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

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


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

Title: West Point Colors
Author: Warner, Anna Bartlett
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "West Point Colors" ***

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



Internet Archive (https://archive.org)



      and recorded music.
      Images of the original pages are available through
      Internet Archive. See
      https://archive.org/details/westpointcolorsa00warn



WEST POINT COLORS


[Illustration: THE FLAG]


WEST POINT COLORS

by

ANNA B. WARNER


_"My only regret is that I have but one life to give
for my country."_

NATHAN HALE.


[Illustration: Colophon]



New York Chicago Toronto
Fleming H. Revell Company
London and Edinburgh

Copyright, 1903, by
Fleming H. Revell Company
(October)

New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
Chicago: 63 Washington Street
Toronto: 27 Richmond Street, W.
London: 21 Paternoster Square
Edinburgh: 30 St. Mary Street



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER,                             PAGE

  I.       THE BOY,                       9
  II.      MEANS TO AN END,              14
  III.     THE NIGHT EXPRESS,            21
  IV.      READY FOR DUTY,               26
  V.       THE FLAG,                     36
  VI.      A LONELY CANDIDATE,           54
  VII.     IN FOR IT,                    60
  VIII.    RUBS THE WRONG WAY,           67
  IX.      CAMP HARD,                    73
  X.       BAND CONCERT,                 78
  XI.      ON GUARD,                     88
  XII.     _Off_ GUARD,                  92
  XIII.    A BLUE CHRISTMAS,             97
  XIV.     CAMP GOLIGHTLY,              106
  XV.      SIGNALING FOR HELP,          112
  XVI.     RE-ENFORCEMENTS READY,       117
  XVII.    THREE CHEERS AND A TIGER,    124
  XVIII.   HIGH SUMMER,                 129
  XIX.     THE VISITORS' SEATS,         138
  XX.      JUST THEE AND ME,            142
  XXI.     ME ONLY,                     150
  XXII.    GIRLS,                       157
  XXIII.   THE GRIM GRAY WALLS,         167
  XXIV.    NINETY-NINE DAYS TO JUNE,    173
  XXV.     FURLOUGH,                    180
  XXVI.    CHERRY,                      189
  XXVII.   OFF LIMITS,                  199
  XXVIII.  ON EXHIBITION,               209
  XXIX.    SKIRMISHING,                 218
  XXX.     A MORNING TALK,              226
  XXXI.    THE SUMMER GIRL,             238
  XXXII.   LAYING FOUNDATIONS,          245
  XXXIII.  BUILDING THEREON,            258
  XXXIV.   AMBUSHES,                    272
  XXXV.    OF COURSE,                   278
  XXXVI.   SAN CARLOS,                  284
  XXXVII.  RUSHED INTO CAMP,            288
  XXXVIII. HIGH GROUND,                 293
  XXXIX.   MORE GIRLS,                  299
  XL.      ON FORT PUT,                 305
  XLI.     UP CROWNEST,                 321
  XLII.    CHRISTMAS LEAVE,             332
  XLIII.   THE HUNDREDTH NIGHT,         343
  XLIV.    PRESSING ON,                 355
  XLV.     NOTHING SERIOUS,             360
  XLVI.    TRYING LETTERS,              364
  XLVII.   MRS. CONGRESSMAN,            369
  XLVIII.  THE GUARD-HOUSE IN JUNE,     376
  XLIX.    FLIRTATION AND OTHER PLACES, 388
  L.       FAIRYLAND,                   398
  LI.      THE HOME STRETCH,            404
  LII.     THE BIG RECEPTION,           414
  LIII.    THE FIRST POST,              420



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS, FACING PAGE


  THE FLAG,                         _Title_
  THE BARRACKS IN WINTER,                97
  THE COLOR GUARD,                      109
  MOUNTING HEAVY GUNS IN FORT CLINTON,  170
  CADET ROOM IN BARRACKS,               300
  PARADE REST IN CAMP,                  377
  FLIRTATION,                           392
  CADET BOAT AND CREW,                  401



INTRODUCTION TO THIS TALE OF A POSSIBLE CADET

Some of my friends in a certain cadet class beset me to write a West
Point story; promising me incidents at will, a plot, a name, and a
tactical officer for "the villain." Perhaps it was because I declined
this last sensational detail that they backed out of all the rest, and
having given my boat a shove into deep water, left me to row and pilot
as best I might.

However, help came from other men, in other classes. I was cheered on
in my work, and given story after story, with full leave to use them as
I chose; and so it falls out that my book is quite true.

Not that all the happenings ever came to any one cadet, or within the
bounds of any four years' course. But they have almost all, at some
time, been part of somebody's cadet life at West Point. With what men,
or in what years, it does not matter: the last decade of the nineteenth
century nearly enough covers the whole.

I have tried hard to have the small technicalities quite correct. Yet
as rules do vary now and then, even at West Point, everything may not
always _seem_ right, to this or that graduate. And, of course, I may
have blundered here and there.

Certain points in cadet life I was especially asked to handle; and if
once or twice I have told only what _might_ have been, even there I had
the warrant of cadet opinion.

As for the fancy names, it was so hard to find plain ones that were
not down in some Army List or Visitors' Book, that I made up a few,
choosing rather to give caps which nobody would put on than others
quite sure to be appropriated. Truly, I did not name Miss Dangleum: a
young officer did that, and Cadet Devlin was also dubbed by one who
knew.

Since certain words of my story were written a few changes have come
in. The cadet classes have pledged themselves to abolish hazing;
the Hundredth Night (in its old wild glee) has been forbidden; the
Cadet Howitzer is spiked. The shady nooks along "Flirtation" have
been cleared up; Fort Clinton is a memory, the tents are brown, and
Dade's white shaft now stands in the gayest and sunniest of all the
thoroughfares. But human nature survives,--and "boodle"--and the girls,
so that my book is declared to be still "absolutely true."

Sometimes when I watch that grey throng in the Chapel, I have a great
wish that I could see the other little army with whom they are to join
hands. So much depends on them. For womanhood sets the standard for the
world of men.

    "She's like the keystone to an arch,
      That consummates all beauty;
    She's like the music to a march,
      That sheds a joy on duty."

Such she should be.

  A. B. W.

  MARTLAER'S ROCK.



I

THE BOY

 The lions, if they left not the forest, would capture no prey; and
 the arrow, if it quitted not the bow, would not strike the mark.

  --_Arabian Nights._


The precise date of my story does not matter: the world strikes a much
more even average than we are apt to think; and still, as of old, "the
thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is
done, is that which shall be done."

Once upon a time, then, there was a boy whose name was Charlemagne
Kindred.

"Magnus" was the home version. I think his two young sisters were
perhaps rather proud of the royal-republican title, and would by no
means let it come down to "Charley," and so lose itself in the crowd.
Once in a while, when a longer lecture than usual was called for, Mrs.
Kindred would say Charlemagne: but I doubt if it had much effect,
unless to give Magnus some slighting thoughts of the ancestor who had
first borne his name.

Mrs. Kindred was a widow of ten years' standing; and she and Magnus,
and the two young sisters, made up the family. There is nothing on
earth sweeter than girls can be; and these two filled out the fair
pattern, with few breaks or flaws. But no history or inheritance of
even a name had been wasted on them, and they set out in life as plain
Rose and Violet, named for their father's favourite flowers.

Magnus had not at all, however, the same reverence for his sisters that
they felt for him, which was a pity; for really I think they deserved
it better.

But another drawback to the perfections of my hero,--a common one
enough with heroes, and which after all proved him the real thing,--he
had not five cents to his name. And failing this, the question came up
very naturally, what else he could have "to his name," to make that
worth the carrying.

"Mamma, he'd make a beautiful minister!" said Rose, who, enshrined in
the very rosiest corner of her heart, had a faint, far-away picture of
her father in the pulpit.

"He would make a beautiful anything," said the mother, her eyes shining
at the mere thought of her boy. "But he cannot be a minister, Rose, at
least not in his father's church, without going to college."

"And that takes money," said Violet. "Mamma, if I were Uncle Sam, I'd
have free colleges. I can't see why not, just as well as free schools."

"I do not like to hear you say 'Uncle Sam,' Violet. It is not
respectful to the Government."

"Magnus does."

Mrs. Kindred might have answered that the bump of reverence was not as
yet developed in that young magnate's head to any alarming degree, but
no such disloyal words came out. She sat thinking.

"The Government has one free college, you know, girls," she said; "at
least, I suppose it may be called that. Two, in fact: the Naval Academy
at Annapolis, and the Military Academy at West Point. I wonder it never
occurred to me before."

"West Point!" exclaimed both the girls, open-eyed.

"Then he'd be a soldier, and wear a uniform," said Violet.

"Yes, and then there would be a war, and he would get killed," said
Rose.

"No, he wouldn't," said Violet. "Catch Magnus letting anybody shoot
_him_. He's a good deal too quick for that. Besides, people can get
killed anywhere. Missionaries do, sometimes."

"I wonder I never thought of West Point," Mrs. Kindred repeated. "Hush,
girls; don't say such things. There is no war now, and maybe there
never will be again. Magnus would like it, too."

"He'd be splendid in uniform," said Rose, "he's so tall."

"Too tall," said the mother with a sigh. "Magnus grows altogether too
fast. Perhaps West Point would be just the thing for him, and make him
spread out a little. You know, girls, what big fellows some of those
army men are, in papa's book of officers?"

"Yes," said Violet doubtfully, "big enough. But then Magnus never could
be as broad as he is long, so we needn't worry."

A cheery whistle, strong and sweet and clear, pierced through the
summer air outside; and with one consent the three talkers hurried
to the window to look out. It was a back window, commanding easily a
woodshed, a small garden, and a barn.

In the woodshed, hard at work upon a somewhat elaborate dog-house,
stood the young future victim of mathematics and wave motion. Coat off,
hat tossed down, hands busily chiselling out some bit of ornamentation;
the head with its shock of brown curls bent low over his work. And very
appropriately just then, for the thoughts that filled the air, Magnus
was whistling "Yankee Doodle": his limber young tones going with great
force and discernment into all the ups and downs of that delightful
old melody. Do not mistake me and think the words ironical; I am
extremely fond of "Yankee Doodle," myself.

"How queer he should be whistling that!" said Rose. "Oh, Magnus!"

"Hello!"

"Come up here. We were just talking about you."

"Talk away."

"But mother and all!"

"Good I am down here, then," said the boy, eyeing a bit of board along
the edge to see if it was straight.

"Why?" cried Violet.

"You know she doesn't like to praise me to my face," said Magnus,
carefully planing the aforesaid edge.

"Conceited boy!" said Rose.

Well, I suppose he was that, just a little; but what can happen to
average masculine nature, with three such bits of the feminine to stand
round and gaze at its perfections? Magnus brought his board to a nicety
of straightness, tossed off the shavings, gave another toss to his
brown hair--then looked up at the sweet cluster of faces in the window
and laughed.

"All's safe up there, so long as I stay down here," he said.

The three were silent.

"He is such a beauty!" said Rose under her breath. "He grows better and
handsomer every day."

"But we want to talk to you!" said Violet.

"I can wait."

"Suppose we cannot?"

"Front door's open," said Magnus, falling to work with his hammer, and
once more lapsing into the sweets of "Yankee Doodle."

"Mother, may we tell him?" said Rose. "May we ask him how he'd like
it?"

"Why, yes, dear; that can do no harm," said Mrs. Kindred.

So the girls went down to the woodshed, perching themselves on some
hard places each side of their big brother.

"Magnus, how would you like to be a soldier?"

"When there's a war, you'll see."

That was beginning at the wrong end; the two young faces grew suddenly
grave. But, after all, there was no war then, and probably never would
be, as their mother had said.

"But we mean _now_," Rose went on. "How would you like to go to West
Point?"

"What for?"

"Why, to learn to be a soldier!" said Violet impressively.

Magnus laughed in high derision.

"Soldiers!" he said--"Popinjays. Parrots and popinjays. There was one
of those fellows at Clear Spring last summer, and he had airs enough to
fly a kite with a tail a mile long."

Again the two young sisters were silent.

"But _you_ would not, Magnus, when you came home," said Violet. "Oh,
Rose! just think of his coming home on vacation!"

"And if all the rest are like that, you could be what mamma calls
a 'beautiful example,'" said Rose. "I heard Cherry speak of that
'fellow,' as you call him. She said his uniform was very interesting."

"Cherry doesn't care a copper for such stuff!" said Magnus hotly.

"I suppose she can admire a uniform," said Rose.

But to that Magnus made no reply.



II

MEANS TO AN END

 The nightingale flew away, and time flew also.

  --HANS ANDERSEN.


Charlemagne got his appointment. In a very commonplace way, after all,
like most other boys; in spite of his long name and his longer list of
qualifications. Some relative knew the Congressman of the district,
had done business with him in the pre-official days, and in one of the
intervals of home rest after Washington fatigues, young Kindred was
taken over to the dignitary's whereabouts, and presented as one who was
eager to serve his country in another line. There was nothing heroic
about the whole proceeding, and the man was not an ideal Congressman;
but he answered the purpose.

The interview would have made a fine subject for a picture. The boy,
on his dignity every inch of him, making believe that he did not care
a continental about the matter; but too unskilled in dissembling to
prove the fact, and keep down the quick flashes of eye and flushes of
cheek. The introducer, the childless uncle to whom his sister's son
was the one boy of all the world. Opposite them the old Congressman,
with chair at an uncertain angle and hat ditto; tilting back in the
cool shady porch, and listening with a scarce hid smile to the tale of
Charlemagne's attainments.

"Has he room in his head for anything more?" he demanded, when Mr.
Thorn paused. "He'll want a little, over there."

"I am ready to learn all they teach, sir!" said young Magnus, firing
up. "You think I don't know anything now--and maybe I don't."

"Maybe--" said the Congressman drily. "How about the _outside_ of your
head? You'll get it rough and ready, at West Point."

"I've got hands!" said Magnus with another flush.

"True," said the Honourable Miles Ironwood. "Well, take good care of
them."

"And I have understood," put in Mr. Thorn, "that hazing is quite
stamped out at West Point."

Mr. Ironwood skilfully rocked his chair upon its two hind legs, a
mocking smile upon his lips.

"Ever see a bit of woodland that was half trees and two-thirds rocks?"
he said.

"I was brought up on just such a place," said Mr. Thorn.

"Ever fight a fire there?"

"Many a time."

"H'm--I thought perhaps you hadn't," said the Congressman. "Well, Mr.
Thorn, this district is not represented at West Point just now; last
appointment resigned some months ago, and I suppose it had better be
filled. And this young man doesn't look as if he would give the Tacs
more trouble than common. And if they go for him, that is his lookout
and not mine."

"Who are the Tacs, sir?" inquired Magnus.

"Men who come round every morning to see if you have washed your face,"
said Mr. Ironwood, without moving a muscle of his own. "And every
night, to tuck you up and bring away the light."

Magnus coloured indignantly; but a certain twinkle in Mr. Ironwood's
eye kept him silent.

"What do they teach there, chiefly?" said Mr. Thorn. "What had Magnus
better learn before he goes?"

"Learn everything you can, when you are going _anywhere_," said Mr.
Ironwood impressively. "They teach riding--a little--at West Point. And
mathematics--some."

"Charlemagne can ride," said his uncle proudly.

"On his head?"

"Why no!" said Mr. Thorn. "Will that be required?"

"I've seen 'em on their heads, in that riding-hall," said the
Congressman with an easy change of position.

"They teach the classics, of course?"

"He'll hear something about Achilles, like as not," said Mr. Ironwood.
"Hector, too. Not so much of either as he will of Charlemagne."

Again the suggestive gleam of the eye acted upon the boy as both spur
and check.

"And you have no general advice to give him, Mr. Ironwood, as to what
he had best do to prepare himself?"

"Prepare himself?" Mr. Ironwood brought his chair down on all-fours
with considerable force. "If that boy wants to get ready for West
Point, let him do every blessed thing he _don't_ want to do and not one
that he _does_, between now and next June. Good-morning: I'll attend to
it."

"He's an old buzzard!" said Magnus as they walked away.

"A little sudden, sometimes," said his mild uncle. "But he's a smart
man--a very smart man. And now I think of it, he was there once
himself, and didn't get through. That's what makes him so down on the
place."

"Must have been a very smart man if he couldn't get through West
Point," Magnus said, with a boy's easy contempt.

But smart or not, Mr. Ironwood was as good as his word. And so in due
course it was set forth in the _Army and Navy Journal_, that among
the candidates for the Military Academy the following June would be
found one Charlemagne Kindred. And the local paper of Barren Heights
(albeit not generally concerning itself with West Point) got hold of
the item and copied it out in full. And so astonishing was it to see
Charlemagne's name in print that the family copy of said paper would
have been quite worn out with much study and handling, if Mrs. Kindred
had not rescued it, and laid it safe away among the family archives.

As for Cherry, after first privately breaking her heart because Magnus
was going away, she then plucked up courage and common sense, and
became the proudest little maiden that could be found among all the
patient readers of the _Barren Heights View_.

It is safe to say that Magnus reversed Mr. Ironwood's wise counsel
at every point and every time. Having himself been a failure at West
Point, the Congressman's opinion was counted a failure too; would have
been, anyhow, I fancy; and Charlemagne Kindred got ready for West
Point by doing every possible thing he wanted to do, and letting the
things he did not want to do, alone. Even when the rainy days of May
went weeping by, and the fateful June was close at hand, what that boy
did--and was allowed to do--would not bear telling. "He is going away,"
hushed every reproof; and "when I am gone," forestalled criticism.
Refuse him? scold him?--the three gentle hearts at home were quite
beyond all that.

To be sure, he ought to have studied hard, the whole time; but then
Magnus was so quick and bright it could not be really needful. And if
Mrs. Kindred now and then sighed, and wondered what the end would be,
if the beginning was so lawless, and what her husband the minister
would have said to his only son becoming a soldier--the girls had the
answer ready.

"Why mother, it is to defend the Country! My father went to the war
once, himself."

"Yes, in time of need," said Mrs. Kindred.

"But Magnus says that when there is no danger is the time to prepare,"
said Rose.

"Yes," Mrs. Kindred said again with a smile and a sigh, pleased at such
wisdom in her boy; although it was a principle of sound business which
Magnus had never been known to act upon, in any one single case.

But even he sobered down a little, as the last home day drew on. When
the new trunk was packed, and Magnus had said good-bye to all the
neighbourhood, and taken his last walk with Cherry; cheering up her
forebodings in various efficacious ways best known to himself and to
her; when there was nothing left but the good-night, and the early
breakfast, and the parting--then, indeed, things began to look serious,
and the boy too.

He sat that evening, taking the clearest sort of mental photographs.
He saw the grief that lay back of his mother's brave words and tender
smiles: saw it, as it were, on that other background of the older
and deeper sorrow which never left her face. He noticed the white
lines that marked the brown hair above her temples. He studied her
hands: slender, white, but with that unmistakable character of use and
usefulness which some hands have.

He looked at his sisters: fair, innocent slips of girls as you could
find, East or West: their tears coming and going, their smiles playing
hide and seek. Who ever had three such blessed bits of womankind
entrusted to him? and who would take care of them when he, tall
Charlemagne Kindred, should be far away? Magnus registered in his heart
some vows that night, which to his honour he kept.

Then his eyes went down again to his mother's hands. They were quietly
folded in her lap; but as Magnus looked, he seemed to see them busy
in a hundred different ways, and always for him. Steadying his baby
steps, cooling his aching head; binding up scratches and cuts; sewing
on buttons, knitting socks, mending gloves. Now laid tenderly on his
shoulder in some time of persuasion or entreaty--and now held out, both
of them, to receive the penitent.

But here Magnus jumped up and fled away, out of the room, out of the
house; and poured forth his agony of tears in the old orchard, under
the quiet stars.

At his age, however, such showers are brief, and often end in a highly
exalted state of mind. Magnus came back to the house protector of his
mother, defender of his sisters, and knight-errant for all womankind in
general--especially Cherry.

Cherry would have given what coppers she had in the world, and some
silver to boot, to spend that last evening and morning at the Kindred
house, and the girls had entreated her to stay, but she was a very
self-contained little damsel and said no. "Little" is not descriptive,
however, for Cherry was growing up tall and straight as a plumed reed
by the river side; with a wealth of dark brown hair, and large serious
eyes, and delicate brows that, when they laughed, went into curves as
lovely and mischievous as the proverbial bow of Cupid. The whole of the
demure face laughed then, with dimples here and dimples there.

Brought up until six years old with a frail, invalid mother, and since
then by a student father, the child had early learned to keep herself
to herself with severe decision. And keep herself hid according to
her own ideas, Cherry feared she could not, if she was at hand to see
Magnus Kindred go. Besides--Magnus himself had not asked her!

"But why will you not stay, Cherry?" the girls persisted.

"It does not matter why, you know, so long as I am going," said wise
Cherry, and so she put on her sun-bonnet, and went back with steady
steps toward her own gate, so soon as tea was over. To be sure, Magnus
did see her and come bounding after; and, to be sure, she found out
then that she was not really in such haste as she had thought: but
still Magnus would never have got the sort of farewell he did, if
he had not been saucy and taken it. Though, alas! I am afraid his
after-memory of the parting was for a time less tender and true than
hers.

So there were only the three home faces about the boy that last
morning, and only the three sore hearts to plan and prepare his
breakfast and every other possible sort of ministration. And magnate as
he was, Charlemagne found those three as much as he could bear.



III

THE NIGHT EXPRESS

  Just in the grey of the dawn, as the mists uprose from the meadow,
  There was a stir and a sound in the slumbering village of Plymouth;
  Clanging and clicking of arms, and the order imperative, "Forward!"

  --LONGFELLOW.


I do not see why the march of improvement should tread down sentiment
and tread out romance; but such seems to be the fact. Beauty and
feeling, like very birds of the wildwood, take wing and flee at the
shriek of the steam-whistle. Your public conveyance is no longer a
kindly, easy-going personality, the "Highflyer" or the "Dashaway"
mail-coach; it is only the 6.30 train. You could turn and wave a
good-bye, in the olden time; gazing back at the dear home outlines
until, in the pathetic words of David Copperfield, "the sky was empty."
But now, even if the railway does not graze your front dooryard, and
you must walk or drive to the station, yet you hardly dare glance round
you as you go, lest you should miss the train. For that distant dark
line with its trail of silver smoke, which comes snaking along across
the country, makes no account of you as an individual, and is equally
ready to run you down or to pick you up; and will sooner do either than
wait.

Magnus was to report at West Point on a certain specified day, and his
setting out had been timed accordingly: and now the terror of being
late, and so belated, was upon them all. They hurried him off after
the five-o'clock breakfast; kissing him, crying over him indeed, but
pushing him out of the house. And Mrs. Kindred would not go with him
to the station nor let the girls; Magnus could walk so much faster
alone, or even run, if need be; and they might make him loiter.

So the boy went forth alone; turning round at the last corner, and
waving his hat with an air of triumph which was very make-believe
indeed. His heart was as heavy as lead, and he called himself the
greatest ninny in existence; leaving such a home, and such a mother,
and three such girls. For in that last look back Magnus had not failed
to see the curling smoke that floated away from the chimney of Cherry's
house, high up upon the hill. What a silly he was, sure enough. Why,
the mere old lilac bushes in the dooryard were better than all West
Point. Nevertheless, he went on--

    "For men must work and women must weep."

Happily for the women, their life is generally more real and prosaic
than the poet thought; and they also have to work on, through their
tears.

The train came rushing up on time; Magnus swung himself in; and with a
derisive snort the locomotive tore him away from home, and mother, and
the three girls.

As a rule, the inmates of a railway car are extremely unsympathetic
to look at. What face or figure do you ever see there to which you
would like to appeal in case of need? When the need comes, indeed,
there is generally someone to take it up, a comforting thought, worth
remembering; but for the most part people hold themselves visibly
aloof, except in the way of growling over open windows, or of striving
for seats.

Charlemagne Kindred looked up and down the car, scanning briefly
the faces as he took his seat; and the width of the world, and its
exceeding low temperature, settled down upon his heart as a new fact.

The first day and the first night went by wearily enough. Magnus had
decided to save money by not taking a sleeper; assuring his anxious
mother and sisters that he could sleep anyhow and anywhere. And so he
could, at home, as they well knew. But it seemed to him in that long
first night, as if the boards of their barn floor at home were softer
(as they were certainly far sweeter) than all the cushions of the night
express. What fumes the men brought in from the smoking car! What gruff
voices and hollow laughs and idle words were all about him. Disgust,
fatigue, and strangeness took the boy in their hard hands, until, as
the second night drew on, Magnus did not know himself. He wondered what
was the matter with him: wondered if he was going to be ill: and never
guessed for a while that he was growing deathly, deadly homesick.

The knowledge came. Just at nightfall the train slowed up at a little
country station, and a woman and child got out. They had been sitting
far behind Magnus, and, as the child never cried, she had called forth
no special notice; though once or twice when the rush and roar ceased
for a moment, Magnus had caught the sweet canary-bird notes of the
little voice. Now, she passed him in her mother's arms; and in the
moment's pause at the door, the little creature turned and looked down
the dingy car, where what light there was seemed just to show up the
darkness. The sweet, serious eyes gazed along the lines of her late
fellow-passengers--then as the way opened, and the mother moved on,
the child waved her little innocent hand in farewell greeting to that
small, unknown world.

"Dood-night, folks!" she said--and was gone.

I can fancy that many hearts stirred at the sound; but poor Magnus
quite gave way. Oh, for one word from the dear home voices, one touch
of the dear home hands. He remembered Violet, when she was no bigger
than that little thing, nestled in her mother's arms just so. What was
he doing here, away from them all? What was West Point to him? If
indeed he ever got there. Magnus felt now as if he should die by the
way.

He was alone in the seat just then; and the boy pulled his hat down
over his eyes, leaned head and arms against the dingy red cushion,
and let the tears come. The train ran on, past several other small
stations; then drew up before a ten-minutes-for-refreshment place,
where to many people the minutes and the refreshment would be equally
brief and unsatisfactory. Yet the glow and light and counter full of
viands looked tempting enough to a weary passenger; and many got out.
Magnus never stirred. He was not hungry, naturally enough; and besides
had some of the home sandwiches and cookies still in his bag. But touch
_them_--look at them even--in his present mood, he could not.

The car was almost empty: and in the relief of the sudden stillness
and space, Magnus got up and walked to and fro between the open doors.
It was a comfort to do anything, and the ten minutes were far too
short for him as for the rest. He dropped into his seat again, as the
passengers came hurrying back; watching them with languid interest,
and wondering which one would come and sit by him. Last night he had
had a man so redolent of unpleasant things that only a very tired boy
could have managed to sleep at all. Last night, and part of to-day. A
somewhat different set were coming in now; new faces taking the place
of others left behind at the station.

Magnus eyed them one by one, desiring none of them in his seat, and
only hoping they would leave it and him alone, until just as the
train began to pull out of the station. There came in then a man of
a different type of citizenship. Of good height and sturdy build;
close shaven, close cropped: a dress and outfit scrupulously neat and
in order, but evidently bought at the shop of Comfort and Use, and
not from that tailor to all the crowned heads, High Style. Over the
whole man was that look of absolute cleanness--mental, moral, and
physical--which a smooth face always sets off to the best advantage.
Step firm and businesslike, eyes quick and kind. A man "at leisure from
himself," for all the work his Master might set before him. Was there,
perhaps, work here?

The car had thinned out a good deal by this time; people dropping off
at one and another station, getting to their homes as the night drew
on, and there were many vacant seats: here two together, and there one
by somebody else. Mr. Wayne paused a moment, looking down the car, and
from under his straw hat Magnus watched him, with a vague longing that
he would come and sit by _him_.

That is a wonderfully lovely glimpse of unseen things, in one of the
chapters of the book of Daniel, where one angel says to another, "Run,
speak to that young man." I suppose Mr. Wayne was conscious of no
audible monition; but after that moment's pause, he stepped down the
car, past one and another tempting "whole" seat, and took his place by
young Charlemagne Kindred.



IV

READY FOR DUTY

    The man that wants me is the man I want.

    --DR. EDWARD PAYSON.


"This seat is not engaged? You are not expecting a companion?" the
stranger said as he sat down.

"No, sir, I have nobody to expect," said Magnus, his tone making the
answer broader than the question.

"Nobody to expect?" Mr. Wayne repeated the words, then went on softly
to himself, yet just so that Magnus caught the sound, "'My soul, wait
thou upon God, for my expectation is from him.'"

"Where does this train stop for supper?" he said abruptly, after a
minute or two.

"They had supper at Beaver Junction."

"So, so! Just where I got in. Have you had yours?"

"No, sir. I didn't want any."

"Well, you and I wear our family likeness with a difference," said Mr.
Wayne. "I have had no supper either, but I want it. They _used_ to stop
at Edenton. Been a change, I suppose, since the extension of the road."

He rose up and went to the further end of the car, where the conductor
was taking a minute's rest; coming back with the word that another
chance for refreshments would be at Centerville Junction, where they
had to wait for the train from Combination.

"Then you and I will go and sup together," he said.

"I don't want any supper," the boy repeated.

"What's the matter? You're not sick?" and the keen eyes made a closer
survey.

"No, indeed, sir."

"The home station is close at hand, then, is it?"

"No, sir. It will not be near _me_ for two years," said Magnus, trying
to speak with the proper pride of a young man off on his travels, and
far from home, but the boyish voice betraying itself and him.

"Two years!" Mr. Wayne repeated; adding with a breath that was almost a
groan, "Two years out of sight of home! You are going to West Point?"
he said the next minute in his quick way.

"Yes, sir. But how did you know?" said the boy, rousing up in his
surprise.

"Yankees aren't worth a red cent if they can't guess," said Mr. Wayne,
smiling. "Well, that settles the question of supper. If you get to West
Point in a die-away condition, they'll not take you in; and you will
see the home station quicker than you care about, maybe. The first
thing they'll tell you at West Point will be to 'brace up,' so you'd
better do a little at it before you get there."

If Magnus was half ready to resent the words he could not, for the
merry glance that went with them.

"Were you ever at West Point, sir?"

"Often."

"Well, what sort of a place is it?" said Magnus, sitting straight up in
his interest.

"One of the very loveliest places on this fair earth," said Mr. Wayne.
"With hills and woods and river that you will lose your heart to, and
never get it back."

"Nice people, too?" questioned Magnus.

"All sorts of people. As in every other bit of the world. All sorts."

"There is only one sort at home," said Magnus proudly.

"Ah, true! But home is the only exception. And so,

    "Be it ever so homely,
    There is no place like home."

"But even in the home neighbourhood, I think, you can remember
varieties?"

"Yes, indeed," said Magnus, smiling. "Chaff Pointer said it was waste
time for me to go to West Point, for he knew I'd never get through."

"Well, I'd prove that man a false prophet, if he does belong near
home," said Mr. Wayne. "How did 'Chaff' get his name?"

"All the rest of the family are sound and good for something, and so
everybody calls him 'Chaff,'" said Magnus.

Mr. Wayne laughed heartily. "All sorts there, too," he said. "But here
is our ten-minute station. Come along. I invite you to be my guest, and
when you are invited out to supper, you must go when you don't want to
go, and eat when you are not hungry."

And Magnus laughed and followed. But to hurry into that brilliantly
lighted room after a cheerful companion, and to eat all sorts of queer
railway providings at railway speed, was a very different thing from
munching his dry sandwich alone in the dusky car, and all the time
seeing nothing but the dear fingers that put it up. Appetite came
back, and spirits, with somewhat of the joyous sense of enterprise
and novelty; confidence and liking for his new friend sprang up into
life-size proportions, and it did not take long to tell over the whole
little home story. It was such a comfort to speak to somebody.

And Mr. Wayne listened with deepest interest. He had meant to take a
sleeper as soon as they left the Junction, but changed his purpose, and
sat by the boy through all the hours of the night. Ready for words when
Magnus roused up to speak them; and when the young eyes closed, and
the young head sought intervals of rest against the hard, swaying back
of the seat, then studying the boy with a face from which the laugh had
vanished, and a grave, almost solemn, look came up to take its place.

"Good blood," so he muttered to himself, as he noted the clear skin and
pure colour, "and well brought up"--for unmistakable lines of truth and
intelligence marked the face. "Warm-hearted--almost--as a woman, and
wilful enough for two! What will he do at West Point? and what will
West Point do to him?"

The grave eyes were shielded, and from the kindly heart went up that
longing petition of the Lord himself:

"I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that
thou shouldest keep them from the evil."

So the night wore on, with alternate snatches of talk and sleep, until
the early dawn of the June day came swiftly up over the outside world.

"To-night I shall be at West Point," said Magnus, as the two new-made
friends went back to their car after breakfast.

"Ordered to report to-day?"

"No, sir, not until Friday."

"Where will you stay to-night?"

"Oh, I cannot tell," said Magnus. "I don't know anybody nor anything at
West Point. Oh, I suppose I'll find some place!"

"'Some place' is not always a good place. You had better stay in town
with me to-night, and take an early morning train up river."

"Do you live in town, sir?"

"Not I! But I shall be there to-night."

Hotels and hotel bills were as yet unknown things to Magnus Kindred,
and he entered into this plan with great alacrity; nor ever guessed,
till he went home on furlough and put up at the same hotel, how large a
part of his fare that night was paid by Mr. Wayne himself.

It was very late when the train ran into the big city, at least
according to the standard at Barren Heights, but those weird old hands
on the church steeples of New York count nothing "late" until it is two
o'clock in the morning, and so in truth early once more.

Magnus felt quite sure that the rumble and roar would not let him sleep
a wink, but after he had once closed his eyes, they never opened again
until broad daylight.

The two friends roomed together. A big room, it seemed to Magnus,
the two sides of which had each quite a retired privacy of its own.
Mr. Wayne, writing letters under the gaslight, noted the boy's neat,
orderly ways in all his preparations for bed. Magnus had sat reading
his own private chapter first, not with haste, but with interest, and
then they had had prayers together. Now, the boy knelt quietly by his
own special bed, his face upon his arms, and once or twice there came
a sound that brought the quick drops to Mr. Wayne's own eyes. But then
Magnus called out his "Good-night, sir!" in a cheerful, resolved tone,
which was all that could be wished.

In the morning the two walked up to the Grand Central together. There
their ways parted, Mr. Wayne going off on the New Haven road, while
Magnus checked his trunk for Garrisons and West Point.

"Magnus, what is going to be your dependence at West Point?" said Mr.
Wayne, as they stepped along.

"Hard work, sir."

"Good," said Mr. Wayne. "And what for your hard work? How do you expect
to keep yourself at it?"

"My own will, sir."

"Good again," said his friend. "And how is that will to be kept to its
duty?"

"Mother says I'm self-willed enough for anything," said Magnus.

"Truly. But self-will and will-power are very different forces, and
often come in sharp collision. Misguided steam is quite likely to blow
up the whole concern."

"Well, sir, what can I do with my will but use it?" said the boy with
some quickness.

"You can abuse it quite easily," said Mr. Wayne. "Turn it on the wrong
things, fire it up in the wrong place. A soldier needs to have the
'governor' of his own private engine in excellent working order."

"I'm not a soldier yet," said Magnus, laughing, "and shall not be for
four years."

"You will be one, to all intents, as soon as you are admitted at West
Point. From that moment you are counted in the service of the United
States, and under her orders. Bound to do her bidding, whether you like
it or not, whether you understand it or not."

"Even if someone has blundered?" said Magnus with a half laugh.

"Even if someone has blundered. With that question you have nothing
to do. Men will blunder now and then, at West Point as elsewhere, but
that is no concern of yours. Uncle Sam's orders are to be obeyed, and
neither the quality nor the quantity of them affects the thing in the
least."

"That sounds hard," said Magnus.

"It _is_ hard."

"And rather impossible to carry out, I should say," remarked Magnus
with a boy's air of competent criticism.

"Nothing is impossible which ought to be done," said Mr. Wayne. "If the
authorities at West Point did not disapprove of decorations, I would
have that written up over your door in gilt letters."

"Disapprove!" Magnus repeated.

"Disapprove. A soldier's life has small time and place but for the
absolute needs-be."

"Did you ever go through West Point, sir?" said Magnus with a wondering
look at his new-found friend.

"No indeed. But I have been through Chattanooga, and Fair Oaks, and a
few other places, and so I know what all this play-soldiering may come
to."

Magnus stopped short and gazed at him.

"Chattanooga! Fair Oaks! You have been _there_?" he said.

"Why, yes," said Mr. Wayne, pulling him round again, "and I'm glad I
am not there now. Come on; we must catch our train. Never mind all
that to-day. So you thought you would be your own master till you got
shoulder-straps, hey? Not a bit of it. You belong to Uncle Sam just as
much in grey as you ever will in blue."

"Body and soul!" said Magnus with a rather unmirthful laugh.

"Not soul," said Mr. Wayne. "The only power that traffics in souls is
the devil, and his vice-gerent the World. But about everything else,
from the minute you enter West Point, you are under orders--sworn in to
obey. How are you going to bring yourself up to that point?"

"Why, I have always been taught to obey, at home," said Magnus.

"Yes, and when you didn't do it, it was always, 'Oh, Magnus must have
forgotten. He never _means_ to disobey.'"

"How do you know, sir?" said the boy, laughing and colouring, too.

"I have had a mother," said Mr. Wayne. "And if there is anything on
this earth at the antipodes of the being that owns that blessed name,
it is a West Point tactical officer."

"Who is he?" said Magnus.

"The tactical officer? Oh, he is one of a small force in blue,
specially detailed to look after the cadets in grey."

"They must be the ones that our Congressman says come round to see if
you've washed your face," said Magnus. "They'd better not try that on
me!"

Mr. Wayne laughed a little.

"Well, I'd be ready for them," he said. "Fighting for rights that you
haven't got does not pay at West Point."

"Why, what sort of a queer place is it?" said young Charlemagne with
growing distaste.

"It is a place where you are under orders," said Mr. Wayne, "and that
often makes wild work with one's own private notions. You swear to obey
orders when you go in, and you are under them till you come out. From
the time you get up till the time you go to bed,--and after."

"Not while I am asleep, I suppose," said the boy with an expressive
lift of the brows.

"Yes you are. If you fail to hear the reveille gun, your being asleep
will not excuse you. It is your business to wake up. Nobody will come
round and tap softly at your door and say, 'Now, Magnus, dear, if you
are not _too_ tired, I think you had better get up.'"

It was so exactly what his mother had said but four days ago that the
boy's eyes flushed, and his throat choked up.

"What will they do to me?" he said, making a brave fight for his
self-control, "if I do not hear the gun?"

"Oh, you will figure in the report as a 'late,' or an 'absent,' with
corresponding small penalties, that is all. Nothing very terrible if it
comes but once, but piling up trouble if it comes often."

"They might call a fellow," said Magnus, who never liked to do that
kind office for himself.

"Armies are seldom large enough for each man to have another man
detailed to look after him," said Mr. Wayne drily.

Magnus made no answer. He paced up and down the long station house by
his friend's side, swinging his little handbag with an air that was not
all of enjoyment.

"It's a hard place, then, isn't it?"

"There are no easy places in this world, so far as I know," answered
Mr. Wayne. "Not for men who wish to get on. There are a few where you
can stand still. West Point is not one of those. Back or forward you
must go, there. But there is no hardest place on earth that 'work and
pray' will not carry a man gloriously through."

"Well, mother has taught me the one, and I guess I'll soon pick up the
other," said Magnus. "I'm not afraid of work, if I _am_ rather lazy."

"Magnus," said his friend suddenly, "when you get to West Point I want
you to make friends with the flag."

"All right," said the boy, laughing. "Do they fly the flag all the
time? That is glorious!"

"They fly it all the time, in all weathers; from the small storm flag
in a gale, to the bunting thirty-six feet long, on a holiday. What
would you think, if they hauled the flag down every time someone came
by who did not like it?"

"I should say, 'Shoot the man who touched the halyards'!" said Magnus.

"Suppose the passerby was from a powerful nation that we feared to
offend?"

"There is no such nation!" said the boy, drawing himself up.

"But Young America can _suppose_, for the argument's sake," said Mr.
Wayne, smiling.

"Hard thing to do, sir," laughed Magnus. "However, I'll suppose, as you
say. And I say, the man would come down, a long sight ahead of the
Stars and Stripes. I'd risk offending anybody, for the flag."

Mr. Wayne paused and faced him.

"Magnus," he said, "I have just three words for you at West Point.
Work, pray, and keep your colours flying! Good-bye; the doors are open."

So they parted, and soon the cry was, "All aboard!" and the train moved
slowly out of the Grand Central.



V

THE FLAG

    What is that which the breeze o'er the towering steep,
    As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
    Now it catches the gleam
    Of the morning's first beam;
    In full glory reflected now shines on the stream.

    --FRANCIS KEY.


It is not a particularly interesting bit of road at first, as you leave
the great city, going north. The tunnel, the gleams and glooms in the
long passage under ever-arching streets; and whatever the Harlem end of
New York may have been, it is not delightsome to look upon now.

But the way to the turn is not long; and once round that corner, and
racing along the river side, there is enough to see, well worth the
seeing. And it was all new to Magnus. The wonderful rush of the mighty
river, rolling its blue waves in endless curls and undulations; the
stately Palisades, with their drapings of June green; the white-winged
craft on the water, and the white-winged gulls in the air; all made the
boy's heart leap. Here went a steamer, ploughing her crested furrows;
now and then the train stopped for breath at some station with a
strange name. It was all a wonderful new world.

With his face close to the window Magnus looked eagerly out; sending
his gaze as far up the river as the headlands and bends would let him;
and at last in the distance beyond the narrowing waters of Haverstraw
Bay, and above the nearer hillsides, rose lovely mountain-heads. Not
towering and stupendous, such as he might have seen many a time in the
Western States, but soft, rounded, exquisite; just high enough, in
fact, to claim the dignified name of mountains, as distinguished from
mere hills. What they were, and where they belonged, Magnus could not
tell. They rose up, and stretched out, and locked in, in an impassable
sort of way; as if they might be miles off from the river. He did not
know whether West Point was near them. And yet, by his time-table,
there was but one station more before he must leave the train.

Now the engine rushed inland for a bit, losing sight of the river, and
Magnus studied the time-table again, assuring himself for the twentieth
time of the precise hour and minute when he was expected to reach
Garrisons. Then as the train drew up at Peekskill, he gazed out at that
dingy combination which gathers round a railway station. The engine got
its quantum of water, darted on, and then--ah, what could be fairer!
Magnus almost shouted with delight as they swept around the curve, with
the full south view for a moment, past Anthony's Nose, and with the
Dunderberg across the stream.

"What are these mountains called?" he asked of a Peekskill passenger
who had taken the seat beside him.

"Highlands--Hudson Highlands," said the man. "You don't belong round
here, likely?"

"I never was here before."

"You've come to the right place, then. Aint purtier mountings nowhere.
Such a lot o' happenings, too. Now, right _here_,"--as the train rushed
through a deep rock cut,--"just about here, was where Benedict Arnold
sneaked off to find the _Vulture_. And earth nor water didn't nary one
on 'em open and swaller him up."

"Then this is Teller's Point!" cried Magnus.

"Teller's Point it is. And up yonder, to your right, is where the
scamp was livin', and gettin' his breakfast that mornin', when the
Father of his country come, and all but cotched him. Tell you, these
old hills has seen things! But now look this way a bit. See that crick
over there, and the mill? Fort Montgomery's one side, to the north,
and t'other side o' the crick is Fort Clinton; and down there, atween
'em, is where they fit the battle and killed my great grandfather. They
do say, the Continentals was that mad they pitched all the Hessians
into the crick. Tell you what, young man, it's fine to have one o' the
family die in the service. I aint partic'lar about its bein' me, you
understand, but some one on 'em."

"But you'd be ready to have it you?" said Magnus, eyeing his new
acquaintance.

"Likely I would, if the tug came. Life's life, howsoever, when there
aint no special call to get along without it. They're tryin' to learn
them boys at West Point how to fight; but la! this here sham work don't
go for nothin'. Live in peace till the time comes, say I."

"But you want to be ready for the time," said Magnus.

"Ready?" the man repeated. "Take your pitchfork and _go_. That's ready
enough for me. It did average well, in '76."

"Garri-sons!" sang out the brakeman, flinging back the door.
"Garrisons! Ferry to West Point."

And in another minute Magnus was out on the platform, and heard the
little ferryboat ringing her bell. He looked eagerly about him, found
the right official to take his check, and following that bell, marched
down to the _Highlander_, and went on board.

A down train was nearly due, so there were a few minutes to wait; and
Magnus pushed straight on to the little forward deck, and then forgot
everything in what he saw.

It was unearthly fair, this bit of the world that lay before him. The
lovely green further shore, decked from river side to sky edge in the
rich growth and colouring of early summer; the hills but hardly yet in
their full depth of green, so that the dark cedars and hemlocks stood
out markedly among the tender hues of oaks, hickories, chestnuts, and
maples. From the midst of the trees on the table-land rose up chimneys,
pointed roofs, round roofs, and domes, which as yet meant nothing
to Charlemagne Kindred. The river rolled placidly by, stirred into
wavelets by the fresh, sweet breeze; close at hand he could hear the
soft lapping of the water against the sides of the boat. All sweet, all
strange; and between the two, Magnus very nearly let his head go down.

But now came the thunder of the down train; the inviting ding-dong
of the ferryboat made itself once more heard, a little throng of
passengers came hurrying on board, and then they were off. Crossing the
Rubicon, Magnus felt, if he did not say.

For a few moments still he stood quite alone on the forward deck. How
fast the little steamer parted the blue waters that lay between him and
his new life! Hilltops to the north, hilltops to the south, Anthony's
Nose cutting the river off on the one hand, Martlaer's Rock--the old
"East Point" of the maps--closing it in on the other. Before him, West
Point, "Tacs," and orders; behind him, the road by which he had come
from home.

Then the swing-door slammed, and a bevy of girls came rushing out
to the front of the boat. Magnus turned to look at them, then
instinctively took a stand further back, where he could gaze less
visibly.

Certainly he had seen girls enough to know the genus, but these were
a new species. Such hats, such heels, such giggles, such bewildering
dresses. Such knots of riband, such spots of velvet, such piles of
artificial flowers, such very pretty faces. Not handsome, like Cherry,
Magnus said indignantly, calling himself to order; and then began to
wonder how Cherry would look dressed _so_.

And even as the thought came, he heard one whisper to the other, "A
candidate."

And Magnus felt unreasonably angry. What business had they to pick him
out? And how was he a marked man, anyway? But their notice of him was
short.

"Look at Jenny!" giggled one, half under her breath, pointing to a
girl who leaned on the railing, and never took her eyes from the West
Point shore. "He isn't on the watch, sweet child: it's one o'clock,
and they're all in the Mess Hall. Don't send such wistful looks on
ahead, or they'll mount the hill and spoil his digestion." And she half
whistled, half sang:

    "Come fill up your glasses, and don't stand back;
            Vive la compagnie!
    And drink to the health of our Captain Jack----"

"You don't call him plain 'Jack' yet, do you, dear?"

"If you _could_ talk a little sense!" murmured the girl at the railing.
"I shall never call him '_plain_' anything."

The girls choked with laughter, which half rippled out, and half was
smothered. Then the talk went on, in the same undertones; not as if it
was meant to be heard, and yet which Magnus could not help hearing.

"She's such a Paul Pry! Said to me the other day when we were out
walking, 'But you are not in love with any one of the class?' I said,
'No; I'm in love with the whole class.' Oh, dear! it will be too
dreadful when they all go!"

"There are always candidates," whispered another, with a glance towards
Magnus, and then the boat touched her landing, and the girls hurried on
shore.

Magnus did not hurry. He had no quarters to spend on omnibus fare, and
no mind at all to be wedged in among those lively ladies. He picked up
his bag and walked after the stage as it slowly climbed the hill. A few
swift strides would have easily taken him beyond it. But he lingered
and loitered, sat down on the tall stone curbing of the road, and tried
to find out why he felt so uncomfortable. What if he was a "candidate"?
There was Cherry, and the other two girls at home, on tiptoe over that
very fact. Why should West Point feel so differently? He had come to
learn to serve and to defend his country; to grace her ranks, wherever
he might be.

Magnus looked after his stageful of enemies, and seeing that they had
turned down towards the south, he quickened his steps, and soon reached
the top of the hill. There paused again, partly for strangeness, and
partly for wonder. It was all so beautiful, so new.

The grass, close shaven and vividly green, covered the ground on every
side; up the slopes, and down in the hollows; with only the cavalry
plain lying brown and bare in the sunshine. Buildings, with hardly two
alike, were dropped down for the most part in a long, curving line,
the end of which he could not see. No people, anywhere, for it was
dinner time or lunch time all over the Post; only as Magnus crossed
the road to get a nearer view of the buildings, he came upon a very
distinguished personage with a gun on his shoulder, pacing aimlessly up
and down the sidewalk. His uniform was blue, his "deportment" fierce.
"He must be an officer," thought the boy to himself, "and this some
special important point he must watch."

Magnus found a seat under a friendly tree, and studied him. That slow,
ceaseless, back-and-forth march, fascinated the quicksilver youngster.
Orioles whistled over his head, sparrows sang, catbirds cried out
in fear or shouted for joy. Further off was the whistle and roar of
trains, and the bell of the ferryboat. In every pause the breeze
rustled softly by, and the river plashed against the shore. He had
never seen anything so lovely in all his life. But now, where were all
those voices?--a mild roar of talk. Plainly, in that small grey stone
castle just over the way.

He strolled on again, passed the old Academic, and came out upon the
plain. And then for a while he forgot everything but what his eyes took
in.

The smooth greensward, irregularly framed in with trees, and having
here and there a slight undulation which only heightened its beauty,
lay shimmering in the summer sun. On one side, behind the trees, the
row of houses went its winding way; on the other, the trees drew
together rather thinly in a little wood; but Magnus just then gave
no heed to either. His eyes followed the green right on to a sort of
jumping-off place, where the ground dropped suddenly all along the
line. There too was a closer-set clump of trees; and from among them,
white and slim, rose the tall flagstaff, bearing aloft the beautiful
banner of the Stars and Stripes.

There was not much wind, and the great flag hung in those half-way
curves which are more picturesque than the full expansion. Softly
twisting, turning, its mighty folds; the red, white, and blue seeming
ever in playful strife for the upper hand, which should show most and
which give way.

Magnus looked at it, and then instantly bared his head. He had never
seen so large a flag, nor ever one that floated with such clear
assumption of its rights; such careless, easy grace in claiming and
keeping them. "Make a friend of the flag," Mr. Wayne had said, and from
this moment the boy took it to his very heart. Fight for it? Aye, that
he would!

He walked slowly across the plain, still watching the flag, until
he stood close beneath it, and could hear the soft flapping of the
halyards as they beat against the pole. But now it was fairyland
everywhere.

All about him, spotting the green grass, were guns: big guns
and little guns; shining black and mouldy green; with piles of
wicked-looking black shot. The guns themselves, like many other
senders-forth of mischief, looked sleepy and innocent enough. Tall
trees rose up, bordering the little platform, from which the ground
fell off steeply towards the river; some younger and softer tree heads
showing there and hindering the further view. But Magnus wanted no more
views just then.

He stood leaning back against the white flagstaff, and for the moment
felt content. Over his head the lovely folds of the flag curled and
drooped and stretched away upon the wind; and again, as Magnus looked
up at it, he doffed his hat. Then he found himself wondering what they
did to the grass in this part of the world, to make it so smooth and
soft and even. Then two or three uniforms went by, and he wondered over
them: it was in truth fairyland. Oh, if the folks at home could only
see it! And then, suddenly, fairyland shifted its place, and fled away
far out West, to the lonely regions of Barren Heights. Oh, if--not that
they were here, but that he was there!--just back once more at home!
The boy's hat came down low over his eyes. What did that old flag care
for him? And what did he care for grass, or views, or uniforms, or
anything else, but only just to see mother, and the girls, and Cherry?

"Bracing up" is often so useful a process that one must not be too hard
upon the agents that oblige us thereto; and this time the agents were
very comely. A cluster of young girls, clad in all the pretty frippery
of the day, came giggling along the walk towards the flagstaff. It
was not, Say something and laugh at it--or, Say something to make the
others laugh; but there was a chronic state of giggle, as if life
were such a very droll thing that no occasional outburst could do it
justice. The walk passed the flagstaff with some little green space
between; and they came flickering along (I am really at a loss for
a word); changing places, pulling each other, pushing each other,
whispering, sometimes half-dancing, down the walk.

It is needless to say that Magnus "braced up" immediately; and still
leaning against the flagstaff, watched them from under his hat.

These were not his fair foes of the ferryboat, whom he had supposed
were rare specimens: now he was to learn that the species is widespread
and common, in June. Again he heard the obnoxious word, "candidate."

"Holding up the flagstaff, as usual," said the leading girl. "I do
verily believe they think that's what they come for."

"Hush!" said another. "Don't talk so loud. He might hear."

"He'll hear worse than that, before he's been here many days," said the
first. "I'll just break it to him by degrees. Say, girls, let's go and
give him his 'technical,' and get the start of Devlin Fritz."

"_Do_ be quiet!" said a third. "No wonder they all call you 'Miss
Saucy.'"

"It's something to have them _all_ call you anything," returned the
young lady with much content.

"Oh, that's true!" said another. "I declare, girls, I think it's too
bad. Here I've spent ten pounds of candy since I came, and I haven't
got one special cadet yet."

"Huyler's?" demanded Miss Saucy.

"Huyler's."

"Get Dulce to hand you over Mr. Day. She bores the poor boy to death. I
know he'd be glad of almost any change," said Miss Flirt.

"Or she might try a 'candied date,'" suggested Miss Saucy with a
sideway gesture.

In the small babel of words and laughter that followed this, the girls
drifted away out of hearing, and the sweet summer air was silent
again. The leaves clapped hands softly, the folds of the beautiful flag
curled and played as before over the head of the young candidate. But
in the heart of Magnus himself, just now, the summer grace and peace
found no foothold. Rather, his thoughts were like a November gale, with
the air full of dust and rubbish.

What if he _was_ a candidate? Men had to be, when they first came, he
supposed. And what if he _did_ mean to hold up the flagstaff? who had a
better right? Magnus looked up defiantly, and made a profound reverence
to the Stars and Stripes. All the same, he edged away as he saw another
party of girls approaching, and went and sat down on a long iron
seat among the tree shadows. One thing was certain: his sisters--and
Cherry--should never set foot here, if he could help it. He had been
thinking--if only they could get money enough--how fine it would be to
have them all come and see this beautiful place. Such walks as they
could take! But West Point just _swarmed_ with girls already. And at
this point of his meditations Magnus was quite sure that he heard
"candidate" again, from another jocund voice.

"Say, let's find out."

"What for?" said a pink vision.

"Fun," said the white one: "Oh, I know the regulation questions." And
but half under her breath, the pretty tones sang out:

    "See where he hails from--
      What is his name;
    Who was his 'pred.,'
      And why he came."

"Who cares?" said the other girl, hurrying her along. "Come, we are
late."

That party passed, followed, it must be owned, by some rather fierce
looks from Magnus. Then, slowly strolling down the pathway, came two
more: a girl, in the height of every fashion, and a tall fellow in
close-fitting grey coat and the whitest of unwrinkled trousers. Over
his head he carried the girl's scarlet and lace parasol, shielding
himself as carefully as if she had brought it for that express purpose.
As perhaps she had: who knows? At all events, the little lady gazed up
at the dark sunburnt face, with its vivid background, as if nothing
could be too good to screen such a complexion. And he looked down at
her--well, women never get just what they give, but he did look very
admiringly; as if the delicate face needed nothing, not even a parasol.

Whatever was the reason, this couple made Magnus more irate than any
that had gone before. There was an instant antagonism to the tall
cadet. His uniform was so becoming, and fitted so well; the glancing
buttons were so attractive; the gold bars on the upper arm had such
a distinguished look; the young stranger set him down at once for a
coxcomb. But there was a little envy in it all. How cleverly he cut
down the military stride to keep step with the girl's mincing feet; a
difficult thing, as Magnus knew.

"Taking care of his own precious face, and letting hers burn!" quoth
the young civilian; but all the same, he would have given more money
than he was likely to have soon to be in just such guise himself, with
Cherry by his side. He'd show that fellow a thing or two.

He was getting homesick again. All these people, with their friends
and their fun, made him feel so desolately far away from everybody. He
slouched his hat down further, and wandered off again, not looking much
where he went; just following the path beneath his feet. Slowly round
the guns, then on along the bank, and there found more seats. There
was no sound of voice or step here, and Magnus sat down wearily, and
leaned his head on his arm, and tried to fight the homesickness. For
the moment he despised the whole race of girls, Cherry, of course,
excepted. "Simpering up into that fellow's face, as if there had never
been a man before, nor would be again."

Yes, there was certainly a twinge of envy in Charlemagne's heart. The
tall cadet had carried himself with such careless, graceful erectness
that there was no relief to be had out of calling him a "ramrod." And
his white trousers were _so_ white, and so without a wrinkle.

"I'd like to know how he manages that," thought Magnus, the envy
passing into wonder. With him, white trousers had been always uncertain
and short-lived things. And now his thoughts flew far away again,
over hills and prairie land; and once more he was going through wild
exploits at home; getting himself wet and muddy, and having the girls
laugh at him from the midst of their intact fresh draperies. Magnus
drew a long, heavy sigh.

Then he roused himself and sat up; for again those measured steps, the
peculiar tread of which he was just learning to know, sounded near by;
and another cadet, from the opposite direction, came down the walk. He
glanced at Magnus, then crossed the grass, and took his seat on the
other end of the same bench; but said not a word, only gazed placidly
up the river. And now, as one always looks whither another is looking,
so also did Magnus.

There were no trees in the way here, and the view was open. Close
at his feet the ground fell sharply down to the level of the siege
battery, where a dozen guns and mortars kept grim watch, their ugly
black mouths pointed up-stream. Beyond the green parapet nothing made
much show till you reached the river itself, which for ten miles here
came flowing gently down, with no sharp turns; the whole of "Martlaer's
Reach" lay full in sight. In the far, far distance, an irregularly
broken line of blue peaks brushed softly against the sky. At their
feet lay the green wooded slopes of the Newburgh hills, with Newburgh
itself sparkling in the sun. The line stretched across so straight from
side to side, as if there the river began.

Nearer, and on either hand, rising in abrupt masses from the water's
edge, lay Butter Hill and Breakneck, Bull Hill and Crow Nest; pillars
of the north Highland gateway. All green, from brow to base, except
where every now and then the granite framework of the mountains pushed
itself through in crags and ridges. The green was exquisite, with all
the lush hues of June.

Between the hills the flood of the great river poured along unchecked,
until where in the very foreground the grey-green bluff of Martlaer's
Rock thrust itself out athwart the stream; bringing it with one sharp
turn to its very narrowest and deepest part. For a little distance
then, in front of Magnus, the river ran east and west--along the
Rock; then took another short turn, and went racing south; the lovely
"Shaw-na-taw-ty," that "flows toward the midday." Between the river and
the homesick boy lay only the broken hillside and the silent guns.

There were no human voices, either, but a chance medley of sweet sounds
from other throats. Song sparrows in their rollicking glee, with the
homespun twitter of a chipping sparrow, giving her brood their first
outing. Robins kept up their changing chorus; crows cawed; among
the distant trees you could hear the thrush bells now and then. The
indescribable sighs and murmurs and trills of the summer wind, the soft
touches of the mighty river along its banks, filled every moment of
unappropriated time.

Magnus forgot everything, as he looked and listened. June threw her
warm spell over him, and for the minute again he was content.

"Yes, that can't be beat," remarked his neighbour in grey, who had been
watching him closely. "Look at it all you want to; now is a good time."

"I think every time is good, for such a view," Magnus said, facing
round.

"When do you report?" asked the other abruptly.

"To-morrow." Magnus answered the question, perceiving the next instant
that again he was noted as a candidate.

"Well, next week, if you are here, you'll find some other hills lying
round promiscuous, and you won't think quite so much about these."

"How did you know I was to report at all?"

The cadet laughed.

"No mistaking a candidate," he said. "You have the real all-overish
look about you. And no need to huff up at it, either. I've been there
myself, so I know."

"Do you like it here?" said Magnus, the flush cooling down.

"Fair to middling. When I'm up in math., keep out of Con., and don't
get skinned too often."

This was high Dutch to Magnus. But he was at the age when pertinent
questions are far harder to ask than the impertinent; and nothing would
have made him show his ignorance. He went back to the last subject.

"You say you know, because you've been a candidate yourself; but who
tells all these girls?"

"Oh, the girls!" said the cadet. "Yes, there's a good many girls
here; and what some of 'em don't know, and don't do, wouldn't fill a
collar-box. Even Crinkem's head could hold it."

"Who is Crinkem?"

"My respected classmate. Absolutely worried along so far, and gone on
furlough. Nobody can guess how he did it, either. Who are you?"

"Charlemagne Kindred."

The cadet gave a long, "Whew!"

"Is that all you have for week days?" he asked.

"Not quite," said Magnus, smiling in spite of himself. "They call me
Magnus, at home."

"Won't do you any good here," said the other, shaking his head. "Name's
got to go down in full, if it was Beelzebub Nebuchadnezzar. You'll be
rechristened for common use."

"Do they always do that?" said Magnus, looking grave.

"Mostly."

Magnus reddened.

"I cannot see what the Faculty have to do with my name," he said. "It's
not their business."

"Not the Faculty, as you call them, at all," said the cadet, "but your
beloved fellow-students. They will take almost as anxious care of you
as will the Com."

"Oh, the other cadets!" said Magnus loftily. "I'll take care of them."

"I would," said the man in grey with dry emphasis. "Not too many at
once. There's quite a few of them."

Magnus sat studying the north view without seeing it.

"But how is this?" he said suddenly. "You say your classmate has gone
on furlough--why aren't you gone too?"

The cadet shrugged his shoulders.

"Some men leave their country for their country's good," he said, "and
some stay in it, same at same. I lost my furlough. But anyhow Crinkem
went ahead of time; folks sick at home. He's always in luck."

"_Lost_ it," Magnus repeated. "How could you?"

"Easy enough, if you run against the Tacs in a tight place. Lose
anything here, except your heart and your appetite."

But to these last words Magnus gave no heed; his whole soul was astir
with this new idea. _Lose his furlough!_ Not go home even at the end
of the two long years!

"Can you do that?" he said. "Is it often done?"

"Not so very. Oh, you can do it, fast enough, if you have a run of bad
luck, as I did."

"I don't believe in luck," Magnus answered him.

"Don't you? Well, you will, when you've been here a month."

And now a party of strollers came by the seat; another much-dressed
young damsel, set in a framework of grey uniforms. As they passed, the
lady bowed; Magnus's friend stood up and doffed his cap, the other
cadets also touching theirs; and again (against his will) Magnus
admired and envied the easy precision of every movement. He wondered
if he could take off his hat with that peculiar swing?--and said no,
to himself, at once. But he would have it before furlough--and how
astonished Cherry would be!

"Been round Flirtation?" demanded his new acquaintance abruptly,
watching the three who went slowly on towards where the path left the
brow of the hill, and ran down among the cedars.

"Round flirtation!"

The cadet laughed.

"You needn't look so scared," he said--"it's only one of our walks. At
least it isn't generally anything else. Come on, and I'll show it to
you. I don't see what Fitch is after with that girl; cutting out poor
little Day. And he can talk a dozen to Day's one. Come along."

So they rose up, and stepped on at a good pace, till they had the
others in full sight again; dropping then into the like easy saunter.
At least it was easy to one, but for Magnus like being in bonds; and he
was constantly getting ahead, checking himself, and falling back.

"I'll teach them how to walk, when I'm once in," he thought. Then aloud:

"We should call this slow doings out West," he said.

"Yes," said his companion. "Generally want to get there, out West, I
suppose?"

"We certainly do."

"All right. Well, those folks don't."

It was such a self-evident fact about the three in front, that Magnus
looked from them to the man at his side, and his eyes flashed with fun.
They both laughed.

"Do none of them ever want to get _anywhere_?" said Magnus.

"Not often--on Flirtation. Spoil the fun, you know."

"Well, you say that is Mr. Fitch, and the other is Mr. Day, then who
are you?" said Magnus.

"To be sure!" said the cadet with a lazy drawl. "I've been wondering
how long a Westerner could get along without asking."

If Magnus grew hot at this implied charge, he had no chance to show it
then. A sudden drum-call, clear and loud, sent its racket through the
still air. The cadet stopped short.

"There!" he said; "that beastly review is to come off, after all."

And without another word, he turned and darted up the hill. In another
minute, Fitch and Day went speeding by, at the same keen, measured
pace, which struck Magnus as unlike anything he had ever seen. A few
bounds brought him up to the green level of the plain, where he could
watch the three, as they hurried along to the grey barracks. Nor those
three alone. From every side, from all directions, the grey and white
came hurrying in. Hurrying--yet always with the same even, regular,
swift step; the foot lifted just so high, the right arm swinging just
so far; and with no seeming effort. Magnus saw one and another of them
take off his cap to some lady as he flew by, but without the least
pause or break. Only two or three very much belated men dropped into a
walk as they neared the barracks. As Rosamund said, "It was too late to
get up early."



VI

A LONELY CANDIDATE

    Nothing useless is, or low;
      Each thing in its place is best:
    And what seems but idle show,
      Strengthens and supports the rest.

--LONGFELLOW.


Magnus strolled leisurely along, thinking first that he could show
these cadets how to run, and then beginning to have grave doubts on
the subject; and finally finding himself a seat under the trees, where
he could look and listen in shady comfort. Eyes and ears had full
occupation.

There was a busy note of preparation everywhere, and especially among
the drums. Beating there, and then beating here; the sound caught
up and echoed back from the grey rocks on the green hillside. Then
came out uniforms of various sorts (Magnus personified the dress, not
knowing the men) and proceeded to mark off a certain space on the green
in front of him, setting a gay little banner at the four corners of a
large, large square.

Then, at first slowly, but soon hurrying up from every point of the
compass, a many-coloured crowd swarmed in and filled the seats--filled
them presently so full that Magnus gave up his place to the next gauzy
creature that came along. She fluttered down into the seat with much
gratulation and no thanks, and Magnus gravely took his stand in the
rear.

He had no lack of company, even there. Officers in various uniforms,
civilians in all sorts of coats, and girls in all sorts of finery,
stood beside and around him.

And now, also, there came straying in another small posse, whom Magnus
instinctively knew as of his own kind. Yes, they must be candidates;
partly, perhaps, because they could not possibly be anything else;
no other class owned them. Yet how did _he_ know that?--to whom all
classes here were strange. What possible connection between that dapper
little fellow in straw hat and black alpaca coat, and this young giant
who wore a cloth cap and a fluttering linen duster? Or how was his next
neighbour in a Derby and long frock coat like the fourth man, who wore
brown trousers, a cutaway coat, and a wide-awake? Yet even Magnus could
see that "candidate" was written on them all. So plainly, indeed, that
he stepped further back and put himself behind the tree. Anybody who
looked at him standing there--and some did look--saw a tall, well-made
young fellow in a neat and perfectly unobtrusive suit of brown-grey
cloth. Very dark hair and with a wilful curl that tossed it about every
way. Excellent features, ignorant as yet of life's moulding touch; and
a sweet, mobile mouth, set just now in very grave lines indeed, and
so hiding one of the great charms of his face. For nobody could watch
Magnus Kindred when he smiled or laughed, and not notice the _clean_
look: the utterly pure and true lines into which those grave ones
changed. For the rest, hands and feet were well shaped and in excellent
order; and the whole bearing was both self-reliant and unconscious.

But it seemed as if the gayer grew the scene, the soberer grew that
young face gazing out from behind the tree. For of all the lonely
places, commend me to an unknown throng of pleasure-seekers, where
everyone belongs to someone, is waiting for someone, or is waited for,
and you belong to none. No eyes are watching for you, no heart stirs
when you come in sight; and no one will miss you if you do not come at
all.

So Magnus felt that day. The more people came, the more he was crowded
almost from standing-room, the wider grew the heart distance between
himself and the bright world about him. Gay girls, pretty girls,
thronged the seats and the walk; Magnus only felt that none of them
was Cherry, and every older woman that came by, decked in feathers and
flowers and laces, sent his thoughts off with such a rush to his own
dear mother, in her simplest go-to-meeting bonnet, that it was all the
boy could do to stand there and give no sign. And at even the officers
he looked askance, wondering which of them might possibly be "Tacs."

"Poor fellow!" said some of the kind hearts amid the finery. "He looks
pretty homesick."

"Such a handsome boy, too. You must take him out in the German, Floy."

"Oh, _he_ can't go to the German," said Miss Floy, who had reached
the mature age of thirteen. "None of the plebs can. And he's only a
candidate, yet. Besides, I don't care much for any man that doesn't
wear chevrons."

And the mother laughed and repeated the smart saying to her next
neighbour.

If there arose in the mind of Charlemagne Kindred an instant resolve
to wear chevrons, at whatever cost, you must not think hardly of him.
These pretty, airy creatures wield a powerful sceptre and their silken
cords are strong.

How the people crowded in! They sat where they could, and stood where
they shouldn't. They grouped themselves round the old trees, and made
a strong background to the iron seats. Officers, civilians, matrons,
girls--and candidates. Little children dropped down on the green edge
of the parade ground, and at last grown-up and hard-pushed people
sat there, too. Then an imposing police sergeant came along, waving
them off with his black wand. And the people jumped up, growling and
frowning, and, as soon as they saw his back, dropped down again.

As for Magnus, the whole thing seemed to wind him up in tightening
cords of tension. He was outside now, but to-morrow at this time he
would be in; caught and bound and caged behind a cordon of regulations.
Assigned a place, turned over to duties which he could in no wise quit
or change. Not to see home again for two long years.

Should he do it? Or should he, in these last hours of freedom, set
himself free for good? Take the first train for the West, and leave all
his great prospects behind him, and the chevrons and shoulder-straps to
someone else? Thoughts came and went, surged and rolled back; and the
whistle of each train, as it flew by, just made the confusion deeper.
"Come!" they seemed to say. "Come-m-me-me!"

Meantime the review went on; the citizen actors showed how they could
not march and the cadets how they could; and this last part was so fine
that Magnus fairly forgot himself and his trouble. Round the great
square they went; the grey and white lines moving like some one elastic
thing. Corners made no break, hot sunbeams seemed unnoticed. So they
marched round; first slow, then fast; and then began the double-timing.

