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"You must enjoy these things while you can, Si," said his mother, "for goodness knows what you'll do when you really git into the army. I've heerd 'em tell awful things about how the poor sogers don't have half enough to eat, and what they do git goes agin' any Christian stomach. Here, take another piece of this pie. A little while, and it'll be a long time, I reckon, till ye git any more."
While he was lying there he determined to line one of his shirts with hardtacks, and he would put that on whenever there was going to be a fight. He didn't believe the bullets would go through them. He wanted to do all he could toward paralyzing the rebels, and with such a protection he could be very brave, while his comrades were being mowed down around him. The idea of having such' a shirt struck Si as being a brilliant one.
"You're just a little bit brash," said his veteran friend, who had just been through the long, hungry march from Huntsville, Ala., to Louisville. "Better eat all you can lay yer hands on now, while ye've got a chance. One o' these days ye'll git into a tight place and ye won't see enough hog's meat in a week to grease a griddle. I've bin there, myself! Jest look at me and see what short rations 'll bring you to?"
"Don't you know your right shoulder?" said the Sergeant, with a good deal of vinegar in his tone, to Si, who had his gun on the "larboard" side, as a sailor would say.
It is scarcely necessary to say that the first trial was a sad failure. The line bulged out in the center, and the outer flank, unable to keep up, fell behind, the company assuming nearly the shape of a big letter C. Then the boys on the outer end took the double-quick, cutting across the arc of the proper circle, which soon resulted in a hopeless wreck of the whole company. The Captain halted the chaotic mass of struggling men, and with the help of the Orderly finally succeeded in getting them straightened out and into line again. The men had often seen practiced soldiers going through this most difficult of all tactical movements, and it seemed easy enough; they didn't see why they couldn't do it just as well as the other fellows. They kept at it, and in the course of half an hour had improved so much that they could swing around in some kind of shape without the line breaking to pieces.
Then he went to the sutler—or "skinner," as he was better known—and paid 10 cents for a sheet of paper and an envelope, on which were the cheerful words, "It is sweet to die for one's country!" and 10 cents more for a 3-cent postage stamp. He borrowed a leadpencil, hunted up a piece of crackerbox, and sat down to his work by the flickering light of the fire. Si wrote:
When Si got up he burst off half the buttons on his clothes. He looked as if he was carrying a bass-drum in front of him. After he began to shrink he had to tie up his clothes with a string until he had a chance to repair damages. But during the next 24 hours he had something else to think of.
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