Part 1 out of 5
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FRANK'S CAMPAIGN OR THE FARM AND THE CAMP
By HORATIO ALGER, JR.
CHAPTER I. THE WAR MEETING
The Town Hall in Rossville stands on a moderate elevation
overlooking the principal street. It is generally open only when
a meeting has been called by the Selectmen to transact town
business, or occasionally in the evening when a lecture on
temperance or a political address is to be delivered. Rossville
is not large enough to sustain a course of lyceum lectures, and
the townspeople are obliged to depend for intellectual nutriment
upon such chance occasions as these. The majority of the
inhabitants being engaged in agricultural pursuits, the
population is somewhat scattered, and the houses, with the
exception of a few grouped around the stores, stand at
respectable distances, each encamped on a farm of its own.
One Wednesday afternoon, toward the close of September, 1862, a
group of men and boys might have been seen standing on the steps
and in the entry of the Town House. Why they had met will best
appear from a large placard, which had been posted up on barns
and fences and inside the village store and postoffice.
It ran as follows:
The citizens of Rossville are invited to meet at the Town Hall,
on Wednesday, September 24, at 3 P. M. to decide what measures
shall be taken toward raising the town's quota of twenty-five
men, under the recent call of the President of the United States.
All patriotic citizens, who are in favor of sustaining the free
institutions transmitted to us by our fathers, are urgently
invited to be present.
The Hon. Solomon Stoddard is expected to address the meeting.
Come one, come all.
At the appointed hour one hundred and fifty men had assembled in
the hall. They stood in groups, discussing the recent call and
the general management of the war with that spirit of independent
criticism which so eminently characterizes the little democracies
which make up our New England States.
"The whole thing has been mismanaged from the first," remarked a
sapient-looking man with a gaunt, cadaverous face, addressing two
listeners. "The Administration is corrupt; our generals are
either incompetent or purposely inefficient. We haven't got an
officer that can hold a candle to General Lee. Abraham Lincoln
has called for six hundred thousand men. What'll he do with 'em
when he gets 'em? Just nothing at all. They'll melt away like
snow, and then he'll call for more men. Give me a third of six
hundred thousand, and I'll walk into Richmond in less'n thirty
A quiet smile played over the face of one of the listeners. With
a slight shade of irony in his voice he said, "If such are your
convictions, Mr. Holman, I think it a great pity that you are not
in the service. We need those who have clear views of what is
required in the present emergency. Don't you intend to
"I!" exclaimed the other with lofty scorn. "No, sir; I wash my
hands of the whole matter. I ain't clear about the justice of
warring upon our erring brethren at all. I have no doubt they
would be inclined to accept overtures of peace if accompanied
with suitable concessions. Still, if war must be waged, I believe
I could manage matters infinitely better than Lincoln and his
cabinet have done."
"Wouldn't it be well to give them the benefit of your ideas on
the subject?" suggested the other quietly.
"Ahem!" said Mr. Holman, a little suspiciously.
"What do you mean, Mr. Frost?"
"Only this, that if, like you, I had a definite scheme, which I
thought likely to terminate the war, I should feel it my duty to
communicate it to the proper authorities, that they might take it
"It wouldn't do any good," returned Holman, still a little
suspicious that he was quietly laughed at. "They're too set in
their own ways to be changed."
At this moment there was a sharp rap on the table, and a voice
was heard, saying, "The meeting will please come to order."
The buzz of voices died away; and all eyes were turned toward the
"It will be necessary to select a chairman to preside over your
deliberations," was next heard. "Will any one nominate?"
"I nominate Doctor Plunkett," came from a man in the corner.
The motion was seconded, and a show of hands resulted in favor of
A gentlemanly-looking man with a pleasant face advanced to the
speaker's stand, and with a bow made a few remarks to this
"Fellow citizens: This is new business to me, as you are
doubtless aware. My professional engagements have not often
allowed me to take part in the meetings which from time to time
you have held in this hall. On the present occasion, however, I
felt it to be my duty, and the duty of every loyal citizen, to
show by his presence how heartily he approves the object which
has called us together. The same consideration will not suffer me
to decline the unexpected responsibility which you have devolved
upon me. Before proceeding farther, I would suggest that a clerk
will be needed to complete the organization."
A young man was nominated and elected without opposition.
Doctor Plunkett again addressed the meeting: "It is hardly
necessary," he said, "to remind you of the object which has
brought us together. Our forces in the field need replenishing.
The Rebellion has assumed more formidable proportions than we
anticipated. It is quite clear that we cannot put it down with
one hand. We shall need both. Impressed with this conviction,
President Lincoln has made an extraordinary levy upon the
country. He feels that it is desirable to put down the Rebellion
as speedily as possible, and not suffer it to drag through a
series of years. But he cannot work single-handed. The loyal
States must give their hearty cooperation. Our State, though
inferior in extent and population to some others, has not fallen
behind in loyal devotion. Nor, I believe, will Rossville be found
wanting in this emergency. Twenty-five men have been called for.
How shall we get them? This is the question which we are called
upon to consider. I had hoped the Honorable Solomon Stoddard
would be here to address you; but I regret to learn that a
temporary illness will prevent his doing so. I trust that those
present will not be backward in expressing their opinions."
Mr. Holman was already on his feet. His speech consisted of
disconnected remarks on the general conduct of the war, mingled
with severe denunciation of the Administration.
He had spoken for fifteen minutes in this strain, when the
"Your remarks are out of order, Mr. Holman. They are entirely
irrelevant to the question."
Holman wiped his cadaverous features with a red silk
pocket-handkerchief, and inquired, sarcastically, "Am I to
understand that freedom of speech is interdicted in this hall?"
"Freedom of speech is in order," said the chairman calmly,
"provided the speaker confines himself to the question under
discussion. You have spoken fifteen minutes without once touching
"I suppose you want me to praise the Administration," said
Holman, evidently thinking that he had demolished the chairman.
He looked around to observe what effect his shot had produced.
"That would be equally out of order," ruled the presiding
officer. "We have not assembled to praise or to censure the
Administration, but to consider in what manner we shall go to
work to raise our quota."
Holman sat down with the air of a martyr.
Mr. Frost rose next. It is unnecessary to report his speech. It
was plain, practical, and to the point. He recommended that the
town appropriate a certain sum as bounty money to volunteers.
Other towns had done so, and he thought with good reason. It
would undoubtedly draw in recruits more rapidly.
A short, stout, red-faced man, wearing gold spectacles, rose
"Mr. Chairman," he commenced, "I oppose that suggestion. I think
it calculated to work serious mischief. Do our young men need to
be hired to fight for their country? I suppose that is what you
call patriotism. For my part, I trust the town will have too much
good sense to agree to any such proposition. The consequence of
it would be to plunge us into debt, and increase our taxes to a
It may be remarked that Squire Haynes, the speaker, was the
wealthiest man in town, and, of course, would be considerably
affected by increased taxation. Even now he never paid his annual
tax-bill without an inward groan, feeling that it was so much
deducted from the sum total of his property.
Mr. Frost remained standing while Squire Haynes was speaking, and
at the close continued his speech:
"Squire Haynes objects that my proposition, if adopted, will make
our taxes heavier. I grant it: but how can we expect to carry on
this gigantic war without personal sacrifices? If they only come
in the form of money, we may account ourselves fortunate. I take
it for granted that there is not a man here present who does not
approve the present war--who does not feel that we are waging it
for good and sufficient reasons."
Here Mr. Holman moved uneasily in his seat, and seemed on the
point of interrupting the speaker, but for some reason forbore.
"Such being the case, we cannot but feel that the burden ought to
fall upon the entire community, and not wholly upon any
particular portion. The heaviest sacrifices must undoubtedly be
made by those who leave their homes and peril life and limb on
the battlefield. When I propose that you should lighten that
sacrifice so far as it lies in your power, by voting them a
bounty, it is because I consider that money will compensate them
for the privations they must encounter and the perils they will
incur. For that, they must look to the satisfaction that will
arise from the feeling that they have responded to their
country's call, and done something to save from ruin the
institutions which our fathers transmitted as a sacred trust to
their descendants. Money cannot pay for loss of life or limb. But
some of them leave families behind. It is not right that these
families should suffer because the fathers have devoted
themselves to the sacred cause of liberty. When our soldiers go
forth, enable them to feel that their wives and children shall
not lack for the necessaries of life. The least that those who
are privileged to stay at home can do is to tax their purses for
"Mr. Chairman," said Squire Haynes sarcastically, "I infer that
the last speaker is intending to enlist."
