d been ailing for a long time, and the guns of
yesterday hastened her death.’

“‘Where did you live?’

“‘In that house yonder, sir.’

“‘Didn’t you feel afraid when we fired on the town?’

“‘We were all in the cellar, sir. One shot struck the house, but did
not injure it much.’

“‘You use very good language,’ I could not help saying.

“‘Yes, sir; I have had more advantages than most of--of my class.’
These last words he spoke rather bitterly. ‘When I was a young man my
master amused himself with teaching me; but he found I learned so fast
that he stopped short. But I carried it on by myself.’

“‘Didn’t you find that difficult?’

“‘Yes, sir; but my will was strong. I managed to get books, now one
way, now another. I have read considerable, sir.’

“This he said with some pride.

“‘Have you ever read Shakespeare?’

“‘In part, sir; but I never could get hold of “Hamlet.” I have always
wanted to read that play.’

“I drew him out, and was astonished at the extent of his information,
and the intelligent judgment which he expressed.

“‘I wonder that, with your acquirements, you should have been content
to remain in a state of slavery.’

“‘Content!’ he repeated bitterly. ‘Do you think I have been content?
No, sir. Twice I attempted to escape. Each time I was caught, dragged
back, and cruelly whipped. Then I was sold to the father of these little
ones. He treated me so well, and I was getting so old, that I gave up
the idea of running away.’

“‘And where is he now?’

“‘He became a colonel in the Confederate service, and was killed at
Antietam. Yesterday my mistress died, as I have told you.’

“‘And are you left in sole charge of these little children?’

“‘Yes, sir.’

“‘Have they no relatives living?’

“‘Their uncle lives in Kentucky. I shall try to carry them there.’

“‘But you will find it hard work. You have only to cross the river, and
in our lines you will be no longer a slave.’

“‘I know it, sir. Three of my children have got their freedom, thank
God, in that way. But I can’t leave these children.’

“I looked down at them. They were beautiful children. The youngest was
a girl, with small features, dark hair, and black eyes. The boy, of six,
was pale and composed, and uttered no murmur. Both clung confidently to
the old negro.

“I could not help admiring the old man, who could resist the prospect of
freedom, though he had coveted it all his life, in order to remain loyal
to his trust. I felt desirous of drawing him out on the subject of the
war.

“‘What do you think of this war?’ I asked.

“He lifted up his hand, and in a tone of solemnity, said, ‘I think it is
the cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, that’s going to draw
us out of our bondage into the Promised Land.’

“I was struck by his answer.

“‘Do many of you--I mean of those who have not enjoyed your advantages
of education--think so?’

“‘Yes, sir; we think it is the Lord’s doings, and it is marvelous in
our eyes. It’s a time of trial and of tribulation; but it isn’t a-going
to last. The children of Israel were forty years in the wilderness, and
so it may be with us. The day of deliverance will come.’

“At this moment the little girl began again to cry, and he addressed
himself to soothe her.

“This was not the only group I encountered. Some women had come, down
to the river with children half-bereft of their senses--some apparently
supposing that we should rob or murder them. The rebel leaders and
newspapers have so persistently reiterated these assertions, that they
have come to believe them.

“The third day was unusually lovely, but our hearts were too anxious to
admit of our enjoying it. The rebels were entrenched on heights behind
the town. It was necessary that these should be taken, and about
noon the movement commenced. Our forces marched steadily across the
intervening plain. The rebels reserved their fire till we were half-way
across, and then from all sides burst forth the deadly fire. We were
completely at their mercy. Twenty men in my own company fell dead or
wounded, among them the captain and first lieutenant. Of what followed I
can give you little idea. I gave myself up for lost. A desperate impulse
enabled me to march on to what seemed certain destruction. All at once
I felt a sensation of numbness in my left arm, and looking down, I saw
that the blood was trickling from it.

“But I had little time to think of myself. Hearing a smothered groan, I
looked round, and saw Frank Grover, pale and reeling.

“‘I’m shot in the leg,’ he said. ‘Don’t leave me here. Help me along,
and I will try to keep up with you.’

“The poor lad leaned upon me, and we staggered forward. But not for
long. A stone wall stared us in the face. Here rebel sharpshooters had
been stationed, and they opened a galling fire upon us. We returned it,
but what could we do? We were compelled to retire, and did so in good
order, but unfortunately not until the sharpshooters had picked off some
of our best men.

“Among the victims was the poor lad whom I assisted. A second bullet
struck him in the heart. He uttered just one word, ‘mother,’ and fell.
Poor boy, and poor mother! He seemed to have a premonition of his
approaching death, and requested me the day previous to take charge of
his effects, and send them with his love and a lock of his hair to
his mother if anything should befall him. This request I shall at once
comply with. I have succeeded in getting the poor fellow’s body brought
to camp, where it will be decently buried, and have cut from his head
two brown locks, one for his mother, and one for myself.

“At last we got back with ranks fearfully diminished. Many old familiar
faces were gone--the faces of those now lying stiff and stark in death.
More were groaning with anguish in the crowded hospital. My own wound
was too trifling to require much attention. I shall have to wear a sling
for a few days perhaps.

“There is little more to tell. Until Tuesday evening we maintained our
position in daily expectation of an attack. But none was made. This was
more fortunate for us. I cannot understand what withheld the enemy from
an assault.

“On Tuesday suddenly came the order to re-cross the river. It was a
stormy and dreary night, and so, of course, favorable to our purpose.
The maneuver was executed in silence, and with commendable expedition.
The rebels appeared to have no suspicion of General Burnside’s
intentions. The measured beat of our double quick was drowned by the
fury of the storm, and with minds relieved, though bodies drenched,
we once more found ourselves with the river between us and our foes.
Nothing was left behind.

“Here we are again, but not all of us. Many a brave soldier has breathed
his last, and lies under the sod. ‘God’s ways are dark, but soon or late
they touch the shining hills of day.’ So sings our own Whittier, and so
I believe, in spite of the sorrowful disaster which we have met with. It
is all for the best if we could but see it.

“Our heavy losses of officers have rendered some new appointments
necessary. Our second lieutenant has been made captain. The orderly
sergeant and second sergeant are now our lieutenants, and the line of
promotion has even reached me. I am a corporal.

“I have been drawn into writing a very long letter, and I must now
close, with the promise of writing again very soon. After I have
concluded, I must write to poor Frank Grover’s mother. May God comfort
her, for she has lost a boy of whom any mother might feel proud.

“With love to the children, I remain, as ever, your affectionate
husband. HENRY FROST.”


“How terrible it must have been,” said Mrs. Frost, with a shudder, as
she folded up the letter and laid it down. “We ought indeed to feel
thankful that your father’s life was spared.”

“If I were three years older, I might have been in the battle,” thought
Frank.



CHAPTER XXII. FRANK BROACHES A NEW PLAN

For some time Frank had been revolving in his mind the feasibility of a
scheme which he hoped to be able to carry into execution. It was no less
than this--to form a military company among the boys, which should
be organized and drilled in all respects like those composed of older
persons. He did not feel like taking any steps in the matter till he had
consulted with some one in whose judgment he had confidence.

One evening he mentioned his plan to Mr. Morton.

“It is a capital idea, Frank,” said the young man, with warm approval.
“If I can be of service to you in this matter, it will afford me much
pleasure.”

“There is one difficulty,” suggested Frank. “None of us boys know
anything about military tactics, and we shall need instruction to begin
with; but where we are to find a teacher I am sure I can’t tell.”

“I don’t think you will have to look far,” said Mr. Morton, with a
smile.

“Are you acquainted with the manual?” asked Frank eagerly.

“I believe so. You see you have not yet got to the end of my
accomplishments. I shall be happy to act as your drill-master until some
one among your number is competent to take my place. I can previously
give you some private lessons, if you desire it.”

“There’s nothing I should like better, Mr. Morton,” said Frank joyfully.

“Have you got a musket in the house, then? We shall get along better
with one.”

“There’s one in the attic.”

“Very well; if you will get it, we can make a beginning now.”

Frank went in search of the musket; but in his haste tumbled down the
attic stairs, losing his grasp of the musket, which fell down with a
clatter.

Mrs. Frost, opening the door of her bedroom in alarm, saw Frank on his
back with the musket lying across his chest.

“What’s the matter?” she asked, not a little startled.

Frank got up rubbing himself and looking rather foolish.

“Nothing, mother; only I was in a little too much of a hurry.”

“What are you going to do with that musket, Frank?”

“Mr. Morton is going to teach me the manual, that is all, mother.”

“I suppose the first position is horizontal,” said his mother, with a
smile.

“I don’t like that position very well,” returned Frank, with a laugh. “I
prefer the perpendicular.”

Under his friend’s instructions, Frank progressed rapidly. At the end of
the third lesson, Mr. Morton said, “You are nearly as competent to give
instructions now as I am. There are some things, however, that cannot be
learned alone. You had better take measures to form your company.”

Frank called upon Mr. Rathburn, the principal of the academy, and after
communicating his plan, which met with the teacher’s full approval,
arranged to have notice given of a meeting of the boys immediately after
the afternoon session.

On Thursday afternoon when the last class had recited, previous to
ringing the bell, which was a signal that school was over, Mr. Rathburn
gave this brief notice:

“I am requested to ask the boys present to remain in their seats, and in
which I think they will all feel interested.”

Looks of curiosity were interchanged among the boys, and every one
thought, “What’s coming now?”

At this moment a modest knock was heard, and Mr. Rathburn, going to the
door, admitted Frank. He quietly slipped into the nearest seat.

“Your late schoolfellow, Frank Frost,” proceeded Mr. Rathburn, “has the
merit of originating the plan to which I have referred, and he is no
doubt prepared to unfold it to you.”

Mr. Rathburn put on his hat and coat, and left the schoolroom. After his
departure Frank rose and spoke modestly, thus:

“Boys, I have been thinking for some time past that we were not doing
all that we ought in this crisis, which puts in such danger the
welfare of our country. If anything, we boys ought to feel more deeply
interested than our elders, for while they will soon pass off the stage
we have not yet reached even the threshold of manhood. You will ask me
what we can do. Let me remind you that when the war broke out the great
want was, not of volunteers, but of men trained to military exercises.
Our regiments were at first composed wholly of raw recruits. In Europe,
military instruction is given as a matter of course; and in Germany, and
perhaps other countries, young men are obliged to serve for a time in
the army.

“I think we ought to profit by the lessons of experience. However the
present war may turn out, we cannot be certain that other wars will not
at some time break out. By that time we shall have grown to manhood, and
the duty of defending our country in arms will devolve upon us. Should
that time come, let it not find us unprepared. I propose that we
organize a military company among the boys, and meet for drill at
such times as we may hereafter agree upon. I hope that any who feel
interested in the matter will express their opinions freely.”

Frank sat down, and a number of the boys testified their approbation by
stamping with their feet.

John Haynes rose, with a sneer upon his face.

“I would humbly inquire, Mr. Chairman, for you appear to have assumed
that position, whether you intend to favor us with your valuable
services as drillmaster.”

Frank rose, with a flushed face.

“I am glad to be reminded of one thing, which I had forgotten,” he said.
“As this is a meeting for the transaction of business, it is proper that
it should be regularly organized. Will some one nominate a chairman?”

“Frank Frost!” exclaimed half a dozen voices.

“I thank you for the nomination,” said Frank, “but as I have something
further to communicate to the meeting, it will be better to select some
one else.”

“I nominate Charles Reynolds,” said one voice.

“Second the motion,” said another.

“Those who are in favor of Charles Reynolds, as chairman of this
meeting, will please signify it in the usual manner,” said Frank.

Charles Reynolds, being declared duly elected, advanced to the teacher’s
chair.

“Mr. Chairman,” said Frank, “I will now answer the question just put
to me. I do not propose to offer my services as drill-master, but I am
authorized to say that a gentleman whom you have all seen, Mr. Henry
Morton, is willing to give instruction till you are sufficiently
advanced to get along without it.”

John Haynes, who felt disappointed at not having been called upon
to preside over the meeting, determined to make as much trouble as
possible.

“How are we to know that this Morton is qualified to give instruction?”
 he asked, looking round at the boys.

“The gentleman is out of order. He will please address his remarks to
the Chair, and not to the audience,” said the presiding officer.

“I beg pardon, Mr. Chairman,” said John mockingly. “I forgot how
tenacious some people are of their brief authority.”

“Order! order!” called half a dozen voices.

“The gentleman will come to order,” said the chairman firmly, “and make
way for others unless he can treat the Chair with proper respect.”

“Mr. Chairman,” said Frank, rising, “I will mention, for the general
information, that Mr. Morton has acted as an officer of militia, and
that I consider his offer a kind one, since it will take up considerable
of his time and put him to some trouble.”

“I move that Mr. Morton’s offer be accepted, with thanks,” said Henry
Tufts.

The motion was seconded by Tom Wheeler, and carried unanimously, with
the exception of one vote. John Haynes sat sullenly in his seat and took
no part in it.

“Who shall belong to the company?” asked the chairman. “Shall a fixed
age be required?”

“I move that the age be fixed at eleven,” said Robert Ingalls.

This was objected to as too young, and twelve was finally fixed upon.

John Haynes moved not to admit any one who did not attend the academy.
Of course, this would exclude Frank, and his motion was not seconded.

It was finally decided to admit any above the age of twelve who desired
it, but the boys reserved to themselves the right of rejecting any who
should conduct himself in a manner to bring disgrace upon them.

“Mr. Chairman,” said Frank, “in order to get under way as soon as
possible, I have written down an agreement to which those who wish to
join our proposed company can sign their names. If anybody can think of
anything better, I shall be glad to have it adopted instead of this.”

He handed a sheet of paper to the chairman, who read from it the
following form of agreement: “We, the subscribers, agree to form a boys’
volunteer company, and to conform to the regulations which may hereafter
be made for its government.”

“If there is no objection, we will adopt this form, and subscribe our
names,” said the chairman.

The motion for adoption being carried, the boys came up one by one and
signed their names.

John Haynes would have held back, but for the thought that he might be
elected an officer of the new company.

“Is there any further business to come before the meeting?” inquired the
presiding officer.

“The boys at Webbington had a company three or four years ago,” said Joe
Barry, “and they used wooden guns.”

“Wooden guns!” exclaimed Wilbur Summerfield disdainfully. “You won’t
catch me training round town with a wooden gun.”

“I would remind the last three gentlemen that their remarks should be
addressed to the Chair,” said the presiding officer. “Of course, I don’t
care anything about it, but I think you would all prefer to have the
meeting conducted properly.”

“That’s so!” exclaimed several boys.

“Then,” said the chairman, “I shall call to order any boy who addresses
the meeting except through me.”

“Mr. Chairman,” said Frank, rising, “as to the wooden guns, I quite
agree with the last speaker. It would seem too much like boy’s play, and
we are too much in earnest for that. I have thought of an arrangement
which can be made if the Selectmen will give their consent. Ten or
fifteen years ago, longer than most of us can remember, as my father
has told me, there was a militia company in Rossville, whose arms were
supplied and owned by the town. When the company was disbanded the
muskets went back to the town, and I believe they are now kept in the
basement of the Town Hall. I presume that we can have the use of them
on application. I move that a committee be appointed to lay the matter
before the Selectmen and ask their permission.”

His motion was agreed to.

