J. T. TROWBRIDGE
NEW YORK HURST & COMPANY PUBLISHERS
J. T. TROWBRIDGE SERIES UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME By J. T. TROWBRIDGE
Coupon Bonds. Cudjo's Cave. Drummer Boy, The. Martin Merryvale, His X Mark. Lucy Arlyn. Father Bright Hopes. Neighbor Jackwood. Three Scouts, The.
Price, postpaid, 50c. each, or any three books for $1.25
HURST & COMPANY Publishers, New York
I. Frank at Home 5
II. Off to the War 12
III. Under Canvas 21
IV. The old Drummer and the new Drum 32
V. Fun in Camp 41
VI. Breaking Camp 51
VII. Through Boston 59
VIII. Annapolis 71
IX. Thanksgiving in Camp 81
X. Frank's Progress 89
XI. A Christmas Frolic 93
XII. The Secessionist's Turkeys 105
XIII. The Expedition Moves 118
XIV. The Voyage and the Storm 125
XV. Hatterns Inlet 134
XVI. How Frank lost his Watch 143
XVII. In which Frank sees strange Things 151
XVIII. Bitter Things 161
XIX. Seth gets "Riled" 170
XX. Sunday before the Battle 178
XXI. Up the Sound 187
XXII. The Attack of the Gunboats 194
XXIII. The Troops disembark.—The Island 201
XXIV. The Bivouac 206
XXV. Atwater 212
XXVI. Old Sinjin 219
XXVII. The Skirmish 225
XXVII. Jack Winch's Catastrophe 231
XXIX. How Frank got News of his Brother 238
XXX. The Boys meet an old Acquaintance 248
XXXI. "Victory or Death!" 255
XXXII. After the Battle 261
XXXIII. A Friend in need 268
XXXIV. The Hospital 273
XXXV. Conclusion 279
FRANK MANLY, THE DRUMMER BOY.
FRANK AT HOME.
One evening, in the month of October, 1861, the Manly family were gathered together in their little sitting-room, discussing a question of the most serious importance to all of them, and to Frank in particular. Mrs. Manly sat by the table, pretending to sew; but now and then the tears rushed into her eyes, and dropped upon her work, in spite of all she could do to keep them back. Frank watched her with a swelling breast, sorry to see his mother so grieved, and yet glad in one little corner of his heart; for, although she had declared that she could not think of granting his request, he knew well, by those tears of hers, that she was already thinking of granting it.
"A pretty soldier you'll make, Frank!" said Helen, his elder sister, laughing at his ambition. "You never fired a gun in your life; and if you should see a rebel, you wouldn't know which end of the gun to point at him, you'd be so frightened."
"Yes, I know it," retorted Frank, stoutly, determined not to be dissuaded from his purpose either by entreaties or ridicule; "and for that reason I am going to enlist as a drummer boy."
"Well," exclaimed Helen, "your hands will tremble so, no doubt you can roll the drumsticks admirably."
"Yes, to be sure," replied Frank, with a meaning smile; for he thought within himself, "If she really thinks I am such a coward, never mind; she'll learn better some day."
"O, don't go to war, dear Frank," pleaded, in a low, sweet voice, his younger sister, little Hattie, the invalid, who lay upon the lounge, listening with painful interest to the conversation; "do, brother, stay at home with me."
That affectionate appeal touched the boy's heart more deeply than his mother's tears, his elder sister's ridicule, and his father's opposition, all combined. He knelt down by little Hattie's side, put his arms about her neck, and kissed her.
"But somebody must go and fight, little sister," he said, as soon as he could choke back his tears. "The rebels are trying to overthrow the government; and you wouldn't keep me at home—would you?—when it needs the services of every true patriot?"
"Which of the newspapers did you get that speech out of?" asked Helen. "If Jeff Davis could hear you, I think he'd give up the Confederacy at once. He would say, 'It's no use, since Young America has spoken.'"
"Yes; like the coon in the tree, when he saw Colonel Crockett taking aim at him," added Frank: "says the coon, 'Don't shoot! If it's you, colonel, I'll come down!' And I tell ye," cried the boy, enthusiastically, "there's something besides a joke in it. Jeff'll be glad to come down out of his tree, before we hang him on it."
"But if you go to war, Frank," exclaimed the little invalid, from her pillow, "you will be shot."
"I expect to be shot at a few times," he replied; "but every man that's shot at isn't shot, sissy; and every man that's shot isn't killed; and every man that's killed isn't dead—if what the Bible says is true."
"O my son," said Mrs. Manly, regarding him with affectionate earnestness, "do you know what you say? have you considered it well?"
"Yes," said Frank, "I've thought it all over. It hasn't been out of my thoughts, day or night, this ever so long; though I was determined not to open my lips about it to any one, till my mind was made up. I know five or six that have enlisted, and I'm just as well able to serve my country as any of them. I believe I can go through all the hardships any of them can. And though Helen laughs at me now for a coward, before I've been in a fight, she won't laugh at me afterwards." But here the lad's voice broke, and he dashed a tear from his eye.
"No, no, Frank," said Helen, remorsefully, thinking suddenly of those whose brothers have gone forth bravely to battle, and never come home again. And she saw in imagination her own dear, brave, loving brother carried bleeding from the field, his bright, handsome face deathly pale, the eyes that now beamed so hopefully and tenderly, closing—perhaps forever. "Forgive my jokes, Frank; but you are too young to go to war. We have lost one brother by secession, and we can't afford to lose another."
She alluded to George, the oldest of the children, who had been several years in the Carolinas; who had married a wife there, and become a slave-owner; and who, when the war broke out, forgot his native north, and the free institutions under which he had been bred, to side with the south and slavery. This had proved a source of deep grief to his parents; not because the pecuniary support they had derived from him, up to the fall of Fort Sumter, was now cut off, greatly to their distress,—for they were poor,—but because, when he saw the Union flag fall at Charleston, he had written home that it was a glorious sight; and they knew that the love of his wife, and the love of his property, had made him a traitor to his country.
"If I've a brother enlisted on the wrong side," said Frank, "so much the more reason that I should enlist on the right side. And I am not so young but that I can be doing something for my country, and something for you here at home, at the same time. If I volunteer, you will be allowed state aid, and I mean to send home all my pay, to the last dollar. I wish you would tell me, father, that I can have your consent."
Mr. Manly sat in his easy-chair, with his legs crossed, his hands pressed together, and his head sunk upon his breast. For a long time he had not spoken. He was a feeble man, who had not succeeded well in the business of life; his great fault being that he always relied too much upon others, and not enough upon himself. The result was, that his wife had become more the head of the family than he was, and every important question of this kind, as Frank well knew, was referred to her for decision.
"O, I don't know, I don't know, my son," Mr. Manly groaned; and, uncrossing his legs, he crossed them again in another posture. "I have said all I can; now you must talk with your mother."
"There, mother," said Frank, who had got the answer he expected, and now proceeded to make good use of it; "father is willing, you see. All I want now is for you to say yes. I must go and enlist to-morrow, if I mean to get into the same company with the other boys; and I'm sure you'd rather I'd go with the fellows I know, than with strangers. We are going to befriend each other, and stand by each other to the last."
"Some of them, I am afraid, are not such persons as I would wish to have you on very intimate terms with, any where, my child," answered Mrs. Manly; "for there is one danger I should dread for you worse than the chances of the battle-field."
"That you might be led away by bad company. To have you become corrupted by their evil influences—to know that my boy was no longer the pure, truthful child he was; that he would blush to have his sisters know his habits and companions; to see him come home, if he ever does, reckless and dissipated—O, I could endure any thing, even his death, better than that."
"Well," exclaimed Frank, filled with pain, almost with indignation, at the thought of any one, especially his mother, suspecting him of such baseness, "there's one thing—you shall hear of my death, before you hear of my drinking, or gambling, or swearing, or any thing of that kind. I promise you that."
"Where is your Testament, my son?" asked his mother.
"Here it is."
"Have you a pencil?"
"He may take mine," said Hattie.
"Now write on this blank leaf what you have just promised."
Mrs. Manly spoke with a solemn and tender earnestness which made Frank tremble, as he obeyed; for he felt now that her consent was certain, and that the words he was writing were a sacred pledge.
"Now read what you have written, so that we can all hear what you promise, and remember it when you are away."
After some bashful hesitation, Frank took courage, and read. A long silence followed. Little Hattie on the lounge was crying.
"But you ought to keep this—for I make the promise to you," he said, reflecting that he had used his own Testament to write in.
"No, you are to keep it," said his mother, "for I'm afraid we shall remember your promise a great deal better than you will."
"No, you won't!" cried Frank, full of resolution. "I shall keep that promise to the letter."
Mrs. Manly took the Testament, read over the pledge carefully, and wrote under it a little prayer.
"Now," said she, "go to your room, and read there what I have written. Then go to bed, and try to sleep. We all need rest—for to-morrow."
"O! and you give your consent?"
"My son," said Mrs. Manly, holding his hand, and looking into his face with affectionate, misty eyes, "it is right that you should do something for your family, for we need your help. Your little sister is sick, your father is feeble, and I—my hand may fail any day. And it is right that you should wish to do something for your country; and, but that you are so young, so very young, I should not have opposed you at all. As it is, I shall not oppose you any more. Think of it well, if you have not done so already. Consider the hardships, the dangers—every thing. Then decide for yourself. I intrust you, I give you into the hands of our heavenly Father."
