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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 127, 17 July 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
THE BOUNTY SHILLING.
[Continued.'] “ Oh, my son ! Oh, Dick, what will I ever do without ’ec !” broke out the poor widow, hearing his final destruction of her hopes, and falling weeping on the shoulder of Susan, who might possibly have indulged in some corresponding -weakness if sheliad not been (let the whole truth be told) too much in a rage at the folly of Dick and the trickery of the officer, to be yet ready for any such exhibition of womanly tenderness. “ I be main sorry, your worship, if you can do nought for me,” said poor Dick, very humbly. “It bo hard to go away from everything that one loves ; but if I ha’ been a drunken fool, I must e’en lie on the bed, I ha’ made, I suppose, (saving your worship’s presence), and bear it as 1 may!” “I never knowed that hansome, silly fellow to look half so well, or talk half so sensible, as now when they be going to take him away from mo !” commented Susan, now more than half crying, but of course not permitting that thought to rise above her breath that was just ready to break into sobs of mingled anger and
grief. “ There is one or more questions to be asked,” continued Sir Thomas, with the same grave expression. “I have your evidence, sergeant, that this man enlisted; and I must take it, much as I may doubt the means by which you secured his consent to wear, the King’s uniform. But one thing remains—did you offer him the Bounty Money, and did he receive it '!■” “ He certainly did, your worship ; “ he took the Bounty Shilling, and put it in his pocket,” said the sergeant, with a half smile of triumph as he remembered how deftly he had slipped that coin into the pocket of the muddied young fellow’s velveteens !
“ I took no Bounty Shilling ! I never saw anything of one !” exclaimed Dick, very energetically. Then his face fell, and he added ‘ ‘ That is I don’t remember nought o’ any shilling, your worship.” “Of course not—they never do, after they have had it !” sneered the sergeant, who knew how few of them ever saw the fatal coin until it was taken from their persons in the investigation which doomed them to the ranks and to exile. “ Silence,! ” spoke the magistrate, sternly, and manifestly again directed that correction at the sergeant. “ lam pained to say,” he went on, “ that there is probably no doubt in the matter ; hut as a mere form we will look into the whole affair, and the young man shall lose none of his rights at my hands. The coin, was marked, as usual, sergeant, was it not 1 ”
“ Certainly, your worship.” “ Has this young man been out of this house, or out of your custody, since then, so that he could have rid himself of it in any manner 1 ” was the next inquiry. “ Not a moment, your worship ; it was my business to keep eye and hand on him, and I have done it! ” triumphantly answered the sergeant. “ Then, of course, if he received the bounty, he has it still about him,” continued »Sir Thomas.
‘‘ He must have it, your worship, for I saw him take it and put it into the pocket of his breeches, there,” answered the sergeant, a smile of confidence on his face that, up to that moment unaware of the possession of the fatal shilling, the poor fellow could not possibly have rid himself of it.
At his words, however, suddenly and without any apparent cause of their producing such an effect, Dick Harlowe, who had been standing bowed in discouragement, straightened himself as if he had been supplied with a new backbone, and a strange expression of wondering relief went over his face. Oddly enough, too, the widow clapped her hands as if in pleased surprise, then leaned over and spoke a few low words in the ear of Susan, who thereupon liberally danced with joy and could no longer be restrained from addressing the magistrate. “ Your worship,” she said, “ mayhap you will not think me over bold, for dame Harlowe and I be in great grief, as your worship may believe. May I ask your worship a question before all these people?” “ Certainly, my pretty girl, if it is one concerning the object of this enquiry,” answered Sir Thomas.
“If the bounty shilling be found on Dick Harlowe, then, he must go and serve the King ? ” she inquired. “He certainly must do so, my girl, in that case, and you and his mother must try to make the best of what is bad for you,” the magistrate replied. “ For then the chain of proof that he really did enlist will be complete, and his own admitted intoxication at the time makes him incapable of denying anything that occurred, with the hope of being believed. I am sorry to say it, but you must see and understand so much.”
But again, at this juncture, Susan Ackley gave evidence of a tendency already once ascribed to her —the propensity to persist in seeing both sides of a story.
