Soldiers Three [Stories]
Part 1 out of 4
This Etext repared by Bill Stoddard - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Rudyard Kipling
"LOVE-O'-WOMEN" - from "Many Inventions"
THE BIG DRUNK DRAF'
THE MUTINY OF THE MAVERICKS
THE MAN WHO WAS
ONLY A SUBALTERN
IN THE MATTER OF A PRIVATE
THE LOST LEGION - from "Many Inventions"
THE DRUMS OF THE FORE AND AFT
JUDSON AND THE EMPIRE - from "Many Inventions"
A CONFERENCE OF THE POWERS - from "Many Inventions"
A lamentable tale of things
Done long ago, and ill done.
The horror, the confusion, and the separation
of the murderer from his comrades were all over before I came.
There remained only on the barrack-square the blood of man calling
from the ground. The hot sun had dried it to a dusky gold-beater-
skin film, cracked lozenge-wise by the heat, and as the wind rose
each lozenge, rising a little, curled up at the edges as if it
were a dumb tongue. Then a heavier gust blew all away down wind in
grains of dark-coloured dust. It was too hot to stand in the
sunshine before breakfast. The men were all in barracks talking
the matter over. A knot of soldiers' wives stood by one of the
entrances to the married quarters, while inside a woman shrieked
and raved with wicked filthy words.
A quiet and well-conducted sergeant had shot down in broad
daylight just after early parade one of his own corporals, had
then returned to barracks and sat on a cot till the guard came for
him. He would, therefore, in due time be handed over to the High
Court for trial. Further, but this he could hardly have considered
in his scheme of revenge, he would horribly upset my work; for the
reporting of the trial would fall on me without a relief. What
that trial would be like I knew even to weariness. There would be
the rifle carefully uncleaned, with the fouling marks about breech
and muzzle, to be sworn to by half a dozen superfluous privates;
there would be heat, reeking heat, till the wet pencil slipped
sideways between the fingers; and the punkah would swish and the
pleaders would jabber in the verandahs, and his Commanding Officer
would put in certificates of the prisoner's moral character, while
the jury would pant and the summer uniforms of the witnesses would
smell of dye and soaps; and some abject barrack-sweeper would lose
his head in cross-examination, and the young barrister who always
defended soldiers' cases for the credit that they never brought
him, would say and do wonderful things, and would then quarrel
with me because I had not reported him correctly. At the last, for
he surely would not be hanged, I might meet the prisoner again,
ruling blank account-forms in the Central Jail, and cheer him with
the hope of a wardership in the Andamans.
The Indian Penal Code and its interpreters do not treat murder,
under any provocation whatever,
in a spirit of jest. Sergeant Raines would be very lucky indeed if
he got off with seven years, I thought. He had slept the night
upon his wrongs, and had killed his man at twenty yards before any
talk was possible. That much I knew. Unless, therefore, the case
was doctored a little, seven years would be his least; and I
fancied it was exceedingly well for Sergeant Raines that he had
been liked by his Company.
That same evening - no day is so long as the day of a murder - I
met Ortheris with the dogs, and he plunged defiantly into the
middle of the matter. "I'll be one o' the witnesses," said he. "I
was in the verandah when Mackie came along. 'E come from Mrs.
Raines's quarters. Quigley, Parsons, an' Trot, they was in the
inside verandah, so they couldn't 'ave 'eard nothing. Sergeant
Raines was in the verandah talkin' to me, an' Mackie 'e come along
acrost the square an' 'e sez, 'Well,' sez 'e, ''ave they pushed
your 'elmet off yet, Sergeant?' 'e sez. An' at that Raines 'e
catches 'is breath an' 'e sez, 'My Gawd, I can't stand this!' sez
'e, an' 'e picks up my rifle an' shoots Mackie. See?"
"But what were you doing with your rifle in the outer verandah an
hour after parade?"
"Cleanin' 'er," said Ortheris, with the sullen brassy stare that
always went with his choice lies.
He might as well have said that he was dancing naked, for at no
time did his rifle need hand or rag on her twenty minutes after
parade. Still the High Court would not know his routine.
"Are you going to stick to that - on the Book?" I asked.
"Yes. Like a bloomin' leech."
"All right, I don't want to know any more. Only remember that
Quigley, Parsons, and Trot couldn't have been where you say
without hearing something; and there's nearly certain to be a
barrack-sweeper who was knocking about the square at the time.
There always is."
"Twasn't the sweeper. It was the beastie. 'E's all right."
Then I knew that there was going to be some spirited doctoring,
and I felt sorry for the Government Advocate who would conduct the
When the trial came on I pitied him more, for he was always quick
to lose his temper, and made a personal matter of each lost cause.
Raines's young barrister had for once put aside his unslaked and
Welling passion for alibis and insanity, had forsworn gymnastics
and fireworks, and worked soberly for his client. Mercifully the
hot weather was yet young, and there had been no flagrant cases of
barrack-shootings up to the time; and the jury was a good one,
even for an Indian jury, where nine men out of every twelve are
accustomed to weighing evidence. Ortheris stood firm and was not
shaken by any cross-examination. The one weak point in his tale -
the presence of his rifle in the outer verandah - went
unchallenged by civilian wisdom, though some of the witnesses
could not help smiling. The Government Advocate called for the
rope; contending throughout
that the murder had been a deliberate one. Time had passed, he
argued, for that reflection which comes so naturally to a man
whose honour is lost. There was also the Law, ever ready and
anxious to right the wrongs of the common soldier if, in deed,
wrong had been done. But he doubted much whether there had been
any sufficient wrong. Causeless suspicion over-long brooded upon
had led, by his theory, to deliberate crime. But his attempts to
minimise the motive failed. The most disconnected witness knew -
had known for weeks - the causes of offence, and the prisoner, who
naturally was the last of all to know, groaned in the
dock while he listened. The one question that the trial circled
round was whether Raines had fired under sudden and blinding
provocation given that very morning, and in the summing up it was
clear that Ortheris's evidence told. He had contrived, most
artistically, to suggest that he personally hated the Sergeant,
who had come into the verandah to give him a talking to for
insubordination. In a weak moment the Government Advocate asked
one question too many, "Beggin' your pardon, sir," Ortheris
replied, "'e was callin' me a dam' impudent little lawyer." The
Court shook. The jury brought it in a killing, but with every
provocation and extenuation known to God or man, and the Judge put
his hand to his brow before giving sentence, and the Adam's apple
in the prisoner's throat went up and down mercury-pumping before a
In consideration of all considerations, from his Commanding
Officer's certificate of good conduct to the sure loss of pension,
service, and honour, the prisoner would get two years, to be
served in India, and - there need be no demonstration in Court.
The Government Advocate scowled and picked up his papers; the
guard wheeled with a clash, and the prisoner was relaxed to the
Secular Arm, and driven to the jail in a broken-down ticca-gharri.
His guard and some ten or twelve military witnesses, being less
important, were ordered to wait till what was officially called
the cool of the evening before marching back to cantonments. They
gathered together in one of the deep red brick verandahs of a
disused lock-up and congratulated Ortheris, who bore his honours
modestly. I sent my work into the office and joined them. Ortheris
watched the Government Advocate driving off lunch.
"That's a nasty little bald-'eaded little butcher, that is," he
said. "'E don't please me. 'E's got a colley dog wot do, though.
I'm goin' up to Murree in a week. That dawg'll bring fifteen
"You had better spend it in Masses," said Terence, unbuckling his
belt, for he had been on the prisoner's guard, standing helmeted
and bolt up right for three long hours.
"Not me," said Ortheris cheerfully. "Gawd'll put it down to B
Comp'ny's barrick damages one o' these days. You look strapped,
"Faith, I'm not so young as I was. That guard-mountin' wears on
the sole av the fut, and this" - he sniffed contemptuously at the
brick verandah - "is as hard setting as standin'!"
"Wait a minute. I'll get the cushions out of my cart," I said.
"Strewth - sofies! We're going it gay," said Ortheris, as Terence
dropped himself section by section on the leather cushions, saying
prettily, "May you niver want a soft place wheriver you go, an'
power to share utt wid a frind. Another for yourself? That's good.
It lets me sit long ways. Stanley, pass me a poipe. Augrrh! An'
that's another man gone all to pieces bekaze av a woman. I must
ha' been on forty or fifty prisoners' gyards, first an' last, an'
I hate ut new ivry time."
"Let's see. You were on Losson's, Lancey's, Dugard's, and
Stebbins's, that I can remember," I said.
"Ay, an' before that an' before that - scores av thim," he
answered with a worn smile. "Tis betther to die than to live for
thim, though. Whin Raines comes out - he'll be changin' his kit at
the jail now - he'll think that too. He shud ha' shot himself an'
the woman by rights, an' made a clean bill av all. Now he's left
the woman - she tuk tay wid Dinah Sunday gone last - an' he's left
himself. Mackie's the lucky man."
"He's probably getting it hot where he is," I ventured, for I knew
something of the dead Corporal's record.
"Be sure av that," said Terence, spitting over the edge of the
verandah. "But fwhat he'll get there is light marchin'-ordher to
fwhat he'd ha' got here if he'd lived."
"Surely not. He'd have gone on and forgotten like the others."
"Did ye know Mackie well, Sorr?" said Terence.
"He was on the Pattiala guard of honour last winter, and I went
out shooting with him in an ekka for the day, and I found him
rather an amusing man."
"Well, he'll ha' got shut av amusemints, excipt turnin' from wan
side to the other, these few years come. I knew Mackie, an' I've
seen too many to be mistuk in the muster av wan man. He might ha'
gone on an' forgot, as you say, Sorr, but was a man wid an
educashin, an' he used ut for his schames, an' the same educashin,
an' talk an' all that made him able to do fwhat he had a mind to
wid a woman, that same wud turn back again in the long run an'
tear him alive. I can't say fwhat that I mane to say bekaze I
don't know how, but Mackie was the spit an' livin' image av a man
that I saw march the same march all but; an' 'twas worse for him
that he did not come by Mackie's ind. Wait while I remimber now.
'Twas fwhin I was in the Black Tyrone, an' he was drafted us from
Portsmouth; an' fwhat was his misbegotten name? Larry - Larry
Tighe ut was; an' wan of the draft said he was a gentleman ranker,
an' Larry tuk an' three parts killed him for saying so. An' he was
a big man, an' a strong man, an' a handsome man, an' that tells
heavy in practice wid some women, but, takin' thim by an' large,
not wid all. Yet 'twas wid all that Larry dealt - all - for he 'ud
put the comether on any woman that trod the green earth av God,
an' he knew ut. Like Mackie that's roastin' now, he knew ut; an'
niver did he put the comether on any woman save an' excipt for the
black shame. 'Tis not me that shud be talkin', dear knows, dear
knows, but the most av my mis - misalli'nces was for pure devilry,
an' mighty sorry I have been whin harm came; an' time an' again
wid a girl, ay, an' a woman too, for the matter av that, whin I
have seen by the eyes av her that I was makin' more throuble than
I talked, I have hild off an' let be for the sake av the mother
that bore me. But Larry, I'm thinkin', he was suckled by a she-
devil, for he niver let wan go that came nigh to listen to him.
