Part 4 out of 5
"Very well. Haynes, you are trying to stand too upright. You must
not bend backward. All, incline your bodies a little forward.
Frank Ingalls is standing correctly."
"I don't think that's very soldierly," said John Haynes, who felt
mortified at being corrected, having flattered himself that he
was right and the rest were wrong.
"A soldier shouldn't be round-shouldered, or have a slouching
gait," said the instructor quietly; "but you will find when you
come to march that the opposite extreme is attended with great
inconvenience and discomfort. Until then you must depend upon my
Mr. Morton ran his eye along the line, and observed that most of
the boys were troubled about their arms. Some allowed them to
hang in stiff rigidity by their sides. One, even, had his clasped
behind his back., Others let theirs dangle loosely, swinging now
hither, now thither.
He commented upon these errors, and added, "Let your arms hang
naturally, with the elbows near the body, the palm of the hand a
little turned to the front, the little finger behind the seam of
the pantaloons. This you will find important when you come to
drill with muskets. You will find that it will economize space by
preventing your occupying more room than is necessary. Frank,
will you show Sam Rivers and John Haynes how to hold their
"You needn't trouble yourself," said John haughtily, but in too
low a voice, as he supposed, for Mr. Morton to hear. "I don't
want a clodhopper to teach me."
Frank's face flushed slightly, and without a word he passed John
and occupied himself with showing Sam Rivers, who proved more
"No talking in the ranks!" said Mr. Morton, in a tone of
authority. "If any boy wishes to ask any explanation of me he may
do so, but it is a breach of discipline to speak to each other."
"My next order will be, 'Faces to the front!' he resumed, after a
pause. "Nothing looks worse than to see a file of men with heads
turned in various directions. The eyes should be fixed straight
before you, striking the ground at about fifteen paces forward."
It required some time to have this direction properly carried
out. Half an hour had now passed, and some of the boys showed
signs of weariness.
"I will now give you a little, breathing-spell for ten minutes,"
said Mr. Morton. "After this we will resume our exercises.'
The boys stretched their limbs, and began to converse in an
animated strain about the lesson which they had just received.
At the expiration of ten minutes the lesson was resumed, and some
additional directions were given.
It will not be necessary for us to follow the boys during the
remainder of the lesson. Most of them made very creditable
progress, and the line presented quite a different appearance at
the end of the exercise from what it had at the commencement.
"I shall be prepared to give you a second lesson on Saturday
afternoon," announced Mr. Morton. "In the meantime it will be
well for you to remember what I have said, and if you should feel
inclined to practice by yourselves, it will no doubt make your
progress more rapid."
These remarks were followed by a clapping of hands on the part of
the boys--a demonstration of applause which Mr. Morton
acknowledged by a bow and a smile.
"Well, how do you like it?" asked Frank Frost of Robert Ingalls.
"Oh, it's bully fun!" returned Bob enthusiastically. "I feel like
a hero already."
"You're as much of one now, Bob, as you'll ever be," said Wilbur
"I wouldn't advise you to be a soldier," retorted Bob. "You're
too fat to run, and would be too frightened to fight."
"I certainly couldn't expect to keep up with those long legs of
yours, Bob," said Wilbur, laughing.
The boys dispersed in excellent humor, fully determined to
persevere in their military exercises.
CHAPTER XXV. ELECTION OF OFFICERS
For the six weeks following, Mr. Morton gave lessons twice a week
to the boys. At the third lesson they received their muskets, and
thenceforth drilled with them. A few, who had not been present at
the first two lessons, and were consequently ignorant of the
positions, Mr. Morton turned over to Frank, who proved an
efficient and competent instructor.
At the end of the twelfth lesson, Mr. Morton, after giving the
order "Rest!" addressed the boys as follows:
"Boys, we have now taken twelve lessons together. I have been
very much gratified by the rapid improvement which you have made,
and feel that it is due quite as much to your attention as to any
instructions of mine. I can say with truth that I have known
companies of grown men who have made less rapid progress than
"The time has now come when I feel that I can safely leave you to
yourselves, There are those among you who are competent to carry
on the work which I have commenced. It will be desirable for you
at once to form a company organization. As there are but fifty on
your muster-roll, being about half the usual number, you will not
require as many officers. I recommend the election of a captain,
first and second lieutenants, three sergeants and three
corporals. You have already become somewhat accustomed to company
drill, so that you will be able to go on by yourselves under the
guidance of your officers. If any doubtful questions should
arise, I shall always be happy to give you any information or
assistance in my power.
"And now, boys, I will bid you farewell in my capacity of
instructor, but I need not say that I shall continue to watch
with interest your progress in the military art."
Here Mr. Morton bowed, and sat down.
After the applause which followed his speech had subsided, there
was a silence and hush of expectation among the boys, after which
Charles Reynolds rose slowly, and, taking from the seat beside
him a package, advanced toward Mr. Morton and made a brief speech
of presentation, having been deputed by the boys to perform that
"MR MORTON: I stand here in behalf of the boys present, who wish
to express to you their sense of your kindness in giving them the
course of lessons which has just ended. We have taken up much of
your time, and no doubt have tried your patience more than once.
If we have improved, as you were kind enough to say, we feel that
it is principally owing to our good fortune in having so skilful
a teacher. We wish to present you some testimonial of the regard
which we have for you, and accordingly ask your acceptance of
this copy of 'Abbott's Life of Napoleon.' We should have been
glad to give you something more valuable, but we are sure you
will value the gift for other reasons than its cost."
Here Charles Reynolds sat down, and all eyes were turned toward
Mr. Morton. It was evident that he was taken by surprise. It was
equally evident that he was much gratified by this unexpected
token of regard.
He rose and with much feeling spoke as follows:
"My dear boys, for you must allow me to call you so, I can hardly
tell you how much pleasure your kind gift has afforded me. It
gives me the assurance, which indeed, I did not need, that you
are as much my friends as I am yours. The connection between us
has afforded me much pleasure and satisfaction. In training you
to duties which patriotism may hereafter devolve upon you, though
I pray Heaven that long before that time our terrible civil
strife may be at an end, I feel that I have helped you to do
something to show your loyal devotion to the country which we all
love and revere." Here there was loud applause. "If you were a
few years older, I doubt not that your efforts would be added to
those of your fathers and brothers who are now encountering the
perils and suffering the privations of war. And with a little
practise I am proud to say that you would not need to be ashamed
of the figure you would cut in the field.
"I have little more to say. I recognize a fitness in the
selection of the work which you have given me. Napoleon is
without doubt the greatest military genius which our modern age
has produced. Yet he lacked one very essential characteristic of
a good soldier. He was more devoted to his own selfish ends than
to the welfare of his country. I shall value your gift for the
good wishes that accompany it, and the recollection of this day
will be among my pleasantest memories."
Mr. Morton here withdrew in the midst of hearty applause.
When he had left the hall a temporary organization for business
purposes was at once effected. Wilbur Summerfield was placed in
the chair, and the meeting proceeded at once to an election of
For a week or two past there had been considerable private
canvassing among the boys. There were several who would like to
have been elected captain, and a number of others who, though not
aspiring so high, hoped to be first or second lieutenants. Among
the first class was John Haynes. Like many persons who are
unpopular, he did not seem to be at all aware of the extent of
But there was another weighty reason why the choice of the boys
would never have fallen upon him. Apart from his unpopularity, he
was incompetent for the posts to which he aspired. Probably there
were not ten boys in the company who were not more proficient in
drill than he. This was not owing to any want of natural
capacity, but to a feeling that he did not require much
instruction and a consequent lack of attention to the directions
of Mr. Morton. He had frequently been corrected in mistakes, but
always received the correction with sullenness and impatience. He
felt in his own mind that he was much better fitted to govern
than to obey, forgetting in his ambition that it is those only
who have first learned to obey who are best qualified to rule
Desirious of ingratiating himself with the boys, and so securing
their votes, he had been unusually amiable and generous during
the past week. At the previous lesson he had brought half a
bushel of apples, from which he had requested the boys to help
themselves freely. By this means he hoped to attain the object of
Squire Haynes, too, was interested in the success of his son.
"If they elect you captain, John," he promised, "I will furnish
you money enough to buy a handsome sash and sword."
Besides John, there were several others who cherished secret
hopes of success. Among these were Charles Reynolds and Wilbur
Summerfield. As for Frank Frost, though he had thought little
about it, he could not help feeling that he was among those best
qualified for office, though he would have been quite content
with either of the three highest offices, or even with the post
of orderly sergeant.