“ One more question, your worship, if it be not against rules,” she said, going on with it, without waiting for permission. “If the bounty be not found on him, what then 1 The soldier do say that he have been all the time with him, so that he not ha’ time to spend it, and that he seen him put it in a certain pocket. If it be not found on him, what then, your worship V’ “You are a determined girl, and an outspoken one, as well as I doubt not true and loving!” the magistrate could not refrain from remarking, befoi’e answering the last question, as he did with admiring eyes full on the young girl’s flushed face. “If the bounty be not found on him, when he is searched, as is both his right and that of the King—then the chain of proof fails, and the young man must be discharged as never having enlisted, unless other evidence than that of the officer, who is interested, can be brought against him.” “Let him be searched, your worship !” cried Susau, with as much vivacity as if she had been demanding that the man she loved should be crowned. “Dick, lad, let some one search that pocket, wi’out another minute !” “Search me?” said the man thus threatened, who seemed to bo almost hopelessly dazed for the moment, like one coming in out of darkness and blinded with a sudden light. “ Search me ? Certainly, lass ! Let any one here put hand on me, and welcome, except that sergeant who has done me this mischief, or one of his redcoats. ”
“ There, your worship hears I He isn’t afraid to be searched ! Who shall do it, so that it shall be all fair and just !” cried the young girl, her eyes sparkling more saucily than ever, and her whole manner that of intense excitement.
“Ht is out of my line of duty, but the case is a peculiar one,” said Sir Thomas, indefinably catching the new spirit of the scene. “ I will see, then, that the young man [turns out that pocket, and all his pockets honestly and completely, if he has no objection.” “ I do be thankful to your worship, for I could ha’ asked nothing half so fair !” said Dick Earlowe, with his voice hoarse 'and his head still in a whirl; and, at the words, he approached the magistrate more closely. “In which pocket did he say 1 put it I Does your worship remember ?” “ I remember very well young man !” replied Sir Thomas. “ I only wish that you had as clear a memory. In the right pocket of yeur velveteens. Show me that first if you please.”
Dick Harlowe obeyed, and turned out the right pocket of his velveteens, all the spectators looking on with painful interest, and the justice stooping low to be certain that no legerdennain could be practised on cither side. Directly, as the pocket came out, Sir Thomas uttered a low—- “ Whew r
Well the good magistrate may have done so for the whole bottom of the pocket was torn off, so that a six-pound cannon-ball, much more a shilling, would have fallen through to the floor, the moment it was dropped therein ! The story, if it exists at all, is very nearly told. How the recruiting-sergeant, whose shilling had been thus doubly wasted, swore, below his breath, one may imagine without attempting to put the injurious words into shape. How the other pockets of Dick Harlowe were turned out by him, of course, with no result, may also be imagined. As also how the goodlooking, silly fellow, released, embraced his old mother and begged her pardon a thousand times for the anger he had manifested the night before, at her failing to •mend that very poclcet, the mending of which would undoubtedly have condemned him to exile and dangerous service in the peninsula or on the fields of Flanders. How the good magistrate before dismissing him, read Dick a lecture on the folly of frequenting ale-houses, and the blessing he was likely to enjoy, if he did not forfeit it, in the presence of such a sparkling, determined, handsome and notable little wife—whom he thereupon chucked under the chin, with the privilege of his years and station, and would undoubtedly have kissed but for the presence of too many village-chatterers. And how Susan, once they were alone together, alternately pulled his ears for his folly in misunderstanding her, kissed him for her own love, and inspired him for the battle with poverty which they were to fight together, and which'they afterwards fought to such good advantage, under the roof of the little vine-clad thatched roof cottage and elsewhere, with good dame Harlowe long their loving companion and the nurse of their elder children.