'Twas his business, as if it might ha' bin sinthry-go. He was a
good soldier too. Now there was the Colonel's governess - an' he a
privit too! - that was never known in barricks; an' wan av the
Major's maids, and she was promised to a man; an' some more
outside; an' fwhat ut was amongst us we'll never know till
Judgment Day! 'Twas the nature av the baste to put the comether on
the best av thim - not the prettiest by any manner av manes - but
the like av such woman as you cud lay your band on the Book an'
swear there was niver thought av foolishness in. An' for that very
reason, mark you, he was niver caught. He came close to ut wanst
or twice, but caught he niver was, an' that cost him more at the
ind than the beginnin'. He talked to me more than most, bekaze he
tould me, barrin' the accident av my educashin, I'd ha' been the
same kind av divil he was. 'An' is ut
like,' he wud say, houldin' his head high - 'is ut like that I'd
iver be thrapped? For fwhat am I when all's said an' done?' he
sez. 'A damned privit,' sez he. 'An' is ut like, think you, that
thim I know wud be connect wid a privit like me? Number tin
thousand four hundred an' sivin,' he sez, grinnin'. I knew by the
turn av his spache whin he was not takin' care to talk rough that
he was a gentleman ranker.
I do not undherstan' ut at all,' I sez; 'but I know,' sez I, 'that
the divil looks out av your eyes, an' I'll have no share wid you.
A little fun by way av amusemint where 't will do no harm, Larry,
is right and fair, but I am mistook if 'tis any amusemint to you,'
"'You are much mistook,' he sez. 'An' I counsel you not to judge
"'My betthers!' I sez. 'God help you, Larry. There's no betther in
this. 'Tis all bad, as you will find for yoursilf.'
"You're not like me,' he says, tossin' his head.
"'Praise the Saints, I am not,' I sez. 'Fwhat I have done I have
done an' been crool sorry for. Fwhin your time comes,' sez I,
'ye'll remimber fwhat I say.'
"'An' whin that time comes,' sez he, 'I'll come to you for ghostly
consolation, Father Terence,' an' at that he wint off afther some
more divil's business - for to get expayrience, he tould me. He
was wicked - rank wicked - wicked as all Hell! I'm not construct
by nature to go in fear av any man, but, begad, I was afraid av
Larry. He'd come in to barricks wid his cap on three hairs, an'
lie on his cot and stare at the ceilin', and now an' again he'd
fetch a little laugh, the like av a splash in the bottom av a
well, an' by that I knew he was schamin' new wickedness, an' I'd
be afraid. All this was long an' long ago, but ut hild me straight
- for a while.
"I tould you, did I not, Sorr, that I was caressed an' pershuaded
to lave the Tyrone on account av a throuble?"
"Something to do with a belt and a man's head, wasn't it?" Terence
had never given me the exact facts.
"It was. Faith, ivry time I go on prisoner's gyard in coort I
wondher fwhy I am not where the pris'ner is. But the man I struk
tuk it in fair fight, an' he had the good sinse not to die.
Considher now, fwhat wud ha' come to the Arrmy if he had! I was
enthreated to exchange, an' my Commandin' Orf'cer pled wid me. I
wint, not to be disobligin', an' Larry tould me he was powerful
sorry to lose me, though fwhat I'd done to make him sorry I do not
know. So to the Ould Rig'mint I came, lavin' Larry to go to the
divil his own way, an' niver expectin' to see him again except as
a shootin'-case in barricks. . . . Who's
that lavin' the compound?" Terence's quick eye had caught sight of
a white uniform skulking behind hedge.
"The Sergeant's gone visiting," said a voice.
"Thin I command here, an' I will have no
sneakin' away to the bazar, an' huntin' for you wid a pathrol at
midnight. Nalson, for I know ut's you, come back to the verandah."
Nalson, detected, slunk back to his fellows. There was a grumble
that died away in a minute or two, and Terence, turning on the
other side, went on:-
"That was the last I saw av Larry for a while. Exchange is the
same as death for not thinkin', an' by token I married Dinah, an'
that kept me from remimberin' ould times. Thin we wint up to the
Front, an' ut tore my heart in tu to lave
Dinah at the Depot in Pindi. Consequint whin was at the Front I
fought circumspectuous till I warrmed up, an thin I fought double
tides. You remimber fwhat I tould you in the gyard-gate av the
fight at Silver's Theatre."
"Wot's that about Silver's Theayter!" said Ortheris quickly, over
"Nothin', little man. A tale that ye know. As I was sayin', afther
that fight us av the Ould Rig'mint an' the Tyrone was all mixed
together takin' shtock ay the dead, an' av coorse I wint about to
find if there was any man that remimbered me. The second man I
came acrost - an' how I'd missed him in the fight I do not know -
was Larry, an' a fine man he looked, but oulder, by token that he
had a call to be. 'Larry,' sez I, 'how is ut wid you?'
"'Ye're callin' the wrong man,' he sez, wid his gentleman's smile;
'Larry has been dead these three years. They call him "Love-o'-
Women" now,' he sez. By that I knew the ould divil was in him yet,
but the ind av a fight is no time for the beginnin' av confession,
so we sat down an' talked av times.
"'They tell me you're a married man,' he sez, puffing slow at his
poipe. 'Are ye happy?'
"'I will be whin I get back to Depot,' I sez. ''Tis a
reconnaissance honeymoon now.'
"'I'm married too,' he sez, puffin' slow an' more slow, an'
stopperin' wid his forefinger.
"'Sind you happiness,' I sez. 'That's the best hearin' for a long
"'Are ye av that opinion?' he sez; an' thin he began talkin' av
the campaign. The sweat av Silver's Theatre was not dhry upon him,
an' he was prayin' for more work. I was well contint to lie and
listen to the cook-pot lids.
"Whin he got up off the ground he shtaggered a little, an' laned
over all twisted.
"'Ye've got more than ye bargained for,' I sez. 'Take an
inventory, Larry. 'Tis like you're hurt.'
"He turned round stiff as a ramrod an' damned the eyes av me up
an' down for an impartinent Irish-faced ape. If that had been in
barricks, I'd ha' stretched him an' no more said; but 'twas at the
Front, an' afther such a fight as Silver's Theatre I knew there
was no callin' a man to account for his timpers. He might as well
ha' kissed me. Aftherwards I was well pleased I kept my fistes
home. Then our Captain Crook - Cruik-na-bul-leen - came up. He'd
been talkin' to the little orf'cer bhoy av the Tyrone. 'We're all
cut to windystraws,' he sez, 'but the Tyrone are damned short for
noncoms. Go you over there, Mulvaney,
an' be Deputy-Sergeant, Corp'ral, Lance, an' everything else ye
can lay hands on till I bid you stop.'
"'I wint over an' tuk hould. There was wan sergeant left standin',
an' they'd pay no heed to him. The remnint was me, an' 'twas high
time I came. Some I talked to, an' some I did not, but before
night the bhoys av the Tyrone stud to attention, begad, if I
sucked on my poipe above a whishper. Betune you an' me an' Bobs, I
was commandin' the company, an' that was what Cruik had
thransferred me for, an' the little orf'cer bhoy knew ut, and I
knew ut, but the comp'ny did not. And there, mark you, is the
vartue that no money an' no dhrill can buy - the vartue av the
ould soldier that knows his orf'cer's work an' does ut - at the
"Thin the Tyrone, wid the Ould Rig'mint in touch, was sint
maraudin' and prowlin' acrost the hills promishcuous an'
unsatisfactory. 'Tis my privit opinion that a gin'ral does not
know half his time fwhat to do wid three-quarthers his command. So
he shquats on his hunkers an' bids thim run round an' round
forninst him while he considhers on ut. Whin by the process av
nature they get sejuced into a big fight that was none av their
seekin', he sez: 'Obsarve my shuparior janius! I meant ut to come
so.' We ran round an' about, an' all we got was shootin' into the
camp at night, an' rushin' empty sungars wid the long bradawl, an'
bein' hit from behind rocks till we was wore out - all except
Love-o'-Women. That puppy-dog business was mate an' dhrink to him.
Begad, he cud niver get enough av ut. Me well knowin' that it is
just this desultorial campaignin' that kills the best men, an'
suspicionin' that if I was cut the little orf'cer bhoy wud expind
all his men in thryin' to get out, I wud lie most powerful doggo
whin I heard a shot, an' curl my long legs behind a bowlder, an'
run like blazes whin the ground was clear. Faith, if I led the
Tyrone in rethreat wanst I led them forty times. Love-o'-Women wud
stay pottin' an' pottin' from behind a rock, and wait till the
fire was heaviest, an' thin stand up an' fire man-height clear. He
wud lie out in camp too at night snipin' at the shadows, for he
niver tuk a mouthful av slape. My commandin' orf'cer - save his
little soul! - cud not see the beauty av of my strategims, an'
whin the Ould Rig'mint crossed us, an' that was wanst a week, he'd
throt off to Cruik, wid his big blue eyes as round as saucers, an'
lay an information against me. I heard thim wanst talkin' through
the tent-wall, an' I nearly laughed.
"'He runs - runs like a hare,' sez the little orf'cer bhoy. "Tis
demoralisin' my men.'
"'Ye damned little fool,' sez Cruik, laughin'. 'He's larnin' you
your business. Have ye been rushed at night yet?'
"'No,' sez the child, wishful that he had been.
"'Have you any wounded?' sez Cruik.
"'No,' he sez. 'There was no chanst for that. They follow Mulvaney
too quick,' he sez.
"'Fwhat more do you want, thin?' sez Cruik. 'Terence is bloodin'
you neat an' handy,' he sez. 'He knows fwhat you do not, an'
that's that there's
a time for ivrything. He'll not lead you wrong,' he sez, 'but I'd
give a month's pay to larn fwhat he thinks av you.'
"That kept the babe quiet, but Love-o'-Women was pokin' at me for
ivrything I did, an' specially my manoeuvres.
"'Mr. Mulvaney,' he sez wan evenin', very contempshus, 'you're
growin' very jeldy wid your feet. Among gentlemen,' he sez, 'among
gentlemen that's called no pretty name.'
"'Among privits 'tis different,' I sez. 'Get back to your tent.
I'm sergeant here,' I sez.
"There was just enough in the voice av me to tell him he was
playin' wid his life betune his teeth. He wint off, an' I noticed
that this man that was contempshus set off from the halt wid a
shunt as tho' he was bein' kicked behind. That same night there
was a Paythan picnic in the hills about, an' firin' into our tents
fit to wake the livin' dead. 'Lie down all,' I sez. 'Lie down an'
kape still. They'll no more than waste ammunition.'
"I heard a man's feet on the ground, an' thin a 'Tini joinin' in
the chorus. I'd been lyin' warm, thinkin' av Dinah an' all, but I
crup out wid the bugle for to look round in case there was a rush,
an' the 'Tini was flashin' at the fore-ind av the camp, an' the
hill near by was fair flickerin' wid long-range fire. Undher the
starlight I beheld Love-o'-Women settin' on a rock wid his belt
and helmet off. He shouted wanst or twice, an' thin I heard him
say: 'They should ha' got the range long ago. Maybe they'll fire
at the flash.' Thin he fired again, an' that dhrew a fresh volley,
and the long slugs that they chew in their teeth came floppin'
among the rocks like tree-toads av a hot night. 'That's better,'
sez Love-o'-Women. 'Oh Lord, how long, how long!' he sez, an' at
that he lit a match an' held ut above his head.
"'Mad,' thinks I, 'mad as a coot,' an' I tuk wan stip
forward, an' the nixt I knew was the sole av my boot flappin' like
a cavalry gydon an' the
- funny-bone av my toes tinglin'. 'Twas a clane-cut shot - a
slug - that niver touched sock or
hide, but set me bare-fut on the rocks. At that I tuk Love-o'-
Women by the scruff an' threw him under
a bowlder, an' whin I sat down I heard the bullets patterin' on
that good stone.
"'Ye may dhraw your own wicked fire,' I sez, shakin' him, 'but I'm
not goin' to be kilt too.'
"Ye've come too soon,' he sez. 'Ye've come too soon. In another
minute they cud not ha' missed me. Mother av God,' he sez, 'fwhy
did ye not lave me be? Now 'tis all to do again,' an' he hides his
face in his hands.