Mr. Frost's face flushed at this insinuation.
"Squire Haynes chooses to impute to me interested motives. I need
enter into no defense before an audience to whom I am well known.
I will only inquire whether interested motives have nothing to do
with his opposition to voting bounties to our soldiers?"
This was such a palpable hit that Squire Haynes winced under it,
and his red face turned redder as he saw the smiles of those
"Impudent puppy!" he muttered to himself; "he seems to forget
that I have a mortgage of eight hundred dollars on his farm. When
the time comes to foreclose it, I will show him no mercy. I'll
sell him out, root and branch!"
Mr. Frost could not read the thoughts that were passing through
the mind of his creditor. They might have given him a feeling of
uneasiness, but would not in the least have influenced his
action. He was a man loyal to his own convictions of duty, and no
apprehension of personal loss would have prevented his speaking
in accordance with what he felt to be right.
The considerations which had been urged were so reasonable that
the voters present, with very little opposition, voted to pay one
hundred and fifty dollars to each one who was willing to enlist
as one of the town's quota. A list was at once opened, and after
the close of the meeting four young men came forward and put down
their names, amid the applause of the assembly.
"I wanted to do it before," said John Drake, one of the number,
to Mr. Frost, "but I've got a wife and two little children
dependent upon me for support. I couldn't possibly support them
out of my thirteen dollars a month, even with the State aid. But
your motion has decided me. I could do better by staying at home,
even with that; but that isn't the question. I want to help my
country in this hour of her need; and now that my mind is at ease
about my family, I shall cheerfully enter the service."
"And I know of no one who will make a better soldier!" said Mr.
CHAPTER II. THE PRIZE
A few rods distant from the Town Hall, but on the opposite side
of the street, stood the Rossville Academy. It had been for some
years under the charge of James Rathburn, A. M., a thorough
scholar and a skilful teacher. A large part of his success was
due to his ability in making the ordinary lessons of the
schoolroom interesting to his scholars.
Some forty students attended the academy, mostly from the town of
Rossville. Mr. Rathburn, however, received a few boarders into
There were three classes in the Latin language; but the majority
of those who had taken it up stopped short before they had gone
beyond the Latin Reader. One class, however, had commenced
reading the Aeneid of Virgil, and was intending to pursue the
full course of preparation for college; though .n regard to one
member of the class there was some doubt whether he would be able
to enter college. As this boy is to be our hero we will take a
closer look at him.
Frank Frost is at this time in his sixteenth year. He is about
the medium size, compactly made, and the heallhful color in his
cheeks is good evidence that he is not pursuing his studies at
the expense of his health. He has dark chestnut hair, with a
slight wave, and is altogether a fine-looking boy.
At a desk behind him sits John Haynes, the son of Squire Haynes,
introduced in our last chapter. He is nearly two years older than
Frank, and about as opposite to him in personal appearance as can
well be imagined. He has a thin face, very black hair is tall of
his age, and already beginning to feel himself a young man. His
manner is full of pretension. He never forgets that his father is
the richest man in town, and can afford to give him advantages
superior to those possessed by his schoolfellows. He has a
moderate share of ability but is disinclined to work hard. His
affectation of Superiority makes him as unpopular among his
schoolfellows as Frank is popular.
These two boys, together with Henry Tufts, constitute the preparatory
class of Rossville Academy. Henry is mild in his manners, and a
respectable student, but possesses no positive character. He comes
from a town ten miles distant, and boards with the principal. Frank,
though the youngest of the three, excels the other two in scholarship.
But there is some doubt whether he will be able to go to college. His
father is in moderate circumstances, deriving a comfortable
subsistence from a small farm, but is able to lay by a very small
surplus every year, and this he feels it necessary to hold in reserve
for the liquidation of the mortgage held by Squire Haynes. Frank's
chance of attaining what he covets-a college education-seems small;
but he is resolved at least to prepare for college, feeling that even
this will constitute a very respectable education.
The reader is introduced to the main schoolroom of the Rossville
Academy on the morning of the day of which the war meeting takes
At nine o'clock the bell rang, and the scholars took their seats.
After the preliminary devotional exercise, Mr. Rathburn, instead of
calling up the first class at once, paused a moment, and spoke as
"Scholars, I need not remind you that on the first day of the term,
with the design of encouraging you to aim at improvement in English
composition, I offered two prizes-one for the best essay written by a
boy over fourteen years of age; the other for the best composition by
any one under that age. It gives me pleasure to state that in most of
those submitted to me I recognize merit, and I should be glad if it
were in my power to give three times as many prizes. Those of you,
however, who are unsuccessful will feel repaid by the benefit you have
yourselves derived from the efforts you have made for another end."
During this address, John Haynes looked about him with an air of
complacency and importance. He felt little doubt that his own essay
on the "Military Genius of Napoleon" would win the prize. He did not
so much care for this, except for the credit it would give him. But
his father, who was ambitious for him, had promised him twenty-five
dollars if he succeeded, and he had already appropriated this sum in
imagination. He had determined to invest it in a handsome boat which
he had seen for sale in Boston on his last visit to that city.
"After careful consideration," continued the teacher, "I have decided
that the prize should be adjudged to an essay entitled 'The Duties of
Boys on the Present National Crisis,' written by Frank Frost."
There was a general clapping of hands at this announcement. Frank was
a general favorite, and even his disappointed rivals felt a degree of
satisfaction in feeling that he had obtained the prize.
There was one exception, however. John Haynes turned pale, and then
red, with anger and vexation. He scowled darkly while the rest of the
boys were applauding, and persuaded himself that he was the victim of
a great piece of injustice.
Frank's face flushed with pleasure, and his eyes danced with
delight. He had made a great effort to succeed, and he knew that
at home they would be very happy to hear that the prize had been
awarded to him.
"Frank Frost will come forward," said Mr. Rathburn.
Frank left his seat, and advanced modestly. Mr. Rathburn placed
in his hand a neat edition of Whittier's Poem's in blue and gold.
"Let this serve as an incentive to renewed effort," he said.
The second prize was awarded to one of the girls. As she has no
part in our story, we need say nothing more on this point.
At recess, Frank's desk was surrounded by his schoolmates, who
were desirous of examining the prize volumes. All expressed
hearty good-will, congratulating him on his success, with the
exception of John Haynes.
"You seem mighty proud of your books, Frank Frost," said he with
a sneer. "We all know that you're old Rathburn's favorite. It
didn't make much difference what you wrote, as long as you were
sure of the prize."
"For shame, John Haynes!" exclaimed little Harvey Grover
impetuously. "You only say that because you wanted the prize
yourself, and you're disappointed."
"Disappointed!" retorted John scornfully. "I don't want any of
old Rathburn's sixpenny books. I can buy as many as I please. If
he'd given 'em to me, I should have asked him to keep 'em for
those who needed 'em more."
Frank was justly indignant at the unfriendly course which John
chose to pursue, but feeling that it proceeded from disappointed
rivalry, he wisely said nothing to increase his exasperation. He
put the two books carefully away in his desk, and settled himself
quietly to his day's lessons.
It was not until evening that John and his father met. Both had
been chafed--the first by his disappointment, the second by the
failure of his effort to prevent the town's voting bounties to
volunteers. In particular he was incensed with Mr. Frost, for his
imputation of interested motives, although it was only in return
for a similar imputation brought against himself.
"Well, father, I didn't get the prize," commenced John, in a
"So much the worse for you," said his father coldly. "You might
have gained it if you had made an effort."
"No, I couldn't. Rathburn was sure to give it to his favorite."
"And who is his favorite?" questioned Squire Haynes, not yet
siding with his son.
"Frank Frost, to be sure."
"Frank Frost!" repeated the squire, rapidly wheeling round to his
son's view of the matter. His dislike of the father was so great
that it readily included the son. "What makes you think he is the
"Oh, Rathburn is always praising him for something or other. All
the boys know Frank Frost is his pet. You won't catch him
praising me, if I work ever so hard."
John did not choose to mention that he had not yet tried this
method of securing the teacher's approval.
"Teachers should never have favorites," said the squire
dogmatically. "It is highly detrimental to a teacher's influence,
and subversive of the principles of justice. Have you got your
essay with you, John?"
"You may sit down and read it to me, and if I think it deserving,
I will take care that you sha'n't lose by the teacher's
John readily obeyed. He hurried up to his chamber, and, opening
his writing-desk, took out a sheet of foolscap, three sides of
which were written over. This he brought down-stairs with him. He
began to hope that he might get the boat after all.