She folded him to her heart, kissing him and weeping. Frank then kissed his sisters good-night, his resolution almost failing him, and his heart almost bursting with the thought that this might be the last evening he would ever be with them, or kiss them good-night.
OFF TO THE WAR.
It was a calm, clear October night. The moonlight streamed through the window of Frank's room, an he lay in bed, thinking of the evening that was past, and of the morning that was to come. Little Willie, his younger brother, was sleeping sweetly at his side. He had heard his sisters come up stairs and go to bed in the room next to his; and they were conversing now in low tones,—about him he was sure.
Would he ever sleep in that nice warm bed again? Would he ever again fold dear little Willie in his arms, and feel his dewy cheek against his own, as he did now? What was the future that awaited him? Who would fill his mother's place when he was gone from her? He had read over the prayer she wrote for him; it was still fresh in his thoughts, and he repeated it now to himself in the silence of the moonlit chamber.
When he opened his eyes, he saw a white shape enter softly and approach his bedside. There it stood in the moonlight, white and still. Was it a ghost? Was it an angel? Frank was not afraid.
"Are you awake, my darling?"
"O, yes, mother. I haven't slept at all."
"I didn't mean to awake you, if you were asleep," she said, kneeling down beside him. "But I could not sleep; and I thought I would come and look at you, and kiss you once more; for perhaps I shall never see you in your bed again."
"O, mother, don't talk so. I hope I shall be spared to you a long, long time yet."
"I hope you will; but we must think of the worst, and be prepared for it, my son. If it is God's will, I can give you up. And you—you must make up your mind to brave all dangers, even to die, if necessary. It is a great and holy cause you are engaging in. It is no gay and pleasant adventure, as perhaps you think. Are you sure you have thought of it well?"
"I have," responded Frank. "I am going; and I am going to do my duty, whatever it is. For a few minutes after I came to bed, thinking of what you had said, and of leaving you, and of"—here he choked—"I was almost sorry I had said a word about going; it looked so dreary and sad to me. But I said my prayers, and now I feel better about it. I don't think any thing can shake my resolution again."
"If it is so," replied his mother, "I have nothing more to say." And she kissed him, and gave him plentiful good advice, and finally prayed with him, kneeling by his bedside.
"O, don't go, mother," said Frank; "it is such a comfort to have you here! May-be it is the last time."
"May-be it is, my son. But I must bid you goodnight. You must sleep. See how soundly Willie is sleeping all this time! He don't know that he is losing a brother."
After she was gone, Frank felt more lonesome than ever, the house was so silent, the moonshine in his chamber was so cold. But he hugged his warm little brother close to his heart, and cried very softly, if he cried at all.
I do not know how much he slept that night. No doubt his excited thoughts kept him awake until very late, for he was fast asleep the next morning when Helen came to call him.
"Hurrah!" he exclaimed, starting up; "fight for the old flag!" for he was dreaming of a battle. "Hallo!" he said, rubbing his eyes open. "That you, Helen?"
"A wide-awake drummer boy you are," she replied, with her usual good-natured irony. "You'll have to rouse up earlier than this, I tell you, if you ever beat the reveille for the soldiers."
"So much the more reason why I should have a good nap in the morning, when I can," said Frank.
"Well, lie and sleep, if you want to," she added, with a touch of tenderness. "I thought I'd let you know breakfast was ready."
But Frank was wide awake enough now. He felt there was something great and grand in the day before him, and he was anxious to meet it. He was up and dressed in a minute. He threw open his window, and looked away towards the city, which lay dim and strange in the beautiful mists of the morning, with the crimson clouds of the sunrise lifting like curtains behind it. And the far-off roar of the rumbling streets reached his ear, inspiring him freshly with hope and action.
All the family were at breakfast, except Hattie, the sick one, when Frank came down stairs. Even Willie had crept out of bed before him, wondering what made his brother sleep so long that morning. And now he found the little fellow dividing his attentions between his breakfast and his toy gun, which had acquired a new interest in his eyes since Helen had told him Frank was going to the war.
"I'm going with my bwother Fwank," he declared, shouldering arms over his johnny-cake. "And if any body—any webel"—breathing earnestly—"hurt my bwother Fwank, me shoot 'em me will!"
"Yes," remarked Helen, "you and Frank will put down the rebellion, I've not the least doubt."
This was meant for a sly hit at Frank's youthful patriotism; but Willie took it quite seriously.
"Yes," he lisped; "me and Fwank—we put down the webellion. Take aim!"—pointing his toy at his father's nose. "Fire! bang! See, me kill a webel."
"How little the child realizes what it is to fight the rebels," said his mother, with a sigh.
"I'm afraid," said Helen, "Frank doesn't realize it much more than Willie does. He has just about as correct a notion about putting down the webellion."
"Very likely," said Frank, who had learned that the beat way to treat a joke of this kind is always to humor it, instead of being offended. For a joke is often like a little barking dog—perfectly harmless, if you pass serenely by without noticing it, or if you just say, "Poor fellow! brave dog!" and pat its neck; but which, if you get angry and raise your stick, will worry you all the more for your trouble, and perhaps be provoked to bite.
There was a silence of several minutes—Willie alone manifesting a desire to keep up the conversation on war matters. He stuck his johnny-cake on the end of his gun, and bombarded his mother's coffee-cup with it; and was about to procure more johnny-cake, in order to shell the sugar-bowl, which he called "Fort Sumter," when Helen put an end to his sport by disarming him.
"I want father to go to town with me, to the recruiting office," said Frank; "for I don't suppose I will be accepted, unless he does."
That sounded like proceeding at once to business, which Mr. Manly never liked to do. He was one of those easily discouraged men, whose rule is always to postpone until to-morrow what they are not absolutely obliged to do to-day. He waited, however, as usual, to hear what his wife would say to the proposition, before expressing himself decidedly against it. Fortunately, Mrs. Manly had energy and self-reliance enough for both.
"If you are still firmly resolved to go, then your father will go with you to the recruiting office," she said; and that settled it: for Frank was resolved—his character resembling his mother's in respect to energy and determination.
Accordingly, after breakfast, Mr. Manly, with frequent sighs of foreboding and discouragement, made a lather, honed his razor, and shaved himself, preparatory to a visit to town. Frank, in the mean while, made ready for his departure. He put in order the personal effects which he intended to leave at home, and packed into a bundle a few things he purposed to take with him. An hour passed quickly away, with all its busy preparations, consultations, and leave takings; and the last moment arrived.
"Say good-by twice to me," said Hattie, the little invalid, rising up on her lounge to give him a farewell kiss.
"Why twice to you?" asked Frank.
"Because," she answered, with a sad, sweet smile, "If you do come home from the war, perhaps you won't find me here;" for the child had a notion that she was going to die.
"O sissy," exclaimed Frank, "don't say so; I shall come back, and I shall find you well."
"Yes," replied Hattie, sorry that she had said any thing to make him feel bad; "we will think so, dear brother." And she smiled again; just as angels smile, Frank thought.
"Besides, this isn't my good-by for good, you know," said he. "I shall get a furlough, and come home and see you all, before I leave for the seat of war with my regiment." Frank couldn't help feeling a sort of pride in speaking of his regiment. "And may-be you will all visit me in camp before I go."
"Come," called his father, at the door; "if we are going to catch this car, we must be off."
So Frank abbreviated his adieus, and ran.
"Wait, wait!" screamed Willie, pulling his cap on "Me go, me go!"
"Go where, you little witch?" cried Helen.
"Me go to war, along with my bwother Fwank. Put down webellion," pouted the child, shouldering his gun, and trudging out of the door in eager haste, fearing lest he should be left behind.
Mrs. Manly was parting from her son on the doorstep, putting back a stray curl from his cheek, smoothing his collar, and whispering, with wet eyes and quivering lips, "My child, remember!"
"I will—good-by!" were Frank's last words; and he hastened after his father, just pausing on the next corner to look around at the faces in the door of his home, and wave his hat at them. There was Hattie, leaning on Helen's arm, and waving her handkerchief, which was scarcely whiter than that thin white face of hers; and there was his mother gazing after him with steadfast eyes of affection and blessing, while her hands were fully occupied in restraining that small but fiery patriot, Willie, who, with his cap over his eyes, was vehemently struggling to go with his bwother Fwank.
This was the tableau, the final picture of home, which remained imprinted on Frank's memory. For the corner was passed, and the doorway and windows of the dear old house, and the dearer faces there, were lost to sight. He would have delayed, in order to get one more look; but already the tinkling bells gave warning of the near approach of the horse-car, and he and his father had no more than time to reach the Main Street, when it came up, and stopped to take them in.
In but little more than an hour's time, by far the most important step in Frank's life had been taken. He had enlisted.
"Well," said his father, after Frank, with a firm and steady hand, had written his name, "it is done now. You are a brave boy!"—with a tear of pride, as he regarded his handsome, spirited young volunteer, and thought that not many fathers had such promising sons.
While they were at the recruiting office, one of their neighbors came in.
