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Title: Captain Jinks, Hero Author: Ernest Crosby * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 0602181h.html Edition: 1 Language: English Character set encoding: Latin-1(ISO-8859-1)--8 bit Date first posted: June 2006 Date most recently updated: June 2006 This eBook was produced by: Richard Scott Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html
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"Bless my soul! I nearly forgot," exclaimed Colonel Jinks, as he came back into the store. "Tomorrow 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 firearms 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 batallion, 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 barn-yard 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 want 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," aid 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 tomorrow. 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 Boy's 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 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, crooked-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 were 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."
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 snapshot 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 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 to 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 twelve-month 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 skillfully 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 deemed 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 the 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 to 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.
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 fiancé, 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 lift 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 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 tomorrow afternoon. I must have a 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 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 fiancée 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 tonight, 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 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 brewer's 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 tomorrow 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 Skinners'--"
"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 today. 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 fulfill 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 today, 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 these 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.
"What a mean, poor-spirited lot," he thought. "Here they are, following their wretched plows without a thought of the brave soldiers who are defending their country and themselves so many leagues away. It is the soldier, suffering from hunger and fever and falling on the battlefield in the agony of death, who makes it possible for these fellows to spend their days in pleasant exercise in the fields. The soldier bears civilization on his back, he supports all the rest, he is the pedestal which bears without complaint the civilian as an idle ornament. The soldier, in short, is the real man, the only perfect product of creation."
And his heart was filled with thankfulness that he had selected the career of a soldier and that there never could be any doubt of his usefulness to the world. The only other occupants of the omnibus were two men--one of them a commercial traveler, and the other an aged resident of Slowburgh who had been at the county town for the day, as Sam gathered from their conversation.
"I don't suppose that the war has caused much excitement at Slowburgh?" asked Sam at last, introducing the subject uppermost in his mind.
"It ain't jest what it was when I went to the war," said the old man; "but there is a deal o' talk about it, and all the young men are wanting to go."
"Are they?" cried Sam, in delight. "And did you serve in the war? How very interesting! Did you offer your life for your country without hope of reward?"
"That's just what I did, young man, and if you doubt it, here's my pension that I drew today in town, twelve dollars a month, and they've paid it now these thirty-four years."
"That's a pretty soft thing," said the commercial man. "Better'n selling fountain-pens in the backwoods."
"A soft thing!" cried the old man, "I ought to have twice as much. There's Abe Tucker gets fifteen dollars because he caught cold on picket duty, and I get a beggarly twelve."
"Were you severely wounded?" asked Sam.
"Well, no-o-o, not exactly, tho I might just as well 'a' been. I was down bad with the measles. This is an ongrateful country. Here it is only thirty-five years after the war, and they're only paying a hundred and forty millions a year to only a million pensioners. It's a beggarly shame!"
"Were there that many men in the war?" asked the traveler.
"Pretty near it, I reckon. But p'r'aps in thirty-five years there'd be a natural increase. Think of it, a million men throwing away their lives for a nothing like that! I jest tell our young fellers that they'd better stay at home. Why, we've had to fight for what we've got. You wouldn't think it, but we've had to pass around the hat, and shove it hard under the nose of Congress, too, just as if we were beggars and frauds, and as if we hadn't sacrificed everything for our country!"
"It's an outrage," cried Sam sympathetically. "But I hope you won't keep the young men from going. I'm going soon, and perhaps the country will be more generous in future."
"Take my advice, young man, and whenever anything happens to you while you're away, take down the names of the witnesses and keep their affidavits. Then you'll be all ready to get your pension as soon as you come back. It took me three years to straighten out mine. Then I got the back pay, of course, but I ought to have had it before. I've got a claim in now for eight dollars more a month running all the way back. It amounts to over three thousand dollars, and I ought to have it."
"Was that for the measles, too?" asked the stranger.
The old man glared at his interrogator, but did not deign to reply.
"Our Congressman, old Jinks, has my claim," he said, turning to Sam. "But he doesn't seem to be able to do anything with it."
"He's my uncle," said Sam, fearing that he might hear something against his worthy relative.
"So you're George Jinks' nephew, are you? Are you goin' to be a captain? Do tell! I read about it in the Slowburgh Herald last week. I'm real glad to see you. You're the first officer I've seen in ten years except the recruiting officer last week."
"Did they have a recruiting officer here, in Slowburgh?" asked Sam.
"Yes, they did, and there was thirteen fellers wanted to go, but he only took five of 'em, and they hain't gone yet. The rest was too short or too fat or too thin or something."
"Didn't any more men want to go than that?"
"No," said the old man. "They all want to wear soldier-clothes, but they don't all want to go fighting. They've got up a militia battalion for them now, and 'most everybody in town's got a uniform. I hadn't seen a uniform in the county before in I don't know how long--except firemen, I should say."
"I'm so glad they've got them now," cried Sam. "Doesn't it improve the looks of the place? It's so much more homelike and-d-d glorious, don't you think so?"
The old man had no opportunity to reply, as the 'bus now drew up at the front door of the principal hotel. The commercial traveler got out first and went into the house; the old man followed, and turning to Sam as he passed him, he said with a glance at the vanishing stranger:
"He's a copperhead, that feller."
He went on toward the bar-room door, but called back as he went:
"If you get lonesome over at Jinks', come in here in the evening. Ask for me; my name's Reddy."
Sam did not get out of the omnibus, but told the driver to take him to Congressman Jinks'; and on they went, first to the right and then to the left along the wide and gently winding streets, which would have been well shaded with maples if the yellow leaves had not already begun to fall. They drove in at last through a gate in a wooden fence and round a semi-circular lawn to the front of a comfortable frame house, and in a few moments he was received with open arms by his relations.
Congressman Jinks was a widower and had several children, all of whom, however, were away at school except his eldest daughter, a young lady of Sam's age, and his youngest, a girl of seven. The former, Mary, was a tall damsel with fair hair and a decidedly attractive manner. Mr. Jinks reminded Sam of his father with the added elegancies of many years' life at the Capital.
"Well, Samuel, I am glad to see you at last. We know all about you, and we're expecting great things from you," he cried out in a hearty voice. Sam felt at home at once.
"Come, Mary, show your cousin his room. Here, give me your grip. Yes, you must let me carry it. Now get ready for supper as soon as you can. It's all ready whenever you are."
After supper they all sat round a wood fire, for it was a little chilly in the evening now. Mr. Jinks had his little girl in his lap, and they talked over family history and the events of the day. Sam asked who Mr. Reddy was whom he had met in the train.
"Oh! you mean old Reddy. Was he drunk? No? That's odd."
"He'd been away for the day drawing his pension," said Sam.
"Of course," said Mr. Jinks. "I might have known it. That is his one sober day in the month. He sobers up to go to town, but he'll make up for lost time tonight. That twelve dollars will last just a week, and it all goes into the bar-room till. He's been that way ever since I was a boy, tho they say he was a steady enough young fellow before he went to the war. It's a curious coincidence, but there are two or three old rum-soaked war veterans like that hanging round every tavern in the country, and I'd like to know how much pension money goes that way. It's a great system tho, that pension system. I see something of it in Whoppington when I'm attending Congress. It distributes the money of the country and circulates it among the people. I like to see the amount increase every year. It's a healthy sign. I'm trying to get some more for Reddy. It helps the county just that much. Swan, the hotel man, spends it here. I believe in protecting home industries and fostering our home market. I wish you could have heard my speech on the war-tax bill--it covered that point. My, how this war is costing, tho! A million dollars a day! But it's well worth it. The more money we spend and the higher the taxes, the more circulation there is. You ought to see how things are booming at Whoppington. I'm sorry you couldn't come to see me there, but I had to be here this week looking after election matters in my district. In Whoppington all the hotels are full of contractors and men looking for commissions in the army, and promoters and investors, all with an eye to the Cubapines. You can just see how the war has brought prosperity!"
"I should have liked to see Whoppington very much," said Sam, "but I suppose I must wait till I come back. It must be very different from other cities. You must feel there as if you were at the center of things--at the very mainspring of all our life, I mean."
"You've hit the nail on the head," said his uncle. "Whoppington holds up all the rest of the country. There is the Government that makes everything go. There's no business there to speak of; no manufacturers, no agriculture in the country round--nothing to distract your attention but the power of the Administration that lies behind all the rest. Just think what this country would be without Whoppington! Just imagine the capital city sinking into the ground and what would we all do? Even here at Slowburgh what would be left for us?"
"Wouldn't we have breakfast tomorrow morning, papa?" asked the little girl in his lap.
"Er-er-well, perhaps we might have breakfast--"
"Wouldn't we have clothes, papa?"
"Perhaps we might have--but no, we couldn't either; it's the tariff that gives us our clothes by keeping all foreign clothes out of the country, and then we shouldn't have er-er--"
"It would upset the post-office," suggested Sam, coming to the rescue.
"Yes, to be sure, that is what I meant. It would cause a serious delay in the mails, that's certain."
"And then there would be no soldiers," added Sam.
"Of course. How stupid of me to overlook that. How would you like to see no soldiers in the street?"
"I shouldn't like it at all, papa."
"Yes, my dear boy," he proceeded, turning to Sam, "I would not want to have it repeated in my district, but I confess that I am always homesick for Whoppington when I am here. That's the real world there. There's the State Department where they manage all the foreign affairs of the world. What could we do without foreign affairs? And the Agricultural Department. How could we get in our crops without it? And the Labor Department. Every man who does a day's work depends on the Labor Department for his living, we may say. And the--"
"The War Department," said Sam.
"Yes, the War Department. We depend on that for our wars. Perhaps at first that does not seem to be so useful, but--"
"Oh! but, Uncle George, surely it is the most useful of all. What could we do without wars. Just fancy a country without wars!"
"I don't know but you're right, Sam."
"And then the Treasury Department depends a good deal on the War Department," said Sam, in triumph, "for without the War Department and the army it wouldn't have any pensions to pay."
"Papa," said Mary Jinks, who had modestly taken no part in a conversation whose wisdom was clearly beyond her comprehension--"papa, why didn't everybody go to the war like Mr. Reddy, and then they'd all have pensions and nobody'd have to work."
"It's their own fault if they didn't," answered her father; "and if some people are overworked they have only their own selves to thank for it. I have no patience with the complaints of these socialists and anarchists that the poor are getting poorer and the number of unemployed increasing. In a country with pensions and war taxes and a tariff there's no excuse for poverty at all."
"Yes," said Sam, "they could all enlist if they wanted to."
The following day was spent in driving about the country. Mr. Jinks was obliged to visit the various centers in his Congressional district, and he took Sam with him on one of these expeditions. The country was beautiful in the clear, cold autumn air. The mountains stood out blue on the horizon, and the trees were brilliant with red and yellow leaves. Sam, however, had no eyes for these things. He was eager to hear about the militia company, and was pleased to see several pairs of military trousers, altho they were made to do duty with civilian coats. Such for him were the incidents of the day. After supper in the evening he bethought him of old Reddy's invitation to the hotel bar-room, and thinking that he might learn more about the local military situation there, he excused himself and hied him thither. He found the room crowded with the wiseacres of the place, the Bohemian, drinking element perhaps predominating. The room was so full of smoke that, as Sam entered, he could hardly distinguish its contents, but he saw a confused mass of men in wooden arm-chairs tipped at every conceivable angle, surrounding a tall round stove which was heated white hot. The room was intensely warm and apparently totally wanting in ventilation.
"Here's my friend, Captain Jinks," said a husky voice which Sam recognized as that of old Reddy. "Here, take this chair near the fire."
Sam accepted the offered chair, altho he would have preferred a situation a little less torrid.
"Gentlemen, this is Captain Jinks," said the old man, determined to get all the credit he could from his acquaintance with Sam. "Captain, this is my friend, Mr. Jackson."
Mr. Jackson was a tall, thin, narrow-chested man with no shoulders, a rounded back, and a gray, tobacco-stained mustache.
His face was covered with pimples, and a huge quid of tobacco was concealed under his cheek. He was sitting on a chair tipped back rather beyond the danger-point, and his feet rested on the rim which projected from the stove half-way up. He made no effort to rise, but slowly extended a grimy, clammy hand which Sam pressed with some hesitation.
"Glad to make your acquaintance, Captain," he drawled in a half-cracked voice that suggested damaged lungs and vocal organs. "Shake hands with Mr. Tucker."
Mr. Tucker, a little, old, red-faced man on the other side of the stove, advanced and went through the ceremony suggested.
"We were just a-talking about them Cubapinos," explained Reddy. "The idee of them fellers a-pitching into us after all we've done for 'em. It's outrageous. They're only monkeys anyway, and they ought to be shot, every mother's son on 'em. Haven't we freed 'em from the cruel Castalians that they've been hating so for three hundred years?"
"They seem to be hating us pretty well just now," said a man in the corner, whose voice sounded familiar to Sam. He turned and recognized the commercial traveler of the day before.
"They're welcome to hate us," answered Jackson, "and when it comes to a matter of hating I shouldn't think much of us if we couldn't make 'em hate us as much in a year as the Castalians could in three hundred. They're a blamed slow lot and we ain't. That's all there is of it. What do you think, Captain?"
"I fear," said Sam, "that they don't quite understand the great blessings we're conferring on them."
"What blessings?" asked the drummer.
"Why," said Sam, "liberty and independence--no, I don't mean independence exactly, but liberty and freedom."
"Then why don't we leave them alone instead of fighting them?"
"What an idee!" exclaimed Tucker. "They don't know what liberty is, and we must teach 'em if we have to blow their brains out."
"You're too hard on 'em, Tucker," drawled Mr. Jackson. "We mustn't expect so much from pore savages who live in a country so hot that they can't progress like we do." Here Mr. Jackson took off his hat and wiped the beads of perspiration from his brow with a red bandanna handkerchief. "Don't expect too much from cannibals that have their brains half roasted by the tropical sun."
"That's a fact!" said some one in the throng.
"Yes," said Jackson, crossing his legs on a level well above his head, "them pore critters need our civilization, that's what they need," and he dexterously squirted a mouthful of tobacco juice on the white-hot stove, where it sizzled and gradually evaporated. "We must make real men of 'em. We must give 'em our strength and vigor and intelligence. They're a dirty lot of lazy beggars, that's the long and short of it, and we must turn 'em into gentlemen like us!"
A general murmur of approval followed this outburst.
"I hear," said Sam, anxious to get some definite information as to the warriors of the town, "I hear that several Slowburghers are going to the war."
"Yes," said Tucker, while Jackson after his effort settled down into a semi-comatose state, "six of our boys are a-going. There's Davy Black, he drives the fastest horse in these parts, and Tom Slade. Where is Tom? He's generally here. They'll miss him here at the hotel, and Jim Thomson who used to be bartender over at Bloodgood's, and the two Thatchers--they're cousins--that makes five."
"The village ought to be glad they are going to represent her at the front," said Sam.
"From all I can hear," said the commercial man, "I think they are."
"Naturally," cried Sam, "it will reflect great glory on the place. You ought to be proud of them."
"It'll help the insurance business here," said a young man who had not yet spoken.
"How is that?" asked Sam. "I don't exactly see."
"Well, it's this way. You see I'm in the insurance business and I can't write a policy on a barn in this township, there's been so many burned; and while I don't want to say nothing against anybody, we think maybe they won't burn so much when the Thatchers clear out."
"Nothin' ain't ever been proved against 'em," said Tucker.
"That's true," said the young man, "but perhaps there might have been if they'd stayed. They say that Squire Jones was going to have Josh Thatchers arrested next week for his barn, but he's agreed to let up if he'd go to the Cubapines. Maybe that isn't true, but they say so."
"I venture to say that it is a mistake," said Sam, who had been much pained by the conversation. "Young men who are so patriotic in the hour of need must be men of high character."
"Maybe they are and maybe they aren't," replied the insurance agent, "but old Mrs. Crane told me she was going to buy chickens again next week for her chicken-yard. There was so many stolen last year that she gave up keeping them, but next week she's beginning again, and next week the Thatchers are going away. It's a coincidence, anyhow."
"Oh, boys will be boys," said Reddy. "When they get a good pension they'll be just as respectable as you or me. Here comes Tom Slade now, and Josh Thatcher, too."
The door had opened, and through the smoke Sam descried two young men, one a slight wiry fellow, the other a large, broad-shouldered, fair-haired man with a dull expression of the eye.
"Who says 'drinks all around'?" cried the former. "Everybody's blowing us off now."
"Here," said Jackson, waking up, "I'll do it, hanged if I don't. You fellows are a-going' to civilize the Cubapines, and you deserve all the liquor you can carry."
He got up and approached the bar and the crowd followed him, and soon every one was supplied with some kind of beverage.
"Here's to Thatcher and Slade! May they represent Slowburgh honorably in the Cubapines and show 'em what Slowburghers are like," said Jackson, elevating his iced cocktail.
The health was heartily drunk.
"And here is to that distinguished officer, Captain Jinks. Long may he wave!" cried old Reddy.
"Speech, speech!" exclaimed the convivial crowd.
"Gentlemen," responded Sam, "I am a soldier and not an orator, but I am proud to have my name coupled with those of your honored fellow townsmen. It is a sign of the greatness of our country that men of just the same character are in all quarters of this mighty republic answering their country's call. Soon we shall have the very pick of our youth collected on the shores of these ungrateful islanders who have turned against their best friends, and these misguided people will see for themselves the fruits of our civilization as we see it, in the persons of our soldiers. Permit me in responding to your flattering toast to propose the names of Mr. Reddy and Mr. Tucker as representatives of an older generation of patriots whose example we are happy to have before us for our guidance."
This, Sam's first speech, was received with great applause, and then Josh Thatcher proposed three cheers for Captain Jinks, which were given with a will. The only perverse spirit was that of the commercial traveler, who had sat in the corner reading an old copy of the Slowburgh Herald, and now on hearing the cheers, took a candle and went upstairs to bed.
"That man's no good," said Reddy with a shake of his head. While the whole company were expressing their concurrence with this sentiment, Sam bade them good-night and took his leave.
By the next morning's mail Sam's commission arrived, and with it orders to report at once at the city of St. Kisco, whence a transport was about to sail on a date which gave Sam hardly time to catch it. He must hurry at once to town and get his new uniforms for which he had been fitted the week before, and then proceed by the fastest trains on the long journey to the distant port without even paying his parents a farewell visit. He found Cleary busily engaged in making his final arrangements, and persuaded him to cut them short and travel with him. Sam had hardly time to take breath from the moment of his departure from Slowburgh to the evening on which he and Cleary at last sat down in their sleeping-car. His friend heaved a deep sigh.
"Well, here we are actually off and I haven't got anything to do for a change. This is what I call comfort."
"Yes," said Sam, "but I wish we were in the Cubapines. This inaction is terrible while so much is at stake. It's a consolation to know that I am going to help to save the country, but it is tantalizing to wait so long. Then in your own way you're going to help the country too," he added, thinking that he might seem to Cleary to be monopolizing the honors.
"I'll help it by helping you," laughed Cleary. "I've got another contract for you. You see the magazines are worth working. They handle the news after the newspapers are through with it, and they don't interfere with each other. So I got permission to tackle them from The Lyre, and I saw the editor of Scribblers' Magazine yesterday and it's a go, if things come out as I expect."
"What do you mean?" asked Sam.
"Why, you are to write articles for them, a regular series, and the price is to be fixed on a sliding scale according to your celebrity at the time of each publication. It won't be less than a hundred dollars a page, and may run up to a thousand. It wouldn't be fair to fix the price ahead. If the articles run say six months, the last article might be worth ten times as much as the first."
"Yes, it might be better written," said Sam.
"Oh, I don't mean that. But your name might be more of an ad. by that time."
"I've never written anything to print in my life," said Sam, "and I'm not sure I can."
"That doesn't make any difference. I'll write them for you. You might be too modest anyhow. I can't think of a good name for the series. It ought to be 'The Autobiography of a Hero,' or 'A Modern Washington in the Cubapines,' or something like that. What do you think?"
"I'm sure I don't know," said Sam. "I must leave that to you. They sound to me rather too flattering, but if you are sure that is the way those things are always done, I won't make any objection. You might ask Mr. Jonas. Where is he?"
"He's going on next week. He's the greatest fellow I ever saw. Everything he touches turns to gold. He's got his grip on everything in sight on those blessed islands already. He's scarcely started, and he could sell out his interests there for a cold million to-day. It's going to be a big company to grab everything. He's called it the 'Benevolent Assimilation Company, Limited'; rather a good name, I think, tho perhaps 'Unlimited' would be nearer the truth."
"Yes," said Sam. "It shows our true purposes. I hope the Cubapinos will rejoice when they hear the name."
"Perhaps they won't. There's no counting on those people. I'm sick of them before I've seen them. I'm just going to tell what a lot of skins they are when I begin writing for The Lyre. By the way, did you have your photographs taken at Slowburgh?"
"No," said Sam, "I forgot all about it, but I can write home about the old ones, and I've got one in cadet uniform taken at East Point."
"Well, we mustn't forget to have you taken at St. Kisco, and we can mail the photos to The Lyre, but you must be careful not to overlook a thing like that again. The people will want to know what the hero who saved the country looked like."
"Even if I don't do anything very wonderful," said Sam, "and I hope I shall, I shall be taking part in a great work, and doing my share of civilizing and Christianizing a barbarous country. They have no conception of our civilized and refined manners, of the sway of law and order, of all our civilized customs, the result of centuries of improvement and effort."
Cleary picked up a newspaper to read.
"What's that other newspaper lying there?" asked Sam.
"That's The Evening Star; do you want it?" and he handed it to him.
"Good Lord! what's that frightful picture?" said Cleary, as Sam opened the paper. "Oh, I see; it's that lynching yesterday. Why, it's from a snap-shot; that's what I call enterprise! There's the darkey tied to the stake, and the flames are just up to his waist. My! how he squirms. It's fearful, isn't it? And look at the crowd! There are small boys bringing wood, and women and girls looking on, and, upon my word, a baby in arms, too! I know that square very well. I've often been there. That's the First Presbyterian Church there behind the stake. Rather a handsome building," and Cleary turned back to his own paper, while Sam settled down in his corner to read how the leading citizens gathered bones and charred flesh as mementoes and took them home to their children. No one could have guessed what he was reading from his expression, for his face spoke of nothing but a guileless conscience and a contented heart.
One day at St. Kisco gave just time enough for the photographs, and most of the day was devoted to them. Sam was taken in twenty poses--in the act of leading his troops in a breach, giving the order to fire, charging bayonets himself with a musket supposed to have been taken from a dead foe, standing with his arms folded and his cap pulled over his eyes in the trenches, and waving his cap on a bastion in the moment of triumph. Cleary lay down so that his friend might be pictured with his foot upon his prostrate form. The photographer was one who made a specialty of such work, and was connected with a cinematograph company.
"If you have good luck, sir, and become famous," he said, "as your friend thinks you will, we'll fight your battles over again over there in the vacant lot; and then we'll work these in, and you'll soon be in every variety show in the country."
"But I may be mounted on horseback," said Sam.
"That's so," said Cleary. "Can't you get a horse somewhere and take him on that?"
"We never do that, sir. Here's a saddle. Just sit on it across this chair, and when the time comes we'll work it in all right. We'll have a real horse over in the lot." And thus Sam was taken straddling a chair.
They left orders to send copies of the photographs to Homeville, Slowburgh, and to Miss Hunter who was still at East Point, and the remainder to The Lyre. That very evening they boarded the transport and at daybreak sailed away over the great ocean. The ship was filled by various drafts for different regiments and men-of-war. Sam's regiment was already at the seat of war, but there were several captains and lieutenants assigned to it on board, as well as thirty or forty men. Sam felt entirely comfortable again for the first time since his resignation at East Point. He was in his element, the military world, once more. Everything was ruled by drum, fife, and bugle. He found the same feeling of intense patriotism again, which civilians can not quite attain to, however they may make the attempt. The relations between some of the officers seemed to Sam somewhat strange. The highest naval officer on board, a captain, was not on speaking terms with the highest army officer, a brigadier-general of volunteers. This breach apparently set the fashion, for all the way down, through both arms of the service, there were jealousies and quarrels. There was one great subject of dispute, the respective merits of the two admirals who had overcome the Castalian fleet at Havilla. Some ascribed the victory to the one and some to the other, but to take one side was to put an end to all friendships on the other.
"See here, Sam," said Cleary, not long after they had been out of sight of land, "who are you for, Admiral Hercules or Admiral Slewey? We can't keep on the fence, that's evident, and if we get down on different sides we can't be friends, and that might upset all our plans, not to speak of the Benevolent Assimilation Trust."
"The fact is," said Sam, "that I don't know anything about it. They're both admirals, and they both must be right."
"Nobody knows anything about it, but we must make up our minds all the same. My idea is that Hercules is going to come out ahead; and as long as one seems as good as the other in other respects, I move that we go for Hercules."
"Very well," said Sam, "if you say so. He was in command, anyway, and more likely to be right."
So Sam and Cleary allied themselves with the Hercules party, which was in the majority. They became quite intimate with the naval officers who belonged to this faction, and saw more of them than of the army men. Sam was much interested in learning about the profession which kept alive at sea the same traditions which the army preserved on land. For the first few days of the voyage the rolling of the ship made him feel a little sick, and he concealed his failings as well as he could and kept to himself; but he proved to be on the whole a good sailor. He was particularly pleased to learn that on a man-of-war the captain takes his meals alone, and that only on invitation can an inferior officer sit down at table with him. This appealed to him as an admirable way of maintaining discipline and respect. The fact that all the naval men he met had their arms and bodies more or less tattooed also aroused his admiration. He inquired of the common soldiers if they ever indulged in the same artistic luxury, and found out to his delight that a few of them did.
"It's strange," he remarked to Cleary, "that tattooing is universal in the navy and comparatively rare in the army. I rather think the habit must have been common to both services, and somehow we have nearly lost it. It's a fine thing. It marks a man with noble symbols and mottoes, and commits him to an honorable life, indelibly I may say."
"It's a little like branding a mule," said Cleary.
"Yes," said Sam; "the brand shows who owns the mule, and the tattooing shows a man belongs to his country."
"And if he's shipwrecked and hasn't any picture-books or newspapers with him, he can find all he wants on his own skin," said Cleary.
"Joke as you please, I think it's a patriotic custom."
"Why don't you get tattooed then?" asked Cleary.
"Do you think there's anybody on board can do it?" cried Sam enthusiastically.
"Of course. Any of those blue-jackets can tell you whom to go to."
Sam was off before Cleary had finished his sentence. Sure enough, he found a boatswain who was renowned as an artist, and without further parley he delivered himself into his hands. Cleary was consulted on the choice of designs, and the result was pronounced by all the connoisseurs on board--and there were many--to be a masterpiece. On his chest was a huge spread-eagle with a bunch of arrows, bayonets, and lightning-flashes in his claws. Cannon belched forth on each side, and the whole was flanked by a sailor on one side and a soldier on the other. His arms were tattooed with various small designs of crossed swords, flags, mottoes, the title of his regiment, and other such devices. The boatswain now thought that his task was complete, but Sam insisted on having his back decorated as well, altho this was rather unusual. The general stock of subjects had been exhausted, and Cleary suggested that a representation of Sam himself, striking off the fetters of a Cubapino, would be most appropriate. After discussing a number of other suggestions offered by various friends, this one was finally adopted and successfully carried out. The operation was not altogether painless and produced a good deal of irritation of the skin, but it served to pass Sam's time and allay his impatience to be in the field, and Cleary became so much interested that he consented to allow the artist to tattoo a few modest designs of cannon and crossed bayonets on his own arms. Sam's comparatively high rank among officers who were, many of them, his juniors in rank but his seniors in years, might have made his position at first a difficult one had it not been for his entire single-mindedness and loyalty to his country. If the powers that be had made him a captain, it was right that he should be a captain. He obeyed implicitly in taking his seat near the head of the table, as he would have obeyed if he had been ordered to the foot, and he expected others to accept what came from above as he did.