The squire, in dressing-gown and slippers, sat in a comfortable
armchair, while John in a consequential manner read his rejected
essay. It was superficial and commonplace, and abundantly marked
with pretension, but to the squire's warped judgment it seemed to
have remarkable merit.
"It does you great credit, John," said he emphatically. "I don't
know what sort of an essay young Frost wrote, but I venture to
say it was not as good. If he's anything like his father, he is
an impertinent jackanapes."
John pricked up his ears, and listened attentively.
"He grossly insulted me at the town meeting to-day, and I sha'n't
soon forget it. It isn't for his interest to insult a man who has
the power to annoy him that I possess."
"Haven't you got a mortgage on his farm?"
"Yes, and at a proper time I shall remind him of it. But to come
back to your own affairs. What was the prize given to young
"A blue-and-gold copy of Whittier's Poems, in two volumes."
"Plain binding, I suppose."
"Very well. The next time I go to Boston, I will buy you the same
thing bound in calf. I don't intend that you shall suffer by your
"It wasn't so much the prize that I cared for," said John, who
felt like making the most of his father's favorable mood, "but
you know you promised me twenty-five dollars if I gained it."
"And as you have been defrauded of it, I will give you thirty
instead," said the squire promptly.
John's eyes sparkled with delight. "Oh, thank you, sir!" he said.
"I wouldn't change places with Frank Frost now for all his
"I should think not, indeed," said the squire pompously. "Your
position as the son of a poor farmer wouldn't be quite so high as
it is now."
As he spoke he glanced complacently at the handsome furniture
which surrounded him, the choice engravings which hung on the
walls, and the full-length mirror in which his figure was
reflected. "Ten years from now Frank Frost will be only a common
laborer on his father's farm--that is," he added significantly,
"if his father manages to keep it; while you, I hope, will be
winning distinction at the bar."
Father and son were in a congenial mood that evening, and a
common hatred drew them more closely together than mutual
affection had ever done. They were very much alike--both cold,
calculating, and selfish. The squire was indeed ambitious for his
son, but could hardly be said to love him, since he was incapable
of feeling a hearty love for any one except himself.
As for John, it is to be feared that he regarded his father
chiefly as one from whom he might expect future favors. His
mother had been a good, though not a strong-minded woman, and her
influence might have been of advantage to her son; but unhappily
she had died when John was in his tenth year, and since then he
had become too much like his father.
CHAPTER III. FRANK AT HOME
Mr. Frost's farm was situated about three-quarters of a mile from
the village. It comprised fifty acres, of which twenty were
suitable for tillage, the remainder being about equally divided
between woodland and pasture.
Mr. Frost had for some years before his marriage been a painter,
and had managed to save up from his earnings not far from a
thousand dollars. Thinking, however, that farming would be more
favorable to health, he purchased his fifty-acre farm for
twenty-eight hundred dollars, payable one thousand down, and the
rest remaining on mortgage. At the date of our story he had
succeeded in paying up the entire amount within eight hundred
dollars, a mortgage for that amount being held by Squire Haynes.
He had not been able to accomplish this without strict economy,
in which his wife had cheerfully aided him.
But his family had grown larger and more expensive. Besides
Frank, who was the oldest, there were now three younger
children--Alice, twelve years of age; Maggie, ten; and Charlie,
The farmhouse was small but comfortable, and the family had never
been tempted to sigh for a more costly or luxurious home. They
were happy and contented, and this made their home attractive.
On the evening succeeding that of the war meeting, Frank was
seated in the common sitting-room with his father and mother.
There was a well-worn carpet on the floor, a few plain chairs
were scattered about the room, and in the corner ticked one of
the old-fashioned clocks such as used to be the pride of our New
England households. In the center of the room stood a round
table, on which had been set a large kerosene-lamp, which
diffused a cheerful light about the apartment.
On a little table, over which hung a small mirror, were several
papers and magazines. Economical in most things, Mr. Frost was
considered by many of his neighbors extravagant in this. He
subscribed regularly for Harper's Magazine and Weekly, a weekly
agricultural paper, a daily paper, and a child's magazine.
"I don't see how you can afford to buy so much reading-matter,"
said a neighbor, one day. "It must cost you a sight of money. As
for me, I only take a weekly paper, and I think I shall have to
give that up soon."
"All my papers and magazines cost me in a year, including
postage, is less than twenty dollars," said Mr. Frost quietly. "A
very slight additional economy in dress--say three dollars a year
to each of us will pay that. I think my wife would rather make
her bonnet wear doubly as long than give up a single one of our
papers. When you think of the comparative amount of pleasure
given by a paper that comes to you fifty-two times in a year, and
a little extra extravagance in dress, I think you will decide in
favor of the paper."
"But when you've read it, you haven't anything to show for your
"And when clothes are worn out you may say the same of them. But
we value both for the good they have done, and the pleasure they
have afforded. I have always observed that a family where papers
and magazines are taken is much more intelligent and well
informed than where their bodies are clothed at the expense of
their minds. Our daily paper is the heaviest item; but I like to
know what is passing in the world, and, besides, I think I more
than defray the expense by the knowledge I obtain of the markets.
At what price did you sell your apples last year?"
"At one dollar and seventy-five cents per barrel."
"And I sold forty barrels at two dollars per barrel. I found from
my paper that there was reason to expect an increase in the
price, and held on. By so doing I gained ten dollars, which more
than paid the expense of my paper for the year. So even in a
money way I was paid for my subscription. No, neighbor, though I
have good reason to economize, I don't care to economize in that
direction. I want my children to grow up intelligent citizens.
Let me advise you, instead of stopping your only paper, to
subscribe for two or three more."
"I don't know," was the irresolute reply. "It was pretty lucky
about the apples; but it seems a good deal to pay. As for my
children, they don't get much time to read. They've got to earn
their livin', and that ain't done by settin' down and readin'."
"I am not so sure of that," said Mr. Frost. "Education often
enables a man to make money."
The reader may have been surprised at the ease with which Mr.
Frost expressed himself in his speech at the war meeting. No
other explanation is required than that he was in the habit of
reading, every day, well-selected newspapers. "A man is known by
the company he keeps."
"So you gained the prize, Frank?" said his father approvingly. "I
am very glad to hear it. It does you great credit. I hope none
were envious of your success."
"Most of the boys seemed glad of it," was the reply; "but John
Haynes was angry because he didn't get it himself. He declared
that I succeeded only because I was a favorite with Mr.
"I am afraid he has not an amiable disposition. However, we must
remember that his home influences haven't been the best. His
mother's death was unfortunate for him."
"I heard at the store that you and Squire Haynes had a discussion
at the war meeting," said Frank inquiringly. "How was it,
"It was on the question of voting a bounty to our volunteers. I
felt that such a course would be only just. The squire objected
on the ground that our taxes would be considerably increased."
"And how did the town vote?"
"They sustained my proposition, much to the squire's indignation.
He doesn't seem to feel that any sacrifices ought to be expected
"What is the prospect of obtaining the men, father?"
"Four have already enlisted, but twenty-one are still required. I
fear there will be some difficulty in obtaining the full number.
In a farming town like ours the young men are apt to go off to
other places as soon as they are old enough; so that the lot must
fall upon some who have families."
Frank sat for some minutes gazing thoughtfully into the wood-fire
that crackled in the fireplace.
"I wish I was old enough to go, father," he said, at length.
"I wish you were," said his father earnestly. "Not that it
wouldn't be hard to send you out into the midst of perils; but
our duty to our country ought to be paramount to our personal
"There's another reason," he said, after awhile, "why I wish you
were older. You could take my place on the farm, and leave me
free to enlist. I should have no hesitation in going. I have not
forgotten that my grandfather fought at Bunker Hill."
"I know, father," said Frank, nodding; "and that's his musket
that hangs up in your room, isn't it?"
"Yes; it was his faithful companion for three years. I often
think with pride of his services. I have been trying to think all
day whether I couldn't make some arrangement to have the farm
carried on in my absence; but it is very hard to obtain a person
in whom I could confide."
"If I were as good a manager as some," said Mrs. Frost, with a
smile, "I would offer to be your farmer; but I am afraid that,
though my intentions would be the best, things would go on badly
under my administration."
"You have enough to do in the house, Mary," said her husband. "I
should not wish you to undertake the additional responsibility,
even if you were thoroughly competent. I am afraid I shall have
to give up the idea of going."
Mr. Frost took up the evening paper. Frank continued to look
thoughtfully into the fire, as if revolving something in his
mind. Finally he rose, and lighting a candle went up to bed. But
he did not go to sleep for some time. A plan had occurred to him,
and he was considering its feasibility.