Among those who had acquitted themselves with the greatest credit
was our old friend Dick Bumstead, whom we remember last as
concerned in rather a questionable adventure. Since that time his
general behavior had very much changed for the better. Before, he
had always shirked work when it was possible. Now he exhibited a
steadiness and industry which surprised no less than it gratified
This change was partly owing to his having given up some
companions who had done him no good, and, instead, sought the
society of Frank. The energy and manliness exhibited by his new
friend, and the sensible views which he took of life and duty,
had wrought quite a revolution in Dick's character. He began to
see that if he ever meant to accomplish anything he must begin
now. At Frank's instance he had given up smoking, and this cut
off one of the temptations which had assailed him. Gradually the
opinion entertained of Dick in the village as a ne'er-do-well was
modified, and he had come to be called as one of the steady and
reliable boys--a reputation not to, be lightly regarded.
In the present election Dick did not dream that he could have any
interest. While he had been interested in the lessons, and done
his best, he felt that his previous reputation would injure his
chance, and he had made up his mind that he should have to serve
in the ranks. This did not trouble him, for Dick, to his credit
be it said, was very free from jealousy, and had not a particle
of envy in his composition. He possessed so many good qualities
that it would have been a thousand pities if he had kept on in
his former course.
"You will bring in your votes for captain," said the chairman.
Tom Wheeler distributed slips of paper among the boys, and there
was forthwith a plentiful show of pencils.
"Are the votes all in?" inquired the chairman, a little later.
"If so, we will proceed to. count them."
There was a general hush of expectation while Wilbur Summerfield,
the chairman, and Robert Ingalls, the secretary of the meeting,
were counting the votes. John Haynes, was evidently nervous, and
fidgeted about, anxious to learn his fate.
At length the count was completed, and Wilbur, rising, announced
it as follows:
Whole number of votes...... 49
Necessary for a choice..... 25
Robert Ingalls.............. 2 votes
John Haynes................. 2 "
Wilbur Summerfield.......... 4 "
Moses Rogers................ 4 "
Charles Reynolds........... 10 "
Frank Frost................ 27 "
"Gentlemen, I have the pleasure of announcing that you have made
choice of Frank Frost as your captain."
Frank rose amid a general clapping of hands, and, with heightened
color but modest self-possession, spoke as follows "Boys, I thank
you very much for this proof of your confidence. All I can say is
that I will endeavor to deserve it. I shall no doubt make some
mistakes, but I feel sure that you will grant me your indulgence,
and not expect too much of my inexperience."
This speech was regarded with favor by all except John Haynes,
who would rather have had any one else elected, independent of
his own disappointment, which was great.
"You will now prepare your votes for first lieutenant," said the
It will be noticed that two votes were cast for John Haynes. One
of these was thrown by a competitor, who wished to give his vote
to some one who stood no possible chance of succeeding, and
accordingly selected John on account of his well-known
unpopularity. This vote, therefore, was far from being a
compliment. As for the other vote, John Haynes himself best knew
by whom it was cast.
The boys began to prepare their votes for first lieutenant.
John brightened up a little. He felt that it would be something
to gain this office. But when the result of the balloting was
announced it proved that he had but a single vote.
There were several scattering votes. The two prominent candidates
were Dick Bumstead, who received eight votes, and Charles
Reynolds, who received thirty-two, and was accordingly declared
No one was more surprised by this announcement than Dick. He felt
quite bewildered, not having the slightest expectation of being a
candidate. He was almost tempted to believe that the votes had
only been cast in jest.
But Dick was destined to a still greater surprise. At the next
vote, for second lieutenant, there were five scattering votes.
Then came ten for Wilbur Summerfield, and Richard Bumstead led
off with thirty-four, and was accordingly declared elected.
"Speech! speech!" exclaimed half a dozen, vociferously.
Dick looked a little confused, and tried to escape the call. But
the boys were determined to have him up, and he was finally
compelled to rise, looking and feeling rather awkward But his
natural good sense and straightforwardness came to his aid, and
he acquitted himself quite creditably.
This was Dick's speech:
"Boys, I don't know how to make speeches, and I s'pose you know
that as well as I do. I hardly knew who was meant when Richard
Bumstead's name was mentioned, having always been called Dick,
but if it means me, all I can say is, that I am very much obliged
to you for the unexpected honor. One reason why I did not expect
to be elected to any office was because I ain't as good a scholar
as most of you. I am sure there are a great many of you who would
make better officers than I, but I don't think there's any that
will try harder to do well than I shall."
Here Dick sat down, very much astonished to find that he had
actually made a speech. His speech was modest, and made a
favorable impression, as was shown by the noisy stamping of feet
and shouts of "Bully for you, Dick!" "You're a trump!" and other
terms in which boys are wont to signify their approbation.
Through all this John Haynes looked very much disgusted, and
seemed half-decided upon leaving the room. He had some curiosity,
however, to learn who would be elected to the subordinate
offices, and so remained. He had come into the room with the
determination not to accept anything below a lieutenancy, but now
made up his mind not to reject the post of orderly sergeant if it
should be offered to him. The following list of officers, however
will show that he was allowed no choice in the matter:
Captain, Frank Frost.
First Lieutenant, Charles Reynolds.
Second Lieutenant, Richard Bumstead.
Orderly Sergeant, Wilbur Summerfield.
Second Sergeant, Robert Ingalls.
Third Sergeant, Moses Rogers.
First Corporal, Tom Wheeler.
Second Corporal, Joseph Barry.
Third Corporal, Frank Ingalls.
The entire list of officers was now read and received with
applause. If there were some who were disappointed, they
acquiesced good-naturedly, with one exception.
When the applause had subsided, John Haynes rose and, in a voice
trembling with passion, said:
"Mr. Chairman, I wish to give notice to all present that I resign
my place as a member of this company. I don't choose to serve
under such officers as you have chosen to-day. I don't think they
are fit to have command."
Here there was a general chorus of hisses, drowning John's voice
completely. After glancing about him a moment in speechless fury,
he seized his hat, and left the room in indignant haste, slamming
the door after him.
"He's a mean fellow!" said Frank Ingalls. "I suppose he expected
to be captain."
"Shouldn't wonder," said Sam Rivers. "Anyhow, he's a fool to make
such a fuss about it. As for me," he added, with a mirthful
glance, "I am just as much disappointed as he is. When I came
here this afternoon I expected I should be elected captain, and
I'd got my speech all ready, but now I'm sorry that it will have
to be wasted."
There was a general burst of laughter, for Sam Rivers, whom
everybody liked for his good nature, was incorrigibly awkward,
and had made a larger number of blunders, probably, than any
other member of the company."
"Give us the speech, Sam," said Bob Ingalls.
"Yes, don't let it be wasted."
"Speech! speech!" cried Joseph Barry.
"Very well, gentlemen, if you desire it."
Sam drew from his pocket a blank piece of paper, and pretended to
read the following speech, which he made up on the spur of the
"Ahem! gentlemen," he commenced, in a pompous tone, assuming an
air of importance; "I am deeply indebted to you for this very
"Oh, very," said one of the boys near.
"I feel that you have done yourself credit in your selection."
Here there was a round of applause.
"I am sorry that some of you are still very awkward, but I hope
under my excellent discipline to make veterans of you in less
than no time."
"Good for you!"
"You cannot expect me to remain long with you, as I am now in the
line of promotion, and don't mean to stop short of a brigadier.
But as long as I am your captain I hope you will appreciate your
Sam's speech was followed by a chorus of laughter, in which he
joined heartily himself.
As for John's defection, nobody seemed to regret it much. It was
generally felt that the company would have no difficulty in
getting along without him.
CHAPTER XXVI. THE REBEL TRAP
ON the first of April Frank received the following letter from
his father. It was the more welcome because nearly a month had
elapsed since anything had been received, and the whole family
had become quite anxious:
"Dear Frank," the letter commenced, "you are no doubt feeling
anxious on account of my long silence. You will understand the
cause of it when I tell you that since the date of my last letter
I have been for a fortnight in the enemy's hands as a prisoner.
Fortunately, I have succeeded in effecting my escape. You will
naturally be interested to learn the particulars.
"Three weeks since, a lady occupying an estate about five miles
distant from our camp waited on our commanding officer and made
an urgent request to have a few soldiers detailed as a guard to
protect her and her property from molestation and loss. Our
colonel was not at first disposed to grant her request, but
finally acceded to it, rather reluctantly, declaring that it was
all nonsense. I was selected, with five other men, to serve as a
guard. Mrs. Roberts--for this was her name--appeared quite
satisfied to find her request granted, and drove slowly home
under our escort.