"What!" he exclaimed, "you here? on business?"
"Patriotic business," replied Mr. Manly, showing his son with a fond father's emotion. "He has volunteered, neighbor Winch."
"And you give your consent?"
"I do, most certainly, since he feels it his duty to go, and his mother is willing."
Neighbor Winch stood speechless for a moment, the muscles of his mouth working. "I have just heard," he said, in an agitated voice, "that my son John has enlisted without my consent; and I have come here to ascertain the fact. Do you know any thing about it, Frank?"
"I suppose I do," replied Frank, with some reluctance. "He enlisted three days ago. He wanted me to go with him then; but I——"
"You what?" said neighbor Winch.
"I couldn't, without first getting permission from my father and mother," explained Frank.
"O, if my John had only acted as noble a part!" said the neighbor. "It's a bad beginning for a boy to run away. He has nearly broken his mother's heart."
"Well, well, neighbor," observed Mr. Manly, consolingly, "reflect that it's in a good cause. Jack might have done worse, you know."
"Yes, yes. He never was a steady boy, as you know. He has set out to learn three different trades, and got sick of them all. I couldn't keep him at school, neither. Of late nothing would do but he must be a soldier. If I thought he'd stick to it, and do his duty, I wouldn't say a word. But he'll get tired of carrying a gun, too, before he has seen hard service. Where is he? Do you know, Frank?"
"He is in camp, in the Jackson Blues," mid Frank. "I am going as drummer in the same company."
"I'm glad of that," replied Mr. Winch. "For, though he is so much older than you, I think you always have had an influence over him, Frank—a good influence, too." And the neighbor took the young volunteer's hand.
Frank's eyes glistened—he felt so touched by this compliment, and so proud that his father had heard it, and could go home and tell it to his mother and sisters.
Neighbor Winch went on: "I want you to see John, as soon as you can, Frank, and talk with him, and try to make him feel how wrongly he has acted——"
Here the poor man's voice failed him; and Frank, sympathizing with his sorrow, was filled with gratitude to think that he had never been tempted to grieve his parents in the same way.
Mr. Manly accompanied his son to the railroad depot, and saw him safely in the cars that were to convey him to camp, and then took leave of him. The young volunteer would have forgotten his manhood, and cried, if the eyes of strangers had not been upon him; even as it was, his voice broke when he said his last good-by, and sent back his love to his mother and sisters and little Willie.
The cars were soon off; and the heart of Frank swelled within him as he felt himself now fairly embarked in his new adventure.
Soon enough the white tents of the camp rose in sight. The Stars and Stripes floating under the blue sky, the soldiers in their blue uniforms, the sentinels with their glittering bayoneted guns pacing up and down, and above all, the sound of a drum, which he considered now to be a part of his life, made him feel himself already a hero.
Several other recruits had come down in the train with him, accompanied by an officer. Frank was a stranger to them all. But he was not long without acquaintances, for he had scarcely alighted at the depot when he saw coming towards him his neighbor and chum, Jack Winch, in soldier clothes—a good-looking young fellow, a head taller and some two years older than himself.
"Hello, Jack! how are you?"
"Tip-top!" said Jack, looking happy as a prince.
The officer who had brought down the recruits went with them to the quartermaster's department, and gave orders for their outfit. When Frank's turn came, his measure was taken, and an astonishing quantity of army clothing issued to him. He had two pairs of drawers, two shirts, two pairs of stockings, a blouse, a dress coat, an overcoat, a cap, a pair of shoes, a pair of pantaloons, and a towel. Besides these he received a knapsack, with two blankets; a haversack, with a tin plate, knife and fork, and spoon; and a tin cup and canteen. He had also been told that he should get his drum and drumsticks; but in this he was disappointed. The department was out of drums.
"Never mind!" said Jack, consolingly. "You may consider yourself lucky to draw your clothes so soon. I had to wait for mine till I was examined and sworn in. The surgeons are so lazy, or have so much to do, or something, it may be a week before you'll be examined."
Frank was soon surrounded by acquaintances whom he scarcely recognized at first, they looked so changed and strange to him in their uniforms.
"How funny it seems," said he, "to be shaking hands with soldiers!"
"These are our tents," said Jack. "They all have their names, you see."
Which fact Frank had already noticed with no little astonishment.
The names were lettered on the canvas of the tents in characters far more grotesque than elegant One was called the "Crystal Palace;" another, the "Mammoth Cave;" a third bore the mystical title of "Owl House;" while a fourth displayed the sign of the "Arab's Home;" etc.
"My traps are in the 'Young Volunteer,'" said Jack. "We give it that name, because we are all of us young fellows in there. You can tie up here too,"—entering the tent,—"if you want to."
Frank gladly accepted the proposition. "How odd it must seem," he said, "to live and sleep under canvas!"
"You'll like it tip-top, when you get used to it," remarked Jack, with an air of old experience.
Frank made haste to take off his civil suit and put on his soldier clothes. Jack pronounced the uniform a splendid fit, and declared that his friend looked "stunning."
"But you must have your hair cut, Frank. Look here; this is the fighting trim!" and Jack Winch, pulling off his cap, made Frank laugh till the tears came into his eyes, at the ludicrous sight. Jack's hair had been clipped so close to his head that it was no longer than mouse's hair, giving him a peculiarly grim and antique appearance.
"You look like Sinbad's Old Man of the Sea!" exclaimed Frank. "I won't have my hair cut that way!"—feeling of his own soft brown curls, which his mother was so fond of, and which he meant to preserve, if only for her sake.
"Pshaw! you look like a girl! Come, Frank, there's a fellow in the 'Owl House' that cuts all the hair for our company."
But here an end was put to the discussion by some of the boys without crying, "Dinner!"
"Dinner!" repeated Jack. "Hurrah! let's go and draw our rations."
Three or four young volunteers now came into the tent, and, opening their haversacks, drew forth their tin plates, knives and forks. Frank did the same, and observing that they all took their tin cups, he took his also, and followed them, with quite as much curiosity as appetite, to the cook-shop, where a large piece of bread and a thick slice of boiled beef was dealt out to each, together with a cup of coffee.
"How droll it seems to eat rations!" said Frank, on their return, seating himself on his bed,—a tick filled with straw,—and using his lap for a table.
The bread was sweet; but the beef was of not quite so fine a quality as Frank had been used to at home and the coffee was not exactly like his mother's.
"Here, have some milk," said Jack. "I've an account open with this woman"—a wrinkled old creature, who came into the tent with a little girl, bearing baskets of cakes and fruits, and a can of milk.
"No, I thank you," said Frank. "I may as well begin with the fare I shall have to get used to some time, for I mean to send all my pay home to my folks except what I'm actually obliged to use myself."
"You'll be a goose if you do!" retorted Jack. "I shan't send home any of mine. I'm my own man now, ye see, and what I earn of Uncle Sam I'm going to have a gallus old time with, you may bet your life on that!"
Frank drew a long breath, for he felt that the time had now come to have the talk with his friend which Mr. Winch had requested.
"I saw your father, this morning, Jack."
"Did ye though? What did the old sinner have to say?"
"I don't like to hear you call your father such names," said Frank, seriously. "And if you had seen how bad he felt, when he spoke of your enlisting——"
"Pshaw, now, Frank! don't be green! don't get into a pious strain, I beg of ye! You'll be the laughing-stock of all the boys, if ye do."
Frank blushed to the eyes, not knowing what reply to make. He had felt no little pride in Mr. Winch's responsible charge to him, and had intended to preach to his more reckless companion a good, sound, moral discourse on this occasion. But to have his overtures received in this manner was discouraging.
"Come," continued Jack, taking something from the straw, "we are soldiers now, and must do as soldiers do. Have a drink, Frank?"—presenting a small bottle.
"What is it?" Frank asked, and when told, "Brandy," he quickly withdrew the hand he had extended. "No, I thank you, Jack, I am not going to drink any thing of that sort, unless I need it as a medicine. And I am sorry to see you getting into such habits so soon."
"Habits? what habits?" retorted Jack, blushing in his turn. "A little liquor don't hurt a fellow. I take it only as a medicine. You mustn't go to being squeamish down here, I tell you." And Jack drank a swallow or two, smacking his lips afterwards, as he returned the cork to the bottle.
By this time Frank's courage was up—his moral courage, I mean, which is more rare, as it is far more noble, than any merely physical bravery in the face of danger.
"I don't mean to be squeamish," he said; "but right is right, and wrong is wrong, Jack. And what was wrong for us at home isn't going to be right for us here. I, for one, believe we can go through this war without doing any thing that will make our parents ashamed of us when we return."
"My eye!" jeered his companion; "and do you fancy a little swallow of brandy is going to make my folks ashamed of me?"
"It isn't the single swallow I object to, Jack; it's the habit of drinking. That's a foolish thing, to say the least, for young fellows, like you and me, to get into; and we all know what it leads to. Who wants to become a tobacco-spitting, rum-drinking, filthy old man?"
"Ha, ha, ha," laughed Jack; rather feebly, however, for he could not help feeling that Frank was as much in the right as he was in the wrong. "You look a long ways ahead, it seems to me. I haven't thought of being an old man yet."
"If we live, we shall be men, and old men, too, some day," said Frank, without minding his sneers. "And you know we are laying the foundations of our future characters now."
