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      "Without any trial, any court-martial, any evidence against them?" gasped Si."That's just what he was, the little runt, and we had the devil's own time finding him. What in Sam Hill did the Captain take him for, I'd like to know? Co. Q aint no nursery. Well, the bugler up at Brigade Headquarters blowed some sort of a call, and Skidmore wanted to know what it meant. They told him that it was an order for the youngest man in each company to come up there and get some milk for his coffee tomorrow morning, and butter for his bread. There was only enough issued for the youngest boys, and if he wanted his share he'd have to get a big hustle on him, for the feller whose nose he'd put out o' joint 'd try hard to get there ahead o' him, and get his share. So Skidmore went off at a dead run toward the sound of the bugle, with the boys looking after him and snickering. But he didn't come back at roll-call, nor at tattoo, and the smart Alecks begun to get scared, and abuse each other for setting up a job on a poor, innocent little boy. Osc Brewster and Ol Perry, who had been foremost in the trick had a fight as to which had been to blame. Taps come, and he didn't get back, and then we all became scared. I'd sent Jim Hunter over to Brigade Headquarters to look for him, but he came back, and said they hadn't seen anything of him there. Then I turned out the whole company to look for him. Of course, them too-awfully smart galoots of Co. A had to get very funny over our trouble. They asked why we didn't get the right kind of nurses for our company, that wouldn't let the members stray out of their sight? Why we didn't call the children in when the chickens went to roost, undress 'em, and tuck 'em in their little beds, and sing to 'em after they'd said 'Now I lay me down to sleep?' I stood it all until that big, hulking Pete Nasmith came down with a camp-kettle, which he was making ring like a bell, as he yelled out, 'Child lost! Child lost!' Behind him was Tub Rawlings singing, 'Empty's the cradle, baby's gone.' Then I pulled off my blouse and slung it into my tent, and told 'em there went my chevrons, and I was simply Scott Ralston, and able to lick any man in Co. A. One o' their Lieutenants came out and ordered them back to their quarters, and I deployed the company in a skirmish-line, and started 'em through the brush toward Brigade Headquarters. About three-quarters o' the way Osc Brewster and Ol Perry, when going through a thicket, heard a boy boo-hooing. They made their way to him, and there was little Skidmore sitting on a stump, completely confused and fagged out. He'd lost his way, and the more he tried to find it the worse he got turned around. They called out to him, and he blubbered out: 'Yes, it's me; little Pete Skidmore. Them doddurned fools in my company 've lost me, just as I've bin tellin' 'em right along they would, durn 'em.' Osc and Ol were so tickled at finding him that they gathered him up, and come whooping back to camp, carrying him every step of the way."

      "'Come on, you pork-hating Jew,' said Bob Smiles crabbedly. 'I'll give you a mess of spare-ribs unt corn-dodgers for supper.'"I don't care if they do," said Shorty desperately. "I'd go down there if a battery raked it. There's a letter in the pocket that I must have."

      "It's certainly boss licker," said Groundhog, after he had drunk it, and prudently hefted the canteen to see if it was full. "I'll take your offer. You're to have just one swig out o' it, and no more, and not a hog-swaller neither. I know you. You'd drink that hull canteenful at one gulp, if you had to. You'll let me put my thumb on your throat?"

      "Now, take that to learn you how to behave after this in the presence of a General officer," concluded Shorty, giving him a blow in the face that sent him over.

      Finally they came near the pontoons, and saw one almost capsize, throwing everybody in it into the water, while another whirled madly away toward the center of the current, with but one man in, who was frantically trying to stop it and save himself.

      Shorty jumped to his feet in a shudder of alarm, and exclaimed:"I meant Colonel," the Deacon started to explain.



      They all pressed forward. "Count out. That's the only fair way," shouted the boys in the center.


      "I don't know anything about the different cars, my friend," said the Quartermaster haughtily. "That's the business of the railroad people. I simply order them to make up the trains for me, and they do the rest. There's a Yard-Master over there. Go ask him."