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Then, he thought hardtack would be excellent for half-soling his shoes. He didn't think they would ever wear out.
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.
Si's mother, like most of the well-to-do farmers' wives in Indiana, was undoubtedly a good cook, and she trained up her daughters to do honor to her teachings, so that Si undoubtedly knew what properly-prepared food was. From the time he was big enough to spank he had fared sumptuously every day. In the gush of patriotic emotions that prompted him to enlist he scarcely thought of this feature of the case. If it entered his mind at all, he felt that he could safely trust all to the goodness of so beneficent a Government as that for the preservation of which he had offered himself as a target for the rebels to shoot at. He thought it no more than fair to the brave soldiers that Uncle Sam should furnish professional cooks for each company, who would serve everything up in the style of a first-class city restaurant. So, after Si got down among the boys and found how it really was, it was not long till his inside was a volcano of rebellion that threatened serious results.
"I tell ye, pard, this is purty derned tough!" said Si as he wiped a tear out of the southwest corner of his left eye with the sleeve of his blouse. "I think the Cap'n's hard on a feller who didn't mean to do nothin' wrong!" And Si looked as if he had lost all his interest in the old flag, and didn't care a pinch of his burnt rice what became of the union.
The next morning the army moved early, and Si had no chance to resume his letter. As soon as the regiment halted, after an 18-mile march, he tackled it again. This time nothing better offered in the way of a writing-desk than a tin plate, which he placed face downward upon his knee. Thus provided, Si plunged briskly into the job before him, with the following result:
Fortunately for Si, and for more than half the members of the regiment, the army did not move next day, and the doctors had a good opportunity to get in their work.
"HELLO Si; goin' for a soljer, ain't ye?"
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