As Pomp's education will not again be referred to, it may be said that when Frank had discovered how to manage him, he learned quite rapidly. Chloe, who was herself unable to read, began to look upon Pomp with a new feeling of respect when she found that he could read stories in words of one syllable, and the "lickings" of which he complained became less frequent. But his love of fun still remained, and occasionally got him into trouble, as we shall hereafter have occasion to see.
CHAPTER XXI. THE BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG
About the middle of December came the sad tragedy of Fredericksburg, in which thousands of our gallant soldiers yielded up their lives in a hard, unequal struggle, which brought forth nothing but mortification and disaster.
The first telegrams which appeared in the daily papers brought anxiety and bodings of ill to many households. The dwellers at the farm were not exempt. They had been apprised by a recent letter that Mr. Frost's regiment now formed a part of the grand army which lay encamped on the eastern side of the Rappahannock. The probability was that he was engaged in the battle. Frank realized for the first time to what peril his father was exposed, and mingled with the natural feeling which such a thought was likely to produce was the reflection that, but for him, his father would have been in safety at home.
"Did I do right?" Frank asked himself anxiously, the old doubt recurring once more.
Then, above the selfish thought of peril to him and his, rose the consideration of the country's need, and Frank said to himself, "I have done right--whatever happens. I feel sure of that."
Yet his anxiety was by no means diminished, especially when, a day or two afterward, tidings of the disaster came to hand, only redeemed by the masterly retreat across the river, in which a great army, without the loss of a single gun, ambulance, or wagon, withdrew from the scene of a hopeless struggle, under the very eyes of the enemy, yet escaping discovery.
One afternoon Frank went to the post-office a little after the usual time. As he made his way through a group at the door, he notice compassionate glances directed toward him.