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Brander spoke to me afterward and asked me some absurd questions as to whether I had seen Ouless cut the coat off Ortheris's back. I knew that jagged sliver of silver would do its work well, but I contrived to impress on Brander the completeness, the wonderful completeness of my disassociation from that drill. I began to tell him all about my dreams for the new territorial army in India, and he left me.
I could not see Ortheris for some days, but was told that when he returned to his fellows, he had told the story of the blow in vivid language. Samuelson, the Jew, then asserted that it was not good enough to live in a regiment where you were drilled off your feet and knocked about like a dog. The remark was a perfectly innocent one, and exactly tallied with Ortheris's expressed opinions. Yet Or theris had called Samuelson an unmentionable Jew, had accused him of kicking women on the head in London, and howl. ing under the cat, had hustled him, as a bantam hustles a barn-door cock, from one end of the barrack-room to the other; and finally had heaved every single article in Samuelson's valise and bedding-roll into the veranda and the outer dirt, kicking Samuelson every time that the bewildered creature stooped to pick anything up. My informant could not account for this inconsistency, but it seemed to me that Ortheris was working off his temper.
Mulvaney had heard the story in hospital. First his face clouded, then he spat, and then he laughed. I suggested that he had better return to active duty, but he saw it in another light, and told me that Ortheris was quite capable of looking after himself and his own affairs. "An' if I did come out," said Terence, "like as not I would be catchin' young Ouless by the scruff av his trousies an' makin' an example av him before the men. Whin Dinah came back I would be under courtmartial, an' all for the sake av a little bit av a bhoy that'll make an orf'cer yet. What's he goin' to do, sorr, do ye know?" "Which?" said I.
"Ouless, av course. I've no fear for the man. Begad, tho', if ut had come to me-but it could not have so come-I'd ha' made him cut his wisdom-teeth on his own sword-bilt."
"I don't think he knows himself what he means to do," I said.
"I should not wonder," said Terence. "There's a dale av thinkin' before a young man whin he's done wrong an' knows ut, an' is studyin' how to put ut right. Give the word from me to our little man there, that if he had ha' told on his shuperior orf'cer I'd ha' come out to Fort Amara to kick him into the Fort ditch, an' that's a forty-fut drop."
Ortheris was not in good condition to talk to. He wandered up and down with Learoyd brooding, so far as I could see, over his lost honor, and using, as I could hear, incendiary language. Learoyd would nod and spit and smoke and nod again, and he must have been a great comfort to Ortheris-almost as great a comfort as Samuelson, whom Ortheris bullied disgracefully. If the Jew opened his mouth in the most casual remark Ortheris would plunge down it with all arms and accoutrements, while the barrack-room stared and wondered.
Ouless had retired into himself to meditate. I saw him now and again, and he avoided me because I had witnessed his shame and spoken my mind on it. He seemed dull and moody, and found his half-company anything but pleasant to drill. The men did their work and gave him very little trouble, but just when they should have been feeling their feet, and showing that they felt them by spring and swing and snap, the elasticity died out, and it was like drilling with war-game blocks. There is a beautiful little ripple in a well-made line of men exactly like the play of a perfectly-tempered sword. Ouless's half-company moved like a broomstick, and would have broken as easily.
I was speculating whether Ouless had sent money to Ortheris, which would have been bad, or had apologized to him in private, which would have been worse, or had decided to let the whole affair slide, which would have been worst of all, when orders came to me to leave the station for a while. I had not spoken directly to Ortheris, for his honor was not my honor, and he was its only guardian, and he would not say anything except bad words. I went away, and from time to time thought a great deal of that subaltern and that private in Fort Amara, and wondered what would be the upshot of everything.
When I returned it was early spring. B. Company had been shifted from the Fort to regular duty in cantonments, the roses.
were getting ready to bud on the Mall, and the regiment, which had been at a camp of exercise among other things, was going through its spring musketry-course under an adjutant who had a notion that its shooting average was low. He had stirred up the company officers and they had brought extra ammunition for their men-the Government allowance is just sufficient to force the rifling -and E. Company, which counted many marksmen, was vaporing and offering to challenge all the other companies, and the third-class shots were very sorry that they had ever been born, and all the subalterns were a rich ripe saddle-color from sitting at the butts six or eight hours a day.
