Captain Jinks Hero
Author of "Plain Talk in Psalm and Parable"
Illustrations by DAN BEARD
NEW YORK AND LONDON FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1902, By FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
Registered at Stationers' Hall, London
Printed in the United States
Published February, 1902
TO F. C.
CONTENTS AND CARTOONS
I. A BOMBSHELL, 1 II. EAST POINT, 14 III. LOVE AND COMBAT, 34 IV. WAR AND BUSINESS, 60 V. SLOWBURGH, 89 VI. OFF FOR THE CUBAPINES, 117 VII. THE BATTLE OF SAN DIEGO, 151 VIII. AMONG THE MORITOS, 185 IX. ON DUTY AT HAVILLA, 216 X. A GREAT MILITARY EXPLOIT, 240 XI. A DINNER PARTY AT GIN-SIN, 250 XII. THE GREAT WHITE TEMPLE, 277 XIII. THE WAR-LORD, 310 XIV. HOME AGAIN, 338 XV. POLITICS, 365 XVI. THE END, 374
CAPTAIN JINKS, HERO, Frontispiece "Sam was taken straddling a chair."
WAR'S DEMAND, 6 "But what did he want of soldiers?"
THE MANLY SPORT AT EAST POINT, 56 "Starkey stood off and gave him his 'coup de grace.'"
A BLOOD BROTHERHOOD, 120 "A big company to grab everything.... The Benevolent Assimilation Company, Limited."
TWO OF A KIND, 206 "There are four marks."
CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED, 238 "What business have these people to talk about equal rights?"
WINNERS OF THE CROSS, 266 "He got the Victorious Cross in South Africa."
THE PERFECT SOLDIER, 324 "The Emperor gave an exclamation of surprise and delight."
HARMLESS, 392 "He sits like that for hours."
"Bless my soul! I nearly forgot," exclaimed Colonel Jinks, as he came back into the store. "To-morrow is Sam's birthday and I promised Ma to bring him home something for a present. Have you got anything for a boy six years old?"
"Let me see," answered the young woman behind the counter, turning round and looking at an upper shelf. "Why, yes; there's just the thing. It's a box of lead soldiers. I've never seen anything like them before"—and she reached up and pulled down a large cardboard box. "Just see," she added as she opened it. "The officers have swords that come off, and the guns come off the men's shoulders; and look at the——"
"Never mind," interrupted the colonel. "I'm in a hurry. That'll do very well. How much is it?"
And two minutes later he went out of the store with the box in his hand and got into his buggy, and was soon driving through the streets of Homeville on his way to his farm.
No one had ever asked Colonel Jinks where he had obtained his title. In fact, he had never put the question to himself. It was an integral part of his person, and as little open to challenge as his hand or his foot. There are favored regions of the world's surface where colonels, like poets, are born, not made, and good fortune had placed the colonel's birthplace in one of them. For the benefit of those of my readers who may be prejudiced against war, and in justice to the colonel, it should be stated that the only military thing about him was his title. He was a mild-mannered man with a long thin black beard and a slight stoop, and his experience with fire-arms was confined to the occasional shooting of depredatory crows, squirrels, and rats with an ancient fowling-piece. Still there is magic in a name. And who knows but that the subtle influence of the title of colonel may have unconsciously guided the searching eyes of the young saleswoman among the Noah's arks and farmyards to the box of lead soldiers?
The lad for whom the present was intended was a happy farmer's boy, an only child, for whom the farm was the whole world and who looked upon the horses and cows as his fellows. His little red head was constantly to be seen bobbing about in the barnyard among the sheep and calves, or almost under the horses' feet. The chickens and sparrows and swallows were his playmates, and they seemed to have no fear of him. The black colt with its thick legs and ruffled mane ran behind its gray dam to hide from every one else, but it let Sam pat it without flinching. The first new-hatched chicken which had been given to him for his very own turned out to be a rooster, and when he found that it had to be taken from him and beheaded he was quite inconsolable and refused absolutely to feast upon his former friend. But with this tenderness of disposition Sam had inherited another still stronger trait, and this was a deep respect for authority, and such elements of revolt as revealed themselves in his grief over his rooster were soon stifled in his little heart. He bowed submissively before the powers that be. From the time when he first lisped he had called his parents "Colonel Jinks" and "Mrs. Jinks." His mother had succeeded with great difficulty in substituting the term "Ma" for herself, but she could not make him address his father as anything but "Colonel," and after a time his father grew to like it. No one knew how Sam had acquired the habit; it was simply the expression of an inherently respectful nature. He reverenced his father and loved his father's profession of farmer. His earliest pleasure was to hold the reins and drive "like Colonel Jinks," and his earliest ambition was to become a teamster, that part of the farm work having peculiar attractions for him.
In the afternoon on which we were introduced to the Colonel, Sam was watching on the veranda for his father's return, and was quick to spy the parcel under his arm, and many were the wild guesses he made as to its contents. The Colonel left it carelessly upon the hall table, and Sam could easily have peeped into it, but he would as soon have thought of cutting off his hand.
"What's in that box in the hall, Colonel Jinks?" he asked in an embarrassed voice at supper, as he fingered the edge of the tablecloth and looked blushingly at his plate.
"Oh, that?" replied his father with a wink—"that's a bombshell." And a bombshell indeed it proved to be for the Jinks family.
The box was put upon a table in the room in which little Sam slept with his parents, and he was told that he could have it in the morning. He was a long time going to sleep that night, trying to imagine the contents of the mysterious box. Not until he had quite made up his mind that it was a farmyard did he finally drop off. At the first break of day Sam was out of bed. With bare feet he walked on tiptoe across the cold bare floor and seized the precious box. He lifted the lid at one corner and put in his hand and felt what was there, and tried to guess what it could be. Perhaps it was a Noah's Ark; but no, if those were people there were too many of them. He would have to give it up. He took off the cover and looked in. It was not a farmyard, at any rate, and the corners of his mouth became tremulous from disappointment. No, they were soldiers. But what did he want of soldiers? He had heard of such things, but they had never been anything in his life. He had never seen a real soldier nor heard of a toy-soldier before, and he did not quite know what they were for. He crept back to bed crestfallen, his present in his arms. Sitting up in bed he began to investigate the contents of the box. It was a complete infantry battalion, and beautiful soldiers they were. Their coats were red, their trousers blue, and they wore white helmets and carried muskets with bayonets fixed. Sam began to feel reconciled. He turned the box upside-down and emptied the soldiers upon the counterpane. Then he noticed that they were not all alike. There were some officers, who carried swords instead of rifles. He began to look for them and single them out, when his eye was caught by a magnificent white leaden plume issuing from the helmet of one of them. He picked up this soldier, and the sight of him filled him with delight. He was taller and broader than the rest, his air was more martial—there was something inspiring in the way in which he held his sword. His golden epaulets were a miracle of splendor, but it was the plume, the great white plume, that held the boy enthralled. A ray of light from the morning sun, reflected by the window of the stable, found its way through a chink in the blind and fell just upon this plume. The effect was electric. Sam was fascinated, and he continued to hold the lead soldier so that the dazzling light should fall on it, gazing upon it in an ecstasy.
Sam spent that entire day in the company of his new soldiers,—nothing could drag him away from them. He made his father show him how they should march and form themselves and fight. He drew them up in hollow squares facing outward and in hollow squares facing inward, in column of fours and in line of battle, in double rank and single rank.
"What are the bayonets for, Colonel Jinks?"
"To stick into bad people, Sam."
"And have the bad people bayonets, too?"
"Do they stick their bayonets into good people?"
"Oh, I suppose so. Do stop bothering me. If I'd known you'd ask so many questions, I'd never have got you the soldiers."
His parents thought that a few days would exhaust the boy's devotion to his new toys, but it was not so. He deserted the barnyard for the lead soldiers. They were placed on a chair by his bed at night, and he could not sleep unless his right hand grasped the white-plumed colonel. The smell of the fresh paint as it peeled off on his little fingers clung to his memory through life as the most delicious of odors. He would tease his father to play with the soldiers with him. He would divide the force in two, and one side would defend a fort of blocks and books while the other assaulted. In these games Sam always insisted in having the plumed colonel on his side. Once when Sam's colonel had succeeded in capturing a particularly impregnable fortress on top of an unabridged dictionary his father remarked casually:
"He's quite a hero, isn't he, Sam?"
"A what?" said Sam.
"What is a hero, Colonel Jinks?" And his father explained to him what a hero was, giving several examples from history and fiction. The word took the boy's fancy at once. From that day forward the officer was colonel no longer, he was a "hero," or rather, "the hero." Sam now began to save his pennies for other soldiers, and to beg for more and more as successive birthdays and Christmases came round. He played at soldiers himself, too, coaxing the less warlike children of the neighborhood to join him. But his enthusiasm always left them behind, and they tired much sooner than he did of the sport. He persuaded his mother to make him a uniform something like that of the lead soldiers, and the stores of Homeville were ransacked for drums, swords, and belts and toy-guns. He would stand on guard for hours at the barnyard gate, saluting in the most solemn manner whoever passed, even if it was only a sparrow. The only interest in animals which survived his change of heart was that which he now took in horses as chargers. He would ride the farm-horses bare-back to the trough, holding the halter in one hand and a tin sword in the other with the air of a field-marshal. When strangers tapped him on the cheek and asked him—as is the wont of strangers—"What are you going to be, my boy, when you grow up?" he answered no longer, as he used to do, "A driver, sir," but now invariably, "A hero."