"'So that's it,' I sez, shakin' him again. 'That's th manin' av
your disobeyin' ordhers.'
"'I dare not kill meself,' he sez, rockin' to and fro. 'My own
hand wud not let me die, and there's not a bullet this month past
wud touch me. I'm to die slow,' he sez. 'I'm to die slow. But I'm
in hell now,' he sez, shriekin' like a woman. 'I'm in hell now!'
"'God be good to us all,' I sez, for I saw his face. 'Will ye tell
a man the throuble. If 'tis not murder, maybe we'll mend it yet.'
"At that he laughed. 'D'you remimber fwhat I said in the Tyrone
barricks about comin' to you for ghostly consolation. I have not
forgot,' he sez. 'That came back, an' the rest av my time is on me
now, Terence. I've fought ut off for months an' months, but the
liquor will not bite any more, Terence,' he sez. 'I can't get
"Thin I knew he spoke the truth about bein' in hell, for whin
liquor does not take hould, the sowl av a man is rotten in him.
But me bein' such as I was, fwhat could I say to him?
"'Di'monds an' pearls,' he begins again. 'Di'monds and pearls I
have thrown away wid both hands - an' fwhat have I left? Oh, fwhat
have I left?'
"He was shakin' an' thremblin' up against my shouldher, an' the
slugs was singin' overhead, an' I was wonderin' whether my little
bhoy wud have sinse enough to kape his men quiet through all this
"'So long as I did not think,' sez Love-o'-Women, 'so long I did
not see - I wud not see - but I can now, what I've lost. The time
an' the place,' he sez, 'an' the very words I said whin ut pleased
me to go off alone to hell. But thin, even thin,' he sez,
wrigglin' tremenjus, 'I wud not ha' been happy. There was too much
behind av me. How cud I ha' believed her sworn oath - me that have
bruk mine again an' again for the sport av seein' thim cry. An'
there are the others,' he sez. 'Oh, what will I do - what will I
do'?' He rocked back an' forward again, an' I think he was cryin'
like wan av the women he dealt wid.
"The full half av fwhat he said was Brigade Ordhers to me, but
from the rest an' the remnint I suspicioned somethin' av his
throuble. 'Twas the judgmint av God had grup the heel av him, as I
tould him 'twould in the Tyrone barricks. The slugs was singin'
over our rock more an' more, an' I sez for to divart him: 'Let bad
alone,' I sez. 'They'll be thryin' to rush the camp in a minut'.'
"I had no more than said that whin a Paythan man crep' up on his
belly wid his knife betune his teeth, not twinty yards from us.
Love-o'-Women jumped up an' fetched a yell, an' the man saw him
an' ran at him (he'd left his rifle under the rock) wid the knife.
Love-o'-Women niver turned a hair, but by the Living Power, for I
saw ut, a stone twisted under the Paythan man's feet an' he came
down full sprawl, an' his knife wint tinklin' acrost the rocks! 'I
tould you I was Cain,' sez Love-o'-Women.' 'Fwhat's the use av
killin' him? He's an honest man - by compare.'
"I was not dishputin' about the morils av Paythans that tide, so I
dhropped Love-o'-Women's burt acrost the man's face, an' 'Hurry
into camp,' I sez, 'for this may be the first av a rush.'
"There was no rush afther all, though we waited undher arms to
give thim a chanst. The Paythan man must ha' come alone for the
mischief, an' afther a while Love-o'-Women wint back to his tint
wid that quare lurchin' sind-off in his walk that I cud niver
undherstand. Begad, I pitied him, an' the more bekaze he made me
think for the rest av the night av the day whin I was confirmed
Corp'ril, not actin' Lef'tenant, an' my thoughts was not good.
"Ye can undherstand that afther that night we came to talkin' a
dale together, an' bit by bit ut came out fwhat I'd suspicioned.
The whole av his carr'in's on an' divilmints had come back on him
hard as liquor comes back whin you've been on the dhrink for a
wake. All he'd said an' all he'd done, an' only he cud tell how
much that was, come back, an' there was niver a minut's peace in
his sowl. 'Twas the Horrors widout any cause to see, an' yet, an'
yet - fwhat am I talkin' av? He'd ha' taken the Horrors wid
thankfulness. Beyon' the repentince av the man, an' that was
beyon' the natur av man - awful, awful, to behould! - there was
more that was worst than any repentince. Av the scores an' scores
that he called over in his mind (an' they were dhrivin' him mad),
there was, mark you, wan woman av all, an' she was not his wife,
that cut him to the quick av his marrow. 'Twas there he said that
he'd thrown away di'monds an' pearls past count, an' thin he'd
begin again like a blind byle in an oil-mill, walkin' round an'
round, to considher (him that was beyond all touch av being happy
this side hell!) how happy he wud ha' been wid her. The more he
considhered, the more he'd consate himself that he'd lost mighty
happiness, an' thin he wud work ut all backwards, an' cry that he
niver cud ha' been happy anyways.
"Time an' time an' again in camp, on p'rade, ay, an' in action,
I've seen that man shut his eyes an' duck his head as you wud duck
to the flicker av a bay'nit. For 'twas thin he tould me that the
thought av all he'd missed came an' stud forninst him like red-hot
irons. For what he'd done wid the others he was sorry, but he did
not care; but this wan woman that I've tould of, by the Hilts av
God she made him pay for all the others twice over! Niver did I
know that a man cud enjure such tormint widout his heart crackin'
in his ribs, an' I have been" - Terence turned the pipe-stem
slowly between his teeth -" I have been in some black cells. All I
iver suffered tho' was not to be talked of alongside av him . . .
an' what could I do? Paternosters was no more than peas for his
"Evenshually we finished our prom'nade acrost the hills, and
thanks to me for the same, there was no casualties an' no glory.
The campaign was comin' to an ind, an' all the rig'mints was bein'
drawn together for to be sint back home. Love-o'-Women was mighty
sorry bekaze he had no work to do, an' all his time to think in.
I've heard that man talkin' to his belt-plate an' his side-arms
while he was soldierin' thim, all to prevint himself from
thinkin', an' ivry time he got up afther he had been settin' down
or wint on from the halt, he'd start wid that kick an' traverse
that I tould you of - his legs sprawlin' all ways to wanst. He wud
niver go see the docthor, tho' I tould him to be wise. He'd curse
me up an' down for my advice; but I knew he was no more a man to
be reckoned wid than the little bhoy was a commandin' orf'cer, so
I let his tongue run if it aised him.
"Wan day - 'twas on the way back - I was walkin' round camp wid
him, an' he stopped an' struck ground wid his right fut three or
four times doubtful. 'Fwhat is ut?' I sez. 'Is that ground?' sez
he; an' while I was thinkin' his mind was goin', up comes the
docthor, who'd been anatomisin' a dead bullock. Love-o'-Women
starts to go on quick, an' lands me a kick on the knee while his
legs was gettin' into marchin' ordher.
"Hould on there,' sez the docthor; an' Love-o'-Women's face, that
was lined like a gridiron, turns red as brick.
"'Tention,' says the docthor; an' Love-o'-Women stud so. 'Now
shut your eyes,' sez the docthor. 'No, ye must not hould by your
"'Tis all up,' sez Love-o'-Women, trying to smile. 'I'd fall,
docthor, an' you know ut.'
"'Fall?' I sez. 'Fall at attention wid your eyes shut! Fwhat do
"The docthor knows,' he sez. 'I've hild up as long as I can, but
begad I'm glad 'tis all done. But I will die slow,' he sez, 'I
will die very slow.'
"I cud see by the docthor's face that he was mortial sorry for the
man, an' he ordhered him to hospital. We wint back together, an' I
was dumbstruck; Love-o'-Women was cripplin' and crumblin' at ivry
step. He walked wid a hand on my shoulder all slued sideways, an'
his right leg swingin' like a lame camel. Me not knowin' more than
the dead fwhat ailed him, 'twas just as though the docthor's word
had done ut all - as if Love-o'-Women had but been waitin' for the
ordher to let go.
"In hospital he sez somethin' to the docthor that I could not
"'Holy shmoke!' sez the docthor, 'an' who are you to be givin'
names to your diseases? 'Tis ag'in' all the regulations.'
"'I'll not be a privit much longer,' sez Love-o'-Women in his
gentleman's voice, an' the docthor jumped.
"'Thrate me as a study, Docthor Lowndes,' he sez; an' that was the
first time I'd iver heard a docthor called his name.
"'Good-bye, Terence,' sez Love-o'-Women. "Tis a dead man I am
widout the pleasure av dyin'. You'll come an' set wid me sometimes
for the peace av my soul.'
"Now I had been minded to ask Cruik to take me back to the Ould
Rig'mint, for the fightin' was over, an' I was wore out wid the
ways av the bhoys in the Tyrone; but I shifted my will, an' hild
on, an' wint to set wid Love-o'-Women in the hospital. As I have
said, Sorr, the man bruk all to little pieces undher my hand. How
long he had hild up an' forced himself fit to march I cannot tell,
but in hospital but two days later he was such as I hardly knew. I
shuk hands wid him, an' his grip was fair strong, but his hands
wint all ways to wanst, an' he cud not button his tunic.
"'I'll take long an' long to die yet,' he sez, 'for the ways av
sin they're like interest in the rig'mintal savin's-bank - sure,
but a damned long time bein' paid.'
"The docthor sez to me quiet one day, 'Has Tighe there anythin' on
his mind?' he sez. 'He's burnin' himself out.'
"'How shud I know, Sorr?' I sez, as innocent as putty.
"They call him Love-o'-Women in the Tyrone, do they not?' he sez.
'I was a fool to ask. Be wid him all you can. He's houldin' on to
"'But (what ails him, docthor,' I sez.
"'They call ut Locomotus attacks us,' he sez, 'bekaze,' sez he,
'ut attacks us like a locomotive, if ye know fwhat that manes. An'
ut comes,' sez he, lookin' at me, 'ut comes from bein' called
"'You're jokin', docthor,' I sez.
"'Jokin'!' sez he. 'If iver you feel that you've got a felt sole
in your boot instead av a Government bull's-wool, come to me,' he
sez, 'an' I'll show you whether 'tis a joke.'
"You would not belave ut, Sorr, but that an' seein' Love-o'-Women
overtuk widout warnin' put the cowld fear av attacks us on me so
strong that for a week an' more I was kickin' my toes against
stones an' stumps for the pleasure av feelin' them hurt.
"An' Love-o'-Women lay in the cot (he might have gone down wid the
wounded before an' before, but he asked to stay wid me), aud fwhat
there was in his mind had full swing at him night an' day an' ivry
hour av the day an' the night, an' he withered like beef rations
in a hot sun, an' his eyes was like owls' eyes, an' his hands was
"They was gettin' the rig'mints away wan by wan, the campaign
bein' inded, but as ushuil they was behavin' as if niver a
rig'mint had been moved before in the mem'ry av man. Now, fwhy is
that, Sorr? There's fightin' in an' out nine months av the twelve
somewhere in the Army. There has been - for years an' years an'
years, an' I wud ha' thought they'd begin to get the hang av
providin' for throops. But no! Ivry time it's like a girls' school
meetin' a big red bull whin they're goin' to church; an' 'Mother
av God,' sez the Commissariat an' the railways an' the Barrick-
masters, 'fwhat will we do now?' The ordhers came to us av the
Tyrone an' the Ould Rig'mint an' half a dozen more to go down, and
there the ordhers stopped dumb. We wint down, by the special grace
av God - down the Khaiber anyways. There was sick wid us, an' I'm
thinkin' that some av them was jolted to death in the doolies, but
they was anxious to be kilt so if they cud get to Peshawur alive
the sooner. I walked by Love-o'-Women - there was no marchin', an'
Love-o'-Women was not in a stew to get on. 'If I'd only ha' died
up there!' sez he through the doolie-curtains, an' then he'd twist
up his eyes an' duck his head for the thoughts that came to him.