One afternoon a report sprang up that land was in sight, and soon every eye was strained in one direction. Sam's eyesight was particularly good, and he was one of the first to detect the white gleam of a lighthouse. Soon the coast-line was distinct, and it was learned that they would arrive on the next day. By daybreak Sam was on deck, studying as well as he could this new land of heroism and adventure. Cleary joined him later, and the two friends watched the strange tropical shore with its palm-groves and occasional villages, and a range of mountains beyond. A bay opened before them, and the ship turned in, passing near an old fortification.
"This is just where our fleet went in," said Cleary, examining a folding map which he held in his hand. "They passed along there single file," and he pointed out the passage.
"Wasn't it glorious! Just think of sailing straight on, no matter how many torpedoes there were!" exclaimed Sam.
"They knew blamed well there weren't any torpedoes," answered Cleary.
"How could they have known? They hadn't ever been here before? There might perfectly well have been a lot of them directly under them."
"Yes," said Cleary, "they might have grown up from the bottom of the sea. All sorts of queer things grow here. There might have been a sort of coral torpedoes."
"Cleary, you're getting more and more cynical every day. I wish you'd be more reasonable. What's the matter with you?"
"It must be the newspaper business. And then you see I don't wear a uniform either. That makes a lot of difference."
In another hour they passed the scene of the great naval battle. They could just distinguish the hulks of the wrecks well in shore.
"And there's Havilla!" cried Cleary.
And Havilla it was. They entered the great Oriental port with its crowded shipping. Small native boats were darting about between merchantmen and men-of-war. The low native houses, the fine buildings of the Castalian city, the palms, the Eastern costumes--all made a scene not to be forgotten. An officer of the 200th Volunteer Infantry came on board before the steamer had come to her moorings, with orders for Captain Jinks to report at once at their headquarters in one of the public buildings of the city. A lieutenant was left in charge of the 200th's detail, and Sam hastened ashore in a native boat and Cleary went with him. They had no difficulty in finding their way, and Sam was soon reporting to his chief, Colonel Booth, an elderly captain of the regular army, who had been placed at the head of this volunteer regiment. The colonel received him rather gruffly, and turned him over to one of his captains, telling him they would be quartered together. The colonel was inclined to pay no attention to Cleary, but when the latter mentioned the Benevolent Assimilation Company, Limited, he suddenly changed his tone and expressed great delight at meeting him. Sam and Cleary went off together with the captain, whose name was Foster, to visit the lodgings assigned by the colonel. They were in a building near by, which had been used as barracks by the Castalian army. A number of rooms had been fitted up for the use of officers, and Sam and Foster were to occupy one of these, an arrangement which promised to be most comfortable. Five companies of their regiment were quartered in the same building.
Cleary asked Foster's advice as to lodgings for himself, and Foster took him off with him to find a place, while Sam was left to unpack his luggage which had just arrived from the ship. They agreed to meet again in the same room at nine o'clock in the evening.
It was somewhat after the hour fixed that the three men came together. Foster brought out a bottle of whisky from a cupboard and put it on the table by the water-jug, and then offered cigars. Sam had never smoked before, but he felt that a soldier ought to smoke, and he accepted the weed, and soon they were all seated, smoking and drinking, and engaged in a lively conversation. Foster had been in the Cubapines since the arrival of the first troops, and it was a treat for both of his interlocutors to hear all the news at first hand from a participant in the events.
"How were things when you got here?" asked Cleary.
"Well, it was like this," answered Foster. "Nothing had happened then except the destruction of the fleet. Our fleet commanded the water of course, and the niggers had closed up round the city on land. The Castalians didn't have anything but the city, and when we came we wanted to take the city."
"Was Gomaldo in command of the Cubapino army then?" asked Sam.
"Yes, he has been from the beginning. He's a bad lot."
"How is that?" asked Cleary.
"Why, he has interfered with us all along as much as he could, just as if we didn't own the place."
"That's just what I thought," said Cleary. "The copperheads at home say we treated him as an ally, but of course that's rubbish."
"Of course," said Foster, "we never treated him as an ally. We only brought him here and made use of him, supplying him with some arms and letting him take charge of some of our prisoners. We couldn't tell him that we intended to keep the islands, because we were using him and couldn't get on without him. He's an ignorant fellow and hasn't the first idea of the behavior of an officer and a gentleman."
"Well, how did you take Havilla?" asked Sam.
"Oh, it was this way. The Castalians couldn't hold out because these monkeys had the place so tight that they couldn't get any provisions in. So they sent secret word to us that they would let us in on a certain day if we would keep the natives out. We agreed to this, of course. Then the Castalian general said that we must have some kind of a battle or he would be afraid to go home, and we cooked up a nice little battle. When the men got into it, however, it turned out to be quite a skirmish, and a number were killed on both sides. Then they surrendered and we went in and put a guard at the gates, and wouldn't let the niggers in. You wouldn't believe it, but they actually kicked at it. They're an unreasonable, sulky lot of beggars."
"Then what happened after that?" asked Sam.
"Oh, after that we sent the Castalians home and the Cubapinos moved back their lines a little, and we agreed to a sort of neutral zone and a line beyond which we weren't to go."
"What was it that started the fighting between us and them?" said Sam.
"It's a little mixed up. I was at the theater that night, and in the middle of the play we heard firing, and all of us rushed off and found everything in motion, and it grew into a regular fight. We made them move back, and before long the firing ceased. I tried to find out the next day how it began. The fact is, the day before, General Notice had ordered the 68th to move forward about half a mile, and they did so. The Cubapinos objected and insisted on crossing the new picket-line. That evening an officer of theirs walked across it and was shot by the sentinel. That started it."
"Was the regiment moved across the line fixed on their side of the neutral zone?" said Cleary.
"Oh, yes. But that was all right. Don't we own the whole place? And the regiment was only obeying orders."
"I wonder why the general gave the orders?" asked Cleary, musing as he looked into the smoke which he was puffing forth.
"They say it was because he had what he called 'overmastering political reasons.' That is, there was the army bill up in Congress and it had to go through, and he was given the tip that some fighting would help it, and he took the hint. It was good statesmanship and generalship, too. All subordinate things must bend to the great general interests of the country. It was a good move, for it settled the business. Gomaldo sent in the next day and tried to patch up a truce, but Notice wouldn't see his messengers. He told them they must surrender unconditionally. It was fine, soldierly conduct. He's a brick."
"What has he gone home for?" asked Sam.
"Why, he'd conquered them. Why shouldn't he go home? They're giving him a grand reception at home, and I'm glad to see it."
"But he says that he has pacified the islands and brought the war to a close!"
"So he did, in the military sense. He couldn't tell that the scamps wouldn't submit at once. It wasn't his fault that they showed such unreasonable bitterness and obstinacy."
"How much territory do we hold now?" said Sam.
"We've got the city and a strip along the bay where the fleet is; about five miles back, I should say. But it's hardly safe to wander off far at night."
"What's going to happen next?" asked Cleary. "I want to send home some news to The Lyre as soon as I can, and I want my friend Jinks here to have a chance to distinguish himself--and you too," he added hastily.
"We'll probably get to work by next week, the way things look now. General Laughter is rather slow, but he means business. Gomaldo is getting a big army together, and we may have to take the offensive to get ahead of him. Now I suppose we ought to turn in. How would you like to take a look at Havilla to-morrow and see the place where the naval battle was? We can get off duty in the afternoon. All right, let's meet at regimental headquarters at three."
Cleary bade them good-night, and Sam, who was beginning to feel uncomfortable effects from his cigar, was quite ready to go to bed.
Sam's morning was occupied in familiarizing himself with the regimental routine in barracks. The building enclosed a large court which was used for drills and guard-mounting parade, and he did not have occasion to leave it until he went to join his friends at headquarters. Promptly at three o'clock the three men sallied forth. Sam was struck with the magnificence of the principal buildings, including the palace and the cathedral.
"It's a fine city, isn't it?" he said.
"Yes, and the women are not bad-looking," said Cleary.
"The people don't quite look like savages," said Sam.
"You can't judge of them by these," said Foster. "Wait till you meet some negritos in the country."
"How large a part of the population are they?" said Sam.
"About one-fortieth, I think, but where principle is involved you can't go by numbers."
"Of course not," was Sam's reply. "What building is that," he added, "with our flag over it and the nicely dressed young women in the windows?"
"That?" said Foster, laughing; "oh, that's the Young Ladies' Home. We have to license the place. It's the only way to keep the army in condition. Why, we've got about fifty per cent infected now."
"Really?" cried Sam. "How our poor fellows are called upon to suffer for these ungrateful Cubapinos! Still they can feel that they are suffering for their country, too. That's a consolation."
"There's more consolation than that," said Foster, "for we're spreading the thing like wildfire among the natives. We'll come out ahead."
"I wish, tho, that they wouldn't fly Old Gory over the house," said Sam.
"There was some talk of taking it down, but you see it's the policy of the Administration never to haul down the flag when it has once been raised. It presents rather a problem, you see."
"It may wear out in time," said Sam, "altho it looks painfully new. What will they do then?"
"I confess I don't know," said Foster. "They'll cross the bridge when they reach it."
"A good many of the shop signs are in English already," remarked Sam. "That's a good beginning."
"Yes," said Cleary. "But they seem to be almost all saloons, that's queer."
"So they are," said Sam.
"There are some pretty good ones, too," said Foster. "Just stop in here for a moment and take a drink."
They entered a drinking-place and found a bar planned on the familiar lines of home.
"Look at this list of our drinks," said Foster proudly. "Count 'em; there are eighty-two."
Sam examined the list, which was printed and framed and hanging on the wall, and they each took a glass of beer, standing. There were about a dozen men in the place, most of them soldiers.
"Do they do a big business in these places?" asked Sam.
"You'll think so when you see the drunken soldiers in the streets in the evening," answered Foster. "We're planting our institutions here, I tell you."
"Not only saloons," said Sam. "There's the post-office, for instance."
"They had a post-office before," said Cleary.
"But ours is surely better," rejoined Sam.
"It's better than it was," said Foster, "now that they've put the new postmaster in jail. They say he's bagged $75,000."
"It's a good example of the way we treat embezzlers," cried Sam. "It ought to be a lesson to these Cubapinos He'll be sent home to be tried. They ought to do that with every one caught robbing the mails in any way."
"I'm afraid if they did the force would be pretty well crippled," said Foster
"Then there's the custom house," said Sam. "They must be delighted to get rid of those Castalian swindlers."
"A merchant here told me," said Foster, "that they have to pay just as often now, but that they have to pay bigger sums."
"Of course," cried Cleary, "you wouldn't expect our people to bother with the little bribes the Castalians were after. We live on a larger scale. It will do these natives good to open their eyes to a real nation. I'm sorry any of them steal, but if they do, let 'em take a lot and be done with it."
"We must remember that these people are only civilians," said Sam. "What can we expect of them?"
"Our commissary and quartermaster departments aren't much better, tho," said Foster. "Somebody's getting rich, to judge from the prices we pay and the stuff we get. The meat stinks, and the boots are made with glue instead of stitches and nails."
"Then they must have been appointed from civil life," cried Sam.
"Come, Sam," said Cleary, "I'm a civilian now, and I'm not going to have you crow over us. How about Captain Peters, who was the pet of Whoppington and cleaned out the Deer Harbor fund?"
Sam walked on in silence.
"See here," said Foster, "I'm tired of going on foot. Let's take a cab. Here, you fellow!"
A two-wheeled wagon with an awning, drawn by a small, shaggy horse, drew up before them.
"There's a gentleman in it," said Sam. "We must wait for another."
"Nonsense!" cried Foster in a loud voice. "You evidently are a new arrival. It's only one of those monkeys. Here you, sir, get out of that!"
The native expostulated a little, shrugged his shoulders, and did as he was told, and the three men got in.
"I'm afraid he didn't like it," said Sam.
"Didn't like it? What of it?" said Foster. "Whatever we do in uniform is official business, and we've got to impress these fellows with our power and make them respect us."
They drove now through some narrow streets, past various native cafés half open to the air, where the habitués were beginning to collect, through a picturesque gate in the old city wall, and out on the Boulevard, which was now filled with people driving and walking. It was a gay scene, and reminded Cleary of some of the cities of the Mediterranean which he had visited.
"They're not quite as much like Apaches as I expected," said Sam, and neither of his friends ventured to respond.
"We haven't got time to go out to where the ships are sunk," said Foster, "but if we drive up that hill and get out and walk up a little farther we can see them in the distance. I've got my glasses with me."
In a few minutes they were at this point of vantage in a sort of unfrequented public park, and the three men took turns in looking at the distant wrecks through the captain's field-glass.
"It was a great victory, wasn't it?" said Sam.
"Well, perhaps it was," answered Foster; "but the fact is, that those old boats could hardly float and their guns couldn't reach our ships. We just took our time and blew them up and set them on fire, and the crews were roasted or drowned, that was all there was of it. I don't think much of naval men anyway, to tell the truth. They don't compare with the army. They're always running their ships aground if there's any ground to run into."
"Anyhow, if it had been a strong fleet we'd have wiped it out just the same, wouldn't we?" said Sam.
"Undoubtedly," said Foster. "It's a pity, tho, that the fight didn't test our naval armaments better. It didn't prove anything. If we'd only used our torpedo-boats, and they'd got out thei r torpedo-boat destroyers, and then we'd had some torpedo-boat-destroyer destroyers, and--"
"Yes," interrupted Cleary, "it is a pity."
"But it wasn't Admiral Hercules's fault," said Sam. "His glory ought to be just as great."
"Hercules! Hercules!" shouted Foster. "What had Hercules to do with it? He's a first-class fraud. It was Slewey who won the battle. You don't mean to tell me that you are Hercules men?"
Sam and Cleary tried in vain to explain their position, but Foster would not listen to them. The breach evidently was irreparable. He magnanimously turned over the cab to them, and went back to the city in another vehicle.
"Well, this is strange," said Sam. "I liked everything about Captain Foster, but I don't understand this."
"Oh, you will tho, old man," said Cleary. "I've found out this morning that it's the same thing all through the army and navy here. They're hardly any of them on speaking terms. If it isn't one thing it's another. It's the Whoppington fashion, that's all. The general of the army won't speak to the adjutant-general there, and they're always smuggling bills into Congress to retire each other, and that spirit runs all the way down through both services. I'm a civilian now, and I can see with a little perspective. I don't know why military people are always squabbling like the women in an old ladies' home. No other professions do; it's queer. It's getting to be better to lose a battle than to win it, for then you don't have to fight for a year or two to find out who won it."
Sam entered a feeble protest against Cleary's criticisms, and the two relapsed into silence.
"Who did win that naval victory anyhow?" said Sam at last.
"That's just what I'd like to know," responded Cleary. "One of the admirals admits he wasn't there, and, if we are to believe the naval people, the other one spent most of his time dodging around the smokestack. But I think they're a little too hard on him; I can't imagine why. I hear they're going to establish a permanent court at Whoppington to determine who wins victories in future. It's not a bad idea. My own view is that that battle won itself, and I shouldn't be surprised if that was the way with most battles. It would be fun to run a war without admirals and generals and see how it would come out. I don't believe there'd be much difference. At any rate it looks so, if what the navy says is true, and one of the admirals was away and the other playing tag on the forward deck of the Philadelphia. Rum name for a battle-ship, the Brotherly Love, isn't it?"
To this Sam made no answer.
On arriving at the barracks he succeeded in having a separate room assigned to him, and thenceforth he and Foster were strangers.
During the next few days there was much activity in the army. It was clear that there was an expedition in preparation. All sorts of rumors were floating about, but it was impossible to verify any of them. Some said that Gomaldo was advancing with a large army; others, that he had surrendered and that the army was about to take peaceable possession of the islands. Meanwhile Sam's position in the 200th Infantry was most unpleasant. Foster was a popular man in the regiment, and he had set all the officers against him. It was unfortunately a Slewey regiment, and it was too late for Sam to change sides--a thing which he was quite ready to do. He made up his mind never to mention the two admirals again, and regretted that he had named them once too often. He complained to Cleary.
"I'm afraid," he said, "that there's no chance of my doing anything. The colonel will see to it that I am out of the way if there's anything to do. I might as well have stayed at East Point."
"Brace up, old man! I've got an idea," said Cleary. "I'll fix you all right. Just you wait till tomorrow or the day after."
The next day in the afternoon Sam received an order to report at once at the headquarters of General Laughter. He hastened to obey, and was ushered into the presence of that distinguished officer in the palace. It was an impressive sight that met his eyes. The general was believed to weigh some three hundred pounds, but he looked as if he weighed nearer five hundred. He was dressed in a white duck suit with brass buttons, the jacket unbuttoned in front and showing his underclothes. He was suffering a good deal from the heat, and fanning himself incessantly. Several members of his staff were busied talking with visitors or writing at desks, but the chief was doing nothing. He was seated in a superb arm-chair with his back to a pier-glass.
"Ah! captain," he said. "I'm glad to see you. Have a whisky and soda? I've assigned you to duty on my staff. Report here again tomorrow at ten and have your things moved over to the palace. Major Stroud will show you your quarters, captain!"
Major Stroud advanced and shook hands with Sam. He was every inch a soldier in appearance, but old enough to be a retired field-marshal. The three indulged in whiskies and soda, and Sam took his leave after a brief formal conversation. He found Cleary waiting for him in the street.
"How on earth did you do it?" cried Sam.
"It's the B. A. C. L.," said Cleary.
"The Benevolent Assimilation Company, Limited. What do you suppose? With The Daily Lyre thrown in too."
"Oh! thank you, thank my dear, dear friend," ejaculated Sam, with tears in his eyes. "I was beginning to think that my whole life was a failure, and here I am just in the very best place in the world. I won't disappoint you, I won't disappoint you!"
In the few days at the barracks of the 200th Infantry, Sam had learned something of regimental work, and now he applied himself assiduously to the study of the business of the headquarters of a general in command in the field, for the army was practically in the field. At first it all seemed to him to be a maze quite without a plan, and he hoped that in time he would begin to see the outline of a system. But the more he observed the less system he saw. Everything that could be postponed was postponed. Responsibility was shifted from one staff officer to another. No one was held accountable for anything, and general confusion seemed to reign. The place was besieged with contractors and agents, and the staff was nearly worried to death. The general was always very busy--fanning himself--and the days went on.
One morning a fellow member of the staff, a young lieutenant whom he scarcely knew, called Sam aside and asked him for a half-hour's conference. They went off together into a deserted room, and the lieutenant began the conversation in a whisper.
"See here, Captain," said he, "we're looking for a patriotic fellow who cares more for his country than his own reputation. We understand that you're just the man."
"I hope so," said Sam, delighted at the prospect of an opportunity to distinguish himself.
"It's a rather delicate matter," continued the lieutenant, "and I must say it's rather a compliment to you to be selected for the job. The fact is, that Captain Jones is in trouble. He's about $3,000 short in his accounts."
"How did that happen?" asked Sam.
"Oh, that's not the point. I don't see that it makes any difference. But we've got to get him out of the scrape. The honor of the army is at stake. Civilians don't understand us. They don't appreciate our standards of honor. And if this thing gets out they'll charge us with all kinds of things. We've got to raise $3,000. That's all there is of it."
"Good heavens! how can we?" cried Sam. "I've hardly got anything left of my pay, but I can give, say $25, on the next pay-day."
"We're not going to pass the hat around. That would be beneath the dignity of the army. What we want you to do is this--and, indeed, we have settled it that you should do it. You are to go tomorrow afternoon to Banks & Company, the army contractors, and have a confidential talk with Banks. Tell him you must have $3,000 at once. Here's a letter of introduction to him. He will see that you represent the people that run things here. Tell him that his contracts will probably be preferred to Short & Co.'s, and tell him that for the future we shan't inspect his things as closely as we have in the past. You needn't go into particulars. He will understand. It's an ordinary business matter."
"I don't quite like the idea," said Sam, ruminating. "Why don't you go yourself?"
"My dear Captain, I'm only a lieutenant. It requires a man of higher rank to do such an important piece of work. You're a new man on the staff, and we wanted to pay you an honor and give you a chance to show your patriotism. You will be saving the reputation and character of the army."
"Oh, thank you!" exclaimed Sam. "Are you sure that it's always done in just this way?"
"Always. It's an ordinary matter of business arrangement, as I've already told you."
"Then it must be all right, I suppose," said Sam.
"But it's not only that. It's a noble act to protect the character of a brother officer."
"So it is, so it is," said Sam. "I'll do it. I'll call and see him about it tomorrow afternoon."
"Hello!" shouted another officer, coming into the room. "Have you seen the orders? There's to be a conference of brigade and regimental commanders here tonight, and all staff officers are invited to attend. That means business."
Sam was overjoyed at the news, and the three men hastened to the headquarters' room to discuss it with their fellow officers.
Sam was present at the conference as a matter of course, and he watched the proceedings with the greatest interest. A map was stretched out on a magnificent gilt table in the middle of the room in which Sam had first seen the general, and most of the officers bent over it studying it. The general sat back in his arm-chair with his fan and asked everybody's advice, and no one appeared to have any advice to give.
"The fact is this, gentlemen," he said at last, "we've got to do something, and the question is, what to do. Burton," said he to his assistant adjutant-general, "show them the plan that we've worked out."
Burton was one of the officers who were poring over the map, and he began to explain a general advance in the direction of the enemy. He pointed out the position which they were now supposed to occupy, some ten miles away.
"We ought to move out our lines tomorrow," he explained, "within, say, three or four miles of theirs. The regiments will keep the same order that they're in here at Havilla. We can't make the final arrangements until we get there. We may stay there a day or two to entrench ourselves, and then move on them at daybreak some day within a week."
"That's the plan, gentlemen," said the general. "What do you think of it?" and he began to question all the general and field officers present beginning with the youngest, and none of them had any suggestion to offer.
"Then it's understood that we start for this line here tomorrow morning at seven," said Burton.
They all assented.
"Now, boys, let's have some whisky," said the general, and the conference resolved itself into a committee of the whole.
Early in the morning the troops began to move forward. Sam, who acted as aide-de-camp, was sent out from headquarters once or twice to urge the various colonels to make haste, but there seemed to be no special orders as to the details of the movement. The regiments went as best they could and selected their own roads, finally choosing the positions that seemed most desirable to their commanders, who took care not to leave too great an interval between regiments. The men were set to work at once at putting up the tents and making entrenchments. It was some time after midday when the general and his staff finally left the headquarters in the city. Sam came downstairs with Major Stroud to mount his horse, and was surprised to see a landau with two horses drawn up at the door.
"Who's that for?" he cried.
"For the general," answered Major Stroud quietly.
"For the general! Why on earth doesn't he ride a horse?"
"There isn't a horse in the place that can carry him. He tried one when he first came here. He mounted it on a step-ladder, and the beast came down on his knees on the stone pavement and had to be shot. He hasn't tried it since."
After waiting on the street for a long time Sam had the privilege of seeing the general emerge from the palace and enter his carriage. He was perspiring and fanning as usual, but carried no whisky and soda. The staff officers, of whom there were a dozen or more, mounted and followed the carriage. Sam rode next to Stroud. There was much confusion in the roads which they traveled--wagons laden with tents and provisions and hospital stores, camp-followers of all descriptions, and some belated soldiers besides. The general, however, had the right of way, and they proceeded with reasonable speed. They passed through native villages, rows of one-and two-story thatched houses on each side, with wooden palisades in front of them, well shaded by low but spreading palms. They passed large sugar refineries, built by the Castalians, and churches and convents. They passed rice-fields, some covered with water and others more or less dry, which sturdy peasants were busy harrowing with buffaloes. On the road they saw many two-wheeled carts drawn by single buffaloes, the man standing in the cart as he drove. At last they came to a halt on rising ground at the edge of a piece of woodland, and Colonel Burton, the adjutant-general, rode up beside the general's carriage and dismounted, and the two began to study the map again. After a long discussion the procession moved on again and finally stopped at the crest of a ridge, where the general alighted and soon selected a place for his tent. An hour had passed before the tents and baggage arrived, but notwithstanding the delay the tents were pitched and supper ready by sundown, and Sam found himself actually in the field on the eve of a battle. The eve, however, was somewhat prolonged. Several days passed, and Sam was kept pretty busy in riding to the various brigade and regimental headquarters and finding out how things were progressing: what was the state of the trenches, and what news there was from the enemy. Scouting parties were sent out, but their reports were kept secret, and Sam was left in the dark. There was a native village about half a mile to the rear, and the inhabitants were all friendly. Sam stopped there occasionally for a drink of water, and became acquainted with the keeper of the café, who was particularly amicable and fond of conversation. Cleary was on the lookout for accommodations in the neighborhood, and Sam introduced him to this native, Señor Garcia, who provided him with a room. One evening Sam was sitting with Cleary in the café when Garcia, as was his custom, joined them, and they began to talk in the Castalian language.
"We are glad you people are coming to rule our islands," said Garcia; "that is, those of us who know your history, because we know that you are a great people and love freedom."
"I am pleased to hear it," said Sam. "Cleary, I was sure that all the sensible natives would feel that way."
"You believe in liberty, equality, fraternity?"
"Of course we do," said Cleary.
"Yes," said Sam, "if you understand those words properly. Now liberty doesn't interfere with obedience. Our whole army here is built up on the idea of obedience. We've all got liberty, of course, but--"
"Liberty to do what?" asked Garcia innocently.
"Why, liberty to--well, to--yes, liberty to do as we're ordered," said Sam.
"Ah! I see," said Garcia. "And then you have equality."
"Yes," said Sam, "in a general way we have. But that doesn't prevent people from differing in rank. Now there's the general, he's my superior, and I'm the superior of the lieutenants, and we're all superior to the privates. We have regular schools at home to teach us not to misunderstand the kind of equality we believe in. There's one at East Point for the army. This gentleman and I were educated there. We weren't allowed even to look at our superiors. There's another institution like it for the navy. And then every man-of-war and every army garrison is a sort of college to spread these ideas about rank. A captain of a ship can't even let his officers dine with him too often. It's a fine system and it prevents us from making any mistakes about what equality means."
"And then fraternity?" asked Garcia.
"Oh, that's just the same," said Cleary. "At East Point we got a blow in the jaw if we showed the wrong kind of fraternity to our betters."
"It's a wonderful system," said Garcia. "But I have heard some of your people explain liberty, equality, fraternity a little differently."
"They must have been civilians," said Sam. "The army and navy represent all that is best in our country, and the people at large do not understand the army and navy. Luckily for you, the islands will be in charge of the army. There won't be any mistake about the kind of liberty and equality we give you."
"I am so grateful," said Garcia, rolling up his eyes.
"Yes, Cleary," said Sam. "The people at home don't understand us. Did you see that there's a bill in Congress to allow men in the ranks, mere non-commissioned officers, to apply for commissions? If they pass it, it will be the end of the army. Just think of a sergeant becoming one of us! Oh, I forgot, you aren't an officer, but you must know how I feel!"
Cleary expressed his sympathy, and Sam bade him and his host good-night. On his way back through a path in the jungle he thought he heard a light step behind him, but when he looked back he could see nothing. When he arrived at the headquarters' tent he found all the higher officers of the army there, and Stroud whispered to him that they had heard that Gomaldo would take the offensive the next morning, and that consequently a general advance was ordered for daybreak in order that they might forestall him. The general was rather taken by surprise and his final plans were not ready, but it was arranged that at four o'clock each regiment should advance, and that orders containing further details would be sent to them by six o'clock at the latest. Burton remained in the general's tent to perfect the orders, and Sam went to the tent which he occupied with Major Stroud to enjoy a few hours' sleep.
"I'm afraid we're not quite ready," said Sam.
"No army ever is," replied Stoud laconically.
"I wish the general were a little livelier and quicker," said Sam, blushing at his own blasphemy.
"And thinner?" said Stroud, smiling, as he twisted his white mustache and smoothed his imperial. "Oh, he'll do very well. He's a good solid point to rally around and fall back on, and then we always know where to find him, for he can't get away very far if he tries."
