888 THE GOLDEN TREASURE
sounded, ' Rub-a-dub, all up, all up !' Yes, he was certainly born to be a drummer.
The day of battle dawned. The sun had not yet risen, but the morning was come. The air was cold, the battle was hot, there was mist in the air, but still more gunpowder-smoke. The bullets and shells flew over the soldiers' heads, and into their heads, into their bodies and limbs ; but still they pressed forward. Here or there one or other of them would sink on his knees, with bleeding temples and a face as white as chalk. The little drummer still kept his healthy colour ; he had suffered no damage ; he looked cheerfully at the dog of the regiment, which was jumping along as merrily as if the whole thing had been got up for his amusement, and as if the bullets were only flying about that he might have a game of play with them.
1 March ! Forward ! March ! ' These were the words of command for the drum, and they were words not to be taken back ; but they may be taken back at times, and there may be wisdom in doing so ; and now at last the word ' Retire' was given ; but our little drummer beat ' Forward ! march ! ' for so he had understood the command, and the soldiers obeyed the sound of the drum. That was a good roll, and proved the summons to victory for the men, who had already begun to give way.
Life and limb were lost in the battle. Bomb-shells tore away the flesh in red strips ; bomb-shells lit up into a terrible glow the straw-heaps to which the wounded had dragged themselves, to lie untended for many hours, perhaps for all the hours they had to live.
It's no use thinking of it; and yet one cannot help thinking of it, even far away in the peaceful town. The drummer and his wife also thought of it, for Peter was at the war.
1 Now, I'm tired of these complaints/ said the Fire-drum.
Again the day of battle dawned; the sun had not yet risen, but it was morning. The drummer and his wife were asleep, which they had not been nearly all night: they had been talking about their son, who was out yonder, in God's hand. And the father dreamt that the war was over, that the soldiers had returned home, and that Peter wore a silver cross on his breast. But the mother dreamt that she had gone into the church, and had seen the painted pictures and