"I think I could do it," he said, at last, turning over and
composing himself to sleep. "I'll speak to father the first thing
CHAPTER IV. FRANK MAKES A PROPOSITION
When Frank woke the next morning the sun was shining into his
window. He rubbed his eyes and tried to think what it was that
occupied his mind the night before. It came to him in a moment,
and jumping out of bed, he dressed himself with unusual
Hurrying down-stairs, he found his mother in the kitchen, busily
engaged in getting breakfast.
"Where's father?" he asked.
"He hasn't come in from the barn yet, Frank," his mother
answered. "You can have your breakfast now, if you are in a hurry
to get to studying."
"Never mind, just now, mother," returned Frank. "I want to speak
to father about something."
Taking his cap from the nail in the entry where it usually hung,
Frank went out to the barn. He found that his father was nearly
"Is breakfast ready?" asked Mr. Frost, looking up. "Tell your
mother she needn't wait for me."
"It isn't ready yet," said Frank. "I came out because I want to
speak to you about something very particular."
"Very well, Frank, Go on."
"But if you don't think it a good plan, or think that I am
foolish in speaking of it, don't say anything to anybody."
Mr. Frost looked at Frank in some little curiosity.
"Perhaps," he said, smiling, "like our neighbor Holman, you have
formed a plan for bringing the war to a close."
Frank laughed. "I am not quite so presumptuous," he said. "You
remember saying last night, that if I were old enough to take
charge of the farm, you would have no hesitation in
"Don't you think I am old enough?" asked Frank eagerly.
"Why, you are only fifteen, Frank," returned his father, in
"I know it, but I am strong enough to do considerable work."
"It isn't so much that which is required. A man could easily be
found to do the hardest of the work. But somebody is needed who
understands farming, and is qualified to give directions. How
much do you know of that?"
"Not much at present," answered Frank modestly, "but I think I
could learn easily. Besides, there's Mr. Maynard, who is a good
farmer, could advise me whenever I was in doubt, and you could
write home directions in your letters."
"That is true," said Mr. Frost thoughtfully. "I will promise to
give it careful consideration. But have you thought that you will
be obliged to give up attending school."
"And, of course, that will put you back; your class-mates will
get in advance of you."
"I have thought of that, father, and I shall be very sorry for
it. But I think that is one reason why I desire the plan."
"I don't understand you, Frank," said his father, a little
"You see, father, it would require a sacrifice on my part, and I
should feel glad to think I had an opportunity of making a
sacrifice for the sake of my country."
"That's the right spirit, Frank," said his father approvingly.
"That's the way my grandfather felt and acted, and it's the way I
like to see my son feel. So it would be a great sacrifice to me
to leave you all."
"And to us to be parted from you, father," said Frank.
"I have no doubt of it, my dear boy," said his father kindly. "We
have always been a happy and united family, and, please God, we
always shall be. But this plan of yours requires consideration. I
will talk it over with your mother and Mr. Maynard, and will then
come to a decision."
"I was afraid you would laugh at me," said Frank.
"No," said his father, "it was a noble thought, and does you
credit. I shall feel that, whatever course I may think it wisest
The sound of a bell from the house reached them. This meant
breakfast. Mr. Frost had finished milking, and with a well-filled
pail in either hand, went toward the house.
"Move the milking:-stool, Frank," he said, looking behind him,
"or the cow will kick it over."
Five minutes later they were at breakfast.
"I have some news for you, Mary," said Mr. Frost, as he helped
his wife to a sausage.
"Indeed?" said she, looking up inquiringly.
"Some one has offered to take charge of the farm for me, in case
I wish to go out as a soldier."
"Who is it?" asked Mrs. Frost, with strong interest.
"A gentleman with whom you are well--I may say intimately
acquainted," was the smiling response.
"It isn't Mr. Maynard?"
"No. It is some one that lives nearer than he."
"How can that be? He is our nearest neighbor."
"Then you can't guess?"
"No. I am quite mystified."
"Suppose I should say that it is your oldest son?"
"What, Frank?" exclaimed Mrs. Frost, turning from her husband to
her son, whose flushed face indicated how anxious he was about
his mother's favorable opinion.
"You have hit it."
"You were not in earnest, Frank?" said Mrs. Frost inquiringly.
"I think he was. He certainly appeared to be."
"But what does Frank know about farming?"
"I asked him that question myself. He admitted that he didn't
know much at present, but thought that, with Mr. Maynard's
advice, he might get along."
Mrs. Frost was silent a moment. "It will be a great undertaking,"
she said, at last; "but if you think you can trust Frank, I will
do all I can to help him. I can't bear to think of having you go,
yet I am conscious that this is a feeling which I have no right
to indulge at the expense of my country."
"Yes," said her husband seriously. "I feel that I owe my country
a service which I have no right to delegate to another, as long
as I am able to discharge it myself. I shall reflect seriously
upon Frank's proposition."
There was no more said at this time. Both Frank and his parents
felt that it was a serious matter, and not to be hastily decided.
After breakfast Frank went up-stairs, and before studying his
Latin lesson, read over thoughtfully the following passage in his
prize essay on "The Duties of American Boys at the Present
"Now that so large a number of our citizens have been withdrawn
from their families and their ordinary business to engage in
putting down this Rebellion, it becomes the duty of the boys to
take their places as far as they are able to do so. A boy cannot
wholly supply the place of a man, but he can do so in part. And
where he is not called on to do this, he can so conduct himself
that his friends who are absent may feel at ease about him. He
ought to feel willing to give up some pleasures, if by so doing
he can help to supply the places of those who are gone. If he
does this voluntarily, and in the right spirit, he is just as
patriotic as if he were a soldier in the field."
"I didn't think," thought Frank, "when I wrote this, how soon my
words would come back to me. It isn't much to write the words.
The thing is to stand by them. If father should decide to go, I
will do my best, and then, when the Rebellion is over, I shall
feel that I did something, even if It wasn't much, toward putting
Frank put his essay carefully away in a bureau drawer in which he
kept his clothes, and, spreading open his Latin lexicon,
proceeded to prepare his lesson in the third book of Virgil's
CHAPTER V. MR. RATHBURN MAKES A SPEECH
Frank's seat in the schoolroom was directly in front of that
occupied by John Haynes. Until the announcement of the prize John
and he had been on friendly terms. They belonged to the same
class in Latin, and Frank had often helped his classmate through
a difficult passage which he had not the patience to construe for
himself. Now, however, a coolness grew up between them,
originating with John. He felt envious of Frank's success; and
this feeling brought with it a certain bitterness which found
gratification in anything which he had reason to suppose would
On the morning succeeding the distribution of the prizes, Frank
arrived at the schoolhouse a few minutes before the bell rang.
John, with half a dozen other boys, stood near the door.
John took off his hat with mock deference. "Make way for the
great prize essayist, gentlemen!" he said. "The modern Macaulay
Frank colored with annoyance. John did not fail to notice this
with pleasure. He was sorry, however, that none of the other boys
seemed inclined to join in the demonstration. In fact, they liked
Frank much the better of the two.
"That isn't quite fair, John," said Frank, in a low voice.
"I am always glad to pay my homage to distinguished talent," John
proceeded, in the same tone. "I feel how presumptuous I was in
venturing to compete with a gentleman of such genius!"
"Do you mean to insult me?" asked Frank, growing angry.
"Oh, dear, no! I am only expressing my high opinion of your
"Let him alone, John!" said Dick Jones, "It isn't his fault that
the teacher awarded the prize to him instead of you."
"I hope you don't think I care for that!" said John, snapping his
fingers. "He's welcome to his rubbishing books; they don't amount
to much, anyway. I don't believe they cost more than two dollars
at the most. If you'd like to see what I got for my essay, I'll
John pulled out his portemonnaie, and unrolled three new and
crisp bank-notes of ten dollars each.
"I think that's pretty good pay," he said, looking about him
triumphantly. "I don't care how many prizes Rathburn chooses to
give his favorite. I rather think I can get along without them."
John's face was turned toward the door, otherwise he would have
observed the approach of the teacher, and spoken with more
caution. But it was too late. The words had been spoken above his
ordinary voice, and were distinctly heard by the teacher. He
looked sharply at John Haynes, whose glance fell before his, but
without a word passed into the schoolroom.
"See if you don't get a blowing-up, John," said Dick Jones.
"What do I care!" said John, but in a tone too subdued to be
heard by any one else. "It won't do Rathburn any harm to hear the
truth for once in his life."
"Well, I'm glad I'm not in your place, that's all!" replied Dick.