"That's what your mother, or your Sunday school teacher, has been saying to you."
"No matter who has said it. I know it's true, and I hope I never shall forget it. I mean to become a true, honest man if I live; and now, I believe, is the time to begin."
"O, no doubt you'll be great things," grinned Jack.
The tone in which he said this was highly offensive; and Frank was provoked to retort,—
"You don't seem even to have thought what you are going to be. You try first one thing, then another, and stick to nothing. That's what your father said this morning, with tears in his eyes."
Jack turned red as fire, either with anger or shame, or both, and seemed meditating a passionate reply, when some of his companions, who had been eating their rations outside, entered the tent.
"Come in, boys," cried Jack, "and hear Frank preach. You didn't know we had a chaplain in our company—did ye? That's the parson, there, with the girl's hair. He can reel you off sermons like any thing. Fire away, Frank, and show the boys."
"Yes, steam up, parson," said Joe Harris, "and give us a specimen."
"Play away, seven," cried Ned Ellis, as if Frank had been a fire-engine of that number.
These, together with other facetious remarks, made Frank so ashamed and confused that he could not say a word. For experience had not yet taught him that even the most reckless and depraved, however they may laugh at honest seriousness in a companion, cannot help respecting him for it in their hearts.
"You needn't blush so, young chap," said tall Abram Atwater, a stalwart, square-shouldered, square-featured young man of twenty, who alone had not joined in the derisive merriment. "It won't hurt any of these fellows to preach to them, and they know it."
Frank cast a grateful look at the tall soldier, who, though almost a stranger to him, had thus generously taken his part against some who professed to be his friends. He tried to speak, but could not articulate a word, he was still feeling so hurt by Jack's ingratitude. Perhaps his pride was as much wounded as his friendship; for, as we have hinted, he had been a good deal puffed up with the idea of his influence over Jack. This incident, as we shall see, had a bad effect upon Frank himself; for, instead of persevering in the good work he had undertaken, he was inclined to give up all hope of exerting an influence upon any body.
In the mean time Jack was washing down the sermon, as he said, with more brandy.
"'Twas such an awful dry discourse, boys;" and he passed the bottle around to the others, who all drank, except Abram Atwater. That stalwart young soldier stood in the midst of the tent, straight and tall, with his arms calmly folded under his blue cape (a favorite attitude of his), and merely shook his head, with a mild and tolerant smile, when the liquor was passed to him.
Such was the beginning of Frank's camp life. It was not long before he had recovered from his confusion, and was apparently on good terms with his messmates. He spent the afternoon in walking about the camp; watching some raw recruits at their drill; watching others playing cards, or checkers, or backgammon; getting acquainted, and learning the ways of the camp generally.
So the day passed; and that night Frank lay for the first time soldier-fashion, under canvas. He went to bed with his clothes on, and drew his blanket over him. It was not like going to bed in his nice little room at home, with Willie snuggled warmly beside him; yet there was a novelty in this rude and simple mode of life that was charming. His companions, who lay upon the ground around him, kept him awake with their stories long after the lights were out; but at length, weary with the day's excitement, he fell asleep.
There,—a dweller now in the picturesque white city of tents gleaming in the moonlight, ruggedly pillowed on his soldier's couch, those soft brown curls tossed over the arm beneath his head,—the drummer boy dreamed of home. The last night's consultation and the morning's farewells were lived over again in the visions of his brain; and once more his mother visited his bedside; and again his father accompanied him to the recruiting office. But now the recruiting office was changed into a barber's shop, which seemed to be a tent supported by a striped pole; where, at John Winch's suggestion, he was to have his hair trimmed to the fighting-cut. The barber was a stiff-looking officer in epaulets, who heated a sword red-hot in an oven, while Frank preached to him a neat little sermon over his ration. Then the epaulets changed to a pair of roosters with flaming red combs, that flapped their wings and crowed. And the barber, approaching Frank with his red-hot sword, made him lie on his back to be shaved. Then followed an excruciating sense of having his hair pulled and his face scraped and burnt, which made him move and murmur in his sleep; until, a ruthless attempt being made to thrust the sword up his nostrils, he awoke.
Shouts of laughter greeted him. His companions had got up at midnight, lighted a candle, and burnt a cork, with which they had been giving him an artificial mustache and whiskers. He must have been a ludicrous sight, with his countenance thus ornamented, sitting up on his bed, rubbing his eyes open, and staring about him, while Winch and Harris shrieked with mirth, and Ned Ellis flapped his arms and crowed.
Frank put up his hand to his head. O grief! his curls had been mangled by dull shears in the unskilful hands of John Winch. The depredator was still brandishing the miserable instrument, which he had borrowed for the occasion of the fellow who cut the company's hair in the "Owl House."
Frank's sudden awaking, astonishment, and chagrin were almost too much for him. He could have cried to think of a friend playing him such a trick; and to think of his lost curls! But he had made up his mind to endure every thing that might befall him with unflinching fortitude. He must not seem weak on an occasion like this. His future standing with his comrades might depend upon what he should say and do next. So he summoned all his stoutness of heart, and accepted the joke as good-naturedly as was possible under the circumstances.
"I wish you'd tell me what the fun is," he said, "so that I can laugh too."
"Give him the looking-glass," cried Jack Winch, holding the candle, while Ellis stopped crowing, to bring a little three-cornered fragment of a broken mirror, by which Frank was shown the artistic burnt-cork work on his face. He could hardly help laughing himself at his own hideousness, now that the first disagreeable sense of being the sport of his friends had passed.
"I hope you have had fun enough to pay for waking me up out of the queerest dream any body ever had," he said. And he told all about the barber, and the epaulets that became roosters, and the red-hot sword for a razor, etc. Then, looking at himself again in the piece of glass, he called out, "Give me those shears;" and taking them, he manfully cut off his mutilated curls. "There, that isn't exactly the fighting-cut, Jack, but 'twill do. Now, boys, tell some more of those dull stories, and I guess I can go to sleep again."
And he lay down once more, declining to accept an urgent invitation to preach.
"There, boys," said stout Abram Atwater, who had sat all the time cross-legged, a silent, gravely-smiling spectator of the scene, "you shan't fool him any more. He has got pluck; he has shown it. And now let him alone."
THE OLD DRUMMER AND THE NEW DRUM.
As yet, Frank had no drum. Neither had he any scientific knowledge of the instrument. He was ambitious of entering upon his novel occupation, and was elated to learn, the next morning, that he was to begin his acquaintance with the noble art of drumming that very day.
"The sergeant is inquiring for you," said Abram Atwater, with his mild, pleasant smile, calling him out of the tent.
Frank, who was writing a letter to his mother, on his knapsack, jumped up with alacrity, hid his paper, and ran out to see what was wanted.
"This way, Manly," said the sergeant. "Here's the man that's to give you lessons. Go with him."
The teacher was a veteran drummer, with a twinkling gray eye, a long, thick, gray mustache, and a rather cynical way of showing his teeth under it. He had some drumsticks thrust into his pocket, but no drum.
"I suppose," thought Frank, "we shall find our drums in the woods;" into which his instructor straightway conducted him in order to be away from the diversions and noises of the camp.
Frank was disappointed. The veteran gave him his first exercise—on a board!
"I thought I was to learn on a drum," he ventured to suggest, looking up, not without awe, at the bushy mustache.
"You don't want a drum till you know how to drum," said the veteran.
"But I should think it would be better——"
"Wait!" lifting his drumstick. "Do you understand what we are here for?"
"To learn to drum," replied Frank, in some astonishment.
"To learn to drum," repeated the veteran, a curious smile just raising the corners of that grizzled mustache. "You understand correctly. Now, am I your teacher, or are you mine?"
"You are mine, sir," answered the boy, still more amazed.
"Right again!" exclaimed the professor. "That's the way I understood it; but I might be wrong, you know. We are all liable to be wrong—are we not?"
"Good again! But now it is understood correctly; I am your instructor, and you are not mine; that is it."
"Very well! Now listen. Since I am to give you lessons, and you are not to give me lessons, you will follow the method I propose, and excuse me if I decline to follow your method. That is reasonable,—isn't it?"
"Certainly, sir," murmured the abashed pupil.
"The point settled, then, we will proceed," said the veteran, with the same incomprehensible, half-sarcastic, half-humorous, but now quite good-natured smile lighting up his grim visage.
"But before we proceed," said Frank, "may I just say what I was going to?"
The old drummer lifted both his sticks, and his eyebrows too (not to speak of his shaggy mustache), in surprise at the lad's audacity.
"Do you want me to report you as insubordinate?" he asked, after a pause, during which the two regarded each other somewhat after the fashion of two dogs making acquaintance—a tall, leering old mastiff looking surlily down at the advances of an anxious yet stout and unflinching young spaniel.
"No, sir," answered Frank. "But I thought——"
"You thought! What business have you to think?"
"No business, perhaps," Frank admitted, confronting the weather-beaten old drummer with his truthful, undaunted, fine young face. "But I can't help thinking sir, for all that."
"You can help expressing your thoughts out of season, though," said the veteran.
"I will try to in future, sir," answered Frank, laughing.
