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before.bedtime.peperonity.net

☻The Golden Treasure☻

THE drummer’s wife went into the church. She saw the new altar with the painted pictures and the carved angels. Those upon the canvas and in the glory over the altar were just as beautiful as the carved ones; and they were painted and gilt into the bargain. Their hair gleamed golden in the sunshine, lovely to behold; but the real sunshine was more beautiful still. It shone redder, clearer through the dark trees, when the sun went down. It was lovely thus to look at the sunshine of heaven. And she looked at the red sun, and she thought about it so deeply, and thought of the little one whom the stork was to bring, and the wife of the drummer was very cheerful, and looked and looked, and wished that the child might have a gleam of sunshine given to it, so that it might at least become like one of the shining angels over the altar.

And when she really had the little child in her arms, and held it up to its father, then it was like one of the angels in the church to behold, with hair like gold—the gleam of the setting sun was upon it.

“My golden treasure, my riches, my sunshine!” said the mother; and she kissed the shining locks, and it sounded like music and song in the room of the drummer; and there was joy, and life, and movement. The drummer beat a roll—a roll of joy. And the Drum said—the Fire-drum, that was beaten when there was a fire in the town:

“Red hair! the little fellow has red hair! Believe the drum, and not what your mother says! Rub-a dub, rub-a dub!”

And the town repeated what the Fire-drum had said.

The boy was taken to church, the boy was christened. There was nothing much to be said about his name; he was called Peter. The whole town, and the Drum too, called him Peter the drummer’s boy with the red hair; but his mother kissed his red hair, and called him her golden treasure.

In the hollow way in the clayey bank, many had scratched their names as a remembrance.

“Celebrity is always something!” said the drummer; and so he scratched his own name there, and his little son’s name likewise.

And the swallows came. They had, on their long journey, seen more durable characters engraven on rocks, and on the walls of the temples in Hindostan, mighty deeds of great kings, immortal names, so old that no one now could read or speak them. Remarkable celebrity!

In the clayey bank the martens built their nest. They bored holes in the deep declivity, and the splashing rain and the thin mist came and crumbled and washed the names away, and the drummer’s name also, and that of his little son.

“Peter’s name will last a full year and a half longer!” said the father.

“Fool!” thought the Fire-drum; but it only said, “Dub, dub, dub, rub-a-dub!”

He was a boy full of life and gladness, this drummer’s son with the red hair. He had a lovely voice. He could sing, and he sang like a bird in the woodland. There was melody, and yet no melody.

“He must become a chorister boy,” said his mother. “He shall sing in the church, and stand among the beautiful gilded angels who are like him!”

“Fiery cat!” said some of the witty ones of the town.

The Drum heard that from the neighbors’ wives.

“Don’t go home, Peter,” cried the street boys. “If you sleep in the garret, there’ll be a fire in the house, and the fire-drum will have to be beaten.”

“Look out for the drumsticks,” replied Peter; and, small as he was, he ran up boldly, and gave the foremost such a punch in the body with his fist, that the fellow lost his legs and tumbled over, and the others took their legs off with themselves very rapidly.

The town musician was very genteel and fine. He was the son of the royal plate-washer. He was very fond of Peter, and would sometimes take him to his home; and he gave him a violin, and taught him to play it. It seemed as if the whole art lay in the boy’s fingers; and he wanted to be more than a drummer—he wanted to become musician to the town.

“I’ll be a soldier,” said Peter; for he was still quite a little lad, and it seemed to him the finest thing in the world to carry a gun, and to be able to march one, two—one, two, and to wear a uniform and a sword.

“Ah, you learn to long for the drum-skin, drum, dum, dum!” said the Drum.

“Yes, if he could only march his way up to be a general!” observed his father; “but before he can do that, there must be war.”

“Heaven forbid!” said his mother.

“We have nothing to lose,” remarked the father.

“Yes, we have my boy,” she retorted.

“But suppose he came back a general!” said the father.

“Without arms and legs!” cried the mother. “No, I would rather keep my golden treasure with me.”

“Drum, dum, dum!” The Fire-drum and all the other drums were beating, for war had come. The soldiers all set out, and the son of the drummer followed them. “Red-head. Golden treasure!”

The mother wept; the father in fancy saw him “famous;” the town musician was of opinion that he ought not to go to war, but should stay at home and learn music.

“Red-head,” said the soldiers, and little Peter laughed; but when one of them sometimes said to another, “Foxey,” he would bite his teeth together and look another way—into the wide world. He did not care for the nickname.

The boy was active, pleasant of speech, and good-humored; that is the best canteen, said his old comrades.

And many a night he had to sleep under the open sky, wet through with the driving rain or the falling mist; but his good humor never forsook him. The drum-sticks 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 color; 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.

“March! Forward! March!” This, was the word of command for the drum. The word had not yet been given to fall back, though they might have done so, and perhaps there would have been much sense in it; and now at last the word “Retire” was given; but our little drummer beat “Forward! march!” for he had understood the command thus, 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. Bombshells tore away the flesh in red strips; bombshells lit up into a terrible glow the strawheaps 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.

“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. They had been talking about their son, as, indeed, they did almost every night, for he 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 the carved angels with the gilded hair, and her own dear boy, the golden treasure of her heart, who was standing among the angels in white robes, singing so sweetly, as surely only the angels can sing; and that he had soared up with them into the sunshine, and nodded so kindly at his mother.

“My golden treasure!” she cried out; and she awoke. “Now the good God has taken him to Himself!” She folded her hands, and hid her face in the cotton curtains of the bed, and wept. “Where does he rest now? among the many in the big grave that they have dug for the dead? Perhaps he’s in the water in the marsh! Nobody knows his grave; no holy words have been read over it!” And the Lord’s Prayer went inaudibly over her lips; she bowed her head, and was so weary that she went to sleep.


And the days went by, in life as in dreams!

It was evening. Over the battle-field a rainbow spread, which touched the forest and the deep marsh.

It has been said, and is preserved in popular belief, that where the rainbow touches the earth a treasure lies buried, a golden treasure; and here there was one. No one but his mother thought of the little drummer, and therefore she dreamt of him.


And the days went by, in life as in dreams!

Not a hair of his head had been hurt, not a golden hair.

“Drum-ma-rum! drum-ma-rum! there he is!” the Drum might have said, and his mother might have sung, if she had seen or dreamt it.

With hurrah and song, adorned with green wreaths of victory, they came home, as the war was at an end, and peace had been signed. The dog of the regiment sprang on in front with large bounds, and made the way three times as long for himself as it really was.

And days and weeks went by, and Peter came into his parents’ room. He was as brown as a wild man, and his eyes were bright, and his face beamed like sunshine. And his mother held him in her arms; she kissed his lips, his forehead, and his red hair. She had her boy back again; he had not a silver cross on his breast, as his father had dreamt, but he had sound limbs, a thing the mother had not dreamt. And what a rejoicing was there! They laughed and they wept; and Peter embraced the old Fire-drum.

“There stands the old skeleton still!” he said.

And the father beat a roll upon it.

“One would think that a great fire had broken out here,” ...
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