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"APPETITE'S a queer thing," said Si to Shorty one day, when both were in a philosophical mood. "It's an awful bother when you haven't it, and it's a great deal worse when you have it, and can't get anything for it." "Same as money," returned sage Shorty. During the first few months of Si Klegg's service in the army the one thing that bothered him more than anything else was his appetite. It was a very robust, healthy one that Si had, for he had grown up on his father's farm in Indiana, and had never known what it was to be hungry without abundant means at hand for appeasing his desires in that direction. His mother's cupboard was never known to be in the condition of Old Mother Hubbard's, described in the nursery rhyme. The Kleggs might not have much tapestry and bric-a-brac in their home, but their smoke-house was always full, and Mrs. Klegg's kitchen could have fed a camp-meeting any time without warning. So it was that when Si enlisted his full, rosy face and his roundness of limb showed that he had been well fed, and that nature had made good use of the ample daily supplies that were provided. His digestive organs were kept in perfect condition by constant exercise.
Si had never seen a hardtack before.
The company was called out at daylight, and immediately after roll-call Si went to look after the hardtacks he had put to soak the night before. He thought he had never felt so hungry in his life. He fished out the hardtack and carefully inspected them, to note the result of the submerging and to figure out the chances on his much-needed breakfast.
Si waited anxiously to hear his name called as the pile letters rapidly grew smaller, and he began to think he was going to get left.
But the Orderly did not even deign to reply. Si remembered the guard-house, and his shoulder still ached from the rail he had carried that evening; so he quietly folded up his paper and took his place with the detail.
Breakfast was soon over, and in the gray dawn of that murky morning the long column went trailing on its way. The weather gave promise of a sloppy day, and the indications were fully verified. A drizzling rain set in, and continued without cessation. The boys put their heads through the holes in their ponchos, from the corners of which the water streamed. With their muskets at a "secure" they sloshed along through the mud, hour after hour. In spite of their "gums" the water found its way in at the back of the neck and trickled down their bodies. Their clothes became saturated, and they were altogether about as miserable as it is possible for mortals to be.
"Better not, Si" said the Orderly; "ye know it's agin orders, and the rear-guard 'll punch ye with their bay'net's if they catch ye stragglin'."
Shorty, who was whittling up a piece of Kentucky twist to recharge his pipe, laughed till he rolled off the stump all in a heap. A few of the other boys had stayed out to see the fun, and were lounging around the outskirts of the corral. "Go for 'em, Si!" they shouted.
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