It so happened some two or three years after Sam's mind had begun to follow the paths of warfare that his father and mother took him one day to an anniversary celebration of the Methodist Church at Homeville, and a special parade of the newly organized "John Wesley Boys' Brigade" of the church was one of the features of the occasion. If Mrs. Jinks had anticipated this, she would doubtless have left Sam at home, for she knew that he was already quite sufficiently inclined toward things military; but even she could not help enjoying the boy's unmeasured delight at this, his first experience of militarism in the flesh. The parade was indeed a pretty sight. There were perhaps fifty boys in line, ranging from six to eighteen years of age. Their gray uniforms were quite new and the gilt letters "J.W.B.B." on their caps shone brightly. They marched along with their miniature muskets and fixed bayonets, their chubby, kissable faces all a-smile, as they sang "Onward, Christian Soldiers," with words adapted by their pastor:
"Onward, Christian soldiers, 'Gainst the heathen crew! In the name of Jesus Let us run them through."
By a curious coincidence their captain had a white feather in his cap, suggesting at a considerable distance the plume of the leaden "hero." Sam was overcome with joy. He pulled the "hero" from his pocket (he always carried it about with him) and compared the two warriors. The "hero" was still unique, incomparable, but Sam realized that he was an ideal which might be lived up to, not an impossible dream, not the denizen of an inaccessible heaven. From that day he bent his little energies to the task of removing his family to Homeville.
It is not so much strength as perseverance which moves the world. Colonel Jinks had laid up a competence and had always intended to retire, when he could afford it, to the market town. Among other things, the school facilities would be much better in town than in the country. Mrs. Jinks in a moment of folly took the side of the boy, and, whatever may have been the controlling and predominating cause, the fact is that, when Sam had attained the age of twelve, the Colonel sold the farm and bought one of the best houses in Homeville. Sam at once became a member of the John Wesley Brigade and showed an aptitude for soldiering truly amazing. Before he was fourteen he was captain, and wore, himself, the coveted white feather, and his military duties became the absorbing interest of his life. He thought and spoke of nothing else, and he was universally known in the town as "Captain Jinks," which was often abbreviated to "Cap." No one ever passed boyhood and youth in such congenial surroundings and with such complete satisfaction as "Cap" Jinks of the John Wesley Boys' Brigade.
But our relation to our environments will change, however much pleased we may be with them, and "Cap" Jinks found himself gradually growing too old for his brigade. The younger boys and their parents began to complain that he was unreasonably standing in the way of their promotion, and a fiery mustache gave signs to the world that he was now something more than a boy. Still he could not bring himself to relinquish the uniform and the white plume. A life without military trimmings was not to be thought of, and there was no militia at Homeville. Consequently he remained in the Boys' Brigade as long as he could. When at last he saw that he must resign—he was now two-and-twenty—he felt that there was only one course open to him, and that was to join the army; and he broached this plan to his parents. His mother did not like the idea of giving up her only son to such a profession, but Colonel Jinks took kindly to the suggestion. It would bring a little real militarism into the family and give a kind of ex post facto justification to his ancient title. "Sam, my boy," said he, "you're a chip of the old block. You'll keep up the family tradition and be a colonel like me. I will write to your Uncle George about it to-morrow. He'll get you an appointment to East Point without any trouble. Sam, I'm proud of you."
Uncle George Jinks, the only brother of the Colonel, was a member of Congress from a distant district, who had a good deal of influence with the Administration. The Colonel wrote to him asking for the cadetship and rehearsing at length the young captain's unusual qualifications and his military enthusiasm. A week later he received the answer. His brother informed him that the request could not have come at a more opportune moment, as he had a vacancy to fill and had been on the point of calling a public examination of young men in his district for the purpose of selecting a candidate; but in view of the evident fitness of his nephew, he would alter his plans and offer him the place without further ceremony. He wished only that Sam would do credit to the name of Jinks.
It was on a beautiful day in June that "Cap" Jinks bade farewell to Homeville. The family came out in front of the house, keeping back their tears as best they could at this the first parting; but Sam, tho he loved them well, had no room in his heart for regret. There was a vision of glory beckoning him on which obliterated all other feelings. The Boys' Brigade was drawn up at the side of the road and presented arms as he drove by, and he saw in this the promise of greater things. As he sat on the back seat of the wagon by himself behind the driver, he took from his pocket the old original "hero," the lead officer of his boyhood, and gazed at it smiling. "Now I am to be a real hero," he thought, "and all the world will repeat the name of Sam Jinks and read about his exploits." He put the toy carefully back in his breast pocket. It had become the talisman of his life and the symbol of his ambitions.
The long railway journey to East Point was full of interest to the young traveler, who had never been away from home before. His mind was full of military things, but he saw no uniforms, no arms, no fortifications anywhere. How could people live in such a careless, unnatural fashion? He blushed with shame as he thought to himself that a foreigner might apparently journey through the country from one end to the other without knowing that there was such a thing as a soldier in the land. What a travesty this was on civilization! How baseless the proud boasts of national greatness when only an insignificant and almost invisible few paid any attention to the claims of military glory! The outlook was indeed dismal, but Sam was no pessimist. Obstacles were in his dictionary "things to be removed." "I shall have a hand in changing all this," he muttered aloud. "When I come home a conquering general with the grateful country at my feet, these wretched toilers in the field and at the desk will have learned that there is a nobler activity, and uniforms will spring up like flowers before the sun." Where Sam acquired his command of the English language and his poetic sensibility it would be difficult to say. It is enough to know that these faculties endeavored, not without success, to keep pace with his growing ambition for glory.
Sam's first weeks at East Point were among the happiest in his life. Here, at any rate, military affairs were in the ascendant. His ideal of a country was simply an East Point infinitely enlarged. His neat gray uniform seemed already to transform him into a hero. When he thought of the great soldiers who had been educated at this very place, he felt a proud spirit swelling in his bosom. One night in a lonely part of the parade-ground he solemnly knelt down and kissed the sod. The military cemetery aroused his enthusiasm, and the captured cannon, the names of battles inscribed here and there on the rocks, and the portraits of generals in the mess-hall, all in turn fascinated him. As a new arrival he was treated with scant courtesy and drilled very hard, but he did not care. Tho his squad-fellows were almost overcome with fatigue, he was always sorry when the drill came to an end. He never had enough of marching and counter-marching, of shouldering and ordering arms. Even the "setting-up" exercises filled him with joy. When cavalry drills began he was still more in his element. His old teamster days now stood him in good stead. In a week he could do anything with a horse,—he understood the horse, and the horse trusted him. When he first emerged from the riding-school on horseback in a squadron and took part in a drill on the great parade-ground, he was prouder than ever before. He went through it in a delirium, feeling like a composite photograph of Washington and Napoleon. When the big flag went up in the morning to the top of the towering flag-staff, Sam's spirits went up with it, and they floated there, vibrating, hovering, all day; but when the flag came down at night, Sam did not come down. He was always up, living an ecstatic dream-life in the seventh heaven.
One night as Sam lay in his tent dreaming that he had just won the battle of Waterloo, he heard a voice close to his ears.
"Here is an order for you to report at once up in the woods at old Fort Hut. The password is 'Old Gory'; say that, and the sentinel will let you out of camp. Go along and report to the colonel at once."
"What is it?" cried Sam. "Is it an attack?"
"Very likely," said the voice. "Now wake up your snoring friend there, for he's got to go too. What's his name?"
"Cleary," answered Sam, and he proceeded gently to awaken his tent-mate and break the news to him that the enemy was advancing. It was not easy to rouse the young man, but finally they both succeeded in dressing in the dark, and hastened away between the tents across the most remote sentry beat. They were duly challenged, whispered the countersign, and in a few moments were climbing the rough and thickly wooded hill to the fort.
"I wonder who the enemy is," said Sam.
"Enemy? Nonsense," replied Cleary. "They're going to haze us."
"Haze us? Good heavens!" said Sam. He had heard of hazing before, but he had been living in such a realm of imagination for the past weeks that the gossip had never really reached his consciousness, and now that he was confronted with the reality he hardly knew how to face it.
"Yes," said Cleary, "they're going to haze us, and I wonder why I ever came to this rotten place anyhow."
"Don't, don't say that," cried Sam. "You were at Hale University for a year or two, weren't you? Did they do any hazing there?"
"Not a bit. They stopped it all long ago. The professors there say it isn't manly."
"That can't be true," said Sam, "or they wouldn't do it here. But why has it kept up here when they've stopped it at all the universities?"
"I don't know," said Cleary, "but perhaps it's wearing uniforms. I feel sort of different in a uniform from out of it, don't you?"
