"The time has now come when I feel that I can safely leave you to yourselves, There are those among you who are competent to carry on the work which I have commenced. It will be desirable for you at once to form a company organization. As there are but fifty on your muster-roll, being about half the usual number, you will not require as many officers. I recommend the election of a captain, first and second lieutenants, three sergeants and three corporals. You have already become somewhat accustomed to company drill, so that you will be able to go on by yourselves under the guidance of your officers. If any doubtful questions should arise, I shall always be happy to give you any information or assistance in my power.
"And now, boys, I will bid you farewell in my capacity of instructor, but I need not say that I shall continue to watch with interest your progress in the military art."
Here Mr. Morton bowed, and sat down.
After the applause which followed his speech had subsided, there was a silence and hush of expectation among the boys, after which Charles Reynolds rose slowly, and, taking from the seat beside him a package, advanced toward Mr. Morton and made a brief speech of presentation, having been deputed by the boys to perform that duty.
"MR MORTON: I stand here in behalf of the boys present, who wish to express to you their sense of your kindness in giving them the course of lessons which has just ended. We have taken up much of your time, and no doubt have tried your patience more than once. If we have improved, as you were kind enough to say, we feel that it is principally owing to our good fortune in having so skilful a teacher. We wish to present you some testimonial of the regard which we have for you, and accordingly ask your acceptance of this copy of 'Abbott's Life of Napoleon.' We should have been glad to give you something more valuable, but we are sure you will value the gift for other reasons than its cost."
Here Charles Reynolds sat down, and all eyes were turned toward Mr. Morton. It was evident that he was taken by surprise. It was equally evident that he was much gratified by this unexpected token of regard.
He rose and with much feeling spoke as follows:
"My dear boys, for you must allow me to call you so, I can hardly tell you how much pleasure your kind gift has afforded me. It gives me the assurance, which indeed, I did not need, that you are as much my friends as I am yours. The connection between us has afforded me much pleasure and satisfaction. In training you to duties which patriotism may hereafter devolve upon you, though I pray Heaven that long before that time our terrible civil strife may be at an end, I feel that I have helped you to do something to show your loyal devotion to the country which we all love and revere." Here there was loud applause. "If you were a few years older, I doubt not that your efforts would be added to those of your fathers and brothers who are now encountering the perils and suffering the privations of war. And with a little practise I am proud to say that you would not need to be ashamed of the figure you would cut in the field.