At half-past three in the morning the officers of the staff were called by a native servant and began to make their preparations. They breakfasted as best they could on coffee without sugar or cream, and some stale bread, with an egg apiece, and whisky. Sam felt unaccountably sleepy, and he thought that all the rest looked sleepy too. It was five o'clock before Burton had the orders ready for the various subordinate commanders, telling each of them in which direction to advance. The plan had been mapped out the night before, but the orders had to be copied and corrected. At last he came out and distributed them to Stroud, Sam, and several other officers--two orders to each, yawning painfully as he handed them out.
"I don't think I slept a wink last night," he said.
The two commands to which Sam's orders were directed were stationed on the extreme right of the army. He made a rough tracing of that part of the map and set out on at once on a wiry little native pony. For some distance he followed the high-road, but then was obliged to turn into a branch road which led through the woods, and which soon became a mere wood-path. Before long he heard firing in front of him, and soon he recognized the sound of whistling bullets above his head. He found himself ducking his head involuntarily, and almost for the first time in his life he was conscious of being afraid. This was a surprise to him, as his thoughts during the night whenever he had been awake had been full of pleasant anticipations.
The path suddenly came out into an open rolling country, and Sam pulled up his horse, dismounted, and hiding behind some underbrush, took a look at the situation. There was a Gatling-gun, worked by a young officer and five men, a few hundred yards to the right at the edge of the woods. Beyond to the front he could see a line of troops firing at the enemy from behind a wall. Of the Cubapinos he could see nothing but the smoke of their guns and muskets here and there. Shells were falling in another part of the field, but nowhere near him. Bullets were flying thick through the air, and he heard them hissing constantly. As he looked he saw one of the Gatling crew fall over, doubled up in a heap. Sam moved along in the wood nearer to this gun, so that he might ask where he could find the brigade commander. As he approached he heard the lieutenant say:
"Dam those sharp-shooters. They've got our range now. With this damned smokeless powder they can pick us all off. Clark, bring some of that artificial smoke stuff here."
The soldier obeyed, and in a few moments a dense smoke rose above them, covering the whole neighborhood.
"What a wonderful thing these inventions are!" thought Sam, as he tied his horse to a tree and advanced crouching toward the battery. The lieutenant pointed out to him the position of the brigadier-general, some distance back on the right under cover of the jungle, and told him of a path that would take him there. Sam was not slow to follow his directions, for just then a shell exploded close by. He soon found the general surrounded by his staff on a partially wooded hill, from which, however, they could command the field with their glasses. Bullets were flying about them, and an occasional shell sailed over their heads, but the general seemed perfectly at home. He took the orders, opened them and read them.
"That's strange," said he. "Last night I understood that I was to make for that pass between the hills there on the left, and now I'm ordered to take the first turning to the right. I don't understand it. Do you know anything about it?"
"Well, he must have changed his mind. Or else it was a bluff to keep his plans from leaking out. Tell the general that I will carry out his orders at once."
Sam inquired of the members of the staff where he would be likely to find the 43d Volunteers, to whose colonel his other orders were directed, but they had no information, except that in the morning that regiment had been stationed farther over on the right. Sam started out again, guiding himself as best he could by a compass which he had in his pocket. He selected the paths which seemed most promising, but the jungle between was impenetrable on horseback. The firing on the extreme right seemed to be farther in the rear, and he made his way in that direction. Again he came out at the edge of the woods, and to his surprise saw a battalion of the enemy at a short distance from him. He turned his horse, stuck his spurs into him, and went back along the path to the rear at a full run, while a shower of bullets fell around him. He still kept on working to the right in the direction of the firing which he heard in front of him. At last in a hollow of the jungle he came upon a Red Cross station, one of those advance temporary relief posts where the wounded who are too much injured to be taken at once to the rear are treated. Twenty or thirty men were lying in a row, some of them on their coats, others on the bare ground. Two surgeons were doing what they could in the line of first aid to the injured, binding up arms and legs, dressing wounds, and trying to stop the flow of blood from arteries. Two soldiers were lifting a wounded man on a stretcher so that he might be carried to the rear, and he was groaning with agony. Every one of the patients was blotched in one place or another with blood, and some of them were lying in pools of the crimson fluid. Sam felt a little sick at his stomach. Two men came in with another stretcher, bringing a wounded man from the front. The man gave a convulsive start as they set him down.
"A bullet's just hit him in the head," said one of the men. "I'm glad it wasn't me."
One of the doctors looked at the wounded man.
"He's dead," he said. "Damn you, what do you mean by bringing dead men here?"
The two bearers took up their load again and dropped it out of sight in the bushes. Sam did not like to interrupt the doctors, who were over-tasked, so he dismounted and tried to find a wounded man well enough to answer his questions. One man at the end of the row looked less pale than the rest, and he asked him where he could find the 43d.
"That's my regiment, sir," he replied, as a twig, cut off by a bullet, fell on his face. "You'd better lie down here, sir; you'll be shot if you don't A lot of the wounded have been hit here again."
Sam sat down by his side.
"Our regiment is over that way," he said, pointing in the direction of the firing. "I don't know where the colonel is. We haven't seen him for hours. The lieutenant-colonel is down with fever. I think the major's in command. You ought to find him at the front. We've been falling back, and the firing sounds nearer than it did. I'm afraid the enemy will catch us here."
Sam did not wait to hear anything further, but, leaving his horse tied to a tree, he ran toward the front. He found many soldiers skulking along the path, and they directed him to the major. He discovered him sitting on the ground behind a stone wall.
"Here, major, are your orders. I understand you're in command."
"Not much," said the major. "The colonel's in command. You'd better find him."
"Where is he?"
"I'm sure I don't know. I haven't seen him since six o'clock."
"But this is your regiment, isn't it?"
"Well, yes. It's part of it."
Just then a young captain came running up from the front, and cried out to his major:
"Major, we're having a hard time of it there. Won't you come up and take charge? I'm afraid they'll force us back."
"No," said the major, "I won't. I'm going back there to that last village. It's a much better place to defend. Besides I'm not feeling well. You fellows can stay here if you like. I shan't order the regiment back, but I'll go back and get ready for them there. We ought to have trenches there, you know," and he got up and walked rapidly off down the road. The captain turned to Sam.
"I beg your pardon, captain," said he, "but what are we to do? Our officers have given out, and we're a new regiment and haven't any experience. Won't you take command?"
Sam was by no means satisfied in his mind that he would behave much better than the major, but here was an opportunity that he could not afford to lose.
"I'll see what I can do," said he. "Let's see what the orders are."
He opened the document and saw that it was a direction to keep on to the front until they arrived before the town of San Diego, which they were to assault and capture.
"Show me where your men are," said Sam. "Who have you got there?"
"We've got our own regiment, the 43d, and six or eight companies of the 72d--I don't know where they came from; and then there's a battery, and perhaps some others."
They hastened along the road together, urging the stragglers to join them, which many of them did. The way became more and more encumbered with men, and the bullets came thicker. Sam was thoroughly scared. He could feel his legs waver at the knee, and it seemed as if a giant had grasped him by the spine. They passed several musicians of the band.
"Start up a tune!" cried Sam. "Play something and follow us." At the same time he instinctively thrust his hand into his breast pocket and felt for his traveling Lares and Penates, namely, his tin soldier, his photographs of East Point, one of Marian, and her last letter. Meanwhile the band began to play and the bass-drummer wielded his huge drumstick with all his might. Sam began to feel happier, and so did the men about him. One of the musicians suddenly fell, struck dead by a bullet, and just then a shell burst over them and two or three men went down. With one accord the soldiers began to curse and swear in the most frightful manner and to insist on speedy vengeance. Sam was surprised to find himself enjoying the oaths. They just expressed his feelings, and he hurried on to the edge of the woods. In front of them they saw a line of their own men lying on the ground behind stones and logs, shooting at the enemy, whose line could be distinguished hardly more than a third of a mile away.
"They're nearer than they were," whispered the captain. "We must push them back or they'll have us. The men on the firing line are getting scared."
"We must scare them behind more than the enemy does in front," said Sam, drawing his revolver. "Here you, sir, get back into your place."
A man in the ranks, who was beginning to creep back, saw the revolver and dropped back in his position with an oath.
"Forward!" cried Sam, now thoroughly in the spirit of the occasion. "Come up to the front, all of you, and extend our line there to the right. Lie down and take careful aim with every shot."
The men did as they were told, and Sam took up his position behind the line with the captain, both of them standing in a perfect gale of bullets, while all the rest were lying down.
"Lie down," said Sam to the captain. "You've no business to risk your life like that."
"How about yours, sir?" said the captain, as he obeyed.
"I'll take care of myself, if you'll be good enough to let me," answered Sam.
The presence of a staff officer gave new courage to the men, and their marksmanship began to have effect on the enemy, who were seen to be gradually falling back. Sam took this opportunity to move his line forward, and he sent a lieutenant to direct the battery to cover his men when they should charge on the enemy's line. He moved his line forward in this way successively three or four times, and the troops were now thoroughly encouraged, and some of them even asked to be allowed to charge. Sam, however, postponed this final act as long as he could. It was not until he saw the captain whom he had met in the woods mangled and instantly killed by a piece of shell that he became so angry that he could restrain himself no longer. He gave the order to fix bayonets, and with a yell the men rose from their lairs and rushed over the intervening ground to the enemy's position. The Cubapinos did not wait for them, but turned and ran precipitously. Sam and his men followed them for at least a mile, when they made a stand again.
"They're in the trenches now that they were in this morning," explained a lieutenant.
Here the same tactics were renewed, and in another half-hour Sam ordered his men to charge again. This time the enemy waited longer, and many of the attacking party fell, but before they reached the trenches the Cubapinos took flight, and Sam saw his soldiers bayonet the last two or three of them in the back. There were a good many dead in the trenches, all of them shot through the head. It was a proud moment for Sam when he stood on the edge of the trench and planted Old Gory there while the men cheered. A wounded Cubapino lay just before him, and one of the soldiers kicked him in the head and killed him. Sam noticed it, and was a little startled to find that it seemed all right to him.
"I've half a mind to kick the next wounded man I see," he thought. "It must be rather good sport"; but he did not do it.
The rest of the fight was in the nature of a procession. They pursued the flying Cubapinos as fast as they could, but were unable to come up with them. In a native village through which they passed, Sam asked an old man, who had been too weak to get away, how far off San Diego was, and learned that it was five miles away to the left. He could not understand this, but still kept on in that direction. As they left the village it burst into flames, for the last soldiers had set it on fire. Sam thought of the old man perishing in his hut, and it seemed to him a fine thing and quite natural. On their way they came across other bodies of troops who joined them, and it so happened that no one came forward of superior rank to Sam, and consequently he retained the command. Before they came in sight of San Diego he had quite a brigade under him. He halted them in front of the town and sent out a scouting party. There was no sound of firing now except in the distance. In an hour the scouting party came back and reported that the place had been vacated by the enemy, who for some reason had been seized by a panic. Sam ordered the advance to be resumed, and late in the afternoon found himself in possession of San Diego. He began to take measures at once to fortify the place, when the brigadier-general whom he had seen in the morning marched in with his brigade and took over the command from him, congratulating him on his success, which was already the talk of the army. Sam turned over the command to him with much grace and dignity, and, borrowing a horse, set off for the old headquarters which he had left in the morning, for he learned that, altho the enemy were completely defeated and scattered, still the general would not move his headquarters forward to the front till the following day.
The general received him with great cordiality.
"Everything turned out just as I planned it," he said, "but, Captain, you helped us out at a critical point there on the right. I shall mention you in despatches. You may depend on being promoted and given a good post. You ought to have a regiment at least."
Sam was taking his supper when Cleary came in, hot and grimy.
"Well, you're a great fellow," he said, "to get away from me the way you did this morning. But didn't I tell you, you were the stuff? Why, you won the battle. Do you know that you turned their left flank?"
"To tell the truth, I didn't know it." said Sam.
"Well, you did."
"But the general planned everything." said Sam.
"Yes," said Cleary, "but I'll tell you more about that. I'm doing some detective work, and I'll have something to tell you in a day or two. But I wish I'd been with you. I had my kodak all ready. However, they can make up the pictures at home. How's this for headlines?" and he took some notes from his pocket. "'Great Victory at San Diego. Captain Jinks Turns Defeat into Victory. Hailed as Hero Jinks by the Army. General Laughter's Plans Carried Out through the Young Hero's Co-operation.' What do you think of that? We'll put the part about the general in small caps, because he's not quite solid with the trust. I'm not going to write up anybody but you and the Mounted Mustangs; those are my orders."
"How did the Mustangs make out?" asked Sam. "They were way off on the left, and I haven't heard anything about them."
"They did very decently," said Cleary, "considering they were never under fire before. They kept up pretty well with the regulars, and fortunately they had a regular regiment on each side. They really did well."
"Did they make any fine cavalry charges?" inquired Sam.
"Calvary charges! Bless your heart, they didn't have any horses, and it's lucky they didn't. They had their hands full without having to manage any horses!"
On the following day headquarters were moved into San Diego. Sam was lodged in the town hall with the general, and Cleary got rooms close by. There were rumors of renewed activity on the part of the Cubapinos, but it was thought that their resistance for the future would be of a guerrilla nature. There was, however, one savage tribe to the north which had terrorized a large district of country, and the general decided that it must be subdued. Sam heard of this plan, but did not know whether he would be sent on the expedition or not, and urged Cleary to use his influence so that he might be one of the party.
"I'll manage it for you, old man," said Cleary, two or three days after the battle. "I've got the general in a tight place, and all I've got to do is to let him know it and he'll do whatever I want."
"What do you mean?"
"Why, he had about as much to do with the San Diego fight as the man in the moon."
"Well, I'll tell you the story. I've run down every clue and here it is. You see somehow Colonel Burton got the orders mixed up that morning and addressed every one of them to the wrong general."
"Is it possible?" exclaimed Sam. "That explains why they couldn't understand the orders there in the Third Brigade, and why I took all day to find San Diego. I wonder if it's true. Why on earth didn't Gomaldo win then? It must have been a close call."
"It's plain enough why he didn't win," said Cleary. "That chap Garcia was one of his spies, and a clever one too. He got all he could out of you and me, but that wasn't much. Then he had the native servant of the general in his pay. As soon as you left on the night before the battle he cleared out too, and he got a statement from the native servant of all the general intended to do. He got the news to Gomaldo by midnight, and before sunrise the Cubapino forces were ready to meet each of our columns when they advanced. They had ambushes prepared for each of them. If the orders had gone out straight we'd have been cleaned out, that's my opinion. But you see, they all went wrong and the columns advanced along different roads, and poor Gomaldo's plans all went to pot. I believe he had Garcia hanged for deceiving him. You haven't seen the general's servant since the battle, have you?"
"Now that you speak of it, I don't think I have," said Sam. "But he's a great general all the same, don't you think so?"
"Of course," answered Cleary.
"I wonder if all battles are won like that?" said Sam.
"I half think they are," said his friend. "And then the generals smile and say, 'I told you so.'"
"Cleary," said Sam, "I want you to answer me one question honestly."
"Out with it."
"Did I have much to do with winning that battle or not?"
"To tell the honest truth, Sam, between me and you, I don't know whether you did or not. But The Lyre will say that you did, and that will settle it for history."
Sam sighed and made no other reply.
The expedition against the Moritos started out a week later. It consisted of two regiments, one of colored men under a certain Colonel James, the other of white volunteers, with a brigadier-general in command. Sam was assigned to the command of the volunteer regiment with the temporary rank of major, its colonel having been wounded at the battle of San Diego. For a whole day they marched northward unmolested, and encamped at night in a valley in the mountains with a small native village as headquarters. There had been little incident during the day. They had burned several villages and driven off a good many cattle for meat. Sam was surprised to see how handsome the furniture was in the little thatched cottages of the people, perched as they were on posts several feet high. It was a feast day, and the whole population had been in the streets in their best clothes. The soldiers snatched the jewels of the women and chased the men away, and then looted the houses, destroying what they could not take, and finally setting them on fire.
"It's better so," said Sam to his adjutant. "Make war as bad as possible and people will keep the peace. We are the real peace-makers."
He heard shouts and cries as he passed through the villages, and had reason to think that the soldiers were not contented with mere looting, but he did not inquire. He took his supper with the general at his headquarters. Colonel James and Cleary ate with them, for Cleary was still true to his friend's fortunes and determined to follow him everywhere. After an evening of smoking and chatting, Sam, Cleary, and Colonel James bade the general good-night and started for their quarters, which lay in the same direction. It was a gorgeous moonlight night, such a night as only the tropics can produce, and they sauntered slowly along the mountain road, enjoying the scene.
"There is a question that I have been wanting to ask you, Colonel," said Sam to Colonel James as they walked on together. "What do you think of darkies as soldiers? I have never seen much of them, and as you have a negro regiment, you must know all about it."
"Well, the truth is, Major," responded the colonel, "I wouldn't have my opinion get out for a good deal, but I'll tell you in confidence. They are much better soldiers than white men, that's the long and short of it."
"How can you explain that? It's most surprising!" cried Sam.
"Well, they're more impressible, for one thing. You can work them up into any kind of passion you want to. Then they're more submissive to discipline; they're used to being ordered about and kicked and cuffed, and they don't mind it. Besides, they're accustomed from their low social position to be subordinate to superiors, and rather expect it than not. They are all poor, too, and used to poor food and ragged clothes and no comforts, and of course they don't complain of what they get from us."
"You mean," said Cleary, "that the lower a man is in the scale of society the better soldier he makes."
"Well," answered the colonel, "I hadn't ever put it just in that light, but that's about the size of it. These darkies are great hands at carrying concealed weapons too. If it isn't a razor it's something else, and if there's a row going on they will get mixed up in it, but they're none the worse as soldiers for that."
"Let's go up to that point there and take the moonlight view before we turn in," suggested Cleary.
The others agreed, and they began to climb a path leading up to the right. It was much more of a climb than they had expected, and when they had become quite blown they sat down to recover their breath.
"I think we'd better go back," said Colonel James. "We may lose our way, and it isn't safe here. The Moritos are known to be thick in these mountains, and they might find us."
"Oh, let's go a little farther," said Cleary, and they set out to climb again.
"The path seems to stop here," said Sam, who was in the lead. "This must be the top, but I don't see any place for a view. Perhaps we'd better go back."
Cleary did not repeat his objection, and they began to retrace their steps. For some time they went on in silence.
"The path begins to go up-hill here," said Cleary, who now led. "I don't understand this. We didn't go down-hill at all."
"I think we did for a short distance," answered Sam.
They went on, still ascending.
"There doesn't seem to be any path here," said Cleary. "Do you see it?"
His companions were obliged to admit that they did not.
"We'd better call for help," said Sam, and the three men began to shout at the top of their voices, but there was no reply. An hour must have elapsed while they were engaged in calling, and their voices became husky, but all in vain.
"Hist!" said Cleary at last. "I think I hear some one coming. I heard the branches move. They have sent out for us, thank fortune! I didn't like the idea of sleeping out here and making the acquaintance of snakes and catching fevers."
The words were hardly out of his mouth when three shadowy figures sprang out of the bushes and grasped each of the three men from behind, holding their elbows back so that they could not use their arms, and in a moment a veritable swarm of long-haired, half-clad Moritos were upon them, pinioning them and emptying their pockets and belts. It was quite useless to make any resistance, the attack had been too sudden and unexpected. Cleary cried out once, but they made him understand that, if he did it again, they would stab him with one of their long knives. When the captives were securely bound, the captors began to discuss the situation in their own language, which was the only language they understood. There was evidently some difference of opinion, but after a few minutes they came to some kind of agreement. The legs of the prisoners were unbound, and they were made to march through the jungle, each one with two guards behind him, who pricked him with their lances if he did not move fast enough. Their only other arms seemed to be bows and arrows. The march was a very weary one, and through a wild, mountainous country which would have been impassable for men who did not know it thoroughly. Occasionally they seemed to be following obscure paths, but as often there was no sign of a track, and the thick, tropical vegetation made progress difficult. For an hour or two they climbed up the half-dry bed of a mountain torrent, and more than once they were ankle deep in swampy ground. The Moritos passed through the jungle with the agility and noiselessness of cats, but the three white men floundered along as best they could. Their captors uttered never a word and would not allow them to speak.
The sun was just rising over a wilderness of mountains when they came to a small clearing in the woods, apparently upon a plateau near the top of a mountain. In this clearing there were a number of isolated trees, in each one of which, at about twenty feet above the ground, was a native hut, looking like a huge bird's nest. A small crowd of natives, including women and children, ran toward them shouting, and now for the first time the men of the returning party began to talk too. Some of them tied the legs of their prisoners again and sat them down on the ground, while the others rehearsed the history of their exploit. It was a curious scene to witness. The men as well as the women wore their long, coarse hair loose to the waist. Some of the men had feathers stuck in their hair, and all of them were grotesquely tattooed.
"I wonder if they're cannibals?" said Cleary, for there seemed to be opportunity now for conversation.
"I don't think there are any in this part of the country," said Colonel James. "Here comes our breakfast anyway."
All the inhabitants of the village had been inspecting the captives with great interest, especially the women and children. Two women now came running from the group of tree-houses with platters of meat, and the crowd opened to let them approach.
"Don't ask what it is," said Cleary, as he gulped down his rations.
"I can't eat it!" cried Sam.
"Oh, you must, or you'll offend them," said Colonel James.
And they completed their repast with wry faces. When they had finished, one of the warriors, whom they had noticed before on account of his comparative height and the magnificence of his decorations, came up to them and addressed them, to their great surprise, in Castalian. He explained to them that he was the famous savage chief, Carlos, who as head of the Moritos ruled the entire region, and that they were prisoners of war; that he had learned Castalian as a boy from a missionary in the mountains when the land was at peace; and that a palaver would be held on the following day, to which the heads of the neighboring villages would be invited, to determine what to do with them. He showed special interest in Sam's red hair and mustache, and smoothed them and pulled them, asking him if they had been dyed. When he was informed that they were not, he was filled with admiration and called up his favorites to examine this wonder of nature. Sam had noticed that from the moment of his arrival he had been the object of admiration of the women, and this fact was now accounted for.
The three prisoners had no reason to complain of their treatment during the day. A guard was set upon them, but the ropes by which they were tied were loosened, and they were allowed from time to time to walk about. Most of the morning they passed in much-needed sleep. In the afternoon Carlos visited them again with some of his men, and set to work to satisfy his curiosity as to their country, translating their answers to his friends. His Castalian was very bad, but so was that of his captives; yet they succeeded in making themselves understood without difficulty.
"Do you have houses as high as those?" he asked, pointing to the human nests in the trees.
"Yes, indeed," said Cleary. "Near my home there is a house nearly a quarter of a mile long and twice as high as that tree, and nine hundred people live in it."
There were murmurs of astonishment as this information was translated.
"What is that great house for?" asked the chief.
"It's a lunatic asylum."
"What is that."
"A house for lunatics to live in."
"But what is a lunatic?"
Cleary tried in vain to explain what a lunatic was. The Moritos had never seen one.
"We have plenty of such houses at home," said Sam, "and we have had to double their size in ten years to hold the lunatics; they are splendid buildings. There was one not very far from the college where my friend and I were educated. But some of our prisons are even larger than our lunatic asylums."
"What is a prison," asked Carlos.
"Oh," said Sam, "don't you understand that either? It's a house in which we lock up criminals--I mean men who kill or rob us."
"Oh, I see," replied Carlos. "You mean your enemies whom you take prisoner in battle."
"No, I don't. I mean our own fellow citizens who murder and steal."
"Do you mean that you sometimes kill each other and steal from each other, your own tribe?"
"Yes," said Sam. "Of course people who do so are bad men, but there are some such among us."
A great discussion arose among the natives after hearing this.
"What do they say?" asked Colonel James in Castalian.
"They say," said the chief, "that they can not believe this, as they have never heard of members of the same tribe hurting each other."
"We do all we can to prevent it," said Sam. "In our cities we have policemen to keep order; that is, we have soldiers stationed in the streets to frighten the bad men."
"Do you have soldiers in the streets of your towns to keep you from killing each other!" exclaimed the chief, in astonishment. "Who ever heard of such a thing? I do not understand it," and, altho Sam repeated the information in every conceivable way permitted by his limited vocabulary, he was unable successfully to convey the idea.
"It is strange how uncivilized they are," he said to his friends.
"Do you live on bananas in your country?" asked Carlos.
"No; we eat them sometimes, but we live on grain and meat," said Sam.
"You must have to work very hard to get it."
"Yes, we do, sometimes twelve hours a day."
"How frightful! And is there enough for all to eat?"
"And are your people happy when they work so hard and are sometimes hungry?"
"Not always," said Sam. "Sometimes people are so unhappy that they commit suicide."
"I mean they kill themselves."
There was now another heated discussion.
"What do they say?" asked Colonel James.
"They say that they did not know it was possible for people to kill themselves. I did not know it either. It is very strange."
"What limited intelligences they have!" exclaimed Sam.
"They say," continued Carlos, in a somewhat embarrassed manner, "that if you are condemned to death, they wish one of you would kill himself, so that they can see how it is done."
"There's a chance for you, Sam," said Cleary, but Sam did not seem to see the joke.
"I am very sorry," said Carlos, seating himself nearer to Sam, "I am very sorry that we may have to kill you, for I like you; but what can we do? It is a rule of our tribe to kill prisoners of war."
"I really don't see what they can do, if that is the case," said Sam in English. "If that is their law, and they have always done it, of course from their point of view it is their military duty. I don't see any way out of it? Do you?"
"It wouldn't break my heart if they failed to do their duty in this case," said Cleary. "For heaven's sake, don't tell him what you think. Let's keep him feeling agreeable by our conversation. He's fallen in love with you, Sam. Perhaps he'll give you to one of his daughers and she may marry you or eat you, whichever she pleases."
"I wish you wouldn't joke about these things," said Sam. "It's a serious piece of business. There's no glory in being tomahawked here in the mountains."
"And I haven't got my kodak with me either," said Cleary.
"What made you come into my country?" asked Carlos. "Did you not know how powerful I am? And what have I ever done against you?"
"We came because we were ordered to," said Sam.
"And do you do what you are ordered to, whether you approve of it or not?"
"Of course we do."
"That is very strange," said Carlos. "We never obey anybody unless we want to and think he is doing the right thing. I tell my men here what I want to do, and if they agree to it they obey me, but if they don't I give it up. But you do things that you think are wrong and foolish because you are ordered to. It is very strange!"
"We are military men," said Sam. "It requires centuries of civilization to understand us."
"How do you kill your prisoners?" asked Carlos.
"We don't kill them," answered Sam.
"I don't know about that, Sam," said Cleary in English. "We didn't take many prisoners at San Diego."
"That's a fact," answered Sam, in the same language. "We didn't take many. I never thought of that."
"Don't tell him, tho," added Cleary.
"But when you soldiers have to execute an enemy for any reason, how do you do it?"
"We shoot them with rifles," said Sam.
"Is that all?"
"No; we make them dig their graves first," interposed Cleary. "That's a hint to him," he whispered. "It's better than the stew-pot."
"Dig their graves first!" exclaimed the chief, and he turned to his men and explained the matter to them. They were evidently delighted.
"What are they saying?" asked James again.
"They say that that is a grand idea, and that they will adopt it. They think civilization is a great thing, and they want to be civilized," said Carlos.
"There, I knew they weren't cannibals!" said the colonel.
There was silence for several minutes, and Carlos smoothed Sam's locks with his hand.
"We must entertain him," said Cleary. "Say something, Sam, or he'll get down on us."
"Say something yourself," said Sam, who was thoroughly vexed at his friend's ill-timed flippancy.
"Does your tribe live in these mountains and nowhere else?" asked Cleary.
"Oh, no. We have brothers everywhere. They are in all the islands, and all over the world."
"You tell them by your language, I suppose."
"No, some of them do not speak our language. That makes no difference. We tell our brothers in other ways."
"How?" said Cleary.
