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Quite So
by [?]

“Rather damp night out,” remarked Blakely, whose strong hand was supposed to be conversation.

“Quite so,” replied the stranger, not curtly, but pleasantly, and with an air as if he had said all there was to be said about it.

“Come from the North recently?” inquired Blakely, after a pause.


“From any place in particular?”


“People considerably stirred up down there?” continued Blakely, determined not to give up.

“Quite so.”

Blakely threw a puzzled look over the tent, and seeing Ned Strong on the broad grin, frowned merely. Strong instantly assumed an abstracted air, and began humming softly,

“I wish I was in Dixie.”

“The State of Maine,” observed Blakely, with certain defiance of manner not at all necessary discussing a geographical question, “is a pleasant State.”

“In summer,” suggested the stranger.

“In summer, I mean,” returned Blakely with animation, thinking he had broken the ice. Cold as blazes in winter, though,óis n’t it?”

The new recruit merely nodded.

Blakely eyed the man homicidally for a moment, and then, smiling one of those smiles of simulated gayety which the novelists inform us more tragic than tears, turned upon him with withering irony.

“Trust you left the old folks pretty comfortable?”


“The old folks dead!”

“Quite so.”

Blakely made a sudden dive for his blanket, tucked it around him with painful precision, and was heard no more.

Just then the bugle sounded “lights out,”óbugle answering bugle in far-off camps. When our not elaborate night-toilets were complete, Strong threw somebody else’s old boot at the candle with infallible aim, and darkness took possession of the tent. Ned, who lay on my left, presently reached over to me, and whispered, “I say, our friend ‘quite so’ is a garrulous old boy! He’ll talk himself to death some of these odd times, if he is n’t careful. How he did run on!”

The next morning, when I opened my eyes, the new member of Mess 6 was sitting on his knapsack, combing his blond beard with a horn comb. He nodded pleasantly to me, and to each of the boys as they woke up, one by one. Blakely did not appear disposed to renew the animated conversation of the previous night; but while he was gone to make a requisition for what was in pure sarcasm called coffee, Curtis ventured to ask the man his name.

“Bladburn, John,” was the reply.

“That’s rather an unwieldy name for everyday use,” put in Strong. If it would n’t hurt your feelings, I’d like to call you Quite So,ó for short. Don’t say no, if you don’t like it. Is it agreeable?”

Bladburn gave a little laugh, all to himself, seemingly, and was about to say, “Quite so,” when he caught at the words, blushed like a girl, and nodded a sunny assent to Strong. From that day until the end, the sobriquet clung to him.

The disaster at Bull Run was followed, as the reader knows, by a long period of masterly inactivity, so far as the Army of the Potomac was concerned. McDowell, a good soldier but unlucky, retired to Arlington Heights, and McClellan, who had distinguished himself in Western Virginia, took command of the forces in front of Washington, and bent his energies to reorganizing the demoralized troops. It was a dreary time to the people of the North, who looked fatuously from week to week for “the fall of Richmond”; and it was a dreary time to the denizens of that vast city of tents and forts which stretched in a semicircle before the beleaguered Capitol,óso tedious and soul-wearing a time that the hardships of forced marches and the horrors of battle became desirable things to them.

Roll-call morning and evening, guard-duty, dress-parades, an occasional reconnoissance, dominos, wrestling-matches, and such rude games as could be carried on in camp made up the sum of our lives. The arrival of the mail with letters and papers from home was the event of the day. We noticed that Bladburn neither wrote nor received any letters. When the rest of the boys were scribbling away for dear life, with drumheads and knapsacks and cracker-boxes for writing-desks, he would sit serenely smoking his pipe, but looking out on us through rings of smoke with a face expressive of the tenderest interest.

Look here, Quite So,” Strong would say, “the mail-bag closes in half an hour. Ain’t you going to write?”