"Of course I do," exclaimed Sam. "I feel as if I were walking on air and rising into another plane of being."
"Well—ye-es—perhaps, but I didn't mean that exactly," answered Cleary. "But somehow I feel more like hitting a fellow over the head when I'm in uniform than when I'm not, don't you?"
"I hadn't thought of that," said Sam, "but I really think I do. Do you think they'll hit us over the head?"
"There's no telling. There's Captain Clark of the first class and Saunders of the third who are running the hazing just now, they say, and they're pretty tough chaps."
"Is that Captain Clark with the squeaky voice?" asked Sam.
"Yes, he spoiled it taking tabasco sauce when he was hazed three years ago. They say it took all the mucous membrane off his epiglottis."
There was silence for a time.
"Saunders is that fellow with the crooked nose, isn't he?" asked Sam.
"Yes; when they hazed him last year they made him stand with his nose in the crack of a door until they came back, and they forgot they had left him, and somebody shut the door on his nose by mistake. But he's an awfully plucky chap. He just went on standing there as if nothing had happened."
"Splendid, wasn't it?" cried Sam, beginning to see the heroic possibilities of hazing. "Do you suppose that they have always hazed here?"
"Yes, of course."
"And that General German and General Meriden and all the rest were hazed here just like this?"
"Yes, to be sure."
Sam felt his spirits soaring again.
"Then I wouldn't miss it for anything," said he. "It has always been done and by the greatest men, and it must be the right thing to do. Just think of it. Meriden has walked up this very hill like you and me to be hazed!" There was exultation in his tone.
"Well, I only hope Meriden looked forward to it with greater joy than I do," said Cleary, with a dry laugh. "But here we are."
Before them under the ruined walls of the old redoubt called Fort Hut, stood a small group of cadets, indistinctly lighted by several moving dark-lanterns. While they were still twenty yards away, two men sprang out from behind a tree, grasped them by the arms, tied their elbows behind them, and, leading them off through the woods for a short distance, bound them to a tree out of sight of the rest, and left them there with strict injunctions not to move. It never entered into the head of either of the prisoners that they might disobey this order, and they waited patiently for events to take their course. As far as they could make out by listening, some others of their classmates were already undergoing the ordeal of hazing. They could hear water splashing, suppressed screams and groans, and continual whispering. The light of the lanterns flickered through the trees, now and then illuminating the topmost branches. Presently a man came and sat down near them, and said:
"Don't get impatient. We're nearly ready for you." It was the voice of one of their two captors.
"May I ask you a question, sir?" said Sam.
"Blaze away," responded the man.
"Was General Gramp hazed at this same place, do you know?"
"Yes," said the man. "In this very same place. And while he was waiting he sat on that very log over there."
Sam peered with awe into the darkness.
"May I—do you think I might—just sit on it, too?" asked Sam.
"Certainly," said the cadet affably, untying the rope from the tree and leading Sam over to the log, where he tied him again.
Sam sat down reverently.
"How well preserved the log is," said Sam.
"Yes," said the guard; "of course they wouldn't let it decay. It's a sort of historical monument. They overhaul it every year. Anyway it's ironwood."
Sam thought to himself that perhaps some day the log might be noted as the spot where the great General Jinks sat while awaiting his hazing, and tears of joy rolled softly down over his freckles. He was still lost in this emotion when steps were heard approaching and the lantern-light drew nearer.
"Come, Smith, bring the prisoners in," said the same voice that had waked Sam in his tent. He looked at the speaker and recognized the tall, hatchet-faced, crook-nosed Saunders. Two or three cadets unfastened Sam and Cleary, still, however, leaving their arms bound behind them, and brought them to the open place under the wall where Sam had first seen them. Sam now saw nothing; walking in the steps of Generals Gramp and German, he felt the ecstasy of a Christian martyr. He would not have exchanged his lot with any one in the world. Cleary, however, who possessed a rather mundane spirit, took in the scene. Twenty or thirty cadets were either standing or seated on the ground round a circle which was illuminated by several dark-lanterns placed upon the ground. In the center of the circle were a tub of water, some boards and pieces of rope, and two large baskets whose contents were concealed by a cloth.
"Come, boys," squeaked Captain Clark, a short, thickset fellow who looked much older than the others and who spoke in a peculiar cracked voice. "Come, let's begin by bracing them up."
"Bracing" was a process adopted for the purpose of making the patient assume the position of a soldier, only very much exaggerated—a position which after a few minutes becomes almost intolerable. Cleary and Sam were promptly taken and tied back to back to an upright stake which had escaped their observation. They were tied at the ankle, knee, waist, under the arms, and at the chin and forehead. By tightening these ropes as desired and placing pieces of wood in between, against the back, the hazers made each victim stand with the chest pushed preternaturally forward and the chin and abdomen drawn preternaturally back. Cleary found this position irksome from the start, and soon decidedly painful, but Sam was proof against it. In fact, he had been practising just this position for eight or ten years, and it now came to him naturally. Cleary soon showed marks of discomfort. It was a warm night, and the sweat began to stand out on his forehead. As far as he was concerned the hazing was already a success, but Sam evidently needed something more.
"Here, give me the tabasco bottle," whispered Clark to Smith.
As the latter brought the article from one of the baskets, Sam said to him in a low voice,
"Did General Gramp take it out of that same bottle?"
"Yes," said Smith; "strange to say, it's the very same one, and all through his life afterward he took tabasco three times a day."
Sam rolled his eyes painfully to catch a glimpse of the historic bottle. Clark took it and applied it to Sam's lips. It was red-hot stuff, and the whole audience rose to watch its effect upon the victim at the stake. Sam swallowed it as if it had been lemonade. In fact, he was only aware of the honor that he was receiving. He had only enough earthly consciousness left to notice that one of the cadets in the crowd was photographing him with a kodak, and accordingly he did not even wink.
"By Jove, he's lined with tin," ejaculated Saunders, whose deflected nose gave him a sinister expression. "You ought to have had his plumbing, Clark."
"Shut up and mind your own business," said Clark. "Come, let's give him the tub. This won't do. That other chap's happy enough where he is."
Sam was untied again and led forward to the middle of the ring, the faithful Smith still keeping close to him.
"Is that an old tub?" whispered Sam, still standing stiffly as if his body had permanently taken the "braced" shape.
"I should say so. All the generals were ducked in it. Kneel down there and look in. Do you see that round dent in the middle? That's where General Meriden bumped his head in it. He never did things by halves."
Sam did as he was told, and he felt that he was in a proper attitude upon his knees at such a shrine. To him it was holy water.
"Now, Jinks," squeaked Clark.
"Yes, sir," answered Sam.
"Stand on your head now in that tub, and be quick about it."
Sam fixed his mind upon General Meriden in the same circumstances, drew in his breath, and endeavored to stand on his head in a foot of water, holding on to the rim of the tub with his hands. His legs waved irresolutely in the air with no apparent unity of motive, and bubbles gurgled about his neck and shoulders.
"Grab his legs!" shouted Clark.
Two cadets obeyed the order, and Clark took out his watch to time the ordeal. The instants that passed seemed like an age.
"Isn't time up?" whispered Saunders.
"Shut up, you fool, haven't I got my watch open?" replied Clark. "But, good heavens!" he added, "take him out—I believe my watch has stopped." And he shook it and put it to his ear.
Sam was hauled out and laid on the grass, but he was entirely unconscious. His tormentors were thoroughly scared. Fortunately they had all gone through a course of "first aid to the injured," and they immediately took the proper precautions, holding him up by the feet until the water ran out of his mouth and nose, and then rolling him on the tub and manipulating his arms. At last some faint indications of breathing set in, and they concluded to carry him down to his tent. Using two boards as a stretcher, six of them acted as bearers, and the procession moved toward the camp. Cleary would have been forgotten, had he not asked them to untie him, which they did, and he followed behind, walking most stiffly. As they neared the camp the party separated. Two of the strongest took Sam, whose mind was wandering, to his tent, and Clark made Cleary come and spend the night with him, lest anxiety at Sam's condition might impel him to report the matter to the authorities. How they all got to their tents in safety, and how the password happened to be known to all of them, we must leave it to the officers in command at East Point to explain. Sam was dropped upon his bunk without much consideration. The two cadets waited long enough to make sure that he was breathing, and then they decamped.
"It's really a shame," said Smith to Saunders, who tented with him, before he turned over to sleep; "it's really a shame to leave that fellow there without a doctor, but we'd all get bounced if it got out."
Love and Combat
At reveille the next morning, as the roll was called in the company street, Private Jinks did not answer to his name. They found him in his tent delirious and in a high fever. His pillow was a puddle of water. It was necessary to have him taken to the hospital, and before long he was duly installed there in a small separate room. The captain of his company instituted an inquiry into the causes of his illness and reported that he had undoubtedly fainted away and thrown water over himself to bring himself to. The surgeon in charge of the hospital thereupon certified that this was the case, and in this way bygones officially became bygones. It was late in the afternoon before Sam recovered consciousness. A negro soldier, who had been detailed to act as hospital orderly, was adjusting his bed-clothes, and Sam opened his eyes.