At the same time a smile of genuine benevolence softened the tough, ancient visage of the veteran; and they proceeded with the lesson.
After it was over, the teacher said to the pupil,—
"Now, my young friend, I will hear that observation or question of yours, whatever it is."
"I think I have answered it for myself," said Frank. "I was going to say, I should think it would be better to learn to drum on a drum; but I see now, if I get to roll the sticks on a board, which is hard, I can roll them so much the better on a drumhead, which is elastic."
"Right, my young friend," replied the veteran, approvingly. "And in the mean time, we avoid a good deal of unpleasant noise, as you see." For he had other pupils practising under his eye in the woods, not far from Frank.
"And I should like to ask—if I could have permission," began Frank, archly.
"Ask me any thing you please, out of lesson-hours." And the old drummer patted the young drummer's shoulder.
Frank felt encouraged. He was beginning to like his teacher, notwithstanding his odd ways; and he hoped the old man was beginning to like him.
"I want to know, then, if you think I will make a drummer?"
"And what if you will not?"
"Then I shall think I ought to give up the idea of it at once; for I don't want to be second-rate in any thing I once undertake."
"And you have been just a little discouraged over your first lesson? and would be willing now to give up?"
"No, sir. I should feel very bad to be obliged to give up the drum."
"Very well. Then I can say something to comfort you. Stick to it, as you have begun, and you will make a drummer."
"A first-rate one?" Frank asked, eagerly.
"First-rate, or else I am no judge."
"I am glad!" and the delighted pupil fairly jumped for joy.
From that time the two got on capitally together. Frank soon become accustomed to the veteran's eccentric manners, and made great proficiency in his exercises. And it was not long before the hard-featured old drummer began to manifest, in his way, a great deal of friendly interest in his young pupil.
"Now, my boy," said he one day, after Frank had been practising successfully the "seven-stroke roll," greatly to the satisfaction of his instructor,—"now, my boy, I think you can be safely intrusted with your comrade."
"My comrade?" queried the pupil.
"I mean, your better half."
"My better half?"
Frank was mystified.
"Yes, your wife." And the grizzly mustache curled with quiet humor.
"I must be a married man without knowing it!" laughed Frank.
"Your ship, then," said the veteran, dryly. "Come with me."
And conducting Frank to his tent, he took from one side an object covered with a blanket.
"My ship!" cried Frank, joyfully, already guessing what treasure was now to be his.
"Your sword, then, if you like that name better. For what his sword is to a hero, what his ship is to a true sailor, what a wife is to a true husband,—such, my young friend, to a genuine drummer is his drum."
So saying, the veteran threw aside the covering, and presented to his pupil the long-coveted prize. The boy's eyes shone with pleasure, and (as he wrote that evening to his parents) he was so happy he could have hugged both the old drummer and the new drum.
"I selected it for you, and you may be sure it is a good one. It won't be any handsomer, but, if you use it well, it won't be really much the worse, for going through a campaign or two with you. For it is with drums as it is with the drummers; they grow old, and get some honorable scratches, and some unlucky bruises, and now and then a broken head; but, God prospering them, they come out, at last, ugly to look at, perhaps" (the veteran stroked his mustache), "but well-seasoned, and sound, and very truly at your service."
Frank thought be saw a tear in his twinkling gray eye, and he was so much affected by it, that he caught his hand in both of his, exclaiming, "Bless you, dear sir! Dear, good sir, God bless you!"
The old man winked away the moisture from his eye, smiling still, but with a quivering lip, and patted him gently on the shoulder, without saying a word.
Frank had the sense to perceive that the interview was now over; the veteran wished to be left alone; and, with the new drum at his side, he left the tent, proud and happy, and wishing in his heart that he could do something for that singular, kind old man.
As Frank was hastening to his tent, he was met by one of the captains in his regiment, who, seeing the bright beaming face and new drum, accosted him.
"So, you are a drummer boy—are you?"
"Yes, sir, I am learning to be one," said Frank, modestly.
Now, these two had seen each other often in camp and the captain had always regarded Frank with a smile of interest and kindness, and Frank (as he wrote home) had "always liked the looks of the captain first-rate."
"I saw you, I think, the day you came here," said the captain. "You had some curls then. What has become of them?"
Frank's lip twitched, and he cast down his eyes, ashamed to betray any lingering feeling on that subject.
"The boys cut them off in my sleep, sir."
"The rogues!" exclaimed the captain. "And what did you do?"
Frank lifted his eyes with a smile. "I partly finished them myself—they had haggled them so; and the next day I found a man to cut my hair nicely."
"Well, it is better so, perhaps: short hair for a soldier. But I liked those curls. They reminded me of a little sister of mine—she is gone now—," in a low, mellow tone. "Are you attached to any company?"
"I am enlisted in the Jackson Blues."
"What is your name?"
"Frank Manly, sir."
"Are you any relation to Mrs. Manly, of——?"
"She is my mother, sir," said Frank, with proud affection.
"Is it possible! Mrs. Manly's son! Indeed, you look like her."
"Do you know my mother, sir?"
"My lad," said the captain, "I used to go to school to her. But, though I have heard of her often, I haven't seen her for years."
"I shall write to her, and tell her about you," said Frank, delighted. "She will be glad to hear that I have found so good a friend."
"Ask her," said the captain, "If she remembers Henry Edney, who used to go to school to her in ——. She will recollect me, I am sure. And give my very kind regards to her, and to your father; and tell them I regret I didn't see you before you enlisted, for I want just such a drummer boy in my company. But never mind," he added quickly, as if conscious of having spoken indiscreetly, "you will do your duty where you are, and I will try to do mine, for we must have only one thought now—to serve our country."
They separated, with more kind words on the captain's part, and with expressions of gratitude on the part of Frank, who felt that, to compensate him for John Winch's treachery, he was already securing the friendship of a few of the best of men.
You may be sure the boy wrote to his mother all about the interview, and told her how sorry he was that he had not enlisted in Captain Edney's company; not only because he liked his new friend's kindness and affable manners so well, but also because there existed in the ranks of the Jackson Blues a strong prejudice against their own officers. Captain —— was almost a stranger to his men, and seemed determined to continue so. He seldom appeared amongst them, or showed any interest in their welfare. He had never once drilled them, but left that duty entirely to the sergeant. They consequently accused him boldly of laziness, ignorance, and conceit—three qualities which men always dislike in their superiors. How different was Captain Edney!
FUN IN CAMP.
Frank now practised his lessons on his drum, and was very happy. He had passed the surgical examination a few days after his arrival in camp, and been duly sworn into the service. This latter ceremony made a strong impression on his mind. He stood in the open air, together with a number of new recruits, and heard the Articles of War read; after which they all took off their caps, and held up their right hands, while the oath was administered.
One day, on returning to camp after his lesson in the woods, he was astonished to see Jack Winch, with his cap off, his fighting-cut displayed to all beholders, and his fist shaking, marched off by armed soldiers.
"What are they doing with Jack?" he hastened to inquire of Abram Atwater, who stood among his comrades with his arms composedly crossed under his cape.
"He is put under guard," said the tall, taciturn soldier.
"You see," cried Joe Harris, coming up, "Jack had tipped the bottle once too often, and got noisy. The sergeant told him to keep still. 'Dry up yourself,' said Jack. 'Start,' says the sergeant; and he took hold of him to push him towards the tent; but the next he knew, he got a blow square in the face,—Jack was so mad!"
"Come, boys," said Ned Ellis, "Le's go over and see how he likes the fun."
The proposal was accepted; and presently a strong deputation of the Blues went to pay a visit to their disgraced comrade. Arrived at the guard tent, a couple of sentinels crossed their bayonets before them. But although they could not enter, they could look in; and there, seated on the ground, they saw Jack, in a position which would have appeared excessively ludicrous to Frank, but that it seemed to him too pitiful to behold any comrade so degraded. In consequence of his continued fury and violence, Jack had been secured in this fashion. Imagine a grotesque letter N, to which feet, arms, and a head have been added, and you have some idea of his posture, as seen in profile. His knees were elevated; forming the upper angle of the letter. The lower angle was represented by that portion of the body which forms the seat of the human animal. The arms were passed over the upper angle, that is, the knees, and kept in their place by handcuffs on the wrists, and by a musket thrust through, over the arms and under the knees.
"Can't you untie them iron knots with your teeth, Jack?" said Joe, meaning the handcuffs.
"How do you like the back to your chair?" said Ned.
"Let's see ye turn a somerset backwards, Jack."
And so forth. But Frank did not insult him in his disgrace.
Winch was by this time sufficiently sobered and humbled. He destroyed the symmetry of the N by doubling himself ingloriously over his knees and hiding his face between them.
"Got the colic, Jack?" asked Harris—"you double up so."
Winch glared up at him a moment,—a ludicrous picture, with that writhing face and that curious fighting-cut,—but cast down his eyes again, sulkily, and said nothing.
"Come away, boys," whispered Frank. "Don't stay here, making fun of him. Why do you?"
"Jack," said Ellis, "we're going to take a drink. Won't you come along with us?"—tauntingly.
And the Blues dispersed, leaving poor Jack to his own bitter reflections.
He had learned one thing—who his friends were. On being released, he shunned Harris and Ellis especially, for a day or two, and paid his court to Frank.