How beautiful it was! Privates in their glancing lines; cadet officers
leading on, and running backwards or forwards with equally unerring
footsteps. Heading all, the Commandant. Years had passed away since
he learned the double-quick; and the supple boy had changed into the
grey-haired man; but his foot never faltered, his step never lagged.
The white-plumed blue uniform led on the grey with a gallantry it was
pretty to see. Magnus watched the whole with deepest admiration; down
to the last bit of timeful running with no music to mark it off.

He was noticing every step; eyeing the black shoe-soles that came up
as one, the bent-knee line of white trousers, the glitter of the guns;
forgetting everything else, when again the hated word came full upon
his ear.

"Just look at that candidate, will you! It's as good as a play. I
wonder he didn't join in."

"Ya-as," was answered in a drawling tone by her escort. "There he
stands. Study his perfections now, while you can, Miss Jenny. Next week
he will have ceased to shine upon the polite world. Exit the candidate,
enter the beast. That is, if he gets in, which is doubtful."

A small thing may do the work where a large one fails; trains got no
hearing, after that. That he would enter became instantly a fixed fact
to that particular candidate.

The girl was certainly pretty. How would Cherry look, sitting there,
and with himself in a grey coat bending over her, and twirling her
parasol? Cherry was handsomer--miles away--than this girl. Deeper eyes,
tenderer mouth, more glowing cheeks, too, for that matter. Yet she
would not look _so_, the boy honestly owned to himself, though fuming
a little over the admission; the whole make-up would be different. The
very idea of such shoes as this damsel thrust out into the sunlight had
never entered Cherry's wholesome head. "Shoe pegs," Magnus called the
heels, with great scorn, and set right in the middle of her foot. And
scarlet stockings. And her dress--what was it made of? No, Cherry would
not look so; and however he might frown, Magnus felt the glamour, as
most men do, of city dressmaking and "the correct thing."

"Country-made gowns look so different," said someone behind him.

Then that girl further on, in fluffs of white lace and muslin, white
shoes, white gloves, and her dainty head crowned with "an acre" of
Leghorn, and "a half bushel" of roses. No, neither would Cherry look
like her. And now the boy's fancy brought the little country maiden,
in her country garb--even her Sunday best--and set her down beside
these two. A plain white gown, with no setting off but the simple
ruffles which Cherry had embroidered, and the exquisite laundry work
which she had also done herself. Black shoes, which were made for
walking ("but either one of those white ones could hold 'em both,"
thought Magnus, in his hot fancy). Then a broad straw hat, round which
Violet's deft fingers had twined a dark green riband; while the hands,
which were small, indeed, and comely, but unwhitened with either
idleness or lemon, wore only a pair of spotless Lisle thread gloves.

Magnus looked at the pink, the white, the tan kids all about him, and
drew a deep breath.

"But she _shall_ sit there!" he said, with one of his fierce mental
bursts. "She shall sit there, and look just so. No, not just so, for,
if they try their prettiest, they can never any of them look like her."



VII

IN FOR IT

    With this hand work, and with the other pray,
    And God will bless them both from day to day.

    --_Old Vierlander Motto._


Some little time after the foregoing events, the following letter was
sent from the West Point Post Office:

  "CAMP HARD, June --, 18--.

  "MY DEAR FOLKS AT HOME:

 "Well, I am in for it. Uncle Sam has me, body and soul. At least
 the body is self-evident, and as I don't get time to say my soul's
 my own, I suppose he claims that, too,--Mr. Wayne to the contrary.
 Bought and paid for and sworn in; and earmarks enough for a drove
 of pigs. Do you want to know what I look like, you girls? Just at
 present I am a compound of grey and green in about equal mixture.
 No, I guess the green has it. Hair cut short, army shoes, and a
 brand new prison dress which might fit anybody else as well as it
 does me, and better. I get up by a gun, and go to bed by a drum,
 and have a bugle to tell me when to go to sleep, and as we are
 young and tender in the ways of the world, at every meal the first
 captain informs us when to stop eating. (He's nothing special to
 look at, Cherry. Don't open your eyes too wide. But he's such an
 old spoon that he's always in a hurry to get out and walk with
 some girl or other)."

 "We study straight lines in the morning, and play leap-frog
 in the afternoon; and have girls come and make fun of us while
 we're at it. Yesterday they enjoyed it more than was good for
 themselves, and one of the officers ordered them off."

 "There are two special prigs in chevrons, who have charge of our
 thumbs and shoulderblades; and when you girls come to see me,
 _one_ of 'em won't get an introduction, that's all. What do you
 think he did yesterday? It was hot enough to melt down your ideas,
 if you had any--hot as the middle line of the equator; and he had
 been drilling us as if he had never been drilled himself, and
 didn't know how it felt. So, when drill was over, he stood a lot
 of us round his tent door in the sun, and then made iced lemonade,
 and sat there drinking it with us looking on. Give us some? Not
 quite. Go to the store and buy our own lemons, Rose? Why, we can't
 get a shoestring without a special order. Corporal Mean smuggled
 in his sugar from the Mess Hall; and I guess Miss Flyaway brought
 him the lemons. If you want to know about Miss Flyaway, she's
 one of the girls; a summer girl, as they say here, and we plebs
 could spare her till winter just as well as not. She's as bad as
 a third-class corporal--only we can laugh at her and we can't at
 him. If we did, we'd be skinned in a minute. This is what I should
 hear read out after parade:

 "'Kindred--disrespect to superior officer, at about 4.30 P.
 M.'--demerits according. Oh, well! we'll wear through somehow; it
 takes a good deal to kill a man. And they're not all like that.
 Cadet Captain Steady called me into his tent to-day and gave me a
 whole lot of good advice that would have gone to mother's heart.
 There's another Captain, too, Mr. Upright, who's as nice as he
 can be; and some of the Tacs aren't very bad to take. But we've
 got one in our company! I just wish you could see him. We call
 him Towser--because he's always nosing round, and sniffing about
 everywhere, to see what sort of a dry bone he can find to pick. He
 hasn't hived any of mine yet, but he spied a whole square inch of
 paper in front of Randolph's tent and reported him for disorder.
 You have to polish your shoestrings to go down A Company street,
 when he's in charge. So whoever sees him coming fires off a
 volley, and then we all know. Bow--wow--wow--wow--wow--wow!"

 "You'll like my tentmate, Rig. That's not his name, of course, but
 we call him so because he's so B. J. about his dress. They don't
 leave him much hair to brush, but what he has takes up half his
 spare time."

 "Now I know mother is aching to put in her questions--just waiting
 till I get through writing stuff. Well, ma'am, you see, we just
 _have_ to praise ourselves a little bit here, because if we don't
 do it, it don't get done; and so I call myself a pretty good boy.
 Whether I'd suit you exactly, I'll not say. I go to prayer-meeting
 twice a week and once to Chapel (_have_ to go there, so you
 needn't give me a credit), and I've not missed reading my chapter
 one day yet. Mr. Upright came by the other day when I was at it,
 and he stopped and walked in."

 "'Keep straight on with your good home habits, Mr. Kindred,' he
 said, 'no matter what anybody says or does. Read the Bible just as
 much as you like; the more, the better. Remember:

    "'He always wins, who sides with God.'"

 "So I read every day. And I'm not likely to stop praying as long
 as I have you four to pray about. I guess I shall keep my colours
 flying--a storm flag, anyway. But it does blow pretty hard here
 sometimes, that is sure. Train says I can't do it. No use, he
 declares: says he's tried it and it won't work. (He was turned
 back, and so he has been here a year and thinks he knows.) He says
 there's no place in the course for religion; just as well give it
 up first as last."

 "So I told him my mother had no 'give up' in her dictionary and
 never taught me how to spell the words."

 "Poor Train! His mother went to heaven three years ago; though how
 she can enjoy herself up there, with him going on as he does down
 here, I can't see. Maybe she doesn't know."

 "There goes the first drum! Good-bye. Kiss each other all round
 for me, beginning anywhere."

  "MAGNUS KINDRED,
  U. S. Corps of Cadets."

 "You mustn't think hard of Rig; he's a real good fellow. But you
 see he's a pinky-white creation: and it hurts his feelings to look
 like an acorn."

This letter was duly addressed, sealed, and stamped; went on the
orderly's back to the post-office, and thence, in due course, across
the continent to the far-off simple home at Barren Heights. There it
alighted with the force and precision of a bombshell. That is, if force
may be measured by commotion.

The strange phrases, the new ideas, the dim, vague vision of most
unwonted doings--there is no telling what a stir-up it all was. The
three girls had gone to the post office together in the course of their
afternoon walk, and had taken turns at bringing the precious missive
home. Now they sat about on the front steps, while Mrs. Kindred, in the
porch rocking chair, opened and read the letter aloud.

I think she never even thought of a hidden meaning in "Camp Hard,"
passing it by as a mere name; but as she read on, even where the words
themselves were perplexing, their intent was unmistakable. At the end
of almost the very first sentence Mrs. Kindred took off her glasses,
laid them down on the letter, and looked about her.

"No time to say his soul is his own," she said. "Why, what does this
mean?"

Everybody else had felt the shock, but as usual they all crowded in to
the rescue.

"It must be just his way of talking," said Violet. "Don't you know,
mother, that when Magnus gets excited he always goes on stilts?"

"And of course, he is very busy," said Rose, "with so many new things
to do."

"And you can see he is talking in the air, Mrs. Kindred," said Cherry's
sweet voice, "because he instances something for which he does _not_
want time. Magnus has never called his soul his own, since he gave it
to Christ to save and keep."

"Dear boy!" said the mother. "Thank you, Cherry, for reminding me. Yes,
I will not doubt,"--and she read on.

"I cannot see why he says 'skinned,'" said Violet. "It's a very queer
way to talk."

"But just like him," said Rose. "Magnus always did talk wild--just a
little bit," the sisterly censure softening down. "And you see they
play games for exercise--so that is very good."

"I suppose studying straight lines must mean drawing," said Cherry,
looking down at the open letter. "Magnus will not care what they do, if
they will only let him draw."

"I am not so anxious about all _that_," said the mother thoughtfully.
"Boys at school must have some hardships and do many things they do not
like. And you see he does go to prayer-meeting and read the Bible."

"But he says such strange things," said Violet, studying the letter
from her side. "Do all people in the East have names like that? 'Rig,'
and 'Mean,' and 'Upright'--it sounds like the Pilgrim's Progress."

"And so it is," said the mother, smiling faintly, through two big
teardrops, "and Magnus is going over a part of the road where we have
never been. That must be, girls. But the Lord is as strong there
as here in Barren Heights; and Magnus is no weaker than he was at
home--bless his dear heart! He never could bear that word 'weak.' I
wish he had told us what he means by 'a storm flag.'"

"Why, it must be a flag that flies in all weathers!" cried Cherry. "So
strong that the wind cannot tear it, and so deep-coloured that the rain
cannot wash it out."

Well for them all that she did not know enough to add, "And so small
that it can hardly be seen."

But no such thought cast its dark shadow. Mrs. Kindred looked at the
sweet eyes, all aglow with the spirit of the martyrs; the lips in a
quiver, the cheeks in a flush; then took Cherry in her arms and kissed
her.

"You are never anything but a blessing," she said, and went away
to pour out tears and petitions in her own private room; with a
heart-aching sense all the while that she wished some other boy had the
glory and the brass buttons, and that her own Magnus was safe at home.

Meanwhile the girls in the porch talked on.

"I dare say you are right about the flag, Cherry," said Rose, "but
there are other things I cannot understand."

"It is dreadful about his clothes," put in Violet.

"I do not mind _that_ so much," said Rose. "Mother always said Magnus
was a fidget to fit. But what _can_ he mean by B. J.? Oh, girls, do you
think it could possibly be some dreadful expression he has learned, and
didn't like to write out to us?" And Rose put her head down, in great
distress.

"It _could_ not be!" said Violet, with a scared look. "Why, you are
talking about Magnus! Rose, I believe you are crazy."

"I think I must be," said Rose, lifting her head and brushing off the
tears. "Of course, it is all my nonsense. Cherry, where are you going?"

"Home," said the girl, pulling on her deep sun-bonnet. "I have
something to do. I'll be down again soon."

No one noticed how white the young face had grown while the other girls
wept; no one guessed the cause of this sudden home-going; but as she
went, Cherry clenched her hands for very anguish of heart. _Magnus_
change like that? _Magnus_ learn words so bad that he would not write
them home? No indeed!--it could not be; she knew it could not. All the
same, that vision of possibility had come into her heart, and come to
stay; and nothing stilled the aching until she had carried her burden
to the feet of Him, "Who is able to keep you from falling, and to
present you faultless before the presence of his glory."

Cherry did not cry: she was not given to tears: but from that day on,
two Bible verses answered to each other in her heart like a sweet chime:

"Thou hast a few names, even in Sardis, that have not defiled their
garments," and "He is able to save to the uttermost."



VIII

RUBS THE WRONG WAY

    Now don't go off half cock; folks never gains
    By usin' pepper sarce instead o' brains.

    --_Biglow Papers._


If Cadet Magnus Kindred knew in a general sort of way that all the
simple, loving women folk at home were praying for him morning,
noon, and night, "and watching thereunto with all perseverance," it
was with a very easy remembrance of the fact, and not the faintest
idea that anything but pleasure touched the case. And he would have
simply shouted at Rose's panic over the unexplained "B. J." In fact,
if anybody knows the origin of those two cabalistic letters, Magnus
certainly did not.

Indeed, he had scant time for running down questions. Drills began
as soon as examination was over, and were pushed on "fiercely" (as
Randolph declared), hot sun or no sun, rested or tired. Though Magnus
had been used to such an active open-air life that all this came easier
to him than to some others. As to the rest, he got along pretty well
for a "pleb," having a certain sensible nature which made light of
hardships, and was not quick to take offence. So when he was jeered and
pointed at, chin poked in and toes pushed out, he rarely said anything
stronger, even to himself, than, "Just you wait!" Good common sense
everywhere befriended him, even when the drill masters abused their
power, or first classmen showed their prowess by "jumping" plebs.

So he brought in water and cleaned guns; stood attention, and stood his
ground; and when the time came for that amusement, "advanced ghosts"
in the most correct terms, but kept his musket against all attempts of
Cadet Devlin and his compeers. Nay, on one such occasion, he gave the
marauder the most accurate measure of himself upon the ground that the
young man had ever had. Of course Magnus was reported, but he gave too
straight answers for the charge to stand, and the upshot was that Mr.
Devlin lost his chevrons "for hazing plebs." The whole account caused
great consternation at home, only lulled by the assurance Magnus gave
that if he had let anyone take his gun, he himself might have been put
in "light prison" or sent home in disgrace. For to the bewildered mind
of a pleb in those early days, anything might happen.

Devlin swore vengeance, and in a small way carried it out. But young
Kindred laughed off some things, ignored others, and now and then gave
Mr. Devlin a blaze out of his honest eyes before which that gentleman
rather shrivelled up. Nobody liked to exactly try to handle Charlemagne
Kindred: there was about him "a look of unknown quantities"--as Mr.
Upright remarked one day. Cadet Upright was a staunch friend; and it
was a blessing to all the plebs in Camp Hard that year that he was head
man over them.

"Come and clean my gun, Mr. Kindred," he would say, adding, when Magnus
was in the tent, "The gun is not very dirty, and there is no hurry
about it, but you must be doing something, and in here is better than
out there."

A fact which Magnus realised when from the cool recesses of the tent he
saw other plebs fetching water in the sun, or standing attention for a
lecture from Mr. Devlin: teased and worried and laughed at by Mr. Prank.

It was during the fervid days of that July that Rig ("poor Rig," as
Magnus generally termed him in the letters home) went through a small
bit of experience which, by his own account, made him "a sadder, if
not a wiser, man."

The morning was intensely hot. The plebs had been out at their early
drill and now in the canvas shade were enjoying a few minutes' rest.
Guard-mounting was just over, and for a brief space no one had anything
special to do. The visitors' seats were nearly deserted, with only
a few sentimentals from either side the colour-line still lounging
there. The sentries paced up and down in full fatigue dress: the row of
stacked arms shimmered in the heat.

In his tent Magnus was devouring over again the last night's letter
from home, and so did not notice what was going on, until the shadow of
Cadet Prank in the tent door made him look up in time to see Rig (alias
McLean) start to his feet and stand very stiff indeed.

"Good-day, Mr. McLean," said the man with chevrons. "Don't disturb
yourself, I'll not come in. I know you've been hard at it this
morning, and I really hate to ask you to go out again,--but in such
a case,"--and Mr. Prank gazed into the glowing sunshine in deep
perplexity.

Magnus, watching from the depths of the tent, saw the gleam which no
effort of Prank's could keep out of his eyes, with the dangerously
solemn lines about the mouth. But poor Rig at such honeyed words from
an upper classman, lost what little everyday perception belonged to
him. "He's just got to learn for himself, though," thought Magnus,
looking on with intense amusement.

Mr. Prank suddenly turned and glanced suspiciously down towards the
listener; but Magnus was all quiet, behind his letter.

"You see, Mr. McLean," Prank went on, dropping his voice a little, "I
want a man I can trust, to do me a small service. If you are not too
much fatigued--it would not take long."

Visions of Mr. Prank for his bosom friend, and Camp Hard suddenly
transformed into Elysium, floated before Rig's eyes.

"Yes, sir,--no, sir," he answered, gathering up the points.

"It is really but a minute's work," said Prank with another glance over
Rig's head towards Magnus; "but a particular friend of mine has gone on
guard without his gloves. Most absent-minded man alive! And if the Com.
comes along, he's ruined. So I thought if you would just take them to
him--you see _I_ should have to report him. He's on post No. 6."

Mr. Prank held out a pair of immaculate white gloves. But now Rig drew
back. To waylay a sentinel on his beat, was something so clearly beyond
pleb limits that he took fright.

"Yes, sir," he began; "certainly, sir. But you know, sir, it's against
orders, I believe----"

Mr. Prank drew himself up to all his inches.

"That will do," he said. "Of course, I don't know much about
regulations and never heard the orders. Very kind of you to instruct
me, I am sure; I shall not forget it! Sorry to have disturbed your
toilette, Mr. McLean, but I thought such a trifle could not seriously
put you out. Someone else, probably, will be kind enough--whose hair
curls easier than yours."

And tucking the white gloves into the cadet pocket (his sleeve), Mr.
Prank strode haughtily away.

Rig felt miserable. He did not see that Magnus in his dark corner was
shaking from head to foot. But to lose his character for obligingness!
With a bound he was after the retreating chevrons.

"Oh, Mr. Prank!" he said. "Of course I didn't mean that you didn't
know, sir; and I have just thought of a way, if you think it will do. I
can hang the gloves on one of the bayonets where the arms are stacked,
you know, sir, and then he can get them for himself."

"The very thing!" said Prank, with a well-kept face. "I see you are
bright, Mr. McLean, as well as obliging. Take the gloves, my dear
fellow, and be quick. And count upon me hereafter."

With a swelling heart Rig stepped briskly up to the shining row of
guns, where not an inch nor a line was out of the most spick-and-span
state of military precision, and hung the white pendant on a glittering
point of steel. And as he turned--alas! he was tapped on the shoulder
and marched off to the guard tent "for tampering with the arms."

"I shouldn't have minded that so much," he said afterwards to Magnus,
"if I hadn't been such a double-distilled fool. And I'm not a fool
really, you know,--but I'm not 'a gem of purest ray serene,' either.
And I just lost my head with being told I was."

Plenty of that sort of sport (to give it its common name) went on in
Camp Hard, and even the most patient men grew tired of it, and the
most good-natured got cross. It is monotonous when all the fun goes to
somebody else. Even the straight shoulders sometimes rebelled against
the perpetual bracing up; and many a poor fourth classman wished that
his grey trousers had no side seam which could serve as a landmark to
his weary thumbs: for in those days "finning out" was in full force.

But indeed it was sometimes hard to take even what the law allowed.

A strict order had been published that no cadet should ask a pleb to
perform any menial service, but when Corporal Main remarked, "Mr.
Stone, there are some very dusty shoes in my tent,"--no more was
needed. Stone was just come in from drill, and ached in every inch; but
he went at the shoes, and cleaned and rubbed and polished for dear
life, while Corporal Main strolled off with Miss Flyaway, and told her
the story.

Again, another humane order was read out one day in the Mess Hall, to
the effect that in that place of supposed relaxation plebs need not
"brace," but might sit and stand "at will." But the minute the reader's
back was turned Cadet Prank drawled out:

"Boys, hadn't you all a great deal _rather_ brace up?"

And so many hurriedly answered, "Yes, sir!" that the contrary noes were
never counted.

That was the way of it; and by dint of being laughed at and pointed
at; drilled, straightened, pulled into shape, and called "beasts," the
fourth classmen began to feel as if in truth the name fitted. They
huddled together in corners, talked in whispers, and told endless
stories of home.



IX

CAMP HARD

 _Marcus Antonius._ Cæsar dear, is there no way this troubling my
 dear little plebeian sentinels can be stopped?

 _Cæsar._ There probably is, but we have not found it yet.

  --_Colour Line Tragedy of 1890._


Nor yet. And so, year by year, for a time, the new fourth classmen
worked out pretty fairly Lowell's lines:

    "Mis'ble as roosters in a rain,
    Heads down, and tails half-mast."

Magnus Kindred was speeding along through camp one morning, thinking of
home, when he was hailed by an upper classman.

"See here, beast, what's your name?"

Magnus made answer, with what composure of face and voice he could call
up at such short notice.

"Where did you come from?" And again the reply came with fair coolness.

"Got so few men out there, they give 'em long names to stretch out and
cover the country. Who was your pred.?"

"Mr. Dunn, sir. He resigned, sir."

"Good example for you to follow in November," said Mr. Seaton, "but
you've got to be taken care of in the mean time. Wipe that smile off,
sir! What's your technical name?"

"Haven't got any, sir."

"Well, if anyone asks you that again, tell 'em it's Lorenzo Monkey,"
said Seaton, and walked away.

Magnus shook his fist at him (mentally), but what can a pleb do? And
so to the next inquirer he answered (pretty ungraciously, it must be
owned):

"Somebody said it was Lorenzo Monkey, sir."

"Can't have a monkey without a tail," said Mr. Danby. "Now remember,
beast, you are technically called: 'Lorenzo Monkey; and the name is not
fame.' Take your eyes off me, sir!"

Well, the tail grew--naturally; and every time the name was called for,
to amuse one man or a dozen, somebody would add on a word, and then
Magnus was bid to rattle the whole thing off, amid shouts of laughter.
He was required also to write out his technical name in full, and hand
the paper in under the guise of an official document: a half sheet of
paper duly folded, and inscribed as follows:

  Camp Hard,
  West Point, N. Y.,
  July --, 18--.

  Kindred, C,

  Cadet Private. Co. "A." 4th Class.

  Subscribed Copy of
  "Technical Name."

Within, it ran thus:

  Camp Hard,
  West Point, N. Y.,
  July --, 18--.

  To Cadet Lieut. Crabapple. (Through the proper channels.)

 _Sir_: I have the honour to submit the following,--my technical
 name for the summer encampment, U. S. M. A. To wit:

 I am Lorenzo Monkey; and the name is not fame. It is tame: it
 is lame: it is shame: it is blame: it is game. Yet I claim, a
 Colonial dame was my flame, when I came. Same at same.

  Very respectfully,
  Your obedient servant,
  Charlemagne Kindred,
  Cadet Private, Co. "A." Fourth Class.

  To Cadet Lieut. Crabapple,
  Commanding Battalion of Crabs.

Magnus chafed at all this stuff; growled over it, almost resisted; and
yet it was wise to pass things by as quietly as he could. All the same,
his feeling towards some of the upper classmen was getting to be a very
fixed fact, indeed.

Mr. Prank, for instance, was much given to hops,--also to prinking
for the same: and it was in his heart to combine all the good things
he could, and "crawling" plebs came in among the rest. So on hop
nights, after supper, when Mr. Prank was shaving, dressing, and vainly
endeavouring to curl his short hair, Magnus Kindred was frequently
detailed as valet. The work being to follow Mr. Prank about the tent
and fan him during these fatigues, and also to soothe and attune his
feelings by singing "Annie Laurie" or some other lovelorn ditty. How
Magnus did hate it!--and how he did secretly vow vengeance, if ever he
himself should have half a chance with Mr. Prank's best girl! But then!
Mr. Prank had a relay of "best girls," and could spare one or two just
as well as not.

On the other hand, the two men who "tented" with Magnus thought he had
an easy time.

"If you had to black Mr. Mean's shoes!" said Randolph.

"Or clear up after old Seaton," said Rig.

Rig's technical name taxed all his powers of memory and patience. It
began:

"I am the distilled quintessence of stuff, the double-dyed result of
being dipped in the Styx,"--and so on, _ad infinitum_, and to Rig,
certainly, _ad nauseam_.

Homesickness had broken loose in the fourth class, of late, and become
epidemic. These boys were but boys, and the manliest of them all
would--many a day--have given up his hopes of being a brigadier just
to lay his head down on his mother's apron, and have her pet him and
comfort him, and make him feel that he was not a "beast."

"But she'd not find any hair to stroke, now," said Magnus Kindred, in
one of these spasms. And then he caught hold of himself again, set his
teeth in his favourite fashion, and announced to himself that he meant
to be adjutant.

"And I'll not look like you, either," he went on, apostrophising Mr.
Larkin, who just then came strolling by between two admiring girls,
turning from one to the other with much the air of the exquisite who
said:

"Really, now, you know--won't somebody come and share me?"

The young adjutant's buttons were very bright, and his waist was very
small; and the red and white (brown) of his complexion left nothing
to be desired. If he had been a girl, you might have called his walk
"willowy," but I know not the masculine of that. And the barber had
plainly been open to persuasion in his case, and had left almost a
lovelock or two on the tall head.

Magnus Kindred watched the party go by, but they did not see him. In
one of the rocky, shady nooks on Flirtation, where the green leaves
rustle and the river whispers softly to the shore, there he had hidden
himself away with his sweet and bitter fancies. Hard, literal facts
they were just then, for Magnus.

The footsteps died away, and more came, quicker and brisker than the
first; and two cadets went by his hiding place. Then another with his
best girl (for the time being); and Magnus watched them all. As the
silence fell again a wood thrush in the shadows behind him rang its
liquid chime.

Then a tall cadet with chevrons, and the dainty air and manner which
had earned him the soubriquet of "Gentleman Joe," passed slowly by with
his mother on his arm; he bending down to her, and she looking up to
him, while a little white fidget of ten years old flitted about the two.

But when these were out of sight, then Magnus Kindred threw himself
face down among the moss and ferns, and gave no further heed to outside
things.

"Oh, mother!--and Cherry, and Violet, and Rose--and home!" It was very
bitter for a while. And when at last, in answer to a distant drum-call,
Magnus roused himself, and got on his feet, he knew that he hated that
drum, and all it betokened, just as hard as he could.

Gentler thoughts came, as he mounted the hill. The clear notes of
the thrushes were all around him, but in their grave sweetness there
were no faltering tones; and while it pierced the boy's heart it
strengthened it, too. Yes, one day _he_ would be the tall man with
chevrons, leading his mother along Flirtation; and she should be as
proud of him as Mrs. Gresham was of her son. And, instead of that child
in white, there would be--but here the drum became imperative, and
Magnus stowed away all the rest of his thoughts, and double-timed every
remaining step up to Camp Hard.



X

BAND CONCERT

   I cannot bear it any longer, said the pewter soldier as he sat on the
   drawers; it is so lonely and melancholy here.

   --HANS ANDERSEN.


It was the evening for band concert at the camp: a warm first of
August. A red glow lingered over Crownest, the stars came out slowly,
hazy with the heat; the katydids were publishing their arrival in the
usual contradictory way. As the twilight deepened, the camp began to
light up, and in front of the colour-line one especial burner shone
full upon the concert programme, which was posted on a stick. Beyond
this a small circle of lights marked the standing place of the band.

Cadets were everywhere--half in a tent, or half out; walking,
sauntering, standing, in twos and threes and half-dozens; some down on
the grass where the lights shone full, and some hid away in the shadows
towards Fort Clinton.

Other figures were coming up, too, and dresses of every hue flitted
across the plain. The dew lay sweet and fresh upon every grass-blade,
but then the grass was short, and nobody minded dew when going to band
concert.

Often some grey uniform was escorting some dainty lady: these
coming straight from the houses, and those others pausing, after a
delightful tryst at Trophy Point, or a saunter along the upper bends of
Flirtation. For, in those days, the concert night limits were--so far
as you could hear and distinguish the music.

The plebs kept together, and away from the gay throng; unless where
some especially happy boy had a cousin on hand. But a great event
had marked that day in Camp Hard; for the obnoxious "grey bags" had
disappeared, giving place to the full uniform, bell buttons and all
complete; and at last the plebs looked like cadets.

Magnus Kindred had been as jubilant as anyone over the change, and
nobody had given a heartier parting kick to the grey bag. But "a
competency is what a man has, and a little more"--and so, then, the
young man wanted someone to look at him. How his mother and sisters
would have stroked the sleeve of that wonderful dress coat, and admired
the buttons: how they would have studied out every turn of braid and
quirl of adornment. And Cherry--no, they were not her little hands
he seemed to feel on his arm: her hands were just folded in their
pretty way, and she stood a few steps off, laughing at the others,
and secretly admiring him. She never said so, but what innocent,
true-hearted girl can quite keep it out of her eyes, when her hero
stands before her? Or, if the eyes sometimes grew shy and turned away,
the lips laughed, and told it still.

"Bless her dear heart!" Magnus said, almost aloud, his own lips parting
in a smile at the sweet vision. But then they closed again firmer than
ever. Two thousand miles away (it seemed five thousand to Magnus), and
two whole years before he could go there. And a weary sigh measured off
both time and space, and found them endless.

"Joseph," whispered Mrs. Gresham to her son (they were just opposite
Magnus), "who is that boy?"

"Kindred--fourth class."

"He looks like a first-class fellow," said Mrs. Gresham, watching him,
as he suddenly moved off and joined the grey circle around the band.
"What a fine face he has! I noticed him yesterday before parade."

"Good fellow enough," assented Mr. Gresham, who was just then
"noticing" the arrival of Miss Saucy. "But he's so awfully homesick.
Blue as Cat's eyes."

"Well, you're not obliged to call me 'Cat,' sir, if you _are_ a
captain," said the little girl, trying hard to make a pinch tell
through the thick cadet cloth. "He's the one that was up among the
rocks, Aunt Effie. I told you, and you wouldn't look."

"Certainly not," said Mrs. Gresham. "Never try to see anybody who does
not wish to be seen, Catty."

Miss Catty pouted.

"I knew he was a cadet," she said, "for I saw the bell buttons. And I
thought cadets _always_ want to be looked at. They act so."

There was a burst of laughter from the group that had gathered round
Mrs. Gresham.

"Oh, what a pity she's not a little older!" cried Miss Flyaway. "Your
mainstay ought not to graduate for six years to come, Mrs. Gresham,
that Catty might be up to the situation. But then, we poor damsels
would have lost him. So it's best as it is. Things are generally best
as they are."

"Some few things might be improved," said Mrs. Gresham quietly.
"Joseph, I wish you would bring up Mr. Kindred, and introduce him."

"Now, ma'am?"

"Yes, now. We can spare you so long as that."

"Oh, with the greatest pleasure!" cried Miss Flirt, making a profound
courtesy; while Miss Flyaway called after him: "Don't hurry yourself,
we'll wait."

"Tell him you wouldn't go away for _anything_," said the irrepressible
Catty.

"You saucy monkey!" said Miss Flirt. "You ought to be in bed and
asleep."

"I don't believe you were, at my age," said Catty, with better logic
than she knew.

"Hush, Catty!" said her aunt. "Mr. Carr, who is that officer talking
with Mrs. Seaton?"

"The arch-fiend, _we_ call him," said Carr, with a laugh. "He's the
professor of confusion worse confounded, Mrs. Gresham. Do you want him
brought up, too?"

"Thank you, no: here comes Joseph. How do you do, Mr. Kindred?" And
Mrs. Gresham gave Magnus a warm clasp of the hand that went to his
heart.

"Come and sit here by me," she said, making room for Magnus. "I suppose
you enjoy these concerts very much?"

"Sometimes," Magnus answered her. "They make a change."

"Why don't you go to the hops, if you want a change?" said Catty,
leaning her elbows on her aunt's lap, and gazing up at the new
acquaintance. Magnus laughed in spite of himself.

"How do you know but I do?" he said.

"I never see you there when I go," said Catty.

"I'll tell you, child," said Miss Flirt, coming to the rescue. "Mr.
Kindred never goes to the hops in the hop room, because at this time of
year he has no end of hops outdoors."

Catty looked mystified.

"I'm not talking to you," she said, turning her back. "But I never met
you out walking either, Mr. Kindred. Don't you ever walk with anybody
but your best girl? I never do, when my special cadet's on guard."

Amid the little hubbub which this called forth, Mrs. Gresham rose up.

"If you will give me your arm, Mr. Kindred," she said, "I should like
to walk round the camp. The lights and shades show so differently from
different points; it is pleasant to watch them. I have been in Europe
for three years, and West Point is new to me. What is the band playing
now?"

"I'm not sure, ma'am. One of Moore's melodies comes next."

"How lovely the shadows are! I used to be quite a painter in my young
days," said Mrs. Gresham as they strolled along. "Is that one of your
studies?"

"Not this year, ma'am. Indeed we have no real studies 'in camp.'"

"But still many things that deserve the name: I understand. What do you
call the hardest thing you have to do?"

"Sometimes, 'study to be quiet,'" said Magnus, with a look and tone at
once so playful and so full of feeling that Mrs. Gresham opened her
heart, and took him right in.

"Ah, yes!" she said, "I can well believe it. And I am glad you have
Bible words at hand for your hard places."

"Do you care about them?" said Magnus quickly. "I thought nobody did,
here."

"About Bible words? Oh, yes they do!" said Mrs. Gresham, with her
gentle smile. "You do not know many people here yet, Mr. Kindred."

"And I am not likely to, very soon," said Magnus. "But I spoke too
quick. Yes, I know there are some right here in the Corps who care.
There's Mr. Upright of the first class. I do not believe he ever misses
a chance of doing the out-and-out thing for a Christian to do. And Mr.
True of the third, he's another. Oh, there are a lot among us that know
enough--if we only hold out," he added soberly.

Mrs. Gresham had listened for her son's name, but it did not come. He,
too, "knew enough," but alas! only that very morning when he came in
from drill, Magnus had heard him curse his horse, and the instructor,
and the whole concern, in terms that would have wrung the gentle
mother's heart. The girls did not know, as they hung upon his arm; the
officers did not guess, seeing only the straight military figure and
good face: only God knew, and the fellow-students to whom Gresham was
setting his example. The mother felt the omission, sighed, waited, and
sighed again; then silently locked up her fears and her disappointment.

"But you _must_ hold out, Mr. Kindred," she said. "If you are a
professing Christian, you have sworn it."

"Yes, ma'am," Magnus answered soberly, "and I mean it, too. But there
are harder times here than you can guess."

"It is the pinch that shows what a man is," said Mrs. Gresham. "If you
must run, run before the firing begins."

Magnus laughed.

"I'll remember," he said.

"But remember, too," said Mrs. Gresham, "that here as everywhere else:
on the Hill Difficulty of West Point, no less than among the Delectable
Mountains at home, you are to be a witness for Christ."

"Yes, ma'am--you would think so," said Magnus excitedly, "and so mother
thinks. But how are you going to do anything _here_? Religion don't
count, in this old camp."

"Religion may come in and stay, even where she is not fêted and
caressed," said Mrs. Gresham.

"That is true enough," said the boy, colouring. "All the same, you
can't guess, as I said, what a hard time she has. And now guard duty
begins; and it'll be drill and walk post, walk post and drill, night
and day. Your shoulders poked in, and your feet kicked out. Skinned if
you don't skin somebody else, and nearly skinned actually if you do.
Told forty things a day that you don't understand, and then given extra
tours _because_ you don't. That's what they say. Why, there are six
hundred and sixty-eight separate regulations that we are supposed to
keep!"

"Six hundred and sixty-eight!" said Mrs. Gresham. "Well, it must take a
very lively imagination to 'suppose' that three hundred boys will keep
six hundred and sixty-eight regulations."

"They know we can't do it," said Magnus hotly. "But we're bid to, all
the same. And they punish us if we don't."

"Good-evening, Mrs. Gresham," said another voice, and Cadet Main (alias
Mean) came up and shook hands. "What work of charity have you in tow
now?"

"Mr. Kindred has been telling me about the many regulations," said Mrs.
Gresham.

"Oh, regulations!" said Main. "Yes, there's quite a little many of 'em.
Keeps a fellow busy to break 'em all; but some of us max it, every
time."

"Break them? You mean 'keep them,'" said Mrs. Gresham.

"No I don't--not I!" said Main, laughing. "You'd better believe I
don't. Why, the only fun I have in life is breaking regulations."

"Breaking them?" repeated Mrs. Gresham, looking bewildered. "But you
will get yourself into trouble, so, Mr. Main."

"Will, shall, have, and expect to," said Main. "I'm bound to get some
fun out of this old prison."

"Suppose the walls open, rather suddenly, and let you out."

"Make my best bow, and go. It'll be a great loss to the service. But
you should talk to Lorenzo here, Mrs. Gresham; he's played good boy
ever since he came. Regular pet of the Com.'s, he is. Why, he won't
even help carry off Sammy from the Mess Hall."

"And pray how comes 'Sammy,' as you call him, to need carrying off?"
demanded Mrs. Gresham severely. But that brought such a chorus of
laughter from the whole group of cadets (several more had gathered
round), that Mrs. Gresham let her question drop.

"We'll run it up to the hotel some day, and present him, Mrs. Gresham,"
said Main.

"If you 'run it'--to anywhere I am, I'll not see you," said the lady.

"Why, you _can't_ keep all the regulations," said Devlin. "Not if you
did your level best. You just _have_ to break them."

"Then what is it all for--this Blue Book you tell of?"

"Light reading for the Academic Board," suggested Mr. Sharpless.

"Skinning made easy," said Main. "Every new Tac makes a new rule and
tacks it on. They'll bring it up to a thousand presently."

They had made the circuit of the camp, and now came round once more to
the open space before the lights, with its shadowy border where the
motley groups paused, moved on, went in and out. The camp points of
flame flickered, and peered into the dusk; contesting now with a nobler
light their right of search. For in the east the moon was rising;
lifting her fair face above the hilltops, and pouring a flood of summer
glory over river and plain.

"Just so she will be rising at home," Magnus thought. "With the girls
all sitting on the steps, and mother in her rocking chair in the porch."

It is well for the homesick cadet that his surroundings are so fine,
beguiling him with their beauty; but it is also a good thing that he
never can do much "mooning" at once. Before Magnus had got to the
middle of his third sigh came the sharp voice of the drum, calling him
to order. And yet "sharp" is hardly the word; only neglected duty takes
on that tone, but the drum-call was brisk, imperative, unmistakable.
Yet fine, as well, and stirring; as duty attended to always is.

It was pretty to see the grey and white figures coming out from the
dusky shadows among the trees, and crossing to the tents. Some at a
quick run, others slowly, as under protest: here and there one very
lingeringly, with many a backward look and farewell word, to some
white-robed vision that shewed angelic in the uncertain light.

Meanwhile, the racket of drum and fife filled all the air, rattling up
and down the company streets. The crowd scattered, the band tramped
off; and still here and there a tardy cadet came hurrying in, but only
in time to get a cold "late" or "absence."

"Oh, it _is_ such fun to make them run!" said one fair creature
delightedly. "I just kept Mr. Dunkirk fooling along after the first
drum; and there he goes, for all he is worth."

"Too late?" queried a quiet lady in a dark dress.

"Not too late to get to bed," said Miss Saucy. "They won't make him
walk post to-night, poor boy. But he'll be on the black list to-morrow."

"Then you won't have him to walk with on Saturday," said another girl.

"Have somebody else, _ma chère_. One gets tired of the same man too
often. If I didn't trip him up now and then I should die of a surfeit
of honey, and never have a chance at treacle and lumps of sugar."

"But do you mean to say," said the lady in black, "do you really mean
to say that you get these young men into difficulty _wilfully_? That
_you_ are responsible for their being late?"

"Well, I do everything wilfully," said the girl--"and I am never
responsible for anything. So I don't know how you'll fix it."

"I shall tell the Commandant to-morrow!" said the lady excitedly.

"No good." said the girl. "He can't skin me--and he _will_ skin him.
It don't hurt much: _he_ don't care. Says he don't."

"He ought to care!"

"Very likely he ought," said Miss Saucy. "Oh, he's not absolute
perfection--won't be canonised till he's dead, I dare say."



XI

ON GUARD

    Twelve small strokes on the tinkling bell;
    Midnight comes, and all is well!

    --_Culprit Fay._


Yes, with the new uniform came also new work, as Magnus had been
warned. Guard duty put in its claim, and the plebs were promoted to
walk post, and to learn what upper classmen could do to make that duty
unpleasant. "Jumping plebs" went on with variations. "Crawling" seems
to be the favourite word now, but probably the thing itself is not much
slower than it was of yore.

The first night on guard was a never-to-be-forgotten thing to Magnus
Kindred.

It was a quiet night enough, so far as disturbances went, for this
time the tide of mischief seemed to set in some other direction. But
that only left the power of the night itself unchecked. So still, so
solemn, so sweet, and yet with such a bitter flavour. Strange beyond
description, and beautiful past all telling.

Charlemagne had gone on with the second relief, tattoo had beat, and
taps had said its closing word; and now all private lights were out.
The day had been hot, but the night came down dewy and cool; and the
full summer moon was slowly flooding the world with glory, and lining
out everything in clear black and white.

Every tent wall was raised to let in the air. The prostrate men on the
floors were as still as the white canvas above their heads. Sleeping
off drills and difficulties here, and there plotting and planning; or
perhaps gazing out into the night with wide-open, homesick eyes.

A faint breath stirred the trees around Camp Hard; from across the
plain one could just catch the sound of slow footsteps, where the
enlisted sentry paced up and down the Officers' Row. Far below, on the
river, boats went and came: a sloop, dreaming noiselessly along on the
incoming tide; or two steamers, signalling before they met. You could
hear the dash of the swell upon the shore, and the panting breath of
the fierce little tugs, with the more stately beat of the paddles of a
side-wheeler. Over all, the moon rode high and clear.

And, for this night, the Western pleb was unmolested. Not a stray ghost
crossed his beat. Up and down, up and down, in company with his shadow,
the slow, measured step leaving his thoughts free: and they had all
gone home. And so it was, that by degrees Magnus Kindred fell into one
of his desperate fits of lonely homesickness, ready to fire off his
musket, or do any lawless thing, if only so he might be arrested and
dismissed to freedom, mother, and the girls. And on post you cannot
throw your arms into the air and yourself down on the ground; not get
even the smallest bit of any such slight relief.

As Magnus turned on his beat, pacing now towards the western hills, the
exceeding beauty of the bit of star-spangled sky to the north was full
in view. The Great Bear and his associates held on their shining way,
despite the moon, calm, high, lifted above all of earth's tears and
turmoils. What was that his mother used to sing?

    "Ye stars are but the shining dust
      Of my divine abode;
    The pavement of those heavenly courts
      Where I shall see my God."

Magnus remembered with another of his sharp twinges.

"All right for her!" he thought, pacing back again to meet the moon,
"all right for them all! But the folks that tread those pavements have
gotten the victory."

"I do not think, myself," Cadet Kindred went on candidly, eyeing the
stars once more, "that I am fighting for it hard enough to hurt, just
at present. 'Gotten the victory,'" he repeated to himself, "won it, and
kept it."

The dear folks at home might not even be thinking of him, just then;
they were doubtless all peacefully asleep, each having laid down her
heart's desire at the feet of Him "that keepeth Israel," so leaving the
far-off young sentinel in His tender care. But Magnus knew, almost as
if he had heard them, the prayers sent up for him that night.

A sharp, resonant cry brought him suddenly back to Camp Hard and duty.
From the post in front of the camp the sentinel gave the hour.

"Number One! Half-past ten o'clock and all's--well!"

Then it came to Magnus.

Now the guard had been admonished, that very day, not to mumble the
words, but to give each its full value, clear and strong. But this
first man was sleepy, or lazy, and gave small heed to the order. His
"All's well!" was loud enough, but seemed rather a matter of hope than
of certainty.

I am not sure that Magnus even supposed that he himself was working out
the spirit of the order, but he was homesick and disheartened, as well
as ignorant of military affairs; and with that a little bit reckless,
and ready to do anything for a change. What did it matter, anyhow? And
so, as it came to his turn, he shouted forth the call at the top of his
voice, and to the closing notes of the retreat bugle call at parade.

[Music: Num-ber two: Half-past ten o'-clock, and all is ... well!]

And half the camp heard it.

Of course there was a stir, and Magnus was reported for "calling the
hour in an improper manner." But he went scot-free, after all, by
reason, doubtless, of his short acquaintance with guard duty.



XII

_OFF_ GUARD

    Are you shining for Jesus loyally,
      Shining just anywhere;
    Not only in easy places,
      Not only just here and there?

    --F. R. HAVERGAL.

In such fashion days and weeks rolled by; as time-wheels will, over
the roughest ground, and through the most uninteresting country. For
without doubt, drills can become monotonous; and if the body yielded
itself more and more easily to regulations, as the time went on, so did
not always the mind.

At first, in the strangeness of everything, details went for less, but
now that he no longer wore the grey bag, to have his toes still kicked
out set his blood tingling. He was so well made by nature, that "this
extra regulation ramrod style," as he spitefully termed it, seemed like
persecution. For some of the drill masters by no means slackened their
demands as the need of them grew less.

"Get your shoulders back, Mr. Kindred!"

"_Get_ them back, sir!"

"_Get_ them _back_!"

"He had better take a sledge hammer and pound them in," Magnus declared
one day.

"You'll be pounded for disrespect," Rig warned him.

"All right; it's a true bill. I don't respect that man, and I never
shall."

"But officers, you know," suggested Rig.

"Oh, officers!" said Magnus loftily. "What business has he to be an
officer, with the manners of a boot-black?"

However, as I said, time did wear on; with parades, drills, gymnastics,
and the rest of it. And in the intervals, when upper classmen walked
with the pretty girls, and went to teas and picnics, the plebs drew
together and eyed them from a distance, making many comments, uttering
many groans; but, most of all, knitting up firm and strong the class
bond which no after-years could break.

This class bond is a most natural thing among boys who have faced
hardships side by side; and in a way, it is very fine; but it has its
danger, too.

The stand taken by each one in the class for and with each other one,
in those first hard weeks when they feel as if every man's hand was
against them all, sometimes passes into a "Stand by the class!" which
cramps the influence, and hinders the action of many an individual man.
"The class, right or wrong!" is never a safe motto.

One other little event in camp life that summer may be told over here,
for its after-effect upon Magnus Kindred.

There were two or three men in the pleb class who, by reason of a
certain offhand brightness of thought and tongue, had more influence
with the rest than they deserved, for either their principles or their
brains. Men able to put the wrong thing into such brilliant words,
that the real meaning was lost sight of in the fun and the glitter.
And so, in the scarcity of amusements, Magnus fell into the habit of
lingering where they stood; listening to their sayings, laughing at
their sallies, and, to a certain degree, following their lead. And, as
often happens, the light words, the smart speeches which were not true,
won their way. He began to hearken more readily, and more easily lent
himself to plans and projects he might better have let alone; getting
into the swirl of a current not likely to land him on any good and
fruitful shore.

And then, as birds of a feather are apt to find each other out, some
men of like tendencies in the first class made common cause, in a way;
finding an admiring look of any sort quite pleasant, and a pleb a
convenient catspaw, now and then. They made the musical ones come in
for a chorus; and under such innocent cover matured their plans, and
told their stories, to nobody's good.

If one of these wits set forth the fact that "Muffti" was sure to
lead the prayer-meeting that night, Magnus would perhaps stay in his
tent, or wander off beyond sound of the hymns, which always pricked
his conscience and his heart as well. Or if some smart man made fun of
the preacher who was to fill the chaplain's place during the summer
vacation, Magnus was careful the next Sunday to practise himself in the
fine art of sitting bolt upright when fast asleep. He grew to be an
expert at smuggling in "boodle": he took the loan of books he had much
better have let alone.

"Come round to my tent after dinner, Mr. Kindred," said Cadet Upright
one day; and of course Magnus went; then stood attention in the
straightest sort of way; very much wondering for what unknown breach of
rules he was to be called to account by the first Captain.

So he stood up to all his inches, just within the tent door, while
Cadet Captain Upright sat on a camp stool facing him; a stray sunbeam
working its way in to touch the chevrons, and lighting up the honest,
sunburnt face. Mr. Upright was no beauty, but not a man in the Corps
was more thoroughly respected than he. "Not much to look at," said Sam
Weller of his hat, "but it's an astonishin' 'un to wear!"

"Mr. Kindred," began Upright, "I asked you to come, because I wanted to
talk to you."

He paused, and Magnus responded, "Yes, sir."

"You are in danger," Upright went on. "You are taking risks no wise man
will shoulder."

"What have I done, sir?" Magnus demanded, stiffening slightly.

"Nothing special, to my knowledge," said the first captain, "But I see
you in slippery places, where sooner or later a man must go down. And
the mud often sticks for a good while to come, even after--and even
if--he picks himself up and gets away."

"I don't see, sir," Magnus began--"what risks are you talking of, Mr.
Upright?"

"The risk of being false to yourself, and to your Christian pledge
and name; the risk of (practically) forgetting your mother and your
mother's words."

But now Magnus burst forth.

"Forgetting my mother!" he said. Then checking himself:

"Oh, well, sir, that proves you never saw her, Mr. Upright."

Upright laughed, and his eyes shone.

"Good for you!" he said heartily. "But, Mr. Kindred, you are training
with the wrong crowd."

And now Magnus coloured, and his eyes went down. Upright watched him
for a moment in silence; then he took up a slip of paper, and held it
out.

"Here is a reminding text I wrote off for you," he said. "Take it with
you up and down the post. 'He setteth a print on the heels of my feet.'
That will do, sir," and Magnus saluted, and whirled away.

"Might be the Com. himself, for the style he talks!" he grumbled, under
his breath. But all the same, the words sank in. They were too true to
miss a hearing, on the one side, and had been too kindly spoken to
lose it, on the other. Yes, he was training with the wrong crowd, there
was no doubt of that.

Magnus winced under the confession. There was no one he so little liked
to find fault with as himself, and to court-martial Cadet Kindred, on
his own knowledge and belief, was extremely unpleasant.

But the finding of the Court is rarely severe in such cases; and Magnus
presently let himself off with a few admonitions to be more careful. He
went to prayer-meeting regularly, boned discipline a little, and kept
away from that crowd (what he called) "all he could."

Then they broke camp, and marched into barracks, and that was a help,
for work began at a rate that left scant time for lawless play. Magnus
Kindred had studied before, studied hard, but never with the exactness
of drill and discipline and pressure that now filled every day.
Breakfast, recitation, study, dinner, study, recitation, drill; then
dress parade, supper, and study. Some of the plebs resigned and went
home, others talked gloomily of being "found" in January; before which
wintry fear homesickness itself gave way. And again others drew the
buckles of their armour tight, looked well to their stirrups, and went
at the difficulties, lance in rest.

[Illustration: THE BARRACKS IN WINTER]



XIII

A BLUE CHRISTMAS

    No age, no race, no single soul,
    By lofty tumbling wins the goal.
    The steady pace it keeps between;
    The little points it makes unseen;
    By these, achieved in gathering might,
    It moveth on, and out of sight:
    And wins, through all that's overpast,
    The city of its hopes at last.

    --MRS. WHITNEY.


Of these true knights Charlemagne Kindred was one. Lessons, problems,
questions, went down before his fierce assault. He had never enjoyed
being headed off in what he chose to do; and had pledged it to himself
that if ever anything did that kind office for him, it should not be
West Point.

"_You_ stop me?" he would say to some particularly obnoxious book.
"_You_ get in my way?" and probably the hard-headed volume would then
and there find itself pitched to the furthest corner of the room. But
after that little expression of opinion, Magnus would pick the book up,
and bone with all his might. Smith's "Conic Sections" got quite used to
such short excursions, and Ketel's "French Grammar" grew old before its
time.

Rig's method was different.

"Kin, I'm growing grey," he said plaintively one morning.

"Grey as a goose."

"No, but really," said Rig, laying down the book. "This thing's too
hard, you know. Breaks a man all up."

"You'd best stick yourself together again before two o'clock," said
Magnus.

"No good," said Rig, taking up another study volume from the heap.
"I'll try this a while. Nobody ought to be expected to learn such
stuff."

"Put that book down!" Magnus thundered at him, from his own corner.

"Oh, I can put it down easy enough," Rig said rather sulkily. "But I
can't see what business it is of yours."

"Now fold your hands, and spell zero ten times backwards," said Magnus,
"and then take your Davies, and go to work. Unless you want to fess
solid for the rest of your life."

"Well--Say, Kin,--what a good fellow Mr. Upright is."

"Mr. Upright's a cold max. Mind your business."

Pushing and pulling did a good deal for Rig that winter. There was a
little stir about the holidays, when the happy upper classmen who had
won their Christmas leave went off for unlimited bliss in a limited
time, and those who had lost it abused "luck." And there was also the
mild interest of a better dinner than usual. But to the plebs, for whom
no getting away was possible, and to whom no Point festivities were
open, that first Christmas was a thing to live through as best they
might. I think some of them despised even the dinner, with the flavour
of their mother's cookery yet lingering and fresh.

How hard it was! "The most miserable day they ever spent," as many a
one has said since. And the letters and home trifles that arrived in
the mail-bag were not much help in the line of bracing up. Magnus put
Cherry's bookmark in his Bible, and his mother's picture up his sleeve;
while the toilet cushion and cover on which the two girls had bestowed
so many loving looks, as they wrought out the pretty devices, were hid
away in his clothes bag; no such decorations being allowed in barracks.

Then he wrote letters to them all, then he tried to study, but who can
study on a legal holiday?

So at last Cadet Kindred donned his grey fearnaught, wandered
down among the rocks and snow-drifts on Flirtation, and listened
to the grinding of the ice cakes in the dark river. The sky, blue
with an unearthly far-away depth of colour, was pushed back by the
whitened hills: all nature seemed locked up and unapproachable and
unsympathising.

    "Those fair blue heavens so distant are,
    Their very clearness seems to say
          How far, how far!
    They lie above man's stormy way."

And Magnus Kindred felt as desperately lonesome as he thought it was in
the power of man to be.

There were no loiterers now under the "Kissing Rock"; no echoing steps
within "First-class Cave"; all the old seats and trysting places were
snow capped and silent. Even the broad folds of the Post flag would
have been some company, a little cheer to his sad eyes as he once more
came out upon the plain. But the Post flag was safely folded away;
and only a wee, wintry looking storm flag, whipped out in many a past
gale, was abroad to brave the keen-edged airs that stirred round Trophy
Point. Could anything exceed the dreariness and length of that wretched
Christmas Day?

Then such cake for tea--though I doubt if Purcell's best would have
suited Magnus that night. He was glad when the drummers began their
noisy tattoo, that he might unroll his mattress, go to bed, and forget
his misery.

New Year's Day was not quite so bad, perhaps because the coming
examination lent at least a dash of red pepper to the monotony, and the
first evening of the new year was full of study and talk, questions,
fears, and surmisings. Blue letters home went off in troops, and many
a man arranged definitely just what he would do after he was "found,"
of which last fact he felt sure. With the great hop that graced this
week, or the gay damsels who graced the hop, the fourth class had
nothing to do.

It was natural enough that the strain and fatigue of the examination
should be followed by a certain dislike for work at all. The men who
were "found" had vanished; the men who had gone up a section were
quietly in place, while others had as quietly joined "the Immortals,"
a better name than its popular substitute. And from now on until June,
things would remain pretty much as they were.

No wonder, then, if the reaction set in strong. Snow blocked the
favourite cadet walks; permits for skating were cut. No parades, no
stirring drills, except in the riding-hall, and the plebs had no good
of them.

Then there were stormy days when even the officers' row was gloomy, and
things grew very tame indeed. The bent bows ached to spring back, and
the pent-up steam was ready to blow off in any direction; for mischief
at least makes a change, and to break regulations and not be found out,
gave life a certain flavour. It was a pity, but not at all strange.

And so, in some parts of the barracks, license, not liberty, was the
popular word. The great point of interest by day and by night being how
to defy the blue book, and not get caught.

The leaders were bright men, some of them; personable, pleasant to talk
to, fair mathematicians, and capital cooks over the gas-light. Several
had friends who sent them money, sweets, mince pies, and tobacco: all
smuggled in by unscrupulous outside hands. And these dainties were
freely dispensed by the happy owners.

As to the rest, they were light fingered enough for pick-pockets, and
could abstract and convey to barracks anything--except "Sammy"--from
the mess-hall table; and I have even been told that this one exception
lost its place that year.

But so far, you could charge things pretty fairly upon fun, and the
delightful exercise of skill. If, as was alleged, they carried off two
pounds of sugar for every lemon they got hold of, still, one must do
something; and as they said, "the sugar was all paid for out of their
own allowance."

A much graver thing--perhaps the worst in the whole business--was the
bribing enlisted men. Some free lances, indeed, were much too fond of
"chancing" it, to do their frisky deeds by proxy. They fetched for
themselves what they wanted, with a daring of which I may not tell.
But others would get the sentry at the gate to pass things in; or a
bandsman to bring all sorts of contraband goods from the Falls. Other
people helped, but a mess-hall waiter could only lose his place and run
away, while the sentinels were in trust.

Now Magnus Kindred had not been so brought up, and the sight and
hearing of certain things at first made him indignant. But they looked
lighter coloured the fifteenth time than the first. The memory of Mr.
Upright's words also faded out, and when springtime came, and days grew
long and nights were bright, he had fallen back into much the old way,
and was training with (or training) the wrong crowd. And he was so
agile and wary that he never got caught, which was perhaps his loss.

"I don't see how you work it, Kin," Rig complained one day. "You do
everything you have a mind to, and yet even Towser will swear you in
for sweet cream every time. But as for me, if both my shoe toes aren't
blacked exactly alike, I'm skinned to a certainty."

I am not sure that Magnus relished the compliment,--one has a choice
about praise,--but he made no answer, and did not change his too
successful ways.

And thus that pleb winter did much work for him in more lines than one.
For you cannot keep hard at hard studies, as he did, without a swift
and increasing rate of progress; the Hill Difficulty of West Point, as
Mrs. Gresham had called it, yielded better and better footing, week by
week. But alas, it is also true that you cannot constantly fling even
small stones at the law, without that fine pillar of strength's being
chipped and frayed, and in a sort defaced. Magnus Kindred did not call
his doings by any such dignified name, but all the same, freedom and
lawlessness were getting very much mixed in his mind. While the right
of the authorities to command, and his own right to disobey, were in a
worse tangle still. The wise, dignified, and wholesome rule of "Honour
to whom honour, fear to whom fear," was much dethroned in those days.

So the course of the days and the drift of the ways went on. Winter
slid early into spring. Company drills began, and the full tide of
everything set in, especially walks. Bright parasols appeared on the
sidewalk, and the old seat at Gee's Point once more received its guests.

A general stir of preparation was in the air; grass was dressed,
branches trimmed, and rubbish burned. Cleaning house was on hand, and
dressmakers; and always drills, drills, drills. To the Post in general,
these signs meant the coming of the Board of Visitors, and all the
whirl of examination week: but to the cadets, chiefly June.

All that spring, in spite of much work, Magnus Kindred wrote home very
regularly; long, amusing letters. Telling less of his inner life than
the hearts at home would have liked; but the strangeness of what he
said of the outer partly covered this up. And I doubt whether Magnus
knew how little he told.

Of one thing, however, he was dimly conscious. At first, his mother's
expressions of trust and hope, given in Bible words or her own, had
been a comfort and help to him; they seemed to bring her nearer and to
make him stronger. But of late he had been often inclined to slur over
those parts of her letters, and to hurry on "to get the news first"--as
he put it to himself. He never stopped to ask why; and it was again Mr.
Upright who opened his eyes, and showed him how quietly they had been
closing and falling asleep.

There are tears as well as smiles, on that fateful day in June. Here is
a mother, who, having had her son within easy reach for the last four
years, knows that now, after the short graduation leave, he will be
whirled away beyond her ken. To Barrancas, it may be, or Huachuca, or
Indian Territory. So the mother breaks down and cries visibly.

And here are roommates, who have stood shoulder to shoulder in all
sorts of hardships, now henceforth, until, they are grey-haired men,
to live as far apart as this broad country can put them; and it is a
sobering thought.

Then, this pretty, timid girl, who has ventured her heart on the
insecure ground of cadet soft speeches; or thought out her wedding
dress after one particular walk around Flirtation; or tried the class
ring on one of her own slender fingers, without being asked to keep it
there.

"Oh, it is too dreadful!" she cries, stamping her little foot, and with
the tears all ready, when that heartless band fall off into "The Girl I
Left Behind Me." "I can _not_ see what they find in that old tune."

It goes hard with her, sometimes, poor child, in matter of health.

And sometimes a like hope is laid down with the grey, and the
blue must seek another charmer; and earth is--henceforth and
comparatively--a desert. All sorts of things happen at graduation; and
when you hear an eager, "You will be sure to come back in August," it
does not follow that he will, or that she will wait for him if he does.

But there was no shallow sentiment about Mr. Upright. On the day of his
graduation, the young first captain, having put off his cadet honours
and come out in plain "cits," went down to the mess-hall dinner to look
round the old place once more, and to speak farewell words to his own
company and the Corps. Magnus Kindred caught his eye and smile, and
started a yell for Mr. Upright, which quite cut short that young man's
power to say much; but every word had the resonance of true metal.

"'Quit you like men! be strong.' 'Strong in the Lord, and in the power
of his might,'" he said; vainly trying to shake all the hands held out
to him. But if the tones faltered, the meaning was full strung, and
Magnus once more opened his eyes, and looked at himself and his doings.
And the more he looked, the less he liked it.

It was a good day for feeling blue. The sudden quiet, the cut-down
numbers; envy of the furlough men, and to a degree, of the graduates,
made men restless and dull. No drill, no parade, and not even "a plank"
left of the Board of Visitors. Not even many girls to look at; for half
the Post, and three-tenths of the visitors, had sailed away with the
gay throng on the down boat, and candidates swarmed everywhere.

Magnus Kindred strolled off by himself to the river edge, sat down and
looked himself over.

"Absolutely getting used to things!" he confided to his favourite oaks
and cedars. And then he began to see what was the character of those
things. Of course, a boy could not grow up anywhere, alas! in this
poor world, and not now and then hear men swear; but oaths from his
_comrades_ had at first shocked him exceedingly. There was one man, for
instance, who for a low mark in the section room, a bad ride, a rainy
Saturday, would have his mouth so full of cursing that it seemed hard
to get it all out. He lived near Magnus; and many a time had the boy
secretly stopped his ears to shut out the terrible words. Rig said the
air was "blue" with them.

But quick and keen it came to Magnus now, that he had long ceased to
take any such precautions. Ah! only last night, after the reading of
the black list, he had wondered idly to himself, whether Carr would
find something new to say.

Some hot, unwonted tears sprang up at that, with some very pricking
thoughts of the four pure hearts at home keeping watch for him. And the
thoughts grew and piled up, and sharpened their edges.

I should have said that when the new cadet officers were read out on
Graduation Day, Magnus found himself promoted to the rank of corporal.
Soon after this the Corps went into camp.



XIV

CAMP GOLIGHTLY

    As 'twixt the silences, now far, now nigh,
    Rings the sharp challenge, hums the low reply.

    --_Biglow Papers._


Yearling Camp was wonderfully unlike the dreary pleb camp of a year
ago. The special hazers, drill masters, and tormentors of last year
were gone away on furlough, or gone for good, and there was a new first
class to take the lead. And if everyone was sorry to lose Mr. Upright,
"many a dry eye followed" Mr. Devlin and Mr. Prank.

Now the yearlings threw off their reserve, came out of hiding, and were
introduced to the ladies. Some wore chevrons, some were drill masters,
some frequented the hops, and almost all of them learned to play the
cavalier and to win fair companions for walks before breakfast and
after drill; for band practice, for band concert, and the delightful
wanderings on O. G. P. The long winter months of work were in the dim
distance, the next big milestone was marked furlough, and at hand were
summer and the summer girl. Sisters came, and cousins; introductions
were many, flirtations not a few.

"It's the most delicious place!" cried Nina Dangleum one day. "You are
always falling in love, and it never comes to anything."

It was not to be supposed that amid such breezes Magnus Kindred could
keep himself unfanned. To give him his due, he had no particular taste
for flirting, and did not often mean it; he was too earnest a fellow to
like half-way measures, or to go into anything only skin-deep. And I
think his own blessed cluster of womankind at home had set the standard
too high for him to enjoy drawing a girl on to be silly, even if it
was amusing to see. He had also not much taste for talking unmitigated
stuff, or much knack at doing it, and at this time of his existence
would have nearly endorsed Mr. Weller's words:

"Wot's the use o' calling a young 'ooman a Wenus? Just as well call her
a griffin, or a king's arms."

But the gales that stirred about West Point just then were very
perfume-laden; and almost any woman might seem like an angel, when you
first come out of the double shadow of pleb year and barracks, where
tactical officers were your chief glimpses of the outside world.

The soft, "Mr. Kindred, I saw you coming clear across the plain,"
smoothed down very pleasantly the plumage which had been so roughly
stroked the wrong way. The "Tac" might have reported those very bell
buttons that very day as in need of rubbing up; but if Miss Flyaway
could see them as soon as the man left camp, you perceive it took off
the effect.

In matters of discipline, however, and of military precision Magnus
was, on the whole, a careful fellow (Rig spelled it "lucky"), and so
when other men had their freedom tied up, he was often detailed to walk
with the friend or the cousin and give her "a good time." Thus he came
in for rather more than his share of sweets.

It was charming to wander almost anywhere in those fair days, and well
nigh as good to lie in the shadow of the trees about Fort Clinton, with
a book or without. The "without" was Rig's style.

"Kin--I'm no end comfortable!" he declared one day, lying back on the
green with his arms above his head.

"Same at same," responded Magnus, from behind his home newspaper. Rig
suddenly sat up.

"Say, Kin, I want to go to artillery drill to-morrow night as chief of
caissons."

"All right. If you're detailed for guard, shall I take the girl?"

"Steady!"

But after all, so it fell out; and when the Band concert began, Magnus
escorted Miss Dangleum through the shadows to where the light battery
guns stood ready, helped her to mount a caisson, and was in close
attendance till the drum beat. One of these old caissons was quite a
favourite "box" with the girls.

"Beastly!" Rig declared it all, when he came off guard next day.

"I saw him having the spooniest sort of a time," said Randolph
maliciously. "Chappy and the Kitten were on the next gun. I say, I'm
tired walking post. I'm going to bone colours."

"Go in and win," Magnus admonished him.

"Well, you'll see," said Randolph. And to be sure, such a polishing of
buttons, and rubbing up of arms, as followed were unknown before in
Randolph's tent. Magnus declared that the buttons made him wink clear
across A Company Street.

Just at the last possible moment before the critical guard-mounting,
Randolph rushed in upon his two friends.

"Say, boys, lend me a pair of white trousers. I can't find any of mine
that are fit to go with my buttons."

"Well, I've only one pair fit to go with mine," said Magnus. "Sorry!
but they'd be too long for you."

"Rig's will do," said Randolph, making a dash at the pile of trousers.
"Thanks awfully. My, how they shine!"

[Illustration: THE COLOR GUARD]

Well, they certainly did. Spotless, unwrinkled, as if they, too, had
been "boning" colours. Randolph marched out on higher heels than
those prescribed in the regulations, and later on presented himself
fearlessly as a candidate for honours. And the inspecting officer's
face seemed to say he had reason; Randolph could see approval in every
look and gesture. Gloves, buttons, gun were scrutinised; the trousers
were dazzling and smooth. Then the officer passed round for a back
view. Hair right length, collar right height above the grey, belt and
buttons adjusted to a nicety.

"Mr. Randolph," said the cadet adjutant, as he came round in front, "I
would have given you colours but for those trousers."

And when Randolph got in and scrutinised himself he found that the
borrowed trousers were deeply frayed at the ankle! After which the
young man professed himself blue and bored.

"Just my luck," he said. "But I'll get even with him, see if I don't.
They were only fringed behind."

Two or three days after this, Randolph accosted Magnus.

"Say, Kin, want some fun? Like to see Coxy scared within an inch of his
life?"

"No sort of objection on my part; rather B. J. in you to propose it."

"It's more than propose," said Randolph. "Just you hang round my tent
about nine o'clock."

Then after supper Randolph took his stand at the foot of A Company
Street, where the plebs were busily going back and forth between the
hydrant and the tents.

"Mr. Johnson!" he said, hailing a D Company pleb, but keeping his voice
well down.

"Yes, sir."

The pleb slackened his pace a little, but did not look round, and
Randolph stood glancing carelessly about, as if thinking of nothing in
particular.

"When you have carried in that pail come at once to the darkened tent
at the head of the street."

"Yes, sir."

"What is your name, sir?" to another.

"Mr. Ummerstot, sir."

"Mr. Upstart! I would like to know, Mr. Upstart, if you have no
superior whose pail needs tilling as well as your own? Go home at once,
and then report at my tent. The one with no light in it."

"Yes, sir."

When six more were under orders, Randolph strolled back to the front
of his tent, and as fast as the plebs came up, he passed them in. They
might stand at ease, but must not talk above a whisper. When they were
all in hiding, Randolph spoke through the closed door of the tent.

"Mr. Johnson!" in a low undertone.

"Yes, sir."

"Your special technical name for this evening is _Hippotherium_. Do you
hive it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Mr. Upstart! Your special name till tattoo is _Semnopithereus_."

"Mr. Parboil!"

"Mr. Carboil, sir," said the poor pleb, with a mild preference for his
own name.

"I said _Parboil_. Your name will be _Cereopithereus_. Mr.
Cereopithereus, you are first cousin to Mr. Semnopithereus, and
according to Darwin, you each bear the same relation to a man that a
pleb does to his superiors."

So the eight names were given, and then Randolph began again:

"Mr. Ichthyosaurus, you and your fellow animals will answer to your
special technical names at roll-call, by a growl. You, sir, are an
extinct reptile. Did you ever hear an extinct reptile growl?"

"No, sir."

"You other animals, stop that unseemly snicker. Where have you lived,
sir, all your life to know so little?"