"Gettin' better, Massa Jinks?" said the man, smiling his good will.
"Company Jinks, all present and accounted for," cried Sam, saluting as if he were a first sergeant on parade.
"You're here in de hospital, Massa," said the man, who was known as Mose; "you ain't on parade sure."
Sam looked round inquiringly.
"Is this the hospital?" he asked. "Why am I in the hospital?"
"You've been hurtin' yourself somehow," answered Mose with a low chuckle. "There's lots of fourth-class men hurts themselves. But you'll be all right in a week."
"In a week!" exclaimed Sam. "But I can't skip drills and everything for a week!"
"Now, don't you worry, Massa Jinks. You're pretty lucky. We've had some men here hurted themselves that had to go home for good, and some of 'em, two or three, never got well, and died. But bless you, you'll soon be all right. Doctor said so."
Sam had to get what consolation he could from this. His memory began to come back, and he recalled the beginning of the hazing.
"Is Cadet Cleary in the hospital?" he asked.
"Won't you try to get word to him to come and see me here, if he can?"
"Yes, Massa, I'll try. But they won't always let 'em come. Maybe they'll let him Sunday afternoon."
Sure enough, Cleary succeeded in getting permission to pay Sam a call on Sunday.
"Well, old man, I've got to thank you for letting me out of a lot of trouble," he cried as he clasped Sam's hand and sat down by the bedside.
"Did they duck you, too?" asked Sam. "You must be stronger than I am. It's a shame I couldn't stand it."
"No. When they'd nearly killed you they let me off. Don't you be ashamed of anything. They kept you in there five minutes—I'm not sure it wasn't ten. If you weren't half a fish, you'd never have come to, that's all there is of that. And after you'd drunk all that tabasco, too!"
"Is my voice quite right?" asked Sam.
"Yes, thank fortune, there's no danger of your squeaking like Captain Clark."
"And is my nose quite straight?"
"Yes, of course; why shouldn't it be?"
Sam sighed again.
"I'm afraid," he said, "that no one will know that I've been hazed."
He was silent for a few minutes. Then a smile came over his face.
"Wasn't it grand," he went on, "to think that we were following in the steps of all the great generals of the century! When I put my head into the tub and felt my legs waving in the air, I thought of General Meriden striking his head so manfully against the bottom, and I thanked heaven that I was suffering for my country. I tried to bump my head hard too, and it does ache just a little; but I'm afraid it won't show."
He felt his head with his hand and looked inquiringly at Cleary, but his friend's face gave him no encouragement, and he made no answer.
"I think I saw somebody taking a snap-shot of me up there," said Sam. "Do you think I can get a print of it? I wish you'd see if you can get one for me."
"It's not so easy," said Cleary. "He was a third-class man, and of course we are not allowed to speak to him. They've just divided us fourth-class men up among the rest to do chores for them. My boss is Captain Clark, and he's the only upper-class man I can speak to, and he would knock me down if I asked him about it. You'd better try yourself when you come out."
"Who am I assigned to?" asked Sam.
"To Cadet Smith, and he's a much easier man. You're in luck. But my time's up. Good-by," and Cleary hurried away.
Sam Jinks left the hospital just one week after his admission. He might have stayed a day or two longer, but he insisted that he was well enough and prevailed upon the doctor to let him go. He set to work at once with great energy to make up for lost time and to learn all that had been taught in the week in the way of drilling. The morning after his release, when guard-mounting was over, Cleary told him that Cadet Smith wished to speak to him, and Sam went at once to report to him.
"Jinks," said Smith, when Sam had approached and saluted, "I am going down that path there to the right. Wait till I am out of sight and then follow me down. I don't want any one to see us together."
"All right, sir," said Sam.
When Smith had duly disappeared, Sam followed him and found him awaiting him in a secluded spot by the river. Sam saluted again as he came up to him.
"I suppose you understand, Jinks, that none of us upper-class men can afford to be seen talking to you fourth-class beasts?"
"Of course, it wouldn't do. Don't look at me that way, Jinks. When an upper-class man is polite enough to speak to you, you should look down, and not into his face."
Sam dropped his eyes.
"Now, Jinks, I wanted to tell you that you've been assigned to me to do such work as I want done. I'm going to treat you well, because you seem to be a pretty decent fellow for a beast."
"Thank you, sir," said Sam.
"Yes, you seem disposed to behave as you should, and I don't want to have any trouble with you. All you'll have to do is to see that my boots are blacked every night, keep my shirts and clothes in order, take my things to the wash, clean out my tent, and be somewhere near so that you can come when I call you; do you understand?"
"Oh, then, of course, you must make my bed, and bring water for me, and keep my equipments clean. If there's anything else, I'll tell you. If you don't do everything I tell you, I'll report it to the class committee and you'll have to fight, do you understand?"
"That will do, Jinks; you may go."
"I beg your pardon, sir. May I ask you a question?"
"What?" shouted Smith. "Do you mean to speak to me without being spoken to?"
"I know it's very wrong, sir," said Sam, "but there's something I want very much, and I don't know how else to get it."
"Well, I'll forgive you this time, because I'm an easy-going fellow. If it had been anybody else but me, you'd have got your first fight. What is it? Out with it."
"Please, sir, when I was haz—I mean exercised the other night, I saw somebody taking photographs of it. Do you think I could get copies of them?"
"What do you want them for?" asked Smith suspiciously.
"I'd like to have something to remember it by," said Sam. "I want to be able to show that I did just what Generals Gramp and German did."
Smith smiled. "All right," he replied. "I'll get them for you if I can, and I'll expect you to work all the better for me. Now go."
"Oh, thank you, sir—thank you!" cried Sam; and he went.
That night he and Cleary talked over the situation in whispers as they lay in their bunks.
"I don't like this business at all," said Cleary. "I didn't come to East Point to black boots and make beds. It's a fraud, that's what it is."
"Please don't say that," said Sam. "They've always done it, haven't they?"
"I suppose so."
"Then it must be right. Do you think General Meriden would have done it if it had been wrong? We must learn obedience, mustn't we? That's a soldier's first duty. We must obey, and how could we learn to obey better than by being regular servants?"
"And how about obeying the rules of the post that forbid the whole business, hazing and all?" asked Cleary.
Sam was nonplussed for a moment.
"I'm not a good hand at logic," he said. "Perhaps you can argue me down, but I feel that it's all right. I wouldn't miss this special duty business for anything. It will make me a better soldier and officer."
"Sam," said Cleary, who had now got intimate enough with him to use his Christian name,—"Sam, you were just built for this place, but I'll be hanged if I was."
The summer hastened on to its close, and the first-and third-class men had a continual round of social joys. The hotel on the post was full of pretty girls who doted on uniforms, and there were hops, and balls, and flirtations galore. The "beasts" of the fourth class were shut out from this paradise, but they could not help seeing it, and Sam used his eyes with the rest of them. He had never before seen even at a distance such elegance and luxury. The young women especially, in their gay summer gowns, drew his attention away sometimes even from military affairs. There was a weak spot in his make-up of which he had never before been aware. There was one young woman in particular who caught his eye, a vision of dark hair and black eyes which lived on in his imagination when it had vanished from his external sight. Sam actually fancied that the young woman looked at him with approving eyes, and he was emboldened to look back. It was impossible for social intercourse between a young lady in society and a fourth-class "beast" to go further than this, and at this point their relations stood, but Sam was sure that the maiden liked his looks. It so happened that her most devoted admirer was none other than Cadet Saunders, who was continually hovering about her. Sam was devoured with jealousy. In his low estate he was even unable to find out her name for a long time. He could not speak to upper-class men, and his classmates knew nothing of the gay world above them. However, he discovered at last that she was a Miss Hunter from the West. His informant was a waiter at the hotel whom he waylaid on his way out one night, for cadets were forbidden to enter the hotel.
"I suppose she has her father and mother with her?" Sam suggested.
"Oh, no, sir. She's all alone. She's been here all alone every summer this six years."
"That's strange," said Sam. "Hasn't she a protector?"
"Oh, yes! she has protectors enough. You see, she's always engaged."
"Engaged!" exclaimed the unhappy youth. "How long has she been engaged, and to whom?"
"Why, this time she's only been engaged two weeks," said the waiter, "and it's Cadet Saunders she's engaged to; but don't worry, sir, it's an old story. She's been engaged to a different man every summer for six years, and at first she generally had two men a summer. She began with officers of the first class, two in a year; then she fell off to one in a season; then she dropped to third class; and now she has Mr. Saunders because his nose isn't just right, sir, if I may say so."
Sam hardly knew what to think. The news of her engagement had plunged him into despair, but the information that engagement was with her a temporary matter was decidedly welcome; and even if it were couched in language that could hardly be called flattering, still he was glad to hear it. Sam thanked the waiter and gave him a silver coin which he could ill spare from his pay, but he was satisfied that he had got his money's worth.
