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dead man, that's all, I am a dead man, I can't recover it, I have seen him.'
" What hast thou seen, Jack?” says one of the soldiers. “Why, I have seen the young volunteer that was killed yesterday. He then imprecated the most heavy curses on himself, if he had not seen the volunteer, all over blood, vomiting fire out of his mouth and nostrils, pass by him into the chamber where Ensign Northerton was, and then seizing the ensign by the throat, fly away with him in a clap of thunder.
This relation met with a gracious reception from the audience. All the women present believed it firmly, and prayed heaven to defend them from murder. Amongst the men, too, many had faith in the story; but others turned it into derision and ridicule ; and a sergeant who was present answered very coolly, “ Young man, you will hear more of this for going to sleep and dreaming on your post.”
The soldier replied, “ You may punish me if you please ; but I was as broad awake as I am now; and the devil carry me away, as he hath the ensign, if I did not see the dead man, as I tell you, with eyes as big and as fiery as two large flambeaux.'
The commander of the forces, and the commander of the house, were now both arrived ; for the former being awake at the time, and hearing the sentinel fire his piece, thought it his duty to rise immediately, though he had no great apprehensions of any mischief; whereas the apprehensions of the latter were much greater, lest her spoons and tankards should be upon the march, without having received any such orders from her.
Our poor sentinel, to whom the sight of this officer was not much more welcome than the apparition, as he thought it, which he had seen before, again related the dreadful story, and with many additions of blood and fire; but he had the misfortune to gain no credit with either of the last-mentioned persons ; for the officer, though a very religious man, was free from all terrors of this kind ; besides, having so lately left Jones in the .condition we have seen, he had no suspicion of his being dead. As for the landlady, though not overreligious, she had no kind of aversion to the doctrine of spirits; but there was a circumstance in the tale which she well knew to be false, as we shall inform the reader presently.
But whether Northerton was carried away in thunder or fire, or in whatever other manner he was gone, it was now certain that his body was no longer in custody. Upon this occasion, the lieutenant formed a conclusion not very different from what the sergeant is just mentioned to have made before, and immediately ordered the sentinel to be taken prisoner. So that, by a strange reverse of fortune (though not very uncommon in a military life), the guard became the guarded.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE FOREGOING ADVENTURE.
Besides the suspicion of sleep, the lieutenant harbored another and worse doubt against the poor sentinel, and this was that of treachery; for as he believed not one syllable of the apparition, so he imagined the whole to be an invention formed only to impose upon him, and that the fellow had in reality been bribed by Northerton to let him escape. And this he innagined the rather, as the fright appeared to him the more unnatural in one who had the character of as brave and bold a man as any in the regiment, having been in several actions, having received several wounds, and, in a word, having behaved himself always like a good and valiant soldier.
That the reader, therefore, may not conceive the least ill opinion of such a person, we shall not delay a moment in rescuing his character from the imputation of this guilt.
Mr. Northerton then, as we have before observed, was fully satisfied with the glory which he had obtained from this action. He had perhaps seen, or heard, or guessed, that envy is apt to attend fame. Not that I would here insinuate that he was heathenishly inclined to believe in or to worship the goddess Nemesis; for, in fact, I am convinced he never heard of her
He was, besides, of an active disposition, and had a great antipathy to those close quarters in the castle of Gloucester, for which a justice of peace might possibly give him a billet. Nor was he, moreover, free from some uneasy meditations on a certain wooden edifice, which I forbear to name, in conformity to the opinion of mankind, who, I think, rather ought to honor than to be ashamed of this building, as it is, or at least might be made, of more benefit to society than almost any other public erection. In a word, to hint at no more reasons for his conduct, Mr. Northerton was desirous of departing that evening, and nothing remained for him but to contrive the quomodo, which appeared to be a matter of some difficulty.
Now this young gentleman, though somewhat crooked in his morals, was perfectly straight in his person, which was ex
tremely strong and well made. His face, too, was accounted handsome by the generality of women, for it was broad and ruddy, with tolerably good teeth. Such charms did not fail of making an impression on my landlady, who had no little relish for this kind of beauty. She had, indeed, a real compassion for the young man ; and hearing from the surgeon that affairs were like to go ill with the volunteer, she suspected they might hereafter wear no benign aspect with the ensign. Having obtained, therefore, leave to make him a visit, and finding him in a very melancholy mood, which she considerably heightened by telling him there were scarce any hopes of the volunteer's life, she proceeded to throw forth some hints, which the other readily and eagerly taking up, they soon came to a right understanding; and it was at length agreed that the ensign should, at a certain signal, ascend the chimney, which communicating very soon with that of the kitchen, he might there again let himself down, for which she would give him an opportunity by keeping the coast clear.