“I will appoint John Haynes to serve on that committee,” said the
chairman, after a pause.

This was a politic appointment, as Squire Haynes was one of the
Selectmen, and would be gratified at the compliment paid to his son.

“I accept the duty,” said John, rising, and speaking in a tone of
importance.

“Is there any other business to come before the meeting?”

“I should like to inquire, Mr. Chairman, when our first meeting will
take place, and where is it to be?” asked Herbert Metcalf.

“I will appoint as a committee to make the necessary arrangements, Frank
Frost, Tom Wheeler, and Robert Ingalls. Due notice will be given in
school of the time and place selected, and a written notice will also be
posted up in the postoffice.”

“Would it not be well, Mr. Chairman,” suggested Frank, “to circulate
an invitation to other boys not present to-day to join the company? The
larger our number, the more interest will be felt. I can think of quite
a number who would be valuable members. There are Dick Bumstead, and
William Chamberlain, and many others.”

At the sound of Dick Bumstead’s name John Haynes looked askance at
Frank, but for the moment the thought of Dick’s agency in the affair
of the pig-pen had escaped his recollection, and he looked quite
unconscious of any indirect reference to it.

“Will you make a motion to that effect?”

“Yes, if necessary.”

“Is the motion seconded?”

“Second it,” said Moses Rogers.

“I will appoint Wilbur Summerfield and Moses Rogers on that committee,”
 said the chairman.

“I move that the meeting adjourn ipse dixit,” said Sam Davis, bringing
out the latter phrase with considerable emphasis.

A roar of laughter followed which shook the schoolhouse to the very
rafters, and then a deafening clamor of applause. The proposer sat down
in confusion.

“What are you laughing at?” he burst forth indignantly.

“Mr. Chairman,” said Henry Tufts, struggling with his laughter, “I
second the gentleman’s motion, all except the Latin.”

The motion was carried in spite of the manner in which it was worded,
and the boys formed little groups, and began eagerly to discuss the plan
which had been proposed. Frank had reason to feel satisfied with the
success of his suggestion. Several of the boys came up to him and
expressed their pleasure that he had brought the matter before them.

“I say, Frank,” said Robert Ingalls, “We’ll have a bully company.”

“Yes,” said Wilbur Summerfield, “if John Haynes belongs to it. He’s a
bully, and no mistake.”

“What’s that you are saying about me?” blustered John Haynes, who caught
a little of what was said.

“Listeners never hear anything good of themselves,” answered Wilbur.

“Say that again, Wilbur Summerfield,” said John menacingly.

“Certainly, if it will do you any good. I said that you were a bully,
John Haynes; and there’s not a boy here that doesn’t know it to be
true.”

“Take care!” said John, turning white with passion.

“While I’m about it, there’s something more I want to say,” continued
Wilbur undauntedly. “Yesterday you knocked my little brother off
his sled and sent him home crying. If you do it again, you will have
somebody else to deal with.”

John trembled with anger. It would have done him good to “pitch into”
 Wilbur, but the latter looked him in the face so calmly and resolutely
that discretion seemed to him the better part of valor, and with an oath
he turned away.

“I don’t know what’s got into John Haynes,” said Wilbur. “I never liked
him, but now he seems to be getting worse and worse every day.”



CHAPTER XXIII. POMP TAKES MRS. PAYSON PRISONER

Old Mrs. Payson, who arrived in Rossville at the same time with Henry
Morton, had been invited by her daughter, “Cynthy Ann,” to pass the
winter, and had acquiesced without making any very strenuous objections.
Her “bunnit,” which she had looked upon as “sp’ilt,” had been so far
restored by a skilful milliner that she was able to wear it for best.
As this restoration cost but one dollar and a half out of the five which
had been given her by young Morton, she felt very well satisfied with
the way matters had turned out. This did not, however, by any means
diminish her rancor against Pomp, who had been the mischievous cause of
the calamity.

“Ef I could only get hold on him,” Mrs. Payson had remarked on several
occasions to Cynthy Ann, “I’d shake the mischief out of him, ef I died
for’t the very next minute.”

Mrs. Payson was destined to meet with a second calamity, which
increased, if possible, her antipathy to the “young imp.”

Being of a social disposition, she was quite in the habit of dropping
in to tea at different homes in the village. Having formerly lived in
Rossville, she was acquainted with nearly all the townspeople, and went
the rounds about once in two weeks.

One afternoon she put her knitting into a black work-bag, which she was
accustomed to carry on her arm, and, arraying herself in a green cloak
and hood, which had served her for fifteen years, she set out to call on
Mrs. Thompson.

Now, the nearest route to the place of her destination lay across a
five-acre lot. The snow lay deep upon the ground, but the outer surface
had become so hard as, without difficulty, to bear a person of ordinary
weight.

When Mrs. Payson came up to the bars, she said to herself, “‘Tain’t so
fur to go across lots. I guess I’ll ventur’.”

She let down a bar and, passing through, went on her way complacently.
But, alas, for the old lady’s peace of mind! She was destined to come to
very deep grief.

That very afternoon Pomp had come over to play with Sam Thompson, and
the two, after devising various projects of amusement, had determined to
make a cave in the snow. They selected a part of the field where it had
drifted to the depth of some four or five feet. Beginning at a little
distance, they burrowed their way into the heart of the snow, and
excavated a place about four feet square by four deep, leaving the upper
crust intact, of course, without its ordinary strength.

The two boys had completed their task, and were siting down in their
subterranean abode, when the roof suddenly gave way, and a visitor
entered in the most unceremonious manner.

The old lady had kept on her way unsuspiciously, using as a cane a faded
blue umbrella, which she carried invariably, whatever the weather.

When Mrs. Payson felt herself sinking, she uttered a loud shriek and
waved her arms aloft, brandishing her umbrella in a frantic way. She was
plunged up to her armpits in the snow, and was, of course, placed in a
very unfavorable position for extricating herself.

The two boys were at first nearly smothered by the descent of snow, but
when the first surprise was over they recognized their prisoner. I am
ashamed to say that their feeling was that of unbounded delight, and
they burst into a roar of laughter. The sound, indistinctly heard,
terrified the old lady beyond measure, and she struggled frantically to
escape, nearly poking out Pomp’s eye with the point of her umbrella.

Pomp, always prompt to repel aggression, in return, pinched her foot.

“Massy sakes! Where am I?” ejaculated the affrighted old lady. “There’s
some wild crittur down there. Oh, Cynthy Ann, ef you could see your marm
at this moment!”

She made another vigorous flounder, and managed to kick Sam in the face.
Partly as a measure of self-defense, he seized her ankle firmly.

“He’s got hold of me!” shrieked the old lady “Help! help! I shall be
murdered.”

Her struggles became so energetic that the boys soon found it expedient
to evacuate the premises. They crawled out by the passage they had made,
and appeared on the surface of the snow.

The old lady presented a ludicrous appearance. Her hood had slipped off,
her spectacles were resting on the end of her nose, and she had lost her
work-bag. But she clung with the most desperate energy to the umbrella,
on which apparently depended her sole hope of deliverance.

“Hi yah!” laughed Pomp, as he threw himself back on the snow and began
to roll about in an ecstasy of delight.

Instantly Mrs. Payson’s apprehensions changed to furious anger.

“So it’s you, you little varmint, that’s done this. Jest le’ me get out,
and I’ll whip you so you can’t stan’. See ef I don’t.”

“You can’t get out, missus; yah, yah!” laughed Pomp. “You’s tied, you
is, missus.”

“Come an’ help me out, this minute!” exclaimed the old lady, stamping
her foot.

“Lor’, missus, you’ll whip me. You said you would.”

“So I will, I vum,” retorted the irate old lady, rather
undiplomatically. “As true as I live, I’ll whip you till you can’t
stan’.”

As she spoke, she brandished her umbrella in a menacing manner.

“Den, missus, I guess you’d better stay where you is.”

“Oh, you imp. See ef I don’t have you put in jail. Here, you, Sam
Thompson, come and help me out. Ef you don’t, I’ll tell your mother, an’
she’ll give you the wust lickin’ you ever had. I’m surprised at you.”

“You won’t tell on me, will you?” said Sam, irresolutely.

“I’ll see about it,” said the old lady, in a politic tone.

She felt her powerlessness, and that concession must precede victory.

“Then, give me the umbrella,” said Sam, who evidently distrusted her.

“You’ll run off with it,” said Mrs. Payson suspiciously.

“No, I won’t.”

“Well, there ‘tis.”

“Come here, Pomp, and help me,” said Sam.

Pomp held aloof.

“She’ll whip me,” he said, shaking his head. “She’s an old debble.”

“Oh, you--you sarpint!” ejaculated the old lady, almost speechless with
indignation.

“You can run away as soon as she gets out,” suggested Sam.

Pomp advanced slowly and warily, rolling his eyes in indecision.

“Jest catch hold of my hands, both on ye,” said Mrs. Payson, “an’ I’ll
give a jump.”

These directions were followed, and the old lady rose to the surface,
when, in an evil hour, intent upon avenging herself upon Pomp, she made
a clutch for his collar. In doing so she lost her footing and fell back
into the pit from which she had just emerged. Her spectacles dropped
off and, falling beneath her, were broken.

She rose, half-provoked and half-ashamed of her futile attempt. It was
natural that neither of these circumstances should effect an improvement
in her temper.

“You did it a purpose,” she said, shaking her fist at Pomp, who stood
about a rod off, grinning at her discomfiture. “There, I’ve gone an’
broke my specs, that I bought two years ago, come fall, of a pedler.
I’ll make you pay for ‘em.”

“Lor’, missus, I ain’t got no money,” said Pomp. “Nebber had none.”

Unfortunately for the old lady, it was altogether probable that Pomp
spoke the truth this time.

“Three and sixpence gone!” groaned Mrs. Payson. “Fust my bunnit, an’
then my specs. I’m the most unfort’nit’ crittur. Why don’t you help
me, Sam Thompson, instead of standin’ and gawkin’ at me?” she suddenly
exclaimed, glaring at Sam.

“I didn’t know as you was ready,” said Sam. “You might have been out
before this, ef you hadn’t let go. Here, Pomp, lend a hand.” Pomp shook
his head decisively.

“Don’t catch dis chile again,” he said. “I’m goin’ home. Ole woman wants
to lick me.”

Sam endeavored to persuade Pomp, but he was deaf to persuasion. He
squatted down on the snow, and watched the efforts his companion made to
extricate the old lady. When she was nearly out he started on a run, and
was at a safe distance before Mrs. Payson was in a situation to pursue
him.

The old lady shook herself to make sure that no bones were broken. Next,
she sent Sam down into the hole to pick up her bag, and then, finding,
on a careful examination, that she had recovered everything, even to the
blue umbrella, fetched the astonished Sam a rousing box on the ear.

“What did you do that for?” he demanded in an aggrieved tone.

“‘Taint half as much as you deserve,” said the old lady. “I’m goin’ to
your house right off, to tell your mother what you’ve been a-doin’. Ef
you was my child, I’d beat you black and blue.”

“I wish I’d left you down there,” muttered Sam.

“What’s that?” demanded Mrs. Payson sharply. “Don’t you go to bein’
sassy. It’ll be the wuss for ye. You’ll come to the gallows some time,
ef you don’t mind your p’s and q’s. I might ‘ave stayed there till I
died, an’ then you’d have been hung.”

“What are, you jawing about?” retorted Sam. “How could I know you was
comin’?”

“You know’d it well enough,” returned the old lady. “You’ll bring your
mother’s gray hairs with sorrer to the grave.”

“She ain’t got any gray hairs,” said Sam doggedly.

“Well, she will have some, ef she lives long enough. I once know’d a boy
just like you, an’ he was put in jail for stealin’.”

“I ain’t a-goin to stay and be jawed that way,” said Sam. “You won’t
catch me pulling you out of a hole again. I wouldn’t have you for a
grandmother for all the world. Tom Baldwin told me, only yesterday, that
you was always a-hectorin’ him.”

Tom Baldwin was the son of Cynthy Ann, and consequently old Mrs.
Payson’s grandson.

“Did Tom Baldwin tell you that?” demanded the old lady abruptly, looking
deeply incensed.

“Yes, he did.”

“Well, he’s the ungratefullest cub that I ever sot eyes on,” exclaimed
his indignant grandmother. “Arter all I’ve done for him. I’m knittin’ a
pair of socks for him this blessed minute. But he sha’n’t have ‘em. I’ll
give ‘em to the soldiers, I vum. Did he say anything else?”

“Yes, he said he should be glad when you were gone.”

“I’ll go right home and tell Cynthy Ann,” exclaimed Mrs. Payson, “an’
if she don’t w’ip him I will. I never see such a bad set of boys as is
growin’ up. There ain’t one on ‘em that isn’t as full of mischief as a
nut is of meat. I’ll come up with them, as true as I live.”

Full of her indignation, Mrs. Payson gave up her proposed call on Mrs.
Thompson, and, turning about, hurried home to lay her complaint before
Cynthy Ann.

“I’m glad she’s gone,” said Sam, looking after her, as with resolute
steps she trudged along, punching the snow vigorously with the point
of her blue cotton umbrella. “I pity Tom Baldwin; if I had such a
grandmother as that, I’d run away to sea. That’s so!”



CHAPTER XXIV. A CHAPTER FROM HARDEE

A few rods east of the post-office, on the opposite side of the street,
was a two-story building used as an engine-house, The second story
consisted of a hall used for company meetings. This the fire company
obligingly granted to the boys as a drill-room during the inclement
season, until the weather became sufficiently warm to drill out of
doors.

On the Monday afternoon succeeding the preliminary meeting at the
academy, about thirty boys assembled in this hall, pursuant to a
notice which had been given at school and posted up at the tavern and
post-office.

At half-past two Frank entered, accompanied by Mr. Morton.

Some of the boys were already acquainted with him, and came up to speak.
He had a frank, cordial way with boys, which secured their favor at
first sight.

“Well, boys,” said he pleasantly, “I believe I am expected to make
soldiers of you.”

“Yes, sir,” said Charles Reynolds respectfully: “I hope we shall learn
readily and do credit to your instructions.”

“I have no fear on that score,” was the reply. “Perhaps you may have
some business to transact before we commence our lessons. If so, I will
sit down a few minutes and wait till you are ready.”

A short business meeting was held, organized as before.

John Haynes reported that he had spoken to his father, and the question
of allowing the boys the use of the muskets belonging to the town
would be acted upon at the next meeting of the Selectmen. Squire Haynes
thought that the request would be granted.

“What are we going to do this afternoon?” asked Robert Ingalls.

“I can answer that question, Mr. Chairman,” said Henry Morton. “We are
not yet ready for muskets. I shall have to drill you first in the proper
position of a soldier, and the military step. Probably it will be a week
before I shall wish to place muskets into your hands. May I inquire how
soon there will be a meeting of the Selectmen?”

John Haynes announced that the next meeting would be held in less than a
week.

“Then there will be no difficulty as to the muskets,” said Mr. Morton.

Wilbur Summerfield reported that he had extended an invitation to boys
not connected with the academy to join the company. Several were now
present. Dick Bumstead, though not able to attend that day, would come
to the next meeting. He thought they would be able to raise a company of
fifty boys.

This report was considered very satisfactory.