"Dinah was in Depot at Pindi, but I wint circumspectuous, for well
I knew 'tis just at the rump-ind av all things that his luck turns
on a man. By token I ad seen a dhriver of a batthery goin' by at a
trot singin' 'Home, swate home' at the top av his shout, and
takin' no heed o his bridle-hand - I had seen that man dhrop under
the gun in the middle of a word, and come out by the limber like -
like a frog on a pave-stone. No. I wud not hurry, though, God
knows, my heart was all in Pindi. Love-o'-Women saw fwhat was in
my mind, an' 'Go on, Terence,' h sez, 'I know fwhat's waitin' for
you.' 'I will not,' I sez. "Twill kape a little yet.'
"Ye know the turn of the pass forninst Jumrood and the nine mile
road on the flat to Peshawur? All Peshawur was along that road day
and night waitin' for frinds - men, women, childer, and bands.
Some av the throops was camped
round Jumrood, an' some went on to Peshawur to get away down to
their cantonmints. We came through in the early mornin', havin'
been awake the night through, and we dhruv sheer into the middle
av the mess. Mother av Glory, will I ever forget that comin' back?
The light was not fair lifted, and the furst we heard was 'For
'tis my delight av a shiny night,' frum a band that thought we was
the second four comp'nies av the Lincolnshire. At that we was
forced to sind them a yell to say who we was, an' thin up wint
'The wearin' av the Green.' It made me crawl all up my backbone,
not havin' taken my brequist. Thin, right smash into our rear,
came fwhat was left av the Jock Elliotts - wid four pipers an' not
half a kilt among thim, playin' for the dear life, an' swingin'
their rumps like buck rabbits, an' a native rig'mint shrieking
blue murther. Ye niver heard the like. There was men cryin' like
women that did - an' faith I do not blame thim. Fwhat bruk me down
was the Lancers' Band - shinin' an' spick like angels, wid the
ould dhrum-horse at the head an' the silver kettle-dhrums an' all
an' all, waitin' for their men that was behind us. They shtruck up
the Cavalry Canter, an', begad, those poor ghosts that had not a
sound fut in a throop they answered to ut, the men rockin' in
their saddles. We thried to cheer them as they wint by, but ut
came out like a big gruntin' cough, so there must have been many
that was feelin' like me. Oh, but I'm forgettin'! The Fly-by-
Nights was waitin' for their second battalion, an' whin ut came
out, there was the Colonel's horse led at the head - saddle-empty.
The men fair worshipped him, an' he'd died at Au Musjid on the
road down. They waited till the remnint av the battalion was up,
and thin - clane against ordhers, for who wanted that chune that
day? - they wint back to Peshawur slow-time an' tearin' the bowils
out av ivry man that heard, wid 'The Dead March.' Right across our
line they wint, an' ye know their uniforms are as black as the
Sweeps, crawlin' past like the dead, an' the other bands damnin'
them to let be.
"Little they cared. The carpse was wid them, an' they'd ha' taken
ut so through a Coronation. Our ordhers was to go into Peshawur,
an' we wint hot-fut past the Fly-by-Nights, not singin', to lave
that chune behind us. That was how we tuk the road of the other
"'Twas ringin' in my ears still whin I felt in the bones of me
that Dinah was comin', an' I heard a shout, an' thin I saw a horse
an' a tattoo latherin' down the road, hell to shplit, under women.
I knew - I knew! Wan was the Tyrone Colonel's wife - ould Beeker's
lady - her gray hair flyin' an' her fat round carkiss rowlin' in
the saddle, an' the other was Dinah, that shud ha' been at Pindi.
The Colonel's lady she charged at the head av our column like a
stone wall, an' she all but knocked Beeker off his horse throwin'
her arms round his neck an' blubberin', 'Me bhoy! Me bhoy!' an'
Dinah wheeled left an' came down our flank, an' I let a yell that
had suffered inside av me for months, and - Dinah came. Will I
iver forget that while I live! She'd come on pass from Pindi, an'
the Colonel's lady had lint her the tattoo. They'd been huggin'
an' cryin' in each other's arms all the long night.
"So she walked along wid her hand in mine, askin' forty questions
to wanst, an' beggin' me on the Virgin to make oath that there was
not a bullet consaled in me, unbeknownst somewhere, an' thin I
remimbered Love-o'-Women. He was watchin' us, an' his face was
like the face av a divil that has been cooked too long. I did not
wish Dinah to see ut, for whin a woman's runnin' over wid
happiness she's like to be touched, for harm aftherwards, by the
laste little thing in life. So I dhrew the curtain, an' Love-o'-
Women lay back and groaned.
"Whin we marched into Peshawur, Dinah wint to barracks to wait for
me, an' me feelin' so rich that tide, I wint on to take Love-o'-
Women to hospital. It was the last I cud do, an' to save him the
dust an' the smother I turned the doolie-men down a road well
clear av the rest av the throops, an we wint along, me talkin'
through the curtains. Av a sudden I heard him say: -
"'Let me look. For the Mercy av Hiven, let me look!' I had been so
tuk up wid gettin' him out av the dust and thinkin' of Dinah that
1 had not kept my eyes about me. There was a woman ridin' a little
behind av us, an', talkin' ut over wid Dinah aftherwards, that
same woman must ha' rid not far on the Jumrood road. Dinah said
that she had been hoverin' like a kite on the left flank av the
"I halted the doolie to set the curtains, an' she rode by walkin'-
pace, an' Love-o'-Women's eyes wint afther her as if he would fair
haul her down from the saddle.
"'Follow there,' was all he sez, but I niver heard a man spake in
that voice before or since, an' I knew by those two wan words an'
the look in his face that she was Di'monds-an'-Pearls that he'd
talked av in his disthresses.
"We followed till she turned into the gate av a little house that
stud near the Edwardes's Gate. There was two girls in the
verandah, an' they ran in whin they saw us. Faith, at long eye-
range ut did not take me a wink to see fwhat kind av house ut was.
The throops bein' there an' all, there was three or four such, but
aftherwards the polis bade them go. At the verandah Love-o'-Women
sez, catchin' his breath, 'Stop here,' an' thin, an' thin, wid a
grunt that must ha' tore the heart up from his stomach, he swung
himself out av the doolie, an' my troth he stud up on his feet wid
the sweat pourin' down his face. If Mackie was to walk in here now
I'd be less tuk back than I was thin. Where he'd dhrawn his power
from, God knows or the divil - but 't was a dead man walkin' in
the sun wid the face av a dead man and the breath av a dead man
held up by the Power, an' the legs an' the arms of the carpse
"The woman stud in the verandah. She'd been a beauty too, though
her eyes was sunk in her head, an' she looked Love-o'-Women up an'
down terrible. 'An',' she sez, kickin' back the tail av her habit,
- 'An',' she sez, 'fwhat are you doin' here, married man?'
"Love-o'-Women said nothin', but a little froth came to his lips,
an' he wiped ut off wid his hand an' looked at her an' the paint
on her, an' looked, an' looked, an' looked.
"'An' yet,' she sez, wid a laugh. (Did you hear Mrs. Raines laugh
whin Mackie died? Ye did not? Well for you.) 'An' yet,' she sez,
'who but you have betther right,' sez she. 'You taught me the
road. You showed me the way,' she sez. 'Ay, look,' she sez, 'for
'tis your work; you that tould me - d'you remimber it? - that a
woman who was false to wan man cud be false to two. I have been
that,' she sez, 'that an' more, for you always said I was a quick
learner, Ellis. Look well,' she sez, 'for it is me that you called
your wife in the sight av God long since!' An' she laughed.
"Love-o'-Women stud still in the sun widout answerin'. Thin he
groaned an' coughed to wanst, an' I thought 'twas the death-
rattle, but he niver tuk his eyes off her face not for a wink. Ye
cud ha' put her eyelashes through the flies av an E. P. tent, they
were so long.
"'Fwhat do you do here?' she sez, word by word, 'that have taken
away my joy in my man this five years gone - that have broken my
rest an' killed my body an' damned my soul for the sake av seem'
how 'twas done? Did your expayrience aftherwards bring you acrost
any woman that gave more than I did? Wud I not ha' died for you
an' wid you, Ellis? Ye know that, man! If ever your lyin' sowl saw
truth in uts life ye know that.'
"An' Love-o'-Women lifted up his head and said, 'I knew,' an' that
was all. While she was spakin' the Power hild him up parade-set in
the 'sun, an the sweat dhropped undher his helmet. 'Twas more an'
more throuble for him to talk, an' his mouth was runnin'
"Fwhat do you do here?' she sez, an' her voice whit up. 'Twas like
bells tollin' before. 'Time was whin you were quick enough wid
your words, - you that talked me down to hell. Are ye dumb now?'
An' Love-o'-W omen got his tongue, an' sez simple, like a little
child, 'May I come in?' he sez.
"The house is open day an' night,' she sez, wid a laugh; an' Love-
o'-Women ducked his head an' hild up his hand as tho' he was
gyardin'. The Power was on him still - it hild him up still, for,
by my sowl, as I'll never save ut, he walked up the verandah steps
that had been a livin' corpse in hospital for a month!
"'An' now'?' she sez, lookin' at him; an' the red paint stud lone
on the white av her face like a bull's-eye on a target.
"He lifted up his eyes, slow an' very slow, an' he looked at her
long an' very long, an' he tuk his spache betune his teeth wid a
wrench that shuk him.
"'I'm dyin', Aigypt - dyin',' he sez; ay, those were his words,
for I remimber the name he called her. He was turnin' the death-
colour, but his eyes niver rowled. They were set - set on her.
Widout word or warnin' she opened her arms full stretch, an'
'Here!' she sez. (Oh, fwhat a golden mericle av a voice ut was!)
'Die here,' she sez; an' Love-o'-Women dhropped forward, an' she
hild him up, for she was a fine big woman.
"I had no time to turn, bekaze that minut I heard the sowl quit
him - tore out in the death-rattle - an' she laid him back in a
long chair, an' she sez to me, 'Misther soldier,' she sez, 'will
ye not go in an' talk to wan av the girls. This sun's too much for
"Well I knew there was no sun he'd iver see, but I cud not spake,
so I wint away wid the empty doolie to find the docthor. He'd been
breakfastin' an' lunchin' ever since we'd come in, an' he was as
full as a tick.
"Faith ye've got dhrunk mighty soon,' he sez, whin I'd tould him,
'to see that man walk. Barrin' a puff or two av life, he was a
corpse before we left Jumrood. I've a great mind,' he sez, 'to
"There's a dale av liquor runnin' about, docthor,' I sez, solemn
as a hard-boiled egg. 'Maybe 'tis so, but will ye not come an' see
the corpse at the house?'
"Tis dishgraceful,' he sez, 'that I would be expected to go to a
place like that. Was she a pretty woman?'' he sez, an' at that he
set off double quick.
"I cud see that the two was in the verandah were I'd left them,
an' I knew by the hang av her head an' the noise av the crows
fwhat had happened. 'Twas the first and the last time that I'd
ever known woman to use the pistol. They dread the shot as a rule,
but Di'monds-an'-Pearls she did not - she did not.