"In Massachusetts, sir."

"The very headquarters of fossil life. Well, sir, if you have any
imagination at all, growl as nearly as you can in the hypothetical
voice of that extinct reptile called an Ichthyosaurus."

A low growl, ending in a suppressed chuckle.

"Order there, in the zoölogical museum! Mr. Hippotherium!" and another
growl followed in a different key.

"How," said Randolph, when the roll had been gone through, "the
countersign is: 'Here comes the unsuspecting stranger!' Do you
understand?"

The painful general growl that answered him was cut short by a
smothered laugh.

"Attention! When you hear the countersign and see the tent flap lifted
you are to growl all together, with your deepest and heaviest roar."

A few minutes passed silently by. Randolph loitered about near the
tent, as one might do who found the evening air refreshing. Then
suddenly Adjutant Cox passed down the colour line.

"Say, Cox," Randolph hailed him, "come and see what I've got in my
tent."

Thinking only of boodle, for which he had a soft spot, Mr. Cox came up,
and pushed back the tent flap.

"Here comes the unsuspecting stranger!" cried Randolph, and from the
darkness poured forth such a horrible and very prehistoric roar that
the tall cadet made one spring across the company street, demanding in
no gentle tones of Randolph "What on earth he had got there?" Then,
"hiving" the joke, he walked rapidly away. Only one such roar could
be risked, and after a little more hectoring the plebs were let out
quietly one by one, and Randolph sought out Magnus and Rig to receive
their compliments on his success.



XV

SIGNALING FOR HELP

    All common things, each day's events,
      That with the hour begin and end,
    Our pleasures, and our discontents,
      Are rounds by which we may ascend.

    --LONGFELLOW.


It was a new experience to be on guard as corporal; and instead of the
tedious pacing up and down, to go round the camp at set intervals,
posting the reliefs, and then to sleep or lounge in the guard tent. No
more sounding out the "All's well!" in proper, or improper, style; but
it seemed to Magnus that he never missed hearing it.

But whereas in the old days he used to wish every time he called the
hour that the beautiful, serious, and weird cry could reach across the
continent, even to his mother's ears, now, on the whole, he was content
that it did not.

"If only she could hear it!" he used to think; if only the "All's
well!" could cross those weary miles that kept her away. But now,
somehow, he did not wish it. Yes, it was all well with the camp, all
well with the Post; was it all well with him? Would the words bear a
true report as _she_ would understand them?

Cadet Kindred studied the point a good deal as he lay there in the
guard tent looking himself over, or stole a solitary walk now and then.
And I say "stole" advisedly. Short of stealing away, a solitary walk
was hard to get.

If, at the risk of his neck, he slid down some sheer cliff to the
river's edge, few indeed would follow him, but a cadet boat might come
along shore with a barge-load of girls in tow. And sometimes he was
quick enough to dodge behind the bushes, and sometimes he sat still and
let the shower of exclamations come.

"Oh, there's Mr. Kindred!"

"Just _see_ Mr. Kindred!"

"Mr. Kindred, _please_ get right into the boat."

"Haven't a permit."

"There's nobody round," said the Kitten. "Jump in quick. You _never_
can get back up there without being dashed to pieces."

"Hardly _with_. Then there'll be one less 'additional' in the way."

"How dreadful! I thought you were better brought up than to talk so."

"I was."

"Were you really so very well brought up?" said the Kitten, with her
head on one side. "Do you know, I should never have thought it."

Magnus rose to his feet, and doffed his cap profoundly.

"Now you've done it, Puss," said Miss Saucy.

"Why, I don't see how," said the Kitten. "I hate well-brought-up
people; that's why I spoke."

"Better hate Kin as fast as you can, then," said Chappy from the boat,
"so's there'll be a chance for some of the rest of us. Why, he don't
sleep in chapel more than every other Sunday."

"How can he help going to sleep, poor boy?" said Miss Saucy. "Such
sermons!"

"Well, come now," said another cadet, "that last sermon wasn't half
bad. And not more than twice as long as was necessary."

"Yes, but for these times!" quoth Miss Saucy. "Why, it was just like
saying 'Be good,' don't you know?"

"Hard upon the times, wasn't it?" said Magnus.

"Well, row on," said the Kitten with a deep sigh. "I see by his face
nothing _I_ can say will do any good. But it is such a pity! I never
guessed he was that sort. A new fad, isn't it?" she said in a loud
aside, as the oars dipped and rose. "Good-bye, Mr. Kindred! I hope your
meditations will be very profitable."

"Thank you," Magnus answered, standing up again, "I think they will."

He watched the boat as it went on over the dimpling water, then changed
his place a little, and began on a new end of his thoughts. This girl
had "never guessed he was that sort."

Maybe she was only telling society fibs, but Magnus would not let
himself off so. For what reason had he ever given her to think him a
Christian? Where had his colours been, in all these walks and talks and
meetings? Up his sleeve, in hiding?

"But I cannot flaunt them in people's faces," Magnus pleaded for
himself.

No, and no more did the flag its stars and stripes; only waved them
joyously overhead.

He had been ready to say that the constant frolic with the gay crowd
was not good for him, but how about his side of the influence? Had
he ever tried talking sense to girls whom he condemned for talking
only nonsense? "Ye are the salt of the earth," but salt refreshes,
stimulates, purifies; how far had he been like that? Without being
priggish, without setting up for a preacher, could he not show in
every way that the service of Christ was better than all else, and the
knowledge of Him the most joyful thing in all this world? "Ye are my
witnesses," said the Lord Jesus; and what sort of testimony did Cadet
Magnus Kindred give from day to day? No matter how other men did, what
had he done?

The final outcome of all these cogitations was a letter.

  "CAMP GOLIGHTLY,

  "July --, 18--.

  "MY DEAR MOTHER:

 "I don't see why you don't come East and look after your boy. How
 do you know what he is about here? Better come and see whether
 you want him home on furlough; that is, if that time ever comes,
 which I don't believe it will. Three, six, well nigh eight months
 yet before it will even be 'One hundred days to June.' Besides,
 they may find me in January, and then, instead of going home, I
 should go as straight to the Antipodes as if they'd shot me out of
 a catapult."

 "Don't be uneasy; I'm not skinned more than twice a day on an
 average; skins grow fast here, and skinning is nothing when you
 get used to it. So the eels say. And I'm sure to take daddy's
 scalp when we get back to barracks. Not much of a possession,
 either, I must own."

 "Do you realise, ma'am, that your son is that much detested and
 overworked and maligned being a yearling Corporal?--wearing
 chevrons, and sporting dignity enough for three Major-Generals?
 Come and see me drill the plebs; best fun you ever saw in your
 life--when you aren't one of 'em."

 "But now, mother, this is serious. Do bring up our three girls
 respectably, so that when they come here for first-class camp,
 they'll know how to behave. But first of all, you've got to come
 yourself and brush me up. Buy your ticket for West Point, stop at
 Garrisons, cross in the ferryboat, and take the omnibus up the
 hill. Look out both sides all the way up; and the minute you see a
 grey uniform throw up his cap, get out. I suppose I might run it
 down the hill, but then if I get in con. and couldn't see you all
 the time you were here, it wouldn't pay. And Towser'd be sure to
 be round with his patent magnifiers."

 "So I'll go to the edge of limits, and as you don't know where
 that is, look out. If you get lost, I'll put Towser on the track
 and he'll know where you are before you know it yourself. I wonder
 the Phil. Department don't set him to work on the lost Pleiad."

 "Heigh-ho! I wish you were here this minute--with your bag full
 of gingercakes. I was on guard last night, and had nothing to eat
 but those old cast-iron sandwiches. So we put 'em in the reveille
 gun and they went off that way. Love to the girls. Don't bring 'em
 this time, but come yourself."

  "Your (very) third class Corporal,
  CHARLEMAGNE KINDRED."

 "I enclose a picture of myself which you may like to see."



XVI

RE-ENFORCEMENTS READY

 Rien n'est impossible: il y a des voies qui conduisent à toutes
 choses; et si nous avions assez de volonté, nous aurions toujours
 assez de moyens.

  --ROCHEFOUCAULD.


"Like to see it!" Well, I suppose they did. It will not do to say that
never was photograph so devoured; too many just such counterfeits of
boys in grey have sped across this broad continent and been just so
received; but it was well for this particular one that mere looking at
things cannot wear them out.

At first, after one astonished look and exclamation they all broke down
and cried. Partly for joy--for how handsome he was! and how those bell
buttons did set him off!--partly for the wild longing it stirred to
have him in their arms again. But with this came in another feeling:
that keen, subtle pang which detects a change. Was their own wayward,
careless, happy-go-lucky Magnus really hid away behind that perfectly
buttoned coat? For even a year at West Point makes a wonderful change,
which even accustomed eyes find marvellous; what wonder that these
unwonted ones grew wide open as they gazed? He had graduated from the
mild sway of persuasion and was under orders.

If the first half hour's study of the picture was full of joy, it may
be doubted if the pain of the second had all the softening that really
belonged to it. _This_ exact, stately young man, _her_ Magnus, who used
to catch her in his arms and whirl her off her feet. _This_ soldierly
fellow _their_ brother, who would swing himself by one foot from the
apple tree and climb the lightning rod and hold on by his teeth to the
window sill? They did not write all this out for themselves, but the
smiles faded. Not their boy any longer, but Uncle Sam's.

"I should think they might have left him just a few curls!" said
Violet, identifying one small grievance. "Oh, I wonder what Cherry will
say?"

"I wish she'd come," said poor Mrs. Kindred, trying hard to speak
calmly. "Cherry is always so wise. And I am such a goose," she added,
feeling after a stray smile. "Of course, he could not be at West Point
and a soldier and look like my little boy still."

"Let me run up with it to Cherry and bring her back," said Rose.

"No, no, leave it here!" cried the mother. "I cannot have it out of
my sight one minute. Oh, girls! was there ever such a handsome fellow
seen, anywhere?"

"Never, I do believe," said Rose. "Mother, his eyes haven't changed
one bit. Just see how they laugh at you----" But that look stopped the
words.

"What is going on here?" said a sweet young voice at the window. "What
are you all studying out?" And Cherry's quick, soft steps came through
the hall and into the room.

"Don't tell her! Don't tell her!" cried both the girls in an eager
whisper.

"Come in, love," said Mrs. Kindred. "We were just wishing for you."

"Yes, come and tell us what you think," said Rose. And placing
themselves each side of Cherry, the two girls marched her up to a place
behind their mother's chair, where she could look over Mrs. Kindred's
cap and see the picture, watching to hear what she would say.

But Cherry said never a word. She started, and gave a little cry at
first sight of that wonderful presentation of her hero, but then she
stood quite still; her fingers interlacing each other, the red and
white playing hide and seek on her young face. That undefined change
which they all felt came to her with a difference. For Magnus had
never been hers to have and to hold, but only to gaze at from a safe
distance; and suddenly, lo! he had become more wonderful than ever.
Whether this put him further away or not gave Cherry no trouble just
then; she had forgotten herself and the whole world at first sight of
this picture of that astonishing person, Cadet Charlemagne Kindred.

"Do you think it looks like him, dear?" Mrs. Kindred said plaintively;
and with a quick jump down to earth, Cherry answered in the most
matter-of-fact way:

"It must, Mrs. Kindred; it is a photograph."

"That's true," said the mother. "I had forgotten that, Cherry; you
always say just the right thing." And she turned round and held up her
face to kiss the girl who had spoken with such calm wisdom. But poor
Cherry found out then that her own nerves were overstrung, and she
had no answer ready. And what sort of an unconscious feeling was it
that made her turn away and take up the empty "Pach" envelope and look
inside; _could_ Magnus have put in a second copy for her? An action, by
the way, it was a pity that young man did not see, walking, as he was
just then, round Flirtation and making pretty speeches to the youngest
Miss Fashion.

Cherry laid down the envelope and put on her hat.

"You are strange people not to like it," she said.

"Why, we do!" cried both the girls. "Only we felt just a little bad
because it looks different."

"But you knew he would grow older, didn't you?" said Cherry, tying the
hat-strings. "And you could not expect them to let his coat go flying
open, in the Army."

"To be sure, that is just it," said the mother, gazing at her young
soldier; "he is in the Army. Dear me! Dear me! But take off your hat
and sit down, child; here is a whole long letter to read."

There could be but one answer to that. Cherry put herself on a foot
cushion behind the table, just where she could have a good peep at the
picture whenever she chose, and the reading began. But with the very
first sentence Mrs. Kindred laid down the sheet and looked about her
with bewildered eyes.

"He doesn't see why I don't come and look after him!" she said. "Why, I
thought he had the whole Government to do that."

"And it's the first time Magnus ever asked such a favour of anyone, I
am sure," said Rose.

"Oh, but you see," said Cherry from behind her table, "he is homesick,
Mrs. Kindred, and wants you; and nothing else will do."

"He must have got over his homesickness long ago," said Violet.

"Just the first sort," said Cherry; "but you see it has come back
again. It is four hundred and twenty-three days since he saw his
mother." Her voice choked a little.

"Well, you are an almanac, there is no doubt," said Rose, quite failing
to trace this exact tally to its true source. "Dear mamma, don't look
so! It's just lovely of him to be homesick for a sight of you; he ought
to be."

"And of course, you will go to him at once," put in Violet. "Then you
can tell us all about him and the place and everything."

"Go to him!" These lively spirits, treading down impossibilities with
their young feet, were too much for her.

"Why, girls, I haven't the money."

"You shall have my new winter bonnet--which was to be," said Rose.

"And all my Christmas presents which, perhaps, were not to be," said
Violet. "I've got five cents besides in my strong box."

"And Uncle Thorn will help," said Rose. Mrs. Kindred held up her hand.

"Be quiet, all of you," she said, "or I shall lose my senses." She sat
looking at that boy in grey who was homesick for the sight of her.

"It isn't 'all of us,' at all, mamma," said Violet, "for Cherry is as
still as a mouse. Speak up, red lips, and give us your opinion."

Speaking low, as before, Cherry made answer that it would be safe to
read the whole letter, before deciding upon anything, which was such
a self-evident point of wisdom that they all laughed, and the reading
began again.

"Now, mamma, don't stop till you get through, no matter what he says,"
pleaded Rose. And Mrs. Kindred tried, but in truth it was hard. Every
sentence or two she would stop and look up helplessly, at the two faces
that bent over her, or try for encouragement from Cherry's shining
eyes, down by the table. Which eyes, however, were not always in sight.
Cherry found some wonderful things in the letter, which the others
missed; and so now and then retired into her own private meditations.
"Bring up _our_ three girls" and "when _they_ come." Clearly, then, she
also was expected at "first-class camp," whatever that might be.

"Cherry, you don't seem to hear, my child. What does he mean about
their 'finding' him and his not coming home, but going to the
Antipodes?"

"I think it is just some of his nonsense, Mrs. Kindred," said the girl,
too happy to be alarmed. "He wants to make you come, and so he says
all the queer things he can think of. You see West Point hasn't really
changed him one bit."

"Dear fellow!" said the mother, with another look at the picture.
"I think you must be right, Cherry. I am getting used to the dress a
little. And I'd almost give my life to see him. But do you really think
I could go so far alone, even if I had the money?"

With the happy courage of their years, the girls assured her that
nothing possibly could be easier; get in and get out all right, and the
railway companies would do the rest.

"Uncle Thorn will put you in, you know," said Violet, "and as for your
getting out, when you are so near Magnus I don't believe anybody could
keep you in the cars without handcuffs and fetters. You'll just fly
out."

"But suppose I fly out too soon?" said Mrs. Kindred, to whose eyes the
two thousand miles of space loomed up very large indeed.

"You will not," said Rose decidedly. "Conductor will not let you. Read
on, mamma, please."

So Mrs. Kindred read on, only to get more hopelessly mixed as to the
real state of things. "Skins" and "scalps"--third-class corporals and
the Antipodes; laying it off on the West Point vernacular did not clear
up the meaning a bit. And when the letter had been read carefully twice
through from end to end, Mrs. Kindred laid it down and calmly announced
that she should set off for the East as soon as she could get ready.
And the girls kissed her and cheered her, and only wished they could go
too.

And things turned out a good deal as they had said. Mr. Thorn not only
bought her ticket, but put her in careful charge of the conductor. The
girls packed the modest little trunk, stowing in all the gingercakes
there was room for; Violet laid in a dainty handkerchief embroidered
with the young cadet's initials, Rose added a small pincushion "to go
in his pocket," and Cherry, with some demurs, sent him her last little
drawing of the old apple tree which had been his own special private
gymnasium. Cherry had a very pretty knack with her pencil. Then they
all went to the station to see her off, even some of the neighbours
joining in.

"It's a clear Providence your goin', Mrs. Kindred," said one good
woman, whose husband had come West looking for "royal roads" to wealth
and place. "Now you kin tell us all about it, for sen' Magnus went,
we've been athinkin' o' sendin' our Bill. He's a dreffle shiftless
feller: don't take after me, if I do say it. Bill just despises work in
any shape or way, and so his father kinder thought maybe he'd do for
West Point. They'd pull him through, likely, just as they do the rest,
and then he'd he provided for."

Happily, the train came, and nobody could answer. The girls went home
and held an indignation meeting, and Mrs. Kindred rolled swiftly away,
very soon forgetting everything else in the one thought that she was
going to see her boy.



XVII

THREE CHEERS AND A TIGER

    'Twas morn, a most auspicious one:
    From the golden East the golden sun
    Came forth his glorious race to run,
      Through clouds of most splendid tinges.
    Clouds that lately slept in shade,
    But now seemed made
    Of gold brocade;
      With magnificent golden fringes.

    --HOOD.


Yes, it was a royal August day. The last summer month has a very
different character in different places. In town, where, instead of

    "Three months of sunshine bound in sheaves"

you have the same stored up in pavements and glowing from brown stone
fronts, it is a time which men naturally enough choose for their
vacation, and leave the city home behind them as fast and as far as
they can. September rains may clear the air, but till then, away.

But in the Highlands, with here and there a rare exception, August
is one of the very loveliest months of all the year. We say of a
human face that it is finer after life has given its touches and done
somewhat of its fine chiselling, and a little so does the last summer
month surpass the two that went before. More sedate than jocund June;
far calmer than July with its tempests and fervid heats, the shadows
fall differently, the changed lights give you a new insight into
things. The days are so exquisite partly because they are shortening;
the flowers hurry out in troops. And nowhere in all the year do we
have such a succession of wonderful sunset skies as in August. Then
the temperature is for the most part perfect; the cool mornings and
evenings only the fairer for the midday heat. It is a time when you can
sit out, dine out, and well nigh take leave of the house altogether.

One wise thing inexperienced Mrs. Kindred remembered to do. From point
to point as the miles rolled by, she sent postals to the girls at home,
and one at the outset to Magnus. He knew just when to look for her. And
so, when the day came, and dinner was over, Cadet Charlemagne reported
his absence at the guard tent, and strolled away to Trophy Point, and
seated himself to wait and watch. Too early yet by an hour; but he was
restless and could do nothing else.

The day was cloudless now; the noon heats still in the air; the hazy,
lazy hum of the locusts thrilled out on every side. Perhaps lazy is not
just the word--but there are no inflections; they fight it out on one
line, as few tired workers ever can.

A suspicion of real haze hung over Newburgh; the more distant hills
looked faint and dreamy. Far up the river a long tow wound silently
down, leaving its trail upon the quiet water; nearby a sloop or two
went softly on, spreading their white wings to the breeze. There was
just enough air stirring to lift and drop, lift and drop, the bunting
on the flagstaff.

Magnus sat looking and listening, drawing a deep breath now and
then. How long it seemed since he first saw Trophy Point and that
flagstaff!--and it was really but fourteen months. He glanced up at the
flag, just then shaking out its lovely folds. That had not changed. And
he knew his mother had not; she would be just the same blessed person
she had always been. But how about himself? and what would she think
of him? And now, studying that question, Magnus took out mentally
his own private stand of colours and looked at them, matching them
with the flag overhead. It hung very still just then; and yet he could
see a star here, a touch of the stripes there. Storms might beat it to
ribands, but they could not change the colours nor make the flag come
down.

"That weak strip of bunting!" thought Magnus, with a certain
interlining of words not complimentary to himself. And other words
written above his father's grave came quick and clear: "The world
passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God
abideth forever."

Magnus stood up and walked slowly along the little path to another
point, whence he could see the "Central" road.

"I'm no end glad she's coming!"--so ran his thoughts. "But I just
wonder how she'll like her boy? And there she comes!"

For now a puff of white smoke rose up at the mouth of the Breakneck
tunnel and then fell into a long, curling line, and began to wind its
way rapidly along the curves of the river road.

Magnus watched it, jumped on the seat to see it better still, and then
tossed his cap into the air like any boy let out of school.

"Hurrah, old flag!" he cried; "there she comes! Now you'll see somebody
worth looking at."

The white line rushed on, paused at Cold Spring, whirled along over the
north bay and hid itself in the green Island woods, while Magnus, again
waving his cap and this time so recklessly that it was near going down
the hill, hurried away to Battery Knox, ran up on the green parapet,
and stood to watch. The engine came puffing over the south bay as if
the fate of the nation hung on its speed, dived into the Garrisons
tunnel and slowed up.

How long it stayed!

"Just to put off mother and her little trunk!" thought Magnus, laughing
to himself, and then getting such dim eyes that he could not see a
thing. But he felt as if he could hug even the trunk.

And now, puff, puff, the train slowly moved away from the station, and
the little ferryboat rang her bell. Of course, his mother was there, in
the small, dark throng that came down to the river, and of course he
must therefore really see her, but--Oh! it was too tantalising! I think
at that minute Magnus would have given anything (except furlough) for a
good glass.

The boat was off, steering across the river in a pretty curve to suit
the tide; the smooth water turning back in two long lines of wrinkles
in her wake.

Magnus leaped down from the parapet and was speeding away up the path
at a great rate when there came a hail:

"Mr. Kin--dred!"

Magnus paused to see.

Clustered about the pathetic white column that looking calmly down on
the silent river, tells in such vivid fashion its terrible tale of
struggle and death, were three or four very summery looking girls: Miss
Fashion, Miss Dangleum, and another whom Magnus did not know.

"_Do_ come here, Mr. Kindred," pleaded Miss Dangleum.

Well, a cadet is nothing if he is not a squire of distressed damsels.
Magnus turned and jumped down to where they stood.

"What's the matter?" he said; "has a fan gone down the hill? or is a
parasol in trouble?"

"There, isn't that just like you!" said Miss Fashion. "No, nothing so
serious as that."

"Miss Beguile has come," said Miss Dangleum, "and she asked you down to
a private view of her eyes."

"Oh, _Nina_!" said Miss Beguile, in soft expostulation.

"We also wanted her to see yours," said Miss Nina daringly. "She
doesn't believe cadets have any under those caps."

Magnus doffed his own particular cap, as in duty bound, but the view
Miss Beguile got of his eyes was very short and unsatisfactory.

"Now find us a nice seat," said Miss Dangleum. "We've got lots of
boodle."

"Certainly--at any other time," began Magnus, "but now----"

"You don't mean to say you've got a previous?" cried the girls.

"Very previous, indeed. I am just going to meet my mother."

"Your mother?" said Miss Beguile with the sweetest air of interest.
"How charming!"

"Dear me, where does _she_ come from?" drawled Miss Fashion.

But now Mr. Kindred's eyes came to the front and declared themselves.

"She comes from _home_," he said. "Excuse me, I am late"; and with
another touch of his cap Magnus sprang away up the path about as fast
as a man could go and not run.

"He has magnificent eyes," said Miss Beguile.

"Yes, but no use," said Miss Dangleum. "I cannot bring that man to
terms, do what I will."

"Flinty, is he?" said Miss Beguile. "Well, I mean to get hold of him,
girls, I give you notice. He's the sort of man I like."

"Is there any sort you don't like, Bessie?" said Miss Fashion.

"Oh, it's always great fun to have men round, no matter what sort they
are," confessed her friend. "But the unapproachable is my dearest
choice, every time."



XVIII

HIGH SUMMER

    Far through the memory shines a happy day.

    --LOWELL.


Magnus meanwhile went speeding on; leaping over space, and chafing at
the lost minutes in terms not very flattering to his fair disturbers.
But he was in good time, after all. The stage had waited for a West
Shore train, and when Magnus reached the furthest and nearest point
to which he might go, the horses with their light load were but just
nearing the riding hall.

Slowly, slowly--how that stage did creep along. Magnus crossed the
road, went back again, darted from one point to another; if only he
could get a good glimpse inside! Now the lumbering thing turned a
little; ah, it was just empty. No; surely that was a bonnet on the
further seat; and now at this window looking out for him! And surely if
ever a forage cap went high in air, one went then. But the moment it
was within reach again Magnus pulled it far down over his own eyes. He
had been at West Point more than a year, looking at tactical officers,
professors, dignitaries of all sorts; with wild cadets and all kinds
of girls; and now this was his mother's face, and like nothing else in
all the world. The boy's heart gave a bound fit to burst something less
elastic than a young heart always is.

As for poor Mrs. Kindred, when she saw that cap go up in the air, of
course you know what happened to her. But she would not look away,
even to cry, and sat gazing at that tall figure in grey and drawing
the long sobbing breaths that bear such a very mixed freight. She even
forgot to pull the check string, and would have been driven straight
on if Magnus, in a voice stern enough for the first captain, had not
bidden the driver stop. And it seemed so natural and fitting that her
boy should pay her fare that when he pulled out a hidden quarter and
passed it up to the driver no qualms of fear that he might be "skinned"
for so doing disturbed her mind. Of course cadets have no more business
with pocket money than they have with pockets, but she did not know
that.

Magnus got one hand on his arm, gripping it with the other hand as if
he thought she might run away; and drew her rapidly along through the
nearest byways to a nook among rocks and trees that he deemed his own
private discovery. Once there, hidden away in the sweet, cool shadow,
with the river plashing softly far below, and a wood thrush ringing his
chimes near by, Cadet Corporal Kindred threw his cap down on the grass,
put his arms round his mother, and hid his face in her neck as if he
had been six years old.

It was just what the mother needed. For at first sight, this tall,
splendid fellow with braid and buttons and chevrons, straight as a
line, and with all the saucy curls cut away, laid her under a spell.
Except the first meeting kiss she had had hardly a sign from him unless
that grip of her hand. But now, with her boy in her arms, he was her
boy still, and she quite too happy for this lower world.

"Child," she said at last, "what have they done with your hair? Have
you been sick?"

Then Magnus looked up and laughed; the old shine in his eyes making her
heart leap.

"Regulations," he said. "I am nothing any more but a bundle of
regulations, mother. Might about as well be a convict labeled 379."

"Regulations!" Mrs. Kindred repeated. "I wish I had the making of them."

"I wish you had, mother. And there are some three hundred and odd more
boys here, who would confidingly hand the job over to you. Then we'd
have pie every day for dinner and cake for supper, Saturday in the
middle of the week, and no Monday morning recitations."

"But Magnus," said Mrs. Kindred, bewildered over this very mixed lot of
grievances, "don't you have cake for supper?"

"Now and then a mysterious compound which goes by that name," said
Magnus. "We are having it scientifically analysed to see whether it is
all new-process granite, or whether one part mud comes in."

But here the innocent, perplexed face was too much for him. He almost
shouted with fun, tossing his cap up higher than it had ever been.

"You blessed mother!" he said. "You haven't changed one bit--not a
pin's point. There was one on your shoulder just now to scratch me,
exactly as there always used to be."

"Oh, my dear!" cried poor Mrs. Kindred. "I did not mean to leave that
pin there. I just stuck it in last night in the sleeping car."

"But you always did 'just stick it in,' you know," said Magnus
disrespectfully; "and I never remember the time when it didn't just
stick out. It wouldn't be you without a pin on your shoulder."

"It wouldn't be you if you were not a saucy boy," said the mother, and
then they looked in each other's eyes and laughed; how happy they were!

"All right, mammy," said Magnus. "That pin gave me a welcome nothing
else could. How are the girls?"

"The girls are lovely," said Mrs. Kindred. "Cherry has tried to fill
your place, Magnus, ever since you came away."

"H'm, I don't know about that," said Magnus. "Tell her she can't have
but half of it, fair and square."

"Oh, well, you know how I talk," said Mrs. Kindred. "She could not
really, dear, nor anybody else. But she is the dearest girl, Magnus,
and so wise. We have to get her to explain all the queer things in your
letters."

"Do I write queer things?"

"Very; or they sound so to us. And I get quite worried sometimes.
And then Cherry will say in that pretty way of hers, 'You know it is
Magnus, Mrs. Kindred, so he could not mean _that_.'"

If two sparks flew from Cadet Kindred's eyes at these words, only the
green moss at his feet was witness thereto. But, then, a very grave
look came over his face. His mother watched him anxiously.

"You do not think I really _meant_ that, dear?" she said. "No one on
earth could fill my boy's place with me, Magnus."

"No, no; I understand," he said, without looking up. "But she deserves
it so. Cherry is a great deal better than I am, mother."

The mother smiled contentedly. Very small improvement did her boy need
for her. But she would not say that; just as well for him not to know
how high he stood on the general merit roll. And it was a fine new
West Point development, if Magnus was inclined to underrate his own
perfections. Which, by the way, was not at all what that young man was
doing. But Cherry's simple, unquestioning faith in him suddenly touched
up his memory of certain things which (in spite of being "Magnus") he
had done, and the recollection was not pleasant. Not very bad things,
Oh, no! but by no means up to Cherry's standard.

"It's not worth while for her to come on before furlough," he said,
thinking aloud.

"Her?" Mrs. Kindred repeated questioningly.

"Yes, any one of the girls," said Magnus. "You see, the winter journey
is one thing; and then in the winter there's such a beastly lot of
studying to do. And in the spring I shall be boning every minute. But
wait till first-class camp. Or you might all come back with me from
furlough--just for a first sight of the place."

"But my dear!" said Mrs. Kindred. "Why Magnus, you talk as if we had
the Bank of England at our back."

"No, only me in front," said Magnus with a gleam of his bright eyes.
"You don't suppose I am going to worry through the last two years here
without a sight of you all? Wouldn't pay to bone rank if nobody came to
see my chevrons. Just as well go on and get rattled like some of the
rest of them."

"But my dear!" said poor Mrs. Kindred. "'Rattled' and 'bone' you've
said twice. And you called your studies 'beastly.' I thought they
taught English at West Point."

How Magnus laughed!

"There are Tacs over yonder," he said, "with a party of summer girls;
and one of the girls offered me a lot of boodle. And the Com.'s out
riding, and the Supe's gone to town, and the Arch-fiend is at the
seaside."

"Now Charlemagne, stop!" said Mrs. Kindred. Magnus gave her another
delighted hug.

"Oh mammy!" he said; "this is you, and no mistake. I didn't quite
believe it was at first." And kissing first one hand and then the
other, Magnus put them both back in her lap, and laid his cheek down
upon them. The mother got one hand away and softly stroked the fine
head.

"I do not understand about your hair, yet," she said.

"Regulations."

"And why do you wear such a thick coat this warm day, Magnus?"

"Regulations."

"Why my dear! Well, you might unbutton it at least," said Mrs. Kindred.

"Regulations."

Mrs. Kindred was silent a minute.

"I took my dinner in Poughkeepsie," she said, "because I was not sure
of getting here in time for yours; and I know it is not good for you to
wait."

"No ma'am, it isn't--here," said Magnus.

"But we can have supper at any time you like."

Magnus, without raising his head, gave a groan and wished they could.

"Well, we can," said Mrs. Kindred. "I can wait till late, or have it
early, Magnus, just as suits you. What do you mean by sighing like
that? What is in the way?"

"Regulations."

"Oh well!" said the mother, trying to smother her disappointment; "you
have some other thing on hand? Never mind, dear, then we'll be together
at breakfast."

"No, we sha'n't."

"Why not?"

"Regulations. We cannot have one single meal together while you are
here, mammy."

And now, indeed, Mrs. Kindred had no more to say; the bands of red
tape seemed to be winding all about her heart, and drawing very tight
indeed. She had so pictured to herself the joy of once more handing her
boy his cup of coffee. But it must be best for him, she said bravely to
herself; or else they would not make such rules. And, whatever was best
for him--

"What _can_ you do, dear?" she said aloud, but with a plaintiveness
that went to the boy's heart. He sat up and took her in his arms.

"I can do lots, mammy!" he said. "Never you worry one bit. I can't
do it for breakfast, and I can't do it to-night, but some other day
I'll cut supper, and we'll have it down here together. And we'll have
picnics instead of dinner. And I'll walk with you every minute of
release from quarters."

"Release!" The word jarred on the mother's ear; to what had she sent
her boy? But then, whatever it was, it agreed with him splendidly;
never had she seen Magnus in more jocund health and strength; life at
its best was in every look and motion. And the eyes that flashed and
sparkled at her were not the least in the world careworn or overworked.
So Mrs. Kindred locked up all her dismayed pangs and questionings, and
once more stroking her boy's cropped head, remarked that it was said to
make the hair grow to cut it.

"I'll have a mop when I come out, then," said Magnus. "How does Cherry
wear her hair now? same old way?"

"Oh yes!" said Mrs. Kindred; "only it's never twice just the same. You
know her curls arrange themselves--as yours used to, Magnus."

"Disarrange was the word for me. If anybody cuts hers off, I'll shoot
him."

"I think somebody did cut one off once, without being shot," said Mrs.
Kindred. Magnus coloured.

"That was only one," he said. "Why didn't you bring them all along? The
girls, I mean."

"Why, you unreasonable boy," said his mother; "you expressly bade me
not."

"I had been here so long, I forgot that you always minded," said
Magnus, with a saucy look.

"Well, I did _not_ always," said Mrs. Kindred; "but the girls could not
have come off in such a moment, Magnus; they were not ready."

"Girls never are. They'd learn, if they had a week or two in camp.
Bang goes the reveille gun--and in just two minutes you have to be
dressed and out in line, swearing that 'Kindred, C.' is present and
accounted for."

"Swearing, Magnus?"

"Well, some of the men make the statement pretty loud. I am one of the
mild kind, and 'roar gently.'"

"Yes, I know what your gentle roars amount to," said his mother
derisively. "But Magnus, do they really make you dress in two minutes?"

"By my watch."

"But you haven't got a watch," said the perplexed mother.

"And therefore am subject now and then to miscalculations."

"Well, West Point has not changed you yet, to hurt," said the mother,
smiling at him. Magnus took her tender hands and put one on each side
of his face.

"Mammy," he said, "it is the jolliest thing to see you sitting there,
puzzling your dear head over my grinds. I could cry, if I wanted to.
But I say, when you do bring the girls, don't give 'em time to get
ready. They shan't come here looking as if they'd never had anything
before, but had got it now, sure."

"But our girls have always had enough, you know, Magnus, and they are
not likely to have any more," said Mrs. Kindred, cutting both knots.

"They are worth all the girls I have seen here, multiplied by twelve
dozen," said Magnus. "Oh, mother, why didn't they come! But I tell you,
you'll have your hands full when they do. Violet will make a sensation.
And Rose--I think True will be fathom deep at first sight of Rose; he
likes quiet, sweet, strong girls."

"I should think most people would," said Mrs. Kindred. "And how about
Cherry?"

"I said nothing about Cherry."

"Am I not to bring her?"

"Oh yes! she had better come too," said Magnus. "Mammy, it is as good
as a month of Saturdays just to look at you. You are the handsomest
woman on the Post."

And now pink tinges came upon the sweet pale face; and Mrs. Kindred was
certainly the happiest woman anywhere about.



XIX

THE VISITORS' SEATS

    With whom doth Time gallop withal?

    --SHAKESPEARE.


Alas. Time did not slacken his pace for those two people. After that
very first day, when Mrs. Kindred really took in the astounding fact
that she was _there_, she began to count almost the seconds as they
ticked away, and grudged even those spent in sleep.

She would sit far on into the night, looking over from her window to
where her boy's tent rose up sharp and white in the moonshine; and with
the first drum-beat in the morning was at her post, sending off her
heart and her blessing to that grey line where Magnus stood. If he was
on guard she watched for glimpses of his tall figure as he went up and
down, posting reliefs, and in a sort loved the whole white battalion
that marched away to dinner because one particular white helmet rested
on his head. And never was there a more devoted frequenter of the camp,
as she waited there on the visitors' seats for his moments of leisure,
happy between whiles that he was at least nearby.

Then she steadied her nerves to bear the sharp reports in the Light
Battery drill, and watched manœuvres and evolutions as eagerly as
if she understood them all. How stately Magnus looked in his various
trappings; how nimbly he tumbled in and out of the caissons. And when
the sergeant shouted out at parade:

"Company A, one corporal absent!"--how thankful that particular mother
was that it could not possibly be _her_ son.

It was astonishing to see such honours and cares resting upon his young
head; drilling plebs, posting sentinels; no wonder he had changed.
Was the change in him all for the better? The mother could not quite
tell. When Magnus was with her that joy swept everything else away; but
sometimes, as she sat alone, her thoughts worked hard, and many things
came in to tangle and perplex them.

Loitering about the camp in this way, and never missing a formation,
Mrs. Kindred also could not miss a good deal else. The Point was
not crowded; but the summer girl--and the summer girl's supposed
chaperon--were in sufficient force; and as young people nowadays think
their words worth hearing, Mrs. Kindred did not need to strain her ears
nor give undue attention to know much that was said and done.

It was a glimpse into a life unguessed before. Her own had been simple,
earnest, and useful, from her youth up. The three girls at home were as
merry as crickets, and overflowing with fun and frolic; but the cricket
fun--if fun it be--was not more guileless and true-hearted than theirs.

But now, sitting under the trees and watching her boy from a distance,
Mrs. Kindred would sometimes hear, close at hand, some word or
sentiment that made her start and look round, with a great wish that
the girl's mother were there; and behold, quite often she _was_. Then
this mother would get up and change her seat.

Small use. Near the new place sat a tall young lady in tennis rig set
free, while her waist was drawn in until playing must have been hard
work. A game had been on, for Miss Viny's cheeks were flushed, and she
still brandished her racket. She was talking over her shoulder to a
semi-young officer.

"I think you have a great deal too much to do with Captain Chose, Miss
Viny," said this gentleman. "You know he is in a very peculiar position
with regard to his wife."

And the handsome girl, flashing round at him her daring eyes, made
answer:

"That only makes him the more interesting!"

Mrs. Kindred shivered slightly, and once more changed her seat.

And _now_ she got among a bevy of girls who were talking of Magnus;
they fluttered in and settled down all around her, too eager over their
subject to know or care who heard their talk.

"I'll get hold of him somehow. I'm bound to do it," said a dark girl in
very extreme costume. "I told you I would, and I will."

"Not worth the bother," said a plump little damsel in pink. "There are
plenty more."

"Not plenty with eyes like his; there's not such another pair in the
Corps. They're just heavenly."

"Yes, aren't they?" said the plump girl. "When he looks at you it makes
you feel queer all over."

"I was afraid you were going to say, all through," said Miss Beguile;
"and you know there isn't any 'all through' to you, Kitten."

"Now I call that _too_ bad," said the Kitten. "When I am universally
known to be all heart."

"Good you are," said Miss Saucy, "for you give everyone a piece and
the supply might fail. But there's a good deal of you, such as it is,
Kitten. You'll turn the three F's, if you live long enough."

"_Some_ people don't think there's too much of me," said the Kitten,
pouting.

"About half the Corps, I should judge. Now I believe in one grand
master passion, don't you know. I think it's dear."

"It's a passion for a master--if you're in love with Mr. Kindred," said
a fourth girl. "He'll manage you, Bessie. Make you behave."

If anybody had had time to notice the quiet little mother sitting
there, he would have seen a very perceptible start, and a pair of eyes
as indignant as such tender eyes could be. _Those_ girls after her
young magnate? Mrs. Kindred was fit to go that moment to headquarters
and demand a cordon of red tape to surround her boy. But she could do
nothing; could not speak to the girls, could not (alas) even shake
them. Then she seemed to remember seeing him bow to these very ones;
and with a certain dress-coat air, which now Mrs. Kindred marked as one
of the new things about Magnus that disturbed her.

What if Cherry had seen and heard it all? And suddenly Mrs. Kindred
knew why it was Cherry she thought of, and not Rose or Violet.

Here was a new and difficult complication. Yes, of course, it was all
natural, the mother felt, and plain enough now she thought of it.
Whether Cherry herself yet knew, or not, she _would_, just as soon as
Magnus took a fancy to somebody else. Could he do that, after having
once known her? Mrs. Kindred waited till the next relief went on, and
Magnus within the guard tent was quite out of sight, and then went to
her room to think and to pray.

Should she talk to Magnus?--no; skating is generally safer than
navigation in broken ice. And the next day but one she was to go home.

No further sight of her boy could be hoped for that night, and Mrs.
Kindred shut herself in and watched the silent camp long after the
sweet "curfew" bugle had cried to every light:

"Put it out! Put it out! Put it out!"



XX

JUST THEE AND ME

    Hushed with broad sunlight lies the hill,
      And minuting the long day's loss,
    The cedar's shadow, slow and still,
      Creeps o'er the dial of grey moss.

    --LOWELL.


The next day rose fairer than ever. Magnus came off at eight o'clock
with "old guard privileges," and having also kind permission from the
authorities to dine with his mother in the woods.

Now the ordering and preparing of this dinner had been a great joy to
Mrs. Kindred; what though the correct dainties could not be had. Green
corn to boil was an impossibility, even if a kettle could be found; and
home-made rolls were far out of reach, and not all the canned things
that were ever turned out could replace her own home-fed chickens and
home-cured ham. The supplies from the baker were fresh and clean and
well looking--yet Mrs. Kindred sighed, thinking of Violet's loaves of
cake, and Cherry's pies.

Magnus, however, was not so critical, he did not see even such as these
every day, and so enjoyed everything to his mother's heart's content.
And as she feasted on her boy there was really no lack anywhere. The
fair August lights and shades chased each other among cedars and oaks,
the locusts hummed; the birds that had nestlings sped swiftly to and
fro, bringing food. Fall after fall of rocky woods and winding road lay
at their feet; below all, the white camp in its green setting, then the
river--never twice the same. Far up in the north the Catskills lifted
their blue, changeless heads.

It was all so wondrous and so new to Mrs. Kindred that she was watching
it, taking it in, even when she thought she had no eyes but for Magnus.
The hills bewitched her; the distant blue, the nearer green; on all
sides she seemed to hear the silent chanting of her favourite psalm:

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."

Surely this was a place wherein to grow "strong in the Lord"; a place
where to remember:

"Thou wilt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures."

"Mammy, you don't eat," said Magnus, beginning on another small pie.
"You might venture--just a little. I think there'd be enough left for
me."

"My dear, I have too much," said the mother. "Magnus, don't eat any
more of that pie; it is not Cherry's make, remember."

"Don't I know it! But her pies are across the continent, worse luck.
It is good the know-nothing girls here don't try their hand. Shade
of Scipio Africanus, what a poisoning of cadets there would be! Dr.
Senna says that if it wasn't for Pretty Newcomb and her candy--with a
sprained ankle now and then--he shouldn't have a man on the sick list."

"Well, that is good," said Mrs. Kindred heartily; "the place must agree
with you all. Magnus, do you know many people here?"

"Three hundred cadets, more or less, and too many officers quite
intimately," said Magnus, trying the cake. "Besides the bugler and the
orderly."

"Any ladies?"

"Quite some."

"I really do wish they taught English here," said poor Mrs. Kindred.
"You are just as bad as ever, Magnus."

"Worse!" But Magnus laughed up into her eyes with a look that to the
mother negatived that. What eyes his were! And that reminded her.

"Have you ever met a Miss Kitten?"

"The cadets' 'pet Kitten'? Well, I should say I had, rather."

"Magnus; I do not like to hear you talk so."

"But that is what she is, mammy, so why shouldn't I say it?"

"Always speak respectfully about women, my dear."

"Women? Well, let her pass for that," said Magnus, unconsciously
quoting Portia.

"You do know her then?"

"Enough to take off my cap when I meet her and walk while she talks,"
said Magnus. "Why mammy, what makes you so curious about the Kitten?"

"I am interested in anyone you know."

Mrs. Kindred went on, silently putting the remains of the feast into
the basket. Magnus, leaning on one elbow, watched the hands that did
their work so quietly and well. Then he bent down and kissed first one
hand and then the other, touching them with cheek as well as lips. And
Mrs. Kindred left her basket, and coaxed his head down on her lap,
softly stroking and caressing it. Magnus drew a long, deep breath.

"Mammy," he said, "they don't grow beds of Roses and Violets out here,
nor anywhere, I guess, but at home."

"It is you that have to grow 'out here,' Magnus."

"Yes'm. How much?" said Magnus; "I'm a good half-inch taller already."

"Dear me!" said Mrs. Kindred, quoting her favourite lines:

    "It is not growing like a tree
    That makes man better be."

"A whole half-inch, Magnus?"

Magnus laughed.

"Ah, mammy," he said, "you can't keep dark worth a cent. Truly, a whole
half-inch. Call it three-quarters."

"I must remember and tell the girls," said Mrs. Kindred.

"Yes, don't forget," said Magnus ironically. "Charge your memory, and
tie a red string round every finger. Then tell 'em the first minute
they meet you at the station, mother, and have it off your mind."

"You are a _very_ saucy boy," said Mrs. Kindred, trying to look grave.

"West Point is a developing place, as some wise M. C. said last June.
Have the girls grown, mother? How tall is Cherry?"

"Grown a little, I think, in several ways. Every day I see her, I think
she could not be sweeter--and then the next day I think she is," said
Mrs. Kindred warmly.

"Bless her dear heart!" Magnus remarked under breath.

"Sometimes I think she works too hard," said Mrs. Kindred. "I really
believe that child carries a book in her pocket, and studies every
chance she gets. She has coaxed the other girls into a sort of class,
and for two hours every day they study together."

"Good for her!" said Magnus; "good for 'em all. Studies are extremely
developing. I wish I could send 'em all mine. I think I have grown
enough."

"I suppose you carry a book in your pocket, too," said Mrs. Kindred,
taking her turn at the irony.

"Haven't got one," said Magnus; "or doubtless I should. The books are
on hand, but the pocket is wanting."

"No pocket?"

"No'm. _Now_ you have an idea of desolate destitution." And Magnus
raised himself on one elbow again, drew out a white handkerchief from
his sleeve, and after a melancholy wave in the air, tucked it back
again.

"But my dear!" said Mrs. Kindred.

"Ah, you see what development costs here," said Magnus. "No wonder
I have shot up into the air, that being the only place where I
couldn't run against regulations. Just notice to-night at parade what
preternaturally tall men we have in the Corps. You see there are no
Tacs up overhead,"--and Magnus gazed pathetically into the serene blue.

"Stop fooling," said his mother. "Magnus, if you have no pockets--why,
I never heard of such doings!--then where do you put anything?"

"Up my sleeve."

"Nonsense; your sleeve will not hold much to speak of."

"No," said Magnus; "and so what it holds is generally _not_ spoken of.
In winter we have a resource--a small one; but in summer we should be
hard up if it wasn't for the girls."

"What have the girls to do with your pockets?" said Mrs. Kindred rather
severely.

"Would fill them, if we had any. As it is, they fill their own and
empty them at our feet."

"Magnus, I don't know you," said his mother; "I never heard you talk in
that way at home, and I do not like it now."

"Well, it's the truth," said Magnus. "The Kitten threw a pear after me
yesterday, as I went by; and only this morning Miss Midget pelted the
men who were at Derby Drill, from her basket of peaches. What can a man
do? You must speak of people as you find them."

Mrs. Kindred drew a longer sigh than her boy had done.

"If that is for me, you needn't," said Magnus; "Kittens aren't lions,
mammy. I'm better off than Daniel, yet. Only his detail of an angel
stayed by him,--and mine comes--and will go!" And Magnus brought the
beloved hands up to his face again.

Poor Mrs. Kindred! it was all so strange and sweet, and perplexing and
delightful, that she was on the very edge of a burst of tears. That
touch of her boy's fingers and face, so long unfelt, and for so long to
be again, just wrung her heart. And when so many other confusing ideas
came to tangle themselves in with this, no wonder her nerves got out of
order. And so, as such dear people will, finding earth altogether too
much for her, Mrs. Kindred took refuge where the ways are marked out,
and the standing sure.

"I am glad you reminded me of Daniel," she said, her voice faltering in
spite of her. "Yes, 'My God will send his angel' to look after you."

"He _has_," put in Magnus.

"But dear," the mother went on, "Daniel risked everything, for loyalty
to his master. I should go home with a glad heart if I knew that was
true of you."

How sweet the summer silence lay between the two. The soft plash of
the river quickened just now by the swell of a passing boat; the bird
notes waking up a little as the day wore on; the lengthening shadows,
the descending sun. And no human voice broke the hush. If a sigh came
to Mrs. Kindred's lips, it was stayed there; if deprecating, excusing
words were ready with Magnus, not one came out. Hand in hand, so they
sat; but presently the mother's heart went up in such eager, wordless
prayer that, except that hand-clasp, she was conscious of nothing else.
Magnus, glancing at her furtively from under his cap, saw the closed
eyes and the rapt face; but even as he looked, the eyes opened and
lifted with a glow of love and trust that sent his own face down, down
into her lap.

"Well?" she said gently. "How is it dear? Are you like that?"

"Not much!" Magnus answered, sitting straight up again, and gazing off
at the shining river. "About as little as you'd like to have me. But
mother, you don't know how hard it is."

"Perhaps I do," she said. "The world power does not go by places, nor
is the devil shut up to any State. Didn't you tell me that you had
always at least a storm flag out?"

"Did you guess what I meant?"

"Cherry guessed," said Mrs. Kindred. "She said you never took your flag
down, even on the stormiest days."

"Like Cherry!" cried Magnus. "Her true heart could not even imagine
anything else. Well, mother, that's what it ought to mean--and what it
_does_ mean, for that blessed old banner down yonder. The toughest wind
that blows never finds that flagstaff empty, from reveille to retreat.
And in the deadest sort of a calm you can see a touch of blue and a
gleam of red clinging and glowing about the top of the old pole."

"And for you, Magnus? What does it mean for you?" the mother said
anxiously.

"Oh, nothing very bad!" Magnus answered. "Only sometimes I seem to fly
my storm flag in fair weather."

There was a long, quiet pause. Magnus waited for his mother to speak,
and her words were not ready. The young cadet, looking at her again,
found no shocked expression, as he had feared; the tender face was
grave and thoughtful, but calm; the eyes gazing out far beyond him.

"Dear," she said at last, "are all the men in your Company Christians?"

"All the men in my Company? Well, I should say not."

"Or all your special associates?"

"Why, no! Not by several and many."

"Magnus, suppose this pretty place was suddenly peopled with aliens,
and not an American left but the one in charge of the colours. What
should he do?"

"Hang out the garrison flag, if it blew to tatters!" said Magnus.

Mrs. Kindred laughed, but her eyes filled and her lips trembled.

"Yes, dear," she said. "So do."



XXI

ME ONLY

 "Everything goes away," said the Dryad: "goes away as the clouds
 go, never to return."

  --HANS ANDERSEN.


That was the last long talk they had together. A brief walk next
morning before eight o'clock; another--ah, how short--to the brow of
the hill where they had met that first day; and then Magnus pulled his
cap over his eyes and strode away to his hidden nook, and the mother
went quietly sobbing down the hill. Alas! how fast the minutes flew now
that had seemed so loitering when she came.

As for Magnus, he watched the ferryboat every foot of the way over;
waved his cap frantically to the cluster of dark spots that went up the
sloping path to the station; then listened for the roar of the coming
train with an intensity that made him start when he heard it. With
a great pang he saw the pliant black line wind out from between the
cloven rocks and swing along to the station, almost holding his breath
in the minute's hush that came next. Hardly a minute; then puffs of
black smoke curled up into the air, the engine gave its usual snort at
such trifles as love and life and parting, and the train glided on into
the tunnel, flew out across the bay, and past the Island; the trail of
smoke fainted and faded away on the sweet summer air, and Cadet Kindred
shook his fist at the whole thing.

What right had that black engine to carry his mother off before his
very eyes? And what business had he to be lingering there behind her?
If it could have been done suddenly and quietly, I believe Magnus
would have resigned on the spot, and taken the next train home.

But red tape has its use. What letters and papers and statements such
a step would involve; what answering of official questions; and Cadet
Charlemagne Kindred did not feel prepared to state publicly that
he, who had survived to be a yearling corporal, must now resign for
homesickness. A drum-call in the distance also lent its persuasions.
The usual is generally, after all, the easiest thing to do, so Magnus
put his cap in position, and set his face towards camp and duty. But
taking off the cap again, he first bowed very low towards the steadfast
old hills through whose cuts and chasms his mother had just vanished,
kissing his hand to her in mute farewell; then resolutely walked away.

There was a pleb drill that afternoon, and with the way one has of
being good by proxy, Mr. Kindred kept his little set of men to their
work most unflinchingly, with small allowance for mistakes, and none at
all for inattention. Such zeal bestowed upon himself would have wrought
wonders. To hear him, you would have thought a mathematical line the
only easy position, and any sort of twist or bend that might be ordered
merely a pleasing variety of the same. "Brace up"--the poor, distracted
fourth classmen felt sure he must have done it in his cradle.

Miss Dangleum came by and paused to look--and Magnus was sublimely
unconscious of her presence; the Kitten held out a box of bonbons--and
he went by at the double-quick. Then Miss Saucy joined the group, with
Miss Bessie Beguile, and finally, that young lady's mother came slowly
on the scene.

"What's the matter here?" said the panting chaperon. "How you girls
do run! What are you looking at? Who's fainted? These drills are
positively barbarous!"

"Oh, don't you just wish he _would_ faint?" cried the Kitten. "Such
fun! Then we'd all rush in with our smelling-bottles, while Mrs.
Beguile ran for water!"

"While I--ran--for water!" quoth Mrs. Beguile, with a thought of her
rather stout proportions.

"But you'd be the only one, you know, mamma," said Miss Bessie sweetly.
"Because _we_ couldn't invade the guard tents alone."

"Nor in company, either," said Miss Saucy. "Nobody's going to faint,
Mrs. Beguile, unless it's me, because we can't get Mr. Kindred to look
at us."

"My dear!" said Mrs. Beguile. "I am surprised! _Never_ show such
special interest. Why, you will turn the young man's head."

"Just what we're after," said the Kitten. "And what we'll do, too. I'll
_make_ him look at me--I vow I will!"

The words were spoken half aloud, but the young lady got not a glimpse
of the eyes in question. Corporal Kindred's words of command rang out
minus let or hinderance; and if the girls put themselves in the way, he
led his men straight on, and they had to get out of it.

"I don't mind," said Miss Saucy, after one of these raids. "It's fun.
And he can't _help_ seeing us!"

"It's ravishing to hear anything in such a voice," said Miss Beguile.
"If I were going to be shot, I should like to have him give the order."

"It wouldn't be exactly what you call going off the stage to slow
music," said Miss Saucy, as a sharp and imperative "Halt!" came from
the young corporal's lips. The girls refreshed themselves with a
prolonged titter, the weary plebs dropped down upon the grass. Magnus
walked slowly down the road.

"I wonder if one might venture to address his High Mightiness, in these
his moments of comparative leisure?" said Miss Dangleum. "They are so
pernickity about drills. Mr. Kindred!" (softly and experimentally).
Magnus turned within a yard of the young lady and paced back.

"Oh, Mr. Kindred! If there was a snake here, could you come and kill
it? Wouldn't a rattlesnake be against regulations?"

And now there was a smothered laugh among the plebs. But the corporal
turned and took his way past the ladies again, and gave no sign.

"Mr. Kindred!" (very pleadingly) while one pretty hand held out a box
of brown chocolates and another a red-cheeked peach. In apparently deep
abstraction Mr. Kindred once more paced down the road.

"I'll throw it at him! I vow I will," said Miss Saucy. "If I could
knock his cap off, I should die radiant."

And she did her best. But some puff of adverse wind, some swerve in the
fair hand, spoiled all; the corporal's cap maintained its position; the
peach fell harmlessly at his feet.

"Attention!"

The plebs started, and so did the girls.

"I'll go home after that," said Miss Saucy. "The only thought left to
make life bearable is, that he'll come back after drill and pick it
up." But he did not.

Parade followed drill, and supper came after parade; and then in the
cool evening light people began to gather for band concert. What
pleasure Magnus had had there with his mother, night after night! This
time he did not want to see anybody or hear anything. Yet the evening's
witchery kept him out of his tent, and the unearthly sweetness from
some of the brass instruments drew him, little by little, into the
group around the band. Pretty soon Rig touched him on the shoulder.

"Say, Kin, Miss Dangleum wants you."

"What for?"

"Wants to show you how she's done her back hair."

"Don't get off any grinds on me to-night," said Magnus, "I'm not in the
mood."

"What shall I tell her?"

"What you like!"

"All right. I'll go back and report that you are out of town, and have
left a bear to keep house."

Which apparently he did, to judge by the shout of laughter that went up.

"Oh, do bring him!" cried a pretty voice. "I do so dote upon bears. Oh,
I think they're dear! Which one is Mr. Kindred?"

"You'll know by his eyes, when he turns round," said Miss Saucy.

"But that's the only way I can ever tell cadets apart--by their eyes,"
said Miss Midget. "Is that the reason they order 'Eyes front' so
much?--so that the officers can know which one to report?"

Another laugh followed.

"You'd better believe old Towser would know, if they hadn't any eyes at
all," said Randolph, "or if he hadn't!"

"Well, he hasn't, much," said Miss Saucy.

"Stands to reason," said Rig, "because he's got 'em all over--diffused.
In the back of his head, and on his shoulder-straps, and the white
stripe down his trousers, and the point of his nose."

"That's awfully funny!" said Miss Beguile. "Must make it awfully lively
for all of you."

"Just does. The only enjoyment he has in life is skinning cadets. So
it's 'Skin 'em! Skin 'em!' all the day long. Too much shirt-collar at
breakfast, and too little coat above belt at drill."

"And too much hair," said Mr. Carr. "I declare, when Towser comes
rubbing up and down the back of my head, I feel as if I was a baby
getting washed and dressed."

The girls clapped their hands in applause.

"Such pretty hair, too," said the Kitten, "or would be, I'm sure, if
one could see it." Mr. Carr made a profound reverence.

"Thank you so much," he said. "Awfully good of you. Wish you'd give
Towser a hint."

"Wherever did the poor man get such a name?" said Miss Beguile.

"Simple and descriptive," said Mr. Carr.

"Look here, D. T.," said Rig, "I wouldn't be as funny as I could, not
every time, don't you know. You might get the blues for disrespect.
He's sure to be round."

"And why do you call _him_ 'D. T.'?" demanded another girl.

"Doubletimes it every day," said Rig. "Gets a late in the morning, and
a cold absence at night."

"But what _can_ we do to rouse Mr. Kindred from this awful
abstraction?" said Miss Dangleum.

"Let's give him homeopathic treatment," said the Kitten. "D. T.,
double-time it over to the band and bid them play 'Love Not.'"

"I'll go," said Rig. "He won't get there till the drum beats. 'Love
Not'--I never heard of such a tune in my life."

"You will--first time you make love to the wrong girl," said Miss
Saucy. "Now go!"

"They won't do it for him," said Carr; "they _can't_--unless the Com.
or the officer in charge says so. You'll have to go yourself. Towser's
in charge."

"Send the Kitten," said Miss Dangleum. "That will just fit. Here, Puss,
draw in your claws and stretch out your paws, and go get an order for
the band to play 'Love Not.'"

So the écru dress flitted away, and the others watched with deep
interest.

"He won't do it," said Randolph.

"Yes, he will," said Miss Dangleum. "Puss is a match for the whole
canine contingent."

And so it proved. The band finished the fantasia they had in hand, took
their short rest, and struck off into the old, time-worn air.

And now everybody stopped to listen; some because they remembered it so
long ago, and some because it was so old that it was new.

Magnus Kindred knew it well. The flood of new music had spread but
slowly over his own little home region, and this air had always been
a favourite with his mother. In the old childish days, before sorrows
came, he had many a time heard her sing it. And now, amid the sweet
rendering of the band, he seemed to hear her dear voice still, and the
old words kept sounding in his ears:

      "Love not! Love not!
    The thing you love may change."

"Never!" Magnus said to himself. Not one of those four beloved people
at home could ever swerve from him. What stuff those song makers did
write!

He followed the band through the variations and interlude. Then began
the simple air again; and the words would come:

      "Love not! Love not!
    The thing you love may die."

A great pang shot through the boy's heart. _Could_ such things happen
to him? How had his mother looked? Magnus turned away from the band and
hid himself in the dark recesses of his tent.



XXII

GIRLS

 Rien de trop est un point Dont on parle sans cesse, et qu'on
 observe point.

  --LA FONTAINE.


So Miss Dangleum failed for that time. But "To-morrow is also a day,"
says the proverb. And it is not in human nature to be always insensible
to blandishments. Mr. Kindred found himself scanning his wonderful eyes
in the small glass quite oftener than was needed. He could also pick
out Miss Dangleum's red parasol clear across the plain from all its
compeers; and knew at least half of Miss Beguile's fans by experience.
She declared that he had broken a quarter of them, but this statement
is plainly incorrect.

The Point filled up to crowding as the encampment neared its close, and
introductions, walks, picnics, were multiplied, and every cadet who
liked the fun could have enough of it.

Magnus Kindred, for one, had about all he could manage, Rig's favourite
cousin was always on his hands when Rig himself was on guard or in
confinement. This happened pretty often, and as Rig was his "wife"
Magnus could not object. Chapman's sister was often turned over to him
because Chapman's best girl was also at the Point.

Then there was every now and then some plain, unnoticed girl whom
Magnus in his chivalry would look after and take out, giving her a
royal good time. There were guests at some of the houses where the
young cadet had been made welcome, and he must help amuse them. And
finally (for my hero was every inch a man), there were wits and
beauties with whom he liked to stand at least as well as the best. It
was all very enticing, and he was so lonely when his mother had gone
that petting of any sort felt good.

So that last part of August was one grand whirl, in which common sense
and right ways got drawn in and danced a breakdown. At least that
was what Cadet Kindred said of it himself in his calmer moments. For
"Kindred--late at roll-call," "Kindred--absent at supper," had been
read out too often from the blue list after parade.

Magnus was on guard the last night but one of Camp Golightly, and
between reliefs took time to foot up his accounts. What had he to
show for those weeks since his mother went away? Or (excepting only
her visit) for the whole of "Yearling Camp"? Not much, he thought to
himself with a curl of his lip. The little pleasure he had given was
easy and cheap; the pleasure he had had--well, it did not look very
bright to him now. Not very satisfactory.

It seemed rather small business to take all the sweets he could get:
compliments, flattery, and boodle, from girls to whom he neither would,
could, nor should, give more in return than a walk or two; perhaps only
the convenient phrase:

"Thanks, awfully."

And that very phrase was his mother's aversion.

And it was no end mean, to laugh at a thing and then afterwards score
it sharply. Was he still "training with the wrong crowd"--only of girls
this time?

Then he changed his ground and came up on the other side. How far had
he been a power for good in all those weeks? How much stronger or purer
had any company been for his presence? Who had learned to think sweeter
things of religion for his glad life? Whose doubts had weakened in the
light of his faith? Was anyone more ready to swear fealty to Christ
for _his_ constant witnessing to the blessedness of the service? Nay,
Cadet Kindred knew, now that he took time to think, what had ailed some
of the merrymaking. It jarred his conscience. And sometimes he had felt
it at the time.

That Sunday afternoon, when he had walked about with Miss Dangleum, and
smiled at her vapid infidelities, the twinge had been so sharp, as he
thought of his mother in the old porch at home, drawing strength and
knowledge from her open Bible, that he never did _that_ thing again.
But he had laughed at Miss Beguile's jests about church and church
service, and the very next day, in chapel, had taken the sugar plums
she offered under cover of her fan.

He had been indignant when some girl, displeased with the sermon, shook
her fist at the preacher then and there. But perhaps she had never been
taught any better--and what had been his own criticisms of that very
sermon? Just as open as he dared make them.

Cadet Kindred felt rather sick of himself, on the whole.

"That's a large place in which to keep your colours!" he said, looking
down into his grey sleeve.

In some things he had stood firm. The first brandy snap he got hold of
at Mrs. Beguile's picnic went over the cliffs at Fort Putnam, to the
great excitement of a nest of young squirrels. And the first bonbon
drugged with rum followed: first, and last.

"But, easy and cheap!" he repeated to himself. "I was not going to be
tricked into taking that stuff. I had said I wouldn't."

What else had he "said"?

Coming off next morning with O. G. P., Magnus got leave to go to the
trunkroom, and hunted out a little copy of the Church covenant which he
knew his mother had packed in with his other things. Then, under one of
the shadowing trees of Fort Clinton, he lay on the grass and read it
over.

"Unto Him, the Lord, you do now give yourself away, in a covenant never
to be revoked, to be His willing servant forever."

Was it like a good servant to listen to slighting talk about his
Master's laws? To be silent when the Name that is above every name was
lightly spoken? Could he not rise and go from any company? How long
would he be quiet if his mother's name was handled so? He did always
wince, he was glad to remember, but who had been the wiser?

"Not even a poor little storm flag!" he said bitterly to himself. "And
these are but catspaws that come to me."

Magnus turned over on his elbow, and looked across to the flagstaff,
where the colours were having a lively time in the breeze; looked and
looked, his eyes growing very grave, his lips firm.

"You're worth a half hundred of me, old comrade," he said, with a
reverent wave of his cap. What was that his mother had said in her last
letter?

"Thou, therefore, my son, endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus
Christ." Turning back after a while to his former position, Magnus
found himself face to face with a pile of muslin and lace, of which
Miss Saucy was the fair centre. She stood a little away, gazing
pensively at him, her white kids clasped in what might be either
entreaty or dismay.

"Oh, there's nothing the matter, is there?" she said. "I was _so_
afraid you'd had a sunstroke, or something. And you know you promised
me a walk this morning."

"Did I?"

"Yes, and it's very rude of you to forget it."

"Well, it is not too late for the walk," said Magnus, slipping the
little book up his sleeve, and putting himself by the young lady's
side. "Which way?"

"Round the plain. I mustn't get out of sight, because I have to walk
with Mr. Chapman at twelve."

"'Have to' expresses it."

"You shan't make fun of him," said Miss Saucy. "Of course, he's not
some people,--but then he never forgets his walks, which some people
do. What was that book you were studying?"

"Regulations."

"Blue book?"

"No, white."

"Then it was the black one. Boning discipline! I don't believe it. Not
you."

Magnus bowed.

"Let me see, then," she said. "I know it's just some old thing with a
love letter inside. Give it to me!"

Magnus drew out the little book and handed it over, but Miss Saucy was
a very bewildered girl indeed, as she turned the pages.

"_What?_" she said. "I can't make head or tail of this thing. What sort
of stuff is it, anyhow?"

"Stuff that will wear."

"It'll wear you--wear you out," said Miss Saucy. "You are at least two
years older than you were last night. Oh, I don't know anything about
religion, except the outside of course, don't you know; but that's
enough. So the Chaplain has given you the points, and you're going to
pose; Cadet Kindred, the serious man. Well, it'll be a variety. Come,
let's go; I'll be the first to have a walk with him, anyhow. Will
this do-o-o?" said the girl, drawling out her words, and bringing the
corners of her little mouth as far down as they would go. "Mr. Kindred,
what will be a profitable subject for us to discuss, as we take our
solemn way under the brooding trees that shadow the path once called
Flirtation? The low state of grace in the Corps, and what to do about
it? Then when we've settled that we might turn our brilliant light upon
the girls and go for them."

"You said you wanted to walk on the plain," Magnus answered her.

"Plain's too gay. Do you think, Mr. Kindred, you could lend me your
lovely book just till to-morrow? It might do me no end of good. And you
know how much I need it."

"The book would do you no good at all," said Magnus, trying to keep
cool. "If that is what you want, you had better read your own Bible."

"Haven't one to my name,--so there!" said Miss Saucy. "Oh, I never dare
read the Bible, for fear of what I might find. I suppose you see me
there quite often, all done up in black, and labelled like old letters.
'To be----'"

"Stop!" Magnus said, so sharply and suddenly that Miss Saucy did stop
for sheer amazement.

"Well, I vow!" she said. "I wonder what right you have to speak to me
so, Mr. Cadet Kindred."

"No right at all," said Magnus. "Only, if you play with Bible words,
you will cut your own fingers; and I'm not going to stand by and see
you do it. That is all. So if I should leave you and go back to camp,
you'll know why." And Magnus strode on at a pace quite beyond the usual
Flirtation saunter.

"I never--was--so talked to--in all my--many years of existence," said
Miss Saucy, pretending to whimper. "I know I'm an awfully bad girl--and
it's awfully sweet of you to tell me so. Such a nice time, too, when
there's nobody round to take my part. Really looks as if you _cared_,"
added she, with soft intonation. "Don't go so fast, Mr. Kindred,
please! I won't say another word--not half a word. Not if we meet a
procession of snakes. Or my best man with another girl. Or your best
girl with another man."

"You will not meet her," said Magnus. "She is too far away."

"Well, that is abominable," said Miss Saucy, as a turn of the walk
brought them face to face with another couple. "That is awfully,
savagely cruel. Oh, Nina Dangleum! Here is Mr. Kindred telling me he is
engaged to be married! How are we all to live on and smile?"

"Excuse me; I said nothing of the sort," said Magnus.

"Awfully of the sort, I should say," retorted Miss Saucy. "Ought to be,
if you're not. With a faraway girl that hides all the rest of creation."

"Then we are not to congratulate _both_ parties?" said the second man
in grey, Mr. Short.

"Yes, me, by all means--that I'm not the other girl," said Miss
Saucy. "We've been having the awfullest quarrel! I never guessed
Mr. Kindred had such a temper: he always struck me as one of the
sweet-milk division. Like the Zulu's dog, you know, that eat up all the
missionary's Bible and could never fight any--more."

"Naturally," said Magnus.

"Well, the dog didn't die--if that's what you mean," said Miss Saucy.
"Only his popularity."

"What do you know about missionaries?" said Short, with a laugh.
"That's a story made to order."

"It isn't! I guess I can hear things; I've got ears."

"Two pink shells," Mr. Short suggested. Miss Saucy made him a sweeping
courtesy.

"Positively, the first decent word I've had said to me this morning.
Mr. Kindred has been simply savage. But, do you know, Nina," she went
on, half aside, "I think he believes it suits his style. Very fetching,
don't you know. Why his eyes just glowed! If I wasn't so awfully afraid
of him, I vow I'd make him angry every day."