"On arriving, we found a mansion in the old Virginia style, low
in elevation, broad upon the ground, and with a piazza extending
along the front. Surrounding it was a good-sized plantation. At a
little distance from the house was a row of negro huts. These
were mostly vacant, the former occupants having secured their
freedom by taking refuge within our lines.
"As sergeant in command--you must know that I have been
promoted--I inquired of Mrs. Roberts what danger she apprehended.
Her answers were vague and unsatisfactory. However, she seemed
disposed to treat me very civilly, and at nine o'clock invited
the whole party into the house to partake of a little
refreshment. This invitation was very welcome to soldiers who had
not for months partaken of anything better than camp fare. It was
all the more acceptable because outside a cold rain was falling,
and the mod was deep and miry.
"In the dining-room we found a plentiful meal spread, including
hot coffee, hot corn bread, bacon, and other viands. We were not,
however, destined to take our supper in peace. As I was drinking
my second cup of coffee I thought I heard a noise outside, and
remarked it to Mrs. Roberts.
" 'It is only the wind, sergeant,' said she, indifferently.
"It was not long before I became convinced that it was something
more serious. I ordered my men to stand to their arms, in spite
of the urgent protestations of the old lady, and marched them out
upon the lawn, just in time to be confronted by twenty or thirty
men on horseback, clad in the rebel uniform.
"Resistance against such odds would have been only productive of
useless loss of life, and with my little force I was compelled to
surrender myself a prisoner.
"Of course, I no longer doubted that we were the victims of a
trick, and had been lured by Mrs. Roberts purposely to be made
prisoners. If I had had any doubts on the subject, her conduct
would have dissipated them. She received our captors with open
arms. They stepped into our places as guests, and the house was
thrown open to them. Our arms were taken from us, our hands
pinioned, and a scene of festivity ensued. A cask of wine was
brought up from the cellar, and the contents freely distributed
among the rebels, or gray backs, as we call them here.
"Once, as Mrs. Roberts passed through the little room where we
were confined, I said, 'Do you consider this honorable conduct,
madam, to lure us here by false representations, and then betray
us to our enemies?'
" 'Yes, I do!' said she hotly. 'What business have you to come
down here and lay waste our territory? There is no true Southern
woman but despises you heartily, and would do as much as I have,
and more, too. You've got my son a prisoner in one of your Yankee
prisons. When I heard that he was taken, I swore to be revenged,
and I have kept my word. I've got ten for one, though he's worth
a hundred such as you!'
"So saying, she swept out of the room, with a scornful look of
triumph in her eyes. The next day, as I afterward learned, she
sent word to our colonel that her house had been unexpectedly
attacked by a large party of the rebels, and that we had been
taken prisoners. Her complicity was suspected, but was not proved
till our return to the camp. Of course, a further guard, which
she asked for, to divert suspicion, was refused.
"Meanwhile we were carried some twenty miles across the river,
and confined in a building which had formerly been used as a
"The place was dark and gloomy. There were some dozen others who
shared our captivity. Here we had rather a doleful time. We were
supplied with food three times a day; but the supply was scanty,
and we had meat but once in two days. We gathered that it was
intended to send us to Richmond; but from day to day there was a
delay in doing so. We decided that our chance of escape would be
much better then than after we reached the rebel capital. We,
therefore, formed a plan for defeating the intentions of our
"Though the building assigned to us as a prison consisted of two
stories, we were confined in the lower part. This was more
favorable to our designs. During the night we busied ourselves in
loosening two of the planks of the flooring, so that we could
remove them at any time. Then lowering two of our number into the
cellar, we succeeded in removing enough of the stone foundation
to allow the escape of one man at a time through the aperture.
Our arrangements were hastened by the assignment of a particular
day on which we were to be transferred from our prison, and
conveyed to Richmond. Though we should have been glad to enter
the city under some circumstances, we did not feel very desirous
of going as prisoners of war.
"On the night selected we waited impatiently till midnight. Then,
as silently as possible, we removed the planking, and afterwards
the stones of the basement wall, and crept through one by one.
All this was effected so noiselessly that we were all out without
creating any alarm. We could hear the measured tramp of the
sentinel, as he paced up and down in front of the empty prison.
We pictured to ourselves his surprise when he discovered, the
next morning, that we escaped under his nose without his knowing
"I need not dwell upon the next twenty-four hours. The utmost
vigilance was required to elude the rebel pickets. At last, after
nearly twenty hours, during which we had nothing to eat, we
walked into camp, exhausted with hunger and fatigue, to the great
joy of our comrades from whom we had been absent a fortnight.
"On receiving information of the manner in which we had been
captured, our commanding officer at once despatched me with a
detachment of men to arrest Mrs. Roberts and her daughter. Her
surprise and dismay at seeing me whom she supposed safe in
Richmond were intense. She is still under arrest.
"I suppose our campaign will open as soon as the roads are dried
up. The mud in Virginia is much more formidable than at the
North, and presents an insuperable, perhaps I should say an
unfathomable, obstacle to active operations. I hope General Grant
will succeed in taking Vicksburg. The loss of that important
stronghold would be a great blow to the rebels.
"You ask me, in your last letter, whether I see much of the
contrabands. I have talked with a considerable number. One, a
very intelligent fellow, had been very much trusted by his
master, and had accompanied him to various parts of the South. I
asked him the question: 'Is it true that there are a considerable
number of slaves who would prefer to remain in their present
condition to becoming free?'
" 'Nebber see any such niggers, massa,' he answered, shaking his
head decisively. 'We all want to be free. My old massa treated me
kindly, but I'd a left him any minute to be my own man.'
"I hope the time will soon come, when, from Canada to the Gulf,
there will not be a single black who is not his own man. We in
the army are doing what we can, but we must be backed up by those
who stay at home. My own feeling is that slavery has received its
death-blow. It may continue to live for some years, but it has
fallen from its pomp and pride of place. It is tottering to its
fall. What shall be done with the negroes in the transition state
will be a problem for statesmen to consider. I don't think we
need fear the consequences of doing right, and on this subject
there can be no doubt of what is right; The apparent
insensibility and brutish ignorance which we find among some of
the slaves will wear away under happier influences.
"There is a little fellow of perhaps a dozen years who comes into
our camp and runs of errands and does little services for the
men. Yesterday morning he came to my tent, and with a grin, said
to me, 'De ol' man died last night.'
" 'What, your father?' I inquired in surprise.
" 'Yes, massa,' with another grin: 'Goin' to tote him off dis
"As he only lived a quarter of a mile off, I got permission to go
over to the house, or cabin, where Scip's father had lived.
"The outer door was open, and I entered without knocking. A woman
was bending over a washtub at the back part of the room. I looked
around me for the body, but could see no indication of anything
having happened out of the ordinary course.
"I thought it possible that Scip had deceived me, and accordingly
spoke to the woman, inquiring if she was Scip's mother.
"She replied in the affirmative.
" 'And where is his father?' I next inquired.
" 'Oh, he's done dead,' she said, continuing her washing.
" 'When did he die?'
" 'Las' night, massa.'
" 'And where is the body?'
" 'Toted off, massa, very first t'ing dis mornin'.'
"In spite of this case of apparent insensibility, the negro's
family attachments are quite as warm naturally as our own. They
have little reason, indeed, to mourn over the loss of a husband
or father, since, in most cases, it is the only portal to the
freedom which they covet. The separation of families, too, tends,
of course, to weaken family ties. While I write these words I
cannot help recalling our own happy home, and longing for an
hour, if not more, of your society. I am glad that you find Mr.
Morton so agreeable an inmate. You ought to feel quite indebted
him for his assistance in your studies. I am glad you have formed
a boy's company. It is very desirable that the elements of
military science should be understood even by boys, since upon
them must soon devolve the defense of their country from any
blows that may be directed against her, whether by foes from
within or enemies from abroad.
"The coming season will be a busy one with you. When you receive
this letter it will be about time for you to begin to plow
whatever land is to be planted. As I suggested in my first letter
from camp, I should like you to devote some space-perhaps half an
acre-to the culture of onions. We find them very useful for
promoting health in the army. They are quite high on account of
the largely increased demand, so that it will be a good crop for
(Here followed some directions with regard to the spring
planting, which we omit, as not likely to interest our readers.)
The letter ended thus:
"It is nearly time for me to mail this letter, and it is already
much longer than I intended to write. May God keep you all in
health and happiness is the fervent wish of
"Your affectionate father,
The intelligence that their father had been a prisoner made quite
a sensation among the children. Charlie declared that Mrs.