Tom Wheeler arose and inquired by what name the new company would be
called.

“I move,” said Robert Ingalls, “that we take the name of the Rossville
Home Guards.”

“If the enemy should invade Rossville, you’d be the first to run,”
 sneered John Haynes.

“Not unless I heard it before you,” was the quick reply.

There was a general laugh, and cries of “Bully for you, Bob!” were
heard.

“Order!” cried the chairman, pounding the table energetically. “Such
disputes cannot be allowed. I think we had better defer obtaining a name
for our company till we find how well we are likely to succeed.”

This proposal seemed to be acquiesced in by the boys generally. The
business meeting terminated, and Mr. Morton was invited to commence his
instructions.

“The boys will please form themselves in a line,” said the teacher, in a
clear, commanding voice.

This was done.

The positions assumed were, most of them, far from military. Some stood
with their legs too far apart, others with one behind the other, some
with the shoulders of unequal height. Frank alone stood correctly,
thanks to the private instructions he had received.

“Now, boys,” said Mr. Morton, “when I say ‘attention!’ you must all look
at me and follow my directions implicitly. Attention and subordination
are of the first importance to a soldier. Let me say, to begin with,
that, with one exception, you are all standing wrong.”

Here there was a general shifting of positions. Robert Ingalls, who had
been standing with his feet fifteen inches apart, suddenly brought them
close together in a parallel position. Tom Wheeler, who had been resting
his weight mainly on the left foot, shifted to the right. Moses Rogers,
whose head was bent over so as to watch his feet, now threw it so far
back that he seemed to be inspecting the ceiling. Frank alone remained
stationary.

Mr. Morton smiled at the changes elicited by his remarks, and proceeded
to give his first command.

“Heels on the same line!” he ordered.

All the boys turned their heads, and there was a noisy shuffling of
feet.

“Quit crowding, Tom Baldwin!” exclaimed Sam Rivers in an audible tone.

“Quit crowding, yourself,” was the reply. “You’ve got more room than I,
now.”

“Silence in the ranks!” said the instructor authoritatively. “Frank
Frost, I desire you to see that the boys stand at regular distances.”
 This was accomplished.

“Turn out your feet equally, so as to form a right angle with each
other. So.”

Mr. Morton illustrated his meaning practically. This was very necessary,
as some of the boys had very confused ideas as to what was meant by a
right angle.

After some time this order was satisfactorily carried out.

“The knees must be straight. I see that some are bent, as if the weight
of the body were too much for them. Not too stiff! Rivers, yours are too
rigid. You couldn’t walk a mile in that way without becoming very tired.
There, that is much better. Notice my position.”

The boys, after adjusting their positions, looked at the rest to see how
they had succeeded.

“Don’t look at each other,” said Mr. Morton. “If you do you will be
certain to make blunders. I notice that some of you are standing with
one shoulder higher than the other. The shoulders should be square, and
the body should be erect upon the hips. Attention! So!”

“Very well. Haynes, you are trying to stand too upright. You must not
bend backward. All, incline your bodies a little forward. Frank Ingalls
is standing correctly.”

“I don’t think that’s very soldierly,” said John Haynes, who felt
mortified at being corrected, having flattered himself that he was right
and the rest were wrong.

“A soldier shouldn’t be round-shouldered, or have a slouching gait,”
 said the instructor quietly; “but you will find when you come to march
that the opposite extreme is attended with great inconvenience and
discomfort. Until then you must depend upon my assurance.”

Mr. Morton ran his eye along the line, and observed that most of the
boys were troubled about their arms. Some allowed them to hang in stiff
rigidity by their sides. One, even, had his clasped behind his back.
Others let theirs dangle loosely, swinging now hither, now thither.

He commented upon these errors, and added, “Let your arms hang
naturally, with the elbows near the body, the palm of the hand a
little turned to the front, the little finger behind the seam of the
pantaloons. This you will find important when you come to drill with
muskets. You will find that it will economize space by preventing your
occupying more room than is necessary. Frank, will you show Sam Rivers
and John Haynes how to hold their hands?”

“You needn’t trouble yourself,” said John haughtily, but in too low
a voice, as he supposed, for Mr. Morton to hear. “I don’t want a
clodhopper to teach me.”

Frank’s face flushed slightly, and without a word he passed John and
occupied himself with showing Sam Rivers, who proved more tractable.

“No talking in the ranks!” said Mr. Morton, in a tone of authority. “If
any boy wishes to ask any explanation of me he may do so, but it is a
breach of discipline to speak to each other.”

“My next order will be, ‘Faces to the front!’” he resumed, after a pause.
“Nothing looks worse than to see a file of men with heads turned in
various directions. The eyes should be fixed straight before you,
striking the ground at about fifteen paces forward.”

It required some time to have this direction properly carried out. Half
an hour had now passed, and some of the boys showed signs of weariness.

“I will now give you a little, breathing-spell for ten minutes,” said
Mr. Morton. “After this we will resume our exercises.”

The boys stretched their limbs, and began to converse in an animated
strain about the lesson which they had just received.

At the expiration of ten minutes the lesson was resumed, and some
additional directions were given.

It will not be necessary for us to follow the boys during the remainder
of the lesson. Most of them made very creditable progress, and the line
presented quite a different appearance at the end of the exercise from
what it had at the commencement.

“I shall be prepared to give you a second lesson on Saturday afternoon,”
 announced Mr. Morton. “In the meantime it will be well for you to
remember what I have said, and if you should feel inclined to practice
by yourselves, it will no doubt make your progress more rapid.”

These remarks were followed by a clapping of hands on the part of the
boys--a demonstration of applause which Mr. Morton acknowledged by a bow
and a smile.

“Well, how do you like it?” asked Frank Frost of Robert Ingalls.

“Oh, it’s bully fun!” returned Bob enthusiastically. “I feel like a hero
already.”

“You’re as much of one now, Bob, as you’ll ever be,” said Wilbur
good-naturedly.

“I wouldn’t advise you to be a soldier,” retorted Bob. “You’re too fat
to run, and would be too frightened to fight.”

“I certainly couldn’t expect to keep up with those long legs of yours,
Bob,” said Wilbur, laughing.

The boys dispersed in excellent humor, fully determined to persevere in
their military exercises.



CHAPTER XXV. ELECTION OF OFFICERS

For the six weeks following, Mr. Morton gave lessons twice a week to the
boys. At the third lesson they received their muskets, and thenceforth
drilled with them. A few, who had not been present at the first two
lessons, and were consequently ignorant of the positions, Mr. Morton
turned over to Frank, who proved an efficient and competent instructor.

At the end of the twelfth lesson, Mr. Morton, after giving the order
“Rest!” addressed the boys as follows:

“Boys, we have now taken twelve lessons together. I have been very much
gratified by the rapid improvement which you have made, and feel that it
is due quite as much to your attention as to any instructions of mine.
I can say with truth that I have known companies of grown men who have
made less rapid progress than you.

“The time has now come when I feel that I can safely leave you to
yourselves, There are those among you who are competent to carry on the
work which I have commenced. It will be desirable for you at once to
form a company organization. As there are but fifty on your muster-roll,
being about half the usual number, you will not require as many
officers. I recommend the election of a captain, first and second
lieutenants, three sergeants and three corporals. You have already
become somewhat accustomed to company drill, so that you will be able to
go on by yourselves under the guidance of your officers. If any
doubtful questions should arise, I shall always be happy to give you any
information or assistance in my power.

“And now, boys, I will bid you farewell in my capacity of instructor,
but I need not say that I shall continue to watch with interest your
progress in the military art.”

Here Mr. Morton bowed, and sat down.

After the applause which followed his speech had subsided, there was
a silence and hush of expectation among the boys, after which Charles
Reynolds rose slowly, and, taking from the seat beside him a package,
advanced toward Mr. Morton and made a brief speech of presentation,
having been deputed by the boys to perform that duty.

“MR MORTON: I stand here in behalf of the boys present, who wish to
express to you their sense of your kindness in giving them the course of
lessons which has just ended. We have taken up much of your time, and no
doubt have tried your patience more than once. If we have improved, as
you were kind enough to say, we feel that it is principally owing to our
good fortune in having so skilful a teacher. We wish to present you some
testimonial of the regard which we have for you, and accordingly ask
your acceptance of this copy of ‘Abbott’s Life of Napoleon.’ We should
have been glad to give you something more valuable, but we are sure you
will value the gift for other reasons than its cost.”

Here Charles Reynolds sat down, and all eyes were turned toward Mr.
Morton. It was evident that he was taken by surprise. It was equally
evident that he was much gratified by this unexpected token of regard.

He rose and with much feeling spoke as follows:

“My dear boys, for you must allow me to call you so, I can hardly tell
you how much pleasure your kind gift has afforded me. It gives me the
assurance, which indeed, I did not need, that you are as much my friends
as I am yours. The connection between us has afforded me much pleasure
and satisfaction. In training you to duties which patriotism may
hereafter devolve upon you, though I pray Heaven that long before that
time our terrible civil strife may be at an end, I feel that I have
helped you to do something to show your loyal devotion to the country
which we all love and revere.” Here there was loud applause. “If you
were a few years older, I doubt not that your efforts would be added to
those of your fathers and brothers who are now encountering the perils
and suffering the privations of war. And with a little practise I am
proud to say that you would not need to be ashamed of the figure you
would cut in the field.

“I have little more to say. I recognize a fitness in the selection of
the work which you have given me. Napoleon is without doubt the greatest
military genius which our modern age has produced. Yet he lacked one
very essential characteristic of a good soldier. He was more devoted to
his own selfish ends than to the welfare of his country. I shall value
your gift for the good wishes that accompany it, and the recollection of
this day will be among my pleasantest memories.”

Mr. Morton here withdrew in the midst of hearty applause.

When he had left the hall a temporary organization for business purposes
was at once effected. Wilbur Summerfield was placed in the chair, and
the meeting proceeded at once to an election of officers.

For a week or two past there had been considerable private canvassing
among the boys. There were several who would like to have been elected
captain, and a number of others who, though not aspiring so high,
hoped to be first or second lieutenants. Among the first class was John
Haynes. Like many persons who are unpopular, he did not seem to be at
all aware of the extent of his unpopularity.

But there was another weighty reason why the choice of the boys
would never have fallen upon him. Apart from his unpopularity, he was
incompetent for the posts to which he aspired. Probably there were not
ten boys in the company who were not more proficient in drill than he.
This was not owing to any want of natural capacity, but to a feeling
that he did not require much instruction and a consequent lack of
attention to the directions of Mr. Morton. He had frequently been
corrected in mistakes, but always received the correction with
sullenness and impatience. He felt in his own mind that he was much
better fitted to govern than to obey, forgetting in his ambition that it
is those only who have first learned to obey who are best qualified to
rule others.

Desirious of ingratiating himself with the boys, and so securing their
votes, he had been unusually amiable and generous during the past week.
At the previous lesson he had brought half a bushel of apples, from
which he had requested the boys to help themselves freely. By this means
he hoped to attain the object of his ambition.

Squire Haynes, too, was interested in the success of his son.

“If they elect you captain, John,” he promised, “I will furnish you
money enough to buy a handsome sash and sword.”

Besides John, there were several others who cherished secret hopes of
success. Among these were Charles Reynolds and Wilbur Summerfield. As
for Frank Frost, though he had thought little about it, he could not
help feeling that he was among those best qualified for office, though
he would have been quite content with either of the three highest
offices, or even with the post of orderly sergeant.

Among those who had acquitted themselves with the greatest credit was
our old friend Dick Bumstead, whom we remember last as concerned in
rather a questionable adventure. Since that time his general behavior
had very much changed for the better. Before, he had always shirked work
when it was possible. Now he exhibited a steadiness and industry which
surprised no less than it gratified his father.

This change was partly owing to his having given up some companions who
had done him no good, and, instead, sought the society of Frank. The
energy and manliness exhibited by his new friend, and the sensible views
which he took of life and duty, had wrought quite a revolution in Dick’s
character. He began to see that if he ever meant to accomplish anything
he must begin now. At Frank’s instance he had given up smoking, and this
cut off one of the temptations which had assailed him. Gradually the
opinion entertained of Dick in the village as a ne’er-do-well was
modified, and he had come to be called as one of the steady and reliable
boys--a reputation not to, be lightly regarded.

In the present election Dick did not dream that he could have any
interest. While he had been interested in the lessons, and done his
best, he felt that his previous reputation would injure his chance, and
he had made up his mind that he should have to serve in the ranks. This
did not trouble him, for Dick, to his credit be it said, was very free
from jealousy, and had not a particle of envy in his composition. He
possessed so many good qualities that it would have been a thousand
pities if he had kept on in his former course.

“You will bring in your votes for captain,” said the chairman.

Tom Wheeler distributed slips of paper among the boys, and there was
forthwith a plentiful show of pencils.

“Are the votes all in?” inquired the chairman, a little later. “If so,
we will proceed to count them.”

There was a general hush of expectation while Wilbur Summerfield,
the chairman, and Robert Ingalls, the secretary of the meeting, were
counting the votes. John Haynes, was evidently nervous, and fidgeted
about, anxious to learn his fate.

At length the count was completed, and Wilbur, rising, announced it as
follows:

      Whole number of votes...... 49
      Necessary for a choice..... 25
      Robert Ingalls.............. 2 votes
      John Haynes................. 2  ”
       Wilbur Summerfield.......... 4  ”
       Moses Rogers................ 4  ”
       Charles Reynolds........... 10  ”
       Frank Frost................ 27  ”


“Gentlemen, I have the pleasure of announcing that you have made choice
of Frank Frost as your captain.”

Frank rose amid a general clapping of hands, and, with heightened color
but modest self-possession, spoke as follows “Boys, I thank you very
much for this proof of your confidence. All I can say is that I will
endeavor to deserve it. I shall no doubt make some mistakes, but I feel
sure that you will grant me your indulgence, and not expect too much of
my inexperience.”

This speech was regarded with favor by all except John Haynes, who
would rather have had any one else elected, independent of his own
disappointment, which was great.

“You will now prepare your votes for first lieutenant,” said the
presiding officer.

It will be noticed that two votes were cast for John Haynes. One of
these was thrown by a competitor, who wished to give his vote to some
one who stood no possible chance of succeeding, and accordingly selected
John on account of his well-known unpopularity. This vote, therefore,
was far from being a compliment. As for the other vote, John Haynes
himself best knew by whom it was cast.

The boys began to prepare their votes for first lieutenant.

John brightened up a little. He felt that it would be something to
gain this office. But when the result of the balloting was announced it
proved that he had but a single vote.

There were several scattering votes. The two prominent candidates were
Dick Bumstead, who received eight votes, and Charles Reynolds, who
received thirty-two, and was accordingly declared elected.

No one was more surprised by this announcement than Dick. He felt quite
bewildered, not having the slightest expectation of being a candidate.
He was almost tempted to believe that the votes had only been cast in
jest.

But Dick was destined to a still greater surprise. At the next vote, for
second lieutenant, there were five scattering votes. Then came ten for
Wilbur Summerfield, and Richard Bumstead led off with thirty-four, and
was accordingly declared elected.

“Speech! speech!” exclaimed half a dozen, vociferously.

Dick looked a little confused, and tried to escape the call. But the
boys were determined to have him up, and he was finally compelled to
rise, looking and feeling rather awkward But his natural good sense
and straightforwardness came to his aid, and he acquitted himself quite
creditably.

