The drummer's wife went to church and saw the new altar with painted pictures and carved angels. The angels were very beautiful, both those painted on cloth, in all their colors and glory, and those carved in wood, painted and gilded. Their hair shone like gold and sunshine and was beautiful to look at. But God's sunshine was still more beautiful; it glowed bright and red between the dark trees as the sun was setting. And as the woman gazed on the descending sun, her innermost thoughts were about the little child the stork was bringing her. She was radiantly happy as she gazed, and she wished most fervently that her child might be as bright as a sunbeam, or at least look like one of the shining angels on the altarpiece.
And when she actually lifted up her child in her arms to show her husband, it seemed to her that the infant really did resemble one of the angels in the church; at least it had golden hair, hair that had caught the reflection of that setting sun.
"My Golden Treasure, my wealth, my sunshine!" said the mother as she kissed the bright locks; and this sounded like music and song in the drummer's home; there was joy, and lots of life, and celebrating. The drummer beat a whirlwind on his drum, a whirlwind of happiness; the drum, the fire drum shouted, "Red hair! The young one has red hair! Listen, believe the drum and not the mother! Dr-rum-a-lum! Dr-rum-a-lum!"
And all the town agreed with what the fire drum said.
The boy was taken to church and was christened. There was nothing unusual about the name given him; he was called Peter. Everybody in town called him "Peter, the drummer's red-haired boy," but his mother kissed that red hair and called him "Golden Treasure."
In the clayey embankment along the hollow road, many people had scratched their names to be remembered. "Fame," said the drummer. "That's always important." So he, too, scratched his name there and that of his little son. And in the spring the swallows came; in their long travels they had seen many characters cut into rock cliffs, and on the temple walls of India, telling of the great deeds of mighty kings, immortal names so old that no one could even read them now. Name value! Fame! The swallows built their nests in the hollow road, in holes in the embankment. Rain crumbled it and washed away all the names, the drummer's and his little son's with them. "However, Peter's name stayed there for a year and a half," said the father.
"Fool!" thought the fire drum, but it only said, "Dr-rum, dr-rum, dr-rum! Dr-rum-a-lum!"
"The drummer's son with the red hair" was a lively and high-spirited boy. He had a lovely voice; he could sing, and sing he did, as does the bird in the forest: all melody and no tune. He ought to be a choirboy," said his mother, "and sing in the church, standing under the pretty gilded angels whom he looks like."
"Fire cat!" said the town wits. The drum heard it from the neighbors.
"Don't go home, Peter," cried the street boys. "If they make you sleep in the attic your hair will set the thatch on fire, and that will start the fire drum."
"Look out for the drumsticks!" retorted Peter; although he was only a little fellow, he was courageous, and threw his fist right into the stomach of the boy nearest him, knocking his legs from under him; and the others took to their legs - their own legs!
The state musician was proud and haughty; he was the son of a royal servant. He liked Peter and took him home with him for hours at a time, gave him a violin and taught him to play; it seemed to show in the boy's fingers that he would become more than a drummer, that he would become a state musician.
"I want to be a soldier," said Peter, for he was still a very small fellow and thought it would be the finest thing in the world to shoulder a gun and to march - "One, two! One, two!" - and to wear a uniform and carry a saber.
"You'll learn to obey the drum! Dr-rum-a-lum! Come, come!" said the drum.
"Yes, you may march ahead to become a general," said the father, "but only if there is a war."
"God save us from that!" said the mother.
"We have nothing to lose!" said the drummer.
"Yes, we have my boy!" said she.
"But when he could come home a general!" said the father.