Read CHAPTER I - BELLIGERENT POWERS of Red‚ White‚ Blue Socks‚ Part Second, free online book, by Sarah L Barrow, on ReadCentral.com.

Tuesday morning dawned “as clear as a bell,” as an old lady once said, and the Dashahed Zouaves, if not exactly up with the sun, were awake and stirring at a much earlier hour than usual; and after a rather more careful washing and brushing than soldiers usually indulge in, assembled on the lawn, looking as bright as their own buttons.

“What fun it is to be soldiers!” cried a little lisping fellow, one of the privates.  “I only wish thome Southerners would come along now, and you’d thee how I’d thmash ’em.”

“Bravo, Louie!” said Harry, laughing; “I dare say, if we were to go to the wars, you’d keep on fighting the battles of your country till you were chopped into inch bits!”

“And pickled!  I expect to be made Lieutenant-general, Commander-in-chief, Colonel, Major, Captain, Lieutenant, Sergeant Hamilton at the very least!”

“Pooh! that’s nothing to the feats of bravery I intend to perform!” cried Peter.  “In my first battle I shall capture a 2,000-pound columbiad with one hand tied behind me, and carry it home for a paper weight!”

“While I’m charging a regiment of mounted infantry single handed, and making them throw away their swords, and pistols, and things, and run for that ‘last ditch’ of theirs double quick!” said Will Costar, laughing; “but here comes breakfast, I’m happy to say.  It strikes me camping out makes a fellow awful hungry, as well as no end of brave.”

A servant who had been sent from the house with breakfast materials, now approached, and the table being laid, the soldiers drew their camp stools around it; Colonel Freddy sitting at the head and pouring out coffee with great gravity.  Everything was going on smoothly enough, when Harry tilted the tray on one side, and Charley knocked his elbow on the other, and away went the coffee to the very end of the table!

“Charley,” exclaimed the Colonel, severely, “what do you mean, sir?  I’ll have you put in arrest if you don’t look out!”

“Who’ll put me there?”

“Me!” shouted Peter.  “I’m the boy to manage refractories.  You’ll see how I will come after you with a sharp stick bayonet, I mean and put you in arrest like that!” snapping his fingers.

“By the way, when we’ve caught our rebels, where is the prison to be?” asked Jimmy.

“Why, in the smoke house.  There’s a patent spring bolt on the door father had it fixed the last time we had hams made; and if anybody was once in there, they’d never get out in the world, unless they could draw themselves fine like a wire and squeeze through the chimney.”

“We’ll take care to keep out of it, then!” said Charley; “so, Colonel, I beg pardon for tilting the biggin I didn’t mean to do it so much really!”

“I, too!” cried Harry; “shake hands, old chap!”

Good-tempered Freddy, always ready to “make up,” caught a hand of each of his comrades, and breakfast went on amicably.

Now, there lived in the house an old English man servant named Jerry Pike.  He had formerly been a groom and attendant on Peter’s uncle, Major Schermerhorn, and volunteered in the army at the time of the war with Mexico, that he might follow his dear master, whom he had served and loved ever since the Major was a mere boy.  He had fought bravely beside him in many a hard battle, and, for his gallant conduct, been promoted to the rank of sergeant.  When the hand of death removed that kind master, Mr. Schermerhorn had gladly taken Jerry to his own house, and promised him that should be his home as long as he lived.  So now, like a gallant old war horse, who has a fresh green paddock, and lives in clover in his infirm age, Jerry not only stood at ease, but lived at ease; and worked or not as he felt disposed.

When breakfast was over, Peter suddenly cried out, “I say, fellows, suppose we employ ourselves by having a drill!  You know old Jerry that I told you about?  I’ll ask him to give us a lesson!”

“Yes! that will be grand fun!” said Freddy.  “Do go and find him, Peter; I should really like to learn how to drill as the soldiers do; so when General McClellan comes along, he’ll admire us as much as the English General, old Sir Goutby Slogo, did the Seventh Regiment when they paraded before the Prince.  ’Really, most extraordinary style of marching these American troops have,’ said he, ’most hequal to the ’Orse Guards and the Hoxford Blues coming down Regent street!’”

Meanwhile, Peter had scampered off to the house, and in a short time returned with a comical-looking little old man, dressed in faded regimentals.

He touched his cap to the boys as he approached, in military style, and then drew himself up so very stiff and straight, awaiting their orders, that, as Freddy whispered to Tom, it was a perfect wonder he didn’t snap short off at the waist.

“Now, Jerry,” began the Colonel, “we want you to give us a real drill, you know, just as you used to learn.”

“Yes, a regular one!” chimed in the rest; “we’ll run for our guns.”

“Not fur your fust drill, I reckon, genl’men.  You’ll do bad enough without ’em, hech, hech!” cackled Jerry.

“Very well come begin then, Jerry!” cried impatient Will.

