When Frank woke the next morning the sun was shining into his window. He rubbed his eyes and tried to think what it was that occupied his mind the night before. It came to him in a moment, and jumping out of bed, he dressed himself with unusual expedition.
Hurrying down-stairs, he found his mother in the kitchen, busily engaged in getting breakfast.
"Where's father?" he asked.
"He hasn't come in from the barn yet, Frank," his mother answered. "You can have your breakfast now, if you are in a hurry to get to studying."
"Never mind, just now, mother," returned Frank. "I want to speak to father about something."
Taking his cap from the nail in the entry where it usually hung, Frank went out to the barn. He found that his father was nearly through milking.
"Is breakfast ready?" asked Mr. Frost, looking up. "Tell your mother she needn't wait for me."
"It isn't ready yet," said Frank. "I came out because I want to speak to you about something very particular."
"Very well, Frank, Go on."
"But if you don't think it a good plan, or think that I am foolish in speaking of it, don't say anything to anybody."
Mr. Frost looked at Frank in some little curiosity.
"Perhaps," he said, smiling, "like our neighbor Holman, you have formed a plan for bringing the war to a close."
Frank laughed. "I am not quite so presumptuous," he said. "You remember saying last night, that if I were old enough to take charge of the farm, you would have no hesitation in volunteering?"
"Don't you think I am old enough?" asked Frank eagerly.
"Why, you are only fifteen, Frank," returned his father, in surprise.
"I know it, but I am strong enough to do considerable work."
"It isn't so much that which is required. A man could easily be found to do the hardest of the work. But somebody is needed who understands farming, and is qualified to give directions. How much do you know of that?"
"Not much at present," answered Frank modestly, "but I think I could learn easily. Besides, there's Mr. Maynard, who is a good farmer, could advise me whenever I was in doubt, and you could write home directions in your letters."
"That is true," said Mr. Frost thoughtfully. "I will promise to give it careful consideration. But have you thought that you will be obliged to give up attending school."
"And, of course, that will put you back; your class-mates will get in advance of you."
"I have thought of that, father, and I shall be very sorry for it. But I think that is one reason why I desire the plan."
"I don't understand you, Frank," said his father, a little puzzled.
"You see, father, it would require a sacrifice on my part, and I should feel glad to think I had an opportunity of making a sacrifice for the sake of my country."
"That's the right spirit, Frank," said his father approvingly. "That's the way my grandfather felt and acted, and it's the way I like to see my son feel. So it would be a great sacrifice to me to leave you all."
"And to us to be parted from you, father," said Frank.
"I have no doubt of it, my dear boy," said his father kindly. "We have always been a happy and united family, and, please God, we always shall be. But this plan of yours requires consideration. I will talk it over with your mother and Mr. Maynard, and will then come to a decision."
"I was afraid you would laugh at me," said Frank.
"No," said his father, "it was a noble thought, and does you credit. I shall feel that, whatever course I may think it wisest to adopt."
The sound of a bell from the house reached them. This meant breakfast. Mr. Frost had finished milking, and with a well-filled pail in either hand, went toward the house.
"Move the milking:-stool, Frank," he said, looking behind him, "or the cow will kick it over."
Five minutes later they were at breakfast.
"I have some news for you, Mary," said Mr. Frost, as he helped his wife to a sausage.
"Indeed?" said she, looking up inquiringly.
"Some one has offered to take charge of the farm for me, in case I wish to go out as a soldier."
"Who is it?" asked Mrs. Frost, with strong interest.
"A gentleman with whom you are well--I may say intimately acquainted," was the smiling response.
"It isn't Mr. Maynard?"
"No. It is some one that lives nearer than he."
"How can that be? He is our nearest neighbor."
"Then you can't guess?"
"No. I am quite mystified."
"Suppose I should say that it is your oldest son?"
"What, Frank?" exclaimed Mrs. Frost, turning from her husband to her son, whose flushed face indicated how anxious he was about his mother's favorable opinion.
"You have hit it."
"You were not in earnest, Frank?" said Mrs. Frost inquiringly.
"I think he was. He certainly appeared to be."
"But what does Frank know about farming?"
"I asked him that question myself. He admitted that he didn't know much at present, but thought that, with Mr. Maynard's advice, he might get along."
Mrs. Frost was silent a moment. "It will be a great undertaking," she said, at last; "but if you think you can trust Frank, I will do all I can to help him. I can't bear to think of having you go, yet I am conscious that this is a feeling which I have no right to indulge at the expense of my country."
"Yes," said her husband seriously. "I feel that I owe my country a service which I have no right to delegate to another, as long as I am able to discharge it myself. I shall reflect seriously upon Frank's proposition."
There was no more said at this time. Both Frank and his parents felt that it was a serious matter, and not to be hastily decided.
After breakfast Frank went up-stairs, and before studying his Latin lesson, read over thoughtfully the following passage in his prize essay on "The Duties of American Boys at the Present Crisis:"
"Now that so large a number of our citizens have been withdrawn from their families and their ordinary business to engage in putting down this Rebellion, it becomes the duty of the boys to take their places as far as they are able to do so. A boy cannot wholly supply the place of a man, but he can do so in part. And where he is not called on to do this, he can so conduct himself that his friends who are absent may feel at ease about him. He ought to feel willing to give up some pleasures, if by so doing he can help to supply the places of those who are gone. If he does this voluntarily, and in the right spirit, he is just as patriotic as if he were a soldier in the field."
"I didn't think," thought Frank, "when I wrote this, how soon my words would come back to me. It isn't much to write the words. The thing is to stand by them. If father should decide to go, I will do my best, and then, when the Rebellion is over, I shall feel that I did something, even if It wasn't much, toward putting it down."
Frank put his essay carefully away in a bureau drawer in which he kept his clothes, and, spreading open his Latin lexicon, proceeded to prepare his lesson in the third book of Virgil's Aeneid.