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Ramsey Milholland   By: (1869-1946)

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by Booth Tarkington

To the Memory of Billy Miller (William Henry Harrison Miller II) 1908 1918 Little Patriot, Good Citizen Friend of Mankind

Chapter I

When Johnnie comes marching home again, Hurrah! Hurrah! We'll give him a hearty welcome then, Hurrah! Hurrah! The men with the cheers, the boys with shouts, The ladies they will all turn out, And we'll all feel gay, when Johnnie comes marching home again!

The old man and the little boy, his grandson, sat together in the shade of the big walnut tree in the front yard, watching the "Decoration Day Parade," as it passed up the long street; and when the last of the veterans was out of sight the grandfather murmured the words of the tune that came drifting back from the now distant band at the head of the procession.

"Yes, we'll all feel gay when Johnnie comes marching home again," he finished, with a musing chuckle.

"Did you, Grandpa?" the boy asked.

"Did I what?"

"Did you all feel gay when the army got home?"

"It didn't get home all at once, precisely," the grandfather explained. "When the war was over I suppose we felt relieved, more than anything else."

"You didn't feel so gay when the war was , though, I guess!" the boy ventured.

"I guess we didn't."

"Were you scared, Grandpa? Were you ever scared the Rebels would win?"

"No. We weren't ever afraid of that."

"Not any at all?"

"No. Not any at all."

"Well, weren't you ever scared yourself, Grandpa? I mean when you were in a battle."

"Oh, yes; then I was." The old man laughed. "Scared plenty!"

"I don't see why," the boy said promptly. "I wouldn't be scared in a battle."

"Wouldn't you?"

"'Course not! Grandpa, why don't you march in the Decoration Day Parade? Wouldn't they let you?"

"I'm not able to march any more. Too short of breath and too shaky in the legs and too blind."

"I wouldn't care," said the boy. "I'd be in the parade anyway, if I was you. They had some sittin' in carriages, 'way at the tail end; but I wouldn't like that. If I'd been in your place, Grandpa, and they'd let me be in that parade, I'd been right up by the band. Look, Grandpa! Watch me, Grandpa! This is the way I'd be, Grandpa."

He rose from the garden bench where they sat, and gave a complex imitation of what had most appealed to him as the grandeurs of the procession, his prancing legs simulating those of the horse of the grand marshal, while his upper parts rendered the drums and bugles of the band, as well as the officers and privates of the militia company which had been a feature of the parade. The only thing he left out was the detachment of veterans.

"Putty boom! Putty boom! Putty boom boom boom!" he vociferated, as the drums and then as the bugles: "Ta, ta, ra, tara!" He addressed his restive legs: " Whoa , there, you Whitey! Gee! Haw! Git up!" Then, waving an imaginary sword: "Col lumn right! Farwud March! Halt! Carry harms! " He "carried arms." "Show dler harms! " He "shouldered arms," and returned to his seat.

"That'd be me, Grandpa. That's the way I'd do." And as the grandfather nodded, seeming to agree, a thought recently dismissed returned to the mind of the composite procession and he asked:

"Well, why weren't you ever afraid the Rebels would whip the Unions, Grandpa?"

"Oh, we knew they couldn't."

"I guess so." The little boy laughed disdainfully, thinking his question satisfactorily answered. "I guess those ole Rebels couldn't whipped a flea! They didn't know how to fight any at all, did they, Grandpa?"

"Oh, yes, they did!"

"What?" The boy was astounded. "Weren't they all just reg'lar ole cowards, Grandpa?"

"No," said the grandfather. "They were pretty fine soldiers."

"They were? Well, they ran away whenever you began shootin' at 'em, didn't they?"

"Sometimes they did, but most times they didn't. Sometimes they fought like wildcats and sometimes we were the ones that ran away."

"What for?"

"To keep from getting killed, or maybe to keep from getting captured... Continue reading book >>

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