"I am going to tell you something, Frank," said he, as they were once at the pond-side, washing their plates after dinner. "I'm going to leave the company."
"Leave the Blues?" said Frank.
"Yes, and quit the service. I've got sick of it."
"But I thought you liked it so well."
"Well, I did at first. It was a kind of novelty. Come, let's leave it. I will."
"But how can you?"
"Easy enough. I am under age, and my father 'll get me off."
"I should think you would be ashamed to ask him to," Frank could not help saying, with honest contempt.
Jack was not offended this time by his plainness, for he had learned that those are not, by any means, our worst friends, who truly tell us our faults.
"I don't care," he said, putting on an air of recklessness. "I ain't going to lead this miserable dog's life in camp any longer, if I have to desert"—lowering his voice to a whisper; "we can desert just as easy as not, Frank, if we take a notion."
"I, for one," said Frank, indignantly, "shan't take a notion to do anything so dishonorable. We enlisted of our own free will, and I think it would be the meanest and most dishonest thing we could do to——"
"Hush!" whispered Jack. "There's Atwater; he'll hear us."
* * * *
At midnight the drummer boy was awakened by a commotion in the tent.
"Come, Frank," said some one, pulling him violently, "we are going to have some great fun. Hurrah!"
Frank jumped up. The boys were leaving the tent. He had already suspected that mischief was meditated, and, anxious to see what it was, he ran out after them.
He found the company assembled in a dark, mysterious mass in the street before the row of tents.
"Get a rope around his neck," said one.
"Burn the tent," said another.
"With him in it," said a third.
"What does it all mean?" Frank inquired of his friend Atwater, whom he found quietly listening to the conspirators.
"A little fun with the Gosling, I believe," said Atwater, with a shrug. "They'd better let him alone."
"The Gosling" was the nickname which the Blues had bestowed on their captain.
After a hurried consultation among the ringleaders, the company marched to the tent where the Gosling slept. Only Atwater, Frank, and a few others lingered in the rear.
"I hope they won't hurt him," said Frank. "Ought we not to give the alarm?"
"And get the lasting ill-will of the boys?" said Atwater. "We can't afford that."
The captain's tent was surrounded. Knives were drawn. Then, at a concerted signal, the ropes supporting the tent were cut. At the same time the captain's bed, which made a convenient protuberance in the side of the tent, was seized and tipped over, while tent-pole, canvas, and all, came down upon him in a mass.
"Help! guard! help!" he shrieked, struggling under the heap.
At the instant a large pile of straw, belonging to the quartermaster's department close by, burst forth in a sheet of flame which illumined the camp with its glare.
The boys now ran to their tents, laughing at the plight of their captain, as he issued, furious, from the ruins. Frank began to run too; but thinking that this would be considered an indication of guilt, he stopped. Atwater was at his side.
"We are caught," said Atwater, coolly. "There's the guard." And he folded his arms under his cape and waited.
"What shall we do?" said Frank, in great distress, not that he feared the advancing bayonets, but he remembered John Winch's arrest, and dreaded a similar degradation.
"There are two of them," said the half-dressed captain, pointing out Frank and his friend to the officer of the guard.
In his excitement he would have had them hurried off at once to the guard-tent. But fortunately the colonel of the regiment, who had been writing late in his tent, heard the alarm, and was already on the spot. He regarded the prisoners by the light of the burning straw. Frank, recovering from the trepidation of finding himself for the first time surrounded by a guard, and subject to a serious accusation returned his look with a face beaming with courage and innocence. The colonel smiled.
"Have you been meddling with Captain ——'s bed and cutting his tent down?" he asked.
"No, sir," said Frank, with a mien which bore witness to the truth.
"Do you know who set that fire?"
"What are you out of your tent for?"
"I came to see the fun, sir. If it was wrong I am very sorry."
"The boys were going to have some fun; I didn't know what, and I came to see."
"All the boys in our company."
"Which of them did the things your captain complains of?"
"I don't know, sir. They were all together; and who tipped the bed, or cut the ropes, or set the fire, I can't tell."
"It seems they were all concerned, then."
"No, sir, not all. Some did the mischief, and the rest looked on."
"Did this person with you do any of the mischief?"
"No, sir; he was with me all the time, and we kept out of it."
"How happens it, then, that only you two are caught?"
"All the rest ran."
"And why didn't you run?"
"We had not been doing anything to run for," said Frank, with convincing sincerity.
Atwater was then questioned, and gave similar answers.
"Captain ——," said the colonel, "I think it is evident these are not the persons who are most deserving of punishment. This boy, certainly, could not have been very deeply concerned in the assault, and I am inclined to place entire confidence in his story."
The captain himself appeared not a little ashamed of having accused one so young and ingenuous as the drummer boy. The prisoners were accordingly released, and the investigation of the affair was postponed until the morrow. Returning with Atwater to their tent, Frank could not repress the joy he felt at their fortunate escape. But Atwater took the whole affair with astonishing coolness, exhibiting no more emotion at their release than he had betrayed at their entrapment.
"What a fellow you are!" said Frank, staying his enthusiastic step, while his companion, with slow and stately pace, came up with him. "You don't seem to care for any thing."
"Those that care the most don't always show it," said Atwater, laconically, as they crept back into the tent.
All was hushed and dark within; but soon they heard whispers.
"Abe! Frank! that you?"
And they soon found that the tent was full of the fugitives, awaiting their return.
"What made you let 'em catch you? How did you get off?" were the first eager inquiries.
Dark as it was, Frank thought he could see Atwater shrug his shoulders and look to him for the required explanation. For Abram was a fellow of few words, and Frank was glib of speech.
So Frank, seated on his bed, related their adventure, to the great delight of the boys, who bestowed the warmest praises upon them for their spirit and fidelity. They had stood their ground when deserted by their companions; and, although they had told the truth about the whole company, they had not inculpated individuals. Thus Frank, as he afterwards learned with pleasure, had by his courage and truthfulness won both the confidence of his officers and the good will of his comrades.
The next day the company was called to an account for the offence. In reply to the captain's charges, the sergeant, acting as spokesman for the rest, stated the grievances of the men. The result was, that the captain received directions to exercise his company in the colonel's presence; and, complying reluctantly, demonstrated his own inefficiency in a manner which elicited the merriment of spectators, and even provoked the colonel to smile.
Soon after, in order to get rid of so incompetent an officer, and at the same time punish the insubordination of the men, it was resolved to disband the company. Thus was afforded to Frank the opportunity, which seemed to him almost providential, of joining Captain Edney's company, and to John Winch the desired chance to quit the service, of which he had so soon grown weary.
At this time the boys' fathers came down together to visit them. John had written home a pitiful letter, and Mr. Winch went to see about getting him off.
But Jack was no sooner out of the service than he wished to be in again. Frank, Atwater, and several others, had joined Captain Edney's company, and he determined to follow their example.
"O John!" groaned Mr. Winch, in despair at this inconstancy, "when will you learn to be a little more steady-minded? Here I have come expressly to plead your cause, and get you off; but before I have a chance, you change your mind again, and now nothing can persuade you to go home."
"Well," said John, "I didn't like the company I was in. I'm satisfied now, and I'm going to serve my country."
"Well, well," said Mr. Winch, "I shall let you do as you please. But reflect; you enlist with my consent now, and you must dismiss all hope of getting off next time you are sick of your bargain."
"O, I shan't be sick of it again," said John, as full of ambition as he had lately been of discontent and disloyalty.
In the mean time Frank made the most of his father's visit. He showed him his new tent, his knapsack and accoutrements, and his handsome drum. He introduced him to the old drummer, and to Atwater, and to Captain Edney. The latter invited them both into his tent, and was so kind to them that Frank almost shed tears of gratitude, to think that his father could go home and tell what a favorite he was with his captain. Then, when dinner-time came, Frank drew a ration for his father, in order that he might know just what sort of fare the soldiers had, and how they ate it. And so the day passed. And Frank accompanied his father to the cars, and saw him off, sending a thousand good wishes home, and promising that he would certainly get a furlough the coming week, and visit them.
Frank was disappointed in not being able to keep that promise. An order came for the regiment to be ready to march in two days; in the mean time no furloughs could be granted.
"I am sorry for you, Frank," said Captain Edney; "and I would make an exception in your case, if possible."
"No, I don't ask that, sir," said Frank, stoutly. "I did want to see my folks again, but——" He turned away his face.
"Well," said the captain, "I think it can be arranged so that you shall see them again, if only for a short time. You can warn them in season of our breaking camp, and they will meet you as we pass through Boston."
This was some consolation; although it was hard for Frank to give up the long-anticipated pleasure of visiting his family, and the satisfaction of relating his experience of a soldier's life to his sisters and mates. He had thought a good deal, with innocent vanity, of the wonder and admiration he would excite, in his uniform, fresh from camp, and bound for the battlefields of his country; but he had thought a great deal more of the happiness of breathing again the atmosphere of love and sympathy which we find nowhere but at home.
The excitement which filled the camp helped him forget his disappointment. The regiment was in fine spirits. It was impatient to be on the march. Its destination was not known; some said it was to be moved directly to Washington; others, that it was to rendezvous at Annapolis, and form a part of some formidable expedition about to be launched against the rebellion; but all agreed that what every soldier ardently desired was now before them—active service, and an enemy to be conquered.
