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The bully of the 200th took it into his thick head one day to try to "run over" Si. The latter had just filled his canteen, and the bully found that the momentum of three pints of water swung at arm's length by an angry boy was about equal to a mule's kick.
On his entry into service a boy accepted everything without question when assured that it was "regulations." He would have charged bayonets on a buzz-saw if authoritatively informed that it was required by the mysterious "regulations."
"Why," answered the Orderly, who, having been in the three-months' service, assumed to know more about war than the Duke of Wellington, "the intention of those is to make a wound the lips of which will close up when the bayonet is pulled out, so that the man'll be certain to die."
So when a fat pig came wabbling and grunting toward his post, it was to Si like a vision of manna to the children of Israel in the wilderness. A wild, uncontrollable desire to taste a fresh spare-rib took possession of him. Naturally, his first idea was to send a bullet through the animal, but on second thought he saw that wouldn't do at all. It would "give him away" at once, and, besides, he had found that a single shot on the picket-line would keep Buell's entire army in line-of-battle for a whole day.
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.
The fact that there was a word misspelt now and then did not detract in the least from the letter, so pleasing to Si. In fact, he was a little lame in orthography himself, so that he had neither the ability nor the disposition to scan Annabel's pages with a critic's eye. Si was happy, and as he began to cast about for his supper he even viewed with complacence his bacon burned to a crisp and his capsized coffee-pot helplessly melting away in the fire.
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.
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