Roberts was a wicked woman, and he was glad she was put in
prison--an expression of joy in which the rest fully
CHAPTER XXVII. POMP'S LIGHT INFANTRY TACTICS
Little Pomp continued to pursue his studies under Frank as a
teacher. By degrees his restlessness diminished, and, finding
Frank firm in exacting a certain amount of study before he would
dismiss him, he concluded that it was best to study in earnest,
and so obtain the courted freedom as speedily as possible. Frank
had provided for his use a small chair, which he had himself used
when at Pomp's age, but for this the little contraband showed no
great liking. He preferred to throw himself on a rug before the
open fire-place, and, curling up, not unlike a cat, began to pore
over his primer.
Frank often looked up from his own studies and looked down with
an amused glance at little Pomp's coal-back face and glistening
eyes riveted upon the book before him. There was no lack of
brightness or intelligence in the earnest face of his young
pupil. He seemed to be studying with all his might. In a
wonderfully short time he would uncoil himself, and, coming to
his teacher, would say, "I guess I can say it, Mass' Frank."
Finding how readily Pomp learned his lessons, Frank judiciously
lengthened them, so that, in two or three months, Pomp could read
words of one syllable with considerable ease, and promised very
soon to read as well as most boys of his age.
Frank also took considerable pains to cure Pomp of his
mischievous propensities, but this he found a more difficult task
than teaching him to read. Pomp had an innate love of fun which
seemed almost irrepressible, and his convictions of duty sat too
lightly upon him to interfere very seriously with its
gratification. One adventure into which he was led came near
having serious consequences.
Pomp, in common with other village boys of his age, had watched
with considerable interest the boys 'company, as they drilled
publicly or paraded through the main street, and he had conceived
a strong desire to get hold of a musket, to see if he, too, could
not go through with the manual.
Frank generally put his musket carefully away, only bringing it
out when it was needful. One morning, however, he had been out on
a hunting-expedition, and on his return left the musket in the
corner of the shed.
Pomp espied it when he entered the house, and resolved, if
possible, to take temporary possession of it after his lesson was
over. Having this in view, he worked with an uncommon degree of
industry, and in less time than usual had learned and said his
"Very well, Pomp," said his teacher approvingly. "You have worked
unusually well to-day. If you keep on you will make quite a
scholar some day."
'I's improvin', isn't I?" inquired Pomp, with an appearance of
"Yes, Pomp, you have improved rapidly. By and by you can teach
your mother how to read."
"She couldn't learn, Mass' Frank. She's poor ignorant nigger."
"You shouldn't speak so of your mother, Pomp. She's a good mother
to you, and works hard to earn money to support you."
"Yes, Mass' Frank," said Pomp, who was getting impatient to go.
"I guess I'll go home and help her."
Frank thought that what he had said was producing a good effect.
He did not know the secret of Pomp's haste.
Pomp left the room, and, proceeding to the wood-shed, hastily
possessed himself of the musket. In a stealthy manner he crept
with it through a field behind the house, until he got into the
He found it a hard tug to carry the gun, which was heavier than
those made at the present day. At length he reached an open space
in the woods, only a few rods from the road which led from the
farmhouse, past the shanty occupied by old Chloe. As this road
was not much traveled, Pomp felt pretty safe from discovery, and
accordingly here it was that he halted, and made preparations to
go through the manual.
"It begins dis yer way," said Pomp, after a little reflection.
Grasping the musket with one hand he called out in an important
" 'Tention, squab!"
For the benefit of the uninitiated it may be explained that Pomp
meant "Attention, squad!"
Pomp found it considerably easier to give the word of command
than to obey it. With some difficulty he succeeded in
accomplishing this movement, and proceeded with the manual, with
several original variations which would have astonished a
Meanwhile, though Pomp did not realize it, he was exposing
himself to considerable danger. The gun had been loaded with
buckshot in the morning, and the charge had not been withdrawn.
It seemed to be the lot of poor Mrs. Payson to suffer fright or
disaster whenever she encountered Pomp, and this memorable
afternoon was to make no exception to the rule.
"Cynthy Ann," she said to her daughter, in the afternoon, "I
guess I'll go and spend the arternoon with Mis' Forbes. I hain't
been to see her for nigh a month, and I calc'late she'll be glad
to see me. Besides, she ginerally bakes Thursdays, an' mos'
likely she'll have some hot gingerbread. I'm partic'larly fond of
gingerbread, an' she does know how to make it about the best of
anybody I know on. You needn't wait supper for me, Cynthy Ann,
for ef I don't find Mis' Forbes to home I'll go on to Mis'
Mrs. Payson put on her cloak and hood, and, armed with the
work-bag and the invariable blue cotton umbrella, sallied out.
Mrs. Forbes lived at the distance of a mile, but Mrs. Payson was
a good walker for a woman of her age, and less than half an hour
brought her to the door of the brown farmhouse in which Mrs.
She knocked on the door with the handle of her umbrella. The
summons was answered by a girl of twelve.
"How dy do, Betsy?" said Mrs. Payson. "Is your ma'am to home?"
"No, she's gone over to Webbington to spend two or three days
with Aunt Prudence."
"Then she won't be home to tea," said Mrs. Payson, considerably
"No, ma'am, I don't expect her before to-morrow."
"Well, I declare for't, I am disapp'inted," said the old lady
regretfully. "I've walked a mile on puppus to see her. I'm most
"Won't you step in and sit down?"
"Well, I don't keer ef I do a few minutes. I feel like to drop.
Do you do the cooking while you maam's gone?"
"No, she baked up enough to last before she went away."
"You hain't got any gingerbread in the house?" asked Mrs. Payson,
with subdued eagerness. "I always did say Mis' Forbes beat the
world at makin' gingerbread."
"I'm very sorry, Mrs. Payson, but we ate the last for supper last
"Oh, dear!" sighed the old lady, "I feel sort of faint--kinder
gone at the stomach. I didn't have no appetite at dinner, and I
s'pose it don't agree with me walkin' so fur on an empty
"Couldn't you eat a piece of pie?" asked Betsy sympathizingly.
"Well," said the old lady reflectively, "I don't know but I could
eat jest a bite. But you needn't trouble yourself. I hate to give
trouble to anybody."
"Oh, it won't be any trouble," said Betsy cheerfully.
"And while you're about it," added Mrs. Payson, "ef you have got
any of that cider you give me when I was here before, I don't
know but I could worry down a little of it."
"Yes, we've got plenty. I'll bring it in with the pie."
"Well," murmured the old lady, "I'll get something for my
trouble. I guess I'll go and take supper at Mis' Frost's
Betsy brought in a slice of apple and one of pumpkin pie, and set
them down before the old lady. In addition she brought a generous
mug of cider.
The old lady's eyes brightened, as she saw this substantial
"You're a good gal, Betsy," she said in the overflow of her
emotions. "I was saying to my darter yesterday that I wish all
the gals round here was as good and considerate as you be."
"Oh, no, Mrs. Payson," said Betsy modestly. "I ain't any better
than girls generally."
"Yes, you be. There's my granddarter, Jane, ain't so respectful
as she'd arter be to her old grandma'am. I often tell her that
when she gets to have children of her own, she'll know what tis
to be a pilgrim an' a sojourner on the arth without nobody to
consider her feelin's. Your cider is putty good." Here the old
lady took a large draft, and set down the mug with a sigh of
satisfaction. "It's jest the thing to take when a body's tired.
It goes to the right spot. Cynthy Ann's husband didn't have none
made this year. I wonder ef your ma would sell a quart or two of
"You can have it and welcome, Mrs. Payson."
"Can I jest as well as not? Well, that's kind. But I didn't
expect you to give it to me."
"Oh, we have got plenty."
"I dunno how I can carry it home," said the lady hesitatingly. "I
wonder ef some of your folks won't be going up our way within a
day or two."
"We will send it. I guess father'll be going up to-morrow."
"Then ef you can spare it you might send round a gallon, an' ef
there's anything to pay I'll pay for it."
This little business arrangement being satisfactorily adjusted,
and the pie consumed, Mrs. Payson got up and said she must be
"I'm afraid you haven't got rested yet, Mrs. Payson."
"I ain't hardly," was the reply; "but I guess I shall stop on the
way at Mis' Frost's. Tell your ma I'll come up an' see her ag'in
"An' you won't forget to send over that cider?"
"I'm ashamed to trouble ye, but their ain't anybody over to our
house that I can send. There's Tom grudges doin' anything for his
old grandma'am. A'ter all that I do for him, too! Good-by!"
The old lady set out on her way to Mrs. Frost's.
Her road lay through the woods, where an unforeseen danger lay in
wait for her.
Meanwhile Pomp was pursuing military science under difficulties.
The weight of the musket made it very awkward for him to handle.