"You're easily frightened!" rejoined John, with a sneer.
Nevertheless, as he entered the schoolroom, and walked with
assumed bravado to his seat in the back part of the room, he did
not feel quite so comfortable as he strove to appear. As he
glanced stealthily at the face of the teacher, who looked
unusually stern and grave, he could not help thinking, "I wonder
whether he will say anything about it."
Mr. Rathburn commenced in the usual manner; but after the
devotional exercises were over, he paused, and, after a brief
silence, during which those who had heard John's words listened
with earnest attention, spoke as follows:
"As I approached the schoolroom this morning I chanced to catch
some words which I presume were not intended for my ear. If I
remember rightly they were, 'I don't care how many prizes
Rathburn gives his favorite!' There were several that heard them,
so that I can be easily corrected if I have made any mistake. Now
I will not affect to misunderstand the charge conveyed by these
words. I am accused of assigning the prizes, or at least, one of
them, yesterday, not with strict regard to the merit of the
essays presented, but under the influence of partiality. If this
is the real feeling of the speaker, I can only say that I am
sorry he should have so low an opinion of me. I do not believe
the scholars generally entertain any such suspicion. Though I may
err in judgment, I think that most of you will not charge me with
anything more serious. If you ask me whether a teacher has
favorites, I say that he cannot help having them. He cannot help
making a difference between the studious on the one hand, and the
indolent and neglectful on the other. But in a matter like this I
ask you to believe me when I say that no consideration except
that of merit is permitted to weigh. The boy who made this charge
is one of my most advanced scholars, and has no reason to believe
that he would be treated with unfairness. I do not choose to say
any more on this subject, except that I have decided to offer two
similar prizes for the two best compositions submitted within the
next four weeks. I shall assign them to the best of my judgment,
without regard to the scholarship of the writer."
Mr. Rathburn spoke in a quiet, dignified manner, which convinced
all who heard him of his fairness. I say all, because even John
Haynes was persuaded against his own will, though he did not
choose to acknowledge it. He had a dogged obstinacy which would
not allow him to retract what he had once said. There was an
unpleasant sneer on his face while the teacher was speaking,
which he did not attempt to conceal.
"The class in Virgil," called Mr. Rathburn.
This class consisted of Frank Frost, John Haynes, and Henry
Tufts. John rose slowly from his seat, and advanced to the usual
place, taking care to stand as far from Frank as possible.
"You may commence, John," said the teacher.
It was unfortunate for John that he had been occupied, first, by
thoughts of his rejected essay, and afterward by thoughts of the
boat which he proposed to buy with the thirty dollars of which he
had become possessed, so that he had found very little time to
devote to his Latin. Had he been on good terms with Frank, he
would have asked him to read over the lesson, which, as he was
naturally quick, would have enabled him to get off passably. But,
of course, under the circumstances, this was not to be thought
of. So he stumbled through two or three sentences, in an
embarrassed manner. Mr. Rathburn at first helped him along.
Finding, however, that he knew little or nothing of the lesson,
he quietly requested Frank to read, saying, "You don't seem so
well prepared as usual, John."
Frank translated fluently and well, his recitation forming a very
favorable contrast to the slipshod attempt of John. This John, in
a spirit of unreasonableness, magnified into a grave offense, and
a desire to "show off" at his expense.
"Trying to shine at my expense," he muttered. "Well, let him! Two
or three years hence, when I am in college, perhaps things may be
a little different."
Frank noticed his repellent look, and it made him feel
uncomfortable. He was a warm-hearted boy, and wanted to be on
good terms with everybody. Still, he could not help feeling that
in the present instance he had nothing to reproach himself with.
John went back to his seat feeling an increased irritation
against Frank. He could not help seeing that he was more popular
with his schoolmates than himself, and, of course, this, too, he
considered a just cause of offense against him.
While he was considering in what way he could slight Frank, the
thought of the boat he was about to purchase entered his mind. He
brightened up at once, for this suggested something. He knew how
much boys like going out upon the water. At present there was no
boat on the pond. His would hold six or eight boys readily. He
would invite some of the oldest boys to accompany him on his
first trip, carefully omitting Frank Frost. The slight would be
still more pointed because Frank was his classmate.
When the bell rang for recess he lost no time in carrying out the
scheme he had thought of.
"Dick," he called out to Dick Jones, "I am expecting my boat up
from Boston next Tuesday, and I mean to go out in her Wednesday
afternoon. Wouldn't you like to go with me?"
"With all the pleasure in life," said Dick, "and thank you for
"How many will she hold?"
"Eight or ten, I expect. Bob Ingalls, would you like to go, too?"
The invitation was eagerly accepted. John next approached Henry
Tufts, who was speaking with Frank Frost.
Without even looking at the latter, he asked Henry if he would
like to go.
"Very much," was the reply.
"Then I will expect you," he said. He turned on his heel and
walked off without taking any notice of Frank.
Frank blushed in spite of himself.
"Don't he mean to invite you?" asked Henry, in surprise.
"It appears not," said Frank.
"It's mean in him, then," exclaimed Henry; "I declare, I've a
great mind not to go."
"I hope you will go," said Frank hastily. "You will enjoy it.
Promise me you will go."
"Would you really prefer to have me?"
"I should be very sorry if you didn't."
"Then I'll go; but I think he's mean in not asking you, for all
CHAPTER VI. MR. FROST MAKES UP HIS MIND
"Well, Frank," said his father at supper-time, "I've been
speaking to Mr. Maynard this afternoon about your plan."
"What did he say?" asked Frank, dropping his knife and fork in
"After he had thought a little, he spoke of it favorably. He said
that, being too old to go himself, he should be glad to do
anything in his power to facilitate my going, if I thought it my
duty to do so."
"Didn't he think Frank rather young for such an undertaking?"
asked Mrs. Frost doubtfully.
"Yes, he did; but still he thought with proper advice and
competent assistance he might get along. For the first, he can
depend upon Mr. Maynard and myself; as for the second, Mr.
Maynard suggested a good man, who is seeking a situation as farm
"Is it anybody in this town?" asked Frank.
"No, it is a man from Brandon, named Jacob Carter. Mr. Maynard
says he is honest, industrious, and used to working on a farm. I
shall write to him this evening."
"Then you have decided to go!" exclaimed Frank and his mother in
"It will depend in part upon the answer I receive from this man
Carter. I shall feel if he agrees to come, that I can go with
"How we shall miss you!" said his wife, in a subdued tone.
"And I shall miss you quite as much. It will be a considerable
sacrifice for all of us. But when my country has need of me, you
will feel that I cannot honorably stay at home. As for Frank, he
may regard me as his substitute."
"My substitute!" repeated Frank, in a questioning tone.
"Yes, since but for you, taking charge of the farm in my absence,
I should not feel that I could go."
Frank looked pleased. It made him feel that he was really of some
importance. Boys, unless they are incorrigibly idle, are glad to
be placed in posts of responsibility. Frank, though very modest,
felt within himself unused powers and undeveloped capacities,
which he knew must be called out by the unusual circumstances in
which he would be placed. The thought, too, that he would be
serving his country, even at home, filled him with satisfaction.
After a pause, Mr. Frost said: "There is one point on which I
still have some doubts. As you are all equally interested with
myself, I think it proper to ask your opinion, and shall abide by
Frank and his mother listened with earnest attention.
"You are aware that the town has decided to give a bounty of one
hundred and fifty dollars to such as may volunteer toward filling
the quota. You may remember, also, that although the town passed
the vote almost unanimously, it was my proposition, and supported
by a speech of mine."
"Squire Haynes opposed it, I think you said, father."
"Yes, and intimated that I urged the matter from interested
motives. He said he presumed I intended to enlist."
"As if that sum would pay a man for leaving his home and
incurring the terrible risks of war!" exclaimed Mrs. Frost,
"Very likely he did not believe it himself; but he was irritated
with me, and it is his habit to impute unworthy motives to those
with whom he differs. Aside from this, however, I shall feel some
delicacy in availing myself of a bounty which I was instrumental
in persuading the town to vote. Though I feel that I should be
perfectly justified in so doing, I confess that I am anxious not
to put myself in such a position as to hazard any loss of good
opinion on the part of my friends in town."
"Then don't take it," said Mrs. Frost promptly.
"That's what I say, too, father," chimed in Frank.
"Don't decide too hastily," said Mr. Frost. "Remember that in our
circumstances this amount of money would be very useful. Although
Frank will do as well as any boy of his age, I do not expect him
to make the farm as profitable as I should do, partly on account
of my experience being greater, and partly because I should be
able to accomplish more work than he. One hundred and fifty
dollars would procure many little comforts which otherwise you
may have to do without."