This was Dick’s speech:

“Boys, I don’t know how to make speeches, and I s’pose you know that as
well as I do. I hardly knew who was meant when Richard Bumstead’s name
was mentioned, having always been called Dick, but if it means me, all I
can say is, that I am very much obliged to you for the unexpected honor.
One reason why I did not expect to be elected to any office was because
I ain’t as good a scholar as most of you. I am sure there are a great
many of you who would make better officers than I, but I don’t think
there’s any that will try harder to do well than I shall.”

Here Dick sat down, very much astonished to find that he had actually
made a speech. His speech was modest, and made a favorable impression,
as was shown by the noisy stamping of feet and shouts of “Bully for
you, Dick!” “You’re a trump!” and other terms in which boys are wont to
signify their approbation.

Through all this John Haynes looked very much disgusted, and seemed
half-decided upon leaving the room. He had some curiosity, however, to
learn who would be elected to the subordinate offices, and so remained.
He had come into the room with the determination not to accept anything
below a lieutenancy, but now made up his mind not to reject the post of
orderly sergeant if it should be offered to him. The following list of
officers, however will show that he was allowed no choice in the matter:

      Captain, Frank Frost.
      First Lieutenant, Charles Reynolds.
      Second Lieutenant, Richard Bumstead.
      Orderly Sergeant, Wilbur Summerfield.
      Second Sergeant, Robert Ingalls.
      Third Sergeant, Moses Rogers.
      First Corporal, Tom Wheeler.
      Second Corporal, Joseph Barry.
      Third Corporal, Frank Ingalls.


The entire list of officers was now read and received with applause. If
there were some who were disappointed, they acquiesced good-naturedly,
with one exception.

When the applause had subsided, John Haynes rose and, in a voice
trembling with passion, said:

“Mr. Chairman, I wish to give notice to all present that I resign my
place as a member of this company. I don’t choose to serve under such
officers as you have chosen to-day. I don’t think they are fit to have
command.”

Here there was a general chorus of hisses, drowning John’s voice
completely. After glancing about him a moment in speechless fury, he
seized his hat, and left the room in indignant haste, slamming the door
after him.

“He’s a mean fellow!” said Frank Ingalls. “I suppose he expected to be
captain.”

“Shouldn’t wonder,” said Sam Rivers. “Anyhow, he’s a fool to make such a
fuss about it. As for me,” he added, with a mirthful glance, “I am
just as much disappointed as he is. When I came here this afternoon I
expected I should be elected captain, and I’d got my speech all ready,
but now I’m sorry that it will have to be wasted.”

There was a general burst of laughter, for Sam Rivers, whom everybody
liked for his good nature, was incorrigibly awkward, and had made
a larger number of blunders, probably, than any other member of the
company.

“Give us the speech, Sam,” said Bob Ingalls.

“Yes, don’t let it be wasted.”

“Speech! speech!” cried Joseph Barry.

“Very well, gentlemen, if you desire it.”

Sam drew from his pocket a blank piece of paper, and pretended to read
the following speech, which he made up on the spur of the moment.

“Ahem! gentlemen,” he commenced, in a pompous tone, assuming an air
of importance; “I am deeply indebted to you for this very unexpected
honor.”

“Oh, very,” said one of the boys near.

“I feel that you have done yourself credit in your selection.”

Here there was a round of applause.

“I am sorry that some of you are still very awkward, but I hope under my
excellent discipline to make veterans of you in less than no time.”

“Good for you!”

“You cannot expect me to remain long with you, as I am now in the line
of promotion, and don’t mean to stop short of a brigadier. But as long
as I am your captain I hope you will appreciate your privileges.”

Sam’s speech was followed by a chorus of laughter, in which he joined
heartily himself.

As for John’s defection, nobody seemed to regret it much. It was
generally felt that the company would have no difficulty in getting
along without him.



CHAPTER XXVI. THE REBEL TRAP

ON the first of April Frank received the following letter from his
father. It was the more welcome because nearly a month had elapsed
since anything had been received, and the whole family had become quite
anxious:


“Dear Frank,” the letter commenced, “you are no doubt feeling anxious on
account of my long silence. You will understand the cause of it when
I tell you that since the date of my last letter I have been for a
fortnight in the enemy’s hands as a prisoner. Fortunately, I have
succeeded in effecting my escape. You will naturally be interested to
learn the particulars.

“Three weeks since, a lady occupying an estate about five miles distant
from our camp waited on our commanding officer and made an urgent
request to have a few soldiers detailed as a guard to protect her and
her property from molestation and loss. Our colonel was not at first
disposed to grant her request, but finally acceded to it, rather
reluctantly, declaring that it was all nonsense. I was selected, with
five other men, to serve as a guard. Mrs. Roberts--for this was her
name--appeared quite satisfied to find her request granted, and drove
slowly home under our escort.

“On arriving, we found a mansion in the old Virginia style, low in
elevation, broad upon the ground, and with a piazza extending along the
front. Surrounding it was a good-sized plantation. At a little distance
from the house was a row of negro huts. These were mostly vacant, the
former occupants having secured their freedom by taking refuge within
our lines.

“As sergeant in command--you must know that I have been promoted--I
inquired of Mrs. Roberts what danger she apprehended. Her answers were
vague and unsatisfactory. However, she seemed disposed to treat me very
civilly, and at nine o’clock invited the whole party into the house to
partake of a little refreshment. This invitation was very welcome to
soldiers who had not for months partaken of anything better than camp
fare. It was all the more acceptable because outside a cold rain was
falling, and the mod was deep and miry.

“In the dining-room we found a plentiful meal spread, including hot
coffee, hot corn bread, bacon, and other viands. We were not, however,
destined to take our supper in peace. As I was drinking my second cup
of coffee I thought I heard a noise outside, and remarked it to Mrs.
Roberts.

“‘It is only the wind, sergeant,’ said she, indifferently.

“It was not long before I became convinced that it was something more
serious. I ordered my men to stand to their arms, in spite of the urgent
protestations of the old lady, and marched them out upon the lawn, just
in time to be confronted by twenty or thirty men on horseback, clad in
the rebel uniform.

“Resistance against such odds would have been only productive of useless
loss of life, and with my little force I was compelled to surrender
myself a prisoner.

“Of course, I no longer doubted that we were the victims of a trick, and
had been lured by Mrs. Roberts purposely to be made prisoners. If I had
had any doubts on the subject, her conduct would have dissipated them.
She received our captors with open arms. They stepped into our places as
guests, and the house was thrown open to them. Our arms were taken from
us, our hands pinioned, and a scene of festivity ensued. A cask of wine
was brought up from the cellar, and the contents freely distributed
among the rebels, or gray backs, as we call them here.

“Once, as Mrs. Roberts passed through the little room where we were
confined, I said, ‘Do you consider this honorable conduct, madam,
to lure us here by false representations, and then betray us to our
enemies?’

“‘Yes, I do!’ said she hotly. ‘What business have you to come down
here and lay waste our territory? There is no true Southern woman but
despises you heartily, and would do as much as I have, and more, too.
You’ve got my son a prisoner in one of your Yankee prisons. When I heard
that he was taken, I swore to be revenged, and I have kept my word. I’ve
got ten for one, though he’s worth a hundred such as you!’

“So saying, she swept out of the room, with a scornful look of triumph
in her eyes. The next day, as I afterward learned, she sent word to our
colonel that her house had been unexpectedly attacked by a large party
of the rebels, and that we had been taken prisoners. Her complicity was
suspected, but was not proved till our return to the camp. Of course, a
further guard, which she asked for, to divert suspicion, was refused.

“Meanwhile we were carried some twenty miles across the river, and
confined in a building which had formerly been used as a storehouse.

“The place was dark and gloomy. There were some dozen others who shared
our captivity. Here we had rather a doleful time. We were supplied with
food three times a day; but the supply was scanty, and we had meat
but once in two days. We gathered that it was intended to send us to
Richmond; but from day to day there was a delay in doing so. We decided
that our chance of escape would be much better then than after we
reached the rebel capital. We, therefore, formed a plan for defeating
the intentions of our captors.

“Though the building assigned to us as a prison consisted of two
stories, we were confined in the lower part. This was more favorable to
our designs. During the night we busied ourselves in loosening two of
the planks of the flooring, so that we could remove them at any time.
Then lowering two of our number into the cellar, we succeeded in
removing enough of the stone foundation to allow the escape of one man
at a time through the aperture. Our arrangements were hastened by the
assignment of a particular day on which we were to be transferred from
our prison, and conveyed to Richmond. Though we should have been glad to
enter the city under some circumstances, we did not feel very desirous
of going as prisoners of war.

“On the night selected we waited impatiently till midnight. Then, as
silently as possible, we removed the planking, and afterwards the
stones of the basement wall, and crept through one by one. All this was
effected so noiselessly that we were all out without creating any alarm.
We could hear the measured tramp of the sentinel, as he paced up and
down in front of the empty prison. We pictured to ourselves his surprise
when he discovered, the next morning, that we escaped under his nose
without his knowing it!

“I need not dwell upon the next twenty-four hours. The utmost vigilance
was required to elude the rebel pickets. At last, after nearly twenty
hours, during which we had nothing to eat, we walked into camp,
exhausted with hunger and fatigue, to the great joy of our comrades from
whom we had been absent a fortnight.

“On receiving information of the manner in which we had been captured,
our commanding officer at once despatched me with a detachment of men to
arrest Mrs. Roberts and her daughter. Her surprise and dismay at seeing
me whom she supposed safe in Richmond were intense. She is still under
arrest.

“I suppose our campaign will open as soon as the roads are dried up. The
mud in Virginia is much more formidable than at the North, and presents
an insuperable, perhaps I should say an unfathomable, obstacle to active
operations. I hope General Grant will succeed in taking Vicksburg. The
loss of that important stronghold would be a great blow to the rebels.

“You ask me, in your last letter, whether I see much of the contrabands.
I have talked with a considerable number. One, a very intelligent
fellow, had been very much trusted by his master, and had accompanied
him to various parts of the South. I asked him the question: ‘Is it
true that there are a considerable number of slaves who would prefer to
remain in their present condition to becoming free?’

“‘Nebber see any such niggers, massa,’ he answered, shaking his head
decisively. ‘We all want to be free. My old massa treated me kindly, but
I’d a left him any minute to be my own man.’

“I hope the time will soon come, when, from Canada to the Gulf, there
will not be a single black who is not his own man. We in the army are
doing what we can, but we must be backed up by those who stay at home.
My own feeling is that slavery has received its death-blow. It may
continue to live for some years, but it has fallen from its pomp and
pride of place. It is tottering to its fall. What shall be done with
the negroes in the transition state will be a problem for statesmen to
consider. I don’t think we need fear the consequences of doing right,
and on this subject there can be no doubt of what is right; The apparent
insensibility and brutish ignorance which we find among some of the
slaves will wear away under happier influences.

“There is a little fellow of perhaps a dozen years who comes into our
camp and runs of errands and does little services for the men. Yesterday
morning he came to my tent, and with a grin, said to me, ‘De ol’ man
died last night.’

“‘What, your father?’ I inquired in surprise.

“‘Yes, massa,’ with another grin: ‘Goin’ to tote him off dis mornin’.’

“As he only lived a quarter of a mile off, I got permission to go over
to the house, or cabin, where Scip’s father had lived.

“The outer door was open, and I entered without knocking. A woman was
bending over a washtub at the back part of the room. I looked around me
for the body, but could see no indication of anything having happened
out of the ordinary course.

“I thought it possible that Scip had deceived me, and accordingly spoke
to the woman, inquiring if she was Scip’s mother.

“She replied in the affirmative.

“‘And where is his father?’ I next inquired.

“‘Oh, he’s done dead,’ she said, continuing her washing.

“‘When did he die?’

“‘Las’ night, massa.’

“‘And where is the body?’

“‘Toted off, massa, very first t’ing dis mornin’.’

“In spite of this case of apparent insensibility, the negro’s family
attachments are quite as warm naturally as our own. They have little
reason, indeed, to mourn over the loss of a husband or father, since, in
most cases, it is the only portal to the freedom which they covet. The
separation of families, too, tends, of course, to weaken family ties.
While I write these words I cannot help recalling our own happy home,
and longing for an hour, if not more, of your society. I am glad that
you find Mr. Morton so agreeable an inmate. You ought to feel quite
indebted him for his assistance in your studies. I am glad you have
formed a boy’s company. It is very desirable that the elements of
military science should be understood even by boys, since upon them must
soon devolve the defense of their country from any blows that may
be directed against her, whether by foes from within or enemies from
abroad.

“The coming season will be a busy one with you. When you receive this
letter it will be about time for you to begin to plow whatever land is
to be planted. As I suggested in my first letter from camp, I should
like you to devote some space-perhaps half an acre-to the culture of
onions. We find them very useful for promoting health in the army. They
are quite high on account of the largely increased demand, so that it
will be a good crop for financial reasons.”

(Here followed some directions with regard to the spring planting, which
we omit, as not likely to interest our readers.) The letter ended thus:

“It is nearly time for me to mail this letter, and it is already much
longer than I intended to write. May God keep you all in health and
happiness is the fervent wish of

“Your affectionate father,

“HENRY FROST.”


The intelligence that their father had been a prisoner made quite a
sensation among the children. Charlie declared that Mrs. Roberts was a
wicked woman, and he was glad she was put in prison--an expression of
joy in which the rest fully participated.



CHAPTER XXVII. POMP’S LIGHT INFANTRY TACTICS

Little Pomp continued to pursue his studies under Frank as a teacher. By
degrees his restlessness diminished, and, finding Frank firm in exacting
a certain amount of study before he would dismiss him, he concluded that
it was best to study in earnest, and so obtain the courted freedom as
speedily as possible. Frank had provided for his use a small chair,
which he had himself used when at Pomp’s age, but for this the little
contraband showed no great liking. He preferred to throw himself on a
rug before the open fire-place, and, curling up, not unlike a cat, began
to pore over his primer.

Frank often looked up from his own studies and looked down with an
amused glance at little Pomp’s coal-back face and glistening eyes
riveted upon the book before him. There was no lack of brightness or
intelligence in the earnest face of his young pupil. He seemed to be
studying with all his might. In a wonderfully short time he would uncoil
himself, and, coming to his teacher, would say, “I guess I can say it,
Mass’ Frank.”

Finding how readily Pomp learned his lessons, Frank judiciously
lengthened them, so that, in two or three months, Pomp could read words
of one syllable with considerable ease, and promised very soon to read
as well as most boys of his age.

Frank also took considerable pains to cure Pomp of his mischievous
propensities, but this he found a more difficult task than teaching
him to read. Pomp had an innate love of fun which seemed almost
irrepressible, and his convictions of duty sat too lightly upon him
to interfere very seriously with its gratification. One adventure into
which he was led came near having serious consequences.

Pomp, in common with other village boys of his age, had watched with
considerable interest the boys ‘company, as they drilled publicly or
paraded through the main street, and he had conceived a strong desire to
get hold of a musket, to see if he, too, could not go through with the
manual.

Frank generally put his musket carefully away, only bringing it out
when it was needful. One morning, however, he had been out on a
hunting-expedition, and on his return left the musket in the corner of
the shed.