"There are four marks of the true Morito," said the chief. "Their young men are initiated by torture. That is one mark. Then their chief men wear feathers on their heads. That is the second. And the third mark is that they are tattooed, as I am," and he pointed to the strange figures on his naked chest; "and the fourth is that they all use the sacred tom-tom when they dance."
"Sam," said Cleary, "have you got those East Point photographs in your pocket?"
"Yes," said Sam, thrusting his hand into his bosom.
Cleary rolled over to Carlos as well as his ropes would allow, threw his arms about his neck, and cried out in Castalian, "Oh, my brother, my long-lost brother!"
There was a general commotion. The savages drew their knives, and for a moment there seemed to be danger for the prisoners.
"What on earth are you trying to do, Mr. Cleary?" exclaimed Colonel James. "It seems to me that your pleasantries are in very doubtful taste while our lives are in the balance."
Cleary made no answer, but went on crying, "Oh, my brothers, my long-lost brothers!"
"What do you mean?" ejaculated Carlos, in a rage. "I will give you one minute in which to explain, and then your head will fall."
"We are your brothers. We are Moritos. We are your people from a distant island, and you never knew it!"
"Is this true?" asked the chief, looking at Sam and the colonel.
"Swear to it," whispered Cleary.
"We swear that it is true," replied the two officers.
"Then prove it, or you shall all three die tonight. I am not to be trifled with. Proceed."
"Señor," said Cleary, "you have said that you recognize Morito young men by the fact that they have passed through the torture. We have passed through the torture. My friend will show you the pictures taken of both of us when we were about to be burned at the stake, and also one of himself passing through the ordeal of water. Sam, show him the photos."
Sam took the two pictures from his pocket and handed them to Cleary, who held them in his hand while Carlos peered over his shoulder.
"You see here," he said, "that we are tied to the stake. You may recognize our features. You see the expression of pain on our faces. These men standing around are our elder brothers who initiated us. It was done by night in a sacred grove where our ancestors have indulged in these rites for many ages. That wall is part of a ruin of a temple to the god of war."
Carlos evidently was impressed. He took the dim print, with its fitful lantern-light effects, and studied it, comparing the faces with those of his prisoners. Then he showed it to his followers, and they all spoke together.
"They say," said their chief at last, "that they believe you speak the truth. But how do we know that the old man was initiated too?"
"He is an old man," said Cleary. "He had a picture like this in his pocket when he was young. We all carry them with us as long as they hold together. But they will wear out. You may see that this one is wearing out already."
"That is true," assented the chief. "But your picture proves against you as well as for you. You have no feathers in your heads there, and you are wearing none now," and he proudly straightened up those on his head.
"In our country we have not many feathers as you have here," answered Cleary. "The birds do not come often to that land, it is so cold. Only our greatest men wear feathers. When we reach home and grow old and wise and valiant, perhaps we shall all have feathers. This old warrior of ours has feathers at home, but he does not carry them on journeys. My young friend and I are yet too young. We have a picture of our old friend here with his feathers."
"Good heavens!" exclaimed Sam. "What are you driving at. We'll be worse off than ever now."
"Just you let me manage this affair," said Cleary. "Give me that photo of the dress-parade at East Point that you showed me last week."
Sam did as he was told. It represented the dress-parade at sunset, the companies drawn up in line at parade-rest and the band in full blast going through its evolutions in the foreground, with a peculiarly magnificent drum-major in bear-skin hat and plumes at the head, swinging a gorgeous baton.
Cleary exhibited it to Carlos.
"There is our elderly friend," said he, indicating the drum-major. "He is leading the national war-dance of our people. There is the tom-tom," he added triumphantly, pointing at the bass-drum, which was fortunately presented in full relief.
Carlos was taken aback, and he made a guttural exclamation of surprise.
"Do you dress like that when you are at home?" he asked of Colonel James.
"I do," replied the colonel majestically.
"Then I bow down before you," said the chief, kneeling down and touching the ground with his forehead three times. "But," he added, as he rose to his feet, "you have not yet proved that we are brothers. Where are your tattoo-marks? Look at mine!"
"Sam, strip," whispered Cleary, and Sam tore off his coat and shirt, displaying the masterpieces of the artistic boatswain. A cry of admiration went up from the assembled savages. Carlos rushed at him, threw his arms about his neck, and rubbed his nose violently against his.
"For heaven's sake, save me, Cleary.'" cried Sam. "My nose will be worse than Saunders', and Marian is prejudiced against damaged noses."
Cleary thought it best not to interfere, and finally the chief grew tired of this exercise. He hardly paid any attention while Cleary showed the modest tattoo-marks on his arms, and Colonel James exhibited equally insignificant symbols on his, for he, too, had been tattooed in his youth. He was too much engrossed in Sam's red hair and his variegated cuticle.
"Here is the picture of the water-ordeal which you forgot to look at," said Cleary, as he collected the photographs. "This is my friend again with his head in the water and his legs stretched out in supplication to the god of the temple."
Carlos looked at it in ecstasy.
"Oh, my brothers!" he cried. "To think that I should not have known you! You torture each other just as we do. You are tattooed just as we are! You have bigger feathers and bigger dances and bigger tom-toms. You are bigger savages than we are! Come, let us feast together."
The repast was soon prepared in the center of the clearing. The prisoners, now unbound, washed and happy, were seated in the place of honor on each side of the chief. A huge pot of miscellaneous food was set down in the midst, and they all began to eat with their fingers, the chief picking out the tid-bits for his guests and putting them in their mouths. They were so much delighted with the results of the day's work that they ate heartily and asked no questions. When the meal was over, Cleary turned to the chief and thanked him in a little oration, which was received with great favor.
"We have found our brothers," he said in conclusion, "and you have found yours. You believe us now when we say that we have come to bless you and not to injure you. We will not take your land. We will generously give you part of it for yourselves. You see how we all love you, the aged warrior and the red-headed chief as well as I. Why will you not come with us when we set out on our journey to our great chief, or why, at any rate, will you not send your chiefs with us, to tell him that you have received us all as brothers and that we shall always be friends and allies?"
Carlos translated this speech sentence by sentence. Cleary was a good speaker, and they were impressed by his style as well as by his argument. They palavered together for some time; then Carlos arose and addressed his guests, but particularly Sam, whom he considered as the leader.
"Brothers," he said, "we are indeed brothers by the torture, tattoo, tom-tom, and top-feather. We did not know who you were, we did not understand you. We wished to be left in peace. We did not want to have the Castalians come here and rob us. We did not want their beads and their brandy. We wanted to be let alone. But you are our brothers. You are greater savages than we are. Why should we not go with you? The chiefs of our other villages are coming tomorrow at sunrise. I will conduct you back to your great chief with them, and we shall all rejoice together."
It was now nearly dark. Carlos apologized for not having accommodation for his guests in his tree-hut, but provided comfortable blankets on the ground and had a fire built for them in a secluded place near the village. The three men were soon sleeping peacefully, and they did not awake until the sun had already risen.
When they awoke they heard the noise of voices in the village and hastened thither. The chiefs had already arrived and were exchanging greetings with Carlos and the other residents. Breakfast was prepared by the women on the same ground where they had dined, and by eight o'clock the expedition started, composed of some thirty warriors, several of whom were laden with presents in the shape of baskets and native cloth. When they neared the headquarters of the little invading army, the three white men went ahead and informed the sentinels that it was a peaceful embassy which followed them.
"You must leave me to tell the story of our exploit," Cleary had said, and his friends were so well satisfied with his record as a talker that they assented.
"General," said Cleary, as they entered his hut in the village, "we are bringing in all the chiefs of the Moritos. They are ready to lay down their arms and accept any terms. We have sworn friendship to them."
"How on earth have you managed it?" said the general.
"It is chiefly due to Captain Jinks, or, I should say, Major Jinks. They were about to kill us when, by the sheer force of his glance and his powers of speech, he actually cowed them, and they submitted to him."
"I have heard of taming wild beasts that way," said the general, "but I never quite believed it."
When the chiefs arrived they embraced every soldier they saw and showed every sign of joy. The general ordered a feast to be spread for them and addressed them in English. They did not understand a word of this harangue, but seemed most affected. When they heard that the great general of all was at San Diego, only a day's march away, they insisted on going thither, and the next day the brigade marched back again, leaving a small garrison behind. The army at San Diego could hardly believe its eyes when at sundown the expedition returned, having fully accomplished its object without firing a shot and accompanied by a band of Moritos. When Cleary's version of the exploit became known, Sam was openly acclaimed as a hero and the favorite of the army. General Laughter complimented him again, and again mentioned him in despatches. A week later his promotion to be major of volunteers, for meritorious conduct in the field of San Diego, was announced by cable, and again after a few days he was made a colonel. Sam's cup was full.
"Sam," said Cleary one day, "I believe in your luck. You'll be President some of these days. All the time we were up in the mountains I knew it would come out all right because we had you along."
Meanwhile the chiefs had tendered their presents to General Laughter and had drunk plentiful libations of whisky and soda with him. They spent a week of festivity in the town and then returned, having agreed to all that was asked of them by their "brothers."
The rainy season now set in, and operations in the field became difficult. Furthermore, the general had decided that the war was at an end, and officially it was so considered. Some troops were left at San Diego, but the headquarters were removed again to Havilla, and Sam was back with the staff. He found himself received as a great man. His two exploits had made him the most famous officer in the army, even more so than the general in command. Soon after his return to the city one of the civil commissioners, who had been sent out by the Administration, gave a large dinner in his honor at the palace. The chief officers and civil officials were among the guests, as well as two or three native merchants who had remained loyal to the invading army for financial and commercial reasons and had not joined the rebels, who composed nine-tenths of the population. These merchants were generally known in the army as the "patriots," and were treated with much consideration by the civil commissioners.
After dinner the host proposed a toast to Sam and accompanied it with a patriotic speech which thrilled the hearts of his audience. He pointed to the national flag which was festooned upon the wall.
"Look at Old Gory!" he cried. "What does she stand for? For the rights of the oppressed all over the earth, for freedom and equal rights, for--"
There was a sound of boisterous laughter in the next room. A young officer ran forward and whispered to the orator, "Be careful; some of those captured rebel officers are shut up in there, and perhaps they can overhear you. Be careful what you say. Some of them speak English." The commissioner hemmed and hawed and tried to recover himself.
"What does the dear old flag stand for?" he repeated. "For liber---No--for-r-r---Well, 'pon my word, what does she stand for?"
"For the army and navy," whispered a neighbor.
"Yes," he thundered. "Yes, the flag stands for the army and navy, for our officers and men, for our men-of-war and artillery, for our cavalry and infantry, that's what she stands for!"
This was received with great applause, and the speaker smiled with satisfaction. Then gradually his expression became sad.
"I am sorry to say," he said,--"I am ashamed as a citizen of our great land to be obliged to admit, that there are at home a few craven-hearted, mean-spirited men--shall I call them men? No, nor even women--there are creatures, I say, who disapprove of our glorious deeds, who spurn the flag and the noble principles for which it stands and to which I have alluded, who say that we have no business to take away land which belongs to other people, and that we have not the right to slaughter rebels and traitors in our midst. I appeal to the patriotic Cubapinos at this board, if we are not introducing a higher and nobler civilization into these islands."
The native gentlemen bowed assent.
"Have we not given them a better language than their own? Have we not established our enlightened institutions? For instance, let me cite the custom house. We have the collector here with us--and the post-office. The postmaster is--"
"Sh-sh-sh!" whispered the prompter again. "He's in jail."
"I mean the assistant postmaster is also with us. And there are our other institutions, the--"
"There's going to be a prize-fight tonight." cried a young lieutenant who had taken too much wine, at the foot of the table. "Dandy Sullivan against Joe Corker."
This interruption was too much for the commissioner, who was quite unable to resume the thread of his remarks for several moments. The guests in the mean time moved uneasily in their seats, for most of them were anxious to be off to see the fight.
"Those who carp against us at home," continued the speaker, trying in vain to find some graceful way of coming to a close, "those who dishonor the flag are the men who pretend to be filled with humanity and to desire the welfare of mankind. They pretend to object to bloodshed. They are mere sentimentalists. They are not practical men. They do not understand our destiny, nor the Constitution, nor progress, nor civilization, nor glory, nor honor, nor the dear old flag, God bless her. They are sentimentalists. They have no sense of humor."
Here the audience applauded loudly, altho the speaker had not intended to have them applaud just there. It occurred to him that he might just as well stop at this point, and he sat down, not altogether satisfied, however, with his peroration and vexed to think that he had forgotten Sam altogether. The party broke up without delay, and Sam walked off with Cleary, who had been present, to see the prize-fight.
"The commissioner isn't much of a talker, is he?" said Cleary. "That was a bad break about the postmaster. I hear they've arrested Captain Jones for embezzlement too."
"Good heavens!" cried Sam, "what an outrage!" And he told Cleary of his narrow escape from complicity in the matter, and how the military operations had prevented him from calling on the contractors. "Civilians don't understand these things," he added. "They oughtn't to send them out here. They don't understand things."
"No. They haven't been brought up on tabasco sauce. What can you expect of them?"
They soon arrived at the Alhambra Theater at which the fight was to take place, and found it in progress. A large crowd was collected, consisting of soldiers and natives in equal proportions. The last round was just finishing, and Joe Corker was in the act of knocking his opponent out. The audience was shouting with glee and excitement, the cheers being mixed with hisses and cries of "Fake, fake!"
"I know Corker," said Cleary. "Come, I'll introduce you."
They pushed forward through the crowd, and were soon in a room behind the stage, where Corker was being rubbed and washed down by his assistants. Sam looked at the great man and felt rather small and insignificant. "Here's a kind of civilian who is not inferior to army men," he thought. "Perhaps he is even superior." He would not have said this aloud, but he thought it.
"How de do, Joe?" said Cleary, shaking hands. "That was a great fight. You knocked him out clean. Here's my friend, Colonel Jinks, the hero of San Diego and the pacifier of the Moritos."
Corker nodded condescendingly.
"We enjoyed the fight very much," said Sam, not altogether at his ease. "It reminded me of my own experience at East Point."
"It was a good fight," said Corker, "and a damned fair one too. I'd like to punch the heads of those fellers who cried 'fake.' It was as fair as fair could be, and Dandy and me was as evenly matched as two peas. I always believe in takin' a feller of your size, and I did."
"That wasn't the way at East Point," said Cleary. "They didn't take fellows of their size there."
"That's against our rules anyway," said Corker.
"It must be a civilian rule," said Sam, beginning to feel his superiority again. "The military rule as we were taught it at East Point was to take a smaller man if you could, and you see, the army does just the same thing. We tackled Castalia and then the Cubapines, and they weren't of our size. We don't fight the powerful countries."
"That's queer," said Corker, drinking a lemonade.
"It's perfectly right," said Sam. "When a man's in the right, and of course we always are, if he fights a man of his size or one bigger than he is, he gives the wrong a chance of winning, and that is clearly immoral. If he takes a weaker man he makes the truth sure of success. And it's just the same way with nations."
Corker did not seem to be much interested by this disquisition, and Cleary dragged his friend away after they had respectfully bade the pugilist good-night. A crowd of soldiers was waiting outside to see Corker get into his carriage. They paid no attention whatever to Sam and Cleary.
"When it comes to real glory a prize-fighter beats a colonel all hollow," said Cleary, and they parted for the night.
Sam was retained on the general staff and assigned to the important post of censor of the press. His duties were most engrossing, for not only were the proofs of all the local newspapers submitted to him, but also all other printed matter. One day a large number of handbills were confiscated at a printer's and brought in for his inspection. He was very busy and asked his native private secretary to look them over for him. In a half-hour he came to him with a translation of the document.
"What does it say?" cried Sam. "I have no time to read it through."
"It says that governments are made to preserve liberty, and that they get their only authority from the free will of the people who are ruled by them," answered the clerk.
"That's clearly seditious," said Sam. "There must be some plot at the bottom of it. Have the whole edition burned and have the printer locked up."
A few days later a newspaper was brought to him announcing that the Moritos had massacred the garrison stationed among them, that the whole province of San Diego was in revolt, and that the regiment there would probably have to fall back on Havilla. Sam was much scandalized, and sent at once for the native editor.
"What does this mean?" said he.
"Pardon, my colonel," said the little man apologetically, "this is a newspaper and this is news. I am sure it is true."
"That is the civilian conception of news," said Sam, with disdain. "Officially this is not true. We have instructions, as you have often been told, not to allow anything to be printed that can injure the Administration at Whoppington. Any one can see how this would injure it, and news that can injure it is, from the military point of view, untrue. General Notice is making a tour of the country at home, receiving ovations everywhere on account of the complete subjugation of the islands. What effect will such news have upon his reception? Is it a proper way to treat a general who has deserved well of his country?"
"But," interposed the editor, "don't the people know that you are continually sending out more troops?"
"The people do not mind a little thing like that," said Sam. "When an officer and a gentleman says the war is over, they believe it, and they show their gratitude by voting money to send new regiments. Your action in printing this stuff is most disloyal. I will send one of my assistants around to your office with you to see that this edition is destroyed, and if you repeat the offense you will be deported."
The unfortunate man retired, shrugging his shoulders. As he went out Cleary came running in with a copy of the paper.
"Oh! you've got a copy of that, have you?" said Sam. "It's an outrage to print such things, isn't it?"
"I'm afraid it's true," said Cleary.
"What difference does that make?" exclaimed Sam. "It's the business of an army to conquer a country. We've done it twice, and we can do it as often as we like again."
"Hear, hear!" cried Cleary. "You're becoming more and more of a soldier as you get promoted. You have the true military instinct, I see. Of course it makes no difference who holds the country, but I'm a little disappointed in the Moritos. As for San Diego, Colonel Booth of your old regiment is in command, and I half think he didn't back up the Morito garrison out of jealousy toward you. He wanted to have the Morito country go back, so as to belittle our exploit. But we'll get even with him. I've seen the cable-censor, and not a word about it will go home. I have just sent a despatch saying that the whole island is entirely in our hands and that the natives are swearing allegiance by thousands."
"That's right," said Sam. "It's really a kindness to the people at home, for if they think it's true it makes them just as happy as if it were true, and I think it's positively cruel to worry them unnecessarily."
"To be sure," said Cleary. "And if it does get out, we'll throw all the blame on the Secretary of War and his embalmed beef. They say he's writing a book to show that a diet of mummies is the best for fighting men--and so the quarrels go on. By the way, I just stopped a piece of news that might have interested you. Do you know that you have suppressed the Declaration of Independence?"
"Nonsense. I haven't seen a copy of it in two years."
"Well, here's a despatch that I got away from the cable-office just in time. It would have gone in another ten minutes. Here it is."
Sam took the paper and read an account of the printing by a native committee of fifty thousand copies of the Declaration in Castalian, and its immediate suppression by Colonel Jinks, the censor.
"It's a downright lie," cried Sam. "I'll call my native secretary and inquire into this," and he rang his bell.
"See here, what does this mean?" he asked the clerk who hurried in.
The man thought a minute.
"I do not know the Declaration of Independence," he said, "but perhaps that paper I translated for you the other day had something to do with it. I have not a copy here."
"Were they burned."
"Not yet, sir. They were seized, and are in our dépôt."
"Come," said Sam to Cleary, "let's go over there and look at it. It's a half-mile walk and it will do me good."
"How are things at San Diego?" asked Sam, as they walked along together. "You've been out there, haven't you?"
"Yes. We'll have to come in. The Cubapinos have got a force together at a town farther down the river and are threatening us there. We got pretty near them and mined under a convent they were in, and blew up a lot of them, but it didn't do them much harm, for a lot of recruits came in just afterward from the mountains. That convent was born to be blown up, it seems, for some Castalian anarchists had a plot to blow it up some years ago, and came near doing it, too. We made use of their tunnels, which the monks were too lazy to have filled up. The anarchist plot was found out, and they garroted a dozen of them."
"What inhuman brutes those anarchists are!" cried Sam. "Think of their trying to blow up a whole houseful of people! I wish we could take some one of the smaller islands and put all the anarchists of the world there and let them live out their precious theories. Just think what a hell it would be! What infernal engines of hatred and destruction they would construct, if they were left to themselves--machines charged with dynamite and bristling with all sorts of explosive contrivances!"
"Something like a battle-ship," suggested Cleary.
"Don't talk nonsense!" exclaimed Sam. "Only Castalian fiends would try to destroy law and order and upset the peaceable course of society in such a way. Do you suppose that any of our people at home would do such a thing?"
"None, outside of the artillery," answered Cleary. "Well, at any rate, our blowing up of the convent didn't do much good. There was some talk of putting poison in the river to dispose of them, but of course we couldn't do that."
"Of course not," said Sam. "That would be barbarous and against all military precedents. The rules of war don't allow it."
"They're rather queer, those rules," answered his friend. "I should like my enemies to take notice that I prefer being poisoned to being blown up with bombshells. In some respects they don't pay much attention to the rules, either. They don't take prisoners much nowadays. Most of the despatches now read, 'fifty natives killed,' but they say nothing of wounded or prisoners."
"We're fighting savages, we must remember that," said Sam.
"Then we've got a way of trying our pistols and rifles on natives working in the fields; it's rather novel, to say the least. I saw one man in the 73d try his new revolver on a native rowing a boat on the river, and over the fellow toppled and the boat drifted down-stream. The men all applauded, and even the officers laughed."
"Boys will be boys," said Sam, smiling. "They're good shots, at any rate."
"They are that. There were some darkies plowing up there just this side of San Diego, and some of our fellows picked them off as neatly as you please. It must have been eight hundred yards if it was a foot. But somehow I don't quite like it."
"War is war," said Sam, using a phrase which presumably has a rational meaning, as it is so often employed by reasonable people. "It doesn't pay to be squeamish. The squeamish men don't make good soldiers. I've seen enough to learn that. They hesitate to obey orders, if they don't like them."
As he said this they passed a small crowd of boys in the street. They were trying to make two dogs fight, but the dogs refused to do so, and the boys were beating them and urging them on.
"What stupid brutes they are," said Sam. "They're badly trained."
"They haven't had a military education," responded Cleary. "But I almost forgot to ask you, have you seen the papers from home this morning? They're all full of you and your greatness. Here are two or three," and he took them from his pocket.
Sam opened them and gazed at them entranced. There was page upon page of his exploits, portraits of all kinds, biographies, anecdotes, interviews, headlines, everything that his wildest dreams had imagined, only grander and more glorious. There was nothing to be seen but the words "Captain Jinks" from one end of the papers to the other.
"They've even got a song about you," said Cleary. "Here it is:"
"I'm Captain Jinks of the horse-marines.
I feed my horse on corn and beans.
Of course it's quite beyond my means.
Tho a captain in the army!"
"I don't altogether like it," said Sam. "What are the horse-marines? I don't believe there are any."
"Oh, that doesn't make any difference. It seems it's an old song that was all the go long before our time, and your name has revived it. It will advertise you splendidly. The whole thing is a grand piece of work for The Lyre. Jonas has been congratulating me on it. He'd come and tell you so, but he doesn't want to be seen with you. You've censured out everything I've asked you to for him, and he doesn't want people to know about his pull. That's the reason why he's never called on you. But he says it's the best newspaper job he ever heard of. I tell you we're a great combination, you and I. Perhaps I'll write a book and call it, 'With Jinks at Havilla.' Rather an original title, isn't it? But I'm afraid that all this talk at home will not make you very popular with the officers here, who knew you when you were only a captain. What would you say to being transferred to Porsslania? They want new men for our army there, and I've half a mind to go too for a change and act as the Lyre's correspondent there. They'll do anything I ask them now."
"I'd like it very much," said Sam. "I'm tired of this literary business. But here we are. This is our dépôt."
The two men entered the long low building in which confiscated property was stored. A soldier who was acting as watchman showed them where the circulars were piled. Cleary took one and glanced over it.
"As sure as fate, it's the Declaration of Independence!" he laughed.
Sam took up a copy and looked at it too.
"I believe it is," he said. "I didn't half look at it the other day. I'm ever so much obliged to you for telling me and stopping the telegram. But between you and me, the circular ought to be suppressed anyway. What business have these people to talk about equal rights and the consent of the governed? The men who wrote the Declaration--Jeffries and the rest--were mere civilians and these ideas are purely civilian. Come, let's have them burned at once," and he called up two or three soldiers, and in a few minutes the circulars formed a mass of glowing ashes in the courtyard.
One day while Sam was still waiting for Cleary to carry out his designs, his secretary told him that a sergeant wished to see him, and Sam directed him to shown him into his office. The man was a rather sinister-looking individual, and his speech betrayed his Anglian origin.
"Colonel," said he, after the door was closed and they were alone, "I'm only a sergeant promoted from the ranks, but I'm not just an ordinary common soldier. I know a thing or two, and I've got a plan and I thought perhaps you would be glad to 'ear of it. I 'ave the 'abit of observing things, and most soldiers don't. Why, bless me, you can march them into a country and out again, and with their eyes front, they don't see a bloomin' thing. They're trained to see nothin'. They're good for nothin' but to do as they're bid. I used to be in the army in the old country, and once at Baldershot I saw Lord Bullsley come along on horseback and stop two soldiers carryin' a soup-pail.
"'Give me a taste of that,' says he, and one of them runs off and gets a ladle and gives him a taste. He spits it out and makes a face and shouts:
"'Good heavens! man, you don't call that stuff soup, do you?'
"'No, sir,' says the man. 'It's dish-water that we was a-hemptyin'.' That's the soldier all over again. He 'adn't sense enough to tell him beforehand."
"I don't see, sergeant, what that has to do with me," said Sam curtly.
"Well, sir, perhaps it hasn't. But I only wanted to say that I ain't that kind of a man. I sees and thinks for myself. Now I 'ear that they've got a letter captured from Gomaldo askin' General Baluna for reenforcements, and that they've got some letters from Baluna too, and know his handwritin'. I only wanted to say that I used to be a writin'-master and that I can copy any writin' goin' or any signature either, so you can't tell them apart. Now why couldn't we forge an answer from Baluna to Gomaldo and send the first reenforcements ourselves? He wants a 'undred men at a time. And then we could capture Gomaldo as easy as can be. We could find him in the mountains. I know a lot of these natives 'ere who would go with us if we paid them well."
"We should have to dress them up in the native uniform," said Sam. "I don't know whether that would be quite honorable."
The sergeant smiled knowingly, but said nothing.
"Do you think we could get native officers to do such a thing?" Sam asked.
"Oh, yes! Plenty of them. I know one or two. At first they wouldn't like it. But give them money enough and commissions in our army, and they'd do it."
"How different they are from us!" mused Sam. "Nobody in our army, officer or man, could ever be approached in that way."
"It seems to me I've read somewhere of one of our principal generals--Maledict Donald, wasn't it?"
Sam thought best not to hear this.
"But we would have to send some of our own officers on such an expedition," he said. "We couldn't disguise them as natives."
"That wouldn't be necessary. They can go as if they were prisoners--you and two or three others you could pick out. I'd like to go too. And then I'd expect good pay if the thing went through, and a commission as lieutenant."
"There'd be no trouble about that," answered Sam. "I'll think it over, and perhaps consult the general about it and let you know by tomorrow."
"Very good, sir. I'm Sergeant Keene of the 5th Company, 39th Infantry."
As the sergeant went out Cleary came in, and Sam laid the matter before him.
"I know that fellow by sight," said Cleary. "They say he's served several terms for forgery and counterfeiting. I don't like his looks. That's a great scheme tho, if it does seem a little like bunco-steering. It's all right in war perhaps."
"Yes," said Sam. "We have a higher standard of honor than civilians. I'll go and see the general about it now."
After some consultation the general approved the plan and authorized Sam to carry it out. The latter set Keene to work at once at forging a letter from Baluna acknowledging receipt of the orders for reenforcements and informing Gomaldo that he was sending him the first company of one hundred troops. Meanwhile he selected three officers of the Regular Army to accompany him besides Keene, and through the latter approached three native officers who had been captured at San Diego. One of these was a close confidential friend of Gomaldo's, but Keene succeeded after much persuasion in winning them all over. It was an easier task to make up a company of native privates, who readily followed their officers when a small payment on account had been given to each man.