Sam ruminated deep and long over this hard-wrung gossip. He could not believe that the object of his dreams was no longer in her first girlhood. There was some mistake. Then it was absurd to suppose that she was reduced to the acceptance of inferior third-class men. How could a waiter understand the charms of Saunders' historical nose? Evidently she had selected him from the whole corps on account of his exploits as an object of hazing. Sam almost wished that Saunders' nose was a blemish, for it would help his chances, but candor obliged him to admit that it was, on the contrary, one of his rival's strong points, and he sighed once again to think that he bore no marks on his own person of the hazing ordeal. All that Sam could do now was to wait. He recognized the fact that no girl with self-respect would speak to a "beast," and he determined to be patient until in another twelvemonth he should have become a full-fledged third-class man himself. The other engagements had proved ephemeral, why not that with Saunders? Fortunately this new sentiment of Sam's did not interfere with his military work. Instead of that it inspired him with new fervor, and he now strove to be a perfect soldier not only for its own sake, but for her sake too.
Meanwhile Saunders began to imagine that Sam looked at his fiancee a little too frequently and long, and he determined to punish him for it. How was this to be done? In his deportment toward the upper-class men Sam was absolutely perfect, and had begun to win golden opinions from instructors and cadets alike. He always did more than was required of him, and did it better than was expected. He treated all upper-class men with profound respect, and he did it without effort because it came natural to him. He never ventured to look them in the eye, and he blushed and stammered when they addressed him. Saunders tried to find a flaw in his behavior so that he might have the matter taken up by the class committee, but there was no flaw to be found. Self-respect prevented him from giving the real reason, his jealousy; besides, it was out of the question to drag in the name of a lady.
One day Saunders, Captain Clark, Smith, and some other cadets were discussing the matter of fourth-class discipline, and the merits of some recent fights which had been ordered between fourth-class men and their seniors for the purpose of punishing the former, when Saunders tried skilfully to lead the conversation round to the case of Sam Jinks.
"There are some fellows in the fourth class that need a little taking down, don't you think so?" he asked.
"If there are, take them down," said Clark laconically. "Who do you mean?"
"Why, there's that Jinks fellow, for instance. He struts about as if he were a major-general."
"He is pretty well set up, that's a fact," said Smith, "but you can't object to that. I must say he does his work for me up to the handle. Look at that for a shine"; and he exhibited one of his boots to the crowd.
"I wonder if he can fight?" said Saunders, changing his tactics. "He's a well-built chap, and I'd like to see what he can do. How can we get him to fight if we can't haul him up for misbehaving?"
"It's easy enough, if he's a gentleman," answered Clark, who was a recognized authority in matters of etiquette.
"How?" asked Saunders.
"Why, all you've got to do is to insult him and then he'll have to fight."
"How would you insult him?" asked Saunders eagerly.
"The best way," said Clark sententiously, "is to call him a hog in public, and then, if he is a gentleman, he will be ready to fight."
"I'll do it," said Saunders. "I'm dying to see that fellow fight. Of course, I don't care to fight him. We can get Starkie to do that, I suppose."
"Yes," said Clark. "We'll select somebody that can handle him and teach him his place, depend on that."
Saunders set out at once to carry out the program. As soon as he found Jinks in a group of fourth-class men, he went up to him, and cried in a loud voice,
"Jinks, you're a hog."
"Yes, sir," said Sam, saluting respectfully.
"Do you hear what I say? you're a wretched hog."
"You're a hog, and if you're a gentleman you'll be ready to fight if you're asked to."
"Yes, sir," responded Sam, as Saunders turned on his heel and walked away. Somehow Clark's plan did not seem to have worked to perfection, but it must be all right, and he hastened to report the affair to his class committee, who promptly determined that Cadet Jinks must fight, and that their classmate Starkie be requested to represent them in the encounter. Starkie weighed at least thirty pounds more than Sam, was considerably taller, had several inches longer reach of arm, and was a practised boxer. Sam had never boxed in his life. These facts seemed to the committee only to enhance the interesting character of the affair.
"We're much obliged to you, Saunders," said the chairman. "You've done just right to call our attention to this matter. These beasts must be taught their place. The only manly way to settle it is by having Starkie fight him. You have acted like a gentleman and a soldier."
The fight was arranged for a Saturday afternoon on the familiar hazing-ground near the old fort. Sam selected Cleary and another classmate for his seconds, and Starkie chose Saunders and Smith.
"Jinks," said Smith in a moment of unwonted affability, "you've got a chance now to distinguish yourself. I'll see that you get fair play. Of course, you'll have to fight to a finish, but you must take your medicine like a man."
"Did General Gramp ever have to fight here?" asked Sam, touching his cap.
"Of course," said Smith, "and on that very ground, too. You don't seem to have read much history."
The prospect of the fight gave Sam intense joy. His sense of glory seemed to obliterate all anticipation of pain. This was his first opportunity to become a real hero. When he was hazed he only had to suffer; now, on the other hand, he was called upon to act. He got Cleary to show him some of the simplest rules of boxing, and he practised what little he could during the three intervening days. He was quite determined to knock Starkie out or die in the attempt.
At four o'clock on the day indicated a crowd of first-and third-class men were collected to see the great event. No fourth-class men were allowed to attend except the two seconds. A ring was formed; Captain Clark was chosen as referee; and the two combatants, stripped to the waist, put on their hard gloves and entered the ring. Starkie eyed his antagonist critically, while Sam with a heavenly smile on his face did not focus his eyes at all, but seemed to be dreaming far away. When the word was given, however, he dashed in and made some desperate lunges at Starkie. It was easy to see in a moment that Sam could do nothing. He could not even reach his opponent, his arms were so much shorter. If Starkie held one of his arms out stiffly, Sam could not get near him and was entirely at his mercy. The third-class man consequently set himself leisurely to work at the task of punishing the unfortunate Jinks. Two or three blows about the face and jaw which started the blood in profusion ended the first round. Sam did not recognize the inevitable result of the fight, and was anxious to begin again. He did not seem to feel any pain from the blows. Two or three rounds had the same result, and Sam became weaker and weaker. At last he could only go into the ring and receive punishment without making an effort to avert it, but he did not flinch.
"Did you ever see such a chap?" said Smith to Saunders. "Let's call the thing off."
"Nonsense," said the latter. "Wait till he's knocked insensible"; and the rest of the spectators expressed their agreement with him.
Just then a sound of marching was heard, and a company of cadets were seen coming up the hill in command of an army officer.
"Hullo, Clark," whispered Smith. "Stop the fight. Here comes old Blair, and he may report us."
"Not much," said Clark. "He'll mind his own business."
The company approached within a few yards of the ring.
"Eyes right!" shouted Captain Blair, and every man in the company turned his eyes away from the assembled crowd, and Blair himself stared into the woods on the other side of the path. The company had almost passed out of sight when Blair's voice was heard again.
"Front!" and the danger of detection had blown over.
After this faint interruption, Sam was brought up once more, pale and bloody, and hardly able to stand. Yet he smiled through the blood. Starkie stood off and gave him his coup de grace, a full blow in the solar plexus, which doubled him up quite unconscious on the ground. Clark declared the fight finished, and the crowd broke up hastily, leaving Cleary and his associate to get Sam away as best they could. They had a pail of water, sponges and towels, and they bathed his face; and after half an hour's work were rewarded by having him open his eyes. In another half-hour he was able to stand, and supporting him on each side, they led him slowly down to the hospital.
"What's the matter?" said the doctor as they entered the office. "Oh! I see. You found him lying bleeding up by Fort Hut, didn't you?"
"Yes, sir," said Cleary.
"He must have fallen down and hit his head against a stone, don't you think so?"
"That's a dangerous place; the pine-needles make it very slippery," said the doctor, as he entered the case in his records. "Here, Mose, put Cadet Jinks to bed."
This time Sam was laid up for two weeks, but he felt amply repaid for this loss of time by a visit from no less a person than Cadet Smith.
"Mind you never tell any one I came here," said Smith, "and treat me just the same when you come out as you did before; but I wanted to tell you you're a brick. I never saw a man stand up to a dressing the way you did, and that's the truth."
Tears of joy rolled down Sam's damaged face.
"I've brought you those photographs of the hazing, too," said Smith with a laugh. And he produced two small prints from his pocket. Sam took them with trembling hands and gazed at them with rapture. One of them represented Cleary and Jinks tied to the stake, apparently about to be burned to death, and Sam was delighted to see the ultra-perfect position which he had assumed. The other photograph had been taken the moment after Sam's immersion in the tub. He could see his hands clutching the rim, while his legs were widely separated in the air.
"It might be General Meriden as well as me," he cried joyously. "Nobody could tell the difference."
"That's so," said Smith.
"I shall always carry them next my heart," said Sam. "How can I thank you enough? I am sorry that I can't black your boots this week."
"Oh! never mind," said Smith magnanimously, looking down at his feet. "Cleary does them pretty well. You'll be out before long."