"Nothing left for you two, that I see, but coffee and pistols," said
Short. "I suppose you can shoot, Miss Saucy?"

"I suppose I can't."

"Shall I take the job off your hands?"

"Oh, no use!" said the girl. "Mr. Kindred can't fight. He's the Zulu's
dog."

Magnus coloured; but with a quiet steadiness of face and voice that
held the essence of bravery, he said:

"True, Oh, Miss Saucy! So, as it is to be peace and not war, shall we
walk on?"

And Miss Saucy actually behaved herself, for the rest of the way;
and declared afterwards that she never _had_ known Mr. Kindred so
fascinating.

Late in the afternoon, Rig coming into the tent was much astonished to
find Magnus with his arms on the locker, and his head on his arms.

"Whatever's to pay now?" he said. "Just seen Pretty Newcomb go by with
Carr? I wouldn't mind, Kin! There's several girls left."

"Rig," said Magnus, looking up at him, "if you bring all your brilliant
intellect to bear in September, I'm afraid the Institution will blow
up."

"Couldn't get the old thing started. Well, what is it, then? What
are you at, all by yourself here? We've been having lots of fun in D
Company."

"Good place for it," said Magnus; "your sort."

"What are you about, anyway?"

"Adding up two and two, and trying to make them six."

"Talk of blowing things up!" said Rig; "if _that_ isn't inflation!
You'll find it a quicker job, Kin, to fetch in two more, if time is any
object to you."

"When you want sense," said Magnus, "go straight to the man who hasn't
got any, and he'll give you his whole stock. I'll pit you against the
world. Clear out and curl your hair; I've got something to do."

And Magnus took from his Bible the slip of paper Mr. Upright had given
him a year ago, then turned over to the fourth chapter of the first
epistle of Peter, and put it in there for a mark. But he looked long
and steadily at the staunch words:

"Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed."

After a little Rig came and peered over his shoulder again.

"Hard at it yet?" he said.

"Yes," said Magnus, "and like to be. Just look at this! 'If ye be
reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye.' And I don't feel
happy, worth a cent. I feel just as cross as two sticks."

"But you can't take that as a _command_," said Rig, looking puzzled.
"Folks don't feel happy to order."

"Not a command, no; it merely states the case. How I should feel if the
cause were as dear to me as it ought to be."

"Well, I'd like to know what you're cross about," said Rig gloomily.
"All the girls at your feet, and never twitted with anything by the
Com. If it was me, now! You know how I shone in the blue list the other
night."

Magnus nodded.

"Well, I hadn't really done anything," said Rig; "not worth mentioning,
you know; and so I put in an explanation. And it was disallowed."

"Naturally."

"What do you mean by 'naturally'?"

"The way of the world, or the tactical part of it."

"But I wasn't going to stand it, if it was, you know; and I polished up
my buttons, brushed the top of my head, swept my face, and went to see
the Supe."

"Submitted your explanation to him?"

"Another, Kin, another, with variations. Told him I didn't really know
the act was against rules. Which I didn't, except by hearsay; and
that's not evidence in law."

"Haven't you a copy of the blue book?" demanded Magnus.

"Always sleep with it clasped to my heart, so as to know when to wake
up," said Rig. "But now, Kin, what do you think the Supe did? Passed
right over my innocent face and guileless bearing, my spotless gloves
and inky shoes, and went for me like a Bengal tiger."

"'Mr. McLean,' he said, 'ignorance in your case is no excuse, sir.
You have been reported for breaking almost every rule known to this
Institution. That will do, sir.'"

"And you came away, as usual, sadder and wiser?"

Rig heaved a deep sigh.

"Yes," he said, "'sadder and wiser' will be my motto, Kin, as long as I
stay here."

Magnus laughed and held out his hand.

"I mean to make you better that, this year," he said.



XXIII

THE GRIM GRAY WALLS

    I'm older'n you,--and I've seen things a many;
    And my experience,--tell ye what it's ben;--
    Folks that worked thorough was the ones that thriv;
    But bad work follers ye's long's ye live.

    --_Biglow Papers._


Next day the tents were struck; and the manifold delights of Camp
Golightly drifted away beyond recall. But how pretty--and how gay--the
scene was, that last morning.

A perfect day to begin with; the air crisp enough to herald the coming
fall; everything at its best, and the crowd at its largest. Mothers,
brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, and strangers, the whole Post,
and half the neighbourhood. The groups are always very varied, often
picturesque.

Here stands a tall first classman, perfectly hemmed in by the dear
people from home. His cap is off, and his face aglow; and lifted
high up in his arms is the pet of the family; the little girl's hand
straying round his neck, her soft childish dress and his gleaming
chevrons setting each other off in a very perfect way.

Beyond them is a many-coloured group of girls and dresses, but the
girls look sleepy, and the muslins a trifle tired. The small hours of
the hop last night have been too much for both. They are languidly
talking over supposed conquests, rousing up now and then to say
good-bye to special cadet friends, with many promises to come back
next June for graduation. Under another tree is another party in the
freshest of dresses, but themselves in the dumps.

"Why, Amy!" says one of the calmest of the group, "you are almost
crying!"

"Oh, it is too awful to have it all go!" said Miss Amy, never taking
her tearful gaze from the white tents. "I asked Ella this morning
how she could possibly sit there and eat all that chicken and egg. I
couldn't touch a thing!"

And beyond these again stands a camera and its attendant genii, where
a half-dozen mothers and their cadet sons are getting photographed
together.

Great army wagons pass back and forth between camp and barracks,
bearing away bedding, lockers, brooms, and looking-glasses; and over
the same short road go men in grey, with private effects too precious
for the wagon, or perhaps only a belated broom.

Out in the company streets there gathered and grew the while, this day,
an array of rubbish; old shoes and gloves, old boxes that had once
held boodle, white jars that _must_ have known tobacco, and yet had
baffled (somehow) all tactical noses. White handkerchiefs--this one,
indeed, duly marked "Smith, J." but this other, alas! filmy and fine
with embroidery and lace. Once coveted and begged for and hid away,
now tossed out among mess-hall spoons, stray towels, and broken glass.
Had it even, perhaps, belonged to the fair damsel now weeping over the
coming wreck of Camp Golightly? Take warning, young ladies, and do not
waste your pocket handkerchiefs.

As time went on, the grey element gradually faded out from about the
seats, and the white canvas began to shrink and fall from its smooth
shapeliness, with cadets clustering in and about every tent.

The drummers came, and the first drum sounded. The tents shivered and
swayed, the cadets took new positions, the breeze played over their
heads and threatened to strike the tents at its own pleasure. Another
drum, and now every eye and hand are needed to maintain even the
semblance of a camp. Another--and the pretty little white town falls
prostrate, and the grey men have the field.

Then fold and bundle up, with some cheers for the quickest; the full
band marches in, the Commandant leads off on horseback--and away goes
the grey-and-white host, plumes waving, arms glancing, all down the old
road to the officers' row, and so on to barracks. And over the plain
in all sorts of groups and combinations, goes a motley crowd of the
sovereign people, vainly striving to get there first.

Poor little Miss Amy! Your cambric handkerchief lies limp and low in D
Company street; and the man who was to keep it "always" marches past in
the battalion, his head high in air.

A day or two of freedom follow, for getting settled; a few last
bewitching walks are taken by some, while others peep into their study
books and try to brush off a little of the summer's dust which dims
that respected pile. And so comes the 1st of September.

I think Magnus Kindred was glad to get back to barracks, if only to
tackle the year which should bring in furlough, and the yearling course
certainly gave him enough to do. But who could not work with furlough
before him? and of late another thought had taken new hold of his
heart. He was but one, yet the honour of the name he bore was just so
far in his keeping. If he stood high, it would be one answer to the
taunt that religion made muffs of men. That would surely be said, if he
were low in discipline, careless in dress, idle in studies.

So for one cause and another, Magnus worked with all his might; stood
one in discipline, and in other things went steadily up. And his
example told; there was a strong, sound atmosphere about him that other
men could feel.

His dose of bitter-sweet thoughts about himself had done him good; and
though he could not help hearing and seeing many things he did not
like, join in them he would not, even if people laughed at him. More
stringent orders than any blue book shows had taken new hold of the
boy's heart, drawing him back from evil, speeding him on to good. "I
have sworn unto the Lord, and I will perform it." Magnus and the flag
had a good deal to say to each other in those days.

What busy days they were! New studies, new drills, riding among the
rest; but that was a delight. The days shortened, the girls drifted
away to less studious regions, the leaves fell--then the snowflakes;
and the winter settled down into the long, steady stride which brought
furlough nearer with every step.

January's first week sifted out several men from the yearling class;
Mr. Carr among the rest. But as for some reason Mr. Carr took up his
abode in the neighbourhood, he was still at least as useful an ally in
helping them break regulations as he had been while in the Corps.

"If you want some fun," Rig said to Magnus one day, "just hang round
the west wall of the Academic after supper."

"What about? I'm not going to put my fingers into a dark pocket."

"Nobody wants 'em in. There'll be enough without yours," said Rig. "But
Carr is going to bring up a grocery store, and I thought you might like
to see it."

"Bring up a grocery! Look out it doesn't turn into light prison for
some of you."

[Illustration: MOUNTING HEAVY GUNS IN FORT CLINTON]

However, groceries being rare in that particular locality, when Magnus
went out for his evening walk he did stroll towards the old Academic.
The night was moonless, and not overbright with even stars; but the
white spread of snow made things quite plain enough. And presently, as
Magnus stepped down the walk, he saw a dark huddle of figures near the
appointed west wall. A small sled and a very big box, with a half-dozen
cadets playing stevedore.

Then an officer came along the walk, meeting Magnus, who saluted and
passed on. The officer glanced rather curiously down towards the dark
group, but, with his mind full of something else, he merely took a
short cut across the area, and so through the sallyport from the inside.

It was at a critical moment. Box after box of chickens, mince pies,
cakes, ham, sweets, celery, and so forth, had been pounced upon, stowed
in bags, and carried off. Rig's turn came last.

"I believe it's a mistake, you all going the same way," he said, as he
seized the last bag of chickens. "I'll slip round the corner, and come
in from the plain."

So round he went in the dusky light and met Lieutenant Benton in the
very mouth of the sallyport. Rig saluted, and slipped in. But dark
as it was under the grey arch, the officer's practised eyes found
something unusual about the cadet outlines, and the next moment he
turned and gave chase.

Rig had the start, and would have got off out of sight in another
second if Mr. Benton had not suddenly shouted:

"Cadet, halt!"

Then it was all up.

"What have you there, sir?"

"Chickens, sir."

"Go to the guard-house and turn them in."

Crestfallen and sour, Rig crossed the area, set his bag down at the
door of the guardhouse, and went in with his report. Being promptly
ordered to produce his plunder, Rig stepped to the door--and behold!
one chicken only was left. The light-fingered, light-footed boys in
grey had in that two minutes rifled the bag and vanished. And Rig felt
smaller than his own chicken when he turned it in, with the big bag, to
the officer of the day.

"Just my luck!" he said gloomily. But he never knew who ate the
chickens.



XXIV

NINETY-NINE DAYS TO JUNE

                        The bargain must be,
    That, as long as I choose, I am perfectly free.
    For this is a sort of engagement, you see,
    That is binding on you, but not binding on me.

    --_Nothing to Wear._


It is impossible to put in words what furlough means to a
two-years-from-home boy. For "boy" he is still, to the dear home
group, as well as in West Point pranks and frolics. But from the time
the Hundredth Night is over there is a steadily growing pressure of
excitement. It is not long till, for themselves, the men begin to count
the hours.

A great deal of outdoor work comes with the softening skies and
freshening earth. Company drills, dress parades, make the Point all
alive again, and the cadets full of growls. Not all the prospective
laurels for perfect marching can make the means to that end a pleasure.
They have no time for it, they say; time is so precious, when you do
not want to spend it in some particular way. But rides on the road are
good, after the winter drills in the Hall; and Saturday afternoons just
perfect--except on the area. Springing grass, opening flowers, scented
air, and in the distance--June.

For at West Point June has a gift for everyone. In the first class,
graduation; to the old second class, first-class camp and privileges;
for the old third class, furlough. While the plebs become yearlings,
and call themselves the happiest of all.

As the time comes on, all sorts of tradesmen invade the Point; men with
samples of cloth for uniforms and for "cits"; with sashes, swords,
hats, gloves, helmets, and handbags; with trunks, class albums, studs,
canes, and umbrellas. Each Saturday afternoon is weighted with the most
perplexed sort of shopping. For when you have lived two years, or four
years, in a forage cap, it takes a good deal of study to know whether
you will be most Adonis-like in a stove-pipe, or a wide-awake, or a
plain straw hat. The cut of coats, the colour of trousers, cause deep
debate, as also the probable worth of one tradesman's word as against
another's.

With first-class questions Magnus had nothing this year to do, but over
one furlough point he had a sharp fight with himself. The "cit" clothes
in which he had come as a candidate were odious to him on that very
account. All the same, one way to save money was to wear them home.
So Cadet Kindred braced up mentally, and said that was just what he
would do. And then, to put an extra touch to his goodness, he thought
he would try them on and see how ugly they were; break it to himself
gently, and by degrees, before he walked out through the sallyport in
open day.

It was a splendid plan. For lo and behold! under the hard, despised
West Point training, Mr. Kindred had grown and filled out and developed
until he could not possibly wear those old clothes.

Magnus tossed the coat up to the ceiling, regardless of what might
happen to the plaster, and joined the shopping band that very day.

It was delightful now, in the soft spring weather, to go out at every
release from quarters, for a stroll round the plain, or down by the
river. How lovely Flirtation was! An army of "Dutchman's breeches" held
all the best posts among the rocks by the wayside, scaling the cliffs
even down by the landing. And in the deeper shade north of Battery
Knox, whole beds of dog-tooth violets filled the spots of damper
ground, lifting their elegant heads like the highbred beauties that
they are.

Among the tougher growths, iron wood and black birch were charming
with their tresses, and the young tufts of maple and oak and hickory
leaves were a joy to see. Shad blossoms and dogwood "picked out" the
green; from some far-down hidden corner the spice bush spiced the air.
Saxifrage spread whole sheets of bloom; and Lowell's "dear common
flower" gleamed everywhere.

And then the girls came. Some "opening buds" that had come fresh from
Paris; and some early birds, besides robins and song sparrows. The
company drills had lookers-on; the walks round Flirtation were not
always games of solitaire.

Among the visitors who appeared thus early, was a certain Mrs. Granton,
with two girls of her own, and two belonging to other people--Miss Bee
and Miss Clive. The Granton girls were just average damsels, but, of
course, having a gay brother in the first class, they went everywhere,
and knew everybody. Miss Clive was an heiress and played ditto, ditto
upon yet stronger ground.

In the wake of these triumphant young ladies came Miss Bee with just
funds enough to pay her own bills, but no particular store of either
wealth or beauty.

She was a sensible girl, had a sensible little face, with pleasant eyes
and a merry mouth, but had not knowledge to make the most of herself
in the way some others did; nor, it may be, the inclination. No poppy
leaves stained her cheeks, no powder whitened her forehead, no foreign
coils of hair swelled out the moderate portion which was of home
growth. And no extra-high heels put her further up in the world than
she was by nature. Her shoes were "common sense"; her gloves were large
enough to button all the way; her parasol was brown, and she had a
trick of saying nothing she did not mean.

No girl who behaves herself will ever be slighted at West Point; cadets
are too courteous and too chivalrous as well. But in view of all I have
told of Miss Bee, you will easily guess that her place in the public
interest was small. Everyone was polite to her, but no one missed her,
or looked for her, or wondered where she was. Cadets never scowled at
each other for her sake; and pretty girls never cared what she had on.
Yet perhaps among them all there was not one who tasted every crumb of
pleasure with such keen relish as Miss Bee. She had had so little of it
in her life, poor child! This was her first real outing. No wonder West
Point was fairyland, and every cadet a born prince in disguise.

At first, indeed, she was terribly afraid of them; conscious, perhaps,
of her own lack of "fetching" qualities, but by degrees that changed a
little. The innocent colour started to her cheeks as readily as ever,
when some grey uniform came up with:

"Good-evening, Miss Bee. How did you enjoy the Light Battery this
morning?"

But when none of them came, when they were all swept away in the gay
whirl of beauty and fashion, and she sat solitary with Mrs. Granton,
this was not quite so easy to bear, Mabel found, as at first. And many
a brave struggle for victory went on under the old trees before parade,
and Saturday afternoons at the Hotel, and in her own room. Nobody
guessed it, and she never told.

It was no great wonder if, to this rather dull young life, thus
suddenly set down at the edge of the bright whirl, the hero of all
romance, past, present, and future, should array himself in bell
buttons and grey dress coat. It was also quite natural that this hazy
individual should develop into the face and figure of Cadet Charlemagne
Kindred, with no fault on his part, and no special folly on hers. In
truth, it was some time before the child picked up a dictionary of
herself, with definitions.

But Magnus was undoubtedly one of the handsomest men there, with keen
eyes that could be wondrously soft upon occasion, a winning smile, and
a laugh that was refined and pure as well as gay. And then, as may
happen, his good intentions led him perilously far. He thought the girl
rather neglected by her own party, and so took special pains to see
and to speak to her whenever she was about. He asked her for a walk,
when there was danger of her being left behind; asked her opinion,
right over the head of Miss Dashaway, and (I shall have to confess it)
enjoyed the quick flutter of colour that lit up her face whenever he
came near. For Magnus had no thought of risk in the matter; he was far
too much of a gentleman--too much of a man--to try to draw her on for
his own amusement. He just meant to be kind to her, though he did pick
up a little pleasure for himself as he went along. Now and then he
took refuge with her when other girls bored him; made her a "previous"
against Miss Flirt's advances, and never noticed that all the while he
was drinking in silent flattery by the cupful; getting his own mind so
befogged, indeed, that he could not see how swiftly and surely one poor
little craft was heading for a very dangerous coast.

Cadet Kindred was not a vain fellow, but what man does not feel the
bewitchment of having eyes watch for him and look up to him, even
though he be too careless of them to know their colour? What man does
not like to have his words counted and treasured as if they held the
distilled wisdom of the sages and the ages? And Magnus was also minus
a dictionary, and did not know how to spell things one bit. The girl
_must_ have a good time, he told himself, she could not be left riding
at anchor while all the rest set sail, and what might happen if he too
often played pilot, to that he never gave a thought. All _that_ was in
the realm of impossibility, in this connection. Wise men and poor girls.

It looked so impossible to other eyes, and the girl kept her own
counsel so well that it drew little notice. Rig did once or twice ask
Magnus if he was getting rattled with that little Bee girl, and some
others remarked that Kin was practising how to flirt when the time
came; but such words were empty air to Magnus. It was well for all
parties that June stepped in, with its absorbing demands.

There were plenty of men who did more flirting and frolicking now than
ever, but not so Magnus Kindred. Everything dropped out of his life but
home and furlough. Each night he wrote to his mother about three lines,
telling her what the "Exam" had done with him that day, and in all
the other between-times he was either freshening up his knowledge of
some hard points of study, or he was taking long walks with June, and
June only, to clear his brain. If he heard voices, or caught a glimpse
of grey coats or red parasols, Magnus sheered off, scaling the rocks
or scrambling down the cliffs to some breakneck spot, quite beyond
reach for any cadet who had girls in tow. There he would lie on the
moss and listen to the river, or the bell notes of the thrush; listen
without hearing, as he planned his journey home. He would take such
a train, and make such a connection, and jump off at the old station
at just such a time. He would not tell them quite when to expect him,
because they would be sure to come to meet him, and some of them would
cry--right there before everybody. And it was a bother to attend to
your luggage with three girls round your neck. But then Magnus laughed
and coloured too. There could hardly be _three_--yet somehow two seemed
even more objectionable. And still if he sent no word, and they did
not meet him, there was a good half hour lost from that end of his
furlough.

So he argued it, back and forth. And all the while, poor little Miss
Bee was weeping secret tears over the seeming defection of her knight.
She _must_ have displeased him somehow.

"My sisters can hardly wait until I get home!" said Mr. Randolph one
night.

"There's another man's sister can hardly wait until I do," said Clive.



XXV

FURLOUGH

    Den away, away, for I can't wait any longer.
        Hooray! Hooray! I's goin' home!

    --_Old Shady._


It is strange how some event towards which you have been working, and
which seemed to fill earth and sky till you reached it, at once then
sinks down and becomes hardly distinguishable from the plain. So passed
by the examination to Magnus Kindred.

In fact everybody is so fagged out by the 12th of June, tired with
work, with gaiety and excitement, that feeling seems swallowed up of
high pressure. This may be one reason why the bad success of other men
affects so little those who have won through. Exceptionally strong as
class feeling is at West Point, the dropped names seem to make very
slight impression. And in some cases, of course, there is no surprise.
When a man bones nothing but mischief, and tries to crowd into the
three weeks before examination the study which should have filled six
months, June is not always kind to him. Unless, indeed, he be one of
those men who are pure mathematics--and even then the discipline column
may cut him down. So it was with small surprise that Magnus heard
Chapman's name among the "found deficient." Chapman did not whimper,
but he took it hard.

"It's that beastly calculus!" he confided to Magnus, in the hurried
moments of parting. "Oh, yes! I know what you mean by raising your
eyebrows, but a man couldn't live here if he didn't run it now and
then."

"But you see a man can't always live here if he does," said Magnus.

"Bosh! Yes, he can. Only they don't all run against old Towser every
time, as I did. No, it wasn't that at all, it was the calculus."

And doubtless, in great measure, it was. Another boy, from far away,
fairly came to tears.

"I don't see how I am to go home!" he said. "I don't know what my
mother will say!"

While another, who had got a turn-back, liked so little what his mother
_did_ say that he gave her a sharp little lecture on the Graduation
ground.

"I can't tell what makes you go on so!" he burst forth. "I'm only
turned back. Lots of men are sent away altogether. Why do you talk like
that? What's the matter?"

Poor mothers! It is often pathetic to hear them explain the case to
other people.

"He's a good boy, Miss Smith; but you know he has always been delicate.
Hard study never agreed with him." (True, this last.)

"You see, Mrs. Brown, he has had such trouble with his eyes that I
wonder he has kept up at all. I really must speak to the Superintendent
about the study lights. Then these early recitations. Why, at home we
never thought of waking him up till eight o'clock, and then gently, you
know, and by degrees. And now he says that gun just goes through his
head without a word of preparation. I suppose, really, that is what
ails his eyes."

"Everything here is so wretchedly mismanaged!" commented a wise and
sympathetic damsel. "The cadets are abused at every turn. I don't see
how they stand it. It is the meanest place!"

"Well, I've done what I could to straighten things," said a beaming
matron. "Look at this bag,--absolutely worn out in the service. It has
brought Tom _everything_--from cigars up. And when he wants money, he
has only to say so."

Strange, that with such care Tom should ever grumble at
anything--especially regulations.

But graduation has come and gone, the graduates have scattered; some
for home, some for Europe, some to be married "on graduation leave."
For three months they have "the world before them, where to choose."

The furlough men, too, are scattered, yet more widely and individually,
speeding away on the spider's web of railways that covers the country.
Class supper was over, changed from a gay revel to a less brilliant
memory, and Magnus Kindred went whirling along towards home. And the
great question of taking them all by surprise was still unsettled.

The home folks, however, had their own ideas on the subject, and for at
least two days before Magnus could possibly come, they had met every
train from the East; Mrs. Kindred, Rose, and Violet. Cherry went the
first time, but after that absented herself on one plea or another. And
so on that sweet June afternoon, when the train slowed up to let off
the one passenger and the one trunk, the three were in hiding behind
the station.

No one could ever describe what that first home-coming was to Magnus.
For miles and hours the excitement in the boy's heart had been working
itself up to white heat, as point after point rose up to give him
welcome. Here a cliff and there a hill; the schoolhouse near by, the
church further off; if he had only had a dozen straw hats, I think
eleven of them would have gone out of the window, for pure joy.

But the little platform was empty, save of officials; not a creature
got out of the train but Magnus, and not one was waiting to get in.
Not a figure broke the broad June sunlight that filled the old road
towards home. But when he had hurriedly tramped down the steps, he
found himself in his mother's arms, with the two girls sobbing for joy
on either side.

Of the next few minutes, I think no one of them could afterwards give
much account. Then Magnus, with one arm round his mother, gave that
hand to Violet, and the other to Rose, and so they walked along. How
they talked!--with tongues once set free; but most of all, how they
looked at each other. Mother and son had met within the year, but the
two girls gazed at their handsome brother with a surprised delight that
could never have enough.

"But I had forgotten that you were so brown, Magnus," said Rose.

"Drills."

"You always were straight," said Violet, "but now----"

"Bracing up."

"And your hair is _so_ short," said Rose.

"Regulations."

Then how they all laughed and hugged each other over again, for there
were only the wild birds to see.

"Well, certainly, if brevity be the soul of wit, you have improved in
one line," said Rose.

"They teach it out there," said Magnus. "'Mr. Kindred, your head is on
one side, sir!'--'Yes, sir. Which side, sir?'"

"And what did you get for being so saucy?" asked the mother, as the
laugh died away.

"Nothing that time. Even Towser can't skin a man unless he gets hold of
him. But wherever is Cherry? When you all came out of the first bush, I
thought she would jump out of the second."

"She's at home," said Rose. "We wanted her to come, and she wouldn't."

"But she did the first time," said Violet eagerly; "the first day we
thought you might come."

"Oh, ho!--and as I didn't show up then she put on her high-heeled
shoes," said Magnus. "Girls are all just alike the world over."

"No, they are not!" cried both the charming specimens then present.
"And you shall not say that of Cherry. She is like nobody else--and
nobody else is like her."

And privately, Magnus thought his own two sisters very unlike most
other girls. With their fresh, unjaded faces, undoctored complexions,
untrammelled feet and waists, and unspoiled minds, they made a
wonderful sweet contrast to Miss Dashaway and Miss Flirt. Magnus had
not known how his estimate of women had run down among the crowd till
he found it mounting up again, ten degrees at a time.

Even Cherry's absenting herself--it provoked him heartily, and he felt
himself much injured, but it was after all a refreshing change after
Miss Dangleum's ways. Yes, demonstrations were the man's business, and
in his present mood Magnus felt quite equal to them, could he but get
hold of the right person.

No half-grown girl in half-long dresses appeared, however, as they
reached the house, but for a few minutes Magnus had all he could
manage. The old dog (prudently left at home) was nearly as wild over
the meeting as his young master; jumped upon him, clung to him, danced
round him, whimpered, whined, and barked for joy. It was not five
minutes before the two were rolling down the grass slope together,
then running a sharp race, and then flying all over the old house from
room to room. Magnus shouldered his trunk and rushed upstairs with it,
and Plato dashed after him, wakening all the echoes that were anywhere
about. The two girls, putting rolls in the oven and setting on cream
and butter, almost danced in their tiptoe joy; the mother in the small
sitting-room hid her face in her hands, and cried and gave thanks. Just
to hear that boy's step overhead, what was it like? And then to have
the pair come racing down the old stairs when supper was ready, Plato
barking in a perfect scream of delight;--do you wonder that the prayer
for a blessing was spoken low and falteringly? or that a hush filled
all the room for some moments thereafter?

Then the three busied themselves earnestly about their boy's supper,
and the boy also lent his assistance; Plato lying on the floor and
winking at him. The old dog was afraid to really go to sleep lest he
should lose sight of his young master.

"I suppose her High Mightiness expects me to put on my war paint
to-morrow, and to go and ca--ll," said Magnus, drawling out the last
word with ridiculous intonation.

"Who? Cherry? Now, Magnus, you shall not call her that," said Rose.

"Shall not, hey? I will call her anything I like," said Magnus.

"Well, go on, then, and do it," cried Violet, with a laugh, "for here
she is."

And in more confusion than he expected from himself, after this
bravado, Cadet Kindred started up from the table and found himself face
to face with his old playmate.

Cherry had the advantage of him; she had seen the photograph, and was
partly prepared for what she saw now--not quite. But to Magnus, with
eyes full of the gleesome, outspoken girl of sixteen, this vision of a
tall, slender maiden of eighteen summers, with something of a woman's
shy reserve floating round her like the daintiest filmy veil, was
altogether new. He had seen nothing like it. She was so lovely, so
dainty, so sweet--if any epithets presented themselves, they died on
his tongue.

And the girl, too, had caught her breath; the living presence is always
so far beyond the picture. All her nicely prepared words of welcome
took to their heels, and Cherry held out her hand and said simply:

"How do you do?"

Magnus got hold of the hand, and kept it; held it fast while he pushed
and pulled chairs about to give her a place by himself. The hand was
something tangible--especially as it was not quite ready to be held.

"How do I do?" he repeated, as she took her seat: "you don't care. Why
didn't you come to meet me?"

"I think you had enough at the station."

"And you had enough at home, I suppose."

"Enough to do--yes."

"Well, how can you spare the time to be here now?" said Mr. Kindred,
pursuing his inquiries. A girl who did not wear even the semblance of a
heart upon her sleeve was something new of late, and exasperating. "It
is very frivolous work to sit by and see me eat supper."

"It will be less so, when I get something to eat myself," Cherry
answered demurely. "But I can wait still longer, if it is not certain
the supply will hold out."

"There! now you have got it," cried Rose, clapping her hands; "and
good for you, too. Hectoring her in that style! Give her some berries,
Magnus, before you eat another one. Cherry picked two thirds of them
with her own fingers."

"She did!" said Magnus, reddening in spite of himself under Cherry's
fire; second classman on furlough and presumptive first sergeant though
he was. "That explains why I've had to empty the sugar bowl. I'm sorry
I have made such a raid, Cherry, but you shall have what is left."

And swiftly he drew everything as near the girl's plate as the dishes
could find room. Bread plate and butter plate, cake basket, cheese,
cream pitcher, water pitcher, and the wreck of the broiled chicken.
Then seizing the berry bowl Magnus began to pile the sweet wild
strawberries upon her plate, adding slowly and skilfully till they ran
down to the very edge and rose up in the middle a red fragrant cone.

"How will that do to begin?" he said. "Will you have some sugar?--but I
suppose not, as you picked them yourself and put all the tartness into
mine."

The other three looked on, laughing and interested; but now Cherry
was out of her depth. She looked down at the strawberry hill, at the
dishes, then glanced round at Magnus. What did he mean? Was he really
vexed? Could he really think? It was the fairest kind of a look, so
earnest and questioning. What do you mean? it said.

I think Cadet Kindred knew very promptly what he meant, and saw some
things clearly which had been hanging about in a sort of uncertain
haze. And thus in answer to her shy questioning, Cherry met a look so
keen and merry and full of mischief, full of she hardly knew what, that
her eyes fell and the pink flushes came hurrying over her face.

Then Magnus laughed. He had the vantage now which belonged to him, and
he felt better.

"Cherry," he said, "you are a transparent humbug! Mother, will you give
me a cup of tea?"

"I think you are an extremely rude boy," said Mrs. Kindred, putting
in an extra lump of sugar the while. "If these are your West Point
manners, you will need a few terms at some other school."

"West Point manners are all packed away with my dress coat. This is the
original Magnus variety."

"It is good to know," said Rose. "Here we have all been rubbing _our_
manners up, to receive you properly."

"Oh, that's it, is it?" said Magnus, turning to gaze at Cherry. "Good
to know, as you say. I did suspicion it was something got up for my
express benefit."

"Let her alone, and finish your supper," said Mrs. Kindred. "That is,
if you ever intend to finish."

"Emphatically I do!" said Magnus. "If I didn't, I could never begin
again, and that would be a loss out here. Cherry, give me just a few
berries off your plate. I am bashful about taking any more out of the
dish. The sugar has given out, too," he added, dropping his voice; "and
these will not want any."

Poor Cherry!--she literally found not a word to say, but sat looking
down at her plate in helpless silence, as the hands she remembered
so well conveyed away part of its contents. Then Rose came with a
replenished sugar-bowl and set it down by him. But Magnus waved it away.

"Thank you, no," he said. "These are too sweet for sugar. How do you
suppose Cherry worked it, to get them all on her plate?"

"Crazy boy!" said Rose, "you put them there yourself. Magnus, is your
dress coat here?"

"Truly. Had to bring it along, lest a war should break out before I get
back. May need it yet----" with an indescribable inflection which only
Cherry caught.

"Then if you _have_ done, as mother says," said Violet, "go straight
upstairs and put it on, and come down and show yourself."

"Put on my dress coat, after such a supper," quoth Magnus. "I think I
will!"

"Don't be foolish," said Rose. "Go at once, if you want pancakes for
breakfast."

"Make it waffles----"

"Very well, then, waffles," cried both the girls, laughing at him. "Now
Magnus, go! While your hair is short."



XXVI

CHERRY

    'Tis the middle watch of a summer night.
    The earth is dark, but the heavens are bright;
    Naught is seen in the vault on high,
    But the moon and the stars and the cloudless sky,
    And the flood that rolls its milky hue,
    A river of light, in the welkin blue.

    --_Culprit Fay._


And thus it was, that in ten minutes or so there entered upon the scene
a fine presentation of a West Point cadet: short hair, white collar,
bell buttons, and all the rest.

Just inside the door Magnus paused, drew himself up, and gave a
comprehensive military salute; then came on with quick, regulation
step, halted in front of Cherry, and took off his cap with the true
cadet swing.

"Thought you'd be out, Miss Reserve. I saw you clear across the plain.
Now Cherry, you must ask how I could possibly see so far."

"What would you answer if I did?" Cherry said diplomatically. This
photograph in person was not easy to talk to.

"I should remark that I can always see some people, across the world.
Then you must put your head on one side and say: 'But you know you have
_such_ eyes, Mr. Kindred!'"

"Well, I certainly shall not say _that_," Cherry declared, venturing a
look.

"Magnus, you are a young peacock," said his mother.

"Fine feathers, mammy. How do you like West Point, Miss Reserve? Is
this your first visit? Very warm, isn't it? What do think of our view?"

Oh, how they laughed at him, Cherry and all! Magnus kept a grave face.

"Will you walk with me after supper?" he went on. And Cherry's sweet
eyes opened full on him, to see what he meant.

"That is not the way at all," said Magnus (approving it highly, all the
same). "You must put your head on the other side now and say: 'Really,
Mr. Kindred--he! he!--I'm awfully sorry--but I've given all my walks
away.' Then I shall answer fiercely: 'Tell me one of the men, and I'll
go fight him and get it back.' Now, Cherry, clasp your hands and say
pleadingly: 'Oh, no! Please don't, Mr. Kindred! I remember now--there
is one walk just before breakfast. Would that be too early for you?'
And I answer practically: 'Nothing is too early for me, Miss Reserve,
after you have opened your eyes.' And then you must give me an admiring
glance and say: 'Oh, don't talk of _my_ eyes, Mr. Kindred!' Then the
drum-beats, and I double-time it into camp."

"You need not say 'you'--I should never say such things," Cherry
declared; this vision of other girls acting as a tonic, though she
laughed with the rest.

"Of course not! You do not say anything to me," retorted Magnus.

"She is too polite to interrupt you," said Rose. "Do you mean to say
that West Point girls talk like that?"

"Some of the girls. Cherry will when I have walked with her a few
times."

Cherry glanced up in quick denial, meeting then the aforesaid eyes
looking so handsome and competent and full of frolic and power that her
own beat a hasty retreat.

"And you walk with such girls?" demanded Violet.

"Oh, yes--" Magnus said easily. "One cannot be uncivil just because
they are complimentary."

"But before breakfast!" said Rose. "Is there no other half hour in the
day that would do?"

"My dear girl, it's not _that_ half hour in particular; it is every
half hour they can get. You wouldn't have them pink and white their
cheeks for nothing."

"Pink their cheeks?"

"Why, yes," said Magnus. "Pink them--frost them. I'm sure I don't know
how it's done."

"You are telling traveller's tales," said Mrs. Kindred gravely.

"Well, I like that!" said Magnus. "Why, mammy, they _all_ do it.
Clinker says so. At least not all, I suppose. Of course, there are
exceptions."

"Charlemagne"--began Mrs. Kindred. But at this word Magnus turned
to her and "stood attention," bracing up to the fullest extent, and
saluting with such profound gravity and respect that the rest all
shouted, and the mother's face gave way.

"There is no doing anything with you," she said. "You must give them no
end of trouble at West Point. Go upstairs and take off that toggery,
and see if you can be a reasonable boy."

"I've got to give Cherry her walk first," said Magnus. "She has never
walked with a real live cadet; and she may as well practise on me
before she undertakes the rest of the Corps next summer."

"I look like that," said Cherry, with some scorn.

"Very much like it, I should say," responded Magnus. "I know how it
will be. 'Say, Kindred, who's that awfully nice girl you've got on
hand? Introduce me, won't you? Your sister, aint she? Well, don't let
her promise all her walks to those spoony fellows. You want her to have
a good time, you know.'"

Magnus hit it off with excellent mimicry, and the room was in a buzz of
amusement.

"Then I shall say," he went on, "that my sisters are in quite another
package, and that to ensure her having a good time, she has promised
all her walks to me."

"She hasn't at all," said Violet.

"She will--by that time," said Magnus confidently; enjoying the
pulsating colour in Cherry's face, and comparing it with the unmoved
tinting of poppy leaves. "Why, even to-night she'll not walk home with
anybody but Cadet Kindred, in full canonicals."

"Magnus!" said his mother, "I think you are absolutely beside yourself."

"Do cadets all talk in that style?" demanded Rose.

"Not all so brilliantly as I do, by any means, but in the same general
way."

"Then I think they need a professor of common sense at West Point."

"And I think you had better go to bed and to sleep," said Violet.
"We'll walk home with Cherry. Your brain is getting overexcited."

"Silence and solitude will calm it down," said Magnus. "If you all go,
there will be a chatter, but Cherry and I know each other so well that
there is no need to speak. She will not try to keep me, mammy; I'll be
right back."

There is no doubt but Cherry was laughing when they set out, partly
for nervousness, but also in part for the mere infectious atmosphere
of frolic. She gave no sign, however, being much under the spell of
the tall, erect figure at her side. Whenever she looked up and tried
to throw off the glamour, one glint of the bell buttons brought it on
worse than before.

"Aren't we walking very fast?" said Magnus mildly.

"But you told your mother you would be right back," said Cherry.

"From your front door--not from ours." The laugh rippled out at that,
as Cherry moderated her pace.

"No use, you see," said Magnus, falling into an easy saunter. "I can
do the double faster than you can. I knew you meant to scoot away by
yourself, the minute I went to change myself into a cit."

"Who told you?" said Cherry.

"You."

Silence fell upon this; then Magnus began again:

"You see, I really wanted to have you alone awhile--I wanted to ask
tidings of an old friend of mine. I thought perhaps you could tell me
where to find her; girls always seem to know about girls."

"Oh, I do not!" said Cherry hastily, running over in her mind all the
girls she had ever heard of. "You should ask Rose."

"Rose doesn't know everything. I dare say you can tell me if she has
moved off. I thought so much of her!" said Magnus pensively, gazing
up at the stars. "We used to be very intimate. I left my heart in her
keeping--whatever she did with it. Why--you will hardly believe me--but
she used to live here, in your house. And when I was going away to West
Point she kissed me right at this very gate."

"She didn't!" cried Cherry hotly, and then hung her head.

"Oh, you do know her then?" said Magnus. "Why didn't you say so before?
And where do you suppose she probably is now?"

Cherry resolutely stopped and faced him; what though the full moonlight
effect well nigh swept off her self-possession.

"Magnus," she said, "you are talking great nonsense. It may be the West
Point fashionable way of talking sense, but we are plain folks out here
and have not had your advantages."

And here Magnus made a bow so profound that it sent Cherry's words to
the right-about.

"What next?" said Magnus. "That is all more or less true, so far, but
well begun is only half done."

"Oh, it is no use to talk to you!" said Cherry. "And it never was, for
that matter."

"_My_ talking is of some use, however," said Magnus. "I have quite
succeeded in bringing myself back to your recollection. What more did
you want to say, pretty girl?"

"That you are extremely silly," said Cherry, with the laugh getting
into her voice.

"There is no contenting these women of sense!" said Magnus. "If I fib,
she scolds: if I tell truth, she flouts me. If Derby drill will only
handle this line of approaches, I shall learn how, in time. Don't walk
so fast, wise damsel."

"Will you come in and see papa to-night?" said Cherry, not slackening
her pace in the least.

"Well, hardly," said Magnus. "I like to make it all safe with the
daughter before I rush into the paternal presence."

If Cherry had been that sort of a girl, I think she would have lent
him a very earnest and hearty little cuff. As it was, she gave him
one hopeless glance and slipped through the little gate, as her next
neighbour would have said, "spryer'n an eel."

But quick steps were play to Magnus, and before Cherry's foot had
touched the doorstone he was beside her. His hands met round but not
touching her, putting the girl in a charmed circle of space; and the
strong, clear voice chanted out an old playtime couplet:

    "Open the ring and let her in,
      And kiss her when you get her in."

"Oh, Magnus! do hush!" Cherry said desperately. "You are altogether
wild to-night. And everybody will find it out!" she added, as if that
doubled the case. She made a quick motion to dive under "the ring" and
get away, which was quite fruitless.

"Stand still," Magnus admonished her. "Unless you want the prison walls
to converge, as in that old tale of the Inquisition. I am going to put
you straight through the catechism. First of all, will you confess that
you are a humbug and a fraud?"

"I am only myself," Cherry faltered, but standing so still now that she
hardly dared breathe.

"Only yourself--a very good answer. Well, I never want you to be
anything else, more or less. Do you understand?"

"The words are tolerably plain," said Cherry.

"Then if you are 'only yourself,' why didn't you welcome me home?"

"What did you want me to say?" said Cherry, with again a little break
in her voice.

"Say?" repeated Magnus. "You should have thrown up your hands and eyes,
and then taken down the dictionary and used every word there was in it."

But now Cherry laughed.

"You would have had a pretty mixed dose, if I had," she said.

"Well, that is past," said Magnus; "you can't do it now. So you must
have the catechism. Are you glad to see me?"

"Very."

"You are delighted?"

"Yes"--a little slower.

"Out of your wits with joy?"

"No," said Cherry; "you are the only person out of his wits."

"Ready to do anything I ask you?"

"In reason"--again slowly.

"Out of reason?"

"No."

"You will dream of me to-night?"

"I hope not."

"You will go wherever I want you to while I am here?"

"I--think so."

"And you will walk with me three times a day at West Point and with
nobody else?"

"I shall not be at West Point. Magnus, do stop fooling and let me go."

"Bid me good-night, then."

"Good-night."

"I mean the way we said good-bye."

"That is the way I said good-bye," Cherry answered.

"It wasn't the way _I_ said good-bye," said Magnus. "_This_ was
the way. And this is the way I say good-night. Cherry, you are a
transparent fraud."

"But you must go," Cherry urged, very grave and quiet now. "If you do
not go, you never can come again!" she added, as a last argument.

"What a wise girl! I believe she could tackle warped surfaces."

"Are they any harder to manage than you are?" said Cherry. "You
know"--but she checked herself. It would not do to mention her father
again, even to save his being waked up by all this talking under his
window.

"Know what?"

"Less than you think," said Cherry coolly.

"The professors have been trying to din that into me for the last two
years," said Magnus, "but I never thought to have you take it up. What
were you going to say?"

"I shall not tell you."

"Sugar and spice," quoted Magnus. "Shows what I have to expect at my
first wild frontier post."

"I can tell you what to expect before that," said Cherry. "If you stay
here moonshining any longer, you 'will be pale to-morrow,' like your
namesake in Dickens."

"Then you can hand over some of your pinks," said Magnus. "Besides,
my dear, I must inform you of a well-known West Point fact: truth
misapplied ceases to be useful. Mr. Peter Magnus was storing his good
looks to propound a certain question next day. Whereas I, having
settled it to-night----"

But just there Cherry made a quick movement of her pretty head, stooped
under the enclosing arms, and was out of sight in a second.

Magnus ran down the hill, whistling at the top of his power. I am not
sure that Cherry knew what he whistled; and I doubt if he knew himself;
but I think it was "The Girl I Left behind Me."

"My dear boy," said Mrs. Kindred, as her cadet came in, "you forget
that it is night in these Western regions. Have you been round the
neighbourhood whistling people up?"

Magnus threw himself down on the floor at her feet.

"Mammy, if you'd not been allowed to whistle for two years, you would
know how good it feels."

"Not allowed to whistle? What could comfort you?" said the mother,
laying her hand caressingly on his head. "Well, I suppose if three
hundred boys got to whistling, the effect might be rather powerful."

"What kept you so long, boy?" said Rose.

"Cherry. She is a rather slow girl, sometimes."

"She isn't!" cried Violet. "_Never!_ She is just the quickest girl
going."

"Cherry--as I have found her," said Magnus gravely.

"Do all cadets tell fibs?" inquired Rose.

"Unless I am a shining exception, they do."

"Well, do they all look like you?" said Violet.

"Making allowance for the difference of men," said Magnus, with easy
assurance.

"What are those things on your arm for?"

"Rank, power, and responsibility. They are not 'things,' they are
chevrons."

"What's the sense of cutting your hair so short?"

"So as to see better how to skin us for 'too much shirt collar,'"
replied Mr. Kindred.

"Girls," said the mother, "you must really let him go to bed. I do not
think he half knows what he is about."

"Don't I, though!" cried Magnus, springing up. "Just one hour and a
half ago tattoo beat, and I wasn't there to hear it."

And once more the cap did duty in the air, as Magnus gave a tolerably
quiet version of the class yell.

"Go, child," his mother repeated, smiling at him.

"Yes, I must," said Magnus. "Cherry said I should be pale to-morrow. It
is worth while going to sleep, with no reveille gun ahead."



XXVII

OFF LIMITS

    Forgotten the sounds of drum and fife,
    Forgotten the winter days so drear;
    But all was keen with the glad new life
    That throbs in the veins in the furlough year.

    --_Howitzer of 1891._


It was just like the cross grain of human nature that without a sound
but the singing of birds to rouse him, our young soldier should wake up
at precisely reveille gun time. In fact he did it for three days, to
his great disgust; and then, as he said of himself, learned to know how
happy he was.

Of course, this first morning at home, with everything before him
except drills and regulations, going to sleep again was impossible.

So with the sublime unconsciousness of other people's slumbers which
marks young men of his age, Magnus lay still and began to whistle. And
with that other line of forgetfulness which shows the inferiority of
the feminine mind, there was not a woman in the house but would have
given her best sleep to hear him.

They were not asleep, however, but up and stirring; and it was perhaps
some closing door or opening window, or the long unheard voice of the
coffee mill, which reminded Cadet Kindred that in these regions there
was no preparatory drum; and that such a noise as he had been making
would quite rule out the thought of any private suggestions at his
door. Wherefore, he had better get up. But what fun--to dress as he
liked, in what he liked, and be as long as he liked about it.

With these thoughts came another to hasten his motions: would Cherry
come to breakfast? And if she did, then just when would she come? And
here Magnus paused before a piquant illustration of the young lady
herself, drawn from memory--or, as the _real_ novelists put it, "which
had been photographed on his heart in one brief moment." And thus it
seemed:

A tall, delicately formed girl, with dark hair, which did not crinkle
and curl like his own, but parted in shining waves and rings; a
complexion colourless in general, but where the rosy tints came and
went like a pink cloud, in swift pulsations. The eyes--no, Mr. Kindred
thought he had not a fair look at her eyes last night, and that was one
thing to do to-day. Also her hand was a soft and fresh thing to touch.
And at this point Magnus opened his door and passed out.

On the way downstairs he peeped into his mother's room, but no one
was there, and he went straight on to a small room on the first floor
which was a sort of offshoot from the house, and hardly bigger than a
good-sized bay window.

But the picture he found there Magnus never forgot.

The room had been his father's summer study. Too cold for winter use,
but in June perfection, with every window open to the air. Roses and
honeysuckles climbed up and ran across and strayed in; amid the tangle
birds sang and twittered and builded. Further off were cattle and
chickens, with an old drum major of a turkey cock strutting before the
barnyard throng. The scent of hayfields was mingled with the yet rarer
fragrance of new-mown grass.

If the room had been larger, the minister's old library would have made
small show; but as it was, the strips of wall between the windows were
quite well covered. It was a very old affair in every way; leather
covers much worn with handling, shutting in truths that were but the
brighter for much believing. Very old-fashioned books. You could not
find a copy of "Why I am a Doubter"; nor a single treatise on "The
Eternal Equilibrium of Things." The glad toiler in Christ's vineyard
had had no use for "The Trammels of Faith, and how I Got beyond Them";
and as little for "The Proper Sphere and Limit of the Bible, Set Forth
and Defined."

But there was Baxter's "Call to the Unconverted," which the minister
himself had also preached; with Bunyan's "Holy War between Diabolus
and the Town of Mansoul," the which he himself had also waged; there
was "The Saint's Everlasting Rest," upon which he now had entered.
There was also old Matthew Henry's "Commentary" in its six volumes,
which gave people so much to do on the plane of the lower criticism,
that they had small chance to wish for the higher; with Fox's "Book of
Martyrs," and "Lives of the Port Royalists," and Doddridge's "Rise and
Progress of Religion in the Soul."

Only two chairs were in the room: one, where inquirers had so often sat
and troubled hearts found peace, was pushed back now, its service done;
but the minister's chair still stood by the minister's table where lay
the minister's Book of books; and in the chair sat the minister's widow.

She was not reading at the moment: I think she had been listening to
the gay sounds upstairs; and a tender, happy smile was on her lips,
in perfect keeping with the words on which her eyes had been. But
everything in that room was in keeping, to Magnus: his mother's cap
looked to him not a whit purer than her face; nor was the shine outside
the windows more gladsome than the look she turned to him. The young
cadet was at her side in an instant, down on his knees with his head on
her shoulder.

"What waked you up so early, child?"

"The echo of that reveille gun came clear across the Continent for the
express purpose."

"Hardly. I heard you whistling some time ago."

"Did I disturb you?"

"You could not do that," said the mother.

"But you were reading."

"Thoughts of you are never far away from the Bible, nor the Bible from
thoughts of you. Where have you been reading this morning, Magnus?"

"I've not been reading anywhere. Mother, do you think I had better run
up for Cherry? or will she be here all right on time?"

"Time for what?" said Mrs. Kindred, rather opening her eyes at this
very rapid transit.

"Breakfast."

"Did she say she would come?"

"Why--no," said Magnus. "I took it for granted."

"Never take anything for granted about Cherry, except that she will
do just what is right. She never goes anywhere, Magnus, until she has
given her father his breakfast and seen to his morning comfort in every
way."

"I should think she might come," Magnus said discontentedly. "It's my
first morning home. He could get along for once."

The mother smiled a little at the wide space demanded by the young
people in these days, and the side corner deemed enough for the elder;
but the usurpers are too lovely and beloved to be resisted. And
besides, there is a sort of "while they can"--that checks many a word;
the tender, pathetic force of Dr. Bonar's thought:

    "Take thou my place, and be thy feast
      Sweeter than mine has been!"

"Cherry will not come, Magnus," she said. "She never gets free before
ten or eleven o'clock. So tell me why you have done no reading to-day."

"Out of the habit," said Magnus. "I never do it in the morning."

"What is your Bible time?"

"Well, if I can be said to have one, it is more apt to be at night,"
said Magnus. "I don't always read then, but most generally I do."

"At night?" said the mother, carefully hiding all signs of the
underground shock that made her heart tremble. "I like to read at
night, too. But then, dear, if you do not read in the morning as well,
you have no fresh heartful of the blessed words to live by through the
day." And she looked round at Magnus with such eager, anxious, pleading
eyes as went straight to his heart. Which truly was not far to seek,
that morning. He jumped up and put himself in the other chair, drawing
it up to her.

"Mammy," he said, "let me tell you about it. It's this way. The gun
wakes me up. And I tumble downstairs half dressed, and declare at the
top of my voice that I am myself, and nobody else. That is, the first
sergeant calls 'Kindred!' and I yell back 'Here!' Then I rush in again,
and tumble into bed, clothes and all, and get the very best nap you
ever dreamed of."

"Another nap? For how long?"

"Two minutes and a quarter, drum time. Then I finish dressing and go
to breakfast. And after breakfast, we don't have very much time before
recitation."

"Cannot you read then?"

"Once in a while I do," said Magnus. "Not always. Maybe I do a little
boning in math. Maybe I take a walk with the nicest girl there is
round."

His mother could not help smiling.

"Can you always get the nicest?" she said.

"Oh, yes!" Magnus answered easily; "unless she happens to be somebody
else's best. Sometimes then. You see, so long as she doesn't look me in
the face, she can fancy I am her 'best' man."

"Why, Magnus!" his mother said, half laughing now, but really anxious;
"how do you behave, to make that possible?"

Magnus laughed too, with great delight.

"Sure enough," he said, "how do I? Maybe I go through the motions."

And now it was Mrs. Kindred who, after a moment's pause, changed the
subject.

"Look, dear," she said, laying her hand on the open Bible, "I was
reading just here: the parable of the sower. And my thoughts had been
going back and forth from the seed which the fowls of the air were let
pick up, to that other which fell in an honest and good heart, and
'with patience,' brought forth an hundred-fold."

Magnus ran his eyes over the passage.

"There are lots of fowls of the air at the Academy," he said.

"Maybe no more than elsewhere. But they have no business in _your_
life, Magnus."

"No, mammy, they haven't," he said, hesitating a little with the
difficulty of making his case plain. "All the same, they come in. I'll
go to a right down good prayer-meeting Sunday night, and come back
meaning to be the joy of your heart from that time on. Think I'll go
straight to bed, so as to be sure and keep good till morning. Well,
the moon is coming up as I get back to camp, and there is Randolph
with pink and white gowns in tow; and I stop to speak, and they all
say: 'Oh, come for a little walk!' I don't want to, and I half turn
away--and then I go. The prayer-meeting isn't all gone by the time I
get back, but there has been more of it picked up than you'd like."

"Yes," the mother answered, thinking in her heart that she had not
prayed half enough for her boy in his hard places.

"Why, I've seen a man stay to Communion," Magnus went on, "and when
we came out, there was Pretty Newcomb waiting for him in the rain, at
the foot of the Chapel steps. Just walked him off alongside of her
umbrella--or under it. And what are you going to do?"

"I see. But, Magnus, you said 'Sunday' night. What sort of girls are at
the Camp Sunday night?"

"Summer girls," said Magnus briefly.

"Well, dear," said the mother, the cheerful tone coming back to her
voice, "the Lord is 'able to keep you from falling,' even in the most
difficult places; and to make you 'fruitful to every good work,'
in spite of all the fowls of the air that ever fluttered down. But
remember, that on your part the word is: 'Hold fast that which thou
hast, that no man take thy crown.'"

"I know." But then Magnus remembered something else, and was suddenly
silent.

And now came a soft, imperative call to breakfast.

"Waffles!" cried Rose in the distance, and the talk ended. Only as the
mother went out with her boy's arm round her waist, she looked up at
him with her true eyes.

"Magnus, _never_ 'go through the motions,' as you call it, with the
wrong woman. _Never_, as a sham. It dishonours the woman and degrades
the man, and robs the other woman--the right one--of somewhat that
belongs to her alone."

"Well, I never really have, mammy," said Magnus gravely; "so make your
mind easy. And I never shall--unless the right one throws me over. I
don't know what I'll do then."

And in spite of all previous warning Magnus looked round the breakfast
room for Cherry, and not finding her, felt very much aggrieved.

There was no lack of talk and laughter, however; the joy of those four
people in being together was extreme, and of course, the others did not
miss Cherry, not having expected her, but Magnus did. The reserved,
dainty girl had taken him by storm. They had always been inseparable
as children, and as true boy and girl, though never with any freedom
on her part, even then, that passed the prettiest bounds. Now she had
stepped off a little, regarding him from a safer grown-up distance,
and Magnus was wild to annihilate both time and space, and whatever
else came in his way. She had bloomed out into something much rarer
than he knew could be in the world, and Cadet Kindred surrendered at
discretion, and without a summons. I believe he found that last fact
the crowning charm. If Cherry had held forth her little finger to draw
him on, or had in any way shortened that new indefinable distance
between him and her, I think Magnus would have struck off a percentage
from her perfections. It vexed and bewitched him equally.

So the young man sat opposite the open window, where the smoke from the
other house curled softly into view, and thought himself ill-used and
happy in about half and half mixture. He watched the winding path, but
it remained empty. Then he looked at his sisters; how handsome they
were, too! Splendid girls, both of them; and wouldn't they make a stir
in first-class camp? Of course his mother had always been perfection.
And here his eyes came round to her, with a smile of such joyful love
and content that poor Mrs. Kindred was very near making a goose of
herself, as she would have phrased it. What it was to have her boy home
again!

"But I cannot see why they don't move down here!" Magnus broke forth
irrelevantly. "Living on there all by themselves in that stupid old
house."

"Stupid?" cried Violet. "Why, it's the very prettiest house in all the
State."

"You had best not let Cherry hear you say such things," remarked Rose.
"She loves that house with all her heart."

"Stuff!" said Magnus. "She'll have to leave it some time."

"She will not while her father lives," said Mrs. Kindred.

"Why, mother, girls do it every day."

"Girls--but not Cherry," the mother answered; and Magnus was so charmed
with the saying, and the fair little pedestal on which it placed his
heart's delight, that he adopted it for a private phrase of his own;
used many times afterwards, it may be said, when "girls--but not
Cherry," were around.

"Then, when she will not come, you go to her?" he asked.

"Oh, she always comes," said Violet; "some time in the day."

"Some time in the day!"

"According to what she has to do. Only letter days she always came
early, and left the work till she got back."

"Some of it," corrected Rose. "But there's no letter due from Magnus
to-day, you know, so we cannot tell when she will be here."

"Now that is too bad!" said Mr. Kindred, pushing back his chair.
"Coming to hear my letters, and not coming to see me!"

"Well, the letters were very interesting, you know----" Violet began,
and then thought it prudent to vanish.

"But, my dear," said Mrs. Kindred, "as you must of course go up there
this morning yourself before you pay any other visits, I do not see how
it really matters."

"No, of course," said Magnus briskly. "Oh, mammy, I wish you'd pick out
a lot of such easy duties for me."

"We cannot go with you," said Rose, "because we also have something to
do; but we will come after you. You must wear your cadet clothes for
Mr. Erskine."

So Magnus put himself in trim, and charging his sisters not to hurry on
his account, and promising faithfully to wait till they came, began to
mount the hill. Good for him the girls were busy--and yet, suppose that
other girl were hid away in some part of the house to which Rose and
Violet could go, while he could not?

Magnus whistled his thoughts down the wind, as he went on, and then,
with a sudden fancy to approach unnoticed, hushed his tones and even
his steps, and went in, seeing nobody. Through the hall to the back
door--and there got another picture to think of in barracks.



XXVIII

ON EXHIBITION

    Wise men always
    Affirm and say,
    That best is for a man
    Diligently
    For to apply,
    All business that he can.

    --SIR T. MORE.


The Red House had been set very near the branch road by which he came
up, and in front there was only a short path and a bit of greensward,
but at the back lay a big old-fashioned garden, sloping gaily down
towards a bit of woodland and a talkative brook.

Overlooking all this was a very wide porch with sashes on all sides
which could be shut, but which on this warm still morning were all slid
back. The porch within was full of flowers, with various rustic holders
to hang and to stand and to rest on the sills, a wonderful basket of
lilies of the valley being the centre piece on the breakfast table.

There were traces in the house of other days and more Eastern regions,
and the little spider-legged table was dark with long years of service,
the spoons were slim-stemmed and delicate, the dishes of exquisite blue
and white.

But the dishes held very simple viands: bread, milk, wheat, with fruit
and flowers, were about the whole, for some hurts or injuries dating
back to the war time had slowly brought Mr. Erskine to a semi-invalid
state, and Cherry wanted nothing but what her father had.

I have told you nothing about Mr. Erskine--and yet he was a very
noticeable man. Hair whitened more with sorrow than years (it had
changed suddenly upon the death of his wife), cheeks where the native
red still lingered, setting off the look of extremely delicate health,
with features refined and above-board in every line. The eyes were both
soft and flashing, the smile--once the merriest in the world--now never
lost its shade of pathos. Everything about the man was refined, the
daintily cared-for hand, the plain, scrupulously neat dress. Across one
edge of the placid brow a red scar swept down and hid itself among the
thick locks of frosted hair, and now, as you looked further, you could
see that the right hand had lost its mate, and the left sleeve hung
empty.

With one hand resting lightly on that shoulder and kneeling at her
father's side, Cherry read to him from a book laid open on the table,
while Mr. Erskine was slowly finishing his plate of strawberries,
dipping them, one by one, in the white sugar. Now and then a word of
question, of comment, of explanation, passed between the two, with
heads lifted and eyes meeting each other, then the reading went on
again.

This was what Magnus saw; and though he made out no words, the mere
tones of Cherry's voice seemed to him as sweet as any bird or brook
or leaf-stir in the whole morning concert; and I know not how long he
might have stood there in the shadows of the hall, if little Snip, the
terrier, being officer in charge and scenting mischief, had not rushed
in from the garden on a tour of keen inspection coupled with much
comment. Cherry rose quickly to her feet, Magnus stepped out upon the
porch, and catching hold of her hand, as he went by, dropped down upon
one knee by Mr. Erskine, in laughing glee at his astonishment.

"Magnus!" he cried. "My dear boy, is this you? Can it be possible!" The
one arm came round the boy and drew him close.

"So this is what made you stumble over your report of last night," Mr.
Erskine went on, turning to Cherry; "you were hiding a secret." Cherry
blushed scarlet.

"Did I stumble, papa?" she said, carrying off the dishes.

"Very much, for you. Well, my boy, there is no need to ask you how you
are. Stand off there, and let me have a good look."

"I didn't mean to come in war paint, sir," said Magnus, as he obeyed;
"but they said at home you would want to see it."

"Of course I do. Well, they certainly turn out--showy fellows over
there." Mr. Erskine hesitated over his adjective, as if to choose a
safe one. Cherry bit her lips, Magnus laughed and coloured too.

"They try for it," he said; "but we hope to be useful also, some day,
Mr. Erskine."

"Of all the 'some days' for being useful, I have ever found to-day the
very best. Sit down and give an account of yourself. Let the cloth
wait, Cherry. I suppose you want to hear it all, too. Unless you heard
it last night."

"No, indeed, sir," said Magnus. "I did not have a chance to tell her
half." This with a glance at Cherry, which she did not mean to see.

"Papa," she said, "it will take but a minute to finish the table, and
then we can listen so much better."

"Have your own way, love," her father answered, smiling. "My dear
love!" he said under his breath, watching her. Then he turned to Magnus.

"Of course we know a good deal about you," he said, "for we have read
and reread your letters, but I think I can understand them better now.
And so these are the famous bell buttons?"

"Yes, sir, the regulation sort."

"Truly, they are pretty bright," said Mr. Erskine, with an amused
smile. "Are the coats still pocketless?"

Cadet Kindred disclosed the hiding place of his handkerchief.

"I should call that hard lines," said Mr. Erskine. "Your mother gave us
a description when she came home, and I rather think Cherry cried over
it. 'What _will_ Magnus do without pockets?' she said. 'Because, you
know, papa, if there was ever anything he did _not_ have in his pocket,
it was only what he could not find.' Do you remember, love?"

"Papa," said Cherry, much abashed at both the story and the laugh it
brought, "I think it is enough to have said silly things without having
them repeated."

She fetched her work basket, and placing herself at the other side of
her father, took out some bit of white stuff, and began to fold and
hem with great speed and dexterity. Magnus watched her, wishing it
were something for him. He had now and then seen a girl with a crochet
needle in these two years, or straining her eyes over a piece of mussed
unhappy looking drawnwork, but everything about Cherry and her basket
was as fresh as the morning. Her strip of muslin might have just come
from the shop, and have gone straight back there again, for all the
disturbance it had from her neat handling.

"Yes, she's a busy child," said Mr. Erskine fondly, noting where the
eyes were bent; "busy and sweet as the day is long. But come, Magnus,
draw up your chair, and let us have the story. Of course, as I said,
we have heard a great deal, but we want the whole thing now, don't we,
love? Do you wear all that finery every day?"

"Yes sir, except when nobody is supposed to see us. We have an ugly,
comfortable blouse for study, and meals, and recitations. With fatigue
suits, of course, for drills."

"Look your worst at recitations, hey? I should think it good policy to
look your best."

"Wouldn't make any difference with those old buffers," said Magnus.
"They don't care if you fess perfectly frigid. They'd just as soon give
you zero as anything else."

Mr. Erskine's mouth took on a quizzical look.

"Sounds like cold weather, doesn't it, love?" he said. "But let us go
on regularly. Suppose it was term-time, how would your day begin?"

"With the gun, always, sir. Unless I am boning math. and have waked
myself up for early study. I'm too much of a sleepyhead to do it often."

"Best not; you need the sleep."

"Yes, but when you want to max it, and have been getting two-nine for
three days running, you see that will not do," said Magnus. "And I will
not bugle; and I can't fudge worth a cent."

The comical look passed into a laugh this time, low and very pleasant,
Cherry joining in, after a vain attempt to keep herself quiet.

"Next in prominence to the gun comes breakfast, I suppose," said Mr.
Erskine.

"Yes, breakfast--slumgudgeon stew, and the rest of it," said Magnus.
"But the bread and butter and milk are always good. They've taken
to calling the roll after breakfast, as well as before, in case
slumgudgeon should have laid some slain man under the table. Then comes
a bit of release from quarters. If I've been fizzling lately, maybe I
put in the time on French; but I am more apt to take a walk."

"That is well," said Mr. Erskine. "A brisk walk puts the brain in good
order."

"It's not always a brisk walk, though," said Magnus. "Most often I go
dawdling along with some girl."

And now Cherry was so still that only the swift-flying needle seemed to
move. Mr. Erskine looked amused.

"I should think that a poor preparing for the section room," he
said. "Can't be helped if it is," said Magnus. "There's such a lot
of girls--and summer girls--about, it takes every minute you can get.
Chappy comes up and says: 'Kin, just give my sister a walk, will you?
Awfully nice girl, but if I don't bone a little I'll be found in
French, sure guns. And besides, my best girl is here.' So I go. Then
Miss Beguile says: 'Oh, Mr. Kindred! I've _never_ seen Fort Putnam.
Please take me!'"

How they both laugh at him--Cherry holding back a little, then letting
her merry notes ring in.

"That sounds stringent," said Mr. Erskine. "Do you notice, love, his
fine distinction between 'girls' and 'summer girls'? That is something
we simple people know nothing of. By the way, I suppose _you_ must be a
summer girl--as he never sees you in the winter."

"If anyone ever dares call her a summer girl," said Mr. Kindred
promptly, "I'll knock him down quicker than he ever had it done before."

"Hands off! I'll not call her so," said Mr. Erskine, laughing. "She is
an everyday girl, and better each time. But Magnus, suppose _your_ best
girl happens to be also on hand?"

"She never is, sir. She has not been at the Point since I went there."

"Hard on you, if she went there before; you speak as if she were a
fixed fact. Do you know, Magnus, I am rather sorry to hear that."

"Why, sir?" demanded Magnus, noting the pulsating colour in the fair
face bent over the needlework.

"Well, when I thought of it, I hoped you would keep clear of all such
entanglements till you knew what you wanted."

"I did, sir."

"Oh, of course! I beg pardon; I should have said till you had seen a
little more of the world."

"Do you think the world is the place to choose, sir?"

Mr. Erskine smiled, half sorrowfully.

"I have only an old matchlock," he said, "and cannot cope with you
young sharpshooters. But my boy, what I meant was this. When the boy
goes off to college and grows into new mental strength and riches,
and the girl stays at home and gets not half a chance, poor child, to
do anything but wash dishes or (now do not glower at me) perhaps does
not wish for higher things, then the man comes home raised to a plane
where she is not fitted to stand by his side, and she can never be the
helpmeet for him that she should."

Magnus listened respectfully; watching that lovely, flitting colour, it
was not hard to sit still.

"You think," he said, "that some girls wouldn't amount to much at a
one-company post. When a man was hard up for comrades?"

"Not unless they were 'best girls' in truth."

"Oh, well, mine is," said Magnus confidently, "the very bestest sort.
I don't know how much she knows--but if I stay at the Academy two
years longer I shall have a stuffed head, full enough to lend on every
occasion. Besides, it's not needful for a man's peace of mind that his
wife should understand wave motion, is it, sir?"

Mr. Erskine laughed at him, and Cherry laughed too, though now
colouring furiously.

"I suppose it is not needful," her father said, not noticing her,
"unless in practice. Well, I hope it will turn out all right for you.
I had a friend, Magnus, who got entangled, as I call it, very early,
went away to college, and when he came back with all his honours, his
mother forbade the bans on that distinct plea; she said the girl was
too ignorant. I think my friend would have gone straight on through it
all, but the girl was not of that sort. She refused to enter any family
by the side door. So they waited, the engagement was virtually broken,
and years went by. Then the mother died, the man sought his old love
and married her. But Magnus, the girl had spent those years not in
lamenting, not in flirting, but in solid, hard study. So that when at
last they went forth in life together she had passed him, and was the
better educated of the two."

What was Cherry laughing at? For while the cheeks had not all cooled
down, the lips had parted in but half-controlled curls of fun.

"Well, if she was proficient in warped surfaces, I hope they enjoyed
talking it over in their play-spells," said Magnus. "I've no use for
some of those things, they sift out too many good men. We all felt bad
to have Chuck go."

"Finished his course?" said Mr. Erskine.

"At West Point, sir; graduated at the wrong end, dropped. He did
everything to stay; ran a light after taps, cut society, and sat night
after night with his feet in cold water and his hands in his hair
(what there was of it)," Magnus added in parenthesis. "But nothing did
any good; he'd go next day and fess on a clean board. 'Mr. Simpkins,'
the instructor asked him one day, 'are you as stupid at drill as you
are in the section room?' And Chuck turned with the blandest face and
answered: 'Nigh on to it, Lieutenant!' And he was."

How the listeners laughed again.

"But that was Simpkins," Cherry remarked. "You said 'Chuck.'"

"'Chuck' was his cadet name."

"Do they name everyone?" asked Mr. Erskine.

"Very generally. But some names go with the office. The fattest man in
the class is 'Tubs,' and the oldest 'Daddy'; while the cleanest-face
man in all the Corps may be 'mud,' because his pred. or his resemblance
owned the name. 'Deacon' and 'Squire', 'Mile-High' and 'Shorty',
'Pretty Jones' and 'Lady Crane.'"

