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   Chapter 2 No.2

Elsie's Vacation and After Events By Martha Finley Characters: 9327

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

Max was in his room at the Academy, busy with his tasks, trying determinately to forget homesickness by giving his whole mind to them, and succeeding fairly well. Very desirous, very determined was the lad to acquit himself to the very best of his ability that he might please and honor both his Heavenly Father and his earthly one.

By the time the welcome sound of gun-fire and tattoo announced that the day's work was over he felt fully prepared for the morrow's recitations. But he was in no mood for play. The quiet that had reigned through the building for the last two hours was suddenly broken in upon by sounds of mirth and jollity-merry boyish voices talking, singing, some accompanying themselves with the twang of a banjo or the tinkle of a guitar; but Max, closing and putting his book aside, kept his seat, his elbow on the desk, his head on his hand, while with a far-away look in his dark eyes, he indulged in a waking dream.

He seemed to see the Dolphin steaming down the bay, his father, perhaps, sitting in the saloon with the other grown folks (the younger ones would be pretty sure to have retired to their state-rooms), and thinking and speaking of his absent son. Or, it might be, pacing the deck alone, his heart going up in prayer to God for his first-born-his "might and the beginning of his strength,"-that he might be kept from sin and every danger and evil and enabled to prove himself a brave, true follower of Christ, never ashamed or afraid to show his colors and let it be known to all with whom he had to do that he was a disciple, a servant of the dear Lord Jesus.

"Lord, help me; help me to be brave and faithful and true," was the silent petition that went up from the boy's heart.

"Homesick, bub?" asked a boyish voice, in mocking tones. "I believe most of the fellows are just at the first, but they get over it after a bit without much doctoring."

"I'm inclined to think it is not a dangerous kind of ailment," returned Max, in a pleasant tone, lifting his head and turning toward his companion with a smile that seemed rather forced. "However, I was thinking not of home, exactly, but the homefolks who are just at present aboard my father's yacht and steaming down the bay."

It was only by a great effort he repressed a sigh with the concluding words.

"That's a handsome yacht and about the largest I ever saw," was the next remark of his room-mate, a lad-Benjamin Hunt by name-of about the same age as himself, not particularly handsome but with a good, honest face.

"Yes, and a splendid sailor," returned Max, with enthusiasm. "Papa bought her this summer and we've had a jolly good time sailing or steaming (sometimes one and again the other, the Dolphin has both sails and engines) along the coast and a short distance out to sea."

"Had a good, safe captain?" Hunt asked, with a quizzical smile.

"My father, a retired naval officer; there could be none better," returned Max, straightening himself slightly, while the color deepened on his cheek.

"Yes; I don't wonder you are proud of him," laughed Hunt. "I happened to see him when he brought you here, and I must say I thought he had a fine military bearing and was-well, I think I might say one of the handsomest men I ever saw."

"Thank you," said Max heartily, glancing up at Hunt with a gratified smile. "I suppose being so fond of him I may not be a competent judge, but to me my father seems the best, the noblest, and the handsomest man that ever lived."

"Didn't force you to come here against your will, eh?" queried Hunt jestingly.

"No, indeed! he only let me come because I wanted to. I think he would have been glad if I had chosen the ministry, but you see I don't think I have any talent in that line, and I inherit a love for the sea, and papa says a man can do best in the profession or business that is most to his taste, so that perhaps I may be more useful as a naval officer than I could be in the ministry."

"Especially in case of war, and if you turn out a good and capable commander," returned Hunt, tossing up a ball and catching it as it fell. "I sometimes think I'd like nothing better; a fellow would have a chance to distinguish himself, such as he could never hope for in time of peace."

"Yes; and if such a thing should happen I hope it will be when I'm ready to take part in the defence of my country," said Max, his cheek flushing and his eyes kindling, "but war is an awful thing considering all the killing and maiming, to say nothing of the destruction of property; and I hope our country will never be engaged in another. But excuse me," he added, opening his Bible, "I see we have sca

rcely fifteen minutes now before taps will sound."