I went off to the butts after breakfast very full of curiosity to see how the new draft had come forward. Ouless was there with his men by the bald hillock that marks the six hundred yards range, and the men were in gray-green khaki, that shows the best points of a soldier and shades off into every background he may stand against. Before I was in hearing distance I could see, as they sprawled on the dusty grass, or stood up and shook themselves, that they were men made over again-wearing their helmets with the cock of self possession, swinging easily, and jumping to the word of command. Coming nearer, I heard Ouless whistling Ballyhooley between his teeth as he looked down the range with his binoculars, and the back of Lieutenant Ouless was the back of a free man and an officer. He nodded as I came up, and I heard him fling an order to a non-commissioned officer in a sure and certain voice. The flag ran up from the target, and Ortheris flung himself down on his stomach to put in his ten shots. He winked at me over the breech-block as he settled himself, with the air of a man who has to go through tricks for the benefit of children.
"Watch, you men," said Ouless to the squad behind. "He's half your weight, Brannigan, but he isn't afraid of his rifle."
Ortheris had his little affectations and pet ways as the rest of us have. He weighed his rifle, gave it a little kick-up, cuddled down again, and fired across the ground that was beginning to dance in the sun-heat.
"Miss!" said a man behind.
Ortheris twinkled all over, tucked his rifle across his knees and repeated, "'E's a gentleman. 'E's an officer too. saw all that mess in Fort 'ammerer. 'Twasn't none o' my fault, as you can guess. Only some goat in the drill judged it was behavior or something to play the fool on p'rade. That's why we drilled so bad. When 'e 'it me, I was so took aback I couldn't do nothin', an' when I wished for to knock 'im down the wheel 'ad gone on, an' I was facin' you there lyin' on the guns. After the captain had come up an' was raggin' me about my tunic bein' tore, I saw the young beggar's eye, an' 'fore I could 'elp myself I begun to lie like a good 'un. You 'eard that? It was quite instinkive, but, my! I was in a lather. Then he said to the captain, I struck 'im !' sez 'e, an' I 'eard Brander whistle, an' then I come out with a new set o' lies all about portin' arms an' 'ow the rip growed, such as you 'eard. I done that too before I knew where I was. Then I give Samuelson what-for in
barricks when he was dismissed. You should ha' seen 'is kit by the time I'd finished with it. It was all over the bloomin' Fort! Then me an' Jock went off to Mulvaney in 'orspital, five-mile walk, an' I was hoppin' mad. Ouless, 'e knowed it was court-marshal for me if I 'it 'im back -'e must ha' knowed. Well, I sez to Well, I sez to Terence, whisperin' under the 'orspital balcony Terence,' sez I, what in 'el! am I to do?' I told 'im all about the row same as you saw. Terence 'e whistles like a bloomin' old bullfinch up there in 'orspital, an' 'e sez, You ain't to blame,' sez 'e. 'Strewth,' sez I, 'd'you suppose I've come 'ere five mile in the sun to take blame?' I sez. 'I want that young beggar's hide took off. I ain't a bloomin' conscript,' sez. 'I'm a private servin' of the Queen, an' as good a man as 'e is,' I sez, for all 'is commission an' 'is airs an' 'is money,' sez I." "What a fool you were, I interrupted. Ortheris, being neither a menial nor an American, but a free man, had no excuse for yelping.
"That's exactly what Terence said. wonder you sot it the same way so pat if 'e 'asn't been talkin' to you. 'E sez to me- You ought to have more sense,' 'e sez, at your time of life. What differ do it make to you,' 'e sez, whether 'e 'as a commission or no commission? That's none o' your affair. It's between man an' man,' 'e sez, if 'e 'eld a general's commission. Moreover,' 'e sez, you don't look 'andsome 'oppin' about on your 'ind legs like that. Take him away Jock.' Then 'e went inside, an' that's all I got outer Terence. Jock, 'e sez as slow as a march in slow time,- Stanley,' 'e sez, that young beggar didn't go for to 'it you.' I don't give a dam whether 'e did or 'e didn't. 'It me 'e did,' I sez. Then you've only got to report to Brander,' sez Jock. What d'ver take me for?' I sez, as I was so mad I nearly 'it Jock. An' he got me by the neck an' shoved my 'ead into a bucket o' water in the cook-'ouse an' then we went back to the Fort, an' I give Samuelson a little more trouble with 'is kit. 'E sez to me, I haven't been strook without hittin' back.'Well, you're goin' to be now,' I sez, an' I give 'im one or two for 'isself, an' arxed 'im very polite to 'it back, but he didn't. I'd a killed 'im if 'e 'ad. That did me a lot o' good.