"The docthor touched the long black hair av her head ('twas all
loose upon Love-o'-Women's chest), an' that cleared the liquor out
av him. He stud considherin' a long time, his hands in his
pockets, an' at last he sez to me, 'Here's a double death from
naturil causes, most naturil causes; an' in the presint state av
affairs the rig'mint will be thankful for wan grave the less to
dig. Issiwasti,' he sez, 'Issiwasti, Privit Mulvaney, these two
will be buried together in the Civil Cemet'ry at my expinse, an'
may the good God,' he sez, 'make it SO much for me whin my time
comes. Go to your wife,' he sez; 'go an' be happy. I'll see to
"I left him still considherin'. They was buried in the Civil
Cemet'ry together, wid a Church of England service. There was too
many buryin's thin to ask questions, an' the docthor - he ran away
wid Major - Major Van Dyce's lady that year - he saw to ut all.
Fwhat the right an' the wrong av Love-o'-Women an' Di'monds-an'-
Pearls was I niver knew, an' I will niver know; but I've tould ut
as I came acrost ut - here an' there in little pieces. So, being
fwhat I am, an' knowin' fwhat I know, that's fwhy I say in this
shootin'-case here, Mackie that's dead an' in hell is the lucky
man. There are times, Sorr, whin 'tis betther for the man to die
than to live, an' by consequince forty million times betther for
"H'up there!" said Ortheris. "It's time to go." The witnesses and
guard formed up in the thick white dust of the parched twilight
and swung off, marching easy and whistling. Down the road to the
green by the church I could hear Ortheris, the black Book-lie
still uncleansed on his lips, setting, with a fine sense of the
fitness of things, the shrill quick-step that runs -
"Oh, do not despise the advice of the wise,
Learn wisdom from those that are older,
And don't try for things that are out of your reach -
An' that's what the Girl told the Soldier
Oh, that's what the Girl told the Soldier!"
THE BIG DRUNK DRAF'
We're goin' 'ome, we're goin' 'ome -
Our ship is at the shore,
An' you mus' pack your 'aversack,
For we won't come back no more.
Ho, don't you grieve for me,
My lovely Mary Ann,
For I'll marry you yet on a fourp'ny bit,
As a time-expired ma-a-an
Barrack Room Ballad.
AN awful thing has happened! My friend, Private Mulvaney, who went
home in the Serapis, time-expired, not very long ago, has come
back to India as a civilian! It was all Dinah Shadd's fault. She
could not stand the poky little lodgings, and she missed her
servant Abdullah more than words could tell. The fact was that the
Mulvaneys had been out here too long, and had lost touch of
Mulvaney knew a contractor on one of the new Central India lines,
and wrote to him for some sort of work. The contractor said that
if Mulvaney could pay the passage he would give him command of a
gang of coolies for old sake's sake. The pay was eighty-five
rupees a month, and Dinah Shadd said that if Terence did not
accept she would make his life a "basted purgathory." Therefore
the Mulvaneys came out as "civilians," which was a great and
terrible fall; though Mulvaney tried to disguise it by saying that
he was "Ker'nel on the railway line, an' a consequinshal man."
He wrote me an invitation, on a tool-indent form, to visit him;
and I came down to the funny little "construction" bungalow at the
side of the line. Dinah Shadd had planted peas about and about,
and nature had spread all manner of green stuff round the place.
There was no change in Mulvaney except the change of clothing,
which was deplorable, but could not be helped. He was standing
upon his trolly, haranguing a gangman, and his shoulders were as
well drilled and his big, thick chin was as clean-shaven as ever.
"I'm a civilian now," said Mulvaney. "Cud you tell that I was iver
a martial man'? Don't answer, Sorr, av you're strainin' betune a
complimint an' a lie. There's no houldin' Dinah Shadd now she's
got a house av her own. Go inside, an' dhrink tay out av chiny in
the drrrrawin'-room, an' thin we'll dhrink like Christians undher
the tree here. Scutt, ye naygur-folk! There's a Sahib come to call
on me, an' that's more than he'll iver do for you onless you run!
Get out, an' go on pilin' up the earth, quick, till sundown."
When we three were comfortably settled under the big sisham in
front of the bungalow, and the first rush of questions and answers
about Privates Ortheris and Learoyd and old times and places had
died away, Mulvaney said, reflectively - "Glory be, there's no
p'rade to-morrow, an' no bun-headed Corp'ril-bhoy to give you his
lip. An' yit I don't know. 'Tis harrd to be something ye niver
were an' niver meant to be, an' all the ould days shut up along
wid your papers. Eyah! I'm growin' rusty, an' 'tis the will av God
that a man mustn't serve his Quane for time an' all."
He helped himself to a fresh peg, and sighed furiously.
"Let your beard grow, Mulvaney," said I, "and then you won't be
troubled with those notions. You'll be a real civilian."
Dinah Shadd had told me in the drawing-room of her desire to coax
Mulvaney into letting his beard grow. "'Twas so civilian-like,"
said poor Dinah, who hated her husband's hankering for his old
"Dinah Shadd, you're a dishgrace to an honust, clane-scraped man!
"said Mulvaney, without replying to me. "Grow a beard on your own
chin, darlint, and lave my razors alone. They're all that stand
betune me and dis-ris-pect-ability. Av I didn't shave, I wud be
torminted wid an outrajis thurrst; for there's nothin' so dhryin'
to the throat as a big billy-goat beard waggin' undher the chin.
Ye wudn't have me dhrink always, Dinah Shadd'? By the same token,
you're kapin' me crool dhry now. Let me look at that whiskey."
The whiskey was lent and returned, but Dinah Shadd, who had been
just as eager as her husband in asking after old friends, rent me
"I take shame for you, Sorr, coming down here though the Saints
know you're as welkim as the daylight whin you do come - an'
upsettin' Terence's head wid your nonsense about - about fwhat's
much betther forgotten. He bein' a civilian now, an' you niver was
aught else. Can you not let the Arrmy rest? 'Tis not good for
I took refuge by Mulvaney, for Dinah Shadd has a temper of her
"Let be - let be," said Mulvaney. "'Tis only wanst in a way I can
talk about the ould days." Then to me - "Ye say Dhrumshticks is
well, an' his lady tu'? I niver knew how I liked the gray garron
till I was shut av him an' Asia." - "Dhrumshticks" was the
nickname of the Colonel commanding Mulvaney's old regiment. - "
Will you be seein' him again? You will. Thin tell him" -
Mulvaney's eyes began to twinkle - "tell him wid Privit -"
"Mister, Terence," interrupted Dinah Shadd. "Now the Divil an' all
his angils an' the Firmament av Hiven fly away wid the 'Mister,'
an' the sin av makin' me swear be on your confession, Dinah Shadd!
Privit, I tell ye. Wid Privit Mulvaney's best obedience, that but
for me the last time-expired wud be still pullin' hair on their
way to the sea."
He threw himself back in the chair, chuckled, and was silent.
"Mrs. Mulvaney," I said, "please take up the whiskey, and don't
let him have it until he has told the story."
Dinah Shadd dexterously whipped the bottle away, saying at the
same time, "'Tis nothing to be proud av," and thus captured by the
enemy, Mulvaney spake: -
"'Twas on Chuseday week. I was behaderin' round wid the gangs on
the 'bankmint - I've taught the hoppers how to kape step an' stop
screechin' - whin a head-gangman comes up to me, wid about two
inches av shirt-tail hanging round his neck an' a disthressful
light in his oi. 'Sahib,' sez he, 'there's a reg'mint an' a half
av soldiers up at the junction, knockin' red cinders out av
ivrything an' ivrybody! They thried to hang me in my cloth,' he
sez, 'an' there will be murdher an' ruin an' rape in the place
before nightfall! They say they're comin' down here to wake us up.
What will we do wid our women-folk?'
"'Fetch my throlly!' sez I; 'my heart's sick in my ribs for a wink
at anything wid the Quane's uniform on ut. Fetch my throlly, an'
six av the jildiest men, and run me up in shtyle.'"
"He tuk his best coat," said Dinah Shadd, reproachfully.
"'Twas to do honour to the Widdy. I cud ha' done no less, Dinah
Shadd. You and your digresshins interfere wid the coorse av the
narrative. Have you iver considhered fwhat I wud look like wid me
head shaved as well as me chin? You bear that in your mind, Dinah
"I was throllied up six miles, all to get a shquint at that draf'.
I knew 'twas a spring draf' goin' home, for there's no rig'mint
hereabouts, more's the pity."
"Praise the Virgin!" murmured Dinah Shadd. But Mulvaney did not
"Whin I was about three-quarters av a mile off the rest-camp,
powtherin' along fit to burrst, I heard the noise av the men, an',
on my sowl, Sorr, I cud catch the voice av Peg Barney bellowin'
like a bison wid the belly-ache. You remimber Peg Barney that was
in D Comp'ny - a red, hairy scraun, wid a scar on his jaw? Peg
Barney that cleared out the Blue Lights' Jubilee meetin' wid the
cook-room mop last year?
"Thin I knew ut was a draf' av the Ould Rig'mint, an' I was
conshumed wid sorrow for the bhoy that was in charge. We was harrd
scrapin's at any time. Did I iver tell you how Horker Kelley wint
into clink nakid as Phoebus Apollonius, wid the shirts av the
Corp'ril an' file undher his arrum? An' be was a moild man! But
I'm digresshin'. 'Tis a shame both to the rig'mints and the Arrmy
sendin' down little orf'cer bhoys wid a draf' av strong men mad
wid liquor an' the chanst av gettin' shut av India, an' niver a
punishment that's fit to be given right down an' away from
cantonmints to the dock! 'Tis this nonsinse. Whin I am servin' my
time, I'm undher the Articles av War, an' can be whipped on the
peg for thim. But whin I've served my time, I'm a Reserve man, an'
the Articles av War haven't any hould on me. An orf'cer can't do
anythin' to a time-expired savin' confinin' him to barricks. 'Tis
a wise rig'lation, bekaze a time-expired does not have any
barricks; bein' on the move all the time. 'Tis a Solomon av a
rig'lation, is that. I wud like to be inthroduced to the man that
made ut. 'Tis easier to get colts from a Kibbereen horse-fair into
Galway than to take a bad draf' over ten miles av counthry.
Consiquintly that rig'lation - for fear that the men wud be hurt
by the little orf'cer bhoy. No matther. The nearer my throlly came
to the rest-camp, the woilder was the shine, an' the louder was
the voice of Peg Barney. "Tis good I am here,' thinks I to mysilf,
'for Peg alone is employmint for two or three.' He bein', I well
knew, as copped as a dhrover.
"Faith, that rest-camp was a sight! The tent-ropes was all skew-
nosed, an' the pegs looked as dhrunk as the men - fifty av thim -
the scourin's, an' rinsin's, an' Divil's lavin's av the Ould
Rig'mint. I tell you, Sorr, they were dhrunker than any men you've
ever seen in your mortial life. How does a draf' get dhrunk? How
does a frog get fat? They suk ut in through their shkins.
"There was Peg Barney sittin' on the groun' in his shirt - wan
shoe off an' wan shoe on - whackin' a tent-peg over the head wid
his boot, an' singin' fit to wake the dead. 'Twas no clane song
that he sung, though. 'Twas the Divil's Mass."
"What's that?" I asked.
"Whin a bad egg is shut av the Army, he sings the Divil's Mass for
a good riddance; an' that manes swearin' at ivrything from the
Commandher-in-Chief down to the Room-Corp'ril, such as you niver
in your days heard. Some men can swear so as to make green turf
crack! Have you iver heard the Curse in an Orange Lodge? The
Divil's Mass is ten times worse, an' Peg Barney was singin' ut,
whackin' the tent-peg on the head wid his boot for each man that
he cursed. A powerful big voice had Peg Barney, an' a hard swearer
he was whin sober. I stood forninst him, an' 'twas not me oi alone
that cud tell Peg was dhrunk as a coot.