Pomp espied it when he entered the house, and resolved, if possible, to
take temporary possession of it after his lesson was over. Having this
in view, he worked with an uncommon degree of industry, and in less time
than usual had learned and said his lesson.

“Very well, Pomp,” said his teacher approvingly. “You have worked
unusually well to-day. If you keep on you will make quite a scholar some
day.”

“I’s improvin’, isn’t I?” inquired Pomp, with an appearance of interest.

“Yes, Pomp, you have improved rapidly. By and by you can teach your
mother how to read.”

“She couldn’t learn, Mass’ Frank. She’s poor ignorant nigger.”

“You shouldn’t speak so of your mother, Pomp. She’s a good mother to
you, and works hard to earn money to support you.”

“Yes, Mass’ Frank,” said Pomp, who was getting impatient to go. “I guess
I’ll go home and help her.”

Frank thought that what he had said was producing a good effect. He did
not know the secret of Pomp’s haste.

Pomp left the room, and, proceeding to the wood-shed, hastily possessed
himself of the musket. In a stealthy manner he crept with it through a
field behind the house, until he got into the neighboring woods.

He found it a hard tug to carry the gun, which was heavier than those
made at the present day. At length he reached an open space in the
woods, only a few rods from the road which led from the farmhouse, past
the shanty occupied by old Chloe. As this road was not much traveled,
Pomp felt pretty safe from discovery, and accordingly here it was that
he halted, and made preparations to go through the manual.

“It begins dis yer way,” said Pomp, after a little reflection.

Grasping the musket with one hand he called out in an important tone:

“‘Tention, squab!”

For the benefit of the uninitiated it may be explained that Pomp meant
“Attention, squad!”

“S’port arms!”

Pomp found it considerably easier to give the word of command than
to obey it. With some difficulty he succeeded in accomplishing
this movement, and proceeded with the manual, with several original
variations which would have astonished a military instructor.

Meanwhile, though Pomp did not realize it, he was exposing himself
to considerable danger. The gun had been loaded with buckshot in the
morning, and the charge had not been withdrawn.

It seemed to be the lot of poor Mrs. Payson to suffer fright or disaster
whenever she encountered Pomp, and this memorable afternoon was to make
no exception to the rule.

“Cynthy Ann,” she said to her daughter, in the afternoon, “I guess I’ll
go and spend the arternoon with Mis’ Forbes. I hain’t been to see her
for nigh a month, and I calc’late she’ll be glad to see me. Besides,
she ginerally bakes Thursdays, an’ mos’ likely she’ll have some hot
gingerbread. I’m partic’larly fond of gingerbread, an’ she does know how
to make it about the best of anybody I know on. You needn’t wait supper
for me, Cynthy Ann, for ef I don’t find Mis’ Forbes to home I’ll go on
to Mis’ Frost’s.”

Mrs. Payson put on her cloak and hood, and, armed with the work-bag and
the invariable blue cotton umbrella, sallied out. Mrs. Forbes lived at
the distance of a mile, but Mrs. Payson was a good walker for a woman of
her age, and less than half an hour brought her to the door of the brown
farmhouse in which Mrs. Forbes lived.

She knocked on the door with the handle of her umbrella. The summons was
answered by a girl of twelve.

“How dy do, Betsy?” said Mrs. Payson. “Is your ma’am to home?”

“No, she’s gone over to Webbington to spend two or three days with Aunt
Prudence.”

“Then she won’t be home to tea,” said Mrs. Payson, considerably
disappointed.

“No, ma’am, I don’t expect her before to-morrow.”

“Well, I declare for’t, I am disapp’inted,” said the old lady
regretfully. “I’ve walked a mile on puppus to see her. I’m most tuckered
out.”

“Won’t you step in and sit down?”

“Well, I don’t keer ef I do a few minutes. I feel like to drop. Do you
do the cooking while you maam’s gone?”

“No, she baked up enough to last before she went away.”

“You hain’t got any gingerbread in the house?” asked Mrs. Payson, with
subdued eagerness. “I always did say Mis’ Forbes beat the world at
makin’ gingerbread.”

“I’m very sorry, Mrs. Payson, but we ate the last for supper last
night.”

“Oh, dear!” sighed the old lady, “I feel sort of faint--kinder gone at
the stomach. I didn’t have no appetite at dinner, and I s’pose it don’t
agree with me walkin’ so fur on an empty stomach.”

“Couldn’t you eat a piece of pie?” asked Betsy sympathizingly.

“Well,” said the old lady reflectively, “I don’t know but I could eat
jest a bite. But you needn’t trouble yourself. I hate to give trouble to
anybody.”

“Oh, it won’t be any trouble,” said Betsy cheerfully.

“And while you’re about it,” added Mrs. Payson, “ef you have got any of
that cider you give me when I was here before, I don’t know but I could
worry down a little of it.”

“Yes, we’ve got plenty. I’ll bring it in with the pie.”

“Well,” murmured the old lady, “I’ll get something for my trouble. I
guess I’ll go and take supper at Mis’ Frost’s a’terward.”

Betsy brought in a slice of apple and one of pumpkin pie, and set them
down before the old lady. In addition she brought a generous mug of
cider.

The old lady’s eyes brightened, as she saw this substantial refreshment.

“You’re a good gal, Betsy,” she said in the overflow of her emotions.
“I was saying to my darter yesterday that I wish all the gals round here
was as good and considerate as you be.”

“Oh, no, Mrs. Payson,” said Betsy modestly. “I ain’t any better than
girls generally.”

“Yes, you be. There’s my granddarter, Jane, ain’t so respectful as she’d
arter be to her old grandma’am. I often tell her that when she gets to
have children of her own, she’ll know what tis to be a pilgrim an’ a
sojourner on the arth without nobody to consider her feelin’s. Your
cider is putty good.” Here the old lady took a large draft, and set down
the mug with a sigh of satisfaction. “It’s jest the thing to take when
a body’s tired. It goes to the right spot. Cynthy Ann’s husband didn’t
have none made this year. I wonder ef your ma would sell a quart or two
of it.”

“You can have it and welcome, Mrs. Payson.”

“Can I jest as well as not? Well, that’s kind. But I didn’t expect you
to give it to me.”

“Oh, we have got plenty.”

“I dunno how I can carry it home,” said the lady hesitatingly. “I wonder
ef some of your folks won’t be going up our way within a day or two.”

“We will send it. I guess father’ll be going up to-morrow.”

“Then ef you can spare it you might send round a gallon, an’ ef there’s
anything to pay I’ll pay for it.”

This little business arrangement being satisfactorily adjusted, and the
pie consumed, Mrs. Payson got up and said she must be going.

“I’m afraid you haven’t got rested yet, Mrs. Payson.”

“I ain’t hardly,” was the reply; “but I guess I shall stop on the way at
Mis’ Frost’s. Tell your ma I’ll come up an’ see her ag’in afore long.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“An’ you won’t forget to send over that cider?”

“No, ma’am.”

“I’m ashamed to trouble ye, but their ain’t anybody over to our
house that I can send. There’s Tom grudges doin’ anything for his old
grandma’am. A’ter all that I do for him, too! Good-by!”

The old lady set out on her way to Mrs. Frost’s.

Her road lay through the woods, where an unforeseen danger lay in wait
for her.

Meanwhile Pomp was pursuing military science under difficulties. The
weight of the musket made it very awkward for him to handle. Several
times he got out of patience with it, and apostrophized it in terms
far from complimentary. At last, in one of his awkward maneuvers, he
accidentally pulled the trigger. Instantly there was a loud report,
followed by a piercing shriek from the road. The charge had entered
old Mrs. Payson’s umbrella and knocked it out of her hand. The old
lady fancied herself hit, and fell backward, kicking energetically, and
screaming “murder” at the top of her lungs.

The musket had done double execution. It was too heavily loaded, and as
it went off, ‘kicked,’ leaving Pomp, about as scared as the old lady,
sprawling on the ground.

Henry Morton was only a few rods off when he heard the explosion. He at
once ran to the old lady’s assistance, fancying her hurt. She shrieked
the louder on his approach, imagining that he was a robber, and had
fired at her.

“Go away!” she cried, in affright. “I ain’t got any money. I’m a poor,
destitute widder!”

“What do you take me for?” inquired Mr. Morton, somewhat amazed at this
mode of address.

“Ain’t you a highwayman?” asked the old lady.

“If you look at me close I think you will be able to answer that
question for yourself.”

The old lady cautiously rose to a sitting posture, and, mechanically
adjusting her spectacles, took a good look at the young man.

“Why, I declare for it, ef it ain’t Mr. Morton! I thought ‘twas you that
fired at me.”

“I hope you are not hurt,” said Mr. Morton, finding a difficulty in
preserving his gravity.

“I dunno,” said the old lady dubiously, pulling up her sleeve, and
examining her arm. “I don’t see nothin’; but I expect I’ve had some
injury to my inards. I feel as ef I’d had a shock somewhere. Do you
think he’ll fire again?” she asked, with a sudden alarm.

“You need not feel alarmed,” was the soothing reply. “It was no doubt an
accident.”

Turning suddenly, he espied Pomp peering from behind a tree, with eyes
and mouth wide open. The little contraband essayed a hasty flight; but
Mr. Morton, by a masterly flank movement, came upon him, and brought
forward the captive kicking and struggling.

“Le’ me go!” said Pomp. “I ain’t done noffin’!”

“Didn’t you fire a gun at this lady?”

“No,” said Pomp boldly. “Wish I may be killed ef I did!”

“I know ‘twas you--you--you imp!” exclaimed Mrs. Payson, in violent
indignation. “I seed you do it. You’re the wust boy that ever lived, and
you’ll be hung jest as sure as I stan’ here!”

“How did it happen, Pomp?” asked Mr. Morton quietly.

“It jest shooted itself!” said Pomp, in whom the old lady’s words
inspired a vague feeling of alarm. “I ‘clare to gracious, Mass’ Morton,
it did!”

“Didn’t you have the gun in your hand, Pomp? Where did you get it?”

“I jest borrered it of Mass’ Frank, to play sojer a little while,” said
Pomp reluctantly.

“Does he know that you have got it?”

“I ‘clare I done forgot to tell him,” said Pomp reluctantly.

“Will you promise never to touch it again?”

“Don’t want to!” ejaculated Pomp, adding spitefully, “He kick me over!”

“I’m glad on’t,” said the old lady emphatically, with a grim air of
satisfaction. “That’ll l’arn you not to fire it off at your elders
ag’in. I’ve a great mind to box your ears, and sarve you right, too.”

Mrs. Payson advanced, to effect her purpose; but Pomp was wary, and,
adroitly freeing himself from Mr. Morton’s grasp, butted at the old lady
with such force that she would have fallen backward but for the timely
assistance of Mr. Morton, who sprang to her side. Her bag fell to the
ground, and she struggled to regain her lost breath.

“Oh!” groaned the old lady, gasping for breath, “he’s mos’ knocked the
breath out of me. I sha’n’t live long a’ter such a shock. I’m achin’ all
over. Why did you let him do it?”

“He was too quick for me, Mrs. Payson. I hope you feel better.”

“I dunno as I shall ever feel any better,” said Mrs. Payson gloomily.
“If Cynthy Ann only knew how her poor old ma’am had been treated! I
dunno as I shall live to get home!”

“Oh, yes, you will,” said the young man cheerfully, “and live to see a
good many years more. Would you like to have me attend you home?”

“I ain’t got strength to go so fur,” said Mrs. Payson, who had not
given up her plan of taking tea out. “I guess I could go as fur as
Mis’ Frost’s, an’ mebbe some on you will tackle up an’ carry me back to
Cynthy Ann’s a’ter tea.”

Arrived at the farmhouse, Mrs. Payson indulged in a long detail of
grievances; but it was observed that they did not materially affect her
appetite at tea.

The offending musket was found by Frank under a tree, where Pomp had
dropped it when it went off.



CHAPTER XXVIII. JOHN HAYNES HAS A NARROW ESCAPE

John Haynes found the time hang heavily upon his hand after his
withdrawal from the boys’ volunteer company. All the boys with whom he
had been accustomed to associate belonged to it, and in their
interest could talk of nothing else. To him, on the contrary, it was a
disagreeable subject. In the pleasant spring days the company came out
twice a week, and went through company drill on the Common, under the
command of Frank, or Captain Frost, as he was now called.

Had Frank shown himself incompetent, and made himself ridiculous by
blunders, it would have afforded John satisfaction. But Frank, thorough
in all things, had so carefully prepared himself for his duties that
he never made a mistake, and always acquitted himself so creditably and
with such entire self-possession, that his praises were in every mouth.

Dick Bumstead, too, manifested an ambition to fill his second
lieutenancy, to which, so much to his own surprise, he had been elected,
in such a manner as to justify the company in their choice. In this he
fully succeeded. He had become quite a different boy from what he was
when we first made his acquaintance. He had learned to respect himself,
and perceived with great satisfaction that he was generally respected by
the boys. He no longer attempted to shirk his work in the shop, and
his father now spoke of him with complacency, instead of complaint as
formerly.

“Yes,” said he one day, “Dick’s a good boy. He was always smart, but
rather fly-a-way. I couldn’t place any dependence upon him once, but it
is not so now. I couldn’t wish for a better boy. I don’t know what has
come over him, but I hope it’ll last.”

Dick happened to overhear his father speaking thus to a neighbor, and
he only determined, with a commendable feeling of pride, that the change
that had given his father so much pleasure should last. It does a boy
good to know that his efforts are appreciated. In this case it had a
happy effect upon Dick, who, I am glad to say, kept his resolution.

It has been mentioned that John was the possessor of a boat. Finding one
great source of amusement cut off, and being left very much to himself,
he fell back upon this, and nearly every pleasant afternoon he might
be seen rowing on the river above the dam. He was obliged to confine
himself to this part of the river, since, in the part below the dam, the
water was too shallow.

There is one great drawback, however, upon the pleasure of owning a
rowboat. It is tiresome to row single-handed after a time. So John found
it, and, not being overfond of active exertion, he was beginning to
get weary of this kind of amusement when all at once a new plan was
suggested to him. This was, to rig up a mast and sail, and thus obviate
the necessity of rowing.

No sooner had this plan suggested itself than he hastened to put it into
execution. His boat was large enough to bear a small mast, so there was
no difficulty on that head. He engaged the village carpenter to effect
the desired change. He did not choose to consult his father on the
subject, fearing that he might make some objection either on score of
safety or expense, while he had made up his mind to have his own way.

When it was finished, and the boat with its slender mast and white sail
floated gently on the quiet bosom of the stream, John’s satisfaction
was unbounded.

“You’ve got a pretty boat,” said Mr. Plane, the carpenter. “I suppose
you know how to manage it?” he added inquiringly.

“Yes,” answered John carelessly, “I’ve been in a sailboat before
to-day.”

Mr. Plane’s doubts were set at rest by John’s confident manner, and he
suppressed the caution which he had intended to give him. It made little
difference, however, for John was headstrong, and would have been pretty
certain to disregard whatever he might say.

It was true that this was not the first time John had been in a
sailboat; but if not the first, it was only the second. The first
occasion had been three years previous, and at that time he had had
nothing to do with the management of the boat--a very important
matter. It was in John’s nature to be over-confident, and he thought
he understood merely from observation exactly how a boat ought to be
managed. As we shall see, he found out his mistake.