Several times he got out of patience with it, and apostrophized
it in terms far from complimentary. At last, in one of his
awkward maneuvers, he accidentally pulled the trigger. Instantly
there was a loud report, followed by a piercing shriek from the
road. The charge had entered old Mrs. Payson's umbrella and
knocked it out of her hand. The old lady fancied herself hit, and
fell backward, kicking energetically, and screaming "murder" at
the top of her lungs.
The musket had done double execution. It was too heavily loaded,
and as it went off, 'kicked,' leaving Pomp, about as scared as
the old lady, sprawling on the ground.
Henry Morton was only a few rods off when he heard the explosion.
He at once ran to the old lady's assistance, fancying her hurt.
She shrieked the louder on his approach, imagining that he was a
robber, and had fired at her.
"Go away!" she cried, in affright. "I ain't got any money. I'm a
poor, destitute widder!"
"What do you take me for?" inquired Mr. Morton, somewhat amazed
at this mode of address.
"Ain't you a highwayman?" asked the old lady.
"If you look at me close I think you will be able to answer that
question for yourself."
The old lady cautiously rose to a sitting posture, and,
mechanically adjusting her spectacles, took a good look at the
"Why, I declare for it, ef it ain't Mr. Morton! I thought 'twas
you that fired at me."
"I hope you are not hurt," said Mr. Morton, finding a difficulty
in preserving his gravity.
"I dunno," said the old lady dubiously, pulling up her sleeve,
and examining her arm. "I don't see nothin'; but I expect I've
had some injury to my inards. I feel as ef I'd had a shock
somewhere. Do you think he'll fire again?" she asked, with a
"You need not feel alarmed," was the soothing reply. "It was no
doubt an accident."
Turning suddenly, he espied Pomp peering from behind a tree, with
eyes and mouth wide open. The little contraband essayed a hasty
flight; but Mr. Morton, by a masterly flank movement, came upon
him, and brought forward the captive kicking and struggling.
"Le' me go!" said Pomp. "I ain't done noffin'!"
"Didn't you fire a gun at this lady?"
"No," said Pomp boldly. "Wish I may be killed ef I did!"
"I know 'twas you--you--you imp!" exclaimed Mrs. Payson, in
violent indignation. "I seed you do it. You're the wust boy that
ever lived, and you'll be hung jest as sure as I stan' here!"
"How did it happen, Pomp?" asked Mr. Morton quietly.
"It jest shooted itself!" said Pomp, in whom the old lady's words
inspired a vague feeling of alarm. "I 'clare to gracious, Mass'
Morton, it did!"
"Didn't you have the gun in your hand, Pomp? Where did you get
"I jest borrered it of Mass' Frank, to play sojer a little
while," said Pomp reluctantly.
"Does he know that you have got it?"
"I 'clare I done forgot to tell him," said Pomp reluctantly.
"Will you promise never to touch it again?"
"Don't want to!" ejaculated Pomp, adding spitefully, "He kick me
"I'm glad on't," said the old lady emphatically, with a grim air
of satisfaction. "That'll l'arn you not to fire it off at your
elders ag'in. I've a great mind to box your ears, and sarve you
Mrs. Payson advanced, to effect her purpose; but Pomp was wary,
and, adroitly freeing himself from Mr. Morton's grasp, butted at
the old lady with such force that she would have fallen backward
but for the timely assistance of Mr. Morton, who sprang to her
side. Her bag fell to the ground, and she struggled to regain her
"Oh!" groaned the old lady, gasping for breath, "he's mos'
knocked the breath out of me. I sha'n't live long a'ter such a
shock. I'm achin' all over. Why did you let him do it?"
"He was too quick for me, Mrs. Payson. I hope you feel better."
"I dunno as I shall ever feel any better," said Mrs. Payson
gloomily. "If Cynthy Ann only knew how her poor old ma'am had
been treated! I dunno as I shall live to get home!"
"Oh, yes, you will," said the young man cheerfully, "and live to
see a good many years more. Would you like to have me attend you
"I ain't got strength to go so fur," said Mrs. Payson, who had
not given up her plan of taking tea out. "I guess I could go as
fur as Mis' Frost's, an' mebbe some on you will tackle up an'
carry me back to Cynthy Ann's a'ter tea."
Arrived at the farmhouse, Mrs. Payson indulged in a long detail
of grievances; but it was observed that they did not materially
affect her appetite at tea.
The offending musket was found by Frank under a tree, where Pomp
had dropped it when it went off.
CHAPTER XXVIII. JOHN HAYNES HAS A NARROW ESCAPE
John Haynes found the time hang heavily upon his hand after his
withdrawal from the boys' volunteer company. All the boys with
whom he had been accustomed to associate belonged to it, and in
their interest could talk of nothing else. To him, on the
contrary, it was a disagreeable subject. In the pleasant spring
days the company came out twice a week, and went through company
drill on the Common, under the command of Frank, or Captain
Frost, as he was now called.
Had Frank shown himself incompetent, and made himself ridiculous
by blunders, it would have afforded John satisfaction. But Frank,
thorough in all things, had so carefully prepared himself for his
duties that he never made a mistake, and always acquitted himself
so creditably and with such entire self-possession, that his
praises were in every mouth.
Dick Bumstead, too, manifested an ambition to fill his second
lieutenancy, to which, so much to his own surprise, he had been
elected, in such a manner as to justify the company in their
choice. In this he fully succeeded. He had become quite a
different boy from what he was when we first made his
acquaintance. He had learned to respect himself, and perceived
with great satisfaction that he was generally respected by the
boys. He no longer attempted to shirk his work in the shop, and
his father now spoke of him with complacency, instead of
complaint as formerly.
"Yes," said he one day, "Dick's a good boy. He was always smart,
but rather fly-a-way. I couldn't place any dependence upon him
once, but it is not so now. I couldn't wish for a better boy. I
don't know what has come over him, but I hope it'll last."
Dick happened to overhear his father speaking thus to a neighbor,
and he only determined, with a commendable feeling of pride, that
the change that had given his father so much pleasure should
last. It does a boy good to know that his efforts are
appreciated. In this case it had a happy effect upon Dick, who, I
am glad to say, kept his resolution.
It has been mentioned that John was the possessor of a boat.
Finding one great source of amusement cut off, and being left
very much to himself, he fell back upon this, and nearly every
pleasant afternoon he might be seen rowing on the river above the
dam. He was obliged to confine himself to this part of the river,
since, in the part below the dam, the water was too shallow.
There is one great drawback, however, upon the pleasure of owning
a rowboat. It is tiresome to row single-handed after a time. So
John found it, and, not being overfond of active exertion, he was
beginning to get weary of this kind of amusement when all at once
a new plan was suggested to him. This was, to rig up a mast and
sail, and thus obviate the necessity of rowing.
No sooner had this plan suggested itself than he hastened to put
it into execution. His boat was large enough to bear a small
mast, so there was no difficulty on that head. He engaged the
village carpenter to effect the desired change. He did not choose
to consult his father on the subject, fearing that he might make
some objection either on score of safety or expense, while he had
made up his mind to have his own way.
When it was finished, and the boat with its slender mast and
white sail floated gently on the, quiet bosom of the stream,
John's satisfaction was unbounded.
"You've got a pretty boat," said Mr. Plane, the carpenter. "I
suppose you know how to manage it?" he added inquiringly.
"Yes," answered John carelessly, "I've been in a sailboat before
Mr. Plane's doubts were set at rest by John's confident manner,
and he suppressed the caution which he had intended to give him.
It made little difference, however, for John was headstrong, and
would have been pretty certain to disregard whatever he might
It was true that this was not the first time John had been in a
sailboat; but if not the first, it was only the second. The first
occasion had been three years previous, and at that time he had
had nothing to do with the management of the boat--a very
important matter. It was in John's nature to be over-confident,
and he thought he understood merely from observation exactly how
a boat ought to be managed. As we shall see, he found out his
The first day after his boat was ready John was greatly
disappointed that there was no wind. The next day, as if to make
up for it, the wind was very strong. Had John possessed a
particle of prudence he would have seen that it was no day to
venture out in a sailboat. But he was not in the habit of curbing
his impatience, and he determined that he would not wait till
another day. He declared that it was a mere "capful of wind," and
would be all the better for the purpose.
"It's a tip-top wind. Won't it make my boat scud," he said to
himself exultantly, as be took his place, and pushed off from
Henry Morton had been out on a walk, and from the summit of a
little hill near the river-bank espied John pushing off in his
"He'll be sure to capsize," thought the young man in alarm. "Even
if he is used to a sailboat he is very imprudent to put out in
such a wind; I will hurry down and save him if I can."