"Good mornin', Peg,' I sez, whin he dhrew breath afther dursin'
the Adj'tint-Gen'ral; 'I've put on my best coat to see you, Peg
Barney,' sez I.
"Thin take Ut off again,' sez Peg Barney, latherin' away wid the
boot; 'take ut off an' dance, ye lousy civilian!'
"Wid that he begins cursin' ould Dhrumshticks, being so full he
dane disrernimbers the Brigade-Major an' the Judge-Advokit-
"Do you not know me, Peg?' sez I, though me blood was hot in me
wid being called a civilian."
"An' him a decent married man!" wailed Dinah Shadd.
I do not,' sez Peg, 'but dhrunk or sober I'll tear the hide off
your back wid a shovel whin I've stopped singin'.'
"'Say you so, Peg Barney?' sez I. "Tis clear as mud you've
forgotten me. I'll assist your autobiography.' Wid that I
stretched Peg Barney, boot an' all, an' wint into the camp. An
awful sight ut was!
"'Where's the orf'cer in charge av the detachment?' sez I to Scrub
Greene - the manest little worm that ever walked.
"'There's no orf'cer, ye ould cook,' sez Scrub; 'we're a bloomin'
"'Are you that?' sez I; 'thin I'm O'Connell the Dictator, an' by
this you will larn to kape a civil tongue in your rag-box.'
"Wid that I stretched Scrub Greene an' wint to the orf'cer's tent.
'Twas a new little bhoy - not wan I'd iver seen before. He was
sittin' in his tent, purtendin' not to 'ave ear av the racket.
"I saluted - but for the life av me I mint to shake hands whin I
went in. 'Twas the sword hangin' on the tent-pole changed my will.
"'Can't I help, Sorr?' sez I; ''tis a strong man's job they've
given you, an' you'll be wantin' help by sundown.' He was a bhoy
wid bowils, that child, an' a rale gintleman.
"'Sit down,' sez he.
"'Not before my orf'cer,' sez I; an' I tould him fwhat my service
"'I've heard av you,' sez he. 'You tuk the town av Lungtungpen
"'Faith,' thinks I, 'that's Honour an' Glory'; for 'twas Lift'nint
Brazenose did that job. 'I'm wid ye, Sorr,' sez I, 'if I'm av use.
They shud niver ha' sent you down wid the draf'. Savin' your
presince, Sorr,' I sez, ''tis only Lift'nint Hackerston in the
Ould Rig'mint can manage a Home draf'.'
"'I've niver had charge of men like this before,' sez he, playin'
wid the pens on the table; 'an' I see by the Rig'lations -'
"'Shut your oi to the Rig'lations, Sorr,' I sez, 'till the
throoper's into blue wather. By the Rig'lations you've got to tuck
thim up for the night, or they'll be runnin' foul av my coolies
an' makin' a shiverarium half through the counthry. Can you trust
your noncoms, Sorr?'
"'Yes,' sez he.
"'Good,' sez I; 'there'll be throuble before the night. Are you
"'To the next station,' sez he.
"'Betther still,' sez I; 'there'll be big throuble.'
"'Can't be too hard on a Home draf,' sez he; 'the great thing is
to get thim in-ship.'
"'Faith, you've larnt the half av your lesson, Sorr,' sez I, 'but
av you shtick to the Rig'lations you'll niver get thim inship at
all, at all. Or there won't be a rag av kit betune thim whin you
"'Twas a dear little orf'cer bhoy, an' by way av kapin' his heart
up, I tould him fwhat I saw wanst in a draf in Egypt."
"What was that, Mulvaney?" said I.
"Sivin an' fifty men sittin' on the bank av a canal, laughin' at a
poor little squidgereen av an orf'cer that they'd made wade into
the slush an' pitch things out av the boats for their Lord High
Mightinesses. That made me orf'cer bhoy woild wid indignation.
"'Soft an' aisy, Sorr,' sez I; 'you've niver had your draf' in
hannd since you left cantonmints Wait till the night, an' your
work will be ready to you. Wid your permission, Sorr, I will
investigate the camp, an' talk to me ould frinds. 'Tis no manner
av use thryin' to shtop the divilmint now.'
"Wid that I wint out into the camp an' inthrojuced mysilf to ivry
man sober enough to remimber me. I was some wan in the ould days,
an' the bhoys was glad to see me - all excipt Peg Barney wid a eye
like a tomata five days in the bazar, an' a nose to match. They
come round me an' shuk me, an' I tould thim I was in privit employ
wid an income av me own, an' a drrrawin'-room fit to bate the
Quane's; an' wid me lies an' me shtories an' nonsinse gin'rally, I
kept 'em quiet in wan way an' another, knockin' roun' the camp.
'Twas bad even thin whin I was the Angil av Peace.
"I talked to me ould non-coms - they was sober - an' betune me an'
thim we wore the draf' over into their tents at the proper time.
The little orf'cer bhoy he conies round, dacint an' civil-spoken
as might be.
"'Rough quarthers, men,' sez he, 'but you can't look to be as
comfortable as in barricks. We must make the best av things. I've
shut my eyes to a dale av dog's thricks to-day, an' now there must
be no more av ut.'
"No more we will. Come an' have a dhrink, me son,' sez Peg Barney,
staggerin' where he stud. Me little orf'cer bhoy kep' his timper.
"'You're a sulky swine, you are,' sez Peg Barney, an' at that the
men in the tent began to laugh.
"I tould you me orf'cer bhoy had bowils. He cut Peg Barney as near
as might be on the oi that I'd squshed whin we first met. Peg wint
spinnin' acrost the tent.
"Peg him out, Sorr,' sez I, in a whishper.
"Peg him out!' sez me orf'cer bhoy, up loud, just as if 'twas
battalion p'rade an' he pickin' his wurrds from the Sargint.
"The non-coms tuk Peg Barney - a howlin' handful he was - an' in
three minut's he was pegged out - chin down, tight-dhrawn - on his
stummick, a tent-peg to each arm an' leg, swearin' fit to turn a
"I tuk a peg an'' jammed ut into his ugly jaw - 'Bite on that, Peg
Barney,' I sez; 'the night is settin' frosty, an' you'll be
wantin' divarsion before the mornin'. But for the Rig'lations
you'd be bitin' on a bullet now at the thriangles, Peg Barney,'
"All the draf' was out av their tents watchin' Barney bein'
"''Tis agin the Rig'lations! He strook him!' screeches out Scrub
Greene, who was always a lawyer; an' some of the men tuk up the
"'Peg out that man!' sez me orf'cer bhoy, niver losin' his timper;
an' the non-coms wint in and pegged out Scrub Greene by the side
av Peg Barney.
"I cud see that the draf' was comin' roun'. The men stud not
knowin' fwhat to do.
"'Get to your tents!' sez me orf'cer bhoy. 'Sargint, put a sinthry
over these two men.'
"The men wint back into the tents like jackals, an' the rest av
the night there was no noise at all excipt the stip av the sinthry
over the two, an' Scrub Greene blubberin' like a child. 'Twas a
chilly night, an' faith, ut sobered Peg Barney.
"Just before Revelly, me orf'cer bhoy comes out an' sez: 'Loose
those men an' send thim to their tents!' Scrub Greene wint away
widout a word, but Peg Barney, stiff wid the cowld, stud like a
sheep, thryin' to make his orf'cer undherstand he was sorry for
playin' the goat.
"There was no tucker in the draf' whin ut fell in for the march,
an' divil a wurrd about 'illegality' cud I hear.
"I wint to the ould Colour-Sargint and I sez: - 'Let me die in
glory,' sez I. 'I've seen a man this day!'
"'A man he is,' sez ould Hother; 'the draf's as sick as a herrin'.
They'll all go down to the sea like lambs. That bhoy has the
bowils av a cantonmint av Gin'rals.'
"'Amin,' sez I, 'an' good luck go wid him, wheriver he be, by
land or by sea. Let me know how the draf' gets clear.'
"An' do you know how they did? That bhoy, so I was tould by letter
from Bombay, bully-damned 'em down to the dock, till they cudn't
call their sowls their own. From the time they left me oi till
they was 'tween decks, not wan av thim was more than dacintly
dhrunk. An' by the Holy Articles av War, whin they wint aboord
they cheered him till they cudn't spake, an' that, mark you, has
not come about wid a draf' in the mlm'ry av livin' man! You look
to that little orf'cer bhoy. He has bowils. 'Tis not ivry child
that wud chuck the Rig'lations to Flanders an' stretch Peg Barney
on a wink from a brokin an' dilapidated ould carkiss like mysilf.
I'd be proud to serve -"
"Terence, you're a civilian," said Dinah Shadd warningly.
"So I am - so I am. Is ut likely I wud forget ut? But he was a
gran' bhoy all the same, an' I'm only a mudtipper wid a hod on me
shoulthers. The whiskey's in the heel av your hand, Sorr. Wid your
good lave we'll dhrink to the Ould Rig'mint - three fingers -
And we drank.
THE MUTINEY OF THE MAVERICKS
Sec. 7 (1) - Causing or Conspiring with other persons to cause a
mutiny or sedition in forces belonging to Her Majesty's Regular
forces, Reserve forces, Auxiliary forces, or Navy.
When three obscure gentlemen in San Francisco argued on
insufficient premises they condemned a fellow-creature to a most
unpleasant death in a far country which had nothing whatever to do
with the United States. They foregathered at the top of a
tenement-house in Tehama Street, an unsavoury quarter of the city,
and, there calling for certain drinks, they conspired because they
were conspirators by trade, officially known as the Third Three of
the I. A. A. - an institution for the propagation of pure light,
not to be confounded with any others, though it is affiliated to
many. The Second Three live in Montreal, and work among the poor
there; the First Three have their home in New York, not far from
Castle Garden, and write regularly once a week to a small house
near one of the big hotels at Boulogne. What happens after that, a
particular section of Scotland Yard knows too well and laughs at.
A conspirator detests ridicule. More men have been stabbed with
Lucrezia Borgia daggers and dropped into the Thames for laughing
at Head Centres and Triangles than for betraying secrets; for this
is human nature.
The Third Three conspired over whiskey cocktails and a clean sheet
of note-paper against the British Empire and all that lay therein.
This work is very like what men without discernment call politics
before a general election. You pick out and discuss, in the
company of congenial friends, all the weak points in your
opponents' organisation, and unconsciously dwell upon and
exaggerate all their mishaps, till it seems to you a miracle that
the hated party holds together for an hour.
"Our principle is not so much active demonstration - that we leave
to others - as passive embarrassment, to weaken and unnerve," said
the first man. "Wherever an organisation is crippled, wherever
confusion is thrown into any branch of any department, we gain a
step for those who take on the work; we are but the forerunners."
He was a German enthusiast, and editor of a newspaper, from whose
leading articles he quoted frequently.
"That cursed Empire makes so many blunders of her own that unless
we doubled the year's average I guess it wouldn't strike her
anything special had occurred," said the second man. "Are you
prepared to say that all our resources are equal to blowing off
the muzzle of a hundred-ton gun or spiking a ten-thousand-ton ship
on a plain rock in clear daylight? They can beat us at our own
game. Better join hands with the practical branches; we're in
funds now. Try a direct scare in a crowded street. They value
their greasy hides." He was the drag upon the wheel, and an
Americanised Irishman of the second generation, despising his own
race and hating the other. He had learned caution.
The third man drank his cocktail and spoke no word. He was the
strategist, but unfortunately his knowledge of life was limited.
He picked a letter from his breast-pocket and threw it across the
table. That epistle to the heathen contained some very concise
directions from the First Three in New York.