"I know that," said Mrs. Frost quickly. "But do you think I
should enjoy them, if there were reports circulated, however
unjustly, to your prejudice? Besides, I shall know that the
comforts at the camp must be fewer than you would enjoy at home.
We shall not wish to fare so much better than you."
"Do you think with your mother, Frank?" asked Mr. Frost.
"I think mother is right," said Frank, proud of having his
opinion asked. He was secretly determined, in spite of what his
father had said, to see if he could not make the farm as
profitable as it would be under his father's management.
Mr. Frost seemed relieved by his wife's expression of opinion.
"Then," said he, "I will accept your decision as final. I felt
that it should be you, and not myself, who should decide it. Now
my mind will be at ease, so far as that goes."
"You will not enlist at once, father?" asked Frank.
"Not for three or four weeks. I shall wish to give you some
special instructions before I go, so that your task may be
"Hadn't I better leave school at once?"
"You may finish this week out. However, I may as well begin my
instructions without delay. I believe you have never learned to
"Probably Carter will undertake that. Still, it will be desirable
that you should know how, in case he gets sick. You may come out
with me after supper and take your first lesson."
Frank ran for his hat with alacrity. This seemed like beginning
in earnest. He accompanied his father to the barn, and looked
with new interest at the four cows constituting his father's
"I think we will begin with this one," said his father, pointing
to a red-and-white heifer. "She is better-natured than the
others, and, as I dare say your fingers will bungle a little at
first, that is a point to be considered."
If any of my boy readers has ever undertaken the task of milking
for the first time, he will appreciate Frank's difficulties. When
he had seen his father milking, it seemed to him extremely easy.
The milk poured out in rich streams, almost without an effort.
But under his inexperienced fingers none came. He tugged away
manfully, but with no result.
"I guess the cow's dry," said he at last, looking up in his
Mr. Frost in reply drew out a copious stream.
"I did the same as you," said Frank, mystified, "and none came."
"You didn't take hold right," said his father, "and you pressed
at the wrong time. Let me show you."
Before the first lesson was over Frank had advanced a little in
the art of milking, and it may as well be said here that in the
course of a week or so he became a fair proficient, so that his
father even allowed him to try Vixen, a cow who had received this
name from the uncertainty of her temper. She had more than once
upset the pail with a spiteful kick when it was nearly full. One
morning she upset not only the pail, but Frank, who looked
foolish enough as he got up covered with milk.
Frank also commenced reading the Plowman, a weekly agricultural
paper which his father had taken for years. Until now he had
confined his readings in it to the selected story on the fourth
page. Now, with an object in view, he read carefully other parts
of the paper. He did this not merely in the first flush of
enthusiasm, but with the steady purpose of qualifying himself to
take his father's place.
"Frank is an uncommon boy," said Mr. Frost to his wife, not
without feelings of pride, one night, when our hero had retired
to bed. "I would trust him with the farm sooner than many who are
half a dozen years older."
CHAPTER VII. LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
"Well, father, I've got some news for you," said John Haynes, as
he entered his father's presence, two or three days later.
"What is it, John?" inquired the squire, laying down a copy of
the New York Herald, which he had been reading.
"Who do you think has enlisted?"
"I do not choose to guess," said his father coldly. "If you feel
disposed to tell me, you may do so.
John looked somewhat offended at his father's tone, but he was
anxious to tell the news. "Frost's going to enlist," he said
"Indeed!" said the squire, with interest. "How did you hear?"
"I heard him say so himself, just now, in the store."
"I expected it," said Squire Haynes, with a sneer. "I understood
his motives perfectly in urging the town to pay an enormous
bounty to volunteers. He meant to line his own pockets at the
"He says that he doesn't mean to accept the bounty," continued
John, in a tone which indicated a doubt whether Mr. Frost was in
"Did you hear him say that?" asked Squire Haynes abruptly.
"Yes. I heard him say so to Mr. Morse."
"Perhaps he means it, and perhaps he doesn't. If he don't take
it, it is because he is afraid of public opinion. What's he going
to do about the farm, while he is gone?"
"That is the strangest part of it," said John. "I don't believe
you could guess who is to be left in charge of it."
"I don't choose to guess. If you know, speak out."
John bit his lip resentfully.
"It's that conceited jackanapes of his--Frank Frost."
"Do you mean that he is going to leave that boy to carry on the
farm?" demanded Squire Haynes, in surprise.
"Well, all I can say is that he's more of a fool than I took him
"Oh, he thinks everything of Frank," said John bitterly. "He'll
be nominating him for representative next."
The squire winced a little. He had been ambitious to represent
the town in the legislature, and after considerable wire-pulling
had succeeded in obtaining the nomination the year previous. But
it is one thing to be nominated and another to be elected. So the
squire had found, to his cost. He had barely obtained fifty
votes, while his opponent had been elected by a vote of a hundred
and fifty. All allusions, therefore, recalling his mortifying
defeat were disagreeable to him.
"On the whole, I don't know but I'm satisfied," he said,
recurring to the intelligence John had brought. "So far as I am
concerned, I am glad he has made choice of this boy."
"You don't think he is competent?" asked John, in surprise.
"For that very reason I am glad he has been selected," said the
squire emphatically. "I take it for granted that the farm will be
mismanaged, and become a bill of expense, instead of a source of
revenue. It's pretty certain that Frost won't be able to pay the
mortgage when it comes due. I can bid off the farm for a small
sum additional and make a capital bargain. It will make a very
good place for you to settle down upon, John."
"Me!" said John disdainfully. "You don't expect me to become a
plodding farmer, I trust. I've got talent for something better
than that, I should hope."
"No," said the squire, "I have other news for you. Still, you
could hire a farmer to carry it on for you, and live out there in
"Well, perhaps that would do," said John, thinking that it would
sound well for him, even if he lived in the city, to have a place
in the country. "When does the mortgage come due, father?"
"I don't remember the exact date. I'll look and see."
The squire drew from a closet a box hooped with iron, and
evidently made for security. This was his strong-box, and in this
he kept his bonds, mortgages, and other securities.
He selected a document tied with red ribbon, and examined it
"I shall have the right to foreclose the mortgage on the first of
next July," he said.
"I hope you will do it then. I should like to see them Frosts
"THEM Frosts! Don't you know anything more about English grammar,
"Those Frosts, then. Of course, I know; but a feller can't always
be watching his words."
"I desire you never again to use the low word 'feller,'" said the
squire, who, as the reader will see, was more particular about
grammatical accuracy than about some other things which might be
naturally supposed to be of higher importance.
"Well," said John sulkily, "anything you choose."
"As to the mortgage," proceeded Squire Haynes, "I have no idea
they will be able to lift it. I feel certain that Frost won't
himself have the money at command, and I sha'n't give him any
grace, or consent to a renewal. He may be pretty sure of that."
"Perhaps he'll find somebody to lend him the money."
"I think not. There are those who would be willing, but I
question whether there is any such who could raise the money at a
moment's warning. By the way, you need not mention my purpose in
this matter to any one. If it should leak out, Mr. Frost might
hear of it, and prepare for it."
"You may trust me for that, father," said John, very decidedly;
"I want to see Frank Frost's proud spirit humbled. Perhaps he'll
feel like putting on airs after that."
From the conversation which has just been chronicled it will be
perceived that John was a worthy son of his father; and, though
wanting in affection and cordial good feeling, that both were
prepared to join hands in devising mischief to poor Frank and his
family. Let us hope that the intentions of the wicked may be
CHAPTER VIII. DISCOURAGED AND ENCOURAGED
In a small village like Rossville news flies fast. Even the
distinctions of social life do not hinder an interest being felt
in the affairs of each individual. Hence it was that Mr. Frost's
determination to enlist became speedily known, and various were
the comments made upon his plan of leaving Frank in charge of the
farm. That they were not all favorable may be readily believed.
Country people are apt to criticize the proceedings of their
neighbors with a greater degree of freedom than is common
As Frank was on his way to school on Saturday morning, his name
was called by Mrs. Roxana Mason, who stood in the doorway of a
small yellow house fronting on the main street.
"Good morning, Mrs. Mason," said Frank politely, advancing to the
gate in answer to her call.
"Is it true what I've heard about your father's going to the war,
Frank Frost?" she commenced
"Yes, Mrs. Mason; he feels it his duty to go."
"And what's to become of the farm? Anybody hired it?"
"I am going to take charge of it," said Frank modestly.