At that Hunt moved away to his own side of the room, from whence he watched Max furtively, a mocking smile on his lips.

Max was uncomfortably conscious of it, but tried to ignore it and give his thoughts to what he was reading. Presently, closing his book he knelt and silently offered up his evening prayer, asking forgiveness of all his sins, strength to resist temptation, and never be afraid or ashamed to own himself a follower of Jesus, his loving disciple, his servant, whose greatest desire was to know and do the Master's will; and very earnestly he prayed that no evil might befall his dearly loved and honored father, his sisters or brother, Mamma Vi, or any of those he loved; that they might be taken safely through all their journeying, and he permitted to see them all again when the right time should come; and having committed both them and himself to the watchful care of his Heavenly Father, he rose from his knees and began his preparations for bed.

"Well, sonny, I hope you will sleep soundly and well after saying your prayers like the goodest of little boys," sneered Hunt.

"I shall sleep none the worse," returned Max pleasantly.

"I'll bet not a bit better than I shall without going through any such baby-like performance."

"God is very good and often takes care of those who don't ask him to," said Max; "but I don't think they have any right to expect it; also I am sure I should be shamefully ungrateful if I were to lie down for my night's rest without a word of thanks to him for his protecting care over me and mine through the day that is just past. As to its being a baby-like performance, it is one in which some of the greatest, as well as best men, have indulged. Washington was a man of prayer. So was General Daniel Morgan-that grand revolutionary officer who whipped Tarleton so completely at the battle of the Cowpens. There was Macdonough also, who gained that splendid victory over the British on Lake Champlain in the war of 1812-14. Have you forgotten that just before the fight began, after he had put springs on his cables, had the decks cleared, and everything was ready for action, with his officers and men around him, he knelt down near one of his heaviest guns and in a few words asked God to help him in the coming struggle? He might well do that, because, as you know of course, we were in the right, fighting against oppression and wrongs fit to rouse the indignation of the most patient and forbearing of mortals."

"That's a fact!" interrupted Hunt. "Americans have always been forbearing at the start; but let them get once thoroughly roused and they make things hot enough for the aggressors."

"So they do," said Max, "and so I think they always will; I hope so, anyhow; for I don't believe it's right for any nation to allow any of its people to be so dreadfully wronged and ill-treated as thousands of our poor sailors were, by the English, before the war of 1812 taught them better. I don't believe the mass of the English people approved, but they couldn't keep their aristocracy-who hated republicanism, and wanted always to continue superior in station and power to the mass of their countrymen and ours-from oppressing and abusing our poor sailors, impressing, flogging, and ill-treating them in various ways, and to such a degree that it makes one's blood boil in reading or thinking of it. And I think it's right enough for one to be angry and indignant at such wrongs to others."

"Of course it is," said Hunt; "and Americans always will resist oppression-of themselves or their weaker brethren-and I glory in the fact. What a fight that was of Macdonough's! Do you remember the incident of the gamecock?"

"No; what was it?"

"It seems that one of the shots from the British vessel Linnet demolished a hencoop on the deck of the Saratoga, releasing this gamecock, and that he flew to a gun-slide, where he alighted, then clapped his wings and crowed lustily.

"That delighted our sailors, who accepted the incident as an omen of the victory that crowned their arms before the fight was over. They cheered and felt their courage strengthened."

"Good!" said Max, "that cock was at better business than the fighting he had doubtless been brought up to."

"Yes; so say I:

"O Johnny Bull, my joe John,

Behold on Lake Champlain,

With more than equal force, John,

You tried your fist again;

But the cock saw how 'twas going.

And cried 'Cock-a-doodle-doo,'

And Macdonough was victorious,

Johnny Bull, my joe!""

"Pretty good," laughed Max. "But there are the taps; so good-night."

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