"I don't quite like the job," Sam confessed to Cleary, "but the general says it's all right and so it must be."
At last the expedition started out. All the natives were dressed in the native uniform, and the five white men were clad as privates in the invading army and held as prisoners. After passing the outposts near San Diego they turned toward the south in the direction of the mountains where Gomaldo's captured letter had been dated. They were received with rejoicings in each native village as soon as they showed the forged letter of Baluna and exhibited their white prisoners. The villagers showed much interest in the latter, but treated them kindly, expressing their pity for them and offering them food. They had no difficulty in obtaining exact directions as to Gomaldo's situation, but found that it lay in the midst of an uninhabited district where it was impossible to obtain supplies, the village where he had established his headquarters being the only one within many miles. They scraped together what food they could in the shape of rice, Indian corn, and dried beef, and set out on the last stage of their journey. There had been heavy rains recently, and the mountain paths were almost impassable. There were swift rivers to cross, precipices to climb, and jungles to penetrate. The heat was intense, and the men began to suffer from it. The advance was very slow, and soon the provisions gave out. It began to seem probable that the whole expedition would perish in the mountains. Sam called a council of war, and, at Keene's suggestion, picked out the two most vigorous privates, who went ahead bearing the alleged Baluna letter and another from Gomaldo's renegade friend, who was nominally in command, asking for speedy succor. The two ambassadors were well schooled in what they should say, and were promised a large sum of money if they succeeded.
For two long days the party waited entirely without food, and they were just beginning to despair, when the two men returned with a dozen carriers sent by Gomaldo bringing an ample supply of bread and meat. He also delivered a letter in which the native general congratulated his friend on his success in leading the reenforcements and in capturing the prisoners, and gave express instructions that the latter should be treated with all consideration. The carriers were commanded by a native lieutenant, who insisted that the prisoners should share equally with the native troops, and saw to it personally that Sam and his friends were served. His kindness cut Sam to the heart. After a few hours' delay the expedition set out again, and on the following day it reached the mountain village where Gomaldo had established himself.
Gomaldo's body-guard, composed of fifty troops neatly dressed in white uniforms, were drawn up to receive them, and the whole population greeted them with joy. Gomaldo himself stood on the veranda of his house, and, after saluting the expedition, invited the native officers who were to betray him in to dinner. At this moment Keene whispered to Sam and the latter signaled to the native officer, Gomaldo's treacherous friend who was in charge of him, and this man gave an order in a low voice, whereupon the whole expedition discharged their rifles, and half-a-dozen of the body-guard fell to the ground. In the mean time two of the native officers threw their arms round Gomaldo and took him prisoner, and his partizans were seized with a panic. Sam took command of his men, who outnumbered the loyal natives, and in a few minutes he had unchallenged control of the post without losing a single man, killed or wounded. Gomaldo was intensely excited and upbraided Sam bitterly when taken before him, but upon being promised good treatment he became more tractable. Sam gave orders that the villagers should bury the dead, among whom he regretted to see the body of the native lieutenant who had brought him food when they were starving; and then, after a rest of several hours, the expedition set out on the return journey, Gomaldo and his men accompanying it as prisoners.
The news of the capture preceded the party, and when, after a march of several days, they arrived at Havilla, Sam was received as a conquering hero by the army. Cleary took the first opportunity to grasp his hand.
"Is it really a great and noble act?" Sam whispered. "I suppose it is, for everybody says so, but somehow it has left a bad taste in my mouth, and I can't bear the sight of that fellow Keene."
"Never mind," said Cleary. "You won't have to see him long. We're going to Porsslania in a fortnight, you and I, and you'll have a chance to turn the world upside down there."
During the past months great events had taken place in the ancient empire of Porsslania. Many years earlier the various churches had sent missionaries to that benighted land to reclaim its inhabitants from barbarism and heathenism. These emissaries were not received with the enthusiastic gratitude which they deserved, and some of the Porsslanese had the impudence to assert that they were a civilized people when their new teachers had been naked savages. They proved their barbarism, however, by indulging in the most unreasonable prejudices against a foreign religion, and when cornered in argument they would say to the missionaries, "How would you like us to convert your people to our religion?" an answer so illogical that it demonstrates either their bad faith or the low development of their intellects. The missionaries of some of the sects, by the help of their governments, gradually obtained a good deal of land and at the same time a certain degree of civil jurisdiction. The foreign governments, wishing to bless the natives with temporal as well as celestial advantages, followed up the missionary pioneers with traders in cheap goods, rum, opium, and fire-arms, and finally endeavored to introduce their own machinery and factory system, which had already at home raised all the laboring classes to affluence, put an end to poverty, and realized the dream of the prophets of old. The Porsslanese resolutely resisted all these benevolent enterprises and doggedly expressed their preference for their ancient customs. In order to overcome this unreasonable opposition and assure the welfare of the people, the various Powers from time to time seized the great ports of the Empire. The fertile diplomacy of the courts found sufficient ground for this. Most frequently the pretext was an attack upon a missionary or even a case of cold-blooded murder, and it became a proverb among the Porsslanese that it takes a province to bury a missionary. Finally, all the harbors of the Empire were in the hands of foreigners, who used this advantageous position to confer blessings thick and fast upon the reluctant population, who richly deserved, as a punishment, to be left to themselves. At last a revolutionary party sprang up among this deluded people, claiming that their own Government was showing too much favor to foreign religions and foreign machines. The Government did not put down this revolt. Some said that it did not have the power and that the provinces were practically independent of the central authority. Others whispered that the Imperial Court secretly favored the rebels. However this may be, the Fencers, as the rebels were called from their skill with the native sword, succeeded without much difficulty in getting possession of the imperial city and imprisoning the foreign embassies and legations in the enclosure of the Anglian Embassy. The Imperial Court meanwhile fled to a distant city and left the entire control of the situation in the hands of the Fencers. The peril of the legations was extreme. They were cut off completely from the coast, which was many miles distant, and the foreign newspaper correspondents amused themselves by sending detailed accounts of the manner in which they had been tortured and murdered. The principal men among the Porsslanese assured the Powers that the legations were safe, but they were not believed. A great expedition was organized in which all the great Powers took a part. The forts near the sea were stormed and taken. The intermediate city of Gin-Sin was besieged and finally fell, and the forces advanced to the gates of the Capital. Before long they succeeded in taking possession of the great city. The Fencers fled in confusion, and at least two-thirds of the population fled with them, fearing the vengeance of the foreigners. The legations were saved, after one ambassador had been shot by an assassin. The city was divided into districts, each of which was turned over to the safe-keeping of one of the foreign armies, and the object of the expedition had been accomplished. In the mean time many foreign residents, including many missionaries in various parts of the Empire, had been murdered, the inhabitants not recognizing the obvious fact that they and their countrymen were their best friends.
Affairs had reached this position when orders came to Havilla for Colonel Jinks to proceed to join the army in Porsslania, where he would be placed in command of a regiment. His fidus Achates, Cleary, had also received permission from his journal to accompany him, and the two set sail on a transport which carried details of troops. It is true that these troops could ill be spared from the Cubapines, as the country was still in the hands of the natives with the exception of here and there a strip of the seacoast, and there was much illness among the troops, many being down with fever and worse diseases. But it was necessary for the Government to make as good a showing in Porsslania as the other Powers, and the reenforcements had to go.
It was on a hot summer day that Sam and Cleary looked over the rail of the transport as they watched the troops come on board. It was a remarkable scene, for a crowd of native women were on the shore, weeping and arguing with the men and preventing them from getting into the boats.
"Who on earth are they?" asked Sam.
"It's a pretty mean practical joke," said Cleary. "That regiment has been up in the interior, and they've all had wives up there. They buy them for five dollars apiece. And the Governor of the province there, a friendly native, has sent more than a hundred of the women down here, to get rid of them, I suppose, and now the poor things want to come along with their young men. Some of them have got babies, do you see?"
After a long and noisy delay the captain of the transport, assisted by the officers of the regiment in question, persuaded the women to stay behind, giving a few coppers to each and making the most reckless and unabashed promises of return. The steamer then weighed anchor and was soon passing the sunken Castalian fleet.
"The Court at Whoppington has just allowed prize-money to the officers and men for sinking those ships," said Cleary. "They didn't get as much as they wanted, but it's a good round sum."
"I'm glad they will get some remuneration for their hard work," said Sam.
"Do you see that native sloop over there?" said Cleary. "She's a pirate boat we caught down in the archipelago. She had sunk a merchant vessel loaded with opium or something of the kind, very valuable. They'd got her in shallow water and had killed some of the crew, and the rest swam ashore, and they were dividing up the swag when they were caught. They would have had I don't know how many dollars apiece. They were all hanged."
"Serves them right," said Sam. "We must put down piracy. Good-by, Havilla," he added, waving his hat toward the capital. "It makes me feel happy to think that I have actually ended the war by capturing Gomaldo."
"Not much!" cried Cleary. "Didn't you hear the news this morning? The Cubapinos are twice as active as ever. They're rising everywhere."
Not many days later, and after an uneventful voyage, the transport sailed into the mouth of the Hai-Po River and came to anchor off the ruins of the Porsslanese forts. Colonel Jinks had orders to proceed at once to Gin-Sin, and he left with Cleary on a river steamer. They were struck by the utter desolation of the country. There were no signs of life, but here and there the smoking ruins of a town showed where human beings had been. They noticed something floating in the water with a swarm of flies hovering over it.
"Good heavens! it's a corpse," said Cleary. "It's a native. That's a handsome silk jacket, and it doesn't look like a soldier's either. Look at that vulture. It's sweeping down on it."
The vulture circled round in the air, coming close to the body, but did not touch it.
"It has had enough to eat already," said an Anglian passenger who was standing near them. "Did you ever see such a fat bird? You'll see plenty of bodies before long. Do you observe those vultures ahead there? You'll find floating bodies wherever they are."
"I suppose they are the bodies of soldiers," said Sam.
"No, indeed, not all of them by any means. These Porsslanese must be stamped out like vipers. I'm thankful to say most of the armies are doing their duty. They don't give any quarter to native soldiers, and they despatch the wounded too. That's the only way to treat them, and they don't feel pain the way we do. In fact, they rather like it. The Tutonians are setting a good example; they shoot their prisoners. I saw them shoot about seventy. They tied them together four by four by their pigtails and then shot them. It's best, tho, to avoid taking prisoners; that's what most of them do."
"But you say these bodies are not all soldiers," said Cleary.
"No, of course not. You see the Mosconians kill any natives they please. Then those who are out at night are killed as a matter of course, and those who won't work for the soldiers naturally have to be put out of the way. It's the only way to enforce discipline. Look at these bodies now."
Corpses were now coming down the river one after another. Each had its attendant swarm of flies, and vultures soared in flocks in the air. The river was yellow with mud, and the air oppressively hot and heavy. Now and then a whiff of putrid air was blown across the deck. The three men watched the bodies drifting past, brainless skulls, eyeless sockets, floating along many of them as if they were swimming on their backs. "It is really a fine example of the power of civilization," said the stranger. "I don't approve of everything that has been done, by any means. Some of the armies have treated women rather badly, but no English-speaking soldiers have done that. In fact, your army has hardly been up to average in effectiveness. You and the Japs have been culpably lenient, if you will permit me to say so."
"We are only just starting out on our career as a military nation," said Sam. "You must not expect too much of us at first. We'll soon get our hand in. As for the Japs, why they're heathen. They can hardly be expected to behave like Christians. But we were afraid that the war was over and that we should find nothing to do."
"The war over! What an absurdity! I have lived in Porsslania for over thirty years and I ought to know something about it by now. There's an army of at least forty thousand Fencers over there to the northwest and another twenty-five thousand in the northeast. The Tutonians are the only people who understand it. Their first regiments have just arrived, and they are going to do something. They say the Emperor is coming himself, and he will put an end to this state of affairs. He is not a man to stand rebellion. All we can say is that we have made a good beginning. We have laid the whole province waste, and it will be a long time before they forget it."
The journey was hot and tedious; the desolated shore, the corpses and vultures, and an occasional junk with square-rigged sails and high poop were the only things upon which to fix the eye. When at last our travelers arrived at the city of Gin-Sin, Sam learned that his regiment had proceeded to the Capital and was in camp there, and it would be impossible for him to leave until the following day. He stopped with Cleary at the principal hotel. The city was in a semi-ruined condition, but life was already beginning to assume its ordinary course. The narrow streets, hung with banners and lanterns and cabalistic signs, were full of people. Barbers and scribes were plying their trades in the open air, and war was not always in sight. Sam's reputation had preceded him, and he had scarcely gone to his room when he received an invitation from a leading Anglian merchant to dine with him that evening. Cleary was anxious to go too, and it so happened that he had letters of introduction to the gentleman in question. He made his call at once and was duly invited.
There were a dozen or more guests at dinner, all of them men. Indeed, there were few white women left at Gin-Sin. With the exception of Sam and Cleary all the guests were Anglians. There was the consul-general, a little man with a gray beard, a tall, bald-headed, gray-mustached major-general in command of the Anglian forces at Gin-Sin, two distinguished missionaries of many years' experience, several junior officers of the army, and a merchant or two. When dinner was announced they all went in, each taking precedence according to his station. Sam knew nothing of such matters, and was loath to advance until his host forced him to. He found a card with his name on it at the second cover on the right from his host. On his right was the card of a young captain. The place on his left and immediately on the right of the host bore no card, and the consul-general and the major-general both made for it. The former got there first, but the military man, who was twice his size, came into violent collision with him, pushed him away and captured the seat, while the consul-general was obliged to retreat and take the seat on the left of his host. The whole party pretended very hard to have noticed nothing unusual.
"Rather odd performance, eh?" whispered the captain to Sam. "You see how it is. Old Folsom says he takes precedence because he represents the Crown, but the general says that's all rot, for the consul's only a commercial agent and a K.C.Q.X. Now the general is a G.C.Q.X., and he says that gives him precedence. Nobody can settle it, and so they have to fight it out every time they meet."
"I see," said Sam. "I don't know anything about such things, but I should think that the general was clearly in the right. He could hardly afford to let the army be over-ridden.
"Quite so," said the captain. "I don't suppose you know these people," he added.
"Not one of them, except my friend, Mr. Cleary. We only arrived today."
"The general is a good deal of a fellow," said the captain. "I was with him in Egypt and afterward in South Africa."
"Were you, indeed?" cried Sam. "Do tell me all about those wars. They were such great affairs."
"Yes, they were. Not much like this business here. Nothing could stop us in the Sudan, and when we dug up the Mahdi and threw his body away there was nothing left of the rebellion. I believe the best way to settle things here would be to dig up somebody--Confusus, for instance. If there's anything of that kind to be done our army could do it in style."
"It must be a very effective means of subjugating people," said Sam.
"Yes, and would you believe it? the natives objected to it. They asked us what we would think of it if they dug up our Queen. Just think of it! The impudent niggers! As if there was any similarity in the two cases."
"Outrageous," said Sam.
"And even at home and in Parliament, when our general was sitting in the gallery hearing them discuss how much money they would give him, some of the members protested against our digging the old fraud up. It was a handsome thing for the general to go there and face them down."
"It showed great tact, and I may say--delicacy," said Sam.
"Yes, indeed," said the captain. "That's his strong point."
"But I suppose that the war in South Africa was even greater," said Sam.
"Rather. Why we captured four thousand of those Boers with only forty thousand men. No wonder all Anglia went wild over it. Lord Bobbets went home and they gave him everything they could think of in the way of honors. It was a fitting tribute."
"The war is quite over there now, isn't it?" asked Sam.
"Yes," answered the captain, somewhat drily. "And so is yours in the Cubapines, I understand."
"Yes," said Sam. "I think the Cubapine war and the South African war are about equally over."
"Do you see that lieutenant there between your friend and the parson?"
"He got the Victorious Cross in South Africa. He saved a sergeant's life under fire. You see his cross?"
"How interesting!" said Sam. "He must be a hero."
"That chap with the mustache at the bottom of the table really did more once. He saved three men from drowning in a shipwreck in the Yellow Sea. He's got a medal for it."
"Why doesn't he wear it, too?" asked Sam.
"Civilians never do," said the captain. "It would look rather odd, wouldn't it, for him to wear a life-saving medal? You may be sure he keeps it locked up somewhere and never talks about it."
"It is strange that civilians should be so far behind military men in using their opportunities," said Sam.
"That old fellow with the long beard is Cope, the inventor of the Cope gun. He's a wonder. He was out here in the employ of the Porsslanese Government. Most of their artillery was designed by him. What a useful man he has been to his country! First he invented a projectile that could go through any steel plate then known, and all the navies had to build new steel-clad ships on a new principle that he had invented to prevent his projectiles from piercing them. Then what does he do, but invent a new projectile that could go through that, and they had to order new guns for it and build new ships to withstand it. He's done that four times. And he's got a rifle now that will penetrate almost anything. If you put two hundred Porsslanese of the same height in a row it would go through all their heads at five hundred yards. I hope they'll try the experiment before this affair is over."
The major-general had by this time exhausted all possible subjects of conversation with his host and sat silent, and Sam felt obliged to turn his attention to him, and was soon engaged in relating his experiences in the Cubapines. Meanwhile Cleary had been conversing with the brave young lieutenant at his side and the reverend gentleman beyond him. They had been discussing the slaughter of the Porsslanese, the lieutenant sitting back from the table while his neighbors talked across him.
"I confess," said the Rev. Mr. Parker, "that I am not quite satisfied with our position here. This wholesale killing of non-combatants is revolting to me. Surely it can not be Christian."
"I nave some doubts about it too," said the young man. "I don't mind hitting a man that hits back. I didn't object to the pig-sticking in South Africa, and I believe that man-hunting is the best of all sports; but this killing of people who don't resist, and even smile in a sickly way while you do it and almost thank you--it really does go against me."
"Yes," said Cleary, "perhaps there is something in that."
"Oh, my dear young friend!" cried the clergyman, turning toward the lieutenant, "you don't know what joy it gives me to hear you say that. I have spoken in this way again and again, and you are the first man I have met who agrees with me. Won't you let your fellow officers know what you think? It will come with so much more force from a military man, and one of your standing as a V. C. Won't you now tell this company that you think we are going too far?"
"Really, Doctor," said the young man, blushing, "really, I think you exaggerate my importance. I wouldn't do any good. Perhaps I have said a little more to you than I really meant. This champagne has gone to my head a little."
"Just repeat what you said to us. I will get the attention of the table."
"No. Doctor, for God's sake don't!" cried the lieutenant, laying his right hand on the missionary's arm while he toyed with his cross with the other. "To tell you the truth, I haven't the courage to say it. They would think I was crazy. I would be put in Coventry. I have no business to make suggestions when a general's present."
Mr. Parker sighed and did not return to the subject.
After dinner Sam was introduced to Canon Gleed, another missionary, who seemed to be on very good terms with himself, and stood rubbing his hands with a benignant smile.
"These are great days, Colonel Jinks," he said. "Great days, indeed, for foreign missions. What would St. John have said on the island of Patmos if he could nave cabled for half-a-dozen armies and half-a-dozen fleets, and got them too? He would have made short work of his jailers. As he looks down upon us tonight, how his soul must rejoice! The Master told us to go into all nations, and we are going to go if it takes a million troops to send us and keep us there. You are going on to the Capital tomorrow? You will meet a true saint of the Lord there, your own fellow countryman, the Rev. Dr. Amen. He is a true member of the Church Militant. Give him my regards when you see him."
"I see there is another clergyman here," said Sam, looking at Mr. Parker.
"Yes, and I must say I am surprised to see him. Let me warn you, Colonel. He is, I fear, altogether heterodox. I don't know what kind of Christianity he teaches, but he has actually kept on good terms with the Porsslanese near his mission throughout all these events. He is disloyal to our flag, there can be no question of it, and he openly criticizes the actions of our governments. He should not be received in society. He ought to be sent home--but, hist! some one is going to sing."
It was the young lieutenant who had seated himself at the piano and was clearing his throat as he ran his hands over the keys. Then he began to sing in a rather feeble voice:
"Let the French sip his cognac in his caffy.
Let the Cossack gulp his kvass and usquebaugh;
Let the Prussian grenadier
Swill his dinkle-doonkle beer.
And the Yankee suck his cocktail through a straw.
Through a straw.
And the Yankee suck his cocktail through a straw."
"Let the Ghoorka drink his pugaree and pukka.
Let the Hollander imbibe old schnapps galore.
Tommy Atkins is the chap
Who has broached a better tap.
For he takes his 'arf-and-'arf in blood and gore.
Blood and gore.
For he takes his 'arf-and-'arf in blood and gore."
"When at 'ome he may content himself with whisky.
But if once he lands upon a foreign shore--
On the Nile or Irrawady--
He forgets his native toddy.
And he takes his 'arf-and-'arf in blood and gore.
Blood and gore.
And he takes his 'arf-and-'arf in blood and gore."
"He's a connoisseur of every foreign vintage.
From the claret of the fat and juicy Boer
To the thicker nigger brand
That he spills upon the sand.
When he draws his 'arf-and-'arf in blood and gore.
Blood and gore.
When he draws his 'arf-and-'arf in blood and gore."
"Fine, isn't it!" exclaimed Sam's neighbor, the captain, who was standing by him, as they all joined in hearty applause. "I tell you Bludyard Stripling ought to be our poet laureate. He's the laureate of the Empire, at any rate. Why, a song like that binds a nation together. You haven't any poet like that, have you?"
"No-o," answered Sam, thinking in shame of Shortfellow, Slowell, and Pittier. "I'm afraid all our poets are old women and don't understand us soldiers."
"Stripling understands everything," said the captain. "He never makes a mistake. He is a universal genius."
"I don't think we ever drink cocktails with a straw," ventured Sam.
"Oh, yes, you must. He never makes a mistake. You may be sure that, before he wrote that, he drank each one of those drinks, one after another."
"Quite likely," whispered Cleary to Sam, as he came up on the other side.
"I wish I could hear it sung in Lunnon," said the captain. "A chorus of duchesses are singing it at one of the biggest music-halls every evening, and then they pass round their coronets, lined with velvet, you know, and take up a collection of I don't know now many thousand pounds for the wounded in South Africa. It stirs my blood every time I hear it sung."
The party broke up at a late hour, and Sam and Cleary walked back together to the hotel.
"Interesting, wasn't it?" said Cleary.
"Yes," said Sam.
"Canon is a good title for that parson, isn't it? He's a fighter. They ought to promote him. 'Bombshell Gleed' would sound better than 'Canon Gleed,'" said Cleary.
"'M," said Sam.
"And that old general looked rather queer in that red and gilt bob-tailed Eton jacket," said Cleary.
"Convenient for spanking, I suppose."
"The captain next to me told me a lot about Bobbets," said Sam. "Wasn't he nearly kidnapped in South Africa?"
"Yes; that comes of sending generals away from home who only weigh ninety-five pounds. We hadn't any such trouble with Laughter. They'd have had to kidnap him with a derrick."
"I never thought of that," said Sam. "Perhaps that's the real reason they selected him. I shouldn't wonder."
"Of course it was," responded Cleary.
"What sort of chap was the one with the V.C. next to you?" asked Sam.
"A fine fellow," said Cleary. "But it does seem queer, when you think of it, to wear a cross like that, that says 'I'm a hero,' just as plain as the beggar's placard says, 'I am blind.'"
"I don't see why," said Sam.
"On the whole I think that a placard would be better," said Cleary. "Everybody would be sure to understand it. 'I performed such and such an heroic action on such and such a day, signed John Smith.' Print it in big letters and then stand around graciously so that people could read it through when they wanted to. I'll get the idea patented when I get home."
"It's a pity we don't give more attention to decorations at home," said Sam. "But I don't quite like the placard idea."
On the following morning the two friends started on their journey up the river toward the Imperial City. They went on a barge filled with soldiers, some of them their own troops who had arrived earlier the same morning. The barge was drawn by ropes pulled by natives, who walked and ran along the banks of the river. It was a day of ever-increasing horrors. All the desolation which they had remarked the day previous was reproduced and accentuated, and as they were so much nearer to the bank, and occasionally took walks on shore, they saw it all more clearly. Sam was much interested in the foreign troops. Their uniforms looked strange and uncouth.
"What funny pill-poxes those are that those Anglian soldiers have stuck to the side of their heads," he said, pointing to two men at Gin-Sin before they set sail.
"Yes," answered Cleary. "They'll put on their helmets when the sun gets higher. They do look queer, tho. Perhaps they think our fellows look queer too."
"I never thought of that," said Sam. "Perhaps they do," and he looked at his fellow-countrymen who were preparing to embark, endeavoring to judge of their appearance as if he had never seen them before. He scrutinized carefully their slouch hats creased in four quarters, their loose, dark-blue jackets, generally unbuttoned, and their easy-going movements.
"Perhaps they do look queer," he said at last. "I never thought of that."
The river was more full of corpses than ever, and there were many to be seen on the shore, all of them of natives. Children were playing and bathing in the shallows, oblivious of the dead around them. Dogs prowled about, sleek and contented, and usually sniffing only at the cadavers, for their appetites were already sated. At one place they saw a father and son lying hand in hand where they had been shot while imploring mercy. A dog was quietly eating the leg of the boy. The natives who pulled the boat along with great difficulty under the hot sun were drawn from all classes, some of them coolies accustomed to hard work, others evidently of the leisure classes who could hardly keep up with the rest. Soldiers were acting as task-masters, and they whipped the men who did not pull with sufficient strength. Now and then a man would try to escape by running, but such deserters were invariably brought down by a bullet in the back. More than once one of the men would fall as they waded along, and be swept off by the current. None of them seemed to know now to swim, but no one paid any attention to their fate. Parties were sent out to bring in other natives to take the place of those who gave out. One of the men thus brought in was paralyzed on one side and carried a crutch. The soldiers made sport of him, snatched the crutch from him, and made him pull as best he could with the rest. Sam, Cleary, and an Anglian officer who had served through the whole war took a long walk together back from the river during the halt at noon. They entered a deserted house, with gables and a tiled roof, which by chance had not been burned. The house had been looted, and such of its contents as were too large to carry away were lying broken to bits about the floor. A nasty smell came from an inner room, and they looked in and saw the whole family--father, mother, and three daughters--lying dead in a row on the floor. A bloody knife was in the hand of the man.
"They probably committed suicide when they saw the soldiers coming," said the Anglian, whose name was Major Brown. "They often do that, and they do quite right. When they don't, the soldiers, and even the officers sometimes, do what they will with the women and then bayonet them afterward. Our people draw the line at that, and so do yours."
"We certainly conduct war most humanely," said Sam.
They heard a groan from another room, and opening the door saw an old woman lying in a pool of blood, quite unconscious.
"I'll put her out of her misery," said the major, and he drew his revolver and shot her through the head.
The journey was a very slow one and occupied three days, altho the natives were kept at work as long as they could stand it, on one day actually tugging at the ropes for twenty-one hours. At last, however, the Imperial City was reached, and our two travelers disembarked and, taking a donkey-cart, gave directions to carry them to the quarter assigned to their own army. Here as everywhere desolation reigned. A string of laden camels showed, however, that trade was beginning to reassert itself. They drove past miles of burned houses, through the massive city walls and beyond, until they saw the welcome signs of a camp over which Old Gory waved supreme. Sam was received with much cordiality by the commandant, General Taffy, and assigned to the command of the 27th Volunteer Infantry. The general was a man well known throughout the army for his courage and ability, but notwithstanding this Sam took a strong prejudice against him, for he seemed to be half-hearted in his work and to disapprove of the prevailing policy of pacification by fire and sword. Sam ascribed this feebleness to the fact that he had been originally appointed to the army from civil life, and that he had not enjoyed the benefits of an East Point education.