“Are ye all ready?”

“Yes, and waiting.”

“Then, genl’men, fall in!” exclaimed the sergeant, the first two words being uttered in his natural voice, but the last in an awful sepulchral tone, like two raps on the base kettle drum.  Off duty, Jerry rather resembled a toy soldier, but when in giving his orders he stiffened his body, threw up his head, and stuck out his hands, he looked so like the wooden figures out of Noah’s ark, that the boys burst into a shout of laughter.

“Now, genl’men,” exclaimed Jerry in a severe tone, “this won’t do.  Silence in the ranks.  Squad!  ’Shun.  The fust manoover I shel teach you, genl’men, is the manoover of ‘parade rest.’  Now look at me, and do as I do.”

Anybody would have supposed, naturally enough, that to stand at rest meant to put your hands in your pockets and lean against a tree; but what Jerry did, was to slap his right hand against his left, like a torpedo going off, and fold them together; stick out his left foot, lean heavily upon his right, and look more like a Dutch doll than ever.

The boys accordingly endeavored to imitate this performance; but when they came to try it, a difficulty arose.  Whatever might be their usual ideas on the subject, there was a diversity of opinion now as to the proper foot to be advanced, and a wild uncertainty which was the left foot.  The new soldiers shuffled backward and forward as if they were dancing hornpipes; while Jerry shouted, “Now, then, genl’men, I can’t hear them hands come together smartly as I’d wished, not like a row of Jarsey cider bottles a poppin’ one arter the other, but all at once.  Now, then, squad!  ‘Shun!” in a voice of thunder, “Stan’ at parade rest!  No no them lef fûts adwanced!  Well if ever!” And Jerry in his indignation gave himself such a thump on his chest that he knocked all the breath out of his body, and had to wait some moments before he could go on; while the boys, bubbling over with fun, took his scoldings in high good humor, and shrieked with laughter at their own ridiculous blunders, to the high wrath of their ancient instructor; who was so deeply interested and in earnest about his pursuit, that he didn’t fail to lecture them well for their “insubornation;” which, indeed, nobody minded, except Tom Pringle, who, by the by, was from Maryland, and many of whose relations were down South.  He had been looking rather sulky from the beginning of the drill, and now suddenly stepped from his place in the ranks, exclaiming, “I won’t play! now I vow I won’t!”

“Why, Tom, what is the matter?  Are you mad at us?” cried half a dozen voices at once.

“Humm ” grumbled sulky Tom.

“What say?  I can’t hear you,” said Freddy.  “Nonsense, Tom, don’t be poky, come back and drill.”

“I won’t!  Let us alone, will you?”

“All we want is, let us alone!” chanted Peter.  “There, Fred, let him be cross if he wants to, we can play without him;” and the boys ran back to their places in the ranks, Freddy calling out, “Come fellows, let’s try that old parade rest once more;” and on Jerry’s giving the command, they really did do it this time, and were pronounced capable of passing to grander evolutions.

The first of these was the turn about so as to fall in ranks; something the Dashahed Zouaves hadn’t dreamt of before.  Get into ranks?  Nothing could be easier than to stand four in a row, as they had done before; but when it came to “right face,” most of the soldiers were found to have opposite views on the subject, and faced each other, to their mutual astonishment.  The natural consequence was, that in three seconds the regiment was in such a snarl and huddle, that no one could tell which rank he belonged to or anything else; so Jerry, perfectly purple in the face with shouting, by way of helping them out of the scrape, gave them the following remarkable advice:  “Squad, ‘shun!  At th’ wud ‘Foz’ the rer-rank will stepsmartly off wi’ th’ leffut, tekkinapesstoth’ rare Fo-o-o-res!”

“W-h-a-t!” was the unanimous exclamation.

Jerry repeated his mandate, which, after infinite puzzling (the honest sergeant being no assistance whatever), was discovered to mean, “At the word ‘Fours,’ the rear rank will step smartly off with the left foot, taking a pace to the rear.  Fours!”

This difficulty solved, the next “article on the programme,” as Peter said, was the command March! or “harch!” according to Jerry.

Out stepped Freddy, confident that he knew this much at any rate, followed by the others; but here again that celebrated left foot got them into trouble.  The right foot would pop out here and there, and as sure as it did, at the third step the unlucky Zouave found his leg firmly stuck between the ankles of the boy in front; and the “man” behind him treading on his heels in a way calculated to aggravate a saint; while meantime, the fellows in the rear rank, who were forever falling behind while they were staring at their feet to make sure which was the left one, would endeavor to make up for it by taking a wide straddling step all of a sudden, and encircled the legs of people in front; a proceeding which, not being in accordance with “Hardee’s Tactics,” was not received with approbation by Jerry; who, looking at them with a sort of deprecating pity, hoarsely said, “Now, Company D! wot wrong agin? fowod squad! wun, too, three, foore; hup! hup! hup! hold your head up, Mr. Fred; turn out your toes, Master William, and keep steady!”