It said -
"The boom in black iron has already affected the
eastern markets, where our agents have been forcing down the
English-held stock among the smaller buyers who watch the turn of
shares. Any immediate operations, such as western bears, would
increase their willingness to unload. This, however, cannot be
expected till they see clearly that foreign iron-masters are
willing to co-operate. Mulcahy should be dispatched to feel the
pulse of the market, and act accordingly. Mavericks are at present
the best for our purpose.- P. D. Q."
As a message referring to an iron crisis in Pennsylvania, it was
interesting, if not lucid. As a new departure in organized attack
on an outlying English dependency, it was more than interesting.
The second man read it through and murmured -"
Already? Surely they are in too great a hurry. All that Dhulip
Singh could do in India he has done, down to the distribution of
his photographs among the peasantry. Ho! Ho! The Paris firm
arranged that, and he has no substantial money backing from the
Other Power. Even our agents in India know he hasn't. What is the
use of our organisation wasting men on work that is already done?
Of course the Irish regiments in India are half mutinous as they
This shows how near a lie may come to the truth. An Irish
regiment, for just so long as it stands still, is generally a hard
handful to control, being reckless and rough. When, however, it is
moved in the direction of musketry-firing, it becomes strangely
and unpatriotically content with its lot. It has even been heard
to cheer the Queen with enthusiasm on these occasions.
But the notion of tampering with the army was, from the point of
view of Tehama Street, an altogether sound one. There is no shadow
of stability in the policy of an English Government, and the most
sacred oaths of England would, even if engrossed on vellum, find
very few buyers among colonies and dependencies that have suffered
from vain beliefs. But there remains to England always her army.
That cannot change except in the matter of uniform and equipment.
The officers may write to the papers demanding the heads of the
Horse Guards in default of cleaner redress for grievances; the men
may break loose across a country town and seriously startle the
publicans; but neither officers nor men have it in their
composition to mutiny after the continental manner. The English
people, when they trouble to think about the army at all, are, and
with justice, absolutely assured that it is absolutely
trustworthy. Imagine for a moment their emotions on realising that
such and such a regiment was in open revolt from causes directly
due to England's management of Ireland. They would probably send
the regiment to the polls forthwith and examine their own
consciences as to their duty to Erin; but they would never be easy
any more. And it was this vague, unhappy mistrust that the I. A.
A. were labouring to produce.
"Sheer waste of breath," said the second man after a pause in the
council. "I don't see the use of tampering with their fool-army,
but it has been tried before and we must try it again. It looks
well in the reports. If we send one man from here you may bet your
life that other men are going too. Order up Mulcahy."
They ordered him up - a slim, slight, dark-haired young man,
devoured with that blind rancorous hatred of England that only
reaches its full growth across the Atlantic. He had sucked it from
his mother's breast in the little cabin at the back of the
northern avenues of New York; he had been taught his rights and
his wrongs, in German and Irish, on the canal fronts of Chicago;
and San Francisco held men who told him strange and awful things
of the great blind power over the seas. Once, when business took
him across the Atlantic, he had served in an English regiment, and
being insubordinate had suffered extremely. He drew all his ideas
of England that
were not bred by the cheaper patriotic prints from one iron-fisted
colonel and an unbending adjutant.
He would go to the mines if need be to teach his gospel. And he
went, as his instructions advised, p. d. q. - which means "with
speed" - to introduce embarrassment into an Irish regiment,
"already half-mutinous, quartered among Sikh peasantry, all
wearing miniatures of His Highness Dhulip Singh, Maharaja of the
Punjab, next their hearts, and all eagerly expecting his arrival."
Other information equally valuable was given him by his masters.
He was to be cautious, but never to grudge expense in winning the
hearts of the men in the regiment. His mother in New York would
supply funds, and he was to write to her once a month. Life is
pleasant for a man who has a mother in New York to send him two
hundred pounds a year over and above his regimental pay.
In process of time, thanks to his intimate knowledge of drill and
musketry exercise, the excellent Mulcahy, wearing the corporal's
stripe, went out in a troopship and joined Her Majesty's Royal
Loyal Musketeers, commonly known as the "Mavericks," because they
were masterless and unbranded cattle - sons of small farmers in
County Clare, shoeless vagabonds of Kerry, herders of Ballyvegan,
much wanted "moonlighters" from the bare rainy headlands of the
south coast, officered by O'Mores, Bradys, Hills, Kilreas, and the
like. Never to outward seeming was there more promising material
to work on. The First Three had chosen their regiment well. It
feared nothing that moved or talked save the colonel and the
regimental Roman Catholic chaplain, the fat Father Dennis, who
held the keys of heaven and hell, and blared like an angry bull
when he desired to be convincing. Him also it loved because on
occasions of stress he was used to tuck up his cassock and charge
with the rest into the merriest of the fray, where he always
found, good man, that the saints sent him a revolver when there
was a fallen private to be protected, or - but this came as an
his own gray head to be guarded.
Cautiously as he had been instructed, tenderly and with much beer,
Mulcahy opened his projects to such as he deemed fittest to
listen. And these were, one and all, of that quaint, crooked,
sweet, profoundly irresponsible and profoundly lovable race that
fight like fiends, argue like children, reason like women, obey
like men, and jest like their own goblins of the rath through
rebellion, loyalty, want, woe, or war. The underground work of a
conspiracy is always dull and very much the same the world over.
At the end of six months - the seed always falling on good ground
- Mulcahy spoke almost explicitly, hinting darkly in the approved
fashion at dread powers behind him, and advising nothing more nor
less than mutiny. Were they not dogs, evilly treated? had they not
all their own and their national revenges to satisfy? Who in these
days would do aught to nine hundred men in rebellion? Who, again,
could stay them if they broke for the sea, licking up on their way
other regiments only too anxious to join? And afterwards . . .
here followed windy promises of gold and preferment, office and
honour, ever dear to a certain type of Irishman.
As he finished his speech, in the dusk of a twilight, to his
chosen associates, there was a sound of a rapidly unslung belt
behind him. The arm of one Dan Grady flew out in the gloom and
arrested something. Then said Dan -
"Mulcahy, you're a great man, an' you do credit to whoever sent
you. Walk about a bit while we think of it." Mulcahy departed
elate. He knew his words would sink deep.
"Why the triple-dashed asterisks did ye not let me belt him'?"
grunted a voice.
"Because I'm not a fat-headed fool. Boys, 'tis what he's been
driving at these six months - our superior corp'ril with his
education and his copies of the Irish papers and his everlasting
beer. He's been sent for the purpose, and that's where the money
comes from. Can ye not see? That man's a gold-mine, which Horse
Egan here would have destroyed with a belt-buckle. It would be
throwing away the gifts of Providence not to fall in with his
little plans. Of coorse we'll mut'ny till all's dry. Shoot the
colonel on the parade-ground, massacree the company officers,
ransack the arsenal, and then - Boys, did he tell you what next?
He told me the other night when he was beginning to talk wild.
Then we're to join with the niggers, and look for help from Dhulip
Singh and the Russians!"
"And spoil the best campaign that ever was this side of Hell!
Danny, I'd have lost the beer to ha' given him the belting he
"Oh, let him go this awhile, man! He's got no - no
constructiveness, but that's the egg-meat of his plan, and you
must understand that I'm in with it, an' so are you. We'll want
oceans of beer to convince us - firmaments full. We'll give him
talk for his money, and one by one all the boys'll come in and
he'll have a nest of nine hundred mutineers to squat in an' give
"What makes me killing-mad is his wanting us to do what the
niggers did thirty years gone. That an' his pig's cheek in saying
that other regiments would come along," said a Kerry man.
"That's not so bad as hintin' we should loose off on the colonel."
"Colonel be sugared! I'd as soon as not put a shot through his
helmet to see him jump and clutch his old horse's head. But
Mulcahy talks o' shootin' our comp'ny orf'cers accidental."
"He said that, did he?" said Horse Egan.
"Somethin' like that, anyways. Can't ye fancy ould Barber Brady
wid a bullet in his lungs, coughin' like a sick monkey, an'
sayin', 'Bhoys, I do not mind your gettin' dhrunk, but you must
hould your liquor like men. The man that shot me is dhrunk. I'll
suspend investigations for six hours, while I get this bullet cut
out, and then -'"
"'An' then," continued Horse Egan, for the peppery Major's
peculiarities of speech and manner were as well known as his
tanned face; "'an' then, ye dissolute, half-baked, putty-faced
scum o' Connemara, if I find a man so much as lookin' confused,
begad, I'll coort-martial the whole company. A man that can't get
over his liquor in six hours is not fit to belong to the
A shout of laughter bore witness to the truth of the sketch.
"It's pretty to think of," said the Kerry man slowly. "Mulcahy
would have us do all the devilmint, and get clear himself,
someways. He wudn't be takin' all this fool's throuble in
shpoilin' the reputation of the regimint -"
"Reputation of your grandmother's pig!" said Dan.
"Well, an' he had a good reputation tu; so it's all right. Mulcahy
must see his way to clear out behind him, or he'd not ha' come so
far, talkin' powers of darkness."
"Did you hear anything of a regimental coortmartial among the
Black Boneens, these days? Half a company of 'em took one of the
new draft an' hanged him by his arms with a tent-rope from a
third-story verandah. They gave no reason for so doin', but he was
half dead. I'm thinking that the Boneens are short-sighted. It was
a friend of Mulcahy's, or a man in the same trade. They'd a deal
better ha' taken his beer," returned Dan reflectively.
"Better still ha' handed him up to the Colonel," said Horse Egan,
"onless - but sure the news wud be all over the counthry an' give
the reg'ment a bad name."
"An' there'd be no reward for that man - he but went about
talkin'," said the Kerry man artlessly.
"You speak by your breed," said Dan, with a laugh. "There was
never a Kerry man yet that wudn't sell his brother for a pipe o'
tobacco an' a pat on the back from a p'liceman."
"Praise God I'm not a bloomin' Orangeman," was the answer.
"No, nor never will be," said Dan. "They breed men in Ulster.
Would you like to thry the taste of one?"
The Kerry man looked and longed, but forbore. The odds of battle
were too great.
"Then you'll not even give Mulcahy a - a strike for his money,"
said the voice of Horse Egan, who regarded what he called
"trouble" of any kind as the pinnacle of felicity.
Dan answered not at all, but crept on tip-toe, with long strides,
to the mess-room, the men following. The room was empty. In a
corner, cased like the King of Dahomey's state umbrella, stood the
regimental Colours. Dan lifted them tenderly and unrolled in the
light of the candles the record of the Mavericks - tattered, worn,
and hacked. The white satin was darkened everywhere with big brown
stains, the gold threads on the crowned harp were frayed and
discoloured, and the Red Bull, the totem of the Mavericks, was
coffee-hued. The stiff, embroidered folds, whose price is human
life, rustled down slowly. The Mavericks keep their colours long
and guard them very sacredly.
"Vittoria, Salamanca, Toulouse, Waterloo, Moodkee, Ferozshah, an'
Sobraon - that was fought close next door here, against the very
beggars he wants us to join. Inkerman, The Alma, Sebastopol! 'What
are those little businesses compared to the campaigns of General
Mulcahy? The Mut'ny, think o' that; the Mut'ny an' some dirty
little matters in Afghanistan; an' for that an' these an' those" -
Dan pointed to the names of glorious battles - "that Yankee man
with the partin' in his hair comes an' says as easy as 'have a
drink' . . . Holy Moses, there's the captain!"
But it was the mess-sergeant who came in just as the men clattered
out, and found the colours uncased.