The two days in which time the regiment was to prepare to move, became three days—four days—a week; unavoidable obstacles still delayed its departure, to the infinite vexation of Frank, who saw what a long furlough he might have enjoyed, and who repeatedly sent to his friends directions when and where to meet him, which he found himself obliged, each time, to write in haste and countermand the next morning. Such are some of the annoyances of a soldier's life.
But at length the long-delayed orders came. They were received with tumultuous joy by the impatient troops. It was necessary to send the ponderous baggage train forward a day in advance; and the tents were struck at once. All was bustle, animation, and hilarity in the camp; and a night of jubilee followed.
The drummer boy never forgot that night, amid all his subsequent adventures. While his companions were singing, shouting, and kindling fires, he could not help thinking, as he watched their animated figures lighted up by the flames, that this was, probably, the last night many of them would ever pass in their native states; that many would fall in battle, and find their graves in a southern soil; and that, perhaps, he himself was one of those who would never return.
"What are you thinking about, my bold soldier boy?" said a familiar voice, while a gentle hand slapped him on the back.
He turned and saw the bushy mustache of his friend and master, the old drummer, peering over his shoulder.
"O Mr. Sinjin!" said Frank. (The veteran wrote his name St. John, but every body called him Sinjin.) "I was afraid I should not see you again."
"Eh, and why not?"
"Because we are off in the morning, you know, and I couldn't find you to-day; and——"
"And what, my lad?" said the old man, regarding him with a very tender smile.
"I couldn't bear the thought of going without seeing you once more."
"And what should a young fellow like you want to see an ugly, battered, miserable old hulk like me, for?"
"You have been very kind to me," said Frank, getting hold of the old man's hard, rough hand; "and I shall be sorry to part with you, sir, very sorry."
"Well, well." The veteran tried in vain to appear careless and cynical, as he commonly did to other people. "You are young yet. You believe in friendship, do you?"
"And don't you?" Frank earnestly inquired.
"I did once. A great while ago. But never mind about that. I believe in you, my boy. You have not seen the world and grown corrupted; you are still capable of a disinterested attachment; and may it be long before the thoughtlessness of some, and the treachery of others, and the selfishness of all, convince you that there is no such thing as a true friend." And the old drummer gave his mustache a fierce jerk, as if he had some grudge against it.
"O Mr. Sinjin," said Frank, "I shall never think so and I am sure you do not. Haven't you any friends? Don't you really care for any body? Here are all these boys; you know a good many of us, and every body that knows you half as well as I do, likes you, and we are going off now in a few hours, and some of us will never come back; and don't you care?"
"Few, I fancy, think of me as you do," said the old man, in a slightly choking voice. "They call me Old Sinjin, without very much respect," grinning grimly under his mustache.
"But they don't mean any thing by that; they like you all the time, sir," Frank assured him.
"Well, like me or not," said the veteran, his smile softening as he looked down at the boy's face upturned so earnestly to his in the fire-light, "I have determined, if only for your sake, to share the fortunes of the regiment."
"You have? O, good! And go with us?" cried Frank, ready to dance for joy.
"I've got tired, like the rest of you, of this dull camp life," said the old drummer; "and seeing you pack your knapsack has stirred a little youthful blood in my veins which I didn't suppose was there. I'm off for the war with the rest of you, my boy;" and he poked a coal from the fire to light his cigar, hiding his face from Frank at the same time.
Frank, who could not help thinking that it was partly for his sake that the old man had come to this decision, was both rejoiced and sobered by this evidence of friendship in one who pretended not to believe there was such a thing as true friendship in the world.
"I am so glad you are going; but I am afraid you are too old; and if any thing should happen to you——" Frank somehow felt that, in that case, he would be to blame.
The old man said nothing, but kept poking at the coal with a trembling hand.
"Here, Old Sinjin," said Jack Winch, "have a match. Don't be singin' your mustaches over the fire for nothing;" with an irreverent pun on the old man's name.
"Mr. Sinjin is going with us, Jack," said Frank.
"Is he? Bully for you, old chap!" said Jack, as the veteran, with a somewhat contemptuous smile, accepted the proffered match, and smoked away in silence. "We are going to have a gallus old time; nothing could hire me to stay at home." For Jack, when inspired by the idea of change, was always enthusiastic; he was then always going to have a gallus old time, if any body knows what that is. "Here goes my shoes," pitching those which he had worn from home into the fire.
"Why, Jack," said Frank, "what do you burn them for? Those were good shoes yet."
"I know it. But I couldn't carry them. The other boys are burning up all their old boots and shoes. Uncle Sam furnishes us shoes now."
"But you should have sent them home, Jack; I sent mine along with my clothes. If you don't ever want them again yourself, somebody else may."
"What do I care for somebody else? I care more for seeing the old things curl and fry in the fire as if they was mad. O, ain't that a splendid blaze! It's light as day all over the camp. By jimmy, the fellows there are going to have a dance."
John ran off. Old Sinjin had also taken his departure, evidently not liking young Winch's company. Frank was left once more to his own thoughts, watching the picturesque groups about the fires. It was now midnight. The last of the old straw from the emptied ticks had been cast into the flames, and the broken tent-floors were burning brilliantly. Some of the wiser ones were bent on getting a little sleep. Frank saw Atwater spreading his rubber blanket on the ground, and resolved to follow his example. Others did the same; and with their woollen blankets over them; their knapsacks under their heads, and their feet to the fire, they bivouacked merrily under the lurid sky.
It was Frank's first experience of a night in the open air. The weather was mild, although it was now November; the fires kept them warm; and but for the noises made by the wilder sort of fellows they would have slept well in that novel fashion. The drummer boy sank several times into a light slumber, but as often started up, to hear the singing and laughter, and to see Atwater sleeping all the while calmly at his side, the wakeful ones making sport and keeping up the fires, and the flames glittering dimly on the stacks of arms. The last time he awoke it was day; and the short-lived camp-fires were paling their sad rays before the eternal glory of the sunrise.
The veteran Sinjin beat the drummer's call. Frank seized his drum and hurried to join his friend,—beating with him the last reveille which was to rouse up the regiment in the Old Bay State.
After roll-call, breakfast; then the troops were drawn up under arms, preparatory to their departure. A long train of a dozen cars was at the depot, in readiness to receive the regiment, which now marched out of the old camping-ground to the gay music of a band from a neighboring city.
After waiting an hour on the train, they heard the welcome whistle of the engine, and the still more welcome clang of the starting cars, and off they went amid loud cheers and silent tears.
Frank had no relatives or near friends in the crowd left behind, as many of his comrades had, but his heart beat fast with the thought that there were loved ones whom he should meet soon.
But the regiment reached Boston, and marched through the streets, and paraded on the Common; and all the while his longing eyes looked in vain for his friends, who never appeared. It seemed to him that nearly every other fellow in his company saw friends either on the march or at the halt, while he alone was left unnoticed and uncomforted. And so his anticipated hour of enjoyment was changed to one of bitterness.
Why was it? His last letter must have had time to reach his family. Besides, they might have seen by the newspapers that the regiment was coming. Why then did they fail to meet him? His heart swelled with grief as he thought of it,—he was there, so near home, for perhaps the last time, and nobody that he loved was with him during those precious, wasting moments.
But, suddenly, as he was casting his eyes for the twentieth time along the lines of spectators, searching for some familiar face, he heard a voice—not father's or mother's, or sister's, but one scarcely less dear than the dearest.
"My bwother Fwank! me want my bwother Fwank!"
And turning, he saw little Willie running towards him, almost between the legs of the policemen stationed to keep back the crowd.
If ever "bwother Fwank" felt a thrill of joy, it was then. Willie ran straight to his arms, in spite of the long-legged officer striding to catch him, and pulling down his neck, hugged him, and kissed him, and hugged and kissed him again, with such ardor that the delighted bystanders cheered, and the pursuing policeman stepped back with a laugh of melting human kindness.
"He's too much for me, that little midget is," he said, returning to his place. "Does he belong to you, ma'am?" addressing a lady whose humid eyes betrayed something more than a stranger's interest in the scene.
"They are my children," said the lady. "Will you be so good, sir, as to tell the drummer boy to step this way?"
But already Frank was coming. How thankful he then felt that he was not a private, confined to the ranks! In a minute his mother's arm was about him, and her kiss was on his cheek, and Helen was squeezing one hand, and his father the other, while Willie was playing with his drumsticks.
"I am all the more glad," he said, his face shining with gratitude and pleasure, "because I was just giving you up—thinking you wouldn't come at all."
"Only think," said Helen, "because you wrote on your letter, In haste, the postmaster gave it to Maggie Simpson yesterday to deliver, for she was going right by our house; but Dan Alford came along and asked her to ride, and she forgot all about the letter, and would never have thought of it again, I suppose, if I hadn't seen the postmaster and set off on the track of it this morning. She had gone over to her aunt's, and I had to follow her there; and then she had to go home again, to get the letter out of her other dress pocket; but her sister Jane had by this time got on the dress, in place of her own, which was being washed, and worn it to school; and so we had to go on a wild-goose chase after Jane."