"What is yours?" said Cherry.

"Only 'Kin'; sometimes with the 'Kith' added. Do you see?"

"I see that you are a very wide-awake set of boys," said Mr. Erskine.
Cherry slowly pulled off her thimble.

"Papa," she said, "I sent word that they must all come here to dinner,
and it is time for me to go and see to things."

"I will come and help," said Magnus.

"Thank you, no," Cherry answered him gaily. "Housekeeping is one of the
few things you have _not_ studied. Stay and talk to your mother, she is
just here."

So while the two girls followed Cherry, the other three people sat
talking over many things, the two elders closely scanning the young
cadet; and he, all unconscious of their scrutiny, showing himself
just as he was in truth. Certainly the stories and pranks he rattled
off were full of mischief, and as surely they gave small token of a
reverent respect for regulations. But there was no taint of anything
mean or low, no word that savoured of "conduct unbecoming an officer
and a gentleman." The mother breathed freer with every new light thrown
upon his West Point life, and felt that her boy had come back to her
pure as he had gone away. The eyes of the two old friends met in
joyful sympathy time and again, as Magnus talked and told, and their
laughter had no reserve of anxious questioning. And when at last Magnus
detailed himself to go and look after the girls and dinner, Mr. Erskine
stretched out his hand to the happy mother.

"He is a splendid fellow," he said; "a grand boy! I congratulate you
with all my heart."



XXIX

SKIRMISHING

    O wha can prudence think upon,
      And sic a lassie by him?
    O wha can prudence think upon,
      And sae in love as I am?

    --_Old Song._


Magnus, meanwhile, with quite as much of the "boy" as the "grand"
about him, despite his inches, tiptoed off along passages and through
doorways that he knew by heart, following the hum of voices. So
presently came out into the small summer kitchen, where a pleasant
smell of good cookery steamed and puffed and whiffed from various
vessels within and upon the stove. Dishes stood ready on the table,
with white-covered pans of rolls just waiting to be baked, but save the
old cat, winking and blinking by the oven door, there was nobody in
charge.

Magnus gave her a toss up in the air for old times' sake, peeped
cautiously out at the broad back steps, then let himself easily down
through the open window and came round the other way upon the scene of
the sweet chatter that was going on.

The three girls were on the steps, Rose and Violet hulling
strawberries, while Cherry in a wide check apron, sat on the lowest
step of all with a basket of lettuce at her side, picking over the
fresh green leaves, and dropping them into a pan of cold water. A thick
clump of lilac bushes served as a screen.

"Do you know," Rose was saying, "I cannot believe it, yet. I think I
cried for joy a little bit, when I waked up in the night and remembered
that Magnus was really here."

"And doesn't he look well?" said Violet; "and isn't he a beauty?"

"Do not tell him that," Cherry answered with discretion. She would have
given a ready enough answer a week ago, but somehow, with the continent
no more between them, the young damsel had grown wary.

"I'm afraid everybody else will tell him," said Rose. "But he is not
spoiled a bit _yet_. Don't you think so?"

"Not a bit."

It was a very mild way of giving her estimate, and Cherry scolded
herself that she could not answer freely, as she had always done;
called herself to account for the shyness which had sprung into life
with, indeed, the very first coming of that photograph.

"I am such a goose!" poor Cherry thought, bending down low over the
lettuce basket. "What shall I do to myself? If only he had not acted so
last night!"

And just here, by way of composing matters, two hands came softly round
her head, and were laid lightly and respectfully upon her eyes. It was
one of his old teasing ways with her.

Cherry's start passed almost into a tremor. She put up her hands to
remove the obstruction, and they were taken and held fast; and what
more Magnus might have dared had there been no witnesses, will never be
known.

Cherry lifted her face, trying to speak sternly.

"Magnus," she said, "you have not improved one bit. I thought West
Point was to make a man of you--or a better man--or something."

"It has made 'something' of me," he retorted, gazing down at her. "Give
you three guesses."

"Too much else to do. Set that pan of lettuce on the table, please.
Don't you see how busy I am?" And Cherry drew towards her a basket of
green peas and began to shell with all her might.

"I see it--to the depths of my heart," Magnus answered as he did her
bidding. "Here, Viola, give us your apron. If I don't sit down and help
this girl, I shall have her fainting away on my hands."

"No, you will not," Cherry said very decidedly.

But Magnus spied a spare apron on a nail, and, tying it carefully round
his neck, he put himself down on the doorstep, and dived in among the
pea pods. Always taking, if he could, the very one of which Cherry had
laid hold, and then dropping that and seizing her fingers, and then
mysteriously scattering the peas from his own hands or shaking them
out of hers, so that the rolling things had to be sought on all sides.
Which last process Cadet Kindred pursued so zealously that more than
once his face and Cherry's shining locks came very near together.

The sisters looked on, laughing and delighted. For just so those two
had teased and scolded and played together, since they were big enough
to play, and to see it all go on again in the old fashion was too good
for anything. Of the subtile difference that had crept in, their young
eyes took no note. And Cherry herself tried hard to ignore it, laughing
with the rest, and very well holding her own, but dimly conscious all
the while that things she would have ventured once, she did not venture
now.

"Boy, why do you tie that string round your neck?" said Rose. "Have you
forgotten how aprons are worn?"

"A lost art. But this is the improved style, which I mean to introduce
at West Point. I cannot see how the Tactical Department has overlooked
aprons so long. We're too young to know when to wear overcoats, so
aprons to keep our trousers clean would be just the thing. I'll
introduce them."

"When you go back, I suppose," said Rose sarcastically. "I'll lend you
mine for a pattern."

"When I go back as Com.," Magnus answered with dignity. "When I am Com.
and Cherry is Supe. _then_ you'll see."

"You could see now, if you would look," said Cherry, as a podful of
peas rolled down the step.

"I am looking with all my eyes.--And they dare to call you a summer
girl!" Magnus broke forth, watching the lovely pink cloud of colour
that came and went with such swift changes.

"Will you _please_ tell us what a summer girl is like?" said Violet.
"She has danced about a good deal in your letters, but we everyday
people don't know what she is. Come, boy, describe her."

"Her!" Magnus repeated. "She is to the full as plural as she is
singular."

"Many of them at West Point, are there?" said Rose.

"Car loads; stunning, too, as they can be, some of them. Take your
breath away. Say, girls, where's the old banjo? In existence yet?"

"Oh, dear, yes," said Rose. "Only no one has played it since you went
away."

"And it is here, too," said Violet. "Mother made us bring it this
morning, because she was sure Mr. Erskine would like to hear you sing."

Magnus laughed.

"Thought he couldn't wait until to-morrow," he said. "Or knew _she_
couldn't. Mammy hasn't changed, that is plain. But I shall sing to Miss
Erskine first. About her namesake--and some other things."

He jumped up and went for the banjo, placing himself then in the
doorway where he could look down upon Cherry. She had put away the
peas, and now had in her hand a bowl of yellow cream, which she was
softly beating to a stiff froth. The other girls had finished their
berries, and sat near her on the steps. Beyond, the honey bees hummed
over clover and mignonette, the little brook tinkled along unseen.
Behind him, Magnus could hear the pleasant murmur of the talk that went
on within the house. Then a cow lifted up her voice and gave a long,
plaintive moo, and a wren under the eaves poured out new tidings of the
wealth that came to her every five minutes. Magnus leaned back his head
against the doorpost and listened.

"That bird sings for all she is worth," he said. It took such hold of
him; the sweet home air and sounds and sunshine, the two dear girls
watching him with their loving admiration, and the yet dearer, whose
bent-down face told more than she meant it should, the sights and
scents from hayfields and hills--it came upon Magnus Kindred like a
spell. And as with it all mingled in the echoes of music from the
graduating parade, he struck a few notes on the old banjo, and then
sang out from the depths of his heart:

    "Home, home! Sweet, sweet home,
    O there's no place like home!
    There is no place like home."

Cadet Kindred had by nature a rather rarely fine voice. Art had indeed
never tutored nor trained it, but it was one of those voices which can
never by possibility sing out of tune or time, and in the two years he
had been away, exercise and growth had both strengthened and sweetened
it; a sort of revelation now to the listening girls.

The two sisters gazed at him as if nobody had ever sung before;
Cherry's beater went slower and softer, then stopped, and the girl sat
in breathless listening; until her lips began to tremble, and there
came such a surge of sorrow and sympathy and delight in the music,
and--and--everything else; that Cherry laid one hand upon her breast
as if to quiet and keep it down, and at first dared not look at the
singer, and then could not take her eyes away.

As for Magnus, he had thrown himself into the music, as was his wont,
being for the time all rapt and unconscious of other things. From
"Sweet Home" to "Lang Syne"--back and forth as the band had done--so
went the voice, and it was not until the words woke up some special
association that Magnus took note of the sweet, pitiful eyes that were
fixed on him. The other girls had pulled out their handkerchiefs.

    "We twa hae paidlet in the burn,
      Frae morning sun till dine;
    But we've wandered mony a weary fit,
      Sen auld lang syne."

"That is just what we did, Cerise--do you remember? And just what I
have done, since."

"But oh, Magnus!" she cried, "were you so homesick as that?"

"Homesick? Your blue apron is rose-colour to it."

"I am glad we did not know," Cherry said with a long breath, beginning
slowly to beat her cream. "You were very good not to tell."

"And did nobody help you or speak to you?" questioned the two young
sisters, coming up nearer to sit at his feet.

"I had help enough," said Magnus, softly twanging the strings of his
banjo. "Everybody from the Com. to the third-class corporals bade me
brace up. And if I wanted a lonely walk in the open air on Saturday, I
had only to wear my hair long and dishevelled as a sign of grief, and
they'd give to me without asking. And if I dead-beat and went to the
Hospital to get a chance to mope a little, Dr. Pestle would give me
some compound to _make_ me sick, lest I should lose my time and be down
there for nothing. The Tacs were so afraid I should 'wet my couch with
briny tears' that they made me keep the old thing tight rolled up till
bed time. I was too tired to cry, then."

"Queer help," said Rose.

"The best that could be, Rosy. They made me mad, and then I was all
right."

"I should call that poor comfort," said Violet.

"Nothing like it, however," said Magnus. "Dries up your feelings
quicker than fourteen pocket-handkerchiefs. You owe the world one, and
you mean to live till you pay it. So suicide can wait."

"Magnus, I wish you would not talk so," Cherry said appealingly.

"Now there is Cerise," Magnus went on. "If I could once make her
thoroughly angry with me, she wouldn't mind anything else that
happened. The thing is how. I haven't found out yet."

"And you never will," said Rose. "You cannot do it."

"I cannot, hey? That is good to know. Gives me great freedom of action.
I'll store up the information for future use."

"What makes you call her Cerise?" said Rose.

"Practising my French. Of course I never thought of her in common
English when I was away."

"Cherry, he cannot be with you five minutes without beginning to
tease," said the girls, laughing. "He is the very same boy he always
was."

"I think he has made good progress in the art of telling fibs," said
Cherry in turn.

"Fibs!" Magnus repeated, with much unworded scorn. "You'll see about
that. I mean to tell the truth while I am home now, if I never do
again." And with the most funny, rollicking tone Mr. Kindred caught up
his banjo and dashed off into "The Girl I Left Behind Me"; rattling it
out, throwing in recitative here and there, and putting such spirit
and vim into the performance that now the girls all laughed till they
nearly cried again; but this time Cherry kept her eyes on her cream.

Then quick and easily as the band had done, Magnus dropped once more
into the plaintive burden of:

    "Home, home; sweet, sweet home;
    There is no place like home,--
    There is no place like home."

But now, when he stopped playing, his two sisters came round him
caressing him, hanging upon him, and even Mrs. Kindred looked in from
the other room and said:

"Magnus, don't play that any more. You break my heart. I shall never be
able to let you go back again."

Magnus laid the banjo aside.

"Don't fret now, mammy," he said. "It has been pretty tough, but the
worst is over."



XXX

A MORNING TALK

    Hope rules a land forever green:
    All powers that serve the bright-eyed queen
      Are confident and gay.
    Clouds at her bidding disappear;
    Points she to aught? The bliss draws near,
      And fancy rules the way.

    --WORDSWORTH.


That was a wonderful day. But it may be remarked, that Mr. Kindred went
home more than ever discontented with the length of the hill.

"Living up there," he said, "when we are all down here. It is too bad.
How many times a month does Cherry walk down here in the sun?"

"She need not walk in the sun," said the girls, laughing at him. "There
is shade all the way if she wants it. Why, she comes every day, you
foolish boy."

"At what hour, generally, you foolish girl?"

"Oh, all sorts of times," said Violet; "after breakfast, and before
dinner, and after tea. But they are both coming down to-day to dine
with us."

"I think I will just go up and make sure they understand that," said
Magnus. "Cherry does not always take up an idea as quick as she might."

And away he dashed out of the house and began to double-time it up the
hill, the three women at home watching from the window in admiring joy.

"He is the best looking fellow that ever was," said Rose. And the
mother answered as Cherry had done:

"Yes, but do not tell him so."

Then the girls laughed.

"Oh, mother," they cried, "you do it, every time you look at him."

Magnus meanwhile sped lightly up the hill. He had his reasons for
liking to go at this particular time; the picture yesterday was too
lovely for him not to long to see it again, and it might be that
Cherry read to her father every morning. Then what was the book?
Cherry had closed it so suddenly upon his coming, that he caught no
glimpse of the inside; but the outside stirred his curiosity. It was
an old book, bound in the dainty old-time vellum, once marked and
embossed with gold; but that was much faded and worn away. It did not
look like a Bible, and yet that, Magnus felt, was the correct thing
for Cherry--such a girl as she was--to be reading to her father at
breakfast time. Other people's duties are marked out in such very
distinct lines that even colour blindness is rarely doubtful over them.

But no murmur of voices met him, as he paused at the front door; and
something warned him to go quietly round the house to the steps that
ran down into the garden. And sure enough, he had his picture, but a
different one this time.

A little white-covered tray on the upper step held bread and milk and
berries, and on the step below sat Cherry, with a book in her lap. She
jumped up at the sound of his footfall, and put the book away, coming
back instantly to her place.

"Mr. Erskine out?" Magnus asked, as he took position at her feet.

"Oh, no, not out. It is one of the days when that old bullet wound
gives so much trouble that the best thing is to keep quite still."

"You don't read to him, such days?"

"He has had the reading--and he had his breakfast," said Cherry; "but
he made me come down and take mine in the fresh air."

"And instead of doing it, you fall to reading again," said Magnus,
reaching up his hand to the milk pitcher and filling her glass. "Please
to begin at once."

"Please to have some too, then. There are more strawberries on the
table inside."

"Two breakfasts to-day, against some other morning when I shall have
none," said Magnus. "What are you waiting for? Something else I should
get?" For Cherry sat lingering, and had not touched her spoon.

"Well?" Magnus repeated, watching her. He had a spoonful of berries on
the way to his mouth, and still her hands had not stirred.

"But Magnus--you haven't--will you ask the blessing?" Cherry said.

The berries came down with a rush.

"Go on," he said, with an odd change in his voice. And Cherry bent her
head and spoke the few sweet words as simply and gladly as if they were
but a breath of native air. Magnus was stirred more than he cared to
own.

"Heaven and earth come pretty close together where you are," he broke
out, eating his berries and forgetting the sugar.

"Where anybody is," said Cherry. "Heaven must be near when the Lord is
close by, 'with you,' and 'at your right hand.'"

She was all changed this morning; so quiet, so self-possessed.

"Well, you see," Magnus went on impulsively, "one gets out of practice.
I've not heard a blessing asked for two years, till I came home. Except
when mother and I had our picnic."

"Not in your Mess Hall?"

"Well, I should say not!"

"But, Magnus----"

"What?"

"You can always ask one silently for yourself."

Magnus gave a long groan.

"I believe your flag is sixty feet long," he said. "What do you suppose
the other three hundred men would say to me?"

"I do not know."

"Not care, I dare say. Well, to begin, they'd give me a silence, just
as like as not."

"A _what_?"

"A silence. That's what we give a Tac who oversteps bounds, or a
party of women who are brought in to see the animals feed. There's a
universal din up to that moment, and then every man drops his knife and
fork, stops his tongue, and looks. You don't know what silence means
till you've heard that."

"What a very queer custom! And that is what they might do to you? But
it could not last long, I suppose, because they would have to eat their
breakfast."

"No, it would not last long!" said Magnus ironically. "First Rig
begins: 'Hello, Kin! Most through? Lose your breakfast?' And Crane:
'Say, Kin! Come and bless what's left on our table.' And Crinkem would
yell: 'Shut up, and let him alone! He's praying for strength to eat the
steak.'"

The girl's colour flitted back and forth as he spoke; then her eyes
lighted up.

"It does not sound pleasant," she said; "but Magnus, if I were you, I
think I would try it."

"I don't doubt you would," said Magnus, thinking his own thoughts.
"Sixty feet long in all weathers. But Cerise, besides all that, there
isn't time. We have but just so many minutes for breakfast, anyhow; and
while I had my eyes shut, somebody else might get my roll. No great
gain, but still a loss."

"That would be very sad," said Cherry, with a comical smile. "But
then, you would enjoy the rest so much better. Magnus," she went on
seriously, "did you ever think how many faint-hearted Christians there
may be in the crowd who would take courage from you to do right?"

"And so help me face the silence?"

"It is grand to face wrong things for right reasons!" said Cherry, her
eyes like two opals, showing their hidden fire. "'And they departed
from the Council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer
shame for his name.'"

Magnus looked at her.

"Yes, talk to me," he said. "I want all the talking to I can get. But
I can tell you, Cerise--do you mind my calling you so?"--he broke off
abruptly.

"Why, no," the girl answered. "It does not sound quite natural."

"Not like old times--no, of course not. Well, would you like Chérie
better? I think I should," said Mr. Kindred, watching the pink tinges
with a delightful sense of having the reins in his own hands again. "It
is more closely descriptive, and just as good for my French."

"You are without question the most absurd boy this side of West Point!"
said Cherry. "Have you emptied your strawberry basket? I must put these
things away."

"We must, indeed," said Magnus, handling dishes and bearing them off
into the house. "You know I have come to take you back with me?"

"Have you! It might have been wise--not to say civil--to state that
before."

"But I don't want to go," said Magnus. "I'd rather have you all to
myself here."

"Well, will you please stop practising your favourite wave motion,
and keep out of my way?" said Cherry, much hindered in her progress by
finding Magnus before her at every turn.

"Haven't studied it yet,--so there. Now, Cherry, you surely did not
mind what I said about wave motion?"

"Why should I mind?"

"I mean what I said about women's not needing to learn it."

"If all the men understand it through and through, that might leave
the women free for other work," said Cherry critically, as if she were
weighing the case.

"Ah!" said Magnus; "now you are beginning to talk like yourself. I
haven't half known you since I came home. Tease away, ma Chérie."

"Magnus, don't you want to run upstairs and get papa's tray? He must be
done with it by this time."

"Why, of course," said Cadet Kindred. "Only--this is the second time
you have sent me to him,--and as I remarked the other night----"

"I declare!" Cherry exclaimed, giving him a good sight of the fire
sparks. But then she turned and darted away up some back staircase so
fleetly and softly that he could not even tell by which way she had
gone. And when the pursuer by ordinary routes had reached the room,
Cherry was in calm conversation with her father.

Mr. Erskine was sitting by the window, and certainly looked rather
surprised at the headlong style in which Magnus rushed in; but smiled
and shook hands very cordially.

"Cherry sent me to get your tray, sir," the young man explained; "and
she was so high-strung over my seeming hesitation that, after that, I
stumbled upstairs as fast as I could."

"I see--chaffing each other as usual," said Mr. Erskine.

"Papa," Cherry put in, safely ensconced now behind her father and her
work basket, "you must not believe one word these cadets say."

"These cadets!" Magnus retorted. "Please to be more personal in your
remarks. I stand up for the veracity of the Corps."

"And represent it, no doubt."

"I wonder who is wandering into fib-land now," said Magnus. "Mr.
Erskine, if you take her at her word, and never believe anything I say,
I shall live to see the day when, with tears in her eyes, she will
assure you of my perfect truth and reliability."

"Indeed you will not," said Cherry. "Unless you live to be a hundred
and ten."

Mr. Erskine laughed heartily. Just so had those two been sparring ever
since they were in leading strings; perfect inseparables, but never
together ten minutes without getting up a skirmish of some kind.

"I am sorry this is one of your bad days, sir," Magnus went on; "but
the sun is very bright, as you can see, sir, and the air is soft--you
can _feel_ that. I like to back up my words when I can. And perhaps you
will kindly take hold of my arm, sir, and judge if it is likely to give
way under the weight of your hand down the hill."

"All which means," said Mr. Erskine, "that I am expected by the dear
people down there?"

"Yes, sir. And I think mother will be disappointed if you don't
come--but I'll scoot down and get a note from her to say so. And Rose
will cry out, 'Oh, dear!' and Violet will exclaim, 'Dear me!' At
least," said Magnus, correcting himself, "it will be something like
that. Even warped surfaces cannot always help a man to know just what a
woman will say."

And Cadet Kindred stood back with the air of one who, having just sent
a shell from the siege battery, and seen it hit the mark, feels that he
deserves well of his country.

"Why 'warped surfaces'?" said Mr. Erskine, laughing up at the handsome
young fellow, whom he loved next to his own daughter.

"Uncertain, sir. And incomprehensible. Greatest puzzle I know," said
Magnus.

"Well," said his friend slowly, "you are a good persuader, Magnus.
Cherry, you are going, of course."

"If you do, papa."

"Not else? Then I must try. I know you want to see all you can of your
old playmate. It is better than letters, isn't it, love? I can tell
you, Magnus, there was no keeping her at home letter day, no matter
what the weather was."

If Cherry sighed inwardly, "Oh, papa!" she gave no sign.

"I am very happy to hear it, sir," said Magnus, in his stateliest
tones. "It was beautiful filial devotion in Cherry. Of course she knew
how anxious you were to know that, as yet, I was out of light prison. I
hope she never took cold, or injured her health in any way, going out
in all weathers to relieve your anxiety."

"Truly, it was not all for me," said Mr. Erskine. "Do you remember,
love, the week when the track was snowed up? and the overdue letter
that never came at all? Magnus, those were dark days. I believe Cherry
went down to the other house six times between sunrise and sunset; and
then when at last the mail-bag came, our letter did not."

"It was very beautiful of her to take so much trouble to quiet your
mind, sir," said Magnus, watching the swift, pulsating colour in
Cherry's fair cheek.

"Nay, I took very little of it to myself," said Mr. Erskine, going
calmly on, as men will, through they know not what. "My heart ached
for her that day when she came back with her pale face, and said so
patiently, 'We must wait till to-morrow, papa.' Then at night they all
came up here; and I had to say over everything I had ever known or
heard about trains, letters, and--boys. You ought to be a good fellow,
Magnus, with four such women-hearts watching over you."

"Yes, sir. Don't you think it might further the cause if they told me a
little more about it?" said Magnus, with an innocent face.

"Papa--he knows quite enough for his good," Cherry remonstrated.

"Yes, and he might not like to hear it all," Mr. Erskine went on, in
the same unconscious fashion. "Poor little girl! How her voice shook
when she began to read to me that morning!"

"What did she read, sir?" Magnus questioned, with an odd change in his
own.

"I think we were in the Revelation just then. Were we not, love?"

"Yes, papa,"--very low.

"Yes, I remember. 'The sea of glass,' and 'them that had gotten the
victory.' Cherry read it as if she was ready to have the time come."

"Papa!"--it was almost a cry. "Why will you go back and bring that all
up again? Cannot you find pleasanter things to tell him?"

"No, he cannot, and you know it very well," said Magnus decidedly.
"Leave fib-land to me. I wish you would show me the very chapter,
please, Mr. Erskine."

"Hand me the book--there it is, love, on my table."

"I'll bring you another, papa,--" and Cherry went swiftly to the next
room.

Magnus, however, had his own private reasons for thwarting her whenever
he could, if it was only in the choice of a book; and before she could
get back he had brought the other volume to Mr. Erskine.

"Papa, this is better," Cherry said, coming in; but Magnus shook his
head at her, and she silently came down to her seat again. Then came a
surprise.

Magnus had been so busy watching her that neither book had had much
notice. Now, as Mr. Erskine turned the leaves, saying: "Here, this is
the place," Magnus bent down over his friend's shoulder to look, and
behold! he could not read one word. It might be the Revelation--but it
was also Greek. At least, so he supposed.

"Well, which was the book she was reading from that day?" he said,
looking at Cherry, who now sat perfectly still, with the other
Testament in her lap and her hands folded upon it. And if it had not
been impossible, he would have thought she was biting her lips hard to
keep back a laugh.

"This is the very one," said Mr. Erskine, all unconscious. "She always
reads in this--we both like it better. It is worn on the outside,"
he went on, turning the book over and giving the vellum affectionate
touches, "but I like these old bindings, don't you? The time-stained
cover for the things which time can neither stain nor wear out. This
was the book and the place where she read that morning."

"I should like to hear her read it now," said Cadet Kindred, feeling
considerably dazed.

"Read it to him, love," said Mr. Erskine, giving the old book to her;
and without raising her eyes Cherry obeyed, but in tones so low, that
but for their clearness, the eager listener could hardly have caught
one word. Understand one word he did not.

"Magnificent, are they not?" said Mr. Erskine. "But the English version
holds its own," he added musingly.

"'And I saw, as it were, a sea of glass mingled with fire; and them
that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and
over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of
glass, having the harps of God.'"

"Yes, that was it. You see, my boy, if you had indeed gotten the
victory, and passed on into the exceeding glory and the joy, it did not
so much matter if, for a little space, we broke our hearts down here."

It was a strange, wholesome ten minutes for Cadet Kindred; and I think
as he stood there looking down at Cherry, he took the measure of his
smallest storm flag more accurately than he had ever done before. In
fact he could hardly find it to measure, but seemed to hear the empty
halyards whipping against the staff. And that girl had been staying her
heart with the thought of his victory and crown!

"That was the first hard day," said Mr. Erskine; "and the letters did
not come for a week. What was our next reading, love? Magnus would like
to hear them all."

But now Cherry's answer burst forth:

"Papa--I cannot!"

The father's hand came tenderly on her head.

"That is too much to ask," he said. "Those days are better out of
sight. Go and get your hat, love, and we will try to reach our dear
friends down the hill. Poor little girl!" he said, as Cherry sprang
away; "it was a very hard time for her. And everybody looked to her for
comfort. Violet would come up and cry on her shoulder, and Rose would
beg her to go down and talk to your mother; and Cherry went and came,
and reasoned and hunted up possible causes, and cheered everybody but
herself. With a smile always ready, but pale as the winter sunshine.
You see the lines were down, so that we could not telegraph, and when
the first train broke through, even then there was no letter. She is a
brave heart."

"She is the very dearest girl in all the world!" Magnus said eagerly.

"About that," her father answered--"well, love, here you are. Now we
shall see what this brave young shoulder that is so ready to be useful,
can do."

"Then, as you will not need me, papa, I will run on ahead," and Cherry
slipped in among the trees, and was out of sight directly.



XXXI

THE SUMMER GIRL

 No man has complained that you have discoursed too long on any
 subject, for you leave us in an eagerness of hearing more.

  --DRYDEN.


The other two walked slowly on. They had always been cronies, as a man
and even a small boy can be; and now Magnus found his old friend full
of the keenest interest in all the new life and varying work of which
the young cadet had so much to tell. Slowly down the pretty hill they
went; Mr. Erskine taking from Magnus what help he could for his lame
side, and the cadet trying to make the regulation step know its place.
And it was so pleasant to see, so like the dear old times, that the
four at the cottage dropped everything to watch them as they came. Then
Mrs. Kindred hurried out to welcome her guest, the two sisters got hold
of Magnus, and Cherry went quietly back to finish setting the table.

I doubt she was not minding her business too closely, smiling to
herself over the words and laughter that came past the half-open door
of the closet where she was sorting out spoons; for she never heard
what stealthy steps drew near, and her first warning of danger was the
sudden darkening of the closet by the shutting of the door. Cherry
sprang towards it just in time to hear the bolt shot and the key
withdrawn. Then came a struggle outside.

"Oh, Magnus, stop! Cherry is in there!"

"Safe as possible."

"Give me the key! She wants to be out here."

"Then why did she go in?"

"She went for the spoons, you intolerable boy," said Violet.

"Do to talk of," said Magnus coolly. "No, my dear; she went because
this intolerable boy was around. So you perceive it is very kind of me
to keep her where she cannot see him. Come, chicks; let's get the old
banjo, and I'll sing you the 'Song of the Summer Girl.'"

"If you sing one single note when Cherry is not by to hear, we will
stop our ears," said Rose.

"Then you will not be able to tell her about it afterwards," said
Magnus. "Come along."

"Well, you cannot have your dinner till we get the spoons," said Violet.

"At West Point we eat with forks--when we have them," said Magnus.
"When we do not, we take our fingers. Where is that banjo?"

The girls followed him, talking and scolding and threatening to tell
Mr. Erskine, but Cherry had no idea of waiting for outside help. She
was a girl of resources, and the case in hand was not very hard. For
this was an outside lock, simply screwed on; an old knife made a fair
screwdriver; and, when Magnus had just reached the next room, a soft
chink made him look round, and there was Cherry, calmly putting the
spoons in place.

"Where did you come from?" he said, turning back.

"The spoon drawer. Do I understand that West Point cadets scorn both
spoons and forks?"

"I'll teach you something about West Point cadets, before I go," Magnus
asserted, stepping towards her.

"How good of you!" said Cherry mockingly, as she slipped round the
table. "We're such an ignorant set out here. Magnus, if you would
announce a lecture on warped surfaces, I really think it would draw."

What Magnus would have said or done, and how Cherry might have
suffered for her temerity, does not appear. Rose came in, bearing
a dish of such chicken pot-pie as Magnus declared never grew on a
reservation; Violet followed with potatoes and peas and beets--the
pretty red, white, and green of the summer garden; and they all sat
down to dinner. Then Magnus found that he had neither spoon nor fork.

"Why, Violet, how careless," the mother said, as he made known the fact.

"No, mamma, not I."

"Mrs. Kindred," said Cherry, "Magnus said that West Point cadets could
eat with their fingers, so I thought if he enjoyed it, we should like
to see how it was done. And it would be one less to wash. And the
chickens are cut up," she added gravely. Mrs. Kindred laughed.

"If you two are having a fight, I'll keep out," she said. "Go and help
yourself, Magnus." And this he would have done from Cherry's plate, if
that young damsel had not laid fast hold of her property; so he took
Violet's instead.

But it was a delightful dinner: what though the courses were few and
simple, and the trained waiters only the three girls. Then the two
elders carried Magnus off to the porch for another talk while the girls
cleared the table, and then they also came out, bringing the banjo.

"Now for the summer girl!" they cried, and Magnus left his place for
one on the steps at Cherry's feet.

"_She_ has been called 'a summer girl,'" he said, "and I want to see
how she likes her portrait. This lay is named: 'The Idle of the Summer
Girl.'"

"Your writing?" said Rose.

"If you admire it, yes."

"Dear me, child," said Mrs. Kindred, "do they waste your time out there
writing poetry?"

"They don't waste any of my time they get hold of, you'd better
believe," said Magnus. "I should forget what time means if I didn't
filch a little for my own use, now and then. This is: 'The Idle of the
Summer Girl. By Two Who Idled With Her,' Cadet Rig being the other
party. All the weak lines are his. There's another touching ditty on
the same theme, much sung in camp at the time of full moon, but it
takes two to do it justice, as you can judge from a specimen verse."

Magnus twanged the banjo lugubriously, and began his song, changing
voice for the supposed two singers, and giving the words of comment in
his own:

 _1st Cadet_: "O the Summer Girl has come to town."

 _2d Cadet_: "Alas, my heart!"

 _1st Cadet_: "In a sky-scraper hat, and a trail--ing gown."

 _2d Cadet_: "Alas, my heart!"

 _3d Cadet_: "Steady on that, you haven't got any."

At least four voices cried:

"Go on! Go on!"

"Can't," said Magnus; "it exhausts my feelings. Too spoony."

"Is that the way you talk to each other?" said Violet.

"Very much the way."

"And does nobody take up the cudgels for the poor summer girl?"
inquired Mr. Erskine.

"Oh, I'll take them up, if you wish," said Magnus. "My Idle does her
justice," and he dashed off into a tune crazy enough for a patchwork
quilt:

    "I sing the song of the Summer Girl;
      She feels for the lonely cadet.
    Her chocolate creams, in my very dreams
      I seem to taste them yet."

("N. B.--The last ones weren't fresh. Bought at the station probably.")

    "The peaches she threw at my head at drill,
      The apples she dropped at my feet;
    The little pound cake that she made me take,
      First biting, to make it sweet."

"Magnus--she didn't!"

"Rose--she did!"

"And you eat it?"

"Tossed it over my shoulder while she bestowed one on Chappy. Robins
aren't fetched up particular, as I was. Why, that's nothing!"

"Nothing?"

"No," said Magnus. "When a girl puts a lump of sugar between her teeth
and comes round offering everybody a bite, that is rather steep."

    "And yet, long life to the Summer Girl!
      Far be it from me to flout her.
    She's made in the shop, and she's not tip-top,
      But what could we do without her?

    There were two spoons and a single dish,
      Two hearts that beat as one;
    When we sat by the wall before recall,
      Eating ice cream in the sun."

A general shout of derision greeted this, except from Cherry, who had
grown rather quiet over these extraordinary "idles."

"Well, you must have been homesick, I should say," remarked Rose.

"Why, Magnus, I did not know you had it in you to flirt," said his
mother.

"Don't think I have, mammy, to any dangerous extent. What's the row?
Can't a man sing a song o' sixpence without being immediately spotted
for one of the blackbirds?"

"But eating out of the same dish!" said Violet.

"If you had been a year at West Point, you'd eat ice cream out of
anything," said Magnus, "and almost with anybody. I am generally
careful to keep far away on my own side, and to grow more modest as the
partition wall grows thin."

"But you had no money," said Mrs. Kindred. "I cannot see where you got
ice cream."

"Summer girl stands treat. When you see a group of fainting cadets
gathered round Delmonico's, you may take your affidavit there's a
summer girl inside. Why, the amount of boodle that fair creature
smuggles into camp and throws around generally would set a country
store up in business."

"Boodle?" queried Mr. Erskine.

"Contraband sweets of life, sir."

"But Magnus, you said 'smuggled,'" said his mother.

"Had to be smuggled, mammy, or it could never get in. Tacs would
confiscate and eat it up. And it might disagree with some of 'em.
Better let any number of cadets suffer from indigestion and go to the
hospital than have Towser off duty for a single day."

"My dear," said Mrs. Kindred, trying hard to keep a grave face, "I do
not like to have you breaking rules."

"Don't like it myself," said Magnus virtuously. "They should not make
'em so fragile."

"If they are fragile, keep off."

"Just can't, mammy. Here we've had breakfast at half past six. Then
we go head over heels into math. and heels over head into tan bark;
and not another regulation mouthful to be had till one o'clock. Flesh
and blood can't stand it, you know. We just _have_ to have a barrel of
apples handy, and a box of crackers; and any other trifles we can pick
up."

"A barrel of apples!" said Rose. "And 'smuggled' in! Wherever in the
world do you keep them?"

"You are going to be such a favourite with the Tacs next summer, I
think I will not tell," said Magnus.

"Poor starved boy!" said Rose. "And he has been home two whole days,
and not even half a dish of ice cream, yet."

"I have had all the ice I want, thank you," said Cadet Kindred, looking
up at Cherry, who as I said, had been very silent while all these other
girls filled the air. "_Cream_ has been scarce. Perhaps if you two
would stir up some sort of stuff to-morrow, Cherry would come down and
freeze it."

"You shall freeze it yourself," said Violet.

"Agreed--with her to help me." And laughing up at her with mischievous
eyes, Magnus finished his song:

    "But never you trust the Summer Girl,--
      Or you will find to your sorrow,
    That just as she smiled on Tubs to-day,
      She'll smile on Daddy to-morrow."



XXXII

LAYING FOUNDATIONS

 There are three short and simple words, the hardest of all to
 pronounce in any language, but which no man or nation that cannot
 utter, can claim to have arrived at manhood. Those words are, I
 was wrong.

 --JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.


The early tea was over, and long shadows were falling as the little
party broke up. The three girls were still debating what sort of ice
cream they should make, when just beyond the gate a neighbour, driving
by, offered Mr. Erskine a seat in his buggy. Then Magnus turned to his
sisters.

"Stay here, you girls," he said. "I have to speak to Cherry very
seriously; and I doubt if she likes to be lectured before people. Run
in."

The girls laughed and obeyed; but perhaps Cherry did not choose to wait
for lectures, nor mean to have them, for she spoke first. They were
going slowly up the hill, Magnus falling into the West Point saunter,
to which Cherry rather unwillingly conformed.

"We are walking very slow," she ventured. "And you used to walk so
fast."

"West Point style. The very first day they impressed it upon my mind
that fast walkers want to get somewhere. And, Cerise, just now I do
not."

"Magnus," she said suddenly, "what did you really mean by a 'storm
flag'?"

"Ah!" said Cadet Kindred, in a tone of deep satisfaction, "now I have
got it. I thought it could not be long before Cherry would take me in
hand."

"But whatever did you mean?"

"Come over here and sit down," he said, drawing her away from the path
to a rock among the trees, and laying himself at her feet. "Now what
was it I said in that unfortunate letter?"

"It was not unfortunate," said Cherry, "for we were very glad to get
it; only that puzzled us. You said you kept some sort of a storm flag
flying. And we did not know what a storm flag might be."

Magnus looked down for a moment in silence.

"No wonder," he said, "for the idea is something that never came into
your true heart. You know what it means to strike your colours?"

"Yes--oh, yes!"

"And what it is to keep them flying,--for you do it every day."

"And I thought that must be what you meant," said Cherry. "You did not
like to call your flag a big one, but it was always bravely flying."

"I meant more than that--or less," said Magnus. "Cerise, a storm flag
is a sort of between thing. It may blow pretty hard, you think, and so
you haul down your beautiful fair-weather banner and run up another
that costs less; a little, little strip of bunting that hardly shows it
is there. You know it is; and once in a while, in a good light, you can
see the colours; but that is about all. It does not encourage the world
much, and tells of hard weather more than of victory and joy. Do you
understand now, dear girl?"

Cherry was looking at him with the keenest attention; the pulsations of
colour came and went.

"But, Magnus," she began.

"Yes, Chérie. Say whatever comes into your heart to say."

"Then there is a little short time every now and then when the colours
are really down?"

"Yes. And the harder the gale, the longer it takes to get them
up again. It is often slow work, anyhow," said Magnus, with some
bitterness at himself.

Cherry sat silent, looking down.

"What would happen to the other flag--the big one--if you left it
flying?" she said.

"In a gale? Go to ribands, probably--the real one."

"Yes, the real one. But that is just what the bullets do to it!" said
Cherry, her eyes glowing and deepening. "And everybody only loves such
a flag the better."

"And you love me the less."

The girl started slightly, with the sudden transfer of the subject to
herself, but she made no answer.

"Speak!" Magnus said, getting hold of her hand and giving it a little
shake. "Cherry, you've _got_ to speak. Do you?"

"No," she answered slowly; "you know that could not be. We have been
friends too long. I was a little disappointed, that is all."

I suppose there are few wholesomer views a man can get of himself than
through the eyes of the right sort of woman; but the wholesome is not
always the sweet. Cadet Kindred said to himself just then that it was
extremely bitter. He had been disappointed in himself, of course, more
than once, but that was another matter. One gives little softening
touches to one's own private lectures; excusing and explaining. Now,
this true heart, which he well believed would never flinch in the
direst extremity, had counted the minutes when the colours were down,
measured the storm flag, and been "disappointed."

If she had said sharper things, he could have borne it better. Was this
weak girl going to sail away from him on every tack? This morning she
had read pages where he knew not a word; this afternoon she was ready
for the forefront of that life battle where he had at least _thought_
of dodging behind a tree.

He sat looking down, slowly swinging her hand back and forth, thinking
of the days and times when he had trained with the wrong crowd, giving
countenance to what at heart he disapproved. Nothing so dreadfully bad,
perhaps, but very small work for him, a servant of the Great King; not
loyal, not dauntless.

True, he had afterwards called himself to order; had "braced up"
spiritually, and even for a time won the title of "saint"; but
"steadfast, immovable," he had not been. And in that swift way in which
thoughts work, there flashed upon him the story of one of the battles
of the Wilderness, when, as the young colour-bearer was shot down,
another caught the banner from his hand--and another from his, until
for a few minutes the colours just fell and rose, fell and rose--but
never allowed to touch the ground; not once.

"Magnus----"

"What?" he said.

"Will you please to look up and speak?" The tone was deprecating, the
dark eyes wistful and grave.

"There does not anything please me just now, except holding your hand.
No, you cannot get it away. You see, Cherry, this is how it is: there's
a strong tide there, setting the way you shouldn't go."

"Everywhere," put in Cherry.

"So mother says; but I speak of what I know. When you first get to
the Academy, you are so homesick that you'd like to pray and read the
Bible all the time; it seems more like home than anything else. Then
you are plagued, and get provoked. Then upper classmen drive you to
prayer-meeting, and of course you don't want to go. Then you get so
tangled up in the work and the hazing that you'd give your own dog two
cents to tell you who you are. You can't keep Sunday,--at least, you
think you can't,--with guard-mounting in the morning and dress parade
at night, and in barracks a lesson a mile long for eight o'clock Monday
morning."

"But Magnus, you do not study on Sunday?" Cherry said anxiously.

"I did once--and maxed it straight through, had a splendid week, and
saw visions of Willet's Point. So I thought I'd try it again. And that
week I just went down; got the worst marks I ever had, and, instead
of the doughty Engineer Corps, had the Immortals in full view. So I
concluded to get back into the good old ways and stay there."

Cherry laughed, but her eyes glistened. "That was one of the Lord's
gentle rebukes," she said.

"Well, it lasted," said Magnus. "I haven't done that thing again."

"And they make no allowance for the day before's being Sunday?"

"Not a bit. Why, one of the instructors advised us to have our
prayer-meeting early Sunday night, that there might be more hours for
study."

"But if you told them, Magnus?"

"They would just think I was shirking. You see we could not ask in
numbers enough to be a power, for many of the men do not care. That's
another thing in one's way; see a first classman as meek as Moses at
prayer-meeting, and then in camp have him just as hateful as Pharaoh
and all the Egyptians."

"To you yourself, Magnus?"

"I was a pleb once, you know. And nothing was too bad to do to a pleb,
for the best of men. No, I take that back; we had--and we have--some
splendid upper classmen; men who dose you with good counsel. It is not
always pleasant to take, Chérie, but it did me lots of good, for they
lived up to it themselves. They help, too, in other ways. Get a pleb
in out of the sun, and give him some play work in a tent, and so keep
him away from the hazing parties and give him time to breathe. Mr.
Upright was always doing such things."

"I should think everyone would love him very much."

"Yes, but you mustn't," said Magnus, giving her hand a little swing.
"You are not to love anybody but me. However, Upright isn't there now;
graduated, and gone to make enlisted men good and happy, wherever he's
stationed. Trueman is such another; and Starr, in our class. Ugliest
little man you ever saw, and the best."

"Then I do not believe he is the ugliest," said Cherry decidedly. "But
it was not like that last year, Magnus?"

"Oh, no! Yearlings have leave to step out and show themselves. Get
invited to picnics, some of them, and go to the hops, most of them, and
are wild for fun, all of them."

"Well, Magnus?"

"Well, Chérie, you see how it was. I have not been as bad as I might,
nor anything like as good. They think me a pretty reliable fellow over
there, but I'm not by any means what you would call a shining light.
Six in studies, and one in discipline, and a double-first at all sorts
of mischief."

Cherry could not help smiling.

"The very same boy you always were," she said.

"Pretty much. Only this is mischief that tells. Chocolate parties in
rooms after lights are out."

"After lights are out?"

"Supposed to be. Explosions on the area coming from nowhere and
nothing; and post dogs, painted to admiration."

"But, Magnus!"

"What, my lady?"

"_You_ do not do such things?"

"I drank the chocolate--should have got skinned for it, too, only I
stood behind something when Towser came in. And I looked at the dog.
And I did not go out of my wits with astonishment at the explosions.
Queer, too; for when you get together a bell button, a match, a white
feather, a little powder, and a second classman, they make more noise
than you would suppose possible."

"I thought they kept such watch of you," Cherry said. "We have wasted a
great deal of sympathy."

"No you haven't, and yes, they do; that's the fun. Some of the men will
tell you that breaking regulations is all the fun they have."

"Not you, Magnus?"

"No, not I exactly. I never can quite get rid of a certain respect for
law and order. But you would laugh yourself; you couldn't help it, to
see a solemn-looking Tac inspecting for apples, and know that they were
within an inch of his nose, where he couldn't find them."

"And you all kept grave?"

"Stood attention, like the sweet boys we were, till he was gone,--and
stood on our heads afterwards."

Cherry did laugh, but rather doubtfully. "I suppose it must be fun,"
she said, "but I wish you would let the other boys have it."

"That is not the only sort, by any means," said Magnus. "One day Miss
Flirt had brought Crinkem a basket of pears. Well, he stored them
skilfully in parts unknown, till friendly darkness should come to help;
had to go to drill, and told Carr (who hadn't) to keep an eye on the
basket. Which Carr did. Wasn't a pear there when Crinkem got back."

"Who is Crinkem?"

"First classman, then."

"And who is Miss Flirt?"

"A summer girl who stays all the time, and flirts with everybody."

"With you?"

"No, because she can't. She jeered me when I was a poor candidate, and
I vowed revenge."

"I should say revenge lay in the other direction," remarked Cherry.

"Not for her. She's been on tiptoe to rope me in, ever since I wore
chevrons. I did half think I would teach her a lesson when I got to be
first captain."

"Oh, Magnus, don't!"

"Why not?"

"Because she is a woman," said Cherry earnestly. "Oh, Magnus, help even
the silly people, if you can. I've been thinking so much lately of the
dear Lord's words: 'Ye are the salt of the earth.' Don't you know how
salt gives strength and character to even things tasteless and ready to
spoil?"

Magnus bent down, reverently touching his lips to the hand he held.

"It's a pledge," he said. "I'll let Miss Flirt alone; help her, if I
can. But Cerise, I only said _thought_. And I have not thought it any
more since I have seen you again. You are certainly that salt, for me."

"How did the class supper go off?" Cherry inquired, changing the
subject. "You were full of it when you wrote last."

"It went off," said Magnus soberly. "The crowd was there. And some of
the crowd were too full of it afterwards. Don't speak about that; I'd
like to forget it."

She looked at him a little wonderingly, with that grave, earnest look
which was so innocent of evil, but said no more. Magnus watched her
for a minute, then gently laid back in her lap the hand he had been
holding, and turned half away.

"You want to hear about it," he said, "and you shall; it is best you
should. Cherry, you know cadets are forbidden strong drink, in any
shape, while they are at the Post?"

She nodded.

"Well, before furlough and before graduation, there is always a vote
taken by each class,--'wet or dry,' for the class supper; shall they
have wine--or shall they not? I have heard of one class who fought it
through for temperance, and won. With, of course, a minority protest;
but so really a minority that the other was counted as the class vote;
and their names should be gold-starred in every register. Our class had
no such proud distinction, nor the late first; and the usual results
followed."

"But Magnus!" The girl's colour changed so that he could not bear to
look at her.

"Yes?" he said, with a deep breath. "Ask any questions you like."

"I cannot ask!" she cried in distress. "These men whom you praise so
highly, who are so pleasant, so brilliant----"

"Were under a cloud that night, some of them," said Magnus gravely.
"They did not fall under the table, Cherry, but they did try to get
upon it and harangue the world from thence. It took pretty forcible
persuasions to keep some of them down."

"Alas!" Cherry said, in a tone of sorrow and pity that might have gone
to anybody's heart, her sweet eyes brimming over. "Oh, Magnus, what did
the minority do?"

Magnus glanced up at her.

"Stood to their votes, some of them," he said; "and some did not. And
of those last, Cherry, I was one."

"_You_, Magnus?" The words came with such a cry that the young man felt
as if he had been struck. Not another word followed, but he could see
that she was trembling from head to foot.

"Do not mistake me," he said gently. "I did not disgrace myself in any
open way, but I did take more than was good for me. For the first, and
for the last time, the Lord being my witness and my help."

And now something in his words scattered the last show of Cherry's
self-control. She exclaimed once more:

"Oh, Magnus!"

But then her head went down in her hands, and she cried as bitterly
as only those women who rarely cry at all can do--silently,
uncontrollably, shaken like a young willow by this sudden flood which
had burst its bounds. Cherry could not stay the tears, could not look
up nor speak.

And Magnus on his part ventured neither word nor touch, and after a
minute or two no look. The sight of the dear head, bowed so low in its
distress, was more than he could bear. He turned away, with a sort
of groan, thinking of that miserable night with unmeasured scorn of
himself. Not that he had by any means gone the length of many another
man; no one had been obliged to call him to order or see him home. But
he knew that both dignity and manhood had been tampered with, and the
scorn was deep. Not even a poor storm flag out that night!

Would Cherry ever speak to him again?

And now he turned towards her once more. One long curly brown tress had
slipped from the comb, and lay waving down at his side. Magnus looked
at it, touched it softly, then turned away again.

There came a sound of steps and voices, and, too quick to be hindered,
Cherry sprang to her feet and darted away; and Magnus was taken
possession of by his two young sisters, one on either side.

"What are you doing?" said Violet gaily. "Composing a sonnet to the
summer girl's eyebrows?"

"They are not always her own. What are _you_ about, chicks? wandering
round at this time of night."

"We came to help you get home," said Rose. "Or to find out if you were
coming."

"Because, if you are not, one pint of flannel cakes for breakfast will
be enough," said Violet. "Where is Cherry?"

"I do not know."

"Oh, you took her home, and got moonstruck on the way back," said Rose.

"Struck with something. It was more like Ithuriel's spear," said Magnus
absently.

"But what were you at, sure enough?"

"Getting photographs of myself in the moonlight."

"Snap-shots?" Rose asked, laughing at him.

"Just that. You are good little girls to look me up. Come, let us go."

And with a sort of bitter-sweet sense of holding fast what he had,
Magnus put his arm round each, and so led them down the hill, their
young voices making merry, the girlish arms locked round him, fast and
true.

This did not lay his thoughts, however. Should _he_ ever mar the joy of
these gay tones? ever make the innocent eyes look down in shame, for
him? Thoughts, questions, purposes, surged through the young cadet's
head as he walked along, and Magnus would fain have gone straight to
the silence of his own room. But they had waited prayers for him, and
of course he must take his place.

There are moods, however, in which no prayers but one's own will do;
and though Magnus did hear his mother's voice, and the chapter she
read, he could never have told a word of it afterwards. He got away as
soon as he could, and went upstairs; went to his own room and locked
the door, and fell on his knees; it seemed to him as if only so could
he even think out anything clearly.

How had it all come about? The wild transport of the last few days had
confused everything.

He remembered now that one and another had counselled him not to go,
to cut the class supper, and so save money, risk, and name. "I'll have
nothing to do with the whole thing," Twinkle had said. And he could see
the staunch, quiet face of some who were there and yet stood to their
vote. Why had not he?

It was not real cowardice, Magnus said to himself. He had thought the
word, and yet the bravery called for had not been so much that of
standing a taunt or refusing a persuasion; the men had not said so very
much to him. Perhaps, indeed, more open attack might have roused more
open resistance. But he had lacked that utterly "valiant for the truth"
heart, which for love of the cause, and seeing the fight at hand,
flings out the unpopular banner and stands beside it.

As in those dreadful days of the New York riots, when all the servants
in a certain house declared their sympathy with the rioters and against
the flag. And the dear mistress of the house, alone there, and with no
one to back her, ran out the biggest "Old Glory" she could find, from
her very most conspicuous window, and kept it floating.

Just there, Magnus felt, had been his fault, ever since he went to the
Academy; his religion had been too little an open, positive thing; had
not gone forth enough from its own intrenchments. He had rarely ever
tried to make himself a power for good. There had been back and forth
progress and impulses (if I may so put it), but not steady, daily
growth; not joyful, burning zeal for Christ and his cause. So, in the
wild excitement of that day and night, he had forgotten everything but
that he was off on furlough. Now it had come to this.

Had he lost Cherry? He could not tell. But he would be worthy of her,
whether or not. If the joy of his life was gone, and sometimes Magnus
felt that it was, yet honour and truth remained. "What shall it profit
a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

Nay, he would neither "lose himself," nor be "cast away." Thoughts
passed into earnest, pleading prayer, into new consecration vows; and
when the next fair dawn came stealing over the shadowed world, Cadet
Charlemagne Kindred had folded away his storm flag, and nailed his
noblest colours to the mast, and bid them fly!



XXXIII

BUILDING THEREON

    Do you know you have asked for the costliest thing
      Ever made by the Hand above?
    A woman's heart and a woman's life,
      And a woman's wonderful love?

    You have written my lesson of duty out;
      Manlike have you questioned me:
    Now stand at the bar of my woman's soul,
      While I shall question thee.

    --MRS. BROWNING.


But with that point settled, and a stand taken which Magnus knew
would now, by the grace of God, be held till death; there came also a
restless impatience to see Cherry again and know the worst--if worst
it was to be. And so, when Mrs. Kindred bade him go up the hill after
breakfast and see how Mr. Erskine fared after his walk, Magnus went off
with the most eager alacrity.

He found the two over their reading, as on that first day. Mr. Erskine
greeted him very warmly, Cherry gave a little cold, trembling hand, and
no look at all.

"We were almost through our passage," Mr. Erskine said. "Will you sit
down, my boy, and wait five minutes before we begin to talk?"

Magnus said truly that he should like very much to listen, and if
Cherry opened her lips to say no, she thought better of it, and went
straight on with her reading.

But it was with extreme difficulty; the voice shook and fell; more
than once she stopped short for breath to go on, and at last, midway
in a verse, the words faltered, broke, and after a moment's brave
struggle, Cherry hid her face on her father's breast.

"My poor little girl!" he said soothingly, kissing the bowed head. "She
is not herself, Magnus, this morning. Got up with a headache and a
white face. I was quite troubled about her. And in some moods the words
and imagery of the Bible search out all one's weak spots."

"I do not understand Greek, sir," said Magnus briefly.

"Oh, you do not? Then I should not have made you listen. I beg pardon.
This was it,--a grand passage:

"'And there shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the
Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him; and they shall
see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.'"

"But you should not break down there, love. _That_ is all victory."

"She was thinking of those who have not won it, sir," said Magnus.

"Perhaps--dear heart!" said her father. "Well, my boy, never do you be
one of those. Fight the good fight, even on the smallest field. 'As a
good soldier of Jesus Christ.'"

"I mean it, sir," Magnus answered gravely. "Mr. Erskine, what that girl
needs is fresh air. If you will send her off for a good walk with me,
I'll find a place in the woods where she can leave her headache. Do you
want her to sputter Greek to you any longer?"

"'Sputter Greek!'" Mr. Erskine repeated. "Well, that certainly displays
your knowledge of the language. Yes, go, love. I think Magnus is right."

"I know he is, this time," said that young man confidently. "I wish I
could stay with you, Mr. Erskine, while she is gone, but then you see
she wouldn't go. I'll stay as long as you like when we come back."

"I don't doubt it," said his friend, smiling. "I know you of old.
'Sputter Greek,' indeed! My Cherry, who has such a specially fine
accent. I think she is very good to go with you at all."

"Cherry never thinks of herself, sir," said Magnus. "If you ask her
this minute, she will tell you she has thought only of me, ever since I
came in."

A quick, assenting colour leaped into the pale cheeks for a moment, as
Cherry tied on her hat, but she said nothing; and Mr. Erskine was too
well used to the chaffing between the two to do more than laugh at it.

So they went out into the perfect June day, slowly along amid
hedgerows and flowers, bees, butterflies, and birds, to the edge of
the shadowy woodland. For some reason of his own, Magnus had put on
the grey that morning, and now as they went on, Cherry could not but
notice and admire the free, regular step, and the easy exactness of
the tall shadow that kept pace with her own. But he said nothing, nor
did she, and once, glancing up at him from under her hat, she noted
the deep quiet of his face--very, very grave, yet with a fine, clear
steadfastness that seemed to herald victory from henceforth. A man's
face now, a boy's no longer.

Absorbed as he appeared to be, Magnus must have been also watching her,
for he caught the look.

"Yes?" he said. "What were you going to ask? Sit down, Cerise; here is
a good place for you."

But he did not put himself at her feet, as yesterday, nor even close at
her side, but on a grey rock a little way off; then threw his cap down
on the grass, and sat watching her anxiously.

"What is it?" he said again. "Speak out all that is in your dear
heart. You could not offend me, and hurts from you will only do me
good."

Probably the "all" in Cherry's heart was a good deal, just then; for at
first she could bring nothing out.

"I am not sure that I was going to say anything," she answered with
effort.

"Well, you looked at me," said Magnus. "What was that for? To see what
sort of a wild animal I had turned into since last night?"

"No, no! Oh, Magnus don't talk so. People may look at each other, I
suppose."

"I suppose they may--and I have been looking at you. Cherry, have you
been crying over me all night? Because, if you have, I might as well go
and drown myself at once."

Cherry remarked logically that she did not see how that would help
matters.

"They used to say you never cried," Magnus said reproachfully.

"Most women keep a few tears for special occasions," said Cherry,
trying to speak lightly.

"Well, you have squandered your whole stock on me," said Magnus; "you
don't look as if there could be one tear left. I'm not worth it,
Cherry. Such a coward, such a careless fellow; yielding to temptation,
and with only bravery enough left to own it. I wonder you should cry
over _him_."

Plainly, the fountain had not yet run dry, for the girl looked at him
with her eyes full.

"Oh, Magnus!" she cried, "why do you talk so? You break my heart."

"Well, you are breaking mine," said Magnus; "so we're quits."

"What have I done?" Cherry faltered.

"Thrown me off like a bad package. You didn't look at me when I came
in, you hardly spoke to me. I suppose I deserve it, but that does not
generally make things much easier."

"Just now you found fault with me for looking at you."

"Found fault, did I?" said Magnus. "I wonder you dare say such a thing
to me."

"Well, remarked upon it, then," Cherry corrected herself.

"A man is pretty apt to remark upon the first gleam of anything like
sunlight he has seen for twelve hours."

"Those twelve hours having come off chiefly in the night."

"Stop chopping logic with me! If I get cross there is no telling what I
may do. Cherry, why don't you say out all the dreadful things at once,
and have them off your mind?"

"But, I thought it was to cure my _head_ you brought me here?"

"You did not think any such thing. You knew I had to have it out with
you, some time, and now you will not let me do it. Never even gave me
your hand when I came in, but just a little piece of ice."

"You are quite wild this morning," Cherry said, with the feeling that
detachments were coming up faster than she could manage them.

"Men are apt to be, when they are waiting to be shot and the guns don't
go off."

"But how do I hinder your having a talk?"

"It takes two to make a bargain, doesn't it? Oh, yes, I can talk on by
myself, Saturdays and Sundays, and all the week, and tell the truth
straight through. How lovely Cherry looks this morning! The first night
I came back I found she had grown handsomer than I ever thought any
woman could be, and I think so still. And there's not a girl in all the
world that is half so good. And I never cared two straws for anybody
else--and never shall. Never could, for that matter. And I've been
a fool, and a poltroon, and anything else you like; and so she has
thrown me off, and has no use for me any more. And it makes me just mad
to sit here and think that I have lost her. And some day I shall get
her wedding cards, with the name of some nice man who never tied his
shoestrings in a hurry."

"Magnus, why, Magnus!" Cherry said, astonishment sending every other
feeling to the rear. "What is the matter with you?"

"That."

"What has come over you?"

"This."

"But we cannot have our talk on such terms," said Cherry, catching her
breath a little.

"They're the only terms we shall ever talk on again," said Magnus. "We
always chose each other out, from the time we could walk; and I knew I
loved you with all my heart when I went away. But the minute I saw you
again, that first night, I knew that I never should--never could--love
anybody else. Not if I lived to be nine hundred and ninety-nine, and
you got in love with forty other men."

Cherry could not help laughing, in spite of herself, for sheer
nervousness.

"I think that would cure you," she said.

"No, it wouldn't. I ought to know, after fighting the thing through all
night."

"But, Magnus, we used to be just brother and sister," Cherry said very
low.

"No, we didn't. Maybe you think so. We're not that now, anyway, and
never shall be again. That was why I poured out the whole thing to you
last night, and made you sick. I wanted you to know everything there
was to tell. Just how weak and wicked and mean I could be. I knew I
didn't deserve to hold your hand this morning, and that was the very
reason I wanted it so much."

"But, Magnus," Cherry said, the bright drops welling up again, "that
'could' is in the past."

"With the Lord's help, yes!" he answered. "I will live a pure life and
a true life, even if I must live it alone. Your arrow did its work."

"Mine?" the girl cried. "Oh, Magnus, was I so unkind?"

"So kind. But I was pierced through, all the same."

"I did not mean it," she said, the tears dropping down. "Oh, Magnus, I
did not mean it!"

"Well, you had better mean it," he said; "good enough for me. If there
were more girls like you in the world there'd be more better men. Why,
half of the women you see almost put the stuff down your throat. Give
it to you so sweetened and spiced and fussed up that you don't know
what you're taking. And when it's once in your mouth, it's pretty hard
not to swallow it."

"Very hard, I should think," said Cherry. "It looks easier to refuse it
altogether."

"For you, I dare say; but things are not always exactly what they look,
for other people. However, I am going to try it. So if you ever happen
to read in the papers of a hopelessly insane cadet, you'll know who it
is."

Again the girl's eyes filled, though a bit of a smile came too.

"Magnus," she said, "I think you are called to be a leader."

"Looks like it."

"But I mean, really. How many other fellows, do you think, may take
heart to follow, if you will but show the way?"

"So you said before. How many? I don't know; perhaps some. Oh, there
are men enough there now who never touch anything stronger than water.
And I never did, till that unlucky night. But I've been in lately,
somehow, with the other crowd."

"Crowds are unsafe places," Cherry said with a sigh.

"Well, don't waste any long breaths on me," Magnus said. "Why do you?"

The girl's lips parted in that same pathetic smile, but then they began
to quiver, trembling so that she could not speak.

"I wonder at you," Magnus repeated. "Why don't you tell me all your
mind, and bid me go? What do _you_ want of such a Derelict?"

"Magnus, you are very hard to me."

"I? Hard to you?" Magnus repeated, at her feet now. "To you? My beauty,
and treasure, and heart's delight? The girl I love best in all the
world, and the only one I ever can love better than everything else. I,
hard to _you_? The girl I left behind me, with my heart in her keeping.
And now she sits there, despising me. Cherry, I never was anything but
true to you; never. I have fooled with other girls, but I did not care
a red cent for the whole lot."

"No--" Cherry said, drawing a long, long sigh. "Oh Magnus! you were not
true to yourself."

"Never mind me," Magnus answered unreasonably. "I don't want you for a
missionary. If I've got to have one, call in some old wrinkled specimen
that will not distract my mind. If you don't care anything about me
except to get me creditably out of the world, why, say so. I have told
you all the worst things about myself. And if you are willing to work
it as we always did; I carrying you over the hard places, and you
brushing the mud off with your own little hands--you can say that, too."

"Oh, Magnus!" she cried, "there must not be any mud."

"There must not be, and there isn't going to be; but what if there
was? We can't have the marriage service made over just for us two,
I suppose. I mean it shall be for better and better, every day I
live--but you've got to _take_ me 'for better, for worse.'"

I fancy few men have any faint notion what it is to a woman to have
her image of perfection marred; perhaps men less often set up ideals,
unless in the line of beauty; and that is altogether a lower erection.
To see "fragile" written on your tower of strength, and the hero marked
"human," in unmistakable letters, is a very, very sharp lesson. A
good one, though; the sooner that form of idolatry ceases the better;
letting the woman down--or up--to her proper station of helpmeet.
Cherry's heart was ringing yet with the ache and the sorrow, her eyes
dazed with this sudden mortal light let in upon the world of dreams and
imaginations.

Her love was not changed, she knew that; as it had gone out to the
hero, so still it went out to the man, and would, while her life
lasted. No question to settle there. But now another was stirring in
the girl's heart, coming on a sudden uncalled for, unwelcome--and the
old words of the apostle confronted her:

"And the wife see that she reverence her husband."

Could she do that? For suppose--

Cherry could not put the thought in actual black and white, even to
herself, but none the less she heard it speak. He had been tempted
once--what if it happened again, or again?

And now the girl lifted her head and looked at him, as if to spell out
the answer; never guessing how she looked. Wistful, questioning, eager;
a look so pathetic in its love and sorrow that Magnus had all he could
do to sit still and bear it. But then Cherry turned away again, and
dropping her face in her hands cried and sobbed as if she had never
cried before.

"That means, you give me up," Magnus said, struggling with himself.
"You have no use for me any more; and I may go to Jericho or the moon,
as I like best. Well, it is natural, I suppose. What could you want
with anyone who had even once given way? I shall never blame you,
Cherry. But, stop crying, dear heart! It's hard lines for a man to be
killed two ways at once. Cherry--stop! Do you hear?"

With a great effort the girl controlled herself, and looked up, pushing
the tears to right and left; drawing one of those long clearing-wind
breaths of which women seem to have the prerogative. A breath at once
of loss and of courage, coming from the depths of pain, but telling of
courage and hope; that sort of sigh which has many a time been followed
by a shout of victory.

Magnus had been watching her eagerly, but as she looked up, his eyes
turned away, and Cherry again studied him. What a boy he was still,
after all: the young head with its short, curling hair, already showing
that West Point barbers were far away; the smooth cheek giving faint
tokens of what soon would be. The very hands looked so young. They were
not clasped nor folded, but lay absolutely still, with that air of
intense waiting which the whole figure wore. Cherry gazed at them, one
and another scene of her young life wherein those hands had played a
part coming up before her. Played it so well and so kindly that she had
every line of them by heart; sledding, strawberrying, nutting, riding;
the broken toys they had mended, the strong help they had been in many
a rough place. Always gentle and patient for her, always ready to do
her bidding; the tenderest hands when she was hurt, the most untirable
for her need.

Cherry almost cried out aloud, for the sudden stricture of heart, but
she kept herself in hand, and now her look went up to the face again,
and she found that Magnus was watching her, with the intensest, hungry,
longing eagerness. He did not stir, but sat still in that attitude of
waiting.

"Magnus--"

"What?"

"Why do not you speak?"

"I have nothing to say, Cherry."

"Nothing?"

"Nothing. I have said all I can. I might promise never to grieve you
again; might promise all sorts of beautiful things; but you know--and I
know--that something stronger than mere love of you, dear, must do the
work, and that the work must be done, whether you ever love me again or
not. I believe I did not know I could be tempted--and I have been left
to find it out. If I tell you that I have sworn unto the Lord and will
not go back, it is not to plead my cause with you, Cherry; but because
I know that just for old-time's sake, your dear heart will always care
that your old playmate should grow into a man and not a beast."

"Oh, Magnus!" she cried, in that same sudden way.

"Well, that is what it amounts to. That was what I called myself next
morning. And then with the joy of getting home and among you all
again--and the wonder of seeing what you had grown into--everything
else went out of my head. I was so eager to have you that I took it for
granted you would have me. Then I remembered that for two whole years
you had seen nothing of me, and the more I loved you the more that
thought kept coming up. So then I gave you the whole story, and lost
all I care for in this world. But it had to be done--and I should do it
again. You needn't look at me so, dear, and try to hide how you feel.
You could not help being disgusted. I do not blame you in the least,
Cherry."

"Oh, Magnus!" she cried again. "How can you use such words about me?"

"What words shall I use? You were disgusted, and you know it."

"No, oh, no!"

"What then? Choose your own words, and tell me."

"I thought my heart was breaking," the girl said, pressing both hands
upon her breast. "That was all."

"Was that all?" Magnus said, with a sort of quiet rage at himself. "Had
I done nothing but that? Only broken the truest heart that ever beat?
Nothing more?"

"Please, please!" Cherry pleaded. "Magnus, I cannot talk to you if you
say such things."

"Go on then, you, and do the talking. Didn't I tell you I had nothing
more to say?"

Cherry hesitated a moment, and then she put out her hand and laid it
softly on that other which had grown so brown with handling guns and
pontoons. Magnus winced, as at the touch of sharp steel, but his own
hand never stirred.

"What is it?" he said rather shortly.

"Magnus--does your mother know?"

"I am going to tell her."

"No, no, do not! There is no need," Cherry said earnestly.

"Not much use, perhaps," he answered in a gloomy tone. "She's bound to
be my mother, through thick and thin."

"Promise!" Cherry said.

"What have you got to do with it?" Magnus asked her, looking up. "What
business is it of yours, anyhow? You have washed your hands of me and
my concerns."

"Magnus, you _know_ that is not true."

"I hope it will not take more tears to do the work," he went on in the
same tone. "There have been enough shed now, to clear away fifteen
years of memories."

"You do not think so, or you would not say it," poor Cherry protested.
"You are just trying to make me contradict you."

"Am I?" said Magnus, with a half laugh. "Well, go ahead and do it,
then. Say nothing could ever make you forget me."

"Nothing ever could."

"Say you did love me with all your heart when I went away."

"Yes."

"And all the time I was gone."

"All the time."

"And when I came home."

"Yes," the girl answered in her grave, sweet tones.

"So little while ago!" Magnus said, with a deep breath. "Cherry, you
were very distant to me at first--have been, all along."

"You were a little bit of a stranger."

"And now you know me too well. So it goes. If I had not told you--but
it is better so."

"Oh, yes; far better!" the girl said earnestly. "Secrets are terrible
things between people who--care for each other."

"How cautiously she chooses her words," Magnus said, in the same hard
way. "Has to stop and think whether she even cares."

"Magnus, that is not true."

"Didn't you stop to think what to say?"

"Yes."

"Well, then."

"People stop to think for different reasons."

"You were afraid of saying too much, and you know you were."

"If you are so very far-seeing, perhaps you can also tell me why."

"Because you are as true as the blue sky," said Magnus; "and as
tender, and so you wanted to use the softest words you could, and hurt
me the least."

"You would not 'make a max,' as you call it, on girls," said Cherry,
her lips parting in a bit of a smile. "I did not choose my words so, at
all."