When Sam was discharged from the hospital the cadet corps had struck camp and gone into barracks for the year. The summer maidens, too, had fled, and East Point soon settled down to the monotony of winter work. Every cadet looked forward already to the next summer: the first class to graduation; the second to the glories of first-class supremacy in camp and ballroom; the third class to their two months' furlough as second-class men; but the fourth class had happier anticipations than any of the rest, for they were to be transformed in June from "beasts" into men, into real third-class cadets, with all the rights and privileges of human beings. Sam's dream was also irradiated with the hope of winning the affections of the fair Miss Hunter, to whom he had never addressed a word, but of whose interest he felt assured. He did not know where the assurance came from, but he had little fear of Saunders now. Next summer Saunders would be away on leave, anyhow. Sam knew, if no one else did, that he had actually fought for the hand of Miss Hunter; and, tho he had been defeated, had not Smith admitted that his defeat was a practical victory? He felt that he had won Miss Hunter's hand in mortal combat, and he dismissed from his mind all doubt on the subject.
War and Business
Marian Hunter was, as we have already surmised, a lady of experience. She was possessed, as is not uncommonly the case with young ladies at East Point, of an uncontrollable passion for things military. Manhood and brass buttons were with her interconvertible terms, and the idea of uniting her young life to a plain civilian seemed to her nothing less than shocking. The pleasures of her first two or three summers at East Point and of her first half-dozen engagements had partaken of the bliss of heaven. The engagements had never been broken off, they had simply dissolved one into the other, and she had felt herself rising from step to step in happiness. Naturally her conquests filled her with a supreme confidence in her charms. She was not especially fickle by nature, but she discovered that a first-class cadet, particularly if he was an officer and had black feathers in his full-dress hat, was far more attractive to think of than a supernumerary second lieutenant assigned to duty in some Western garrison. Gradually, however, she found herself less certain of winning whom she would. The competition of young girls some two or three years her junior became threatening. She was obliged to give up cadet officers for privates, and then first-class privates for third-class privates, as the hotel waiter had explained to Sam. At the time of Sam's arrival at the Point she was having more difficulty than ever before, and she became thoroughly frightened. She took up with Saunders because he alone came her way, but the engagement was a poor makeshift, and she could not get up any enthusiasm over it. She could hardly pretend to be in love with him, and she felt conscious that she had a foolish prejudice in favor of straight noses. What was she to do? If she was to marry at all in the army—and how could she marry anywhere else?—she must soon make up her mind. Her experience now stood her in good stead. Had she not seen these very first-class cadet officers only three years before as mere despised "beasts," doing all kinds of drudgery for their oppressors? Had she not seen her fiance, Saunders, himself, a short twelvemonth ago, with nose intact, slinking like a pariah about the post? She had learned the lesson which the younger girls had yet to learn, that from these unpromising chrysalises the most gorgeous butterflies emerge, and like a wise woman she began to study the fourth class. Sam stood out from his fellows, not indeed as supremely handsome, altho he was not bad-looking, but rather as the soldier par excellence of his class. Marian was an expert in judging the points of a soldier, and she saw at once that he was the coming man. She could not make his acquaintance or speak to him, but she could smile and thus lay the foundations of success for next year. It would be easy thus to reach the heart of a lonely "beast." And she smiled to a purpose, and it was that smile that won the untried affections of Sam Jinks.
When June at last came and the new fourth-class men began to arrive, Sam felt a new life surge into his soul. For a year he had been duly meek and humble, for such it behooved a fourth-class man to be. Now, however, he began to entertain a measureless pride, such being the proper frame of mind of a man in the upper classes. He watched the hotel sedulously to learn when Miss Hunter had made her appearance. One morning he saw her, and she smiled more distinctly than ever. He knew that his felicity was only a short way off. He must wait two weeks until the graduation ball and the departure of the old first class; then he could undertake to supplant the absent Saunders, who probably knew the history of Miss Hunter and was not unprepared for his fate.
Meanwhile great events had occurred, and thrown East Point into a state of excitement. The country was at war. Congress had determined to free the downtrodden inhabitants of the Cubapine Islands from the tyranny of the ancient Castalian monarchy. A call for volunteers had been issued, and the graduating cadets were to be hurried to the seat of war. During this agitation news arrived of a great naval victory. The mighty Castalian fleet had been annihilated with great loss of life, while the conquerors had not lost a man and had scarcely interrupted their breakfast in order to secure this crushing triumph. It was in the midst of such reports as these that the susceptible hearts of Sam Jinks and Marian Hunter came together. The graduating class had gone, and Sam had for two days been a full third-class man. For the first time he had occupied the front rank at dress-parade, and seen clearly the officer in command, the adjutant flitting about magnificently, the band parading up and down and turning itself inside out around the towering drum-major, the line of spectators behind, the bright faces and gay parasols, and among them the black eyes of Marian looking unmistakably at him. When at the end of the parade the company officers marched up to salute and the companies were dismissed, Sam saw a member of the new first class talking to her. He was now on an equality with all the cadets, and he boldly advanced and asked for an introduction. At last he had her hand in his, and as he pressed it rather harder than the occasion warranted, he felt his pressure returned. Sam's fate was sealed. He made no formal proposal, it was unnecessary. The engagement was a thing taken for granted. It was a novel experience for Marian as well as for Sam, as now for the first time she meant business. It is impossible in cold ink to reproduce the ecstasies of those many hours on Flirtation Walk, during which Sam opened his heart. For the first time in his life he had found a person as deeply interested in military matters as he was, and as much in love with military glory. He told her his whole history, including the lead soldiers and the Boys' Brigade. He laid bare to her his ambition to be a perfect soldier—a hero. He told her how disappointed he was to find no other cadet so completely wrapped up in his profession as he was, and how in her alone he had now realized his ideal not only of womanhood, but also of appreciation of the soldier's career. He rehearsed the thrilling experiences of hazing, and went over the fight in detail and told her how Saunders had brought it about.
"The horrid wretch!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms about his neck and kissing him. "I'm so glad they didn't break your nose."
"Are you really?" he asked, and as he read the truth in her eyes a weight was rolled from his soul.
He showed her the little lead officer with the plume, which he always carried as a mascot in his breast-pocket, and also the two hazing photographs which kept it company. She was delighted with them all.
"Oh! you will be a hero," she cried. "I am sure of it, and what a time we shall have of it, you dear thing!"
With his spare time thus occupied Sam did not see much of Cleary, who now shared another tent. One afternoon late in September he was on the way to the gate of the hotel grounds where he was accustomed to wait until Miss Hunter came out and joined him, when Cleary called him aside.
"Sam," he said, "I've got something of importance to say to you. Can't you come with me now?"
"Can't," said Sam. "Miss Hunter's waiting for me."
"Well, then, beg off to-morrow afternoon. I must have a long talk with you."
"All right," answered Sam reluctantly. "If I must, I must, I suppose."
The next day found Sam and Cleary walking alone in the woods engaged in deep conversation.
"Sam, what would you say to going to the war?" asked Cleary.
"I'd give anything to go!" exclaimed Sam.
"You wouldn't want to stay on account of that girl of yours?"
"No, indeed; she would be the first to want me to go."
"Then why don't you go?"
"How can I?" said Sam. "We've got three more years here. That ties us down for that time, and by the time that's over the war will be over too."
"That's what I think, and I'm sick of this place anyhow. I'm going to resign."
"Resign!" cried Sam. "Resign and give up your career!"
"Not altogether, old man. Don't get so excited. What's the use of staying here? We'll get sent off to some out-of-the-way post when we graduate, and perhaps we'll get to be captains before our hair is white, and perhaps we shan't; and then if a war breaks out we'll have volunteers young enough to be our sons made brigadiers over our heads. Aren't they doing it every day? I'm not going to waste my life that way. I want to go to the war now, and I mean to go as a newspaper correspondent."
"Oh, Cleary!" exclaimed Sam reproachfully.
"Tut, tut, Sam. You're not up to date. We've got no field-marshals in our army and the newspaper correspondents take their place. Their names are better known than the generals, and they advertise each other and get a big share of the glory; and then they can always decently step aside when they've got enough. They needn't stay on the fighting-line, and that's a consideration. No, I'm sick of ordinary soldiering, but I'm willing to be a field-marshal. My father has an interest in the Metropolitan Daily Lyre, and I've written to him for an appointment as correspondent in the Cubapines. What I've learned here will help me a lot. But I want you to go with me."
"Me? Go with you? Do you think I'd be a newspaper correspondent?"
"No, of course not. It never entered my head. But why don't you get a commission in the volunteers from your uncle? He can get just what he wants, and they're talking of him for Secretary of War. All you've got to do is to resign here and apply for a commission as colonel. Then you'll probably land as a major, or a captain at any rate. By the time the war is over, you'll be a general, if I know you, and then you can be appointed captain in the regular army on retiring from the volunteers, when our class is just graduating. You're just made for a successful soldier. You've got the ambition and the courage, and you've got just the brains for a soldier. You don't want to remain a lieutenant until you are fifty, do you?"