The first day after his boat was ready John was greatly disappointed
that there was no wind. The next day, as if to make up for it, the wind
was very strong. Had John possessed a particle of prudence he would have
seen that it was no day to venture out in a sailboat. But he was not in
the habit of curbing his impatience, and he determined that he would not
wait till another day. He declared that it was a mere “capful of wind,”
 and would be all the better for the purpose.

“It’s a tip-top wind. Won’t it make my boat scud,” he said to himself
exultantly, as he took his place, and pushed off from shore.

Henry Morton had been out on a walk, and from the summit of a little
hill near the river-bank espied John pushing off in his boat.

“He’ll be sure to capsize,” thought the young man in alarm. “Even if he
is used to a sailboat he is very imprudent to put out in such a wind; I
will hurry down and save him if I can.”

He hurried to the bank of the river, reaching it out of breath.

John was by this time some distance out. The wind had carried him along
finely, the boat scudding, as he expressed it. He was congratulating
himself on the success of his trial trip, when all at once a flaw struck
the boat. Not being a skillful boatman he was wholly unprepared for it,
and the boat upset.

Struggling in terror and confusion, John struck out for the shore. But
he was not much of a swimmer, and the suddenness of the accident had
unnerved him, and deprived him of his self-possession. The current of
the river was rapid, and he would inevitably have drowned but for the
opportune assistance of Mr. Morton.

The young man had no sooner seen the boat capsize, than he flung off his
coat and boots, and, plunging into the river, swam vigorously toward the
imperiled boy.

Luckily for John, Mr. Morton was, though of slight frame, muscular,
and an admirable swimmer. He reached him just as John’s strokes were
becoming feebler and feebler; he was about to give up his unequal
struggle with the waves.

“Take hold of me,” he said. “Have courage, and I will save you.”

John seized him with the firm grip of a drowning person, and nearly
prevented him from striking out. But Mr. Morton’s strength served him
in good stead; and, notwithstanding the heavy burden, he succeeded in
reaching the bank in safety, though with much exhaustion.

John no sooner reached the bank than he fainted away. The great danger
which he had just escaped, added to his own efforts, had proved too much
for him.

Mr. Morton, fortunately knew how to act in such emergencies. By the use
of the proper remedies, he was fortunately brought to himself, and his
preserver offered to accompany him home. John still felt giddy, and
was glad to accept Mr. Morton’s offer. He knew that his father would
be angry with him for having the boat fitted up without his knowledge,
especially as he had directed Mr. Plane to charge it to his father’s
account. Supposing that Squire Haynes approved, the carpenter made no
objections to doing so. But even the apprehension of his father’s anger
was swallowed up by the thought of the great peril from which he had
just escaped, and the discomfort of the wet clothes which he had on.

Mr. Morton, too, was completely wet through, with the exception of his
coat, and but for John’s apparent inability to go home alone, would at
once have returned to his boarding-house to exchange his wet clothes for
dry ones.

It so happened that Squire Haynes was sitting at a front window, and saw
Mr. Morton and his son as they entered the gate and came up the graveled
walk. He had never met Mr. Morton, and was surprised now at seeing him
in John’s company. He had conceived a feeling of dislike to the young
man, for which he could not account, while at the same time he felt a
strong curiosity to know more of him.

When they came nearer, he perceived the drenched garments, and went to
the door himself to admit them.

“What’s the matter, John?” he demanded hastily, with a contraction of
the eyebrows.

“I’m wet!” said John shortly.

“It is easy to see that. But how came you so wet?”

“I’ve been in the river,” answered John, who did not seem disposed to
volunteer any particulars of his adventure.

“How came you there?”

“Your son’s boat capsized,” explained Mr. Morton; “and, as you will
judge from my appearance, I jumped in after him. I should advise him to
change his clothing, or he will be likely to take cold.”

Squire Haynes looked puzzled.

“I don’t see how a large rowboat like his could capsize,” he said; “he
must have been very careless.”

“It was a sailboat,” explained John, rather reluctantly.

“A sailboat! Whose?”

“Mine.”

“I don’t understand at all.”

“I had a mast put in, and a sail rigged up, two or three days since,”
 said John, compelled at last to explain.

“Why did you do this without my permission?” demanded the squire
angrily.

“Perhaps,” said Mr. Morton quietly, “it will be better to postpone
inquiries until your son has changed his clothes.”

Squire Haynes, though somewhat irritated by this interference, bethought
himself that it would be churlish not to thank his son’s preserver.

“I am indebted to you, sir,” he said, “for your agency in saving the
life of this rash boy. I regret that you should have got wet.”

“I shall probably experience nothing more than temporary inconvenience.”

“You have been some months in the village, I believe, Mr. Morton. I
trust you will call at an early day, and enable me to follow up the
chance which has made us acquainted.”

“I seldom make calls,” said Mr. Morton, in a distant tone. “Yet,” added
he, after a pause, “I may have occasion to accept your invitation some
day. Good morning, sir.”

“Good morning,” returned the squire, looking after him with an
expression of perplexity.

“He boards at the Frosts’, doesn’t he, John?” asked Squire Haynes,
turning to his son.

“Yes, sir.”

“There’s something in his face that seems familiar,” mused the squire
absently. “He reminds me of somebody, though I can’t recall who.”

It was not long before the squire’s memory was refreshed, and he
obtained clearer information respecting the young man, and the errand
which had brought him to Rossville. When that information came, it
was so far from pleasing that he would willingly have postponed it
indefinitely.



CHAPTER XXIX. MR. MORTON’S STORY

The planting-season was over. For a month Frank had worked
industriously, in conjunction with Jacob Carter. His father had sent
him directions so full and minute, that he was not often obliged to call
upon Farmer Maynard for advice. The old farmer proved to be very kind
and obliging. Jacob, too, was capable and faithful, so that the farm work
went on as well probably as if Mr. Frost had been at home.

One evening toward the middle of June, Frank walked out into the fields
with Mr. Morton. The corn and potatoes were looking finely. The garden
vegetables were up, and to all appearance doing well. Frank surveyed the
scene with a feeling of natural pride.

“Don’t you think I would make a successful farmer, Mr. Morton?” he
asked.

“Yes, Frank; and more than this, I think you will be likely to succeed
in any other vocation you may select.”

“I am afraid you’re flattering me, Mr. Morton.”

“Such is not my intention, Frank, but I like to award praise where I
think it due. I have noticed in you a disposition to be faithful to
whatever responsibility is imposed upon you, and wherever I see that I
feel no hesitation in predicting a successful career.”

“Thank you,” said Frank, looking very much pleased with the compliment.
“I try to be faithful. I feel that father has trusted me more than it is
usual to trust boys of my age, and I want to show myself worthy of his
confidence.”

“You are fortunate in having a father, Frank,” said the young man, with
a shade of sadness in his voice. “My father died before I was of your
age.”

“Do you remember him?” inquired Frank, with interest.

“I remember him well. He was always kind to me. I never remember to
have received a harsh word from him. It is because he was so kind and
indulgent to me that I feel the more incensed against a man who took
advantage of his confidence to defraud him, or, rather, me, through
him.”

“You have never mentioned this before, Mr. Morton.”

“No. I have left you all in ignorance of much of my history. This
morning, if it will interest you, I propose to take you into my
confidence.”

The eagerness with which Frank greeted this proposal showed that for him
the story would have no lack of interest.

“Let us sit down under this tree,” said Henry Morton, pointing to a
horse-chestnut, whose dense foliage promised a pleasant shelter from the
sun’s rays.

They threw themselves upon the grass, and he forthwith commenced his
story.

“My father was born in Boston, and, growing up, engaged in mercantile
pursuits. He was moderately successful, and finally accumulated fifty
thousand dollars. He would not have stopped there, for he was at the
time making money rapidly, but his health became precarious, and his
physician required him absolutely to give up business. The seeds of
consumption, which probably had been lurking for years in his system,
had begun to show themselves unmistakably, and required immediate
attention.

“By the advice of his physician he sailed for the West India Islands,
hoping that the climate might have a beneficial effect upon him. At that
time I was twelve years old, and an only child. My mother had died some
years before, so that I was left quite alone in the world. I was sent
for a time to Virginia, to my mother’s brother, who possessed a large
plantation and numerous slaves. Here I remained for six months. You will
remember that Aunt Chloe recognized me at first sight. You will not be
surprised at this when I tell you that she was my uncle’s slave, and
that as a boy I was indebted to her for many a little favor which she,
being employed in the kitchen, was able to render me. As I told you at
the time, my real name is not Morton. It will not be long before you
understand the reason of my concealment.

“My father had a legal adviser, in whom he reposed a large measure of
confidence, though events showed him to be quite unworthy of it. On
leaving Boston he divided his property, which had been converted into
money, into two equal portions. One part he took with him. The other
he committed to the lawyer’s charge. So much confidence had he in this
man’s honor, that he did not even require a receipt. One additional
safeguard he had, however. This was the evidence of the lawyer’s clerk,
who was present on the occasion of the deposit.

“My father went to the West Indies, but the change seemed only to
accelerate the progress of his malady. He lingered for a few months and
then died. Before his death he wrote two letters, one to my uncle and
one to myself. In these he communicated the fact of his having deposited
twenty-five thousand dollars with his lawyer. He mentioned incidentally
the presence of the lawyer’s clerk at the time. I am a little surprised
that he should have done it, as not the faintest suspicion of the
lawyer’s good faith had entered his thoughts.

“On receiving this letter my uncle, on my behalf, took measures to claim
this sum, and for this purpose came to Boston. Imagine his surprise and
indignation when the lawyer positively denied having received any such
deposit and called upon him, to prove it. With great effrontery he
declared that it was absurd to suppose that my father would have
entrusted him with any such sum without a receipt for it. This certainly
looked plausible, and I acknowledge that few except my father, who never
trusted without trusting entirely, would have acted so imprudently.

“‘Where is the clerk who was in your office at the time?” inquired my
uncle.

The lawyer looked somewhat discomposed at this question.

“‘Why do you ask?’ he inquired abruptly.

“‘Because,’ was the reply, ‘his evidence is very important to us. My
brother states that he was present when the deposit was made.’

“‘I don’t know where he is,’ said the lawyer. ‘He was too dissipated to
remain in my office, and I accordingly discharged him.’

“My uncle suspected that the clerk had been bribed to keep silence, and
for additional security sent off to some distant place.

“Nothing could be done. Strong as our suspicions, and absolute as was
our conviction of the lawyer’s guilt, we had no recourse. But from that
time I devoted my life to the exposure of this man. Fortunately I was
not without means. The other half of my father’s property came to me;
and the interest being considerably more than I required for my support,
I have devoted the remainder to, prosecuting inquiries respecting the
missing clerk. Just before I came to Rossville, I obtained a clue which
I have since industriously followed up.

“Last night I received a letter from my agent, stating that he had found
the man--that he was in a sad state of destitution, and that he was
ready to give his evidence.”

“Is the lawyer still living?” inquired Frank.

“He is.”

“What a villain he must be.”

“I am afraid he is, Frank.”

“Does he still live in Boston?”

“No. After he made sure of his ill-gotten gains, he removed into the
country, where he built him a fine house. He has been able to live a
life of leisure; but I doubt if he has been as happy as he would have
been had he never deviated from the path of rectitude.”

“Have you seen him lately?” asked Frank.

“I have seen him many times within the last few months,” said the young
man, in a significant tone.

Frank jumped to his feet in surprise. “You don’t mean----” he said, as a
sudden suspicion of the truth dawned upon his mind.

“Yes,” said Mr. Morton deliberately, “I do mean that the lawyer who
defrauded my father lives in this village. You know him well as Squire
Haynes.”

“I can hardly believe it,” said Frank, unable to conceal his
astonishment. “Do you think he knows who you are?”

“I think he has noticed my resemblance to my father. If I had not
assumed a different name he would have been sure to detect me. This
would have interfered with my plans, as he undoubtedly knew the
whereabouts of his old clerk, and would have arranged to remove him, so
as to delay his discovery, perhaps indefinitely. Here is the letter I
received last night. I will read it to you.”

The letter ran as follows:

“I have at length discovered the man of whom I have so long been in
search. I found him in Detroit. He had recently removed thither from St.
Louis. He is very poor, and, when I found him, was laid up with typhoid
fever in a mean lodging-house. I removed him to more comfortable
quarters, supplied him with relishing food and good medical assistance.
Otherwise I think he would have died. The result is, that he feels
deeply grateful to me for having probably saved his life. When I first
broached the idea of his giving evidence against his old employer, I
found him reluctant to do so--not from any attachment he bore him, but
from a fear that he would be held on a criminal charge for concealing a
felony. I have undertaken to assure him, on your behalf, that he
shall not be punished if he will come forward and give his evidence
unhesitatingly. I have finally obtained his promise to, do so.

“We shall leave Detroit day after to-morrow, and proceed to New England
by way of New York. Can you meet me in New York on the 18th inst.? You
can, in that case, have an interview with this man Travers; and it Will
be well to obtain his confession, legally certified, to guard against
any vacillation of purpose on his part. I have no apprehension of it,
but it is as well to be certain.”

This letter was signed by Mr. Morton’s agent.

“I was very glad to get that letter, Frank,” said his companion. “I
don’t think I care so much for the money, though that is not to be
despised, since it will enable me to do more good than at present I have
it in my power to do. But there is one thing I care for still more, and
that is, to redeem my father’s memory from reproach. In the last letter
he ever wrote he made a specific statement, which this lawyer declares
to be false. The evidence of his clerk will hurl back the falsehood upon
himself.”

“How strange it is, Mr. Morton,” exclaimed Frank, “that you should have
saved the life of a son of the man who has done so much to injure you!”

“Yes, that gives me great satisfaction. I do not wish Squire Haynes any
harm, but I am determined that justice shall be done. Otherwise than
that, if I can be of any service to him, I shall not refuse.”

“I remember now,” said Frank, after a moment’s pause, “that, on the
first Sunday you appeared at church, Squire Haynes stopped me to inquire
who you were.”

“I am thought to look much as my father did. He undoubtedly saw the
resemblance. I have often caught his eyes fixed upon me in perplexity
when he did not know that I noticed him. It is fourteen years since my
father died. Retribution has been slow, but it has come at last.”

“When do you go on to New York?” asked Frank, recalling the agent’s
request.

“I shall start to-morrow morning. For the present I will ask you to keep
what I have said a secret even from your good mother. It is as well not
to disturb Squire Haynes in his fancied security until we are ready to
overwhelm him with our evidence.”

“How long shall you be absent, Mr. Morton?”

“Probably less than a week. I shall merely say that I have gone on
business. I trust to your discretion to say nothing more.”

“I certainly will not,” said Frank. “I am very much obliged to you for
having told me first.”

The two rose from their grassy seats, and walked slowly back to the
farmhouse.



CHAPTER XXX. FRANK CALLS ON SQUIRE HAYNES

The next morning Mr. Morton was a passenger by the early stage for
Webbington, where he took the train for Boston. Thence he was to proceed
to New York by the steamboat train.

“Good-by, Mr. Morton,” said Frank, waving his cap as the stage started.
“I hope you’ll soon be back.”

“I hope so, too; good-by.”

