General Frankie: A Story For Little People/II
The next day was Sunday, and as soon as breakfast was concluded Franklin began to think about his new uniform, which was stowed away until Monday morning, and presently he said, with a very discontented face,
"I wish I was a real soldier, and then I could drill Sundays as well as any other day. Mamma, can't I make b'l'eve there's a battle to-day? You know they do fight battles on Sunday." And then the little rogue thought he had a good argument.
Mamma looked up from her book a moment, and a queer smile came to her face as she answered,
"Yes, Frankie, I think you had better fight a battle to-day."
"You do, mamma?" And the petit General advanced a step nearer to look in her face, strangely puzzled by her reply.
"Yes, I think some battles out to be fought on Sunday, and if you will come to me I'll tell you how we had better begin."
So the little fellow, still clasping his hymn-book, came to sit in her lap, looking wonderingly in her face. She turned over its leaves until she found a certain page.
"Frankie, you knowsoldiers sing a battle-song. Suppose you and I sing this one here by my finger—
"'My soul be on thy guard,
Ten thousand foes arise.'"
Frankie sat very still, and before the soft tones of the singer's voice finished the verse,
"'Then watch and fight and pray,
The battle ne'er give o'er,'"
his childish tenor chimed in,
"'Renew it boldly ever day,
And help divine implore.'"
Frankie and his mother sat looking in the pleasant coal-fire, thinking about such battles and victories as the hymn suggested until it was time to go to church. So mamma bid Frankie go up stairs to be dressed, tolling Susan to put on his brown poplin, and never wore it when he could prevail upon Susan to put on a certain gray merino trimmed with crimson. So he made a wretched face when the proposed garments were laid aside on a chair, and gave a spiteful little kick at them, grumbling thus:
"I hate old brown—I always did. There's something under the chin that scratches, and it makes me feel 'hoisty-up' to put my arms in the sleeves; and the buttons ain't bright a bit; and the pants have only got one pocket in, like a little bit of a boy. I wish I could always have two pockets."
There is a great amount of fraud practiced on little folks in this matter, and if I had ten boys they should all have two pockets in every pair.
"Susan, ask mamma if I mayn't wear my gray suit?"
Susan went off to intercede, but without avail. There was a raw, cold wind, and it was quite right that he should wear the warmest garments. Frankie pouted more and more; put his feet in the sleeves, crumpled his frill, and twisted his head about while Susan tried to curl his hair, and made himself generally disagreeable. He began to look at the wash-basin beside him very often in an earnest way, and at last, pretending to wash his face, he succeeded in drenching the front of old brown to his heart's content. He was soon sorry, but too late. Mamma was called; and decided that he should be put to bed, telling him that he had fallen into the hands of the enemy very soon. That put him in mind of his chat in the morning. He tried to think who commanded the rebel forces, and thinking so hard fell asleep and did not wake up until dinner-time.
All the rest of the day he looked unhappy, and when twilight came on he stole up to his mother, and put his little hand in here, saying, "I am sorry those enemies got the best of it this morning: and I've been trying to think of their names. Tell me, mamma; and then I can fight them better next time."
"Well," said mamma, "I think the first one was Major Vanity. He is a weak, foolish little leader, and don't care about any thing except his uniform—and he thinks about himself all the while. Then the other one who came to help him was General Bad-Temper. He is big and fierce, and you must not train in his company, for you never can tell where he will l ead you, or what orders he will give. He makes his men talk loud and rough, and swear, and strike. And he makes little boys grumble, and pout, and friz their hair, and—"
"Please don't, mamma," and a little hand was laid on her lips—"Frankie will try."
"Darling"—and mamma kissed the hand—"we'll ask the Great Commander to help us, and he will send Captain Patience and Major Meekness to our aid, and then we shall be kept safe."
Thus the chat went on until the gas was lighted and Frankie said good-night, and mamma thought long and earnestly of the duties of a mother, praying for grace and wisdom to point out foes in ambush, to help gird on the armor, and defend its loosened links.