In half an hour Pomp was on his way back, laden with a basketful of provisions for his sick mother and himself.
It was fortunate for Mrs. Frost that she was so soon called upon to think for others. It gave her less time to grieve over her husband's absence, which was naturally a severe trial to her. As for Frank, though the harvest was gathered in, there were plenty of small jobs to occupy his attention. He divided with Jacob the care of the cows, and was up betimes in the morning to do his share of the milking. Then the pigs and chickens must be fed every day, and this Frank took entirely into his own charge. Wood, also, must be prepared for the daily wants of the house, and this labor he shared with Jacob.
In the afternoon, however, Frank usually had two or three hours at his own disposal, and this, in accordance with a previous determination, he resolved to devote to keeping up his studies. He did not expect to make the same progress that he would have done if he had been able to continue at school, but it was something to feel that he was not remaining stationary.
Frank resolved to say nothing to his classmates about his private studies. They would think he was falling far behind, and at some future time he would surprise them.
Still, there were times when he felt the need of a teacher. He would occasionally encounter difficulties which he found himself unable to surmount without assistance. At such times he thought of Mr Rathburn's kind offer. But his old teacher lived nearly a mile distant, and he felt averse to troubling him, knowing that his duties in school were arduous.
Occasionally he met some of his schoolmates. As nearly all of them were friendly and well-disposed to him, this gave him pleasure, and brought back sometimes the wish that he was as free as they. But this wish was almost instantly checked by the thought that he had made a sacrifice for his country's sake.
A few days after the incident narrated in the last chapter, Frank was out in the woods not far from Chloe's cottage, collecting brushwood, to be afterward carried home, when his attention was called to an altercation, one of the parties in which he readily recognized as little Pomp. To explain how it came about, we shall have to go back a little.
Pomp was returning from Mrs. Frost's, swinging a tin kettle containing provisions for his mother and himself, when all at once he met John Haynes, who was coming from the opposite direction.