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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Outdoor Girls At The Hostess House - Chapter 9. The Bayonet Drill
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The Outdoor Girls At The Hostess House - Chapter 9. The Bayonet Drill Post by :jmarkum Category :Long Stories Author :Laura Lee Hope Date :May 2012 Read :3122

Click below to download : The Outdoor Girls At The Hostess House - Chapter 9. The Bayonet Drill (Format : PDF)

The Outdoor Girls At The Hostess House - Chapter 9. The Bayonet Drill

CHAPTER IX. THE BAYONET DRILL

It was a beautiful sunshiny day, and the girls felt their spirits soaring happily as they ran down the steps of the Hostess House and started across the parade.

Also the, what appeared to them, foolish objections of the boys to their attending the bayonet drill lent spice to the adventure, and they hurried on gaily over the parade.

Sergeant Mullins, who had unwittingly caused all the excitement, was, as the girls had said, a tall, splendidly built fellow, good looking to an unusual degree, but very silent and reserved.

He had seemed immensely attracted from the first by the girls from the Hostess House, and had made overtures in a half-shy, half-humorous manner that the girls themselves had found very attractive.

But to them he had been only one of many interesting soldier boys who had come and gone and whose meetings and partings with dear ones they had watched with swelling throats and tears in their own eyes.

But Sergeant Mullins was an expert with the bayonet and had been attached to Camp Liberty for the purpose of giving the boys special drills in that work.

He had proved so wonderfully successful that, much to his secret chagrin--for Sergeant Mullins, like all the rest of our brave boys, had dreamed of the great things he would do "over there"--the Government had decided to keep him at Camp Liberty indefinitely.

Then, one day, he had invited the girls, in return for the many little kindnesses they had done him, to attend one of his special, exhibition drills.

They had accepted eagerly, little dreaming of the storm their acceptance would evoke. And it is very doubtful whether, even if they had known, it would have made any difference, for they had long desired just this thing and knew that in years to come they would look back upon it as one of the biggest experiences in their lives.

"What time is it, Amy?" Betty inquired a little anxiously. "I'm afraid we stopped to talk too long to those women who came out to see their nephew, and I don't want to be late."

"We have just a minute to spare," returned Amy, and they quickened their pace.

"Wouldn't it be fun," said Mollie, her eyes sparkling, "if we could only meet the boys? I'd just like to pay them back for being so silly!"

"Maybe they'll be in the drill," drawled Grace hopefully.

"That would be adding insult to injury," Betty chuckled. "Then they never would forgive us."

"I just hate jealous people, anyway," added Grace, diving into her pocket and bringing forth a luscious bonbon which Mollie eyed covetously. "I think it's so ridiculous and narrow, don't you?"

"I think it's a good deal more ridiculous and narrow," grumbled Mollie, still hungrily eyeing the rapidly disappearing chocolate, "to keep all the candies to yourself."

"Oh, goodness! Take one," returned Grace, offering a capacious pocket. "I didn't know you were such a shy and shrinking little violet, Mollie. You usually are perfectly capable of helping yourself."

"Well, not out of your fuzzy old pocket," Mollie retorted ungraciously. "Why didn't you bring the box along?"

Grace eyed her pityingly.

"Wouldn't I look nice," she demanded, "lugging a candy box along to a bayonet drill?"

"I think you'd probably be exceedingly popular," Betty broke in, with a chuckle. "You'd have all the boys around you in earnest."

"And then what would Roy say?" teased Amy. "He'd never speak to poor Grace again."

"Poor Grace, indeed!" sniffed the owner of the name scornfully. "I'd just like to have anybody try to 'poor Grace' me! He'd never do it a second time."

"Goodness, don't look so ferocious, Gracie," Mollie soothed her. "Some one give her another candy--do."

"I'm not a cripple," Grace retorted, evidently in a belligerent mood. "I've always been quite able to help myself."

"So we've noticed," murmured Mollie irrepressibly.

"Will you two please listen to reason?" queried Betty, in her primmest tones.