"Why, then?"

"Because I am a girl, I think," she answered rather slowly.

"And so did not want to give more pain than you could help. That is
just what I said."

"Do you ever play stupid at West Point?" Cherry said a little
impatiently.

"No need to play it."

"Well, there is no need now," she said, springing up; "and I am going
home till you come back to your common sense."

"No, don't go!" Magnus said, catching hold of her dress. "Sit down
and lecture me, scold me, say what you will of me, only stay a while
longer. Cherry, you do not know what it is to have the only girl in the
world throw you off."

She turned then, and stood looking down at him; the fair face telling
all he wanted to know; but, as Cherry had said, he was not well read in
girls.

"Magnus," she said, "what makes you talk so? I am not 'the only girl
in the world'--but I have not thrown you off. You know I could not do
that. Unless----"

"Unless what?" he said eagerly.

"Unless I knew you had _chosen_ such ways," the girl said, growing very
white. "And then it would be you that had thrown me off."



XXXIV

AMBUSHES

    Soft silken hours,
    Open suns, shady bowers;
    'Bove all, nothing within that lowers.

    --CRASHAW.


Magnus was as good as his word, and stayed all day. What though Cherry
was summarily sent off, after the early dinner, to sleep away the
effects of her headache. Whether she slept or not I would not dare say;
but certainly Magnus talked, and kept Mr. Erskine well amused, till she
appeared again.

But he gave not a hint of the morning's work; about that, both parties
most interested held their peace. I think they both craved silence
for a while, and so kept in hiding; not ready yet to hear common
tongues discuss the new-found wonder of the world. Cherry had been too
shaken and bruised--there were too many sharp details still vividly
in sight--for her to go straight to her father, as perhaps at another
time she might have done; she needed to steady her own thoughts first.
And for Magnus, too, the morning had been a hard one, even with its
culmination of joy. Besides, counting Cherry his own from that time
forward, the small ceremony of asking for her could well wait. Probably
Mr. Erskine needed no telling how things stood. And if it were indeed
a secret, what fun to keep it such! He wanted no words on the subject,
just now, save from Cherry herself. Not yet.

All the family from the other house came up the hill to tea next day,
but saw nothing new. If Cherry was more quiet than usual, that was
not strange, after such a headache; and if Cadet Kindred, on the other
hand, was as full of pranks as the veriest boy could be, it was not
such an unheard-of thing as to draw any special attention. One thing
they might have seen, that his mischief and frolic never came near
Cherry; towards her his manner was a silent devotion of the most tender
and serious sort, but he kept everyone else in such a breeze that no
one gave heed.

Speeding back from the post-office with a handful of letters, Magnus
announced that Messrs. Twinkle and Rig--alias Cadets Starr and
McLean--were coming to make him a visit in the course of their furlough
wanderings, and everybody at once went into committee on the proper and
possible means of delighting them.

Magnus, indeed, turned off the matter very easily.

"It is done to your hand," he affirmed. "Mother's cake and pies and
bread and butter--with two girls--would make the average cadet almost
too happy to support life."

"Two girls!" Rose commented. "You seem to leave Cherry out."

"I did--that's a fact," Magnus said, with a queer gesture. "But then
you also leave me out, and I am a third cadet; so it's all right.
She'll not stand in the cold."

"I do not think she will, if the others have any sense," said Rose.

"The average cadet has not much, when there are girls around," said
Magnus. "He has such hard rubs all day from the Profs and Tacs that
their soft ways get the better of him."

"We have no soft ways, here," said Rose decidedly.

"Not for me, I know; but wait till Twinkle comes along."

"Twinkle--what a name!" said Violet.

"He couldn't miss it, being a small man called Starr," said Magnus.
"And he's not a blazer, by any means; keeps down well near the horizon,
and never even poses as a first-magnitude man. Sometimes when he fesses
more than usually frigid, we sing him to sleep with:

    "Twinkle! Twinkle! little Starr!
    How I wonder what you are."

"I think that is perfectly mean!" said Rose indignantly. "Making sport
of each other's misfortunes."

"We should die if we didn't make sport of something," said Magnus. "And
you laugh easier when you take another man's scalp, than when he takes
yours."

"Well, of all the lingo that ever was heard, I think your cadet slang
is the queerest," said Violet.

"Glad it meets your approval," Magnus said, with a bow. "Say, Cherry,
just promise you'll walk with nobody but me, while those fellows are
here. Have a previous every time. These girls are so keen-set for
brotherly kindness that they'll be sacrificing themselves on me to let
you have the strangers. You're too tall for Twinkle, and Rig will turn
your head."

"Or she will turn his," said Violet.

"I suppose that is it. But it wouldn't do for Rig to get rattled. The
poor boy has got to go back and bone for dear life. Rose will keep him
up to his duty; talk geometry to him, and make his life a burden."

"Rose will?" said that young person, lifting her eyebrows. "Well, I
wish Cherry would talk some sense into you."

"Nobody can do it half so well," said Magnus, with a change of tone.
"And she is going to try; she is to give me a special private lecture
every day I am here. So that it is really quite providential to have
Twinkle and Rig on hand, for they'll keep you two girls amused and out
of the way."

"Indeed! And who is to amuse mother?"

"Cherry and I."

And Magnus stooped down by his mother, with arms about her neck, and
laid his face close to hers.

"Cherry and I, mammy," he said softly. "Do you understand? Cherry and
I?"

Only Cherry saw the little start, the eager look at him, and the slight
nod with which Magnus answered. But Mrs. Kindred was a wise woman,
and said no word. Perhaps she prayed a little more for the two after
that; though really I do not know whether she could. There sprang up an
instant wish in Cherry's mind, however, that no word should be said to
anybody else until the two strange cadets should have made their visit
and gone. Magnus was quite wild enough, even with this slight check
upon his proceedings. And an unconsciously deprecating look went over
to him, which the young man caught, read, and answered with a profound
bow.

"Yes, lady," he said; "your commands shall be obeyed. Even to the half
of my fortune. Or, as I haven't any at all, perhaps the whole will not
be too much."

"By the way," said Mr. Erskine, noting (and somehow resenting) the pink
tints that came up in Cherry's cheeks; "what has become of that 'very
best sort of a girl' you talked so fast about last week?"

"What has become of her?" Magnus repeated, standing involuntary
"attention."

"Yes. Where is she?"

"At home, sir."

"I will not ask where that is, as I have not permission," said Mr.
Erskine, smiling now; "but what does she say to your coming here first
and staying so long?"

"She has made no objection as yet, sir. So I do not think she will."

"Well, she ought, if she cares enough for you," said Mr. Erskine.
"Boy, I'm afraid you have got yourself tangled up in a foolish thing."

"What should you call 'enough,' sir?"

"Well--all she can," said Mr. Erskine.

"How much _could_ any first-best girl care for me, sir?" said Magnus,
moving a step or two for a better view of Cherry.

"Oh, you need not try the modest game here," said Mr. Erskine, laughing
at him. "It is too late in the day for that. If she only cares a
little, let her go; and find one who will love all there is in you,
and a good deal more that she thinks is there. I wouldn't give a
counterfeit five cents for a tepid girl."

Mr. Erskine spoke with such disgustful energy that everybody laughed
out.

"But what girl is this?" Rose demanded. "Someone you never told us of?"

"There are fifty girls I never told you of."

"And besides, Rose, he is only attitudinising," said Mr. Erskine. "I
do not believe the girl is in existence that could get him away. He is
just young man enough to like the part of an easy-minded lover."

Magnus remarked with some energy that it was better than the part of
an _un_easy-minded lover, every time. But now the fun of the thing got
hold of him, and sealed his lips in earnest. No, if really people could
not see, they could wait.

Several other things came in to further and abet the silence.

First of all, the neighbourhood waked up to the fact that a prospective
brigadier was among them, and the inroads to see Magnus, and to hear
him tell his experience, were many--and "a nuisance." So he himself
declared, making wry faces over his popularity.

Then, Mr. Erskine had one of his suffering weeks, when troubling him
with questions was not to be thought of. Magnus detailed himself as
head nurse, taking all the night work, sending Cherry off to bed, and
gathering up the reins generally in his own hands, proving himself
most tender and efficient as well as strong. Of course, things must
be talked over before he went back; but even Cherry herself could not
think this a good time.

On the back of all these hinderances, and just as Mr. Erskine began to
be about again, came the other two cadets.



XXXV

OF COURSE

    Admire my daughter! Sir, you're very good.

    --_Tales of the Hall._


There followed such a round of teas on the hill and dinners at the
cottage; of picnics, walks, drives, and berry-scouts, that the days
gave up their ordinary rate of progress, and flew. June had long been
out of sight; and now July was ending, and August close at hand. Magnus
indeed closed his ears to the soft flutter, as the days winged by; but
not so Mrs. Kindred, and not so Cherry. The girl began to look forward
with absolute dismay to the drawing out from her daily life of this
gold-twisted silken thread. What should she do, when Magnus was away
again?

If I say that she was getting bound to him in deeper and finer trust
and love, with every new day's experience, it is no more than the
truth; and no more, I think, than he deserved. Love for the right sort
of woman puts a man at his best, and brings him out wonderfully. Count
the minutes? Ah, yes! two hearts at least did that. In just so many
days more Magnus must leave them all.

Then suppose Mr. Erskine--no, it could not be; and yet, after every
such decision, one always goes back to say the "suppose" over again.

"Magnus, I do wish you would have your talk with papa," Cherry ventured
one day.

"You recommended that at first--twice, if I recollect right," remarked
Cadet Kindred.

"I did nothing of the sort. But I should think you might have commended
it to yourself by this time."

"It is such fun to puzzle him."

"But it will not be fun to grieve him," Cherry said.

"Is he going to be grieved? Then it will all come upon your hands. You
know you can wheedle any bird off any bush at any time."

"'Wheedle' papa!" Cherry said with some energy. "Not I, I promise you."

"Well, I know you mean to keep all your promises to me," said Magnus.
"But come along, and see me throw myself at his feet. Then he can save
time, and give us his blessing together."

"No, I am not going," Cherry said, pulling her hand away and trying not
to laugh.

"You are worse than Lord Ullin's daughter," said Magnus. "She plunged
into all the danger there was around. Chérie, will you send me a letter
every single day?"

"Oh, do not talk about letters yet!" Cherry said, in such a pitiful
tone that Magnus forgot all about Mr. Erskine, and gave himself up to
the task of comforting her. And it was the father himself who at last,
unawares, brought on the talk.

"Only twenty days left," he said one morning, when Magnus came into his
study and sat down, with an absent-minded air.

"Nineteen, sir."

"Then you settle down to hard work again."

"For two years, sir."

"And then?"

"Then I take my diploma and a three-months' leave, and come back here."

"Three months--till October."

"Yes, sir."

"That is better than nothing," said Mr. Erskine; "but we shall all
think it very short."

"I cannot stay until quite October," said Magnus, "but towards that."

"And then?"

"Then I take Cherry and go to my post."

But now Mr. Erskine sat straight up, grasping the arm of his chair.

"Take Cherry!" he repeated. "My baby! It is _Cherry_ you want to take
to San Carlos?"

"It may not be San Carlos, sir. Of course, I must take her wherever I
go."

"Well, you need not get up before gunfire to bone assurance," said
Mr. Erskine. "My Cherry! And what do you suppose she will say to this
brilliant plan for her happiness?"

"I do not think she much cares where we go, sir," Magnus answered, with
easy confidence.

It was an indescribable pang that shot through the father's heart. His
one treasure, his pearl of all the world, already did not "much care"
where she went, so long as she could be with this youngster--put her
hand in his, and go!

"It may happen that I shall care," he said huskily. "What makes you
think I will give her up to go anywhere?"

"But you can go, too, you know, sir," Cadet Kindred answered, with that
same calm tone which ignores the hard and cuts through the impossible.
"We have talked about it a great deal."

"It strikes me that a little of the talking should have come to me."

"Yes, sir; but then you are so seldom alone--always reading or
something on hand--it was hard to find a chance. And then you were
sick. And I thought you must see for yourself. And then, if you
didn't, it was such fun to puzzle you," Magnus said honestly.

"So seldom alone," Mr. Erskine repeated rather bitterly. "I suppose it
will be often enough in the future. No, do not say another word to me
now. Take yourself off, young man, and get out of my sight, and give me
a chance to draw my breath. My Cherry!"

It was perhaps just as well for everybody that the two guests were
still there, and the fun and frolic at high-water mark; the best
intentions thereto, or even the justest cause, could not make anybody
look grave or stiff or anxious. Therefore Mr. Erskine had time to study
up his hard question unnoticed.

"Question," indeed, it hardly was. Mr. Erskine knew, without thinking,
that he loved Magnus Kindred like his own son; and it took very little
awakened observation to show him that, on Cherry's part, the old
childish affection had passed into the deepest and strongest that a
woman can know. Reserved and self-contained as she always was, her
father could see a hundred little tokens which he marvelled he had
never noticed before. He watched Magnus, too, with very keen-set eyes,
studied him, weighed him in all sorts of scales, and, on the whole,
was well content. Just about as much of a boy as ever, only more of
a man; gay, saucy, absurd, and sensible; but through it all now, in
whatever touched Cherry, there was an indescribable tone of reverence
which became him well, as it does any man who has won for himself the
priceless trust of a true woman's love. His own love and devotion were
patent enough. Magnus had certainly "taken it hard," as people say. The
father noted it well, and judged it all of a quality that would wear.

Once making up his mind to the situation, it was amusing enough; and
the two elders of the party had many a quiet laugh at the skill with
which Messrs. Twinkle and Rig were headed off, and never allowed to
improve their acquaintance with Cherry. It was always somebody else
with whom they were fated to walk, and to whom they might make pretty
speeches; and with all a man's recklessness about possible damage to
other hearts, and lest his tactics should be found out, Magnus hunted
up other girls--old acquaintances of the neighbourhood--to share the
burden which at first Violet and Rose had borne alone.

"But, Magnus!" Mrs. Kindred protested one day, "you go on like crazy
boys, you three. Girls about here aren't used to young fellows who say
everything they do not mean. My dear, I fear you are sowing mischief.
Jenny Mott went home last night with her head more than half turned."

"Easy job for Rig to finish, then," said Magnus. "Never mind, mammy;
keep up your spirits. We're not so unlike other boys as you seem to
think. It _is_ getting to be rather serious with Twinkle and Viola."

"Now, my dear!" Mrs. Kindred said, with her hand on his arm; "now,
Magnus! you must not put any nonsense into that child's head!"

"Couldn't if I would," said Magnus; "not an inch of room. You couldn't
get a grain in sideways after Twinkle's been talking to her. He's a
right good fellow, mammy; don't drink, don't smoke, don't flirt--much;
and if his light isn't of the very biggest, it's always there, which is
better. She might do worse."

"But, Magnus, Violet is hardly grown up."

"Why don't you tell Twinkle so, and ask him to wait?" said Magnus, with
a very grave face. But then he laughed.

"Oh, mammy!" he said, "when cadets are about, it's 'all luggage at the
risk of the owners.' I _had_ picked out somebody else for Vio, if only
he's not gone before she gets there. What a thing it is to have me well
settled in life before your anxieties over the girls come on!" And
then Magnus kissed her, and set his face towards the other house.

"But Magnus!" said Mrs. Kindred, calling him back, "you have not told
me what Mr. Erskine says. Do you know yourself? He knits his brows so
sometimes, when he is looking at you, that I never dare ask him. Is he
willing, do you think?"

"He will be, before I get through with him," said Magnus confidently,
and he went whistling up the hill, as though that small task were done
to his hand.



XXXVI

SAN CARLOS

 Mix up a barrel of sand and ashes and thorns, and jam scorpions
 and rattlesnakes along in, and dump the outfit on stones, and heat
 the stones red hot; and set the United States army loose over the
 place chasin' Apaches; and you've got San Carlos.

  --U. S. SOLDIER, _in Harper's Magazine_.


And I suppose so it was; the task was really ended when the idea came
in. A strong protector for his darling when his own care should fail,
had been the longing in Mr. Erskine's heart for many a day, and Magnus
Kindred had always been second only to Cherry in his heart. Yet to give
her up before the time, and, instead of leaving her, to have her leave
him, it was sharp enough. No wonder he knit his brows now and then in
the midst of all the gaiety, and almost put out a hand between his
child and this youngster who claimed such rights and took them with
such assurance. No wonder if he frowned a little now, to-day, as Magnus
came whistling up, and throwing himself down on a lower step of the
porch, waited for the older man to speak.

But for a while the silence was unbroken, as Mr. Erskine made a sort
of final examination; obliged to come back to the judgment he had
given weeks ago, that Charlemagne Kindred was "a splendid fellow." The
critical eyes could find no fault.

Very serious the face was now, as he sat there looking off, schooling
himself to patient waiting, once in a while almost starting up at
some sound of Cherry's voice or step within the house. I am afraid
Mr. Erskine took a malign pleasure in keeping him where he was. The
malignity was not deep, however, for once, when some scrap of a song
floated down from an open upstairs window, there came a look over the
face of Cadet Charlemagne Kindred--a sudden light and love and joy--to
which the father's eyes gave such sympathetic answer that he was fain
to screen them with his hand.

"Well, young sir," he began at last, "I suppose you want to know what I
have to say to you?"

"Yes, sir. Furlough ends next week," Magnus answered, without looking
round.

"Then back for two years more?"

"Back for two years, sir."

"Magnus, what sort of an inner life have you lived at West Point? They
have made a soldier of you outwardly; we can all see so much; but it is
possible for a man to be that, and yet have no soldier's heart within."

Magnus coloured deeply.

"Yes, sir," he said. "I know it. And that has been true of me a few
times, Mr. Erskine. Never but once in any great thing."

"There are no little things in right and wrong, boy."

"No, sir. I should have said, in what people call great."

Mr. Erskine was silent with sudden pain; he had not looked for such an
answer. Then Magnus turned round, and sat facing him, looking full up.

"I have told Cherry the whole thing, straight through," he said; "and
now I will tell you, sir, if you wish."

Mr. Erskine drew a breath of relief. If he had told Cherry, it could be
nothing very bad; and that he _had_ told her half cleared it away.

"No, do not tell me," he said. "If Cherry knows, that is enough. But,
Magnus, I never expected _you_ to lack the soldier heart!"

The boy's eyes flushed, and his lips were unsteady as he said:

"Nor I, sir. You cannot possibly be half so disappointed in me as I was
in myself."

There was a long pause. What that bit of schooling was to Magnus it
would be hard to describe; but he said not a word to shorten it. With
head well up, and eyes looking gravely off at the fair landscape, of
which they saw not a thing, so he sat; and Mr. Erskine watched him. His
whole heart went out to the boy in tenderness and up for him in prayer.
Not a hero in his own right, perhaps, but a better, stronger thing is
the man whom God keeps, and who trusts the Lord for all power to keep
himself.

"The people that know their God, shall be strong and do exploits."

"You told Cherry," the elder man began at length. "And what did Cherry
say?"

"Broke my heart into little pieces," said Magnus briefly.

It was Mr. Erskine's turn to have wet eyes, though he smiled too.

"So!" he said. "My boy, did you ever realise that you might break _her_
heart?"

"Don't ask me to realise it any more than I do, sir," Magnus answered,
with a troubled voice. "You see she minds things that some people call
trifles."

"Like a true woman," said Mr. Erskine. "I am glad she does."

"So am I!" said Magnus, with hearty emphasis. "There is not a thing
about her that I am not glad of. But I have told her everything, Mr.
Erskine," he added, "and she forgives me."

"Like a woman again," thought the father. "And she is ready to go with
you to San Carlos?"

"I don't know why you will persist in sending me there, sir," Magnus
said, with just a touch of impatience. "That seems to be your
favourite post. We have not spoken of San Carlos."

"No, I suppose all your talk has been of Fortress Monroe, Governor's
Island, and West Point," said Mr. Erskine, in a mocking tone. "Those
are the usual first posts for young second lieutenants."

"West Point!" Magnus repeated scornfully. "If you had the faintest
idea, Mr. Erskine, what West Point is _without_ Cherry, you would know
that San Carlos will be the ranking post in the country when she gets
there!"

And the young man sprang to his feet, as if tenter hooks were restless
things.

Mr. Erskine held out his hand. "Forgive me, my boy," he said. "I will
not tease you any more. Go and find my treasure--and take her for
_your_ treasure, and guard her with your life. I do not mean in the
common sense of dying for her, but in the nobler, costlier way of
living for her. Shield her from any touch of shame, from any sense of
loss, from any shadow of pain or sorrow that is not Heaven-sent. Live
so that she will be prouder of you every day. Magnus, my darling is a
_trust_."

There was something very sweet and solemn too in the way Magnus took
the extended hand, and dropping on his knee kissed it earnestly.

"As such I take her, sir. My most dear trust, for every hour I live."

But then he sprang up again, threw his arms round Mr. Erskine with a
hug like a young bear, and with a joyous shout of "Ho for San Carlos!"
darted away into the house to find Cherry.



XXXVII

RUSHED INTO CAMP

    Whither I must, I must.

    --_King Henry IV._


If love does sometimes contrive to do for itself what the poet wished,
and "annihilate time," over the "space," alas! it has generally no
power. Those last days at home were to Magnus only quarter-days; but
once in the cars, and the miles drew out a lengthening chain that
fairly seemed to clank in his hearing. Two years now, almost, away from
those dear faces; two years more without Cherry.

To be sure, she was coming to first-class camp; that was something. She
had not said she would, but she must; or he should simply die, and the
authorities would have to send him home.

As the train flew on, tossing everything behind its back, classmates
began to straggle in, catching the express from one point or another;
each State giving up its contingent of much-disgusted men, all equally
gloomy and rebellious. What was the use of the old concern, anyhow? So
they grumbled, keeping down each other's low spirits, and ever and anon
launching forth upon the departed joys of the last eight weeks; opening
their hearts less or more, according to the man. For in some coat
pockets lay hid a little glove, carefully wrapped in rosy thoughts, and
(I was going to say) here and there also a mitten, in different-hued
tissue paper. But no, I take that back; nobody ever gets a mitten on
furlough, which is perhaps the reason why so many engagements date back
to just that point.

They felt very small just now, with love and home behind them; speeding
away towards drums, Tacs and the reveille gun. I think some of them
would have liked to slide off on a railroad "Y," and so ride backwards
all the rest of the way, as under protest.

Through all the grumbling Charlemagne Kindred was profoundly silent,
only jerking his words out when they must come, in a way that made the
others pronounce him "a gingersnap." But snaps are sweet, and he was
not.

"Just think," Rig said lugubriously, as he dropped into the seat by
Magnus, "this time to-morrow I shall not have even the show of a
pocket."

"That's square; you'll have nothing to put in it."

"And I've got three confinements to serve out the first thing," said
Crane, in front.

"All right--you went in for them," said Magnus, with a comfortable
consciousness of his own clear score.

"Didn't; I went out."

So the talk went on, and Magnus sat vaguely listening, seldom joining
in, his whole self reaching back towards that beloved region whither
he could not go. He longed to have the talk stop, the train stop, the
world stop--almost: anything, to change the pitiless rush and roar with
which he was speeded away from all he loved best.--Mile after mile,
hour after hour; till he felt ready to start up and cuff somebody, if
only so he could make a change. They talk of homesick plebs, and those
fellows have it hard enough; but I doubt if it compares with the _mal
de pays_ of the furlough men when they come back.

Cadet Kindred fought it, wrestled with it; then suddenly turned and
began to fight himself. For was not this West Point life the very
thing singled out just now for him? The surest, best, and quickest
way in which he could win education, position, and the means to live?
The shortest road to that fair home for Cherry which tinted even his
dreams? Had it not been the Lord's appointment, far more than that
which dated back to Congressman Ironwood? I do not think the ache died
out, a bit; but the antagonism did. Ready for duty, ready for all that
might come with duty; yes, that should be true of him. As clearly as
to-morrow he would answer to his name at roll-call, so now in his heart
Charlemagne Kindred said: "Yes, Lord, here!" What were they all praying
for him at home? Not only, not chiefly, that he might win the honours;
but that his daily life might _be_ an honour to the cause of Christ.

The miles did not shorten after that; home still shone oh, how vividly!
and shoulder-straps looked dim and hazy in the distance, and graduation
but a myth; but the brave heart addressed itself to wait, and to work,
and to endure.

The great city was reached, and trunks and men conveyed across to where
the swift steamer lay taking in her living freight. The whole class,
gathered now from all sides of the great country, mustered in "cits"
for the last time.

As I think, it was a happy thing for these young schoolmen, that in
the year of which I write, the "rush" was still in its glory; not yet
found out to be unmilitary and dangerous. But now the first classman is
supposed to forget that he ever was a boy.

For my part, I am glad to know this for a clear fallacy. No power on
earth, not even time, can ever drive the mischief out of some men, or
kill the frolic that lies hid behind those sober suits of grey. The
most sedate bearing may belong to the plotter of the most consummate
exploits; and the gravest men take your breath away telling what they
have done. Ah, it is not the boy in them that needs watching, but the
undisciplined man.

But as I said, in those days the hopeless task was not begun. So when
the boat reached the landing, and her signal went sounding up the
hill, a rousing reception was ready.

The furlough men had been watching with sober eyes, as one grey wall
after another peered through the trees; and now they stepped wearily
along the steep, winding road, bags in hand; a dusty, rebellious lot.
Then paused at the top of the hill and clustered together in front of
the Library.

Before them lay the cavalry plain, brown and powdery with sun and
riding; the black guns of the Light Battery; then the camp. Rank after
rank, in their exact order, the white tents gleamed in the sunshine. A
moment the travellers saw it all.

Then on the nearer side there gathered a grey and white swarm of
figures; the furlough men spread themselves in a long single line,
and, joining hands, began to double-time it across the plain. The grey
figures dashed out across what was afterwards the famous "Post No. 6,"
swooped down upon the furlough men, and "rushed them into camp."

There followed ten minutes of utter Babel-like confusion; hats, caps,
handbags, and men were on the ground or in the air, as the case might
be. I think Mr. Starr lost his foothold on firm earth several times,
while Magnus Kindred made things just as lively for one or two small
first classmen. Men hugged each other or shook hands, according to the
various degrees of size and friendship. The ladies on the seats clapped
hands; the yearlings, on their way to dancing, turned and gave a cheer.
Then the hubbub was over. The furlough men dived into their tents,
and came forth to dinner roll-call full blown cadets, with very sober
faces. The rush helped them for the minute, but it could not last; they
were a sorry-looking lot.

Charlemagne Kindred came out too, after a while (anything but his own
thoughts!), and was most effusively greeted by Miss Beguile and Miss
Saucy. But being promptly bid to stand and deliver a full, true, and
unvarnished account of the summer's work and play, he got off as soon
as he could and took his sergeant's chevrons and his loneliness down
Flirtation for a walk.

How unbearable these average girls were to him after Cherry! Cherry,
with her quaint, womanly ways, and low-toned voice, and earnest eyes; a
hundred times fairer in her fresh print dress than they with all their
silks and streamers! "A trust"--ah, she was one worth having. And it
was with a very moved and joyful heart that Cadet Kindred realised how
surely upon his keeping of that trust, hung all the joy and brightness
of her sweet life. Hers--and theirs; four true women looking up to him.

On the whole, it was a very good bit of thinking the young sergeant did
there, with the lovely river sweeping by at his feet, and the leaves in
a glad rustle behind him. Yes, every new bit of honour that he could
win, in any line, would be gilded anew for them. He must send them a
correct drawing of even the new chevrons.

Magnus again mounted the hill, but at the edge of the broken ground he
faced about and took off his cap to the flag.

"Glad to see you, old friend!" he said. "Henceforth, you and I are
going to run things together. I'm enlisted now, for all the storms that
blow."



XXXVIII

HIGH GROUND

    But never sit we down and say,
      "There's nothing left but sorrow."
    We walk the Wilderness to-day,
      The promised Land to-morrow.

    --GERALD MASSEY.


There was much wedging and crowding in the camp that night, lightened
somewhat by the big hop which shortened the night for so many. Not for
Magnus. He went to bed, thinking the night would be two nights long:
quite sure he should not close his eyes.

But youth, and health, and the long journey, and even sorrow, quite
upset his calculations. When the hop men turned in, Magnus hardly
roused up enough to give a short answer to some details; and when the
sharp voice of the reveille gun spoke in his ear, it was as clear a
wake-up--and alas! as disgusted a one--as Cadet Kindred had ever known.
But breaking camp at least would be welcome: hard work suited his mood
just now much better than play.

Yet before the hour drew on, he strolled out towards the visitors'
seats; the exquisite morning, the dainty wreaths of mist, and the
sweet, pure air, making him so homesick that he craved even a chatter
of tongues that should stop his thoughts.

The seats were a waving line of colour. Hats turned up, and hats
turned down; bonnets too small to be seen, and hats like umbrellas;
ribands, laces, streamers of every kind. Plenty of grey coats, too;
first classmen and yearlings in their glory, with other disconsolate
furlough men, searching the crowd for a friend, if possibly such a
thing remained to them east of the Rockies, or north of Mason and
Dixon's line. Everywhere a busy chatter, with introductions, greetings,
inquiries, and much swinging of cadet caps. Sugar-plums abounded.
On the grass a group of children sunned themselves in front of the
grown-up people, sometimes aping their ways.

Magnus was taken possession of rapturously,--had to touch a half-dozen
gloves in as many seconds.

"And where have you been all summer, Mr. Kindred?" Miss Fashion
inquired in gracious tones.

"In a much better place than this old camp, Miss Fashion."

"That goes without saying," chimed in Miss Saucy. "Any place where
_you_ were, would of course overtop the rest of the world."

"It might," Magnus answered, thinking of the oak shadows where he had
sat with Cherry. I am not so sure that he heard Miss Fashion's next
words, looking over her head towards the Western sky. The West! The
West!

"And of course your desire for study is immense," the young lady went
on, a little louder.

"Quite insatiable!"

"Oh, you're too good to be true!" said Miss Saucy.

"But don't you feel all out of training?" said another girl. "I should
think it would come awfully hard at first."

"On the contrary, I feel in better training than ever in my life
before."

"But that is _awful_!" said the Kitten. "Back from furlough 'in
training'? Why, Magnus, you'll come out blue."

"I expect it," said Magnus, with a bow. "That is what I am aiming for."

"Now _that_ I call mean," said the young lady; "taking one up so. How
sharp you have grown all of a sudden!"

"Best let him alone, Puss," said Miss Saucy, "or you'll cut your
fingers. He's been at the seaside, eating razors."

"Using 'em, too," said the Kitten, gazing at Magnus. "Didn't it go to
your heart to cut off your moustache?"

"Everything goes to my heart. That is my weak point."

"What was the last arrival?" demanded Miss Saucy.

"That drum." And in answer to the warning rub-a-dub, Cadet Kindred
touched his cap to the ladies and crossed the green strip in front of
the colour line.

"Oh, dear!" sighed Miss Kent, a pretty blonde in her first West Point
season, and who had taken the whole yearling class as near to her heart
as is usual on such occasions; "I shall just cry, I know I shall, when
that camp goes down! Think, girls, there won't be any place to go to
spend the day!"

"The seats under the trees," suggested Miss Beguile.

"Oh, yes, you can sit there as long as you please," said Minna Kent,
"but _they_ can't come and sit with you. Some old dowager always pokes
along and turns them out."

"And if the men look at you in ranks, you're none the wiser," said Miss
Saucy. "Do you know, I just _made_ Clinch look at me the other night as
he came round Towser. He was acting-adjutant. It's the meanest thing to
break camp before cold weather. There it goes!--our camp!"

But it was the same old story, after all. Always crushed sugar plums
under foot and withered flowers; the air filled with heart-beats that
nobody heard, and glances that no one saw.

The cadets get rid of their plumes and trappings; the girls hold
fast to all they have; and away they all go, for walks, talks, and
flirtations. Two girls to a cadet, three cadets to a girl, or two very
special chums together.

Among the solitary stragglers was Charlemagne Kindred. He waited
till every girl was out of sight, dodged or shook off his loitering
comrades, and then, with steady step went straight across the plain and
took stand beneath the waving folds of his old love, the flag.

Two whole years--two years and three months almost--since the first
day when he stood in that circling shadow and took his vow of brave
allegiance. Leaning back now against the white pole, he tried to scan
the two years' record.

In the main, he had kept his vow; love had never faltered, nor fealty.
But he knew now, far better than he knew then, that for this love as
for the other he must _live_, as well as be ready to die. The honour
of the Stars and Stripes was at stake, wherever an American fought out
his personal life-fight with evil. On harder fields sometimes than
Chapultepec, and with no earthly glory for reward. No name on a tall
column, no tablet in chapel or hall. Unknown, perhaps, while the fight
lasted: no notice taken, until the Great Captain shall speak the "Well
done," when he comes to survey the field.

Looking up at the red, white, and blue, Magnus said to himself that
devotion, purity, and truth were the real defenders of the country;
winning victories far beyond what powder and shot could ever gain;
keeping the flag not only flying, but unstained.

"Winning victories"--he repeated to himself, looking up again at the
lovely waving folds of the flag: "positive, as well as negative."

Bible words are very positive.

"He that is not with me is against me," said the Lord Jesus. "He that
gathereth not with me, scattereth."

"But they don't leave us time for anything like that," Magnus thought,
in half excuse. "It takes so long just to _be_; to look after your own
prayers and reading. There isn't any chance to _do_."

And now he remembered the lovely, constant shining of Cherry's life in
even the commonest, everyday things; the halo that was always about
her. Set her at any sort of work, in any sort of company, and you could
never doubt for a moment whose she was and whom she served. The King's
seal was there. Such a life is positive, by its very nature.

"But then she is like nobody else," Magnus went on, as his rapturous
thoughts finished off with a long, heavy sigh. "And she has a little
space to breathe in, too. But here--just math. and chem., study and
drill, from dawn to dark." Then other words came up before his eyes.

"Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily; as to the Lord, and not to men."

"Whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord
Jesus."

"Even those old lessons," commented Cadet Kindred. "I rather suspect
I've been setting my study books at the wrong angle. I know Cherry says
that drudgery fades out, if you write the name of Jesus on it. Wonder
if it would work so with anybody but her?"

And a long, dull procession of days rose up in sight; each one loaded
down with hard, monotonous work. Not prettily varied, with one day this
and next day that, but a steady, straight on pull in the same lines,
for weeks together.

"And we can't turn and twist about as you do, old flag," he said, "but
have got to stand attention (or sit it) every time. It would feel sort
o' good, if we could just choose our own positions for firing off
blunders."

"Whatever in the world are _you_ holding up the flagstaff for?" said
Rig's astonished voice, as that young man came up from among the guns.
"Beastly dull here, isn't it? I say, Kin, when's that awfully pretty
sister of yours coming?"

"Which one?"

"Well, both, then," corrected Rig.

"After you graduate--if you ever do."

"You may well say if. But you'll be gone yourself, then."

"Maybe I shall not let them come at all. There are too many girls
here now." And Magnus cast cynical eyes towards several free-and-easy
damsels who were sauntering across the plain, well attended.

"There they go," he said; "men and girls and parasols. And the parasols
are the only things in the lot with a grain of sense. Just hear that
pink girl laugh! She's got Duncy in tow, telling him: 'Oh, Mr. Duncy!
you are _so_ amusing!'"

"Shouldn't wonder if she wasn't. I think he is, sometimes, myself,"
said Rig.

"He is a consistent goose," said Magnus.

"Come, now, Kin, you're out of humour," Rig said soothingly. "You'll
feel better after dinner."

"No I shall not," Magnus answered crossly. "Last Thursday I had chicken
pie and apple fritters."

Rig gave a groan.

"Well," he said, "it can't be helped, so eat all you can. And there
goes the drum."

The two set off for barracks, but if Magnus had eased his mind, he had
certainly given his heart an extra load.

"Kindred's as glum as a post," remarked a smart first classman. "Easy
to see his girl's gone back on him."

Magnus caught the words, but then came a thrill of joy. No, _that_
could never be true; and his girl was the very best in all the world.
The sights and sounds about him grew indistinct; and with thoughts two
thousand miles away, Cadet Kindred finished his dinner and never knew
what it was. Only "Company A, rise!" awaked him from his dream.



XXXIX

MORE GIRLS

    Pray to God, but continue to row to the shore.

    --_Russian Proverb._


But work did come hard! The reveille gun was such an impertinence after
the lazy summer mornings at home. Every officer figured as an enemy,
every drill was an unmitigated bore. And despite what people say about
changed seasons, it rained Saturday afternoon then, as it always does
now; while if it rained other days too, yet it was sure to clear up in
time for drill--or the cadets thought so, which did as well.

Such meals, too, three times a day! Fair enough in ordinary, and easily
disposed of by the healthy young appetites, whetted with hard work and
open air; but thrown into utter disgrace just now by the background of
"mother's" dainties and "home" cream. They were sober enough, these
furlough men. But it is hard for even quiet steeds to go calmly back
from pasture into the traces; some other fiery young coursers were
simply rampant. A good deal of mischief went on in those first weeks in
barracks.

Magnus Kindred kept out of it, partly because he had Cherry's image
before his eyes; but also because he liked his freedom better than
anything else, and had never learned to confound license with liberty.
No amount of fun on Monday, would pay him for spending the next
Saturday afternoon on the area.

So while other men "ran it" to the Hotel or to Highland Falls, paying
that unpleasant penalty, Cadet Kindred kept his playtime free, taking
long, long walks over the mountain or in other leafy regions where
the squirrels and woodpeckers had it all to themselves. Studying the
fanciful piebald of the autumn leaves, gathering the quaint yellow
witch-hazel blooms, and the white ladies' tresses; and bringing back to
barracks such a clear head for study that he went up hand over hand.
Men said he was in love--which was certainly true; and some, that he
was trying to "bootlick the Supe," which was as certainly false. And
again others, that he was "boning Willet's Point." But no; he was doing
better, and simply "boning" the highest stand he could reach.

Meanwhile, to grace the lovely fall weather, several new flowers--or
birds--might be seen at parade and on the sidewalk. And Magnus had been
duly presented, and had done his first devoirs to the fair strangers.
But after that he thought he might please himself again, and muse and
climb among the beloved old rocks.

"Where _does_ Mr. Kindred go every Saturday?" Miss Berry demanded of
Rig one day. "You know I'm visiting at the corner house, and can watch
both ways. But while I'm running from one window to the other, he
always contrives to vanish; and I never can tell into which house."

"Of course I cannot say, Miss Jo," Rig answered, "because you know I
never get round the corner. The minute I see you watching for me, I
stop and come in."

"Watching for you! I think I see myself," said Miss Berry.

"You'll see something very sweet, when you do," said Rig politely.

"It'll be something pretty sour, if you're not careful," retorted Miss
Berry. "But say--I'm awfully curious to know. Where does he go most,
Saturdays?"

"Why, nowhere, to visit, they say," said the hostess.

[Illustration: CADET ROOM IN BARRACKS]

"Isn't there someone he cares about out West, Mr. McLean?"

"He has two charming sisters."

"Oh, of course!--all you cadets have charming sisters," said Miss Jo
impatiently. "Anybody else?"

"Lots of girls there," Rig replied. "They haven't all come East by
several."

"What do Western girls look like?"

"Angels, some of 'em," said Rig, thinking of Violet's eyes.

"Did you see Mr. Kindred's best girl?"

"I rather suspect I saw three of them," Rig answered slowly.

"Three! Why, the man's a Turk. Wasn't one better than the other?"

"I thought so," said Rig. "It's a matter of opinion, I suspect."

"Oh, shut up!" said Miss Jo, with beautiful ease of manner. "It's no
more possible to get the truth out of a cadet, than----"

"Than to get it without him," suggested Rig.

"I'll get at it somehow, you'd better believe," said Miss Jo. "What
were these three girls called?"

"One of them seemed to have a sort of French title; the other two
answered to plain English."

"French--that's a likely story. What do you know about French?"

"Not much," Rig confessed. "Don't be hard on me, Miss Jo. I expect to
be found in January, but you might leave a fellow hopes till then."

"And you will _not_ tell us a thing about Mr. Kindred," joined in
another girl.

"Well, now"--said Rig,--"that's putting it rather strong. But here
comes Kin himself; he ought to know. He's of age, ask him, as the Jews
said in the Bible."

And Mr. McLean stepped to the window and hailed his friend, who had not
had the faintest intention of calling upon anybody that afternoon.

However, so summoned, there was nothing else to do. So Magnus came in,
hung up his cap in the hall, shook hands with his hostess and the other
ladies, and then, after the manner of cadet chaff, asked Rig what he
was fooling there for? wasting his own time as well as Miss Jo's?

"She said she hadn't any to lose, so I'm safe there," answered Mr.
McLean.

"Make the most of it,--that won't carry you far," said Miss Jo. "What
_do_ you suppose he has been doing, Mr. Kindred?"

"Could not guess--when it is Rig."

"Absolutely quoted the Bible to me. I came so near fainting away that
he called you in for a tonic."

"Quoted it pertinently?"

"No, impertinently. Oh, Mr. Kindred, will you let me have a walk after
chapel on Sunday?"

"Certainly--but I cannot take you to get it."

"I suppose that passes for cadet wit," said Miss Jo, pouting. "Why
cannot you, pray?"

"Something else to do: a previous."

"You can't fool me so," said Miss Jo, shaking her flaxen head. "You
_know_ your best girl isn't here."

"What then?"

"Then there is nobody else you need walk with. I think you're very
unkind, Mr. Kindred. And I've got such a box of candy as _you_ never
saw."

"Let me see it now," said Magnus, smiling. "Destroy ignorance wherever
you find it."

"I guess I will! No, I'll give that walk to Mr. Clayton, and nobody
else shall have a crumb."

"Or a smile."

"Good for Clayton," said Rig. "Then he won't have to dead-beat to
the hospital Monday morning, but can go there for good and sufficient
reasons."

"Aren't you ashamed!--as if my candy was poison," said Miss Jo
indignantly.

"Mr. Kindred," said the hostess, "my curiosity is astir about this
'best girl' of yours; I should like to know your taste. What is she
like?"

"Like herself: I know nobody else," said Magnus.

"So then she really does exist somewhere?"

"Why, you asked about her."

"Yes, of course I did; but then I didn't know but Mr. McLean had been
fooling us."

"Would he dare do that?"

"It's my belief he fools about everything," said Miss Jo. "And you too.
I don't think you cadets know how to be serious about a single thing."

"Grinds _are_ almost the staff of life here," said Magnus. "But you
do Rig unjustice: he'll be serious enough when he gets zero in wave
motion."

"Don't speak of wave motion Saturday afternoon," pleaded Rig. "It's the
only time in the week when anything stands still and right side up.
The air waves, and the light waves; and not a thing is steady, from
Saturday night to Saturday noonday."

"I hope you do not study wave motion on Sunday," said the hostess
reprovingly.

"Only practises it in chapel, you know," said Magnus. "Rig goes to
sleep systematically, and keeps up in wave motion by a series of
graceful nods."

"Ha! ha!" laughed Rig. "Well, I sometimes do, that's a fact. Somebody
stuck a pin into me last Sunday. Wasn't you, was it, Kin?"

"It was not my pin. Come away, Rig, you've got another visit to pay
before retreat," and the two bowed themselves out.

"I don't believe I'll call on Miss Saucy to-day," said Rig, as they
walked along. "I got thinking about your handsome sisters, and that
takes the taste out of other girls."

"Oh, does it!" said Magnus mockingly. "If you say that again, I'll
report you to the Com. for a cannibal. There--the Kitten is tapping on
the window for you, and you can go to Miss Saucy later. Run in; there's
a lot of girls staying there."

And Rig ran in. But in the hall, while giving himself those finishing
touches in which even men indulge, Rig found that Cadet Kindred had
slipped away to parts unknown.



XL

ON FORT PUT

    Think truly, and thy thoughts
      Shall the world's famine feed;
    Speak truly, and each word of thine
      Shall be a fruitful seed.
    Live truly, and thy life shall be
      A great and noble creed.

    --DR. BONAR.


No, Cadet Kindred was in no mood for "other girls" that day; had he not
just been writing his heart out to Cherry? and was not her last letter
lying _perdu_ up his sleeve? You could not expect him to have any
relish for common doings.

So with the easy, steady gait which I wish all men might copy, Magnus
went swiftly on to the west end of the officers' row. Past Miss Saucy,
who signalled him from her friend's porch; past Miss Bee, who bowed
from an open window; past the talk and the laughter, the scent of
chocolate, the certainty of sugar plums. Then at the last house of
the old "west limits" he turned sharply round the corner, and began
to mount the hill. Small danger of "other girls" here, or of other
men, unless a few homesick strollers like himself; and these were
passed with only a nod. The real denizens of the roadway were wild and
sweet as the day. Red squirrels and brown chipmunks darted across the
path, whisked into holes, or chattered in the treetops; "the sound of
dropping nuts," the rustle of leaves, the voice of a crow or a gull,
only made the stillness more exquisite. The rocks were cushioned
with mosses; the ferns and the early fallen leaves of chestnut and
butternut made a lovely carpet all about; the clear air seemed strung
and tuned to the last pitch of harmony. Far down, down, the winding
river, in its varying shades of blue and grey, flowed silently among
the hills, flecked with the white wings of two or three sloops and
schooners; but all too distant for the murmur of the little waves, the
creaking of cordage, to reach him.

Cadet Kindred paused several times at points where the view opened;
then addressing himself to the hill again, and choosing the old broken,
steep-pitched track of a hundred years ago. The Revolutionary style
suited his mood to-day; and he sped up the last steep incline with a
will; passed through the old sallyport, sprang up the parapet, and sat
down to gaze.

At his feet the rough hillside went in tumbling, breaking fashion down
to the little fringe of houses in the officers' row; and beyond them
the green plain spread out its fair expanse, with Barracks and Academic
Library and Chapel, walling it in on the south. Elsewhere the river,
and beyond that again the hills. From above the trees on Trophy Point
the fair, curling folds of the flag, with an action which would have
been lazy had there been any call for haste, lifted and drooped at the
top of the tall white staff. Magnus Kindred stood up again and saluted,
with a flourish.

"Yes, old friend," he said, "we are sworn comrades now, whatever
happens. One full summer more for me here, and then away to the ends of
the earth: but that blessed old rag will fly just as well at San Carlos
as at West Point, and be just as ready to read me a lesson."

And with that, Magnus stretched himself out on the green slope, pulled
forth Cherry's letter, and read it through twice.

Then he studied the flag again; musing over things he had heard and
read. Of the men who ran up the colours when their ship was sinking
in the deep, dark sea; of standards dyed with the life-blood of their
defenders. Of the failures that yet were a triumphant success.

    "My half day's work is done,
      And this is all my part.
    I give a patient God
      My patient heart:

    "And grasp his banner still,
      Though all its blue be dim;
    These stripes, no less than stars,
      Lead after him."

"I wonder if that fellow loved anybody," Magnus questioned with
himself, a stricture coming over his heart at thought of the young
soldier under whose death-pillow the brave, pitiful lines were found.
"And I wonder if I could have said it in his place? But that is
what it means. That is just what I have to do for the old Stars and
Stripes--and for the Lord's banner."

And secure against the criticisms of chipmunks and chickadees, Magnus
began at the old ballad of the "Star-Spangled Banner," and sang it
straight through.

"Well sung, and to the purpose," said a pleasant voice, and Magnus
started up, to find a gentleman close behind him; and, as he saw at a
glance, no less a person than his friend of the candidate journey.

It was plain, however, that Mr. Wayne did not know him. How could he
find in the close-cropped hair the wayward, curly locks of two years
ago? or see, in this happy compound of uniform and drill, the homesick
boy whom he had cheered and comforted?

"Do not let me disturb you," said the newcomer, taking a seat near
Magnus. "I was wandering round among the old walls, thinking how much
had crumbled and how much grown up since their day, not knowing there
was anyone up here but myself. And when suddenly the dear old song
rang out, I could not help coming near to listen. Has it come into
fashion again, in these latter days?"

"Not especially, that I know of," said Magnus. "But I was brought up on
it."

"So was I. And where were you brought up?"

Magnus named his State.

"Strange!" said Mr. Wayne. "The first boy I ever spoke to who was
coming to West Point was from that State; and now so is also the first
full-fledged cadet I meet with here."

"Yes, we have a good representation from all our districts," said
Magnus.

"Do you men from the same State always hold together in any special
way?"

"Against all the rest of the world, yes," said Magnus. "But we often
choose our chums from the Antipodes."

"For private and personal reasons, rather than public; I see. But then
of course you know them all, more or less; and so you must know the man
I am after."

"A relation of yours, sir?" Magnus inquired gravely.

"Oh, no, not at all; only an acquaintance of a day and a night. But I
should like to see him again very much; in fact that was why I stopped
over a day here. I wonder if he is in the corps still? Must be, I
think; he did not look like a fellow to be 'found' in anything,--unless
caution and self-control."

"That's a bad showing," said Magnus. "I'd rather chance it in math."

"You must know him, of course, if he is here," Mr. Wayne went on;
"for he was from your State, I know. I had his name down--and I also
had my pocket-book stolen! Can you tell over the list of your State
delegation?"

So Magnus began.

"Smith, J., 2d; Jones, L.; Devius, E.; Smith, T. A.; Marston,
Kindred----"

"That's the man!" broke in Mr. Wayne; "Charlemagne Kindred. And you say
he is here still?"

"Oh, yes, he's here," said Magnus, with a half groan.

"Doing well?"

"Doing all sorts of ways. He is just back from furlough, and as blue as
a mouldy cheese."

"Back from furlough! Ah, then he has seen his mother again. That ought
to cure him of doing 'all sorts of ways.' Where does he stand in his
class?"

"Oh, he keeps out of the Immortals," said Magnus with a shrug. "Might
max it oftener, if he didn't read so many magazines and write so many
letters."

"Letters, hey? These 'left behind' girls have a good deal to answer
for. And yet such a trust as a woman's life and happiness, ought to
steady any man, and put him at his best."

"He has four just such trusts," said Magnus. "I don't know that they'd
all die if he went to the bad, but two of them would."

"Four--you seem to know him very well," said Mr. Wayne, turning to look
more narrowly at his companion.

"I don't know, sir: sometimes I think I do, sometimes not. He takes me
all by surprise every now and then," said Magnus.

But with that he turned his eyes full upon Mr. Wayne, and the
recognition was instant.

"And this is you!" said Mr. Wayne. "I see it now. Indeed I think I felt
it all along. Sit over there, and let me look at you."

So Magnus changed his seat for another, and went through a new sort of
inspection; differing _in toto_ from that of any member of the tactical
department. For Mr. Wayne's eyes passed rapidly over grey cloth and
bell buttons (Magnus feeling quite sure the while that any dulness or
disorder there would have been noted) and came to the young face, with
a look so searching and wise that the sunburnt cheeks reddened, and the
eyes went down. Only for a moment, however: then they met the search
squarely, and with a laugh.

"Yes, sir," said Cadet Kindred, "that is just about what I am."

Privately, Mr. Wayne had been thinking to himself that just what he saw
was a remarkably fine-looking fellow, whom anybody might be proud to
call son or brother. For the eyes were steady and true; and when the
face broke in a smile or a laugh the mouth had the same utterly clean
look which had marked it two years ago. Mr. Wayne noted it all, and
drew a deep breath of rejoicing.

"I give most humble and hearty thanks," he said, reverently lifting his
hat. Magnus sprang up and came back to his old seat.

"Were you so doubtful of me, sir?" he said. "And what made you
doubtful?"

"Not doubtful of you, my boy, but certain of the world. And the
world--even this little world here--is a hard place."

"This is an awful place!" said Magnus.

"You think so now, because you are just back from furlough. But you
will find the world power in full force still, when you get to some
far-off frontier post. Very few lives have a steady fair breeze
straight into heaven. 'Ye must take the wind in your face if ye will
fetch Christ,' said old Samuel Rutherford; and most of us find it so.
But then, 'How sweet is the wind that bloweth out of the airth where
Christ is.'"

And Magnus remembered instantly that ever since he came to West Point,
he had hailed the west wind, because it seemed to come from home.

"How can you always tell, sir, whence it comes?" he asked suddenly.
"Being disagreeable doesn't prove a thing right."

"Truly no. But you know what Christ himself is, Mr. Kindred; study
him, his character, his will, his throne. It is not hard to match your
colours, if you are really so minded. West Point is not so unlike
everywhere else as you seem to think. I remember a young man who went
from here to Texas, and wrote back that he was still fighting the
world, the flesh, and the devil. Finding the world perhaps a little
less down there, but the flesh and the devil about as usual. And so you
will find it. 'The kingdom of God is within you'--not outside: whether
at Governor's Island, or San Carlos."

"What makes you speak of San Carlos, sir?" Magnus said, with almost a
start.

"One of the worst posts in the army, is it not?--or counted so?"

"I am not afraid of San Carlos," said Magnus decidedly. "The devil
always has to clear out, when an angel comes in."

Mr. Wayne turned and looked at him.

"So!" he said; "that is all settled, is it? But no, my young sir: Satan
held a dispute with an archangel once, long enough for some pretty
strong words on both sides. And you are going to take an angel to San
Carlos!"

Almost just what Mr. Erskine had said.

"Were you ever there, sir?" Magnus asked.

"Oh, yes."

"Doesn't the place need angels?"

And now Mr. Wayne laughed.

"You have the best of me there," he said. "Yes, not a doubt of that, it
does. And it is the very place that the white wings love to brighten
if they can. But Mr. Kindred, if your particular angel is to live at
San Carlos--or anywhere--and not break her heart; spread her white
wings and fly away from earth and you together; you have got to fight
the devil yourself; hand to hand, and wherever you find him. These
earthly angels are not quite so robust as the old painters make out the
heavenly to be."

"She is the very centre of my life!" cried Magnus. But Mr. Wayne sighed.

"It happened once," he said, "that a young graduate of West Point
brought his three-months' bride not to San Carlos, but to Fortress
Monroe. Of course, the 'pleasant fellows' of the garrison went to work
to entertain him, and one of them told me this story:

"'We had a little supper party,' he said. 'Not very large, but correct
and choice; and we kept it up pretty late; and X. Y. got more than he
could manage gracefully. So some of the stronger heads among us set out
to get him home. Late, as I said; servants asleep, lights out, and I
guess we knocked and rang more than once. Then X. Y.'s young wife came
down, candle in hand, to let him in. Poor girl--I did feel sorry for
her when I saw her white face, as the candle flared out upon him.'"

There came up before Charlemagne Kindred, as his friend spoke, the
vision of another face; so blanched, so stricken in its grief, and all
for him. He bowed his head upon his hands.

Mr. Wayne asked never a word. He looked at the fine young man beside
him, not knowing just what he might have touched, and then away over
the fair hills and the soft flowing river. What a world! Peace written
everywhere on the exquisite setting; and everywhere in the picture the
sharp life and death conflict. Then the glad words in the Revelation
made answer:

"And I saw, and, behold, a white horse; and he that sat on him had a
bow: and he went forth, conquering and to conquer."

"Amen!" Mr. Wayne said aloud: adding half under his breath: "'Oh that
thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the
mountains might flow down at thy presence!'"

Magnus looked up in surprise.

"Only an old habit of mine," Mr. Wayne said, smiling at him. "I live so
much alone, that I very often talk to myself for lack of a listener."

"Do you want to see these mountains flow down?" Magnus asked, gazing in
his turn at the fair hills.

"Not these in themselves; only I long for all which the prophet's words
imply. To see the crooked made straight, and the rough places plain;
to hear the royal proclamation of the Prince of Peace sound out across
this burdened earth; one could be willing to have 'every mountain and
island' moved out of their places. To have that trumpet blast fill all
the air:

"'The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of
his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.'"

"No more miserable captives to the power of evil; no more strong men
'whom Satan hath bound at his own will."

    "No midnight shades, no clouded sun,
    But sacred, high, eternal noons."

"How naturally the words follow:

"'We give thee thanks, O Lord, because thou hast taken to thee thy
great power, and hast reigned.'"

Then Magnus began and told him the whole story; pouring out details,
and not sparing himself in the least. And Mr. Wayne listened in deepest
silence, with a grave, tender face which drew on confidence. Magnus did
not once name Cherry, only at the end he said:

"I told her everything. And if I thought I should ever again make her
look as she did then, I think I would shoot myself."

"Powder is very cheap," Mr. Wayne said slowly. "It is the meanest,
smallest, silliest back door through which a man ever shirked his
difficulties. But to live a strong life, to have one's self in hand
and keep a tight rein, that costs, and costs tremendously; demands
a man's whole will-power, and the mighty grace of God. There is no
promise whatever to the one who runs away; they are all: 'To him that
overcometh.'"

"Yes sir, I know," Magnus answered him. "But instead of costing, it
seems to me the only life that pays."

"And where do you get dividends, but from investments?" said Mr. Wayne
quickly. "You gain from what you put in: knowledge from study, health
from exercise, advance from toil. You bone discipline, and you stand
one; you bone mathematics, and you max it every time."

"No, you don't," said Magnus. "Not some of us."

"Yes you do. Not all just alike, perhaps; one man puts in more brains
than another, and so maybe gets larger returns; but the slower fellow
maxes it _for him_; the dividends are as large as the stock will
warrant. And to my mind, that is the only ambition worth a copper. I've
no patience with this trying to get ahead of somebody else in any line.
Get ahead of yourself; break your own record."

"Not making other men your measure," Magnus said.

"No. That's the way Paul puts it: 'I press toward the mark for the
prize'; not to get ahead of Peter or James or John. The colour markers
always in advance, flagging out new ground."

"What do you count a man's colour markers, sir?" Magnus said, looking
amused.

"Perhaps clean purpose of heart and loyalty to God would come near
it. The Great Captain has thrown open to you--to every young man--a
wondrous Promised Land. He says: 'Go in and possess it. Ye are well
able to overcome.' The land is not all 'fish and cucumbers and melons,'
with a good deal of garlic, like the Egypt degradation and bondage; but
'a goodly land of springs and fountains, of oil olive and honey; whose
stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.' I do
not believe you cadets are half aggressive enough."

"In what way, sir?"

"Every way. Suppose your colour markers had been up to their duty on
that sad night, and you pressing forward for the Lord's 'Well done.'"

"Yes," Magnus answered, with a thrill of pain that somehow got into his
voice.

"Or suppose," Mr. Wayne went on, laying a tender hand on the young
man's shoulder, "suppose you had been praying for those other men whose
ways you knew; working with them, persuading them into the service of
Christ?"

"Oh, that could not be," Mr. Kindred said decidedly. "At least, I might
pray for them, of course, but I could not say much."

"Why not?"

"Against cadet code, sir. We let each other pretty well alone."

"Cadet code!" Mr. Wayne repeated. "You tease each other now and then, I
fancy?"

"Always!"

"And laugh at each other?"

"Without stint."

"Perhaps introduce each other occasionally?"

"Why, of course, sir!" Magnus answered.

"And probably the cadet code would permit you to pull a man out of the
river, or tell him the barracks were ablaze? It is framed only against
the important things, hey?"

"Don't you call it important to pull a man out of the river?" Magnus
asked, with a laugh.

"Rather. Nothing like pulling him into the kingdom."

The clouds sailed silently by, river and hill darkening and brightening
as the shadows fell and passed; the leaves rustled softly among the oak
branches and stirred with a different music among the pines. Then from
far down below sounded a drum--Magnus started up.

"Thank you, Mr. Wayne!" he said earnestly. "Come to the guard-house
before call to quarters. I must go."

"I will walk down with you," said his friend.

"But I must run!"

And away he went, springing down the hill through every short cut that
could be found; the grey and white showing, and hiding, and coming out
again further on.

Mr. Wayne watched him with great interest, taking his own pace the
while down the hill; and now, as he went, from every other quarter came
just such flying figures. From the woods, from Flirtation, from the
river; from lingering last words on doorsteps, and girls and bonbons in
the houses. Hastening along with the graceful ease of long practice,
hurrying to lose themselves behind the grim grey walls of barracks.

And Mr. Wayne watched and laughed; but then his eyes grew grave. Will
they make such haste at every call of duty, these gay youngsters? on
hand and "ready" at each noble muster? Alas, no! Even now some are
getting an "absence," and some a "late," and of others the guns are
not cleaned and the bell buttons will be tarnished. Ready! it is a
short word; but it means a man's whole ceaseless purpose, self-denial,
and care. How little those speeding figures on the green guessed that
anybody on the old hillside was praying for them; but I believe the
very skill and swiftness with which they darted along, gave stringency
to the prayer; such power for good, such forces for evil; such ease
in doing the right thing, such recklessness, sometimes, whether it was
done or not. Through his glass, Mr. Wayne could study it all out.

See that one now; a tall fellow, going over the ground at a rate to
take common people's breath away. It is not altogether his fault that
he has to run for it; his best girl is on hand to-day, and this was a
critical walk round Flirtation. Drum-calls were scarcely heard, and
minutes flew unheeded. No carelessness of orders kept him back, and no
contempt for them make him linger now. He does not mean to have even
a late; and so dashes on and wins. There is some jeering and clapping
as the tall figure comes up; "Two-forty" being his affectionate
soubriquet; but all the same he is there, in ranks, with about ten
seconds or less to spare.

Another--Oh, yes, he set out to run; anathematising the drum, the
parade, and the regulations, and so soon stops; runs again--and stops,
with a sort of what's-the-use air. "How much time?" he asks another,
who is walking calmly on.

"None at all."

Whereupon he quickens his steps; but not so the second. The drum-beats
come thicker and faster--that makes no odds. It is only a "skin" more
or less, he says to himself; and he's sure to get it some other way,
if not this; and he has lost his Christmas leave already. So, while
the rest fall in, and answer to roll-call, he comes leisurely up to
barracks, some minutes after the last man has shouted "Here!"

That is Cadet Clinker all through; if he is going to fess, he'll "fess
cold." No one knows better than he how many demerits a man may get and
still keep his place in the corps; or what delicate shades of meaning
there are about "taking advantage of permits." So he runs it here and
runs it there; goes off limits in all sorts of ways, places, and times,
and gets help from all the friendly smugglers that infest the Post.
He is one who entraps others, serving out his stores in many-coloured
glasses or dainty cups, teaching the younger men strange oaths and
unwholesome ways; making many a weak boy ashamed of his mother's
counsels and his father's rules.

"_Il y a des héros en mal, comme en bien._"

You see he is such a pleasant fellow,--handsome, rich, plausible; a
great favourite with the ladies; and with a head about equally divided
between folly and mathematics. Excellent gifts, all thrown away; and
worst of all, thrown where they are stumbling blocks for other men. But
he is a tremendous favourite all the same, with much more courage to do
wrong than he has to do right.

It is a thing to see Mr. Clinker come forth and walk about the Post, a
day or two after one of his prize-fight exploits. His mouth is swelled,
his eyes bruised, his nose knocked out of all its fine proportions. But
he steps jauntily along, and the pretty girl at his side gazes up into
the disfigured face as if Clinker were one of the first defenders of
the country, newly risen from the shadows of old Fort Clinton.

To-night Magnus watched him coming over the plain, and thought of Mr.
Wayne's words. No, he had never prayed for Clinker, much less tried to
win him to better ways. And Cadet Kindred remarked to himself, quite
privately, that he would rather "pull him out of the river" than do
_that_, every time.

Mr. Wayne stayed over Sunday, and Magnus spent with him every minute
that he could. The day was still and mild, so they could be out of
doors the whole time; and I hardly know which of them enjoyed it most.

"If surroundings made men, you cadets should be the noblest set on
earth!" Mr. Wayne broke forth, as late in the afternoon they walked
up from Battery Knox, and paused in the little clearing where "Dade
and his Command" will be thought of for many a long day. "Such wonders
of beauty on every side, in mountains and sky and river; and whichever
way you turn, such reminders of men who have 'fought a good fight' on
the field of honour. Look at the old flag, and think how it has been
shot at and insulted; defied and threatened; yet how splendidly it
floats off to-day! And the guns that lie sleeping beneath its shadow
were captured by men who knew no such words as 'hard' or 'easy.' And
the great iron links once stretched across the river tell of other
chains triumphantly broken, in the face of fearful odds. On all sides
you find written: 'Faithful unto death.' Life purpose, life and death
effort, life-blood, have done it all; the blood of men who 'counted not
their life dear unto themselves' when the country had need. And the one
traitor among them--why, you will not have his name even in sight! His
tablet is a blank."

Slowly pacing up the walk again, Mr. Wayne went on, half to himself:

"Then Paul answered: 'What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for
I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the
name of the Lord Jesus.' Magnus" (with sudden change of tone) "when we
parted two years ago at the Grand Central, I bade you make friends with
the flag; _now_ I tell you to open a recruiting office. I think you
Christian men in the corps are making a grand mistake."

    "If you cannot reach the nation,
      Gather in the men you know:
    Teach your friend the way to glory--
      Draw your comrade where you go."

Cadet Kindred stopped short and faced him.

"Yes," Mr. Wayne said, answering the look; "I know all about it. But
the Lord said: 'He that gathereth not with me, scattereth'. And if you
think it will be easier to take positive ground and begin positive work
for Christ among a lot of strange officers at your first post, _I_
think you are mistaken."



XLI

UP CROWNEST

    Crowds of bees are giddy with clover,
      Crowds of grasshoppers skip at our feet:
    Crowds of larks in their matins hang over,
      Thanking the Lord for a life so sweet.

    --JEAN INGELOW.


If Cadet Kindred rose up next morning with the very spirit of the
Crusades astir in his heart; ready to charge down upon the Saracens,
lance in rest; he said to himself as the day went on, that if Mr. Wayne
had ever been a West Point cadet, that gentleman would know some things
he did not know now.

Here had Magnus been dreaming all night how he knocked a bumper out of
Randolph's hand; how he had run Rig up to the first section in French;
and how he had pitched Clinker back over the Commissary wall, just in
time to prevent his being missed and "skinned." Also how he himself
had been publicly thanked for these exploits by the Academic Board in
full session. But, alas! "the stuff that dreams are made of" fades in
the morning sun, and from these pleasing nocturnal visions Mr. Kindred
passed to a particularly tough recitation, with corresponding low
marks, and thence to the stubbornest horse in the hall, that would not
take the hurdles, and made him instead take the tan. And now, as he
sat in his room, tired and growly, the mail brought him nothing but a
desperately perfumed pink note. Magnus said "Phew!" and moved to the
window.

"Sent the whole shop, hasn't she?" said Rig. "That's Mrs. Newcomb, a
mile off."

"Just listen, will you?" said Magnus. "She wants to give a picnic on
Crownest, and tells me to bring men enough for five girls! How many
apiece, do you suppose?"

"Unknown quantity; all depends on the girls. Who are they?"

"Doesn't tell. Miss Pretty, of course, for one; she is a niece or
something. Then there's another girl, 'just from abroad,'--'and the
rest you know.' Well, I'll take the new girl, at a venture."

"Then you'll not have to think up any new grinds," said Rig. "Lucky
man. And I'll take Miss Pretty. If she's heard all mine before, she
won't say so. So we are two."

"And Clinker's three----"

"What do you have him for?" said Rig. "He's in every single thing--when
he isn't on the area."

"She wants him. By name," said Magnus. "Hopes 'dear Mr. Clinker will be
at leisure.'"

"That's a neat way of hoping he's out of Con." said Rig. "Say, didn't
she have a granddaughter or something, getting rubbed up in Paris?
That's the new girl."

"Granddaughter!" said Magnus. "Just let Mrs. Newcomb hear you say that!
But I'll take the rubbed-up girl, whoever she is, my risk. And Miss
Frisk will take _you_. She's sure to be along."

"Sure to get Clinker, if she is," said Rig. "Wonder if the little Busy
Bee will come? Kin, you're hard on that girl."

"Don't want me to be soft, do you?" said Magnus, with the drum cutting
him short.

Of course the names of the party were all out before Saturday; the
girls could not talk of much else. And as for cadets, each girl might
have had five, had the limits of the lunch basket agreed thereto. The
day was perfect, the dresses faultless, and Mr. Clinker happily "at
leisure," for once.

Not everybody knows--but few _try_ to know--how witching that climb up
Crownest is, if you take the old "Cadet Trail." The way goes along for
a while at the level of the plain, but then betakes itself to the air;
presently mounting up and up with a straight pitch before you. There
come turns, of course, winding round some unscaleable rock; and gentler
going over a small knoll or two, and quite a level stretch around the
shoulder, in the "Nest." But very often it is just a steep ladder of
a path, to be climbed as best you can. A wilderness of grey rock and
green woods; feathery hemlocks, sombre oaks, ash trees, maples, and
hickory. Below these, dogwood and other "cornels," with ironwood, shad
blossom, witch hazel, and laurel. Lower still ferns--unlike those
in the valley; with orchids of a new type, yellow gerardias, purple
gerardias, partridge berry, and wintergreen. Then the brown leaves of
last year, half covering the mosses, and thickly sprinkled in turn with
the red and yellow of to-day.

The rarest scents are in the air: the balsam breath of the sweet brier,
and from the new-fallen and falling leaves that special fragrance of
the autumn woods--sweet, racy, heart-piercing, a waft from days gone by
and withered, their work all done.

Many of the birds have already gone South; but robins are here, and
chickadees, and the cry of the gulls is in perfect keeping with the
cool air and the white caps on the river.

Up through this wilderness of wild and fragrant things, the little
party went joyously along; or if not quite that on Mrs. Newcomb's
part, yet it is painful to relate that her trips and stumbles did but
heighten the fun for all the rest. In many a place it took two men to
get her on at all. Magnus would leave his pretty companion safe on some
high standpoint, jump down again himself, and with Crane on the other
side carefully engineer Mrs. Newcomb to a place beside her niece. It
might also be noticed that Mr. Clinker and his convoy generally lagged
behind at such crises, or got into some tangle themselves, from which
they came out, safe and suddenly, as soon as Mrs. Newcomb was disposed
of. And by and by Cadet Kindred, being quite alive to the situation,
quickened his pace, and passed on too far ahead for any new service to
be required of him.

On and up the two flitted along--like grey and red squirrels,
averred the toiling Mrs. Newcomb; but even for themselves there were
difficulties.

Here, for instance, stands an immense rock that stops the way. And as
Miss Lane measures it with her eyes, behold! there is Magnus on top of
it, reaching down his hand to her.

"Do you expect me to climb up there?" Cadet gives a little gesture of
the head which Dickens would have said meant, "He rather thought so."

"How did you get there yourself?"

"Came."

"Are there any snakes up there?"

"Not so many as where you are."

Miss Lane seized his hand, made unheard-of efforts, and mounted the
rock, then looked down complacently.