“Goody!” exclaimed Freddy at last, stopping short in the middle of his marching, “I can’t stand this any longer!  There, Jerry, we’ve had drill enough, thank you; I am knocked into a cocked hat, for my part!”

“Very well, sir; it is powerful hot; an’ I must say you young genl’men have kep’ at it steadier nor I expected, a gred deal.”

“Thank you, Jerry,” said George, laughing, “we shall not forget our first drill in a hurry.  I can’t tell, for my part, which has been most bothered, you or we.”

“Allers glad to give you a little practice,” grinned Jerry, “though you’d rive the gizzard out of an army drill sergeant, I’d wenture to say, if he hed the teachin’ of you.  Hech! hech! hech!  Mornin’, genl’men, your sarvent,” and Jerry touched his cap to Colonel Freddy and marched off chuckling.

As soon as he had made his exit, the boys clustered around Tom, as he sat turning his back on as many of the company as possible, and all began in a breath, “Now, Tom, do tell us what you’re mad at; what have we done? please speak!”

“Well, then,” shouted Tom, springing up, “I’ll tell you what, Frederic Jourdain!  I won’t be ordered around by any old monkey like that,” pointing toward Jerry “and as for you and your ordering about, I won’t stand that either! fine as you think yourself; the Colonel, indeed!”

“Why, Tom, how can you talk so? can’t you play like the rest of us?  I’m sure I haven’t taken advantage of being Colonel to be domineering; have I, boys?”

“No, no! not a bit, Fred never mind what he says!”

“Oh do don’t appeal to them!  You do that because you daren’t say outright you mean to have everything your own way.  That may be very well for them you’re all a parcel of Yankee shopkeepers together but, I can tell you, no Southern gentleman will stand it!”

“North or South, Tom,” began Will Costar, pretty sharply, “every regiment must have a head and obey the head.  We’ve chosen Fred our Colonel, and you must mind him.  When he tells you to drill you’ve got to do it!”

Tom wheeled round perfectly furious.  “You say that again,” he shouted, “and I’ll leave the regiment!  I will.  I won’t be told by any Northerner that I’m his subordinate, and if my State hadn’t thought so too, she’d never have left the Union.”

“What! you dare to say anything against the Union!” cried George, turning white with rage; “do you mean to say that you admire the South for seceding?”

“Yes!  I’ve a great mind to secede myself, what’s more!”

Freddy, as I said, was as sweet-tempered a little fellow as ever lived; but he was fairly aroused now.  His blue eyes flashed fire; he crimsoned to the temples; his fists were clenched and shouting, “you traitor!” like a flash, he sent Tom flying over on his back, with the camp stool about his ears.

Up jumped Tom, kicked away the stool, and rushed toward Fred. But the others were too quick for him; they seized his arms and dragged him back; Peter calling out “No, don’t fight him, Colonel; he’s not worth it; let’s have a court martial that’s the way to serve traitors!”

Amid a perfect uproar of rage and contempt for this shameful attack on their Colonel, the Zouaves hastily arranged some camp stools for judge and jury; and George being chosen judge, the oldest members of the regiment took their places around him, and Tom was hauled up before the Court.

“Oh stop, pray stop!” cried Freddy at this stage of affairs.  “Indeed, I forgive him for what he said to me, if he will take back his language about the Union.  I can’t stand that.”

“You hear what the Colonel says,” said George, sternly; “will you retract?”

“No, never! if you think I’m going to be frightened into submission to a Northerner you’re very much mistaken!  No Southerner will ever be that! and as for your precious Union, I don’t care if I say I hope there never will be a Union any more.”

“Then, by George!” shouted the judge, fairly springing from his seat, “You’re a traitor, sir!  Fellows, whoever is in favor of having this secessionist put under arrest, say Aye!”

“Aye!  AYE!  AYE!” in a perfect roar.

“Does any one object?” Nobody spoke.

“Then I sentence him to be confined in the guard house till he begs pardon; Livingston, Costar, and Boorman to take him there.”

His captors pounced upon their prisoner with very little ceremony when this sentence was pronounced; when Tom, without attempting to escape, suddenly commenced striking out at every one he could reach.  A grand hurley-burley ensued; but before long Tom was overpowered and dragged to the smoke, alias guard house; heaping insults and taunts on the Union and the regiment all the way.  Harry flung open the door of the prison, a picturesque little hut built of rough gray stone, and covered with Virginia creepers and wild honeysuckles.  The others pushed Tom in, and Peter, dashing forward, slammed the door on him with a bang.  Snap! went the bolt, and now nothing earthly could open it again but a Bramah key or a gunpowder explosion.  Young Secession was fast, and the North triumphant.  Hurrah!