But lest our readers, of a different complexion, should take this occasion of too hastily condemning all compassion as a folly, and pernicious to society, we think proper to mention another particular which might possibly have some little share in this action. The ensign happened to be at this time possessed of the sum of fifty pounds, which did indeed belong to the whole company; for the captain, having quarreled with his lieutenant, had intrusted the payment of his company to the ensign. This money, however, he thought proper to deposit in my landlady's hand, possibly by way of bail or security that he would hereafter appear and answer to the charge against him ; but whatever were the conditions, certain it is that she had the money and the ensign his liberty.
The reader may perhaps expect from the compassionate temper of this good woman that when she saw the poor sentinel taken prisoner for a fact of which she knew him innocent, she should immediately have interposed in his behalf ; but whether it was that she had already exhausted all her compassion in the above-mentioned instance, or that the features of this fellow, though not very different from those of the ensign, could not raise it, I will not determine ; but, far from being an advocate for the present prisoner, she urged his guilt to his officer, declaring, with uplifted eyes and hands, that she would not have any concern in the escape of a murderer for all the world.
Everything was now once more quiet, and most of the company returned again to their beds; but the landlady, either from the natural activity of her disposition, or from her fear for her plate, having no propensity to sleep, prevailed with the officers, as they were to march within little more than an hour, to spend that time with her over a bowl of punch.
Jones had lain awake all this while, and had heard great part of the hurry and bustle that had passed, of which he had now some curiosity to know the particulars. He therefore applied to his bell, which he rang at least twenty times without any effect; for my landlady was in such high mirth with her company that no clapper could be heard there but her own; and the drawer and chambermaid, who were sitting together in the kitchen (for neither durst he sit up nor she lie in bed alone), the more they heard the bell ring the more they were frightened, and, as it were, nailed down in their places.
At last, at a lucky interval of chat, the sound reached the ears of our good landlady, who presently sent forth her summons, which both her servants instantly obeyed. “Joo,” says the mistress, “ don't you hear the gentleman's bell ring? Why don't you go up?” “It is not my business," answered the drawer, “to wait upon the chambers — it is Betty Chambermaid's." “ If you come to that,” answered the maid, “it is not my business to wait upon gentlemen. I have done it, indeed, sometimes; but the devil fetch me if ever I do it again, since you make your preambles about it.”
[After further wrangling and refusals, the lieutenant induces them to go up
They returned soon after, and acquainted their mistress that the sick gentleman was so far from being dead that he spoke as heartily as if he were well ; and that he gave his service to the captain, and should be very glad of the favor of seeing him be. fore he marched.
The good lieutenant immediately complied with his desires, and sitting down by his bedside, acquainted him with the scene which had happened below, concluding with his intentions to make an example of the sentinel.
Upon this Jones related to him the whole truth, and earnestly begged him not to punish the poor soldier, “who, I am confident,” says he, “is as innocent of the ensign's escape as he is of forging any lie, or of endeavoring to impose on you."
The lieutenant hesitated a few moments, and then answered : “ Why, as you have cleared the fellow of one part of the charge, so it will be impossible to prove the other, because he was not the only sentinel. But I have a good mind to punish the rascal for being a coward. Yet who knows what effect the terror of such an apprehension may have ? and, to say the truth, he hath always behaved well against an enemy. Come, it is a good thing to see any sign of religion in these fellows; so I promise you he shall be set at liberty when we march. But hark, the general beats. My dear boy, give me another buss. Don't discompose nor hurry yourself ; but remember the Christian doctrine of patience, and I warrant you will soon be able to do yourself justice, and to take an honorable revenge on the fellow who hath injured you.” The lieutenant then departed, and Jones endeavored to compose himself to rest.
ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD.
BY THOMAS GRAY.
[For biographical sketch, see page 81.]
THE curfew tolls the knell of parting day ;
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea;
And leaves the world — to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds;
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Save that, from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath these rugged elms, that yew tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a moldering heap,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.