Kitty's Class Day And Other Stories
My Red Cap
"He who serves well need not fear to ask his wages."
It was under a blue cap that I first saw the honest face of Joe Collins. In the third year of
the late war a Maine regiment was passing through Boston, on its way to Washington.
The Common was all alive with troops and the spectators who clustered round them to
say God-speed, as the brave fellows marched away to meet danger and death for our
Every one was eager to do something; and, as the men stood at ease, the people mingled
freely with them, offering gifts, hearty grips of the hand, and hopeful prophecies of
victory in the end. Irresistibly attracted, my boy Tom and I drew near, and soon,
becoming excited by the scene, ravaged the fruit-stands in our neighborhood for tokens of
our regard, mingling candy and congratulations, peanuts and prayers, apples and
applause, in one enthusiastic jumble.
While Tom was off on his third raid, my attention was attracted by a man who stood a
little apart, looking as if his thoughts were far away. All the men were fine, stalwart
fellows, as Maine men usually are; but this one over-topped his comrades, standing
straight and tall as a Norway pine, with a face full of the mingled shrewdness, sobriety,
and self-possession of the typical New Englander. I liked the look of him; and, seeing
that he seemed solitary, even in a crowd, I offered him my last apple with a word of
interest. The keen blue eyes met mine gratefully, and the apple began to vanish in
vigorous bites as we talked; for no one thought of ceremony at such a time.
"Where are you from?"
"Are you glad to go?"
"Wal, there's two sides to that question. I calk'late to do my duty, and do it hearty: but it
_is_ rough on a feller leavin' his folks, for good, maybe."
There was a sudden huskiness in the man's voice that was not apple-skins, though he tried
to make believe that it was. I knew a word about home would comfort him, so I went on
with my questions.
"It is very hard. Do you leave a family?"
"My old mother, a sick brother,--and Lucindy."