Crack went the whip, round went the wheels. The horses started, and the
stage rumbled off, swaying this way and that, as if top-heavy.

Frank went slowly back to the house, feeling quite lonely. He had become
so accustomed to Mr. Morton’s companionship that his departure left a
void which he hardly knew how to fill.

As he reflected upon Mr. Morton’s story he began to feel an increased
uneasiness at the mortgage held by Squire Haynes upon his father’s farm.
The time was very near at hand--only ten days off--when the mortgage
might be foreclosed, and but half the money was in readiness.

Perhaps, however, Squire Haynes had no intention of foreclosing. If so,
there was no occasion for apprehension. But about this he felt by no
means certain.

He finally determined, without consulting his mother, to make the squire
a visit and inquire frankly what he intended to do. The squire’s answer
would regulate his future proceedings.

It was Frank’s rule--and a very good one, too--to do at once whatever
needed to be done. He resolved to lose no time in making his call.

“Frank,” said his mother, as he entered the house, “I want you to go
down to the store some time this forenoon, and get me half a dozen
pounds of sugar.”

“Very well, mother, I’ll go now. I suppose it won’t make any difference
if I don’t come back for an hour or two.”

“No, that will be in time.”

Mrs. Frost did not ask Frank where he was going. She had perfect faith
in him, and felt sure that he would never become involved in anything
discreditable.

Frank passed through the village without stopping at the store. He
deferred his mother’s errand until his return. Passing up the village
street, he stopped before the fine house of Squire Haynes. Opening the
gate he walked up the graveled path and rang the bell.

A servant-girl came to the door.

“Is Squire Haynes at home?” inquired Frank.

“Yes, but he’s eating breakfast.”

“Will he be through soon?”

“Shure and I think so.”

“Then I will step in and wait for him.”

“Who shall I say it is?”

“Frank Frost.”

Squire Haynes had just passed his cup for coffee when Bridget entered
and reported that Frank Frost was in the drawing-room and would like to
see him when he had finished his breakfast.

“Frank Frost!” repeated the squire, arching his eyebrows. “What does he
want, I wonder?”

“Shure he didn’t say,” said Bridget.

“Very well.”

“He is captain of the boys’ company, John, isn’t he?” asked the squire.

“Yes,” said John sulkily. “I wish him joy of his office. I wouldn’t have
anything to do with such a crowd of ragamuffins.”

Of course the reader understands that this was “sour grapes” on John’s
part.

Finishing his breakfast leisurely, Squire Haynes went into the room
where Frank was sitting patiently awaiting him.

Frank rose as he entered.

“Good morning, Squire Haynes,” he said, politely rising as he spoke.

“Good morning,” said the squire coldly. “You are an early visitor.”

If this was intended for a rebuff, Frank did not choose to take any
notice of it.

“I call on a little matter of business, Squire Haynes,” continued Frank.

“Very well,” said the squire, seating himself in a luxurious armchair,
“I am ready to attend to you.”

“I believe you hold a mortgage on our farm.”

Squire Haynes started. The thought of Frank’s real business had not
occurred to him. He had hoped that nothing would have been said in
relation to the mortgage until he was at liberty to foreclose, as he
wished to take the Frosts unprepared. He now resolved, if possible, to
keep Frank in ignorance of his real purpose, that he might not think it
necessary to prepare for his attack.

“Yes,” said he indifferently; “I hold quite a number of mortgages, and
one upon your father’s farm among them.”

“Isn’t the time nearly run out?” asked Frank anxiously.

“I can look if you desire it,” said the squire, in the same indifferent
tone.

“I should be glad if you would.”

“May I ask why you are desirous of ascertaining the precise date?” asked
the squire. “Are you intending to pay off the mortgage?”

“No, sir,” said Frank. “We are not prepared to do so at present.”

Squire Haynes felt relieved. He feared for a moment that Mr. Frost had
secured the necessary sum, and that he would be defeated in his wicked
purpose.

He drew out a large number of papers, which he rather ostentatiously
scattered about the table, and finally came to the mortgage.

“The mortgage comes due on the first of July,” he said.

“Will it be convenient for you to renew it, Squire Haynes?” asked Frank
anxiously. “Father being absent, it would be inconvenient for us to
obtain the amount necessary to cancel it. Of course, I shall be ready to
pay the interest promptly.”

“Unless I should have sudden occasion for the money,” said the squire,
“I will let it remain. I don’t think you need feel any anxiety on the
subject.”

With the intention of putting Frank off his guard, Squire Haynes assumed
a comparatively gracious tone. This, in the case of any other man, would
have completely reassured Frank. But he had a strong distrust of the
squire, since the revelation of his character made by his friend Mr.
Morton.

“Could you tell me positively?” he asked, still uneasy. “It is only ten
days now to the first of July, and that is little enough to raise the
money in.”

“Don’t trouble yourself,” said the squire. “I said unless I had sudden
occasion for the money, because unforeseen circumstances might arise.
But as I have a considerable sum lying at the bank, I don’t anticipate
anything of the kind.”

“I suppose you will give me immediate notice, should it be necessary.
We can pay four hundred dollars now. So, if you please, the new mortgage
can be made out for half the present amount.”

“Very well,” said the squire carelessly. “Just as you please as to that.
Still, as you have always paid my interest regularly, I consider the
investment a good one, and have no objection to the whole remaining.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Frank, rising to go.

Frank took his hat, and, bowing to the squire, sought the front door.
His face wore a perplexed expression. He hardly knew what to think about
the interview he had just had.

“Squire Haynes talks fair enough,” he soliloquized; “and, perhaps, he
means what he says. If it hadn’t been for what Mr. Morton told me, I
should have confidence in him. But a man who will betray a trust is
capable of breaking his word to me. I think I’ll look round a little,
and see if I can’t provide for the worse in case it comes.”

Just after Frank left the house, John entered his father’s presence.

“What did Frank Frost want of you, father?” he asked.

“He came about the mortgage.”

“Did he want to pay it?”

“No, he wants me to renew it.”

“Of course you refused.”

“Of course I did no such thing. Do you think I am a fool?”

“You don’t mean to say that you agreed to renew it?” demanded John, in
angry amazement.

Squire Haynes rather enjoyed John’s mystification.

“Come,” said he, “I’m afraid you’ll never make a lawyer if you’re not
sharper than that comes to. Never reveal your plans to your adversary.
That’s an important principle. If I had refused, he would have gone
to work, and in ten days between now and the first of July, he’d have
managed in some way to scrape together the eight hundred dollars. He’s
got half of it now.”

“What did you tell him, then?”

“I put him off by telling him not to trouble himself--that I would not
foreclose the mortgage unless I had unexpected occasion for the money.”

“Yes, I see,” said John, his face brightening at the anticipated
disaster to the Frosts. “You’ll take care that there shall be some
sudden occasion.”

“Yes,” said the squire complacently. “I’ll have a note come due, which I
had not thought about, or something of the kind.”

“Oh, that’ll be bully.”

“Don’t use such low words, John. I have repeatedly requested you to
be more careful about your language. By the way, your teacher told me
yesterday that you are not doing as well now as formerly.”

“Oh, he’s an old muff. Besides, he’s got a spite against me. I should do
a good deal better at another school.”

“We’ll see about that. But I suspect he’s partly right.”

“Well, how can a feller study when he knows the teacher is determined to
be down upon him?”

“‘Feller!’ I am shocked at hearing you use that word. ‘Down upon him,’
too!”

“Very well; let me go where I won’t hear such language spoken.”

It would have been well if Squire Haynes had been as much shocked by bad
actions as by low language.

This little disagreement over, they began again to anticipate with
pleasure the effect of the squire’s premeditated blow upon the Frosts.

“We’ll come up with ‘em?” said John, with inward exultation.

Meanwhile, though the squire was entirely unconscious of it, there was a
sword hanging over his own head.



CHAPTER XXXI. SQUIRE HAYNES SPRINGS HIS TRAP

As intimated in the last chapter, Frank determined to see if he could
not raise the money necessary to pay off the mortgage in case it should
be necessary to do so.

Farmer Maynard was a man in very good circumstances. He owned an
excellent farm, which yielded more than enough to support his family.
Probably he had one or two thousand dollars laid aside.

“I think he will help me,” Frank said to himself, “I’ll go to him.”

He went to the house, and was directed to the barn. There he found
the farmer engaged in mending a hoe-handle, which had been broken, by
splicing it.

He unfolded his business. The farmer listened attentively to his
statement.

“You say the squire as much as told you that he would renew the
mortgage?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I wouldn’t trouble myself then; I’ve no doubt he’ll do it.”

“He said, unless he should have some sudden occasion for the money.”

“All right. He is a prudent man, and don’t want to bind himself. That is
all. You know the most unlikely things may happen; but I don’t believe
the squire’ll want the money. He’s got plenty in the bank.”

“But if he should?”

“Then he’ll wait, or take part. I suppose you can pay part.”

“Yes, half.”

“Then I guess there won’t be any chance of anything going wrong.”

“If there should,” persisted Frank, “could you lend us four hundred
dollars to make up the amount?”

“I’d do it in a minute, Frank, but I hain’t got the money by me. What
money I have got besides the farm is lent out in notes. Only last week
I let my brother-in-law have five hundred dollars, and that leaves me
pretty short.”

“Perhaps somebody else will advance the money,” said Frank, feeling a
little discouraged at the result of his first application.

“Yes, most likely. But I guess you won’t need any assistance. I look
upon it as certain that the mortgage will be renewed. Next fall I shall
have the money, and if the squire wants to dispose of the mortgage, I
shall be ready to take it off his hands.”

Frank tried to feel that he was foolish in apprehending trouble from
Squire Haynes, but he found it impossible to rid himself of a vague
feeling of uneasiness.

He made application to another farmer--an intimate friend of his
father’s--but he had just purchased and paid for a five-acre lot
adjoining his farm, and that had stripped him of money. He, too,
bade Frank lay aside all anxiety, and assured him that his fears were
groundless.

With this Frank had to be content.

“Perhaps I am foolish,” he said to himself. “I’ll try to think no more
about it.”

He accordingly returned to his usual work, and, not wishing to trouble
his mother to no purpose, resolved not to impart his fears to her.
Another ground of relief suggested itself to him. Mr. Morton would
probably be back on the 27th of June. Such, at least, was his
anticipation when he went away. There was reason to believe that he
would be both ready and willing to take up the mortgage, if needful.
This thought brought back Frank’s cheerfulness.

It was somewhat dashed by the following letter which he received a day
or two later from his absent friend. It was dated New York, June 25,
1863. As will appear from its tenor, it prepared Frank for a further
delay in Mr. Morton’s arrival.


“DEAR FRANK: I shall not be with you quite as soon as I intended. I
hope, however, to return a day or two afterward at latest. My business
is going on well, and I am assured of final success. Will you ask your
mother if she can accommodate an acquaintance of mine for a day or two?
I shall bring him with me from New York, and shall feel indebted for the
accommodation.

“Your true friend,

“HENRY MORTON.”


Frank understood at once that the acquaintance referred to must be
the clerk, whose evidence was so important to Mr. Morton’s case. Being
enjoined to secrecy, however, he, of course, felt that he was not at
liberty to mention this.

One day succeeded another until at length the morning of the thirtieth
of June dawned. Mr. Morton had not yet arrived; but, on the other hand,
nothing had been heard from Squire Haynes.

Frank began to breathe more freely. He persuaded himself that he had
been foolishly apprehensive. “The squire means to renew the mortgage,”
 he said to himself hopefully.

He had a talk with his mother, and she agreed that it would be well to
pay the four hundred dollars they could spare, and have a new mortgage
made out for the balance. Frank accordingly rode over to Brandon in the
forenoon, and withdrew from the bank the entire sum there deposited to
his father’s credit. This, with money which had been received from Mr.
Morton in payment of his board, made up the requisite amount.

About four o’clock in the afternoon, as Mrs. Frost was sewing at a front
window, she exclaimed to Frank, who was making a kite for his little
brother Charlie, “Frank, there’s Squire Haynes coming up the road.”

Frank’s heart gave an anxious bound.

“Is he coming here?” he asked, with anxiety.

“Yes,” said Mrs. Frost, after a moment’s pause. Frank turned pale with
apprehension.

A moment afterward the huge knocker was heard to sound, and Mrs. Frost,
putting down her work, smoothed her apron and went to the door.

“Good afternoon, Mrs. Frost,” said the squire, lifting his hat.

“Good afternoon, Squire Haynes. Won’t you walk in?”

“Thank you; I will intrude for a few minutes. How do you do?” he said,
nodding to Frank as he entered.

“Pretty well, thank you, sir,” said Frank nervously.

The squire, knowing the odium which would attach to the course he had
settled upon, resolved to show the utmost politeness to the family he
was about to injure, and justify his action by the plea of necessity.

“Take a seat, Squire Haynes,” said Mrs. Frost “You’ll find this
rocking-chair more comfortable.’

“I am very well seated, thank you. I cannot stop long. I have merely
called on a matter of business.”

“About the mortgage?” interrupted Frank, who could keep silence no
longer.

“Precisely so. I regret to say that I have urgent occasion for the
money, and shall be unable to renew it.”

“We have got four hundred dollars,” said Mrs. Frost, “which we are
intending to pay.”

“I am sorry to say that this will not answer my purpose.”

“Why did you not let us know before?” asked Frank abruptly.

“Frank!” said his mother reprovingly.

“It was only this morning that the necessity arose. I have a note due
which must be paid.”

“We are not provided with the money, Squire Haynes,” said Mrs. Frost.
“if, however, you will wait a few days, we can probably raise it among
our friends.”

“I regret to say that this will not do,” said the squire, “I would
gladly postpone the matter. The investment has been satisfactory to me,
but necessity knows no law.”

Frank was about to burst out with some indignant exclamation, but his
mother, checking him, said: “I think there is little chance of our being
able to pay you to-morrow. May I inquire what course you propose to
take?”

“It will be my painful duty to foreclose the mortgage.”

“Squire Haynes,” said Frank boldly, “haven’t you intended to foreclose
the mortgage all along? Hadn’t you decided about it when I called upon
you ten days ago?”

“What do you mean by your impertinence, sir?” demanded the squire,
giving vent to his anger.

“Just what I say. I believe you bear a grudge against my father, and
only put me off the other day in order to prevent my being able to
meet your demands to-morrow. What do you suppose we can do in less than
twenty-four hours?”

“Madam!” said the squire, purple with rage, “do you permit your son to
insult me in this manner?”

“I leave it to your conscience, Squire Haynes, whether his charges are
not deserved. I do not like to think ill of any man, but your course is
very suspicious.”

“Madam,” said Squire Haynes, now thoroughly enraged, “you are a woman,
and can say what you please; but as for this young rascal, I’ll beat him
within an inch of his life if I ever catch him out of your presence.”

“He is under the protection of the laws,” said Mrs. Frost composedly,
“which you, being a lawyer, ought to understand.”

“I’ll have no mercy on you. I’ll sell you up root and branch,” said
Squire Haynes, trembling with passion, and smiting the floor with his
cane.

“At all events the house is ours to-day,” returned Mrs. Frost, with
dignity, “and I must request you to leave us in quiet possession of it.”

The squire left the house in undignified haste, muttering threats as he
went.