As soon as Sam was installed in his new quarters, in the colonel's tent of his regiment, he started out with Cleary to see the great city and examine the scene of the late siege. They found the Jap quarter the most populous. The inhabitants who had fled had returned, and the streets were taking on their normal aspect. Near the boundary of this district they saw a house with a placard in the Jap language, and asked an Anglian soldier who was passing what it meant.
"That's one of the Jap placards to show that the natives who live there are good people who have given no offense," said he.
"Let's go in and pay them a call," said Cleary.
They entered, and passing into a back room found a woman nursing a man who had evidently been recently shot in the side. She shrank from them with terror as they entered, and made no answer to their request for information. As they passed out they met a young native coming in, and they asked him what it meant.
"Some Frank soldiers shot him because he could not give them money. It had all been stolen already," said the lad in pigeon English.
"But the placard says they are loyal people," said Cleary.
"What difference does that make to them?" was the reply.
Farther on in a lonely part of the town they heard cries issuing from the upper window of a house. They were the cries of women, mingled with oaths of men in the Frank language. Suddenly two women jumped out of the window, one after the other, and fell in a bruised mass in the street. Sam and Cleary approached them and saw that they had received a mortal hurt. They were ladies, handsomely dressed. The first impulse of Sam and Cleary was to take charge of them, but seeing two natives approach, they called their attention to the case and walked away.
"I suppose it's best not to get mixed up with the affairs of the other armies," said Sam.
The quarter assigned to the Tutonians they were surprised to find quite deserted by the inhabitants.
"I tell you, those Tutonians know their business," said Sam. "They won't stand any fooling. Just see how they have established peace! We have a lot to learn from them."
They saw a crowd collected in one place.
"What is it?" asked Sam of a soldier.
"They're going to shoot thirty of these damned coolies for jostling soldiers in the street," he answered.
Sam regretted that they had no time to wait and see the execution.
As they reentered their own quarter they saw a number of carts loaded down with all sorts of valuable household effects driven along. They asked one of the native drivers what they were doing, and he replied in pigeon English that they were collecting loot for the Rev. Dr. Amen. Farther on some of their own soldiers were conducting an auction of handsome vases and carved ornaments. Sam watched the sale for a few minutes, and bought in one or two beautiful objects for a song for Marian.
"Where did they get all this stuff?" he asked of a lieutenant.
"Oh, anywhere. Some of it from the houses of foreign residents even. But we don't understand the game as well as old Amen. He's a corker. He's grabbed the house of one of his old native enemies here, an awfully rich chap, and sold him out, and now he's got his converts cleaning out a whole ward. He's collected a big fine for every convert killed and so much extra for every dollar stolen, and he's going to use it all for the propagation of the Gospel. He's as good as a Tutonian, he is."
"I'm glad we have such a man to represent our faith," said Sam.
"He's pretty hard on General Taffy, tho," said the lieutenant. "He says we ought to have the Tutonian mailed fist. Taffy is much too soft, he thinks."
Sam bit his lips. He could not criticize his superior officer before a subaltern, but he was tempted to.
On reaching headquarters Sam found that he was to take charge of a punitive expedition in the North, whose chief object was to be the destruction of native temples, for the purpose of giving the inhabitants a lesson. He was to have command of his own regiment, two companies of cavalry, and a field-battery. They were to set out in two days. He spent the intermediate time in completing the preparations, which had been well under way before his arrival, and in studying the map. No one knew how much opposition he might expect.
It was early in the morning on a hot summer day that the expedition left the Capital. Sam was mounted on a fine bay stallion, and felt that he was entirely in his element.
"What camp is that over there on the left?" he asked his orderly.
"That's the Anglian camp, Sir."
"Are you sure? I can't see their colors. They must have moved their camp."
"Yes, Sir, I'm sure. I passed near there last night and I saw half-a-dozen of the men blacking their officers' boots and singing 'Britons, Britons, never will be slaves!' It must be a tough job too, sir, for everybody's boots are covered with blood. The gutters are running with it."
"I wish we had them with us today," said Sam. "They have done such a lot of burning in South Africa that they could show us the best way."
"Yes, Sir. But then temple-burning is finer work than burning farmhouses, sir."
"That is true," said Sam.
Before night they had visited three deserted towns and burned down the temple in each with its accompanying pagoda. There is something in the hearts of men that responds to great conflagrations, and the whole force soon got into the spirit of it and burned everything they came across. Sam enjoyed himself to the full. His only regret was that there was no enemy to overcome. They camped out at night and continued the same work for several days, all the natives fleeing as soon as they came in sight. At last they reached the famous white temple of Pu-Sing, which was the chief object of religious devotion in the whole province. This was to be absolutely destroyed, notwithstanding its great artistic beauty, and then they were to return to the city in triumph. As they drew near to the building two or three shots were fired from it, and one soldier was wounded in the arm. The usual cursing began, and the men were restive to get at the Porsslanese garrison. Sam ordered the infantry to fire a volley, and then, as the return fire was feeble, he ordered the squadron of cavalry to charge, leading it himself. The natives turned and fled as soon as they saw them coming, and the cavalry, skirting the enclosure of the temple, followed them beyond and cut them down without mercy.
"Give them hell!" cried Sam. "Exterminate the vermin!" and he swore, quite naturally under the circumstances, like a trooper.
Some of the natives fell on their knees and begged for quarter, but it was of no use. Every one was killed. They numbered about two hundred in all. When the horsemen returned to the temple they found the infantry already at work at the task of looting it. Everything of value that could be carried was taken out, and the larger statues and vases were broken to pieces. Then the woodwork was cut away and piled up for firewood, and finally the whole pile set on fire. In all this work the leader was a sergeant of infantry who seemed to have a natural talent for it. Sam had noticed him before at the burning of the other temples, out now he showed himself more conspicuously capable. As the work of piling inflammable material against the walls of polished marble, inlaid with ivory, was nearing completion, Sam sent for this man so that he might thank and congratulate him. The soldier came up, his hands black with charcoal and his face smudged as well.
"You've done well, sergeant," said Sam. "I will mention you to the general when we return."
"Thank you, sir," said the man, and his voice sounded strangely familiar. Sam peered into his face. He had certainly seen it before.
"What is your name, sergeant?"
"Why, of course, you're Thatcher--Josh Thatcher of Slowburgh. Don't you remember that night at the hotel when we had a drink together? Don't you remember Captain Jinks?"
"Yes, sir, but I didn't know you was he--a colonel, too, sir," said the man, as Sam shook his hand warmly.
"I'm glad to see that you're doing credit to your town," said Sam.
"They'll be surprised to hear it at home, sir," said Thatcher. "They was always down on me. They never gave me a chance. Here they all speaks to me like you do, sir. Why, Dr. Amen slapped me on the back and called me a fine fellow when I brought him in a big load of stuff. I got it from houses of people I didn't even know, and he said I was a good fellow. At Slowburgh I took a chicken now and then, and only from somebody who'd done me some mean trick, and they said I was a thief. Once or twice I burned a barn there just for fun, and never anybody's barn that wasn't down on me and rich enough to stand it, and they said I was a criminal. And as for women, if they ever seed me with one, they all said I was dissolute and a disgrace to the place, and here I have ten times more of 'em than I want, and everybody says it's all right, and they made me a corporal and sergeant, and the generals talked to me like I was somebody, and I swear as much as I like. I never shot anybody at home. I suppose they'd have strung me up if I had, and here I just pepper any pigtail I like. They called me a criminal at Slowburgh, just think of that! I say that criminals are just soldiers who ain't got a job--who ain't had any chance at all, I says. I wasn't ever judged right, I wasn't."
There were tears in Thatcher's eyes as he ended this speech.
"You're a fine chap," said Sam. "I'll tell all about you when you get home. This war has been the making of you. How are the other Slowburgh boys?"
"They're all right, except my cousin Tom. He's down sick with something. He's run about a little too much. He always was a-sparking. He never knowed how to take care of himself. Jim Thomson was wounded once, but he's all right now. We've all had fever, but that's over too. But the fire's spreading, sir; we'd better get out of this."
As he spoke a heavy charred beam fell just in front of him, and the end of it came down with its full weight on Sam's leg, snapping the bone in two near the ankle. The foot lay at right angles, and the bone protruded. Several soldiers lifted the log and Thatcher drew Sam out, and they bore him in haste out of the building. He was laid on the ground quite unconscious, at some distance from the temple, while the flames roared and leaped toward heaven, wrapping the graceful, lofty nine-story pagoda in their folds. It was in a beautiful garden that he lay, near a pool filled with lotus flowers and at the end of a rustic bridge. The air was heavy with the perfume of lilies. A surgeon was called, and before long he was able to put the foot in place, but only after sawing off a large piece of bone. A cart was obtained, Sam was laid in it, a bottle of whisky was poured down his throat, and the journey to the city began. The patient on coming to himself experienced no pain. The liquor he had taken made him feel supremely happy. He was in an ecstasy of exultation, and would have liked to embrace all mankind. But gradually this feeling wore off and his leg began to pain him, at first slightly, then more and more until it became excruciating. The road was almost impassable, and every jolt caused him agony. For twelve hours he underwent these tortures until he reached the camp in the city, and was at once transferred to a temporary hospital which had been improvised in a public building. Here he lay for many weeks, suffering much, but gradually regaining the use of his leg. He was in charge of a particularly efficient woman doctor from home who had volunteered to serve with the Red Cross Society. Sam felt most grateful to her for her care, but he strongly disapproved of her attitude to things military. She seemed to have a contempt for the whole military establishment, insisted on calling him "young man," altho he was a colonel, usually addressed lieutenants as "boys," and laughed at uniforms, salutes, and ceremonies of all kinds.
"Men are the silliest things in the world," she said one day. "Do you suppose women would have a War Department that spent a lot of money on bomb-shells to blow people up and then a lot more on Red Cross Societies to piece them together again? Why, we would just leave the soldiers at home, and save all the money, and it would be just the same in the end."
"Not the kind of women I know," said Sam, thinking of Marian.
"I mean my kind of woman," said the doctor. "Do you think we'd sell guns and rifles to the Porsslanese and teach them how to use them, and then go to work and fight them after having armed them?" And she laughed a merry laugh.
"And do you think we'd pay men to invent all sorts of infernal machines like the Barnes torpedo, and then have our big ships blown up by them in time of peace. That is what brought on the whole Castalian and Cubapine war. The idea of praising a man like Barnes! He's been a curse to the world."
"It was really a blessing," said Sam. "It has spread civilization and Christianity all over."
"Well, that's one way of doing it," said she. "But when there are more women like me we'll take things out of the hands of you silly men and run them ourselves. Now, young man, you've talked enough. Turn over and go to sleep."
Cleary called on his friend almost every day and kept him informed. He sent home glowing accounts of Sam as the conqueror of the Great White Temple, and described his sufferings for his country with artistic skill. He also began work on the series of articles which Sam was expected to write for Scribblers' Magazine. His gossip about the events in the various camps entertained Sam very much, altho he was often irritated as well. In his capacity of correspondent Cleary saw and knew everything.
"Sam," said he one day, as the invalid was sitting up in an easy-chair at the window--"Sam, it's so long since I was at East Point that I'm becoming more and more of a civilian. You army people begin to amuse me. There's always something funny about you. The Tutonians are the funniest of all. The little red-cheeked officers with their blond mustaches turned up to their eyes are too funny to live. You feel like kissing them and sending them to bed. And the airs they put on! One of their soldiers happened to elbow a lieutenant the other day, and the chap ran him through with his sword, and no one called him to account. The officers justle and browbeat any civilian who will submit to it, and they try to get him into a duel, but I believe they're a cowardly lot at bottom. No man of real courage would bluster all over the place so."
"I admire their discipline," said Sam.
"And then there's the Franks. They're not quite so conceited, but they're awfully touchy. I think the mustaches measure conceit. The Tutonians' stick up straight, the Franks' stick right out at each side waxed to a point, and ours droop downward."
Sam began to twist his mustache upward, but it would not stay.
"I was in to see a Frank military trial the other day," said Cleary. "It was the most comical thing. There were three big generals on the court. I mean big in rank. They were about four feet high in size, and they kept looking at their mustaches in hand-glasses and combing their hair with pocket-combs. They were trying one of their lieutenants for having sold some secret military plans to a Tutonian attaché. Now the joke of it is that military attaché s are appointed just for the purpose of buying secrets, and everybody knows it. They're licensed to do it. And then when they do just what they're licensed for, everybody makes a fuss. Well, the secrets were sold; there wasn't the slightest reason for thinking this lieutenant had sold them, but they had to punish somebody. They say they drew his name from a box. They had three officers to testify against him, and they were the stupidest liars I ever saw. They just blundered from beginning to end, and the president of the court helped them out and told them what to say, and corrected them. The third man said nothing at all except, 'Yes, my general; yes, my general.' Then they called the witnesses for the accused, and two officers stepped forward, when a couple of orderlies grabbed each of them, stuffed a gag into their mouths, and carried them out, while the court looked the other way, and the crowd shouted, 'Long live the army!' The court adjourned on account of the 'contumacy of the witnesses for the defense.' I went in again the next morning, and they announced that both the witnesses had committed suicide. Then the president took a judgment out of his pocket which I had seen him fingering all the first day, and read it off just as it had been written before the trial began, condemning the poor devil to twenty years' imprisonment. I never saw such a farce. Everybody shouted for the army, and the little generals kissed each other and cried, and they had a great time of it. And the president made a speech in which he said that they had saved the army and consequently the country too, and that honor and glory and the fatherland had been redeemed. They've all been promoted and decorated since. They're a queer lot, those Frank officers."
"We ought not to be too quick in judging foreigners," said Sam. "Their methods may seem strange to us, but we are not competent to criticize them. Let each army judge for itself."
"As a matter of fact," said Cleary, "every army is down on the others. If you believe what they say about each other they're a pretty bad lot. They all say that the Mosconians are barbarians, and they call the Tutonians thugs. The rest of them call the Franks woman hunters, and they all call us and the Anglians auctioneers and looters and shopkeepers and drunkards, and we're known as temple-burners and vandals too."
"What an outrage!" ejaculated Sam.
"The Anglians are more like us, but they've got a few old generals and then a lot of small boys, and nothing much between. I should think the generals would feel like schoolmasters. I told one of their officers that, and he said it was better than having second lieutenants seventy-five years old as we do. We're loving each other a lot just now, the Anglians and us, but one of our naval officers let on to me that they were dying to have a war with them. You see, since South Africa nobody's afraid of them except the Porsslanese, and they don't read the papers. And how the Anglians despise the Franks! Why, we were discussing lying in war at a lunch-party, and one of their generals was there, a rather dense sort of a machine of a man. They had been saying that lying was an essential part of war, and that an officer must be a good liar and able to deceive the enemy well, as well as a good fighter, and the conversation drifted off into the question of lying in general. Somebody asked the general if he would say he was a Tutonian to save his life. 'Of course,' he answered. 'But would you say you were a Frank under the same circumstances?' asked some one else. 'Certainly not,' he said. Everybody roared, but he didn't see any joke, and looked as grave as an owl all the rest of the afternoon. Then the commanders are all so jealous of each other. They are spying on each other and putting sticks in each other's wheels. Officers are queer people. There's only one profession that can compete with them for feline amenities, and that is the actress profession."
"Cleary," said Sam, "I let you talk this way for old acquaintance's sake, but I wouldn't take it from any one else."
"Fiddlestick! You know I'm right. The Anglian officers like to hint at the frauds in our quartermaster's department at Havilla, but I shut them up by asking how much their officers made off the horses they bought for South Africa in Hungary. Then they shut up like a clasp-knife. Officers talk a lot about their 'brother officers' and you'd think they loved each other a lot, but I find they're all glad so many were killed in South Africa because it gives them a lot of promotion. I tell you the officers of all the armies like to have a good list of dead officers after each battle, if they are only their superiors in rank. I've been picking up all I can among the different soldiers, and learning a lot. I was just talking to a lot of Anglian soldiers now. They were sharpening sabers and bayonets on grindstones. One of the older ones was telling me how they used to flog in the army. They had a regular parade, and the drummers used to lay on the lash, while a doctor watched so that they shouldn't go too far. Sometimes the young subalterns who were in command would faint away at the sight.
"'But it was so manly, sir,' the fellow said to me. 'The army isn't what it was. But the other armies keep it up still, and we still birch youngsters in the navy so we needn't despair of the world.'"
"When will the campaign be over?" asked Sam.
"There's no telling. All the armies are afraid to leave, for fear the ones that are left will get some advantage from the Porsslanese Government. They're a high old lot of allies. It's a queer business. But the missionaries are as queer as any of them. You ought to have heard old Amen last Sunday. How he whooped things up! He took his text from the Gospel of St. Loot, I think! He was trying to stir up Taffy to be more severe. Amen ought to be a soldier. Our minister plenipotentiary isn't a backward chap either. I went through the Imperial palace with him and his party the other day, and they pretty nearly cleaned it out, just for souvenirs, you know. He didn't take anything himself, as far as I could see; but his women, bless my soul, they filled their pockets with jade and ivory and what-not. There were some foreign looters in there at the same time, great swells too, and they just smashed the plate-glass over the cabinets and filled their pockets and their arms too. One old Porsslanese official was standing there, a high mandarin of some sort, and he had an emerald necklace around his neck. Some diplomat or other walked up to him and quietly took it off, and the old man didn't stir, but the tears were rolling down his cheeks."
"He had no right to complain," said Sam. "We clearly have the right to the contents of a conquered city by the rules of war."
"Perhaps. But there are some curious war rules. Some of the armies shoot all natives in soldiers' uniforms because they are soldiers, and then they shoot all natives who resist them in civil dress, because they are not soldiers and have no right to fight. I suppose they ought to go about naked. They used to kill their prisoners with the butt-end of their rifles, but that breaks the rifles, and now they generally use the bayonet."
"Here are some newspapers," said he on another occasion. "You've been made a brigadier for capturing Gomaldo. Isn't that great? But they will call you 'Captain Jinks' at home, no matter what your rank is. The papers say so. The song has made it stick."
"I'm sorry for that," said Sam. "It would be pleasanter to be called 'General.'"
"It's all the same," said Cleary. "Wasn't Napoleon called the Little Corporal? It's really more distinguished."
"Perhaps it is," said Sam contentedly.
"Some of the papers criticize us a little too," added Cleary. "They say we are acting brutally here and in the Cubapines. Of course only a few say it, but their number is increasing."
"They make themselves ridiculous," said Sam. "They don't see now ludicrous their suggestions are that we should actually retire and let these countries relapse into barbarism. As that fellow said at Havilla, they have no sense of humor."
"And yet," retorted Cleary, "our greatest humorists, Mark Swain, Mr. Tooley, and the best cartoonists, and our only really humorous paper, Knife, are on that side."
"But they are only humorists," cried Sam, "mere professional jokers. You can't expect serious sense from them. They are mere buffoons. The serious people here, such as Dr. Amen, are with us to a man."
"I saw old Amen get caught the other day," said Cleary. "I was interviewing the colonel of the 15th, and in came Amen and began talking about the Porsslanese--what barbarians they were, no religion, no belief, no faith. Why, the idea of self-sacrifice was utterly unknown to them! Just then in came a young officer and said, 'Colonel, the son of that old native we're going to shoot this afternoon for looting, is bothering us and says he wants to be shot instead of his father. What shall we do with him?' Amen said good-day and cleared out. By the way, the colonel of the 15th is in a hole just now. He was shut up in the legations, you know, and all the women there were down on him because he wouldn't make the sentries salute them when the men were dead tired with watching. They are charging him with cowardice. There'll never be an end of this backbiting. It's almost as sickening as the throat-cutting and stabbing. I confess I'm getting sick of it all. When you see a private shoot an old native for not blacking his boots, when the poor fellow was trying to understand him and couldn't, and smiling as best he could, it's rather tough; and I've seen twenty babies if I've seen one lying in the streets with a bayonet hole in them. They have executions every day in one camp or another. I saw one coolie, who had been working fourteen hours at a stretch loading carts, shot down because he hadn't the strength to go on."
"I'm afraid the heat is telling on you, Cleary," said Sam. "This is all sickly sentimentality. War is war. The trouble with you is that there has been no regular campaign on to occupy your attention. This lying about doing nothing is a bad thing for everybody. Wait till the Tutonian Emperor comes out and we'll have something to do."
"He won't find any enemy to fight," said Cleary.
"Trust him for that," replied Sam. "He's every inch a soldier, and he'll find the way to make war, depend upon it. He's a religious man too, and he will back up the missionaries better than we've done."
"Yes. Amen thinks the world of him. Amen ought to have been a Tutonian soldier. He says the best imagery of religion comes from war. I told him I had an article written about a fight which said that our men 'fought like demons' and 'yelled like fiends,' and I would change it to read that they fought like seraphs and yelled like cherubim, but he didn't think it was funny."
As soon as Sam was well enough to be moved the doctors sent him down to the coast, and Cleary, who had been up and down the river several times in the course of his newspaper work, went with him. Sam still felt feeble, and altho he could walk without a crutch, he now had a decided limp which was sure to be permanent. They arrived at the port a few days before the expected arrival of the Emperor, and the whole place was overflowing with excitement. The Emperor, who had never seen a skirmish, was notwithstanding considered the greatest general of his time, and he was coming now to prove it before the world and incidentally to wreak vengeance upon a people, one of whom had killed his ambassador. The town was profusely decorated, the Tutonian garrison was increased, and Count von Balderdash, the commander-in-chief, himself took command. Six fleets were drawn up in the wide bay to await the coming of the war-lord. It was announced that he would make his entry at night, and that the hour of arrival had been timed for a dark moonless night. This was asserted to be for the better display of fireworks. Finally, one morning the Tutonian fleet of four or five large vessels was sighted in the distance. They steamed slowly up and down in the distance until night fell, and then, as their colored electric lights, outlining the masts and funnels, became distinct in the darkness, they began to approach. Each of the awaiting fleets was distinguished with particular-colored lights, and they had taken their position at a considerable distance from the shore, leaving a passage near the ruined forts for the Emperor. Sam and Cleary found a good lookout on a dismantled bastion, and saw the whole parade. As the leading vessel came near the first fleet the latter saluted with its guns. Suddenly the lights on the advancing ship were extinguished, and a strong flash-light was thrown from above upon the forward deck. There in bold relief stood a single figure, brilliantly illuminated by the light. Cleary and Sam turned their field-glasses upon it.
"By Jove! it's the Emperor," cried Cleary. "He's got on his admiral's uniform, and now he's passing his own fleet that Balderdash brought with him."
They looked at the striking scene for some minutes, and the crowds on the wharves and shores murmured with surprise.
"Bless my soul! he has disappeared," said Cleary again.
Sure enough, he had suddenly passed out of sight, and as suddenly the flash-light went out and the lights on the masts reappeared. In another moment these lights were extinguished, and the flash-light revealed a form standing in the same place in a theatrical attitude with raised sword and uplifted face.
"I believe it's he again," said Cleary. "He must have a trap-door. He's got on another uniform. I think it's a Frank admiral's uniform. There go the Frank guns. He's passing their fleet."
"Yes, it is a Frank naval uniform," said a foreign officer near them, as he scrutinized the deck with his glasses.
Before each of the fleets the same maneuvre was carried out. As their guns fired, the Emperor would disappear for a few moments, and in an incalculably short time he would appear again in the uniform of an admiral of the fleet in question. When he had passed the last fleet he disappeared once more, and came back in sight clad in the white and silver armor of a general officer of his own army, with helmet and plume. The flash-light now changed colors through the whole gamut of the rainbow, and the Emperor knelt in the attitude of Columbus discovering America.
Sam was immensely impressed.
"Oh, Cleary.'" he said, "if we only had an Emperor."
"The President is doing his best," said Cleary. "Don't blame him."
"Oh, but what can he do? Why haven't we some one like that to embody the ideal of the State, to picture us to ourselves, to realize our aspirations?"
As he said this a strange noise arose from the crowd near the landing-stage where the Emperor was about to alight. The far greater part of this crowd was composed of natives, and they had been entirely taken aback by the exhibition. They were just beginning to understand it, and as the war-lord moved about the deck followed by the glare of the flash-light, and again struck an attitude before descending into the gig which was to take him ashore, some one of the Porsslanese in the crowd laughed. His neighbor laughed too, then another and then another, until the whole native multitude was laughing. The laugh rippled along the shore through the long stretch of natives collected there like the swells from a passing steamer. It seemed to extend back from the shore through the whole town, and, tho it was undoubtedly fancy, Sam thought he heard it spreading, like the rings from a stone thrown into the water, over the entire land. The foreigners stood aghast. The Porsslanese are not a laughing people. They had never been known to laugh before except in the most feeble manner. The events of the past year had not been especially humorous, and the coming of the great war-lord was far from being a laughing matter. Yet with the perversity of heathen they had selected this impressive occasion for showing their incurable barbarism and bad taste. Sam fairly shuddered.
"It's a sacrilege," he cried. "I believe that nothing short of extermination will reclaim this unhappy land. They are calling down the vengeance of heaven upon them."
They walked back to town with the foreign officer.
"He's a wonderful man, the Emperor," said he, in indifferent English. "How quickly he changed his clothes, and what a complement it was!"
"A sort of lightning-change artist," said Cleary. "He could make his fortune at a continuous performance."
In the dark Sam blushed for his friend, but fortunately their companion did not understand the allusion.
"You should have seen him when he visited our Queen," he said. "She came to meet him in the uniform of a Tutonian hussar, breeches and all. You can imagine how he was touched by it. That very afternoon he called upon her dressed in the costume of one of our royal princesses with a long satin train. It made him wonderfully popular. Our Queen responded at once by making his infant daughters colonels of several of our regiments. One of them is colonel of mine," he added proudly.
"What would you do if you went to war with Tutonia, and one of the kids should order you to shoot on your own army?" asked Cleary. "It might be embarrassing."
But the foreigner did not understand this either.
"And to think that these Porsslanese dogs have received him with laughter!" said he.
At eleven o'clock on the same evening the Emperor was closeted with his aged field-marshal, von Balderdash, in a handsomely furnished sitting-room. A Turk's head had been set up in the middle of the room, and His Majesty, dressed in the uniform of a cavalry general, was engaged in making passes at it with a saber. He had already taken a ride on horseback with his staff. The field-marshal stood wearily leaning against the wall at the side of a desk piled up with papers.
"We have avenged the death of our ambassador," Balderdash was saying. "We have sent out five punitive expeditions in all. Our quarter of the imperial city shows the power of arms more completely than any other. We have set the highest standard, and our army is the admiration of all."
The count watched the face of his master as he spoke, but there was no sign of satisfaction in it. The Emperor was out of humor.
"We have not done enough," he said. "If we had, those pagans would not have ventured to laugh---yes, actually to laugh--in our imperial presence. Balderdash, you have not done your duty. I shall take command myself at once. We must have a real punitive expedition, and not one of your imitations. If they want war, let them have it."
"We can not have war, Your Majesty, without an enemy, and we can find no enemy. All their armed men are killed or have fled, and the rest of the population run away from us as soon as we appear."
"Count," said the Emperor sternly, "do you remember your oath to our person? Do you know your duties as a field-marshal?"
"I think so, Your Majesty."
"Is it not your duty to provide every requisite for war at my command?"
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"Then I depend upon you to provide an enemy. What military requisite is more important? Remember the fate of Fismark, and do your duty. We must have war. That is what I have come here for, and I do not propose to be disappointed. We must have a punitive expedition at once. What are my engagements for tomorrow?"
"Your Majesty's mustache artist is coming at 5:30," replied the count, looking at a memorandum. "Breakfast at 6--inspection of infantry at 6:30--naval maneuvres at 8--reception of our officers at 10:30--reception of foreign officers at 11:30--reception of civilians at 12--luncheon at 12:30--photographer from 1 to 3. We have made no appointments after 3, Your Majesty."
"Then put down the punitive expedition for 3:15," said the war lord, twisting his mustache in front of his eyes. "I propose to have this whole nation kow-tow before me in unison before I leave their miserable land. Take the necessary measures at once for the ceremony. Now I am going to call out the whole garrison and see if they are kept in readiness. You may go, and send me an aide-de-camp. You understand that you must find me an enemy on whom I can wreak vengeance for all these wrongs."
