The other men made no answer.
“Le’s see what we can do this year. I don’t care if we be a poor han’ful,” urged Henry Merrill. “The young folks ought to have the good of it; I’d like to have my boys see somethin’ different. Le’s get together what men there is. How many’s left, anyhow? I know there was thirty-seven went from old Barlow, three-months’ men an’ all.”
“There can’t be over eight now, countin’ out Martin Tighe; he can’t march,” said Stover. “No, ’tain’t worth while.” But the others did not notice his disapproval.
“There’s nine in all,” announced Asa Brown, after pondering and counting two or three times on his fingers. “I can’t make us no more. I never could carry figur’s in my head.”
“I make nine,” said Merrill. “We’ll have Martin ride, an’ Jesse Dean too, if he will. He’s awful lively on them canes o’ his. An’ there’s Jo Wade with his crutch; he’s amazin’ spry for a short distance. But we can’t let ’em go far afoot; they’re decripped men. We’ll make ’em all put on what they’ve got left o’ their uniforms, an’ we’ll scratch round an’ have us a fife an’ drum, an’ make the best show we can.”
“Why, Martin Tighe’s boy, the next to the oldest, is an excellent hand to play the fife!” said John Stover, suddenly growing enthusiastic. “If you two are set on it, let’s have a word with the minister to-morrow, an’ see what he says. Perhaps he’ll give out some kind of a notice. You have to have a good many bunches o’ flowers. I guess we’d better call a meetin’, some few on us, an’ talk it over first o’ the week. ’Twouldn’t be no great of a range for us to take to march from the old buryin’-ground at the meetin’-house here up to the poor-farm an’ round by Deacon Elwell’s lane, so’s to notice them two stones he set up for his boys that was sunk on the man-o’-war. I expect they notice stones same’s if the folks laid there, don’t they?”
He spoke wistfully. The others knew that Stover was thinking of the stone he had set up to the memory of his only brother, whose nameless grave had been made somewhere in the Wilderness.
“I don’t know but what they’ll be mad if we don’t go by every house in town,” he added anxiously, as they rose to go home. “’Tis a terrible scattered population in Barlow to favor with a procession.”
It was a mild starlit night. The three friends took their separate ways presently, leaving the Plains road and crossing the fields by foot-paths toward their farms.
The week went by, and the next Saturday morning brought fair weather. It was a busy morning on the farms—like any other; but long before noon the teams of horses and oxen were seen going home from work in the fields, and everybody got ready in haste for the great event of the afternoon. It was so seldom that any occasion roused public interest in Barlow that there was an unexpected response, and the green before the old