"Why, how slow you are!" she cried. "Just jump up as I did. Oh--what
was that--a rattle?"

"Yes; Rig's tin pail against his buttons," said Magnus, laughing.

"I wish he'd give it to someone who does not wear buttons. Must people
always carry tin pails when they go out to enjoy themselves?"

"You'll like it at the top. And we're almost there now."

Trees grew shorter and scarcer, rocks stood up in bolder
self-assertion; and, with a last steep climb, the grey and the red came
out upon the mountain's lovely head, and, after a shout of victory,
sat down to look and breathe. Oh, how wonderfully fair earth is from
the top of Crownest!

On the west, beyond the dipping hillside, the broad valley lay in
seven shades of green--slope beyond slope--till it touched the soft
horizon blue. To the north, the far-off Catskill range rose, shoulder
to shoulder, from the more level land, a great lonely pile. Then on the
south, beyond the locked-in Highlands, Tappan lay shimmering in the
sunlight, a blue inland sea; while just across the river on its eastern
shore, the bluff ends of the mountains fell apart, and you could see
the long valleys between; the grey-green ridges like grim ribs, running
eastward towards the Connecticut line. The river itself was decked with
various craft; over all there wandered a faint, fitful north breeze.

From their vantage ground Magnus and his companion watched the toiling
party below, for whom neither earth nor sky had any special charm just
then. Privately Mrs. Newcomb was assuring herself, that the next time
she gave a picnic it would not be on the top of Crownest; the girls
might say what they liked. And Mr. Clinker was inwardly chafing against
the good lady's value in avoirdupois. (Quite literally, sometimes,
when on a bad bit of road she surged up against him.) Rig was laughing
to himself at them, at Magnus, and at things generally; and aloud at
the sallies of Miss Freak; while the last couples of the party fumed a
little at the slow progress and the narrow trail. How came those two to
get ahead? There they sat, in triumphant ease, the grey and the red.

"You men are a very peculiar set," Miss Lane said suddenly.

"I am sure you ladies are."

"Oh, I am not talking of the whole human race," said Miss Lane: "it is
cadets that are so odd, so unlike other people."

"That is good," said Magnus. "One would not wish to be like everybody
else."

"How you chop one up. I mean other students. Do you try to be unlike
all other cadets?"

Magnus shook his head.

"I get the credit sometimes, without trying."

"And I can see you deserve it, too," said the girl. "You would have
tugged Aunt Newcomb all the way up here, if you hadn't thought Mr.
Clinker meant you should."

Magnus laughed.

"Do you call that being odd?" he said. "It is just even."

"And then, instead of standing off like a shirk, you did the polite
thing and ran away. Do you always run from difficulties, Mr. Kindred?"

"Bad for me if I do," said Magnus. "A foe in the rear is worth two in
front."

"Then you generally fight?"

"People, or things?"

"Both."

"Well, as to the people," Magnus answered, "I have not been much
tried. It depends on yourself somewhat, I fancy; and I have never been
challenged since I entered the Corps."

"What would you do if you were?"

"What I would, is one thing," Magnus said rather slowly. "By my good
leave, I should say no."

"Would you--and be pointed at?"

"You're sure to be pointed at for something," Magnus answered lightly.
"It's a choice of cases."

"But I cannot imagine a man like you saying no!" said the girl eagerly.
"Not fight, if you were challenged? You are brave, I know."

"How do you know? If I am, I shall never fight for fear of being
pointed at."

"But why?" Miss Lane repeated, her bright eyes searching his face.
"Tell me quick, Mr. Kindred. They'll all be up here directly, and I
cannot possibly wait to know till to-morrow. Why wouldn't you fight? I
believe you could whip any man in the Corps."

"There is one rule," said Magnus, meeting her look, "which I have sworn
to keep. It is an old rule, and a short one, but it covers a great deal
of ground. 'Whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of
the Lord Jesus.' I could not so endorse my acceptance of a challenge."

The girl looked at him with wide open eyes.

"You will find those old rules of yours terribly in the way,
sometimes," she said.

"Sure sign that I am off the track, then," said her companion, smiling.
"Fences don't matter when you mean to keep the road. But doubtless most
good things have their inconvenient side."

"Aunt Newcomb, for instance," said Miss Lane, changing her tone. "I
think I should count both sides 'inconvenient,' if I had to pull her up
the hill. By the way, Mr. Kindred, why didn't your rule oblige you to
take the brunt of the burden to the last?"

"It might in some cases," said Magnus; "not in this. Clinker had to
earn his lunch, and there was no other way for him to do it."

"Well, there they come," said Miss Lane, rising up, "to cut short our
talk; I am quite sorry. You interest me, Mr. Kindred; cadets with
'views' are a novelty. But I rather wish you would fight!"

"I dare say I could get a broken head in the riding-hall some day, when
I'm on Dangerfield--would that do?" said Magnus, laughing back at her
as he went forward to give Mrs. Newcomb a hand, which was gratefully
taken.

"Oh, Mr. Kindred--thank you! This has been certainly--the most awfully
grand--walk I ever experienced."

"It isn't a walk at all, Aunt Newcomb," said Miss Freak. "It's a
clamber, and a climb, and the roughest sort of time. I've ruined my
best pair of shoes, and not another this side of New York. And five
walks on hand for to-morrow."

"Get an order on the Captain from the Com.," Rig suggested.

"Fit warranted," said Miss Freak, putting her little foot out into the
sunlight. "I wonder you don't offer me your own, Mr. McLean, at once,
and save what is left of mine."

"You wouldn't need but one," said Rig; "and regulations require me to
have two."

"Much you care for regulations, up here."

"Freaky, my dear," said her aunt, "I wish you girls would unpack the
baskets, and heat up our coffee. I am just worn out."

"But you must have a fire," said Miss Lane. "Who'll make it?"

Then followed the prettiest, liveliest bustle. The hilltop all around
them was covered with a low growth of huckleberry bushes; and here and
there, scattered about among this, were twigs and sticks and chips, dry
and bleached and just ready to burn.

Choosing with some care a rock whence the fire could not easily spread,
a gay little blaze was soon kindled, and the cold coffee put under--or
over--its care. Then busy hands unpacked or uncovered the baskets.
Sandwiches were in one, cake in another, late peaches filled a third.
Miss Freak had a box of Huyler's somewhat luscious sweets; Miss Newcomb
an assortment of peanut brittle, cocoanut cakes, and sweet chocolate;
and the wind kept still, and did not blow even a napkin away.

But the last time Magnus Kindred had been at a picnic, it was in the
far-away home region, and with just the home group around him; and now
it all came back to him in a moment; with the tones of his mother's
voice as she asked for a blessing on their day's pleasure. And I
suppose it was this that made him pause unconsciously, after he had
taken his stand by the fire to pour out the steaming coffee.

"What is it?" said Mrs. Newcomb, in her plaintive voice. "Not hot yet?"

Then Miss Freak laughed out, and Miss Newcomb looked at her, and Miss
Lane watched this cadet who had "views."

"Oh, aunty!" cried Miss Freak, "don't you know he's one of the
too-good-for-this-earth boys? Why, coffee out of an ice box would scald
his throat, if somebody didn't pray over it first. He's waiting for you
to say grace, ma'am."

"Waiting for me!" Mrs. Newcomb repeated helplessly. "But your uncle
always does it, you know, Freaky."

"Well, he isn't here," said Miss Freak. "Come, aunty!" The girls were
choking themselves with their pocket-handkerchiefs; the cadets, better
used to endurance, kept their gravity intact. Charlemagne Kindred
stood absolutely still; but his thoughts went flying back to the
honeysuckle-wreathed porch, and Cherry, and how she had waited for him.
Blessings on her! she never came near him but to do him good.

"Why doesn't the man pour out his coffee?" Miss Lane was saying
impatiently to herself.

"Mr. Kindred," said Mrs. Newcomb in a sort of appeal--"girls, be
quiet--I am ashamed of you. Mr. Kindred, will you be kind enough to say
grace yourself? Of course, it is quite proper to have it done, and a
man can do it so much better."

"Not this man!" So shot the feeling through Cadet Charlemagne. This
man, who had never even come near such a thing in public. But quick as
Nehemiah got his orders, so on the instant the young cadet had his.
Was he not pledged to shun no point of witness-bearing? And, with
again one swift thought of Cherry, Magnus obeyed; standing there by the
little fire, while good Mrs. Newcomb bowed her head, and the others
watched him from their mossy seats. And the words were Cherry's own, as
she had said them on that well-remembered morning.

"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much."
This was a very small thing to do, but I think nobody ever guessed what
it cost Magnus Kindred. And as little did he imagine, how that small
bit of open confession broadened out and took its full proportions to
other eyes. There was something in the serious face, something in the
reverent voice, something about it all, indeed, that everybody felt. As
Mr. Kindred came forward now with Mrs. Newcomb's coffee cup, Clinker
looked at him curiously, McLean with a sort of wondering veneration,
while Miss Lane said to herself: "Fight! Of course he could!" But then
Magnus threw himself into the fun, and in two minutes had fanned the
frolic to a point that quite outshone the fire.

"So nice to have a private chaplain along," Miss Freak had said airily,
trying to throw off her thoughts. But the other girls frowned down
all attempts at fun in that direction, and harmony reigned. Or, to
speak more correctly, the lunch baskets reigned in a very harmonious
atmosphere.

Sitting about on moss or stones, after the good cheer had vanished,
the cadets got off so many "grinds" that poor Mrs. Newcomb declared
she should have no strength left to help her down the hill. Then they
sang songs, and gave out conundrums. The girls made chains of the pine
needles, and the men in grey put them on, and declared them emblematic
and imperishable.

On her part, Miss Lane went on with her study of Magnus Kindred,
watching him keenly. She noticed that though he took the frail
green links from her hands, putting them round his cap, twining them
about his arm, he said no word of their being "fetters"--called
them garlands, instead. She felt that in all the light play, the
cavalier-like deference, there was no sham devotion, no hint of deeper
things. Yet he wore his class ring. And she knew she was pretty, and
felt certain she was well dressed. It piqued her; she would have liked
to see those green chains press hard, with a permanent sensation. And
then, when she went off to look at some side view which Mr. Clinker
recommended, what did Mr. Kindred do but seat himself by Mrs. Newcomb
and talk to her! It was extremely trying.

I think, to me, the way down Crownest is more difficult than the way
up; taking hold perhaps upon a set of less-used muscles; but the party
all came safe and sound to the lower level and easier going of the
plain.

"Now you must be sure and come to us at Christmas," Mrs. Newcomb was
saying, as they parted. "We shall expect you all."

"Well, I can't come, sorry to say," Mr. Clinker answered with a laugh.
"I've got a previous with the Com. Awfully hard lines for me--but it's
just my luck."



XLII

CHRISTMAS LEAVE

 Count me o'er earth's chosen heroes, they were men that stood
 alone.

  --JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.


Cold weather came early. Mrs. Newcomb's picnic was the last of the
season, and most of the human birds of passage grew chilly, and took
their bright plumage back to city streets. A few visitors lingered on;
people with no children to put to school, or with some son or brother
in the Corps.

Only the steadfast old hills flung out their hardy colours--and flung
them off; decking themselves with an occasional white cap instead. The
blue river rolled by in deep foamy wrinkles; the distant Catskills had
donned their snow.

No parades now, but noisy drills, with light battery, siege battery,
and sea-coast guns, making the hills roar out in countless echoes. Only
Battery Knox lay quiet, unmoved in all the commotion, keeping silent
watch near the white shaft of "Dade and his Command." While far away
beyond the hubbub, a small army of white and grey and brown stones told
of other soldiers, who had fought their last battle, and answered to
the last command. Very little told there, indeed, but of the _soldier_;
the _man_ almost left out. But on one old, old stone are words to make
one's heart leap up for joy:

"He that doeth the will of God, abideth forever."

October ran its bright course, and the shorter, darker days of November
came softly in, but very fair, even yet. The hills set forth their
rocky heights and fastnesses, stripped now of the softening leaves,
and still the cold grey of the stone was warmed and clouded with the
wilderness of brown tree stems. And every here and there rose up a
tall hemlock or cedar or pine, in its dark, dauntless green, while not
a few red oaks still sported the tatters of their autumn flags. Along
the river on the lower ground, black alder bushes showed a wealth of
"winter berries," beautiful as coral beads, and a close match in colour.

Drills ceased, and dress parade began; and in the dusky time between
gunfire and supper the men had chance for a good constitutional upon
the well-swept sidewalk of the officers' row. Wrapped in long grey
fearnaughts, with steady, swinging step, they went up and down, in ones
and twos and threes, almost like an open procession; talking, talking,
and discussing. Now the last blunder of the "Com.," now the latest whim
of the "Supe"; then the marks of the day. Here, consigning all tactical
officers to the prompt dealing of a drumhead court-martial, and here
busy with the charms of some fair new girl. Oftenest of all, perhaps,
dwelling on Graduation, Furlough, and First-class camp.

But you never saw them walk arm in arm, like other students,--this
would strike any stranger. Close together, but both hands free. Perhaps
the regulation salute, with its frequent, instant, and exact demands,
may be partly the cause of this.

A fellow once hastening over to the hop with a girl on one arm, and her
shoes and fan laying claim to the other, passed a certain dignitary
with only a bow of the head, and was of course reported.

Going next day to explain and get the report off, he was told:

"Drop the girl! Drop the shoes! Salute, salute!"

Another feature of West Point life which I think would strike unwonted
eyes, is the universal opening of front doors at four o'clock. Up to
that time, after the midday refection of whatever name, West Point on
the plain might be a city asleep, with slow pacing sentries guarding
its slumbers. But when the sweet four o'clock bugle sounds out, waking
the echoes and the antagonistic dogs, the houses wake up too. Bonnets
go on, gloves slide into place, and the fair wearers come forth with a
delightful sense of expecting or being expected (for both things are in
place), and the thinnest veil of unconcern to hide it all. It is a very
pretty scene.

Officers and professors come hastening back from the section room, gay
turnouts wheel hither and thither, and the cadets are presently out in
force. For drill, for parade, for walks, according to the time of year
and the state of the weather. Football was not yet the rage, in Magnus
Kindred's time, nor bicycles; and so every man you met was practising
the noble art of walking, or showing how splendidly West Point can ride.

As November speeded away, Christmas leave began to rise up in the
distance, and to claim many thoughts. Men who had lost it were down on
their "luck" (the cadet spelling for carelessness), men who had won it
debated in what way the few dear hours of freedom should be spent; and
many a fellow from some far-down or far-off corner of the land stood
pledged to go with his happier friend whose home was nearer by.

In all these joys, as usual, the poor fourth classmen had no share.
They walked, indeed, like the rest; one must do something; but they
talked gloomy things. No Christmas leave for them--and not much of
anything else but hard work. They were not supposed to need anything
else. No damsels on the sidewalk proffered them sugar plums, very few
people even knew them by sight.

I will do Magnus Kindred the justice to say that the keen memory
of some of his own early days at the Post made him a little bit
thoughtful of these forlorn young strangers. It was no great credit to
him, perhaps, if he now and then passed on to fourth class hands a box
of Miss Flirt's best candy, but he did better than that. He gave words
of encouragement and counsel, cheered up the faint hearts, and would
smile and speak to a pleb on the sidewalk, just as if he himself had
not been first sergeant, and a prime favourite with the ladies.

Some people will say he could have had no time to look after anyone but
himself, but you never know how much you have, till you divide it up
with needy people. And I doubt if helping takes more time than hazing.
It is rather a question of which word you will say, what look you will
give. And there had come to Cadet Kindred the wholesome perception that
he could be a power for good or for evil, with all these younger boys.
Consciously or unconsciously, they were watching the upper classmen,
and taking tone from them.

"What is in the way of your living just as earnest Christian lives
here, as at home?" he had said one day to some plebs who were gradually
sliding back from all their good home habits. And one answered:

"Because we are so far from home, sir, and can't go to church so often,
and can't keep Sunday as we have been taught."

But another said boldly:

"Because the first classmen are so different in camp from what they are
in prayer-meeting."

And it set Magnus to thinking. His own pleb days were not so long past
that he could forget how he used to watch Mr. Upright, to see what all
his brave words in the prayer meeting came to in the week; finding the
first captain's straight everyday walk a constant help. And just such
service he himself was called upon to render to these new men.

It had been a doubt with Mr. Kindred, as the holidays drew on, whether
after all he would use his Christmas leave. He had it, easy enough, but
what should he do with it? Home was too far away to be even thought of,
and short of home, what was there he cared for? Magnus rather thought
he would stay at the Post.

However, as the time drew near, and Mrs. Newcomb renewed her
invitation, and Mrs. Beguile sent up hers, Magnus yielded to the
prospective charms of the Metropolitan Museum, Central Park, and New
York harbour; and joined the gay party that were going to town. Five
days' escape from the reveille gun was, after all, worth something.

Busy, gay days! In their quiet "cit" dress the cadets roamed about all
day, and then at night, in correct cadet costume, went to dinner here
and supper there, until Magnus thought he must have been presented to
all the pretty girls in town. Rooms were full of floating sashes and
falling lace and skirts that could "stand alone": and the men in grey
moved about among the airiest kind of clouds and billows; a maze of
bewildering scents and sounds and visions, with old friends and new on
every hand.

The last night of all there was a large gathering of young people at
the house of Mrs. Beguile, and of course the West Pointers were petted
and wondered over to their hearts' content. In fact Magnus had more of
it than he wanted; he grew tired of being asked for bell buttons, and
telling how often he had his hair cut. McLean enjoyed it, and Randolph
could never have too many girls around, even if the fair creatures
had to stand on tiptoe and peep over each other's shoulders. But Mr.
Kindred was in a very critical mood, thinking of Cherry; and found
himself comparing necks and shoulders on every hand. He was saying
stringent things to himself anent one of the prodigal owners, when Mrs.
Beguile touched him on the arm.

"I do not wonder you are lost in admiration," she said, following his
eyes, which were just then fixed on the youngest Miss Fashion; an
extremely handsome young lady, too much of whose dress seemed to have
slid down to the floor in a mass of curling frills and furbelows.

"Like Venus rising from the sea, is she not, Mr. Kindred, with her
white foamy draperies?"

Magnus considered this rendering.

"Why did Venus rise from the sea?" he asked abruptly. But now Mrs.
Beguile looked at him.

"Why?" she repeated. "Dear me! how should I know? I'm not the least bit
classical. Because she liked to, I suppose. But my dear Mr. Kindred, as
our great poet has beautifully remarked, 'Life is a business, not good
cheer.' Will you come with me and make yourself useful?"

"What an opening--to a man who has been totally useless for the last
four days!" Magnus answered, as he followed his hostess to the supper
room. "But if your poet had seen that table, Mrs. Beguile, he would
have written down life to be good cheer and not business--couldn't help
it, you know; it would have confused his mind to that extent."

Mrs. Beguile took this as a great joke, and went about repeating it.

"Cadets have such pretty ways of saying things," she remarked. "Oh,
Busy, here's Mr. Kindred. You used to see him at West Point, you know,
and he's just as nice as ever."

Poor little Miss Bee! Did she need to be assured of that? But she bore
herself gallantly, was just glad enough and not too glad to see him,
gave one thought to her dress--so unfashionably high and plain--and
never found out with what deep approval Cadet Kindred noticed its
modest cut and simple trimmings.

"Cherry might ask her to be one of the bridesmaids," he thought. Poor
little Mabel!

"Say, Kin," Rig confided to him as he went by with Miss Flirt's empty
plate; "just two things not here, cast-iron pancakes, and 'Sammy.'"

"And the first captain," added Randolph, "yelling out 'Battalion,
rise!' before we're half through."

"What do you think of this, for Commissary beef?" quoth Twinkle,
devouring a sandwich in blissful ignorance of its component parts.

"Mr. Kindred! Mr. Kindred!" called out Miss Freak from a window seat
behind him; "do please get me a glass of punch. I'm just dying with
thirst."

Magnus stepped over to a side table and brought the young lady a glass
of sparkling cold water. Miss Freak promptly handed it back.

"What did you bring that for?" she asked. "I didn't say water, man
alive!"

"Best thing I know, when you are thirsty," said Magnus. "Try it once."

"Try it once," the girl repeated mockingly. "Do you suppose I never
have?"

"She wants punch," remarked Miss Saucy.

"She thinks she does."

"She _knows_ she does," said Miss Freak, with a stamp of her little
foot. "You'd better believe she knows what she wants."

"I never heard that ladies could not be mistaken, did you?" said Magnus
provokingly.

"Mrs. Beguile! Mrs. Beguile!" called out Miss Freak, "here's one of
your guests very rude to me!"

"What is it, Freaky?" asked the good lady, bustling up. "Rude to you?
Oh, I guess not. Mr. Kindred will take care of you."

"If she will let me."

"Why, he's the very man!" said Miss Freak. "I want some punch, and
he'll not get it for me."

"Not get it for you, dear?"

"Doused me with cold water," said the young lady, pouting.

"Doused you!" Mrs. Beguile looked at the pink draperies, which gave no
sign of such heroic treatment; then she turned to Magnus.

"I am trying to take care of her, Mrs. Beguile," Magnus said.

The good lady looked at him,--the clean, clear face, the bright eyes;
looked across to the great punch bowl, where the ladling and quaffing
went ceaselessly on, her own boys among the crowd, and a shadow fell on
her placid face.

"Do you drink nothing but water yourself, Mr. Kindred?"

"Nothing, ma'am."

"Not even punch?"

"No, ma'am."

Another look went across the room, and then Mrs. Beguile said with a
half sigh:

"Freaky, if I were you, I'd let him take care of me as he thinks best;
and of himself, too. You are a brave man, Mr. Kindred."

"'The Lord cover his head in the day of battle,'" said a low voice
behind Magnus. He turned quickly, but perhaps the speaker had turned
too, for he saw no sign.

"I thought you wouldn't fight?" said Miss Lane, laughing up at him.

As for Miss Freak, she pouted, and made believe cry; and Randolph
darted over to the great bowl, coming back with a glass of punch in
each hand, one for his own companion and one for Miss Freak.

"Such airs!" commented portly Mrs. Chose, sailing by. "Setting himself
up above the rest of the world. Just the way with those West Pointers.
I told you so, Miranda; more strut than sense. I'll never take you to
West Point again."

"Oh, yes you will," said Miss Miranda cheerfully, "because I'm going.
Give me the strut, every time."

"I admire your courage, Mr. Kindred," said another lady; "it is quite
touching in so young a man. But I am always sorry to see a fine thing
wasted, thrown away: misdirected zeal, you know, for instance. You
cannot think for a moment that one of those small glasses of punch
could affect a person in any way?"

"It might make him want another, Mrs. Bright," Magnus answered
respectfully. She was a very pleasant, sensible woman, and had always
been very kind to him.

"Want another? Well, let him have it. Two such glasses of simple punch?
Why, the head that wouldn't stand that isn't worth the purchase."

"Mine would be worth more before than it would after," Magnus answered
gaily, but not without a twinge.

"Oh, are you particularly susceptible?"

"Not that I know of, ma'am."

"Of course, if you are," the lady went on, "you do right to let it
alone. But you might grant others the pleasure. Really, I think it is
rather narrow of you, Mr. Kindred, and so I don't like it. You know you
have always been my model cadet."

Magnus bowed.

"Fences have a narrow look, I do suppose," he said, "but they are good
things, in spots. And I'd rather disappoint you so, than in some other
ways, Mrs. Bright."

The two stood silent for a moment, looking off towards the punch bowl.
Men came and went, and went and came, with other people's glasses; and
then stood still and emptied their own. Young men, old men, with women
on the outskirts.

"And you will not get _me_ a glass?" said Mrs. Bright; looking up at
her favourite.

"No, ma'am, if you please," Magnus said, with very winning deference.
"You will not ask me, Mrs. Bright?"

"You cannot think there is any risk for _me_? Would it be against West
Point regulations? But they are not in force here."

"No; although West Point honour is mine to guard, wherever I am,"
answered Magnus. "But I have said it to myself, that I will never take
nor give the stuff in any form. For a regulation older than West Point,
Mrs. Bright."

"What, then?"

"'If meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no meat while the world
standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.'"

Very hilarious voices from the region of the punch bowl emphasised the
clear, brave words.

"I don't like it," said the lady frankly. "You upset all my ideas."

"But why do you keep him mewed up here in the corner, Mrs. Bright?"
said Miss Saucy, who had been listening intently behind backs. "I don't
believe he's had one scrap of supper. Have a cup of tea; do, Magnus.
You can't live upon air, man, even in the plural. Here's some I brought
you myself. Taste it and see how good it is. You like lemon, I know."

Magnus took the cup from the glittering fingers, expressed his thanks,
and tasted as he was bid. Then instantly turned and set the full cup
down on the table, coming back to his place without a word.

A great burst of laughter greeted him. Miss Saucy fairly sank down into
a chair, and Miss Newcomb and a half-dozen more clapped hands with
delight.

"What is all this?" said Mrs. Bright sternly; the screaming style was
not to her taste, and she had caught the sudden flush and gleam on the
face of Charlemagne Kindred. "What is all this, girls?"

"Rum," Magnus said briefly.

"It wasn't!" cried Miss Saucy; "it was good, honest tea, Mrs. Bright."

"With dishonest seasoning."

"That was a very unladylike trick," said Mrs. Bright. "Girls, I am
extremely astonished at you. Rum in tea? Why, I never heard of such a
thing."

"Oh, aunty," cried Miss Freak, with her hands on her sides, "there's
lots of things you never heard of!"

"Well, I am glad I have heard of _you_!" said Mrs. Bright, giving
Magnus a good grip of her hand. "Glad I have heard you, too. And now I
must go."

Miss Lane, who had been a keen looker-on at all this, came up a little
closer.

"How does it work?" she said softly. "You know I warned you those old
rules would get in your way."

"They have not yet," said Magnus. "I am all standing, thank you."

"I see; straighter than ever. It's a great thing to have 'views,'" said
Miss Lane, with a laugh. "When they materialise like yours."

For a few minutes the air was full of "See you at the New Year's
Hop"--"Take you to the Hundredth Night"--"Come for first-class camp."
Then the company separated, the lights went out, and the punch bowl was
left to its own reflections.



XLIII

THE HUNDREDTH NIGHT

    Oh, who will leave West Point retreats,
      A hundred days to come?
    Oh, who will walk the city streets,
      A hundred days to come?
    Oh, who will wear their suits of cits,
    Oh, who will boast of spooning fits,
    Who'll lose their cents but not their wits,
      A hundred days to come?

    --_West Point Howitzer of '93._


The January examination that year came on and went off, bearing with it
but few wrecks. One or two hard-working men who were cut out for lines
of life where mathematics counted less; with two or three careless
ones who coveted lines where there was no work at all. And now in
everybody's mind the cold days and hard studies ranged themselves in
a shortening vista, with June at the end. June! the short word for
first-class camp, furlough, yearling camp, and graduation. While to
Charlemagne Kindred and many another, was added in the thought of
friends at home who had promised to grace June with their presence.
Some men talked about this, but he never did--at least, not in full.
To his roommate he did sometimes speak of his mother and her coming,
but not of his sisters; never of Cherry. No one knew that she existed,
except the men who had been there, and they had been very much thrown
off to the other girls even then. And as Magnus was extremely popular
at West Point, there were always girls at hand to suggest unlimited
chaffing, without crossing the continent to find occasion thereto.
Letters came and went in troops, of course, but so they did for
other men. Three girls he never heard of wrote to Magnus, desiring a
correspondence, and he turned the letters over to Mr. Trent, who had
quite a lively time. Thus, one way and another, the weeks swung on, and
Washington's birthday was close at hand.

"One hundred days to June!"

So rang out the joyful tidings in the Mess Hall one snowy winter
morning, making the old place on a sudden all summer with warm
exultation. It was almost beyond belief; and the fourth classman
detailed to announce the date might have been chaired and borne back to
barracks on the shoulders of the crowd, had such doings been allowed
at the Academy. As things were, however, all that could be given him
was the further privilege of announcing next morning, that the days had
dwindled to ninety nine.

But just in here came the Hundredth Night extravaganza; like
Hallowe'en, or the Carnival, or any other special occasion when wits
run wild.

If I should try to give you the details of any one particular Hundredth
Night frolic, I might either make anomalous blunders or else mark out
and specify some one special year, and so date my story. Let me rather,
then, give a chance medley from many celebrations, of things that were
done--or might have been done--only vouching for the general truth of
its details.

Of course Magnus Kindred was in the forefront of everything, with his
untiring energy, fine voice, and ready wit; and no beavers could have
worked harder over a winter house, than these men over one winter
frolic. Plans, dresses, scenery, jokes, and poems, with here and there
an elaborate mock-machine; what patience, what perseverance, what
endless fertile wits, they did display. Every Saturday afternoon,
every minute of release from quarters, went into the work. Ladies were
called upon for hints and materials; good-natured officers gave their
accoutrements and their advice. The very professors lent their coats to
the wicked boys who were preparing to "skin" their benefactors, in the
only way possible to cadets.

For the men in grey may not argue, remonstrate, or petition; may not
even ask why. "Theirs but to do and die," as they themselves would
put it; until the Colour Line comes round, or the Hundredth Night.
Then, twice in the year, they are allowed to state their opinions,
grievances, and desires, though still within certain limits. Woe be to
the man who ventures to disagree with his instructor in the section
room; but at the Hundredth night he may make what fun of him he
can--within limits.

Of late, however, the censorship over these frolics has been so strict
that they are shorn of their old glory. The wild garden effect has
changed into more "correct" growths, well trained and trimmed: less
distinctive, less individual. Wits will not play without space to play
in. But in those times of which I write, it seems to have been thought
that steam pent up was more dangerous than the same blown off; and that
the quips and jibes and flings, so dear to cadet hearts, were most
innocuous when well shaken up and aired twice a year.

Cadet rebukes rarely miss the mark through being wrapped in too much
cotton. But if a few cuts and scratches follow they are not deep, and
the surrounding fun half heals them. I defy anybody to look grave, when
that grey house "comes down" in a roar of merriment.

Of course, many of the jokes are so local and technical that a stranger
would be puzzled. West Point affairs, personal hits at cadets,
or memories of the section room, figure largely. But whether you
understand or not, you have to laugh, just for the rollicking joy that
goes on behind you. The jolly storm of applause sweeps you helplessly
along.

There are years when you go to the Hundredth Night between snowbanks
as high as yourself, and along slippery white paths; there are others
when the hills are clouded, and the mist hangs low, and the gas
lights twinkle and peer through a grey veil. There are still others
when air and hills and sky are at the brightest and bonniest, with
a clear, hard, brown earth; and you cross the plain amid a glory of
contesting lights:--gas round the quarters; a young moon dipping her
lovely crescent behind the hill; Newburgh's electric lights winking and
blinking like live things, from ten miles away; and close before you,
the whole front of barracks in a blaze of lit-up rooms. It is so fair,
so weird, that you can only look and look, back and forth, from side to
side.

As you gaze and loiter, small parties pass you on the way: people
intent upon other effects than those of light and shadow. Generally
a cadet with a girl--or two girls; with sometimes a chaperon, and
sometimes not. But remember that every West Point cadet is held to be a
knight _par excellence_; a gentleman all through; and so, by long usage
and experience, judged to be a fit and sufficient escort on every such
occasion. It is the regular thing.

And then when the figures flit by you side by side or arm in arm; pink
and grey, or grey and yellow, or, as now, furs and cadet cloth, all
your comment is for the pretty combination. And when some solitary
greatcoat goes speeding along to meet an appointment at the Hotel or
the houses, you instantly hope that the girl will not keep him waiting.

For the minutes are running on; and whoever wants a good seat--or a
seat at all--had better not delay.

There is a grey throng about the steps of the old Mess Hall, and girls
in quantity.

They press up the stone steps, and pour into the hall, pretty and
flushed, proud and sufficient. Officers with their families join in,
and now and then a distinguished stranger; and these fill up the front
seats. Then come civilians, visitors, and their escorts. Behind the
curtain mysterious sounds of tools at work tell of preparations not
quite complete. There is music, a pause, and more music; and then from
behind the curtain a tall, grey figure steps gravely forth, bows low to
the audience, and begins the regulation Hundredth Night address. It is
the president of the first class.

Whoever makes the speech, and whatever else he puts in it, the refrain
is always:

"One hundred days to June!"

I think I never knew but one exception; and I missed the old words
then; but this night they were in full force. Yet the speech was in
some ways as unlike most others as he himself was different from many
men. Strong, tall, square shouldered, both mentally and physically,
Cadet Trueman no more thought of turning a stone wall, or dodging a
river, than if they had been pebbles and rivulets. Which way he ought
to go, that way he went; the only sort of a steeplechase in which no
man comes to grief. Not a brilliant man, but a diligent; "hard work and
hard praying" had brought him nobly through. Trueman stood high, wore
high chevrons, and knew less (experimentally) of the area of barracks
than any man in his class. No ladies' man, as you might guess; although
the chevrons, or something, won him many admiring looks. But if ever
you met Mr. Trueman meandering round Flirtation with a girl, you might
be sure it was a case of philanthropy, pure and simple, and that the
damsel was on his hands by no volition of his own. And he never asked
for the further favour of a walk after chapel, or on O. G. P. He always
acquitted himself well on such occasions, but that was the last of it;
and he joyfully slid back among the bachelors again. And now, as he
came forward and bowed to the expectant throng, no thought of any--or
all--the bright eyes in the room made his pulse one throb the quicker.
He had stir enough, in the mere heading of his speech:

"One hundred days to June!"

"Who is that?" whispered a stylish new girl for whom Magnus Kindred
played cavalier.

"Fort Put. In moments of deepest affection, 'Old Put.'"

"How absurd you cadets always are! Wherefore do you call him that?"

"Only thing in the neighbourhood like him. Crownest is a trifle large
for even his inches."

The girl looked indignant, as if she thought Magnus was fooling her;
but then the speech began.

Happy for you, perhaps, that no complete copy has come to my hands;
you are spared the danger of being even asked to read it. But the
last sentences so fixed themselves in Magnus Kindred's mind that he
sent them off to Cherry next day, word for word. And of course I have
unlimited control of the correspondence. "Ladies and Gentlemen" figured
politely in the opening words, but Cadet True soon forgot them; looking
clean across the gay flower garden in front to the grey mass behind:
the vivid, eager, forceful lives hid away beneath those trim dress
coats.

"One hundred days to June! To freedom, to power, to Life! Men of 18--,
shall your freedom be liberty or license? your power sworn in for good,
or for evil? Shall life be a failure--or a success? The names that rank
highest to-day, will they keep their proud position? The names that
stand lower, will they show the world what they could have done here,
but for Wave Motion and Spanish?"

And now Mr. Trueman had to pause, for this mention of their dire
enemies brought the grey house down.

"It may be--it can be, if you will," he went on. "Every man has it in
him to do royal work. 'The people that know their God shall be strong,
and do exploits.'

    "Fight the fight, Christian!
      Jesus is o'er thee.
    Run the race, Christian!
      Heaven is before thee.
    Thee from the love of Christ
      Nothing shall sever:
    Mount when thy work is done,
      Praise him forever."

The grey figure bowed and disappeared behind the curtain amid great
cheering.

"Good for you, Old Put!" cried Magnus heartily. "You see," he explained
to his companion, "True's just the same (or a trifle better) in
barracks than he is at prayer-meeting. That's how he won his name.
Nothing but treachery could have put the old fort in the hands of the
enemy,--and that failed. I believe," said Mr. Kindred, turning bright
eyes on his companion, "that if Arnold had carried out his plan, the
rocks on the hillside would have risen up and fought back the invaders."

Miss Cray looked at him.

"You're very patriotic, aren't you, Mr. Kindred?"

"Rather," Magnus answered with dry emphasis.

"I've been abroad so long," said the pretty girl, "I get puzzled. I do
know about Arnold. There's his tablet in the chapel, you know. But who
were Grant and Sherman, anyway? Didn't they figure in the last war,
somehow?"

"Some people thought they did," said Cadet Kindred, with a face that
had no expression whatever. And then, happily, the curtain drew up.

But how shall I give any idea of the performance to one who has never
seen the like? Hits at officers, burlesques of unpopular orders,
take-offs of the girls, with jibes and chaff at each other that would
have made anybody but cadets just savage. Being cadets, they caught
the fun, stood the jeers, and laughed--roared--till the Mess Hall rang.

With all this, songs--often very good; or a charming bit of "silent
manual"; and scenes and situations sometimes true, always possible,
and very droll. Then some mock machinery that one wondered how they
ever found time to make; unheard-of problems and discoveries worked
out in most ingenious ways, with just enough flavour of this or that
instructor's style to "adorn the tale"--whether any moral came in or
not.

Enter a donkey, carefully compounded of four plebs within--and I cannot
guess what without. Ears and tail of the proper length, hide of the
proper colour. He is slightly jerky and uncertain about his first
coming in; but that is all in keeping for a descendant of the donkey
"what wouldn't go"; and there is no hitch whatever in the performance.
I believe one of the legs fainted as time went on; but the little
beast (I mean the donkey), being skilfully pulled by the tail, beat a
masterly retreat upon the other three.

A showman comes in with an armful of pictures, clever crayon sketches
of nooks on Flirtation; of unhorsed cadets; of cadet dreams, and
first-post realities. The showman pulls them away, one after the other,
with brief words of comment, prefacing the last with a bit of glowing
praise and liking--and lo! there stands before you the life-size
"counterfeit" of the well-beloved Superintendent; cleverly enlarged by
the cadet artist from a picture in some magazine. How the men cheer!
They'll have a slap at him, like enough, among the jokes, but they love
him none the less.

Then stalks out to view a stately papa, and a whole bevy of blooming
daughters flutter in after him. They are dressed to kill, and come
flirting and fanning, bridling and prinking, in a way to instruct some
_bona fide_ girls. The butterfly poise of these airy damsels is quite
admirable, and could only have been won by long and careful study of
the originals.

A dance of cuirassiers follows: but thereby hangs a tail--longer than
the donkey's.

There had been for some time a highly unpopular dog at the Post;
whether bearing his own demerits, or those of his master, history saith
not. But some months before this winter night, and with his owner away,
the dog had been mysteriously and marvellously painted by hands unknown.

Condign punishment was ready for the offenders. But the prefix to the
old receipt for cooking a hare ("First catch it") is eminently in place
at West Point,--and no one was caught. It was told, _sub rosa_, and
with great delight, how word flashed over the wires: "The dog has been
painted"; and how, when the owner came back, he met the chief culprit
first of all, and said he was glad to see him. But all this had passed,
and the dog was himself again.

Now, to-night, the four cuirassiers, booted and spurred and helmeted,
went on with their dance, singing their song the while, when suddenly
from behind the scenes slid in the dog--the paint stripes in order as
they had been before, and the medallion on its side with the number of
its master's regiment all complete. The carefully moulded little body
gave hardly a hint of its pillow-case skin.

Midway across the stage the dog stood still. And instantly the
cuirassiers paused in their dance, drew up around the dog and solemnly
saluted, with sword points to the earth, as if the whole tactical
department had been there in person. A wild dance followed, and the dog
was then solemnly borne off on the points of the cuirassiers' weapons.
But words cannot give the utter drollery of the thing, nor tell the
perfect way in which it was carried out.

Then came more music, and the reading of the _Howitzer_.

A cadet _Howitzer_ is a small, wholly original newspaper, full of
everything in general; grinds, burlesques, sharp hints and comments,
with bits of ridiculous fact as well; free as air, and sometimes as
breezy. Verses to the cadet girl, verses _at_ her, as well as touching
the stringent professor, and the unpopular drill. Grievances painted in
high colours, and jokes about cadets that are as merciless as they are
many.

Scene: Riding hall.

Lieut. B.: "Mr. H., let go that horse's mane, sir!"

Cadet H. "I--I--I'm afraid he'll fall down if I do, Lieutenant."

"Why is T. like necessity?"

"Because he knows no Law."

"A first-class horse--the Spanish pony."

"Mabel, what became of that West Pointer you were engaged to?"

"O, he turned out to be a disappointer."

Scene: Section room.

Cadet L.: "Stucco is made by mixing gypsum with a large solution."

Instructor: "Large solution of what?"

Cadet: "The text does not state, sir. It just says it is mixed with a
solution of size."

Scene: Section room.

Professor: "Now, gentlemen, the Indians made signs of natural and
living objects their language. For instance, if they wished to
represent the Little Horn River they drew a little horn; and if they
wished to represent the Big Horn River, they drew a big horn."

Cadet C.: "Professor, how did they represent the Little Big Horn?"

Such, and such like, keen-worded trifles; a line, or a page long; often
very bright, seldom complimentary, but always most impartial in their
bestowal of hits.

Miranda: "I think Mr. W. is the most absent-minded cadet I know."

Jenny: "How so, dear?"

Miranda: "Why, last night he took the waltz position when we were just
sitting still on the Hotel piazza!"

"For sale: We have on hand a large edition of C.'s 'Art of
Dismounting'; the most complete work of its kind. Also K.'s treatise on
'The Tanbark; as I have found it.'"

So goes the _Howitzer_; and the audience are kindly told that at the
end of the explosion the members of the medical department will pass
in and out among the seats, administering "three pills, three times a
day," to each of the wounded. "Warranted to cure."

I might give sharper-pointed details; but things that pass with the
saying, in an evening frolic, might jar or rasp if written down in cold
black and white. At the time (to their good sense be it spoken), no one
laughs more readily than the sufferers themselves. And in spite of the
local colour, which is confusing to a stranger, the jokes do very much
explain themselves. As when the Irish schoolmaster, counting up his
boys, suddenly demands: "Where, thin, is Tommy L.?" and a make-believe
urchin cries out: "Plase, sor, he's puttin' on the shtamps on that last
letter to Philadelphy!" the shout from the Corps makes it easy to guess
what sort of hands will open the letter.

Now the curtain rises on Flirtation rocks and trees; and a well made-up
damsel passes across the stage and out of sight, followed presently by
a cadet captain, who hurries along in her steps, peering anxiously from
side to side.

"She said she'd walk this way!" he murmurs perplexedly, as he too
disappears.

The steps die out, and a third-class corporal comes on the scene. He
also scans the seats and the bushes as he hastens by.

"Wonder if I'm late?" he questions. "She said she'd walk this way."

Again the silence settles down, broken this time by the less evenly
assured tread of a pleb. "Not long from home, but very far!" is written
all over him. Plainly he is following up a very unwonted gleam of
pleasure.

"She said she'd walk this way!" he exclaims rather breathlessly as he
dives in among the shadows.

The scenes, by the way, are remarkably well painted by those busy
amateur hands, and vary greatly from year to year. "A street in old
Vienna" was especially good; and some of the World's Fair incidents
pertaining thereto, laughable enough.

But look at the clock upon the wall! and remember that this is Saturday
night.

The last joke has shaken the house, the last song died away; the gay
company pours out of the old doors, and the Hundredth Night is over.



XLIV

PRESSING ON

 I work with fury and delight, because I must get on, and I do get
 on.

  --BARON BUNSEN.


Morning by morning now the shortening roll of days makes part of the
cadet breakfast.

"Ninety-nine days to June!"

"Ninety-eight days to June!"

"Ninety-seven days to June!"

And all listen, and every heart takes a lighter bound. Ask any man,
from now on, what is the news, and the odds are that you will get for
answer:

"Ninety-six days to June!"--or forty-six, as the case may be. I had a
note once from a cadet, dated:

"Barracks. Sixty-four days to June!"

But then he forgot to sign his name. That did not matter.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is a strong pull, each man for himself, for the next three months;
a sort of individual "tug of war." I think Magnus had never worked so
hard in all the time he had been at West Point. Perhaps chemistry and
wave motion had something to do with this, for our hero was no genius.
Nothing but honest work carried him on. Higher thoughts than of rank
lit up the musty pages, and made music for the dull company drills.
Truly he was not unmindful of the charms of an engineer post for
Cherry; but several born mathematicians stood between him and any hope
of that. Yet all he _could_ do, he would. The honour of the Christian
name, no less than Cherry's sweet life, was in his trust, to dim or
to brighten; and no man should ever adorn the tale with the name of
Charlemagne Kindred, when saying that religion spoiled men, and should
be left to women and children.

So Magnus had his own secret joy over every high mark. Never had he
enjoyed "maxing it," as he did that winter, and never had he done it so
often.

Some years ago, when the graduating class received their Bibles, and
Dr. Wm. M. Taylor made the presentation address, he bade every man
cull from his morning reading--no matter how brief it was--a sort
of rose-in-the-buttonhole word for the day. Something like that our
young cadet had learned to do. Nothing had hindered his daily reading
since furlough, hard as it seemed to spare the minutes, some days,
when work was unusually pressing. But perhaps that very pressure
taught him to dive right into the meaning of what he read; catch up
a message, and bear it away. Now a promise, now a precept, now a
prayer; a breath of joyous hope, a gleam of unearthly glory. That real
rose-in-the-buttonhole which dress coats and blouses may never wear,
would have drooped in the drill, fainted in the section room, and been
lost in the tan bark. But it seemed to Magnus as if his invisible
blooms grew only fairer as the day went on. The fragrance was royal, as
it came and went in such variety.

"Hopeth all things, endureth all things."--

"Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord."--

"Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto
men."--

"Nevertheless, the Lord stood by me."--

Nobody knew all this; few people read the signs; though they did
note the high marks, and could say that "Kindred" (in his own way)
was the gayest man in barracks. But I fear they deemed him a crank,
all the same. Rig would look up at the clatter caused by "Analytical
Mechanics," as it struck the corner of the room; and then see Magnus
with an odd smile on his face make a rush for the obnoxious volume, and
plunge into it again with all his might. "Studying like mad," as his
easy-going comrade phrased it; but Magnus only called it "heartily."

Or in the section room, with his wits gone a wool gathering, and his
ideas in May-day confusion; every thought he had, tangled up with those
last letters from home; desperately tempted to "bugle it," and let some
other man bear the brunt; then the sweet "royal law" he was wearing
that day gave its counsel, and braced him at once to do the right
thing. He would answer, ready or unready, when his turn came. No man
stumbled or doubted the truth of religion, because of any section-room
meanness or selfishness on the part of Charlemagne Kindred.

And so an unwelcome order, from perhaps a disagreeable man, turned
round in the wind and came first (for him) as the Lord's command. "Obey
them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves." You will
easily guess that Cadet Kindred remained high in discipline.

And later on, first in studies also? No, by no means. Willet's Point
never showed its head on the horizon; the leaders in the class were not
men to be dislodged. And some studies came hard. Then (and now perhaps
it is well I am far away from some of my friends) Cadet Kindred would
have nothing to do with "ponies." Those seductive little frauds looked
just as enticing, maybe, to him as to other men; but common sense and
loyalty made him let them alone.

"Common sense--for what am I here for," he answered Rig one day, "but
to tread the paths of learning? And that does not mean going pony-back."

"You can sort of line out the ground, you know," Rig said; "and then
wear out your shoes all you want to at San Carlos."

San Carlos! What visions came with the name. For a moment Rig's face
showed through a golden haze.

"But besides," Magnus went on, bringing his thoughts back, "it's not
doing things 'heartily.' The Lord gave me this appointment to make just
the most out of it I could. I cannot look up to Him from a 'pony,' and
say I have learned my lesson."

"But the Bible says, He always helps those that help themselves,"
remarked Rig.

"No, it doesn't; not the first word. You have borrowed some man's
'pony' for that. It says 'Fear not, for I will help thee,'--" and
Magnus plunged into his lesson again. The Divine strength that is
trusted in, is a wonderful power; and Cadet Kindred pushed on and
pushed up, every now and then took some other man's scalp, and never
lost his own.

And he found the Sunday rest a great thing. Broken in upon, indeed, by
a guard-mounting and parade; by police calls, inspection, and now and
then guard duty; but between whiles full of quiet time to think.

It was such a pleasure to pile up the study books Saturday night, and
leave the dark mass untouched till Monday morning. It took faith--a
good deal--in some crises of work, but it paid well. The free time was
so good. Not hours snatched unlawfully, but taken of right, according
to that most wise and blessed law of the Lord: "In it thou shalt not do
any work."

In fine weather Magnus kept himself much out of doors, letting the dust
of the week clear all away from eyes and heart and brain, till the
balance of things, so often confused in the weekday rush, swung steady
and true once more.

"I don't see how you do it, Kin," said Randolph one day. "Do you run a
light after taps?"

"Never," said Magnus. "I study all I can Saturday, and as early as I
can Monday morning."

"Always ready for eight o'clock?"

"I will not say the details are always just as clear as they were on
Saturday, but then my head is so much clearer. I get along, somehow."

"Well, I should say you did!" commented Rig. "Maxing it every blessed
day last week."



XLV

NOTHING SERIOUS

    A warrior so bold and a virgin so bright
      Conversed as they sat on the green.
    Alonzo the brave was the name of this knight:
      The damsel, the fair Imogene.

    --LEWIS.


One of the mild amusements of this spring for Magnus was watching Rig.
For Mr. McLean had fallen in love. Not deeply, for that implies certain
other depths--or hopelessly, for there was every likelihood that he
would get out again all safe; but unmanageably. Unutterably, Rig called
it, and Magnus unendurably.

So the young man mooned over photographs, sported (in his room) an
end of pink riband; tumbled his hair all he could, and went down in
everything.

"I say, Rig!" Magnus admonished him one night, "keep out of the
'immortals,' whatever else you do."

"I cannot do much of anything," Rig answered mournfully.

"Well, I'd try, if I died in the effort," said Magnus. "Bone chevrons;
your charmer has a quick eye for them."

"She has a quick eye for everything."

"Wearing bell buttons." But Rig did not heed him.

"Confess, Kin, you never saw such eyes."

"Only about five hundred and forty times, when I used to go
cat-fishing. Ever notice catfish eyes, Rig?"

"They're so blue!" said Cadet McLean. "So deeply, darkly----"

"If you don't shut up," Magnus shouted at him, "I'll try if I can't
shake some sense into you. Quit sighing like a furnace. You nearly blew
the gas out."

"Of course I can't expect you to understand," said Rig. "You live only
in books, far away from all this sort of thing."

"I hope so, this sort," said Magnus.

"You see, my heart is larger than my head," said Mr. McLean. "Always
was."

But now Magnus threw down his book, and pitched into his friend
very literally; pounding him, hustling him, getting him into a real
fisticuff fight to protect himself.

"Feel better, don't you?" said Mr. Kindred, when the two faced each
other, flushed and panting. "Balance of power restored?"

"I don't know how I feel!" said McLean. "I've lost all my ideas."

"Well, don't advertise them at any high figure," said Magnus.

    "Let 'em alone,
      And they will come home,
    With their little tails behind 'em.

"Sit down and study, like a reasonable being. If I were a woman, I
wouldn't _look_ at a man who couldn't hold his head up when my back was
turned."

"It is quite impossible for me to look at a book," said Rig.

"Very good; sit still and sigh, and I'll write your explanation."

"To whom? What about?" Rig sat up now and gazed at him.

"To the Prof. To-morrow. As follows:

"'Sir: I have the honour to state that I have fallen into a six-inch
mud puddle, and cannot get out in time for recitation. So wave motion
must wait.'"

"Stuff!" McLean said rather angrily.

"Stuff, and nothing but stuff. Rig, when you get fired in June, your
dear devoted will not turn her head to see which way you go to take
the train. Not much!" said Magnus, relieving his feelings with a bit
of slang, and then diving into his own problems for the next day. And
Rig could get neither word nor look more that night. But whatever
traditions may say, unlimited chocolate creams do not help a man with
his tactics; nor does plum cake after taps provide him a clear head for
next day's wave motion.

"You could make better marks, Mr. McLean," said the Superintendent one
day, meeting Rig. "Why don't you, sir?"

And if Rig had been openly honest, he would have answered:

"Love--and mince pie, sir."

Magnus scolded his friend, fought him, jeered him; then tried other
measures.

The days were softening and lengthening, with grass and flowers on
the jump. Visitors were arriving in numbers; and for Magnus had come,
from away across the continent, a bunch of snowdrops in Cherry's last
letter. Somehow his own great happiness made the young cadet anxious
for his friend.

"Look here, Trent," he said one day to another classmate, "can't you
pitch in and spoon that Curry girl? Rig will be ruined."

"Spoon her yourself."

"Haven't time. One more will make no difference to you."

"Thanks. Rig will put a bullet in my head, if he suspects."

"Well, your brain always did need fresh air," said Magnus, "so that
will fit. Why, to-day, in the section room, Hammer asked him the colour
of old red sandstone,--and Rig answered:

"'Blue, Lieutenant.'"

"Ha! ha!" laughed Mr. Trent. "But isn't this rather a queer business to
be talked up by our high and mighty magnate of the tender conscience?
The man who keels over at the mere sight of a 'pony.'"

"Pshaw! if it was some girls," said Magnus. "But it will make no
difference to her either. You've both worn your hearts out--supposing
you ever had any."

"Thanks--awfully! And you think Miss Curry might be induced to hand
over 'those fossil remains that she terms her affections' to me?"

"To your temporary care. You wear chevrons," said Magnus. "And your
affections are as fossilised as hers, allowing for the argument's sake
that such things ever existed. Just stroll up on the other side, when
Rig's around. She'll be delighted. And as neither of you could possibly
fall in love with anybody, there'll be nobody hurt."

"Except Rig."

"Rig!" Magnus said impatiently. "Rig ought to be cut in little pieces
and sewed up some other way."

"Kin," said Mr. Trent, striking an easy attitude across the back of a
chair, "you amuse me."

"Well, clear out and amuse yourself," said Magnus. "I've got a previous
with this old book. And if Catkins finds you here, you'll be skinned
for all he is worth."

Which warning Mr. Trent saw fit to heed.



XLVI

TRYING LETTERS

    Though there's always enough to bear,
      There is always something to do;
    We have never to seek for care,
      When we have the world to get through.

    --CHARLES SWAIN.


But whoever succeeded in driving the moth away from the candle? Magnus
was fain to content himself with remembering that on most singed human
moths, wings grow anew very fast.

Miss Curry welcomed Mr. Trent's advances with a gracious smile, but
she by no means let go her hold of Rig; and Rig had perfectly lost
his head. The girl might flout him five times a day, and these cool
applications did but heighten the fever.

From the middle of April on, there was pretty steady "cadet weather."
Whatever the dawn may threaten, it always clears off in time for drill,
except on Saturdays, when the order is reversed, and the rain sets in
with double force just as the hours of freedom begin.

Rain did not hinder some men. Magnus rather enjoyed wrapping himself
in his long grey coat and stalking off into the gloom and the fog.
The hills were so lovely in their misty caps, the air so laden with
spring sweets: spice bush and trillium, black birch and dogwood and
azalia, and all the leaf buds just bursting their varnished sheath. How
fragrant the pines were! and the cedars and hemlocks: how dainty the
small clouds of wayfaring birds just come to spend the night. And in
another month _his_ birds of passage would be here, and the air full of
their voices. Sometimes when Magnus thought of it, the excitement half
made him wild; and he would set off for a sharp run up the hill, or a
one-sided leap-frog among the rocks. Then he would throw himself down
on the moss and hold his head and think. Or he took a squirrel track to
the top of a tall tree and shouted (not too loud) and waved his cap to
the passing trains, and saluted the old flag.

The Point filled up fast with candidates; and as Magnus looked at them,
he did not much wonder at the glances which had once been cast on him.
He found a slight touch of contempt the easiest thing in the world to
creep in. A host of these sombre drones seeking something to do, a
swarm of gay butterflies demanding only honey; what a motley crowd it
made.

Even Magnus was drawn in by the honey-seekers; and took Miss Freak
a walk after trailing arbutus, because she asked him so sweetly;
and indeed himself asked some other girls to go here or there. And,
of course, being a cadet, he said pretty things and made himself
agreeable, though never beyond certain limits (N. B. I do not mean
cadet limits, this time). As Miss Freak said, with her charming
frankness:

"He never gives you anything to think of at night, when you get your
back hair down."

But in spite of that small drawback, Mr. Kindred had his full share of
what Mr. Clinker facetiously termed "drilling the Light Battery."

Some very pleasant and sensible girls came to the Point that spring;
and in the great longing for sweeter tones than those of the average
cadet, Magnus was ready enough to make acquaintance and take walks. And
the girl generally declared: "It has been most delightful." Only when
one gauzy creature looked up at him and said:

"Isn't it strange? You know I've always wanted to live at an army
post--but I'm not engaged yet,"--then Cadet Kindred grew silent, and
as soon as possible resigned in favour of Mr. Clinker.

So the hope-gilded days flew on: but with the end of May came a check.

Magnus got back from a long walk, to find two letters on his table. I
know it is the correct thing for hero and heroine to "tear open" their
letters, but Magnus cut his as carefully as if the very envelope might
hold its quota of words.

"Dear Magnus," so the clear handwriting began, "I am afraid--no, I
suppose I hope--that you will be very sorry. For I cannot go East with
Mrs. Kindred and the girls."

And here, truth compels me to say, Cadet Kindred threw down the letter,
and stamped about the room in a small tempest of displeasure.

"What's up?" queried Rig, who had noted the postmark. "Hasn't gone back
on you, has she?"

For which harmless suggestion, Magnus promptly tumbled the offender out
of his chair, and left him to pick himself up.

"I say! Steady on that, you know," commented Mr. McLean. "Girls are
plenty; but where will you find a friend like me?"

"That was a beastly insinuation!" said Magnus in hot wrath.

"Was it? Girls are all alike, old boy." And Rig heaved a sigh.

"They're not! And this isn't what you mean by a girl. It's a--a----"

"An angel, perhaps," said Rig. "Then allow me to inquire what business
you have to be rattled, with anything an angel sees fit to do."

"Rig," said Magnus seriously, pausing before him, "do you know
whereabouts we are in barracks?"

"Second floor, first div.," Rig answered.

"Well, you can have a chance to measure the breadth of the window, and
the depth to the ground, just as soon as you want it."

"Thanks, I'm sure," said Mr. McLean. "At this moment, I am hard at work
on the problem of your temper, minus your common sense. What does the
letter say?"

"Don't know yet," said Magnus. "I've only read three lines."

Rig looked at him, and then gathering up his own books, he carried them
over to the cold steam pipes, laid them down, and perched himself at
one end.

"You must excuse me," he said; "you are so plainly insane, that a due
regard to my personal safety brings about this temporary coolness.
'Distance lends enchantment'--but you are more irresistible near by."

Magnus flung back into his chair again, with a half groan, and took up
the letter. If it had been release from quarters he would have gone to
Fort Put for the reading.

"Cannot come East!" he muttered to himself. "What's the use of reading
on? She will not--and that's just where it is." And yet he read.

"Papa is not strong this spring; not at all able for the journey; and
I cannot leave him alone. He says 'Go'--but I cannot, Magnus. Not this
year." ("Bless her for that!") Magnus interlined. "But the girls are
to see everything, and remember everything, and tell it all to me; and
maybe when you graduate we can all be there."

"I think I will not write any more to-day, because I cannot talk of
anything but this; and it is not best to say too much. But we are
fighting in the same field, Magnus, even if we are out of sight of each
other, and we get our orders from the same King. How I have thought
over and over, the seeing you at parade! I felt sure I could always
pick you out from all the three hundred. Good-bye.--Your Cherry."

It was well for Magnus that he had little time to brood over his
disappointment. June was near at hand, some few "planks" of the Board
of Visitors already arriving, and some last study to be done.

"You bone straight on through the year," Randolph said to him one day.
"Why, in life, man, don't you let up, now and then?"

"I'm after another bone," Magnus answered him. But he did not say that
when the "standing" roll came to the hand he loved best, her eyes must
find the name of Charlemagne Kindred as high as it could possibly be.

"Just as high as I can put it," he told himself, with a fresh rush at
everything. For faith does not spoil a man, nor holy living mar his
scholarship.

So Magnus studied, and played tennis, and ran races; did exploits on
the poles and ropes, and threw everybody who dared wrestle with him;
won his marks, kept his chevrons, and did not lose his popularity.

But disappointments are said to hunt in couples. The next week after
Cherry's letter of bad news, came one from Mrs. Kindred, with addition
to the same. For she, too, must stay at home.

"Cherry wants my help in every way," wrote the mother. "I must stay
with her. And it is really better, dear, on all accounts. For if I
live till next June, I must go then to see you graduate,--and two such
journeys cost."

Magnus sat back in great gloom, and declared that June was "fizzling
out."

"I suppose the next word will be that Viola and Rose have some sort of
a previous at the North Pole," he said.



XLVII

MRS. CONGRESSMAN

    Pure was her mind and simple her intent,
    Good all she sought and kindness all she meant.

    --CRABBE.


But no such climax followed. The girls wrote that they were to leave
home on such a day, in charge of the wife of that very Congressman who
had given Magnus his appointment. A true woman of the world in some
things, but kindly, and not wanting in sense and tact. People said she
liked uniforms herself, and was glad of a train of girls because it
drew on a train of cadets. But neither thing was so very exceptional
and unheard of that people needed to be hard on her. And she chose her
girls well; always, if she could, some hid-away damsel whose one chance
of getting to the Point this might be. And now, when the boy owed his
place to her husband's good offices, it was her delight to take his
sisters. The one stipulation was that she should have her own way about
the bills.

"I must have a clear mind," she said, "and stop when I choose, and
where I choose, or the trip won't be a speck of good. It's nobody's
business how I manage my affairs, and you chits needn't strike in to be
the first."

So in this lady's ample care Rose and Violet made the long journey,
and enjoyed every scrap of it. The meals in the dining car, and (I'm
afraid) the bunks in the so-called sleeper; even the small delays, for
then they could look out to better advantage; and Mrs. Congressman
voted them the two best girls she had ever taken anywhere. "Always
ready for breakfast," she said, "and always willing to wait. It was as
good as music to hear them laugh when we had to switch off on the side
track, or when folks jammed past them to dinner; it sweetened the whole
car; curled everybody's feathers...."

It was true, and I think would have been, even on a journey not into
"Fairyland," though of course that helped. But the two were very quiet
in their eager looking; the laugh and the exclamation were low-toned
and well-bred. They asked sensible questions, and not too many even
of them. Only when they got talking of Magnus, then indeed, the
words came, with such sparkles and dimples and exultation, that Mrs.
Congressman began to think her husband had done a bright thing for the
country, when he gave that young soldier his place. But no one else in
the car found out that they had a brother at West Point, and were on
their way to see him; nor that their escort was the wife of an Hon. M.
C.; such cheap fame our two girls had not learned to seek.

And thus it was a delightful little party that after some hours of
rest, and a late breakfast, bestowed themselves in a palace car of the
11.30 train, and went swaying and swinging up the river.

People may say they have seen the Hudson, but never before as it is
to-day, or as it will be to-morrow. The tide, the wind, the time of
year, the temperature, the magnetic conditions, join hands in an
endless chain of new effects. With a blue sky it is one thing, and will
change its complexion on the instant, with the shadow of a passing
cloud. To-day, in a frolic of white caps racing down before the north
wind, and to-morrow rolling up in dull leaden surges, with a southern
Banshee at its back. Now lapping the shore with sweetest whispers, now
decked with a fringe of winter ice. Then frozen over from shore to
shore, fitting in among the hills like an accurately cut sheet of white
paper. But living, even then, with mysterious cracks and reports, with
little plashes, where the tide breaks out along the edge.

It was May yet, with the lilac storm just past, and the river in full
flood, tossed and heaving from the strain of the east wind. The green
of the hills--the endless shades of the young leafage--seemed almost
to change while you looked. The girls grew too breathless to talk even
about Magnus, and to the hackneyed eyes of Mrs. Congressman, there was
positive refreshment in the way those two arm-chairs whirled on their
pivots, for last glimpses and new effects.

"My dear girls, I wish my neck had the untirable quality of yours," she
said.

"Tired--how could one be tired?" said Violet. "Oh, Rose! just see that
vessel with her sails swung out each side. That must be what Cooper
means by 'wing and wing.'"

"Yes, the wind is stirring up," said Mrs. Congressman; "I'm sure I wish
it would;" and she plied her fan.

"Let me fan you!" Rose cried, turning her chair away from the
entrancing view.

"No, no! Look out and see all you can. I may be an old goose, but I
know a little."

"You are just as kind as you can be, Mrs. Ironwood," said Rose
gratefully.

"But allow me to remark, young ladies," said their friend, looking
amused, "that at West Point there are also some things, and people,
to look at. So don't get your necks stiff. You must not gaze in one
direction all the time, there."

"Yes, ma'am. O, Violet, did you hear? The next stop is Garrisons!" And
the two girls took hold of hands, as if to keep each other still.

"Yes, we're fairly in the Highlands now," said Mrs. Congressman, tying
her bonnet strings. "Well, children, I'm glad you're so happy, and
it's a real pleasure to have you along. Some girls are just a nuisance
at West Point."

"Oh, I hope we shall not be a nuisance," Violet said, but looking out
all the while.

"I'm afraid we shall make a great many mistakes," said Rose, studying
the rocky green Dunderberg with her heart in her eyes. "You know we
have just lived at home. Couldn't you tell us now, before we get there,
how to do?"

"Bridges for rivers you'll not have to cross," quoth Mrs. Congressman,
who had imbibed a little of her husband's manner, which now and then
came out. "No use, child; you never do what you think you will. The
chief thing at West Point, as everywhere, is to be a lady as much as a
girl, and that you both are, always."

"Oh, thank you, ma'am!" Rose said warmly.

"There is one other thing," Mrs. Congressman went on, "that I might
just remark. No manner of use, but it'll not do any harm. It is only,
girls, that you must never believe anything cadets tell you."

This brought both chairs round on a sharp pirouette.

"Not anything!"

"But, you do not mean Magnus."

"Oh, Magnus is all the knights of the round table rolled into one; of
course he takes in truth among his smaller virtues. The rest do not."

"Why, I thought Magnus said truth was one of the very first things
there!" said Rose.

"Official truth. No cadet is allowed to fib officially. So they take it
out socially."

The speaker kept a perfectly grave face, and the two girls looked
aghast, felt so, all through the tunnel. But as they ran out in sight
of Fort Montgomery and the tall outlines that rose up beyond, cadets
(except Magnus) sunk down into very sublunary things.

"Oh, well, Magnus isn't so," Rose said contentedly.

"And we are not likely to see much of other cadets," Violet said,
pressing close to her window.

Mrs. Congressman watched them for a minute; the graceful heads, the
fair, well-bred faces; but then she seemed to find something very
amusing out of her own window, for she smiled to herself till they
reached Garrisons. There might be several cadets, she thought, who
would have a word to say to that statement.

If Magnus had scanned the way over and up, because there was nobody
there, for him, with what a difference the two young sisters watched
every point where possibly he might be. Silently they followed their
leader into the old omnibus, and noted every stone, stick, and leaf,
that decked the road up the hill.

Passing the Mess Hall came a new sensation; for the day was so warm
that windows and doors stood wide open, and there was not only the
usual tumult of voices, but also a tangle of heads, arms, and grey
cloth in view from the omnibus.

"The boys are at dinner," said Mrs. Ironwood.

"Oh, and is Magnus there, too?" cried the girls.

"Unless he's in the hospital."

"In the hospital!"

"He ought to be, if he's not eating his dinner. Might have sprained
his ankle, dismounting too fast. Might have swallowed too much of Miss
Somebody's cake."

But both these ideas were summarily dismissed.

"He is in there, of course," Rose said, her eyes full, and her heart
wafting a blessing to the unseen brother; and with one consent the
girls kissed their hands to the old grey building.

"Now, children," said Mrs. Congressman as they jolted on, "I must tell
you one thing. This is all very well, tucked away in the 'bus with
me; but never do you kiss hands to anybody at West Point, under other
circumstances. There are always cadets lurking round in the bushes,
and they'll think you mean _them_."

How the girls laughed! Whether because they had just been so near
Magnus, or at this image of an ambush of other cadets, or the faint
spice of danger in the air, or the general culmination; but even the
quiet Rose came down from her dignity, and the omnibus rattled up to
the hotel with a chorus of fun inside.

The needs of life are helpful and calming. Washing the dust off quiets
one down, and prosaic dinner brings back one's sober senses. It was an
extremely demure pair of girls that followed Mrs. Congressman into the
dining-room, and gave earnest heed while she ordered dinner, surveyed
the guests, scolded the waiter, and praised the soup.

"You must eat, girls," she said. "Build yourselves up for what's before
you. I suppose this is the last quiet minute we shall have to ourselves
till we go away."

"What is to happen to us?" said Violet merrily.

"Walks," said Mrs. Ironwood. "And talks. And stands. I hope you've both
brought plenty of shoes."

"I noticed the stones, as we came along," said Rose.

"Stones! It's the soft going that tells on the shoes, child. I brought
Mary Gates here one rainy spring, and she finished her overshoes in a
week, and I had to send her home."

"In a week! Did she dance instead of walking?"

"Danced attendance," said Mrs. Congressman. "I didn't mean to pun,
girls, but that was the fact. Now I should take you straight off to the
guard-house to see Magnus----"

"The guard-house?"

"The visitors' room, there, silly! but work begins at two o'clock, and
we shouldn't find him. So I'll go and get a snooze, and you'd best do
the same."

"We could not possibly sleep," said Violet. "We'll sit out on the
piazza and look."

"It's a fine view, whichever way," said Mrs. Ironwood; "but the Land
of Nod is more to my mind just now. Sit out here, then, or do what you
like, only don't go off hotel limits. There's no town crier here. And
call me at a quarter past three. And girls"--she put her head inside
the door again--"whatever you do, don't go down and stand at the hotel
fence."

The girls listened to the retreating footsteps, but then they looked at
each other and laughed.

"West Point must be an odd place," said Rose.

"And she is the oddest woman! What ails the hotel fence, any more than
all other fences?" said Violet. "It looks pretty strong."

However, they obeyed orders, and wandering about a little, as all doors
stood open, came presently out upon the north piazza and the north
view.



XLVIII

THE GUARD-HOUSE IN JUNE

    The little birds sang as if it were
    The one day of summer in all the year.

    --LOWELL.


I do not know when Mrs. Congressman would have been roused from her
nap, if the clock on the old tower had not told its tale of the passage
of time. But when three sonorous notes had sounded, after that the
girls kept close watch, for soon Magnus would be but a half hour away.

They passed round to the west side, and sat watching the hills and the
plain and the clock, by turns; and it wanted two minutes of the quarter
when they went in. And Mrs. Ironwood was prompt. She waked up at once,
donned a fresh gown and an astonishing bonnet; looked her girls over
critically, to make sure their simple preparations had come out all
right, then sailed away down the steps and across the plain, with her
pretty convoy close following.