From that day dated the mutiny of the Mavericks, to the joy of
Mulcahy and the pride of his mother in New York - the good lady
who sent the money for the beer. Never, so far as words went, was
such a mutiny. The conspirators, led by Dan Grady and Horse Egan,
poured in daily. They were sound men, men to be trusted, and they
all wanted blood; but first they must have beer. They cursed the
Queen, they mourned over Ireland, they suggested hideous plunder
of the Indian country-side, and then, alas - some of the younger
men would go forth and wallow on the ground in spasms of wicked
laughter The genius of the Irish for conspiracies is remarkable.
None the less they would swear no oaths but those of their own
making, which were rare and curious, and they were always at pains
to impress Mulcahy with the risks they ran. Naturally the flood of
beer wrought demoralisation. But Mulcahy confused the causes of
things, and when a very muzzy Maverick smote a sergeant on the
nose or called his commanding officer a bald-headed old lard-
bladder and even worse names, he fancied that rebellion and not
liquor was at the bottom of the outbreak. Other gentlemen who have
concerned themselves in larger conspiracies have made the same
The hot season, in which they protested no man could rebel, came
to an end, and Mulcahy suggested a visible return for his
teachings. As to the actual upshot of the mutiny he cared nothing.
It would be enough if the English, infatuatedly trusting to the
integrity of their army, should be startled with news of an Irish
regiment revolting from political considerations. His persistent
demands would have ended, at Dan's instigation, in a regimental
belting which in all probability would have killed him and cut off
the supply of beer, had not he been sent on special duty some
fifty miles away from the Cantonment to cool his heels in a mud
fort and dismount obsolete artillery. Then the colonel of the
Mavericks, reading his newspaper diligently, and scenting Frontier
trouble from afar, posted to the army headquarters and pled with
the Commander-in-chief for certain privileges, to be granted under
certain contingencies,; which contingencies came about only a week
later, when the annual little war on the border developed itself
and the colonel returned to carry the good news to the Mavericks.
He held the promise of the Chief for active service, and the men
must get ready.
On the evening of the same day, Mulcahy, an unconsidered corporal
- yet great in conspiracy - returned to cantonments, and heard
sounds of strife and howlings from afar off. The mutiny had broken
out and the barracks of the Mavericks were one white-washed
pandemonium. A private tearing through the barrack-square, gasped
in his ear, "Service! Active service. It's a burnin' shame." Oh
joy, the Mavericks had risen on the eve of battle! They would not
- noble and loyal sons of Ireland - serve the Queen longer. The
news would flash through the country-side and over to England, and
he - Mulcahy - the trusted of the Third Three, had brought about
the crash. The private stood in the middle of the square and
cursed colonel, regiment, officers, and doctor, particularly the
doctor, by his gods. An orderly of the native cavalry regiment
clattered through the mob of soldiers. He was half lifted, half
dragged from his horse, beaten on the back with mighty hand-claps
till his eyes watered, and called all manner of endearing names.
Yes, the Mavericks had fraternized with the native troops. Who
then was the agent among the latter that had blindly wrought with
Mulcahy so well?
An officer slunk, almost ran, from the mess to a barrack. He was
mobbed by the infuriated soldiery, who closed round but did not
kill him, for he fought his way to shelter, flying for the life.
Mulcahy could have wept with pure joy and thankfulness. The very
prisoners in the guard-room were shaking the bars of their cells
and howling like wild beasts, and from every barrack poured the
booming as of a big war-drum.
Mulcahy hastened to his own barrack. He could hardly hear himself
speak. Eighty men were pounding with fist and heel the tables and
trestles - eighty men, flushed with mutiny, stripped to their
shirt sleeves, their knapsacks half-packed for the march to the
sea, made the two-inch boards thunder again as they chanted, to a
tune that Mulcahy knew well, the Sacred War Song of the Mavericks-
Listen in the north, my boys, there's trouble on the wind;
Tramp o' Cossack hooves in front, gray great-coats behind,
Trouble on the Frontier of a most amazin' kind,
Trouble on the waters o' the Oxus!
Then, as the table broke under the furious accompaniment -
Hurrah! hurrah! it's north by west we go;
Hurrah! hurrah! the chance we wanted so;
Let 'em hear the chorus from Umballa to Moscow,
As we go marchin' to the Kremling.
"Mother of all the saints in bliss and all the devils in cinders,
where's my fine new sock widout the heel?" howled Horse Egan,
ransacking everybody's valise but his own. He was engaged in
making up deficiencies of kit preparatory to a campaign, and in
that work he steals best who steals last. "Ah, Mulcahy, you're in
good time," he shouted, "We've got the route, and we're off on
Thursday for a pic-nic wid the Lancers next door."
An ambulance orderly appeared with a huge basket full of lint
rolls, provided by the forethought of the Queen for such as might
need them later on. Horse Egan unrolled his bandage, and flicked
it under Mulcahy's nose, chanting -
"Sheepskin an' bees' wax, thunder, pitch, and plaster,
The more you try to pull it off, the more it sticks the faster.
As I was goin' to New Orleans -
"You know the rest of it, my Irish American-Jew boy. By gad, ye
have to fight for the Queen in the inside av a fortnight, my
A roar of laughter interrupted. Mulcahy looked vacantly down the
room. Bid a boy defy his father when the pantomime-cab is at the
door, or a girl develop a will of her own when her mother is
putting the last touches to the first ball-dress, but do not ask
an Irish regiment to embark upon mutiny on the eve of a campaign,
when it has fraternised with the native regiment that accompanies
it, and driven its officers into retirement with ten thousand
clamorous questions, and the
prisoners dance for joy, and the sick men stand in the open
calling down all known diseases on the head of the doctor, who has
certified that they are
"medically unfit for active service." At even the Mavericks might
have been mistaken for mutineers by one so unversed in their
natures as Mulcahy. At dawn a girls' school might have learned
deportment from them. They knew that their
colonel's hand had closed, and that he who broke that iron
discipline would not go to the front: nothing in the world will
persuade one of our soldiers, when he is ordered to the north on
the smallest of affairs, that he is not immediately going
gloriously to slay Cossacks and cook his kettles in the palace of
the Czar. A few of the younger men mourned for Mulcahy's beer,
because the campaign was to be conducted on strict temperance
principles, but as Dan and Horse Egan said sternly, "We've got the
beer-man with us. He shall drink now on his own hook."
Mulcahy had not taken into account the possibility of being sent
on active service. He had made up his mind that he would not go
under any circumstances, but fortune was against him.
"Sick-you?" said the doctor, who had served an unholy
apprenticeship to his trade in Tralee poorhouses. "You're only
home-sick, and what you call varicose veins come from over-eating.
A little gentle exercise will cure that." And later, "Mulcahy, my
man, everybody is allowed to apply for a sick-certificate once. If
he tries it twice we call him by an ugly name. Go back to your
duty, and let's hear no more of your diseases."
I am ashamed to say that Horse Egan enjoyed the study of Mulcahy's
soul in those days, and Dan took an equal interest. Together they
would communicate to their corporal all the dark lore of death
which is the portion of those who have
seen men die. Egan had the larger experience, but Dan the finer
imagination. Mulcahy shivered when the former spoke of the knife
as an intimate acquaintance, or the latter dwelt with loving
particularity on the fate of those who, wounded and helpless, had
been overlooked by the ambulances, and had fallen into the hands
of the Afghan women-folk.
Mulcahy knew that the mutiny, for the present at least, was dead;
knew, too, that a change had come over Dan's usually respectful
attitude towards him, and Horse Egan's laughter and frequent
allusions to abortive conspiracies emphasised all that the
conspirator had guessed. The horrible fascination of the death-
stories, however, made him seek the men's society. He learned much
more than he had bargained for; and in this manner. It was on the
last night before the regiment entrained to the front. The
barracks were stripped of everything movable, and the men were too
excited to sleep. The bare walls gave out a heavy hospital smell
of chloride of lime.
"And what," said Mulcahy in an awe-stricken whisper, after some
conversation on the eternal subject, "are you going to do to me,
Dan?" This might have been the language of an able conspirator
conciliating a weak spirit.
"You'll see," said Dan grimly, turning over in his cot, "or I
rather shud say you'll not see."
This was hardly the language of a weak spirit. Mulcahy shook under
"Bc easy with him," put in Egan from the next cot. "He has got his
chanst o' goin' clean. Listen, Mulcahy, all we want is for the
good sake of the regiment that you take your death standing up, as
a man shud. There's be heaps an' heaps of enemy - plenshus heaps.
Go there an' do all you can and die decent. You'll die with a good
name there. 'Tis not a hard thing considerin'."
Again Mulcahy shivered.
"An' how could a man wish to die better than fightin'?" added Dan
"And if I won't?" said the corporal in a dry whisper.
"There'll be a dale of smoke," returned Dan, sitting up and
ticking off the situation on his fingers, "sure to be, an' the
noise of the firin'll be tremenjus, an' we'll be running about up
and down, the regiment will. But we, Horse and I - we'll stay by
you, Mulcahy, and never let you go. Maybe there'll be an
"It's playing it low on me. Let me go. For pity's sake, let me go.
I never did you harm, and - and I stood you as much beer as I
could. Oh, don't be hard on me, Dan! You are - you were in it too.
You won't kill me up there, will you?"
"I'm not thinkin' of the treason; though you shud be glad any
honest boys drank with you. It's for the regiment. We can't have
the shame o' you bringin' shame on us. You went to the doctor
quiet as a sick cat to get and stay behind an' live with the women
at the depot - you that wanted us to run to the sea in wolf-packs
like the rebels none of your black blood dared to be! But we knew
about your goin' to the doctor, for he told in mess, and it's all
over the regiment. Bein', as we are, your best friends, we didn't
allow any one to molest you yet. We will see to you ourselves.
Fight which you will - us or the enemy you'll never lie in that
cot again, and there's more glory and maybe less kicks from
fightin' the enemy. That's fair speakin'."
"And he told us by word of mouth to go and join with the niggers -
you've forgotten that, Dan," said Horse Egan, to justify sentence.
"What's the use of plaguin'' the man? One shot pays for all. Sleep
ye sound, Mulcahy. But you onderstand, do ye not?"
Mulcahy for some weeks understood very little of anything at all
save that ever at his elbow, in camp or at parade, stood two big
men with soft voices adjuring him to commit hari-kari lest a worse
thing should happen - to die for the honour of the regiment in
decency among the nearest knives. But Mulcahy dreaded death. He
remembered certain things that priests had said in his infancy,
and his mother - not the one at New York - starting from her sleep
with shrieks to pray for a husband's soul in torment. It is well
to be of a cultured intelligence, but in time of trouble the weak
human mind returns to the creed it sucked in at the breast, and if
that creed be not a pretty one trouble follows. Also, the death he
would have to face would be physically painful. Most conspirators
have large imaginations. Mulcahy could see himself, as he lay on
the earth in the night, dying by various causes. They were all
horrible; the mother in New York was very far away, and the
Regiment, the engine that, once you fall in its grip, moves you
forward whether you will or won't, was daily coming closer to the
They were brought to the field of MarzunKatai, and with the Black
Boneens to aid, they fought a fight that has never been set down
in the newspapers. In response, many believe, to the fervent
prayers of Father Dennis, the enemy not only elected to fight in
the open, but made a beautiful fight, as many weeping Irish
mothers knew later. They gathered behind walls or flickered across
the open in shouting masses, and were pot-valiant in artillery. It
was expedient to hold a large reserve and wait for the
psychological moment that was being prepared by the shrieking
shrapnel. Therefore the Mavericks lay down in open order on the
brow of a hill to watch the play till their call should come.
Father Dennis, whose duty was in the rear, to smooth the trouble
of the wounded, had naturally managed to make his way to the
foremost of his boys, and lay like a black porpoise, at length on
the grass. To him crawled Mulcahy, ashen-gray, demanding
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