"Well, I hope you had trouble enough for one letter!" said Frank.
"But you haven't heard all yet," said Helen, laughing, "for when we found Jane, she had not the letter, she had taken it out of the pocket, when she put the dress on, and left it on the bureau at home. So off again we started, Maggie and I, but before we got to her house, the letter had gone again—her mother had found it in the mean time, and sent it to us by the butcher boy. Well, I ran home, but no butcher boy had made his appearance; and, do you think, when I got to the meat shop, I found him deliberately sawing off a bone for his dog, with your letter in his greasy pocket."
"He had forgotten it too!" said Frank.
"Not he! but he didn't think it of very much importance, and he intended to bring it to us some time during the day—after he had fed his dog! By this time father had got news that the regiment was in town; and such a rush as we made for the horse-cars you never did see!"
"But Hattie! where is she?" Frank asked, anxiously.
Helen's vivacious face saddened a little.
"O, we came away in such a hurry we couldn't bring her, even if she had been well enough."
"In she worse?"
"She gets no better," said Mrs. Manly, "and she herself thought she ought not to try to come. Maggie Simpson offered to stay with her."
"I am so sorry! I wanted to see her. Did she send any message to me?"
"Yes," said his mother. "She said, 'Give my love to dear brother, and tell him to think of me sometimes.'"
"Think of her sometimes!" said Frank. "Tell her I shall always think of her and love her."
By this time Captain Edney, seeing Frank with his friends, came towards them. Frank hastened to hide his emotion; and, saluting the officer respectfully, said to him, with a glow of pleasure:—
"Captain Edney, this is my mother."
Captain Edney lifted his cap, with a bright smile.
"Well," he said, "this is a meeting I rather think neither of us ever looked forward to, when we used to spend those long summer days in the old schoolhouse, which I hope you remember."
"I remember it well—and one bright-faced boy in particular," said Mrs. Manly, pressing his hand cordially.
"A rather mischievous boy, I am afraid I was; a little rebel myself, in those days," said the captain.
"Yet a boy that I always hoped much good of," said Mrs. Manly. "I cannot tell you how gratified I am to feel that my son is entrusted in your hands."
"You may be sure I will do what I can for him," said the captain, "if only to repay your early care of me."
He then conversed a few moments with Mr. Manly, who was always well satisfied to stand a little in the background, and let his wife have her say first.
"And this, I suppose, is Frank's sister," turning to Helen. "I should have known her, I think, for she looks so much as you used to, Mrs. Manly, that I can almost fancy myself stepping up to her with my slate, and saying, 'Please, ma'am, show me about this sum?'"
Frank, in the mean time, was occupied in exhibiting to Willie his drum, and in preventing him, partly by moral suasion, but chiefly by main force, from gratifying his ardent desire to pound upon it.
"And here is our little brother," said the captain, lifting Willie, notwithstanding his struggles and kicks, and kissing his shy, pouting cheeks. "He'll make a nice drummer boy too, one of these days."
This royal flattery won the child over to his new friend immediately.
"Me go to war with my bwother Fwank! dwum, and scare webels!" panting earnestly over his important little story, which the captain was obliged to cut short.
"Well, Frank, I suppose you would like to spend the rest of the time with your friends. Be at the Old Colony depot at five o'clock. Meanwhile,"—touching his cap,—"a pleasant time to all of you."
So saying, be left them, and Frank departed with his friends, carrying his drum with him, to the great delight of little Willie, whose heart would have been broken if all hope of being allowed to drum upon it had been cut off by leaving it behind.
"Mrs. Gillett has invited us to bring you to her house," said Mrs. Manly. "I want to have a long talk with you there; and I want Mrs. Gillett's brother, the minister, to see you."
Frank was not passionately fond of ministers; and immediately an unpleasant image rose in his mind, of a solemn, black-coated individual, who took a mournful satisfaction in damping the spirits of young people by his long and serious conversations.
"You needn't strut so, Frank, if you have got soldier clothes on," laughed Helen. "I'll tell folks you are smart, if you are so particular to have them know it."
"Do, if you please," said Frank. "And I'll tell 'em you're handsome, if you'll put your veil down so they won't know but that I am telling the truth."
"There, Helen," said Mrs. Manly, "you've got your joke back with interest. Now I'd hold my tongue, if I was you."
"Frank and I wouldn't know each other if we didn't have a little fun together," said Helen. "Besides, we'll all feel serious enough by and by, I guess." For she loved her brother devotedly, much as she delighted to tease him; and she would have been glad to drown in merry jests the thought of the final parting, which was now so near at hand.
They were cordially received at Mrs. Gillett's house; and there Mrs. Manly enjoyed the wished-for opportunity of talking with her son, and Willie had a chance to beat the drum in the attic, and Mrs. Gillett secretly emptied Frank's haversack of its rations of pork and hard tack, and filled it again with excellent bread and butter, slices of cold lamb, and sponge cake. Moreover, a delightful repast was prepared for the visitors, at which Frank laughed at his own awkwardness, declaring that he had eaten from a tin plate so long, with his drumhead for a table, that he had almost forgotten the use of china and napkins.
"If Hattie was only here now!" he said, again and again. For it needed only his invalid sister's presence, during these few hours, to make him perfectly happy.
"Eat generously," said the minister, "for it may be long before you sit at a table again."
"Perhaps I never shall," thought Frank, but he did not say so lest he might hurt his mother's feelings.
The minister was not at all such a person as he had expected to see, but only a very pleasant gentleman, not at all stiffened with the idea that he had the dignity of the profession to sustain. He was natural, friendly, and quite free from that solemn affectation which now and then becomes second nature in ministers some of us know, but which never fails to repel the sympathies of the young.
Mr. Egglestone was expecting soon to go out on a mission to the troops, and it was for this reason Mrs. Manly wished them to become acquainted.
"I wish you were going with our regiment," said Frank. "We have got a chaplain, I believe, but I have never seen him yet, or seen any body who has seen him."
"Well, I hope at least I shall meet you, if we both reach the seat of war," said the minister, drawing him aside. "But whether I do or not, I am sure that, with such a good mother as you have, and such dear sisters as you leave behind, you will never need a chaplain to remind you that you have something to preserve more precious than this mortal life of ours,—the purity and rectitude of your heart."
This was spoken so sincerely and affectionately that Frank felt those few words sink deeper into his soul than the most labored sermon could have done. Mr. Egglestone said no more, but putting his arm confidingly over the boy's shoulder, led him back to his mother.
And now the hour of parting had come. Frank's friends, including the minister, went with him to the cars. Arrived at the depot, they found it thronged with soldiers, and surrounded by crowds of citizens.
"O, mother!" said Frank, "you must see our drum-major, old Mr. Sinjin—my teacher, you know. There he is; I'll run and fetch him!"
He returned immediately, dragging after him the grizzled veteran, who seemed reluctant, and looked unusually stern.
"It's my mother and father, you know," said Frank. "They want to shake hands with you."
"What do they care for me?" said the old man, frowning.
Frank persisted, and introduced his father. The veteran returned Mr. Manly's salute with rigid military courtesy, without relaxing a muscle of his austere countenance.
"And this is my mother," said Frank.
With still more formal and lofty politeness, the old man bent his martial figure, and quite raised his cap from his old gray head.
"Madam, your very humble servant!"
"Mr. St. John!" exclaimed Mrs. Manly, in astonishment. "Is it possible that this is my old friend St. John?"
"Madam," said the veteran, with difficulty keeping up his cold, formal exterior, "I hardly expected you would do me the honor to remember one so unworthy;" bending lower than before, and raising his hat again, while his lips twitched nervously under his thick mustache.
"Why, where did you ever see him, mother?" cried Frank, with eager interest.
"Mr. St. John was an old friend of your grandfather's, Frank. Surely, sir, you have not forgotten the little girl you used to take on your knee and feed with candy?"—for the old man was still looking severe and distant.
"I have not forgotten many pleasant things—and some not so pleasant, which I would have forgotten by every body." And the old drummer gave his mustache a vindictive pull.
"Be sure," said Mrs. Manly, "I remember nothing of you that was not kind and honorable. I think you must have known who my son was, you have been so good to him. But why did you not inform him, or me through him, who you were? I would have been so glad to know about you."
"I hardly imagined that."—The old cynical smile curled the heavy mustache.—"And if I could be of any service to your son, it was needless for you to know of it. I was Mr. St. John when you knew me; but I am nobody but Old Sinjin now. Madam, I wish you a very good-day, and much happiness. Your servant, sir!"
And shaking hands stiffly, first with Mrs. Manly, then with her husband, the strange old man stalked away.
"Who is he? what is it about him?" asked Frank, stung with curiosity. "Never did I think you knew Old Sinjin."
"Your father knows about him, and I will tell you some time," said Mrs. Manly, her eyes following the retreating figure with looks of deep compassion. "In the mean time, be very kind to him, very gentle and respectful, my son."
"I will," said Frank, "but it is all so strange! I can't understand it."
"Well, never mind now. Here is Captain Edney talking with Helen and Mr. Egglestone, and Willie is playing with his scabbard. Pretty well acquainted this young gentleman is getting!" said Mrs. Manly, hastening to take the child away from the sword.