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Thenceforward everything seemed to conspire to teach Si how vain and superfluous were the things of this world. The first rain-storm soaked his cherished album until it fell to pieces, and his sister's portfolio did the same. He put the photographs in his blouse pocket and got along just as well. When he wanted to write he got paper from the sutler. A mule tramped on his fancy coffee-pot, and he found he could make quite as good coffee in a quart-cup. A wagon-wheel lan over his cherished frying-pan, and he melted an old canteen in two and made a lighter and handier pan out of one-half of it. He broke his bowie-knife prying the lid off a cracker-box. He piled his knapsack with the others one day when the regiment was ordered to strip them off for a charge, and neither he nor his comrades ever saw one of them again. He never attempted to replace it. He learned to roll up an extra pair of socks and a change of underclothing in his blanket, tie the ends of this together and throw it over his shoulder sash fashion. Then, with his socks drawn up over the bottoms of his pantaloons, three days' rations in his haversack and 40 rounds in his cartridgebox, he was ready to make his 30 miles a day in any direction he might be sent, and whip anything that he encountered on the road.
IN COMMON with every other young man who enlisted to defend the glorious Stars and Stripes, Si Klegg, of the 200th Ind., had a profound superstition concerning the bayonet. All the war literature he had ever read abounded in bloodcurdling descriptions of bayonet charges and hand-to-hand conflicts, in which bayonets were repeatedly thrust up to the shanks in the combatants' bodies just as he had put a pitch-fork into a bundle of hay. He had seen pictures of English regiments bristling with bayonets like a porcupine with quills, rushing toward French regiments which looked as prickly as a chestnut-bur, and in his ignorance he supposed that was the way fighting was done. Occasionally he would have qualms at the thought of how little his system was suited to have cold steel thrust through it promiscuous-like, but he comforted himself with the supposition that he would probably get used to it in time—"soldiers get used to almost anything, you know."
"We've got to take 'em, any way," answered his chum, resignedly, "It's regulations."
The Veteran Talks to si 049
"I reck'n that'll do 's well 's any."
"What'd he tell ye?"
"I reck'n 'twont be long, now, till yer catches on ter the meanin' ol what a grayback is. Ye'll know all 'bout it purty sudden. This ain't the first one I ever seen."
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