"You!" exclaimed Mrs. Roxana, lifting both hands in amazement;
"why, you're nothing but a baby!"
"I'm a baby of fifteen," said Frank good-humoredly, though his
courage was a little dampened by her tone.
"What do you know about farming?" inquired the lady, in a
contemptuous manner. "Your father must be crazy!"
"I shall do my best, Mrs. Mason," said Frank quietly, but with
heightened color. "My father is willing to trust me; and as I
shall have Mr. Maynard to look to for advice, I think I can get
"The idea of putting a boy like you over a farm!" returned Mrs.
Roxana, in an uncompromising tone. "I did think your father had
more sense. It's the most shiftless thing I ever knew him to do.
How does your poor mother feel about it?"
"She doesn't seem as much disturbed about it as you do, Mrs.
Mason," said Frank, rather impatiently; for he felt that Mrs.
Mason had no right to interfere in his father's arrangements.
"Well, well, we'll see!" said Mrs. Roxana, shaking her head
significantly. "If you'll look in your Bible, you'll read about
'the haughty spirit that goes before a fall.' I'm sure I wish you
well enough. I hope that things'll turn out better'n they're like
to. Tell your mother I'll come over before long and talk with her
Frank inwardly hoped that Mrs. Roxana wouldn't put herself to any
trouble to call, but politeness taught him to be silent.
Leaving Mrs. Mason's gate, he kept on his way to school, but had
hardly gone half a dozen rods before he met an old lady, whose
benevolent face indicated a very different disposition from that
of the lady he had just parted with.
"Good morning, Mrs. Chester," said Frank cordially, recognizing
one of his mother's oldest friends.
"Good morning, my dear boy," was the reply. "I hear your father
is going to the war."
"Yes," said Frank, a little nervously, not knowing but Mrs.
Chester would view the matter in the same way as Mrs. Mason,
though he felt sure she would express herself less disagreeably.
"And I hear that you are going to try to make his place good at
"I don't expect to make his place good, Mrs. Chester," said Frank
modestly, "but I shall do as well as I can."
"I have no doubt of it, my dear boy," said the old lady kindly.
"You can do a great deal, too. You can help your mother by
looking out for your brothers and sisters, as well as supplying
your father's place on the farm."
"I am glad you think I can make myself useful," said Frank,
feeling relieved. "Mrs. Mason has just been telling me that I am
not fit for the charge, and that discouraged me a little."
"It's a great responsibility, no doubt, to come on one so young,"
said the old lady, "but it's of God's appointment. He will
strengthen your hands, if you will only ask Him. If you humbly
seek His guidance and assistance, you need not fear to fail."
"Yes," said Frank soberly, "that's what I mean to do."
"Then you will feel that you are in the path of duty. You'll be
serving your country just as much as if you went yourself."
"That's just the way I feel, Mrs. Chester," exclaimed Frank
eagerly. "I want to do something for my country."
"You remind me of my oldest brother," said the old lady
thoughtfully. "He was left pretty much as you are. It was about
the middle of the Revolutionary war, and the army needed
recruits. My father hesitated, for he had a small family
depending on him for support. I was only two years old at the
time, and there were three of us. Finally my brother James, who
was just about your age, told my father that he would do all he
could to support the family, and father concluded to go. We
didn't have a farm, for father was a carpenter. My brother worked
for neighboring farmers, receiving his pay in corn and
vegetables, and picked up what odd jobs he could. Then mother was
able to do something; so we managed after a fashion. There were
times when we were brought pretty close to the wall, but God
carried us through. And by and by father came safely home, and I
don't think he ever regretted having left us. After awhile the
good news of peace came, and he felt that he had been abundantly
repaid for all the sacrifices he had made in the good cause."
Frank listened to this narrative with great interest. It yielded
him no little encouragement to know that another boy, placed in
similar circumstances, had succeeded, and he just felt that he
would have very much less to contend against than the brother of
whom Mrs. Chester spoke
"Thank you for telling me about your brother Mrs. Chester," he
said. "It makes me feel more as if things would turn out well.
Won't you come over soon and see us? Mother is always glad to see
"Thank you, Frank; I shall certainly do so. I hope I shall not
make you late to school."
"Oh, no; I started half an hour early this morning."
Frank had hardly left Mrs. Chester when he heard a quick step
behind him. Turning round, he perceived that it was Mr. Rathburn,
"I hurried to come up with you, Frank," he said, smiling. "I
understand that I am to lose you from school."
"Yes, sir," answered Frank. "I am very sorry to leave, for I am
very much interested in my studies; but I suppose, sir, you have
heard what calls me away."
"Your father has made up his mind to enlist."
"And you are to superintend the farm in his absence?"
"Yes, sir. I hope you do not think me presumptuous in undertaking
such a responsibility?"
He looked up eagerly into Mr. Rathburn's face, for he had a great
respect for his judgment. But he saw nothing to discourage him.
On the contrary, he read cordial sympathy and approval.
"Far from it," answered the teacher, with emphasis. "I think you
deserving of great commendation, especially if, as I have heard,
the plan originated with you, and was by you suggested to your
The teacher held out his hand kindly. "It was only what I should
have expected of you," he said. "I have not forgotten your essay.
I am glad to see that you not only have right ideas of duty, but
have, what is rarer, the courage and self-denial to put them in
These words gave Frank much pleasure, and his face lighted up.
"Shall you feel obliged to give up your studies entirely?" asked
"I think I shall be able to study some in the evening."
"If I can be of any assistance to you in any way, don't hesitate
to apply. If you should find any stumbling-blocks in your
lessons, I may be able to help you over them."
By this time they had come within sight of the schoolhouse.
"There comes the young farmer," said John Haynes, in a tone which
was only subdued lest the teacher should hear him, for he had no
disposition to incur another public rebuke.
A few minutes later, when Frank was quietly seated at his desk, a
paper was thrown from behind, lighting upon his Virgil, which lay
open before him. There appeared to be writing upon it, and with
some curiosity he opened and read the following:
"What's the price of turnips?"
It was quite unnecessary to inquire into the authorship. He felt
confident it was written by John Haynes. The latter, of course,
intended it as an insult, but Frank did not feel much disturbed.
As long as his conduct was approved by such persons as his
teacher and Mrs. Chester, he felt he could safely disregard the
taunts and criticisms of others. He therefore quietly let the
paper drop to the floor, and kept on with his lesson.
John Haynes perceived that he had failed in his benevolent
purpose of disturbing Frank's tranquillity, and this, I am sorry
to say, only increased the dislike he felt for him. Nothing is so
unreasonable as anger, nothing so hard to appease. John even felt
disposed to regard as an insult the disposition which Frank had
made of his insulting query.
"The young clodhopper's on his dignity," he muttered to himself.
"Well, wait a few months, and see if he won't sing a different
Just then John's class was called up, and his dislike to Frank
was not diminished by the superiority of his recitation. The
latter, undisturbed by John's feelings, did not give a thought to
him, but reflected with a touch of pain that this must be his
last Latin recitation in school for a long time to come.
CHAPTER IX. THE LAST EVENING AT HOME
Three weeks passed quickly. October had already reached its
middle point. The glory of the Indian summer was close at hand.
Too quickly the days fled for the little family at the farm, for
they knew that each brought nearer the parting of which they
could not bear to think.
Jacob Carter, who had been sent for to do the heavy work on the
farm, had arrived. He was a man of forty, stout and able to work,
but had enjoyed few opportunities of cultivating his mind. Though
a faithful laborer, he was destitute of the energy and ambition
which might ere this have placed him in charge of a farm of his
own. In New England few arrive at his age without achieving some
position more desirable and independent than that of farm
laborer. However, he looked pleasant and good-natured, and Mr.
Frost accounted himself fortunate in securing his services.
The harvest had been got in, and during the winter months there
would not be so much to do as before. Jacob, therefore, "hired
out" for a smaller compensation, to be increased when the spring
work came in.
Frank had not been idle. He had accompanied his father about the
farm, and received as much practical instruction in the art of
farming as the time would admit. He was naturally a quick
learner, and now felt impelled by a double motive to prepare
himself as well as possible to assume his new responsibilities.
His first motive was, of course, to make up his father's loss to
the family, as far as it was possible for him to do so, but he
was also desirous of showing Mrs. Roxana Mason and other
ill-boding prophets that they had underrated his abilities.
The time came when Mr. Frost felt that he must leave his family.
He had enlisted from preference in an old regiment, already in
Virginia, some members of which had gone from Rossville. A number
of recruits were to be forwarded to the camp on a certain day,
and that day was now close at hand.