All these are only parts and pendants of the pleasant little Warwickshire and Worcestershire local legend, often told verbally,in the ale-houses on both sides of the Yale of Bversliara, but now for the first time given out to the world. CONCLUDED. THE MAN AND THE MONKEY. When I was at the siege of Gibraltar—“l say old fellow—” I appeal for protection to the Chair. (Hear ! hear !) When I was at the siege of Gibraltar, my post was for some time in the Queen’s Battery, which immediately fronted the beseigers’ works. It was my special duty to acquire as accurate a knowledge of those works, their armament, position, defences and progress, as it was possible to obtain by constant observation and a very middling spy-glass, while enveloped in dust and smoke, choked with sulphur, and exposed to incessant compliments of shot and shell. The knowledge thus obtained I had the honor of imparting to our gallant Lieu-tenant-Governor, Gen. Boyd, when he came out to the front from time to time. This circumstance procured for me the glorious distinction of going out as guide when me made a sortie by night for the purpose of surprising the enemy’s works, burning and destroying them. I am not going to describe the sortie ; you will find all about it in Drinkwater. Let me only say that it proved a real surprise to the enemy; their works were ruined, their guns spiked, and their approaches in a corresponding degree retarded, which was just what we wanted. The affair was nearly over, their gabions along the whole front were in a blaze ; but though outnumbered at one point of attack, the enemy fought stoutly, and a good ueal of savage skirmishing was still going on. I was in the thick of a regular
mele'e, hard knocks at close quarters, when my attention was arrested by a diminutive Frenchman, an officer in splendid uniform, who was doing chivalrous deeds, as if he fancied his own arm might yet restore the lost combat. He was a mere pigmy; but his pluckincss had so won upon our fellows that they bent upon effecting an object to which his valor was the only obstacle—that of taking him alive. Flourishing his sword, he skipped about, facing every point of the compass in succession, and thrusting, with loud cries of defiance, at everyone that approached him. “ Don’t kill him!” the men cried. “Take him alive : don’t hurt the little chap,” though the little chap had already disabled a sergeant and a private who had ventured too near him. I shouted, taking off my hat, and entreating him for his own sake, to surrender ; it was clear, indeed, that he had no chance left but either to be taken prisoner or to bite the dust. He returned my salute, but still maintained the defence, spinning round and round, and lunging at the
horizon. As we had done our work, and it was high time to get back to our lines lest the enemy should attack us in force I began to fear that it would be out of my power to save the little Frenchman’s life. Our men, too, were beginning to loose patience, and showed a disposition to close upon him with fixed bayonets; in which case, though he might very possibly have set his mark upon one or two more of them, the consequences to himself might have been far from agreeable. At that moment, and just as I was thinking, as a last effort, of trying what I could do by approaching him in person, he seemed to awake suddenly to consciousness of his own peril, rushed towards me, threw down his sword, clasped his hands, uttered a piercing shriek, and dropped on his knees at my feet. He rvas my prisoner—a very grand capture, to be sure. In an instant he became calm, gentlemanly, and garrulous, Walking with me side by side as our party withdrew, he rvas kind enough to commence a perpetual stream of talk, which lasted all the way, and in which he found time to tell me who he was, and all about his own family and history ; how he had fought in many battles, and always came off with more glory than all the rest of the combatants together, not forgetting to mention how much sooner
Gibraltar would have fallen-—it was sure to fall at last —had only his suggestions been appreciated as they deserved. He begged to assure me that he was a person of great importance. He bore, as he was pleased to state, the name by Montmaur, and his nom-de-yuerrc, by an inversion of the syllables, was Mormon. He was one of noble birth, and turned of 30 ; but his distinguished talents and acquirements in the art of war, known throughout Europe and universally recognised in the French service, had so excited the envy of his military superiors that they had succeeded by finesse in preventing his rising to a higher grade than that of lieutenant in a regiment of the line. The next day, when M. He Montmaur was presented before the Governor, his Excellency seemed a little nonplussed. To shut up a diminutive object like that in durance would have looked absurd ; one would have soon have thought of imprisoning a tomtit. Formally to parole him would have been formality in a matter ofjno importance —always better let alone. The result was that, having far weightier matters to attend to, his Excellency let the business stand over, and ended by doing nothing ; so that M. de Montmaur remained a prisoner at large. He rather attached himself to me, as his first English acquaintance, and, so far as garrison regulations permitted, used to follow me about everywhere. The consequence was, that my brother officers were accustomed to speak of him as my “little dog, Mormon.”
(to be CONTINUED.
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 127, 17 July 1880
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