"Yes, grandma," replied Mollie soberly--which was so ridiculous that even Betty dimpled. "What have we done now?"

"Nothing. It's what you may do," Betty answered, adding, in an explanatory tone: "You see, we are just about to enter the sacred precincts of the drill ground, and it is fitting that we do so with an air of propriety and sobriety."

"Goodness, is she insulting us?" cried Mollie, in mock indignation. "I'll have you know, Miss Nelson, that I, for one, am not intoxicated and, what is more, never expect to be."

"Goodness! that is a relief," sighed Grace, who had been hanging breathlessly on her words. "I thought you were going to say 'I am not drunk, but soon shall be,' or words to that effect--"

"But will you listen?" cried Betty despairingly. "I've got about as much chance of saying anything sensible--"

"As the man in the moon," finished Grace innocently, then, meeting Betty's outraged eye, added hastily: "Oh, wasn't that what you were going to say?"

"No, it wasn't," Betty was beginning, when Mollie, for the first time in her life played the part of peacemaker.

"Go ahead, honey," she interrupted soothingly. "We're all ears."

"Speak for yourself," Grace murmured.

But this time Betty would not yield, and insisted upon being heard.

"Please listen a minute, girls," she begged. "You know we've got a reputation, deserved or not, of being respectable--"

"Oh, what a mistake," interpolated Mollie.

"I said it might be a mistake," Betty continued patiently, although her eyes twinkled. "Anyway, we've got to live up to it--Goodness! just look at the boys. I guess the whole camp must be in the drill."

"Yes, I guess Sergeant Mullins was right when he said it was to be an exhibition drill," agreed Mollie, all fun temporarily swallowed up in a very real admiration of the spectacle before them.

"It's no wonder that Sergeant Mullins is considered a very important personage around here," added Amy.

"Oh, look!" cried Grace, as they sat down upon a convenient bench. "They've started. Oh, girls, I'm glad I came!"

Mutely the girls echoed the sentiment, and for the next hour they sat motionless, eyes and attention glued upon the magnificent spectacle of a thousand men, running, advancing, retreating, attacking, all in obedience to one great plan.

They forgot it was only a sham attack, an imitation battle, an exhibition drill. For the moment a curtain had been lifted and they were permitted to see something of the glory, the passion, the horror of democracy's struggle against the armed autocracy of the world.

When it was over they sighed and came back to the present almost with a shock; so greatly had they been engrossed in the scene.

"Well, Sergeant Mullins may not be much of a talker," were Mollie's first words as they rose to go back, "but he certainly knows how to act!"

"It was wonderful!" breathed Betty, her eyes gleaming. "Just think what it must be to be a man in these times! To be able to fight for one's country!"

"Well, I don't know," said Amy, with a little shudder. "That part of it's all right. But when it comes to being maimed and crippled for life it isn't so much fun."

"Oh, Amy, don't!" cried Grace, clapping her hands to her ears, while Betty continued spiritedly:

"I didn't say it was fun," she cried. "Naturally the boys have to take into consideration the possibility of all that you said, Amy. But there's no glory in the world like giving yourself for a great cause--"

"Hear, hear!" came a masculine voice in applause, and they turned to find Allen and Frank close behind them.

"Well, what will you have?" asked Mollie, eyeing them hostilely. "We thought you were lost and gone forever like Clementine--"

"And were quite reconciled," finished Betty primly, her eyes twinkling.

"Oh, you did, did you?" cried Frank, regarding Mollie's haughtily tip-tilt little nose with mingled fear and admiration. "Well, I'll have you know, young lady, that you can't get rid of us as easily as all that. May I be permitted to walk beside you, mam'selle?"

Mollie sighed and permitted the liberty with an air of great resignation.

In the meanwhile, Allen was whispering into Betty's almost reluctant little ear.

"Did you really mean what you said about its being glorious to give yourself for a great cause?" he asked softly.

"Why, I--g-guess so," she stammered, taken off her guard. "Why?"

"Oh, just because," he answered vaguely, watching the elusive little dimple at the corner of her mouth, "I might want to remind you of it--some day."

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