"I understand, Your Majesty," said the count, bending low before him. "I accept this Gospel of Your Majesty's most blessed Person," and he took his leave.
The expedition did not start promptly at 3:15, for unexpected complications arose. The other powers wanted to send out punitive expeditions too, and they sought to have it established that the Porsslanese laugh was directed against all the fleets as well as against the Emperor. A judicious distribution of decorations persuaded all the armies to drop this pretension except the Anglian, and it was finally arranged that the Tutonian and Anglian armies should cooperate and take the field together under the Emperor's immediate command. A week had elapsed before this force was prepared, but it finally started out, General Fawlorn commanding the Anglian contingent.
Sam, who was still only convalescent and who had been assigned some duties connected with forwarding despatches which left him a great deal of leisure, looked with envious eyes upon the departing host. He had never seen anything like the magnificence of the uniforms of the Emperor's staff. He envied them their gilt and stars, and he envied them the prospect of winning the great battles which Balderdash had promised them. They marched at once upon a fortified town in which a large force of Fencers were reported to be established. They besieged it for six days according to all the rules of the Tutonian manual, and finally entered it with great precautions, and found it absolutely empty. At one village a regiment of Anglian Asiatics cut to pieces a hundred natives who were alleged to be Fencers, but it transpired afterward that none of them were armed. Balderdash was frightened half to death, expecting his imperial master to protest against the lack of opposition, but, strange to say, he took it very well and delivered orations on all occasions extolling the prowess of his troops in putting to flight the hordes of a vast empire. This campaign lasted a month, and the expedition finally returned to the port and was received with all the marks of glory that Tutonian officialism could command. The Emperor at once cabled to several kings and all his relations that Providence had graciously preserved him in the midst of great dangers and brought his enterprise to a successful termination.
"They may be great soldiers," said Cleary one day to Sam, "but they don't understand the newspaper business. The Emperor has a natural talent for advertising, but it hasn't been properly cultivated. They oughtn't to have let it leak out that there wasn't even a battle. Why, Taffy says he could go from one end of the Empire to the other with a squadron of cavalry! As for me, I shouldn't mind trying it without the cavalry. When they did kill any people, it was like killing pheasants at one of his famous battues. I wonder he wasn't photographed in the middle of a pile of them, the way he is when he goes shooting at home. Perhaps he'll get up some sport here in a big hen-coop. I'll suggest it to Balderdash."
Sam refused to think ill of the great war-lord, and embraced every opportunity to see him. He had been formally presented to him at a reception of officers, but there was a crowd present, and Sam did not expect him to recognize him again. On one occasion Sam happened to be standing in the street when the Emperor, accompanied by some of his officers, came past on foot. Sam stood on one side and saluted. To his surprise the Emperor stopped and beckoned to him. Sam came forward, bowing, blushing, and stammering.
"I am glad to see an officer of your country here, General," said His Majesty. "May I ask your name? Ah, Jinks! I have heard your name before. What do you think of expansion, General?"
"I beg Your Majesty's pardon," said Sam, "but I do not think. I obey orders."
The Emperor gave an exclamation of surprise and delight.
"Hear that, gentlemen," said he in his own language, turning to his officers. "He does not think; he obeys orders! There is a model for you. There is a motto for you to learn. God has given you an Emperor to think for you. Our friend here, with only a President to fall back on, has perceived the truth that a soldier must not think. He thinks at his peril. General," he added in English, "you have given my army a lesson today which they will never forget. It will give me pleasure to decorate you with the Green Cockatoo, third class."
Sam began to stammer something.
"Oh, yes, I remember. Your Government does not allow you to receive it. If that restriction is ever removed, let me be informed," and the Emperor passed on, while Sam determined to write to his uncle and have this miserable civilian law changed. It so happened that there was a great dearth of news at this time, and Cleary made the most of this episode. It did almost as much to make General Jinks famous as anything that he had done before, and he was widely advertised at home as the officer who had astounded the Emperor by his wisdom and given a lesson to the finest army in the world.
"Sam, your luck never gives out," said Cleary. "They'll make you a major-general, I expect, now."
"I should rather like to have the thanks of Congress," answered Sam, as if that were a mere bagatelle. This conversation occurred in a restaurant. A young officer was sitting alone at the next table, and he gave his order to the waiter in a high, penetrating voice.
"Bless my soul! if that isn't Clark," cried Cleary. "See, he's a second lieutenant still. Let's ask him over to our table."
"Go ahead," said Sam, "but don't say anything about East Point."
Cleary invited him over as a fellow countryman, and the three men dined together, never once saying anything to denote that they had met before. Whether Clark noticed that Cleary was rather persistent in offering him the red pepper for every course, it was impossible to determine.
It was generally supposed that the Emperor had done all that could be done in Porsslania, but those who believed this, knew little of the resources of the first soldier of Christendom. Even Count von Balderdash was ignorant of the card which his master had determined to play in view of all mankind.
"Balderdash," said he one night, as the poor count sat trying to repress his yawns and longing for bed,--"Balderdash, we have shown the heathen here what we can do. We have exacted vengeance from them. Now I wish to show to the civilized world, and especially to their armies here, that we have the best army, the best discipline, the greatest power on earth, and the bravest Christians in our ranks. I have not told you yet what I propose to do, but the time has come to go ahead with it. In our vessel, the Eagle, which we brought with us, there are confined thirty persons convicted at home of the frightful crime of lese-majesty, a crime which shows that the criminal is atheistic, anarchistic, and unfit to live. I had them selected among those who have near relations here in the army. They all have either sons, brothers, or fathers enlisted here. Of course at home our wretched parliamentary system would make it inadvisable to have them executed. Here there is no such difficulty. You have often heard me at the annual swearing in of recruits tell them that they are now my children and must do what I say, even if I should order them to shoot down their own parents. I wish to show the world that this is so, and that my soldiers believe it and will act upon it. Such an army will inspire terror indeed. Most of the prisoners are men, but I have included among them two or three of the most abandoned women, who have been imprisoned for criticizing my sacred person. You approve of my plan?"
"I approve of all that Your Majesty ever suggests."
"Of course it makes no difference whether you do or not, but I wish you to have the prisoners brought ashore. You must seek out their relatives among the troops, but do not let them know why. Then fix the execution for some day next week, and have a general parade of all the troops on that occasion."
The Emperor's secret was well kept, and, except that a special parade was to be held, no one knew what the object was. A glittering array of soldiers met the war-lord's eyes when he entered the public square where the army was drawn up. In pursuance of his orders the enlisted men who were related to the prisoners were alined in front of the center with a captain in command of them. The Emperor directed his horse to the spot and addressed the whole army, applying his remarks particularly, however, to the detail immediately before him.
"My children," said he, "when you took the oath of allegiance as my soldiers you became members of my family, and it became your solemn duty to do my bidding, whatever that bidding might be. My word became for you the Word of God. You gave your consciences into my keeping, knowing that God had commissioned me to relieve you of that responsibility. From that moment it was your aim to become perfect soldiers, with your minds and consciences deposited in my hands for safe-keeping. From that day forth you no longer had minds nor consciences--your whole duty was summed up in the obligation to obey orders. That is the soldier's only duty. And I know, my children, that you are perfect soldiers and that you stand ever ready to do that duty. Soldiers in other armies may occasionally forget their calling and indulge in the forbidden fruits of reason and conscience, but the Tutonian soldier never! We all know this. For us no proof is necessary. But I wish to demonstrate the fact to the world. I have brought over with me across the sea certain of your relations who have been guilty of the unparalleled crime of lese-majesty. I have determined that they deserve death, and that you shall carry out the execution. I have so arranged it that each of the condemned shall be shot by his nearest relation, be it father, son, or brother. You will show the world that you are ready, nay, proud to carry out these my commands. I congratulate you on being selected for this noble and patriotic task. You are now before the footlights at the center of the world's stage. Remember that the eyes of all mankind are upon you and that you are my children. Field-marshal, carry out my orders!"
Count von Balderdash gave some orders in an undertone; the troops opened on the left, and disclosed a row of prisoners, including several women, standing bound and blindfolded against a wall, each one at a distance of several yards from his neighbor. The captain ordered the detail into position, gave the necessary orders to load, aim, and fire, and the condemned men and women fell to the ground, each one pierced by the bullet of his or her near relation.
The great concourse, composed largely of soldiers of the various foreign armies (for most of them had now been withdrawn from the Capital and Gin-Sin), looked on with wonder at this spectacle. Sam, who was standing with the inventor Cope, scanned the faces of the executioners with care, and was unable to detect the slightest sign of emotion in them. They had not been prepared in the least for the ordeal; they did not even know that their relations had been brought from home, and yet they did their duty as soldiers without changing the stolid expression of their faces.
"Wonderful, wonderful!" he said to Cope. "These are indeed perfect soldiers. Why, they move like clockwork, like marvelous machines. And what a remarkable man the Emperor is--without question the first soldier of his time and of all time. Was there ever anything like it?"
"Never," answered the inventor.
Sam walked back to his lodgings alone. He wished to think, and purposely avoided company. He did not notice the soldiers in the streets, nor the natives in their round, pointed straw hats. He ran into a man carrying water in two buckets hung from the ends of a pole balanced on his shoulders, and nearly upset his load. He started back and collided with a native woman with a baby tied to her back. When he reached his house, he sat down in an easy-chair in his bedroom and thought and thought and thought. For some hours his mind was filled with unmixed admiration for the Emperor and his army. He felt like an artist who had just seen a new masterpiece that surpassed all the achievements of the ages, or a musician who had listened to a new symphony that summed up and transcended all that had every gone before. Again and again he pictured to himself the great war-lord in his helmet and white plume, explaining so eloquently and admirably the duties of a soldier, and then his soldiers obeying his orders as if their service were a religion to them, as indeed it was. It grew dark, but Sam did not heed the darkness. Dinner-time came and went, but he was in a region far above such vulgar bodily needs.
"Oh, if we only had an emperor," he thought,--"and such an emperor! Why was I not born a Tutonian?"
This was an unpatriotic thought, and Sam was ashamed of it. Yet it was true, he would gladly have found himself one of His Majesty's subjects and a member of his incomparable army. Then he recalled his memorable interview with the Emperor, and rejoiced in the remembrance that he had deserved and received his commendation. He tried to imagine how it would feel to be one of his officers, or even one of his privates. If he had been selected as one of the squad to show the perfection of their discipline, how gladly he would have taken his place in line with the rest! He would have obeyed without flinching, he was sure of it. He put himself in the place of one of the squad. He is ordered to take his position opposite one of the condemned. He looks and sees that it is his Uncle George. Would he obey the order to shoot? Most certainly. The musket goes off and his uncle falls. He goes through the list of his friends and relations. He does not quite like to shoot the girls, but he does it. It is his duty. His commander-in-chief, who represents his Creator, has ordered it. He can rely implicitly on his wisdom. Then he thinks of Cleary. Yes, he would shoot Cleary down without hesitation. And then comes the turn of his father and mother. He has no trouble with the former, for he is sure that his father as a man must understand his feelings, and he sees a smile of approval on his face as he, too, falls prostrate. With his mother it is more difficult. There had not been much sympathy between them in recent years, yet he recalled his early boyhood on the farm, and it went against him to aim his piece at her. But after all it was his duty, and with an inaudible sigh he pulled the trigger. It was done. No one could have noticed his reluctance. It was quite likely that some of the soldiers that afternoon felt as much compunction as that. But as Sam went over all this long list of tests and passed them successfully, he felt, almost unconsciously, that he was coming to a precipice. His sense of happiness had left him, and he began to dread the end of his cogitations. There was a trial in store that he was afraid of facing. In order to postpone it he went over all his friends and relations again, and added mere acquaintances to the list. He busied himself in this way for an hour or two, but at last the final question forced itself upon him and insisted upon an answer. Would he be willing to shoot Marian under orders? It was with misgivings that he began to imagine this episode. As before, he marched to his place and lifted his rifle to aim. He sees before him the figure which had been haunting his dreams ever since he left East Point. She is bound; a handkerchief is tied over her eyes, but he sees the mouth and longs to kiss it. He has a strong impulse to run forward and throw his arms around her. The command "Fire!" is given, but--he does not shoot. He can not. He has disobeyed orders! He, the man whose one aim in life has been to become a perfect soldier, who only just now was considering himself fit to be a soldier of the war-lord, had disobeyed orders; he had shown himself a mutineer, a deserter, a traitor; he had lost his patriotism and loyalty; he had dishonored the flag; he had trampled under foot all the gods that he had worshiped now for many years. He had flatly broken the only code of morals that he knew--he was a coward, a hypocrite, a mere civilian, masquerading in the uniform of an officer! Sam buried his face in his hands and the tears trickled down through his fingers. Then he sprang up and walked to and fro for a long time. At last he took Marian's photograph from his pocket and put it on his dressing-table. He must be a man. He must hold true to his faith. He screwed up his courage and went through the forms of the afternoon in his room dimly lighted by lanterns in the street. He stood up in the line before the Emperor, and again listened to his inspiring speech. Now he felt sure that he would not fail. He placed himself opposite the photograph when the order was given. He raised an imaginary gun and aimed with assurance--but just then his eye fell upon the face which he could barely distinguish. He saw Marian again as she had been when he bade her farewell. True, she was as much a believer in the military scheme of life as he was, but he knew by instinct that she would draw the line somewhere. She was not created to be a martyr to her faith. The order "Fire!" came, but Sam, instead of obeying, threw down his musket and ran forward, seized the photograph and kissed it. He looked up, half expecting to see a crowd of spectators eying him with derision. He cast himself upon his bed with his clothes on and tossed about for a long time, until at last sleep came to his relief.
When he awoke in the morning the sun had long been up. In the first moments of waking and before he opened his eyes, he could not recall what it was that was troubling him. Suddenly the whole situation came back to him, tenfold clearer than before. He saw at once beyond all possibility of contradiction that he could not shoot Marian, no matter who ordered him to do it; that for him the ideal of a perfect soldier was altogether unattainable, and that he was obliged to admit to himself that his entire life was a failure. The public might praise and acclaim him, but he was essentially a fraud and could never secure his own approval.
When Sam got up and began to undress to take his bath, his head swam so that he was obliged to lie down again. He tried again two or three times, but always with the same result, and finally he rang for a servant and sent for an army surgeon. The doctor came at once, took his temperature with a thermometer, and, after examining him, pronounced that he had a bad attack of fever, probably typhoid. He advised him to go to the hospital, and before noon Sam found himself comfortably installed in a hospital bed, screened off by a movable partition from a ward of fever patients. The doctor's surmise proved to be correct, and for weeks he was dangerously ill, much of the time being delirious. He suffered once or twice also from relapses, and showed very little recuperative force when the fever finally left him. Meanwhile he was very low-spirited. The idea preyed upon his mind that he was no soldier and could never be one, and he felt that the resulting depression had a great deal to do with his protracted illness. Cleary was assiduous in his attentions, but, intimate as they were, Sam could never bring himself to confess his culpable weakness to him. As he became convalescent he had other visitors, and among them Mr. Cope, the inventor of explosives and artillery.
"I am at work at a great invention which I shall owe partly to you and partly to the Emperor," said he on one occasion. "Do you remember that at that execution the Emperor said that the perfect soldier has no conscience or reason?" Sam winced. "And then you called my attention to the fact that the men performed their part like machines. That set me thinking. I am always on the lookout for suggestions, and there was one ready-made. Do you see? Why shouldn't a machine be made to take the place of a soldier? A great idea, isn't it? Now you see we've already done something in that line. A torpedo is simply an iron soldier that swims under water and needs no breath, and does as he is told. Think how absurd it is in battle to have a field-battery come up under fire at a gallop! They swing round, unlimber, load, and fire, then harness again, swing round again, and off they are. Meanwhile perhaps half the men and horses have been killed. Wouldn't it be better to have the whole battery a machine, instead of only the guns? The general could stay behind out of range, as he does today, and direct the whole thing with an electric battery and a telescope. It is not a difficult matter when you once accept the principle, and the principle can be extended to cavalry and infantry just as well. It will be a great thing for the nations that are best at mechanics, and that means you and us."
"I don't see," said Sam, "how you can get on without the courage of brave men."
"Courage! Why, what is more courageous than a piece of steel? It wouldn't be easy to frighten it. And it is just so with all soldierly qualities. Do you want obedience? What is more obedient than a machine? I suppose you admit that a human soldier may disobey orders sometimes."
"Perhaps," said Sam, blushing uneasily.
"You may be sure that a steel soldier won't unless he is disabled, and a human soldier may be disabled too. Then the Emperor said a soldier should not reason. There's no danger of a steel soldier trying that.
"Theirs not to reason why.
Theirs but to do and die."
"Why, the Light Brigade at Balaklava won't be in it with them. And it's just the same with regard to conscience. A piece of steel has no conscience. What we want is a machine soldier. A soldier must be obedient, and he must be without fear, conscience, or a mind of his own. In all these respects a machine can surpass a man. Why, you yourself, in praising those Tutonian soldiers, said that they went like clockwork. That's the highest military praise possible."
Sam was much disturbed by this conversation. Mr. Cope went on to tell how his Government had spent £23,000 to fire a single shot and test one of his new projectiles, but Sam was not interested. Then the inventor began to rally him about the lack of interest of soldiers in the inventions which they used.
"If you had had to depend on yourselves for inventions," he said, "you would still be fighting with cross-bows, or perhaps more likely with your teeth and finger-nails. No soldier ever invented anything. We inventors are the real military men."
At last Sam's unconscious tormentor took his departure, and the invalid rang for the hospital orderly so that he might tell him not to let him in again. To his surprise a new orderly appeared, a negro whose face was strangely familiar.
"What is it, sah?" he said.
"Is that you, Mose?" cried Sam. "Why, it's almost as good as being at home again."
"Bress my soul, Massa Jinks--I mean General, have you been a-hurtin' yourself again?" and the man chuckled to himself till his whole body shook. Under Mose's care Sam made more rapid progress and soon was able to go out in a sedan-chair, borne by three men, like a mandarin. The winter passed away and spring was about to set in. There was no prospect of active service in Porsslania, the Powers being unable to agree upon any policy. The Emperor had already gone home, and the various armies were much reduced in strength. Cleary had been ordered to return by his newspaper, and had taken passage in a passenger steamer for the first of May.
"Why can't you come with me?" he said to Sam. "You're entitled to a leave of absence, and when you get to Whoppington you can apply for some other berth."
Sam followed this wise advice and obtained a furlough of three months, and on the day fixed for sailing they embarked for home.
Sam was still an invalid, but the voyage did him a great deal of good, and before they had been a week at sea he began to look quite like his old self. There were few passengers who interested him, but he became acquainted with one man of note, a Porsslanese literatus, who was attached to the legation at Whoppington, and sat on the other side of the captain of the steamer at meals. This gentleman, who bore the name of Chung Tu, was greatly interested in military matters and listened to Sam's accounts by the hour. The night before their arrival at St. Kisco, the regular dinner was, as usual, converted into a banquet, and a band was improvised for the occasion. At the close of dinner the martial hymns of all nations were played, ending with "Yankee Doodle." It was impossible to resist the impulse to laugh as this national jig brought up the rear, and Sam was much displeased that the foreigners on board, and there were many, should have laughed at his country. When he went up on deck he found Cleary conversing with Chung Tu, and he placed his steamer-chair beside theirs and joined the conversation.
"It's a great pity," said he, "that we have such a national air as 'Yankee Doodle.' It holds us up to ridicule."
"Do you think so?" answered Chung Tu, who spoke English perfectly. "That depends upon the point of view. You see you take the military point of view. We Porsslanese are not a military nation. We do not think much of armies. We do not try to spread our territory by force, and we never encroach on our neighbors' land, altho we are really overcrowded. Perhaps that is the reason people dislike us. We are not much of an empire either. We have very little central authority, and only a handful of officials. We have free speech, and even the Emperor can be freely criticized without fear. We have no conscription, and no one need carry a passport, as they have to in some countries. We are almost a democracy. We have no exclusive hereditary rank. Any one may become a mandarin if he learns enough to deserve it. We only wanted to be left alone without armies, and we did not want to buy guns and ships. That is all. We are almost a democracy, and that is the reason that I have always studied your history with care. I have studied your state papers and your hymns. I have made a special study of them, and I have come to the opposite conclusion from you as to 'Yankee Doodle.' It seems to me to be the work of a great poet and prophet."
"What do you mean?" asked Sam.
"Let us consider it seriously," said Chung Tu. "Have you a copy of it?"
"No," said Sam, laughing.
"Then please repeat it for us, and I will write it down."
Sam began to recite, but he found it difficult to keep his face straight:
"Yankee Doodle went to town.
Riding on a pony.
He stuck a feather in his crown
And called him macaroni."
"That is not my version," said the attaché, pulling a piece of paper from the pocket of his silk jacket. "Here is mine," and he read it solemnly and with emphasis:
"Yankee Doodle came to town.
A-riding on a pony.
He stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni."
Which reading is correct?" he asked of Cleary.
"I'm sure I don't know," said Cleary, laughing.
"How careless you are of your country's literature! In Porsslania we would carefully guard the sayings of our ancestors and preserve them from alteration. You have what you call the 'higher criticism.' You should direct it to the correction of this most important poem. I have studied the matter as carefully and accurately as a foreigner can, and I am satisfied that my version is the most authentic. Come now, let us study it. Take the first two lines:
"Yankee Doodle came to town.
A-riding on a pony."
There is nothing difficult in that. You may say that the name is a strange one, and I admit that 'Doodle' is a curious surname, but 'Yang Kee' is a perfectly reasonable one from a Porsslanese point of view, and leads me to suppose that the wisdom contained in this poem came originally from our wise men. Perhaps the name is put there as an indication of the fact. However, let us accept the name. The hero came to town riding on a pony. That was a very sensible thing to do. Remember that those lines were written long before the discovery of railways or tram-cars or bicycles or automobiles. You may say that he might have taken a carriage or one of your buggies, but you forget that the roads were exceedingly bad in those days, as bad as our roads near the Imperial City, and it would have been dangerous perhaps to attempt the journey in a vehicle of any kind. In riding to town on a pony, then, he was acting like a rational man. But let us read the rest of the verse:
"He stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni."
For some reason or other which is not revealed, he puts a feather in his cap, and immediately he begins to act irrationally and to use language so absurd that the reading itself has become doubtful. What is the meaning of this? A man whose conduct has always been reasonable and unexceptionable, suddenly adopts the language of a lunatic. What does it mean? You have sung this verse for a century and more, and you have never taken the trouble to seek for the meaning."
Sam and Cleary did not attempt to defend their neglect.
"It is clear to me," proceeded the philosopher, "it is very clear to me that it is an allegory. What is the feather which he puts in his cap? It is the most conspicuous feature of the military uniform, the plume, the pompon, which marks all kinds of military dress-hats. When he speaks of his hero as having assumed the feather, he means that he has donned the uniform of a soldier. He has come to town, in other words, to enlist. Then behold the transformation! He begins at once to act irrationally. The whole epic paints in never-fading colors the disastrous effect upon the intellect of putting on soldier-clothes. You will pardon me, my friends, if I speak thus plainly, but I must open to you the hidden wisdom of your own country."
Sam smiled. The idea of taking offense at any nonsense which an ignorant pagan should say was quite beneath him.
"But that is not all. The style of the language and of the music is most noteworthy. It is highly comical, and its object evidently is to provoke a laugh, and at dinner this evening we saw that its object was attained. All the other martial hymns to which we listened were grave, ponderous compositions from which the element of humor was rigidly excluded. It was left for the author of 'Yang Kee' to uncover the ludicrous character of militarism--he has virtually committed your nation to it. He was a genius of marvelous insight. He saw clearly then what but few of your fellow citizens are even now aware of, that there is nothing more comical than a soldier. I am convinced that he was a Porsslanese who had the good fortune to sow in your literature the seed of truth. You think that as a nation you have a sense of humor. I have studied your humorous literature. You laugh at mothers-in-law and messenger-boys and domestic servants, and many other objects which are altogether serious and have no element of humor in them, and at the same time you are blind to the most absurd of spectacles, the man who dresses up in feathers and gold lace and thinks it is honorable to do nothing for years but wait for a pretext to kill somebody," and Chung Tu leaned back in his chair and smiled.
"It is we who have the sense of humor," he added. "When our common people laughed at the Emperor in his uniforms, they showed the same sound sense that appears in 'Yang Kee.' I thank you, my dear friends, for listening to me so kindly and without anger, but I hope to preach these ideas to your people, and as I take my text from your national hymn, they must listen to me. Then there is another common expression among you which shows, as so many proverbs do, the fundamental truth. When a story is incredible you say 'Tell that to the marines,' signifying that only a marine would be stupid enough to believe it. Now what is a marine? As the Anglian poet says, he is 'soldier and sailor too,' in other words, he epitomizes the army and navy. It is the military man who is foolish enough to believe anything and who keeps alive the most absurd superstitions and customs. The ancient Greeks cast a side-light on this truth, for their word for private soldier was 'idiot.' And on account of this strange stupidity of soldiers, things that would be disgraceful in private life become glorious in war. Their one virtue is obedience, unqualified by any of the balancing virtues, and they wear liveries to show that they are servile. And then the foolish things they try to do! You are familiar with the Peace Conference--generals and admirals spending weeks in uniform with swords at their sides to determine how to stop fighting, as if there were anything to do but to stop! I believe they had the grace to turn the war pictures in the conference room to the wall. But fancy sending butchers to a conference in the interests of vegetarianism! Of course nothing was done or could be done there. And the Emperor in his uniform, drunk with militarism, wanted us--all our nation--wanted me---to kow-tow before him as if he were a god! But he did not get what he wanted from us. His own people may grovel before him, but we will not. Oh, these soldiers, these soldiers! You look down on your hangmen and butchers. We look down on our men-butchers, the soldiers, in the same way. We have soldiers just as you have police, but it is a low calling with us, and most people would be ashamed to have a soldier in the family. Pardon me, my dear sirs. Perhaps I have spoken too plainly. I mean nothing personal, but when I think of these wars, I can not control my tongue. Good-night."
So saying, the attaché gathered up his robes and went below.
"Queer chap," said Sam. "He must be crazy."
"We've treated them rather badly, tho," said Cleary. "I'm glad Taffy hasn't had any executions, but our minister and all the rest have been insisting on executions of their big people, and no one talks of executing any of ours, altho they have suffered ten times as much as we have."
"You forget how the affair began," said Sam. "Suppose the Porsslanese had sent us missionaries to teach us their religion, and these missionaries had gradually got possession of land and also some local power of governing, and then we had ruthlessly murdered some of them and they had seized all our ports for the purpose of benefiting us, do you suppose that we would have risen like those miserable Fencers and massacred anybody? It is inconceivable. They have the strangest aversion to foreigners too."
"Some of them haven't," said Clearly. "Chung Tu is a friendly old soul, if he is cracked. He says he believes the Powers have been turned loose on his country to punish them for having invented gunpowder. He laughs at Cope's inventions. He says his people set the fashion, and then wisely stopped when they found that such inventions did more harm than good. I think they have a right to complain of us. Why, there's one of our soldiers in the steerage with seventeen of their pigtails with the scalps still fastened to them as trophies! Old Chung says our ribbons and decorations are the equivalent of the scalps dangling at a savage's belt. I didn't tell him we had the genuine article. But, come, you had better turn in. You'll have a hard day tomorrow. I've advertised your coming for all I was worth, and if they don't give you a send-off at St. Kisco, it isn't my fault. I'm glad you're well enough to stand it."
"I'm not as well as I look," said Sam. "I've lost all my nerve. I'm even worrying a little about all my loot in those cases in the hold. It sometimes seems that I oughtn't to have taken it."
"What!" cried Cleary. "Well, you are getting squeamish! After all the fellows you've killed or had killed, I shouldn't mind an ornament or two."