He hurried to the bank of the river, reaching it out of breath.
John was by this time some distance out. The wind had carried him
along finely, the boat scudding, as he expressed it. He was
congratulating himself on the success of his trial trip, when all
at once a flaw struck the boat. Not being a skillful boatman he
was wholly unprepared for it, and the boat upset.
Struggling in terror and confusion, John struck out for the
shore. But he was not much of a swimmer, and the suddenness of
the accident had unnerved him, and deprived him of his
self-possession. The current of the river was rapid, and he would
inevitably have drowned but for the opportune assistance of Mr.
The young man had no sooner seen the boat capsize, than he flung
off his coat and boots, and, plunging into the river, swam
vigorously toward the imperiled boy.
Luckily for John, Mr. Morton was, though of slight frame,
muscular, and an admirable swimmer. He reached him just as John's
strokes were becoming feebler and feebler; he was about to give
up his unequal struggle with the waves.
"Take hold of me," he said. "Have courage, and I will save you."
John seized him with the firm grip of a drowning person, and
nearly prevented him from striking out. But Mr. Morton's strength
served him in good stead; and, notwithstanding the heavy burden,
he succeeded in reaching the bank in safety, though with much
John no sooner reached the bank than he fainted away. The great
danger which he had just escaped, added to his own efforts, had
proved too much for him.
Mr. Morton, fortunately knew how to act in such emergencies. By
the use of the proper remedies, he was fortunately brought to
himself, and his preserver offered to accompany him home. John
still felt giddy, and was glad to accept Mr. Morton's offer. He
knew that his father would be angry with him for having the boat
fitted up without his knowledge, especially as he had directed
Mr. Plane to charge it to his father's account. Supposing that
Squire Haynes approved, the carpenter made no objections to doing
so. But even the apprehension of his father's anger was swallowed
up by the thought of the great peril from which he had just
escaped, and the discomfort of the wet clothes which he had on.
Mr. Morton, too, was completely wet through, with the exception
of his coat, and but for John's apparent inability to go home
alone, would at once have returned to his boarding-house to
exchange his wet clothes for dry ones.
It so happened that Squire Haynes was sitting at a front window,
and saw Mr. Morton and his son as they entered the gate and came
up the graveled walk. He had never met Mr. Morton, and was
surprised now at seeing him in John's company. He had conceived a
feeling of dislike to the young man, for which he could not
account, while at the same time he felt a strong curiosity to
know more of him.
When they came nearer, he perceived the drenched garments, and
went to the door himself to admit them.
"What's the matter, John?" he demanded hastily, with a
contraction of the eyebrows.
"I'm wet!" said John shortly.
"It is easy to see that. But how came you so wet?"
"I've been in the river," answered John, who did not seem
disposed to volunteer any particulars of his adventure.
"How came you there?"
"Your son's boat capsized," explained Mr. Morton; "and, as you
will judge from my appearance, I jumped in after him. I should
advise him to change his clothing, or he will be likely to take
Squire Haynes looked puzzled.
"I don't see how a large rowboat like his could capsize," he
said; "he must have been very careless."
"It was a sailboat," explained John, rather reluctantly.
"A sailboat! Whose?"
"I don't understand at all."
"I had a mast put in, and a sail rigged up, two or three days
since," said John, compelled at last to explain.
"Why did you do this without my permission?" demanded the squire
"Perhaps," said Mr. Morton quietly, "it will be better to
postpone inquiries until your son has changed his clothes.
Squire Haynes, though somewhat irritated by this interference,
bethought himself that it would be churlish not to thank his
"I am indebted to you, sir," he said, "for your agency in saving
the life of this rash boy. I regret that you should have got
"I shall probably experience nothing more than temporary
"You have been some months in the village, I believe, Mr. Morton.
I trust you will call at an early day, and enable me to follow up
the chance which has made us acquainted."
"I seldom make calls," said Mr. Morton, in a distant tone. "Yet,"
added he, after a pause, "I may have occasion to accept your
invitation some day. Good morning, sir."
"Good morning," returned the squire, looking after him with an
expression of perplexity.
"He boards at the Frosts', doesn't he, John?" asked Squire
Haynes, turning to his son.
"There's something in his face that seems familiar," mused the
squire absently. "He reminds me of somebody, though I can't
It was not long before the squire's memory was refreshed, and he
obtained clearer information respecting the young man, and the
errand which had brought him to Rossville. When that information
came, it was so far from pleasing that he would willingly have
postponed it indefinitely.
CHAPTER XXIX. MR. MORTON'S STORY
The planting-season was over. For a month Frank had worked
industriously, in conjunction with Jacob Carter. His father had
sent him directions so full and minute, that he was not often
obliged to call upon Farmer Maynard for advice. The old farmer
proved to be very kind and obliging. Jacob, too, was capable and
faithful, so that the farmwork went on as well probably as if Mr.
Frost had been at home.
One evening toward the middle of June, Frank walked out into the
fields with Mr. Morton. The corn and potatoes were looking
finely. The garden vegetables were up, and to all appearance
doing well. Frank surveyed the scene with a feeling of natural
"Don't you think I would make a successful farmer, Mr. Morton?"
"Yes, Frank; and more than this, I think you will be likely to
succeed in any other vocation you may select."
"I am afraid you're flattering me, Mr. Morton."
"Such is not my intention, Frank, but I like to award praise
where I think it due. I have noticed in you a disposition to be
faithful to whatever responsibility is imposed upon you, and
wherever I see that I feel no hesitation in predicting a
"Thank you," said Frank, looking very much pleased with the
compliment. "I try to be faithful. I feel that father has trusted
me more than it is usual to trust boys of my age, and I want to
show myself worthy of his confidence."
"You are fortunate in having a father, Frank," said the young
man, with a shade of sadness in his voice. "My father died before
I was of your age."
"Do you remember him?" inquired Frank, with interest.
"I remember him well. He was always kind to me. I never remember
to have received a harsh word from him. It is because he was so
kind and indulgent to me that I feel the more incensed against a
man who took advantage of his confidence to defraud him, or,
rather, me, through him."
"You have never mentioned this before, Mr. Morton."
"No. I have left you all in ignorance of much of my history. This
morning, if it will interest you, I propose to take you into my
The eagerness with which Frank greeted this proposal showed that
for him the story would have no lack of interest.
"Let us sit down under this tree," said Henry Morton, pointing to
a horse-chestnut, whose dense foliage promised a pleasant shelter
from the sun's rays.
They threw themselves upon the grass, and he forthwith commenced
"My father was born in Boston, and, growing up, engaged in
mercantile pursuits. He was moderately successful, and finally
accumulated fifty thousand dollars. He would not have stopped
there, for he was at the time making money rapidly, but his
health became precarious, and his physician required him
absolutely to give up business. The seeds of consumption, which
probably had been lurking for years in his system, had begun to
show themselves unmistakably, and required immediate attention.
"By the advice of his physician he sailed for the West India
Islands, hoping that the climate might have a beneficial effect
upon him. At that time I was twelve years old, and an only child.
My mother had died some years before, so that I was left quite
alone in the world. I was sent for a time to Virginia, to my
mother's brother, who possessed a large plantation and numerous
slaves. Here I remained for six months. You will remember that
Aunt Chloe recognized me at first sight. You will not be
surprised at this when I tell you that she was my uncle's slave,
and that as a boy I was indebted to her for many a little favor
which she, being employed in the kitchen, was able to render me.
As I told you at the time, my real name is not Morton. It will
not be long before you understand the reason of my concealment.
"My father had a legal adviser, in whom he reposed a large
measure of confidence, though events showed him to be quite
unworthy of it. On leaving Boston he divided his property, which
had been converted into money, into two equal portions. One part
he took with him. The other he committed to the lawyer's charge.
So much confidence had he in this man's honor, that he did not
even require a receipt. One additional safeguard he had, however.
This was the evidence of the lawyer's clerk, who was present on
the occasion of the deposit.
"My father went to the West Indies, but the change seemed only to
accelerate the progress of his malady. He lingered for a few
months and then died. Before his death he wrote two letters, one
to my uncle and one to myself. In these he communicated the fact
of his having deposited twenty-five thousand dollars with his
lawyer. He mentioned incidentally the presence of the lawyer's
clerk at the time. I am a little surprised that he should have
done it, as not the faintest suspicion of the lawyer's good faith
had entered his thoughts.
"On receiving this letter my uncle, on my behalf, took measures
to claim this sum, and for this purpose came to Boston. Imagine
his surprise and indignation when the lawyer positively denied
having received any such deposit and called upon him, to prove
it. With great effrontery he declared that it was absurd to
suppose that my father would have entrusted him with any such sum
without a receipt for it. This certainly looked plausible, and I
acknowledge that few except my father, who never trusted without
trusting entirely, would have acted so imprudently.