“Good, mother!” exclaimed Frank admiringly. “You turned him out
capitally. But,” he added, an expression of dismay stealing over his
face, “what shall we do?”

“We must try to obtain a loan,” said Mrs. Frost, “I will go and see Mr.
Sanger, while you go to Mr. Perry. Possibly they may help us. There is
no time to be lost.”

An hour afterward Frank and his mother returned, both disappointed.
Mr. Sanger and Mr. Perry both had the will to help but not the ability.
There seemed no hope left save in Mr. Morton. At six o’clock the stage
rolled up to the gate.

“Thank Heaven! Mr. Morton has come!” exclaimed Frank eagerly.

Mr. Morton got out of the stage, and with him a feeble old man, or
such he seemed, whom the young man assisted to alight. They came up the
gravel walk together.

“How do you do, Frank?” he said, with a cheerful smile.

“We are in trouble,” said Frank. “Squire Haynes is going to foreclose
the mortgage to-morrow.”

“Never mind!” said Mr. Morton. “We will be ready for him. He can’t do
either of us any more mischief, Frank. His race is about run.”

A heavy weight seemed lifted from Frank’s heart. For the rest of the day
he was in wild spirits. He asked no questions of Mr. Morton. He felt a
firm confidence that all would turn out for the best.



CHAPTER XXXII. TURNING THE TABLES

The next morning Mr. Morton made inquiries of Frank respecting the
mortgage. Frank explained that a loan of four hundred dollars would
enable him to cancel it.

“That is very easily arranged, then,” said Henry Morton.

He opened his pocketbook and drew out four crisp new United States
notes, of one hundred dollars each.

“There, Frank,” said he; “that will loosen the hold Squire Haynes has
upon you. I fancy he will find it a little more difficult to extricate
himself from my grasp.”

“How can I ever thank you, Mr. Morton?” said Frank, with emotion.

“It gives me great pleasure to have it in my power to be of service to
you, Frank,” said his friend kindly.

“We will have a mortgage made out to you,” continued Frank.

“Not without my consent, I hope,” said Mr. Morton, smiling.

Frank looked puzzled.

“No, Frank,” resumed Mr. Morton, “I don’t care for any security. You may
give me a simple acknowledgment of indebtedness, and then pay me at your
leisure.”

Frank felt with Justice that Mr. Morton was acting very generously, and
he was more than ever drawn to him.

So passed the earlier hours of the forenoon.

About eleven o’clock Squire Haynes was observed approaching the house.
His step was firm and elastic, as if he rejoiced in the errand he was
upon. Again he lifted the knocker, and sounded a noisy summons. It was
in reality a summons to surrender.

The door was opened again by Mrs. Frost, who invited the squire to
enter. He did so, wondering at her apparent composure.

“They can’t have raised the money,” thought he apprehensively. “No, I am
sure the notice was too short.”

Frank was in the room, but Squire Haynes did not deign to notice him,
nor did Frank choose to make advances. Mrs. Frost spoke upon indifferent
subjects, being determined to force Squire Haynes to broach himself the
business that had brought him to the farm.

Finally, clearing his throat, he said: “Well, madam, are you prepared to
cancel the mortgage which I hold upon your husband’s farm?”

“I hope,” said Mrs. Frost, “you will give us time. It is hardly possible
to obtain so large a sum in twenty-four hours.”

“They haven’t got it,” thought the squire exultingly.

“As to that,” he said aloud, “you’ve had several years to get ready in.”

“Have you no consideration? Remember my husband’s absence, and I am
unacquainted with business.”

“I have already told you,” said the squire hastily, “that I require the
money. I have a note to pay, and----”

“Can you give us a week?”

“No, I must have the money at once.”

“And if we cannot pay?”

“I must foreclose.”

“Will that give you the money any sooner? I suppose you would have to
advertise the farm for sale before you could realize anything, and I
hardly think that car be accomplished sooner than a week hence.”

“The delay is only a subterfuge on your part,” said the squire hotly.
“You would be no better prepared at the end of a week than you are now.”

“No, perhaps not,” said Mrs. Frost quietly.

“And yet you ask me to wait,” said the squire indignantly. “Once for
all, let me tell you that all entreaties are vain. My mind is made up to
foreclose, and foreclose I will.”

“Don’t be too sure of that,” interrupted Frank, with a triumphant smile.

“Ha, young impudence!” exclaimed the squire, wheeling round. “Who’s to
prevent me, I should like to know?”

“I am,” said Frank boldly.

The squire fingered his cane nervously. He was very strongly tempted to
lay it on our hero’s back. But he reflected that the power was in his
hands, and that he was sure of his revenge.

“You won’t gain anything by your impudence,” he said loftily. “I might
have got you a place, out of pity to your mother, if you had behaved
differently. I need a boy to do odd jobs about the house, and I might
have offered the place to you.”

“Thank you for your kind intentions,” said Frank, “but I fear the care
of this farm will prevent my accepting your tempting offer.”

“The care of the farm!” repeated the squire angrily. “Do you think I
will delegate it to you?”

“I don’t see what you have to do about it,” said Frank.

“Then you’ll find out,” roared the squire. “I shall take immediate
possession, and require you to leave at once.”

“Then I suppose we had better pay the mortgage, mother,” said Frank.

“Pay the mortgage! You can’t do it,” said the squire exultingly.

“Have you the document with you?” inquired Mrs. Frost.

“Yes, madam.”

“Name the amount due on it.”

“With interest eight hundred and twenty-four dollars.”

“Frank, call in Mr. Morton as a witness.”

Mr. Morton entered.

“Now, Frank, you may count out the money.”

“What!” stammered the squire, in dismay, “can you pay it.”

“We can.”

“Why didn’t you tell me so in the first place?” demanded Squire Haynes,
his wrath excited by his bitter disappointment.

“I wished to ascertain whether your course was dictated by necessity or
a desire to annoy and injure us. I can have no further doubt about it.”

There was no help for it. Squire Haynes was compelled to release his
hold upon the Frost Farm, and pocket his money. He had never been so
sorry to receive money before.

This business over, he was about to beat a hurried retreat, when he was
suddenly arrested by a question from Henry Morton.

“Can you spare me a few minutes, Squire Haynes?”

“I am in haste, sir.”

“My business is important, and has already been too long delayed.”

“Too long delayed?”

“Yes, it has waited twelve years.”

“I don’t understand you, sir,” said the squire.

“Perhaps I can assist you. You know me as Henry Morton. That is not my
real name.”

“An alias!” sneered the squire in a significant tone.

“Yes, I had my reasons,” returned the young man, unmoved.

“I have no doubt of it.”

Henry Morton smiled, but did not otherwise notice the unpleasant
imputation.

“My real name is Richard Waring.”

Squire Haynes started violently and scrutinized the young man closely
through his spectacles. His vague suspicions were confirmed.

“Do you wish to know my business with you?”

The squire muttered something inaudible.

“I demand the restitution of the large sum of money entrusted to you by
my father, just before his departure to the West Indies--a sum of which
you have been the wrongful possessor for twelve years.”

“Do you mean to insult me?” exclaimed the squire, bold in the assurance
that the sole evidence of his fraud was undiscovered.

“Unless you comply with my demand I shall proceed against you legally,
and you are enough of a lawyer to understand the punishment meted out to
that description of felony.”

“Pooh, pooh! Your threats won’t avail you,” said the squire
contemptuously. “Your plan is a very clumsy one. Let me suggest to
you, young man, that threats for the purpose of extorting money are
actionable.”

“Do you doubt my identity?”

“You may very probably be the person you claim to be, but that won’t
save you.”

“Very well. You have conceded one point.”

He walked quietly to the door of the adjoining room, opened it, and in a
distinct voice called “James Travers.”

At the sound of this name Squire Haynes sank into a chair, ashy pale.

A man, not over forty, but with seamed face, hair nearly white, and a
form evidently broken with ill health, slowly entered.

Squire Haynes beheld him with dismay.

“You see before you, Squire Haynes, a man whose silence has been your
safeguard for the last twelve years. His lips are now unsealed. James
Travers, tell us what you know of the trust reposed in this man by my
father.”

“No, no,” said the squire hurriedly. “It--it is enough. I will make
restitution.”

“You have done wisely,” said Richard Waring. (We must give him his true
name.) “When will you be ready to meet me upon this business?”

“To-morrow,” muttered the squire.

He left the house with the air of one who has been crushed by a sudden
blow.

The pride of the haughty had been laid low, and retribution, long
deferred, had come at last.

Numerous and hearty were the congratulations which Mr. Morton--I mean
Mr. Waring--received upon his new accession of property.

“I do not care so much for that,” he said, “but my father’s word has
been vindicated. My mind is now at peace.”

There was more than one happy heart at the farm that night. Mr. Waring
had accomplished the great object of his life; and as for Frank and his
mother, they felt that the black cloud which had menaced their happiness
had been removed, and henceforth there seemed prosperous days in store.
To cap the climax of their happiness, the afternoon mail brought a
letter from Mr. Frost, in which he imparted the intelligence that he had
been promoted to a second lieutenancy.

“Mother,” said Frank, “you must be very dignified now, You are an
officer’s wife.”



CHAPTER XXXIII. CONCLUSION

The restitution which Squire Haynes was compelled to make stripped him
of more than half his property. His mortification and chagrin was so
great that he determined to remove from Rossville. He gave no intimation
where he was going, but it is understood that he is now living in the
vicinity of Philadelphia, in a much more modest way than at Rossville.

To anticipate matters a little, it may be said that John was recently
examined for college, but failed so signally that he will not again make
the attempt. He has shown a disposition to be extravagant, which, unless
curbed, will help him run through his father’s diminished property at a
rapid rate whenever it shall come into his possession.

The squire’s handsome house in Rossville was purchased by Henry
Morton--I must still be allowed to call him thus, though not his real
name. He has not yet taken up his residence there, but there is reason
to believe that ere long there will be a Mrs. Morton to keep him company
therein.

Not long since, as he and Frank lay stretched out beneath a
thick-branching oak in the front yard at the farm, Mr. Morton turned to
our hero and said, “Are you meaning to go to college when your father
comes home, Frank?”

Frank hesitated.

“I have always looked forward to it,” he said, “but lately I have been
thinking that I shall have to give up the idea.”

“Why so?”

“Because it is so expensive that my father cannot, in justice to his
other children, support me through a four years’ course. Besides, you
know, Mr. Morton, we are four hundred dollars in your debt.”

“Should you like very much to go to college, Frank?”

“Better than anything else in the world.”

“Then you shall go.”

Frank looked up in surprise.

“Don’t you understand me?” said Mr. Morton.

“I mean that I will defray your expenses through college.”

Frank could hardly believe his ears.

“You would spend so much money on me!” he exclaimed incredulously. “Why,
it will cost a thousand dollars.”

“Very well, I can afford it,” said Mr. Morton. “But perhaps you object
to the plan.”

“How good you are to me!” said Frank, impulsively seizing his friend’s
hand. “What have I done to deserve so much kindness?”

“You have done your duty, Frank, at the sacrifice of your inclinations.
I think you ought to be rewarded. God has bestowed upon me more than I
need. I think he intends that I shall become his almoner. If you
desire to express your gratitude, you can best do it by improving the
advantages which will be opened to you.”

Frank hastened to his mother to communicate his brilliant prospects. Her
joy was scarcely less than his.

“Do not forget, Frank,” she said, “who it is that has raised up this
friend for you. Give Him the thanks.”

There was another whose heart was gladdened when this welcome news
reached him in his tent beside the Rappahannock. He felt that while
he was doing his duty in the field, God was taking better care of his
family than he could have done if he remained at home.

Before closing this chronicle I must satisfy the curiosity of my readers
upon a few points in which they may feel interested.

The Rossville Guards are still in existence, and Frank is still their
captain. They have already done escort duty on several occasions, and
once they visited Boston, and marched up State Street with a precision
of step which would have done no discredit to veteran soldiers.

Dick Bumstead’s reformation proved to be a permanent one. He is Frank’s
most intimate friend, and with his assistance is laboring to remedy the
defects of his early education. He has plenty of ability, and, now that
he has turned over a new leaf, I have no hesitation in predicting for
him a useful and honorable career.

Old Mrs. Payson has left Rossville, much to the delight of her grandson
Sam, who never could get along with his grandmother. She still wears for
best the “bunnit” presented her by Cynthy Ann, which, notwithstanding
its mishap, seems likely to last her to the end of her natural life. She
still has a weakness for hot gingerbread and mince pie, and, though
she is turned of seventy, would walk a mile any afternoon with such an
inducement.

Should any of my readers at any time visit the small town of Sparta, and
encounter in the street a little old lady dressed in a brown cloak
and hood, and firmly grasping in her right hand a faded blue cotton
umbrella, they may feel quite certain that they are in the presence of
Mrs. Mehitabel Payson, relict of Jeremiah Payson, deceased.

Little Pomp has improved very much both in his studies and his behavior.
He now attends school regularly, and is quite as far advanced as most
boys of his age. Though he is not entirely cured of his mischievous
propensities, he behaves “pretty well, considering,” and is a great deal
of company to old Chloe, to whom he reads stories in books lent him by
Frank and others. Chloe is amazingly proud of Pomp, whom she regards as
a perfect prodigy of talent.

“Lor’ bress you, missus,” she remarked to Mrs. Frost one day, “he reads
jest as fast as I can talk. He’s an awful smart boy, dat Pomp.”

“Why don’t you let him teach you to read, Chloe?”

“Oh, Lor’, missus, I couldn’t learn, nohow. I ain’t got no gumption. I
don’t know noffin’.”

“Why couldn’t you learn as well as Pomp?”

“Dat ar boy’s a gen’us, missus. His fader was a mighty smart nigger, and
Pomp’s took arter him.”

Chloe’s conviction of her own inferiority and Pomp’s superior ability
seemed so rooted that Mrs. Frost finally gave up her persuasions.
Meanwhile, as Chloe is in good health and has abundance of work, she has
no difficulty in earning a comfortable subsistence for herself and Pomp.
As soon as Pomp is old enough, Frank will employ him upon the farm.

While I am writing these lines intelligence has just been received from
Frank’s substitute at the seat of war. He has just been promoted to a
captaincy. In communicating this he adds: “You may tell Frank that I am
now his equal in rank, though his commission bears an earlier date. I
suppose, therefore, I must content myself with being Captain Frost, Jr.
I shall be very glad when the necessities of the country will permit me
to lay aside the insignia of rank and, returning to Rossville, subside
into plain Henry Frost again. If you ask me when this is to be, I can
only say that it depends on the length of our struggle. I am enlisted
for the war, and I mean to see it through! Till that time Frank must
content himself with acting as my substitute at home. I am so well
pleased with his management of the farm that I am convinced it is doing
as well as if I were at home to superintend it in person. Express to Mr.
Waring my gratitude for the generous proposal he has made to Frank. I
feel that words are inadequate to express the extent of our obligations
to him.”


Some years have passed since the above letter was written. The war is
happily over, and Captain Frost has returned home with an honorable
record of service. Released from duty at home, Frank has exchanged the
farm for the college hall, and he is now approaching graduation, one
of the foremost scholars in his class. He bids fair to carry out the
promise of his boyhood, and in the more varied and prolonged campaign
which manhood opens before him we have reason to believe that he will
display equal fidelity and gain an equal success.





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