"Killing is a soldier's main business," said Sam. "Oh, well, I suppose looting is, too. I won't think anything more about it. Good-night."
While Sam and his friend were conversing on deck, another conversation which was to have a portentous effect upon the former's destiny was taking place in the upper corridor of the Peckham Young Ladies' Seminary at St. Kisco.
"He's perfectly lovely," said a young lady, standing barefoot before her door in her night-dress to a group of young ladies similarly attired. "I've got his photograph. And I'm not just going to stand still and see him pass. It's all very well to have the school drawn up in line on the wharf--that's better than nothing--but I want something more, and I'm going to have it."
"What will you do, Sally?" they all cried.
"I'm going to kiss him--there!" said she.
"Yes, I will too."
"I believe she will if she says so," said one of the girls. "She won't stop at anything. Well, Sally Watson, if you kiss him, I will to."
"And I! And I!" exclaimed the others; but at that moment a step was heard on the stairs, and the Peckham young ladies sought their beds and pretended very hard to be asleep, altho their hearts were thumping against their ribs at the mere thought of their daring resolution.
It was ten o'clock the next morning that the steamer came alongside the wharf. The city was in gala dress and flags waved everywhere. The day was observed almost as a holiday, and many schools permitted their pupils to take part in the procession which awaited the arrival of Captain Jinks, as Sam was now commonly known in his native land. A reception was arranged for him at the City Hall, and the Mayor came down to the steamer in a carriage with four horses to escort him thither. From the deck Sam could see a banner stretched across the street, on which was an inscription to the "Hero of San Diego, the Subduer of the Moritos, the Capturer of Gomaldo, the Conqueror of the Great White Temple, and the Friend and Instructor of the Emperor." A few months before, Sam would have enjoyed this display without alloy, but now his health was really shattered, and in the bottom of his heart he felt that he was unworthy of it all, for he was not the perfect soldier he had believed he was, and under his uniform beat the heart of a vulgar civilian. His military instincts had their limit; his obedience could only be relied upon under certain circumstances. He was a mere amateur, and had no claim to rank as a military hero at all.
A swarm of reporters settled down upon General Jinks as soon as they could get on board, insisting upon having his opinion as to the growth of the city since he had seen it, the superiority of its climate to that of any part of the world, and the beauty of its women. Sam answered all these questions satisfactorily, and surrendered himself to the committee of citizens who had come on deck to welcome him. His luggage was passed without delay by the Custom House officials, and he was conducted down the wharf toward the carriage which awaited him. With true chivalry young ladies' schools had been given the best positions on the wharf, and Sam soon found himself passing through the double row of pretty girls. He could hear such remarks as this:
"Isn't he good-looking!"
"What a lovely uniform!"
"Hasn't he got a fascinating limp!"
"How pale he is!"
"He does look just like a hero."
Sam flushed slightly at these comments, but suddenly, before he had time to collect his thoughts, a slight form sprang forward from the left and an inviting face presented itself to his, and with the words, "May I, please?" a hearty kiss was planted on his lips. Sam had no time to decline, if he had wished to. A murmur of surprise and delight arose from the crowd, and in another moment another damsel rushed upon nim, and then another and another. Before long he was the center of a throng of elbowing young ladies of all kinds, fair, plain, and indifferent, all bent upon giving him a kiss. Sam had indeed lost his nerve; for the first time in his life he capitulated absolutely and let the attacking party work its sweet will. It was with great difficulty that he was rescued by the reception committee and finally seated next to the Mayor in the landau.
"What a lot of cab-drivers you have there on the wharf!" said Sam to the Mayor, after their first greetings. "I never saw so many. Hear them crying out to the passengers coming ashore!"
"They're not cab-drivers," he answered. "They're pension agents. They're not crying 'Want a cab?' but 'Want a pension?'"
"So they are," said Sam. "What is that tune the young ladies are beginning to sing?"
"Don't you know?" said the Mayor, laughing. "It's 'Captain Jinks.' You'll know it well enough before you are here long. Listen."
Sam listened and heard sung for the first time lines that were to be imprinted upon his tympanum until they became a torture:
"I'm Captain Jinks of the Cubapines.
The pink of human war-machines.
Who teaches emperors, kings, and queens
The way to run an army."
The news of the kissing reached the City Hall before the procession, and when he alighted there Sam had to kiss an immense number of women who were determined not to be outdone by their sisters at the wharf, while the whole crowd sang "Captain Jinks" in a frenzy of enthusiasm. The reception accorded to Sam at St. Kisco was so elaborate, and the arrangements made to do him honor were so extended, that he was obliged to stay there for several days. Meanwhile the news of his arrival and of his gallantry in kissing his countrywomen, young and old, spread all over the land and took hold of the popular imagination. Invitations to visit various cities on his way across the Continent began to come in, and everywhere Sam was acclaimed as the hero and idol of the people.
"It's great, it's great, old man!" cried Cleary. "Why, that kissing business is worth a dozen victories! The people here say that no general or admiral has had such a send-off in St. Kisco. Look at today's papers! Thirteen places have petitioned to have their post-offices named after you. There will be Jinksvilles and Jinkstowns everywhere, and one is called Samjinks. Then they're naming their babies after you like wildfire. Samuela is becoming a common girl's name, and one chap has called his girl Samjinksina. All the girls are practising the Jinks limp, too. I saw one huge picture of you painted on the dead side of a house. It was an ad. of the 'Captain Jinks 5-cent Cigar.' That's the limit of a man's ambition, I should say. And now they're beginning to nominate you for President. I'm going to try to work that up. I'm sending a despatch to The Lyre this morning. If they take it up, we can put it through. The Republicrats hold their convention at St. Lewis next month, and they've been looking around for a military candidate, and you're just the thing. Every woman in the country will be for you. They won't dare to put up a candidate against you. You'll just have a walk-over. That song, 'Captain Jinks,' will do it alone. Everybody is singing it."
"I thought I was too young," said Sam. "Isn't there an age limit?"
"Not a bit of it. They abolished that when they amended the Constitution and made the President's term six years, and made him ineligible for reelection."
"I'd rather have a military position," said Sam. "I'd rather be general of the army. But I've lost my nerve--I'm not well; and perhaps it's just as well that I should take a civilian position."
"Civilian position! Nonsense! The President is commander-in-chief of the army and navy, and the marines, too, for that matter."
"But he hasn't a uniform," said Sam sorrowfully. "And as for all this kissing, I'm sick of it. It tires me to death, and I don't know what Marian will think of it. I've written to explain that I can't help it, but she will see the reports first in the papers and she may not like it at all."
"Oh, she's a sensible woman," said Cleary. "She will understand a political and military necessity. She won't mind."
But Marian did mind, and for once Cleary was mistaken. She was delighted at the prominence which Sam had achieved, and saw him mentioned as a candidate for President with pride and gratification, but she did not see how that excused his promiscuous osculation of the female population of the country, and she determined that it should cease. She wrote to him frequently and decidedly on the subject, and he reported her protests to Cleary, who absolutely refused to allow them.
"It won't do," said he, as they discussed the subject at a hotel in a small city on their line of progress. "This kissing is your strong point. The Lyre is backing you up on the strength of it. So is the Benevolent Assimilation Trust, Limited. In every city and town the girls have turned out, and you've captured them hands down. If you stop now it will upset the whole business. The Convention delegates are coming out for you by the dozen. Our committee is working it up so that it will be nearly unanimous. There won't be another serious candidate, and I doubt if they put anybody up against you when you're nominated. You're as good as President now, but you must go on kissing. That's all there is of it."
Sam wrote to Marian rehearsing these arguments, and he got Cleary to write too, but the letters had no effect. At last he received a telegram from her announcing her intention of meeting him at St. Lewis. She reached that city before him and was present at the station when he arrived, altho he did not know it, and from a good point of vantage she saw him kissing the young ladies of that city by wholesale to an accompaniment of "Captain Jinks." It was more than she could stand, and when she joined her fiancé at the hotel the meeting was very different from the one he had so often pictured to himself. It was a stormy scene, intermixed with tender episodes, but she gave it as her ultimatum that the kissing must cease forthwith, and, in order to give a good reason for it, she insisted that they be married at once. Sam was willing to take this course, and Cleary was called into their counsels. At first he bitterly opposed the project, but Marian's blandishments finally succeeded, and she gained him as an ally. He was sent as an emissary to the campaign committee and presented the case as strongly as he could for her. The proposition really seemed most plausible. Could anything help the chances of a candidate more than his marriage to a handsome young woman? The committee had doubts on the subject and waited in person on Miss Hunter, but she persuaded them as she had persuaded Cleary, and furthermore convinced them that whether they were persuaded or not the marriage would take place. Marian determined to fix the hour for the next day. She pledged the committee to secrecy, and no word of the proposed wedding got into the papers. At noon a clergyman was called into the hotel, and in Sam's private sitting-room the pair were married with Cleary and a few of the members of the committee as witnesses. Almost before the ceremony was over they could hear the newsboys crying out the tidings of the event.
"It's out of the question to talk about a wedding-tour," said Sam, after the ceremony. "I can't walk in the streets alone without being mobbed, and with Marian we could not keep the clothes on our backs. Just hear them singing 'Captain Jinks' now!'
"Mark my words, dear," said his wife. "You will see when we get the papers tomorrow with the news of our marriage, that it has made you more popular than ever. Now send out word to the reporters that you will not do any more public kissing."
In obedience to these orders Cleary, acting as go-between, conveyed the information as gently as he could to the representatives of the press, that as a married man General Jinks expected to be spared the ordeal of embracing all the young ladies of the country.
No one was prepared for the striking effect which this news, coupled with that of the marriage, had upon the newspapers and their readers. The first papers which Sam and his wife saw on the following morning were those of St. Lewis. They expressed sorrow at the fact that Captain Jinks had taken such a resolution when only a handful of the fair women of St. Lewis had had the opportunity of saluting him. Were they less beautiful and attractive than the ladies of St. Kisco who had kissed him to their hearts' content? Marian was visibly annoyed when she saw these articles, but she advised her husband to wait till they received the papers from other cities. These journals came, but, alas! they went rapidly from bad to worse. The Eastern papers with scarcely an exception took up the strain of those of St. Lewis. Why did Captain Jinks discriminate against the women of the East? He had kissed the whole West. Probably he had also kissed all the women of the Cubapines and Porsslania. It was only the women of the East that he could not find heart to salute in the same way. Here was a hero indeed, who insulted one-half of his own nation! It might have been expected that the Western press would have come to Sam's support, but they did not. They accused him of gross deception in not announcing that he had been from the first engaged to be married. Their young women had been fraudulently induced to kiss lips which had already been monopolized, but which they had been led to believe to be as free as the air of heaven. Black indeed must be the soul of a man who could stoop to such deception! As the days went on the public became more excited and the attacks more ferocious. It was rumored that his fiancée had married him against his will, that she was a virago and a termagant. Would the country be contented to see the Executive Mansion ruled by petticoats, and by those of a hussy at that? What sort of a hero was the man who could be ordered about by a woman and could not call his soul his own? Then they began to overhaul his record. Was he really the hero of San Diego? Was it not the mistakes of Gomaldo which caused his defeat? Was it not true that the boasted subjugation of the Moritos was brought about by the superstitious fear of the savages inspired by the figures tattooed on the captain's body? And the capture of Gomaldo, was it anything but a green-goods game on a large scale? What, too, was the burning of the great White Temple but an act of vandalism? And as for the friendship and praise of the Emperor, who was the Emperor, anyway, but an effete product of an exhausted civilization? Then had not Captain Jinks opposed the promotion of men from the ranks? What sort of a democrat was this? Sam felt these thrusts keenly. He had had no idea of the fickleness of the people, and it was hard to believe that in a single day they had ceased to adore him and begun to revile him; and yet such was the case. Marian was also overcome with mortification, and she heaped reproaches upon him for their forlorn condition. Cleary proved himself to be a stanch friend.
"It's too bad, old man," he said. "It'll blow over, but you'll have to withdraw a while for repairs. The bottom has dropped out of your boom, and of course you can't be a candidate for President. Let's go quietly home. I'll go along with you. The Lyre has had to drop you for the time. Scribblers' has sent back the first article I wrote for you, and they say your name has lost its commercial value. I've seen Jonas. He's here to make sure of a friendly candidate, and he says you're out of the question. He's doing well, I tell you. I asked him how it paid to run a war for half a million a day and get a trade in return of a few millions a year? 'It's the people pay for the war and we get the trade,' said he. He'd like to have you President to help them along, but he says it won't be possible. It's a shame. You'd have run so well, if---Your platform of 'Old Gory, the Army and Navy,' would have swept everything before it. But never mind. We'll try it again some day. I suppose your luck couldn't hold out forever."
"Thanks, my dear Cleary," said Sam, grasping his hand. "You've been a true friend. I don't think it makes much difference. I am a sick man, and I must go home as soon as I can."
Sam was indeed a sick man, and the journey to the East proved to be a severe strain upon him. Cleary saw that it would be unwise to let him travel alone with his wife, and accordingly he accompanied him to Slowburgh, which was on the way to Homeville. They arrived in the afternoon, and Sam could hardly walk to the carriage which awaited him. He was put to bed as soon as he reached his uncle's house, and on the advice of his uncle's doctor they sent at once to the county town for a trained nurse to take charge of him, for it was out of the question for him to travel farther. There was no train which Cleary could conveniently take that evening to the metropolis, and he accepted the urgent invitation of Congressman Jinks to spend the night. It so happened that it was a gala day for Slowburgh. Four of her soldier sons had returned a few days before from Porsslania and the Cubapines, and this day had been set aside for a great celebration and a mass-meeting at the Methodist church to welcome them. The procession was to take place early in the evening, and after supper Cleary went out alone to watch the proceedings, leaving his friend to the care of his relatives. He took his place on the curbstone of the principal street and was soon conversing with his neighbors on each side, one of whom was our old friend, Mr. Reddy, and the other the young insurance agent whose acquaintance Sam had made at the hotel.
"It's going to be a great show," said the former. "I wish I was spry enough to parade too. It's going to be splendid, but it won't come up to the time we had when I came back from the war. They've kept them four boys drunk three days for nothing, but we was drunk a month."
"They've sobered them down for this evening, I believe," said the young man.
"They've done their best," said Reddy, "and I think they'll go through with it all right. It's a great time for them, but they'll have their pension days all the rest of their lives to remind them of it, four times a year."
"Who are going to take part in the procession?" asked Cleary.
"They're going to have all the military companies and patriotic societies of these parts," answered Reddy, "and then the firemen too of course; but they won't amount to much, for most of them are in the societies, and they'd rather turn out in them."
"What societies are there?" said Cleary.
"Oh, there's the Grandsons of the Revolution and the Genuine Grandsons of the Revolution, and the Daughters of Revolutionary Camp-Followers and the Genuine Daughters, and then the Male Descendants of Second Cousins of Heroes, and the Genuine Male Descendants, and the Connections by Marriage of Colonial Tax-Collectors, and then the Genuine Connections, and a lot of others I can't remember."
"The names seem to go in pairs," said Cleary.
"Well, you see, they always have a fight about something in these military societies, and then they split, and the party that splits away always takes the same name and puts 'Genuine' in front of it. That's the way it is."
"I suppose these societies do a lot of good, don't they?" asked Cleary. "These splits and quarrels remind me of the army. They must spread the military spirit among the people."
"Yes, they do," said the young man. "It's what they call esprit de corps. If fighting is military, they fight and no mistake, and the women fight more than the men. I don't know how many lawsuits they've had. Half of them won't speak to the other half. But they're all united on one thing, I can tell you, and that is in wanting to put down the Cubapinos."
"That they are," cried Reddy. "That's why they call 'em 'Patriotic Societies.' It was our ancestors as fought for freedom that they made the societies for. Our ancestors were patriotic and fought for freedom once, and now we're going to be patriotic and stick by the government just like they did."
"Yes, they fought for freedom, that's true. And what are the Cubapinos fighting for?" asked the young man.
"Oh, shucks!" cried Reddy. "I ain't a-going to argher with you. What were we talking about? Oh, yes. We were saying that them societies fight together. They do fight a good deal, that's a fact, and there's no end of trouble in our militia battalion too. They all want to be captain, and they don't get on somehow as well as the fire companies. But still it's a fine thing to see all this military spirit. I didn't see a uniform for years, and now you can't hire a man to dig a ditch who hasn't got a stripe on one leg of his trousers at any rate. Girls like soldiers, I tell you, and they like pensions too. I've just got married myself. My wife is seventeen. Now I've drawed my pension for nearly forty years, and she'll draw it for sixty more if she has any luck; that'll make over a hundred. That's something like. Why, if one of these fellows is twenty now and marries a girl of seventeen when he's ninety, and she lives till she's ninety, they can keep drawing money for a hundred and fifty years, and no mistake. It's better than a savings bank. Here they come!"
The procession had formed round the corner at the other end of the main street, and now the band began to play, and the column could be seen advancing. First the band passed with an escort of small boys running along in the gutter on either side. Then came two carriages containing the heroes, two in each. They held themselves stiffly and took off their hats, and no one would have supposed that they had drunk too much if the fact had not been universally understood by the public. Behind them came a line of other carriages in which were seated the magnates of the town, including the office-holders and the prominent business men. They all had that self-important air which is inseparable from such shows and which denotes that the individual is feeling either like a great man or a fool. Then came the militia battalion, a rather shamefaced lot of young men who seemed to be painfully aware that they were not at all real heroes like the soldiers in the carriages, but merely make-believe imitations. The patriotic societies followed, genuine and non-genuine, resplendent in "insignia," sashes, and badges.
"There's my wife, she's a G.C.M.C.T.C.," said Reddy proudly, pointing out a very plain young woman with gold spectacles. "And here come the Genuine Ancesters of Future Veterans. See that old woman there on the other side? She made all the fuss. You see when anybody wants to get into a society and finds they can't get in they go off and start another. And some people that hadn't any tax collectors or connections or anything, they just got up the 'Ancestors of Future Veterans,' and everybody in town wanted to get into that. And old Miss Blunt there, she wanted to come in too, and she's over seventy, and they said she couldn't be an ancestor nohow, and she said she could and she would, and they voted forty-one to forty against her, and the forty went off and founded the Genuine Ancestors, and they're twice as big as the other now. Hear 'em applaud?"
The old lady walked along with a martial tread, and was loudly cheered as she passed.
"Now we'd better get into the church if we want seats," said the young man, and Cleary followed him, leaving the ancient warrior behind. The church was very crowded and very hot, and Cleary had to sit on a step of the platform, but it was an exhibition of patriotism worth beholding. The band played with great gusto, and the whole audience was at the highest pitch of excitement. The chairman made an address, and Josh Thatcher responded in a few words for himself and his three companions. Then flowers were presented to them, and a little girl recited the "Charge of the Light Brigade," but the main feature of the program was the oration of Dr. Taylor, the pastor of the church. He was famed as an orator not only in his denomination and in the county but in the National Order of Total Abstinence, of which he was a leading light. In his address he welcomed the four heroes back to their hearths and firesides. He thanked them for having conquered so many lands and spread the blessings of civilization and Christianity to the ends of the earth.
"We have been told, my friends, by wicked and unpatriotic scoffers, that these wars have stirred up the passions of our people, that there are more lynchings and deeds of violence than ever before, and that negro soldiers returning from the war have shot down citizens from car-windows. I have even been told that its effect is to be seen in the attempts of worthy citizens, including a distinguished judge, to have the whipping-post reestablished in our midst. I can only say for myself that such traitors and traducers should be the first victims of the whipping-post. (Cheers.) So far from crime having increased since the departure of these young heroes, I can testify that there has been a marked decrease in our community. Since they left, not a single barn has been burned, not a chicken stolen. My friend, Mrs. Crane, informs me that she keeps more chickens than ever before, and that she has not missed one in over a year. I am also told that during the absence of these young men the amount of liquor drunk in our town has sensibly diminished. The war then has been a blessing to us and to our nation."
During these remarks Josh Thatcher, who was sitting in the front row, gave sundry digs in the ribs to his cousin Tom, and they both laughed aloud.
"We welcome our heroes back," continued the orator. "We open our arms to them. All that we have is theirs. We applaud their manly courage and Christian self-sacrifice. We shall never, never forget their services, and we shall recite their noble deeds to our children and to our children's children."
The meeting broke up with three cheers and a tiger for each of the four heroes. For an hour later the crowds stood in the street talking over the great events of the day, each of the young veterans forming the center of an admiring group, Tom Thatcher being surrounded by a bevy of pretty girls who seemed to find nothing objectionable in his pimpled face and hoarse voice. Cleary stood for a long time watching them and talking with the insurance man.
"It's their night," said the latter, "but it won't last long. We know them too well. When the barns begin to burn again, folks'll all know what it means. I wish they'd keep a war going a long way off forever for these fellows. It would be a good riddance. And that's all talk of old Taylor's anyway. He won't take them to his heart, not by a great deal. I heard Dave Black ask him for a job today, and he wants a man too, and he said, 'What--an ex-soldier? Not much!' The words were out of his mouth before he knew what he'd said. He's a slick one."
When Cleary returned to Mr. Jinks' house, he found Sam much worse, and the gravest fears were entertained as to his recovery. In the morning he was a little easier, and Cleary was able to have a little talk with him before he left. Sam had been told by the doctor that his condition was serious, and he had no desire to get well.
"You must brace up, old man," said Cleary cheerily. "I'll come back in a few days and we'll lay out our plans for the future. You're the finest soldier that ever lived, and I haven't done with you yet."
"Don't say that, don't say that!" cried Sam. "I'm no soldier at all. I wanted to be a perfect soldier, and I can't. It's that that's breaking my heart. I don't mind the nomination for President nor anything else in comparison. My poor wife! Why did I let her marry a coward like me? I can't tell you now, but if I'm alive when you come here again I'll tell you all."
"Nonsense, old man," said Cleary. "You've got the fever on you again. It's in your blood. When it gets out, you'll be all right."
It was with tears in his eyes that Cleary bade his friend good-by, for he could see that he was a very sick man. It was impossible, however, for him to remain longer, and as Sam's wife and cousin were there to nurse him, and his father and mother had been telegraphed for, he felt that there was no necessity for him to remain.
After the lapse of three weeks Cleary received the sad news that Sam had shown unmistakable signs of insanity and had been removed to an insane asylum. His father wrote that while his insanity was of a mild form, the doctors thought it best for him to be placed in an institution where he could receive the most scientific treatment. Six months later Cleary, who was now one of the editors of the Lyre, went on a sad pilgrimage to see his friend. The asylum was several hours away from the metropolis beyond East Point, and was none other than the great building which they had described to the chief of the Moritos. Cleary took a carriage at the station and drove to his destination, and at last arrived at the huge edifice in the midst of its wide domain. He went into the reception-room and explained his errand. After a while a young doctor came to him, and told him that he could have an interview with Captain Jinks at once, and offered to act as his guide. It was a long walk through corridors and passages and up winding stairs to Sam's apartment, and Cleary questioned the doctor as they went.
"Captain Jinks is a dear fellow," said the doctor in response to his inquiries. "We are all fond of him. At first he was a little intractable and denied our right to direct him, but now that we've got it all down on a military basis, he will do anything we tell him. I believe he would walk out of the window if I ordered him too. But I have to put on a military coat to make him obey. We keep one on purpose. As soon as he sees it on anybody he's as obedient as a child. He's such a perfect gentleman, too. It's a very sad case. Here's his room."
The doctor knocked.
"Who goes there?" cried a husky voice, which Cleary hardly recognized as Sam's.
"A friend," answered the doctor.
"Advance, friend, and give the countersign," said the same voice.
"Old Gory!" cried the doctor, with most unmilitary emphasis, and he opened the door and they entered.
Cleary saw what seemed to be the shadow of Sam, pale, haggard, and emaciated, sitting in a shabby undress uniform before a large deal table. Upon the table was a most elaborate arrangement of books and blocks of wood, apparently representing fortifications, which were manned by a dilapidated set of lead soldiers--the earliest treasures of Sam's boyhood, which had been sent to him from home at his request. Sam did not lift his eyes from the table, and moved the men about with his hand as if he were playing a game of chess.
"Here is a friend of yours to see you, Captain," said the doctor.
Sam slowly raised his head and looked at Cleary for some time without recognizing him. Gradually a faint smile made its appearance.
"I know you," he said in the same strained voice. "I know you. You're--"
"Cleary," said Cleary.
"Cleary? Cleary? Let me see. Why, to be sure, you're Cleary." And he rose from his chair unsteadily and took the hand that Cleary offered him.
"How are you, old man? I'm so glad to see you again," said Cleary.
"And so am I," said Sam, who now seemed to be almost his old self again. "Sit down."
Cleary drew up a chair to the table, while the doctor retired and shut the door.
"How are you getting on?" said Cleary. "You're going to get well soon, aren't you?"
"I am well now," said Sam. "I was awfully ill, I know that, but it all came from my mind. I think I told you that. My heart was breaking because I couldn't be a perfect soldier. I had to face the question and grapple with it. It was an awful experience; I can't bear to speak of it or even think of it. But I won. I'm a perfect soldier now! I can do anything with my men here, and I will obey any order I receive, I don't care what it is."
As he spoke of his experience a pained expression came over his face, but he looked proud and almost happy when he announced the result of the conflict.
"They say I'm a lunatic, I know they do," he continued, looking round to see that no one else was present, and lowering his voice to a whisper. "They say I'm a lunatic, but I'm not. When they say I'm a lunatic they mean I'm a perfect soldier--a complete soldier. And they call those fine fellows lead soldiers! Lunatics and lead soldiers indeed! Well, suppose we are! I tell you an army of lead soldiers with a lunatic at the head would be the best army in the world. We do what we're told, and we're not afraid of anything."
Sam stopped talking at this juncture and went on for some time in silence maneuvering his troops. Finally he picked up the colonel with the white plume, and a ray of light from the afternoon sun fell upon it, and he held it before him, gazing upon it entranced. The door opened, and the doctor entered.
"I fear you must go now, Mr. Cleary. He can't stand much excitement. He's quiet now. Just come out with me without saying anything," and Cleary followed him out of the room, while Sam sat motionless with his eyes fixed on his talisman.
"He sits like that for hours," said the doctor. "It's a kind of hypnotism, I think, which we don't quite understand yet. I am writing up the case for The Medical Gazette. It's a peculiar kind of insanity, this preoccupation with uniforms and soldiers, and the readiness to do anything a man in regimentals tells him to."
"It's rather more common, perhaps, out of asylums than in them," muttered Cleary, but the doctor did not hear him. "Do you think he will ever recover, doctor?" he continued.
The doctor shook his head ominously.
"And will he live to old age in this condition?"
"He might, if there were nothing else the matter with him, but there is, and perhaps it's a fortunate thing. He's got a new disease called filariasis, a sort of low fever that he picked up in the Cubapines or Porsslania. There's a good deal of it among the soldiers who have come back. We have a lot of lunatics from the army here and several of them have this new fever too. It wouldn't kill him alone either, but the two things together will surely carry him off. He will hardly live another half-year."
"I suppose his family is looking out for him?" said Cleary.
"His mother visits him pretty regularly, and his father comes sometimes," said the doctor, "but I think his wife has only been here twice. And she's living at East Point, too, only an hour or two away. She's a born flirt, and I think she's tired of him. I'm told that one of this year's graduates there, a fellow named Saunders, is paying attention to her, and when the poor captain dies, I doubt if she remains long a widow."
"Then I suppose there is nothing I can do for the dear old chap?" asked Cleary, with tears in his eyes, as he took his leave of the doctor at the door of the building.
"Nothing at all, my dear sir. He has everything he wants, and in fact he wants nothing but his lead soldiers. He won't even let us give him a new set of them. And he has all the liberty he wants on the grounds here, and he can walk or even take a drive if he wishes to, for he is perfectly harmless."
"Perfectly harmless!" repeated Cleary to himself, as he got into his carriage. "What an idea! A perfectly harmless soldier!"
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