"The day after you left, Ouless come across me carrying a bucket on fatigue, an' 'e sez to me very quietly, Ortheris, you've got to come out shootin' with me,' 'e sez. I felt like to bunging the bucket in 'is eye, but I didn't. I got ready to go instead. Oh, 'e's a gentleman! We went out together, neither sayin' nothin' to the other till we was well out into the jung'e beyond the river with 'igh grass all round, -pretty near that place where I went off my 'ead with you. Then 'e puts his gun down an' sez very quietly: Ortheris, I struck you on p'rade,' 'e sez. Yes, sir,' sez I, you did.' 'I've been studying it out by myself,' 'e sez. Oh, you 'ave, 'ave you?' sez I to myself, an' a nice time you've been about it, you bun-faced little beggar.' 'Yes, sir?' sez I. 'What made you screen me?' 'e sez. 'I don't know,' I sez, an' no more I did, nor do. 'I can't ask you to exchange,' 'e sez. An' I don't want to exchange myself,' sez 'e. 'What's comin' now?' I thinks to myself. 'Yes, sir,' sez I. He looked round at the 'igh grass all about, an' 'e sez to himself more than to me, I've got to go through it alone, by myself!' 'E looked so queer for a minute that, s'elp me, I thought the little beggar was going to pray. Then he turned round again an' 'e sez, What do you think yourself?' 'e sez. 'I don't quite see what you mean, sir,' I sez. 'What would you like?' 'e sez. An' I thought for a minute 'e was goin' to give me money, but 'e run 'is 'and up to the top button of 'is shootin' coat an' loosed it. 'Thank you, sir,' I sez. 'I'd like that very well,' I sez, an' both our coats was off an' put down."
you ready?' sez 'e. Come on then.' I come on, a bit uncertain at first, but he took me one under the chin that warmed me up. I wanted to mark the little beggar an' I hit high, but he went an' jabbed me over the heart like a good one. He wasn't so strong as me, but he knew more, an' in about two minutes I calls Time.' 'E steps back, it was in-fightin' then Come on when you're ready,' 'e scz; and when I had my wind I come on again, an' I got 'im one on the nose that painted 'is little aristocratic white shirt for 'im. That fetched 'im, an' I knew it quicker nor light. He come all round me, close fightin', goin' steady for my heart. I held on all I could an' split 'is ear, but then I began to hiccup, an' the game was пр. I come in to feel if I could throw 'in, an' 'e got me one on the mouth that downed me an'-look 'ere !''
Ortheris raised the left corner of his upper lip. An eye-tooth was wanting. "E stood over me an' 'e sez, Have you 'ad enough?' 'e sez. 'Thank you, I 'ave,' sez I. He took my 'and an' pulled me up, an' I was pretty shook. Now,' 'e sez, I'll apologize for 'ittin' you. It was all my fault,' 'e sez, an' it wasn't meant for you.' I knowed that, sir,' I sez, an' there's no need for no apology.' Then it's an accident,' 'e sez; an' you must let me pay for the coat. Else it'll be stopped out o' your pay.' I wouldn't ha' took the money before, but I did then. 'E give me ten rupees, -enough to pay for a coat twice over, an' we went down to the river to wash our faces, which was well marked. His was special. Then he sez to himself, sputterin' the water out of 'is mouth, I wonder if I done right,' 'e sez. 'Yes, sir,' sez I. There's no fear about that.' 'It's all well for you,' 'e sez, but what about the comp'ny?' Beggin' your pardon, sir,' I sez, 'I don't think the comp'ny will give no trouble.' Then we went shootin', an' when we come back I was
feelin' as chirpy as a cricket, an' I took an' rolled Samuelson up an' down the veranda, an' give out to the comp'ny that the difficulty between me an' Lieutenant Ouless was satisfactory put a stop to. I told Jock, o' course, an' Terence. Jock didn't say nothin', but Terence 'e sez: 'You're a pair, you two. An', begad, I don't know which was the better man. There ain't nothin' wrong with Ouless. 'E's a gentleman all over, an' 'e's come on as much as B. Comp'ny. I lay 'e'd lose 'is commission, tho', if it come out that 'e'd been fightin' with a private. Ho! Ho! fightin' all an afternoon with a bloomin' private like me! What do you think?" he added, brushing the
breech of his rifle.