" 'Where is the clerk who was in your office at the time?"
inquired my uncle.
The lawyer looked somewhat discomposed at this question.
" 'Why do you ask?'he inquired abruptly.
" 'Because,' was the reply, 'his evidence is very important to
us. My brother states that he was present when the deposit was
" 'I don't know where he is,' said the lawyer. 'He was too
dissipated to remain in my office, and I accordingly discharged
"My uncle suspected that the clerk had been bribed to keep
silence, and for additional security sent off to some distant
"Nothing could be done. Strong as our suspicions, and absolute as
was our conviction of the lawyer's guilt, we had no recourse. But
from that time I devoted my life to the exposure of this man.
Fortunately I was not without means. The other half of my
father's property came to me; and the interest being considerably
more than I required for my support, I have devoted the remainder
to, prosecuting inquiries respecting the missing clerk. Just
before I came to Rossville, I obtained a clue which I have since
industriously followed up.
"Last night I received a letter from my agent, stating that he
had found the man--that he was in a sad state of destitution, and
that he was ready to give his evidence."
"Is the lawyer still living?" inquired Frank.
"What a villain he must be."
"I am afraid he is, Frank."
"Does he still live in Boston?"
"No. After he made sure of his ill-gotten gains, he removed into
the country, where he built him a fine house. He has been able to
live a life of leisure; but I doubt if he has been as happy as he
would have been had he never deviated from the path of
"Have you seen him lately?" asked Frank.
"I have seen him many times within the last few months," said the
young man, in a significant tone.
Frank jumped to his feet in surprise. "You don't mean----" he
said, as a sudden suspicion of the truth dawned upon his mind.
"Yes," said Mr. Morton deliberately, "I do mean that the lawyer
who defrauded my father lives in this village. You know him well
as Squire Haynes."
"I can hardly believe it," said Frank, unable to conceal his
astonishment. "Do you think he knows who you are?"
"I think he has noticed my resemblance to my father. If I had not
assumed a different name he would have been sure to detect me.
This would have interfered with my plans, as he undoubtedly knew
the whereabouts of his old clerk, and would have arranged to
remove him, so as to delay his discovery, perhaps indefinitely.
Here is the letter I received last night. I will read it to you."
The letter ran as follows:
"I have at length discovered the man of whom I have so long been
in search. I found him in Detroit. He had recently removed
thither from St. Louis. He is very poor, and, when I found him,
was laid up with typhoid fever in a mean lodging-house. I removed
him to more comfortable quarters, supplied him with relishing
food and good medical assistance. Otherwise I think he would have
died. The result is, that he feels deeply grateful to me for
having probably saved his life. When I first broached the idea of
his giving evidence against his old employer, I found him
reluctant to do so--not from any attachment he bore him, but from
a fear that he would be held on a criminal charge for concealing
a felony. I have undertaken to assure him, on your behalf, that
he shall not be punished if he will come forward and give his
evidence unhesitatingly. I have finally obtained his promise to,
"We shall leave Detroit day after to-morrow, and proceed to New
England by way of New York. Can you meet me in New York on the
18th inst.? You can, in that case, have an interview with this
man Travers; and it Will be well to obtain his confession,
legally certified, to guard against any vacillation of purpose on
his part. I have no apprehension of it, but it is as well to be
This letter was signed by Mr. Morton's agent.
"I was very glad to get that letter, Frank," said his companion.
"I don't think I care so much for the money, though that is not
to be dispised, since it will enable me to do more good than at
present I have it in my power to do. But there is one thing I
care for still more, and that is, to redeem my father's memory
from reproach. In the last letter he ever wrote he made a
specific statement, which this lawyer declares to be false. The
evidence of his clerk will hurl back the falsehood upon himself."
"How strange it is, Mr. Morton," exclaimed Frank, "that you
should have saved the life of a son of the man who has done so
much to injure you!"
"Yes, that gives me great satisfaction. I do not wish Squire
Haynes any harm, but I am determined that justice shall be done.
Otherwise than that, if I can be of any service to him, I shall
"I remember now," said Frank, after a moment's pause, "that, on
the first Sunday you appeared at church, Squire Haynes stopped me
to inquire who you were."
"I am thought to look much as my father did. He undoubtedly saw
the resemblance. I have often caught his eyes fixed upon me in
perplexity when he did not know that I noticed him. It is
fourteen years since my father died. Retribution has been slow,
but it has come at last."
"When do you go on to New York?" asked Frank, recalling the
"I shall start to-morrow morning. For the present I will ask you
to keep what I have said a secret even from your good mother. It
is as well not to disturb Squire Haynes in his fancied security
until we are ready to overwhelm him with our evidence."
"How long shall you be absent, Mr. Morton?"
"Probably less than a week. I shall merely say that I have gone
on business. I trust to your discretion to say nothing more."
"I certainly will not," said Frank. "I am very much obliged to
you for having told me first."
The two rose from their grassy seats, and walked slowly back to
CHAPTER XXX. FRANK CALLS ON SQUIRE HAYNES
The next morning Mr. Morton was a passenger by the early stage
for Webbington, where he took the train for Boston. Thence he was
to proceed to New York by the steamboat train.
"Good-by, Mr. Morton," said Frank, waving his cap as the stage
started. "I hope you'll soon be back."
"I hope so, too; good-by."
Crack went the whip, round went the wheels. The horses started,
and the stage rumbled off, swaying this way and that, as if
Frank went slowly back to the house, feeling quite lonely. He had
become so accustomed to Mr. Morton's companionship that his
departure left a void which he hardly knew how to fill.
As he reflected upon Mr. Morton's story he began to feel an
increased uneasiness at the mortgage held by Squire Haynes upon
his father's farm. The time was very near at hand--only ten days
off--when the mortgage might be foreclosed, and but half the
money was in readiness.
Perhaps, however, Squire Haynes had no intention of foreclosing.
If so, there was no occasion for apprehension. But about this he
felt by no means certain.
He finally determined, without consulting his mother, to make the
squire a visit and inquire frankly what he intended to do. The
squire's answer would regulate his future proceedings.
It was Frank's rule--and a very good one, too --to do at once
whatever needed to be done. He resolved to lose no time in making
"Frank," said his mother, as he entered the house, "I want you to
go down to the store some time this forenoon, and get me half a
dozen pounds of sugar."
"Very well, mother, I'll go now. I suppose it won't make any
difference if I don't come back for an hour or two."
"No, that will be in time."
Mrs. Frost did not ask Frank where he was going. She had perfect
faith in him, and felt sure that he would never become involved
in anything discreditable.
Frank passed through the village without stopping at the store.
He deferred his mother's errand until his return. Passing up the
village street, he stopped before the fine house of Squire
Haynes. Opening the gate he walked up the graveled path and rang
A servant-girl came to the door.
"Is Squire Haynes at home?" inquired Frank.
"Yes, but he's eating breakfast."
"Will he be through soon?"
"Shure and I think so."
"Then I will step in and wait for him."
"Who shall I say it is?"
Squire Haynes had just passed his cup for coffee when Bridget
entered and reported that Frank Frost was in the drawing-room and
would like to see him when he had finished his breakfast.
"Frank Frost!" repeated the squire, arching his eyebrows. "What
does he want, I wonder?"
"Shure he didn't say," said Bridget.
"He is captain of the boys' company, John, isn't he?" asked the
"Yes," said John sulkily. "I wish him joy of his office. I
wouldn't have anything to do with such a crowd of ragamuffins."
Of course the reader understands that this was "sour grapes" on
Finishing his breakfast leisurely, Squire Haynes went into the
room where Frank was sitting patiently awaiting him.
Frank rose as he entered.
"Good morning, Squire Haynes," he said, politely rising as he
"Good morning," said the squire coldly. "You are an early
If this was intended for a rebuff, Frank did not choose to take
any notice of it.
"I call on a little matter of business, Squire Haynes," continued
"Very well," said the squire, seating himself in a luxurious
armchair, "I am ready to attend to you."
"I believe you hold a mortgage on our farm."
Squire Haynes started. The thought of Frank's real business had
not occurred to him. He had hoped that nothing would have been
said in relation to the mortgage until he was at liberty to
foreclose, as he wished to take the Frosts unprepared. He now
resolved, if possible, to keep Frank in ignorance of his real
purpose, that he might not think it necessary to prepare for his
"Yes," said he indifferently; "I hold quite a number of
mortgages, and one upon your father's farm among them."
