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Si saw the boys around him lightening their knapsacks. He abominated waste above all things, but there seemed no help for it, and, reaching into that receptacle that bore, down upon his aching shoulders like a glacier on a groundhog, he pulled out and tossed into the fence corner the educational works he had anticipated so much benefit from. The bottle of "No. 6" followed, and it seemed as if the knapsack was a ton lighter, but it yet weighed more than any stack of hay on the home farm.
"I'm so glad!" she exclaimed.
"Don't keer if I do!" said Si, for there was scarcely any limit to his capacity.
Si tried to bite a piece off one of them to see what it was like, but he couldn't get his teeth through it. In sheer desperation he laid it on a log, seized a hatchet, and chopped off a corner. He put it in his mouth and chewed on it a while, but found it as tasteless as cold codfish.
The fact was that Si and his companions hardly had a fair shake in this respect, and entered the field at a decided disadvantage. It had been customary for a regiment to be constantly drilled for a month or two in camp in its own State before being sent to the front; but the 200th was rushed off to Kentucky the very day it was mustered in. This was while the cold chills were running up and down the backs of the people in the North on account of the threatened invasion by Bragg's army. The regiment pushed after the fleeing rebels, but whenever Suell's army halted to take breath, "Fall in for drill!" was shouted through its camp three or four times a day. It was liable to be called into action at any moment, and it was deemed indispensable to begin at once the process of making soldiers out of those tender-footed Hoosiers, whose zeal and patriotism as yet far exceeded their knowledge of military things. Most of the officers of the 200th were as green as the men, though some of them had seen service in other regiments; so, at first, officers and non-commissioned officers who had been in the field a few months and were considered veterans, and who knew, or thought they knew, all about tactics that was worth knowing, were detailed from the old regiments to put the boys through a course of sprouts in company and squad drill.
"Josiah Klegg!" at length shouted the Orderly, as he held out two letters. Si snatched them from his hand, went off by himself, and sat down on a log.
Si started forward briskly, but soon found it was no easy matter to gain the mile or so that the 200th Ind. was now ahead of him. It was about all he could do to keep up with the fast-moving column and avoid failing still further to the rear. Presently the bugles sounded a halt for one of the hourly rests.
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