There was great force in Cleary's argument, and Sam knew it. East Pointers were scandalized at the manner in which outsiders were jumped into important commands in the field, and when engagements took place the volunteers came in for all the praise, while the regulars who did almost all the work were hardly mentioned.
"I'll think it over," said Sam. "I'll speak to Marian about it. It's very kind of you to think of me."
"Not a bit," said Cleary. "I'm looking out for myself. If you go as a major and I go as correspondent, I'll just freeze to you and make a hero of you whether you will or not. I'll make your fortune, and you'll make mine. I'll see that you get a chance, and I know that you'll take it if you get it. You're just cut out for it. Now get permission from the young woman and we'll call it a go."
The following afternoon Sam walked over the same ground, but this time it was Marian who accompanied him. She was enthusiastic over Cleary's proposition.
"Just think of it! You'll come back a hero and a general, and I don't know what not, and we'll get married, and the President will come to the wedding; and then we'll have our wedding tour up here, and the corps will turn out and fire a salute, and we'll be the biggest people at East Point. Won't it be splendid?"
"Perhaps, dear, I'll never come back at all. Who knows? I may get killed."
"Oh, Sam! if you did, how proud I'd be of it. I'd wear black for a whole year, and they'd put up a monument to you over there in the cemetery and have a grand funeral, and I'd be in the first carriage, and the flag would be draped, and the band would play the funeral march. Oh, dear! how grand it would be, and how all the girls would envy me!"
Tears came to her eyes as she spoke.
"Just think of being the fiancee of a hero who died for his country! Oh, Sam, Sam!"
Sam took her in his arms.
"You're my own brave soldier's wife," he said. "I'd be almost ready to die for you, but if I don't, I'll come back and marry you. I'll write to uncle for a commission to-night, and ask his advice about resigning here either now or later. It hardly seems true that I may really go to a real war." And his tears fell and mingled with hers.
Sam's uncle fell in readily with Cleary's scheme. He was a politician and a man of the world, and he saw what an advantage it would be for his nephew to seek promotion in the volunteers, and how much a close friend among the war correspondents could help him. Furthermore, he had heard of Sam's excellent record at East Point and was disposed to lend him what aid could be derived from his influence with the Administration. When Sam's father learned that his brother approved of the project, he offered no objection, and a few weeks after Cleary had broached the subject, both of the young men sent in their resignations, and these were accepted. Cleary left at once for the metropolis to perfect his plans, while Sam remained for a few days at the Point to bid farewell to his betrothed. His uncle had at once sent in his name to the War Department as a candidate for colonel of volunteers with letters of recommendation from the most influential men at the Capital. While Sam was still at East Point he saw in the daily paper that his name had been sent in to the Senate as captain of volunteers with a long list of others, and almost immediately he received a telegram from his uncle announcing his confirmation without question. On the same morning came a letter from Cleary telling him to come at once to town and make the final arrangements before receiving orders to join his regiment. We shall draw a veil over the last interview between Sam and Marian. She was proficient in the art of saying farewell, and nothing was lacking on this occasion to contribute to its romantic effect. They parted in tears, but they were tears of hope and joy.
Cleary met Sam at the station in the city and took him to a modest hotel.
"It's going to be bigger thing than I thought," he said, as they sat down together for a good talk in the hotel lobby, after Sam had made himself at home in his room. "I'm going to run a whole combination. I've got in with a man who's a real genius. His name's Jonas. He represents the brewers' trust, and he's going out to start saloons with chattel mortgages on the fixtures. It's a big thing by itself. But then besides that he's got orders to apply for street-railroad franchises wherever he can get them, and he is going to start agencies to sell typewriters and bicycles and some patent medicines, and I don't know what else. You see he wanted to represent the Consolidated Press as a sort of business agent, and The Daily Lyre belongs to the Consolidated, and that's the way I came across him. The fact is he represents pretty much all the capital in the country. It's a big combination. I'll boom him and you, and you'll help us, and then we can get in on the ground floor with him in anything we like. It's a good outlook, isn't it, hey? Have you got your commission yet?"
"No," said Sam, "not yet. My uncle wants me to come and spend a few days with him at Slowburgh to make my acquaintance, and the commission will go there. I'm to be in the 200th Volunteer Infantry. I don't quite understand all your plans, but I hope I'll get a chance at real fighting for our country, and I should like to be a great soldier. You know that, Cleary."
"Yes, old man, I know it, and you will be, if courage and newspapers can do it. I'm sorry you didn't get a colonelcy, but captain isn't bad, and we'll skip you up to general in no time. You've always wanted to be a hero, haven't you? Well, the first chance I get I'll nickname you 'Hero' Jinks, and it'll stick, I'll answer for it!"
"Oh! thank you," said Sam.
"Now, good-by. I'll come in for you to-morrow and take you in to see our war editor. He's a daisy. So long."
When on the morrow Sam was ushered into the den of the war editor, he was surprised to see what a shabby room it was. The great man was sitting at a desk which was almost hidden under piles of papers, letters, telegrams, and memoranda. The chairs in the room were equally encumbered, and he had to empty the contents of two of them on the floor before Sam and Cleary could sit down.
"Ah, Captain Jinks, glad to see you!" he said.
Sam beamed with delight. It was the first time that he had heard his new title—a title, in fact, to which he had as yet no right.
"I suppose Mr. Cleary has explained to you," the editor continued, "what our designs are. Editing isn't what it used to be. It has become a very complicated business. In old times we took the news as it came along, and that was all that was expected of us; but if we tried that way of doing things now, we'd have to shut up shop in a week. When we need news nowadays we simply make it. I don't mean that we invent news—that doesn't pay in the long run; people learn your game and you lose in the end. No, I mean that we create the events that make the news. We were running short of news last year, that's the whole truth of it; and so we got up this war. It's been a complete success. We've quadrupled our circulation, and it's doubling every month. We're well ahead of the other papers because it's known as our war, and of course we are expected to know more about it than anybody else."
"But I thought the war was to free the oppressed Cubapinos—an outburst of popular sympathy with the downtrodden sufferers from Castalian misrule," interposed Sam, flushing. "That's the reason why I applied for a commission, and I am ready to pour out my last drop of blood for my country."
"Of course you are, my dear captain; of course you are. And your ideas of the cause of the war, as a military man, are quite correct. Indeed, if you will read my editorial of yesterday you will see the same ideas developed at some length."
He pressed an electric button on his desk, and a clerk entered.
"Get me a copy of yesterday's paper."
In a moment it was brought; the editor opened it, marked an article with a dash of his blue pencil, and handed it to Sam.
"There," said he, "put that in your pocket and read it. I am sure that you will agree with every word of it. Your understanding of the situation does great credit to your insight. That is, if I may use the term, the esoteric side of the question. It is only on the external and material side that it is really a Daily Lyre's war. There's really no contradiction, none at all, as you see."
"Oh! none at all," said Sam, with a sigh of relief. "I never quite understood it before, and you make it all so clear!"
"Now you will be prepared by what I have said to comprehend that it's just in this line of creating the news beforehand that we want to make use of you, and at the same time it will be the making of you, do you see?"
"Not quite," said Sam. "How do you mean?"
"Why, we understand that you're a most promising military man and that you intend to distinguish yourself. Suppose you do, what good will it do, if nobody ever hears of it? Doesn't your idea of heroism include a certain degree of appreciation?"
"Of publicity, I may say?"
Sam nodded assent.
"Or even in plain newspaper talk, of advertising?"
"I shouldn't quite like to be advertised," said Sam uneasily.
"That's a rather blunt word, I confess; but when you do some fine exploit, you wouldn't mind seeing it printed in full in the papers that the people at home read, would you?"
"No-o-o, not exactly; but then I should only want you to tell the truth about it."
"Of course; I know that, but there are lots of ways of telling the truth. We might put it in at the bottom of an inside page and give only a stick to it, or we might let it have the whole first page here, with your portrait at the top and headlines like that"; and he showed him a title in letters six inches long. "You'd prefer that, wouldn't you?"
"I'm afraid I would," said Sam.
"Well, if you didn't you'd be a blamed fool, that's all I've got to say, and we wouldn't care to bother about you."
"I'm sure it's very good of you to take me up," said Sam. "Why do you select me instead of one of the great generals at the front?"
"Why, don't you see? You wouldn't make a practical newspaper man. The people are half tired of the names of the generals already. They want some new names. It's our business to provide them. Then all the other newspapers are on the track of the generals. We must have a little hero of our own. When General Laughter or General Notice do anything, all the press of the country have got hold of them. They've got their photographs in every possible attitude and their biographies down to the last detail, and pictures of their birthplaces and of their families and ancestors, and all the rest of it. We simply can't get ahead of them, and people are beginning to think that it's not our war after all. When we begin to boom you, they'll find out that we've got a mortgage on it yet. We'll have the stuff all ready here to fire off, and no one else will have a word. It'll be the greatest beat yet, unless Mr. Cleary is mistaken in you and you are not going to distinguish yourself."
"I don't think he is mistaken," said Sam solemnly. "I do intend to distinguish myself if I get the chance."