"I think what the umpires said at the sham fight; both sides deserve great credit. But I wish you'd tell me what made you save him in the first place."
"I was pretty sure that 'e 'adn't meant it for me, though that wouldn't ha' made no difference if 'e'd been copped for it. An' 'e was that young too that it wouldn't ha' been fair. Besides, if I had ha' done that I'd ha' missed the fight, and I'd ha' felt bad all my time. Don't you see it that way, sir?"
"It was your right to get him cashiered if you chose," I insisted."
My right!" Ortheris answered with deep scorn. 'My right! I ain't a recruity to go whinin' about my rights to this an' my rights to that, just as if I couldn't look after myself. My rights! 'Strewth A'mighty! I'm a man.
The last squad were finishing their shots in a storm of low-voiced chaff. Ouless withdrew to a little distance in order to leave the men at ease, and I saw his face in the full sunlight for a moment, before he hitched up his sword, got his men together, and marched them back to barracks. The boy was proven.--Macmillan's Magazine.
IN A DIM LIGHT.
BY ANNIE THOMAS (MRS. PENDEr Cudlip).
"RIDE up straight away till you come up under Heltor Down-the round pinetree wood a' top o' the hill to your left is Heltor Down, master-and then bear away to your right till you come to a house standing, lonely like, in a garden with high pales all round 'un, and then if you sees any one, and likes to do it, there's no harm in your making inquiry again." "And after I've inquired my way, and passed the house, what then, my inan? The light is getting dim already-”
Exactly and I don't want to be befogged on Dartmoor. Tell me the shortest cut I can take to the nearest village inn ?"
"Where do 'ee want to be gwain?" the excellent fellow asked, with the slow, stolid curiosity of his class.
"I did want to push on to Princes Town-"
"Gently does it, master," he said, leaning on his pickaxe and surveying me with lethargic derision. "I've told 'ee where to go, and how to go there-"
"You've only told me the road for a short way.
Where does it lead to ?" "I'll tell 'ee again," he spoke with maddening moderation. "I'll tell 'ee again. I don't groodge a fellow-creature all the good a few words from me may do him. You ride away till you come up under Heltor Down-the round pine-tree wood a' top of the hill is Heltor Down, master-and then bear away to your right till you come to a house standing, lonely like, in a garden with high pales all round 'un, and then if you sees any one, and likes to do it, there's no harm in your making inquiry again."
"Can they direct me to Princes Town?" Aye sure if they know the way themselves."
It was the close of a midsummer day, and all nature was dripping, as it is the wont of nature to do at midsuminer, as well as the other seasons in Devonshire. Breathing a fervent prayer of thanksgiving for being only a wayfarer through this
damp and depressing western land, I set myself to the serious consideration of what it would be best for me to do if the information I received at the lonely house under Heltor Down annhilated my hopes of gaining the shelter of an inn, before black impenetrable darkness made the wild, pathless moors dangerous travellingground.
The necessity for riding slowly gave me plenty of time for reflection before I reached the lonely house, and I found my mind dwelling curiously on an episode that had occurred the previous evening at Plymouth.
I had gone to a livery-stable to which I had been recommended as a likely place at which to find a stout cob for sale at a reasonable price. My intention had been to buy a horse, to ride it over Dartmoor, and such portions of the country as were not readily accessible by train, and then sell it at some market town when the days of my holiday were ended.
In pursuance of this intention I had been standing in the livery-stable yard looking over a likely cob with the owner, when a gentlemanly-looking man in a loose dust overcoat had come up to me, and with a polite apology for having inadvertently listened to our conversation, had offered to show me a horse of his own which he said "would suit my purpose exactly." I remembered now as I rode along in the growing gloom, how curiously unlike the horse I had described as being what I wanted, was to the animal he introduced to my notice.
But though the horse he offered had not attracted my attention for more than a minute, its owner had done so. He had struck ine, during the course of a walk we took together from the livery stable to the IIoe, as being rather a well-informed and versatile individual, for he had poured forth an easy and rapid stream of critical remarks upon the prevailing pictures, books, policy and philosophy of the day. His tone too was the tone of a gentleman and man of the world; but I remembered now that, though he had led me on to tell