The Jimmyjohn Boss and Other Stories HTML version

Napoleon Shave-Tail
Augustus Albumblatt, young and new and sleek with the latest book- knowledge
of war, reported to his first troop commander at Fort Brown. The ladies had
watched for him, because he would increase the number of men, the officers
because he would lessen the number of duties; and he joined at a crisis
favorable to becoming speedily known by them all. Upon that same day had
household servants become an extinct race. The last one, the commanding
officer's cook, had told the commanding officer's wife that she was used to living
where she could see the cars. She added that there was no society here "fit for
man or baste at all." This opinion was formed on the preceding afternoon when
Casey, a sergeant of roguish attractions in G troop, had told her that he was not
a marrying man. Three hours later she wedded a gambler, and this morning at
six they had taken the stage for Green River, two hundred miles south, the
nearest point where the bride could see the cars.
"Frank," said the commanding officer's wife, "send over to H troop for York."
"Catherine," he answered, "my dear, our statesmen at Washington say it's
wicked to hire the free American soldier to cook for you. It's too menial for his
"Frank, stuff!"
"Hush, my love. Therefore York must be spared the insult of twenty more dollars
a month, our statesmen must be re-elected, and you and I, Catherine, being
cookless, must join the general mess."
Thus did all separate housekeeping end, and the garrison began unitedly to eat
three times a day what a Chinaman set before them, when the long-expected
Albumblatt stepped into their midst, just in time for supper.
This youth was spic-and-span from the Military Academy, with a top-dressing of
three months' thoughtful travel in Germany. "I was deeply impressed with the
modernity of their scientific attitude," he pleasantly remarked to the commanding
officer. For Captain Duane, silent usually, talked at this first meal to make the boy
welcome in this forlorn two-company post.
"We're cut off from all that sort of thing here," said he. "I've not been east of the
Missouri since '69. But we've got the railroad across, and we've killed some
Indians, and we've had some fun, and we're glad we're alive--eh, Mrs. Starr?"
"I should think so," said the lady.
"Especially now we've got a bachelor at the post!" said Mrs. Bainbridge. "That
has been the one drawback, Mr. Albumblatt."