"And we'll see that you have the chance. It's a big game we're playing, but we hold the cards and we don't often lose. You're not the only card, to be sure. We've got a lot of men at the front now representing us. Several of our correspondents have made a hit already, and some of them have made themselves more famous than the generals! Ha, ha! Our head editor is going out next month, and of course we'll see to it that he does wonders. Hullo! there's Jonas now. Why, this is a lucky meeting. Here, Jonas. You know Cleary. Mr. Jonas, Captain Jinks. I'll be blessed if here isn't the whole combination."
Mr. Jonas, who had come into the room unannounced, and perched himself on the corner of a table, was a rather short man with a brown beard and eye-glasses, and wore his hat on the back of his head.
"Well, Jonas, how are things going?" asked the editor.
"A 1. Couldn't be better. I've just been down at Skinner's——"
"Skinner & Company, one of the biggest financial houses in the street," the editor explained to Sam.
"And they've agreed to go the whole job. First of all, it'll be chiefly trade. I showed them the contracts for boots and hats for the army, and they were tickled to death. They'll let us have as much as we want on them. I didn't have the embalmed-beef contract with me—it smells too bad to carry round in my pocket, hee-hee!—but I explained it to them, and it's even better. They're quite satisfied."
"And how is the beer business going?"
"Oh! that's a success already. Look at this item," and he pulled a newspaper from his pocket and showed it to the editor.
"One hundred more saloons in Havilla than there were at this time last year! Can that be possible?" ejaculated the latter.
"Yes, and I'm behind fifty-eight of them. That agent I sent out ahead is a jewel."
"Have you been up at the Bible Society?"
"Yes, and I've got special terms on a hundred thousand Testaments in Castalian and the native languages. That will awaken interest, you see, and then we'll follow it up with five hundred thousand in English, and it will do no end of good in pushing the language. It will be made the official language soon, anyway. What a blessing it will be to those poor creatures who speak languages that nobody can understand!"
"How is the rifle deal coming out?"
"Only so-so. The Government will take about three-quarters of the lot. The rest we'll have to unload on the Cubapinos."
"What!" exclaimed Sam, "aren't they fighting against us now?"
"Oh! we don't sell them direct of course," added Jonas, "but we can't alter the laws of trade, can we? And they require that things get into the hands of the people who'll pay the most for them, hey?"
"Naturally," said the editor. "Captain Jinks has not studied political economy. It's all a matter of supply and demand."
"I'm ashamed to say I haven't," said Sam. "It must be very interesting, and I'm much obliged to you for telling me about it."
"I suppose it's too early to do anything definite about concessions for trolleys and gas and electric-lighting plants," said the editor.
"Not a bit of it. That's what I went to see Skinner about to-day. I'm sounding some of the chief natives already, and our people there are all right. Skinner's lawyers are at work at the charters, and I'll take them out with me. We can put them through as soon as we annex the islands."
"But we promised not to annex them!" cried Sam.
The editor and Jonas looked knowingly at each other.
"The captain is not a diplomatist, you see," said the former. "As for that matter, a soldier oughtn't to be. You understand, Captain, that all promises are made subject to the proviso that we are able to carry them out."
"Now it's perfectly clear that we can never fulfil this promise. It is our destiny to stay there. It would be flying in the face of Providence and doing the greatest injury to the natives to abandon them. They would fly at each other's throats the moment we left them alone."
"They haven't flown at each other's throats where we have left them alone," mused Sam aloud.
"I didn't say they had, but that they would," explained the editor.
"Oh! I see," said Sam, and he relapsed into silence.
"Talking of electric lights," continued Jonas, "I've got a book here full of all sorts of electric things that we'll have to introduce there. There's the electrocution chair; look at that design. They garrote people in the most barbarous manner out there now. We'll civilize them, if we get a chance!"
"Perhaps they won't have the money to buy all your things," remarked Cleary, who had been a silent and interested spectator of the interview.
"Yes," said Jonas, "we may have trouble with the poorest tribes. We must make them want things, that's all. The best way to begin is to tax them. I've got a plan ready for a hut-tax of five dollars a year. That's little enough, I should think, but some of them never see money and they'll have to work to get it. That will make them work the coal-and iron-mines. Skinner has his eye on these, too. When the natives once begin to earn money, they'll soon want more and then they'll spend it on us."
"But the Government there will be too poor to take up great public expenditures for a long time yet," said Cleary.
"Don't be too sure of that. They haven't even got a national debt. That's one of the first things we'll provide for. They're a most primitive people. Just think of their existing up to the present time without a national debt! They're mere savages."
"Well," said Cleary, rising, "I think we've taken enough of your valuable time and we must be off."
"Wait a moment," said the editor. "Have you explained all that I told you to the captain?"
"Not yet," answered Cleary, "but I'll do it now on the way to his hotel. He is going to leave town to-day, and he may be ordered to sail any day now. I will try to go on the same ship with him."
"Perhaps I can manage it, too," said Jonas, as he shook hands with the two friends, "if I can finish up all these arrangements. I must be on the ground there as soon as I can."
As Sam and Cleary left the room the editor and Jonas settled down to a confidential conversation, and there were smiles upon their lips as they began talking.
While Sam accepted the explanations of the editor and Jonas as expressions of wisdom from men who had had a far wider experience than his, he had some faint misgivings as to some of the business enterprises in which his new friends were embarked, and he hinted as much to Cleary.
"Some of those things do sound rather strange," answered Cleary, as they walked away, "but you must look at the world in a broad way. Is our civilization better than that of the Cubapinos?"
"Well, then, we must be conferring a favor upon them by giving it to them. We can't slice it up and give them only the plums. That would be ridiculous. They must take us for better and worse. In fact, I think we should be guilty of hypocrisy if we pretended to be better than we are. Suppose we gave them a better civilization than we've got, shouldn't we be open to the charge of misrepresentation?"
"That's true," said Sam. "I didn't think of that.
"Yes," Cleary went on; "at first I had some doubts about that saloon business particularly, but the more you think of it, the more you see that it's our duty to introduce them there. It's all a part of our civilization."
"So it is," said Sam. "And then people have always done things that way, haven't they?"
"Yes, of course they have."
"Then it must be all right. What right have we to criticize the doings of people so much wiser than we are? I think you are quite right. As a correspondent you ought to be satisfied that you are doing the right thing. To me as a soldier it's a matter of no importance anyway, because a soldier only does what he's told, but you as a civilian have to think, I suppose, and I'm glad you're satisfied and can make such a conclusive case of it. What was it that the editor wanted you to tell me?"
"Oh! yes. I came near forgetting. You see what a lot they're going to do for us; now we must help them all we can. They want you to leave behind with them all the material about yourself that you can get together. You must get photographed at Slowburgh in a lot of different positions, and in your cadet uniform and your volunteer rig when you get it. Then you must let them have all your earlier photos if you can. 'Hero Jinks as an infant in arms,' 'Hero Jinks in his baby-carriage,' 'Hero Jinks as a schoolboy'—what a fine series it would make! You know what I mean. Then you must write your biography and your opinions about things in general, and give the addresses of all your friends and relations so that they can all be interviewed when the time comes. You'll do it, won't you? It's the up-to-date way of doing things, and it's the only way to be a military success."
"If it's the proper way of doing things I'll do it," said Sam.
"That's a good fellow! I'll send you a list of questions to answer and coach you as well as I can. I'm dying to get off and have this thing started. Isn't Jonas great? He's got just my ideas, only bigger. You see, he explained to me that in this country trusts have grown up with great difficulty, and it was hard work to establish the benefits which they produce for the public. They were fought at every step. But in the Cubapines we have a clean field, and by getting the Government monopoly whenever we want it, we can found one big trust and do ever so much good. I half wish I were a Cubapino, they're going to be benefited so, and without doing anything to deserve it either. Some people are born lucky."
"I can't quite follow all those business plans," said Sam. "My head isn't trained to it; but I'm glad we're going to do good there, and if I can do something great to bring it about, it will give me real happiness."
"It will, old man, it will. I'm sure of it," cried Cleary, as he took his leave of Sam in front of the hotel. "Let me know what steamer you're going by as soon as you get orders, and I'll try to manage it to get a passage on her too. They often carry newspaper men on our transports."
On the following day Sam went to visit his uncle at Slowburgh, a small sea-port of some four thousand inhabitants lying several miles away from the railroad. The journey in the train occupied six hours or more, and Sam spent the time in learning the Castalian language in a handbook he had bought in town. He had already taken lessons in the language at East Point and was beginning to be fairly proficient. He alighted at the nearest station to Slowburgh and entered the rather shabby omnibus which was standing waiting. Sam felt lonely. There was nothing military about the station and no uniform in sight. He no longer wore a uniform himself, and the landscape was painfully civilian. Finally the horses started and the 'bus moved slowly up the road. Sam was impatient. His fellow countrymen were risking their lives thousands of miles away, and here he was, creeping along a country road in the disguise of a private citizen, far away from the post of duty and danger. He looked with disgust at the plowmen in the fields busily engaged in preparing the soil for next year's grain.