Late spring everywhere, blue sky and hot sun; a ravishing green carpet,
and just a stir of such air as breathes nowhere but in the Highlands.
Gaily dressed women spotted the green, dark-blue officers came and
went; the bugler at the sallyport handled and toned his bugle.

Straight through the sallyport the Western dame led her two girls,
passing grey coats on the way across the area, and meeting others
at the guard-house; nodding to one, hailing another, but giving
no introductions; until after making known her wishes to the
magnificent officer of the day, she turned to her girls, and presented
Cadet-Captain Trueman. Then panted up the narrow staircase to the
visitors' room, which was hot, and not magnificent.

[Illustration: PARADE REST IN CAMP]

Mrs. Ironwood and her fan at once absorbed the window, the two girls
stood shyly behind her; and back and forth before their eyes went the
slim grey figures in the area. Some who knew Mrs. Ironwood and doffed
their caps to her gave just a swift second glance at the two new faces.
For a cadet never stares, or does it so surreptitiously from under his
visor that nobody knows.

But the minutes seemed long. Mrs. Ironwood's fan plied back and forth,
the girls stood watching.

"What makes them all look just alike?" said Violet. "I should say that
man has been across six times already." Mrs. Ironwood laughed.

"Maybe he has," she said. "You'll bring the chaos to order in a day or
two. Look very monotonous, don't they? I suppose you'll not even know
Magnus when he comes."

But a little cry from both the girls answered that. Another grey figure
came hurrying across the open space, swung his cap high in air beneath
the window, and came tearing up the stairs.

After the first words, Mrs. Ironwood went back to her seat, and left
them to themselves, interviewing at more length some of her friends
below; but then she made a move.

"We must get out of here," she said. "There come more bonnets, and
there'll be more cadets, and we shan't have standing room."

"When the bugle blows," said Magnus. "I can't leave here till four
o'clock. But it's close on that now."

"And then we can have you all the rest of the afternoon," said Violet.

"No, little peach blossom, you cannot. There's a review on hand. I'll
take you down to the seats. There it goes--" And the sweet four o'clock
call rang out in front of barracks, repeated then at different points,
and answered by soft echoes from the hill.

The little party made their way out, and down among the old trees by
the officers' row, where already the seats were filling up. But Magnus
found them a good place, and himself stood in front; mounting guard
over his treasures with a joy and pride it was pleasant to see. He
quite ignored the suggestive looks that came from other men in grey.
Just now, he wanted his sisters all to himself. And the way they gazed
at him could not be told.

To see how he knew by instinct when an officer came by; instantly
whirling around to salute, to note how very often that cap came off to
some embodiment of fashion and finery, was a great study. For Magnus
was on tiptoe, and put in all the flourishes the law allowed. Only at
the sound of the first drum did his exalted state come down.

"That drummer ought to be hung at the sallyport," he said.

"But it is all so pretty," said Rose. "And so in keeping, Magnus."

"You do not know drums," he said. "That call means: 'Charlemagne
Kindred--and every other cadet out for a breath of fresh air--walk
straight off to barracks.'"

"Does it?" said Violet. "Then why don't you go? We'll walk over with
you."

"Sit still! Why don't I go?" and Mr. Kindred gave fresh utterance to
his disdain.

"Now it sounds again," said Rose. "Is that a second invitation to
'walk'?"

"No; this one says: 'Magnus Kindred--and every other man who is
enjoying himself--run!'"

"O, then, do go, dear!" pleaded the girls. "O, Magnus! _do_ not be
late. See, those men are running."

But Magnus gave no sort of heed. He bowed to Miss Newcomb, looked
after the speeding grey coats, and remarked calmly:

"Let them run. They want practice." But when the next call sounded,
Magnus turned.

"That spells," he said: "'Magnus Kindred--and every other poor fellow
who doesn't mean to be skinned--scamper!'" and scamper he certainly
did. The two girls watched him, breathless and anxious.

"There are three ladies right in his way," said Violet. "Oh, I hope
they'll not stop him!"

But no, indeed; a cadet dodging a "late" is not so easily stopped.
Magnus knew them, took off his cap to them, spoke some words of
greeting, but never stayed his pace; and his sisters had the pleasure
of seeing him dive in through the sallyport before the drum said
another word. Then they looked at each other and laughed.

"Such a boy!" said Rose.

"But how he did run," said Violet. Then they both were silent with
intensest interest. For the old grey barracks presently took to itself
the well-known likeness of a beehive in swarming time, and ignorant
eyes could as little tell what was going on as the uninitiated can
guess that the bees are searching for their queen. Hanging round the
doorways, clustering in front, with new forms all the time pouring out,
until, like the tin pan of the farmer's wife, that mysterious drum
brought order, and they settled down in a long, long line upon the
sidewalk.

Just at this point, with all the dangerous element in safe bonds, Mrs.
Ironwood left her girls for a while and went for a chat on one of the
hospitable porches behind her. Several other people also moved away,
for a walk or a talk; and the vacant seats were taken by a handful of
girls just come on the ground, and who, noting the new faces, were now
in the keen pursuit of knowledge.

At first, however, they seemed more eager to give it, talking fast and
loud, and sometimes across the two young strangers who were watching
every movement on the plain. But when the march down from barracks
ended in another motionless line upon the green, and each girl began to
pick out her friends and favourites, despite the confusing chin-straps,
then it was impossible not to listen.

"Look at Mr. True," said one; "he's a mere mathematical line."

"He'd be adorable, if he wasn't such a poke," said another.

"I'd give more to see that man brought to terms!"

"What terms?"

"Unconditional surrender. Down on his knees."

"Mr. Randolph is just behind him," said the first. "And Mr. Crane is
fourth from the end in B Company."

"Which is Mr. Kindred?" said Rose, turning to her.

"Second man with the cross-belt. Do you know him?" said the young lady,
much surprised.

"I have met him several times."

"Well, anybody who knows Magnus Kindred after meeting him 'several
times,' may go up head," said Miss Saucy.

"Is he a poke, too?" asked Violet, with a grave face.

"No, he's too wicked for that," said Miss Cray.

"Wicked?" said little Miss Wren. "Why, he's one in discipline all the
time."

"Well, he'd better be two, and have a few grains of civility," said
Miss Cray. "Absolutely he left me all standing in the middle of the
plain yesterday, just because that ridiculous drum chose to beat!"

"But that was a very good way to be left," said Rose merrily. "Perhaps
if you had been all falling, he would have stayed."

"Fine idea to work up!" said another girl, laughing, but Miss Cray
tossed her head.

"Nobody cared, either way," she said. "How do _you_ know what 'perhaps'
he would have done?"

"Why, we are both his sisters," said Violet. And for once in her life
Miss Cray was taken aback.

"Fancy it!" she said. "Where are you staying?"

"At the hotel."

"We are at Cranston's. Who is your chaperon?"

"Mrs. Ironwood."

Which was better care than Miss Cray herself could boast, and so the
force of circumstances dealt another blow.

"Well, don't serve me out too large a slice of humble pie," she said.
"I'm awfully fond of Mr. Kindred, myself. The trouble is, he's not so
awfully fond of me. And wounded hearts, you know!"

"If Mr. McLean were here, he'd say: 'Steady!'" remarked Miss Wren. "Do
you know Mr. McLean, too?" she said, turning to Violet.

"Yes."

"Met _him_ 'several times'?"

"Yes."

"But you must come from the West?"

"There are quite a number of people out there," said Violet.

"And one can visit, even on a prairie," said Miss Cray politely. "But
it seems so odd."

Perhaps for a freer discussion of the oddity of things, that party
moved away, and Mrs. Ironwood came back to her charge. But social
duties still claimed her to such a degree that she hardly looked at the
review, and not at all at the girls, for a good while. Then in some
moment of silence, a soft, long-drawn breath made her turn her head.

The cadets were just passing, double-timing round the square, and the
good lady saw that her two girls had hold of hands, and that the eyes
of both were full. What about? Only for one particular dress coat with
a white cross-belt, one particular pair of shoes that darted past; the
owner whereof was so far from feeling himself a hero that he was just
pronouncing under breath the whole review a mean contrivance to keep
men out in the sun. Ah, young brothers! have you any faint vision of
what your sisters see in you?

"Pull up your wraps, girls," said Mrs. Congressman. "It turns cool
here, the minute the sun drops behind the hill. And I suppose wild
horses wouldn't get you away before parade. Well, they'll have dealings
with that man."

The end of the battalion was just passing, one single cadet officer
bringing up the rear; and this man's sash had come untied. And as he
darted on, one long red streamer trailed gracefully behind him; too
heavy to float, unless with more wind astir.

The girls were in fits of merriment; only our two girls looked grave.

"Just think!" whispered Rose; "it might have been Magnus."

"But why doesn't he stop and tie it up?" said Violet.

"Stop and tie it up?" said Mrs. Congressman, who caught the words.
"Why, if his head was off, he couldn't stop to put it on. Not in a
review."

Between review and parade there was a charming bit of free time when
Magnus came down to see his sisters. Miss Cray and her party took for
granted he was coming also to see them, and there was some bridling and
handling of sugar-plum boxes. And it was quite a shock, when Magnus,
after bowing to them, turned away, and found himself a seat between
"those two Western girls," whom he could see any time.

Sweet brief minutes; I wonder if unlimited free hours can ever have
the subtle charm that used to hang over the now-and-then release from
quarters?

Mr. Starr came up to claim acquaintance, and presently coaxed Rose
away to introduce her to the sidewalk, as he said; Cadet-Captain
Trueman appeared, preferring the same claim, though of so much later
date. And Miss Cray looked on.

As for my two girls, they were more than content; Violet finding the
grave, dark-browed Mr. True a very interesting person indeed; and Rose
so taken up with Mr. Starr's sallies of fun and comment, that she
missed all the admiring glances bestowed upon her own sweet eyes and
laughing mouth. The first drum came all too soon.

Starr went on to just the point where they had turned before, came
slowly back and led Rose to her seat; then standing before her and
going on with his talk. And Miss Cray listened.

"Mr. Trueman," she said presently, putting in her word, "we had a wager
about you last night."

"About me? That certainly speaks you all ladies of much leisure."

"Now, don't begin to preach," said Miss Freak. "Be good for once, and
tell us."

"And what, if you please?"

"The point was this," said Miss Saucy. "Kate said that before you will
go down on your knees to a woman, you must have a cushion a mile high.
The rest of us thought that perhaps a yard might do."

"Pardon me!" said Mr. Trueman, with some energy; "if ever I kneel to a
woman, I shall want no cushion!"

And the tall cadet captain bowed gravely to Violet, touched his cap to
the others, and walked away.

A quick clearance of grey coats from about the seats followed. Over by
the innocent-looking reveille gun stood two soldiers in blue, at the
foot of the flagstaff were two more. The flag showed off its beauties,
lifting, falling, floating away in circling folds upon the fitful
air; then drooping, a mere line of colour against the staff. Then
came a series of wild yells from the front of barracks, answering the
roll-call, and then parade.

In spite of the dignitaries who generally "assist" at a review, adding
all that position or plumage can give, they never get off anything at
West Point that is quite so good as an old-time dress parade. I use my
adjective wittingly, for--no disrespect to the new tactics, they hurt
the effect. To-night everything was perfect, even the music. The band
struck up "Money Musk," or some other time-honoured quick-step, known
in those happy days before "Boulanger" was heard of; the grey files
came down the green in absolute order, and drew up in a long, unbroken,
glancing line, before the seats.

The hills across the river were in a glory of sunshine, the higher
heads that sentinel the north entrance to the Highlands showed sunlight
and shadow, too. The river went silently along, you could just hear the
paddles of the _Mary Powell_, as she speeded round Gee's Point on her
northward course. All this, while the adjutant dressed the line, and
brought it to parade rest.

"Sound off!"

It matters little what they played then, for as the drum major raised
his baton and struck his attitude, and the throng of bandsmen went
nimbly after him, our two Western girls were absolutely and wholly
bewitched. To see the black plumes slanting off as one before the
breeze, with the stir of a red sash here and there, and the glinting of
breast-plates and bayonets and bell buttons in that long moveless line.
Then to behold the band of musicians getting tangled up in a maze at
the turn, but coming out all right, and playing for dear life through
it all,--they were so wrapped and lost, no wonder the gun made them
jump.

Then the wonder of the manual, to unwonted eyes; the comical
different voices in which the sergeants reported, with hand on heart
(supposedly), and the amused guesses as to how in Company D there
should be two privates absent and unaccounted for. Even the jumble of
the orders was delightful.

"Headquarters Military Academy, West Point, N. Y., May 10, 18--" so
much was generally plain. As also "Special Order. No. forty three-e-e!"
But whether it gave Cadet Nameless leave of absence for two weeks, or
said he was to be shot in two days, only the nature of the case made
clear. To their ears, it might as well have been the one as the other.

The reading ends, the adjutant tucks the folded paper into the breast
of his dress coat, comes neatly round on one heel, and waves his sword
to the officer in charge.

"Sir, the orders are published."

"Dismiss the parade, sir!"

Another skilful pirouette, and the adjutant faces the line and sheathes
his sword.

"Parade dismissed!"

The swords of all the cadet officers rattle down into the scabbard, the
adjutant steps loftily back to his old place by the line.

"Forward! Guide centre! March!"

And with another gay burst of music, the cadet officers come forward,
salute the officer in charge, and disperse (in these days draw up
behind him); the long, grey line breaks into companies, the music
changes its measure, and away they all go to barracks, to the sweet
strains of "Pop Goes the Weasel!" Every right arm swings just so, every
black shoe sole displays its regulation state, in most regulation
order. But how many furtive blessings brushed the head of Cadet Kindred
as he went by, that obtuse young fellow never guessed.

Tea at the hotel, after all this, was prosaic enough, but doubtless the
most soaring bird comes down to rest, and finds the lower lands quite
bearable, with further flight in prospect. So the two girls relished
their bread and butter and strawberries with no alloy, for was not
Magnus coming after supper for a walk? Magnus, and perhaps two more.

"Everything is so unusual," Rose said; "it makes one feel quite
distinguished. Think of walking 'till call to quarters!"

"Yes, think of it," said Mrs. Congressman, carefully creaming her black
tea. "Then you've been in the cars night and day since Monday. You must
excuse me, young ladies. I know girls are untirable where cadets are
concerned, but I am too old a bird for that sort of chaff, and I am
going straight to my bed, as soon as I see you off. With your brother
along, you'll not need me."

"May we sit on the piazza after we come back? Or must we go to bed,
too?" asked Violet.

"Sit there? Yes. Must you go to bed? No. Sit there and gaze at the
barracks till shutting up time comes, and then go upstairs and carry it
on from your window. You're not obliged to go to bed at all, while you
are at West Point. Who's coming to-night?"

"Magnus, of course, and Mr. Trueman. And Mr. McLean said he would, if
he could."

"Three for two girls; you begin well. There, they are coming out, and
you can go stand at the fence, and I can go to my bed."

"Why should we stand at the fence?"

"'Mahomet and the mountain,'" said Mrs. Congressman. "Bell buttons
cannot come any nearer, without a special permit."

"But I do not like that," said Violet, drawing back. "You know you bade
us not. It looks as if we were waiting for somebody."

"Silly girl! That is just what you are doing: now isn't then. Come,
I'll see you safe to the fence."

So under that broad, protecting shadow the girls went down the walk;
shy, and glad, and expectant, and just a trifle afraid; for were there
not _four_ dark figures coming rapidly across the plain? It was all so
strange and entrancing; the straight shadows, the measured step.

"Ah, here you are!" cried Magnus. "Good-evening, Mrs. Ironwood."

"How d'ye do again," said that lady. "How d'ye do, Mr. Trueman, and Mr.
McLean--and, as I'm alive!--Mr. Bouché! I suppose two of you have come
for me. I'm so broad, you think one wouldn't hear what the other was
saying, and you could both fool me to your heart's content."

There was a laugh and a protest (very honest, so far as the coming for
_her_ was concerned), and then the young people turned away, and Mrs.
Congressman went to her much coveted repose.

"She fulfils her destiny," said Mr. Bouché, as he placed himself by
Rose. "The only possible use of a chaperon is to go to sleep."



XLIX

FLIRTATION AND OTHER PLACES

    When feelings were young, and the world was new.

    --PRINGLE.


There is no need to describe that walk, nor the many that followed it.
Anybody who has been a girl--or had care of a girl--at West Point,
knows without telling; though doubtless the walks vary according to
the girl. But hither and thither, then as now, went Peace and War, in
endless new combinations. Down among the grey rocks and green mosses of
Flirtation, where the tide flowed by as softly as the minutes, and all
the pretty whispers sounded true. Or up on the old fort; green enough
once, but in these days pathetic as well as lovely in its helpless
decline, and where much history might have been talked, and was not.
Kosciusko's garden, Fort Clinton, even the Officer's Row--what tales
they might tell, and are silent.

I must do Mrs. Ironwood the justice to say, that she did not fulfil
her destiny after that night, so far as it involved going to sleep
when she should be on duty. And she did the duty well, as befits long
habit. Always accidentally on hand; keen-eyed, though taking no notice;
interfering when she must, in a way that was wholly pleasant--and
unmanageable. The two girls, so unlearned in the world, could not have
had a more wisely careful friend. Violet never guessed how it was that
she was generally free to walk with Mr. Trueman, nor why Mr. Clinker
always fell to the lot of Mrs. Ironwood herself. "She must be very fond
of him," thought the girls. And Magnus was careful, too, in a way, and
would by no means present everybody he knew to his two young sisters.

So within that twofold invisible fence Violet and Rose moved joyously
on, and had--as they wrote home--"the very loveliest time that girls
could."

And it became plain to lynx-eyed Mrs. Congressman, that Magnus soon
ceased to be the only grey figure on the horizon. His walks with other
girls were borne meekly; and the days when he was on guard called forth
less lamentation. In short (in the prettiest sort of way) the cadet
fever had claimed our two young Westerners. As how should it not, when
they were in such demand? Men did not stand round them to see "what
those girls would do next," the poorest sort of a compliment; but came
for the real liking and appreciation of the fair womanliness, of which
even faulty men have an idea--or an ideal. Then fresh common sense is
very pleasant when you find it; and if Rose was thought too sensible by
some--or too sedate, Violet was as full of fun and frolic as any young,
unspoiled nature ought to be; so they set each other off. But the fun
was not pointed with slang, nor did the frolic show out in shrieks of
laughter, or in familiar ways. It never occurred to either of them
that it was witty to say "Get out!" or ladylike to beg for buttons and
buckles. Or interesting, to give a kiss to some man who was unmannerly
enough to ask it. But nobody dared that of them.

Mrs. Ironwood's "sleepy" eyes saw all these things; saw also,
by degrees, some others. She could tell, to a time, how often
Cadet-Captain Trueman had walked with Violet, as also that Violet
seemed quite unconscious that he came oftener than other men.

"Great pity!" said Mrs. Ironwood in her heart, waving her fan there
on the hotel piazza. "He's the best fellow living--and she's the girl
of girls for him. But she hasn't a sou--and _he_ hasn't; it would
never do. I did try to keep Rose in the way--but my! he'd get round a
standing army. Study, drills, examination, don't head him off one bit.
A fine piece of three weeks' work! And in ten days more he graduates,
and there's an end."

And just at that very time, this is what was going on among the
casemates at Fort Putnam.

"Do you think you could live on a second lieutenant's pay?" Trueman was
saying. "It is not much, you know--but then at first we should probably
be stationed at some small one-company post, where it would not be
needful to make a show."

"I have never lived where it was needful, or possible, to make a show,"
said Violet, with a bit of a laugh at the idea of being "stationed"
anywhere. "But you know I have had no chance to think of anything yet."

"Yes, of course," said Trueman; "it's all very sudden to you. But
the first minute I saw you I knew I had met my fate, and I have done
nothing but think, ever since. Thinking out the fairest story that ever
came into any man's heart. And I am going so soon. Write home to-night,
will you, Miss Violet, and get _leave_ to promise?"

And then with the sound of coming footsteps, the two drew apart a
little, and walked decorously down the hill; Trueman screening himself
carefully with Violet's blue parasol from the sun without, and she
conscious only of a strange new sunlight within.

Rose, meanwhile, was having a different sort of talk with Mr. Bouché;
an American, despite his French name.

He was a handsome fellow, stood well up in his class, and was
proficient in more than West Point learning; but as much adrift as any
unpiloted boat in all matters of faith, and some of practice. Why he
sought out Rose Kindred (as he had done persistently from the day she
came) it would be hard to tell, unless from that peculiar masculine
contrariness which, as Mrs. Ironwood phrased it, "makes Arctic men
always swear by the South Pole."

It was Mr. Bouché's special delight to get Rose away from everyone
else, find her a splendid seat in some leafy nook, throw himself down
on the grass where he must needs look up and so could properly gaze
into her face, and then draw her into an argument. I do not know that
Rose was more wedded to her opinions than other women, but she knew
what she believed, which they do not all. And when the point was of
importance she could fight, and fight well; zeal and love of the truth
holding their own fearlessly against more polished weapons. Even as did
the old "Queen's Arm" in the hand of one of her ancestors at Concord.

On this particular afternoon, every place seemed taken. Gee's Point, of
course, but also the seat by the river edge, and the almost unscalable
rocks, and the grey stones that lie about the way to Battery Knox.

"Never mind," Rose said. "I am not tired. I would just as leave walk."

"Tired! You? No," said Mr. Bouché; "you are the most rested creature
that ever lived. But I am a lazy fellow, and I want a comfortable
place, where you can lecture me."

"Upon your laziness?"

"Upon what you will. I need it all round."

"There will not be time for an all-round lecture before parade."

"Bother parade!" said Mr. Bouché. "Why need you remind a fellow of
parade, just when he's happy? Here--come this way. Now we can dive
through these bushes--look out for your dress, Miss Rose!--and we can
sit on the rock and be out of the way of all the spoons. And Catkins
himself couldn't find us."

Laughing at him, guarding her dress, following through the tangle
like a true fresh-air girl, Rose presently forgot everything in the
loveliness that was all about. Behind them, trees and bushes were both
shade and screen; but in front there was only rock, river, and hill.
The grey ledge on which they stood took a sudden dip almost at their
feet, and went down, down, sheer and smooth, with little to break the
line till it ended in a low fringe of riverside bushes. And the stream
itself, curling rapidly round Gee's Point, went in full flow through
the broadening channel towards Anthony's Nose and the "Race." One or two
sailing vessels beat up against the breeze; from under the fringe of
bushes came the measured dip of oars. The east-side hills, with their
wavy outline, caught the full glory of the sinking sun.

"Oh, how beautiful!" Rose cried.

"Yes!" said Mr. Bouché, who had been eyeing the girl much as she
studied the landscape; "just what I was thinking."

"It is like nothing I ever saw anywhere else," said Rose.

"Nor I," assented her companion.

"You see, I have never been just here before," said Rose, turning at
the somewhat peculiar tone of voice. "Have you?"

"I am not sure--that I have," said Mr. Bouché, considering with himself
whether certain sensations in the region of his heart could possibly
(in a cadet of such wide experience) mean something new. "It rather
seems to me not. What are you going to lecture me about, Miss Rose?"

"Nothing."

"Oh, yes, you are!" cried Bouché, rousing up. "That's not fair. It is
in the bond that you are to lecture."

"Who signed the bond?"

"I--for self and partner," said Bouché audaciously.

"'Himself and he,'" said Rose, quoting Cowper.

[Illustration: FLIRTATION]

"Now, that is truly unkind," said Mr. Bouché, with an injured air; "and
therefore not like you, Miss Rose. And people should always speak in
character. I am surprised at you. Do you believe that I never think of
anybody but myself?"

"Oh, I suppose when you are speaking to me, you must be thinking of me
a little," said Rose, a faint tinge coming into her cheeks as she made
the admission. "Look at that eagle flying across the river."

"Let him fly--" said Bouché. "You really suppose I think of you 'a
little,' then? When it's week days and Sundays, Saturdays and common
days. When the reveille gun has grown sweet to my ear, because----"

"Now hush!" Rose interrupted him. "That is a good place to stop.
Nothing ever yet made the reveille gun sound sweet to a cadet."

"Other cadets."

"Well, you are just another cadet," said Rose.

Bouché burst into a laugh, in spite of his efforts to look tragic.

"There," he said; "she's making fun of me. It's all up. I am only 'just
another cadet.' One more in her train. Only so many additional bell
buttons, and a pair of chevrons thrown in."

"Who is the professor of nonsense here?" Rose demanded. "I never saw
such proficients as you cadets are, in all my life. Have you had forty
pages to learn? and are you trying them off on me? Very well recited,
Mr. Bouché."

"It isn't at all. You are getting off grinds on me the whole time, and
that's not fair. I should think conscientious scruples would hinder
you."

"Conscientious scruples?"

"Yes," said Bouché. "The way you throw away opportunities tries even my
conscience. You see, Miss Rose, _I_ never had folks to stand round me
and keep me straight. I've been a Topsy boy, all my life."

"Topsy-turvy?" suggested Rose.

Bouché drew a deep sigh.

"There it goes again," he said; "I shall have to take it, I suppose.
But I guess it's true. And now, when somebody has a chance to set me
right, she don't do it."

"What could she do?" Rose asked, seriously now.

"For one thing, she could take a long, long walk with me on Sunday.
Keep me out of mischief the whole afternoon."

"You mistake, Mr. Bouché," said Rose, turning her clear, grave eyes
upon him. "Getting into mischief one's self, never helps anybody else
out."

"How would you get in?" Bouché said eagerly. "I'd max it on care of
you."

"Ah, yes, I do not doubt. But--I was not brought up so," Rose said,
hesitating over her words. "At home, Sunday is such a special,
set-apart, happy day. We never take it for common things."

"It would be a very special and happy day for me, if you would take the
walk," said Bouché. "Of course _you_ would count it 'common' doings to
go with me, any day."

"It is not fair to twist my words," said Rose, looking troubled.

"Then if it would be _un_common, you can go. You are throwing down
opportunities, Miss Rose. I'll take you to some remote, far-wilderness
corner, and you shall preach to me till the drum beats. I'm as meek as
skim-milk on Sunday. Why, if you only tell me to take my cap and go to
chapel, I shall do it."

"But you have to do that."

"You'd better believe I wouldn't be there else," said Bouché. "But I'll
listen to you a quarter longer than we give the chaplain."

"I do not think you will--for I shall not speak, on Sunday," said Rose.

"Not speak! Turning into 'a sweet, silent Carthusian,' and thinking up
hard things to say to me on Monday."

Rose did not at once answer.

"Mr. Bouché," she said, "I think you make a great mistake about the
chapel."

"It's the biggest-sized mistake to make me go there."

"But if you went willingly, you would forget all about being made to
go," said Rose.

How Bouché laughed! Rose coloured a little, but stood her ground.

"I mean," she said, "the bonds you strive against are the ones that
press hard."

"Good beginning," said the cadet, controlling himself. "Go on, Miss
Rose."

"Well," she said, "then you need not have laughed at me quite so much.
But somebody says, there are two ends to a sermon."

"Only one here," said Bouché, "and that's at the beginning."

"Two ends," Rose went on steadily; "the human and the Divine, the text
and the preacher. If you begin with the preacher, one man may not like
him, and another one may----"

"That man hasn't reported yet," Bouché interrupted her.

"And it would be just the same," Rose said, "if an angel came and
preached to you. Some men would be sure to criticise him, and study the
length of his wings."

"Wishing he'd use 'em to fly away with; that would be me, every
time--unless he wore your bonnet."

"So the best speaker would not please you all," Rose concluded. "But if
you would begin with the text, you could not dispute that authority,
nor question that style. You would not _dare_ to criticise it. And if
you were studying the text all the way through, no sermon could seem
dull, because it would have such living light upon it, from the Lord's
own living words."

There was such a light and glow on the girl's own face, that Mr. Bouché
gazed at her with evident admiration.

"All depends," he said. "Give me my particular angel for the preacher,
and the text may go."

"Mr. Bouché," said Rose, rising up, "I am sure I heard a drum."

"You can always hear a drum here, any time of day or night."

"Not that drum; listen!"

"Happy drum to be listened to."

"But seriously, we must walk on; you will be late."

"'One private absent.' Hard on the Com. But it's not imminent yet, Miss
Rose."

"Why, you do not look!" said Rose. "See how the shadow lies on the
river. Please go! Just run on; never mind me."

"Never mind you!" said Bouché, taking leisurely steps at her side. "Not
if I know it."

"Mr. Bouché, you will be late."

"Like enough. The first sergeant of D Company will tell it with his
hand on his heart, regretfully adding: ''Tis true, 'tis pity; pity
'tis, 'tis true.' And old Powder Flask will jump for joy in his
regulation shoes."

"What for?"

"The chance of skinning me for the ninety-ninth time this week."

"Well, I'll not be responsible for his joy," said Rose. "Good-bye!" And
as they came to one of the many cross-paths that led towards the plain,
Rose suddenly turned up the ascent, running so lightly and easily that
it was almost as pretty to see as the regular double-time. Bouché
stood open-eyed for a second, and then came up with her, fuming.

"Now this is atrocious, preposterous, unheard of!" he said. "I don't
care a button for a 'late.'"

"Well, you should," said Rose, laughing round at him, keeping her pace
and her breath admirably. "And this might turn into a cold absence. You
ought to care. Magnus says discipline counts. There's a different sort
of text for you."

"I vow!" said Bouché. "Don't you give me any of _his_ wise sayings, or
I'll punch his head when I get back to barracks, the first thing."

"Not the _first_," said Rose with a gay laugh, as they reached the edge
of the open, "Look! there goes the band. Run, Mr. Bouché!"

"As if I hadn't been running!" said Bouché, much aggrieved. "Miss Rose,
I'll owe you one better for this."

And then, run he did.



L

FAIRYLAND

    Their shields before their breasts, forth at once they go,
    Their lances in the rest levelled fair and low;
    Their banners and their crests waving in a row.

    --FRERE.


The first week in June at West Point is such an old story that I had
best not say much about it here. The (generally) perfect weather,
the stirring drills, the crowd of lookers-on, with the sort of jail
delivery from study hours and usual restrictions. The cadets come out
and sun themselves like hibernated bees, or bears, with an unlimited
taste for honey. "Best" dresses sweep the ground, "best" bonnets brave
the wind; only the serene blue sky looks down unmoved at the show and
frolic and madcap doings of the people. It is a little older than they.

The furlough men are wild with joy and expectation; the plebs have
grown two inches since May. Second classmen are sporting imaginary
chevrons (the nearest some of them will come to it); and the almost
graduates walk at ease, kings in their own right. Bewitching damsels
repeat the question, "O, where do you expect to be stationed?" But
alas, the reply is not always, "Anywhere--with you!" That might have
been in yearling camp; but things have changed; cadet limits are down;
and Choice opens its eyes and waits.

In fact, there is need of some sober sense just now. For with the
looming up of Fort Grant or Custer; Barrancas, Camp Assiniboine, or
San Carlos: comes also the question of comforts and climates. These
delicate creatures can walk all day and dance all night in West Point
air. But what will their high heels do at Huachuca? and how will their
fair cheeks stand the heat at Eagle Pass? Are they brave to be left
with only soldier attendants when the young lieutenant is ordered off
on a scout after Indians? Can they make bread, where the baker does
not come round? and keep their sweet patience when some "ranking" new
arrival swoops down upon their pretty quarters, and bids them move? Or
again, what if the modest pay of a second-lieutenant should not comport
with twenty-dollar bonnets?

Such questions go for little, when it's "a girl I have known
for fifteen years"; but they press rather hard upon last week's
acquaintance. No wonder many a face in the class looks thoughtful. And
no wonder, either, that there are so many last leave-taking walks, for
just the fair outlines and the grand old river, near and among which
the men have won their shoulder-straps.

Among all the unwonted eyes that ever saw June come over West Point,
none could get more delight than did Cadet Kindred's two young sisters.
The mere shining out of the whole post in white trousers was an event.
And the guns that greeted the Board of Visitors were, to the full, as
imposing, as the various "planks" in that respected body. The girls
watched every point of the welcoming review, and then studied the
chosen guests as they trooped into the "big house" reception. But
better than chicken salad indoors, was the music discoursed by the band
in the pretty grounds outside. It may be said, however, that Violet did
not fail to see Mr. Trueman, in sash and plume, go up the steps with
the rest of the graduating class, and to think for one brief moment
that it might be pleasant to go there too.

Only parade that night, but a wonderful walk after supper; and next
day, and every day for ten more, a series of varied pleasures.

The examinations in the library were positively awe-inspiring; such
battle plans, such hieroglyphics. There was some trembling of heart
the first time they saw Magnus under fire; but he so plainly knew
what he was about, that fear soon passed into rejoicing. And when Mr.
Clinker was set to read Spanish, and the story (as translated) sounded
unutterably ridiculous, Mrs. Ironwood declared that her two girls
behaved better than she did.

Something of this in the morning; at night a concert; in the afternoon
a drill. Perhaps on the cavalry plain with the ear-tearing racket of
the Light Battery; where the guns were sometimes pointed at the ladies,
and the ladies cried out, and stopped their ears, and ran away; and
the hills sent back the thunder, and the descending sun half glorified
the clouds of dust. Or maybe they went down by the river, and saw
Mr. Trueman and a throng of unknown men build the pontoon bridge,
themselves sitting on the grass in a blaze of sunshine, which the north
wind softened down. With gay dresses on every side, and grey-and-white
men standing behind them, or down on the grass too. Sugar-plums in
many hands, the perfume of flirtation in all the air; and certainly
their own attendant cavaliers were well disposed for both these soft
delectations. But if Rose looked round, it was generally to put some
intelligent question, which Bouché could only answer in kind; and
Violet's bright eyes were too eagerly watching what Mr. True did with
his boat, to heed what Randolph whispered about _them_.

How skilfully those huge grey pontoons swung into line; how stirring
was the sounding tramp of the plank-bearers; how curiously they locked
arms going back, and how very charming was the walk over that strange
bridge when it was done.

[Illustration: CADET BOAT AND CREW]

Another day came skirmish drill, with the grey files in all sorts of
varied action; the men scattered over the plain as a sower casts his
seed. Speeding down in the hollow, dashing up the ridge, disappearing
behind the trees, and firing straight at the pretty spectators. In
those days, the short midway rest was all right for visiting; and so,
when the other men dropped down on the grass, Magnus and Mr. Trueman
and quite a little crowd came over to the seats, cap in hand. Smoky,
and dusty, and hot--and charming--for a few minutes of lively talk. To
the begrimed warriors every girl looked perfectly resplendent, in her
fresh summer dress.

Then, as the drill went on, and the privates came down on one knee
to fire, or crouched down, or lay at length, with the cadet officers
standing motionless behind them; what terribly exposed positions the
chevrons seemed to have! What a mark for the enemy's guns was each
straight figure, casting its motionless shadow across the sunlit grass.
Bullets might whistle over the men on the ground--but for these! It was
all too real; and the young sisters were glad when those on the ground
sprang up, and leaders and men were merged in an equality of danger.

One night there was the noisy, vivid, weird mortar drill; touched up
with talk, flitting changes of place, comments, explanations, and
fairyland bursts of red fire. What a night that was! The roar of the
guns, the soft-spoken words; the flash-illumined smoke, the dark
figures behind the "footlights" on the battery; the motley human mass
which the crimson fire caught in its red glow.

Less picturesque, but more breathless in interest, was the cavalry
drill on the plain and the grand charge.

In happy ignorance that surgeons and their attendants were in watchful
waiting, the two girls found the whole thing just magnificent, and
caught no hint of danger, even from other people's outcries. There was
one lady in particular, handsome, well-dressed, and knowing everybody,
whose son was in the drill, and whose fears were many and public. In
the midst of the most harmless evolutions she was, as she phrased it,
"on thorns"; and she danced about as if it were true.

Up on a seat to see better; down again that she might not see at all;
with little cries and shrieks and groans of fright or expostulation--it
was droll enough. Rose thought she would watch her when the charge
really came,--and forgot her as July forgets December.

There had been a few minutes of seeming quiet, the squad all down by
the library; but anyone who looked keenly could see this man examining
his bridle, and that one tightening the girth. You could see them
looking to their stirrups, or rising a little in the saddle to get a
better seat. Then they began to move forward, slowly at first, then
quicker, till the word was given:

"Charge!" and horses and men came tearing along like a Kansas cyclone
upon the resounding road.

In some of the quieter moments before the charge, Rose and Violet had
picked out two or three men they knew, noting their horses (they were
not all dark then); and now, even in that dusty whirlwind, the grey
and the black could be seen and followed. And--yes, certainly--Mr.
Trueman's horse has leaped the Hotel fence, and the plucky rider puts
him at it again, and comes bounding back. And Mr. Clinker's steed
has swerved at the crossroad and gone dashing along towards Trophy
Point, for freedom and Highland Falls. However, he missed in both,
and everything came out right, and nobody was hurt; and the drill was
pronounced in every way first-class. But for days after, when Violet
shut her eyes, she seemed to see the flashing sabres, and hear again
the ringing shout; and to watch that particular grey horse as he leaped
the hedge.

Then came graduation; and Violet had the first sight of Mr. Trueman's
diploma, as soon as he could step aside and show it. And Magnus was
made first captain, and Mr. Bouché shone forth as adjutant; and even
Mr. McLean found his arm adorned with three bright bars, to his own
astonishment.

"All owing to Kin," he confided to the two sisters. "If he hadn't
pinched me black and blue every day since Christmas, I should be on my
way back to Kansas, to hoe potatoes for the rest of my life."

It may be said, in passing, that Mr. Trueman lingered at the post for a
few days in "cits," and finally departed with a permit to show himself
in the Western home, and plead his own cause there.

Mrs. Ironwood lingered, too, even longer, to let her charge have a
taste of the pretty concerts and guard-mounting in camp; and then the
girls packed their trunk, and saw the hills fade away in a mist that
was all in their own eyes.



LI

THE HOME-STRETCH

    A gold fringe on the purpling hem
      Of hills the river runs,
    As down its long green valley falls
      The last of summer suns.
    Along its tawny gravel bed
      Broad-flowing, swift, and still,
    As if its meadow-levels felt
      The hurry of the hill,
    Noiseless between its banks of green
      From curve to curve it slips;
    The drowsy maple shadows rest
      Like fingers on its lips.

    --WHITTIER.


To come down from two girls of your own to none, is a long step; and
I think if ever Cadet Charlemagne was ready to put the full value on
the many fair and gay women at the Point, it was just then, when his
sisters had gone. Not another sight of his own to be hoped for till a
whole long year should roll away. First-class camp though it was, I
think he would have liked the busy term-time better.

But he talked with Miss Lane, he walked with Miss Newcomb; and did the
civil thing to a handful of new visitors; went to picnics, teas, and
such like merrymakings; and through it all found himself pining for
Cherry, and wondering what they were all about at home. In the very
midst of the frolic, with bright eyes and soft hands on every side, the
refrain of the old song would keep coming up:

    "O this is no' my ain lassie!
      Fair though the lassie be."

Such a mood works differently with different men; with Magnus it
wrought in a very becoming fashion. For the high mark put upon the
three girls far away, set the standard for his behaviour to those
near by. "Help them," Cherry had said. And so, over his ordinary good
manners and winning ways, there had come that grave air of chivalry,
that deference to women _because_ they were women, which sets off a
man's own manhood as nothing else can. His heart was elsewhere, but his
best service was theirs to command. Now and then he ventured a reproof.

"You must not do that," he said one day to Miss Lane; receiving an
instant "Thank you!" which spoke her good stuff. And even when he came
between Miss Saucy and some lawless escapade with a firm: "You shall
not do that!" the words were so courteous and earnest that the girl
yielded with:

"There, there--I won't. Hush up!"

It was kind work to do, and the giving pleasure was always pleasant;
but for his own delights Magnus fell back into his solitary woodside
walks, with now and then a long pull upon the river. Up and down the
shining current; fighting the wind, breasting the tide; tossed with
mimic billows, or shivering a mirror of blue; so he went. Now coasting
along at oar's length from the shore, where the hills rose up in
castellated masses of rock and the cool shadow lay deep; then resting
on his oars, and gazing through the peerless north gateway at the
flood of sunset over Newburgh Bay. Sometimes showing it all to Cherry,
"on their wedding trip"; or again, sent back here as Commandant, with
Cherry the fair Frau Commander of the Post. And then--

A faint strain of music broke in upon his dream; the oars hung
motionless, dripping their bright drops.

A soldier's funeral was passing slowly up the winding Camptown road;
the grave notes of the band coming clear and soft across the water;
the flag drooped midway. Magnus reverently bared his head. Then he sat
listening.

There was so little tide that a dip of the oars now and then kept the
boat in place; and Magnus sat there motionless, until the third volley
rang out among the echoes, and to the usual lively racket the men came
marching home.

"Yes!" he said to himself, as he began to pull down stream again. "When
the time comes for Old Glory to wrap me up, let them bring me here and
lay me there, to sleep among the hills."

And with a shake of the head at his own musings, Cadet Charlemagne made
the boat fairly spin till it reached the landing, and dashed into the
sallyport with full five minutes to spare.

The Fourth of July that year rose exceedingly hot. A misty haze veiled
the mountains, the dew lay thick on every blade of grass; the silent
black-mouthed guns were dripping with moisture.

Being a holiday, even the reveille gun took an extra nap; and the camp
lay in absolute stillness for a half hour beyond its usual time. Only
the sentries paced up and down in the heightening glare; and far away
in the Logtown regions you could hear the sputtering of fire-crackers
and know that Independence Day was begun.

Meanwhile, by the same token, a lively ambush was preparing in the
quiet camp--a thing not distinctly set down and forbidden in West Point
rules, and with what we call constructive evidence cadets concern
themselves but little. And so with happy unconcern, Magnus and Twinkle,
and pretty much all the first class who were not on duty, arranged the
frolic. And for once the plebs liked their orders.

Up came the sun, touching Crownest, gilding Fort Putnam, peering into
every bush and tree; and from the other side up came the band, their
white helmets making a winding line of light across the plain. They
took post at one corner of the camp; and then, as the Stars and Stripes
swung slowly up to the head of the flagstaff, began their march and
their music, saluting the colours.

You have all heard how the piper of Hamelin played the rats out, where
none were seen before; and something like that happened now. The camp
was for all useful purposes asleep. But as soon as the inspiring notes
of "The Red, White, and Blue" broke up the stillness, there came a stir.

At quick step, and to a full-blast medley of national airs, the band
passed through the camp; up A Company Street and down B Company Street;
and as they went, out poured a chance-medley crowd to match. A crowd of
plebs, wrapped in sheets, in blankets, in every sort of harum-scarum
costume; with brooms for muskets, and the strict orders of upper
classmen for regulations.

With all other cadet eyes peering through tent curtains to watch, the
crazy throng came after the band in full procession. And even when the
officer in charge woke up to the state of things, these agile boys
kept out of the way; slipped through between tents to the next Company
street, and then re-forming and marching on joyously, until, as the
band came round to its starting point, and "Yankee Doodle" filled all
the air, the queer contingent drew up in order before them, solemnly
presented arms (alias broom-sticks) scattered, dived, and disappeared.
And only the most sedate and orderly faces could be seen at roll-call.

That was great fun. Better than the Fourth of July dinner, Magnus
declared.

The usual festivities graced the morning. The muster, and the march
across the plain to the old trees before the library. The band played,
Magnus read the "Declaration," and Mr. Bouché made a speech which
proved him, in theory, a model patriot.

Then the midday salute of forty odd guns thundered out among the hills;
returned by them in six times as many echoes; and the work of the day
was done. Once upon a time, when powder was cheap, there used to be a
salute at sunrise, too, and at sundown.

Magnus strolled away to one of his haunts by the river, and sat himself
down to watch the tide come in. It was almost full flood; the water
creeping silently up, hiding every mud-stained rock, floating off the
drift from every corner. One could see how it picked up its freight
of chips and sticks and sawdust; but the current was so strong, the
water so bright, that the dark streaks hardly counted. In fact, Magnus
enjoyed the whole process, finding fair images for himself.

"Just so," he thought, "would the June-tide set in, when:

    "Whatever of life has ebbed away
    Comes flooding back, with a ripply cheer,
    Into every green inlet, and creek, and bay."

Bearing away then, of course, to parts unknown, all the disagreeables
of life; studies, drills, and regulations. Wave motion giving place to
Cherry. "It is so pleasant," said one of these pre-graduates to me, "to
think of never again having to do anything I don't want to do!"

Magnus was so deep in his dreams down there one day that a step close
by made him start. This was no gauze-winged vision, however, but a
poor, homesick pleb. In the gray, baggy suit of first initiation, with
clouded brow and an air of general forlornness, he looked as little
like flood tide as a fellow could do.

He glanced at the trim first classman down among the bushes, went a few
steps on, turned, hesitated, and finally came up behind Magnus.

"Shall I disturb you, sir?" he said deprecatingly.

"No; come on. Rocks are Government property. You're Mr. Renwick, aren't
you?"

"Yes, sir."

The boy sat himself down at the water's edge, and looked gloomily off.
He was a slight fellow, just touching the regulation age; fair-skinned,
soft-haired, with an unmistakable air of love and petting about him.
"A mother's boy" all over. There were hearts aching for a sight of him
somewhere, without a doubt.

Magnus eyed him a while from a first-class standpoint; then his look
softened. What wretched, desperate hours he himself had spent in that
very dress among those very rocks. And then of a sudden Cadet Kindred
fell to wondering what the Lord would say to this poor heart, were he
there himself in bodily presence? And the reply was instant:

"Be pitiful, be courteous."

"You were in the pleb formation on the Fourth?" he said abruptly.

"Yes, sir."

"Liked it?"

"No, sir. At least I liked it well enough, but I didn't enjoy it."

"Why not?"

"Last Fourth was better."

"Oh, was it!" said Magnus ironically. "Did you think to bring
home-doings in your pocket when you came to West Point?"

"No, sir," said Renwick, with a sigh. "I suppose not."

"If you had all you wanted at home, why didn't you stay there?"

"I had _not_ all I wanted," said the boy, rousing up. "I wanted an
education, and we were too poor for me to get it anywhere else."

"My case precisely. And to-day you think home is worth all the
education that ever was heard of. So have I, a thousand times. But it
isn't, for all."

"Did _you_ ever feel so, Mr. Kindred?" said the boy, changing his seat
for one a little nearer. "Everybody says you've had a clear run of
luck, straight through."

"Stuff!" Magnus answered him. "Are you a Christian, Mr. Renwick?"

"I hope so, sir."

"Hope so! Well, are you an American?"

"Why, of course I am."

"How do you know? You may be a Chinese."

"Well, I know--whether I can tell how or not," said the boy.

"Certain sure where you belong in this world, and not sure at all where
you belong in the next. Unsound business, Mr. Renwick."

Renwick looked at him.

"You are a queer man!" he said.

"My one distinction. Found I couldn't lead off in anything else, here.
What are _you_ going to be?"

"A success--if I can, sir."

"Well, the only way to success is, to succeed."

"I know as much as that myself, sir."

"Practise it then. You might as well try to take that hill at one
jump, as think to be a success in January and June, and a failure all
the rest of the time. Unless you're a fine mixture of laziness and
mathematics. I am not myself."

"Very little mathematics about me," said Renwick; "and they speak as if
that was everything here. So I don't see what I am to do."

"Do?" Magnus said. "Why, dig like a prairie dog! Things are not so deep
down that they _can't_ be routed out. And get all the help you can, and
take all you can get."

"Do you mean 'ponies'?" said Renwick with a doubtful look.

"I do _not_ mean 'ponies'!"

"But they say _you_ are always so busy?"

"O yes, I'm busy enough; have to look out for my own scalp, you know.
My advice is always at your service, but my time most generally not."

"Then I don't see what you mean, sir."

"Have you a Bible, Mr. Renwick?"

"Yes, sir, of course."

"Read it?"

"Sometimes."

"Well, at one of those rare intervals," said Magnus, "put three marks
in it. A red one here:

"'Call upon me here in the day of trouble. I will deliver thee.'"

The boy drew a long sigh.

"Mother's verse," he said. "But that will not bring me home."

"No, and you don't want to go. Then a long blue one here:

"'What time I am afraid I will trust in thee.'"

"Hold on there," said Renwick. "I'm not afraid, sir, and I don't expect
to be."

"You will be, quite unexpectedly, some day, when you get into the
section room and find you have left your wits in barracks. But put a
broad white mark here, and _keep_ it white:

"'Walk in the light.'"

"Keep out of all dark ways, Mr. Renwick. You can have the Lord's help
every time and all the time, on those terms."

Renwick looked at him again.

"Well, that's the first time I ever heard of getting through West Point
_so_," he said.

"Tiptop way, you'll find," said Magnus.

"And that is your whole list of directions?"

"Finished up with the first one: dig! You must work like all the
beavers between whiles, or you'll never have the face to pray such
prayers."

"I heard you were odd," was Renwick's comment.

"And now you think the half wasn't told you. Sound doctrine,
nevertheless."

"But mathematics!" said the boy; "and natural philosophy! and Spanish!"

"Know them all through now, don't you?" said Magnus; "and so want no
help."

"No, no, sir! of course not. But I mean--Mr. Kindred, do all the head
men get to the top of the class your way?"

"Probably not."

"Then why do you lay it out for me?"

"Only sure way I know."

"To push me up head?"

"To put you somewhere where it's worth while for a man to stand," said
Magnus. "You might come out head--and be a disgrace to the service. You
might go down before French twistifications, get dropped--and live to
bless the country some other way."

"I thought you meant I should be sure to graduate," said Renwick,
disappointed.

"There's but one thing sure." And rising to his feet, Cadet Kindred
chanted out a scrap of an old hymn.

    "Looking off unto Jesus,
      I go not astray:
    My eyes are on him
      And he shows me the way.
    The path may seem dark
      As he leads me along;
    But following Jesus,
      I cannot go wrong."

"Does it ever seem dark to you, sir?" Renwick said wistfully.

"Lots of times."

"It is so hateful here," the boy burst forth; "the place, and the
drills, and the cadets, and everything!"

"Yes, isn't it!" said Magnus heartily. "I have felt just so. Why,
there are days when I should like to shoot the cadets, burn down the
barracks, pitch all those old study books into the blaze, and tie the
Tacs within roasting distance."

The two looked at each other, and then both broke into a laugh.

"Splendid old place, isn't it?" said Mr. Kindred. "And the drills are
as good as the rack for stretching a man. And the cadets aren't much
worse than the rest of the world. You and I are two of them. Come on!
Let's go take a look at the flag. That always puts me to rights when I
turn sour. 'Hail, Columbia, happy land!' and West Point is part of it."

    "The sweet red, white, and blue,
      The brave red, white and blue,
    Has done so much for me,
      And done so much for you."



LII

THE BIG RECEPTION

    When shall I come to the top of that same hill?
    ----You do climb up it now; look how we labour.

    --SHAKESPEARE.


A very busy six months followed first-class camp; the autumn full
of drills and study, the winter of examination, hard work, and the
Hundredth Night. With the opening spring poured in the usual flood of
tradesmen and their wares; company drills began, early visitors came,
and June was coming. The lower classmen, as usual, were on tiptoe with
glee and excitement; and, also as usual, were the ballasting thoughts
in many a first-class head. Questions of regiments, of posts, and of
girls.

But for Charlemagne Kindred all that was settled. If he were ordered
to the North Pole, and stationed on the tip end of it, he should still
take Cherry. And if he could not keep the wind from roughening her soft
hair, Lieutenant Kindred would be a much more incompetent person than
Cadet Charlemagne thought possible. Cherry was just the girl for Arctic
regions; she would sketch the icebergs, sing to the seals, and teach
them Greek. And in the long evenings by their driftwood fire, they
could plan out where to live when he wore three stars on his shoulder,
and was retired on full pay for special services as yet unknown.
A little soon for that, to be sure; but there is no harm in being
beforehand, even "quite some," as they say in New Jersey. They could
draw plans for the house, and so save on architects when the time came.

Other big questions came up for other men. Should this one assume
at once the debt which the dear home people shouldered so patiently
to send him to West Point? And how much can this other save from his
slender pay, to help educate his young brothers and sisters? It touches
one's heart to see the dainty articles of dress that are bought for the
girls at home, whose life has been chiefly homespun.

Then what work will they find to do at the strange, far-away posts?
Work in that other army to which, as boys, they were mustered in? For
there are many church members in the corps; and I doubt if there is
one to whom the old vows do not come up in mind before graduation.
Sometimes, perhaps, with a never-so-keen perception of what Paul meant
when he said: "I have finished my course; I have kept the faith." Paul
could have claimed the lower honours too; learned, skilled, an acute
theologian, a matchless writer. But no earthly plaudits were in his
thoughts; only the Lord's "Well done"; the crown which those Royal
hands would give him "at that day."

The spring flew on, tossing off its freight of snowdrops, violets,
columbine, and apple blossoms. Twenty-three days to June, twenty-two
days; then came more tidings.

Mr. Erskine was failing, so the mother wrote; failing steadily and
fast. It was doubtful if Magnus would see his friend again; and the
young cadet's heart went out with a great yearning to the lonely girl
of whom he would so soon be the chief earthly protector. And once again
Magnus gave thanks for that grace which had brought him through the
fire, and made him fit to take such a charge. But none of them could
come for graduation.

"Of course we cannot leave Cherry," so Violet wrote; "one of us is up
there all the time. Cherry looks like a white wind-flower. O, Magnus, I
wish you were here!" And Magnus gave a groan and turned to his tally:
twenty-one days to June.

But he did what he could. He wrote Cherry a letter every day, saying
everything he could to beguile her thoughts. He sent the last picture
of himself, and the class picture, and a photograph of the up-river
view. In every letter went his marks for the day, with what bits of
mischief or of news the Post could furnish. He told what girls he had
walked with, and of his rambles alone; giving her much to read and to
talk of. With all this he studied untiringly, refused invitations, went
up in his marks, and was often fagged enough when tattoo beat; but less
with the work than with excitement and tension.

He had applied for a regiment not then near San Carlos; but so much
depended upon how many men went to Willet's Point that he could guess
little as to his own placing. One thing was sure, he was learning
fast. Lessons of patience, of self-control, of trust; so winning true
promotion, day by day. Finding out also, with new understanding,
the exceeding helpfulness of prayer; learning to lay down cares and
questions at the feet of that blessed Lord Jesus who "doeth all things
well." Rank and post, life and death, could safely be left with Him! A
great peace and a great strength were in the face of Magnus Kindred in
those days.

If he seemed graver than usual, it was that with every chance his
thoughts flew away. Or, rather, were some of them always in that
far-off sick-room. For whoever else might be with her, Magnus knew,
unerringly, how Cherry's heart reached out for him. How, in every hard
moment, with every new token of the coming sorrow, the longing for him
leaped up and grew. Sometimes it made him almost desperate enough to
go, at all risks.

As a last comfort to himself and to her, Magnus took off his class ring
and expressed it on, bidding her wear it till he came to put another in
its place. She would not take it last summer, but she must _now_. And
there was no telling what that ring was to the girl, and to her father
as well, making the bond so tangible and real. Cherry studied it in
her lonely night watches, and Mr. Erskine's heart gave thanks at every
gleam of the stone as her hands' sweet ministry came about him. While
far away, Magnus, on his part, was verifying and honouring all their
trust.

So came on June, with her rose-trimmed slippers; and it seemed that
first summer afternoon as if the whole countryside poured down upon
West Point. Long before four o'clock the seats were full, then crowded;
the wagon-load of campstools vanished as they came; and soon even
standing-room was at a premium. And when the Board of Visitors had
reviewed the Corps, and the Corps the Board, everybody who had the
right crowded in to the reception, while the left-out throng whirled
round with one accord, and sat staring with all its eyes at the open
door and solid front of the Superintendent's quarters. If only X-rays
had been on hand! The interest grew to a keen point when the first
class (all together then, though now they go scattering in) passed
through the gate, doffed their plumed hats, and vanished within the
doorway.

Magnus was claimed by old friends and presented to new, had a great
grip of Mr. Wayne's hand, and brought little Miss Bee a plate of
lobster salad deeply bordered with sunshine.

I think Cadet Charlemagne had learned a little more about girls than he
once knew; and the light and colour that came into this particular shy
face at sight of him, smote him with a sense of at least possible past
mistakes. She had no need to think so much of his small civilities.
And Mr. Kindred bowed himself away, and made merry in a gauzy circle
of colours near by. And then, when Miss Bee looked so left out in the
cold, Magnus rushed up again, took her plate, brought her an ice, and
made things worse than ever. Manlike, he thought the fast-and-loose
plan worked to admiration.

Now privately, Miss Bee cared nothing for lobster and very little for
ice; but it felt so good to be noticed and to have something to do,
that I think she hardly knew what she had. And had not Mr. Kindred said
the ice would "refresh" her? So she ate a little, played with it a
little, and heard, nolens-volens, a good deal of talk.

"Why, here is Mr. Kindred!" said one of his Christmas friends. "All on
tiptoe for shoulder-straps."

"Mr. Kindred has small occasion to stand on 'tiptoe' for anything,"
said Miss Lane. "But what have you done with your beautiful class ring?
Not lost it?"

"Hardly, since I know where it is. Lost things are said to keep cool
company in the moon."

"What is keeping company with your ring?" said Miss Saucy. "Your heart,
of course?"

"Of course."

"Will she be here for the hop?"

"Since when were hearts feminine? No, I do not think 'she' will," said
Magnus. "Hearts are best at home, hop nights."

The talk went on, the crowd drifted; and little Miss Bee in her corner
held her plate and ate her ice, and tasted nothing. Of course, she
had seen that the ring was missing; but then no girl had boasted its
possession. And men took whims.

What tales dark corners could tell; of hard-pressed fights, of
struggles, of victory! The band played, the throng increased--then
began to thin out. Presently Magnus came and took the plate from the
weary fingers, asking if she would have anything more.

"No, nothing," she assured him with a smile. But something in the smile
and its quiet patience, made him dart over to the table and fetch a
handful of the gayest bonbons and mottoes, and bestow them in Miss
Bee's own hands. A man's blunder, again! And yet perhaps not. Of
course the sweets were not eaten; they were conveyed away and stored
among Miss Bee's few chiefest treasures; but I think in time they
became a comfort, too; shining tokens of what a friend she had had in
one of the foremost men of the Corps. It could not be helped that this
put other men at a discount.

For the ten days that followed no one saw much of Cadet Kindred, in any
of those between-times that he could call his own. West Point outlines
had cast their lovely spell about him; and with every chance he was
down by the river, up among the rocks; climbing the leafy ways; saying
good-bye, and then coming back to say it again.



LIII

THE FIRST POST

    A ravelled rainbow overhead
    Lets down to life its varying thread;
    Love's blue,--joy's gold,--and fair between
    Hope's shifting light of emerald green;
    With either side, in deep relief,
    A crimson pain, a violet grief.

    --MRS. WHITNEY.


I never understand how people can chatter all through the graduating
parade. Standing before other people who fain would see, but with their
own backs to the show; gabbling on about trains and stages, weather and
wraps, to the utter discomfiture of the quiet souls who are straining
their ears to catch the "standing," just then read out by the cadet
adjutant; and finally pausing long enough to wonder "Whatever is he
talking so long about, anyway?"

"Headquarters Military Academy, West Point, N. Y. Special order, No.
fifty-nine!" So much with the knowledge that comes by iteration, you
make out; but the human wall shuts off the rest. Such people should
stay at home.

If you are a stranger and unwarned, you may easily miss some special
points in the show to-night. You will not know that, when the battalion
comes marching down to the tune of "The Dashing White Sergeant," it
means that from fifty to seventy of its men are on dress parade for the
last time. And as they come nearer and wheel into line, you will hardly
notice, that among those orderly grey figures, there is every here and
there one who carries only side-arms, his musket left behind. And when
these come out and form a quiet line in front of the rest, you will
not guess that they are never again to go through the manual or be
mingled with the other men. Also for this night, the Commandant himself
steps out upon the ground, instead of the usual officer in charge.

The line is dressed, and then--

"Parade rest!" and then--

"Sound off!"

And with sweet, clear rendering, the band begins to play:

    "In cottage or palace,
      Wherever I roam,
    Be it ever so humble,
      There's no place like home.
    Home! Home!
      Sweet, sweet home!"--

O what does it mean, to those men who (except for the short furlough)
have been four years in exile! They give no sign; motionless as so many
statues; the black chin straps merging faces, and hiding what may be
there. The June air stirs the soft edges of the black plumes, floating
them off as one; the sunset glitters on buckle and bayonet; the great
garrison flag curls and uncurls its mighty folds. "It may be for years
and it may be for ever," before the men of that front rank will look
upon the scene again. They have hated it, sometimes, and longed to get
away, but now they know how well they love it. What things those old
hills and they have gone through together! from the forlorn pleb days
until now. And even with that thought, the band lapses softly into
another mood:

    "Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    And never brought to mind?"

and every heart answers to the pleading of "Auld Lang Syne."

For these classmates, after to-morrow, will be scattered to the four
winds. Some, not to meet again till they are grey-haired men; never
_all_ to stand together, until the day when before the King "in his
glory," "shall be gathered all nations." Believers or unbelievers, they
think of it now. They may not speak nor touch each other, nor turn the
head, but they think.

It is as well, perhaps, that "The girl I left behind me" puts in her
word just here, and you have to laugh, partly because you were so near
crying. But Lang Syne and Sweet Home have the last saying, as the band
comes back to its place.

Parade goes on, and for once everybody is "present or accounted for."
The orders are published, the standing read (not always, in these
days), and then the graduating class come forward, and with dress hats
off and held at the correct angle, shake hands with the Commandant and
have a short address from him. And while the little company pass down
and stand in line before the trees (not that either, now), the old
Commandant turns hastily away from the show, and seeks his own front
door. It is a long ago "Lang Syne" that he remembers, and far better
than these youngsters, he knows what all this means.

But the music begins again, with another change. "I see them on their
winding way" fills all the air. The lines break up; and buckle and
bayonet, sash and plume, come gaily past the seats, and then as they
pass the waiting graduates, again the plumed hats come off, while
cheers ring out in eager greeting from their comrades marching by.

"I know I shall cry when it comes to that!" said a gay young first
classman to me. And I have no doubt he did. But there are no lookers-on
in front of them, and the old plain tells no tales.

The next ten or twelve waking hours are little but hurry and rush.
The big hop on hand for society men: with farewell visits, last ends
of packing, and countless bits of red tape to be tied in regulation
knots. Then last looks at the river, and hands laid lovingly and for
the last time upon some of the old grey rocks.

In front of the library a platform is raised, and draped with the
star-spangled banner, and a canvas canopy stretches across from tree
to tree. Strong ropes wall in the space below, where stand the chairs,
rank after rank, and as the morning hours run on, sentinels guard the
ropes against all intruders. The seats, of course, are, first of all,
for cadets and people of the Post, but just there does the dear general
public wish to sit, and for whom the chairs are placed affects them not
at all. So, for an hour or more, there is a sort of running fight--a
skirmish line--all round the lines of rope, and the sentries well nigh
meet their match. Demands, complaints, exclamations, are loud-voiced
and many, and neither orders nor fixed bayonets win much respect.

"Those are the orders, ma'am."

"I'm not responsible, ma'am."

"No, ma'am, no one allowed inside the ropes."

"Sit there? Those seats are reserved for the mothers, ma'am."

"But _we_ are the mothers," cried one good dame to the stony official.
And as the guard turned to ward off some new intruder, one could but
laugh at the adroitness with which she slipped in behind his back,
to be again ordered out. At last come dignitaries in such very full
feather that the crowd stands back and becomes a trifle more modest.
The hands on the clock move on, cadets who were wandering about
with mothers and friends leave them and go off to barracks. Men for
the platform come leisurely along, sure of a good place; the upper
ten for the seats below make more speed, seeking the best. Then the
superintendent, the adjutant, and all the glittering people in train
of the Board of Visitors, mount the platform, and make it a study
of sheen and colour. Drums sound in the distance, then nearer, and
the whole battalion comes marching down. They halt at the back of the
crowd, stack arms, and the graduating class file in and take their
seats.

There is a short prayer from the chaplain, "Hail, Columbia!" from
the band, and then the address--or, maybe two. From the president of
the board generally, followed often by words from some high ranking
officer, or some notability in civil life. Addresses sometimes wise,
sometimes more--otherwise--than one could wish; very seldom vivid
and instinct with fire. The country figures, of course, and "this
Institution," and the flag, with the service, in a mild sort of way.
All eyes are fixed upon this particular class, and the army welcomes it
with open arms. And the cadets have done well, and the professors have
done their best. On the whole, the sort of speeches to which you would
like to apply a match and bring them to either a blaze or to ashes. How
rarely--Oh, how rarely!--have these veterans in camp or council one
word of real cheer, wisdom, and fire, for these "youngsters," these
smooth-faced new recruits.

Perhaps it makes less difference than I think to the grave young men
waiting there, bare-headed and absorbed; they have been at such high
pressure, and have so much else to think of. They listen, and applaud,
from time to time, and generally in the right place. Once in a while
you may notice that just _there_ the Southern hands are silent.

More music follows, and then the adjutant with his stack of diplomas
comes to the front and stands behind the Superintendent, or whoever is
to give them out: in the old days, it was often General Sherman. One by
one he takes the parchment from the adjutant, and the names are called
off in order of standing.

"Harvey Linton!"

A tall, dark-haired young fellow rises from the grey mass, comes to
the foot of the platform, and with a low bow takes the credentials for
which he has toiled so bravely.

"I congratulate you, sir," says the donor; "not so much for being at
the head as for the hard work which has put you there,"--and Linton
bows again, and goes back to his seat.

"Yes, he has done very well--ve--ry well," so his father in the crowd
answers friendly words, trying hard to seem unconscious that his son
has carried off first honours.

"Anson Dent!" and this time it is a broad shouldered Wisconsiner,
followed by a Virginian, a fair haired Hoosier, and all the rest. But
you notice other differences among the men. For while some smile and
bow gratefully, others give the briefest sort of nod, and some none at
all. Some flush, and some grow pale, and some hands almost grab the
diploma as if a right had been long withheld. And one casts furtive
glances towards a certain bewitching bonnet in the crowd, as he goes
to his seat, and the next sends a deeper gaze across the gay lines,
seeking a face and dress the plainest there, but the best beloved in
all the world; while many see only the friends a thousand miles away.
One man unrolls his diploma and studies it with all his eyes, his
neighbour plays with his, as if it were the veriest trifle--a mere
bagatelle.

"Charlemagne Kindred!"

And I am bound to own that this man went forward in a dream. With one
swift glance at Mr. Wayne, he did catch the loving interest in that
face, but the rest of the people might as well have been a fog bank. He
was feeling so much that he seemed not to feel at all, until when they
broke up, and Twinkle pressed through the crowd, crying:

"Where is my mother! I want my mother!"

And then Magnus could have shaken him, for daring to put his own
heart-cry in words.

Indiscriminate cheering was not the fashion in those days. A specially
popular man, or one who had done his work against special odds, might
have some hearty plaudits. But generally the applause was kept for "the
last man," who by brilliant carelessness or industrious breaking of
regulations, footed "the immortals." Of course, they all cheered _him_.
Had he not kept someone else from being "last man?"--even now and then
(it is whispered) closing up the class end so that no one else _could_
fall through. But after all, _somebody_ must be last, so cheer him on.
He may outrank you yet, in life.

The scene changes. Everyone rises to the "Star-Spangled Banner," there
is the benediction, the cadets march away to the "Left Behind Girl"
once more; and then girls present, who will not accept the situation,
tear along to the front of barracks to hear the new orders.

The companies are drawn up in line, never again to stand together
there, and the adjutant publishes the orders for the last time.

It is a long reading. Lists of the men who graduate, of the men who
go on furlough, and of the new cadet officers; and again the friendly
chin-straps do the part of words, and "conceal thought." But if you are
near enough, and know the faces, you can see a gleam in the eyes of the
men who are to wear chevrons, or gloom on the faces of some who are
left in ranks, while the furlough men are almost dancing. But not even
a half-inch stir, anywhere.

When the reading is done, and they break ranks, then indeed frolic
breaks loose, and every sort of thing is on hand. Graduates rush
to their rooms, clasping a hand here and there as they go, to put
off the grey once more and forever. Furlough men also "scoot" away,
eager to come out in "cits" for the journey; while the others hug and
congratulate each other in a threefold tangle, sometimes; the new
officers hurry to put on their chevrons; and (lest the fun should be
one-sided) are now and then caught and borne away and put under the
hydrant by the zealous yearlings.

Meantime the sallyport fills up with girls, matrons, friends, old
graduates, and people in general. The gay overflow pours out into the
area of barracks, all waiting to see the young lieutenants and the
furlough men shine out in "cits." And they are about as different from
each other, when they come, as they were in the old candidate days. One
tall man in an extra tall hat, the next neat and harmonious down to
his small handbag, and this one just a trifle loud and mixed. Twos and
threes and one alone, hardly to be known at first, with their canes and
neckties. The furlough men shine all over with joy, the young graduates
have thoughts. So this face grows grave over a handshake, and this
other stalwart fellow breaks down in his words of farewell, and leaves
them unsaid.

Mr. Wayne stood there with the rest, watching for Magnus, and then
having a word with him from time to time, until that matter-of-fact
regulation drum beat the call for dinner, and the new cadet officers
marched the men away.

The air is still full of hurry, for most of those who are going want
to take the down boat, and there are a few last calls to pay, and some
unfinished business with the commissary or the "Com." But one way and
another the area is cleared, the men slip out of sight, and graduation
is over. Few words may tell the rest.

Mr. Erskine had passed away from this earthly life, during that very
week in June; and it was a very pale and grief-stricken girl, much
needing him, that Magnus took in his arms when he reached home. And
later on in the summer there was a quiet wedding, with just a few
classmates in full-dress uniform to light up the room, and Mr. Wayne to
join the two hands in a bond which should never be broken.

And their first post? What does that matter? However, it was one with
plenty to do, and some things to bear; a good place wherein to shine as
the Lord's true servants, and an excellent one from which to look up to
Him.

For the rest, it stood on high ground, with a fine outlook, and a fair
climate. It was called Fort Content.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

  Obvious typographical and punctuation errors have been corrected.

  Blank pages have been removed.

  There are inconsistencies in the display of attributions in the poetry
  and quotes following chapter headings. These have been retained.

  In the body of the text closing quotes have been omitted before
  poetry, after a colon and in correspondence. The text reproduced here
  is true to the original.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "West Point Colors" ***

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

We also ask that you:

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

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

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

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



Home