Let me introduce the reader to the farmhouse on the last evening
for many months when they would be able to be together. They were
all assembled about the fireplace. Mr. Frost sat in an armchair,
holding Charlie in his lap--the privileged place of the youngest.
Alice, with the air of a young woman, sat demurely by her
father's side on a cricket, while Maggie stood beside him, with
one hand resting on his knee. Frank sat quietly beside his
mother, as if already occupying the place which he was in future
to hold as her counselor and protector.
Frank and his mother looked sober. They had not realized fully
until this evening what it would be to part with the husband and
father--how constantly they would miss him at the family meal and
in the evening circle. Then there was the dreadful uncertainty of
war. He might never return, or, if spared for that, it might be
with broken constitution or the loss of a limb.
"If it hadn't been for me," Frank could not help thinking,
"father would not now be going away. He would have stayed at
home, and I could still go to school. It would have made a great
difference to us, and the loss of one man could not affect the
A moment after his conscience rebuked him for harboring so
selfish a thought.
"The country needs him more even than we do," he said to himself.
"It will be a hard trial to have him go, but it is our duty."
"Will my little Charlie miss me when I am gone?" asked Mr. Frost
of the chubby-faced boy who sat with great, round eyes peering
into the fire, as if he were deeply engaged in thought.
"Won't you take me with you, papa?" asked Charlie.
"What could you do if you were out there, my little boy?" asked
the father, smiling.
"I'd shoot great big rebel with my gun," said Charlie, waxing
"Your gun's only a wooden one," said Maggie, with an air of
superior knowledge. "You couldn't kill a rebel with that."
"I'd kill 'em some," persisted Charlie earnestly, evidently
believing that a wooden gun differed from others not in kind, but
"But suppose the rebels should fire at you," said Frank, amused.
"What would you do then, Charlie?"
Charlie looked into the fire thoughtfully for a moment, as if
this contingency had not presented itself to his mind until now.
Suddenly his face brightened up, and he answered. "I'd run away
just as fast as I could."
All laughed at this, and Frank said: "But that wouldn't be acting
like a brave soldier, Charlie. You ought to stay and make the
"I wouldn't want to stay and be shooted," said Charlie
"There are many older than Charlie," said Mr. Frost, smiling,
"who would doubtless sympathize entirely with him in his
objection to being shooted, though they might not be quite so
ready to make confession as he has shown himself. I suppose you
have heard the couplet:
" 'He who fights and runs away
May live to fight another day.' "
"Pray don't speak about shooting," said Mrs. Frost, with a
shudder. "It makes me feel nervous."
"And to-night we should only admit pleasant thoughts," said her
husband. "Who is going to write me letters when I am gone?"
"I'll write to you, father," said Alice.
"And so will I," said Maggie.
"I, too," chimed in Charlie.
"Then, if you have so many correspondents already engaged, you
will hardly want to hear from Frank and myself," said his wife,
"The more the better. I suspect I shall find letters more welcome
than anything else. You must also send me papers regularly. I
shall have many hours that will pass heavily unless I have
something to read."
"I'll mail you Harper's Weekly regularly, shall I, father?" asked
"Yes, I shall be glad enough to see it. Then, there is one good
thing about papers--after enjoying them myself, I can pass them
round to others. There are many privations that I must make up my
mind to, but I shall endeavor to make camp-life as pleasant as
possible to myself and others."
"I wish you were going out as an officer," said Mrs. Frost. "You
would have more indulgences."
"Very probably I should. But I don't feel inclined to wish myself
better off than others. I am: willing to serve my country in any
capacity in which I can be of use. Thank Heaven, I am pretty
strong and healthy, and better fitted than many to encounter the
fatigues and exposures which are the lot of the private."
"How early must you start to-morrow, father?" inquired Frank.
"By daylight. I must be in Boston by nine o'clock, and you know
it is a five-mile ride to the depot. I shall want you to carry me
"Will there be room for me?" asked Mrs. Frost. "I want to see the
last of you."
"I hope you won't do that for a long time to come," said Mr.
"You know what I mean, Henry."
"Oh, yes, there will be room. At any rate, we will make room for
you. And now it seems to me it is time for these little folks to
go to bed. Charlie finds it hard work to keep his eyes open."
"Oh, papa, papa, not yet, not yet," pleaded the children; and
with the thought that it might be many a long day before he saw
their sweet young faces again, the father suffered them to have
After the children had gone to bed Frank and his father and
mother sat up for a long time. Each felt that there was much to
be said, but no one of them felt like saying much then. Thoughts
of the approaching separation swallowed up all others. The
thought kept recurring that to-morrow would see them many miles
apart, and that many a long to-morrow must pass before they would
again be gathered around the fire.
"Frank," said his father, at length, "I have deposited in the
Brandon Bank four hundred dollars, about half of which I have
realized from crops sold this season. This you will draw upon as
you have need, for grocery bills, to pay Jacob, etc. For present
purposes I will hand you fifty dollars, which I advise you to put
under your mother's care."
As he finished speaking, Mr. Frost drew from his pocketbook a
roll of bills and handed them to Frank.
Frank opened his portemonnaie and deposited the money therein.
He had never before so large a sum of money in his possession,
and although he knew it was not to be spent for his own
benefit--at least, no considerable part of it--he felt a sense of
importance and even wealth in being the custodian of so much
money. He felt that his father had confidence in him, and that he
was in truth going to be his representative.
"A part of the money which I have in the bank," continued his
father, "has been saved up toward the payment of the mortgage on
"When does it come due, father?"
"On the first of July of next year."
"But you won't be prepared to meet it at that time?"
"No, but undoubtedly Squire Haynes will be willing to renew it. I
always pay the interest promptly, and he knows it is secured by
the farm, and therefore a safe investment. By the way, I had
nearly forgotten to say that there will be some interest due on
the first of January. Of course, you are authorized to pay it
just as if you were myself."
"How much will it be?"
"Twenty-four dollars--that is, six months' interest at six per
cent. on eight hundred dollars."
"I wish the farm were free from encumbrance," said Frank.
"So do I; and if Providence favors me it shall be before many
years are past. But in farming one can't expect to lay by money
quite as fast as in some other employments."
The old clock in the corner here struck eleven.
"We mustn't keep you up too late the last night, Henry," said
Mrs. Frost. "You will need a good night's sleep to carry you
Neither of the three closed their eyes early that night. Thoughts
of the morrow were naturally in their minds. At last all was
still. Sleep--God's beneficent messenger--wrapped their senses in
oblivion, and the cares and anxieties of the morrow were for a
CHAPTER X. LITTLE POMP
There was a hurried good-by at the depot.
"Kiss the children for me, Mary," said her husband.
"You will write very soon?" pleaded Mrs. Frost.
"At the very first opportunity."
"All aboard!" shouted the conductor.
With a shrill scream the locomotive started.
Frank and his mother stood on the platform watching the receding
train till it was quite out of sight, and then in silence our
young hero assisted his mother into the carryall and turned the
horse's head homeward.
It was one of those quiet October mornings, when the air is soft
and balmy as if a June day had found its way by mistake into the
heart of autumn. The road wound partly through the woods. The
leaves were still green and abundant. Only one or two showed
signs of the coming change, which in the course of a few weeks
must leave them bare and leafless.
"What a beautiful day!" said Frank, speaking the words almost
"Beautiful indeed!" responded his mother. "On such a day as this
the world seems too lovely for war and warlike passions to be
permitted to enter it. When men might be so happy, why need they
stain their hands with each other's blood?"
Frank was unprepared for an answer. He knew that it was his
father's departure which led his mother to speak thus. He wished
to divert her mind, if possible.
Circumstances favored his design.
They had accomplished perhaps three-quarters of the distance home
when, as they were passing a small one-story building by the
roadside, a shriek of pain was heard, and a little black boy came
running out of the house, screaming in affright: "Mammy's done
killed herself. She's mos' dead!"
He ran out to the road and looked up at Mrs. Frost, as if to
"That's Chloe's child," said Mrs. Frost. "Stop the horse, Frank;
I'll get out and see what has happened."
Chloe, as Frank very well knew, was a colored woman, who until a
few months since had been a slave in Virginia. Finally she had
seized a favorable opportunity, and taking the only child which
the cruel slave system had left her, for the rest had been sold
South, succeeded in making her way into Pennsylvania. Chance had
directed her to Rossville, where she had been permitted to
occupy, rent free, an old shanty which for some years previous
had been uninhabited. Here she had supported herself by taking in
washing and ironing. This had been her special work on the