"Isn't the time nearly run out?" asked Frank anxiously.
"I can look if you desire it," said the squire, in the same
"I should be glad if you would."
"May I ask why you are desirous of ascertaining the precise
date?" asked the squire. "Are you intending to pay off the
"No, sir," said Frank. "We are not prepared to do so at present."
Squire Haynes felt relieved. He feared for a moment that Mr.
Frost had secured the necessary sum, and that he would be
defeated in his wicked purpose.
He drew out a large number of papers, which he rather
ostentatiously scattered about the table, and finally came to the
"The mortgage comes due on the first of July," he said.
"Will it be convenient for you to renew it, Squire Haynes?" asked
Frank anxiously. "Father being absent, it would be inconvenient
for us to obtain the amount necessary to cancel it. Of course, I
shall be ready to pay the interest promptly."
"Unless I should have sudden occasion for the money," said the
squire, "I will let it remain. I don't think you need feel any
anxiety on the subject."
With the intention of putting Frank off his guard, Squire Haynes
assumed a comparatively gracious tone. This, in the case of any
other man, would have completely reassured Frank. But he had a
strong distrust of the squire, since the revelation of his
character made by his friend Mr. Morton.
"Could you tell me positively?" he asked, still uneasy. "It is
only ten days now to the first of July, and that is little enough
to raise the money in."
"Don't trouble yourself," said the squire. "I said unless I had
sudden occasion for the money, because unforeseen circumstances
might arise. But as I have a considerable sum lying at the bank,
I don't anticipate anything of the kind."
"I suppose you will give me immediate notice, should it be
necessary. We can pay four hundred dollars now. So, if you
please, the new mortgage can be made out for half the present
"Very well," said the squire carelessly. "Just as you please as
to that. Still, as you have always paid my interest regularly, I
consider the investment a good one, and have no objection to the
"Thank you, sir," said Frank, rising to go.
Frank took his hat, and, bowing to the squire, sought the front
door. His face wore a perplexed expression. He hardly knew what
to think about the interview he had just had.
"Squire Haynes talks fair enough," he soliloquized; "and,
perhaps, he means what he says. If it hadn't been for what Mr.
Morton told me, I should have confidence in him. But a man who
will betray a trust is capable of breaking his word to me. I
think I'll look round a little, and see if I can't provide for
the worse in case it comes."
Just after Frank left the house, John entered his father's
"What did Frank Frost want of you, father?" he asked.
"He came about the mortgage."
"Did he want to pay it?"
"No, he wants me to renew it."
"Of course you refused."
"Of course I did no such thing. Do you think I am a fool?"
"You don't mean to say that you agreed to renew it?" demanded
John, in angry amazement.
Squire Haynes rather enjoyed John's mystification.
"Come," said he, "I'm afraid you'll never make a lawyer if you're
not sharper than that comes to. Never reveal your plans to your
adversary. That's an important principle. If I had refused, he
would have gone to work, and in ten days between now and the
first of July, he'd have managed in some way to scrape together
the eight hundred dollars. He's got half of it now."
"What did you tell him, then?"
"I put him off by telling him not to trouble himself--that I
would not foreclose the mortgage unless I had unexpected occasion
for the money."
"Yes, I see," said John, his face brightening at the anticipated
disaster to the Frosts. "You'll take care that there shall be
some sudden occasion."
"Yes," said the squire complacently. "I'll have a note come due,
which I had not thought about, or something of the kind."
"Oh, that'll be bully."
"Don't use such low words, John. I have repeatedly requested you
to be more careful about your language. By the way, your teacher
told me yesterday that you are not doing as well now as
"Oh, he's an old muff. Besides, he's got a spite against me. I
should do a good deal better at another school."
"We'll see about that. But I suspect he's partly right."
"Well, how can a feller study when he knows the teacher is
determined to be down upon him?"
" 'Feller!' I am shocked at hearing you use that word. 'Down upon
"Very well; let me go where I won't hear such language spoken."
It would have been well if Squire Haynes had been as much shocked
by bad actions as by low language.
This little disagreement over, they began again to anticipate
with pleasure the effect of the squire's premeditated blow upon
"We'll come up with 'em?" said John, with inward exultation.
Meanwhile, though the squire was entirely unconscious of it,
there was a sword hanging over his own head.
CHAPTER XXXI. SQUIRE HAYNES SPRINGS HIS TRAP
As intimated in the last chapter, Frank determined to see if he
could not raise the money necessary to pay off the mortgage in
case it should be necessary to do so.
Farmer Maynard was a man in very good circumstances. He owned an
excellent farm, which yielded more than enough to support his
family. Probably he had one or two thousand dollars laid aside.
"I think he will help me," Frank said to himself, "I'll go to
He went to the house, and was directed to the barn. There he
found the farmer engaged in mending a hoe-handle, which had been
broken, by splicing it.
He unfolded his business. The farmer listened attentively to his
"You say the squire as much as told you that he would renew the
"Well, I wouldn't trouble myself then; I've no doubt he'll do
"He said, unless he should have some sudden occasion for the
"All right. He is a prudent man, and don't want to bind himself.
That is all. You know the most unlikely things may happen; but I
don't believe the squire'll want the money. He's got plenty in
"But if he should?"
"Then he'll wait, or take part. I suppose you can pay part."
"Then I guess there won't be any chance of anything going wrong."
"If there should," persisted Frank, "could you lend us four
hundred dollars to make up the amount?"
"I'd do it in a minute, Frank, but I hain't got the money by me.
What money I have got besides the farm is lent out in notes. Only
last week I let my brother-in-law have five hundred dollars, and
that leaves me pretty short."
"Perhaps somebody else will advance the money," said Frank,
feeling a little discouraged at the result of his first
"Yes, most likely. But I guess you won't need any assistance. I
look upon it as certain that the mortgage will be renewed. Next
fall I shall have the money, and if the squire wants to dispose
of the mortgage, I shall be ready to take it off his hands."
Frank tried to feel that he was foolish in apprehending trouble
from Squire Haynes, but he found it impossible to rid himself of
a vague feeling of uneasiness.
He made application to another farmer--an intimate friend of his
father's--but he had just purchased and paid for a five-acre lot
adjoining his farm, and that had stripped him of money. He, too,
bade Frank lay aside all anxiety, and assured him that his fears
With this Frank had to be content.
"Perhaps I am foolish," he said to himself. "I'll try to think no
more about it."
He accordingly returned to his usual work, and, not wishing to
trouble his mother to no purpose, resolved not to impart his
fears to her. Another ground of relief suggested itself to him.
Mr. Morton would probably be back on the 27th of June. Such, at
least, was his anticipation when he went away. There was reason
to believe that he would be both ready and willing to take up the
mortgage, if needful. This thought brought back Frank's
It was somewhat dashed by the following letter which he received
a day or two later from his absent friend. It was dated New York,
June 25, 1863. As will appear from its tenor, it prepared Frank
for a further delay in Mr. Morton's arrival.
"DEAR FRANK: I shall not be with you quite as soon as I intended.
I hope, however, to return a day or two afterward at latest. My
business is going on well, and I am assured of final success.
Will you ask your mother if she can accommodate an acquaintance
of mine for a day or two? I shall bring him with me from New
York, and shall feel indebted for the accommodation.
"Your true friend,
Frank understood at once that the acquaintance referred to must
be the clerk, whose evidence was so important to Mr. Morton's
case. Being enjoined to secrecy, however, he, of course, felt
that he was not at liberty to mention this.
One day succeeded another until at length the morning of the
thirtieth of June dawned. Mr. Morton had not yet arrived; but, on
the other hand, nothing had been heard from Squire Haynes.
Frank began to breathe more freely. He persuaded himself that he
had been foolishly apprehensive. "The squire means to renew the
mortgage," he said to himself hopefully.
He had a talk with his mother, and she agreed that it would be
well to pay the four hundred dollars they could spare, and have a
new mortgage made out for the balance. Frank accordingly rode
over to Brandon in the forenoon, and withdrew from the bank the
entire sum there deposited to his father's credit. This, with
money which had been received from Mr. Morton in payment of his
board, made up the requisite amount.
About four o'clock in the afternoon, as Mrs. Frost was sewing at
a front window, she exclaimed to Frank, who was making a kite for
his little brother Charlie, "Frank, there's Squire Haynes coming
up the road."
Frank's heart gave an anxious bound.
"Is he coming here?" he asked, with anxiety.
"Yes," said Mrs. Frost, after a moment's pause. Frank turned pale
A moment afterward the huge knocker was heard to sound, and Mrs.
Frost, putting down her work, smoothed her apron and went to the