Dr Martin wore a close-fitting black silk cap.
Well, the answer to the old riddle, “Why does a miller wear a white hat?” is, “To keep his head warm.”
That answer would do for a reply to the question why this grey, anxious-looking Dr Martin wore a close-fitting black silk cap as he sat poring over an old book opposite Phil Carleton, who also bent over a book; but he was not reading, for he had a pencil in his fingers and a sheet of paper covering one page, upon which sheet he was making notes.
Not a single one, for Phil was not far enough advanced for such work as that. He was drawing, after a fashion, and very busily, when the old Doctor, his tutor, suddenly looked up.
“Now, my dear boy,” he said, “can you say that declension?”
Phil started and shut up the book suddenly, turning very red the while.
“Don’t you know it yet?” said the Doctor, gravely.
The boy shook his head and looked terribly confused.
“Then you cannot have been studying it. What have you there?”
The Doctor spoke like a Frenchman, and said dere.
“Ah,” he continued, reaching out his hand and drawing out the paper. “I see, drawing-soldiers, eh?”
“Vairy fonnee soldiers, my boy. I should not know but for this sword. And is this a gun?”
Phil nodded again.
“Ah,” said the old French-Canadian, “it is a pity you think so much of soldiers. You should learn your lesson.”
“I’m going to be a soldier—some day,” said Phil.
“Ah, yes, some day. Like my dear old friend, your father,” said the Doctor, with a sigh.
“Yes,” cried the boy, eagerly. “Is he coming to see me, Dr Martin?”
“Why do you ask? Are you not happy here?”
“Not very,” said the boy, sadly.
“Ah, I am sorry. What is the reason? There, speak out.”
The boy hesitated for a few moments, and then burst out with, “It’s because of the Latin, and what Pierre said.”
“Ah, the Latin is hard, my child; but if you work hard it will grow easy. But tell me; what does Pierre say?”
“He says the French are going to fight the English and drive them out of the country, and my father is sure to be killed.”
“Pierre is a bad, cruel boy to speak to you like that. He deserves the stick.”
“Then there is not going to be any fighting, Dr Martin?”
The old man shook his head.
“I am afraid,” he said, sadly. “Perhaps you ought to know, my child. The English troops are advancing against the city yonder, and I am very anxious. I am hoping every day to obtain some news from your father—a letter or a message, to tell me what to do. It is unfortunate that we should be staying here among my people and war to begin.”
“Then there is going to be fighting?” cried the boy.
“I fear so, my boy.”
“Then I know.”
“You know what, Phil?”
“My father will come and fetch me.” The old man shook his head.
“He is with his regiment, my child, and could not come away.”
The old man stopped short, for the door was suddenly thrown open, and a big, heavy-looking boy of seventeen or eighteen came hurriedly in....