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IT WAS told in the last chapter how the patriotic impulses of Si Klegg, of the 200th Ind., reached his stomach and digestive apparatus, and brought them under obedient subjection to hardtack. He didn't have quite so rough an experience with that other staple of army diet, which was in fact the very counterpart of the hardtack, and which took its most popular name from that part of the body of the female swine which is usually nearest the ground. Much of Si's muscle and brawn was due to the fact that meat was always plenty on his father's farm. When Si enlisted he was not entirely free from anxiety on the question of meat, for to his appetite it was not even second in importance to bread. If bread was the "staff of life" meat was life itself to Si. It didn't make much difference to him what kind it was, only so it was meat. He didn't suppose Uncle Sam would keep him supplied with quail on toast and porterhouse steaks all the time, but he did hope he would give him as much as he wanted of something in that line.
Now and then a few pigs' shoulders were handed round among the boys, but the large proportion of bone they contained was exasperating, and was the cause of much profanity.
He went back to the barracks and inspected the company larder. He found there the same old, coarse, greasy, strong, fat pork, a bushel or so of beans, a few withered potatoes, sugar, coffee, bread, and a box of rice which had been collected from the daily rations because none of the cooks knew how to manage it. The sight of the South Carolina staple recalled the delightful rice puddings his mother used to make. His heart grew buoyant.
"We'd better go off a good ways," said Si, "so's the boys won't see us."
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